Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Regimen Sanitatis (Author: [unknown])


Foreword to the Digital Edition

This digital edition of the Regimen Sanitatis, edited by H. Cameron Gillies, and published 1911 by Glasgow University Press, is the first Irish medical text published by the Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) on the Internet.

It is based on British Library MS Add. 15582 and was copied in 1563 by Aodh Ó Cendamhain whose scribal signature is on f. 11rbz. Professor Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadh has pointed out to me that 'there were at least three scribes, Aodh Ó Cendamain, Cairbre, and Daibhí Ó Cearnaigh', and that there is no certainty if Aodh copied the whole text, until the distribution of MS hands is re-examined again.

Gillies' edition was chosen for various reasons: It touches on the interconnections between the Gaelic world of Ireland and Scotland with continental science and scholarship in that pivotal transition period from the late Middle Ages to the emerging Renaissance. It throws light on the process of transmitting, translating and adapting Latin medical tracts into a West European vernacular, undertaken by hereditary physicians from medical schools. It is of interest for the social history of the era, of great interest for lexicography, and it is one of the few edited texts of this vast manuscript body. Moreover, Gillies' edition is in the public domain.

In the printed edition, Gillies' transliteration is accompanied by reproductions of the MS, described by him as ‘quite legible’ (p. 1). There are no digital images of this MS available yet, but digital images of a late 15th century or early 16th century vellum manuscript containing the same text, National Library of Ireland G 12, are available on the ISOS Project website:

In preparing the edition, our intention has been to make the major part of the text available, including introduction, transliteration, translation, and editor's notes. The /SGML/XML master file contains structural and content encoding (regularized forms, corrections, deletions, etc.). From the master document a number of smaller files and a single file containing the whole text in HTML format are derived for display in web browsers. The single HTML file contains markedly less encoding than the master file. The HTML file is the basis for the plaintext format, which in turn is stripped of all encoding and notes. There is a small number of Greek characters and apothecaries' symbols, such as 'ounce', 'dragma' and 'scruple' which, regrettably, are not supported yet and cannot be displayed.

CELT is switching from SGML to XML as its markup language. There are far-reaching implications for text processing and display quality:

(1) XML supports all unicode characters; (2) conversion of text to static HTML versions, and the related loss of encoded information will be a thing of the past. The XML master file will be underlying source for creating HTML files 'on the fly' each time a page is loaded in the browser. An XSLT stylesheet acts as intervening instance controlling the manner in which the underlying information is transformed into HTML. It is possible, with multiple XSLT stylesheets for the same master document, to create customised HTML versions, for instance one showing the transcribed text, and another showing the edited text. In the case of variant readings (which we do not have for this edition) there could be an XSLT stylesheet showing the different readings of each manuscript separately.

The transliteration was left as it is apart from slight editorial changes. These include capitalizing proper names, and providing regularized name forms using the reg attribute inside the name markup for easier searching.

Gillies' rendering of expressions such as 'dothabhairt', 'gominic', 'afhis', 'intan', etc. was brought in line with general usage by writing them separately. The forms used by Gillies in the edition are retained in the master file in the 'reg' (regularization) tag which has an 'orig' (original) attribute: reg orig="gominic"go minic/reg. An unexpected difficulty presented itself in cases where his rendering in the orig tag differed from the MS original, whether through MS misreadings or typographical errors.

Gillies' remarks on letters marked by the 'punctum delens', and his notes dealing with textual emendations are integrated into the encoding. His other notes are integrated into the main text, and displayed as popup windows in the HTML file (such as the note to col. 17 l. 32; col. 20 l. 9, l. 24; col. 26 l. 31). A few notes not containing relevant material were omitted, such as col. 19 l. 9, col. 17, l. 26; and 'Further Notes' under col. 29.) Readers will note that the spelling of words and phrases in the notes sometimes differs from that shown in the transliteration: such as col.7 t'singcoipis(n)—tshingcoipis(t); col.8 fundamínt(n)—fundamint(t); col.9 caindighect na nithead(n)—caindighecht na neithead(t); col.10 linadh tadhbais(n)—línadh tadhbais(t), foirbhearteos, to name but a few. Overall, he tends to expand the many MS abbreviations of the Early Modern Irish manuscript in the Scottish Gaelic manner.

