John Toland.

A new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 1 of 31)
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R. HUDDLESTON, SchoolmasxeRj Lunan.



18 J 4..


tLiscT imbued with a competent knovrledge of the Greek
aad Roman languages,! imbibed, ala«g with them, every possible
prejudice against the Celts. I was, from my infancy, taught to
consider them a parcel of demi.savages, their language an unin.
teiligible jargon, and their boasted antiquity the raving of a dis.
ordered imagination. Dazzled with the splendour of the classic
page, I endeavoured to derive every tiling from the Greek and
Roman languages. I had even gone the hopeful \ength of deriv.
ing Penpont from Pene Pontus ; Cattertfmn from Castra Thani;
Dunnipace from Duni Pads ; Cruden from Cruor Danorum ;
with a thousand other fooleries of the same luind.

About twenty years ago, the treatise now offered to the pub,
lie, fell into my hands. I was astonished to find that it tore up
by the roots the whole philological system, which I had so long
held sacred and invulnerable. The boasted precedency of the
Greek and Roman languages now appeared, at least, doubtful.
Determined to probe the matter to the bottom, I devoted jny se.
rious attention to the history, the antiquities, and language of
the Celts : the result was, that I found it established by the mlist
unquestionable authorities that the Celtic language was a dialect
of the primary language of Asia; that the Celts were the abo.
riginal inhabitants of Europe, and that they had among them,
froai the most remote antiquity, an order of Literati named '


Druids, to whom the Greeks and Romans ascribe a degree of
philosophical celebrity, inferior to none of the sages of antiquity.
These impprtant points being fixed, every difficulty vanished, and
the similarity of the European languages to that of the Celts, can
be satisfactorily accounted for.

Respecting the origin of language, we have no occasion to re-
sort td hypothesis or conjecture. It is a point clearly and abso.
lutely determined by the sacred records, the best of all evidence.
Language was the immediate gift of God to man. It formed a
constituent and essential part otour great and general ancestor,
and constitutes the noblest characteristic of humanity. Without
it reason had been mute, and every mental faculty languid and

From the same sacred source we know, that the whole human
Tace.spoke one and the same language, up to the building of Ba.
Tael, when mankind were dispersed by the intervention of Provi-
dence, th^t the most distant parts of the world might be inhabit,
ed. The confusion of languages, which then took place, cannot
))e taken literally and absolutely, otherwise it must follow that
there were as many different languages as individuals at Babel.
Hence, no two individuals would have bean intelligible to each
other, and the purposes of social intercourse, for which alone
language was conferred on man, would have been wholly defeat.
ed. The term confusion of language is, most probably, nothing
spore than a strong oriental metaphor, ejipressive of dissention or
discordancy. Most languages have such. a metaphor; and even
among ourselves, vrheq we see two persons engaged in a violent
verbal altercation, there is nothing more common than to express
it by saying, they are not speaking the same way. Intervention
of time and place will innovate any language ; and the simple
iact of the dispersiotf of mankind, will sufficiently account for all
the alterations which language has since undergone.

Nothing has so much perplexed philologists, as the affinity, or,
as it is more commonly called, the intermixture of languages.
The fact is, ^e primary language of Asia, or, in other words, tho
language of Babel, is the grouftdwork of tjje whole, 40(1 all pf


them retaiu stronger or fainter marks of affinity, in proportion
as they are primary, intermediate, or more remote branches of
this primary root. Of all the phcenomena of language, the most
remarkable is the affinity of the Celticaai Sanscrit, which cannot
possibly have come in contact for more than three thousand years,
and must, therefore, owe their similarity to the radical tincture
of the primary language of Asia. The Braminical tenets, religi.
ous rites, knowledge of astronomy, and severity of discipline,
so much resemble the Druidical, as hardly to leave a doubt of
their having been originally the same.

