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 29 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 29 of 31)
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*' as if another island." Indeed, from the tenour of this whole
chapter, it is evident that Tacitus, by Hiheiiiia (Irelaud) means
the north of Scotland. So completely was his editor at Cologne
of the Allobroges in 1614 of this opinion, that, in his Notitia
Breviarium of said chapter, he says, — res tertio, quarto, quinto

expeditionum suarum anno, prcesertim in Hibernia gestae i. e.

" the exploits (of Agricola) performed in the third, fourth, and
fifth year of his expeditions, particularly in Ireland." Now
every one knows that the scene of Agricola's actions, during
these years, lay not in Ireland, but in the north of Scotland.
Without entering into the merits of this dispute, which is of no
importance to the ScoU, it is sufficient to shew that Scotland was
the parent of Ireland. The Irish (as has already been shewn)
admit thaf the Tuath de Danan (Damnii) arrived in Ireland
1250 years prior to our aera. Ptolemy makes the territories of
the Damnii reach from Gallozcay to the Tay; and if, as Pinkar.
ton imagines, the Novantce were only a part of the Damnii,
their territories must have stretched to the Solway Frith. Rich!
ard of Cirencester places a tribe of the same people in Argyle!

•NOTES. 405

•shire. From llie extent of their territories, they must have been
the most uumerous, as well as the most powerful, of the Scot-
tish tribes. But what is most to our present purpose ii, that
they occupied that very part of Scotland which approaches near-
est to Ireland. An island cannot foe inhabited or sought after
tillit is known, and who could know it sooner than the Damnii,
who lived within sight of it. The Irish, indeed, place the Fir-
bolg (Belgae) in Ireland 250 years before the Damnii, but this
i^s contrary to all probability; and it is well known, that in
events of remote antiquity, nations do not err so much in matter
fff fact, as in point of chronological accuracy. The Irish them,
selves expressly say that the Tuath de Dannan came from Scot,
hand to Ireland. In this case we have — Imo, The testimony of
Ptolemy, who places the Damnii in that very point of Scotland
which approaches nearest to Ireland — 2do, The direct and posi.
tive testimony of the Irish themselves, that the Damnii came
from Scotland. Till, therefore, Whitaker, Pinkarton, &c. can
place their respective hypotheses respecting the early population
of Ireland, on a basis equally sure and stable (which is impossi.
ble), Scotland is well entitled to reckon itself the parent of Ire-
land. The circumstance of an Irish colony having settled in
Argyleshire about the middle of the third century, can by no
means invalidate this claim, but greatly confirms it ; for in the
hour of danger or difficulty, where does a child more naturally
take shelter than in the arms of its mother? That Scotland af-
forded Ireland the bulk of its early population, we have already
seen. Hence the intimacy betwixt them must have been great,
and the intercourse frequent; and the migration of a colony from
the one country to the other, was merely a matter of course.

But though the publication of the Irish manuscripts could not
fail to throw light on the whole early history of Scotland, there
is another point which itmight perhaps absolutely determine — I
mean the authenticity of Ossian's Poems. Here, as in most
other matters, we have the same perplexity and confusion. Both
nations claim Fingal and his jieroes. The Irish have, however,
laid only a faint and feeble claim to the poems of Ossian. The

<J I'

406 NOTPS,

strong fact of these posms having been collected from oral rec!.
tation in the islands and Highlands of Scotland, must have con-
Wooed them that the struggle was in vain. But it was in Argyle
that this Dalriadic colony settled, and Argyle was the principal
scene of Fingal's atchievements. Hence Ireland claims both
Fingal and the colony. This double claim of the Scots and
Irish has led some foolishly to imagine that there were two Fin.
gals. No such thing. The Irish claimed the colony and Fingal,
because this colony was originally from Ireland ; and the Scots
claiip both, because actually residing in Scotland. But this
same colony, after a residence of two centuries, was defeated by
the Picts, obliged to evacuate Argyleshire, and to take refage in
Ireland, about the middle of the fifth century. By this nnfdr.
tunate event, the history, the traditions, and records of this co,
lony, found their way direct to Ireland. Indeed, when I re.
fleet on the repeated catastrophes of the Scottish records, I could
almost sit down and weep ! This colony resided fifty years in
Ireland, before it was reinstated in Argyleshire ; and hence the
Irish must have been well acquainted with the history of Fingal,
and the poems of Ossian. If in these manuscripts a copy of
Oman's Poems, or even of one of the poems of Ossian, could
■fee found, it would lay the important controversy for ever to
rest. It would even be a point of primary importance, if the
icra of Fingsil could be exactly fixed. The manner in which
^inkarten has treated these poems is almost idiotical. The one
moment they are downright trash, and utterly contemptible^ and
the next, they contain many passages truly sublime, and are the
iproduction of some poet of superlative genius, who flourished in
the Highlands of Scotland during the fourteenth or fifteenth ctn-
tury. Satisfied with neither of these theories, be gives us a new
•ne in his list of errata, in the following words: — Since setivg
ffie speoiv^ens of the genuine traditional poems ascribed to Oisian
in the memoirs of the Irish Royal Society, the author is iuduced
to think that most of^hese pieces arc really composed hu Irish
]iards. In order to appreciate the r.ieaning of this important
ppncessioD, it is necessary to inform tjje reader that PiukaitoQ

