Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland [...] (Author: Thomas Campbell)

Letter 2


After the state of population given in my last, you may, perhaps, be surprised to hear, that there are but twenty parishes in the city of Dublin; but consider how few there are in the city and liberties of Westminster; and that the inhabitants of the seventeen parishes without the walls of the city of London, outnumber those of the ninety-seven within, almost in the proportion of three to one. The number of parishes is no certain index of the number of people, either here or there. A very obvious reason presents itself, why churches should be comparatively few, where the majority of the people are Roman catholics, and near half the protestants are dissenters.


People are much divided about the proportion which protestants bear to papists in Dublin. According to some inaccurate returns, the number of houses belonging to each denomination is nearly equal; yet it is generally thought, that there are two papists for one protestant; most of the poorer sort, and all the servants, being of the former class; and among them chiefly it is, that so many families are crowded into one house.

Over and above the parish churches, are two cathedrals, Christ Church and St. Patrick's; both of them mean Gothic buildings. There is, indeed, more elegance in any one of the six churches in the little borough of Stamford, than in all the churches of this great city put together. For except in the front of three or four of their steeples, external embellishment has been little studied; all that seems to have been aimed at, was neatness and convenience within. But they are generally destitute of all monumental decorations; and, what may seem extraordinary, is very true, they have but one set of choiristers in the whole city; which serves in the


morning at one cathedral, and in the evening at the other.

In the cathedrals is to be seen, whatever of the monumental kind is worthy [of] observation. On the north side of the choir, in Christ Church, is a very superb monument, of the Kildare family, executed in white marble. The late Earl, afterwards Duke of Leinster, and his sister, are represented, mourning over the body of their father.

In the nave is a monument of lord Bowes, late high chancellor of Ireland. It represents Justice, large as life, in a pensive attitude, looking at a medallion, with his lordship's head in relief, which she holds in her hand, weeping over it. The thought is a good one, and well expressed.

Near to this is another, every way elegant, erected to the memory of the founder of the Dublin Society. Under his bust stand two boys, one pointing to a basso relievo of Industry and Agriculture, the other to a representation of Minerva, leading the arts towards Hibernia. Beneath, on a semicircular tablet, is the following inscription,


written by Berkeley, the famous bishop of Cloyne:

Memoriae Sacra
Viri siquis unquam alius de Patria
Optime meriti;
Qui, cum prodesse mallet quam conspici,
Nec in senatum cooptatus,
Nec consiliorum aulae particeps,
Nec ullo publico munere insignitus,
Rem tamen publicam
Mirifice auxit et ornavit
Auspiciis, consiliis, labore indefesso;
Vir innocuus, probus, pius;
Partium studiis minime addictus,
De re familiari parum solicitus,
Cum civium commoda unice spectaret,
Quicquid vel ad inopiae levamen,
Vel ad vitae elegantiam, facit,
Quicquid ad desidiam populi vincendam,
Aut ad bonas artes excitandas, pertinet,
Id omne pro virili excoluit.
Auctor, Institutor, Curator.
Quae fecerit
Pluribus dicere haud refert;


Quorsum narraret marmor
Illa quae omnes norunt?
Illa quae civium animis insculpta
Nulla dies delebit.

In St. Patrick's the monuments are more in number, but none of such curious workmanship; for, though executed by the same hand with the two last, I cannot admire those massy columns of Italian marble reared to the memory of the late archbishop of Dublin; brother to a doctor Smyth, who has been long at the head of your profession here. The epitaph, you may suppose, is very classical, when I tell you it was written by Dr. Lowth, bishop of Oxford.

Opposite to it is a plain monument of Dr. Marsh, a quondam archbishop of this see, who left a nobler memorial of himself than stone, a valuable library; which together with part of his estate, for the maintenance of a librarian, he bequeathed to the public. This library, which contains some curious manuscripts, and many rare books, is always open to the studious.

In the same nave are three inscriptional slabs of black marble, one to the memory


of a faithful servant of Swift; another lately erected to that of Mrs. Johnson, his Stella and the third over himself, with an epitaph very expressive of that habit of mind, which his own disappointments, and the oppressions of his country, had produced. It concludes with these words, ‘ubi saeva indignatio cor ulterius lacerare nequit.’

In the choir are several monuments of an older date; the principal is that of the family of Boyle. In the chapter room, is a black slab over the duke of Schomberg, who fell at the battle of the Boyne, with an inscription by Swift; concluding with a severe stricture upon his relations, who refused to raise any sepulchral monument to his name, ‘plus potuit fama virtutis apud alienos quam sanguinis proximitas apud suos.’

West of the town, stands the hospital of Kilmainham, answering to our Chelsea. In the building there is nothing remarkable, but the situation is charming, and affords a comfortable retreat for time-worn veterans. No wonder it was chosen for the seat of their priory, by the knights templars of St. John of Jerusalem.


As the winds on this coast are mostly westerly, they are but little annoyed by smoke from the city, or fogs from the sea; the air is so pure, that one would have thought it might have invited the gentry to extend the town this way, instead of intercepting the merchants from the sea. The hospital is said to furnish many instances of longevity; at present there are three men in it above 100, one of whom is 112.

On the opposite side of the river stands the Barrack, the largest building in the British dominions. It is capable of containing 3000 foot, and 1000 horse. The whole is of rough stone, ornamented with cornices, and window cases of cut stone. Some additions lately made, are not without sufficient elegance of architecture. Indeed the new houses of Dublin are exceedingly neat, and in general highly finished in the inside.

You may conceive what the style of building was here formerly, when I tell you, that the mansion-house of the Lord Mayor is a brick house of two stories, with five windows of but two panes breadth in each.


There are, however, some magnificent structures of modern date; the duke of Leinster's is a very august pile, not unworthy the premier peer of any country. By the way, the family of Kildare has been longer ennobled, than any other now in his Majesty's dominions.

Lord Charlemont's cannot be called a great house, but nothing can be more elegant, and the situation is most delightful; it stands upon a little eminence, exactly fronting Mosse's Hospital, and between them lie those beautiful gardens, where the genteel company walk in summer evenings, and have concerts of vocal and instrumental music thrice a week. His lordship is not only a patron of the arts, but also a great proficient in them; his house is of his own planning. And I have seen, at his beautiful gardens at Marino, near town, a temple of his design; of which a print has been lately struck off in London.

There are two or three houses more of hewn stone in Dublin, but those I have mentioned, are most worthy notice; and, upon reflection, it is amazing how few of that fort we have even in London.