Signs of the Times: The National Library for Ireland (1798 Rebellion)[1]

From The Dublin University Magazine, Volume 29, Number 169, January, 1847

THERE is an under-current of seditious literature at present making its way amongst the masses in Ireland, which is one of the most noticeable and startling of the signs of the times. "Give me the ballad-writing of a nation, and I do not care who makes their laws," is a saying which has been considered to evince much political sagacity. The influences which inspire the sentiments, and mould the passions of a people, must always be more important than any power which can be put forth to restrain or to regulate their external conduct. But when these influences are combined with that power, and when the progress of reform has thrown into the hands of the seditious and the revolutionary the making or abrogating of laws, there is then a double agency at work for evil. What was antagonism becomes co-operation; and the laws themselves may be made to conspire for the overthrow of the constitution.

Of this, the new-light apostles of sedition are well aware. The viper will not now be often found biting against the file. He has derived wisdom from experience; and will no longer spend his strength upon impracticable projects, which could only result in his discomfiture and disgrace. The large influx of democracy which recent improvements in our legislature have introduced into the House of Commons, secures to the active partisan of popular opinions a status and a position which enables him to speak as one having authority in the national councils. And when the electors are leavened by the principles and deluded by the misrepresentations which abound in publications such as those before us, in which the foulest treason is not merely palliated, but eulogized, it is very easy to understand what the character of the elected must be, and how powerfully they may influence the decisions of an assembly which is supreme in dealing with national interests, and upon whose course of action such mighty issues must depend.

We should, therefore, look in time to the causes which are in operation, shaping the popular judgment, and determining the popular will. The power of the masses is now no longer a blind impulse, "vis expers consilii," which its own impetus must destroy. It is a recognized element in the new edition of the constitution. It has its representatives in the legislature, who are sent there only to do its bidding, and who are generally daring, able, and unscrupulous men, very capable, by a specious eloquence, of making "the worse appear the better reason." Against the ascendant power in that assembly no resistance can be made. And unless care be taken to counteract, by a presentation of the truth, the wicked falsehoods which become current amongst the multitude, the whole framework of society may be dislocated before right-minded men become aware of their danger.

It is a deep sense of the imminence of this danger, and a conviction of the utter impossibility of proceeding adequately against it when it does arise, that has drawn our attention to the series of publications of which the reader will find the titles below. They are, taken separately, and received without reference to the condition and circumstances of the country in which they are produced, so despicable in point of composition, and so utterly and shamelessly truthless in relation to facts, that many would be disposed to pass them by, as altogether undeserving of any serious attention. But, taken as a whole, and as part of a complete system, having for its object the separation of Great Britain and Ireland, and as circulating amongst ignorant and inflammable masses, whose literature they constitute, and whose passions they set on fire, they cannot be regarded otherwise than as most dangerous auxiliaries to the cause of disloyalty and sedition, which, unless promptly and effectively counteracted, must produce irremediable evils. We therefore invite the earnest attention of all lovers of social order, who would fain perpetuate the admirable constitution under which we live, to the exposure which we are about to make of this seed-bed of treason. It will be vain to cry out for help in the hour of extreme peril, when the mine is discovered under our feet, and the match in the hand of the incendiary ready to fire the train. Such after-wisdom can profit nothing, but "to point a moral, or adorn a tale," by which future generations may be benefited. The calamities against which we would forewarn our fellow-subjects must be prevented if they would be escaped. The words of sage admonition which the Roman historian puts into the mouth of Cato delivering his sentiments respecting the Catiline conspirators, should never be absent from the minds of rulers. Other crimes, he says, may be punished after they have been committed, but this is one which unless provided against before-hand, precludes all power of subsequent animadversion. When the state is involved in one common ruin, the conspirators will then become the government, and those who connived at their atrocities, instead of their judges, will become their victims.

The outbreak of Ninety-eight in Ireland was, perhaps, as wanton and wicked a manifestation of revolutionary violence, as any of which history makes mention. It was a purely theoretic rebellion, against a government advancing but too rapidly in the direction of democratic change. From 1775 to 1793, the concessions to the popular principle had been perfectly unexampled; and the country progressed in prosperity and freedom with almost railroad speed. Ireland could scarcely ask what England would not willingly grant, for the purpose of satisfying reasonable demands, or securing legislative independence. The penal code, a Whig measure, rendered necessary by the Jacobite predilections of the Papists, had already been greatly mitigated, and all its more obnoxious features would, in no long time, have been removed. The elective franchise was extended to the Romish population. A seminary was founded for the education of their priests; a House of Commons, which formerly sat during the reign of the sovereign, was now elected every seven years; and it was while these measures of public amelioration were thus going forward, the treason was concocting, which was to separate Ireland from the British empire!

