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

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we have but inadequate ideas; he is ready to ad-
mit of as many mysteries in religion as they please.

So far, the candid reader will be apt to think
there is no great harm done. If Mr. Toland s ad-
versaries did not choose to adopt his definition of
the word mystery, he professes himself willing to
accede to theirs; and, indeed, all that has been ad-
vanced on either side of the question, is merely a
dispute about words. He pretends, that he can
give as clear and intelligible an explanation of the
tnysteries of the gospel, as of the pheenmnena of na-
ture: and, do not our divines do the same thing,
by attempting to give a rational explanation of the
Trinity, and the Resurrection, the greatest mys-
teries of the Christian religion? Such explanations
are the tests of the soundness of their doctrine;
and, who knows but Mr. Toland's explanation,
had he given one, might have been orthodox.

This treatise alarmed the public; and several
clergymen replied to it. Messrs. Beconsal, Bever-
ley, Norris, and Elys; Doctors Pain, and Stilliug-
fleet; the author of the Occasionnl Papers \ Messrs.
Millar, Gailhard, and Synge, all entered the lists.
It was even presented by the grand jury of Mid-
dlesex; but, this measure had no other efl'ect, than
to promote the sale of the book, mankind being
naturally prone to pry into what is forbidden them.

This same year, Mr. Toland p\xblished a Dis-
course on Coins, by Signior Bernardo Davauzati,
a gentleman of Florence, delivered in the academy



LIFE OF TOLAND. l.Q

there, anno 1588; translated from Italian by John
Toland.

Christianity not Mysterioushsi\m^ioxmA its way
into Ireland, made some noise there, as well as in
England; but the clamour Avas considerably in-
creased, on the author's arrival there, in the be-
ginning of 1697. Mr. MoUineux, in a letter to
Mr. Locke, dated 10th April, 1697, says, " The
" Irish clergy were alarmed against him to a
" mighty degree; and, that he had his welcome to
*' that city, by hearing himself harangued against,
" from the pulpit, by a prelate of that country."

Mr. Toland himself tells us, in his Apology^
that he was hardly arrived in that country, when
he found himself warmly attacked from the pul-
pit, which at first could not but startle the people,
who, till then, were equal strangers to him and his
book ; but that in a short time, they were so well
accustomed to this subject, that it was as much
expected, as if it had been prescribed in the Hub-
rick. He also informs us, that his own silence
respecting the book in question; made his enemies
insinuate that he "was not the author of it.

When this rough treatment of Mr. Toland from
the pulpit proved insignificant, the grand jury was
solicited to preseirt him, for a book written and
published in England. The presentment of the
grand jury of Middlesex, was printed with an
emphatical title, and cried about the streets. Mr.
Toland was accordingly presented there, the last



» %



20 LIFE OF TOXAND.

day of the term, in the Court of King's Bench.
At that time, Mr. Peter Brown, senior fellow of
Trinity College, Dublin, published a book against
Mr. Toland's Christianity not Mysterious, in which
he represented him as an inveterate enemy to all
revealed religion; a knight errant; one who openly
affected to be the head of a sect, and designed to
be as famous an impostor as Mahomet, ]Mr.
Brown was afterwards made bishop of Cork ; and
Mr. Toland used frequently to say, " That he
made him a bishop." This is the saraejacobitical
gentleman, who, because he could not bear that
any person should drink the health of King Wil-
liam, wrote a pamphlet against health-drinking,
as being a profanation of the Lord's Supper!

Mr. Mollineux sent Mr. Browns book to Mr.
Locke, and, in a letter to him dated 20th of July,
1697, says, " Mr. Toland has had his opposers
'' here, as you will find by a book I have sent you.
" The author is ray acquaintance; but, two things
" I shall never forgive, in his book: the one is the
" foul language and opprobrious epithets he has
" bestowed on Mr. Toland. The other is, upon
" several occasions, calling in the aid of the ( i\il
" magistrate, and delivering Mr. Toland up to se-
*' cular punishment. This, indeeil, is a killinQ- ar-
" gmnent; but may dispose some to think, that
" where the strength of reason failed him, there
^' he flies to the strength of the sword,"' ^c.

