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Could any course have been adopted, better calculated to degrade a nation? Can we expect to find among a people thus treated, that self-respect, that sturdy independence which Englishmen have
“not only conquered but undisciplinable ; and that the clergy had “ scarce considered them as a part of their charge, but had left them “ wholly into the hands of their own priests, without taking any other “ care of them, but the making them pay their tithes.” “ The bishop “ prevailed on several priests to change, and he was so well satisfied “ with the truth of their conversion, that he provided some of them to “ ecclesiastical benefices, which was thought a strange thing, and was “ censured by many, as contrary to the interest of the English nation.”
Burnet informs us that Bishop Bedell was so zealous in his anxious desires for the conversion of the native Irish, that “ he set himself to “ learn the Irish language;" “had common prayer read in Irish every “ Sunday in his cathedral ;" set up schools, and even undertook the translation of the Old Testament into the Irish tongue, (the New Testament had been already translated,) for which purpose he engaged the services of one of his converts, “ believed to be the elegantest writer of “ the Irish language then alive, thinking the use of the Scriptures to be the “only way to let the knowledge of religion in among the Irish.” He was very assiduous in this work, and having in a few years finished the translation, he resolved to set about the printing of it. But his zeal for the instruction of the people, and the spread of Protestantism, was not participated in by the government, or by others of the clergy. Much jealousy was shown towards his proceedings, and he fell under unjust persecution, in which even Usher, at that time Primate of Armagh, joined to some extent. He did not live to complete his design, but his translation was eventually printed by the Hon. Robert Boyle.
The conduct of the English government, in this respect, is the more extraordinary, because a policy directly the reverse was pursued in Wales, and with complete success. The liturgy of the Church of England was translated into Welch, and the service is still performed in that language by native clergymen.
The letters of Dr. Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh, written between the years 1724 and 1738, afford ample evidence that the church was looked upon, by himself at least, chiefly as an important means of maintaining the English influence in Ireland. His great anxiety appears
claimed as their peculiar characteristic ? Is it wonderful if mendacity, the natural resource of the oppressed, be their prevalent vice ? Or rather, is it not matter of surprise that any virtue should remain to a people, thus systematically exposed to such a process of degradation ? Treated by their oppressors as aliens of a different race and nation, insulted under the name of “the common enemy."
to have been that the bishops' sees which fell vacant, should be filled by Englishmen. In one of his letters to the Duke of Newcastle, dated February 18, 1726, he complains that “we are but nine English bishops “on the bench out of two and twenty ;” and at the same time shows his fears of the carelessness with which such appointments were often made, by adding, “I hope nobody will be sent hither from the bench in “ England, for being restless or good for nothing there, or who is not “ likely to agree with me, since this will certainly weaken the English “ interest here." His anxiety on the latter head appears to be nearly as strong as that felt for the appointment of English bishops. He again states his fears in a letter to Sir Robert Walpole, dated January 14, 1734, in which, after pressing for “at least an equality on the bench,” he adds, “ but I would at the same time beg that we may not have one sent over, “ who may be a burden or a disgrace to us." What he considered “ a burden" may be estimated from the circumstance, that he saw no objection in strongly recommending for promotion Dr. Abbadie, who held “the deanery of Killaloe with four sinecures,” and who "would “ have had the deanery of Saint Patrick's, but having no knowledge of “ English, it was thought improper to place him in the greatest prefer“ment in the city,” (Dublin). So he got Killaloe instead, in which, as almost all the inhabitants must have spoken only Irish, of course he answered quite as well as an Englishman would have done.
Dr. Boulter, however, appears to have exerted himself also to extend the more legitimate influence of the church over which he presided, endeavouring to carry several bills through parliament for dividing unions and parishes when too large, and for building additional churches, where there was a Protestant population and no place for worship, and for providing glebes and building glebe-houses.
and yet retaining a perfect recollection of their former position, and of their recent defeat, is it wonderful that they opposed deceit to oppression ; that they returned open scorn with ill-dissembled hatred ; that they remained a distinct people, regarding with equal hostility the people of England and the religion they professed, and designating both an Englishman and a Protestant by the name of “ Sassenach” as a term of opprobrium ?
But it may be said that the penal laws were never strictly enforced. This is no doubt true. The minds of men revolted at their severity, and refused to carry out in time of peace, the oppressive enactments which the Irish Parliament had passed in the heated feelings engendered by war. Some of the most oppressive soon fell into disuse, or the evasion of them was winked at. The Roman Catholic nobility and gentry retained their estates ; in many instances transferring their title-deeds to Protestants, who held them in trust; and to the honour of these be it said, there is no record that the trust was ever broken. Still the political disabilities remained in full force, and although the worst of the penal laws may not have been insisted on, they remained in abeyance, and were held in terrorem over the heads of the Roman Catholics, being liable at any time to be enforced with rigour, and therefore producing the constant effect of insecurity, and depressing the industry of the country.*
The first partial relaxation of these impolitic laws took place in 1782, and they were still further relaxed in 1793, in which year Roman Catholics were placed on a par with Protestants as regards the elective franchise, though not allowed to become members of either house of Parliament. A lease for lives of a house or land, in which the lessee had an interest worth forty shillings a year, called “ a forty-shilling freehold,” entitled the holder to a vote. This low franchise induced the landed proprietors to divide their estates into many small holdings, for the purpose of increasing their influence at elections. A numerous tenantry, having the right to vote, and practically obliged to exercise that right at the dictation of their landlords, was highly prized. This had a most injurious effect in many parts of Ireland, cutting up the land into those small farms which are now justly complained of, and producing a great increase of population, without a corresponding increase of the means of support. When the emancipation act was passed in 1829, the forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised, and being no longer
* See Appendix T. for remarks made by the Commissioners of Inquiry into the state of the Law and Practice in respect to the Occupation of Land in Ireland, on the subjects discussed in the last few pages.
of use to their landlords, every means has since been employed to get rid of them.
The industrial and social character of Ulster and Leinster differs greatly from that of the other two provinces. Omitting Donegal, the most western county of Ulster, which in many respects resembles Connaught, we find the general character of Ulster and Leinster, as respects civilization and industry, very similar to that of England and Scotland. The English language is almost universal, with the exception of the mountain districts of Down, Tyrone, and Londonderry. There is a large amount of manufacturing industry, especially in Ulster. The ground is fairly tilled. There are many resident gentry and thriving shopkeepers. The labourers work for daily wages, and purchase their food in the market, and their clothing from the country shopkeeper. But the circumstances of the greater part of Munster and Connaught, especially the more western counties, are widely different. The Irish language is spoken by most of the peasantry, and in many of the more remote or wilder districts, English is but little understood. Almost the whole population is dependant on agriculture. The soil is less carefully tilled, and there is much land lying waste which is capable of cultivation. The resident gentry are few and widely scattered ; their estates are of great extent, and many of the pro