The State of Ireland before and after the Union—Advancement of Trade
before the Union—Depression after it—Lord Clare and Lord Castlereagh
in the English Parliament—The Catholic Question becomes a Ministerial
Difficulty—The Veto—The O'Connell Sept—Early Life of Daniel
O'Connell—The Doneraile Conspiracy—O'Connell as Leader of the Catholic
Party—The Clare Election—O'Connell in the English House of
Parliament—Sir Robert Peel—George IV. visits Ireland—Disturbances in
Ireland from the Union to the year 1834, and their Causes—Parliamentary
Evidence—The "Second Reformation"—Catholic Emancipation—Emigration,
its Causes and Effects—Colonial Policy of England—Statistics of
American Trade and Population—Importance of the Irish and Catholic
Element in America—Conclusion.

[A.D. 1800-1868.]

t is both a mistake and an injustice to suppose that the page of Irish
history closed with the dawn of that summer morning, in the year of
grace 1800, when the parliamentary union of Great Britain and Ireland
was enacted. I have quoted Sir Jonah Barrington's description of the
closing night of the Irish Parliament, because he writes as an
eyewitness, and because few could describe its "last agony" with more
touching eloquence and more vivid truthfulness; but I beg leave, in the
name of my country, to protest against his conclusion, that "Ireland, as
a nation, was extinguished." There never was, and we must almost fear
there never will be, a moment in the history of our nation, in which her
independence was proclaimed more triumphantly or gloriously, than when
O'Connell, the noblest and the best of her sons, obtained Catholic

The immediate effects of the dissolution of the Irish Parliament were
certainly appalling. The measure was carried on the 7th of June, 1800.
On the 16th of April, 1782, another measure had been carried, to which I
must briefly call your attention. That measure was the independence of
the Irish Parliament. When it passed, Grattan rose once more in the
House, and exclaimed: "Ireland is now a nation! In that new character I
hail her, and bowing to her august presence, I say, Esto perpetua!" period of unexampled prosperity followed. The very effects of a reaction
from conditions under which commerce was purposely restricted and trade
paralyzed by law, to one of comparative freedom, could not fail to
produce such a result. If the Parliament had been reformed when it was
freed, it is probable that Ireland at this moment would be the most
prosperous of nations. But the Parliament was not reformed. The
prosperity which followed was rather the effect of reaction, than of any
real settlement of the Irish question. The land laws, which
unquestionably are the grievance of Ireland, were left untouched, an
alien Church was allowed to continue its unjust exactions; and though
Ireland was delivered, her chains were not all broken; and those which
were, still hung loosely round her, ready for the hand of traitor or of
foe. Though nominally freed from English control, the Irish Parliament
was not less enslaved by English influence. Perhaps there had never been
a period in the history of that nation when bribery was more freely
used, when corruption was more predominant. A considerable number of the
peers in the Irish House were English by interest and by education; a
majority of the members of the Lower House were their creatures. A man
who ambitioned a place in Parliament, should conform to the opinions of
his patron; the patron was willing to receive a "compensation" for
making his opinions, if he had any, coincide with those of the
Government. Many of the members were anxious for preferment for
themselves or their friends; the price of preferment was a vote for
ministers. The solemn fact of individual responsibility for each
individual act, had yet to be understood. Perhaps the lesson has yet to
be learned.

One of the first acts of the Irish independent Parliament, was to order
the appointment of a committee to inquire into the state of the
manufactures of the kingdom, and to ascertain what might be necessary
for their improvement. The hearts of the poor, always praying for
employment, which had been so long and so cruelly withheld from them,
bounded with joy. Petitions poured in on every side. David Bosquet had
erected mills in Dublin for the manufacture of metals; he prayed for
help. John and Henry Allen had woollen manufactories in the county
Dublin; they prayed for help. Thomas Reilly, iron merchant, of the town
of Wicklow, wished to introduce improvements in iron works. James Smith,
an Englishman, had cotton manufactories at Balbriggan; he wished to
extend them. Anthony Dawson, of Dundrum, near Dublin, had water mills
for making tools for all kinds of artisans; this, above all, should be
encouraged, now that there was some chance of men having some use for
tools. Then there were requests for aid to establish carpet
manufactories, linen manufactories, glass manufactories, &c.; and Robert
Burke, Esq., of the county Kildare, prayed for the loan of £40,000 for
seven years, that he might establish manufactories at Prosperous. These
few samples of petitions, taken at random from many others, will enable
the reader to form some faint idea of the state of depression in which
Ireland was kept by the English nation—of the eagerness of the Irish to
work if they were only permitted to do so.

The Irish revenue for the year 1783 was, in round numbers, £900,000,
which amounted to a tax of about six shillings per annum on each person.
It was distributed thus:

For the interest of the National Debt, £120,000
Army and Ordnance, Civil Government, and other funds, 450,000
Pensions, grants, bounties, and aids to manufacturers, 250,000
Surplus unappropriated, 80,000
Total, £900,000

More than £200,000 was spent during that year in erecting forts,
batteries, and other public buildings, which gave employment to the
people in certain districts. Large sums were granted to the poor of Cork
and Dublin for coals; and large grants were made to encourage
manufactures. I have observed, however, in carefully examining these
grants, which are by far too numerous for insertion, that they were
principally, and, indeed, I might say exclusively, made to persons in
Dublin and its neighbourhood, in the north of Ireland, and in the cities of Cork and Limerick. Hence, the prosperity of Ireland was only
partial, and was confined exclusively, though, probably, not
intentionally, to certain districts. This will explain why the misery
and starvation of the poor, in the less favoured parts of the country,
were a principal cause of the fearful insurrection which occurred within
a few short years.

