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countries is similar, and hardly less conclusive. The reader who wishes to see it developed, should resort to Mr. Ricardo, on whose speculations we must here close our remarks. We cannot part with him, however, till he has received our thanks for the pleasure he has afforded us. A man of so much accurate information on this difficult subject, and with such well exercised powers of thought, presenting himself to us from the haunts of business, and we are sorry to add of igno
rance, has encouraged us to entertain new hopes. He has , inspired us with something approaching to a persuasion, that
in the lapse of a considerable number of years, when the leading men of business are called before committees of the legislature to afford their evidence on points touching the legislation of commerce, they will not deliver nonsense, which at once exposes us to the mischief of bad laws, and to the ridicule of all the enlightened people of Europe.. Art. IV. An Inquiry into certain Vulgar Opinions concerning the
Catholic Inhabitants and Antiquities of Ireland i In a Series of Let-'
Keating, Brown and Co. 1808..
age we live in, by ascertaining some of its wonderful improvements, it lately occurred to us that it would be worth while to examine what length of time intelligent men, who in former periods visited other countries, used to judge necessary, in order to form, and reduce to writing, à just. and comprehensive estimate of the character, condition, and institutions of a' people they had never seen before. For this purpose, we made out a list of the most distinguished printed reporters of the character and state of foreign na-, tions that we could refer to or recollect. If we have been, as yet too indolent to accomplish this examination, that in-, dolence has partly resulted from our perfect confidence that the result would evince, on the part of the present times; a vast superiority in the power of intellectual despatch. We have scores of active inquisitive contemporaries in this country, any one of whom, putting on a good pair of boots and' suit of clothes, shall return to the starting place before they are half worn out, if the weather has been good; having in the interval accomplished a satisfactory survey of an extensive country and nation, and put it all in writing, either in letters to some friend at home, or in a valuable accumulation of sheets eager to escape from the portfolio to the press. And, to increase our wonder and delight at such .. a display of modern ability, the writer shall probably begin
by telling us that the nation he is going to survey is an eminently remarkable nation, deserving the most careful in vestigation into its character, institutions, and antiquities. . · Dr. Milner had long witnessed in England the continual obloquy cast on the Irish nation, especially the Roman Catholic part of it. He was satisfied in his own mind of the falsehood of the unfavourable representations; but not quite satisfied with his means of vindicating a people, for whom he could not testify from personal observation. At last, he said to himself, “It is no such long journey from this my residence to the shore of the Irish channel, and from thence to the capital of Ireland is but the voyage of a few hours. What binders me then from forming my own opinion upon these matters, by observing and conversing with the Irislı Catholics in their own country?” p. 4. A pressing invitation arriving about the same time from a friend in Ireland, de. cided his resolution; and he set off. The work of writing began the instant he was safely lodged upon one of the quays of the Liffey ;' the first letter was dated Dublin, June 27; the concluding letter is dated Waterford, August 5 ; and, in the space between these two dates, he formed a complete estimate of the Irish national character; ascertained to the utmost nicety the state of knowledge and of morals among all classes, especially the scattered peasantry; took satisfactory evidence of the general, if we should not rather say universal, excellence and high attainments of the Catholic clergs; speculated learnedly on the design of the most reinarkable ancient edifices; disserted most learnedly on the ecclesiastical antiquities of Ireland, and the history of St. Patrick, refuting at vast length archbishop Usher and Dr. Ledwich; and decided on a very great number of other subjects, any one of which, in the state of the human fa. culties in former times, might have detained what was then called a man of sense a longer space than it took our learned author to dispose of them all. The writer making such marvellous despatch, it would ill become the reader not to catch some little of the manner, and be very quick in deciding whether it is likely that much accurate and certain information will be afforded by such an authority; information, we mean, concerning the actual state of the people ; for as to the historical investigation about St, PaErick and the nature of the earliest religious institutions in Ireland, it is probable nothing can appear to the people : of this country of more trifling importance. And besides, this is a sort of matter about which the Doctor had not the sinallest need to take the trouble of going to Ireland';' it was most likely worked up in readiness before he lefi Eng
veral pemiries, takes. istical and pa
land, but, as it related to Irish history, it seemed to find a , better opportunity when the author was on Irish soil than it had done before. Either this course of research, in which much learning, labour, and acuteness, are employed, was mainly accomplished before the Doctor's visit to that country, or it inust have occupied so much of the time he spent there as to render it totally impossible for hiin to give the due attention to the people he went to see.-We should not forget, however, that seeing a people is now reduced to a matter of very easy performance. In every considerable country there are several great towns ; in one of these towns it is likely enough the investigator of national character has a personal acquaintance, and this person has acquaintance in the two or three others; all these persons, in such a hospitable country as Ireland, are gratified to entertain for a few days a man of some literary distinction and a zealous adherent to their religious class. He drives along the great road to these several stations ; is introduced, at each, to a number of persons of his own profession, and perhaps to several persons of note in a civil capacity ; makes some after-dinner inquiries, takes a turn in the schools, hospitals, &c.; dips into a few statistical and political books concerning the country, and then comes away in the act of finishing a book of his own, which has rivalled, in quickness of growth, any one fungus of the soil he has traversed.
