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

Part 12 out of 14

republic, and, with its tributaries, was already alive with
numerous steamboats, passing up and down, bearing their life and
all its belongings with them, and the (at that time more
numerous still) flatboats, carried down the stream, to reach, in
due time, New Orleans.

There was small thought of hindering "foreigners" from coming to
take a share in the giant enterprise. All the inhabitants were
in fact foreigners to the soil; and the new-comers, no matter
from what country they came, had just as good a right to sit at
the common board as the first-landed. It was felt and wisely
acknowledged to be the real interest of the young nation to
welcome as great a number as Europe could send.

Thus have we already seen large numbers of Irishmen laboring
along the Erie Canal. There was not a public work undertaken at
the time in which they did not bear a welcome hand. And what
race of men could be found better fitted for such work? It would
indeed be interesting to show from good statistical tables what
share Irishmen have really had in building up the prosperity of
the Union by their labor, skilled and unskilled.

At the period we have now come to, they were already crowding in
at the harbors of the Atlantic, so astonishing to the newly-
arrived European by the extraordinary activity which
characterizes them; they were numerous in the factories just
starting into life, from the desire of not depending on England
for all manufactured goods; they were multiplying in large
hotels, in private families, in the fields outside the large
cities. Above all, the buildings erected at the time, in such
great numbers, employed many of them as mechanics and laborers;
and whenever some grand undertaking, which looked to the future
welfare of the country, demanded a large draft of men, there
were they to be seen as they had never been seen before, even in
their own country, where all labor was reduced to the individual
efforts of each, just sufficient to eke out a miserable life.

At this time, about 1820, the Irish immigrants settled, for the
most part, on the Atlantic seaboard; few had yet crossed even
the ridge of the Alleghanies. In the Eastern States they found
occupation enough, and the steady growth of the country required
their willing aid. From that time the North formed their chief
point of attraction, and the States of Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
and New York, were their great resorts. Even New England was no
longer forbidden ground to them, and they began to spread
themselves over its rocky and unpromising surface, to effect
there a greater moral change than probably anywhere else in the
country. In 1827, during the first pastoral visitation of Bishop
Fenwick, when he erected, on the spot made memorable by the
apostolic labors of Father Rasles, a monument to the memory of
that saintly man, we read that "he then went in search of some
Irish Catholics living at Belfast, Maine, whom he found
suffering both for the necessaries of life and for the
sustenance of the soul. He relieved both their temporal and
spiritual wants, and imparted them his blessing, and some
wholesome advice."

He was enabled to do more for them in the following year at
Charlestown, Massachusetts. On the 15th of October, 1828,
according to the Boston Gazette, "he laid the corner-stone of a
Catholic church near Craigie's Point, designed to accommodate
the Catholics of that place and of Charlestown, who were said to
be already numerous." There is no doubt that the several
churches built about that time in Maine, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, were filled rather
by Irish immigrants than by American converts, although not a
few consoling examples of this latter method of the Church's
increase took place about this period.

But New York was taking the lead as the landing of predilection
for the desolate children of Ireland. Thus, at the installation
of Bishop Dubois, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, November 9, 1826,
he addressed himself particularly to the Irish portion of his
congregation, observing that "he entertained for them the
liveliest feelings of affection. He reminded them of the
persecutions they had undergone in defence of their religion, of
the sacrifices many of them had made on leaving their native
country, and conjured them always to manifest that attachment to
the religion of their forefathers which had hitherto so
prominently distinguished them among their brother Catholics."

The whole State was beginning to swarm with new arrivals from
the Green Isle. This detachment, however, only formed the
scarcely perceptible head of the great army which was to follow.
We shall soon return to see its masses steadily treading their
way on toward the West, and never halting till they reached the
Pacific coast; we will see for what purpose.

Meanwhile, it is fitting to look at another wing of this army
taking its position directly south of Asia, the great continent
which holds the first dwelling of man on earth, and toward which
all the tendencies of modern civilization seem to turn.

An immense island, to which geographers have now given the name
of the fifth continent, from the dawn of creation lay sleeping
between the seas known as the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A few
thousand savages, said to be the lowest type of the human family,
roamed aimlessly over its extensive wilds. Out of the ordinary
route of circumnavigating explorers, few European ships had
reached its coast, when the Dutch attempted to form
establishments on its southern and western sides, giving it the
name of New Holland. At the end of last century the English
Captain Cook formed the first successful European settlement--
Botany Bay--in what he called New South Wales, at the south-
eastern extremity of the island. The French surveyed a
considerable portion of the western coast at the beginning of
this century. But finally, as has so far generally been the case
with other colonies, the English remained in possession of the
whole, and, though their first thought was to use it merely as a
penal settlement, they soon saw the importance of removing their
convicts to Van Diemen's Island, and now no less than four or
five distinct British colonies embrace the entire coast-line of
the continent, the interior still remaining an unknown desert.

Immigration, other than the transport of criminals, began only
in 1825; and the white population of New South Wales, which in
1810 was only eight thousand three hundred, in 1821 only thirty
thousand, increased rapidly after the discovery of the gold-
fields in 1851, so that in 1861 more than seven hundred thousand
free colonists had been landed from British ships on the
continent and large islands of Van Diemen and New Zealand,
notwithstanding their enormous distance from Great Britain.

The importance of this vast colony, or, rather, of this
agglomeration of colonies, should not be estimated from their
extent and productions alone, but chiefly from their proximity
to Asia toward the north, and to America toward the east.
Already lines of steamers connect the new continent with China
on the one side and San Francisco on the other; and when we
reflect that the English tongue is the only one spoken
throughout that vast territory; that English political
institutions, with all their attendant machinery of parliaments,
elections, municipal governments, and liberties, toleration, a
free press and free discussion, are day by day becoming more
deeply rooted in the habits of the people, it is easy to
perceive how soon the peculiarities of Japhetism, starting from
that centre, will invade the whole line of Southern and Eastern
Asia and the countless island-groups of Polynesia. The Catholic
reader will at once perceive how the true religion must have
been left to struggle, hopelessly almost, in its mission of
enlightenment and mercy, surrounded as it was by so many adverse
circumstances, had not the Irish element been at hand to fall
back on.

Our information on this important branch of the subject is
unfortunately not extensive; nor is this to be wondered at,
since it is only from 1851 that Irish immigration really began
to show itself in Australia, and take an active part in the
European rush toward that quarter of the world, or, rather, to
use the phrase of Holy Writ, "to dwell in the tents of Sem."

When Great Britain sent out her first cargoes of convicts to
Australia, it never entered into the ideas of that enlightened
power that such an attendant as a minister of religion might be
wanted, and, as Mr. Marshall says in his book on "Christian
Missions:" "The first ship which bore away its freight of
despair, of bruised hearts, and woful memories, and fearful
expectations, would have left the shores of England without even
a solitary minister of religion, but for the timely remonstrance
of a private individual. The civil authorities had deemed their
work complete, when they had given the signal to raise the
anchor and unloose the sails; the rest was no concern of theirs.
"He adds something more extraordinary and more to our purpose

"Among the emigrants to the new continent, soon some of those
children of Ireland, whom Providence seems to have dispersed
through all the homes of the Saxon race, that they might one day
rekindle among them the light of faith, which their own long
misfortunes have never been able to quench, were carried as the
first fruitful seeds of the ever-blooming tree of the Church."

To these exiles it was necessary to convey the succors of
religion. The first Catholic priest who arrived in Australia on
his mission of charity, and whom the policy of self-interest, at
least, might have prompted the authorities to greet with eager
welcome, was treated with derision, and "was directed," as one
of his most energetic successors relates, "to produce his
permission," or "hold himself in readiness for departure by the
next ship." He was alone, and consequently a safe victim; and
though, as the latest historian of the colony observes, "his
ministrations would have been not less valuable in a social than
in a religious point of view," he was seized, put in prison, and
finally sent back to England, because his presence was irksome
to men who seem to have felt instinctively that his proffered
ministry was the keenest rebuke to their own cruelty and

This first Catholic priest was the Rev. Mr. Flynn, on whom the
Holy See had conferred the title of archpriest, with power to
administer confirmation. Arrived at Sydney in 1818, he did much
good there in a short time. Mr. Marshall has told us how the
colonial authorities treated him.

But a circumstance, not mentioned in this clever author's work
on "Missions," shows who and what were those Irish exiles whom
the priest had come to serve and direct in his spiritual
capacity. When suddenly carried off to prison, he left the
Blessed Sacrament in their little church at Sydney. There the
faithful frequently assembled during the two years which
followed his departure, as large a number as could muster, to
offer up their prayers to God, and look for consolation in their
affliction. The visible priest had been violently snatched away
from them; the Archpriest of souls, Christ, remained.

The Rev. W. Ullathorne, now Bishop of Birmingham, England, was
afterward made Vicar-General Apostolic of that desolate mission
by the Holy See. He informs us, in a letter published among the
"Annals of the Propagation of the Faith," how these poor Irish
people were treated by their "masters" in Australia.

"It was forbidden them to speak Irish, under pain of fifty
strokes of the whip; and the magistrates, who for the most part
belonged to the 'Protestant clergy,' sentenced also to the whip and
to close confinement those who refused to go hear their sermons,
and to assist at a service which their consciences disavowed."

In 1820 two fresh missionaries replaced Mr. Flynn. They found
the little church where their predecessor had left our Lord two
years before still in the same state; and soon the insignificant
flock, which ever multiplies under persecution, began to
increase wonderfully, so that twelve years later, out of the
whole population of the colony--one hundred thousand--there were
from twenty to thirty thousand Catholics.

Meanwhile, their emancipation in England had secured their
rights in the British colonies. There was no longer the threat
of the whip hanging over those who refused to hear Protestant
sermons; there was no longer fear of their missionary being sent
back by the first ship to England. Hence the Holy See immediately
established the hierarchy of the Church, on a regular and permanent
basis, there, Dr. Polding being the first bishop.

This may be called an era in the history of the Catholic Church.
A hierarchy, independent of the state in heretic and even
infidel countries, is a modern thought inspired by the Holy
Spirit to the rulers of the flock of Christ to meet modern
requirements. By this new system the long list of so-called
Protestant countries was at once swept away. For no country can
be called Protestant which has its regularly-established bishops
of Holy Church, with their authority permanently secured. Their
dioceses cover the land, and the land consequently belongs to
the Church, however great may be the number of heretics or
infidels, and however powerful the organizations antagonistic to
Catholicity. The "people of God" is there, to multiply with the
years, and finally absorb all heterogeneous bodies. The Church,
as we saw, is a growth; other bodies are crystallized and do not
grow; more, they become materially and necessarily disintegrated
by the action of time and the friction of surrounding bodies, of
spreading roots and living organisms.