Lord Clare proclaimed, in the House of Parliament, that "no nation on
the habitable globe had advanced in cultivation, commerce, and
manufactures, with the same rapidity as Ireland, from 1782 to 1800." The population increased from three millions to five. There were 5,000
carpenters fully employed in Dublin; there were 15,000 silk-weavers. Nor
should we be surprised at this; for Dublin possesses at the present day
substantial remains of her former prosperity, which are even now the
admiration of Europe. All her great public buildings were erected at
this period. The Custom-house was commenced, and completed in ten years,
at a cost of a quarter of a million sterling. The Rotundo was commenced
in 1784. The Law Courts, the most elegant and extensive in the British
Empire, were begun in 1786. In 1788 there were 14,327 dwelling-houses in
Dublin, and 110,000 inhabitants. Two hundred and twenty peers and three
hundred commoners had separate residences. Dublin was fashionable, and
Dublin prospered.[584]

I have already said that corruption soon did its fatal work. It
sanctioned, nay, it compelled, the persecution of the majority of the
nation for their religious creed; and with this persecution the last
flame of national prosperity expired, and the persecutors and the
persecuted shared alike in the common ruin. In 1792 Lord Edward
FitzGerald denounced the conduct of the House in these ever-memorable
words: "I do think, sir, that the Lord Lieutenant and the majority of
this House are the worst subjects the King has;" and when a storm arose,
the more violent from consciousness that his words were but too true,
for all retraction he would only say:

"I am accused of having said that I think the Lord Lieutenant and the
majority of this House are the worst subjects the King has. I said so;
'tis true; and I am sorry for it."

On the 1st of January, 1801, a new imperial standard was exhibited on
London Tower, and on the Castles of Dublin and Edinburgh. It was formed
of the three crosses of St. George, St. Patrick, and St. Andrew, and is
popularly known as the Union Jack. The fleur de lis and the word
France were omitted from royal prerogatives and titles; and a
proclamation was issued appointing the words Dei Gratia, Britaniarum
Rex, Fidei Defensor
. The Dublin Gazette of July, 1800, contained the
significant announcement of the creation of sixteen new peerages. The
same publication for the last week of the year contained a fresh list of
twenty-six others. Forty-two creations in six months were rather an
extensive stretch of prerogative; and we cannot be surprised if the
majority of the nation had more respect for the great untitled, whose
ancestry were known, and were quite above accepting the miserable bribe
of a modern peerage.

Strangely enough, from the very day on which the Union was proclaimed,
the Catholic question became a ministerial difficulty. Pitt's
administration failed on this very point, although it had seemed
invincible a few weeks before. The obstinacy of the King, which, indeed,
almost amounted to a monomania, was the principal cause. He made it a
personal matter, declared it the "most jacobinical thing he had ever
heard of;" and he informed the world at large that he would consider any
man who proposed it his personal enemy. Pitt resigned. Opinions varied
as to his motives. He returned to office in 1804, having promised that
he would not again press the subject; and he adhered to his
determination until his death. The Irish nobles, who had worked hardest
to carry the Union, were somewhat disappointed as to the result. Lord
Clare was told by the Duke of Bedford, that the Union had not
transferred his dictatorial powers to the Imperial Parliament. He
retired to Ireland deeply chagrined, and was soon borne to his grave,
amid the revilings of the people whom he had betrayed. Lord Castlereagh,
who had been less accustomed to command, and had less difficulty in
stooping to conquer, succeeded better with his English friends, and in a
few years he ruled the cabinets of Europe; while the Iron Duke, another
Irishman, dictated to their armies.

In 1803 the flame of insurrection again broke out, and again French aid
was expected, and the expedition ended in disappointment. Napoleon
himself regretted that he had turned his armies towards Egypt, instead
of towards Ireland. Emmet's career was brief, and would probably have
been almost forgotten, but for his famous speech at the moment of
receiving sentence, and for the history of his love and her devoted
attachment to his memory.

In 1805 Grattan entered the Imperial Parliament, at the request of Fox.
An English constituency was found for him. At the same time, Plunket was
brought into the house by Pitt; and thus these two famous men, the one
so full of the brilliant, and the other so full of the powerful, gifts
of mental science, again pleaded their country's cause together, and in
perfect harmony, though differing on some political points. When Grattan
first rose to address the British Senate, there was a hushed attention
to his every word; as his eloquence kindled with his subject, there were
suppressed murmurs of approbation; when he had concluded, there were
thunders of applause. His subject was a petition from the Irish
Catholics, which was presented to both Houses in 1805. The division gave
339 to 124 against going into committee; still it was something gained,
when Englishmen even listened to Irish grievances, or made some effort
to understand them.

The Veto was now suggested. The object of this was to allow the crown
a passive voice, if not an active one, in the nomination of Catholic
bishops. Happily for the Catholic Church in Ireland, the proposal was
steadily rejected, though with a determination which brought even
members of the same Church into collision. Connexion with the State
might have procured temporal advantages, but they would have been in
truth a poor compensation for the loss of that perfect freedom of action
so essential to the spiritual advancement of the Church.

The Duke of Richmond came to Ireland in 1807, with Sir Arthur Wellesley
as Chief Secretary. The young man, whose fame was yet unattained, showed
himself as clearheaded in the cabinet as in the camp. He made every
attempt to suppress the party demonstrations which have been the curse
of Ireland, and induced the Wexford people to discontinue their annual
celebration of the battle of Vinegar Hill. If he could have suppressed a
few other anniversaries in the north, it would have been a blessing to
the United Kingdom. In 1806 Mr. Grattan was returned for Dublin, and
generously refused the sum of £4,000, which his constituents had
collected to pay his expenses. The Catholic question was now constantly
coming up, and more than one cabinet was formed and dissolved according
to the views of the different members on that matter. A new element of
vitality had been introduced by the relaxation of the penal laws. Men
were no longer afraid to ask for a grace which they wanted, lest they
should lose a grace which they had. The people found that they might
speak their real opinions without apprehensions of attempts at
conversion in the shape of pitchcaps and half-hangings; and when the
people were ready for a leader, the leader was ready for the people; and
Daniel O'Connell took the place in the guidance of the Irish nation,
which he will never lose in their memory and in their affections.