Mr. Toland, it seems, >> as dreaded iu Ireland



LIFE OF TOLAND. 21

as a second Goliath, who at the head of the Phi-
listines defied the armies of Israel, in so much,
that Mr. Hancock, the recorder of Dublin, in his
congratulatory harangue to the lords justices of
that kingdom, in the name of his corporation, beg-
ged their lordships would protect the church from
all its adversaries; but particularly from the To-
landists.

But to give the last and finishing stroke to Mr.
Toland's book, it was brought before the parlia-
ment. Several persons eminent for their birth,
good qualities, and fortune, opposed the whole
proceedings ; but finding themselves over-ruled in
this, they urged, that the objectionable passages
should be read; that Toland should be heard
in his defence personally, or at least, by letter.
All these propositions were rejected, and Mr. To-
land, unheard and undefended, was ordered to be
taken into the custody of the serjeant at arms.
Mr. Toland made his escape, but his book was
burnt by the common hangman, on the 11th Sep-
tember, 1697, before the gate of the parliament-
house, and also in the open street, before the
town-house, the sheriffs and all the constables at
tending.

Dr. South, in the preface to his third volume of
sermons, compliments the archbishop of Dublin,
on his treatment of Toland, whom he calls a Ma-
hometan Christian ; and particularly, that he made
the kingdom too hot for him, without the help of



23 I-IPE OP TOLAND.

a faggot. The faggot had been kindled in Scot-
land from the one end to the other, during the
twenty-eight years persecution, and innocent and
holy men burnt ahve, merely for being non-con-
formists, or, in other words, for not preferring the
dogmas of arbitrary and interested men, to the
sacred scriptures. Toland's crimes appear to
have been much of the same kind, and it was very
consistent in the doctor to hint at a similar pu-
nishment.

On Mr. Toland's return to London, he publish-
ed his Apology, giving an account of his conduct,
and vindicating himself from the aspersious and
persecutions of his enemies.

In 1698 party-disputes ran high. Tlie parti-
zans of the house of Stuart vdshed to facilitate the
Pretender's return, by keeping up no standing
army at alL Their opponents took different
ground. Several pamphlets appeared, and, a-
mong the rest, one from the pen of Mr. Toland,
wherein he recommends modelling the militia on
such a plan, as to render it adequate to the main-
tenance of inteilial tranquillity, and repulsion of
foreign invasion. Indeed, on every occasion, we
find Mr. Toland a staunch friend to the revolu-
tion, and the protestant succession; and though
this was not the ostensible, still there is every rea-
Hon to reckoirit the real cause of his persecution;
his enemies, almost to a man, eutertaiuing very
♦Jiffereut sentiments.



LIFE OF TOLAND. 23

This same year, he published the Life of John
Milton, which was prefixed to his works, in three
volumes folio. In the course of Milton's life, Mr.
Toland proved that Icon Basilike was not written
by Charles 1st, but by Dr. Gauden, and took oc-
casion to remark, that, when this imposition was
practised on the nation, at no greater distance of
time than forty years, he ceased to wonder how so
many supposititious pieces, under the name of
Christ and his Apostles, should be published, ap-
proved, &c. Had he denied the Trinity, or blas-
phemed the Holy Ghost, it would have been no-
thing in comparison of curtailing the literary fame
of the royal martyr of the church of England.

Accordingly, Mr. Blackall, chaplain to the
king, in a sermon preached before the House of
Commons, 30th January, 1689, says, " We may
" cease to wonder, that he (Mr. Toland) should
" have the boldness, without proof, and against
" proof, to deny the authority of this book, who
" is such an infidel to doubt, and is shameless
" and impudent enough, even in print, and in a
" christian country, publicly to affront our holy
" religion, by declaring his doubt, that several
*' pieces under the name of Christ and his Apos-
*' ties (he must mean those received by the whole
*' christian church, for I know of no other), are
" supposititious," &c. The reader will here smile,
to see that Mr. Blackall rests the whole stress of
Mr. Toland'^ infidelity, 'on jiis own ig:norance.