In cross-references within his notes, he refers to column and line of the manuscript. Since the digital edition allows text search, this should not present any problem.

Gillies himself calls his translation 'stilted', but very literal, as ‘the diction of the old medical Empirics [...] is [...] in concept wholly unintelligible to the mind of the present day’ (13) and he perceives an ‘immeasurable and irreconcileable difference between the Gaelic and the English idioms’ (14). His aim has been ‘to conserve as much of the flavour of the original’ (14) as possible.

Finally it is my pleasure to record my thanks to Professor Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadh from the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, for reading the SGML file, and for her generous and invaluable help in correcting errors, and offering suggestions to improve this edition.

Beatrix Färber, CELT


This tract Regimen Sanitatis or the Rule of Health is from a Gaelic Medical Manuscript which I found at the British Museum. The MS. (catalogued as Add. 15582) consists of sixty-two vellum folios, the same size as is here reproduced. The cover is skin-covered board ornamented by simple straight-line devices. The front board has two sides of the original pair of silver clasps still attached, the other parts are wanting. The vellum is in a very fair state of preservation, and the writing, as may be seen from the photographic reproduction, is quite legible. Without doubt this book belonged to John MacBeath, one of the very remarkable family of that name who were hereditary physicians to the Lords of the Isles and to the Kings of Scotland for several centuries. The volume remained in the MacBeath family for many generations, but how it found its way into England, I fear, cannot now be surely known. The only indication is that it was ‘purchased of Thos. Rodd 9th August 1845’ —by the Museum—but how it came into Rodd's hands is not known. There is another MacBeath book also lying here (catalogued as Add. 15403), a smaller vellum treating of Materia Medica. It also was got through Rodd, a well-known London bookseller who took up his father's business in 1821, and died 1849. In this volume, on inserted paper leaves in the front, occur these statements: (1) ‘Presented by Sir Wm. Betham [to the Duke of Sussex?] May 24th 1827—MS. on Botany in the Irish character’; (2) ‘Purchased at the Sussex Sale 31st July 1844 by Thorpe and of him (through Rodd) for B.M. 10 Aug. 1845.’ It is very likely that the two volumes came by the same way, so


far. Sir Wm. Betham was Keeper of the Records of Dublin Castle from 1805 onwards until he was made Ulster King of Arms in 1820. He was devoted to philology and to the Gaelic language especially, and wrote extensively upon Keltic subjects. He died at Blackrock near Dublin in 1853. The Duke of Sussex (1773-1846) was sixth son of George III. and a president of the Royal Society.

The Macbeaths

The only methodical attempts as yet made to endeavour to get the long history of this family into anything like order have been (1) by Professor Mackinnon in two valuable articles written to the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1896, (2) by myself in an essay written for the Caledonian Medical Society in 1902, published in the Society's Journal for April of that year, and (3) by Professor Mackinnon again upon ‘The Genealogy of the MacBeths or Beatons of Islay and Mull’, which was published in the same Journal ( C.M.J.) in July of the same year. I here summarise these efforts, and try to get them into such order as I may be able to—with any additional facts I may have lately culled. This will give a more direct and intelligent interest to the text than could be possible without it. It will also serve as a basis for further investigation and addition.

The name MacBeath (as I here prefer it) is very variously written in the old manuscripts and in books. It is Mac-bead, Book of Deer 11th cent., M'Betha 1408, Beatone 1511, Meg Beth 1563, Micbhethadh 1587, MacBeath 1609, Beatoun 1638, M'Bethadh 1657, Betonus 1674, Bettounus 1677, Beda 1680—but older far—Maigbheta 1701, Maig Bhetha 1708. In the MSS. of the Advocates' Library the dates of which are not yet fixed, it occurs as Betune II, Meigbetadh IV, Maigbheta V, Magbeta XX, Makbetathe, M'Veagh Beattoun and Beattounne XXI. It has become Peudan (Peden) in Skye and Biotun in Mull. Bethune also occurs associated with the MacBeaths, but as this


family is said to have come from Fife it is doubtful if they were at all related in name or blood. There may have been an overlapping or an intermixture of the names, but the basic name is that given.