The history of Ireland and the life of O'Connell are convertible terms
for five-and-forty years. O'Connell represented Ireland, and Ireland was
represented by O'Connell. We have had our great men and our good men,
our brave men and our true men; but, to my poor thinking, the greatest
of our men was O'Connell—for who ever approached him in his mighty
power of ruling a nation by moral suasion only? the best of our men was
O'Connell, for who dare assert that he was ever unfaithful to his
country or to his country's faith? the bravest of our men was O'Connell,
equally fearless in every danger, moral or physical; and the truest of
our men was O'Connell, dying of a broken heart in a faraway land,
because he saw his country's cause all but ruined—because he knew that
with his failing breath one of his country's surest helpers would pass
from her for ever. A thoughtfully written "History of the life and
Times of O'Connell," by some one really competent to do justice to the
subject, is much wanted. I believe that posterity will do justice to his
memory as one of the best and noblest patriots which the world has ever
seen—a justice which as yet has been scarcely accorded to him as fully
as he has merited. Had O'Connell accomplished no other work for Ireland
than this—the giving of a tone of nationality and manliness to the
people—he had accomplished a most glorious work. He taught Irishmen
that chains do not make the slave, but rather the spirit in which the
chains are worn. He awoke, in the hearts of his countrymen, that love of
freedom, which is the first step towards making a successful effort to
obtain it. He showed them how they might intimidate their oppressors
without injuring themselves—a lesson eminently necessary where the
oppressors are incomparably more powerful than the oppressed.

The sept of O'Connell, from which this noble man was descended held a
prominent position among the early Milesian clans. Pure Celtic blood ran
in his veins; the fire of Celtic wit sparkled in his utterances; the
lighthearted happiness of a Celtic spirit guided his actions; and the
undaunted bravery of a Celtic warrior's courage looked out of his clear
beaming eye. A nobleman, in truth, was Daniel O'Connell—a nobleman of
whom any nation might justly be proud—a nobleman to whom we must hope
that Ireland will yet raise some monument of enduring fame. The
O'Connell sept were driven from their ancestral homes, in 1172, by
Raymond, Strongbow's son-in-law. Their territory lay along the Shannon.
They were now compelled to take refuge in a wild and desolate part of
Kerry, too wild and too desolate to attract English cupidity. A MS. is
still preserved in the British Museum, written by one of the O'Connell
family; it is in the Irish language, and bears date 1245. In this
document mention is made of a Daniel O'Connell, who proceeded to the
north of Ireland, at the head of a large body of men, to resist an
invading force. The Celts were successful; and when they had won the
day, the chieftain and his vanquished foes feasted together. In 1586
Richard O'Connell was High Sheriff of Kerry; but, from the accession of
William III., until the illustrious Liberator obtained some degree of
freedom for his country, all the O'Connells were prescribed from
positions of emolument, for having held with unswerving fidelity to the
old faith.

O'Connell was born on the 6th of August, 1775, "the very year," as he
himself says, in a letter to the Dublin Evening Post, "in which the
stupid obstinacy of British oppression forced the reluctant people of
America to seek for security in arms, and to commence that bloody
struggle for national independence, which has been in its results
beneficial to England, whilst it has shed glory, and conferred liberty,
pure and sublime, on America." He was educated at St. Omers, and it is
said manifested some inclination for the priesthood; but there can be no
doubt that his vocation lay in another direction, as he was incomparably
too deeply religious and too thoroughly honest not to have obeyed the
call of God at any cost, had such a favour been vouchsafed to him. It is
said, whatever his dislike of physical force may have been in
after-life, that he unquestionably knew how to use the argumentum
in his early days; and that more than one student was made to
feel the effects thereof, when attempting ill-natured jokes on the
herculean Celt. During his residence abroad he had some opportunities of
witnessing the fearful effects of the French Revolution; and it is
probable that a remembrance of these scenes, added to his own admirably
keen common sense, saved him from leading his countrymen on to deeds of
open violence. He was called to the Irish bar in the memorable year of
1798. For some time he failed to obtain practice; for who would confide
their case to a young Catholic lawyer, when the fact of his creed alone
would be sufficient to condemn his client in the eyes of Protestant
juries, judges, and attorneys? His maiden speech was made in opposition
to the Union, even as his life was spent in the most strenuous efforts
to obtain the reversal of that most fatal measure. A meeting was held in
the Royal Exchange, Dublin, at the close of the year 1799, to petition
against it; but even as O'Connell was denouncing, in his most eloquent
language, the new attempt at national degradation, Major Sirr and his
file of military rushed into the apartment, and separated the assembly.
O'Connell now retired into private life, and, with the marvellous
foresight of true genius, devoted himself to storing up that forensic
knowledge which he felt sure he should one day use for the benefit of
his countrymen.

