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

Part 13 out of 14

to the general purity of the whole class, and are merely the
result of the open and unreserved character of the race.

But the whole world knows that chastity is the rule, and perhaps
the most special virtue of the Irish, a fact which their worst
enemies have been compelled to confess. In this same work of Mr.
Mayhew's a still more surprising fact than the last--for that is
acknowledged by all--is brought into astonishing prominence; a
fact opposed to the general opinion of their friends even, and
yet supported by incontrovertible evidence. It relates to
another contrast between the English and Irish costermongers on
the score of temperance.

III. The result arrived at by his inquiries among liquor-dealers
in that part of London inhabited by about equal numbers of both
nationalities, Mr. Mayhew gives us as twenty to one in favor of
the Irish with respect to the consumption of liquor. In most
"independent," that is to say, "not impoverished" Irish families,
water is the only beverage at dinner, with punch afterward; and
estimating the number of teetotallers, among the English at
three hundred, there are six hundred among the Irish, who
constitute, it may be remembered, only one-third of the whole
costermonger class, and those Irish teetotallers, having taken
the pledge under the sanction of their priests, look upon it as
a religious observance and keep it rigidly. The number of Irish
teetotallers has been considerably increased since Mr. Mayhew
made his returns, in consequence of the energetic crusade
entered upon against drink by the zealous London clergy, under
the powerful lead of Archbishop Manning.

It is true that an innkeeper told Mr. Mayhew that "he would
rather have twenty poor Englishmen drunk in his tap-room than a
couple of poor Irishmen, who will quarrel with anybody, and
sometimes clear the room." But this remark, if it shows any
thing, shows only how and why the Irish have obtained that
reputation of being a nation of drunkards, which is slanderous
and false.

IV. Yet another, and perhaps as surprising a result as any, is
the contrast between both classes of people with respect to
economy and foresight: The English street-sellers are found
everywhere spending all their income in the satisfaction often
of brutish appetites; the Irish, on the contrary, save their
money, either for the purpose of transmitting it to their poor
relatives in Ireland, or bringing up their children properly, or-
-if they are young--to provide for their marriage-expenses and
home. Such cares as these never seem to afflict the English
costermonger. So strongly did Mr. Mayhew find these
characteristics marked among the Irish, that he is at times
inclined to accuse them of carrying them too far, even to the
display of a sordid and parsimonious spirit. According to him,
they apply to the various "unions," or to the parish, even when
they have money, or sometimes go with wretched food, dwelling,
or clothing, in order to have a small fund laid by, in case of
any emergency arising.

But the general result of his observations is clear: that the
Irish are most provident and far-seeing; a surprising statement,
doubtless, to the generality of Mr. Mayhew's readers, but one
which, after all, only accords with the testimony of many
unexceptionable witnesses of their life in other countries. And,
if in England, in London especially, they at times appear sordid
in their economy, is not this the very natural result of the
misery they had previously endured in their own impoverished
land, and therefore a proof that, at least, they have profited
by the terrible ordeals through which they were compelled to

We have spoken only of the Irish in London; the same facts are
most probably true of them in all the large cities of Great
Britain. Unfortunately, Mr. Mayhew's most interesting work has
found no imitators in other parts of the kingdom. F. Perraud's
remarks, however, in his "Ireland under English Rule," extend
almost over the whole country.

After giving his own experience, and that of many others whom he
had consulted, or whose works he had read; after having set
forth the dangers which beset the Irish in that (to them) "most
foreign country"--England--and also the success which had
attended the labors of many proselytizing agents among them, and
even in some cases the progress of immorality in their midst
resulting from the innumerable seductions to which they were
exposed, a success and a progress which Mr. Mayhew's personal
observation would lead us to think the good father has
exaggerated, he concludes as follows:

"We must not overlook the fact that the Irish emigration to
England and Scotland produces in many individual cases results
which cannot be too deeply deplored.

"But there, also, as well as in America and Australia, through
the economy of an admirable providence, God makes use of those
Irish immigrants for the propagation and extension of the
Catholic faith in the midst of English and Scotch Protestantism.
What progress has not the Catholic religion made within the last
thirty years in England? And might not the Catholics say to
their separated brethren what Tertullian said to the Caesars of
the third century: 'Our religion is but of yesterday; and behold,
we fill your towns, your councils, your camps, your tribes,
your decuriae, the palace, the senate, the forum . . . . You
have persecuted us during centuries, and behold, we spring up
afresh from the blood of martyrs!'

"At the beginning of the reign of George III., England and
Scotland scarcely contained sixty thousand Catholics who had
remained true to the faith of their fathers. Their number in
1821 was, according to the official census, five hundred
thousand. In 1842, they were estimated at from two million to
two million five hundred thousand. At present (1864) they number
nearly four million, and of this total amount the single city of
London figures for more than two hundred and fifty thousand."

In a note he adds the following figures, furnished him by Dr.
Grant, the late Bishop of Southwark:

Total No. of Catholics. No. of Irish.
Manchester . . . . . . . . . . . 80,000 . . . . . . 60,000
Liverpool . . . . . . . . . . 130,000 . . . . . . 85,000
Birmingham . . . . . . . . . . . 30,000 . . . . . . 20,000
Preston . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,000 . . . . . . 4,300
Wigan . . . . . . . . . . . 18,000 . . . . . . 6,000
Bolton . . . . . . . . . . . 12,000 . . . . . . 4,000
St. Helen's (Lancashire) . . . . 10,000 . . . . . . 6,000
Edinburgh . . . . . . . . . . . 50,000 . . . . . . 35,000
Glasgow . . . . . . . . . . 127,000 . . . . . . 90,000

"Finally, we must not forget that about one-half the army and
navy is composed of Irish Catholics.

"In 1792 England and Wales counted no more than thirty-five
chapels; in 1840 the number amounted to five hundred, among
which were vast and splendid churches, such as St. George's,
Southwark, and the Birmingham Cathedral. At present (1864) the
number is nearly one thousand.

"In connection with the movement of individual conversions,
which yearly brings within our ranks from those of Protestantism
the most upright, the sincerest, the best-disposed souls, the
Irish immigration in England is then destined to play an
important part in the so desirable return of that great island
to the faith which she received in the sixth century from St.
Gregory the Great and St. Austin of Canterbury," and, let us add,
from Aidan and his Irish monks of Lindisfarne and Iona, as
Montalembert has shown.

If we examine closely the figures just furnished by F. Perraud,
and consider that the number of Catholics in Great Britain was
only five hundred thousand in 1821, which, following his
calculation, mounted to four million in 1864, if we look closely
into the gradations of the increase marked in the various
censuses taken between those dates, we shall find that the Irish
immigration has indeed played a most important part in the
return of England toward Catholicity. We are surprised to find
that he seems to estimate the number of Irish in England at only
one million; there can be no doubt that they and their offspring
compose the majority of Catholics there, and that many of the
Englishmen who come back to the true faith are induced by their
example and influence, particularly among the lower orders, and
that the real work of the conversion of the English nation rests
in the hands of the Irish immigrants. Mr. Mayhew has informed us
of the disposition of the English costermongers on religious matters.

We have now examined the three great waves which bore the Irish
to foreign countries; the lesser streamlets, which wandered away
into other English colonies, may be dismissed, as to trace and
follow up their course would involve more time and trouble than
they really call for. We now see the Irish race disseminated in
large groups over many and vast territories; and, although the
home population has been considerably diminished by that great
exodus, and is now reduced to about five millions, nevertheless,
to count them as they are dispersed throughout the world, their
number is far higher than it has ever been before; and we now
proceed to offer some considerations tending to show the effects
of that vast emigration on the resurrection of the race, and on
the future progress of the country from which the race comes.

First, then, emigration has given Ireland and Irishmen an
importance in the eyes of the world which they and it would
never have acquired unless that emigration had taken place; so
that England, on whom in a great measure their future fate
depends, is now compelled to respect and render them justice;
and justice is all that is wanting to bring about their complete

In order to form a true idea on this point, it is necessary to
consider them in their twofold aspect, as emigrants to the
United States, residing under and citizens of a government
distinct from that of England; and, secondly, in countries which
are under the control of Great Britain, one of these being
England itself.

In the Union they become for the greater part citizens of the
country which they have made their home, and the first condition
necessary for the obtaining of this right of citizenship is the
renunciation of all allegiance to their former English rulers.
The readiness and joy even with which they perform this task
need no mention. But, as Christians, the new obligations under
which they bind themselves involve something more than the mere
oath of allegiance; the spirit no less than the letter of the
oath prescribes that they acknowledge no other country as theirs
than that which offered them a refuge, and consequently, by the
very fact of becoming American citizens, they cease to be

But their oath does not bind them to forget their former country,
as little as it forbids them to benefit it as far as lawfully
lies in their power. Far otherwise. Their new allegiance would
indeed be a poor thing if, in its very conception, it could only
bind hearts so cold as to renounce at once all affection for the
land of their birth, and banish in a day memories that the day
before were sacred. This is not required of them; and, were it,
they could never so understand their allegiance. They remain,
and justly, firmly attached to Ireland, and look anxiously for
any lawful occasion on which they may manifest their affection
by their acts.

Meanwhile, in their new country, position, influence, wealth,
consideration, often fall to their lot; their numbers swell, and
they become an important factor in the republic. Something of
the power wielded by the great nation of which they are now
citizens attaches to them, and shows them to the astonished gaze
of England under a totally new and unexpected aspect. In war,
the effect is most telling, and, even so far back as 1812, the
part played by "saucy Jack" Barry, for instance, already gave
rise to very grave considerations and forebodings on the part of
British statesmen. But, even in time of peace, the high position
held by many Irishmen in the United States, and the aggregate
voice of a powerful party, where every tongue has a vote, cannot
fail to tell advantageously on questions referring to their
former country.

Can it be imagined that this exercises no influence on the
treatment of Ireland by the ruling power? To afford a true
conception of the alteration brought about by Irish emigration,
suppose for an instant the ruling power using again its old
recklessness in abusing Ireland--not that we imagine the English
statesmen of to-day capable of such a thing and anxious to
restore what, happily, has passed away forever--but merely to
show the utter impossibility of such a contingency again arising,
suppose one of the old penal laws to be again enacted and
sanctioned by a British sovereign, what would the effect be on
the multitude of Irishmen now living in America? What,
independently of the Irish, would be the effect on all the
organs, worthy of the name, of public opinion in America? How
would the great majority of the members, not of Congress only,
but of the Legislature of each State, speak? Public opanion is
now the ruler of the world, and when public opinion declares
against a flagrant and crying injustice, its voice must be heard,
its mandate obeyed, and lawlessness cease. This extreme and, as
we believe, impossible example, is merely adduced as a proof of
the advantage which Ireland has reaped from the dispersion of
her scattered children--an advantage falling back on her own
head, in return, perhaps, for the mission they are working.

