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the offender could not be found, his clan or family were held responsible; and the ransom was divided between the aggrieved party and his chieftain.
The Brehon law, rude as it was, long continued to prevail in opposition to the law of England. The Irish were too ignorant to comprehend the latter; and, after the fruitless attempt to introduce the reformed religion among them, the exertions of foreign priests were added to their own turbulence in resisting the innovation. A farther obstacle existed in the notorious corruption of the English judges; who were in the habit of purchasing their places, and took care to make as much as possible by them. A temporary approximation to good government was effected by the vigour of Strafford: but, after his recall and death, a series of civil troubles began, which lasted, with unfortunately too little interruption, to the reign of King William.—The following circumstance is curious, as it affords an example of the backward state of different parts of Ireland :
“In the island of Tory, in the county of Donegal, the inhabitants are still unacquainted with any other law than that of the Brehon code. They choose their chief magistrate from among themselves; and to his mandate, issued from his throne of turf, the people yield a cheerful and ready obedience. They are perfectly simple in their manners, and live as their fathers had done three centuries ago."
In the i7th century Ireland was disturbed by three great rebellions and confiscations. The first, bursting out in the latter years of Elizabeth, ended with the forfeiture of vast districts in Ulster and Munster; the former of which were given by King James to Scottish colonists, and the latter chiefly to Englishmen. The second rebellion began in the reign of Charles I. and led to farther forfeitures, of immense extent, to the military adherents of Cromwell. The third insurrection was in favour of James II. and was stimulated by the hope that his reinstatement would produce the restoration of the old Irish families to their lands and honours: but the battles of the Boyne and of Aghrim gave the death blow to these expectations, and led to additional forfeitures of nearly two millions of acres. It was now that the protestants procured the enactment of a code of penal laws, calculated, in vulgar apprehension, to secure tranquillity by taking from the catholics the power to injure. These laws, however, were pregnant with the seeds of national mischief; their severe discouragement of the catholics operating as a general check to industry, and as a perpetuating cause of poverty. Hence, in a great measure, the ignorance, the insubordination, and the propensity to vice, which form so disadvantageous a contrast between the native Irish and their better governed fellow subjects in Great Britain. The penal code,
in concurrence with the want of education, has had the effect of making the former—who were naturally an open and unsuspecting people-jealous, and to a certain degree deceitful. Such are the causes by which the habit of prevarication has been fostered, and the vices of savage life have been continued.
It is since the abolition of the most grievous part of the penal code, and of the restrictions on trade, that the increase of Ireland in wealth and political importance has become rapid. Within the last twenty years, her landed rental is computed to have risen from six to fifteen millions.-It is a mistake, says Mr. Dewar, to consider the lower orders of Irish as indifferent to the question of emancipation; since, though they are unacquainted with the particular objects contemplated, they conceive it, on the whole, to be an important blessing which ought not be denied them. Mr. Dewar would put catholics and dissenters exactly on the footing of the established church, with the sole difference of an income continuing to be provided for the latter by government. As long, he adds, as any prospect remained of the Stuart family renewing their claim to the crown, a reason might be urged for exercising rigour towards the catholics: but, at present, this is just as futile as the dread of catholic proselytism. Such a dread takes for granted that the zeal of catholics will accomplish every thing, while that of protestants will effect nothing. The true way of lessening the zeal of catholics, contradictory as it may seem, is by the repeal of the penal laws;-a repeal, which will lessen the union of those who have been long held together by the bond of fellow suffering. Had the catholics been disposed to intrigue against the state, they would before now have taken the oaths which preclude their entrance on the higher offices. Those who talk of political danger should never forget that the Irish catholics have renounced the deposing power of the pope, and the doctrine of keeping no faith with heretics.
The advantages of national education form the subject of the last part of Mr. Dewar's book. A desire of investigating the subject to the bottom has led him to analyze the general arguments in favour of education, with more minuteness than perhaps was necessary: yet, familiar as his reasoning is, we consider it as not devoid of utility. "Ignorance, indolence, and vice," he says, " are not more closely allied on the one side, than intelligence, industry, and purity of manners on the other. It has been said by the blind opponents of education, that the power of reading may lead to the reading of bad books. But is it true that the poor, when capable of reading, prefer bad books to good ones? In Scotland, where all the people can read, are their morals injured by their capability of perusing improper books? In what other country are the poor wore sober or industrious ?” Compare this picture with the poverty and vice of the unlettered peasantry of Ireland, and the result will be, that reading is one of the chief securities against moral, political, and religious error. An instructed and an intelligent people are always more decent and orderly than those who are ignorant. Feeling themselves individually more likely to obtain the approbation of their superiors, they are, on the other hand, more disposed to pay to these superiors a due tribute of respect; and being more capable of seeing through the selfish views of demagogues, they are less blindly led into disobedience.-Another objection to education, with timid men, is an apprehension that the lower orders would become unwilling to perform that drudgery which belongs to their situation in life: but this is little else ihan saying that education would make them forget to eat and drink. The fact is, that while the wants of nature obliged them to continue to labour, education would only enable them to perform that labour much better. Discontent is generally the effect of ignorance; knowledge enabling us both to ascertain our duties and appreciate our blessings in this life, and referring the mind to that future state in which the inequalities of this transient scene will be adjusted.
