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which they invaded England in his behalf. Other cares engrossed Henry in the latter part of his reign; till his time the state of England had been such,.. always engaged in foreign wars or domestic troubles, . . that no system of wise and prospective policy for Ireland could have been expected; but thus it happened that that ill-fated island derived no benefit from a reign which effected so much good for this, and prepared so much more. Then came the Reformation.
MONTESINOS. That great event has produced unmingled evil in Ireland, and in no other country. Every where else, whether the Romish religion succeeded in keeping out the spirit of reform, or in extinguishing it after a struggle, more or less benefit was derived; but in Ireland evil, and only evil has resulted. Here, it must be admitted, there has been some mournful misgovernment, some sin of omission with which England is to be charged.
SIR THOMAS MORE. It would be well, perhaps, if there prevailed in all things the same principle of taking always the favourable view of a case,.. the side inclining to mercy,.. which is acted upon in the English criminal law. You would impute to the Eng
lish government, as its greatest error, its neglect in taking any adequate measures for establishing the reformed religion as effectually in Ireland, as in England. But reflect upon the history of the times, and you will then perceive how difficult or how impossible it was that this should have been done. How was the Reformation in its first age to have been introduced among the wild Irish, as they were called, and as a long series of barbarizing circumstances had made them? Preachers, no doubt, would have found their way among them, if there had not been employment at home for all the zeal and enthusiasm that were called into action, or if a gift of tongues had not been necessary
for the work; without that gift the reformers could do nothing there; and there was at least this excuse for not translating the Bible into Irish when the English version was set forth, that there were few, or none, of those for whom it was designed, who could have read it.
This indeed was felt as one great obstacle, after the New Testament and the Liturgy had been translated for their use. And when a translation of the Bible was undertaken under the superintendence and at the cost of Bedell, that admirable prelate, whose name should never be pronounced without reverence, required his clergy to establish schools in every parish, as a preliminary measure, without which the version would be useless.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Before the Irish could be reformed, it was necessary to civilize them, and that task was rendered more difficult than ever, when to the old causes of enmity, difference of religion was superadded. A greater obstacle to civilization and union was then presented than in all former ages, and one which could have been overcome by nothing short of an effectual conquest of the island when the first great rebellion took place.
The wisdom to perceive this was not wanting in Elizabeth's councils ; but she was crippled for want of means, as her formidable enemy the Spaniard had been, and to a greater degree. Had the resources which her father squandered been at her command, the rebellion would have been speedily supprest, and such measures pursued as should have prevented its recurrence. But she had succeeded to an exhausted treasury; the people too had been impoverished by the consequences of the persecution so relentlessly carried on in the preceding reign. The frugality of her own establishment could not compensate for the want of an adequate revenue; the sale of her jewels was of more avail in proving to the people her unwillingness to burthen them with imposts, than in defraying an expenditure which unavoidable circumstances necessarily increased; and the sale of lands to which she was reduced, weakened the crown far more than it relieved the people. The heaviest expenses of her reign were occasioned by Ireland; but they were always insufficient, and thus the struggle was prolonged: the evil, which by vigorous exertion might have been effectually removed, was rendered permanent: religion, or what usurped its place and its name, was connected with false pride, mistaken patriotism, hereditary hatred; it became a bond of faction, a principle of rebellion: such it was left by Elizabeth,.. and such it is at this day.
SIR THOMAS MORE. You have excused Elizabeth's* government.
* Bacon says in a letter to Cecil that “ the causes of Ireland, if they be taken by the right handle,” presented the best grounds for an action “ of sound honour and merit to her majesty and this crown, without ventosity and popularity, that the riches of any occasion, or the tide of any opportunity, can possibly minister or offer.” But this was not written till the end of Elizabeth's reign.
See whether some grounds of exculpation, which are equally valid, may not be found for later times.
MONTESINOS. There was however in Elizabeth's councils a want of consistent and vigorous policy towards Ireland. Lord Grey was prevented by court intrigues from completing the work which he had almost brought to an end. His measures, had they been pursued, would have prevented Tyrone's rebellion : and, during that rebellion, an ill-timed economy placed every thing in such hazard, that with all the Queen's just confidence in the courage of her troops, and in the ability of their commander, and with all her firmness, there was a time when she must have trembled for the result. Of all the worthies of her reign, or perhaps of English history, Mountjoy is the one whose celebrity has been least in proportion to his merits. Cavendish and Drake and Essex are popular names, while his is popularly at this day unknown; though Great Britain has never produced a man of more heroic character, nor one to whom she is indebted for a more essential service. He too was not supplied with means for carrying into effect the measures which he proposed. But he did so much that James was enabled to pro