Page images

"Those best acquainted with the description of men who earnestly and constantly make the Scriptures of truth their study, know well how very few are the instances in which ought but good, real and substantial good, results from the practice; and even suppose that a few should grow into enthusiasts and religionists, how much preferable is their folly to the madness of mortals who sicken at seriousness, delight in riot, and spurn the oracles of God? Bible-reading naturally produces self-knowledge, the fear of God, a desire after information, industry, and regular habits, charity to man, and obedience to the laws. In what countries do civil liberty and religious tolerance most abound? Undeniably where the Bible is most read; and to the light and influence derived from that book, even our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects owe it that they are saved from the blessed tyranny of their own spiritual government. And to what are we to ascribe it, that thousands, heretofore beheld as the outcasts of the human race, have been raised to the rank of men, and enjoy the blessings of religion and civilization? Look to our settlements in Africa, &c." (p. 42, 43.)

After quoting the examples of order and religion introduced into regions where they were before unknown, by the agency of the Bible, he proceeds: "If all this be so, can the practice commence, or the habit be acquired, too early? Scotland answers, No. In her instance, we behold the effects of Bible-reading and Bible-education upon a great people. In what other country is the system so universally acted upon, and what nation presents an aspect so intelligent, manly, and moral? In Scotland, it has long been the custom for the pastors to examine the inhabitants of their respective parishes publicly and pointedly as to their acquaintance with the word of God, preparatory to their being admitted to the sacramental table for the first time. To neglect that sacred ordinance, after a certain age, would be accounted highly indecent, and to be found destitute of information, when examined, as highly discreditable; so that the Scriptures are

not only read in early life by all classes, but studied; and will any enemy to Bible education be kind enough to point out the mischievous effects of such a procedure, or will he venture to contradict me when I assert, that no nation upon earth can bear a com parison with North Britain? I care not for the objection that may be raised on the ground of existing agitations in parts of that country. These have arisen in manufacturing districts, where the early education of the younger part of the working classes has been prevented by their being employed at labour almost from infancy, and where they are exposed to infection-shall I say it? from the inhabi tants of other lands, who by thousands have obtained employment in Glasgow and Paisley. There are counties in Scotland, however, where extensive manufactories exist, and the national character has not been tarnished; but in these the settlement of strangers is not encouraged, and the manufacturers work in their respective houses I instance Forfar. The humane and excellent Gurney, in his remarks on the state of the Scotch prisons, tells us, that he found in the county jail of Forfar no criminal, nor had there been any execution from the county for twenty years. In Kinross county-jail, there was only one debtor, (and he continued there by preference) and not a single criminal. At Cupar in Fife county-jail, one offender, a poor girl for stealing a few potatoes out of a field. In Montrose, only one person, a deserter. In Dunbar, no prisoner! these are the fruits of widely extended " Scripture education." What a contrast does this form with Catholic Ireland, and its boasted morality, for * Lynesius boasts of it. We have no manufactories to debauch, no association of thousands of both sexes to produce demoralization, and yet how does iniquity, the fruit of ignorance. and neglect, abound in many of the Southern counties? is not turbulence become a character and assassination a trade? Our own county, which has not been disgraced by riot and outrage like its neighbours, could nevertheless afford twenty-five victims to the violated laws during our late

The nom de guerre of our author's opponent.

It is but fair to state, however, that the population of the county of Cork is over half a million, and that of the city at least 90,000.

assizes. In this county, so "well taught," how awful is the profanation of the Sabbath. Is it not the day of all the seven more particularly em ployed in sports, and gambling, and drunkenness ? even in the streets of this city how many hundreds of the Catholic population are to be found engaged in a variety of wickedness, and encouraging each other in every species of profaneness, without hindrance or interference on the part of those who should attend to their moral culture, and who could speedily find them out at, and drag them from, a Sunday school, or detect them in the use of a Bible, did they venture to go to the one, or to procure the other, but who appear to regard with the completest indifference that awful violation of God's holy day, which prepares for the prison, and ultimately feeds the gallows.