This plain, unmistakable, eventual truth was the real cause
which brought about the violent explosion of fear and hatred
following directly the reestablishing of the Catholic hierarchy
in England. The opposing forces felt that their hour was come,
and they could not but shiver at their approaching annihilation,
small as was the body of the English Catholics at the time. But
it is not for us to enter here on these considerations, which
would call for long developments, and which belong more
fittingly to the general history of the Church than to Irish
emigration to Australia.

The few facts glanced at above afford ample grounds for
picturing the state of the first Irish exiles who set foot on
that broad island of the Antipodes. It was only a repetition of
the scenes witnessed at the same time wherever the Irish strove
to propagate the true faith. Later on it will be our pleasure to
come back to this field and wonder at the growth of a blooming
garden which has replaced the old sterility.

Of the other British colonies wherein a certain number of
Irishmen began to settle at the time of the present
investigation, no details can yet be furnished. It is easy to
suppose, however, without fear of mistake, that the spiritual
destitution and state of more or less open persecution which we
have found existing in America and Australia, prevailed also at
the Cape Colony, at Natal, in Guiana, Labuan, Ceylon, etc. A
very different spectacle is about to be unfolded before our eyes,
and we hasten on to behold its wondrous development and
splendor--a splendor, however, ushered in by scenes of extreme



The stream of Irish emigrants, starting from the one source,
separated now and continued flowing to the four quarters of the
globe, and, at length, its influence was beginning to be felt in
England itself, the last of the lands whither the Irish exiles
could think of turning. The poorest, unable to pay their passage-
money to North America, began to show themselves among the thick
populations of the great manufacturing centres of Great Britain.
More than fifty thousand departed annually to settle in other
climes and plant Catholicity in regions that, from a religious
point of view, were wildernesses.

In 1846 came an awful calamity, to impart to the movement an
impetus of which no one could have dreamed, and which went very
far to realize what M. de Beaumont had a few years before
declared to be an impossibility--the almost sudden
transportation of millions of starving Irish. This was the great
famine, still so fresh in memory, and now appearing to those who
witnessed its effects like that terrible passage of the
destroying angel in the night.

There is no better mode of accounting for this visitation than
that given by T. D. McGee, in his "Irish Settlers in America:"

"The famine (of 1846) is to be thus accounted for: The act of
Union in 1800 deprived Ireland of a native legislature. Her
aristocracy emigrated to London. Her tariff expired in 1826, and,
of course, was not renewed. Her merchants and manufacturers
withdrew their capital from trade and invested it in land. The
land! the land! was the object of universal, unlimitable
competition. In the first twenty years of the century, the
farmers, if rack-rented, had still the war prices. After the
peace, they had the monopoly of the English provision and
produce markets. But in 1846 Sir Robert Peel successfully struck
at the old laws imposing duties on foreign corn, and let in
Baltic wheat and American provisions of every kind, to compete
with and undersell the Irish rack-rented farmers.

"High rents had produced hardness of heart in the 'middleman,'
extravagance in the land-owner, and extreme poverty in the
peasant. The poor-law commission of 1839 reported that two
million three hundred thousand of the agricultural laborers of
Ireland were 'paupers;' that those immediately above the lowest
rank were ' the worst-clad, worst-fed, and worst-lodged '
peasantry in Europe. True indeed! They were lodged in styes,
clothed in rags, and fed on the poorest quality of potato.

"Partial failures of this crop had taken place for a succession
of seasons. So regularly did those failures occur, that William
Cobbett and other skilful agriculturists had foretold their
final destruction years before. Still, the crops of the summer
of 1846 looked fair and sound to the eye. The dark-green, crispy
leaves, and yellow-and-purple blossoms of the potato-fields,
were a cheerful feature in every landscape. By July, however,
the terrible fact became but too certain. From every town-land
within the four seas tidings came to the capital that the
people's food was blasted--utterly, hopelessly blasted.
Incredulity gave way to panic, panic to demands on the Imperial
Government to stop the export of grain, to establish public
granaries, and to give the peasantry such productive employment
as would enable them to purchase food enough to keep soul and
body together. By a report of the ordnance-captain, Larcom, it
appeared there were grain-crops more than sufficient to support
the whole population --a cereal harvest estimated at four
hundred millions of dollars, as prices were. But to all
remonstrances, petitions, and proposals, the imperial economists
had but one answer: 'They could not interfere with the ordinary
currents of trade.' O'Connell's proposal, Lord Georga Bentinck's,
O'Brien's, the proposals of the society called 'The Irish
Council,' all received the same answer. Fortunes were made and
lost in gambling over this sudden trade in human subsistence,
and ships laden to the gunwales sailed out of Irish ports, while
the charities of the world were coming in.

"In August, authentic cases of death by famine, with the verdict,
'starvation,' were reported. The first authentic case thrilled
the country, like an ill wind. From twos and threes they rose to
tens, and, in September, such inquests were held, and the same
sad verdict repeated, twenty times in a day. Then Ireland, the
hospitable among the nations, smitten with famine, deserted by
her imperial masters, lifted up her voice, and uttered that cry
of awful anguish which shook the ends of the earth.

"The Czar, the Sultan, and the Pope, sent their rubles and their
pauls. The Pacha of Egypt, the Shah of Persia, the Emperor of
China, the Rajahs of India, conspired to do for Ireland what her
so-styled rulers refused to do--to keep her young and old people
living in the land. America did more in this work of mercy than
all the rest of the world."

The sudden effect of this fearful trial was to increase the
total emigration from the British Isles from ninety-three
thousand in 1845 to one hundred and thirty thousand in 1846; to
three hundred thousand in 1849; to nearly four hundred thousand
in 1852. In ten years from 1846, two million eight hundred
thousand had fled in horror from the country once so dear to
them. From May, 1847, to the close of 1866, the number of
passengers discharged at New York alone amounted to three
million six hundred and fifty-nine thousand!

Those immense fleets of transports, which M. de Beaumont thought
necessary, but not to be found, were found. On such a sudden
emergency, every kind of tub afloat was thought suitable for the
purpose; and, all being sailing-vessels, the voyage was
proportionately long, the provision made for such numbers
insufficient, and the emigrants, already weakened by privations,
were fit subjects for the plague which, under the form of ship-
fever, rapidly spread among those receptacles of human misery,
so that, when the great caravan arrived in the St. Lawrence,
whither that first year all seemed to tend, the following was
the picture presented:

"On the 8th of May, 1847, the Urania, from Cork, with several
hundred immigrants on board, a large proportion of them sick and
dying of the ship-fever, was put into quarantine at Grosse Isle,
thirty miles below Quebec. This was the first of the plague-
smitten ships of Ireland which that year sailed up the St.
Lawrence. But, before the first week of June, as many as eighty-
four ships, of various tonnage, were driven in by an easterly
wind; and of that enormous number of vessels there was not one
free from the taint of malignant typhus, the offspring of famine
and of the foul ship-hold."

The effects of that awful misfortune may be found vividly
described in Mr. Maguire's book, from which the above extract is
taken, on the long line of march of that desolate army of
immigrants, leaving its thousands of victims at Grosse Isle,
near Quebec, at Pointe St. Charles, a suburb of Montreal, in
Kingston, in Toronto, Upper Canada, and, finally, at Partridge
Island, cpposite St. John's, New Brunswick.

America was thus destined to witness some of those scenes so
often enacted on the soil of Ireland, to compassionate the
people of the holy isle, to open her friendly bosom for the
reception of the unfortunate beings, who in return gave her all
they possessed--their faith.

But what M. de Beaumont so emphatically insisted upon, although
at first seemingly contradicted by the event, was nevertheless
true. England, the mighty mistress of the seas, did not possess
ships enough for the purpose of transportation; and her entire
navy added to all her merchant-vessels would scarcely have
sufficed. Ships had to be built, steamers chiefly, in order to
effect the transportation speedily, and diminish the dangers of
the passage.

Then Providence worked upon the ingenuity of worldly-wise men,
and set them planning and studying the question in all its
bearings, to devise new schemes of transportation on a scale not
dreamed of hitherto. Watt, the Stephensons, Brunel, A. Maury,
and others, rose up to perfect the various steam-machines
already known and in use; to investigate the currents of the
ocean, the different qualities of its waters, its depth and
soundings, in order to make the paths of the deep easier and
surer to navigators. The ingenuity of ship-builders effected a
revolution in naval architecture, and rendered possible the
construction of vessels of from ten thousand to twenty-five
thousand tons burden. Merchant companies and capitalists arose
to embrace the whole world in their mighty speculations,
studying the capabilities of all countries for trade, the most
desolate as well as the most inviting, the meanest as keenly as
the mightiest, linking the whole world in one vast commercial
circle, that the European race might be borne on to the
mercantile conquest of the universe; and all this came about,
doubtless, to effect its deeper and more permanent moral
conquest by the despised, doom-trodden, starving, dying Irishman,
who laid claim to one arm, one possession only--his faith and
the blessing of the Church.

Was not the Irish exodus intimately connected with all those
events? Was it not one of the mightiest causes of all those
gigantic enterprises?

But where were the funds to be found for such immense
undertakings? The treasury of nations is continually drained of
vast sums at home, and dare not draw away a part of its metallic
basis sufficient for such a purpose. Moreover, it is limited,
and needs the precious metals as a solid foundation whereon to
rest, or the fabric built upon it will be the fabric of a dream,
as was that of Law in France at the beginning of the eighteenth
century. The gold and silver mines of Mexico and Peru seem
exhausted; the new ones of the Ural Mountains in Northern Asia,
of the Atlantic coast of North America, were not adequate to
meet the demands of such mighty operations.

Suddenly, in the year 1846, a Swiss captain, transformed into a
California settler, while endeavoring to turn a water-fall in
his new home to some account, discovers gold-dust in the sand.
As if by magic, the coast of California, hitherto neglected,
difficult of access at the time, and consequently ignored by
mankind, notwithstanding its wealth in mineral and vegetable
productions, becomes at once the cynosure of all eyes, the hope
of all hearts, the most renowned of all countries. Thither they
flock in crowds prom all parts of Europe and America, and a
steady flow of seventy million dollars annually is secured as a
basis for the new designs of capitalists and merchants.

Other gold-fields are soon discovered all along the American
coast, on the Pacific, from Lower California to Alaska, inviting
men to go thither and settle, just opposite to the Asiatic
Continent, separated from it only by the broad but easily-
navigated Pacific Ocean.

