The Land-War In Ireland (1870) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 533 pages of information about The Land-War In Ireland (1870).

’So died Shane O’Neill, one of those champions of Irish nationality, who under varying features have repeated themselves in the history of that country with periodic regularity.  At once a drunken ruffian, and a keen and fiery patriot, the representative in his birth of the line of the ancient kings, the ideal in his character of all which Irishmen most admired, regardless in his actions of the laws of God and man, yet the devoted subject in his creed of the holy Catholic Church; with an eye which could see far beyond the limits of his own island, and a tongue which could touch the most passionate chords of the Irish heart; the like of him has been seen many times in that island, and the like of him may be seen many times again till the Ethiopian has changed his skin, and the leopard his spots.  Numbers of his letters remain, to the Queen, to Sussex, to Sidney, to Cecil, and to foreign princes; far-reaching, full of pleasant flattery and promises which cost him nothing, but showing true ability and insight.  Sinner though he was, he too in his turn was sinned against; in the stained page of Irish misrule there is no second instance in which an English ruler stooped to treachery, or to the infamy of attempted assassination; and it is not to be forgotten that Lord Sussex, who has left under his own hand the evidence of his own baseness, continued a trusted and favoured councillor of Elizabeth, while Sidney, who fought Shane and conquered him in the open field, found only suspicion and hard words.’



Mr. Froude’s magnificent chapter on Ireland, in the eleventh volume of his history, just published, ought to be studied by every member of the legislature before parliament meets.  If a nation has a conscience, England must feel remorse for the deeds done in her name in Ireland; and ought to make amends for them, if possible.  The historian has well described the policy of Queen Elizabeth.  She was at times disposed to forbearance, but ’she made impossible the obedience she enjoined.  Her deputies and her presidents, too short-sighted to rule with justice, were driven to cruelty in spite of themselves.  It was easier to kill than to restrain.  Death was the only gaoler which their finances could support, while the Irish in turn lay in wait to retaliate upon their oppressors, and atrocity begat atrocity in hopeless continuity.’

Whenever there was a failing in any enterprise, the queen conceived ’a great misliking of the whole matter;’ but success covered a multitude of sins.  When the Irish were powerful, and the colony was in danger, she thought it ’a hard matter to subvert the customs of the people which they had enjoyed, to be ruled by the captains of their own nation.  Let the chiefs sue for pardon, and submit to her authority, and she would let them have their seignories, their captaincies, their body-guards, and all the rest of their dignities, with power of life and death over their people.  But,’ says Mr. Froude, ’it was the curse of the English rule that it never could adhere consistently to any definite principle.  It threatened, and failed to execute its threats.  It fell back on conciliation, and yet immediately, by some injustice or cruelty, made reliance on its good faith impossible.’

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The Land-War In Ireland (1870) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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