« VorigeDoorgaan »
grandfather to our Milefius. The venerable Bede extolls, in the highest manner, the learning, the fanctity, and munificence of the Irish nation, and acknowledges, that by them the Saxons were converted to chriftianity, and inftructed in letters. Nor is Camden lefs diffufive in his acknowledgment of the bounty and humanity of our ancestors; yet this lame Camden, the moment he enters on that part of their history, in which they oppofe the English tyranny and oppreffion, declares them a cruel and barbarous people, though ftill adhering to the fame laws and cuftoms, which made them fo confpicuous in times of freedom and independency! Nor have fubfequent British writers, from that period to this day, blufhed at pouring out the most illiberal and unjust abuses on our country, and her gallant fons. This being the cafe with the South-Britons, what ihall I fay of their northern neighbours? This people, though confeffedly an Irish colony, protected and fupported by the mother in times of diftrefs, and at length, through her means, arriving at the fupreme command of that country-the Irish, the vernacular tongue through the whole ftate two or three centuries ago, and ftill the language of one half-Yet North British writers have, within a century paft, been even, if poffible, more fcurrilous and fevere than their fouthern neighbours. Thus much, I hope, will fuffice, for an eternal answer to all the arguments from Strabo, Mela, and Solinus,'
Here we shall for the present take leave of this Author, intending to give a farther account of his performance in our next Review.
ART. IV. A Philofophical Survey of the South of Ireland. In a Series of Letters to John Watkinson, M. D. 8vo. 6 s. Boards. Cadell.
N this Survey of part of an island, lefs known perhaps to Englishmen than any of the other territories dependent on the British crown, the ingenious Author, to use nearly his own words, presents us with sketches of the country through which he travels; and comparisons of its prefent ftate with that which it formerly exhibited, and is capable of exhibiting in future. Left these representations fhould feem overcharged with ftill life, he heightens and animates the profpect with human figures, as they prefent themselves before him; and to vary the fcenery, interfperfes retrospective, prefent, and future views of manners, customs, and arts. In his progrefs, without any other attention to method than what naturally arifes from the courfe of his pereginations, he judiciously difcuffes a great variety of fubjects, on which he throws much new light. The principal of thefe are, the political fate of Ireland, the neceffity of an union with England, accounts of the Oak-boys, Steelboys, and White-boys; the ftate of religion, and the impolicy of
the penal laws against the Roman Catholics; manufactures, commerce, and agriculture; ancient hiftory, monuments, and remains of antiquity; phyfical obfervations with respect to climate, temperature, &c. and accounts of learned men and artifts; together with a variety of anecdotes occafionally introduced.
In our further account of this miscellaneous work, we shall imitate the Author's general plan, in not following any other method, in the extracts which we shall give from it, than that of prelenting them in the order in which they occur.
The Author's first letters are dated from Dublin. In one of thefe he relates the many ftriking fingularities of a Mr. M-e; a gentleman of fortune, and a member of the Irish parliament; who had lived much at Rome, where he had made a moft pleafing collection of pictures, which the Author vifited at Summerbill, in the neighbourhood of Dublin. This Virtuofo, greatly foaring above his Dutch guides in gardening, and difdaining to piddle with the fpade and fheers, in fhaping his parterre into mathematical figures, and cutting his trees into globes and pyramids, nobly refolved to indulge his minute genius in executing the following gigantesque plan.
Inftead of following nature, fays the Author, in ornamenting his demesne, he took up the whimfical thought of cutting it into the form of a thiftle. I have it from a gentleman, who has often feen the park, that he cut a deep and wide trench, of a mile in circumference for the bulb of the flower, with double ramparts from thence, forming the petals, with clumps of trees representing the down; the avenue to his house was for the ftalk, and the several fields branching from thence, and from each other, delineated the leaves. This indeed was madness, but you must allow there was method in it.'
Speaking of the Irish language, the Author is inclined to ascribe to it a very high antiquity, principally on the authority of Major Vallancy; who has brought to light fome very old Irish manuscripts, particularly one intitled, Lessons for a Prince. It was addressed to that celebrated monarch of Ireland, Brien Boirombe, who exterminated the Danes at the battle of Clontarfe. The style, fays the Author, which is not unlike [that of] the Proverbs of Solomon, marks the very high antiquity of it; and the fine moral and poetical fpirit which animates the whole piece, sufficiently evinces that civilization had made a confiderable progrefs here before the invafion of our fe cond Henry.'
