Irish Race in the Past and the Present
Aug. J. Thebaud

Part 11 out of 14

acquired by Irishmen then residing on the Continent, it is
fitting to speak of them again in their character of emigrants.

They took upon themselves the noble task of making the
literature and the history of their nation known to all people;
and in so doing they have preserved a rich literature which must
otherwise have perished.

What was their situation on the Continent? They had been driven
by persecution from their country, sometimes in troops of exiles
to be cast on some remote shore; sometimes escaping singly and
in disguise, they went out alone to end their lives under a
foreign sky. Behind them they left the desolate island; their
friends bowed down in misery, their enemies triumphant and in
full power. The convents, where they had spent their happiest
days, were either demolished or turned to vile uses; their
churches desecrated; heresy ruling the land, truth compelled to
be silent. All the harrowing details given by the "Prophet of
Lamentations" might be applied to their beloved country.

True, they could find peace and rest among those who offered
them their hospitality; at least, the worship of God would be
free and untrammelled there. But it was not the place of their
birth, where they had received their first education; it was not
the mission intrusted to them when they consecrated their lives
to God. They would bear another language, see around them
different manners, begin life anew, perhaps, in their old age.
What a contrast to their former hopes! What a sad ending to the
closing days of their life!

Nevertheless, they might be of use to their countrymen. It was
not for them now to convert Europe, and preach Christianity to
barbarous tribes, as did their ancestors of old. The world which
received them was languishing with excess of refined
civilization; corruption had entered in, and was fast destroying
it; and they could scarcely hope to hold it back from its
downward career. But, at least, they might open houses for the
reception of the youth of their own country, where they should
receive an education according to the teachings of the true
Church, which was denied them at home. So they went to Salamanca,
to Valladolid, to Paris, Louvain, Douai, Rheims, Rome, wherever
there was hope or possibility of directing Irish youth in the
ways of true piety and learning.

The labors to which they devoted themselves, though unknown to
posterity, were of great utility at the time. They saw the youth
they educated grow up under their care; when their studies were
concluded, they sent them to labor in the ministry among their
countrymen; they heard of them from time to time of their
arduous life, the dangers they braved, the many persecutions
they underwent, their imprisonment when captured, their
conviction, torture often, and death by martyrdom. And thus,
through the exertions of those emigrant monks and priests, the
true Gospel was preached in Ireland, and the faith of the people
kept alive and strong.

A few of them chose another path, and consecrated the remainder
of their days to literary labors, which have shed down on their
persecuted country a halo of immortal glory.

Some Franciscan friars (two of them the brothers O'Cleary) had
already begun this work in the island itself, when driven from
their quiet homes to take refuge in the obscure "convents," that
is, out-of-the-way farm-houses mentioned before, where they were
received and hidden away from the world. The literature of
Ireland was fast perishing; the rage of their enemies being as
violently directed against their books as against their houses
and churches. Precious manuscripts were every day given to the
flames and wantonly destroyed, seemingly for the mere pleasure
of destruction. A very few years would have sufficed to render
the former history of the country a perfect blank. In no spot of
the same size on earth had so many interesting books ever been
written and treasured up; but before long there would remain no
friars on the island to preserve them, no library to contain
them, no one to care for them in the least. The brothers
O'Cleary saw this with dismay; and they, with two companions,
became known as the "Four Masters." They interested in their
work the faithful Irish who still retained possession of a farm,
or a cabin with a few acres of ground attached; the men, and
women even, were to search the country round for every volume
concealed or preserved, for every parchment and relic, for
vellum manuscripts, even a stray solitary page, did one remain
alone. The annals of Ireland were thus saved by the literary
patriotism of poor and unknown peasants. All that remains of
Irish lore was collected together in the rural convent of the
O'Clearys, and an ardent flame was enkindled which lasted the
whole of the seventeenth century.

To this initiative must be referred the subsequent labors of
Ward, Colgan, Lynch, and others; herculean labors truly, which
have enabled antiquarians of our days to resume the thread, so
near being snapped, of that long and tangled web of history
wherein is woven all that can interest the patriot and the
Christian of the island.

Knowing the position in which the writers found themselves, it
is astonishing to see what they wrote. It was not a work of
fancy to which their pens were devoted: A strong, feeling heart
and an active imagination were certainly theirs; but of little
service could either prove to them in the ungrateful task of
collecting manuscripts, classifying, reading them through,
ascertaining their age and authenticity, and finally using them
for the purpose of preserving the annals and hagiography of the

The large libraries they found in the various cities which
received them could be of little use to them. They had first to
collect their own libraries, to summon their authorities from
distant lands; many books were to be procured from Ireland
itself. With what precautions! It was real, (though lawful)
smuggling; for the export of Irish books was not only under
tariff, but strictly prohibited; the mere sight of them was more
hateful to a British custom-house officer of those days than the
sight of a crucifix to a Japanese official of Nagasaki. It would
be interesting to know the various stratagems devised to conceal
them, tarry them away, and convey them triumphantly to Louvain,
Paris, or Rome.

But Ireland was not the only repository of Irish books. Many
letters, official documents, copies of old MSS., interesting
relics of antiquity, had been gathered ages before and during
all the intervening time, in convents, churches, houses of
education, on the Continent, along the Rhine chiefly. It is said
that even to-day the richest mines of yet unexplored lore of
this character are scattered along both sides of the great
German river. The frequent movements of various armies, the
sieges of cities, the horrors of war which have raged there
constantly from the days of Arminius and Varro down, have not
destroyed every thing, could not exhaust the rich deposit of
Irish manuscripts there concealed. But the labor of striking the
mine!-of' opening those musty pages falling to pieces between
the fingers and leaving in the hand nothing but illegible
fragments of half-blackened parchment; and the further labor of
deciphering them, of discovering what they speak about, and if
they are likely to prove useful to the purposes.

It is needless to descant on such a theme. It is impossible to
give any true idea of the literary labors of those men, without
having seen and perused their huge folios, many of which have
not yet been published to the world. Poor Colgan could give us
little more than his "Trial Thaumaturga and that was only
destined to form the portal of the edifice he purposed erecting
as a shrine to the memory of the whole host of saints nurtured
in the island-the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae

The grand idea, which first germinated in the minds of those men,
expanded afterward in others under circumstances more favorable.
Did they not suggest to Bollandus and his fellows the thought
whose realization has immortalized them?

In tasks such as these were the Irish emigrant monks of the time

There was yet another class of involuntary Irish exiles those
shipped to the " plantations" of America, to the 11 tobacco" and
11 sugar" islands, to Virginia and Jamaica, but principally to
the Barbadoes. The origin of this new kind of emigration,
already touched upon, is worthy of the times and of the men who
called it forth.

After forty thousand soldiers had been allowed, or rather
compelled, by Cromwell to enlist in foreign armies, it was found
that many had left behind them their wives and children. What
was to be done with these " widows" whose husbands and numerous
offspring were still living ? They could not be sent to Coff as
women, with children only, could not be expected to "plant" that
desolate province; they could not be expected to "plant" that
desolate province; they could not be allowed to remain in their
native place, as the decree had gone forth that all the Irish
were to "transplant" or be transported: it would have been
inconvenient and inexcusable to do what had been so often done
in the war-massacre them in cold blood-as the war was over.

To relieve the government of this difficulty, Bristol merchants,
and merchants probably from other English cities, trading with
the new British colonies of North America, thought it a
providential opening for a great profit to accrue to the soils
of the benighted Irish women and children, and likely at the
same time to add something to their own purses and those of
their friends, the West India planters.

It was only under Elizabeth that permanent colonies were sent
out from England to the continent and islands of the New World.
The Cavaliers of Virginia are as well known in the South as the
Puritans of New England in the North. This last colony dated
only from the time of the Stuart dynasty. The great question for
all those transatlantic establishments was that of labor; but in
the South it was more difficult of solution than in the North,
where Europeans could work in the fields, a thing scarcely
possible in the tropics. The natives as we know, were first
employed in the South by the Spaniards, and soon succumbed to
the demands of European rapacity.

In the West Indies, natives of two different races existed: the
soft and delicate Indian of Hayti and Cuba, and the ferocious
Caribs of many other islands. The first race soon disappeared;
the other continued refractory, indomitable, choosing to perish
rather than labor; and some remnants of it still remain, saved
by the Catholic Church. As yet, African negroes had not been
conveyed there in sufficient numbers.

A brilliant thought struck the minds, at once pious, active, and
business-like, of those above-mentioned Bristol merchants-a
thought which was the doom of thousands of Irish women and

The names of a few of those Bristol firms deserve to be handed
down. Those of Messrs. James Sellick and Leader, Mr. Robert
Yeomans, Mr. Joseph Lawrence, Dudley North, and John Johnson,
are furnished by Mr. Prendergast, who tells us that-

"The Commissioners of Ireland under Cromwell gave them orders
upon the governors of garrisons to deliver them prisoners of war
. . . . upon masters of work-houses, to hand over to them the
destitute under their care, `who were of an age to labor,' or,
if women, those 'who were marriageable, and not past breeding;'
and gave directions to all in authority, to seize those who had
no visible means of livelihood, and deliver them to these agents
of the Bristol merchants; in execution of which latter
directions, Ireland must have exhibited scenes in every part
like the slave-hunts in Africa."

A contract was signed on September 14, 1653, by the Com
missioners of Ireland and Messrs. Sellick and Leader, "to supply
them (the merchants) with two hundred and fifty women of the
Irish nation, above twelve years and under the age, of forty-

The fate reserved for the human cattle, as they must have been
looked upon by the godly gentlemen who bartered over them, may
be well imagined. It is calculated that, in four years, those
English firms of slave-dealers had shipped six thousand and four
hundred Irish men and women, boys and maidens, to the British
colonies of North America.

The age requisite for the females who were thus shipped off may
be noted; the boys and men were not to be under twelve or over
fifty. These latter were condemned to the task of tilling the
soil in a climate where the negro only can work and live. As all
the cost to their masters was summed up in the expense of
transportation, they were not induced to spare them, even by the
consideration of the high price which, it is said, caused the
modern slave-owners of America to treat their slaves with what
might be called a commercial humanity. It is easy to imagine,
then, the life led by so many young men forced to work in the
open fields, under a tropical sun. How long that life lasted, we
do not know; as their masters, on whom they entirely depended,
were interested in keeping the knowledge of their fate a secret.
It is well understood that, when the unfortunate victims, had
once left the Irish harbor from which they set sail, no one ever
heard of them again; and, if the parents still lived in the old
country, they were left to their conjectures as to the probable
situation of their children in the new.

