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ART. I.— The Cabinet Cyclopædia. Conducted by the Rev. Dionysius
Lardner, L.L.D., F.R.S., L. and E., and assisted by eminent Literary and Scientific Gentlemen. History.--Scotland. By Sir Walter Scott, Bart. vol. i. pp. 352, foolscap Bro. London: Longman and Co.,
and J. Taylor. 1830. We feel not a little sorry and disappointed, that we cannot congratulate Dr. Lardner on the debút of his “ Cyclopædia,” emblazoned though it be, with the name of so distinguished an author as Sir Walter Scott. Looking, however, merely at the size and appearance of the volume, as a specimen of the work in general, it must at once be pronounced well calculated to compete with other popular publications of a similar kind; and this alone cannot fail to obtain it a wide circulation.
But we turn for a moment to Dr. Lardner's plan, as it is sketched in the prospectus. It sounds, we confess, very imposing to hear this Cyclopædia' described as 'forming in itself a complete library, affording an extensive and infinitely varied store of instruction and amusement, presenting just so much on every subject as those not professionally engaged in it require-convenient in size, attractive in form, elegant. in illustrations, and most moderate in expense." (Prospectus, page 4). “That this end may be attained,” we are farther told," it will be necessary, as far as possible, to divest science of its technicalities; to abandon its conventional language ; to dispense with those great aids to expression derived from peculiar forms of notation ; and to unfold its truths in the colloquial phraseology of ordinary life. To do all this without sacrificing that soundness of reasoning, and those fine generalizations which constitute the spirit of true science, and alone distinguish it from knowledge merely practical, is possible only for those who are conversant with its most profound details.
NO. LIII. VOL. XIII.
Impressed with this conviction, the conductor has thought it advisable to solicit the aid of some of the highest characters in the scientific world.” (Page 7). But he could not in our humble opinion have committed a more palpable mistake.
He ought rather to have solicited those whose scientific writings have acquired deserved popularity, such as Dr. Arnott, Mr. Charles Bell, Mr. J. L. Knapp (author of the Journal of a Naturalist), Mrs. Marcet, &c.; but in his list of names we do not find one of this description in the scientific department, though the greater number are distinguished for the abstruseness and profundity of their published works-qualities the very opposite of those required. It is indeed exceedingly rare to meet with a man of science who has a talent for exhibiting his knowledge in a popular and attractive form; and for this reason, amongst others, that he is not aware, and does not feel, that the technical forms of expression so familiar to himself are totally unintelligible to others, - while his mind is, for the most part, too stiff and unwieldy to trip it amongst the lighter and more amusing departments of knowledge. We happen to know, however, that
several of the scientific gentlemen, whose names do honour to Dr. Lardner's prospectus, selfflatteringly conceive themselves well fitted for the task of popularizing science. When any of them succeeds in this, however, it will be time enough to triumph: till then they must remain contented with the fame which they have already most deservedly acquired for their purely scientific productions. If they succeed in illuminating the pages of the Cyclopædia,' we shall be amongst the first to hail the dawn of their fame in so praise-worthy an undertaking.
Our readers we foresee will be no less surprised than we were, to find Sir Walter's History of Scotland precisely of the character which we have anticipated from the prospectus of the whole Cyclopædia.'
The history before us, in a word, is dry, meagre, and lifeless-a mere scaffolding of chronological notices without the filling up, like those sapient productions yclept skeleton sermons, which some young divines task themselves to be-patch with pulpit paragraphs. Sir Walter, we perceive, is fully aware of this, and partly acknowledges the influence of the deadening spell of the abridger under which he composed it, when he talks of it as a 'graver publication, and of the necessity of rejecting many details which engage the attention and fascinate the imagination.' But this, it cannot fail to be remarked, is in direct opposition to the prospectus itself, which expressly promises the "excluding of dry details," and the introduction of “tales which have been hallowed by antiquity, or perpetuated by the fascination of poetry.” As this was the very province where Sir Walter could have shone unrivalled, it certainly was preposterously bad policy to set him the task of compiling a couple of arid volumes of chronological
annals—for which, with all deference, we deem him peculiarly onfit, from his great want of accuracy, of which we gave a very striking example in our Review of his “Tales of a Grandfather,"* and to which we could add several from the volume before us. We shall only for the present advert to one or two singular misstatements.
• The most numerous people in Scotland,' says Sir Walter, 'seem to have been the Picts. The successes of the Saxons had, indeed, driven them, as a nation, from Lothian, and their possession of Galwegia (Galloway and part of Ayrshire), was only partial. But they possessed Fife and Angus, Stirling, and Pertshire; more north of this they held all the north-eastern counties. Wrad, the last of the Pictish monarchs, died at Forteviot, ip 842, fighting in defence of his capital and kingdon, and the Pictish people were subdued. Tradition and ancient history combine in representing Kenneth, when victorious, as extirpatiog the whole race of Picts, which we must consider as an exaggeration. More modern authors, shocked at the improbability of such an incident, have softened it down, by supposing, that on the death of Wrad, Kenneth occupied the Pictish throne by inheritance, as lawful heir in right of his grandmother Urgadria. But it is a great bar to this modified opinion, that from the time of Kenneth Macalpine's victory over Wrad, no more is spoken in Scottish history, of the Pictish people or the Pictish crown.'—p. 12.
It is singularly unfortunate, however, that Sir Walter himself, in this very volume, a few pages onwards, affords the means of contradicting his decision respecting the disappearance of the Picts. In speaking of the army of David I., no less than three hundred years after the era of Wrad and Kenneth, he quotes a monkish chronicle, as saying “ That accursed army consisted of Normans, Germans, and English, of Cambrian Britons, of Northumbrians, of men of Teviotdale and Lothian, of Picts, commonly called men of Galloway, and of Scots.” (p. 27). Sir Robert Sibbald, also, distinctly proves that the Picts were recognised as a people even so late as the time of William the Conqueror. Sir Robert quotes the following passage from Ingulphus.
After the death of the renowned King Edward, Athelstane, his son, succeeded. Against him Anlapp, son of Sitric, formerly King of Northumberland, rebelled, and carried on a cruel war Having entered into a confederacy with Constantine, King of the Scots, and Owen, King of Cumberland, and many other barbarous chiefs, he fought the King of England. The army which Anlaff drew together consisted of a vast multitude of Danes and Norwegians, Scots and Picts, &c.” And in another place, Ingulphus says " He had passed the troops of the Orkney men and the Picts.t And it is certain there were some of them, under the name of Picts, in
Monthly Review for March, 1829, p. 338. † “ The number of this army was very great. It was conveyed to the Humber in 615 ships."
England, in the time of William the Conqueror, as appeareth from a statue of bis we shall give you, which the learned seldom furnisheth to us, from an imperfect copy of Hoveden, the English historian, and from William Lambard's Coder de Priscis Anglorum Legibus, wherein he says, ' There are published several of the ancient laws of England, which, however, do not everywhere agree with the copy I use.' He judgeth it fit to exhibit it'in his notes and Specilegium ad Eadmerum, page 189, thus— William, by the grace of God, King of England, and Duke of the Normans, to all his subjects of France and England greeting—Law. li. Of Religion and the public Peace :—We ordain, in the first place and above all, that one God be worshipped through all our kingdom, and that the faith of Jesus Christ be kept inviolate, that there be peace, security, concord, and justice, betwixt the English and Normans, the Franks and Britons of Wales and Cornwall, the Picts and Scots of Albany, &c.' William obtained the crown of England in 1066. This statute, therefore, if correctly edited, points out the existence of the Picts as a separate people towards the end of the 11th century.”-Sibbald's Account of Fife and Kinross.
Sir Walter, therefore, has evidently drawn a hasty and inaccurate conclusion in the passage which we have above quoted. His account of the Picts, as a people, abounds with similar inacciracies. He tells us, for example, that the Picts were Celts by origin,' but‘mingled with settlers from the north, of Gothic name, descent, and language.' (p. 7.) And again, that the Pictish lana guage' was probably Celtic, with a strong tinge of Gothic.' (p. 1%) Those who know any thing of the character of the Celts, as a people, must at once perceive that this is erroneous; for they have in all ages, as they now remain, been peculiarly averse to mingle with strangers, and their language is so radically different from the Gothic dialects, that any amalgamation, or tinge,' as Sir Walter has it, is out of the question. We would ask him wheiher. there is now the slightest 'tinge' of Saxon in the dialect of the Celtic tribes in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, whose intercourse is almost daily with the Saxon part of our population? Thisso tercourse, also, we may fairly conclude is much more intimate and close in the case of our modern Celts, than it could be from his supposed mingling of Gothic settlers; yet Sir Walter knows well that, except in a very few words, forced into the Cambro- British and Erse dialects, by the introduction of modern inventions among them, their language has not derived the slightest tinge from our vernacular Saxon, no more than it has done from the Celtic.
More than this, we are prepared to bring forward unquestionable proof that the Celtic language was not understood by the Picts so far back as the year 565, or soon after. In that year, St. Columba, who was indisputably a Celt, arrived from Ireland, as an Apostle of Christianity, and it is from a life of him, written in