Imatges de pàgina
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ed, (through the wicked counsel of disloyal men,) of assuming a different form; proceeding forward, and gathering strength, until the public peace is threatened. Restore order, command respect for the laws, punish the fiend-like perpetrators of the fearful crimes which have disgraced the country :--but be not satisfied with this. Unless the condition of the peasantry be improved, Ireland cannot remain quiet.

• I think it probable, that noi less than one hundred and fifty millions of money have been drawn out of Ireland since the Union : never to return. How different would the circumstances of that country have been, in regard to civilization, industry, domestic comfort, moral elevation, manufactures, and commerce, with the employment of so considerable a capital as this! On the present system, Ireland never can advance either in agricultural improvement, in manufactures, or in commerce. Retrograde is written upon all. It is impossible, too, for the country to support the present population, under the absentee system. The landlords must return, and make common cause with their distressed tenants : return, under a full conviction of their errors, with a sincere désire of discharging a long neglected duty to their country. If they will not let them prepare for the consequences. The wrongs they are inflicting on their at: dicted country are not easily cognizable by human-laws, but are within the reach of another code. God, who is the guardian of the poor, will vindicate their cause. If attachment to native country be a virtue, and the mark of an honourable mind, what shall we say of that part of the aristocracy and gentry of Ireland who have deserted the land of their forefathers, and who feel no farther interest in it, except to squeeze as high rents as possible out of the almost empty pockets of their oppressed tenants ?

• If they will shut their eyes on the danger which threatens, it will only accelerate the crisis. They may instruct their agents to seize, the poor man's little stock, and force him from the land: this may be done at the point of the bayonet. The land and cabin will then be vacant, but where will be find one hardy enough to occupy the deserted spot? This system may be persevered in, perhaps, until half or more of the estate is without tenants. But I ask, where is all this to end?' pp. 117–119.

But all is pot barren. Some of the estates even of absentees present most cheering exceptions to this gloomy picture. The conduct of the Drapers' Company of the City of London is beyond all praise. They possess estates in the county of Derry to the value of about £10,000 per annum, which, since the year 1816, they have taken more immediately under their own management. On coming into possession of the land at the expiration of a long lease, they resolved that, for a number of years, not less than one third of the rental should be expended in draining, planting, building, the encouraging of agriculture and manufactures, and general improvements. A deputation from their own court was appointed to visit the estates from time to time, that notbing might be trusted to report, but the whole estate be brought so far as possible under their own inspection. The gratitude and attachment of the tenants, the tranquillity and prosperity of the estate, have amply justified the wise and beneficent experiment. To the deputation, the visit has uniformly been in the highest degree gratifying: they have been received like princes—we should rather say, with the genuine feelings of a warm-hearted and generous people towards their benefactors. Knowing this to be the fact, (and we believe it to be by no means a solitary instance of the complete success of a similar policy,) we are fully disposed to admit the sobriety of the Writer's challenge when he exclaims:

• Let no one say, “ I would return, could I consider myself safe

among my tenantry.” Make the trial. Return with a determi. nation to pay off, as speedily as possible, the long arrear, and be assured of your safety. Had I a large estate in that country, and time given me to mature my plans, for the personal and domestic comfort of my tenants, and for their moral elevation, I should not be afraid of sleeping without a bolt. Be but kind to them; let them be satisfied that you are their friend, and they will give you abundant proof of their attachment.

• Give me a chosen band of schoolmasters, and allow me to go forward, without opposition, in the scriptural education of children and adults, and in the circulation of the Bible, and I will enter the most barbarous and disturbed district in all Ireland, without fear; confident, by the blessing of God, of raising the moral character of the people, of inducing respect to the laws of God and man, and of thereby superseding the services of legions of soldiers.

In similar language, the anonymous Author of an eloquent pamphlet which is ascribed to a Catholic barrister of very high respectability, thus appeals to the Administration.