One of the most important instances in which O'Connell's legal acumen
saved the lives of his countrymen, is known as the "Doneraile
Conspiracy;" and as all the facts are eminently illustrative of the
history of Ireland at that period, and of the character and abilities of
one of her most distinguished sons, I shall relate the circumstances.
Several Protestant gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Doneraile, had been
making those abortive efforts to "convert" their tenants from Popery,
which usually end in no small amount of ill-feeling on both sides;
another of these gentlemen, with equal zeal and equal want of common
sense and common humanity, had devoted himself to hunting out real or
supposed rebels. This gentleman had at last brought on himself an armed
attack, for which he deserved little pity. He contrived, however, to
capture one of his assailants, who, of course, was hung. The gentlemen
having thus excited the unfortunate peasantry, pointed to the results of
their own folly as though these results had been the cause of it; and an
informer came forward, who, with the usual recklessness of his atrocious
class, accused some of the most respectable farmers of the district of
having entered into a conspiracy to murder the Protestant gentlemen,—a
cruel return certainly had it been true, for their earnest efforts to
convert the natives from "the errors of Popery to those of the
Protestant Church." A special commission was sent down; the wildest
excitement prevailed on all sides; and, as was usual in such cases, the
bitterest prejudice against the unfortunate accused. The
Solicitor-General led for the crown: the defence was a simple denial. In
such cases the examination of the approvers is the great point for the
accused, and should be confided to the ablest counsel. One of the
unfortunate prisoners was a respectable farmer, aged seventy, of whom
the highest character was given. But it was all in vain; after five
minutes' deliberation, the jury gave in the verdict of guilty. As the
men were to be made an "example of," they were sentenced to be hanged in
six days. This was on Saturday. The next lot of prisoners was to be
tried at nine o'clock on Monday morning. There was one universal cry for
"O'Connell," from the great multitude who knew these poor victims were
perfectly innocent. On Saturday night a farmer mounted the best horse
that could be found in Cork, and, after a night of incessant riding, he
reached Derrynane Abbey on Sunday morning at nine o'clock. His name was
William Burke: let it be transmitted with all honour to posterity! He
told his errand to one who never listened unmoved to the tale of his
country's sorrows and wrongs; and he assured O'Connell that, unless he
were in Cork by nine next morning, the unfortunate prisoners, "though
innocent as the child unborn," would all be hanged. The great man at
once prepared for his journey; and so wild was the joy of Burke, so sure
was he that there would now be a hope, if not a certainty, of justice,
that only the earnest entreaties of O'Connell could induce him to remain
a few hours to rest his weary horse. On the same good horse he set out
again, and reached Cork at eight o'clock on Monday morning, having
travelled 180 miles in thirty-eight hours. Scouts had been posted all
along the road to watch the man's return: even as he passed through each
little village, there was an anxious crowd waiting the word of life or
death. "O'Connell's coming, boys!" was enough; and a wild cheer, which
rent the very mountains, told how keenly an act of justice could be
appreciated by the most justice-loving people upon earth. And O'Connell
did come. He has himself described the sensations of that midnight
journey, through all the autumn beauties of the most beautiful scenery
in the United Kingdom. And then he exclaims: "After that glorious feast
of soul, I found myself settled down amid all the rascalities of an
Irish court of justice."

The Solicitor-General was actually addressing the jury, when the shouts
of the excited crowd announced the arrival of one who, by this act of
his life alone, deserves, par excellence, the proud and glorious title
of the LIBERATOR. He entered the courthouse, apologized for his
unprofessional attire; and as he had no refreshment, and there was no
time to lose, he requested permission of the judges to have a bowl of
milk and some sandwiches sent to him. The Solicitor-General resumed his
address, but had not proceeded far before the stentorian voice of
O'Connell was heard exclaiming: "That's not law." The bench decided in
his favour. He was rapidly swallowing as much food as was necessary to
sustain nature, and once more, with his mouth full, he exclaims: "That's
no longer law; the Act is repealed." Again the mortified counsel
proceeded with his case, and once more O'Connell's knowledge of law
served him in good stead. "The learned Solicitor," he exclaimed, "has no right to make such a statement; the crown cannot give such matters
in evidence." For the third time the ruling was in favour of the
Liberator. Then came the all-important cross-examination of the
approvers; and the men who had lied so well and so boldly on Saturday,
prevaricated, cursed, and howled under the searching questions of their
new examiner; Nowlan, the vilest of the lot, exclaiming at last: "It's
little I thought I'd have to meet you, Counsellor O'Connell." Alas!
thrice-wretched man, who thought still less of another Court and another
Judgment. O'Connell won the day. He threatened the very
Solicitor-General with impeachment before the House of Commons, for the
way he conducted the case. He taunted him, bewildered him, scolded him,
laughed at him, as he only could do; and when at last the unfortunate
man came out with some observation about "false facts," O'Connell
threw the whole court into a roar of laughter by directing attention to
the bull, and by his inimitable imitation of his English accent. The
jury could not agree, and the men were acquitted. Another trial came on
next day, and it was then discovered that one of the approvers differed
in most important matters from his statements on oath before the
magistrates of Doneraile, and in what he now stated. This was enough;
and the jury brought in a verdict of not guilty, though, on the very
same evidence, a verdict of guilty had been given on Saturday. As an
act, however, of great clemency, the men who had been sentenced to be
hanged in six days, were now only transported.

During the time of O'Connell's retirement and study, he had but too many
opportunities of knowing how little justice was likely to be meted out
to Irishmen accused, justly or unjustly, of political crimes; and,
doubtless, he directed his studies to those special points most likely
to be helpful hereafter. Robert Emmet's execution took place in October,
1803; and from that hour, until the accession of the Whigs to office, in
1806, Ireland was ruled by martial law. The Habeas Corpus Act and trial
by jury were suspended, and the jails and transport ships were crowded
with the victims of military ferocity and magisterial vengeance. In the
debate of 1805, when the Catholic petition was brought into the House of
Commons by Mr. Fox, and treacherously opposed by Pitt, Mr. Ponsonby
exclaimed, speaking of the Irish Catholics: "I know them well; and I
know, at the same time, that whatever is good in them, they owe to
themselves; whatever is bad in them, they owe to you, and to your bad
government." Mr. Grattan accused the English Tories of "running about
like old women in search of old prejudices; preferring to buy foreign
allies by subsidies, rather than to subsidize fellow-subjects by
He might have said by justice, for the Irish have never
asked for privileges; they ask simply for the same justice as is shown
to English subjects. Mr. Foster, the last Speaker of the Irish House of
Commons, declared that, "under the Union Act, by compact, the Protestant
boroughs were suppressed, and a compensation of £1,400,000 paid to
Protestant owners, and not one shilling to the Catholics."