But, over and above the supposition of such an extreme case,
there is surely a silent power in the mere standing of millions
of free men who would resent, as done to themselves, a
recurrence of an attack on their old country. And there are,
beyond question, three millions of former Irishmen, citizens to-
day of the United States, on whom the glance of many an English
statesman, with any just pretension to the name, must fall.
Therefore do we say that now England must respect Ireland.

That respect is daily heightened by the greater comfort and
easier circumstances, though still far too wretched on the whole,
of the Irish at home, which have been mainly brought about by
the help received from their exiled countrymen. As was seen, the
old policy of their oppressors had for chief object the
pauperization of the country, and, as was also seen, that policy
was eminently successful. We know how deeply the effects of that
former policy are still felt, and how far from completion still
is justice in that regard; how they still complain, and with
only too much reason, of many laws which are as so many gyves
still binding them down in their old degradation; but, of this,
the following chapter will speak.

Yet, it is undeniable that their situation is considerably
improved, and that the excessive sufferings which formerly
seemed their privilege, are scarcely possible in our days. This
change in their circumstances for the better may be ascribed to
a variety of causes, one of which, we acknowledge, has been the
repairing of many previous injustices. But we must acknowledge
also that the main lever in a nation's resurrection, once the
ground is cleared round about--her treasury--has, as far as
Ireland is concerned, been chiefly replenished from abroad.
Absentee landlords still drain the country; but the money which
has gone into it has been certainly owing greatly to the immense
sums transmitted yearly from America by the exiles, all of which
has certainly not returned to the place from which it went out.
It is impossible to estimate the amount which was kept in
Ireland and that which floated back, but the balance must be
considerably on the side of what remained, as the distress at
home was so great, and in millions of instances immediate relief
came from the distant friends who had acquired a competency in
their new country, and, knowing the dire distress of their
relatives at home, sent generally what they could spare, by the
speediest means at their command.

There is no doubt that thousands of families have thus been
benefited by that first sad emigration of their friends, and
that the visible improvement in the condition of the Irish at
home is in a great measure due to it. We hear, moreover, that
the working of the new "Encumbered Estates Court " has already
placed in the hands of native Irishmen many parcels of the lands
of their fathers, and probably many of the ample estates
belonging to what was the Irish Church Establishment, which are
to be sold, will find their way back in the same manner.

The Irish are thus being slowly reinstated in possession of
their own soil, and, that once accomplished, the respect of
England is secured--respectability in England being in its
essence equivalent to real estate.

Thus is the uprising of the nation being gradually, silently,
but surely brought about by the emigration to the United States;
and this effect is considerably heightened when the emigration
to countries under English control is taken into consideration--
Canada, Australia, England itself.

In those places the same results followed which we have just
witnessed in the United States, but another and far greater
result remains for them. Not only did they slowly aid in
awakening the respect for their countrymen at home in the
English breast by their own rising importance and improved
condition, but in Canada and Australia they possess a privilege
which, in the British Isles, is theirs only in theory, but
abroad becomes a very powerful fact.

Ever since the Union of 1800, the Irish are supposed to form a
part and parcel of the empire at home, and to have fair
representation of their native country in the members they
return to the Imperial Parliament. But it is well known that the
Irish influence in that Parliament is almost null, and that
their presence there frequently is productive of no other result
than to countenance laws injurious to their own country. Does,
can Ireland hope to derive any political or social benefit from
her representatives in London beyond whatever may accrue to her
from their vain remonstrances and ineffective speeches? But in
the colonial Parliaments the case is very different.

It is not our desire to be understood as saying that Irishmen,
by meddling with politics, can effect a certain improvement in
their condition and that of their country, beyond giving tokens
of the life which is in them. We believe, on the contrary, that
too great an eagerness in such pursuits has injured them on many
occasions; and they ought to beware of flattering themselves
that they are rising because their votes are clamored for, and
they themselves exhorted to enter into the contest as fierce
partisans. This, too often, leads them into making themselves
the mere tools of shrewd men.

But, in the colonies, they muster in considerable force, and,
with prudence and sagacity, may have their desires and measures
fairly considered and conceded; for, unfortunately, the style of
measures fair and favorable to them as Irishmen and Catholics,
is completely at variance with that of those opposed to them,
whom, go where they will, they encounter, and always in the same
form. In Ireland, they are at liberty, apparently, to do the
same by reason of their superiority in point of numbers; the
result of the late Galway elections proves what a farce is this
show of liberty, and even the members whom they would and do
sometimes elect possess a very feeble influence, or none, in
what is called the Imperial Parliament. But, in the colonies, if
they, as electors, outnumber their political opponents, they can
and must return the majority to the House of Representatives and
of officers to the various departments of the colonial
administration. Such is the law of election in really
representative governments which are truly free; the majority of
electors returns the majority to the government; and rightly so.
Of course, there is room here, particularly where the majority
happens to be Irish, for a vast quantity of frothy bluster about
drilled and intimidated voters, and all that sort of thing. With
that we have no concern at present, and merely remark en passant
that it is a pity a little more of it was not wasted on the
recent Galway elections, already alluded to, on both sides; and
for the rest, that the world has not yet been apprised of Irish
majorities in the Australian Parliament abusing their power by
either accidental or systematic misrule; and it may, therefore,
be safely conceded that, on the whole, the government has rested
in safe hands. However, what concerns us at present is the state
of Canada and Australia, where, among the highest public
dignitaries, are found men who are Irish, not simply by birth,
but in feeling and in truth. And the conclusion which we wish to
draw from that fact is, that Ireland is greatly benefited by the
high positions which her sons assume in those distant colonies;
and probably no one will be rash enough to deny or controvert in
any way this point.

The truth is, that by emigration Ireland has suddenly expanded
into vast regions formerly ignorant of her name; regions which
swell the power and wealth of England, and which are destined to
play a very important part in her future history. In these
districts Irishmen have found a new country; something of the
ubiquity of the English belongs to them, and the influence,
power, and weight, thus thrown into their hands, need no further
comment. To show this in extenso would be only to travel over
ground already trodden in previous pages, enumerating the
various countries they have touched upon in their Exodus. Thus
have our seemingly long digressions had a very direct object in
view, and served powerfully to solve our original question. We
may now see that the resurrection of Ireland was intimately
involved in the emigration of her children; that much of what
has already taken place to aid in that resurrection may be
ascribed to this emigration, and that much brighter days are yet
in store for the nation, resulting mainly from this constant and
powerful cause. Let no one, then, lament the perseverance of
those hardy wanderers who, though their country has already been
depleted by millions, still leave her to the figure of seventy
thousand annually. It seems that in Ireland much surprise is
expressed at the movement never ceasing. Providence will end it
in its own good time; if God still allows it, it is surely for
the accomplishment of his own mighty and benevolent designs.

To conclude, then, this long chapter, there is only one question
to be put, which demands a few words, but words, in our opinion
at least, of vast importance, and which we would give all that
is ours to give, to see promptly and energetically attended to:
Has Ireland profited by this so-often mentioned emigration to
the extent she should have profited? And what ought Irishmen to
do in order to increase the advantages derived from it?

We must confess that, up to the present, the benefit is far from
what it ought to have been, and the cause of this lies in want
of organization and association. They have seemed to let God
work for them without any cooperation on their part; for God's,
as we saw, was the plan, and he forced them, as it were, to
carry out his design. They went at the work blindly, merely
following the impulse of circumstances, with no preparatory
organization, and less still of association. And even now, when
they are spread out over such vast territories in such mighty
multitudes, as yet they have given no sign of the least desire
of attempting even something like a combined effort to
accelerate the work of Providence. The only signs of life so far
given have been violent and spasmodic, directly opposed to the
genius of the race, which, as we have endeavored to prove, has
nothing revolutionary in its character, and is not given to dark
plots and godless conspiracies.

Unfortunately, also, they do not seem naturally adapted to a
spirit of steady and long-continued or systematic association.
In this, chiefly, does their race differ from the Scandinavian
stock, which is grafted on system, combination, and steadiness,
in pursuit of the object in hand.

But why not begin, at least, to make an effort in that
direction? The Latin races, in which runs so much Celtic blood,
are powerful to organize, as the Romans of old, and the French
and Spaniards of to-day, have so often proved. The Irish have
been infused with plenty of foreign blood, after their many
national catastrophes, although we believe that their primitive
characteristics have always overcome all foreign elements
introduced among them; and, what the race could scarcely attempt
ages ado, is possible now. Moreover, there is nothing in the
leanings of race which may not be overcome, and sure without any
radical change a nation can adapt itself to the necessities of
the time, and to altered circumstances. Let the Irish see what
they might effect toward the resurrection of their native
country, if they only seriously began at last to organize and
associate for that purpose. They would thus turn the immense
forces of their nation, now scattered over the world, to the
real advantage of their birthplace. In union is strength; but
union can only be promoted by association, particularly when the
elements to be united are so far apart.

For such an object do we believe that God gave man in these late
days the destroyers of space--the steam-engine and the electric
telegraph. Those powerful agents of unification were unknown to
mankind until God decreed that his children dispersed through
the earth should be more compactly united. To the Catholic they
were given, in the first place, to serve God's first purpose by
making the Church firmer in her unity and more effective in the
propagation of truth; but, after all, the mission of the Irish
to-day is only a branch of the mission of the Church, and, if
only on that account, are the missionaries deserving of all
honor and respect.

If in the designs of Providence the time has at last arrived for
the dwelling of the children of Japhet in the tents of Sem, and
for putting an end to the terrible evils dating from the
dispersion at Babel and the confusion of tongues, the object of
these great scientific discoveries is still more apparent. At
all events, organization and association are clearly needed for
the resurrection of Ireland, and the sooner a step is taken in
that direction the better.

But, what association would we propose? What should be its
immediate and most practicable objects? These questions we do
not feel competent to answer. Let Irishmen be once convinced
that organization is the great lever to work for the raising up
of their down-trodden nation, and they will know best how to use
this powerful instrument. The leaders of the nation in that holy
enterprise should, in our own opinion, be its spiritual leaders.
They know their country, and they love it; they undoubtedly
possess the confidence of their countrymen: they, then, should
be the natural originators of those great schemes. And what
other leaders does Ireland possess, what body like them,
acceptable to the nation, and neither to be bought by money nor

This first remark naturally presupposes another: that the object
of those associations, being approved of by the religious guides
of the people, cannot be other than holy, and consequently
require no secrecy of any kind. They must be patent to the world,
as not being antagonistic to any established law or authority.
Every man desirous of becoming a member of the association
should know beforehand what is proposed to be done, and how far
his consent is to be given.

