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ciliation.” We might pursue this current of reflection much farther, by running over the general principles of all mathematical, chemical, and metaphysical science; and we are persuaded that the result of the inquiry would come in aid of our religious belief, by shewing that the difficulties attending Christianity are of the same kind, (and probably should be referred to the same cause, the weakness of our faculties) as those which envelope all the fundamental principles of knowledge. We need not remind the reader how well a portion of this argument has been illustrated by Bishop Butler. · Philosophers, notwithstanding all these difficulties, recommend the cultivation and diffusion of the sciences, because they tend to sharpen the faculties of man, and to meliorate his condition in society. With how much greater reason and earnestness shall we recommend the dissemination and adoption of “ pure and undefiled religion,” considering its direct tendency to enlarge the understanding and fill it with the contemplation of Deity, to purify and harmonize the pas. sions, to refine the moral sense, to qualify and strengthen for every function in life, to sustain under the pressure of affliction, to afford consolation in sickness, and enable us to triumph in death! What other science can make even a pretension to dethrone oppression, to abolish slavery, to exclude war, to extirpate fraud, to banish violence, to revive the withered blossoms of Paradise ? Such are the pretensions and the blessings of genuine Christianity; and these are real, should it even be a fiction.-But such a science cannot be a fiction ; it has accomplished its promises on earth, it therefore will accomplish them in heaven. Here, indeed, its advocate must be reduced to silence ; for how shall be display the meaning of those promises ! how 'describe dignity so vast, or picture glory so brilliant ! How shall language delineate what mind cannot imagine! and where is that mind, anong puny and ephemeral creatures, that can penetrate the thick obscure, that can descry the light of Perfect Knowledge, that can feel the glow of Perfect Love, that can taste the air of Perfect Happiness!
In apology for the length of these reflections, we will plead the momentous import of the subject; we know that an extensive knowledge of the present state of the mathematical sciences cannot be obtained, without reading the works of foreign as well as English authors; and we are aware that the writings of some eminent French mathematicians abound in infidel principles. Our elder men of science, we hope, are for the most part of too sober a cast to be injured by these princi. ples; but we tremble for the fate of the young, and should rejoice to think it probable that these remarks might prevent one such student from abandoning the aids of religion, and venturing himself on the si-ormy ocean of life, without rudder, without compass, and without hope. Art. VII. Patriutic Sketches of Ireland, written in Connaught By Miss
Owenson. 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 350. Price 9s. boards. thillips. 1807. W E are really glad of any thing that tends to diffuse among
the people of England a knowledge of the remote, half-explored, but interesting and important country of Ireland ; a country which has had, what every country has not had, force of character enough to transform history into romantic fable, which has been prolific of heroes, which displays a people exceedingly different in their general hubits from ourselves, and which has been the scene of a tragedy, which, though it had its beginning so many ages back, seems vow to be but in the middle, and gives no sign of drawing toward the end. It is not however to young ladies that we should be most inclined to look for the best delineations of national character, or the most accurate statements respecting the political condition of a people; especially to ladies, of so thoroughly wild a breed as that of which the author of these volumes appears to be. Yet we have been in a degree amused and pleased, in reading some parts of her book. The writer has more faculty, and more observation, than the ordinary portion with which girls break loose from the boarding-school to scamper into the world. There would be some hope of her, if it were possible to catch her, while gamboling and frisking in romantic vagrancy, among the hills, rocks, and glens of Connaught, and contine her to the discipline of intellectual hard labour for a number of years. But when we observe the radical quality of her, it is matter of doubt with us whether she will ever be tamed, and matter of certainty that she will never be any thing worth, if she is not..
It seems she passed some time on a visit near Sligo, which she employed in rambling over the picturesque scenery of that part of the coast, in conversing a good deal with the country people, and in writing these sketches, which are intended to combine sentimental and political reflections with descriptions of that scenery, and recitals of those conversations. Among the descriptions there are particular parts which are good, and in the greater proportion that are not so, there is evidence of a rather strong imagination, which might yet, by a more cultivated taste and sense, be taught to paint, if it could once be convinced that the art consists in something else than furiously dashing quantities of colour against the canvass with a ladle. In describing great objects, the author's language seems a continual reproach of them for being little.
