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On this Bishop Stillingfleet obferves, in his Origines Britannica, in which he rejects this monftrous fiction; if fo, he (Giraldus Cambrensis) had more advantages than Keating." Sir James Ware, in his very excellent book on the Antiquities of Ireland, fays, "It is moft certain, that there remains very little knowledge of what palled in Ireland, before the preaching of the golpel there, neither am I ignoraut, that the most part of what is delivered by writers, concerning thofe antient times, before St. Patrick's coming' there, is rejected by feveral learned men, as fictions and fables; and it is to be remarked, that almost all the defcriptions or accounts that are extant, of matters transacted in those antient times, or of the fabric or invention of late ages. In this inquiry, therefore, I have fpoken very fparingly of them." Sir James Ware was univerfally refpected for his veracity and candour; and from his laborious investigation of that subject, no perfon was more competent to decide on it.
In page 8, Mr. Plowden fays, "the Irish have long prided themfelves apon having kept up a longer fucceffion of monarchs, than any other kingdom of the world. This race of kings, the Irish call Milefian, all of them having defcended from Heber, Eremen, and Ith, the three fons of Milefius."
Father Walsh, the Francifcan friar, who profeffes to believe thefe fictions, with much candour confeffes, that of 200 kings, 170 died premature and violent deaths. Profpect. p. 2. Of the Milefian race of kings, hear what the ingenious and learned Pinkerton fays. "The whole tale of the Milefians, and the hiftory of the monarchs of that mock line, is the most deplorable piece of nonfenfe that ever stained the annals of mankind." Hitory of Scotland, Vol. II. p. 13. Spenfer, fecretary to Lord Grey in the ́. reign of Elizabeth, was an acute obferver, and took great pains to explore the authenticity of the early part of the Irish annals, and he says, "Of the four fons of Milefius, king of Spain, who conquered the land from the Seythians, and inhabited it with Spaniards, and called it of the name of the youngest Hibernus, Hibernia; all which are in truth fables and Milesian lies, as the Latin proverb is; for never was there such a king of Spain called Milefius, nor any fuch colony feated with his fons, that can ever be proved." View of the State of Ireland, p. 1549. London edition. By J. Jonfon.
Hear what the learned Stillingfleet fays in his Origines Britanniæ, on the Milefian kings. "We are told from a late Irish antiquary, Geoffry Keat ing, that the pofterity of Guathelus and Scota*, or the Milefian race, fettled in Ireland. anno mundi, 2736, after the flood. Here is a pretence to very great antiquity, and an appearance of exact calculation; but I only alk by what cycles the Irish proceeded when they began? How they could adjuft the time fo well to the age of the world; or what other certain way they had, which might be reduced to it? If they had none, all this
might be only fancy and opinion, unless there were fome characters of time fixed, and certain, by eclipfes and aftronomical obfervations, or certain periods of time, co-incident paffages, which might conof their descent into Ireland, with fuch a year of the world, or
Johannes Major, calls the ftory of Gauthelus and Scota, and their coming out of Greece and Egypt, a mere figment, and invented only to match the Britons, who derived themselves from the Trojans.
1086 after the flood. After Mofes paffing the Red Sea, 192, before Chrift's nativity 1308, from whence the antiquity of the Irish nation is not to be paralleled, unlefs by the Chinese only.
Though there are fuch unquestionable proofs that the Irish could not have known any thing of their early ftate, Mr. P. (page 12.) gives the following picture of their early refinement and civilization. "The pretenfions to the royal ftock of fovereignty in Ireland, were not the only grounds of their fyftem of family pride and confequent prefumption. Each king or fovereign had his order of chivalry, of which he himself was the chief: his high priest to fuperintend religion: his brehen, or chief justice, to expound the law: his phylicians, antiquarians, chief treasurer, marthal, ftandard-bearer, generals of horse and foot, &c. All these were hereditary honours in certain families, out of which the most distinguished, and beft qualified, were elected to the particular appointment." From page 15 to 23, Mr. P. gives a moft minute and pompous account of "the triennial convention of their ftates, which was called the great Foes, at Jeamer, or Jara, inftituted by their great and favourite monarch, Ollam-Fodlah, who reigned, according to Keating, about 950 years before the Chriftian æra. The monarch, and the provincial, and other kings who had the executive power in their hands, on one fide, and the philofophers and priests, together with the deputies of the people on the other, formed the whole of this antient legislature. When this great council was convened, previous to their entering on bufinefs, they fat down to fumptuous entertainments, fix days fucceffively. Very minute accounts are given by the Irish annalifts of the magnificence and order of these entertainments; from whence we may collect the earliest traces of heraldry that occur in hiftory, and deduce that partiality for family diftinctions, which, to this day, forms a ftriking part of the Irish national characteristic. In order to preferve order and regularity, the fhield bearers of the princes, and other members of the convention, delivered in their fields and targets, which were readily diftinguished by the coats of arms emblazoned upon them: these were arranged by the grand marihal and principal herald, and hung upon the walls on the right fide of the tables, and upon entering the apartments, each member took his feat undr his respective field or target, without the flightest disturbance. The first fix days were not spent in diforderly revelling and excefs, but particularly devoted to the examination and settlement of the hiftorical antiquities and annals of the kingdom; they were publicly rehearsed, and privately infpected, by a private committee of the most learned members," Mr. Plowden, after imputing to the Irish an extraordinary degree of refinement, not only in civil polity, but in all the arts which can improve and adorn civil life, tells us, that it was established in Ireland 950 years before the æra alluded to by Cæfar, of the rude barbarism of the Britons," page 15. But well knowing that it cannot be fubftantiated by any records whatsoever, he has recourse to that pitiful fiction of the Irish annalifts (page 16), that "the Danes in their frequent ravages and invafions of Ireland, during the 9th and 10th centuries, barnt all the books and monuments of antiquity that fell in their way," and he adds, "We have ftill more to lament, the thameful and fatal
* Keating who lived in the 17th century, fabricated all these absurd ables, and Mr. Plowden has tranfcribed them from him.
