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The high spirit exhibited in this correspondence at a period of universal panic and despondency, is one of the most admirable traits in the character of our subject. His deep and undisguised sympathy with the unfortunate victims of rash counsels, is equally to his honor. Among his letters are congratulations to Mr. Dillon, of Balaghadeerin, on the escape of his brother, Mr. John B. Dillon, to America, and fervent thanks from Archdeacon McCarron for the kind interest he had taken in the case of Dr. Wm. McCarron, for some time a prisoner in Newgate for the same cause. The present writer, who sailed from Derry on the 1st of September of that year, has especial reason to remember Dr. Maginn's friendliness; for, although personally he did not appear, as he should not, in any of the arrangements for that escape, some of his kind and courageous clergy were the chief promoters of it. Forever cold must be the heart that dictates these lines, before it ceases to beat in grateful response to the names of Derry and Maginn!
DR. MAGINN'S FINAL VISITATION OF HIS DIOCESE-THE PROPOSED
PROVINCIAL SYNODS AND CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY-DR. MAGINA'S LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH-GENERAL SORROW EXPRESSED BY THE CATHOLIC BODY-HIS FUNERAL—HIS CHARACTER AND GENIUS -TRIBUTES TO HIS MEMORY AT HOME AND ABROAD.
The good news from Rome, in October, '48, of the renewed condemnation of the Queen's Colleges, compensated the patriot Prelates, to some extent, for the dismal social prospects of the country. · On the 10th of October, the annual meeting of the Bishops was held at Dublin, but nothing of importance, beyond the reception of the Rescripts, and a resolution implicitly to obey them, transpired. Drs. MacHale and O'Higgins had not yet arrived home, and Dr. Maginn was engaged in the annual visitation of his diocese. The party (if we may be pardoned the term) who had defeated the government, and secured for their course the cordial approbation of Rome, were represented by Drs. Cantwell and McNally. It appeared that the favorers of the government plan comprised two Archbishops and seven Bishops—one-third of the Hierarchy. One or two of the names created great astonishment among the oppugnants, as they had reason to believe that they were strongly on their, and against the other side.
The satisfaction of the successful appellants to Rome, may be imagined. They had countermined, for the time, at least, the approaches of British intrigue to the Vatican; they had overcome, and then incorporated, a formidable defection in their own Order; they had defeated an empire; they had rescued a nation. Dr. Maginn, on the 9th of November, writes to Dr. McNally:
“ I had not a word from you since the great victory gained over the enemies of our faith. I expected to have had a line of congratulation from you on the subject. You had, of course, a letter from the good Bishop of Ardagh, giving a detailed account of the episcopal correspondence.”
Dr. Cantwell writes to Dr. Maginn, a few days later:
“Never had Prelates a greater triumph or more powerful motives for congratulation, than have been afforded to us by the late Rescript. The immortal Pius IX. has, in its comprehensiveness and firmness of tone, surpassed even himself. It goes farther than we could have at all anticipated. It annihilates the power of England ever again to enslave our Church, and silences forever the treacherous whisperings of any feeble or false member of our body with the enemies of our faith and the murderers of our people. The best mode of marking our gratitude for this noble act of heroism is, as your Lordship says in your favor of the 19th, to carry into effect, without delay, the recommendations of His Holiness.”
To carry into effect the recommendations of the Pontiff, it was decided to hold Provincial Synods of the four Provinces, to which was subsequently added the idea of the National Synod, afterwards held at Thurles. The Archbishop of Cashel proposed, in a circular letter, that each Bishop should appoint one Priest, to meet as a Committee, collect information, and report on the details of the ceremonial to be observed and the business to be done. To this Dr. McNally, among others, objected its novelty and irregularity ; but Dr. Maginn, Dr. Cantwell, and the majority of their friends, gave their sanction. Out of the proposed National Synod was to spring a more uniform discipline—a more solemn observance of canonical regulations, and the great practical demonstration of Ireland's unshaken Orthodoxythe Catholic University.
In the preliminaries of all these grand and beneficent designs, Dr. Maginn took the liveliest interest, although laboring under the illness of which he soon afterwards died. We first hear of this in his letter last quoted, (November 9,):
“I am just after returning,” he writes, “ from the visitation, somewhat fatigued ; yet notwithstanding much exertion, very little the worse for it. I was very unwell at starting, but daily improved as I went along. I confirmed upwards of six thousand children. This, at any rate, is a satisfaction, even should this winter close their or our earthly career.”
These strangely prophetic words strike one with awe, when we remember, that within two months of their date, while the winter still raged along the wild northern
coast, the writer lay on his bed of death. On the 28th of November be writes from Buncrana, that he has been worse, and was unable to go to Derry “to lay the foundation stone of our new school-house." On the 13th of January, four days before his decease, he wrote to his old schoolfellow and life-long friend, the Bishop of Clogher, the following cheerful and affectionate letterthe last, we believe, he ever penned : DR. MAGINN TO DR. M'NALLY.
BUNCRANA, January 13, 1849. My Dear Good Lord,—I have just time to drop you a line before starting for Derry. I am happy to have to inform you that I am much better, and ready for a new campaign. I prepared about ten days ago to start for Clogher, to have the pleasure of seeing for a night and conversing with your Lordship, but was prevented from going from an attack of influenza, under which I may say I have since labored up till yesterday. I had a letter from Dr. Cantwell last night. He is most anxious about a Provincial Synod, but considers it better to put it off until after the arrival of Dr. Higgins. The Government are in advance of us, and considering our means, it will take us to move very rapidly, and at the same time very cautiously, to overtake them.
Dr. Cantwell requested me to sound the Primate on the subject of an immediate meeting, to put the intrusion on the necessity of having a uniform discipline during the approaching Lent, &c., &c.
I would much sooner that your Lordship could be induced to correspond with his Grace on the subject, as it would come better from you in every respect. The week after next, I will, if possible, be up to see you, and spend a couple of nights. I fondly hope that your health is good, and that your extraordinary labors throughout the summer have left it unimpaired.
I had, about ten days ago, a couple of letters from Rome. There was nothing important in them. Dr. Cullen was much afraid of the assassins, which shows the condition of the Eternal City, when even such innocence as Dr. Cullen's could not be safe from the asas