O'Connell came prominently forward as a leader of the Catholic party in
1810. A meeting was held in the Royal Exchange, Dublin, to petition for
Repeal of the Union, at which the High Sheriff of that city presided,
and many distinguished men were present—a proof that, however corrupted
Irish Parliaments may have been by English gold, there was still some
advantage to be gained to the country by possessing even a partial
independence. O'Connell's speech was published, and circulated widely.
To give the full details of his career as a leader of the people, would
require a volume the size of the present work; to give even a
sufficiently comprehensive outline, would require several chapters: I
can but hope that some able hand will take up the subject, and with
equal earnestness do I hope that it may be some one really capable of
doing justice to it. One who would write the "Life and Times of
O'Connell" as such a work should be written, would require to bring more
than ordinary abilities to the task, and would deserve, at the hands of
his countrymen, the highest expression of gratitude which they could
give. Such a work would be incomparably the noblest monument which could
be dedicated to his memory.

O'Connell refusing to take the Oath.

O'Connell refusing to take the Oath.

The Clare election is undoubtedly the culminating point in O'Connell's
career. Men stood aghast in amazement at the boldness of the man who
presumed to make such an attempt. Even his friends could scarcely
believe that he was in earnest, or that he was wise. His success was a
splendid example of what the energy and determination of one single man
could accomplish. Well might the Lord Chancellor declare that "this
business must bring the Roman Catholic question to a crisis and a
conclusion." The words were prophetic; the prophecy was realized. On the
5th of March, 1829, Mr. Peel moved a committee of the whole House, "to
go into the consideration of the civil disabilities of his Majesty's
Roman Catholic subjects." The motion was carried by a majority of 188.
On the 15th of May, 1829, O'Connell appeared in the House to take his
seat. He was introduced by Lords Ebrington and Dungannon. The House was
thronged. The very peeresses came to gaze upon the arch-agitator,
expecting to see a demagogue, and to hear an Irish brogue. There were
whispers of surprise when they saw a gentleman, and a man who could
speak, with the versatility of true talent, to suit his audience. The
card containing the oath was handed to O'Connell; he read a portion of
it over in an audible voice—the portion which required him to say that
"the sacrifice of the Mass, and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin
Mary and other saints, as now practised in the Church of Rome, are
impious and idolatrous;" and to deny the dispensing power of the Pope,
which never existed, except in the imagination of its framers. With a
courteous bow he said, in a voice to be heard throughout the House: "I
decline, Mr. Clerk, to take this oath: part of it I know to be false;
another part I believe not to be true."

Again he sought the votes of the electors of Clare, and again he was
returned by them. On the 13th of April, 1829, the royal signature was
affixed to the Act of Emancipation, and Irishmen were no longer refused
the rights of citizens because they respected the rights of conscience.

In the year 1812, the late Sir Robert Peel came to Ireland as Chief
Secretary, unfortunately destitute of the enlargement of mind and the
native genius of his predecessor, Sir Arthur Wellesley. His abilities,
however great, were not such as to enable him to understand a
nationality distinct from his own; and hence he could not deal with the
Irish, either to his credit, or for their advantage. From the year 1815
to 1817 the conduct of the English Parliament towards Ireland was
regulated with the nicest attention to the movements of the General who
ruled the Continent. In 1817 an Act was passed, which, with admirable
policy, excused Catholic officers, naval and military, from forswearing
transubstantiation. In 1821 George IV. visited Ireland. It was the first
time that an English King had come to Ireland as the acknowledged
sovereign of the people. Their hopes were high; and the deference for
royalty, so eminently characteristic of the Celt, had at last found an
opportunity of expressing itself. All that loyalty could do was done;
all that the warmest heart could say was said. The King appeared
impressed by demonstrations so entirely new to him; he wore a large
bunch of shamrocks constantly during his brief stay; but before the
shamrocks were faded, Irish wants and Irish loyalty were alike

In the year 1824 the subject of Irish disturbances was carefully
inquired into by Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament. Some
extracts from their reports will give the best and most correct idea of
the state of the country from the Union to the year 1834, when another
investigation was made. In 1807 the county Limerick was alarmingly
disturbed. In 1812 the counties of Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny,
Limerick, Westmeath, Roscommon, and the King's county, were the theatre
of the same sanguinary tumults. Limerick and Tipperary remained under
the Insurrection Act until 1818. In 1820 there were serious disturbances
in Galway, and in 1821, in Limerick.

These disturbances are thus accounted for Maxwell Blacker, Esq.,
Barrister, who was appointed to administer the Insurrection Act, in
1822, in the counties of Cork and Tipperary: "The immediate cause of the
disturbance I consider to be the great increase of population, and the
fall in the price of produce after the war; the consequence of which
was, that it was impossible to pay the rent or the tithes that had been
paid when the country was prosperous." Sir Matthew Barrington, Crown
Solicitor of the Munster Circuit for seventeen years, was asked: "Do you
attribute the inflammable state of the population to the state of misery
in which they generally are?" "I do, to a great extent; I seldom knew
any instance when there was sufficient employment for the people that
they were inclined to be disturbed; if they had plenty of work and
employment, they are generally peaceable." John Leslie Foster, Esq.,
M.P., in his examination, states: "I think the proximate cause [of the
disturbances] is the extreme physical misery of the peasantry, coupled
with their liability to be called upon for the payment of different
charges, which it is often perfectly impossible for them to meet."

Matthew Singleton, Esq., Chief Magistrate of Police in the Queen's
county, said, on his examination: "I have seen, and I know land to be
set one-third above its value."

It would be useless to give more of this evidence, for the details are
always the same. The people were almost starving. They could scarcely
get a sufficiency of the poorest food, yet they were compelled to pay
rent and tithes far above the value of their land. If they were unable,
they were thrown out upon the wayside to die like dogs.

There can be no doubt that the outrages thus perpetrated were very
fearful. Every man's hand was against them, and their hand was against
every man. They shot their landlords, and they "carded" the
tithe-proctors. Gentlemen's houses were barricaded, even in the daytime.
Many families of the higher classes lived in a state of siege. The
windows were made bullet-proof; the doors were never opened after
nightfall. It was a fearful state of society for a Christian country,
and the guilt and disgrace of it was surely on those who had caused it.
Yet we do not find that the knowledge of these facts produced any effect
upon the men who heard them, and who alone had it in their power to
apply the remedy. Still something was done; and although it is one of
the stern facts of history, one can scarcely choose but smile at the
simplicity of those who planned and carried out such a scheme for the
improvement of Ireland.

The "second reformation" was commenced in 1827. The Catholic priests
were challenged to controversy; even laymen interfered. Theology and
theological differences became the town and table-talk of Ireland.
Bibles and tracts were distributed in all directions amongst the
starving poor, food and clothing were occasionally added; yet,
notwithstanding these powerful inducements, the people starved and
remained Catholics. Writs of ejectment were then tried; and the Irish
poor had their choice between the Bible and beggary—but they chose

So far did the Bible craze go, that it almost amounted to a monomania.
One noble lord, to show his reverence for that book, and to convince his
tenantry of the estimation in which he held it, flung every volume of
his library into the lake of his demesne, and with the Bible in his
hand, which commanded him to feed the hungry, refused to feed them
unless they complied with his commands. Moore's satires were,
unquestionably, the best weapons against such fanaticism. Sheil wrote in
the Gazette de France, and hundreds of pens wrote in the American
papers. A loud cry of "Shame!" arose in every quarter of the world; the
echo reached the ears of the promoters of the movement; and the force of
public opinion succeeded in suppressing the futile attempt.

The influence of Irish emigrants in America was already beginning to be
felt. Large sums of money poured in from that country to swell the
Catholic rent, and a considerable portion of the funds were employed by
O'Connell in providing for men who had been ejected by their landlords,
for refusing either to believe a creed, or to give a vote contrary to
their conscience. He even threatened to buy up the incumbrances on some
of these gentlemen's estates, to foreclose their mortgages, and to sell
them out. His threat, added to his well-known determination, was not
without its effect.

The whole subject of Irish emigration may be safely predicted to be the
key which will unlock the future fate of Great Britain. It is true that,
at this moment, every effort is being made by the English nation to
conciliate America; it remains to be seen how Americans will be disposed
to accept present flattery as a compensation for past injustice, and
scarcely past contempt. A better knowledge of Irish history might
prevent some fatal mistakes on both sides of the Atlantic. I have,
therefore, felt it a duty to devote the concluding pages of this History to this important subject.

The great tide of western emigration was undoubtedly caused, in part, by
the sufferings of the famine year; but these sufferings were in
themselves an effect, rather than a cause; and we must look to more
remote history for the origin of the momentous exodus. It has, indeed,
been well observed, that "when a man leaves his country for one subject
to foreign rule, it must, in general, be that he does not care for it,
or that it does not care for him; it must either be that he is so little
attached to the institutions of his own country, that he is willing to
submit to those of another; or that he despises the latter sufficiently
to look forward to replacing them by those of his own."[585] No
unprejudiced person can for a moment doubt which of these causes has
been most active in producing Irish emigration. The Irishman's love of
home and of his native land, is a fact beyond all dispute: his
emigration, then, can have no other cause than this, that his country,
or the country which governs his native land, does not care for him; and
when we find noble lords and honorable members suggesting "the more
emigration the better," we cannot doubt that he is the victim to
indifference, if not to absolute dislike. Undoubtedly, if the Irishman
did not care for his country, and if the Englishman, when planted in
Ireland, did not become equally discontented and rather more indignant
than his predecessors under English rule in Ireland, the arrangement
might be a very admirable one; but Irishmen, to the third and fourth
generation, do not forget their country, neither do they forget why they
have been compelled to leave it. A work has been published lately on the
subject of the Irish in America. It is much to be regretted, that the
very able writer did not give statistics and facts, as well as
inferences and anecdotes. A history of the Irish in America, should
include statistics which could not be disputed, and facts which could
not be denied. The facts in the work alluded to are abundant, and most
important; but they should have been prefaced by an account of the
causes which have led to emigration, and as accurate statistics as
possible of its results.

Some few English writers have had the honesty to admit that their
colonial policy has not been the most admirable; "nor should we forget,"
says the author of the History of the United States, "that the spirit
in which these colonies were ruled from England was one, in the main, of
intense selfishness. The answer of Seymour, an English Attorney-General
under William and Mary, or towards the close of the seventeenth century,
to the request of Virginia, for a college, when her delegate begged him
to consider that the people of Virginia had souls to be saved as well as
the people of England: Souls! damn your souls! plant tobacco!" is
scarcely an unfair exponent of that spirit.[586] Another writer says:
"Historians, in treating of the American rebellion, have confined their
arguments too exclusively to the question of internal taxation, and the
right or policy of exercising this prerogative. The true source of the
rebellion lay deeper—in our traditional colonial policy."[587] One more
quotation must suffice: "The legal rights of those colonies have been
perpetually violated. Those which were strong enough were driven to
separation; those which adhered to us in that great contest, or which we
have subsequently acquired or founded, are either denied constitutions,
or, if the local authorities oppose the will of the Imperial Parliament,
find their constitutions changed, suspended, or annulled."[588] It will
be remembered that the original colonists of America were principally
Englishmen, who were driven from their own country by religious
intolerance; yet no sooner had they established themselves in their new
home, than they commenced to practise even more fearful persecutions on
others than those from which they had fled. There was one honorable
exception; the Roman Catholics who fled from persecution in England,
never, even in the plenitude of their power, attempted the slightest
persecution, religious, social, or legal.

