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the destructive hands of the Danes.* They imagined, that the perusal of such works kept alive the spirit of the natives, and kindled them to rebellion by reminding them of the power, independency, and prowess of their ancestors. The public mind upon this subject has been long changed: two centuries have gone by, since Sir John Davies said, that “ had this people been
granted the benefit of the English laws, it would go infinitely “ farther towards securing their
obedience, than the destruction “ of all the books and laws ever published in this kingdom.”.... We have happily lived to see a legislative union of the two countries, which will, it is trusted, by the natural workings of the British Constitution, go further in three years towards the destruction of national prejudice and disaffection, than a mere communication of laws did in three centuries.
Notwithstanding this legislative caution against historical prostitution, few histories are so charged with fable, as the An. nals of Ireland. For besides such historiographers, as submitted their productions to the investigation of the Fes, every family of consequence retained bards to celebrate and record their actions, who from the very nature of their dependant situation could not be expected to administer that historical justice, which the state historians were necessitated to do, as being pensioned by the public, and subjected to the authority of the triennial convocation. These private histories being written in verse, admitted of all the aids of poetical fire and fancy, to raise, flatter and provoke the passions. Large and ample revenues were assigned to the public heralds, physicians, harpers and bards: and although they were hereditary, yet, as before observed, the eldest son did not regularly succeed to the employment and estate, unless he were the most accomplished of his race in his particular profession.
To this day the native Irish have a peculiar taste for music and poetry: every excellence and extraordinary talent is with them still holden in the highest estimation; as it formerly was rewarded with emolument and honour. Anciently the arts of poetry and music were cultivated by the Irish (or Scots as they were then called) to a degree of extravagance. The manners of the people were engrafted on this stock. The arts themselves were considered to be of divine original, and ignorance of them was judged a sufficient exception to a man's elevation to any important service or dignity in the state. The history of their nation, all the placits or acts of their legislators, and all their systems, philosophical, metaphysical and theological, were con
• The like was done in Scotland under our first Edward.
# In the middle of the last century Bishop Berkeley observed " though it' is the true interest of both nations to become one people, yet neither seem apprized of this truth.” Warn. Hist. p. 30.
veyed in the harmony of sound and verse. Such subjects formed the chief diversion of their festive hours. They were sung by their princes' bards and crotaries with vocal and instrumental accompaniments.* Besides the other duties of their profession the bards acted as heralds : clad in white flowing robes, and accompanied by musicians, they marched with the chiefs at the head of their armies, which they animated by martial strains, sung to harp accompaniments. They sung also the funeral panegyrics of such as fell honourably in battle. The excellence of the Irish int athletic accomplishments has through all ages been proverbial. The variety of revolutions, convulsions, dis. tresses and oppressions under which Ireland has at different times laboured, prevents us from tracing any uniform national taste or disposition for the cultivation or improvement of the soil. I
A national style or character of music is the most incontestible proof of the nation's disposition to harmony. Cambrensis, the determined enemy of the Irish nation, says notwithstanding, of all the nations within our own knowledge, tbis is beyond comparison the first in musical compositions. Ann. 4. Mag. This was said some centuries back. Geminiani, that great master of harmony, has more recently affirmed, that he found no music on this side of the Alps so original and beautiful as the Irish airs. O'Con. D. p. 72.
† All athletic accomplishments will be cultivated in proportion to the encouragement given to them by public institutions. Long before the Christian æra one month was dedicated to gymnastic exercises in every year, and that they might be the more generally frequented, the finest season of the year was chosen for this purpose, viz. from the middle of July to the middle of August, which in Ireland is as early as the harvest usually begins. They consisted of all sorts of military exercises, horse and foot races, wrestling, and other such contests of strength and art. They were holden at Tailton, in Meatb, and were established by one of their favourite monarchs, Lugha Lam Fada : and the first of August is to this day called in Irish Lab Lugb Nasa, which means a day devoted to the memory of Lugha. See Keating Reign of Lugba and Ogyg, 3 pt. c. 13.