That the Celtic is a dialect of the primary language of A.sia,
has received the sanction of that celebrated philologist the late
Professor Murray, in his Prospectus to the philosophy of lan-
guage. That the Celts were the aborigines of Europe, and their
language the aboriginal one^ even Pitikarton himself is obliged
to admit. It is a point, on all hands conceded, that neither co«
}ooies nor conquerors can annihilate the aboriginal language of
a country. So true is this, that, ev-en at the present day, the
Celtic names still existing over the greater part of Europe, and
even in Asia itself, afford sufficient data whereby to determine
the prevalence of the Celtic language, the wide extent of their
ancient territories, and their progress from east to west. The
Roman laoguage unquestionably derives its affinity to the San.
scrit through the medium of the Celtic ; and to any one who pays
minute attention to the subject, it will appear self-evident that
the Doric dialect of the Greek, founded on the Celtic, laid the
foundation of the language of Rome. The Gothic^ over the
■jvhole extent of Germany, and the greater part of Britain and
Ireland ; the Phoenician, or Mooirish, in Spain, ^c. &e. &c. are,
all of them, merely recent superinductions ingrafted on the Cel-
tic — the aboriginal root. Conquerors generally alter the form
or exterior of the language of the conquered, to their own idiom ;
but the basis or-groundwork is always that of the aboriginal Ian.
guage. The Roman language Goihieizcd producfd the Italian.
The Celtic in Gaul (with an admixture of the lingua rusteca Ho.
picina) Q'liHicizedy produced the French. The old Britjsh (*


dialect of the Celtic) Saxonized, produced the English, &c. &C,
&c. Whoever would rear a philplogical system radically souod
(as far, at least, as respects the langnages of Europe), must,
therefore, commence with the Celtic, otherwise be will derive the
cause from the effect — the root from the branches.

Though the treatise now published contains, in substance, all
that is certainly known respecting the Druids, still it is much to
be regretted that Mr. Toland did not live to accomplish his great,
er work. No man will, perhaps, ever arise equally qualified for
the task. Dr. Smith, indeed, professes to give us a detailed
History of the Druids, but the moment he quits the path chalk,
ed out by Mr. Toland, he plunges headlong into the ravings of
(what Mr. Pinkarton denominates) Celtic madness. The candid
reader will hardly believe (though it is an absolute truth) that he
ascribes to the Druids the invention of telescopes and gunpowder.
The fact is, that the stores of classic information respecting the
Druids were greatly exhausted by Mr. Toland • and Dr. Smith
could find nothing more to say on the subject.

The great desideratum for a complete history of the Druids,
is the publication of the Irish manuscripts. What a meagre
tigure would the history of the Levilicai Priesthood make, had
we no other information respecting them, than what is contained
in the Greek and Roman page. Dr. Smith could not condes.
cend on one Druid, whilst Mr. Toland, from the Irish manus.
cripts, has given us the names of a dozen. He also assures us,
that much of their mythology, their foripularies, and many other
important particulars respecting them, are still preserved in the
Irish records. Nor can we doubt the fact, Ireland was (he ne
plui ultra of Celtic migration ; and whatever is recoverable of
the ancient Celtic history and literature, is here only to be found.

The Irish manuscripts (the grand desideratwti for perfecting
the history of tho Druids) were to rne wholly inaccessible. Thu
notes which form the appendis to the present edl-tion, are chiefly
derived from the Greek and Ronidn classics. In whatever man,
ner they may be received by tho pubic, their merit or demerit
vrill exc!usiv?ly rest with myself. On the score of assistaiica


(stiih theexceptiob of some remarks on the Hebrew word Chil,
obligingly furnished by the reverend Datid Lyal o£ Caraldston)
I have not one obligation to acknowledge.

To my numerous subscribers I am highly indebted. I'hat a
work so little known, and the editor still less, should have re.
ceived so liberal a share of public patronage, could hardly have
been anticipated. Among the many individuals who have exert,
ed themselves in procuring subscriptions, it would be ungrate-
ful not to mention Mr. John Smith, post.master, Brechin ; Mr.
Walter Greig, tenant, Kirkton Mill; Patrick Rolland, Esq. of
Newton ; Mr. Forbes Frost, stationer, Aberdeen ; Mr. James
Dow, supervisor of excise, and Mr, John Smith, stationer, Mon.
trose; Mr. George Anderson, tenant, Carlungie ; Mr. David
Duncan, tenant, Inchock; and particularly Mr. David Gibson,
post.master, Arbroath, whose exertions hare been great and indei.

I am sorry, that, in the course of these notes, I have had oc.

casion so frequently to mention Mr. Pinkarton. The truth is,

that gentleman has saved me a world of labour, by concentrating

into one focus, whatever could militate against the honour, or

even the existence, of the Celts. A reply to him is, therefore,

an answer to all who have adopted, or may adopt, the same er.

Toneous theory. I am fully sensible, that, in combating the pa.

radoxes of this gentleman, I have sometimes betrayed a little

warmth. But this, I flatter myself, will be found hardly as a

dro/jL in the bucket, compared to his own boisterous scurrility.