Sir William Petty says that "of boys and girls alone "-exclusive,
consequently, of men and women-" six thousand were thus
transplanted; but the total number of Irish sent to perish in
the tobacco-islands, as they were called, was estimated in some
Irish accounts at one hundred thousand."

The "Irish accounts" may have been exaggerated, but the English
atoned for this by certainly falling below the mark, as is clear
from the fact that, according to them, the Commissioners of
Ireland required the "supply" for New England alone to come from
"the country within twenty miles of Cork, Youghall, Kinsale,
Waterford, and Wexford;" that "the hunt lasted four years," and
was carried on with such ardor by the agents of many English
firms that those men-catchers employed persons "to delude poor
people by false pretenses into by-places, and thence they forced
them on board their ships; that for money sake they were found
to have enticed and forced women from their husbands, and
children from their parents, who maintained them at school; and
they had not only dealt so with the Irish, but also with the
English." For this reason, the order was revoked, and the "hunt"

When agents were reduced to such straits after the government
had used force, as Henry Cromwell acknowledged, the large extent
of country mentioned above must have been well scoured and
depopulated; and certainly a far greater number of victims must
have been secured by all those means combined than is given in
the English accounts. We believe the Irish.

One other source of supply deserves mention. Not only women and
children, but priests also, were hunted down and shipped off to
the same American plantations; so that persons of every class
which is held sacred in the eyes of God and man for its
character and helplessness, were compelled to emigrate, or
rather to undergo the worst possible fate that the imagination
of man can conceive.

In 1656 a general battue for priests took place all over Ireland.
The prisons seem to have been filled to overflowing. "On the 3d
of May, the governors of the respective precincts were ordered
to send them with sufficient guards, from garrison to garrison,
to Carrickfergus, to be there put on board of such ships as
should sail with the first opportunity to the Barbadoes. One may
imagine the sufferings of this toilsome journey by the petition
of one of them. Paul Cashin, an aged priest, apprehended at
Maryborough, and sent to Philipstown, on the way to
Carrickfergus, there fell desperately sick; and, being also
extremely aged, was in danger of perishing in restraint from
want of friends and means of relief. On the 27th of August, the
commissioners having ascertained the truth of his petition, they
ordered him sixpence a day during his sickness, and (in answer,
probably, to this poor prisoner's prayer to be saved from
transplantation) their order directed that the sixpence should
be continued to him in his travel thence (after his recovery) to
Carrickfergus, in order to his transplantation to the Barbadoes.
"-- (Cromwellian Settlement.)

In that burning island of the West Indies, deprived of all means,
not only of exercising their ministry among others, but even of
practising their religion themselves, of fulfilling their holy
obligation of prayer and sacrifice, these victims of such an
atrocious persecution were employed as laborers in the fields:
their transplantation had cost money, and the money had to be
repaid a hundred-fold by the sweat of their brow.

Ship-loads of them had been discharged on the inhospitable shore
of that island; each with a high calling which he could no
longer carry out; each, therefore, tortured in his soul, with
all the sweet or bitter memories of his past life crowding on
his mind, and the dreary prospect spreading before him, to the
end of his life, of no change from his rude and slavish
occupation under the burning sun, hearing no voice but that of
the harsh taskmaster; his eyes saddened and his heart sickened
by the open and daily spectacle of immorality and woe, with no
ending but the grave.

It seems, however, that these holy men found some means of
fulfilling their sacred duty as God's ministers, for the inhuman
traffic in such slaves as these to the Barbadoes lasted but one
year. In 1657 it was decreed that this island should no longer
be their place of transportation, but, instead, the desolate
isles of Arran, opposite the entrance to the bay of Galway, and
the isle of Innisboffin, off the coast of Connemara. Mr.
Prendergast thinks that this change of policy in their regard
may have been caused by the price of their transportation, which
probably mounted to a high aggregate sum. But he must be
mistaken. They certainly cost no more than women and children,
and their labor in the West Indies surely covered this expense.
The reason for the change is more plainly visible in the nature
of the site substituted for the Barbadoes as their place of
exile. The "holy isles" of Arran and the isle of Innisboffin
were then, as now, bare of every thing--almost of inhabitants.
The priests could be there kept as in a prison, and, though they
might be of no profit to their masters, they could not hear a
voice or see a face other than those of their fellow-captives.
In the West India islands there existed an already thick
population, and the very women and children who had been
transported thither before them would be consoled by their
ministry, though practised by stealth, and strengthened in their
faith, which might thus have not only been kept alive among them,
but spread over the whole country.

Who can say if the faith, preserved among the many Irish living
in the island until quite recently, was not owing to their

"The first Irish people who found permanent homes in America,"
says Thomas D'Arcy McGee, "were certain Catholic patriots
banished by Oliver Cromwell to Barbadoes. . . . In this island,
as in the neighboring Montserrat, the Celtic language was
certainly spoken in the last century,1 (1 The Celtic language--
that sure sign of Catholicity--was not only spoken there last
century, but is still to-day. The writer himself heard last year
(1871), from two young American seamen, who had just returned
from a voyage to this island, that the negro porters and white
longshoremen who load and unload the ships in the harbor, know
scarcely any other language than the Irish, so that often the
crews of English vessels can only communicate with them by signs.)
and perhaps it is partly attributable to this early Irish
colonization, that Barbadoes became 'one of the most populous
islands in the world.' At the end of the seventeenth century, it
was reported to contain twenty thousand inhabitants."

Although Barbadoes is the chief island concerned in the present
considerations, nevertheless nearly all the British colonies
then existing in America, received their share of this
emigration. Several ship-loads of the exiles were certainly sent
to New England, at the very time that New-Englanders were
earnestly invited by the British Government to "come and plant
Ireland;" Virginia, too, paid probably with tobacco for the
young men and maidens sent there as slaves. The "Thurloe State
Papers" disclose the fact that one thousand boys and one
thousand girls, taken in Ireland by force, were dispatched to
Jamaica, lately added to the empire of England by Admiral Penn,
father of the celebrated Quaker founder of Pennsylvania.

Thus, then, began the first extensive emigration of the Irish to
various parts of British America--a movement quite compulsory,
which in our days has become voluntary, and is productive of the
wonders soon to claim our attention.

The involuntary emigration of soldiers and clergymen to the
Continent of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, was, as has been seen, the cause of great advantages
to Ireland, and became, in the designs of a merciful Providence,
a powerful means of drawing good from evil. At first sight, it
seems impossible to discover a similar advantage in this other
most involuntary emigration to the plantations of America.

A pagan has declared that "there is no spectacle more grateful
to the eyes of God than a just man struggling with adversity;"
and where, except in the first ages of Christianity, could more
innocent victims, and a more cruel persecution, be witnessed?

After the horrors of a civil war, horrors unparalleled perhaps
in the annals of modern nations, the children and young people
of both sexes are hunted down over an area of several Irish
counties, dragged in crowds to the seaports, and there jammed in
the holds of small, uncomfortable, slow-going vessels. What
those children must have been may be easily imagined from the
specimens of the race before us to-day. We do not speak of their
beauty and comeliness of form, on which a Greek writer of the
age of Pericles might have dilated, and found a subject worthy
of his pen; we speak of their moral beauty, their simplicity,
purity, love of home, attachment to their family, and God, even
in their tenderest age. We meet them scattered over the broad
surface of this country--boys and girls of the same race, coming
from the same counties, chiefly from sweet Wexford, the
beautiful, calm, pious south of Ireland. Who but a monster could
think of harming those pure and affectionate creatures, so
modest, simple, and ready to trust and confide in every one they
meet? And what could be said of those maidens, now so well known
in this New World, of whom to speak is to praise, whom to see is
to admire? Such were the victims selected by the Bristol firms,
by "Lord" Henry Cromwell, Governor-General of Ireland, or by
Lord Thurloe, secretary and mouth-piece of the "Protector." They
were to be violently torn from their parents and friends, from
every one they knew and loved, to be condemned, after surviving
the horrible ocean-passage of those days, the boys to work on
sugar and tobacco plantations, the girls to lead a life of shame
in the harems of Jamaica planters!

Such of them as were sent North, were to be distributed among
the "saints" of New England, to be esteemed by the said "saints"
as "idolaters," "vipers," "young reprobates," just objects of
"the wrath of God;" or, if appearing to fall in with their new
and hard task-masters, to be greeted with words of dubious
praise as "brands snatched from the burning," "vessels of
reprobation," destined, perhaps, by a due imitation of the
"saints," to become some day "vessels of election," in the mean
time to be unmercifully scourged by both master and mistress
with the "besom of righteousness" probably, at the slightest
fault or mistake.

Such was the sorrowful prospect held out to them; there was no
possibility of escape, no hope of going back to the only country
they loved. In the South they soon, very soon, sank into an
obscure grave. In the North a prolonged life was only a
prolongation of torment. For, who among them could ever think of
becoming a "convert?" They had been taken from their island-home
when over twelve years of age; they had already received from
their mothers and hunted priests a religious education, which
happily could never be effaced; they were to bury in their
hearts all their lives long the conviction of their holy faith,
supported by the only hope they now had, the hope of heaven.

Could the eyes of God, looking down over the earth, and marking
in all places with deep pity his erring children, find souls
more worthy of his vast paternal love? Can we imagine that the
ears of Heaven were deaf to their prayers poured out unceasingly
all those long days and nights of trials and of tears? Can we
read in the designs of Providence the blessed decrees which such
scenes called forth? Blind that we are, unable often to judge
rightly of our own thoughts, often an enigma to ourselves, how
shall we dare to judge of what is so far above us? No Christian
at least can pretend that all those miseries, accumulated on the
heads of so many innocent victims, had no other object than to
make them suffer. Ireland will yet profit by all the merits,
unknown and untold, gained by so many thousand human hearts and
souls and bodies given over to misfortunes which baffle

And as yet we have said nothing of those cargos of priests
shipped from Carrickfergus to Barbadoes, and afterward to Arran
and Innisboffin. Deprived of all means of making their new
country in America a witness of Catholic prayer and worship--not
one of them probably being able to offer the holy sacrifice even
for a single day, nor administer any sacrament unless perhaps
that of penance-by stealth; not one dared open his mouth and
preach the truth publicly to all. What could they do? They
offered the sacrifice of themselves; the very sight of them
possessed almost the virtue of a sacrament, and their lives
preached a sermon more eloquent than any of those which entrance
the vastest audience of a solemn cathedral.