"But farther, how lightly is the obligation of an oath regarded. I question, sir, whether many things could shock the feelings of a peasant more than to affirm, that a false oath should not be taken to save a fellow creature from death. In this country that proper feeling which leads to shudder at the idea of connection with crime hard ly exists. In Scotland, or the north of Ireland, the poorest individual would feel it a disgrace to be known as the relation of a person who had been confined in a prison on whatsoever account; and whole families have been known to emigrate, that they might avoid the shame consequent upon the capital conviction of some of their connexions; but how different is the case with us! Herecrime and its punishment produce almost no sensation except that which leads sufferers and survivors to glory in their shame. Could the scandalous procession which disgraced Limerick a few days ago have taken place in any other quarter of the united kingdom? A villain, who had been executed for an outrage on a female, of the most abominable and degrading

description-a crime almost too foul to bear even an allusion to it, after having been waked with all possible formality, was preceded to the grave byj a number of young women, dressed in white, bearing garlands of flowers!! Sir, if Bible reading can raise the tone of moral feeling, if Scriptural educa tion can produce the virtues in which we are thus lamentably defective, let us, in despite of every opposition, have both one and the other.

"I should have spared these observations, had they not been called forth by the assertions that are hazarded respecting the superior morality of the Roman Catholic population, and their information as to all things necessary for salvation, in which it would ap pear "they are well instructed." Some of them may be so, but, alas! every one at all acquainted with the moral situation of the south of this kingdom, must lament that ignorance, superstition, and intolerance, gross and glaring intolerance, abound. If ever general education, and religious knowledge were wanting to a country, Ireland is that country. Our author after all confesses, that their means cannot reach to the wants of the whole of their people who require instruction, and that consequently great numbers continue ignorant, which too frequently is but another word for vicious. But this, we are told, as well as their other sufferings, must be laid at the door of Protestant domination, for so are affairs ordered by their rulers, that there is "no alternative but ignorance or protestantism," which latter is, without question, infinitely worse than ignorance and all its vices. You however know, sir, with what disinterested and liberal feeling, wealthy and benevolent protestants have come forward to afford the blessings of education to our general population, and you cannot be ignorant of the spirit in which these offers have been met by the apostolic pastors of an apostolic people. I need hardly refer you to


I told him, (the priest, whose co-operation in the establishment of a school was anxiously desired) that our only object was to instruct the little idle girls of the town and neighbourhood in reading, writing, needlework, &c. He asked if the Testament was to be introduced? I replied, only for the use of the Protestant girls. On his objecting to this, I made that offer to which he alludes, of allowing both a protestant and a Catholic mistress to attend and instruct the children in their respective Bibles. This being also rejected, I proposed what would have obviated, as I thought, all difficulties, namely, that the Protestant girls should meet at nine in the morning, and read their religious books until ten, at which hour the others should assemble; and, after their entrance, that no reli

the examination of Dr Poynter,* the vicar apostolic, before a committee of the House of Commons in 1816. p. 44-49.

"That an improvement has taken place in Ireland as to education, and that the Roman Catholic clergy are exerting themselves to promote this, I am glad to hear. I have no doubt, but that the increase of Protestant Bible-reading, and the growth of religious feeling consequent upon it, have had their effect. Protestant exertion may have called forth Roman Catholic energy, and Protestant information caused a number of superstitions and follies that formerly were avowed and gloried in, to hide their heads. In whatever way reformation is effected, let it be but achieved, and we rejoice. "There is another circumstance on which I must beg leave to dwell for a moment before I conclude; and that is, the credit taken to the Roman Catholic priesthood by the Remarker, for what he calls the peaceable state of Ireland. Are the Roman Catholic inhabitants of this kingdom quiet and peaceable? Would not the state of several of our counties be accounted anarchy and rebellion in England? But we are accustomed to such things, and a little matter does not alarm us. Indeed some bigotted people affect to trace our disturbances to a particular source; and I do confess, that how such a remonstrance as was forwarded to Rome, and widely circulated through this nation in 1815, could tend to promote conciliation and secure peace, is a little puzzling to me. In that document it is asserted, that the Catholics maintained their devotion to the Holy See, notwithstanding the most sanguinary and unrelenting persecution that ever aggrieved a Christian people!!! The most sanguinary and unrelenting persecution! Alas, sir, what must not Ireland have suffered during this horrid persecution, which

