An Essay on the Antient and Modern State of Ireland by Brooke, Henry
An Essay On The
Ancient and Modern State
With the Various Important Advantages
under the auspicious Reign of His most sacred Majesty
King GEORGE the Second.
Including a particular Account
of the great and glorious
for R. Griffiths.
Dedication. Essay. The Farmer’s Case Of The Roman-Catholics Of _Ireland_. Footnotes
MATTHEW MC. NAMARA,
Of _LIMERICK_, Esq;
COUNSELLOR at LAW.
Justly sensible, Sir, how sincerely You have the Character and Esteem of our Native Country at Heart, I take Leave to offer to Your Perusal, and commend to Your favourable Acceptance, the following Sheets.
What gave them Rise, was my happening, some Time since, to have fallen into Company with two or three sprightly young Gentlemen, then just returned from their Continental Rambles,—who—altho’ little burthened with the Religion, Laws, Learning, Policy, Customs, Habits, Manners, or Languages of any, or the several Countries they had scampered thro’, affected, nevertheless, an high Contempt for this,—their Native.
I listened with silent Indignation, and determined to contribute my Mite towards giving such unattentive, uninformed Youths, a more adequate Idea of this Kingdom, under its ancient and under its present happy Establishment.
The common Accidents of Time must lead them by better Authority to clearer Knowledge: In the mean while, I profess my Obligations to them, as they have given me this Opportunity of declaring my Regard to my Country in general, and the particular Attachments that ever bind me, in the strictest Sense of Fidelity and Esteem, to a Friend so worthy as You have been to,
Sir, Your very obliged, and Most obedient Servant.
In a Nation, where almost every Gentleman is better acquainted, and more conversant, with the Nature and Circumstances of other Countries than those of his own, the Publication of such Hints as may somewhat contribute to remove so odd an Inattention, and induce those far better qualified to render a Subject so interesting some Justice, will not, I hope, be deemed an Impertinence; in one especially who, by this Essay, however feeble, hath nothing beside the Honour and Advantage of _Ireland_ in View, a Kingdom whereof he is, without Vanity, proud of being a Native.
As the Story of Savages and Barbarians can contain nothing instructive, or entertaining, the _Antemilesian_ Inhabitants of this Land having been mostly such, and all surviving Accounts of them almost totally overcast with Fable, we are therefore, in treating of the antient _Scotia_, or modern _Ireland_, to refer principally to three distinguished æras, whereof the _first_ is, its being peopled by an _Iberian_ or _Spanish_ Colony: The _second_, truly glorious, the Arrival of St. _Patrick_, in his most salutary Mission: The _third_ and last, its Cession to _Henry_ the Second, King of _England_, (the first of the Royal Race of _Plantagenet_) partly from a pretended Title of _Adrian_ the Fourth, Pope of _Rome_; partly from the restless and insatiable Desires of _Henry_; _more_ from the manifold Infirmities of the then reigning _Irish_ Chiefs—but above all, from the peculiarly adverse Fate of _Roderick_, the last of our Kings.
The assiduous, exact, and candid Author of the _Dissertations_,(1) lately published, on the Origin, Government, Letters, Sciences, Religion, Manners and Customs of the antient Inhabitants of this Country, hath put all those Matters in so clear and happy, and, at the same Time, in so strong a Light, by the Powers of various foreign Testimonies, of undeniable Authenticity, coincident with our own, that scarce any Thing new can be offered on the same Subject.
It may, however, in general be observed, that _Milesius_, a _Spanish_ Prince, so far back as the Reign of _Solomon_ (instigated by Necessity, or induced by Ambition) with a considerable Number of Associates and Followers, landed from the Western Parts of _Spain_, on the Southern Coasts of this Island, where it is probable they met little, or but faint Opposition, from wild and undisciplined Inhabitants.
Those People, from their early Knowledge of the _Phœnician_ Arts and Letters, imported such Rudiments of Government and Learning, as those primitive Times admitted; a Truth visible from the Similarity or rather Identity of the _Phœnician_ and _Scotic_ Alphabet.
This antient Colony quietly settled here, remote from the Storms and Revolutions of the greater World, and secured by Situation from its hostile Incursions, there is no Doubt but the Cultivation of Religion, Philosophy, Politicks, Poetry, and Musick, became the chief Objects of popular Study and Application: The Spirit of Ambition in succeeding Ages, with its unhappy concomitant Train of Sedition, Faction, and Violence, the foreign Invasions, and often the intestine Oppressions and Calamities, to which our neighbouring Nations were subject, calling forth the protective or conciliating Aids of those ancient Heroes, made them great Masters also in the Art military.
The Pentarchy originally formed by those _Iberian_ or _Celtic Spaniards_, with a popular Right of Election, was certainly a Kind of Government extremely consistent with the Essence and Genius of true Liberty, and a System derived from the Patriarchs themselves. For when the various Necessities of Society required a Subordination, together with some stated Maxims to go by, to avoid the confused and promiscuous Intercourse in a State of Nature; then did the People elect the most Virtuous and Wise, to lead and conduct them in Times of War and Trouble; to govern, inform, and protect them, in milder and more auspicious Seasons. Then was the Motto of the Crown, or of the chief Ensign of Pre-eminence, _Digniori detur_, and so continued till the Degeneracy of Time, and the baneful Growth of Avarice and Pride, with the feverish Lust of Power, perverted it to—_Rapiat Fortior_!
Such, thro’ a long Succession of Ages, was the Condition, and such at length the Fate of this Kingdom, destroyed after a longer Continuance than any other can boast, by the Abuse of its own Powers; a sure Argument that all created Beings, all sublunary Institutions, however wisely composed, in the very Essence of their Creation, and in the very Rudiments of their Formation, comprehend, at the same Time, the Seeds of Dissolution: Yet it is not more remarkable than true, that in the most boisterous Periods of this Kingdom’s antient Establishment, the Arts and Sciences, with the fundamental Principles of Constitution, were preserved and cherished with inviolable Assiduity. The Priests, Philosophers, Advocates, Annalists, Poets and Musicians, were obliged to preserve Religion, political Wisdom, Law, History, _&c._ hereditarily in their respective Tribes, and to educate in these different Branches the Chiefs and Nobles of the Land, for which they were graciously maintained in secure and splendid Tranquillity: Those Sages attended the National Conventions, where all publick Acts were religiously recorded, and all Abuses of Power and Government retrenched or reformed; nor were they permitted, except in Case of extraordinary Necessity, or uncommon Merit, to deviate from their proper and primitive Spheres of Action: Since, where an harmonious Subordination of Rank and Order hath not been duly preserved, even in free Estates, Liberty itself (wisely attempered, the greatest of all social Blessings) hath often, from Abuse and Neglect, sickened into Licentiousness, the immediate lewd Mother of Anarchy! In the visible Creation, the direct Result of infinite Wisdom, the lesser Planets do not interfere with, much less shock or oppose the Motions and Revolutions of the greater; they constantly keep the Distances first prescribed them, and all move regularly to their respective Ends. The most verdant and fragrant Meadows may, from the too frequent Irruption of muddy Waters, degenerate into noxious Marshes, if some Care was not taken to divert those impure Gushings into their proper Channels. Hence it may be inferred, that laying open the most honorary, as well as important and useful Professions of Society, to the Intrusion, or rather pyratical Invasions, of the Scum and Dregs of the People, cannot, however varnished over with the fictitious Colourings of pretended Liberty, consist with true Political Wisdom.
Those ancient _Sophi_ and _Literati_ enjoyed their Places with the greater Security, that they were uninvadable by the inferior Classes of Mankind; with the greater Content and Chearfulness, that much Esteem and Emolument were connected with them: The Priest and Advocate informed and directed the Conscience and Conduct; the Historian and Annalist recorded the Institutions; the Poet and Musician celebrated and sung the Exploits of their Kings and Leaders: No Wonder then this Kingdom should have been revered at Home, and admired Abroad; when Religion formed, Erudition nurtured, Philosophy strengthened, History preserved, Rhetorick adorned, Musick softened, and Poesy refined, the National Wisdom and Accomplishments; to all which was added, a thorough Knowledge of Tactics, and great Skill and Agility in all the athletick Arts, and bodily Exercises.
In the Versions of some original Codes exported by our Countryman, the learned and pious St. _Fiechry_, still extant in the _Navarre_ Library at _Paris_, the Constitutional Wisdom of _Ireland_ appears in a clear and happy Light: Persons, Things, Actions, and Expressions, were cautiously attended to, by the Laws; _Persons_, in their Minority, Youth, and Manhood, according to their different Ranks in the State, so as by Care, Education, and Discipline, to render them, some subservient, others useful, some beneficial, and others ornamental thereunto. _Things_, so carefully, as to prevent, by prohibatory Laws, Wastes of whatsoever Kind, and to ascertain to each Individual, as well as Society, their proper and distinct Rights. _Actions_, by directing those in general, and particular, to the Honour of the Deity and Welfare of the Community: _Expression_, by the penal Interdiction of prophane Cursing and Swearing, Obscenity, Scurrility, Calumny, and Detraction, yet with a full Indulgence of proper Satire against such as merited popular Reprehension, or Contempt; the Satirist’s Pen in those Days being as much dreaded, or rather more so, than the Magistrate’s Rod, and consequently as diligently avoided by a Demeanour absolutely irreproachable.
It appeareth that, under the antient Government of _Ireland_, the Education of the landed Gentry, when Luxury, with its wasteful Catalogue of Vices, had not rendered Property so mutable and wavering as in modern Ages, was provided for; whether by the immediate Care of Parents, or essential Attention of Guardians, by the Laws of the Land; in order that Gentlemen should, to the Antiquity of Birth and Possession, add the important Dignity of Learning, and social Refinement of Arts: Since a Man at the Head of an original Estate, who should want the necessary Cultivation of Letters, was considered only as a Peasant in Disguise, and not more respected than a Hewer of Wood, or Drawer of Water.
In these Writings of St. _Fiechry_, the legislative Wisdom of _Olam-Fodla_; the philosophically-religious Capacity of _Cormac-O Quin_, who, from the pure Light of Nature, in a great Measure defeated the absurd _Polytheism_ of the _Druids_; the consummate Integrity and Impartiality of _Federach_ the Just, and _Moran_ his Chief Justice; the Magnanimity of _Con-Ked-Cathagh_; the Conquests of _Kineth Mac Alpin_; the long, glorious, and peaceful Reign of _Conary_ the Great, _coæval_ with the Birth of our Blessed Lord and Saviour _Jesus Christ_, (undoubtedly the happiest, brightest, and most blissful Period the World ever saw;) are all displayed in a copious masterly Style, yet with strict chronological Exactness.
This learned St. _Fiechry_ was Founder of the University in _Paris_, in the Beginning of the 8th Century. The better to enable him to carry on that noble Work, he obtained of _Charles_ the Great a Tax on all Wheel-Carriages, within the Barriers of that City: Whence, a Hackney-Coach is at this Day technically term’d _Fiacre_.
_Charles_ the Great, in order to repair the cruel and truly lamentable literary Dilapidations of the ferocious North-men, invited Numbers of the learned and pious _Irish_ to the Continent, where he established and entertained them with Dignity, Tenderness, and Respect. In a curious Manuscript of _Nicholaus Gurtlerus_, (now in the _French_ King’s _Parisian_ Library) Author of the _Origines Mundi_, where he alludes to these Times, you find the following favourable, but true Account of _Ireland_.—_Temporibus illis, barbaris Normannorum Cohortibus undequaque irrumpentibus, Religio, Fides, Philosophia, Virtus, Hospitalitas, Fortitudo, Castitas, necnon et Amœniores omnium generum Artes, Hibernia solummodò natali, veluti Solo, viguerunt_; little Wonder that _Ireland_ should have been esteemed the _Ierne_, or sacred Isle of the _Greeks_, the _Insula Sanctorum_, or Island of Saints of the _Romans_.—Would to Heaven our Countrymen had, upon all considerable Occasions, recollected those deserved Encomiums, thereby to approve them worthy their applauded Origin, and native Soil!
We now proceed to consider _Ireland_ in her happiest and brightest View, after the Admission and Propagation of Christianity. It is certain there were many Christians in _Ireland_, before the Arrival of _Palladius_ in 431, or of St. _Patrick_ the Year following: St. _Kieran_, St. _Ailbe_, St. _Declan_, and St. _Ibar_, whom _Ussher_ calls the Precursors, or Forerunners of St. _Patrick_, are pregnant Proofs of this; they were of the Birth of _Ireland_, from whence they travelled to _Rome_, in Search of Education and Learning, where they lived some Years, were ordained, and returned Home about the Year 402.
It seems that those early Preachers confined their Labours to particular Places, in which they had considerable Success, but fell very short of converting the Body of the Nation: However, they sowed the Seed which St. _Patrick_ came after to water: And it is certain that St. _Patrick_ was so well satisfied with the Progress they made, in their particular Districts in _Munster_, that this was the last Province in _Ireland_ he thought proper to visit. That there were many Christians in _Ireland_, at this Period, seems to be confirmed by _Prosper_, who, in giving an Account of the Mission of _Palladius_, says, that he was ordained by Pope _Celestin_, and sent the first Bishop to the _Scots_ believing in Christ. This Passage can mean nothing else, but that _Palladius_, born in Britain, was sent to the Scots [i.e. the _Irish_] who had already formed Churches under _Kieran_, _Ailbe_, _Declan_ and _Ibar_; and so the Bishop of St. _Asaph_ expounds it. This then was the next Attempt that was made for the Conversion of the _Irish_: _Palladius_ engaged in a more ample and extensive Design than his Predecessors, yet he failed in the Execution of it, stay’d but a short Time in _Ireland_, and did little worth remembring; he converted, however, a few, and is said to have founded three Churches; but he had neither Courage to withstand the Fierceness of the heathen _Irish_, nor Abilities, for Want of the Language, proper for the Work.
_Nathi_, the Son of _Garcon_, an _Irish_ Prince, opposed his preaching; upon which _Palladius_ left the Kingdom, and died in the Land of the _Picts_, on the 15th of _December_, 431. This glorious Work was reserved for St. _Patrick_, to whose holy Life, divine Mission, and extraordinary Success, I refer the Reader. This great Apostle of the _Irish_ founded and built the Cathedral Church of _Ardmagh_, about the Year 444, or 45, which, from that early Period to this, hath continued the Metropolitan Church of all _Ireland_. So that 1194 Years passed away from the Founding of the City of _Rome_, to that of _Ardmagh_.
