« PredošláPokračovať »
works, Pliny's Natural History, Virgil's Georgics and Horace's Satyrs, were forged by the monks of the thirteenth century*.. Dr. Ledwich's system loses its only merit in my eyes, and raises no other sentiment in my mind than unqualified contempt and indignation.
Our author, by way of illustrating his supposition, alludes to the error of Hilduin, in confounding St. Dionysius, Bishop of Paris, with Dionysius the Areopagite, and to the legendary tale of St. James's body being conveyed from Judea to Compostella, but in neither of these cases does there appear to have been a deliberate attempt to impose upon mankind. The writers of these accounts were weak and ignorant men, who paid too much credit to popular reports, and by committing them to writing, gave a temporary run to them. They did not palm upon the world a belief in the real existence of phantoms. The author had before quoted with applause the opinion of a well-informed writer, as he calls him, who says, that "the Spanish “Patrick might have appeared in a dream to the
* If Dr. Ledwich could be compared with Hardouin, he might hereafter be honoured with the same epitaph:
Venerandæ antiquitatis cultor et destructor,
Somnia et inaudita commenta vigilans edidit,
"Irishas St. George did to the English, and "become their protector, and at last their apos
tlet." The truth is, St. George was chosen to be the patron saint of England, not in consequence of any dream, but of his being previously the acknowledged patron of military men; and he never once was termed the apostle of England, or even said to have been in England, by a single man of learning.
Dr. Ledwich has elsewhere endeavoured to prop up his system of mingled scepticism and irreligion with the following chimerical assumption: "The christian missionaries found it in
dispensably necessary to procure some saint "under whose protection the inhabitants might "live secure from temporal and spiritual evils. At "a loss for a patron, they adopted a practice, de
* The learned Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, in his "Collection "of Ancient Ballads," denies the existence of the patron saint of his country and of the Society of Antiquaries, pronouncing him to be nothing more than a talisman, or character of enchantment. Hence, when the writer of this had, in a Discourse on the King's Recovery, mentioned St. George as an illustrious saint, his Lordship, in a letter addressed to the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, called upon him to produce his proofs of the fact in question. The writer accordingly published "A Dissertation on the Existence and Character of St. George," in which he has demonstrated, from the most ancient and authentic monuments, in opposition to the bishop, that there was such a saint; and that this saint was not the infamous intruder into the see of Alexandria in the time of St. Athanasius, against the assertions of Gibbon the historian. See the Dissertation at Keating and Co's. It is presumed that the bishop was fully convinced of his error, as he is not known to have renewed it since.
+ Antiq. p. 59.
In the Council of Oxford, held in 1222.
"rived from paganism, and pursued it to a great "extent in the corrupt ages of Christianity "Thus of a mountain at Glendaloch a saint was "made, as of the Shannon, St. Senanus, and of "Down, St. Dunus t." When our reverend sceptic first sported this ridicule on the great and good man to whom he is indebted for his civilization, and for whatever he possesses of Christianity, the truly learned and judicious Charles O'Connor was living, who did not fail to call him to a proper account for his scepticism and irreligion. This celebrated antiquary challenged him to prove a single instance of such pagan metamorphosis in the ecclesiastical history of Ireland; and, descending to the particulars mentioned by Dr. Ledwich, he shewed that the Shannon, or Senus, was so called many ages before the Christian saint, called Senanus, was born; and with respect to the pretended St. Dunus, he denied that the name of any such saint was to be met with, except amongst the fabrications of Dr. Ledwich§. With as good reason may some writer, a few ages hence, deny
* Dr. Ledwich has the effrontery to quote Baronius, Ciampini, &c. as approving of such vile and impious frauds, whereas the words of these writers barely imply that the christian bishops were accus. tomed to substitute the names of real saints for those of imaginary deities.
+ Antiq. p. 171.
Collectanea de Rebus Hib.
Ibid. See Reflections on the Hist. of Ireland by C. O'Connor, Esq. addressed to Col. Vallancey, vol. iii.
that any such such personages as a Lord Shannon or a Lord Down existed at the beginning of the 19th century, and may assert that it was the practice of these our times to personify rivers and countries. With a still better shew of reason may the learned, some two hundred years hence, if perchance any account of Dr. Ledwich and his book should reach them, deny that such an egrégious sceptic ever could have existed, or at least that he could have been "A REV. "L. L. D. AND MEMBER OF SEVERAL "LEARNED SOCIETIES *."
Our author, after appearing to quit the field, again returns to it; and, as I have taken up the gauntlet against him on the chapter of St. Patrick, I am bound to return him stroke for stroke as long as he pleases to continue the combat. He denies, then, that this saint is mentioned by any author, or in any work of veracity down to the time of Nennius †, (whom he places 238 years below his date) that is to say, he denies that St. Patrick is so mentioned during more than three centuries and a half from the time of his death.I answer, first, that if it were reasonable to question the existence of all personages deceased, concerning whom we have no cotemporary, or other authentic records composed within three or four centuries from that in which
See the title-page of the Book called, "The Antiquities of Ire
+ Antiq. p. 67.
they lived, then we may deny there ever were such men as Romulus, as Cyrus, as Abraham, or as Adam himself. But secondly, the fact itself, asserted by Dr. Ledwich, is demonstrated in my last letter to be grossly false. For, to omit other documents, venerable Bede, who inserts the name of our saint in his martyrology, lived within two centuries from the time of his decease; the four disciples of St. Patrick, who furnished Joceline with his most important materials, were the saint's own cotemporaries; so was St. Fiech, whose hymn in honour of his master yet remains. Nay, the very history of the saint, composed by himself, is still extant, as well as the acts of his councils. I have not yet referred to the important testimony of St. Prosper of Aquitain, a cotemporary of St. Patrick and Pope Celestine, and one of the most celebrated writers of his age. Commending the zeal of this Pope, both in repressing the Pelagian heresy and in propagating the christian faith, he says: "Moreover, the same holy Pope or"dained a bishop to the Scottish pagan nation, " and thus, whilst he endeavoured to preserve the "Roman island (Britain) Catholic, he made the “barbarous island (Ireland) Christian*." I am
"Nec signior cura ab hoc eodem morbo (Pelagiana hæresi) "Britannias liberavit (Celestinus Papa per Germanum Antissiodo. "rensem) quando quosdam inimicos gratiæ, solum suæ originis oc"cupantes, etiam ab illo secreto exclusit oceani; et, ordinato Sco. "tiş episcopo, dum Romanam insulam studet servare Catholicam, "fecit etiam barbaram Christianam." Prosper, lib. contra Col
latorem, cap. 41.