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vern, Bishopsgate street, June 27, 1817, by John Sydney Taylor, Esq. of the Middle Temple, in reply to a gentleman who strongly objected to the plan of the Society, has been since published separately; and it seems to contain so much good sense, and so much to the point on the subject of Irish Schools, that we thought it might not be improper to submit it to our Readers :
66 Two years ago I had the honor of addressing the friends of this society :-I trust the present meeting, so numerous, is equally zealous in forwarding a plan that is to give a 'new æra to the history of my country. But I have a painful task now to undertake : in that meeting there was but one sentiment of generous unanimity; one conviction of the justness of the means, and the utility of the end, which the society was so benevolently animated to accomplish--to the former, one individual has now stated objections. However, before I reply to the arguments of that gentleman, my countryman, who has preceded me, I wish to say a few words on the general nature of the Institution. This is a subject that must be important to every one whose heart is hue man-but peculiarly interesting to an Irishman, as it is one of the strongest principles of our nature, when not warped by vici. ous habits, to feel incitement and anima'ion in whatever is con. ducive to the welfare of that spot of earth, we call by the sacred name of Country!
“ But why is my country different from yours ? is it not encira cled by tne ramparts of the same constitution ? does it not swear allegiance to the same Sovereign ? has it not shed its blood in the same ranks, for the same object, with a like devotion ? and has not our combined ie islature pronounced them one, and the same, united in interest-identified in policy? Why then is my country different from yours ? But I will not flatter myself, there is a difference, and one, which, while it exists, must render Union but a political fiction, or at best but the smile of mutual compliment, barren and delusive ; having none of the core of friendship to assimilate sentiment and produce a mental co-operation.
« But what is this separating influence ? you will read it in the
history of a people more generous than circumspect ;-more unfortunate than criminal--tossed for ages upon seas of calamity fearfully destructive of political rectitude-oppressed by a superstition that frets away the moral virtues, and obscured by the shade of its attendant ignorance; yet still exhibiting traits of a character which prove how it would have repaid cultivation, since under all those disadvantages, it cannot be chained to an absolute debasement ! Is it then strange that our countries are so unlike, or is it not rather astonishing, that they are not more decidedly contrasted? Yet still the difference is manifest, and to dissipate the obstacles to a sincere coalition, the voice of the legislature must of itself be as vain and ineffectual as the command of Canute to repel the waves rolling beneath the immutable impulse of nature-No-you must first tranquillize and conciliate before you can reform, and when you have done this, the British empire, as far as regards Ireland, will be n. longer an ill-consorted alliance of discordant elements, and jarring propensities; but similar tastes, habits, and acquirements must blend into a commu. nion of sympathies, and beget congenial association. 56 That this has not been achieved before, is not so much a re
lle proach to Ireland, as a disgrace to the land which has held the rod of dominion over her!- You boast, and just'y, of your
liberal habits-your civilizing institutions and the solid tone of your national character; but consider your advantages, and contrast them with the circumstances of Ireland -look through your his. tory for the causes why you are exalted, and she is abased! When you were a land of naked and wild barbarians, whose dwelling was the forest, and whose food the precarious acquisition of the chase, a people, then the most civilized a d polished in the world, descended upon your shores. - It is true they came as conquerors, but they conquered you by more than the force of arms--the do
11 minion, whichothe weapons of war had imperfectly attained, the energies of mind accomplished, and they subdued you by benefits and disarmed you by liberality. They did not treat you with the harsh and jealous spirit of a gloomy policy, which, buildigg
its dominion upon the weakness of man, dare not impart to those over whom it presides any share in the knowledge which confers superiority. It is true, they took from your ancestors their savage independence, but in place of its dangerous freedom they taught them the construction of the social state ; encouraged in them a love of civil improvement, and though possessing no pure religion themselves (not like you in possession of the lightof the gospel), they had the spirit and the feeling to unbind the human sacrifice from the altar of superstition !Thus was England, when a land of savage darkness, visited by the arts and information of a great community; and thus did she receive from a power beyond' herself, the impulse that carried her to a grand destination, Happy would it have been for Ireland if this lesson of policy, which the Romans taught your ancestors, had instructed them to use their conquest over her in the same spirit of intelligent mercy; and taught them to excite a spirit emulous of their improvements, instead of inspiring vulgar awe and conscious humiliation !
