All this was undoubtedly true; and it is not our intention to admire what was called the Union, nor to advocate it. Those of the various writers cited, who spoke so dogmatically in the above passages, had in their minds only material and external prosperity, and that even of only one class of citizens. Those who wish well to Ireland cannot be satisfied with this.
Not a single name of the favorers or opposers of the Union, here quoted as witnesses, is Celtic. It would be interesting to know what the Celts of the island, that is, the greater part of its inhabitants, thought at the time, not of the Union, but of their own Parliament, and how much of this great material prosperity fell to their portion.
Surely they were all opposed to a Union which for a variety of reasons had grown odious in their sight; but, did they, could they, approve of the acts of their Legislature prior to the Union with England? Were they satisfied with those tokens of prosperity in favor of a class which had systematically oppressed them? Even granting that they were Christian enough not to feel envy at the success of their Protestant fellow- countrymen, did they not, and were they not right to, rue the day which, by an act of that same Legislature, shut them off as a body from all those advantages.
For it must be remembered that it was at the instigation of many of those volunteers who had been so ready to receive the muskets from their Catholic neighbors, for the purpose of striking a blow for liberty, that none of the penal statutes were repealed, and the Irish Catholics continued to groan, at least as far as the law went, under the fearful oppressions of which the last chapter furnished a feeble sketch. Hence, to speak in their presence of their commerce, of their manufactures, of their agriculture, of the increase of their wealth, and so on, was a bitter mockery, which they could not but resent in their inmost soul.
Was the cause of all their miseries removed by such a free and independent Parliament? Where could be the agricultural prosperity of a people which was not entitled, legally, to own an inch of their soil, or lease more than two acres of it? How could they engage in prosperous trade when, at the suit of a "discoverer," they were liable to be compelled to hand over to him the surplus of a paltry income? How could they even contemplate engaging in any manufactures, when the laws reduced them to the frightful state of pauperism which we have shudderingly glanced at? And those laws were preserved, and retained on the statute-book, by the very men who vaunted of the prosperity of Ireland!
It cannot, then, be too strongly reasserted that the social position of Ireland had experienced no change whatever, and that the separation of classes, spoken of with such well-merited rebuke by Edmund Burke, still stood unaltered:
"They divided the nation into two distinct parties, without common interest, sympathy, or connection. One of these bodies was to possess all the franchises, all the property, all the education; the other was to be composed of drawers of water and cutters of turf for them.
Every measure was pleasing and popular just in proportion as it tended to harass and ruin a set of people who were looked upon as enemies to God and man; and, indeed, as a race of bigoted savages, who were a disgrace to human nature itself.
"To render humanity fit to be insulted, it was fit that it should be degraded."
And, even supposing the prosperity of which so much talk was made to have been universal, so that all had a real share in it, how long would it have remained so, if the Irish Parliament had continued to exist, and not become merged in the English, or, as it was termed, Imperial Legislature? How long could the two separated bodies, sitting, the one in Dublin, the other in Westminster, have acted in concert, without breaking out into violent and mutual recrimination, with all its attendant evils?
The difficulty showed itself at the very outset, and when the first question of the relative status of both Legislatures arose.
Mr. Fox, the great Liberal minister of the king, endeavored to solve this difficulty by making a distinction between internal and external legislation: Ireland was never to be interfered with in her Parliament, with respect to her internal questions, while the English legislative body possessed the right to step in in all measures regarding external legislation. This seems very much like what is now proposed by home-rule.
Here is the answer given to this in the tribune of Dublin by Mr. Walsh: "With respect to the fine-spun distinction of the English minister between the internal and external legislation, it seems to me the most absurd position, and at the same time the most ridiculous one, that possibly could be laid down, when applied to an independent people.
"Ireland is independent, or she is not; if she is independent, no power on earth can make laws to bind her, internally or externally, but the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland."
Mr. Walsh, a very influential member of the Irish House of Commons, saw, as doubtless did many others, cause of disturbance already for the mutual tranquillity of the two nations. And, indeed, his fears soon showed themselves only too well grounded. Dr. Madden tells the story;
"A month had scarcely elapsed since the opening of the new Irish Parliament in 1782, before Lord Abingdon, in the British House of Peers, moved for leave to bring in a declaratory bill, to reassert the right of England to legislate externally for Ireland, in matters appertaining to the commerce of the latter. A similar motion was made in the British House of Commons by Sir George Young.
"One clause of Lord Abingdon's bill stated that Queen Elizabeth, having formerly forbade the King of France to build more ships than he then had, without her leave first obtained, it is enacted that no kingdoms, as above stated, Ireland as well as others, should presume to build a navy or any ships-of-war, without leave from the Lord High Admiral of England."
It is easy to foresee the pretty quarrel preparing. Once again, then, it may be asserted that the record of Irish Parliaments is a sad one.
But could more have been expected of it? Is the scope of measures, within the capabilities of any legislative assembly of modern times, comprehensive enough to embrace every thing of importance to a Catholic people, such as the Irish nation has ever been?
The general question of parliamentary rule is a very complicated one. The modern Parliament is a very different thing from the old assemblies of the representatives of various orders in any state. With the Church originated those ancient institutions, which in certain parts of Europe partook at once of the twofold nature of councils and political assemblies.
This order has passed away, and no one thinks to-day of reviving those time-honored institutions, however much political writers may be inclined to favor despotism on the one hand, or anarchy on the other. What, then, is the origin of the modern Parliament? It grew into being in England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, emanating as it were, slowly, out of the decomposition of the old Parliaments; the aristocracy, and the Church chiefly, losing more and more the influence once belonging to them, which, in old times, made them paramount in those state deliberations. This is one of the chief features of the newly-modelled British Constitution, which is of very recent growth, and became fixed and settled only after the downfall of the Stuart dynasty, receiving additional modifications in the contest of parties under the Brunswick and Hanover lines of kings.
It is, consequently, an altogether British growth of recent date, particularly well adapted for England, whose prosperity since its establishment has ever been on the increase. But it is very doubtful whether other countries have derived equal benefit from its adoption.
Toward the end of last century, some few Frenchmen of note attempted, with Mounier at their head, to reproduce a feeble copy of it in France. Their failure is too well known to the world: how their English ideas were scouted by the people, while a far more radical revolution swept away every vestige of the old French Constitution, without substituting in its stead any thing save crude and infidel ideas, which resulted in anarchy.
The lamentable failure of the first attempt was no discouragement to other political theorists; and the century has witnessed and still witnesses every day essays at English legislation, as embodied in the constitution of its Parliaments chiefly, all over Europe; and all, as sanguine writers would have us believe, to serve as the stepping-stone for the "Universal Republic," which is to regenerate the world.
The great questions in all those assemblies are of material interests, material prosperity, material projects. Of the moral well-being of the people seldom or never a word is heard; and, whenever a moral question does come up for discussion, the vagueness of the theories advanced and discussed, the indecision of the measures proposed, the want of unity in the views developed, show how unfit are modern legislators for even touching on what concerns the soul of man. The legislators themselves feel that their character is far from being a sacred one, and that the spiritual element is not comprehended in their world. And they are certainly right.
Even the measures of external policy are not universally successful in securing the material well-being of the people. In France, at least, the various legislatures which have succeeded one another have perhaps been productive of as much harm in that regard as the liberty of the press and freedom of public discussion, which have always had and always will have their ardent advocates, and the existence of which is compatible with public order in some countries, but not in others.
The same, with certain reservations, is true of the Spanish- American republics, Brazil, and now of Spain, Italy, and other European nations. The legislative machine which is found to work so well in England, and what were or still are her colonies, seems to get out of order in climates and among nations unaccustomed to it, even as far as material prosperity is concerned.
But it is neither our object to write a history of Parliaments, nor absolutely to condemn those modern institutions by the few words devoted to them. All we wish to insist upon is, that all the evils of nations are not cured by them, and that they should not be taken as in themselves absolutely desirable and all- sufficient. As to their probable fate in the future, their modern dress is not yet two centuries old, and the seeds of decay already appear in many places. A few questions are sufficient to demonstrate this: Can a Parliament, as understood to-day, last for any length of time and work successfully, when composed for a great part of corrupt legislators who have been returned by corrupt electors? Has not the progress of corruption on both sides, elected and electors, been of late alarmingly on the increase? What space of time is requisite for legislation to come to a stand-still, and prove to modern nations the impossibility of carrying on even material affairs with such corrupt machinery? It requires no great foresight to reply to these questions.
