Слике страница

Mr. Froude, on the contrary, who, ever since he renounced his own orders, seems to regard the clergy of every denomination with especial antipathy; who has but little favour for Laud in England, for Usher and Bramhall, or even for Jeremy Taylor in Ireland, denounces the Roman Catholic priests as those to whom, above all, the worst horrors of the rebellion were due. The lay leaders he describes as the 'less violent party,' while the priests pronounced ‘all heretics disentitled to mercy. He affirms that when at one great meeting held to discuss the arrangements for the outbreak, they found themselves overruled, they departed unconvinced, and determined to take their own way' (i. 95). Again, when he speaks of the rebels as 'not human beings, not even human savages, but ferocious beasts,' he lays the guilt of the unnatural transformation on the priests, and quotes with cordial approval the explanation of Sir John Temple, the author of exaggerations so preposterous that he is himself forced to discard some of his imputations, that the priests had so charmed the Irish, and had laid such bloody impressions on them, as it was held a mortal sin to give relief or protection to the English' (i. 101).

Yet, if Mr. Froude were strictly faithful to his principles, the ferocity imputed to the priests might have expected a little more indulgence; since there is no maxim which he inculcates with more reiterated and emphatic persistence than that lenity and toleration are proofs of and synonyms for weakness and impolicy ; that coercion and persecution are sound in principle, and certain to be successful in practice. The very climax of his eulogy of Cromwell is that 'the religion of the Irish, out of which the worst of these crimes had originated, was proscribed' by him (i. 136). The worst fault committed by William III. was that he had indulgence for the Irish race and the Irish religion, and repeated 'an experi. ment which had been tried many times, and had invariably failed’ (207), that he left the conquest imperfect,' when he had the opportunity, 'without real injustice, of making Ireland a Protestant country' (209) by renewing the horrors of Drogheda and Wexford at Limerick, and, it must be presumed, expelling those whom he could neither slaughter nor convert. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes is not usually considered a very bright page in the annals of Louis XIV. But our English historian is so far from blaming it that he sees in that worst act of that profligate and hard-hearted bigot only an example which the British Sovereign should have followed; and, declaring that the belief of the Roman

had thaa Prot and whese who the Ed

convert. The revothose whom he merick,

thell as policy ess at va

Irelan such beca hardly hakor speak

Catholic ‘makes rebellion a duty,' lays it down as an unanswerable proposition that ‘no Government need keep terms with such a creed when there is power to abolish it,' and that ‘to call the repression of such opinion by the name of religious persecution is a mere abuse of words' (i. 213).

These passages are sufficient to show how absolutely opposed to each other are the guiding principles of these writers, though Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Lecky are Protestants as well as Mr. Froude; while another of his propositions as to the civil policy which England has generally pursued towards Ireland, is no less at variance with the creed accepted by the Irish writers than his notions of wise and just ecclesiastical government. As he reads the annals of the last century, the

difficulty' of ruling Ireland arises from what has been at once the honour and perplexity of English relations from first to last, because the effort of the conquerors was to govern Ireland, not as a vassal province, but as a free nation' (i. 18). Had such been the policy of England in the eighteenth century, it would hardly have needed the justification of which, as we have seen, the author speaks as supplied by the history of the rebellion of 1641. But we fear that we must rather agree with Mr. Lecky that for many years that policy was one of great legislative injustice, and that the restrictions imposed by English jealousy on Irish commerce proved that it was as a vassal and dependency, not as a member of an empire governed by equal laws and possessing equal rights, that Ireland was, during the first four reigns after the revolution, regarded by the English Ministers and Parliament.

It would, however, occupy too much of our space, and be a wearisome rather than a profitable task to dwell further on the difference of the light in which the writers, all men of acknowledged ability, and all no doubt equally earnest in the pursuit of what they believe to be truth, view and record the same transactions. It will be, we hope, a more useful employment to endeavour to construct from their conflicting narratives and doctrines a brief sketch of the policy pursued towards Ireland by the English Government since the final establishment of William III. as the unresisted sovereign of both islands. The period, almost 190 years, may be divided into two portions of nearly equal duration, from 1692 to 1782, and from 1782 to the present day. As to the first, if Mr. Lecky brings a heavy indictment against England, his charge is fully admitted by Mr. Froude, in a passage not quite consistent with that which we quoted just now, but in which he charges her with having 'refused a legislative union when

Ireland asked for it,' and deliberately destroyed Irish manufactures, ruined Irish trade, and demoralised the entire people. And it has recently been confessed with still greater frankness by a great English orator, who has compared the treatment of Ireland by England to that of Poland by Russia. And though, in this instance, we may believe that he was hurried by the excitement of the moment into some rhetorical exaggeration, we fear that the most sober examination will force upon us the conviction that too hard things can scarcely be said of the policy adopted by England towards her weaker sister in the former of the two periods indicated.

