'Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk'

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXII (4) start of chapter

Shortly after the destruction of the Charlestown Convent by fire, there was perpetrated perhaps the most daring as well as the most infamous swindle upon public credulity ever recorded in the history of fraud; namely, the 'Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk'—the result of a foul conspiracy, of which a dissolute preacher and his miserable tool were among the chief actors. Although that 'damnable invention' was exposed in all its naked vileness; though Maria Monk's mother made solemn oath that the abandoned preacher, her daughter's paramour, had, with another of the conspirators, unavailingly endeavoured to bribe her to support the imposture; though the sect to which the preacher belonged, and whom he had cheated in some money transactions, flung him off with public expressions of loathing; though the conspirators after-wards wrangled about their infamous spoils, and more than one of them admitted the falsehood of the whole story: though, in fact, it was proved that the 'Awful Disclosures' were a verbal copy of a Spanish or Portuguese work which had been translated half a century before;(31) though the monstrous lie was disproved in every form and manner in which a lie could be disproved—still the influence of that lie is felt to this very hour, not only in Canada and in the States, but in Europe. While in Canada, in the autumn of 1866, I read, to my profound astonishment, even more than to my disgust, an article in a Canadian paper said to have influence with a certain class, written in reference to education in convents, and in which article the literary lunatic described those institutions as 'sinks of iniquity.' I might have supposed—did I not know that Maria Monk died in the Tombs of New York, to which prison she had been committed for theft—that the conspiracy was still in full swing, and that the writer—to judge him in the most charitable manner—was one of its besotted dupes. We shall hereafter see how this atrocious book, sworn to by the unscrupulous and believed in by the prejudiced, has poisoned the minds of a generous but credulous people.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America