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of Morven, supposed to be Scotland, in which the latter were defeated, but according to the custom of those times, the victory was no sooner gained, than the victors and the vanquished quaffed the waissail bowl in peace and amity together, and the charms of the white-bosomed Agandecca made so powerful an impression upon the heart of the noble O'Connell, that her hand was demanded by him in marriage. The offer was, however, refused on account of a prior attachment on the part of the Highland beauty, which so mortified the pride of O'Connell that he determined to carry her off by force. The plan was, however, frustrated by Agandecca, to whom, the danger in which she stood, was made known, taking herself off suddenly to her native land, whither O'Connell did not think it prudent to follow her.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Richard O'Connell was the chief of the family. He made a submission of the patrimonial lands to the crown, and received a regular tenure of them according to the English laws, rendering thereby the estates, virtually a fief of the crown. The English law, had not, indeed, up to this period been even nominally extended over the whole country. The Irish, in several parts adhered to their old customs, and maintained their old feuds. It was for Elizabeth to commence, and for her successor, who showed vigour only in cruelty, to continue, in a more extended form a system of depopulation, on which the advocates of English ascendancy at the present day cannot certainly look without horror. The general plan appears to have been the total extermination of the native Irish, and the occupation of their country by settlers from England and Scotland. When districts could be goaded to rebellion, a ready excuse was obtained, and in a commotion which took place in the county of Kerry, we find one of the ancestors of Mr. O'Connell taking a most prominent part in defending the rights of his countrymen against the encroach. ments, which a lawless and unprincipled government was making on the rights and property of the oppressed people. When no rebellion was actually commenced, powerful chiefs
could be accused of intending to rebel (a supposition in which the government knew it could not be far wrong, if it believed that these unhappy men had the ordinary feelings of human nature) and the same effects followed. Such an accusation was brought against the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, they knew too well its meaning to stand a trial, and on their flight, five hundred thousand acres were forfeited to the crown.
Nor was this the only method adopted. The Irish chiefs, in feu instances, held their possessions by proper formal tenures, according to the law of England. They dreamed of no better title than the possession of a long train of ancestry, and the submission of their vassals. The scrupulous monarch, having a sacred regard for the proper forms of law, brought forward a claim on the part of the crown to those lands, and a portion only was restored to the original owners, under abject conditions. Great credit was assumed by the English government for bringing into culture the vast tracts thus appropriated, and for peopling them with a civilized race. But how were these things accomplished? The proprietors were driven from their possessions, and the labouring poor were exterminated, or remained as the slaves of the English settlers. One part of the country was thus civilized at the expence of infusing new grounds of hatred and animosity into the remainder, and of loading it with an additional burden of revenge.
Thus was it situated with the estates of the O'Connell family during the reign of Elizabeth; the proprietor had to choose between a direct seizure of the lands by the crown under some fictitious pretext of an infraction of the laws, and making a submission to the crown, by which the lands were suffered to remain in the hands of the proprietor, subject to such conditions, which virtually vested the property in the crown, but allowed the tenure according to the law established in England.
The eldest son of Richard O'Connell was in 1586, appointed
high sheriff of Kerry, a post which he filled with great credit to himself, and to the satisfaction of the government, which, at that period of our history was a task of no easy a complishment, as the rights of the people clashed with the encroachments and usurpations of government, and thus the difficulty arose of steering such a course as in some measure to protect the former, at the same time that no visible offence was given to the latter, which hesitated not on the means that were to be adopted to punish its refractory functionaries, or those, who by any act of contumacy, threw any obstacles in the way of the accomplishment of its designs.