Soon also, far away south in the antipodes, opposite to another
portion of Asia, rich gold-fields are opened up in the newly-
discovered Continent of Australia, attracting immigration toward
another spot, whence the Asiatic nations may also be reached
with greater facility and dispatch.

Whoever believes that Providence has something to do with the
affairs of men; whoever is wise enough to see that this universe
is not the result of chance, and that its destinies are ruled by
a superior power, must admit that when events as unexpected as
they are unprepared by man come to pass--events which are so
connected together as to reveal the workings of a single mind
and a great object at once, foreshadowed if not positively
foretold, God is the designer, and a stronger hand is at work
than the combined power of men and devils could successfully
oppose. This is a truth which was not unknown to Homer,
centuries ago, when he described Jove holding our globe
suspended in space at the end of a chain, and defying all the
inferior gods to move the world in a direction contrary to that
given by his mighty arm.

The image, striking and poetical as it is, for a Christian is
too material. We speak more correctly when we say that Mind --
the Divine Mind--is the great invincible and invisible Force of
which all material forces are but the created agents, and by
which all inferior minds must stand or fall, conquer or fail. A
man must be blind with that incurable blindness--of will--who
cannot see it acting in and on the universe, and even
controlling the lower designs of puny intellects. The reverent
eye which sees the vastness of the plan, the multitude of its
agents, aiding and seconding it consciously and unconsciously,
recognizes it, and the supreme object of its workings, Love,
infinite Love.

And we distinguish with grateful surprise all those
circumstances visibly appearing in the great fact which has just
been so imperfectly sketched, and which will come home to us
still more forcibly when the workings of its lesser details come
to be examined. Here, for instance, at the moment of writing
these lines (March, 1872) we learn from the morning newspapers
of the recent arrival of the Japanese embassy at San Francisco;
that its members had been dispatched to this country to study
European, or, as we call them, Japhetic institutions, for the
purpose of copying and adapting them to their own wants. The
embassy, detained at Salt Lake City by the snow-blockade on the
Pacific Railroad, refused to go back, temporarily, to California,
and made up their mind to wait in Utah, until it is possible
for them to proceed.

Pacific Railroad, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Japanese
embassy, adoption of European manners by the Mikado and daimios--
who can fail to gather from these words and details the
conception of means to an end, and that end the one we now begin
to study?

The first circumstance coming under our review and indicative of
a loving design on the part of Providence, a circumstance not
marked sufficiently at the time, is the preservation by the
English themselves of the poor remnants of the Irish race, which
the first working of the plan had so frightfully decimated and
left in danger of being utterly wiped out. Had they disappeared,
would Japhetism have become a blessing to the Asiatic nations?
The Catholic, looking abroad and casting his mind's eye over the
vast European field, to all seeming so rich in every production,
yet in reality so sterile morally, peering with awe and horror
into the Japhetic caldron--for such it is--seething and bubbling
to the brim, full of the most deadly poisons and noxious
substances, ready at any moment to overflow in infected waves
and sweep over the unfortunate countries which look to it so
anxiously for blessings, a torrent of black destruction,
spreading around naught but desolation and barrenness--the
Catholic eye, seeing all this, can find but one answer to our
query. The Asiatic races cannot hope to be benefited by the
introduction of European manners among them, unless the same
great movement carries in its train the holy Catholic Church:
and as that introduction must be brought about by English-
speaking leaders, the only English-speaking Catholics of
numerical significance must be the instruments of the adorable
designs of Providence.

That this assertion may not appear too sweeping, it is only
enough to instance the example of India, which England has held
long enough to convert, at least in part, had she so desired and
been moved by the Spirit of God, yet to-day India stands in a
worse relation toward Protestantism than when Protestantism in
the name of Christianity, but in the person of a British trader,
settled down in its midst. What good has Hindostan derived?

But, at this very moment, the whole Irish race is at the mercy
of the English Government and people. Only let the same kind of
vessels continue to be dispatched filled with Irish emigrants,
and the whole race must disappear within a short period, or
become so reduced in numbers that its operations as a race, on a
large scale, will be unproductive of sufficient results.

And it is well to mark that at the time of this outpouring of
the race, as long before, and almost constantly since, there
were Englishmen rejoicing at the glorious result which death by
plague and famine was about to produce. It were easy to quote
many a barbarous passage from the London Times, expressive of
the most satanic joy, not only at the departure of the Irish
from the "United Kingdom," but at the prospect of their ultimate,
or rather proximate disappearance out of the world altogether.

Yet it was the same English Government and people which, feeling,
let us hope, some compassion at the sight of this new woe of
the "Niobe of nations," determined to try and save her children,
as, if they must cast them out, at least it should he alive and
full of health on a foreign shore.

Laws, therefore, were passed, regulating the quantity and
quality of provisions, particularly of drinkable water, the
number of the crew and working-men, the ventilation of the
vessel, the number of passengers to be received, etc.

Still, these first attempts at humanity seem to have been rather
faint-hearted, as the following passage from Mr. Maguire's
"Irish in America," showing how they were carried out, and how
inadequate was the remedy applied in 1848, will explain:

"The ships, of which such glowing accounts were read on Sunday
by the Irish peasant near the chapel-gate, were but too often
old and unseaworthy, insufficient in accommodation, not having
even an adequate supply of water for a long voyage, and, to
render matters worse, they, as a rule, were shamefully
underhanded. True, the provisions and the crew must have passed
muster in Liverpool; . . . but there were tenders and lighters
to follow the vessel out to sea; and over the sides of that
vessel several of the mustered men would pass, and casks, and
boxes, and sacks would be expeditiously hoisted, to the
amazement of the simple people who looked on at the strange and
unaccountable operation. And, thus, the great ship, with its
living freight, would turn her prow toward the West, depending
on her male passengers, as on so many impressed seamen, to
handle her ropes or to work her pumps in case of accident. What
with bad or scanty provisions, scarcity of water, severe
hardship, and long confinement in a foul den, ship-fever reaped
yet a glorious harvest between-decks, as frequent splashes of
shot-weighted corpses into the deep but too terribly testified.
Whatever the cause, the deaths on board the British ships
enormously exceeded the mortality on the ships of any other
country. According to the records of the Commissioners of
Emigration for the State of New York, the quota of sick per
thousand stood thus in 1848 British vessels, 30; American, 9 3/5;
German, 8 3/5. It was yet no unusual occurrence for the survivor of
a family of ten or twelve to land alone, bewildered and broken-
hearted, on the wharf at New York; the rest, the family, parents,
and children, had been swallowed in the sea, their bodies
marking the course of the ship to the New World."

It would seem, then, that those first English regulations, by
which British ships were to pass muster at Liverpool before
sailing, were not very efficient; the figures of mortality
quoted by Mr. Maguire are too eloquent; and it would be a
pleasure to us to be able to say with certainty that the more
stringent and better executed laws afterward enforced did not
proceed from the Commission of Emigration, which originated in
New York with some generous-hearted Irish-Americans.

Our readers will have noticed that, even in 1848, with all the
apparent desire on the part of England to save the remnants of
the Irish nation, the mortality on board British ships was more
than three times that on board American vessels, and nearly four
times greater than that on board German ships. Why this
difference? And why should it be so enormous?

It is possible that to the Legislature of New York State chiefly,
and soon after to the Congress of the United States at
Washington, which enacted stringent laws for the protection of
immigrants at sea, belong the chief honor of saving hundreds of
thousands of Irish lives, and that England, whether urged by the
effects of good example, or for very shame, soon followed in
their wake.

But, whatever the cause may have been, it is a heart-felt
pleasure to record the fact that from 1849, when an act of
Parliament, entitled the "Passengers Act," imposed on ship-
owners and captains of vessels strict conditions for the welfare
of emigrants, government control on this subject became every
year more immediate and severe.

Not only were the vessels, provisions, water, medicine chests,
etc., more carefully examined, but the passengers themselves
were compelled to undergo a careful inspection as to their
health and wardrobe.

And, a thing which had never been done before, the space
allotted to each emigrant on deck and between-decks was
determined and subjected to serious control, so that no
overcrowding of passengers should take place. The penalties,
also, on delinquents became even severe; heavy fines were
imposed, and in some cases transportation to a penal settlement
was decreed against the more offensive outrages on humanity.

If all abuses failed to be corrected by such laws, it is because
the most stringent enactments can, to a greater or less extent,
always be evaded by those desirous of evading them; but there is
every reason to believe that the legislators were honest in
their intent of remedying the glaring evils which previously
obtained, and, to a great extent, their efforts met with success,
as is evidenced by the fact that the mortality on board of
British vessels has shown yearly a remarkable diminution since
that time. According to the "Twenty-fourth General Report," the
mortality was: In 1854, 0.74 per cent., already a very
remarkable diminution on previous averages; in 1860, it was
reduced to 0.15 per cent. This was the percentage for vessels
going to North America only.

The first operation of the missionary people was to plant the
living tree of Catholicism in the United States, and so
powerfully forward its growth, that other spiritual plants of a
noxious kind, and weeds that go by the name of creeds, should
gradually be choked up; finally, let us hope, to disappear.
While speaking on this subject, and laying before the reader the
necessary details, we desire not to be held forgetful of the
efforts made in a like direction by Catholic immigrants of other
nationalities. A word has already been said of the early
influence of the French in the North and of the Spaniards in the
South, in establishing the Church in North America. The German
children of the true Church, though at first not so conspicuous,
have for a long time taken, and are now particularly taking, an
active part in the dissemination of the faith, and there can be
no doubt that, with the daily increase of German immigration,
their large numbers must in course of time make a lasting
impression on the territory where they settle. But the French,
the Spaniards, and the Germans, must forget their language
before they become widely useful in the great work before them;
and thus the Irish form the only English-speaking people on whom
the brunt of the battle must fall. Moreover, we treat only of
the Irish race.

The wonderful history of the spread of Catholicity in North
America by the Irish, in the northern part of the United States
particularly, would call for an array of details which it would
be impossible to furnish here in extenso. An imperfect sketch
must suffice.

First comes the consideration that, when the wave of immigration
touched the continent, it might have been feared that, by its
absorption into a dry and parched soil, the aggregate loss would
have reduced to a mere nothing the ultimate gain. There were no
churches for the new worshippers, no priests to administer to
them the sacraments of Christ, no Catholic school-teachers to
train their children. That is to say, these means of
preservation and of propagation were so few and so far between,
that many of the newly-arrived immigrants were forced to
establish themselves in places where they could find none of
those, to them, priceless advantages.