The various and most signal Blessings derived to this Nation, from the salutary Mission of this illustrious Saint, require, in Gratitude, our giving the Reader yet a further Account of the Author of such Happiness and Glory to _Ireland_.
He was born in the extreme Bounds of _Britain_, (in that Part thereof which is now comprehended within the Limits of the modern _Scotland_) at a Village called _Banaven_, in the Territory of _Tabernia_, (as he himself saith in his Confession) in _Vico Banaven Taberniæ_, &c. He tells us that he was born of a good Family. _Ingennuus fui secundum Carnem._ His Father was _Calphurnius_, a Deacon, who was the Son of _Potitus_, a Priest; from whence may be clearly inferred that the Clergy were not restrained from Matrimony in that Age. He was just advanced into his sixteenth Year, when he was taken Captive, the Manner of which is thus related by St. _Evin_ and others: His Father, Mother, Brother, and five Sisters, undertook a Voyage to _Aremorick Gaul_, (now called _Bass Bretagne_) to visit the Relations of his Mother _Couchessa_. It happened about this Time, that the seven Sons of _Factmude_, a _British_ Prince, were banished, and took to the Sea; that, making an Inroad into _Aremorick Gaul_, they took _Patrick_ and his Sister, _Lupita_, (some say _Tigrida_ also) Prisoners. They brought their Captives to the North of _Ireland_, and sold _Patrick_ to _Milcho Mac Huanan_, a Prince of _Dalaradia_: Others tell the Story in a different Manner, and with a stronger Degree of Probability. That the _Romans_ having deserted _Britain_, to preserve their own Country from the barbarous Incursions of the _Northern Hive_, the _Irish_ made frequent Conquests, in _North Britain_ especially, whence returning victorious, in one of those Expeditions among others brought _Patrick_ Captive. But in this they all agree, and he himself confirms it, that he continued Prisoner in _Ireland_ six Years; he was sold to _Milcho_ and his three Brothers, which gave Occasion of his changing his Name into _Cathraigh_, or rather _Ceathir-Tigh_, because he served four Masters; _Ceathir_ signifying four, and _Tigh_ a House or Family. _Milcho_ observing the Care and Diligence of his new Servant, bought out the Shares of his Brothers, and made him his own Property. He sent him to feed his Hogs on _Sliev-Mis_. And St. _Patrick_ himself tells us his Behaviour in this Office.
“My constant Business was to feed the Hogs. I was frequent in Prayer; the Love and Fear of God more and more inflamed my Heart; my Faith was enlarged, and my Spirit augmented, so that I said an hundred Prayers by Day, and almost as many by Night. I arose before Day to my Prayers, in the Snow, in the Frost, and in the Rain, and yet I received no Damage; nor was I affected with Slothfulness; for then the Spirit of God was warm within me.” It was here he perfected himself in the _Irish_ Language, the wonderful Providence of God visibly appearing in this Instance of his Captivity, that he should have the Opportunity in his tender Years of becoming well acquainted with the Language, Manners, and Dispositions of that People, to whom he was intended as a future Apostle. He continued six whole Years in Servitude, and in the seventh was released. There seems to have been a Law in _Ireland_ for this Purpose, agreeable to the Institution of _Moses_, that a Servant should be released the seventh Year.
Having parted from his Master, after a great Variety of Distresses, he at length arrived to his Parents, who received him with extraordinary Joy; with these he remained two Years, and probably would much longer, had he not by a Vision been quickened to a more active and glorious Life. In this he thought he saw a Man coming to him from _Ireland_, whose Name was _Victoricus_, with a great Number of Letters; that he gave him one of them to read, in the Beginning of which were contained these Words, _Vox-Hiberionacum_, the Voice of the _Irish_: While he was reading this Letter, he thought the same Moment, that he heard the Voice of the Inhabitants who lived near the Wood of _Foclut_, in the Barony of _Tyr-Awley_, and County of _Mayo_, hard by the Western Sea, crying to him with an audible and distinct Voice, “We intreat thee, holy Youth, to come and walk among us.” He was greatly amazed at this Vision, and awoke; it animated him, however, to his future Studies and heavenly Progress; so far even, that he tells us himself, he thanked God, that after many Years he had dealt with the _Irish_, according to their crying out.
These early Scenes of this great Saint’s Life, should, among many others, serve as lessons of Charity, Consideration, and Humility, to the Rich, the Great, the Proud, and the Wanton; who may recollect that, altho’ he was well born, he was nevertheless, in the most vigorous Season of Life, a Slave and a Swine-Herd: Happy, though wretched Servitude! In which, his leisure Hours, mostly employed in Christian Confidence and Prayer, made him so signally the Favourite of Heaven, that from those cloudy Dawnings, he in Process of Time became a learned Doctor, a sanctified Missioner, a venerable Prelate, an eminent Primate, a national Apostle, and the bright Instructor of Kings! Such were the fruitful Rewards of uninterrupted unshaken Devotion, Piety, and Zeal! From this Time he formed the steady Resolution of converting the _Irish_; and, the better to accomplish the heavenly Task, he undertook a laborious Journey to foreign Countries, to enrich his Mind with Learning and Experience.
He continued abroad thirty-five Years, pursuing his Studies under the Direction principally of his Mother’s Uncle, St. _Martin_, Bishop of _Tours_, who had ordained him Deacon; and after his Death, partly with St. _German_, Bishop of _Auxerre_, (who ordained him a Priest, and called his Name _Magonius_, which was the third Name he was known by,) partly among a Colony of _Hermits_ and _Monks_, in some Islands of the _Tuscan_ Sea; and he employed a good Part of the Time in the City of _Rome_, among the Canons Regular of the _Lateran_ Church: At length, having his Soul thoroughly tempered with religious Virtue, enlightened with the true Evangelical Faith, and his Understanding enlarged by the most profitable and edifying Studies, he arrived in _Ireland_ about the 60th Year of his Age; and in the Year of our Lord 432, landed in the County of _Wicklow_, where he began his Ministry, by the Conversion of _Sinel_, a great Man in that Country, the Grandson of _Finchad_, who ought to be remembered, as he was the first Fruits of St. _Patrick_’s Mission in _Ireland_; he was the 8th in lineal Descent from _Cormac_, King of _Leinster_, and came afterwards to be enumerated among the Saints of _Ireland_.
From this Country he sailed to an Island on the Coast of the County of _Dublin_, called after him _Inis Phadring_, and by the _English_, _Holm Patrick_ at this Day, where he and his faithful Companions rested after their Fatigues. From _Inis Phadring_, he sailed Northward to that Part of _Ulster_ called _Ulidia_, and put in at _Inbherslaying_ Bay. When he and his Fellow Labourers landed, _Dichu_, the Son of _Trichem_, Lord of the County, being informed that they were Pirates, came out with armed Men in order to kill them: But being struck with the venerable Appearance of St. _Patrick_, he gave him Audience, and listened attentively to the Word of Life preached by him; he changed his wicked Purpose, believed, and was baptized, and brought over all his Family to the Faith: It is further observed of him, that he was the first Person in _Ulster_, who embraced Christianity. He dedicated the Land whereon his Conversion was wrought to the Service of God, where a Church was erected, changed after to an eminent Monastery. He travelled hence by Land to _Clunebois_ in _Dalaradia_, to endeavour the Conversion of his old Master _Milcho_, whose Service he had left thirty-eight Years before; but this obstinate Prince, hearing of the great Success of St. _Patrick_’s preaching, and ashamed to be persuaded in his old Age, to forsake the Religion of his Ancestors, (by one especially who had been his Servant, in a most inferior Station,) made a funeral Pile of his House and Goods, and by the Instigation of the Enemy of Mankind, burned himself therein: Thus ended _Milcho McHuanan_.
Hence St. _Patrick_ returned to _Inis_, the Habitation of _Dichu_, and in his Journey converted great Numbers to the true Faith of _Christ_. In some time, he took his Leave of _Dichu_, and bent his course Southward by Sea, keeping the Coast on his Right-hand, and arrived at Port _Colbdi_, where he landed, and committed the Care of his Vessel to his Nephew _Luman_, desiring him to wait for him there forty Days, while he and his Disciples were travelling in the inner Parts of the Country to preach the Gospel. His Intention in this Journey was, to celebrate the Festival of _Easter_ in the Plains of _Bregia_, and to be in the Neighbourhood of the Great Triennial Convention at _Tarah_, which at this Season was held by King _Leogair_, and all his Tributary Princes, Nobles, _Druids_, _Annalists_, _and Fileas_. St. _Patrick_ wisely foreseeing that whatever Impressions he should make on this august Assembly must have an Influence on the whole Kingdom, and therefore, being supported with invincible Christian Fortitude, resolved not to be absent from a Place where his Presence was so conducive to the Ends of his Holy Ministry.
Never did the Spirit of popular Freedom exert itself more powerfully or harmoniously, than in those truly parliamentary Triennial Conventions of _Ireland_, where the supreme Monarch, the Provincial Kings, the feudatory Lords, the Nobles, landed Men, _Druids_, &c. by the unbiased Suffrages of the People, convened for the Peace, good Government and Security of each particular Province, as well as those of the whole Kingdom. Many Centuries had this wise Constitution subsisted here, before our Neighbours, even of _South Britain_, knew any thing relative to Houses, or Raiment; it being notorious that so late as the Arrival of _Julius Cæsar_ among them, they painted their Bodies, to render them terrible, and lived in the open Fields. It is really somewhat surprzing that People so near in Situation, should differ so essentially in Disposition, as the Inhabitants of those Islands have in all Ages; Hospitality having been the distinguishing Attribute of the _Irish_, and it’s opposite Defect, that of the _Britons_; the Account given of them by _Horace_ 1700 and odd Years ago, _Visam Britannes Hospitibus feros_, being as literally applicable to them at this Day, where the Force of Education doth not operate to mitigate their natural Ferocity.
But to return: St. _Patrick_ in his Way to _Tarah_, took up his Lodgings at the House of the hospitable _Sesgnen_ in _Meath_, who kindly received and welcomed him. St. _Patrick_ preach’d Christ and his Gospel to him; he believed, and was baptized with his whole Family.
From the House of _Sesgnen_, he moved Westward, and arrived on _Easter Eve_ at _Fierta-fir-feic_, on the Northern Banks of the River _Boyne_, where he rested, resolving there to prepare for the next Day’s Solemnity. It was penal for any Person at the Time of the Celebration of this solemn Convention at _Tarah_, to kindle a Fire in the Province, before the King’s Bonfire first appeared. I am of Opinion this was a religious Ceremony, as the chief Deity of the ancient Inhabitants, in exterior Worship especially, was _Bel_, or _Belus_; whence _Apollo_ or _Ap-haul_, the Son of the Sun, whom they emblematically worshipped, by those fiery Offerings; whence the first Day of _May_, peculiarly dedicated to this _Bel_, is even now in _Irish_, called _Lha-Bel-Thinih_, and probably from the same Source may be derived the Custom of lighting up Bonfires, and Sops, on the Eve of the 24th Day of _June_. St. _Patrick_ however, either not knowing or not minding this Ceremony, lighted up a Fire before his Booth, which altho’ eight Miles distant from _Tarah_, was very visible. It was seen with Astonishment from Court, and the _Druids_ informed the King, that if he did not immediately extinguish the Fire, he who kindled it, and his Successors, should for ever hold the Principality of _Ireland_; which hath hitherto turned out a true Prediction of those Heathen Priests, in a Primatial and Spiritual Principality.
The King dispatched Messengers to bring _Patrick_ before him, and gave his positive Orders, that nobody should presume to rise out of his Seat, or pay him the least Honour: But _Ere_, the Son of _Dego_, ventured to disobey this Command; he arose, and offered the Holy Father his Seat. St. _Patrick_ preached to him and converted him. He became a Person of eminent Sanctity, and after some Time was consecrated by St. _Patrick_, Bishop of _Slain_.
The Day following, when St. _Patrick_ and two of his Disciples appeared unexpectedly at Court, and preached to the King and his Nobles, _Dubtach_, the King’s Poet Laureat, payed Honour and Respect to the Saint, and was converted by his Preaching. _Fiech_, a young Poet, who was under the Tuition of _Dubtach_, was also converted, and afterwards made Bishop of _Sletty_, and is said to have been the Author of a celebrated Poem, composed in Praise of St. _Patrick_. _Anselm_, Arch-Bishop of _Canterbury_, relates the Conversion of _Tingar_, the Son of _Clito_, (one of the Nobles in this Assembly,) in the same Manner. The Queen also, and many others of the Court, became Christians; and altho’ the King held out for a long Time with great Obstinacy, yet at last he submitted to be baptized. St. _Patrick_ is said here to have wrought many Miracles: There could not truly, even according to the Purposes of human Wisdom, have happened a more solemn or weighty Occasion, for God Almighty’s supporting this Holy Preacher by Miracles, than when the collective Body of the whole Nation was assembled together; from whose Report and Conviction, the Influences of his blessed Works and Doctrine must of Course spread through the whole Kingdom.
His Conduct and Proceedings here, with a particular Detail of the Miracles wrought by him, may be had at large in the History of his Life, published by _John Colgan_.
From _Tarah_, the Saint proceeded next to _Talten_, not far from thence, at the Season of the Royal Diversions: Here he preached to _Cairbre_, and _Conall_, the two Brothers of King _Leogin_; the former received him with great Indignity, and perversely shut his Ears against his Doctrine; but _Conall_ believed, and was baptized, and gave St. _Patrick_ a Place to build a Church on.