The object of the publications before us is, to represent the rebellion of Ninety-eight as a justifiable resistance to British oppression; the men who figured in it, and who were exiled or executed, as heroes, patriots, and martyrs; the law processes, by which they were brought to justice, as hellish contrivances for the destruction of innocent men; the juries by whom they were convicted, as perjured traitors; the judges by whom they were sentenced, as ruthless instruments of oppression, upon whose heads rested the guilt of innocent blood; and the whole machinery of administration as contrived for the torture, pillage, pro-scription,and massacre of an unoffending population! Such are the lessons which the masses are now expected to learn from "the National Library for Ireland!" It is a species of reading which may be called "treason made easy." And there is, unfortunately, an aptitude for such instruction in the Irish peasantry, which renders it morally certain that it must produce the very worst effects. When publications, of which we shall presently give specimens, are circulated by hundreds of thousands, and find their way into the cottages of the peasantry, where they are read with all the eager credulity of ignorance, what can be expected but that effects must be produced by which the public tranquillity must be endangered?

In the volume entitled "The Rising of Ninety-Eight," the writer, having cited the oath of the United Irishmen, thus proceeds to show how much more reasonable it was, both in its purport and spirit, than the oath of allegiance:--

"Here, no doubt, the reader will not fail to observe the great spirit of fairness and toleration which distinguished the oath of the United Irishmen, from that of the United Englishmen in former times. In the United Irish oath, there is not one word said about swearing any English or foreigners to obey the Irish. Every native Irishman is simply called on to make a natural, grateful, and religious vow before the great, good, and just God, to love his own fellow-countrymen, and serve his native land. Moreover, no Englishman, Scotchman, Welshman, German, Dutchman, Hanoverian, or any other beggarly foreigner, was ever compelled by the United Irishmen to perjure himself by taking an unnatural blasphemous oath to obey the Irish--for is it not blasphemous to swear before God, against the very land which he allowed one to be born in? The English in former times, on the contrary, never had such a fair form of oath, as that of the United Irishmen. Formerly the English ruffians, after first murdering, burning, robbing, and ravishing the greater part of the unoffending Irish, used then, like loyal, merciful, and religious enemies, present on the sword's point an oath of allegiance, to be quickly swallowed down by the remainder of the natives. By this compulsory oath, a true-blooded Irishman was obliged to swear, against his grain, to obey or serve some tyrannical fellow or other, called king of England, no matter who he might chance to be. Thus, descendants of our old native Irish kings--men with the pure blood of such heroes as Niall the Grand (the triumphant invader of Britain and Gaul), or old Brian Boru (the Dane-smasher), coursing through their veins--have been compelled by rapacious and blood-thirsty Englishmen, to swear, what?--yes, gracious heavens! to swear to obey and serve a whole parcel of murdering mongrels and wicked foreigners, such as James Stuart, a Scotchman, who robbed all the Ulster Irish of their tenant-right, and was moreover addicted to dark and unnatural crimes; or William of Orange, who robbed and butchered the Irish, made and broke the treaty of Limerick, and murdered the Scotch clan M'Donald, in the valley of Glencoe; or George Guelphs, the Hanoverian, who murdered Count Konigsmark, and kept the Irish as slaves under Penal laws, so infamous, that if they at present existed, the Irish millions would be justified in rising up like men, which unfortunately they were not numerous enough to do in the Penal times."

Thus it is that rebellion is justified, and loyalty to a British sovereign branded and stigmatized! The English are cruel invaders, against whom resistance is as sacred a duty, as it was in early times, against the Danes! And the heroes who may hereafter lead the Irish into combat with their present enemies, will deserve as well of their country as did Brian of old, when he contended successfully against the northern invaders!

And that there is a spirit now in existence by which the work of treason may be more effectually done than it ever has been at any former period, the writer here makes manifest in a paragraph in which we believe he does not use the least exaggeration:--

"But the most convincing proof of the virtue and principle of the men of '98, and the justice of the measures which they advocated, is this--the patriots of those times are daily rising in the estimation of the Irish nation, and Parliamentary Reform, and Catholic Emancipation, for which they contended, have been carried. Even the prospect of Repeal is hourly growing nearer, by which event the plundered Irish constitution of 1782 will be restored, and other nameless blessings will be then sure to follow. On the other hand, those horrible Judases and corrupt wretches who sold their native land for vile money, and the bloody monsters who murdered the Irish, and once carried things with a high hand, are already sunk in the lowest infamy; and if any one dared to rise up to defend them, he would run the risk of being torn to pieces, by a virtuous and indignant nation, who will not listen to anything against the men of '98.