One other important point strikes us: the centre of organization
should be in Ireland. Ireland is to be benefited by it, and
there the effort should naturally begin, where its results will
fall. As for the particular direction which those efforts should
take, the detail of the whole enterprise, the plan of the
campaign--all this lies beyond us, and a sketch of it would most
probably be a mere chimera.

One concluding word may be said, however, on a subject which has
often been present to the writer's mind: The fearful oppression
of the nation began by robbing the people of their lands and
making them paupers: one of the first aims of association, then,
should evidently be the raising of the people up by the
restoration, in great part at least, of the soil to the native

It is not our purpose to propose a new confiscation now, by way
of remedying the old ones; but England has allowed them to buy
back the land of their fathers in the "Encumbered Estates Courts,
"and by the law recently passed which disestablished the Irish
Protestant Church? Is there no room for a plan whereby Irishmen,
who have grown rich in foreign countries, may become purchasers
of the land thus offered for sale? And, in reply to the natural
and powerful objection to such a plan on the score of distance
from their native land, and the natural repugnance to return and
live there, and break up new ties, which are now old, and have
made them what they are, could not the fathers spare one son at
least, whom they might devote to the noble purpose of becoming
Irish again, and settling on an Irish estate, and marrying
there? This would seem an easy and simple manner of recreating a
Catholic gentry in the island.

This is merely a hint thrown out to exemplify what we mean by
associations for the purpose of raising Ireland up again; the
many possible objects of national organization will occur to any
mind giving a moment's reflection to it. This subject will
occupy our attention at greater length in the next chapter.



This chapter will be devoted to the island itself. For many
centuries it was happy in its seclusion and separation from the
rest of Europe: in these days it necessarily forms a part of the
whole mass of Japhetic races; its isolation is no longer
possible; and, in the opinion of many, it is destined once again
to become a spot illustrious and happy. The consideration of how
that lustre and happiness are to come upon it is the only task
still left us.

Whoever takes into consideration the advantages it already
enjoys, and compares its present situation with that of a
hundred years back, cannot fail to be struck with the remarkable
change for the better which has taken place between the two
periods. Ireland still suffers, and suffers sorely, and the
world still speaks with justice of her wrongs; but, in whatever
light they may appear to those who love their country, no one
can pretend that it still groans under the weight of tyranny
which has formed the burden of her history. And, while
acknowledging this beneficial change in her condition, they must
wonder at the same time how small was the share which the
natives themselves had in bringing it about, although their
activity never relaxed, and they had great and good men working
for their cause. What, in truth, did it?

The first point which claims our attention is how effectually
the moral force of what is called liberal thought dealt a death-
blow to the penal laws half a century before any of them were
erased from the statute book.

Liberal thought may be said to have originated in England,
whence it passed over to France, to be disseminated and take
root throughout Europe by means of the mighty influence then
exercised by the great nation. The chief object which animated
the minds of those who first labored for its admission into
modern European principles is not for us to consider here. There
is no doubt that this chief object was of a loosening and
deleterious nature: namely, to ruin Christian faith, to change
all the old social and political axioms held by Christendom, and
to create a new society imbued with what now goes by the name of
modern ideas. It is not necessary to point out the frightful
imprudence as well as criminality of many of those who were the
pioneers of the movement. We must only take the new principles
as a great fact, destined yet to effect a radical change in the
ideas of men of all races, a change already begun in Europe.

Liberal thought, we say, originated in England; and it would be
easy to show that there it was the result partly of
Protestantism, partly of indifferentism, the ultimate
consequence of the great principle of private judgment.

This became manifest in Great Britain, from the beginning of the
eighteenth century, and, as was previously shown, what is called
the British Constitution was the result and outgrowth of deep
political thought matured in minds indifferent to religion, of
men who were as little _Protestants_ as any thing else. But they
were deeply possessed by a sense of conservatism and moderation
in the application of the most radical principles, which later
on the fiery Gallic mind carried to their final and most
disastrous consequences.

But, in whatever garb it may have appeared, liberalism was
clearly the essence of the British Constitution, as established
after all the civil and dynastic wars of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. The leaders of the English nation
happened at the time to be fully wedded to aristocratic ideas,
and accordingly they refused to recognize all the consequences
of their principles, and to see them carried out to the full.

It was admitted that the king reigned, but did not govern; that
the nation governed by its representatives; that those
representatives were created by election; that a nation could
not be taxed without its free consent; that thought, religious
thought chiefly, was free; that toleration, therefore, could
admit of no exception in point of religious doctrine; and all
the other modern principles which have at length been admitted,
though not always observed, as governmental axioms by all
European nations.

As long as those axioms were in the close keeping of English
patricians, some of their consequences were far from being fully
evolved; but certain Frenchmen, Voltaire among others, happening
to cross the Straits of Dover, returned with them, and, the
wretched government of Louis XV being not only too weak to
withstand, but even conniving at, the boldness of the new
philosophers, the French language, which was then spoken all
over Europe, carried with it from mouth to mouth the new and
fascinating doctrine of the emancipation of thought.

None of those writers, indeed, undertook to plead the cause of
unfortunate Ireland. Voltaire threw the whole of France into
agitation, nay, all Europe, to the wilds of Russia, by taking up
the case of the Protestant Calas, who was condemned to death and
executed unjustly, as it seems, for the supposed murder of a son
who was inclined to embrace Catholicity; but never a word did he
speak of the suffering which at that time had settled down over
the whole Irish nation solely for the crime of its religious

Nevertheless, toleration became the catchword with all. It rang
out loudly from a thousand French pamphlets and ponderous tomes;
it was caught up and echoed back from England; it penetrated the
unkindly atmosphere of Russia even, and was silently pondered
over under the rule of an unbelieving despot.

It was impossible for Ireland not to derive some benefit from
all this. It took a long time, indeed, for emancipation of
thought to cross that narrow channel which divided the "sister"
islands; for, at the precise period when the doctrine was loudest
in France, the most atrocious penal laws were being executed in
Ireland, and there seemed no hope for the suffering nation.

But, toward the end of that eventful eighteenth century, the
breath of that magic word, toleration, at last was felt on the
shores of Erin. When it was in the mouths of all Europe, when
English clergymen had thoroughly imbibed the new doctrine, when
even Scotch ministers began to thaw under its genial influence,
and become "liberal theologians," how could an Irish magistrate
think of hanging a friar, or transporting a priest, or imposing
a heavy fine on a Catholic who committed the heinous offence of
hearing mass, or absenting himself from the services of the
Established Church? At last, the "Mass-rock" was no longer the
only spot whereon the divine victim of expiation could be
offered up; and it soon came to be known that, to by-lanes and
obscure houses in the cities numbers of persons flocked on
Sundays, presided over by their own Sogarth Aroon. On one
occasion, already noticed, the floor of a rickety house, where
they were worshipping, gave way, to the killing and maiming of
many; thenceforth, Catholics were allowed to assemble in public
to the knowledge of all, and, though "discoverers" were still
legally entitled to denounce and prosecute them, there was small
chance of a verdict against them.

Thus was it owing to a great moral force--whether good or bad is
not the question now--that the penal laws first became obsolete;
and Irishmen had absolutely nothing whatever to do in the matter.
Not a single pamphlet, demanding toleration, and proclaiming
the rights of religious freedom, ever, to our knowledge, issued
from the Irish press at the time. No book, written by an Irish
author, advocating the same, was ever printed clandestinely, as
were so many French books, at first appearing in Holland, or
covertly in France, with a false title-page.

When the Volunteer movement took place, toleration was in full
sway in Ireland. As was seen, the question debated in the
Dungannon Convention referred solely to the extension of the
elective franchise to Catholics; and, though this was unjustly
denied them by the majority of the Volunteers, under the
guidance of the leaders of the movement, there was no question
of any longer refusing to the native Irish Catholics the right
of practising their religion freely. This the moral sense of the
century had secured to them.

The attainment of the political franchise was also the result of
purely moral force, though it required a much longer time in its
acquisition, as it was a question, not merely of a right
individual in its nature, as all natural religious rights are,
but one affecting external society, and productive of material
results of great import.

In this the Irish were not merely passive; they launched
themselves heart and soul on the sea of political agitation.
From 1810 to 1829, the Catholic Association, which embraced men
of all classes of society, was incessant in its clamor for
emancipation. The chief object of this association being the
political franchise, it was felt by all that, sooner or later,
that privilege must be granted. Meanwhile, the secular enemies
of Ireland were not idle. Emancipation--that is the political
franchise-- they called a "Utopian dream," which they asserted
England could not grant. Was it not directly opposed to the
coronation-oath, nay, to the English Constitution? The king
himself was, and publicly declared himself to be, of this
opinion. According to your thorough-bred Englishman, the state
would rather spend its last shilling, and sacrifice its last man,
than suffer it. How many spoke thus, even up to the very day on
which Wellington, changing his mind perforce, at last proposed
the measure!

All this opposition was perhaps only to be expected; but the
strange thing was that many excellent patriotic Irishmen,
Catholics, laymen as well as clerics and prelates, were opposed
to the agitation set on foot by O'Connell and his friends; they
also thought it a "Utopian dream," likely only to bring new
calamities upon their country. They seemed not to see that the
refusal of emancipation meant in fact the continuance of the
small Protestant minority as the ruling power--the state--in
Ireland, which, owing to moral force, was no longer so, save in
theory. In fact, already the majority, that is, almost the whole
of Ireland, was an immense power. Its members were at liberty to
combine openly, to show themselves, to speak, to write, to
agitate; they were, in a word, a people, and the Protestant
minority no longer really constituted the state.

It is true that the majority of Irishmen had for centuries
continued to act unanimously in their resistance to oppression;
as was seen, they had been a people from the moment that the
English kings and Parliaments strove to coerce their religious
faith, and more particularly from the destruction of clanship.
They were truly a nation, though without a government of their
own, and for the greater part of the time bending under the most
intolerable tyranny. Religion had given them one thought and one
heart. And now that, owing to the mighty, the irresistible moral
force of liberalism, they could no longer be openly persecuted
for wishing to remain Catholics, the question arose: Were they
still to be absolutely nothing in the state? This was the real
demand of the Catholic Association, and every one ought to have
seen its importance and the certainty of success.