It will be seen, then, that the first emigrants to America from the
British dominions, could not have had any special attachment to the
country they had left; that, on the contrary, their feelings were
embittered against the mother country before their departure from her
shores; and after that departure she did nothing to allay the
irritation, but much to increase it. For several centuries after the
arrival of the "May Flower," the number of emigrants from England and
Ireland were, probably, tolerably equal, and by no means numerous. It
was not an age of statistics, and no accurate statistics can be given.

The disruption between the States and England, or rather the causes
which led to it, re-opened whatever feelings there may have been against
the mother country, and at the same time increased its bitterness a
hundredfold. The tide of Irish emigration had set in even then—slowly,
indeed, but surely; and it will be remembered that the Irish in America,
few though they were, became the foremost to fan the flame of rebellion,
and were amongst the first to raise the standard of revolt. The States
obtained a glorious freedom—a freedom which, on the whole, they have
used wisely and well; and even their bitterest enemies cannot deny that
they have formed a powerful nation—a nation which may yet rule the
destinies of the world. Let us endeavour now to estimate in some degree
the influence of Irish emigration on American society. If the history of
Ireland were written in detail up to the present day, fully one-fourth
the detail should comprise a history of the Irish in America. Never in
the world's history has an emigration been so continuous or so
excessive; never in the world's history have emigrants continued so
inseparably united, politically and socially, to the country which they
have left. The cry of "Ireland for the Irish," is uttered as loudly on
the shores of the Mississippi as on the shores of the Shannon. It is
almost impossible to arrive at accurate statistics of the number of
Irish in America, but a fair approximation may be obtained. The
population of America, according to a recent writer, was, in 1840,
17,063,353; in 1850, it had risen to 23,191,876; it is now [1868],
35,000,000. In 1842, the imports were in value, $100,162,087; the
exports, $104,691,534; and the tonnage was 2,092,391. In 1859, the
imports were $383,768,130; the exports were $356,789,462; and the
tonnage was 5,146,037. This increase is beyond all historical
precedence, and a future historian, who found such amazing statistics of
increase, and knew nothing of emigration, would be strangely puzzled to
account for it. But if he searched the files of an old English or Irish
newspaper office, whatever might have been the creed or politics of its
proprietors, he would soon arrive at a satisfactory solution. In the Irish Times, the leading Irish paper of the day, he would find the
following reference to the present history of Ireland: "The Emigration
Commissioners notice with some surprise the fact, that, during the past
year [1867], the emigrants from Ireland were better clothed, and carried
with them better furnished kits, than either the English or foreign
emigrants. During the past year, 51,000 Irish emigrants left Liverpool
alone—a regiment nearly one thousand strong every week. The loss of
100,000 persons annually, chiefly of the labouring classes, and
generally strong, active, well-built men, affords matter for serious
consideration. If the Government be contented that 100,000 yearly of the
Irish population should, increase the power of America [the italics
are our own], they have but to refuse those generous and considerate
measures which alone can keep our people at home, by giving them a
chance of progressing as they do in America."

This is the honestly avowed opinion of a Protestant paper, whose editors
are beyond all suspicion of writing to encourage "Popery," or preach
Fenianism. An admirable parliamentary comment has just occurred in the
rejection of the Protestant Church Suspension Bill by the House of
Lords, though there is no doubt that the good sense and the native
justice of the English nation will at length compel its acceptance.

The fact is, that at this moment nearly one-half the population of
America are Irish and Catholics. The writer lately quoted, cannot
refrain from a sneer at the "low Irish" in America, to whom he
attributes the "insult and injury" which he is pleased to consider that
Americans manifest to foreign nations, and especially to England; he
forgets the old sources of injury, which no American can forget; and he
forgets, also, how easily the same "low Irish" might have been prevented
from exhibiting the feeling which he attributes to them.

Let those who wish to understand the present history of Ireland, read
Mr. Maguire's Irish in America, carefully and thoughtfully. If they do
so, and if they are not blinded by wilful prejudices, they must admit
that the oft-repeated charges against Irishmen of being improvident and
idle are utterly groundless, unless, indeed, they can imagine that the
magic influence of a voyage across the Atlantic can change a man's
nature completely. Let them learn what the Irishman can do, and does do,
when freed from the chains of slavery, and when he is permitted to reap
some reward for his labour. Let him learn that Irishmen do not forget
wrongs; and if they do not always avenge them, that is rather from
motives of prudence, than from lack of will. Let him learn that the
Catholic priesthood are the true fathers of their people, and the true
protectors of their best interests, social and spiritual. Let him read
how the good pastor gives his life for his sheep, and counts no journey
too long or too dangerous, when even a single soul may be concerned. Let
him judge for himself of the prudence of the same priests, even as
regards the temporal affairs of their flocks, and see how, where they
are free to do so, they are the foremost to help them, even in the
attainment of worldly prosperity. Let him send for Sadlier's Catholic
Directory for the United States and Canada
, and count over the Catholic
population of each diocese; read the names of priests and nuns, and see
how strong the Irish element is there. Nay, let him send for one of the
most popular and best written of the Protestant American serials, and he
will find an account of Catholics and the Catholic religion, which is to
be feared few English Protestants would have the honesty to write, and
few English Protestant serials the courage to publish, however strong
their convictions. The magazine to which I refer, is the Atlantic
the articles were published in the numbers for April and May,
1868, and are entitled "Our Roman Catholic Brethren." Perhaps a careful
perusal of them would, to a thoughtful mind, be the best solution of the
Irish question. The writer, though avowing himself a Protestant, and
declaring that under no circumstances whatever would he be induced to
believe in miracles, has shown, with equal candour and attractiveness,
what the Catholic Church is, and what it can do, when free and
unfettered. He shows it to be the truest and best friend of humanity; he
shows it to care most tenderly for the poor and the afflicted; and he
shows, above all, how the despised, exiled Irish are its best and truest
supports; how the "kitchen often puts the parlour to the blush;" and the
self-denial of the poor Irish girl assists not a little in erecting the
stately temples to the Almighty, which are springing up in that vast
continent from shore to shore, and are only lessened by the demands made
on the same willing workers for the poor father and mother, the young
brother or sister, who are supported in their poverty by the alms sent
them freely, generously, and constantly by the Irish servant-girl.