The true forms of the family name, such as Bead, Beda, Macbheatha and Macbheathadh, mean ‘Son of life’, following a very old form of Gaelic naming, perhaps the oldest, many others of which remain with us to the present day.

Other important facts relating to this family are, in—

1379. Farquhar (medicus regis) had a grant from Prince Alexander Stuart (The Wolf of Badenoch) of the lands of Melness and Hope, and in—

1386. Ferchard Leiche, ‘Farquhar the physician’, got in heritage from King Robert II. the islands of Jura, Calwa, Sanda, Ellangawne, Ellanwillighe, Ellanrone, Ellanehoga, Ellanequochra, Ellanegelye, Ellaneyefe, and all the islands between Rowestorenastynghe and Rowearmadale—Rudh' a' Stóir an Assaint and Rudh' Armadail.

1408. Fercos Macbetha witnesses, and almost certainly draws, a deed of land-grant in Islay to Brian Vicaire Mhag-aodh from McDomhnaill—the Macdonald of the Isles who led the Highlanders at the battle of Harlaw, 24th July, 1411. His father, John, Lord of the Isles, was married to Lady Margaret Stuart, daughter of Robert II. This deed is reproduced in Nat. MSS. Scot. Vol. ii. No. lix., and in The Book of Islay, and in the C.M.J. for April, 1902. The lands here granted are situated in the Oa extending across from Kilneachtoin to Laggan Bay.

1511. Donold M'Donachy or M'Corrachie (simply the same name mis-written because most likely mis-spoken), ‘descendit frae Farquhar Leiche’, resigned the lands of Melness and Hope and all the lands of Strathnaver, in favour of the Chief of the Mackays. Donnachadh (Duncan) was a favourite name with the MacBeaths, and the M'Donachy, M'Corrachie (for MacDhonnachaidh) and the Connachers of Lorn are one and the same name. Donchad M'Meic Bead occurs in The Book of Deer.


Duncan Conacher wrote a medical work at Dunollie in this same year, which is still extant.

In 1511 a David Beatone was among the Nomina incorporatorum of the University of Glasgow, and from that time onwards through three centuries the Roll contains such names as Johannus Beatonus, Fergus Betonius, Duncan Beatonus, Donaldus Beatonus, etc.

1563. Another Tract of this same MS., mostly surgical, was written for John MacBeath by David O'Kearny. It was published, C.M.J. April, 1902.

1587. Under this date there is a Gaelic entry in the Laing MS. (Adv. xxi.) that the book then belonged to Gilcolum son of Gilanders son of Donald MacBeath.

In Adv. iii. (which I have at the B.M., by the courtesy of the Directors, for the purpose of reference) there occurs on the second folio from the end, in the top margin, ‘Misi Gilla Colaim I am Gilla-colum’.

1598. The MS. was in possession of James MacBeath at Tain. It was evidently lent him by John, the real owner, whose mother had in that year made a journey to Islay.—C.M.J.

1609. James VI. confirms to Fergus M'Beath by charter certain lands in the Oa of Islay which his family had held from the Lords of the Isles in virtue of their office as hereditary physicians ‘ab omni hominum memoria’. The full text of the charter is given in the C.M.J.

1629. These lands were sold by John the son of Fergus to the Lord Lorne of the time and the charter found its way to Inveraray, where it is preserved.