In an effay on the antiquity of this language, the fame learned foldier has fhewn, from a collation of the Irish with the Punic, that the former has a ftrong admixture of the Phonician. His mode of proceeding, fays the Author, is very fatif
factory. He takes that scene of Plautus, wherein a Carthaginian flave is introduced fpeaking in his mother-tongue; and comparing it verbum verbo with the Irish, which is now generally acknowledged to be the pureft dialect of the Celtic, fhews the agreement between the two languages; which is indeed fo ftriking, that even a person who understands neither may perceive it, by a bare inspection of the words.'
We know not whether the Author meant to confider the Irish bowl, or the Cry which the females set up in this country on conducting their dead to the grave, as originating from the Phoenicians: but, after taking notice that this cuftom, or the Conclamatio as it was called by the Romans, was anciently prac tifed by the Hebrews and the Greeks likewise; he adds, that it is evident that the Phoenicians ufed it, from the teftimony of Virgil, who was very correct in the Costume of his characters."The Conclamatio over the Phoenician Dido, as defcribed by him, is fimilar to the Irish cry:
• Lamentis, Gemituque, & fæmineo Ululatu
The very word, Ululatus, or Hulluloo, and the Greek word, of the fame import, have all a ftrong affinity to each other.'
In his progress the author meets with many occafions to lament. the prevailing attention to the breed of fheep, the confequent depopulation of the country, and the neglect of agriculture; as well as the reftriction or rather the fuppreffion of the woolen manufacture, which he endeavours to prove, has been ruinous to Ireland, is injurious to England, and beneficial only to France. He likewife thews the bad policy of our penal laws against the numerous Roman Catholics of this kingdom; for the repeal of which he ftrongly pleads, both on the principles of equity and policy. In anfwer to thofe who exclaim against the virulence of Irish Popery; he obferves that though our laws no longer confider the Roman Catholics there as abfolute outlaws and enemies, they are treated in many respects as aliens: and how can we expect that they, who are the body of the people, can ever be zealous friends of government, whilft they defpair of reciprocal acts of friendship and protection?
But granting the difaffection of the Roman Catholics of Ireland were as malignant, as it is reprefented to be by their well-meaning Proteftant neighbours, is not that a fufficient reafon for altering a conduct towards them, which experience has proved so ineffectual to reclaim them? Can they expect cordial affection in return for legal interdicts? Can partial laws command more than partial obedience? If a yoke be heavy, will it not gall? If chains are iron, will they not fometimes rattle? Loofe thefe chains, throw off this yoke, and repeal these laws; confer benefits, expect affection, and receive gratitude. Before you hope for the duties of loyal fubjection, impart
the bleffings of an equal dominion. Before you think of reaping the fruits, fow the feeds of true self-intereft, Make people happy, and you may make them loyal.'