24 LIFE OF TOLAND.

Mr. Blackall expressly says, " Mr. Toland must
" mean the books of the New Testament," be-
cause he knows of no other. Excellent logician !

In order to vindicate himself, Mr. Toland pub-
lished Amyntor, in which he re-doubles his argu-
ments, to prove Dr. Gauden the author of Icon
Basilike; and, at the same time, published a list
of supposititious pieces, ascribed to Christ, his
apostles, and other eminent men, extending to no
less than forty-three octavo pages. After ha\ing
given that cataloguey he proceeds thus :

" Here is a long catalogue for Mr. Blackall,
" who, it is probable, will not think the more
" meanly of himself, for being unacquainted ^nth
•' these pieces : nor, if that were all, should I be
" forward to think the worse of him on this ac-
" count: but I think he is to blame, for denying
" that there were any such, because he knew no-
" thing of them; much less should lie infer from
" thence, that I denied the scriptures; which
" scandal, however, as proceeding from ignorance,
" I heartily forgive him, as every good christian
" ought to do."

What a calm, dignified, christian reply, to the
very man, who, without the least shadow of fact,
proclaimed Mr. Toland an impudent and shame-
less infidel, before the whole House of Commons.
Poor Mr. Bhickall was obliged to say something
or other in his own defence. He published a
pamphlet, wherein he labours hard to prove, that



LIFE OF TOLAND. 25

Mr. Toland's words were liable to misapprehen-
sion; and says, " I charged Mr. Toland with
" doubting of the books of the Neiv Testament
" but he declares, he does not mean those books,
" therefore we are now agreed: there can be no
" dispute between us on that subject."

In the same year, 1699, Mr. Toland published
the Memoirs of JDenzil, Lord Hollis, Baron of
Tfield, in Sussex, from 1641 to 1648. The manu-
script was put into his hands by the duke of
Newcastle, who was one of his patrons and bene-
factors; and he dedicated the work to his grace.

In 1700, he published, in folio, Harrington '»
Oceana, with some other pieces of that ingenious
author, not before printed, to which he prefixed
the life of the author. From the preface to thi,*
work, which is dated 30th November, 1699, we
learn Mr. Toland's exact age, for he there informs
us, that this very day he was beginning his thir-
tieth year.

About the same time, appeared a pamphlet, en^
titled Clito; or, the Force of Eloquence. The
printer gave Mr. Toland as the author. This
piece consists of a dialogue between Clito and
Adeisidcemon. This is, a poetical performance,
Mr. Toland is known by the name Adeisidcemon,
which he translates, unsuperstitious. This was
animadverted on, by an anonymous clergyman^
who, after a torrent of Billingsgate abuse, trans-
lates Adeisidamon (in open violation of aU the

V.



26 l-IFE OF TOLAND.

rules of etymology and common sense), one that
fears neither God nor devil. To such pitiful
lengths will the rancour of party-spirit drive men,
when they are determined to calumniate with, or
•without, reason.

In the beginning of 1701, he published 7%*
Art of Governing hy Parties, which he dedicated
to King William the 3d; and, about the same
time, published a pamphlet, in quarto, entitled'
Propositions for uniting the two East India Coni'
panies.

In March following, the lower and upper house
of convocation, with the concurrence of the bish-
ops, resolved to proceed against Mr. Tolands
Christianity not 3fysterious, and his Amyntor,
with all possible rigour. After passing some re-
solutions against these books, they found they
could not proceed without a licence from the
king. Rather than solicit this boon, they drop-
ped their proceedings against ]Mr. Toland. Can
any circumstance speak more strongly in the vin-
dication of Mr. Toland? Caij any tiling shew the
innocence of our author, in a clearer point of view,
than that the whole united English hierarchy,
durst not solicit a licence from the king to prose-
cute him, because they were sure it m ould be re-
fused? This circumstance affords more than a
presumption, that Mr. Toland's principal crimes,
in the eyes of his enemies, m ere his predilection for
presbyterianism, and attachment to King Willium.



