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of faction fighting; whose lives were intemperate; who drank a spirit, which not only intoxicated, but maddened-not merely stupified, but set the whole frame on fire. They came in contact with the inhabitants of the interior of the country, who were extensively engaged in the making of illicit spirits, and with those on the coast, occupied in the atrocious system of wrecking-that is (for some of our readers may happily be ignorant of the existence of such depravity), holding out beacons on conspicuous parts of the coast to lure vessels in distress, and when they struck, to rob the cargo and the crew, heedless of the lives that were lost, or the crime the perpetrators committed.
We must also remember the powerful influence which Roman Catholicism has, in all times and countries, exercised over minds uninformed, and, therefore, easily accessible to superstition; and that this influence in Ireland was more especially, strong; that the Roman Catholic priesthood, identified with the peasantry in birth, language, and interest, exercised an unbounded sway over them. And we should remember also, that a faith which is persecuted by penal laws-laws which we seek not here to justify-is clung to with a strong tenacity. Indeed, it seems to be a principle of our nature, both in secular and religious matters, that if we are persecuted for a doctrine, a notion, or a tenet, we adhere to one or all much more obstinately, if wrong (but firmly if right), than we should do if encountered with the arguments of reason and of mildness.
But there were other causes to increase the arduousness of the task the clergy had to undergo. As far as practicable, the law of England was introduced into Ireland (we need not enter into a comparison, but, at all events, it differed from a Brehon or a Lynch law); the administration of the English code was confided to men of intelligence and education, who were the descendants of English settlers-those Saxons of whom we have lately heard so much; and, we well know, that where frequent crimes render severe laws necessary, their enforcement will be unpalatable to the criminal; add to this, that the generality of the people may not have understood them. At all events, an antipathy to the English laws was general; and it became as infamous to give evidence, as it was damnable to abjure idolatry. "Turncoat" and "informer" were terms of the keenest reproach and of the utmost dread. The clergy of the Established Church had but one course to adopt-range themselves on the side of law and order. They could not sympathize with crime, or, under the convenient cloak of the confessional, screen the criminal; and here again they became antagonistic to the body of the people.
Again, we know by fatal experience that religious strife produces deadly hatred; even in polemical discussions, which extend not beyond words, how difficult is it to preserve a Christian temper, a forgiving and a charitable disposition, and this among educated and enlightened men ; and how much more forcibly does the observation apply, when men make politics their religion, and add to the dreadful struggles of civil strife the untold horrors of religious warfare. When the bayonet of the Protestant crossed that of the Roman Catholic, at the battle of the Boyne, an exasperated animosity was engendered which long, long
years have failed to crush. A similar scene was again enacted on a darkened stage in 1798. And it is a difficult task for the minister of peace to bring about concord and goodwill, much less unity of faith, between the Protestant and the Catholic; the one, perchance, remembering that his wife, his child, or his relative were piked or burnt, and the other, that those nearest and dearest to him were shot, or hung up by martial law.
It may be said that we have taken up extreme cases. We do not mean to affirm that every family in Ireland has suffered from rebellions and outbreaks; but we do say, that in many parts of Ireland a great soreness of feeling, arising from the causes we have mentioned, does exist; that in other parts much bitterness of feeling and mutual distrust have arisen, from the opinion of the Protestants, that they cannot place perfect reliance on the Roman Catholics, and, on the part of the Roman Catholics, from the inferiority under which they labour, in point of birth, education, and fortune. We hope that these feelings may be forgotten; but we have a right to allude to them as amongst the difficulties of the Irish clergy.
It would be uncandid in us to deny, before we part with this branch of our subject, that many of the bygone race of the Irish clergy were remiss and inattentive; startled, it may have been, by the difficulties they had to encounter, or deadened by the paucity of their hearers, their hearts may have failed them, their energies may have stagnated, and their zeal became cooled; but this race has passed away, and in their stead has sprung up a body of men devoted to the service of their God, and faithful ministers, through evil and good report, of their Master's word. It will be evident, that did we enter fully into this branch of the subject, this article would expand into a volume. We have told a few of the obstacles which the Irish clergy, within even the sent century, have had to encounter; and we think, that to a candid mind, we have made it clear that the wonder is not why more proselytes have not been made, but that it is a subject of great thankfulness that the Church has been preserved at all, and that of those who have been given to her ministers, not one has been lost.
