The million-peopled city
How Popery has Marred and Debased the Irish Character.
But Popery does more than leave fallow the mind. Wherever it exists, it debases the character of the people. And it has done so with the Irish, as it would have done with us, if God in his great mercy had not delivered us from the oppression. Just as in , the very appearance of the country, of the houses, and of the people, will determine whether the cantons through which you are passing are Protestant or Romish, so is it in the smaller cantons of the courts, and alleys, and streets of London, in which English and Irish respectively, and ordinarily dis- tinctively and with little admixture with each other, fix their habitations.
The worst parts in the character of the Irish of London are, that they are idle and dirty; that they are without that honourable independence of mind which is so valuable a feature in the English character; that they are essentially disloyal, and that their feelings towards our Protestant population are those of animosity, persecution, and cruelty. These are the peculiarly dark spots in their picture,-and these are simply and only the stamp which Popery has placed on them, to manifest that they are hers. They are " the marks of the beast," in every place and in every age. And it is these repulsive points which render the
|Irish so unpopular with our own working-classes, and to a certain extent, with our Protestant population in general. Indeed, where Popery is bereft of outward power, as in , and is yet largely developed, it reveals some of its most odious qualities more glaringly than under other circumstances. The antagonistic form which it is there led to assume develops a coarseness, a rancour, and a disregard of human laws, which sleep under more quiet developments. When Popery in is contrasted with Popery in most of the countries of Europe, these distinctions will, we apprehend, be admitted by all.|
The design which led to the endowment by the nation of , in which the Irish priests should be educated rather than be allured to or other conti- nental nations for that purpose, appeared fair. But without entering into the question of the policy being strictly right or wrong, or of the general arguments adduced for or against its continuance, there is too much reason to believe that the following statement of a writer favourable to the continuance of the grant is correct: "If candidates for the Irish priesthood had continued to go for education to the Continent, the mere expenses they would have had to incur would have secured to the Church the sons of respectable people. With an opportunity of mixing with foreigners, their manners would have been polished, and their ideas enlarged. Indeed, in the French school of theology, at , there is very little of what is called 'ultra- montanism.' On their return they would have been fit to enter into the very best society of , an intercourse of which the advantages would evidently have been recipro- cal. But in the cheap manufacture of priests at , instead-like our young Protestant clergy at and -of enjoying the advantages of association with gentlemen and noblemen of all professions, their education .
|is exclusively confined to themselves; . . . and as their life is evidently divested of all refined intellectual enjoyments, none but the sons of small needy farmers and small shop- keepers are willing to embark in it. And thus it may be confidently asserted that among the whole of the Irish priesthood there scarcely exists the son of a gentleman .... In the class-books, ultramontane principles are irrevocably implanted in their heads, their discipline breaks down their minds, abject subjection to their superiors crushes their spirits; in fact, not only is the system altogether one of utter slavery, but it ends in the slave becoming a tyrant."|
The recent addition to the Maynooth grant has increased the number of priests in , which was not needed, as the population has decreased, instead of increasing the quality of the education imparted.
But to refer more in detail to these failings of the Irish:- "It is not his being a Celt that makes the Irishman in London what he is. There is nothing in Irish air or Irish birth that is unproductive of energy, or industry, or truth. was an Irishman; and among those whose names are held in honour and respectful love in our own Church, for bold straightforwardness, as well as manly eloquence and Christian love, are some whose very names declare them Celts. It is not Irish air in infancy, or Celtic parentage that has made the Irish in London what they are. It is nothing else but the withering curse of that anti-Chris- tian system, which blights where it falls, and through the soul itself crushes and tramples on the man. .. . 's religion unmans a nation. It produces a slothful, indolent, and improvident character. It either divests the man of the sense of personal responsibility, or plunges him into a hope- less despair . . . Hence the crouching spirit, and the untruthful spirit... This influence of the Romish system
|lasts when the faith of has been relinquished. It forms the great difficulty in the way of missionary effort." .|
 Sir Francis Head's " Fortnight in Ireland," pp. 394-5.