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STATE OF IRELAND,
FRANCIS PLOWDEN, ESQ.
A STATEMENT OF THE AUTHOR'S COMMUNICATIONS WITH
THE RIGHT HON. HENRY ADDINGTON
AND SOME OF HIS COLLEAGUES, UPON THE SUBJECT OF THAT
WORK; SOME STRICTURES UPON THE FALSITIES OF
THE BRITISH CRITIC;
AND OTHER ANONYMOUS TRADUCERS OF THE IRISH NATION;
AND ALSO SOME OBSERVATIONS ON
LORD REDESDALE'S LETTERS TO THE EARL OF FINGAL.
Quem mala stultitia et quæcunque inscitia veri
Whom wicked folly and in ev'ry form
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM F. MʻLAUGHLIN, NO. 28 NORTH SECOND STREET, AND BARTHOLOMEW GRAVES, NO.
40 NORTH FOURTH STREET.
STATE OF IRELAND.
THE marvellous fertility of the present era in extraordinary occurrences will reconcile the reader to the publication of a postliminious preface to a work, that has been upwards of six months before the public. Whilst the great Ruler of the Universe continues to produce the wise ends of his providence over human beings through secondary causes, the reasoning powers, with which he has gifted them, continue to be the ordinary means by which he enables them to face the circumstances of the day, however awful, pregnant, or unprecedented they be. To every function and department in social life, appropriate duties are affixed, which arise out of, and can only cease in the extinction of social nature itself. If Bolingbroke observed truly, that the love of history seems inseparable from human nature, the historiographer fills no unimportant station in society. His first and last duty is a sacred adherence to truth; and until it please the Divine Ruler to suspend or alter that system, by which he has hitherto given action and protection to the physical and moral world, profane and irreverend would be the attempt to attain the truth of human events otherwise than by the light and rules of that reason, which for this very end he has indiscriminately infused into every human being
The author conscious of his eagerness to investigate, and his stern determinations to disclose the truth, did not heretofore feel
himself called upon to make any avowal to the public of his intention and endeavours to fulfil this indispensable duty of the historian. The case is now altered ; and he does feel himself called upon to submit to the public several facts, which affect the credit of his history, and which most intimately touch the interests of Ireland, and therefore involve the firmness and prosperity of the British empire.
Consistently with the views, motives and principles, which led the author to undertake the arduous and important (and to some invidious) task of bringing down the Irish history to the present day, 'he cannot pass wholly unnoticed, the invectives upon the His. torical Review in the British Critic for November and December, 1803. The work appears to have set afloat all the gall of the reverend writers of that periodical publication. In p. 465, vol. xxii. they assure their readers, that “ the publication is considered by “ a great part of the Irish as a libel upon the loyalty of Ireland; “ and his (the author's) object in publishing such a work at such " a time is best known to himself.” It is now become necessary to make that object known also to the public. They add (p. 483) “ As this Historical Review of the State of Ireland by Mr. Plow“ den has very imprudently provoked investigation, it is alone “ answerable for whatever contention may arise from the dis66 cussion." Such responsibility is common to all publications ; more especially to such as deal in invective. These considerate censors are, doubtless, therefore prepared for similar responsibility. But the influence, under which the British Critic is well known to be directed and circulated, gives no opening to individual controversy or personal reflection.
The author repels with scorn the false charges of writing his History to serve the interests of a party, and to mislead the people of England. He avers, that it contains no wilful historical misre. presentation; he believes it contains no actual historical misrepresentation. It contains no undeserved panegyric upon any set of individuals ; it contains some censure, but no unfounded calumnies against the living and the dead of any set. Such general charges can only be met by general denial ; and in support of such denial, beyond the authorities adduced in the Historical Review (not to be taken on the credit of the gross mis-statements of the British Critic), the author forewarns his reader, that the first overflow of their acrimonious humour for the month of November does not contain one specific charge, much less a proof, that the author has falsified one single historical fact.
If from these first workings of the British Critic it be allowable to analyze the dose administered (however gilded the pill), it will be found to have been composed of the following ingredients: three fourths of antipathy against the professors of the Roman Catholic religion, not ineptly termed, Papaphobia ; and the remaining fourth of a powerful compound of the drug called Miserinia, or hatred of the Irish nation; an equal portion of a higher sublimate of this compound lately prepared by sir Richard Musgrave, bart. and forced by the puffs of the British Critic into general circulation amongst their customers; and a discretional infusion of the common drug Doulodynamy never known for ages to have failed in producing in the patient a blind unqualified submission even to the most nauseous, painful, and humiliating recipe of the physician. Whether the administration of such a pill have been judicious under the existing circumstances, may be doubted by many; that it has operated powerfully, must be allowed by all, who have examined its effects.
Under the operation of this dose, so keenly ferocious are the patients' animosity and hatred to the Irish nation, or to their religion, or to both, that they take offence at what the author has very compendiously inferred from the indefatigable researches and unanswerable disquisitions of the late Charles O'Connor of Ballynagare, the learned and ingenious Vallaney, and several other respectable Irish authors, concerning some facts, which preceded Christianity by nearly one thousand years; others that happened before the reformation, by as long a period ; and many that preexisted by several centuries the invasion of Ireland by Henry II, the epoch, from which the author commences his Historical Review. These facts are not the assertions of Mr. Plowden, as falsely advanced (p. 471); but the concurrent testimony of the ancient and modern historians of Ireland, backed and illustrated by a body of evidence of moral and even physical certainty, which baffles scepticism. Yet in the face of such incontrovertible proofs, the British Critic recommends to his devotees to rely rather upon the conjectures of David HUME.* The unsupported audacity
As the conjectures of Mr. Hume are here brought forward to discredit the very foundation of Irish history, it will not be found invidious in the author to call his reader's attention to that gentleman's claim to historical veracity.-- Amicus Plato : magis amica veritas. If these theological anathematisers of the Historical Review have read the work regularly, they must have seen (p. 114) what was said by the rev. dr. Warner (a Protestant divine, perhaps as well qualified to know, and as well disposed to disclose, the truth of Irish listory, as any wri. ter for the British Critic), concerning Mr. Hume's historical fidelity to Ireland, " To such miserable shifts are able men reduced, when they write to please a party, " or to support a character without regard to truth.” While Mr. Hume was writing his history, a certain lord of session supplied him with several original documents concerning Elizabeth's conduct towards Mary Queen of Scots; they tended to render the character of Elizabeth less amiable in the eyes of the English, than it is generally represented. Mr. Hume worked them faithfully into his manuscript, which having been perused by or on behalf of Mr. Andrew Millar, his publisher, he was informed, that this new and less favoured portrait of that favourite sovereign would be by 5001. less saleable than a highly finished copy of that, to which the British eye had been so long accustomed.