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William Edward Hartpole Lecky, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. II [1913]

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William Edward Hartpole Lecky, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1878, 1917). 8 Vols. Vol. II. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2030

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About this Title:

Vol. 2 of a 8 volume work which took Lecky 19 years to complete and which made his reputation as a scholar.

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Table of Contents:

Edition: orig; Page: [none]
A HISTORY OF ENGLAND
in the
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
WILLIAM EDWARD HARTPOLE LECKY
VOLUME II.
NEW YORK: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
549 AND 551 BROADWAY.
1878.
Edition: orig; Page: [none] Edition: orig; Page: [[v]]

CONTENTS of THE SECOND VOLUME.

  • CHAPTER V.
    The Colonies and Scotland.
    • The Colonies
    • Favourable circumstances of those of America 1
    • Their early difficulties 3
    • Invasion of charters under the Stuarts 4
    • Effect of the Revolution on the Colonies 4
    • Forms of government 5
    • Rivalry with Spain, Holland, and France 6
    • Commercial policy of the mother country 8
    • Effects of the commercial laws in producing disaffection 11
    • Introduction of criminals into America 12
    • Introduction of slavery. First English slave-hunters 13
    • Growth of the institution after the Peace of Utrecht 14
    • Relations of the Home Government to slavery 15
    • Illustrations of public opinion on the subject 17
    • Causes which drove American slavery southwards 18
    • Puritanical customs 19
    • The theatre 19
    • Inoculation 20
    • Intellectual progress 20
    • Other colonies of England 21
    • Scotland
    • Condition of the Highlands at the beginning of the eighteenth century 24
    • Edition: orig; Page: [vi]Highland superstitions 30
    • Illustrations of Highland fidelity 32
    • Other Highland virtues 35
    • Inverness 36
    • Aberdeen 37
    • Educational establishments 38
    • The Lowlands. Edinburgh 40
    • Miserable state of the Lowlands 41
    • Religious persecution 42
    • Commercial disabilities 42
    • Great poverty and disorder throughout Scotland 43
    • Proposals of Fletcher of Saltoun 44
    • Remedial Measures
    • Ecclesiastical. Establishment of the Kirk 45
    • The parish schools 47
    • Condition of education in Scotland 47
    • The Act of Toleration 49
    • Discontent of the Presbyterians 53
    • Industrial. The Union, its commercial clauses 54
    • Measures of the Scotch tending to independence 55
    • Difficulties in carrying the Union 59
    • Great commercial prosperity following it 62
    • Comparison between the Scotch and Irish Unions 64
    • Pertinacity of discontent at the Union in Scotland 67
    • Improvement of the Highlands
    • Decrease of the Gaelic tongue under the influence of the parish schools 71
    • The Highland roads 71
    • Causes lowering the position of the Highland chiefs 72
    • Abolition of hereditary jurisdiction 73
    • Abolition of the national dress 73
    • Severe measures against the Episcopalians 73
    • The Highland regiments 75
    • Transition from the feudal to the commercial conception of landlords 75
    • Improvement in agriculture 77
    • Decline of mendicancy 78
    • How far legislation can civilise nations 79
    • Scotland in the middle of the eighteenth century still in many ways behind England 81
    • Torture. Serfdom. Judicial and political corruption 81
    • Character of Scotch politicians 82
    • Character of Scotch religion 85
    • Edition: orig; Page: [vii]Narrowness and intolerance 87
    • Witchcraft 87
    • Ascetic tendencies 90
    • Gradual change of manners and belief 92
    • Scotch virtues partly due to industrial habits 97
    • Effects of the Highlands on Scotch character 99
  • CHAPTER VI.
    Ireland before the Eighteenth Century.
    • Contrast between Irish and Scotch history 101
    • Early relations between the English and Irish 102
    • Ireland not thoroughly conquered before Elizabeth 104
    • Savage manner in which the country was subdued 104
    • How far religious considerations entered into the struggle 109
    • The Land War
    • Spirit of adventure after the Reformation drew many speculators to Ireland 111
    • The Irish land system 114
    • The composition of Connaught 114
    • Confiscations under Mary in Leinster 115
    • Confiscations in Munster after Desmond's rebellion 116
    • Payne's description of Munster 117
    • Abolition of tanistry and gavelkind 118
    • Confiscations and settlements in Ulster 118
    • Character of the settlers 119
    • Description of Ulster by Sir John Davis 121
    • Fresh encroachments on Irish land 123
    • Attempt to overthrow the titles in Connaught 125
    • The Graces 126
    • Violated by Wentworth 127
    • The settlement of Connaught deferred 128
    • Religious grievances
    • State of religion in Ireland under Elizabeth 129
    • Disturbances under James I 130
    • Growing Catholic zeal 131
    • Protestant intolerance 132
    • The Puritan Parliament threatens to extirpate Catholicism 134
    • Rebellion of 1641
    • Summary of its causes 135
    • Conduct of the Lords Justices 137
    • Character of the outbreak 140
    • Edition: orig; Page: [viii]Events in Cavan 143
    • In the rest of Ulster 145
    • The Scotch little molested 150
    • Crimes of the Irish. Report of the Commissioners 152
    • Sir Phelim O'Neil 156
    • Exaggerated accounts spread in England 159
    • Motives of exaggeration 160
    • The depositions 161
    • Temple 163
    • Exaggerations at the time of the Act of Settlement 165
    • Carte and Warner 166
    • Conduct of the English Parliament and Lords Justices 169
    • Conduct of the English soldiers 171
    • Attempts of Irish leaders to restrain the horrors of the war 176
    • The religious element 179
    • Suppression of the Rebellion 186
    • The Cromwellian settlement 189
    • The Act of Settlement 191
    • The Revolution
    • Irish Parliament of 1689. Its composition 198
    • Its Acts about religion and repealing Poyning's law 199
    • The repeal of the Act of Settlement 201
    • The Act of Attainder 206
    • Final ruin of the Jacobites 213
  • CHAPTER VII.
    Ireland. 1700–1760.
    • Four Causes of Scotch Progress
    • The establishment of the Kirk; the parochial schools; the destruction of the feudal privileges, and free trade 215
    • Opposite policy pursued in Ireland
    • The Church was that of the rich minority 216
    • Supported by tithes 216
    • The law aimed at the extirpation of the Church of the people 217
    • The Charter schools established 219
    • Their effects 221
    • An absolute Protestant aristocracy created 224
    • Material advantages of Ireland 225
    • Commercial Legislation
    • Irish forbidden to export cattle to England 226
    • Excluded from the Colonial trade 227
    • Edition: orig; Page: [ix]Forbidden to export unmanufactured wool to the Continent 228
    • Forbidden to export manufactured wool 230
    • Effects of the destruction of manufactures 232
    • Extreme poverty. Famine 236
    • The commercial policy of England towards Ireland not peculiar 240
    • Its political consequences 241
    • Subordination of the Irish Parliament. The Revenue 243
    • Constitution of the Irish Parliament 245
    • Chief offices all filled by Englishmen 247
    • Scandalous pensions 248
    • Abuses of Church patronage 249
    • Absence of all efficient control 258
    • Partial restriction of pensions 258
    • Letter of Lucas 259
    • Absenteeism. Its causes and extent 261
    • Its effects on agricultural economy 261
    • The Middlemen and Cottiers 262
    • Agricultural evils aggravated by the penal code 265
    • Spread of pasture 266
    • Nomadic pauperism 273
    • Attempts to diminish it 276
    • Slow growth of population. Proportion of Catholics to Protestants 278
    • Summary of the depressing circumstances of the country. How far due to England 279
    • Emigration of the more energetic Irishmen
    • Early nomadic tendencies of the nation 281
    • Emigration under Elizabeth, James I., and Cromwell 282
    • Accelerated by the Revolution 282
    • The Protestant emigration 283
    • The Catholic emigration 286
    • Irishmen in foreign service 286
    • Effect of this emigration on the national character 288
    • Religious Legislation
    • Systematic degradation of Catholics 289
    • Their condition under Anne 291
    • Their condition in the early Hanoverian period 296
    • Gradual relaxation of the religious disabilities 303
    • Deposition of Bishop Sweetman 304
    • Effects of the Penal Code on the respect for law 306
    • On the character of Irish religion 307
    • On the distribution of property 309
    • On social life 310
    • Edition: orig; Page: [x]Social and political effects of the confiscations
    • Extreme dread of Catholic ascendency 312
    • Schism between the landlords and tenants 312
    • Its effect upon Irish literature 313
    • Upon the character of the gentry 314
    • Many influences conspire to corrupt them 316
    • Their oppression of their tenants 316
    • Duelling, drinking, extravagance 318
    • Irish country life 321
    • Disregard for law 322
    • General character of the Irish gentry 323
    • Character of the Middlemen 324
    • Better aspects of Irish life
    • Intellectual activity 325
    • Dublin Philosophical Society 327
    • The Dublin Society 328
    • Berkeley 330
    • Philanthropy greatly diverted to the Charter schools 331
    • Lord Molesworth 332
    • Synge's Sermon on Toleration 333
    • Tolerant spirit of some of the higher ecclesiastics 335
    • Amelioration of the position of Catholics 338
    • Redeeming features of the Government 341
    • Character of the poor 342
    • Diminution of intolerance 345
    • Description of the country
    • Dublin 346
    • Condition of the roads 355
    • Love of acting 356
    • Increase of travelling 356
    • Diminution of the Irish language 356
    • Provincial newspapers and libraries 357
    • Destruction of woods 358
    • State of agriculture 360
    • The linen manufacture. Growth of Belfast 362
    • The fisheries 363
    • Cork 364
    • Limerick 366
    • Waterford 367
    • Kilkenny 368
    • Galway 368
    • The German colony 373
    • The Huguenots in Ireland 374
    • Edition: orig; Page: [xi]Irish crime
    • Tories and Rapparees 376
    • State of Kerry and Connaught 379
    • The Houghers 382
    • The privateers 388
    • Military disorders 388
    • State of the prisons 389
    • Abductions 390
    • Laws against intermarriages of Catholics and Protestants 403
    • Consequences of these laws 411
    • How far race has been important in Irish history 411
    • How far the faults of the national character are due to religion 417
    • Intensity of conviction formed under the penal laws 420
    • Pilgrimages 421
    • Illustrations of the tolerant character of the Irish 423
    • Freedom of Ireland from the witch mania 426
    • Active disloyalty not prevalent in Ireland 427
    • Catholic bishops nominated by the Pretender 430
    • The Catholics excluded from the British army 430
    • And driven in consequence into foreign service 432
    • Policy of the Government about foreign enlistments 432
    • Conflict between the Anglicans and Dissenters
    • Irish High Churchmen 435
    • The Presbyterians in the North 436
    • Growing animosity 437
    • The Test Act 440
    • Motives of the Bishops in maintaining it 441
    • Interference with Presbyterian ministers 443
    • The Regium Donum 443
    • Controversies about a Toleration Act 444
    • And about an Indemnity Act 445
    • Toleration Act of 1719 445
    • Indemnity Act carried 445
    • Impossibility of repealing the Test 446
    • Causes of the decadence of Presbyterianism 447
    • The New Light schism 447
    • The Associate Presbytery schism 448
    • Conflict between the English and Irish interest
    • The Irish interest purely colonial 449
    • Causes of the discontent that followed the Revolution 450
    • Jacobite project for uniting Protestants and Catholics 450
    • Molyneux 451
    • Petitions for an Union 452
    • Patronage. Primate Boulter 454
    • Edition: orig; Page: [xii]Disputes about money bills 455
    • The jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords taken away 456
    • Swift's tract in favour of an exclusive use of Irish manufactures prosecuted 457
    • Wood's halfpence 459
    • Swift's Irish career 463
    • Minor Acts of the Irish Parliament 465
    • The surplus in 1731 466
    • The Viceroys 466
    • Lucas 467
    • Stone 468
    • Boyle 469
    • Conflict with the Government, 1751–1753 470
    • Formation of a Parliamentary Opposition 470
    • Events from 1753 to 1759 471
    • Improvement of the position of the Catholics 474
    • The expedition of Thurot 475
  • CHAPTER VIII.
    • Death of Pelham leads to the ascendency of the Duke of Newcastle 477
    • His character 477
    • Competition for the leadership of the House of Commons 480
    • Murray—Fox—Pitt 480
    • Appointment of Sir Thomas Robinson 481
    • Conduct of Pitt and Fox 482
    • Reconciliation of Fox and Newcastle 482
    • Hostilities break out between the French and English in America 482
    • General distrust of Newcastle 484
    • Recall of the French ambassador English aggressions in America 486
    • Seizure of French ships 487
    • German subsidies 487
    • Opposed by Pitt 488
    • Dismissal of Pitt 488
    • Changes in the Ministry. Treaty with Prussia 488
    • Alliance between Austria, Russia, and Saxony 489
    • Acceded to by France 490
    • Frederick discovers the plot against him 492
    • Great panic in England. Fears of invasion 492
    • French expedition against Minorca 493
    • Conduct of Byng. Minorca taken by the French 494
    • Disasters in America 494
    • Progress of the French in India. Policy of Dupleix 495
    • Edition: orig; Page: [xiii]English triumph in the Carnatic 496
    • Surajah Dowlah captures Calcutta 496
    • Frederick takes Dresden 497
    • Battle of Lobositz. Capitulation of Saxon Army 497
    • Resignation of Fox 498
    • And of Newcastle 498
    • Fox fails in attempting to form a Ministry 498
    • Ministry of Devonshire and Pitt 498
    • Weakness of the Ministry. Hostility of the King 499
    • Execution of Byng 502
    • Dismissal of Temple and Pitt. Popularity of Pitt 503
    • Interregnum 503
    • Formation of the Coalition Ministry of Newcastle and Pitt 503
    • Condition of parties in England 504
    • Antipathy of the King to Pitt 507
    • Their reconciliation 507
    • William Pitt
    • Character of his eloquence 508
    • Effect of reporting on Parliamentary eloquence 509
    • Nobility of the character of Pitt 515
    • His general sympathy with the popular sentiment 516
    • His courage in opposing it 516
    • His inconsistencies. Retrospect of his career 517
    • Ingratitude to Newcastle 524
    • His arrogance 525
    • His theatrical character 525
    • His attitude to royalty 526
    • The ostentation of his virtues 527
    • His war policy. Disasters that preceded his Ministry 528
    • Convention of Closterseven 530
    • The Duke of Cumberland. Noble conduct of Pitt towards him 531
    • General despondency in the country 531
    • Militia riots 533
    • Battle of Rosbach 534
    • Battle of Leuthen 534
    • The Convention of Closterseven broken 535
    • Attacks of the English on the French coast 535
    • German Campaign of 1758
    • Battle of Zorndorf 536
    • Battle of Hochkirchen 537
    • Relief of Dresden by Frederick 537
    • Edition: orig; Page: [xiv]Battle of Crefeld 537
    • French successes in Hesse 537
    • English conquest of Canada 539
    • Its ultimate consequences 539
    • English naval victories 540
    • New colonies conquered 540
    • Conquest of Hindostan
    • Capture of Calcutta and Hooghly 541
    • Indecisive battle with Surajah Dowlah 541
    • Battle of Plassy 542
    • Death of Surajah Dowlah. Growing power of Clive 542
    • The French in Madras Lally 544
    • Discord among the French commanders 546
    • English victory at sea 546
    • Difficulties of Lally 546
    • Battle of Wandewash 547
    • Destruction of Pondicherry 548
    • Fate of Lally 549
    • Great sacrifices of the English under Pitt 549
    • German Campaign of 1759
    • Perilous position of Frederick. Battle of Zullichau 551
    • Russians take Frankfort. Battle of Kunersdorf 551
    • Dresden taken by the Austrians 552
    • New Prussian disasters 552
    • Battle of Minden 553
    • German Campaign of 1700
    • Measures of Frederick to restore his army 553
    • Unsuccessful attack on Dippoldiswald 553
    • Laudohn invades Silesia 554
    • Unsuccessful attack on Dresden. Battle of Liegnitz 554
    • Austrians plunder Berlin. Battle of Torgan 554
    • Proceedings of Prince Ferdinand 555
    • Charges of recklessness brought against Pitt 555
    • Prosperity of England during his administration 556
    • Pitt's love of war 557
    • Bloodlessness of the English victories 557
    • Power of Pitt to raise the spirits of the nation 558
    • His character as a home minister 560
    • The strength he imparted to English democracy 562
    • His moral influence. Comparison with Wesley 562
    • Relations of Pitt and Walpole 564
    • Death and character of George II 565
  • Edition: orig; Page: [xv]CHAPTER IX.
    The Religious Revival.
    • Causes of the Undogmatic Character of English Theology in the Eighteenth Century
    • Growth of physical science 568
    • Deism not popular among the higher intellects 570
    • Physical science not regarded as anti-theological 571
    • Imperfection of religious history and criticism 573
    • The Deists 575
    • Latent scepticism and growing indifference 577
    • Abandonment of extempore preaching 578
    • The observance of Sunday 579
    • Decadence of the Universities 581
    • Neglect of the Fathers 583
    • Arianism in the Church 583
    • And among the Dissenters 585
    • Hutcheson 586
    • Revolt against articles of faith 587
    • The better side of the theology of the time 592
    • Eclipse of Evangelical doctrines 593
    • Traces of religious life in the beginning of the century 594
    • Influence of Law 596
    • Methodism
    • Its rise at Oxford 598
    • Early life of John Wesley 598
    • His first companions 600
    • Visits Georgia 602
    • His character at this period 602
    • Dissensions at Georgia. Return to England 604
    • Moravian influence 605
    • Conversion of Wesley 607
    • Visit to Herrnhut 608
    • Formation of religious societies 608
    • Missionary work. Conflict with the clergy 609
    • Erection of Methodist chapels 611
    • Whitefield begins field-preaching 611
    • The Wesleys reluctantly follow 612
    • Character of Whitefield 613
    • His position in the Church 615
    • His eloquence 617
    • His influence 623
    • Methodism separates from Moravianism 624
    • Formation of a distinct society in 1740 625
    • Differences between Wesley and Whitefield 625
    • Edition: orig; Page: [xvi]The Calvinistic secession 626
    • Institution of lay preachers in 1741 627
    • Missionary work 627
    • Persecution of the Methodists 628
    • Hostility of the clergy 630
    • Methodists accused of Popery 631
    • Religious terrorism. Physical manifestations 633
    • Religious insanity 636
    • Asceticism 640
    • Belief in contemporary miracles 642
    • In witchcraft 645
    • In special judgments 646
    • Growing fanaticism. The earthquake of 1750 647
    • Moral failings 649
    • Intestine discord 650
    • Great effect of Methodism on the poor 652
    • Its progress in the colonies 653
    • And among different classes in England 654
    • In Wales. State of religion in the Principality 655
    • Griffith Jones 656
    • Howell Harris 657
    • Effects of Methodism in increasing Welsh Nonconformity 659
    • Methodism in Scotland 660
    • And in Ireland. Wesley's journeys there 661
    • Influence of Methodism on the young 665
    • On the army 665
    • On the universities 666
    • On literature 669
    • On the upper classes 670
    • On the Church of England. The Evangelical revival 673
    • Berridge 675
    • Grimshaw 677
    • Romaine 680
    • Other early Evangelicals 681
    • Estimate of the work of Wesley 682
    • His relations to the Church 687
    • Causes that detached Methodism from it 688
    • Later attitude of the Methodists 690
    • Effect of the Evangelical movement in stimulating philanthropy 690
    • In counteracting the revolutionary spirit 691
    • In mitigating the evils accompanying the growth of manufactures 692
    • Religious efficacy of its teaching 694
    • Summary of the evils that spring from it 696
    • Its severance from the intellect of the country 696
    • Its Sabbatarianism 697
    • Its effects on the Catholic question 698

HISTORY OF ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.

Edition: orig; Page: [[1]]

CHAPTER V.: the colonies and scotland.

Among the British dependencies in the middle of the eighteenth century, the first place must be given to the colonies in North America. It was a signal proof of the wisdom of the English legislators of the seventeenth century that they conceded to these colonies, charters which secured them an almost absolute self-government; while the number of the American provinces, and the diversity of the religions of the colonists, led to a much larger measure of religious liberty than existed in Europe. To these two inestimable advantages must be added a country of almost unlimited resources, and a people who, in energy, moral excellence, and practical wisdom, were probably unsurpassed upon the earth. In the present century the immigration of a large foreign population is seldom favourable to the moral condition of a nation. Emigration has become so easy and so familiar that it is the resource of multitudes but little removed from simple pauperism. Men of ordinary characters usually deteriorate when severed from the ties of home traditions, associations, and opinions; and they seldom feel any strong attachment for a country which was not that of their Edition: orig; Page: [2] childhood. But in the seventeenth century the conditions of emigration were essentially different. The difficulties of the enterprise were such that those who encountered them were almost always men of much more than common strength of character, and they were to a very large extent men whose motive in abandoning their country was the intensity of their religious or political convictions. It is the peculiarity of the British colonies in America that they were mainly founded and governed by such men. Puritans in New England, Episcopalians in Virginia, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland—each province contained numbers who, during the persecutions of the Stuarts or of the Commonwealth, had sought in the Western world the opportunity of freely professing their faith. From the time of the Pilgrim Fathers to the time when the Salzburg Protestants flocked to the new colony of Georgia in 1732, America was pre-eminently the home of the refugees; and this fact is, perhaps, the most important in its history. After all that can be said of material and intellectual advantages, it remains true that moral causes lie at the root of the greatness of nations; and it is probable that no nation ever started on its career with a larger proportion of strong characters, or a higher level of moral conviction, than the English colonies in America.

Many other circumstances combined to mark them out as the predestined seat of a great free nation. Founded in nearly every case without any pecuniary assistance from the mother country, and separated from it by 3,000 miles of water, they were, during the earlier stages of their existence, practically almost beyond the knowledge and control of the Government at home; and most of the colonists belonged to those non-episcopal Churches which, by throwing on the people the duties of ecclesiastical government, have been the best schools of political freedom. Without bishops, without peers, without a resident sovereign, without superfluous offices or endowments, with a population consisting almost wholly of freeholders scattered thinly over an immense territory and mainly occupied in agricultural Edition: orig; Page: [3] pursuits, their politics were naturally of the simplest and freest kind; and they almost entirely escaped the corruption that so deeply tainted the Government at home. Their progress, though less rapid than it afterwards became, was eminently healthy and steady. In less than eighty years after the first permanent English settlement there were twelve distinct colonial governments; and the population, which at the time of the Revolution was estimated at about 200,000, had risen to 1,000,000 some years before the middle of the century.1

There were, no doubt, many shadows on the picture. From the nature of their population the American colonies contained a very large amount of the fiercest religious fanaticism; and although in some provinces noble efforts were made to establish freedom of worship, these efforts were altogether exceptional. What religious liberty existed was much more the consequence of the extent of territory, and of the multiplication of provinces, which enabled each sect to find a home, than of the dispositions of the people themselves.2 The history of Salem witchcraft, of the persecution of the Quakers in Massachusetts, and of the suppression of religious liberty in Maryland, as well as a crowd of savage or absurd laws regulating, in the interests of religion, not only the opinions but also the minutest actions of the people, remain to show how far the colonists were from attaining any high general standard of religious freedom. Nor were their faults exclusively those of saints. Their warfare and intercourse with Indians were often marked by gross cruelty or injustice. The practice of kidnapping men at the English, Scotch, or Irish ports, to sell them to American planters, continued far into the eighteenth century; a numerous race of daring pirates found secure homes along the long deserted seaboards of America; and the colonial population, if it contained much of the highest excellence, contained also not a little of the refuse, of Europe. As numbers increased and as the condition of society became more complex, Edition: orig; Page: [4] violent disputes arose in many provinces between the colonists and the proprietary, and they generally ended in an increase of the power of the Crown. The proprietary governments sometimes degenerated into narrow oligarchies; the theocratical laws of New England excited wide and general irritation, and in the last days of the Stuarts there were many conflicts between the Home Government and the colonies. Under Charles II. the charter of Massachusetts was annulled on the pretext of violation of the Navigation Act; under James II. the illegal Declaration of Indulgence was published in the colonies, and the constitutions of Rhode Island, of Connecticut, and of Plymouth were invaded. They were re-established at the Revolution, but that great event was on the whole not favourable to America. While it greatly lowered the royal authority at home, it rather increased it beyond the Atlantic; for the commercial classes who rose to power viewed with extreme jealousy the growing independence of the colonies, and were especially anxious to secure for themselves the most rigid monopoly of trade. William more than once exercised his power of veto against declaratory Acts of the colonial Assemblies tending towards independence, and there was a great desire on the part of the Government to bring all the colonies under the direct management of the Crown. The disputes in some colonies between the colonists and the proprietaries, the embarrassment resulting in time of war from distinct forms of government, the Jacobitism of Penn who had founded one great colony, and the Catholicism of Lord Baltimore who had established another, assisted in the transformation. The charter of Massachusetts was not restored, but a new charter was granted much more favourable to the Crown. Bills were brought in, in 1701 and in 1721, for the resumption of all the colonial charters; and although these bills were not carried, several charters were surrendered in the thirty years that followed the Revolution, and a new system was established more favourable to the supremacy of the Crown.1 It is not necessary Edition: orig; Page: [5] here to follow in detail these changes, which have now lost most of their interest, and it is sufficient to indicate their general scope. In the old proprietary and charter colonies the forms of government were very various, but the great principle was the division of power, in widely differing proportions, between the proprietary and the freeholders; and the colonial legislatures, though restricted in their sphere, were in that sphere almost supreme. In the proprietary colonies, which consisted, at the time of the Revolution, of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Carolina, and Delaware, certain individuals called proprietaries appointed the governors and authorised them to summon legislative assemblies. In the other charter colonies, which then consisted of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, nearly all power resided with the freemen. In the Crown colonies, on the other hand, the government was a faint copy of the English constitution. Every Bill, in order to become law, had to be read three times by the Council and Assembly, and assented to by the Governor. The Governor and the Council, as well as the judges, were appointed by the Crown, but the Assembly was a representative body elected by the colonists. The members of the Council were nominated from among the chief persons in the colony. They discharged the functions not only of a House of Lords but also of a Privy Council to the Governor, and in some cases of a Court of Chancery, but they only held office during pleasure. The Crown did not consider itself bound by the colonial Acts, and reserved to itself a power of subsequent veto in the case of measures which had received the assent of the Governor; and civil cases of the more important kind might be carried on appeal to England. In 1696 a law was passed modifying the condition of the charter colonies,1 enjoining that no proprietors should dispose of their land, without licence from the sovereign, to any but British subjects, conferring on the Crown a negative upon the Governors, who were nominated by the proprietors, and asserting the nullity of any colonial Act or usage that was repugnant to English Acts Edition: orig; Page: [6] relating to the colonies. To maintain the complete ascendency of the British Parliament over all colonial authorities became a fundamental maxim, and each change in government was intended to strengthen the influence of the Crown. During the peaceful administration of Walpole, however, the moderation of the Government extended to the colonies, and the happy neglect of Newcastle, to whose department they belonged, was probably on the whole very conducive to their prosperity.1

They had long eclipsed all rivals in North America. The great extent of Spanish territory which spread to the south of the British colonies was afflicted with that political atrophy which had passed over the other parts of the once mighty empire to which it belonged; and the Dutch, who in so many quarters rivalled or surpassed the colonial enterprise of England, had been long driven from North America. New Netherlands, captured by the English in 1664, was confirmed as a British possession by the Peace of 1667, the Dutch retaining, as a compensation, the colony of Surinam, in Guiana, which they had taken from the English. New Amsterdam, the capital of the Dutch settlement in North America, consisted chiefly of small thatched houses, and was so poor and so mean that the English general complained that he was unable to find in the town, bedding for his soldiers. In compliment to the brother of the King, it was called by its conquerors New York—a name destined to occupy a great space in the eyes of the world. The French settlements were more important, but they were dwarfed and stunted by a restrictive and centralised, though not unskilful, system of government;1 Edition: orig; Page: [7] and when the Revolution involved the two nations in war, the superior force of the English colonies was so manifest that William refused the offer of colonial neutrality which had been made by Lewis. The French settlers at the time of the Revolution were officially reckoned at not more than 11,249 persons, about a twentieth part of the population of the English colonies.2 They were scattered over Canada, Acadia, Newfoundland, and the borders of Hudson's Bay; they laid claim to large tracts of almost uninhabited territory, which were under British rule; and though each nation possessed, beyond dispute, tracts immeasurably greater than it could occupy, a keen competition existed between them. A long series of wars, rendered very horrible by the employment on both sides of Indian auxiliaries, ensued. The Peace of Ryswick did not alter the relative positions of the two nations, as it provided that each should possess the territories it occupied before the war, and that commissioners should be appointed to settle the disputed frontier. The Peace of Utrecht advanced greatly the English power, for Newfoundland, Acadia, now called Nova Scotia, and the borders of Hudson's Bay, passed into their possession, but the frontier line continued ill-defined, and a subject of perpetual dispute. The French endeavoured with great energy to repair their disasters. They occupied Cape Breton, which commanded the St. Lawrence, and erected there the powerful fortifications of Louisburg. They strengthened their new colony of Louisiana, founded New Orleans in 1718, and encroached steadily on what was claimed as English territory along the Ohio and the Alleghany. The establishment of Georgia brought the English colonists into closer connection with the Spaniards; and during the war of the Austrian succession Oglethorpe carried on hostilities with skill and daring along the disputed frontiers of Georgia and Florida. In the north the English Edition: orig; Page: [8] colonists obtained a brilliant triumph by the capture of Louisburg and consequent subjugation of Cape Breton; and, by a singular stroke of good fortune, a great French expedition against Nova Scotia in 1746 was dispersed and shattered by two furious storms. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle left the American frontiers almost unchanged, for Cape Breton was restored to the French in compensation for Madras, but the foundation of Halifax contributed much to strengthen the great ascendency of England; and the whole white population of French America, about the middle of this century, was said not to have been more than 52,000, while that of British America was reckoned at 1,051,000.

The real evil of the colonies lay in the commercial policy of the mother country—in the system of restrictions intended to secure for England a monopoly of the colonial trade, and to crush every manufacture that could compete with English industry. It was a policy which sprang, in a great degree, from that mercantile theory which denied the possibility of a commerce mutually beneficial to the parties engaged in it. It was strengthened by the Revolution, which gave commercial interests and the commercial classes a new pre-eminence in English legislation, and it had political consequences of the gravest character. In a very few instances, it is true, it was considered an English interest to encourage colonial produce. Thus Virginia, though afterwards forbidden to export her tobacco to any foreign country, had obtained under the first two Stuarts, in conjunction with Bermuda, a monopoly of the English market, and the cultivation of tobacco at home was absolutely forbidden.1 For a long time the tar and pitch of the British navy had come chiefly from Sweden, but that power having conferred the monopoly of the trade upon a mercantile company the price was inordinately raised. Under these circumstances the Ministers resolved to secure the materials for the navy from the British colonies, and Acts were accordingly passed, in 1703 Edition: orig; Page: [9] and 1711, encouraging by bounties, the import from the American colonies, of tar, pitch, hemp, masts, and yards, and at the same time reserving all pine-trees of certain specified dimensions, that were not private property, for his Majesty's navy.1

But with these exceptions, the laws were almost wholly restrictive. The famous Navigation Acts, intended to exclude foreigners from the trade, provided that all vessels trading to or from the plantations should be built in England or the plantations, and limited both the export and import trade, as far as the most important articles were concerned, to the British dominions.2 Another measure declared in its preamble that the woollen manufacture, which had begun to rise among the colonists, ‘would inevitably sink the value of lands’ in England; and it proceeded utterly to destroy the inter-colonial trade by enacting that, ‘after the 1st of December, 1699, no wool or manufacture made or mixed with wool, being the produce of any of the English plantations in America, shall be loaden in any ship or vessel, upon any pretence whatever, nor loaden upon any horse, cart, or other carriage, to be carried out of the English plantations to any other of the said plantations, or to any other place whatever.’3 In 1719 the House of Commons resolved ‘that the erecting of manufactories in the colonies tended to lessen their dependence upon Great Britain.’ In 1721 George I., when opening Parliament, recommended the policy of deriving the naval stores from the North American colonies, on the express ground that ‘the cultivation of this useful and advantageous branch of commerce would divert the colonies from setting up manufactures which directly interfered with those of Great Britain.’ Iron existed largely in the colonies; and in a new country covered with unfelled timber, and depending mainly on ship-building, the trade of the smith Edition: orig; Page: [10] was of pre-eminent importance. But the English House of Commons, in the interests of the English manufacturer, passed a measure in 1719 that none of the American colonies should manufacture iron of any kind; that no smith might make so much as a bolt, a spike, or a nail; and the House of Lords added a clause to the effect that no forge should be erected in any of the colonies for making ‘sows, pigs, or cast-iron into bar or rod-iron.’1 Such a measure would have hopelessly ruined the colonies, and it raised so vehement an opposition that it was dropped; but the export of American iron to the mother country was restrained by heavy duties till 1750. The introduction of pig and bar-iron was then freely admitted; but in order that the American manufacture should never rise above the most rudimentary stage, it was provided that no mill or other engine for rolling iron, or furnace for making steel, should be permitted in the colonies.2 No part of the world possessed furs in greater abundance, or of finer quality, than North America; and it was therefore obviously absurd that all hats should be imported from the mother country: but no sooner had the colonists began to make their own hats than the English hatters took the alarm, and Parliament in 1732 made a law forbidding the exportation of American hats, not only to foreign countries and to the mother country, but even from one colony to another, and at the same time providing that no colonist should pursue the trade unless he had served a seven years' apprenticeship, should have more than two apprentices at a time, or should teach the industry to negroes.3 The measure was successful, and an industry in which the colonies were naturally peculiarly fitted to excel speedily languished. The colonists were accustomed to send large quantities of provisions and lumber to the French West Indian colonies, and to bring back in return rum, sugar, and molasses. The English sugar colonies complained, and a law was passed in 1733 imposing heavy penalties on all rum, sugar, and molasses Edition: orig; Page: [11] imported into America except from the British colonies.1 It was, indeed, found impossible to enforce this law, but it long remained unrepealed upon the statute book.

In this manner England made it a fixed maxim of her commercial policy to repress the prosperity of her colonies by crushing every rising industry that could possibly compete with the home market. On the other hand, it must be admitted that she hitherto abstained from deriving from them a direct revenue, and it must be added that some system of commercial restraint was universally pursued, and that the English system was not sufficiently severe to counteract the great material and political advantages of her colonies. Farming and shipbuilding, the trade in furs, provisions, tar, and pitch, the magnificent cod fisheries of Newfoundland, and the whale fishery, which had received a new impulse through the invention of a gun by which the harpoon could be plunged from a great distance into the body of the fish, were the chief sources of colonial wealth; and there was also a considerable linen manufacture created by Irish emigrants, and a large smuggling trade which it was happily impossible to suppress. The country was growing rapidly richer, though its progress was seriously retarded, and though many of its natural capacities were paralysed by law. But the political alienation which was the inevitable and most righteous consequence of these laws had already begun, and it is to the antagonism of interests they created, much more than to the Stamp Act or to any isolated instances of misgovernment, that the subsequent disruption must be ascribed.2 To a sagacious observer of colonial politics two facts were becoming evident. The one was that the deliberate and malignant selfishness of English commercial legislation Edition: orig; Page: [12] was digging a chasm between the mother country and the colonies which must inevitably, when the latter had become sufficiently strong, lead to separation. The other was that the presence of the French in Canada was an essential condition of the maintenance of the British Empire in America. It was a perpetual danger to the colonists, and as long as the French Canadians were assisted by France it was impossible for the British colonists to dispense with the assistance of England. By ordinary statesmen these things appear to have been altogether unperceived, but even at the time we are considering there were those who foretold them. In 1748 the Swedish traveller Kalm, having described in vivid colours the commercial oppression under which the colonists were suffering, and the growing coldness of their feelings towards the mother country, added these remarkable words:—‘I have been told, not only by native Americans, but by English emigrants publicly, that within thirty or fifty years the English colonies in North America may constitute a separate State entirely independent of England. But as this whole country towards the sea is unguarded, and on the frontier is kept uneasy by the French, these dangerous neighbours are the reason why the love of these colonies for their metropolis does not utterly decline. The English Government has, therefore, reason to regard the French in North America as the chief power which urges their colonies to submission.’1

The commercial disabilities were not the only grievances under which the colonies laboured. Another—which, however, never attained any very serious proportions—was the influx of English criminals. The system of selling English criminals to the colonists for a limited period of servitude may, indeed, be traced back to a much earlier period, but it was revived or increased by a statute of George I.,2 and it introduced a very pernicious element into colonial life.3 Another, and a much more terrible evil was the rapid multiplication of negro slaves. Of Edition: orig; Page: [13] all the many forms of suffering which man has inflicted upon man, with the exception of war, and, perhaps, of religious persecution, the slave trade has probably added most largely to the sum of human misery, and in the first half of the eighteenth century it occupied the very foremost place in English commerce. The first Englishman who took part in it appears to have been John Hawkins, who sailed in 1562 with three ships to Sierra Leone, where he secured, ‘partly by the sworde and partly by other meanes,’ some 300 negroes, whom he transported to Hispaniola. The enterprise proving successful he made a much more considerable expedition in 1564 to the coast of Guinea, the English ‘going every day on shore to take the inhabitants with burning and spoiling their towns,’ and the achievement was so highly considered at home that he was knighted by Elizabeth, and selected for his crest a manacled negro. It is a slight fact, but full of a ghastly significance as illustrating the state of feeling prevailing at the time, that the ship in which Hawkins sailed on his second expedition to open the English slave trade was called ‘The Jesus.’1 The traffic in human flesh speedily became popular. A monopoly of it was granted to the African Company, but it was invaded by numerous interlopers, and in 1698 the trade was thrown open to all British subjects. It is worthy of notice that while by the law of 1698 a certain percentage was exacted from other African cargoes for the maintenance of the forts along that coast, cargoes of negroes were especially exempted, for the Parliament of the Revolution desired above all things to encourage the trade.2 Nine years before, a convention had been made between England and Spain for supplying the Spanish West Indies with slaves from the island of Jamaica,3 and it has been computed that between 1680 and 1700 the English tore from Africa about 300,000 negroes, or about 15,000 every year.4

The great period of the English slave trade had, however, Edition: orig; Page: [14] not yet arrived. It was only in 1713 that it began to attain its full dimensions. One of the most important and most popular parts of the Treaty of Utrecht was the contract known as the Assiento, by which the British Government secured for its subjects during thirty years an absolute monopoly of the supply of slaves to the Spanish colonies. The traffic was regulated by a long and elaborate treaty, guarding among other things against any possible scandal to the Roman Catholic religion from the presence of heretical slave-traders, and it provided that in the thirty years from 1713 to 1743 the English should bring into the Spanish West Indies no less than 144,000 negroes, or 4,800 every year, that during the first twenty-five years of the contract they might import a still greater number on paying certain moderate duties, and that they might carry the slave trade into numerous Spanish ports from which it had hitherto been excluded. The monopoly of the trade was granted to the South Sea Company, and from this time its maintenance, and its extension both to the Spanish dominions and to her own colonies, became a central object of English policy. A few facts will show the scale on which it was pursued. From Christmas 1752 to Christmas 1762 no less than 71,115 negroes were imported into Jamaica.1 In a despatch written at the end of 1762, Admiral Rodney reports that in little more than three years 40,000 negroes had been introduced into Guadaloupe.2 In a discussion upon the methods of making the trade more effectual, which took place in the English Parliament in 1750, it was shown that 46,000 negroes were at this time annually sold to the English colonies alone.3 A letter of General O'Hara, the Governor of Senegambia, written in 1766, estimates at the almost incredible figure of 70,000 the number of negroes who during the preceding fifty years had been annually shipped from Africa.4 A distinguished modern historian, after a careful comparison of the materials we possess, declares that in the century preceding the prohibition of the slave trade by the Edition: orig; Page: [15] American Congress, in 1776, the number of negroes imported by the English alone, into the Spanish, French, and English colonies can, on the lowest computation, have been little less than three millions, and that we must add more than a quarter of a million, who perished on the voyage and whose bodies were thrown into the Atlantic.1

These figures are in themselves sufficiently eloquent. No human imagination, indeed, can conceive, no pen can adequately portray, the misery they represent. Torn from the most distant parts of Africa, speaking no common language, connected by no tie except that of common misfortune, severed from every old association and from all they loved, and exchanging, in many cases, a life of unbounded freedom for a hopeless, abject, and crushing servitude, the wretched captives were carried across the waste of waters in ships so crowded and so unhealthy that, even under favourable circumstances, about twelve in every hundred usually died from the horrors of the passage. They had no knowledge, no rights, no protection against the caprices of irresponsible power. The immense disproportion of the sexes consigned them to the most brutal vice. Difference of colour and difference of religion led their masters to look upon them simply as beasts of burden, and the supply of slaves was too abundant to allow the motive of self-interest to be any considerable security for their good treatment. Often, indeed, it seemed the interest of the master rather to work them rapidly to death and then to replenish his stock. All Africa was convulsed by civil wars and infested with bands of native slave-dealers hunting down victims for the English trader, whose blasting influence, like some malignant providence, extended over mighty regions where the face of a white man was never seen.

It has been frequently stated that England is responsible for the introduction of negro slavery into British America; but this assertion will not stand the test of examination. The first cargo of negro slaves introduced into North America is said to Edition: orig; Page: [16] have been conveyed by a Dutch vessel to Virginia in 1620.1 Slavery existed in New York and New Jersey when they were still Dutch; in Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania when they were still subject to proprietary governments. Its encouragement only became an object of the colonial policy of England at the time of the Peace of Utrecht, but before that date it had been planted in every British colony in North America, had become eminently popular among the colonists, and had been sanctioned by many enactments issuing from colonial legislatures. It is, however, true that from a very early period a certain movement against it may be detected in some American States, that there was, especially in the Northern Provinces, a great and general dislike to the excessive importation of negroes, and that every attempt to prohibit or restrict that importation was rebuked and defeated by England.2 As early as 1701 we find a petition in favour of the emancipation of negroes presented to the representatives of Boston. In 1703 a duty of 4l. was imposed on every slave introduced into Massachusetts. After the Peace of Utrecht many States, and among others South Carolina itself, remonstrated and struggled against the vast importation of slaves. They had, however, no power to prohibit it by law. Several English Acts of Parliament were passed to encourage the slave trade,3 the State Governors were forbidden to give the necessary assent to any measures restricting it, and the English pursued this policy steadily to the very eve of the Revolution. As late as 1775 we find Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies and one of the most conspicuous leaders of the English religious world, Edition: orig; Page: [17] answering the remonstrance of a colonial agent in these memorable words: ‘We cannot allow the colonies to check or discourage in any degree a traffic so beneficial to the nation.’1

It has been computed that up to the year 1740 the number of negroes who had been introduced into the North American colonies was nearly 130,000, and that by 1776 it was rather more than 300,000.2 The causes that, at a later period, gave a much greater extension to American slavery, and the philanthropic movement in opposition to the slave trade, will find their place in a later portion of this book. In the first half of the eighteenth century the colonial opposition to the importation of slaves arose almost exclusively from economical and political reasons—from the effect of the excessive supply upon prices, and from the grave dangers resulting from the presence of a vast population of captives. In 1711 there was a violent panic in New York and nineteen victims perished, on account of an alleged negro plot to burn the city.3 In 1738 a serious insurrection of negroes was excited by the Spaniards in South Carolina, and the colonists of Jamaica were compelled to make a treaty with fugitive slaves whom they were unable to subdue.4 A few isolated protests against slavery based on religious principles were heard, but they had no echo from the leading theologians. Jonathan Edwards, who occupied the first place among those born in America, left among other property, a negro boy. Berkeley had slaves when in Rhode Island, and appears to have felt no scruples on the subject, though he protested, with his usual humanity, against ‘the irrational contempt of the blacks.’5 The article in the charter of Georgia forbidding slavery, being extremely unpopular among the colonists, was repealed in 1749; and it is melancholy to record that one of the most prominent and influential advocates of the introduction of slavery into the colony was George Whitefield. In Edition: orig; Page: [18] Georgia there was an express stipulation for the religious instruction of the slaves; it is said that those in or about Savannah have always been noted in America for their piety,1 and the advantage of bringing negroes within the range of the Gospel teaching was a common argument in favour of the slave trade. The Protestants from Salzburg for a time had scruples, but they were reassured by a message from Germany: ‘If you take slaves in faith,’ it was said, ‘and with intent of conducting them to Christ, the action will not be a sin but may prove a benediction.’2 In truth, however, but little zeal was shown in the work of conversion. Many who cordially approved of the slavery of pagans questioned whether it was right to hold Christians in bondage; there was a popular belief that baptism would invalidate the legal title of the master to his slave,3 and there was a strong and general fear lest any form of education should so brace the energies of the negro as to make him revolt against his lot. Of the extent to which this latter feeling was carried, one extraordinary instance of a later period may be given. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent missionaries to convert the free negroes in Guinea, on the Gold Coast, and in Sierra Leone; but it was itself a large slaveowner, possessing numerous slaves on an estate in Barbadoes. In 1783 Bishop Porteus strongly urged upon the managers of the Society the duty of at least giving Christian instruction to these slaves; but, after a full discussion, the recommendation was absolutely declined.4

In the American States slavery speedily gravitated to the South. The climate of the Southern provinces was eminently favourable to the negroes; and the crops, and especially the rice crop—which had been introduced into South Carolina from Edition: orig; Page: [19] Madagascar in 1698—could hardly be cultivated by whites. In the Northern provinces the conditions were exactly reversed. We can scarcely have a better illustration of the controlling action of the physical on the moral world than is furnished by this fact. The conditions of climate which made the Northern provinces free States and the Southern provinces slave States established between them an intense social and moral repulsion, kindled mutual feelings of the bitterest hatred and contempt, and in our own day produced a war which threatened the whole future of American civilisation.

But in spite of these grave evils, the American provinces in the period I am describing were rapidly advancing. The old Puritanical fervour and simplicity, strengthened as it was by the influx of many persecuted Protestants, may still be sometimes detected. At the close of the seventeenth century, ‘travel, play, and work on the Lord's day,’ were prohibited in Massachusetts by law; and injunctions were given to constables ‘to restrain all persons from swimming in the waters, unnecessary and unreasonable walking in the streets or fields of the town of Boston or other places, keeping open their shops or following their secular occasions or recreations in the evening preceding the Lord's day, or any part of the said day or evening following.’ Adultery was punished by public whipping and by compelling the culprit to wear a large A sewn on his coat.1 In the following century we find in the same State one law for the suppression of lotteries, another for ‘the prevention of idleness and immorality,’ a third for discouraging extraordinary expenses at funerals and forbidding funeral scarves, a fourth prohibiting all dramatic representations.2 The last Act was due to the indignation produced by some young Englishmen who got up, in a Boston coffee-house, a representation of Otway's ‘Orphan;’ and it is worthy of notice that professional acting was not introduced into the English colonies of America till 1752. A London theatrical company then visited the colonies, but the Edition: orig; Page: [20] law prohibited them from appearing in Massachusetts or Connecticut.1 In general, however, the increase of wealth was bringing with it a more luxurious type of civilisation which often surprised the traveller from England,2 and the standard of intelligence was very high. In 1721, in the very year when inoculation first appeared in England, it was introduced into Boston by Cotton Mather.3 Having seen in the ‘Transactions of the Royal Society’ some letters from Turkey describing its advantages he succeeded in inducing a physician named Boylston to join with him in his crusade; he obtained the support of the leading Puritan ministers at Boston, and in spite of a furious opposition—during which his life was more than once seriously threatened — he at last brought the practice into common use. It is a curious fact that Cotton Mather, who on this occasion showed himself so much in advance of his time, was the same man who thirty years before was the chief agent in the most ferocious persecution of witches ever known in America.4 The first printing press in North America is said to have been set up at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1638, Harvard College was founded in the same year, and it was followed in 1693 by William and Mary College, in Virginia, and in 1701 by Yale College, in Connecticut.5 Free schools had early been established in New England, and in the beginning of the eighteenth century an American press gradually grew up. The first American newspaper appeared at Boston in 1704, and by 1740 there were eleven in the colonies.6 A considerable public library was founded at Philadelphia in 1742, and another at Newport in Edition: orig; Page: [21] Rhode Island in 1747.1 Franklin, the greatest natural philosopher and one of the greatest writers America has produced, about this time rose to notice; and his discovery in 1752 of the lightning-conductor was probably the most important that any British subject had made for more than a generation. Jonathan Edwards, the most acute of American metaphysicians, was now in the zenith of his fame; and when, a few years later, the hour arrived for the final rupture with England, it was found that the British colonies had formed a generation of men who were fully competent to guide the destinies of a nation.

The American provinces were by far the most important of the English colonies, and England, as a colonial power, had in the first half of the eighteenth century no pretensions to that complete pre-eminence which she afterwards obtained. Spain and Portugal, indeed, the great colonial Powers of the past, though still possessing mighty territories, were already in their decadence; but France, from the time of Colbert, had entered vigorously into the field, and Holland in a great part of the world considerably overbalanced the influence of England. In that great Indian Empire which now counts more than 180 millions of subjects, England in the middle of the century possessed little more than Bombay, Madras, Fort William in Bengal, and a few scattered factories. The whole coast, ports, and forts of the rich island of Ceylon were in the hands of the Dutch, whose factories rivalled those of England on the mainland, and who had acquired dominion, influence, or commercial preponderance in the Spice Islands, in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, and many neighbouring islands, in the peninsula of Malacca, and in the kingdoms of Siam and of Aracan. The Dutch at this time almost monopolised the important trade in cinnamon, nutmegs, cloves, and spice; they were the only Europeans who had commercial relations with Japan, and in Africa they were the sovereigns of the Cape of Good Hope. The French colonies at Pondicherry, the Isle of France, and the Isle of Bourbon, fostered as they were by the skill of Dupleix Edition: orig; Page: [22] and La Bourdonnais, seriously threatened the English dominions in Hindostan, and, as we have seen, Madras was at one time in their power. The two English East India Companies whose rivalry played so great a part in the politics of the years that followed the Revolution, had been amalgamated in 1702. Among the articles imported from India were printed and dyed calicoes, which began to come into fashion in England under William and Mary, and the demand for them was soon so great as for a few years to add very largely to Indian prosperity. But the jealousy of the manufacturers at home was soon aroused, and as usual they speedily succeeded in crushing the rival trade. A law passed in 1699 and renewed in 1721, absolutely prohibited under severe penalties the use of all Indian silks, stuffs, and printed or dyed calicoes in apparel, household stuffs, or furniture in England.1 The Island of St. Helena, which had been abandoned by the Dutch in 1651, proved of great importance as a station for provisioning English ships to India, and there were a few English factories along the Persian Gulf, and in the Islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

In the West Indies it was estimated towards the middle of the eighteenth century that the English possessions contained about 90,000 whites and at least 230,000 negroes.2 Jamaica, which was the most important of the British islands, had long been a favourite resort of the buccaneers or pirates who infested the Spanish waters. It derived great wealth from its clandestine trade with Spanish America, and it was one of the chief depots of the slave trade. Its government was the most valuable in the gift of the Crown, next to that of Ireland, the total emoluments of the post being little less than 10,000l. a year. The prosperity of the island, however, had been clouded by some great calamities, and its old capital, Port Royal, had three times in thirty years been reduced to ruins. It had been destroyed by a great earthquake in 1692, by a great fire about ten years later, and by a terrific hurricane in 1722. From this time Edition: orig; Page: [23] the seat of government was transferred to Kingston. Barbadoes, which ranked next to Jamaica in importance and before it in the date of its settlement, was much more thickly populated in proportion to its size, but it seems to have somewhat declined since the period of the Restoration. Shortly after that event Charles II. had marked his sense of its importance by creating no less than thirteen baronets out of its leading men. The growth of the French sugar islands, the settlement of Antigua, St. Christopher, Nevis, and Montserrat, the progress of Jamaica, and a great pestilence which swept over the island in 1692, diminished the relative importance of Barbadoes, but it still carried on a large trade in sugar, rum, molasses, cotton, ginger, and aloes, and it supported a militia of near 5,000 men. The Anglican religion was established in each of the English West India isles. The system of government was like that in the Crown colonies of America. Each island possessed a representative assembly, and although they were much hampered by the commercial policy of the mother country, they enjoyed in their internal affairs a large measure of self-government.1 It was computed in 1734 that the English sugar islands produced annually about 85,000 hogsheads of sugar, that 300 sail of ships visited them every year from Great Britain besides those from the English colonies, and that they annually received British manufactures to the value of 240,000l.2 There were, however, bitter complaints that the French sugar plantations of St. Domingo, Guadaloupe, Martinico, and other less considerable islands, had so rapidly increased that they rivalled or surpassed those of England.3

Much more important to England than any changes that were effected in these distant colonies were those which were produced nearer home. No period in the history of Scotland is more momentous than that between the Revolution and the middle of the eighteenth century, for in no other period did Scotland Edition: orig; Page: [24] take so many steps on the path that leads from anarchy to civilisation. In the beginning of the eighteenth century the Highlands were almost wholly inaccessible to the traveller. They were for the most part traversed only by rude horse-tracks, without any attempt to diminish the natural difficulties of the country. They were inhabited by a population speaking a language different from that of England, scarcely ever intermarrying with Lowlanders, living habitually with arms in their hands, sunk in the lowest depths of barbarism, and divided into a number of kingdoms, that were practically as distinct and independent as those of the Heptarchy. By law the chief had an hereditary jurisdiction over his vassals extending ‘to the pit and to the gallows,’ to the execution of capital punishment by drowning and hanging; but the law was a very feeble and inadequate expression of his real power. It is, indeed, no exaggeration to say that the decisions of Parliament and of the tribunals were long absolutely inoperative in the Highlands. The chief could determine what king, what government, what religion his vassals should obey; his word was the only law they respected; a complete devotion to his interests, an absolute obedience to his commands, was the first and almost the single article of their moral code. Combining in his own person the characters of king, general, landlord, and judge, he lived with his vassals on terms of the utmost familiarity, but he ruled them with all the authority of an oriental despot, and he rarely appeared abroad without a retinue of ten or twelve armed men.1 The law could never touch him. Captain Burt, who visited the Highlands about 1730, found an English footman, who had been lured to the Highlands, enslaved by one of these chiefs, Edition: orig; Page: [25] and his return to freedom was hopeless. Sometimes the chief had a regular executioner in his service,1 and for the slightest cause he could have those who offended him either deliberately assassinated or executed after a mock trial, conducted by his own followers. Sometimes he would grant the temporary use of his power to his guest, and promise him the pleasure of seeing anyone who had offended him hanging next morning before his window, unless he preferred his head as a memorial of Highland courtesy.2 ‘Almost every chief,’ said a traveller, ‘had in some remote valley, in the depths of woods and rocks, whole tribes of thieves in readiness to let loose against his neighbours when, for some public or private reason, he did not judge it expedient to resent openly some real or imaginary affront.’3

Not unfrequently the chiefs increased their scanty incomes by kidnapping boys or men, whom they sold as slaves to the American planters.4 Generations of an idle and predatory life had produced throughout the Highlands the worst vices of barbarians. The slightest provocation was avenged with blood. Fierce contests between chiefs and clans were perpetuated from age to age, and the pile of stones, which marked the spot where a Highlander had fallen, preserved through many generations the memory of the feud.5 In war the Highlanders usually gave no quarter. Their savage, merciless ferocity long made them the terror of their neighbours.6 Few episodes in British history are more terrible than that which occurred in 1678, when Edition: orig; Page: [26] Lauderdale let loose 8,000 Highlanders to punish the obstinate Presbyterianism of the western counties by living in free quarters among them. For three months they committed every variety of atrocity that human malignity could conceive; torturing some with thumb-screws, scorching others before vast fires, tearing children from their mothers, foully abusing women, plundering and devastating everything within their range.1 Far into the eighteenth century no stranger could settle among the clans. If he did, his house was burnt, his cattle were killed or maimed, and he himself was happy if he escaped with life.2 Manual labour was looked upon with contempt. Most forms of field-labour were habitually done by the women, while the husband and the son looked on in idleness, or devoted themselves to robbing or begging.3 Plunder was the passion, the trade, the romance of the Highlander. In war his admirable courage and endurance were almost neutralised by the predatory instinct that led him in the midst of the battle to turn aside to plunder the wounded or the dead, or to fly in the most critical moments, to his mountain fastnesses in order to secure his booty. Lord Edition: orig; Page: [27] Kames has very happily observed that the Highlanders, till after the rebellion of 1745, were precisely in the moral condition of the Germans as described by Cæsar, among whom robbery carried with it no reproach, if it were committed beyond the borders of their canton or their tribe.1 The whole line of the Lowlands contiguous to the Highlands was infested with predatory bands, driving off, or as it was termed ‘lifting’ cattle, especially at Michaelmas, when they were in a fit condition for the market. These expeditions carried with them no sense of immorality and dishonour, and when undertaking them the Highlanders, it was said, ‘prayed as earnestly to Heaven for success as if they were engaged in the most laudable design.’2 At one time every young chief, on coming of age, was expected in this manner to prove his manhood.3 From this source the chiefs obtained the rewards for their numerous followers, and sometimes dowries for their daughters. A regular tribute, called ‘black mail,’ was paid in defiance of the law, to some neighbouring chief, by most of the Lowlanders whose land adjoined the Highlands, to secure them against depredations. If it were neglected, the cattle of the farmer were soon driven away, and the only hope of recovering them was by the payment of ‘tascall,’ or compensation money, to some powerful Highlander. Even if the thieves were captured, they were seldom prosecuted, for few farmers dared to incur the vengeance of the clan, who would descend by night to burn the houses and to hough the cattle of those who offended them. It was computed in 1747 that cattle to the value of 5,000l. were annually stolen in this manner from the Lowland border; that the expense of fruitless efforts to recover them amounted to at least 2,000l.; that the additional expense of herds and watchmen to guard against the Highlanders was about 10,000l.; that 5,000l. was annually paid in black mail; and that the lands were understocked by Edition: orig; Page: [28] reason of thefts to such an extent as amounted to a loss of at least 15,000l.1 Of the extraordinary impotence of the law in the early years of the eighteenth century, even in the southern extremity of the Highlands, we have a striking instance in the career of Robert Macgregor, the well-known Rob Roy. For more than twenty years he carried on a private war with the Duke of Montrose, driving away his cattle, intercepting his rents, levying contributions on his tenants, and sometimes, in broad daylight, carrying away his servants. He did this—often under the protection of the Duke of Argyle—in a country that was within thirty miles of the garrison towns of Stirling and Dumbarton, and of the important city of Glasgow, and although a small garrison had been planted at Inversnaid for the express purpose of checking his depredations. He at last died peacefully on his bed in 1736 at the patriarchal age of eighty.

If such things could be on the borders of Loch Lomond, we can easily imagine the barbarous condition of the North. The very rudiments of civilisation had scarcely penetrated to the mountains. From Dunkeld to Inverness, which was about one hundred miles, and from thence to the Western Sea, including the western islands, there was in the middle of the eighteenth century not a single town or village that could contain the rudest court of justice, nor was there any inn or other accommodation for travellers till a few were built by General Wade shortly after the rebellion of 1715. Of this large tract of country, no part was cultivated except a few spots in straths or glens, by the sides of rivers, brooks, or lakes, and on the sea-coast and in the western islands.2 The population lived by the produce of their cattle, or by the chase. Iron was hardly known except in the form of weapons. The plough was a piece of wood that scratched the earth; the spades were made of wood; table-knives were rarely or never laid upon the Edition: orig; Page: [29] table. The only mills for grinding corn were hand-querns turned by a woman's hand.1 In some of the Western Highlands the harrow was attached to the tail of the horse, and drawn without any harness whatever.2 The rents were usually paid in kind.3 Potatoes, except as a rare garden vegetable, were unknown in Scotland till the reign of George III.4; field turnips were extremely rare;5 wheat was confined to the Lowlands;6 and, except some scanty crops of oats, cattle were almost the only form of Highland produce. In the complete absence of all industrial pursuits, there were few purchasers and few changes, but a dead level of the most abject poverty. In bad seasons a little milk and a small quantity of oatmeal were mixed with blood drawn from a living cow, and boiled together into cakes.7 When Captain Burt visited the Highlands he found in some places the cattle so weak from want of food and from immoderate bleeding, that in the morning they could not rise from the ground, and the inhabitants joined together to help up each other's cows.8 In the islands and on the coast shellfish were largely eaten, and in the interior of the Highlands the peasants lived chiefly on oatmeal and potatoes. The filth of their persons, their cabins, and their cookery was described as revolting; and it is a curious fact that one of the consequences Edition: orig; Page: [30] of the invasion of England in 1745, that was most dreaded, was the spread of the cutaneous diseases that accompanied the Highlanders wherever they went.1 Their cabins had no chimneys, but only holes for the escape of the smoke. During the long winters they had no diversions, but sat brooding in the smoke over the fire till their legs and thighs were completely scorched, and till they grew as black as chimney-sweepers. Sore eyes and frequent blindness were the natural consequence, and they had no candles, though resinous sticks were sometimes employed in their place.2 The islands were, if possible, even more barbarous than the mainland. In some of them it was said beef was boiled in the hide, and fowls roasted with their feathers.3 The sheep were not shorn, but the wool was torn from the living animals.4 The Shetland islands during the whole winter were cut off from all communication with the mainland. The landing of William in Torbay in November 1688 is said only to have been known in Zetland in the following May.5

In some of these islands and in several of the remoter valleys of the Highlands the Catholic worship lingered on during the greater part of the eighteenth century, and although the Scotch Kirk gradually extended its empire, it found it much more easy to extirpate the worship and the dogmas than the popular superstitions of the old faith. A strange mixture of Pagan and Popish notions long continued to blend with the new creed. A Presbyterian minister who visited the northern islands in the beginning of the eighteenth century relates with much horror that in one parish of Orkney the people attached such a reverence to the remains of a ruined and roofless chapel called Our Lady's Kirk, containing a stone which was said to bear the footprints of St. Magnus, that it was found necessary even in the wildest weather to conduct the Presbyterian service there, as the congregation refused to attend it in any other place.6 In Edition: orig; Page: [31] another island the minister was given his choice from all the young seals that were taken, and that which he selected was called ‘cullen Mory,’ ‘or the Virgin Mary's seal.’1 The lark was known as Our Lady's hen.2 The belief in charms, inholy wells, in second sight, in sacred spots, in holy or unholy seasons, was almost as general as in a Catholic country. Lunatics were dipped in the well of St. Fillan or of Inch Maree.3 The faces of the sick were fanned with the leaves of a Bible.4 On a particular day in harvest time it was believed that if anyone worked the ridges would bleed.5 An impostor in the Island of St. Kilda carried away a large proportion of the inhabitants, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, by a pretended revelation from St. John the Baptist, enjoining among other things a careful observance of saint-days and a weekly fast, and reviving the doctrine of the intercession of the saints; and it was noticed that if any change should give a renewed ascendency to Popery the people were thoroughly prepared to embrace it.6 Other superstitions partook largely of paganism. The clans were summoned to war by the fiery cross dipped in blood with those mystic rites which the great Scotch poet has made so familiar. As late as 1745 it was sent round Loch Tay by Lord Breadalbane to summon his clansmen to support the Government.7 Traces of the old forms of sacrifice may be found in the custom, which has lingered even to our own century, of burying a cock alive where an epileptic first fell, of burying one cow alive in order to save a herd stricken by the murrain.8 On May-day a strange ceremony was performed, in which a libation was poured out on the ground, and offerings were made for the preservation of the horses Edition: orig; Page: [32] and sheep, and to propitiate the fox, the hooded crow, and the eagle.1 The belief in witches and in fairies was universal. Tarans, or souls of unbaptized infants, were believed to wander disconsolate over the hills, and spirit voices, singing Irish songs, to be heard during the night in the lonely valleys.2 Spirits in the shape of tall men with long brown hair, known as Brownies, played a very large part in the Highland mythology, were propitiated by libations of milk, and were sometimes consulted in difficulty by a man sewn up in a cow's hide and placed during the night in the hollow under a cataract to await the answer to his inquiry.3

The great virtue of the Highlander was his fidelity to his chief and to his clan. It took the place of patriotism and of loyalty to the sovereign. It was unbroken by the worst excesses of tyranny, and it was all the more admirable on account of that extreme poverty which, after the Union, made the Scotch nobles a laughing-stock in England. In the reign of James V., an insurrection of Clan Chattan having been suppressed by Murray, 200 of the insurgents were condemned to death. Each one as he was led to the gallows was offered a pardon if he would reveal the hiding-place of his chief, but they all answered that, were they acquainted with it, no sort of punishment could induce them to be guilty of treachery to their leader. In the rebellion of 1715 an extraordinary example of the power of the chief was furnished by the career of the well-known Simon Fraser, afterwards Lord Lovat. He was personally very indifferent to the rival claimants of the throne. Having committed a rape on the sister of the Duke of Athol, and afterwards been mixed up in a Jacobite plot, he had lived for many years in exile in France, but had fallen into suspicion with the Court of St. Germains, and at last resolved, for this and for a still more personal reason, to go over to the Hanoverian side. By the law of Highland allegiance he was the head of the Fraser clan, but the English law had given his estates to the daughter of the last Lord Lovat, who had married Mackenzie of Fraserdale. Mackenzie, Edition: orig; Page: [33] by virtue of his marriage, claimed the territorial influence of the head of the Frasers. He took the Jacobite side in the rebellion, and had actually led a great portion of the clan to join the camp of Lord Mar, when Simon Fraser appeared upon the scene. The effect was instantaneous. Although he had long been absent from the country, although he had himself hitherto been a Jacobite, the Frasers at once obeyed his summons, abandoned the army of the Pretender, and took a conspicuous part on the Hanoverian side. Not less remarkable on the other side was the case of the Macleans. Their land had for more than forty years been vested for debt in the Duke of Argyle. Their chief had not retained an acre of ground. He had spent most of his life in France, and had latterly been maintained in London by the charity of Queen Anne. Yet Sir John Maclean was able as head of the clan to summon 400 men to fight for the Pretender, although the Hanoverian army was commanded by their own landlord, the Duke of Argyle. For many years after the estates of Lord Seaforth had been forfeited for his participation in the rebellion of 1715 his rents were regularly collected by his tenants and transmitted to the Continent to their exiled lord. In 1745 the house of Macpherson of Cluny was burnt to the ground by the King's troops. A reward of 1,000l. was offered for his apprehension. A large body of soldiers was stationed in the district and a step of promotion was promised to any officer who should secure him. Yet for nine years the chief was able to live concealed on his own property in a cave which his clansmen dug for him during the night, and, though upwards of one hundred persons knew of his place of retreat, no bribe or menace could extort the secret; till at last, wearied of the long and dreary solitude and despairing of pardon, he took refuge in France.1

It needs no argument to show how dangerous, how incompatible with all national unity and with all security, was this absolute devotion of the clansmen to their chief. It is, however, Edition: orig; Page: [34] equally manifest that it implied a moral quality of a high order. It grew out of a state of society in which the dignity of the noble depended, not on any display of pageantry or wealth, but solely on the number and affection of his people—in which the humblest clansman claimed consanguinity with his chief, bore his name and identified himself with his glory. Chivalrous, self-sacrificing fidelity was the great virtue of the Highlands, and the education of the clan life made it at last a distinguishing feature of the Scotch character. For a long time, however, the influence of the Highlands and the Lowlands on each other was chiefly an influence of repulsion, and it is curious to contrast the conduct of the Scotch Parliament, which, with the assent of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, surrendered Charles I. for money to the Republicans, with that of those poverty-stricken Highlanders, among whom the Pretender wandered helplessly for five months at a time when a reward of 30,000l. was offered for his apprehension.

Of the high military qualities of the Highlanders it is scarcely necessary to speak, and they were probably shared to the full extent by the inhabitants of the Lowlands. Great courage, great power of enduring both privation and pain,1 great fire and impetuosity in attack were abundantly shown; but the discipline of a regular army was required to add to these, that more than English tenacity which has placed the Scotchman in the first rank of European soldiers. The prowess of the nation had been displayed in many glorious fields both at home and abroad. Crowds of Scotch adventurers, impelled by poverty, ambition, or internal feuds had from a very early date been scattered over Europe.stanza2 Many had taken part in the Crusades. Great numbers, from the days of St. Lewis till near the close of Edition: orig; Page: [35] the seventeenth century, were enlisted in the service of France. They may be traced in the armies of Germany, Italy, and Russia, and Scotchmen were conspicuous among the bravest soldiers of Gustavus Adolphus.1 More than 3,000 Scotchmen under Lord Reay, the Laird of Fowlis, and other Highland gentlemen, followed his banner, and they fought so desperately that scarcely one in ten outlived the field of Lutzen. Their military qualities, however, were more recognised abroad than at home, and no statesmen in the beginning of the eighteenth century appears yet to have foreseen that the Highland valleys, which were still looked upon as mere nests of thieves, would become one day among the most valuable recruiting-grounds of the British army.

A few other traits may be added which lighten the darkness of the picture. The Highlanders were distinguished for their hospitality to those who came properly recommended to them,2 and several examples are recorded of the signal generosity of the inhabitants of the Western Islands to shipwrecked sailors at the very time when the practice of plundering wrecks was most scandalously prevalent on both the English and the Irish coasts.3 Their natural grace of manner was beyond question, and popular poetry and much traditional lore produced among them some of the effects of education. They were comparatively free, too, from that spirit of bitter theological intolerance which was the bane of the Lowlands,4 and even their predatory habits were not unqualified or unrestricted. The ‘lifting’ of cattle was looked upon as a form of guerilla warfare, and Captain Burt observed as a curious anomaly that ‘the Highlander thinks it less shameful to steal 100 cows than one Edition: orig; Page: [36] single sheep,’ that ‘personal robberies are seldom heard of among them,’ and that he had himself frequently made long journeys in the Highlands accompanied by only a single servant, and with four hundred or five hundred guineas in his portmanteau, without any apprehension of robbers by the way, or any danger in his lodgings by night.1

Among the greater chiefs there were, no doubt, a few who, from their intercourse with the Lowlands and with the Continent, had attained to a fair degree of culture; but for the most part the difficulties of travelling and the habits of clan life were sufficient to exclude even considerable men from all further contact with civilisation than could be obtained by rare visits to Inverness or perhaps to Aberdeen. The first of these towns was the real capital of the Highlands. It had been for some time occupied by Cromwell; and he was so sensible of its importance as a military post for keeping the tribes in subjection that he strengthened it by a fortress, which took five years in its erection and is said to have cost not less than 80,000l., but which, at the petition of the Highland chiefs, was at once levelled at the Restoration. More enduring consequences ascribed to the invasion were the excellent English long afterwards spoken in the town, and the prevalence of English manners among its people.2 Inverness was one of the few towns which appear, at the time of the Revolution, to have been sincerely attached to Episcopacy. For ten years the population refused to allow any Presbyterian minister to effect a peaceful settlement among them, and the final establishment of the Kirk was not accomplished without the intervention of the troops.3 In Edition: orig; Page: [37] the beginning of the eighteenth century the town consisted of 400 or 500 thatched houses, with two churches, twelve maltkins, and a wretched prison—so loathsome and so neglected that an unhappy prisoner is said, in 1715, to have been actually devoured by rats.1 It carried on a considerable trade in malt, supplying the counties of Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, as well as the Orkney and Shetland Isles, and receiving in return large quantities of skins. Its prosperity, which was never very great, received a serious blow from the duties imposed on corn and afterwards from the malt tax; ruins of granaries and maltkilns were seen on every side, and to this fact we may in part attribute the strong Jacobitism of its inhabitants. The house which, during the troubles of 1745, was successively occupied by the Pretender and by the Duke of Cumberland is stated to have been then the only one in the town which contained a sitting-room or parlour without a bed in it. Inverness was so isolated from the Lowlands that there was no regular post between it and Edinburgh till the Union in 1707, and it was not till 1755 that the post ceased to be carried on foot. It may be added that the coach of Lord Seaforth, which appeared in the town in 1715, was the first ever seen in its streets; that in 1740 its magistrates advertised for a saddler to settle in the borough, as there was then no such person among its inhabitants; and that the most ordinary form of cart was not introduced till 1778.2

Aberdeen was a much more important town, but it lay outside the range of the wilder districts of the Highlands, and in Edition: orig; Page: [38] spite of its northern situation it had all the characteristics of a Lowland city. Its constant communication by sea with the south and with the Continent, and also its admirable educational institutions, had raised it to a high level of civilisation. Its Grammar School was founded early in the fifteenth century, and King's College was the last of the three universities established in Scotland before the Reformation. It owed its origin to a letter of James IV., who represented to the Pope ‘that the inhabitants of the Highlands were ignorant of letters and almost uncivilised; that there were no persons to be found fit to preach the Word of God to the people, or to administer the sacraments of the Church; and besides that, the country was so intersected with mountains and arms of the sea, and so distant from the universities already erected, and the roads so dangerous, that the youth had not access to the benefits of education in their seminaries.’ At the same time the King suggested Old Aberdeen as a fitting site for the university, as being ‘situated at a moderate distance from the Highland country and Northern islands.’ The request was readily granted. A bull of Alexander VI. was obtained, in which the Pope, having noticed that there were already two universities in Scotland, added, with much force, that ‘while the distribution of other things lessened their power, science had this distinguishing quality, that the diffusion of it tended not to diminish but to increase and spread the general stock of knowledge.’ The university was formed after the model of that of Paris; its leading promoter was the Chancellor, Bishop Elphinstone, who had himself been professor at Paris and Orleans; and the first principal was Hector Boece, the friend of Erasmus and the historian of Scotland. After the Reformation, however, the distance of King's College from the new town and also the Catholic tendencies of its professors, produced a desire for a new university; and at the end of the sixteenth century Marischal College was founded. Even before the middle of the eighteenth century many eminent Scotchmen were connected with Aberdeen either by birth or by education. Jamesone, who is said to have been fellow-pupil with Vandyck in Edition: orig; Page: [39] the school of Rubens, and who certainly was the first and for a long time the only considerable painter of Scotland, was a native of the city. Burnet and Arbuthnot were both educated in Marischal College, and the former, though but little connected with Scotland during his lifetime, showed his gratitude by founding eight bursarships in his will. Colin Maclaurin, one of the greatest mathematicians in Europe, was professor in the same college before his removal to Edinburgh in 1727. Reid was educated in Marischal College, and became professor in King's College in 1752. The population of Aberdeen in 1755 was estimated at 15,730.1 The first newspaper in the north of Scotland was established by its citizens in 1748. They had an important manufacture of woollen stockings, they exported to the Continent large quantities of salmon and pork, and they were less honourably noted for a scandalous system of decoying young boys from the country and selling them as slaves to the planters in Virginia. It was a trade which, in the early part of the eighteenth century, was carried on to a considerable extent through the Highlands;2 and a case which took place about 1742 attracted much notice a few years later, when one of the victims, having escaped from servitude, returned to Aberdeen and published a narrative of his sufferings, seriously implicating some of the magistracy of the town. He was prosecuted and condemned for libel by the local authorities, but the case was afterwards carried to Edinburgh. The iniquitous system of kidnapping was fully exposed, and the judges of the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the verdict of the Aberdeen authorities and imposed a heavy fine upon the provost, the four bailies, and the dean of the Guild.3

Edition: orig; Page: [40]

If we now turn to the Lowlands we find their condition at least so far different from that of the Highlands that a real civilisation was generally diffused. The intellect, the industrial energy, the progressive instincts of Scotland were essentially Lowland; and in quiet times these guided the policy of the nation. Edinburgh, though still but a small town, excited the admiration of travellers who were acquainted with the greatest cities of England and the Continent; nor was their admiration entirely due to the singular beauty of its situation. The quaint architecture of the older houses—which sometimes rose to the height of nine, ten, or eleven stories—indeed, carried back the mind to very barbarous times; for it was ascribed to the desire of the population to live as near as possible to the protection of the castle.1 The filth of the streets in the early years of the eighteenth century was indescribable.2 Southern writers were fond of expatiating on the dangers to the passers-by from the fetid torrents that were continually discharged from the windows; and, long after the middle of the century had past, they complained that the best inn in the capital of Scotland hardly ranked above an English alehouse.3 The new quarter, which now strikes every stranger by its spacious symmetry, was not begun till the latter half of the eighteenth century, but as early as 1723 an English traveller described the High Street as Edition: orig; Page: [41] ‘the stateliest street in the world,’1 and even after the extinction of the Parliament, the law courts and the new university attracted to the capital most of the intellect and the refinement of the country. Under the influence of the Kirk the public manners of the town were marked by much decorum and even austerity, but the populace were unusually susceptible of fierce political enthusiasm, and when excited they were extremely formidable. The riots against the Union, the riot against the imposition of the malt tax in 1725, the well-known riot in which Captain Porteus was hung by the mob, the riot in 1749 arising from some officers having, on the anniversary of Culloden, called for the tune of ‘Culloden’ in the theatre, were among the most serious in the kingdom, during the first half of the eighteenth century. Political feeling, indeed, among all classes, appears to have run very high; and it was noticed that even the ladies took sides, and expressed their politics by the manner in which they wore their plaids.2 Edinburgh, however, in the eighteenth century, could boast of a much more efficient police than London or any other English town. A city guard composed chiefly of fierce Highlanders armed and disciplined like regular soldiers, and placed under the control of the magistrates, was permanently established in 1696; and it was not finally abolished till the present century.3

Edinburgh, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was more than twice as large as any other Scotch town. Its population at the time of the Union slightly exceeded 30,000, while that of Glasgow was not quite 15,000, that of Dundee not quite 10,000, and that of Perth about 7,000.4 A hard climate, a sterile soil, and a long continuance of singularly adverse circumstances, had formed among the people a character of indomitable energy which promised well for the future; but as yet the condition of the Lowlands was extremely wretched. They lay between the anarchy of the Highlands and the anarchy Edition: orig; Page: [42] of the border. To the north, the greater part of Scotland was occupied by predatory tribes, who continually descended to ravage their fields, who infested their streets as beggars, and who inoculated all classes with their habits of idleness, filth, and turbulence. To the south lay a much more wealthy and powerful nation, whose dealings towards them were usually inspired by implacable hatred or by the narrowest selfishness. Repeated English invasions had desolated the weaker land, and a chronic war subsisted for centuries along the border. The accession of a Scotch king to the English throne diminished these dangers, but it brought with it new evils scarcely less grave. In the interests of the English Church a long attempt was made to force Episcopacy, by savage persecution, upon a Presbyterian people. After the Restoration all religious worship by non-Episcopal ministers was for a time forbidden. A few ministers were afterwards restored by the Indulgence on terms which the more rigid members deemed it criminal to accept, but it was made a capital offence to preach in any conventicle, or even to attend a conventicle in the open air. The goods as well as the lives of all who were guilty of these offences were forfeited to the law, and no one could sit in Parliament or could vote for a Member of Parliament, who had not sworn an oath abjuring the principles of the Covenanters. Great numbers were killed, despoiled of their property, driven to the mountains, tortured with horrid ingenuity, or transported to the plantations; and although the persecution failed as it deserved, it inflicted great and enduring calamities upon the nation, and among other consequences infused into it a spirit of fierce and gloomy fanaticism. Besides this, the natural poverty and the unhappy position of Scotland could not save it from the commercial jealousy of its neighbour. Though part of the same empire, it was excluded from all trade with the English colonies; no goods could be landed in Scotland from the plantations unless they had been first landed in England and paid duty there, and even then they might not be brought in a Scotch vessel. The trade with England itself was at the same time severely hampered. Edition: orig; Page: [43] At the time of the Union, and even after the Scotch land tax had been increased in accordance with its provisions, the whole revenue of Scotland was only 160,000l. while that of England was 5,691,000l.1 The poverty, the abject misery of the country, was such that every bad season produced a literal famine. In 1698 and the three preceding years the harvests were very bad, and Fletcher of Saltoun—one of the greatest intellects and one of the most ardent patriots of Scotland—wrote a discourse on the state of the nation which throws a vivid light on the material wretchedness and the moral anarchy that prevailed. ‘Many thousands of our people,’ he said, ‘are at this day dying for want of bread … and though, perhaps, upon the great want of bread occasioned by the continued bad seasons of this and the three preceding years, the evil be greater and more pressing than at any time in our days, yet there have always been in Scotland such numbers of poor as by no regulations could ever be orderly provided for; and this country has always swarmed with such numbers of idle vagabonds as no laws could ever restrain.’ ‘There are at this day,’ he adds, ‘in Scotland (besides a great many poor families, very meanly provided for by the Church boxes, with others who by living upon bad food fall into various diseases) 200,000 people begging from door to door. These are not only no way advantageous, but a very grievous burden to so poor a country; and though the number of them be perhaps double to what it was formerly by reason of this present great distress, yet in all times there have been about 100,000 of those vagabonds who have lived without any regard or subjection either to the laws of the land or even those of God and nature—fathers incestuously accompanying with their own daughters, the son with the mother, and the brother with the sister. No magistrate could ever discover or be informed which way one in a hundred of these wretches died, or that ever they were baptised. Many murders have been discovered among them, and they are not only a most Edition: orig; Page: [44] unspeakable oppression to poor tenants (who, if they give not bread or some kind of provision to perhaps forty such villains in one day, are sure to be insulted by them), but they rob many poor people who live in houses distant from any neighbourhood. In years of plenty many thousands of them meet together in the mountains, where they feast and riot for many days; and at country weddings, markets, burials, and other the like public occasions, they are to be seen—both men and women—perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and fighting together.’1

It is difficult for us to realise that these words were written less than 200 years ago by a great Scotch patriot, of a country which now ranks in social, industrial, and political virtues at the very head of the British Empire; nor would it be easy to find a more impressive illustration of the immense advance in human welfare which has during that period been achieved. The remedies which Fletcher of Saltoun deemed alone adequate to the evil are such as would even now in some quarters find much favour. He desired to reduce these wandering beggars and their children to a condition of slavery, to oblige every man of a certain estate to take a proportionate number, to hand over as an example ‘three or four hundred of the most notorious of those villains which we call jockeys to the State of Venice to serve in the galleys’ against the Turks, and, lastly, to transplant the whole population of the Highlands, whom he regarded as incorrigible, into the Low country and to people the Highlands from thence. These measures, he said, should be prepared secretly, and taken rapidly, as otherwise those whom it was intended to enslave ‘would rather die with hunger in caves and dens and murder their young children than appear abroad to have them and themselves taken into such a kind of service.’ He might have added that such a policy would have inevitably produced a reaction of violence that would have intensified every evil it was intended to correct, and would have Edition: orig; Page: [45] left behind it a hatred which would have rankled for centuries in the Scotch mind, and which generations of freedom and good government would have been unable to efface.