LIFE OF TOLAND. 27

Be that as it may, when on the death of the
duke of Gloucester, an act was passed in June,
1701, for the better securing the protestant suc-
cession to the crown, Mr. Toland published his
Anglia Libera; or. The Limitation and Succession
of the Crown of England Explained and Asserted;
as grounded on his majesty's speech ; the proceed-
ings of parliament; the desires of the people; the
safety of our religion; the nature of our constitu-
tion; the balance of Europe; and, the rights of
Mankind. This treatise he dedicated to his pat-
ron, the duke of Newcastle.

The king having sent the earl of Macclesfield to
HainOver, with the act of succession, Mr. Toland
accompanied him, and presented his Anglia Li-
bera to her electoral highness the Princess Sophia;
and was the first who had the honour of kneeling
and kissing^ her hand, on account of the act of
succession. The earl of Macclesfield recommend-
ed him warmly to her highness. Mr. Toland staid
there five or six weeks, and at his departure, their
highnesses the electress dowager, and the elector,
presented him with several gold medals, as a
princely remuneration for the book he had writ-
ten about the succession, in defence of their title
and family. Her highness condescended to give
him likewise portraits of herself, the elector, the
young prince, and of her majesty the queen of
Prussia, done in oil colours. The earl of Mac-
,clesfield, on his return, waited on the king at I^on-

c2



28 LIFE OF TOLAND.

don, and presented Mr. Toland, who had the ho-
nour of kissing his majesty's hand.

The parhament was dissolved 11th November,
and a new one summoned to meet the 30th De-
cember. The Tory party appeared horribly afraid
that Mr. Toland would obtain a seat in the ensu-
ing parliament, and circulated a report that he was
to be returned for Blechingley in Surry, a borough
in the interest of Sir Robert Clayton. Mr. To-
land, who had no intention whatever of this kind,
contradicted the report, by an advertisement in
the Postman. Even this harmless act could not
pass without censure, but gave occasion to an ano-
nymous author to publish a pamphlet, entitled,
Modesty 3IistaJeen; or a Letter to Mr. Toland^
upon his Declining to Appear in the Ensuing Par-
liament.

On the opening of parliament, Mr. Toland pub-
lished his Paradoxes of State, grounded chiefly
on his majesty's princely, pious, and most gracious
speech.

Soon after, he published Reasons for Address-
ing his Majesty to invite into England, the Elec-
tress Dowager, and the Electoral Prince of Hano-
ver; and for attainting and abjuring the jjrc-
tended Prince of Wales, (Sfc. This ^\ as answered
by Mr. Luke Milburn. But, Mr. Toland had the
high gratification to see parliament attend to his
suggestions. An act was accordmgly passed for
the attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales-



LIFE OF TOLAND. 29

and another, for the better security of his majesty's
person, and the protestant succession, &c. and
enjoining an oath of abjuration of the Pretender.
Thus, instead of an enemy to religion, or civil liber-
ty, we find him strenuously recommending the most
efficacious measures for the preservation of both.

Some difference having arisen betw^een the lower
and upper house of convocation, on a point of ju-
risdiction, respecting their proceedings against
Christianity not Mysterious, the year before, a pa-
per war commenced between them, and several
pamphlets appeared on both sides. Those writ-
ten by the partizans of the upper house, were fa-
vourable to Mr. Toland ; but, those written in fa-
vour of the lower house, there verse. He, there-
fore, seized this opportunity of publishing his Viti-
dicius Liberius; being a vindication of his Chris-
tianity not Mysterious; — a full and clear account
of his religious and civil principles; and, a justifi-
cation of those called Whigs and Common-tvealth
men, against the mis-representations of all their
opposers.

