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religion, by imputing to it mischievous temporal effects. Even if the agitation produced by the recent religious changes may have unsettled the minds of the English and German peasants in the sixteenth century, and rendered them prone to insurrection, it is clear that their movements were exclusively directed to worldly objects, and that if they had no economical grievances, the religious excitement would never have driven them to take up the sword. . Before we close this part of the subject, it may
be proper to advert to the alleged connexion between Whiteboy disturbances in Ireland and political agitation. Those persons who seek to represent all the evils of Ireland as springing from Catholicism, either as a religious system or as a political party, are fond of attributing local disturbances to the discontent produced by the speeches and writings of the Catholic leaders. If no weight is to be allowed to Mr. O'Connell's repeated disclaimers of any desire to promote Whiteboy outrages; if no weight is to be attributed to such documents as Dr. Doyle's Address to the People against the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet; it may at least be expected that persons who require additional evidence will be satisfied if it can be shown, that the leaders of the Catholic party have no interest in fomenting these crimes. The great strength of the Catholic party in Ireland consists in their legal combination to carry their own objects, or, at the most, in their legal resistance to the law. This combination and this passive resistance are organized by persons of a high class, and are intended to produce results which will affect the rich far more than the poor. On the other hand, the weakness of the Catholic party in Ireland consists in the turbulence of the peasantry, which
enables the Government to direct severe coercive measures against them, and which exposes them to the imputation of savageness and atrocity, and thus throws a discredit on the whole Catholic body. Nobody, who considers the state of Ireland without party bias, can doubt that Mr. O'Connell is perfectly sincere in exhorting and imploring the poor Catholics (as he has frequently done) to abstain froin crime and outrage. When Dr. Doyle told his diocesans, that “ he had witnessed with the deepest affliction of spirit the progress of illegal combinations under the barbarous designation of Whitefeet and Blackfeet;" that “ he had laboured by letter and by word, by private admonition and by public reproof, to arrest and to suppress this iniquity;" when
instructed the faithful, that whosoever assists, encourages, aids, or abets the Whitefeet, Blackfeet, &c., by command, advice, consent, by praise or flattery, becomes an accomplice in their guilt, and a partner in their crimes *;" he was as earnest and sincere as when he openly called on the people to resist the payment of all dues to the Established Church, and prayed that “their hatred of tithes might be as lasting as their love of justice.” The 'scattered, intermitting, and (as Mr. O'Connell calls them) driftless acts of outrage which are committed by the Whiteboys, can have no tendency to weaken the Protestant party, and only serve to prejudice the Catholic cause t. In fact, the
* Dr. Doyle's Admonition to the Clergy and People within the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin.-H.C., 1832. App. ix., p. 116. See also the Pastoral Letters of Irish Catholic Bishops, mentioned above, p. 30.
op It was with this feeling that Mr. O'Conor, in a letter to Dr. Curry, written in March, 1763, said, “I lament, for the sake of all our people, the new insurrection in Munster. I think, however, that it must be soon over."-O'Conor's Hist. of the Irish Cath., Part I., p. 303.
great difficulty which the advocates of that cause have had to contend with, is not so much the weakness of their case as the bad character of their clients. They have had to struggle not only against the hostility of party men to their religious tenets, but also against the repugnance of moderate men to the violence and brutality too often apparent in the outrages of the Catholic peasantry. It would be strange, indeed, if they sought by apparently sincere exhortations to lead their followers into a course which they thought pernicious to themselves, but which was in fact beneficial.
That the subordinate persons who carry on the work of political agitation in the country are not spared by the Whiteboys, is testified by Colonel Johnson.
“ Do you think there is any connexion between the Whitefeet in Queen's County and those you denominate demagogues ? -I think they are led by them.
“ Do you think the demagogues advise them to break the law ?--They tell them not to break the law, but I have no doubt they sincerely wish them to do it.
“ Have not some of the demagogues suffered in their property ?-Yes, some of them have.
Is it likely they would instigate them to do that by which they would be sufferers ?-1 do not think they contemplated they should be attacked ; but, by courting popularity, they thought they were making friends for themselves.
It has turned out the reverse ? Yes. “ Have not those individuals you think in some degree the authors, and remotely the promoters, of this mischief, suffered themselves ?-Yes, they have.
Have they been attacked in their houses ?—Yes; and some of the farmer agitators in the Queen's County are the most oppressive people in the country.
“ Have they been served with notices ?-Yes. “ What have they been desired to do ?--To treat their
labourers better, and pay them better wages, and feed them better.
Have they had arms taken from them ?- Not from any that were decidedly leading agitators.
“ Then the Whitefeet exhibit a feeling that those persons have not been free from the faults they charge upon other persons ?—Certainly.”—H. C., 1832. Nos. 904-14.
Nevertheless, it is true that the spirit of disobedience to the law which has grown out of political agitation has contributed indirectly to the spread of Whiteboy disturbances; and, in particular, that the recent resistance to tithes has led to extremities which probably alarmed and afflicted the authors of it. On this subject there isan impressive statement of Lord Wellesley, in a dispatch already referred to.
“ I cannot (he says) employ words of sufficient strength to express my solicitude that his Majesty's government should fix the deepest attention on the intimate connexion marked by the strongest characters in all these transactions between the system of agitation and its inevitable consequence, the system of combination leading to violence and outrage; they are inseparably cause and effect; nor can I (after the most attentive consideration of the dreadful scenes passing under my view), by any effort of my understanding, separate one from the other in that unbroken chain of indissoluble connexion*.
That the outrages connected with the resistance to tithe in 1832 and 1833, were not merely aggravated by political agitation, but sprung directly from it, is certain ; but that, in a general point of view, there has been no indissoluble connexion between Whiteboy crime and agitation is so notorious that it is evident that Lord Wellesley could not have meant to extend
Papers relating to the State of Ireland, 1834, p. 4.
the application of his words beyond the particular case in question. The Whiteboy disturbances originated and flourished at a time when the Catholics had no political organization, no leaders, no association, no means of expressing joint opinion ; when, in short, political agitation, as a system, was unknown*. The disturbances before 1815, of which an account has been already given, could not have arisen from political agitation, more than the death of Socrates could have been caused by the Inquisition. Agitation may have heightened the disease; but the disease itself and the predisposing causes were already in existence.
* In point of fact, the little tendency to agitation which existed at the end of the last century in Ireland was repressed by the fear lest the political leaders should be confounded with the peasant insurgents. “ In the succ
cceeding years of 1764, 1765, and 1766 (says Mr. Wyse, in his History of the Catholic Association, 1 vol. p. 89.), the Catholics were too much alarmed by the outrages amongst the lower classes to think of assuming any corporate form which might excite or justify a suspicion of the slightest connexion with these disturbances. It is a remarkable feature in the early history of this body, that it seems throughout to have had no communication or sympathy with the people. Neither in a collective nor individual capacity do the Catholic gentry and clergy appear to have had much control over the lower classes of their communion. Mr. O'Connor frequently complains in terms of just bitterness of the more than Protestant severity of the Catholic landholders; and the thunders of the episcopacy, and the exhortations of the lower clergy, in the insurrection of Munster, fell idly on the affections and fears of the infuriated peasantry.”