Very different was the course which was actually pursued. The series of measures which in a few generations raised Scotland from one of the most wretched and barbarous into one of the most civilised and happy nations in Europe may be soon told, and it forms one of the most striking examples of continued good legislation upon record. The Revolution brought into the ascendency in England, the party who were in alliance with the Dissenters, and the first great work was to put an end to the religious oppression of the people. The Act which made the religion of the immense majority of devout Scotchmen the established religion of their country closed for ever the darkest page in Scotch history, and terminated the opposition between the authority of religion and the authority of law. It was soon followed by an Act establishing schools in every parish, which in a few years diffused the benefits of knowledge throughout the kingdom and made the average level of Scotch intelligence superior to that of any other part of the empire. The Tory ministry of Anne completed the work by a measure passed in a somewhat different spirit and in favour of another class, securing the Episcopal minority the undisturbed exercise of their religion.

The effect of these three measures can hardly be overrated. Of all the nations of Europe there was probably not a single one which, up to the time of the Revolution, was so violent, so turbulent, so difficult to govern as the Scotch.1 It is not true, Edition: orig; Page: [46] indeed, that the sentiment of loyalty was wanting among them, but it was a sentiment which found its object in the chief of the clan and not at all in the government of the nation.1 Nor was the contemptuous repudiation of the English doctrine of passive obedience confined to the Highlanders. The Lowlanders in this respect scarcely differed from their northern fellow-countrymen, except in the more orderly and methodised character of their opposition. During the minority of James I., the well-known saying of Trajan when he delivered the sword to the governor of a province, ‘Pro me; si merear in me,’ was actually inscribed on the coin of the realm, and, although the King afterwards changed the motto, the coin was not called in, and continued to circulate till the Union.2 Of all the considerable forms into which the Christian religion crystallised after the Reformation, the Scotch Kirk was the most violently, the most habitually, insubordinate to the civil power. It caught its colour from the spirit of the nation in which it rose. It was by its constitution essentially republican, deriving its theology chiefly from the Old Testament. It was in this respect the very antipodes to the Anglican Church and to the Gallican branch of the Catholic Church, both of which did all that lay in their power to consecrate despotism and to strengthen authority. Had the Scotch Kirk continued much longer to be oppressed and proscribed, had all the force and weight of religious sentiment been employed for several generations to enfeeble and to subvert the authority of the law, the effect upon the character of the nation would have been in the last degree pernicious. The habits produced by generations of misgovernment do not at once subside when the cause is removed; and more than half a century of time and many other healing measures were required before Scotland became a really loyal country, but from the time when the Scotch Kirk became its established religion its condition was comparatively normal and healthy, Edition: orig; Page: [47] and in spite of the rebellions of 1715 and 1745 the elements of turbulence began steadily to subside.

Scarcely less striking and beneficial in its effects was the second measure to which I have referred. The importance of a sound system of national education was at that time hardly recognised out of Scotland, and it was peculiarly necessary for a people who in the competition of life were depressed by the weight of great natural disadvantages. It must be acknowledged, however, that a very large part of the credit of the movement in favour of education belongs to the Church which preceded the Reformation, nor is any fact in Scotch history more remarkable than the noble enthusiasm for knowledge which animated that Church during the fifteenth century. The establishment of the University of St. Andrews in 1410, of that of Glasgow in 1450, of that of Aberdeen in 1495, the formation of grammar schools in the burgh corporations, and, above all, that remarkable law enacted in 1496, by the Scotch Parliament, requiring all barons and freeholders of substance, under pain of a heavy fine, to send their eldest sons to grammar schools till they had obtained a competent knowledge of Latin, and then for three years to ‘the schules of art and jure,’ till they had acquired a sufficient knowledge of law to distribute justice among their people, abundantly attest the importance of the movement. Even the University of Edinburgh, though not formally established till 1582, was chiefly endowed by a sum bequeathed many years before for that purpose by Reid, the Catholic bishop of Orkney.1 It was on these foundations that the statesmen of the Reformation and of the Revolution built, but it must be added that the Scotch Kirk uniformly exhibited a most praiseworthy zeal in extending the benefits of education. Knox himself, as early as 1560, had proposed an elaborate system of national education. Soon after the rebellion of 1640 the establishment throughout Scotland of parochial schools, imitated from those at Geneva, and placed under the direct Edition: orig; Page: [48] supervision of the Kirk, was decreed, and the clergy largely extended the system of Bursarships which has played so conspicuous a part in Scotch life and has brought the advantage of University education within the range of classes wholly excluded from it in England.1 The singularly disputatious character of Scotch preaching, and the republican form of Scotch Church government, contributed to give a considerable though onesided stimulus to the national mind. Burnet, describing his own experience when preaching with some brother divines in Scotland in 1670, said, ‘We were indeed amazed to see a poor commonalty so capable to argue on points of government and on the bounds to be set to the power of princes in matters of religion. Upon all these topics they had texts of Scripture at hand and were ready with their answers to anything that was said to them. This measure of knowledge was spread even among the meanest of them, their cottagers, and their servants.’2 The turbulence of the time, however, and the rapid fluctuations of politics prevented some of these measures from being fully carried out, and the system of parochial schools was not finally, generally, and efficaciously established till the Act of 1696. Its effects in a few years became visible. Though the material well-being of the people, even of the most prosperous parts of Scotland, was during the greater part of the eighteenth century considerably below the average standard in England, though the Scotch poor in the Lowlands remained rather conspicuously deficient in the graces and the courtesies of life, the level of intelligence among them was soon distinctly higher, the proportion of national faculties called into active exercise was distinctly greater, than in any other part of the empire. The impulse which was created in primary education was soon followed by a corresponding improvement in higher culture. The zeal of the Scotch student became notorious, and in the Lowlands at least the standard of general knowledge among the Edition: orig; Page: [49] gentry was perceptibly higher than in England.1 In no other country did the philosophy of Newton at so early a period find a general acceptance. In 1692 it was noticed that Newton had already received numerous congratulatory letters on the ‘Principia,’ but ‘especially from Scotland.’ The new philosophy was taught by James Gregory at St. Andrews, and by David Gregory at Edinburgh, prior to 1691; and the latter professor, having in that year been removed to the astronomical chair at Oxford, appears to have been the first person who made it popular in the great English University.2 In the philosophy of the eighteenth century the name of Hume is only second to that of Kant, and Glasgow University was the centre of a great reaction against the teaching of Locke, conducted successively by Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and Reid, at a time when the English Universities, with their enormous revenues, were sunk in lethargy and prejudice.3

The Act of Toleration of 1712, granting the Episcopal clergy liberty and protection in their worship and permission to administer baptism and perform marriages, though less important than the measures I have mentioned, was also of some Edition: orig; Page: [50] real advantage to the country. The establishment of the Scotch Kirk had undoubtedly fulfilled the wishes of a majority of the people, but there were many districts, especially in the North of Scotland, where Episcopalianism had struck deep root, where the new Church was only accepted with much difficulty, and where a majority, or at least a large minority, long continued sincerely attached to the proscribed faith.1 After undergoing great hardship and persecution in the years immediately following the Revolution, the Episcopal clergy obtained a small measure of legal toleration by the Comprehension Act of 1695, which, however, only applied formally to parish churches, leaving Episcopal worship in private houses and meeting-houses as illegal as before. All Episcopal clergymen who had not before been deprived, were permitted by this Act to retain their benefices on taking the oath of allegiance and subscribing the ‘assurance’ which was the Scotch equivalent to the abjuration oath. The great majority of the Episcopal clergy refused to comply with this latter condition, which, by asserting that the Pretender had no right to the throne, was tantamount to abandoning the doctrine of the Divine right of kings. A small number, however, known as the ‘Protected Ministers,’ submitted and were suffered to retain their benefices, but not to take any share in the government of the Church, and, though it was not expressly stated in the Act of Parliament, they were assumed by the law courts to be beyond the control of the Church Judicatures. This assumption was, it is true, violently contested by the Presbyterian authorities, and they made more than one effort to bring the Episcopalian clergy Edition: orig; Page: [51] within the range of their discipline.1 It is worthy of notice that the difference between the Churches for several years after the Revolution lay exclusively in the system of Church government, for the Episcopalians in Scotland employed no liturgy and conducted their worship in almost exactly the same way as the Presbyterians.

The bitterness, however, that raged between them was very great. The memory of atrocious persecutions inflicted on the Presbyterians during the period of Episcopalian ascendency, and the fierce and acrid fanaticism of the Kirk, excited the people to the utmost, though in the great towns the Episcopal meeting-houses were usually connived at. Queen Anne, shortly after her accession, wrote a letter to the Privy Council, expressing her wish that the Episcopal clergy should be permitted the free exercise of public worship. As the Tory party acquired an ascendency, the spirit of the Government became hostile to the Presbyterian establishment and there were serious fears that an attempt would be made to subvert it. The Episcopalians, on the other hand, identified themselves more closely with the English Church, and after the Union some of them began to employ the Anglican liturgy in their services—an innovation which excited paroxysms of alarm and indignation in Scotland, partly on religious grounds, partly as a symptom of a very dangerous alliance of Churches. The matter was brought to an issue by a Scotch clergyman named Greenshields, who had for some time held a curacy in Ireland, but returned to Scotland in 1709, and, having taken the required oaths, opened an Episcopal meeting-house at Edinburgh and made use of the English liturgy. A petition against it was at once presented to the General Assembly from many of the inhabitants of Edinburgh. The Assembly passed an Act proclaiming that the Union was infringed by ‘the use of set forms, rites, and ceremonies.’ The magistrates interfered, and threw Greenshields into prison. The ostensible reason was that he officiated in an unauthorised meeting-house. The real reason was that he employed the Edition: orig; Page: [52] English liturgy in his worship. On an appeal to the Court of Session the sentence of the magistrates was confirmed, but Greenshields at once took a step which filled his opponents with dismay. He appealed to the British House of Lords, and the Presbyterians were made for the first time to feel that a question relating to their own discipline and jurisdiction could be decided by a tribunal consisting in part of English bishops. Harley and St. John wished the appeal to be withdrawn, as being certain to give bitter offence either in England or in Scotland, but Lockhart of Carnwath1 and other Tory Scotch members insisted on its being heard, and in March 1711 the House of Lords reversed the judgment of the Court of Session and condemned the Edinburgh magistrates to costs.

This episode, occurring at a time when Presbyterian meeting-houses were perfectly legal in England, naturally caused much indignation south of the Tweed, and it was the immediate forerunner of the Toleration Act of 1712. It was, no doubt, true that this Act was supported by many who were enemies to the Scotch Establishment, and who hoped that a toleration would lead to its overthrow; but this fact will not justify, and will but slightly palliate, the passionate, vehement, and persistent hatred with which the bare toleration of Episcopalians was denounced by the Presbyterians of Scotland. It was described as inconsistent with the existence and with the discipline of the Established Church, as a breach of the Union, as opening the door to great corruption both in doctrine and worship, as a grievous sin against the Almighty. A petition was addressed to the Queen adjuring her to interpose in order to prevent ‘such a manifest and ruinous encroachment.’ The pulpits rang with denunciations of toleration. The Assembly assumed an attitude of uncompromising hostility. Carstairs,2 Edition: orig; Page: [53] the ablest of the Scotch divines, was sent to London to oppose it, and Defoe, the most brilliant writer among the English Nonconformists, employed his pen in the same cause. The English Parliament, however, was at this time borne along on the full wave of Tory enthusiasm that followed the Sacheverell impeachment, and public opinion was not a little stirred when it was known that even English regiments in Scotland were not suffered to have the English service publicly celebrated for their use.1 The measure was carried, but a provision was added which at once diminished its benefit and added to its oppressiveness. The Whigs, who could hardly, consistently with their principles, oppose a Toleration Act, desired at least that it should not shelter a Jacobite party, and carried a clause making the oath of abjuration indispensable for those who desired the benefits of the Act. The Tories accepted the clause, but extended the oath to the Established Church. It might appear at first sight that the Presbyterians at least, who entirely discarded the doctrine of the Divine right of kings, and who had in general very little sympathy with the Stuarts, would have found no difficulty in taking an oath abjuring the Pretender, and promising allegiance to the sovereign who reigned according to the Act of Settlement. It was discovered, however, by the keen eye of theological jealousy, that, as the Act of Settlement provided that the reigning sovereign must be a member of the Anglican Church, the oath imposed on the Presbyterians of Scotland was an act of homage and an additional guarantee to Prelacy. Some positively refused to take it, and seceded from the Establishment; others took it, making at the same time a formal declaration that they did so under the belief that it implied no deviation from their strict allegiance to the Presbyterian type of worship and Church government; and for many years the new test, as it was termed, added very materially to the discontent which the Toleration Act produced among the Presbyterians of Scotland. Among the Episcopalians its effects were still more serious. The clergy of Edition: orig; Page: [54] this Church were almost universally Jacobite, and the conditions of the Toleration Act were that they should pray for the reigning sovereign, and take the oath not only of allegiance, but also of abjuration. These conditions they could not or would not accept. The oath, as I have already explained, involved a distinct repudiation of the religious doctrine of the Divine right of kings—a retrospective judgment which many, wholly free from the taint of disloyalty, were unable to make.1 As a matter of fact, it was usually not taken, and the required prayer was not offered. On the rare occasions when, in Episcopalian meeting-houses, the King was prayed for, the congregation would rise up; men and women would begin to take snuff, or to occupy themselves in some other trivial way, and not a single response would be heard.2 The Toleration Act, however, saved the Episcopalians from State prosecutions. The Government left them in tranquillity as long as they remained peaceful, and the partial recognition of the Episcopal Church, though it proved but temporary, had the effect of considerably extending the sphere of religious liberty, of checking in some degree the extreme despotism of the Kirk Sessions, and perhaps of preventing many Scotchmen from abandoning their country.

The next great object to be attained was the development of industrial life. We have seen how profoundly—it might easily have been imagined how incurably—the habits of the Scotch were opposed to those of an industrial community, and how one of the greatest Scotchmen of his time imagined that the only way of correcting them was by instituting a gigantic system of slavery. In truth, however, the slow but simple remedy for the evil was found in the legislative emancipation of Scotch industry. The first great impulse towards industrial life in Scotland was given by the project of the Darien colony, which stirred the nation to the very depths, and created hopes that were only too soon dashed to the ground. A terrible reaction followed. On the ruin of the scheme in which so Edition: orig; Page: [55] much of the capital of Scotland was embarked, poverty and discouragement became more general than ever, and the jealous hostility which the English Government and people had shown to the enterprise supplied a new aliment to the old national animosity. The real development of Scotch industry dates from the Union of 1707. This measure was not, it is true, a popular one. The political absorption of a small into a larger nationality can very rarely be effected without irritating the most sensitive chords of national feeling. The sentiment of nationality is one of the strongest and most respectable by which human beings are actuated. No other has produced a greater amount of heroism and self-sacrifice, and no other, when it has been seriously outraged, leaves behind it such enduring and such dangerous discontent. The deep hostility between the English and the Scotch, their difference in religion, their great difference in wealth, and the large national debt of England, all contributed to aggravate the difficulty. The Treaty of Union, however, as it was finally carried, was drawn up with great skill, and with much consideration for the interests of the weaker nation. It provided that the land-tax should be so arranged that when England contributed 2,000,000l., Scotland should only contribute 48,000l., or rather less than a fortieth part; that in consideration of the heavy English debt, by which the taxation of the whole island would be increased, an equivalent of about 400,000l. should be granted to Scotland and applied to the payment of her small debt of 160,000l., to making good the losses incurred in assimilating her coinage to that of England, to the restitution of the money lost by the Darien Company, and, if any surplus remained, to the encouragement of her manufactures, and also that she should enjoy an exemption of a few years from some temporary taxes. With these exceptions the taxation of the two countries was equalised, and the same duties of custom and excise, the same system of weights and measures, the same coinage, the same laws concerning public right, policy, and civil government were extended through the whole island. It was provided Edition: orig; Page: [56] also that the succession of the United Kingdom should remain to the Princess Sophia and the heirs of her body, being Protestants; that sixteen peers elected every Parliament by the whole body of Scotch peers, and forty-five commoners elected, two-thirds of them by the counties, and the remainder by the boroughs, should represent Scotland in the United Parliament;1 and that the Episcopal Church should be for ever established in England and the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. The sovereign was also restrained from creating any additional Scotch peers, and the hereditary jurisdictions and all the other privileges of the existing peers, except that of voting in Parliament, were guaranteed. But, above all, perfect free trade was established between England and Scotland, and all the markets of the English plantations were thrown open to Scotland as freely as to her neighbour.

The commercial clauses of the Union laid the foundation of the material prosperity of Scotland, and they alone reconciled the most intelligent Scotchmen to the partial sacrifice of their nationality. The country was, indeed, reduced to a condition of chronic famine, and the emancipation of Scotch trade had become a cardinal object of every patriot. The Union in itself was extremely unpopular, but the English clearly intimated that on no other condition would they grant Scotland a share in the commercial privileges of the empire. One of the last public acts of William had been to urge the expediency of an Union; and in 1702 formal negotiations were entered into, and commissioners were appointed to negotiate a treaty between the nations, but English manufacturing jealousy defeated the attempt. In 1703, however, a new Scotch Parliament assembled, which soon brought matters to an issue. The great majority of the members were vehement Presbyterians, full of suspicions of the High Church tendencies of the Queen and of bitter resentment at the policy of England. They adjourned, Edition: orig; Page: [57] till other business had been despatched, the bills of supply; they began by passing a declaratory Act securing the Presbyterian government in Scotland, and they even made it high treason to impugn, either by writing, speaking, or acting, any article of the Claim of Rights, which asserted the evil of Episcopacy and the necessity for a Presbyterian Establishment. A Bill for tolerating the Episcopalians was brought forward, but its promoters did not venture to press it. Turning then from religious to civil matters, the Parliament proceeded with a high hand to exhibit its independence of England. Though members of the British empire, though they bore their part in the burdens and the dangers of British wars, the Scotch were excluded by their neighbours from all trade with the Colonies; and they now resolved to consult exclusively their own interests and dignity. An Act was passed declaring that after the death of the reigning Queen the sovereign of Scotland should have no right of declaring war without the consent of the Parliament. Another and still more startling measure, called the Bill of Security, provided that on the death of the Queen without issue, the Estates should meet to name a Protestant successor; but that this should not be the same person who would succeed to the Crown of England unless a treaty had been first made securing ‘the honour and sovereignty of the Scotch crown and kingdom, the freedom, frequency and power of parliaments, the religion, freedom, and trade of the nation from English or any foreign influence.’ It was at the same time made high treason to administer the coronation oath without parliamentary authority, and orders were given immediately to arm the nation.

These were bold measures, and they showed plainly that the spirit of the nation could no longer be trifled with. Scotland could not directly compel England to grant her free trade, but she could proclaim herself a separate kingdom, and by the assistance of France she might have maintained her position. The last days of the Parliament of 1703 were indeed extremely alarming. A Bill brought in by the Earl Edition: orig; Page: [58] of Marchmont to secure the succession to the House of Hanover was met by an outburst of furious derision; and the House refused even to allow any record of it to remain in their books. An attempt to bring in a Bill of Supply was treated with scarcely less scorn, and for nearly two hours the debate was rendered inaudible by fierce cries of ‘Liberty!’ and ‘No subsidy!’ The necessities of the Government were such that the ministers appear to have supported a strange measure, which was carried, to remove the restrictions upon the importation of French wine, at a time when war was raging between England and France. The duty raised from it was found absolutely necessary for the public service; while, on the other hand, the Jacobites supported the Bill as opening easy communications with France. Menaces of coercion were freely used on both sides. The foot-guards were ordered to be in readiness; the Duke of Queensberry, who was the Queen's High Commissioner, would have been in imminent danger of his life but for the protection of the soldiers. ‘The whole nation,’ said an observer, ‘was strangely inflamed;’ and ‘a national humour of being independent of England fermented strongly among all sorts of people without doors.’ While the royal assent was reluctantly granted to the other Bills, it was refused to the Bill of Security; and as the Scotch Parliament was proceeding to discuss still more stringent measures, limiting the prerogative of future sovereigns, it was suddenly prorogued without having voted supplies, and the pay of the army and the charge of the Government were suffered to run to credit.1

It was hoped that in the recess the angry feeling would subside; and, as a means of softening some of the leaders, Athol, who, though he was Lord Privy Seal, had been prominent in opposition, was made a Duke; Tarbet, who had been conspicuous on the same side, was raised to the Earldom of Cromarty; and several other dignities were conferred. The Order of the Thistle was Edition: orig; Page: [59] at this time revived and bestowed on some powerful noblemen. Some changes were made in the administration; the Duke of Queensberry, who had been accused of getting up a false charge of Jacobitism against some conspicuous nobles, was removed from the position of High Commissioner, and replaced by the Marquis of Tweeddale; and the royal speech, in opening the session of 1704, urged in the strongest terms the absolute necessity of at once settling the question of the succession. But it soon appeared that the Parliament was neither conciliated nor dismayed. The Duke of Hamilton began the opposition by moving that ‘this Parliament could not proceed to name a successor to the crown until the Scots had a previous treaty with England in relation to commerce and other concerns.’ The Bill of Security was again passed, with little modification, and this time it was tacked to a Bill for the payment of the army. The leading politicians openly declared their determination to refuse to vote funds for the payment of the troops till the Bill was passed. War was at this time raging; an invasion might at any time be expected. There was a strong Jacobite party in the Scotch Parliament; another party, guided by Fletcher of Saltoun, was almost or altogether Republican, and desired to reduce the prerogative of the Crown to little more than a shadow, and make Scotland virtually independent of England. The resentment of the people at English commercial jealousy blazed fierce and high, and manifested itself by alarming demonstrations. If the royal assent was refused, an invading army from France might be altogether unresisted, and might even find the Parliament and people on its side. Under these very critical circumstances the English Government thought it prudent to yield, and by the advice of Godolphin the royal assent was given to the Bill of Security.

This step was vehemently unpopular in England. It was, in fact, nothing less than an agreement by the English ministry that unless certain privileges, to which the English Parliament and the English nation tenaciously clung, were accorded to the Scotch, the union of crowns effected under James I. should be Edition: orig; Page: [60] annulled, and the nations, on the death of the reigning sovereign, should be definitively separated. Wharton is reported to have said, when the assent was given, that the head of the Lord Treasurer was now safe in the bag; and had not the Battle of Blenheim just given a new strength to the ministry, it is not impossible that the judgment might have proved true. When the English Parliament met, a vote of censure was at once moved against the Government. In order, probably, to moderate the language of the Opposition speakers, the Queen herself was present at the debate. The influence of Marlborough was exerted in favour of Godolphin, and his friends succeeded in defeating the motion. But whatever fate might await the ministry, it was plain that if the disruption of the kingdom was to be averted free trade must be conceded; and the English were resolved that it should be conceded only as the price of an Union. Seldom, however, was there less real union of feeling between the nations than at this time. Resolutions were passed by the House of Lords praying the Queen to fortify Newcastle, Tynemouth, Carlisle, and Hull; to call out the militia in the four northern counties; and to send a sufficient number of troops to the border. She was at the same time empowered to appoint commissioners on the part of England to negotiate an Union on condition that a similar step was taken by the Scotch Parliament; but if no such Union took place, and if the same succession to the crown with that of England were not enacted by a specified day, it was provided that all Scotchmen, except those who were settled residents in England or who were serving in her Majesty's forces, should be held as aliens; that the introduction of Scotch cattle, coal, and linen into England and of English horses or arms into Scotland should be absolutely forbidden; and that all Scotch vessels found trading with France should be captured.

The effects of the prohibitory clauses of this Bill on the feeble resources of Scotland would have been fatal, and from this time the Union was inevitable. The Scotch Parliament, however, met in June 1705 in a very angry mood. The ministry, being Edition: orig; Page: [61] thought unable to meet the difficulties of the Bill, was changed. The Duke of Argyle was appointed commissioner. The Duke of Queensberry again came to the front, in the office of Privy Seal, and some of the adherents of the ejected ministry, forming a separate party, added considerably to the complexity of the situation. Purely personal and factious motives played a great part in the events that ensued, and it is not here necessary to pursue them in detail. It is sufficient to say that the Duke of Hamilton was partially gained over by the administration, and that his defection in a great degree determined the course of events. Bills were passed providing that on the Queen's death the officers of State and Judges of the Supreme Court should be elected by Parliament, that a Scotch ambassador should be present at every treaty made by the sovereign of the two kingdoms with a foreign power, and that the Scotch Parliament should become triennial. None of these Bills received the royal assent, and the Scotch Parliament soon entered into the treaty for Union. A resolution of capital importance, moved, to the astonishment of most men, by the Duke of Hamilton, and carried by the absence of some of the usual opponents of the Government, placed the appointment of the Scotch commissioners for negotiating the Union in the hands of the Crown. As a preliminary step to the treaty it was insisted, as a matter affecting the national honour, that the English Act declaring the Scotch to be aliens should be repealed. This measure had answered its purpose of compelling the Scotch to negotiate, and the English Parliament wisely and gracefully consented to repeal it, as well as the clauses in the same Act relating to trade, and thus removed a formidable obstacle to the treaty. The Scotch would, if possible, have desired free trade without any other change in the constitution: and when it was plain that England would not submit to this, they would gladly have negotiated a federal union, but the English statesmen steadily refused to grant the boon unless it were accompanied by a complete consolidation of the kingdom.

Somers, who possessed the qualities of a great statesman Edition: orig; Page: [62] in a much higher degree than any other Englishman of the period of the Revolution, took a leading part in the negotiation, and he conducted it with consummate skill. Neither of the contracting parties entered into it with any enthusiasm, but each of them gained by the treaty an end of the utmost importance. England, at the expense of commercial concessions, at which her manufacturers were deeply indignant, obtained a strength in every contest with her enemies such as she had never before enjoyed. Scotland, at the price of the partial sacrifice of a nationality to which she was most passionately and most legitimately attached, acquired the possibility of industrial life, and raised her people from a condition of the most abject wretchedness. In the ten years preceding the Union the commercial intercourse between the two countries had been so slight that the goods imported from Scotland to England only twice exceeded the small amount of 100,000l., and the imports from England into Scotland never in a single year exceeded 87,536l., while the whole shipping trade of the smaller country was annihilated by the Navigation Act. But immediately after the Union the movement of industry and commerce was felt in every part of the Lowlands.1 Glasgow, having no port or vessels of its own, chartered ships from Whitehaven and began a large trade with the American colonies.2 In 1716 or 1718 the first Scotch vessel that ever crossed the Atlantic was launched upon the Clyde;3 in 1735 Glasgow possessed sixty-seven vessels with a tonnage of 5,600,4 and in a few years she had become, in the American trade, a serious rival to the great seaports of England. It was in the first half of the eighteenth century that Greenock laid the foundation of its future greatness by the construction of a commodious harbour, and Paisley rose from a small village into a considerable manufacturing town.5 It was computed Edition: orig; Page: [63] that the aggregate tonnage of Scotch vessels rose between 1735 and 1760 from 12,342 tons to more than 52,000,1 and it was noticed as a significant sign of the growth of the industrial spirit in Scotland, that from the time of the Union it was common for the younger sons of the gentry to become merchants, and to make voyages in that capacity to the Continent.2 In the seventeenth century almost the only Scotch manufacture had been that of linen. In imitation of the curious law which encouraged the English woollen trade by providing that every corpse should be buried in wool, a Scotch law of 1686 had enacted that every shroud should be of linen,3 but it was not until the Union gave the linen manufacture a wider vent, that the trade began really to flourish. It was introduced into Glasgow in 1725, it speedily spread through many other Scotch towns,4 and we find it appearing even in the Orkney Islands about 1747.5 It was noticed by the historian of commerce that on October 23, 1738, no less than 151,219 yards of Scotch linen, as well as 3,000 spindles of linen yarn were imported into London, and that of late years the entries had been annually increasing.6 The value of the Scotch linen stamped for sale in five years from 1728 to 1732 was 662,938l. In the four years from 1748 to 1751 it had risen to 1,344,814l.7 The Aberdeen trade in woollen stockings largely increased, and a considerable manufacture of coarse Edition: orig; Page: [64] woollen serge grew up. Some time before the century had closed, cheap Scotch carpets had penetrated to most English houses.1 The preparation of kelp, which was introduced into Scotland in 1720, gave some industry to the poorest coasts;2 and the first Scotch county banks were established in 1749 at Aberdeen and Glasgow.3 The extreme poverty of Scotland was in this manner relieved, and with the extension of commerce the sober habits of industrial life began to pervade and reform the vagabond portion of the population.

It is hardly possible to advert to the Scotch Union, without pausing for a moment to examine why its influence on the loyalty of the people should have ultimately been so much happier than that of the legislative union which nearly a century later, was enacted between England and Ireland. A very slight attention to the circumstances of the case will explain the mystery, and will at the same time show the extreme shallowness of those theorists who can only account for it by reference to original peculiarities of national character. The sacrifice of a nationality is a measure which naturally produces such intense and such enduring discontent that it never should be exacted unless it can be accompanied by some political or material advantages to the lesser country that are so great and at the same time so evident as to prove a corrective. Such a corrective in the case of Scotland was furnished by the commercial clauses. The Scotch Parliament was very arbitrary and corrupt, and by no means a faithful representation of the people. The majority of the nation were certainly opposed to the Union, and, directly or indirectly, it is probable that much corruption was employed to effect it; but still the fact remains that by it one of the most ardent wishes of all Scottish patriots was attained, that there had been for many years a powerful and intelligent minority who were prepared to purchase commercial freedom even at the expense of the fusion of legislatures, and Edition: orig; Page: [65] that in consequence of the establishment of free trade the next generation of Scotchmen witnessed an increase of material well-being that was utterly unpredecented in the history of their country. Nothing equivalent took place in Ireland. The gradual abolition of duties between England and Ireland was, no doubt, an advantage to the lesser country, but the whole trade to America and the other English colonies had been thrown open to Irishmen between 1775 and 1779. Irish commerce had taken this direction; the years between 1779 and the rebellion of 1798 were probably the most prosperous in Irish history, and the generation that followed the Union was one of the most miserable. The sacrifice of nationality was extorted by the most enormous corruption in the history of representative institutions. It was demanded by no considerable section of the Irish people. It was accompanied by no signal political or material benefit that could mitigate or counteract its unpopularity, and it was effected without a dissolution, in opposition to the votes of the immense majority of the representatives of the counties and considerable towns, and to innumerable addresses from every part of the country. Can any impartial man be surprised that such a measure, carried in such a manner, should have proved unsuccessful? There was, it is true, one course that might have made it palatable. The Irish never dreamed of demanding the establishment of the Church of the majority, which in the case of Scotland was solemnly guaranteed by the Union. They never dreamed of demanding even that religious equality which, sixty-eight years after the Union, was at last conceded. The Union Treaty, indeed, had a special clause guaranteeing the perpetuity of the established Church of the inority, and it was one of the favourite arguments of Castlereagh that it would stereotype the inequality. But there was another and a much less ambitious end which the majority of the Irish people ardently desired. Had the Catholic population been able to look back to the Union as the era of their complete political emancipation, the whole current of Irish feeling might have been changed. The propriety of uniting Catholic Edition: orig; Page: [66] emancipation with the Union was self-evident, and Pitt naturally perceived it; but the actual proceedings of his Government on the subject combined so much folly with so much baseness that it would have been better had the question of emancipation never been raised. The shameful story will be hereafter told. It is sufficient here to say that the Government intimated to the leading Catholics that they would be in favour of emancipation if the Union were carried, and that they succeeded in this manner in obtaining some valuable ecclesiastical support, and in inducing the great body of the Catholics to remain passive during the struggle. But no sooner had the Union been carried than it appeared that the ministers were not even agreed in desiring emancipation, that they had not taken a single step to overcome the known opposition of the King, and that they were prepared to make no considerable sacrifice in favour of the Catholics. Pitt resigned office, indeed, when the King refused to consent to the measure, but he resumed it within a month, and he resumed it on the express understanding that he would oppose any attempt to carry emancipation. The Catholics for some years acted with perfect moderation, till it became evident to all men that their cause had not only not been assisted, but had even been greatly impeded by the Union. Then at last O'Connell induced them to change their policy. Duped and sacrificed by the English Government, they threw themselves into a violent agitation, brought the country to the verge of civil war, and obtained emancipation from a Tory ministry by the menace of rebellion. Such an episode was not likely to pacify the country, or to reconcile it to the sacrifice of its nationality; and it is not surprising that the organised agitation that was created should have been turned in the direction of repeal, or that the animosity produced by the Union should even now be far from extinguished.1

In all this there is nothing mysterious. The chain of cause and effect is very evident, and to understand it, it is only necessary Edition: orig; Page: [67] for an Englishman to exert in favour of an Irish Catholic a small amount of that useful form of imagination by which we realise the position and the feelings of others. It is obvious that the Union never ought to have been carried until some considerable section of the people desired it, and until it could be accompanied by the removal of religious disabilities. A nation, however, which has never been called upon to surrender its nationality is apt to underrate the difficulty of the sacrifice in others; and public writers, in whom this sentiment has usually been enfeebled by education or other causes, hardly recognise sufficiently its great power over large masses of men. But certainly the history of the Scotch Union, if rightly understood, should not lead men into this error, for it is most instructive to observe how tenacious and how violent was the hostility to the measure for many years after its material benefits had become apparent. Many influences concurred in aggravating the discontent. To anyone who will attentively study the subject, it will appear evident that the religious difficulty in Scotland in the beginning of the eighteenth century was even more serious than the religious difficulty in Ireland at its close. One section of the Scotch clergy had long denounced as sinful all allegiance to a sovereign who was connected with Episcopacy, and when the project of Union was announced it was met by a storm of religious invective. To enter into an adulterous union with a nation which had adopted the anti-Christian system of prelacy, to acknowledge the legislative and judicial authority of an assembly in which bishops sat, to recognise in innumerable public documents their titles as lords over God's heritage, to throw in the lot of Scotland with that of a nation which had so long persecuted the saints, was denounced as a complete apostasy from the true religion of the Covenant. Such a measure, it was said, was essentially and grossly sinful, and could not fail to entail upon the purer nation the Divine1 Edition: orig; Page: [68] wrath accumulated by the crimes of the oppressor. More moderate divines questioned whether any mere treaty provision could secure the establishment of Presbyterianism if the supreme legislative power were lodged with a Parliament consisting mainly of Episcopalians, and their apprehensions derived much weight from the fact that, soon after the Union, a Tory ministry, supported by a furious outburst of Church feeling, was in power. The Act securing the toleration of Episcopacy, the imposition of the abjuration oath on Presbyterians, the partial restoration by the imperial Parliament of that lay patronage which had been abolished by the Revolution, and the legal recognition of Christmas, were all esteemed great grievances by the Kirk.

There were also many others of a different kind. Edinburgh suffered from the withdrawal of the Parliament. Taxation was increased; the trade with France was stopped; the retail trade of Scotland was disturbed by the sudden influx of English goods; the commissioners of customs and excise appointed for carrying out the Union were chiefly Englishmen. The Scotch Privy Council was abolished in 1708 in defiance of the wishes of the great majority of the Scotch representatives. When the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in the same year on account of the Jacobite expedition, the Government availed themselves of their power to arrest many of their leading opponents, including Lord Belhaven and Fletcher of Saltoun, who were certainly not Jacobites, and who were actually carried, under custody, to London. It was very difficult to obtain convictions for treason in Scotland, and accordingly a Bill was framed in 1709 making the law in cases of treason the same throughout the whole kingdom; it was carried, in spite of the strenuous and almost unanimous opposition of the Scotch, in both Houses, and under its provisions eighty-nine Scotch rebels were carried in 1716 from Edinburgh to Carlisle to be tried by English juries. The House of Lords, too, exhibited an extreme and illiberal jealousy of the Scotch peers, and in 1711, when the English dukedom of Edition: orig; Page: [69] Brandon was conferred on the Duke of Hamilton, the Whig majority, including Somers and Cowper, in order to limit strictly the number of Scotchmen in the House, passed a resolution declaring that, although the sovereign had an undoubted right to confer English peerages on Scotch peers, these peerages did not carry with them the right of sitting or voting in the House of Lords, or of taking part in the trial of peers. This decision was dictated mainly by party and national feeling. It was all the more scandalous, because at this very time the Duke of Queensberry was sitting in the House by virtue of an English peerage bestowed on him since the Union, and it was not rescinded until the unanimous opinion of the judges was given against its legality, in 1782. In 1713 a new and terrible grievance arose when the malt-tax, which was one of the heaviest of English burdens, was extended to Scotland, where the poverty of the nation, and the poor quality of the native barley, made it almost insupportable.1 All these things, together with the constant insults to which the Scotch were exposed in London on account of their poverty, their pronunciation, or their birth, envenomed the minds of a proud people, who had but just consented to a most painful sacrifice of their nationality. The unpopularity of the Union, at the time it was carried, was abundantly shown by the addresses which poured in from every side against it, and by the fierce demonstrations in every leading city in Scotland.2 In 1708 the violent discontent produced by it was one of the chief reasons that induced Lewis XIV. to attempt a Jacobite invasion.3 In 1713, when the malt-tax was first extended to Scotland, the Scotch peers, and among them the Duke of Argyle, who had taken a leading part in carrying the Union, brought forward in the House of Edition: orig; Page: [70] Lords a motion for its repeal, and they were only defeated by a majority of four. In 1715 the deep dissatisfaction produced by the Union was a leading element of the Jacobite rebellion. In 1725 an attempt to levy the malt-tax in Scotland, produced in Edinburgh and Glasgow riots almost amounting to insurrection, and, but for the presence of a strong military force, the whole country would have been in a flame.1 In 1745, when the Pretender endeavoured to rally the nation around his standard, the most seductive offer he could make was a promise that he would restore the old Parliament of Scotland. How much longer the discontent smouldered on, it is impossible to say. There was then no such thing as popular suffrage or vote by ballot, and we can only glean from incidental notices the real sentiments of the people. It is impossible, however, not to be struck by the bitterness with which the Union was regarded, long after the rebellion of 1745, by such a Scotchman as Smollett, and at a still later period by such a Scotchman as Sir Walter Scott.

The industrial life, however, which it rendered possible was one of the most important elements in the regeneration of Scotland. The work was completed by another group of measures reducing the Highlands to a condition of comparative Edition: orig; Page: [71] civilisation. One serious obstacle to be encountered was the language, for there were great tracts in which the English tongue was unknown. The parochial schools were intended, among other objects, to spread the knowledge of English, and ‘to root out the Irish language,’1 and the same ends were very powerfully forwarded by a Scotch ‘Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge,’ which obtained letters patent from Anne in 1709, and was chiefly designed to dispel the ignorance of the Highlands. It established numerous schools in the mountain districts; and a very competent historian, writing in 1775, stated that, as a consequence of its efforts, public worship had in many places ceased to be celebrated in Gaelic, that Popery had considerably diminished, and that the English language was ‘so diffused, that in the remotest glens it is spoken by the young people.’2 The zeal in spreading the English language was, indeed, carried to such an extent that there were even those who objected to the diffusion of the Bible in the Highland tongue.3

Another great difficulty was the want of communications. As long as there were no roads through the Highlands it was impossible to restrain the influence of the chiefs, or to assert the authority of the law; and regular soldiers were almost powerless when matched against lightly-clad and hardened mountaineers, who knew every glen and mountain pass. After the rebellion of 1715 an Act was passed for disarming the Highlanders, and many barracks were built; but these measures proved utterly useless. The loyal clans alone brought in their arms. The soldiers were easily baffled and bewildered in the trackless mountains. They were ignorant of the language; they could obtain no information from the inhabitants, and Edition: orig; Page: [72] their presence tended rather to weaken than to strengthen the law, for it was a standing proof of the impotence of the Government.1 About 1726 Marshal Wade undertook to make the Disarming Act a reality, and at the same time to strike a deathblow to the power of the chiefs by opening up the Highlands. Surveyors and engineers were brought from England, one of them being that Captain Burt whom I have so often quoted. Troops were employed on extra pay to make the roads, and after about eleven years of patient labour, the greater part of the Highlands was made thoroughly accessible. The place which this enterprise occupies in history is not a great one, but very few measures have contributed so largely to the moral, material, and political civilisation of Scotland.2

The extension of education, the formation of a powerful middle class in consequence of the industrial development of the Lowlands, the Disarming Act, and, above all, the new roads that intersected the Highlands, gradually destroyed the absolute power which the chiefs exercised over their clans, brought them within the range of the law, and weakened that moral sentiment which lay at the root of their power. The Union contributed very powerfully to the same end; the political weight of the great majority of the Scotch nobles was destroyed; the sixteen representative peers legislated in England; London became the centre of their hopes, their ambitions, and their intrigues, and the bond of sympathy that had so closely united them to their people was slowly dissolved. The rebellions of 1715 and 1745 ruined many of the great Scotch families; some noblemen were executed, the property of others was confiscated, several were compelled to take refuge on the Continent and lived for a whole generation away from their clans. Edition: orig; Page: [73] In this manner the moral condition of the Highlands was profoundly modified, and the way was prepared for the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions by the Pelham ministry in 1746. This great measure was the natural consequence of the suppression of the rebellion; and although these jurisdictions had been guaranteed by the Union, their abolition was of such manifest advantage to the nation, and was so clearly inevitable through the causes I have enumerated, that it was carried with little difficulty. A compensation of about 150,000l. reconciled the gentry to the destruction of the last vestige of feudal power, and the hopeless ruin of the Jacobite cause put an end to all expectation of its revival.

Other measures, of much more doubtful benefit, were carried about the same time. Not content with again disarming the Highlanders, the Legislature passed an Act rendering it penal for them to wear their national dress; and by doing so it produced a deep and general irritation. A somewhat inquisitorial measure compelled all private teachers to take the oath of allegiance; and the Scotch Episcopal Church, which was still vehemently Jacobite, was crushed by laws of terrible severity. We have already seen how, by the Toleration Act of 1712, the oaths, both of allegiance and abjuration, and the obligation of praying by name for the sovereign, were imposed on all officiating clergymen; how this obligation was generally neglected; and how the Government usually connived at the neglect. In 1718, however, during an alarm about the Pretender, a severe law was enacted rendering all Episcopal clergymen who performed Divine worship without having taken the prescribed oaths liable to six months' imprisonment; and every religious assembly of nine or more persons, exclusive of the household, was declared to be a meeting-house within the meaning of the Act.1 The law was but little enforced. For many years after the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty, the Pretender seems to have habitually designated the clergyman who was to fill a Edition: orig; Page: [74] vacancy in the Scotch episcopacy.1 The whole of that episcopacy, as well as the great majority of the minor clergy, remained Nonjurors; and in each rebellion the Church was strongly on the side of the Pretender. The result was the crushing Act of 1746. It was enacted that every person who exercised the functions of pastor or minister in any Episcopal meeting-house in Scotland without registering his letters of orders, taking the prescribed oaths, and praying by name for the sovereign, should, on conviction, be imprisoned for six months for the first offence, transported for life to some of his Majesty's colonies for the second, and imprisoned for life if he returned; and any place where more than four persons besides the household assembled for public worship, was constituted a meeting-house under the provisions of the Act. The penalties were no longer confined to clergymen; every layman present at one of these illegal meetings who did not give information to the magistrate within five days, was liable to a fine of 5l. on the first conviction and to two years' imprisonment on the second. No one convicted of having been twice in one year at an illegal Episcopal meeting-house could sit in either House of Parliament, could vote for a representative peer or for a member of the House of Commons, could act as magistrate or councillor, or could hold for one year after conviction, any civil or military office in Scotland; and all judges and magistrates convicted of negligence in putting the Act into force were liable to a fine of 50l.2 Nor was this all. A supplementary Act provided that no clergyman, even if he had complied with all the provisions of the law, could officiate in Scotland unless he could produce letters of orders from a bishop of the Church of England or of Ireland.3 As the Scotch bishops were, without exception, Nonjurors, Edition: orig; Page: [75] their letters of orders were insufficient, and as it was impossible for Orders to be repeated, the effect of this law was to unfrock all the existing Episcopal clergy in Scotland, except the few who had been ordained out of the country. The clause was vehemently opposed by the English bishops, who dilated upon the disrespect shown to Episcopal orders, and, with more justice, upon the extreme hardship of depriving a large body of men—many of them guilty of no offence whatever—of their means of livelihood, and shutting against them every door of repentance. For a time the opposition was successful, and the clause was thrown out in committee; but by the strenuous efforts of Lord Hardwicke it was speedily restored.

These measures were certainly not unprovoked, but they were examples, I think, of a very excessive and injudicious severity; and they reduced one section of the Scotch people to a state of great suffering and depression, from which they were not relieved till the following reign. They did not, however, affect a sufficiently large proportion of the people to counteract the long train of favourable influences that were operating in Scotland, and the pacification of the Highlands rapidly advanced. The elder Pitt, by forming the Highlanders into Scotch regiments in the great war against France, gave a full vent and a new direction to their military qualities, created among them a new enthusiasm, and enabled them speedily to efface, by new and glorious deeds, the bitter recollections of the past.

The industrial habits that had taken such deep root in Scotland speedily penetrated to the relations between landlord and tenant, and the effects were by no means entirely good. A very painful transition took place from a state of society that rested upon feudal custom to a state of society that was governed by mercantile principles. Rack rents had, it is true, been known at a much earlier period,1 but they do not appear to Edition: orig; Page: [76] have been general during the first forty years of the eighteenth century; or, at least, they were not usually paid to the landlord. The system of middle-men, or, as they were termed, tacksmen, became almost universal; and it produced all those evils which were so well known in Ireland before the famine. The head tenant held his farm at a very low rent from the landlord; he sub-let it at a heavier rent, and sub-divided it to such an extent that farms which one family and four horses would suffice to cultivate had from four to sixteen families living upon them.1 In consequence of the clan system tenants were never displaced and rarely migrated, and they multiplied indefinitely on the same spot Rents were settled by custom; feudal duties were largely considered; the landlord cared more for maintaining around him skilful robbers and bold soldiers than for increasing his revenue; agriculture was at the lowest ebb. Such a system was very rude and barbarous, but it was impossible to overthrow it without inflicting much distress. Pennant, who visited Scotland in 1769, and Dr. Johnson, who visited it in 1773, have both left us vivid descriptions of the social and economic change that was at that time taking place. Rents of competition were everywhere replacing rents of custom. The landlord, being no longer a feudal chief, sought to increase his revenue by raising rents; the tenants resisted, and were ejected without scruple, and new tenants came in who, regarding the whole transaction in a commercial spirit, were entirely without feudal attachment to their landlord. The old hospitality exercised by the chief had ceased; his army of retainers disappeared; the clans were rapidly dispersing, some seeking to improve their lot in the great industrial cities of the Lowlands, and very many emigrating to America. In remote districts, where the spirit of enterprise had not penetrated, the change produced extreme distress; the tenants clinging desperately to their old farms, though their complete want of agricultural skill made it impossible for them to pay with tolerable comfort Edition: orig; Page: [77] the increased rents. The whole character of the people was rapidly changing, and the chief, who had once been looked upon as the father of his people, was too often regarded only as a rapacious landlord.1

There was much in this change that it is impossible to contemplate without regret, but the general result was on the whole beneficial. The deplorable agriculture which had so long contributed to impoverish Scotland began to give way before the stimulus of competition, and the economical condition of the Highlands was rapidly ameliorated. Some efforts to improve the agriculture or the breeds of cattle in Scotland had been made, about the time of the Union, by the Earl of Haddington, by Sir Archibald Grant, by Lockhart of Carnwath, and by Elizabeth Mordaunt—the daughter of Lord Peterborough and the wife of the eldest son of the Duke of Gordon.2 Large tracts were about the same time planted, the seats of the nobility were embellished,3 and a society ‘for improving the knowledge of agriculture’ was founded at Edinburgh in 1723;4 but it was not until after the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions that Scotch agriculture began to show any real promise of the admirable perfection it has since attained.5 If feudal virtues and some of the more romantic aspects of Highland life had diminished, the loss was more than compensated by the immense increase of order, sobriety, honesty, and security. The manners of all classes were softening. It is remarkable that the use of tea, which only became common among the upper classes in England late in the seventeenth century, had some time before the middle of the eighteenth century become general among the very poorest classes in the Lowlands, and was to a great extent superseding among them the use of intoxicating drinks.6 Edition: orig; Page: [78] The progress of the Highlands was even more startling than that of the Lowlands. Travellers said with truth that there was no recorded instance in Europe of so rapid and so extraordinary an improvement as took place in them in the thirty or forty years that followed the rebellion. In that time districts which had been for centuries nests of robbers became as secure as the counties about the metropolis, and some of the most inveterate vices were eradicated.1 A single instance will suffice to illustrate the magnitude of the change. I have already quoted the picture from Fletcher of Saltoun of the extraordinary extent to which the habits of vagabond and shameless mendicancy were, at the end of the seventeenth century, spread through the whole Scotch nation. It is a singularly curious fact that when Pennant visited Scotland, in 1769, one of the features with which that acute English traveller was especially, struck was the remarkable absence of beggars in a population that was still extremely poor. ‘Very few beggars,’ he said, ‘are seen in North Britain; either the people are full masters of the lesson of being content with very little, or, what is more probable, they are possessed of a spirit that will struggle hard with necessity, before it will bend to the asking of alms.’2

If I have been fortunate enough in the foregoing pages to Edition: orig; Page: [79] exhibit clearly the nature and the coherence of the measures I have enumerated and the magnitude of the economical and moral revolution that was effected, the history can, I think, hardly fail to have some real interest for my readers. There are very few instances on record in which a nation passed in so short a time from a state of barbarism to a state of civilisation, in which the tendencies and leading features of the national character were so profoundly modified, and in which the separate causes of the change are so clearly discernible. Invectives against nations and classes are usually very shallow. The original basis of national character differs much less than is supposed. The character of large bodies of men depends in the main upon the circumstances in which they have been placed, the laws by which they have been governed, the principles they have been taught. When these are changed the character will alter too, and the alteration, though it is very slow, may in the end be very deep. To trace the causes, whether for good or ill, that have made nations what they are is the true philosophy of history. It is mainly in proportion as this is done that history becomes a study of real value, and assuredly no historical school is more mischievous or misleading than that which evades the problem by treating all differences of national character as innate and inexplicable, and national crimes and virtues as the materials for mere party eulogy or party invective.

There is another and a much more serious school of writers who regard legislation simply as the product and expression of a state of thought and feeling otherwise created, and will scarcely admit that it has any independent influence in moulding the characters or determining the progress of nations. In this theory there is, doubtless, a considerable element of truth. No law can be permanently efficacious if it is opposed to those prevailing moral and intellectual tendencies which we call the spirit of the age. The best are those which, being suggested by some previous want, respect very closely the customs and dispositions of the people, and fall in with the tendencies of the time. Englishmen, at least, are in general free from the delusion so Edition: orig; Page: [80] prevalent on the Continent, that a nation which has been for generations ignorant, superstitious, intolerant, and enslaved, which has for ages been without the opportunities or the habits of political life, can be suddenly regenerated by removing every restraint and conferring upon it a democratic constitution. They know that the result invariably is either that the old despotism continues under a new name, or that a period of anarchy is followed by a period of reaction in which the small amount of liberty the nation might otherwise have enjoyed becomes impossible. They know that legislation greatly in advance of the nation for which it is intended will always prove pernicious or inoperative; that constitutions, in order to flourish, must grow out of the past condition of the country; that the system of government which is good for one nation is not necessarily good for another, and that the laws which were well suited for the infancy of a people are not equally suited for its maturity.

But although the effects of legislative and political influences on the formation of national character have been greatly exaggerated, although these effects probably diminish with the increasing complexity of society, and with the increasing force of its spontaneous energies, they both have been and are very real. The results of great movements of moral or intellectual advance would often have been transient had they not been consolidated by laws which arrested in some degree the reflux of the wave, kept the higher standard continually before the people, and prevented the tide of opinion from sinking altogether to its former level. Laws regulating the succession of property govern in a few generations the distribution of wealth, which more than any other single circumstance determines the social type, and thus affects the whole circle of opinions and of tastes. A skilfully framed system of national education has often contributed largely to settle the unfixed opinions of a nation and has always done very much to establish the character and the grade of national civilisation. By offering endowments for the cultivation of some one class of talents or the propagation of some one class of opinions, the legislator, if he abstains carefully from Edition: orig; Page: [81] shocking any strong national prejudice, may gradually invest those particular talents with a consideration they would never otherwise have possessed, and attract to those opinions a very disproportionate amount of the national ability. On the other hand, a great legislative injustice festers in the social body like a wound and spreads its influence far beyond the part immediately affected. The habits of arrogance, of servility, and of lawlessness it produces will propagate themselves from class to class till the whole type of the nation becomes more or less perverted.

Of the good effects of legislation upon national character we can hardly have a better example than is furnished by the succession of laws I have enumerated, beginning with the establishment of the Scotch Kirk in 1690, and ending with the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions in 1746. But although from this time the history of Scotland was one of uninterrupted progress there were still dark shadows on the picture, and it was many years before the English level of civilisation was altogether attained. Even torture, which had always been illegal in England, was legal and was practised in Scotland after the Revolution, and was only abolished by the Treason Act of 1709. The last traces of serfdom disappeared in England about the time of James I., but in Scotland colliers and labourers in the salt works were in a condition of serfdom during the greater part of the eighteenth century. They were legally attached for life to the works on which they laboured. Their children were bound to the same employment in the same place, and on the sale of the works their services were transferred to the new owner. It was only in 1775 that an Act was passed for their emancipation.1 Judicial corruption in England, in spite of one or two exceptional cases, may be said to have ceased at the Revolution, but in Scotland there is reason to believe that it was largely practised far into the eighteenth century.2 The political system was even more corrupt and more illusory than that of England; for while the borough Members were elected by the magistrates Edition: orig; Page: [82] and town councils, the qualification for the county Members was so high that the whole representation was often in the hands of a few families. The character of the Scotch Members was lowered by the fact that for many years after the Union they alone received regular wages for their attendance in Parliament,1 their greater poverty exposed them specially to temptation, and one of the worst effects of the Union on imperial politics was the great accession it gave, in both Houses, to the corrupt influence of the Crown. It was, indeed, the custom in England to regard the Scotch as the most slavish and venal of politicians, and the reproach was not wiped away till the Reform Bill of 1832 gave Scotland a real representation and created constituencies surpassing those of any other part of the kingdom in the average of their intelligence, purity, and liberalism.

It must be added, however, that the systematic support which Scotch Members and Scotch peers were accustomed to give to successive ministries did not extend to purely Scotch questions. The very unpopularity of Scotchmen drew them together, and in this class of questions they showed themselves singularly shrewd, tenacious, and implacable in their resentments. The admirable habit of conferring together on purely local matters and adopting a common line of policy before the discussions in Parliament, which has given the Scotch contingent nearly all the weight of a national legislature, was early adopted. It appears to have begun at the time of the organised opposition to the malt-tax in 1713,2 and it has contributed largely to promote the interests of their country. The murder of Captain Porteous in 1736, the complete impunity of the murderers, the weakness shown by the Provost, and the manifest connivance of a large part of the inhabitants of Edinburgh,3 were followed Edition: orig; Page: [83] by a severe Bill disabling the Provost from holding any public office, and at the same time depriving the city of its charter and of its guards, and taking away the gates of the Netherbow. The opposition of the Scotch was so fierce and general that the measure was at last reduced to one disabling the Provost from holding any future office, and imposing on the city the very moderate fine of 2,000l. for the benefit of the widow of Porteous. But the design against the city was never forgiven, and the animosity of the Scotch legislators against Walpole did much to hasten his fall.1 One Scotch Member, named Anstruther, had voted for the original Bill, and he received a regiment as the price of his vote; but when he afterwards visited his estate in Scotland, he found it necessary to assume a disguise in order to escape the vengeance of the people. When his election was contested, the Scotch Members voted to a man against him, and when, as late as 1751, he was accused on account of some alleged misgovernment at Minorca, the animosity of his countrymen was still conspicuously apparent.2

The manners of the people continued for some time to reflect very clearly their former degradation. The modes of life Edition: orig; Page: [84] produced by a long period of abject wretchedness are never at once removed by the introduction of comparative prosperity. What began by the force of necessity continues by the force of habit, and more than one generation must pass before it is changed. Industrial habits were rapidly growing, but it was a long time before they reached the English level.1 In spite of their admirable education, in spite of their Protestantism, in spite of their growing industry, the aspect of the Scotch population in the latter years of the eighteenth century was still extremely repulsive to an English eye. All the squalor of dress, person, and dwelling that now shocks the traveller in some parts of Ireland was exhibited in the Lowlands, and it was accompanied by a striking absence of the natural grace, the vivacity, the warm and hospitable spirit of an Irish population. These latter qualities existed, indeed, in Scotland, but only in the Highlands, and the tone of manners in the north and south of the country is said to have presented a stronger contrast than could be furnished by any other nation in Europe.2 The Edition: orig; Page: [85] many solid and noble elements of the Scotch character might, indeed, be clearly discerned, but many years had still to pass before the nation reached its present high standard in the externals of civilisation.

One evil of a different kind proved very inveterate. However great may have been the services which, in some respects, the Scotch Kirk has rendered to its country, it is incontestable that the religious bigotry it produced far exceeded that of any other considerable body in the kingdom, and its influence for evil as well as for good may even now be deeply traced in the character of the people.

The history of the Scotch Kirk, and the nature of the influence it exercised, have been treated, not many years ago, with great power, but with some prejudice, by one of the most thoughtful and eloquent of the historians of England. Buckle has, indeed, fully recognised its undoubted services to political liberty, but he has not, I think, done justice to the good effects of a stern moral discipline acting, during many generations, on a people singularly wild, wayward, and anarchical; to the strength of character infused into the nation by the fervent, though narrow, religious zeal with which all classes were saturated; or to the educational value of a system in which every sermon was an argument, and all the problems of religion were perpetually submitted to popular discussion. The Scotch Kirk is, indeed, a body which it is not very easy for those who are not in sympathy with its theology, to judge with equity. Few forms of religion have been more destitute of all grace or charm, more vehemently intolerant, and at the same time more ignorant and narrow. Those who take any wide or philosophical view of religious phenomena will find it peculiarly difficult to sympathise with men who, assuming the genuineness, authority, and absolute infallibility of the whole body of canonical writings without question and without discrimination, excluded on principle Edition: orig; Page: [86] all the lights which history, tradition, patristic writings, or Oriental research could throw upon their meaning; banished rigidly from their worship every artistic element that could appeal to the imagination and soften the character; condemned in one sweeping censure almost all Churches, ages, and religious literatures, except their own, as hopelessly benighted and superstitious, and at the same time pronounced, with the most unfaltering assurance, upon the most obscure mysteries of God and of religion, and cursed, with a strange exuberance of anathema,1 all who diverged from the smallest article of their creed. The Scotch ministers succeeded, indeed, in impressing their doctrines, with a peculiar definiteness, on the minds of their people, and in forming a high standard of principle, and a rare energy of conviction; but their system was not one to produce any real modesty of judgment, any gentleness or generosity of character, any breadth or variety of sympathy. Superstitious and intolerant as was the Catholic Church, it was at least in these respects superior. In a religion that rests ultimately on authority there is always something to mitigate the extreme arrogance of ignorant dogmatism. In a great and ancient religion, comprising within itself the accumulated traditions, literatures, and superstitions of many nations and of many centuries, influences from distant and various quarters are at least brought to bear upon the mind, and insular habits of thought are in some degree corrected. Popes and Councils may define their dogmas, every instrument of coercion or persuasion may be employed to reduce the mighty mass to uniformity, but still the religion will practically assume many forms. There will be degrees of realised belief, and types of devotion adapted to different characters, national peculiarities, and grades of intellect and knowledge; while a worship and a mythology appealing largely to the imagination, and a devotional literature appealing largely to the feelings, will supply an atmosphere in which religious minds can expatiate without concentrating themselves unduly on the dogmatic side of their Edition: orig; Page: [87] faith. In the Scotch Kirk a bare, hard, and narrow dogmatism was the very essence of religion, and was enforced with an intolerance that has never been surpassed. Of all the reformers, none breathed a spirit of such savage fanaticism as John Knox; and there was certainly no branch of the Protestant clergy who so long and so steadily denounced every form of religious toleration as his successors.1 It is wholly untrue that they were intolerant only in self-defence, and towards those whose principle was intolerance of others. The last and one of the very worst instances in British history of the infliction of death for the expression of religious opinions was the execution, in 1697, of Thomas Aikenhead, a young man of only eighteen, for the enunciation of some sceptical opinions which he was afterwards most anxious to recant, and this judicial murder was mainly due to the Scotch clergy.2 The Scotch Nonjurors made it one of their charges against William that he had sinfully suffered James II. to escape, instead of bringing his head to the block.3 For nearly a generation the Scotch ministers habitually denounced the toleration of Episcopalianism and of other Protestant sects with a vehemence quite as unqualified as that with which they had previously denounced the persecution directed against themselves; and when the Associate Presbytery seceded from the Establishment they announced in their ‘testimony’ that the institution of religious toleration was among the foremost ‘causes of God's wrath against sinful and backsliding Scotland.’4 In no part of the British empire—I imagine in no part of Protestant Europe—were prosecutions for witchcraft so frequent, so persistent, and so ferocious as in Scotland, and it was to the ministers that the persecution was mainly due. They employed all their influence in hunting down the victims, and they sustained the superstition by their teaching long after it had almost vanished in England.5 Hundreds of wretched Edition: orig; Page: [88] women have on this ground been burnt in Scotland since the Reformation, and the final sentence was preceded by tortures so horrible, various, and prolonged that several prisoners died through the torment.1 As late as 1678 no less than ten women were condemned to the flames on a single day on the charge of having had carnal intercourse with the devil.2

Even when the superstition had to a great degree died away among educated laymen, the influence of the clergy over the populace was such that acquittal itself was sometimes insufficient to save the life of the victim. A curious and very detailed contemporary account is preserved of a case of this kind which occurred in 1704–5 in the little town of Pittenweem in Fifeshire. A blacksmith in that town, having long been ill, at last declared himself to be suffering from witchcraft, and accused seven women as the culprits. They were at once arrested; a petition was presented from Mr. Cowper, the minister of the town, and from the Town Councillors for a commission to try them; but the Earl of Rothes, who was the sheriff, having instituted an inquiry, detected the imposture and released them. Among them was a poor, ignorant woman named Jane Corphar. When first ‘committed prisoner to the tolbooth upon suspicion of being a witch, she was well guarded with a number of men, who, by pinching her and pricking her with pins, kept her from sleep many days and nights, threatening her with present death unless she would confess herself guilty of witchcraft;’ and she herself alleged that Mr. Cowper had beaten her with his stick on her denying her guilt. The intended effect was produced; and wearied out with pain, sleeplessness, and terror, she confessed whatever they desired. On being visited, however, by the magistrates, she at once asserted Edition: orig; Page: [89] her innocence, declared that her previous confessions were all lies and were made ‘to please the minister and the bailies,’ and succeeded in obtaining her release. But the minister again appeared on the scene. It was stated that when the poor woman was charged with having renounced her baptism she gave the unmeaning, and probably purely ignorant, answer that ‘she had never renounced it but to the minister.’ For this offence Mr. Cowper summoned her to the Church, threatened her, and of his own authority ordered her to be confined in a prison that was in the building. She succeeded in escaping, but next day was arrested by the minister of a parish eight miles off, who, without giving any notice to the magistrates, sent her in custody to the minister of Pittenweem. ‘When she came to Mr. Cowper she asked him if he had anything to say to her; he answered, “No.”’ It was now evening, but it was with great difficulty she could find anyone in the town to shelter her. The storm was rapidly gathering around her. Next morning a fierce crowd had collected, who ‘went,’ writes our informant, ‘to Mr. Cowper and asked him what they should do with her. He told them he was not concerned, they might do what they pleased with her. They took encouragement from this to fall upon the poor woman, three of the minister's family going along with them, I hear.’ They seized her, beat her unmercifully, tied her so hard with a rope that she was almost strangled, dragged her by the heels through the streets and along the shore, bound her fast to a rope which they stretched at a great height between a ship and the land, swung her to and fro till they were weary—throwing stones at her meanwhile—and at last dashed her violently to the ground, all being ready to receive her with stones and staves. Her two daughters rushed in and fell upon their knees before the mob, imploring at least to be permitted to speak one word to their mother before she expired; but they were driven away with fierce threats. At last, after ‘three hours’ sport, as they called it,’ the woman was killed; the populace compelled a man with a Edition: orig; Page: [90] sledge and horse to drive several times over her head, and they placed her mangled corpse under a heap of stones at the door of the woman who had given her shelter on the previous night, whom they threatened with a similar fate. It was noticed that in his sermon on the following Sunday the minister did not introduce a single sentence expressing reprobation of the murder to which he had so largely contributed.1

This episode is probably typical of many others. Under the teaching of the Scotch clergy, the dread and hatred of witches rose to a positive frenzy; and the last execution for witchcraft, as well as the last execution for heresy, in the British Empire, took place in Presbyterian Scotland. As late as 1727 a mother and daughter were convicted of witchcraft; the daughter succeeded in escaping, but the old woman was burnt in a pitch-barrel.2 The associated Presbytery, in 1736, left a solemn protest against the repeal of the laws against witchcraft as an infraction of the express word of God.3

Other extravagances, if less pernicious, were even more grotesque. Thus, some of the clergy denounced the use of ‘fanners’ to winnow corn as impious, because by them men raised an artificial breeze in defiance of Him ‘who maketh the wind to blow as He listeth;’4 they denounced inoculation, till late in the eighteenth century, as flying in the face of Providence and endeavouring to baffle a Divine judgment;5 they denounced in repeated resolutions the legal vacation in December as a national sin, because it implied some recognition of the superstitious festival of Christmas;6 and they sometimes even thought it necessary to interfere on the same ground to put down the custom of eating a Christmas goose.7 A picture of Christ, Edition: orig; Page: [91] attributed to Raphael, formed part of a small collection which was exhibited in 1734 at Edinburgh and Perth. In the latter city it was at once denounced from the pulpit; a furious mob, shouting ‘Idolatry!’ ‘Popery!’ and ‘Molten images!’ surrounded the house where it was. It was saved with difficulty, and soon after the Seceders solemnly enrolled among the national sins of Scotland the fact that ‘an idolatrous picture of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was well received in some remarkable places of the land.’1 Theatres, assemblies, dancing, light literature, gaieties at weddings, all those forms of popular festivity which brighten the hard lot of the labouring poor, were inexorably condemned. An assembly for dancing which was established at Edinburgh in 1710 was denounced from the pulpit, attacked by a furious mob, and the doors were on one occasion perforated with red-hot spits.2 The first circulating library in Scotland, which was set up by Allan Ramsay in 1728, was denounced; and the magistrates were induced to take measures against it because it was made the means of disseminating plays and other light literature.3 The Scotch Sabbath became a proverb throughout Europe. Even after the Revolution, the magistrates in Edinburgh employed men called ‘seizers,’ whose function was to patrol the streets and arrest all who were found walking on Sunday during sermon time.4 On that dreary day it was esteemed sinful to walk in the fields, to stand in the streets, to look out of the window, to suffer little children to play, to travel even on the most urgent occasions, to pursue the most innocent secular recreation or employment, to whistle, to hum a tune, to bathe, or, in the opinion of some ministers, even to shave. Very few things affect so largely the happiness and the true civilisation of a people as the manner in which they are accustomed to spend the only day of the week in which, for the great majority of men, the burden of almost ceaseless labour is Edition: orig; Page: [92] intermitted. In Scotland, as far as the Church influence could extend, every element of brightness and gaiety on that day was banished, every form of intellectual and æsthetic culture was rigidly proscribed. In every parish a Kirk Session was established, consisting of the minister and his elders, who often employed spies to discover offences, and pried incessantly, not only into the opinions, but also into the domestic relations and private pursuits and manners of the parishioners; and the minister summoned offenders before the congregation, imposed upon them public and shameful penances, and if they resisted, subjected them to excommunication, which, in the existing state of society, cut them off from all intimate intercourse with their neighbours, and blasted their temporal and, as they believed, also their eternal prospects.1 There was, in truth, more real religious liberty in the seventeenth century at Naples and in Castile than in the Western Lowlands of Scotland.

This system cannot be exactly termed priestcraft, for the minister was strictly controlled by the congregation; and the elders, who were all laymen, took part in his judicial acts. As far, however, as freedom of action and liberty of dissent were concerned, it had the effects of a crushing sacerdotal tyranny; and it was supported by language about the claims and prerogatives of the Kirk, hardly less arrogant and imperious than that which issues from the Vatican.