After the pviblication of this book, Mr. Toland
went to the courts of Hanover and Berlin, where
he was very graciously received by the Princess
Sophia, and the queen of Prussia. He was often
admitted to their conversation; and wrote some
pieces, which he presented to her majesty. There
he wrote, also, aa account of the courts of Priissia
and Hanover.



30 LIFE OP TOLAND.

On his return to England, 1704, he published
several philosophical letters ; three of which he in-
scribed to the queen of Prussia, under the desig-
nation of Sere7ia.

1st, The Origin and Force of Prejudices.

2d, The History of the Soul's Immortality
among the Heathens.

3d, The Origin of Idolatry, and Reasons of
Heathenism.

4th, A Letter to a Gentleman in Holland, shelv-
ing Spinoza s System of Philosophy to he without
Principle or Foundation.

5th, Moiion essential to Matter; in answer to
some Hemm-ks, hy a noble Friend, on the confuta-
tion of Spinoza. Mr. Toland informs vis, that the
queen of Prussia was pleased to ask his opinion,
respecting the svibjects treated of, in the three let-
ters inscribed to her.

These letters were animadverted on, by Mr.
Wotten, in a pamphlet, entitled. Letters toEusehia.

At the same time, he published an English
translation of the Life of JEsop, by Monsieur De
Meziriac, and dedicated it to Anthony Collins, Esq.

In 1705, he published the following pieces.

1st, Sociniauism truly stated, ^c.

2d, An Account of the Courts of Prussia and
Hanover, dedicated to the diike of Somerset.

3(1, 7V<e Ordinances, Statutes and Privileges, of
the Royal Academy at Berlin, Translated from
the original.



LIFE OF TOLAND. 31

The same year, Cotinsellor Pooley, an4 Dr.
Drake, wrote the Memorial of the Clmrch of J^n-
glfxnd, >vith a view to influence the ensuing parlia-
mentary election, by representiog the "Whig adjrii-
nistration, as plotting the ruin of the Church.

By the direction of Mr. Harley, secretai'y of
state, this memorial was answered? by Mr. To-
land, in a pamphlet, entitled, " The Memorial of
the State of England, in Vindicmiioti of the Quefi^f
the Church, and the Administration: deigned to
rectify the mutual mistakes cf Protestants; and to
unite their affections, in defence of our Religion
and Liberty." On the suggestiou of Mr. Harley,
who was one of Mr. Toland's patrons and bene?
factors, this treatise was published, without the
author's name.

This pamphlet was answered, by Thomas Raur
lins, Esq. who made a, direct attack on the duke
of Marlborough's, aud Mr. Harley's conduct. Mr.
William Stephens, rector of Sutton, in Surry, bei^g
found the publisher; and, refusing to bear evidence
against Mr. Raulins, was sentenced to stand on
tlie pillory; but, the senteijce was afterwards rer
mitted.

Mr. Toland was directed by Mr. Harley to an-
swer this pamphlet, which he did; but, for some
reasons, now unknown, the design was dropped,
after part of Mr. Toland's answer had been printed.

Mr. Harley having found among his manus-
cripts, a philippic against France, m ritten in ,La-



32 LIFE OP TOLAXD.

tin, by one Cardinal Matthew, in 1-^14, gave it to
JMr. Toland, who edited it, both in English and
Latin: along with other violent expressions,
it contains the following, Gallornm Ungues non
resecandos, sed penitus evellendos esse; i. e. That
the nails of the French were not to be pared, but
torn out by the roots.

Soon after, he published The Elector Palatins
Declaration, lately published in favour of his pro-
testant subjects, &c. This Mr. Toland did, at the
particular request of theelec tor Palatine's minister.