| Hence the old Irish saying, that Ireland was thrice under the ploughsbare, tbrice it was wood, and thrice it was bare. The historical relations of the former population, cultivation and natural opulence of this island, need no other proof than the various discoveries of their ancient relics, which stamp them with an authenticity, that baffles all scepticism, ignorance or malice. Many unsatisfactory conjectures have been made of the original causes and formation of bogs in Ireland ; every hypothesis which goes to account for them from the conflux of rain, river, and spring waters rotting and rendering the surface of the soil spungy, or from the neglect of cultivation, or any other gradual cause, seems untenable, if we credit the daily discoveries made under the boggy substance, of every species of trees, always lying in the same direction (from west to east) hazle trees in full bearing, the furrowed relicts of tillage, culinary utensils still filled with unctuous substance, all sorts both of military and civil implements useful and ornamental, of massy gold, silver, brass and composition, all of equal and great atiquity: all which circumstances bespeak .some sudden convulsion of nature, and that in the summer season, which overwhelmed the country and at once encrusted the then cultivated surface, with all that was upon it, with this spungy substance, the careful removal of which at this day demonstrates a former state of cultivation and opulence. The silence of all historians upon such a sudden calamity or visitation of God upon the land, is certainly a strong presumption against this hypothesis. And that
The obscurity of the first period of the History of Pagan Ireland was put an end to by letting in the light of the Gospel: for with the introduction of Christianity a new set of historians or annalists sprung up, new repositories of learning were established, foreign connections were much extended, and the learned languages were brought into use. It is to be lamented, that the Christian spirit of candor and truth has so little influenced most modern historians of Christian Ireland. Suffice it to state, what is indeed asserted by all ancient authors and admitted by the most respectable modern writers, that St. Patrick was sent* by Celestine Bishop of Rome to preach the Gospel to the Irish, together with twenty assistants eminent for their virtue and learning.+ Under the blessing of God, St. Patrick and his coadjutors applied themselves with the utmost assiduity to the work of their inission; and their success exceeded all human expectations. In no land did the Gospel make such rapid progress; in none was it so slightly opposed at it's first introduction. The people, says an historian, received the doctrines of Christianity with a spiritual sort of violence. Those, therefore, who discover the Ireland formerly superabounded (as it certainly still does, if properly explored and worked) with gold, silver, lead, tin, copper, coals and other minerals, is incontestable from the discoveries of half-worked mines, and the solidity of implements of gold and silver constantly discovered; the laws for the annual or occasional payment of given quantities of gold and silver; the concurrence of all ancient historians and constant recent appearances, insomuch that the parliament of Ireland in 1796, voted 10001. to be applied towards making an experiment for working a gold mine in the mountains of Wicklow. 36 Geo. III. c. 1. s. xxxi: Many pounds of pure gold having been washed down from these mountains about that time.
* Whether or no it pleased the Almighty to confirm the preaching of this apostle of the Irish by all or any of the signs and prodigies, which are recorded in the early history of his mission is irrelevant to the scope of this history to examine. But it is material to know, that the faith which was preached hy St. Patrick to, and received by the Irish, was, that which is now denominated the Roman Catbolic Faith. It could in fact have been no other. For St. Pa. trick received his Christian Education, as well as his Surname Patricius at Rome: nor is it to be presumed that Pope Celestine sent St. Patrick to preach other doctrines, than what he himself maintained : and what these were may be easily collected, not only from the writings of St. Patrick and some of his co-apostles in that country, but from those of his cotemporaries, Sts. Hierome, Ambrose, Augustine, &c. &c. After the introduction of Christianity and the establishment of a regular Hierarchy throughout the island, the communication of Ireland with Rome became, by the intervening distractions of the continent, less frequent than it had been. In about two centuries after the establishments made by St. Patrick, there broke out a sort of schism between the Church of Ireland and the Church of Rome, not indeed upon any dogmatical points of faith or religion, but upon the mere point of Ecclesiastical Discipline, as to the mode of computing the time for celebrating Easter. After some contention the Irish Church submitted to the Roman Ordinance. The native Irish boast that never since this difference has the Irish Hierarchy been interrupted.
+ Dr. Warner admits that be went to Rome to be consecrated for his mission. Hist. 273. St. Patrick flourished in the 5th century, and was cotemporary with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, &c. VOL. I.
hereditary traces of a national spirit under the various modifications, which time produces, will not wonder, that what the nation so received, it should adhere to with a violent sort of tenacity: and it is certainly a political axiom, that tenderness and even reverence are to be paid to the conscientious convictions of a people, be they what they may.
