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same recondite topic. The point at issue between Sanchoniathon and the Irish is thus, with ludicrous gravity, laid down by the learned General.
'This I venture to say, from comparing the Irish history of the Cabiri with the Phoenician; for example, why should Ouranus, the Heavens, marry his sister Ge, the Earth, and bring forth, 1st, Ilus, who is called Cronus; 2d, Betylus; 3d, Dagon, who is Siton, or the god of corn; and, 4th, Atlas; because in the Irish story, Aoran the ploughman marries Ge or Ce, the Earth, and the first ploughing brings forth Ilus, weeds, stones, oats, &c. &c.'
That we should have despaired of ever finding another such antiquarian,-one so rich in absurdity,-will hardly be deemed wonderful. But the thing that hath been is that which shall be ;' and the cycle of human absurdity, if it does not, like the Periodic year of the Stoics, bring back the same man to say the same foolish thing, brings round others, at least, to say it for him. Not only in the work on the Round Towers,' now before us, but also in another extraordinary production, entitled 'Nimrod,' as remarkable for its eccentricity as for its omnigenous erudition, there occur speculations respecting Ireland and her past history, which even Vallancey might wish his own; and which show clearly, that to write about that country almost as much unsettles the wits of people as to legislate for it.
Taking up the notion that Ulysses, in the course of the various voyages attributed to him, passed some time in Ireland, ‘I am strongly of opinion,' says the author of Nimrod, that Ulysses is the original Patricius of Ireland, celebrated in the 'style of a Saint, as Hercules, Perseus, and Triptolemus were ' at Antioch, and afterwards throughout Christendom, under the name of Georgius, the seventh champion.' Having thus satisfied himself that Ulysses was St Patrick, he arrives, with equal ease, at the conclusion that Penelope was St Bridget,* and informs us that her famous distaff is still preserved in the island of
* The Greeks had a custom, long retained by the Athenians, of carrying, each new year, to their neighbour's house, an olive branch surrounded with wool, and called Eires-Ionè, the Dove's-branch with Wool; and these yearly visits, I conceive, are nearly akin to those mentioned by Suidas in '12. Now, the Celts of Britain or Armorica, in France, have the like custom of going with the mistletoe to each other's doors, at the new year, crying, au gui l'an neuf." That the branch with wool relates to the distaff of Penelope, or St Bridget, I think probable from Homer's line,
VOL. LIX, NO. CXIX.
Berkerry. Among his reasons for concluding that Ulysses was St Patrick are the following:- Ulysses, during his detention ' in Aiaia, was king of a host of swine; and Patrick, during a 'six years' captivity in the hands of king Milcho or Malcho, was employed to keep swine. Ulysses flourished in Babel, and St Patrick was born at Nem-Turris, or the Celestial Tower: the ⚫ type of Babel, in Irish mythology, is Tory Island, or the Island of the Tower.'
Whether it is supposed by this learned gentleman that the poet Homer ever visited Ireland, we cannot very clearly make out; but that some of Homer's near relatives were once quartered there is evidently his opinion. At the time of St Patrick's landing,' he says, "Niul of the nine hostages was King of Ireland; but I 'strongly suspect the fable of his hostages originated in Homer's 'name being supposed to mean a hostage, and that the nine hos' tages are nine Homers, or successions of Homeridæ, from Niul the Learned."* The Irish might well afford to spare one Ossian to Macpherson, when they were so well supplied with Homers. The fabulous cave, in the province of Ulster, called St Patrick's Purgatory, he supposes to be the fosse dug by Ulysses, as mentioned in the Odyssey; and his mode of accounting for the name of Ulster, on this supposition, is not a little ingenious. • The fossa Patricii,' he says, was in the province called Ulidia, "Oylister, or Ulster, which seems to me to be Ulyssis Terra.'
We cannot, even thus passingly, advert to this very singular work without expressing seriously our regret that such rich and varied stores of scholarship, so much refined ingenuity and industrious zeal, should have been employed in researches which but longsomely and laboriously lead to nothing, and speculations little more sound than are a sick man's dreams.
We have now to ascend, even still higher, the cloud-capt regions of Antiquarianism, in order to arrive at Mr O'Brien, who sits supreme in his vocation,- sedet altus Olympo, overtopping even the old Pelion, Vallancey himself. Though this gentleman's present labours refer chiefly to that most fertile source of wonderment and conjecture, the Irish Round Towers, the remote date of these venerable structures throws open so wide a play-ground to the fancy, that he must be a puny Milesian who could not, like Sir Callaghan O'Brallaghan, people' the whole space between 'with his own hands. The original Essay, of which the volume before us is an enlargement, obtained one of the prizes proposed by the Royal Irish Academy, in the
year 1832, for the best Essay on the subject of the Round Towers of Ireland. Conceiving himself alone to be in the secret of the birth, parentage, and bringing up of these Towers, Mr O'Brien naturally felt aggrieved by the decision of the Council, which adjudged the principal prize to another, and, as he thought, unduly favoured competitor; and a correspondence ensued, in consequence, between him and some of the officers of the Academy, which is now laid before the public in the Preface to the present work.
Mr O'Brien's anxiety for the preservation of his great secret respecting the Towers, seems to have haunted him even to the very eve of its disclosure, as appears from the following note, addressed by him to a brother antiquarian, Mr Godfrey Higgins, the author of The Celtic Druids."
May 2, 1833.
DEAR SIR, I hope you will not feel displeased at the frankness of this question which I am about to propose to you, viz. have you any objection to show me, in the manuscript, before you send to print, the terms in which you speak of me, in reference to those points of information which I intrusted to your confidence-such as the ancient names of Ireland, and their derivation, the towers and founders, dates, &c. • Should you think proper to consent to this feeling of anxiety on my part, I shall be most willing to share with you those other "points which I exclusively retain. To the full extent you shall have these,' &c.