This _Conall_ was Great-Grand-Father to _Columb-Kill_. He spent the Remainder of this Year in _Meath_ and _Louth_, and the Districts adjoining, preaching, and converting great Numbers of People. The _Taltenian_ Sports above-mentioned, have been much celebrated by the _Irish_ Historians, and Antiquaries. They were a kind of warlike Exercises, somewhat resembling the _Olympick_ Games, consisting of Racing, Tilts, Tournaments, Wrestling, Leaping, Vaulting, and all other manly and martial Exercises, which gave Rise to the many hyperbolical Tales, formerly related of those _Taltenian_ Sports. They were exhibited every Year at _Talten_, a Mountain in _Meath_, for fifteen Days before, and fifteen Days after the First of _August_. Their first Institution is ascribed to _Lughaid-lam-fadha_, the twelfth King of _Ireland_, who began his Reign _A. M._ 2764 (a sufficient Proof of _Ireland_’s Antiquity as a Kingdom). They were ordained by _Lughaid_, in Gratitude to the Memory of _Tailte_, the Daughter of _Magh-More_, (a Prince of some Part of _Spain_) who having been married to _Eochaid_, King of _Ireland_, took the same _Lughaid_ under her Protection, and had the Care of his Education in his Minority. From this Princess both the Sports, and the Place where they were celebrated, took their Names: From _Lughaid_, the First of _August_ was called _Lugnasa_, or the Memory of _Lughaid_, _Nasa_ signifying Memory, in the _Irish_ Language.
In the Year of the World 2700, _Gideon_ then reigning fourth Judge of the _Hebrews_, appear’d many Heroes, as _Hercules_, _Orpheus_, _Castor_, _Pollux_, the _Argonauts_, _Jason_, _Laomedon_, _Thesæus_, _Dedalus_, &c. The _Amazones_, Heroines of _Scythic_ Extraction, having lost their Husbands in Battle, took up Arms themselves, with a manly Spirit of Resentment, and (inspired with Love of their deceased Husbands, and Grief for so great and irretrievable a Loss!) subdued _Asia_, and built _Ephesus_. _Hercules_ and _Thesæus_ waged War against those Heroines, and defeated them, more to the Glory of the Vanquished than their own, those Matrons having defended themselves with surprizing Resolution. They cut off the Guards set over them, and escaped the Severity and Pride of their Conquerors. _Hercules_, in Honour of such extraordinary heroick Females, instituted the _Olympick_ Games; as likewise did _Thesæus_, the _Isthmian_, in the Year of the World, about 2700, the _Taltenian_ Sports, the very same with the _Olympick_, brought sixty-four Years after from _Spain_ into _Ireland_, by _Tailte_, and her Followers. Now this _Tailte_, Queen of _Ireland_, was the Grand-daughter of an _Amazone_ Princess, those immortal Females having, with their Progeny, Friends and Followers, to avoid the ruinous Hostilities of _Hercules_ and _Thesæus_, sought Shelter in _Spain_, whither they imported the Learning of _Trismegistus_, the Grandson of _Mercury_, and Glory of _Ægypt_, together with all the literary Arts derived into _Greece_, from _Phœnicia_, by _Cadmus_, the Brother of _Europa_, about the Year of the World 2530, _Othoniel_ then reigning the first Judge of the _Hebrews_. The Posterity of this ancient and illustrious Colony, about the Year of the World 3000, (_Solomon_ then reigning with great Splendour, third King of the _Hebrews_) settled in this Kingdom, as before observed: So that, by an impartial Estimate of Dates, Periods, and Facts, our Origin is well ascertained, our early Possession of Letters, wise Policy, and the politer Arts, proved, and the Remark of an _Italian_ Monk in the 7th Century, from the University of _Mongret_, in an Epistle to his Correspondent at _Rome_, justified, _Nil mirum Populum hunc Celtico Scythicum è præclarâ Amazonidum stirpê oriundum, verâ Religionê et __ incorruptâ Fide illuminatum, sapientia Doctrina optimisque Morbidus ornatum, viros fortes et Fæminas castas plerumque procreare_. A Rescript of this Original Epistle still extant, in the _Vatican_ Library, some Years ago in the Hands of Father Don _Levy_, may therefore, I believe, be found in the College of _Lombard_ at _Paris_.
In this shining Period were Cathedrals and Churches erected, Universities founded and established, Colleges, Seminaries and Schools propagated in many Parts of this Kingdom, which, at the same Time, became a peaceful and hospitable Retreat to religious and learned Men, disturbed on the Continent of _Europe_, by the frequent Invasions, and cruel Hostilities of the North-men, whose Piracies and Barbarity, even _Ireland_ could not always escape! For, from the Time of _Artigrius_, Archbishop of _Ardmagh_ in 822, for near 200 Years the cruel _Danes_ miserably ravaged this Kingdom, destroying, by Fire and Sword, every Establishment, as well of Piety as Learning, (to both which, and to all religious Maxims of civilized Society, they had been avowed implacable Enemies) till they were themselves, in 1014, totally defeated at _Clontarf_, by the invincible Arms of the Great Monarch, _Bryan Borou_, from whom descended a Race conspicuous for exemplary Prelates, heroick Leaders, and steady Patriots.
The learned Author of the _Dissertations_ before-mentioned, charges this Hero with a Violation of the Constitution of his Country: Yet the Violation seems of far earlier Date, when the supreme Monarchy was, by the _Hugonian_ Law, inalienably united to one Family, whose Sovereignty, however founded originally, whether by Birth, or Election, was essential to the public Welfare: For we must allow that the Preservation of the People is the principal Law to which all others are subordinate. _Salus Populi suprema Lex_; and equally, that not only the Necessities, but the Safety also of the People, at that Time of Danger and Distraction, eagerly called forth the Conduct and Valour, the protective and restorative Abilities of that great and virtuous Man, of whom a faithful Historian, in his Detail of the Battle of _Clontarf_, says; _Integrâ prius adept a Victoriâ rebus humanis eodem Diê excessit vir Bellô ac Pacê summus, Justitiæ, Religionis, Literarum, Cultor eximius, et cum Carolo Magno utique comparandus_.
In the 239th Page of the _Dissertations_, the excellent Author expresseth himself as follows:
“I now proceed to give some Account of the second Royal House of _Scots_, the oldest of the _Milesian_ Race, and the Posterity of _Eber_.” This Race then being avowed the oldest, in Respect of Primogeniture, must, of Course, have been prior in Point of Dignity and Sway, or at least, equally entitled to the Election of the People to such Ranks; were not those by violent Measures annexed to the _Heremonian_ Line: Yet, however this might have been, certain it is, that no Houses that we read of, ancient or modern, have produced a greater Number of truly heroick Princes, or of longer Continuance, than those of the North and South _Hy-Nial_; from whom also issued many noble Families of real Worth, and equal Renown. With _Bryan_, the happy Genius of _Ireland_, in a great Measure, expired: For the cruel _Danes_ had, for near 200 Years before, so wofully overturned the Universities of _Ardmagh_, _Dondaleith-Glass_, _Mongret_, and _Lismore_, with all other Seminaries of Piety and Learning, (the only genuine Sources of national Greatness, Concord, good Discipline, and Happiness) had obliged, in the 8th Century, so many learned Men to seek that Shelter and Security on the Continent, which the barbarous Hostilities, and impious Manners of those Northerns, denied them at Home; had made such frequent lamentable Breaches in the antient, wise Constitution of the Kingdom; had, by the fatal Example of their profligate dissolute Lives, so vitiated the national Morality; and finally, had left behind them so many noxious Seeds of Faction and Anarchy, as, in less than two Centuries, gave up a Kingdom, of above 2000 Years Establishment, the unaccountable Prey of a few adventurous _Normans_!
_Patrick_ governed the See of _Dublin_ about ten Years, and, in a Voyage to _England_, perished by Shipwreck, in the _British_ Sea, on the 16th of _October_, 1084; having been sent to _Lanfranc_, Archbishop of _Canterbury_, by King _Tirdelvac_.
_Donat_, or _Dongus O’Haingly_, having spent some Time in the Study of useful Learning in _Ireland_, went over into _England_, and became a Benedictine Monk at _Canterbury_. He was afterwards, (by the Consent of King _Tirdelvac_, and the Clergy of _Dublin_) consecrated, _A. D._ 1085, in the Cathedral of _Canterbury_, by the before-mentioned _Lanfranc_, to whom he made the following Profession of Obedience:
“I, _Donat_, Bishop of the See of _Dublin_ in _Ireland_, do promise Canonical Obedience to you, _O’ Lanfranc_, Archbishop of the holy Church of _Canterbury_, and to your Successors.”
It is evident that the Title of the Kings of _England_ to this Kingdom, by Papal Donation, or Appointment, was very insufficient, if not absolutely trifling: Nor could a Right of Conquest be urged in any Period of the Reign of _Henry_ the Second, or his Descendants. But the Great and Royal Families of _Ireland_, long the Prey of Faction, deliberately preferred a limitted and stipulated Submission to foreign Authority, to the various Evils arising from intestine Feuds and Animosities; and this, had the wise Conditions thereof been constantly attended to, with mutual Observance, had been a sound Title, well and judiciously founded.
True it is, that after the Surrender of the Crown by King _John_ to the See of _Rome_, the Pope exerted some temporal Authority in this Kingdom, instanced in his having created _Mc. Con More Mc. Namaras_(2) Duke of _Klan Cullane_, a Man of great Valour and Piety, supported by ample Possessions in the Baronies of _Tulla_ and _Bunratty_, in the County of _Clare_; which extensive Districts entirely belonged to that ancient, hospitable, martial, and religious Race, of which _Mc. Con More_ was Chief: The _Mc. Namaras_, more or less, have in all Ages made, and still continue to make, a distinguished Figure, as well in the Field, as in the learned Professions; and were formerly so warlike a People, that of themselves they formed an heroic Cavalry, justly stiled the _Phalanx_ of that Part of _Ireland_ wherein they resided.
How our Neighbours came to call us _waild Ayrish_, I am a Loss to conjecture; it being evident we have been a thousand Years, at least, in Possession of Letters, Laws, and Civility, before the Arrival of _Julius Cæsar_ in _Britain_.
I am equally at a Loss to know why a Man should become a standing Jest for his Ignorance in an alien Tongue, almost the constant Fate of our Countrymen in _Britain_, where, whoever is not smartly expert in the _English_ Language, is immediately denominated a _Teague_, a _Paddy_, or I know not what, in the Stile of Derision: At the same Time that the most awkward-tongued _Irishman_ in _London_ speaks _English_ with far more Propriety, and a better Accent, than the smartest _British Petit Maitre_ in _Paris_ doth _French_.
Some dramatick Scriblers, (probably of our own degenerate Growth) the better to qualify them for eleemosinary Dinners, gave Rise to this impertinent Treatment of a Nation, which, from the concurrent Testimonies of all the Dispassionate and Learned, can, in Reality, be as little the Object of Scurrility, as any other.
Why should even poor _Teague_ prove so constant a Butt, to Farce-wrights, and Hackney Laughers; when, upon Examination, he is, by a thousand Degrees, preferable to the _British_ Hobbinol, or _French_ Gregoire? For _Teague_ is a very Pattern of Hospitality; so much so, that if a Gentleman should happen to miss his Road, and be nessitated to seek the Shelter of _Teague_’s Cabbin, or Hut, was poor _Teague_ trusting to two Sheep for his worldly Subsistance, he would kill one, and sell the other, at the next Village or Inn, for the better Entertainment of his Guest, and think himself happy in such an Occasion of approving his Generosity and Respect: He would the next Morning abandon his Spade, and chearfully trot ten Miles to shew such bewilder’d Gentleman the right Road. He is naturally civil, generous, and hospitable, (for scarce a Night passeth that poor Travellers are not entertained in his Cottage,) extremely respectful to his Superiors, and to his Lord and Master faithful to Death. The military Annals of _Europe_ proclaim his Capacity and Taste for Fighting; then if you should take this identical _Teague_’s infant Son, and give him a regular liberal Education, it is one hundred to one, but he turns out a Gentleman of Merit, Learning, Worth, and Politeness; whereas it would certainly require more than _Herculean_ Labour to chissel a _French Paisan_, a primitive _Westmoreland_, or _Devonshire_ Boor, not only into the Form of an elegant, but even into that of a sociable Creature.
The Insignificancy of those Jesters and Spatterers, will more clearly appear, if we look back to the wise, free, and truly parliamentary Constitution of this Kingdom; if we recollect the vast Length of its Duration, as a free and independant State; the military Prowess of its Inhabitants in all Ages; their victorious Conflicts with the _Romans_, and with the _French_ under _Henry_ the Vth, and the Black _Prince_; their having founded a Monarchy in _North Britain_, whence, by a Right of Descent, in Addition to every other, his present Majesty, (whom God long preserve,) by the special Providence and infinite Mercy of Heaven, ruleth over us: If we consider the Number of our Universities, Colleges, and Academies, religious Monasteries and pious Seminaries, resorted to from all civilized Parts of _Europe_, our Metropolitical and Diocesan Cathedrals; on such impartial Review, surely, the foregoing Tribe of Sneerers and Flouters must dwindle into deserved Contempt.
I shall close this feeble Attempt on the antient State of _Ireland_, with the Description thereof by _Donat_, Bishop of _Fesulæ_, near _Florence_, in the 7th or 8th Century; referring, at the same Time, to the most authentick _British_ Antiquaries, _Campden_, _Giraldus Cambrensis_, _Buchanan_, _Ware_, &c. for Confirmation of what hath been previously observed on the same Subject.
_Finibus Occiduis describitur optima Tellus,_ _Nomine et Antiquis __SCOTIA__ scripta Libris——_ _Insula dives Opum, Gemmarum, Vestis et Auri,_ _Commoda Corporibus, Aere sole Solo;_ _Melle fluit pulchris et lacteis __SCOTIA__ Campis_ _Vestibus atque Armis, frugibus, arte viris._ _Ursorum Rabies, nulla est ibi; sæva Leonum_ _Semina, nec unquam __SCOTICA__ Terra tulit_ _Nulla Venena nocent, nec Serpens serpit in Herbâ,_ _Nec conquesta canit Garula Rana Lacu;_ _In qua __SCOTORUM__ Gentes habitare merentur_ _Inclita Gens Hominum Milite, Pace, Fide._
Thus Englished by the Ingenius and Reverend Mr. _Dunkin_:
“Far Westward, lies an Isle of antient Fame, By Nature bless’d, and SCOTIA is her Name; Enroll’d in Books: Exhaustless is her Store Of veiny Silver, and of Golden Ore: Her fruitful Soil for ever teams with Wealth, With Gems her Waters, and her Air with Health: Her verdant Fields with Milk and Honey flow; Her woolly Fleeces vie with Virgin Snow: Her waving Furrows float with bearded Corn, And Arms and Arts her envy’d Sons adorn. No savage Bear, with lawless Fury, roves; No rav’nous Lion, thro’ her peaceful Groves; No Poison there infects; no scaly Snake Creeps thro’ the Grass, nor Frog annoys the Lake: An Island worthy of its pious Race, In War triumphant, and unmatch’d in Peace.”