No! the first emigration of 'the Irish to America was not
unfruitful in its results. And were we to attribute the great
progress made by Catholicity on the American Continent in the
present age to the merits of those numerous victims of
persecution, who could prove us to be in error, and say that
between the sufferings of innocence in the seventeenth and the
glorious success of their countrymen in the nineteenth century
there is no connection? The old phrase of Tertullian, "Sanguis
martyrum, semen Christianorum," has been proved true too often
in the annals of the Catholic Church to be falsified in this one
instance; yet, if what our days witness be not the result of
former sufferings and sacrifices, those trials were barren, and
are consequently inexplicable. Every cause must have its effect;
and it is a truth which no Christian can hesitate to admit, that
the most efficacious source of blessings is the tear of the
innocent, the anguish of the pure of heart, the humble prayer of
the persecuted servant of God.

When we come to speak of the emigration of the race to the
American Continent, which is now in progress, the stupendous
facts which will make our narrative and excite our admiration
must be regarded and accounted for from a religious and Catholic
stand point, and we shall then be able to refer to this first
and apparently barren emigration. Many losses, spiritual as well
as temporal, may stagger the unreflecting, particularly when the
whole designs of Providence are as yet scarcely in their
inceptive stage; but the more they are developed before our eyes,
the more the truth is made clear; every difficulty vanishes;
and the soul of the beholder exclaims "Yes, God is truly wise
and merciful!"

But it is time at last to enter on the consideration of what we
esteem the first great issue involved in the resurrection of
Ireland, namely, all the probable consequences of the present
emigration, which is the true point we are aiming at, as our
purpose is to show the benefit that Ireland has already derived,
and is sure to derive later on, from that incessant flow of the
great human wave starting from her shore to oversweep vast
continents and islands of the sea. What aid will it afford to
her own resurrection at home, in order to render that complete
and lasting? This may be said to have been our main object in
writing these pages; for, although it may be impressive enough
for those who regard the subject attentively, and although it
will certainly be a source of wonder to those who come after us,
nevertheless it fails to strike as it ought the great mass of

Often in the history of nations, while the mightiest revolutions
are in progress, they are scarcely perceptible to the actors in
them; all their circumstances, their most active and effective
operations, being like the silent workings of Nature, scarcely
sensible to those around, until the end comes and the great
result is achieved; then history records the event as one
fraught with the greatest blessings, or misfortunes, to mankind.
So will it be, we have no doubt, with that strange concatenation
of small domestic facts which now form the universal phenomenon
of all English-speaking countries: the spread of the Irish

What were its beginnings? Nothing at all. What good effects
followed it? None perceptible for a long time. These two
reflections claim our attention first, for we must study the
phenomenon, in all its circumstances and bearings.

This new emigration we call voluntary, to distinguish it from
the first, which was forced upon large portions of the Irish
race. But, in reality, the Irish undertook it at the beginning
with reluctance; the intolerable state of existence which they
were compelled to undergo in their own land acting upon them
with a kind of moral compulsion amounting to an almost
irresistible force. For it was either the famine or persecution
of the century preceding which first drove them to emigrate.

Necessity of expansion is a great characteristic of their race,
an instinctive impulse which three thousand years ago carried a
part of it into the heart of Asia. But this particular branch
had been rooted to the soil for so many centuries, by the stern
necessity of repelling a series of successive invasions, that
this great characteristic appeared for a long time to be totally
extinct in it. They seemed neither to know nor care any more for
foreign countries; and no race in Europe, from the ninth to the
eighteenth century, showed itself so completely wedded to the
soil, and incapable of the thought of spreading abroad.

At last they began to move. And what was the first origin of the
new movement? No one can say precisely. Only, in various
accounts of occurrences taking place in the island during the
last century, we occasionally meet with such entries as the
following by Matthew O'Connor, in his "Irish Catholics:"

"The summer of 1728 was fatal. The heart of the politician was
steeled against the miseries of the Catholics; their number
excited his jealousy. Their decrease by the silent waste of
famine must have been a source of secret joy; but the Protestant
interest was declining in a proportionate degree by the ravages
of starvation. . .

"Thousands of Protestants took shipping in Belfast for the West
Indies. . . . The policy that would starve the Catholics at home
would not deny them the privilege of flight."

This is the first mention of emigration, on any extensive scale,
which we could find in the records of last century; and, at the
time when the Protestant Irish went to America, where they
doubtless met with congenial minds in the Puritans of New
England, the Catholics still turned, as before, to Spain and

But a new entry in 1762 unfolds a new aspect. This time
Catholics alone are spoken of: "No resource remained to the
peasantry but emigration. The few who had means sought an asylum
in the American plantations; such as remained were allowed
generally an acre of ground for the support of their families,
and commonage for a cow, but at rents the most exorbitant."

This is the first instance we meet with of Irish Catholics
emigrating to America, at least in comparatively large bodies.
They were no doubt encouraged to take this step by the accounts
which reached them of the success of the Ulster Protestants who
had gone before, and whose posterity is now to be found in the
South chiefly, as low down as Carolina and Georgia.

But the relative prospects of the Protestants and Catholic were
at that time far from being equally good. The first, driven from
home by famine, found a land of plenty awaiting them, a genial
climate, perfect toleration of their religious tenets everywhere,
and in some districts they gained real political influence.
They were received with open arms by the colonists, who were
unable to occupy the land alone, and ready to welcome new fellow-
citizens, who would aid them in their contests with the Indians,
and add materially to their prosperity and resources. All
persons and all things then smiled on the new-comer, and within
a very short time he found himself possessed of more than he had
ever expected. Thus others were induced to follow from the north
of Ireland, and famine was no longer the only motive power which
impelled them to leave their native land. Mr. Bancroft tells us
they were called Scotch-Irish.

On the other hand, the Irish Catholics found a fertile soil and
an inviting climate; Nature welcomed them, but man recoiled,
inflamed by a bitter hostility against their faith and their
very name. This feeling of opposition, on both accounts, was
already fast wearing away in Europe; but the "liberality"
springing up in the Old World, owing to a variety of
circumstances, had not yet penetrated into the British colonies
of North America. They were still, in this respect, in the state
in which the Revolution of 1688 had left them: Catholicity was
proscribed everywhere, and the penal laws of the Old World were
attempted to be enforced in the New, as far as the different
state of the country would permit. A few details, taken mainly
from Mr. Bancroft's history, will give us a tolerably exact idea
of the situation in which the newly-arrived Irish Catholic found
himself in that future land of liberty.

The consequences of the downfall of James II. were soon fully
accepted by the British colonies, throughout which changes of
greater or less degree took place in the laws, not only without
any great opposition, but in the main with the full applause of
all parties. The Stuart dynasty was thrown over more easily in
America than it had been in the British Isles.

It is universally admitted that one of the greatest consequences
of that downfall was the renewed persecution of Catholics in
England and Ireland. In the words of Mr. Bancroft:

"The Revolution of 1688, narrow in its principles, imperfect in
its details, frightfully intolerant toward Catholics, forms an
era in the liberty of England and of mankind."

It will be no surprise, then, on coming to review the various
colonies, to find the oppression of the Catholic Church common
to all without one exception.

Beginning with the South, we find the new governor of South
Carolina, Archdale, a Quaker, and, on that account, personally
well disposed toward all, desirous of showing that a Quaker
could respect the faith of a "Papist," commencing his
administration by sending back to the Spanish Governor of
Florida four Indian converts of the Spanish priests, who were
exposed as slaves for sale in Carolina. He likewise enfranchised
the Huguenots of South Carolina, who, up to this time, had been
kept under by the High Church oligarchy. Yet, when he came to
urge the adoption of liberal measures toward all in the state,
the colonial Legislature consented to confer liberty of
conscience on all Christians, with the exception of "Papists."

In North Carolina, the Church of England was actually made the
state Church, in 1704, and the Legislature enacted that "no one
who would not take the oath prescribed by law should hold a
place of trust in the colony."

Of Virginia, Spotswood, the governor, could write to England, in
1711: "This government is in perfect peace and tranquillity,
under a due obedience to royal authority, and a gentlemanly
conformity to the Church of England."

Of Maryland, Mr. Bancroft writes that the English Revolution was
a Protestant revolution.

"A convention of the associates 'for the defence of the
Protestant religion' assumed the government, and, in an address
to King William, denounced the influence of the Jesuits, the
prevalence of popish idolatry, the connivance by the previous
government at murders of Protestants, and the danger from plots
with the French and Indians."

Hence, a little farther on, we read: "The Roman Catholics alone
were left without an ally, exposed to English bigotry and
colonial injustice. They alone were disfranchised on the soil
which, long before Locke pleaded for toleration, or Penn for
religious freedom, they had chosen, not as their own asylum only,
but, with Catholic liberality, as the asylum of every
persecuted sect. In the land which Catholics had opened for
Protestants, the Catholic inhabitant was the sole victim to
Anglican intolerance. Mass might not be said publicly. No
Catholic priest or bishop might utter his faith in a voice of
persuasion. No Catholic might teach the young. If the wayward
child of a Papist would but become an apostate, the law wrested
for him from his parents a share of their property. The
disfranchisement of the proprietary related to his creed, not to
his family. Such were the methods adopted 'to prevent the growth
of Popery.'"

Mr. Bancroft adds with much truth and force: "Who shall say that
the faith of the cultivated individual is firmer than the faith
of the common people? Who shall say that the many are fickle,
that the chief is firm? To recover the inheritance of authority,
Benedict, the son of the proprietary, renounced the Catholic
Church for that of England; the persecution never crushed the
faith of the humble colonists."

Pennsylvania appears to form an exception to that universal
animosity against Catholics. It is said that, owing to William
Penn, "religious liberty was established, and every public
employment was open to every man professing faith in Jesus
Christ. . . . In Pennsylvania human rights were respected: the
fundamental law of William Penn, even his detractors concede,
was in harmony with universal reason, and true to the ancient
and just liberties of the people."

Such may have been the written law--the theory; but the law as
executed--the fact--was far from realizing those fine promises.
As late as the end of the Revolutionary War, the Catholics of
Philadelphia were compelled to hide away their worship in a
small chapel, surrounded by buildings whose only access was a
dark and winding alley still in existence a few years back.

It is known, moreover, that Penn himself, in 1708, forbade mass
to be celebrated in the colony. According to T. D. McGee,
Governor Gordon, in 1734, prohibited the erection of a Catholic
church in Walnut Street; and, in 1736, a private house having
been purchased at the corner of Second and Chestnut streets for
the same object, it was again prohibited.

New Jersey showed her liberality in the form sacred to all the
other colonies: "Liberty of conscience was granted to all but

There was as yet no homogeneity in New York, the Dutch still
preserving great power, and, consequently, "the idea of
toleration was still imperfect in New Netherlands; equality
among religious sects was unknown." If this was the case with
several Protestant organizations, what must it have been with
the Catholics? It is well known that no one dared openly avow
his faith in the true Church, and that John Ury was hanged in
1741 for being a priest, though whether he was a priest or not
is still a question.