Though we generally participate in Mr. Dewar's opinions, on one point his views and ours do not exactly accord; we mean, the rapidity of increase in Irish population. He thinks that the early marriage which is common among the catholics, by creating young families without adequate provision, is a public misfortune : but early marriage has such powerful recommendations in our eyes, that we are with difficulty brought to admit arguments on the opposite side. Without entering into a discussion of the question, we shall merely observe that Mr. Dewar's notions are founded on a well known work on population, which perhaps does not adequately estimate the additional means of provision afforded by increased population. We are more likely to agree with the author when he contrasts the state of the poor in Ireland and in Scotland. In the latter, they are industrious and comfortable without much assistance from their richer neighbours; while in Ireland they are superstitious and comfortless, wandering about in crowds on the public roads, and stunning the passenger with their petitioning vociferation. We coincide with Mr. Dewar likewise on a very different matter, viz. the increased necessity of correcting, by previous education, those confined views of which the subdivision of labour is productive. It has been said by many that this favourite doctrine of Dr. Smith tends to debase that so. ciety which it professes to improve: but those persons carry the point too far, and do not take a comprehensive view of the extent of Dr. Smith's reasoning. By his plan, the acquisition of education would be as much facilitated and abridged as that of other
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things. A knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic may be attained in the juvenile years of the mechanic, and should by all means be his object before he takes the step of devoting himself to an uninstructive occupation.
As early as the reign of James I. free schools were erected in several of the large towns in Ireland, and have since been extended to different parts of the country.
“ It appears, from a late report of the commissioners of the board of education in Ireland, that their number is greater than might have been supposed. of 1,122 benefices, returns have been made to the commissioners from 736 of these: by which it is shown, that in this number of benefices there are 549 schools, at which 23,000 children receive instruction. The course of instruction comprises reading, writing, and arithmetic. The schools are open to children of all religious persuasions; who, for the most part, pay for their education at rates which vary from two shillings and sixpence to five shillings and fourpence, and even as high as eleven shillings a quarter. It appears from the report, that there is a great want of proper schoolmasters and school-houses; and that religious prejudices, more particularly in the south and west, have operated against the attendance on the schools. In the parish of Ballesidare, diocess of Killala, there seems to be a general determination on the part of the Roman catholics not to send their children to protestant schools, and vice versa. But ‘from the general returns from all the diocesses, it is evident that a large proportion of the children attending the parish schools, throughout Ireland, are of the Roman catbolic religion. The commissioners acknowledge that though a school similar to those which already exist were established in every parish in Ireland, it would be perfectly inadequate to the instruction of the Irish poor. • No funds, however great, or the best considered establishment, can substantially carry into effect either any improvement in the parish schools, or any general system of instruction of the lower orders of the community, until the want of persons duly qualified to undertake the education of the lower classes be remedied, and till some instituţion be formed to prepare persons for that important office.'
“ It should be recollected, then, that in Ireland there are no legal establishments similar to the parochial schools of Scotland: what the commissioners call parish schools, are those in which the teacher receives the principal part of his salary either from the recent or remote endowments of government.
“ Those schools that are called protestant charter-schools in Ireland, are far from being adapted for popular instruction. Great sums are annually expended for their support, whilst their utility is extremely limited. This arises, partly from the narrow principle of confining them to protestants, or to the children of such Roman catho lics as allow their offspring to be educated in the reformed religion; and partly from the circumstance of their being boarding schools. A general system of education, to make it useful, must be conducted on the most popular plan.
« In these protestant charter-schools the children are too much at the mercy of the masters and mistresses; and too little judgment is shown in the selection of the persons who are invested with the important trust of educating these children. The consequences are such as might naturally be expected; frequently gross inattention, or worse, with respect to the cleanliness, the diet, and apparel of the children, as well as to their morals, and progress in industry. Hence, it too frequently comes to pass, that when the charter-school children are taken as apprentices, to be trained up as domestic servants, or instructed in manufactures, they commonly prove slothful, dirty, and vitious.'”
The great defect in the plan hitherto followed is the total want of teachers who are acquainted with the native language of the Irish. It is quite natural that the dissatisfaction engendered by oppression among the people should be transferred, in some degree, to the English language, and to English schools. Instruction in this strange tongue flatters no prejudice, and awakens no feeling of patriotism: while their priests, on the other hand, address them in the language of their fathers, which is endeared to them by many circumstances. Moreover, the children, understanding in general only a few words of English, find it very far from easy to comprehend the instruction of their masters. With regard to the difficulty of procuring proper teachers, about which so much has been said, nothing of that kind has been experienced in Scotland, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge having as many as they require, at the moderate allowance of 15l. a year. To such persons, a salary of 25l. a year, with a house and trifling school fees, would prove an adequate inducement to undertake the task of teaching in Ireland; and from the similarity of Gaelic to Irish, these teachers would, in the course of a few months after their arrival, acquire a complete facility in instructing the children of the catholic peasantry. This plan has been partly adopted by the Hibernian society, who support between thirty and forty schools; and the Highland teachers prove, it is said, very acceptable to the inhabitants : but no private charity, however respectable, can be equal to the task of a general diffusion of education, and the only proper plan is a provision by law for parish schools. These, if conducted on the plan of Bell, or of Lancaster, will perhaps be sufficient in the number of one in each country parish; while, on the method formerly pursued, two schools in a parish would frequently be necessary. Whatever be the course adopted, Mr. Dewar is confident that no general success will be attained without procuring teachers who understand the native language; and he has no doubt that such persons may be found in adequate number in the north and west of Scotland. No pains, he says, should be spared to amend the degraded state of the catholic peasantry, who are now so sunken in humiliation as not to account it dishonourable to beg; and it is no unusual thing