1638. A James Betoun, ‘doctor of physicke’, made a ‘voyage’ from Edinburgh to Islay professionally twice, as would seem, in this year. In the Accounts of Colin and George Campbell—brothers and curators successively of John Campbell Fiar of Calder (1638-1653)—there appears an item of payment to the said James of £266 13s. 4d. for his first journey ‘as his ticket of reseate bearis’, and of £178 8s. for the second, and a further


sum of £101 6s. 8d. paid to Patrick Hepburn ‘for drogis that went in Doctour Beatoune his companie to Illa’.

1657. The Laing MS. then belonged to a Donald MacBeath as an entry shows.

1657. John, a distinguished member of the Mull branch—the famous Ollamh Muileach, died. He was buried in Iona, where Donald Beaton in 1674 placed a slab to his memory bearing the inscription Joannes Betonus, Maclenorum familie medicus qui mortuus est 19 Novembris 1657.

1671. ‘Ioannus Bettonnus’ possessed the MS. Adv. iii., for he says ‘egrape to cheir autón’, 1671, evidently intended to mean 'written with his own hand', and E M'B appears in a small circular mended patch on the inside of the cover.

1700. Martin wrote his Travels, where he makes interesting references to the Beatons. He states among other things that ‘Dr. Beaton the famous physician of Mull’ was sitting on the upper deck of the Florida, one of the vessels of the Spanish Armada, when it was blown up in the bay of Tobermory in 1588, but that he escaped unhurt.

1701. A John MacBeath possessed the MS. Adv. v.

1708. This MS. (15582) was in the possession of John MacBeath. His name is written under 25th May of that year.

1710. The same name is written under ‘20 die Junii’. Although the writing of this name and that of 1708 are very different, it is almost certainly that of the same John.

1778. The Rev. Thomas White of Liberton who married a Miss Bethune of Skye wrote a pamphlet giving a genealogy of the Skye branch from a manuscript to which he had access. This was reprinted by Mackenzie of Glasgow in 1887 for a Mr. Kenneth Maclennan.

1784. The Rev. Donald Macqueen gave a Gaelic copy of the Lilium Medicinae, which belonged to the Beatons ‘for five generations before’, to the Society of Antiquaries.


The Substance of the Text

Even if this book may not add very much to the sum of our present medical knowledge it is nevertheless of extreme interest from the human and historical aspect as well as from the point of view of the physician and the scholar. To find men in the far North and in the Western Isles of Scotland who, in those early centuries, were familiar with, and had well digested all that was best in the medical literature of Greece and Rome and Araby is more than, let us say, Lord Macaulay would give them credit for; and it would surely surprise Samuel Johnson to find that there was a great mass of Gaelic scientific writing lying unknown, for long ages, before he declared that there was not one page in the language beyond a hundred years old. It was so, however, even if Dr. Johnson did not know, and even if Lord Macaulay to his utter discredit did not want to.

The generalisations of the first chapter are so completely comprehensive and yet so extremely precise and logical, that we may doubt if they have ever been, or can be, improved upon. Conservatiuum, Preservatiuum, and Reductiuum round the whole duty of man regarding his health in the most perfect way, and perhaps in the very best form of words. Conservatiuum is the duty of those in health; or, as we might say, an intelligent understanding of the conditions of health and life, and a rightly careful application of this most useful and saving knowledge, to conserve the healthful state, is the first and highest duty of everyone. That is what Conservation means, or as Dr. Standish O'Grady has put it with almost a stroke of genius, ‘Keep as you are’.

Preservatiuum, again, is for those who know by any signs that they are departing from the fully healthy state and are going into unhealth and weakness ‘that is proper and necessary’ for them, and very urgently so, if they are to save themselves from a much worse state.