Rhode Island had proclaimed in the beginning "entire freedom of
mind;" but, after the Revolution of 1688, the colony
"interpolated into the statute-book the exclusion of papists
from the established equality."

The spirit of Connecticut is well expressed in the words of the
address sent by the colony to King William of Orange, on his
accession: "Great was the day when the Lord who sitteth upon the
floods did divide his and your adversaries like the waters of
Jordan, and did begin to magnify you like Joshua, by the
deliverance of the English dominions from popery and slavery."
We wonder how the taciturn Hollander received this effusion of
Connecticut? There is nothing more to add on the situation of
the Catholics in the land of the "blue laws."

In Massachusetts it will be no surprise to hear that "every form
of Christianity, except the Roman Catholic, was enfranchised."

This short sketch is eloquent enough with reference to the
position in which the poor Irish immigrant found himself on
landing on the shores of the New World. His faith he found
proscribed as severely almost as in his own country. He was
compelled to conceal it; and, even had he been free to make open
profession of it, he could find no minister of his creed
tolerated anywhere. The country was a perfect blank as far as
the ceremonies of his religion went. In his native land he knew
where to find a priest; he was advised of the day and of the
precise place where he might assist at the sacred mysteries of
his religion; and, were it in the cave or on the mountain-top,
in the bog or the morass, he knew that there he could adore and
receive his God as truly and as worthily as in the magnificent
domes looking proudly to heaven under Catholic skies. But in
British North America, except in a few counties of Maryland,
where the true faith had once been openly planted and taken root,
where some clergymen of his own creed were even still to be
found, though forced to conceal, or at least not expose
themselves too freely, he knew that elsewhere it was useless for
him to inquire, not only for a sacred edifice where he might go
to thank his God on landing, but even to look for a priest
should he find himself at the point of death.

At the present day it is almost impossible to give any details
and move the reader by a picture of the complete spiritual
destitution of the Irish immigrant in his new home. Here and
there, however, we meet, in reading, facts apparently
insignificant in themselves, which at first sight seem to have
no connection whatever with the subject on hand, yet which, with
the aid of reflection, throw quite a flood of light on it, as
convincing as it is unexpected. Take, for instance, the

"In the last year of the administration of Andros in
Massachusetts," says Mr. Bancroft, "the daughter of John Goodwin,
a child of thirteen years, charged a laundress with having
stolen linen from the family. Glover, the mother of the
laundress, a friendless immigrant, almost ignorant of English,
like a true woman, with a mother's heart, rebuked the false
accusation. Immediately, the girl, to secure revenge, became
bewitched. The infection spread. Three others of the family, the
youngest a boy of less than five years old, soon succeeded in
equally arresting public attention. . . . Cotton Mather went to
pray by the side of one of them, and, lo! the child lost her
hearing till prayer was over. What was to be done? The four
ministers of Boston and the one of Charlestown assembled in
Goodwin's house, and spent a whole day of fasting in prayer. In
consequence, the youngest child, the little one of five years
old, was 'delivered.' But if the ministers could thus by prayer
'deliver' a possessed child, there must have been a witch. The
honor of the ministers required a prosecution of the affair; and
the magistrates, William Stoughton being one, with a 'vigor'
which the united ministers commended as 'just,' made 'a
discovery of the wicked instrument of the devil.' The culprit
was evidently a wild Irishwoman, of a strange tongue. Goodwin,
who made the complaint, 'had no proof that could have done her
any hurt;' but the 'scandalous old hag,' whom some thought
'crazed in her intellectuals,' was bewildered, and made strange
answers, which were taken as confessions, sometimes, in
excitement, using her native dialect. . . . It was plain the
prisoner was a Roman Catholic; she had never learned the Lord's
Prayer in English; she could repeat the Pater Noster fluently
enough, but not quite correctly; so, the ministers and Goodwin's
family had the satisfaction of getting her condemned as a witch
and executed."

The position of this poor woman, who had never openly declared
herself a Catholic, but which fact the people were led to infer
from various circumstances, expresses the condition of all Irish
immigrants at the time. A further fact recorded by the same
historian shows what the feeling toward Catholics was at the
time in Massachusetts:

"The girl, who knew herself to be a deceiver, had no remorse,
and to the ministers it never occurred that vanity and love of
power had blinded their judgment."

The reason was plain: Glover was a Catholic. How could the girl
be expected to feel remorse for having brought about her death?
How could the ministers feel the least concern because their
"vanity and love of power" had effected the hanging of such a
creature?--"a vessel of wrath," in any case; a "predestined
reprobate," beyond doubt, whose ignominious death on earth and
eternal punishment afterward were "a true source of joy in
heaven and an increase of glory for the infinite justice of God,
" if there was any truth in Calvinism.

Another fact, as suggestive as the above, is found in McGee's
"Irish Settlers in America:" "The first Catholic church that we
find in Pennsylvania, after Penn's suppression of them in 1708,
was connected with the house of a Miss Elizabeth McGauley, an
Irish lady, who, with several of her tenantry, settled on land
on the road leading from Nicetown to Frankfort. Near the site of
this ancient sanctuary stood a tomb, inscribed, 'John Michael
Brown, ob. 15th December, A. D. 1750. R. I. P.' He had been a
priest residing there incognito."

Miss E. McGauley was not poor, like Glover. On coming to America
with some of her tenantry, she secured herself beforehand
against the difficulty of practising her religion; and, knowing
well that no priest was to be found in the country, she brought
one with her. All the remainder of his life did this minister of
God reside in her house incognito, keeping the ministry
intrusted to him for the service of all a profound secret. He
never attempted, probably, to enlighten his prejudiced and
ignorant neighbors; the knowledge of his character and the
benefits arising from his presence were confined to the lady of
the house and her faithful tenantry. Even after his death the
secret was still kept, and only the cabalistic characters "R. I.
P." remain to tell an intelligent reader that he was neither
Quaker nor Protestant; and, probably, tradition alone, preserved
doubtless in the neighborhood, could assure us that he was a

How many Catholics scattered over the broad colony of
Pennsylvania, immigrants like Miss McGauley, but unlike her in
their poverty, and therefore unable to hire a clergyman, never
knew that they might unburden their consciences and enjoy the
consolations of their religion, by travelling a hundred miles or
so to the house "on the road leading from Nicetown to
Frankfort?" How many lived and died within a short distance, and
never knocked at the door, owing to their ignorance of the class
of inmates? Thus, although there were some ministers of God in
the country, their number was so small, and they were so far
distant from each other, that their labors were utterly
unavailing for the great body of the Catholic immigrants, who
would have rejoiced to throw themselves at their feet, and ease
their hearts and purify their souls by confession.

Some Irishmen, it is true, had emigrated before such concealment
was requisite, in Maryland at least, where an asylum for all had
been opened by Lord Baltimore, a Catholic. Thus, the Carrolls
had settled in Prince George County. They were at liberty to
make open use of the services of the English fathers of the
Society of Jesus, who for a long time officiated undisguisedly
among their English Catholic flocks; but, as was seen, after the
Revolution of 1688, Catholics were disfranchised in Maryland
even, their religious rites proscribed, and penalties enacted
against the open profession of their worship.

Thus, concealment became a necessity, there also; the policy of
keeping the existence of clergymen and the celebration of the
holy mysteries secret had to be adopted there as in other
colonies. The Carroll family, like Miss Elizabeth McGauley, gave
refuge in their house to a minister of their own religion, and
it was in such a chapel-house that John Carroll was born, on the
8th of January, 1735--the first Bishop and Archbishop of

It is therefore no matter for wonder that the number of children
of the Church in North America did not increase in proportion to
the number of Catholic immigrants; on the contrary, the
posterity of the majority of those who chose the British
colonies, for their home was lost to her. The immigrants
themselves, we are confident, never lost their faith. Although
living for years without any exterior help, without receiving a
word of instruction or advice, without the celebration of any
religious rite whatever, or the reception of any sacrament, yet,
faith was too deeply rooted in their minds and hearts to be ever
eradicated, or shaken even.

But, though they themselves clung fast to their faith in the
midst of so many adverse circumstances, what of their children?

There is no doubt that many of them did, individually, every
thing possible to transmit that faith to their children; but all
they could do was to speak privately, to warn then against
dangers, and set up before them the example of a blameless life.
Not only was there no priest to initiate them into the mysteries,
granted by Christ to the redeemed soul; there was not even a
Catholic school-master to instruct them. Even the "hedge-school"
could not be set on foot. Books were unknown; Catholic
literature, in the modern sense, had not yet been born; there
was no vestige of such a thing beyond, perhaps, an occasional
old, worn, and torn, yet dearly-prized and carefully-concealed
prayer-book, dating from the happy days of the Confederation of

There is no reason, then, for surprise in the fact that,
although the families of those first Irish settlers were
numerous and scattered over all the district which afterward
became the Middle and Southern States, only a faint tradition
remained among many of them that they really belonged to the old
Church and "ought to be Catholics." How often was this the case
thirty years ago, particularly in the South!

It would not be right to conclude that all this was a pure and
unmitigated loss to the Church of Christ. Later on, we shall
have to speak of more numerous and serious losses: but a few
words on this first one may not be thrown away.

As in the material world an infinite number of germs are lost,
and quantities of seeds, wafted on the breeze from giant trees
and humble plants, fall and perish on a barren rock, in the
eddies of a swift-running brook, or, oftener still, on the hard
and unkind soil on which they have happened to alight; so that,
out of a thousand germs, a few only find every thing congenial
to their growth, and attain to the full size allotted them by
Nature --nevertheless, despite this loss, the species is not
only preserved, but so multiplied as to produce on the beholder,
in after-time, the impression that, not only no loss has been
sustained, but that much has been gained. So is it with the
Catholic Church in general, and in particular with the momentous
events now being considered.

The cultivated field of the "father of the family" was about to
be extended over a new and vast area. A whole continent was to
be "fenced around," and "olive-trees," and "fig-trees," and all
plants useful and ornamental, were destined to flourish in that
vast garden to the end of time. The great and eternal Father was,
by his providence, directing the mighty operation from above,
and marking the various points of the compass to which the
floating germs were to be wafted. He knew that he was planting a
new garden for his Son, who would, as usual, be the first
husbandman, and employ many workmen to help him.

How could it be expected that all would be gain without loss,
when the harvest-time had not yet arrived, and the "enemy" was
busy sowing "tares" in all directions? Was not the work human as
well as divine? and, as human, did not the work partake of the
imperfection of human things?

