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as could not be dispensed with. The only occupation CHAP. considered honourable was fighting and plunder; and each tribe roamed within its own limits, supported either by the pillage of its neighbours or the wild cattle which wandered through the forests. They had some human traits. They were fond of music and ballad-singing. They were devout after a fashion of their own; and among the monks and frairs there were persons who had pretensions to learning. But the religion of the Irish Celts, which three centuries earlier had burnt like a star in Western Europe, had degenerated into a superstition, and no longer served as a check upon the most ferocious passions. When Giraldus Cambrensis was sent by Henry the Second to report on Ireland, their chief characteristics were treachery, thirst for blood, unbridled licentiousness, and inveterate detestation of order and rule. To
i Giraldus attributes the moral plationi solum fere semper indulcondition of the people to the neg- gent. ... Unde accidit ut nec lect of the bishops and clergy. 'In verbum Dei populo prædicent nec episcopis et prælatis,' he says, ' hoc scelera eorum eis annuntient nec in fere solum reprehensionis dignum grege commisso vel extirpent vitia invenio quod in populi tam enor- velinserant virtutes.'— Topographia miter delinquentis correctione de- Hibernica, Distinctio iii. cap. 28. sides nimis sunt et negligentes. ... There has always been a difficulty Si prælati a tempore Patricii per in understanding how, among so tot annorum curricula prædicationi lawless a people, the churches and et instructioni item increpationi et monasteries escaped destruction. correptioni pro officii debito viril- The supernatural character attachiter institissent et prænotatas gentis ing to the clergy was perhaps in enormitates aliquatenus extirpas- part the cause. Giraldus, however, sent, aliquam in eis procul dubio for- says, that some stronger protection mam honestatis et religionis impres- was required, and attributes it to sissent. Sed non fuit in ipsis qui the power of an Irish saint's curse, tanquam tuba vocem exaltaret.' and his quick, sharp, promptitude
They lived, be said, retired in in pronouncing it. Hoc autem their cloisters, given up to con- mihi notabile videtur quod sicut templation.
nationis istius homines hâc in vitâ Hujus terræ prælati intra ec- mortali præ aliis gentibus impaticlesiarum septa de antiquâ con- entes et præcipites sunt ad vinsuetudine se continentes, contem- dictam, sic et in morte vitali meritis
such a people, needing bit and bridle, liberty was only mischievous, and the Normans came to take direction of them. How their coming was brought about in detail-how Dermot MacMurrough, prince of Leinster, was driven out and fled for help to England -how he made himself a vassal of Henry the Second —under a compact already sanctioned in the famous grant of Ireland by Pope Adrian—this and the history of the conquest which followed does not need repeating. The Normans in occupying both England and Ireland were but fulfilling the work for which they were specially qualified and gifted, and the grant of Adrian was but the seal of approbation by the spiritual ruler of Christendom. They did not destroy the Irish people; they took the government of them merely, as the English have done in India, dispossessing the chiefs, changing the loose order of inheritance into an orderly succession, giving security to life and property, and enabling those who cared to be industrious to reap the fruits of their labours without fear of outrage and plunder. Their right to govern lay in their capability of governing and in the need of the Irish to be governed. The Pope may have had in view other objects of his own. The Irish Church claimed immunities from the Roman jurisdiction which the irony of fate selected the AngloNormans to abrogate. Celtic Ireland was neither
jam excelsi præ aliarum regionum dentiâ simul et indulgentiâ, gravi sanctis, animi vindicis esse videntur. frequentique animadversione in ecNec alia mihi ratio eventus hujus clesiarum hostes opus fuerat; ut occurrit nisi quoniam gens
Hiber- et sic abecclesiasticâ pace impiorum nica castellis carens, prædonibus pravitas procul arceatur et ipsis abundans, ecclesiarum potius re- ecclesiis ab irreverenti populo debita fugiis quam castrorum municipiis, veneratio vel serviliter exhibeatur.' et præcipue ecclesiastici viri seque - Topographia Hibernica, Distincsuaque tueri solent, divinâ provi- tio ii. cap. 55.
Papal, nor inclined to submit itself to the Papacy, till Henry the Second riveted the Roman yoke upon them. But the true justification of the conquest lay in the character of the conquerors. They were born rulers of men, and were forced, by the same necessity which has brought the decrepit kingdoms of Asia under the authority of England and Russia, to take the management, eight centuries ago, of the anarchic nations of Western Europe.
Nor did Ireland fail on the outset to profit by their presence. For two centuries after the landing of Strongbow and Fitzstephen large sections of the country were subdued into some kind of order and arrangement.
The Celtic chiefs were driven into the mountains. Fitzgeralds, Lacies, De Burghs, De Courcies, Blakes, Butlers, Fitzurzes took the places of M'Carthies, O'Neils, O'Briens, O'Sullivans, and O'Connors. Those of the old race who remained in the homes of their fathers were compelled to conform to some kind of rule. The new comers rooted themselves into the soil, built castles, gathered about them retainers of their own blood, who overmastered, held down, and, in some degree, transformed the wild and wayward vagabonds, whom they forced to become their subjects. The work begun by the Danes was carried on and developed. Seaport towns-Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick -of which the sea-rovers from the Baltic had laid the foundations, were enlarged, strengthened, surrounded with walls, and governed like English cities. Trading ships went and came. Outside the fortifications, and within the shelter of their garrisons, round Dublin especially, the country became settled and cultivated. Tenants took leases of lands
and raised houses on them; while in the interior, with incessant fighting and arduous police work which knew neither end nor respite, the heads of the Norman families hammered the unwilling metal of the Celts into some consistency, and forced them into habits less extravagantly wild and confused. The four
provinces were mapped out into districts. Inland towns were raised, fortified, and provided with sovereigns (mayors) and aldermen, and the forms, at least, of free municipal institutions. Sheriffs and magistrates were chosen; and the Brehon traditions—a code of customs in which crime was a word without meaning, and the most savage murders could be paid for with a cow or a sheep—began to yield before the English common law, as quiet and industry recognized the need and value of protection. The progress was slow. The prospect seemed often desperate. Unstable as water, the Irish temperament wanted cohesiveness to bear the shapes which were imprinted on it. And the work was the harder because—and it is the same difficulty which has been at once the honour and perplexity of English relations with Ireland from first to lastbecause the effort of the conquerors was to govern the Irish not as a vassal province but as a free nation ; to extend the forms of English liberty—her trials by
her local courts, her parliaments—to a people essentially unfit for them; and, while governing Ireland, to teach her at the same time the harder lesson to govern herself.
In contrast with the age which succeeded it, the century of Irish life which followed the Conquest was comparatively humane and rational. Authority was a real thing; and it might have seemed that, by the side of the Anglo-Norman civilization which was
shaping itself into consistency in England, a NormanCeltic society, parallel to it though with subsidiary differences, was tending to form itself with equal firmness in the sister island. But the same causes which, at a later period, undermined the Protestant ascendancy were at work with equal potency four hundred years before.