Looking back through the ages of the past, we see Babylon, with its mighty walls, its towering ramparts, its hanging gardens, its majestic palaces, its superb temples, its public edifices, its vast extent, spreading over the plains of the Euphrates, its kingdom extending from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean - Babylon, with its long line of Kings, going back beyond the time when Abraham, a youth, by the call of Almighty God, left his father's house in Mesopotamia - back to the time of Nimrod, the mighty hunter. But sad was the end of the great Babylon, built on plunder, pride and impiety. Its sacrilegious King laid impious hands on the holy vessels of Solomon's temple, and, in midnight revelry, dared to drink from the chalices consecrated to the Lord of Hosts. The hand of the Lord wrote his doom upon the wall. That very night Cyrus entered the city a conqueror; that moment Babylon perished; that night Balthasar was slain. The Medes and Persians, under Cyrus, swept down from the shores of the Caspian Sea, sending forth their conquering legions, till they spread their empire from one end to the other of western Asia, till it became greater, more powerful, and more populous than all the splendor of Babylon. A few generations passed away and it fell into ruins; and now the great Persian empire no longer exists; it is found only on the page of history. Alexander the Great swept over the face of the earth with irresistible force. In a few years the son of the Macedonian King conquered Thrace, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Persia, India; his power spread along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea; he dragged conquered heroes, kings and emperors after his triumphal chariot; he overcame all opposition, till the entire world, as known at that time, may be said to have fallen under his victorious arm. But pitiful to contemplate, the youthful conqueror, the youthful Alexander,
from the effects of an excessive debauch, and his vast empire crumbled to pieces. He left no heir to sit upon his throne; it lasted but for his lifetime. The old Roman Empire extended even further than those that had gone before it. Rome, queen of the ancient cities, what could equal her in power? What could equal her in beauty? Her capital built by the proud Tarquin, her temples vast and gorgeous, her public baths, her roads, her aqueducts, her roads, her public buildings; Rome, sitting on her seven hills, sending forth her armies conquering and to conquer; Rome, with her empire spreading from the vast forests of Northern Europe to the deserts of Africa, and from the Atlantic nearly to the Indian Ocean; Rome, with her civilization, her power, her literature, her temples, her altars. Rome, then, must certainly have been the great empire of God, foretold by the prophet? No; Rome was to meet the fate of Babylon, of Chaldea, and of Alexander. At the hands of a few hordes of savages from the northern parts of Europe and Asia, the great Roman Empire also perished. While we thus trace on the page of history the rise and fall of the great nations and races of antiquity, we are too apt to overlook the history of warlike and vigorous race, who have acted a conspicuous part in what may be called ancient history, but who act a no less conspicuous part even in our day; I mean the
We read in Cęsar's Commentaries that when the great Roman general invaded Gaul, Transalpine Gaul had for its boundaries the Ocean, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, the Alps, and the Rhine. This vast extent was divided into three great regions; to the North, Belgie Gaul; to the South, Aquitane; in the centre, Celtic Gaul, designated by Greek writers under the name of Keltica, and the inhabitants of which constituted, in the eyes of the Romans, the Gauls properly so named, and was by far the most exrensive and populous. Cęsar speaks of the latter as those who are called in their own language Celts, in our (meaning the Latin) language, Galli, or Gauls. Long, however, before the time of Julius Cęsar, we find mention made of the Celtic Gauls, in the history of Greece and Rome, Thrace and Asia Minor. As far as history can carry us back, the whole of Western Europe, namely, Gaul, a part of Spain, Northern Italy, and what we call to-day Great Britain and Ireland, are found to be peopled by a race apparently of the same origin, divided into an immense number of small States, and governed, patriarchally, in the form of tribes, or clans, called by Julius Cęsar, "Civitates." Greek writers invariably call them Celts,"Keltoi." Roman history has made us all acquainted with their valor. It was in the early days of the Roman Republic that an army of the Celtic Gauls took
burning and destroying the city, and the name of Manlius and Camillus are no better known in Roman history than that of the Celtic leader Brenn, called by Livy, Brennus. His celebrated answer, v victis, will live as long as the world. Later on, in the second century before Christ, we see another army of Celts starting from Panonia, on the Danube, where they had previously settled, to invade Greece. Another Brenn is at their head. Here I might venture to remark, that Brenn, the common Irish word for judge, may have been the name of an office, or dignity, as we find among the Israelites, when they were ruled by judges, before they had kings. Be that as it may, Macedonia and Albania were soon conquered, and some of the peculiarities of the Celtic race may still be traced among the Albanians. Thessaly could not resist the impetuosity of the invaders; the Thermopylę were occupied by the Celtic battalions, and that celebrated defile where three hundred Spartans once detained the whole army of Xerxes, could offer no obstacle to Celtic bravery. Hellas, even sacred Hellas, came under their power, and the sacred temple of Delphi was already in sight and almost within the grasp of Brenn and his warriors, when, according to Greek historians, a violent earthquake, the work of the offended gods, threw confusion into the Celtic ranks, which were subsequently defeated and destroyed by the Greeks. A division, however, of this army of the Celtic Brenn had separated from the main body on the frontiers of Thrace, had taken possession of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, and crossing the Straits, established itself in the heart of Asia Minor, and there founded the State of Galatia, which so long bore their name, and for several centuries influenced the affairs of Asia and of the whole Orient, where they established a social state congenial to their tastes and customs. But the Romans, soon after, invaded Asia Minor, the twelve clannish States, formerly founded by the followers of the Delphic Brenn, were, according to Strabo, first reduced to three, then to two, until finally Julius Cęsar made Dejotar king of the whole country. The history of this branch of the Celts, nevertheless, did not close with the evil fortune of their last king. According to Justinus they
