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Ar the present moment, Pat seems to suffer some of the inconveniences which attend upon the objects of popular favor. Just two years have elapsed since he was the centre of all attraction; he was treated, feted and flattered; “now lies bim there, and none so poor to do him reverence.” Those who were formerly loudest in their protestations of affection for the sons of the Emerald Isle, are prepared to show an unbroken descent of pure American blood for an indefinite number of generations; they boast a firm and continued attachment for “ Native” principles, and would esteem it a misfortune to have an Irishman among the list of their acquaintance.
The disfavor with which our Irish population is regarded by a large portion of the community, we believe to be without foundation, in reason or common sense. Not a little of it may be traced to British influence. The fact is, much as we may dislike to hear the truth, we are strongly imbued with English prejudices and English feelings; this is the natural result of a common origin, a common language, and a common literature. With reason we venerate old England and her institutions; we owe much to her, and we should be wanting in the common feelings of humanity, were we not grateful for the benefits she has conferred upon our country. But there are some subjects in which her influence has been an injury, rather than a benefit, and this Irish question is one. With all his good qualities, John Bull has an immeasurable quantity of self-conceit, and he is the very incarnation of prejudice. Like the King, he cannot do wrong, and if he fails, the blame is shifted on to other shoulders. Because England has been unsuccessful in her attempts to Anglicize and govern Ireland, the English press ridicules and misrepresents the character of the Irish people. We have been told that they are a wrong-headed, blundering, and obstinate race-incapable of enjoying the blessings of liberty and civilization, or of ever learning that self-control necessary to maintain free institutions. These ideas have been incautiously adopted by many of our people. That they are entirely false, unjust, and malicious, it needs but little reflection to perceive.
It is a common, but mistaken impression, that the stubbornness of the Irishman is such as to prevent an insurmountable barrier to all attempts at reforming and elevating his character, and that, like a certain animal not to be named in polite company, which professes a great superabundance of that article, he can only be belabored into propriety. Yet St. Patrick, by mere persuasion, introduced Christianity into Ireland in thirty years, and without the use of force, overthrew the altars on which the fires of Paganism had burned for ages. The failure of England to accomplish a similar reform, is solely owing to the injustice and tyranny of the means employed. For nearly seven centuries, her efforts to protestantize Ireland, have been accompanied by the most wicked and odicus oppression. Can we blame the Irish for refusing to embrace our religious system under such circumstances ? Would we not justly regard them as a craven and spiritless people, had they adopted Protestantism at the command of a usurping government, and in obedience to tyrannical enactments ?
Another fault frequently imputed to the Irish, is their pugnacity, which sometimes shows itself too prominently in brawls and riots. It is natural
that they should possess this characteristic. Ever since we have known anything about Ireland, it has been in a state of internal agitation and dissension, well calculated to create a pugnacious spirit in a people disposed more to action than thought. Rebellion has succeeded rebellion, and though their efforts to throw off the English yoke have always resulted in defeat and disaster, they have contributed, in no small degree, to arouse and keep alive that love of excitement, which seems to be inwrought in the Irish nature. One feature of this pugnacity is especially worthy of commendation, and that is, the cheerfulness which always attends it. When an Irishman knocks you down, in nine cases out of ten, it is from pure love; you should regard the black eye which he gives you, as a sure proof of his affection, and determining its amount by the force of the blow, reciprocate accordingly. There is no meanness nor malice about this fighting spirit, which proceeds from nothing more than the circumstances just mentioned, in conjunction with an excess of animal spirits, and that great natural courage, which has so often exhibited itself in the history of the nation. When the cause is removed, the effect will no longer exist. Consequently, in this country, the wild Irishman is tamed down and civilized, and under the influence of our institutions, becomes a useful and tractible member of society. There is one trait of Irish character, which it would be well for us,
if we should all adopt—that happy and contented disposition, which accommodates itself to all circumstances and all times. It is this lighthearted temperament, which molifies and enlivens the condition of the most unfortunate of that unfortunate people, and enables them to bear up under the pressure of adverse circumstances; even the Irish beggar is a gay and jovial fellow. As a nation, we are too abstracted, too solemn and long-visaged. It is true that we have a great work to accomplish, but there is no necessity of making it unpleasant. Life, one would think, is full enough of trouble, and it is difficult to conceive what would be the advantage of creating an extra quantity. If some of that Irish cheerfulness could be infused into our nature, it would soften the rugged pathway of duty; it would make our tasks a delight; we would be enabled to accomplish more in both the intellectual and physical world ; and above all, we would become a happier and better people. In this particular then, the union of the Irish character with our own, would be a great and lasting benefit.