The spiritual dearth was not indeed so great as that previously
described. The zeal of bishops and priests, and teachers from
regular orders, had been so active in its labors, that, aided by
the liberty which the institutions of the country afforded,
results, astonishing indeed, had already rewarded their efforts.
But, after all, what were these compared with the demands so
suddenly laid upon them by such a rapid increase of numbers? It
might be said with truth of multitudes of immigrants, that the
position in which they then found themselves was very little
different from that of their predecessors at the beginning of
the century.

As late as 1834, Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, wrote:
"There are places in which there are Catholics of twenty years
of age, who have not yet had an opportunity of performing one
single public act of their religion. How many fall sick and die
without the sacraments! How many children are brought up in
ignorance and vice! How many persons marry out of the Church,
and thus weaken the bonds that held them to it!"-- (Annals of
the Propagation of Faith, Vol. viii.)

To the same annals, three years later, Dr. England, of
Charleston, sent the long letter in which he detailed the
innumerable losses sustained by the Church in America in
consequence of the want of spiritual assistance. The letter was,
in fact, a cry of anguish wrung from him by the sight he

Such was the universal feeling among those who could rightly
appreciate the fatal consequences of the rush of Catholics to
the New World without any provision prepared for their reception.
And yet all these laments and apprehensions preceded the vast
inpouring of immigrants subsequent to the year 1846. What must
have been the consequent losses then? Yet, looking now, in 1872,
at the present state of the Church in the Union, who can say
that this inpouring and rush, unprepared as the country was for
its reception, was not one of the greatest means devised by
Providence, not only for establishing the Catholic Church in
this country for all time, but likewise as a preparation for
further developments, not only on this continent, but on the
part of many a nation now sitting in "the shadow of death!"
Deplorable, indeed, were the losses, but permanent and wonderful
the gain.

The first effect of the great calamity which occurred along the
St. Lawrence and its tributaries, in 1847, was to reduce the
immigration to Canada to insignificant numbers, and,
proportionately increase that to the United States in a
quadruple ratio. Massachusetts and Connecticut, in New England,
and the great States of New York and Pennsylvania, were now the
chief places of resort for the new-comers; and from New York,
principally, they began to pour, in a long, steady stream, away
by the Erie Canal, westward to the great lakes.

All along these lines, congregations were, providentially,
already formed; and, in the passage of the stream, they were
immediately, as by magic, increased in some instances, to a
tenfold proportion. The labors of the clergy were
correspondingly multiplied, and efforts were immediately made to
obtain new recruits for its ranks. Then appeared a very strange
fact, which, at the time, was remarked upon by everybody, but
has never been satisfactorily explained. Wherever the number of
worshippers in a church induced the chief pastors to have
another constructed in the neighborhood, upon the completion of
the new edifice, the old one seemed to suffer no diminution in
attendance, and the congregation attending the new one gave no
evidence of having hitherto been uncared for. This very
remarkable fact was of such frequent occurrence that it could
not be a delusion, or an exceptional case having its origin in
some extraordinary cause; it was evidently a providential
dispensation, akin, in a spiritual sense, to the miraculous
multiplication of loaves, twice mentioned in the Gospel.

There have certainly been numerous examples of this, in the city
of New York particularly, for more than twenty years; and
probably the same thing is occurring at the time of the present

Then, another fact occurred, deplored by many, chiefly by Mr.
Maguire, in the interesting work already quoted from, yet,
evidently of a providential character also, and consequently
eminently fruitful, and, it may be said, adorable in its depth.
The Catholic immigrants, although in their own country
agriculturists for the most part, forgot the tilling of the soil
as soon as they reached their new home, and settled down in
great numbers in all the large cities, on the line they pursued
toward the West. Many special evils resulted from this, detailed
at length by those whose wonder it excited, and who strove, for
excellent motives, to thwart this providential movement. But the
immense good which immediately followed from it, and which,
within a short time, was to be greatly increased, was never
mentioned in reply to the reasons advanced by these well-meaning
complainants. The first result of it was the sudden and
necessary creation of many new episcopal sees in all large
cities, where churches were being rapidly built, or had already
been erected in astonishing numbers.

Suppose the Catholics had, following the old bent, turned
themselves chiefly to the tillage of the soil, and buried
themselves away in scattered country villages and farms, how
long would the creation of those new sees have been delayed? Who
is ignorant of the effect of a new see on the propagation of
Catholicity? Cities which otherwise would have numbered among
their population only a few hundred Catholics, scarcely
sufficient for the filling of one small edifice, saw at once one-
third, one-half, or even the larger portion of their population
clamoring for a Catholic bishop, and all the institutions a
bishopric brings in its train. It is unnecessary to furnish
examples of this; they are around us.

Yet one difficulty seems to cast some doubt on this view of the
subject, and strengthen the opposition of those who ardently
advocated the country as the true home for Irish Catholics; and,
as the point involves a universal interest, it is better to
discuss it at once in its chief bearings.

At the time when those wonderful events were being enacted, any
one opening a copy of those general State Directories, with
which New England is particularly blessed, wherein not only the
great commercial and industrial enterprises of each State are
enrolled, but also correct lists of the educational
establishments and various churches of all cities, towns, and
villages, are given --a cursory glance, even, would show him the
striking fact that, as far as the great centres of population
were concerned, Catholic churches, educational establishments,
and primary schools were found in respectable numbers; but many
a page had to be turned when the reader came to places of lesser
importance, to rural populations chiefly, before he met with any
indication of the Catholic Church entering yet upon that large
country domain. This experience was encountered by the writer at
the time, and caused him a moment of doubt.

But beyond the reflection that, in matters of this kind (of the
propagation of a doctrine or a creed), the first thing to be
looked to is the centre, and that this, once mastered, will in
course of time draw under its influence the outer circles; that
all things cannot be effected at once, and the best thing to be
done is to begin with the most important; that, moreover, those
statistics are often incorrect with respect to Catholic matters,
whether from malicious design, or inadvertence, or want of
knowledge, on subjects to which the compilers attached very
little importance, so that, if their statements be compared with
Catholic official intelligence with regard to the same places,
it will be found that many towns and villages which, according
to the State Directories would seem to have been altogether
forgotten by the Church, were actually in her possession, at
least by periodical or occasional visits; apart from all these
considerations, there is one more important remark to be made,
which includes in its bearing not only the present point of
consideration, but, it may be said, the whole life of the Church
from the beginning; so that it is really a law of her birth,
existence, and propagation.

To illustrate our meaning, let us see how the Christian religion
first forced its way in heathen lands, throughout the whole
Roman Empire, whether in its Oriental division where Greek was
spoken, or among its Western, Latin-speaking populations.

All the apostles fixed their sees in the largest or most
important cities of the ancient world; St. Peter, under the
special guidance of God, taking possession of the capital and
mistress of the whole. All the bishops ordained by the first
apostles did the same by their direction; and it is needless to
add that the like law has been followed down to our own times
whenever the Church has had to spread herself in a new country.

In accordance with this plan, the cities of the Roman world were
the first to be evangelized, and their populations were
converted with greater or less difficulty, according to the
dispositions of the inhabitants, before almost an effort had
been made for the conversion of the rural populations, except as
they happened to come in the way of the "laborers in the
vineyard." Hence the result, so well known: heathenism remained
rooted in the country for a much longer time than in the cities,
so that the heathen were generally called pagans--pagani--as if
it were enough, when desiring to convey the intimation that a
man was a worshipper of idols, to designate him as a dweller in
the country. 1 (1 Another meaning is given to the word paganus
by some writers; but the old and common interpretation is the
surest, and is confirmed by the best authorities.) And if the
word "pagans" became synonymous with heathens in all European
countries, it is a proof that the fact underlying the name was
universal wherever Christianity spread. It is known, moreover,
that the dissemination of the Gospel in those rural districts
was a work of centuries, and that, for nearly a thousand years
after Christ, pagans were to be found in villages of countries
already Christian.

The fundamental reason which governs and regulates these strange
facts is that already given, namely, that Christianity-- that is,
Catholicity--is a growth, and follows the laws of every thing
that grows. True, its first increase is from without, by the
conversion of infidels or erring men; but even in that first
stage of its existence, its growth is the faster where the
numbers are greater; hence its establishment invariably in large
cities. But when it has passed beyond this first stage, it
increases from within, like all growths, and the work is
accomplished by the increase of families agglomerated in the
same large towns.

How true is it that the Church, once firmly planted in the midst
of one of those agglomerations of men called cities, is sure in
the end to invade the whole as "the yeast that leavens the whole!
"How easy is it to see that in the course of time those cities
of the Union, among which a large proportion of Catholics is
found, will belong almost exclusively to the true Church, if for
no other reason by the births in families, even supposing that
the flow of immigration should finally cease! If any one
entertains some doubt on this point, he has only to consult the
records containing the number of children baptized in her bosom,
and compare it with the corresponding number in families still
outside her.

Hence the really astonishing fact, whose truth is recognized to-
day in all the Northern States along the Atlantic coast, that
suddenly almost in the cities of New England, for instance,
where the number of Catholics was simply insignificant, they
took an apparently unaccountable prominence, and in the course
of a few years, increasing steadily by birth as well as by
immigration, the fact became the most curious though evident of
the times, completely changing the moral and social aspect of
the country, and foretelling still greater changes to come. For,
in the face of this wonderful increase to the ranks of
Catholicity, appears another significant fact, but very
different as to direction and energy-- the gradual disappearance
of names once prominent in those parts, and the daily narrowing
area of Protestantism in the numerous sects of which it is

At the same time a great danger was averted (or at least
wonderfully lessened and modified), from the whole country, by
the settlement of those immigrants in the large centres of
population. The manufacturing enterprises, which at that time
assumed such vast developments in North America, received among
their workers, men and women, a large proportion of Catholics,
and the fear of future political and social peril to the peace
and security of society at large could never, on this continent,
reach the extreme point witnessed in Europe to-day. The great
danger of the European future nestles principally in those vast
hives of industry with which that continent abounds. Our eyes
have witnessed, our ears have been affrighted at those
stupendous plans and projects in which, not only the great
questions of capital and labor are involved, but the whole
fabric of society is threatened with downfall. Religion,
government, property, the family, the state--all those great
principles and facts on which the security of mankind depends,
enter now into the programme of artisans and laborers enlisted
in gigantic and many-ramified secret societies, while the whole
world trembles at the awful aspect of this unwelcome phantom,
that no government, however powerful, can lay.

Suppose that on this continent the numerous bands of workingmen,
so actively engaged everywhere in developing the resources of
the country, should aim at extending their solicitude beyond
their immediate and material welfare to the reformation and
reorganization of mankind on a new basis; and suppose that, with
this aim in view, they should combine with those of Europe, and
enter into an unholy compact with them, what hope or refuge
would remain in the whole world for harmony, peace, justice, and
happiness? And when the great upheaval, so generally expected in
Europe, and which sooner or later must take place, shall come to
pass, where could those men fly, who cannot but look upon those
satanic schemes with horror? Where on this earth would be found
a spot consecrated to the acknowledgment of the only social
principles which can secure the real good of mankind, by
rendering safe the stability of society?

It is our firm belief that the vast number of true children of
the Church, occupied honestly and actively in the many factories
of the North, will, when the contest commences, even before it
commences, when the question of connecting the "unions" of this
country in a band of brotherhood with those of Europe shall be
gravely mooted, make their voices loudly and unmistakably heard
on the right side.

Enough has now been said on the locality chosen by preference as
the dwelling- place of the Irish immigrants at the period under
consideration. Let us now see those armies of new-comers at work.
They have been called a missionary people; let us see how they
understand their "mission."

In this new country every thing had to be done for the
establishment of religion, education, help for the poor, the
aged, the infirm, on a lasting and sufficiently broad basis. And,
strange to remark, it was found that the previous persecutions
they had undergone fitted them admirably for their work, not
only by giving them a strong faith, the true foundation of
Christian energy, but in a manner more curious, if not more
effective. It fitted them to give money freely and abundantly,
poor as they were! One may smile incredulously at the conceit;
but it has become a most powerful and incontestable fact.

Suppose the Irish never to have been persecuted in their own
country: suppose that they had found there a benevolent
government to supply them with churches, schools, hospitals--
homes for the poor--every thing that they, as Catholics, could
desire. Suppose them to have been in a similar position with the
Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Italians, of those days, how bitterly
would they have felt the inconvenience of building all these
things up for themselves in their new homes with the labor of
their own hands, by their own individual efforts, unaided by the
government! Their ardor would have been damped, their energy
cramped, their inclination to give would have fallen far below
the necessities of the time: for money was sorely needed--no
niggard offerings, but immense sums.

But happily--happily in the result, not in the fact--not only
had the British Government never done any thing of the kind for
them in their old home; not only, on the contrary, had it been
particularly careful to rob them of all the buildings and
estates left by their ancestors for those great objects; but,
until very recently, the passing of the Emancipation Act of 1829,
it had studiously and most persistently hindered them from
doing voluntarily for themselves what it refused to do for them.
There were numerous penal statutes enacted, in the course of two
centuries, to prevent them from building churches, opening
schools, erecting asylums and hospitals of their own, nay, from
possessing consecrated graveyards for their dead. Thus did
fanatic hatred pursue them even to the grave, and, as far as it
could, beyond the gates of death. Every one had to surrender the
mortal remains of his relatives to the Protestant minister for
burial; as though what the government called its religion would
snatch from them whatever it could lay hands on--the body at
least since the soul had escaped and passed beyond its reach.

But in their new country they found every thing altered. Not
only was prohibition of this kind utterly unknown, but there
existed there the greatest amount of liberty ever enjoyed by man
for acting in concert with a religious, educational, or
charitable object in view. No law devised by the old Greek
republics, by the Roman fisc, by modern European intermeddling
was ever attempted in the country which with justice boasted of
being the "asylum of the oppressed." Thus as the liberty so long
denied to the Irish was at last opened up, as no barrier existed
to cramp and confine the natural generosity of their hearts, no
sooner did they find that they might contribute as they chose to
those great and holy objects, than they rushed at the chances
offered them with what looked like recklessness.

We hope that the reader may understand, from this, our meaning
in saying that persecution had admirably fitted them for the
mighty work that lay before them. It was the first time for
centuries that they were allowed to give for such sacred

Another thing which disposed than toward it was, the lingering
fondness for the old customs of clanship, still harbored in
their inmost soul, never entirely dead and ready to revive
whenever an opportunity presented itself. There can be no doubt
of this; the great adjuration of the clansman to his chieftain--
"Spend me, but defend me"--tended wonderfully to consecrate in
their eyes the act of giving and giving constantly, as though
their purse could never be exhausted. The chieftain has been
replaced by the bishop, the priest, the educator; the nobility
has gone, but these have come; and unconsciously perhaps, but
none the less really, does this feeling lie at the bottom of
their hearts, which are ever ready to burst out with the old
expression, though in other form: "Spend me, eat me out, but
help my soul, and save my children."

This feeling has always run in the blood of the race. St. Paul
long ago detected it in the Galatians, a branch of the Celtic
tribes, when he wrote to them: "You received me as an angel of
God, even as Christ Jesus. . . . I bear you witness that, if it
could be done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and
given them to me."--Epistle to the Galatians, iv. 15.

Few, perhaps, have reflected seriously on the large sums
required for the establishment of the Catholic Church in so vast
a country, with all her adjunct institutions; therefore the
stupendous result has scarcely struck those who have witnessed
and lived in the midst of it. The same is the case, though on a
much smaller scale, with respect to the money sent back to
Ireland by newly-arrived immigrants. People were aware that the
Irish, women as well as men, were in the habit of forwarding
drafts of one, two, or three pounds to their relatives and
friends, but in such small amounts that the whole could not
reach a very high figure. But when it came to be discovered that
many banking associations were drawing large dividends from the
operation, that new banks were continually being opened which
looked to the profit to be derived from such transmission as
their chief means of support, some curious people set to work
collecting information on the subject and instituting inquiries,
when it was found that the aggregate sum amounted to millions,
and would have become a serious item in the specie exports of
the country, if what was transmitted did not in the main come
back with those to whom it had been forwarded.

So was it, but in much larger proportions with respect to the
amounts annually spent in the purchase of real estate, the
building of churches, schools, asylums, hospitals, for the
support of clergymen, school-teachers, clerks, officials,
servants, which were called for all at once, over the surface of
an extensive territory, for the service of hundreds of thousands
of Catholics arriving yearly with the intention of settling
permanently in the country. Could the full statistics be
furnished, they would excite the surprise of all; the few
details which we would be enabled to gather from directories,
newspapers, the reports of witnesses, and other sources, could
give but a faint idea of the whole, and are consequently better

One single observation will produce a more lasting impression on
the reader's mind than long statistics, and the enumeration of
buildings and other undertakings. It is a fact, without the
least tinge of exaggeration, that in the States of Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and several other Western
States, nearly every clergyman, who had the care of a single
parish before 1840, if alive to-day, could show in his former
district from ten to twenty parishes, each with its own pastor
and church, now flourishing, and attached to each a much larger
number of useful educational and charitable establishments than
he could have boasted of in his original charge. Let one reflect
on this, and then imagine to himself the sums requisite to
purchase such an amount of real estate, for the erection of so
many edifices, and for placing on an efficient footing so many
different establishments.

It is true that, to-day, a number of these institutions are
still in debt; but, if the list of what is actually paid for be
made out, and separated from what still remains indebted, the
result would stand as a most wonderful fact.

The question will naturally present itself, "How was it possible
for newly- arrived immigrants, who often landed without a penny
in their pockets, to become all at once so easy in their
circumstances as to be enabled to contribute, so generously and
enormously, to so gigantic an enterprise?" The details in reply
to this might be given very simply and satisfactorily; but, as
it is a real work of God, who always acts simply and
satisfactorily, though in a manner worthy of the deepest
attention and gratitude, it is proper to examine the question in
all its bearings, and then even those who have seen, and can
account for it very easily, will wonder, admire, and thank, the
infinite Providence of God.

First, it is certain that nowhere else in this world could it
have been accomplished at all; and nowhere else in this world
has any thing like it been accomplished in a like manner. This
may appear strange, but it is so; let us see.

All know how, in infidel countries, every thing necessary for
the material help of Catholic missions must be supplied by the
missionaries themselves; that, in fact, they have not only their
own support to consider, but, often also, the feeding, clothing,
and education of the natives at their own expense. It is thus in
all the barbarous countries of Asia, Africa, and the new
continent and islands in the South Sea. It is thus in the old,
effete, but once civilized countries of Asia, such as Syria,
Hindostan, China, and others. In all those countries, money must
come from without, not only to begin, but to continue, the work
of evangelization, even when it has been going on for centuries.
Details on this subject are unnecessary, the truth of what has
just been said is so well known.

In Christian countries, as in Europe, the various governments
have so far contributed to the aid of the mission of
Christianity, or have been gracious enough to allow such of the
wealthy classes as were willing to take this task off their
shoulders and set it up on their own, the lower classes being
scarcely able to help toward it. What the case will be when the
halcyon days come of the separation of Church and state, and the
latter succeeds in the object at which it seems so earnestly
striving now, of making the people godless like itself, when the
rich will no longer be willing to undertake this work, God only
knows. But in those countries, as is well known, the government,
formerly, and latterly up to quite recent times, or rich
families by large contributions laid down at once, have built
churches, founded universities, colleges, and schools, erected
hospitals and asylums; founded-- such was the expression--all
the religious, charitable, or literary institutions in existence.
The "people" have scarcely effected any thing in this direction,
for the very good reason that they were unable to do so.

In the United States alone, and among Catholics alone, it is
"the people," the poor, who have taken and been able to take
this matter into their own hands.

That they--the Irish particularly--have done this, redounds to
their honor, and it will receive its reward from God; nay, has
already in a great measure received it, by filling the land with
the temples of their faith, with schools where their children
are still taught to believe in God and grow up a moral race, and
with the various Catholic asylums and institutions established
for the glory of religion, or the comfort of those who are
comfortless. That they have been able to do this is owing to the
unique, exceptional, marvellous prosperity of the country which
offered them an asylum. And let us add with reverence that the
country owes this singular prosperity, which has been the source
of so many blessings, to the designs of a loving Providence, who
looks to the welfare of the whole of mankind, and has therefore
endowed this young and gigantic nation with the necessary
qualities of energy, activity, "go-aheaditiveness," as it is
called, added to the fixed principle that every individual
throughout these vast domains shall enjoy liberty, facility of
acquiring a competency, and the right to make what use of it he
pleases, as well as generosity enough to applaud the one who
devotes his surplus earnings to useful public undertakings.

In no other country of the world has this been the case, and in
no other country is it the case at the present moment. And, as
the fact is mighty in its results, unprepared by man, unlooked
for a hundred years ago, requiring for its fulfilment a thousand
agencies far beyond the control of any man or inferior mind,
following the line of reasoning previously indicated, we ascribe,
are constrained to ascribe, it all to the great infinite Mind,
to God himself, and to him alone!