policy of our ancestors, who, from the first invafion of Henry of Platagenet, down to the reign of James I. took all poffible means of cant and force, to deftroy whatever writings had, by chance or care, been preserved from the deftructive hands of the Danes."
This vile fiction is not calculated to reconcile the Irish to the British government or nation. Sir James Ware gives a long lift of the earliest Irigh annalists, depofited in the Bodilean library, where we are well allured that Dr. O'Conor has been confulting them, and making copious extracts from them.
Had the Irish enjoyed a wife fyftem of laws, under "a longer fucceffion of. monarchs than any other nation of the world," would it not follow as a natural confequence, that they would have advanced in civilization, and that the external relations, as well as the internal policy, of fuch a nation would have been recorded by well authenticated memorials? On the contrary, from the earliest ages mentioned by Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, and every antient and modern writer, refpected for his veracity, there appears in the Irish character, nothing but traits of barbarifm, and an invincible ferocity, neither foftened by religion, nor improved by cultivation. Strabo, who wrote in the reigns of Auguftus and Tiberius, fays, " that the Irish were barbarous, and wild men. Thofe, he fays, that in our days, make a furvey of the different countries of the world, find nothing to relate of any country beyond Ireland, which lies to the north, and near Britain, and is inhabited by men entirely wild, αγρεων τελέως ανθρώπων.
The fame author, in fpeaking of the Britons, tells us, that in his time they resembled the Gauls in their manners, and way of living, but adds, that they were in fome degree more rude and barbarous; and then he adds, as to Ireland, by the most certain information which I have acquired, its inhabitants are more barbarous and favage aypwrap than thofe of Britain. So that in his time the Irish were reputed more barbarous and favage, than the Gauls and the Britons; and Cæfar, in his obfervations on the latter, gives ample testimony of their barbarifm.
Pomponius Mela, who lived in the first age of Chriffianity, and not long after Strabo, fays, that the inhabitants of Ireland were unpolished, barbaBous, and ignorant of all virtues *.
Keating, in the Preface of his Hiftory, fays, that Strabo and Pomponius Mela had no opportunity of knowing the condition and manners of the Irish. But Tacitus, in the Life of Agricola, tells us, "that the ports of Ireland were better known, and more frequented, by the merchants, than thofe of Britain," being much more numerous and fafer, and probably not inferior to any in Europe. Tacitus received his information from Agricola, his father-in-law; and Agricola received his account from no lefs authority than one of the Irith kings. The former, in describing the barbarous flate of the Britons, fays, they are, " difponi et rudes," and he adds, that the Irish in their manners were much the fame as the Britons. Solinus, who is fuppofed to have lived in the fecond age of the incarnation, agrees with Strabo and Mela in their account of the Irish, for, he says, that in their manners, they are rude and inhuman ‡.
* Pomp. Mela, c. 3, 6,
+ Ingenia cultufque hominum (in Hibernia), non multum a Britannia differunt.
‡ Hibernia inhumana, ritu incolarum afpera, gens inhofpita et bellicofa, fas et nefas eodem animo ducunt. Solinus, c. 36, p. 62.
NO. LXXXIX. VOL. XXII.
Froiffact, an eye witnefs, defcribes the wretched appearance of four Irish kings, who attended Richard II. and he fays, that they had every thing in common with their fervants *. That very excellent antiquary, the honourable D. Barrington is of opinion that the Irish in 1377, were as unci. vilized as the favages of North America +.
