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THAT the Irish is the best preserved dialect of the ancient and extensive Celtic language, is allowed by the most liberal and enlightened antiquarians. To the general scholar, therefore, a knowledge of it is of great importance; as it will enable him to trace the origin of names and customs, which he would seek in vain in any other tongue. To the inhabitant of Ireland it is doubly interesting. In this language are preserved the venerable annals of our country, with as much fidelity, as is usually found in the primitive records of any nation; while the poetic and romantic compositions, with which the Irish manuscripts abound, afford the finest specimens,
cimens, of elegant taste and luxuriant imagination.
But it is, particularly, from the absolute necessity of understanding this language, in order to converse with the natives of a great part of Ireland, that the study of it is indispensible. If Irish be no longer the language of the court, or the senate, yet the pulpit and the bar require the use of it; and he that would communicate moral instruction, or investigate the claims of justice, must be versed in the native tongue, if he expects to be generally understood, or to succeed in his researches. In travelling, and the common occurrences of agriculture and rural traffic, a knowledge of Irish is also absolutely necessary.
It has been said indeed that the use of this language should be abolished, and the English prevail universally. But without entering into the merits of this position, while the Irish exists, and must exist for many years to come, it is surely reasonable and desirable, that every person should be able to hold converse with his countrymen;
countrymen; as well as to taste and admire the beauties of one of the most expressive, philosophically accurate, and polished languages that has ever existed.
Some works have been published, to guide the student of Celtic antiquities, in his curious and interesting researches, into the Irish tongue. General Vallancey, in particular, has acquired well merited fame, by his very ingenious treatises on this subject. Still, however, a grammar, by which the learner might be taught to compose, as well as to analyze, appeared to be wanted. That which is now offered to the public is an attempt to supply this deficiency. How far the author has succeeded, must be left to the determination of those who are qualified to judge. Of this, at least, he is conscious, that no pains have been spared, to render it as complete as possible; and that nothing has been, knowingly, passed over, that seemed of any importance. The syntax, in particular, on which most important subject former grammarians treated
very slightly, has been elucidated at very considerable length; and, it is hoped, in a rational and satisfactory manner.
The phrases and dialogues, in the second part, are calculated for general use; and the dryness of grammatical precepts will be relieved, by the simple and original specimens of native manners and superstitions, contained in the latter dialogues. It has been found, by experience, that many persons, who did not enter into the study of the ancient language, have been enabled, by learning such phrases and dialogues as these, to begin an intercourse with the natives, which continued practice has brought to facility and elegance of conversation.
It was, at first, intended to make the third part very copious, and a large quantity of matter was prepared for that pur pose. But the two first parts had swelled the book to a size so far beyond what was at first intended, that the third was neces sarily confined to a few specimens. Should these be favourably received, a conside