The palmy days of this Church despotism were in the seventeenth century and in the early years of the eighteenth. From this time, many influences contributed gradually to weaken it. The cessation of persecution, the secure position of an established Church, the growth of industrial life, a more intimate connection with England, and also those intellectual agencies which during the eighteenth century were steadily lowering the theological temperature throughout Europe, had all their influence in Scotland. In the great centres especially Edition: orig; Page: [93] an opposition arose, and Allan Ramsay, Pitcairn, and a few others, bitterly assailed the pretensions of the clergy. A lady who was a very keen observer of the habits of her time, and who died at a great age, near the close of the eighteenth century, had the happy thought of writing down the changes of manners that occurred in Scotch society during her own life, as well as those which she had gathered from the lips of her older relations, and she has furnished us with several curious particulars illustrating the movement. The infusion of English ideas after the Union was very rapid. Some of the most considerable persons in Scotland were obliged to pass half the year in London, and naturally came back with a certain change in their ideas. The under officers of the Court of Exchequer and the Boards of Customs and Excise established in Scotland, were chiefly English, and being men of fashion they were hospitably received in the best Scotch society, and gradually modified its tone. About the same time the custom was largely extended of sending young men of fortune to Holland for their education, and permitting them afterwards to make a tour through France; and French manners, and to a certain degree French morals, began to penetrate into Scotch society. Luxury increased, and the severity of domestic discipline which had once prevailed rapidly disappeared. In the early years of the century we are told, ‘Every master was revered by his family, honoured by his tenants, and awful to his domestics. His hours of eating, sleeping, and amusement were carefully attended to by all his family, and by all his guests. Even his hours of devotion were marked that nothing might interrupt him. He kept his own seat by the fire or at the table with his hat on his head, and often particular dishes were served up for himself that nobody else shared of. His children approached him with awe, and never spoke with any degree of freedom before him. The consequence of this was that except at meals they were never together.’ There was a reverence for parents and elderly friends and generally an attention to the old which in the latter part of the century was unknown. The position of servants was still very humble. Edition: orig; Page: [94] They had ‘a set form for the week of three days broth and salt meat, the rest meagre, with plenty of bread and small beer.’ Until vails were abolished, the yearly wages of menservants were only from 3l. to 4l., those of maidservants from 30s. to 40s. The tables were covered with many dishes, and fine table-linen was greatly prized, but the gentry still eat off pewter and few persons except the richest noblemen kept a carriage. Girls, even in good families, were taught very little beyond reading, writing, and plain work. They spent their time chiefly in working tapestry or curtains for the house, and in reading long romances or books of devotion; they rarely appeared in public except at church, and at the great gatherings for baptisms, marriages, or funerals; and their chief task was to repeat psalms and long catechisms, in which they were employed an hour or more every day, and almost the whole day on Sunday. ‘They never eat a full meal at table. This was thought very indelicate, but they took care to have something before dinner, that they might behave with propriety in company.’ The intercourse of men with women, however, though not less pure, was much less reserved than in the latter part of the century. ‘They would walk together for hours or travel on horseback or in a chaise without any imputation of imprudence.’ The character of ‘a learned lady’ was greatly dreaded, and it was acquired by a very slight knowledge of the current literature of the time. Our informant has preserved from the recollections of her uncle a curious record of the ordinary way of spending Sunday in a gentleman's house in the first years of the century. At nine the chaplain read prayers to the family. At ten the whole household went regularly to church, which lasted till half-past twelve. At one the chaplain again read prayers, after which they had cold meat or an egg, and returned to church at two. The second service terminated at four, when they betook themselves to their private devotions, except the children and servants, who were convened by the chaplain and examined. This continued till five, when dinner was served. A few male friends usually partook of this meal, Edition: orig; Page: [95] and sat till eight. It was followed by singing, reading, and prayers conducted by the master himself, after which all retired to rest. ‘The fear of hell and deceitful power of the devil were at the bottom of all their religious sentiments.’ Almost every old house had its haunted chamber, where few dared to sleep; and dreams and omens were in high repute even among the most educated.1

All this, in the upper classes at least, gradually changed, and it was noticed that the decline of religious terrorism advanced step by step with the softening of the relations between parent and child, and between master and servant. In 1719 the Presbytery of Edinburgh passed some very characteristic resolutions lamenting the decadence of piety.2 They complained among other things that the people were now accustomed to walk or stand in the streets before or after service time on Sunday, that they even wandered on that day to fields and gardens, or to the Castle Hill, or stood idly gazing from their windows, and that ‘some have arrived at that height of impiety as not to be ashamed of washing in waters and swimming in rivers upon the holy Sabbath.’ Amateur concerts took root in Edinburgh about 1717.3 Two or three years later the fashion of large gatherings at the tea-table came in, and exercised a wide social influence, and about the same time clubs began rapidly to multiply.4 A love of dancing spread in certain circles, and was bitterly censured and deplored, and it was noticed by the more rigid Presbyterians, as a circumstance of peculiar poignancy, that the Cameronian March, called by the name of the saintly Cameron, was a favourite tune.5 A weekly assembly for dancing, and private balls carried on by subscription, began in Edinburgh to take the place as centres of social intercourse, once occupied by the gatherings at baptisms, Edition: orig; Page: [96] marriages, and burials;1 and about 1726 we even find a theatre established, though its existence was long very precarious.2 There was as yet little or no scepticism, and attendance at the Kirk was universal, but some preachers had arisen who entirely discarded the old style of dogmatic preaching, who banished from their sermons every description of religious terrorism, and were accustomed to represent the Christian religion chiefly as the purest rule of morals, the belief in a particular providence and a future state as the support in every trial, the distresses of individuals as necessary for exercising the affections of others, and the state of suffering as the post of honour. This kind of preaching became especially popular after the rebellion of 1745, when ideas of liberty were widely diffused. The phrase ‘slavery of the mind’ came then into common use. Nurses were dismissed for talking to the young of witches or ghosts, and the old ministers were ridiculed who preached of hell and damnation.3 It must be added that, by one of those curious contrasts not unfrequent when Churches aim at an excessive austerity, there existed in the midst of a rigid and externally decorous society a large amount of the most extravagant dissipation. We read of a Hell-fire Club in Edinburgh, and of a Sweating Club, whose members perpetrated infamous street outrages like those of the Mohocks in London, and it is certain that during a great part of the eighteenth century hard drinking and other convivial excesses were carried among the upper classes in Scotland to an extent considerably greater than in England, and not less than in Ireland.4

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This evil, however, appears to have been more in the second than in the first half of the century. In the second half of the century also, the kind of preaching I have described became more common in the fashionable quarters of the great towns. A small but very eminent party arose in the Established Church of Scotland, who fully reflected the more enlightened tendencies of their time; and among their ministers we find the great names of Blair, Ferguson, Home, Reid, and Robertson. This school, however—distinguished and admirable as it was—was almost confined to the great cities, and it had no real root among the people. It has been observed with truth that every popular schism in Scotland was inspired, not by a desire to innovate, but by a desire to restore the sterner discipline of the past. The empire of the Kirk over the greater part of Scotland, and over the poorer and middle classes, was but little shaken during the eighteenth century; and although it is scarcely possible for a Christian Church to exercise a supreme influence over a people without producing some excellent moral effects, it also contributed largely to narrow, darken, and harden the national character. The general standard of external decorum was, indeed, so far higher than in England that it was said that a blind man travelling southwards would know when he passed the frontier by the increasing number of blasphemies he heard. If there was a somewhat unusual amount of hypocrisy and censoriousness, no one who reads the letters of the time will question that there was also a very large amount of simple and unostentatious piety; while order, industry, and truthfulness were admirably displayed. The industrial virtues, however, for which Scotchmen are so eminently distinguished, can only be very partially attributed to the influence of the Kirk; for they spring naturally and almost spontaneously from good secular education and from an advanced industrial civilisation, while in some other branches Edition: orig; Page: [98] of morals no great improvement has been effected. It is well known that the statistics of drunkenness and the statistics of illegitimacy show that in point of sobriety the Scotch nation ranks among the lowest in Europe, and in point of chastity below either of the other parts of the kingdom. I cannot find that the discipline of the Scotch Kirk has ever had an influence in repressing drunkenness at all comparable to that which was exercised by Father Mathew in Ireland, and which was felt for an entire generation. Offences against chastity occupied a very prominent place in the proceedings of the Kirk Sessions and of the Scotch legislators, and penalties of an absurdly exaggerated description were employed to repress them. In 1695 thirty-two women of ill-fame were transported from Edinburgh to the American plantations.1 Offenders of a less serious kind were compelled to do public penance before the congregations in the churches, and, among other punishments, to stand in the pillory. The effects were what might have been expected. The extreme publicity given to these matters had no tendency to diminish the offence; the spectacle of the public penances attracted to the Kirk those who would certainly have found no other charm within its walls; and the excessive severity of the penalties imposed on the fallen led to a very serious increase of child-murder. On one day in the last century, four women were executed in Edinburgh for this offence; and they all declared that the dread of the pillory had prompted them to the crime.2 In the Northern districts the influence of the Kirk in this, as in other respects, appears to have been less felt; and it is somewhat remarkable that, in spite of all the efforts of the clergy, a great Scotch writer was able to state, long after the middle of the eighteenth century, that ‘in the Highlands of Scotland it is scarce a disgrace for a young woman to have a bastard.’3

Some of the higher and more attractive features also, of the Scotch character are to be attributed, not to the action of the Edition: orig; Page: [99] Kirk, but to a widely different source. We have seen in the foregoing pages how marked had been the opposition between the Highlands and the Lowlands, and in how great a degree the pacification and civilisation of Scotland depended upon the increasing predominance of the latter. It would, however, be a great mistake to suppose that the Highlands contributed nothing beneficial to the Scotch character. The distinctive beauty and the great philosophie interest of that character spring from the very singular combination it displays of a romantic and chivalrous with a practical and industrial spirit. In no other nation do we find the enthusiasm of loyalty blending so happily with the enthusiasm for liberty, and so strong a vein of poetic sensibility and romantic feeling qualifying a type that is essentially industrial. It is not difficult to trace the Highland source of this spirit. The habits of the clan life, the romantic loyalty of the clansman to his chief, the almost legendary charm that has grown up aroung Mary Queen of Scots and around the Pretender, have all had their deep and lasting influence on the character of the people. Slowly, through the course of many years, a mass of traditional feeling was formed, clustering around, but usually transfiguring, real facts. The devotion which sprang up among the countrymen of Knox, and in defiance of the hard Puritanism of the Kirk, to the mournful memory of the Catholic Queen, is one of the most touching facts in history. It was noticed by Dempster, only thirteen years after the tomb of Mary had been removed from Peterborough to Westminster Abbey, that devout Scots were accustomed to make pilgrimages to it as to the tomb of a martyr. It was supposed to have wrought numerous miracles, and is probably the last tomb in the kingdom to which this power has been ascribed.1 The clan legends, and a very idealised conception of clan virtues, survived the destruction of feudal power; and the pathos and the fire of the Jacobite ballads were felt by multitudes long after the star of the Stuarts Edition: orig; Page: [100] had sunk for ever at Culloden. Traditions and sentiments that were once the badges of a party became at last the romance of a nation; and a great writer arose who clothed them with the hues of a transcendent genius, and made them the eternal heritage of his country and of the world.

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CHAPTER VI.: ireland before the eighteenth century.

The history of Scotland in the eighteenth century furnishes us with one of the most remarkable instances on record of the efficacy of wise legislation in developing the prosperity and ameliorating the character of nations. In the history of Ireland, on the other hand, we may trace with singular clearness the perverting and degrading influence of great legislative injustices, and the manner in which they affect in turn every element of national well-being. This portion of the history of the empire has usually been treated by English historians in a very superficial and perfunctory manner, and it has been obscured by many contradictions, by much prejudice and misrepresentation. I propose in the present work to examine it at some length, and in doing so it will be my object, much less to describe individual characters or particular episodes, than to analyse the social and political conditions of the country, to trace historically the formation of the peculiar tendencies, affinities, and repulsions of the national intellect and character.

In order to accomplish this task it will be necessary to throw a brief glance over some of the earlier phases of Irish history. I leave it to professed antiquaries to discuss how far the measure of civilisation, which had undoubtedly been attained in Ireland before the English conquest, extended beyond the walls of the monasteries. That civilisation enabled Ireland to bear a great and noble part in the conversion of Europe to Christianity. It made it, in one of the darkest periods of the dark Edition: orig; Page: [102] ages, a refuge of learning and of piety. It produced not a little in architecture, in illuminations, in metal-work, and in music, which, considering its early date, exhibits a high degree of originality and of beauty; but it was not sufficient to repress the disintegrating tendencies of the clan system, or to mould the country into one powerful and united whole. England owed a great part of her Christianity to Irish monks who laboured among her people before the arrival of Augustine, and Scotland, according to the best authorities, owed her name, her language, and a large proportion of her inhabitants to the long succession of Irish immigrations and conquests between the close of the fifth and ninth centuries,1 but at home the elements of disunion were powerful, and they were greatly aggravated by the Danish invasions. It was probably a misfortune that Ireland never passed, like the rest of Europe, under the subjection of the Romans, who bequeathed, wherever they ruled, the elements of Latin civilisation, and also those habits of national organisation in which they were pre-eminent. It was certainly a fatal calamity to Ireland that the Norman Conquest, which in England was effected completely and finally by a single battle, was in Ireland protracted over no less than 400 years. Strongbow found no resistance such as that which William had encountered at Hastings, but the native element speedily closed around the new colonists, and regained, in the greater part of the island, a complete ascendency. The Norman settlers scattered through distant parts of Ireland, intermixed with the natives, adopted their laws and their modes of life, and became in a few years, according to the proverb, more Irish than the Irish themselves. The English rule, as a living reality, was confined and concentrated in the narrow limits of the Pale. The hostile power planted in the heart of the nation destroyed all possibility of central government, while it was itself incapable of fulfilling that function. Like a spear-point embedded in a living body, it inflamed all around it and de-ranged Edition: orig; Page: [103] every vital function. It prevented the gradual reduction of the island by some native Clovis, which would necessarily have taken place if the Anglo-Normans had not arrived, and, instead of that peaceful and almost silent amalgamation of races, customs, laws, and languages which took place in England, and which is the source of many of the best elements in English life and character, the two nations remained in Ireland for centuries in hostility.

Great allowance must be made for atrocities committed under such circumstances. The legal maxim that killing an Irishman is no felony, assumes, as has been truly said, a somewhat different aspect from that which partisan writers have given it, when it is understood that it means merely that the bulk of the Irish remained under their own Brehon jurisdiction, according to which the punishment for murder was not death, but fine.1 The edicts of more than one Plantagenet king show traces of a wisdom and a humanity beyond their age; and the Irish modes of life long continued to exercise an irresistible attraction over many of the colonists; but it was inevitable, in such a situation and at such a time, that those who resisted that attraction, and who formed the nucleus of the English power, should look upon the Irish as later colonists looked upon the Red Indians—as being, like wild beasts, beyond the pale of the moral law. Intermarriage with them was forbidden by stringent penalties, and many savage laws were made to maintain the distinction. ‘It was manifest,’ says Sir John Davis, ‘that such as had the government of Ireland under the crown of England did intend to make a perpetual separation and enmity between the English and Irish, pretending, no doubt, that the English should, in the end, root out the Irish.’2 A sentiment Edition: orig; Page: [104] very common in the Pale was expressed by those martial monks who taught that it was no more sin to kill an Irishman than to kill a dog; and that whenever, as often happened, they killed an Irishman, they would not on that account refrain from celebrating mass even for a single day.1

It was not until the reign of Henry VIII. that the royal authority became in any degree a reality over the whole island, but its complete ascendency dates only from the great wars of Elizabeth, which broke the force of the semi-independent chieftains, crushed the native population to the dust, and established the complete ascendency of English law. The suppression of the native race, in the wars against Shane O'Neil, Desmond, and Tyrone, was carried on with a ferocity which surpassed that of Alva in the Netherlands, and was hardly exceeded by any page in the blood-stained annals of the Turks. Thus a deliberate attempt was made by a servant of the British Government to assassinate in time of peace the great Irish leader Shane O'Neil, by a present of poisoned wine; and although the attempt failed, and the assassin was detected and arrested, he was at once liberated by the Government. Essex accepted the hospitality of Sir Brien O'Neil. After a banquet, when the Irish chief had retired unsuspiciously to rest, the English general surrounded the house with soldiers, captured his host with his wife and brother, sent them all to Dublin for execution, and massacred the whole body of his friends and retainers. An English officer, a friend of the Viceroy, invited seventeen Irish gentlemen to supper, and when they rose from the table had them all stabbed. A Catholic archbishop named Hurley fell into the hands of the English authorities, and before they sent him to the gallows they tortured him to extort confession of treason by one of the most horrible torments human nature can endure—by roasting his feet with fire.2 But these isolated episodes, by diverting Edition: orig; Page: [105] the mind from the broad features of the war, serve rather to diminish than to enhance its atrocity. The war, as conducted by Carew, by Gilbert, by Pelham, by Mountjoy, was literally a war of extermination. The slaughter of Irishmen was looked upon as literally the slaughter of wild beasts. Not only the men, but even the women and children who fell into the hands of the English, were deliberately and systematically butchered.1 Bands of soldiers traversed great tracts of country, slaying every living thing they met. The sword was not found sufficiently expeditious, but another method proved much more efficacious. Year after year, over a great part of Ireland, all means of human subsistence were destroyed, no quarter was given to prisoners who surrendered, and the whole population was skilfully and steadily starved to death. The pictures of the condition of Ireland at this time are as terrible as anything in human history. Thus Spenser, describing what he had seen in Munster, tells how, ‘out of every corner of the woods and glens, they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them. They looked like anatomies of death; they spoke like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrion, happy when they could find them; yea, and one another soon after, inasmuch as the very carcases they spared not to scrape out of their graves.’2 The people, in the words of Holinshed, ‘were not only driven to eat horses, dogs, and dead carions, but also did devour the carcases of dead men, whereof there be sundry examples. … The land itself, which before these wars was populous, well inhabited, and rich in all the good blessings of God—being plenteous of corn, full of cattle, well stored with fish and other good commodities—is now become … so barren, both of man and beast, that whoever did travel from the one end of all Munster, even from Waterford to the head of Smeereweeke, which is about sixscore miles, he Edition: orig; Page: [106] would not meet any man, woman, or child saving in towns and cities; nor yet see any beasts, but the very wolves, foxes, and other like ravening beasts, many of them laie dead, being famished, and the residue gone elsewhere.’1 ‘From Dingle to the Rock of Cashel,’ said an Irish annalist, ‘not the lowing of a cow nor the voice of the ploughman was that year to be heard.’2 The troops of Sir Richard Percie ‘left neither corne, nor horn, nor house unburnt between Kinsale and Ross.’3 The troops of Captain Harvie ‘did the like between Ross and Bantry.’4 The troops of Sir Charles Wilmot entered without resistance an Irish camp, where ‘they found nothing but hurt and sick men, whose pains and lives by the soldiers were both determined.’5 The Lord President, he himself assures us, having heard that the Munster fugitives were harboured in certain parts of that province, diverted his forces thither, ‘burnt all the houses and corn, taking great preys, … and, harassing the country, killed all mankind that were found therein.’ From thence he went to other parts, where ‘he did the like, not leaving behind him man or beast, corn or cattle, except such as had been conveyed into castles.’6 Long before the war had terminated, Elizabeth was assured that she had little left to reign over but ashes and carcases.7 It was boasted that in all the wide territory of Desmond not a town, castle, village, or farmhouse was unburnt; and a high English official, writing in 1582, computed that in six months, more than 30,000 people had been starved to death in Munster, besides those who were hung or who perished by the sword.8 Archbishop Usher afterwards described how women were accustomed to lie in wait for a passing rider, and to rush out like famished wolves to kill and to devour his horse.9 The slaughter of women as well as Edition: orig; Page: [107] of men, of unresisting peasants as well as of armed rebels, was openly avowed by the English commanders.1 The Irish annalists told, with horrible detail, how the bands of Pelham and Ormond ‘killed blind and feeble men, women, boys and girls, sick persons, idiots, and old people;’2 how in Desmond's country, even after all resistance had ceased, soldiers forced men and women into old barns which were set on fire, and if any attempted to escape they were shot or stabbed; how soldiers were seen ‘to take up infants on the point of their spears, and to whirl them about in their agony;’ how women were found ‘hanging on trees with their children at their breasts, strangled with their mother's hair.’3

In Ulster, the war was conducted in a similar spirit. An English historian, who was an eye-witness of the subjugation of the province, tells us that ‘Lord Mountjoy never received any to mercy but such as had drawn the blood of some of their fellow rebels.’ Thus ‘McMahon and McArtmoyle offered to submit, but neither could be received without the other's head.’ The country was steadily subdued by starvation. ‘No spectacle was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and especially in wasted countries, than to see multitudes of these poor people dead, with their mouths all coloured green by eating nettles, docks, and all things they could rend above ground.’ In the single county of Tyrone 3,000 persons in a few months were starved. On one occasion Sir Arthur Chichester, with some other English officers, saw three small children—the eldest not above ten years old—feeding off the flesh of their starved mother. In the neighbourhood of Newry, famine produced a new and appalling crime. It was discovered that some old women were accustomed, by lighting fires, Edition: orig; Page: [108] to attract children, whom they murdered and devoured.1 At last, hunger and the sword accomplished their work; Tyrone bowed his head before the storm, and the English ascendency was supreme.

It needs, indeed, the widest stretch of historic charity—it needs the fullest realisation of the manner in which, in the sixteenth century, civilised men were accustomed to look upon races they regarded as inferior—to judge this history with equity or moderation. A faint gleam of light falls across the dark and lurid picture in the humanity of Sir John Perrot. There were, no doubt, occasional vacillations and occasional pauses in the massacre. A general pardon was proclaimed in Munster after the suppression of the Desmond rebellion, and through the whole island after that of Tyrone. The cruelties were certainly not all on one side,2 and it must not be forgotten that a large proportion of the soldiers in the service of England were Irish Catholics.3 But, on the whole, the direction and the power of England were everywhere in the ascendant, and her policy was a policy of extermination. It is easy to imagine what feelings it must have planted in the minds Edition: orig; Page: [109] of the survivors, and what a tone of ferocity it must have given to the intercourse of the races. But, although the circumstances of these wars were recorded by a remarkable concurrence of contemporary annalists, it is probable that their memory would have soon perished had they not coincided with the adoption by the English Government of a new line of policy, vitally affecting the permanent interests of the nation. The devastation of Ireland in the closing years of Elizabeth was probably not at all more savage, and was certainly much less protracted, than that which Scotland underwent in the long succession of English invasions which began in 1296 under Edward I. and continued at intervals through the whole of the fourteenth century. But in the first place, in this, as in most other respects, the calamities of Scotland terminated at a much earlier date than those of Ireland; and, in the next place, the English invasions were in the end unsuccessful, and did not permanently affect the internal government of the country. In Ireland the English ascendency brought with it two new and lasting consequences, the proscription of the Irish religion and the confiscation of the Irish soil.

It was a very unfortunate circumstance that the period when the English nation definitively adopted the principles of the Reformation should have nearly coincided with the events I have related; but at the same time religious zeal did not at first contribute at all essentially to the struggle. The Irish chiefs repeatedly showed great indifference to religious distinctions, and the English cared much more for the suppression of the Irish race than for the suppression of its religion. The Bible was not translated into Irish. All persons were ordered, indeed, under penalty of a small fine, to attend the Anglican service; but it was ordered that it should be celebrated only in English, or, if that language was not known, in Latin. The mass became illegal; the churches and the church revenues were taken from the priests, but the benefices were filled with adventurers without religious zeal and Edition: orig; Page: [110] sometimes without common morality.1 Very naturally, under such circumstances, the Irish continued in their old faith. None of the causes that had produced Protestantism in England existed among them. The new religion, as represented by a Carew or an Essex, was far from prepossessing to their eyes; and the possibility of Catholic alliances against England began to dawn upon some minds. Some slight attempts were made by Irish chiefs to obtain the assistance of the Spaniards, and by the Spaniards to give the struggle the character of a war of religion; but these attempts had no result. A small expedition of Spaniards, with some English and Irish refugees, landed at Smerwicke in Kerry in 1579 to support the rebellion of Desmond, but they were besieged by the English, and after a hard struggle the survivors, numbering about 600, surrendered at discretion and were all put to death, as well as some women who were found with them in the fort. A larger expedition of about 3,500 men landed in Kinsale in 1601, and was joined by the followers of O'Donnell and Tyrone, but it was surprised and defeated by the English. The Spaniards were allowed to retire to their own country, and O'Donnell and many other Irish accompanied them, and planted in a happier soil families which in more than one instance produced noble fruit. From this time it was noticed that Irish exiles were scattered widely over the Continent. Great numbers of the old nobility of the land fought and fell under foreign flags, and ‘found their graves in strange places and unhereditary churches.’2 But on the whole, theological animosity is scarcely perceptible in this period of Irish history. The chief towns, though almost wholly Catholic, remained faithful to the English all through the Elizabethan wars; large numbers of Catholic Irish served under the English banner. There was little real religious persecution Edition: orig; Page: [111] on the one side, and little real religious zeal on the other. At the same time the religious worship of the whole nation was proscribed by law, and although that law was in many districts little more than a dead letter, although it was nowhere rigorously and efficiently enforced, the apprehension of the extirpation of their religion hung as a new terror over the Irish people.1

The other cause which was called into action, and which in this stage of Irish history was much more important, was the confiscation of Irish land. The great impulse which the discovery of the New World and the religious changes of the sixteenth century had imparted to the intellect and character of Europe, was shown in England in an exuberance of many-sided activity equalled in no previous portion of her history. It produced among other consequences an extraordinary growth of the spirit of adventure, a distaste for routine, an extreme desire to discover new and rapid paths to wealth. This spirit showed itself in the immense development of maritime enterprise both in the Edition: orig; Page: [112] form of discovery and in the form of piracy, and still more strongly in the passion for Irish land.1 The idea that it was possible to obtain, at a few hours' or days' journey from the English coasts, and at little or no cost, great tracts of fertile territory, and to amass in a few years gigantic fortunes, took hold upon the English mind with a fascination much like that which was exercised by the fables of the exhaustless riches of India in the days of Clive and of Hastings. The Government warmly encouraged it. They believed that the one effectual policy for making Ireland useful to England was, in the words of Sir John Davis, ‘to root out the Irish’ from the soil, to confiscate the property of the septs, and plant the country systematically with English tenants. There were chronic disturbances between the English Government and the Irish chiefs, who were in reality almost independent sovereigns, and these were made the pretexts for gigantic confiscations; and as the hunger for land became more intense, and the number of English adventurers increased, other methods were employed. A race of discoverers were called into existence who fabricated stories of plots, who scrutinised the titles of Irish chiefs with all the severity of English law, and who, before suborned or intimidated juries, and on the ground of technical flaws, obtained confiscations. Many Irish proprietors were executed on the most frivolous pretexts, and these methods of obtaining confiscations were so systematically and skilfully resorted to, that it soon became evident to chiefs and people that it was the settled policy of the English Government to deprive them of their land.2

Burke, who had studied Irish history with much care, and whose passing remarks on it always bear to an eminent degree the traces of his great genius, has noticed in a very remarkable passage, how entirely its real clue, during the period between Edition: orig; Page: [113] the accession of Elizabeth and the accomplishment of the Revolution, is to be found in this feature of the English policy.1 The wars of Elizabeth were not wars of nationality. The Irish clans had never been fused into a single nation; the country was much in the condition of Gaul before the conquests of Clovis, and wherever the clan system exists the national spirit is very faint and the devotion of the clansman is almost restricted to his clan. They were not wars of races. Desmond, who was of the purest Norman blood, was supported by his Irish followers with as much passionate devotion as O'Neil; and in the long catalogue of Irish crimes given by the English writers of the time, outrages against old English naturalised landlords find no place. They were not to any considerable extent wars of religion. Tyrone, indeed, made ‘liberty of conscience’ one of his demands; but he was so far from being inspired by the spirit of a crusade against Protestantism that he had assisted the Government against Desmond, and would probably have never drawn the sword had he not perceived clearly that his estate was marked out for confiscation. The real motive that stirred the Irish population through the land was the conviction that they were to be driven from the soil. Under the clan system it may easily be conceived what passionate indignation must have been excited by the attempt to expel the old chiefs Edition: orig; Page: [114] from their property, and to replace them by new owners who had no single object except to amass rapid fortunes, who had no single sympathy or interest in common with the natives. But this was not all. The Irish land customs of tanistry and gavelkind, as established by the Brehon laws, were still in full force among the Irish tribes. According to this system, the chief was not, like an English landlord, owner in fee of his land; he was elected, though only out of a single family, and the clan had a vested interest in the soil. The humblest clansman was a co-proprietor with his chief; he was subject, indeed, to many exactions in the form of tribute that were extremely burden-some and oppressive, but he could not be ejected, and he had large rights of inheritance of common land. His position was wholly different from, and in some respects very superior to, that of an English tenant. In the confiscations these rights were completely disregarded. It was assumed, in spite of immemorial usage, that the land was the absolute, hereditary property of the chiefs, and that no compensation was due to his tenants; and in this manner the confiscation of territory became a burning grievance to the humblest clansman.

If the object of the Government had been merely to replace the Irish land system by that of English law, such a measure might probably have been effected without exciting much lasting discontent. Great care would have indeed been needed in touching the complicated rights of chief and people, but there were on each side so many disabilities, restrictions, or burdens that a composition might without any insuperable difficulty have been attained. A very remarkable measure of this kind was actually carried in 1585, by Sir John Perrot, one of the ablest and most honourable men who, in the sixteenth century, presided over Irish affairs. An arrangement was made with ‘the nobilitie spiritual and temporal, and all the chieftains and Lords,’ of Connaught, to free them from ‘all uncertaine cesse, cuttings, and spendings,’ and at the same time to convert them into English proprietors. They agreed to surrender their titles and to hold their estates by patents of the Crown, paying Edition: orig; Page: [115] to the Crown certain stipulated rents, and discharging certain stipulated military duties. In addition to the freedom from capricious and irregular taxation which they thus purchased they obtained an hereditary possession of their estates, and titles which appeared perfect beyond dispute. The common land was to remain common, but was no longer to be divided. The tribes lost their old right of election, but paragraphs were inserted in many of the indentures not only confirming the ‘mean freeholders and tenants’ in their possessions, but also freeing them from all their money and other obligations to their chiefs. They were placed directly under the Crown, and on payment to the Crown of 10s. for every quarter of land that bore ‘corn or horn,’ they were completely freed from rent and services to their former landlords, but this latter measure was not to come into effect until the death of the chiefs who were then living. The De Burgo's, who were prominent among the Connaught nobles, for a time resisted this arrangement by force, but they were soon compelled to yield; and the creation of a large peasant proprietary was probably one cause of the comparative tranquillity of Connaught during many years.1

But this composition of Connaught stands altogether apart from the ordinary policy of the Government. Their usual object was to obtain Irish land by confiscation and to plant it with English tenants. The system was begun on a large scale in Leinster in the reign of Mary, when the immense territories belonging to the O'Mores, the O'Connors, and the O'Dempseys were confiscated, planted with English colonies, and converted into two English counties. The names of the Queen's County and of the King's County, with their capitals Maryborough and Philipstown, are among the very few existing memorials of a reign which Englishmen would gladly forget. The confiscation, being carried out without any regard for the rights of the humbler members of the tribes, gave rise, as might have been expected, to a long and bloody guerilla warfare, between the Edition: orig; Page: [116] new tenants and the old proprietors, which extended far into the reign of Elizabeth, and is especially famous in Irish memories for the treacherous murder by the new settlers of the Irish chiefs, who had with that object been invited to a peaceful conference at Mullaghamast. In Munster, after Desmond's rebellion, more than 574,000 acres were confiscated and passed into English hands. One of the conditions of the grants was that none of the native Irish should be admitted among the tenantry of the new proprietors.1 It was intended to sweep those who had survived the war completely from the whole of this enormous territory, or at least to permit them to remain only in the condition of day-labourers or ploughmen, with the alternative of flying to the mountains or the forests to die by starvation, or to live as savages or as robbers.

Fortunately it is easier to issue such injunctions than to execute them, and though the country was in a great degree planted from England not a few of the old inhabitants retained their hold upon the soil. Accustomed to live in wretched poverty, they could pay larger rents than the English; their local knowledge gave them great advantages; they were unmolested by the numerous robbers who had begun to swarm in the woods; and after the lapse of ten years from the commencement of the Settlement, Spenser complained that the new proprietors, ‘instead of keeping out the Irish, doe not only make the Irish their tenants in those lands and thrust out the English, but also some of them become mere Irish.’2 The confiscations left behind them many ‘wood kerns,’ or, as they were afterwards called, rapparees, who were active in agrarian outrage,3 and a vagrant, homeless, half-savage Edition: orig; Page: [117] population of beggars; but the ‘better sort’ of the Irish were by no means entirely uncivilised. An English ‘undertaker’ named Robert Payne, who obtained, in conjunction with some others, an estate in Munster, published in 1589 a ‘Brief Description of Ireland,’ in which he drew a very favourable picture of their habits. ‘The better sorte,’ he says, ‘are very civill and honestly given; the most of them greatly inclined to husbandrie, although as yet unskillful, notwithstanding through their great travell many of them are rich in cattle . …. Although they did never see you before, they will make you the best cheare their country yeeldeth for two or three days and take not anything therefor. Most of them speake good English and bring up their children to learning. I saw in a grammar-school at Limbrick one hundred and threescore schollers, most of them speaking good and perfect English, for that they have used to construe the Latin into English.1 They keep their promise faithfully, and are more desirous of peace than our Englishmen, for that in time of warres they are more charged; and also they are fatter praies for the enemie who respecteth no person. They are quicke witted, and of good constitution of bodie: they reform themselves daylie more and more after the English manners. Nothing is more pleasing unto them than to hear of good justices placed amongst them. They have a common saying, which I am persuaded they speake unfeinedly, which is, “Defend me and spend me;” meaning from the oppression of the worser sort of our countriemen. They are obedient to the laws, so that you may travel through all the land without any danger or injurie offered of the very worst Irish, and be greatly releaved of the best.’ Payne strongly urges the duty of fulfilling the terms of the grants, and planting the land with English, but he at the same time fully explains, though he censures, the preference of some of the undertakers for Irishmen. ‘They find such profit from their Irish tenants, who give them Edition: orig; Page: [118] the fourth sheafe of all their corne, and 16d. yearly for a beastes grass, beside divers other Irish accustomed dues. So that they care not, although they never place any Englishmen there.’1

It is no slight illustration of the amiable qualities of the Irish character that so large a measure of the charities of life as these passages indicate should have been found in Munster within four years after the great confiscations and after a war conducted by such methods as I have described. The system of tanistry, it must be remembered, did not exist on the estates of Desmond. A low level of comfort and much experience of the vicissitudes of civil war, helped to reconcile the survivors to their new lot, and a confiscation which in its plan was atrociously cruel, was somewhat mitigated in its execution. Still, feelings of fierce and lasting resentment must have rankled in many minds, and traditions were slowly forming which coloured the whole texture of Irish thought. In the north, Tyrone, by a timely submission, succeeded in saving his land; but soon after the accession of James I. a decision of the King's Bench, which had the force of law, pronounced the whole system of tanistry and gavelkind, which had grown out of the Brehon law, and which had hitherto been recognised in a great part of the island, to be illegal; and thus, without a struggle and without compensation, the proprietary rights of the natives were swept away. Then followed the great plantation of Ulster. Tyrone and Tyrconnel were accused of plots against the Government, whether falsely or truly is still disputed. There was no rebellion, but the earls, either conscious of guilt, or, quite as Edition: orig; Page: [119] probably, distrusting tribunals which were systematically and notoriously partial, took flight, and no less than six counties were confiscated, and planted with English and Scotch. The plantation scheme was conducted with much ability, partly by the advice of Bacon. The great depopulation of the country in the last war rendered it comparatively easy, and Sir John Davis noticed that, for the first time in the history of the confiscations, some attention was paid to the interests of the natives, to whom a considerable proportion of the confiscated land, selected arbitrarily by the Government, was assigned.1 The proprietary rights, however, of the clans, in accordance with the recent decision, were entirely disregarded. Great numbers of the old proprietors, or head tenants, were driven from their land, and the large Presbyterian element now introduced into Ulster greatly increased the bitterness of theological animosity. The new colonists also, planted in the old Irish territory, though far surpassing the natives in industrial enterprise, were of a class very little fitted to raise the moral level of the province, to conciliate a people they despised, or to soften the shock of a great calamity. The picture drawn of their general character by Stewart, the son of one of the ministers who came over, is probably a little over-coloured, but there is no reason to doubt its substantial truth, and it does much to explain the ferocious character of the rebellion that followed. ‘From Scotland came many, and from England not a few, yet all of them generally the scum of both nations, who from debt, or breaking or fleeing from justice, or seeking shelter, came hither, hoping to be without fear of man's justice, in a land where there was nothing, or but little as yet, of the fear of God. … On all hands Atheism increased, and disregard of God; iniquity abounded, with contention, fighting, murder, adultery. … Going to Ireland was looked on as a miserable mark of a deplorable person; yea, it was turned into a proverb, and one of the worst expressions of disdain that could be invented was to tell a man that “Ireland Edition: orig; Page: [120] would be his hinder end.”’ ‘Although among those whom Divine Providence did send to Ireland,’ says another Presbyterian writer, ‘there were several persons eminent for birth, education, and parts, yet the most part were such as either poverty, scandalous lives, or, at the best, adventurous seeking of better accommodation, had forced thither.’1

The aspect of Ireland, however, was at this time more encouraging than it had been for many years. In the social system, as in the physical body, the prostration of extreme illness is often followed, with a strange rapidity, by a sudden reflux of exuberant health. When a nation has been brought to the utmost extremities of anguish; when almost all the old, the sick, the feeble have been hurried to the grave; when the population has been suddenly and enormously reduced; when great masses of property have quickly changed hands; and when few except the most vigorous natures remain, it may reasonably be expected that the cessation of the calamity will be followed by a great outburst of prosperity. Such a rebound followed the Black Death, which in the fourteenth century swept away about a fourth part of the inhabitants of Europe; and a similar recovery, on a smaller scale, and due in part at least to the same cause, took place in Ireland after the Elizabethan and the Cromwellian wars, and after the great famine of the present century. Besides this a new and energetic element was introduced into Irish life. English law was extended through the island. The judges went their regular circuits, and it was hoped that the resentment produced by recent events would be compensated or allayed by the destruction of that clan system which had been the source of much disorder, by the abolition of the exactions of the Irish chiefs, and by the introduction of skilful husbandmen, and therefore of material prosperity, into a territory half of which lay absolutely waste, while the other half was only cultivated in the rudest manner.2 It was inevitable that Edition: orig; Page: [121] the English and the Irish should look on the Plantation in very different ways. In the eyes of the latter it was a confiscation of the worst and most irritating description; for, whatever might have been the guilt of the banished earls, the clans, who, according to Irish notions, were the real owners of the soil, had given no provocation; and the measure by breaking up their oldest and most cherished customs and traditions, by banishing their ancient chiefs, by tearing them from their old homes, and by planting among them new masters of another race, and of a hostile creed, excited an intensity of bitterness which no purely political measure could possibly have produced. In the eyes of the English the measure was essential, if Ulster was to be brought fully under the dominion of English law, and if its resources were to be developed; and the assignment of a large part of the land to native owners distinguished it broadly and favourably from similar acts in previous times.1 It met with no serious resistance. Even the jury system was at once introduced, and although it was at first found that the clansmen would give no verdicts against one another, jurymen were speedily intimidated into submission by fines or imprisonment.2 In a few years the progress was so great that Sir John Davis, the able Attorney-General of King James, pronounced the strings of the Irish harp to be all in tune, and he expressed both surprise and admiration at the absence of crime among the natives, and at their complete submission to the Edition: orig; Page: [122] law. ‘I dare affirm,’ he wrote, ‘that for the space of five years past there have not been found so many malefactors worthy of death in all the six circuits of this realm (which is now divided into thirty-two shires at large) as in one circuit of six shires, namely, the western circuit, in England. For the truth is that in time of peace the Irish are more fearful to offend the law than the English or any other nation whatsoever.’ ‘The nation,’ he predicted, ‘will gladly continue subjects, without adhering to any other lord or king, as long as they may be protected and justly governed, without oppression on the one side or impunity on the other. For there is no nation or people under the sun that doth love equal or indifferent justice better than the Irish; or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves; so as they may have the protection and benefit of law when upon just cause they do desire it.’1

But yet it needed little knowledge of human nature to perceive that the country was in imminent danger of drifting steadily to a fearful catastrophe. The unspeakable horrors that accompanied the suppression of the Irish under Elizabeth, the enormous confiscations in three provinces, the abolition of the land customs most cherished by the people, the legal condemnation of their religion, the plantation among them of an alien and hostile population, ever anxious to root them from the soil—all these elements of bitterness, crowded into a few disastrous years of suffering, were now smouldering in deep resentment in the Irish mind. Mere political changes leave the great body of the community untouched, or touch them only feebly, indirectly or superficially; but changes which affect religious belief or the means and conditions of material subsistence are felt in their full intensity in the meanest hovel. Nothing in Irish history is more remarkable than the entire absence of outrage and violence that followed the Ulster Plantation, and for the present at least the people showed themselves eminently Edition: orig; Page: [123] submissive, tractable, and amenable to the law. But the only possible means of securing a permanence of peace was by convincing them that justice would be administered with impartial firmness, and that for the future at least, under the shadow of English rule, their property and their religion, the fruits of their industry, and the worship of their God, would be scrupulously respected. Had such a spirit animated the Government of Ireland, all might yet have been well. But the greed for Irish land which had now become the dominating passion of English adventurers was still unsated, and during the whole of the reign of James a perpetual effort was made to deprive the Irish of the residue which remained to them. The concessions intended in the plantation scheme were most imperfectly carried out. ‘The commissioners,’ writes a temperate Protestant historian, ‘appointed to distribute the lands scandalously abused their trusts, and by fraud or violence deprived the natives of the possessions the king had reserved for them.’1 In the small county of Longford, twenty-five members of one sept were all deprived of their estates, without the least compensation, or any means of subsistence assigned to them.2 All over Ireland the trade of the Discoverer now rose into prominence. Under pretence of improving the king's revenue, these persons received commissions of inquiry into defective titles, and obtained confiscations, and grants at small rents for themselves. In a country which had but just emerged from barbarism, where English law had but recently become supreme, where most possession rested chiefly on immemorial custom, and where constant civil wars, many forfeitures, and a great and recent change in the tenure of land had all tended to confuse titles, it was totally impossible that the majority of the proprietors could satisfy the conditions that were required of them, and the proceedings in the law courts were soon an infamous mockery of justice. Grants made by Henry II. were revived Edition: orig; Page: [124] to invalidate the undisturbed possessions of centuries. Much of the country had passed in the early Plantagenet period from Norman into Irish hands, as the circle of the Pale was contracted; and if the present proprietors could not establish their titles clearly and indisputably by documentary evidence, if, possessing such evidence, the smallest technical flaw could be discovered, the land, in the absence of any other claimant, was adjudged to the Crown. Everywhere, says Carte, discoverers were at work finding out flaws in men's titles to their estates. The old pipe-rolls were searched to find the old rents reserved and charged upon them; the patent rolls in the Tower of London were ransacked for the ancient grants.1 It was discovered that several ancient grants had reserved rents to the Crown, which had for generations been unpaid and undemanded. Acquittances were now demanded, and as they could not be produced, some of the best titles were in this manner invalidated. The Judges, who were removable at pleasure, warmly supported the Government in straining the law to the utmost limits. In general, the terrified proprietors saved themselves by paying composition, surrendering their titles, and receiving them back with increased rents to the Crown. Every man's enjoyment of his property became precarious, and the natives learnt with terror that law could be made in a time of perfect peace, and without any provocation being given, a not less terrible instrument than the sword for rooting them out of the soil.2 In a case which Carte records it was found impossible, by any legal chicanery, to deprive a family named O'Byrne, in the County Wicklow, of an estate which was coveted. But another method was more successful. Sir William Parsons and his accomplices trumped up a false criminal charge against Edition: orig; Page: [125] the proprietor. They induced men of the most infamous characters to support it, and one witness who refused to give the evidence they required, was tortured into compliance by being placed on a burning gridiron.1 It was this sept which first rose to arms in Leinster in the insurrection of 1641.

One fraud of a more gigantic description was contemplated. It was hoped that Sir John Perrot's great measure of the composition of Connaught had at least placed the titles of that province beyond all dispute, and given them the fullest security of English law. The measure, however, had been taken before the scheme for seeking confiscations by legal quibbles had been devised, and it had been somewhat carelessly carried out. The lords and gentlemen of Connaught had surrendered their estates to the Crown, had complied with the conditions of the new tenure, and had paid their compositions to the Crown with an acknowledged punctuality; but they had very generally neglected to enrol their surrenders or to take out their patents. The defect, however, was supplied by King James, who in the thirteenth year of his reign issued a commission to legalise the surrenders of the estates, which were reconveyed by new and regular patents under the Great Seal of England. The fees for the enrolment of these patents, amounting in all to 3,000l., were fully paid; but it was found, at the very time when the enthusiasm for plantations was at its height, that by the neglect of the officers of the Court of Chancery the patents and the surrenders had not been duly enrolled in the Court of Chancery. On the ground of this technical flaw, which was due exclusively to the neglect of the Government officials, and for which the Connaught proprietors were in no degree responsible, the titles of all the estates in the province, though guaranteed under the King's broad seal, were pronounced invalid, and the estates were said to be still vested in the Crown. The project of making a plantation of Connaught similar to the Plantation of Ulster was devised and adopted. The terror produced by this prospect was extreme, and the conviction of Edition: orig; Page: [126] the Connaught gentry that no real justice could be obtained was so strong that they offered to purchase a new confirmation of their patents by doubling their annual compositions, and by paying to the King what was at that time the very large sum of 10,000l. It was estimated that this was as much as the King would gain by a plantation, and it is probable that the sum would have been accepted, when the death of James interrupted the scheme.1

It is not surprising under these circumstances, that on the accession of Charles I. a feverish and ominous restlessness should have pervaded Irish life. The army was increased. Religious animosities became much more apparent than before. The security of property was shaken to the very foundation. The native proprietors began to feel themselves doomed to certain and speedy destruction. Universal distrust of English law had grown up, and the murmurs of discontent, like the first moanings of a coming storm, might be plainly heard. One more effort was made by the Irish gentry to persuade, or rather to bribe the Government to allow them to remain undisturbed in the possession of their property. They offered to raise by voluntary assessment the large sum of 120,000l., in three annual instalments of 40,000l., on condition of obtaining certain Graces from the King. These Graces, the Irish analogue of the Petition of Rights, were of the most moderate and equitable description. The most important were that undisturbed possession of sixty years should secure a landed proprietor from all older claims on the part of the Crown, that the inhabitants of Connaught should be secured from litigation by the enrolment of their patents, and that Popish recusants should be permitted, without taking the Oath of Supremacy, to sue for livery of their estates in the Court of Arches, and to practise in the courts of law. The terms were accepted. The promise of the King was given. The Graces were transmitted by way of instruction to the Lord Deputy and Council, and the Government also engaged, as a further security to all proprietors, that their Edition: orig; Page: [127] estates should be formally confirmed to them and to their heirs by the next Parliament which should be held in Ireland.

The sequel forms one of the most shameful passages in the history of English government of Ireland. In distinct violation of the King's solemn promise, after the subsidies that were made on the faith of that promise had been duly obtained, without provocation or pretext or excuse, Wentworth, who now presided with stern despotism over the government of Ireland, announced the withdrawal of the two principal articles of the Graces, the limitation of Crown claims by a possession of sixty years and the legalisation of the Connaught titles. The object of this great and wicked man was to establish a despotism in Ireland as a step towards a despotism in England. If the King could command without control a powerful army and a large revenue in Ireland, he would have made a great stride towards emancipating himself from the Parliament of England. The Irish Parliament was no serious obstacle. It was too dependent, too intimidated, and a great ruler might safely defy it. ‘I can now say,’ wrote Wentworth, ‘that the King is as absolute here as any prince in the whole world can be.’1 It was necessary, however, to the scheme to increase to the utmost the King's revenue and to neglect no source from which it might be replenished. With this object Wentworth developed with great and commendable energy the material resources of the country, and, though he discouraged the woollen trade in the interests of English manufacturers, he was the real founder of the linen manufacture. With this object he compelled the new colonists at Londonderry to redeem their titles, which he impugned on account of a technical flaw in a covenant, by the payment of no less than 70,000l. With this object he induced the King to maintain his ancient claims, and he resolved, at once and on a large scale, to prosecute the plantation of Connaught. The means employed were hardly less infamous than the design. Inquisitions were made in every county in Connaught. In order to preserve the show of justice, juries were Edition: orig; Page: [128] summoned, and were peremptorily ordered to bring in verdicts vesting all titles in the King. Every means was taken to insure compliance. Men such ‘as might give furtherance in finding a title for the King’ were carefully selected, and a grant of 4s. in the pound was given to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chief Baron out of the first yearly rent raised upon the commissions of defective titles, ‘which money,’ the Deputy somewhat cynically adds, ‘I find to be the best that was ever given. For now they do intend it with a care and diligence such as it were their own private; and most certainly the gaining to themselves every 4s. once paid, shall better your revenue ever after at least 5l.’ The sheriffs and the Judges were the creatures of the Government, and Wentworth was present to overcome all opposition. The juries were assured that the project was for the advantage of the King and of the country, that if they presumed to give unfavourable verdicts those verdicts would be set aside, and that ‘they might answer the King a round fine in the Castle Chamber in case they should prevaricate.’ In county after county terrified juries brought in the verdict that was required. In Galway alone the jury refused to do so, and the enraged Deputy at once imposed a fine of 1,000l. on the sheriff who had summoned them, and bound the recalcitrant jurors to appear in the Castle Chamber, where they were each sentenced to pay the enormous fine of 4,000l. and to lie in prison till it was paid.1

The titles of Connaught now lay at the feet of the Deputy, but at the last moment the scheme of plantation was deferred. It was plain that it would produce a rebellion in Ireland; and as the conflict between the King and the English Parliament was now rapidly moving to its crisis, it was thought advisable to postpone the change till a quieter time. From this date, however, the great insurrection had become inevitable. The policy of Wentworth was fully approved by his sovereign; he Edition: orig; Page: [129] was made Earl of Strafford, and he soon after passed to England to encounter a dark and a terrible fate; but he left behind him in Ireland rage, and anguish, and despair. It had become clear beyond all doubt to the native population that the old scheme of ‘rooting them out’ from the soil was the settled policy of the Government; that the land which remained to them was marked as a prey by hungry adventurers, by the refuse of the population of England and Scotland, by men who cared no more for their rights or happiness than they did for the rights and happiness of the worms which were severed by their spades. It had become clear to them that no loyalty, no submission, no concession on the part of the people, and no promises or engagements on the part of the Government, would be of any avail to avert the doom which, withdrawn for a time but ever imminent, now hung in perpetual menace over the native race.

There was but one thing which they valued more than their land, and that also was in peril. By the legislation of Elizabeth the Act of Uniformity was established in Ireland; all religious worship except the Anglican was made illegal; all persons who were absent from church without sufficient excuse were liable for each Sunday to a fine of 1s., and all ecclesiastics and other officials were bound under severe penalties to take the Oath of Supremacy. It is clear, however, that this legislation neither was nor could have been enforced. The churches over a great part of the island were in ruins. Protestant ministers were very few. The overwhelming majority of the population within the old Pale, and nearly the whole population beyond its borders remained attached to the Catholic faith. Law was everywhere very feeble, and the Government was actuated much more by secular than by theological motives. In the towns and the more civilised districts, the churches and their revenues were taken from the Catholics, and in a very few cases the fines stipulated by law were imposed; but even the disqualification for civil offices was by no means generally enforced. In the troubles of this reign five Irish Catholic bishops perished Edition: orig; Page: [130] either by execution or by the violence of soldiers, and the Catholic primate died a prisoner in the Tower of London; but in most, if not all, of these cases, political motives were probably at the root of the severity.1 The Mass, when it was driven from the churches, appears to have been celebrated without molestation in private houses; and it is probable that in a large part of the island the change in the legal religion was hardly perceived.

But on the accession of James I., religious antagonism on both bides became more apparent. Foreign ecclesiastics were fanning the devotion of the people, and their hopes on the accession of the new sovereign speedily rose. In Cork, Waterford, Cashel, Clonmel, and Limerick, the townspeople, with the support or connivance of the magistrates, violently took possession of the churches, ejected the reformed ministers, celebrated the mass, and erected crosses. It was found necessary to march troops into Munster. At Cork there was some slight opposition; a few lives were lost, and a few executions followed. To the remonstrance of the Deputy, the Cork authorities answered that ‘they only exercised now publicly what they had ever before been suffered to exercise privately; and as their public prayers gave testimony to their faithful hearts to the King, so they were tied to be no less careful to manifest their duties to God, in which they would never be dissembling temporisers. The disturbed districts, however, speedily submitted, and were quieted by an Act of indemnity and oblivion published by proclamation; but a petition was soon after presented to the King by the recusants of the Pale asking for open toleration; and it was followed by a royal proclamation announcing that no freedom of worship would be conceded, and ordering all Popish priests to leave the kingdom. Some of the magistrates and Edition: orig; Page: [131] other leading inhabitants of Dublin were fined and imprisoned for not attending the Protestant service. The latter part of the sentence was entirely illegal, and the old English families of the Pale drew up a bold remonstrance against it. The Government replied by throwing their delegates into prison. The Act of Supremacy was also more widely and more severely enforced, but the Government soon relapsed into that modified tolerance which was almost essential in a country where probably ninety-nine out of every hundred inhabitants were attached to the proscribed religion. The strengthening of the Protestant interest in Ireland was, however, one great object of the Plantation of Ulster.1

The Government of Charles I. pursued a somewhat similar policy, but there were many new signs of an alarming animosity. It is open to anyone to maintain that the Irish Catholics would never have been content with any position short of ascendency; but whatever plausibility this theory may derive from the experience of other countries, there is no real evidence to support it in Irish history. The object of the Catholic population was merely to obtain security and open recognition for their religion, but it was plain that their zeal was steadily increasing. For some time after the Reformation Catholics in Ireland as in England had shown little scruple in attending, when required, the Anglican service; but their preachers now denounced such compliance as a deadly sin, and a Bull of Urban VIII. exhorted the people to suffer death rather than take the Oath of Supremacy. In a country where almost the whole proprietary of the country, both of English and Irish descent, remained attached to Catholicism, the practical administration of affairs was necessarily in favour of that religion. The Catholics were still a great political power. They were numerous among the Members of Parliament and the magistrates, in the corporations, and at the bar, though they were constantly liable to be called on to take the oath of supremacy, Edition: orig; Page: [132] and were subject to a good deal of irritating and capricious tyranny.1 They formed the great majority of the freeholders. They included most of the great old English families, and they were no longer content with the mere toleration of connivance. On the other hand, the Protestant party in the spirit of that time were inflexibly opposed to a full toleration. An assembly of prelates, convened by Archbishop Usher in 1626, declared that ‘the religion of Papists is superstitious and idolatrous; their faith and doctrine erroneous and heretical; their Church, in respect to both, apostatical; to give them, therefore, a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion and profess their faith and doctrine, is a grievous sin.’2 Usher and other prelates preached vehemently against toleration, and the English House of Commons supported them by a remonstrance to the King, complaining bitterly that ‘the Popish religion was publicly professed in every part of Ireland, and that monasteries and nunneries were there newly erected.’ In the same spirit, Falkland, who immediately preceded Wentworth as Deputy, and who was much inclined to tolerate Catholics, was compelled by the Puritanical party to issue a proclamation complaining of the growing insolence of the Popish ecclesiastics since the intermission of prosecutions, and peremptorily ordering them, ‘in his Majesty's name, to forbear the exercise of their Popish rites and ceremonies.’3 The site of the Purgatory of St. Patrick which was the object of deep reverence among the Irish Catholics was by order of the Government dug up and defaced. Trinity College had been founded by Elizabeth for the support of Protestantism, and as no students were admitted without taking the Oath of Supremacy, the Catholics had established an educational institution of their own. They had also boldly erected churches and monasteries in Dublin, and in one of them Carmelite monks officiated in their robes. The Archbishop of Dublin and the chief magistrate of the city invaded this church at the head Edition: orig; Page: [133] of a party of soldiers, and tried to disperse the congregation, but an angry scuffle ensued, stones were thrown, and the Protestants were compelled to retire. The English Council at once issued an order confiscating for the King's use fifteen religious houses, and also the new college which the Catholics had founded, and handing over the latter to its Protestant rival.1 The negotiation about the Graces was chiefly carried on by Popish recusants, who paid the greater part of the voluntary subsidy to the Government, in the vain hope of obtaining security for their estates. Wentworth abstained from all direct interference with their religion, but he extorted additional subsidies from them by threatening, in case of their noncompliance with his demands, to enforce the laws against Popery, and it is probable that they understood that his project of planting Connaught with Protestant settlers would be the prelude to the suppression of their worship. That this, at least, was the intention of the Deputy we know by his own words. In one of his letters he expressly states that the suppression of every other religion than that established by law was one great aim of his policy; that he thought it wise to defer the execution of that policy till the confiscations in Connaught had been duly accomplished, and that he hoped by the new plantation to secure such a Protestant predominance as would enable him to accomplish his design.2

Meanwhile, from another quarter, new and terrible dangers were approaching. The Puritan party, inspired by the fiercest fanaticism against Popery, were rising rapidly into power. The Scotch rebellion had the double effect of furnishing the Edition: orig; Page: [134] Irish Catholics with an example of a nation rising by arms to establish its religion, and of adding to the growing panic by placing at the head of Scotch affairs those who had sworn the Solemn League and Covenant, and from whom the Papists could look for nothing but extirpation. It was rumoured through Ireland that the covenanted army had threatened never to lay down arms till uniformity of religion was established through the whole kingdom; and a letter from Scotland was intercepted, stating that a covenanted army under General Lesly would soon come over to extirpate Catholicism in Ulster. In the English Parliament, one of the first and most vehement objects of the Puritan party was to put an end to all toleration of Popery. By an address from the House of Commons, all Roman Catholic officers were driven from the army. An application was made to the King to enforce the confiscation of two-thirds of the lands of the recusants, as well as the savage law which in England doomed all Catholic priests to the gallows. Some of them were arrested, but reprieved by the King, and this reprieve was made a prominent grievance by the Parliament. Seven priests were soon afterwards hung, at the request of the Parliament, for no other crime than that of celebrating the Mass; but before this, the explosion in Ireland had begun. Reports of the most alarming character, some of them false or exaggerated, flew rapidly among the Irish Catholics. It was said that Sir John Clotworthy had declared in Parliament that the conversion of the Irish Papists could only be effected with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other; that Pym had boasted that the Parliament would not leave one priest in Ireland; that Sir William Parsons predicted at a public banquet that, within a twelvemonth not a Catholic would be seen in Ireland. Petitions were presented by the Irish Presbyterians to the English Parliament praying for the extirpation of prelacy and popery in Ireland.1 It was believed, with much reason, that Edition: orig; Page: [135] there was a fixed design among the Puritan party, who were now becoming supreme, to suppress absolutely the Catholic worship in Ireland, and to ‘the publishing of this design’ Ormond ascribed the great extension of the rebellion which now broke out.1

The rebellion was not, however, due to any single cause, but represented the accumulated wrongs and animosities of two generations. The influence of the ejected proprietors, who were wandering impoverished among the people, or who returned from military service in Spain; the rage of the septs, who had been deprived of their proprietary rights and outraged in their most cherished customs; the animosity which very naturally had grown up between the native population and the alien colonists planted in their old dominions; the new fanaticism which was rising under the preaching of priests and friars; all the long train of agrarian wrongs, from the massacre of Mullaghamast to the latest inquisitions of Wentworth; all the long succession of religious wrongs, from the Act of Uniformity of Elizabeth to the confiscation of the Irish College under Charles—all these things, together with the opportunity caused by the difficulties of England, Edition: orig; Page: [136] contributed to the result. Behind the people lay the maddening recollections of the wars of Elizabeth, when their parents had been starved by thousands to death, when unresisting peasants, when women, when children, had been deliberately massacred, and when no quarter had been given to the prisoners. Before them lay the gloomy and almost certain prospect of banishment from the land which remained to them, of the extirpation of the religion which was fast becoming the passion as well as the consolation of their lives, of the sentence of death directed against any priest who dared to pray beside their bed of death. To the most sober and unimpassioned judgment, these fears were reasonable; but the Irish were at this time as far as possible from sober and unimpassioned. The air was hot, feverish, charged with rumours. In this case there was no safety in quiet, and there was no power on which they could rely. The royal authority was manifestly tottering. Sir William Parsons, the most active of the Lords Justices, leaned strongly towards the Parliament; he was one of the most unprincipled and rapacious of the land-jobbers who had, during the last generation, been the curse of Ireland. He had been chief agent in the scandalous proceedings against the O'Byrnes, and if we may believe the account of Carte, who has described this period with far greater means of information than any other historian, Parsons ardently desired and purposely stimulated rebellion in order to reap a new crop of confiscations. Week after week, as the attitude of the English Parliament became more hostile, the panic in Ireland spread and deepened; and as the shadow of approaching calamity fell darkly over the imaginations of the people, strange stories of supernatural portents were readily believed. It was said that a sword bathed in blood had been seen suspended in the air, that a Spirit Form which had appeared before the great troubles of Tyrone was again stalking abroad, brandishing her mighty spear over the devoted land.1

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I can only give the briefest sketch of the confused and horrible years that followed. The great Irish rebellion broke out in Ulster on the night of October 22, 1641. It had been noticed before, that a large concourse of strangers from distant parts of the kingdom had been thronging to Dublin, and on the evening before the outbreak in the North, the Lords Justices received intelligence, of undoubted weight, of a conspiracy to surprise Dublin Castle. Every precaution was taken to protect it, and for six weeks after the insurrection broke out in Ulster almost the whole of the other three provinces remained passive. On November 12, indeed, a furious popular and agrarian rising broke out in Wicklow1 in the territory of the O'Byrnes—who had been, as we have seen, so recently and so flagitiously robbed of their property—and all the English were plundered and expelled from the land which had been confiscated; but the Catholic gentry of Munster and Connaught stood firm to their allegiance, and although predatory bands appeared in a few parts of Leinster the general defection of the Pale did not take place till the beginning of December.2 Although there is no doubt that a few Leinster gentlemen were connected with the plot from the beginning, it is almost certain that the great body were at first completely loyal and were only driven into the rebellion most reluctantly. Carte has strongly maintained, and Leland fully supports his view, that the policy of the Lords Justices was directly responsible for their defection. It is certain that the Lords Justices, representing a powerful party in England, were keenly desirous of obtaining as large forfeitures as possible, and their policy was eminently fitted to drive the Catholic gentry to despair. They began by recalling the arms which they had entrusted to the nobles and inhabitants of the Pale. They then, at a time when the Wicklow rebellion and the multiplication of robbers made the position of unarmed men peculiarly dangerous Edition: orig; Page: [138] in the country districts, issued a proclamation ordering all persons who were not ordinary inhabitants of Dublin to leave the city within twenty-four hours, and forbidding them to approach within two miles of it. By this measure the inhabitants of the neighbouring districts were forced into perpetual intercourse with the rebels, compelled to support them by contributions, and thus brought at once into the meshes of the law. The English Parliament recommended the offer of a pardon to such rebels as submitted, but the Lords Justices in their proclamation excluded Ulster, which was the chief seat of the rebellion, restricted their offers to Longford, Louth, Meath, and Westmeath, which had been slightly disturbed—and clogged their offers by such restrictions as made them almost nugatory. Above all, they prorogued the Irish Parliament, contrary to the strong remonstrances both of Ormond and of the Catholic gentry, at a time when its continuance was of vital importance to the country. It contained a large proportion of those who were subsequently leaders of the rebellion, but it showed itself strongly and unequivocally loyal; and at a time when the Puritan party were rising into the ascendant, and when there was a great and manifest disposition to involve as many landed proprietors as possible in the guilt of the rebellion, the Catholic gentry regarded this Parliament as their one means of attesting their loyalty beyond dispute, and protecting in some degree their properties and their religion.1

Whether these measures were really taken with the intention Edition: orig; Page: [139] that has been alleged, or whether they were merely measures of precaution, has been much contested; and the question is, perhaps, not susceptible of any positive solution. One fact, however, concerning the defection of the Pale is not questionable. It is, that the rebellion only assumed its general character in consequence of the resolution of the English House of Commons which determined, in the beginning of December, that no toleration should be henceforth granted to the Catholic religion in Ireland. It was this policy, announced by the Parliament of England, that drove the Catholic gentry of Ireland very reluctantly into rebellion. In Wicklow, it is true, and in the adjoining county of Wexford, the rebellion, as I have said, assumed an agrarian character; and in many different parts of the country bands of simple robbers were soon called into existence. But in general the rebellion out of Ulster was a defensive religious war entered into for the purpose of securing a toleration, and ultimately an establishment, of the religion of the Irish people. Some of the Catholic gentry, and especially Lord Clanricarde, exhibited in this trying period a loyalty that could not be surpassed; and during all the tangled years of civil war that followed, the Catholic party showed themselves quite ready to be reconciled to the Government if they could only have obtained a security for their religion and their estates.1 In Ulster, however, the rebellion assumed a wholly distinct character, and Edition: orig; Page: [140] was speedily disgraced by crimes which, though they have been grossly, absurdly, and mendaciously exaggerated, were both numerous and horrible. Hardly any page of history has been more misrepresented than that which we are now describing, and it is extremely difficult to distinguish truth from fiction; but without entering into very minute details it will be possible, I think, to establish a few plain facts which enable us to discern clearly the main outline of the events.

It has been asserted by numerous writers, and is still generally believed, that the Ulster rebellion began with a general and indiscriminate massacre of the Protestants, who were living without suspicion among the Catholics, resembling the massacre of the Danes by the English, the massacre of the French in the Sicilian Vespers, or the massacre of the Huguenots at St. Bartholomew. Clarendon has asserted that ‘there were 40,000 or 50,000 of the English Protestants murdered before they suspected themselves to be in any danger, or could provide for their defence’;1 and other writers have estimated the victims within the first two months of the rebellion at 150,000, at 200,000, and even at 300,000. It may be boldly asserted that this statement of a sudden surprise, immediately followed by a general and organised massacre, is utterly and absolutely untrue. As is almost always the case in a great popular rising, there were, in the first outbreak of the rebellion, some murders, but they were very few; and there was at this time nothing whatever of the nature of a massacre.2 The Edition: orig; Page: [141] first intelligence of the outbreak appears to have been given by Lord Chichester, who wrote to the King from Belfast on October 24, describing the proceedings of the rebels and the measures he was taking for the defence of Carrickfergus. ‘The Irish,’ he wrote, ‘in the northern parts of your Majesty's kingdom of Ireland, two nights last past, did rise with force, and have taken Charlimont, Dongannon, Tonragee, and the Newry, with your Majesty's stores there—townes all of good consequence, the farthest within forty miles of this place, and have slain only one man, and they are advancing near to these parts.’1 Their leader, Sir Phelim O'Neil, had the reputation much more of a weak and incapable, than of a deliberately cruel man;2 and it is a remarkable fact that on the 24th he issued a proclamation from Dungannon declaring that his rising was in no wise intended against the King, or ‘for the hurt of any of his subjects, either of the English or Scotch nation; but only for the defence and liberty of ourselves and the Irish natives of this kingdom.’ He at the same time ordered all persons, under pain of death, to return to their houses, promised that what damage had been done to them should be repaired, and denounced the penalty of death against any who committed outrages.3

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It is impossible to say with confidence whether this proclamation represented the real sentiments of the leader, but it is at least certain that it did not represent those of the Irish in Ulster. The rebellion broke out in the counties which had so recently been confiscated, and before the first week elapsed, the English were everywhere driven from their homes, and their expulsion was soon accompanied by horrible barbarities. The Scotch, however, who formed the great majority of the Protestants in Ulster, were at first entirely unmolested. Partly because the rebels feared to attack them, and partly through hopes of a future alliance, it was agreed to pass them by; and during the weeks in which the power of the rebels in Ulster was most uncontrolled, this agreement seems to have been faithfully observed.1 But the English in the open country Edition: orig; Page: [143] were deprived at once of all they possessed. The season was unusually inclement. The wretched fugitives often found every door closed against them, and perished in multitudes along the roads. Probably by far the greater number of those who were represented as massacred died in this manner from cold, and want, and hardship. The aspect in which the insurrection appeared to Protestants who were living in the midst of it appears very vividly in the ‘Life of Bishop Bedell’ by his son-in-law Clogy—a little book which ought to be read by all who desire to form a reasonable judgment on the subject. Clogy, though he uses much vague but highly-coloured language, about the bloody and ferocious character of the rebellion, speaks of no murders within his own knowledge, but he informs us that Bedell was the only Englishman in the whole county of Cavan who was not driven from his home, and that the corn, cattle, and other provisions were seized by the rebels. ‘There was no people under heaven,’ he writes, ‘lived in a more flourishing state and condition for peace, and plenty of all things desirable in this life, when on a sudden we were turned out of house and hold, and stript of all outward enjoyments, and left naked and bare in the winter, and on the Sabbath day put to flight that had no place to flee to for refuge. The land that a little before was like the garden of Eden was speedily turned into a desolate wilderness.’1 At the same time there appears to have been no general attempt to destroy the fugitives, and in this county, at least, the Irish systematically gave quarter even to those who resisted them. The rebels were commanded by O'Reilly, and, as far as his influence extended, he showed a remarkable humanity and good faith. Belturbet was compelled to surrender, and O'Reilly took ‘1,500 persons out of the town, and sent them with their goods towards Dublin under a convoy, which took Edition: orig; Page: [144] care to plunder them by the way.’ Robert Baily delivered up his castle, and all the Protestants under his command, on a capitulation which was faithfully observed. The Castles of Balanenagh, of Keilagh, and of Crohan were compelled to surrender on honourable terms, which were scrupulously fulfilled. Such of the Protestants as placed themselves under the protection of O'Reilly were safely convoyed into the English quarters, and those who were stripped and in necessity were fed and clothed.1 Bedell, when the whole county was in the hands of the rebels, was suffered to receive and shelter multitudes of poor Protestants, among others, the rector of Belturbet—who after the Restoration was made Bishop of Elphin—in the rooms and outhouses of his castle, and in his church.2 The fugitives were, indeed, after a time obliged to leave him; but though they passed through the midst of the rebels, not one miscarried, and not a thread of their garments was touched.3 After living for eight months in a country wholly occupied by the rebels, the family of Bedell, and among its members his biographer, were escorted, together with about 1,200 English who had been compelled by want of provisions to surrender, to the English garrison at Drogheda. The escort consisted of 2,000 rebels. The journey lasted seven days. ‘The rebels,’ says Clogy, ‘offered us no violence—save in the night, when our men were weary with continual watching, they would steal away a good horse, and run off—but were very civil to us all the way, and many of them wept at our parting from them, that had lived so long and peaceably amongst them, as if we had been one people with them.’4

All this took place in Ulster at the time when the rebellion was at its height, and when the power of the rebels was most unbroken. The county of Cavan was, however, a very favourable specimen. It is said to have been freer from murder than Edition: orig; Page: [145] any other county in Ulster,1 and it is also the county about which we know the most. It appears, however, to me at least, quite certain that in the other counties in Ulster, the dominant character of the rebellion was plunder and not massacre, and that the chief object of the rebels was only to expel the English from the houses and territory they had occupied. In carrying out this enterprise, great numbers were brutally murdered, but great numbers also were suffered to escape. In Fermanagh 6,000 women and children were saved by Captain Mervyn.2 Numbers of Protestants were sheltered by the mother of Sir Phelim O'Neil. From Armagh and the surrounding country many hundreds of plundered English were sent under Irish convoy to Dublin.3 Thousands of fugitives, we are told, thronged the city, and great numbers of others found a refuge in Derry, Coleraine, Carrickfergus, and Belfast.4 Of the earliest depositions, a large proportion recount the hardships and losses of Englishmen who were either plundered or kept for long periods prisoners by the rebels, in a manner which would be perfectly unintelligible if the usual fate of Englishmen at Irish hands was death. Carte, basing his narrative on Edition: orig; Page: [146] the manuscript journal of a Protestant officer who was in the service in the beginning of the rebellion, describes with some minuteness the proceedings of the rebels for nearly a month after the rebellion broke out, in the counties of Antrim, Derry, and Down. There is not a trace in this narrative of the massacre of Englishmen who were not engaged in combat, though it is clear that those who lived in the country districts were driven from their homes, and that the Irish on three different occasions acted with much perfidy to prisoners. The rebels were evidently an undisciplined and almost unarmed rabble, and when they came in contact with the regular troops who formed the galrisons of the strong towns, they were often slaughtered almost without resistance. In the first week of the rebellion, near Dromore, Colonel Crawford with his troop ‘killed about 300 of them without the loss of one man on their own side.’ Next day, Colonel Maxwell, hearing that a party had planted themselves in an ambuscade among the bushes near the same town, issued forth, and ‘starting them like so many hares out of their forms, killed about 150 of them.’ On November 8, the Protestants at Lisnegarvy repulsed Sir Phelim O'Neil and his forces ‘with the slaughter of 88 of their number and without the loss of a man of their own in the skirmish.’ The rebels, however, had some successes, and on November 15, we are told, those in Down, after a fortnight's siege, ‘reduced the Castle of Loargan—Sir William Bromley, after a stout defence, surrendering it upon terms of marching out with his family and goods; but such was the unworthy disposition of the rebels that they kept him, his lady, and children, prisoners, rifled his house, plundered, stripped, and killed most of his servants, and treated all the townsmen in the same manner.’ ‘This,’ our informant adds, ‘was the first breach of faith which the rebels were guilty of (at least in these parts), in regard to articles of capitulation; for when Mr. Conway, on November 5, surrendered his castle of Bally Aghie, in the county of Derry, to them, they kept the terms for which he stipulated, and allowed him to march out with his men, and carry away trunks with plate and money in Edition: orig; Page: [147] them to Antrim.’1 Two cases of aggravated barbarity occurred in the county of Fermanagh, where the rebels took the small castles of Lisgold and Tullagh, and massacred the defendants after they had surrendered upon composition.2

The letters of the Lords Justices, written during the first panic of the rebellion and intended to paint it in the blackest colours, describe it, no doubt with perfect truth, as accompanied by many acts of atrocious barbarity, but they always dwell chiefly upon the plunder, and their language is certainly not that which would have been employed in describing a general massacre. Thus on November 5, when there was ample time to have obtained full intelligence of the massacre if it had taken place, the Lords Justices inform the Privy Council that the rebels ‘have seized the houses and estates of almost all the English in the counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, and a great part of the county of Edition: orig; Page: [148] Down, some of which are houses of good strength, and dispossessed the English of their arms, and some of the English gentlemen whose houses they seized (even without any resistance, in regard to the suddenness of their surprise), the rebels most barbarously not only murdered, but, as we are informed, hewed some of them to pieces. …. In these their assaults of the English they have slain many, robbed and spoiled thousands, reduced men of good estates in land, who lived plentifully and well, to such a condition as they left them not so much as a shirt to cover their nakedness.’1 In another letter of the same date, intended to be read before the House of Commons, they state that ‘no age had produced in this kingdom an example of so much mischief done in so short a time, as now we find acted here in less than a fortnight's space by killing and destroying so many English and Protestants in several parts, by robbing and spoiling of them and many thousands more of His Majesty's good subjects, by seizing so many castles, houses, and places of strength in several parts of the kingdom, by threatening the English to depart or otherwise they will destroy them utterly, and all their wickedness acted against the English and Protestants with so much inhumanity and cruelty as cannot be imagined to come from Christians even towards infidels.’2 On November 25, they wrote: ‘The Ulster rebels are grown so strong as they have sufficient men to leave behind them in the places they have gotten northwards and to lay siege to some not yet taken, as Enniskillen in Fermanagh and Agher in Tyrone, and yet to come many thousands to besiege Drogheda. … They have already taken Mellifont the Lord Moor's house, though with a loss of about 120 men of theirs, and there in cold blood they murdered ten of those that manfully defended that place.’3

It is, to me at least, entirely incredible that the writers of this despatch should have dwelt so particularly on the enormity of the slaughter of ten soldiers, under circumstances that might have occurred in any modern war, if the rebels had been guilty during the three preceding weeks of a general massacre of unresisting Edition: orig; Page: [149] men in the least resembling the Sicilian Vespers or St. Bartholomew. In the numerous letters extending over the first months of the rebellion, preserved in the memoirs of Lord Clanricarde, though the rebellion in the North is constantly referred to, there is not a trace of such a general massacre as has been alleged. The gentry of Cavan, when taking arms, addressed a remarkable paper justifying their conduct, to the Lords Justices. It is now known that this paper was drawn up by Bedell, who was at that time their prisoner, and the Lords Justices thought it deserving of an elaborate reply. That reply is dated November 10, nearly three weeks after the rebellion had broken out.1 It does not contain the faintest allusion to a massacre, though it is perfectly inconceivable that such a topic should have been omitted in such a document if it had really taken place. On November 30, a full month after the rebellion is said to have assumed its most atrocious form, Ormond wrote to Charles I. describing it. He confesses that he had ‘little good intelligence,’ but still it is extremely remarkable that he makes no mention of murders, and dwells mainly on the wholesale robberies that were committed. ‘The rebels,’ he says, ‘are in great numbers, for the most part very meanly armed with such weapons as would rather show them to be a tumultuary rabble than anything like an army. Yet such is our present want of men, arms, and money that though we look with grief upon the miseries the English suffer, by robbing of them in a most barbarous manner, yet we are in no wise able to help them.’2 Ulster was at this time very thinly inhabited, and it was estimated that its whole Protestant population consisted only of about 100,000 Scotch and 20,000 English.3 There is much reason to believe that very few of the former perished except in open war. In the ten days or a fortnight which followed the first week of Edition: orig; Page: [150] the rebellion, during which the massacre was said to be at its height, they were, as we have seen, unmolested.1 They were quite formidable enough in arms and discipline to overawe a mere ‘tumultuary rabble.’2 In their first collisions with the Irish it is almost certain that they were the assailants,3 and, as we have seen, they slew great numbers with scarcely any loss. It is true that after these encounters the Irish turned their fury against them as against the English, but they had by this time all over Ulster abandoned the open country, betaken themselves to strongholds, and organised their forces for regular combat.4

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These considerations restrict the pretended massacre to narrow limits, and are sufficient to show that it has been exaggerated in popular histories almost beyond any other tragedy on record. It has, unfortunately, long since passed into the repertory of religious controversy, and although more than 230 years have elapsed since it occurred, this page of Irish history is still the favourite field of writers who desire to excite sectarian or national animosity. English historians have commonly bestowed only the most casual and superficial attention upon Irish history, and Irish writers have very often injured their cause by overstatement, either absurdly denying the misdeeds of their countrymen, or adopting the dishonest and disingenuous method of recounting only the crimes of their enemies. There can, however, be no real question that the rebellion in Ulster was extremely horrible, and was accompanied by great numbers of atrocious murders. There was an unbounded opportunity for private vengeance in a country where a recent and gigantic confiscation, a recent mixture of bitterly hostile races, and a recent civil war conducted with singular ferocity, had made private animosities peculiarly savage and tenacious. Only a few years had elapsed since the confiscations of James I., and ever since they had taken place the alien race had been steadily encroaching by force or fraud upon the old inhabitants. Under such circumstances a popular and undisciplined rising of men in a very low stage of civilisation could hardly fail to be extremely ferocious. The whole English population in the open country were driven from their holdings and spoiled of all, or almost all, that they possessed. Great numbers were killed in defending their homes from pillage. Many were turned adrift into the winter air, stripped to the very skin; many were murdered in their flight, and although a great part of the horrible details that were afterwards accumulated were probably false, it is certain that in many cases the murders were accompanied by circumstances of atrocious barbarity, and quite possible that in some parishes or districts they may have assumed the magnitude of a general massacre. Rage and fear, all the motives of religious Edition: orig; Page: [152] and agrarian animosity, were combined. In great districts bands of plundering ruffians were complete masters, and the ejected Irish could do their worst on those who had so lately driven them from their homes. By two commissions, one dated December 23, 1641, and the other January 18 following, Henry Jones, the Dean of Kilmore, and several other clergymen in Dublin, were authorised by the Government to receive evidence on oath and to make full inquiries into the robberies and murders that had taken place, in order ‘to keep up the memory of the outrages committed by the Irish to posterity,’ and their report, with the accompanying depositions, furnishes a very painful and a very authentic picture of the crimes that were committed.1

No one, I think, who reads this report with candour can doubt that the popular story of a general, organised, and premeditated massacre is entirely untrue. But it is equally impossible to doubt that murders occurred on a large scale, with appalling frequency, and often with atrocious circumstances of aggravation. At least eighty persons of both sexes were precipitated into the river from the bridge of Portadown,2 Edition: orig; Page: [153] and perhaps as many at Corbridge in the county of Armagh.1 Two cases are told of houses crowded with English or Scotch which—probably as the result of a siege—were burnt, and all, or nearly all, within them reduced to ashes.2 A Presbyterian minister, who was carried a prisoner by the rebels, relates how, though his own life was spared, he saw not less than twenty-five murders committed in a single night. A ghastly story is told of forty or fifty Protestants in Fermanagh who were persuaded to apostatise and then all murdered. One witness from the county Monaghan had seen ‘fourteen or fifteen killed by the Irish as he passed in the county.’ A gentleman from the same county, who was for three weeks a prisoner of the rebels, had seen ‘thirty persons hung or otherwise killed in one day at Clonisse.’ Another in the same county, who for twenty-eight days was a prisoner, relates how the sept of the O'Hughes killed twelve whole families in a night, and seven families the night following. He had heard that above twenty Edition: orig; Page: [154] families were slain between Kinnard and Armagh by the rebels, and that after the repulse of Lisnegarvy ‘Shane M'Canna murdered a great number of British Protestants.’ A fourth witness from ‘Clounish,’ in the same county, stated that, of his own knowledge, the rebels, when marching through the county Monaghan, had murdered at least eighty Protestants, that by their own relation they had robbed, stripped naked, killed and drowned forty-five of the Scots at one time, and that the same band had murdered two Protestant preachers in the county Tyrone and one missionary in the county Armagh. A yeoman in the parish of Leagne Caffry, in the county of Fermanagh, ‘had heard that the rebels murdered about threescore English Protestants that lived in good manner within the said parish.’ Another from Newtown, in the same county, ‘had heard that Captain Rory, and some other of his company, had murdered of the said parishioners to the number of forty, or thereabouts.’ In the parish of Levileglish in the Co. Armagh ‘divers Englishmen were most cruelly murdered, some twice, some thrice hanged up.’ The county Cavan appears to have been by no means entirely free from the atrocities that were so common in Monaghan, Fermanagh, and Armagh, for the deposition of a witness from Slonosy, in that county, states that, though he himself was only robbed by the rebels, he had seen ‘thirty persons, or thereabouts,’ barbarously murdered, and ‘about 150 more cruelly wounded.’ I have spoken of the honourable humanity of O'Reilly at Belturbet, but there is some, though only hearsay, evidence that, at a later period, Belturbet was the scene of a dreadful tragedy. Margaret Stoaks, of the county Fermanagh, relates how, in her flight to Dublin, she heard ‘that handicraftsmen and tradesmen and others of the English that were remaining at Belturbet were killed and murdered by the rebels about the last of January past, and the rebels hanged the men and drowned the women and children.’ The rector of a parish near Dungannon, in the county Tyrone, tells how, on the very first day of the rebellion, the Protestant minister of Donaghmore was murdered, and how, not long after, two other Protestant clergymen, Edition: orig; Page: [155] as well as eight other persons, underwent the same fate. Two widows of other Protestant clergymen gave evidence of the brutal murder of their husbands before their eyes, and six or seven cases are related in these depositions of the murders of women or of children, sometimes with circumstances of extreme ferocity. One Scotchman, who had prosecuted an Irishman for some cause before the rebellion, was, with a rare refinement of malice, taken by his enemy from the gaol to a publichouse, where he was made drunk, and in that condition hung, and there are a few other cases of the isolated murders of individuals. The miserable condition of the fugitives, and the perils they encountered in their flight, are described in the Report in moving but not exaggerated terms. ‘The city of Dublin is the common receptacle of these miserable sufferers. Here are many thousands of poor people, sometimes of good respects and estates, now in want and sickness, whereof many daily die, notwithstanding the great care of those tender-hearted Christians (whom God bless); without whom all of them had before now perished … We, with such other of our brethren, ours and their wives and children coming on foot hither through ways tedious and full of peril, being every minute assaulted, the end of one but leading to the next danger, one quite stripping off what others had in pity left. So that in nakedness we have recovered this our City of Refuge, where we live in all extremity of want, not having wherewithall to subsist, or to put bread in our mouths. Of those of our brethren who have perished on the way hither, some of their wives and children do yet remain. The children also of some of them are wholly deprived of their parents and left for deserted orphans.’