Having lost their autonomy as a nation, they became, as it were, the Swiss mercenaries of the whole Orient. Egypt, Syria, Pontus, often called them to their defence. 'Such' says Justinus, 'was the terror excited by their name, and the constant success of their undertakings, that no king on his throne thought himself secure, and no fallen prince imagined himself able to recover his power, unless with the help of the ever-ready Celts of those countries.' While speaking of this interesting Celtic colony of Galatia, I might refer to the loving and confidental manner in which the great Apostle of the Gentiles addresses them. St. Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, after cautioning them, in the 1st chap. 8th verse: 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema,' addresses them in the 4th chap. 14th and 15th verses, in the following tender words: 'You despised not, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. . . . For I bear you witness that if it could be done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and would have given them to me.' Who can fail to see here the striking coincidence that, as the Celtic clans of Galatia in the East received the Apostle of the Gentiles as 'an angel of God,' so also, three centuries later, another branch of the great Celtic race, occupying an island in the extreme west of Europe, received St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, as a heaven-sent messenger. And if St. Paul found the faithful Celts of Galatia so loyal and devoted to him, that he really believed, "if it could be done, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and would have given them to him" who is there in our own day that can be ignorant of the fact that
"Yet live there still who can remember well,We may rest assured there was a great and enthisiastic gathering of the clans on this occasion. The youthful Vercingetorix led his patriotic followers from victory to victory; but the young patriot warrior had a Julius Cęsar to contend with, who, on hearing the alarming news from Gaul, hastily quitting the banks of the Tiber, and crossing the mountains, where the snow lay six feet deep, suddenly stopped the tide of success; but it required the genius of a Julius Cęsar to meet the emergency. Meanwhile Vercingetorix, with 80,000 infantry, shut himself within the walls of Alesia, which is soon besieged by Cęsar's army, and the cavalry of the besieged is sent in all directions through the length and breadth of Gaul, to call to arms, and to conduct to the succor of the invested town the contingents of the different clans. Although they had been harassed by a continual war, on a gigantic scale, for the last twelve years or so, against the Roman legions, led on by one of the greatest generals that ever lived; yet in about forty-five or fifty days, after the blockade of the place, 250,000 of their fiery clansmen, of whom 8,000 were cavalry, appeared on the plains to the west of Alesia. The besieged leaped with joy. How will the Romans, they said, be able to sustain
How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew,
Both field and forest, dingle, cliff and dell,
And solitary heath the signal knew;
And fast the faithful clans around him drew,
What time the warning note was keenly wound,
What time aloft their kindred banner flew,
While clamorous war-pipes yell'd the gathering sound,
And, when the 'Fiery Cross' glanced, like a meteor, round."
from within and without? But the story is soon told. They had a Julius Cęsar to contend with. A terrible battle was fought in which the Gauls were entirely defeated. Vercingetorix was compelled to surrender, and after gracing the great conqueror's triumph at Rome was cruelly put to death. Such is the finale of Cęsar's conquest of Gaul. I might here observe that Vercingetorix indicates the title, or office, of the great Celtic Leader, as commander-in-chief of the allied clans, just as either a Wellington or a Marlborough was commander-in-chief of the allied forces placed under his command. History has not handed down the proper name of the youthful hero of Alesia; but we can see from the title by which he is known to us that he was of the same race, language and genius as the O'Neills, O'Donnells, O'Connors, McCarthys, and Brian Borous of more recent times. Turn up the word Vercingetorix in any ordinary classical biography, and you will be told that the term is equivalent, according to Celtic or Gęlic scholars, to chief commander of a hundred chiefs. And so it is. Strike off the suffix x, which is the Latin termination, restore the f to its proper place instead of v, read the c and g hard, as is invariably done in Irish or Gaelic, and you have Fer-cin-ceud-righ. Now, any good old woman, even at present day, in Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, or Sligo; nay, more, any good old woman in Inverness, Ross, Argyleshire, or in the islands of Mull, Tyree, Iona, Colinsay, Uist, Skye, not forgetting Rona, Raasay or Scalpa, will readily tell you that Fercinceudrigh means, in good honest Irish or Gaelic, the commander-in-chief of a hundred kings, or by a figure of speech, of countless or innumerable kings.The same analysis might be made of many other names to be met with in Cęsar's Commentaries, which we used to consider as jaw-breakers in our school-boy days. From this time Gaul became part of the great territory of the Roman Empire; and for about five centuries it rose with the prosperity of the empire, or sank with its decline. After Constantine had declared Christianity the dominant religion of the empire, the Christian churches in Gaul penetrated rapidly into every class of society; but even before the time of Constantine, several flourishing Christian communities existed in the country. The more intimately Gaul
|Cotes du Nord . . . . .|
Finisterre . . . . . . . . .