“But however, a brighter prospect presents itself in the future I look not to the melancholy past for subjects of reproach or gloomy reflection-but that from the sorrows of experience may be' elicited the light which shews the errors of former conduct, and retrieves the calamities to which they have given birth. Remember that a people with the sensibilities of the Irish cannot be your slaves, without being dangerous, or your free brethren,without being affectionate ; and they can hardly be free till instruction has made them appreciate the value of the blessing, and taught them its genuine enjoyment and best security. I know there are many who think, that there is something radically defective in the Irish character; something that sets it at variance with the regular habits of well-ordered society, and renders it averse from the aspect even of the wisest legislation, but let them remember that it is but lately my countrymen have had reason to learn the docility which a judiciously mild, and conciliatory treatment produces upon the human mind. It is but lately that
they have been taught that there is a virtue in obedience, because authority has shewn itself virtuous—and that there is wisdom in submission, because demanded by an intellīgent controul.-Yes, I perceive that the British people, advised by the examples of the past, counsel better for the future interests of Ireland ; they now perceive it is a mental authority which must mould the heart of Ireland in conformation to British sentiment, and the interests of an united empire ; and they have discovered that the great instrument of this must be EDUCATION.
“I believe all enlightened minds agree upon this subject ;-I be. lieve my eloquent friend, who last addressed you, and who I am sorry to say objected to the main feature of the institution, is of the same opinion ;-we only differ with regard to the means. No doubt man is stubbornly tenacious of his first-received opinions, when he has carried them unmolested from childhood to maturity; but it is on the plastic and unconfirmed disposition of youth that education is to manifest its finest power, in counteracting the bias R1 of wrong prepossession. Convinced of the truth of this, many and strenuous exertions are making by various societies to pour out upon the young mind of Ireland the liberalizing spirit of instruction, that future times may never witness the horrors whose recital is so afflicting, and weep for the degradation over which we have lamented !
“Of all the plans which have been adopted for this great purpose, yours appears to me the best calculated, not only for the speediest, but the most permanent success. The gentlemaú who last addressed you has said, “that the Irish peasantry are not disinclined towards the English language.” That gentleman has not had all the experience of his countrymen which would give his opinion the requisite authority--- he has merely resided in the neighbourhood of Dublin, within the pale of an English colony, where I acknowJedge Irish is spoken by very few--- he has indeed been in the North of Ireland, among the descendants of Scotch settlers---but he has never been, as I have, in the South and West---there he would have found the posterity of a people, the first possessors of
the island, inheriting a strong animosity against the English name ---full of cherished antipathy to your language, your manners, and their dreaded innovation. Is it strange that such a people, influence ed as they are by the traditions of ancient times, should love a language which bears with it the endearing memo:y of their indepen. dance---breathes the spirit of their bards, celebrates the achievements of their heroes-contains the names which embellish their romantic history---and in their legendary songs, like the voice of departed days, is full of a mournful fascination ! That the Irish should be attached to their native language, when it has been ato tempted to drive them out of it by persecution, is not a curious singularity in the history of mankind. All nations so circumstanced, have been fond of the relics of their former freedom, however barbarous, and have clung to whatever reminds them of recorded glories, however dimly seen through the fables and mist of antiquity. I have known other persons besides this gentleman, who, possessing more benevolence than penetration, are alarmed at this way of attempting to inform the Irishe : They suppose, that by thus countenancing the love for their native language, you will rolt back upon them in ten-fold darkness that cloud of barbarism which they say is beginning to break, and that you will finally shut out every ray of civilization. But I conceive the imagination of such persons stronger than the reasoning faculty; they look no farther than the surface of things, and the first impression with them, (as it often is with an Irishman,) is all in all. They do not consider that when knowledge is introduced in any way, it will work its own effects—that morality will not be less moral- nor religi. on less pure, nor its civilizing spirit less corrective of impetuous passions, and erratic sensibilities, because introduced ihrough the medium of the Irish languuge; and when such information is conveyed to the mind of man, what matters it in what language Þe speaks? Is not his heart right?-is not his understanding strong ?-is not the voice of the Christian in his actions ? Does, ke not do his duty to God and his neighbour -and I would like to know what language could fix upon such a man the stain: