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HISTORY

OF

IRELAND..

INTRODUCTION.

Importance of Irish history-Causes of the slow progress of civilization in that Country-Description of the people in Queen Elizabeth's time-Kerns-Bards-The various uses of the mantle Obscurity of early Irish history General outline of the present work.

AMID the great and astonishing events which have been and are still transacting around us, it may be doubted whether any of them can be justly said to have more forcible claims upon our attention and respect than those which connect themselves with the past and present state of Ireland. Her present state, indeed, may be supposed to have the most immediate reference to our feelings; but he who would satisfactorily investigate the causes of the condition in which she now is, must carry his enquiries into preceding ages, and trace with dili

VOL. I.

B

Introduction.

gence that long chain of circumstances which has been operating upon the destinies of her people for many centuries. The grievances of which Ireland complains have not been of modern origin; they have taken root in the past ages of darkness and bigotry, of ignorance and despotism, and they have been nourished and increased by successive sacrifices of justice, humanity and truth, to the temporising politics of a party, or the narrow policy of a minister. She has, during that period, made various efforts to acquire her freedom; I will not say to regain it, for it has been her melancholy fate never to have possessed it. The licentiousness of barbarism is not liberty, but the right of doing wrong with the ferocious freedom of savages. To acquire her liberty, however, has been her constant struggle; and as must ever be the case when weakness contends with power for strength, every new struggle has only tended to aggravate her calamities, and every new effort to shake off her chains, has only rivetted them the faster. Still, however, she has not borne her lot with the meekness, with the uncomplaining sub, mission of a broken spirit; proud and fierce in the consciousness of her rights, she has fought and bled for them through every period of her history, with a hopelessness of despair, which has made every succeeding conflict more dreadful to herself and to her enemies.

It has been the natural result of such a state, that the progress of civilization was greatly re

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