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The lofty precipice is not lofty enough, till she has piled upon it crags and mountains of epithet. The billows do not roar loud enough on the rocky shore of the Atlantic, till the cave of Æolus is fairly broken open, and the winds alt rush out at once in a teinpest and conflict of stormy words. Her language roars so loud, that we positively cannot hear the sublime sound of the ocear., nor can we well imagine a more ungracious interruption and counteraction to the emotion with which we should stand on that roinantic and sometimes tremendous shore which she describes, than to bave a companion there, who would compel us to hear such a bombastic mode of describing what we were contemplating and admiring. We really give her credit, however, for a strong feeling of the beauty and magni. ficence of nature; and therefore we attribute her monstrous diction to the passionate, uncouth labour of a very ill-cultivated and ill-governed mind to express its strong feelings, rather than to the mere ostentation of possessing such feelings.
The continual frippery and pomposity of out author's language, with its grossly incorrect construction, are consummated by a large quantity of new-coined words, some of them, as it would appear, the produce of her own whim, and some of them learnt probably from the cant of some affected, half-literary society, that she may have frequented. Is it because she is a wild Irish young lady, that she expects to be tolerated in sach liberties with the English language, as would expose the productions of the highest genius to scorn? Has she not one friend who would ever tell her, that before she undertakes to write, she ought to read a few of the classics of our language, and take some little notice of the manner in which they express themselves ?
Several of her descriptions of the manners and condition of the Irish peasantry in Connaught are entertaining, and even instructive. Her political and moral reflections are sometimes the suggestions of obvious truth, and sometimes a very juvenile attempt at philosophising beyond what is obvious.
The following descriptive musings in the ruins of Sligo abbey, are a favourable specimen of our author's manner.
Disposed by a certain tone of mind to behold with a touching interest a scene never to be viewed with indifference, while a pre-existing train of ideas were refreshed and associated by the corresponding impressions which my senses received from every object around me, I sat down on the tomb of the royal O'Connor, and plucked the weed, or blew away the thistle “ that waved there its lonely head.” The sun was setting in gloomy spiendour, and the lofty angles of the abbey-tower alone caught the reflection of his dying beams from the summits of the mountains where they still lingered : the horizon betrayed a beautiful gradation of tint, which insensibly softened into the reserved colour of twilight, while broken hues, and irregular masses of light and shadow, flung through the pillars of the cloisters, or from the high arched portals of the chapel, harmonised
the general outline of the ruins, and shed around such aerial and indistinct forms, as fancy woos to aid the vision of her wildest dream. Nor did she now refuse to “ give to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.” Along each mouldering aisle, and gloomy cloister, her creative eye still pursued the close cowled monk; the haughty abbot, pacing in all the solemn pomp of holy meditation the damp and chequered pavement; or caught the pious chieftain's warrior-form, as he made his sumptuous offering at the altar's foot, followed by the credulous and penitential crowd, which the artful policy of John had lured hither, to expiate the past, and purchase the remission of future sins. While the singular and striking ceremonies of a religion, so consonant to the liveliest powers of imagination, once splendidly celebrated in the now gloomy and ruinous chapel, the brilliant illuminations of tapers, the solemn procession of grey headed friars, or close-veiled nuns ; meretricious ornaments which the vitiated taste of superstition Aings over the pure and simple forms of true religion, and the swelling chaunt of midnight devotion or matins. piety, seemed even now something more than “ the baseless fabric' of a vision."
. Such scenes are never to be visited with that interest which peculiarly belongs to them, in the broad glare of day's meridian splendour, since much of their picturesque effect is produced by the solemn stillness of the twilight hour, when the faintest breeze wastes not its sigh upon a “ desert air ;” and when the dim discoloured light sheds a mystic hue on every object, and peoples the gloomy space with wild and fancied forms. The simplicity of reason, and the purity of truth, though they afford the clearest evidence to the mind, and sublime while they enlighten, deny to fancy that image so dear to her illusory desires ; the simple conviction of an abstract faith gives no picturesque forms to her wondering gaze, affords no mysteries to her unlicensed wishes. A sensible personified religion is the creed she clings to, where the senses are the medium of belief, and credulity reposes on the enjoyments of imagination. Thus the faith of a Socrates was the faith of a philosopher, but the mythology of Homer was the religion of a poet.' Vol. I. p. 23.
