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lish settlers, and, it may be said, completing the conquest of the island.
Thus deprived of their native chieftains, driven for refuge into pathless bogs and mountains, their cities and fertile plains in the power of the stranger, their country subjected to English law and English rulers, it might have been expected that the Irish people would have yielded at length to a stern necessity, and quietly submitting to their fate, have sought the advantages which an amalgamation with their conquerors must necessarily produce. But another fatal ingredient had been added to the many causes of discord previously existing, which seemed to render the chances of a complete union even more remote than before. Their creed differed from that of their conquerors. The descendants of the early Norman settlers, equally with the aboriginal Celts, refused to adopt the doctrines of the reformation, which were presented for their acceptance at the sword's point, with the disadvantageous accompaniment of a foreign priesthood, speaking a a foreign language, who sought not them, but theirs ; who cared not for the flock so that they obtained the fleece.
The insurrection in the time of Charles I. partook largely of the character of a religious contest. It was directed against Protestantism rather than
against English sovereignty ; and the bloody warfare which ensued, was carried on quite as much in the hope of re-establishing the dominion of the church of Rome in Ireland, as of freeing the country from the yoke of England. The subsequent contest appears to have been devoid of any principle of nationality, and to have been undertaken with the sole object of supporting a sovereign of their own faith on the throne of England. The issue of that contest, the defeat at the Boyne and Aughrim, the defence and capitulation of Limerick, are well known. Had the treaty of Limerick been faithfully kept ; had the Irish Roman Catholics, humbled by defeat, been treated with even-handed justice, as entitled to the protection of the laws equally with their Protestant fellow-subjects, the result of the one hundred and fifty years which have since elapsed might have been widely different. But almost the first act of the Irish legislature was to pass those penal laws, of which an eminent historian has declared, that “to have exterminated the Catholics by the “sword, or expelled them like the Moriscoes of “ Spain, would have been little more repugnant to “justice and humanity, but incomparably more “politic."
* Hallam's Const. Hist. of England, vol. ii. page 562.
There were now in Ireland three nations, the aboriginal Celts, the descendants of the early Norman settlers, and the new English, who had obtained portions of the lands, confiscated on different occasions, from the time of Elizabeth to that of James II. A common adherence to the church of Rome united the two former into one body. Of these, some of the wealthier classes, yielding to the pressure of the penal code, conformed to the Protestant church, in order to preserve their estates and political rights; but the great bulk of the people remained Roman Catholics. Indeed it may well be doubted, whether any serious wish was generally felt for the conversion of the lower classes of the Irish to Protestantism. The means which had proved effectual in Great Britain were not tried here. Preachers were not employed to explain the new doctrines to the people in their own language. There was no circulation of the Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue. The clergy being English or of English descent, were unable to hold intercourse with a large portion of the people; and they felt little anxiety about increasing the number of their congregation, so long as their tithes were duly paid.* The penal laws did not much affect the
* All the religious services of the Protestant church were originally in English. An Act of the Irish Parliament, passed in 1537, the 28th Henry VIII. required all patrons of livings to nominate none but those
lowest class, and seem to have been intended, by depriving the rich of their property, and preventing education, to reduce the whole mass of Irish Roman Catholics to a state of serfdom, in which
who could speak English, and only permitted them to “present an “honest able man albeit he cannot speak English," after offering it by public proclamation for four successive weeks, “to any fit person who “can speak English.” Afterwards, when it was found impossible, in many places, to procure those who could speak the English language, the clergy were permitted, by an Act passed in 1560, the 2nd Elizabeth, to use the Common Prayer in Latin.
Leland, in reference to the attempt made in the reign of Elizabeth to enforce conformity to the doctrines of the reformation, then lately in. troduced, says : “ The clergy who refused to conform abandoned the “cures: no reformed ministers could be found to supply their places ; “ the churches fell to ruin : the people were left without any religious “ worship or instruction. Even in places of most civility, the statutes “ lately made were evaded or neglected with impunity.”-See vol. ii. p. 226.
And when describing the foundation of Trinity College, he says: “ From the first beginning of the Reformation, the difficulties in finding “ pastors, the negligence of governors in affairs of religion, and the op“ position given to every attempt to provide for the instruction of the “ people, and the real establishment of the reformed faith and worship, “ gradually reduced the church of Ireland to a state of destitution,” &c. He also quotes a letter from Sir Henry Sydney to Queen Elizabeth, from which the following extract is taken: “If I should write unto your “ Majestie, what spoile hath been, and is, of the archbishopricks, “ whereof there are four, and of bishopricks, whereof there are above “ thirty, partly by the prelates themselves, partly by the potentates " their noisome neighbours, I should make too long a libel of this my “letter; but your Majestie may believe it, that upon the face of the “ earth, where Christ is professed, there is not a church in so miserable " a case; the misery of which consisteth in these three particulars :“ the ruin of the very temples themselves; the want of good ministers “ to serve in them, when they shall be re-edified; competent living for “the ministers, being well chosen,” &c.—See vol. ii. page 319.
Again, Leland accounts for laws against non-conformists being much
they should no longer be dangerous, and yet might be more useful to their oppressors as labourers, or as tenants from whom exorbitant rents might be obtained.
relaxed during Elizabeth's reign, thus: “Indeed it would have been a “ useless and wanton, as well as an impoliticexercise of power, to have se“ verely enforced the penalties of this law, as the christian methods of “ reformation were sacrificed to the scheme of discouraging that “ language, in which alone the body of the people could have received “ instruction : as there were few churches to resort to, few teachers “ to exhort and instruct, fewer still who could be understood, and “ almost all, at least for the greater part of this reign, of scandalous “ inefficiency.”— See vol. ii. page 382.
Burnet, in the life of Bedell, bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh, in the reign of Charles I. and one of the brightest ornaments of the reformed church in Ireland, says: “He found his diocese under so many disorders, “ that there was scarce a sound part remaining. The revenue wasted “ by excessive dilapidations, and all sacred things had been exposed to “sale in so sordid a manner, that it was grown to a proverb.” He then quotes a letter of Bedell to Archbishop Laud, describing the state of the diocese, of which the following is an extract : “ The cathedral church “ of Ardagh, one of the most antient in Ireland, and said to be built by “ Saint Patrick, together with the bishop's house there, down to the “ ground; the church here (at Kilmore) built, but without bell or “ steeple, font or chalice. The parish churches all in a manner ruined, " and unroofed, and unrepaired. The people, saving a few British “planters here and there, (which are not a tenth part of the remnant) “ obstinate recusants. There are seven or eight ministers in each “ diocese of good sufficiency; and (which is no small cause of the “ continuance of the people in Popery still,) English, which have not “ the tongue of the people, nor can perform any divine office, or “converse with them, and which hold many of them two or three, four “ or more vicarages a piece ; even the clerkships themselves are in like “ manner conferred upon the English; and sometimes two, three, or “more upon one man, and ordinarily bought and sold or let to farm.”
In describing the character of Bishop Bedell, in reference to his " care for the native Irish, Burnet says: “He observed with much “ regret that the English had all along neglected the Irish, as a nation