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immediate meane of lightening the weight in this country, for mental improvement is of slow progress, will be found in a more extensive and skilful cultivation of flax, one of those few manufactories suited to rural management, and to which the soil, situation, and general circumstances of Ireland are peculiarly adapted.
To the causes of population's rapid progress already assigned, I have to add one, now almost forgot, hut unquestionably entitled to a high place in the catalogue,—I mean the cessation of that dreadful malady, the small pox, for many years little inferior in devastation to the plague itself. Many old people still bear in mind the waitings occasioned by the extinction of almost entire families, and I can my self remem her, when few of those who had survived its attack were free from marks of injury, and when many a face was horribly disfigured. The general practice of inoculation took place here about the middle of last century, and the recent introduction of the cow pock seems to promise a. gradual annihilation of the disorder. Indeed, an improved mode of treatment, for want of which many of the first inoculated were sufferers, had, even before Dr Jenner's valuable discovery, almost disarmed it of all its terrors.
A question will naturally occur—if mankind in general^and the Irish, in particular, possess this instinctive and irresistible tendency to multiplication, —how comes it to pass that the general history of ancient times contains so little complaint of overgrowing population, and the history of Ireland none at all? The question admits of easy solution. With respect to times of high antiquity, the paucity of inhabitants, and their simplicity of manners, attest the truth of theMosaic account, which places the creation of man at no very early period of the world. Had it been otherwise, our globe must have been fully peopled, and generally civilized, long before the date of the oldest history. The tendency of man to multiply his kind, a fact incontrovertibly established by present experience, did therefore exist at all times, and if we may believe the maintainers of human degeneracy, must have been more operative in those days of superior vigour than at present. To analogical inference, on which in this case we may safely enough venture to rely, we can add abundant corroboration from his
tone testimony, which will both establish the existence of such a tendency, and explain the causes of its frequent miscarriage. The means of counteraction were manifold, and many nf i in in continue to exert a baneful influence to the present day—bad governments, licentious habits, savage and predatory modes of life, polygamy, slavery, pestilence, famine, and the desolating ravages of war, frequently undertaken, not for conquest, but extermination. A review of this black
catalogue of misfortune, ignorance, and iniquity, removes all difficulties from the question of multiplying tendencies, and only leaves the reader to wonder how, under such circumstances, mankind could have multiplied at all, for that they did multiply, and that abundantly, in the face of these general discouragements, is a fact supported by the same unquestionable evidence. From what small beginnings the commonwealth of Rome arose, and what a height of power, an extent of territory, and :i mass of population, her steady and skilful policy enabled her to obtain in the course of not many centuries, is known to every classical school-boy. Greece, too, where arts and arms so eminently flourished, in spite of her restless spirit, and unceasing as well as sanguinary commotions, was obliged to relieve her growing weight of populous encumbrance, and enlarge her territory by emigration and colonizing. Even the barbarians of the North, unpropitious as their mode of life was to the nurture of children, became too numerous for their forests, and after many repulses, atleiigth succeeded in overpowering the degenerate legions of Rome, and getting possession of the imperial city. Though their numbers have been exaggerated by terror and effeminacy, yet were they in reality very considerable, supplied from such an immense extent of country, capable, under the hand of civilized culture, of support* ing twenty times their amount. From Cesar's report of his Gallic campaigns, and the multitudes that fell under \as victorious arms, we draw indubitable proofs of the accelerating progress of population even under circumstances of barbaric discouragement. But we must not employ a modern scale in estimating the amount of a nation's people then from the number of its warriors. An army now, even in a Buonapartean calculation, makes but a
small portion of the people; it is collected either to aggrandize or to defend. All were warriors in those days, and the inarch of a barbarian army might not nnfirequently be called a inarch of the nation. In fact, where herds and flocks constitute both the wealth and the subsistence of the people, it is altogether impossible that they can be very numerous. Corn, it is true, was cultivated in Gaul, where civilization had made some advances, but rarely, if at all, in Germany and the northern districts. These observations naturally supply an answer to the question, as far as Ireland is concerned, the paucity of whose ancient inhabitants, and the tardyprogress of whose population, serve to prove what indeed has been pretty well proved already, that their best state was little better than a state of barbarism, and that they could not have possessed the arts of civilization so lavishly bestowed on them by the arrogant mendacity of modern scribblers, because those arts must infallibly have led to the building of towns, the pursuits of trade, and the cultivation of land; all which employments would of necessity have produced a rapid, and, in no very great length of time, an overflowing increase of population. The state of Irish society under native chiefs, or rather the perpetual hostility of those petty predatory potentates, was indeed tolerably well calculated to thin their numbers, and avert the evils of overgrowth. In this way it more than answered all the happy purposes of Dean Swift's project for preventing beggary, by eating the children of the poor, because it not only diminished the breed of paupers, but kept up a race of heroes. How far such heroism might be conducive to Irish glory, I leave to those who so piteously lament its extinction to determine; it was not certainly conducive to any of those arts and acquisitions which the enlightened philosophy of modern days regards as indispensably necessary to the prosperity and renown of a civilized empire. Though the' exquisite soul, or (as an author like me, who writes only to be understood, would say) sound of music, which once delighted the ravished ears of Irish demigods in the halls of Tara, and though the songs of minstrels, celebrating exploits not always very dissimilar either in plan or execution from those of the Rockite hero, Vol. XV.