This _Donat_, Bishop of _Fesula_, was an _Irishman_, of the antient and hospitable Family, afterwards _O Hogan_; a Family which held ample and fair Possessions in the Province of _Munster_, and which, in former Times, adorned the See of _Killaloe_, with four very learned and exemplary Prelates; namely, with _Matthew O Hogan_, who succeeded to this Bishoprick, in the Reign of _Henry_ the IIId, and in the Year of our Lord 1267; and who, having much enlarged his Diocese, and done many signal Acts of popular Charity, died in the Year, 1281, and was buried in _Limerick_, in a Convent of _Dominican_ Friars. To this Bishop succeeded _Maurice O Hogan_, who governed this See with peculiar Zeal and Charity, upwards of sixteen Years, and died in 1298, or the Year following, and was buried in his own Church. _Thomas O Hogan_, Canon of _Killaloe_, was consecrated in 1343, and died on the 30th of _October_, 1354; five Days after which, he was buried among his worthy Ancestors at _Nenagh_; as may be seen in the Annals of that Place.
_Richard O Hogan_ succeeded to the See of _Killaloe_, in 1525, and was in 1539 translated to _Clon Mac Nois_: He was a Prelate of great Learning and Capacity, in all spiritual and ecclesiastical Matters.
This antient Family is, at this Time, represented by _Edmund O Hogan_, Esq; High Sheriff of the County of _Clare_, a Gentleman, who, by the whole Tenor of his Life, hath proved Generosity of Heart, Charity, and Hospitality, to be Qualities inherent.
_Dermod Mac Murchad_, sovereign Prince of _Hy-Kinsellagh_, banished by _Roderick O Connor_, King of _Ireland_, for his various and high State Crimes, sought Sanctuary and Redress in the Court of _England_; where, in the Absence of _Henry_, then in _Normandy_, diverse adventurous _Normans_, _Flemings_, _Saxons_, and old _Britons_, (being themselves unsettled, and unestablished) acceded to the Fate and Fortunes of _Dermod_, under the Conduct of _Strongbow_, Earl of _Pembroke_; whose casual Success in _Ireland_, against _Roderick_ (owing _more_ to the general Defection, at that fatal Period, of the _Irish_ Chiefs against their lawful Sovereign, than to any _superior Valour_ or Address of those Adventurers) induced _Henry_ to a deliberate and grand Invasion of a Kingdom, to which he could lay no Claim on the Score of Nature, Reason, or Right, and whither his pretended Mission, on the Score of collecting St. _Peter_’s Dues, (which St. _Peter_ himself never once thought of, or imagined) was as _ridiculous_ as _groundless_. The _Summa Dies_, however, arrived: and the People of _Ireland_, wearied out with intestine Strife, acknowledged _Henry_ for their Sovereign Lord; and a grand Charter of Rights and Covenants, mutual Protection and Allegiance, was entered into, anteriorly to that of _England_. How well this Charter was _observed_ on the _protective_ Side, the absolute Anarchy of near four Centuries, from its original Date and Perfection, to the Reign of Queen _Elizabeth_, demonstrates: A whole Nation, that sought Protection, and that _agreed_ for quiet, regular, and lawful Government, upon rationable Terms, deprived of the Power of ordaining Laws for its own Security and Well-being, and precluded (all to four or five great and favourite Families) from the Benefits and Advantages accruing from those of that Kingdom, to which it had voluntarily united itself; exposed, through such a Length of Time, to arbitary Depredations, and unpunished, unredressed, uncensured Rapine, _Quis talia sando temperet a Lachrymis_!
King _Henry_ called back into _England_, to lay the Storms raised by his rebellious Sons, with whom and _Thomas Becket_, Archbishop of _Canterbury_, he was so constantly embroiled to the End of his Life, that he could little attend to the Settlement of the Affairs of this new acquired Sovereignty.
_Richard_ the First, his immediate Successor, called away to the Holy Wars against the _Saracens_, had as little Leisure as his Predecessor to promote the Quiet, or Happiness of _Ireland_.
From the usurped Authority of King _John_, a continued Series of Papal Animosity, Bloodshed, Calamities and Piracies, closed at last by Poison; little beside political Disasters of all Sorts, could be expected.
_Henry_ the Third, through a Reign of Fifty-six Years, was continually involved in Troubles and Hostilities, with his inflexible _English_ Barons.
_Edward_ the First, a great and warlike Prince, was, throughout his whole Reign, engaged in the Reduction of the _Welch_ and _Scots_, and so intent thereon, that he could turn his Thoughts to no other Object.
_Edward_ the Second, indeed, sent _Gaveston_ hither, more to screen him from the implacable Resentments of the stubborn _English_ Nobility, than to render any good Offices to the Inhabitants of this Country; who, indiscriminately, (_Strongbownians_ as well as _Irish_) felt the Severity of that insolent Favourite’s Measures.
_Richard_ the Second visited this Kingdom in Person, with the good Intentions of establishing Peace, Order, and Harmony, in a valuable but long neglected Estate: Yet his own adverse Fate, conspiring with that of this Land, called him back, before he could carry his favourable Resolutions into Execution, to defend his _English_ Dominions from the hostile Attacks of _Henry_, Earl of _Hereford_, who, with the Duke of _Norfolk_, Son to _John_ of _Gaunt_, had some Years before been banished by _Richard_, to prevent a personal Combat: This King, worthy more propitious Stars, long agitated and afflicted by the Turbulence and irreconcilable Obstinacy of his _British_ Subjects, perished at last under the impious Hands of Sir _Pierce_ of _Exton_, who, at the Head of eight barbarous armed Assassins, rushed into his Chamber, and murdered him.
The Reign of _Henry_ the Fourth was short, tumultuous, and bloody; Deluges of noble Blood having been shed by the bare Hands of the common Executioner, to confirm a Throne acquired by abominable Crimes, and Violence! And no sooner had these dreadful Storms begun to abate, than _Henry_ was forced to depart from a Scene he had more adorned, (for he was, without Question, a great and valiant Man) had not his Ambition blindly hurried him beyond the Bounds of Justice and Nature.
_Henry_ the Fifth, his Son and Successor, and truly Inheritor of his Ambition and warlike Genius, imagining himself aggrieved by the _Salique Law_, which excluded his Great Great-Grandmother, _Isabel_, from the Monarchy of _France_, turned his elevated Thoughts intirely to the Conquest of that Kingdom: Wherein, by his own vast Merit in martial Affairs, and the Co-operation of the Queen of _France_, (Consort of _Charles_ the Sixth, then frantick,) and that of the Duke of _Burgundy_, a great and powerful Prince, he so far succeeded, as, after his Marriage with _Catharine de Valois_, Daughter of _Charles_ the Sixth, to be crowned, and acknowledged King of _France_.
To this great and victorious Monarch succeeded _Henry_ the Sixth, who, through a long, various, and constantly clouded Reign, seemed the very Play of Fortune! This Day a King, the next a Prisoner! One Day acknowleged by his Parliament, the next attainted! One Day a Conqueror, and the next a Captive!
Fierce, frequent, and bloody, were the Conflicts between the Houses of _York_ and _Lancaster_, the _White_ and _Red Roses_; the former endeavouring to recover its Loss, the latter to maintain its usurped Authority. In this dreadful Quarrel perished two hundred thousand of private Soldiers; ten thousand of the Nobility, Gentry, and Persons of Distinction; three Kings; and, at last, the entire Race of _Plantagenet_.
_Edward_ the Fourth soon fell, by his natural Intemperance, or rather by the insatiable Cruelty of _Gloucester_; who had already sacrificed his Brother _Clarence_, to pave his Way to the Throne. Nor better fared it with _Edward_ the Fifth, who, by all the Arts of Seduction and Delusion, which his unnatural Uncle and Guardian, _Richard_, practised on the Fears and Weakness of the Queen Dowager; was, with his Brother the Duke of _York_, conveyed with great Pomp to the Tower; where the bloody Tyrant, aided by the Duke of _Buckingham_, soon sacrificed those young, innocent and hopeful Princes to his wicked and boundless Ambition. But he soon after lost his own flagitious Life, and a most cruelly-acquired Crown, on the Plains of _Bosworth_.
To him succeeded _Henry_ the Seventh, and the first of the Race of _Tudor_, a great, wise and valiant Prince, but rather too much inclined to Rigour, and Avarice; Imperfections which extremely blemished his other great Qualities.
In the tenth Year of this Reign, the Parliamentary Constitution of _Ireland_ received a deeper Stab than had ever before, or since, been inflicted thereon, by a Statute Law, commonly called _Poynin_’s Act; by which a new, and, till that wretched Period, an unheard of Order, was added to the three established Ranks of the State. By this Law, the _English_ Privy-Council may impose a _Negative_ on the _free_ and _unanimous_ Parliamentary Ordinances of the representative Body of the Kingdom of _Ireland_; a manifest Injury to the Authority and Dignity of Parliament; and an equal Diminution of the Royal Prerogative, that only should include, and should alone exert, a Power so important.
In Times dark, tumultuated and dangerous, no Wonder extraordinary Laws should pass: _Desperate Diseases_ require _desperate Remedies_: But when the _Fever_ is removed, it certainly is a horrid Management to leave the blistering Plaister _still sticking_ to the _recovered_ Patient’s Back.
The Distempers of this Nation were heavy, complicated and chronic; and finally curable, only by the salutary all-healing Hands of our present King, and present Parliament.
To _Henry_ the Seventh succeeded _Henry_ the Eighth, as consummate a Tyrant, in every Sense, as ever swayed the _British_, or any other Sceptre; whose whole Life was so continued a Scene of wanton Dissipation, Lust, Cruelty, Rapine, Bloodshed and Sacrilege, that it must have been a peculiar Happiness, to any Part of his Dominions, to have been _neglected_ or _forgotten_ by him: Nor could the two succeeding Reigns of _Edward_ the Sixth, and Queen _Mary_, short, various, cloudy, and vastly agitated on the Score of Religion, (which, in those two Reigns, took Faces almost diametrically opposite,) afford this Kingdom much reflected Sunshine.
To those ensued that of Queen _Elizabeth_, a Princess of powerful Abilities, who, truly intent on the Peace and Welfare of her Subjects, caused her Laws to operate, and Justice to circulate in this Kingdom, abandoned, as hath been observed, to a State almost of Anarchy, thro’ a dismal Series of seventeen Reigns: But the Reformation in Religion, which she established in _England_, and introduced in _Ireland_, much obviated her Purposes for the latter Kingdom: For, the _Irish_, more tenacious of their Altars, than of their Fire-places, could not easily reconcile themselves to the Exchange of a Religion they deemed a _new one_, for _that_ they had been in Possession of from the fourth, to the fifteenth Century: Which produced a rebellious Defection, in a few of the principal Chieftains of this Land, and gave Occasion to the greedy Provincial Precedents, of trumping up _imaginary Rebellions_, to pave the Way to _real Forfeitures_; thereby to aggrandize their own Houses; what some of them effectually accomplished, to the Ruin and Extirpation of many honest Families.
This great and illustrious Princess, (whose Reign had remained untarnished, had it not been for the Death of the ill-fated Queen of _Scotland_) was succeeded by _James_ the Sixth of _Scotland_, and the first of the _Stuart_ Race that governed _England_: From this Prince, descended of _Irish_ Kings, the People of _Ireland_ might have expected many Favours and Immunities; wherein, however, they were miserably disappointed: Which, with a Train of other Hardships and antiparental Severities, (particularly his alienating, at _one Stroke_, six of the best Counties in the Kingdom, on the _procured_ Testimony of an obscure wretched Individual, one _Teige Lenane_,) is too sufficient and too lasting a Proof of: _Heu! tot Conquesta Annorum, hauserit una Dies!_ The Possession of at least twenty Centuries, of the great and good, the heroic and hospitable _O Neils_, _O Donnels_, _Mac Guires_, _Mac Gennises_, _O Reillys_, _O Cahanes_, &c. ravished away to gratify hungry Favourites, and indigent Relatives! the six Counties, however, as the Law Term has it, _escheated_. Had the _Highlands_ of _Scotland_, at that unhappy Period, been more populated, probably six or eight Counties _more_ had been procured to _escheat_, and there had been _a braa Clutch of bonny Traitors_; the _O Connors_, _Mac Carthys_, _O Briens_, _O Donnels_, _O Hares_, _O Malones_, &c. had been _all_ in the _same Bottom_ with the Families above mentioned; especially, as they could not, according to _James_ the First’s own Phrase, _look to the Pope, and row with him_.
To _James_ the 6th of _Scotland_, and first of _England_, succeeded _Charles_ the First; who, notwithstanding his eminent Possession of all the Virtues that adorn and illustrate human Nature, could neither divert the adverse Fate of Subjects, or prevent his own.
The Disseisin of many honest Families in the County of _Kilkenny_, and elsewhere, by the Earl of _Strafford_, on stale Pretences of _Non Performance of Covenants_ on their Part; his Attempt of confiscating twenty-five Parts in thirty of the whole Province of _Connaught_, on a Claim of Descent, dormant 300 Years, and _originally ill founded_, with the arbitrary Steps by him taken to the Accomplishment of this wasteful Purpose; too clearly proved that Nobleman a second _Verres_. The cruel and intoxicated Administration of the Rump Parliament; the insolent, licentious, and riotous Controul of the military _Independents_; the abject Tyranny of _Oliver Cromwell_, who prostrated Constitution, Church and State, will always be recollected with the Contempt, Horror, and Detestation of every good Subject.
The Calamities from 1641, to the happy Restoration of King _Charles_ the Second, in 1660, being common to all good Subjects, were the more tolerable, _ferre quam sortem patiuntur omnes, nemo recusat_: But now or never, surely, might his ever loyal, ever faithful _Irish_ Subjects have, with the most reasonable Assurance, hoped, if not for publick and lasting Rewards, the common Wages of uncommon Fidelity; at least, for a Restitution of what had been their own, through Ages immemorial.