And yet it is on this tottering institution that the Ireland of our days has set her hope. She imagines that, this once gained, prosperity and happiness are insure; that, without it, she cannot but be discontented, as she is and must be if she possesses any feeling. And such is the anomaly of her position that, with this conviction firmly set before us, we believe she is right in demanding home-rule, and that by insisting upon it she will eventually attain it; yet are we convinced that, having obtained it, her evils will not be cured, nor her happiness served. We prize her highly enough to think her worthy of something better, which "something" we are sure God keeps in reserve for her.
Suppose her earnest wish granted, and a home Parliament given her. Suppose even the old question of her relations with the English Legislature determined. A great difficulty has been settled satisfactorily, though it is difficult to see how this may come about. But supposing the questions for her discussion and free-determination being clearly defined, home-rule becomes possible without exciting the opposition of the rival Parliament of Great Britain.
What is likely to be the composition of her state institution? and what the programme of its labors?
In the composition of her two Houses, if she have two, the Catholics will not be excluded as they were in 1782; a great change certainly, and fraught no doubt with great benefit to the country. But will the English element cease to predominate? The native race has been kept so long in a state of bondage that few members of it certainly will take a leading part in the discussions. How many even will be allowed to influence the election of members by their votes or their capacity? Universal suffrage can scarcely be anticipated, perhaps even it would not be desirable. The question is certainly a doubtful one. Of one thing are we certain regarding the composition of an Irish Parliament: it would not really represent the nation.
For the nation is Catholic to the core; the sufferings of more than two centuries have made religion dearer to her than life; all she has been, all she is to-day, may be summed up in one word—Catholic. Nothing has been left her but this proud and noble title, which of all others her enemies would have wrested from her. The nation exists to-day, independently of parliamentary enactments, in spite of the numberless parliamentary decrees of former times; she is living, active, working, and doing wonders, which shall come under notice. See how busy she has been since first allowed to do. Her altars, her religious houses, her asylums, every thing holy that was in ruins—all have been restored.
Not satisfied with working so energetically on her own soil, she has crossed over to England, where the great and unexpected Catholic revival, which has struck such awe and fear into the hearts of sectarians, is in great measure due to her.
Cross the broad Atlantic, and even the vast Southern Ocean, and the contemplation of Irish activity in North America, Australia, and all the English colonies, the intense vitality displayed by this so long down-trodden people is amazing. But all this activity, all this vitality, is employed in establishing on a firm and indestructible basis everywhere the holy Catholic Church.
Looking on all this, say then whether Ireland is truly Catholic, whether the nation is any thing but Catholic.
But can her new Parliament be Catholic?
No! No one imagines such a thing possible; no one thinks, no one dreams of it. It is clear, then, that it cannot represent the nation.
Who will go to compose it? Men who will discard-such is the modern expression-discard their creed, and leave it at the door. Nothing better can be expected. It is true that the bitter feeling engendered for so long a time by religious questions is not likely to show itself again; or though, to speak more correctly, a religious question never was raised in Ireland, the whole people being one on that subject; but it may be hoped that the bitter persecution against every thing Catholic is not likely to recur, whatever may be the composing elements of the new Houses of Parliament.
In the impossibility of even guessing at the probable opinions of the men who are to have the future fate of Ireland in their hands, it may be fairly predicted that, within their legislative halls, religious and consequently moral questions will only be approached in the spirit of liberalism. Probably, the only thing attempted will be the rendering of the people externally happy and prosperous, supposing the majority of the members animated by true patriotic principles; and indeed the aspirations of all who wish well to Ireland are limited to external or material prosperity; and, for our own part, we do not consider this of slight moment. But is this all that the Irish people require?
They have been brought so low in the scale of humanity that every thing has to be accomplished to bring about their resurrection; and the "every thing" is comprised in substituting flesh-meat for potatoes and good warm clothing for rags. Whoever says that the Irish people can be contented with such a restoration as this, knows little of their noble nature, and has never read their heart.
Assuredly, they have a right to those worldly blessings of which they have been so long deprived; and we would not be understood as saying that one of the primary objects of good government is not to confer those material blessings on the people; nay, it is our belief that, when a whole nation has been so long subjected to all the evils which not only render this life miserable, but absolutely intolerable, it is incumbent on those intrusted with the direction of affairs to remedy those evils instantly, and endeavor to make the people forget their misfortunes by, at least, the enjoyments of this life's ordinary comforts. Forgetfulness of the past can be obtained by no other means. And this is a very simple, but, at the same time, very satisfactory answer to the question so often put and so often replied to in such a variety of ways, "Why is Ireland discontented?"
But, while admitting the truth, nay, the necessity of all this, the government of a Catholic people has not fulfilled its whole duty when it has exerted itself to the utmost to procure, and finally succeeded in procuring, the temporal happiness of the nation. In addition to this, it must consult its moral and religious wants, or a great part of its duty remains neglected.
This, indeed, does not nowadays occur to the minds of the majority of men, who have, it would appear, agreed among themselves to consider it an axiom of government that the rulers of a people should have no other object in view than the material comfort and welfare of the masses. They do not reflect that the wants of a nation must be satisfied in their entirety, and that its moral and religious needs are of no less importance, to say the least, than the temporal. This is evident in all those countries where, in imitation of England, or at her instigation, parliamentary governments are now in operation— countries which include not only Europe, without excepting Greece and her chief islands, but Southern Africa at the Cape, America, North and South, Australia, and the, large islands of Jamaica, Tasmania, New Zealand, and several groups of Polynesia, preparing Asia for the boon which, probably, is destined to show itself in Japan first, spreading thence all over the largest continent of the world.
Wherever modern Parliaments flourish, there material interests alone are consulted. This is a new feature of Japhetism; and God alone knows how long nations will be satisfied with such a state of things!
But if non-Catholic nations thus limit their aspirations, there is all the more reason why a Catholic people cannot imitate them in such a course, particularly if that people has for centuries submitted to every evil of this life in order to preserve its religion, showing that, in its eyes, religious blessings rank far above all imaginable material advantages; and we all know such to be the case for Ireland.
But, it may be asked, what are those religious wants which must be satisfied, and how are we to know them? The answer, to a Catholic, is plain, and nothing is easier of recognition. What the spiritual guides of the nation consider of paramount importance and of absolute necessity, is of that character, and the government which neglects to listen to remonstrances coming from such a quarter, shows thereby that it is ignorant of, or slights, its plain duty. Ever since the load of tyranny, which weighed down the Irish people, has been removed, if not entirely, at least suffered a very appreciable reduction, since the rulers of the Church in that unhappy country have been able to lift up their voice, and proclaimed what they considered of supreme importance to those under their charge, is it not a strange truth that their voice has never ceased remonstrating, and that, at this very moment, it is as loud in protestation as ever? When has it been listened to as it should be? Is it likely to meet more regard if Ireland obtains home-rule? It grieves us to say that the only answer which can be given to this last question is still an emphatic "No!"
And for the very simple reason, already given, that Ireland cannot have a truly Catholic Parliament, and that all the great measures which would occupy the attention of the Catholic members, in the event of their meeting at Dublin, would be shemes for the advancement of manufactures, trade, the construction of ships, tenant-right laws, etc.; all very excellent things in their way, and to which Ireland has an undoubted right, which will be strongly contested, and in the struggle for which she may again be worsted; which, even if she obtains, will not enable her to compete with England, and which, after and above all, do not correspond to the heart-beat of the nation—the restoration complete and entire of the Catholic Church all over her broad land.
It may be well to remark that the broad assertion just laid down involves no reprisals against the rights of the minority. That minority, backed by the English Government, has enjoyed nearly three centuries of oppression and tyranny, has taxed human ingenuity to the utmost for the purpose of concocting schemes of destruction against the majority: it has failed. The majority, which at last breathes freely, can well afford not to raise a finger in retaliation, and to leave what is called freedom of conscience to those who so long refused it. The result may be left to the operation of natural laws and the holy workings of Providence. But their religious rights ought, at east, to be secured to them entire; the rights of their Church to be left forever perfectly free and untrammelled.