NOTES. 407

tiuiformljr asserts that the Irish were the real and only ScoU up
to the eleventh century ; or, in other words, that Irish and Scots
were synonimous terms. The plain English of the matter then
is, that the poems ofOssian ate both Scottish and authentic. If
there is evidence enough in the memoirs of the Irish Royal So-
ciety to convince Pinkarton of the ^ntbeoticity of these poems,
there is certainly (considering his aoticeltic prejudices) tnuch
more than enough tci cotjvfnce all the world besides.' But the
pity is, that Scotland and Ireland have pulled in opposite direc.
tions; and by preferring each, its individual and etclusive claioi
have perplexed and obscured, instead of illustratiagthis iijiport-
ant point. The contention is mean, contemptible, and gratui.
tous. It is a matter of the utmost iodifTerence whether we call
these poems Stotlish or Irish, or whether we blend both names
together, and call them Scoto-Irish. The claims of both nations
are solid and well founded, with this difference, that the claim
of the Scots is more immediate and direct, that of the Irish more
distant and circuitous. Both nations are, however, sufficiently
interested to combine their efforts, and produce such documents
as they are respectively possessed of; and were this done, there
is not even the shadow of a doubt but the authetiticity of these
poems might be placed on a basis so firm and stable, as would
bid defiance to all future cavil or controversy.

Were Pinkarton a man of impartiality, or coiild we be certaia
that he had bestowed one serious thought on the subject, his
concession that these poems were composed by the Irish bards,
would be &f vast importaoce, because, according to his own de.
iinitioD, the Ii'ish bards were the ScolUshi Indeed, if the au-
thenticity of these poems is once fixed, the claims of the Irish
and Scots can be satisfactorily adjusted. But Pinkarloa gives
these poems to the Irish from mere whim and caprice, because
he is determined not to give them to the Scots; and had the
Welch preferred the slightest claim to tbeai, there is not a doubt
but he would have given them to Caradoc of Lancarwn, or Oicert
Glendower, without a scruple,. But what justice can any Scot
expect from him,- when he wrecks his fury on the very name, an(*

3 F 2

408 NOTES.

(vol, I. p. 366.) calls it the little word Scot. Where is there
a historian besides who could have made the sublime discovery
that Scot is a shorter word than Kamtschat/ca, or that the historic
merits of a name roust be determined by the number of letlers
which it Contains.

This gentleman is beyond all measure severe on Toland, and
the Irish historians. He brands Toland yi'iih infidelrty, and
says, (v. 2. p. 17.) -when he believed the Irish historians, he
might have swallowed the scriptures, or slbj thing. On the Irish
historians and their records, be has exhausted the whole voca.
fenlary of abuse, and even asserts (vol. 2. p. 14.) that he would
give up their history, (tales as he calls it) though its veracity
could be evidenced to all Europe by irrefragable proof s. What,
ever is supported by irrefragable proofs, ought not to be given
up ; but the very proposal shews his obstinate determination to
annihilate even the authentic history of Ireland. Bat I cannot
})etter ansv;er the cavils of this gentleman than by exhibiting to
the reader a specimen of the system which he himself Las reared,
which, from his avowed fastidiousness to others, might be ex.
pected to be the very quintessence of religious orthodoxy, and
historic truth, and which I shall give in his own identical vrords.
Jt is, saj s he, (Dissertation annexed to vol. 2. p. 33.) a self.evi.
(lent propositimi, that the author {^ nature, as he formed greiit
xarieiies in the same species of plants, and of animals, so he also
gave various races of men as inhabitants of several countries. A
Tartar, a Negroe, an A?nerican, S(c. Sfc. differ as muok from a
German, as a, or, or shepJierd's cur, from a
pointer. The differences are radical, and suck as no climate or
chance could produce ; and it may be expected, that as seiertce ad-
vuHces, able writers will give us a complete system of the mamf
different races of men. And again, (ibidem) — The latest and
best natural philosophers pronounce the flood impossible; an)i
their reasons, grounded on mathematical truth, and the im/nutatk
laws of nature, havi my full assent. These are, perhaps, ratht r
retrograde specimens of orthodoxy, but there was a dignus oin.
d/\-e nodus in the case, an absolute necessity for these important