He is, in fact, a second Ishmael, His band is against every man,

and every man's hand against him. To him, and his favourite

''Goths, I do not bear the slightest prejudice. But the man who

can calmly behold ^he deliberate and uniform perversion of his.

toric truth.~the unoffending Celts, and the sacred records, tramp.

led under foot, with the most sovereign and satirical contempt,

in order to form the basis of the wildest C'him<sra which ever

disordered a human brain, must be endowed wit.h feelings which

I would not wish to possess.

TJie readei' is respectfully cautioned not to mistake the obso.


lete tnbde of writing in Toland's treatise, for typographioil er-
rors. So scrupulously exact hare I been in presenting him to
the public in bis native dress, that I have not even ventured to
alter wliat, in some instances, appeared to be the mistakes of
tie printer. In the other parts of the work, I am happy to ob-
serve that the errors are few and venial ; and a list of all such
is given, as could in any degree obscure the sense, or perplex the


Pige 2&, line 15, for there verse, read the reverse.

40, line 23, for C'lrea, read Circa.

43, line 4, ior favour Oible, read unfacourahle.

^6, line 24, for koechus, read koecus.
197, line 27, for Orbs, read orle.
260, line 3, for Cloumba, read Columla.
276, line 26, for Samandi, read Samanaei.
line 28, for Samanoi, read Samanaei.
279, line 30, fof Choihidk, read Choibhidh.
287, line 26, for sacrain, read sacrum.
326, line 14, for their, read there.
339, line 6, for sum, read sunt.
375, line 36, for Britains, read Britons:.
395, line 141, foi partibus, retii paribus.




John TOLAND was*bom on the 30fh Novem-
ber, 1670, in the most northern peninsula in Ire-
land,'on the isthmus whereof stands Londonderry,
That peninsula was originally called Inis-Eogan,
or Inis-Eogain, but is now called Enis-Owen.
Toland had the name oi Janus Junius given him at
the font, and was called by that name in the school
roll every morning; but the other boys making a
jest of it, the master ordered him to be called John,
which name he kept ever after,

Mr. Toland is reported to have been the son of
a popish priest; and, he hath been abused by
Abbot Tilladet, Bishop Huetius, and others, on the
ground of his alleged illegitimacy: which, were it
true, is a most base and ridiculous reproach ; the
child, in such a case, being entirely innocent of the
guilt of his parents. Had Mr. Toland been veally



illegitimate, which was not the case, no infamy
could have attached to him on that account, unless
he can be supposed to have had the poAver of di-
recting the mode of his coming into existence.
The following testimonial, given him at Prague,
where he was residing in 1708, will, however, suf-
ficiently remove so foolish and groundless an im-
putation. It runs thus:

Infra scripti testamur Itom. Joannem ToloTid,
mtum esse ex honesta, nohili et antiquissimafamilia,
qiifJB per plures centenos annos, ut Regni Historia et
continua monstrant memoria, in Peninsula Ilihermce
Enis-Oiven dicta prope urbem Londino-l)eriensem.
in Ultonia, perduravit. In cujus reijirmioremjidem,
nos ex eadempatria orrundi proprUsmambus suhscrip-
simus, Prag(B in Bohemia, hac die 2. Jan. 1708.

Joannes O'Niell superior Collegii Hibernorum.
X. S. Francisus O'Deulin, S. Theologi(B Professor.
Rudolphus O'Neill, S. Theol. Lector,


" We subscribers testify, that Mr. John Tolaud is
" descended of an honourable, noble, and very an-
" cient family, which resided several centuries on
" the Peninsula of Ireland, called Enis-Oicen, near
" the city of Londonderry in Ulster, which the
*' history of that kingdom, and continual mention
" of the family clearly establish. For the surer
•* credence of this, we, natives of the same country.


*' have subscribed with our own hands at PraguQ
*' in Bohemia, this 2d January, 1708."

The Reader wiil see from this certificate of the
Irish Franciscans at Prague, that Mr. Toland was
honourably, nobly, and anciently, descended.

We may, however, take it for granted, that his
relations were papists ; for in his preface to Chris-
tianity not Mysterious, he tells us, " that he was
" educated from the cradle in the grossest super-
** stition and idolatry, but God was pleased to
" make his own reason, and such as made use of
^' theirs, the happy instruments of his conversion."
He again informs us, in his Apology, " that he was
" not sixteen years old when he became as zealous
" ag-ainst popery, as he has ever since continued."