Nevertheless, a great number of sincere Irishmen did not see the
question in this light, and were covertly or openly opposed to
the agitation. Ireland appeared to be divided just at a
momentous crisis.

The leaders of the association were not themselves altogether
agreed as to the best mode of putting their question. Some were
for armed opposition, thinking they could beat England in the
open field. But the great originator and leader of the movement
sternly opposed so mad a proposition. He was for moral force,
seeing how clearly and irresistibly, even if unwittingly, it was
working for their cause. In spite of all adverse circumstances,
although the English party and the English nation stood up en
masse against him, although many Irishmen refused to join in the
agitation, while some of his best friends wished to risk all in
a desperate venture, he stood calm, firm, and so confident of
success, that he caused himself to be returned as member for the
County Clare to the English Parliament, before even emancipation
had given him the right of candidature. It was immediately after
this "unconstitutional" election that the boon of emancipation
was suddenly granted, contrary to all expectation and
probability, and O'Connell proudly took his seat among the
representatives of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament.

If this measure was not carried by a purely moral force, it is
hard to see how that phrase can be applied to any thing in this
world. This is not the place to write a history of that
memorable struggle. It is still fresh in the memory of many
living men. We merely draw a conclusion from what has happened
in our own time, and one which may be said to be a clear
inference from the circumstances of the case, and to which no
one can offer any serious objection. This conclusion is, the
omnipotence of moral force in gaining for Ireland so much of
liberty, of political, and social privileges, as was finally
granted her.

This victory won for the Irish Catholics the acknowledgment on
the part of England that they were a factor in the state. The
next question which naturally presented itself was, "What was to
be their exact position in the state?"

There are many answers to this, even in modern ideas. In purely
democratic countries suffrage is universal, all have a political
vote, and the majority is supposed to rule. In countries where
the government is oligarchical or aristocratic, rank, wealth,
and position, are "privileged;" the great mass is deprived of a
vote. Yet, even in those countries, in accordance with the
modern idea, blood is not every thing; a certain number of
plebeians are admitted to a share in public affairs, and their
number is greater or smaller as the struggle, which is always
going on between the few and the many, wavers to this side or to
that. Thus, in the English Parliament there is often an
"electoral" or "reform" question discussed and agitated. But the
leaders of the Catholic Association boldly advocated a question
prior to those--what at the time was called the repeal of the
Union, and is now known as "home-rule."

Must Ireland continue to be governed by laws enacted in England?
The number of her special representatives is comparatively so
small, her Catholic aspirations meet with such deaf ears in the
majority of the members, that, as long as Ireland is without her
own Parliament, she cannot be called a free country.

Moreover, according to modern ideas, self-government seems to be
admitted as an axiom; all countries have a right to it, under
the limitation of constitutional enactments, either in
"confederacies" or in "imperial states." Why should Ireland
alone be deprived of such a boon?

It is known how O'Connell suddenly grasped the question and
mastered it. His first repeal association was suppressed on the
instant by a proclamation of the Irish Secretary. O'Connell
bowed to the proclamation, and for the first organization
substituted another called "the Irish Volunteers for the Repeal
of the Union." This met with the same fate as the first. The
great agitator then took refuge in "repeal breakfasts," and
declared his intention, if the government "thought fit to
proclaim down breakfasts, to resort to a political lunch, and,
if political luncheon be equally dangerous to the peace of the
viceroy, he would have political dinners; if the dinners be
proclaimed, we must, said he, like certain sanctified dames,
resort to tea and tracts."

The "breakfasts" were suppressed, and O'Connell was arrested.
The prosecution, however, was soon abandoned, and for the moment,
despairing of success in advocating repeal, he came down to the
"Reform party," from which he obtained at first some great
advantages for Ireland--the administration of Lord Mulgrave, the
best the island had known for centuries, and the appointment of
many Catholics to high offices in the state.

It is not necessary to relate the circumstances which finally
drove O'Connell back upon his original plan, and the formation,
in April, 1840, of the "Loyal National Repeal Association."

Within a short time three million associates were contributing
annually to the national fund, and a scene was witnessed which
the most devoted lover of Erin could never have anticipated. It
would be useless to search the annals of mankind for a more
startling exhibition of purely moral force. The causes of its
failure will appear causes altogether of a temporary and
unexpected character, when we come to examine them.

But the stupendous spectacle itself was enough to impress the
beholder with the irresistible effect which it could not fail to
produce. A whole nation obedient to the voice of one man! --and
that a man who had never been invested with a state dignity,
proud only of having once represented a poor Irish county in the
English Parliament; who was eminently a man of the people,
identified in every way with the people, speaking a language
they could all understand, speaking to hundreds of thousands who
had come at his call to listen to him: at one time nearly a
million of them surrounded him on the hill of Tara.

Had a demagogue stood in his place, how could he have resisted
the temptation of using such power to effect a thorough
revolution? O'Connell had only to utter the word, and those
immense masses of men would have swept the whole island as with
a besom of destruction. The impetuosity of the Irish character
when placed in such circumstances is well known, and O'Connell
knew it better than any man living at the time. He showed
himself truly heroic in the constant moderation of his words,
even in scenes the most exciting, when a look from him might
have lashed the nation into madness.

To bring out more clearly the stamp and greatness of the man,
compare his conduct with that of the leaders in the great French
Revolution of 1793. Not one of them ever possessed a tithe, not
merely of the great Irishman's honesty of purpose, but even of
his real authority over the people; yet, what frightful convulsions
did they not bring upon the state in the days of their brief
popularity? Throughout the whole repeal movement, when millions
of people obeyed implicitly one leader, ready to do his will at
any moment, there was never a single breach of the peace, never
an attempt at outrage, never a threat of retaliation.

The only difficulty is where to bestow the greater admiration,
on O'Connell or the people; for, if O'Connell towered almost
above humanity in his never-varying moderation, with such a
powerful engine in his hands, the people offered a spectacle
which would be looked for in vain elsewhere in the history of
man, that of a whole nation swayed by the most excited feelings,
one in thought, in aims, in the bitter memory of the past,
conscious of their irresistible power in the present, yet never
yielding to passion, but dispersing quietly after listening to
the impassioned harangues of their leader, to return to their
homes and resume their ordinary occupations. Any impartial man,
who has read history at all, must acknowledge that this
spectacle is unexampled, and in itself vindicates the Irish
character from the foolish aspersions so lavishly cast upon it,
and so thoughtlessly repeated still.

One great fact was brought out by those demonstrations which
afterward appeared so barren of result, namely, the existence of
a nation full of life and energy, of a surprising vigor, and at
the same time governed by stern principles as well as swayed by
emotion. It would be idle to pretend that they were a non-entity,
save as forming a part of the British Empire, existing on
sufferance as it were, merely to add to the greatness and the
glory of the English nation. They possessed a life of their own.
That life had, as was seen, been instilled into them by their
religious convictions alone; it had lain dormant for more than a
century; and now it burst forth in the view of the world, to
proclaim that the Irish nation still existed. And this wonderful
resurrection was due to moral force alone.

Though the Irish people then appeared so different from that
humbled, crushed mass of oppressed beings, who, a hundred years
before, lay so completely at the mercy of their masters, it was,
nevertheless, the same people, and the difference was purely one
of circumstances. Had they been allowed in the previous century
to manifest their feelings, as a happy change in the state of
affairs now permitted them, they would assuredly have acted in
exactly the same manner. And this reflection tends to confirm
the opinion, several times here expressed, that the Irish people
existed all along, and that the most adverse circumstances had
never succeeded in destroying it.

Meanwhile, O'Connell was the sovereign of that nation, and one
whose power over his subjects was greater than that of any of
the kings or emperors who occupied the various thrones of Europe
at the time. Later events proved how precarious was the
authority of all those who appeared to hold the fate of millions
in their hands; the authority of O'Connell alone was deeply
rooted in the heart of his nation. From the humble position of a
Kerry lawyer, he had gradually risen to the proud preeminence
which he occupied in the eyes of Europe, and he owed it solely
to that moral force of which he was so sincere an advocate, and
which he knew so well how to wield.

But how came all the high hopes then so ardently entertained by
the friends of Ireland to be so suddenly dashed to the ground,
and O'Connell to die of a broken heart?

It seems, indeed, to be the opinion of Irishmen even, that
O'Connell's theory was faulty; that moral force alone could not
restore Ireland to her lawful position among nations; that, in
fact, he failed by his very moderation, and that the bitterness
which clouded his last days was the natural consequence of his
false and delusive expectations. Such seems now to be the almost
universal opinion.

Yet, in all his wonderful career, only one fault can be brought
against him. Yielding, on one occasion, in 1843, to the exuberance
of his feelings, "he committed himself to a specific promise that
within six months repeal would be an accomplished fact."

This promise, rashly given, and showing no result, is said to
have cooled down the enthusiasm of the people, who, from that
time, lost confidence in their leader; and to this alone is the
utter failure of the great agitation ascribed.

But there is so little of real truth in this assertion that,
when, on his well-known imprisonment, after the law lords, in
the British House of Peers, declared that the conviction of
O'Connell and his colleagues was wrong, he was restored to
liberty, the writer just quoted confesses that "overwhelming
demonstrations of unchanged affection and personal attachment
poured in upon him from his countrymen. Their faith in his
devotion to Ireland was increased a hundred-fold."

It is true that the same writer, Mr. A.M. O'Sullivan, adds that
"their faith in the efficiency of his policy, or the surety of
his promise, was gone;" but to reconcile this phrase with what
precedes it, it must not be taken absolutely. The want of faith
here spoken of was restricted to the members of a new party,
which had been organized chiefly during the imprisonment of the
great leader, the "Young Ireland party," the new advocates of
physical force against England, composed of the ardent and, most
surely, well-intentioned young men, who failed so egregiously a
few years later.

This party was the chief cause of O'Connell's failure, coupled
with the awful famine which followed soon after, and left the
Irish small desire for political agitation with grim Death
staring them in the face, and the main question before them one
of avoiding starvation and utter ruin.

Both causes, however, were purely of a temporary nature, and the
efficacy of moral force remained strong as ever, and, in fact,
the only thing possible.

The Young Ireland party could not exist long, as its avowed
policy was so rash, so ill-founded, and poorly carried out, that
the mere breath of British power was enough to dissipate it
hopelessly in a moment. Moreover, it placed itself in open
antagonism to the mass of the Catholic clergy, and appeared to
have so ill studied the history of the country that its members
did not know the real power which religion exercised over their
countrymen. They could not but fail, and their futile attempt
only served to render worse the condition of the country they
were ready to die for.

