Froude is really a man to be congratulated, or almost envied. He has stirred up hosts of vindictive enemies on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the Hero of Two Worlds, in another sense than the Lafayette sense. Like bloodhounds, they are upon his track in either hemisphere; his new book, The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, will have a sale unexampled: and this – as they say in New England, – this is the calculation.
I said that the discussion raised by the Crusader is only beginning. Now it grows hotter and fiercer every day. Not only that fell critic, the bulldog “Citizen of Brooklyn,” holds our Historian fast, with a grip like death, but I find that Mr. Prendergast, author of the “Cromwellian Settlement,” has fallen upon Historian Fronde with a fury even more ferocious than Mr. Meline’s own; not counting the long array of his other enemies in England and Scotland. I have the honor to make him my compliment. Nothing could fall out more happily for him than this view-hallo and full cry of eager hunters. Mr. Prendergast, after having read the first volume of the new book, has addressed several letters to the Dublin press; one of which opens thus –
“Mr. Froude, I believe, is lighting a fire that he has little conception of. Deep as our hatred has hitherto been at our unparalleled historic wrongs, it is as nothing to the intense detestation we shall hereafter hold the English in. Though the vile English press are unwilling to commit themselves to the support of Mr. Froude’s crusade against the exiled Irish, until they see the success of it, it is easy to perceive how they sympathize with it, and how gladly they would see the Americans hate us as deeply as they do themselves. For, in truth, the self-imposed mission of this friend and lover of Ireland (God save us from our English lovers!) is to turn the Americans against us.”
Here Mr. Prendergast is quite wrong, on one point. Our Historian knew very well that he was lighting a fire; and intended it. Moreover, he will get out of it himself without singing a whisker, by means of a patent fire-escape which he has invented. But now, some one may ask who is Mr. Prendergast? He is an author of whom Mr. Froude has himself made honorable mention in this very book, the English in Ireland. He says: –
“I cannot pass over this part of my narrative without making my acknowledgments to Mr. Prendergast, to whose personal courtesy I am deeply indebted, and to whose impartiality and candor in his volume on the Cromwellian Settlement I can offer no higher praise than by saying that the perusal of it has left on my mind an impression precisely opposite to that of Mr. Prendergast himself. He writes as an Irish patriot – I as an Englishman: but the difference between us is not on the facts, but on the opinion to be formed about them.”
Meaning that, in Prendergast’s opinion, it was hard measure to compel all Irish land-owners, in three of the four provinces, on a certain day in Winter, by sound of trumpet and beate of drumme, to arise and transplant themselves, into the wilds of Connaught; – but that in Fronde’s opinion it was a wholesome measure, intended for the good of the Irish themselves. But what I specially desire to call attention to, in this place, is the excessive discourtesy with which Mr. Prendergast repays that honorable mention by the First of Living Historians. After having, by his “personal courtesy” (and something more than that) earned so grateful and graceful an acknowledgment from so grand a prince of literature, this Irishman no sooner reads the book in which a flattering notice of himself is contained, than he suddenly turns rough and rude, and even brutally barbarous. He ignores entirely the compliment to himself; and is perhaps ashamed of it. “The twistings and wrigglings of this English viper” – such is about the best language he can find for his quondam acquaintance.
Mr. Prendergast admits that he did guide the researches of our Historian, and did furnish him with authorities and references, sometimes directly, sometimes through others. But he soon had reason to doubt the good faith of this ardent historic investigator, and thought it needful to deal with him accordingly. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century, about the years 1719 and 1723, occurred certain legislative proceedings in the Colonial Parliament of Dublin, concerning which some doubts arose; and both Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Froude were at the same moment laboring in record offices to ascertain the facts, and discover the documents. Mr. Prendergast found what was wanted; – I do not enter here into the odious and indecent details; but must do so before I have done with Froude. Having lighted upon the documents, the laborious Irish scholar, in all good faith, thought he was bound to communicate them to Mr. Froude. Here is his own account of that matter in his late letter to the Irish journals: –
“Now for Mr. Froude’s treatment of this event. He knew he could not avoid it, or mis-state it, as he has done so many other events. For, having met Mr. Froude shortly afterwards, making his searches in the State Paper Department at Dublin Castle, I thought it right to tell him of my discovery. But he was already aware, so he told me, of the fact, having seen the original letter in the Public Record Office, London. There was something, however, so extraordinary in the man’s demeanor that I had my misgivings that he intended to misdeal with the transaction in some way; so I published it in the Freeman’s Journal of the 28th April, 1871. I confess I had great curiosity to see how he would treat the matter in these circumstances.”
