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people, or rather of each class of the people, towards England, as well as towards the law administered in England's name; their sentiments towards their own leaders also, and what are the qualities which attract them, and what the faults they pardon. All these are matters on which hundreds of voices and pens have been daily professing to instruct us, each man giving the view which his partisanship, or his interest, or at best his personal experience suggests. But the only sure guide to a knowledge of them is history, which, critically studied and honestly weighed, supplies indisputable facts by whose help the allegations prompted by passion and prejudice may be tested and the underlying truth be discerned. There will still remain room for difference of opinion as to the remedies to be applied, yet that difference will be far less wide among those who have mastered the facts of history than it is among those who derive their views from current speeches and articles; and the former class will be more diffident and more charitable both in judging the Irish people and in condemning one another's conclusions.

These facts English statesmen, absorbed in their own party struggles, have seldom studied, and indeed have seldom felt the need of studying. The duty of understanding them has now in some measure passed to the body of the English and Scottish people, admitted by recent legislation to a deciding voice in national issues. Irish history, of which the people of Great Britain have hitherto remained almost wholly ignorant, has accordingly become a matter of practical consequence.

It is rich in political instruction of the kind I have described, but rich in little else.

Some one, indeed, struck by the melancholy monotony with which similar follies and crimes have in Ireland gone on recurring during whole centuries, has said that Ireland has annals, but no history, because progress, the life of history, is wanting. It is at least true that these annals are dismal reading, from the days of the last national hero

1 Written in 1888.

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who fell at Clontarf to those of the first national statesman who created and adorned the independent and all too short-lived Parliament of 1782. Between Brian Boroimhe and Henry Grattan one finds only fierce clan-chieftains like Shane O'Neil or valiant soldiers like Sarsfield. In the dearth of some more authentic objects of admiration in primitive and mediæval times, patriotic Irishmen have been driven to clothe in the bright colours of their own fancy the early ecclesiastical civilisation of the island-a civilisation remarkable as witnessing to the intellectual gifts of the Goidelic branch of the great Celtic family, but which has left little behind it save the ruins of ancient shrines, numerous poems, and some striking legends, full of weird imaginative power, the offspring of earlier heathen times, together with a mass of primitive legal customs, full of interest in showing the logical acuteness and subtlety of the national mind. Few early races have shown more aptitude both for learning and for literary creation, and the fact that this creative gift has in recent centuries rarely taken shape in the higher kinds of poetry may be ascribed to the unfavourable conditions which, in destroying the old literature, gave little opening for the formation of a new one on the broader basis of modern European culture.

In the ninth century this ecclesiastical civilisation began to crumble under the shocks of Norse and Danish invasion. The Anglo-Saxon civilisation of England suffered in the same way. But in England the invaders were near of kin to the previous inhabitants, and reinvigorated the apparently decaying stock. In Ireland they were far less numerous, and never spread out over the interior. Except in Wicklow and Wexford, they have scarcely affected the population of the island, while the blow they gave to the ancient monarchy

į It would seem that the Norsemen were considerably influenced by the Celts, whose civilisation was in many respects more advanced than their own, but did not plant any Scandinavian institutions outside the strongholds they occupied. Probably they were too few in number.

The influence upon arly Icelandic poetry of the Gael with whom the Norsemen intermarried is remarkable, and has been dwelt upon by recent Icelandic scholars.

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smoothed the path for the Norman-Welsh adventurers who came under Strongbow in the twelfth century.

The conquest of 1169-72 was a conquest only in name. Henry II. did indeed receive the submission of the petty princes of Leinster and Munster, and even of Roderick O'Conor, titular High King of Erin; but neither he nor his successors for nearly four centuries attempted to establish English executive authority, much less English laws, over the greater part of the island. A small district round Dublin (a Scandinavian stronghold which had become the Anglo-Norman capital), the so-called English Pale, was by degrees organised as a little England, with counties, sheriffs, judges, and a rude Parliament under the Lord Deputy representing the English Crown. But the rest of the country remained in wild disorder, a low and crude form of feudalism having become mingled with the tribal system of the aboriginal Celts. The Norman settlers grew to be fully as Irish as the Irish themselves — in fact they became the heads of Celtic clans; and the social condition of the isle was probably far worse, far more adverse to intellectual and moral progress, than it had been in the half-mythic days of Ollam Fohdla, a thousand years earlier. Neither the Irish Church, whose reformation we may charitably believe Pope Adrian IV, to have desired when he sanctioned the invasion of Henry II., nor the mass of the Irish people, gained anything, down to the time of the Reformation, from the events which nominally drew Ireland within the circle of the RomanoTeutonic civilisation of Western Europe, while the possible evolution of a truly national kingdom and national type of culture was fatally arrested.