exceeded that of the Hugonots in France, when 30,000 were murdered within a few days; or the subsequent religious commotions, which, according to Puffendorf, in thirty years cost about 1,000,000 of human lives; or that of the Netherlands, when the Duke of Alva boasted, that within a few years he had despatched to the amount of 36,000 heretics by the hand of the common executioner; or the various tortures of the Inquisition, by which 150,000 were destroyed in the space of scarcely thirty years-not to say any thing of the Irish Protestant massacres. Perhaps, sir, if you have not seen the document, you may find it difficult to believe that a falsehood so notorious should have been put forth in the very place where it was well known no such cruelties ever had existence; but this was intended to produce an effect at Rome, and to dispose the population of Ireland to peace." P. 52.

"I have no inclination at present, sir, to follow the gentleman into the region of politics; yet I would just observe, that all these horrible acts of oppression, of which, on behalf of an injured and insulted people, he complains, amount simply to this:-not that the liberty of worshipping God according to their creeds and customs is denied them-that they enjoy under this free government in the fullest manner, Lynesius himself being judge

but that certain places of trust, honour, and emolument, are kept from a description of persons whose faith instructs them to deny all liberty of conscience, or freedom of religious worship, to Protestants, when practicable. In proof that what I now assert is true of popery at this hour, I appeal to the famous letter of the present Pope to his Cardinals, dated the 5th of February 1808, in which the head of the church thus expresses himself— It is proposed that all re

gious book whatever should be read. This proposal was equally unfortunate, the Doctor insisting that no religious book whatever should find its way into the school. This, I observed, was a condition, which were I even to consent to, would justly be thought inadmissible by others, as it was in effect nothing less than making the exclusion of the Bible from the Protestant pupils, the express condition of the school's establishment." Letter from T. Pool, Esq. to the Rev. H. Townsend. See Townsend's admirable Reply to Dr Copinger. Author. We have not seen the reply, but we have seen his Survey of the County of Cork, and a most excellent work it is. Edit.

Dr Poynter declared, among many other surprising matters, that he could not sanction the reading of select passages of Scripture in schools, even though these passages should be the same, word for word, as in the Roman Catholic translation.

ligious persons should be free, and their worship publicly exercised; but we have rejected this article, as contrary to the canons, to the councils, to the Catholic religion, and to the tranquillity of human life. Out of the Catholic church there is no salvation. The French system of indifference or equality, with regard to all religions, is utterly opposite to the Catholic, which being the only one of divine institution, cannot form any alliance with any other any more than Christ can league with Belial. It is false that the concordat has recognised and established the independence of the church of France, or that it has given a sanction to the toleration of other modes of worship.'" P. 54.

"Nothing can be injured by national education, but ignorance-nor by the spread of God's most holy word, but immorality. But on this particular subject it would be presumptuous in me to insist, when addressing you, sir, who have publicly given the weight of your authority to the sentiment-that religion must form the basis of all political happiness and social order a truth plain and palpable, sanctioned by the wise and good in all ages, and on which

[ocr errors]

the associations for spreading the word of God are built; and who have not shrunk from expressing your conviction, that as Christians, believing the sacred volume to contain the character of our salvation, and that in the contents of that volume are involved the immortal destinies of our fellow beings, you could not separate from that belief the obligation to diffuse that volume;' adding That if in other cases we possessed the antidote or the remedy for any evil, we made no pause in offering it, why should we hesitate when the hazard is greatest, the misery deepest, and the remedy most certain ?**

[ocr errors]

Having had such opinions thus expressed, by such authority, and beholding our institutions strengthened by such sanction, in despite of all the ridicule of the Remarker, and the hostility of all who directly or indirectly think and act with him, I venture, under the divine blessing, to anticipate the time, when Ireland, through the instrumentality of the word of God, and religious education, shall present a moral and social aspect far different from what she does at present, and when the wilderness shall indeed blossom as the rose.'


[blocks in formation]

MANY of your correspondents, I dare say, and amongst the rest myself, would be glad were you to invent some general title or head under which might be collected such observations as seemed either too minute or too insignificant to be wiredrawn into an essay, and yet too good to be thrown away. Your Editorial ingenuity could not fail to hit upon some motto, at once appropriate and catchingsuch, for instance, as the unaffected one of "Pensèes," or the elegant one of "Hodgepodgiana," or the unpedantical one of Era ПIrigara." But this by the way.

