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doms of Europe ; and laugh to scorn that of the mightiest, as being comparatively of yesterday.
Neither is the tale flat or uninteresting ; events deemed most captivating through their stirring life, and exciting vicissitudes, there abound in an uncommon degree: no people rose higher in the scale of spiritual enlightenment, in the early ages of Cbristianity; no people more gallantly struggled for the preservation of national freedom ; none ever clung more graspingly to the wrecks of what remained, when that great struggle was over ; or more pertinaciously retained distinctive marks which it was manifestly their interest to lay aside. It is altogether marvellous how obstinately ignorant we have chosen to be, after the example of our fathers, in what we were most concerned to know, and to know rightly; and it is lamentable to trace the effects of this ignorance, in stains of human gore, freshened and renewed from generation to generation, on the face of what ought to be the most peaceful, as it is by nature the loveliest portion of the British Empire.
We hear of the Irish populace-perhaps we see specimens of them, exbibiting models of squalid poverty, filth, and demoralization in the bye-lanes of our great town; or wandering along the high-ways, and through the villages, half-clad, and to our English eyes less than half civilized, conversing in a tongue to us wholly unknown, and therefore accounted barbarous. We associate with their very name the idea of what is wild, intractable, ferocious, individually and collectively dangerous. We comfort ourselves that between bolts and bars, watch-dogs and policemen, we are tolerably safe from their outrageous assaults; but, as a matter of course, we look for a
“ barbarous murder,” or a partial if not a general insurrection, accompanied with massacre to the extent of their opportunity, in the columns of every Irish newspaper. We know, that the Welch are as fiery a people, the Highland Scotch as sturdily national, and both as fearless as any on the face of the earth : that both also, have reluctantly succumbed under the superior might of England, while both retain their ancient language among the same classes in which, to the West, we look for the Irish-speaking Celt: yet no such terrors, real or imaginary, clothe our idea of a Cambrian or a Gael. It is singular that so very striking an anomaly should be known to exist at our own doors, and sometimes to our no small jeopardy, with so very little inclination manifested to solve the enigma, while we are ready to admit as a general rule that the knowledge of a disease is half its remedy.
Fifteen years since, we were baffled in a diligent search through public and private libraries--including one that belonged to a College--for a History of Ireland. No such book was to be found; and we were obliged to send to London and purchase Leland's work. The passing of the fatally-famous Bill of 1829, however, directed popular attention to the Western isle, of which so much use was made in the accomplishment of that Romish Coup-de-main ; and people began to write Histories of Ireland; some as a promising speculation; others as a help in the mischievous delusion then practised against the English people ; but such was the prevailing ignorance on all relating to its early times, and such the incapacity or disinclination for real, deep, personal, unbiassed research, that they proved on one hand no better than a Popish legend, on the other a mere reprint of former books which contained, not a history of Ireland and the Irish, but the details of English invasion, conquest, and government-or rather misgovernment of that ill-fated land. As the battle-field of rival claimants to England's crown, Ireland possesses interest enough to attract at least the youthful reader to study the records of that period; but it is one thing to trace the march of contending armies marshalled respectively under William of Orange, and James Stuart: it is another thing to read the eventful history of Irish Ireland by the light of Holy Writ. Some may object, and not without reason, that such a history has yet to be written before it can be read; the few authentic details being mixed up with a huge amount of antiquarian lore, irrelevant to the purpose; or more effectu. ally enshrouded in records which, even if they were brought to light, would not perbaps be easily decyphered by the present generation of Celtic scholars. Yet our young students are supplied with concise, consistent, and intelligent sketches of history concerning countries not less involved in perplexed obscurity than Ireland, and certainly not able to advance so strong a claim on our patient investigation. We want a clue to the real character and temper of a people so remarkably distinct, so unchanged in national peculiarities as these our near neighbours, dwelling often in the midst of us, are; because, until that clue be obtained, we never shall find out how to govern them.
They are, to us, the most ungovernable nation with which we have to do, inherently turbulent and qoruly. Why? Because they are inherently, enthusiastically loyal. Of this their unlimited devotion to their ancient leaders, their history if rightly studied would afford ample proofs ; and it is through ignorance of this fact, and obstinate belief in the opposite fiction, that we fail to establish a role to which they can submit. Scorping to understand them, we outrage their keen feelings, diverting from ourselves that stream or rather torrent of devoted loyalty which is thereby easily led to run in a channel hostile alike to their interest and our own. The priests of an alien faith take advantage of our error, attach them to themselves, and by persuading them that such also was the faith of their forefathers in the olden time, enlist in its defence alike their sympathies and principles; while cunning demagogues assuming to stand to them in the relationship of their native chieftains, bring about the paradoxical result already alluded to. Excess of loyalty renders them turbulent traitors. Among the parents who, glancing with secret pride and hope over sons growing up as young plauts, anticipate for some among them senatorial privileges in the united Parliament, and Ecclesiastical dignities in the united Church, are there many who thus take thought for the claims of Ireland on their attention, and by a fair examination of her real history, prepare them to heal the breach of many centuries when power shall be given to them to legislate for her ? Even among the nobles and the higher class of gentry, themselves of Irish birth and deriving their consequence from Irish titles and property, are there many, ARE THERE ANY, who make it a main point in the educational preparation of their sons, thus to acquaint them with the true root of the matter as regards Ireland ?
The question is not so much a political as a religious one ; and though as connected with scripture history, past or yet to be fulfilled, we may not be able to assign to Ireland any definite post in the world's great programme, very stirring thoughts will sometimes be excited when we look on the long, dark catalogue of her wrongs and sorrows, sinning always, but far more sinned against, and remember what is to be the work of the great King, when," the acceptable year of the Lord ” being past, He comes to proclaim “the day of vengeance of our God.” Will it not be “to comfort them that mourn?” Partaking, as the native race of Ireland have long most strikingly done, in the peculiar afflictions heaped on Israel, and surviving as they do, all attempts to blot them out, to amalgamate, or to denationalize them, has not the Lord a drop in store for Ireland, of Israel's full cup of blessings, when for their shame they shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion ? We fully expect it. Already a work has commenced, is progressing, and promises to extend more and more, by which the poor Irish Aborigine is loosened from the accursed spell that binds him, and takes bis natural station among the most peaceable, most loyal, most devoted of those who truly “fear God” and “honour the king.” This work took its origin from a fair examination into Irish history, as a clue to the Irish character, both being studied with an undeviating regard to the known will, word, and works of the Most High. Surely he has made the greatest progress in the science of government who has succeeded the best in rendering men willingly obedient; and the steps by which such a practical