The repression of Irish trade, which both Froude and Lecky so justly stigmatise, had indeed been commenced before the Revolution. As early as 1663, Ireland had been excluded from the provisions of the Navigation Act, an exclusion which at once destroyed a lucrative traffic which she had established with New England: while an express enactment prohibited the export of cattle, and even of cured meat and dairy produce from Ireland to England, lest the value of English farming-stock should be diminished by the competition. This indeed was an isolated act of narrow-minded tyranny; but tranquillity was no sooner re-established in England by the Revolution, than the same spirit of selfish monopoly began to influence the whole course of English legislation for Ireland. A great portion of the country is admirably adapted for sheep-farming, and Irish wool had a value second to no other in Europe. Manufactories of cloths began to arise in different parts of the country. “Great numbers of English, Scotch, and even foreign manufacturers came over and settled in Ireland. Many thousands of men were employed in the trade, and all the signs of a great rising trade were visible' (ii. 209). Mr. Lecky argues truly-

“If it was an object of statesmanship to make Ireland a happy country, to mitigate the abject and heart-rending poverty of its people, and to develop among them habits of order, civilisation, and loyalty, the encouragement of this industrial tendency was of the utmost moment. If it was an object beyond all others to make Ireland a Protestant country, the extension of a rich manufacturing population, who would, for some generations at least, be mainly Protestant, would do more to effect this object than any system of penal laws or proselytising schools. Unfortunately, there was another object which was nearer the heart of the English Parliament than either of these. After the Revolution, commercial influence became supreme in its councils. There was an important woollen manufacture in England, and the English manufacturers urgently petitioned for the total destruction of the rising industry in Ireland.'

formatiexcuses the prayer he Irish h Eng

their aed as a prout resource, th Macaulay finadmi

And this petition was complied with! Macaulay is never weary of extolling the statesmanlike wisdom of William III.; but surely his statesmanship was confined to foreign diplomacy and the formation of leagues for foreign war. Yet Mr. Froude actually excuses the English Parliament, and represents its compliance with the prayer of this shameful petition, as a not unnatural punishment of the Irish House of Lords, for rejecting a Bill which had been passed in England for the security of his Majesty's person. The Irish House of Commons had passed it; and both Commons and Lords passed the Association bond which accompanied it. But the Lords rejected some of the clauses which seemed to press too hardly on the Roman Catholics; and, in spite of their acceptance of the Association bond, this rejection was regarded as a proof thatIreland was determinately disloyal,' and that 'the only resource, therefore, was to keep her weak and miserable' (i. 261). Lord Macaulay finds a still stranger apology for the English policy, which he admits indeed to have been in principle altogether indefensible, in the circumstance that 'the Act imposing restrictions on the exportation of woollen goods from Ireland was practically unimportant, inasmuch as prohibitions were not needed to prevent the Ireland of the seventeenth century from being a great manufacturing country, nor could the most liberal bounties have made her so. The jealousy of commerce, however, is as fanciful and unreasonable as the jealousy of love' (v. 55). And with a still stranger disregard of the duty of the ruling powers to endeavour to combine the different races in the island into an united nation, he contends that, unjust as the Act was, the ‘Irishry'were not affected by it; and that the English colonists alone had a right to complain.

It is not easy to believe that both Houses of the English Parliament were mistaken when they represented to William the 'increase of the woollen manufacture in Ireland.' . . . *The goodness of the materials for making all manner of cloth,' and the immigration of English into Ireland, for the

1 Mr. Lecky points out that Lord Macaulay's account of the Parliamentary proceedings of 1689 and 1690 towards Ireland is not quite fair, since he passes over in absolute silence' the fact that a Bill, “in its essential characteristics, precisely similar' to the Irish Act of Attainder,

was passed by the English House of Commons; was passed with slight amendments by the House of Lords, and only lost by a prorogation ;' that other Bills with the same object were introduced in 1690, and the last passed the Commons December 23, 1690,' but was apparently lost also by the prorogation of Parliament before it came to the Lords (ii. 194-5).

at those of Englandreland was incbat: the prosperity his con

purpose of carrying on and extending that manufacture.' And a better judge of such a matter than Lord Macaulay, Arthur Young, bears testimony to the correctness of their statement as to the facts; while, with a more patriotic statesmanship than the king himself, he is vehement in his condemnation of the narrow idea that the prosperity of the woollen fabrics of Ireland was inconsistent with the welfare of those of England ;' and, writing in 1780, adds : 'It would at present be fortunate for both kingdoms if these errors had been confined to the last century.' 2

It might, indeed, have occurred to men but moderately versed in the history of nations that, if a people were poor and disaffected, the way to convert its disaffection into loyalty was to turn its poverty into competency by the encouragement of profitable industry ; but the jealousy of the English manufacturers, however unfounded, as Lord Macaulay regards it, or illiberal and unworthy, as Mr. Young pronounces it, was untiring; and, as has too often happened, the commercial interest was strong enough to prevail with the Government. The Act was passed. Even the promise made by William to counterbalance the depression of the woollen by the encouragement of the linen manufacture was violated. Not only was Ireland excluded from all participation in the bounties granted for the exportation of different kinds of linen from Great Britain to foreign countries, but Irish linens were entirely excluded from England by heavy duties, and absolutely excluded from the colonies' (L. ii. 212). So universal was the desire felt by English traders to crush all rivalry from Ireland, that petitions were even presented to Parliament, complaining of Irish fishermen for catching herrings on their own coast ; and 'there

1 The petitions of both Houses to William, with his answer, I shall do all that in me lies to discourage the woollen manufacture in Ireland, and to encourage the linen manufacture there, and to promote the trade of England,' are given by Arthur Young in his Tour in Ireland, Part II. 106–7.

> Strange to say, even at the present day efforts are made to check the growth of the manufacture of woollens, which has been revived with great success in some of the southern counties; and those by the very men whom every principle of common sense, as well as patriotism, should have induced to labour for its extension, the Irish landowners. The manufactures of frieze, and of cloths of the same fabric of the Scotch tweeds, have recently attained a high degree of excellence, and consequently of popularity. The Blarney tweeds of Mr. Mahony, of Blarney, equal the best productions of the Scotch looms. But the landlords of the district set their faces against the increase or enlargement of manufactories ; even altogether refusing manufacturers land to erect such buildings, lest the increase of population which would thus be produced should in the end increase the poor-rates.

« ПретходнаНастави »