Preface to the First Edition - Irish History

Margaret Anne Cusack
Preface to First Edition

Harp Design

Letter T

HE 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 know ledge 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.