From the school at Redcastle, near London-
derry, he went in 1687, to the college of Glasgow;
and after three years stay there, visited Edinburgh,
where he was created Master of Arts on the 30th
of June, 1690, and received the usual diploma
from the professors, of which the following is a>

Universis et singulis ad quos prasentes literae per"
venient, NOS universitatis Jacobi Regis Edinhur-
gencB Pr.ofessores, Salutem in Domino sempiternam
comprecamur: Vnaque testamur ingenuum hunc bones
Spei Juvenem Magistrum Joannem Toland Hiber-
n.2'm, morihus, diligentia, et laudabili successu se no-



bis if a approbasse ut post editum PJdlosopJdci prO"
foetus exameu, Solenni more Magister in Artibus
liheralibus renuntiareiur, in Comitiis nostris Lau-
reatis anno Salutis Millesimo, Sexcentesimo et No-
nagesimo, trigesimo die Junii : Quapropter non du-
bitamus eum nunc a Nobis in patriam redeuntem,
lit egregium Adolescentem, omnibus quos adire, vel
quibuscum versari contigerit, de meliori nota com-
inendare, sperantes ilium (opitulante divina gratia)
Literis hisce Testimonialibus fore abunde responsu-
rum. In quorumjidem inclyta Civitas JSdinlnirgmn
Academies hujus parens et Altrix sigillo suo publico
Uterus syngraphis Nostris porro confirnmri jussit .

Al. Monro, S. S. T. D. Professor Primarius.

Jo. Strachan, S. S. T. D. ejusdemque Profesior.

D. Gregorie, Math. P.

J. Uefberius Kennedy, P. P.
Li. S. J. Drummond, H. L. P.

Tho. Burnet, Ph. P.

Roberttis Henderson, B. et Academics ah Arehi.
vis, £fc.
Dahamus in supradicto'
Athenao Regio 22rfo, j
die Julii anno Mrce^
Christiante 1690.


" To all and every one, to whom the present It U
" ter may come, We the professors of the univer-
" sity of Edinburgh, founded by King- James, m ish
" eternal salvation in the Lord : and at the same
" time testify, that this ingenuous >outli, Mr. .Tohn
" Toland, of excellent proaiise, has so hii^hlv satis.


*•' fied US by his good conduct, diligence andlaud-
" able progress, that, after a public examination of
" his progress in philosophy, he was, after the usual
" manner, declared Master of the liberal Arts, in
" our Comitia Ldureata, in the year of Redemption
" 1690, 30th June: Wherefore we do not hesitate
" to recommend him, now returning from us to his
" native coimtry, as an excellent young man, to all
" persons of better note, to whom he may have ac-
" cess, or with whom he may sojourn, hoping that
" he (through the aid of Divine Grace) will abun-
" dantly answer the character given hind in this
" diploma. In testimony of which, the ancient
■^' city of Edinburgh, the parent and benefactress
" of this academy, has ordered this writing with
" our subscriptions, to receive the additional con-
■" firmation of their public seal."

Given in the aforesaid Royal i

Athenjeum, 22d July, 1690.>.

Mr. John Toland having received his diploma,
returned to Glasgow, where he resided but a short
time. On his departure, the magistrates of that
city gave him the following recommendation.

" We, the magistrates of Glasgow, under sub-
" scribing, do hereby certify and declare, to all
" whom these presents may concern. That the
" bearer, John Toland, Master of Arts, did reside
" here for some yeares, as a student at the univer-
" sitie in this city, during which time he behaved
" himself as ana trew protestant, and loyal sub-


" ject, as witness our hands, at Glasgow, the penult
" day of July one thousand six hundred and nine-
" tie yeares, and the common seal of office of the
" said city is hereunto affixt.

'^ John Leck.
'* L. S, George Nisbitt."

It is worthy of remark, that Mr. Toland resided
at Glasgow during the years 1688 and 1689, the
two last of the bloody persecution of the Church
of Scotland, and must have been an eye witness of
many tyrannical and relentless scenes. It is well
known, that the students'of Glasgow, as a collec-
tive body, repeatedly joined the citizens, in repel-
ling several of the military parties sent against
them ; and there can hardly remain a doubt, that
Toland made one of the number. This sufficient-*
ly accounts for the certificate given him by the
magistrates of Glasgow.

