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abilities with coldness and indifference, shews he has no regard for literature.
About this time a pamphlet appeared in Dublin entitled "An appeal to the Common Sense of all Christian People.” This being an artful defence of the Arian opinions, which the author insinuated were alone consistent with common sense, was written with so much cunning, and such a shew of candour, that it had a dangerous effect on many wellmeaning people. An answer was published to it in about half a year, consisting of above two hundred duodecimo pages, which was ascribed to Mr. Skelton. It is really a masterly performance, and exceeding in style and manner any of his former compositions, completely overturns, at least in my opinion, the author's objections, and proves the doctrine of the Trinity from the very texts he quotes against it. This piece is not contained in the five volumes of his works published in 1770. But as the appeal had sunk into obscurity, it was probably thought needless to republish the answer.
In the parish of Pettigo, about three miles from the little village, is Lough-Derg, so much famed over Europe for the holy exercises performed by the pious pilgrims that resort to it. From the 12th of May, till the latter end of August, the village is crowded with pilgrims, either going, or returning from that place; and the public houses of Pettigo get many a good sum from these spiritual visitants, who are sufficiently liberal in spending their money on whiskey. Mr. Skelton wrote a description of Lough-Derg, so remarkable for its surprising qualities, in a letter to the bishop of Clogher, which made its way into the newspapers without a name; but he afterward thought fit to claim it as his property, and publish it in his works. It is needless to be more particular about a place that has so often employed the pen of the curious.
A poor blind man, called Petty, who lost both his eyes by boxing, had a cabin just adjoining Lough-Derg, and usually got a halfpenny out of sixpence-halfpenny Irish given by every pilgrim, or stationer, for the boat which carried them over to the island. On a complaint made against him to the titular bishop and prior, his cabin was thrown down, and himself banished. When the bishop
came to Lough-Derg, Mr. Skelton invited him to dine with him, and got Petty restored, who continued there to the year 1786, when he died. A priest, who was also turned out, by his means got his place again. Such was his interest with the titular bishop.
In 1759, the bishop of Clogher, without any solicitation, removed him from Pettigo to Devenish, a living in the county of Fermanagh, near Enniskillen, worth about three hundred a year. Thus, by the kindness of the good bishop, he was brought once more into civilized society, after continuing ten years in that rugged part of Ireland, where his virtues and charities deserve to be long remembered.* When he was leaving Pettigo, he said to the poor, "Give me your blessing now before I go, and God's blessing be with you. When you are in great distress, come to me, and I'll strive to relieve you." He used to say, " I want nothing but as much as will keep a pair of horses and a servant."+
He was fond of a good horse, and generally had the best saddle horses that could be got, though he was remarkably awkward on horseback. For he turned out his toes, and took no hold with his knees, but balanced himself in the stirrups, like a man on slack-wire; so that when the horse began to trot, he jogged up and down like a taylor. A lady, who was riding along with him one day, near Pettigo, observed to him, that he, turned out his toes too much, "O yes," he said, "my education was inverted, for I was taught to ride by a dancing-master, and to dance by a riding-master." Horace himself informs us very candidly, that he rode awkwardly on his mule.
It has been mentioned, that old Mr. Leslie, his father, as he called him, who died while he had the living of Pettigo, recommended his grandchildren to him on his deathbed. He assured him he would be a father to them, and proved himself to be so, for, among his other virtues, he, possessed, in a high degree, gratitude and veracity. A lady once asked him, if he had as reported, kept the Rev. Alexander Leslie, a grandson of this clergyman, while a schoolboy, at Monaghan school? He acknowledged to her he had
*It must, however, be owned, in justice to the people of that country, that they seem at present very much improved in every particular.
+ Jonas Good, the famous man, already mentioned, quitted his service on obtaining a farm at Pettigo, in which his widow and children lived after his decease.
partly. When Mr. Leslie's sister was left a widow with a large family, he sent her 501.
Once he gave 301. as an apprentice fee with a young man who was no way connected with him except by being his godson.
As the living of Devenish lay near Enniskillen, he boarded and lodged in that town, with his physician and friend Dr. Scott; where he had an agreeable and rational society, which must have been doubly pleasing to him, after nine years exile in the desert wilds of Pettigo. The doctor and he used to sit up pretty late in the winter nights playing at piquet, of which he was very fond; but he seldom played higher than a farthing a game.
