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have spread themselves over the continent of Europe, in order to acquire that knowledge which their predecessors originally diffused throughout it. The success which they have generally met with in their studies has been equal to the ardour with which they have applied to them. Accordingly, Sir, you will find, upon inquiry, that the Irish students in the foreign universities, down to the very period of the late revolution, carried off more than their due proportion of prizes and professorships by the sheer merit of superior talents and learning, and a much greater proportion than fell to the lot of all other foreigners in the countries in question put together.
I am far, Sir, from undertaking to give you a list of the Irish Catholic clergy, since the reformation, so called, who have left incontrovertible proofs of their cultivated minds and superior literature in their writings: neither my leisure nor my means permit me at present to undertake the task. I will, however, present you with the names of a few of these. Amongst the prelates of this description were the R. R. Daniel Roth, Catholic Bishop of Ossory, who published a most interesting account of catholic affairs about two centuries ago*. The M. R. Peter Talbot, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, a celebrated controversial writer, who died a
Analecta de Rebus Catholicis in Anglia.
prisoner for his religion in the said city; the R. R. Daniel O'Daly, who died Bishop of Conimbria, in Portugal; and the R. R. Thomas Burke, Bishop of Ossory, both of them learned and celebrated historians, of the order of St. Dominic; the late M. R. James Butler, Archbishop of Cashel, and the victorious opponent of Dr. Woodward, Bishop of Cloyne. Amongst the learned writers of the second order of clergy were the R. Richard Stanyhurst, the well known historian; Abbé M'Geoghan, ; the R. J. Colgan, ; the R. Luke Wadding, the R. J. Lynch, ; the R. John O'Heyne, -; the R. Antony Lupi, alias Wolf, an antiquarian; the R. John Hacket, a theologian; the R. Dominic Lynch, ; the R. F. Fitzsimons, the successful antagonist in controversy against Archbishop Usher; the R. Edmund Burke, controvertist; the R. James Usher, author of the Free Inquiry; and the R. Arthur O'Leary, the
* This most able and learned scholar was the immediate descendant of Archbishop Usher, who betaking himself to the study of the controversy carried on between his ancestor and the aforesaid F. Fitzsimons, was so overpowered and convinced by the arguments of the latter, that he abandoned the religion in which he had been educated, and embraced that of the ancient Church. Being a widower, he took holy orders in this Church, and was the first writer who may be said to have defended it in the face of the public, his letters having been published in the Public Ledger, from which they were extracted, and published apart in a work now upon sale, called : A Free Examination of the common Methods employed to prevent the Growth of Popery. Mr. Usher left a son, who is still living, and whom I had the pleasure of seeing in one of the catholic establish
triumphant, and at the same time amiable victor of John Wesley, and of the other enemies of religious toleration*, &c. I do not mention certain living writers, of whom posterity will speak,
ments in Ireland. The plan of his Letters, which made a great noise in their time, is as follows. There being a great outcry concerning the alledged increase of popery in England about the year 1767, Mr. Usher, in his first letter, calls upon well informed and ingenious persons to account for the fact, and to explain upon what principle error can prove an over-match for truth, ignorance for learning, idolatry for pure religion. Having, in his following letters, refuted the idle and ridiculous reasons assigned, by different writers who at tempted to answer him, for this strange circumstance, he thus, in substance, explains the true cause of it: "You learned contro"vertists, when you attack the Church of Rome, never fail to as"sault her in some point or other in which she is impregnable. You accuse her of teaching idolatry or impiety, or the breach of faith "with heretics, or the lawfulness of murdering them, or some other "immorality. This, to be sure, gains you a temporary applause "amongst your zealous partisans, and inflames their hatred against Papists. But, in the mean time, the Papists themselves, being "conscious of the falsehood of these charges, are confirmed in their religion; and serious protestant seekers, discovering by degrees "the same falsehood, are induced to go over to the popish commu
nion, &c." Besides this Examination, Mr. Usher also wrote Clio upon Taste, a work which deserves to be placed on the same shelf with Burke's Beautiful and Sublime. In writing the Examination he was assisted by my lamented friend, the late wor. thy, upright, and pious John Walker, author of the Pronouncing Dictionary, Elements of Elocution, the Rhetorical Grammar, Deism disarmed, &c. This ingenious author may with truth be called the Guido d'Arezzo of elocution, having discovered the scale of speaking sounds, by which reading and delivery are now reduced to a system.
How little does this head of a great party, and chief author of the riots in 1780, appear when opposed to the deep learning, the sound logic, and the sterling wit of an O'Leary! See Remarks on John Wesley's Letters, in his Tracts, p. 205. Keating and Co.
because they are my friends, and therefore I might be suspected of partiality in the account I should give of them.
I have the honour to remain, &c.
Maynooth, June 30, 1807.
I Make no doubt that you
will consider my letter of yesterday as a set off, and that, being conscious of the ignorance and stupidity of the present race of officiating clergy in Ireland, I am desirous of investing them with the past glories of their predecessors. To be sure, Sir, it is a difficult task to disabuse you and other Englishmen of your prejudice against Irish priests, if you are determined to entertain it nevertheless, I beg you, by way of forming a right judgment upon this matter, to consider of an answer to the three following questions. As you must admit that the natives of Ireland have not degenerated in their bodily powers, have you any reason to suppose that they have fallen off from their ancient fame with respect to
their mental faculties? Secondly, it being an established rule with us to consider mental talents next to piety and morality in the choice of candidates for holy orders, is it not likely that the clergy in Ireland should prove to be endowed with, at least, an ordinary share of natural -genius? Thirdly, do you conceive it possible that young men thus endowed should spend ten or twelve of the choicest years of their lives in intense application to study, without acquiring some share of knowledge and intellectual improvement? You will probably say, that to solve the last question, it is necessary you should know how these ten or twelve years have been employed; what books have been read; in short, that you should like to know, as an enlightened and liberal reviewer has expressed a wish to know, "what is the course at Maynooth*?" I answer, that if this is not known it is not the fault of the superiors of the college. Their wellfrequented library † and their class books are open to the examination, not only of the Lord Chancellor and the Judges of Ireland, who are bound at stated times to visit the establishment, but also of every civil inquirer. I will endeavour to give you a general idea of this course. An indefinite time, then, perhaps two or three years, is employed in the study of English,
* See the Edinburgh Review in its strictures upon Carr's Stranger in Ireland.
To the fact here supposed I myself am a witness.