To sum up, we state, that till within the last few years, an Irish clergyman, in the districts where Popery predominated, has had to contend with a half-civilized, and totally uneducated people, addicted to insubordination, lawlessness, and intemperance, powerfully attached to an opposite creed, by their hereditary antipathy to ours (increased by civil warfare), and by the recollection that it was the faith of their fathers, from which it would be disgraceful to be a turncoat; a faith taught, too, by a priesthood closely and intimately identified with them. The clergyman has had to soften political asperities, to heal long existing animosities, to traverse uncultivated bogs and mountains, over which his own flocks are thinly scattered, to relieve poverty, mendicancy, and misery; to contend too against a difference of language-to speak words which come not home to the hearts of the Irish, for they are not uttered in their mother tongue.*
We mean not to deal barshly with the Irish people. Fine qualities, generous impulses, they undoubtedly largely possess; but their nature has been perverted by demagogues their kindly sympathies withered by a false religion,
We could lengthen and darken the picture, but it is not our wish to overdraw in the least particular; but when cavillers taunt the Church of Ireland, and boastingly exclaim, "You have made no proselytes," let them not taking into account the inscrutable ways of Providence, which we are not permitted irreverently to explore-dispassionately examine the subject, and we think that if they retain a spark of candour, they will admit that the physical difficulties necessary to be overcome have been great and the moral obstacles almost stupendous.
But, as if these hindrances were not sufficient, the tithe-war was commenced. It is unquestionable that a great improvement has taken place in Ireland within the last twenty-five years, and with the increase of civilization, the energies of the clergy were redoubled; districts, before almost inaccessible, were visited with ministerial superintendence, schools were established, and a scriptural education given to thousands of the population. But the better directed, and the more efficacious the efforts of the clergy, the more formidable did they become to the Roman Catholic priesthood; every new proselyte (and at this time there were many, though we fear some were insincere, andhave since relapsed) became an object of terror and of hatred to his priest.*
A move for the better was made. The clergy, active, zealous, and well informed, were employed in the religious instruction of their flocks (and the ignorance on religious subjects of the lower orders of Protestants was great), and, where practicable, in disseminating the Bible amongst the Roman Catholics. They were forward, too, in developing the resources of the country, in providing hospitals and dispensaries for the sick poor, and in promoting the happiness and comfort of the people. But this state of things was not to last. Roman Catholic Emancipation was granted, and the downfall of the Protestant Church in Ireland was the next attempt. Passive resistance to tithes soon became active hostility, and the clergy, many with large families, and heavy liabilities incurred, either for their present support or ultimate provision, in the shape of insurance, had the dreadful alternative either to let their families starve, or enforce payment of their tithes at the risk of bloodshed. It would be needless to dwell on what is fresh in every one's memory-to relate the patience with which privations "mean and pitiful to tell, but dreadful to endure," were borne, until the sympathy of the Christian public in England came to the relief of men almost worn out with anxiety, and depressed with the rancorous hostility they had to encounter. Despite the efforts of the enemies of the Establish
It is hard to judge these converts; they were subject to persecution and great personal danger. Excommunication from the Church of Rome is no brutum fulmen, and it requires the exercise of strong faith, and considerable personal courage, especially in the female sex, to endure alienation from those we love, the taunts and reproaches of our friends, and personal violence from a husband or a father.
It may be in the recollection of many, that Lord John Russell, heartlessly indifferent to the sufferings of the clergy, treated them as mostly imaginary, and said such complaints reminded him of the lines of the poet
"Call it madness, call it folly,
Thou canst not chase my grief away;
I would not, if I could be gay."
ment to resist the law, efforts at which the Whig Government connived, if they did not aid; and despite the repeated struggles of that Government to alienate the revenues of the Church to secular purposes; thanks to the firmness of the House of Lords, the latter object failed, and by the conversion of tithes into a rent-charge, collision with the people is now impossible.
Before we come to the moral position and capabilities of good existing in the Irish Church, let us see how it stands as to temporalities, after so long sustained and so fierce an attack. It is true that the incomes of the clergy are very seriously diminished, to a far greater extent than is generally known; at one blow one-fourth was struck off by the Act of 1837. Previously, in addition to the revenues of the ten suppressed bishoprics, a heavy tax payable to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was imposed on benefices, according to a graduated scale (rising or falling in proportion to the value of the benefice), in substitution for church-rates, which were abolished. And further, the Irish Poor Law Act creates a large and unfairly proportioned charge on the remaining income of the clergy. We think we are within the mark when we state, that the net income is forty per cent. lessened.
