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REIGN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH TO THE SETTLEMEND
UNDER KING WILLIAM.
STATE OF THE IRISH CATHOLICS,
FROM THAT SETTLEMENT TO THE
RELAXATION OF THE POPERY LAWS,
IN THE YEAR 1778.
EXTRACTED FROM PARLIAMENTARY RECORDS, STATE ACTS, AND OTHER
BY J. CURRY, M, D.
A NEW AND IMPROVED EDITION.
PRINTED BY R. CONOLLY, 70, THOMAS-STREET.
mm To the Committee of the Catholics of Ireland.
I would be easy to trace, although mortifying to detail, the dreary progress of our national misfortunes, from our first connection with England to the present moment. It is too melancholy, and too well known, that to the British Connection Ireland attributes the unnatural phenomenon which she exhibits among the nations of Europe. Numerous and hardy in her population, fruitful in her fields, and temperate in her climate, she adds to those advantages a geographical position and facilities for trade, which no other country posa sesses or can parallel. Ireland, nevertheless, has been a blank in commerce, and a blot in history. The paradox is sufficiently explained in the following sheets.
But as the tempest of persecution has abated, this island is returning to her freshness and her verdure; she is increasing in strength, while England suffers in the very seat of life. Never indeed, in the eventful and unhappy story of our country, has there been a crisis so pregnant as the present, none that has produced consequences
state of the public mind at home, aliu from the operation of a vigorous and terrific system of politics. Since the time of her first invasion, until the continent subsided into an autocratic despotism, England was the first, or in the first rank, of European nations. Is she now the second? or what is her relative situation ? A rapid outline of our wrongs will demonstrate the truth of the assertion; and the deduction, if neither sophisticated nor forced, may contribute to solve the interrogatory. Hitherto she has owed her greatness to the divisions of Europe ; at present her danger is derived from the divisions of Ireland.
Even had, not Henry II. been one of the most powerful princes of his time, the condition of Europe would have secured his grandfather's conquest in Britain, while the distractions of this country afforded safety and succour to his first colonists. Exhausted by the crusades in the following reign, England guarded her little colony with a feeble hand, and nothing but the ruinous feuds of the native chieftains could have saved her interest, under the degrading despotism of John, from total destruction. The subsequent reigns to Henry VIII. present a barren, or a barbarous, or a bloody aspect. The colonists häd encreased in power and in insolence ; the natives, though perpetually at war, had deteriorated in discipline, and were broken into
innumerable and discordant factions. The cruelty with which that tyrant' endeavoured to impose his religious tenets on the country, allayed the jealousy of the contending parties, and even softened down the mutual prejudices of the English of blood and the mere Irishman. But Henry was not easily turned from his purpose ; and indeed it was natural for him to expect the same ready obedience from the Irish people, which had been so wonderfully yielded by the majority of his English subjects.
The short reaction in the reign of Mary was succeeded by the persecution of her equally bigoted, but more crafty, sister. It would be exagerating the persecutions of Diocletian, and complimenting too highly the refined and subtle tactics of the apostate Julian, to compare their conduct to that of Elizabeth. The one was a Pagan from his birth, the other an able but deluded enthusiast; one confined his proscriptions to presbyters, and his burvings to christian churches only; the other vainly confided the extirpation of christianity to the silent and insidious workings of the law. Elizabeth patronized both engines with a fervour scarcely credible. Her sanguinary agent, the first earl of Totness, a deputy, worthy such a sovereign, compiled the memoirs of his government, or rather the register of his persecutions.
The book, if there were no other testimonies, • would exhibit a disgraceful monument of Eng
land's policy, and of Ireland's ruin.