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racter, we are treated with a contrast between Goldsmith and Pope, and a panegyric upon Tommy Moore. “He stands in this age, alone and unrivalled, the master of the sweetest and only minstrelsy." These praises are followed, (after a short and somewhat unnatural digression upon Burke, Grattan, and Curran) by an animated description of the ladies.
"The women of Ireland represent the national character better than the other sex. Like an Italian landscape in the moon-light, we see its beautiful outline softened, but yet more distinctly, than when the sun poured upon it his fierce and burning splendour. In the soothing softness of this picture, we discern all that gave value to the deeper tint of the noon-day radiance; the kindness and goodness of the Irish heart, without its depravity; its faithfulness and devotedness, without its fierceness.
"All its original gentleness and truth, such as was before yet calamity and oppression had disfigured and corrupted it. Its playfulness and gaiety, touching every subject of thought and taste, and feeling and fancy; fearlessly because pure, and freely because above suspicion. Gentleness is civilization-woman, is therefore, naturally more civilized than man. Full of the natural genius of the country; the acuteness, the bright intelligence, the lively fancy, the fine imagination, without the pretension which so frequently in the other sex spoils and disfigures these precious gifts of nature. We have seen these brilliant, dangerous talents, in all their richness and glow and glory, like the lambient flame that girt the head of Anchises' son, the delight and wonder of the surrounding circle, without a thought or consciousness of their existence disturbing the mind of the possessor.
"The women of England, if they possess the talent which belongs to their sex in the sister island, have not the courage to use their brilliant stores; or use them awkwardly, or give themselves up to a taste so refined as to approach the last shade of insipidity. The strength and freedom of Irish intellect, and of the Irish heart in its large and warm pulsations, would look something like vulgarity in England.
"We have heard it said, that an English woman would not be safe in treading the path which would be firm and secure to the foot of an Irish female. We do not think this: we think more highly of the women of England." O'Driscol, Vol. I. p. 32.
From these delightful themes, the "large and warm pulsations" of Mr. O'Driscol's pen lead us but too quickly to English policy and penal laws-the protracted misgovernment and inexcusable cruelty of the Plantagenets, the Tudors and the Stuarts. We are not positively certain that we understand the meaning of these chapters, for it is so closely enveloped in similes and metaphors, that a glimpse
here and there through the net-work is all that our eyes may attain unto. But we believe there is some sense at the bottom, if a man knew how to come by it. The following passage comes nearer to the mark than Mr. O'Driscol's shafts are wont to do.
"The confiscations and grants of land which followed every defeated insurrection, were the golden ore which consoled the adventurers. Irish confederates and allies, though sometimes found, were reluctantly admitted, for they narrowed the field of confiscation. The Lord President of Munster, in the reign of Elizabeth, refused to admit a man of rank into the peace and service of the Queen, until he had committed murder upon some person of consequence, of his own kindred and party. These were the terms of his acceptance; and, more wonderful still, they were complied with. And in the reign of Henry VII., Lord Gormanston, after a victory over the Irish, turned to the Earl of Kildare, and exclaimed, 'We have slaughtered our enemies, but, to complete the good deed, we must now cut the throats of those Irish of our own party.'
"Of the wickedness of this system there can be no question. Of its impolicy we have to say a word or two. It utterly destroyed the gentry of old Irish race. The uninterrupted working of five or six hundred years had accomplished their ruin. They were rooted out of the land of their fathers; but the memory of their race has not perished. New families have taken their places, but as yet are far from having acquired their privileges. Between the new race of gentry and the people there is no sympathy or confidence yet established." O'Driscol, Vol. I. p. 47.
"The unhappy policy pursued in Ireland threw insuperable obstacles in the way of the Reformation in that country. The gentry, indeed, adopted the religion of the state, but the people would not follow them, for they were strangers in the land. If the rage for confiscation and a wiser policy could have spared the ancient gentry, these too, would have embraced the religion of the crown, as did the O'Briens, and a few others, whom an extraordinary fortune preserved; and the people would have followed their leading.
"The descendants also of the bold and turbulent chieftains, who brooked impatiently the dominion of a foreigner, would in our time be found as complaisant to the government, and as faithful to the British throne as any Scotch or English peer in parliament. And from them would have descended to the people a true knowledge and just impression of the king and the constitution. The father of his people-their most precious inheritance. The people would have sent back, through these natural channels, the full tide of their warm affections." O'Driscol, Vol. I. p. 49.
The chapter on the Penal Laws is still more effective.It exposes their enormities in the most unanswerable manner,
and if Mr. O'Driscol had happened to write it before the Penal Laws were repealed, he would have produced many a warm pulsation. But the moment that he stumbles upon the words Protestant Ascendancy-the furious party-man shews his cloven foot, and the reader fancies himself chained down to the files of an opposition newspaper.