Mr Higgins's answer to the above note follows; and from this document it transpires that the Round Towers were not Mr O'Brien's only secret, but that he also knew something about the Indian god, Buddha, which he was no less anxious to keep concealed from the ears of the profane.
May 3, 1833.
'MY DEAR O'BRIEN,-You may be perfectly assured I shall print nothing which I have learned from you without acknowledging it. But I have really forgotten what you told me, because I considered that. I should see it in print in a few days. Any thing I shall write on the subject, will not be printed for years after your books have been before the public. You did not tell me the name of Buddha, but I told it you, that it was Saca or Saca-sa, which I have already printed a hundred times, and can show you in my great quarto, when you take your tea with me, as I hope you will to-morrow. Sir W. Betham told me of the Fire Towers being * last night, at the Antiquarian G. HIGGINS."
Society. Yours truly,
It will be seen from this, that Mr Higgins,-who, being an antiquarian himself, ought to have known better,had not only
promulgated, before the time was ripe,' the ineffable name, Sacasa, but had even blabbed, at a learned rout, the great secret of the Round Towers. Not to subject ourselves to a charge of similar imprudence, we have thrown, as the reader sees, a modest veil of asterisks round the mystery; being resolved, for our own parts, at least,-to keep Mr O'Brien's secret religiously and faithfully. We may be told that already it is all in print,—but publishing is not always divulging; and we would almost pledge ourselves that the secret of this book will be nearly as safe in the hands of its respectable publishers, Messrs Whittaker & Co., Ave-Maria Lane, as in Mr O'Brien's own breast.
Before we part, however, with his great mystery, we must say a word or two as to his boast of being himself the first promulgator of it. On the contrary, General Vallancey, from whom he has had most of his learned vagaries at second hand, is, in this instance also, his provider ;—that imaginative General having drawn frequent parallels between the Muidhr of the Irish, and the Mahadeva of the Hindus,-between the emblem called Dia Teibith by the former, and the mystic Bahva of the latter. In the remarkable work, too, called Nimrod,' which we have just cited, and which has been before the public some years, Mr O'Brien will find this great discovery, which he so grandly proclaims to be now for the first time revealed,' stated quietly, in a single sentence, with as much sang froid as if it was no discovery at all. They are fire-temples,' (says the author of Nimrod,) and ithyphallic Nimrodian towers. The contrast, indeed, between a self-satisfied Englishman and a self-satisfied Irishman could not be better illustrated than by the juxtaposition of this short, pithy assertion, with the following Io Triumphe of Mr O'Brien:
Will this be considered the vapouring of conceit? is it the spouting of self-sufficient inanity ? Let the heartless utilitarian, ' unable to appreciate the motives which first enlisted me in this enquiry, and which still fascinate my zeal, at an age, when,— ' did not my love for truth, and the rectification of my country's history, rise superior to the mortification of alienated honour,I should have flung from me letters and literature in disgust, ' and betaken myself an adventurer for distinction as a soldier,— 'let such, I say, conceal within himself his despicable worldlymindedness, and leave me unmolested, if unrewarded, to poste'rity.-P. 130.
Again, in commemorating Persia, as the builder of the Irish Round Towers, he exclaims- This was the moment of Persia's halcyon pride this the period of her earthly coruscation: to this have all the faculties of my ardent mind been addressed;
' and while, in the humble consciousness of successful investigation, 'I announce its issue to have far exceeded my hopes, I shall 'avail myself of the industry of preceding enquirers to throw 'light upon the intervals, of value, which intervene.'-P. 178.
We have also another remark to venture, with respect to one of the engravings with which Mr O'Brien has decorated his book. We recollect, in Sir Walter Scott's Life of Dryden, where he mentions the compliment intended by Tonson to King William, in having the features of Æneas, in all the prints to Dryden's Virgil, made to resemble those of the monarch, the illustrious biographer tells us that the engraver contrived to aggravate the 6 nose of Æneas into a sufficient resemblance to the hooked pro'montory of the Deliverer's countenance. In a similar manner, we suspect that Mr O'Brien's engraver has been induced to accommodate the Tower of Clondalkin to his learned employer's theory. We say no more :-Norunt Fideles.
In most of his general views, Mr O'Brien follows implicitly, as we have said, in the steps of Vallancey. With that great mixer up of nations, he conceives the Chaldæans to have been among the earliest colonists of Ireland,-supplying this colony from his own pure fancy, with an order of priests called Boreades, by whom the Scythian Druids that succeeded them were instructed, he says, in all sorts of knowledge. Like Vallancey, too, he seems well disposed to make the most of the Irish, in the way of antiquarianism, by converting them into a number of other people, besides Chaldæans, such as Etrurians, Hindus, Pishdadians, Egyptians, &c.
The famous traveller, Bishop Pococke, on visiting Ireland, after his return from the East, was much struck, as a letter of his own informs us, with the amazing conformity' he observed between the Irish and the Egyptians; and a wag of the present day has pointed out a mark of affinity between the two nations, which, to our minds, is quite as satisfactory as any that Bishop Pococke himself could suggest. It runs thus :—
-rod ba According to some learn'd opinions,
But, judging from some late descriptions,
stecq of,5af My reason's this:—the Priests of Isis,
When forth they march'd, in grand array,
Mong Irish Lords, this Pagan plan;
b92291bbs 1199 For still, in all religious cases,
They put Lord R- -n in the van.'