A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Toland, John

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Toland, John (1670?-1722). -- Deistical writer, b. in Ireland of Roman Catholic parentage, completed his education at Glasgow, Edin., and Leyden. Very early in life he had become a Protestant, and at Leyden he studied theology with the view of becoming a Nonconformist minister, but imbibed Rationalistic views. He then resided for some time at Oxf., and in 1696 pub. his first work, Christianity not Mysterious, which was censured by Convocation and gave rise to much controversy. Next year he returned to Ireland, where, however, he was not more popular than in England, and where his book was burned by the common hangman. Returning to England he took to writing political pamphlets, including one, Anglia Libera, in support of the Brunswick succession, which gained him some favour at Hanover, and he was sent on some political business to the German Courts. He then served Harley in Holland and Germany practically as a political spy. His later years were passed in literary drudgery and poverty. Among his numerous writings may be mentioned Account of Prussia and Hanover, Origines Judaicæ, History of the Druids, and a Life of Milton prefixed to an ed. of his prose works.