I have thought it advisable—omitting the numerous depositions which relate only to acts of robbery or violence—to give a full abstract of those which describe acts of murder, for the document I am citing is by far the most trustworthy we possess on the subject to which it refers. It forms as complete a catalogue as the Government Commissioners in Dublin were able to make, of the crimes perpetrated by the Irish in Ulster for four months Edition: orig; Page: [156] after the rebellion broke out, and those four months include the surprise of the English and the whole period during which, with the exception of a few fortified towns, the rebels were undisputed masters of the province. Several depositions contain only hearsay evidence, flying rumours caught up and repeated by ignorant and panic-stricken fugitives. It is very difficult to distinguish in them the cases of those who were murdered in cold blood from the cases of those who perished in fight; and it must also be remembered that during the latter part of this time the English had been waging what was little less than a war of extermination against the Irish.1 On the other hand, it is no doubt perfectly true, as the commissioners allege, that great numbers of murders took place of which no evidence was obtained. In the case of a fierce popular rising against colonists who were scattered thinly over a very wide extent of country, this was almost necessarily the case; and no impartial writer will deny that the rebellion in Ulster was extremely savage and bloody, though it is certainly not true that its barbarities were either unparalleled or unprovoked. They were for the most part the unpremeditated acts of a half-savage populace, and, with the exception of Sir Phelim O'Neil and his brother, it is probable that none of the leaders of the rebellion were concerned in them. The accounts which Temple has given of the atrocities committed by these chiefs, or by the ferocious rabble that followed them, are on the whole believed by Carte, and they are in part corroborated by the confessions of Sir Phelim himself.2 In the earlier stages of the rebellion he appears to Edition: orig; Page: [157] have spared the lives of his prisoners; but as the struggle grew more fierce, and especially when the Irish had met with some bloody reverses, this forbearance ceased, and ‘rivers of blood were inhumanly shed.’ We are told that, on any ill-success, he would, in a fury, order his prisoners to be murdered, or some other act of barbarous and senseless cruelty to be perpetrated; that when several of his sept had been killed in an unsuccessful attack on the Castle of Augher, he ordered all the English and Scotch in three parishes to be killed; that on the taking of Newry, in the beginning of May 1642, he hastened to Armagh, and, in breach of a solemn promise he had made at the capitulation, murdered 100 persons in the place, burnt the town and cathedral, fired all the villages and houses in the neighbourhood, and murdered many of all ages and of both sexes, both in the town and in the surrounding country, while his followers exercised every kind of barbarity on those who fell into their hands.1 It is probable that these crimes were exaggerated, Edition: orig; Page: [158] and it is a remarkable and significant fact that when Owen Roe O'Neil assumed the command, in July 1642, he found English prisoners alive in the camp;1 but there is no doubt that crimes of the most hideous description were committed, and that all the hatred of race and creed was let loose. It is said that the fury of the Irish extended even to the cattle of the English, and that great numbers of these were killed or brutally mutilated. The rebels may have remembered the days when, over great districts, Mountjoy and Carew left ‘not a horn or corn’ remaining, and when their parents had been starved by thousands to death.2

Edition: orig; Page: [159]

It was natural that these crimes should have been inordinately exaggerated in England. The accounts came almost exclusively from one side, and they were mainly derived from the reports of ruined, panic-stricken, uneducated fugitives. A single crime was continually repeated. Reports grew and darkened as they passed from lip to lip, and it is not surprising that when the whole English plantation had vanished from the soil it should have been assumed that all had been murdered. Yet it is certain that Dublin and all the walled towns in Ulster were thronged with fugitives who had passed through a country wholly occupied by rebels. The minds of men were in no condition for forming a careful judgment,1 and a ruling caste never admits any parity or comparison between the slaughter of its own members and the slaughter of a subject race. What is called in one case a murder is called in the other an execution, and a few deaths on the one side make a greater impression than many thousands on the other. The most savage national and religious hatred predisposed the English to exaggerate to the utmost the crimes of their enemies, and other Edition: orig; Page: [160] influences of a more deliberate character were at work. The rebels in Ulster had tried to identify their cause with that of Charles I. by a forged commission from the King, and by this course they at once irritated the Royalists to the utmost, and gave the Puritans the strongest motives to magnify the crimes that were committed. As the civil war went on, there was a large party in Ireland who were fighting solely for the royal cause, and another party who had taken arms in order to secure their religion; and it became an object of the first political importance to the Puritan party, and especially to the English Parliament, to envelop both in a cloud of infamy, to prevent the reconciliation of the King with the Catholics, and to excite the English people to a war of extermination against the Irish. Besides this, the Lords Justices, and crowds of hungry adventurers, saw with keen delight the opportunity of obtaining that general confiscation of Irish lands at which they had been so long and so flagitiously aiming, and of carving out fortunes on a larger scale than in any previous period. Lord Castlehaven assures us it was a common saying among them that ‘the more were in the rebellion, the more lands should be forfeited to them.’1 No less an authority than Carte accuses the Lords Justices of deliberately abstaining with this view from taking measures that would have restricted the area of the rebellion; and although this accusation may perhaps be unjust, it is tolerably certain that the constant fear lest the Catholics, by coming to terms with the Government, should save their estates from confiscation, lay at the root of an immense part of the exaggerated and fantastic accounts of Irish crimes that were invented and diffused.2 Adventurers of the worst description Edition: orig; Page: [161] filled high offices in Ireland,1 and they had brought the art of collecting false testimony to great perfection. It was the plain interest of all such persons to represent the whole Irish people as guilty of such crimes that it would be impossible to restore their estates.

Under circumstances that have never been very clearly ascertained, an immense mass of depositions were collected which form thirty-two folio volumes of manuscript, in Trinity College, at Dublin, and which have formed the materials from which Rushworth, Temple, and Borlase derived those long and sickening catalogues of horrors which made a lasting impression on the English mind. No one, I think, can compare the pages of these writers with the pictures of the rebellion furnished in the narrative of Clogy, in the correspondence of Ormond, Clanricarde, and the Lords Justices, and in the report and depositions of the earlier commission I have cited, without perceiving the enormous, palpable exaggerations they display, and the absolute incredibility of many of their narratives. Hearsay evidence of the loosest kind was freely admitted. Twenty or thirty depositions often relate to a single crime.2 Supernatural incidents are related without a question; the depositions are almost always Edition: orig; Page: [162] undated, and the immense number of the murders they speak of staggers all belief, especially when it is remembered that all the writers who speak of a general massacre place it in the first weeks of the rebellion, concerning which we have so much detailed evidence.1 Ormond, who had, probably, beyond all other men the best means of knowing the truth on this matter, appears to have thought very lightly of them. At the time of the Act of Settlement, when the claims of the ‘innocents’ were canvassed, the House of Commons, which consisted mainly of Puritan adventurers and desired to restrict as much as possible the estates that were restored, proposed that none of those whose names, were found in this collection of depositions might be accepted; and it is a very significant fact that Ormond, who was then Lord Lieutenant, positively refused the proposal.2 ‘His Grace, adds the best historian of the rebellion, who had himself carefully examined these documents, ‘it is probable, knew too much of those examinations and the methods used in procuring them to give them such a stamp of authority; or otherwise it would have been the clearest and shortest proof of the guilt of such as were named in them.’3 Carte, who examined this period with the assistance of private papers of the most valuable description, emphatically recorded his distrust of these documents.4 The authority of Lord Castlehaven is of less Edition: orig; Page: [163] value, for he was a Catholic, and a commander of the rebels, but there is no reason to doubt that he was a man of truth, humanity, and honour; and his testimony is that of a contemporary. While admitting fully that great atrocities were committed by his co-religionists during the rebellion, he denounces in indignant language the monstrous exaggerations that were current, and positively asserts that Sir John Temple, in the catalogue of horrors he extracted from the depositions I am referring to, speaks of many hundreds as then murdered who at the time the book was published were alive and well.1 The work of Sir John Temple, derived chiefly from this source, is the origin of the most extravagant accounts of the rebellion, and it would be certainly difficult to speak too strongly of the horrors it relates. He asserts that within the first two months of the rebellion more than 150,000 Protestants had been massacred, and that in two years ‘above 300,000 Protestants were murdered in cold blood, or destroyed in some other way, or expelled from their houses.’ The latter number exceeds by nearly a third the estimated number of Protestants in the whole island, and it was computed that it was more than ten times the number of Protestants who were living outside walled towns, where no massacre took place. The writers, who paint the conduct of the Irish in the blackest colours, can say with truth that Temple held no less a position than that of Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and that being present in Dublin he was an eyewitness of much of what he related, but they have usually concealed, in a manner which it is more easy to explain than to justify, some facts that throw the gravest doubt upon his veracity. He was for a time completely ruined by the rebellion,2 but was Edition: orig; Page: [164] afterwards compensated with confiscated property, and he was animated by the bitterest feelings of revenge, and was also one of the keenest and most unscrupulous speculators in the events of that disastrous time. He obtained the direction of the mills at Kilmainham when the former landlord was accused of participation in the rebellion, but he was soon removed from the post, the commissioners who were appointed to inquire into the grievances of the army having reported that he had made a prodigious and illegitimate gain by taking a toll of the corn ground for the soldiers, to the great prejudice of the army.1 He was one of the most vehement opponents in Ireland of the Cessation, or truce with the Irish, which took place in 1643; and by order of the king he was imprisoned in Dublin for circulating false representations of the state of Ireland, for taking and publishing scandalous examinations intended to make it appear that the King had authorised the rebellion, and for betraying his oath as a privy councillor.2 His book was published for the purpose of preventing the subsequent peace by representing the whole Irish nation as so infamous that any attempt to make terms with them was criminal. It was a party pamphlet, by an exceedingly unscrupulous man, who had the strongest interest in exaggerating to the utmost the crimes that were committed. It fell in, however, with the dominant Puritan spirit and policy, and although the Irish from the first protested against it, their protests were but little regarded.3 In their remonstrance, Edition: orig; Page: [165] dated March 1642, Lord Gormanstown and the other Catholic nobility and gentry vainly begged that the murders committed on both sides should be strictly examined, and the authors of them punished with the utmost severity of the law.1 In 1643, when the Cessation, or first peace with the King, was agreed upon, the whole body of the Catholic nobility and gentry, by their agents at Oxford, urgently petitioned the sovereign ‘that all murders committed on both sides in this war might be examined in a future parliament, and the actors of them exempted out of all the Acts of indemnity and oblivion.’2 In the peace of 1648 they again expressly excepted from pardon those of their party that had committed murders or other outrages.3 An impartial examination, however, of the crimes on both sides they never could obtain, and the writings on the Catholic side were burnt by order of the Parliament.4

In this way a rebellion that was in truth accompanied by many horrors was misrepresented and exaggerated to an extraordinary degree. At the time of the Act of Settlement it was a matter of vital importance to a large proportion of the new proprietors to magnify to the utmost the crimes of the Irish in order to maintain, under the Government of the Restoration, the confiscations of Cromwell; and religious and national animosity sustained their efforts. The readiness with which the most odious and most baseless calumnies against Catholics were accepted in England, even when no difference of nationality existed, is sufficiently attested by the inscription on the Monument, publicly branding the Catholics as the authors of the Fire of London; and, in a later and much more tolerant age, the Legislature did not hesitate, in the preamble of a solemn statute, formally to describe the rebellion of 1715 as intended ‘for the dethroning and murdering his Most Sacred Majesty … for the destruction of the Protestant religion, and the cruel murdering and Edition: orig; Page: [166] massacring its professors.’1 If such language could be employed about the troubles that followed the accession of George I., it is not surprising that the Ulster rebellion of 1641 should have been magnified to the dimensions of St. Bartholomew. These exaggerations were connected with the title-deeds of property, and as Catholicism, for a long period, was almost unrepresented in English historical literature, it was left to the justice of writers strongly opposed to the rebellion and to Catholicism to give the true proportions to the events of the time. The writings of Carte were, in this respect, of capital importance; and in the middle of the eighteenth century Dr. Warner, in his very valuable history, discussed the subject with great candour and fulness. Warner was a clergyman, a Fellow of Trinity College, and so decided a Protestant that he strongly censured the liberty accorded to the Catholics under Charles I., and intimated very clearly his disapproval of those relaxations of the penal code which had taken place in his own day.2 He was, however, a very honest, moderate, and painstaking writer, and his estimate is probably more correct than that of any of his predecessors. Edition: orig; Page: [167] He examined with great care the depositions at Trinity College, and his opinion of them was very similar to that of Ormond and Carte. Much of them he describes as ‘incredible,’ ‘ridiculous,’ and ‘contradictory;’ and he adds, ‘The reason why so many idle, silly tales were registered of what this body heard another body say, as to swell the collection to two-and-thirty volumes in folio closely written, it is easier to conjecture than it is to commend.’1 At the same time he believed that it was possible, by carefully sifting the evidence, to arrive at some general conclusion; and the result of his inquiries may be given in his own words. ‘The number of people,’ he says, ‘killed, upon positive evidence collected in two years after the insurrection broke out, adding them all together, amounts only to 2,109; on the report of other Protestants 1,619 more, and on the report of some of the rebels a further number of 300, the whole making 4,028. Besides these murders there is, in the same collection, evidence on the report of others, of 8,000 killed by ill-usage; and if we should allow that the cruelties of the Irish out of war extended to these numbers—which, considering the nature of several of the depositions, I think in my conscience we cannot—yet, to be impartial, we must allow that there is no pretence for laying a greater number to their charge.’ ‘This account,’ he adds, ‘is also corroborated by a letter which I copied out of the council books at Dublin, written May 5, 1652—ten years after the beginning of the rebellion—from the Parliament Commissioners in Ireland to the English Parliament. After exciting them to further severity against the Irish as being afraid “their behaviour towards this people may never sufficiently avenge their murders and massacres, and lest the Parliament might shortly be in pursuance of a speedy settlement of this nation, and thereby some tender concessions might be concluded,” the Commissioners tell them that it appears “besides 848 families, there were killed, hanged, burned, and drowned 6,062.”’ Warner adds that Father Walshe, ‘who is allowed to have been honest and loyal, hath affirmed that, Edition: orig; Page: [168] after a regular and exact computation, the number of murdered might be about 8,000.’1

The total at the smallest is very horrible, but it differs widely from the accounts which Temple, Clarendon, Hume, and a number of other writers have given. It is, I believe, quite impossible to speak with any precision on the subject. Attempts have been lately made by polemical writers to show that Warner has considerably understated the tragedies which took place, and one of his assertions on a matter of fact has been impugned. He had carefully examined the depositions in the library of Trinity College, and was extremely impressed with their untrustworthy character, but he was of opinion that a contemporary abridgment of them which exists, containing selections from the depositions, was of more value. Speaking of the former depositions, he states, among other things, that ‘though all the examinations signed by the Commissioners are said to be upon oath, yet in infinitely the greatest number of them the words “being duly sworn” have the pen drawn through them with the same ink with which the examinations are written.’2 This statement has been denied by a modern Presbyterian historian,3 who has examined a portion of the depositions and who asserts that it is only in the abridged or selected edition that the evidence of the oath is usually wanting.

I cannot undertake to pronounce upon the question,4 and Edition: orig; Page: [169] shall be content if I have conveyed to the reader my own firm conviction that the common assertion that the rebellion of 1641 began with a general massacre of Protestants is entirely untrue, although, in the course of the long and savage struggle that ensued, great numbers of Englishmen were undoubtedly murdered. The number of the victims, however, though very great, has been enormously and often deliberately exaggerated. The horrors of the struggle were much less exceptional than has been supposed. The worst crimes were the unpremeditated and isolated acts of a half-savage population, and it is very far from clear upon which side the balance of cruelty rests. ‘The truth is,’ as Warner truly says, ‘the soldiers and common people were very savage on both sides;’ and nothing can be more scandalously disingenuous than the method of those writers who have employed themselves in elaborating in ghastly pictures the crimes that were committed on one side while they have at the same time systematically concealed those which were committed on the other. From the very beginning the English Parliament did the utmost in its power to give the contest the character of a war of extermination. One of its first acts was to vote that no toleration of the Romish religion should be henceforth permitted in Ireland, and it thus at once extended the range of the rebellion and gave it Edition: orig; Page: [170] the character of a war of religion.1 In the following February, when but few men of any considerable estate were engaged in the rebellion, the Parliament enacted that 2,500,000 acres of profitable land in Ireland, besides bogs, woods, and barren mountains, should be assigned to English adventurers in consideration of small sums of money which they raised for the subjugation of Ireland.2 It thus gave the war a desperate agrarian character, furnished immense numbers of persons in England with the strongest motive to oppose any reconciliation with the Irish, and convinced the whole body of the Irish proprietary that their land was marked out for confiscation. In order that the King's prerogative of pardon might not interfere with the design of a general confiscation, the King was first petitioned not to alienate any of the lands which might be escheated in consequence of the rebellion, and a clause was afterwards introduced into the Act raising the loan by which all grants of rebel lands made by the Crown and all pardons granted to the rebels before attainder and without the assent of both houses were declared null and void.3 The Irish Parliament, which was the only organ by which the Irish gentry could express their loyalty to the sovereign in a way that could not be misrepresented or denied, was prorogued. Not content with denouncing vengeance against murderers or even against districts where murders were committed, the Parliaments, both in England and Scotland, passed ordinances in 1644 that no quarter should be given to Irish who came to England to the King's aid. These ordinances were rigidly executed, and great numbers of Irish soldiers being taken prisoners in Scotland were deliberately butchered in the field or in the prisons.4 Irishmen taken at sea were tied back to back and thrown in multitudes into the Edition: orig; Page: [171] water. In one day eighty women and children in Scotland were flung over a high bridge into the water, solely because they were the wives and children of Irish soldiers.1

If this was the spirit in which the war was conducted in Great Britain, it may easily be conceived how it was conducted in Ireland. In Leinster, where assuredly no massacre had been committed, the orders issued to the soldiers were not only ‘to kill and destroy rebels and their adherents and relievers,’ but ‘to burn, waste, consume, and demolish all the places, towns, and houses where they had been relieved and harboured, with all the corn and hay therein; and also to kill and destroy all the men there inhabiting capable to bear arms.’2 But, horrible as were these instructions, they but faintly foreshadowed the manner in which the war was actually conducted. I shall not attempt to go through the long catalogue of horrors that have been too often paraded; it is sufficient to say that the soldiers of Sir Charles Coote, of St. Leger, of Sir Frederick Hamilton, and of others, rivalled the worst crimes that were perpetrated in the days of Carew and of Mountjoy. ‘The soldiers,’ says Carte, ‘in executing the orders of the justices, murdered all persons promiscuously, not sparing (as they themselves tell the Commissioners for Irish Affairs in the letter of June 7, 1642) the women, and sometimes not children.’3 Whole villages as well as the houses of the gentry were remorselessly burnt even when not an enemy was seen.4 In Wicklow, in the words of Leland, Coote committed ‘such unprovoked, such ruthless and indiscriminate carnage in the town, as rivalled the utmost extravagance of the Northerns.’5 The saying, ‘Nits will Edition: orig; Page: [172] make lice,’ which was constantly employed to justify the murder of Irish children, then came into use.1 ‘Sir William Parsons,’ writes Sir Maurice Eustace to Ormond at a later stage of the rebellion, ‘has, by late letters, advised the Governor to the burning of corn, and to put man, woman, and child to the sword; and Sir Arthur Loftus hath written in the same strain.’2 The Catholic nobles of the Pale, when they at length took arms, solemnly accused the English soldiers of ‘the inhuman murdering of old decrepit people in their beds, women in the straw, and children of eight days old; burning of houses, and robbing of all kinds of persons without distinction of friend or foe.’3 In order to discover evidence or to extort confessions, many of the leading Catholic gentry were, by order of the Lords Justices, tortured upon the rack.4 Lord Castlehaven accuses the men in power in Ireland of having ‘by cruel massacring, hanging, and torturing, been the slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, better subjects than themselves; and he states that orders were issued ‘to the parties sent into every Edition: orig; Page: [173] quarter to spare neither man, woman, nor child.’1 ‘Scarce a day passes,’ writes Lord Clanricarde from Galway, ‘without great complaints of both the captains of the fort and ship sallying out with their soldiers and trumpet and troop of horse, burning and breaking open houses, taking away goods, preying of the cattle with ruin and spoil rather than supply themselves; not only upon those that were protected but upon those that were most forward to relieve and assist them … killing and robbing poor people that came to market, burning their fishing-boats and not suffering them to go out, and no punishment inflicted on any that commit outrages.’2 He describes how, on one occasion, under his own eyes, ‘four or five poor innocent creatures, women and children, were inhumanly killed’ by the soldiers of Lord Forbes.3 General Preston speaks of the soldiers ‘destroying by fire and sword men, women, and children without regard had to age or sex.’4 Munster appears to have been perfectly quiet, except a few small predatory bands, until the savage and promiscuous slaughter which took place under the direction of St. Leger, who boasted that he would avenge in Munster the crimes that had been committed in Ulster, Edition: orig; Page: [174] forced the province most reluctantly into revolt.1 Near Newry we read of Munroe and his soldiers ‘killing in one day 700 country-people—men, women, and children—who were driving away their cattle;’ while the parties he sent into Westmeath and Longford ‘burnt the country and put to the sword all the country-people that they met.’2 In the island of Maggee thirty families were butchered in their beds by the Scotch garrison of Carrickfergus.3 The scenes of horror that took place over Ireland almost defy description, and crime naturally engendered crime. Thus a party of English prisoners were waylaid near Naas, and many of them were murdered. The English at once resolved upon the destruction of the whole population of the district. ‘Sir Arthur Loftus,’ writes the brother of Lord Castlehaven, ‘with a party of horse and dragoons, came to the place where the murder had been committed, killing such of the Irish as they met. But the most considerable slaughter was in a great strength of furze seated on a hill, where the people of several villages (taking the alarm) had sheltered themselves. Now Sir Arthur, having invested the hill, set the furze on fire on all sides, when the people (being a considerable number) were all burnt or killed—men, women, and children. I saw the bodies and furze still burning.’4 When Sir Henry Tichborne drove O'Neil from Dundalk, the slaughter of the Irish was such that for some weeks after ‘there was neither man nor beast to be found in sixteen miles between the two towns of Drogheda and Dundalk; nor on the other side of Dundalk, in the county of Monaghan, nearer than Carrickmacross—a strong pile twelve miles distant.’5 The soldiers were accustomed to spread themselves out over the country in long, thin lines, burning every cabin and every cornfield in their way.6 Sir William Cole thus burnt completely thirteen miles Edition: orig; Page: [175] about him in the north.1 Ormond himself burnt the Pale for seventeen miles in length and twenty-five in breadth. He would have gladly saved the houses of at least those gentlemen who came to offer their submissions, but he was peremptorily ordered by the Lords Justices to make no exceptions, and he was rebuked in a strain of no little arrogance by Sir J. Temple for the hesitation he had shown.2 As in the wars of Elizabeth, famine was even more terrible than the sword. We can hardly have a shorter or more graphic picture of the manner in which the war was conducted than is furnished by one of the items of Sir William Cole's own catalogue of the services performed by his regiment in Ulster: ‘Starved and famished of the vulgar sort, whose goods were seized on by this regiment, 7,000.’3

Those who will be at the pains of studying the collections of facts that have been made by Catholic writers in Ireland will find that the above enumeration might be very largely extended. I have made no use whatever of the long catalogue of the crimes of the English,4 made by order of the confederate army, and have restricted myself to a few testimonies taken from the very best authorities. What I have written will be sufficient to enable the reader to form his own judgment of those writers who, by the systematic suppression of incontestable facts, have represented the insurrection of 1641 as nothing more than an exhibition of the unprovoked and unparalleled ferocity of the Irish people. The truth is that the struggle on both sides was very savage. The quarter the rebels at first undoubtedly gave to their prisoners in Ulster seems very seldom to have been reciprocated, the Lords Justices gave strict Edition: orig; Page: [176] orders to their officers to refuse it,1 and a large proportion of the atrocities committed by the rebels were committed after the wholesale and promiscuous slaughter I have described.2

It is certain, however, that the Irish leaders in most cases did their utmost to restrict the horrors of the war, and it is also certain that in a great measure they were successful. Even in Ulster, Philip O'Reilly, as we have seen, was animated from the first by this spirit, and when, in July 1642, Owen Roe O'Neil took the command, which had dropped from the feeble hands of Sir Phelim O'Neil, he at once expressed, in the most emphatic manner, to his predecessor his horror of the crimes that had been tolerated. He sent all the English who were prisoners in his army safe to Dundalk. He burnt many houses at Kinnard, as a punishment for murders which had been committed on the English. He openly declared that he would rather join the English than permit such outrages to be unpunished. He enforced a strict discipline among his riotous followers, and showed himself, during the whole of his too brief career, an eminently able and honourable man.3 In Connaught, where there were very few Protestants, Lord Clanricarde, who, though a Catholic, exhibited under most difficult circumstances an eminent loyalty to his sovereign, succeeded for a long time in preventing insurrection, and all the leading gentry, both English and Irish, co-operated strenuously in preventing devastation.4 One horrible and well-authenticated tragedy, however, took place in this province, in February 1641–2, when a party of about 100 English were attacked at Shrule bridge, and almost all of them inhumanly murdered;5 but with this very grave exception the insurrection does not appear to have been characterised in Connaught by any special ferocity, though in the midst of a very wild population there was Edition: orig; Page: [177] naturally much plunder. When Galway fell into the hands of the rebels, the Protestant bishops of Tuam and Killala, with about 400 English, were in the city, and they were allowed to depart, with their effects, ‘the great care taken for the security thereof, as well as of their persons, by the chief inhabitants, being acknowledged by them in a certificate which they drew up and signed for that purpose.’1 When Waterford was taken by Colonel Edmund Butler, when Clonmel, Carrick-Magriffyd, and Dungarvan were surprised by Mr. Richard Butler, there was not only no massacre but also no plunder.2 Birr surrendered to General Preston, and the garrison and inhabitants, numbering 800 men, were suffered to depart in perfect safety.3 Callan and Gowran were captured by the followers of Lord Mountgarret; but in these cases, though there was no bloodshed, some cattle were plundered.4 Lord Mountgarret took up arms in Munster very reluctantly, after the cruelties of St. Leger had driven the people to desperation; and one of his very first acts was to issue a proclamation, strictly enjoining his followers to abstain from all injury to the peaceful inhabitants of the county, in body and goods. ‘He succeeded,’ says Carte, ‘so far in his design for their preservation that there was not the least act of bloodshed committed. But it was not possible for him to prevent the vulgar sort who flocked after him from plundering both English and Irish, Papist and Protestant, without distinction. He used his authority, but in vain, to put a stop to this violence; till, seeing one of the rank of a gentleman, Mr. Richard Cantwell, transgressing his orders and plundering in his presence, he shot him dead with his pistol.’ The gentlemen Edition: orig; Page: [178] of Munster, adds the same historian, ‘were exceeding careful to prevent bloodshed and to preserve the English from being plundered.’ Four officers in this part were hung by them for not having prevented some murders,1 and Lord Muskerry and his wife were conspicuous for the humanity with which, during the height of the rebellion, they relieved numbers of English fugitives who had been plundered or expelled from their habitations.2 The testimony of Lord Clanricarde is of great value, for he was not only a man of the most stainless and sensitive honour, but was also peculiarly fitted to judge impartially between the opposing parties, for he was at once a sincere Roman Catholic and a devoted servant of the English Government. He speaks of the crimes that had been committed in Ulster with the utmost abhorrence, and adds, ‘I believe it is the desire of the whole nation that the actors of these crying sins should in the highest degree be made examples of to all posterity; yet God forbid that fire, sword, and famine, which move apace here, and might be easily prevented, should run on to destroy mankind, and put the innocent and the guilty into one miserable condition.’3 In May 1742, long after the English Parliament had decreed the absolute extirpation of Catholicism in Ireland, a general synod of the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy of Ireland was held at Kilkenny, in which they unanimously declared the war against the English Parliament, for the defence of the Catholic religion, and for the maintenance of the royal prerogative, to be just and lawful. They resolved to send ambassadors to the Pope and the Kings of France and Spain; and they took active measures to organise their party. They at the same time expressed, in the most formal and emphatic terms, their detestation of the robberies, burnings, and murders which had been committed in Ulster, and they solemnly ex-communicated all Catholics who should for the future be guilty of such acts.4 The original instructions they issued to General Edition: orig; Page: [179] Preston are still preserved, and they are well worthy of perusal, as evincing the spirit in which they undertook the war. They ordered that strict martial law should be preserved; that all rapes and insults to women should be promptly and severely punished; that the whole army should take the Sacrament once a month, and always before battle; ‘that you shall take special care in your march and camp to preserve the husbandmen, victuallers, and all other of his Majesty's subjects from the extortions, pressures, violences, and abuses of your soldiers.’1 In Wicklow and the adjoining county of Wexford the struggle assumed an agrarian character. Predatory bands traversed the country in many directions, and a war such as I have described was naturally attended on both sides by many crimes; but it is certain that in three provinces from the beginning of the rebellion, and in the fouath province after the accession to power of Owen Roe O'Neil, the Irish chiefs laboured earnestly to give a character of humanity to the war; and it is, I think, equally certain that in three provinces out of four the actual conduct of the Irish compares in this respect very favourably with that of their enemies.2

There is one other question connected with this subject on which it is necessary to dwell. I mean the part which religious fanaticism bore in the rebellion. It is, I believe, perfectly impossible to examine with any candour the evidence on the Edition: orig; Page: [180] subject without arriving at the conclusion that the fear of the extirpation of Catholicism by the Puritan Parliament was one cause of the rebellion in Ulster, and the chief cause of the defection of the Pale. Even before the famous vote by which the Parliament decreed the absolute suppression of the religion of the Irish people, this fear was very reasonable. Ormond, as we have seen, expressly attributes to it the extension of the rebellion. It appears again and again in the depositions of the witnesses who gave evidence before the commission of Dean Jones.1 It was alleged as a chief motive of the rebellion in all the papers of justification put out by the rebels,2 and it appears quite as clearly in their private and confidential correspondence.3 From the beginning of the rebellion there is no doubt that priests were connected with it; they exerted all their spiritual influence in its favour, and they were sometimes associated with its worst crimes. Among the depositions taken in 1642 there is a very curious but unfortunately a very brief account of a great meeting of the heads of the Romish clergy and of some of the Edition: orig; Page: [181] leading laymen of their faction, which is said to have been held in October 1641, in the abbey of Mullifarvan, in the county of Westmeath. Dean Jones himself was the deponent, and he states that he received his information from a Franciscan friar, ‘a guardian of the Order,’ who was present. According to his account, the question discussed at this meeting was the course that should be taken with the Protestants. One party contended for ‘their banishment, without attempting their lives,’ arguing that a more sanguinary course would draw down the curse of Heaven upon the nation, and would provoke the English to a war of extermination. Another party maintained that a general massacre was the only measure which would be decisive and efficacious. ‘In which diversity of opinions, howsoever,’ says the deponent, ‘the first prevailed with some, for which the Franciscans (saith this friar, one of their guardians) did stand, yet others inclined to the second; some again leaning to a middle way, neither to dismiss nor kill.’1 Nothing is said about the conclusion arrived at, but the event showed clearly that the complete expulsion of the English from at least the confiscated lands in Ulster was the great object of the insurgents. Macmahon, the titular bishop of Down, is accused of having instigated the worst cruelties of Sir Phelim O'Neil.2 A priest named Maguire is said to have been the leading agent in the treacherous murder of forty Protestants, to which I have already referred, who had abjured their faith. The Bible was sometimes torn and trampled on by the infuriated mob; Protestant churches were occasionally wrecked, Edition: orig; Page: [182] and several Protestant ministers were murdered.1 Priests undoubtedly supported the rebellion from the pulpit, and even by the sentence of excommunication; and they were accused, though on much more doubtful authority, of forbidding any Catholics to give shelter to the fugitives.2

It was inevitable that they should throw themselves vehemently into the conflict, for their religion was in imminent danger of annihilation, and the Lords Justices gave express orders that all priests who fell into the hands of the soldiers should be put to death.3 It was equally inevitable that in the Puritan accounts of the rebellion, and in the report of a Commission consisting exclusively of Protestant clergymen everything should be done to magnify the part played by the Catholic priests. But on the whole I think a candid reader will rather wonder that it was not larger, and will be struck with the small amount of real religious fanaticism displayed by the Irish in the contest. Carte asserts that not more than two or three priests appear to have known of the conspiracy from the first; and the respect and admiration which the saintly character of Bedell extorted from the rebels in the heart of Ulster, and in the fiercest period of the rebellion is quite incompatible with the theory of a religious war. Though Bedell had been the warm friend of Sarpi and of De Dominis, who were of all men the most obnoxious to the Pope, though he was the first Irish bishop who engaged actively in proselytism, one of the most conspicuous and uncompromising opponents then living of the Catholic faith, he was treated by the rebels, into whose hands he fell, with uniform deference. He was allowed for nearly two months after the rebellion had broken out to remain unmolested in his own house, to celebrate his religious worship, and to protect his neighbours; and though he was afterwards subjected for about three weeks to an easy confinement in a castle on Lough Erne, he ended his days in almost absolute liberty. During the short period of his captivity, as his biographer informs us, he and his companions Edition: orig; Page: [183] had perfect liberty ‘to use divine exercises of God's worship, as to pray, read, preach, and sing the songs of Zion in a strange land, as the Three Children; though in the next room the priest was acting his Babylonish mass.’ He died in February 1642–3, while his diocese was still in the full possession of the rebels, and his dying wish to be buried beside his wife, in the churchyard of the cathedral, was conceded by the Catholic bishop. A guard of honour attended his body to the grave. The Irish fired a volley over it, crying, as they lowered the coffin into the tomb, ‘Requiescat in pace ultimus Anglorum!’ and a priest who stood among the mourners is said to have exclaimed, with a loud voice, ‘Would to God that my soul were with Bedell!’1

This episode, which is related with the fullest detail by an eye-witness who was animated by a furious hostility to Catholicism, took place in Ulster in the midst of a rebellion which is constantly compared to the massacre of St. Bartholomew. In the other provinces there are several instances of Catholic priests exhibiting a singular humanity in restraining excesses. In Cashel, where a fierce popular rising broke out, several priests distinguished themselves by their humanity in saving the English. Two Franciscan monks hid some of them in their chapel and even under the altar, and the prisoners were afterwards conducted in safety to Cork by a convoy of the Irish inhabitants of Cashel, who acted with such good faith that several of them were wounded while defending their prisoners from the violence of a rabble who waylaid and attacked them in the mountains.2 It is worthy of notice that about six years later near twenty priests were slaughtered by the Puritans within the walls of the Cathedral of Cashel.3 De Burgo, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, exerted himself to the utmost to restrain the excesses of his co-religionists. A priest named Daly is said to have been obliged to fly from the rebels on account of his denunciations of Edition: orig; Page: [184] their excesses.1 Father Higgins, a Franciscan, who officiated at Naas, saved numbers from plunder and slaughter and relieved many who had been robbed. He appears to have taken no part whatever in the rebellion, but having fallen into the hands of Sir C. Coote, he was speedily hung.2 Ormond expressed strong indignation at this execution, but the Lords Justices fully approved of it.3 I have already noticed the excommunication which the Council of Kilkenny promulgated against all rebels who were guilty of murder or plunder. In the latter stages of the rebellion the Pope's nuncio exercised a great and very mischievous influence in dividing the Irish and retarding their reconciliation with the King, and in this, as in all similar struggles, every passion was appealed to, but the ferocity displayed appears to have been very much more due to the recollection of former contests, to hostility of race, and especially to agrarian motives, than to religious passions. In the beginning of the rebellion, the Irish, as we have seen, showed a strong disposition to ally themselves with the Scotch, who of all the settlers were the most hostile to their religion. In Ulster, where the worst crimes took place, the war was the outbreak of a dispossessed race against those who had recently confiscated and occupied their land. In Leinster the rebellion first broke out, and it appears to have assumed its worst form in the counties of Wicklow and Wexford, where the O'Byrnes and some neighbouring septs had been lately driven, with circumstances of the most scandalous injustice, from their homes. The judgment which Clogy has pronounced upon the northern rebellion is almost decisive when we remember that he lived for months among the rebels, and that he was a Protestant clergyman disposed to magnify to the utmost the misdeeds of Roman Catholics. ‘The Irish hatred,’ he says, ‘was greater against the English nation than against their religion,’ and he adds ‘that the English and Scotch Papists suffered with the others, and that Edition: orig; Page: [185] the Irish sword knew no difference between a Catholic and a heretic.’1

I have dwelt at some length upon these aspects of the rebellion, for they have been grossly and malignantly misrepresented, and they have an important bearing on later Irish history. It is not necessary to follow with the same minuteness the sequel of the history. The picture, indeed, is a strangely confused one, the lines of division of Irish and English, of Catholic and Protestant, of Royalist and Republican, crossing and intermingling. In the north the rebellion was chiefly an agrarian war and a war of race. The confederation of the Catholic rebels in the other provinces comprised a large proportion of the English families of the Pale, and they drew the sword for the purpose of defending Edition: orig; Page: [186] their religion from the destruction with which it was threatened and obtaining for it a full legal recognition. Though actually in arms against the Government, they disclaimed from the first the title of rebels, asserted their allegiance to the King, and were quite ready to be reconciled with him if they could only secure their religion and their estates. A third party, headed by Ormond and Clanricarde, remained firm through every temptation in their allegiance to the King, and before long a new and terrible party representing the Puritan Parliament rose to the ascendant.

In spite of the vehement efforts of the Lords Justices, of Temple, and of the other members of the Puritan party, a truce was signed between the King and the confederate Catholics in September 1643, but the complete reconciliation of the great body of the Irish and of the Loyalists was only effected by successive stages in 1646, 1648, and 1649. But rebel and royalist sank alike under the sword of Cromwell. It should always be remembered to his honour that one of his first acts on going to Ireland was to prohibit the plunderings and other outrages the soldiers had been accustomed to practise, and that he established a severe discipline in his army. The sieges of Drogheda and Wexford, however, and the massacres that accompanied them, deserve to rank in horror with the most atrocious exploits of Tilly, or Wallenstein, and they made the name of Cromwell eternally hated in Ireland. At Drogheda there had been no pretence of a massacre, and a large proportion of the garrison were English. According to Carte the officers of Cromwell's army promised quarter to such as would lay down their arms, but when they had done so, and the place was in their power, Cromwell gave orders that no quarter should be given.1 Ormond wrote that ‘the cruelties exercised there for five days after the town was taken would make as many several pictures of inhumanity as are to be found in the “Book of Martyrs,” or in the relation of Amboyna.’2 This description comes from an enemy, and, though it has never been refuted, Edition: orig; Page: [187] it may perhaps be exaggerated. In the letters of Cromwell we have a curious picture of the semi-religious spirit which was manifested or at least professed by the victors. It is noticed as a special instance of Divine Providence that the Catholics having on the previous Sunday celebrated mass in the great church of St. Peter, ‘in this very place near 1,000 of them were put to the sword, fleeing thither for safety,’ and he adds that ‘all their friars were knocked on the head promiscuously but two,’ who were taken prisoners and killed. ‘And now,’ he continues, ‘give me leave to say how it comes to pass that this work is wrought. It was set upon some of our hearts that a great thing should be done, not by power or might, but by the Spirit of God. And is it not so clearly? That which caused your men to storm so courageously, it was the Spirit of God, which gave your men courage and took it away again, and therefore it is good that God alone have all the glory.’ ‘I wish that all honest hearts may give the glory of this to God alone, to whom indeed the praise of this mercy belongs.’1 Among the English soldiers who were present at this siege was the brother of Anthony Wood, the well-known historian of Oxford, and the vivid and most authentic glimpse of this episode of Puritan warfare which that accurate and painstaking writer has given us in his autobiography, furnishes the best commentary on the language of Cromwell. He relates how his brother ‘would tell them of the most terrible assaulting and storming of Tredagh, where he himself had been engaged. He told them that 3,000 at least, besides some women and children, were, after the assailants had taken part and afterwards all the town, put to the sword on September 11 and 12, 1649, at which time Sir Arthur Aston, the governor, had his brains beat out and his body hacked to pieces. He told them that when they were to make their way up to the lofts and galleries of the church and up to the tower where the enemy had fled, each of the assailants would take up a child and use it as a buckler of defence when they ascended the steps, to keep themselves from being shot or Edition: orig; Page: [188] brained. After they had killed all in the church, they went into the vaults underneath, where all the flower and choicest of the women and ladies had hid themselves. One of these, a most handsome virgin arraid in costly and gorgeous apparel, kneeled down to Thomas Wood with tears and prayers to save her life, and, being stricken with a profound pitie, he took her under his arm, went with her out of the church with intentions to put her over the works to shift for herself, but a soldier perceiving his intentions he ran his sword through her. … whereupon Mr. Wood, seeing her gasping, took away her money, jewels, &c., and flung her down over the works.’1

It is possible, as its latest eulogist has argued, that this massacre may have had some effect in accelerating a submission which in the exhausted state of Ireland could in no case have been long delayed, but it left behind it one of those memories that are the most fatal obstacles to the reconciliation of nations and of creeds. The name of Cromwell even now acts as a spell upon the Irish mind, and has a powerful and living influence in sustaining the hatred both of England and Protestantism. The massacre of Drogheda acquired a deeper horror and a special significance from the saintly professions and the religious phraseology of its perpetrators, and the town where it took place is to the present day distinguished in Ireland for the vehemence of its Catholicism.

The war ended at last in 1652. According to the calculation of Sir W. Petty, out of a population of 1,466,000, 616,000 had in eleven years perished by the sword, by plague, or by famine artificially produced. 504,000, according to this estimate, were Irish, 112,000 of English extraction. A third part of the population had been thus blotted out, and Petty tells us that according to some calculations the number of the victims was much greater. Human food had been so successfully destroyed that Ireland, which had been one of the great pasture countries of Europe, was obliged to import cattle from Wales for consumption in Dublin. The stock, which at the beginning of Edition: orig; Page: [189] the war was valued at four millions, had sunk to an eighth of that value, while the price of corn had risen from 12s. to 50s. a bushel. Famine and the sword had so done their work that in some districts the traveller rode twenty or thirty miles without seeing one trace of human life, and fierce wolves—rendered doubly savage by feeding on human flesh—multiplied with startling rapidity through the deserted land, and might be seen prowling in numbers within a few miles of Dublin. Liberty was given to able-bodied men to abandon the country and enlist in foreign service, and from 30,000 to 40,000 availed themselves of the permission. Slave-dealers were let loose upon the land, and many hundreds of boys and of marriageable girls, guilty of no offence whatever, were torn away from their country, shipped to Barbadoes, and sold as slaves to the planters. Merchants from Bristol entered keenly into the traffic. The victims appear to have been for the most part the children or the young widows of those who were killed or starved, but the dealers began at length to decoy even Englishmen to their ships, and the abuses became such that the Puritan Government, which had for some time cordially supported the system, made vain efforts to stop it. How many of the unhappy captives became the prey of the sharks, how many became the victims of the planters' lusts, it is impossible to say. The worship which was that of almost the whole native population was absolutely suppressed. Priests continued, it is true, with an admirable courage, to move disguised among the raud cottages of the poor and to hold up the crucifix before their dying eyes, but a large reward was offered for their apprehension, and those who were taken were usually transported to Barbadoes or confined in one of the Arran Isles. Above all, the great end at which the English adventurers had been steadily aiming since the reign of Elizabeth, was accomplished. All the land of the Irish in the three largest and richest provinces was confiscated, and divided among those adventurers who had lent money to the Parliament, and among the Puritan soldiers, whose pay was greatly in arrear. ‘Innocent Papists,’ who could prove that they had taken no part whatever in the Edition: orig; Page: [190] struggle, were assigned land in Connaught, and that province, which rock and morass have doomed to a perpetual poverty, and which was at this time almost desolated by famine and by massacre, was assigned as the home of the Irish race. The ploughmen and labourers who were necessary for the cultivation of the soil were suffered to remain, but all the old proprietors, all the best and greatest names in Ireland were compelled to abandon their old possessions, to seek a home in Connaught, or in some happier land beyond the sea. A very large proportion of them had committed no crime whatever, and it is probable that not a sword would have been drawn in Ireland in rebellion if those who ruled it had suffered the natives to enjoy their lands and their religion in peace.1

The Cromwellian settlement is the foundation of that deep and lasting division between the proprietary and the tenants which is the chief cause of the political and social evils of Ireland. At the Restoration, it is true, the hearts of the Irish beat fast and high. Many had never rebelled against the sovereign; and of those who had taken arms, when the English Parliament announced its intention of extirpating Catholicism, by far the greater part had submitted to the King in 1648, had received his full pardon, and had supported his cause to the end. Those who had committed murders or other inhuman crimes were to be tried by a Commission appointed jointly by the contracting parties, but it had been expressly provided, in the treaty, that all other Roman Catholics who submitted to the articles should be ‘restored to their respective possessions and hereditaments,’ and that all treasons and other offences committed since the beginning of the rebellion should be covered by an ‘Act of Oblivion.’2 The Catholics had thus a clear title to restoration, and Charles II., in a letter from Breda, in the beginning of 1650, emphatically stated his intention to observe the engagements of his father.3 But the land was for the most part actually in the possession of Edition: orig; Page: [191] English settlers, who had obtained it under a parliamentary security, in consequence of the sums they had lent in the beginning of the rebellion, and the Act which raised this money had been sanctioned by the sovereign. Much of it had also been given to soldiers instead of pay, and their claims could hardly be overlooked.

The agents of the Irish Catholics proposed that a general Act of indemnity should be passed, that the Irish should be at once restored to their estates, but that a third part of the produce of those estates should be applied for a term of years to satisfying those adventurers or soldiers who had valid claims. They proposed that this deduction should be made for two years where the owners had served the King beyond the seas, for five years in all other cases; and they desired that a parliament should be summoned to raise a revenue for the Crown.Bieda1 But the political objections to this plan were overwhelming. English public opinion would never tolerate the overthrow of the Protestant interest in Ireland after the expenditure of so much blood and money, or the general restitution of those who were associated in the English mind with the most horrible accounts of massacre. The sum proposed to be raised would be wholly insufficient to compensate the adventurers and the soldiers who had received land instead of pay, and the position of the sovereign and the security of the Government would be greatly lowered by the change. If the Irish were restored to their estates, they must hold them on the old tenure. The King would lose the quit-rents paid by the adventurers and soldiers, and those quit-rents formed an annual revenue of about 60,000l., entirely independent of parliamentary control. Such a revenue went far to defray the civil and military expenses of the country, and it was a great security to the English rule.

Another compromise was accordingly adopted, which, it was supposed, would satisfy all claims. A general indemnity was withheld, and the King issued a declaration in November 1660 enumerating the arrangements that were decided, and this declaration Edition: orig; Page: [192] was made the basis of the first Act of Settlement.1 He in the first place confirmed to the adventurers all lands possessed by them on May 7, 1659, and allotted to them under the Acts of Parliament that have been mentioned. He confirmed, with a few specified exceptions, the lands allotted to soldiers instead of pay, and provided that officers who had served before June 5, 1649, and had not yet received lands, should receive them to the value of rather more than half of what was due to them. Protestants, however, whose estates had been given to adventurers or soldiers, were to be at once restored, unless they had been in rebellion before the Cessation, or had taken out decrees for lands in Connaught and Clare, and the adventurers or soldiers who were displaced were to be reprised.

The next class to be dealt with were those who were termed ‘innocent Papists.’ The rules defining this class were more than rigorous. No one was to be esteemed an ‘innocent Papist’ who before the Cessation of September 15, 1643, was of the rebels' party, or who enjoyed his estate real and personal in the rebels' quarters (except the inhabitants of Cork and Youghal, who were driven into these quarters by force), or who had entered into the Roman Catholic confederacy before the Peace of 1648, or who had at any time adhered to the nuncio's party against the sovereign, or who had inherited his property from those who were guilty of those crimes, or who had sat in any of the confederate assemblies or councils, or acted upon any commissions or powers derived from them. All Catholics, therefore, who had taken arms when the English Parliament passed a resolution for the extirpation of their religion were excluded from the category, though they had no possible connection with the crimes that were perpetrated in Ulster. These, however, it might be truly said, had been at least technically rebels; but there were great numbers of Catholics well affected to the King, and much opposed to the rebellion, who had lived quietly in their homes in districts occupied by the rebels. Many of them at the beginning of the rebellion had taken refuge in Dublin, but a proclamation Edition: orig; Page: [193] of the Lords Justices had obliged them, under pain of death, to leave the city and return to their own homes in the country, where they could not help falling into the hands of the rebels. All these persons, if they had been left unmolested by the rebels, and although they had committed no act of hostility to the Government, were excluded from the class of innocent Papists, because they had unavoidably lived in their own homes during the rebellion, and had not been plundered by the rebels.1

Such were the rules restricting the class of innocent Papists. Those who could establish their claim, if they had taken lands in Connaught, were to be restored to their estates by May 2, 1661, but if they had sold the Connaught lands, they were to satisfy the purchaser for the price he had paid, and the necessary repairs and improvements he had made, and the adventurers and soldiers who were removed were at once to be reprised. One significant restriction, however, was imposed upon the restoration of innocent Papists. If their properties had been within corporations, and had in consequence carried with them considerable political weight, the old owners were not to be restored, unless the King specially determined it, but were to be compensated with land in the neighbourhood.

The next class consisted of those who had been in the rebellion, but who had submitted, and constantly adhered to the Peace of 1648. If they had stayed at home, and accepted lands in Connaught, they were to be bound by this arrangement, and not restored to their former properties. If they had served under his Majesty abroad, and sued out no decrees in Connaught or Clare, in compensation for their former estates, they were to be restored, but this restitution was to be postponed until reprisals had been made for the adventurers and soldiers who had got possession of their estates, and also until the other restitutions had been accomplished. Thirty-six persons, some of them perfectly innocent, and others constant adherents to the peace, were restored at once by special favour.

Great allowance must be made for the extreme difficulties Edition: orig; Page: [194] of the Government, compelled to take a course among conflicting claims and bitterly hostile interests; but the general bias of the declaration can be scarcely missed. It is evident that the political influence of the adventurers was in the ascendant, and when a Parliament was summoned in Ireland it was found that they returned the overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, while the Catholics were almost absolutely unrepresented. It was found, too, as might easily have been guessed, that the available land was utterly insufficient to satisfy the conflicting claims. Nor was any serious attempt made to economise it. Vast estates were granted to Ormond and to the Duke of York, and several other persons—among others, Sir W. Petty,1—had irregularly obtained large grants. Ormond expressed the simple truth when he wrote: ‘If the adventurers and soldiers must be satisfied to the extent of what they suppose intended them by the declaration; and if all that accepted and constantly adhered to the Peace in 1648 be restored, as the same declaration seems also to intend, and as was partly declared to be intended at the last debate, there must be new discoveries made of a new Ireland, for the old will not serve to satisfy these engagements. It remains, then, to determine which party must suffer in the default of means to satisfy all.’2

The answer could hardly be doubtful. The corporations of Ireland had been filled with Protestants by Cromwell, and the Irish House of Commons, at the Restoration, was purely Protestant. In England, all those who had power were of the same religion. The new settlers had obtained a firm grasp upon the soil, and they were a strong, compact, armed body, quite capable of defending their position in the field. The Irish, on the other hand, were actually dispossessed. They were poor, broken, miserable, and friendless. They were aliens in nationality and Papists in religion, and they managed their cause with little skill. Everything Edition: orig; Page: [195] that could be done to discredit them by false rumours of plots, by extravagant exaggerations of the crimes which had undoubtedly been committed by the peasants in Ulster, was done, and great sums were distributed by the agents of the adventurers among the most influential persons in England. It is not surprising that these measures were successful. The Irish had very foolishly quarrelled with Ormond while the Parliament in Dublin voted him a gift of 30,000l. Clarendon used his great influence against them. All the other competing interests in Ireland we are told were united ‘in their implacable malice to the Irish and in their desire that they might gain nothing by the King's return.1 English public opinion was strongly on the same side, and the King, after some hesitation, declared ‘that he was for an English interest to be established in Ireland which,’ it was truly said, ‘showed the Irish plainly enough who were likely to be the sufferers.’2 The motives of the Government can hardly be better stated than by the biographer of the statesman who had the largest share in determining the event. ‘The King,’ writes Carte, ‘seemed one while favourable to the Irish, and expressed himself as if he intended the Peace of 1648 should be made good to them; but their agents effaced this disposition in him by insisting perpetually on the obligation of the articles of it in all their strictness, and inculcating to him that he was obliged in honour and justice to make them good. Kings do not care to be taught their duty in such a manner, and it sounded harsh to his Majesty. …. The King considered the settlement of Ireland as an affair rather of policy than justice. …. When he had made his declaration he was misled to think there were lands enough to reprise such of the adventurers and soldiers as were to be dispossessed to make way for restorable persons; but now that he was sensible of that mistake, and it appeared that one interest or other must suffer for want of reprises, he thought it most for the good of the kingdom, advantage of the Crown, and security of his Edition: orig; Page: [196] government, that the loss should fall on the Irish. This was the opinion of his council; and a contrary conduct would have been matter of discontent to the Parliament of England, which he desired to preserve in good humour, for the advantage of his affairs and the ease of his government.’1 The Irish were accordingly sacrificed with little reluctance. The negotiations that followed were long and tedious, and it will be sufficient here to relate the general result. All attempts to carry out in their integrity the articles of the Peace of 1648, by which the confederate Irish had been reconciled to the King, were completely abandoned, but a Court of English Commissioners was appointed to hear the claims of innocent Papists. 4,000 Irish Catholics demanded restitution as ‘innocents.’ About 600 claims were heard, and, to the great indignation of the Protestant party, in the large majority of cases, the Catholics established their claims. The Commissioners, who could have no possible bias in favour of the Irish, appear to have acted with great justice. Those who had the strongest claims were naturally the most eager to be tried. The lapse of time and the confusion of affairs destroyed many proofs of guilt, and it is probable that false testimony was on both sides largely employed. The anger and panic of the English knew no bounds. It was alleged that there would be no sufficient funds to reprise the Protestant adventurers who were removed.2 Parliament was loud in its Edition: orig; Page: [197] complaints. A formidable plot was discovered. There was much fear of a great Protestant insurrection in Ireland, and English public opinion was very hostile to all concessions to Catholics. A new Bill of Settlement, or, as it was termed, of explanation, was accordingly brought in and passed. It provided that the adventurers and soldiers should give up one-third of their grants to be applied to the purpose of increasing the fund for reprisals; that the Connaught purchasers should retain two-thirds of the lands they possessed in September 1663; that in all cases of competition between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics every ambiguity should be interpreted in favour of the former, that twenty more of the Irish should be restored by special favour, but that all the other Catholics whose claims had hitherto, for want of time, not been decided by the Commissioners, should be treated as disqualified. Upwards of 3,000 old proprietors were thus, without a trial, excluded for ever from the inheritance of their fathers.1 The estimates of the change that was effected are somewhat various. Walsh, with a great and manifest exaggeration, stated that, before the rebellion, nineteen parts in twenty of the lands of the kingdom were still in the possession of Catholics. Colonel Lawrence, a Cromwellian soldier in Ireland, who wrote an account of this time, computed that the Irish had owned ten acres to one that was possessed by the English. According to Petty, of that portion of Ireland which was good ground capable of cultivation, about two-thirds, before 1641, had been possessed by Catholics. After the Act of Settlement, the Protestants possessed, according to the estimate of Lawrence, four-fifths of the whole kingdom; Edition: orig; Page: [198] according to that of Petty, rather more than two-thirds of the good land.1 Of the Protestant landowners in 1689, two-thirds, according to Archbishop King, held their estates under the Act of Settlement.2

The downfall of the old race was now all but accomplished. The years that followed the Restoration, however, were years of peace, of mild government, and of great religious toleration, and although the wrong done by the Act of Settlement rankled bitterly in the minds of the Irish, the prosperity of the country gradually revived, and with it some spirit of loyalty to the Government. But the Revolution soon came to cloud the prospect. It was inevitable that in that struggle the Irish should have adopted the cause of their legitimate sovereign, whose too ardent Catholicism was the chief cause of his deposition. It was equally inevitable that they should have availed themselves of the period of their ascendency to endeavour to overthrow the land settlement which had been made. James landed at Kin-sale on March 12, 1689. One of his first acts was to issue a proclamation summoning all Irish absentees upon their allegiance to return to assist their sovereign in his struggle, and by another proclamation a Parliament was summoned for May 7. It consisted almost wholly of Catholics. The corporations appear to have been much tampered with by Tyrconnel, and most of the more important Protestant landlords had either gone over to the Prince of Orange or fled to England, or at least resolved to withdraw themselves from public affairs till the result of the struggle was determined. In the Lower House there are said to have been only six Protestant members. In the Upper House the Protestant interest was represented by from four to six bishops,3 and by four or five temporal peers. The Edition: orig; Page: [199] Catholic Bishops were not called to the House of Lords, and only five new peers were made,1 one of them being the Chancellor and another the Chief Justice, but the outlawry which had deprived a large proportion of the Catholic peerage of their honours was reversed; fifteen Catholic peers were thus restored to their seats, and they appear to have formed nearly half of the active members of the House of Lords. The members of the House of Commons were almost all new men, completely inexperienced in public business and animated by the resentment of the bitterest wrongs. Many of them were sons of some of the 3,000 proprietors who without trial and without compensation had been deprived by the Act of Settlement of the estates of their ancestors.2 To all of them the confiscations of Ulster, the fraud of Strafford, the long train of calamities that followed were recent and vivid events. Old men were still living who might have remembered them all, and there was probably scarcely a man in the Irish Parliament of 1689 who had not been deeply injured by them in his fortunes or his family.

It will hardly appear surprising to candid men that a Parliament so constituted and called together amid the excitement of a civil war, should have displayed much violence, much disregard for vested interests. Its measures, indeed, were not all criminal. By one Act which was far in advance of the age, it established perfect religious liberty in Ireland, and although this measure was, no doubt, mainly due to motives of policy, its enactment in such a moment of excitement and passion reflects no small credit on the Catholic Parliament. By another Act, repealing Poyning's law, and asserting its own legislative independence, it anticipated the doctrine of Molyneux, Swift, and Grattan, and claimed a position which, if it could have been maintained, would have saved Ireland from at least a portion of those commercial restrictions which a few years later reduced Edition: orig; Page: [200] it to a condition of the most abject wretchedness. A third measure abolished the payments to Protestant clergy in the corporate towns, while a fourth ordered that the Catholics throughout Ireland should henceforth pay their tithes and other ecclesiastical dues to their own priests and not to the Protestant clergy. The Protestants were still to pay their tithes to their own clergy, but as the Catholics formed the immense majority of the Irish people, almost the whole religious property of the country was by these measures transferred from the Church of the small minority to that of the bulk of the nation. No compensation was made for existing vested interests, and the measure was, therefore, according to modern notions, very unjust, but the Irish Parliament can hardly be blamed without great anachronism on this ground. The principle of compensation was as yet wholly unknown.1 No compensation had been granted when at the Reformation the Church property was transferred to the clergy of an infinitesimal fraction of the nation. No compensation had been granted in any of the transfers of Church property in England. The really distinctive feature of the Irish legislation on this subject was that the spoliated clergy were not reduced to the category of criminals, but were guaranteed full liberty of professing, practising, and teaching their religion. Several other measures—most of them now only known by their titles—were passed for developing the resources of the country or remedying some great abuse. Among them were acts for Edition: orig; Page: [201] encouraging strangers to plant in Ireland, for the relief of distressed debtors, for the removal of the incapacities of the native Irish, for the recovery of waste lands, for the improvement of trade, shipping and navigation, and for establishing free schools.1

If these had been the only measures of the Irish Parliament it would have left an eminently honourable reputation. But, unfortunately, one of its main objects was to re-establish at all costs the descendants of the old proprietors in their land, and to annul by measures of sweeping violence the grievous wrongs and spoliations their fathers and their grandfathers had undergone. The first and most important measure with this object was the repeal of the Acts of Settlement and Explanation. The nature of this Act is almost universally misunderstood on account of the extreme inaccuracy or imperfection of the description of it in the brilliant narrative of Lord Macaulay. The preamble2 asserts that the outbreak of 1641 had been solely due to the intolerable oppression and to the disloyal conduct of the Lords Justices and Puritan party, that the Catholics of Ireland before the struggle had concluded had been fully reconciled to the sovereign, that they had received from the sovereign a full and formal pardon, and that the royal word had been in consequence pledged to the restitution of their properties. This pledge by the Act of Settlement had been to a great extent broken, and the Irish legislators maintained that the twenty-four years which had elapsed since that Act had not annulled the rights of the old proprietors or their descendants. They maintained that these Edition: orig; Page: [202] claims were not only valid but were prior to all others, and they accordingly enacted that the heirs of all persons who had possessed landed property in Ireland on October 22, 1641, and who had been deprived of their inheritance by the Act of Settlement, should enter at once into possession of their old properties. The owners who were to be displaced were of two kinds. Some of them were the adventurers or soldiers of Cromwell, and these were to be dispossessed absolutely and without compensation. No inquiry was to be made into the particular charges alleged against the original proprietor at the time of the confiscation. No regard was to be paid to the fact that the adventurers had obtained their land in compensation for sums of money lent on that condition to the Government, under Act of Parliament. No allowance was to be made for the large sums which in innumerable cases the adventurers had expended in buildings or in other improvements. At the time of the Act of Settlement, when it was found impossible to satisfy the just claims of both parties, the Irish were invariably sacrificed, and by the Irish Parliament this rule was reversed. The confiscation, it maintained, was from the first fraudulent, the claims of the old proprietors must override all others, and a wrongful enjoyment for twenty-four years was a sufficient compensation to the adventurers for the money they had lent.

A large proportion, however, of the confiscated land had been sold after the Act of Settlement, and had passed into the hands of men who could not without the greatest injustice be despoiled. They were not military adventurers who had obtained their land when they were in rebellion against their Sovereign, and who had kept it at the Restoration, in a great degree because the Government feared to displace them. They were in many cases peaceable and loyal men who had taken no part in politics, who had no special interest in Ireland, who had invested all the savings of honest and laborious lives in the purchase of land under the security of an Act of Parliament passed when the royal authority was fully restored. English law knew no more secure title, and in law and in equity it was equally invincible.

Edition: orig; Page: [203]

The Act of the Irish Parliament has been described as if it completely disregarded it, and swept away the property of these purchasers without compensation. But whatever may have been the faults of the Irish Parliament of 1689, this charge, at least, is grossly calumnious. The Irish legislators maintained, indeed, that the sales which had been effected could not invalidate the claims of the old proprietors to re-enter into the property of which they had been unjustly deprived; but they admitted in clear and express terms the right of the purchasers to full compensation. The statute notices that some persons who were strangers to those to whom some of the confiscated lands were distributed had come into possession of the same after the Act of Settlement, ‘for good and valuable consideration, and not considerations of blood, affinity or marriage,’ and it declares that these persons ‘are hereby intended to be reprised for such their purchases in the manner hereafter to be expressed.’1 From what source, then, was this compensation to be derived? We have seen that the long succession of confiscations of Irish land which had taken place from the days of Mary to the Act of Settlement had been mainly based upon real or pretended plots of the owners of the soil, which enabled the Government, on the plea of high treason, to appropriate the land which they desired. In 1689 the great bulk of the English proprietors of Irish soil, were in actual correspondence with William, and were therefore legally guilty of high treason. The Irish legislators now proceeded to follow the example of the British Governments, and by a clause of extreme severity they pronounced the real estates of all Irish proprietors who dwelt in any part of the three kingdoms which did not acknowledge King James, or who aided, abetted or corresponded with the rebels, to be forfeited and vested in the Crown,2 and from this source they Edition: orig; Page: [204] proposed to compensate the purchasers under the Act of Settlement. In the words of the statute, ‘Every reprisable person or persons, his heirs, executors, or administrators, who shall be removed from any of the lands, tenements, and hereditaments, which are hereby to be restored to the ancient proprietor thereof, as hereinbefore expressed, shall be reprised and have other lands, tenements, &c., of equal value granted unto him out of the said forfeited lands hereby vested in your Majesty.’ ‘For the more speedy and effectual granting of the said reprisals,’ commissioners were to be appointed to hear the evidence both of those who claimed as heirs of the old proprietors, and of those who were purchasers under the Act of Settlement.1

These are the most important provisions of this famous law, for it is not necessary to enter into the complicated arrangements that were made in the case of those who had obtained estates in Connaught. The Act must be judged in the light of the antecedent events of Irish history, and with a due allowance for the passions of a civil war, for the peculiar position of the Edition: orig; Page: [205] legislators, and for the extreme difficulty of all legislation on this subject. An inquisition into titles limited to thirty-eight years could hardly appear extraordinary in a country where such inquisitions had very recently extended over centuries, or to men whose fathers had vainly asked that sixty years of undisturbed possession should secure them in the enjoyment of their estates. Much would have depended upon the manner in which the clause relating to confiscations and the clauses relating to reprisals were actually carried out.1 The former, if strictly interpreted, would have led to scandalous and monstrous injustice, but it might also be construed in such a manner as to apply only to those who were distinctly committed to the side of the Prince of Orange.

The measure of repeal, however, was speedily followed by another Act of much more sweeping and violent injustice. The Edition: orig; Page: [206] Act of Attainder, which was introduced in the latter part of June, aimed at nothing less than a complete overthrow of the existing land system in Ireland.

A list divided into several groups, but containing in all more than 2,000 names, was drawn up of landowners who were to be attainted of high treason. One group comprised persons who were said to be notoriously and actively engaged in the rebellion against the King, and who were at this time in Ireland, and these were to become liable to all the penalties and forfeitures of high treason unless they voluntarily delivered themselves up to take their trial before August 10. Another group consisted of those who had left the kingdom after November 5, 1688, and who had disobeyed the royal proclamation of March 25, summoning them to Ireland to take part in the defence of the King. Unless they appeared before an Irish Judge before September 1 to justify themselves from any charge that might be brought against them, these also were to be esteemed guilty of high treason. A third group consisted of those who had left Ireland before November 5, 1688, who were living in England, Scotland, or the Isle of Man, and who had likewise disobeyed the proclamation. They were given till October 1 to appear before an Irish judge, and if they failed to do so, they became liable to the penalties of high treason, unless in the meantime the King had gone over to England or Scotland, and had there received from the absentees satisfactory evidence of their loyalty. In the meantime, and until the return and acquittal of the persons comprised in these groups, their lands were to be vested in the King. The Act then proceeded to state that whereas ‘several persons are, and for some time past have been, absent out of this kingdom, and by reason of sickness, nonage, infirmities, or other disabilities, may for some time further be obliged so to stay out of this kingdom, or be disabled to return thereunto, nevertheless, it being much to the weakening and impoverishing of this realm that any of the rents or profits of the lands, &c., therein should be sent into or spent in any other place beyond the seas, but that the same should be kept and Edition: orig; Page: [207] employed within the realm for the better support and defence thereof,’ it was expedient that the lands belonging to those persons also, should be provisionally vested in the King. If, however, these persons or their heirs, having hitherto ‘behaved themselves loyally and faithfully,’ should at any future period return to the country, they might be restored to their properties by applying before the close of the law term following their return to the Commissioners, if they were then sitting, or else to the Courts of Chancery or Exchequer.1 Many clauses were devoted to the difficult questions relating to remainders, mortgages, or incumbrances which would necessarily arise in cases of confiscation. The King's pardon before November 1 following was sufficient to discharge any attainted person from all the penalties of the Act; but it was provided that no pardon should have any validity which was not enrolled in the Court of Chancery before the last day of November, and to this great Edition: orig; Page: [208] invasion and limitation of the highest prerogative of the Crown James gave his consent.

Few persons will question the tyranny of an Act which in this manner made a very large proportion of the Irish landlords liable to the penalties of high treason, unless they could prove their innocence, even though the only crime that could be alleged against them was that of living out of Ireland in a time of civil war. The clauses vesting the landed property of attainted persons provisionally in the Crown, before any evidence had been given against the owners, were not only iniquitous in themselves, but also gave the utmost facilities to fraud, and their true explanation is probably to be found in the almost absolute impossibility of raising in Ireland by any regular means a sufficient sum to carry on the war. The Act was passed in a panic, and its extreme clumsiness as a piece of legislation shows the utter inexpertness of the legislators. Each member gave in the names of those of his neighbours whom he believed to be disloyal, and the lists were so carelessly drawn that some of the most conspicuous partisans of William were omitted, while among those who were attainted were Edmund Keating the nephew of the Chief Justice, who was then actually serving in the army of James before Derry; Dodwell, one of the most vehement writers against the principles of the Revolution, and Lord Mountjoy, who was at this time a prisoner in the Bastille. Nagle, the Speaker, in presenting the Bill to James, is reported to have said, ‘that many were attainted in that Act upon such evidence as satisfied the House, and the rest of them upon common fame.’ Such were the grounds upon which the Irish Parliament made large classes liable to the severest penalty known to the law. Nor was this all. If we may believe the assertion of King, the extreme injustice was committed of not publishing the lists of attainted persons till after the period of grace had expired. This assertion, however, can only be accepted with much suspicion and qualification. It is scarcely possible that a measure which must have passed three times through each House of Parliament could, even in this time Edition: orig; Page: [209] of confusion and chaos, have been a secret. Nor are we left on this matter to conjecture. In the ‘London Gazette’ of July 1 to 4, 1689, when the Act had barely passed, we find an announcement that the Irish Parliament had carried ‘an Act of Attainder of several thousand persons by name.’ It is clear, therefore, that the Act and its general character were known and known at once; and it is most probable that the classes who were attainted and the periods before which the members of those classes were required to appear, were no secrets, even if the specific names were not published. The Act of Attainder remains, and it is sufficient to show the great injustice with which the Irish Parliament acted; but our knowledge of the circumstances under which it passed is of the most scanty and of the most suspicious description. The two short, anonymous, and nonoffcial summaries of the proceedings of the Parliament, reprinted in the Somers Tracts, extend only to June 13,1 and at that date the Bill of Attainder had not been brought in or apparently mentioned. There exists, however, another contemporary journal, giving a very brief account of the proceedings of the House of Lords until the 20th, and of the House of Commons till the 29th of June.2 Unfortunately it tells us little more than that the debate on the Attainder Bill began on the 25th, that it continued during the four following days, that the names of the attainted persons were discussed according to the districts to which they belonged, and that there was a violent wrangle over one of the names. For further particulars we are reduced to the narrative of King, and that narrative is not only written with the vehemence of the most ardent partisan, it was drawn up expressly in the interests of the new Government, for the purpose of injuring as much as possible the cause of Jacobitism, by painting in the blackest possible colours the conduct of its professors. It is also the work of a writer who, having himself at one time Edition: orig; Page: [210] professed in the strongest terms the doctrine of the absolute sinfulness of resistance, desired to justify his own conduct in going over to the new Government, and who had just received high ecclesiastical rewards as the price of his services to the Revolution. After his elevation to the episcopacy, King exhibited some high qualities, and I should hesitate much to attribute to him deliberate falsehood; but still a work written under such circumstances and in such a spirit cannot be accepted as a fair and unvarnished history. Lesley, in his reply, brought against it specific charges of inveracity of the gravest kind, to which King never replied, and he has thrown much doubt upon the whole narrative;1 but Lesley is concerned only with the defence of the King, and he pays very little attention to the Irish Parliament, and throws no light upon the motives of its members.

For these reasons we can, I think, only accept with much hesitation the common accounts about this Act. Its injustice, however, cannot reasonably be denied, and it forms the great blot on the reputation of the short Parliament of 1689, though a few things may be truly said to palliate and explain it. There is no ground for the assertion that it was of the nature of a religious proscription. It was inevitable that Protestant landlords should have usually taken the side of William, and Catholic landlords the side of James; but religion is not even mentioned in the Act, and among the attainted persons a few were Catholics. Nor is it probable that it was ever intended to put in force the more sanguinary part of the sentence. It is not alleged that a single person was executed under the Act; and though the common soldiers on Edition: orig; Page: [211] the side of William, and the rapparees on the side of James, were guilty of much violence, it cannot be said that the leaders on either side showed in their actions any disposition to add unnecessarily to the tragedy of the struggle. If the Irish Act of Attainder was almost unparalleled in its magnitude, it was at least free from one of the worst faults of this description of legislation, for it did not undertake to supersede the action of the law courts. It was a conditional attainder, launched in the midst of a civil war, against men who having recently disregarded the summons of their sovereign, were beyond the range of the law, in case they refused to appear during an assigned interval before the law courts for trial. The real aim of the Act was confiscation; and, in this respect at least, it was by no means unexampled. Every political trouble in Ireland had long been followed by a confiscation of Irish soil. The limitation of the sovereign prerogative of pardon was probably suggested by the address of the English Parliament of 1641, calling upon the King not to alienate any of the escheated land which fell to the Crown by conceding pardon to Irish rebels, and by the clause of the subsequent Act, making all pardons before attainder, without the assent of both Houses, null and void.1 The clause making residence in districts subject to William a sufficient proof of treason may have arisen from the clause in the Act of Settlement by which all Catholics who resided unmolested on land occupied by rebels, were excluded from the category of ‘innocent Papists.’ If more than 2,000 persons were conditionally attainted by the Irish Parliament in 1689, more than 3,000 had been absolutely deprived of their possessions without trial by the Parliament of 1665; and the Parliament which committed the one injustice consisted mainly of the sons of the men who had suffered by the other. Reasonable judges, while censuring the Act of the Irish Parliament, will not forget the effect of the events of the last few generations in shaking all sense of the sanctity of Edition: orig; Page: [212] property, the exigencies of civil war which made it imperative to find some resources by which to carry on the struggle, the violence with which in that age every contest was conducted. It is, indeed, a curious illustration of the carelessness or partiality with which Irish history is written, that no popular historian has noticed that five days before this Act, which has been described as ‘without a parallel in the history of civilised countries,’ was introduced into the Irish Parliament, a Bill which appears, in its essential characteristics, to have been precisely similar was introduced into the Parliament of England; that it passed the English House of Commons; that it passed, with slight amendments, the English House of Lords; and that it was only lost, in its last stage, by a prorogation. On June 20, 1689, we read in the ‘English Commons Journals,’ that leave was ‘given to bring in a Bill to attaint of high treason certain persons who were now in Ireland, or any other parts beyond the seas, adhering to their Majesty's enemies, and shall not return into England by a certain day.’ The Bill was at once read a first time. It was read a second time, and committed on June 22, with an instruction to the committee ‘that they insert into the Bill such other of the persons who were this day named in the House, as they shall find cause.’ On the 24th it was ‘ordered, that it be an instruction to the committee, to whom the Bill for attainting certain persons is referred, that they prepare and bring in a clause for the immediate seizing the estates of such persons who are, or shall be proved to be, in arms with the late King James in Ireland, or in his service in France.’ On the 29th there was another instruction to ‘prepare and bring in a clause that the estates of the persons who are now in rebellion in Ireland, be applied to the relief of the Irish Protestants fled into this realm, and also to declare all the proceedings of the pretended Parliament and courts of justice now held in Ireland to be null and void;’ and the committee were directed ‘to sit de die in diem till the Bill be finished.’ New names were added to the list of attainted persons on the 9th of July; on the 11th the Bill passed the Commons, and on the 24th the Commons sent a message to the Edition: orig; Page: [213] Lords urging the despatch of the Bill. It is evident, however, that the measure there encountered serious opposition. On August 2 a conference was held, and the Lords required to know on what evidence the attainted persons were shown to be in Ireland, ‘for upon their best inquiry they say they cannot trace some of them to have been there—they instanced Lord Hunsden.’ The answer which was laid before the House of Commons on the 3rd and communicated to the Lords on the 5th of August is curious, for it shows the extremely small amount of testimony which was thought necessary to support the attainder. ‘The names of those who gave evidence at the bar of the House, touching the persons who are named in the Bill of Attainder being in Ireland, were Bazil Purefoy and William Dalton; and those at the committee to whom the Bill was referred were William Watts and Matthew Gun.’ On August 20 the Lords returned the Bill, with some amendments, leaving out Lord Hunsden and several other names, and inserting a few more; but on that day Parliament was prorogued, and the House of Commons had no opportunity of considering the amendments of the Lords.1

These facts will show how far the Irish Act of Attainder was from having the unique character that has been ascribed to it. It is not possible to say how that Act would have been executed, for the days of Jacobite ascendency were now few and evil. The Parliament was prorogued on the 20th of July, one of its last Acts being to vest in the King the property of those who were still absentees.2 The heroic defence of Londonderry had Edition: orig; Page: [214] already turned the scale in favour of William, and the disaster of the Boyne and the surrender of Limerick destroyed the last hopes of the Catholics. They secured, as they vainly imagined, by the treaty of Limerick, their religious liberty; but the bulk of the Catholic army passed into the service of France, and the great confiscations that followed the Revolution completed the ruin of the old race. When the eighteenth century dawned, the great majority of the former leaders of the people were either sunk in abject poverty or scattered as exiles over Europe; the last spasm of resistance had ceased, and the long period of unbroken Protestant ascendency had begun.