And now we turn to the workings of the Irish, and to a
consideration of a few of the details. The first crying need was
churches and orphan asylums: churches for the all-important
worship of God; orphan asylums to receive the numbers of
children left homeless by the death of immigrants soon after
their arrival, and who were immediately snatched up by the
proselytizing sects.

The style of architecture displayed in those first temples of
the great God was homely indeed and humble. Nevertheless, it
might favorably compare with similar buildings erected by
wealthy Protestant congregations. This fact alone is sufficient
to convict Protestantism of want of faith, namely, that its
adherents have never been struck by the thought that the majesty
of God, if really felt, calls for a profusion of gifts on the
part of those who have superabundant means. Not that man can by
his feeble exertions in that regard give adequate honor to the
divine Omnipotence, but that love and gratitude are naturally
profuse in their demonstrations, and whoever loves ardently is
ever ready to give all he has for the object of his love, even
to the sacrifice of himself. The reflection that God is too
great, and that it is useless, even presumptuous, to offer to
him what must seem so infinitely mean in the light of his
greatness, is but the flimsy pretext of an avaricious soul, and
can be nothing but a lie, even in the eyes of those who utter it.
From the beginning all truly religious nations have endeavored
to make their external worship correspond with their internal
feeling, and give expression, as far as man can do, to their
idea of the worth and majesty of God; and that thought is a true
measure of a religion; for, when the external is but a cold and
sordid worship, we may be sure that the internal corresponds;
and, when little or nothing is done in that way, it is clear
that the heart feels not, and the mind is empty of true
convictions and of faith.

And what has been the invariable conduct of Protestant nations
in this regard? They became possessed of splendid churches built
by their Catholic ancestors, and, after stripping them of all
their beauty, they retained them as "preaching-halls" or
"meeting- houses." The number of those who remained attached to
a frigid and unattractive service gradually diminished; the
edifices were found to be too large, and in many instances what
had been the sanctuary, where art had exhausted itself in
embellishment, partitioned off from the rest of the church, was
kept for their dwindling congregations, while the vast aisles
and roomy naves went slowly to ruin, or became deserted
solitudes. As for the idea of building new religious edifices,
the old ones were already too numerous for them, or if, as was
not unfrequent, a new sect started into spasmodic life, and its
votaries found it necessary to open a new "place of worship,"
the temple they erected to God generally took the form of a
hired hall. Let the floor be carpeted and the benches covered
with soft, slumber-inviting cushions, the room wear a general
air and aspect of comfort, the "acoustics" duly considered, so
that the voice of the preacher might reach to the door and half-
way to the galleries, and nothing more was required. The man who
asked for something more solemn, and answering better to the
cravings of a religious heart, would be laughed at as a
visionary, if his person did not distil, to the keen-scented
organs of these religious folk, a strong flavor of "popery " and
of "the man of sin."

So that in the United States at the time spoken of, although the
number of churches was extraordinary, because of the number of
sects, they were mere shells of buildings, capable of
accommodating from three to eight hundred people (very few of
the latter capacity); and, although many of the members of the
congregations who built them were rich men, adding to their
wealth daily, one seldom encountered any of the structures, then
common, showing much more than four walls, enclosing four lines
of clumsy pews.

Consequently, the Catholic Church had no reason to blush by
comparison at the poverty of her children; nay, the extreme
simplicity of the edifices raised by them was in keeping with
every thing around, and what they did in the hurry of the moment,
with the scanty means at their disposal, at least might vie
with what wealthy Protestants had done deliberately with all the
leisure and wealth at their command.

Already, even at that epoch, in the centre of Catholicity in
this country, the love of the true worshipper of God began to
display something of that feeling which is naturally alive in
the heart of the sincerely religious man; and the Cathedral of
Baltimore, long since left so far behind by other monuments of
true devotion, created throughout the country a genuine
excitement and admiration, when its doors were first opened for
the worship of God. It was clear, from the universal acclaim of
the people, non-Catholics included, that at least one class of
men in the country had a true idea of what was worthy of God in
his worship, and what was worthy of themselves in their worship
of him.

But, though, with some rare exceptions, the architecture
displayed in those edifices constructed by the children of the
true Church was poor indeed, the number of those which were
commenced and so speedily completed and devoted to their holy
use was so extraordinary, that it is doubtful if the annals of
Catholicity have ever recorded the same thing occurring on the
same scale, in the same extent of country. If the ecclesiastical
history of the United States ever comes to be written, it is to
be hoped that, in the archives of the various episcopal sees,
authentic documents have been preserved, which may furnish
future writers with comprehensive statistics on the subject,
that the posterity of the noble-hearted men and women who
undertook and carried out, with such a wonderful success, so
arduous a task, may be stimulated to religious exertion of the
same kind by the memory of what their forefathers have
accomplished. The reflection already suggested by another idea
may serve here likewise, and be usefully repeated. If, in the
course of twenty-five years, over the surface of at least ten of
the largest Northern States, every clergyman who, at the
beginning of that period, officiated in a very small church, is,
to-day, supposing him living, gladdened by the sight of ten to
twenty collaborators, with a corresponding number of newly-built
churches, it is easy to judge of the vastness of the effort made
by the greatness of the undertaking and the unexampled success
with which God has been pleased to crown it. The other States of
the Union are omitted here, not because the Catholics residing
in them were then idle, but because, their growth being less
remarkable, the external result could not be so striking.
Nevertheless, the actual increase among them would compare
favorably with that of other growing Catholic countries.

Could details, at this present time, only be gathered from all
the States, in the area referred to, the vast diffusion of
Catholicity by the influence of immigration would come home to
us with far greater force, as would the conception of the
corresponding work demanded of the immigrants for the creation
of all the objects of worship, charity, and education. Let the
reader look to what is related in the "Life of Bishop Loras,"
who was at that time charged with the founding of religion in
Iowa and Minnesota. It will at the same time bring under our
notice the march of the Irish toward the West, after having seen
them solidly established in the Atlantic States.

"He was consecrated at Mobile by Bishop Portier, assisted by
Bishop Blanc, of New Orleans, on December 10, 1837. His diocese
was a vast region unknown to him. The unfinished Church of St.
Raphael, at Dubuque, was the only Catholic church in the
Territory, and the Rev. Sam. Mazzuchelli, its pastor, was the
only Catholic priest. The Catholic population of Dubuque was
about three hundred. . . . But there must be, thought the new
bishop, some members of the flock in distant, isolated, and
unfrequented localities, who were in danger of wandering from
the faith; besides, the future waves of population would
certainly set in toward this fine expanse of meadow, prairie,
and forest. . . . With prudent foresight he purchased land . .
. . three acres at Dubuque; later, St. Joseph's Prairie, one mile
square, near the same city. . . . A valuable property was
acquired in Davenport, on the Mississippi, with the view of
applying the revenue from it to the support of the missions.

"To his regret he saw large numbers of the European immigrants
tarrying in the Atlantic cities, where want, sickness, and crime,
beset their path, and he became deeply interested in giving to
this worth population the more healthful and vigorous direction
of the West. . . . Articles were prepared and published, setting
forth the attractions of the country. . . . An immense
correspondence, with persons in this country and in Europe,
resulted from the well-known interest Bishop Loras took in these
subjects. . . . He undertook the settlement of colonies. . . .
Germans in New Vienna, in 1846 . . . Irish on the Big-Maquokety.
. . . He organized them in congregations and commenced in person
the work of building for them churches. . . . establishing
schools and academies, laboring for the temporal and eternal
welfare of the people."

Thus did the tide of Catholic population begin to flow into Iowa
and Minnesota, to be brought under the influence of the Church
as soon as it arrived.

Meanwhile associations were being formed in the East, in New
York chiefly, for the purpose of inducing Irishmen to go west as
far as Illinois, and the Territories west of the Mississippi.
Several zealous clergymen placed themselves at the head of the
movement. Their main object was to rescue the Catholic
immigrants from the dangers surrounding them in large cities,
and to make farmers of them. We have seen why these plans,
though prompted by the best intentions, failed to succeed; their
immediate effect was to give a fresh impetus to the great
movement westward, and, by relieving the Atlantic coast of a
sudden excess of population, to extend the Church along the line
marked out by Providence toward the coast of the Pacific.

At the same time, on the very shores of that vast ocean,
California was receiving directly from Europe large detachments
of the voluntary exiles who were then leaving Ireland in a
compact body in the full tide of the "Exodus." The Catholic
Church was thus early taking up a commanding position at the
extreme point whither the main "army" was tending, and soon to
arrive with the completion of the great Pacific Railroad.

The following extract, taken from the "Life of Bishop Loras,"
will be sufficient to give an idea of the rapid increase of the
Catholic population in the West, in consequence of the workings
of so many agencies employed by God's providence for his own
holy ends:

"In 1855, the Catholic population of Iowa increased one hundred
and fifty per centum in a single year. It seems almost
incredible to relate, that the churches and stations, provided
for their accommodation, increased in the same time nearly one
hundred per centum. The Catholic population reported in 1855 was
twenty thousand, and the churches and stations fifty-two; the
Catholic population in 1856 was rated at forty-nine thousand,
and the churches and stations at ninety-seven.

"Bishop Loras commenced his episcopate (in 1837) with one church,
one priest, and the only Catholic population reported, that of
Dubuque, was three hundred. In 1851, Minnesota was taken from
his diocese, yet in 1858, the year of his death, the diocese of
Dubuque alone possessed one hundred and seven priests, one
hundred and two churches and stations, and a Catholic population
of fifty-five thousand."

There can be little doubt that, if similar statistics were drawn
up for all the Western States of the Union during a
corresponding period, they would give very similar results; and
it is only by reflecting and pondering over such astonishing
facts as these, that the mind can come to grasp the idea of the
magnitude of the work assigned by Providence to the Irish race.
This, we have no hesitation in saying, will form one of the most
remarkable features of the future ecclesiastical history of the
age, and will appear the more clearly when all the consequences
of this stupendous movement shall stand out fully developed, so
as to strike the eyes of all.

It may be well to reflect a moment upon the activity displayed
by that zealous hive of busy immigrants, who, soon after landing,
when the thoughts of other men would have been exclusively and,
as men would think, naturally, occupied by the thousand
necessities arising from a new establishment on a foreign soil--
while not neglecting those necessities--found time to enter
heart and soul into projects set on foot everywhere for buying
up landed property, making contracts with builders, supervising
the work already going on, attending above all to the collection
of money, forming lists of subscribers to that end, visiting
round about for the same purpose, and attending to the
fulfilment of promises sometimes made too hastily, or with too
sanguine an expectation of being able to accomplish what in the
future was never realized to the extent expected.

