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ception to the general rule, by a circumstance mentioned by him, namely, that he had won a bet from a Protestant neighbour on the question whether the priest would allow him to retain it.
The general practice was evidently against him ; but probably he relied on his own strength of character and known soundness of belief.
He condemned the Elections as most injurious to the peace of the lower classes, stirring up ill blood between the Protestants and Catholics which never was moved at other times. He himself had no vote, and hoped he never would have one.
He spoke with kindness of the landlords as a body, but condemued some of them bitterly as oppressors of the poor, both in their minds and bodies, sometimes directly, but much more frequently through their agents. He had often known a poor man's cow or horse, or other goods, taken for rent at the
very time of the year when they were most needed by their owner, and thus the poor tenant be broken down entirely; whereas, if the agent had waited for a short time, say till after harvest or after ploughing time, all the rent or the greater part of it would have been paid, and the poor man would still have held his place in the world.
He pithily illustrated the relative power of landlord and tenant, in all their differences, by the remark, “A sally [sallow] landlord will break an oaken tenant."
He avowed himself to be strongly attached to the English government, as being in itself not only the best form of government, and the Queen the best of queens, but as being far better for Ireland than Repeal and so-called independence. But he strongly insisted upon the fact that there was still something wrong between the two countries which ought to be made right; though he confessed that he did not know the precise root and essence of the evil. Practically, however, he said he knew it in many ways, and most of all and most painfully in the palpable fact that a large proportion of the workingmen of Ireland, men able and willing to work, could either get no work at all or insufficient work, or getting sufficient work could not get adequate remuneration. A country properly governed and properly managed ought, he truly said, to exhibit no such fact as that; “nor ought a man like him," he said, (pointing to the stalwart labourer standing beside him,)“to be compelled to labour for 6d. or 8d. a day, with a wife and children to maintain, food and clothing to buy, and rent to pay."
And yet he was far from extravagant in his ideas as to the remuneration of labour, bounding his estimate at one shilling, or at most eighteen pence, for the daily allowance. Surely, in all this the good man was right; and surely, distresses so patiently borne and sought to be allayed by means so moderate, cannot much longer be the lot of this unfortunate people.
The moderation of tone and views of my hardhanded friend gave me no surprise, as I had noticed
it previously among many of his class. Indeed, the general feeling prevalent among even the most distressed poor in Ireland had always shown itself to me more in the form of sorrow than of
I met with little or nothing of that terrible bitterness of discontent which, in former years, used to characterise a considerable proportion of the lower classes in England, and which refused to be allayed by concessions addressed to their mere personal and individual wrongs. The poor men of Ireland, more practical in this than even their English brethren, seemed to me to indulge in no transcendental theories of politics, nor to look for aid from organic changes in the state of society or government. They looked only to their individual wants and wrongs, and sought redress for these in such a plain practical form as common reason and common sense could at once understand and sanction. Perhaps it was the very discipline of their long distress that had brought them into a state of mind that simulated, at least, if it was not that highest kind of practical philosophy which teaches us, in the words of our great poet, that
“ To know That which before us lies in daily life Is the prime wisdom."
It is among the more instructed members of the middle class, and among the Catholic clergy, that the national wrongs in regard to the dominant Church are felt and expressed. If the labouring classes ever take a part in such questions, it is at the suggestion of those above them, not from their own spontaneous feelings and convictions.
Since coming into the west of Ireland, where the greatest efforts in proselytising to the Protestant Church has been made, I think I have myself observed, and have been certainly informed by those who ought to know, that the zeal of the Roman Catholic Clergy in visiting and instructing their own flocks has been increased in proportion to the activity of their opponents. It is most certain that the priests are very zealous and industrious in their vocation; and if they are more so now than formerly, or more so here than elsewhere, the result becomes very intelligible on the grounds of mere human rivalry and opposition.
It is the opinion of some observers, Protestant as well as Catholic, that the zeal of the Protestant ladies and Scripture readers may, by stirring up this rivalry and opposition, neutralise itself. The priests certainly complain of both these classes of persons for going about, as they say, to disturb the quiet of consciences and the peace of families; but it will be understood that such complaints are likely to be the louder, the more successful such missionaries are in their work of conversion. It cannot, however, be otherwise than most distressing and annoying to men so strong in their convictions of the superiority of their own creed and so zealous in the discharge of their duties, as the priests are, to find their old
province so determinately and systematically invaded by hostile bands on all sides, vowed, not merely to “ disturb their ancient solitary reign,” but to break it in sunder and destroy it altogether.
If, under such circumstances, we should find the equanimity of the old rulers somewhat disturbed, or should even see them, occasionally, moved to the point of wrathful and unseemly opposition, we need not surely be much surprised, nor feel that it requires any extraordinary amount of clemency to forgive them. This remark is made in reference to reports I have heard in England, respecting the conduct of the priests in some of the emergencies alluded to. I think it right, however, to state that I myself, while in Ireland, met with no instance of unseemly violence on the part of the priests in such cases, either in word or deed. In fact, they seemed to be all too deeply impressed with the strength of their own cause, and to have too strong a conviction of the eventual and, as it were, necessary failure of their opponents, to make any such demonstration of feeling, probable. Most assuredly such feeling was never demonstrated in my presence.
In leaving Sligo for Enniskillen we proceeded directly eastward, and soon got upon high ground that enabled us to regain, and with added beauty, all the splendid landscape of the west, which we had lost in descending into the valley of Sligo. Two of the most conspicuous features of this landscape remained long within sight as we pursued our