NOTES. 40&

sacrifices, because his' Gottiic system could not stand without
them. But the true point of astonishment is, that the man who
can thus deliberately defty the creation of the world, the deluge,
and consequently the whole system of revelation, should have
the consummate impudence, or rather folly, to charge Mr. To-
land with infidelity, and disrespect to the sacred records. Hav.
ing thus sicalloteed the deluge, which impeded his Gothic career^
and modelled the creation to his own purpose, let us now attend
to the result. The Scythians, (Goths) says he, (ibidem, p. 187.)
whom the daten ofkistori) discovers in present Persia,- under their
king Tanaus, attack Vexores, king of Egypt, and conquer Asia^
(Justin) \bOO years before Ninus, or about 3660 before Christ.
By this means he makes the Scythians conquer Asiiain the 344th
year of the world, and exactly 586 years (aceording to scripture
chronology) before the death of Adam. Mr. Pinkarton was
here in a great strait. He must either credit Justin or the sacred
records. If the latter, neither he, nor his favourite Goths, conld
surmount the barrier of the deluge. But there was another ob^.
stacle in the wayj viz. scripture chronology. Concerning it, he
says, (ibidem, page 1 86.) — Ancient chronology has been ruined
by attempting to force it to scripture, which is surely no tanon (f
chronology. But ancient chronology ought only to be estimated
from ancient authors, and keptquile apart from scriptural chro.
nology. The date of the creation, ^c. can never be decided, etihtr
from scripture or otherwise, and such speculations are futile.
Orthodox and immaculate ehristianl!! .No wonder that thy
rtghteaas spirit was grieved with Toland's infidelity, and that
thou exclaimest most bitterly against it, ,Bat who is this mighty
Heathen Goliah,:he{oTe whom the whole system of revealed relri
gion must fall ? It is the vifeak, the foolish, the fabulous Justin,
the unprincipled abridger of Trogus Pompeius, who is, with Ihe
greatest good, reason, suspected of destroying the original, that
he might give currency to his own fictions. The reader is de-
sired to remark ihat Pinka-rton expressly says, (in the passage
already quoted) that ihe Scythians under their king Tanaus, at.
tack^ Vexores, king of Egypt, and conquer Asia, &c. and gives


Justin as his autborhy. But what will the reader thiuk of Mr<
Pinkarton, when I assure him that Justin does not once mention
Tanaus on the, occasion, nor, indeed, any Scythian king what-
ever; nay, what Is more, he does not, throughout his whole
treatise on the origin and history of the Scythians, contained iii
the five first chapters of his second book, once mention the name
of Tanaus. The only Scythian kings he mentions are Sagillus
and Janeirus, the first cotemporary with Hercules, and the last
\rith Darius. Justin had, however, fixed (he Kra of both these
kings, and they were, besides, too modern for Mr. Pinkarton's
purpose. But as Justin had assigned the Egyptians a king, and
had been so unpolite as to march the Scythians to this war with,
out one, Mr. Pinkarton was obliged to look out for a straggltt
of some kind or other, and place him at th« head of his red hair,
ed friends. This straggler Tanaus he found in the first chapter
of the first oeok of Justin. Speaking of Ninus, and the Assyrian
monarchy, which he reckons the first on record, Justin proceeds
thus — Fuere quidem ietnporiius anliquiores, Sesostris J^gffpti,
et Sei/thiae rex Tanaus; quorum alter in Powtum, alter usqve
^gyptum proeessit. Sed longinqua, nonfinitima bella gerebant,
nee imperium sibi, sed populis suis gloriam qutprebani, cotUenti.
que victoria^ imperio abstinebant. Ninus magnitudinem queesilae
domintttiottis continua possessiotteJirmaKit — i. e. " Sesostris, king
of Egypt, and Tanaus, king of Scythia, were indeed more ancient
than Ninas, the one of whom advanced as far as Poatos, and the
other as far as Egypt. But they carried on wars at a distance,
not in their own vicinity, nor did they seek dominion for them.
selves, but glory for their people; and, content with victory,
did not domineer oyer the conquered. Ninus established th«
greatness of his acquired dominion by taking immediate posses,
sion of his conquests." In the preceding part of the chapter,
Justin informs ns of the justice and equity of ancient kings, who
defended theborderaof their own kingdoms, but did not advance
them by encroachments on their neighbours; and then proceed*
as above quoted. Ninus was the first who broke through this
•qultalile principle. Josfin admits there were two kings before