We have gained, however, advantages which almost counterbalance the loss. We admit the excellence and practical good working of the Tithe Rent Charge Bill; the sacrifice of income is compensated, we think, by the casiness and certainty of the present mode of collection. And it is a matter of great importance and pleasure to the clergy to have no money dealings with the mass of their parishioners; and the imposition of church-rates was a constant source of wrangling and collision between them and the Roman Catholic rate-payer. The funds received by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are devoted to the erection or reparation of churches (and many have been built, and all the existing ones, or very nearly so, are in good and substantial repair) and strictly church purposes. If the poor-rate relieve any of the existing destitution, check mendicancy, and in any wise improve the condition of the people, the clergy will not object to the payment of this tax; their hands were never closed to the call of charity, and even if the experiment of the introduction of the Poor Law fail, they regard it as an effort of benevolence; and though perhaps inapplicable in many of its details, they do not grudge their fair proportion of the burden. It may palliate the fearful distress which at certain seasons of the year has threatened whole provinces almost with starvation. The clergy of Ireland are neither an avaricious nor a parsimonious body of men, and
This ill-timed sally, which did little credit to the heart of the noble Lord, was treated with just indignation by the Conservative side of the House, and it was an unpalatable and bitter jest to the poor sufferers, who, instead of the support they had a right to expect from the leader of her Majesty's Government in the House of Commons, had their privations treated with derision, and their trials scoffed at. We have seen an appropriate addenda to the quotation of his lordship:
"Oh, Russell, if you only knew
One half the miseries we have borne,
if a decent provision be provided and secured for them and their successors, they are not dissatisfied-nor are we unreasonable. Many causes of contention have been removed. Christian men will forego much for the sake of peace; and we trust that the revenues of the Church, though considerably lessened, are placed on a better and a more permanent footing.
And now, how stands the Irish Church? She has come forth from a long trial purified and strengthened; her clergy are distinguished for their piety and intelligence. Many of the physical obstacles which we have enumerated, have either passed or are passing away; and with the increase of civilization many, too, of the moral ones. If the present dangerous agitation, which unsettles men's minds, disturbs their feelings, and warps their judgments was removed, the prospect is hopeful. The present generation have lately become temperate from mistaken principle; the next may be so from honest conviction. The present are a thoughtless generation; the next may be a thinking one. Though we lament to say that the education of the mass of the people is not under the superintendence of the clergy, still in their schools there are many Roman Catholic children who read the word of God; and we hope that much ignorance, and consequent liability to brutality and superstition, will be removed.
Though we cannot say that the course is clear before the Irish clergy, it certainly is glorious to run; but it is not from extensive proselytising that we expect much immediate result; on the contrary, we should fear, that if there was an injudicious and over-hasty attempt made in this way, much hostility would be occasioned, and the increase of Protestantism retarded. We hope more from the benefit of example, from the contrast visible in the man of meekness, piety, and practical usefulness, and in the fiery politician and the coarse and uneducated religious tyrant, and more especially from the difference of the Protestant and Roman Catholic religion, and also from the more general diffusion of education, which will enable men to see, and read, and learn for themselves, that the faith which we profess is supported by the diffusion of the Bible, whilst that of Popery is upheld by its exclusion. If ever there was a time when it was more especially incumbent on this nation to support, strengthen, and maintain the Irish Church, it is the present; for in its continuance rests the best chance for the moral as well as physical amelioration of Ireland. Does any one doubt that if it were shaken or overthrown, the power of Popery would not be so vastly increased, as to spread its withering and destructive influences, not only on our spiritual, but temporal welfare? We know enough of its Punic faith to dread it; we know how insidious and insinuating are its overtures, and how deadly and poisonous its embrace. The same thirst for temporal power, which has ever actuated it, is now actively at work in Ireland. Since the Roman Catholic priesthood have, almost to a man, joined the Repeal Association, is any one so dull as not to perceive, so obstinate as to close his eyes to the fact, that it is no mere political power alone that is sought, but the downfall, not only of the Protestant Church, but of a Protestant monarchy, laws, and constitution? We have said that it is the interest of England to maintain the