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island so destitute of education, morality, religion, and civilization; and are their clergy, "in particular, so scandalously illiterate, super"stitious, and disloyal as they are represented to "" be? It is no such long journey," continued I, "from this my residence to the shore of the "Irish channel, and from thence to the capital of "Ireland is but the voyage of a few hours. "What hinders me, then, from forming my own opinion upon these matters, by observing "and conversing with the Irish Catholics in "their own country?"
I must, however, Sir, observe to you, that previously to my holding this soliloquy, I had conceived a wish of viewing one of the political phænomena of the present times; a people, without any revolution or other visible cause, rising up, as it were, all at once, from apparent insignificancy and absolute contempt, to the first rauk of importance and respectability in the scale of nations. Within your memory, Sir, and mine, the Irish Catholics were hardly thought worthy of notice amongst politicians: they were almost non-entities in the law and constitution of the . empire if they were mentioned in the legislative assemblies, it was merely for the purpose of adding some new weight to a system of legal oppression avowedly contrived to grind them to atoms when, behold, at the present day, these Helotes, these Gibeonites, the hewers of wood and drawers of water in the land of their nativity, have suddenly acquired so much impor
tance as to justify the first statesmen of the age in unanimously and emphatically assuring us, that the fortune of the British empire depends upon theirs.
As I myself am no politician, I take up this alarming assertion on the credit of those great men who are well known to have often repeated it: but thus much I can pronounce from my own observations, that the fate of us English Catholics depends upon that of our brethren in Ireland. If their claims are overlooked, ours will never be thought worthy of notice. On the other hand, whatever redress of grievances or legal privileges they obtain, we shall not long remain deprived of. Our political weight and importance, compared with theirs, is small indeed. In a word, they are the stately vessel which catches the breeze and stems the tide, we are the cock-boat which is towed in her wake.
Such, Sir, were my musings, and such my inclinations with respect to a tour to Ireland, when, a week ago, I received a letter from a respected and most valuable friend of mine then near Dublin, in which he entreated me so earnestly, and with such powerful motives, to pay him and certain other friends in his company a visit, that I hesitated no longer about the expedition.Already, then, after passing through places in England familiar to me, I have surveyed the romantic vale of Llangollen, and the stupendous scenery round about CapelCarrig and Snowden, I have traversed the bar
ren heaths of Anglesea, where, instead of the frantic Druids of ancient times, described by Tacitus, I have seen the assembled population of the island agitated by the more enthusiastic orgies of religious jumping. To be brief, I have crossed the narrow, but rough channel, the dread of which deprives you and many other Englishmen, who descant upon the Irish Catholics without knowing them, of the advantage I possess in being able to see them and converse with them. I now also have viewed the celebrated Bay of Dublin, confessedly the most beautiful in Europe next to that of Naples, studded as it is on each shore with innumerable shining villages, villas, and martello towers, and bounded on this side by the majestic hill of Howth, and on that by the aspiring and diversified mountains of Wicklow, with the vast and gorgeous capital of Ireland in the centre of the scene; and now, behold! having escaped from the plucking of the pigeon-house *, I am safely lodged upon one of the quays of the Liffey.
I know, Sir, you would not forgive me, were I to omit communicating to you the result of my observations and reflections upon matters which have so often been the subject of our friendly debates, now that they are under my eye. I shall therefore comply with your wish in such manner as my leisure will permit, after stipulating with you for that perfect freedom of judgment and ex
The Custom-House is there situated.
pression, without which all inquiry and discussion is nugatory and ridiculous. By the same rule, Sir, after I shall have delivered my opinion, you will be at liberty to judge of it, and to controvert it as you please.
Hanc veniam petimus damusque vicissim.
I have the honour to remain,
Maynooth, June 29, 1807.
THE very morning after my arrival in Dublin particular business conducted me to this place, which is about a dozen miles distant from it. In my journey hither, and in my subsequent excursions, I have had opportunities of surveying the shores of the Liffy, which, if not so majestic and so rich in princely villas as the Thames is to the west of London, is more enchantingly diversified by its meandering turns, its alternate shallows and
depths, its hanging woods, and its lofty banks, now smoothly shelving to the water edge, now surmounting it in bold rocks and perpendicular precipices.
The universal population of Maynooth, and particularly the inhabitants of the Royal Catholic College, still mourn for the loss of their landlord and friend, the late good Duke of Leinster. The noble palace and domain of his family border the town to the east of it, whilst the college, with the magnificent ruins of the ancient castle, of the Fitzgeralds, terminate it to the west. The new building consists of lodging rooms, schools, a church, a library, a hall, and other offices, erected in a style worthy the munificence of his Majesty and the liberality of parliament, and suitable to the accommodation of 200 ecclesiatical students, besides a provost, a bursar, professors, and servants. An extension of one of the wings for the lodging of 200 additional students (for whose support, during the ensuing twelve months, the present parliament has voted 50001. in addition to the 80001. granted heretofore) is far advanced. Methinks, Sir, I hear you exclaim, with a, pish as many others have exclaimed beyou: "What a needless waste of money, for "the support of an illiterate, uncivilized set of
/* When the length of the preparation for taking catholic orders, and the uncertainty of the students perseverance are considered, it is plain that even the enlarged establishment will not furnish half priests enough to supply the vacancies annually occurring by deaths amongst 2500 officiating clergy.