But, how much has been done against this, even of late? Why has a Protestant university so many privileges, while a similar Catholic institution is refused recognition? To answer what purpose have the Queen's Colleges been established? The Catholic bishops certainly possess rights with regard to the education of their flocks; with what persistence have not those rights been either attacked or circumvented! If the Protestant Establishment has been finally abolished, have not its ministers obtained by the very act of abolition concessions which give them still great weight, morally and materially, in the scale opposed to Catholic proselytism, nay, preservation? Is it not a stain even yet, if not in the eye of the law, at least in that of the English colonized in Ireland, to be a "Roman Catholic?" Is "souperism" so completely dead that it never can revive? How many means are still left in the hands of the Protestant minority to vex, annoy, and impoverish the supposed free majority?
Whoever considers the matter seriously cannot but acknowledge that in Ireland there exists still a vast amount of open or silent opposition to the Church of the majority, and a Church which the majority loves with such deep affection that, so long as the least remnant of the old oppression remains, so long must Ireland remain discontented.
And it is more than doubtful whether home-rule would be a sufficient remedy for such a state of things, owing to the fact, already insisted upon, that the new Parliament could not be a Catholic Parliament.
The reader may easily perceive what was meant by saying that the entire restoration of the Catholic Church in the island does not suppose the consequent extirpation of heresy; but it clearly supposes the perfectly free exercise of all her rights by the Church. Nothing short of this can satisfy the Irish people.
III. We pass on to the consideration of a third delusive hope, that of the people regaining all their rights by the overwhelming force of numbers and armed resistance to tyranny— the advocacy of physical force, as it is called; in other words, the right and necessity of open insurrection, or underhand and secret associations, evidently requiring for success the cooperation of the numerous revolutionary societies of Europe: a criminal delusion, which has brought many evils upon the country, and which is still cherished by too many of her sons. Though we purpose speaking freely on this subject, we hope that our language may be that of moderation and justice.
To a Catholic, who has either witnessed or heard of the frightful evils brought on modern nations by the doctrine of the right of insurrection, of armed force, of open rebellion, against real or fancied wrong, that doctrine cannot but be loathsome and detestable.
True, there is for nations, as for individuals, something resembling the right of self-defence. No Catholic theologian can assert that a people is bound to bow under the yoke of tyranny, when it can shake that tyranny off; and it is this truth which affords a pretext to many advocates of what is called the right of insurrection. Moreover, there is no doubt that, in the case of Ireland particularly, the Irish had for many centuries a legitimate government of their own, and when attacked by foreigners, who landed on their shores under whatever pretext, they had a perfect right, nay, it was the duty of the heads of clans, the provincial kings and princes, to protect the whole nation, and the part of it intrusted to their special care in particular, against open or covert foes. The name of "rebels" was given them by the invaders, with no shadow of possible pretext, and the name was as justly resented as it was unjustly applied.
Under the Stuart dynasty the state of the case is still more clear: for then they were fighting on the side of the English sovereigns to whom they had submitted; and, in waging war against the enemies of their king and country, they were not only enforcing their right, but performing a highly-meritorious and in some cases heroic duty. Yet the name of "rebels" was again applied to them, and its penalty inflicted upon them, as has been seen.
After their complete subjugation, the right of retaliating on their oppressors, even if justifiable in theory, was often illusory and indefensible in fact, because of the impossibility of successful resistance; and the secret associations known under the names of "Tories," "Rapparees," "White Boys," "Ribbonmen," were, with the exception of the first, condemned by the Church.
But in modern times the right of insurrection cannot possibly be defended, if, as can scarcely be avoided, the cause of a Catholic nation is linked with the various revolutionary societies and conspiracies which disgrace modern Europe, endanger society, and have all been condemned by the sovereign Pontiff.
An extensive discussion of both cases—the stubborn resistance made after the fall of the Stuarts, and some of the attempts at independence of later times—would show at once the difference between the two cases, and prevent thinking men from ranking the "Tories" of ancient times with the avowed revolutionists of our days. Mr. Prendergast has given a fair sketch of the former in the second edition of his "Cromwellian Settlement."
The reader who may peruse this very interesting account can notice a remarkable coincidence; one, however, which to our knowledge has not yet been pointed out: the very scenes enacted in Ireland, during the long resistance offered to oppression after the downfall of the Stuart dynasty, were reenacted in France during the Reign of Terror, and for some time after, throughout the districts which had risen in insurrection against the tyranny of the Convention, and both cases were certainly examples of right warring against might.
In fact, to a person acquainted with the history of the violent changes which, during the last century, modern theories, metaphysical systems, and, above all, the working of secret societies, have caused, the reading of the history of England and Ireland, from the Reformation down, offers new sources of interest, by showing how the last frightful convulsion in France was merely a copy of the first in England, at least as far as the means employed in each go, if not in the ultimate object.
In England the revolution was begun by the monarch himself, with a view of rendering his power more absolute and universal by the rejection of the papal supremacy, and, consequently, the destruction of the Catholic Church. In France the revolution was begun by the leaders of the middle classes, who made use of the immense power given them by the secret societies which then flourished, and the influence of an unbridled press, to destroy royalty and aristocracy, that they might themselves obtain the supreme power and rule the country. The object of the two revolutions was therefore widely different; but the means employed in bringing them about, when considered in detail, are found to have been perfectly identical.
In both countries, on the side of the revolutionary party or of the National Assembly, various oaths were imposed and enforced, troops dispatched, battles fought, devastating bands ravaged the country while in a state of insurrection, the same barbarous orders in La Vendee as in Ireland, so that the language even employed in the second case is an exact counterpart of that in the first. There is destruction resolved upon; then the authorities desisting and resolving on a change of policy, though with a rigid continuance of the police measures, including in both cases "domiciliary visits," inquests by commissioners, courts-martial in the first case, revolutionary tribunals in the second—consequent wholesale executions on both sides. There were the decrees of confiscation carried out with the utmost barbarity, resulting in sudden changes of fortune, the class that was aristocratic being often reduced to beggary, while its wealth was enjoyed by the new men of the middle classes. The peasants derive very little benefit from the revolution in France—none whatever, or rather the very reverse of benefit, in Ireland. And, to go into the minutest details, there are the same informers, spies, troops of armed police, or adventurers on the hunt to discover, prosecute, and destroy the last remnants of the insurgents in France as well as in Ireland.
In considering the religious side of the question, the parallel would be found still more striking, as the proscribed ministers of religion were of the same faith in France as in the British Isles, while the means adopted for their destruction were exactly similar.
On the side of the insurgents the same comparison holds good. In both cases there is the first refusal to obey unjust decrees, the same stubborn opposition to more stringent acts of legislature, the emigration of the aristocratic classes, the devotedness of the clergy, with here and there an unfortunate exception, the same mode of concealment resorted to—false doors, traps, secret closets, disguise, etc.; the flying to the country and concealment in woods, caves, hills, or mountains; and, when the burden grows intolerable, and open resistance, even without hope of success, becomes inevitable, there are the same resources, method of organization, attack, call to arms, call to Heaven, the same heroism: yes, and the same approval of religion and admiration of all noble hearts throughout the world.
The only difference consists in the fact that in France the struggle lasted a few years only; in Ireland, centuries. In France the fury of the revolution soon spent itself in horrors; in Ireland the sternness of the persecuting power stood grim and unrelaxing for ages, adding decree to decree, army to army. In France, numerous hunters of priests and of "brigands," as they were called, flourished only for a short decade of years; in Ireland similar hunters of priests and of "Tories" carried on their infamous trade for more than a century.
In the case of the latter country, too, the confiscation was much more thorough and permanent, the emigration complete and final; but, in both cases, the Catholic religion outlived the storm, and lifted up her head more gloriously than ever as soon as its fury had abated.
Finally, to come to the point, which calls now more immediately for attention, if the campaigns of Owen Roe O'Neill, of Brunswick, and Sarsfield, were the models of the great insurrection of La Vendee and Brittany, the bands of "Tories" and "rebels," scattered through Ireland at the time of the Cromwellian settlement, gave an example for the "Chouan" raids which in France followed the blasted hopes of the royalists.
How ought both cases to be considered with reference to the general rules of morality? How were they considered at the time by religious and conscientious men?
There is no doubt that excesses were committed by Tories in Ireland, and Chouans in France, which every Christian must condemn; but there can also be little doubt that such of them as were not deranged by passion, but allowed their inborn religious feelings to speak even in those dreadful times, were restrained, either by their own consciences or by the advice of the men of God whom they consulted, from committing many crimes which would otherwise have resulted from their unfortunate position. All this, however, resolves itself into a consideration of individual cases which cannot here be taken into account.
Our only question is the cause of both Tories and Chouans in the abstract. From the beginning it was clearly a desperate cause, and, admitting that the motive which prompted it was generous, honorable, and praiseworthy, nothing could be expected to ensue from its advocacy but accumulated disaster and greater misfortunes still. Of either case, then, abstractly considered, religion cannot speak with favor.
But, when an impartial and fair-minded man takes into consideration all the circumstances of both cases, particularly of that presented in Ireland, as given by Mr. Prendergast, with all the glaring injustice, atrocious proceedings, and barbarous cruelty of the opposing party taken into account, who will dare say that men, driven to madness by such an accumulation of misery and torture, were really accountable before God for all the consequences resulting from their wretched position?
In the words quoted by the author of the "Cromwellian Settlement:" "Had they not a right to live on their own soil? were they obliged in conscience to go to a foreign country, with the indelible mark left on them by an atrocious and originally illegitimate government?" And, if the simple act of remaining in their country, to which they had undoubtedly a right, forced them to live as outlaws, and adopt a course of predatory warfare, otherwise unjustifiable, but in their circumstances the only one possible for them, to whom could the fault be ascribed? Are they to be judged harshly as criminals and felons, worthy only of the miserable end to which all of them, sooner or later, were doomed? Is all the reproach and abuse to be lavished on them, and not a breath of it to fall on those who made them what they were? Who of us could say whether, if placed in the same position, he would not have considered the life they led, and the inevitable death they faced, as the only path of duty and honor?
We are thoroughly convinced that the first Irish "Tories" deemed it their right to make themselves the avengers of Ireland's wrongs, and consider themselves as true patriots and the heroic defenders of their country, and that many honorable and conscientious men then living agreed with them. And the people, who always sided with and aided them, had after all certainly a right to their opinion as the only true representatives of the country left in those unfortunate times.
Thus far we have considered the right of resistance on the part of the old "Tories;" we now come to what has been called the second case—the right of insurrection advocated by modern revolutionists, chiefly when connected with the unlawful organizations so widely spread to-day. This, indeed, is the great delusive hope of to-day, which must be gone into more thoroughly, in order to show that Ireland, instead of encouraging among her children the slightest attachment to the modern revolutionary spirit, ought to insist on their all, if faithful to the noble principles of their forefathers, opposing it, as indeed the great mass of the nation has opposed it, strenuously, though it has met with the almost constant support of England, who has spread it broadcast to suit her own purposes. Ireland's hope must come from another quarter.
Let us look clearly at the origin and nature of this revolutionary spirit, so different from the lawful right of resistance always advocated by the great Catholic theologians.
The nature of this spirit is to produce violent changes in government and society by violent means; and it originated in first weakening and then destroying the power of the Popes over Christendom. Two words only need be said on both these interesting topics—words which, we hope, may be clear and convincing.
The very word revolutionary indicates violence; and it is so understood by all who use it with a knowledge of its meaning. A revolutionary proceeding in a state, is one which is sanctioned neither by the law nor the constitution, but is rapidly carried on for any purpose whatever. Violence has always been used in the various revolutions of modern times, and, when people talk of a peaceful revolution, it is at once understood that the term is not used in its ordinary significance.
On this point, probably, all are agreed; and, therefore, there is no need of further explanation. On the other hand, many will be inclined to controvert the second proposition; and, therefore, its unquestionable truth must be shown.
That the position held by the Popes at the head of Christendom for many ages was of paramount influence, and that to them, in fact, is due the existence of the state of Europe, known as Christendom, is now admitted almost by all since the investigations of learned and painstaking historians, Protestants as well Catholics, have been given to the world. But had the Popes any particular line of policy, and did they favor one kind of government more than another? This is a very fair question, and well worthy of consideration.
Any kind of government is good only according to the circumstances of the nation subjected to it. What may suit one people would not give happiness to another, and democratic, aristocratic, or monarchical governments, have each their respective uses, so that none of them can be condemned or approved absolutely. No one will ever be able to show that the Roman Pontiffs held any exclusive theory on this subject, and adopted a stern policy from which they did not recede.
But a positive line of policy they did hold to, namely, the insuring the stability of society by securing the stability of governments.
Whoever reads the life of Gregory VII side by side with that of William the Conqueror, is at first astonished to find Hildebrand, who, though not yet Pope, was already powerful in the counsels of the Papacy, favoring the Norman king, although William eventually proved far from grateful. But, when the reader comes to inquire what can have moved the great monk to take up this line of action, he will find that a deep political motive lay at the bottom of it, which throws a flood of light over the policy of the Popes and the history of Europe during the middle ages. He finds Hildebrand persuaded that William of Normandy possessed the true hereditary right to the crown of England, and the policy of the Popes was already in favor of hereditary right in kingdoms, thereby to insure the stability of dynasties, and consequently that of society itself.
Harold, son of Godwin, belonged in no way to the royal race of Anglo-Saxon kings. The Dukes of Normandy had contracted alliances by marriage with the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, and were thought to be more nearly related to Edward the Confessor than Harold, whose only title was derived from his sister.
What had been the state of Europe up to that time? Since the establishment and conversion of the northern races, a constant change of rulers, an ever-recurring moving of territorial limit, and consequently an endless disturbance in all that secures the stability of rights, was common everywhere: in England, under the heptarchy; in France, under the Carlovingians; in the various states of Germany; everywhere, except, perhaps, in a part of Italy, where small republics were springing up from municipal communes, which were better adapted to the wants of the people.
The great evils of those times were owing to these perpetual changes, which all came from the undefined rights of succession to power, as left by Charlemagne; a striking proof that a monarch may be a man of genius, a great and acceptable ruler, and still fail to see the consequences to future times of the legacy he leaves them in the incomplete institutions of his own time. Well has Bossuet said, that "human wisdom is always short of something."
Those rapid, and, to us, wonderful partitions of empires and kingdoms; those loose and ill-defined rules of succession in Germany, France, England, and elsewhere; productive of revolution at the death of every sovereign, and often during every reign, showed the Popes that hereditary rights ought to be clear and fixed, and confined to one person in each nation. From that period, date the long lines of the Capetians in France, the Plantagenets in England; while rights of a similar kind are introduced into Spain and Portugal; likewise into the various states of Northern Germany, or Scandinavia; and Southern Italy, or Norman Sicily—the rest of Italy and Germany are placed on a different footing, the empire and the popedom being both elective.
Such was the grand policy of the Popes inaugurated by Hildebrand, which came out in all its strong features, at the same time, under his powerful influence. Such was the policy which insured the stability of Europe for upward of six hundred years; a set of views to which a word only can be devoted here, but on which volumes would not be thrown away.
In consequence of it, for six hundred years dynasties seldom changed; the territorial limits of each great division of Europe remained, on the whole, settled; and an order of society ensued, of such a nature that any father of a family might rest assured of the state of his children and grandchildren after him.
In this respect, therefore, as in many others, the papacy was the key-stone of Christendom.
But as soon as Protestantism came to contest, not only the temporal, but even the spiritual supremacy of the Popes; when, taking advantage of the trouble of the Church, the so-called Catholic sovereigns, while pretending to render all honor to the spiritual supremacy of the sovereign Pontiffs, refused to acknowledge in them any right of lifting their warning voice, and calling on the powers of the world to obey the great and unchangeable laws of religion and justice, then did the long- established stability of Europe begin to give way, while the whole continent entered upon its long era of revolution, which is still in full way, and, as yet, is far from having produced its last consequences.
England, the most guilty, was the first to feel the effect of the shock. The Tudors flattered themselves that, by throwing aside what they called the yoke of Rome, they had vastly increased their power, and so they did for the moment, while the dynasty that succeeds them sees rebellion triumphant, and the head of a king fall beneath the axe of an executioner.
She is said to have benefited, nevertheless, by her great revolution, and by the subsequent introduction of a new dynasty. She has certainly chanted a loud paean of triumph, and at this moment is still exultant over the effects of her modern policy, from the momentary success of the new ideas she has disseminated through the world, and above all from that immense spread of parliamentary governments which have sprung into existence everywhere under her guidance, and mainly through her agency.
