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the fight so soon. Chesterf.eld was to Englishmen a fribble and a fop; he was to Irishmen of education the one English Lord-Lieutenant who ever seemed to have any comprehen: sion of the real needs of Ireland. Fox was denounced in England and adored in Ireland, because he made himself the champion of the principle of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas. One of Byron's chief offences in the eyes of English Conservatives was that his enthusiasm for Ireland was almost equal to his enthusiasm for Greece. Again and again, in every generation, the object of admiration to Eng. lishmen was the object of distrust or dislike, or toth, to all Irishmen who professed to have in them anything of the sentiment of nationality. All this feeling of antagonism was undoubtedly strengthened and sharpened by the existence of the State Church. There was not one rational word to be said on principle for the maintenance of such an institu. tion. Sydney Smith said, in his humorous way: “There is no abuse like it in all Europe, in all Asia, in all the discovered parts of Africa, and in all we have heard of Timbuctoo." No foreign statesman probably ever admired English institutions more than Count Cavour did. Yet Cavour wrote that the State Church in Ireland "remains to the Catholics a representative of the cause of their miseries, a sign of defeat and oppression. It exasperates their sufferings, and makes their humiliation more keenly telt." Every argument in favor of the State Church of England was an argument against the State Church in Ireland. The English Church, as an institution, is defended on the ground that it represents the religious convictions of the great majority of the English people, and that it is qualified to take welcome charge of those who would otherwise be left without any religious care or teaching in England. The Catholics in Ireland were, to all other denominations together, as five to one; the State Church represented only a small proportion of a very small minority. There was not the slighest pre
text for affecting to believe that it could become the mother and the guardian of orphans and waits among the Irish people. In many places the Protestant clergyman preached to a dozen listeners; in some places he thought himself lucky when he could get half a dozen. There were places with a Protestant clergyman and Protestant church and absolutely no Protestant worshippers. There had not of late years been much positive hostility to the State Church among the Irish people. Since the abolition of the system of tithes, since the dues of the parson were no longer collected by an armed military force with occasional accompaniment of bloodshed, the bitterness of popular feeling had very much mitigated. The Irish people grew to be almost indifferent on the subject. “With Henry II.,” says Sydney Smith, “ came in tithes, to which, in all probability, about one million of lives may have been sacrificed in Ireland." All that was changed at last. So long as the clergyman was content to live quietly and mind his own flock, where he had any to mind, his Catholic neighbors were not dis. posed to trouble themselves much about him. If, indeed. he attempted to do that which, by all strict logical reasoning, he must have regarded himself as appointed to do it he attempted any work of conversion, then he aroused such a storm of anger that he generally found it prudent to withdraw from t'e odious and hopeless enterprise. If he was a sensible man he was usually content to minister to his own people and meddle no further with others. In the large towns he generally had his considerable congregation, and was busy enough. In some of the country places of the south and west he preached every Sunday to his little flock of five or six, while the congregation of the Catholic chapel a short distance off were covering great part of the hillside around the chapel door, because their numbers were many times too great to allow them to find room within the building itself. Sydney Smith has described, in a few words, the
condition of things as it existed in his time : "On an Irish Sabbath the bell of a neat parish church often summons to church only the parish and an occasionally conforming clerk; while two hundred yards off a thousand Catholics are huddled together in a miserable hovel, and pelted by all the storms of heaven.” In days nearer to our own the miserable hovel had for the most part given place to a large and handsome church ; in many places to a vast and stately cathedral. Nothing could be more remarkable than the manner in which the voluntary offerings of the Irish Catholics covered the face of the country with churches dedicated to the uses of their faith. Often the contributions came in liberal measure from Irishmen settled in far-off countries who were not likely ever again to see their native fields. Irish Catholic priests crossed the Atlantic, crossed even the Pacific, to ask for help to maintain their churches; and there came from Quebec and Ontario, from New York, New Orleans and Chicago, from Melbourne and Sydney, from Tasmania and New Zealand, the money which put up the churches and spires on the Irish mountain-sides. The pro. portion between the Protestants and the Catholics began to tell more and more disadvantageously for the State Church as years went on. Of late the influx of the Catholic work. ing population into the northern province threatens to overflow the supremacy of Protestantism to Protestantism is own stronghold.
It has often been said that it England had not persecuted the Catholics, if she had not thrust her Siate Church on them under circumstances which made it an insolent badge of conquest, the Irish people might have been gradually won over to the religion of England. To us nothing seems more unlikely than any such change. The Irish people, we are convinced, would under any circumstances whatever have remained faithful to the Catholic Church. As we have al. ready endeavored to show, it is the Church which seems
specially appointed to be the guide of there teedogs ana their nature. But it is certain that if there had been no persecution and no State Church, the feelingu of the Irish people toward England would have been very different from what they actually are even at this day. Therv would have been no rebellion of 1798. There would have been no hatred of Protestant to Catholic, Catholic to Protestant. All this is obvious; every one says as much now. But there is another view of the question; there is another harmful effect of the State Church and its surroundings, which is not so often considered nor so commonly admitted. This is the in. direct harm which was done by the setting up ir Ireland of a “British party," to employ a phrase once familiar in politics, a party supposed to represent the interests of the English Government, and indeed to be, as it was commonly called, the Protestant garrison in Ireland. Naturally the government always acted on the advice of that party, and as a matter of course they were frequently deceived. The British party had no way of getting at the real feelings of the Irish people; they were among them, but not of them. They kept on continually assuring the government that there was no real cause of dissatisfaction in Ireland; that the objection to this or that odious institution or measure came only from a few agitators, and not from the whole population. It will not be forgotten that down to the very outbreak of the American War of Independence there were the remnants of a British party in the Northern States, who assured the English Government that there was no real dissatisfaction among the American colonists,and no idea whatever of severing the connection with England. The same sort of counsel was given, the same fatal service was rendered, on almost all important occasions by the British party in Ireland. It was probably from observing this condition of things that Mr. Gladstone came to the conclusion that the Fenian outbreak, the Manchester rescue, and the Clerk.
en well explosion furnished a proper opportunity for a new system of legislation in Ireland. Few actions on the part of a public man have been more persistently misrepresented or more obstinately misunderstood than the course taken by Mr. Gladstone. It has been constantly asserted that he declared himself impelled to propose new legislation for Ire. land by the violence of the Fenian enterprises, and that he thus held out a premium to political agitation of the most audacious kind, by offering an assurance to the agitator that if he would only be daring and lawless enough he might have full gratification of his demands. Yet Mr. Gladstone's meaning was surely plain. He saw that the one great difficulty in the way of substantial legislation for Irish grievances had always been found in the fact that the English Parlia. ment and public did not believe in the reality of the grievance. Englismen put aside every claim made on behalf of Ireland with the assurance that the Irish people were entirely indifferent on the subject; that the Irish people felt no grievance, and therefore had not complained of any. The Fenian movement was in Mr. Gladstone's eye the most substantial refutation of this comfortable belief. The most easy-going and self-complacent Philistine could not feel that there was no grievance pressing on the minds of the Irish people when he found rebellion going on under his very eyes, and Fenian devotees braving death for their cause, and its captains in his very streets. Mr. Gladstone was right. One of the sad defects of our Parliamentary system is that no remedy is likely to be tried for any evil until the evil has made its presence felt in some startling way. The Clerkenwell explosion was but one illustration of a common condition of things. We seldom have any political reform without a previous explosion.
On March 16th, 1868, a remarkable debate took place in the House of Commons. It had for its subject the condition of Ireland, and it was introduced by a series of resolutions