• We would say to the Government, Be not on all occasions an instrument, at the pleasure and at the caprice of a greedy and careless gentry, with which to whip and to goad the people. They will clamour and talk big, and enlarge upon the grievances and hardships of their case. The remedy is in their own hands. Let them educate the people ; let them be kind and considerate landlords. They will tell you, they are not safe in their own houses; they cannot take the air but at the peril of their lives. Ask them, is his Grace the Duke of Devonshire safe when he visits his Irish estates, and goes freely among his tenantry? Are his agents every where in safety, in the house, and on the hill, and in the valley? Then let them go and do likewise. And let not the government of the country, the common protector, as it ought to be, of the poor as well as the rich, forget its dignity and its duty, lending itself upon all occasions to the passions, and the rapacity, and the indolence of an arrogant gentry. Leave, them to the consequences of their own misconduct, and they will be compelled to act right. If they find that government is no longer disposed to be a servant at their command, with whip in hand, to chastise the beggarly and vulgar kinds that dare to mutiny; they

must even try these troublesome and inconvenient means of education and good treatment.'*

But we turn from the political to the moral condition of this much injured country. Among the obstacles which lie in the way of general education and the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, Mr. Steven adverts to the state of the Protestant Church : establishment.

• The vast number of parishes which are without any resident clergy, is an obvious hinderance to the march of education, and cannot fail to involve the rulers of the church of Ireland in a solemn responsibility. It will scarcely be credited, that there is, at this very time, in one district, a space of one hundred square miles, and that not in a thinly inhabited or mountainous part, but in one of the finest counties in Ireland, in which there has neither been a church nor resident clergyman in the memory of man.

• The union of many parishes in one, too, presents a serious impe diment to the intellectual and moral improvement of the people. I will give one instance, out of many, in which eleven parishes are united. This parish has only one protestant minister, although there are priests and coadjutors in it, to the number of about twenty.

• This is, indeed, an alarming evil. The circumstance of there Being no resident clergyman, or, as in the latter case, of a great part of the parish being ten or twelve miles from the church, renders it necessary for the Protestant parishioner, being destitute of clerical service, to apply to the Catholic priest, (who, with his curates, in: variably resides in the parish, there being no non-residents in that church,) for the baptism of his children; so, also, when he is sick or dying, he is often so ignorant as to apply to the same quarter for absolution.

• In this way, there has been a great accession of nominal Protestants to the church of Rome; so that in districts where, fifty or sixty years ago, there was a considerable body of Protestants, there is now scarcely one family left. And had it not pleased Almighty God, in his

great mercy to Ireland, to raise up a noble band of faithful cler

* “ Thoughts and Suggestions on the Education of the Peasantry of Ireland." gro. pp. 58. London. (Cadell) 1820.

+I know what is usually urged by the non-resident clergy, as an excuse for their dereliction of duty. so We have no cure ;" i. e. there are few or no Protestants in the parish. To such I would say, -yout sin is written on the front of your excuse.

It is this wbich has so seriously reduced the number of Protestants. “ You have no cure." Have your Catholic parishioners no souls? Are there not a thousand ways of serving them, in return for their contributions towards your comfort? I fear, the Chief Shepherd, in the great day of account, will not admit of your plea. " You have no cure." I ask, in the name of reason, of religion, and common honesty, why, under these circumstances, you exact your tithes, without an equivalent, from the poor who have another establishment to support ?'

gymen in the Establishment, who preach the Bible doctrines of that church; to institute the Hibernian Bible Society, the London Hibernian Society, the Hibernian Sunday School Society, and other similar instiutions, and to send forth village missionaries; in fifty years, as matters were going on, there would scarcely have been found one Protestant among the lower classes in the country parts of Ireland.' pp. 25-27.