The writer then reprints some words and phrases from this book; and continues: –
“Let it be remembered that I had bound him with such strong cords, by publishing the entire letter beforehand, that there was no possibility of his mis-stating the terms or the scope of it; and then observe the writhings and twistings of this English viper, that, nursed in his youthful sickness by the poor peasantry of Mayo, and since that day a frequent visitor to Ireland, seeks to spit his venom against us at home by publishing this book, and then immediately rushes to America to endeavor to instill into the English race abroad the same hatred he and his colleagues are filled with at home.”
Words that burn!
I mean to tell something of the matter which was in question, before I have done: but in the meantime it is enough to arouse the sympathies of all readers in favor of Mr. Froude, by showing the shocking manner in which his kindly overtures to Prendergast have been received. It is true, no compliment from our Historian could elevate the reputation of John P. Prendergast, the author of the most perfect Monograph, of one special and cardinal point in our Irish history: but still it seems hard that the recipient of so pretty a compliment, should have no better return to make than refusing the courtesy with both his hands, saying, “Keep off, you English viper!” Is the time indeed come when these generous tributes from one literary man to another, which give such a grace and charm to the intercourse of lofty intellects, are to become of no account? Is a gentleman who has received so flattering an eulogy from a great man justified in responding with a kick and a curse? Let a discerning public judge.
In the midst of all this tumult of abuse, the First Historian walks serene: he is altogether impassive, going calmly on the even tenor of his way, answering all hostile critics with disdain. Mr. Meline has vainly tried to worry him into giving some sign, making some defence, in the matter of Queen Mary of Scotland and her “latest Historian.” Yet the critic seems to have been aware from the first that he would get nothing out of the man. Says that inevitable citizen of Brooklyn: –
“That Mr. Froude at this or at any other time would answer the charges presented in ‘Mary Queen of Scots and her latest English Historian,’ I have never expected. He cannot do it and better his position, and I am, moreover, sufficiently familiar with his ‘manner of fence’ with critics at home to know that he would not now attempt serious responses in a case of any gravity. Mr. Froude cannot reply to my allegations, because, he says, ‘I am on one side of the Atlantic, and my books and papers are on the other;’ and he then repeats the plaintive wail, made several years ago in the Pall Mall Gazette, touching his gigantic labors with documents and MSS. ‘in half a dozen languages.’ But during all the years Mr. Froude was at home among his books and papers, his most aggressive critics and those of bluntest speech succeeded no better than I have in obtaining answer, explanation, or apology from him. In reply to the most damaging imputations, to the most offensive accusations, lie had nothing to say – and wisely, said nothing.”
It is an attitude of grand disdain: but implacable Melino does not like it: lie would prefer that the Historian would be good enough to explain some of those very numerous passages in which he has brought forward misquotations or palmed off mistranslations, and to expound how it has happened that all those “clerical errors,” as Froude calls them, were on one side, always going to favor the scoundrel he intended to whitewash, and to blacken the unhappy Papist he meant to cover with obloquy.