"We have indeed reason to be rejoiced with the future prospects in store for the Irish. Who dare say `boo' to eight millions? With us the exercise of patriotism has become a safe and easy habit, and with some, even a money-making pursuit; it was not so in the days of our fathers.

"'They rose in dark and evil days, To right their native land.'"

The following is the representation given of the acts of vigour which were absolutely necessary to meet the influence and the machinations of the disturbers. We would ask, what respect can those who are thus instructed be expected to have for British law?--

"Having shown that the Society of United Irishmen was of Protestant origin--that its leaders were mostly Protestants, and that the object of the Society was to reform the Irish parliament, and to abolish sectarian distinctions and quarrels, by equalizing all religions, and procuring emancipation for the Irish Catholics, we must now take a rapid sketch of the criminal and tyrannical proceedings of a few foreign or English villains, calling themselves government, and the Irish traitors, who were leagued with them, and had entered into a great conspiracy to abolish the Irish constitution of 1782, to corrupt and sell the Irish Parliament, and to reduce Ireland to the degraded condition of an English province.

"In 1796 another tyrannical measure, called "The Insurrection Act,'' was introduced into the Irish parliament, By this infamous bill, any seven ruffians, called justices of the peace, if bribed, and in the pay of a foreign or English government, had only to go through the form of signing a piece of paper, stating that they considered their county in a state of disturbance, 'or in danger of becoming so.' On sending this piece of paper, according as directed, to the English Castle of Dublin, Ship-street, where the secret committee or privy council, and the English military viceroy, held their nocturnal meetings, the county so recommended was proclaimed, or put under martial law, which was signified to the unfortunate people by a bit of paper, with 'Whereas' at the top, and some Englishman's name at the bottom.''

The alliance of the United Irishmen with France, for the overthrow of British authority, is thus not only justified but eulogized!

"While those English villains, and the Irish parliament conspirators in their pay, were oppressing and plotting against the Irish nation, a French fleet and army of liberation appeared off the Irish coasts. So leaving this frighful scene of domestic corruption and foreign tyranny just described, we must now take a glance at the foreign policy of Ireland, and the negociations and alliances which the United Irish leaders in their wisdom thought fit to form between the Irish and the French, who may be called kindred nations, since they are both of Celtic race, and are equally remarkable for their military spirit, gaiety, politeness, love of glory, strong passion for liberty or native governments, and dislike of English tyranny and ambition, which never rests, but is always unjustly invading the freedom and possessions of other countries."

Such are the lessons in history which the Irish masses are taught! Such are the premises from which they are instructed to reason! Such are the dragon's teeth which are sown, in the confident hope that, in due season, they will produce a plentiful crop of armed men, who, while they are imbued with the principles, will have derived instruction from the errors of their predecessors, in Ninety-eight, whose only fault was that they did not sufficiently "bide their time," but contended prematurely for the rights and the independence of Ireland! Now will any dispassionate and well-judging man say that this is a state of things not calculated to awaken very alarming apprehensions?

We will be told, much is doing for the education of the people; and that, when they are well instructed, it will be impossible to abuse them by such representations. Alas! we much fear that the bane will prove too strong for the antidote. The education of the humbler classes in Ireland may now be said to be under the superintendence of the National Board, a vast majority of whose agents in carrying out their system are the Roman Catholic priests. There are some of our readers at least who do not require to be informed how far these may be relied on as instructors of the people. We tell those who depend upon them for any efficient counteraction of the views and the principles advocated and recommended in these pestilent publications, they will be disappointed. There are, we fear, too many instances in which the Romish clergy would not counteract them if they could, as there are, no doubt, some in which they could not counteract them if they would. The teaching of Maynooth has, as Mr. Wyse has informed us, told upon the priesthood. They are, almost to a man, advocates for a repeal of the union. This is the flimsy pretext under which separation from Great Britain is veiled. And although for a season sedition may be "hushed in grim repose," assuredly it expects its "evening prey."

Have we as yet to learn that education, irrespective of moral training, is an evil and not a good? Has that great truth, so awfully foreshadowed in the "rebellion in heaven," not as yet found a secure lodgment in the minds and the hearts of our rulers? Knowledge, we are told, is power; but it may be a power for preservation, or a power for destruction; it may demonstrate its energies in the earthquake or the hurricane, as well as in those peaceful processes which more directly subserve the well-being of man, and the order of nature. And it will depend upon the religious guidance by which it is accompanied, whether its symbol is to be found in the harmony of the planetary system, or in the baleful glare of the eccentric meteor, which with "fear of change perplexes monarchs, and from its horrid hair shakes pestilence and war."

