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THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.
MY DEAR SIR,
You will perceive in the signature subscribed to this letter the name of an old acquaintance. The recollection of the character of the society in which our intercourse occurred would induce me to avoid any inimical or discordant conflict with you ; while my utter dislike to that mode of contest which has, of late years, been too frequently adopted, and even on theological subjects, would influence me to shun controversy altogether: nevertheless, I feel myself obliged by the great motive of truth to declare, that many of the assertions contained in your first volume of the History of Ireland are not founded in facts; and I am compelled, by the vast influence of those assertions upon the best interests of my fellow-countrymen—their eternal interests in connexion with religion—to declare it faithfully, solemnly, and publicly. I shall, therefore, without further preface, endeavour to prove the two following allegations :
First, That the account which you have given of the first introduction of Christianity into Ireland is
Secondly, That the opinion you have advocated, of the doctrines inculcated by the first missionaries, teachers, and saints in that country, is, with scarcely a single exception, mistaken.
The question between us is, my dear sir, one of the very highest importance, and not by any means one of merely antiquarian research : it is, both directly and indirectly, of great magnitude in its influences, directly, as it is that of religion in Ireland; indirectly, because that the name of religion is, in that country, unhappily interwoven with every political question, and with almost every circumstance of the present day. You are perfectly well aware that authority possesses a powerful sway over the minds of the people of Ireland; despotic, when religion is the occasion upon which it is exercised; irresistible, when, robed in the revered -vestments of antiquity, it speaks her mandates ; and you have described this trait of national character with equal eloquence and truth, where, in your History, (p. 203) you advert to that "ready pliancy, that facility, in yielding to new im“pulses and influences, which, in the Irish character, “ is so remarkably combined with a fond adherence to old usages
and customs, and with that sort of “retrospective imagination which for ever yearns “ after the past.” When, therefore, authority upon a religious question comes dressed in that venerated robe, adjusted with a skill so successful as yours, it
is to be expected that it will operate with an enchantment, which nothing but the touch of Ithuriel's spear can possibly dispela fascination, against which no eloquence but that of unpretending truth can at all prevail.
The first point at issue between us, which is the correctness of the account that you have given of the first introduction of Christianity into Ireland, I shall discuss with you but briefly; and this for two
—first, because that we have less of information on that question; secondly, because the fact is of itself less important to establish-it matters now but little, comparatively, who were the first Christian missionaries among the Irish, or whence they came ; and the material point for us to determine is, the character of the doctrines which they inculcated.
At the very entrance of this argument there is obviously imposed upon me a considerable difficultyyou have no where, I believe, asserted, and therefore I can scarcely assume it as laid down by you, that St. Patrick was the
who introduced Christianity into Ireland; while every where you have laboured to produce the impression on the mind that such was the fact. You speak of “the “great epoch of the conversion of the Irish by St. “Patrick" (p. 106); of the time when he “introduced “among them the Christian doctrine" (307); you enter upon the subject of religion with an allusion to the “ original link formed with Rome, from her
having appointed the first Irish missionaries" (237); and, in relating the failure of Palladius in his mission, you say, (210) "he was forced to fly from the country, leaving behind him no other memorial of “his labours than the adage, traditional among the “ Irish, that not to Palladius but to Patrick did God
grant the conversion of Ireland”-a sentence which fixes this latter to be the original link to which you allude. It is indeed impossible to rise from the perusal of your work without having the impression made
upon the mind, that you exbibit this eminent person as indeed "the first Irish missionary;" and many will be surprised at my thus wasting time in endeavouring to prove such to have been your object; while in fact you do not say so, but directly and explicitly the reverse ; and indeed bad you so asserted, you would not have stated the truth.
The first witness whom I shall produce to prove that St. Patrick was not the first Irish missionary is, therefore, your own self; and I shall, as is but just, present your own testimony, and in your own words; where, in giving the account of his great successes in Connaught, (p. 221,) you observe thus“ It is supposed that to these western regions of “ Ireland the saint alludes, in his confession, where " he stated that he had visited remote districts where
no missionary had been before ;- -an assertion im“portant, as plainly implying that, in the more “accessible parts of the country, Christianity had, “ before his time, been preached and practised."
The evidence of St. Patrick himself is, in the next place—and you allow it-decidedly in my favour : his words in the original are these—“Ubique pergebam causâ vestrâ, etiam usque ad exteras partes, ubi