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ago to have been employed, and which I have had occasion repeatedly to recommend in these pages : I mean moral and religious instruction. This instruction must be conveyed through the medium of that language which is understood, and by the ordinary mode of early education, as well as from the pulpit. These are the means of moral improvement, which, if prudently and extensively employed, will, in the course of a very few years, accomplish in the neighbouring isle the most important reformation.
ON THE PROGRESS OF ENGLISH LAW AND GO
VERNMENT IN IRELAND. THE administration of justice in any country has too much influence on the morals, the comfort, and safety of its inhabitants not to merit the most particular investigation. Nor is it enough to examine what institutions have been established, what forms of jurisprudence have been sanctioned, what code of laws has been enacted; we should inquire how these institutions are respected, and how these laws are enforced.
The few observations which it is in my power to offer on the subject of this chapter I shall arrange under the following particulars. First, I shall inquire how far the law and political insti. tutions of England were established in the pales secondly, make some remarks on the nature and tendency of the Brehon, or Irish laws; and thirdly, on the abolition of these laws, and the universal progress and establishment of those of England.
I. Itis not very probable that those adventurers who first settled in Ireland, had any correct ideas of civil polity of any kind. Full of the pride of their country, and possessed of those inveterate prejudices which nationality founded on a mixture of patriotism and ignorance inspire, they were determined to adhere to its general manners and customs, without perhaps any definite notion of its government. But this state of things could not long continue; irregularities would naturally occur, which must be corrected; grievances which must be redressed; and the safety of the colony required that a few simple and obvious laws should be enforced. Whilst, indeed, the English continued merely
soldiers, which was for a considerable time after · their original settlement, any other laws than
those of the military life would be little regarded. The parent country, however, ultimately interfered, assumed the sovereignty of the conquest that had been made, and exercised its authority by appointing a governor, who should rule and protect the infant society.
The English colony experienced various fortunes, placed as it was in the bosom of a hostile, turbulent, and divided nation. Under an able and faithful lord deputy, its interests rapidly flourished ; its territories were increased; its power and opulence were enlarged; and its enemies, though never wholly subjugated, were resisted and appalled. But there were various
circumstances connected with its situation, which powerfully counteracted the progress of order: and civilization, and which, more than once, threatened its entire destruction. The barons, like those of every other country in Europe, were high-spirited, restless, and aspiring; their notions of civility and subordination were but little calculated for the advancement of either: and their manners, formed amid scenes of turbulence and faction, were, like the times in which they lived, rude and barbarous. At a distance from the power of the prince, their licentious ambition had scarcely any restraint; and not being awed by the presence of the monarch, they were the less anxious to yield obedience to his representative. Besides, the hostilities in which they were constantly engaged, and the opportunities of plundering with impunity which these hostilities afforded them, together with their own mutual jealousies, and feuds, and encounters, had no tendency to improve their dispositions, or to polish the asperities of their ferocious character.
It also unfortunately happened that in those times the deputies entered on their office rather to enrich themselves than to advance the public good. 5 At a distance from the supreme seat of “ power, and with the advantage of being able to s make such representations of the state of Ire
land as they pleased, they acted with the less re"serve. They were generally tempted to under“ take the conduct of a disordered state, for the " sake of private emolument; and their object " was pursued without delicacy or integrity, “ sometimes with inhuman violence.”* In the annals of Irish history previous to the reign oi Elizabeth, few English vicegerents are mentioned, whose measures were conciliating, whose conduct was upright, and whose administration successful. " The representations of the con“ duct of the Irish people sent to England were “ generally false and interested, to magnify the “ zeal of the great lords, to procure remittances “ for a chief governor, or to conceal the offen" ces and irregularities of either. The English “ vicegerents, even of the very best dispositions, “ were kept in ignorance during their residence, " and shut up in the seat of government from “ any knowledge of the native Irish, or any ge- neral intercourse even with the most peaceable “ among them.”+
These circumstances combined, produced thať shocking depravation of manners, that unbridled licentiqusness, which continued and increased till the reign of Henry the seventh, which enabled the natives to overrun with impunity the
* Leland's History of Ireland. * Ibid,