might have been extremely pleasant and appropriate in their day; yet am I inclined to think, that the melodious bard, who now so patriotically laments their loss, would be very little pleased to see them revive in any but poetic shape. The resurrection of these terrible graces, is, I trust, a miracle beyond the utmost hope of the most sturdy and inveterate Milesian. Yet have we lived to witness the return of what seemed as little to be looked for in the 19th century of the Christian sera. In times of national barbarism, when pious fraud was deemed requi^ site for the subjugation of minds incapable of rational persuasion, and accessible only through their fears, the miracle-monger mighthave found some apology for his deception in the necessity ot deceiving. To see it resorted to now, to see the divine truths of Christianity thrown into the background, and a confederacy of sacerdotal jugglers exhibiting their legerdemain,, with nuns and nunneries; to sec popular ignorance, rusticity, and superstition, not endeavoured to be removed by moral and rational instruction, but endeavoured to be retarded and confirmed by the grossest frauds of the grossest ages, is no less to be wondered at than deplored. Occasional instances of fancied inspiration, of enthusiastic raving, or of monkish quackery, would never surprise; from individual acts of deceit, of folly, and of falsehood, no state of society is or ever will be exempt. But to behold the highest dignitaries of a church calling itself Christian, and professing to be the lineal possessor of apostolic virtue, the perfect patroH of evangelical rectitude, and the sole depository of divine commission—to see also a sago assembly of self-constituted senators, claiming more than an equal share of natural talent, of acquired knowledge, of legal ability, and of liberal patriotism; to see all these, I say, sanctifying, sanctioning, and defending toe miserable delusion, while Hot a-single voice among the host of that church's educated and well-informed followers, raises a fresh sound in defence of reason and of truth, is wonderful and astonishing indeed!!! If they believe this linsey-woolsey compound of Irish and German manufacture—what must we call them?—Fools.—If they do not, I leave my readers to find the appropriate appellation. I have return* ed unwillingly to this painful subject; it recurs irresistibly to every intelligent and enlightened mind, alive to the feelings of real patriotism, and anxious to wipe off the stains of national reproach. It must, I am convinced, lead to an ultimate dereliction of those unworthy arts, and the adoption of better modes of influence; for, silent as they may be, shame and sorrow have at this moment a seat in many an honest Irish heart; and those who are now passive under the impressions of habitual respect, of shame, or of surprise, will unquestionably raise their voices at last in defence of outraged decency and truth, and those voices must be heard. I look not to, I never did contemplate, the conversion of that Church to Protestantism; but I do look, and now, perhaps, with greater hope, to its adoption of a more evangelical character, a more rational and efficacious mode of communicating Christian instruction. Though, like an overgrown tree, its powers are now wasted in the production of barren foliage, yet may the hand of a judicious pruner easily repress unprofitable luxuriance, redeem its character, and restore its fruit. To promote this happy change, I take leave to add a few additional observations.
