Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

them appear to be the champions of those national customs which were condemned along with the Irish language.

On the other hand, in the Protestant colonists England expected to have allies against the disaffected natives, and to introduce, through their example, into a country impoverished by frequent wars, the arts and manufactures, the decencies, comforts, and luxuries to which they had been accustomed in their former homes, and to which the increasing wealth and widely spreading commerce of England were every day making fresh accessions.

25. But a small body of colonists coming to reside in the midst of a larger and less civilized community, and cut off from regular intercourse with others of the same social standing with themselves, are far more likely to sink to the level of their neighbours, than to raise them to their own level. If they have no facilities for obtaining education for their children, if, from the poverty of the country, the absence of manufactures, and the consequent difficulty and expense of procuring and conveying manufactured commodities, they be unable to obtain those articles of decency, luxury, and comfort, which they have been wont to consider necessary to their position in society, and which were more easily obtained in the wealthier country from which they came, they will gradually unlearn their former habits, and become content to do without many things which it now costs them too great an effort to obtain. Indigence may be said to be created by civilization, since civilization multiplies human wants, and indigence (as opposed to pauperism) is measured by reference to the general estimate of average comforts enjoyed by the class to which any individual belongs. In this way, the social comforts which would be considered sufficient for a race employed in tending cattle and sheep, (as most of the native Irish were, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,) would be much lower than for a class with more settled habits and better dwellings. In England this standard had been gradually improving. The luxuries of one age had become the comforts of a second, and the necessaries of a third. The majority of the members of the Irish Church belonging to the middle class, (of which there was no counterpart among the native Irish,) were compelled to hold the position of the vanguard of an army cut off from its supplies, posted in a hostile country, and frequently compelled to rely on itself for the means of defence. They were the representatives of a higher civilization in a semi-barbarous country, of pure religion in a superstitious country, of industry and selfreliance in a country where these qualities were al. most unknown.

Of the two aspects under which the Irish Church presented itself to the English statesmen who took upon them to control and direct its action in Ireland, as an instrument for converting the Roman Catholics through the Irish language; or for civilizing them through the English settlers, and preventing these settlers themselves from degenerating, and so becoming estranged from the English interest,—we have seen that the political seemed more important than the religious. Not even the hope of converting the native Irish to Protestantism, could overcome their dread of encouraging the Irish tongue".

y “During the past ages, one of the strongest and securest fences against the foreign heresies that were forcibly imported

CO

26. It was the inevitable result of this determi. nation that the class of which the Church was composed must, so long as this social distinction continued, be numerically inferior to the rest of the population. After the Reformation we hear no more of the degeneracy of English colonists. The tendency was no doubt checked. It was not eradicated nor overcome. All its hurtful influence was henceforth spent on the Church itself, and where we had formerly degeneracy from civilization, we shall have perversions from Protestantism. There must continue still the same danger of small bodies of colonists falling back to the lower condition of their neighbours, as their predecessors had done before the Reformation.

27. The effect of associating with the Irish Church the artificial distinction of social rank, was to bind up its fortunes with the general fortunes of the country, and to make it more difficult for the poor to keep up their connection with it. When any of its members became poor, and thus sank into a lower social condition, they were thereby separated from their former co-religionists, and fell back on the great mass, whose into the country, was found in our native language, always consecrated to the service of our holy religion, and never tainted with the odour of heretical doctrines.”— Archbishop Mac Hale.

Compare with the impediments thrown in the way of those Irish Churchmen who were endeavouring to convert the native Irish through their own language, the following clause inserted in the charter given to the East India Company by William III. in 1698 : “ We do further will and appoint that all such ministers as shall be sent to reside in India, shall be obliged to learn within one year after their arrival the Portuguese language, and shall apply themselves to learn the native language of the country where they reside, the better to enable them to instruct the Gentoos that shall be servants or slaves of the said Company or of their agents, in the Protestant religion.”

religion had always in their minds been associated with the ideas of poverty and dependence. It seemed proper and becoming for a rich man to be a Protestant. But the man who had fallen into poverty was by his religious profession reminded of his misfortunes. He was by his attendance at church brought into closer contact with those who had known him in better days, and who now treated him as no longer their equal. He was thrown back altogether on the society of those who were now of the same standing with himself. The rest of the change was easily accomplished, and seemed to be the natural consequence of the several steps of degeneracy through which he had already passed. He will now worship at the same altar with the companions of his misfortune, whose religion he had always considered the badge of poverty. Thus the old evil which before the Reformation had shewn itself in the form of degeneracy, after the Reformation took the form of perversion; and everything which tended to impoverish the country, and to retard its progress, had also a direct tendency to diminish the number of members of the Established Church, and to swell the number of her enemies. Agriculture and feeding cattle being the only employments, potatoes being the chief article of food, and clothing and shelter being procured at home by the labour of the farmer and his children, there arose an excessive competition for land. The Roman Catholic population having been accustomed to a lower standard of living than the Protestants, were enabled “ to under-live the Protestants as to ex. pense, and to outbid them for the possession of land.” Thus from the time of the Reformation there has been a constant increase of the Roman Catholic population, both in the actual number of births and in occasional perversions from Protestantism?.

28. The Protestants of Ireland were emigrating to the colonies during the whole of the eighteenth century, and in this way also the numerical strength of the Established Church has been impaired. Archbishop King (writing in the year 1719) pointed out the alarming extent of this drain, which afterwards became more general, but did not include many of the Roman Catholic population till the middle of the present century a. In this unhappy state of the country, the Irish Church (whose members were to be found in every part of the island,

from Proprotestanace Cathombibed,

2 In 1662, the author of Cambrensis Eversus describes the prevalence of perversion-from Protestantism in the seventeenth century :-“ Moreover as soon as Protestant settlers fix their abode in Ireland, they, for the most part, embrace Catholicity, or at least their children renounce the heretical doctrines imbibed from their parents, and enter the fold of the Catholic Church.”-(vol. ii. p. 606.)

In 1730, Archbishop King notes the continuance of this evil in the eighteenth century:—“We are daily losing many of our meanest people, who go off to Popery."-Bishop Mant's History, vol. ii. p. 487.

In 1825, Bishop Doyle speaks of it as continuing unabated in the beginning of the nineteenth century. He asserts that “ every year adds considerably to the numbers of those who having descended from the settlers bave embraced the Roman Catholic religion.—“ Letters on the State of Ireland,p. 59.

The Roman Catholic bishops of the present day are making constant efforts to stem the tide which they admit has now turned in the opposite direction.

a “The landlords set up their farms to be disposed of by cant; and the Papists, who live in a miserable and sordid manner, will always outbid a Protestant. This it is that forces Protestants of all sorts out of this kingdom, not only farmers but artificers; since they can have no prospect of living with any comfort in it.”— Biskop Mant's History, vol. ii. p. 487.

« НазадПродовжити »