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very essence of his mind, are such as no one can ever wish to see destroyed !
Though it is not in the power of the legislator to deliver the multitude completely from the dominion of prejudices, he may by his efforts greatly diminish the force of such as are injurious; as he may, on the other hand, from considerations of policy, give them additional strength by associating them with the best feelings of the heart. The guilt, however, which he incurs, who by his talents or his address fosters the prejudices of the people in opposition to the moral or political good of society, is infinitely greater than that of Cæsar or Alexander, who, for the sake of being accounted the conquerors of the world, sacrificed its interests to their ambition: the guilt of the latter was chiefly restricted to the period which terminated their own dark and destructive career, and without any farther accumulation accompanied them to the tribunal of eternal justice ; but so long as his opinions continue to exert their influence, that of the former is transmitted with increased aggravation to distant ages.
Political institutions which are confessedly bad, combined with ignorance and superstition in the multitude, retard the improvement of nations, chiefly by the prejudices to which they give rise. The institutions themselves may be destroyed by successive revolutions of empires, but unless a similar revolution takes place in the public mind, the same prejudices remain to obstruct the progress of knowledge and civilization, and to render fruitless the best attempts of the patriotand the philosopher. How then is the influence of such prejudices to be diminished? There seems no way in which this can be done effectually but by the general instruction of the people. To deliver them, indeed, from the power of opinion, it is vain ever to expect; nor, though it were possible, is it desirable, that such a change in the constitution of society should take place. But it is surely possible by a national system of education, and by other means of communicating information, to make the very prejudices of the people subservient to their political and moral improvement, and to make even the weaknesses of man “ lean to virtue's side.”
The object of these remarks on political institutions, popular prejudices, and national religion,can scarcely be misunderstood by anyone. Its connection with the design of these pages, which is to offer a few observations on some of the causes which have retarded the moral, political, and religious improvement of Ireland, is very apparent. Let it not be supposed, however, that I mean to enter very profoundly into this intricate subject; my only aim is to advance some detached hints respecting the difficulties in question, and to point out the means by which they may be removed, or their influence counteracted and overcome.-A tour through that country has enabled me to prosecute inquiries which otherwise could not be conducted with the same facility and advantage. An acquaintance with the Irish language has put it in my power to enter more fully into the views and prejudices of the Irish nation, than the mere English traveller could possibly have done.--My book, such as it is, I present to the public, with the sincerest desire to promote the interests of a nation, which may, at some future period, be the glory of the British empire.
THE CHARACTER OF THE IRISH.
IN Ireland there are two classes of people perfectly distinct in genius, manners, customs, and dispositions, as unlike each other as the lowland peasantry of Scotland are to that of the Highlands, or as those of England are to that of either. A stranger in that country, therefore, is in danger of falling into one of these two errors; either of forming his opinion of the national character from one of these classes ; or, if he should see part of both, of imbibing prejudices from the one unfavourable to the other, and of being hurried into an erroneous conclusion from partial and imperfect observation. . The Anglo-Hibernian differs more from the native Irish, than he does from the English. His character is rather complex : it is composed of qualities which are common to this, country and his own, with some marked peculiarities which are distinct from either. Though he is proud of being an Irishman, he is full of
prejudice against the aborigines of his country ; he heartily hates their language, their customs, and their superstitions; and is not unwilling that they should be considered less friendly to the government and constitution than himself, Possessed of this violent antipathy he is little qualified to receive accurate information, or to entertain'a just opinion respecting them; and, accordingly, while he thinks he perfectly understands their character, he is really much more ignorant for the most part on this head, than the intelligent, the candid, and the un. biassed traveller. He looks with contempt on the poor unlettered native, a feeling that has been transmitted from his ancestors, and is interwoven with his earliest associations.
To this character of the Anglo-Hibernian there are obviously many exceptions. In every country there are many individuals who rise above the opinions and prejudices which characterise the multitude of their nation. The remarks which I have made on this subject are in general to be restricted in their application to the character of the people,
As to the original Hibernian, his character has not been well nor generally understood. Few have examined it with friendly disposition, and still fewer have been placed in circumstances favourable to investigation, or have