Giraldus Cambrenfis, a Welfh ecclefiaftic, who had ftudied at the univerfity of Paris, where his talents were fo confpicuous that he was placed at the head of that feat of learning, where he fupported the higheft character for eloquence and fcience, firft went to Ireland in 1182, and on his return, after remaining there two years, he communicated his obfervations on it to that wife monarch Henry II. who appreciated them fo highly, that in 1185 he was felected as privy counsellor and ́ecretary to his fon John, who was about to make the r of Ireland. He was ordered by Henry to inquire into, and report the fituation of that country, its nature, the origin of the people, their manners, how often, by whom, and the ways in which they were fubdued, and what new and preternatural subjects were to be found there. This talk he executed in a matterly manner; and it is not to be supposed that he would be fo rafh as to give any mifreprefentations in a work, which he addreffed to fo wife a fovereign, and which he read for three days before the univerfity of Oxford.
He obferves, that the Irish had scarcely emerged from the paftoral life, that they defpifed the labours of agriculture, and declined civil wealth and focial connection, paffing their lives in woods and pastures, in a brutith manner, and in the company of their cattle, p. 739. According to Spenfer, Morrison, and many other writers, the Irish were in a barbarous fiate, at the end of the 16th century. Their fole employment was keeping_cattl, and pafturing in mountains and wafte places, like the Scythians. This was called to creete, creaght or keyriaught, or boolying, from Bal, a cow. Their boolies were tempo ary huts of clay and twigs, much the fame as the highland fheelins, or indian wigwams. Morrifon tells us, that he faw an Irish chieftain and his family fitting naked round the fire in one of 1hem.
Spenfer, in his excellent view of the ftate of Ireland, speaks thus of them, "By the cuftom of boolylng there grow many great enormities unto the commonwealth. If there be any outlaws or loofe people (as they are never without fome) which live upon ftealth and spoils, they are evermore fuccoured and find relief, only in these boolies, being upon wafte places, whereas elfe they should be driven tho tly to ftarve, or come down to the towns,to find relief, where, by fome means or other they would foon be caught. Befides, fuch ftealths of cattle as they make, they bring commonly to these boolies, where they are readily received, and the thief harboured from danger of law, or fich officers as might light upon him. Moreover the people that live in thefe boolies grow thereby more barbarous,and live more licentiously than they could in towns, ufing what manners they lift, and practifing what mifchiefs and villanies they will, either against the government there,by their combinations,
*Book I. p. 209.
+ Archaeologia, v. 3, p. 75.
His latinity is fingularly good, confidering, the dark period when he
r against private men whom they maligne, by stealing their goods or murdering themselves.
The following obfervations of Spenfer, in the fame work, muft convince: us of the very barbarous ftate of the Irish, in the 16th century.
"The Gauls used to drink their enemies blood, and paint themselves therewith. So, alfo, they write that the old Irish were wont, but not their enemies, but their friends blood; as, namely, at the execution of a notable traitor at Limerick, called Murraugh O'Brien. I faw an old woman, who was his fofter mother, take up his head, whilft he was quartered; and fuck up all the blood that run thereout, faying, that the earth was not worth to drink it, and therewith, also fteeped her face and breast, and tore her hair, crying out, and fhrieking moft terribly." Vol. Ví. p. 1563, London edition, by Jacob Jonfon. A. D. 1715.
The following record will prove, that the irith differed very little in 462 years, from the defcription which Giraldus Cambrenfis gave of them, in 1185.
That popish rebellious affembly, the confederate Catholics of Kilkenny, who affumed the legislative and executive powers of the ftate, iffued the following orders, the 12th of November, 1647.
Whereas feveral perfons of the province of Ulfter, and other parts of this kingdom, with their cattle and families, go in great multitudes, through many parts of the feveral provinces of this kingdom, being, ast they allege, neceffitated for the fafety of their lives and fortunes, to leave their former dwellings and habitations, and where, by their daily ranging, they have very much prejudiced feveral countries, in deftroying the grafs, corn, and other goods of the inhabitants there, which hath occafioned, that feveral countries, and places, are quite deferted and wafted, and the faid Keyriaughts avoid the cortribution that falls upon them; it is, therefore, for the future redress of fuch mischiefs thought fit, that the General of Ulfter, calling to his atfifiance, such other perfons of the faid province aş fhall be fit, fhall inquire and find out, and return to the Supreme Council now to be established, the head keriaughts of the faid province of Ulfter, with the feveral provinces of Leinfter, Munfter, and Connaught, and what number of cattle each of them hath. Upon return whereof, and the examination by the Council, of the lands wafted in the feveral countres, which are fet for county charges only, or which are wafted, and yield no county charges, to align unto the faid Keyriaghts, or unto several of them together, fo much of the wafte lands in the feveral provinces for their habitationst, and their paying county charges for the fame, as others of the fame counties will do, where they are to refide, till they may return to their former habitations, and not to annoy their neighbours, or any of the quarters of the confederate Catholics, at their peril. Printed at Kilkenny, 1647. We fhall now prove, that the pretenfions of the Irish to
Here is an exact picture of the white boys and defenders, who, in our times, have made a practice of robbing and murdering loyal Proteftants, and of forming treasonable combinations against the government.
† Hence it is evident that they never had any fixed habitations.
We gave a full defcription of this traiterous affembly, in the twentyfirst volume of this work.