Will late Posterity _believe_, that, in Favour of mercenary Adventurers, who advanced Money to provide for a desperate regicide Army; in Favour of the Officers of this same Army, whom their Ringleader _Cromwell_, seared as his Conscience was, indulged with no more than _temporary_ Grants of the Estates belonging to the King’s most faithful Subjects: Will Posterity, I say, believe, that, in special Favour of such Men, those _identical Subjects_, the bravest Advocates, as well as the most affectionate undeviating Friends of the Monarchy and Constitution, were _for ever_ deprived of their Properties! To remunerate the _others_, the most _inveterate_ and _implacable_ Enemies of EITHER! _Doing Good for Evil_ is a Divine Precept, and certainly includes a most sublime Moral; but _rendering Evil for Good_, is such a Principle as must carry Horror with it, among savage Nations!
The King of _France_’s immediate Letter, on this Subject, to King _Charles_ the Second, as it reflects Honour on the Memory of those illustrious Sufferers, I therefore take Leave to transcribe in this Place.
* * * * *
_His Most Christian Majesty’s Letter to the King of __Great Britain__, in Favour of the __Roman Catholicks__ of __Ireland__._
“Most High, Most Excellent, and Most Potent Prince, our dear and well-beloved Brother and Cousin! At the same Time that we have been told of your Majesty’s great Goodness towards your Subjects, and the Precedent you have given of an extraordinary Clemency, in granting them your general Amnesty (some few only excepted, of those whom the Blood of their King, and that of his People, cry aloud to Heaven for Revenge against). We could not but let your Majesty know, that we were extremely surprized to hear, that the _Catholicks_ of _Ireland_ were _excluded_ from that Act of Oblivion, and, by that Means, put into the Number of the _most criminal_! This News has so much the more excited our Compassion towards them, that we have been informed, that, in _all the Changes_ which have hitherto happened in your Dominions, and in the almost general _Defection of_ your Subjects, _none_ stood _more constant_ to their lawful Sovereign, even in the greatest Streights, than the _Catholicks_: So that, if they are now branded for their Religion, it may be said, for their Honour, that, in Times past, none could be found _readier_, or more _cheerfully disposed_, than _they_, to serve and assist their Prince; and that with so much _Ardour_, that their Zeal then for the Royal Family was reckoned a certain Mark of their true Religion. It is for that Reason that we now become their Intercessors to you: For, otherwise, had they _failed_ in the Fidelity they owe you, instead of interceding for them, we would join with you in using them with all imaginable Rigour; and it would never come into our Thoughts to concern ourselves, as we do, for the _Catholicks_ of _Ireland_; though we _were obliged to it_, by the last Treaty of Peace made with the Marquess of _Ormond_, and which was granted them by our Mediation. And, as we are well assured, that, since the Conclusion of that Peace, they have done Nothing which can be called a _Failure of their Duty to you_, we find ourselves under so much the greater Obligation to conjure you, to make good that Treaty to them, in that they _religiously_ observed it on _their_ Side, in all its Parts: And to beseech you not to suffer, that either the Hatred, which an immoderate Zeal swells some bigotted Sectaries with, nor the unlucky Spoils of these poor People, render criminal or miserable the _most faithful_ of your Subjects; to whom their lawful King, as you are, is not _the less dear_, nor _less respected_, because of a _different Belief_ from _theirs_. We propose Nothing to ourselves in this, nor ask any Thing, but what we daily _practise_ (as you may know) towards those of our Subjects who are of the _reformed Religion_. And, as we have commanded the Sieur Marquis _de Rouvigny_ to explain our Sentiments more amply on this Subject to you, be pleased to give him a favourable Audience: And, above all Things, be perswaded, that, in this Affair, we have no less your own _true Interest_ in View, than what _natural Reason_ and _Equity_ requires; and that our sincere Friendship for you is the principal Motive of this Request. Dated at _Paris_, the 7th of _September_, 1660.”
The _good_ King _Charles_, regardless of this important Solicitation, unattentive to the plain Suggestions of _common Right_, and unaccountably forgetful of all their _past signal Services_ and inviolate Zeal; observed indeed that those faithful _Irish_ Subjects had no Stock; consequently, that dispossessing the Adherents of _Oliver_, who, with the Land, had pirated the national Stock, would cause much Confusion. As for the _former_, he hoped some Settlement might in Time be found for them; (in Truth, I believe, for aught his Majesty in Reality concerned himself, this might have been in _Terra Australis Incognita_). Their Want of Stock is the less to be admired at, it being well known, that, with their Pay in foreign Service, chiefly expended to contribute all in their Power to the _Royal Support_, they even went so far as to sell their Plate, and valuable Moveables, to answer the same _generous Purpose_: But, when every known Acre in the Kingdom, that could be disposed of, was given away by Wholesale to the Duke of _York_, the Heir-apparent of the Crown, (partial Distribution!) to new-fangled Favourites, and the staunch old Enemies of Church and Crown; it was hoped some Lands might be _yet_ discovered, to satisfy and compensate those _Irish_ Worthies, who had Nothing left for their Support, beside an inalienable Sense of Honour and Loyalty, and a Character of invincible Fidelity (which all Nations admired and applauded). No such Discovery, however, was made, nor any relative to the _Irish_, under that Administration, but what tended to convince them, by the famous Act of Settlement, _&c._ of the extraordinary severe Peculiarity of their Fate! Yet, ordained to shew Posterity unprecedented Specimens of Loyalty and Zeal, they still adhered, with inflexible Constancy, to the Fortunes of King _James_ the Second, not mindful of their Injuries by _James_ the First, their unexampled Sufferings by the excessive harsh Measures of King _Charles_ the First, his Ministers, and Deputies, or their unheard-of Treatment (I won’t say _Wrongs_, it being a Maxim the King of _England_ can do none) by King _Charles_ II. Little Wonder, a House, constantly sapping it’s own best Pillars, should at length fall.
King _James_ the Second, constrained to abdicate the Throne of _England_, endeavoured the Preservation of this his Kingdom of _Ireland_, where his faithful Subjects, (a Remnant of the various and manifold Wastes of foregoing Reigns) considering the thousand Disadvantages they laboured under, made _such a Stand_ as later Ages will look up to with Astonishment! A Parcel of Men, congregated in the utmost Hurry and Confusion, undisciplin’d, unarm’d, uncloathed, unpaid! Yet did those very Men, animated by the Example of their heroick Leaders, (I mean their immediate Lords and Countrymen) on the Plains of _Aughrim_, convince the best veteran Army that Day in _Europe_, superior in Numbers, excellently provided for in every Respect, and conducted by a Prince of singular Valour and Address, that _Irishmen_ were deserving of more auspicious Stars.
Never was a more gallant Defence than they, after this, made in _Limerick_; where, although abandoned by the Prince, (whose Cause they had so remarkably espoused) and his auxiliary _French_, they obtained an honourable CAPITULATION from those in Commission under King _William_ the Third, whose strict _Observance_ thereof, to the End of his glorious Life, reflects, among many other his great Atchievements, deserved Honour on his Memory.
The distinguished Figure made by those Noblemen and Gentlemen, who, regardless of _Property_ or _Ease_, followed the Destiny of that hard-fated Prince, King _James_ the Second, (namely, the Lords _Mount-Cashel_, _Tyrconnel_, _Clare_ and _Lucan_, the _Dillons_, _Nugents_, _Rooths_, _Burkes_, _Lees_, _Fitz-Geralds_, _Cooks_, _Lacys_, _Browns_, _Wogans_, _Baggots_, _Sheridans_, _Creaghs_, _Plunkets_, _Barnewals_, _Neagles_, _Lallys_, _Mac Carthys_, _Mac Donnels_, _Mac Guires_, _Mac Namarras_, _Mac Mahons_, _Mac Gennis’s_, _O Neils_, _O Connors_, _O Donnels_, _O Briens_, _O Dwyers_, _O Shaghnussys_, _O Mahonys_, _O Sullivans_, _O Kellys_, _O Ferralls_, _O Reillys_, _O Haras_, _O Hogans_, _O Byrnes_, _O Daes_, &c. &c. &c. the military Annals of _Germany_, _France_, _Spain_, _Flanders_, _Italy_, _Naples_, and _Russia_), must bear ample and authentic Testimony of, to future Ages.
Those were they, of whom Dr. _Mac en Crow_ gives the following concise, but just and happy Character.
_Genus acre Bello, Studiis Genus acre Minervæ, Devotumque mori pro Rege, Fidêque tuendis._
Among those who followed the Fortunes of King _James_ the Second, were Sir _Richard Neagle_, his Attorney-General, and Dr. _Moore_, Provost of _Trinity-college_, near _Dublin_; two Gentlemen very justly distinguished in their respective Spheres; the former, a Gentleman of unshaken Integrity, and great Capacity in the Profession of the Laws; the latter, of exemplary Piety, universal Learning, and fine Accomplishments. _Louis_ the Fourteenth, then King of _France_, protected those worthy deserving Men, with singular Tenderness and Attention; and was instructed and guided solely by Dr. _Moore_, in the restoring, establishing, and modelling the University of _Paris_, at that gloomy Period! quite buried in perplexed, unintelligible, peripatetic Philosophy, and disfigured with romantic Legends, and Gothic Jingle! But, at the Doctor’s Appearance, Entities, Quiddities, Sympathies, Antipathies, occult Qualities, substantial Forms, metaphysical Degrees, Categories, and all this unideal wordy Stuff, vanished; and were succeeded by a clear, concise Method of Reasoning, and sound, useful, and experimental Philosophy. _Greek_, _Hebrew_, _Syriac_, _Chaldaic_, and _Arabic_, were Languages _untaught_, _unknown_, in the University of _Paris_, before Dr. _Moore_; for whom particularly, _Louis_ the Fourteenth founded, established, and endowed the Royal College, now called _College du Cambray_: And how well our Doctor succeeded therein, may be inferred from the Character and Writings of his Pupils and Hearers, _Boileau_, _Fontinelle_, _Poréc_, _Montesquieu_, _Fleuri_, _Lauguet_, with many others, and _Rollin_, his peculiar Favourite and immediate Successor, _all_ great Genius’s, applauded Writers, and celebrated Wits. So that, as _Ireland_ had the Honour of founding, it had also that of restoring and reviving the great University of _Paris_, in the Persons of two of its learned Natives.
The Reign of her Majesty Queen _Anne_ (glorious to her Arms, under the Conduct of _John_, Duke of _Marlborough_, and her other Generals, and justly distinguished by the Number of great Genius’s and Wits, who enlightened that Period) was in this Kingdom chiefly employed in _additional_ Acts against the further Growth of Popery: And many there were, who deemed it an unparallel’d Severity in her Majesty, to give her Royal Assent to them particular Laws; by which the _Roman Catholicks_ of _Ireland_ (already ruined by their inimitable Allegiance to her Royal Father, Uncle, and Grandfather) were _precluded_ from availing themselves, by a tolerable easy Lease, of any Part or Parcel of these Estates, forfeited by their Ancestors, thro’ their unremitting Endeavours, to support and maintain that Stem, of which she was herself an immediate Branch.
So late even as this Reign, the whole Kingdom of _Ireland_ was a desolate diffusive Scene of total Decay! covered with all the ghastly Symptoms of the Consumption of Centuries! But, at length, on the happy Accession of his late Majesty of glorious Memory, the blissful Morning of Peace and Concord began its auspicious Dawn! Yet, as Time, publick Spirit, Patriotism (in its highest Conception) and unwearied Diligence, were all collectively essential to the giving Life, Vigour, and Activity, to national Industry and Improvement, so very long in a melancholy State of Languor and Oppression: Not before the present truly glorious Reign, did _Hibernia_ tune her old Harp, now newly strung to universal Harmony and Elegance, and rear her awful Head from the stupid dismal Dozes of Ages; where comes the literal Application of my third Motto, RENASCIMUR.
_Hinc priscæ redeunt Artes, felicibus inde Ingeniis aperitur iter, despectaque Musæ Colla levant.——_
Having travelled through a tedious Night, thick-set with Horrors of various Hues! and thus come to the End of a painful Journey; give me Leave, kind Reader, to indulge awhile with admiring the beautiful Variety of Objects, which now surround me, to the serene Delight of the Mind, and refined Gratification of Sense; before I attempt that Display of them to which I have no Occasion of professing my Inequality.
In this Reign, and not before, our Linen Manufacture, in many Respects one of the most profitable Branches of our national Commerce, received all the Encouragement from Royal Bounty, and Parliamentary Sanction, that could be reasonably hoped for.
Persons of the highest Rank, Dignity, and Fortune, were appointed _Trustees_ for the Propagation, Encouragement, and Diffusion, of this beneficial Trade, throughout the respective Provinces.
The _Linen-Hall_ was erected in _Dublin_, under as just and nice Regulations as any commercial House in _Europe_.
The North of _Ireland_ began to wear an Aspect entirely new; and, from being (through Want of Industry, Business, and Tillage) the almost exhausted Nursery of our _American_ Plantations, soon became a populous Scene of Improvement, Traffic, Wealth, and Plenty; and is, at this Day, a well-planted District, considerable for Numbers of well-affected, useful, and industrious Subjects.
Now arose, now shone forth, the ever Honourable DUBLIN SOCIETY; a Society equalled by none. It is true, we read of Patriarchs, Philosophers, Warriors, Orators, and Poets; of Senates, Parliaments, Councils, _&c._ but we no where, abstracted from our own Country, meet a Set of pious Patriots, from their _private Funds_, adorning their Country in general, in every Degree and Branch of Industry, and Improvement; and, inspired with Sentiments truly public and social, munificently rewarding their Countrymen, of whatsoever Denomination, without Favour or Distinction; for meliorating their proper Estates, or Farms; for excelling in any Production of Nature, or Art; for any Discovery, or Invention, useful to Mankind: A Set of _truly honourable_, and _generous_ Personages, instructing their Countrymen with clear, yet philosophical Precepts, encouraging them by their Example, and rewarding them from their inexhaustible Bounty! _Such_, and _such unrivalled_, is the ILLUSTRIOUS DUBLIN SOCIETY! What Pity, the ample Distributions, and instructive Writings of this learned and munificent Body, are not regularly published, in _Latin_, _English_, and _French_, for the peculiar Honour of this Nation, the Edification of Posterity, and as a bright Pattern of Imitation to all other civiliz’d Countries!