The continent had evidently been predestined to form one of the
strongest branches of the great Catholic tree. Discovered before
the modern heresies of Protestantism had shown themselves, it
was to bring into the fold of Christ new nations, when some old
ones were to be cut off and wither away. This has long ago been
pointed out; but another mighty design of Providence there was
which only now begins to show itself.

Columbus was in search of Asia and the holy sepulchre when he
stumbled on the New World. Nor was the idea of his great mind
altogether a delusion. The new continent was in future ages to
be used as the highway from Europe to the Orient; China, Japan,
India, vast regions filled with innumerable multitudes of human
beings, had, so far, scarcely been touched, could scarcely be
touched, by Catholicism coming from Europe. In fact it was too
far away, and the means of intercommunication were too
inadequate. The holy Catholic Church increases as "things which
grow;" a few husbandmen--missionaries--are required to set the
first seedlings and plants in the soil, to water them, watch
over them, and see that they thrive and flourish; the rest of
the process is a matter of seeds wafted by the wind, falling and
taking root in a fertile soil, which has been already prepared
for their reception. If there were no other means of propagation
than the toil and sweat of the husbandman, how long would it
take to cover the whole earth with vegetation? The first
propagation of Christianity was done in this way; hence it took
more than ten centuries to Christianize Europe. In the fifth
century, Rome was still thoroughly pagan. Were the vast regions
of that dim, far-away East to undergo a similar slow and painful
process, necessitating an immense amount of labor, centuries and
centuries in duration? God hastened the process by adding to it
the wafting of seeds, and America was to be the vast nursery
from which those seeds were to come. It was from that long and
alternately widening and narrowing belt of land, running down
the sea from north to south, that the Japhetic race was to
invade the "tents of Sem."

Thus was the dream of Columbus to be realized. Asia would be
reached by Europe, of which America would form a part. The east
of Asia would become contiguous to a real European population,
large masses of which would easily come in contact with the
Mongolian and Malay races of their immediate neighborhood, steam
and modern improvements in travel reducing the intervening
distance to a matter of a few days. Thus the Japhetic movement
could be carried out on a large scale, and European civilization
come to supersede the obsolete manners of those old and effete
races of Eastern Asia. The unity of mankind would be vindicated
against its blasphemers; and, to crown the whole, Christianity
would find its way back to the cradle of man, then, to its own
birthplace, Calvary and the sepulchre of Christ. Thus would the
conjectural vision of the great Genoese become only an
explanation of the old prophecy of the second father of mankind.1
(1 The reader will understand that all this is merely "a view,
" and not given as a pure interpretation of Scripture or past

Thus would the Church at last become rigorously Catholic, and
not as some theologians imagined, in their desire to make actual,
incomplete facts coincide with a far wider theory, only
Catholic by approximation.

If it were allowed us to read the designs of Providence
reverently, we might say, without presumption, that it seems
such is to be future history, although simple conjecture may
produce too strong an impression on our minds. But, at the
period of which we speak, shortly after the middle of the last
century, any one who would have spoken thus would have been
justly deemed a visionary. The south of America, though
possessed of the true religion, seemed inert; the North was
already showing signs of an intense future activity, but all
opposed to the truth. God was about to change those appearances,
and, by infusing the Irish element into the North, produce, in a
comparatively short space of time, the wonderful phenomenon
which we witness.

Yet, so short-sighted are we, that some are almost staggered in
their faith, because the children of the earliest Irish
emigrants to this country, were apparently lost to the Church.

Nevertheless, several circumstances might be brought forward to
show that a real gain accrued to the Church from these lost
children of the first Irish settlers. How many prejudices, so
deeply rooted in the country as to seem ineradicable, owe their
destruction to them! How many harsh and uncharitable feelings
against Catholics were smoothed away or softened down by their

Those men who, in after-life, remembered that they "ought to be
Catholics," were not ready to accept, on the word of a "minister,"
all the absurd calumnies spread against the Church throughout
those vast regions. They had heard, by a kind of tradition, kept
alive in their families, of what their ancestors had formerly
suffered, and they at least were not inclined to join in the
universal denunciation of a creed which they were conscious
"ought to be" their own.

Who shall say whether it is not the old Catholic blood, running
in the veins of these children of Irish Catholic parents, which
has been mainly instrumental in creating that spirit of true
liberality which inspires the honorable conduct of the majority
of the American people, and in which the Church has at all times
found her safety?

It is certain that there is a vast difference between that
American spirit and the atmosphere of distrust pervading other
countries, and that the rapid spread of the Church throughout
the broad regions of the Union has been singularly favored by
the soft breeze of a liberal and kindly feeling so common to
those even who are not born within the fold. And that the
children of Irish parents, themselves lost to the Church, have
exercised great influence from the start, in that regard, cannot,
we think, be denied.

But, perhaps, too much space has been devoted to that first
emigration from Ireland; it is time to come to a more recent
period of which there are more certain and positive accounts.

There is no need to speak of the happy change effected in the
position of the Catholic Church in America by the Revolution;
Washington, in his reply to the address of the Catholics of the
country, has given expression to the feelings of the nation in
terms so well known that they require no comment.

From that date commences the real history of the Catholic Church
in North America, outside of the provinces originally settled by
the French and Spaniards. The influx of Irish immigrants now
attracts our chief attention.

From the year 1800, when the "Union" was effected between
England and Ireland, the number of immigrants increased suddenly
and rapidly, and the situation of the new-comers on their
arrival was very different from that of their predecessors. They
found liberty not only proclaimed, but established; few churches
indeed, but, such as there were, known and open, and a bishop
and clergymen already practising their ministry.

Before entering upon the extent, nature, and effects of this
second Irish immigration--which may be studied from documents
existing--it will be well to say a few words on the elements
which constituted the Catholic body when first organized. We are
concerned, it is true, with the new element introduced by the
great movement of which we begin to speak; but we are far from
undervaluing other sources of life, which not only affected the
Church at its birth in the United States, but have continued to
act upon her ever since with more or less of energy. The reader
should not imagine that, by not speaking of them, we are unjust
or blind to their efficiency; they simply lie without the scope
of our plan.

In the North the French, and in the South the Spanish
missionaries, had imparted to Catholicity a vitality which could
not be extinguished; but its operations were almost entirely
confined to limits outside those which circumscribe the field of
our investigations. The French element, however, grew into
prominence even at the outset within those limits, either
through the acquisition of Louisiana, or in consequence of the
French immigration during the terrible revolution of last
century. It is only necessary to open the pages of Mr. R. H.
Clarke's recently-published "Lives of the American Bishops," to
be struck with the importance of that element. It may be said
that, for the first twenty-five years of the republic, French
prelates and clergymen, together with several American
Marylanders, were intrusted with the care of the infant Church.
Ireland seems to have had scarcely any office to fulfil in that
great work, save through the humble exertions of a few devoted
but almost unknown missionaries; so that, when bishops of Irish
birth were first chosen, they were either taken from Ireland
itself, as was Dr. England, Bishop Kelly, of Richmond, or
Conwell, of Philadelphia, or from the monasteries of Rome, as
were Bishops Connolly and Concanen, of New York. Bishop Egan, of
Philadelphia, can scarcely be called an exception, as he had
only spent a very few years in this country when he was elevated
to the episcopal dignity. The German element showed itself only
in Pennsylvania.

It was under circumstances such as these that that stream of
desolate people began to flow, spreading gradually through
immense regions, and bringing with it only its unconquerable

From the "mustard-seed" a noble tree was to spring up; but as
yet it was only a weak sapling. In 1785, Bishop Carroll made an
estimate of the Catholic population of the States: "In Maryland,
seventeen thousand; in Pennsylvania, over seven thousand; and,
as far as information could be obtained, in other States, about
fifteen hundred." New York City could not yet boast of a hundred

Like all things durable and mighty, the first swelling of that
great wave was slow and silent, and scarcely perceptible, until
little by little the ripple spread over the vast ocean.

The first apparent causes have been well expressed by T. D.
McGee, in his "Irish Settlers:" "The breaking out of the French
War in 1793, and the degrading legislative Union of 1800, had
deprived many of bread, and all of liberty at home, and made the
mechanical as well as the agricultural class embark to cross the

"Hitherto the Irish had colonized, sowed and reaped, fought,
spoken, and legislated in the New World, if not always in
proportion to their numbers, yet always to the measure of their
educational resources. Now they are about to plant a new emblem -
-the Cross--and a new institution--the Church--throughout the
American Continent. For, the faith of their fathers they did not
leave behind them; nay, rather, wheresoever six Irish roof-trees
rise, there you will find the cross of Christ reared over all,
and Celtic piety and Celtic enthusiasm, all sighs and tears,
kneeling before it."

Let us look at a few particular signs of the coming of this
great wave in its first scarcely perceptible movement.

"John Timon was born at Conewago, Pennsylvania, February 12,
1797, and baptized on the 17th of the same month; his parents,
James Timon and Margaret Leddy, had quite recently arrived in
this country from Ireland, and were from Belturbet, County Cavan.
A family of ten children, of whom John was the second son,
blessed the Catholic household of these pious parents."--(Lives
of American Bishops.)

"Francis Xavier Gartland was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1805;
he came to America, while yet a child, and made his studies at
Mount St. Mary's, Emmettsburg."--(Ibid.)

"John B. Fitzpatrick was born in Boston, November 1, 1812. His
parents emigrated from Ireland, and settled in Boston in 1805."--

What did the parents of the future bishop find on their arrival
at Boston? In the year previous, the first Catholic congregation
was assembled in that city by the Abbe La Poitre, a French navy-
chaplain, who had remained in America after the departure of the
French fleet, which rendered such powerful assistance in the
struggle for American independence. In 1808, four years before
the birth of him who was destined to wear the mitre, the
Catholics had obtained the old "French Church" in School Street,
which was probably a Calvinist meeting house.

Another wavelet of a precious kind was the following: "Bishop
Lanigan was meditating" (in Ireland) "the establishment of a
religious community in the city of Kilkenny, and designed Miss
Alice Lalor for one of its future members. But, in 1797, her
parents emigrated from Ireland and settled in America, and she
felt it to be her duty . . . . to accompany them. But she
promised the bishop to return in two years. On arriving at
Philadelphia, she became acquainted with the Reverend Leonard
Neale. . . . Feeling convinced that it was not the design of
Providence that she should abandon America for Ireland, Father
Neale released her from her promise to return to Kilkenny, in
order that she might become his cooperator in the foundation of
a religious order in the United States (the Visitation Nuns)."--

Already was the young church robbing the old of some of its best
members, who were to give some weight to the Irish element in
this country.

"George A. Carrell was born at Philadelphia. . . . He was the
seventh child of his Irish parents, and the house they occupied,
and in which he was born, was the old mansion of William Penn,
at the corner of Market Street and Letitia Court."-- (Ibid.)