Separate chapters are devoted to Religion, the Church of England, the Church of Rome, and the Presbyterians; and the same subjects are resumed in the second volume under the titles Education, Benevolent Societies, Ecclesiastical History, and Ancient Church of Ireland. We are not informed of the causes which led to this arrangement, but they depend upon some peculiarities in Mr. O'Driscol's notions of method, which lead him to discuss the Union first and then the Rebellion, which he considers as having produced it, and teaches him at the same time to insert Population, Manufactures, Mr. Owen, and Dublin, between Presbyterianism and Ecclesiastical History. Nor are his sentiments less uncommon than the order in which they are arranged-his meaning, as far as it is ascertainable, appears to be that Christianity is the best thing in the world, provided it be not connected with an established Church. Accordingly he proposes to return to the primitive system which existed in the Roman empire before the time of Constantine, or which he considers the same thing, to the system which existed in Ireland before the invasion of Henry the Second!! We are not favoured with any precise account of what these systems were, but we doubt not that Mr. O'Driscol's information is equally accurate respecting both. He kuows that before Constantine Christianity was not established; and this he pronounces most admirable. He has been told that some Monks called Ireland the Land of Saints, and takes it for granted, that it was an earthly Paradise. But the question before him is, how to bring us back to these halcyon days, and we must acknowledge the simplicity of his plan;-do away with all Churches, all Creeds, all Liturgies, abolish Protestantism, Popery, Socinianism, and Presbyterianism, furnish the people with school-masters and bibles, and primitive Christianity will reappear. We cannot stop to trace this admirable divinity to its source, but our readers may wish to know a little more of its merits.
With respect to the effects which Christianity might have produced since its promulgation, we agree, as far as we understand him, with Mr. O'Driscol. We agree with him in deploring the miserable contrast between that which God has offered, and that which man has consented to receive. But
when Mr. O'Driscolundertakes to account for this lamentable difference, his metaphors must submit to a little cross-questioning.
"It has never been denied that Christianity raised and reclaimed the moral character of its votaries, at its first promulgation; and it would probably have gone on to build up again the ruined and prostrate empire of the Romans, if Constantine had not interfered by the most unhappy measures to prevent such an accomplishment. He deserted the ancient city and thus sealed its fate; and he corrupted Christianity by placing it upon the throne, and shut out all hope and aid from this quarter." O'Driscol, Vol. I. p.93. "How can there be a question that Christianity needs an establishment, when we know that it prevailed over the whole earth without one? In the face of opposing establishments, and persecutions, and powers, and when it obtained an establishment, then only did it begin to be corrupted; and in its turn, this all-conquering faith gave way before the errors of Paganism, and the impositions of Mahomet.
"The faith, which, without an establishment, had conquered the Roman empire, and subdued the world, now seated upon a throne, and surrounded with splendour, yielded to the bold and crafty adventurer of the East, and the shadow of the crescent covered half the earth. Protestant governments also adhered, fatally, to the Pagan policy of pensioned establishments. Hence the little progress of the reformed churches; hence the failure of the Protestant church of Ireland. O'Driscol, Vol. II. p. 90.
Such is the corner-stone of Mr. O'Driscol's case. 'Christianity, at its first promulgation reclaimed its votaries,' and it would probably have gone on to build up the empire' if Constantine had not placed it on the throne. The argument rests upon a bare supposition-and never were greater wonders achieved by any probably upon earth. If we ask why the Goths and Vandals marched to Rome-the answer is, probably because Constantine seated Christianity on the throne. What business had the Picts and the Saxons in Britain ?Probably they came because Constantine seated Christianity on the throne. The same circumstances brought the Mahometans to Constantinople-the Danes to Ireland-and the Normans to France. All of whom would probably have staid at home, or at least have returned to their native place civilized citizens, and genuine Christians, if Constantine had not corrupted the Church.
But Mr. O'Driscol proceeds farther in his second volume. By the time that he had arrived at this portion of his work, he discovered that probability is not proof, and thought proper to substitute a bold affirmation in its place; informing us, in the first place, that Christianity prevailed over the whole
earth without an establishment,' and that when it obtained an establishment, then only did it begin to be corrupted.' Upon these second thoughts, we shall merely observe, that the universal prevalence of Christianity before the age of Constantine, is a fact with which we now become acquainted for the first time in our lives. And we trust that it will be noticed in all future ecclesiastical histories, by way of comment upon the defective narratives which inform us that Christianity was preached throughout the empire, but are silent respecting its prevalence.
That corruptions only crept in after Constantine is another of Mr. O'Driscol's new facts:-It is somewhat inconsistent with the Epistles, in which, although the circumstance has escaped the researches of Mr. O'Driscol, we hear of schisms, strifes, contentions, errors concerning the faith, and damnable heresies. It is somewhat inconsistent with the Revelation of St. John the divine, in which we read of Churches that had left their first love of Churches that had a name, that they lived and were dead. But nevertheless it is a link in Mr. O'Driscol's great argument, and is as useful a fact for his purpose as any that he could have invented or dreamed.
His theory, therefore, rests upon these simple data. That there were no corruptions in Christianity before Constantine -all that we find upon that subject in Scripture and History being the errors of the eye-witnesses who wrote in those early times. That Christianity had improved the lives of its votaries, and was probably destined to perpetuate the tyranny of the Romans over the fairest portion of the globe-such perpetuation being the natural and obvious consequence of the religion of liberty and peace. That Christianity had not probably but actually prevailed-although for the one as well as the other we have no higher authority than the assertion of Mr. O'Driscol!! To complete this mass of absurdity, he treats us to another strong fact, viz. the primitive Irish Church.
"There is something very singular in the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. The Christian Church of that country, as founded by Patrick and his predecessors, existed for many ages free and unshackled for about seven hundred years, this church maintained its independence; it had no connection with England, and differed upon points of importance from Rome.
"The first work of Henry the Second was to reduce the Church of Ireland into obedience to the Roman Pontiff. Accordingly he procured a council of the Irish clergy, to be held at Cashel in 1172; and the combined influence and intrigues of Henry and the Pope prevailed. This council put an end to the ancient church of Ire