Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

priests, sufficient shelter is now provided. In these houses there are several confessionals, so contrived that the priest cannot see the person who disburdens his conscience. Each pilgrim on landing here, is confessed anew, and enjoined a longer or shorter station (so the performance of this penance is called)according to the quality of his sins, his leisure, or the judgmentofhis confessor. Hesubsists on oatmeal,sometimes made into bread, and on water, during his stay in the island, which lasts three, six, or nine days, as the station is more or less extended. Thus, bare at both ends, and half starved, his body pays for the tricks it hath played on his soul. The more delicate however are a little indulged in point of food and covering. This article of suffering is not a little aggravated by the sight of cold meat and wine, given by the priests to such protestant gentry as come hither out of curiosity.

To have a right idea of that part of the penance I am going to mention, your lordship must first he told, there are seven little heaps of rude stone, with each of them a cross at top, about five or six yards from one another; at a couple of yards distance from each is a circular row of the like stones, not above a yard in height drawn round the central heap, with a little gap or passage on one side. The pilgrim is obliged to foot it, without shoes or stockings, nine times round the outside of each row on a path consisting of very rough and sharp stones, and must by no means pick his steps, for this would hinder the emission of his sins at the soals of his feet, their proper outlet, and besides might divert his attention from the Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, whereof he is to mumble a certain number, letting fall a bead at each, as he circulates, for on th holy string depends the arithmetic of a devotion, which hath number, but no weight. These heaps and rows are, for what reason I know not, called, the beads of so many celebrated saints in the Roman calendar. When this is over, and the penitent's conscience and pocket, are called to a fresh account, for, every day, sometimes more than once a day, he confesses and pays sixpence, he is sent to traverse on his bare knees, and on stones as sharp as before, the shorter path within each row, and round the little heap, nine times repeating over and dropping beads, as at first.

VOL. y.

This done he continues kneeling before the central cross, repeating and dropping, till his account is out, at the end of which he kisses the cross, and his knees make holy-day. It is not, till all this is over, that he is admitted into purgatory; but to conceive a right idea of this penance, your lordship should be told what purgatory is. You have heard and read a great deal of this in various writers, and may possibly have seen what Matthew Paris says of it, on the subject of Lough Derg, through twelve folio pages. But though the Romanists are at liberty to romance on a place of their own contrivance, as they think fit, I must assure you, my lord, purgatory (for I saw it) is nothing more, than two parallel rows of pretty large stones, set upright at the distance of scarcely three feet, with others as large, laid over, and altogether forming a kind of narrow vault, of not more than four feet elevation, pervious here and there to the light, not of burning brimstone, but of the sun, for purgatory is rather above, than under ground. This vault is only so long as to hold twelve penitents at once, who sit close to one another in a row, with their chins almost touching their knees, without eating, drinking, or sleeping, for the space of twenty-four hours, repeating and dropping as above. To prevent, in this situation, the danger of a nap, each penitent is armed with a long pin, more poignant it seems, than conscience herself, to be suddenly inserted into the elbow of his next neighbour at the first approach of a nod. But not to depend wholly on either, the priest bath inserted into his mind an article of faith, more stimulating than even the pin, namely, that if any one penitent should fall asleep in purgatory, the devil thereby acquires a plenary right to the whole covey, having already swept away two, and having a prophecy in his favour, that he shall get a third. It is therefore a clear case, that holy as this place is, the devil is always hovering about it.

Nothing farther, at least so highly deserving remark, as the former very important particulars, occurs at present, unless it is, that they sometimes add an extraordinary exposure or two in cases uncommonly criminal, such as setting the delinquents to roost on the beams that go across the chapels, with their busts sticking through the broken places in the thatch; and here the women are often placed

as well as the men, while the congregation is beneath employed in prayer.