Mobihan . . . . . . . . .
The "Four Masters" were the compilers of an immense work on the sacred and profane "Annals of the Ancient Kingdom of Ireland," a work which records all the notable facts of the history of Ireland from the earliest period, up to their own time. Their names are Cucogry O'Cleary, Perfeasa O'Mulconry, Cucogry O'Duiguenan, and Michael O'Cleary, all members of the Franciscan Order. They began their work in their Convent of Donegal, on the 22nd of January, 1632, and finished it on the 10th of August, 1636. What I consider a distinctive feature of these annals is the concise, matter of fact, style, in which the greatest events are recorded. Such events, as the mission of St. Patrick, the wars of the Danes, the battle of Clontarf, the Anglo-Norman invasion, are recorded under their respective dates, in as few words as the master of a ship would employ in recording the facts contained in each day's work of an ordinary logbook. Did time and space permit, we might also refer to Greek and Roman writers of the remotest antiquity, who make very interesting references to Ireland. At the time when Hanno, about six hundred years before the Christian era, and while Rome was still in her infancy, was sent by the Carthegenian Senate beyond the Pillars of Hercules to explore the western coast of Africa, towards the south - of which voyage the short narrative is still left us - Himlico, brother of Hanno, was similarly commissioned to form settlements on the European coast, towards the north. The account of this latter expedition, which was extant in the time of the elder Pliny, is unfortunately lost; but, in the poem of Festus Avienus, entitled "Ora Maratima," there are copious extracts from it, in which, at least, the sense of the original account is preserved. Avienus, after speaking of the "Insulae Oestrimnides," which Hoeren, the great German historian, thinks must be the Scilly Islands, goes on to say:
"Ast hinc duobus in sacram (sic insulam
Which might be turned into English as follows:
Dixerunt prisci), solibus cursus rati est,
Hace inter undas multam caespitem jacet,
Eamque lati gens Hibernorum colit."
"Thence in two days, a good ship in sailingIn the time of Himlico, therefore, almost six hundred years before Christ, Ireland was called the Holy Isle, and the title was even then an old one; for the poet says: sic insulam dixerunt prisci, thus the ancients named the island. In what that holiness consisted precisely, it is impossible now to say; all we know is the fact that foreign navigators, in the most remote times, who were acquainted with the world as far as it was then known, whose ships had visited the harbors of all nations, could find no more apt expression to describe the island than to say that , morally, it was a "holy spot," and physically, "a fair green island," or, as her own children to this day call her , "the emerald gem of the Western world." Among modern writers, I have availed myself, at least as to facts and opinions, of the learned pages of the Count de Montalembert's "Monks of the West," as well as the great research and carefully formed opinions of Rev. Father Thebaud, S.J., also a French writer, in his recently published large octavo volume "The Irish Race, in the Past and the Present." What makes De Montalembert's "Monks of the West," in five large octavos, all the more interesting is, that, apart from his great research, he does ample justice to the Irish Celts, while he is an ardent admirer of the Anglo-Saxon race, not only when they wielded undivided sway over England, but also as forming, since the Norman invasion,
Reaches the Holy Isle - so was she called of old -
That in the sea nestles, whose turf exuberant
The race of Hibernians tills."