The first serious efforts to subjugate the island date from the establishment of a strong monarchy in England under the Tudors. Begun under Henry VII., these efforts advanced more rapidly under Elizabeth. They were stimulated by the danger which threatened her from Spain, a country whose statesmen saw, as those of France saw long afterwards, in an outlying and disaffected dependency the weak point of the English realm. The cruelties which accompanied Elizabeth's campaigns and the more revolting injustice of her administrative policy were hardly worse than those which belonged to war and conquest generally in that age-not much worse than the conduct of Alva in Holland, or of Ferdinand II. and Tilly in Germany a generation later. We need not wonder that a half-starved peasantry, speaking a strange tongue, received as little sympathy from English captains, or even from scholars like Edmund Spenser, as the Mexicans had received from the soldiers of Cortes. Though Christian theology was much in men's mouths in the sixteenth century, Christian precepts had little effect upon their conduct. But it was inauspicious that the work of constructing a stable government should have begun in Ireland centuries later than in the rest of Western Europe ; that it should have been accompanied by a dispossession of the people from their lands and the unsparing use of fire and famine, as well as of the sword; that the venom of religious hatred should have been added to the hostility of races in different stages of civilisation.

1 The invasion of Edward Bruce offered the best chance for the establishment of an Irish kingdom, which might have leant upon Scotland ; but an Irish kingdom, even so supported, might have failed to maintain itself, as Scotland would have failed had Scotland not begun to receive Anglo-Norman arts and arms in the days before the War of Independence.

Elizabeth reduced the south of the island and part of Ulster. James I., following in her footsteps, placed a Scottish colony in the north-eastern part of that province, where their descendants, down to our own day, occupying the better lands from which the native Irish had been chased into the mountains, have retained not only their Presbyterian religion, but their Scottish dialect and customs." Ireland was divided into shires, for which a

1 Sixty years ago these Scottish dwellers in the low lands of Antrim and Down talked broad Scotch, and used to speak of the aboriginal inhabitants of the glens where the Gaelic tongue was still commonly spoken

" thae Eerish."

as

XV

INTRODUCTION regular system of judicature and of county government was in theory established; a Parliament was organised, with members from all the shires and a number of socalled boroughs, most of them made boroughs for the very purpose of returning members subservient to Government. Catholics as well as Protestants, aboriginal Irishmen as well as colonists, enjoyed the suffrage and the right to sit. At the same time the ancient tenures of land were abolished, and the rules of English law applied, with a total disregard of the rights of the members of a clan in the land which had belonged to it.

The breathing space under the first two Stuarts was short, if that can be called a breathing space during which the work of dispossessing the natives of their land by every art of chicanery went briskly on. In 1641 the imminence of the conflict between Charles I. and the Parliament of England seems to have precipitated an outbreak in Ireland, for which both religious hatred and the resentment for land robbery had been ripening the minds of the original Irish. Many cruelties were perpetrated on both sides, but recent researches have shown that the natives were neither so distinctly the beginners of the insurrection nor so ferocious in the conduct of it as the English public of that day believed.

Civil war raged until the energy of Cromwell, the first Englishman who can be said to have, at least for the moment, conquered all Ireland, enforced a sullen submission. Some have thought that the continuance for half a century of such rule as his, however harsh in its methods, might have proved a blessing to subsequent generations. For severities which had introduced habits of order and brought about an amalgamation of the two races there would have been some palliation. But in fact the chief effect of the Cromwellian settlement was to dispossess a large number of landowners and their dependants, and to intensify the resentment of the Roman Catholics against their Protestant conquerors. In twelve years the Stuarts returned, with

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