And the cause of her triumph was that, after a few years of commotion, she seemed to have obtained a kind of stability which was a sufficiently good copy of the old order under the Popes, and won for her apparently the gratitude of mankind; but that stability is altogether illogical, and cannot long stand. There is an old, though now trite, saying to the effect that when you "sow the wind you must reap the whirlwind," and no one can fail to see the speedy realization of the truth of this adage on her part. Over the full tide of her prosperity there is a mighty, irresistible, and inevitable storm visibly gathering. At last she has come to nearly the same state of mental anarchy which she has been so powerful to spread in Europe. After reading "Lothair," the work of one of her great statesmen, all intelligent readers must exclaim, "Babylon! how hast thou fallen! " Within a few years, possibly, nothing will remain of her former greatness but a few shreds, and men will witness another of those awful examples of a mighty empire falling in the midst of the highest seeming prosperity.
When a nation has no longer any fixed principle to go by, when the minds of her leaders are at sea on all great religious and moral questions, when the people openly deny the right of the few to rule, when a fabric, raised altogether on aristocracy, finds the substratum giving way, and democratic ideas seated even upon the summit of the edifice, there must be, as is said, "a rattling of old bones," and a shaking of the skeleton of what was a body.
How long, then, will the mock stability established by the deep wisdom of England's renowned statesmen have stood? A century or two of dazzling material prosperity succeeded by long ages of woe, such as the writer of the "Battle of Dorking," with all his imagination, could not find power enough to describe; for no Prussian, or any other foreign army, will bring that catastrophe about, but the breath of popular fury.
But our purpose is not to utter prophecies—rather to rehearse facts already accomplished.
England, then, was the first to feel the shock of the earthquake which was to overthrow the old stability of Europe. It is known how Germany has ever since been a scene of continual wars, dynastic changes, and territorial confusion. What evils have not the wars of the present century brought upon her! Yet, owing to the phlegmatic disposition, one might call it the stolidity of the majority of Germans, the disturbances have been so far external, and the lower masses of society have scarcely been agitated, except by the first rude explosion of Protestantism, and the sudden patriotic enthusiasm of young plebeians, in 1814. But mark the suddenness with which, in 1848, all the thrones of Germany fell at once under the mere breath of what is called "the people!" It is almost a trite thing to say that, where religion no longer exists, there no longer is security or peace. Impartial travellers, Americans chiefly, have observed of late that, in certain parts of France, there is, in truth, very little religious feeling; while in all Protestant Germany, particularly in that belonging to Prussia, there is none at all. How long, then, is the "new Germanic Empire," so loudly trumpeted at Versailles, and afterward so gloriously celebrated at Berlin, without the intervention of any religion whatever, likely to stand? How long? Can it exist till the end of this century? He would be a bold prophet who could confidently say, "Yes."
As to France, formerly the steadiest of all nations, so deeply attached to her dynasty of eight hundred years, although some of her kings were little worthy true affection; many of whose citizens have been born in houses a thousand years old, from families whose names went back to the darkness of heroic times; which was once so retentive of her old memories, living in her traditions, her former deeds of glory, even in the monuments raised in honor of her kings, her great captains, her illustrious citizens; which was chiefly devoted to her time- honored religion, mindful that she was born on the day of the baptism of Clovis; that she grew up during the Crusades; that a virgin sent by Heaven saved her from the yoke of the stranger; that, on attaining her full maturity, it was religion which chiefly ennobled her; and that her greatest poets, orators, literary men, respected and honored religion as the basis of the state, and, by their immortal masterpieces, threw a halo around Catholicism—France, which still retains in her external appearance something of her old steadiness and immutability, so that to the eye of a stranger, who sees her for the first time, solidity is the word which comes naturally to his mind, as expressive of every thing around him, has only the look of what she was in her days of greatness, and on the surface of the earth there is not to-day a more unsteady, shaky, insecure spot, scarcely worthy of being chosen by a nomad Tartar as a place wherein to pitch his tent for the night, and hurry off at the first appearance of the rising sun on the morrow. Can the shifting sands of Libya, the ever-shaking volcanic mountains of equatorial America, the rapidly-forming coral islands of the southern seas, give an idea of that fickleness, constant agitation, and unceasing clamor for change, which have made France a by-word in our days? Who of her children can be sure that the house he is building for himself will ever be the dwelling of his son; that the city he lives in to-day will tomorrow acknowledge him as a member of its community? Who can be certain that the constitution of the whole state may not change in the night, and he wake the next day to find himself an outlaw and a fugitive?
It is a lamentable fact that for the last hundred years a great nation has been reduced to such a state of insecurity, that no one dares to think of the future, though all have repudiated the past, and thus every thing is reduced for them to the present fleeting moment.
And what is likely to be the future destiny of a nation of forty million souls, when their present state is such, and such the uncertainty of their dearest interests? They are unwilling to quit the soil; for they have lost all power of expansion by sending colonies to foreign shores; it is difficult for them to take a real interest in their own soil, for the great moving spring of interest is broken up by the total want of security. May God open their eyes to their former folly; for the folly was all of their own making! They have allowed themselves to be thus thoroughly imbued with this revolutionary spirit—the first revolution they hailed with enthusiasm; when they saw it become stained with frightful horrors, they paused a moment, and were on the point of acknowledging their error; but scribblers and sophists came to show them that it failed in being a glorious and happy one only because it was not complete; another and then another, and another yet, would finish the work and make them a great nation. Thus have they become altogether a revolutionary people; and they must abide by the consequences, unless they come at last to change their mind.
But the worst has not been said. This terrible example, instead of proving a warning to nations, has, on the contrary, drawn nearly all of them into the same boiling vortex. England and France have led the whole European world captive: people ask for a government different to the one they have; revolution is the consequence, and, with the entry of the revolutionary spirit, good-by to all stability and security. Let Italy and Spain bear witness if this is not so.
And the great phenomenon of the age is the collecting of all those revolutionary particles into one compact mass, arranged and preordained by some master-spirits of evil, who would be leaders not of a state or nation only, but of a universal republic embracing first Europe, and then the world. So we hear to-day of the Internationalists receiving in their "congresses" deputies not only from all the great European centres, not only from both ends of America, which is now Europeanized, but from South Africa, from Australia, New Zealand, from countries which a few years back were still in quiet possession of a comparatively few aborigines.
To come back, then, to the point from which we started, it is in this revolutionary spirit, in those conspiracies for revolutions to come, that some Irishmen set their hopes for the regeneration of their country. It would be well to remind them of the sayings of our Lord: "Can men gather grapes from thorns?" "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Let the Irish who are truly devoted to their country reflect well on the kind of men they would have as allies. What has Ireland in common with these men? If they know Ireland at all, they detest her because of her Catholicism; and, if Ireland knows them, she cannot but distrust and abominate them.
It has seemed a decree of kind Providence that all attempts at rebellion on her part undertaken with the hope of such help, have so far not only been miserable failures, but most disgracefully miscarried and been spent in air, leaving only ridicule and contempt for the originators of and partakers in the plots.
If the vast and unholy scheme which is certainly being organized, and which is spreading its fatal branches in all directions, should ever succeed, it could not but result in the most frightful despotism ever contemplated by men. Ireland in such an event would be the infinitesimal part of a chaotic system worthy of Antichrist for head.
But we are confident that such a scheme cannot succeed and come to be realized, unless indeed it enter for a short period into the designs of an avenging God, who has promised not to destroy mankind again by another flood, but assured us by St. Peter that he will purify it by fire.
As a mere design of man, intended for the regeneration of humanity and the new creation of an abnormal order of things, it cannot possibly succeed, because it is opposed to the nature of men, among whom as a whole there can be no perfect unity of external government and internal organization, owing to the infinite variety of which we spoke at the beginning, which is as strong in human beings as elsewhere. No other body than the Catholic Church can hope to adapt itself to all human races, and govern by the same rules all the children of Adam. The decree issued of old from the mouth of God is final, and will last as long as the earth itself. It is contained in Moses' Canticle:
"When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he appointed the bounds of each people, according to the number of the children of Israel," or, as the Hebrew text has it, "He fixed the limits of each people." On this passage Aben Ezra remarks that interpreters understand the text as alluding to the dispersion of nations (Genesis xi.). Those interpreters, were clearly right, although only Jewish rabbies.
When God deprived man of the unity of language, he took away at the same time the possibility of unity of institutions and government; and it will be as hard for men to defeat that design of Providence as for Julian the apostate to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, of which our Saviour had declared that there should not remain "a stone upon a stone."