Reductiuum is for those who, failing to apply their common sense in the earlier, easier positions, must now be led back, through suffering and sorrow and loss and expense, the same way as that by which they ignorantly or foolishly came down—back to and through the Preservatiuum or ‘fore-seeing’ position where they could have saved themselves before, and up to the position at which Conservatiuum would have made their decline and dis-ease impossible—that is, if they ever get back there again. How very often do we hear a man say, ‘Since that last illness, I have not been myself at all; I find I must be careful now.’ This is the very essence of wisdom, but it has been dearly bought—perfection through suffering surely, for very much less 'care' at the proper time would have saved him from the whole catastrophe. Much more rarely we hear, ‘Since that last illness I have been a new man.’ This simply means that a man who has been drawing too much upon his life and health has been ‘pulled up’, and through long and careful Reductio he has been led back fortunately to his first position of apparently good health. Conservatiuum is the position for thoughtful, sensible men. Preservatiuum is the position at which natural warnings show themselves and should be understood and obeyed. Reductiuum is the whip-lash of compulsion which comes really to save and not to destroy, but which even in the best event can only attain, through suffering and sore uphill travail, to the position of less or more of the health which with some sense should never have been lost or departed from.

The sensefulness of this single chapter alone, if people would only understand and act upon it, would fully justify the labour and expense entailed by this work, apart altogether from its aim in other directions.

I do not analyse the contents of the Tract. It will reveal itself. It is full of wisdom—the filtrate, so to say, of a thousand years of very clear thought, and the essence of writings that are permanent. The very admirable morning ‘toilet’ of the Third Chapter is, however, commended to the attention


of such as perhaps may be disposed to believe Lord Macaulay's gross travesty of the personal habits of his own people. We must remember that this was before the advent of the household bath and the tooth-brush. It is therefore a very excellent and very wholesome direction, indeed.

The Genesis of the Book

John MacBeath (and I here use his name as representative of the whole family, others of them doubtless contributing also) kept a Note Book, a Vade Mecum, in which he stored the sum and essence of his reading, compiled and translated from the many ancient authors which we know he had in his possession. He added pertinent comments and observations of his own, based upon his necessarily wide experience. All this was set down in the Scottish Gaelic of the time, which really did not differ very much from the Irish language of the same period. The compilation was not intended for publication, but was simply a practical memoriola such as many thoughtful physicians keep even in our day and place, when it is not nearly so necessary as it was in the MacBeaths' time and circumstances. He gave his manuscripts over to a professional Irish scribe in order that the substance might be written in the best and most compact form, and that is how we have them now. This Tract was written by Aodh O'Cendainn, as is shown in the last line of column xiv. of the text. A Cairpre O'Cendamhainn wrote at least part of the Laing MS. (Adv. xxi.). These may have been brothers. A similar thing happens in the case of another Tract in this same book which was written by two O'Kearneys—David and Cairpre (C.M.J. April, 1902). That these men were mere copyists knowing little or nothing of Medicine or its terminology is abundantly evident from the numerous miswritings that occur throughout all their work. It is also clear that they had their materials before them in Scottish Gaelic form, because we frequently find that when they take their eye off the ‘copy’ they


at once drift into the writing of Irish forms—especially of the smaller commoner words.

The MacBeath knowledge by reading seems to have included all the best that was available in their time. Martin ‘Gent’, himself a man of Skye, the interesting, observant, and very intelligent traveller, writing in 1700, states that ‘Fergus Beaton in South Uist possessed the following MSS., namely Avicenna, Averroes, Joannes de Vigo, Bernardus Gordonus, and several volumes of Hippocrates.’ These names and many others of the medical classics meet us constantly in the MacBeath writings. John might have sat for his portrait to Chaucer of his ‘Doctour of Phisik’ in the fourteenth century, for

    1. Wel knewe he the olde Esculapius
      And Dioscorides and eke Rufus,
      Olde Ippocras, Haly and Gaylen,
      Serapion, Razis and Avycen,
      Averrois, Damascien and Constantyn,
      Bernard and Gatesden and Gilbertyn.

It will be helpful to understand the remoter origins. ‘Peritisimus omnium rerum Ippocras’ says the postscript, column xxviii, and we may trace from this point and by this way the history of medical knowledge more directly and more appreciably than by any other path. To Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen, and the whole immense power of the Greek intellect, medicine was always a close branch of philosophy. It is not so with us now, but not long hence it must surely be so again.

