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To these praises which he justly bestows on the earlier writer, Mr. Lecky himself is equally entitled, as also to that of taking a broader view of his whole subject, and displaying far more of that philosophical power to trace the connexion of events, and also to estimate the characters of the actors in them, which is perhaps the most important, as it certainly is the most attractive quality, in a history which aims at being a possession for ever. In weighing the characters of our most eminent statesmen, he seems to us to be admirably impartial and fair. We do not, indeed, always agree with his estimate of them. When, for instance, he affirms that Walpole 'deliberately made corruption the basis of his rule' (i. 365), we prefer agreeing with Burke, who may be said to have spoken not without some personal knowledge of the facts to which he was alluding, that'he was far from governing by corruption. He governed by party attachments. The charge of systematic corruption is less applicable to him perhaps than to any minister who ever served the Crown for so great a length of time.' And still less can we follow him when he quotes with evident approbation Grattan's comparison between the two Pitts, that the father was not perhaps so good a debater as his son; but was a much better orator, a greater scholar, and a far greater man' (ii. 472). The first two phrases in this eulogy may perhaps balance one another ; though when Mr. Lecky admits that 'Lord Chatham's taste was far from pure, and that there was much in his speeches that was florid and meretricious, and not a little that would have appeared absurd bombast, but for the amazing power of his delivery' (ib. 470), he makes serious deductions from his claim to the best kind of eloquence; deductions which no one ever made from the speeches of his son. But to assert that the man who, as his sister said of him, knew but two books, the Æneid and the Faerie Queene, was superior in scholarship to one who, with the exception of his rival Fox, had probably no equal for knowledge of the great authors of antiquity in either house of Parliament, is little short of a palpable absurdity; and in all that constitutes the real greatness of a man or a statesman, we should not fear to undertake the task of upholding the son's renown against that of any of his predecessors, contemporaries, or successors.
We may, however, suspect that Grattan's estimate of the two men was in some degree coloured by his personal feelings. With Lord Chatham he had never been in antagonism. On
1 'Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.'
one great subject, the dispute with America, he had been his follower and ally ; advocating in the Irish House of Commons the same cause which Chatham upheld in the English House of Peers. But to Pitt he had been almost constantly opposed. By Pitt he and his party, whether in the English, or, so long as it lasted, in the Irish Parliament, had been repeatedly defeated. The Union, of which he had been the most indefatigable' opponent,' and to which he was never entirely reconciled, had been carried in his despite ; and it was hardly unnatural that the recollection of his long and unsuccessful warfare should in some degree bias his judgment, and prompt him to an undeserved disparagement of the minister by whose wisdom and firmness he had been so often overborne.
We may, perhaps, hereafter find another opportunity of examining the author's views of the English statesmen who flourished, and of the general policy pursued by successive administrations, during the century in question. “At present we have a different object in view. Ireland' is still, as it has been for many generations, one of the chief difficulties of the Government, and Mr. Lecky, who is an Irishman, has devoted more than a quarter of the two volumes before us to an elaborate investigation of the causes which have made her such ; going back, for that purpose, beyond the limits indicated on his title-page, and tracing, with care and sufficient minuteness, the history of his country from the completion of the English ascendancy, which 'dates only from the great wars of Elizabeth, which broke the force of semi-independent chieftains, crushed the native population to the dust, and established the complete authority of English law' (i. 95). In its earlier stages, he is far from looking on that ascendancy as a blessing to the Irish ; on the contrary, he affirms that in its history we may trace with singular clearness the perverting and degrading influence of great legislative injustices, and the manner in which they affect in turn every element of national well-being' (ib. 92). And he excuses or justifies the large space which he has devoted to that part of his subject, by the assertion
i Sir Archibald Alison, in the second part of his History of Europe, c. x. $ 53, has fallen into the strange mistake of asserting that he (Grattan) had been a warm supporter of the Union.' He was so far from being so, that, having retired from Parliament for a while, he procured a seat in the winter of 1799 for the express purpose of opposing it ; paying for it, according to Lord Stanhope. quoting the Cornwallis Correspondence (Life of Pitt, iii. 222), 2,400l. And on January 15, 1800, he spoke against the project, as the same writer relates, with extraordinary weight and force ; and he levelled his declamation more especially against the published speech of Mr. Pitt.'
that “this portion of the history of the empire has usually been treated by English historians in a very superficial and perfunctory manner ; and it has been obscured by many contradictions, by much prejudice and misrepresentation' (i. 92).
