« НазадПродовжити »
the rich contrasts painfully with the hopeless and squalid pauperism of the poor.
It has been remarked as one of the anomalies of this extraordinary country, that while its intelligent inhabitants differ widely among themselves as to the causes of its difficulties and degradation, and the means of cure, they are unanimous in ascribing to the people of England the grossest ignorance as to their social character and position. There is certainly too much reason for this opinion; it is evident to every Irishman who mixes in English society. Whence, then, arises the difficulty of comprehending us? Perhaps the answer may be found in the great variety of character and social circumstances, as affected by locality, by race, and by religion; the differences resulting from which are not sufficiently appreciated by strangers, who seem to regard all Ireland as presenting similar features. From the great difference of feeling produced by these divisions, it also results, that Irishmen view every subject connected with their country through an atmosphere of prejudice.
The energetic character and industrious habits of the people of England have been ascribed, and probably correctly, to the thorough amalgamation of the Saxon inhabitants with their Norman conquerors. These, seizing on all the property of the country, reduced its former possessors to unresisting submission to their will, yet in course of time yielded to the influence of numbers, adopted the language, and much of the laws and political institutions of the conquered Saxons, and the two nations became one people. But Ireland, although invaded, vanquished in warfare, her princes stripped of their inheritance, and her people bent beneath the yoke of strangers, was never so thoroughly subdued as to blend the conquerors and the conquered into one. The Norman adventurers exhibited in Ireland the same daring spirit, the same military prowess, the same lust of power, the same cruelty and disregard of the rights of others, which the unfortunate Saxons had already experienced. But the circumstances attending their invasion of Ireland, were very different from those of their conquest of England. In the one case, a few military adventurers of minor importance sought for individual aggrandizement ; in the other, a whole people followed the standard of their sovereign, to take possession of a kingdom of which they considered him the rightful heir. The English monarch claimed only the feudal lordship of Ireland ; but the Norman duke had been crowned as the acknowledged successor of a long established line of kings. Here lay the essential difference. Had the early Norman kings succeeded in the attempt to establish their sovereignty in France; had they dictated
laws to their island conquest from Rouen, or Bourdeaux, or Paris, England would have been placed in somewhat similar circumstances, and the fate of Ireland might now be hers.
Some intention of subjugating the whole island appears to have existed at first, as is shown by the settlement of the Fitzgeralds, the De Courcys, the families of Roche, Barry, and others in Munster, and of the De Burghs in Connaught. But these distant settlers, so far separated from the seat of government, intermarried with the native Irish, adopted their language and manners, assumed the power and state of Irish chieftains, and became, in the language of the old chroniclers, “ipsis Hibernis Hiberniores.” Even the powerful barons of Leinster, the Fitzgeralds earls of Kildare, the Butlers earls of Ormonde, and others, while professing allegiance to the king of England, exercised independent authority in their own territories. They made war upon each other, or against the native Irish, at their own pleasure. The king's writ had no course within their jurisdiction. The Irish princes who had offered homage, and made nominal submission to Henry, resumed their former independence as soon as he left Ireland ; and thus, before the termination of a century, the English rule and law were confined to the limits of the Pale, comprising the four counties of
Dublin, Louth, Meath, and Kildare, and to the maritime cities of Cork, Waterford, and a few others of less note.
The supremacy of legal right may be said to have commenced in England with the reign of Henry VII. Since then, England has never been disturbed by the presence of a foreign enemy, and even the few short insurrections which took place at different times, or the more serious conflict between Charles I. and the Parliament, scarcely interrupted the authority of law, or disturbed the rights of property. The English poor-law dates from the 43rd year of Elizabeth ; and even prior to that date, the manufacturing and commercial industry of England had been largely developed, and the protection afforded by some of her predecessors to refugees from the continent, had laid the foundation of several most important manufactures. At this period, Ireland was a prey to the horrors of civil warfare. The insurrection of the Earl of Desmond, the powerful head of the southern branch of the Geraldines, led to the confiscation of Munster. His extensive territories were granted by Elizabeth to English adventurers, in large estates or seigniories, Sir Walter Raleigh receiving upwards of 20,000 acres. Sir Walter sold his Irish property to Boyle earl of Cork, who built and fortified Bandon and other towns, which he peopled with English
settlers; but the greater part of the grantees only endeavoured to extort the most they could out of the original inhabitants, without troubling themselves for the permanent improvement of the country.
The flight of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, chiefs of the great northern clans of O'Neil and O'Donnel, early in the following reign, and the insurrection and death of Sir Cahir O'Dogherty, were followed by the confiscation of six counties in Ulster. This led to a settlement of a different character. The grants were in lots of 1000, 1500, and 2000 acres, and the grantees undertook to settle or “planta certain number of English or Scotch Protestant tenants on each grant. This undertaking was not fully performed, yet the effect has been such as to confer on the greater part of that province a character quite distinct from the rest of Ireland.
The sanguinary warfare in the reign of Charles I. and the unrelenting and cruel policy of Cromwell, made another and most important change in the condition of the country. Many of the Irish were driven beyond the Shannon, or compelled to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses of Ulster and Munster, and their lands were bestowed on Cromwell's soldiers, thus adding another body of Eng