There are various cottage, or rather cabin scenes: we shall transcribe two of them.
• The moon rode high, and darted her beams through the foliage of the trees, that canopied our heads, while, opposed to her cold but brilliant light, the deep red blaze of a turf fire gleamed through the “ loop-hole" of a neighbouring cabin. The song which caught our ear as we passed the door, induced us to enter. It was the song of an itinerant taylor ; he was seated in the centre of an earthen floor, working by the light of a rush, and surrounded by a groupe of children, who were hanging de. lightedly on his song, and watching with eagerness the progress of the little frieze jackets, spun by their niother, and now in the hands of the musical taylor ; while their parents, released from the labours of hirc, were working by the light of the moon in their little garden ; and their eldest brother, submitting to the influence of inordinate fatigue, lay stretched on some straw in the corner of the cabin, the head of a calf actually reposing on his arm, and the parent cow quietly slumbering at his teet.--A more striking picture of the interior of an Irish cabin could not be given. Vol. II. p. 28.
I was struck by the forcible contrast presented to my eğe by two cabins, which lay close to each other ; the one, wretched and ruinous, was raised with mud and thatched with rods; the other, well built and almost picturesque in its appearance, displayed all the neat comforts of an English cottage. Mr. - offered to account for the disparity; but observing a decent-looking old man seated at the door of the better residence, he added, “ Here is one (an old tenant and workman of my father's) whose information on the subject will be more grateful to you than mine can be.” The old man now approached us, with that courtesy which invariably distinguishes the manners of the peasantry of this country, he requested us to walk in and rest ourselves, adding, that the cow had just been milked, if we would condescend, to take a draught of new milk. We found within the cabin his old dame, seated at her wheel, and a young girl, bu ied at some flax. I now inquired into the cause of that evident disparity of circumstances' which apparently existed between him and his neighbour, and was glad to hear that the ruinous cabin was uninhabited. -. That miserable hut,” said he, “ was my own poor home for twelve years ; for, never being able to get a lease from the gentleman who stood between me and the head landlord, (his honour's father there, Christ bless him) my heart failed me, as to doing any thing in the way of improvement; knowing that if I did, my poor boys might be turned out, and a stranger come and reap the fruits of our labour. So I went plodding on, from year to year, heartless enough, taking an acre here today, and there to-morrow, to sow our potatoes and flax in. But no sooner had the lands got back into his honour's hands, (my blessing light on him) than he gave us a lease that will stand good for my children, and my children's children ; and then our spirits got up, and we worked night and day, and improved this little farm, and built this comfortable cabin, which it is worth while to keep neat and clean ; and though I never saw twenty guineas of my own together in all my life, there is not a happier man in the barony for all that.' Vol. II. p. 3.
In various parts of these volunes, the fair writer takes upon. her to play the infidel; not with any thing like feminine diffidence, but with a right bold amazonian face. She talks in a good masculine strain about fanaticism and superstition; about the light of nature ; about the wisdom of Catharine of Russia in dispersing 80,000 copies of the Koran, in kindness to her Mahometan subjects; about the folly of the English peasant, in employing those 'hours of the Sunday in reading religious tracts, which the Irish. peasants more judiciously employ in the sports and dances, and consequently in the brawls and intoxication, of a kind of revel, to which, she says,' crowds of them, assembling from miles round, devote the afternoon of Sunday. She, no doubt, has taken a world of pains to inform herself on the subject of religion, and is therefore well intitled to tell mankind, how much better they might do without it. Amidst her gay visits, her rambles, and her reading and writing of ephemeral novels, she has unquestionably found time and seriousness for a profound investigation of the nature and evidences of Christianity; she