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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.

Glimpses of Social Life in the Seventeenth Century—­Literature and
Literary Men—­Keating—­the Four Masters—­Colgan—­Ward—­Usher—­Ware—­
Lynch—­Trade—­Commerce depressed by the English—­Fairs—­Waterford
Rugs—­Exportation of Cattle forbidden—­State of Trade in the Principal
Towns—­Population—­Numbers employed in different Trades—­Learned
Professions—­Physicians—­Establishment of their College in
Dublin—­Shopkeepers—­Booksellers—&
shy;Coffee-houses—­Clubs—­Newspapers—­
Fashionable Churches—­Post-houses and Post-offices established—­
Custom-house—­Exchange—­Amusements—­Plays at the Castle—­The First
Theatre set up in Werburgh-street—­Domestics Manners and Dress—­
Food-A Country Dinner Party in Ulster.

[A.D. 1600-1700.]

Notwithstanding the persecutions to which the Irish had been subjected for so many centuries, they preserved their love of literature, and the cultivated tastes for which the Celt has been distinguished in all ages.  Indeed, if this taste had not existed, the people would have sunk into the most degraded barbarism; for education was absolutely forbidden, and the object of the governing powers seems to have been to reduce the nation, both intellectually and morally, as thoroughly as possible.  In such times, and under such circumstances, it is not a little remarkable to find men devoting themselves to literature with all the zest of a freshman anticipating collegiate distinctions, while surrounded by difficulties which would certainly have dismayed, if they did not altogether crush, the intellects of the present age.  I have already of the mass of untranslated national literature existing country and in continental libraries.  These treasures of mental labour are by no means confined to one period of our history; but it could scarcely be expected that metaphysical studies or the fine arts could flourish at a period when men’s minds were more occupied with the philosophy of war than with the science of Descartes, and were more inclined to patronize a new invention in the art of gunnery, than the chef d’oeuvre of a limner or sculptor.  The Irish language was the general medium of conversation in this century.  No amount of Acts of Parliament had been able to repress its use, and even the higher classes of English settlers appear to have adopted it by preference.  Military proclamations were issued in this language;[512] or if the Saxon tongue were used, it was translated for the general benefit into the vernacular.  During the Commonwealth, however, the English tongue made some way; and it is remarkable that the English-speaking Irish of the lower classes, in the present day, have preserved the idioms and the accentuation used about this period.  Many of the expressions which provoke the mirth of the modern Englishman, and which he considers an evidence of the vulgarity of the uneducated Irish, may be found in the works of his countrymen, of which he is most justly proud.

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