« EdellinenJatka »
of barbarism, and make him undeserving the most glorious community ?-I should be glad to know what nation could expel him from its bosom, because he loved the language of his fore. fathers, and the words which were the first his infancy had utter. ed! No, let the mind be informed and the habits well directed, and men's' language will accommodate itself to their moral improvement, it will become polished and pleasing : or if it be in. flexibly barbarous, they will take advantage of a language already formed, for the expression of their new wants; and fitted to the extent of the intellectual attainments which result from civilization.
“But my friend has told you of a formidable influence in Ireland. I know it too well—and my country knows it too well--and it is on that very fact that the strongest argument agaiost his opinion is founded. That dominion which was commenced in dark and barbarous times, has, through a series of ages, established over the Irish population a terrible ascendancy. It has reduced them I am sorry to say, almost to a state of satisfied servitude, that kind of habitual slavery, in which chains and darkness are so familiar, that we have no remembrance of liberty and light ! and in which we look upon those who would beckon us from our dungeons as tormentors, that would betray us beyond the bounds of our security! To this infatuating influence, under which reason must be silent or rebellious, nothing can be opposed with such probable chance of success as the Gospel, conveyed through the medium of the Irish language. For you know, and the gentleman has told you that, that authority has forbidden the Book of Life, as something whose perusal is dangerous to man's salvation-yes, it rejoices in having rendered the human heart proof against the eloquence, with which its God addresses it-Awful violation ! to enact laws against God's law-to tear down the proclamation of his pardon to repentant men, and prefix to his published ordinances penalties against reading them ! An insult like this to an earthly sovereign would provoke extermination ! But God, in his wisdom, is of long endurance !-He allows human agency to have the merit, under his providence, of dissipating the obstacles which
man raises to his power ; and though any other system should obtrude itself like an opaque body between the light of heaven and the earth on which it would shine, covering human minds with the gloom of eclipsing superstition, yet that light which is able to consume it from its presence, permits it for a time, only to try the charitable energies of man to man ! Those energies are now put to the test of a great struggle, and this is an æra in which that agency is greatly operative; and you are instruments in aiding and promoting the grand design, which is to be consummated in the ascendancy of truth. Direct your efforts then to a country too long neglected, and too well deserving of your most active attention. I repeat it, the most effectual means to introduce to the Irish peasant a salutary influence, which must correct an injurious and hereditary feeling, is to make the language of truth address him—in what? in his own tongue! Yes, let him have the advantage which was given to the Cappadocians, and the Phrygians of old, and which is granted the Indian of the present day; let not him alone be an exception to the rule of an intelligent philanthropy. Vigorous indeed must be the understanding of that Irish peasant who would dare read the Scriptures contrary to a penalina junction; and when they accost him in a language, for which, neither from nature or from acquirement has he any affection; but when you
introduce the Gospel to him in his own language, there is some. thing too congenial to his feelings, too agreeable to the patriota passion in its aspect, to allow him to refuse its invitation, no matter what sentiment he may be told it contains. It has at least a charm in some measure capable of counteracting the charth that has enslaved him. It will at least induce inquiry; and when the subject of that inquiry is the Gospel--hesitate not to put it in his hands- man's duty will then be performed, and Heaven will not let it be in vain! Once received, it will soon improve his moral perceptions, till he becomes sensible of the odious deformity of that gothic superstructure whose gloomy and fantastic battlement have so long thrown their shadow over his country, chilling its moral bloom, and causing its virtues to perish untimely !
“I must add a word or two in reference to my friend, who has last addressed you.-I have, I trust, already replied to the main objects of his discourse. There is one argument' on which he has Jaid great stress—he has said that there is no analogy between Ireland and Wa'es, I am sorry for it--I am sorry they are not more alike there never was an analogy ; and because there is not one, our argument is stronger, and his is less convincing.. In Wales there is no authority that interdicts the Gospel to the humble peasant--that banishes its consolation from his hours of trial and its pleasant voice from the felicities of his fireside ! yet, is because he loved and understood his native tongue better than yours, you gratified that natural feeling, and gave him the Bible in Welch ; and when the Irish have not only one power against receiving the Scriptures in English, but another, and more formidable, that would prevent their receiving them at all-will you al. low the sacred volume to appear in a less attractive garb in the eyes of the latter, than it wore when you solicited the former to 20 accept? - Will you not take advantage of the prejudice in favour of the language that it may gain admittance for the sentiments per which destroy all prejudice --If an attachment to what separates and divides can be made introductory of a knowledge, that teaches enlarged views of the social duties, and supplants an instinctive by a reflecting patriotism, surely this is a wise application of intel igent power to the obstacles of ignorance, and its perverse opinion :--you thus take possession of an outwork, calculated to defend the prejudices which you attack, and convert it into a shelter for the approaches that must terminate in their extirpatia on !