It would be enough to add here, of other subsequent attempts of
the same nature, that no real hope for the complete resurrection
of Ireland could be looked to from such abortive and stillborn
conspiracies; especially when the alliance entered into by some
of them with the revolutionary party of European socialists and
atheists is taken into account, men from whom nothing but disorder,
anarchy, and crime, can be expected. Thus, those who wish well to
the Irish cause have only moral force to fall back upon.

It is needless to do more than mention the passing nature of the
frightful calamity of famine and consequent expatriation, which
have been sufficiently dwelt upon. The Irish race has passed
through ordeals more trying than either of these; it has
survived them, and increased in numbers after all previous
calamities, as it doubtless will after this last, when God
thinks proper to abate in the people the eagerness they still
feel for leaving their native country.

All the progress made by Ireland, so far, is due, therefore,
solely to the kind action of Divine Providence, which is
generally called the "logic of events," aided by men endowed
with prudence and energy. It would be superfluous for our
purpose to detail at length several other progressive steps made
subsequently, which the mad attempt of the party of physical
force would have effectually prevented if open tyranny were as
easy a thing in these days as it once was. The establishment of
the "Encumbered Estates Courts," and the disestablishment of the
Irish Protestant Church, are the chief measures alluded to: the
first so fruitful of good to Ireland since its adoption, and the
second destined to be no less so. It is useless to remark that
physical force had nothing to do with their introduction, and
that the British statesmen who advocated and carried them
through were swayed only by that unseen power which is said by
Holy Scripture to "hold the heart of kings in its hands." Let the
Irish do their part, and Heaven will continue to smile on them.

Since it is to this unseen power that all the improvement now
visible in the condition of the Irish nation is due, it is only
natural to expect from it every thing that is still wanting. For
we are far from thinking that nothing more is to be done, and
that all to be desired has been obtained. That the nation is
still dissatisfied, is plain enough; and it must be right in not
feeling contented with the various measures for its improvement
tendered it so far. The voice of its natural leaders--of the
prelates and clergy-proclaims that there are many things to
change, and many new measures to be introduced.

The first and foremost of these is a thorough remedy for the
disgraceful state of pauperism to which the great majority of
the Irish nation is yet reduced. That pauperism was wilfully
established, and this national crime of England stands unatoned
for still. It would be unjust to say that the policy which
produced it is pursued to-day by the English Government; we
sincerely believe, on the contrary, that the state of things
which has existed for the last two centuries is seriously
deplored by many of those who, under God, hold in their keeping
the destiny of millions of men. But it is surprising that so
many projects, so many attempts at legislation, the writing of
so many wise books, discussions so many and so exhaustive of the
evil, should all result in leaving the evil almost as it stood.

If we listen to those who know Ireland perfectly, who have
either spent their lives in the country, or traversed its
surface leisurely and intelligently, it would seem as though the
old descriptions of her in the time of her greatest misfortunes
would still be appropriate and true.

"No devastated province of the Roman Empire," said Father
Lavelle, but yesterday, in his "Irish Landlord," "ever presented
half the wretchedness of Ireland. At this day, the mutilated
Fellah of Egypt, the savage Hottentot and New-Hollander, the
live chattel of Cuba, enjoy a paradise in comparison with the
Irish peasant, that is to say, with the bulk of the Irish nation."

But, as this short passage deals only in generalities, and as
there may be some suspicion of the warm nature of the writer
having given a higher color to his words than was warranted by
the facts, let us listen to the less impassioned utterances of
travellers who have recently visited the island: let us see the
Irish at home in their towns and in the country.

I. In towns and cities: The most Rev. Archbishop of Dublin,
writing in 1857 to Lord St. Leonards, on the state of his flock
in Dublin, says: "Were your lordship to visit some of the ruined
lanes and streets of Dublin, your heart would thrill with horror
at the picture of human woe which would present itself."

And in a pastoral letter, November 27,1861, he spoke of "tens of
thousands of human beings, destitute of all the comforts of life,
who are to be met with at every step in all great towns and
cities. If you enter the wretched abodes where they live, you
will find that they have no fuel, that they are unprovided with
beds and other furniture, and that generally they have not a
single blanket to protect them from the cold."

Abbe Perraud, after a thorough examination of the subject, wrote,
in 1864, in "Ireland under English Rule:"

"The poor quarters of Cork, Limerick, and Drogheda, present the
same spectacle as Dublin, and justify the sad proverbial
celebrity of `Irish rags.' Dirt, negligence, and want of care,
doubtless, go a long way in giving to destitution in Ireland its
repulsive and hideous form; but who is unaware that continued
and hopeless destitution engenders, as of necessity,
listlessness and carelessness, and that, to enter into a
struggle with poverty, there must be at least some chance of
carrying off the victory?"

A German Protestant, Dr. Julius Rodenberg, writing in 1861,
expressed his astonishment at the sight of Ireland's poverty, as
he saw it in the streets of Dublin, although he had doubtless
read a great deal about it previously. "You are in a country,"
he says, "whence people emigrate by thousands, while fields, of
such an extent and power of production as would support them all,
lie fallow."

And with respect to the progress already made, M. de Beaumont
had remarked many years before that in Ireland a certain
relative progress was quite compatible with the continued
existence of pauperism among the lower classes. "One single
cause," he remarks, "suffices to explain why the agricultural
population becomes poorer, while the prosperity of the rich is
on the increase: it is that all improvement in the land is
profitable solely to the proprietor, who exacts more rent from
the farmer in proportion as he works the land into a better state."

Since M. de Beaumont wrote, the pauperism in the cities has
assumed a more wretched and repulsive form, in consequence of
the crowding there of poor peasants who had been evicted from
their small farms and fled to the nearest city or town with the
hope of finding there at least charity.

"For the last ten years," wrote Abbe Perraud, in 1864, "there
has been taking place in the large cities an accumulation of
poor as fatal to their health as to their morality. They are
mostly country people whom eviction has driven from the country,
who have been unable to emigrate, and who were unwilling to shut
themselves up immediately in the workhouses. The resources they
procure for themselves, by doing odd work, are so completely
insufficient, that it is impossible to be surprised at their

Dr. Rodenberg, describing the state of the poor country people
crowded in the "Liberties of Dublin," says of the rooms in which
they live: "In those holes the most wretched and pitiable
laborers imaginable live; they often lie by hundreds together on
the bare ground."

Such citations might be sadly multiplied, but those given are
sufficient as descriptive of the state of the poor Irish in the
cities. Let us now see how the peasants live in the country in
many parts of Ireland:

II. "The destitution of the agricultural classes," writes Abbe
Perraud, from personal observation, "in order to be rightly
appreciated, must be seen in the boggy and mountainous regions
of Munster, of Connaught, and of the western portion of Ulster.

"The ordinary dwelling of the small tenant, of the day-laborer,
in that part of Ireland, answers with the utmost precision the
description of it twenty years ago given by M. de Beaumont: 'Let
the reader picture to himself four walls of dried mud, which the
rain easily reduces to its primitive condition; a little thatch
or a few cuts of turf form the roof; a rude hole in the roof
forms the chimney, and more frequently there is no other issue
for the smoke than the door of the dwelling itself. One solitary
room holds father, mother, grandfather, and children. No
furniture is to be seen; a single litter, usually composed of
grass or straw, serves for the whole family. Five or six half-
naked children may be seen crouching over a poor fire. In the
midst of them lies a filthy pig, the only inhabitant at its ease,
because its element is filth itself.'

"Into how many dwellings of this kind have we not ourselves
penetrated--especially in the counties of Kerry, Mayo, and
Donegal--more than once obliged to stoop down to the ground, in
order to penetrate into these cabins, the entrance to which is
so low that they look more like the burrows of beasts than
dwellings made for man!

"Upon the road from Kilkenny to Grenaugh, in the vicinity of
those beautiful lakes, at the entrance of those parks, to which,
for extent and richness, neither England nor Scotland can
probably offer any thing equal, we have seen other dwellings. A
few branches of trees, interlaced and leaning upon the slope in
the road, a few cuts of turf, and a few stones picked up in the
fields, compose these wretched huts--less spacious, and perhaps
less substantial, than that of the American savage."

At the time of Abbe Perraud's visit, a correspondent of the
Dublin Saunders News-Letters, who was commissioned to inquire
into the condition of the peasants, gave the following reply,
which, as the abbe justly remarks, is but the faithful echo of
all the descriptions made within the last half-century:

"The inhabitants of Erris appear to be the most wretched of all
human beings. Their cabins, their patched and tattered clothes,
their broken-down gait--every thing bears witness to their
poverty. Their beds consist of a few bits of wood crossed one
upon the other, supported by two heaps of stones, and covered
with straw; their whole bedclothes a miserable, worn-out quilt,
without any blankets . . . . But there is nothing in Ireland
like the habitations which the people of the village of Fallmore
have made for themselves, who have been evicted by Mr. Palmer.
They are composed of masses of granite, picked up on the shore,
and roughly laid one by the other. These cabins are so low that
a man cannot stand upright in them; so narrow that they can
hardly hold three or four persons."

After all, F. Lavelle was guilty of no exaggeration in stating
that the hut of the Hottentot was better than that of the Irish
peasant. But, in the district of Gweedore, northeast of County
Donegal, the state of the peasantry is more deplorably wretched
still than in any other part of Ireland. At the time of a
celebrated parliamentary inquiry in to the matter in 1858, a
Londonderry newspaper stated that "there are in Donegal about
four thousand adults, of both sexes, who are obliged to go
barefoot during the winter, in the ice and snow--pregnant women
and aged people in habitual danger of death from the cold . . . .
It is rare to find a man with a calico shirt; but the distress
of the women is still greater, if that be possible. There are
many hundreds of families in which five or six grown-up women
have among them no more than a single dress to go out in . . . .
There are about five hundred families who have but one bed each--
in which father, mother, and children, without distinction of
age or sex, are crowded pell-mell together."

If from the dwellings and clothing of the peasantry we pass to
their food, there is no need of adding any thing to what was
said on this point when describing the periodical famines. One
detail, however, not yet mentioned, deserves to be recorded:

"In the district of Gweedore," says Abbe Perraud, "our eyes were
destined to witness the use of sea-weed. Stepping once into a
cabin, in which there was no one but a little girl charged with
the care of minding her younger brothers, and getting ready the
evening meal, we found upon the fire a pot full of doulamaun
ready cooked; we asked to taste it, and some was handed to us on
a little platter.