But, much sooner than might have been hoped, the desire, so
congenial to the Catholic heart, of beholding more suitable
dwellings erected to the honor of God and to the reception of
his Divine presence, was fulfilled, or aroused, rather, in a
quarter least expected, and consequently more in accordance with
the (to man) mysterious ways of Providence. The sudden increase
of the Church in England, in consequence of remarkable
conversions and principally of the little-remarked flow of
emigrants thither from the sister isle, induced some pious and
wealthy English Catholics, now that they found themselves free
to follow their inclinations unmolested, to devote their means
to the construction of churches worthy of the name. The splendid
structures, now the lifeless monuments of the old faith, which
their fathers had raised, rested in the hands of the spoiler,
and they could not worship, save privately and inwardly, at the
shrine of Thomas of Canterbury, or before the tomb of Edward the
Confessor. Yet were their eyes ever afflicted with the presence
of those noble edifices, that resembled the solemn tombs of a
buried faith, yet still cast their lofty spires heavenward,
while the structure beneath them covered acres of ground with
the most profuse and elaborate architecture. They looked around
them for a builder, who might raise them such again. But there
was none to be found capable of conceiving, much less building
such vast fabrics as the old churches, which owed their
existence not to the ingenuity of a designer, but to the
inspired enthusiasm of a living faith. Nevertheless, a man, full
of energy and reverence and love for the beauty of the house of
God, came forward at the very moment he was wanted. Welby Pugin
soon became known to the world, and was still in the full vigor
of his enterprising life, when all over the American Continent
the immigrants were engaged in satisfying the first cravings of
their hearts, and covering the country with unpretending
edifices crowned, at least, by the symbol of salvation. Among
them arrived pupils of Pugin, who speedily found Irish hearts to
respond to theirs, and Irish purses ready to carry their designs
into execution.

There is no need of going into details. Puritan New England even
has seen its chief cities one by one adorned with true temples
of God, and its small towns embellished by stone edifices
devoted to Catholic worship, their form pleasing to the eye, and
their interior spacious enough, at least temporarily, for the
constantly-increasing congregations. But perhaps the most
remarkable result of all has been the sudden zeal which sprang
up among the sectarians themselves, who had hitherto expressed
such contempt for any thing of the kind, of outstripping the
Catholics in Christian architecture. They have even gone so far
as to discover that the cross, the emblem of man's salvation, is
not such a very inappropriate ornament, after all, to the summit
of a Christian temple, and that the statues of angels and of
saints are possessed of a certain beauty. So that what in their
eyes hitherto had borne the semblance of idolatry--such,
according to themselves, was their way of looking at it--
suddenly became an aesthetic feeling, if not an act of true

And, singularly enough, it was just at the time when the
erection of so many episcopal sees necessitated the building of
cathedrals, that the thought, natural to the Catholic heart, of
making the house of God a place of beauty and magnificence,
could begin to be realized by the arrival of true artists and
the increasing wealth of the Catholic body.

It is in the true Church only that the meaning of a cathedral
can be fully grasped. Those sects which acknowledge no bishops
and deride the title certainly can form no conception of it, and
even those who imagine that they have a bishop at their head,
have so little idea of what are true episcopal functions, of the
greatness of the position which a see occupies, of the
importance of the place where it is established, that in their
eyes the pretended dignitary can scarcely rank much higher,
either in position or degree, than a wealthy parish minister,
and the church wherein "his lordship" officiates is very much
the same as an ordinary parish church. If in England a show of
dignitaries is attached to each of those establishments, it is
merely a form well calculated to impress the solemn Anglo-Saxon
character; but even that very form would scarcely have existed
were it not one of those few semblances of the Catholic reality
which the wily founders of the Protestant religion found it
convenient to retain for the purpose hinted at. The Catholic
Church alone can understand what a cathedral ought to be.

This is not the occasion to enter upon an explanation of all the
meanings and uses of a cathedral, least of all to penetrate the
sublime mystical significance embodied in its conception. Here
it is enough to insist upon the least important, yet most
sensible and more easily-recognized object of the building,
which is, not simply the seat of honor of the first pastor of
the diocese, who is a successor of the apostles, but likewise
the place of adoration and sacrifice common to all the faithful
of the diocese. Strictly speaking, no special congregation is
attached to it; but it is the spiritual home of all the faithful;
its doors are open to all the congregations of that part. There
the common father resides and officiates; there his voice is
generally to be heard; there he is to be found surrounded by all
those whose duty it is to assist him in his sublime functions.
When he appears in any parish church, the clergy of that special
temple are his only attendants, unless others flock thither to
do him honor. But the cathedral is his fixed seat and permanent
abode; there the appointed dignitaries of the diocese find their
allotted places, and there alone are his officers permanently
attached to him by their functions.

Hence it is the cardinal church upon which the whole spiritual
edifice called the diocese is hinged. Therefore is it the
natural resort of the whole flock, as well as of the pastor
himself. This will explain the vastness of those edifices which
strike us with wonder in old established Catholic countries. In
accordance with their primitive intention and purpose, there
should be in them standing and kneeling room for all who have a
right to enter there; and it is purely on account of the
impossibility of exactly fulfilling this intent that the edifice
is allowed to be built smaller. We are thus enabled to
understand why the great temple which is the centre-spot of
Catholic worship can contain only fifty thousand worshippers at
a time, and why many other sacred edifices consecrated to
episcopal functions can find room for no more than twenty or
thirty thousand.

But even those structures, which strike with wonder the puny
minds of this "advanced" age, have consumed centuries in their
construction, and the number and the faith of those who raised
them were, we may say, exceptional in the life of the Church.
There were no dissenters in those days; and, as all were
possessed of a firm faith, all labored with a common will and
contributed with a common pleasure to their construction.

Times having changed for the worse, the same ardor and
generosity could not be looked for; but something at least was
required which should give some idea of the old, splendor and
vastness. So, throughout all the new dioceses projects were set
on foot for raising real cathedrals, which should quite
overshadow the buildings hitherto known by that name.

Thus, a cathedral was promised to New York City, three hundred
and thirty feet in length, and one hundred and seventy-two in
breadth across the transept; while that of Philadelphia was soon
completed, and all might gaze on the massive and majestic
edifice, by the side of which every other public building in a
city containing eight hundred thousand souls appeared dwarfish
and unsubstantial. Boston was soon to behold within its walls a
Catholic cathedral, three hundred and sixty-four feet long, and
one hundred and forty broad in the transept, though the same
diocese was already filled with large stone churches, built
solely by the resources of the immigrants.

The Archbishop of New York, when preaching the sermon at the
laying of the foundation-stone of this edifice in 1867, was able
to say in the presence of many who might have borne personal
testimony to the truth of his words: "There are those most
probably within the sound of my voice who can remember when
there was but one Catholic church in Boston, and when that
sufficed, or had to suffice, not alone for this city, but for
all New England; and how is it now? Churches and institutions
multiplied, and daily continuing to multiply on every side, in
this city, throughout this State, in all or nearly all the
cities and States of New England; so that at this day no portion
of our country is enriched with them in greater proportionate
number, none where they have grown up to a more flourishing
condition, none where finished with more artistic skill, or
presenting monuments of more architectural taste and beauty."

Had any one predicted this to the good and gifted Bishop
Cheverus, when leaving America for France, he might perhaps have
not refused altogether to believe or hope for it, but he would
certainly have pronounced it a real and undoubted miracle of God,
to happen within a century.

But the Archbishop of New York, in that same sermon, pointed out
the true cause, when he attributed it to "God's blessing," and
to "the never-ceasing tide of immigration that has been and
still continues to be setting toward the American shores."

The history of the Church certainly contains many a page where
the traces of the finger of God are clearly marked; nay, we may
say that such traces are apparent throughout, as we know that
God alone could have originated, spread out, supported,
multiplied, and perpetuated the Church through all the centuries
of her existence; but it is doubtful if in all her annals a
single page shows where the action of Providence is more clearly
visible, as it was least expected, than in the few facts just
cursorily and briefly enumerated.

Yet have we mentioned only a part of the work to which the poor
immigrants were called to contribute immediately after their
arrival, and at the vastness of which they never murmured nor
lost heart, as though a greater burden had been laid upon them
than human shoulders could endure.

The worship of God and the care of souls were the first things
to be attended to, and, with these, other necessary objects were
not to be neglected. There was the care of the poor, whom the
Church of Christ was the first public body to think of relieving;
the tending of the sick in hospitals, where their own clergy
might not only have access, but where it should be made sure
that the management be one of true Christian charity and
tenderness; the orphan children, always so numerous under
circumstances like those of the present, were to be saved from
falling into the hands of sectarians, and being educated by them,
as were formerly the Catholic wards, in hatred of their own
faith, and of the customs, habits, and modes of thought of their
ancestors. This last great and incalculable source of loss to
the Church was to be put a stop to at once, if not completely--
for that was then impossible--at least as perfectly as zeal,
generosity, and true love of souls, could effect. All these
works required money, an incalculable amount; as it was not in a
single city, not in a small particular State, but throughout the
whole Union, through as many cities as it contains, that the
undertaking was to be straightway set on foot and simultaneously
acted upon.

Nor was the question one of the erection of buildings merely,
but also of the support of an immense number of inmates, and of
their constant support without a single day's intermission. Who
can calculate the sums required for such immediate and most
pressing needs?

In a nation where Christianity has been long established, taxes
imposed upon all for the constructing, repairing, maintaining,
and carrying on so many and such large establishments are easily
collected. For all are bound by law to contribute to such
purposes, and the question generally reduces itself merely to a
continuance of the support of institutions long standing, and
which can be no longer in need of the large disbursements
necessary at the first period of their existence. But here it
was a question of providing, without any other law than that of
love, without the help of any other tax-gatherer than the
voluntary collector, for all those necessities at once,
including the vast outlays requisite for the first establishment
of those institutions, and imposing, by that very act, the
necessity and duty of supporting forever all the inmates
gathered together at the cost of so much care and expense,
within those walls consecrated to religion and charity. The
government had no share whatever in it; too happy were they at
the government interposing no obstacle to its carrying out! That
was all they asked for on its part--non-interference.