"Knowledge is power." This truth, as enunciated by the great master mind of the seventeenth century, had respect to the command over material substances which may be obtained by a knowledge of the elements of which they are composed; such power as the chemist possesses over the substances with the properties of which he has become scientifically acquainted. But men themselves are the substances upon which the politician is to operate; and when his end is evil, or his aim merely the possession of influences which he may use for his own advantage, his purposes are not more frequently accomplished by taking advantage of the ignorant, than by skilfully availing himself of the imperfect knowledge of the partially enlightened. Just so much information as generates self-conceit, just so much of human attainment as evokes the vanity without rectifying the judgment or steadying the minds of the people, he finds a most invaluable auxiliary to any purposes of demolition which he may entertain. Intellectual activities once excited, will be occupied either for good or for evil; and if no sufficiently determining influence be used in directing them to the former, to the latter they will naturally tend, as well because it is often made to appear in the attractive colours by which the novice is captivated, as that it lies more upon the level of human frailty. If the power of the demagogue may be seen in the distinguished characters who figured during the French revolution, no less may we discern the disorganizing effects of imperfect knowledge, unaccompanied by its proper counter-agent, religious truth, in loosening the whole fabric of society, until it tumbled into ruins upon the heads of a frantic populace, and their demoniac or deluded leaders.

Now, education in Ireland--in what state is that? The sum of seventy thousand pounds annually is devoted to the spread of what is called the national system of education, which professedly excludes religious instruction, leaving that to be conducted as it may, under the pastors, respectively, of the children in attendance upon the schools. The Bible is a prohibited book in the national school-room. Even the compilation from the Gospels, agreed upon by the commissioners, and containing a large portion of unadulterated Scriptural truth, has been rejected as inadmissible in more than nine-tenths of the schools under the patronage of the Romish priesthood; and books of (so called) Catholic instruction, or devotion, substituted instead, by which are inculcated the most dangerous principles, the grossest errors, or the most revolting superstitions. One thing is clear, that the Bible is regarded as a prohibited book, and the light of truth not permitted to shine in the schools as it appears in the unadulterated Gospel.

Against this system, by which the word of God is so disparaged, the Church of Ireland has recorded her solemn protest; and the exceptions are so very few that it may be generally stated, the whole of the patronage connected with it is divided between the Romanists and the Presbyterians.

The Romanist schools, which predominate in the south and the west, are the instruments of Popery; in the north of Ireland they are just as exclusively Presbyterian. We will suppose the children well instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and, in each class of schools, imbibing the predilections of those by whom they are instructed.

Our object is not, at present, to discuss the merits of the Irish National Education question, but to put our readers in full possession of the precise mental condition of a vast majority of the population, and their aptitude or inaptitude to be influenced by publications, a brief sample of which is to be found in the preceding pages.

The Roman Catholic priests and the national school-masters are now, wherever the Popish religion predominates, the appointed instructors of the people. Every one who has bestowed any serious thought upon the working of an educational system, knows that the books which are read are of little consequence compared with those by whom they are taught. As are the schoolmasters, so will be the schools. The personal influence of the former will always determine the character of the latter, for good or for evil. And the best system of instruction that ever was devised, under the conduct of a teacher perverted by the errors, and infected by the spirit, of Irish Romanism, will but reflect those errors and propagate that spirit in the vast majority of those over whom his influence extends.

What, therefore, is the amount of what has been done and is doing for enlightening the masses of the Irish people? They are just fitted and prepared for the demagogue, who impresses upon them as a sacred duty, to labour for the overthrow of an heretical Church, and to strive, with all their might and main, for the exaltation of the Roman Catholic religion, and the independence of Ireland! They are no longer, it is true, an unlettered people. They can read. But their reading is almost confined to these productions which taint their morals and sap their allegiance. By what is done for them, the raw material is just wrought into that state in which it may be most readily converted to purposes of sedition. The cotton is saturated with the inflammable fluid which will soon render it one of the most dangerous of combustibles. This is all clear gain to the pestilent disturber. So far from being "let or hindered," he is aided in his designs, by what has been done for giving the people just so much knowledge as may enable them to imbibe and to propagate his lessons of treason. "The National Library" is the natural adjunct to "the National Schools." The lives of the traitors who figured in the late rebellion will be eagerly read, where the word of God is interdicted. The teacher, who is the active agent of the priest, a collector of the O'Connell tribute, and a contributor to the repeal rent, will not by his comments very materially counteract the impressions which are made upon susceptible minds by the most glaring misstatements of facts, and the most slanderous and envenomed misrepresentations. And what the effect of this must be, can be but very imperfectly understood by those who do not know the ardent temperament of the Irish, and their passionate devotion to objects which have once become dear to them from their supposed subserviency to the renown, or the well-being, of their native land.

