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Ridgeway An Historical Romance of the Fenian Invasion of Canada   By: (1815-1896)

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[Transcriber's Note: The nonstandard spellings of the original have been retained in this etext.]






" On our side is virtue and Erin; On theirs' is the Saxon and guilt ." MOORE.



In the dark, English crucible of seven hundred years of famine, fire and sword, the children of Ireland have been tested to an intensity unknown to the annals of any other people. From the days of the second Henry down to those of the last of the Georges, every device that human ingenuity could encompass or the most diabolical spirit entertain, was brought to bear upon them, not only with a view to insuring their speedy degradation, but with the further design of accomplishing ultimately the utter extinction of their race. Yet notwithstanding that confiscation, exile and death, have been their bitter portion for ages notwithstanding that their altars, their literature and their flag have been trampled in the dust, beneath the iron heel of the invader, the pure, crimson ore of their nationality and patriotism still flashes and scintillates before the world; while the fierce heart of "Brien of the Cow Tax," bounding in each and every of them as of yore, yearns for yet another Clontarf, when hoarse with the pent up vengeance of centuries, they shall burst like unlaired tigers upon their ancient, and implacable enemy, and, with one, long, wild cry, hurl her bloody and broken from their shores forever.

Had England been simply actuated by a chivalrous spirit of conquest, alone, or moved by a desire to blend the sister islands into one harmonious whole, even then her descent upon Ireland could not be justified in any degree whatever. Ireland had been her Alma Mater . According to the venerable Bode and others, her noble and second rank flocked thither in the seventh century, where they were "hospitably received and educated, and furnished with books without fee or reward ." Even at the present moment, the Irish or Celtic tongue is the only key to her remote antiquities and ancient nomenclature. The distinguished Lhuyd, in his Archaelogia Britannica, and the celebrated Leibnitz himself, place this latter beyond any possible shadow of doubt. Scarcely a ruined fane or classic pile of any remote date within her borders but is identified with the name of some eminent Irish missionary long since passed away. What would Oxford have been without Joannes Erigena, or Cambridge, deprived of the celebrated Irish monk that stood by the first stone laid in its foundation? The fact is every impartial writer, from the "father of English history" down to the present day, admits, that in the early ages, when darkness brooded over the surrounding nations, Ireland, learned, philanthropic and chivalrous, blazed a very conflagration on the ocean, and stretched forth her jewelled and generous hand to poor, benighted England, and fostered, in addition, the intellectual infancy of Germany, France and Switzerland, as well as the early civilization of regions more remote still. Then it was that the milk and honey of her ancient tongue and lore flowed out from her in rivers to wash the stains from the soul and brow of the stolid and unintellectual Saxon. Then it was, that her very zone gave way in her eagerness to pluck his Pagan life from gloom, and wed her day unto his night. But what of all this now? The sin that is "worse than witchcraft" is upon him! His hands are stained with innocent blood! He has spurned his benefactress with the foot of Nero, "removed her candlestick", and left her in hunger, cold and darkness upon her own hearthstone.

Had not Ireland, at the time of the invasion, been cut up through the fierce pride and petty jealousies of her rulers, the English could never have effected a permanent footing upon her shores. Contemptible in numbers, shipping and appointments, the concentrated opposition of even a few petty chiefs could have scattered them to the winds, or sent them "howling to their gods"... Continue reading book >>

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