"It is refreshing," he says, "to meet, in these days of superficiality and flippancy, with a book from an author who thinks, and has mastered his subject. Father Thebaud has given us a genuine book, solid and erudite, really profound and instructive, full of intense interest. * * * The author has evidently made a profound study of the Irish character, and his judgement of the genius and mission of the Irish race strikes us as just, and, as far as goes, final. He regards, we think justly, the Irish as a providental people, called, trained, and fitted by Providence to a special work in maintaining and diffusing the true faith, hardly less so than the children of Israel, who were called to be conservators of the primitive traditions and to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, who was to be born of their race. If we give any credit to Irish annals, and the tendency of recent investigation is to confirm them, the Irish, at the epoch of the Roman conquest of Gaul, were a more polished people, and had a higher civilization than the Gallic tribes who were subdued by Cęsar and his legions. * * * * Our view of the Irish race is that they were detached from the parent stock before the patriarchial religion had become, to any great extent, corrupt, or while they still retained the religion and traditions of Noah in great force and comparative purity, and, directed by Providence to the Western Isle they still inhabit, where, separated in some sort from the rest of the world, they preserved, in comparitive purity and vigor, the primitive religion, the primitive civilization, institutions, manners and customs, as transmitted from Antideluvian times through Noah and his sons; and where in reserve, till the coming of St. Patrick they were held by Providence, so to speak, to bring them into the Christian church, and enable them to enter on their missionary work. They were never an uncivilized, a barbarous, or an idolatrous people. This easily explains the facility and thoroughness with which the Irish people received the faith, when preached to them by their great apostles, unexampled elsewhere,"From the foregoing quotation we can form a general idea of the drift of Father Thebaud's work, as well as the opinions of the great reviewer himself. It is not necessary to dwell upon the details of St. Patrick's mission to the Irish people, or the brilliant missionary career of the Irish church particularly during the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries. We cannot but see that the Irish people were specially reserved by Divine Providence for the reception of the christian religion. Indeed they offered no opposition to the reception of Christianity, and St. Patrick left Ireland more thoroughly christian at his death, after thirty-two years of apostolic labors, than the Roman Empire was, more than six hundred years after St. Peter had erected his apostolic chair in the capital and centre of the pagan world. Besides establishing innumerable monasteries, and other seats of learning, in their own country, where, according to the Venerable Bede, the youth of England and continental Europe were received to be educated free of charge, they established the celebrated School of Iona, on the western coast of Scotland; while colonies of Irish monks, with St. Columban, or the fair-haired Colum, preached the Gospel to the Celtic and Germanic Gauls, and established monasteries in Gaul, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. If we examine closely into their history, we cannot fail to see the great
It is hard to be obliged to bring such things home to royalty; but the conclusion is forced upon us, that the man who, at least indirectly, ordered the cruel assassination of the illustrious St. Thomas Becket, would, in order to carry his point, have few scruples in committing an act of forgery. As it would be impossible, within the compass of a single lecture, to follow, in the most summary manner, the course of events through the reigns of the Tudors and Stuarts, we will pass on to the time when, after a bloody struggle with Cromwell and Ireton, the Irish surrendered at Kilkenny on terms which were subsequently adopted by the other principal bodies of troops in Ulster, Munster, and elsewhere. Cromwell was determined to punish the Irish for their attachment to their religion as well as for their devotion to the dynasty of the Stuarts. First, then, to render easy of execution the stern and cruel resolve which he had taken, the Irish forces were not only to be disarmed, but put out of the way. Hence Cromwell was gracious enough to consent that they be permitted to leave the country and take service in the armies of the foreign powers then at peace with the English Commonwealth. Forty thousand men, officers and soldiers, adopted this desperate resolution. But these forced exiles were not restricted to the warrior class. The Lord Protector, as he was now called, appealed to Henry Cromwell, then Major-general of the forces in Ireland, to secure a thousand young Irish girls to be shipped to Jamaica. Henry Cromwell suggested the addition of fifteen hundred or two thousand boys of from twelve to fourteen years of age. The numbers finally agreed on were one thousand boys and one thousand girls. The total number of children disposed of in this way, from 1652 to 1655, has been variously estimated at from twenty thousand to one hundred thousand. The number however would probably be about sixty thousand. Of course all these children were sold as slaves. The British government at last were compelled to interfere and put a stop to the infamous trafic, when the mere Irish proving too scarce, the agents were not sufficiently discriminating in their choice, and shipped off English children also to the Tobacco Islands. At last the Island was not only left without defenders, but almost depopulated. It is calculated that after this last cruel measure had been carried into execution, only about half a million of Irish people remained in the country; the rest of the resident population being composed of the Scotch and English, introduced by James I., and the soldiers and adventurers who had followed Oliver Cromwell. The main features and design of the celebrated "Act of Settlement," are well known to all. It was an act intended to dispose quietly of half a million of human beings, destined, certainly, in the mind of its projector, to disappear in due time, without open violence; an act, in a word, by which the half million of Irish Catholics still remaining in the country would be allowed to die off quietly, and allow the whole island to fall into the hands of the "godly." Connaught is famed as being the wildest and most barren province of Ireland. At the best, it can support but a scanty population; and, at the time of which we speak, it had been completely devastated by a ten years' war, and by the excesses of the parliamentary forces. This province then was mercifully granted to the unhappy Irish race; it was set apart as a paradise for the wretched remnant of the Irish nation to dwell in - all Connaught, except a strip four miles wide along the sea, and a like strip along the right bank of the Shannon. This latter judicious provision was undoubtedly intended to prevent them from dwelling by the ocean, whence they might derive subsistence and assistance, or means of escape in the event of their ever rising again; and, on the other hand, from