The whole living was then divided in two parts, placed at some miles distance from each other. The part that lay to the north of Lough-Ern was called Monea, that to the south of it Trory.* In the former was the parish church, and in the latter a chapel of ease. He usually preached in the chapel of ease, as it was only two miles distant from Enniskillen, and kept a curate, in the parish church. However, he frequently changed places with his curate, extending his care over the people in every part of his parish. In both churches there was a large congregation, as is the case over the whole county of Fermanagh, where the church of England men exceed the Presbyterians in the proportion of at least three to one. This is very unusual in the north of Ireland, where Presbyterians so much abound. In these churches Mr. Skelton had the sacrament administered once a month; a regulation which he thought fit to make on account of the number of hearers.
His endeavours to instruct his people both in public and private were as strenuous now as before. The children he catechised, as usual, in the proof-catechism, and lectured on these occasions. The grown up people he also examined in the church. At Trory he had a great many persons of quality, whom he examined as well as the rest, but he was greatly afraid they should miss any thing, for he wished to set them up as examples for the others to imitate. On this account he asked them always the easiest questions imaginable; yet they often did not hit on the
This part of the living is now made a perpetual cure.
right answers. When he was going to examine one of these he used to say to the rest of the people, "I only ask this gentleman a question to shew you I make no distinction, for I am sure he is very well acquainted with his duty." One day he asked a man of fortune in his church how many commandments there were? and he answered nine: on which it was observed, that he forgot the seventh, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," as he was apt to stray from his wife.
The situation of his parish, which adjoined Lough-Ern, made his attention to the morals of his people more requisite. In the Lough, it is well known, there are near four hundred little islands. These swarmed at that time with private stills, which, as being out of the reach of the revenuc officers, made the whiskey too plentiful, and in proportion the morals of the people were depraved. It therefore required all his attention to counteract the corrupt influence of the place. Government have now, I am told, appointed a barge with officers and men to seize on these private stills, which are so injurious to good morals.
In 1763, Mr. Skelton, with the rest of the established clergy, was forced to make his escape to Dublin from the Oak-boys, who were then persecuting the church; all his virtues not being able to protect him from those enemies to religion. He thought it prudent to take a circular way, that he might thus elude the search of the villains who pursued him; and stayed in Dublin till he could return to his parish with safety.
At that time, I think he found at the bishop of Clogher's, to whom he paid a visit, a grave clergyman, an author, who boasted to him that he had written a large English grammar with one pen; which he thought a great feat; and probably he had more merit in this, than in writing the book. He then said, that he lately intended to write a translation of Suetonius, but was puzzled in the very first sentence, and forced to desist. The literary world has reason to lament the loss!
While Mr. Skelton was in Dublin, the Oak-boys seized on Arthur Johnston Esq. of Enniskillen, a gentleman of a stiff temper, worth 500l. a year. They then ordered him to swear to be true to their cause, and so on; but he refused
obstinately; on which they put a rope about his neck, and were on the point of hanging him, when one Simpson, a supernumerary gauger, who afterward got a commission in the army, bursting in on them with a pistol, rescued him out of their hands. Skelton, on his return, met Mr. Johnston in the streets of Enniskillen, and putting his hand in his pocket, took out a shilling, and gave it to him, saying, "Here, take this; I gave a shilling to see a camel in Dublin, but an honest man is a greater wonder in the county of Fermanagh."
To a gentleman, who told him once he expected to represent that county in parliament, he said, “Aye, they are all a parcel of rascals, and a rascal is the fittest to represent them." These expressions of resentment proceeded from a temporary dislike, probably occasioned by his imagining them somewhat favourable to the Oak-boys. Yet if I could judge by my own little experience of them, I should give them a very different character.
A Mr. C. of the same county invited him to spend a fortnight at his house; but when he was there a day or two, his servant came and told him, he could get no oats for the horses. This he thought a hint to him, that his company could be dispensed with; so he prepared immediately. When he was just going away, Mr. C. said to him, "I am surprised you would leave me so soon, after promising to stay a fortnight with me."-" Sir," he replied, "you have fed myself, but you starved my horses.” He thus freely spoke his mind.
No hopes of private advantage could prevail on him to vary a tittle from the truth. Having a fine mare at Enniskillen, which happened once to fall under him, he resolved to part with her, and on a fair day in that town, sent her out with a servant to sell her, and soon followed himself, accompanied by Dr. Scott, who told me the anecdote. When any one who wished to buy her, asked him, "What sort of a mare is this?" he answered, "She is a very bad mare, she fell under me;" then he told all her faults, and many more imaginary ones. The people, of course, when he gave her so bad a character, went off without offering any thing. At last a Mr. Galbraith of Omagh, who came up to him, and heard the same bad account of her, said to him,