NOTES. 411

him, Sesbstris and Tanatis, who made conquests, but did not re-
fain them, whereas Nimis took immediate possession, and conso-
lidated his new conquests with his former douiiiiions. From
JTustin, all that we know of Tanaus is, that he penetrated as far
iis Egypt — that he was prior to JSinus, and posterior to Sesds.
iris. The war of Sesostris against the Scythians happened 1480
years before our a;ra. Justin pats Tanaus after Sesostris, and
it is certainly-allowing too much, if we make them cotemporary.
Jjet us then allow that Tanaus lived 1480 years before our aera-
But Justin reckons that the war of the Scythians against the
Egyptians, under Vexores, took place 3660 years before the
christian xra, or 2100 years before Tanaus was in existence.
But if there ever was such a king as Vexores, who, according to
Justin, (lib. 2. cap. 3.) not only declared war against the Scy.
thians^ but sent ambassadors to tell them the terms of their ser.
fitude, why does he not mention him as the first tyrant on record,
especially when professedly g'ving us a list of the earliest usur.
pers ? Foolish and fabulous, however, as Justin is, I must ac.
quit him of saying that Tanaus led the Scythians against the
Egyptidns under Vexores. It ist a meaji, deliberate falsefhood,
fabricated by Pinkarton, and imposed on Justin to give' it the
stamp of currency and credibility. Finding Tanaus, a king of
the Scythians, mentioned by Justin, (lib-. 1. cap. 1.) without aa
army, and an" army of Scythians without a king, (lib. 2. cap, 3.)
he instantly appoints him to the command of this army, without
even considering that he must have been 2100 years old when he
took the command, or (which is much the same) must have taken
the command 2100 years before he was bonn. Had he appoint,
ed General WoFfe, or the Duke of Marlborough to the command
of the Caledonian army which fought against the Romans under
AgriCpln, it would have been modest in comparison of this.

But Justin may easily be made consistent with himself, and
'With Herodotus, Dicaearchus, Diodorus, Siculus, &c. who make
Sfsostris conquer the Scythians. It is well-known that Egypj
had six kings of the name of Sesostris, It had also two kings
fif tjie name pf Ptolmtt/, the one, for the sake of distinctioji, sir.

412 ^ NOTES.

named Soter, or Lagus, the other Philadelphus. The most fa.
Bious of their kings who bore the name of SesoHris, was s.rnam.
ed Rameses Miriam. For distinction's sake, a series of kings of
the same name must have some discriminating epithet or appel.
latioB, The Sesostris mentioned by Justin was probably sur.
named Vexores, and then both were the same person. There is
nothing ascribed to them by Justin, that will not much better
apply to one person, than to two different persons. Sesostris,
according to Justin, was the first usurper on record, and so was
Vex-ores. According to Herodotus, Sesostris was the first Egyp-
tian king who fought against the Scythians, and, according to
Justin, it was Vexores. In order to solve all the difficnities of
the case, we hate only to suppose that the name of this king was
Sesostris Vexores, whom Justin's stupidity (for it is well known
he was no great head piece) split into two different kings. How
f;ortunate was it that he did not hit on Sesostris Rameses Miri.
am, and split him into three. But this blunder of Justin was
singularly convenient for Pinkarton, because it placed his fa.
Tourite Goths (Scythians) on the throne of Asia ISl': years be.
fore the deluge, and hence he fights as strenuously for Vexores
as he does for Gqthieism itself. Well aware that Justin, in this
particular, is contradicted by every ancient author, without ex-
ception, he must have been sensible that the case was hopeless
and desperate in the extreme, and the proof he adduces is equally
desperate. He quotes TVogus, Tragus Pompeitts, Trogus^ Nar.
rative, Trogui' Ancient History, &c. without being able to pro.
duce one sentence, or even one word of that author. He might
at least have favoured us with one word, though it had been no
larger thin the little word Scot, But does this gentleman really
imagine mankind so ignorant as not to know that Trogns" An~
cicnt Hhtory has been lost more than 1500 years, and that his
friend Justin is violently suspected of having been the mnrderpr
of it. It would have been much the honester way to have told
us candidly that Trogus was dead and his work lost, and that
ha had no evidence to adduce. Had Mr. Pinkarton a cause de-
p.puiitng ill the Court of Session, in which the eTidence of TroguS

