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It has also been alledged, that they are "desti"tute of a sense of equity*." This vague slander is met by clear and certain facts: "A friend "of mine," says the ingenious author quoted above, in whose house there is seldom less than "1200L. or 1500L. in cash, surrounded with 200 or 300 poor peasants, retires at night to "his bed without bolting a door or fastening a "window t." I myself observed that the houses, both in the towns and in the country, were very ill secured against nocturnal depredation, and that in the day time strangers appeared to enter into them without molestation, and to remain in them as long as they pleased; which circumstance argues a great degree of confidence in each others honesty.-I have already mentioned the small number of capital convictions in Ireland, compared with those in Eng
The Irish, are also charged with drunkenness, and I am ready to allow that their cheerful and convivial temper, joined to the natural influence of the climate, disposes them to indulge in this vice. But after all, it is not by any means so common as in England, and most other countries under the same latitude; the reason of which is, that the Irish are instructed and habituated to strive against this natural propensity. As a proof of this, you can hardly enter into conversation with a serious Irish Catholic on the subject of
drinking, who will not tell you of the oaths he has taken against it. The fact is, in order to break themselves of the habit of drinking to excess, they are accustomed to bind themselves by an oath not to taste of any inebriating liquor for a stated time; for example, during a month, three months, or half a year.-There are persons so carried away with prejudice, as to asperse the Irish character with the guilt of that other branch of sensuality; but no accusation can be more unjust. "The instances of connubial de"fection," says the late tourist, "are fewer in "Ireland, for its size, than in any other country "of equal 'civilization, &c. The modesty of "the Irish ladies is the effect of principle *.— "The low Irish are observant of sexual modesty, "though crowded in the narrow limits of a cabin, and are strangers to a crime which red"dens the cheek with horror.-They are not only remarkable for their early marriages, but "for the inviolable sanctity with which the "marriage contract is kept: hence, amongst "other causes, the number and health of their
I have reserved the heaviest and most ordinary charge against the morality of Irish Catholics, and indeed of Catholics in general, that of habitual perjury, to be discussed in the last place. The liberal tourist, who has borne such honourable testimony to the virtues of the Irish
† Ibid. p. 495.
* Carr, p. 236.
in other respects, appears to have given some countenance to this calumny by the manner in which he has described the prevarication of a couple of witnesses at two different trials at which he was present in Ireland; just as if he could attend any trial of importance in England, without witnessing equal prevarication on the part of more than two witnesses! But to shew how far some English persons of respectable circumstances and situation are capable of carrying their prejudice I know a person of that description, who has repeatedly and publicly declared, that "the Irish are taught to believe there is no guilt "in perjury, and that priests attend at the doors "of the courts in Ireland, to absolve perjured "witnesses as they return from them." Good God! when will these anti-catholic calumniators become so far rational, as to see that this particular accusation stands refuted and scouted by the actual visible situation of the party accused! When will they acquire sense enough to see that Catholics have no occasion to petition parliament for a redress of their grievances, but that they have at all times a remedy for them in their own hands, if they could but reconcile it to their consciences to take a false oath. Surely these Papists could procure some priest, either for love or money, to absolve them! or, what would be better, they might procure a general dispensation from the Pope for a little occasional perjury, which other people com-4 mit without any dispensation whatsoever! They would thus obtain a great deal of wealth, influ
ence, and power, which they might afterwards employ for the benefit of the Church, as well as for their own; and what would be more valuable to them than all this, by swearing contrary to their own conviction, they would vindicate their characters from the foul charge of perjury, and pass for honest men !-But, Sir, to be serious, I beg you will observe that the test oaths against Catholics have completely answered their purpose in keeping them out of parliament, benefices, and places, and in subjecting them to a thousand inconvenient and grinding laws. This incontestible and shining fact will for ever demonstrate the religion which Catholics attach to the obligation of oaths, and that their Church does not furnish them with any remedy for escaping from it. This incontestible shining fact will for ever confute and put to shame the calumnies of their enemies, many of whom are well known to have never refused an advantage which could` be gotten by swearing. I have mentioned to you, Sir, that the test oaths, invented to keep Popery out of the state, have completely answered their purpose: but have those other oaths been equally effectual, which have been devised by the legislature to exclude heterodoxy from the established Church? or corruption from parliament? or smuggling from commerce? You are aware, Sir, what details I could furnish upon each of these heads but I spare you the relation, on the condition that you never join the daring calum
niators who have the front to reproach Catholics with the practice of perjury!
I am, &c.
Kilkenny, July 13, 1807.
To attempt to answer, or
even to notice the different writers who have publicly calumniated the religion and morals of the Irish Catholics would be an endless task: but there is one of them so distinguished by the virulence and grossness of his slanders, that I cannot help at least pointing him out, and giving you a specimen of his spirit, in a few extracts which I shall make from his ponderous libel, called, A History of the different Rebellions in Ireland. I was by no means surprised that a work of this complexion should have suffered the unprecedented disgrace of being rejected and