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any peculiar virtue in this water, since, supposing such a virtue, it must be greatly diluted in rainy weather, and often forty times weaker, than after a continuance of fair weather. You must therefore either attribute the cure to a supernatural power, as the common Irish do, who shew you the mark of St. Patrick's knee in a large stone on one side of the well, or to method only. The monks, in the darker ages of the church, took infinite pains to furnish themselves with nostrums, especially for unaccountable disorders, and with methods of cure, as like miracles 'as possible. Hence their carmina or charms for epilepsies ; and especially for all disorders accompanied with a flatulency, which they applied along with the nostrum, giving the whole credit of the cure to the charm, that it might seem a miracle, but allowing the nostrum, however, to carry the appellation of carminative. It was their common practice to give a locality to their method of cure, when bathing or drinking a particular mineral water, was chiefly depended on, by affixing their miracle to a certain well, and drawing the diseased from all parts to that well; where, after all, nothing could be done without masses, charms, amulets; nor they obtained, without stated taxes paid to the attendant priests. It is very probable Gralliboi owes its vogue to this sort of pious fraud, and the cures it performs merely to a method which might succeed as well with any other sort of water. Nothing could be better chosen than this pool, to improve a natural cure into a miracle, as it is evident, the pool hath no water of its own, nor can, with any colour of reason, be supposed to impart the sanative virtue in an instant to the water of the rivulet, and as instantaneously to withdraw it again, when that water regorges into the stream. A medicine, or method of cure is apt to abate the credit of a miracle, supposed to be wrought with it, as necessary to the success; but the oddity and seeming danger of this method, with the ragoffering, were very well fitted to parry the supposition of a natural or mechanical effect. I am convinced also by the repeated experiments made at this pool, on persons as susceptible of colds as any whatsoever, that there is little or no danger of taking cold by the process mentioned, absolutely none, of taking any other cold, than what is instantly
thrown off by the plentiful perspiration ensuing. Not one of the patients, who have gone through with this extraor dinary method of cure, ever complains of the slightest cold in consequence of it, no more than the Laplanders, Labradors, nor some of our northern Irish, who still retain the custom, complain of colds in consequence of a contrary practice, much more likely to obstruct both sensible and insensible perspiration, that, I mean, of sitting in a stove, till they are almost dissolved in sweat, and rushing from that immediately into the coldest water, or a deep drift of snow. But these things, whether matter of theory or practice, I submit wholly to the judgment of those gentlemen, whom much study, and long experience have taught to reason on medical subjects with incomparably more ability and accuracy, than I can pretend to, I at the same time submit it, whether or no the trial, so often made with success at Gralliboi, may not be safely made with other water, and on the encouragement of so many incontestable facts in that which, I am pretty sure, is but common water, with very good prospect of benefit. All I dare insist on is, that the facts in this narrative, are incontestably and notoriously true, and that any physician may have full satisfaction of their truth at the place, either by going thither to inquire into it, or by sending his jaundiced patient to the pool.
I am sensible, it will be objected, that in case the liver should be considerably obstructed by a schirrus, or should be affected by even a recent ulceration, or should produce the bilious juice in too great abundance, or of a morbid disposition, no cure can possibly be hoped for a jaundice, proceeding from any such causes, be the means made use of what they will. To this I can say nothing, but that among so many thousands, cured at this pool, it would be too bold an assertion to say, that not one of them had his liver affected with any of the ailments, just now mentioned. It is rather highly probable, that many, or most of them, actually had, and carried off this bowel in good enough order, be the amendment as unaccountable as you please to suppose. It is not easy to assign a greater absurdity in any branch of knowledge, than that among medical writers of condemning and casting medicines, long ap
proved in practice, because they can find in them no sensible qualities, answerable to the sanative effects ascribed to them by former physicians. Allow this criterion, and you shall deny, that opium can alleviate pain, mercury salivate, crocus metallorum puke, or Peruvian bark do any service in intermitting fevers or gangrenes. There is nothing in these drugs to promise our senses the extraordinary effects they produce, nor in the odd sort of a cold bath at Gralliboi to heal a distempered liver, or cure the jaundice; yet that it actually does the one is not to be contested, and therefore, that it does the other, is a point too probable to be given up on a mere assertion, that obstructions, schirruses, indurations, ulcers of the liver, are incurable, at least by the Gralliboi process.
N. B. Grally or gralliagh signifies pool or puddle, and bois or boi, yellow, in Irish.
ACCOUNT OF LOUGH DERG,
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND
LORD BISHOP OF CLOGHER.
MY LORD, Your curiosity concerning Lough Derg, and the penances performed at that place, is the same, and likely to be gratified, if I may be allowed so to say, in much the same manner, with that of other Protestants, who actually go thither. They at the peril of every bone, pass over a rocky mountain, to view that, which once seen, is found not worth the seeing; and your lordship, through this tedious and rugged detail, in order to be informed of certain particulars, either not worth the knowing, or known to the reproach of human nature. But till they are known, it is not to be believed, that such a noise could have been made at a distance by matters so extremely trifling. Yet, howsoever insignificant they may be in themselves, as they bear some analogy to religion; as for three or four centuries they have been much talked of in the world; and as they still draw together annually in that remote part of your lordship’s diocess not less than four thousand persons, it undoubtedly concerns your lordship to know the cause of this concourse, what is there done, and what is the scene of action, on the part of the priests, or of suffering on that of their deluded people.
In the county of Donnegal, at the distance of four miles from Lough Earn, and in the midst of mountains and mo
rasses, extending every way to a considerable distance, there is a very fine lake, in ancient times called Lough Fin, or White Lake, but for several ages past, called Lough Derg, or Red Lake. This piece of water is about a mile and a half in breadth, and'somewhat more in length, spangled here and there with small rocky or heathy islands. In the largest of these, still called the Island of Saints, are the ruins of a small well-built chapel, at which the penances were, some ages ago, performed. But that island standing too near the shore, the penitents often stole in at nights, the water being there but shallow, without paying for waftage.
On this account it was that the penitential scene was shifted to another island, somewhat more central. To this latter, from the beginning of May until about the middle of August, every year, the penitents resort from all parts of Ireland (as in old times they did from most parts of Europe) to expiate their sins. This they do in obedience to their confessors, who may enjoin them any other penance at discretion, to be performed nearer home. The pumber therefore of the pilgrims who take this tour, depends more on the friendship of distant priests to the prior of Lough Derg, than on the opinion of superior efficacy in this particular expiation. However, to keep up that opinion, and give a countenance to the lucrative practice, founded on it, the priests frequently, the titular bishops sometimes, and now and then a romanist of some fashion, appear among the penitents. The rest are all of the poorer sort, to the number of three or four thousand every year. Of these the greater part are only proxies for wealthier people, who at a small expense in cash thus discharge their sins through the feet and knees of their indigent neighbours. As soon as a pilgrim hath arrived at the summit of a neighbouring mountain, from whence the holy lake is to be seen, he, or she, is obliged to uncover both head and feet, for all is holy from sight to sight, thus to walk to the water side, and thence at the expense of sixpence, to be wafted into the island. On this are erected two chapels, and fifteen other houses, all thatched, for the accommodation of the priests and penitents. Formerly the poor penitents had little other covering than the sky; but as this proved mortal to some of them, and consequently detrimental to the views of the