"This weed, when well dressed, produces a kind of viscous juice;
it has a brackish taste, and savors strongly of salt water. We
were told in the country that the only use of it is to increase,
when mixed with potatoes, the mass of aliment given to the
stomach. The longer and more difficult the work of the stomach,
the less frequent are its calls. It is a kind of compromise with
hunger; the people are able neither to suppress it nor to satisfy
it; they endeavor to cheat it. We have also been assured that this
weed cannot be eaten alone; it must be mixed with vegetables,
since of itself it has no nutritive properties whatever."

How long is such a state of things likely to continue? It has
already existed long enough to be a disgrace to the much-vaunted
benevolence of the nineteenth century. A sure and radical remedy
must be found for it; and, as it has been already so long
delayed, it should be found the more promptly.

It seems that the tenure of land lies at the bottom of the
question, and that respect for what are called "established
rights" offers the main difficulty. Those rights, indeed, were
founded on the cruellest wrong and the most flagrant injustice;
but as possession is "nine points of the English law," and so
long a time has passed since the land changed hands,
prescription must be admitted and let them be called rights; nor
can any man in his senses ask for a violent subversion of
society for the sake of righting an old wrong.

But it has ever been a maxim of jurisprudence that summum jus,
summa injuria; and this axiom finds its full explanation in the
present case, when it is considered that the jus is on the side
of a comparatively small number of men, for the most part
absentee landlords, while the injuria leans to the great mass of
the primitive owners of the soil. The time-honored policy of the
English Government, that all the open abuses of landlordism
should be watched over and protected with the most jealous care,
while, on the other hand, the wretched farmer and cottier is
supposed to have no rights to defend and guard, should be
abandoned at once and forever, with a firmness that can leave no
room for doubt or equivocation, if the restoration of confidence
on the part of the Irish is esteemed any thing worth.

But, if for no other motive, at least for the sake of securing
peace and order in Ireland, a remedy must be found. There is no
reason why the Irish should longer remain a nation of paupers;
and, although some may still pretend that the fault and its
remedy lie with themselves, unprejudiced men will readily
acknowledge that the fault lay first, at least, at England's
door --a fact which the London Times has conceded often and
proclaimed loudly enough.

Let British statesmen, then, devise proper means for such an end
without social commotion, with as little disturbance of private
rights as possible; for the object is an imperious necessity. It
seems that the latest law enacted with this view is not the
measure that was required; is totally inadequate in its
provisions, scope, and extent. In such a case it is always open
to legislators to introduce a new and more satisfactory measure;
and moral force will surely bring this about, provided it is
true to itself. We confess to having no scheme of our own to set
forth; but Irishmen are free, nay entitled, to speak, to write
on, and discuss the subject; and a serious, steady, but lawful
agitation of the question will surely find its true and final
solution. The last Galway election, notwithstanding the temporary
triumph of Judge Keogh, was a beginning in the right direction.

There is no need here of revolution, of what the French call une
jaquerie, of arming the populace for the purpose of violently
ejecting the great land-owners. No Irishman has ever stood for
so calamitous a remedy. The aid of the Internationalists will
certainly never be called in by the true children of Erin for
any purpose whatever. It seems that the great and holy Pontiff,
Pius IX., made this remark to the Prince of Wales, at their last
interview at the Vatican, and, according to the report, the
prince fully admitted its truth as far, at least, as he, by any
outward sign, could show.

The question is one of pure justice, to be settled within the
limits of order and law; and surely, when all admit that the
evil is so crying, that a remedy must be found, one will be
found, which, while it does no real injury to any person, will
bring comfort and relief to the most deserving and suffering
race of men--the Irish peasantry. We will soon see how.

But the Irishman is not only physically destitute; he is also
destitute mentally; and, if the first case calls for a prompt
remedy, the second is no less urgent. Pauperism and ignorance
were the two terrible engines so long worked by England for the
degradation and final destruction of the Irish race. Our readers
have seen how persistently was education, of any kind, refused
to the natives. The Universities of Dublin and Drogheda in the
fourteenth century, the cathedral schools, founded by the Anglo-
Normans, in the same age, carefully excluded the Irish from
their benefits. And, when the Reformation set in, with its long
series of oppressions, no Catholic could share in the new
foundations of the Tudors and the Stuarts without first abjuring
his religion. Penal statute after penal statute made of all the
shifts, to which the Irish were driven in order to educate their
children, so many crimes, punishable by death or transportation.
That, under such a state of things, they could remain Catholics
without becoming idiots is one of the most remarkable instances
on record of buoyancy of spirit and soundness of mind on the
part of a whole nation.

From the end of the last century the policy of England changed
completely in appearance. The foundation and endowment by the
state of the great college of Maynooth, destined for the education
of the Irish clergy, in 1795, was certainly a step on the right
road, and if only primary schools for the people had, at the same
time, been spread all over the island on the same principle of true
liberality, the old injustice on the matter of education would have
been atoned for and remedied, to a great extent.

But the Kildare Peace Society and the Church Education Society,
founded in 1839, showed that the antagonism to the Catholic
Church in Ireland was far from being dead; nay, was as rife as

Lord Stanley's National Education System, in 1831, at first
seemed of a character altogether above Protestant or infidel
proselytism. But, the composition of the various boards under
that system, and some of the measures adopted, gave evidence
clearly and soon enough that the education proposed for the
Irish was not in accordance with the true spirit of the nation,
so eminently Catholic and religious as it is. Hence, the total
failure--for such it is now admitted by all to have been--of
that system ought to have opened the eyes of all impartial
Englishmen to the necessity of starting from the principle that
Ireland is Catholic, and that the Irish are true children of the
Catholic Church. But this fact seems not yet recognized or
acknowledged by those who rule the nation, since, at this very
moment, a bill lies before Parliament against which all the
bishops of Ireland have united in raising their voice. The
queen's colleges all confess to be a wretched failure.

The injustice of centuries, then, is not, even in these free
days, when there is such a talk about educating the masses,
repaired by the English Government; and this sad fact seems to
militate against the power of moral force. However, it is but
right to remember that only those establishments are here spoken
of which are supported by state aid, and that complete freedom
of education, independent of such assistance, does actually
exist in Ireland. Have not the bishops all necessary power to
open schools of their own? Have they not even founded a
university? Does the state dare to interfere in whatever
educational establishments they think proper to set on foot?
They are now, in that regard, as free as the Catholic bishops in
the United States; and if the degrees granted by the faculties
under their control have no value in the eyes of the state, they
can easily dispense with a concurrence, which is certainly
unjustly denied, but which, even if granted, would not, in the
eyes of the Church, increase in the slightest the real value of
the diplomas they themselves approve. They can afford to wait
for the time when complete justice will be done; meanwhile they
are freer than Catholic bishops at this moment are in all
Catholic countries of Europe; and the freedom they enjoy is
entirely owing to that moral force which, we allege, is
sufficient to insure, sooner or later, all the advantages that
can be desired. When the present situation of the native Irish,
from an educational point of view, is compared with the oppression
under which they lay a hundred years ago, one cannot but wonder
how so much has been obtained, and the hope, that every thing
still wanting is sure to come by the agency of the force that
has already won so much, cannot be deemed vain and illusory.

Let not, however, what is here said be construed as advising
Ireland to stand still while schemes of education, evidently
godless, are concocted, matured, and passed into laws for their
special benefit. On the contrary, they must not only continue
but increase their efforts to cry them down, till they compel a
blind and deaf government to open its eyes and ears to a
national want and a national voice. This is what is meant by the
use of moral force.

But, can the complete remedy for pauperism and the solid
establishment and endowment of truly Catholic schools be
expected to come from any hands but those of an Irish
Legislature? Can they be hoped for as long as the destiny of
Ireland rests in the hands of an Imperial Parliament whose great
majority can have no real sympathy with the long-oppressed race?
In a word, is home-rule necessary to bring about those two great
measures, which seem absolutely indispensable for the complete
resurrection of the nation?

Our readers already know that, in our opinion, an Irish
Parliament would not be a sure panacea for the evils of the
country, particularly those of pauperism and ignorance, even
though that Parliament sat in Dublin, and was composed of
Irishmen bred and born. The evils would not be struck out
promptly and utterly, although many great improvements would
immediately follow.

Some of our reasons for being chary of confidence in the success
of home-rule have been already given. But we have also insisted
on the necessity of leaving the question open, and admitted that
Irishmen have a right to discuss it, and take whatever side they
may think proper, provided always they stand, as they are
standing, within the limits of law and order.

Surely, the Irish have a right to be fairly represented; modern
doctrines, as far as they can go, consecrate that right; and, if
fair representation is an impossibility in the present state of
affairs in Ireland, that state should be so altered as that the
Irish nation might obtain all the advantages which a truly
representative government bestows.

It is clear that the difficulty consists in the paramount
importance of the union--of the empire; and this is not the
place to discuss so large a question. It may be said, however,
that the union of the British Empire does not and cannot consist
in the absorption into one whole of the three integral parts
which compose it. England, Scotland, and Ireland, are still
three distinct national entities, each inhabited by a peculiar
race, and each race cannot, in such a political organization, be
in justice ignored, for a mere abstraction called the state.

Certainly the question is a very complicated one; and to offer a
dogmatic solution of it would be pretentious. It is better to
leave it to a future which is not far distant. What may be
insisted on is, that moral force is strong enough to bring about
a satisfactory decision, and that to resort to revolution for
such a purpose would be as fatal as it is criminal.

A right discussion of the question must make clear the fact that
Ireland is entitled to fair dealing as a component part of the
empire. Many other political organizations embraced within the
vast limits of the British power are allowed to discuss and
decide on questions peculiar to themselves, and which they are
at full liberty to pronounce upon for themselves by a wise
adjustment and concession on the part of the mother-country as
necessary to their well-being. Canada is almost entirely
independent; the Australian colonies have all their own
legislatures; it is the same more or less with all the distant
dependencies of England, yet there have been no complaints heard
so far of these late concessions threatening the union of the Empire.

But the objection is urged: "If such a concession be made to
Ireland, where can you stop? The Scotch may ask the same, and
the Welsh; one has as much right to home-rule as the other;
where can you draw the line?"

An easy answer to this is, that the Scotch have never asked for
home-rule, for the very good reason that they never had to
complain of unfair treatment at the hands of the English
Government; their special wants and desires having been always
duly considered from the moment of their union with England. But
the union of Ireland with England is not yet a century old, was
brought about perforce, and by chicanery and fraud, and from the
moment of its enactment to the present has been loudly protested
against by the Irish nation--the nation, that is, which we have
followed all through, joined in this instance by numbers of
their Protestant fellow-countrymen. A long list of pamphlets and
books might be drawn up, as showing the fact that multitudes of
Irish writers, not of a revolutionary but of a truly
conservative character, who cannot be accused of disloyalty to
England, have deplored, protested against, and clamored for the
repeal of, the Union of 1800.