The disturbing but awakening power of the Macedonian conqueror led to the founding of Alexandria and its great University. This was a University in the truest sense, for it was international and catholic without restraint. It had no test but knowledge and ability. Gentile, Jew, and Christian were alike equal. From this great centre through commercial and intellectual contact the Greek philosophy spread into Arabia and Persia and as far as India, and it had a further disseminating impulse from the banishment of the ‘heathen’ philosophers by


the first Justinian in the year 529. The effect was that a blaze of intellectual culture broke out and possessed the East for five hundred years. The great Greek writers were studied, translated, and commented to an altogether wonderful extent. It was in this way that came Janus Damascenus, the Commentator of our text, and Isaac Judaeus and Rhases and Avicenna, Hali, Averrhoes, Rufus and many others.

In the early part of the present millennium there came a great return wave which struck along the northern coasts of the Mediterranean, where many schools of learning were founded upon the Arabian models, and were greatly influenced by Arabian teachers. Of these Monte-Casino, Salerno, and Montpellier were the most famous.

The monastery of Monte-Casino, nearly half-way between Naples and Rome, was founded by St. Benedict himself A.D. 529, as is said upon the old site of a temple of Apollo. Centuries later with the return of learning an infirmary was added and a school of medicine.

Monks from foreign lands came there for instruction, and eminent invalids from foreign parts for treatment. The most famous teacher of the School was Constantinus Africanus of Carthage (1018-1087). He introduced Arabic science and learning into Italy and Europe, and because of his universal travel and influence he was called ‘Orientis et Occidentis Doctor’. He taught for some time at Salerno, and then became monk at Monte-Casino, where he continued his work of translating from Arabic into Latin. Among his works of this kind was Hali's compendium, which he rendered under the title of Pantegni. It is frequently referred to in our text.

Salerno (old Salernum) on the bay of the same name, some thirty miles south of Naples, was founded as a school of Philosophy and Medicine A.D. 1150, and was for five hundred years at the top of medical schools in Europe. It was for this reason that it was nick-named ‘Civitas Hippocratica’. It was a practical University, studying the symptoms of disease, diet, materia medica,


and treatment in its fullest expression—not giving much attention to physiology or anatomy. The school had a very excellent effect in that its teaching mitigated and naturalised the rather severe doctrines of the older Greek methods of treatment; and this, without doubt, came by Arabic influence. Two great and permanent works issued from this school, namely, the Compendium Salernitatum and the rhymed Regimen Sanitatis Salerni. The former was a composite treatise, the text-book of the school, of which Joannes Platearius was part author. His part of the Compendium is the basis of the other MacBeath MS. (Add. 15403) in the British Museum (now British Library). The other work is a poem, or rather a versification, the object of which was that the wisdom it conveyed could be more easily committed to, and retained in the memory. It was addressed to Robert, son of William the Conqueror, ‘Anglorum Regi’, who was cured of a wound at Salerno in the year 1101. This was the vade mecum of every well-educated physician in Europe for several centuries. Sylvius, in his edition of the Schola Salernitana (Rotterdam, 1649), says ‘Nullus medicorum est qui carmina Scholae Salernitanae ore non circumfiret et omni occasione non crepet.’ This work is attributed to John of Milan, who was President of Salerno in his day, but the Address is from ‘Schola tota Salerni’. That the book was in the possession of the MacBeaths there can be no doubt at all, so that if we owe the form of our text to John of Gaddesden we are indebted to the ancient School of Salernum for its substance and its whole essential character—not forgetting how much the MacBeaths themselves have added to it. The following quotation from the Regimen, if compared with the burden of the text, will readily show the pertinence of the statement which I have just made.
    1. Anglorum regi scribit schola tota Salerni.
      Si vis incolumem, si vis te vivere sanum
      Curas tolle graves, irasci crede profanum.
      Parce mero, caenato parum, non sit tibi vanum
      Surgere post epulas. Somnum fuge meridianum.