The sufferings hitherto mentioned do not carry off the whole mass of sins. Some are forced out through the feet, some through the knees, but the remainder is so softened and loosened, that a good wash is sufficient to scower them away. In order to this, the penitent is placed on a flat stone in the lake, where, standing in the water, up to his breast or chin, according to his stature, and repeating and dropping, to I know not what amount, he is reduced to the innocence of an infant just christened.-When all is over, the priest bores a gimlet hole through the pilgrim's staff, near the top, in which he fastens a cross peg, gives him as many holy pebbles out of the lake, as he cares to carry away, for amulets to be presented to his friends, and so dismisses him an object of veneration to all other Papists, not thus initiated, who no sooner see the pilgrim's cross in his hand, than they kneel down to ask his blessing.–They here shew a bass relief of Keeronagh, the devil's mother, rudely done on a coinstone of one of the chapels, a figure somewhat resembling that of a wolf, with a monstrous long tail and a forked tongue.-It seems this infernal princess, allured, we may believe, by the coolness of the element, took up her habitation in this lake in the third generation after Phin-Macool (when he lived every slender chronologer knows as well as I), and from thence sallying out every day, devoured great numbers of the inhabitants here and there throughout the neighbouring countries. But at length the poor people brought her to terms, not very untoward, considering who she was, namely, to abstain from her customary depredations, on the condition of having one annual victim chosen out by lot, placed on the top of a mountain about three miles from the lake, from whence, such was the force of her suction, she drew him into her mouth, and at one gulp swallowed him. Connon, the grandson of PhinMacool, that is, of the great Irish hero, voluntarily undertook to be the victim, was drawn in, and cut his way out at her broad-side. So great a quantity of blood followed him through the aperture, that the whole lake looked red, and was ever since sirnamed Derg. But as she had been accustomed to breakfast on burning brimstone, so great was

the heat of her maw, that his suit of armour was melted off, and all his hair and skin singed away, from which time he was always called Connon Muil, that is, Connon the bald or hairless.

One may see here also on a rude altar of stone the bones of a man, who had vowed the pilgrimage; but finding himself on the entrance of another to the next world, and not furnished with means of carrying his bones with him, ordered them to the place of designation in his vow, where they have continued doing penance for his soul, during a long succession of years.

Your lordship may perhaps look on the account of the devil's mother, &c. as a little legendary. However, it passes current enough with the generality of our devotees, and is nothing to a variety of particulars gravely detailed by Matthew Paris, in the body of his history, on the affidavit of a very pious pilgrim, who swore that, at Lough Derg, he had passed through the purgatory of the dead, seen innumerable souls in torment, was plunged into the mouth of hell, escaped, had a conference with two departed saints at the gate of paradise, and then returned into this world. All this, with a horrid list of particulars, continued an indisputable truth, from Matthew's time, down to the Reformation.

Whether this narrative should have been given in a tragic or comic style; or should excite tears or laughter, is wholly submitted to the state of spirits your lordship shall happen to be in when it shall arrive from

Your lordship’s
Most obliged, most obedient, &c.

VALLIS LONGIVADA ;*

SIVU

MEDITATIONES POETICÆ.

ALLUSIO.

10

Haud procul Ergaliis, quæ nunc cecidere ruinis,
Atque ubi cum gregibus pastores pascua carpunt,
Qualia caprinis nunquam tribuere Pelasgi,
Qualia nec poterant Itali præbere suillis,
Continui montes viridantia culmina tollunt,

5
Solis et antrorsum radiis Australibus ardent.
Hic celsos inter colles torrente revulsos,
Vallis hiulca patet, curvisque anfractibus ægrè
Pandit iter luci sinuosum, in viscera montis.
Torrens ille ruens convallem permeat imam,
Quem Phæbum versus de stagno despuit Arctos.
Hinc, illinc, pendet scopalus, vultuque verendo
Terret et oblectat pariter spectantis ocellos.
Extat in immensum hinc sublato vertice rupes,
Pronaque in adversum jam jam ruitura videtur :

15 Inde recessuræ similis, perterrita cautes, Pene supinata facie fugit illa retrorsum.

ulmina dum fremitu resonant prærupta minaci, Dum rabiosa cient insani prælia venti, Et sursum vires luctantia flamina tentant;

20 Alta quies infra est, et pacatissimus aer. Murmura vix imum penetrant moribunda recessum.

Gaudeat excelso, quem non deterruit, inde Præcipitem lapsu conspergere saxa cruore; · Anglice, Longford's Glen.

Juxta vicum non ita magnum, qui hodie Clogherensis nuncupatur, eivitas olim erat, nomine, Ergal, necnon palatium cujusdam Řeguli Ultoniensis, cujus posterioris vix extat memoria. Saxum autem, (Hibernice Člogh) in cæmeterio, antiquum sane, sed illiteratum, dat nomen nunc temporis vico, sedique Episcopali.

« ZurückWeiter »