Father Burke, I think, in his lectures, only ventured to call in question one citation of a documentary authority made by his opponent, purporting to be an Address to King George the Third, while the Americans were in revolt – an Address from the Irish Catholics represented by Lord Fingal and others, wherein the said Irish Catholics are shown in the act and attitude of crawling to the foot of the throne, praying to be led against the rebellious Americans. The great Dominican said he had searched for some such address, thinking very naturally that a document of so much importance would certainly have been printed; but he had not found any document answering the description, although he had found, in Curry’s Collection, an address testifying general loyalty. It is servile enough, God knows – I have it now before me and is signed, certainly, Fingal, Gormanstown, Dillon, Kenmare, and many others; but it says no word of America. Here is the Historian’s proud rejoinder, in his last lecture: –
“I quoted a loyal address to George the Third, signed in the name of the whole body by the leading Irish Catholics. Father Burke says that, though fulsome in its tone, it contains no words about America. As he meets me with a contradiction, I can but insist that I copied the words which I read to you from the original in the State Paper Office, and I will read one or two sentences of it again. The address declares that the Catholics of Ireland abhorred the unnatural rebellion against his Majesty which had broken out among his American subjects; that they laid at his feet 2,000,000 loyal, faithful, and affectionate hearts and hands, ready to exert themselves against his Majesty’s enemies in any part of the world; that their loyalty had been always as the dial to the sun, true though not shone upon.”
This last line, is the Historian very certain that it is not a quotation from Tom Moore? At any rate, he peremptorily shuts all mouths by saying, “I can but insist that I copied it in the State Paper Office.” Now, the fact is, that nobody, by this time, believes one word that the First of Living Historians writes or utters, upon his own authority. There are, accordingly, many still who will not believe that such a document exists, – not, at least, until after the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and the Judges have exhibited a certified copy of it, in the Chancery Office, Four Courts, Dublin. With his head high, and lofty disdain upon his countenance, this haughty creature thus finally brushes off the troublesome swarm of his assailants, and wraps himself nobly in his mantle of proof. Closing his last lecture, he says: –
“Here I must leave him” [namely, Father Burke]. “I leave untouched a large number of blots which I had marked for criticism; but if I have not done enough to him already, I shall waste my words with trying to do more; and for the future, as long as I remain in America, neither he, if he returns to the charge, nor any other assailant, must look for further answer from me. His own knowledge of his subject is wide and varied; but I can compare his workmanship to nothing so well as to one of the lives of his own Irish Saints, in which legend and reality are so strangely blended that the true aspects of things and character can no longer be discerned.”
This sarcasm about the Irish Saints is in English good taste, being addressed to an Irish Dominican Friar! The Christian Young Men rub their hands with glee, over so neat and cunning a cut administered to those superstitious Romanists. Yet, after all, perhaps the Historian has not spent much of his time in studying the lives of the Irish Saints. He is more deeply read in the legend of that round-bellied French Saint, the jolly “St. Ampoul;” where, perhaps, Father Burke cannot follow him.
The main thing which we learn most explicitly from this last paragraph is, that the malignant critics of the Historian may now consider themselves safe from the effects of his resentment. There are fifty of them; and I am thus emboldened to become the fifty-first: he will not notice any of us; his sole reply to one and all being “dixi.” Very well; although I should deem it a very high honor indeed, if I could anyhow goad and badger so illustrious a person into replying, even in the most damaging manner to me, I must not think of so nattering an encounter: and as I have the Book itself before me, I can only comment upon its text as my lights may enable me. So now for the book itself.
At the opening of a “section” of chapter third, the Historian, speaking of the situation of the country in the reign of James II., has this frank and satisfactory statement of the position of affairs: –
“The Irish believed that Ireland was theirs: that the English were invading tyrants who had stolen their laud, broken up their laws and habits, and proscribed their creed. The English believed that Ireland was a country attached, inseparably, by situation and circumstances, to the English crown; that they were compelled to govern a people who were unable or unwilling to govern themselves; and that the spoliation with which they were reproached had been forced upon them by the treachery and insubordination of the native owners. Between these two views of the same facts no compromise was possible.”
Certainly not; and, indeed, everybody who has any interest in the question ought to feel obliged to the English Historian for stating the issue so clearly, and for arguing it so steadily and consistently throughout his work. Mr. Prendergast expresses the hope that The English in Ireland may be translated and published in France and in Germany, as we may be very sure it will be. In the meantime, we have it in very plain English: so that Americans (if they care) have the best opportunity of learning the whole case of our nation in its relation to England, upon excellent authority. I call it excellent authority for this special purpose, namely, for ascertaining the genuine sentiment of the English people, because all the author’s historical books have an enormous currency in that country; and this one, above all, is sure to be devoured, by the multitudinous readers of England, with a greedy delight. I beg leave to commend it I them. I give my modest aid to the advertising of it.