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CHAPTER VII.: ireland, 1700–1760.

Having now given a brief outline of the events that led to a complete Protestant ascendency in Ireland, I shall proceed to analyse the conditions of Irish society in the period immediately following the Revolution, to trace the effects of legislation and of social and political circumstances on the character of the people, and to investigate the reasons why the history of Ireland in the eighteenth century differs in most respects so widely from the contemporaneous history of Scotland. One part of this task I have already in part anticipated, for the penal laws against the Catholics have already passed in a summary form under our notice. Their influence, however, meets us at every page of Irish history; and the reader will, I trust, pardon me if I find it necessary in the course of my narrative to recapitulate some of their leading provisions.

We have seen that the progress of Scotland, in as far as it was due to legislation, may be chiefly ascribed to four causes. These were the establishment of the Church of the great majority of the nation, the introduction of an admirable system of parochial education in which all classes could participate, the destruction of the feudal privileges of the Highland chiefs, and, lastly, the removal of all restrictions on industrial and commercial enterprise. By these measures religious peace was secured, a high standard of general knowledge was diffused, the authority and impartiality of the law courts were established, and an industrial civilisation was created.

In Ireland the course of legislation on all these points was Edition: orig; Page: [216] directly opposite. The chief advantage of the establishment of one form of religion is that it secures the religious instruction of the poor. The Irish Establishment was the Church of the poor in the sense that they paid for it, but in no other. Its adherents were certainly less than one-seventh of the population, and they belonged exclusively to the wealthiest class. And this astonishing Establishment was mainly supported by tithes. Pasture land, it is true, was almost entirely exempted by a resolution of the House of Commons in 1735; and thus the great graziers, who were by far the richest of the agricultural population, were nearly free, and the whole burden was thrown on the tillers of the soil. The mass of the Irish Catholics were cottiers living in an abject, hopeless poverty hardly paralleled in Europe, and deriving a bare subsistence for themselves and their families from little plots of potato ground often of not more than ten or fifteen perches. The tenth part of the produce of these plots was rigidly exacted from the wretched tenant for the benefit of a clergyman who was in violent hostility to his religion, whom in many cases he never saw, and from whose ministrations he derived no benefit whatever. As it was difficult or impossible for the clergyman, even when he resided in his parish, to levy these duties himself, he usually farmed them out, sometimes for the whole period of his incumbency, to a class of men called tithe proctors, who were among the most rapacious and detested members of the community.1 The ‘great tithes’ of the corn appear to have been but little disputed, but the potato tithe produced the fiercest, and it must be admitted the most natural, resentment. It was the source of a large part of the Whiteboy outrages, which convulsed the South of Ireland during the latter half of the last century, and of innumerable murders, riots, and savage outrages in the early years of the present century, and it is no exaggeration to say that until the Act was passed in 1838 for the commutation of tithes, the religious Establishment in Ireland Edition: orig; Page: [217] was, next to the penal code, the most powerful of all agents in demoralising its people.

Such an Establishment was assuredly the most absurd and insulting, and one of the most oppressive in recorded history. This was, however, but one part of the ecclesiastical system. As we have already seen, a main object of the law of Ireland was the extirpation of the religion of about four-fifths of the Irish people. The Catholic bishops only lived in the country by connivance; the Catholic worship was surrounded by the most humiliating restrictions. The simple profession of the Catholic faith excluded a man from every form of political and municipal power, from all the learned professions except medicine, from almost every means of acquiring wealth, knowledge, dignity, or influence. It subjected him, at the same time, to unjust and oppressive taxation, deprived him of the right of bequeathing his property and managing his family as he pleased, enabled any Protestant who was at enmity with him to injure and annoy him in a hundred ways, and reduced him, in a word, to a condition but little superior to that of absolute serfdom. Of the relation of the Irish law to the religion of the Irish people, it is sufficient to say that the governors of Ireland as the representatives of the Sovereign formally and repeatedly, in times of perfect peace, and in speeches from the throne, described their Catholic subjects as enemies. Lord Pembroke, in 1706, referred to them as ‘domestic enemies.’ The Lords Justices, in 1715, urged upon the House of Commons such unanimity in their resolutions’ as may once more put an end to all other distinctions in Ireland but that of Protestant and Papist.’ Lord Carteret, in a similar speech, said, ‘All the Protestants of the kingdom have but one common interest, and have too often fatally experienced that they have the same common enemy.’ As late as 1733 the Duke of Dorset called on the Parliament to secure ‘a firm union amongst all Protestants, who have one common interest and the same common enemy.’ The phrase ‘common enemy’ was in the early part of the eighteenth century the habitual term by which the Irish Edition: orig; Page: [218] Parliament described the great majority of the Irish people.1 To secure the empire of the law not only over the actions but over the sympathies of the people is the very first end of enlightened statesmanship, and the degree in which it is attained is the very best test of good government. In Ireland nothing of this kind was done, and the strongest of all moral sentiments, the authority of religion, was for about a century in direct opposition to the authority of law.

A second great remedial measure by which Scotland attained her high position among civilised nations was the institution of parochial schools, open to all classes, which speedily raised the intellectual level, and evoked, to an almost unexampled degree the dormant energies of the nation. In this, as on other points, the course pursued in Ireland was directly opposite. A law had, it is true, been enacted under Henry VIII. for obliging every clergyman to have a school in his parish for teaching English; but in the vicissitudes of politics and the ravages of civil war this had long since fallen into desuetude. Schools of this kind were very rare, and what few existed were attached to the Protestant Churches, and had no kind of influence on the surrounding Catholic population. As we have already seen, the Catholics were excluded, by different provisions of the penal code, from the educational institutions of their country, and all Catholic education was absolutely forbidden. If it was carried on—as it undoubtedly was2—this was only by connivance, by the illegal exertions of individuals under circumstances of extreme discouragement. The object of the law was to maintain in compulsory ignorance about four-fifths of the people, unless they chose to avail themselves of the Charter Schools, which were originated by Marsh, the Bishop of Clogher, and afterwards adopted by Primate Boulter in 1733. Edition: orig; Page: [219] These schools were intended, in the words of their programme, ‘to rescue the souls of thousands of poor children from the dangers of Popish superstition and idolatry, and their bodies from the miseries of idleness and beggary.’ The design was a very skilful one. The great mass of the Irish Catholies were in a condition of extreme and abject poverty. There was absolutely no legal provision made for the poor, and a bad season was sufficient at all times to produce a literal famine. Under these circumstances the society proposed to the Catholic parents to take their half-starving children, between the ages of six and ten, to feed, clothe, and lodge them gratuitously, to give them not only a free general education, but also an industrial training which would be of the highest possible benefit to their prospects, to teach the boys farming and the girls the elements of domestic economy, and lastly, to apprentice the boys, and provide the girls with places, and even with a small portion when they married. The indispensable condition was that the children should be educated as Protestants. In order that the work of conversion should be carried on unimpeded, they were carefully removed from their Popish parents, were forbidden to hold any communication with them, and were apprenticed only to Protestants. It was found that in seasons of famine, when the Catholic parents saw their children drooping with hunger, and were unable to obtain them bread, they sent them for a time to the schools, and withdrew them when the pressure was past. To prevent this, a law was made, providing that once the children had been placed in the schools of the society, the parents lost all control over them, and therefore all power of withdrawing them. By the same law, the officers of the society were empowered to take up children between the ages of five and twelve who were found begging, and to educate them as Protestants in their schools. The funds were at first derived from private donations and legacies, aided by a grant of 1,000l., given by George II. from his privy purse; but the society soon became a national concern. In 1745 the Irish Parliament, in answer to a petition from the managers, compelled hawkers and Edition: orig; Page: [220] pedlars to take out licences, and appropriated the proceeds to the support of the schools, and the policy which was thus begun was rapidly extended. Large annual grants of public money were soon given. Between 1745 and 1767 it was computed that the society received from Parliament and the royal bounty 112,200l.1

Such was the outline of a scheme of education which has received in our own day unqualified eulogy,2 but which excited in Ireland an intensity of bitterness hardly equalled by any portion of the penal code. Had the object of the Charter Schools been simply to give a good industrial education, without interfering with the religious convictions and the domestic happiness of the people, they might have regenerated Ireland. The passion for knowledge among the Irish poor was extremely strong, and the zeal with which they maintained their hedge schools under the pressure of abject poverty, and in the face of the prohibitions of the penal code, is one of the most honourable features in their history. The Charter Schools offered a people thirsting for knowledge a cup which they believed to be poison, and sought, under the guise of the most seductive of all charities, to rob their children of the birthright of their faith. The consequence was what might have been expected. After a few years of partial or apparent success, their character was fully realised. Their later history, though it does not fall properly within the limits of this chapter, is too significant to be omitted, and it may be very briefly told. As early as 1757 the managers of the society stated, in a petition to Parliament, that, in spite of all the advantages they offered, they found it difficult, except in time of scarcity, to procure children to fill the schools, and it was found necessary to add a new and important feature to the institutions. It was thought that it might be easy to tempt many mothers to abandon their children in early infancy, and accordingly ‘a nursery’ was established Edition: orig; Page: [221] in Dublin, and soon after another in each of the four provinces, for receiving infant children, who were afterwards to pass into the schools. Whatever may have been the effects of this measure on the prospects of the Established Church, it is not difficult to understand its effects upon domestic morals; and it is not surprising that four years later no less than twenty children were found exposed among the carpenters' shavings around the nursery at Monastrevan.

No effort, however, could give any real vitality to schools which were universally looked upon by the Catholic population as the most insidious and demoralising of all forms of bribery. It is doubtful whether, at any period of their existence, they had 2,000 pupils, and it was only in time of famine that any considerable number flocked to them. Though primarily intended for the conversion of Catholics, other children were at first not excluded from them; but in 1775 the managers of the society resolved ‘not to admit any but the children of Papists.’ Though the system of transplanting the children to distant parts of the country, in order to separate them entirely from their Popish relatives, was one of the leading features of the Charter system, and one of the features on which its advocates most insisted, there were for a time day-schools affiliated to the society, in which the children were not separated from their parents, who in their turn had the care of supporting them, but these schools also were soon abolished. The endowments from the Irish Parliament were increased, and large estates were gradually vested in the society, but no favourable results followed. Campbell, the author of the well-known ‘Philosophical Tour in the South of Ireland,’ which was published in 1778, stated that he was assured ‘that a Papist would suffer any loss except that of his child, rather than send it to one of these schools. Such,’ he added, ‘is the bigotry of these deluded people, that nothing but absolute want could prevail on them to suffer their children to receive an education which, as they conceive, endangers their salvation.’1 Wesley, who visited in 1785 one of Edition: orig; Page: [222] the most noted of these schools, left an emphatic testimony to its neglect and inefficiency;1 but it was to Howard, the philanthropist, that the exposure of their scandalous abuses is chiefly due. When investigating the state of the Irish prisons in 1788, he turned aside to examine the Charter Schools, and was soon convinced of the existence of evils almost as frightful as any he had discovered in the prisons of England or of the Continent. In his book on ‘The State of Prisons,’ he declared that the numbers of alleged pupils in the schools, in the official documents, published annually by the society, were grossly and systematically exaggerated; that the children were for the most part ‘sickly, naked, and half-starved;’ and that the state of most of the schools he visited ‘was so deplorable as to disgrace Protestantism and to encourage Popery in Ireland rather than the contrary.’2 A committee of the Irish parliament was appointed in 1788 to inquire into the truth of these allegations. Howard and several other competent witnesses gave evidence before it, and the result of a detailed examination into the Charter Schools throughout Ireland was a revelation of abuses perhaps as horrible as any public institution has ever disclosed. The public money was found to be systematically and profligately misused. In most of the schools the children were half fed, were almost naked, were covered with vermin, were reduced to the condition of the most miserable of slaves. Children at a very early age were compelled to work in the fields for the profit of their masters for eight hours at a time. That they might do so, their instruction was so neglected that there were those who having been eight, ten, or twelve years at the schools could neither read nor spell. Whole schools were suffering from the itch or other maladies due to dirt, cold, or insufficient food. The rooms, the bed-covering, the scanty clothes of the children were alive with impurity, and the sad expression of their countenances showed but too plainly how effectually they had been severed from all who cared for them, and, in many cases, how near was the last sad deliverance that awaited them. This was the result Edition: orig; Page: [223] of a system set up, no doubt with the best intentions,1 under the highest ecclesiastical auspices in the country, for the civilisation of Ireland. This was the result of a system which, in the supposed interests of religion, made it a first object to break the tie of affection between the parent and the child. The institution, however, still continued. The Irish parliament steadily endowed it till the Union, and bequeathed it to the Imperial parliament. How it was looked upon in the early part of the present century is well told by an English writer thoroughly acquainted with Irish affairs, who said that the Irish peasant seldom passed the school without a curse or an expression of heartfelt anguish.2 For twenty-five years after the Union the Charter Schools dragged on their endowed existence, and during that time the Imperial parliament voted 675,707l. for their support, though they maintained on an average only 1,870 children.3 The Kildare Street Schools, which were also, though to a very modified extent, sectarian, next rose to favour; but the real education of the Irish people dates only from 1834, when that system of unsectarian education was founded which, though violently assailed by conflicting bigotries, has proved probably the greatest benefit imperial legislation has ever bestowed upon the Irish people.’4

The third class of remedial measures to which the prosperity of Scotland has been mainly ascribed, consisted of those diminishing the excessive power of the Highland chiefs. The Scotch aristocracy indeed were of the same race and of the same creed Edition: orig; Page: [224] as their followers. Their authority rested on the traditions, and often on the undisturbed possession of centuries, and they resided habitually among a people who were attached to them by the strongest ties of duty and affection. At the same time their excessive power was incompatible with the real progress of the nation, and it was therefore a main end of wise legislation to diminish it. In Ireland, on the contrary, it was the object of the law to create an aristocracy without any of the traditional ties of the Scotch chiefs. By three great measures of confiscation about nine-tenths of the soil of Ireland had been wrested from the old proprietors, whose descendants were often found cultivating as cottiers the land that would naturally have been their own. The new proprietors were conquerors, they were Englishmen, they were Protestants, they were maintained in their position by a foreign power, they were very commonly absentees. In the nature of things they could have no real sympathy with their tenants; and, taking human nature as it is, it is not surprising that in very many cases their single desire was to extract the utmost revenue from the soil. They did not, it is true, possess the hereditary jurisdiction of the Scotch chiefs, but their tenants were for the most part so ignorant and so poor, and the powers which the law gave to a Protestant in conflict with a Catholic were so overwhelming, that they were virtually despotic. The only resistance they could really dread was that which took the form of conspiracy and outrage. After the confiscations under William, about 300,000 acres were restored to Catholics who were adjudged by the commissioners to be comprised within the articles of Limerick or Galway, or who had been freely pardoned by William; but, as we have already seen, it was the object of one large department of the penal code gradually to dissociate the Catholics from ownership, and from all that resembled ownership, of the soil. This was the end of the laws forbidding any Catholic to purchase land, to invest money in mortgages on land, to hold any long or valuable lease, compelling the equal division of the land of a Catholic after death unless the eldest Edition: orig; Page: [225] son became a Protestant, consigning the children of a Catholic parent who died when they were minors to the guardianship of a Protestant. The obvious effect of these laws was to maintain an aristocracy of race by making the line of class division as nearly as possible coincident with that of creed.

The last great contrast between Scotland and Ireland lies in the development of industrial and commercial enterprise. In Scotland, as we have seen from the time of the Union in 1707, complete free trade with England and the colonies was established; and as a consequence of this measure, a powerful industrial class was created, bringing in its train settled habits of order, comfort, and luxury. The natural capacities of Ireland for becoming a wealthy country were certainly greater than those of Scotland, though they have often been exceedingly exaggerated. Under no circumstances indeed could Ireland have become in this respect a serious rival to England. She is almost wholly destitute of those great coalfields on which more than on any other single cause the manufacturing supremacy of England depends. Owing to the excessive rainfall produced by proximity to the Atlantic, a large proportion of her soil is irreclaimable marsh; a still larger part can only be reclaimed or kept in proper order by large and constant expenditure in draining, and the evil in the eighteenth century was seriously aggravated by the law forbidding Catholics from lending money in mortgages on land, which considerably diminished the amount of capital expended in agricultural improvement. It is also no small disadvantage to Ireland materially, and a still greater disadvantage to her morally and politically, that she is isolated from Europe, the whole bulk of England being interposed between her and the Continent. In England, too, most forms of manufacturing industry date from the Plantagenets and the Tudors. During many centuries the increase of capital and the formation of industrial habits were uninterrupted, for with the doubtful exception of the civil war under Charles I., there had been no conflict since the Wars of the Roses sufficiently serious Edition: orig; Page: [226] and prolonged to interfere with industrial progress. Ireland had barely emerged into an imperfect civilisation in the time of Elizabeth, and had then speedily passed into a long period of desolating and exterminating war. On the other hand, the greater part of the Irish soil is extremely fertile, in the opinion of the best judges more fertile than that of any other part of the kingdom. Though very unsuited for wheat, it is preeminently adapted for several other kinds of crop, and it forms some of the richest pasture land in Christendom. Irish cattle has always been famous, and Irish wool in the last century was considered the best in Europe. No country in the world is more admirably provided with natural harbours. It is not without navigable rivers. It is abundantly supplied with water power, and its position between the old world and the new points it out as a great centre of commercial intercourse.

A country of which this may be truly said may not have been intended to take a foremost place in the race of industry and wealth, but it was certainly not condemned by nature to abject and enduring poverty. Up to the time of the Restoration no legislative disability rested upon Irish industry, but the people who had but recently acquired the rudiments of civilisation had been plunged by the Cromwellian wars into a condition of wretchedness hardly paralleled in history. At last, however, peace had come, and it was hoped that some faint gleams of prosperity would have dawned. Crowds of Cromwellian soldiers, representing the full average of English energy and intelligence, had been settled on the confiscated lands, and in the utter ruin of the native population the resources of the country were to a great degree in their hands. The land was chiefly pasture, and the main source of Irish wealth was the importation of cattle to England. The English landowners however speedily took alarm. They complained that Irish rivalry in the cattle market lowered English rents, and laws were accordingly enacted in 1665 and 1680, absolutely prohibiting the importation into England, from Ireland, of all cattle, Edition: orig; Page: [227] sheep, and swine, of beef, pork, bacon, and mutton, and even of butter and cheese.1

In this manner the chief source of Irish prosperity was annihilated at a single blow. Crushing, however, and fatal as was this prohibition, it was not the only one. The Irish, though far too poor to have any considerable commerce, had at least a few ships afloat, and there were some slight beginnings of a colonial trade. It was feared that under more favourable circumstances this might attain considerable proportions. The two great geographical advantages of Ireland are her proximity to America and her admirable harbours. In the original Navigation Act of 1660 Irish vessels had all the privileges accorded to English ones, but in the amended Act of 1663 Ireland was omitted,2 and she was thus deprived of the whole colonial trade. With a very few specified exceptions no European articles could be imported into the English colonies except from England, in ships built in England and chiefly manned by English sailors. With a very few specified exceptions, no articles could be brought from the colonies to Europe without being first unladen in England. In 1670 the exclusion of Ireland was confirmed,3 and in 1696 it was rendered still more stringent, for it was provided that no goods of any kind could be imported directly from the colonies to Ireland.4 In this manner the natural course of Irish commerce was utterly checked. Her shipping interest was annihilated, and Swift hardly exaggerated when he said: ‘The conveniency of ports and harbours which nature bestowed so liberally on this kingdom, is of no more use to us than a beautiful prospect to a man shut up in a dungeon.’5

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Such measures might easily have proved fatal to the industrial development of such a country as Ireland. In the period however that elapsed between the Restoration and the Revolution a very remarkable industrial spirit had arisen, and serious and persevering efforts were made by the Protestant colonists to utilise the great natural advantages of the country. Ireland at last enjoyed a period of profound peace, and the religious liberty which was established effected a rapid improvement in her social condition. It was true that the great mass of the people were impoverished, half-civilised, and divided, but it was also true that taxes were lower than in England, that land, living and labour were extremely cheap, and that the events of the civil war had drawn into the country great numbers of able and energetic Englishmen. Being forbidden to export their cattle to England, the Irish landowners turned their land into sheep-walks, and began, on a large scale, to manufacture the wool. As early as 1636 Strafford noticed that there were some small beginnings of a clothing trade in Ireland, and he promised to discourage it to the utmost, lest it should interfere with the woollen manufacture in England. ‘It might be feared,’ he added, ‘they might beat us out of the trade itself by underselling us, which they were well able to do.’1 But after this time the manufacture was for some years unmolested and even encouraged by several Acts of Parliament.2 The export of raw wool from Ireland to foreign countries had been forbidden under Charles II., but as the same restriction was imposed on English wool,3 Ireland was in this respect at no disadvantage. It was no doubt a grave disadvantage that she was excluded by the Navigation Act from the whole colonial market, but the rest of the world at least, was open to her manufactures. On the prohibition of the export of Irish cattle, the manufacture began to increase. The quality of the wool, as I have said, was supremely good. A real industrial enthusiasm had arisen in the Edition: orig; Page: [229] nation. Great numbers of English, Scotch, and even foreign manufacturers came over. Many thousands of men were employed in the trade, and all the signs of a great rising industry were visible. If it was an object of statesmanship to make Ireland a happy country, to mitigate the abject and heartrending poverty of its people, and to develop among them habits of order, civilisation, and loyalty, the encouragement of this industrial tendency was of the utmost moment. If it was an object beyond all others to make Ireland a Protestant country, the extension of a rich manufacturing population, who would for some generations at least, be mainly Protestant, would do more to effect this object than any system of penal laws or proselytising schools. Unfortunately there was another object which was nearer the heart of the English Parliament than either of these. After the Revolution, commercial influence became supreme in its councils. There was an important woollen manufacture in England, and the English manufacturers urgently petitioned for the total destruction of the rising industry in Ireland. Their petitions were speedily attended to. The House of Lords represented to the King that ‘the growing manufacture of cloth in Ireland, both by the cheapness of all sorts of necessaries of life, and goodness of materials for making all manner of cloth, doth invite your subjects of England, with their families and servants, to leave their habitations to settle there, to the increase of the woollen manufacture in Ireland, which makes your loyal subjects in this kingdom very apprehensive that the further growth of it may greatly prejudice the said manufacture here.’ The House of Commons in very similar terms urged William ‘to enjoin all those you employ in Ireland to make it their care, and use their utmost diligence to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland, except to be imported hither, and for the discouraging the woollen manufactures.’ The King promised to do as he was requested. A parliament was summoned in Dublin, in September 1698, for the express purpose of destroying the Irish industry. The Irish Parliament was then, from the nature of its constitution, completely Edition: orig; Page: [230] subservient to English influence, and, had it been otherwise, it would have had no power to resist. The Lords Justices in their opening speech urged the House to encourage the linen and hempen manufacture instead of the woollen manufacture, which England desired to monopolise. The Commons in reply promised their hearty endeavours to establish a linen and hempen manufacture in Ireland, expressed a hope that they might find ‘such a temperament’ in respect to the woollen trade as would prevent it from being injurious to that of England, and proceeded, at the instance of the Government, to impose heavy additional duties on the export of Irish woollen goods. The English, however, were still unsatisfied. The Irish woollen manufactures had already been excluded by the Navigation Act from the whole colonial market; they had been virtually excluded from England itself, by duties amounting to prohibition.1 A law of crushing severity, enacted by the British Parliament in 1699, completed the work and prohibited the Irish from exporting their manufactured wool to any other country whatever.2

So ended the fairest promise Ireland had ever known of becoming a prosperous and a happy country. The ruin was absolute and final. ‘Ireland,’ wrote Swift a few years later, ‘is the only kingdom I ever heard or read of, either in ancient or modern story, which was denied the liberty of exporting their native commodities and manufactures wherever they pleased, except to countries at war with their own prince or state. Yet this privilege, by the superiority of mere power, is refused us in the most momentous parts of commerce; besides an Act of navigation, to which we never assented, pressed down upon us and rigorously executed.’3 The main industry of Ireland had been deliberately destroyed because it had so prospered that English manufacturers had begun to regard it as a competitor with Edition: orig; Page: [231] their own. It is true, indeed, that a promise was made that the linen and hempen manufacture should be encouraged as a compensation; but, even if it had been a just principle that a nation should be restricted by force of law to one or two forms of industry, there was no proportion between that which was destroyed and that which was to be favoured, and no real reciprocity established between the two countries. The linen manufacture may, indeed, be dimly traced far back into Irish history. It is noticed in an English poem in the early part of the fifteenth century. A century later Guicciardini, in his description of the Low Countries, mentions coarse linen as among the products imported from Ireland to Antwerp. Strafford had done much to encourage it, and after the calamities of the Cromwellian period, the Duke of Ormond had laboured with some success to revive it. But it had never attained any great extension; it was almost annihilated by the war of the Revolution, and in 1700 the value of the whole export of Irish linen amounted to little more than 14,000l. The English utterly suppressed the existing woollen manufacture in Ireland in order to reserve that industry entirely to themselves; but the English and Scotch continued as usual their manufacture of linen. The Irish trade was ruined in 1699, but no legislative encouragement was given to the Irish linen manufacture till 1705, when, at the urgent petition of the Irish Parliament, the Irish were allowed to export their white and brown linens, but these only, to the British colonies, and they were not permitted to bring any colonial goods in return. The Irish linen manufacture was undoubtedly encouraged by bounties, but not until 1743, when the country had sunk into a condition of appalling wretchedness. In spite of the compact of 1698, the hempen manufacture was so discouraged that it positively ceased. Disabling duties were imposed on Irish sailcloth imported into England. Irish checked, striped, and dyed linens were absolutely excluded from the colonies. They were virtually excluded from England by the imposition of a duty of 30 per cent., and Ireland was not Edition: orig; Page: [232] allowed to participate in the bounties granted for the exportation of these descriptions of linen from Great Britain to foreign countries.1 We have a curious illustration of the state of feeling prevailing in England in the fact that two petitions were presented in 1698 from Folkestone and Aldborough complaining of the injury done to the fishermen of these towns ‘by the Irish catching herrings at Waterford and Wexford and sending them to the Straits, and thereby forestalling and ruining petitioners’ markets';2 and there was even a party in England who desired to prohibit all fisheries on the Irish shore except by boats built and manned by Englishmen.3

The effect of the policy I have described was ruinous in the extreme. It had become abundantly evident to all reasonable men that England possessed both the power and the will to crush every form of Irish industry as soon as it became sufficiently prosperous to compete in any degree with her own manufactures. It appeared useless to persist, and a general commercial despondency prevailed.4 The leading manufacturers at once emigrated to England, to America, or to the Continent. Many thousands of Irish Protestants took refuge in the Colonies, and the possibility of balancing the great numerical strength of the Catholics was for ever at an end. The Irish, forbidden to export their woollen manufactures to any country whatever, or their raw wool to any country except England, were driven almost necessarily to seek a market for their produce in a smuggling trade with France. The configuration of Edition: orig; Page: [233] the Irish coast was eminently favourable to it. Wool was secretly shipped from every bay, a great impetus was given to the French woollen manufacture, which was the most serious rival to that of England, and another was added to the many powerful influences that were educating all classes of Irishmen into hostility to the law. The relations between landlord and tenant were already sufficiently harsh, strained, and unnatural, but they were fearfully aggravated when the destruction of manufacturing industry threw the whole population for subsistence on the soil. It was computed by a contemporary writer that the woollen manufacture, which was ruined in 1699, afforded employment to 12,000 Protestant families in the metropolis, and to 30,000 dispersed over the rest of the kingdom.1 For nearly fifty years after its destruction the people were in such a state of poverty that every bad season produced an absolute famine. The Journals of the Irish Parliament are full of complaints of the decay of trade, and the miserable destitution of the people. It was found necessary to reduce the army. The revenue repeatedly fell short. In 1703, 1705, and 1707 the House of Commons resolved unanimously that ‘it would greatly conduce to the relief of the poor and the good of the kingdom, that the inhabitants thereof should use none other but the manufactures of this kingdom in their apparel and the furniture of their houses,’ and in the last of these sessions the Members engaged their honour to conform themselves to this resolution.2 Swift supported the policy in his well-known ‘Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures,’ which appeared in 1720; and he declared with emphasis that ‘whoever travels through this country and observes the face of nature, or the faces and habits and dwellings of the natives, would hardly think himself in a land where either law, religion, or common humanity was professed.’ A remarkable Edition: orig; Page: [234] letter, written by an Irish peer in the March of 1702, has been preserved, complaining that the money of the country was almost gone, and the poverty of the towns so great that it was feared the Court mourning for the death of William would be the final blow.1

The linen manufacture had, however, been of late much extended in the north. A patent was granted to some French refugees in 1700, and Crommelin, a native of St. Quintin, laboured for many years with great skill and energy to spread the industry. He maintained that the soil and climate of Ireland were eminently adapted for the cultivation of flax, and that as good hemp could be grown over the whole country south of Dundalk as in any part of the world.2 It was represented that it would be extremely desirable if Crommelin could be induced to settle in the centre of the island, and spread his industry among the half-starving population. He agreed to establish himself at Kilkenny, provided he obtained an extension of his patent and an immediate payment of 2,500l. But this small sum was beyond the resources of the country, and a letter is extant in which the Lords Justices complain that Ireland was at this time too poor to raise it, and recommend that, instead of money, the patent should be extended for a somewhat longer period.3 But a characteristic difficulty now arose. Although the encouragement of the linen manufacture was the great compensation which England had offered for the ruin of Irish wool, no sooner was there a prospect of that manufacture being extended to the wretched population of Leinster than a fierce opposition sprang up. It was feared that if Irish linen displaced Dutch linen in England, the Dutch might no longer care to admit English woollen manufactures into Holland, and that the prosperity of the Irish industry might therefore be indirectly injurious to England. The English Commissioners of Customs strenuously opposed the Edition: orig; Page: [235] scheme. The Lord High Treasurer advised that, if the patent were extended, it should at least be under the restriction that no linen except the coarsest kind should be made, and it was only after a prolonged struggle, and by the urgent representations of the Duke of Ormond, that the small boon was conceded.1 The Irish Parliament did what it could. In 1708 spinning-schools were established in every county, and premiums were offered for the best linen, and a board of trustees was appointed in 1710 to watch over the interests of the manufacture; but the utter want of capital, the neglect of the grand juries, the ignorance, poverty, and degradation of the inhabitants, made the attempt to create a new manufacture hopeless.2 In the meantime great districts in the southern and western parts of the island were absolutely depopulated; and in order in some degree to revive agriculture, a colony of Palatines was planted in 1709. In the north, matters were only a little better, and a considerable part of the scanty capital which had been accumulated was swept away in the South Sea panic. Bishop Nicholson, who was translated in 1718 from the see of Carlisle to that of Derry, gives, in a series of letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury,3 a vivid description of the misery both of the towns and of the country districts. ‘Our trade of all kind,’ he wrote in 1720, ‘is at a stand, insomuch as that our most eminent merchants who used to pay bills of 1,000l. at sight, are Edition: orig; Page: [236] hardly able to raise 100l. in so many days. Spindles of yarn (our daily bread) are fallen from 2s. 6d. to 15d., and everything else in proportion. Our best beef (as good as I ever ate in England) is sold under 3/4d. a pound, and all this not from any extraordinary plenty of commodities, but from a perfect dearth of money.’ Though apparently a hard and selfish man, the scenes of wretchedness which he witnessed on his journey from Dublin to his diocese moved him to a genuine compassion. ‘Never did I behold,’ he writes, ‘even in Picardy, Westphalia, or Scotland, such dismal marks of hunger and want as appeared in the countenances of most of the poor creatures I met with on the road.’ He dilates upon the rack-rents, the miserable hovels, the almost complete absence of clothing; and he tells how, one of his carriage-horses having been accidentally killed, it was at once surrounded by fifty or sixty famished cottagers struggling desperately to obtain a morsel of flesh for themselves and their children. In the wilds of Donegal, as in the Highlands of Scotland, in bad seasons, the cattle were bled, and their blood, boiled with sorrel, gave the poor a miserable subsistence.1 ‘The poor,’ wrote Sheridan in 1728, ‘are sunk to the lowest degree of misery and poverty—their houses dunghills, their victuals the blood of their cattle, or the herbs of the field.’2 More than sixty years after the campaign of Cromwell, the churches which he had battered down in Drogheda and in many other places remained in ruins, and every town on the east of Ireland bore clear traces of the desolation he had wrought.3

The Irish tracts of Swift, and especially his admirable ‘Short View of the State of Ireland,’ which appeared in 1727, and that ghastly piece of irony, ‘The Modest Proposal for Preventing the Poor of Ireland from being a Burden to their Parents and Country,’ which was written in 1729, tell the same tale. The latter tract appeared at a time when three terrible Edition: orig; Page: [237] years of dearth had reduced the people to the last extremities.1 ‘The old and sick,’ Swift assures us, were ‘every day dying and rotting by cold and famine and filth and vermin. The younger labourers cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it.’ There were tumults at Limerick, Cork, Waterford, and Clonmel, to prevent the corn from going northwards, and bitter complaints both among the gentry and the poor that the export was still permitted, that large quantities of oats were shipped from Cork at a time when the people at home were starving. In the beginning of 1730 two ships laden with barley were stopped at Drogheda by a fierce mob, and were compelled to unload.2 In twenty years there were at least three or four of absolute famine, and that of 1740 and 1741, which Edition: orig; Page: [238] followed the great frost at the end of 1739, though it has hardly left a trace in history, and hardly excited any attention in England, was one of the most fearful upon record. ‘Want and misery,’ wrote a contemporary observer, ‘are in every face, the rich unable to relieve the poor, the roads spread with dead and dying bodies, mankind the colour of the docks and nettles they feed on, two or three sometimes on a car going to the grave for want of bearers to carry them, and many buried only in the fields and ditches where they perished. The universal scarcity was followed by fluxes and malignant fevers, which swept off multitudes of all sorts, so that whole villages were laid waste.’1 This writer maintained—it is to be hoped with great exaggeration — that 400,000 persons probably perished at this time through famine or its attendant diseases. Berkeley, who was then Bishop of Cloyne, in a letter to his friend Prior, dated May 1741, writes: ‘The distresses of the sick and poor are endless. The havoc of mankind in the counties of Cork, Limerick, and some adjacent places hath been incredible. The nation probably will not recover this loss in a century. The other day I heard one from the county of Limerick say that whole villages were entirely dispeopled. About two months since I heard Sir Richard Cox say that five hundred were dead in the parish, though in a county I believe not very populous.’2 Skelton, a Protestant clergyman of considerable literary talents, and of great energy and benevolence of character, who was then officiating at Monaghan, wrote at the close of the famine a very remarkable letter ‘on the necessity of tillage and granaries,’ which he looked upon as the sole means of in some degree preventing a recurrence of the calamity. He tells us ‘it was computed by some, and perhaps not without reason, that as many people died of want, or of disorders occasioned by want, within the two years past as fell by the sword in the massacre Edition: orig; Page: [239] and rebellion of 1641. Whole parishes in some places were almost desolate; the dead have been eaten in the fields by dogs for want of people to bury them. Whole thousands in a barony have perished, some of hunger and others of disorders occasioned by unnatural, unwholesome, and putrid diet.’1

‘By a moderate computation,’ said another writer who lived in the county of Tipperary, ‘very near one-third part of the poor cottiers of Munster have perished by fevers, fluxes, and downright want;’ and he described with a terrible energy the scenes which he witnessed around his own dwelling. ‘The charity of the landlords and farmers is almost quite exhausted. Multitudes have perished, and are daily perishing under hedges and ditches—some by fevers, some by fluxes, and some through downright cruel want in the utmost agonies of despair. I have seen the labourer endeavouring to work at his spade, but fainting for want of food, and forced to quit it. I have seen the aged father eating grass like a beast, and in the anguish of his soul wishing for his dissolution. I have seen the helpless orphan exposed on the dunghill, and none to take him in for fear of infection; and I have seen the hungry infant sucking at the breast of the already expired parent.’2 Primate Boulter exhibited in this wretched period an admirable example of charity, hundreds were daily fed by the Archbishop of Cashel, by Mr. Damer, by the authorities of Trinity College, and by some others; and a few obelisks still remain which were built at this time to give employment to the poor,3 but the country was so drained of its wealth that but little could be done. The cottiers depended wholly on their potato plots, and when these failed they died by thousands. In the county of Kerry the collectors of hearth-money in 1733 returned the number of families paying the tax at 14,346. In 1744 it had sunk to 9,372, about a third part having disappeared.4

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It will be observed that the conduct of England in destroying the trade and the most important manufacture of Ireland was a much less exceptional proceeding than Irish writers are disposed to maintain. England did to Ireland little more than she had done to America and to Scotland, and she acted in accordance with commercial principles that then governed all colonial policy. It was a fundamental maxim that the commercial interests of a dependency should be wholly subordinated to those of the mother country, and to an English mind there was no reason why this maxim should not be rigidly applied to Ireland. Davenant, who in the early years of the eighteenth century was the most influential writer on commercial questions, strenuously maintained that the greater cheapness of living and labour in Ireland rendered her a dangerous rival, and that therefore every form of industry which could compete with English manufacture should be discouraged or suppressed. All encouragement, he says, that can possibly consist with the welfare of England should be given to Irish planters, and he suggests that the admission of Irish cattle into England would be, on the whole, advantageous to England and the best means of diverting the Irish from manufactures, but he strongly supports the absolute prohibition of the Irish wool manufacture and objects to all encouragement of the linen manufacture.1 The Catholics, who formed the bulk of the Irish people, were looked upon in England with unmingled hatred. The Irish Protestants owed their ascendency to England, and she had but lately re-established it by an expensive war. The real peculiarity of the case lay much less in the commercial legislation of England than in the situation of Ireland. Scotland possessed an independent parliament, supported by the entire nation, and she was therefore able to make herself so troublesome that England purchased the Union by ample commercial privileges. The American colonies contained within themselves almost unlimited resources. No legislation could counteract their great Edition: orig; Page: [241] natural advantages. They were inhabited by a people who, from the circumstances of the case, possessed much more than average energy, and they were so large and so distant from the mother country that it was practically impossible very seriously to injure their trade. The position of Ireland was totally different. Her parliament was wholly dependent on that of England. Her ruling caste were planted in the midst of a hostile and subjugated population. She lay within a few hours of the English coast. The bulk of her people were crushed to the very dust by penal laws,1 and most of the men of energy and ambition were driven from her shore. She was thus completely within the grasp of England, and that grasp was tightened till almost every element of her prosperity was destroyed.

According to the maxims then prevailing, the policy was a very natural, but, as far as the true interests of England were concerned, it was a very short-sighted one. If the Protestants were to be treated as an English garrison in Ireland, it was the obvious interest of the mother country that they should be as numerous, as powerful, and as united as possible. England, on the contrary, by her commercial laws, deliberately crushed their prosperity, drove them by thousands into exile, arrested the influx of a considerable Protestant population from Great Edition: orig; Page: [242] Britain, prevented the formation of those industrial habits and feelings which are the most powerful support of a Government, and inspired the Presbyterians of the north with a bitter hatred of her rule. Not content with this, she proceeded to divide her friends. The English Toleration Act was not extended to Ireland, and the Nonconformists in the first years of the eighteenth century only celebrated their worship by connivance. The sacramental test was inserted by the English ministers in the Anti-Popery Bill of 1704, and the Dissenters were thus excluded from all municipal offices. Their marriages, unless celebrated by an Episcopal clergyman, were irregular, and subjected them to vexatious prosecutions in the ecclesiastical courts; and in 1713 the English Parliament extended the provisions of the Schism Act to Ireland. The Catholics were, no doubt, for a time paralysed, but in this quarter also the seeds of future retribution were abundantly sown. By a long course of atrocious legislation, directed expressly against their religion, they were educated into hatred of the law. The landlords of their own persuasion, who would have been their natural and their most moderate leaders, were, as a class, gradually abolished. Education, industrial pursuits, ambition, and wealth, all of which mitigate the intensity of religious bigotry, were steadily denied them. Every tendency to amalgamate with the Protestants was arrested, and the whole Catholic population were reduced to a degree of ignorance and poverty in which the normal checks on population wholly ceased to operate. Starvation may check the multiplication of population, but the fear of starvation never does. In a peaceful community, in which infanticide is almost unknown and gross vice very rare, the real check to excessive multiplication is a high standard of comfort. The shame and dread of falling below it, the desire of attaining a higher round in the social ladder, lead to self-denial, providence, and tardy marriages. But when men have no such standard, when they are accustomed to live without any of the decencies, ornaments, or luxuries of life; when potatoes and milk and a mud hovel are Edition: orig; Page: [243] all they require and all they can hope for; when, in a word, they are so wretched that they can hardly, by any imprudence, make their condition permanently worse than it is, they will impose no restraint upon themselves, and, except in periods of pestilence, famine, or exterminating war, will inevitably increase with excessive rapidity. In Ireland early marriages were still further encouraged by the priests, partly, no doubt, as conducive to morality, and partly, it is said, because fees at weddings and baptisms were of great importance to an impoverished clergy, excluded from every kind of State provision. In this manner, by a curious nemesis, one of the results of the laws that were intended to crush Catholicism in Ireland was, that after a few years the Catholics increased in a greater ratio than any other portion of the population.1

The same complete subordination of Irish to English interests extended through the political system. Of the revenue of the country the larger part was entirely beyond the control of Parliament. The hereditary revenue, as it existed after the Revolution, still rested substantially on the legislation of Charles II., and it grew in a great measure out of the confiscations after the Rebellion. The lands which had been then forfeited by the Irish, and which were not restored by the Act of Settlement, had been bestowed during the Commonwealth on English soldiers. If the Crown at the Restoration had exercised its legal right of appropriating them it would have obtained a vast revenue; but as such a course would have been extremely difficult and dangerous, it was arranged by the Act of Settlement Edition: orig; Page: [244] that the Crown should resign its right to these forfeitures, receiving in compensation a new hereditary revenue. The older forms of Crown property were at the same time either incorporated into this revenue or abolished with compensation, and the new hereditary revenue, as settled by Parliament, was vested for ever in the King and his successors. It was derived from many sources, the most important being the Crown rents, which arose chiefly from the religious confiscations of Henry VIII. and from the six counties that were forfeited after the Rebellion of Tyrone, the quit rents which had their origin in the confiscations that followed the rebellion of 1641, the hearth-money, which was first imposed upon Ireland under Charles II., licences for selling ale, beer, and strong waters, and many excise and Custom House duties. For many years this revenue was sufficient for all the civil and military purposes of the Government, and no Parliament, with the exception of that which was convoked by James after his expulsion from England, sat in Ireland in the twenty-six years that elapsed between the Restoration and the Parliament which was summoned by Lord Sidney in 1692. The increase of the army, the erection of barracks, and other expenses resulting from the Revolution had made the hereditary revenue insufficient, and it became necessary to ask for fresh supplies. This insufficiency of the hereditary revenue laid the foundation of the power of Parliament, and that power was increased when the Government found it necessary in 1715 to borrow 50,000l. for the purpose of taking military measures to secure the new dynasty. The national debt, which had before this time been only 16,000l., became now a considerable element in the national finances. It grew in the next fifteen years to rather more than 330,000l., and a series of new duties were imposed by Parliament for the purpose of paying the interest and principal.1

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These circumstances led to the summoning of Parliament every second year, and to the gradual enlargement of its power, but its legitimate prerogative was a matter of constant and vehement dispute, and its actual position was one of most humiliating dependence. It exercised a partial and imperfect control over the finances of the country, and claimed unsuccessfully the sole right of originating Money Bills; but the English Parliament, though it refrained from taxing Ireland, assumed and repeatedly exercised the right of binding it by its legislation without any concurrence of the national legislature.1 By a declaratory English Act of George I. this right was emphatically asserted, and even in its own legislation the Irish Parliament was completely subordinate to the English Privy Council. Its dependence rested upon Poyning's Act, which was passed under Henry VII., and amended under Philip and Mary. At one time the Irish Parliament could not be summoned till the Bills it was called upon to pass were approved under the Great Seal of England; and, although it afterwards obtained the power of originating heads of Bills, it was necessary before they became law that they should be submitted to the English Privy Council, who had the right either of rejecting or of altering them, and the Irish Parliament, though it might reject, could not alter a Bill returned in an amended form from England. The appellate jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords was withdrawn from it by a mere act of power in the Annesley case in 1719. The constitution of the House of Commons was such that it lay almost wholly beyond the control of public opinion. By an English law passed at a time when the Irish Parliament was not sitting, the Catholics were precluded from sitting among its members, and as they were afterwards deprived of the suffrage the national legislature was thus absolutely cut off from the bulk of the Irish people. The Nonconformists were not formally excluded, but the test clause, which was also of English origin, shut them out from the corporations by which a large proportion of the members Edition: orig; Page: [246] were elected.1 At the same time the royal prerogative of creating boroughs was exerted to an extent unparalleled in England. No less than forty boroughs had been created by James I., thirty-six by the other sovereigns of his house, and eleven more boroughs were for the first time represented in the Parliament which met in 1692. The county representation appears to have been tolerably sound, but out of the 300 Members of the Irish House of Commons, 216 were elected by boroughs and manors, and of these Members 176, according to the lowest estimate, were elected by individual patrons, while very few of the remainder had really popular constituencies. It was stated in 1784 that fifty Members of Parliament were then elected by ten individuals.2

Even this, however, is not a full statement of the case. The Habeas Corpus Act, the great guarantee of personal liberty in England, did not extend to Ireland, and it was carefully excluded from the chief constitutional benefits of the Revolution. Parliaments in England were made triennial and afterwards septennial, but in Ireland they might last for a whole reign, and that of George II. was actually in existence for thirty-three years. The Irish judges still held office at pleasure. An Irish Bill containing the chief provisions of the Bill of Rights was sent to England under the Viceroyalty of Lord Sidney, but it was never returned. The Established Church, representing as it did an infinitesimal fraction of the people, was made a chief instrument of government. So large a proportion of peers in the beginning of the eighteenth century were habitual absentees Edition: orig; Page: [247] that in the time of Swift the bishops constituted about half the working majority of the House of Lords;1 they even returned by their borough influence some of the Members of the Lower House, and they were conspicuous among the Lords-Justices who governed Ireland during the prolonged absence of the Viceroy. From 1724 to 1764 the chief direction of affairs was, with little intermission, practically in the hands of three successive primates—Boulter, Hoadly, and Stone. Every bishop who was appointed was expected to use his influence in favour of the Government.2 The peerages were given almost exclusively to large borough owners, and it was stated in the latter half of the century that fifty-three peers nominated 123 Members of the Lower House.

It has always seemed to me one of the most striking instances on record of the facility with which the most defective Parliament yields to popular impulses and acquires an instinct of independence that a legislature such as I have described should have ever defeated a ministry, or constituted itself on any single subject a faithful organ of public opinion. The state of the administration was not less deplorable than that of the Parliament. The Irish establishments were out of all proportion to the wealth and to the needs of the people, and they formed a great field of lucrative patronage, paid for from the Irish revenues, at the full disposal of the English ministers, and almost wholly beyond the cognisance of the British Parliament. How such patronage would be administered in the days of Newcastle and Walpole may be easily imagined. Until Lord Townshend's administration the Viceroys were always absent from Edition: orig; Page: [248] the country from which they derived their official incomes for more than half, usually for about four-fifths, of their term of office. Swift, in one of his ‘Drapier's Letters,’ written in 1724, has given a curious catalogue of the great Irish offices, some of them perfect sinecures, which were then distributed among English politicians. Lord Berkeley held the great office of Master of the Rolls; Lord Palmerston that of First Remembrancer, at a salary of nearly 2,000l. a year; Dodington was Clerk of the Pells, with a salary of 2,500l. a year; Southwell was Secretary of State; Lord Burlington was Hereditary High Treasurer, Mr. Arden was Under-Treasurer, with an income of 9,000l. a year; Addison had a sinecure as Keeper of the Records in Birmingham Tower; and four of the Commissioners of Revenue lived generally in England.1 The Viceroy, the Chief Secretary, and several other leading political officers were always English. In the legal profession every Chancellor till Fitzgibbon was an Englishman,2 and in the first years of the eighteenth century, every chief of the three law courts. In the Church every primate during the eighteenth century was an Englishman, as were also ten out of the eighteen archbishops of Dublin and Cashel, and a large proportion of the other bishops.3 Swift said with perfect truth that ‘those who have the misfortune to be born here have the least title to any considerable employment, to which they are seldom preferred but upon a political consideration,’ and he compared Ireland to a hospital where all the household officers grow rich, while the poor, for whose sake it was built, are almost starving.4 The habit of quartering on Ireland persons who could not be safely or largely provided for in England was inveterate. The Duke of St. Albans, the bastard Edition: orig; Page: [249] son of Charles II., enjoyed an Irish pension of 800l. a year; Catherine Sedley, the mistress of James II., had another of 5,000l. a year. William bestowed confiscated lands exceeding an English county in extent, on his Dutch favourites, Portland and Albemarle, and a considerable estate on his former mistress, Elizabeth Villiers. The Duchess of Kendal and the Countess of Darlington, the two mistresses of George I., had pensions of the united annual value of 5,000l. Lady Walsingham, the daughter of the Duchess of Kendal, had an Irish pension of 1,500l. Lady Howe, the daughter of Lady Darlington, had a pension of 500l. Madame de Walmoden, one of the mistresses of George II., had an Irish pension of 3,000l. The Queen Dowager of Prussia, sister of George II., Count Bernsdorf, who was a prominent German politician under George I., and a number of other less noted German names may be found on the Irish pension list.1 Towards the close of the century, as the increased authority of the Irish Parliament and the appearance of an independent party within its walls made the necessities of corruption more imperious, the pension list assumed a somewhat different character and much more considerable dimensions, but in the first half of the eighteenth century the acknowledged pensions exceeded 30,000l. a year.2

The manner in which the Church patronage was administered had such important effects that it may be advisable to dwell upon it at a little more length. The possibility of converting the Irish to Protestantism had indeed, before the Revolution, wholly ceased. What faint chances there had before been, had Edition: orig; Page: [250] been destroyed by Cromwell, whose savage rule had planted in the Irish mind a hatred of Protestantism and a hatred of England which is even now far from extinguished. But the Church might at least have exercised a great civilising influence in a country where the presence of a class of resident gentry and the example of a faithful and decorous performance of public duty were peculiarly needed, and its prizes might have greatly stimulated Irish education. It is popularly supposed that the Irish Catholics and the Irish Protestant Dissenters were all sacrificed to the members of the Established Church, and that these at least were the pampered children of the State. But a more careful examination will much alter this impression. The wealth of the Church had for a long time been diminishing. Many churches had been destroyed during the civil war and had never been rebuilt. The revenues of many parishes had been appropriated by laymen, and never been restored. The tithe war had not yet begun, but the poverty of the Catholics, the minute subdivision of land, the difficulty and expense of collecting numerous small dues, and, it must be added, the hostility, not only of Catholics and Presbyterians, but also of Protestant Episcopalian landlords, made the real income of the clergymen much less than was supposed.1 In 1710, indeed, chiefly through the intercession of Swift, the Irish Church obtained from the Queen the remission of the twentieth parts, and the application of the first-fruits to the purposes of purchasing glebes, building houses, and buying impropriations for the clergy, but these benefits were very inconsiderable. The twentieth parts, which had hitherto been paid to the Crown, were a tax of 12d. in the pound, paid annually out of all ecclesiastical benefices as they were valued at the Reformation, and their whole value was estimated at 500l. a year. The first-fruits, which were paid by incumbents upon their promotion, are said not to have amounted to more than 450l. a year.2

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But this small advantage was much more than counterbalanced in 1735. A bitter feud had for many years been raging between the clergy and the landlords about the tithe of agistment, the technical name for the tithe of pasturage for dry and barren cattle. In the north this description of tithe appears to have been regularly paid, but over a great part of the country it had fallen into desuetude. The claim, though often resisted, was established by the law-courts in 1707, in 1722, and in several later suits, but the whole landlord class were violently opposed to it. It would have been impossible to carry a Bill abolishing it through the House of Lords, but the House of Commons, which consisted chiefly of landowners, acted with a high hand. It passed a series of resolutions describing the tithe of agistment as new, grievous, and burthensome to the landlords and tenants, and likely, by the conflicts it produced between the laity and the clergy, to encourage Popery and infidelity, and to drive many useful hands out of the kingdom. It asserted that ‘the allotments, glebes, and known tithes, with other ecclesiastical emoluments ascertained before this new demand,’ were ‘an honourable and plentiful provision for the clergy of the kingdom,’ and it recommended that ‘all legal ways and means should be made use of’ to resist the claims of the clergy. These resolutions, though they had no legal validity, had practically the effect of law. Supported by the House of Commons, the landlords all over Ireland formed into associations for the purpose of resisting the tithes; a common purse was provided, and a treasurer chosen for the purpose of maintaining all lawsuits against the clergy; and the House showed an alarming disposition to appoint a committee to inquire into the behaviour of the bishops and clergy in their pastoral cures. The clergy were completely intimidated. No convocation had been suffered to assemble in Ireland since 1711, so there was no formidable clerical organisation. The abuses of the Church were so gross that an inquiry might have shaken it to the basis, and the position of the country clergy, scattered thinly through great Catholic or Presbyterian districts, would have been completely untenable if the Edition: orig; Page: [252] landlord class were opposed to them. The tithe of agistment accordingly ceased to be exacted,1 and the Church thus lost considerably more than it had gained under Queen Anne.

The letters of Archbishop King are full of curious illustrations of the wretchedness of its condition. In the country parts of his own diocese he assures us that the union of ten or eleven parishes was necessary to make a competency.2 Of the 131 parishes in the diocese of Ferns, 71 were impropriated in lay hands, and of those which were held by clergymen many were so poor that sixteen united only made a revenue of 60l. a year.3 There were some great prizes, but most of them were given to Englishmen, to relations or followers of the leading officials, to mere politicians, to those hangers-on upon the Castle who were known in Dublin under the expressive name of ‘Kingfishers.’ In 1716 King wrote: ‘His Majesty has disposed of six bishoprics in Ireland since his accession to the throne, and only two of them have been given to persons educated in Ireland. The same method was taken in her late Majesty's time, especially towards the later part of her reign, when the Primacy, Kildare, Ossory, Derry, and Waterford were given to persons educated at Oxford.’4 Swift was probably accurate when he stated that ‘there were hardly ten clergymen throughout the whole kingdom, for more than nineteen years preceding 1733, who had not been either preferred entirely upon account of their declared affection for the Hanoverian line, or higher promoted as the due reward of the same merit.’5 If the evil had ended with the appointment of Englishmen or of mere politicians to bishoprics, it would have been endurable. It was found, however, that every such bishop had sons, nephews, Edition: orig; Page: [253] chaplains, or college companions to provide for, and that they speedily monopolised the livings in his gift. The whole number of beneficed clergymen in Ireland was only about 600,1 and the preferments of many of them were very small. ‘There are not 200 good benefices,’ Archbishop King wrote, ‘in all Ireland, half of which are in the Crown; and our chief governors changing in a year or two, they complain that there are not avoidances enough to prefer the chaplains they bring along with them. Most of the others are in the bishops, and they bring their chaplains also; so that as things are likely to be ordered, for aught I can see, we must consent to be curates, or take up with the refuse of strangers.’2 Primate Boulter, who for many years took the chief part in the government of Ireland, continually urged it as the main and almost the sole maxim of a good Irish policy ‘gradually to get as many English on the bench here as can decently be sent hither.’3 At the close of 1725 Archbishop King asserted that ‘the Government, since the accession of Carteret to the vice-royalty, had disposed of 20,000l. a year in benefices and employments connected with the Church, to strangers, and not 500l. to natives of Ireland.4 The natural result of this system was to give the Church an exotic and anti-national character, fatal to its prosperity, and at the same time to cast a shadow of deadly discouragement over the University which was the heart and the centre of Irish intellectual life.

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The abuses of the Church patronage from the time of the Restoration were probably unparalleled in Europe. A few bishops there were, no doubt, who would have done honour to any Church. The history of Protestantism hardly contains a greater or purer name than that of Berkeley. King was a considerable theological writer and an able and honest administrator, and while Archbishop of Dublin he created a chair of Divinity at Trinity College, and built no less than nineteen churches. Archbishop Synge appears to have also been a prelate of great zeal and very considerable abilities. But many of the bishops were men who would never have been tolerated in England, and who were in fact habitual absentees. Thus Hacket, Bishop of Down, held that diocese for no less than twenty years, during the whole of which time he never once entered it, but lived habitually at Hammersmith, and put up his benefices for sale. The scandal at last became intolerable, and he was deprived in 1694.1 Digby, who was Bishop of Elphin from 1691 to 1720, was generally an absentee. He owed his promotion, we are told, to his great skill in water-colours, by which he ‘recommended himself to men in power and ladies; and so was early made a bishop.’ During his episcopate his large diocese fell into such wreck and ruin, that when he died, it did not contain more than thirteen Protestant clergymen.2 Pooley, who was Bishop of Raphoe from 1702 to 1712, resided during all that time barely eighteen months.3 Ashe, who was bishop of Clogher from 1697 to 1716, was generally non-resident.4 Fitzgerald, who was bishop of Clonfert for more than thirty years, and who lived to the great age of eighty-eight, was for a long period sunk in imbecility, and the whole diocese was scandalously managed for the last twelve years of his life by a young woman of twenty, whom he had married.5 One of the richest and most important of the Irish sees was that of Derry. It lay in the heart of Protestant Nonconformity, and a Edition: orig; Page: [255] resident bishop was peculiarly necessary to protect the interests of the Church. It was at one time administered by King, who, whatever may have been his faults, was always an active and vigilant prelate; but his successor was generally a non-resident. Bishop Nicholson was then promoted, in 1718, from the see of Carlisle, and the letter is still preserved in which he expressed his astonishment and indignation at receiving the king's orders that he must reside in his diocese.1 He did so, however, and a letter of Archbishop King, written in the May of 1722, notices that, since the new bishop had come into office, three of the best livings in his diocese had fallen vacant, all of which he had given to his relations.2 At the close of 1725 the Archbishop writes that the Bishop of Derry had by this time given about 2,000l. in benefices to his English friends and relations,’ and that ‘the Bishop of Waterford has not only given all livings of value in his gift to his brothers and relations, but likewise his vicar-generalship and registry, though none of them reside in the kingdom.’3 Many of these prelates, and those by no means the worst, almost dropped their ecclesiastical character, and were simply great noblemen, distinguished for their wealth and their conviviality. It was said that Berkeley, when appointed Bishop of Cloyne, sent down to his diocese twenty-two cartloads of books and one hogshead of wine, but that another prelate, who was appointed nearly at the same time, sent to his see in the North one load of books and twenty-four hogsheads of wine.4 Cumberland, who visited Dublin about 1767, was filled with astonishment at the ‘Polish magnificence’ of Primate Stone, and he remarked that, in Ireland, the professional gravity of character maintained by English dignitaries was usually laid aside, and ‘in several prelatical houses the mitre was so mingled with the cockade, and the glass circulated so freely, that it was evident that the spirit of conviviality was by Edition: orig; Page: [256] no means excluded from the pale of the Church of Ireland.’1 When Mrs. Delany was passing through Killala, in 1732, she found the whole town full of excitement about the horse races given under the patronage of Bishop Clayton for the amusement of the people.2 ‘A true Irish bishop,’ said Archbishop Bolton, with a sarcasm which derived its point from many examples, ‘has nothing more to do than to eat, drink, grow fat, rich, and die.’3

The abuses which were so common in the episcopacy naturally extended to the minor clergy. Several laws had indeed been made to secure the residence of the parochial clergy, but they were not observed, and in many cases it was scarcely possible that it should be otherwise. Archbishop Synge, who, like King, distinguished himself during the whole of his long episcopate by his zeal in remedying the abuses of his Church, and who made large pecuniary sacrifices with that object,4 declared in 1723 that ‘in three parts out of four of this kingdom the parochial clergy either have no glebes at all, or so small a spot, and often so inconveniently situated, as to make it impossible for them in the sense of the law to reside,’5 and they certainly exhibited very little disposition to overcome the difficulty. In 1707 the Lords-Justices complained to the Duke of Ormond that the chaplains appointed to several regiments quartered in Ireland considered their posts sinecures, and did not even leave England, abandoning the care of the soldiers to the chance ministrations Edition: orig; Page: [257] of some resident curate.1 Rectors in Ireland well knew that the best chances of preferment were found in a residence in Dublin, and pluralities and non-residence combined to deprive vast districts of all pastoral care. Thus when Dr. Delany was appointed Dean of Down he found that his predecessor had only been in his parish for two days in six years, and some of the poor told him they had never seen a clergyman in their lives except when they went to church.2 Archbishop King mentions incidentally that in the diocese of Clonfert about half the beneficed clergy were non-resident.3 Bishop Nicholson, in one of his letters, describes a visitation which he made in company with the Bishop of Meath through the diocese of the latter prelate. ‘The churches,’ he says, ‘are wholly demolished in many of their parishes, which are therefore called non-cures: and several clergymen have each of them four or five, some six or seven of them. They commonly live at Dublin, leaving the conduct of their Popish parishioners to priests of their own persuasion, who are said to be now more numerous than ever.’4 The long quarrel between Archbishops Boulter and King arose in a great degree from the bitter language in which the latter prelate censured the conduct of the primate, who had ordained and placed in an Irish living a man named Power, who had been one of the famous Hampshire deer-stealers known as the Waltham Blacks, and had only saved himself from the gallows by turning informer against his comrades.5 ‘You make nothing in England,’ wrote King to Addison, ‘to order us to provide for such and such a man 200l. per annum, and when he has it, by favour of the Government, he thinks he may be excused attendance, but you do not consider that such a disposition takes up perhaps a tenth part of the diocese and turns off the cure of ten parishes to one curate.’6 In some of the wild Catholic districts Edition: orig; Page: [258] the few scattered Protestants were suffered to sink into a Pagan ignorance. Skelton, one of the ablest and best men in the Irish Church, officiated for a time in one of the remote districts of Donegal, and he assures us that he had parishioners, and those not of the lowest class, who were unable to say how many Commandments or even how many Gods there were. Some members of his congregation used to come intoxicated to church. In order to dispel their ignorance he was accustomed from time to time, without giving any previous notice of his intention, to have the doors shut and bolted as soon as the congregation had assembled for Sunday service, and he then proceeded to catechise his reluctant prisoners.1

These examples are sufficient to explain the lethargy and the paralysis of the Established Church. In truth, Catholics and Presbyterians in Ireland, though they had many grievances, had at least one inestimable advantage in the competition of creeds. The English Government had no control over the appointment of their clergy. From the very highest appointment to the lowest, in secular and sacred things, all departments of administration in Ireland were given over as a prey to rapacious jobbers. The real fault was not in the nature of Englishmen or in the nature of Irishmen, but in the institutions of the country. A long course of events had produced in England a race of statesmen who were very selfish and corrupt, but in England there were representative institutions sufficiently free and sufficiently powerful to restrain the extreme forms of malversation. In Ireland there was no such restraint. The English Parliament knew nothing and cared nothing about Irish patronage. The Irish Parliament was so powerless and so constituted that it was impossible it could exercise an efficient control. Occasionally, it is true, demonstrations were made against the more scandalous pensions, and one or two measures of real importance were carried. In 1701, at the time when the destruction of the woollen trade had ruined Ireland, pensions to the amount of 16,000l. Edition: orig; Page: [259] were struck off; and through fear of the House some of the more scandalous pensions were sometimes withheld.1 In 1729, at the time of the great famine, a measure was carried by which all the salaries, employments, places, and pensions of those who did not reside six months in the year in the country, were taxed four shillings in the pound, but the unfortunate qualification was added ‘unless they shall be exempted by His Majesty's sign manual.’2 The attempt, indeed, to resist was almost hopeless. With the immense majority of the nation wholly unrepresented, with the immense preponderance of legislative power concentrated in the hands of a few great men who could be easily bribed by peerages or pensions, or of officials who were directly interested in the continuance of corruption, there was no real safeguard. The greatest of all evils in politics is power without control, and this evil never acquired more fearful dimensions than in Ireland in the early years of the eighteenth century.

How bitterly the state of things I have described must have been contemplated by Irishmen of real intelligence and patriotism may easily be imagined. To enable the reader to realise their feelings I can hardly do better than quote a few lines from a very remarkable paper which has, I believe, never been printed. When Lord Halifax was appointed Lord Lieutenant in 1761, the well-known writer Charles Lucas, who was then Member for Dublin, wrote him a long letter expressing his warm hope that under the new reign the conditions of Irish government would change, and he recounted at the same time the chief causes of the failure of his predecessors.3 The majority of these, he asserted, ‘submitted to take on them the government Edition: orig; Page: [260] of a wretched people with the sole view of aggrandising themselves and providing for a long train of hungry minions at the expense of a miserable, misrepresented kingdom.’ ‘To evince this,’ he continued, ‘your Excellency may easily look back and see the splendid figures some of the most necessitous of men put into this employment have been able to make upon their return home, after enjoying this place for a session or two. See some of them and their worst tools loaded with excessive pensions for numbers of years. Take a view of the favourites they have provided for in the Church and the State, and the army. Your Excellency will often find the most infamous of men, the very outcasts of Britain, put into the highest employments, or loaded with exorbitant pensions; while all that ministered and gave sanction to the most shameful and destructive measures of such viceroys never failed of an ample share in the spoils of a plundered people.’ That this should be the case, he maintains, is not surprising, considering the constitution and the duration of the Parliament. Its Members, instead of being the true representatives of the people, are ‘a packed convention—a faction so far from being elected by the people that they were confessedly appointed in opposition to the sense of the electors, and held in servile bondage by some one man or junto of a few crafty persons grown rich and powerful by the spoils of a plundered and abused nation. “Serving the Crown,”’ he continues, is a phrase which in Ireland ‘has been frequently extended to the giving money to a minister for the erecting of forts that were perhaps never intended to be founded, for arms that never were or will be made, or for raising funds upon any other frivolous pretence, to enable a viceroy to gratify himself and his no less mercenary minions with the most immoderate douceurs and boundless pensions. These are what have usually passed with us for serving the Crown, the King's business, and the like; and in long-lived Parliaments a supple majority was seldom wanting to give sanction to the sordid deed, while a sufficient number of the members were gratified with a share of the spoils.’

Serious, however, as was this drain upon the revenues of a Edition: orig; Page: [261] country so miserably poor, it was trivial compared with that produced by the absenteeism of the Irish landlords. Swift asserted that at least one-third of the rent of the country was spent in England, and nearly all the Irish writers of the last century dilate upon the evil, though they differ somewhat as to its magnitude. Prior, in 1730, calculated the rental spent by absentees in England at about 620,000l. Another list, drawn up in 1769, put the value at no less than 1,200,000l. Hutchinson, in his ‘Commercial Restraints,’ which was published in 1779, stated that ‘the sums remitted from Ireland to Great Britain for rents, interest of money, pensions, salaries, and profit of offices amounted, on the lowest computation, from 1668 to 1773 to 1,110,000l. yearly.’ Arthur Young, in 1779, estimated the rents alone of the absentees at about 732,000l.1 The causes of the evil are not difficult to discover. A very large part of the confiscated land was given to Englishmen who had property and duties in England, and habitually lived there. Much of it also came into the market, and as there was very little capital in Ireland, and as Catholics were forbidden to purchase land, this also passed largely into the hands of English speculators. Besides, the level of civilisation was much higher in England than in Ireland. The position of a Protestant landlord, living in the midst of a degraded population, differing from him in religion and race, had but little attraction; the political situation of the country closed to an Irish gentleman nearly every avenue of honourable ambition, and owing to a long series of very evident causes, the sentiment of public duty was deplorably low. The economical evil was not checked by any considerable movement in the opposite direction, for after the suppression of the Irish manufactures but few Englishmen, except those who obtained Irish offices, came to Ireland.

The moral effects of absenteeism, and especially its influence on the land question, can hardly be exaggerated. One of its first results was the system of middlemen, which continued till within the memory of living men almost universal Edition: orig; Page: [262] in Ireland. The landlord, disliking the trouble and difficulty of collecting his rents from numerous small tenants, in whose welfare he took no interest, and looking solely at his property as a source of emolument, abdicated all his active functions, and let his land at a long lease to a large tenant, who raised the rent of the landlord as well as a profit for himself by subletting, and who undertook the whole practical management of the estate. The tenants were therefore under the immediate control of men of a wholly inferior stamp, who were necessarily Protestant, but who had none of the culture and position that soften the asperities of religious differences, and who at the same time, having no permanent interest in the soil, were usually the most grasping of tyrants. As the demand for land increased, or the profits of land rose, the head tenant followed the example of his landlord. He often became an absentee. He abandoned all serious industry. He in his turn sublet his tenancy at an increased rent, and the process continued till there were often three, four, or even five persons between the landlord and the cultivator of the soil.