Such is not the case with Scotland. But suppose it were, and
proofs furnished showing that Scotland is not fairly represented
in a Parliament which meets at Westminster, then that country
would have just as much right to see itself fairly represented,
its special wants satisfied and met, as all the other branches
of the great British organization.

Certain it is that the empire cannot be sound when an important,
a vital part of its political frame is incurably sore. Let that
sore be healed by justice, large, generous, and complete; let
Ireland be truly and really represented, in whatever manner her
representation may be carried out, and the sudden rise of the
little western isle in wealth, contentment, true prosperity, and
happiness, will redound to the general good of the whole. As it
now stands, its still miserable condition is as great and
constant a danger to Great Britain as it is a reproach and a
shame upon the maternal government which suffers the child, for
whose session it would stake its all, to continue in a state of
almost hopeless poverty, materially and intellectually, and to
struggle unaided in its efforts to rise.

If home-rule be the measure which is to heal Ireland's wounds,
it must be granted, and the voice of reason and right must rise
above the stupid clamor which says that it cannot, must not,
shall not be granted! Such expressions were common in
inflammatory pamphlets which flooded the country on the eve of
Catholic Emancipation, in 1829; and possibly many were issued
even after the granting of this (from a certain English point of
view) suicidal act of justice to Catholics.

But whatever may be the ultimate issue of the home-rule movement,
the question of education, which is so closely allied to, as to
seem dependent on it, is of such importance that it brooks no
delay. Ireland is, as it may be hoped it will ever continue, a
truly Catholic nation, and for such education must be special,
and cannot be left to the direction of a non-Catholic state, not
to use a worse expression. The result of the so-called national
system, as exhibited by the Queen's Colleges and the rest, ought
to be enough to open the eyes of real statesmen. But non-
Catholic legislators need a sense which they do not possess, to
appreciate the blunders they must fall into when proposing to
touch such delicate interests as spiritual things. Thirty years
ago, when those Queen's Colleges and schools were established in
Ireland, the Catholic hierarchy raised up their voice to warn
the British Government against so rash an attempt; for the very
few who appeared willing to give the system a trial had their
own doubts and forebodings. The warning, as usual, was not
heeded, and the consequence is, that the partisans of the system
now confess that their darling scheme has turned out a complete
failure. Yet, strange to say, they do not in the least seem to
have changed their ideas on the subject. On the contrary, they
wish to secularize education more completely than ever, and to
extend their project to the whole British Empire; though at this
moment the warning comes to them also from the Presbyterians of
Scotland, who refuse to submit to the scheme, universal in its
scope, of educating the young according to state notions and
worldly ideas.

In this the British Government only follows the lead of all
European cabinets and legislatures; for this great iniquity is
not confined to the British Isles, but is attempted everywhere,
with the evident design of taking the government of souls out of
the hands to which Jesus Christ confided it--the Church. The
Sovereign Pontiff was compelled to protest, and, as is the
custom in these days, his protest fell unheeded. It remains to
be seen whether men, who call themselves Christians, will
consent to see their children educated by secular bodies, which
are not only void of all authority over the souls of men, but
imbued, as all know, with doctrines the most pernicious and
disorganizing. The just complaint made by the Irish hierarchy is
unfortunately not restricted to their own body; their complaint
is one with that of all the rulers of the Church throughout the
world. It seems to us that there is greater hope of establishing
a thorough Christian system of education in Ireland than in any
other country, because the Irish nation will always take a more
determined attitude, and gather in a more compact and united body
around her natural leaders, the bishops and priests of God, than
any other modern Catholic nation; and, in this age, where there
are unanimity and a fixed purpose among any body of men, they
cannot fail to result in a victory over all obstacles and opponents.

Of one thing England may be sure, that the Irish bishops would
never submit to the project now on foot in England, as to do so
would be to fail in their most sacred duty; and the mass of the
Irish people is at their back. The Catholic hierarchy is always
ready to support the secular power so long as that power remains
within its province and does not step out of it to encroach on
their unquestionable domain; but, when duty calls on them to
resist, the experience of centuries is before the world, in
Ireland at least, to show how far they can carry their resistance.
In this they will stand united as one man, and it is vain for the
English Government to flatter itself that it will find tools among
them, should it foist on them the Birmingham scheme.

But a more threatening fact still is the compact union of all
Irishmen in support of their bishops, against schemes which have
already excited such bitter opposition on their part, and on
which they have already pronounced and given their solemn
verdict in unmistakable tones. If in our days Irishmen have been
so eager to uphold many projects of a doubtful character,
because those projects were opposed to England; if they have
shown in the most emphatic manner that the memory of the past is
still fresh, and that they are not yet prepared to accept the
British Government as a friend; if they have seized every
occasion, the most trifling as well as the most important, to
show that the union with England was distasteful to them--what
will be their attitude when the question admits of no doubt, and
can give rise to no apprehension in a Christian conscience; when,
indeed, they know that they stand where their duty to God bids
them, urged at the same time by their natural feelings of
opposition to a power which they detest and to which they are
irreconcilable? We do not say that we altogether approve of
their dogged opposition to England; it is only alluded to as a
fact which it would be folly, in treating of questions between
England and Ireland, to shut one's eyes to or doubt.

When such is the state of feeling, how can a scheme of godless
education hope to succeed, which, after all, requires the
consent of fathers and mothers of families? It is only natural
to suppose that the English Government, in the event of its
success, is scarcely prepared to employ such a numerous,
watchful, and determined police as shall march the children off
to school every lay by force--to schools which to them would be
prisons, presided over by jailers in the shape of instructors.
Nevertheless, the scheme now agitated by British statesmen must
culminate in some such measure, if they would have their schools
attended; and the inference is natural that education viewed
from such a stand-point becomes a design criminal and oppressive
in its nature, as well as a sheer impossibility in its carrying
out. Once again the whole British power would launch itself in
vain against the unyielding rock of as stubborn a will as ever
animated human beings, as durable and unshrinking almost as the
inner rock upon which it is built--Catholic faith.

Much space has already been devoted to the consideration of what
are here considered as the two great measures necessary and
sufficient for the complete resurrection of the Irish race--the
lifting of the load of pauperism under which they have so long
labored, and the establishment among them of a sound and
thorough Christian education; and that those measures will
undoubtedly be carried without any attempt at social convulsions,
without any violation of law and order. But, as, unfortunately,
many side-issues have been raised in Ireland of very inferior
importance, but of a nature almost exclusively to engage the
attention of Irishmen, to the great detriment of real progress,
it may be well to dwell a little longer on the consequences
which must infallibly follow from a higher state of physical
comfort and mental culture among them:

I. A higher state of physical comfort will naturally produce a
stronger attachment to their native soil and a corresponding
reluctance to leave it, as they now do by wholesale emigration.
The thought has been dwelt upon that emigration was a design of
Divine Providence, and even the first step in the resurrection
of the nation and in the establishment of its power within as
well as without. That the object of emigration is not yet fully
attained may be inferred from the fact that it still continues
on so large a scale; that it must ultimately dwindle to much
smaller proportions, if not cease utterly, is pretty certain.
This is our wish and hope: for the home population of the island
must be large enough to invest it with deserved importance in
the eyes of foreigners. Our title-page sets forth the words of
Dr. Newman, expressive of the firm belief that the time will
come when the Catholic population of Erin will be as thick and
prosperous as that of Belgium? Why should it not be so? Pauperism
alone prevents it. Let their existence be one of comfort--mere
comfort, not luxury--and there is no limit to the increase of
their numbers. In such an event Protestantism would contract into
such narrow limits that in Ireland it would become a thing unknown;
the few sectarians still abiding there would themselvesshare in
the general prosperity, and would possibly of their own accord
return to the bosom of the common mother of Christians.

The question, then, of increase of physical comfort for Irishmen
is one of the utmost importance, and, as the tenure of land is
so closely connected with it, not to this question is the term
side-issue applied. The land-question should be thoroughly
exhausted until the true solution, the real measure, which has
not yet appeared, may be brought to the surface and carried out
to the full. The land-question in all its bearings lies beyond
our competence; not so, certain reasons for believing that the
possession of land is necessary for the complete restoration of
the nation. Manufactures and commercial pursuits are of
secondary importance in a country like Ireland, which is
eminently agricultural. This should not be taken to mean that
such matters are to be neglected, and the Irish to be
discouraged in engaging in them, particularly in their home
manufactures; nor in calling for better laws to help them, at
least for fair dealing as far as legislation goes. But supposing
them completely independent and masters of themselves; supposing
not only the repeal of the Union, but even the separation from
the British organization effected, how could they hope to
compete in manufacturing skill, and science, with the inventive
genius of the American, the systematic comprehensiveness of the
Englishman, or the artistic taste of the French? Goods are
manufactured for the markets of the world, and the Irish are not
yet prepared for such extensive enterprises; and, taking the
characteristics of the race into consideration, it is doubtful
whether they will ever be successful in such ventures.

The same may be said of commerce. When are they likely to have a
navy of their own? They are still Celts, and would it be well
for them to cease to be Celts? The oceans of the globe are
covered with ships bearing the flags of many nations. Suppose
them to unfurl a national flag to the breeze, which is saluted,
wherever met, by the crafts of other civilized nations, when
would it become perceptible among the crowded fleets which
already hold possession of the seas? The broad thoroughfares of
the ocean know two or three national colors; all the others are
so seldom seen, that their presence or absence is alike
unnoticed by the world at large. Among these would the Irish be
numbered, if they engaged in commerce on their own account, and
sailed no longer under British colors.

It is for them, then, to turn their attention to the land, which
is their chief source of wealth. Let them buy it up, or gain it
by long leases, inch by inch and acre by acre, until not only
the bleak bogs and wild mountains of Connaught are again their
own, but the rich meadow-lands and smiling wheat-fields of
Munster and Leinster. Let their brethren in America and
Australia associate with them in this, and thus will they build
up again a true Irish yeomanry and nobility--for nobility has a
new meaning to-day--more glorious, perhaps, than the old one.
Poverty and rags will give place to prosperity and comfort, even
in the lowliest cottages, and mirth and glee will be heard again
in the country from which they have so long been banished.

Is such a picture a dream, and its realization an impossibility?
It is our belief that, to make it a reality, only requires
steadiness of purpose, perseverance, energy, and association.
Fifty years ago it would certainly have seemed a dream; but
matters have advanced within the last half-century, and every
thing is now prepared for such a hoped-for consummation.