The same history has been related by a very popular English writer of the present day, Mr. Froude, in what certainly cannot be described as a superficial manner; but it is not improbable that Mr. Froude's work, The English in Ireland, may have been among the causes which have induced Mr. Lecky to devote so much of his attention to the subject, since he is so far from acquitting that historian of prejudice and misrepresentation, that he expressly charges him with deliberately intending to blacken to the utmost the character of the Irish people, and especially of the Irish Catholics' (i. 101). The accusation is a heavy one, and though, perhaps, not without plausible grounds, one which we cannot allow to be deserved. We do not believe that Mr. Froude ever knowingly misstates a fact, or intentionally misrepresents a motive ; but he is undoubtedly a most hasty writer, careless even in the quotation of documents accessible to all ; and he writes under the influence of the strongest prejudices and the most singular theories, which certainly find abundant expression in these volumes. He is at all times a professed advocate of strong measures, and even his narrative of the proceedings of Henry VIII. does not contain more startling eulogies of persecution and remorseless bloodshedding than the work before us. Nay, for one passage we should search the records of the fiercest fanaticism in vain to find a parallel. Not content with defending the hideous massacres of Drogheda and Wexford, massacres in which, if the peaceful victims were Irish, the soldiers who perished were English, he actually laments that - forty years later there was not a second Cromwell before Limerick'--(i. 126)-in other words, that the chivalrous Sarsfield, that his heroic garrison, who a year before had beaten back the English besiegers from ramparts which their ‘French allies' had pronounced indefensible for a single day, and that a civil population then only exceeded in numbers by those of Dublin and Cork, and in industry and prosperity second to none in the island, were not ruthlessly slaughtered for the sole offence of upholding the cause of one who in their eyes had never forfeited his right to their allegiance. Mr. Froude deliberately calls it an act of weak, mistaken amiability' in William (not often so accused) 'to refuse to look upon the people of Limerick as rebels when they were in arms for one whom they regarded as their natural sovereign, and to shrink
VOL. VII.—NO. XIII.
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from pushing a war to extremities which must then be followed by fresh forfeitures' (i. 195). A history, written in the spirit which dictated these sentences may well be thought by Irish writers to require an antidote, though Mr. Froude perhaps meant his own work as in some degree an antidote to the narrative of one passage in Irish history, the Cromwellian Settlement as it is called, which a year or two before had been given to the world by Mr. Prendergast, to which indeed he refers on one occasion with a warm acknowledgment of its impartiality and candour. In his view, he and Mr. Prendergast differ, not on the facts of Irish history, but' on the opinion to be formed about them ;' and he accounts for the difference by explaining that Mr. Prendergast ‘writes as an Irish patriot, he himself as an Englishman'(i. 134, note).
It is not invariably correct to say that he and the Irish writers always agree in their statement of facts, and one remarkable instance in which they differ is of great importance in the eyes of the English historian, “because the justification of the subsequent policy of England towards Ireland depends upon the truth of events of which the recollection was kept alive for a century by a solemn annual commemoration' (i. 100). He is alluding to Sir Phelim O'Neil's rebellion of 1641, in his narrative of which he differs widely from Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Lecky as to matters of fact, as to the motives for the insurrection, as to the share which religious fanaticism and the Roman Catholic priests had in it, and as to the number of its victims. According to his view it had its origin in antipathies of race and religion ; and its primary objects were “the utter extinction of the English settlement and the English religion at once and for ever. As the Irish writers regard it, the end first proposed was solely the recovery of the land from the English settlers whom James had placed in possession of it, the undoing of the plantation of Ulster and of some of the more southern counties, by the expulsion of the foreign intruders; and, though neither of them denies that the violence by which alone such ejections could be accomplished gradually grew by its own indulgence and success into a ferocity which was abhorrent to the original leaders,” they nevertheless believe that massacre formed no
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1 Leitrim, Longford, King's County, and Wexford (Pr. p. 45).
2 It may be observed that Mr. Froude himself, though in one place he speaks of Sir Phelim's barbarities, in another page quotes evidence that he was so far from approving the murders which were committed, that he actually hanged some of the perpetrators, and his own foster-brother among them (i. 107, note).
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part of the original design, and that the number of victims who did perish has been exaggerated with more than the usual licence of party animosity. Mr. Froude, though too shrewd and experienced a judge of evidence to adopt the assertions of Sir John Temple, that 150,000 were slain in two months, and 300,000 in two years (the smaller number exceeding that of all the Protestants in the island), quotes a computation of 20,000 as 'a moderate and probable estimate of those who were killed in the first two months' (i. 112, note). Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Lecky contend that there is no 'positive evidence of the slaughter of an eighth part of that number, and produce such irresistible proof of the successful care in many instances taken by the insurgents to save the lives of those whom they had expelled from their homes, that we regard the balance of probability as greatly in their favour.
Another question of fact arising out of the same event shows the disagreement of Mr. Froude and Mr. Lecky in an equally marked degree, and is even more worthy of attention, because the religious differences, which in those days divided the population, are still the principal cause of its disquietude. With the passion for the recovery of the land Mr. Lecky admits that zeal for the Roman Catholic religion was combined in the minds of the rebels. But it was a defensive zeal, arising out of a fear that the Puritan Parliament in England was inflexibly bent on the extirpation of that religion. Several priests had recently been hanged for no offence but that of celebrating the mass; and when the King asserted his prerogative of mercy to reprieve others, their pardon was formally complained of in the House of Commons. No wonder, therefore, that the Roman Catholic clergy in general became alarmed for their personal safety. But, though Mr. Lecky admits that from the first they favoured the insurrection, and though he brands two especially, one a bishop named Maguire, as instigators of and actors in some of the worst atrocities of all, he affirms that the majority deprecated, and, so far as they could, prevented bloodshed. He cites their treatment of Bishop Bedell, who, though he had been actively engaged in proselytising, and one of the most conspicuous and uncompromising opponents then living of the Catholic faith,' was treated by the rebels when he fell into their hands with uniform deference. When he died in 1643, a rebel guard of honour fired a volley over his grave, and a priest pronounced his panegyric (ii. 167). And he concludes that on the whole a candid reader will rather wonder that the part played by the priests was not larger.'