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Dublin, July 19, 1834. Dear Niece, It is very true that your political economy must lie by for another month. I could be sorry on your account; on my own, I must rejoice in a prolonged stay among this singular people. I apply the epithet, not to the higher classes, but to the great body of effervescent popery which may be said to constitute, at this time, the Irish population. You write to me of public excitement on your side the water: excitement in England! Why, my dear child, I have lived to this day unconscious what the word implied, and have come to school in my old age to learn it.
I have, as you know, often told you that there was a great bustle on change, when public affairs have looked somewhat critical, and the money-market participated in the fluctuations of men's minds : henceforth the Royal Exchange of London will appear to me as a divan of impurturbable Turks, contrasted with what I am witnessing here. Conversing with this ardent people, you always lose sight of the individual : he seems merged in the body to which, respectively, he belongs. The Roman Catholic is watching with exulting confidence the march of events now producing mighty things, towards the aggrandisement of his religion. The Protestants are rallying with strong, nay, stero determination around their persecuted church, and reckoning on their moral power, as giving them an advantage over the fearful odds of their enemies, numerically considered. The body of true believers among them, which is large and increasing, appear actuated by a glowing zeal, in comparison with which our English piety wears a lukewarm appearance indeed. Deeply sensible that a tremendous crisis is at hand, that the powers of evil have a permitted sway, menacing disastrous consequences to their beloved country, and even threatening the total subversion of the true faith among them-still do these devoted followers of Christ keep a steady eye upon the immutable promise of their Master-they behold his church assailed by the gates of hell : but they have his sure word that the gates of hell SHALL NOT prevail against it; and they regard every discouraging event as a call to be more zealous in that cause which, ultimately, MUST prevail. Oh, my child, it is very lovely, and it is very humbling too, to witness the devotion of these Christians, labouring to spatch here and there a soul from the dominion of Satan, among those who are working to effect their destruction. While popery is striding onward, assisted by the voice of popular applause, and unopposed, if not accelerated in her desperate course, by the arm of civil government, we continually meet with individuals, drawing around them little parties of sympathizing Christians, whose help they crave in some project of building a church, or establishing a mission, or supporting a scriptural school, in the farthest wilds of their beautiful island, where the priest-ridden people are in a state of more than semi-barbarism, and where the sweet sound of the gospel is either unknown, or denounced as the war cry of enemies, meet only to be destroyed.
You ask me how the tidings of the late changes at home have been received here? With a great deal of eager expectation, in the first instance ; followed by a very general expression of dissatisfaction when their nature was understood. Neither party is, or can be satisfied, in Ireland : and the present ministry seem to enjoy a peculiar degree of unpopularity on all sides. The renewal of the coercion bill is, of course, exceedingly offensive to those who most need to be coerced; wbile the removal of its important and most necessary clauses, instead of inspiring any gratitude towards the legislature, is placed altogether to the credit of the great agitator, whose influence it incalculably advances. I need not tell you that the Protestants are deeply incensed at the late manoeuvre, which was executed altogether at their expense; while the populace, writhing under the pressure of extreme poverty-of such destitution and squalid wretchedness as you can hardly con. ceive-are easily persuaded by the priests and demagogues, that nothing can ameliorate their condition but a repeal of the union, a domestic legis. lature, and the full, final establishment of Popery, in its most despotic and intolerant form. We have often turned a compassionate eye towards poor Ireland, from our quiet study, and considered that we pretty well understood both the evils under which she groans, and their remedy: but a close inspection, on the spot, of what engaged our distant sympathy, while it has fully confirmed the view already taken, has also shown me that, in the application of that sole remedy, difficulties must be
experienced, too mighty for man alone to cope with.
• It is most grievous-it wrings my heart, to look abroad on this loveliest of lands, to compute the internal resources, wherewith God has so richly blessed her, that plenty ought to smile upon every cabin, and comfort be the lot of every family-to behold a race of men, active, energetic, intellectual, and fraught with the kindliest feelings of humanity --to calculate the vast advantages afforded, in a commercial point of view, by her magnificent ports, and noble rivers, and all the facilities of excellent roads, improveable to any extent--yea, to include the crowning possession of an established Protestant church, authorized and enabled to disseminate the word of divine truth throughout the land-it wrings, I say, my very heart to look upon all this, and to behold a country so favoured, delivered over as a prey to every temporal and spiritual evil. Her natural riches are neglected-her people are divided, the one class engaged in perpetual strife, the other wasted by famine; while their souls remain in darkness more gross than that of the rudest heathenism.
• A meeting is about to take place, for the purpose of concentrating and expressing the Protestant feeling of the land : I look forward to it with mingled hope and fear. If the Lord indeed put his Spirit within the hearts of the leading men-a Spirit of love and peace, of tender compassion for their blind and misguided enemies, and of firm reliance on their God alone, to achieve by their means the regeneration of their unhappy country—then I shall look for glorious results. There is no restraint with the Lord, to save by many or by few: but rather we have strong consolation in recalling the many instances where he has made choice of the smallest number of the weakest instruments to effect his mighty purposes of good to the church. I fear for my dear Protestant friends, lest they lean upon the arm of flesh; computing their numbers, their influence, their undaunted resolution to uphold the balwarks so fiercely assailed. I dread their coming together without the indispensable preliminary of confession and humiliation in the sight of God, for, unless they and their fathers had sinned and done very wickedly, this mischief could not have fallen upon a country so distinguished by spiritual advantages. Protestants, as a body, should never forget that to the supineness of Protestantism is to be traced the fearful growth of popery and infidelity. Had the Irish church been true to her awful trust, it had been IMPOSSIBLE for the light to be so extensively quenched in Ireland; and when we consider that the breach of the second commandment is that whereto the sinful neglect of our fathers has led the great bulk of the people, surely it behoves us to lay to heart the emphatic denunciation annexed to that very command. So long as we cover the sin, we shall not be delivered from its consequences : and woe to the leaders of the Irish Protestants, if they assemble their brethren in any other spirit than that of Daniel, as expressed in his ninth chapter.