In each of the volumes which compose "The National Library," there are one hundred and forty closely-printed pages. They are published monthly, and are sold for so low a price as four pence each. Fifteen thousand are struck off as a first impression; and the proprietors are content to lose five thousand before any profit begins to be made. The impression does not remain upon hands more than a few days, and is carried by flying stationers to all parts of Ireland. It is not, therefore, rash to affirm that the principles which these works inculcate, and the views they advocate, are, or will be, in a very short time, the views and the principles of a vast majority of the Romish population.

Education, as it had its origin in the zeal and the piety of the Protestant community, was calculated to rescue the minds of the people, not only from ignorance, but from that depraving acquaintance with profligate and mischievous publications to which they were exposed. The "Life of the highwayman, Freney," the "Life of the highwayman, Redmond O'Hanlon," the "Irish Rogues and Rapparees," and other works of that kind, constituted the popular literature, which was but too well calculated to foster that desperate spirit of unprincipled adventure, by which many of the humbler classes were characterized. For these, by the benevolent labours of the Association for Discountenancing Vice, and the Kildare-place Society, were substituted works of a rational, improving, and edifying character, by which much was done to give a right direction to the minds of the people, and to guide them into the paths of peace and order. But "the National system" has reversed all this. Practically, the education of the masses has been transferred to the Roman Catholic priests. The Scriptural schools have been discountenanced by the governing authorities, and the class of improving publications, by which so much good was done, must now, in their turn, give place to the more stimulating attractions of the "Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald," the "Life of Theobald Wolfe Tone," the lives of the other worthies who figure in Madden's "Lives of the United Irishmen," the history of "The Rising of Ninety-Eight, which contains hints and suggestions by which a future rising may be rendered more prosperous to the disaffected; and a multitude of other publications of a similar character, compared with which the worst of those which went before them, and which the Protestant education societies served to banish, might well be deemed innocent, if not deserving of positive commendation. Freney and his compeers might, it is true, serve to propagate a spirit of wild adventure, adverse to those settled habits and wholesome morals by which social order is best maintained; but they did not contain the combustibles by which the fabric of society may be shivered into fragments, or communicate the views and the principles by which treason is exalted into a virtue, and loyalty branded as a crime!

This may also be said, that the romance of the highway, which commonly terminates either in transportation or the gallows, has its repulsive as well as its attractive side. If it serve to allure by tales of wild adventure, it no less deters by its exhibition of the penalties which rarely fail to overtake the most gallant and chivalrous of the knights of the road, who, sooner or later, fall into the hands of that ugliest of customers, the executioner. Their effects for evil, therefore, are rather upon individuals who are exceptions to their class, than upon the masses at large, who will always be protected against them by the ordinary prudential motives which teach men to shun disgrace and keep out of danger. Moreover, whatever serves to exalt the community as an object of patriotic regard, must proportionately counteract the tendencies which would impair its security or disturb its repose, by outrages against its individual members. But the works which now issue from the Irish press by hundreds of thousands, and which find eager readers in every village, and almost in every cottage, are all of a character to commend themselves to the hearts and the consciences of a people prepared to receive with implicit deference the statements they contain; and to regard, not with aversion or abhorrence, but with admiration and delight, those great state criminals who have expiated their treasons by their lives, and to reverence them as martyrs in the cause of freedom. The youth who may have been captivated by Freney or Redmond O'Hanlon, when he rises into manhood and mixes with his fellow-men, will find many correctives of that wild and eccentric spirit, which might tempt him to take these bold bad men as his examples. Most assuredly he will not find societies in which their principles are cherished, and which would serve to confirm him in his unhappy predilections. But what is the case with the works before us, which now supply the place of those which were the disgrace of our popular literature, before the Scriptural education societies banished them from our schools? They, every one of them, recommend a Repeal of the Union--an overthrow of the Established Church--a separation between Great Britain and Ireland--the substitution of republican for monarchical government--the lawfulness of assassination as a means of that end, and the accomplishment, in fact, by any and by every means, of all the favourite measures of the patriots of. ninety-eignt-- who have passed, by apotheosis, from the gibbet to the skies, and are pointed out in the political hemisphere, to their admiring votaries, as the brightest constellation of genius and of virtue!