Now likewise appeared the _Philharmonic Society_, that, (from a few Gentlemen, who used _occasionally_ to meet, in order to while away an Hour with a gentle Tune, and chearful Glass) grew into an harmonious Body, not alone for the Improvement of the charming Art of Music, but for the _effectual Relief_ also of successive Thousands, from Misery, Famine, and Confinement: _Concordiâ res parvæ crescunt_. ORPHEUS, we are told, built the Walls of _Thebes_, by the irresistible Powers of Harmony: Be this true or fabulous; how many Iron Gates have we not seen open, to the persuasive Charities of this tuneful Society! how many gloomy Cells vacated by their Charms! This elegant Society, by moderate Loans, Interest-free to the industrious Poor, prevents many such from getting into the Distress of Prisons, or following offensive Courses; and, by enabling them to obtain an honest Livelihood, rendereth them useful Members to the Community: So that, of this Society, it might have been justly said,
_Omne tulit Punctum quæ miscuit utile dulci._
In this happy Reign was incorporated, under the protective Sanction of Royal Bounty, a Society, truly Christian, for the pious Establishment of _Protestant_ CHARTER-SCHOOLS throughout the Kingdom: An Institution far more productive of national Morality, and Reformation, than excommunicative Discipline, or restrictive penal Statutes; since Persuasion and Rewards have ever been, and must ever continue to be, more consistent with the meek and benevolent Temper of true Christianity, more effectual, Apostolic, and Catholic, than _Punishments_, _Persecution_, or _Sequestrations_.
In this Reign shines out a Christian Divine, who, in the inestimable individual Dr. _Madden_, collects _a whole Society of Patriots_; a venerable Man, not alone the Guide of his particular Congregation, but a pure, also clear and lasting Light of Perfection, and noble Imitation, to his Countrymen in general.
On _Madden_, kindred Angels smile! Bright Mirrour to his native Isle! To whom old Age shall say, and Youth, With grateful and prophetic Truth,
_Semper Honos, Nomenq; tuum, Laudesq; manebunt._
St. _Patrick’s_ Hospital, for the Reception of Lunaticks and Ideots, a lasting Monument of the late Dean _Swift’s_ Charity, as are his various Writings, of his great Genius and Wit: _Mercer’s_ charitable Hospitable in _Stephen-street_: The noble Hospital for the Relief of poor Lying-inn-Women, of the Projection of our late excellent Countryman, Dr. _Bartholomew Mosse_; by which a great Number of Women and Children are preserved from miserable and untimely Ends: The _Charitable Infirmary_ on the _Inns-Quay_: The New Hospital for _Incurables_, on _Lazer’s-Hill_: St. _Nicholas’s_ Hospital, in _Francis-street_: The _Meath_ Hospital, in _Skinner’s Alley_: The _Lock_ Hospital, in _George’s-Lane_, for hapless Women and Children, tainted with the Venereal Infection: And the Charitable Hospital in _King-street, Oxmantown_, are all the humane and pious Growth of this transcendent Reign.
Those Hospitals are duly and regularly attended, by the most eminent Physicians, and skilful Surgeons, without Fee or Reward: So that, from this obvious Consideration, the frequent and large Collections in our Churches, for the comfortable Support, and Christian Education, of indigent Boys; the stated Distributions of our Chief Magistrates, to the Helpless and Needy; and, in Truth, from the general Disposition of its worthy Inhabitants; we may, without any Risque of incurring the least Censure of Adulation, or Vanity, pronounce DUBLIN as charitable a Metropolis as any in the known World. In the beautiful new Garden, plann’d by Dr. _Mosse_, breathing in all the natural Fragrance of the Spring, adorned with all the Elegancies of Art, all the Splendor of Illumination, and inspired with the most soothing Charms of delightful Harmony; to behold Crowds of young Ladies, in the full Glow of Beauty, and Bloom of Youth, finely habited, and elegantly decorated in the Manufactures of our own Country, (and finished in the most exquisite Taste, by our own Artizans); to behold them, I say, converting their very Amusements and Recreations to the heavenly Purposes of relieving the Distressed, must, to every thinking _Irish_ Spectator, afford a Prospect of the utmost rational Joy!
As all Men, who render their Country distinguished Honour, or singular Service, deserve, therefore, lasting Monuments of public grateful Acknowledgment to their Memories; it is hoped that, in this Respect, Dr. _Mosse_ will not be forgotten by those who are evidently fond of encouraging and rewarding public Zeal:
Eternal Joys to _Mosse_ kind Heaven give, By whom, on Earth, so many Thousands live!
The _Marine Society_, of recent Institution also, disposeth many poor young Men into a Condition of acquiring an honest, and praise-worthy Livelihood, and of becoming useful Members of the Community; by serving on Board of his Majesty’s Fleets in War-time, and serving our Merchants in Times of Peace; and, in this double Capacity, of contributing to the general Welfare of their Mother-Country, to which they may otherwise prove a Burden.
Our publick Entertainments of various Kinds are, for the most Part, conducted with strict Propriety, and real Politeness; those especially of the Theatre, which should, by no Means, pass for Matter of slight or casual Consideration; seeing the _Romans_, the greatest of all People, esteemed the Theatre worthy the Attention of particular Laws, _Roscia Lex Theatralis_, &c. Mr. _Sheridan_’s general Merit as a _Player_ stands confessed; but as a _Manager_, that Gentleman’s falling frequently under the heavy Displeasure of the Public, (whether from an haughty Distaste to his Profession, or indulged Arrogance of Temper) with his violent Introduction of anti-dramatick Rope and Wire-dancing, Tumbling, and Fire-eating, to the visible Degradation of a liberal Stage, whereon nothing mean, shocking, or monstrous, should ever appear; he hath not succeeded so well: Then, his Scheme of uniting an Academy, for the sober regular Education of Youth, with a publick Theatre, seemed rather the feverish Delusion of a distempered Brain, and heated Imagination, than the cool deliberate Result of rational Judgment; from which fermented Source, also seem’d directly to flow his avowed Concern for the _long lost Art of Oratory_ among us: Had Mr. _Sheridan_ attended to the Debates of our High Court of Parliament; been frequent in our different Churches, and at the Bars of our Courts of Judicature; and had, in this Case, formed a comparative Judgment, from the Writings of _Demosthenes_, _Plato_, _Isocrates_, _Cicero_, and _Pliny_ the Younger; from the Rules and Precepts of _Aristotle_, _Longinus_, _Horace_, _Quinctilian_, _Scaliger_, _Rapin_, _Porée_, and _Rollin_; he had been _then_ convinced how little Occasion there was for his _lamenting_ the _Loss_ of an Art in this Kingdom, which breathes there in full Maturity of all it’s persuasive Charms. This his dogmatical Assertion of the _long-lost Art of Oratory_, his wild _Academical_ Projects, with the foregoing theatrical Inconsistencies, too much subject that Gentleman to the Character given, by the _Roman_ Satirist, of an assuming sharp-set _Greekling_:
_Gramaticus, Rhetor, Geometres, Pictor, Aliptes, Augur, Scœnobates, Medicus, Magus, omnia novit._
Upon the Whole, I will readily grant Mr. _Sheridan_ a _Roscius_, if the Name can sooth him; a _Critic_; nay, an _Orator_; but I shall be bold to assert, that we have many, very many, in this Kingdom, of far greater Powers than that Gentleman, whereof some of his Orations, _so called_, are incontrovertible Testimonies.
This Kingdom hath of late Years exhibited as justly celebrated Male and Female Players, as any other; evinced in the Characters of Messieurs _Quin_, _Ryan_, _Delane_, _Sheridan_, _Barry_, _Mossop_, _Dexter_, _Sparks_, Mrs. _Woffington_, the inimitable Mrs. _Fitz-Henry_, and several others, of either Sex.
Mr. _Barry_’s Capacity, as a Manager, appeareth equal to his eminently-affecting Powers in Tragedy, (so generally known, and so unexceptionably confessed) from the magnificent Theatre, erected by that Gentleman, with amazing Expedition, in Grandeur, Convenience, and Elegance, preferable to any in _London_, or _Paris_: From the obliging Decency the respective Performances thereof are conducted with, and evidently from the surpassing theatrical Abilities of the Company, that, with the most engaging Variety, entertains the Publick in _Crow-street_ Play-house. I have sometimes seen, and have been as often delighted, with Performances of the Gentlemen just mentioned, as with those of the admired Mr. _Garrick_, and the famous Messieurs _Dufrésne_, _Gossin_, and _Quinault_; and, if I may take Leave to declare my Opinion, am therein clear that Mr. _Barry_, in the exquisitely pathetick Strokes of deep Tragedy, touches the Soul with as much delicate Sensibility, and, in the irrefrainable Sallies of the more boisterous Passions, soars with as majestick Wings, as any one of them, I will not say higher. To behold Mr. _Barry_, sublimely struggling in a Storm of Adversity, with the sudden Shocks, and unexpected Blows of Fortune; _then_, (when all human Efforts must yield to inevitable Necessity) sinking in the irretrievable Plunge of Sorrow and Calamities, with that calm Resignation ever attendant on true Heroism; must convince any judicious Spectator of his being born a Tragedian. I must here declare, that what I have advanced on this Subject neither ariseth from Prepossession on one Side, or Prejudice on the other; having no Manner of Connection, nay, not even a personal Acquaintance, with Mr. _Barry_; nor any Objection to Mr. _Sheridan_, but such as must naturally issue from my just Resentment against any Individual, of whatsoever Rank, Character, or Denomination, who should prove so ignorant, and yet so hardy, as to declare _Elocution lost_ in our native Country; an illiberal Censure, which, if true, had necessarily wrapped our High Court of Parliament, the whole Body of our Clergy, our University, Bench and Bar, in Shades that, I am certain, had been never dispell’d by the Approach of Light, so dim and glimmering as that Gentleman’s.
Let us now take a summary View of the Inhabitants of _Ireland_, in their respective Ranks: And to begin with the Peers: Are they not such Personages, as, by their Munificence, Affability of Manners, Easiness of Comportment, Propriety of Appearance, and Generosity in dealing, reflect true Honour on Nobility; and, Reality, derive their superior Rank, as much from the Pre-eminence of their Virtues, as from the constitutional Dignity of their Titles?
The Encrease of our People, Wealth, Commerce, Industry, Arts, Inventions; the extraordinary additional Number, in this happy Reign, of our beautiful Seats, elegant Improvements, useful and ornamental Plantations, extensive Inclosures, excellent high Roads, (formerly almost impassable,) with the visible Reformation in national Harmony, and Allegiance, will best suggest an Idea of the Honourable the House of Commons of _Ireland_, composed of such candid Spirits, as, neither the Smiles or Frowns of superior Influence, popular Views, or private Connections, can bend from the various essential Duties due to their King, their Country, and themselves; constant in their Attendance; careful in their Protection; and zealous in their Promotion of publick Felicity; not more extensive in their noble Projects, for this great Purpose, than expeditious in carrying those into Execution.
Our Constitution, partly of _Gothic_, partly of _Norman_ Institution, (the first High Court of Parliament on the present Establishment, having been ordained in the Reign of _Henry_ the First, Son of _William_ the Conquerer) avoiding the turbulent Licentiousness of a _Democracy_, the factious domineering Temper of _Aristocracy_, and the variable oppressive Sway of _Arbitrary Monarchy_; but including, by an harmonious Assemblage, the essential Virtues of those different Systems of Government; is unquestionably the _best digested_ and _wisest_ in the known World: Under which, the King and the Nobles, with the Commons, _unite_, to extend the Commerce, promote the Happiness, guard over the Safety, preserve the Lives, defend the Characters, support the Liberties, and protect the Property of the People. Bless’d Constitution! O! may it ever flourish! under whose mild and preservative Influence, a few only feel Restraint; except from the Commission of private Evil, or social Injury.
I have said a _Few only_; because there are some among us, who, on the Score of Religion, are secluded from permanent Property: And even Those, it is hoped, will, in Consideration of the invariable Tenor of their humble and pacific Conduct, from the Capitulation of _Limerick_, to this Day; and from their unanimous and chearful Obedience to our Civil Government, e’re long obtain some Mitigation of their Affairs; such the benevolent Temper and Disposition of the present incomparable Reign! Some late excellent(3) Pamphlets, wherein these Gentlemen’s political Principles are fully and clearly explained, shew of what signal Advantage it had been to the Numbers, Industry, Health, Wealth, and Beauty of this Kingdom, to indulge them a Property, even in our uncultivated Mountains, dreary Wastes, and noxious Marshes: Which Measure, should it appear in a true Light to our worthy Representatives, we may in a few Years more, hope to see _Ireland_ one of the most beautiful, best-improved, best-conditioned Islands in the Universe. Our Bench is adorned with Honourable Personages, conspicuous for Learning, Integrity, Humanity, and Impartiality; of whom, it may be boldly affirmed, and with the strictest Truth, that they are not Favourers of Persons. The present Lord Chief Justice of the _King-Bench_, the late Master of the Rolls, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Natives of _Ireland_, formed a Triumvirate, whose Learning, Worth, and distinguished Abilities, had rendered them eminently respectable in the brightest Æras, either of the _Roman_ Commonwealth, or Empire.
Our Attorney and Solicitor General, our Serjeants at Law, and King’s Council, with many eminent Barristers, and a Set of learned eloquent young Gentlemen, all shining out together; such as _Tully_, _Hortensius_, and _Pliny_, had with fond Tenderness cherished and with pleasing Pride, avowed for their Pupils; form as distinguished a Body of Advocates and Orators, as adorn any Courts of Judicature in _Europe_.