    2. p.12

    3. Ne minctum retine. Ne comprime fortiter anum.
      Haec bene si serves tu longo tempore vives.
      Si tibi deficiant medici, medici tibi fiant
      Haec tria, mens laeta, requies, moderata dieta.
    4. Sex horis dormire sat est juvenique senique
      Septem vix pigro, nulli concedimus octo.
    5. Ex magna coena stomacho fit maxima poena.
      Ut sis nocte levis sit tibi coena brevis.
      Post coenam stabis aut passus mille meabis.

Montpellier, the chief town of the province of Herault in Southern France on the Gulf of Lyons, was, like Salerno, a school of general learning, with Medicine as perhaps its highest feature. The University was established by papal bull in 1289; the sexcentenary was celebrated in 1890. Gilbert the Englishman was taught here, as was also John of Gaddesden, the author of the Rosa Anglica, upon part of which our Text is based. Bernard Gordon also, a Scot born in France, was a teacher here in the early years of the fourteenth century. He wrote the Lilium Medicinae which the MacBeaths possessed and rendered into Gaelic. A copy of this work was presented to the library of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries in 1784, where it now lies. It came from Farchar Beaton of Husabost ‘five generations ago’— according to the Rev. Donald Macqueen of Kilmuir who presented the book.

Montpellier was strongly under the Arabic influence, which explains how we find so many Arabic terms in such of our Manuscripts as came by this way—especially in the names of medicinal plants and in Materia Medica generally.

This very short statement of the old Schools taken with the Personal Notes will enable the reader to understand the history of the Text fairly well.


The Transliteration

The extension of the Text which is arranged to face the photographs is as correct and exact as it possibly can be made. I have copied the errors of the scribe with even more care than the correct writing. I am exceedingly indebted to my affectionate friend Standish H. O'Grady, LL. D.—a Grádhach truly in act as in name. He compared my rendering of the MS. with the original, ‘letter for letter’ as he expressed it—yes, and dot for dot. This exact rendering will make the text much more valuable from the scholar's point of view, and to the student it will be always of interest to observe the many difficulties and the very frequent pitfalls which the pioneer in this kind of work had to overcome and to avoid.

I have not brought the various Contractions together in one place as might have been done. I thought it would be sufficient to refer to them, as they occurred, in the Notes. In my Essay, which is deposited at the Library of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, there are some ten pages of the contractions given, and a special page is given to the more important in the Caledonian Medical Journal for April, 1902. The novice, however, in this study will do well to make a list of them for himself; it will be easy to do so with the extension facing the original MS. writing.

The Translation

The English rendering of the Text is very stilted—for several reasons. The diction of the old Medical Empirics which occupies the great part of the earlier chapters, and colours all the others, however simple the words may appear, is yet in concept wholly unintelligible to the mind of the present day. All that could be done then was to give a rigidly literal but naked translation. Then again, there is the immeasureable and


irreconcileable difference between the Gaelic and the English idioms. An English rendering can therefore only be a very crude compromise. I have endeavoured to conserve as much of the flavour of the original as I possibly could, and yet bring as much of the sense within the English language as makes it fairly easy to follow—with a little thought and attention.

The Time and Age of the Text

This can be arrived at, but at best only approximately, by the following ways, namely:

  1. By the earliest expressed date given in, or as part of, the Text. We find in this same MS., and in what would seem to be a later tract than that of our Text, ‘Ocus do bi aois an tigerna antan do sgriobhadh an leabar so .i. mile bliadan ocus cuig céd ocus tri bliadna ocus tri fithid and the age of the Lord the time this book was written was one thousand years and five hundred and three years and three score—1563.’
    It is not drawing too much upon possibility nor even upon probability if we give our Text a century of existence as the handbook of the MacBeath family before it was given by this John to the Irish scribe O'Cendainn to copy, or the other and later tract to the O'Kearneys.
  2. The form and style of the handwriting is another aid, but still only approximately. The writing of Leabhar na hUidhre in its contractions and other graphical peculiarities does not differ very strongly from our Text, and its date is taken as fixed—about 1470. The same may be said of The Book of Lismore, and it is accepted as being of the latter part of the fifteenth century. This also is in confirmation of my deduction so far.
  3. Then there is the developmental stage of the language to be considered, and this again in the matter of Eclipsis and other grammatical peculiarities, points to the same period.
  4. Finally, there is the fact that the Rosa Anglica, upon which our Text is based, was published in the early years of