But it is important to satisfy our readers of all classes that we do not mistake, or misrepresent, the spirit and object of these publications. The following passage is one of many which might be cited to show the point of view in which tenants, and mechanics, or labourers, are taught to look at the classes above them:--

"When the French revolution took place, the people resolved wisely to become their own resident landlords, and determined not to starve or rob their virtuous wives and innocent little children any longer, in order to pamper blood-sucking tyrants and drones, who never "worked a stroke," or produced anything for society except vice. The people, as was natural in every country, sympathized with the French revolution or reformation; kings, aristocrats, and the rich, wicked, idle, unproductive, and bamboozling or word-mongering classes, were, on the contrary, struck with dread. They saw clearly if a system of promotion from the ranks was once adopted throughout all society, and an universal order of merit established, that nature's aristocracy would be restored, that all useless, idle, and roguish distinctions would soon be extirpated, and that virtue, talent, and industry, would surely meet with those rewards which the Creator, as an intelligent and just Being, must have intended that they should receive in a civilized and enlightened age. Since the French Revolution, every Frenchman has his snug cottage and bit of land, and the humblest man in France may rise to the highest position in his own country, if he has virtue, talent, or industry. Was it any wonder that the Irish reformers, ridden over by a corrupt committee or parliament, in the pay of England, should sympathize in the French reformation?

"Not only did the poor and oppressed of all nations sympathize in the French Revolution, or human emancipation, but even several honest fellows who were unfortunately born amongst the rich, unfeeling, and dependent classes of society, shared in the universal satisfaction.'

What are the feelings which such teaching must engender? Does not that one passage go far to explain the present frightfully anomalous condition of Ireland?

The trial and the condemnation of the Rev. William Jackson, a dissenting clergyman of the Unitarian persuasion, who was a principal agent in communicating between the French government and the United Irishmen, and was one of the first of the conspirators who became obnoxious to the severity of the law, is thus commented upon for the edification of the rising patriots of the present day:--

"On the 24th of April, 1795, the Rev. William Jackson, an Irishman, was found guilty on English law, and condemned by a paid, and of course, impartial judge, who having finished the job, passed off the following compliments to the twelve packed jury:--'Gentlemen, you have acquitted yourselves with honour and conscientious regard for justice; you have done your duty, and we will do ours. It is more than a century since this land has been cursed with such a crime, and we trust your verdict will operate in preventing a repetition of it.' In this lingo we do not find one word of remorse or sorrow expressed. The judge seems to chuckle with as much delight at the prospect of seeing a Protestant clergyman slain, as a butcher would at the idea of killing a cow or sticking a sheep. Moreover, the judge never seems to think it once necessary to prove what was impossible to prove, namely, that republicanism was a crime worthy of a cruel, bloody, and disgraceful death. The villain never dilated on the grand principles of universal liberty, or freely discussed all forms of tyranny and government in open court. He never told the court, that if republicanism was a crime worthy of death, then all the Scotch and English, in Charles I. reign, were worthy of death, along with their bloody butcher Cromwell. The villain never told the court that if republicanism was a crime worthy of death, then all the Americans, with their virtuous leader Washington, were worthy of death; besides all the French, numbering twenty-six millions, and all the republicans of ancient and modern history, such as the Jews, under their Judges, Brehons, or Presidents, the classic Greeks, the ancient Romans, Carthagenians, Venetians, Genoese, Dutch, &c., and a hundred other nations."

We ask, what but the most utter contempt for, or abhorrence of, English law, can such statements, and we might multiply them to almost any extent, produce? And what, but the most irreclaimable national hatred, can be engendered by the following, and similar, representations?--

"Strange to say, although the English had, with all the business habits of their nation, been most industriously employed for about six hundred years, in robbing, ravishing, murdering, exterminating, exiling, torturing, starving, and brutalizing the Irish, still the descendants of that unfortunate people, the United Irishmen, who had as yet escaped the general fate of their ancestors, felt not the least gratitude to the English, who are always ready enough to preach the text of 'love your enemies' to the Irish, but will never practise such text themselves. Let us picture to ourselves a figure of Brittania, dressed in scarlet, like a harlot of Babylon, standing on the bleeding corpse of Erin, with a bloody sword in one hand, while she is rifling the pocket of her victim with the other, and exclaiming all the time, `Love your enemies;' 'Be grateful.' What a blasphemous farce 1 It was not thus that the Heavenly Saviour preached the doctrines of peace and philanthropic brotherhood to his disciples."

