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Ireland Under Coercion (2nd ed.) (1 of 2) (1888)   By: (1827-1895)

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"Upon the future of Ireland hangs the future of the British Empire." CARDINAL MANNING TO EARL GREY, 1868


Although barely a month has elapsed since the publication of these volumes, events of more or less general notoriety have so far confirmed the views taken in them of the actual state and outlook of affairs in Ireland, that I gladly comply with the request of my publisher for a Preface to this Second Edition.

Upon one most important point the progressive demoralisation of the Irish people by the methods of the so called political combinations, which are doing the work of the Agrarian and Anti Social Revolution in Ireland, some passages, from a remarkable sermon delivered in August in the Cathedral of Waterford by the Catholic bishop of that diocese, will be found to echo almost to the letter the statement given to me in June by a strong Protestant Home Ruler, that "the Nationalists are stripping Irishmen as bare of moral sense as the bushmen of South Africa."

Speaking of what he had personally witnessed in one of the lanes of Waterford, the Bishop says, in the report which I have seen of his sermon, "the most barbarous tribes of Africa would justly feel ashamed if they were guilty of what I saw, or approached to the guilt I witnessed, on that occasion." As a faithful shepherd of his people, he is not content with general denunciations of their misconduct, but goes on to analyse the influences which are thus reducing a Christian people to a level below that of the savages whom Cardinal Lavigerie is now organising a great missionary crusade to rescue from their degradation.

He agrees with Archbishop Croke in attributing much of this demoralisation to the excessive and increasing use of strong drink, striking evidences of which came under my own observation at more than one point of my Irish journeys. But I fear Archbishop Croke would scarcely agree with the Bishop of Waterford in his diagnosis of the effects upon the popular character of what has now come to pass current in many parts of Ireland as "patriotism."

The Bishop says, "The women as well as the men were fighting, and when we sought to bring them to order, one man threatened to take up a weapon and drive bishop, priests, and police from the place! On the Quay, I understand, it was one scene of riot and disorder, and what made matters worse was that when the police went to discharge their duty for the protection of the people, the moment they interfered the people turned on them and maltreated them in a shocking way. I understand that some police who were in coloured clothes were picked out for the worst treatment knocked down and kicked brutally. One police officer, I learn, had his fingers broken. This is a state of things that nothing at all would justify. It is not to be justified or excused on any principle of reason or religion. What is still worse, sympathy was shown for those who had obstructed and attacked the police. The only excuse I could find that was urged for this shameful misconduct was that it was dignified with the name of 'patriotism'! All I can say is, that if rowdyism like this be an indication of the patriotism of the people, as far as I am concerned, I say, better our poor country were for ever in political slavery than attain to liberty by such means."

This is the language of a good Catholic, of a good Irishman, and of a faithful Bishop. Were it more often heard from the lips of the Irish Episcopate the true friends of Ireland might look forward to her future with more hope and confidence than many of the best and ablest of them are now able to feel. As things actually are, not even the Papal Decree has yet sufficed to restrain ecclesiastics, not always of the lowest degree, from encouraging by their words and their conduct "patriotism" of the type commemorated by the late Colonel Prentiss of Louisville, in a story which he used to tell of a tipsy giant in butternut garments, armed with a long rifle, who came upon him in his office on a certain Fourth of July demanding the loan of a dollar on the ground that he felt "so confoundedly patriotic!"

The Colonel judiciously handed the man a dollar, and then asked, "Pray, how do you feel when you feel confoundedly patriotic?"

"I feel," responded the man gravely, "as if I should like to kill somebody or steal something... Continue reading book >>

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