Page images
PDF
EPUB

ship will have no reason to complain: if censure should be more justly due to it, your character will suffer no discredit, as your name was introduced without your knowlege or

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE union which took place on the first day of the present century was a transaction of sufficient dignity and moment to claim the tribute of a distinct history. The causes which gave rise to it, the circumstances which attended its progress, the incidents by which it was hastened or retarded, and the successive adjustment of the terms of incorporation, demand a copious narrative, and require a fullness of illustration. As, from the political constitution of each of the kingdoms which the framers of the scheme proposed to unite, it could not be carried into effect without the deliberation and assent of the respective legislatures, the greater part of the history will necessarily consist of parliamentary debates: but the discussion of so important a project, by the enlightened members of the British and Hibernian senates, cannot prove uninteresting either to the politician or the general reader. Splendid displays of eloquence will sometimes illumine

B the

the page : closeness of argumentation will at other times prevail: varieties of remark and allusion will occasionally illustrate the subject; and the information which the work will contain will not be unaccompanied with the gratifications of entertainment. The compiler of this history has not merely consulted the ordinary vehicles of intelligence, but has had recourse to numerous pamphlets published by respectable and well-informed individuals, and has also been favored with private communications. He therefore confidently hopes that the work will be found authentic, and the statements correct ; and he has endeavoured to render his style not unworthy of the subject.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ACCOUNT OF THE LEGISLATIVE
UNION BETWEEN THAT ISLAND AND GREAT-BRITAIN.

From the natural position of Britain and Ireland, we might have expected to observe, in the records of the earliest times, the prevalence of a political connexion between the islands, if we were not taught by general history, that countries of considerable extent, long after the aera of their original population, remained under the divided sway of petty princes, who did not look far beyond the limits of their own territories. Such, we may conclude, were the Asiatic governments which immediately succeeded the patriarchal system. Such was the state of polity in Africa, after it had been peopled by the descendants of Ham ; and Europe, colonised by the posterity of Japheth, exhi

bited similar features. Celtic emigrants from Gaul or Britain seem to have been the first inhabitants of Ireland; and it is certain or probable that they long continued in a state of the grossest barbarism. Colonies of Belgae afterwards passed over, and, having subdued the Celtic tribes, formed B 2 establishestablishments in the southern parts of the island. The descendants of those invaders founded a monarchy in North-Britain, early in the sixth century; and, on the other hand, the Irish princes were dispossessed of a part of their country, in the sequel, by the attacks of the Danes and Norwegians, who erected petty principalities in the maritime districts. The introduction of Christianity and literature tended to promote civilisation among the different tribes ; but it had less influence over the posterity of the Celta: than over the other inhabitants of the island. The former, insusceptive of refinement, fondly adhered to ancient customs, however absurd; while the minds of the latter were more pervious to improvement, and more ready to comply with reasonable changes, though they were less civilised than their English neighbours. While England prospered under the government of the second Henry, Ireland, nominally divided among five kings (under whom were a great number of turbulent chieftains or heads of clans), was in a state of great disorder, from the prevalence of intestine broils. Henry, desirous of profiting by these commotions, invaded the island; and the terror of his arms produced the submission of its princes. He pretended to subject them to a tribute, and assumed the title of supreme lord of Ireland; but his success was very imperfect, and the influence which he retained was chiefly confined to the district of Meath, the lordship of Leinster, and some maritime towns. Into these parts only were the English laws introduced, the native princes being suffered to govern the people by their former laws. This indulgence did not conciliate the Irish, who viewed the English colonists with eyes of jealousy and hatred ; and fiequent hostilities arose between them. The chieftains

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »