Page images



JULY, 1852.

Art. I.— Cyclops Christianus ;'or, an Argument to disprove

the supposed Antiquity of the Stonehenge and other Megalithic Erections in England and Britanny. By ALGERNON HER

BERT. Petheram, High Holborn. 1849. The march of inquiry is producing wonderful havoc. We are every year dispossessed of some childhood's fancy or manhood's prejudice. We once as little doubted the right of our first William to the title of Conqueror' as, in our unreasoning infancy, we questioned the historical existence of the wives of Bluebeard, or the cat of Whittington. But we are growing wiser. We are now told to attach no higher meaning to William's soubriquet, as the first of his line, than the lawyer who gave it intended we should, and to repudiate its connexion with notions of heroism and conquest. It is many years since German professors destroyed our confidence in Romulus and Remus, but we still regarded with fond security the names and deeds of the Druids as ground which the rude hands of criticism dared not invade, little dreaming that our children would be taught to doubt that Stonehenge-Sacred Stonehenge! was the work of that time-honoured priesthood ! Yet that that hour of scepticism is at hand, the 'gloss' upon the quaint title of the above treatise will go far to convince us.

The book thus unpretendingly introduced to us exhibits much varied learning and research, and reopens a question of such general interest, that we make no apology for bringing it before our readers. It is, in fact, a partial reproduction, in a more popular form, of a subject discussed at greater length in two works called Britannia after the Romans,' and an Essay on the Neo-Druidic Heresy, published by the author some years ago, but which from their size and arrangement scarcely presented sufficient attraction to the general reader. Mr. Herbert is perhaps also remembered by the virtuosi as the juvenile author


[ocr errors]


of some · Discussions on several passages of History and Mythology,' an original and not uninteresting attempt to mould into form and order some of the doubts and fancies which the Wolf and Bryant school of criticism brought into fashion. Whatever may be thought of the value of the theories propounded in those works, there can be little question of their being the production of an able and capacious mind animated with all the ardour necessary for the deepest research. So far our author presents sufficient credentials for this his latest task. But the hand which clears the rubbish from the surface of the mine, and opens the first glimpse of the bright veins beneath, performs too often a thankless labour. To remove such a reproach is our present object. It is simply our desire to draw attention to and acknowledge the obligation which works like that before us confer on our literature, hoping that the time may not be far distant when the inquiries here instituted may awaken a corresponding spirit of research, and elicit, what they at least deserve, a deliberate disproval. The doctrine of the Cyclops' unrefuted tends to dissipate at once the theories of the scholar and the traditions of the unlearned ; and lest any one rashly condemn it as fanciful or imaginative, let him remember how simply mythical are all the present notions which, in the absence of sure tradition, we entertain on the subject--mythical too, without rhyme or reason in their falsehood. Mr. Herbert has wrought a great work, if it is only to rescue from obscurity the antimyth of Stonehenge-the true poetical, if not the real historical, version of its origin.

We will abstain here from criticising the real value of the quotations made from the obsolete learning of our author, but will, for the present purpose, take them upon trust, 'perito cuique in arte suá credendum est;' for we think we shall better deserve the thanks of those who have not time to go through this laborious work, if we endeavour to present them with a slight sketch of some of Mr. Herbert's arguments and general results.

The first part of his task is devoted to the refutation of established traditional prejudice, which, lichen-like, has obscured the original characters imprinted on all monuments of old, rendering them illegible to any but a zealous and discriminating inquirer.

Mr. Herbert contends that it is erroneous to infer, in the absence of any more certain information, that the date of megalithic works must be carried back to a remote age, and their origin ascribed to a 'nation of whom tradition has scarcely preserved the name.' 'Antiquity,' Mr. Herbert argues, is essentially a relative term, most grievously abused in common parlance. It is, in fact, to the modern archæologist what the Hyperboreans

« PreviousContinue »