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ter of the pre-Reformation bishops. So long as there was no religious question at issue between the bishops and clergy which would test the influence of the bishops, this defect was not brought into notice. But at the time of the Reformation the power of the bishops was tested to the utmost. The parochial clergy having been brought up among the people, retained their confidence, and refused to follow the bishops in accepting the Reformation. The monastic orders were more powerful than any of the secular clergy.
4. The power actually exercised by the English Crown in Ireland up to the epoch of the Reformation, was weak and precarious. The Lord Deputy had little real power. The representatives of the Norman barons, who had been the actual conquerors in the time of Henry II., were invested with all the privileges of royalty except the name. The native chiefs held the northern part of the island. The English Pale had shrunk to the dimensions of the few counties adjoining the metropolis. While the Government was weak, the colonists were powerful. A more unfortunate conjuncture than this for extending the influence of English civilization, and leading the native Irish to adopt the English, instead of the native customs and modes of living, it is impossible to conceive. Had the central Government been strong enough to introduce the necessary reforms, and to compel all its subjects, without distinction of race, to observe its laws, so that the institutions which they planted might take root in the country, new generations would have grown up under their shelter, and learned to cling to them for support. In this case, there can be no doubt but that in a shorter time than the interval between the Con. quest and the Reformation the Irish people would have risen to the full enjoyment of English civilization, and would have been as ready to welcome the Protestant religion as the people of England or of Scotland. But while the Government, which alone was able to do this, was weak, the individual colonists were strong, and they displayed their strength arrogantly and offensively. They were proud of their su. periority. The native customs, the native language, the native race, were proscribed with the most bitter and insolent contempt.
5. Unhappily, there was too much reason for this assumption of superiority, not only in the eye of the Churchman of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, who regarded the discipline of the Church as more valuable than its inner life, but in the eye of the soldier and of the citizen. The inferiority of the Irish nation was as conspicuous in the arts of war and of peace, as in ecclesiastical order and discipline. The conquest of Ireland had been too easily accomplished. The nominal submission of the native chiefs was too readily given. A greater display of strength
; would have obviated the necessity of subsequent displays.
Less than two thousand troops of all ranks sufficed for the conquest of the whole island. They were sent over at intervals, and under different leaders. They found no effective nor stubborn resistance in any part of the island. They were solicited to come over, as much for the purpose of teaching the native Irish the usages of civilized warfare, as for the sake of their assistance in the field. The Irish were, no doubt, brave in battle, but they were rude in arms. In a warlike and superstitious age, when every man
of note who was not a Churchman was a soldier, superior skill in arms and knightly accomplishments were the highest distinction. The successful warrior is proverbially insolent. If he have gained an easy victory against larger numbers, his insolence to the defeated enemy will be still more offensive. The Irish race had to bear a threefold reproach. By the Churchman they were scorned as heretics and barbarians; by the soldier they were despised as unskilled in war. In another respect, which was in the twelfth century of much less importance than it afterwards became, the Irish were and continued to be as much below their conquerors as in religion or in war, i.e. in the standard of living to which the several classes of the population were accustomed. The Irish were content to live in worse houses, to employ fewer articles of luxury, and to use more homely kinds of food than the English of the same age, and in the same rank of life. This distinction, though less obvious at first, became more and more conspicuous and important as the middle class in England increased in numbers and influence through the growth of commerce and manufactures. While
e “ The Irish are the worst cooks in creation.”—Lecture by Sir W. Wilde.
In a metrical history of Richard II. we are told that the castles of Ireland were almost destitute of furniture, and that there was nothing to lie upon but straw.
The great Earl of Kildare, in bis interview with Cardinal Wolsey, describes the mode of life of an Irish peer of his day, and contrasts it with the magnificence which he witnessed in England. “I slumber in a hard cabyn, when you sleep in a soft bed of downe. I serve under the King his cope of heaven, when you are served under a canopie. I drink water out of my skull when you drink wine out of golden cuppés.”—“ The Earls of Kildare," p. 106. . the other traces of inferiority have long since been obliterated and forgotten, the lower standard of living of the Irish peasantry is as remarkable as ever. The contempt for the native Irish, which had arisen from other causes, and had poisoned at the fountain-head all communication between them and the English during the earlier centuries of their intercourse, has fastened on this the last surviving trace of inferiority. Since the Reformation it will be found that the different standard of living of the English Protestants and the Irish Roman Catholics has also materially affected the numerical proportion of the two classes of the population.
6. The effect of the presence of a few English colonists in the midst of a large Irish population whom they regarded as their inferiors in religious, military, and social life, has never been fairly con. sidered. Independently of differences of religion, and before any such differences had arisen, the relative position of the two races in Ireland was unfavourable to the extension of civilization from the minority to the majority. Had there been a strong central Government dealing impartially with all, curbing the insolence of the native as well as of the Eng. lish and Anglo-Irish chiefs, and gradually obliterating all traces of inferiority by extending every political and social privilege to all the inhabitants, the differences of race would have been forgotten. But the colonists were left without any restraint, except their dread of each other, or of the natives. Even under the most favourable circumstances, for a conquering race to introduce civilization among their less civilized dependents is a task of the greatest difficulty. When the conquerors have been less civilized than the con
quered, as when Greece became subject to Rome, or when the Roman Empire was overrun by the hordes of northern barbarians, the conquerors may consent to learn from the conquered. The consciousness of physical superiority maintains the self-respect of the barbarians. The sense of humiliation which accompanies the act of coming to a stranger for instruction, and preferring foreign customs to their own, gives way to the conviction that they are masters of the lives and liberties of the men whose greater knowledge or skill they are compelled to admire. They console themselves with the reflection, that however valuable this knowledge might be in itself, it had not preserved the liberties of the conquered. The civilized men with all their civilization had yielded to the uncivilized. We know that with all the prestige of victory on the side of Rome to subdue her jealousy of the intellectual superiority of Greece, it was not without a long and arduous struggle that the Roman people would consent to study the literature of Greece, and to adopt the refinements of Grecian civilization. The struggle lasted for several generations, and the national spirit was roused to frenzy against the foreign customs. The national party was led by the most powerful men in Rome, and in its name were committed the foulest deeds of cruelty and rapine. If the Greeks had been the better soldiers as well as the more accomplished scholars,—as much superior to the Romans in the arts of war as in the arts of peace,the proud spirit of the National party in Rome never would have made the humiliating confession of inferiority, which is implied in the act of receiving instruction from another, and expressed in the surrender of national usages and habits (much more, if they had