On this subject, Mr. Maguire remarks justly, without, however,
bringing the matter of expenditure into sufficient prominence:

"For the glorious Church of America many nations have done their
part. The sacred seed first planted by the hand of the
chivalrous Spaniard has been watered by the blood of the
generous Gaul; to the infant mission the Englishman brought his
steadfastness and resolution, the Scotchman, in the northeast,
his quiet firmness, . . . the Irishman his faith, the ardor of
his faith. And, as time rolled on, and wave after wave of
immigration brought with it more and more of the precious life-
blood of Europe, from no country was there a richer contribution
of piety and zeal, of devotion and self-sacrifice, than from
that advanced outpost of the Old World, whose western shores
first break the fury of the Atlantic; to whose people Providence
appears to have assigned a destiny grand and heroic--of carrying
the civilization of the Cross to remote lands and distant
nations. What Ireland has done for the American Church, every
bishop, every priest, can tell. Throughout the vast extent of
the Union there is scarcely a church, an academy, a hospital, or
a refuge, in which the piety, the learning, the zeal, the self-
sacrifice, of the Irish--of the priest or the professor, of the
Sisters of every order or denomination--are not to be traced;
there is scarcely an ecclesiastical seminary for English-
speaking students in which the great majority of those now
preparing for the service of the sanctuary do not belong, if not
by birth, at least by blood, to that historic land to which the
grateful Church of past ages accorded the proud title, Insula

To this may be added the remark that it is still further beyond
doubt that all the establishments mentioned, almost without one
exception, owe their existence, at least partially, and very
often entirely, to the generous and never-failing contributions
of the Irish.

The Rev. C. G. White, in his "Sketch of the Origin and Progress
of the Catholic Church in the United States of America," which
is appended to the translation of Darras's "History of the
Catholic Church," says still more positively:

"In recording this consoling advancement of Catholicity
throughout the United States, especially in the North and West,
justice requires us to state that it is owing in a great measure
to the faith, zeal, and generosity of the Irish people who have
immigrated to these shores, and their descendants. We are far
from wishing to detract from the merit of other nationalities;
but the vast influence which the Irish population has exerted in
extending the domain of the Church is well deserving of notice,
because it conveys a very instructive lesson. The wonderful
history of the Irish nation has always forced upon us the
conviction that, like the chosen generation of Abraham (previous
to their rejection of the Messiah, of course), they were
destined, in the designs of Providence, to a special mission for
the preservation and propagation of the true faith. This faith,
so pure, so lovely, so generous, displays itself in every region
of the globe. To its vitality and energy must we attribute, to a
very great extent, the rapid increase in the number of churches
and other institutions which have sprung up and are still
springing up in the United States, and to the same source are
the clergy mainly indebted for their support in the exercise of
their pastoral ministry. It cannot be denied, and we bear a
cheerful testimony to the fact, that hundreds of clergymen, who
are laboring for the salvation of souls, would starve, and their
efforts for the cause of religion would be in vain, but for the
generous aid they receive from the children of Erin, who know,
for the most part, how to appreciate the benefits of religion,
and who therefore joyfully contribute of their worldly means to
purchase the spiritual blessings which the Church dispenses."

To this we may add that what Mr. White so expressly states of
the generous support given by the Irish people to the clergy is
equally true when extended to the thousand inmates of orphan
asylums, reformatories, schools, convents, and of all the
charitable institutions generally which are specially fostered
by the Church for the common good of humanity. To quote only one
fact recorded in a note to Mr. Maguire's book, a Sister of Mercy
tells us what the Irish working-class has done for the order in
Cincinnati: "The convent, schools, and House of Mercy, in which
the good works of our Institute are progressing, were purchased
in 1861 at a considerable outlay. This, together with the
repairs, alterations, furnishing, etc., was defrayed by the
working-class of Irish people, who have been and are to us most
devoted, and by their generosity have enabled us up to the
present time to carry out successfully our works of mercy and

It may be stated, without fear of contradiction, that the same
thing might be asserted by the superior of almost every Catholic
establishment in the country, were an opportunity afforded them
of coming forward in like manner.

All this is well known to those who are in the least acquainted
with the history and workings of those institutions; but very
little noise is made about it, according to the rule of the
Gospel which recommends us to do good in such a manner that "the
left hand may not know what the right hand doeth." Nothing is
more Christian than such silent approval, and the eternal reward,
which must follow, is so overwhelmingly great that the applause
of the world may well be disregarded. But as constant good
offices are apt to beget indifference in those who benefit most
by them, there are not wanting some good people who seem to
labor under the impression that really the Irish deserve
scarcely any thanks; that every thing which they do comes so
naturally from them, it is only what one could expect as a
matter of course, and that, it being nothing more, after all,
than their simple duty, it becomes a very ordinary thing.

It may be superfluous to say that if all this was expected from
them, and if it be, as it really is, after all only a very
ordinary thing on _their_ part, this fact is precisely what
makes them a most extraordinary people, as expectations of this
nature which may be most natural are of that peculiar kind of
"great expectations" magnificent in prospect, but very delusive
in fact; and certainly they would not be looked for as a matter
of course in any other nation. Let any one reflect on the few
details here furnished, let him add others from his own
information, and the whole thing will appear, as it truly is,
most wonderful, and only to be explained by the great and
merciful designs of God, as Dr. White has just indicated--
designs intrusted on this occasion to faithful servants whose
generous hearts and pure souls opened up to the mission
intrusted to them, to its glorious fulfilment so far, and to a
greater unfolding still in time to come.

In order to understand, as ought to be understood, more fully
the weight of the burden they so cheerfully undertook to bear, a
few reflections on the subject of religious and charitable
institutions will not be considered out of place.

The Romans--those master-organizers, who reduced to a perfect
system every branch of government, legislation, war, and
religion--never abandoned, never intrusted to the initiative of
the people, the care of providing the means for any thing which
the state ought to supply. The public religious establishments
were all endowed, the colleges of the priests enjoyed large
revenues, and the expenses of worship were supplied from the
same source. To the fisc in general belonged the duty of
supporting the armories, the courts of law, and the large
establishments provided for the comfort and instruction of the
people, the baths, libraries, and regular amusements. The
private munificence of emperors, great patricians, and
conquerors, undertook to supply occasional shows of an
extraordinary character in the theatres, amphitheatre, and the

There was no room left for charity in the whole plan. Indeed,
the meaning of that word was unknown to them; for it cannot be
properly applied to the regular distribution of money or cereals
to the plebs; as this was one of those generosities which are
necessary, and was only practised in order to keep the lower
orders of citizens in idle content and out of mischief, as you
would a wild animal which you dare not chain: you must feed
him. The really poor, the saves, the maimed, the helpless, were
left to their hard fate, they being apparently unworthy of pity
because they excited no fear.

Yet the system was fruitful in its results. As soon as
Christianity was seated on the throne, nothing was easier than
to transfer the immense sums contributed by regular funds, or
which were the product of taxes, from one object to another; and
thus the Christian clergy and churches were supported as had
been the colleges and temples of the pagan priests, by the
revenues derived from large estates attached to the various
corporations. Thus did Constantine and his successors become the
munificent benefactors of the Church in Rome and through-out the
whole empire.

Meanwhile, the 11 collections of money" among the faithful,
which were first organized, as we read in the epistles of the
apostles, and afterward systematized still better in Rome under
the first popes, soon grew into disuse, at least to the extent
to which they once prevailed; the new charitable institutions,
such as the care of the poor, of widows and orphans, being under-
taken by the Church at large, while the expenses of the whole
were defrayed by the revenues accruing from the donations of
princes, or the bequests of wealthy Christians.

The consequence was that, throughout the whole Christian world,
all religious, literary, and charitable institutions enjoyed
large revenues, and there was no need of applying to the
generosity of the common people for contributions.

After the successful invasion of the barbarians, the same system
held good; and history records how richly endowed were the
churches built, the monasteries founded, the universities and
colleges opened, by the once ferocious Franks, Germans, or
Northmen even, tamed and subdued by the precepts and practices
of Christianity.

We know how the immense wealth, which had been devoted to such
holy purposes by the wise generosity of rulers or rich nobles,
became in course of time an eyesore and object of envy to the
worldly, and that the chief incentive to the `~ Reformers" for
doing their work of 11 reformation" thoroughly was the prospect
of the golden harvest to be reaped by the destruction of the
Catholic Church.

But the very large amounts required to satisfy the aspirations
introduced into the heart of humanity, by the religion of Christ,
may give us an adequate idea of what Christian civilization
really costs. It is foolish to imagine a sane man really
believing that those generous founders of pious institutions,
who devote by gift or bequest, such large estates and revenues
to the various

This E-text is missing paper pages 457-472.

We cannot afford to transfer any more of his experiences among
the Irish. From all his accounts, they are the same in London as
everywhere else, most firmly attached to Catholicity, and, as a
general rule, most exemplary in the performance of their
religious obligations.

It is fitting, however, to give the conclusion of a long
description of what he saw among them while visiting them in the
company of a clergyman: "The religious fervor of the people whom
I saw was intense. At one house that I entered, the woman set me
marvelling at the strength of her zeal, by showing me how she
continued to have in her sitting-room a sanctuary to pray every
night and morning, and even during the day when she felt weary
and lonesome."

II. Passing from religion to morality, let us look at this
writer again: "Only one-tenth, at the outside, of the couples
living together and carrying on the costermongering trade (among
the English) are married. . . . Of the rights of legitimate or
illegitimate children, the English costermongers understand
nothing, and account it a mere waste of money to go through the
ceremony of wedlock, when a pair can live together, and be quite
as well regarded by their fellows without it. The married women
associate with the unmarried mothers of families without scruple.
There is no honor attached to the married state and no shame to

"As regards the fidelity of these women, I was assured that in
any thing like good times they were rigidly faithful to their
paramours; but that, in the worst pinch of poverty, a departure
from this fidelity--if it provided a few meals or a fire--was
not considered at all heinous."

Further details may be read in the book quoted from, which would
scarcely come well in these pages, though quite appropriate to
the most interesting work in which they appear. From the whole,
it is only too clear that the class of people referred to is
profoundly immoral and corrupt, their very poverty only
hindering them from indulging in an excess of libertinism.

On the other hand, when Mr. Mayhew speaks of the street Irish in
London, he is most emphatic in his praise of the purity of the
women in particular, and the care of the parents in general to
preserve the virtue of their daughters, in the midst of the
frightful corruption ever under their eyes. The only remark he
passes of a disparaging character is the following:

"I may here observe"--referring to the statement that Irish
parents will not expose their daughters to the risk of what they
consider corrupt influences--"that, when a young Irish woman
_does_ break through the pale of chastity, she often becomes, as
I was assured, one of the most violent and depraved of, perhaps,
the most depraved class."

It is evident, from the mere form in which this phrase is put,
that such a thing is of very rare occurrence, and that the
violence and depravity spoken of offer all the stronger contrast


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