Two short observations naturally present themselves here.
Philadelphia is the city oftenest mentioned whenever foreigners
are spoken of as landing in North America at that time. It was
then the great harbor of the country, New York not having
attained the preeminence she now enjoys. Hence, the Church
counted seven thousand children in Pennsylvania; but very few
north of that city. Thither came the German Catholics, also, in
great numbers to spread themselves chiefly West and South. Such
was the direction then taken by the Catholic wave.

Our second remark only concerns the house in which he who became
Bishop Carrell was born. It seemed only fitting that an Irish
Catholic family should thus early take possession of the very
dwelling-place of the founder of the colony, as the Catholic
Church was destined, through the Irish element chiefly, to
supplant and outlive the little church of the "Friends."

All the facts, however, just quoted are exceptional, and regard
only the select few. What became of the mass, meanwhile? As
usual, history for the most part is silent with regard to it. A
very few words constitute the only record which can afford us a
glimpse of the real situation of the vast majority of those poor,
friendless, obscure immigrants, on whom, nevertheless, the
great hopes of the future were built.

We have, happily, some means left us of forming an opinion; and
it will be seen that their situation was much the same as that
of their earlier compatriots. For instance, in the "Lives of
American Bishops" we read the following startling story:

"The Abbe Cheverus very frequently made long journeys to convey
the consolations of religion or perform acts of charity. About
this time (1803) he received a letter from two young Irish
Catholics confined in Northampton prison, who had been condemned
to death without just cause, as was almost universally believed,
imploring him to come to them and prepare them for their sad and
cruel fate. He hastened to their spiritual relief, and inspired
them with the most heroic sentiments and dispositions, which
they persevered in to the last fatal moment of their execution.
According to custom, the prisoners were carried to the nearest
church, to hear a sermon preached immediately before their
execution; several Protestant ministers presented themselves to
preach the sermon; but the Abbe Cheverus claimed the right to
perform that duty, as the choice of the prisoners themselves,
and, after much difficulty, he was allowed to ascend the pulpit.
His sermon struck all present with astonishment, awe, and

Here, in 1803, we have almost a repetition of the death of the
poor woman Glover; and, had it not been for the high character
of the admirable man who hastened to their assistance, those two
young Irish Catholics would have had for their only religious
preparation before death a sermon from one or more Protestant
ministers; and, as the great and good Cheverus could not be
everywhere in New England, there is little doubt but that such
was the fate of more than one of the newly-arrived immigrants.

In 1800 and the following years a comparatively large number of
Irishmen landed at New York, and the future terrible scourge of
their race, ship-fever, soon broke out among them. Dr. Bailey,
the father of Mrs.Seton, was Health Physician to the port of New
York at the time, and he allowed his daughter to visit and do
good among them. She was deeply impressed by the religious
demeanor of the Irish just landed. The Rev. Dr. White relates in
her "Life:" "'The first thing,' she said, 'the poor people did
when they got their tents was to assemble on the grass, and all,
kneeling, adore our Master for his mercy; and every morning sun
finds them repeating their praises.' In a letter to her sister-
in-law she describes their sufferings under the 'plague' in the
following golden words:

"'Rebecca, I cannot sleep; the dying and the dead possess my
mind--babies expiring at the empty breast of their mother. And
this is not fancy, but the scene that surrounds me. Father says
that such was never known before; that there are actually twelve
children that must die from mere want of sustenance, unable to
take more than the breast, and from the wretchedness of their
parents deprived of it, as they have laid ill for many days in
the ship, without food, air, or changing. Merciful Father! Oh,
how readily would I give them each a turn of my child's treasure,
if in my choice! But, Rebecca, they have a provider in heaven,
who will soothe the pangs of the suffering innocent.'"

When she wrote the above, Mrs. Seton was not yet professedly a
Catholic; but how truly animated with the spirit of the Church
of Christ! Happy would the poor immigrants have been had they
only met with Protestants of her stamp on landing, and of her
father's, who, although he prevented her becoming foster-mother
to those poor children, as her first duty regarded her own child,
died himself, a victim to his charity toward their parents,
contracting, in the fulfilment of his office, the fever they had
brought with them, which he was striving to allay!

The following fact, which will conclude this portion of our
inquiry, happened a little later, but, on that very account,
will serve as a connecting link with the considerations which
are to follow, and will open our eyes to the real position of
that already swelling mass of immigrants.

"During the year 1823, Bishop Connolly (of New York) made the
visitation of his entire diocese. . . . He extended his journey
along the route of the Erie Canal, which was commenced in 1819,
where large numbers of Irish laborers had been attracted, and
among whom the bishop labored with indefatigable zeal." At that
time the clergy of the whole diocese consisted of eight priests
with their bishop.

At last we find the "Irish people" at work. The spectacle is
full of sadness; and the only emotion which can fill the heart
is one of deep pity. In that vast wilderness of the West, for
such it then was, along public works extending hundreds of miles,
large gangs of men--such is the expression we are compelled to
use--are hard at work along that dreary Mohawk River; blasting
rocks, digging in the hard clay, uprooting trees, clearing the
ground of briars, tangled bushes, and the vast quantity of
debris of animal and vegetable matter accumulated during
centuries. This was the work which "attracted" large numbers of
Irish laborers. They had left their country, crossed the ocean
under circumstances that should come under our notice, and
landed on these (at that time) inhospitable shores, to find work;
and they found the occupation just mentioned. We can picture
the "shanties" in which they lived, the harpies who thrived on
them, the innumerable extortions to which they were subjected.
Bearing in mind that, in the immense State of New York and in
one-half of New Jersey, there were just eight priests with their
bishop, we may form some idea of the way in which they lived and

How they must have blessed this bishop, who had left Rome, his
second country, and the noble associations which surrounded him
in the Eternal City, to come to the succor of his unfortunate
countrymen scattered away in a New World! And well did he
deserve that blessing!

But his passage along the Erie Canal could be nothing more than
a veritable passage--a transient sojourn of a few days or weeks
at most. What became of those gangs of men after, what had
happened to them before, no one has said, no one has told us, no
one now can ascertain; we are only left to conjecture, and the
spectacle, as we said, is too sad to dwell upon.

But, hidden within this melancholy view, lies a great and
glorious fact. It was the beginning of an "apostolic mission" on
the part of a whole people, a mission which will form one of the
most moving and significant pages of the ecclesiastical history
of the nineteenth century. Every Christian knows that apostolic
work is rough work; the brunt of the battle must be borne by the
earliest in the field, that it may be said of their successors
in the words of the Gospel: "Vos in labores eorum introistis."

Such being the hard lot of the immigrants in the interior of the
country, was that of those who remained in the cities much more
enviable? On this point we are enabled to judge, at least as
regards New York. In a letter written by Bishop Dubois, and
published in vol. viii. of the "Annals of the Propagation of the
Faith," we meet with the following exhaustive description:

"At the beginning of this century, the newly-arrived immigrants
were employed as day-laborers, servants, journeymen, clerks, and
shopmen. Now, the condition of this class here is precisely the
same as its condition in England; it is entirely dependent upon
the will of the trader: not because by law are they forced
thereto, but because the rich alone, being able to advance the
capital necessary for factories, steam-engines, and workshops,
the poor are obliged to work for them upon the masters' own
conditions. These conditions, in the case of servants especially,
sometimes degenerate into tyranny; they are frequently forced
to work on Sundays, permission to hear even a low mass being
refused them; they are obliged betimes to assist at the prayers
of the sect to which their masters belong, and they have no
other alternative than either to do violence to their conscience,
or lose their place at the risk of not finding another. Add to
this the insults, the calumnies against Catholics, which they
are daily forced to hear--a kind of persecution at the hands of
their masters, who do every thing to turn them away from their
religion; consider the dangers to which are exposed numbers of
orphans who lose their fathers almost immediately upon landing;
add to this the want of spiritual succor, a necessary
consequence of the scarcity of missionaries; and you will have a
feeble idea of the obstacles of every kind which we have to
surmount. . . . Supposing an immigrant, the father of a family,
to die, the widow and orphans have no other resources but public
charity; and if a home is found for the children, it is nearly
always among Protestants, who do every thing in their power to
undermine their faith."

This picture of immigrant-life in New York was certainly
repeated through all the other large cities. Under such a
combination of adverse circumstances it is most probable that
men and women of any other nation would have entirely lost their
faith. Such, then, was the dreary prospect for the new-comers.
Who at that time would have dared hope to witness the consoling
spectacle which followed soon after? To begin with the dawn of
that bright day, we must pass on to a new period of immigration,
commencing in 1815 or shortly after, and continuing down to the
"exodus" of 1846.

It may be well, before entering upon it, to look at the causes
which drove so many to leave the shores of Ireland. From the
year 1815 the number of immigrants increased considerably and
kept on a steady increase until it swelled to the startling
proportions of 1850 and the following years.

It is easy to demonstrate that the causes were twofold: 1. The
wretched state of the vast majority of the Irish at the best of
times. 2. The periodical famines which have regularly visited
the island since the beginning of last century. At any time it
was in the power of the English to remedy both causes by
effecting certain changes in the existing laws. The first of
these is evidently the necessary result of the penal laws which
had converted the Irish, designedly and with the wilful intent
of the legislators, into a nation of paupers. The second can
only be the result of the laws affecting the tenure of land and
the trade and manufactures of the country.

To attribute the pauperism which now seems a part and parcel of
the Irish nation while in their own country to the indolence and
want of foresight on the part of the natives themselves, as it
is a fashion with English writers to do, is wilfully to close
the eyes to two very important things: their past history in
their own land, and their present history outside of it.

As to their past history in their own land, it is an established
fact that pauperism was unknown in the island, until Protestant
legislators introduced it by their confiscations and laws with
the manifest intent of destroying, rooting out, or driving away
the race. What has been previously stated on this point cannot
be gainsaid; and it suffices for the vindication of a falsely-
accused people. There might be some hope for a speedier and
happier solution of the vexed "Irish difficulty" did the
grandsons of those who wrought the evil only honestly
acknowledge the faults of their ancestors--the least that might
be expected of them; and it would not be too much to imagine
them honest enough to repair those faults in these days of
severe reckoning and self-scrutiny.

As to the present history of the race outside their own land,
now that it has been scattered, by these grievous calamities,
all over the world, whatever characteristics its children may
present, indolence and want of foresight can scarcely be
numbered among them, in view of the success which attends their
march everywhere. And if these qualities would seem to be rooted
in the native soil, they are only "importations" like the men
who fastened them there, and due only to the cramped position in
which their legislators so carefully confined them. Where should
there be energy, when every motive that could urge it has been
taken away? How is it possible to improve their condition, when
every improvement only imposes an additional burden upon them in
the shape of rack-rent or eviction?