The poor, in the meantime, sank into the condition of cottiers—a condition which has been truly described as ‘a specific and almost unique product of Irish industrial life.’1 Unlike the peasant proprietor, and also unlike the mediæval serf, the cottier had no permanent interest in the soil, and no security for his future position. Unlike the English farmer, he was not a capitalist, who selects land as one of the many forms of profitable investment that are open to him. He was a man destitute of all knowledge and of all capital, who found the land the only thing that remained between himself and starvation. Rents were regulated by competition, but it was competition between a half-starving population, who had no other resource except the soil, and were therefore prepared to promise Edition: orig; Page: [263] anything rather than be deprived of it.1 The landlord did nothing for them. They built their own mud hovels, planted their hedges, dug their ditches. They were half naked, half starved, utterly destitute of all providence, and of all education, liable at any time to be turned adrift from their holdings, ground to the dust by three great burdens—rack-rents, paid not to the landlord but to the middleman; tithes, paid to the clergy—often the absentee clergy—of the Church of their oppressors; and dues, paid to their own priests. Swift declared that Irish tenants ‘live worse than English beggars.’2 The few travellers who visited the country uniformly described their condition as the most deplorable in Europe. ‘I never met,’ writes a very intelligent tourist who visited Ireland about 1764, ‘with such scenes of misery and oppression as this country, in too many parts of it, really exhibits. What with the severe exactions of rent, even before the corn is housed—a practice that too much prevails here among the petty and despicable landlords, third, fourth, and fifth from the first proprietor … of the parish priest—who, not content with the tithe of grain, exacts even the very tenth of half-a-dozen or half-a-score perches of potatoes, upon which a whole family perhaps subsists for the year—and of the Catholic priest … who comes armed with the terrors of damnation, and demands his full quota of unremitted offerings … the poor reduced wretches have hardly the skin of a potato left them to subsist on … The high roads throughout the southern and western parts are lined with beggars, who live in cabins of such shocking materials and construction that through hundreds of them you may see the smoke ascending from every inch of the roof, for scarce one in twenty of them have any chimney, and the rain drips from every inch of the roof on the half-naked, shivering, and almost half-starving inhabitants Edition: orig; Page: [264] within. … The case of the lower class of farmers, indeed, is little better than a state of slavery. … The land, though often rich and fertile, almost universally wears the face of poverty, from want of good cultivation, which the miserable occupiers really are not able to give it, and very few of them know how if they were, and this indeed must be the case while the lands are canted (set to the highest bidder, not openly, but by private proposals, which throw every advantage into the hands of the landlord) in small parcels of 20l. or 30l. a year, at third, fourth, and fifth hand from the first proprietor. From the most attentive and minute inquiries at many places, I am confident that the produce of this kingdom, either of corn or cattle, is not above two-thirds, at most, of what by good cultivation it might yield. Yet the gentlemen, I believe, make as much or more of their estates than any in the three kingdoms,1 while the lands, for equal goodness, produce the least. … The landlords first and subordinate get all that is made of the land, and the tenants, for their labour, get poverty and potatoes.’ ‘Ireland,’ continues the same writer, ‘would be indeed a rich country, if made the most of, if its trade were not reduced by unnatural restrictions and an Egyptian kind of politics from without, and its agriculture depressed by hard masters from within itself.’2

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This description is amply borne out by other authorities, and it is easy to explain it. The mass of the people became cottiers because in most parts of Ireland it was impossible to gain a livelihood as agricultural labourers or in mechanical pursuits. This impossibility was due to the extreme paucity of circulating capital, and may be chiefly traced to the destruction of Irish manufactures, and to the absence of a considerable class of resident landlords, who would naturally give employment to the poor. The popular remedy in Ireland for the latter evil was an absentee tax, but as most of the absentees lived in England, it was felt by men of sense that such a measure could never obtain the assent of the authorities in that country.1

The economical evil at the same time was aggravated at every stage by the laws against religion. The facility of selling land, and its value in the market, were unnaturally diminished by the exclusion of all Catholics from competition. Its agricultural condition was enormously impaired by the difficulty of borrowing money on landed security in a poor country, where this form of investment was legally closed against the great majority of the people. All real enterprise and industry among the Catholic tenants were destroyed by the laws which consigned them to utter ignorance, and still more by the law which placed strict bounds to their progress by providing that if their profits ever exceeded a third of their rent, the first Protestant who could prove the fact might take their farm. For reasons which have been often explained, Catholicism is on the whole less favourable to the industrial virtues than Protestantism, but yet the cases Edition: orig; Page: [266] of France, of Flanders, and of the northern States of Italy, show that it is possible that a very high standard of industry may under favourable circumstances be attained in a Catholic country. But in Ireland the debilitating influence of numerous church holidays, and of a religious encouragement of mendicancy, was felt in a society in which employment was rare, intermittent, and miserably underpaid, and in which Catholic industry was legally deprived of its appropriate rewards. Very naturally, therefore, habits of gross and careless idleness prevailed, which greatly aggravated the poverty of the nation. At the same time the class of middlemen, or large leaseholders, was unnaturally encouraged, for while they escaped some of the most serious evils of the landlord, they were guarded by law from all Catholic competition, and accordingly possessed the advantage of monopoly. It was soon discovered that one of the easiest ways for a Protestant to make money was by taking a large tract of country from an absentee landlord at a long lease, and by letting it at rack-rents to Catholic cottiers.1 The Irish tenant, said a high authority on this subject, speaking of the middlemen class, ‘will not be satisfied unless he has a long lease of lives of forty, fifty, or sixty years, that he may sell it, and 'tis rare to find a tenant in Ireland contented with a farm of moderate size. He pretends he cannot maintain his family with less than 200 acres—nay, if at any distance from town, 200 or 300 acres.’2

Another influence which aggravated the sufferings of the people was the tendency to turn great tracts of land into pasture, which produced numerous evictions, and greatly restricted the scanty resources of the poor. This tendency is, indeed, not one which can be regarded with unqualified condemnation. It is certain that pasture is the form of agricultural industry Edition: orig; Page: [267] which the conditions of soil and climate make most suitable to Ireland. At the time of the wool trade much of the land had taken this form; and even after the English restrictions on Irish wool, want of capital, want of energy, and the profits of the smuggling trade with France prevented any great change.1 Irish beef also was admitted freely to every country except England, and a large and profitable trade was carried on. Besides this, pasture required little skill, and was therefore natural to a country where the people scarcely possessed the rudiments of agricultural knowledge. It required little capital, and was therefore well suited to a country which was extremely poor, in which a great portion of the people were forbidden by law to invest their money in land, and in which, owing to recent confiscations, property was still insecure. It simplified the conditions of property, and therefore had a peculiar attraction to a proprietor who imagined with reason that his tenants were his enemies, and who inherited all the multifarious disadvantages and dangers attached to the position of an Irish landlord. The tendency was artificially strengthened by the very unjust resolution of the Irish House of Commons in 1735, relieving pasture land from the burden of tithes,2 and still more by the penal laws which paralysed the agricultural industry of the Catholics. Their operation in this respect has been well described by Lord Taaffe, a Catholic nobleman, who published in 1766 a valuable pamphlet on the condition of the country. ‘No sooner,’ he writes, ‘were the Catholics excluded from durable and profitable tenures, than they commenced graziers and laid aside agriculture; they ceased from draining or enclosing their farms and building good houses, as occupations unsuited to the new post assigned them in our national economy. They fell to wasting the lands they were virtually forbid to cultivate, the business of pasturage being compatible with such a conduct, and requiring also Edition: orig; Page: [268] little industry and still less labour in the management. This business also brings quick returns in money, and though its profits be smaller than those arising from agriculture, yet they are more immediate, and much better adapted to the condition of men who are confined to a fugitive property, which can so readily be transferred from one country to another. This pastoral occupation also eludes the vigilance of our present race of informers, as the difficulty of ascertaining a grazier's profits is considerable, and as the proofs of his enjoying more than a third penny profit cannot so easily be made clear in our courts of law. The keeping the lands waste also prevents in a great degree leases in reversion, what Protestants only are qualified to take, and what (by the small temptation to such reversions) gives the present occupant the best title to future renewal. This sort of self-defence in keeping the lands uncultivated had the further consequences of expelling that most useful body of the people called yeomanry in England, and Sculoags in Ireland—communities of industrious housekeepers who in my own time herded together in large villages and cultivated the lands everywhere, till as leases expired some rich grazier negotiating privately with a sum of ready money, took their lands over their heads. … The Sculoag race, that great nursery of labourers and manufacturers, has been broken and dispersed in every quarter, and we have nothing in lieu but those most miserable wretches on earth, the cottagers—naked slaves who labour without food, and live while they can, without houses or covering, under the lash of merciless and relentless taskmasters.’1

Under these influences the few Catholic landlords almost universally, and a very large proportion of the Protestants turned their land into pasture. A similar movement had begun in England under Henry VII. and had extended during the three following reigns, and it produced an amount of misery perhaps greater than is to be found in any other portion of English history. Edition: orig; Page: [269] But that movement had at least taken place in a country where the landlords were resident, where capital had already been largely accumulated, where many forms of industrial life were open to the poor, and where, by a long train of favourable circumstances, industrial habits were largely developed. In Ireland, where none of these conditions existed, the misery produced was appalling. Over a great part of Ireland the cottiers were driven for the most part to the mountains, where they obtained little plots of potato ground, too small, however, to support them during the year. They eked out their subsistence by migrating from place to place during the summer and autumn in search of work. The rate of wages was usually sixpence in summer and fourpence in winter,1 but even at this rate continuous work could seldom for any long period be counted on. Saving was therefore impossible, and the people depended for their very existence on the produce of the year. Their houses and dress were so miserable that food was almost their only expense, and it was computed that 10l. was more than sufficient for the whole annual expense of an Irish family.2 But the first bad year brought them face to face with starvation. The practice of houghing cattle in Connaught, which was the most prominent form of agrarian crime in Ireland during the first half of the eighteenth century, was probably largely due to this rapid conversion of arable land into pasture, which drove the people to the verge of starvation;3 and to the same cause Boulter mainly attributed the great stream of recruits who passed from Ireland into the armies of the Continent.4 The tendency to throw land into pasture became very general about 1715, when the peace opened the ports of the Continent to Irish beef. The average export of corn of all sorts during that and the two preceding years was 189,672 barrels, but from this time it steadily declined.5 Boulter, Swift, Berkeley, Edition: orig; Page: [270] Dobbs, Madden, Prior, and Skelton all agreed in representing the excessive amount of pasture as a leading cause both of the misery and the idleness of the people. In 1728 and 1729 the paucity of tillage greatly aggravated the severity of the famine. The distress was so poignant that the Parliament tried to remedy it by an artificial encouragement of tillage, but its measures were feeble and vacillating, and it was hampered by the jealousy of England, which feared lest Irish corn should enter into competition with her own. Swift had strongly censured a system, that had sprung up in his time, of landlords forbidding their tenants to break up or plough their land; and the House of Commons in 1716 passed a resolution against such covenants.1 It endeavoured more than once without success to obtain the sanction of the English authorities to a bill granting a small bounty for the encouragement of corn. It passed resolutions for the erection of public granaries, and in 1727, amid the horrors of the famine, it succeeded, after several failures, in inducing the English Government to assent to a Bill enjoining that five out of every 100 acres should be under the plough.2

It is very creditable to the Irish Parliament, in which the tenants were entirely unrepresented, and in which the landlord influence was overwhelmingly preponderant, that it should have carried such a measure; but it was one thing to pass a law, it was quite another to carry it into execution in a country where Edition: orig; Page: [271] it was almost hopeless for a Catholic tenant to obtain legal redress against a Protestant landlord. No measures appear to have been taken to enforce the Act, and the famine of 1741 and 1742 repeated in a very aggravated form the horrors of 1728. In the north, among the Protestant population, and in the neighbourhood of the linen manufactures, tillage was still largely practised,1 but in the other provinces great districts were nearly depopulated. ‘I believe I may venture to affirm,’ wrote a very competent authority in 1737, ‘that Ireland, inconsiderable as it is in extent, hath exported more beef for many years than all the rest of Europe.’2 In some of the finest counties the traveller might go for ten or fifteen miles without encountering a single house or seeing a single field of corn.3 Whole villages were often turned adrift.4 ‘In Munster and Connaught,’ said a writer in 1741, ‘many single persons of the Popish religion hold from 2,000 to 10,000 acres of land uncultivated, or tenanted by none but Papists, in their own hands.’5 ‘I live,’ said another writer in the same year, ‘in the county Tipperary, a county abounding with pasture, where vast tracts of land are held by single persons, where not only farmers but gentlemen keep from three to six or seven, nay, eight thousand acres in their own hands, flocked but for the most part with sheep, without any inhabitants but herdsmen and a few, a very few, cottiers to do the necessary drudgery, or rather slavery, about their houses. The same I may with equal truth affirm of the county of Limerick, with only this small Edition: orig; Page: [272] difference, that the greatest part of that county is stocked with black cattle. By these means the inhabitants of these counties, who are in a continual state of migration, have generally for several years past been obliged to betake themselves to the mountains, where they take little farms at exorbitant rates, often at the second or third hand, which they planted chiefly with potatoes, with which they endeavoured to make their rents, and with which and some oats they generally maintained their numerous families. The great frost last season destroyed almost all their plantations of potatoes, which had so long been the principal, if not the only, subsistence of the poor of these provinces.’1 Wesley reported in 1760 that Connaught was supposed to contain scarcely half the inhabitants it had eighty years before.2 In 1761 a long-continued murrain among cattle in England and on the Continent raised immensely the value of pasture-land in Ireland, and the numerous evictions which then took place were the immediate cause of the Whiteboy organisation.3 In 1767 the value of corn exported from Ireland was only 447l., while that of the corn imported was 133, 161l.4

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The moral and economical conditions of nations are closely connected, and it is not surprising that under such circumstances as I have described, industrial habits should have been almost entirely wanting among the Irish poor. In the emphatic words of Berkeley, they grew up ‘in a cynical content in dirt and beggary to a degree beyond any other people in Christendom.’ Their ‘habitations and furniture’ were ‘more sordid than those of the savage Americans,’ and the good bishop asked ‘whether there be upon earth any Christian or civilised people so beggarly wretched and destitute as the common Irish?’ An inevitable consequence, too, of the pressure of pasture upon population was an enormous increase of that nomadic pauperism which is one of the chief sources of national idleness and crime. We have already seen, from the testimony of Fletcher of Saltoun, the gigantic proportions this evil had attained in Scotland, and Defoe represents it as a very serious one even in England. Arthur Dobbs, in a work published in 1731, gives us a corresponding picture of its magnitude in Ireland. Numerous ejections and the absolute necessity of going from place to place in search of work contributed largely to maintain it, and great multitudes who began their wanderings under the pressure of want soon acquired a taste for an idle, vagrant, and adventurous life. Work was scanty and intermittent. Its rewards were so miserably small that providence was almost useless and saving almost impossible. A spirit of humble charity was very widely diffused, and the poorer classes had been reduced to such a condition of squalor that food was almost their only want. Under these circumstances extreme idleness and wretched habits of mendicancy naturally spread. There were, Dobbs assures us, 2,295 parishes, and an average of at least ten vagrants begging in each the whole year round, and above thirty for three or four months in the summer. For the whole year he computes the number of strolling beggars at 34,000. The great increase during the summer he ascribes to the fact that in the mountainous parts of the country, great numbers who have houses and farms sufficient to maintain them, as soon as Edition: orig; Page: [274] they have sown their corn, planted their potatoes, and cut their turf, were accustomed either to hire out their cows, or to send them to the mountains, to shut their houses, and with their whole families to go begging till harvest time.1 Farmers as a speculation gave fixed sums to labourers for their chance of a summer's begging. Servants often quitted their service, and day labourers their work, giving as their reason that they could gain more by begging. Petty thieving, and the other forms of crime that always accompany this mode of life, inevitably increased, and there was one graver evil which we should hardly have expected. The strong domestic attachment which binds together the members of the poorest family has been for above a century a conspicuous feature of the Irish character; but Dobbs assures us that in his time beggars often mutilated or even blinded their children, in order, by making them objects of compassion, to increase their earnings; and that children who were quite able to support their parents often sent them abroad as vagrants when they became old, without giving them any more relief than they would give to common beggars.2 The prevailing idleness extended through both sexes. The custom of making the women do the severe field-work, while the men looked on in idleness, which scandalised every English traveller in Scotland, appears to have been unknown in Ireland. Women were, on the contrary, singularly exempt from those labours to which in a low state of civilisation they are usually condemned; but there were loud complaints that, except in the north, where Edition: orig; Page: [275] they were largely employed in the linen trade, they lived for the most part in perfect idleness.1

The great evil of strolling beggars in Ireland, as in Scotland, had assumed dimensions that made it very formidable to the State.2 Berkeley was so struck with it that he argued that all able-bodied vagrants should be compelled, as a warning to Edition: orig; Page: [276] others, to work in public and in chains.1 Archbishop King made praiseworthy efforts to alleviate it by founding almshouses, and by establishing in Dublin a system of giving badges to beggars, and forbidding them to beg out of their own parishes.2 Dobbs urged with much force the necessity of erecting workhouses, supported by local taxation, with stern, compulsory labour for the able-bodied, and schools for the children. A policy of this kind within certain restricted limits was actually pursued. The English poor law of Elizabeth was never applied to Ireland, and there was no general system for the relief of the destitute; but the Irish Parliament, as early as the reign of Charles I., had ordered that a house of correction should be built in every county for the punishment of ‘rogues, vagabonds, sturdy beggars, and other lewd and idle persons.’3 In 1703 an Act was carried, enjoining the erection of a workhouse in the city of Dublin, ‘for employing and maintaining the poor thereof,’ and the creation of a corporation with large local powers, not only of punishing vagabonds, but also of relieving the destitute within the city.4 Its members were enabled to arrest all idle vagrants and beggars found in the streets, to set them at work in the workhouse for a time not exceeding seven years, to take into their service all children above five years old who were found begging, to keep them till they were sixteen, and then to apprentice them to Protestants, the males till the age of twenty-four, the females to the age of twenty-one. A tax levied on hackney coaches and sedan chairs, and a rate of three-pence in the pound on every house in Dublin, were appropriated to the support of the institution, which in 1728 was so enlarged as to include a foundling hospital.5 By another measure carried in 1715, the minister and churchwardens of every parish in Ireland were enabled with the consent of a justice of the peace to give over any child they found begging, either as a menial or an apprentice for a term of years to any respectable Protestant Edition: orig; Page: [277] housekeeper or tradesman who would accept the task.1 In 1735 a workhouse and a corporation substantially similar to those of Dublin were established at Cork,2 and a very significant provision was made that the children of the Cork and Dublin workhouses might be exchanged, in order to prevent the possibility of Catholic parents interfering with the Protestant education of their children. In this, indeed, as in nearly all Irish matters, the determination to sap the religion of the Catholics was conspicuous. Poor parents whose children were taken from them by force to be educated as Protestants must have been often reduced to a wretchedness which no words can describe, and it was made a complaint to the Government that there was frequently ‘some collusion between the mothers and the people employed to find nurses in the parishes, the mothers contriving to get themselves accepted as nurses of their offspring.’ Sometimes the children were quite old enough to have confirmed religious convictions, and an eye-witness stated how, not unfrequently on Fridays or other fast-days, children ‘would not use the broth prepared with meat as it was, and it used to be poured down their throats against their will.’3 The long journey of 170 miles on clumsy carts between Dublin and Cork was fatal to multitudes of children, and the fixed determination of the Government, in the interest of religious proselytism, in the workhouses and foundling hospitals, as well as in the Charter Schools, to cut all ties of connection between parents and their children, was felt by the Catholics much more keenly than many of the measures against their faith which have obtained the largest place in Irish history.

It is probable that under the circumstances I have enumerated, the population of Ireland during the first half of the eighteenth century remained almost stationary. For many years after the great rebellion of 1641 the country had been extremely under-populated, and the prevailing habit of early and prolific marriages would naturally have led to very rapid Edition: orig; Page: [278] multiplication, but famine, disease, and emigration were as yet sufficient to counteract it. Unfortunately, our sources of information on this subject are very imperfect. No census was taken; our chief means of calculating are derived from the returns of the hearth-money collectors; and the number of cabins that were exempted from the tax, as well as the great difference in different parts of the country in the average occupants of a house, introduce a large element of uncertainty into our estimates. It appears, however, according to the best means of information we possess, that the population in the beginning of the century slightly exceeded two millions, and that it increased in fifty years by about 300,000.1 The proportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants is also a question of much difficulty. In the reign of Charles II. Petty had estimated it at eight to three. In a return based on the hearth-money collection, which was made to the Irish House of Lords in 1731, it was estimated at not quite two to one.2 It is probable, however, that the inequality was considerably understated. The great poverty of many of the Catholics, and the remote mountains and valleys in which they lived, withdrew them from the cognisance of the tax-gatherer; and Primate Boulter in 1727 expressed his belief that there were in Ireland at least five Papists to one Protestant.3 He adds a statement which, if it be unexaggerated, Edition: orig; Page: [279] furnishes an extraordinary example of the superiority of Catholic zeal in the midst of the penal laws, and at a time when Protestantism enjoyed all the advantages of an almost universal monopoly. He says, ‘We have incumbents and curates to the number of about 800, whilst there are more than 3,000 Popish priests of all sorts here.’1

Of the many depressing influences I have noticed in the foregoing pages, there is, perhaps, no one that may not be paralleled or exceeded in the annals of other countries; but it would be difficult, in the whole compass of history, to find another instance in which such various and such powerful agencies concurred to degrade the character and to blast the prosperity of a nation. That the greater part of them sprang directly from the corrupt and selfish government of England is incontestable. No country ever exercised a more complete control over the destinies of another than did England over those of Ireland for three-quarters of a century after the Revolution. No serious resistance of any kind was attempted. The nation was as passive as clay in the hands of the potter, and it is a circumstance of peculiar aggravation that a large part of the legislation I have recounted was a distinct violation of a solemn treaty. The commercial legislation which ruined Irish industry, the confiscation of Irish land, which disorganised the whole social condition of the country, the scandalous misapplication of patronage, which at once demoralised and impoverished the nation, were all directly due to the English Government and the English Parliament. The blame of the atrocious penal laws rests, it is true, primarily and principally on the Parliament of Ireland; but it must not be forgotten that this Parliament, by its constitution and composition, was almost wholly subservient to English influence, and that it was the English Act of 1691 which, by Edition: orig; Page: [280] banishing Catholics from its walls, rendered it exclusively sectarian. There are, however, other circumstances to be taken into account, which will considerably relieve the picture. Whoever desires to judge the policy of England without passion or prejudice will remember that Ireland was a conquered country, and that the war of the Revolution was only the last episode of a struggle which had continued for centuries, had been disgraced on both sides by revolting atrocities, and had engendered the most ferocious antipathies. He will remember that the bulk of the Irish people were Catholics, and that over the greater part of Europe the relations of Protestantism and Catholicism were still those of deadly hostility. He will remember that from a much earlier period than the Revolution it had become a settled maxim in England that Ireland was the most convenient outlet for English adventurers, and that Irish land might be confiscated without much more scruple than the land over which the Red Indian roves. The precedents were set by Mary, Elizabeth, and James I. The confiscations after the Revolution appeared to most English minds the normal result of conquest, and when this one step was taken, most of the other results inevitably followed. Above all, it must be remembered that the policy of a nation can only be equitably judged by a constant reference to the moral standard of the age, and that it is equally absurd and unjust to measure the actions of statesmen in one stage of civilization by the rules of conduct prevailing in another. The more the history of bygone centuries is examined, the more evident it will appear that an intense class and national egotism then dominated all politics; that in the scheme and theory of government which under many external forms was almost universally accepted, the interests of the masses were habitually sacrificed to those of the ruling class, and the interests of the subordinate parts of an empire to those of the centre. This was not peculiarly English: it was true, to perhaps an equal extent, of every considerable power on the Continent.

These considerations will somewhat mitigate the judgment Edition: orig; Page: [281] which a candid reader will pass upon the history of Ireland. They do not, however, affect the fact that a long train of causes of irresistible power were crushing both the moral and material energies of the country. One of the most obvious consequences was that for the space of about a century she underwent a steady process of depletion, most men of energy, ambition, talent, and character being driven from her shores. The movement, it is true, was by no means new, for long before the English power had crossed the Channel, Irish talent and Irish energy had shown a remarkable tendency to seek a sphere for action on the Continent. From about the middle of the sixth till near the close of the eighth century, Irishmen had borne a part second to that of no other European nation in the great work of evangelising Europe. ‘From Ireland,’ in the words of St. Bernard, ‘as from an overflowing stream, crowds of holy men descended upon foreign countries.’ The fame of St. Columbanus in Gaul and in Italy almost rivalled that of St. Benedict himself. The Irishman St. Kilian was the apostle of Franconia. The Irishman St. Gall converted a large part of what is now Switzerland. Nearly all the North of England, and a great part of Scotland, owe their Christianity to a long succession of Irish monks, who issued from the cloisters of Iona and Lindisfarne, and, in the words of a great antiquary, ‘there is scarcely an island on the west side of Scotland which does not acknowledge an Irishman as the founder of its church.’1 Obscure Irish missionaries traversed the greater part of Gaul, of Germany, and of northern Italy, and they are said even to have penetrated as far as Iceland. Among many less illustrious establishments, Irishmen founded important monasteries at Luxeuil in Burgundy, at Bobbio and Pavia in Italy, at Wurtzburg in Franconia, at St. Gall in Switzerland, at Regensburg on the Danube. In the eighth century the Irishman St. Virgilius taught the existence of the antipodes, at Salzburg. In the ninth century, the Irishman Scotus Erigena Edition: orig; Page: [282] founded a rationalistic philosophy in France. After the religious convulsions of the sixteenth century, and the great disasters to Ireland which followed, a new train of causes came into action which drew a large proportion of able and energetic Irishmen to the Continent. Thus Luke Wadding, the one great scholar of the Irish Franciscans, and the historian of the order, lived chiefly in Rome, where he founded an Irish college, and died in 1657. Colgan, one of the most remarkable of early Irish antiquaries, and the collector of the Lives of the Irish Saints, though a native of Donegal, was professor at Louvain, where he died in 1658. O'Daly, an Irish monk, born in Kerry, founded an Irish convent at Lisbon, represented Portugal at the court of Lewis XIV., refused two bishoprics, and died Vicar-General of Portugal in 1662. Many Irish passed into foreign service after the suppression of the rebellion of Tyrone,1 and Spenser has recorded in a remarkable passage the high repute that Irish soldiers had already acquired on the Continent.2 Their number was greatly increased by the emigration that followed the confiscations under James I.,3 and I have already noticed how Petty estimates at no less than 40,000 the number of Irishmen who enrolled themselves in foreign armies, after the desolation of their country by Cromwell.4

All this took place long before the Revolution. But the changes that followed that event made the movement of emigration still more formidable. It would be difficult indeed to conceive a national condition less favourable than that of Ireland to a man of energy and ambition. If he were a Catholic he found himself excluded by his creed from every position of trust and power, and from almost every means of acquiring Edition: orig; Page: [283] wealth, degraded by a social stigma, deprived of every vestige of political weight. If he were a Presbyterian, he was subject to the disabilities of the Test Act. If he were a member of the Established Church, he was even then compelled to see all the highest posts in Church and State monopolised by Englishmen. If he were a landlord, he found himself in a country where the law had produced such a social state that his position as a resident was nearly intolerable. If his ambition lay in the paths of manufacture or commerce, he was almost compelled to emigrate, for industrial and commercial enterprise had been deliberately crushed.

The result was that a steady tide of emigration set in, carrying away all those classes who were most essential to the development of the nation. The landlords found the attractions of London and Bath irresistible. The manufacturers and the large class of energetic labourers who lived upon manufacturing industry were scattered far and wide. Some of them passed to England and Scotland. Great numbers found a home in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and they were the founders of the linen manufacture in New England.1 Others, again, went to strengthen the enemies of England. Lewis XIV. was in general bitterly intolerant to Protestants, but he warmly welcomed, encouraged, and protected in their worship, Protestant manufacturers from Ireland who brought their industry to Rouen and other cities of France.2 Many others took refuge in the Protestant States of Germany, while Catholic manufacturers settled in the northern provinces of Spain and laid the foundation of an industry which was believed to be very detrimental to England.3

The Protestant emigration, which began with the destruction of the woollen manufacture, continued during many years with unabated and even accelerating rapidity. At the time of the Revolution, when great portions of the country lay waste and when the whole framework of society was shattered, much Edition: orig; Page: [284] Irish land had been let on lease at very low rents to English, and especially to Scotch Protestants. About 1717 and 1718 these leases began to fall in. Rents were usually doubled, and often trebled. The smaller farms were generally put up to competition, and the Catholics, who were accustomed to live in the most squalid misery and to forego all the comforts of life, very naturally outbid the Protestants.1 This fact, added to the total destruction of the main industries on which the Protestant population subsisted, to the disabilities to which the nonconformists were subject on account of their religion, and to the growing tendency to throw land into pasture, produced a great social revolution, the effects of which have never been repaired. For nearly three-quarters of a century the drain of the energetic Protestant population continued, and their places, when occupied at all, were occupied by a Catholic cottier population, sunk in the lowest depths of ignorance and poverty. All the miserable scenes of wholesale ejections, of the disruption of family ties, of the forced exile of men who were passionately attached to their country were enacted.2 Carteret, in 1728, vainly deplored the great evil that was thus inflicted on the English interest in Ireland, and urged the Presbyterian ministers to employ their influence to abate it.3 Madden ten years later echoed the same complaint and declared that at least one-third of those who went to the West Indies perished either on the journey or by diseases caught in the first weeks of landing.4 The famine of 1740 and 1741 Edition: orig; Page: [285] gave an immense impulse to the movement, and it is said that for several years the Protestant emigrants from Ulster annually amounted to about 12,000.1 More than thirty years later, Arthur Young found the stream still flowing, and he mentioned that in 1773, 4,000 emigrants had sailed from Belfast alone.2 Many ignorant and credulous passed into the hands of designing agents, were inveigled into servitude or shipped by false pretences, or even with violence to the most pestilential climates.3 Many went to the West Indies,4 and many others to the American colonies. They went with hearts burning with indignation, and in the War of Independence they were almost to a man on the side of the insurgents. They supplied some of the best soldiers of Washington. The famous Pennsylvanian line was mainly Irish, and Montgomery, Edition: orig; Page: [286] who, having distinguished himself highly at the capture of Quebec, became one of the earliest of the American commanders in the War of Independence, was a native of Donegal.1

In the meantime the Catholics who retained any energy or ambition as well as great numbers who were simply ejected from their homes, enrolled themselves in multitudes in foreign service. The 14,000 men who surrendered at Limerick and who passed at once by the treaty into French service, formed a nucleus, and the Irish who fought under the white flag may be reckoned by tens of thousands.2 Spain had for a long time five Irish regiments in her service, and as late as 1760 we find one in the service of Naples.3 The Austrian army was crowded with Irish soldiers and officers,4 and there was scarcely a siege or a battle between the Revolution and the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in which Irish troops did not take part. At Fontenoy they formed a large part of the column whose final charge broke the ranks of the English. When Cremona was surprised by Eugene, the Irish troops first arrested the progress of the Imperialists, and to their stubborn resistance the salvation of the town was mainly due. When the Germans had surprised the Spaniards at Melazzo in Sicily, the Irish troops in the Spanish service turned the scale of victory in favour of their side. In the great battle of Almanza the denationalising influence of religious persecution was strangely shown. An English general commanded the French troops and a French general the English. A regiment of Huguenot refugees, under Edition: orig; Page: [287] the command of Cavalier, the heroic leader of the Cevennes, were the very foremost soldiers in the army of England, while the Irish troops of Berwick and O'Mahony contributed their full share to its defeat. Sarsfield having taken part in the glories of Steinkirk, closed his heroic career in the arms of victory at Landen. Irish troops shared the disasters of the French at Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet. They fought with Vendome at Luzzara, Cassano, and Calcinato, at Friedlingen and Spires, in the campaign of Catinat in Piedmont, in the campaigns of Berwick in Flanders and in Spain.

It is in these quarters that the real history of the Irish Catholics during the first half of the eighteenth century is to be traced. At home they had sunk into torpid and degraded pariahs. Abroad there was hardly a Catholic country where Irish exiles or their children might not be found in posts of dignity and power. Lord Clare became Marshal of France. Browne, who was one of the very ablest Austrian generals, and who took a leading part in the first period of the Seven Years' War, was the son of Irish parents; and Maguire, Lacy, Nugent, and O'Donnell were all prominent generals in the Austrian service during the same war. Another Browne, a cousin of the Austrian commander, was Field-Marshal in the Russian service and Governor of Riga. Peter Lacy, who also became a Russian Field-Marshal, and who earned the reputation of one of the first soldiers of his time, was of Irish birth. He enlisted as a mere boy in the army of James, left Ireland at the time of the Treaty of Limerick, was compelled to quit the French army on the reduction of the forces which followed the Peace of Ryswick, and having entered the service of Russia, he took a leading part in organising the army of Peter the Great, and served with brilliant distinction for the space of half a century in every Russian campaign against the Swedes, the Poles, and the Turks. He sprang from an Irish family which had the rare fortune of counting generals in the services both of Austria, Russia, and Spain. Of the Dillons, more than one obtained high rank in the French army, and one became Archbishop of Toulouse. The brave, the Edition: orig; Page: [288] impetuous Lally of Tollendal, who served with such distinction at Dettingen and Fontenoy, and who for a time seriously threatened the English power in Hindostan, was son of a Galway gentleman, and member of an old Milesian family. It is a curious fact that Sir Eyre Coote, his opponent and conqueror in India, was an Irish Protestant. Among Spanish generals the names of O'Mahony, O'Donnell, O'Gara, O'Reilly, and O'Neil sufficiently attest their nationality, and an Irish Jacobite named Cammock was conspicuous among the admirals of Alberoni. Wall, who directed the government of Spain with singular ability from 1754 to 1763, was an Irishman, if not by birth, at least by parentage. MacGeoghegan, the first considerable historian of Ireland, was chaplain of the Irish Brigade in the service of France. The physician of Sobieski, King of Poland, and the physician of Philip V. of Spain were both Irish, and an Irish naturalist, named Bowles, was active in reviving the mining industry of Spain in 1752. In the diplomacy of the Continent Irish names are not unknown. Tyrconnel was French Ambassador at the Court of Berlin. Wall, before he became chief minister of Spain, had represented that country at the Court of London. Lacy was Spanish Ambassador at Stockholm, and O'Mahony at Vienna.1

These examples might easily be increased, but they are quite sufficient to show how large a proportion of the energy and ability of Ireland was employed in foreign lands and how ruinous must Edition: orig; Page: [289] have been the consequences at home. If, as there appears much reason to believe, there is such a thing as a hereditary transmission of moral and intellectual qualities, the removal from a nation of tens of thousands of the ablest and most energetic of its citizens must inevitably, by a mere physical law, result in the degradation of the race. Nor is it necessary to fall back upon any speculations of disputed science. In every community there exists a small minority of men whose abilities, high purpose, and energy of will, mark them out as in some degree leaders of men. These take the first steps in every public enterprise, counteract by their example the vicious elements of the population, set the current and form the standard of public opinion, and infuse a healthy moral vigour into their nation. In Ireland for three or four generations such men were steadily weeded out. Can we wonder that the standard of public morals and of public spirit should have declined?

But not only were the healthiest elements driven away: corrupting influences of the most powerful kind infected those who remained. It is extremely difficult in our day to realise the moral conditions of a society in which it was the very first object of the law to subvert the belief of the great majority of the people, to break down among them the sentiment of religious reverence, and in every possible way to repress, injure, and insult all that they regarded as sacred. I have already described the principal provisions of the penal code. I have given examples of the language employed on the most solemn occasions and in their official capacities, by viceroys and by judges; but it is only by a minute and detailed examination that we can adequately realise the operation of the system. In all the walks and circumstances of life the illegal character of the faith of the people was obtruded. If a Catholic committed a crime, no matter how unconnected with his creed, the fact that he was of the Popish religion was usually recorded ostentatiously in the proclamation against him. If a petitioner could possibly allege it, his Protestantism was seldom omitted in the enumeration of his merits. A Catholic, or even the husband of a Catholic, was degraded in his own country by exclusion from every position Edition: orig; Page: [290] of trust from the highest to the lowest, while Frenchmen and Germans were largely pensioned, avowedly in order to strengthen the Protestant interest. The form of recantation drawn up for those who consented to join the Established Church was studiously offensive, for it compelled the convert to brand his former faith as ‘the way of damnation.’1 In the eyes of the law the prelates and friars, whom the Catholic regarded with the deepest reverence, the priest, who without having taken the abjuration oath celebrated the worship which he believed to be essential to his salvation, the schoolmaster who, discharging a duty of the first utility, taught his children the rudiments of knowledge, were all felons, for whose apprehension a reward was offered, and who only remained in the country by connivance or concealment.

Their actual condition varied greatly at different times and in different counties. Some bishops lived chiefly on the Continent, and only ventured from time to time to come to Ireland. Others lived under assumed names, in some obscure farm-house among the mountains.2 At ordinations several hands were laid at the same moment on the head of the candidate, in order that if examined in the law courts he might be ignorant of the person who ordained him.3 Sometimes, too, at mass a curtain, for the same reason, was drawn between the priest and the worshippers.4 The priests, after the imposition of the abjuration oath, were at the mercy of the Government, for most of them had accepted the system of registration. Their names and addresses were known, and they were now called upon to take a new oath, which their Church pronounced to be sinful. The recusants were obliged to fly from their homes and conceal themselves. In many districts the Catholic worship for a time ceased, and many of the clergy abandoned their country and took refuge in Portugal. The persecution, Edition: orig; Page: [291] however, was soon suspended; but the position of the priests remained completely precarious. The last Tory ministry of Anne was accused of being favourable to them, and it was alleged that many at this time came over in hope of a restoration, but in 1711 a proclamation was issued for the rigid execution of the laws against Papists.1 In January 1712 the Tory Chancellor, Sir Constantine Phipps, in a speech to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of Dublin, strongly urged upon them the duty of ‘preventing public mass being said, contrary to law, by priests not registered, and that will not take the abjuration oath;’ and he complained that the negligence of the Corporation in enforcing the law had produced great licence throughout the kingdom.2

In the correspondence of the Government at this time we have many curious glimpses of the condition of the Church, and of the actual working of the law. Thus, on the proclamation for putting the laws against Popish priests and dignitaries into force, coming down to Armagh, in the beginning of the October of 1712, it was at once reported to Walter Dawson, a cousin of the secretary at the Castle, that there was in the neighbourhood a Popish Dean of Armagh. He proved to be an old bed-ridden man of ninety, long since sunk into idiocy, fed like a child, and living by charity. The old man was carried off to gaol, but the brother of his captor wrote to the Government, remonstrating at the inhumanity of the proceeding, and urging that it could not fail to bring serious discredit upon the law. A few months later we learn the sequel of the story in a letter from Walter Dawson to his cousin at the Castle, stating that in pursuance of the proclamation he had arrested Brien M'Guirk, Popish titular Dean of Armagh, that he had obtained witnesses against him, but that on February 13, before the Assizes had begun, his prisoner died in gaol, and Dawson hoped that this mischance will not deprive him of the reward of 50l. which he would have obtained on conviction.1 Edition: orig; Page: [292] In the county of Sligo, at the same time, many Papists were compelled to answer on oath, when, where, and from whom they last heard mass, and whether they knew of any Catholic bishops, friars, or schools. It appears from their answers that they had heard mass from different registered but nonjuring priests, and that they were ignorant of the existence of any Catholic schools. One deponent, however, stated that a certain MacDermott was Bishop of Elphin, and one Rourke, of Killala, that the former lived somewhere in Roscommon, that the deponent had heard mass in Donegal, celebrated by friars, and that he believed there were several other friars in that county, though he did not know their address.2 In the September of 1712 a constable named Freeny informed the magistrates of the county Roscommon that during the last seven or eight months great multitudes of friars had appeared in the county, begging through the villages, and that it was a common discourse among the inhabitants that the old abbeys would soon be rebuilt, and the monks restored.3 In the preceding year a magistrate at Listowell, in the county of Kerry, gave the Government a curious picture of one of these itinerant friars. A man named Bourke, a native of Connaught, appeared in Kerry, ‘barefoot, bareheaded, and a staff in his hand, exhorting the common people to forsake their vices and lead a godly life. He had a catechism, which he read and pretended to expound to the people in Irish. … At the end of a discourse he usually set up a cry, very common in Connaught (as I am told), after which he would scourge himself until the blood ran down his back.’ The magistrate, hearing that he was followed by multitudes, and believed by the common people to work miracles, sent to apprehend him; but he succeeded in escaping, and was afterwards heard of, preaching to as many as 2,000 or 3,000 persons in the county of Limerick. As far as the magistrate was able to learn, he had no objects except the promotion of piety.4

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A priest-hunter, named Edward Tyrrell—pronounced by the chancellor to be ‘a great rogue’—now appears frequently in the Government correspondence. In October 1712 he drew up some injunctions in Dublin against priests, boasted that he had taken many, but complained of the remissness and ill-will of the magistrates. He had seen the Popish primate, MacMahon, in Flanders, and believed him to be at this time in Ireland. At Cork two nonjuring priests, Patrick Carthy and William Henessey, had, upon the information of Tyrrell, been in the same year convicted and transported. In November 1712 he accompanied the magistrates of Ferbane, in search of priests, through a very wild and uninhabited country, to a house belonging to a Mr. John Coghlan, ‘in a most retired place, far distant from any high road;’ but though they found in the house a great number of beds and books and large quantities of provision, they found no human being except some women. From Clonmel, Tyrrell writes that he had ‘been disappointed in serving the Government in the county Wexford, by the ill management of some of the justices of the peace there,’ but that he hoped, if the Government would send down assistance, to be more successful at Clonmel. He had been present in the mass-house when Thomas Ennis, who was believed to be a bishop, celebrated high mass before a vast congregation, and had seen the people kiss his hand and also the ground on which he trod. Another priest, calling himself Burke, but whose real name was Salt, had, he believed, taken on himself the title of bishop.1 The career of this active priest-hunter was, however, prematurely shortened, for a paragraph in a Dublin newspaper of May 1713 announces that ‘this day Terrel, the famous priest-catcher, who was condemned this term for having several wives, was executed.’2

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A magistrate, writing from Melford, in the county of Galway, in September 1712, announced that he had succeeded, with great difficulty, in apprehending and committing to Galway Gaol Father Neal Boyle. ‘Great numbers,’ he adds, ‘of the Irish, from all parts of the country, flocked to see him, and would even fain have bailed him.’ Some persons offered to lodge as much as 1,000l. as security for him.1 ‘I can make nothing,’ wrote another magistrate, from another part of the same county, ‘of this matter of the priests … they still abscond and keep out of the way, notwithstanding our utmost endeavours to bring them in. I am certain that they do not say mass in their usual place.’2 In the county of Down great efforts were made to seize James Hannal, who was looked upon ‘as the most dangerous priest in all the county.’ On the very night when the proclamation came down he disappeared, but in searching his room they found among his papers one summoning authoritatively several priests to meet him, under pain of excommunication; thus proving that he exercised jurisdiction. The magistrate believed him to be not a bishop, but a vicar-general. Rather more than three months later the same magistrate writes that Hannal had been at last arrested. ‘The Papists in this country are very much alarmed and disturbed at his being taken, and so exasperated at the man who took him that I have been obliged to give him arms to defend his house from their insults … The sub-sheriff has been with me since the priest's confinement, and told me that he had clapped a new arrest upon him for marrying a couple of our Church clandestinely, which crime I leave to the Government to consider whether it be bailable.’3 Captain Hedges writes at the same time, from Macroom, in the county Cork, that he had arrested the priest of the parish, and sent him to Cork Gaol, on his refusing to take the abjuration oath. ‘His name,’ writes the magistrate, ‘is Donagh Sweeney, a doctor of the Sorbonne, registered for this Edition: orig; Page: [295] parish. I had him to Cork, in my Lord Wharton's time, when at an assizes he refused to take the oath, and was bailed in court by the judges, as many others were. Whether he be a dignitary, or it be on account of his being a doctor, the other priests used to pay him reverence above his fellows, and about half a year ago, after the death of a priest eight miles from hence, he sent, as I was informed, a young fellow as curate of the parish … but on my making search for him, he fled out of the kingdom, and was drowned on his passage. Another attempted to get up there since, but found the quarters not safe for him, and is gone.’ Dr. Sweeney desired the magistrate to testify to ‘his peaceable behaviour and civil carriage,’ and to implore the Government to accept bail. ‘Being old, feeble, and poor,’ writes Captain Hedges, ‘he fears he shall soon die in gaol, if he be detained there; and if he come out he will say mass, so that I mean not to make any request for him.’1 The high sheriff of the county Longford writes that at the last assizes in the county two men, named Patrick Ferall and John Lennan, were convicted of being Popish schoolmasters, and sentenced to transportation. He begs that the secretary will ‘let the Government know that there are two such men in the gaol of Longford, under the rule of transportation,’ and hopes they will speedily send over the order for the execution of the sentence, the prisoners being a charge upon the county.2

It is only by collecting a number of these isolated cases that it is possible to give a true and at the same time a vivid picture of the actual condition of the Catholics under the penal laws. The subject has been disfigured on both sides by much exaggeration; and as I am desirous that my readers should be able, as far as possible, to form their own judgments, I shall make no apology for relating a few more cases, which, however insignificant in themselves, will conduce to that end.

The year 1714, when the new dynasty came into power, and Edition: orig; Page: [296] the year 1715, when rebellion was raging in Scotland, were naturally troubled years for the Catholics, and in the former a proclamation was issued for putting the laws strictly in force, and the mayors and sheriffs all over Ireland were required to send in reports about the prisoners under the Acts, in their gaols, and about the degree in which the law was observed. Very many of these reports are preserved, and they show that in most cases the priests succeeded in evading the vigilance of the magistrates, but also that the law was very far from a dead letter. Thus the high sheriff of Dublin reports that there are in the gaols of that county, ‘under sentence of transportation, two Popish schoolmasters, and no more.’1 From Lismore, the chief magistrate writes that he and his colleague had been making strenuous efforts to enforce the Acts, had summoned many Papists in each parish, had obliged them to swear when and where they last heard mass, but had been quite unable to arrest the priests. The absconding priest of his own parish was said to ordain, but as the magistrate was unable to get sworn information, he feared he could only prosecute him as a common priest.2 The sheriff of Limerick reports that one unregistered priest had been found guilty in his county, and had been in the gaol since the assizes of the previous year.3 The Mayor of Cork regrets that, though the magistrates there had frequently had information against priests, they never could take any since those who were convicted by the evidence of Tyrrell. For three weeks past they heard that all mass-houses in the city and suburbs were closed, and no priest appears.4 The Mayor of Carrickfergus believed that there was ‘no Popish priest inhabiting in that county.’5 At Kilkenny, one Martin Archer, a Popish priest, had been convicted of officiating without taking the abjuration oath, and had been sent to Waterford Edition: orig; Page: [297] for transportation.1 The Mayor of Galway reports that two priests, named Alexander Lynch and Thomas M'Dermot Roe, had been convicted, and had been transported. There remains now only ‘James French, a regular Popish clergyman, who has lain a long time in gaol, being committed for high treason for returning from beyond seas after being transported; he could not hitherto be tried here, for want of a Protestant jury of freeholders, who are thin in this place.’2 In Dundalk, in Londonderry, in the county of Kerry, the gaols at this time contained no criminal under the Popery Acts. In the county of Leitrim no less than thirty-one priests and three Popish schoolmasters were presented by the grand jury, but the attempts to arrest them were unsuccessful. ‘It is very difficult,’ writes the high sheriff, ‘the much greater part of this county being Papist, to take priests or other ecclesiastical persons, and the few Protestants in it are afraid of meddling with them.’3

A similar difficulty, arising from the same cause, was found in many other quarters. Thus in Sligo, though the magistrates were active in putting the law in force against the priests, none of them were in gaol. ‘The Papists are so numerous in this county, that without the assistance of the army there is no good to be done.’4 A magistrate writes from Castlemaine, in the county Kerry, complaining to the Government that his district being wild, mountainous, and purely Popish, many priests live there with impunity, and that though the magistrates signed warrants for their apprehension, it was found impossible to execute them.5 In Kinsale one unregistered priest was arrested; ‘he is a drunken fellow, and was very favourable to the Protestants in King James's time,’ and he was commonly called King William's priest. ‘He had been twice sent to Cork Gaol, but came back like a bad penny.’6 A letter from Kinsale, about seven months later, probably alludes Edition: orig; Page: [298] to the same person, when it states that the priest ‘who for many years officiated in this town is now in the gaol of Cork, under conviction, and has lain there for some months, as I am informed, afflicted with sickness.’1 In the King's county, although the magistrates had been for two years doing all in their power to arrest non-juror or unregistered priests, although several bills had been found by the grand jury, and several persons had been bound over to prosecute, they had only been able to procure the conviction of one priest. Two others were on bail, the magistrates having received affidavits that they were too ill to attend. Others, they were informed, still officiated, in spite of the warrants against them, and threats of violence against those who molested priests were not uncommon.2 In Kildare the magistrates had issued warrants against several priests and schoolmasters. They had all absconded, but every effort was being made to take them. A priest named James Eustace, under the sentence of transportation, had, however, been lying for several months in the gaol. The order for his transportation had not yet come down, and in the meantime he was kept in ‘close confinement.’3 In the county of Wicklow a priest, named M'Tee, had been convicted last summer of saying mass, and sentenced to transportation. The warrant for the execution of the sentence had come down, but for want of shipping in the port of Wicklow it was still unexecuted.4 The high sheriff gives an animated description of his efforts to suppress the devotions of the Papists at the shrine of St. Kevin, near the lovely shores of Glendalough. He had been informed that on St. Kevin's day the Catholics had ‘designed to convene a riotous assembly, from all parts of the kingdom, at the seven churches, contrary to Act of Parliament, in order to pay a superstitious worship to St. Kevin.’ The Popish assembly, though in legal phrase a ‘riotous’ one, appears to have been as harmless as possible, and intended for Edition: orig; Page: [299] no other purpose than that of devotion, but it was resolved to suppress it. A posse comitatus was raised, and several of the magistrates, ‘being accompanied with a great number of Protestants, inhabitants of the said county, well mounted (but very badly armed), rode all night, and met at the seven churches by four in the morning of the 3rd of June inst., the usual anniversary day for that purpose. On approach of our forces the rioters immediately dispersed. We pulled down their tents, threw down and demolished their superstitious crosses, filled up and destroyed their wells, and apprehended and committed one Toole, a Popish schoolmaster.’ ‘The Protestant inhabitants of this county,’ adds the high sheriff, ‘are unanimous in their inclinations and resolutions, and will exert themselves with all diligence and zeal for His Majesty's service in putting all the laws in every respect strictly in force against the Papists.’1

The reports of 1714, coming in regularly from all parts of the kingdom, enable us to form a tolerably complete picture of the position of the Catholics at this time. But for many succeeding years no such reports were exacted, and we are reduced for our information on the subject to a few casual notices in the correspondence of the time. Thus, for example, in 1716 we find a man named Porter, writing from the county of Cork, asking for a pension from the Government, on the ground of ‘his diligence and care in prosecuting many of the regular and secular Popish clergy who have presumed to come from foreign nations into several parts of this kingdom, particularly those who have been sheltered in the county of Cork.’ He mentions especially that in the last August ‘he apprehended, at the peril of his life, and brought to justice two Popish priests … for saying mass, not registered, who obstinately refused to take the oaths, as likewise Owen McCarthy, a schoolmaster, who taught a school contrary to law,’ all of whom were convicted before Chief-Justice Foster. He dilates on the danger he incurred from Popish mobs, and upon his refusal of Popish bribes, and two years later he petitions for Edition: orig; Page: [300] the reward due to him for the conviction of another priest.1 A certain Brody, convicted of being a Popish friar, had been transported. He returned to Ireland, and in 1717 the grand jury of Clare presented him as guilty of high treason, and offered a reward to anyone who would bring him ‘to condign punishment.’2 A man named Garzia, who is said to have been a priest either in Spain or in Portugal, but who now called himself a Protestant, was very active about 1720 in priest-hunting. Several priests were convicted upon his testimony, and he received some reward from the Government, and liberty to lodge in the Castle of Dublin to protect him from the insults of the Papists.3 In 1723, Carteret, being the Lord-Lieutenant, writes to the Lords Justices that the King of Spain had made, through his ambassador, an application in favour of an Augustinian monk named Comin, who had been lying ‘for some months in Wexford Gaol,’ ‘being under the rule of transportation.’ Carteret suggests that he should be permitted to transport himself to Spain.4 James Tankard was indicted in 1724 ‘for that he, being a Papist, kept a public school, and instructed youth without having taken the oaths pursuant to the statute.’ He confessed his crime and was ordered to be transported.5

About this time many monks came over to Ireland, and ventured secretly to establish small communities in different towns. In 1721 the Dominicans had thus settled in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Cashel, Drogheda, Sligo, and Galway, and also in some country districts,6 and in 1727 a Protestant writer complains that the laws were in this respect so imperfectly executed that many such Edition: orig; Page: [301] establishments were known to exist in the country. He mentions especially ‘a famous convent in Channel Row, Dublin, where the most celebrated Italian musicians help to make the voices of the holy Sisters more melodious, and many Protestant fine gentlemen have been invited to take their places in a convenient gallery to hear the performance.’1 In 1730 John Waldron made an affidavit that about twelve or thirteen years before, Timothy Sullivan, a reputed Papist, kept a school in Dublin, which the informant had attended, that Sullivan had also committed the crime of converting two students of Trinity College to Popery, that he had been tried, committed to prison, and ultimately transported, but that he had returned to Ireland and was now under another name teaching a school in a little town in the county Limerick.2

Towards the first quarter of the eighteenth century the spirit of persecution, as shown by the resolutions and other acts of the House of Commons, seems to have been very intense, but it soon after began to subside. Persecution can hardly be really stringent when met by the passive resistance of the great majority of a nation. The priests, with great courage, continued to defy the law. Many mass houses were built when the system of registration began; they continued to be employed though the officiating clergymen had never taken the oath of abjuration, and new ones, though usually of a very humble and unobtrusive description, were rising. Much depended on the character of the landlords, on the disposition of the neighbouring magistrates, and on the proportion the Catholics bore to the Protestants. Priests were nearly everywhere numerous, but in many districts the mass was still celebrated in some old barn or secluded hovel. Sometimes it was celebrated in the fields or on the mountains. A moveable altar was placed under the shadow of a great tree, and there the priest gathered the worshippers about him, and distributed Edition: orig; Page: [302] to them the sacred elements.1 At the instigation of Primate Boulter, who was a bitter enemy of the Catholics, the House of Lords, in 1732, appointed a committee to inquire into the state of Popery in Ireland; and a report, based upon evidence sent in by the Protestant clergy in each district, was drawn up. It stated that there existed in Ireland 892 regular mass-houses, and 54 private chapels, served by 1,445 priests, that there were 51 friaries containing in all 254 friars, that there were 9 nunneries and not less than 549 Popish schools. Of the mass-houses 229 had been built since the death of George I. The Papists, it was added, attended their mass-houses as openly as the Protestants their churches, but the regulars lived in more concealment.2 It is probable that this report, being derived exclusively from a hostile clergy, rests largely on conjecture, but there is no doubt that a great organisation existed in defiance of law. O'Gallagher, Roman Catholic bishop of Raphoe, ventured in 1735 to publish seventeen Irish sermons at Dublin. Fagan, the Catholic Archbishop, resided in that city unmolested for many years. Bernard Macmahon, the Roman Catholic Primate, lived, from 1738 to 1749, under the name of Mr. Ennis, in a farmhouse in the county Meath.3

At the close of 1743 and the beginning of 1744 there were new apprehensions of a French invasion, which produced new severities against the Catholics. A proclamation was issued offering large rewards for the capture of Popish dignitaries, priests, and friars, and for the conviction of anyone giving refuge to a Popish bishop. The mass-houses in many quarters were closed, the monks were compelled to take flight, and the magistrates were directed by the Government to send in new reports about the number and position of the priests within their districts. I shall not trouble my readers with a detailed examination of these reports, but it may not be uninteresting to notice Edition: orig; Page: [303] that there were still some districts in which Catholicism had scarcely obtained a footing. Thus the Provost of Bandon writes that ‘no priest or Papist was ever, since the late King James his reign, suffered to reside within this town. The inhabitants are all Protestants, and by our corporation laws no others can live among us.’1 In 1749, when Wesley visited the town, it was still exclusively Protestant, and it is a rather singular fact that it was one of the few towns in Ireland in which he encountered some vehement opposition.2 From Belturbet the mayor wrote, ‘We of this corporation have not one Popish family in our liberties.’3 In Carrickfergus there was still no resident priest, and there were only about thirty Popish families, ‘generally very poor.’4 In Coleraine and the adjoining districts one priest with his curate officiated over four parishes, ‘in the fields, there being no mass-houses in any of those places.5 In Middleton, in the Popish county of Cork, ‘no mass-house has been suffered.’6 As late as 1762, when Wesley visited Enniskillen, it was the boast of the citizens that their town did not contain a single Papist.7 In 1769, however, when he again visited it, he found that it had ‘lost its glorying, having now at least five Papists to one Protestant.’8

After 1744 the condition of the Catholics greatly improved. Chesterfield, during his brilliant vice-royalty, strongly discouraged all attempts to interfere with their worship, though he believed it possible to subvert their religion by the charter schools, and by the Gavel Act. He was accustomed to say that Ireland had much more to fear from her poverty than from her Popery, and that Miss Ambrose, who was then the reigning beauty in Dublin society, was the only really Edition: orig; Page: [304] ‘dangerous Papist’ he had encountered. He refused, during the rebellion, to listen to those who counselled him to close the chapels, and to take coercive measures against the priests; and the Catholics being left in peace remained perfectly tranquil at a time when both England and Scotland were convulsed by civil war.1 The complete absence of Irish Catholic sedition during this critical period, the downfall of the Jacobite cause at Culloden, and the growing spirit of toleration among all classes led slowly to religious liberty. A terrible tragedy which took place in Dublin had some influence in accelerating it. A priest named Fitzgerald was celebrating mass before a large congregation in the upper room of an old house, when the floor gave way, the priest and nine members of his congregation were crushed to death, and several others were mortally wounded.2 From this time mass-houses, though without any regular legal sanction, appear to have been freely permitted, and religious worship was celebrated without fear. We have some valuable illustrations of the internal condition of the Catholic Church in Ireland in the middle of the century in the minutes of an examination, by the Government, of Nicholas Sweetman, the Catholic Bishop of Ferns, in 1751 or 1752. There were, he said, twenty-four bishops and archbishops in Ireland. There were a few foundations for students, and meat, drink, and clothing were provided them. They stayed there six years, and learnt ‘humanity alone,’ but seldom Greek, and were commonly ordained on the Continent. The Nuncio at Brussels decided all questions of disputed jurisdiction, and exercised a general supervision over the Irish Church. The Archbishops could not visit without a provincial council, and no such council had been held in his time. When he was parish priest his income the first year was 30l., the second year 34l., the third year 42l. As bishop he held the most Edition: orig; Page: [305] valuable parish in his diocese, but its annual value was only 40l., a third of which he gave to his coadjutor. He received, however, some other dues, among others a guinea from each of his thirty-two parishes at the distribution of oils. Common parishes were usually worth about 30l. or 35l. Some priests got corn and other small articles from their people. There were a few friars of the Franciscan, Augustinian, and Carmelite orders. There was a friary at Wexford, but it contained only three inmates.1

The Church, though poor, ignorant, and suffering under both social and legal stigmas, was steadily advancing. A Bill was introduced into the House of Lords, in 1756, to revive the system of registration in a very severe form, providing that only one priest should be allowed in each parish, that the nomination of his successor should be vested with the grand juries, subject to the veto of the Privy Council and Lord-Lieutenant, that proselytism should be again strenuously forbidden, and that all Catholic bishops and friars should be banished; but the Edition: orig; Page: [306] measure never became law, and it is remarkable that three archbishops and nine bishops voted against it. Proselytism, however, was still dangerous, and was sometimes punished. Thus in 1750 we find a priest named John Hely indicted for endeavouring to pervert a dying Protestant gentleman, and as the priest did not appear for trial, he was proclaimed by the grand jury, in the usual form, as ‘a tory, robber, and rapparee, of the Popish religion, in arms and on his keeping.’1

These examples may be sufficient to illustrate the position of the Catholic worship and clergy in Ireland during the first half of the eighteenth century. It is easy to understand how pernicious must have been the effect of this opposition between law and religion on the national character. In England many particular legislators or laws have been unpopular, but if we except a few years that followed the Reformation, and also the brief period of Puritan ascendency, law, as a whole, has always been looked upon as a beneficent agency representing the sentiments, securing the rights, and commanding the respect of the great body of the community. Generation after generation grew up with this sentiment, and reverence for law became in consequence a kind of hereditary instinct lying at the very root of the national character. The circumstances of Scotland were much less favourable, and in the first half of the eighteenth century it was certainly more lawless than Ireland. Until after the abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions English law was practically inoperative in the Highlands, but it was disliked chiefly as a form of restraint, without any peculiar inveteracy of hatred, and certainly without any moral reprobation. In Ireland, except in a few remote districts in the south and west, law was recognised as a real, powerful, omnipresent agent, immoral, irreligious, and maleficent. All the higher and nobler life of the community lay beyond its pale. Illegal combination was consecrated when it was essential to the performance of religious duty. Illegal violence was the natural protection against immoral laws. Eternal salvation, in the eyes Edition: orig; Page: [307] of the great majority of the Irish, could only be obtained by a course of conduct condemned by the law.

It would, no doubt, be possible to exaggerate this aspect of the penal code. Irish history did not begin with the eighteenth century, and a long train of causes had before this time made the people but little amenable to law. Irish crime has very rarely been directly connected with religion, and its great ebullitions may usually be traced either to the pressure of extreme poverty, or to disputes about the possession or the occupancy of land. But the penal code had an influence which, if indirect, was at least enormously great. It rendered absolutely impossible in Ireland the formation of that habit of instinctive and unreasoning reverence for law which is one of the most essential conditions of English civilisation, and at the same time by alienating the people from their Government, it made the ecclesiastical organisation to which they belonged the real centre of their affections and their enthusiasm. It made the Irish people the most fervent Catholics in Europe, but yet it was not without an injurious influence on the moral side of their religion. No class among them had such moral influence as the priests, but few classes have ever subsisted under more demoralising conditions. Springing for the most part from the peasant ranks, sharing their prejudices and their passions, and depending absolutely on their contributions, miserably ignorant, and miserably poor, they were an illegal class compelled to associate with smugglers, robbers, and privateers, to whose assistance they were often obliged to resort in order to escape the ministers of justice. Their bishops were at the same time in a position of such peculiar danger that the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline was often almost impossible. It could hardly be expected that a class so situated should be either able or disposed to set themselves in bold opposition to disloyalty or popular crime. From the Government they could expect nothing beyond a contemptuous toleration, while every motive of self-interest and of ambition urged them to identify themselves thoroughly with the passions of their people. Their conduct, Edition: orig; Page: [308] indeed, in many respects was very noble. The zeal with which they maintained the religious life of their flocks during the long period of persecution is beyond all praise. In the very dawn of the Reformation in Ireland, Spenser had contrasted the negligence of the ‘idle ministers,’ the creatures of a corrupt patronage—who, ‘having the livings of the country opened unto them, without pains and without peril, will neither for any love of God, nor for zeal for religion, nor for all the good they may do by winning souls to God, be drawn forth of their warm nests to look out into God's harvest’—with ‘the zeal of Popish priests,’ who ‘spare not to come out of Spain, from Rome and from Remes, by long toil and dangerous travelling hither, where they know peril of death awaiteth them, and no reward or riches is to be found, only to draw the people unto the Church of Rome.’1 The same fervid zeal was displayed by the Catholic priesthood in the days of the Cromwellian persecution, and during all the long period of the penal laws. Their singular freedom from those moral scandals that have so often accompanied a celibate clergy has been admitted by the most malevolent of their detractors. The strength of their principles was sufficiently shown by their almost unanimous refusal of the abjuration oath, and by the extreme paucity of conversions among them at a time when a large reward was offered for the apostacy of a priest. But their influence, though sometimes exerted to save life and to repress disorder, has not on the whole been favourable to law. Inheriting the traditions, they have exhibited many of the tendencies, of an illegal class, and have sometimes looked, if not with connivance, at least with a very insufficient abhorrence upon crimes which as religious teachers it was their first duty unsparingly to denounce.2

Edition: orig; Page: [309]

The moral influence of the penal laws was not less baneful in that part which related to property. The scandalous, unscrupulous misrepresentation of those writers who have described the code as a mere dead letter can hardly be more strikingly evinced than by glancing at the place which property cases under the code occupy in the proceedings of the Irish law courts. Even in trade the Catholics were, as we have seen, by no means free from disabilities, and the law gave their Protestant rivals such means of annoying them that they were compelled to acquiesce in the most illegal exactions. In ‘the case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland,’ which was drawn up by Dr. Nary in 1724, we have an illustration of the galling injustice to which the Roman Catholic tradesman was subject. ‘At present,’ he writes, ‘there is not one freeman or master of any corporation, nor of any other of the least charge (bating that of a petty constable), of the Roman Catholic religion in all the kingdom; neither are any of the tradesmen or shopkeepers of this religion suffered to work at their respective trades, or sell their goods in any of the cities of Ireland, except they pay exorbitant taxes, which they call quarterage, to the respective masters of their corporations; and upon refusal of paying the same (because there is no law for it) they are sure to be summoned to take the oath of abjuration, in order to frighten them into compliance.’1 In the most Catholic parts of Ireland many of the most lucrative Edition: orig; Page: [310] trades were long a strict monopoly of the Protestants, who refused to admit any Catholic as an apprentice.1

But the condition of the Catholic tradesman was far preferable to that of a Catholic landlord or tenant. In 1739 a petition was presented to the sovereign by the Catholics, in which they represented in touching terms how they were ‘daily oppressed by the number of idle and wicked vagrants of this nation, by informing against their little leases and tenements, if the law gets any hold thereof,’ and they asserted that two-thirds of the business of the four courts in Dublin consisted of Popish discoveries.2 How successfully the process of spoliation was carried on is shown by a Protestant writer in the same year, who tells us ‘that it is confessed that there are not twenty Papists in Ireland who possess each 1,000l. a year in land, and the estates belonging to others of a less yearly value are proportionately few.’3 About thirty years later a Protestant lawyer named Howard undertook to make a collection of all the cases relating to property, under the Popery laws, which were deserving of publication, but he found the task much too considerable, and he resolved to confine himself to a selection of important and typical cases. Yet that selection contains upwards of a hundred.4 A whole profession of spies and informers was called into being. A Protestant gentry grew up, generation after generation, regarding ascendency as their inalienable birthright; ostentatiously and arrogantly indifferent to the interests of the great masses of their nation, resenting every attempt at equality as a kind of infringement of the laws of nature. The social distinction was carefully preserved. A Catholic could not carry the arms that were still the indispensable sign of the position of a gentleman, Edition: orig; Page: [311] without a licence, which it was often very difficult to obtain;1 and he only kept his hunter or his carriage-horses by the forbearance of his Protestant neighbours. A story is told of a Catholic gentleman who once drove into Mullingar at the time of the assizes in a carriage drawn by two beautiful horses. A man stopped the carriage, and tendering ten guineas, in accordance with the Act of William, claimed the horses for his own. The gentleman, drawing a brace of pistols from his pocket, shot the horses dead upon the spot.2 The class feeling, indeed, produced by the code was much stronger than the purely theological oppugnancy. Archbishop Synge truly wrote, ‘There are too many amongst us who had rather keep the Papists as they are, in an almost slavish subjection, than have them made Protestants, and thereby entitled to the same liberties and privileges with the rest of their fellow subjects.’3

And behind all this lay the great fact that most of the land of the country was held by the title of recent confiscation, and that the old possessors or their children were still living, still remembered, still honoured by the people. It was the dread of a change of property springing from this fact that was the real Edition: orig; Page: [312] cause of most of the enactments of the penal code. It was this that paralysed every political movement by making it almost impossible for it to assume national dimensions. It was this which gave the landlord class most of their arrogance, their recklessness, and their extravagance. It was this above all that made them implacably hostile to every project for ameliorating the condition of the Catholics. In 1709 the House of Commons presented an address to the Queen, urging strongly the fatal consequences of reversing the outlawries of any persons who had been attainted for the rebellions either of 1641 or of 1688, on the ground that any measure of clemency would shake the security of property. ‘The titles of more than half the estates,’ they said, ‘now belonging to the Protestants depend on the forfeitures in the two last rebellions, wherein the generality of the Irish were engaged.’1

This fact lies at the very root of the social and political history of Ireland. In Scotland the greater part of the soil is even now in the possession of the descendants of chiefs whose origin is lost in the twilight of fable. In England, notwithstanding the fluctuations which great industrial fortunes naturally produce, much of the land of the country is still owned by families which rose to power under the Tudors, or even under the Plantagenets. In both countries centuries of co-operation, of sympathy, of mutual good services, have united the landlord and tenant classes by the closest ties. But in Ireland, where the deplorable absence of industrial life marks out the landlords as preeminently the natural leaders of the people, this sympathy has been almost wholly wanting. Only an infinitesimal portion of the soil belongs to the descendants of those who possessed it before Cromwell, and the division of classes which was begun by confiscation has been perpetuated by religion, and was for many generations studiously aggravated by law. Its full moral significance was only felt at a much later period, when political life began to stir among the great masses of the people. It was Edition: orig; Page: [313] then found that the tendons of society were cut, and no fact has contributed more to debilitate the national character. In an army, if once the confidence of the soldiers in their officers is destroyed, the whole organisation is relaxed, discipline gives way, military courage rapidly sinks, and troops who under other circumstances would have been full of fire, enthusiasm, and steady valour, degenerate into a dispirited and vacillating mob. With nations it is not very different. Few things contribute so much to the strength and steadiness of a national character as the consciousness among the people that in every great struggle or difficulty they will find their natural leaders at their head—men in whom they have perfect confidence, whose interests are thoroughly identified with their own, who are placed by their position above most sordid temptations, to whom they are already attached by ties of property, tradition, and association. A nation must have attained no mean political development before it can choose with intelligence its own leaders, and it is happy if in the earlier stages of its career the structure of society saves it from the necessity, by placing honest and efficient men naturally at its head. The close sympathy between the Scotch people and the Scotch gentry in most of the national struggles has been one great cause of that admirable firmness of national character which learnt at last to dispense with leadership. In Ireland, in spite of adverse circumstances, this attachment between landlord and tenant in many particular instances was undoubtedly formed, but in general there could be no real confidence between the classes. When the people awoke to political life, they found their natural leaders their antagonists; they were compelled to look for other chiefs, and they often found them in men who were inferior in culture, in position, and in character, who sought their suffrages for private ends, and who won them by fulsome flattery, false rhetoric, and exaggerated opinions. And the same evil is only too apparent in literature. That proportion of the national talent and scholarship which ought in every country to be devoted to elucidating the national history, has in Ireland not been so employed. Something, as we shall Edition: orig; Page: [314] hereafter see, of real value was done in this direction in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and not a little has been accomplished within the last thirty years, but still Irish history is shamefully chaotic, undigested, and unelaborated, and it presents in this respect a most humiliating contrast to the history of Scotland. The explanation is very obvious. For a long period the classes who possessed almost a monopoly of education and wealth, regarded themselves as a garrison in a foreign and a conquered country. Their religion, their traditions, and the tenure by which they held their properties, cut them off from all real sympathy with the people. The highest literary talent was accordingly diverted to other channels, and Irish history has passed to a lamentable extent into the hands of religious polemics, of dishonest partisans, and of half-educated and uncritical enthusiasts.

The effect of all this upon the character, the politics, and the literature of the Irish Catholics is very obvious. Its effect on the ruling caste was not less pernicious. As I have already noticed, one of the most successful parts of the English system of government has been its action upon the higher classes. It has succeeded to so great a degree in associating dignity with public service, and in forming a point of honour in favour of labour, that it has induced a larger proportion of men of rank and fortune to utilise for the public good the great opportunities of their position than can be found in any other nation. In Ireland a long train of complicated, connected, and irresistible causes operated in the opposite direction. The upper classes were exposed to all the characteristic vices of slaveholders, for they formed a dominant caste, ruling over a population who were deprived of all civil rights and reduced to a condition of virtual slavery. They were separated from their tenants by privilege, by race, by religion, by the memory of inexpiable wrongs, and it was one of the worst moral features of their situation that a chief element of their power lay in their complete control of the administration of justice. At the same time, the penal laws secured a perpetual influx into their ranks of men of lax principles or tarnished honour. The poor remained steadfast Edition: orig; Page: [315] and devoted to their religion, but many of the more educated Catholics conformed, in order to secure their estates, to enter professions, or to free themselves from social and political disabilities. Apostacy was the first step in the path of ambition. In 1727, Primate Boulter complained that ‘the practice of the law, from the top to the bottom, is at present mostly in the hands of new converts, who give no further security on this account than producing a certificate of their having received the sacrament in the Church of England or Ireland, which several of those who were Papists at London obtain on their road hither, and demand to be admitted barrister in virtue of it on their arrival; and several of them have Popish wives, and mass said in their houses, and breed up their children Papists. Things are at present so bad with us, that if about six should be removed from the bar to the bench here, there will not be a barrister of note left that is not a convert.’1 It was stated in 1739 that the Act by which the lands of Papists descended in gavelkind, unless the eldest son conformed to the Established Church, ‘hath brought over more Papists than anything else that has been calculated for the same end.’2 A very able writer on the state of Ireland in 1738 Edition: orig; Page: [316] observed that since the Penal Act of 1703, ‘about 1,000 persons (not a few of whom are possessed of considerable fortunes) have declared themselves converts.’1 The converts were carefully registered, and the list in the eighty-five years that followed the Act of 1703 comprises about 4,800 names.2 It is no breach of charity to assume that the overwhelming majority were actuated simply by temporal motives, and differed chiefly from their Catholic neighbours in the greater looseness of their principles. Add to this that the absenteeism of the great proprietors made the abdication of duty a fashionable thing and was imitated as far as possible in every rank, that the political condition of the country excluded Irish gentlemen from most of the fields of honourable ambition, that the dignity of the peerage, with the social influence it commands, was habitually made the reward of corruption, that most of the highest posts in the government and the professions were disposed of by scandalous jobbery, and that the legal suppression of the wool trade had thrown multitudes of all ranks into smuggling, and the corruption of the Irish gentry will not appear surprising.

The vices of Irish society have been often described, and they lay at the surface. The worst was the oppression of the tenantry by their landlords. The culprits in this respect were not the head landlords, who usually let their land at low rents and on long leases to middlemen, and whose faults were rather those of neglect than of oppression. They were commonly the small Edition: orig; Page: [317] gentry, a harsh, rapacious, and dissipated class, living with an extravagance that could only be met by the most grinding exactions, and full of the pride of race and of the pride of creed. Swift and Dobbs bitterly lament this evil, and nearly every traveller echoed their complaint. Chesterfield, who as Lord-Lieutenant studied the conditions of Irish life with more than ordinary care, left it as his opinion that ‘the poor people in Ireland are used worse than negroes by their lords and masters, and their deputies of deputies of deputies.’1 We are assured on good authority that it was ‘not unusual in Ireland for great landed proprietors to have regular prisons in their houses for the summary punishment of the lower orders,’ that ‘indictments against gentlemen for similar exercise of power beyond law are always thrown out by the grand jurors,’ that ‘to horsewhip or beat a servant or labourer is a frequent mode of correction.’2 What the relations of landlord and tenant were in the first half of the eighteenth century may be easily inferred from the description which Arthur Young gives of its state in 1776, when the memory of the confiscations had in a great degree faded, and when religious animosity was almost extinct. He tells us that ‘the age has improved so much in humanity that even the poor Irish have experienced its influence, and are every day treated better and better.’ Yet, even at this time, he assures us, ‘the landlord of an Irish estate inhabited by Roman Catholics is a sort of despot, who yields obedience, in whatever concerns the poor, to no law but that of his will. … A long series of oppressions, aided by many very ill-judged laws, have brought landlords into a habit of exerting a very lofty superiority, and their vassals into that of an almost unlimited submission. Speaking a language that is despised, professing a religion that is abhorred, and being disarmed, the poor find themselves in many cases slaves even in the bosom of written liberty. … A landlord Edition: orig; Page: [318] in Ireland can scarcely invent an order which a servant, labourer, or cotter dares to refuse to execute. Nothing satisfies him but an unlimited submission. Disrespect, or anything tending towards sauciness, he may punish with his cane or his horsewhip with the most perfect security. A poor man would have his bones broken if he offered to lift his hand in his own defence. Knocking down is spoken of in the country in a way that makes an Englishman stare. Landlords of consequence have assured me that many of their cotters would think themselves honoured by having their wives and daughters sent for to the bed of their master. … It must strike the most careless traveller to see whole strings of cars whipped into a ditch by a gentleman's footman, to make way for his carriage. If they are overturned or broken in pieces, it is taken in patience. Were they to complain, they would perhaps be horsewhipped. The execution of the laws lies very much in the hands of the justices of the peace, many of whom are drawn from the most illiberal class in the kingdom. If a poor man lodges his complaint against a gentleman, or any animal that chooses to call itself a gentleman, and the justice issues a summons for his appearance, it is a fixed affront, and he will infallibly be called out.’1

Duelling in the eighteenth century was very frequent in England, but the fire-eater and the bravo never attained the position in English life which was conceded him in Ireland. The most eminent statesmen, the most successful lawyers, even the fellows of the university, whose business was the training of the young, were sometimes experienced duellists. An insolent, reckless, and unprincipled type of character was naturally formed. Drunkenness and extravagance went hand in hand among the gentry, and Edition: orig; Page: [319] especially among the lesser gentry, and the immense consumption of French wine was deplored as a national calamity. Berkeley noticed that while in England many gentlemen with 1,000l. a-year never drank wine in their houses, in Ireland this could hardly be said of any who had 100l. a-year.1 ‘Nine gentlemen in ten in Ireland,’ wrote Chesterfield, ‘are impoverished by the great quantity of claret which, from mistaken notions of hospitality and dignity, they think it necessary should be drunk in their houses,’2 and he declared that except in providing that their claret should be two or three years old, the Irish gentry thought less of two or three years hence than any people under the sun.3 ‘Would not a Frenchman give a shrug,’ said an anonymous writer in the middle of the century, ‘at finding in every little inn Bordeaux claret, and Nantz brandy, though in all likelihood not a morsel of Irish bread?’4 In Ireland, as in Scotland, there were many stories of decanters which, having no flat bottom, would never stand still; of wine glasses with their stems broken off, in order that they should be emptied as soon as they had been filled; of carousals that were prolonged day and night, till the most hardened drinkers were under the table. Horse-races were so extravagantly numerous that the Parliament in 1739, pronouncing them a great source of the idleness of the farmers, artificers, and day labourers of the kingdom, endeavoured to diminish their number by enacting that no horses should run for prizes, wagers, or plates of Edition: orig; Page: [320] less value than 20l., under pain of the confiscation of the horse together with a fine of 20l. imposed on the owner and also of a fine of 5s. on every spectator.1 There ran through the whole country a passion for gambling, sporting, drinking, cockfighting, acting, and dancing; a strong preference of brilliancy, generosity, and reckless daring to public spirit, high principle, sobriety, order, and economy; a rude but cordial hospitality, a general love of ostentation and extravagance. A class whose property was not derived from the accumulated savings of industrious ancestors, but from violent and recent confiscations, and who held that property under the sense of perpetual insecurity, were very naturally characterised by a reckless extravagance, and it was equally natural that the traditions of that extravagance should descend to their successors. Sir W. Temple only expressed the sentiments of all intelligent well-wishers of Ireland when he urged those who presided over its destinies to make it their first aim ‘to introduce a vein of parsimony through the country in all things that are not of native growth.’2

This extravagance did not run through every form of expenditure. Houses, especially in the country districts, were often extremely mean in proportion to the fortunes of their owners.3 There was little of the orderly beauty, the domestic economy, the quiet comfort of English life; but horses, servants, and idle retainers were absurdly numerous; the tables exhibited a profusion of dishes unknown in England, and a coarse, disorderly ostentation was very prevalent. The dramatist Cumberland, whose father was appointed, by Lord Halifax, Bishop of Clonfert, in the county of Galway, has left us a curious picture of Connaught country life in his description of a prominent nobleman in a wild district on the borders of the Shannon. Though now an old man, Lord Eyre had never been out of Edition: orig; Page: [321] Ireland. Proprietor of a vast but unproductive tract of soil, inhabiting a spacious but dilapidated mansion, he lived with a lavish but inelegant hospitality. His table groaned with abundance, but order and good taste in arrangement were little thought of. ‘The slaughtered ox was hung up whole, and the hungry servitor supplied himself with his dole of flesh sliced from off the carcass.’ ‘From an early dinner to the hour of rest he never left his chair, nor did the claret ever quit the table.’ He had no books. He cared little or nothing for conversation. His chief pride was in his cocks, which were considered the best in Ireland. Furious quarrels, ending in duels, were frequent among his neighbours, and they were sometimes inflamed by religious or political animosity, when in a mixed company some drunken squire, laying his pistol, cocked, upon the table, called for the toast of the ‘glorious, pious, and immortal memory.’ The neighbouring town was practically ‘unapproachable by any officers or emissaries of the civil power, who were universally denounced as mad dogs and subject to be treated as such.’ Yet this wild and neglected population was very far from being unamenable to reason. The bishop, in spite of the ridicule of his neighbours, tried to reclaim them, and he soon succeeded, by a little patience and a little tact, in introducing over an extensive district English husbandry, and even a large measure of English comfort, and in making himself one of the most popular men in the country.1

Another curious but somewhat more favourable sketch of Irish country life is furnished by Mrs. Delany. Travelling from Dangan to Killala, in 1732, she stopped at Newtown Gore, in a house which she described as nothing more than a large cabin. ‘It belongs,’ she writes, ‘to a gentleman of 1,500l. a year, who spends most part of his time and fortune in that place. The situation is pretty, being just by the river side, but the house is worse than I have represented. He keeps a man cook, and has given entertainments of twenty dishes of meat! The people of this country don't seem solicitous of having good dwellings or Edition: orig; Page: [322] more furniture than is absolutely necessary. Hardly so much. But they make it up in eating and drinking. I have not seen less than fourteen dishes of meat for dinner, and seven for supper, during my peregrination, and they not only treat us at their houses magnificently, but if we are to go to an inn they constantly provide us with a basket crammed with good things. No people can be more hospitable or obliging, and there is not only great abundance, but great order and neatness.’1

In the towns the law was generally respected, but in the more remote country districts, where it was virtually in the hands of an uncontrolled oligarchy of landlords, it was constantly disregarded. As Protestants, as magistrates, and as landlords their power was almost unlimited, and like all absolute power it was often grossly abused. Duels were never, abductions were rarely, punished. Smuggling did not carry with it the faintest moral stigma. In cases where class interests were at stake, law was often defied with complete impunity. Many of the landlords, Lord Moles-worth assures us, ‘taking advantage of the unsettled state of the times, and of the fearfulness of Papist tenants, who dare not contest with them,’ had even stopped the common roads for the convenience of their estates.2 It is not easy to say whether such a condition of society was more demoralising to the Protestants, among whom it produced the vices of monopolists and of slaveowners, or to the Catholics, among whom it produced those of conspirators and outlaws. No reasonable person will wonder that a country with an agrarian history like that of Ireland should have proved abundantly prolific in agrarian crime.

There is no class who have improved more conspicuously or more incontestably during the last hundred and fifty years than the country gentry both in England and Ireland, and the Squire Westerns of the one country were hardly of a higher type than Edition: orig; Page: [323] the Lord Eyres of the other. Irish magistrates, scattered thinly over wild, hostile, Catholic districts, and stimulated to vigilance by the constant fear of rebellion or outrage, were placed under circumstances likely to elicit in a really superior man some high qualities of administration and command; and their correspondence with the Government, which is still preserved, exhibits a very respectable level of culture and intelligence. School and university education among the Irish Protestants in the first half of the eighteenth century appears to have been fully equal to what then existed in England; and the great prevalence of social habits did something to soften the tone both of manners and of feeling. But on the whole, and in the most important respects, the country gentry in Ireland were greatly inferior to the corresponding class in England. They inherited traditions of violence, extravagance, and bigotry. Their relations to their tenants were peculiarly demoralising. Their circumstances were eminently fitted to foster among them the vices of tyranny; and a narrow oligarchy, disposing almost absolutely of county revenues and of political power in a country where nearly all political and professional promotion were given by favour, and where all government was tainted by monopoly, soon learnt to sacrifice, habitually, public to private interest. Spendthrift and drunken country gentlemen, corrupt politicians, and jobbing officials were, indeed, abundantly common in England in the first half of the eighteenth century, but in Ireland the tone of dissipation was more exaggerated, and the level of public spirit was more depressed. There was little genuine patriotism, and political profligacy was sometimes strangely audacious. The shameful jest of the politician who thanked God that he had a country to sell is said to be of Irish origin, and it reflected only too faithfully the prevailing spirit of a large section of the gentry.

These vices were more or less diffused through the whole class, but they attained their extreme development in the small landlords, and especially in the middlemen. At a time when in England economical causes were steadily weeding out the poorer Edition: orig; Page: [324] and less cultivated members of the squirearchy, and replacing them by large landlords, the tendency in Ireland was precisely opposite. Absenteeism drew away a great part of the richer landlords, while the middlemen rapidly multiplied. A hybrid and ambiguous class, without any of the solid qualities of the English yeomen, they combined the education and manners of farmers with the pretensions of gentlemen, and they endeavoured to support those pretensions by idleness, extravagance, and ostentatious arrogance. Men who in England would have been modest and laborious farmers, in Ireland sublet their land at rack-rents, kept miserable packs of half-starved hounds, wandered about from fair to fair and from race to race in laced coats, gambling, fighting, drinking, swearing, ravishing, and sporting, parading everywhere their contempt for honest labour, giving a tone of recklessness to every society in which they moved.1 An industrial middle-class, which is the most essential of all the elements of English life, was almost wholly wanting; and the class of middlemen and squireens, who most nearly corresponded to it, were utterly destitute of industrial virtues, and Edition: orig; Page: [325] concentrated in themselves most of the distinctive vices of the Irish character. They were the chief agents in agrarian tyranny, and their pernicious influence on manners, in a country where the prohibition of manufactures had expatriated the most industrious classes and artificially checked the formation of industrial habits, can hardly be overrated. They probably did more than any other class to sustain that race of extravagance which ran through all ranks above the level of the cottier,1 and that illiberal and semi-barbarous contempt for industrial pursuits, which was one of the greatest obstacles to national progress.2 False ideals, false standards of excellence, grew up among the people, and they came to look upon idleness and extravagance as noble things, upon parsimony, order, and industry as degrading to a gentleman.

