1733 Prose, 'J.S.', The North Country-Man's Description of Christ's-Church, Dublin

Author: ‘J.S.’

Date: 1733

Source: The North Country-Man’s Description of Christ’s-Church, Dublin, in a Letter to a Friend, by ‘J.S.’, Dublin Printed, re-Printed for J. Roberts, Warwick-Lane, London 1733.

Comments: ‘J.S.’ = Jonathan Swift? — see ‘Jonathan Swift: His early writings in Ulster-Scots?’ by Philip Robinson in Ullans, Nummer 3, 1995, pp. 37-48, where this item is also transcribed and reference is made to its early re-publication in the Philadelphia Gazette, December 13-20, 1733, and Virginia Gazette in 1736. [See also ‘An Early Letter in Ulster-Scots’ by Michael Montgomery in Ullans, Nummer 2, 1994, pp. 45-51]

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Prose/1700-1799/001

The North Country-Man’s Description of Christ’s-Church, Dublin, in a Letter to a Friend.

Portferry, May 6th 1731


I have herewith sent you a Description of Christ Church, given me by a Person in our Parts, who is not yet thoroughly reconciled to himself (for his great Brak and Transgression o’ the Lord’s Day) as he terms it. But as his going there was by meer Chance, not Design, he is the better reconciled to himself. The Fact is thus, viz.

A Ship from Portferry in the County of Down, came to an Anchor at Astons-Key, loaded with Corn, on a Saturday in the Evening: There were two of the Hands (being bred to the Fishery in these Parts) that never were in Dublin before that Time. On Sunday Morning they asked the Master, (he being somewhat indispos’d) Whar will we gang now in this great City and hear the Word o’ the Lord the Day? Lads, reply’d the Master, (pointing towards Angles-Street, Ge yer wa that Gate, when ye get till the Heed o’ the Street, yell see a great mickle brass Horse, we a brass Man upon the Top o’ him, leave him on yer Backs, and ge straight on; turn neither till the Right Hand, nor till the Left, till yell come till a great House in Skinner-Raw, whilk is ca’d the Toulsey; dinna turn there, but go on straight till ye come to a Yat, it is caw’d Newgate, whare a’ the Cadys are kept, ge thro’ that Yat, then turn upon yer right Hand, they caw that New-Raw, and then speer for Usher’s-Kee, and there yell hear a good Preeching. There is a Preeching-House by the Gate, nearer Hand, but for the very Sals o’ ye dinna gang in till it, for they are New-Light.

With these Directions they went; but coming to the Tholsel, the Lord Mayor was going to Church with his Attendants; and they being curious to see what could be the Meaning of such a Concourse of People, lost each other in the Croud; one of them went up High-Street, according to Direction; the other went with the Croud down Christ-Church-Lane, till he came to the Church. At his Entrance he ask’d a Person what Place it was? who told him it was Christ-Church; he ask’d again, Pray ye, Sir, now, might any one gang in tilt? Yes, Friend, reply’d the Man, come with me and I will take you in. Where he continued all the Time of the Service, the which when over, he hir’d a Boy to shew him the Way to Asten’s Key. When he came there, and being ask’d, where he had been? He stood for some Time silent, not being reconciled to himself for going to the Place he had been at. After some Time he spoke. — But I shall give it in his own Words, as near as I can recollect.

