"Mr. Gibbon says, (74) "Pliny was sent into Bithynia (according to Pagi) in the year 110."
"Now that accurate Chronologer places it in the year 102. See the fact recorded in his Critica-Historico-Chronologica in Annales C. Baronii, A.D. 102. p. 99. faec. ii. § 3."
"I appeal to my reader, Whether this anachronism does not plainly prove that our Historian never looked into Pagi's Chronology, though he has not hesitated to make a pompous reference to him in his note?" (75)
I cannot help observing, that either Mr. Davis's Dictionary is extremely confined, or that in his Philosophy all sins are of equal magnitude. Every error of fact or language, every instance where he does not know to reconcile the original and the reference, he expresses by the gentle word of misrepresentation. An inaccurate appeal to the sentiment of Pagi, on a subject where I must have been perfectly disinterested, might have been styled a lapse of memory, instead of being censured as the effect of vanity and ignorance. Pagi is neither a difficult nor an uncommon writer, nor could I hope to derive much additional fame from a pompous quotation of his writings, which I had never seen.
The words employed by Mr. Davis, of fact, of record, of anachronism, are unskilfully chosen, and so unhappily applied, as to betray a very shameful ignorance, either of the English language, or of the nature of this Chronological Question. The date of Pliny's government of Bithynia is not a fact recorded by any ancient writer, but an opinion which modern critics have variously formed, from the consideration of presumptive and collateral evidence. Cardinal Baronius placed the consulship of Pliny one year too late, and, as he was persuaded that the old practice of the republic still subsisted, he naturally supposed that Pliny obtained his province immediately after the expiration of his consulship. He therefore sends him into Bithynia in the year which, according to his erroneous computation, coincided with the year one hundred and four (Baron. Annal. Eccles. A.D. 103. No I. 104. No I), or, according to the true chronology, with the year one hundred and two, of the Christian AEra. This mistake of Baronius, Pagi, with the assistance of his friend Cardinal Noris, undertakes to correct. From an accurate parallel of the Annals of Trajan and the Epistles of Pliny, he deduces his proofs that Pliny remained at Rome several years after his Consulship; by his own ingenious, though sometimes fanciful theory, of the imperial Quinquennalia, &c. Pagi at last discovers that Pliny made his entrance into Bithynia in the year one hundred and ten. "Plinius igitur anno Christi CENTESIMO DECIMO Bithyniam intravit." Pagi, tom. i. p. 100.
I will be more indulgent to my adversary than he has been to me: I will admit, that he has looked into Pagi; but I must add, that he has only looked into that accurate Chronologer. To rectify the errors, which, in the course of a laborious and original work, had escaped the diligence of the Cardinal, was the arduous task which Pagi proposed to execute: and for the sake of perspicuity, he distributes his criticisms according to the particular dates, whether just or faulty, of the Chronology of Baronius himself. Under the year 102, Mr. Davis confusedly saw a long argument about Pliny and Bithynia, and without condescending to read the Author whom he pompously quotes, this hasty Critic imputes to him the opinion which he had so laboriously destroyed.
My readers, if any readers have accompanied me thus far, must be satisfied, and indeed satiated, with the repeated proofs which I have made of the weight and temper of my adversary's weapons. They have, in every assault, fallen dead and lifeless to the ground: they have more than once recoiled, and dangerously wounded the unskilful hand that had presumed to use them. I have now examined all the misrepresentations and inaccuracies, which even for a moment could perplex the ignorant, or deceive the credulous: the few imputations which I have neglected, are still more palpably false, or still more evidently trifling, and even the friends of Mr. Davis will scarcely continue to ascribe my contempt to my fear.