In the spring, Mr. Toland went to Germany,
and visited Berlin, Hanover, Dusseldorp, Vieima,
and Prague in Bohemia. At Dusseldorp, he was
most graciously received by his electoral highness,
who, in consideration of the English pamphlet,
published by him, presented him with a gold chain
and medal, besides a hundred ducats. From
Prague, he returned to Holland, where he staid
till 1710.

In Holland, he published the follo'wing disser-
tations, viz.

1st, Adeisidoemon, sive Titus Livitis a Snpersti-
tione Vindicatus, ^-c.

2do, Orig?ies Judaica?, ^^c. In the course of
this dissertation, he animadverted on Hi(ctiits' De-
monstralio Evangclica. He ridicules Huetius for
affirming that several eminent persons recorded in
the Old Testament are allegorized in the heathen
mythology; and particlnarjy Moses under the



LIFE OP TOLAND. 33

names of Bacch^is, Typho, Silenus, Priapus, and
Adonis. Though Mr. Toland was unquestion-
ably in the right, Huetius was greatly incensed,
and expressed his resentment in a letter, first pub-
lished in the Journal of Trevoux, and afterwards
printed by Abbot Tilladet. It will be recollect-
ed, that these are the two gentlemen, who endea-
voured to convict Mr. Toland of the high and un-
pardonable crime, of not directing his parents to
propagate him legitimately.

In 1709, he published at Amsterdam, a second
edition of his Philippic against France.

In 1 7 1 0,he published, without his name, a French
pamphlet, relating to Dr. Sacheverell.

While in Holland, he had the good fortune to
get acquainted with prince Eugene of Savoy, who
gave him several marks of his generosity.

After his return to England in 1711, he publish-
ed the Humours of Epsom ; and, at the same time,
a translation of four of Pliny's Letters.

Inl712, he published Imo. A Letter against Po-
pery, written by Sophia Charlotte, late queen of
Prussia. 2do. Her Majesty's reasons for creating
the electoral prince of Hanover a peer of that realm.
3tio. The Grand Mystery laid open; namely, by
dividing the protestants, to weaken the Hanove-
rian succession, &c.

About the same time, he published anew edition
of Cicero's works, an undertaking for which he was
eminently qualified. This work alone, is suffi-



34 Ll^E OF TOLAND.

cietit to tottsmit Mt. Toknd's name to posterity.
It is extremely scarce, he having printed only a
few copies, at his own charge, to serve his particn-
lar friends.

In 1713, he published An Appml to Honest Peo-
ple, agaittst wicked Priests," &fc. And much about
the same time, a pamphlet on the necessity of de-
iholishing Dunkirk.

In 1714, he published a pamphlet relative to the
restoration of Charles the 2d, by General Monk;
also, a collection of letters, written by the general,
relating to the same subject.

The same year, he jmblished The Fkneral Elogy
of her royal idghMSs the late Princess Sophia, &c.
and much about the same time, JReasonsfor ruttu-
rnlizing tlie Jews iu Great Britain, &c. This he
dedicated rather ironically, to the archbishops and
bishops of both provinces.

In 1717, he published the Stale Anatomy of
Great Britain. This was answered by Dr. Fid-
des, chaplain to the earl of Oxford, and by Daniel
De Foe. In reply, Mr. Toland published the se-
cond part of the State Anatomy.

In 17 17, he published Nazarenus. In this trea-
tise, according to Mr. Toland, the original plan of
Christianity was this : " That the Jews, though as-
sociating with the converted Gentiles, and ac-
knowledging them for brethren, were still to ob-
serve their own laws; and that the Gentiles, \\]m
ibecame so far Jews as to acknowledge one God,



1.1 FE OF TOT.AND. 3u

were not, howevi^r, to observe the Jewish law :
but, that both of thejnwere to be, ever after, united
into one body or fellowship, in that part of Chris-
tianity particularly, which, better than all the pre-
parative purgations of the philosophers, requires
the sanctification of the spirit, and the renovation
of the inward man ; and wherein alone, the Jew



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 2 of 31)