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Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

PREFACE

To the first edition.

The history of the different races who form an integral portion of the British Empire, should be one of the most carefully cultivated studies of every member of that nation.  To be ignorant of our own history, is a disgrace; to be ignorant of the history of those whom we govern, is an injustice.  We can neither govern ourselves nor others without a thorough knowledge of peculiarities of disposition which may require restraint, and of peculiarities of temperament which may require development.  We must know that water can extinguish fire, before it occurs to us to put out a fire by the use of water.  We must know that fire, when properly used, is a beneficent element of nature, and one which can be used to our advantage when properly controlled, before we shall attempt to avail ourselves of it for a general or a particular benefit.  I believe a time has come when the Irish are more than ever anxious to study their national history.  I believe a time has come when the English nation, or at least a majority of the English nation, are willing to read that history without prejudice, and to consider it with impartiality.

When first I proposed to write a History of Ireland, at the earnest request of persons to whose opinion.  I felt bound to defer, I was assured by many that it was useless; that Irishmen did not support Irish literature; above all, that the Irish clergy were indifferent to it, and to literature in general.  I have since ascertained, by personal experience, that this charge is utterly unfounded, though I am free to admit it was made on what appeared to be good authority.  It is certainly to be wished that there was a more general love of reading cultivated amongst the Catholics of Ireland, but the deficiency is on a fair way to amendment.  As a body, the Irish priesthood may not be devoted to literature; but as a body, unquestionably they are devoted—­nobly devoted—­to the spread of education amongst their people.

With regard to Englishmen, I cannot do better than quote the speech of an English member of Parliament, Alderman Salomons, who has just addressed his constituents at Greenwich in these words:—­

“The state of Ireland will, doubtless, be a prominent subject of discussion next session.  Any one who sympathizes with distressed nationalities in their struggles, must, when he hears of the existence of a conspiracy in Ireland, similar to those combinations which used to be instituted in Poland in opposition to Russian oppression, be deeply humiliated.  Let the grievances of the Irish people be probed, and let them be remedied when their true nature is discovered.  Fenianism is rife, not only in Ireland, but also in England, and an armed police required, which is an insult to our liberty.  I did not know much of the Irish land question, but I know that measures have been over and over again brought
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