NOTES. 413

^ Pompeius might be of service to him; and -vrcre he to come
sweating and panting into court with this dead Roman historiaa
on his back, and offer him as a witness, would not he be consi-
dered as a madman ? Now, I appeal to all the world, if it is not'
as ridiculous to endeavour to elicit evidence' frdcn a dead work,
as from a dead man. The next evidences adduced are two reve-
rend bishops, Epiphanius and Eusehius, vpho, so far from being
of any service to him, &o not even mention Vexores, or indeed
in the remotest degree allude to him. The sum total of their
evidence is, that in their days there was a religious errx>r in the
church named Scythism. The last proof is an extract from the
Chronicon Paschale, p. 23, which also reckons Scythism one of
the religious errors then prevalent. Let us now see the amount
Qf this evidence. The first is a dead work, which can prove no.
thing ; the next two bishops, who know nothing at all about the
matter; and as to the Chronicon Paschale, its evidence coincides
exactly with that of the bishops. The point to be proved was,
that Vexores, king of the Egyptiams, u-as defeated hy the Scythi.
ans 3660 ^ears before the Christian xera, or, (according to scrip-
ture chronology), 131^ i/ears before the deluge. The amount of
tiie proof is, that in- the early Christian churches, there was an
error or heresy named Scythism. Yet on this single passage of
Justin, clearly dverturned by the evidence of scripture chrono-
logy, and contradicted by e-^ery profane author who has written
on the subject, has Mr. Pinkarton founded his favourite theory;
and on this fictitious twig, on wliieh no Celt would risk his cat,
this grave and formal advocate for religious orthodoxy and his.
toric truth, sits perched, bearing (like another Atlas) on his
shoulders the gigantic weight of the whole Gothic system.

Having, after this arduous struggle against truth and heaven,
seated his red-haired friends on the throne of Asia, 1312 years
before the deluge, one would be apt to suppose that his labours
had been sufficiently Herculean, and that he would new sit
down happy and contented. Vain thought ! ! [ AH that is yet
performed is only like a drop in the bucket, in comparison of
what remains (o bie atchjcv,'(l. Ke savs (ibidem, p. 23,} If any

414 NOTES.

reader inclmet to look upon the deluge as fabulous, or, at most,
a local event, and desires to learn whence the Scythians came to
present Persia, he need not be told that it is impossible to answer
him. With their residence in Persia, commences the faintest
dawn of history : beyond, although the period may amount to
myriftds of ages, there is nothing but profound darkness. It
vill be recollected that be has already placed the Scythians in
Asia 1312 years before the deluge j and, in order to ascertain
the probable period of endurance prior to that period, here as.
signed them, I beg leave to remark — Imo, that a myriad is ten
thousand years ; 2do, that an age is generally considered a cen.
tury. A myriad of centuries is one million of years. The length
of time which he supposes the Scythian empire may probably
haTe lasted in Persia, prior to the 344th year of the world, is,
therefore, many millions of years. Ye upstart and mnshroom
chronologers of Chaldea and China, hang down your heads and
hide your faces for ever '. ! ! What are yoar 200,000 or 300,000
years, compared to this? I have been the more particular in in.
vesiigating the merits of this passage of Justin — Imo, because it
is the very foundation stone of the Gothic system ; Sdo, because
it is made a handle of to subvert scripture chronology, scripture
itself, and in a word all that is sacred and venerable in heaven
and on earth ; 3tio, because Mr. Pinkarton has treated Toland,
and the Irish historians, as downright roadmen, and I therefore
found it necessary to sketch the outlines of the religious and his.
torical fabric which he himself has reared, that I mig^it contrast
it with that of Toland and the Irish, and let the public judge for
themselves. In treating of the Irish records, and exhibiting
their most prominent features io view, I shall adhere to the same
impartiality which I have observed in handling Mr, Pinkarton's
system, I cannot here help remarking, that Mr. Pinkarton has
withheld from public view many particulars respecting the Scy-
thians. Pliny (lib. 7. cap. 2.) says that the Scythians of Mount
Imaus had their toes turned back behind them, and their heels
toremost, and that they were of incredible swiftness, avcrnspost
cj-ur<s phntis, eximiae velocitittif. In describing t^e Scy thiapf.

KOTES. 415

such a striV'Dg peculiarity ought not to ha?e been omitted.
Had Piiny tiirned his attetjtion to the more elevated parts of the
body, we might perhaps have found that the structure of their'
heads was equally retrograde with that of their heels ; and on
this principle some modern Gothic pteposterosities might be ac.

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 29 of 31)