It is with some hesitation that I hazard the following short remarks upon a subject which must, at least to


very many readers, appear sufficiently trifling: still by readers of poetry, I know that few observations relative to the art, however fanciful in their nature, will be considered as absolutely nugatory or unimportant. Upon them therefore I must rest for my defence against the possible sarcasms of such as with Hotspur

"Had rather be a kitten and cry " mew," "Than one of those same metre balladmongers."

It has often happened to me, and probably to you, Mr North, to hear the term "sweetness of versification" used as expressive of some unknown or indescribable power of imparting melody to verse. Of this faculty we are led to believe, that it is beyond the ability either of the author or his

Speech of the Right Hon. Charles Grant.

readers to give any definite account. We are told of the peculiar sweetness of Virgil amongst the ancients; and amongst the modern English writers, of Milton, of Rowe, and of Langhorne, and others whose names it is needless to adduce.* Nor is this property ever mentioned but in general terms, as a sort of shadowy something which can neither be regulated nor taught. When we ask for a definition, and the arguments upon which it is founded, we are answered by a summary reference to the poetry of the authors themselves, after the manner of sundry treatises on matters connected with taste and the minor metaphysics, which might easily be mentioned, and which have had, aye, and still retain, their credit with the world. Mysteries, especially about trifles of this sort, are teasing things; and, which is worse, they are not only teasing themselves, but the cause of teasing in others. Upon a gossamer of this description, have I known suspended as much talking "about and about," as much description not meant to describe, and argument never intended to convince, as would fill a moderate volume. There are some people who, for some unaccountable reason other, seem desirous to have a puzzle for ever in their mind's eye, just as a painter's sky must always have something of a cloud, because, as he luminously tells you, a cloud is picturesque. To such, the term "sweetness of versification" is a comfort-a very luxury-a nice little instrument for raising a mist-a sort of intellectual censer, in which are consumed precious arguments that, like frankincense, end in nothing but smoke.


Sweetness of versification, if it be any thing, must be an affair of sounds, and the arrangement of sounds upon which it depends must be, in itself, definable, and capable, where it exists, of being pointed out. To see if something feasible cannot be made out of this nice matter is the object of the following remarks.

Repetition of some kind or other, seems evidently to be that from which the pleasure obtainable from verse or

metre is derived. The recurrence of lines of certain length, and of accents in certain places, or of accents in certain places alone, constitutes Rythm. Rhyme is the recurrence of sound, that is to say, vocal sound, expressed or recollected. The vowels are the principal instruments of sound. The consonants are minor and more delicate tools. It is hardly necessary here to note their division into halfvowels, liquids, and mutes. They modify but cannot destroy the sounds dependant upon the vowels. In short, they preserve the essential identity, and at the same time, impart a palpable variety. The vocal sound seems to spring from the consonant like an organized product from its matrix; and the same vowels from different consonants are like persons of different families who happen to resemble each other almost to identity-they are precisely alike, but not akin.

The repetition of the accented vowel at the end of each line is, confessedly, the foundation of the pleasure afford ed by rhyme. If we examine a few of the lines of those poets who are most remarkable for the sweetness of their versification, the peculiar pleasure derivable from them, will, I believe, be found to depend upon the same prin ciple. This principle, in its broadest and most tangible exhibition, is rhyme. A little modified it is "alliteration.” Applied with consummate art and delicacy, it is "sweetness of versification.' It must be observed, that there is sometimes a little difficulty in distinguishing, and separating in the mind, that sweetness which arises from a gentle and delicate sentiment expressed in appropriate language, and that which is entirely the effect of the artful collocation of sounds; and that when the two are united, the effect is, of course, the most striking. But these matters are best explained from examples.

The poet most remarkable for the possession of sweetness, both of sentiment and rythm, is probably Virgil. I have more than once heard the following lines quoted, as manifesting, in a wonderful degree, the union of the

*Euripides, Anacreon, and other Greek Poets, have been called sweet; I cannot help thinking, however, that the continual recurrence, in that language, of the v and the compounds, o, ou, and , gives a breadth and strength of sound which, however majestic, ill accord with our idea of the word sweetness.

« PreviousContinue »