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Irish*, Latin, and French Grammart. After this, a distinct year is appointed for the study of poetry, and another year for that of rhetoric. At the end of each year public examinations are held, at which the literati of the neighbourhood, of whatever communion they may be, are invited to assist, and also bear a part in them ‡. This forms what is called the course of the Humanity Studies; after which begin those of a higher order. One whole year is always devoted to logic and metaphysics, upon Lock's system; and another to mathematics, physics, and astronomy, in which Newton is the chief guide. The whole of this philosophical course the student must publicly defend, not by answering a few questions well known before hand, but by solving the objections of each individual present amongst the company indiscriminately invited to these defensions. To the study of philosophy succeeds that of divinity, including canon law and ecclesiastical history, which takes up four whole years, under three distinct professors, (at
* A professor of the Irish language forms one part of the estab lishment: an excellent constitution for perpetuating perhaps the most ancient language in the world, the Celtic.
+ Regularly speaking, the students are expected to have acquired the greater part of these branches of knowledge previously to their admission at Maynooth.
At the small seminary of Kilkenny, which I afterwards visited, I found a boy explaining Lucian and Homer. The established bishop, who was formerly provost of Trinity College, Dublin, frequently honours the examinations there with his presence, and was expected the morning when I attended.
least there is this number of them at Maynooth) a professor of speculative theology, a second of morality, and a third of the holy scriptures. The divines, no less than the philosophers, are required publicly to defend their several treatises; and I may add, that they are no less willing than the last mentioned to exhibit their dictates and other class books to every civil stranger, of whatever religion, who chooses to inspect them. If all that I have here stated be matter of fact, and take notice, Sir, I challenge inquiry into the truth of it, where is the man who will dare to reproach the Irish Clergy with being uneducated and illiterate? Indeed, few of those who hold this language have received half so good an education *.
It may be alledged that I have here exhibited a picture of the educa tion at the Royal College of Maynooth, being in the neighbourhood of the capital, and under the eye of dignified visitors; whereas the present charge applies to the officiating clergy in general, and particularly to those in the remote parts of the island. To this I answer, that since I visited Maynooth I have seen other catholic seminaries, particularly those of Carlow and Kilkenny, and that the same studies are pur sued, and I have reason to believe with equal success, in these as in the first mentioned. I must add, that having traversed a great part of Leinster and Munster, I have sought in vain amongst the parish priests and other clergy, in the towns and villages as well as in the cities, for those illiterate and uneducated men which they are all in general supposed to be. So far from being persons of this description, I have found them to be well informed, well behaved, gentle, modest, charitable, and pious. Some of them have occasionally been called into courts of justice, to give evidence in different causes; certain letters of others have been published on various occasions yet who of them has said or written any thing unbecoming a scholar, a gentleman, or a Christian Divine ?
I have spoken to the charge of ignorance brought against the Catholic Clergy; I will now speak to that of bigotry and proselyting; in doing which, I will not blink the question, but, having fairly explained it, I am content to take my share in the odium and contempt attached to the imputation.-If, then, the Catholic Clergy were not deeply persuaded that the change of religion and breach with the ancient Church, effected by Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, were undertaken upon unjustifiable grounds, and that their Church still continues to be the true Church of Christ, they would certainly be not only the most wretched, but also the most foolish of men, to suffer what they do suffer for adhering to it and serving it. Now, Sir, admitting them to be thus persuaded, would they not be destitute of the characteristical virtue of Christianity, were they to refuse communicating the advantage they possess to those whom they find sincerely engaged in the search of it? For they do not disturb the public peace by field preaching, nor that of private families, by intruding themselves into them uninvited. On the other hand, as it is not private emolument nor the aggrandizement of a party, but the mere exercise of a charitable office which they have in view in their communications with persons of a different communion, so they would conceive it a baseness and a crime to hold up any worldly consideration, hope, or fear to them, or to use any other impro
per means for gaining proselytes. Accordingly, I maintain, without fear of confutation, that the conduct of the converts to catholicity in general, throughout Ireland, demonstrates the purity of the motives by which they have been induced to take this step, as, on the other hand, the behaviour of those who have left this communion evidently shews they have done it for the sake of expatiating in wider fields of belief and practice than were allowed them in their native Church.
Thus much, Sir, in vindication of the Catholic Clergy from this accusation. Let us now see how far the persons who bring this charge are themselves implicated in it. I have already had abundant means of learning that the Protestants, of Ireland, in almost every part of it, are possessed of the most ardent zeal for proselyting the Catholics; and this not by the means of cool conviction and edifying example, but by downright bribes and terror. Here a protestant lady clothes, feeds, and provides for catholic children exclusively, whose parents will sell them to her at this price, for the sake of bringing them up Protestants; there a protestant landlord turns all his catholic tenants out of their farms, or exacts an oath, as the condition of holding them, that they will send their children to a protestant school which he has set up for the express purpose of proselytism. But why should I dwell upon private instances of the system of protestant proselyting, when it has been publicly professed and acted upon by the government of the coun
try, ever since it gave up that of putting its subjects to death for adhering to their religion. In fact, Sir, unexampled as such proceedings are in past times, astonishing as it will appear in ages to come, no less than 25,000l. continue annually to be levied, in a great measure, upon the Catholics themselves, independently of the rents of immense landed estates for purchasing the children of indigent Catholics (in as much as no protestant child can be admitted into a charter school) and educating them in the protestant religion. In still greater violation of the laws of nature, these purchased victims are uniformly transported in covered waggons to the greatest distance possible from the residence of their parents; the children of the northern provinces being conveyed to the charter schools of the south, and those of the south to the schools in the north, in order that the parent may never have the consolation of embracing the child, lest he or she should again make a Papist of it, and that the child may never enjoy the advantage of a parent's love and support, for fear it should thereby lose those religious impressions which, at so great an expense, have been wrought upon it! The Turks, indeed, take away the children of their Greek subjects in order to recruit the ranks of their janissaries; but they do this from a motive of policy, not of religion: the Irish government alone, of all governments in the world, violates the law of God and nature, in extinguishing parental and filial affection, and in se