In his work on "The Social Condition of the People," Mr. Kay
quotes from the Edinburgh Review of January, 1850, the evidence
on this point given by English, German, and Polish witnesses
before the Committee of Emigration, and the proofs gathered from
every source as to the rapid improvement of the Irish emigrant,
wherever he goes, are certainly convincing.

As for the foolish (for it is nothing else, unless it be wicked)
assertion that those frightful famines referred to are to be
attributed to the sufferers themselves, it is only necessary to
say in refutation that in the very years when thousands were
being swept away daily by their ravages in Ireland--1846 and
1847-- the harbors of the island were filled with English
vessels, loaded with cargoes of provisions of every kind to be
transported to England in order to pay the rents due to absentee
landlords: and all these provisions were the product of the
famine-stricken land, won by the toil of the famine-stricken
nation. This has invariably been the case when famine has swept
over the island: the island's riches were in her harbors, stored
in the holds of foreign vessels, to be carried away and
converted into money that these noble Anglo-Irish landlords
might be enabled to "sustain" life

Others have ascribed these periodical visitations to a surplus
population; but, without entering into a discussion on the
subject, Sir Robert Kane, in his "Industrial Resources of
Ireland," shows that, taking the island in her present state and
under the existing system of cultivation, she could support with
ease eighteen million inhabitants; that, if the best methods of
farming were generally adopted, the soil, by double and even
triple crops, could feed without difficulty, not only twenty-
five million, the figure stated by Mr. Gustave de Beaumont, a
French publicist of eminence, but as many as from thirty to
thirty-five million inhabitants.

But, as the same judicious writer observes, "the enormous
quantity of cattle annually shipped off from Ireland to England
would, in that case, be consumed in the country which produces

It is clear, therefore, that the pretended surplus population of
Ireland is, as Sir Robert Kane says, a piece of pure imagination,
perfectly ideal, and that it is its unequal and not its
aggregate amount which is to be deplored.

But no one has presented the question more clearly and solved it
more precisely than Mr. Gustave de Beaumont in his admirable
work on Ireland, from which we note one or two telling passages,
as given in Father Perraud's "Ireland under English Rule."

"The celebrated French publicist, who was the first to present
to us (in France) a complete picture of the condition of Ireland,
examining in 1829 how emigration might or might not do away
with all the misery he had witnessed, proposed to himself the
following questions:

"I. To what extent ought emigration to be carried, in order to
bring about a material change in the general state of Ireland?
namely, by taking away the pretended surplus population.

"II. Would it be possible to carry it out to the proposed extent?

"III. Supposing it practicable, would it be a radical and final
solution of existing difficulties?

"The advocates of emigration replied to the first question by
estimating at a minimum of two million the number of individuals
who would have to leave Ireland, at one time, in order to
produce there that kind of vacuum which would improve the
conditions of labor and the existence of the rest of the
agricultural population.

"Upon these data the solution of the second question was easy.
It was by no means difficult to prove that the system was
impracticable on so large a scale; impracticable on account of
the insufficiency of the means of transport at disposal;
impracticable on account of the enormous sums required to carry
it out.

"In fact, supposing an emigrant-ship to carry a thousand
passengers--a very high figure--two thousand vessels would be
required to attain the end in view, namely, the sudden and
universal emigration of the whole so-called surplus population.
That is to say, the whole merchant navy of Great Britain would
have to be drawn off from the commerce of the world, and
chartered for the execution of this very chimerical plan. Where
was the sum required for the most necessary expenses and urgent
wants of two million passengers to be got? And what country in
the world would have submitted to a monster invasion like those
of barbarous times? Unless, indeed, these two million
individuals were beforehand coldly devoted to death by hunger,
was there a single country in which it could be hoped they would
immediately find work or the means of subsistence?"

All those impossibilities, genuine indeed and at the time, 1829,
of unforeseen solution, became, under Providence, possible by
extending the period of transportation from one year to twenty;
so that, instead of two, in reality three million and a half
were thus transported.

But, where M. de Beaumont displayed all his talent for
appreciation and keen reasoning was, when he came to consider
the third and most embarrassing question of all. Was it certain
that, the system of renting and cultivating land always
remaining the same, emigration would suffice to heal those
inveterate sores, and effect, in conformity with the wishes of
its partisans, a social transformation?

On this point, he showed, in a manner admitting of no reply,
that the emigration of a third or even of half the population
would not radically put an end to the misery of the country. The
difficulty with Ireland does not consist in being unable to
produce wherewith to feed her population; it lies in the manner
in which landed property is managed, a system which no amount of
emigration can possibly modify; for, "if one of the first
principles of the landlord be that the farmer should gain by
tilling no more than is strictly necessary to support him--if,
in addition, this principle is, as a general rule, rigidly
followed out, and all economical means of living resorted to by
the farmer necessarily induce a rise in the rent--what, upon
this supposition (of the sad reality of which every one knowing
Ireland is perfectly conscious), can be the consequence of a
decrease of population?"

Always obliged to live as sparingly as possible, in order to
escape a rise in the rent, and forced to undergo daily
privations in order to meet his engagements, how is the Irish
farmer to gain by the departure of his neighbor? "Thus, after
millions of Irishmen have disappeared, the fate of the
population which remains is in no wise changed; it will forever
be equally wretched."

Then, glancing at the past, making a sad enumeration of
Ireland's losses during the last three centuries, and evoking
from these too eloquent figures the accents of a touching
eloquence, the writer asks himself how far so much bloodshed,
such armies of individuals, stricken down by death, or hurried
out of the country by transportation--so many families extinct,
and the like--had contributed to restore and save Ireland?

"Open the annals of Ireland, and see the small amount of
influence which all those violent enterprises and all those
extraordinary accidental causes of depopulation have had upon
the social state of the country. Calculate the number of souls
that perished during the religious wars; count the thousands of
Irishmen that perished under the sword of Cromwell; to all that
the victor massacred add the myriads that he transported; think
of the hundreds of thousands who sank under famine, the number
of whom exceeded in one year, 1741, forty thousand; do not
overlook the formerly considerable number who yearly died by the
hand of the executioner; in fine, to this add the twenty-five or
thirty thousand individuals who emigrate from the country every
year" (this was written before 1830); "and, having laid down
these facts, you look for the consequences: when, in the midst
of these different crises, you see Ireland always the same,
always equally wretched, always crammed with paupers, always
bearing about with her the same hideous and deep wounds, you
will then recognize that the miseries of Ireland do not arise
from the number of her inhabitants; you will conclude that it is
the nature of her social condition to generate unmitigated
indigence and infinite distress; that, supposing millions of
poor swept out of her by a stroke of magic, others would be seen
rising up in abundance out of a well-spring of misery, which in
Ireland never dries up; and that the fault does not lie in the
number of her population, but in the institutions in force in
the country."

The celebrated French writer had certainly pointed out what were
the real causes of the distress in Ireland. He had shown how
false were the pretended causes then assigned for it by
Englishmen; he touched the key-note--the land tenure; and, as a
well-wisher to Ireland, deprecating any new calamities, he was
firmly opposed to those various fancy projects of emigration en
masse, suggested by numerous British writers, many of whom, such
as the editors of the London Times, were induced to promulgate
them by their deep hatred for the old race, which led them to
represent under a modern garb the old Norman and Puritan
philanthropic desires of rooting out and sweeping off the Irish
from the land.

The projects of emigration, therefore, were most eagerly
advanced by the enemies of the Irish, their real friends being,
on the whole, opposed to the movement at the time. But, the true
causes of Irish misery being either unseen or unappreciated, or,
if known, studiously fostered, with a view of bringing about the
one aim which ran all through the English policy, of emptying
the island and destroying the race, eventually it did actually
become a dire necessity for the people to fly; and therefore,
from 1815 to 1845, the wave of emigration began to rise fast,
and go on swelling in volume and widening in extent from year to
year. Midway between the two extreme points, about 1830, it
amounted to between twenty-five and thirty thousand. M. de
Beaumont could not see how two millions could be transported at
once. Nor were they. But he did not foresee that in the twenty
years succeeding that in which he wrote more than three millions
and a half would actually be shipped from the island; and all
the difficulties that he anticipated--the number of ships
requisite, the immense amount of money needed, the countries
where such numbers might be received--were furnished by
Providence for the spread of the Irish in many lands. But these
considerations can only be briefly touched upon here; they will
form the interesting subject of the next chapter. What we have
now to consider is the commencement of the great exodus,
confined so far to Canada and the United States, but already
working wonders over the vast stretch of country which spreads
away between the St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the official records of emigration from the "United
Kingdom," from 1815 to 1860 inclusive, we find that, in general,
the greater number emigrated to Canada up to 1839; from that
epoch, but chiefly after 1845, the greater number went directly
to the United States. Let us first look for a reason for this
change of destination, and afterward for its result.

Homer, wiser than many modern philosophers, tells us that "there
are beings which have a certain name among men and another quite
different among the gods." What is true of names, is true
likewise of what they represent, motives and things in general.
Men often assign to actions motives far different from those
known to God; and, in like manner, the motives of men, visibly
impelled by the Spirit of God, are often far beyond the
comprehension of "philosophers." We are far from presuming to
dive into the divine thoughts with the certainty of bringing to
the surface what lies hidden in their mysterious depths; but
every Christian should endeavor humbly to penetrate them, and
modestly set forth what he gathers from them.

What object can be assigned for the Irish emigrating in such
large numbers to Canada for a quarter of a century, from 1815 to
1840? It cannot be because Canada is, as it then was, a British
colony: the English Emigration Commissioners had the honesty to
confess, later on, that the rush to the United States was in
consequence of their desire to avoid dwelling under the English
flag. It was not because, in Canada, a greater facility opened
up for obtaining good land; for, in Lower Canada, where they
tarried for a long time, the land was already occupied by French-
Canadians, and, in that severe climate, the soil is not over-
productive. It cannot have been the facility for transportation--
during about six months of every year, the mouth of the St.
Lawrence is closed to ships, and travel through a frozen land is
not the most desirable thing, particularly to homeless and
moneyless immigrants. Last of all, it was not the similarity of
climate and language with those of their own island. What, then,
can it have been?

In our own opinion, the human motive of the Irish can have been
no other than a religious one; in the Divine mind, the motive
was of a still higher and more merciful character. The Irish had
heard, from the few of their countrymen who had already
emigrated to the United States, of the great difficulty they
experienced in practising their religion. On the other hand,
they knew that, throughout Lower Canada, there was not a village
without its Catholic church and priest, and that Quebec and
Montreal were important and entirely Catholic cities. This great
fact blinded them to the many disadvantages they would have to
undergo in emigrating to such a country; or, rather, they saw
the disadvantages, but the thought that their religion and that
of their children would be safe in Canada was enough for them.
It is the same people ever, in the nineteenth century as in
those which preceded it, and all noble minds must respect them
for thus first looking to the supernatural.