On the strength, however, of this slight excursion, our author assumes to pronounce, in his own name, on all the qualities of the Irish people. In some instances, he condescends to explain his process for acquiring knowledge; as when he mentions, with an air of taking to himself no small credit, that, in order to ascertain the state of religious knowledge among the poor, he was accustomed, when the postboy dismounted to relieve his horses in ascending a hill, to quit the carriage, enter some of the cabins by the road side, and try the children's knowledge of the catechism. It is not said that the chaise waited at the top of the hill; and, on the supposition that it did not, it would be a curious computation how many ininutes in all were allowed for this employment, and what portion of time therefore could be expended on each of several children in each of several cabins, after allowing for the entering and departing salutations to the elder people. · A happy and poetical substitute for patient and extensive examination, is an unbounded credulity, which so evidently sensible and learned a man as Dr. M. would have acquired only under the influence of his Roman Catholic faith, and
exercise, al powers. Exceptendency to
of which he has given the Irish the utmost benefit. For, according to him, the Irish nation is not only endowed with the happiest capabilities, which we presume is admitted on all hands, but is, (the Roman Catholic part) in the full exercise, and almost maturity, of all the highest virtues and intellectual powers. Excepting a slight remainder of a taste for duelling, and a small tendency to inebriety, which may be only from the confluence and overflow of ever so many generous feelings, this neglected, ill-fated, superstitious peo ple can hardly be charged with a vice. Among the lower order, a more than golden age of morals and religion is returned ; and the people are as strikingly distinguished by piety of language, as the same classes in England are by profaneness.
• Another circumstance edified me in this people, and would have edified me if I had been of a different communion from theirs, I mean a vein of morality and religion which seasons their discourses. Instead of those horrid oaths and curses which interlard and eke out the Janguage of our English labouring poor, wherever we hear it, in the . streets or upon the roads, my ears are now habituated to the language of piety among the lowest orders of the people. Thus, for example, a poor blind man being relieved by me, he expressed his gratitude in the following prayer. May God grant you a holy life and a happy death.” On a similar occasion, a poor woman returned thanks in these terms. “ May health, wealth, and heaven be given to you.” 'p. 58,
As to these very well composed forms of prayer, it is, no doubt, impossible for us to surmise they can ever be uttered but with feelings of genuine, piety, when we recollect how commodiousty furnished our English beggars generally are with equally religious though generally more concise forms of benediction, and at the same time with good store of profane imprecations, for appropriate times and uses. It is the country and the Catholic religion that make the happy difference. And we must here caution the English protestant reader, who may propose visiting Ireland, not to mistake it for profaneness, when he is struck, as he will very soon be, with the noveltỳ, variety, and frequency of the oaths and imprecations of the lower orders.
In imputing credulity to our author in his estimate of the moral state of the lower orders of the Irish people, we of course imply that his hasty visit to a few of the clergy and gentry of that country was managed in a way to leave him profoundly ignorant of the real state of the common people, and willing to take on trust such pleasant representations as the persons he transiently associated with saw it would gratify him to hear. But it may be questionable how far it is proper to apply the kindly term credulity, when
eavery fanene novel
the monstrous statement relates to a very specific fact, and is made with the sort of personal pledge given in the following instance. Citing Sir J. Carr's report of a report that in the county of Kerry classical learning was very gene, ral among the peasants a few years ago, he adds,
· That this is an undoubted fact, and that a great proportion of these peasants, some twenty or thirty years back, could even converse very fluently in Latin, I can testify in some degree from my own acquaintance with some of them, and still more from the account of witnesses of the highest honour, and of first rate information.' p. 185.
· Still, however, we think it will be judged most fair and candid to attribute the Dri's sanction of such 'stories to a perfectly innocent credulity, after we shall have quoted an instance of a still more admirable and enviable capacity of faith. We are fully satisfied the Doctor sincerely and so. lemnly believes he has saluted in Ireland à piece of the true
- The church and monastery of Holy Cross were built for the particular purpose of preserving a portion of the true Cross on which our blessed Saviour suffered death. Certain it is, from ecclesiastical history, that the Christians never lost sight of this precious relic. It was buried by the heathens under a temple of Venus, in the reign of the Emperor Adrian, when he demolished the original city of Jerusalem ; but it was found again by the Empress St. Helena, at which time particles of it were distributed throughout christen lom. The three principal pieces of it were preserved at Jerusalem, Coastantinople, and Rome, from each of which 'small particles of it were occasionally taken. You will be surprised, sir, when I tell you that the identical portion of the true Cross for the sake of which this splendid fane was erected, is now in the possession of my respected friend and fellow traveller, having been preserved from sacrilege in the reign of Henry VIII by the Ormond family, and by them transmitted to the family of Kavenah, a surviving descendant of which has deposited it with my friend. It is by far the largest piece of the Cross I ever met with, being about two inches and a half long, and about half an inch broad, but very thin. It is inserted in the lower shaft of an ar. chiepiscopal cross, made of some curious wood, and inclosed in a gilt case. Had you seen me respectfully saluting that material instrument of my redemption, &c. &c.' p. 128.
To shew that Dr. M's credulity is, as first rate talents are said to be, capable of acting in any direction, we shall cite one more sample. In a very just and aniinated invec. tive against duelling, he takes cccasion to expostulate with the friend to whom he writes, (an English officer) on "thie most criminal disposition of mind, with regard to this subject, in wbich he fears that friend is habitually living.” And after very pathetically pleading the distress which