These are the signs of a society that was profoundly diseased, and it is not difficult to trace the causes of the malady. It must, however, be added that there was another and a very different side of Irish life. Its contrasts have always been stronger than those of England, and though the elements of corruption extended very far, it would be a grave error to suppose that in the first half of the eighteenth century everything in Ireland was frivolous and corrupt, that there was no genuine intellectual life, no real public spirit moving in the country. Considering how unfavourable were the circumstances of the nation, the number of its eminent men, in the period of which I am writing, was very respectable. During a considerable portion of that period Swift was illuminating Dublin by the rays of his transcendent genius, Edition: orig; Page: [326] while Berkeley, who was scarcely inferior to Swift in ability and incomparably his superior in moral qualities, who was, indeed, one of the finest and most versatile intellects, and one of the purest characters of the eighteenth century, filled the See of Cloyne. Archbishop King is still faintly remembered as a writer by his treatise ‘On the Origin of Evil,’ and Browne, who was Provost of Trinity College and afterwards Bishop of Cork, published among other works an elaborate treatise ‘On the Limits of Human Understanding,’ which had once a considerable reputation and which is remarkable as anticipating the doctrine of a modern school about the generic difference of Divine and human morality and the impossibility of human faculties conceiving either the nature or the attributes of God.1 Among the other clergy of the Irish Church were Parnell the poet, who was Archdeacon of Clogher, and Skelton, who, though now nearly forgotten,2 took a prominent part in the Deistical controversy, and has also left several valuable tracts on Irish and on miscellaneous subjects. The greatest name among the Irish Nonconformists was Francis Hutcheson. He was of Scotch extraction, and was educated at Glasgow, but he was born in Ireland in 1694, lived there the greater part of his early life, and published there his ‘Letters of Hibernicus,’ directed against the philosophy of Mandeville, his ‘Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue,’ and his ‘Essay on the Conduct of the Passions and Affections.’ He kept a school at Dublin, and was warmly befriended by Archbishop King; but in 1729 he was summoned, as professor of moral philosophy, to the University of Glasgow, where he won for himself a place in the history of the human mind that can hardly perish, for he was the founder of that school of Scotch philosophy which was adorned by the great names of Reid, Adam Smith, and Dugald Stewart. Edition: orig; Page: [327] Leland, who was one of the most popular writers on the side of orthodoxy in the Deistical controversy, though born in England, lived all his life in Ireland, and was for many years pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Dublin. The ‘View of the Principal Deistical Writers,’ by which he is now chiefly remembered, appeared in 1754. Toland and Sir Hans Sloane, though Irish by birth, lived all their lives in England, and neither Sterne, Goldsmith, nor Burke had risen to notoriety by the middle of the century; but Henry Brooke, the author of ‘Gustavus Vasa,’ and of ‘The Fool of Quality,’ and the first editor of the ‘Freeman's Journal,’ lived and wrote in Dublin. The great wave of the experimental philosophy had passed the Channel. ‘The Dublin Philosophical Society’ was founded in 1684 by the illustrious Molyneux, and under the presidency of Sir William Petty, after the model of the Royal Society, with which it placed itself in connection, and to which it regularly transmitted abstracts of its proceedings. A botanic garden, a museum, and a laboratory were speedily created, and numerous scientific papers were published. The civil war interrupted the labours of the Society, but it revived in Trinity College, in 1693, and continued for many years a centre of scientific interest in Dublin.1 In 1744 a ‘Physico-Historical Society’ was founded, ‘to make inquiries into the natural and civil history of the kingdom.’ A critical and literary review of some merit, containing a record both of English and foreign literature was also founded in Dublin in 1744, and continued to appear every quarter until the death of its editor, in 1751. It was conducted by a refugee clergyman named Droz, who officiated in a French church in Dublin. The economical condition of the country was investigated with much skill in a series of tracts on trade, agriculture, and political arithmetic, by Arthur Dobbs, the Member for Carrickfergus. This remarkable man carried through Parliament in 1732 an Act that proved of great importance, for the purpose of encouraging the enclosure of waste lands, and the planting of Edition: orig; Page: [328] trees; and his promotion soon after to the post of Governor of Carolina was a great loss to Ireland.1

The most important, however, of the signs of public spirit in Ireland was the Dublin Society, which was founded in 1731, chiefly by the exertions of Thomas Prior, and of Samuel Madden a very benevolent and very able clergyman of the Established Church, for the purpose of improving husbandry, manufactures, and other useful arts. The part which this society plays in the history of Irish industry during the eighteenth century is a very eminent one. It attracted to itself a considerable number of able and public-spirited members, and it was resolved that each member, on his admission, should select some particular branch, either of natural history, husbandry, agriculture, gardening, or manufacture, should endeavour as far as possible to make himself a complete master of all that was known concerning it, and should draw up a report on the subject. The chief object of the society was as far as possible to correct the extreme ignorance of what was going on in these departments in other countries which, owing to poverty, to want of education or enterprise, and to the isolated geographical position of the country, was very general. The society published a weekly account of its proceedings, collected statistics, popularised new inventions, encouraged by premiums agricultural improvement and different forms of Irish industry, brought over from England a skilful farmer to give lessons in his art, set up a model farm and even model manufactories, and endeavoured as far as possible to diffuse industrial knowledge through the kingdom. The press cordially assisted it, and for some years there was scarcely a number of a Dublin newspaper that did not contain addresses from the society with useful receipts or directions for farmers, or explanations of different branches of industry, and at the same time offers of small prizes for those who most successfully followed the instructions that were given. Thus—to give but a few out of very many instances—we Edition: orig; Page: [329] find prizes offered for the best imitation of several different kinds of foreign lace; for the best pieces of flowered silk, of damask, of tapestry, of wrought velvet; for the farmers who could show the largest amount of land sown with several specified kinds of seed, or manured with particular kinds of manure; for draining, for reclaiming unprofitable bogs, for the manufacture of cider, of gooseberry wine, and of beer brewed from Irish hops; for the best beaver hats made in the country; for the baker who baked bread or the fisherman who cured fish according to receipts published by the society; for every cod crimped in the method that was in use in England and Holland, which was brought on a certain day to the market on Ormond Quay.

Such methods of encouragement would be little suited to a high stage of commercial or agricultural activity, but they were eminently useful in a country where, owing to many depressing circumstances, industrial life was extremely low. For many years the society was supported entirely by the voluntary subscriptions of the Irish gentry, and Chesterfield said with truth that ‘it did more good to Ireland with regard to arts and industry than all the laws that could have been formed.’ In 1746, however, it obtained a small annual bounty of 500l. from the Civil List. In 1750 it received a Royal Charter, and it was afterwards assisted by considerable grants from the Irish Parliament.1 About 1758, when there was still no public institution for the encouragement of art in England, the Dublin Society began to undertake this function in Ireland and it discharged it during many years with great zeal. At an early period of Irish history, as the round towers and the relics of churches and monasteries existing in the country abundantly show, a real and remarkably original school of architecture existed in Ireland; but it perished in the anarchy that followed the English invasion,2 and the circumstances of the country were for many generations such that it was scarcely possible that any Edition: orig; Page: [330] art could have arisen. In the first half of the eighteenth century three Irish portrait-painters—Jervas, Howard, and Bindon—had risen to some distinction, and the first, who is now chiefly remembered by the beautiful, but exaggerated, eulogy of Pope, was for some years at the head of his profession in London. One form of architectural ornamentation—that of stucco tracery upon ceilings—was carried in the eighteenth century to a very high degree of perfection in Dublin houses. A school of engraving also of some merit had grown up, and Henry Luttrell, a native of Dublin, is said to have been the first person who practised the art of mezzotinto in London.1 There were, however, probably scarcely any specimens of good painting in Ireland in the beginning of the eighteenth century, though a traveller who visited it in 1775 noticed that at that time Lord Moira had a large and fine private gallery in Dublin, and that there were also some good pictures in the Houses of Lord Charlemont, Mr. Stewart, and Mr. Henry.2 The Dublin Society established an academy under the presidency of a drawing-master named West, who had studied on the Continent under Boucher and Vanloo. It also collected models, gave premiums, assisted poor artists, and held annual exhibitions. George Barrett, who was once noted as a landscape painter, and who was one of the founders of the Royal Academy in London, was educated in the schools of the Dublin Society. At the exhibition of 1763 much enthusiasm was excited by a picture representing the baptism by St. Patrick of the King of Cashel, the work of a hitherto unknown artist, the son of very poor parents at Cork. It was the first painting submitted to the public by James Barry, who in a few years gained a place in the foremost rank of British artists.3

The exertions of the society in stimulating industrial life were powerfully seconded by Berkeley, who was on terms of close intimacy with Madden and Prior. It was chiefly to support their efforts that he published his ‘Querist,’ a work which is in itself sufficient to give him a place among the greatest economists of Edition: orig; Page: [331] his age. Probably no other book published in the first half of the eighteenth century contains so many pregnant hints on the laws of industrial development, or anticipates so many of the conclusions of Adam Smith and of his followers. Two points in this admirable work may be especially noticed as evincing both the sagacity and the rare liberality of this Protestant bishop. He clearly perceived the disastrous folly of the system which was divorcing the Catholics from all ownership of the soil, and suggested that they should be permitted to purchase forfeited land as tending to unite their interest with that of the Government. He also advocated their admission into the National University, in order that they might attain the highest available education without any interference with their religion. The first part of the ‘Querist’ was published anonymously in 1735 and was edited by Dr. Madden.

The liberal views of Berkeley, though very remarkable, were by no means unparalleled. It was impossible for any candid and intelligent man not to perceive that the degraded condition of the Catholic population lay at the root of the calamities of Ireland, and that the nation, as Madden truly said, resembled ‘a paralytic body where one half of it is dead or just dragged about by the other.’ Unfortunately, however, the charter schools had given a false direction to the energies of philanthropists, and the policy of educating the Catholics broke down because it was thought necessary to combine that education with a system of direct proselytism assisted by enormous bribes. This scheme was for a time very popular, and was supported by the upper classes with an energy not common in Ireland. Fifteen bishops and seventeen peers, as well as a large number of the other gentry, signed the petition to the King asking for a charter for the schools. Large subscriptions were collected. The corporations of Dublin, Waterford, Kilkenny, Cashel, and Trim made grants out of their estates for encouraging the schools. Carteret recommended the project to the Duke of Newcastle as one which the principal persons of Ireland had very much at heart, and Primate Boulter devoted himself with great zeal to carrying it Edition: orig; Page: [332] into effect. The extreme importance of separating the children from all intercourse and correspondence with their Catholic relations, and of removing them to remote parts of the country was continually and emphatically urged. In 1746, when there were great rejoicings throughout Ireland on account of the battle of Culloden, many of the more patriotic gentry who desired to discourage the excessive drinking which was common, agreed on this occasion to refrain from wine and to devote the money they thus saved to the support of the charter schools.1

There were, however, some traces of a wiser and more liberal spirit, and Ireland can furnish a few remarkable contributions to the history of the growth of religious tolerance in the eighteenth century. In 1723 Viscount Molesworth published a pamphlet called ‘Some Considerations for the Promotion of Agriculture and Employing the Poor,’ in which he exposed with a skilful and unsparing hand the gross defects of Irish agricultural economy, and at the same time proposed a series of remedies, which, if they had been carried out, might have made Ireland a happy and a prosperous country.2 He desired that in every county a school of husbandry should be established, under an expert master, for the purpose of teaching the best English methods of agriculture, that these schools should be thrown open to children of every creed, that all distinctive and proselytising religious teaching should be excluded from the course of education, but that opportunities should be provided for the children of each religion daily and freely to practise their own religious rites. Such a system of eminently practical and at the same time perfectly unsectarian education, would have met the greatest wants of the country, and have laid the foundation for unlimited progress. With equal boldness and sagacity Lord Molesworth Edition: orig; Page: [333] proposed to deal with the question of the position of the priesthood. He expatiated upon the extreme hardship of the burden which rested upon the wretched cottier in having to pay both his own clergy and those of the Establishment, and he argued with much reason that there could be no real progress in Ireland until the mass of the tenantry were raised above the level of extreme destitution. He accordingly proposed that the State should charge itself with the payment of the priests. Such a policy would put an end to their ambiguous and illegal position, which was a source of innumerable moral and religious evils. It would do more than any other single measure to attach them to the Government. It would improve the economical condition of the country by freeing the cultivators of the soil from an oppressive burden; and, as its benefits would be felt and understood in the meanest hovel, it would do very much to create a feeling of loyalty through the Catholic population. In common with most Irish writers, Lord Molesworth advocated the establishment of public granaries under Government supervision, like those of Geneva and Flanders; but he was greatly in advance of his time in contending that the only efficient remedy for political corruption was to be found in a real Parliamentary reform, enlarging the basis of representation, and extending the suffrage from the freeholders to the leaseholders.

This pamphlet excited much discussion in Ireland, and it would be difficult to name any other more rich in a wisdom beyond the age in which it appeared. Another, though less remarkable, example of the same kind was a sermon which was preached before the Irish House of Commons in 1725, by Edward Synge, on the anniversary of the rebellion. The preacher was prebendary of St. Patrick and son of that Archbishop Synge who for many years exercised a great influence over all Irish policy, and it was published by order of the House. Taking for his text the words ‘Compel them to enter in,’ which had been so often employed in justification of persecution, and adopting substantially the reasoning of Locke and of Hoadly, Synge proceeded to examine with considerable ability the duty of a Protestant Edition: orig; Page: [334] legislature in dealing with a Roman Catholic population. Coercion, he maintained, which is directed simply against religious teaching as such, is always illegitimate and useless. Its only good end could be to release men from error, but this involves a change of judgment, which cannot be effected by external force. ‘All persons, therefore, in a society, whose principles in religion have no tendency to hurt the public have aright to toleration.’ The case, however, of religions whose principles are directly hostile to the State is different, and Synge devoted much of his discourse to examining what measures a legislator may justly take against the professors of such a religion. He contends that he may limit their property, prevent them from making new acquisitions, exclude them from fortified places, forbid large meetings, and provide ‘that their children be educated under public inspection, that so, being free from all early ill impressions, they may, when they come to a full use of their reason, be disposed to choose those principles which, with regard to religion, are true.’ He may even in extreme cases remove them from the society, but only with a full liberty to transport their effects. Considering the Catholics, then, merely as erring men, ‘no Church, no magistrate has any right to use force against them.’ The sole justification of the penal laws is to be found in the civil dangers arising from the tenets of Catholicism. Two of these tenets are especially, and in the highest degree, dangerous—the belief that the Pope may depose heretical princes and that he may absolve subjects from their oath of allegiance. But while it is quite certain that these doctrines had been taught and acted on in the Church, it was also certain that the whole body of the Gallican Catholics repudiated them. Synge accordingly urged that the Irish Catholics should be given an opportunity of in like manner disclaiming them, and that if they did so ‘they should at least be allowed some benefit of toleration.’ The best method of dealing with Popery was to establish a society like that for the Propagation of the Gospel, and to make full provision for the support and residence of the Protestant clergy, and for the education of the poor under public inspection.

Edition: orig; Page: [335]

These sentiments appear to have been shared by several of the higher clergy. It is worthy of notice that some of them exhibited, on more than one occasion, a greater moderation in dealing with Catholics than either the Irish House of Commons or the English Government. I have quoted in a former chapter some instances of the atrocious provisions that may be found in measures against Catholics, which were proposed, but which never became law. Among them one of the worst was a clause in a Government measure, with the specious title of ‘A Bill for the better security of the King's person,’ which was brought before the Irish Parliament in 1697. In a country where the magistrates were exclusively Protestant, where religious animosity was then raging with the most furious intensity, where avarice and intolerance continually went hand in hand, and where it was the bitterest grievance of the dominant sect that a small part of the confiscated land had just been restored to its former owners, it was proposed to empower the majority of the magistrates, at any quarter sessions, to summon before them any person they chose, and to compel him, on pain of prœemunire—that is to say, of perpetual imprisonment and the confiscation of all his goods—to renounce the superiority of any foreign power in ecclesiastical and spiritual matters within the realm. Considering the circumstances of the country, a measure of baser or more cruel tyranny could hardly have been proposed; but it was carried, though not without resistance, through the Commons. In the Lords, however, it soon became apparent that the preponderance of opinion was against it. King, who for his sufferings under James II. and his great services to the Protestant cause in the struggle of the Revolution, had lately been appointed Bishop of Derry, and who during his whole long life was one of the most unflinching opponents of Jacobitism, was prominent in opposition,1 and seven other bishops voted with him Edition: orig; Page: [336] in the majority against the Bill.1 In the same humane and honourable spirit they laboured to mitigate the severity and diminish the number of the attainders after the Revolution,2 and they retarded and protested against some of the savage provisions of the penal Acts of Anne.3 At a later period Archbishop Synge, who was one of the most active writers against the Catholic theology, desired that the oath of abjuration should be altered so as to meet the objections of the Catholics, and that they should thus be drawn within the pale of legal toleration;4 and we have already seen his opposition to the infamous Bill of 1723, by which the House of Commons proposed that all priests who, after a certain date, refused to take that oath of abjuration which their Church had authoritatively pronounced to be sinful, should be hung, drawn, and quartered.5 Other bishops showed a similar spirit.6 Downes, the Bishop of Edition: orig; Page: [337] Elphin, brought forward, in January 1725–6, a proposal to put an end to the complete anarchy into which this department of legislation had fallen, by licensing 600 priests for the wants of the Catholic population in Ireland, by permitting one Catholic bishop to reside in Ireland for the purpose of ordaining new priests, and by allowing all Catholic students, or at least those who were intended for the priesthood, to receive their education in Trinity College, without the obligation of attending chapel, or performing any other duties inconsistent with their faith.1

This last proposal, when we consider the period in which it was made, is very remarkable. The difficulties, however, of carrying such measures through such a body as the Irish Parliament, and of obtaining the assent of such a body as the English ministry, were at this time insuperable, and Archbishop Boulter was violently opposed to the Catholic interest. The spirit of tolerance, however, steadily grew, and it was accompanied by a strong desire, based upon economical motives, to permit Catholics to invest money in land. Being almost restricted to trade, they had gradually acquired a pre-eminence in this field, and at a time when the dearth of money was extremely great, and when agriculture was suffering bitterly in consequence, it was found that a very large, if not the greater part of the ready money of Edition: orig; Page: [338] the country was in their hands.1 The more ardent Protestants added that the law dividing equally the landed property of the Catholic among his children, unless the eldest consented to conform, had produced more converts than any other agency, and they predicted that if the Catholics were permitted to take beneficial leases with the restriction that these should descend by preference to the children who embraced Protestantism, the movement of proselytism would be greatly stimulated.2

The laws were at the same time suffered to fall in a great degree, over large districts and for long periods of time, into comparative desuetude. The decline of religious fanaticism among the Protestants, their indignation at the commercial disabilities, and at English patronage and pensions, as well as the natural feelings produced by neighbourhood and private friendships, all Edition: orig; Page: [339] conspired to this result. Besides this, over a large part of Ireland there were fifteen or twenty Catholics for one Protestant, and it was impossible to carry out such a system as the penal code without a perpetual employment of military force. Society cannot permanently exist in a condition of extreme tension, and it was necessary for the members of both religions to find some way of living together in tolerable security. The very features of the Irish character that make it slow to remedy abuses—its careless, easy good-nature, its good-humoured acquiescence in the conditions in which it finds itself—were here of great service, and a lax and tolerant administration gradually mitigated the severity of intolerant laws. The aspect of the country was not altogether what might be inferred from a mere perusal of the statute-book. The division of classes was very profound, but it may be doubted whether class hatred in Ireland was ever as intense as that which existed between the French peasants and the French nobles at the time of the Revolution, or as that which at a still later period divided the middle and working classes in great French cities. The Catholic worship for many years, and in many parts of Ireland, was celebrated with little less publicity than the Protestant worship. Galway and Limerick were intended to be exclusively Protestant, but early in the eighteenth century they were almost exclusively Catholic, and in spite of the laws and of many isolated acts of persecution the country was full of friars, Catholic schoolmasters, and unregistered priests.

The code was in most respects extremely demoralising, yet some fine qualities of friendship, confidence, and honour were fostered under its influence. Though the law expressly condemned such evasions, a few Catholic families preserved their land undivided, and even purchased fresh land by the assistance of Protestants, in whom the nominal ownership was vested, and the confidence was scarcely ever abused.1 Edition: orig; Page: [340] Protestant friends enabled the Catholic parent to evade the savage law which doomed his young children, if left orphans, to a Protestant education. In 1714, a violently anti-Catholic magistrate wrote to the Castle, complaining bitterly of the difficulty of seizing the arms of Catholics, on account of the conduct of Protestants. ‘I know very well,’ he wrote, ‘that putting the laws in execution against the Papists is very acceptable. But I am at a loss to know what I shall do, when Protestants, under the colour of lending, borrowing, and changing arms with the Papists, have obstructed Papists’ arms from coming to the hands of the justices of the peace, according to the intent of the law and the proclamation.’1 Local magistrates often discouraged prosecutions, furnished information to the threatened Catholics, or strained the letter of the law to its extreme limits in their favour. A story is told of a Protestant, who, tendering the legal five guineas, endeavoured to seize a valuable horse which a Catholic was riding. A rapid blow stretched the aggressor on the earth, and the magistrate to whom the case was referred justified the Catholic, on the ground that he was defending himself against a robber, as the law gave the Protestant no right to the bridle which he had seized. A Catholic bishop, who was much persecuted by a priest-hunter, is said to have owed his safety to a neighbouring magistrate, who not only gave warning whenever a pursuit was contemplated, but even gave the hunted prelate a refuge in his own house. An upper room, looking on the garden, was kept habitually locked. A report spread abroad that it was haunted, effectually kept the servants at a distance, and in times of danger the bishop climbed into it by a ladder, which lay in the garden beneath the window.2 The extreme paucity of Protestants in many districts made the employment of Catholics almost essential, and we sometimes find them acting in capacities we should least have expected. Thus in 1711, at the time when the houghing of cattle was carried to a great extent in the neighbourhood Edition: orig; Page: [341] of Galway, and when the authorities of the county were discussing a project for seizing all the boats upon Lough Corrib, the high sheriff wrote to the Government, ‘Most of the constables in this county are Papists, and it is hard to trust them in this affair.’1 Hardly any figure is supposed to represent the worst aspects of the Irish Established Church more clearly than the tithe-jobber, who was accustomed to purchase from the clergyman, for a fixed sum, his right to tithes, and whose exactions often drove the poor cottiers to the verge of despair. Lord Molesworth, in 1723, speaks in strong terms of the oppression exercised by members of this class. The tithe-jobber, he says, ‘is commonly a litigious, worthless, wrangling fellow, a Papist, and a stranger.’2

The Government, too, though very bad, was not without its redeeming features. A Parliament, representing almost exclusively a single class in a country where religious disqualifications and recent confiscations made class divisions very profound, was naturally on many questions exceedingly selfish and arbitrary. But an assembly of resident landlords can hardly fail to take a real interest in the material welfare of their country, or to bring a large amount of valuable experience to legislation. Many measures of practical, unobtrusive utility were passed, and a real check was put upon the extravagance of the executive. Had there been no Parliament—had the whole revenues of the country remained under the control of such statesmen as Newcastle or Walpole, there can be no reasonable doubt that the condition of Ireland would have been much worse. Some tens of thousands of pounds were annually squandered in scandalous pensions or sinecures; but still taxation was moderate, and it had little tendency to increase. A very able Englishman who was Chief Secretary under Lord Townshend has observed that since the first year of George II., for the space of fifty years, the only additional taxes imposed Edition: orig; Page: [342] in Ireland were some inconsiderable duties, appropriated to the payment of the interest and principle of the debt, and some small duties, the produce of which was specifically assigned to the encouragement of tillage or of some particular branch of Irish trade or manufacture.1 As in England, there were some constituencies which were really open, and in the first half of the eighteenth century the expenses at elections appear to have been extremely moderate. Some interesting letters are preserved describing a severely contested election which took place in 1713 in the great county of Londonderry, in which Joshua Dawson, the active Secretary of the Castle, was defeated. The writer speaks of the cost of this election as very great, yet he estimates the expenses of the victorious party at only 400l.2 The viceroys lived for most of their term of office in London; but the great mass of Government correspondence which is still extant shows that the Government officials discharged the ordinary duties of administration with considerable industry and fidelity.

The character of the poorer classes was forming under circumstances that were on the whole exceedingly unfavourable. It was impossible, as we have seen, that the habits of respect for law which had been already created in England, and which were gradually forming in Scotland, should have grown up under the shadow of the penal laws, and the conditions of the nation were equally unfavourable to the political and to the industrial virtues. But other qualities, which are, perhaps, not less valuable, were developed under the discipline of sorrow. In the earlier periods of Irish history, English writers constantly speak of the licentiousness of the people, and of their extreme laxity in marriage. Spenser, Campion, and Davis dwelt upon it Edition: orig; Page: [343] with equal emphasis. But in the eighteenth century such complaints had wholly ceased. Under the influence of the religious spirit which was now pervading the nation, a great moral revolution was silently effected. A standard of domestic virtue, a delicacy of female honour, was gradually formed among the Irish poor higher than in any other part of the empire, and unsurpassed, if not unequalled, in Europe. The very extension of poverty and mendicancy had produced among them a rare and touching spirit of charity, a readiness to share with one another the last crust and the last potato. Domestic affections were more than commonly warm. The memorable fact that in the present century not less than twenty millions of pounds have been sent back in the space of twenty years by those who went for the most part as penniless emigrants to America, to their relatives in Ireland,1 illustrates a side of the Irish character which was already noticed by many observers; and in modern times, concerning which alone we can speak with confidence, infanticide, desertion, wife-murder, and other crimes indicating a low state of domestic morality have been much rarer among the Irish poor than among the corresponding classes in England. The division of classes in the middle of the eighteenth century was still very deep, but very often where the landlord lived among his people, and treated them with kindness, the old clan spirit was displayed in an attachment as fervid, as uncompromising, and as enduring as was ever shown by the Highlander to his chief.

Religious convictions acquired a rare depth and earnestness. A strangely chequered character was forming, tainted with some serious vices, very deficient in industry and energy, in self-reliance, self-respect, and self-control, but capable of rising, under good leadership, to a lofty height of excellence, Edition: orig; Page: [344] and with its full share both of the qualities that attract and fascinate the stranger, and of the qualities that brighten and soften the daily intercourse of life. It was at once eminently passionate and eminently tenacious in its gratitude and its revenge. It rewarded kindness by a complete and life-long devotion. It bowed before the arrogance and transient violence of authority with a tame submission and absence of resentment scarcely conceivable to the Englishman, but when touched to the quick by serious wrong it was capable of the most savage, secret, and deliberate vengeance. A traditional religion strengthened its retrospective tendencies. No people brooded more upon old wrongs, clung more closely to old habits, were more governed by imagination, association, and custom. There was a strange and subtle mixture of rare stability of tendency and instinct, and of a vein of deep poetic, religious melancholy, with a temperament in many respects singularly buoyant, light-hearted and improvident, with great quickness, vividness, and versatility both of conception and expression. Catholicism, compelled to take refuge in mud hovels, associated with sordid poverty and degradation, and obliged to avoid every form of ostentation, was unable to become the instrument of æsthetic culture which it has proved in other lands; but every traveller was struck with the natural courtesy, the instinctive tact, the gay, hospitable, and cheerful manners of the Irish peasant, and with the contrast they presented to the deplorable poverty of his lot. The country was naturally very fertile, and the cheapness of provisions in some districts was probably exceeded in no part of Europe.1 This cheapness was, no doubt, on the Edition: orig; Page: [345] whole, an evil, and arose from the wretched condition of the country, which made it impossible for the farmer to find sufficient markets for his produce; but it, at least, secured in good years an abundance of the first necessaries of life, and stimulated the spirit of hospitality in the poorest cabin.1 Owing, probably, to the dense, smoky atmosphere of the hovels, in which a hole in the roof was often the only chimney, blindness was unusually common, and innumerable blind fiddlers traversed the land, and found a welcome at every fireside. Dancing was universal, and the poor dancing-master was one of the most characteristic figures of Irish life. Hurling was practised with a passionate enthusiasm. The love of music was very widely spread. Carolan, the last, and it is said the greatest, of the old race of Irish bards, died in 1737. When only eighteen, he became blind through the small-pox, and he spent most of his life wandering through Connaught. His fame now rests chiefly upon tradition, but all who came in contact with him appear to have recognised in him a great genius; and Goldsmith, who was fascinated by his music in early youth, retained his admiration for it to the end of his life.2

The gradual extension of roads was at the same time steadily reclaiming the west and south from Highland anarchy; the traditions and habits of civil war were slowly subsiding both among the conquerors and the conquered, and religious bigotry more rapidly diminished. It is, of course, impossible to mark out with accuracy the stages of this progress, but the fact is altogether incontestable. Few legislative bodies ever exhibited a more savage intolerance than the Irish Parliament in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. In the last quarter of the same century the Irish Parliament showed itself far more liberal in its dealings with Catholics than the Parliament of England, Edition: orig; Page: [346] and measures which would have been utterly impossible in England were carried with scarcely perceptible difficulty in Ireland. Duelling and drinking, though both scandalously prevalent, were steadily diminishing, and, before the century had closed, the Irish gentry appear to have been little more addicted to the latter vice than the corresponding class in England.1

What I have written may be sufficient to show that Irish life in the first half of the eighteenth century was not altogether the corrupt, frivolous, grotesque, and barbarous thing that it has been represented; that among many and glaring vices some real public spirit and intellectual energy may be discerned. It may be added that great improvements were at this time made in the material aspect of Dublin.

In the middle of the eighteenth century it was in dimensions and population the second city in the empire, containing, according to the most trustworthy accounts, between 100,000 and 120,000 inhabitants. Like most things in Ireland, it presented vivid contrasts, and strangers were equally struck with the crowds of beggars, the inferiority of the inns, the squalid wretchedness of the streets of the old town, and with the noble proportions of Edition: orig; Page: [347] the new quarter, and the brilliant and hospitable society that inhabited it. The Liffey was spanned by four bridges, and another on a grander scale was undertaken in 1753. St. Stephen's Green was considered the largest square in Europe. The quays of Dublin were widely celebrated, but the chief boast of the city was the new Parliament House, which was built between 1729 and 1739 for the very moderate sum of 34,000l., and was justly regarded as far superior in beauty to the Parliament House of Westminster. In the reigns of Elizabeth and of the early Stuarts the Irish Parliament met in the Castle under the eyes of the Chief Governor. It afterwards assembled at the Tholsel, in Chichester House, and during the erection of the Parliament House in two great rooms of the Foundling Hospital. The new edifice was chiefly built by the surveyor-general, Sir Edward Pearce, who was a member of the Irish Parliament, and it entitles him to a very high place among the architects of his time.1 In ecclesiastical architecture the city had nothing to boast of, for the churches, with one or two exceptions, were wholly devoid of beauty, and their monuments were clumsy, scanty, and mean; but the college, though it wanted the venerable charm of the English universities, spread in stately squares far beyond its original limits. The cheapness of its education and the prevailing distaste for industrial life which induced crowds of poor gentry to send their sons to the University, when they would have done far better to send them to the counter, contributed to support it,2 and in spite of great discouragement, it appears on the whole to have escaped the torpor which had at this time fallen over the universities of England. It is said before the middle of the century to have contained about 700 students.3 A laboratory and anatomical theatre Edition: orig; Page: [348] had been opened in 1710 and 1711. The range of instruction had been about the same time enlarged by the introduction of lectures on chemistry, anatomy, and botany, and a few years later by the foundation of new lectureships on oratory, history, natural and experimental philosophy. The library was assisted by grants from the Irish Parliament. It was enriched by large collections of books and manuscripts bequeathed during the first half of the eighteenth century by Palliser, Archbishop of Cashel, by Gilbert, the Vice-Provost and Professor of Divinity, and by Stearn, the Bishop of Clogher, and its present noble reading-room was opened in 1732.1 Another library—comprising that which had once belonged to Stillingfleet—had been founded in Dublin by Bishop Marsh, and was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1707.

The traces of recent civil war and the arrogance of a dominant minority were painfully apparent. The statue of William III. stood as the most conspicuous monument opposite the Parliament of Ireland. A bust of the same sovereign, bearing an insulting distich reflecting on the adherents of James,2 was annually painted by the corporation. The toast of ‘the glorious, pious, and immortal memory’ was given on all public occasions by the Viceroy. The walls of the House of Lords were hung with tapestry representing the siege of Derry and the battle of the Boyne. A standing order of the House of Commons excluded Catholics even from the gallery.3 The anniversaries of the Battle of Aghrim, of the Battle of the Boyne, of the Gunpowder Plot, and, above all, of the discovery of the rebellion of 1641, were always celebrated. On the last-named occasion, the Lord-Lieutenant went in full Edition: orig; Page: [349] state to Christ's Church, where a sermon on the rebellion was preached. At noon the great guns of the Castle were fired. The church bells were rung, and the day concluded with bonfires and illuminations. Like London and Edinburgh, Dublin possessed many elements of disorder, and several men were killed and several others hamstrung or otherwise brutally injured in savage feuds between the Ormond and the Liberty boys, between the students of the University and the butchers around St. Patrick, between the butchers and the weavers, and between the butchers and the soldiers. As in most English towns, bull-baiting was a very popular amusement, and many riots grew out of the determination of the populace to bait cattle that were being brought to market. Occasionally, too, in seasons of great distress there were outbreaks against foreign goods, and shops containing them were sacked. The police of the town seems to have been very insufficient, but an important step was taken in the cause of order by the adoption in 1719 of a new system of lighting the streets after the model of London, which was extended to Cork and Limerick. Large lanterns were provided at the public expense to be lighted in the dark quarters of the moon from half an hour after sunset till two in the morning, in the other quarters of the moon during which there had previously been no lights, whenever the moon was down or overshadowed.1 There was not much industrial life, but the linen trade was flourishing, a Linen Hall was built in 1728, and there was also a considerable manufactory of tapestry and carpets.

Among the higher classes there are some traces of an immorality of a graver kind than the ordinary dissipation of Irish life. In the early Hanoverian period a wave of impiety broke over both islands, and great indignation, and even consternation was excited in Ireland by the report that there existed in Dublin, among some men of fashion, a club called the ‘Blasters,’ or ‘The Hell-fire Club,’ resembling the Medmenham brotherhood which some years later became so celebrated in England. It Edition: orig; Page: [350] was not of native growth, and is said to have derived its origin, or at least its character, from a painter named Peter Lens, who had lately come into the kingdom, and who was accused of the grossest blasphemy, of drinking the health of the devil, and of openly abjuring God. A committee of the House of Lords inquired into the matter in 1737, and presented a report offering a reward for the apprehension of Lens, and at the same time deploring a great and growing neglect of Divine worship, of religious education, and of the observance of Sunday, as well as an increase of idleness, luxury, profanity, gaming, and drinking.1 The existence of the hell-fire club has been doubted, and the charges against its members were certainly by no means established, but there can be little question that the report of the Lords' Committee was right in its censure of the morals of many of the upper classes. The first Lord Rosse was equally famous for his profligacy and for his wit;2 and in 1739 Lord Santry was arraigned and found guilty of murder by the House of Lords, for having killed a man in a drunken fray.

The number of carriages in proportion to the population of the city was unusually great. It is said that as many as 300 filled with gentlemen sometimes assembled to meet the Lord-Lieutenant on his arrival from England.3 There were about Edition: orig; Page: [351] 200 hackney-carriages and as many chairs,1 and it was noticed as a singularity of Dublin, which may be ascribed either to the wretched pavement or to the prevailing habits of ostentation, that ladies scarcely ever appeared on foot in the streets.2 They were famous for their grace in dancing, as the men were for their skill in swimming.3 The hospitality of the upper classes was notorious, and it was by no means destitute of brilliancy or grace. No one can look over the fugitive literature of Dublin in the first half of the eighteenth century without being struck with the very large amount of admirable witty, and satirical poetry that was produced. The curse of absenteeism was little felt in Dublin, where the Parliament secured the presence of most of the aristocracy and of much of the talent of the country; and during the residence of the Viceroy the influence of a court, and the weekly balls in the winter time at the Castle, contributed to the sparkling, showy character of Dublin society. Dorset, Devonshire, and Chesterfield were especially famous for the munificence of their hospitality, and the unnatural restriction of the spheres of political and industrial enterprise had thrown the energies of the upper classes to an unhealthy degree into the cultivation of social habits.

On the whole, however, the difference between society in Dublin and in London was probably much less than has been supposed. An English lady who moved much in both, and whose charming letters furnish some of the best pictures of Irish life in the first half of the eighteenth century, writing from Dublin in 1731, says: ‘As for the generality of people that I meet with here, they are much the same as in England—a mixture of good and bad. All that I have met with behave themselves very decently according to their rank; now and then an oddity breaks out, but never so extraordinary but that I can match them in England. There is a heartiness among them that is more like Cornwall Edition: orig; Page: [352] than any I have known, and great sociableness.’1 Arthur Young, nearly half a century later, when drawing the dark picture I have already quoted, of the reckless and dissipated character of the Irish squireens, took care to qualify it by adding that ‘there are great numbers of the principal people residing in Ireland who are as liberal in their ideas as any people in Europe,’ and that ‘a man may go into a vast variety of families which he will find actuated by no other principles than those of the most cultivated politeness and the most liberal urbanity.’2 The ostentatious profusion of dishes and multiplication of servants at Irish entertainments which appeared so strange to English travellers, and which had undoubtedly bad moral effects, were merely the natural result of the economical condition of the country which made both food and labour extremely cheap.3 Another difference, which was perhaps more significant, was the greater mixture of professions and ranks;4 and the social position of artists and actors was perceptibly higher than in England. Handel was at once received with an enthusiastic cordiality, and Elrington, one of the best Irish actors of his day, refused an extremely advantageous offer from London in 1729 chiefly on the ground that in his own country there was not a gentleman's house to which he was not a welcome visitor.5

Booksellers were numerous; and the house of Faulkner, the friend and publisher of Swift, was for many years a centre of literary society. For the most part, however, they were not Edition: orig; Page: [353] occupied with native productions, but were employed in fabricating cheap editions of English books. As the Act of Anne for the protection of literary property did not extend to Ireland, this proceeding was legal, the most prominent English books were usually reprinted in Dublin, and great numbers of these reprints passed to the colonies. It is an amusing fact that when Richardson endeavoured to prevent the piracy by sending over for sale a large number of copies of ‘Pamela’ immediately on its publication, he was accused of having scandalously invaded the legitimate profits of the Dublin printers.1 ‘The Dublin News-letter,’ which seems to have been the first local newspaper, was published as early as 1685. ‘Pue's Occurrences,’ which obtained a much greater popularity, appeared in 1703, and there were several other papers before the middle of the century.2

The taste for music was stronger and more general than the taste for literature. There was a public garden for musical entertainments, after the model of Vauxhall; a music-hall, founded in 1741; a considerable society of amateur musicians, who cultivated the art and sang for charities;3 a musical academy, established in 1755, and presided over by Lord Mornington. Foreign artists were always warmly welcomed. Dubourg, the violinist, the favourite pupil of Geminiani, came to Dublin in 1728, and resided there for many years. Handel, as we have seen, first brought out his ‘Messiah’ in Dublin. Roubiliac, Edition: orig; Page: [354] at a time when he was hardly known in England, executed busts for the University. Geminiani came to Dublin about 1763. Garrick acted ‘Hamlet’ in Dublin before he attempted it in England. There were two theatres, and a great, and indeed extravagant, passion for good acting. Among the dramatists of the seventeenth century Congreve and Farquhar were both Irish by education, and the second, at least, was Irish by birth.1 Among the Irish actors and actresses who attained to great eminence on the English stage during the eighteenth century we find Wilkes, who was the contemporary and almost the equal of Betterton; Macklin, the first considerable reviver of Shakespeare; Barry, who was pronounced to be the best lover on the stage; Mrs. Woffington, the President of the Beefsteak Club; Mrs. Bellamy, whose memoirs are still read; as well as Elrington, Sheridan, and Mrs. Jordan. The Dublin theatres underwent many strange vicissitudes which it is not necessary here to record, but it may be mentioned as a curious trait of manners that when Sheridan had for a time reformed the chief theatre it was warmly patronised by the Protestant clergy. ‘There have been sometimes,’ he stated, ‘more than thirty clergymen in the pit at a time, many of them deans or doctors of divinity, though formerly perhaps none of that order had ever entered the doors, unless a few who skulked in the gallery disguised.’ In 1701 the fall of a gallery in the theatre during the representation of ‘The Libertine,’ one of the most grossly immoral of the plays of Shadwell, had produced for a time a religious panic, and the play was for twenty years banished from the stage; but in general there appears to have been little or Edition: orig; Page: [355] nothing of that puritanical feeling on the subject which was general in Scotland, and which in the present century became almost equally general among the clergy of Ireland.1

The civilisation of the nation was concentrated to a somewhat disproportionate extent in the capital, yet provincial life had already in its leading features more of its modern aspect than has sometimes been imagined. Resident country gentlemen, and especially improving country gentlemen, were much rarer than in England, but there were few counties in which some did not exist, and there were some parts of Ireland where they were numerous.2 Considerable attention was paid to the improvement of the roads. After about the first quarter of the eighteenth century the journals of the House of Commons are crowded with notices of works of this kind in almost every part of the country. When Whitefield visited Ireland for the first time in 1738 he was especially struck with the cheapness of the provisions and the goodness of the roads.3 An English traveller in 1764, who traversed the three provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster, states that he found no serious difficulty during his journey, that the roads were in general tolerably good for riding, but by no means equal to those in England for carriages, and that there were turnpikes on all the principal highways.4 In 1776 Arthur Young found their condition greatly improved, and described them as, on the whole, superior to those in England.5 Inland navigation was also considerably extended, especially in the counties of Armagh and Down.

Edition: orig; Page: [356]

There were the usual meetings of country gentlemen at the assizes; there were county races and county fairs, and long before the middle of the eighteenth century Dublin actors were accustomed to make their rounds by Mullingar, Clonmel, Carlow, and other county towns.1 A taste for private theatricals was very general about the middle of the century, and they were a favourite amusement in country houses.2 In the vicinity of Dublin highwaymen were numerous, but in the rest of the country they appear to have been at least as rare as in England, and in the worst periods of political disturbance and of Whiteboy outrages travellers were usually unmolested.3 The strong belief in the value of mineral waters which was then at its height in England extended to Ireland, and appears to have given some stimulus to travelling.4 The deer which once wandered in numbers over the mountains were growing rare. The last wolf was shot in Kerry in 1710.5 With the increased facilities of locomotion, and in part perhaps through the operation of the charter schools, the Irish tongue over large districts was rapidly disappearing. A very competent authority in 1738 states that not more than one person in twenty was ignorant of English;6 and another writer, who described the County of Down a few years later, declared that Irish was there only prevalent among the poorer Catholics, and that they showed a strong desire that their children should learn English.7 In the preceding century Bedell and Boyle had clearly seen that to translate the Bible and to spread the doctrines of Protestantism in the native language was the true method of encountering Catholicism in Ireland. The Lower House of Convocation in Edition: orig; Page: [357] 1703 passed a resolution desiring the appointment in every parish of an Irish-speaking minister. Archbishop King supported the plan. Trinity College made arrangements for eaching Irish to students. The English Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge gave some assistance; and two or three clergymen devoted themselves with eminent success to preaching to the people in their own tongue. The Government, however, which desired to eradicate the language, discountenanced their efforts. Several of the bishops in consequence threw obstacles in their way, and in the general religious apathy of the first Hanoverian reigns, they appear to have entirely ceased.1

A feeble provincial press had arisen, but it seems as yet to have been confined to three cities. The first Cork newspaper was published about 1716, and three or four others existed, though probably not simultaneously, in the next forty years. The ‘Waterford Flying Post’ was founded in 1729, the ‘Belfast News-letter’ in 1737, and English newspapers and periodicals were occasionally reprinted.2 Country gentlemen in the beginning of the century were everywhere very illiterate, and the wealthier members of the class among whom cultivation would most commonly be found were usually absentees, so that the little intellectual life in the provinces emanated chiefly from the clergy. The names of Swift, Berkeley, King, Madden, Parnell, Browne, and Skelton are sufficient to show how prominent they were among Irish writers. A Cathedral library had been founded at Kilkenny by Otway, Bishop of Ossory, in 1692, and others appear to have been established in the next half-century at Cork, Derry, and Raphoe.3

A serious and enduring change passed over the material Edition: orig; Page: [358] aspect of the country in the forty years that followed the Revolution, from the rapid destruction of its finest woods. The history of this destruction is a curious and a melancholy one. When the English first established themselves in Ireland no country in Europe was more abundantly wooded. According to Giraldus Cambrensis, the woodland even exceeded in extent the plain or open ground,1 and Spenser has commemorated, in lines of much beauty, this aspect of Irish scenery.2 In the long wars with the English these woods naturally played a great part; they were the favourite refuge of the natives, and it became a common saying that ‘the Irish could never be tamed while the leaves were upon the trees.’ At the close of the thirteenth century a law was enacted for cutting passages through the forests in order to repress the boldness of the Irish; and the policy of felling the woods, as a military measure, was afterwards pursued by the English on a gigantic scale during the wars under Elizabeth and in the long peace that followed.3 The confiscations that resulted from the Revolution almost completed the work. The new proprietors had none of the associations which attached the Irish to the trees that had sheltered their childhood and which their forefathers Edition: orig; Page: [359] had planted; and, fearing lest a political change should deprive them of their estates, they speedily cut down and sold the woods, and thus inflicted an almost irreparable injury on the country. Few subjects fill a larger place in the descriptions of the economical condition of Ireland in the last years of the seventeenth and the early years of the eighteenth century. The Commissioners appointed by Parliament to inquire into the disposal of the confiscated estates gave it a prominent place in their report. ‘Dreadful havoc,’ they wrote, ‘has been committed on the woods of the proscribed. … Those on whom the confiscated lands have been bestowed or their agents have been so eager to seize upon the smallest profits that several large trees have been cut down and sold for sixpence each. The destruction is still carried on in many parts of the country.’1 Trees to the value of 20,000l. were cut down, soon after the Revolution, upon the single estate of Sir V. Brown in Kerry.2 Wetenhall, who was Bishop of Kilmore from 1699 to 1713, distinguished himself by cutting down and selling for his own profit, timber on his diocesan property which would soon have attained an equal value. Hickman, who was Bishop of Derry from 1703 to 1713, was guilty of the same peculation.3 At the time of the great confiscations in Ulster one of the chief inducements held out to the English who were invited to settle on the old Irish territory was the abundance of the woods—‘the goodliest and largest timber, that might compare with any in his Majesty's dominions,’4 but before the century had closed the aspect of the country had wholly changed. A paper laid before the Irish House of Commons describes the immense quantity of timber that in the last years of the seventeenth century was being shipped from Coleraine and Belfast, and how the ‘great woods in the counties of Londonderry, Down, and Antrim were almost destroyed.’5 The Edition: orig; Page: [360] evil, in the years that followed the confiscation, was so great that an Act was passed under William enjoining the planting of a certain number of trees in every county,1 but it was insufficient to counteract the destruction which was due to the cupidity or the fears of the new proprietors. The iron-works planted by the English settlers after the Restoration, and pushed on with little or no regard for the permanent well-being of the country, continued the work.2 The destruction of the woods of Munster, which was begun on a large scale early in the seventeenth century by the Earl of Cork,3 was continued by the iron-works of Sir W. Petty,4 and in 1697 an able observer declared that the oldest and most magnificent timber was already ‘destroyed to such a degree that in twenty years there will hardly be left in all probability an oak in Ireland.’5 ‘Within these sixty years,’ wrote the historian of English commerce in 1719, ‘Ireland was better stocked with oak timber than we are now, but the iron-works set up there have in a few years swept away the wood to that degree that they have not small stuff enough left to produce bark for their tanning nor timber for common uses.’6

The state of agriculture was miserably low. A law of Edition: orig; Page: [361] Charles I., which is strikingly indicative of the barbarous condition of the nation, mentions and condemns the common practices of attaching ploughs and harrows to the tails of horses and of pulling off the wool from living sheep instead of shearing them.1 Both of these practices we have already detected in the Highlands of Scotland, and in Ireland the former custom long survived the law which condemned it. Sir W. Temple, in an essay published in 1678, speaks of it as very general.2 Madden, in 1738, noticed that it still lingered in some districts.3 Arthur Young, as late as 1777, found it common in the counties of Mayo and of Cavan,4 and tiaces of it in some remote quarters may be found even in the present century.5 Over a great part of Ireland towards the middle of the eighteenth century only a single kind of plough, and that of the most primitive description, was employed.6 A slow but steady improvement, however, had begun under the auspices of the Dublin Society. A gentleman named Edwards brought over some English farmers to teach the Irish tillage,7 and Bolton, Archbishop of Cashel, who died in 1744, and Hoadly, Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1746, are said to have both done good service to the country by draining bogs and improving husbandry.8 The extreme precariousness, however, of tenures, and the extreme ignorance and abject poverty of the cottiers, made great progress impossible. The detailed examination of Arthur Young showed that Irish husbandry continued still far inferior to that of England, though hardly, I think, to that of France; and a writer Edition: orig; Page: [362] who visited Ireland about the same time, notices that at Limerick the farmers habitually flung their manure into the Shannon, on the supposition that their land was already sufficiently rich.1 The great development of pasture was unfavourable to agriculture, but the cattle trade brought a considerable amount of wealth into the country. It was not until the dearth of 1758 that the Irish were allowed to send salted beef, pork, and butter to England, but the continental market was so great that the prohibition was probably but little felt, and most of the energy of the farmers was turned in this direction. A great advance, however, was made in gardening in the first half of the eighteenth century, and many new plants, fruits, and flowers were introduced.2

The linen manufacture also greatly increased, but especially in the North, where, the population being in a great degree Protestant, the paralysis of the penal laws was comparatively unfelt. The English Government gave it some real encouragement in the form of bounties, and Irish linen was admitted freely to England, while that of other countries was clogged by heavy duties. ‘In the reign of George II.,’ said a writer in 1760, ‘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.’3 Belfast, though still ranking very low in the list of Irish towns, was beginning to emerge into prominence. At the time of the execution of Charles I. its Presbytery courageously Edition: orig; Page: [363] published a protest against that act which appears to have excited some attention, and it was answered in a strain of great scurrility by Milton, who speaks very contemptuously of Belfast as ‘a barbarous nook of Ireland.’1 Belfast continued to be a great centre of Presbyterianism, and it was the scene of an important doctrinal schism in 1722. In 1707–8 when the Government were taking measures to ascertain the number of Catholics in each part of Ireland and to arrest the priests, the chief magistrate of Belfast wrote to the secretary Dawson that he had just thrown into gaol the only priest within his jurisdiction; and that, having had lists made of all the inhabitants, he had ascertained that there were not more than seven Papists living in the town and not more than 150 in the whole barony.2 In 1757, when the first regular census was made, Belfast contained 1,779 houses and 8,549 inhabitants, of whom but 556 were Catholics. The first barrack was erected in 1737, and in 1757 the town contained 399 looms.3

The fisheries seem to have been carried on with more energy than agriculture. They were stimulated by bounties granted by the Irish Parliament, and were probably in some degree fed by the smuggling trade, which produced a race of bold and skilful sailors. Towards the middle of the century, however, those of the southern coast had greatly fallen off, through the disappearance of the fish from their old haunts. Bantry had risen into a thriving town, chiefly in consequence of the great shoals of pilchards that frequented the bay, and several thousand pounds' worth were exported to Spain, Portugal, and Italy. But towards the middle of the century all this changed. For several years not a single pilchard was caught off the coast, and the town sank rapidly into decay. Dungarvan Edition: orig; Page: [364] experienced a similar vicissitude. In the first years of the eighteenth century it was frequented by numerous fishing-boats from different parts of Ireland, and even from England. Hake, a kind of fish between a cod and a haddock, appeared there in immense quantities; great numbers were transported to Spain, and the inhabitants were noted for their skill in curing them. The wasteful system of trailing nets, however, which was illegal in France, had been introduced into the Irish fisheries about 1738, and the destruction they caused among the seaweed and among the spawn is believed to have been one cause of the decline of the fisheries. However this may be, the fact is certain. Haddocks, which a few years before had been in great plenty in the neighbourhood of Dungarvan, almost disappeared. Hake had so diminished that, while a few years before a boatful of fishermen constantly took with hook and line 1,000 of these fish, with many others of other kinds in a single night, it had now become very rare to bring in half the quantity. Great shoals of herring had formerly visited the Irish coast, and a lucrative fishery had been established to the north of Waterford harbour, but this too had dwindled almost to nothing, and the same complaint of the disappearance of herrings was made from the north.1

Of county towns Cork, in the middle of the eighteenth century, was by far the most important. Its population at this time was probably not less than 60,000.2 In the middle of the seventeenth century it was still only fourth of the Irish towns, but, owing to its admirable harbour, and to the great trade Edition: orig; Page: [365] which had sprung up in beef, it had considerably outstripped both Waterford and Limerick. The exports of beef and butter from Cork in the middle of the eighteenth century are said to have been greater than those of any other city in the king's dominions. ‘From Michaelmas to Christmas,’ wrote a traveller, ‘a stranger would imagine it was the slaughter-house of Ireland.’1 Except the great natural beauty of its situation, it exhibited little or nothing to attract the eye of the artist, but it had all the animation of a gay, prosperous, and improving town. Two handsome bridges had been built over the Lee in 1712 and 1713. New barracks were erected in 1719. The cathedral, having fallen into decay, was wholly rebuilt between 1725 and 1735, and several other Protestant churches were about the same time erected or restored. There were several Catholic chapels, the two principal of which, in the north and south suburb, were both built in 1729. The town contained also a French church, a Quaker meeting-house, an Anabaptist and a Presbyterian chapel, as well as a great number of local charities. An important institution called the Green-coat Hospital, for the education of the poor, was founded in 1715. The advancing commercial prosperity was shown in the new exchange, in the new corn market, in the new shambles, in the canals that already intersected the city, in the great increase of the port revenue. There were two coffee-houses, supplied with English and Dublin newspapers; a good theatre, where Dublin actors performed during part of the summer; an assembly room, a Mall or public promenade, and a large bowling-green. The temper of the common people was said to be mild and humane, and the manners of the wealthier classes were closely imitated from those of Dublin. ‘Card-playing in the winter evenings,’ Edition: orig; Page: [366] says the writer I am following, ‘is an entertainment observed to be more used in Ireland among polite people than in England. The ladies are rather fonder of this amusement than the men … for which purpose here is a weekly drum, besides the assembly, where card-playing is intermixt with dancing. Besides the public concerts, there are several private ones, where the performers are gentlemen and ladies of such good skill that one would imagine the god of music had taken a large stride from the Continent over England to this island; for indeed the whole nation are of late become admirers of this entertainment, and those who have no ear for music are generally so polite as to pretend to like it. A stranger is agreeably surprised to find in many houses he enters Italic airs saluting his ears, and it has been observed that Corelli is a name in more mouths than many of our Lord-Lieutenants.’1

Of the other county towns the most important were Limerick, Waterford, and Kilkenny. The first, in the middle of the eighteenth century, is said to have contained 3,959 houses.2 It was divided, like many Irish cities, into an English and an Irish town. It retained a stronger Milesian character than any other considerable centre out of Connaught, and travellers found much in the customs of its inhabitants that reminded them of Spain.3 The provision of the penal code, which forbade Catholics from residing in Limerick without special permission, speedily became a dead letter. After 1724 the formality of registration was no longer exacted, and long before that date the population had become chiefly Catholic,4 though no special building for the Catholic worship was erected within Edition: orig; Page: [367] the walls till 1744.1 Much of the surrounding country was extremely wild and lawless, but the town itself seems to have seldom given serious trouble to the Government, and in 1760 it was declared no longer a fortress, and was dismantled. About 1736 we find a society, probably connected with that of Dublin, and comprising many of the leading gentry, instituted ‘for the improvement of tillage, arts, and manufacture,’ in the county, and occupied in distributing prizes for different branches of industry.2 The inhabitants of Limerick were accustomed to export serges to Spain and Portugal; they had a small glove manufactory, and a considerable trade in cattle, but for the most part they lived in great idleness. Like most Irish towns, Limerick had more than one place of amusement, and it was remarkable for the cheapness of its living. Arthur Young, writing in 1776, mentions the case of a gentleman with 500l. a year who kept ‘a carriage, four horses, three men, three maids, a good table, a wife, three children, and a nurse.’ The city was so poor that between 1740 and 1750 there were only four gentlemen's carriages in or about it, one of which belonged to the bishop, another to the dean, and a third to another Protestant clergyman.3 After the middle of the century, however, the beef trade, and with it the prosperity of the town, very greatly increased; and before the century had closed a local writer was able to dilate upon the many graceful country seats that already fringed the Shannon between Limerick and the sea, and upon the crowds of all ranks who resorted every summer to the superb cliff scenery on the coast of Clare.4

Waterford, though somewhat smaller than Limerick, was more actively commercial. It had a large fishery, and considerable Edition: orig; Page: [368] dealings with Newfoundland, while Kilkenny, which derived some wealth from the neighbouring coal mines, was noted for a school which was the most important in Ireland, for its manufactures of frieze, flannel, and druggets, for the purity of its air and water, and for its four annual fairs. Owing, perhaps, to the influence of the great though decaying family of Ormond, it possessed a more agreeable society than any other provincial town; it was the scene of numerous private theatricals,1 and it was early connected with Dublin by a turnpike road, with good inns at intervals of ten or twelve miles.2

There was one other provincial town which is deserving of a brief notice, for though less populous and wealthy than those I have mentioned, it had a great military and geographical importance, and its history presents features of considerable interest. Like Limerick, Galway had been subject to special provisions of the penal code, intended to make it an essentially Protestant town, and like Limerick, it was suffered to become almost exclusively Catholic. It had been provided that, after March 1703, no person of the Popish religion, except seamen, fishermen, and day labourers, who did not pay upwards of 40s. a year rent, should come to live within its walls; that no Papist should purchase any house or tenement in the city or in its suburbs, and that those who were living there at the date of the enactment should be compelled to find Protestant sureties for their good behaviour. The town, however, at this date was almost entirely Catholic. It was the capital of the wildest, the most untravelled, the most purely Catholic part of Ireland. It was far removed from the beaten track of commerce and civilisation, and in spite of the penal code it continued intensely Catholic, Celtic, and anti-English; the centre of a Edition: orig; Page: [369] great smuggling trade, the favourite landing-place of Popish ecclesiastics from the Continent, and of recruiting agents for the Irish brigade. The penal laws were, indeed, frequently enforced, but their intermittent action was more injurious to the prosperity than to the Catholicism of the town. In 1708, on the rumour of an intended invasion by the Pretender, all the Popish inhabitants were expelled, and many priests were imprisoned. In 1711, many ecclesiastics were again arrested, and the mayor was ordered to continue his ‘endeavours to banish the priests, those enemies of our constitution, out of the town, and cause those who were apprehended, to be prosecuted with the utmost rigour.’ In 1715 the Papists, except about twenty merchants, were once more turned out, and other severe measures were taken. The Protestant population was at this time put under arms, and it appeared that they mustered only 317 effective men. The stream of Catholic immigrants still flowed in, while the number of Protestants steadily diminished, and a large proportion of the rulers of the town were probably Catholics at heart, though in compliance with the law they had gone through the form of conversion. However this may be, a petition was presented to the Irish Parliament from some of the Protestant inhabitants in 1717, complaining bitterly that for some years past the majority of the corporation had favoured the Popish and discouraged the Protestant interest; that nunneries and other places of refuge for monks and priests were connived at in distinct defiance of the law, that by the notorious neglect of the magistrates great numbers of Papists were suffered to dwell in the city, that it was found impossible to obtain a jury of Protestant freeholders to try offenders against the code, and that in consequence of this state of things priests, friars, and dignitaries of the Church of Rome were continually landing. The House, after mature investigation, pronounced the allegations to be proved, and a Bill was carried to strengthen the Protestant interest in Galway. It offered special inducements to Protestants to settle in the town, extended the area from Edition: orig; Page: [370] which Protestant juries might be drawn, and imposed new and severe restrictions upon the election of town officers.

Galway was at this time under stern military government. Trade was subject to vexatious regulations, and the gates of the city were for a long time closed at four. In 1731 another raid was made on the monasteries and nunneries which were known to exist, but the monks and nuns had fled. Strict orders were at the same time given to arrest Popish bishops, monks, or other ecclesiastical persons found within the walls. From this time, however, a policy of toleration appears to have prevailed, and no measures of coercion were taken during the Scotch rebellion of 1745, though it was alleged that many made no secret of their sympathy with the Pretender. In 1747 and during several successive years the town was governed by Colonel Stratford Eyre, a member of a family of great local influence and a very vehement and aggressive Protestant. He had once received the thanks of Parliament for his activity in discovering friaries, and his letters from Galway give a curious picture of the condition of the town, and of the relations of the governors and the governed. ‘I act with all possible caution,’ he writes, ‘and Heaven knows how difficult it is to carry my cup even, when the Egyptians outnumber us thirty to one … In every corner of the streets I meet friars and priests, and last Wednesday and Saturday nights the Papists ran about 2,000l. of Indian goods, in defiance of law.’ He states that ‘there are in this town and suburbs above 180 Popish ecclesiastics;’ that ‘a large Popish chapel was building in the middle street;’ that within a pistol-shot of the walls there were three friaries, inhabited by about thirty friars, who appeared like other inhabitants in the streets, and who, though ‘they behave very quietly and inoffensively to outward show, may receive and convey intelligence to the enemy;’ that the mayor and corporation, and also ‘the poor, busy, 50l.-a-year vicar,’ were continually thwarting him in his efforts to enforce the law. Of the corporation he speaks with the utmost bitterness—‘all, put together, have not 1,000l. property in the world. They live on the corporation Edition: orig; Page: [371] revenues, they mortgage every year the tolls and customs … The mayor is the son of a man who was my Lord Tirawly's footman; one sheriff is a beggar, the other a shoemaker and a poor one, Alderman Ellis a broken dragoon, and the deputy recorder a poor, antiquated man of seventy, who is supported by the Papists.’ He complains very bitterly that they disobeyed his orders to arrest unregistered priests and friars, that they would not even billet soldiers upon the priests, that ecclesiastics just arrived from the Continent ‘appeared publicly in the streets; and to such a degree of insolence were the Papists grown in the town that one of them insulted a clergyman of the Established Church, others struck the town sheriff, and many notoriously interested themselves in the election of town magistrates, and appeared in plaid vests.’ Riots and mobs were frequent, and ‘within the last twelve months three sentinels had been knocked down, one of them by two Dominican friars, and the other two by Papists.’ The policy of Eyre was to bring more troops into the town, to enforce stringently the laws against priests and monks, and to revive the early closing of the gates of Galway, which had lately been abolished, and was extremely unpopular among the citizens.1

The Government, however, refused to pursue a course violently hostile to the great majority of the inhabitants, and from the very fragmentary correspondence that remains we may clearly gather that the highly-coloured assertions of this hotheaded and impulsive governor must be received with some caution. Among those who censured his policy, we find not only the corrupt corporation of Galway, but also the Prime Serjeant, the Bishop of Elphin, Lord Howth, and Lord Athenry. In the controversy between him and the mayor about the opening of the gates, the Government decided in Edition: orig; Page: [372] favour of the latter. It is also a suspicious fact that Eyre had some years before, for some reason which is not assigned, been deprived of the commission of the peace, and that the Government positively refused to reappoint him,1 and an incidental notice of a later period shows that some of the charges which he brought proved signally destitute of foundation.2 He was probably an honest and well-meaning man, but full of violent personal and religious animosities, intolerant of opposition, and much more fit for the command of a regiment than for the difficult task of governing a Catholic town.

The town was sinking rapidly into decay. Enterprise in every form had died out. The corporation, being narrowed to the utmost in order to keep the control of the city in the hands of a few Protestants, became even more corrupt than others in Ireland. Extortion and vexatious local taxation drove away the most energetic tradesmen, and great numbers of young fishermen emigrated. The whole aspect of the town became one of ruin and desolation. About the middle of the century the fortifications were entirely out of repair, the gates were falling from Edition: orig; Page: [373] their hinges, the main wall of the city was full of holes made by smugglers for the convenience of their trade. De Burgo, the historian of the Irish Dominicans, who was himself a native of Galway, stated about 1753 that he had heard from persons of credit then living that they had seen eighty merchant vessels in the Bay of Galway, but that in his own time there were scarcely three or four. In a report of the House of Commons in 1762 on the condition of the city, it was said that for about twenty years the trade of Galway had been rapidly declining, that from 1734 to 1738 its merchants had fourteen or fifteen ships at sea, but that in 1762 there were but three or four belonging to the town. The population of Galway was at this time estimated at 14,000, of whom scarcely 350 were Protestants.1

One of the most useful elements in Irish society in the first half of the eighteenth century was the large body of Protestant refugees who had come over from Germany and France. Such men were especially valuable on account of the many influences that were at this time driving native talent and energy to the Continent. They were of two kinds—French refugees expelled from their country after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and German Palatines who were brought over in 1709.

Of the latter there is not much to be said. They consisted of rather more than 800 families, chiefly of the humblest classes, and they were settled for the most part in the counties of Limerick and Kerry, where they appear to have occupied themselves exclusively with agriculture. They were brought over by a few considerable landlords, assisted by a small grant from the Irish Parliament,2 and unlike the native Irish they usually obtained their farms at leases of three lives and at low rents. The experiment was only moderately successful. As early as 1711 we find the House of Lords lamenting, the load of debt which the nation had incurred ‘in bringing over numbers Edition: orig; Page: [374] of useless and indigent Palatines;’ and Arthur Young, who visited the German settlements sixty-four years later, reports that although they had undoubtedly greatly improved their farms, they had done so to a less extent than the natives on the rare occasions in which the latter had been treated with a similar indulgence.1 The Germans continued for about three-quarters of a century to preserve their distinct identity and customs, and even appointed a burgomaster to settle their disputes; they usually adhered to some Nonconformist type of Protestantism, but lived on good terms and often intermarried with their Catholic neighbours, were peaceful and inoffensive in their habits, and without exercising any wide or general influence upon Irish life were honourably distinguished from the population around them by their far higher standard of sobriety, industry, and comfort. As agriculturists they were greatly superior to the natives; they introduced a wheelplough, and a new kind of cart, and appear to have practised drill husbandry earlier than any other class in Ireland. They were not however, generally imitated. A great part of their superiority seems to have been due to the very exceptional advantages they enjoyed, and when in the course of time their leases fell in, and they passed into the condition of ordinary Irish tenants, the colony rapidly disappeared.2

The part which was played by the French refugees was a much more distinguished one. They came over in great numbers after the Revolution, and are said to have comprised an unusually large proportion of members of the higher classes. The Irish Parliament passed in 1692 and renewed in 1697 an Act giving them perfect freedom of worship. There were no less than three French congregations established in Dublin. There Edition: orig; Page: [375] were congregations in Cork, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Lisburn; and Portarlington, which was built on land granted to Ruvigny, the Earl of Galway, became in a great degree a French settlement. Most of the exiles conformed to the Established Church, and translated its liturgy into their own language. They threw themselves very actively into every form of industry, and identified themselves thoroughly with Irish interests. As we have already seen, the first literary journal in Ireland was edited by a French pastor, and the first florists' society was established by refugees. The linen manufacture, which is the most important branch of Irish industry, owed to them very much of its extension and prosperity. The silk manufacture was introduced into Ireland from the French colony at Spital-fields. Portarlington became noted for its schools, great numbers of pupils being attracted by the opportunity of learning French, which was the common language of the town. Among the refugees who ultimately took up their abode in Ireland was Abbadie, who became Dean of Killaloe, and whose treatise on the truth of the Christian religion was pronounced by Pitt to be the most powerful defence of the faith.1 Cavalier, though he died in England, was brought over to Ireland, and rests among his friends in the refugee burial-ground near Stephen's Green.2 Crommelin received the thanks of Parliament and a donation of 10,000l. for the eminent service he had done the country in the establishment of the linen manufacture.3 The name of Latouche has for more than a century been foremost in every good work in Ireland, and the family who bore it were long the most prominent bankers in Dublin. Barré, who distinguished Edition: orig; Page: [376] himself at the siege of Quebec, and who was conspicuous in English parliamentary life during the early years of George III., was a member of a refugee family in Dublin, and the families of De Vœux, Lefanu, L'Estrange, Maturin, Saurin, and Lefroy all rose in different ways to some distinction. A school for the education of the children of impoverished refugees was established in Dublin in 1723, and still existed in 1818; and in the beginning of the nineteenth century French churches founded by refugees still existed in Dublin, Cork, and Lisburn. In Portarlington the service was celebrated in French till 1816, when it was found that the language had almost died out. Even at the present day the French names of many of its inhabitants, and the title of French Church still retained by one of its places of worship, preserve the memory of its Huguenot origin.1

It is not surprising that the amount of crime and disorder in the country should have been very considerable. Extreme poverty, nomadic habits, the antagonism of law and religion, recent civil war, and the prevalence of smuggling were obvious causes, and there was another influence peculiar to Irish life. While the more enterprising members of the innumerable families that were driven from their ancestral properties found honourable careers upon the Continent, most of the feebler and the baser elements remained. Ejected proprietors whose names might be traced in the annals of the Four Masters, or around the sculptured crosses of Clonmacnoise, might be found in abject poverty hanging around the land which had lately been their own, shrinking from servile labour as from an intolerable pollution, and still receiving a secret homage from their old tenants. In a country where the clan spirit was intensely strong, and where the new landlords were separated from their tenants by race, by religion, and by custom, these fallen and impoverished Edition: orig; Page: [377] chiefs naturally found themselves at the head of the discontented classes; and for many years after the Commonwealth, and again after the Revolution, they and their followers, under the names of tories and rapparees, waged a kind of guerilla war of depredations upon their successors.1 After the first years of the eighteenth century, however, this form of crime appears to have almost ceased; and although we find the names of tories and rapparees on every page of the judicial records, the old meaning was no longer attached to them, and they had become the designations of ordinary felons, at large in the country. The tradition of the original tories, however, had a very mischievous effect in removing the stigma from agrarian crime, while, on the other hand, the laws against them bore clear traces of the convulsions of civil war. Felons at large were proclaimed by the grand juries ‘tories in arms and on their keeping.’ By a law of 1697, any tory who killed two other proclaimed tories, was entitled to his pardon.2 By a law which was enacted in 1717, and which did not finally expire till 1776, the same indulgence was conceded to any tory who brought in the head of one of his fellows.3 When Bishop Nicholson first visited his diocese in the north, he found the heads of numerous rapparees placed in all the northern counties over the gaols, and their quarters (for they were executed as for treason) gibbeted through the country.4 Small bands of armed men might be found in many districts attacking houses and levying black mail. Thus, in 1705, a band under a noted tory named Callihan — numbering at one time five or six, at another as many as fourteen men—infested the counties of Kerry and Cork. In the same year a magistrate of Dungannon speaks of about fifty tories who were then out in the country. In 1725 a band of this kind hovered about the Edition: orig; Page: [378] mountains where the Queen's county, the county of Kilkenny, and the county of Carlow touch. In 1739 and 1740 a large band struck terror through the county of Carlow. In 1743 the horrors of famine produced a great increase of highway robbery, and in 1760 a formidable party of agrarian criminals, under a leader known as Captain Dwyer, committed numerous outrages in Tipperary.1

In these facts, however, there is little that was distinctive or peculiar to Ireland. If a bishop had occasionally to be escorted through the mountain passes by guards as he travelled to his diocese, if in advertisements of county fairs we sometimes find notices that the roads on these occasions would be specially protected, such incidents might easily have happened in England. The neighbourhood of London swarmed with highwaymen, and many parts of England were constantly infested by bands which hardly differed from the Irish rapparees.2 The Whiteboy movement had not yet arisen; the magistrates were on the whole active and efficient, and over about five-sixths of Ireland, life and property during the first half of the eighteenth century appear to have been little less secure than in England.

Edition: orig; Page: [379]

The condition of the remaining part was, however, very different. In the greater part of the county of Kerry, in the more remote districts of the counties of Cork and Limerick, and in a very large section of Connaught, a state of society subsisted to which we find no parallel in England, but which bore a striking resemblance to that which was then existing in the Highlands of Scotland. These districts—consisting almost exclusively of wild mountains and bogs, doomed by the nature of the soil to great poverty, traversed by few or no regular roads, far removed from all considerable centres of civilised life, and inhabited chiefly by a wild and wretched population of Catholics—lay virtually beyond the empire of the law. Smuggling was the one lucrative trade, and it was practised equally by landlord, middleman, and tenant, by Catholic and Protestant. The officers of the revenue were baffled by a conspiracy of all classes, and informers were in such danger from popular outrage that they soon abandoned their trade. In the deep natural harbours among the mountains, privateers found their shelter, priests and friars from the Continent landed in safety, recruits were shipped by hundreds for the service of France, and the finest native wool was exchanged for the wines and brandies of the South. Here and there barracks were built, but regular soldiers employed to discharge police functions were in such a country very inefficient. From time to time some half-starved robber appeared with the bloody head of his comrade, claiming pardon and asking for reward or at least for food. From time to time tory hunts were undertaken in the mountains, but in the face of a sullen or hostile population they had little result. An English officer writing to the Government from Newcastle in Kerry, in 1703, gives a graphic picture of the exploits that were common. He had received information that a famous tory named Teige Finagan had sprained his leg, and was now to be found sheltered either in a hut that was pointed out or in a neighbouring haystack. He at once despatched a corporal with six men to arrest him. They went first to the haystack, but he happened to be in the hut, and at once rushed out at Edition: orig; Page: [380] the alarm. ‘My men,’ writes the officer, ‘were so eager for the sport’ that they all fired at once; but though the distance ranged from twenty to five paces, they all missed him except one, who shot him through the body between the shoulders. In spite of his sprained leg, in spite of the blood that streamed from the wound, he darted like an arrow across the bogs and mountains, the soldiers rapidly pursuing. The race lasted for no less than five miles. Village after village was passed; at least 200 persons saw the chase, but not a hand was stretched to arrest the fugitive, who at last disappeared among the wild crags of Glenflesk, leaving the mortified soldiers to console themselves by the reflection that he must necessarily die from the loss of blood.1

The laws against Catholics having arms were here utterly disregarded; the humblest cottier, if he had nothing else, had at least the long skean or Irish knife, and the old clan spirit still continued a living reality. There were chiefs of the old lineage who could always find among their wild, smuggling tenants a sufficient force to defy the law. Glenflesk near Killarney had a reputation very like that of Glencoe in Scotland, as a nest of thieves and smugglers; and ‘so,’ wrote an experienced Kerry officer, ‘it will always be till nine parts of ten of O'Donohue's old followers be proclaimed and hanged on gibbets on the spot.’2 The mountains round Bantry Bay were long the favourite resort of smugglers, privateers'-men, and deserters, the scene of numerous acts of lawless violence.3 The grand jury of the county of Limerick reported in 1724 to the Lords Justices that one Butler, of Ballymuty, in a remote district of that county, had his house full of arms, had gathered around him a clan of desperate persons, had committed many outrages, and had hitherto withstood every attempt to arrest him.4 One of the great grievances of the Catholics was a quit-rent Edition: orig; Page: [381] due to the Crown, charged upon all confiscated lands which had reverted to them at the Restoration. By the original Act of Settlement of 1662 it was charged on all lands conquered from Irish rebels and granted to soldiers or adventurers; but by the Act of Explanation of 1665, ‘innocent Papists,’ who had taken no part in the rebellion, were also made liable to it, though the Protestant proprietors, whose land was restored under similar circumstances, were exempted.1 Every device was employed to evade the payment, and the quit-rent collector was one of the most unpopular men in Ireland. An unfortunate member of this class, who had tried to enforce the law in the wildest districts of Kerry, has left, in some petitions to the Government and in some depositions before the magistrates, a curious picture of the terror exercised over the districts between Killaney and Kenmare by Daniel Mahony of Dunlow, a great middleman on the estate of Lord Shelburne. His house was regularly fortified, and was the most formidable stronghold in the county except Ross Castle. His tenants numbered, according to one account, 3,000, according to another 4,000 persons, all of the Popish religion; and he had always at least eighty men ready at the shortest notice to do his bidding. They were known as ‘Daniel Mahony's fairesses,’ and they waged an implacable war against collectors of hearth-money or quit-rent, gaugers, informers, bailiffs, and against all persons who had become obnoxious either to their master or to his friends. Dressed in women's clothes, with their faces blackened, and armed with stout hazel sticks, they went abroad by night, attacking houses, beating their victims, and compelling them by repeated ill-usage to abandon the country. On one occasion, the deponent avers, no less than sixty ‘fairesses’ went through the town of Killarney searching the houses in hopes of finding him. Lord Shelburne never visited the country. His rents appear to have been regularly paid, and his name, therefore, rather served to strengthen than to weaken his great tenant; Edition: orig; Page: [382] who also ‘paid such annuities to counsellors-at-law and attorneys that, be it right or wrong, he carries all before him and suppresses all his adjacent neighbours, especially those that will not humble themselves before him,’ and who soon acquired such ‘mighty power that no Papist in the kingdom of Ireland hath the like.’1

In Connaught there were large districts, if possible, even more lawless than Kerry. A traveller in 1709 declared that ‘the Sheriff of the county scarce dare appear on the west side of Galway bridge,’2 and even in the middle of the eighteenth century, the district known as Eyre Connaught lying to the west of Galway was still almost entirely without roads, inhabited by a wild and half-savage population of smugglers and wreckers.3 As late as 1747 Governor Eyre declared that Robert Martin, ‘a most dangerous, murdering Jacobite,’ could ‘bring, in twenty-four hours, to the gate of Galway, 800 villains as desperate and as absolutely at his devotion as the Camerons of Lochiel.’4

It was in Connaught that the one great explosion of agrarian crime during the period we are considering broke out. The practice of houghing or slaughtering cattle began in the early part of 1711 in the county of Galway, and spread with great rapidity through the counties of Mayo and Clare, and through part of the counties of Roscommon and Sligo. Of the causes that produced it, some, at least, are sufficiently manifest. The growth of pasture was restricting more and more the means of subsistence of the people, and a new tenantry from the plains had been planted among them who were raising the price of land, introducing new ways of life into the province, outraging the clan spirit, and steadily driving the natives to the mountains. Edition: orig; Page: [383] In the Highlands of Scotland, as we have seen in a former chapter, it was practically impossible at this time for any stranger to settle among the clans. His life was at once in danger, he was sure to be exposed to violence and plunder, and one of the most common forms of Highland depredation was mutilating or killing cattle.1 In the wild western districts of Ireland a similar spirit prevailed, and another cause contributed to make the poorer classes look with great favour on these outrages. In a single night hundreds of sheep or cows lay dead or hamstrung upon the fields. Markets were far off, and the famished cottiers, who, in the morning, pressed eagerly to the spot, usually succeeded without much difficulty in obtaining gratuitously or for a few pence a meal for their families.2

Whether these causes were the only ones that produced the Connaught houghing, will always remain doubtful. It is at least certain that the movement was organised with the skill and conducted with the resolution and the energy of a regular insurrection. It was noticed that among those who were known or suspected to be houghers were men in the position of gentlemen. Almost all who were arrested were able to read and write. Large bail was freely offered for the prisoners, and large sums seemed always ready if it were possible by bribes to unlock the prison-door. There were few or no outrages on human beings, but bands of men, usually on foot, though sometimes on horseback, silently traversed the country by night, houghing or slaughtering cattle by hundreds. Very often their faces were blacked. On one occasion a shepherd in the county of Gralway, having concealed himself, saw eight men, well mounted, wearing white shirts over their clothes, and with white linen bands tied low about Edition: orig; Page: [384] their heads, ride into a park and deliberately kill the sheep. It appeared, from the confessions of some who were arrested, that there was a regular discipline among them, that they had their captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, that pay was distributed among the men. Soon the name of Captain Eaver was spread abroad as that of their leader. Ballads were sung in his honour. Threatening letters, signed by his name, intimidated witnesses, denounced prompt vengeance against all new stock-masters, and enjoined the shepherds, on pain of having their houses burnt, to remain within doors by night. The outrages extended over such a large area, and were perpetrated by such formidable parties and with such secrecy and promptitude that the obnoxious farmers were almost helpless. Some of them paid black mail, in order to save their flocks, and the money thus raised contributed to support the organisation.

