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the time of the moon, for themselves, instead of receiving the calculations of Rome and Alexandria*, they fell, not into the practice of the Jews and the Quartodecimans, which consisted in keeping the Pasch on the 14th day of the moon next after the vernal equinox, whatever day of the week that happened to be, but into a peculiar error of their own, by keeping Easter on the 14th day when it fell upon a Sunday, whereas the churches on the continent, in this case, waited till the ensuing Sunday. This erroneous caculation the British prelates seem to have communicated to those of Ireland and Scotland. The error in question, tho' attended with great inconveniencest, yet not having been formally condemned by the Church, like that of the Quartodecimans, was tolerated by the Roman See and the prelates in communion with it, until the Christians of these islands becoming sensible of it, gradually relinquished it. Now this rectifying of an acknowledged error, Dr. Ledwich repeatedly terms apostacy. But to what system did the British churches apostatize? Namely, to that which was common
* St. Leo testifies that the calculation was made at Alexandria (which city was famous for astronomical studies) and being notified to the Pope, was by him promulgated throughout Christendom.
+ Venerable Bede furnishes us with a striking instance of this inconvenience with respect to King Oswy, who followed the British computation, and his Queen Eanfeld, who adopted that of the continent. It happened on one occasion, that the King was celebrating his Easter with Halleluiahs and flesh meat, while the Queen was be ginning her Holy Week with lamentations and fasting. L. iii. c. 25.
to all Christians except themselves; to that which their fathers had followed, and subscribed to in a great council; in short, to that which Dr. Ledwich himself, with all those of his communion, adopt at the present day! See, Sir, into what disorders and contradictions this bewildered antiquary has plunged, in order to prove that catholicity was not the ancient religion of Ireland!
I have run to this length upon a controversy, comparatively trivial, because I could not more -briefly dispel the mist in which Dr. Ledwich has involved it, for the sake of misrepresenting one of the most important subjects of Irish antiquity, the ancient religion of the island.
I am, &c.
Cork, July 27, 1807.
My road from Cashel to this
city led me through Cahir, Balliporeen, and Fermoy. The last mentioned town is a new
creation, having started up, all at once, at the conmand of its proprietor, Mr. Anderson. It is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Blackwater River, over which a firm and elegant stone bridge is thrown. The town itself being uniformly built of neat houses of stone, overcast with a white composition, and the streets standing in parallel and perpendicular lines, being also well paved, and kept exceedingly clean, few, if any towns of the same size in England, can be compared with it in exterior beauty. With respect, however, to the face of the country in general, speaking of it as far as I have yet seen it, I cannot agree with a late able writer, that Ireland is, "the fairest island in the world *;' especially while her elder sister stands by her side. This I am sure of, that I have not yet seen in Ireland such a garden as the Vale of Evesham, such hills and dales as those of Derbyshire and South Wales, nor such forest scenery as that of Windsor or the New Forest. True it is, this country appears to a disadvantage in consequence of its relative poverty and unsettled state, which cannot but have proved unfavourable to the planting of hedges, trees, and woods; as also to the building of neat villages, elegant churches, and comfortable farm-houses, with the other numerous ornaments and conveniencies to be met with in every well inhabited part of England. I
* See Parnell's Historical Apology for the Irish Catholics, p. 107
may add that, as far as I am able to judge, the soil and climate of this island, though perhaps better adapted to pasturage, are not so favourable to the growth of large timber trees and wheat corn, nor to the ripening of fruit, as those under the same parallels of latitude in our own.
As I approached, however, to this city of Cork, I found the country surprisingly improve in all these respects, till reaching the Vale of Glanmire, by what is called the lower road, I was quite enchanted with the beauties, natural and artificial, of the scenery which opened to my view; particularly with the grand expanse of water in the center of it, skirted as it is on each side with verdant meadows, and enclosed by lofty hills, whose groves, at the tops of them, seem to reach the clouds. That view, however, was but a foretaste of the delight which I experienced when I beheld this sheet of water disemboguing itself into the grand estuary of Cork. As my eye wandered up and down the delightful
scene, surveying by turns the majestic tide, covered with ships and boats, moving in various directions; the aspiring hills and rocks, crowned with elegant villas and plantations; and the magnificent city itself, with the back ground of vast mountains, I concluded in my mind, that neither the Severn at Chepstow, nor the sea at Southampton, were to be compared with it.
The renowned emporium of Cork owes its foundation to St. Finbar, its first bishop, and his disciple St. Nessan, who about the end of the
sixth century established a school there, which soon became exceedingly celebrated and numer ous. By this means a hollow marsh, as the name Cork implies*, soon grew up to be a bishop's see and a flourishing city. It is still remarkable for the numerous well regulated schools it con tains for instructing the youth of both sexes, especially the poor, in the several branches of literature proper for them, but chiefly in the religious doctrine and morality originally taught here by St. Finbar. Indeed, no pains are spared for this purpose by the bishops and priests in every part of Ireland which I have visited; and I confidently assert that a more glaring and calumnious falsehood never was published against any set of men, than that which is constantly propagated in England against the Irish Catholic Clergy, that they keep the lower order of the people uninstructed, in order to attach it more firmly to themselves and their religion, under an idea that ignorance is the mother of devotion.
This very morning, Sir, I have visited a catholic school, formed upon Mr. Lancaster's plan, for the education of poor boys; and I could not but admire the method by which two hundred children are taught to read, write, and cast accounts, besides their christian duty, under one master, and in less time than a tenth part of their number could acquire equal learning by the ordi