Ireland and America

Ireland and America

Nor have the Catholics of America overlooked the importance of literary
culture. A host of cheap books and serials are in circulation, and are
distributed largely and freely in convent schools, collegiate
establishments, and country parishes; and with a keen appreciation of
the religious necessities of the great mass of non-Catholics, of which,
unfortunately, English Catholics are oblivious, tracts are published in
thousands for general reading, and given to travellers in the railcars,
and steamboats. Nor has a higher class of literature been overlooked.
The gifted superior of the Congregation of St. Paul has been mainly
instrumental in getting up and superintending the labours of the Catholic Publication Society, which, in addition to the multitude of
valuable works it has published, sends forth its monthly magazine, well
entitled The Catholic World, which is unquestionably the best serial
of its kind, and may vie with those conducted by the most gifted
Protestant writers of the day, while it is far superior to anything
which has as yet been published by the Catholics of this country.

Such is a brief outline, and scarcely even an outline, of the present history of Ireland, in which the hearts of so many of our people are in
one country, while their bodies are in another. There is another phase
of this present history on which I could have wished to have dwelt much
longer; I mean the political union between America and Ireland. So long
as Irish emigration continues—I should rather say, so long as real
Irish grievances are permitted to continue—so long will this state of
things be dangerous to England. Justice to Ireland may be refused with
impunity just so long as there is peace between England and America; but
who shall dare predict how long that peace will continue, when, as must
assuredly happen in a few short years, the Irish in America, or their
direct descendants, shall form the preponderating class, and therefore
guide the political affairs of that mighty people?

The maps which are appended to this edition of the Illustrated History
of Ireland
, will, it is hoped, be found not only interesting, but
important. Irishmen in America will see, by a glance at the map of
family names, the territories in Ireland formerly held by their
ancestors. Statistics showing the fearful depopulation of the country,
which, notwithstanding all the boasts of those who advocated it, has not
benefited those who remain, will be found in another map. The third map
is not less important; by that will be seen the immense preponderance of
Catholics to Protestants; and it will suggest, no doubt, to thoughtful
minds, the injustice of sacrificing the multitude to the individual few.

A few words must also be said about the two full-page illustrations
which have been added to this Edition. One of the most important events
in the life of O'Connell has been chosen for the one; and, alas! one of
the most frequent occurrences in Irish history, from the first English
invasion to the present day, has been chosen for the other. In the
engraving of O'Connell, it was impossible to preserve the likeness, as
the expression demanded by the incident could not be produced from any
of the portraits extant; with regard to the eviction scene, it is
unfortunately true to the life. Those who have read Mr. Maguire's Irish
in America
, will recognize the special subject represented. Those who
read the Irish local papers of the day, may continually peruse accounts
of evictions; but only an eyewitness can describe the misery, and
despair of the unfortunate victims. When shall the picture be reversed?
When will Irishmen return from America, finding it possible to be as
free and as prosperous here? Finding that a man who is willing to toil
may obtain a fair remuneration for his labour, and that a man may have
the rights of men;—then, and not till then, may we hope that Irish
history will, for the future, be a record of past injustice, amply
compensated for by present equity.


The letter given below, which is from the pen of a distinguished
Protestant clergyman, appears to me of such importance, that I place it
here to be a permanent record for the future historian of Ireland, as an
important opinion on the present history of this country, but too well
supported by facts.



My DEAR BUTT,—If every other man in the world entertained doubts
of my sincerity, you, at least, would give me credit for honesty
and just intentions. I write to you accordingly, because my mind
has been stirred to its inmost depths by the perusal of your
address in my native city of Limerick. I do not regard the subject
of your address as a political one. It ought to be regarded solely
as a question of humanity, justice, common sense, and common
honesty. I wish my lot had never been cast in rural places. As a
clergyman, I hear what neither landlords nor agents ever heard. I
see the depression of the people; their sighs and groans are before
me. They are brought so low as often to praise and glorify those
whom, in their secret hearts, are the objects of abhorrence. All
this came out gradually before me. Nor did I feel as I ought to
have felt in their behalf, until, in my own person and purse, I
became the victim of a system of tyranny which cries from earth to
heaven for relief. Were I to narrate my own story, it would startle
many of the Protestants of Ireland. There are good landlords—never
a better than the late Lord Downshire, or the living and beloved
Lord Roden. But there are too many of another state of feeling and
action. There are estates in the north where the screw is never
withdrawn from its circuitous and oppressive work. Tenant-right is
an unfortunate and delusive affair, simply because it is invariably
used to the landlord's advantage. Here we have an election in
prospect, and in many counties no farmer will be permitted to think
or act for himself. What right any one man has to demand the
surrender of another's vote I never could see. It is an act of
sheer felony—a perfect "stand-and-deliver" affair. To hear a man
slavishly and timorously, say, "I must give my vote as the landlord
wishes," is an admission that the Legislature, which bestowed the
right of voting on the tenant, should not see him robbed of his
right, or subsequently scourged or banished from house and land,
because he disregarded a landlord's nod, or the menace of a
land-agent. At no little hazard of losing the friendship of some
who are high, and good, and kind, I write as I now do.

Yours, my dear Butt, very sincerely,


Dundrum, Cough, co. Down, Sept. 7, 1868.