found that further sacrifices were still required of them, which they had never counted upon. Their wives could, by no persuasion, be induced to speak English, so that, however it might go against the grain, the husbands were compelled to learn Irish, and to speak it habitually as best they could. But it was only when the children began to make their appearance that the difficulties began to multiply; they found their young darlings beginning to speak Irish in the very cradle, and, irresistible in their native Irish wit and humor, according as they grew up, lisping the prayers and reverencing the faith they had learned at their mother's knee; so that, from that time to this, the posterity of Cromwell's "Ironsides," of such of them, at least, of this class as remained in Ireland, have been devoted Catholics and ardent Irishmen. The case was otherwise, however, with the chief officers of the parliamentary army, who had received large estates, and could easily obtain wives from England. They remained staunch Protestants, and their children have continued in the religion received with the estates which came to them with this wholesale confiscation. But the bulk of the army, instead of helping to form a Protestant middle class and a Protestant yeomanry, has really helped to perpetuate the sway of the Catholic religion in Ireland, and the feeling of nationality so marked at this day. This remarkable fact has been well established and very plainly set forth, in our time, by many eminent English writers. It will appear almost unaccountable how the Irish race in Ireland could have survived the emigrations that have been, for the last three hundred years, continually draining off the population of the country. The emigration movement originated with the Reformation. It began with the flight of a few of the nobility in the reign of Henry VIII., their number was increased under Elizabeth, and grew to still larger proportions under James I.; but a far greater number than all was doomed to exile by Cromwell and the Long Parliament. Emigration then became a compulsory banishment. The next movement on a large scale occurred after the surrender of Kilkenny, when the Irish commanders, Colonel Fitzpatrick, Clanricard, and others, could obtain no better terms than emigration to any foreign territory then at peace with England. The number that then left their native land amounted, according to well-informed writers, to forty thousand men, most of them of noble blood, many of the first nobility of the land, and almost all children of the old race. The example thus given, at this early stage, was followed by others on subsequent occasions. The Treaty of Limerick, October 3rd, 1691, gave the garrison under the brave Sarsfield liberty to join the army of King William III., or enter the service of France. The bulk of the Irish army, which was about fourteen thousand, accordingly entered the French service. From that time out a large number of the Irish nobility and gentry continued to enter the French, Spanish, and Austrian service; and the several Irish brigades thus formed became celebrated all over Europe until the end of the eighteenth century. It is said that, from first to last, six hundred thousand Irishmen perished in the armies of France alone. There is no doubt that, in all, a million men left Ireland to take service under the banners of the Catholic sovereigns of Europe; and it is needless to dwell on the bravery and devotion that distinguished them, for their record is well-known to the world. It may appear strange to the superficial reader how the Irish stood out for the Stuart dynasty, and preferred entering foreign service to staying at home; but we cannot help seeing at a glance, that it was their attachment to their religion that prompted them in all this. On national grounds, it is true, they looked upon the Stuarts as being originally of the same race as themselves; but on religious grounds, they naturally expected from the son of Mary Queen of Scots, and from the husband of Henrietta of France, and from James II., those
and privileges which they were compelled at length to look for at the hands of foreign sovereigns. While speaking of the Irish in the different countries of continental Europe during the eighteenth century, it is only due to their memory that I should refer to the honorable record that they have left on the page of history. In all honorable professions - in the church and in trade, as well as in the army - they became distinguished. The history of France alone would afford many instances of this; but as I find my space growing small, I must pass them over. I must however advert to the fact that it was a venerable Irish priest, Father Edgeworth, that was chosen by the ill fated Louis XVI. to prepare him for death and stand by him during his last terrible ordeal of ignominy; and we are told that the spectacle, though awful, was also awfully solemn when, as the cruel guillotine was falling on the devoted neck of the royal victim, the manly voice of the venerable Irish priest was heard, above the murmurs and whispers and suppressed sobs of the crowd, giving forth the memorable words: "Fils de Saint Louis, montez au ciel! Son of St. Louis, ascend to Heaven!" The moral condition of France during the eighteenth century, and the depths of corruption into which the higher classes had sunk, are known to all. But to the honor of the Irish nobility and gentry then residing in France, not one single Irish name is to be met with in that long list of noble names which have disgraced that page of French history. It was not as fawning courtiers, hanging round in luxurious