Other obstacles present themselves in the shape of a spurious candour and an intolerant bigotry; but what the Writer considers as a still more formidable enemny than either, is,' that monstrous • incubus, apathy.'. With regard to the first, there is, we are told, an anomalous class in Ireland, who are warmly contending for the political emancipation of the Catholics, but are wholly indifferent as to their ecclesiasticul emancipation ; refusing to exercise their local influence on their estates, to prevent the priests from assuming an arbitrary power over those parents who are willing to have their children educated. • They can stand

by,' says Mr. S., “and see, unconcerned, large schools broken . up, the Scriptures cast out and burned, and the hearts of tbe ? children and ibeir parents almost broken at not being allowed

to attend the schools which they prefer.' The opposition to

Bible schools' on the part of the Romish clergy, has been of late on the increase throughout the whole of the Catholic districts; and bas, in some counties, put on the form of open outrage.

The enemies of education have, in one place, burned a very excellent school-house and a master's dwelling house, and afterwards proceeded cruelly to card the master, and in doing so, they broke two ribs on one side, and one on the other, so that his life was despaired of. In a multitude of instances, the whole of the artillery of the church, allowed in that country, has been opened on the offending parents who dared to exercise the inalienable right of disposing of their children as they pleased. Numbers have, not withstanding, exercised this right, fearless of the consequences, and, in the face of threatenings the most appalling, have continued their children at the schools of the Society; -others, alarmed and terrified, with grief have confessed that they must withdraw them.

• The growing desire of the Catholic parents for the education of their children, has compelled the Priests to open schools in a way of self-defence. In these schools, they can no longer (as formerly they did in what they called schools) abstain from teaching the children to

*"This diabolical process is effected by driving a number of nails through a board, in imitation of a card. They strip the object of their tury, and drag this instrument of torturé up and down the bare back, till the ribs and bach bune are bared. Mortification and death frequently follow.'

read. But, though reading is taught in them, they are, as far as I have observed, wholly destitute of the Scriptures. I have visited very many of them, and never found one copy of either the Rhemish or Doway Testament in use. They appeared altogether destitute of books, no provision being made for their supply. If they had any, which was rare, I found them generally very improper, being just what the cabin of the parents, perchance, could furnish. pp. 36, 7.

Mr. Steven repeats this important assertion still more distinctly, in arguing against the adoption of the Catholic versions. The parents of the children, he says, make no objection to the Protestant version, until excited to it by the priests; and whenever the priest bas in sincerity approved of the introduction of the Doway Testament, he would, if pressed, have consented to the use of the Protestant version.

• The truth is, that the Church of Rome will not allow their own Scriptures, under any circumstances, to be in the hands of the lajty, nor circulated through the schools. In proof of this, I have visited great number of the Catbolic schools, and nerer found in one of them a single copy of the Scriptures!

Some of the most pleasing instances are given of the strong attachment of the children to the schools. The priest may take away our books,' said one boy,' but he cannot take them out of our memories.' In some places, the priest stands at the corner of the street with a whip in one 'hand, and a crucifix in the other, to chastise the children belonging to his flock whom he finds going to the Society's school. Mr. Steven mentions an instance in which this is notoriously practised: the children collect in numbers, and cautiously approach the dreaded corner; a general burst theo takes place, and it is a race between them and the priest. "And there are not a few Protestants,' adds Mr. Steven, who can quietly suffer the priest to take his course, • who would join in the cry against the Protestant minister, were " he to imitate him.'

In spite of all opposition, the cause of education is going forward. So anxious are the parents, in many parts, to obtain it for their children, that the Writer has known them voluntarily offer to build a school-house, and actually help in its erection without wages. It is only, he says, the want of funds, which prevents the Hibernian Society from doubling the number of its schools.* Schools have been successfully instituted in some of the prisons ; in particular, in the county gaol of Sligo. Mr. Steven states, tbat above 130,000 children, and above 7000 adults, have en

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• In one county, a clergyman has pointed out to the Committee eligible situations for thirty schools, which he would be willing to take under his superintendance, but, from the want of funds, it is doubtful whether the Society can pay any attention to the application.

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