It seems to us, that those who declaim against the Irishman, as a useless and troublesome incubus upon the community, must keep their eyes closed to the real condition of affairs. Who is it that digs our
canals, builds our beautiful cities, and lays those iron rails, which link together the sovereign states in the bonds of national unity? The Irish are most certainly our "hewers of wood and drawers of water." It is plain that our progress as a nation, would have been materially delayed without their assistance. As a return then, should it not be our endeavor to elevate and ennoble their characters, and to share with them those blessings which Providence has so bountifully bestowed upon us? Yet some would have us exclude the Irishman from the circle of our benefits -would have us make him an outcast, a Pariah, a Helot, a Plebeian-in all but name, a slave. If their designs are carried out, well may aristocrats exclaim at the ingratitude of republics, and taunt us with our inconsistency in refusing to others, those rights which we claim for our selves !
The Irish are a warmhearted, impulsive, and patriotic race. They bave many faults, but as we would believe, many more good qualities
. They have done much for us, in the field, in the council, and in the pursuits of literature. What name stands brighter among the list of Revolutionary heroes, than that of him, who fell in the disastrous attack
upon Quebec, nobly battling for the liberties of his adopted country? Whose position at the bar of the Empire State, was more honorable as regards talents and reputation, than that of the brother of Emmet? Whose thoughts strike home, and find a sympathetic cord in all our hearts, like those of "poor Goldsmith ?” That man has but little genuine feeling or sense, who casts an undeserved sneer at the industrious and humble sons of Erin. We should treat them as brothers and friends. Remembering their faults are due chiefly to the unfortunate circumstances in which they have been placed, and to the oppression which they have suffered, we should approach them in a spirit of love and kindness. We should attempt their reform and education by the mighty influence of reason and persuasion. Then if we fail in accomplishing the desired object, the fault will be our own.
It is a singular incident in the opposition to foreign Catholicism which now exists, that it has assumed the garb of secrecy. Its advocates seem to think, that they can best resist Jesuitism, by becoming Jesuits themselves. But the truth is, that all this outcry about the danger to be feared from the Papal Church is an old maid's story—a mere bugbear, got up for political purposes. The right of free discussion, strikes at the very root of the Roman Catholic Church system. That "ignorance is the mother of devotion," is one of the fundamental principles of Popery. How a Church, guided by such principles, can ever attain a strong hold
in a country like ours, where there is such perfect freedom of thought, speech, and action—where everybody is “wide awake,” and everything is a-stir, passeth our simple comprehension. Truth has an intrinsic power over error, and where men are permitted to give utterance to their opinions without fear and without reserve, it cannot but triumph. If the Catholic Church can abide the test of our institutions, it deserves to stand, and will stand. But it is falling, and nothing in the world can strengthen and perpetuate its existence, but the persecution and proscription of its members. The efforts, which are designed to injure it, will have a contrary effect. When the present state of public feeling has blown over it is not improbable that a reaction may follow, and produce
very results our Native American friends dread. Perhaps the United States will embrace the Catholic religion ; we shall be handed over body and soul to his Holiness the Pope; Archbishop Hughes will be made President; and “Paddy,” with his “shillalah” in one hand, and a bottle of the “craythur” in the other, will run riot over the triumph of the true Church, and the burning of heretic Know-Nothings.
Among the minor poets, whose labors, less known than the works of the great masters of Poesy, have, nevertheless, contributed many rich gems to our literature, William Motherwell holds no secondary place. He abounds in every quality of mind and heart which the true poet should possesss; besides a vivid, fertile imagination and a masculine intellect, powerful enough to throw its fancies into forms of varied beauty, he has a heart full of genuine sensibility and strong sympathy with nature. Moreover, being born, not made, a poet, he possesses the most inalienable right to the title.
His finest and most striking productions are three spirit-stirring warsongs, drawn from the Sagas of the Northmen. We are indebted to that ardent love of antiquarian research, which was a striking characteristic of Motherwell, for these noble odes. His special delight was the study of Scandinavian literature; and from it he imbibed the same fierce freedom which animated the terrible sea-kings of old; men who scorned the
* Poems by William Motherwell. Boston: Ticknor & Co.