bowers and glittering palaces of the effeminate Louis XV. that the Irish chivalry were to be found - no, if you look for them, you will find them on the battle fields of Dettingen and Fontenoy. We find in the Irish, as a nation, a most uncompromising spirit, whenever the interests of the Catholic religion were at stake. We find this in the determined manner in which they have opposed, for the last half century, the system of education attempted to be forced upon them, and which they pronounced from the beginning as dangerous to the faith and morals of the rising generations. We find it in the determined manner in which they refused to make any compromise on the question of Catholic Emancipation. The question of Catholic Emancipation was agitated for many years, and the English Government would have willingly granted it long before 1829, but on condition that they (the Government) were allowed what was then technically called a veto, in the nomination of Catholic bishops. This compromise, many Catholics in England were willing to make; but the Irish Catholics to a man, with Daniel O'Connell at their head, if we except a mere fractional number of the old aristocracy, would have none of it; they refused all shuffling or tampering in the matter; they did not wish that a government, however well disposed, should have a voice, either directly or indirectly, in the appointment of those who formed the Irish hierarchy. They preferred to bide their time and wait until at length the "Iron Duke" finally pronounced in favor of Catholic Emancipation pure and simple, and considered it imprudent to delay any longer the passing of the act. It is not necessary that I should dwell on the current events of the day, which have scarcely yet been embodied in history; my space indeed would not allow me to do so, for the present. I may be told that the manner in which the Irish have conducted themselves for the last year or two is a blot on the age in which we live. Every reasonable man will admit that daring and blood thirsty deeds of cruelty have been perpetrated, within a short time, by Irishmen, which are not in keeping with Ireland's antecedents for the last thousand years. We must, however, remember that every Greek is not an Aristides or an Epaminondas; every Roman is not a Fabius, Regulus, or Cincinnatus; every Irishman is not a Brian Boru, or Sarsfield; every Scot is not a Bruce, or Wallace; every American in the war of independence was not a George Washington. Even among the Apostles there was a Judas Iscariot. And if America had a George Washington at the head of her patriot army, there was a Benedict Arnold among them; so if Ireland had her Boru and Sarsfield, her O'Connell and Grattan, she has also had her Dermot McMurrough, and Jemmie O'Brien and
But these are matters into which we need not enter for the present. There is no one but must admit that Ireland has had, and still has, many grievances to be redressed; but the general policy of the English Government has too often been, to redress these grievances by the application of coercion, much in the same way that a quack would apply "Readway's Ready Relief" for the healing of all diseases. O! for a few months of an Oliver Cromwell, we sometimes hear them say, to redress the grievances of the refractory Irish! In illustration of the spirit of a certain portion of the British press on this question, I will give a quotation from an article in "Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine" of May last, headed, "Our inexplicable wrong towards Ireland."
"There is something, no doubt, that continually brings out the ferocity - no measured ferocity - of the Irish nature. The Irishman has got a raw which keeps him forever infuriated. He probably understands his own disorder as little as our government does. He must vent his fury somewhere, and he discharges it upon tame, fawning Britain. 'Maga' has not left it till to-day to state where, in her opinion, the Irish shoe pinches. We have not grown sapient after the event. We stated long ago that the real Irish disease is poverty. Irish habits are such, that even on a generous soil Irish husbandmen would probably be hard put to it to live; how impossible then must it be to for them to thrive on a sterile globe exacerbated by a cruel climate! Intemperance, unthrift, ignorance, laziness, a hankering after political excitement and after tumult, a base appetite for alms - these qualities must condemn the Irish peasant to squalor and misery, but unfortunately they do not render him insensible to the well-doing of his neighbor. Though he will not himself be steady or industrious, he can view with deadly envy the Scotch or English hind who keeps above the world by hard handed industry and inflexible application. The competence of a decent community acts on him like a red rag on a bull, and sends him howling to gunpowder and dynamite, and the commission of cold-blooded cruelties that a Mohawk or a Zulu would with horror put far from him. As undeserving Cain rose upon his favored brother and slew him, so will the reckless Irishman nourish a deadly hatred against, and wreak a fearful vengeance upon, those who dare to be more thrifty than himself. We once more invite our countrymen to think seriously on this view of the matter. Assuming now that poverty is the real disease, or the root of all the diseases, let us examine how these diseases are likely to be effected by the social proceedings of Irishmen. Irishmen are the persistent opponents of all improvement of their native land. The arts by which mere manual labor may be superseded or made more productive, they scare from them as if they were abominations. Men of science, speculators, inventors, capitalists, though they would seem to be needed in Ireland as much as in any undeveloped region in the world, dare not exercise their professions there on pain of death or ruin, on the first occasion when they find themselves (it matters not whether innocently or otherwise) out of harmony with Irish prejudices and jealousies. Sanitary improvements and the resources of civilization are viewed with intense disapprobation. Thus the tendency would seem to be to keep behind all the rest of the world, while hating and envying the rest of the world for getting in advance of Ireland. In their frantic fury, our Hibernian neighbors destroy property mercilessly, and are at immense pains to prevent the field from yielding its increase. Harvests, growing crops, farming stock, are destroyed as readily and as cruelly as human life, &c. &c."