Mr. Toland dates his conversion from the 16th
year of his age, which nearly coincides witli his
arrival in Glasgow; for it will be recollected, that
he did not complete his 20th year, till the 30th of
IVovember after leaving this city. It is therefore
most probable, that he was here converted from
popery, and imbibed these notions of the simpli-
city and purity of Christianity, which he afterwards

Instead of returning to Ireland, Mr. Toland went
to England, where he lived (as he informs us ia


his Apology) in as good protestant families as any
in \he kingdom, till he went to the famous univer-
sity of Leydeuj to perfect his studies, under the
celebrated Spanhemilxs, Triglandius, &c. There
he was supported by some eminent dissenters iil
England, who had conceived great hopes from his
uncommon parts^ and might flatter themselves, he
"vvould one day become the Colossus of the party ;
for he himself informs us, in a pamphlet published
at London in 1697, that he had lived in their com-
munion, ever since he quitted popei-y. " Mr.
Toland (says he, in answer to the imputation of
being a rigid non-conformist) will never deny but
the real simplicity of the dissenters' worship ; and
the seeming equity of their discipline, (into which,
being so young, he could not distinctly penetrate)
did gain extraordinarily on his affections, just as
he was newly delivered from the insupportable
yoke of the most pompous and tyrannical policy
that ever enslaved mankind, under the name or
*hew of religion. But, when greater experience,
and more years, had a little ripened his judgment,
he easily perceived that the differences were not
so wide, as to appear irreconcileable; or at least,
that men who were sound protestants on both
sides, should barbarously cut one anothers'throats,
or indeed give any disturbance to the society about
them. And as soon as he understood the late
heats and animosities did not totally, if at all, pro-j ^'
ceed from a concerxi for mere religion, he allowed


himself a latitude in several things, that would
have been matter of scruple to him before. His
travels increased, and the study of ecclesiastical
history perfected this disposition, wherein he con-
tinues to this hour; for, whatever his own opinion
of these differences be, yet he finds so essential an
agreement between French, Dutch, English, Scot-
tish, and other protestants, that he is resolved
never to lose the benefit of an instructive discourse,
in any of their churches, on that score; and, it
must be a civil, not a religious interest, that can
engage him against any of these parties, not think-
ing all their private notions wherein they differ,
worth endangering, much less subverting, the pub-
lic peace of a nation. If this (pursues he) makes
a man a non-conformist, then Mr. Tolaad is one

In 1692, Mr. Daniel Williams, a dissenting
minister, published a book, entitled. Gospel Truth
Stated and Vindicated, in opposition to Dr. Crisp.
Mr. Toland desired the author of the SibliotJieque
Universelle to give an abstract of it in that jour-
nal. The journalist complied; and, to the ab-
stractof Mr.Williams's book, prefixed Mr. Toland's
recommendatory letter, and styles him Student in
Divinity. Jiibliotheque Universelle, torn 23rf, page

Having staid about two years at Leyden, he re-
turned to England, and soon after went to Oxford,
where, besides the conversation of learned men.


he had the advantage of the public library. Here
he collected materials on various subjects, and
composed some pieces, among others, a Disserta-
tion, wherein he proves the received history of the
tragical death of Atilius Regulus, the Roman con-
sul, to be a fable; and, with that candour which
vmiformly characterizes him, owns himself indebt-
ed for this notion to Palmerius*

In 1695, he left Oxford, and came to London^
In 1QQ6, he published his Christianity not Myste-
rious; or, a Treatise, shewing that there is nothing
in the Gospel contrary to reason, nor above it; and,
that no Christian Doctrine can properly be called a
Mystery. Mr. Toland defines mystery to be a
thing intelligible in itself, but which could not be
known, without special revelation* And, to
prove the assertion, he examines all the passages
in the New Testament, where the word mystery
occurs; and shews. First, that mystery is read
for the Gospel ; or, the Christian religion in gene-
ral, as it was a future dispensation, totally hid from
the Gentiles, and but imperfectly known to the
Jews. Secondly, that some peculiar doctrines,
occasionally revealed by the apostles, are said to
be manifested mysteries; that is, unfolded secrets:
and Thirdly, ih^t mystery is put for any thing veiled
under parables) or enigmatical forms of speech.
But, he declares, at the same time, that, if his ad-
versaries think fit to call a mystery whatever is
either absolutely unintelligible to us, or whereof


Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 1 of 31)