Irish History in English Magazines

Miriam Alexander
1913 The Irish Review (Dublin)  
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more » ... respect unhappily unique. She alone, of all the countries in the world, has had the misfortune to bring forth sons who, for their own ends, do not scruple to traduce her. It is impossible to imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman or a German deliberately setting himself down to defame his own land, to misrepresent his own countrymen--to distort the bygone annals of his nation. It is incredible to conceive sane and rational human beings holding the theory that history may be undone by a strenuous denial of its unpalatable truths, or that any man makes a better citizen for believing himself the descendant of a degraded race. Such, however, are the tenets of a certain section of the Irish community, and when this creed is thrust upon the English public and enforced by a total perversion of facts, those of the Irish nation who are not dead to all sense of national honour, have every right to object. In Blackwood's Magazine for January, 1913, there is an article entitled " The Wrongs of Ulster," and signed " C. W. C.," in which Ireland is defamed by what is said, by what is omitted, and by implication. The writer purports to describe the injustices inflicted in the past on the Ulster Scot, and does in point of fact relate certain incidents in the story of a race, eighty-five per cent. of which shook the dust of Ireland from its feet a hundred years ago; but the grievances of Ulster are merely the cloak for an attack on Ireland, hysterical in its venom. He describes the Irish as inherently cowardly, treacherous, bloodthirtsy and disloyal to their own ideals. In a quotation from Burns, which, taken in conjunction with its context, can hardly be equalled as an instance of bad taste, he pronounces them irreligious. Wiih unlimited wealth of authorities at his disposal, he quotes-Froude and Macaulay, admittedly two of the most bitter, prejudiced and bigotted Hiberniophobes who ever set pen to paper, and a political speech of John Fitzgibbon-a man no more scrupulous than others of an unscrupulous age--engaged in a hard-fought battle against the party he had deserted. He makes no pretence at impartiality, which is, of course, his own affair, but he does make a pretence at relating the facts of our past history, which is-or ought to be-the affair of every right-42 This content downloaded from 188.72.126.17 on Sat, 21 Jun 2014 15:15:54 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions IRISH HISTORY IN ENGLISH MAGAZINES Jeanne d'Albert, the mother of Henri Quatre, invited " three hundred Catholic noblemen " to a banquet, and had them exterminated afterwards like so many rats. Every child knows of the Eve of St. Bartholomew, and the hideous wiping out, with every refinement of treachery and inhumanity, of a whole Scotch sept has not been considered any blemish on the pious memory of William of Orange. It is only when the method is resorted to by the " mere Irishry," when the driven peasant sons of murdered men and outraged women are goaded at last into a frenzied attempt to rid themselves of their persecutors, that posterity holds up its hands in horror. Upon the question of the butchery of the whole population of Island Magee by Monroe's Scotchmen, C.W.C. maintains a discreet silence. From 1641 he next returns to Cromwell. He says: " Cromwell marched upon Drogheda, the stronghold of the Catholic rebels; on their refusal to surrender, the fortress was stormed, and every man found in arms was put to the sword." So much for C.W.C. Here are the facts of the case: Drogheda was held by Sir Arthur Ashton, and its garrison of 3,000 consisted largely, if not exclusively, of Englishmen; they were summoned to surrender-declined, and saw their town carried by assault after a desperate fight. The rest may be left to Cromwell's own words in his despatch to the Parliament: " We refused them quarter. I believe we put to the sword the whole number of defendants. I do not think thirty escaped--those that did are in safe custody for the Barbadoes." Cromwell omits to mention that old men, women and children were also put to the sword without mercy, but the gist of the matter for our present purpose lies in C.W.C.'s interpretation of facts. The Drogheda garrison were not " Catholic rebels"; they were not in any way connected with the Ulster uprising. More than half of them were not even Irish. Nor is C.W.C. content with this general perversion of facts. He definitely states of the Cromwellian confiscation, that "judging by its fruits, no wiser or more beneficial scheme could have been devised." Now the noticeable thing about that whole affair was, that it bore no fruit at all. A few--a very few--of the planted families remained; the major portion "looted and left." C.W.C. dilates upon the "resolution" of the settlers, and almost in the same breath tells us that at the restoration more than
doi:10.2307/30024110 fatcat:maxkwpvijrfwnnjlmslkwt7o5a