    the fourteenth century; and knowing that the MacBeaths took a high place in Medicine long before, and kept it for long after, we cannot imagine that it took more than two hundred years to come to their knowledge. Dr. O'Grady thinks the writing is of the early sixteenth century, but the late Whitley Stokes, by far the greatest Gaelic scholar of our time and perhaps of all time, placed the companion MS. (15403) as of the early fifteenth or even the fourteenth century. The side-light of Chaucer, already, quoted from his ‘Doctour of Phisik’ is also important in this connection, for we can hardly believe that the first physicians of Scotland were far, if at all, behind those of Chaucer's time in England in their knowledge of the authors here so freely referred to.
    So, taking all these things into consideration, it does not seem too much to say that our Text is ‘of the Early 16th Century’. I feel that it would be even safer to say the 15th century instead.

The form of the language in the Text is also of interest. If compared with the form of modern Scottish Gaelic, several points come out clearly. First, the root essentials have been, are, and remain the same—always—though other things vary and differ very much. The Eclipsis of the Strong initial Consonants c, p, t and even of the Medials g, b, d which has been so definitely developed in the later Irish language did not belong to the old language at all. It is an effort to follow and to express a physiological actuality but for which expression there is really no linguistic need. We had the process fully developed in our older Scottish Gaelic, but it has most sensibly been done away with altogether, and we have no eclipsis now. In my copy of the Confession of Faith, printed at Glasgow in 1725, such forms as a mbpeacadh ‘the sin’, na ngcriostaidh ‘of the Christians’, na ndtrocair ‘of the mercies’ are met with, where the whole vocal gamut is logically, even if unnecessarily, expressed. The Irish people never went this whole logical length. It was too much to introduce a word by mbp, ngc, ndt—but


they have stuck closely to the two letter forms of initial mb and bp, ng and gc, nd and dt. Eclipsis occurs in our Text, but not regularly and not frequently, so we might fairly infer that the time of our Text was about the time of the introduction of this peculiarity in writing.

The terminal inflections are fairly well preserved, but without precision or regularity—as may be seen. They are carelessly and perhaps ignorantly shown and done; still they are not without interest. As in the matter of eclipsis, there is in these also an apparent seeking after phonetic expression, regardless of the historical continuity of form.

Aspiration of the consonants again is here only partly developed. This is now complete both in Irish and in Scottish Gaelic. The process has certainly deformed written Scottish Gaelic especially, which writes h after the consonant where Irish only uses the very much neater over-dot.

All these expediences follow the ‘otiose’ or lazy development which is manifest in all languages. In fact, as the late Dr. Macbain put it to me, it is not unlikely that mankind in days to come may be able to get along with only a few grunts. The tendency is strongly in that direction. The speech of man is losing its bone and its strength, in the same way and perhaps for the same reasons as the race is losing its hair and its teeth—because it does not fully use them.

P.S.—On 13th July, 1641, William Earl Mareschal borrowed from James Beatoune of Nether Tarbett, Doctor of Medicine, and Janet Goldman, his spouse, the sum of 4000 merks upon the security of some lands in the parish of Fetteresso, for repayment of which and arrears of interest the said Mr. James Beatoune raised against the Earl a successful process of apprising on the said lands before the Commissioners for the Administration of Justice on 3rd January, 1654. ( C.M.J., Jan., 1911).

It is surely interesting that where I consulted the Museum authorities as to the best man to photograph this text, they at once said ‘Mr. Macbeth’, and his name is John!