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satiable avarice, to dishonourable ambition, and a sanguinary foreign ascendancy.
It is hoped that the reader of every class and description, of every persuasion, and sect of Christianity, will observe through the pages of this volume of Irish history, that the leading object of its author was the inculcation of that grand and paramount principle of Christianity, which imperatively tells us to respect the religious feelings of every human being—to practise that toleration which each sect is perpetually demanding, and leave to God and to his creature the settlement of those points which are beyond all human controul, and should ever command the veneration of the wise, the liberal, and the enlightened.
That the partizan of faction, or the partizan of the people that the advocate of intolerance, as well as the advocate of equal and impartial privilege, will find much to censure, and perhaps little to praise, must be expected by him who pleads the cause of truth with firmness and impartiality.
The author has endeavoured to refute the libeller of Ireland, with temperance and decorum. The composer of an abridgment of Irish history can lay but little claim to the merit of invention : his duty is to select with industry and with judgment; to compare his authorities with caution, anxiety, and impartiality; and to put into as small a space as possible, the grand and leading features of his history. To such claims, the author will flatter himself he may, without the hazard of contradiction, put in his humble pretensions. · If on closing this volume the heart of the reader shall sympathise with the sufferings of Ireland—if he be inclined to shed a single tear over the graves of those illustrious dead who combated, though unsuccessfully, for the liberty, the religion, and the fame of their country—if he be disposed to acknowledge that no country under heaven ever suffered so much from the crimes and the follies of its rulers, the author will congratulate Ireland on the effects of his labours, and will thankfully acknowledge his ample remuneration in the benefits which must flow to his countrymen from the dissemination of such feelings.
It is universally admitted by every friend to the religion, the liberties, and the welfare of Ireland, that nothing can contribute so much to their promotion, as the dissemination of that historical knowledge which informs the Irish people what their country has been what it now is-and by what means its future prosperity may be retarded or advanced. The Irishman who is ignorant of the history of his country, can but little contribute to the councils of men whose opinions are regulated by the wisdom of their ancestors, and whose errors are corrected by the accurate knowledge of the mistakes of those who have gone before them. He who is a stranger to the history of Ireland, can draw no resources from the laborious lucubrations of talent, or the brilliant discoveries of genius, to which his country has given birth, and which time has swept into the grave. Such a man can receive no supplies from the treasury of antiquity. Centuries have rolled by, without advantage to him against whom the book of history has been closed : the author and his productions sink into the same tomb, unobserved and unthought of. For him the ancient magmificence of Ireland is in vain established by the successful researches of the antiquarian; and the wisdom of former ages lies mouldering in records, which perhaps he has had no opportunity of examining.
The principal object of the present work, is to give uni
versal circulation to the leading and remarkable features of Irish history—To give those features with veracity —with conciseness—and at such a price as may render them accessible to the poor, though independent Irishman.
The early period of Irish history may perhaps be considered more interesting to the curious antiquarian than to the practical politician. The records of Keating, however flattering to the pride of an Irishman, will be found but little calculated to add to that stock of useful information, which our modern history so abundantly affords. The memory of his reader is oppressed by the labour of recollection; and the efforts of the historian to establish the authenticity of Irish fame, and the superior claim of Irish genealogy, too frequently entangle the understanding of the reader in unprofitable researches, visionary inquiries, and idle conjectųres. The present compendium takes a rapid view of those days of greatness, of which the Irish bards have sung with rapturous enthusiasm : it then passes * to the second Henry of England, and carries the records of the principal and most leading events, down to the reign of George the First. This task, it is hoped, will be found to be performed with proper anxiety for the interest of truth, as well as the honour and welfare of our country.
The writer of this volume has another object in view, and he hopes, one which will find shelter in every Irish bosomnamely, to excite an honest and an ardent feeling among his countrymen, for the recorded sufferings of Ireland, and to teach, from the experience of the past, the most certain and judicious mode of guarding against the calamities of the future. To accomplish these views in one volume, at once compendious and satisfactory, will be admitted by the candid and ingenuous reader, to be a task of difficulty and hazard.