In truth, if some Irishman, possessed of the grim humor of Dean Swift, Lad written these chapters with the intention of presenting the English case in the most grotesquely horrible and offensive point of view, he could scarcely go beyond our Historian. One might be almost inclined to suspect him of this malignant design, if the man were a wit, like the Dean of St. Patrick’s. But there is not a ray of humor in his intellect: and when he gravely propounds that, to term the “abolishing” of the religion of a people, by fines, whipping, transportation, and the gallows, a case of religious persecution, is “a mere abuse of words;” and when he mentions, as a wholly untenable theory, the belief prevalent among the Irish, that Ireland was theirs, he means no sarcasm: it is the most serious and stolid British insolence: not intended to be laughed at by any means, nor a fit subject for amusement at all.
The thing has an odor of blood. Such words call up the ghosts of many generations of murdered men; and they are intended, and calculated, to make more such ghosts for ages yet to come. If I have heretofore spoken of this man’s performances in a tone somewhat like levity, I drop that tone from the present moment, and proceed to expose the Historian in all his naked horror.
There is no need, for the present purpose, to examine this writer’s account of the “occupation of Ireland,” at the end of the twelfth century, by people whom he calls Normans, “whose peculiar mission was to govern men.” The conquerors of England, and the invaders of Ireland, were, according to the Historian, not only Normans but Norman aristocrats. In this, as in everything else, he carefully consults and flatters the prevailing sentiment of his own people at the present day. The English cannot endure to say, or to hear, that their island was conquered in one battle by a mob of Frenchmen, – Frenchmen pure and simple, including those who lived in Normandy. They cannot endure to be told that one whole wing, and one-third of William’s army, consisted of Bretons; another wing of Gascons and other people of the south and centre of France. And as for the “Normans,” who came over, afterwards, to “take charge” of Ireland, it seems to our English friends invidious to dwell upon the fact that they were not Normans at all; you might as well call them Auvergnats or Savoyards. The Fitzstephen sand Fitzmaurices who preceded Henry II., were Geraldines, the Italian Gherardini; and their mother was the notorious Nesta, a Welsh lady of no uneasy virtue. Out of the same nest of Nesta came also Giraldus Cambrensis, the very first of the “carpet-bag” school of writers upon Ireland. And when Henry himself came over with his Knights, he also had no title to be called a Norman aristocrat, nor a Norman at all; for in fact he was born in Anjou, where his father before him was born, and his children after him. He became indeed Duke of Normandy, as he became King of England; yet he never called himself a Norman; and if any one had affronted him. by calling him an Englishman, he would have had the insulter lashed with dog-whips.
I notice this rubbish about “Norman rulers of men,” only to point out how sedulously the Historian has consulted the national vanity of his public: but I shall now apply myself to his treatment of that which he calls “the gravest event in all Irish history, the turning-point on which all later controversies between England and Ireland hinge” –
“Those who see in that massacre the explanation and the defence of the subsequent treatment of Ireland, however unwilling to revive the memory of scenes which rivalled in carnage the horrors of St. Bartholomew, are compelled to repeat the evidence once held to be unanswerable.”
In these words the Historian commits himself to the whole ghastly story. He will not, indeed, insist that two hundred thousand Protestants were assassinated in six months. But, if there was a certain exaggeration in the estimate of the numbers, he assures us that “for these enormous figures the Catholic priests were responsible. They returned the numbers of the killed in their several parishes, up to March, 1042, as 154,000.” Also, “Sir John Temple considered that 150,000 perished in two months, or 300,000 in two years.” But as our learned Historian knows well enough that there were not so many Protestants in all Ireland, counting women and children, he thinks it best to take the cooler and calmer estimate of Lord Clarendon, who reduced the estimate to 40,000; or he is willing even to take Sir William Petty’s numbers, namely 37,000. And even these figures, he says, may “seem too large.” But that there was, in fact, a most frightful massacre perpetrated in Ulster, he feels it his duty to re-affirm; and for proof of it, in all its details, he refers to the folio volumes of sworn depositions now to be read in the library of Trinity College, “whose evidence is the eternal witness of blood which the Irish Catholics have, from that time to this, been vainly trying to wash away.”