Instances of providential favour and protection, both to nations and to individuals, have been, and now are, sufficiently apparent in God's moral government of the world. The records of the past, and the experience of the present, abundantly attest the overruling direction and allwise and almighty Power. Although the clear voice of reason proclaims the necessity of miracles to the primary support of our divine religion, at a time when every human power, prejudice, and passion warred against it, yet does she employ an equal strength of argument in demonstrating the futility of fancying that they are to remain when those obstructions have been overcome, and the system they were wanting to establish, secured upon an immoveable foundation. It must be no ordinary cause that will induce the Deity to change the settled course of things, invert his own rules, and disturb the order of Nature, for such is the power possessed by the real, and claimed by the pretended performer of miracle*. Who fed starving mul
titudes, and covered shivering naked. ness, in the land of miracles in !*'-':<? The power and goodness of God unquestionably; but it was the goodness and power of God naturally operating on the minds of the generous and beneficent in both islands, and in a more particular and transcendent degree on those of the heretical inhabitants of Great Britain. It is thus that the Christian revelation attests the divinity of its origin, main' tains its character, and displays its influence. It is thus that the true professor is distinguished from the spurious, by higher views, deeper reflections, and more exalted sentiments, by his attachment to the substance, his disregard for the show. Girt with the invulnerable panoply of celestial truth, diffusing its radiance, though with unequal lustre, over all the earth, and receiving hourly accessions to it« strength, Christianity scorns the puny aid of the bigot's narrow dogmas, or the wonder-worker's fragile crutch. It spurns at the appearance of pious imposture, whether the result of simple superstition, of stupid credulity, of grovelling ignorance, or of unworthy artifice. It rests for support on it* moral fitness for the wants of man, its adaptation to every stage and condition of life, the simplicity of its principles, the purity of its doctrines, and the sublimity of its truth. If the DiVine Word has not been written in vain, we know already, or at least it is our own fault if we do not know, as much of its nature, obligations, and exalted excellence, as can possibly be imparted. All that remains to the pastor is to teach, and all that remain» for the disciple, is to follow the instructions of the Master. This, and this only, constitutes the sum and substance of the Gospel Covenant; this is to act in accordance with the beneficent intention of the heavenly Author; this is, in the best, and only present sense of the words, to give
EYES TO THE BLIND, and FEET TO THE
Lame. The Church which departs from these principles, and substitutes her own prescriptions for those of the celestial Healer, written, as they are, in never-fading colours, and attested by inspired and incorruptible witnesses, may deck herself with what titles or garments she pleases, but her religion is not the religion of Jesus Christ.
Thb Ladye's Brydalle.
"Come liither 1 come hither, ray little foot-page,
And beare to my gaye Ladye
Rede well what she toileth to thee:
•• And take tent, little page! if my Ladye's cheeke
Be with watching and weeping pale,
And oome back and tell me thy tale.
"And marke, little page! when thou shewest the ringc,
If she snatcheth it hastilye—
To her forehead of ivorye;
"And take good l»eede, if for gladnesse or griefe,
So chaungeth my Ladye's cheere— Thou shalt know bye her eyes—if their light laugh out
Throwe the miste of a startynge tear;
'• (Like the summer sun throwc a mominge cloude)
There needeth no further token,
Hath keepit her faithe unbroken.
"Nowe ryde, little page! for the sun peeres out
Ower the rimme of the eastern heaven;
Ere the shadowe falles far at even."—
Awaye, and awaye! and he's far on his waye,
The little foot-page alreddye,
That steede so fleete and steddye.
But the Knighte stands there lyke a charmed man,
Watchinge with ear and eye,
That swifte as the wynde doth flye.
But the wyndes and the lightninges are loiterers alle
To the glaunce of a luver's mynde; And Sir Alwynnc, I trowe, had call'd Bonnybelle slowe,
Had her fleetnesse outstrippit the wynde.
Beseemed to him, that the sun once more
Had stayedde his course that daye— Never sicke man longed for morninge lighte,
As Sir Alwynne for eueninge graye.
But the longest daye must end at last,
And the brightest sun must sette.
There at cuen he stayeddc him ycttc:
And he spyethe at laste—'• Not soe, not soe,
'Tis a smallc graye cloude, Sir Knighte, That riscthe up like a courser's head
On that border of gowden lighte."
"But harke ! but harke ! and I lieare it now—
'Tis the cominge of Bonnybelle!" "Not soe, Sir Knighte! from that rockye height
'Twas a clattering stone that felle."
"That slothfulle boy! but I'll thinke no more
Of him and his lagging jade to-daye :"— "Righte, righte, Sir Knighte!"—" Nay, more, bye this lighte,
Here comethe mye page, and mye gallante graye."
"Howe nowe, little page ! ere thou lightest* downe,
Speake but one word out hastilye;
Hath jnye Ladye keepit her faithe with mee ?"—
"I've seen thy Ladye luve. Sir Knighte,
"Lighte downe, lighte downe, mye trustye page;
"Tell on, tell on; was mye Ladye's cheekc
Pale as the lilye, or rosie red?
And what was the verye firste word she said ?"—
"Pale was thy Ladye's clieekc, Sir Knighte,
Blent with no streake of the rosic red. I put the ringe on her finger smalle; •
But there is no voice amongste the dead."—
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There are torches hurrying to and froe
In Raeburnc Tower to-nighte;
As if for a brydalle ryte.
But where is the bryde? and the brydegroome where?
And where is the holye prieste?
To partake of the marriage feaste?
The bryde from her chamber descendeth nowe,
And the brydegroome her hand hath ta'en; And the guestes are met, and the holye prieste
Precedeth the marriage traine.
The bryde is the faire Maude Winstanlyc,
And death her sterne brydegroome; And her father follows his onlye childc
To her mother's yawning tombc.