II. Together with physical comfort, the culture produced by a
sound and thorough education is the second thing absolutely
necessary for the resurrection of the nation. Education has, at
all times, been of the utmost importance; in our age it is more
so than ever. It may be said that, in the opinion of mankind, it
tends more and more to replace blood. The privileges that once
belonged to rank and birth are now everywhere freely accorded to
a truly-educated man. And here, wealth, which is almost
worshipped by many, cannot altogether take the place of
education. Consequently, a great effort should be made in
Ireland to raise the standard of the intellectual scale of
society. Owing to former tyranny and oppression, the rising must
begin at the lowest grade. But the first impulse has already
been given by the Church of God, and that impulse must continue
and increase with a constantly-accelerated force.

Unfortunately, a false direction has been given it by the state.
The means which will surely defeat this action of the state have
been seen. Nevertheless, it works mischievously for the general
result; and the money paid by the nation has been and still is
squandered for a most unholy purpose, when, if properly applied,
it would be so fruitful of good.

Should the government persevere in its project, one course only
lies open before all true Irishmen; and that is, to ignore the
action of the government, and follow a plan of their own. They
have only to do what the Catholics in France would most
willingly do if the state allowed them; what Catholics in the
United States have been doing for some time, and will have to do
for some time longer--not murmur too loudly at the taxes paid by
them for educational purposes and used so lavishly by the state
without any profit to them; but with steady purpose raise funds
which the state cannot touch, devoted to an object with which
the state cannot interfere, namely, the solid Christian
education of their children under the eyes and chief control of
the Church, with competent and truly religious masters.

Let them reflect that until recently education in Christian
countries was always imparted by the Church of Christ, and that
its secularization is but a work of yesterday; that the effect
of that secularization is manifest enough in the mental anarchy
which grows more prevalent in Europe every day; that the nation
which comes back to the old system, and places again the care of
youth in the hands of religious teachers, is sure to obtain a
far sounder and more effective education than those who take for
teachers of their children men void of faith and remarkable only
for a false and superficial polish, which sooner or later will
be reckoned by all at its true value, and meet only with well-
merited neglect and contempt.

No one will deny that moral training, the first and most
important part of education, is far surer and safer in the care
of religious teachers than in that of mere laymen, whose
morality is often doubtful, and whose reputation is not of the
best. With regard to scientific teaching, the mind of the
religious is not, to say the least, lowered by the holy
obligations which he has contracted: and it is an awkward fact
for those who in a breath uphold secular education and abuse the
religious, that in former ages the men who excelled in arts and
sciences, the geniuses whose works will live as long as the
earth, were either themselves monks or the pupils of monks. A
list of them would fill many pages, and their names are not
unknown to the world.

For the mass of the people, the common level of primary
education with which so many are now satisfied may at least be
as satisfactory in its results when imparted by religious, male
and female, as when under the direction of young men and women
who have received every possible diploma which is at the
disposal of school commissioners or boards of gentlemen invested
with an office, worthy of the gravest attention, but to which
they can devote but very little time.

But the subject may be said to have passed beyond discussion.
The true and authorized leaders of the Irish in such matters,
the Catholic bishops, have already taken the matter into their
own hands; and in a very short time have covered the island with
their schools, with every prospect of a university. It rests
with the government to give or refuse its aid in imparting a
true national education to a nation which is Catholic; but, with
or without this aid, the Irish will have the means of educating
their children rightly; and the culture they receive will
favorably compare with that imparted by rival establishments
fostered by the state, whose pupils will not know a word even of
their own national history, since, in the authorized books,
Ireland has no existence other than that of an unworthy subject
of the great British Empire.

It was necessary to give prominence to what is here considered
as the most effective means of bringing about the great result
which engages our attention in this chapter. There are secondary
objects which might be treated, but which, in the final working
of the divine will, may be insignificant. For, to repeat what
has been said before, the restoration of the nation which is now
progressing so steadily almost unaided by any action of man,
however much he may indulge in agitation, is the work of God,
and before long will so manifest itself to all. Meanwhile it is
enough to assert in general terms that Ireland is entitled to
all those things which render a people happy and contented. That
wished-for state is not far off; let them continue to be active
in its pursuit. A previous chapter has already touched upon the
great means to be employed in bringing this about: _association_,
whose centre should be Ireland, and whose branches should
spread wherever Irishmen have established themselves; whose
guides should be the clergy, but its chief workers, intelligent
and energetic laymen. On this point it is desirable particularly
to be rightly understood; it is not our purpose to say that in
such a work laymen ought not to cooperate, or even to lead; with
the memory of O'Connell before us, such a thing would be
impossible; on the contrary, the external working of the whole
scheme should be placed in the hands of good, active, and
intelligent laymen. They are the proper instruments for carrying
on such a work actively and efficaciously; they form, at least
numerically, the principal part of the moral power of the nation,
and that power should be developed on a larger scale than it
has ever yet been. But the first impulse should be given by the
moral leaders, rulers of the Church. Let the nation work under
the guidance, the leadership of the men who alone stood by them
when all else had been lost, who, in fact, by preserving their
religion, preserved to them their nationality; let them work
under their eyes and with their sanction, and assuredly their
labor will not be labor in vain.

What will the final result be of such a cooperation of workers?
The formation or rather consolidation of a truly Christian and
Catholic people; a most remarkable phenomenon in this wonderful
nineteenth century! It would seem that they have thus far been
deprived of a government of their own only to win a government
at last which shall be, what is so sadly wanted in these days,
Christian and Catholic. Modern governments have broken loose
from Christianity; they have declared themselves independent of
all moral restraint; they have pronounced themselves supreme,
each in its own way; and, to be consistent, they have become
godless. Donoso Cortes has shown this admirably in his work on
"Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism." The sad spectacle
which in our age meets the eye of the Christian, is universal;
there is no longer a Catholic nation; Christendom has ceased to
exist. This is held by the statesmen of to-day to be a vast
improvement on the old social system. Medieval barbarism, as
they term it, has, according to them, met with just condemnation;
and to return to it now, would be to drag an advanced age
centuries backward, a horror which no sane man could contemplate.

Undoubtedly there were many abuses under the old regime, which
the most sincere Christian regrets, and could not wish to see
restored, or again attempted. But, its great feature, the inner
link which bound the system together, its unity under the
guidance of the universal Church, was the only safeguard for the
general happiness of mankind. This admirable unity has been
broken into fragments; each part does for itself, and thus the
world lies at the mercy of Might, and each nation goes about
like "a strong man armed, keeping his house."

Even Heeren, a writer who is strongly Protestant and liberal, is
driven to confess in his "History of the Political System of
Europe," that the reign of Frederick the Great, in Prussia, was
"immediately followed by those great convulsions in states,
which gave the ensuing period a character so different from the
former. The contemporary world, which lived in it, calls it the
revolutionary; but it is yet too early to decide by what name it
will be denoted by posterity, after the lapse of a century."

After a brief review of the various states as they existed
toward the middle of the last century, he adds: "The efforts of
the rulers to obtain unlimited power had overthrown the old
national freedom in all the states of the Continent; the
assemblies of the states had disappeared, or were reduced to
mere forms; nowhere had they been modelled into a true national

He does not see that, in order to obtain that "unlimited power,"
the rulers had thrown off the yoke of Church authority
everywhere, and that Christendom disappeared with the "old
national freedom" as soon as the key-stone of the edifice, the
papacy, was ejected from its place.

Nevertheless, he was keen enough to perceive it necessary to
call in armed force to uphold that usurped power of rulers:

"For the strength of the states no other criterion was known
than standing armies. And, in reality, there was scarcely any
other. By the perfection which they had attained, and which kept
pace almost with the growing power of the princes, the line of
partition was gradually drawn between them and the nations;
_they_ only were armed; the _nations_ were defenceless."

This great German historian carries his views further still, and
confesses that, "if the political supports were in a tottering
condition, the moral were no less shattered. The corner-stone of
every political system, the sanctity of legitimate possession,
without which there would be only one war of all against all,
was gone; politicians had already thrown off the mask in Poland;
the lust of aggrandizement had prevailed . . . . The
indissoluble bond connecting morals and politics being broken,
the result was to make egotism the prevailing principle of
public as well as private life."

Admirable reflections, doubtless, but incomplete; the
Protestantism of the writer not allowing him to perceive that,
the only sure defender of morality having been discarded,
egotism could not but prevail. Therefore does he complain, being
blind to the true cause of the disorder, that "democratic ideas,
transported from America to Europe, were spread and cherished in
the midst of the monarchical system--ready materials for a
conflagration far more formidable than their authors had
anticipated, should a burning spark unhappily light upon them.
Others had already taken care to profane the religion of the
people; and what remains sacred to the people when religion and
constitution are profaned?"

This last observation, thrown in at the end of some very sound
considerations, would have made them far more striking, had it
appeared at their head as the great source of all the
catastrophes which ensued. But it requires a Catholic eye to
take in the whole truth, and a Catholic tongue to give the right
explanation of history, as of all things else.

Many reflections similar to those above quoted have been made by
non-Catholic writers, and the defenders of the Church have
spoken with clearness and energy throughout. Nevertheless, the
evil has continued to grow more universal and more alarming,
until, to-day, no principle on which the social fabric can
securely stand is acknowledged by those who rule the exterior
world. And of what Heeren calls the violation of "the sanctity
of legitimate possession," let Poland and many other states
speak, nay, those of the Father of the faithful himself, to
whose warning voice rulers have now so long persistently turned
a deaf ear. Where are now even the fragments of that "corner-
stone" of the old "political system?"

Such is the state of affairs, not only in Europe, but generally
throughout the world, so that the Catholic Church has at length
entered fully upon that stage of her existence when she possesses
_individual_ subjects full of tender affection and devotedness,
whose number, thank God! increases every day, but not a single
_State_ which acknowledges her as its director and teacher.

Ireland may be destined to become the first one which shall
acknowledge her, and set an example to the rest. If ever she
enjoys self-government, she will surely do so, for Catholic she
is to the core, and Catholic she cannot but remain.

When it was said that home-rule would not serve as a sure
panacea for all her evils, it will be understood as applying to
the actual moment and nothing else. That it would not be a good
thing for her ever to enjoy real self-government was never in
our mind. Moral force is bringing this nearer to her; and step
by step she is learning how to walk without support. Already,
she possesses something of political franchise, and enjoys
municipal government more truly than Frenchmen do after all
their social convulsions.

There are men, Irishmen even, who pretend that she would subside
into anarchy if her destiny were confided to her own care. They


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