The causes of the various rifings of White-boys, Oak-boys, &c. have been fo little understood on this fide the water, that we cannot perhaps give any more acceptable extracts from this work, than by transcribing a part of the authentic information with which the Author furnishes us on these subjects. The infurrection of the White-boys, which cannot even yet be faid to be quelled, is related and accounted for thus:
The original caufe of the rifing of the White-boys was this: "Some landlords in Munfter fet their lands to cottiers far above their value; and, to lighten their burden, allowed commonage to their tenants, by way of recompence: afterwards, in despite of all equity, contrary to all compacts, the landlords inclofed thefe commons, and precluded their unhappy tenants from the only means of making their bargains tolerable *." Too ignorant to know the law, and too poor to bear the expence of it, they betook themfelves to violence, as their only resource. As mobs fe'dom rife without fuffering fome grievance, and never fubfide without doing fome injury; fo thefe infurgents, having no profpect of red refs, began to direct their vengeance against the clergy. The deluded rabble, fmarting under the galling load of oppreffion, fled every where for relief, but where they ought. And, in order to divert their attention from themselves, it became the policy of the landlord and grazier to cherish, or at least connive at, the spirit of curtailing the church of its pit
• In fome places they will not fuffer the parfon to have any assistant in letting his tithes. And if any one be fo hardy as to lend his aid, he rifques the loss of his ears, or his nofe, or both. In other places, they refuse abfolutely to pay thofe dues the law fpecifies. And in all, they pay with grudging and ill blood: So that the cafe of the clergy in this province is deplorable. For how can a man of liberal fentiment fubmit to the low drudgery of chaffering and dodging with each parishioner, moft of whom would use every art chicane can devife, to outwit and deceive him? If the parfon give up to each demand, his income is frittered down to nothing; and if he does not, he must study all the little tricks of bargain-making, and fo degrade
* See An Inquiry into the Caufes of the Outrages committed by the. Levellers or White boys, printed 1762, where the following ludicrous story is told from Saunderson's K. James: "A commotion was stirred up by fome commoners, against engroffing their grounds, when the King in a hunting journey happened to pass that way, and turning fhort at the corner of a common, happened near to a countryman fitting by the heels in the ftocks, who cried Hofannah! to his Majelly; which invited the King to ask the reafon of his reftraint. Sir Thomas faid, it was for ftealing geefe from the common. The fellow replied, I beseech your Majefty, who is the greater thief, I, for ftealing geefe from the common; or his worship, for ftealing the common from the geese? The King immediately ordered the witty fellow to be released, and the common to be restored to the
himself to the level of a tithe dealer. And funk fo low, he inevitably lofes all that influence wherewith the fanctity of his character had invefted him, and which a propriety of conduct would have infallibly fecured.
There is another, caufe which immediately tends to distress the clergy, and remotely to stop the progrefs of agriculture. The House of Commons in one of thofe frantic fits, to which all popular affemblies are incident, paffed a vote, fome twenty or thirty years ago, whereby, any lawyer was declared an enemy to his country, who hould appear as council for the recovery of a due called Agiftment or Herbage, which had ever been paid in lieu of the tithe of grafs. But as this vote had the fanction of only one branch of the legislature, it could neither affume the form of a law, nor be binding upon those who paffed it, but during their political exiflence as a parliament. It has, nevertheless, to all intents and purpofes, acquired the force of a law; for the claim is totally relinquished.
Now if the parfon alone had fuffered by this moft iniquitous decifion, one might be brought to believe that no great harm had been done by it. But this very vote contributes to repress industry, and to walte the country. Whereas, if the parfon had been allowed to receive that herbage to which he was intitled, agriculture might have been revived, and depopulation reftrained. Herbage would have acted as a premium upon tillage, by being a tax upon palturage.
Thus you may obferve, that a rich grazier, who pays perhaps ten thousand pounds a year rent, may not be fubject to as much tithe, as a wretched cottier, who holds but ten acres of land. No wonder then, that both the clergy and the poor should be equally diftreffed. And as little wonder, that infurrection should rear its head in this illfated country; the first landlords of which are abfentees, the fecond either foreftallers or graziers, and where the only tiller of the ground stands in a third, and fometimes in a fourth degree from the original proprietor. Something fhould be thought of, fomething done, to restore the rights of human nature, in a country almost ufurped by bullocks and fheep.'
The rifing of the Oak-boys proceeded from a very different caufe; and the diforder has long ceased, by the application of a proper remedy to the complaint.
The highways in Ireland,' fays the Author, were formerly made and repaired by the labour of the housekeepers. He who had a horse, was obliged to work fix days in the year, himself and horfe: he who had none, was to give fix days labour. It had been long complained, that the poor alone were compeiled to work; that the rich had been exempted; that inftead of mending the public roads, the fweat of their brows had been wasted on private roads, useful only to the over. feers. At length, in the year 1764, in the most populous, manufacturing, and confequently civilized part of the province of Ulfter, the inhabitants of one parish refused to make more, of what they called job roads. They rofe almost to a man, and from the oaken branches which they wore in their hats were denominated Oak boys. The difcontent being as general as the grievance, the contagion feized the neighbouring parishes. From parishes it flew to baronies, and