Whar I was I can ge ne Account of, but I can tell ye what I seed. When first I ged in, I ged doon a great Place that a’ the Floor was cover’d we bread Stens, and a Warld o’ Foke gaing up and doon thro’ yen another. We cam tell twa great Stairs, and ged under them, whar was a Door gaing in. This Place was amest foo o’ Foke; as weel aboon as whar I was, this they cad the Kirk. But as I shall answer, there was not a Pulpit in a’ the Place. Looking round me, the first Thing that I seed was a mickle man brass Bird, wee a Buke on the Back o’ him; at the leagh End o’ the Kirk there was a Table that was a’ railed round; there was twa Bukes upon that. On ilky Side there war twa great Brass Candlesticks, and Candles on them, (but they war ne lighted) amest as thick as my Arm. In the wa o’ the Side, there ware some ald cheels we Beards cut out o’ Sticks, as I thought; and there was a Cheel we a hantle o’ Kees in his Hand, running about letting the Folk into their Places. Belive came a Cheel we a black Goon upon the Back o’ him, a white siller Wan in his Hand, and a wee Bird on the top o’t. There followed him a great fat swinging Cheel we a white Sark on, and mere Cheels we white Sarks and lang Wiggs on the Heeds o’ them, and wee weans we white Sarks on them. A wheen ged intill the yea Side, and a wheen till the other. At last ye Cheel we a white Sark tuk up a Buke and readed, and, as I shall answer, they had Word about we him on the other Side, and a’ the Folk about me were glabbring among themselves; what they, said, only God and they ken. The whistle Pipes fell a lilting, the Cheels and Weans in white Sarks skirl’d and screed till them, and I sweeted. On ged they this gate for some Time; at last yen o’ the Cheels we a white Sark ged awa till the brass Bird, and opened the Buke. Now, as I live, what he readed there was the Scripture! He had ne shooner done, but the whistle Pipes fell a blawing, and they skirled till them. Then another Cheel tuke his Turn at the Buke; I am sure it was the Scripture that he readed. He was not long about that til’t they went again. Now I stood about the middle o’ the Kirk, and there was a Stick that I leen’d upon; the Cheel we a hantle o’ Keys in his Hand cam, and tuke it intill the middle o’ the Kirk; and laid a Buke upon it; then came the Cheel we the Siller Wan, and a Cheel we a white Sark follow’d him; he kneeled down upon it, and there he readed, but they had aways Words about we him aboon. He was ne lang at that, but up gets he, and awa till his Place.

They ged on for a wee while this Gate; then the whistle Pipes fell a lilting, and doon came that Cheel we the Siller Wan, (and a bissy Body was he that Day) the fat Cheel we a white Sark, and doon ged they to the leagh End o’ the Kirk, whar the Table and Candles war, and they bowed as they ged in. The fat Cheel tuke the Buke intill his Hands and readed; I cou’d understand weel enough what he readed, it was the Commandments, but, as I shall answer, the whistle Pipes lilted till every yen o’ them. He had soon done there; up comes he again and the Cheel we the Siller Wan; but the fat Cheel did not gang intill the Place whar he sat aboon, but ged intil a Place in the middle o’ the Kirk, whar I stood; I luk’d a we while at him, and then turning my sell about, — now, as I shall answer and wish to ge heme and see the Wife and Barens, there was a Pulpet within twa or three Yards o’ me; whar it came fre, God only kens; for I luked a boon, and ne Hole ava to let it doon. There came a Cheel intil it, we a black goon on the Back o’ him; he tuke a Text out o’ the Scriptures; I cou’d understand him, and in gud troth he tald his Tale gilly weell. Ne shunner had he doon, but twa Cheels we white Sarks, and a wee wean with a white Sark gat aboon whar the whistle Pipes war; the yen lilted, and the other skirled and screeded till them, and still I sweeted; I thought they never wad hea done. Luking about, the Pulpit was gene; how it came, or whar it ged, I cud na find out. Then, agen doon came the busy Cheel we the siller Wan, and a Cheel in a white Sark followed him, awa whar the Table was, and there he reeded a wee while; as soon as he had done the fat Cheel, wha was just at my Lug in the middle o’ the Kirk, gave us a’ his Blessing. The Folk came a’ out, and se did I. I got a wee Caddy for a Babee to shew me the Gate down here. And now I hope the Lord wull forgive me for spending the Sabbath so ill.

This, Sir, is what I had from himself, if you think fit to communicate it to the Publick, it is at your Service.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble Servant,


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