But, though the monstrous scheme cannot ultimately succeed, it can and will produce untold evils to human society. By alluring workmen and other people of the lower class, it draws into the intricate folds of conspiracy, dark projects, and universal disorder, an immense array of human beings, whom the revolutionary spirit had not yet, or at least had scarcely, touched; it undermines and disturbs society in its lowest depths and widest-spread foundations, since the lower class always has been and still is the most numerous, including by far the great majority of men. It consequently renders the stability of order more difficult, if not absolutely impossible; it opens up a new era of revolutions, more disastrous than any yet known; for, as has already been remarked, and it should be well borne in mind, in order that the whole extent of the evil in prospect may be seen, so far, all the agitations in Europe, all the convulsions which have rendered our age so unlike any previous one, and productive of so many calamities, private as well as public, have been almost exclusively confined to the middle classes, and should be considered only as a reaction of the simple bourgeoisie against the aristocratic class. Those agitations and convulsions are only the necessary consequence of the secular opposition, existing from the ninth and tenth centuries and those immediately following, between the strictly feudal nobility, which arrogated to itself all prerogatives and rights, and the more numerous class of burghers, set on the lower step of the social ladder. These latter wanted, not so much to get up to the level of their superiors, as to bring them down to their own, and even precipitate them into the abyss of nothingness below. They have almost succeeded; and the prestige of noble blood has passed away, perhaps forever, in spite of Vico's well- known theory. But the now triumphant burgher in his turn sees the dim mass, lost in the darkness and indistinctness of the lowest pool of humanity, rising up grim and horrible out of the abyss, hungry and fierce and not to be pacified, to threaten the new-modelled aristocracy of money with a worse fate than that it inflicted upon the old nobility. And, to render the prospect more appalling, the chief means, which so eminently aided the bourgeoisie to take their position, namely, the wide-spread influence of secret societies, whose workings even lately have astonished the world by the facile and apparently inexplicable revolutions effected in a few days, are now in the full possession of the lower classes, who, no longer rude and unintelligent, but possessed of leaders of experience and knowledge, can also powerfully work those mighty engines of destruction.
In the presence of those past, present, and coming revolutions, the face of heaven entirely clouded, the presence of God absolutely ignored, his rights over mankind denied, the designs of his Providence openly derided, and man, pretending to decide his own destiny by his own unaided efforts, scornfully rejecting any obligation to a superior power, not looking on high for assistance, but taking only for his guide his pretended wisdom, his unbounded pride, and his raging passions; such is now our world.
Is Ireland to launch herself on that surging sea of wild impulse, in whose depths lies destruction and whose waves never kiss a peaceful coast? When she claimed and exercised a policy of her own, she wisely persisted in not mixing herself up with the troubles of Europe, content to enjoy happiness in her own way, on her ocean-bound island, she thanked God that no portion of her little territory touched any part of the Continent of Europe, stretching out vainly toward her shores. So she stood when, under God, she was mistress of her own destiny. If ever she thought of Europe, it was only to send her missionaries to its help, or to receive foreign youth in her large schools which were open to all, where wisdom was imparted without restriction and without price. But to follow the lead of European theorists and vendors of so-called wisdom and science; to originate new schemes of pretended knowledge, or place herself in the wake of bold adventurers on the sea of modern inventions, she was ever steadfast in her refusal.
And now that her autonomy is almost once again within her grasp, now that she can carve out a destiny of her own, would she hand over the guidance of herself to men who know nothing of her, who have only heard of her through the reports of her enemies, and who will scarcely look at her if she is foolish enough to ask to be admitted within their ranks?
Every one who wishes well to Ireland ought to thank God that so far few indeed, if any, of her children have ever joined in the plots and conspiracies of modern times, and that in this last scheme just referred to, not one of them, probably, has fully engaged himself. In the late horrors of the Paris Commune, no Irish name could be shown to have been implicated, and, when the contrary was asserted, a simple denial was sufficient to set the question at rest. Let them so continue to refrain from sullying their national honor by following the lead of men with whom they have nothing in common.
After all, the great thing which the Irish desire is, with the entire possession of their rights, to enjoy that peace and security in their own island, which they relish so keenly when they find it on foreign shores. But no peace or security is possible with the attempt to subvert all human society by wild and impracticable theories, in which human and divine laws are alike set at naught. Further words are unnecessary on this subject, as the simple good sense and deep religious feeling of the Irish will easily preserve them from yielding to such temptation.
Yet, a last consideration seems worthy of note. When, later on, we present our views, and explain by what means we consider that the happiness of the Irish nation may be secured, and its mission fulfilled, a more fitting opportunity will be presented of speaking of the ways by which Providence has already led them through former difficulties, and the consideration of those holy designs and past favors may enable us better to understand what may be hoped and attempted in the future.
Here it is enough to observe that, in whatever progress the Irish have made of late in obtaining a certain amount of their rights, insurrection, revolution, plots, and the working of secret societies condemned by the Church, have absolutely gone for nothing, and the little of it all, in which Irishmen have indulged, really formed one of the main obstacles to the enjoyment of what they had already obtained, and to the securing of a greater amount for the future.
There is no doubt that revolutions abroad and dangers at home have been the greatest inducements to England to relax her grasp and change her tyrannical policy toward Ireland. The success of the revolt of the North American colonies was the main cause of the volunteer movement of 1782, and of the concessions then temporarily granted. The fearful upheaval of revolutionary France, which filled the English heart with a wholesome dread, was also a great means of obtaining for Ireland the concession of being no longer treated as though it were a lair of wild beasts or a nest of outlaws. The act of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 was certainly granted in view of immediate revolutions ready to burst forth, one of which did explode in France in the year following. But, in all those outbursts of popular fury, Ireland never joined; and if she found in them new ground for hope, if she awaited anxiously the anticipated result turning in her favor, she never took any active part whatever in them. She only relied on God, who always knows how to draw good from evil; she, however, profited by them, and saw her shackles fall off of themselves, and herself brought back, step by step, to liberty.
But so soon as any body of Irishmen entered into a scheme of a similar nature, imitating the secret plottings and deeds of European revolutionists, Ireland never gained a single inch of ground, nor reaped the slightest advantage from such attempts. On the contrary, ridicule, contempt, increase of burdens, penalties, and harsh treatment, were the only result which ever came from them, and, worst of all, no one pitied the victims of all those foolish enterprises. There is no need of entering here into details. The first of those attempts failed long ago; the last is still on record, and cannot be yet said to belong to past history.
To the eye of a keen beholder, Ireland to-day presents the appearance of a nation entering upon a new career. She is emerging from a long darkness, and opening again to the free light of heaven. Whoever compares her present position with that she occupied a century ago, cannot fail to be struck with wonder no less at the change in her than at the agencies which brought that change about. And when to this is added the further reflection that she is still young, though sprung from so old-an- origin-young in feeling, in buoyancy, in aspirations, in purity and simplicity-the conclusion forces itself upon the mind that a high destiny is in store for her, and that God proposes a long era of prosperity and active life to an ancient nation which is only now beginning to live.
In such cases, whether it be a people or an individual, which is entering upon its life, crowds of advisers are ever to be found ready to display their wisdom and lay down the plans whose adoption will infallibly bring prosperity and happiness to the individual or people in question.
Ireland, to-day, suffers from no lack of wise counsellors and ardent well-wishers. Unfortunately, their various projects do not always harmonize; indeed, they are sometimes contradictory, and, as their number is by no means small, the only difficulty is where to choose which road the nation should take in order to march in the right direction.
In entering upon this portion of our work, where we have to deal with actual questions of the day, and if not to draw the horoscope of the future, at least to give utterance to our ideas for the promotion of the welfare of the nation, we shall appear to come under the same catalogue of advisers, fully persuaded, with the rest, that our advice is the right, our voice the only one worthy of attention.
Our purpose is far humbler; our reflections take another shape; we merely say
During the last hundred years, Ireland has changed wonderfully for the better; and although the old wounds are not yet quite healed up, though they still smart, though she is still poor and disconsolate, and her trials and afflictions far from being ended; nevertheless, though sorely tried, Providence has been kind to her. Many of her rights have been restored, and she is no longer the slave of hard task-masters. When she now speaks, her voice is no longer met by the gibe and sneer, but with a kind of awe akin to respect, her enemies seeming to feel instinctively that it is the voice of a nation which no longer may be safely despised.
This fact being indisputable, the conviction forces itself upon us that her improved condition is mainly, perhaps solely, due to Providence; and that the career upon which she has entered, and which she is now pursuing with a clear determination of her own, has been marked out, designed, and already partially run, under the guidance of that God for whom alone she has suffered, and who never fails in his own good time to dry up the tears shed for his sake, and crown his martyrs with victory.
