I. D'Israeli, Esq.
Remembrance of much attention and
kindness received from him many years ago,
This little volume,
relative to a period with which his name
must be identified in English History,
most gratefully inscribed,
by his faithful friend,
and obliged humble servant,
The book from which the following account of Ireland, at a most interesting period of its melancholy history, has been translated, was published at Paris in 1657, a previous edition having appeared in 1653. The author, who was born in the early part of the seventeenth century, died in Persia about 1668, and his extensive travels through the various countries of Europe, and also in the East, together with his short sojourn in Ireland, render him above the suspicion of Irish partizanship. Although, like most Frenchmen, he seems to have felt the conviction of the superiority of his own nation, he was a citizen of the world; to him a chief of Ormuz and the Marquis of Ormond were indifferent, so were Bagdad and Bulgrudderythe Iran of the East and the Erin of the West. We have consequently received at his hands a faithful relation of his adventures in Ireland, and of his observations upon that
p.vicountry at a period generally misrepresented: and they therefore merit attention from all who appreciate the value of genuine contemporary narrative. I may add that the remark of a distinguished traveller and critic to me, after reading M. le Gouz's account of his tour in Ireland, was, that the writer seems to have been a very honest fellow.
It may be regretted that our traveller's stay in Ireland was so very short, scarcely exceeding two months (from May 15 to July 17, 1644,) but many larger books have been written upon visits of smaller duration, and he may have imbibed some party opinions had he remained longer. Of the sixty-three days which M. le Gouz passed in Ireland, three were employed in travelling from Dublin to Kilkenny, and two from Limerick to Cork; six days more were spent at Cashel, and eight at Cork, with his friend and companion Tom Neville. And of the thirty-one pages devoted by him to the account of his journey and observations upon national manners, &c. eight are consumed by his metaphysical contest with the friars at Cashel (which in the translation the reader will find, it is to be hoped, judiciously abridged,) while the account of Dublin is despatched in a single page. Nevertheless, the present publication, slender as is M. le Gouz's narrative,
p.viiand affording small opportunities for any literary superstructure, (similar to that of Mr. Croker's edition of Bassompiere's Embassy) unquestionably deserves notice from one singular circumstance connected with the observations upon it; namely, that any work respecting Ireland should be free from party spirit and religious rancour, especially one relative to a period which involves such remarks.
Of my three able and amiable associates in commenting on M. le Gouz's tour, two are Roman Catholics, and the notes and illustrations supplied by the gentlemen whose names appear on the title page, bear their respective initials. The notes marked T, are such comments from the original as were considered worth preserving.It is therefore with sincere pleasure that I feel myself called upon to submit to the English reader a work which must be esteemed a literary as well as a political curiosity; and I trust is the harbinger of more auspicious times.
Could the spirit of M. le Gouz, which appears to have been a benevolent one, behold the present little volume, it might be pleased at the knowledge that his impartial statement has been the means of combining in perfect harmony, observations upon the distracted country which he beheld, from men professing different creeds, and it might apply to itself
p.viiithe words of a poet of that land in which his bones repose:
- With pride I feel that I alone
Have joined these varied gems in one,
For they're a wreath of pearl, and I
The silken cord on which they lie.
The narrative opens, not inappropriately, by the vagaries of a drunken Irish captain. Horace recommends an author to enter at once in medias res a hint which our Gascon traveller seems to have adopted in describing men and matters in Ireland.