Now, I propose to show –
First, that there was no massacre at all.
Second, that the Historian knows there was no massacre.
Third, that he intentionally and advisedly cites “authorities” which prove nothing and shed not a ray of light.
Fourth, that in producing Temple, Petty, Dean Maxwell and others, as witnesses, he is producing those carpet-baggers who had need of establishing a “massacre,” because it was their title-deed to the great estates afterwards confiscated: – that in short there was money in the massacre.
Fifth, that he has woven together this tissue of sanguinary falsehood for the purpose of blackening and scandalizing a whole people before the civilized world, or, as he expresses it, making that gory fable “the explanation and defence of the subsequent treatment of Ireland,” meaning Penal Laws, and the whipping-post and the gallows and universal plunder of all persons who went to Mass.
Sir William Petty gathered together, out of the confiscated estates, those vast domains which his descendant, Lord Lansdowne, now possesses in Ireland. Sir John Temple was the founder of the Irish fortunes of the Temples Lords Palmerston. Dr. Maxwell was made Bishop of Kilmore, in reward for one affidavit: to be sure it was a hard one, as we shall see; but he swallowed it, and it agreed with him. Sir John Borlase, an Englishman, but a carpet-bag Judge on the Irish bench, had a share out of the spoil of the Papists. And these men, and many others like them, and their dependants, could not afford to let the “massacre” be questioned at all: it was on the massacre they lived and were providing for their little families: if any man at that time doubted the massacre they would have his blood.
Indeed, in the last Lecture of the Historian, he refers to the Rev. Ferdinando Warner, a very respectable clergyman of the Church of England, and author of a History of Ireland, who made a most careful examination into the alleged murders of Protestants, and reduced them to two thousand one hundred people – a heavy hecatomb enough, one might think: but it will not answer our Historian’s purpose at all: he cannot come down to so low a figure: he does not know but that the next Protestant may whittle it down to nothing.
So he treats Mr. Warner’s estimate with a pooh-pooh, and actually says: “I am sorry to say I have known many Protestants entirely unable to distinguish truth from falsehood.” The Historian is utterly disgusted at such a “Protestant” as this, who tries to cut and lop away the whole foundation on which the treatment of Ireland is grounded and justified. Such a Protestant is no better than that Papist keeper of records in London who actually answered Mr. Meline’s inquiry by giving him such information, as convicted the Historian of fraud.
I am about to prove myself a very poor sort of Protestant, according to the Historian’s religious test: for the task I have undertaken and the end I have set before me are to demonstrate, to all rational and fair-minded people, that this individual, purporting to be a Historian, has, both by his Lectures and his Book, deliberately falsified the very History which he undertook to elucidate; that he has used his researches of years with the cold malignity of a spider, to involve his intended victim in an inextricable network of black falsehood; referring for his “facts” to authorities he knew to be worse than worthless; presenting those pretended authorities to his readers as trustworthy and undeniable; suppressing, in general, or else disparaging (as of no consequence), all evidence which bore against his bloody plan; and that he has done all this with a certain “purpose fixed as the stars” – to use a fine expression of his own; but in fact I prefer my illustration to his, my own spider to his star: – and that this settled purpose was, to cover with execration and to overwhelm with a load of calumny, a generation of men, all dead two or three hundred years ago, in such sort as to cast a shadow of horror over their children, and their children’s children, even to the ninth and tenth generation. I know it may be suggested that the motive of his labor was perhaps no worse than to insure a vast circulation for his Book, by flattering the conceit of his own people and feeding their bitterest and dearest national passion: – let those who find this a good excuse give to the Historian all the benefit of it.