It would appear however that at this period, the members of the O'Connell family were strictly loyalists, for we find one of the descendants of Richard O'Connell raising a regiment of foot, for the service of James II, and signalizing himself at the siege of Derryland, and at the battles of the Boyne aud Aughrim. It must however be admitted that this step on the part of John O'Connell, was not solely the result of his loyalty, for notwithstanding the aspect of liberality which James II assumed, and his professions of a wish to indulge all religions, there can be no doubt whatever that he intended to re-establish the Catholic Hierarchy in Britain, and with it, its arbitrary power. In this unholy attempt, Britain was right in resisting him, and right in driving him from the throne, when he proved incorrigible. The O'Connell family were always distinguished for their attachment to the catholic religion, and thus it is not improbable that the ancestors of the subject of this memoir showed themselves active and zealous in the cause of that sovereign, who secretly befriended their religion and under whose reign they had enjoyed a relaxation of the penal laws, which had before been kept in continued operation against them. They beheld in the throne long tenanted by their enemies, a friend and reverencer of their religion. It was impossible for them to look with alarm on his efforts against the freedom of England, or if they perceived them at all, to view them as inore than a just humiliation of their enemies. So feeling, they rose in arms to resist the revolution and to support the right of the reigning family. Whatever may be said of the other supporters of the detested race of the Stuarts, who will say that the O'Connell family, and with them the Irish people were not justified ?
From the Revolution to the present century, the O'Connells being Roman Catholics, all the distinctions of the family were gained abroad. When the French Revolution broke out, their sphere of action being confined at home, on account of the restrictions to which they were subject on the score of their religion, the leading members of the O'Connell family joined the French royalist party against the revolutionists, who had trampled under their feet the sacred appendages of the altar, who had repudiated the authority of the pope, and who had adopted the goddess of reason as the object of their adoration, instead of the Saviour of mankind. One member of the family, Daniel O'Connell, after whom the subject of this Memoir was christened, particularly distinguished himself in the royalist army, fighting in the ranks of the very man, who a short time afterwards conspired to wrest his country from the dominion of England, who raised the standard of rebellion which brought many a noble spirit to the scaffold, who spread the horrors of a civil war over the most beautiful portion of the island, and who with bigotry and fanaticism, as bis auxiliaries carried havoc and bloodshed into the hitherto peaceable habitations of the misguided people.
If Mr. O'Connell be disposed to add to his laurels as a popular idol, the less substantial attractions of high-named ancestry; if he indulges in the associations connected with a numerous body of ancestors, carrying with them honours, respectability and fame, no one can abrogate from him the claim, for if he boast of royal blood flowing in his veins on the paternal side, not less pure was that which he derived from the maternal, his mother's family being Milesian and his father's mother was of the family of O'Donoghue Dhaw, or black chiefs of their tribe.
Of the boyhood of Mr. O'Connell, few particulars are extant. For the early rudiments of his education, he is indebted to a worthy priest, whose mind, fortunately for his pupil, was not so encrusted with superstition and bigotry as to be impervious to the light of truth from whatever quarter it might come. It must also be allowed that the worthy priest had no ordinary materials to work upon. With an extraordinary aptitude to receive instructions, his youthful pupil far outstripped any of his juvenile cotemporaries in the acquisition of those principles of elementary knowledge, which afterwards shot forth with such wonderful exuberance, and by degrees stamped him as one of the greatest men of the age.
Destined to live a member of an enlightened community and to enjoy the inheritance of laws, dictated in the spirit of wisdom and liberty, Daniel O'Connell was early taught to unite to the duties of a citizen, the proud independence and dignified character of the man. He imbibed during his infancy neither prejudices nor falsehoods, and his heart was uncontaminated by vicious examples. It has been considered almost in the light of a truism, that a catholic education cannot be a liberal one, as it is accompanied with such a dogmatical spirit of sectarianism, as to preclude the admission of certain subjects, without the knowledge of which, no education can be perfect. A very limited intercourse with the world will be sufficient, utterly to disprove that proposition, although at the same time it must be admitted that the ascetic discipline of the cloister is not adapted to fit an individual for the more important avocations of human life. It must also be allowed that the mode of education adopted with young O'Connell held out to him none of those exciting examples, which emulate the youthful mind, and which contribute in a great degree to form the character of the man. The general rules of morality are formed by a constant observation of the fitness and propriety of actions in other men, but if the pupil be not brought into collision with other men, in what manner is he to form his judgement of the rectitude of their actions ? What is fit to be done, and what excites universal applause, not only calls forth our approbation, but warms us into a spirit of imitation, grounded on the principle of a meritorious emulation. What ought to