"But my friend has shewn more of the speculative theorist, than the practical philosopher :-objections like what he has now made in the case of our country were advanced before with regard to Wales, but as reason shewed they were illiberal, experience has proved their futility; and Wales, now in possession of the inestimable gift sends out her own heroes in the cause of instruction: I could point out one in this assembly, who has come
e from the bosom of her hills to traverse the wilds of my native
land; fulfilling that text of Scripture, “ How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bringeth glad tidings.” Yes ; that gentleman has done more good (this I say because I know him well, and the friends that are acquainted with his labours,) by the knowledge he has accumulated, and the labours he has undertaken, than the formal decree of a legislature could have accomplished ! Yes, he has devoted himself indefatigably to emancipate men from the bondage of ignorance, and to deliver them from the frightful dungeons of an Irish Inquisition ! . Again, in reply to my friend, there are in many parts of Ireland, numbers who never speak English at all; their evidence is taken in a Court of Justice by means of an interpreter : how, I ask, is my
friend's plan to operate for the education of those ? how will it u not cruelly protract their time of ignorance and of servitude ? ir Gertlemen, I believe it is allowed in this country that an Irish
man may speak twice. perhaps if you will give my friend an opin portunity, he will now disavow his opinion. I have been among : the rude population of my country, and I know that many of them i cannot converse even on the most common topics in English:
well then, are they to be persuaded to take up an English spelling* book, and afterwards go through all the drudgery requisite to i teach them to reason in a foreign tongue, before you can give
them moral instruction, although it is proved that they may be taught to read their own language in a few months, and thus you
are at once enabled, by putting an Irish Testament in their hands, E to teach them the knowledge that surpasses all knowledge, before they go down to the grave!
“ Again, there is a rast part of the popylation that speak English partially. Their knowledge of it is but the ungracious acquaintance of necessity. As Mr. Anderson has well observed in his “ Memorial,” they only speak as much as is absolutely requisite for their ordinary intercourse of life with the English, or their descendants. He has truly and expressively said, they cannot reason in that language, “ Irish is still the language of the heart,
and the best part of the understanding." Well then, it is certain that if you agree with my friend, an immense number of human beings must reach the goal of mortality irretrievably lost as to knowledge ; while you are disputing and hesitating about the means of their instruction ! Think you not that their immortal souls will be required at the hands of an enlightened generation!
“I say it is a prospect too terrible to contemplate : you have proofs; proofs are stronger than all theoretical reasonings-strong. er than the contemplations of the philosophic mind, however learn. edly abstruse, or ingeniously imposing you have in reply to all speculative calculations, the most stubborn of all arguments--that of experience, the most decisive of all answers that of a practical conviction.
56 I trust I have not trespassed too long upon your time. I shall be glad to see my friend exert his eloquence in a good cause, since he has been able to say so much, though I hope to no effect, on a bad one: to no effect, not because he has not shewn eloquence and ability, but because you have had reason to be unalterably convinced to the contrary, by the lacid statements of the Report, to allow any ingenuity, however plausible, to controul your determinations. I only add, that you must expect obstacles, many and difficult. What moral conflict was ever won without the struggle of great opposition: all moral revolutions are slow and progressive. The means of dissipating intellectual darkness have never been orgaa nized into that power of producing immediate effect, like what the Deity has performed in the physical economy of the universe. When this earth is involved in obscurity, it may be brightened by a sunbeam which has traversed millions of miles, with a rapidity which outruns conception ; but no nation, ignorant and debased, has ever become suddenly glorious in the lustre of civilization, or has ever emerged from the confusion of barbarism to instantaneous apprehension of order and intelligence. Do not therefore, because you meet obstacles, lose that confidence in must make it surmount them. But it is enough for you to be convinced that in undertaking this task, you perform a great duty to