There is an old saying that "qui nimis probat, nihil probat." - He who proves too much
and the proverb might be applied to the foregoing. I have made use of the quotation from Blackwood, however, merely to give you a specimen of British public opinion. It is nevertheless only proper to observe that such language as I have cited from Blackwood does not fairly represent the average run of British public opinion in our day. Time was when the expression of such extreme views, and rank bigotry, would have no little weight, but they are now happily relegated to old fogyism. The honorable record of Irishmen in continental Europe, during the last century, and all over the whole civilized world, in the present century, is a sufficient refutation of such vile stuff. In forming an estimate of a race of people, in order to arrive at anything like a just conclusion, we should take the peoples as represented in our great imperial institutions, and not judge of them from detached military facts, or from the conduct of mere individuals who represent no one but themselves. Among our great institutions I would of course give a prominent place to the Parliament and the Army, and judging of the Irish nation as represented in both these institutions, during the most exciting days of the last year or two, we are forced by the iron logic of facts, to a conclusion that sheds honor and lustre on them as a nation. In reference to the manner in which the Irish members in the English Parliament, in May last, voted on a question involving great moral and religious principles, I will quote a few words from the London Tablet; and in doing so, I may observe that the London Tablet seldom appears to do more than scanty justice to any person or anything Irish. The London Tablet of May 12th, 1883, said:-
"But, after all, it is the Irish members to whom the laurels are due, and English Catholics may well be gracefully reminded that it was Irish voices and Irish votes which chiefly prevented Atheism from having a share in English law-making."
As to the record of the Irish in the English army, I will take the words of General Wolseley. I quote his words principally because he spoke them at a public banquet in Dublin, where the brave soldier took occassion to set himself right before the world. You must remember, that after General Wolseley's return from the Egyptian campaign, many people represented him, though an Irishman by birth, as quite anti-Irish in spirit and sentiment. Indeed, the idea was whispered round that it would be a master stroke of policy to let Wolseley loose on the Irish Tenant Leaguers, and that he would be the very man to redress Irish grievances in true Cromwellian style. On the 20th of June last, the University of Trinity College, Dublin, conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws on Earl Spencer, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and on Lord Wolseley. On the evening of the same day Lord Wolseley was entertained at a banquet and was presented with a service of plate. The banquet took place in the round room of the Rotunda. Lord Wolseley, on rising to respond to the toast of his health, said:-
"I have been what is termed a successful man, and I am no exception to that rule. I, in my turn, have had my enemies - my share of them - I think too many of them. Many stories have been propagated by them which are wholly and entirely untrue; but of all the unfair stories, the foulest story ever invented about me, the greatest untruth ever started against me is that which has been started by some people recently, that I am anti-Irish in my feelings, and that my sympathies are not with the Irish people. That calumny I repudiate with all the strength that is within me. (Cheers.) I decline most emphatically to be disassociated or disconnected in any way with those gallant soldiers with whom I have spent so many years of my life (cheers); those gallant Irishmen who, according to my experience of them, always have been prepared, ready and willing, and anxious to take their fair share of danger on the battlefield. (Cheers.) My Lords and Gentlemen, I should be a craven - I would be unworthy the uniform I wear, and unworthy the position I hold in the army, if I wished in any way to be disassociated from them. (Cheers.) With the Ireland of politics - with the Ireland of differing and different creeds - I have no concern whatever (applause); but with the Ireland of chivalry my earliest associations were connected. (Cheers.) I was brought up, My Lords and Gentlemen, to believe in the great superiority of Irishmen. (Hear, hear.) I was brought up to believe that Irishmen were cleverer, were abler, and were in every way better men than any other people in the world. (Hear, hear.) I now speak of my countrymen as I know them, and after a long experience of them. After having seen much of the world, and taking a clear view of all I have seen and gone through, speaking of them now I must say that I have seen nothing and heard nothing to make me waver in that faith. (Cheers.) I cannot help feeling that every page of the military history of Great Britain bears record of the valor of Irish soldiers. There is scarcely any event connected with the military history of Britain, to which we can look with with pride and pleasure, but has the name of some Irish soldier prominently associated with it. (Cheers.) In my own special walk in life I have a great deal to do with Irish soldiers. I have been associated with them in various parts of the world, and under all sorts of circumstances. (Cheers.) I have seen them under difficulties. I have seen them undergoing the hardships to which a soldier's life is liable, and I can only say, with reference to them, that I have always found Irish soldiers to be like clay in the hands of the moulder (hear) and that it was always an essential point that the moulder should strongly understand the material with which he was working. (Cheers.) My Lords and Gentlemen, I do not think that there is a greater folly than to imagine that the strict discipline - that discipline that we know to be so necessary for the maintenance of the army - can be maintained among Irish soldiers by the cold unsympathetic rule of Englishmen. (Cheers.) I have a great respect for Englishmen (hear.) I know their good points. There is no one can admire Englishmen more than I do; but my own experience is , that if you have to have Irish soldiers in a fair state of discipline and get as much out of them as may be got out of gallant men, they should be commanded by their own countrymen. I have been so impressed with the manner in which those Irish soldiers did their work in the late campaign that if it should be my good fortune at any future time of my life to take command of an army in the field, I hope and trust sincerely that there will be in that army an Irish Brigade, commanded by an Irish brigadier (cheers). In the many wars in which I have taken part, I have always found that there was a Scotch brigade, and I cannot see any good reason why an army which has on its banner the Cross of St. George, St Andrew and St. Patrick, should not also have an Irish Brigade (cheers). I am quite certain that if ever an Irish Brigade does take the field under an Irish general having its confidence, it will prove itself worthy of the country." (cheers.)The quotation is rather long; but as it is the only quotation from an Irishman in my whole paper, I think I need make no apology for its length. It is not necessary that I should enter, or dwell, upon the present status of Irish Catholics either in the Dominion of Canada, or in the neighboring republic; I would wish, however, before closing, to say a word on the present state of things in the great Provinces of Australia; as the current events at the antipodes may not be so familiar to many of you as those thaings which are transpiring nearer home. When
the great and illustrious Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, was preparing to leave his archdiocese on a journey to Rome, in April last, a great public meeting was held in his grand new cathedral, with the object of bringing in his annual Report in connection with the building fund, and of presenting suitable adresses to the Archbishop before his departure on a visit to the Eternal City. It appears from the report submitted by the building committee that the amount paid into the building fund for the last ten years, or so, was £102,763 6s. 7d. and the debt still remaining on the church was only £2,837 6s. 10d. Besides building and paying for their magnificient cathedral, the great Archbishop had, with the co-operation of his people, succeeded in establishing thorough Catholic schools throughout the whole extent of the archdiocese. We can see from the Archbishop's replies to the different addresses presented to him that he was addressing Irishmen, or the sons of Irishmen. In illustration of this, I might quote half a dozen columns of the Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th of April, 1883.
Wert thou all that I wish thee - great, glorious and free,
"Had it not been for your co-operation," said his Grace, "your self-sacrifice, your appreciation of the church's ordinary magesterium regarding education, the education question would not have been, as it is now, practically solved. The little ones of the church, and who especially belong to Christ, were in danger of being reared in an atmosphere deprived, scientifically, of every germ of Catholic faith. Your Catholic instincts, the instincts of men coming from a land which amidst the wreck of all things dearest in life, has ever cherished the faith of St. Patrick, - and will cherish it to the end - the unbroken tradition of your faith has drawn you to my side, and has kept you there. To sum up all I meant to say in a single sentence, you have saved the Roman Catholic religion in the Archdiocese of Sydney."
These are words of one of the greatest Englishmen of this nineteenth century of ours. The names that appear prominent amomg those whom the great Archbishop was addressing are Sheridan, Lynch, Mahoney, O'Brien, Flannigan, Slattery, Healy, Hanley, McIntyre, Gallagher, Quirk, Carroll, Hanrahan, Kearns, Ryan, Jennings, O'Connor, McLauchlin, Dunn, Dalton, and many other unmistakeable Irish names, too numerous to mention. I would, however, wish to be here properly understood. In reference to those matters which were transpiring a few months ago, at the antipodes, my object is not to tickle the national feelings of any of those who are here present, No, such a paltry object would be quite unworthy of you who listen to me, and of me who addresses you. My real, my honest object, in bringing these facts before you this evening is, that, by my doing so, you may be induced to follow such a noble example, or, in Scripture phrase, to "go and do in like manner." You often hear the following lines from one of Ireland's favorite poets:-
"Remember the glories of Brian the brave,
It is quite proper, it is lawful, it is patriotic, for a people to remember the glories of their ancestors. It is quite natural for Irishmen to remember with pride the glories of a Burke and a Curran, a Shiel, Grattan, and O'Connell. But in this connection, although not quite impervious to the inspiration of the poet, I shall here prefer quoting the inspired words of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles: "Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you." (Heb. xiii. 7.) Yes, remember your Patricks and Columbas, your O'Hurleys and Plunkets, your Malachys and Lawrence O'Toole, your McHales, Cullens and McCabes, of our own day. In a word, remember the undying glory of that "emerald gem" - that island which, of all others that we have ever heard or read of, was known to writers of the most civilized nations of antiquity, three thousand years ago, as the "Holy Island." Let every Irishman, therefore, and every Irishman's child with the warm Celtic blood still coursing through his veins, remember that ancient "Island of Destiny."
Though the days of the hero are o'er."
"Remember thee! yes while there's love in this heart,
-- (Great applause.)
It shall never forget thee, all lone as thou art.
More dear in thy sorrows, thy gloom and thy showers,
Than the rest of the world in their sunniest hours.
First flower of the earth and first gem of the sea,
I might hail thee with prouder, with happier brow,
But O! could I love thee more deeply than now?"
Wert thou all that I wish thee - great, glorious and free,
Copyright © 2003 Basil Campbell.