By passages like the following, of which the number is quite unlimited, the people are taught that assassination is justifiable, when necessary for the concealment of conspiracy, or the accomplishment of popular objects. The writer is speaking of the informer Reynolds, by whose timely depositions the leaders of the movement in '98 were arrested:--

"In the middle of April, a Mr. Kinselah called and informed Reynolds that one of the brothers Sheares, who had taken an active part in the direction of the National Association, after the arrests of the 12th of March, had arrived from Dublin, and having held a private meeting of the county delegates, at Dr. Esmond's, near Naas, he informed them, officially, from the Dublin Directory, that Thomas Reynolds was certainly the traitor who caused the arrests of the 12th of March. It was accordingly decreed by the committee, that Reynolds should be summoned to attend at Bell's public-house, Curragh of Kildare, and put to death unless he gave satisfactory proofs that he was innocent. At M'Cann's trial, in July 1798. Reynolds stated, 'that he was informed that the accusation on which he was to be tried, had been brought down from Dublin, by Michael Reynolds, from the Provincial Committee.' When Reynolds received the summons to stand his trial, he was with his cousin, Mr. Dunne, of Leinster-lodge, to whose presence only he attributed his escape from death, for having refused to meet his accusers face to face; the messengers who had been sent for him, went away very sullenly and reluctantly.

"The day after Reynolds had received the summons, Matthew Kennaa, a leading United Irishman, called on Reynolds, to press him to go over to the meeting, but he again declined. Accordingly, as it was now clear that Reynolds was guilty, from his refusing to meet his countrymen, instructions were given to Murphy and Kennaa, to put the perjured reptile to death; and on the 18th of April, these two men rode up to Kilkea Castle, to perform their duty to their country and society. Kennaa, who was a friend of Reynolds, leaving the horses with Murphy, proceeded to meet the informer, who was in the field with some labourers. Reynolds, on seeing Kennaa approaching, observed his confusion, and that he was fumbling for something in his breast. Being naturally gifted with great presence of mind, he at once went up to Kennaa, and laying his hand on his breast, smoked his object, and, if we may believe himself, took the pistol from Kennaa. But this part of the story does not seem probable. The possibility is that he promised Kennaa to clear up matters, and put him off by some plausible excuses, backed by oaths. At any rate Murphy and Kennaa returned without having done anything. Not long after this, Reynolds finding the country too hot to hold him, moved towards the more genial neighbourhood of the English Castle of Dublin."

These are not the ravings of an isolated political maniac; they are not the extravagancies of a bedlamite incendiary, which only pass for "sound and fury" amongst a well-instructed people, and may be safely left to correct themselves. They are the views, the objects, the opinions, and the principles of large masses of the people, to whom recent reforms in our constitutional government have given a vast accession of political power, which will all be used in strict subserviency to the democratic or anarchical projects of their leaders. For their use and instruction "The National Library" has been prepared. In its pages the doctrines are evolved which constitute their political creed, and the precepts and the rules of action laid down which are to regulate their civil and social conduct. Let only one generation be thus thoroughly leavened with the revolutionary principles there set forth, and before another passes away such evil may be wrought as would produce a fatal change in the character and the condition of the whole of the British empire. What sane man does not see that, in the event of an attempted separation of Great Britain from this country, which would be inevitable were the Act of Union repealed, while England would sink, at once, to the condition of a third or fourth rate power, Ire•land would become a howling wilderness?

In the last rebellion the Roman Catholic priests, as a body, were neutral; and many of them did good service to the government, which they clearly saw was able and willing to take care of itself. Can the same be said now? Supposing the incendiaries at their destructive work, and the country in a blaze, are they the body from whom much aid could be expected in working the fire engines which should extinguish the conflagration? What said the late Dr. Doyle, the notorious J. K. L., the initials by which he designated himself in his seditious brochures, as Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin? "If a rebellion were raging from Carrickfergus to Cape Clear no Roman Catholic prelate could be found who would issue any fulmination against it!" Can better be hoped for from them now? We desire the reflecting and the judicious to answer the question.

In the late rebellion the corporations were all in the hands of loyal men, whose fidelity might be relied upon in the worst of times, and who, on critical occasions, rendered essential service, in baffling the machinations of traitors. They have now passed into other hands, and have become the strongholds of the enemies of British connexion. Can much assistance be hoped for from them, in the event of any general rising for the assertion of national independence?