But, had the Almighty a design in directing them to the north of
the continent, and establishing so great a number of them
permanently in that country? We are fully persuaded that the
Irish race is now, and ever has been, predestined to fulfill a
high mission on this earth. What is now transpiring under our
eyes is too clear to be denied by any Christian; and admitting
the general fact that the race must be an instrument in the
hands of God to spread his Church throughout, in English-
speaking countries particularly, to correct, by their presence
and influence in every quarter of the globe, the evil effects of
the spread of what we call Japhetism among Oriental races--let
us endeavor to see how their coming to settle in Canada served
for that great end.

The Gospel of our Lord was first preached in those dreary
regions by religious of the Gallic race. The labors of Catholic
missionaries in Canada, of the members of the Society of Jesus
particularly, are now well known and appreciated. The French
colony in Canada was from the first a Catholic colony: It was
not a conquest; it was not a commercial enterprise; it was not a
transatlantic garden for luxurious Frenchmen: it was what Mr.
Bancroft has well called it, "a mission." The desire of winning
souls to Christ had begun the work, had run all through it
almost to the end. The blood of martyrs had consecrated it; that
of Rasles, shed by heretics; of Lallemant, Brebeuf, and Jogues,
by pagans. But, after the surrender of the colony to England,
although the terms of the cession were as favorable to religion
as could be desired, and the British power could not introduce
there any of the penal laws still pressing so hard on English
and Irish Catholics, nevertheless, a great danger arose in
consequence, which is particularly visible now after more than a
century has passed away. Though Catholicity could not be
persecuted, and, for once, England faithfully observed the terms
of a capitulation which involved a religious side, as little
could heresy be excluded or denied some of the privileges which
it enjoys in the mother country. The government was to be
administered mostly by Protestant officials; the new-comers from
England would be composed, for the greater part, of Protestant
merchants and artisans. The Anglican Church would soon gain the
prestige of wealth and influence. The country in the east, it is
true, thickly settled by Catholic farmers, would long remain
Catholic; but in the large towns, Quebec and Montreal chiefly,
an influx of Protestants of every sect was to be expected; while
in the west, where the French had scarcely occupied the country,
the numerical majority would soon lean to the side of the new
arrivals from England and Scotland. The English tongue would
gradually supersede the French, and it might have been foreseen
from the beginning that, within a given time, notwithstanding
the rapid increase of French-Canadians by birth, Catholicity
would lose first its preeminence, and, perhaps, after a while,
occupy a very inferior rank.

The religion professed by the many millions connected with the
centre of unity has never shrunk from an equal contest, and is
sure of victory when left free and untrammelled; but in Canada
it should be observed that, had it not been for the coming of
the Irish, the whole of the Catholic population would have
spoken French, being surrounded and absorbed almost by
sectarians of every hue, all speaking English. The strange
spectacle would there have shown itself--a spectacle, perhaps,
never witnessed hitherto-- of a Catholic and Protestant language.
The separation of the two camps would have rested chiefly upon
this peculiar basis; and there can be no doubt that, with the
vigorous youth of the United States, developing so rapidly in
the South, and destined to carry with it the English tongue over
all the Northern continent, together with the spread of the
English and Scotch North and West, the French language was
destined to become circumscribed within narrower and narrower
limits, and its final disappearance in America would be probably
only a work of time.

If it is permitted us to study, love, and admire the designs of
Providence among men, who shall say that it is presumption to
assert that God's was the hand which directed the Irish exiles
and set them in their place, in order to prevent the sad
spectacle of a land settled by holy people, belonging almost
exclusively to God and to Christ, endeared to the true Church by
so many labors endured for the spread of truth, and memorable by
so many heroic virtues practised in those frozen wilds and
dreary forests, from falling sooner or later into the hands of
the most unrelenting enemies of the papacy?

It cannot be presumptuous to attribute it to the designs of
Providence, as otherwise it is impossible to discover any reason
whatever which might influence the Irish in selecting that
desolate spot for their place of exile. They came, therefore, in
great numbers, to set themselves under the spiritual control of
priests unable to understand either their native language or the
borrowed English they brought with them; they came, confident
that all the Catholic churches built prior to their coming would
be open to them, and that the pastors of those French
congregations would receive them, not as strangers, but as long-
lost children, at last let loose from a land of bondage, come to
share the freedom secured by the settlers.

The statistics of immigration having been accurately kept since
1815, it is easy to ascertain the number of Irish people who
landed in Canada during the precise period under investigation.
And, although a certain number, which increased with the years,
did not remain in the country where they first landed, but pushed
on immediately, or shortly after, south to the United States, still,
a large proportion settled permanently in the country.

Half a million English-speaking persons arrived in Canada
between the years 1815 and 1839. At that time there was no
distinction made between the three different classes coming
respectively from England, Scotland, and Ireland; but, when this
classification afterward came to be made, the Irish formed a
steady three-fourths of the whole. Applying this proportion to
the time under consideration, we have the large amount of three
hundred and seventy-five thousand. The number was afterward
considerably increased, although a greater number still went
directly to the United States; so that it is ascertained that
within ten years, from 1839 to 1849, four hundred and twenty-
eight thousand Irish people arrived in Canada; that is to say,
at a rate of fifty thousand a year.

The country in which they settled was certainly large, as it
comprised not only Canada proper, but also the British provinces
of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the large islands in the
vicinity. But, as the Irish, contrary to their former custom, now
prefer to dwell in large towns and assemble together rather than
find themselves, as it were, lost in a sparsely-peopled district,
the population of important cities, such as Quebec and Montreal,
and of the growing western towns of Toronto, Kingston, and others,
was very sensibly affected by their arrival. The English was no
longer to be an exclusively Protestant tongue; and, as the more
rapid increase of the Irish by birth would soon equalize numbers,
and give them eventually the preponderance, it was clear that the
country would ultimately remain Catholic, even supposing that the
French tongue should be finally forgotten.

The first extensive emigration to the large cities of Canada was
also owing to the fact that, the eastern provinces not having
come under the stipulation of the capitulation treaty, the penal
laws were still unrepealed in that district. Toward the
beginning of this century we find Father Burke, wishing to open
a school for Catholic children at Halifax, Nova Scotia,
threatened with the enforcement of the law by the then governor
of the province, if he persevered in his attempt, a threat which
was only prevented from being carried into execution by the
liberal spirit of the Protestant inhabitants. The flow of
emigration to the colonies south and east of the St. Lawrence
was, consequently, of a much later, in fact, for the most part,
of quite recent date.

In Newfoundland the case was still worse. That region had been
ceded to Great Britain by France, in 1713, at the Treaty of
Utrecht; and, although that treaty stipulated that freedom of
worship should be guaranteed, nevertheless, the country remained
closed to Catholic clergymen, the stipulation being nullified by
the treacherous clause "as far as the laws of England permitted.
"Hence, the French Catholics with their clergy were soon
obliged to leave the colony, and as late as 1765, according to
Mr. Maguire ("Irish in America"), the governor of the island was
issuing orders worthy of the reign of Queen Anne. In the words
of Dr. Murdock, Bishop of St. John's, Newfoundland, "the Irish
had not the liberty of the birds of the air to build or repair
their nests; they had behind them the forest or the rocky soil,
which they were not allowed, without license difficultly
obtained, to reclaim and till. Their only resource was the
stormy ocean, and they saw the wealth they won from the deep
spent in other lands, leaving them only a scanty subsistence."

The Irish had therefore to fall back on the cities of Lower
Canada, where, moreover, they found numerous churches and
priests. Hence, Quebec was their first place of refuge, and they
soon formed a large percentage of the population. Montreal was
their choice from the first, where they arrived in crowds,
attracted by the intense pleasure they felt at the happy chance
of living and dying in a really Catholic city, where, turn in
what direction they would, their eyes were gladdened by the
sight of magnificent churches, colleges, convents, hospitals,
with the cross, the symbol of their faith, surmounting nearly
all the public edifices of the city.

Western Canada was as yet an uninviting field for the Irish. A
large number of Scotchmen and "Orangemen" had already settled
there, when the British Government, having adopted the scheme of
emigration for Ireland, offered them favorable conditions for
transport and settlement. It was on the west chiefly that an
invasion of English Protestantism threatened, and the Catholics
of Ireland were, in the dispensation of Providence, to meet that
danger. It is no surprise, then, to find the English Government
itself made subservient to designs very different from its own,
offering in 1825 to bear the whole expense of establishing large
bodes of Irishmen on these wilds--wilds then, but full of
promise for the future. Among other colonies transported bodily,
Mr. Maguire tells of four hundred and fifteen families,
comprising two thousand individuals, all from the south of
Ireland, genuine "Irish in birth and blood," transported from
Cork harbor to Western Canada, on board British ships, under the
auspices of the government. Their story will well repay the
reading, and above all their remonstrance to the governor of the
province, after they had surmounted the first difficulties of
their new position: "We labor under a heavy grievance, which, we
confidently hope, your Excellency will redress, and then we will
be completely happy, viz., the want of clergymen to administer
to us the comforts of our holy religion, and good schoolmasters
to instruct our children."

In spite, however, of the efforts made by British statesmen to
direct the flow of Irish emigration to the northern part of the
American Continent, the number of those who voluntarily crossed
the Atlantic to settle directly in the United States was
steadily increasing. Not only did they find there perfect
freedom of religion, but the absence of clergymen was being
gradually less felt, and each new bishopric created became a
centre of religious life and vigor.

Moreover, the new republic had turned out to be the most
energetic and enterprising nation which the world had yet seen.
A whole continent lay before it to subdue, and at once the young
giant prepared to grapple with the truly gigantic difficulty.
With the arrival of every "packet-boat," Europe was astonished
to hear of the amazing vitality displayed by a nation of
yesterday, composed of a few millions of individuals, who had
already spread their frontiers as far north as the whole line of
the great lakes, as far west as the Pacific coast, and southward
to the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana fell in, and, from a state of
torpidity in which it had slumbered, the vast territory which
then went by that name waked suddenly into a prodigiously active
life. At the very beginning of the century, the Missouri had
been navigated to its source, and Lewis and Clarke, crossing the
high ridge of the Rocky Mountains, had descended the Columbia to
its mouth, and settled the boundary of the United States along
the far-spreading Pacific. The mighty Mississippi, in the midst
of that splendid domain, belonged from source to mouth to the


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