John Wilson

CriticismCommentaryQuotations


Life
Prof. of Moral philosophy; occas. pseud. “Christopher North”; editor [or author] of Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader (1841), an evangelical story-collection which focuses on Gougane Barra, Ventry, Dunquin, and Blasket Island, where grateful converts to Protestantism are found to reward the scriptural missionaries and the tyranny of the priest is exposed.

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Works
Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader: Narratives of Facts
(London: James Nisbit and Co. Berners-street MDCCCXLI [1841]), 233pp. Available at Gutenberg Project [online; accessed 10.06.2010; see under Quotations [infra].

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Quotations
Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader: Narratives of Facts (1841) - Preface: ‘The manuscript of the following Tales was placed in my hands by the Author, with a request that I would peruse it and judge how far the publication of it in England might, under the blessing of God, be the means of increasing the attention of the Christian public to the importance of assisting the Irish Scripture Readers in their pious and arduous labours. The manuscript had been previously submitted by the Author to some personal friends in Ireland, who take a deep interest in forwarding the blessed work [A2] of Scriptural instruction in that country, and who well know the persecuation which the Scripture Readers have frequently to undergo, and also the blessing and encouragement that a merciful God vouchsages them in the prosecution of their labour; of the last of which I was a witness when I was in Ireland. Of the truth of the tales I have no doubt. The profits arising from the publication will be devoted to aid the cause which they advocated. / Joseph Wilson. Clapham Common. March, 1841.’ [Cont.]

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Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader: Narratives of Facts (1841), Introduction: ‘“Why were these things kept so long from us?” said a poor Irishman, when he had learned to read in his native tongue the glad tidings of Redeeming love. The question appears a simple one, yet many who are ranked among the wealthy, the powerful, or the talented of Erin’s children may find it difficult to answer. Nay, many who have been actively engaged in sending the blessed Gospel of their Lord and Saviour to distant lands—many who have rejoiced to hear that it has been translated into almost every known language, and preached to almost every nation under heaven—may lay the poor Irishman’s inquiry to heart and say, “Why have we so long kept it from our own?” Well does the pious and truly exalted individual to whom that poor man’s question was addressed, observe.’ pp.2.-3.)

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Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader: Narratives of Facts (1841) - Introduction [cont.]: ‘[…] Irishmen! by whom is the appeal made? Not by the New Zealander, the Hindoo, nor Afric’s sable children; but by your own, - the natives of the long-neglected land that gave you birth. They ask you for the Bible—the Word of the living God, of a redeeming Saviour, - in a language which they can understand. Will you not respond to the call, by enabling the Irish Society to give it to them, and rejoice, each according to his ability, to chase away the clouds that surround you? “Freely you have received;” freely cast into the treasury of your all-bountiful Lord. We cannot suppose that the Divine command, “Go, preach the Gospel to every creature,” should lose its influence at home. It is rather want of consideration than lack of Christian sympathy, that has deprived our poor people of that treasure which we have not hesitated in contributing, to bestow on regions that have never heard of Erin’s name. Oh! how would the natives of the torrid tone, or Greenland’s ice-bound shore, marvel were it said to them, “A people who have aided in sending the tidings of great joy to you, have in their own bosoms, natives of their own Island, hundreds of intelligent immortal beings, to whom the full and free salvation set forth by the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was never proclaimed in a language which they could comprehend.’ / It has indeed been said - “Teach the people English, and in that language open to them the Word of Life.” But what has been the result? Centuries of ignorance has stamped the project vain. […]’

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Inisfail or the Irish Scripture Reader: Narratives of Facts (1841) - cont. “The Mountain Village”: ‘At the foot of Brandon mountain, 'mid the wildest and most sublime scenery of the west of Kerry, in the parish of Dunquin, stands the solitary village of Ballynohow, whose poor inhabitants had for generations passed from time into eternity, as ignorant of the Saviour's all-atoning love as the beasts that perish. Dark as the clouds taht oft-times veiled the sun-beam's cheering ray, the lofty summit of Brandon Head, the dreary lengthened shadows of ignorance and superstition shed their baleful gloom over the naturally intelligent [p. 101; k3] minds of these poor children of the mountain. / Heathen in all but name, they bowed before the cross of wood, but knew not HIm who hung for them a willing victim there. Long, very long, had the Prince of the power of the air involved in the blackness of darkness, where he loves to preside, the poor neglected inhabitants of Dunquin. […] Who are these that come in lowly guise, like the first humble followers of their crucified Mastrer? In what language is their salutation expressed as they enter each solitary dwelling? What book is that which they so reverently open? and whose words are these that fix in speechless attention the rude uncultivated villagers? These men so poor, so peacefully traversing on foot the wilds of their native country, with all their sympathies alive to the wants and the prejudices of those they come to visit, are Irish readers; deputed by that Society upon whose faithful labours the blessing of God is being every day increasingly manifested. Their salutation is is, "Peace be with you!" exprssed [102] in that language dear to the Irish heart, and which ever calls the warm response of an hundred thousand welcomes!’ (pp.101-03.) [Source: Gutenberg Project, online; accessed 10.06.2010]. [Note that the locales are all authentic - even Ballynohow, since there is there is a Ballynohow Bay in Co. Kerry.]

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