It was evident that the movement was planned and conducted by men of no mean intelligence and audacity, and it was equally evident that almost the whole population were in its favour. Its nearly simultaneous appearance in five counties almost paralysed the law, and the terrified magistrates feared, with much reason, that it was not purely agrarian, but was the prelude to a general insurrection. Reports of the most alarming kind were abroad. ‘It is a general rumour,’ wrote the High Sheriff of Galway, ‘in my county, that there are several men with scarlet clothes, and that speak French, who go up and down the country by night. The gentlemen of the country are in great fear and apprehension.’1 A magistrate in Roscommon wrote that it was certain that Irish French officers were landed in his neighbourhood by privateers, that they were supported by greater people than the mob, that some considerable men out of France were lurking and sheltered in the country, and it was feared they would outbid the Government in the rewards they offered.2

In November 1711, at a time when the houghing was at its Edition: orig; Page: [385] height, a soldier of the Galway garrison, who was shooting not far from the town, met a considerable armed party. The leader had a gold ring on his hand and gold in his purse. He called the soldier by his name, said he had met him in Dublin, and tried to induce him to join the party. He took nothing from him but his powder, and even this he at last consented to restore, saying they had abundance of ammunition; and he dismissed him, unharmed, with a message, warning the Governor that if any attempt were made to pursue them, the officer who led the party would be assuredly decapitated.1 Nearly at the same time a pedlar in the county of Mayo appeared before the magistrates, and informed them that within three miles of Ballinarobe he had been stopped by a party of no less than eighteen men, well armed and with disguised faces, who obliged him to open his box of linen and other wares, purchased his goods with ready money at his own rate, and then dismissed him, after compelling him to swear that he would not reveal what he had seen for twenty-four hours.2 All these reports seemed to point to a military movement. In a country of pathless mountains and bogs, open along a long line of coast to privateers from the Continent, disarmament was impossible; and, in spite of the laws, it was well known that Connaught was full of weapons.

The magistrates, however, exerted themselves with great promptitude. Large rewards were offered for the apprehension of houghers. Orders were given to burn the flesh of the slaughtered animals, in order that the cottiers should derive no benefit from the crime, to compensate the owners by rates levied on the district, to arrest all night-walkers, all who travelled in the daytime without a pass beyond their parishes, all idlers who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and finally to execute rigidly the laws against the priests. There is no evidence of any real value that the priests, Edition: orig; Page: [386] as a body, were concerned in the movement, but it is probable that some of them sympathised with it; it was natural that they should be the first objects of suspicion to a violently Protestant magistracy, and it is by no means surprising that they seldom ventured to take any step in the interests of the law or of the landlords that could offend the congregations on whom they depended absolutely for their subsistence. In most districts, when attempts were made to arrest them, they absconded; but in Roscommon eight were thrown into prison. About a month later we find them petitioning for release, on the ground that they were most, if not all, so poor that they could not long subsist of themselves, that no cattle had been houghed in the parts where they were registered, and that so far from encouraging the practice, they looked on it with the strongest reprobation.1 A discoverer who, by order of the Government, employed himself in inquiring into the names and sentiments of the priests of Galway, and who appears to have succeeded in entering into relations with many of them, reported, from Tuam, to the Lord-Lieutenant that he had never heard that any priest exhorted against houghing, but had heard that some prayed for Eaver. One Father Fliggan at mass had openly prayed for Eaver, and the discoverer was told that a parish priest near Tuam, named Edmund Burke, had preached a sermon, ‘earnestly exhorting the rich and stockmasters to reduce their flocks, and to let their lands to the poor people. He enlarged with much eloquence in praise of Eaver, and extolled his Christian and charitable undertakings, all which tend to relieve the poor from the oppression of the rich.’ The discoverer adds, however, that a priest who was present expressed great indignation at this sermon.2 Gilbert Ormsby, an old magistrate in the county of Roscommon, who was very active at this time, ascribed the crime, though apparently on very slender grounds, chiefly to the priests; and his very characteristic letters to the Government Edition: orig; Page: [387] are a curious illustration of the sentiments prevailing among some who as magistrates were exercising, in time of peace, an almost despotic authority over large Catholic populations. ‘It appears evidently,’ he says, ‘that the priests have been at least conniving in all this villany.’ He urges that ‘nothing can contribute more to the preventing this mischief than the total prohibiting of masses, for 'tis there they meet and concert their villany, and our discoverer affirms that several of the houghers have confessed their wickedness to the priest and received absolution.’ ‘I reckon,’ he says in another letter, ‘that all our unhappiness and misfortune proceeds from the priests, to whom the greater men communicate their designs, and they stir up the common people to execute them; nor do I believe we shall ever be safe and quiet till a wolf's head and a priest's head be at the same rate. Such a time I remember, and then there was not a quieter populace in the world than the Irish.’1 Another active magistrate of the same county, who was in general violently opposed to the priests, wrote, ‘I have no examination or evidence that the Popish priests advise these practices. No doubt they would be pleased to see the land planted with people instead of the stock, because it is their only profit; yet I am told they exhort their people against this practice. If it has effect, I will believe them.’2

The houghing suddenly ceased in 1713. Though many persons were arrested, the difficulty of obtaining evidence was very great, but a few prisoners were convicted and executed, and two or three confessions were obtained. The disturbances did not spread to other parts of Ireland, and as no Jacobite movement ensued it is probable that they had no political significance. Edition: orig; Page: [388] With this exception, we find in the first sixty years of the eighteenth century but few traces of that agrarian crime which some years later became so conspicuous, though the country was on the whole less organised and civilised, and though most of the elements of disorder were more rife. The bands of tories in the mountains were sometimes recruited by desperate men who landed from privateers, and by deserters from the English army.1 The deep channel which divides the island of Valentia from the mainland was long a secure refuge for privateers, and their devastations were so extensive that in 1711 the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Kerry petitioned that 250l. might be levied upon them for the purpose of rebuilding the old fort at Valentia.2 The position of a loyal Catholic gentleman in these districts was indeed peculiarly trying, for while he was perpetually exposed to plunder, he was forbidden by law to keep arms for his defence, and was at the same time compelled to pay for the damage that was done to his Protestant neighbours. The army itself was not always on the side of order, and there are several signs that the high modern standard of military discipline had been by no means attained. In 1710, at the time when the Church quarrels under Queen Anne were at their height, a number of the officers quartered at Limerick went to the house of the bishop and to the house of a conspicuous Tory alderman, ‘making a grievous noise, and there drank confusion, damnation, plague, pestilence and famine, battle, murder, &c., to all archbishops, bishops, and priests, and to Dr. Sacheverell and all his well-wishers.’ On another occasion, as a Limerick magistrate complained to the Government, in the dead of the night ‘they got together a pack of about twenty couples of hounds and a fox, went first to the bishop's house with them, and led the fox three or four times round his house, the dogs in full cry and three hunting horns winding, which very much frightened my Lord Bishop and his family, Edition: orig; Page: [389] being fast asleep when the noise began.’1 The officers of a dragoon regiment which was quartered at Dungannon, having quarrelled with an inhabitant of the town, they drew out their soldiers, marched against his house, fired into it, broke it open and wrecked it, in spite of all the remonstrances of the Provost of the town.2 On another occasion, two soldiers having been imprisoned in Ballinarobe, a party of soldiers stormed the gaol, released their comrades, and shot dead a constable who opposed them.3 Wesley in his Journal relates the following incident which had just taken place at Bandon when he visited that town in 1785: ‘A soldier walking over the bridge met a countryman, and taking a fancy to his stick strove to wrest it from him. His companion knocked the soldier down. News of this being carried to the barracks, the whole troop of soldiers marched down and without any provocation fell upon the countrymen coming into the town, pursued them into the houses where they fled for shelter and hacked and hewed them without mercy. Forty-two were wounded, several maimed, and two killed on the spot.’4

The condition of the prisons was very insecure and the great number of escapes from them no doubt contributed largely to the encouragement of crime. Nor was the mismanagement shown only in the ordinary gaols. At Kinsale there was a great establishment for French prisoners of war which appears to have exhibited every kind of shameful irregularity. In 1710 one of its directors complained that the prison was so bad and that the sentinels were so corrupt that ten, twenty, even thirty men sometimes escaped in a month or six weeks.5 On the other hand Lord Inchiquin having a few months later investigated the condition of the prison reported to the Lord Lieutenant that the conduct of the officers in charge of it was such ‘that several hundreds of the poor wretches perished in prison for want of those necessaries that the Queen's allowance was very Edition: orig; Page: [390] sufficient to have supplied them with, that the bread given them a hungry boy could not eat, that their meat was little better, in great scarcity, and not half boiled,’ ‘that no proper necessaries were allowed for the sick,’ and that ‘sick and well lay promiscuously together crowded in dirty cellars which were hardly ever cleaned out.’1 In 1747 a fearful catastrophe took place at Kinsale, when the prison having accidentally caught fire no less than fifty-four unhappy Frenchmen perished in the flames.’2

There was one form of outrage prevalent in the eighteenth century which is worthy of special notice, both as exhibiting the extremely lawless, condition of a part of the country and also as furnishing a remarkable example of a form of crime which was once inveterate in the national life, but which has been so completely extirpated that its very memory and tradition have almost passed away. I mean forcible abduction, and especially the abduction of heiresses. The extent of this crime has, it is true, been exaggerated. In a large part of Ireland it seems to have been almost or altogether unknown, but still it was frequent, widely diffused, and regarded by public opinion with a very scandalous toleration. It had many different degrees of enormity. Sometimes it was committed with the consent of the weaker party and this method was employed to overcome the resistance of her parents. Sometimes it was the end of an unfortunate courtship, and the girl was dragged away by the man whom she had refused. Sometimes when a girl in the opinion of her neighbours had remained too long unmarried they selected her husband, stormed her cabin, and compelled her by terror to marry him. In part of Ireland a strange custom existed on these occasions of summoning the competitors to a hurling match and allotting the girl as a prize to the winner.3 The worst cases, however, were those which were inspired either by vengeance or more commonly by a desire for gain. An unmarried Edition: orig; Page: [391] married woman who was known to possess some small fortune was attacked in her own or her father's house in the dead hours of the night by bands of five, ten, or twenty armed ruffians, dragged screaming from her bed, thrown across the neck of a horse before the man who desired to marry her, and thus carried away to some wild district among the bogs or mountains, where after sometimes days of captivity, far removed from all help, and terrified by threats of dishonour, she consented to go through the marriage service. Cases of this aggravated description were not common, but they did occur, and, by a strange perversion of the moral sentiment, a man who ran away by force with an unwilling heiress to make her his wife seems to have been looked upon, at least by the peasantry, with very little disapprobation. In a few cases these abductions were committed by bands of robbers, and were probably inspired by a desire for ransom, or by simple lust. More frequently the perpetrators and the victims both belonged to the class of cottagers, but it was by no means unusual for men in the position of gentlemen, and even for landed proprietors to be concerned in them, and middlemen and squireens appear in this as in other forms of Irish crime to have been prominent. The audacity of some of the criminals was extraordinary. Thus in 1718, when Rebecca White was carried away from the county of Tipperary, the place which the captors selected to deposit her in was the public barrack at Pallas.1 In 1741, an old lady named Elizabeth Dobbin was seized at nine in the morning, in the important town of Belfast, and carried to the scarcely less important town of Carrickfergus, where the marriage ceremony was performed.2 But the most wonderful of these instances of the audacious defiance of law was that of Henry Grady, of the county of Limerick, who had been outlawed for the abduction of Susannah Grove. Nothing, I believe, is known of the motive of the crime or of the circumstances or previous relations of the Edition: orig; Page: [392] parties, but the lady had either been rescued or had escaped when the following scene took place. On a Sunday in the June of 1756, the Rev. John Armstrong was celebrating Divine Service in the Protestant church in the town of Tipperary, Susannah Grove being among the congregation. In the midst of the service Henry Grady, accompanied by a body of men armed with blunderbusses, pistols and other weapons, entered the church, called out to the congregation that anyone who stirred would at once be shot, struck the clergyman on the arm with a hanger and cut through his surplice and gown, and hastening to the pew where Susannah Grove was sitting, dragged her out. The party then retired slowly with their faces turned and their arms presented towards the congregation, shut and locked the door of the church and carried away the key.1

These anecdotes evince a condition of extreme lawlessness in the country, but an attempt has recently been made to take them out of the category of ordinary crime, and to attribute to them a much deeper significance. They have been represented as an organised form of guerilla warfare, carried on by Catholics against Protestants, with the full sanction of their Church, for the purpose of avenging the confiscations of property and obtaining converts to Popery. In the words of the writer to whom I am referring, a ‘set of young gentlemen of the Catholic persuasion were in the habit of recovering equivalents for the land of which they considered themselves to have been robbed, and of recovering souls at the same time to Holy Church, by carrying off young Protestant girls of fortune to the mountains, ravishing them with the most exquisite brutality, and then compelling them to go through a form of marriage, which a priest was always in attendance ready to celebrate.’ ‘The priests, secure in the protection of the people, laughed at penalties which existed only on paper, and encouraged practices which brought converts to the Faith and put money in their own pockets.’ ‘These outrages,’ we are told, ‘were acts of war, done in open day in the face of the whole people, and supported Edition: orig; Page: [393] by their sympathy.’ They were ‘encouraged by the clergy, and much in favour with general society,’ and they form a complete justification of the whole penal code, by which the Irish Parliament ‘strove to uproot a system from the soil which shielded the most atrocious of crimes.’1

We have here then a very definite charge, and a graver or more horrible one was probably never brought against a Christian Church. I propose to examine with some care the evidence on which it rests. Situated as the different religious bodies were in Ireland, it was natural that the dominant sect should have the strongest disposition to magnify the religious element in crime. Religious animosity flamed fierce and high. In the eyes of the law the Protestant and Catholic stood on a wholly different level. An outrage committed by a Catholic on a Protestant rang through the land, while a similar outrage committed by a Protestant on a Catholic or by a Catholic on a Catholic was almost unnoticed. If an aggrieved Protestant in his petitions or complaints could truly aver that the person who injured him was a Papist, this element of aggravation was rarely omitted. It was natural also that by far the greater part of the crime of Ireland should have been committed by Catholics. They were the great majority of the people. They comprised almost all the more indigent and more ignorant classes. They were especially numerous in the wildest districts. They were all more or less in the position of outlaws. And the preponderance of Catholic crime appeared even greater than it was, for the power of property and the administration of justice were so completely in the hands of Protestants that Catholics seldom ventured to prosecute them before the law-courts.

Considering all these circumstances, and considering also that the Protestant farmers were usually much richer than the Catholic ones, it is not surprising that in abduction cases the criminal was sometimes a Catholic and the heiress a Protestant, Edition: orig; Page: [394] that these cases should have attracted a particular attention, and that two or three letters may be adduced in which abduction is spoken of as a crime which was common among Papists.1 But that it had absolutely nothing of the sectarian character which has been ascribed to it may be abundantly proved. Our information about the abductions in the eighteenth century consists mainly of the large collection of presentments by grand juries and of depositions of witnesses, preserved in the Castle of Dublin. This collection does not, it is true, comprise all the crimes that were committed, but it may very reasonably be regarded as containing the most conspicuous; and as the presentments were drawn up by exclusively Protestant bodies, and as the depositions were sworn by the persons who were injured and by their families, we may be quite sure that no element of sectarian aggravation that could plausibly be alleged is omitted. In this collection we may trace during the first sixty years of the eighteenth century twenty-eight cases of attempted or accomplished abduction. In just four of them there is evidence that the perpetrator was a Catholic and the victim a Protestant. In three others the victim appears to have been a Protestant,2 but there is no evidence of Edition: orig; Page: [395] the religion of her captor. In three or four other cases the criminals are said to have been Papists,1 but there is nothing said of the religion of the victims. In all the other cases there is a complete silence about the religion of the parties, which is a strong presumption either that they were both Catholics, or that the criminal was a Protestant. In a single case we find the criminal trying to force the Protestant farmer girl he had run away with to go to mass,2 but, with this exception, I have been unable to discover the faintest trace of the religious element which has been represented as the very mainspring of the crime.

In some cases Protestants were undoubtedly concerned. In the case of Rebecca White, which has already been referred to, it is expressly stated in the proclamation that one of the party who carried her off was a Captain Cahill, at a time when all Catholics were rigidly excluded from the army. In another and less culpable case the chief actor was a major in King William's army. Being quartered at Loughrea, in the county of Galway, he formed an attachment to a rich heiress, Edition: orig; Page: [396] the daughter of Dean Persse. He asked her hand in marriage, but was refused by the father, on the ground that having nothing but his commission, he could settle no jointure upon her. Soon after ‘a previous arrangement having been made,’ the Major surrounded the Dean's house at Roxborough with a party of horsemen—the tradition of the county says that they were a company of the regiment he commanded—and peremptorily demanded the hand of the lady. It was stated that he threatened, if his demand was not complied with, to decapitate her father, but this assertion was afterwards denied. The lady, who very probably knew something of his intention, on being questioned, declared herself ready to be married. The dean, yielding to necessity, performed the ceremony, and the property so acquired remains in the family of the bridegroom to the present day.1 Among the few persons who were executed for abduction in Ireland was an attorney named Kimberley, at a time when no one but a professing Protestant could be enrolled in that profession.2 The squireens and middlemen were always noted for Edition: orig; Page: [397] this crime, but these classes were necessarily chiefly Protestant, in a country where probably more than nine-tenths of the land belonged to Protestant owners, and where Catholics were forbidden by law to hold long leases. No fact connected with the abductions was more shameful than the indulgence or apathy with which they were looked on by the governing classes and by the law courts. But it is utterly incredible that tribunals that were wholly in the hands of Protestants should have looked with such feelings on the crime if it were a religious war carried on by their enemies against themselves.

Nor is this all. If the abductions had the sectarian character that was ascribed to them—if their object was by forced marriages to obtain possession of Protestant property, they would have been most effectually suppressed by the act which in 1745 made marriages celebrated by priests between Protestants and Catholics null and void. But, as late as 1775, Arthur Young still found them scandalously prevalent. He has dwelt on the subject with just indignation, but he never hints that they either were or ever had been in any way associated with difference of religion.1 Nor would it, I believe, be possible to find a trace of this charge in any of the long discussions that preceded the abolition of the penal code, though it is quite certain that if the assertion that Catholics were accustomed to carry on a religious war against their enemies by abducting and violating their daughters, had possessed the smallest truth, or even the smallest plausibility, it would have occupied the very first place in the speeches of their opponents.2

The truth is that the crime was merely the natural product Edition: orig; Page: [398] of a state of great lawlessness and barbarism, and it continued in some parts of Ireland later than in other countries, because, owing to circumstances described in the present chapter, the formation of habits of order and of respect for law was unnaturally retarded. It is probable that it has at one time prevailed in most countries.1 The stories of the rape of the Sabine women, and of the 400 virgins seized by the tribe of Benjamin, are typical. Lord Kames has noticed the very curious and significant marriage custom which lingered in Wales even in his own day, perpetuating the memory of ancient violence. ‘On the morning of the wedding day,’ he writes, ‘the bridegroom, accompanied with his friends on horseback, demands the bride. Her friends, who are also on horseback, give a positive refusal; upon which a mock scuffle ensues. The bride, mounted behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off, and is pursued by the bridegroom and his friends with loud shouts. … When they have fatigued themselves and their horses, the bridegroom is suffered to overtake his bride, and leads her away in triumph.’2

In Scotland, where the conditions of creed and property were wholly different from those in Ireland, abductions, and especially abductions of heiresses, were for a long period extremely common. In Pitcairn's collection of the criminal trials of that country there are at least fourteen cases of precisely the same kind as those in Ireland.3 More than one woman has been dragged away by armed men in the very streets of Edinburgh. We find parties of eight, nineteen, even sixty men, attacking houses and carrying away Edition: orig; Page: [399] girls. We find men of the very highest rank engaged in these enterprises, and we find exactly the same love of lawless violence as in Ireland, palliating or condoning them. In Scotland, indeed, abduction has been glorified in a whole literature of songs and ballads.1 It was very common all through the seventeenth century, and although it became much rarer in the eighteenth century, it was by no means extinct. Thus, in 1750, a young widow, twenty years old, named Jane Key, was living with her mother in her own house at Edinbilly, in Stirlingshire. Her husband had died two months before, leaving her some property, and some members of the McGregor clan resolved to raise the fortunes of the family by a forced marriage. In the middle of a dark December night the sons of the well-known Rob Roy, with a gang of armed men, burst into the house. They intimidated the males with guns, pistols, and swords. They dragged the young widow from her hiding-place, tore her screaming from her mother's arms, and placed her on a horse before one of the gang. She flung herself off, and in so doing wrenched her side. They then threw her double over the pommel of the saddle, and fled with her into the darkness. The party stopped at more than one house, but no one ventured to interfere, and the victim was soon forced into a marriage with the brother who had been selected for her. The pursuit being very hot, she was at last liberated, but such was the condition of society, that even in Edinburgh itself it was necessary for her protection to guard her with sentinels day and night, and during the few months she survived the shock, she never ventured to return to her own home. Of the three brothers who organised the crime, one was arrested and tried in 1752, but though the jury brought in a special verdict against him, eleven of their number signed a memorial to the court in order to save him from capital punishment, and he speedily succeeded in making his escape from Edinburgh Castle. Another was tried and acquitted. The third brother, who had been the bridegroom, was at last taken in 1754, tried, found guilty, and Edition: orig; Page: [400] hung, but he was as far as possible from being an object of general abhorrence. His corpse was borne to the tomb with the loud lamentations of his clan. His achievement was celebrated in a stirring ballad, which was once one of the most popular in the land, and Sir Walter Scott, who tells the story, has noticed the sympathy that, long years after his execution, was aroused in Scotland by his fate.1

It will be evident, I think, from the foregoing considerations, how utterly futile has been the recent attempt to make these outrages in Ireland available for the purpose of exciting sectarian animosity by representing them as incidents of a religious war. The one fragment of truth upon which this edifice of calumny has been reared is the fact that marriages in abduction cases were usually celebrated by Catholic priests. A class of disreputable priests known commonly by the name of ‘couple beggars,’ did undoubtedly exist in Ireland, who were always ready, for money, to celebrate any description of irregular and clandestine or illegal marriages. As the ceremony they performed was, before the Act of 1745, equally valid whether the persons married were Protestant, or Catholic, or mixed, the presence of such a priest forms no presumption of the religion of the parties, and it is probable that the services of these priests were asked and given with a most complete indifference to this Edition: orig; Page: [401] condition.1 They were a class precisely analogous to the Fleet parsons, who at this very time were so conspicuous in England. No writer of the most ordinary candour would make the whole Anglican Church, and the whole body of the Anglican clergy, responsible for the proceedings of these parsons. Yet even this imputation would be more excusable than the corresponding charge against the Catholic priesthood. The Protestant clergy at least belonged to a Church which was established and endowed by the State, and in which ecclesiastical discipline was enforced by the authority of the law. The Catholic priests consisted in a large degree of poor, mendicant, migratory friars, living under the ban of the law, absolutely dependent for their livelihood on the contributions of the people, and placed by the illegal character of their Church in a great degree beyond the control of their ecclesiastical superiors. That a class so situated should have produced some men like the Fleet parsons was extremely natural. It is, however, also certain that the ‘couple beggars’ were not exclusively priests. In 1725, when recommending a Bill for the prevention of clandestine marriages, the Irish Privy Council wrote: ‘It is remarkable that almost every clandestine marriage in this kingdom has been solemnised by counterfeit or degraded clergymen, or by Popish priests.’2 The law which was enacted in 1725 for the purpose of making void all marriages, either between two Protestants or between a Protestant and a Catholic celebrated by a Popish priest or a degraded clergyman, bears witness to the same truth. It expressly states that ‘clandestine marriages are for the most part celebrated by Popish priests and degraded clergymen.’3

A few traces of the latter may still be found. Thus in 1726 we find Swift writing to Pope, ‘I am just going to perform a very good office. It is to assist with the archbishop in degrading a parson who couples all our beggars. … I am come back’ Edition: orig; Page: [402] (he afterwards writes), ‘and have deprived the parson, who by a law here is to be hanged the next couple he marrieth. He declared to us that he resolved to be hanged; only desired when he was to go to the gallows, the archbishop would take off his excommunication. Is not he a good Catholick? And yet he is but a Scotchman. This is the only Irish event I ever troubled you with, and I think it deserveth notice.’1 ‘Yesterday,’ we read in a Dublin newspaper of 1740, ‘Mr. Edward Sewell, a degraded clergyman, who lived for some time past at the World's End, and followed the business of coupling beggars together, was tried and convicted of marrying the son of an eminent citizen to a Roman Catholic young woman, and is to be executed for the same Saturday se'night.’2 In another Dublin newspaper of 1744, we read, ‘This last term a notorious couple beggar, one Howard Fenton, who pretends to have received holy orders in England, was excommunicated in the Consistory Court by the Vicar-General of this diocese, on account of his persisting in this scandalous trade, which he had taken up, to the undoing of many good families. He was so keen at this mischievous sport of marrying all people that came in his way, that he has been known to refuse three times a higher fee not to solemnise a clandestine marriage than he was to receive or did receive for doing it.’3

In general, however, as might have been expected, the ‘couple beggars’ belonged to the illegal Church of the poor majority and not to the established and endowed Church of the rich minority. They were probably in most instances itinerant friars. But, in order to bring home to the Irish Catholic Church as a whole the guilt of their proceedings, it is necessary to show that they were countenanced or connived at by their ecclesiastical authorities. Such an accusation is scarcely less improbable than it is odious. It is an accusation which could only be justified by the most ample proof. It is an accusation Edition: orig; Page: [403] for which it is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that not one particle of evidence can be adduced. Our knowledge of the internal discipline of the Irish Catholic Church during the time of the penal laws is very scanty, but it is a curious fact that among the four or five documents relating to it preserved among the archives of the Irish Government, is a form of ex-communication by which a Catholic bishop in quaint, violent, and almost grotesque language excluded from the offices of the Church priests who were guilty of this very crime, and enumerated the stringent measures he had taken to suppress it.1

To these considerations it is only necessary to add that it is entirely untrue that the measure rendering null and void all marriages celebrated either between two Protestants, or between a Edition: orig; Page: [404] Protestant and Papist, by a Popish priest or by a degraded clergyman, was exclusively or even mainly due to the frequency of abductions. It was intended, like the English Act of Lord Hardwicke, to strike at all kinds of clandestine marriages, and it was intended also to put an end to what was esteemed the great political danger of intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants. No feature of Irish history is more conspicuous than the rapidity with which intermarriages had altered the character of successive generations of English colonists. As early as the reign of Edward III. the danger had been deemed so formidable that a law was enacted providing that any Englishman who married an Irishwoman should forfeit his estates, be hung, disembowelled while still living, and then shamefully mutilated.1 A petition of Cromwellian officers in Ireland in 1653 complained that many thousands of the descendants of the English who came over under Elizabeth, ‘had become one with the Irish as well in affinity as idolatry,’ and that many of them ‘had a deep hand’ in the great rising of 1641.2 The poet Spenser in a passage which painfully reflects the national animosities of his time, advocated the subjection of the native Irish by the process of systematic starvation. His grandson was expelled from house and property under Cromwell as an Irish Papist.3 The conquest of Ireland by the Puritan soldiers of Cromwell was hardly more signal than the conquest of these soldiers by the invincible Catholicism of the Irish women. Ireton, when Lord Deputy, foresaw the danger, and ordered that all officers or soldiers who were guilty of taking Irish wives should be at once cashiered, but it was found impossible to prevent it.4 Forty years after the Cromwellian settlement it was stated that ‘many of the children of Oliver's soldiers in Ireland cannot speak one word of English,’5 and it is a well-known and a most Edition: orig; Page: [405] curious fact that some of the most violently Catholic parts of Ireland are inhabited in a great degree by the descendants of Cromwellian settlers. Only seven years after the battle of the Boyne it was noticed that many of William's soldiers had thus lapsed into Catholicism.

By the penal code intermarriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics were strenuously repressed. The first statute on the subject was enacted in 1697, and was called ‘An Act to Prevent Protestants Intermarrying with Papists.’1 It alleged that mixed marriages tended to the dishonour of Almighty God, to the perversion of Protestants, to weakening the Protestant interest, to the sorrow and displeasure of Protestant friends and relatives, to the ruin of Protestant properties, and it proceeded to enact that no Protestant woman, who either possessed or was heir to any form of real property or who possessed personal property to the value of 500l., should marry a Papist under penalty of losing her whole property, which passed at once to the nearest Protestant relation. Any clergyman or priest who married such woman without a certificate proving the Protestantism of the husband was liable to a year's imprisonment and a fine of 20l. No Protestant man was to be permitted to marry without a certificate from the bishop or magistrate proving his bride to be a Protestant, under pain of being himself regarded as a Popish recusant and disabled from being heir, executor, administrator, or guardian, from sitting in Parliament, and from holding any civil or military employment, unless he should, within a year after his marriage, procure a certificate that his wife had become a Protestant. It was enacted at the same time that any Popish priest or Protestant clergyman who Edition: orig; Page: [406] should marry any soldier without a certificate proving that the woman was a Protestant should forfeit 20l.

Intermarriages between Protestants and Catholics were thus necessarily clandestine, as few parish clergymen would venture to celebrate them. They, still, however, continued, and accordingly a new and very severe law was carried in 1725. I have already cited the words of the preamble, which refers only to clandestine marriages and to the ruin they produce. The law proceeds to make it felony for any Popish priest or degraded clergyman under any circumstances to marry either two Protestants or a Protestant with a Catholic. In order to secure the execution of this sentence any two justices of the peace were empowered to summon any persons whom they suspected of having been present at such a marriage, as well as the parties suspected of having been married; and if these persons refused to appear, to declare upon oath their knowledge of the facts, or, after declaration of the facts, to enter into recognisances to prosecute, they were liable to three years' imprisonment.1 In this way it was hoped that all marriages between Protestants and Catholics would be stopped. The arrangement about the certificates made it impossible to celebrate them in a legal manner. To celebrate them clandestinely was to incur the penalty of death, and the most stringent measures were taken to enforce conviction. At the same time the theological doctrine, that any marriage celebrated under any circumstances by an ordained priest or clergyman is valid and indissoluble was the basis of the whole English law of marriage and as yet no considerable party were prepared to alter it.

The measure, as might have been expected, was to a great extent inoperative. Laws which are in direct opposition to human nature can never prove successful. In a country where Protestants and Catholics were largely mixed it was absolutely certain that attachments would be formed, that connections would spring up, that passion, caprice, and the associations of Edition: orig; Page: [407] daily life would in many cases prove too strong for religious or social repugnance. The vast mulatto population of the United States is a sufficient proof how inevitable such connections are, even where there is a difference of race and of colour, as well as the greatest possible difference of social position. It was quite certain that attachments would be formed between Irish Protestants and Catholics, and the real question was whether they should take the form of regular marriages or of illicit connections. As a matter of fact the marriages continued to be numerous, and all the evils that might be expected to spring from them were necessarily aggravated by the fact that they were clandestine and illegal. It was natural that they should act in favour of the Catholics. A majority in such cases always tends to absorb a minority thinly scattered among them, and there were bitter complaints that the settlements of poorer Protestants were dwindling away. English regiments were planted in purely Catholic towns, and the soldiers inevitably formed connections with the townswomen. The high standard of female purity reigning among the Irish poor rendered illicit connections more than commonly difficult, and there were complaints that English soldiers were secretly married to Irish Papists, and that some had in consequence been perverted, persuaded to desert, and lured into foreign service. The priests, and especially the itinerant friars, performed and undoubtedly encouraged these marriages. Their motives were probably very various. They had long laboured in Ireland, with especial zeal and success, to maintain among their flocks a high sense of the sinfulness of all extra-matrimonial attachments, and secret marriages were often the only means of avoiding them. Besides this, begging friars, living always on the verge of starvation, gladly welcomed the gratuities they obtained on these occasions, and it is also, of course, possible that in some cases a desire to win converts and weaken the Protestant interest may have operated.

For all these reasons the marriages became so frequent that the Protestants were extremely alarmed, and the Irish Parliament Edition: orig; Page: [408] several times passed heads of Bills which were not returned from England, for making void all marriages celebrated between two Protestants or between a Protestant and a Papist, by priests or degraded clergymen. Forcible marriages or abductions formed only a very small part of the marriages which it was intended to suppress, and it is a gross misrepresentation to thrust them into the foreground, as if they were the main motive of all the legislation about mixed marriages. They are not even mentioned in the Acts of 1697 or of 1725, or in the heads of Bills sent over to England in 1732 and 1733, or in the letters of the Irish Council recommending those bills.1 In 1743 the House of Commons having voted unanimously the ‘heads of a Bill for annulling all marriages celebrated by any Popish priest or degraded clergyman between Protestant and Protestant or between Protestant and Papist’ took the unusual step of presenting it in a body to the Lord-Lieutenant, and the Lord-Lieutenant and council in Ireland, in a letter addressed to the Duke of Newcastle, recommended it in strong terms to the authorities in England. Neither in the Bill itself2 nor in the letter of recommendation is there any specific allusion to abductions. ‘We herewith,’ write the Irish Council, ‘transmit to your grace, under the great seal of this kingdom, an Act for annulling all marriages celebrated by any Popish priest or degraded clergyman between Edition: orig; Page: [409] Protestant and Protestant or between Protestant and Papist. The heads of this Bill took their rise in the House of Commons, where they passed nemine contradicente, and were by that House in a body, with the Speaker, brought to the Lord-Lieutenant. This Bill is judged by the Commons to be of the greatest consequence to the security of His Majesty's government, the public peace, and the Protestant interest of the kingdom; and we agree with the Commons in this opinion. We find that, notwithstanding the laws already made for the prevention thereof, unregistered Popish priests and regulars are now as numerous in this kingdom as at any time before or since the Revolution, and have reason to believe they are in a great measure supported by gratuities on occasion of such marriages as are made void by this Bill. We have also reason to believe that many of His Majesty's soldiers, in the several regiments on this establishment are by such priests and regulars married to Popish wives, and by them tempted to desert, and very often enlist themselves in Irish regiments in the service of foreign princes. We are also of opinion that this Bill will in a great measure prevent the seducing of many others of His Majesty's subjects to the Popish religion, it being a matter of notoriety that many Protestant settlements in this kingdom, of the lowest sort of people, have degenerated into Popery, occasioned chiefly if not entirely by such clandestine marriages as this Bill is intended to prevent. We therefore recommend the same to your Grace, as a Bill of great importance and expectation.’ The Lord Lieutenant in a separate letter recommended the bill. He dwelt exclusively on the tendency of mixed marriages to produce converts to Popery, and his letter does not contain a single allusion to abductions.1 The measure of 1745, which at Edition: orig; Page: [410] last became law, does, it is true, contain one clause rendering the condemnation of those who were guilty of abduction more easy, but the main body of the Act is substantially merely a reproduction of the Bill of 1743. It is directed mainly against mixed marriages and clandestine marriages. Its preamble simply states that ‘the laws now in being to prevent Popish priests from celebrating marriages between Protestant and Protestant, or between Protestant and Papist, have been found wholly ineffectual,’ and it was recommended by the Irish Council on precisely the same grounds as the Bill of 1743. By this law all marriages between Protestants and Catholics or between two Protestants, celebrated either by a priest or a degraded clergyman, were pronounced null and void.1 By another law it was provided that, although these marriages carried with them no civil consequences, those who celebrated them were still liable to the punishment of death.2

Edition: orig; Page: [411]

This Act, invalidating for political reasons marriages which were ecclesiastically complete, is one of the many instances in which a principle has been first introduced into English legislation in Ireland, and has afterwards extended to the sister country. It preceded, as we have seen, by several years, the Regency Act, and the Marriage Act of Lord Hardwicke, which were the first English laws admitting this principle. In spite of the measures against clandestine marriages, they continued in Ireland. There were always cases of attachment in which the weaker partner would yield to the solicitation of the stronger, but only on condition of the performance of a ceremony which satisfied her religious scruples, though it was unrecognised by law. Marriages which were regarded as morally legitimate, but which in the eyes of the law were simple concubinage, existed side by side with more regular unions; and the confusion of properties and families and titles resulting from them has been shown in conspicuous instances even in our own day.

I regret that this portion of my narrative should have assumed so polemical a character. The less such an element enters into history the better, and I should certainly not have introduced it but for what appears, to me at least, to be a very unusual amount and malignity of misrepresentation. In writing the history of a people it is neither just nor reasonable to omit the record of its prevalent crimes; but it is one thing to relate these, it is quite another thing to select the criminals of a Edition: orig; Page: [412] nation as the special representatives of its ‘ideas.’ A writer who adopted the ‘Newgate Calendar’ as the chief repertory of English ideas, or who, professing to paint the various aspects of English life, discharged his task chiefly by highly-coloured and dramatic pictures of the worst instances of English crime, would hardly produce a picture satisfactory to a judicial reader. In Ireland, where part of the country was still in a condition of Highland barbarism, while another part was not far behind English civilisation, where a long train of singularly unhappy circumstances had disorganised the national life, where neither law nor property nor religion rested upon their natural basis, and where the tradition of former struggles was still living among the people, it was natural and indeed inevitable that there should be much violence, much corruption, many forms of outrage, a great distortion of moral judgments. It is peculiarly necessary that the history of such a nation should be written, if not with some generosity, at least with some candour, that a serious effort should be made to present in their true proportions both the lights and the shades of the picture, to trace effects to their causes, to make due allowance for circumstances and for antecedents. When this is not done, or at least attempted, history may easily sink to the level of the worst type of party pamphlet. By selecting simply such facts as are useful for the purpose of blackening a national character; by omitting all palliating circumstances; by suppressing large classes of facts of a more creditable description, which might serve to lighten the picture; by keeping carefully out of sight the existence of corresponding evils in other countries; by painting crimes that were peculiar to the wildest districts and the most lawless class as if they were common to the whole country and to all classes; by employing all the artifices of a dramatic writer to heighten, in long, detailed, and elaborate pictures, the effect of the crimes committed on one side, while those committed on the other are either wholly suppressed or are dismissed in a few vague, general, and colourless phrases; by associating even the best acts and characters on one side with a Edition: orig; Page: [413] running comment of invidious insinuation, while the doubtful or criminal acts on the other side are manipulated with the dexterity of a practised advocate;—by these methods, and by such as these, it is possible for a skilful writer, even without the introduction of positive misstatement, to carry the art of historical misrepresentation to a high degree of perfection.

My own object has been to represent as far as possible both the good and the evil of Irish life, and to explain in some degree its characteristic faults. Irish history is unfortunately, to a great extent, a study of morbid anatomy, and much of its interest lies in the evidence it furnishes of the moral effects of bad laws and of a vicious social condition. It will appear clear, I think, from the foregoing narrative, how fully the circumstances under which the national character was formed explain its tendencies, and how superficial are those theories which can only account for them by reference to race or to religion. Without denying that there are some innate distinctions of character between the subdivisions of the great Aryan race, there is, I think, abundant evidence that they have been enormously exaggerated.1 Ethnologically the distribution and even the distinction of Celts and Teutons are questions which are far from settled,2 and the qualities that are supposed to Edition: orig; Page: [414] belong to each have very seldom the consistency that might be expected. Nations change profoundly in the very respects in which their characters might be thought most indelible, and the theory of race is met at every turn by perplexing exceptions. No class of men have exhibited more fully the best of what are termed Teutonic characteristics than the French Protestants. The noblest expression in literature of that sombre, poetic, religious imagination which has been described as especially Teutonic is to be found in the Italian Dante. The Teutonic passion for individual independence and consequent inaptitude for organization have not prevented the modern German Empire from attaining the most perfect military organization in the world. The Irish were at one time noted for their sexual licentiousness. For the last two centuries they have been more free from this vice than the inhabitants of any other portion of the empire. As late as the eighteenth century Arthur Young traced the chief evils of France to the early and improvident marriages of the French peasantry.1 Such marriages are now probably rarer in France than in any other considerable country in Europe. Different nations of the same sub-race exhibit very different qualities, and the more the circumstances of their history are examined the more fully those qualities are usually explained.

But even if the distinctive characteristics of different races were fully established, they would throw little light on English or Irish history. In England, the succession of invasions and settlements in the early part of its history, and to a certain extent the later immigration of foreign elements, have produced such a mixture of races that no inference about the connection between race and national character could be safely drawn from English experience. The whole or nearly the whole island at the time of the Roman invasion appears to have been inhabited by a Celtic population, speaking a Celtic tongue; and although the Roman influence was very Edition: orig; Page: [415] superficial, and the Teutonic Saxons obtained a complete ascendency, the Celtic element was still far from extinguished in at least the western half of the island. The Norman invasion, refugee immigrations, and constant intermarriages added to the mixture of races. About a third part of the English language, a large part of English institutions, a still larger part of English industries, may be traced to other than Teutonic sources; and if race has indeed the power that has been attributed to it, the great infusion of extraneous elements must have been the origin of many features of the national character. In Scotland, in addition to the earlier Celtic population, there were the great immigrations from Ireland after the fifth century; and language, the most faithful key to remoter history, attests the Celtic ascendency; but it was qualified by large Scandinavian immigrations from the North, and by large Saxon immigrations from the South. In Ireland the original Celtic stock had been tinctured even before the Norman invasion with a Scandinavian element, and long before the eighteenth century successive English and Scotch immigrations had made its predominance extremely doubtful. As early as 1612 Sir John Davis said ‘there have been so many English colonies planted in Ireland, that if the people were numbered at this day by the poll, such as were descended of English race would be found more in number than the ancient natives.’1 In 1640, in the Remonstrance of Grievances drawn up against the government of Stafford, it was urged that the people of Ireland were ‘now for the most part descended of British ancestors.’2 The Cromwellian period greatly increased the predominance of the English element, both by the introduction of new settlers, and by the extirpation of a great part of the old race, and a similar though less sanguinary process of change continued for many years after the Revolution. There is indeed every reason to believe that in Leinster and Ulster, which are the provinces that have played by far the greatest part in Irish history, the Edition: orig; Page: [416] Saxon and Scotch elements have long been predominant, and a great modern authority was probably perfectly accurate when he asserted that there is no difference of race between the native of Devonshire and the native of Tipperary.1 The more the question is examined, the more fallacious will appear the reasoning that attributes most Irish evils to the Celtic character. Tipperary and other counties, which are largely inhabited by the descendants of English settlers, in a great degree by descendants of Cromwellian Puritans, have been foremost in Ireland for the aggressive and turbulent qualities of their inhabitants; while, for a long period at least, no parts of the British empire have been more peaceful, more easy to govern, and more free from crime than some of the purely Celtic districts in the west or in the south. A proneness to crimes of combination has been one of the worst and most distinctive evils of modern Irish life. But that proneness has been nowhere more conspicuous than in counties where the inhabitants are chiefly descended from Englishmen; it has not been a characteristic of other Celtic nations; and it is a curiously significant fact that it has never been shown among the great masses of Irishmen who are congregated in England, the United States, and the Colonies, though in other respects their moral character has often deteriorated.2 The national development of Scotland has been wholly different from that of Ireland, though the elements of race are very similar; and the Welsh character, though it approaches the Irish in some respects, diverges widely from it in others. Hostility to the English government is so far from being peculiar to Celts, that it has long passed into a proverb Edition: orig; Page: [417] that in this respect the descendants of English settlers have exceeded the natives, and there have been few national movements in Ireland at the head of which English names may not be found. Nor can anyone who follows Irish history wonder at the fact. ‘If,’ wrote an acute observer in the beginning of the eighteenth century, ‘we had a new sette [of officers] taken out of London that had noe knowledge or engagements in Ireland, yet in seven years they would carry a grudge in their hearts against the oppressions of England; and as their interest in Irish ground increased, soe would their aversion to the place they left. So it hath been these five hundred years; so it is with many of my acquaintance but lately come from England; and so it is likely to be till the interests be made one.’1

For these reasons it appears to me that although the Celtic element has contributed something to the peculiar development of Irish character and history, the part which it has played in later Irish history has been greatly exaggerated. It is probable indeed that climate has been a more important influence than race, both in determining the prevailing forms of industry and in its direct physical operation on the human being.

The influence of the prevailing religion has no doubt been very great. Catholicism, like all other religions that have approved themselves to the hearts and consciences of great bodies of men, brings with it its own distinctive virtues, and it has contributed much both to the attractive charm and to the sterling excellences of the Irish character. But it is on the whole a lower type of religion than Protestantism, and it is peculiarly unsuited to a nation struggling with great difficulties. It is exceedingly unfavourable to independence of intellect and to independence of character, which are the first conditions of national progress. It softens, but it also weakens the character, and it produces habits of thought and life not favourable to industrial activity, and extremely opposed to political freedom. In nations that are wholly Catholic, religious indifference usually Edition: orig; Page: [418] in some degree corrects these evils, and the guidance of affairs passes naturally into the hands of a cultivated laity actuated by secular motives, and aiming at secular ends. But no class of men by their principles and their modes of life and of thought are less fitted for political leadership than Catholic priests. It is inevitable that they should subordinate political to sectarian considerations. It is scarcely possible that they should be sincerely attached to tolerance, intellectual activity, or political freedom. The theological habit of mind is beyond all others the most opposed to that spirit of compromise and practical good sense which is the first condition of free government; and during the last three hundred years the gradual restriction of ecclesiastical influence in politics has been one of the best measures of national progress. It may indeed be safely asserted that, under the conditions of modern life, no country will ever play a great and honourable part in the world if the policy of its rulers or the higher education of its people is subject to the control of the Catholic priesthood. In Irish history especially the dividing influence of religious animosities is too manifest to be overlooked, and there is no doubt that the Catholicism of the bulk of the people has in more than one way largely contributed to their alienation from England. It deepens the distinctive differences of the national type. The Church as an organised body becomes the centre of the national affections, bringing in its train political sympathies, affinities, and interests wholly different from those of the great majority of Englishmen. Besides this, Catholicism, when it has once saturated with its influence the character of a nation, has a strangely antiseptic power, giving a wonderful tenacity to all old traditions, habits, prejudices, and tendencies.

But, notwithstanding all this, it would have been politically comparatively innocuous had it not been forced by oppression into antagonism to the law; had not the policy of confiscations thrown upon the priesthood the leadership of the people; had not the commercial spirit, which is the natural corrective of Edition: orig; Page: [419] theological excesses, been unduly repressed. As it is, its injurious effects have been greatly exaggerated. The Act of William against ‘robbers, rapparees, and tories’ shows that Protestants and reputed Protestants as well as Papists and reputed Papists were concerned even in the outrages that followed the confiscations of the Revolution;1 and in the latter half of the eighteenth century, if the outrages of the White Boys and the Rockites were perpetrated by Catholics, the outrages of the ‘Hearts of Steel’ and of the ‘Hearts of Oak’ were perpetrated by Protestants. Protestants bore a great part in the rebellion of 1798, and they must bear the chief blame of the religious riots which still disgrace the civilization of Ulster. I have already noticed the very remarkable fact that in the eighteenth century the middlemen and squireens, who under the operation of the Penal Laws were necessarily for the most part Protestants, exhibited more than perhaps any other class the worst defects of the Irish character. The many admirable qualities of modern Scotland have often been attributed almost exclusively to the Reformation; but a large part of them date only from the industrial movement that followed the union, or from the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions, in 1746. Writers who are accustomed to attribute the differences between Scotland and Ireland solely to the difference of their religion, forget some of the most salient facts in the national history. They forget that during seventy memorable years that followed the Scotch union, while Scotland enjoyed perfect free trade, and was advancing with gigantic strides in industrial prosperity, Ireland still lay under the weight of the commercial disabilities, and the most energetic classes were driven to the Continent. They forget that for nearly a century after the establishment of the Scotch Kirk the great majority of the Irish people were crushed and degraded by the Penal Code. They forget that Scotland had never known to any considerable extent that confiscation of lands which in Ireland has produced not only a division, but an antagonism of classes, and has thrown Edition: orig; Page: [420] the mass of the people for political guidance into the hands of demagogues or priests.

Religious convictions during the long oppression of the eighteenth century sank deeply into the minds of the people. In the upper classes the tendencies of the time, the profligacy of public life, and the great numbers who went through a nominal conversion in order to secure an estate, or to enter a profession, gradually lowered the theological temperature; but it was otherwise with the poor. They clung to their old faith with a constancy that has never been surpassed during generations of the most galling persecution, at a time when every earthly motive urged them to abandon it, when all the attraction and influence of property and rank and professional eminence and education were arrayed against it. They voluntarily supported their priesthood with an unwearying zeal, when they were themselves sunk in the most abject poverty, when the agonies of starvation were continually before them. They had their reward. The legislator, abandoning the hopeless task of crushing a religion that was so cherished, contented himself with providing that those who held it should never rise to influence or wealth, and the penal laws were at last applied almost exclusively to this end. Conversion to Catholicism was a criminal offence, and was sometimes punished as such,1 but in the darkest period of the penal laws not a few of the scattered Protestant poor lapsed into Catholicism.2 Stringent Edition: orig; Page: [421] enactments had been made for the suppression of all religious pilgrimages, and for the destruction of every cross, picture, or inscription that could attract devotees; ‘but notwithstanding all this,’ said a contemporary observer,’ pilgrimage is continued as much as ever. When any superstitious place is defaced or demolished, the people repair to it, and seem more inclined to resort to it than formerly. They account it meritorious to resort to a practice prohibited by heretics; and if any punishment be inflicted upon them, they believe they suffer for righteousness' sake.’1 Foremost among these places of pilgrimage was the island in Lough Derg, the seat of the Purgatory of St. Patrick. Through the greater part of the Middle Ages it had attracted pilgrims from distant parts of Europe, and the legend connected with it had for many centuries sunk deeply into the popular imagination of Christendom, had been inserted in the Roman Missal of 1522, and had afterwards been made the subject of one of the dramas of Calderon. In 1632 the Lords Justices of Elizabeth destroyed the shrine, forbade the erection of any monastery on the island, and made all pilgrimages to it penal. In the Act of Anne against pilgrimages, it was singled out on account of its importance as specially obnoxious to the legislators; but in spite of every prohibition it was resorted to by thousands. Many others flocked to the hermitage of St. Finbar, on the solemn and lonely shore of Gouganebarra; to the cross said to have been erected by St. Colman on the banks of Lough Neagh; to the well of St. John in the county of Meath, which was popularly believed to be connected by a subterranean passage with the Jordan; or to some of the many less celebrated wells or relics that in every Edition: orig; Page: [422] part of Ireland had been invested with a halo of legend.1 Others bolder, nimbler, or more devout performed the devotion of the Stations on the great Skellig, a small rocky island once occupied by a monastery of St. Finian, and lashed by the most furious waves of the Atlantic. Women as well as men, by means of shallow holes cut in the rock, climbed the smooth and dizzy cliff called ‘the Stone of Pain,’ which rises many fathoms above the sea; visited the cross on its summit, and performed their last perilous devotions at the extreme end of a projecting ledge of rock, but two feet in breadth, which hangs at a fearful height over the boiling waves.2 Priests and friars, drawn from the peasant class, and almost wholly destitute of human learning, but speaking the Irish tongue, and intimately acquainted with the Irish character, flitted to and fro among the mud hovels; and in the absence of industrial and intellectual life, and under the constant pressure of sufferings that draw men to the unseen world, Catholicism acquired an almost undivided empire over the affections and imaginations of the people. The type of religion was grossly superstitious. It consecrated that mendicancy which was one of the worst evils of Irish life. Its numerous holidays aggravated the natural idleness of the people. It had no tendency to form those habits of self-reliance, those energetic political and industrial virtues in which the Irish character was and is lamentably deficient; but it filled the imagination with wild and beautiful legends, it purified domestic life, it raised the standard of female honour, it diffused abroad a deep feeling of content or resignation in extreme poverty,3 an unfaltering faith in a superintending Providence, Edition: orig; Page: [423] a sentiment of reverence which is seldom wholly wanting in an Irish nature, and which has preserved it from at least some of the worst vices that usually accompany social convulsions and great political agitations on the Continent.

It is remarkable, too, that superstition in Ireland has commonly taken a milder form than in most countries. Irish history contains its full share of violence and massacre, but whoever will examine these episodes with impartiality may easily convince himself that their connection with religion has been most superficial. Religious cries have been sometimes raised, religious enthusiasm has been often appealed to in the agony of the struggle; but the real causes have usually been conflicts of races and classes, the struggle of a nationality against annihilation, the invasion of property in land, or the pressure of extreme poverty. Among the Catholics at least, religious intolerance has never been a prevailing vice, and those who have studied closely the history and the character of the Irish people can hardly fail to be struck with the deep respect for sincere religion in every form which they have commonly evinced. Their original conversion to Christianity was probably accompanied by less violence and bloodshed than that of any equally considerable nation in Europe; and in spite of the fearful calamities that followed the Reformation, it is a memorable fact that not a single Protestant suffered for his religion in Ireland during all the period of the Marian persecution in England. The treatment of Bedell during the savage outbreak of 1641, and the Act establishing liberty of conscience passed by the Irish parliament of 1689 in the full flush of the brief Catholic ascendency under James II., exhibit very remarkably this aspect of the Irish character; and it was displayed in another form scarcely less vividly during the Quaker missions, Edition: orig; Page: [424] which began towards the close of the Commonwealth, and continued with little intermission for two generations.

This curious page of Irish history is but little known. The first regular Quaker meeting in Ireland was established in Lurgan by an old Cromwellian soldier named William Edmundson, about 1654. In the following year the new creed spread widely in Youghall and in Cork, and speedily extended to Limerick and Kilkenny. George Fox himself came to Ireland in 1669. It was at Cork that William Penn was first drawn to the Quaker community by the preaching of a Quaker named Loe, and a swarm of missionaries came over from England, advocating their strange doctrines with a strange fanaticism. Thus Edward Burrough, having vainly attempted to obtain a hearing in the church, preached on horseback through the streets of Limerick. Barbara Blaugdon followed her acquaintances into the churches, protesting against the service, and on one occasion she appeared in the courts of justice in Dublin to exhort the judges on the bench. William Edmundson and several of his friends were moved by the spirit to give up shop-keeping and take farms for the sole purpose of testifying their principles by refusing to pay tithes. Solomon Eccles, having stripped himself naked from the waist upwards, and holding a chafing dish of coals and burning brimstone upon his head, entered a Popish chapel near Galway while the congregation were at their devotions, exclaiming ‘Woe to these idolatrous worshippers! God hath sent me this day to warn you and to show you what will be your portion except you repent.’ Thomas Rudd walked through the streets of Dublin shouting ‘Oh! the dreadful and Almighty God will dreadfully plead because of sin.’ John Exham appeared in like manner in the streets of Cork covered with hair-cloth and with ashes. John Hall went through towns and villages, announcing that a great plague was about to fall upon the land and to sweep away thousands of its inhabitants. ‘They shall lie dead,’ he predicted, ‘in their houses and dead in the streets. There shall scarcely be a people living found willing to bury them, their stench shall be so great.’ The success of these grotesque Edition: orig; Page: [425] missionaries is shown by the deep root which Quakerism struck in Ireland, and the very considerable place it has attained in Irish life. The first quakers suffered much from magistrates and from clergymen, who continually fined and imprisoned them for disturbing public worship, for unauthorised preaching, for refusing to pay tithes or to take oaths, and for the other eccentricities of their conduct. They were often the objects of popular indignation on account of their refusal to shut their shops on Christmas Day, and in the anarchy of the Revolution they underwent many hardships, but on the whole few facts in the history of Quakerism are more striking than the impunity with which these itinerant English missionaries, teaching the most extreme form of Protestantism, and wholly unsupported by the civil power, traversed even the wildest and most intensely Catholic districts of Ireland, preaching in the streets and in the market-places. Thomas Loe thus passed on foot from Munster to Dublin. John Burnyeat spent twelve months traversing in the same manner the greater part of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster, preaching wherever he stopped. Thomas Rudd went in the same way through the greater part of Ireland, preaching in the streets and squares as far as Galway and Sligo. Katherine M‘Laughlin preached in Irish in the market-place of Lurgan. James Hoskins, accompanied by several Dublin Quakers, went in 1712 through Connaught, which was then almost exclusively Catholic, and was more anarchical than any other part of Ireland, and he met with no molestation except at Castlebar, where the resident magistrates interfered to prevent the people from attending him, and at last threw him into prison.1

The experience of Wesley half a century later was very similar. He certainly found more eager and more respectful listeners among the Catholics of Ireland than in most parts of England, and he has more than once in his ‘Journal’ spoken in terms of warm appreciation of the docile and tolerant spirit he almost everywhere encountered. Novelty and the Edition: orig; Page: [426] resemblance which the itinerant preacher bore to the missionary friar may have had in these cases some influence, but they are insufficient altogether to account for it. Many of the politicians whom the Irish Catholics have followed with the most passionate devotion have been decided Protestants; and while in elections in England the Catholicism of a candidate has almost invariably proved an absolute disqualification, a large proportion of the most Catholic constituencies in Ireland are usually represented by Protestants. The tithe war was a species of agrarian contest in which the Protestant clergy occupied the position of landlords, and in the course of it many of them were brutally illtreated; but with this exception, no feature in the social history of Ireland is more remarkable than the almost absolute security the Protestant clergy, scattered thinly over wild Catholic districts, have usually enjoyed during the worst periods of organised crime, and the very large measure of respect and popularity they have almost invariably commanded, whenever they abstained from interfering with the religion of their neighbours.

We may add to this the very curious fact that the Irish people, though certainly not less superstitious than the inhabitants of other parts of the kingdom, appear never to have been subject to that ferocious witch mania which in England, in Scotland, and in most Catholic countries on the Continent has caused the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent women. The case of Dame Alice Kyteler and her accomplices, one of whom was burnt at Kilkenny for witchcraft in 1324, is well known1; but there was no Irish law against witchcraft till after the Reformation. Coxe mentions that in 1578 the Lord Deputy ‘executed twenty-two criminals at Limerick and thirty-six at Kilkenny, one of which was a blackamoor, and two others were witches, who were condemned by the law of nature, for there was no positive law against witchcraft in those days.’1 In 1586 a law was enacted against witchcraft, but the Irish Edition: orig; Page: [427] cases of capital punishment for this offence were very few, and it is probable that more persons have perished on this ground in a single year in England and Scotland than in the whole recorded history of Ireland. One case which seems to have excited some attention, occurred at Youghal in 1661,1 and another in Antrim in 1699,2 and in 1711 a certain panic on the subject appears to have existed among the Protestant and half-Scotch population of Carrickfergus. Eight women were accused of having bewitched a woman in the island Magee. The judges were divided as to the nature of the evidence; the jury convicted the prisoners, and they were imprisoned and pilloried.3 This, as far as I have been able to discover, was the last trial for witchcraft in Ireland.

Of active disloyalty among the Catholic population there was surprisingly little. No doubt an intense animosity against the Government smouldered in the minds of a considerable number of the priests and of the more intelligent laymen, but several powerful causes conspired to counteract it. The conduct of Charles II. at the time of the Act of Settlement, the conduct of James II. after the battle of the Boyne, and the ferocious laws which had been passed against the Catholics under Anne—the last English sovereign of her house—had together destroyed all enthusiasm for the Stuarts; and the Hanoverian sovereigns having in their German dominions shown a remarkable toleration of the Catholics, their accession to the British throne was received in Ireland rather with satisfaction than the reverse. The few Catholic nobility and gentry had fairly given up the struggle. They desired chiefly to retain their property and position, and they showed themselves Edition: orig; Page: [428] steadily, sometimes even extravagantly loyal. The tendency of the Church in the eighteenth century was everywhere to strengthen authority. The mass of the people were reduced to a condition of ignorance, degradation, and poverty, in which men are occupied almost exclusively with material wants, and care very little for any political question; the Irish brigade drew away to the Continent nearly all the active elements of disaffection; and the Jacobites who remained at home clearly saw that the most valuable service they could render to their cause was to send fresh recruits to be disciplined in the armies of France or of Spain. These are, I believe, the causes of the very remarkable fact that, during the first sixty years of the eighteenth century, though Great Britain was convulsed by two rebellions, and though Ireland was more than once menaced by a French invasion, the Irish people remained perfectly passive. Alarms, indeed, were not unfrequent. In 1708, on the rumour of an intended invasion of Scotland by the Pretender, forty-one Roman Catholic noblemen and gentlemen were, as a matter of precaution, imprisoned in Dublin Castle.1 We have seen how the houghing in 1711 and 1712 was attributed by many to a Jacobite source, and how the troubled aspect of English politics in 1714, 1715, 1743, and 1744 led to sterner repressive measures against the Catholics of Ireland. In 1721, when Alberoni had espoused the cause of the Pretender, letters from abroad were intercepted, foreshadowing an invasion of Ireland, and some alarm was expressed at ‘the very extraordinary devotions, fastings, and penances, among the Irish all over the country.’ It was said that many hundreds went daily, barefooted to church, that men who had long been confined to their houses or their beds now joined in the devotions, and that when they were asked the reason, they replied ‘that they were commanded to do it for the good of their souls and the advantage of another person.’2 But whatever truth there may have been in these Edition: orig; Page: [429] rumours, it is at least certain that not a shot was fired in rebellion, and the complete tranquillity of Ireland during the struggle of 1745, as well as the entire absence of all trace in the papers of the Pretender of Irish conspiracy, attest beyond dispute that disloyalty as an active principle was not powerful in the country. In 1756, when war was raging with France, and when rumours of invasion were abroad, Wesley was astonished at the absolute security he found reigning in Ireland.1 In 1760, when these rumours were revived, another English traveller bears testimony to the good service rendered by some of the priests in warning their congregations against the seduction of French politics.2 An army of 12,000 men was indeed habitually maintained, and was especially useful in keeping order in remote districts; but, as we have seen in a former chapter, in seasons of danger a great part of it was usually withdrawn. The existence of so large a body, paid altogether from Irish resources, at a time when there was an extreme jealousy of a standing army in England, was justly regarded as a great source of strength to the empire.3

It is, however, certain that during all this time the legitimacy of the title of Pretender was a received doctrine among the priests. In a few cases priests appear to have been concerned in enlistments for the Continent. Among the presentments of the grand juries in 1744, is one of the grand jury of Kilkenny, stating that Colman O'Shaugnessy, the titular Bishop of Ossory, had been domestic chaplain to the Pretender, and was appointed at his special request.4 Another Bishop of Edition: orig; Page: [430] Ossory—the illustrious De Burgo—in his great work on the ‘Irish Dominicans,’ which appeared as late as 1762, enunciated sentiments so glaringly Jacobite, that a council of Irish Bishops held at Thurles, ordered a portion of the book to be expunged. It was not, however, until the present century that the very curious fact was acknowledged, that by virtue of an indult conceded to James II., both his son and his grandson retained and exercised to the end of their lives the privilege of nominating bishops to the Roman Catholic sees in Ireland.1

There can be little doubt that if the Catholics had been permitted to enlist in the British army they would have availed themselves in multitudes of the privilege, and would have proved as loyal and as brave under the British flag as they have in every campaign during the present century. Such a permission would have attracted to the British service numbers of courageous soldiers who actually found their place among the enemies of England. It would have been an inestimable economical boon to a country where a large proportion of the population were often reduced to the verge of starvation. It would have exercised a moral influence of a kind peculiarly beneficial to the national character, and by identifying Irish Catholic names with great English triumphs, would have reacted very favourably on the political situation. The remarkable military capacities of the Irish people were already well known on the Continent, and Irish Protestants occupied a considerable position in the British army. The cavalry regiment of Lord Ligonier consisted almost entirely of them, and the brilliant part which it played in the battle of Dettingen was employed by the advocates of the Charter Schools as an argument in favour of proselytism.2 Edition: orig; Page: [431] Archbishop Boulter, however, who then directed the affairs of Ireland, while urging on the Duke of Newcastle in 1726 the propriety of making Ireland a recruiting ground, did so only on the condition that the permission should be restricted to those who could bring certificates of their being Protestants and children of Protestants.1 The officers were accustomed to make severe inquiries in their regiments, lest any doubtful Protestant should have found his way into the ranks, and several persons were expelled on a bare suspicion of Catholicism.2

During the long period of their proscription,3 the stream of Edition: orig; Page: [432] recruits for foreign armies never ceased. The Grand Jury of Dublin in 1713 complained bitterly of the accounts received from many parts of the country of daily enlistments, and year after year the same story was told in numerous informations and complaints that were laid before the provincial magistrates. In 1721 the Duke of Grafton wrote to the Lords Justices that information had arrived at the Admiralty that no less than 2,000 men were lurking in the mountains of Dungarvan waiting for ships to carry them to Spain.1 In the same year the Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer wrote from Cork ‘to acquaint the Lord Lieutenant and Council that the papists who have of late been enlisted for some foreign service have appeared in such great numbers and in so public a manner that’ as they say, ‘we are apprehensive the civil power alone will hardly be able to disperse them.’ They ask for troops to be sent ‘especially towards the sea-coast, from whence we have reason to believe at least 20,000 men have been of late or are now ready to be shipped off.’2

Yet it is probable that only a small part of the movement was known to the Government. The vast extent of coast fringed by barren and gloomy mountains, inhabited almost exclusively by Catholics, indented by deep bays and shady creeks, and infested by smugglers and privateers, rendered enlistment peculiarly easy, and the flights of the ‘wild geese,’ as they were called, were for many years almost unimpeded. Very often the corpse of an old woman was followed by a long train of apparently decorous mourners, to one of the many secluded churchyards that were scattered through the mountains, and there, unwatched and unsuspected, the recruiting agent chose his men and told them off Edition: orig; Page: [433] for the service of France.1 There were a few prosecutions, and in 1726 a man named Nowland was condemned to death, with all the horrid circumstances of butchery usual in cases of high treason, for having enlisted men for the service of the Pretender.2 Two others, named Mooney and Maguirk, were executed in Dublin for foreign enlistments in 1732;3 but for some time the Government appear to have been so glad to get rid of the more energetic Catholics, that they connived at the movement, provided the emigrants did not direct their course to a country with which England was actually at war. The confidential letters of Primate Boulter supply clear evidence of this fact. In May 1726 we find him writing to the Duke of Newcastle, ‘There seems likewise to be more listing in several parts, but whether for France or Spain is uncertain, though they pretend the former.’ In the same year and month he wrote to Lord Carteret, ‘Every day fresh accounts come to us that there are great numbers listing here for foreign service.’ In March 1727 he writes to Newcastle, ‘Everything here is quiet except that, in spite of all our precautions, recruits are still going off for Spain as well as for France.’ In 1730 we find traces of a very curious episode illustrating the friendship which at that time subsisted between the Governments of England and France. An officer in the French service named Hennesy came to Ireland to raise recruits, and he actually had a letter of recommendation from the Duke of Newcastle to Primate Boulter. It was necessary to observe much secrecy so as to escape the notice of the Opposition in England. The difficulty was enhanced by the fact that every justice of the peace was competent to arrest and commit a recruiting agent, who could then only be released in due course of law, or by a formal pardon; and it was justly feared that the zeal of many magistrates would be stimulated if they knew the levies were secretly countenanced by a Government with whose politics they disagreed. Boulter Edition: orig; Page: [434] urged these difficulties strongly upon the ministers. He assured them that as many recruits as they proposed to allow the French agent to levy had been clandestinely enrolled annually for several years; that ‘all recruits raised here for France or Spain are generally considered as persons that may some time or other pay a visit to this country as enemies,’ and that the Lords Justices apprehended serious difficulties from the intervention of the Government; and he added, ‘What has happened to several of them formerly when they were raising recruits here in a clandestine way (though as we knew his Majesty's intentions, we slighted and, as far as we could, discouraged complaints on that head), your Grace very well knows from the several applications made to your Lordship by the French ambassador.’

The predictions of the primate were verified by the event. The proceedings of the Government became known. They were attacked in the ‘Craftsman,’ and created so violent an explosion of hostile opinion in England as well as in Ireland, that it was thought necessary to recall Hennesy as speedily as possible.1 In 1741 the ‘Sieur de la Mar,’ an officer in FitzJames's regiment of horse, was prosecuted for enlisting men for foreign service in Ireland. The French ambassador interposed energetically on his behalf, and the Government ordered the prosecution to be stopped ‘in consideration of the humanity shown by a French squadron to the crew of the “Wolf” sloop, consisting of three officers and sixty-two sailors, who were cast away on an uninhabited island where there was no fresh water, and rescued by the French.’2

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Of pure politics there was very little. Independently of the division between Protestants and Catholics, there was the conflict between the High Church party and the Nonconformists. Among the Protestants of Ireland, soon after the Revolution, and especially in the reign of Anne, there were a considerable number of High Churchmen whose opinions in a few cases verged upon Jacobitism. Dodwell, who was one of the most learned and most fantastic, and Lesley, who was one of the most acute and disputatious of the nonjurors, were both Irishmen, educated in Trinity College, and Sheridan, the bishop of Kilmore, threw in his lot with the same sect. Berkeley, though neither a Jacobite nor a nonjuror, maintained the doctrine of passive obedience hardly less emphatically than Filmer. The systematic preference of Englishmen to Irishmen in ecclesiastical, legal, and political patronage was naturally felt with a peculiar keenness by the educated men of the University, and its prevailing spirit was in consequence usually hostile to the Government. Boulter hated it, and described it as a seminary of Jacobitism, and there is reason to believe that there was some ground for the imputation. In 1711, a fellow named Forbes was expelled for aspersing the memory of William, and in 1713 some students underwent the same punishment for defacing his statue. In the same year, Bishop Browne, who had formerly been Provost of Trinity College, preached and published a very curious sermon, assailing the prevailing Whig custom of drinking ‘to the glorious, pious, and immortal memory’ of William, on the ground that drinking to the memory of the dead was a sacramental act, and that the homage could not without blasphemy be offered to a creature. Archbishop King complained bitterly of the conduct of some of his clergy on the accession of George I. There was no disturbance, but on the first Sunday after the change sermons were delivered in many churches against consubstantiation. Lutheranism, the religion of the new sovereign, was denounced as at least as bad as Popery, and the 137th Psalm, describing the emotions of the Jewish exiles when carried captive by their oppressors, was Edition: orig; Page: [436] sung.1 In 1718, the soldiers quartered at Waterford were withdrawn by their officers from the Cathedral Church, on the ground that the preaching of the Bishop tended to alienate them from the Establishment.2 Among the many High Churchmen who were altogether untainted by Jacobitism was Swift, who hated the Dissenters with a peculiar intensity, and wrote with much force and persistence against the efforts that were made to repeal the sacramental test.

The existence of this High Church spirit contributed something to the intolerance shown to Dissenters; but there were other causes of a more serious nature. For some years after the Revolution a steady stream of Scotch Presbyterians had poured into the country, attracted by the cheapness of the farms or by the new openings for trade, and in the reign of Anne the Nonconformists boasted that they at least equalled the Episcopalian Protestants in Ireland, while in the province of Ulster they immensely outnumbered them.3 In 1715, Archbishop Synge estimated at not less than 50,000 the number of Scotch families who had settled in Ulster since the Revolution.4 Three years later Bishop Nicholson, writing from Londonderry, states that this parish—which extended far beyond the walls—though one of the most Episcopalian in the province, contained 800 families of Protestant Nonconformists, and only 400 of Conformists, while in some of the parishes in his diocese there were forty Presbyterians to one member of the Established Church.5 But the political power of the Dissenters even before the imposition of the test, was by no means commensurate with their number, for they were chiefly traders and farmers, and very rarely owners of the soil. In the House of Lords they were almost unrepresented. In the House of Commons they appear to have seldom if ever had more than twelve members. Edition: orig; Page: [437] When the Test Act expelled them from the magistracy only twelve or thirteen were deprived. In the province of Ulster, Archbishop Synge assures us that there were not in his time more than forty Protestant Dissenters of the rank of gentlemen, not more than four who were considerable landowners, and, according to Bishop Nicholson, they had not one share in fifty of the landed interest in that province.1

At the same time they were rapidly becoming a great and formidable body, and their position was extremely anomalous. The Toleration Act, which established the position of the English Dissenters after the Revolution, had not been enacted in Ireland. William, it is true, had endeavoured with his usual liberality to promote such an act, but Sir Richard Cox and the bishops, who formed about half the active members of the House of Lords, strenuously maintained that it would be fatal to the Irish Church unless it were accompanied by a Test Act like that of England, and they succeeded in defeating the attempts of Lord Sydney and Lord Capel in the direction of a legal toleration. The dissenters themselves appear to have preferred a simple indulgence to an assured position encumbered by a Test Clause, and though lying beyond the strict letter of the law, their worship was not only openly celebrated, but was even to a small extent endowed. The Regium Donum bestowed upon the ministers, which was first given by Charles II.2 and afterwards revived and increased by William III., amounted only to an annual sum of 1,200l., but it involved the whole principle of legal recognition, and it continued to be paid in spite of the protest of Convocation, and of resolutions of both Houses of Parliament. The attitude of the Presbyterians was at the same time as far as possible Edition: orig; Page: [438] from conciliatory, and it formed a curious contrast to that of the Catholics. The latter, conquered, dispirited, deprived of their natural leaders, and reduced to a miserable poverty, continued with quiet and tenacious courage to celebrate their rites in mud cabins or in secluded valleys; but they cowered outwardly before the Protestants, shrank from every kind of collision, and abstained for the most part from every act that could irritate or alarm. But the Presbyterians, who were conscious of their unswerving attachment to the existing Government, who boasted that the great majority of the heroic defenders of Londonderry had sprung from their ranks,1 and who were indignant, and justly indignant, at the ingratitude with which they were treated, stooped to no evasion. They were chiefly of Scotch birth or extraction, and they were endowed with a full share of Scotch stubbornness, jealousy and self-assertion. Not content with building their meeting-houses and celebrating their worship, they planted under the eyes of the indignant bishops an elaborate system of church government not less imperious, and far more efficient than that of the Established Church, and imported into Ireland the whole machinery of Church judicatories which had made the Kirk almost omnipotent in Scotland. In the words of Archbishop Synge, ‘their ministers marry people, they hold synods, they exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as is done in Scotland, excepting only that they have no assistance from the civil magistrate, the want of which makes the minister and his elders in each district stick the closer together, by which means they have almost an absolute government over their congregations, and at their communions they often meet from several districts to the number of 4,000 or 5,000, and think themselves so formidable as that no government dares molest them.’2

Edition: orig; Page: [439]

The irritation on both sides was soon as strong as possible. The sin of schism became a favourite topic in the pulpits of the Established Church, while catechisms, describing Episcopacy as idolatrous and anti-Christian, were circulated broadcast over Ulster.1 Some landlords, and all bishops, in letting their lands inserted clauses prohibiting the erection of meetinghouses.2 Presbyterians were prosecuted and fined by the ecclesiastical courts for celebrating their marriages. Some, who refused to take the abjuration oath, were obliged to abandon their ministry. There were disputes at the graves about the service for the dead. There were disputes about the payment of church dues. ‘I understand,’ wrote Archbishop King, in 1698, ‘that the people of Belfast are very refractory, and do many irregular things; that they will not consent to enlarge their church, lest there should be room for all their people; that they bury, in spite of the law, in the church, without prayers, and come in with their hats on; that they break the seats, and refuse to deliver their collection for briefs, according to the order of the council, to the churchwardens.’3 In 1698, a Presbyterian minister from Limerick was arrested, imprisoned, and compelled to appear before the authorities at Dublin for having divided the Protestant interest, by preaching in Galway, where no Nonconformist worship had been celebrated for many years; and although he was soon released, it was ordered that no Presbyterian missionaries should for the present visit the capital of the West.4

The Presbyterians, however, rapidly threw out their branches; they sent missionaries among the Roman Catholics, and occupied many parishes which Episcopalian neglect had left almost deserted. Their attitude grew more and Edition: orig; Page: [440] more defiant. A story was often repeated of how one of their most distinguished advocates in parliament shook the Bishop of Killaloe by the lawn sleeves, telling him in a threatening tone ‘that he hoped to see the day when there should not be one of his order in the kingdom.’1 They were accused of continually insulting the clergy, of forming a separate interest in the North, of engaging no apprentices except of their own sect, of planting their farms exclusively with Presbyterians, of favouring them systematically when serving as jurymen.2 The landlords saw, with no small apprehension, the rise of a new organised power which threatened to subvert their ascendency. ‘The true point,’ wrote Archbishop King,