In the Diocese of _Dublin_ existeth a truly pious Society for the Relief and Support of the Widows and Children of the inferior Clergy thereof. It is, indeed, surprizing in a Kingdom, such (thank Heaven) as _Ireland_ is, that the Example of this charitable Society, hath not been _universally_ followed. It hath often affected me to the Quick, to have seen a learned Divine, after a tedious and painful Free-School Institution, and expensive University Education, struggling, upon a poor Pension or Salary of _Forty_ Pounds a Year, to maintain an honest Gentlewoman, Children, and Servants, (and really with some Decency of Hospitality) sedulously discharging, at the same Time, the different Duties of the pastoral Function; when a _foreign Fidler_ shall run away with tripple that Sum, or more, for one Night’s Performance. I would by no Means be understood to derogate from the Merits of fine Performers in the different Parts of Musick, or endeavour to diminish their reasonable Perquisites: But, surely, such Men and such Things are not to be thought of, in Competition with those, who, by Teaching and Preaching, refine our Morals, instruct our Understandings, inform our Lives, and enlighten our Souls with the celestial Spirit of the Christian Faith; and thereby happily lead us, through this transient and precarious State, to eternal Tranquilly and Bliss. I am not a Preacher; but thus far shall venture: As the Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom, our generally following the heavenly Example of this venerable Society, must be a great Test as well of the one, as the other. If the Bishops, the temporal Lords, and great estated Men of each Diocese, would but graciously lead the Way, it is not unlikely they had been attended by Crowds of zealous Followers: And, in Fact, a _small_ Matter _annually set apart_, from even the superfluous Outgoings of the Wealthy and Opulent, of different Ranks, would very happily answer the generous noble End of preserving, from an anxious State of particular Dependance, Numbers of virtuous, well-educated Gentlewomen, and their Children, from the various Miseries, which the untimely Death of a Father, and narrow Circumstances, but too frequently expose them to; an End so every Way worthy the natural Disposition, the benevolent Temper, the inherent Hospitality, and the essentially-charitable Character of _Ireland_.
Our _Protestant_ Brethren, the _Dissenters_, by a prudent and pious Regulation of secreting one Pound a Year, each parochial Minister, for this religiously humane Purpose, have constantly a Fund sufficient to allow the Relict of each Clergyman twenty Pounds a Year, (which preserves her from the Miseries of Want and Dependance) and have, at some Periods, where-with to set their Children up, in an honest and creditable Way of living. As we are emulously fond of adopting the Wisdom and Virtues of each Christian Sect and Society, it is fervently hoped we will also this tender and pious Scheme; a Scheme so comprehensive of true Charity, and so productive of social and happy Effects! How difficult is it for Minds, crowded with Cares, and beset with the pressing Calls of Family-preservation, to attend, with due Composure and Inclination, to the various indispensible Duties of the pastoral Office? But how chearfully would those Reverend Gentlemen proceed in their divine Mission, when, by some visible Provision for the proper Objects of their present Cares and future Concern, they should, in a great Measure, be released from domestick Anxiety, from gloomy Apprehensions, and alarming Prospects, into the temporal Futurity of those, for whom they must be necessarily affected with the most tender Feelings!
The most convincing and decisive Method of adjudging Causes, being by a comprehensive View and critical Examination of their Effects; of Streams, by a nice Scrutiny and Investigation of their Sources; hence may we, from the shining Characters, and extensive Abilities of our Divines and Barristers, frame a just Idea of the University of _Dublin_, which, for Compass and Extent of the Sciences, Variety of elegant Arts, found Erudition, and polite Literature therein taught, in the most regular and perspicuous Methods, is equalled by few, excelled by none.
The Students are carefully instructed in the more refined Parts of classical Learning; oriental, antient, and modern Languages; Criticism, sacred and profane History, Oratory, Logick, Ethicks, and Metaphysicks; in natural and experimental Philosophy; Anatomy, Botany and Chymistry; the mathematicks, in Theory and Practice; Civil and Canon Laws; Theology, Controversy, and Ecclesiastical History: So that, with a good Capacity, and regular Application, one may depart this University, as completely and happily instituted for the honorary Professions of Life, as may be reasonably expected from any Nursery of Learning extant. The obtaining a Fellowship in this University, is a demonstrative Test of comprehensive native Talents, thorough intellectual Cultivation, deep and various learned Acquirements.
The _Newtonian_ Philosophy, the excellent _Boyle_’s experimental Philosophy, and Mr. _Locke_’s Metaphysicks, prevail much in the College of _Dublin_: Which, for Extent, Convenience, Magnificence, and a most sumptuous elegant Library, exceeds any one College in _Europe_. The beautiful Parks belonging to it, seem actually, on a serene Evening, the delightful Vale of _Tempe_, or enchanting Recesses of _Parnassus_, inhabited by all the Muses, all the Graces, with their charming Train.
The Trade of _Ireland_, however in former Times miserably restrained and limited, hath in this happy Reign received considerable Enlargements; such as, the opening several Wooll-Ports; the Bounty on _Irish_ Linens, now our staple Commodity, imported into _Great-Britain_; and the Immunity lately granted of importing thither Beef, Butter, Tallow, Candles, Pork, Hides, live Cattle, _&c._ a Privilege that, in its Consequences, must prove of signal Advantage to both Nations; to _this_ especially, as we shall hereby be enabled, upon any occasional Exigency, to supply our protecting Friends, and proportionably stint the Hands of our Enemies, who, (by the Profusion of Wines and spirituous Liquors, annually exported from _France_ to Ireland, in Exchange for our Beef, Butter, _&c._ to pass over the Gluts of Teas and Spirits, _&c._ smuggled thence by the _western_ Runners) have constantly the Balance on their Side. Our Exports, with those already mentioned, consist in a few Cheeses, Salmon and Kelp: But, as our Linens are, without Question, become the vital Spring of _Irish_ Commerce, it is Matter of great Concern and equal Surprize, that the other Provinces do not more _universally_ and _effectually_ follow the lucrative Example of the _North_! since, it is evident, nothing but _equal Industry_ can be wanting to render them _equally flourishing_, The Over-growth of Graziers and Stockmasters, is the strongest Indication that can be of national Waste and Decay, in respect of Inhabitants. What could a Foreigner, travelling among us, particularly in the _western_ Counties, some Summers past, judge of our national Wisdom and Oeconomy? Would he not start even at our Humanity, on seeing the best arable Grounds in the Kingdom, in immense Tracts, wantonly enjoyed by the Cattle of a few petulant Individuals; and at the same Juncture, our high Ways and Streets crowded with Shoals of mendicant fellow-creatures! reduced, through Want of proper Sustenance, to the utmost Distress? Would not a _Frenchman_ for Example, give a Shrug extraordinary, at finding, in every little Inn, _Bourdeaux_ Claret and _Nantz_ Brandy, though, in all Likelihood, not a Morsel of _Irish_ Bread?
It is much to be hoped, That, when the Spirit of Tillage should become more general and active, our Farmers more attentive to the Growth of the best Kinds of Grain, and our Brewers, more attentive to the Rules and Precepts for that Purpose laid down by the Honourable the DUBLIN SOCIETY; we shall have little or no Occasion for that Inundation of _London Porter_; (an heavy, cloudy, intoxicating, ill-flavoured Liquor) that annually overflows this City and other Parts of the Kingdom; as, in the above Case, we may have a sufficient Plenty and Variety of Malt Liquors, our own native Produce, far better than any imported; and, in Case of a Redundancy of Grain, (a Matter not very likely to happen) may, with moderate Care, have Spirituous Liquors of far a more wholesome Nature, exquisite Taste, and delicate Flavour, than those imported at an extraordinary Expence; and but too often adulterated, in the first Concoction.
We have, in several Parts of this Kingdom, (in the Province of _Munster_ especially) a recy, spirituous, fine-flavoured Cyder, very little, if at all, inferior to the best imported White Wines; and a moderate Plenty of grateful Honey-Liquors, which, with our prime Beef, Mutton, Pork, Veal, Lamb, Variety of Fowls, tame and wild; red and fallow Deer; Hares, Rabbits, Pidgeons, Pheasants, Grouse; and Partridge; wild Duck, Plover, Snipe, _&c._ Lake, River, Shell and Sea Fish, of all Kinds; the Produce of the Garden, (Horticulture having of late Years so vastly improved among us, that we now have many curious Plants, Fruits, and Flowers, not only not _known_, but never even _heard of_, in former Times) and _all_ in such Plenty and Perfection, as demonstrate _Ireland_ happier than most other Countries, in regard of the Necessaries and even of the Delicacies of Life; to which may be added, the great Number of our beautiful Lakes, noble Rivers, pure Fountains, limpid Streams, and Health-restoring mineral Wells.(4) In this Country are bred valuable Horses, for the Draught, Road, and Chace; and for the Course, as high-formed ones, as in any Part of _Europe_; and large horned Cattle, and Sheep in Abundance.
It must afford real Satisfaction to consider the universal and visible Reformation in the Lives and Morals even of our common People, clearly evinced in this, that (thank Heaven) fewer legal Punishments succeed an entire Circuit, in our happy Days, than did a single Assize in former Reigns: And, without Question, this Reformation must still rise higher, in Proportion to the Lenity of our worthy Legislature, and wise Indulgence of our landed Men, who must certainly find it more conducive to the Welfare of the State, and to their own Strength, Honour, and Interest, to have their Estates farmed and inhabited by a great Number of honest, laborious improving Families, than wasted by a few Purse-proud Bullock-Brokers, who rarely allow the wretched Herd of an hundred, as much Ground for his own and poor Family’s Support, as is equal to that of two Bullocks.
Suppose a Gentleman was to let two thousand Acres of arable Ground to farm; were it not demonstrably more conducive to all the foregoing Motives, to dispose of these to twenty honest, industrious Families, at an hundred Acres each, than to any one Beau-Grazier whatever? From the twenty Tenures, the Landlord may, in any national Shock, raise a considerable Number of effective Hands, and zealous Hearts, for the Service of the Crown, or Defence of his Country; and reap many signal Advantages to the public and private Concernments of Life, not possibly derivable from the anti-social Monopolizers and Forestallers of Farms; who ever fondly attribute their Growth to their own Sagacity and Cleverness, without any the least Gratitude or Obligation to the Land-owner. These Sentiments, it is hoped, will every Day gain more and more Consideration with our wise and beneficent Legislature, Nobility and Gentry.
Many intelligent Persons, of all Ranks, complain much of the Want of some Establishment in the Way of a national Bank, to secure popular Credit, and the Kingdom from the various alarming Shocks it is so frequently incident to, on Account of the Failure of particular Banks.
The Nobility and Gentry of _Ireland_, are Loyalists and Patriots by Principle and Education: They are brave, without Arrogance; gay, without Levity; polite, without Affectation; charitable, without Ostentation; religious, without Formality; affable, without Meanness; generous, without View; and hospitable, without Reserve: In their Converse, easy; in their Dealings just; placable in their Resentments, in their Friendship steady:—They have neither the volatile Airyness of the _Frenchman_, the stated Gravity of the _Spaniard_; the supicious Jealousy of the _Italian_; the forbidding Haughtiness of the _German_; the saturnine Gloominess of the _Flandrican_, nor the sordid Parsimony of the _Dutchman_: In short, they are neither whimsical, splenetic, sullen or capricious:—And, as for Cunning, Craft, or Dissimulation, these are such sorry Guests as never found Shelter in the generous Breast of an _Irish_ Noble or Gentleman; so that, if we consider this Country, with regard to its military Fame, constitutional Wisdom, Learning, Arts, Improvements, and natural Advantages; and above all, the benevolent Temper, charitable and hospitable Disposition of its Inhabitants; it is true, we may find many of more popular Bustle and Eclat, more extensive Commerce, greater Opulence and Pomp; but none of more general, solid, and intrinsick Worth, than _Ireland_.
I shall conclude with the following Proposition to any one, who may arrogate to himself Praise or Wit, by ridiculing _Ireland_.
_Si quid Novisti rectius istis—_ _Candidus imperti; Si non, his utere mecum._
THE FARMER’S CASE OF THE ROMAN-CATHOLICS OF _IRELAND_.
In a LETTER from a MEMBER of the PROTESTANT CHURCH.
I think myself indebted to any Occasion that restores you to a Friend, whom I feared you had long forgotten. But I confess, at the same Time, that the Pleasure of hearing from you, after a Silence of Several Years, is, in some Measure, damped by the Censure that seems to constitute the chief Intent of your Letter.
You tell me that you lately happened upon some Papers that were entitled The FARMER’s LETTERS, _&c._ which were imputed to me as the Author. And, after some Compliments on Spirit, and Genius, and so forth, in order to palliate, as I suppose, what you purpose to administer, you charge me, by Implication, with Crimes, whose smallest Tendency I should abhor in myself, as in any Man breathing.
You say, favourably enough for your own Disposition, that you have long looked on the _Roman-Catholics_ of these Kingdoms as a discountenanced and pitiable People. That you would choose to allow to others the same Latitude of Conscience that you like for yourself. That it is not a Part of Humanity to break a Reed already bruised. That such a Treatment would be blameable respecting any Individual; how much more so, in Prejudice of a whole People. That those Papers are pointed with a Keenness of Enmity, for which the Talents, which you are pleased to ascribe, cannot sufficiently apologize. And, that you did not think me capable of exasperating Government and Power against a Set of Men who were already under the Displeasure and Depression of the Law.
These, my dear Friend, are home and heavy Accusations, however tempered by Expressions of Kindness and Affection from the Man whom I sincerely love and respect.
But, if I know any-thing of myself, the Quality, called Ill-nature, is not my Characteristic. I would not exchange one Grain of Good-heart for all the Wit of a _C----d_ or Comprehension of a _P--tt_, independent of their Virtue. And I may say, with great Truth, that an Excess of Humanity hath occasioned all the Misfortunes and Distresses of my Life.
I most solemnly assure you, that when I wrote those Letters I was in perfect Love and Charity with every _Roman Catholic_ in the Kingdom of _Ireland_. I knew that they were a depressed People. I had long pitied them as such. I was sensible that the Laws, under which they suffered, had been enacted by our Ancestors, when the Impressions of Hostility were fresh and warm, and when Passion, if I may venture to say so, co-operated, in some Measure, with Utility and Reason. I will go a Step further. I thought those Laws not severe enough to suppress them as Enemies, nor yet sufficiently favourable to attach them to us as Friends. They were not so cruel as, wholly, to serve for quelling; and yet they had a Poignancy that might tend to provoke. And all this I imputed to the Resentment that was blended with the Humanity of our Ancestors. Their Humanity left to Papists a Power of hurting, while their Resentment abridged the Inducements that might engage them to serve us.
Believe me, Sir, I never was of a cruel or persecuting Disposition. I was grieved to see the Discouragements under which the _Roman Catholics_ of this Kingdom laboured, but these very Discouragements made me fear them the more.
