The following notice appears to have been intended by Dr.. KELLY to be preparatory to the publication of his Triglot Dictionary. It is considered worthy of a place here as an interesting introduction to his English and Manx Dictionary
To cultivate a language and to improve a people are similar offices. Under a conviction of this truth I have, with much labour, compiled a Dictionary of the Gaelic Language as it is spoken in Scotland, Ireland, and Man . The writers who have preceded me on this subject have endeavored to obtain the attention of the public by dwelling on the great antiquity of the Gaelic, by commending the vast energy of its phraseology, and by displaying the etymological purity of its words. On all these accounts it is highly worthy the attention of the scholar and the antiquary. But these are confined objects, embracing words and neglecting men. The enlarged minds of the primitive bishops, Wilson and Hildesley, " who loved the language and the people who spoke it," studied it with a higher view, to render it by publication instrumental in removing ignorance, communicating truth, and obtaining a knowledge of English. Their motives were religious and moral ; but the present state of the empire holds out to government and individuals another motive at this time not less imperious, that unity of language is the surest cement of civil as well as of religious establishments,
It has long been the policy of France to render her language universal, and she has acquired more influence by its becoming the court language of Europe than even by her arms in the field. Had a similar policy been extended by this country to Ireland ; had books been printed in Gaelic, and Gaelic schools established in those parts of Ireland where Gaelic is the vulgar tongue, the people would have acquired learning by using the English alphabet, they would have read English before they could read Irish, by reading Irish through an English medium, they would have understood English before they had learnt Irish, such a portion at least of English as would beyond a doubt have enabled them by reading and conversation to have diminished, if not altogether to have removed, the deplorable ignorance, poverty and bigotry under which they have so long laboured. Had the beneficed clergy likewise been qualified by a knowledge of the language spoken by their parishioners,had they been obliged to preach, had they been obliged to pray in Gaelic, many of the evils which have befallen Ireland might have been avoided, and those with which it is at presen t threat-cued most probably prevented. It is true that in process of time this cultivation of the Gaelic language will destroy the language itself, as a living language ; but it will have produced the knowledge of a better, and will descend to posterity by means of the press in a more perfect state, than if it should be found only in the conversation of unlettered individuals. There would be no more cause for regret, then, that it was not a living language, than there is at present, that the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin are no longer such.
By the publication of Gaelic books, and more particularly by the clergy being obliged to understand, and to use the Gaelic language, the Roman Catholic faith was entirely superseded in Man. Of thirty thousand inhabitants, there is not to be found one native who is a ioman Catholic, nor a single dissenter from the Established Church of England. The same wisdom exercised by the rulers of the Church of Scotland, has produced similar effects in the Highlands. By their clergy being obliged to use the Gaelic language in the Highland parishes, the national and political prejudices, which formerly existed so strongly there, are entirely removed, and the knowledge of the English language, in consequence of the publication of the Gaelic Scriptures and Gaelic books, is everywhere gaining ground . And when there shall be one national language, then only will the union of the empire be completely established.
To go at length into this argument is not the intention of this notice. If what has been here suggested shall obtain the means of printing and putting into circulation in Scotland, Ireland, and Man, a considerable number of the volumes of this Dictionary, much good will be done; and as that is my object, it will also be my reward
COPFORD, ESSEX, MARCH 21st, 1805.