Our task is merely to examine the progress made, the manner of its making, the direction toward which it tends, with the aim, if possible, of adding to its speed. We have no new plan to offer, no gratuitous advice to give. The plan is already sketched out—God has sketched it; and our only aim is to see how man may cooperate with designs far higher than any proposed by human wisdom.
The first thing that strikes us, standing on the verge of this new region, opening out dimly but gloriously before our eyes, is one great fact which is plain to all; which is greater than all England's concessions to Ireland, more fruitful of happy consequences, not alone to the latter country itself, but to the world at large; a fact which is the strongest proof of the vitality of the Irish race, which now begins to win for it respect by bringing forth its real strength, a strength to astonish the world; which began feebly when the evils of the country were at their height, but has gone on constantly increasing until it has now grown to extraordinary proportions; and which instead of, as their enemies fondly supposed, wresting Ireland from the Irish, has made their claim to the native soil securer than ever, by spreading strong supporters of their rights through the world. This great fact is emigration.
At this moment, Irishmen are scattered abroad over the earth. In many regions they have numbers, and form compact bodies. Wherever this occurs, they acquire a real power in the land which they have made their new home. That power is certainly intended by Almighty God to be used wisely, prudently, but actively and energetically; not only for the good of those who have been thus transplanted in a new soil, but also for the good of the mother-country which they cannot, if they would, forget. How can they utilize for such a purpose the power so recently acquired, the wealth, the influence, the consideration they enjoy, in their new country? How may such a course benefit the land of their nativity as of their origin? These are important questions; they are not airy theories, but rise up clearly from a standing and stupendous fact. The turning their power of expansion to its right use, the reproduction with Christian aim of that old power of expansion peculiar to the Celtic race three thousand years ago, is what we call the first true issue of the Irish question:- Emigration and its Possible Effects.
In order to judge with proper understanding of the prospective effects of Irish emigration, it is fitting to study the fact in all its bearings; to examine the origin and various phases of the mighty movement, the religious direction it has invariably taken, the immediate good it has produced, and the special consideration of the vast proportions which it has finally assumed. The task may be a long one; but it is certainly important and interesting; and it is only after the details of it have been thoroughly sifted that one may be in a position to judge rightly of the aid it has already furnished, and which it is destine to furnish in a still greater degree, to the uprising of the nation.
The movement originated with the Reformation. It began with the flight of a few of the nobility in the reign of Henry VIII.; their number was increased under Elizabeth, and grew to larger proportions still under James I.; but a far greater number, sufficient to make a very sensible diminution in the population of the country, was doomed to exile by Cromwell and the Long Parliament. It then became a compulsory banishment.
The next following movement on a large scale occurred after the surrender of Kilkenny, when the Irish commanders, Colonel Fitzpatrick, Clanricard, and others, could obtain no better terms than emigration to any foreign country then at peace with England. The Irish troops were eagerly caught up by the various European monarchs, so highly were their services esteemed. The number that thus left their native land, many of them never to return, amounted, according to well-informed writers, to forty thousand men, of noble blood most of them, many of the first nobility of the land, and almost all children of the old race. The details of this first exodus are to be found in the pages of many modern authors, particularly in Mr. Prendergast's "Cromwellian Settlement."
The example thus given was followed on many occasions. The Treaty of Limerick, October 3, 1691, gave the garrison under Saarsfield liberty to join the army of King William or enter the service of France. Mr. A.M. O'Sullivan has given a spirited sketch of the making of their choice by the heroic garrison as it defiled out of the city:
"On the morning of the 5th of October the Irish regiments were to make their choice between exile for life or service in the armies of their conqueror. At each end of a gently-rising ground beyond the suburbs were planted on one side the royal standard of France, and on the other that of England. It was agreed that the regiments, as they marched out with all the honors of war, drums beating, colors flying, and matches lighted, should, on reaching the spot, wheel to the left or to the right, beneath that flag under which they elected to serve. At the head of the Irish marched the Foot Guards, the finest regiment in the service, fourteen hundred strong. All eyes were fixed on this splendid body of men. On they came, amid breathless silence and acute suspense; for well both the English and Irish generals knew that the choice of the first regiment would powerfully influence all the rest. The Guards marched up to the critical spot, and in a body wheeled to the colors of France, barely seven men turning to the English side! Ginckle, we are told, was greatly agitated as he witnessed the proceeding. The next regiment, however (Lord Iveagh's), marched as unanimously to the Williamite banner, as did also portions of two others. But the bulk of the Irish army defiled under fleur-de-lys of King Louis, only one thousand and forty-six, out of nearly fourteen thousand men, preferring the service of England."
From that time out a large number of the Irish nobility and gentry continued to enlist under French, Spanish, or Austrian colors; and the several Irish brigades became celebrated all over Europe until the end of the eighteenth century. It is said by l'abbe McGeohegan that six hundred thousand Irishmen perished in the armies of France alone. The abbe is generally very accurate, and from his long residence in France had every means at his disposal of arriving at the truth. Some pretend that double the number enlisted in foreign service. There is no doubt that in all a million men left the island to take service under the banners of Catholic sovereigns, and it is needless to dwell on the bravery and devotion of those men whom the persecution of an unwise and cruel Protestant government drove out of Ireland during the eighteenth century-it is needless to dwell upon it, for the record is known to the world.
Without following the fortunes of the Irish brigades, the history of one of which, that in the service of France, has been given us in the very interesting and valuable narrative of John R. O'Callaghan-its various fortunes and final dissolution at the breaking out of the French republic, when the English Government was glad to receive back the scattered remnants of it-the question which bears most on our present subject is: What was the occupation of those Irishmen on the Continent when not actually engaged in war? What service did their voluntary or compulsory exile do their native country? Was that long emigration of a century productive of something out of which Providence may have drawn good?
The first departure of a few under Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell had already spread the name of Ireland through Spain, Italy, and Belgium. The reports of the numerous English spies, employed to dog their steps and watch their movements, reports some of which have been finally brought to light, conclusively prove that most of the exiles held honorable positions in Spain and Portugal, at Valladolid and Lisbon, where the O'Sullivans and O'Driscolls lived; at the very court of Spain, or in the Spanish navy, like the Bourkes and the Cavanaghs.
In Flanders, under the Austrian archdukes, were stationed the McShanes, on the Groyne; the Daniells at Antwerp; the posterity of the earls themselves with that of their former retinue. All held rank in the Austrian army, and even in times of peace were occupied in thinking of possible entanglements whereby they might serve their country, while they made the Irish name honored and respected all over that rich land. In Italy, at Naples, Leghorn, Florence, and Rome, in the great centres of the peninsula, the same thing was taking place, and there, at least, the calumnies, everywhere so industriously circulated about Ireland, could not penetrate, or, if they did, only to be received with scorn.
But, when the next emigration, at the end of the Cromwellian and Williamite wars, landed forty thousand soldiers, and twelve thousand more a few years afterward, on the European Continent, these armed men proved to the nations, by their bravery, their deep attachment to their religion, their perfect honor and generosity, that the people from which a persecuting power had driven them forth could not be composed of the outlaws and blood- thirsty cutthroats which the reports of their enemies would make them. How striking and permanent must have been the effect produced on impartial minds by the contrast between the aspect of the reality and the base fabrications of skilfully-scattered rumor!
And be it borne in mind that those men founded families in the countries where they settled; as well as those who continued to flock thither during the whole of the eighteenth century. They carried about with them, in their very persons even, the history of Ireland's wrongs; and the mere sight of them was enough to interest all with whom they came in contact in favor of their country. Hence the esteem and sympathy which Ireland and her people have always met with in France, where the calumnies and ridicule lavished on them could never find an entrance.
It would be a great error to imagine that they were to be found only in the camp or in the garrisons of cities. They made themselves a home in their new country, and their children entered upon all the walks of life opened up to the citizens of the country in which they resided. Thus, at least, the name of Ireland did not die out altogether during that age of gloom, when their native isle was only the prison of the race, where it was chained down in abject misery, out of the sight of the world, the life of it stifled out in the deep dungeon of oblivion.
