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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.

[557] Possess.—­While these pages were passing through the press, a circumstance has occurred which so clearly illustrates the position of the Irish priest, that I cannot avoid mentioning it.  A gentleman has purchased some property, and his first act is to give his three tenants notice to quit.  The unfortunate men have no resource but to obey the cruel mandate, and to turn out upon the world homeless and penniless.  They cannot go to law, for the law would be against them.  They are not in a position to appeal to public opinion, for they are only farmers.  The parish priest is their only resource and their only friend.  He appeals to the feelings of their new landlord in a most courteous letter, in which he represents the cruel sufferings these three families must endure.  The landlord replies that he has bought the land as a “commercial speculation,” and of course he has a right to do whatever he considers most for his advantage; but offers to allow the tenants to remain if they consent to pay double their former rent—­a rent which would be double the real value of the land.  Such cases are constantly occurring, and are constantly exposed by priests; and we have known more than one instance in which fear of such exposure has obtained justice.  A few of them are mentioned from time to time in the Irish local papers.  The majority of cases are entirely unknown, except to the persons concerned; but they are remembered by the poor sufferers and their friends.  I believe, if the people of England were aware of one-half of these ejectments, and the sufferings they cause, they would rise up as a body and demand justice for Ireland and the Irish; they would marvel at the patience with which what to them would be so intolerable has been borne so long.

[558] Free trade,—­A very important work was published in 1779, called The Commercial Restraints of Ireland Considered.  It is a calm and temperate statement of facts and figures.  The writer shows that the agrarian outrages of the Whiteboys were caused by distress, and quotes a speech Lord Northumberland to the same effect.—­Com.  Res., p. 59.

CHAPTER XXXV.

Celebrated Irishmen of the Eighteenth Century—­BURKE—–­ His School and College Life—­Early Hatred of Oppression—­Johnson’s Estimate of Burke—­Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful—­Commencement of his Political Career—­Opinions on the American Question-English Infatuation and Injustice—­Irishmen Prominent Actors in the American Revolution—­Its Causes and Effects—­Burke on Religious Toleration—­Catholic Emancipation—­His Indian Policy—­MOORE—­His Poetry and Patriotism—­CURRAN—­SWIFT—­LUCAS—­FLOOD—­GRATTAN—­EARL OF CHARLEMONT—­Irish Artists, Authors, and Actors—­SHERIDAN—­Scene in the House of Lords during the Impeachment of Warren Hastings—­GOLDSMITH.

[A.D. 1700-1800.]

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