Previous to the Letters, which you censure so warmly, a dangerous Rebellion had broken out in _Scotland_, in consequence of a _French_ Invasion, that was headed by a Popish Pretender to the Throne. Be pleased to remember, (if it is not too mortifying a Recollection for a free-born _Briton_) the Pannic into which all _England_ was struck by a few _Scotch_ Vassals, undisciplined, and unactuated by any Motive of Liberty or Virtue, save the Virtue of being attached to their _Laird_ or their _Leader_. Millions of _English_, at that Time, sunk in the Down of a long Peace, and enervated by ministerial Corruption and Venality, feared that a Handful of _Highlanders_ would win their Way to _London_, and, at one Stroke, put a Period to the boasted Strength and Grandeur of the _British_ Constitution.
I was astonished at the Apprehensions that _England_ was under from so contemptible an Armament. But I deemed the Case of _Ireland_ to be highly alarming. The _Roman-Catholics_, at that Time, outnumbered us Five to One. They were disarmed, it is true, but I was not equally sure that they had Reason to be reconciled. As they were not admitted to realize their Fortune, it consisted of ready Money, and that gave ready Power. As they were not permitted to purchase, or accept a Tenure of any valuable Length, Loyalty, perhaps, might induce them to fight for their King; but where was the Stake to impel them to fight for a Country in which they had no _Inheritance_? Without an Interest in Lands, they had little to lose by any Change of Estate. Without a Loan lodged with Government, they had the less to lose by a Change of Constitution.
I cannot conceive how _Religion_, or mere Difference of Opinion, should prove a real Cause of Quarrel among Men; though it often serves as a _Word of War_, or a _Term_ whereby to give Notice for Onset. On the contrary, I had observed that wherever People are united by _Interest_, though of a thousand opposite Sects, Persuasions and Professions, they never fail to join in the Maintenance and Defence of _common Rights_.
I, therefore, did not fear the _Roman Catholics_, as having a different _Religion_, but as having an _Interest_ that was different from the Interest of _Protestants_. Were they a Compound of all the Follies, Absurdities, and Contradictions that ever were generated by Monster-bearing Superstition, had their Interest bound them to us, I should not have feared their _Fealty_.
But this was not the Case. The _French_ Invasion of _Great Britain_ was headed by a Person who was, by Birth, Education, Principle, and Interest, an Enemy to the Freedom and Rights of a Constitution that was established on the Dispossession of his Ancestors; and he was, consequently, an Enemy to the general Change of Privilege and Property, that ensued on the said Establishment. The said Change, as we all know, was to the Disadvantage of _Roman Catholics_. Had the Invader prevailed, a Change would again have ensued, in their Favour. Men naturally with Success to an Event from whence they propose Benefit; and it is as natural for them to act conformable to those Wishes.
Had _Roman Catholics_ been possessed of an unrestrained Property, along with the other Liberties, Blessings, and Enjoyments, which they derived, in common with us, from the Establishment at the Revolution, no spiritual or temporal Power on Earth could have tempted them to permit, much less to wish, a Change of a Constitution whose Equal they could not find upon Earth.
But as this was very far from being the Fact, I feared that _Interest_ might prove an Incentive to _Desire_; and Desire equally prove an Incentive to _Action_; and, I am not ashamed to confess, that my Expectations were greatly, though happily, disappointed, by the Steadiness of their peaceful and loyal Demeanour on that trying Occasion.
Believe me, my Friend, at the Time that I wrote those Papers, which have given you so much Offence, I looked upon the _Papists_ of this Kingdom, by the Patronage of _France_ and _Spain_, by their Numbers, by their Wealth, and by their Union with each other, to be vastly superior to _Irish Protestants_, in Power; and my Spirit of Opposition rose, in Proportion to my Idea of their Ability. But neither then, before, nor since, did I ever mean to excite any Action, or Intention, against the Weak, or the Oppressed, the Fallen, or the Afflicted.
When _Brutus_ unsheathed the reluctant Sword of Freedom against his Friend, Humanity must suppose that his Heart was wrung with Compunction, while his Country enjoined and impelled the Blow.
But further, Sir, there is a very wide Difference between a _Popish Regency_ and a _Popish People_. The whole Intent and Virulence, as you call it, of my Papers, is pointed and levelled against the _One_, but not a Syllable uttered, from End to End, against the _Other_. A _Popish Regency_, in Temporals alike as in Spirituals, I held to be, by Principle, an arbitrary and oppressive Government; but I held a _Popish People_ to be, of all People, the most amenable and submissive to Rulers, whatever the Form or Nature of that State may be, under which they shall happen to be subjected. And, on this very Account, I dreaded them the more, should they become passive Instruments in the Hand of a Papal Dictator.
To apply a sure Test to the Propriety, or Impropriety, of my Apprehensions, at the Period when I wrote the _Farmer’s Letters_, let us suppose that no one of the Penal Laws, which were instituted during the Reign of her Majesty Queen _Anne_, had yet passed into Form, but that Matters had remained in the same Situation, in which the _Monarch_, of _humane_, as well as _glorious Memory_, had left this unhappy People. Well, what would have been the Consequence? Would _Papists_, in that Case, have been less amenable to the Government, by which they had been favoured, supported, and cherished? Would they have been the forwarder to bring Damage and Destruction on a Country, because their own Interest was connected therewith, and the Fortunes of their Posterity deposited therein? Would they have been the readier to attempt the Overthrow of our beneficent Constitution, because they enjoyed the Privileges and Advantages thereof? No, Sir, no. The Absurdity of the Supposition is inclusive of the Answer. Had this been the Case, the _Farmer’s Letters_ would not have existed to have caused the Renewal of our Acquaintance.
I have read and noted many Instances, in free States and Commonwealths, where _Liberty_, when fermented into _Licentiousness_, hath occasioned many partial Struggles for Power, many Broils and Factions, and much Disturbance to the Community. But very few are the Instances of the Insurrection of any People, who have not been goaded thereto by Severity and Oppression. The inoffensive Stag grows formidable when _at __ Bay_. The Worm turneth not, till it receiveth a Crush.
I forget the Book, though I remember the Passage, where a Prince demanded of his favourite Minister, what he should do with a Number of the Commons and Nobility, whom he had suppressed and taken Captive in the Act of Rebellion? The Minister answered, _Put them, and their Adherents, instantly to Death_. No, replied the Prince, that were an Act of such Bloodshed and Barbarity, as neither Fear nor Revenge shall persuade me to perpetrate. _Then, grant them all free Pardon_, rejoined the Minister. How! said the Prince, must Rebellion go altogether unpunished? There is no Medium that can assure your Safety, answered the Minister; you must either pull this Party wholly up by the Root, so as to leave no Fibre from whence future Enmity may grow; or else, you must change that Enmity into Friendship, by binding their Gratitude to your Person and Interest, with the kindliest of all Connections, that of your Goodness and Favour. _A partial Punishment will be too little for your Safety; a partial Pardon will not be enough._ You must either wholly annihilate their Power, by their _Death_; or derive Strength to yourself, from that Power, by their _Friendship_.
By disarming our Enemies, the utmost we can hope, is, to render them impotent. The Diminution of _their_ Power adds nothing to our _own_. Repentance is never so permanent or sincere, as when preceded by Pardon; and Favour is, as the polar Attraction, to Inclination. Is there a Man whose Love and Gratitude you desire to engage? Common Sense will direct you to do him a Benefit. Would you bind him to your Service with Hoops of Steel? You must make it his Interest, as well as his Duty, to befriend you.
It is, by no means, my Intention to arraign either the Wisdom or good Policy of our Forefathers. But all Men are, in some Degree, fallible, as well in the congregate, as in the individual; and the Shrewd may err as much, by over-reaching their Aim, as the Ignorant, by falling short, or deviating from it.
But, had a hundred _Pitts_, and a hundred _Cecils_, composed the Senate of our Ancestors, at the Time that those _Penal Laws_ were enacted; had those Laws been ever so wise and so just, so wholesome and necessary, and well suited to the Season; is that a Reason that they should _continue so_ to the End of Time? In a World where nothing is permanent; where Modes, Manners, Principles, and Practice are at a Flux; where Life is uncertain, and all it contains changeable; Nature and Reason will conform to Situation and Circumstance; and where _Causes_ have ceased, in any Degree, the _Consequences_ ought to cease in the same Proportion.
It is not now with _Rome_ as it was in the Days when Princes held her Steed, and Emperors her Stirrup. The Kings of the Earth have, pretty clearly, resumed her Usurpations and Acquisitions of temporal Dominion. It is not now, as it was when she cried Peace! and it became Peace; or when the Breath of her Mandate kindled the Nations to Battle. Even his _Holiness_ is, now, but a poor limited Prince, pent up within his little _Italian_ Demesne. If some few still acknowledge to hold of his Authority, it is a Homage of Words, and not of Facts; they will not acknowledge to hold of his Power. He is restored to the quiet and unenvied Possession of all the Lordship and Interest he can acquire in Heaven. But the Sceptre, even of his spiritual Dominion upon Earth, is, of late, as I take it, most wonderfully shortened.
Matters are much altered with the ecclesiastical World, even since I wrote the Letters that have roused your Spleen. Whether it be through a Decline of the _Romish_ Religion, in particular; or, possibly, through a Decline of all Religion, in general; the pontifical and episcopal Dictatorship and Authority are wofully fallen, from the Chair of Infallibility, where they had been seated by Opinion. The Sons of the most bigotted Ancestors do now perceive, that Piety and Immorality are not rightly consistent. And even the vulgar and ignorant, among the _Roman_ Laity, would grumble at departing from an Inch of their Property, though the Priest should advise, and the Pope, himself, should enjoin it.
But, Sir, if the Change of Times, and Principles, Situation, and Circumstances; if the Change of every Cause that produced those penal Laws, have not availed for a Change of _Consequences_; for some Mitigation or Abatement of their Rigour, toward these my unhappy Brethren, the _Roman Catholics of Ireland_: If no Argument, I say, that is taken from Changes, may avail for the Purpose, I will take one from Permanence and Duration itself, that shall strike Light and Conviction to the Eye of every Beholder; that Power may _gainsay_, but cannot _refute_; that Malevolence may _dispute_, but never can _answer_.
About six Generations have now passed away, according to the Rates of Purchase and Estimate of the Life of Man, since these People have offended in Word or in Deed. No Riotings have been heard in their Houses, no Complainings in their Streets; they have been silent and harmless as Sheep before their Sheerers. Our Parties, Factions, and Insurrections, as they are merrily stiled in _England_, have been all among ourselves; this People were neither Actors nor Partakers therein. They have offered themselves to our Fleets, and to our Armies; to tend our Persons, to till our Grounds, to hew our Wood, and to draw our Water. Where we admit them to fight for us, they have ever proved valiant; where we admit them to serve us, they are found loving, observant, and faithful. Temptations have come to their Doors and called them forth; the Contagion of Rebellion hath broken out among their Neighbours; they have yet remained quiet, and continued untainted; still loyal to their Sovereign, amenable to Government, and submissive to Law, through a long and trying Succession of about seventy Years, they have scarce appeared to repine in the midst of their Calamities.
When I look back on the querulous and restless Nature of Man: When I trace the human Propensities through the Records of Ages and Nations: In all the Histories of those States who had least Cause of Complaint: Throughout the Commonwealths of _Asia Minor_, the _Archipelago_, the _Grecian Continent_, _Italy_, the Islands of the _Mediterranean_, &c. where the RIGHTS OF NATURE, under Forms of various Institution, were ASSERTED BY LIBERTY AND GUARDED BY LAW: Where the ASSURANCE OF PROPERTY gave most REASON FOR CONTENT: I can find but few Instances of any People who, through such a Length of Time, have continued firm and unshaken, in an uninterrupted Loyalty and Submission to Government.
What then, do we look for further? What Proofs do ye yet require, of Peacefulness and Attachment at the Hands of these our Brethren? Is no Period to be put to their State of Probation? Must they _for ever_ keep out upon _Quarantine_, without Harbour or Hopes of Rest or Reconciliation? That were hard, indeed.
If it is Revenge that we seek, they have, already, suffered enough, not for their own Faults, but for the Hostility of their Forefathers. If we seek our Safety, alone; let us chace _them, at once, from Country and Community_; or put an _End to our domestic Fears_, by giving them Cause to defend us.
Indeed, Sir, neither common Sense, nor Sense of any Kind, can possibly suppose, That Acts of Kindness which have been, from the Beginning of the World, the Cement of Friendship to all other People, should prove the reverse to these People alone.
Had they been to us, as the Swallow, in Autumn, who forsakes all Connections on the Approach of Inclemency, I should never have pleaded for any Confidence in them. But a People, who, through a Winter of seventy Years Continuance, have never failed, or forsaken, or given us Cause of Offence, surely merit some Consideration, some grateful and chearing Ray to warm them to a Sense that _Protestants_ are not, by Choice, of a cruel, unforgiving, and malevolent Nature.
Lastly, Sir, as I know you to be a Gentleman of a communicative Disposition, and that you were, formerly, fond of exhibiting the Sentiments of some of your Friends; should you impart this Letter to any of your popish Acquaintance, I doubt they might be apt to give me more Thanks than I am conscious I deserve. It is, therefore, but commonly honest, to advertise you, and them, that while I write in the Favour of _Papists_, the Interest of _Protestants_ is never out of my Eye.
When I thought your Favourites most formidable, I shewed I did not fear them; and now, that I think them impotent, let them not think I flatter.
What I have hitherto hinted is but a narrow opening to the Concerns and Interests of an unhappy Country, whereof I have the Misfortune to be a helpless, though loving, Member. To promote the Advantage of _Ireland_, in any respect, would be, to me, the cardinal Point of the whole Compass of my Ambition; and a subsequent Letter may shew how far my Observations relate to the Decline, or Prosperity, of my Country, whenever you confer the Pleasure of an Answer on,
_Dear_ SIR, _Your truly affectionate_, &c.
_ 1 Dublin_, 1753, _M. Reilly_, Editor.
2 This _Mac Con More Macnamara_, Duke of _Klan Cullane_, founded, erected, and amply endowed the beautiful Abbey of _Quin_; as did other Chieftains of his Name and Family, several Parochial Churches, with a great Number of magnificent Castles.
_ 3 Seasonable Thoughts_, &c. published by _George Faulkner_; _the Case of the Roman Catholics_, and _the Principles of the Roman Catholics_, the two last published by _P. Lord_, in _Cook-street, Dublin_.
4 To all the above Productions of _Ireland_, may be justly added, our inestimable Fisheries, and plentiful Mines, which, under due national Encouragement, would raise immense Treasures.