Whether the facility, with which the first Christian missiona. ries propagated their divine doctrines, were in any manner owing to the superior state of letters and other civil cultivation in Ireland, is now difficult to determine. It has indeed been said, that Christianity ever met with the least opposition from the most learned and civilized nations. But how does this accord with the persecutions from heathen Rome? Certain it is, that Christianity was introduced into Ireland with less change or violence to the civil institutions of the country, than in any instance recorded in history; and it is truly singular, that within the short space of five years after St. Patrick had opened his mission, he was summoned to sit and assist in the convention or parliament of Tarah. He was appointed one of the famous Committee of Nine, to whoin was intrusted the reform of the ancient Civil History of the Nation, so as to render it instructive to posterity. Literary establishments had subsisted in Ireland from the most remote antiquity : and it has been before remarked, that talent and science had ever been in the highest estimation with the Irish nation : it may not then be unfair to conclude, (barring any extraordinary interposition of the Deity) that had not these missionaries particularly exerted themselves in their attentions to erudition, their proselytes would have been less numerous, less tractable and docile than they were. Christian schools and seminaries were established in opposition to those of the Druids: and as Paganism declined, they multiplied and flourished; insomuch that from the 5th to the latter end of the 9th century the Irish nation was preeminently distinguished above all the nations of Europe, as the first seat of literature and science. When we consider, that since Ireland has become connected with, or rather subjected to England, it has ceased to perform the part of a nation on the political theatre of the universe, we bring our minds with difficulty to believe the accounts of her leading eminence on that very theatre before such connection or subjection took place. However, natives, foreigners, friends and enemies, all in perfect unison, extol the præexcellence of that learning of the Irish clergy, which attracted the youth of the most respectable families of every nation in Europe, to their seminaries for education. Venerable Bede, not only confirms this as to his own countrymen, the Anglo-Saxons, but records an instance of national generosity and hospitality in the Irish, which stands single and unprecedented in the annals of mankind. Such of
our ancestors, as went over to Ireland either for education, improvement or for an opportunity of living up to the strictest ascetic discipline, were maintained, taught, and furnished with books without fee or reward.* In Ireland did our great Alfred, receive his education. Bede informs us that the Anglo-Saxon King Oswald applied to Ireland for learned men to teach his people the principles of Christianity. And a foreign writert under the French monarch Charles the Bald, says;" why should “ I mention Ireland ? Almost the whole nation despising the “ dangers of the sea resort to our coasts with a numerous train of philosophers.” In the 7th century the Emperor Charlemagne paid a just tribute to the celebrity of the Irish monarchy, by honouring their sovereign with his alliance and friendship. I This state of preeminence which Ireland so long enjoyed amidst all the nations of Europe, shews to what a degree of con. sequence she is capable of rising, when her native energies and
." A most honourable testimony,” says Lord Littleton, “not only to the “ learning, but also to the hospitality and bounty of that nation.” It would be unjust not to notice that innate spirit of hospitality, which distinguishes the Irish nation from all others. For even to this day amongst the poor natives, so universally does this system of hospitality prevail, tbat a traveller enters the cabin he arrives at, and sits down with as much ease and confidence as he would at home; and is sure of a cordial welcome to a participation of whatever it affords. There was an old Brehon law against septs suddenly breaking up their establishments, and emigrating to other parts of the country, lest the stranger and traveller might be disappointed of that reception and entertainment, which the law presumed them entitled to by a claim of social nature. It is the custom to this day with the native Irish peasants, to unlatch and open the door of their cabins whenever they sit down to what they call a meal. This, amiable and magnificent principle of hospitality is more discernible in the frank participation of the homely fare of the cabin, than in the ostentatious display of refined luxury, which, in the higher orders, has taken place of that genuine principle of benevolence. Leland observes, the Christian clergy were particularly careful to inculcate this value of hospitality. Prelim. Dis. xxxi.
† Henrick of St. Germain.
| A monument of which was preserved in tapestry in the late palace of Ver. sailles, in which the King of Ireland with his harp was in the row of princes in amity with that emperor.
There happened about the year of our Lord 1418, a very notable transaction, which proved the high estimation in which the kingdom of Ireland then vas, and ever had been, holden by the learned of Europe. At the council of Constance the ambassadors from England were refused the rank and precedency, which they claimed over some others; they were not even allowed to rank or take any place as the ambassadors of a nation: the advpcates for France in-' sisted, that the English having been conquered by the Romans, and again subdued by the Saxons, who were tributaries to the German empire, and never governed by native sovereigns, they should take place as a branch only of the German empire, and not as a free nation ; for added they, “ it is evident “ from Albertus Magnus, and Bartholomew Glanville, that the world is di. “ vided into the three parts, Europe, Asia, and Africa (America had not then “ been discovered): Europe was divided into four empires, the Roman, the “ Constantinopolitan, the Irish, and the Spanish.” The English advocates admitting the force of these allegations, claimed their precedency and rank from Henry's being Monarch of Ireland only, and it was accordingly granted. O'Hal. 1. V. 68.