In all honorable professions they became distinguished-in the Church and in trade, as in the army. Thus, speaking only of France, an Irishman-Edgeworth-was chosen by Louis XVI. to prepare him for death and stand by him during his last ordeal of ignominy; another-Lally Tollendal-would have wrested India from England, if his ardent temperament had not brought him enemies where he ought to have met with friends; another yet-Walsh- during the American War, employed the wealth acquired by trade, in sending cruisers against the English to American waters.
It would take long pages to record what those noble exiles accomplished for the good of their country and religion, quite apart from the heroism they displayed on battle-fields, and their fidelity to principle during times of peace. Their very presence in foreign countries was, perhaps, the best protest against the enslavement of their own. They showed by their bearing that they owed no allegiance to England, and that brute force could never establish right. By identifying themselves with the nations which offered them hospitality and a new right of citizenship, they proved to the world that their native isle could be governed by native citizens. Their honorable conduct and successful activity in every pursuit of life showed that, as they were capable of governing themselves, so likewise could they claim self-government for their country.
The moral condition of France during the eighteenth century, and the depths of corruption into which the higher class sank in so short a time, are known to all. To the honor of the Irish nobility and gentry then in France, not a single Irish name is to be met with in that long list of noble names which have disgraced that page of French history. Not in the luxurious bowers and palaces of Louis XV. were they to be found, but on the battle-fields of Dettingen and Fontenoy. It was a Scotchman- Law-who infected the higher circles of the natives with the rage for speculation, and the folly of gambling in paper. It was an Italian- Cagliostro-who traded on the superstitious credulity of men who had lost their faith. It was an Englishman-Lord Derwentwater-and another Scotchman-Ramsay-who, by the introduction of the first Masonic Lodge into France, opened the floodgates of future revolutions.
Among those of foreign birth, no Irishman was found in France to contribute to the corruption of the nation, and give his aid to set agoing that long era of woe not yet ended.
And needless is it to add that never is one of them mentioned, among those who were so active in propagating that broad infidelity peculiar to that age. If a few of them shared to some extent in the general delusion, and took part with the vast multitude in the insane derision, then so fashionable, of every thing holy, their number was small indeed, and none of them acquired in that peculiar line, the celebrity which crowned so many others. -the Grimms, the Gallianis, and later on the Paines, the Cloots, and other foreigners.
As a body, the Irish remained faithful to the Church of their fathers, honoring her by their conduct, and their respectful demeanor toward holy names and holy things. Eventually they, in common with all Frenchmen, had to share in the misfortunes, brought on by the subversion of all the former guiding principles; but, though sharing in the punishment, they took no part in the great causes which called it down.
These few words will suffice for the emigration of the Irish nobility, and its effects on foreign countries; as well as Ireland itself.
But another class of noblemen had emigrated to the Continent side by side with those of whom we have just spoken; namely, bishops, priests, monks, and learned men. England would not suffer the Catholic clergy in Ireland; she was particularly careful not to allow Irish youth the benefit of any but a Protestant education. Irish clergymen were compelled to fly and open houses of study abroad. Their various colleges in Spain, France, Belgium, and Italy, are well known; they have already been referred to, and it is not necessary to enlarge on the subject. But, though mention has been made of the renown thus acquired by Irishmen then residing on the Continent, it is fitting to speak of them again in their character of emigrants.
They took upon themselves the noble task of making the literature and the history of their nation known to all people; and in so doing they have preserved a rich literature which must otherwise have perished.
What was their situation on the Continent? They had been driven by persecution from their country, sometimes in troops of exiles to be cast on some remote shore; sometimes escaping singly and in disguise, they went out alone to end their lives under a foreign sky. Behind them they left the desolate island; their friends bowed down in misery, their enemies triumphant and in full power. The convents, where they had spent their happiest days, were either demolished or turned to vile uses; their churches desecrated; heresy ruling the land, truth compelled to be silent. All the harrowing details given by the "Prophet of Lamentations" might be applied to their beloved country.
True, they could find peace and rest among those who offered them their hospitality; at least, the worship of God would be free and untrammelled there. But it was not the place of their birth, where they had received their first education; it was not the mission intrusted to them when they consecrated their lives to God. They would bear another language, see around them different manners, begin life anew, perhaps, in their old age. What a contrast to their former hopes! What a sad ending to the closing days of their life!
Nevertheless, they might be of use to their countrymen. It was not for them now to convert Europe, and preach Christianity to barbarous tribes, as did their ancestors of old. The world which received them was languishing with excess of refined civilization; corruption had entered in, and was fast destroying it; and they could scarcely hope to hold it back from its downward career. But, at least, they might open houses for the reception of the youth of their own country, where they should receive an education according to the teachings of the true Church, which was denied them at home. So they went to Salamanca, to Valladolid, to Paris, Louvain, Douai, Rheims, Rome, wherever there was hope or possibility of directing Irish youth in the ways of true piety and learning.
The labors to which they devoted themselves, though unknown to posterity, were of great utility at the time. They saw the youth they educated grow up under their care; when their studies were concluded, they sent them to labor in the ministry among their countrymen; they heard of them from time to time of their arduous life, the dangers they braved, the many persecutions they underwent, their imprisonment when captured, their conviction, torture often, and death by martyrdom. And thus, through the exertions of those emigrant monks and priests, the true Gospel was preached in Ireland, and the faith of the people kept alive and strong.
A few of them chose another path, and consecrated the remainder of their days to literary labors, which have shed down on their persecuted country a halo of immortal glory.
Some Franciscan friars (two of them the brothers O'Cleary) had already begun this work in the island itself, when driven from their quiet homes to take refuge in the obscure "convents," that is, out-of-the-way farm-houses mentioned before, where they were received and hidden away from the world. The literature of Ireland was fast perishing; the rage of their enemies being as violently directed against their books as against their houses and churches. Precious manuscripts were every day given to the flames and wantonly destroyed, seemingly for the mere pleasure of destruction. A very few years would have sufficed to render the former history of the country a perfect blank. In no spot of the same size on earth had so many interesting books ever been written and treasured up; but before long there would remain no friars on the island to preserve them, no library to contain them, no one to care for them in the least. The brothers O'Cleary saw this with dismay; and they, with two companions, became known as the "Four Masters." They interested in their work the faithful Irish who still retained possession of a farm, or a cabin with a few acres of ground attached; the men, and women even, were to search the country round for every volume concealed or preserved, for every parchment and relic, for vellum manuscripts, even a stray solitary page, did one remain alone. The annals of Ireland were thus saved by the literary patriotism of poor and unknown peasants. All that remains of Irish lore was collected together in the rural convent of the O'Clearys, and an ardent flame was enkindled which lasted the whole of the seventeenth century.
To this initiative must be referred the subsequent labors of Ward, Colgan, Lynch, and others; herculean labors truly, which have enabled antiquarians of our days to resume the thread, so near being snapped, of that long and tangled web of history wherein is woven all that can interest the patriot and the Christian of the island.
Knowing the position in which the writers found themselves, it is astonishing to see what they wrote. It was not a work of fancy to which their pens were devoted: A strong, feeling heart and an active imagination were certainly theirs; but of little service could either prove to them in the ungrateful task of collecting manuscripts, classifying, reading them through, ascertaining their age and authenticity, and finally using them for the purpose of preserving the annals and hagiography of the nation.
The large libraries they found in the various cities which received them could be of little use to them. They had first to collect their own libraries, to summon their authorities from distant lands; many books were to be procured from Ireland itself. With what precautions! It was real, (though lawful) smuggling; for the export of Irish books was not only under tariff, but strictly prohibited; the mere sight of them was more hateful to a British custom-house officer of those days than the sight of a crucifix to a Japanese official of Nagasaki. It would be interesting to know the various stratagems devised to conceal them, tarry them away, and convey them triumphantly to Louvain, Paris, or Rome.
But Ireland was not the only repository of Irish books. Many letters, official documents, copies of old MSS., interesting relics of antiquity, had been gathered ages before and during all the intervening time, in convents, churches, houses of education, on the Continent, along the Rhine chiefly. It is said that even to-day the richest mines of yet unexplored lore of this character are scattered along both sides of the great German river. The frequent movements of various armies, the sieges of cities, the horrors of war which have raged there constantly from the days of Arminius and Varro down, have not destroyed every thing, could not exhaust the rich deposit of Irish manuscripts there concealed. But the labor of striking the mine!-of' opening those musty pages falling to pieces between the fingers and leaving in the hand nothing but illegible fragments of half-blackened parchment; and the further labor of deciphering them, of discovering what they speak about, and if they are likely to prove useful to the purposes.