The Established Church formerly constituted a body whose station and influence rendered it formidable to the disturbers of the public peace. Pillaged, persecuted, and proscribed, almost in the degree that it has progressed in worth and in usefulness, what could it now accomplish against any formidable movement which menaced the security of the throne or the altar? Upon this dilapidation of the Protestant interest the disaffected now mainly rely for the success of any future attempt to get rid of the domination of England. In "The Rising of '98" we find it thus writen:--

"But what is an Irish Protestant now? Does he not see that England who raised up his Church has destroyed it? Does he not see that England deprived him of a nation, and has left him even without a party? Does he not see that England with her intrigues, and unchristian calumnies, and vile gold, and affected bigotry, and Peep-o' Day Boys, and Orangemen, separated him from his brother-Irishman, prevented him from reforming his Irish Parliament, and emancipating his Catholic subjects, and then--passed those measures herself? Does he not see that England has butchered the finest Protestants that Ireland ever saw, martyred heroes like Fitzgerald, Tone, Emmet, and hosts of others? Does he not see that England exiled the finest Protestants the world ever saw, such as Arthur O'Connor, Addis Emmet, Hamilton Rowan, and ship loads of others? Are not the Protestants of other lands the first to wave the standard of liberty?

"But who has made the Irish Protestant hoist the black flag and no quarter, butcher his fellow-countrymen, betray and sell his country like another Judas? Who else but England? The Protestants of Ireland know and feel all this: they have felt adversity, have become an altered race of men, have seen through the villanies of the English, are sorry for the past, and will be forgiven, and will again take the good Protestant oath, 'in the awful presence of God, to form a brotherhood of affection among Irishmen of every religious persuasion.' Then, and not till then, will Ireland be what she ought to be. Religious prejudices, quarrels, and murders shall cease; and all Irishmen of all opinions shall once more become United Irishmen, and shall again sing together in grand chorus, joined hand in hand as of old,

'Let each man choose his favourite way his Maker to adore,
And we'll tell the world we're Irishmen, we're Paddys, and no more.'"

This, alas! is too true. The deserted Protestant too keenly feels his abandonment by English rulers; and is either quitting the country, or joining himself to the disaffected, or remaining in a state of sullen acquiescence in evils which he can only vainly deplore. All these things are against us.

The landed gentry, they, too, are a proscribed race. Their Protestantism is their offence, which has been aggravated in all cases in which they have sought to counteract such mischievous publications as those to which we have alluded, by a system of sound instruction based upon the Word of God. Where can we now find amongst them the men who, in '98, confronted rebellion, and established British authority against foreign and domestic enemies? Echo answers, "Where!" The vigorous government, the spirited and determined officials, who were "ambo magnus timor latronibus" by whom traitors and malefactors were hunted out, and brought to justice, have now given place to timid temporizers, who hold office upon the sufferance of the faction whose organized agitation they must connive at, if they would not themselves be discarded. Where is the minister who would now incur the responsibility of any acts, be they never so imperiously demanded by the necessities of the country, for which an act of indemnity would be required? Our statesmen are no longer the oaks of the forest--they are reeds shaken by the wind!

When to all this is added the vast power now in the hands of the Roman Catholic priesthood--a body pledged, almost to a man, to the repeal of the legislative union--where, we ask, is the available refuge from the evils which are in prospect? Would any one be mad enough to advise a prosecution of the seditious press? No; when treason is coursing through the veins and arteries of a nation, no one but an empyric would hold out as a means of safety mere topical applications. When the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint, nothing short of a sanative process which has reference to the whole inward as well as outward man, can afford any hope of sensible amelioration. A searching examination should be instituted into the working of the present system of national education. Inquiry should be made, how far, as at present conducted, it is calculated to meet, by adequate counteraction, the seditious and demoralizing publications, which are, in such numbers, (their name may well be called legion), sapping and mining the loyalty, and corrupting the morals of the people. Let no mystification, on this most important subject, any longer be endured. Let no plausible theorizing as to the advantages of education in general blind a discerning public to the tremendous evils which may arise from its partial or mischievous application. It may be that the masses in Ireland are no longer unlettered. The question is, what do they read? To what purpose is it that new faculties are awakened in them, if they be not properly directed? Of what value are the new powers that are conferred upon them, if they only inspire hatred of England, and prompt the desire of those revolutionary changes which can never take place without menacing the integrity of the British empire. Let these inquiries be made while there is yet time, and let the minds of reflecting people be enlightened by the result. Should this prove favourable to "the national system," by which the Scriptural schools have been so sorely "let and hindered," in God's name let it be continued, and let even augmented means of usefulness be placed at the disposal of those by whom it is superintended. But if the contrary should turn out to be the fact, and if the system should prove not to be the tree of life, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we trust there is still wisdom and virtue enough in the nation to compel a blinded legislature to retrace their errors, and provide such safeguards for the wise and the honest administration of their functions by the National Board, as may render their system in reality a blessing to Ireland.

[1] "The Rising in '98." "The Mercenary Informers of '98." "The Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald." "The Life of Theobald Wolf Tone." "The Life of Daniel O'Connell," forming part of the "National Library for Ireland." M'Cormick, 16, Christ Church Place, Dublin, 1846.