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their lives, whither should they flie but into the woods and mountaines, and there live in a wilde and barbarous manner?” Here was the origin of " wilde Irishnien," that fine topic of jest to the ignorant and the witling! “In a word,” adds our author, “ If the English would neither in peace govern them by the law, nor in warre roote them out by the sword, must they not needs be pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their sides to the worlde's end?” And in another place he says, " the Irish were generally reputed aliens to the crown of England, so that it was -no felony to kill a mere Irishman in time of peace.”
By the 4th chapter of the statutes made at Trim, 25 Hen. VI.(A.D. 1447) it was enacted, " that if any were found with their upper lips unshaven by the space of a fortnight, it might be lawful for any man to take them and their goods as Irish enemies, and to ransom them as Irish enemies."
By the 28th Henry VI. c. 3 (A.D. 1450.) It was also made lawful, “ for every liegeman of the King to dispose of them without judge or jury.” You may recollect how the English disposed of that poor King himself, without judge or jury--and rewards were put upon their heads at the suggestion of the resentment of any private individual.
By a statute of the 50th Edward IV. c. 2 (A. D. 1465) it was enacted, “ that it should be lawful to all manner of men that found any thieves robbing, by day or by night, or going to rob or steal, in or out, going or coming, having no faithful man of good name
and fame in their company in English apparel, upon any of the liege people of the king, to take and kill those and cut off their heads, without any impeachment of our sovereign lord and king, &c.” Now, that this was expressly saying that any Englishman might kill any Irishman, whether going or coming, in or out, is evident, because the clause of exemption is too absurd to have any meaning ; for no man would go to rob with a man of good name and fame in English apparel, in his company. And this necessary escort of a man in English apparel resembles the customs of the wandering Tartars, and the plundering hordes of Arabia, whom the traveller is obliged to hire to protect him from other robbers of the same tribe. But hear the rest-It was made lawful to cut off their heads (a humane process) “and of any head so cut in the county of Meath, that the cutter of the said head, and his ayders there to him, cause the said head so'cut, to be brought to the Portreeve of the town of Trim, and the Portreeve put it on a stake or spear, upon the castle of Trim, and that the said Portreeve should give him his writing, under the seal of the said town, testifying the bringing of the said head to him. And that it should be lawful for the bringer of the said head, and his ayders to the same, to destraine and levy with their own hands.” (Summary again.) “Of every man having one ploughland in the baronry where the thief was to be taken, two pence; half a ploughland, one penny; and every man having a house and goods to the value of forty shillings, one penny; and of every
other cottier having house and smoke, one half penny." Here was good encouragement to murder and robbery! And yet God has said "Thou shalt not steal,” and “thou shalt do no murder.” What indignation must these Irish have felt, whose laws, milder even than the benignant institutions of the country where I write, punished no crime with death. Oh barbarous Englishmen-I blush for my bloody ancestors!
By the 40th Edward III. (A.D. 1366) alliance by marriage, nurture of infants, and gossipred with the Irish, are, enacted into high treason. And if any man of English race should use an Irish name, Irish language, or Irish apparel, or any other guise or fashion of the Irish, if he had lands or tenements, the same should be seized, until he had given security to the chancery, to conform himself in all points to the English manner of living! Well does this author observe" That the plagues of Egypt, though they were grievous, were of short continuance: but the plague of Ireland lasted four hundred years together!" And speaking of another oppression, the Coygue' and livery, now exercised under the name of free quarters ; " it produced, he said, two notorious effects ; first, it made the land waste ; for, when the husbandman had labored all the year, the soldier in one night did consume the fruits of all his labor. And hereupon, of necessity, came depopulation, banishment, and extirpation of the better sort of subjects. Lastly, this oppression did, of necessitie, make the Irish a crafty people: for such as are oppressed, and
live in slavery, are ever put to their shifts. And though this oppression was first invented in hell, yet if it had been used and practised there, as it has been in Ireland, it would long ago have destroyed the kingdome of Belzebub." And Doctor Leland describes the free quarters of that day, just what we have seen them in ours. “Every inconsiderable party, who, under the pretence of loyalty, received the King's commission to repel the adversary in some particular district, became 'pestilent enemies to the inhabitants. Their properties, their lives, the chastity of their families, were all exposed to barbarians, who sought only to glut their brutal passions; and by their horrible excesses, purchased the curse of God and man!"
Such was the persecution of the Irish during four hundred years prior to the reformation of the religion of the English. And yet there are bigots who will impute the indignant feelings of the Irish to their hatred to Protestants, although they were brayed four hundred years in the mortar, before there was a Protestant. Whether the two hundred years that are to come, gave them more reason to rejoice, we shal! now consider
Of the Reformation.
IN order to understand the new hardships which the Irish were now to endure, it is good to take a short view of the state of religion in England. We shall hear no more now of mere Irish and degenerate English. For, from this time, their persecutions assume a new form, and are carried on in the name of God ! Inexplicable paradox! How the mildest religion on the earth should be, as it has always been called in aid to sanction the most atrocious crimes; and how men have dared, in profanely invoking it, to make laws so repugnant to it that they never could be obeyed until the laws of God were broken. I cannot better describe the state of religion amongst the English, than by a short history of the Apostle of the reformation.
The Life and Death of Henry VIII.