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the relaxation of the penal laws, by the public funds, and only were abandoned in 1825. The treatment of the unfortunate children within these, and the foundling hospitals in Cork and Dublin, was marked by a refinement of anti-Catholic brutality which cannot be paralleled, we believe, elsewhere in the history of mankind. Howard, the philanthropist, in 1788, declared that their state“was so deplorable as to disgrace Protestantism and to encourage Popery in Ireland." The children were employed in the fields for eight hours a day, at the earliest possible age, and the bulk of them were sickly, naked, and half-starved. Their masters, however, were careful to provide them with meat or broth, at least once a week, and Friday was the day chosen the better to wean them from Popish practices. The unfortunate children thus violently separated from family, friends, and every friendly association, often retained their adherence to the rules of the Church, and broth was forcibly poured down their throats as a means of reclaiming them from Popery. Among all the brutalities of the Penal Code we must confess that the treatment of these hapless infants appeals most forcibly to our sympathies, and excites the profoundest scorn for the ruffian agents of the persecuting State.
To properly appreciate the force of the law thus directed against the family relations, it must be remembered that the penal laws had succeeded in reducing the great bulk of the Irish Catholics to the lowest poverty. Famines were of periodical occurrence, and no provision whatever was made for the support of the Catholic poor at any time. The trade guilds and asylums were for Protestants exclusively, and for the same class alone were occasional relief measures voted by Parliament. For the Catholic poor there was no succor except the charity of those scarcely better off than themselves; and so, at every season of dearth, the ghastly scenes of the last great famine in 1848 were of common occurrence. Boulter himself, in 1727, declares that “thousands of families had quitted their habitations the year before to seek for bread, and many hundreds perished;" and Swift, in the same year, and in 1729, tells a similar story. The taxable families, in the County of Kerry alone, diminished from fourteen to nine thousand between 1733 and 1744. The famine of 1741 was equally severe with that of 1848, and a pamphlet of that time speaks of the dead as lying in numbers along the roads, and the living as feeding on docks and nettles. Whole villages were depeopled in the rich Golden Vale of Limerick by mere want, and a Protestant minister in Monaghan, Skelton, declared that whole thousands had perished in a single barony, and the dead had been eaten in the fields by dogs for want of people to bury them. It was in the midst of scenes such as these that the Charter Schools were founded to offer bread to the
starving Catholics in exchange for their children's souls. But even then, the appeal was made in vain; and at no time, even with the powers of the law for seizing children by force, did the inmates of these institutions rise to a total of two thousand among a Catholic population of millions.
That a system such as the Charter Schools should be described as a work of mercy, may seem incredible, but such was actually the title given to it by its founders, and the Parliament which so long maintained it. In their words, at least, it was simply a benevolent attempt to relieve the miseries of the poor, and the breaking up of family ties and the abuse of the hapless children themselves were only small details, in no way detracting from its general character. Even in our own days, the system has found a eulogist in the well-known English writer Froude, and one is puzzled to know whether the constant system of misrepresentation of all things Catholic which for two centuries has been almost a creed in English literature, really produces an inability to distinguish between truth and falsehood; or, whether the writer in question regards history as an unscrupulous lawyer does a case entrusted to his pleading. The trick of giving false names to acts of oppression is an old one in the annals of Irish misgovernment. The politicians who devised and carried out the Irish Penal Code, steadily styled themselves the maintainers of civil and religious liberty. The usurper who, in breach of his solemn faith, sanctioned its commencement, was universally styled the "pious, glorious, and immortal deliverer” of the Irish people, in the language of the dominant faction, and the bulk of the people were styled, in viceregal speeches and acts of Parliament, as the common enemy of the nation. Even the execution of the anti-Catholic laws was often given the name of repression of vulgar crime. During an outbreak of agrarian violence in Connaught, in 1713, eight priests were flung into Roscommon jail, not as Catholic priests, but as accomplices of the disturbers, though no evidence whatever was offered of their connection with their acts. Like the “suspects,” of recent years, they were "hostages, not criminals," but the magistrates preferred to give them the latter name, as it made the bitterness of the law more bitter by its infamy. The pilgrimages of the country people to the ancient shrines, which no violence of persecution could prevent, were frequently described as “riotous assemblies," and broken up by armed force during the recital of their devotions. But perhaps the most grotesque instance of the systematic blackening of the characters of the victims of religious persecution is that given by a Tipperary Grand Jury in 1750. A Father Hely had attended the bedside of a dying Protestant to receive him into the Church. The act alone was a capital offence
under the Penal Code, and the priest naturally did not appear for trial, whereupon he was outlawed. The act charged was the attempted conversion of a Protestant, but with the scrupulous regard for truth characteristic of the warfare against Catholicity, he was “proclaimed in the usual form, as a Tory, robber, and rapparee, of the Popish religion, in arms and on his keeping."
Such was the nature of the war waged during almost a full century by the whole power of England against the existence of the Catholic Church in Ireland. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, an impoverished population of less than a million (eight hundred thousand was the estimate of Archbishop King in 1703) was pitted against the full power of the fast-growing British Empire, and, twenty-nine years after its close, the Empire had to confess its utter failure by the Emancipation Act. Indeed, by the laws of human affairs, it was inevitable that the Irish people, reduced to abject want, deprived of leaders, of political organization, of the means of education, and of all open communion with the Head of the Church, should cease to be Catholic in a couple of generations. Such was the view of a man like Swift, at the beginning of the penal laws, and such is the view of all who forget that the hand of God is mightier than the policy of man. In 1732, a rough census estimated the numbers of the Irish Catholics at one million three hundred thousand, and the Protestants at seven hundred thousand, but a century later the numbers were found to be six and a half millions to one and a half millions. Through the long agony of the penal laws less than five thousand Catholics were found to deny their faith, as the Convert-Roll in the Irish Record office attests. All through the same time, the reports of the Bishops of the Established Church bewail the falling away to “ Popery” of their own adherents. “Instead of converting those that are adults," wrote Primate Boulter, in the full rigor of the perfected penal code, "we are daily losing several of our meaner people who go off to Popery;” and, in Galway, in 1747, Colonel Eyre complained that “of late years several old Protestants, and the children of such, had been perverted to the Popish religion by the indefatigable assiduity, diligence, and the uncontrolled access Popish ecclesiastics had to the town.” When the Royal College of Maynooth was founded for Catholic education in 1795, the last descendant of the Protestant Archbishop Ussher was one of its professors.
The freebooters of Elizabeth, the Calvinist colonists of James, the fanatic soldiers of Cromwell, and the greedy adventurers of William, had each, in turn, come to root out the Catholic Faith in Ireland, and, in the workings of Providence, the progeny of each has gone to swell the ranks of its adherents.
It is now over three hundred years ago since the Government of England first decreed that the Catholic Church should have no existence in Ireland, and, during by much the greater part of that time all its power was bent to the object of its extirpation. Two generations after Elizabeth had passed to her account, the whole power of Puritan fanaticism was turned anew to the same end. The restored monarchy of the Stuarts continued the task and sent the head of the Irish Church to die as a felon at Tyburn. The Dutch usurper and his successors during an entire century labored at the same task by all the means which the perverse ingenuity of man could devise, backed by an unlimited power over the lives, property, and good name of all who dared oppose its will; yet their work has passed away already. A few thousands are now found to profess themselves of the Independent sect which ruled supreme under Cromwell. The Church of Elizabeth, of James, and of the Georges, has, in our own days, been swept away as a useless plant that cumbered the earth in vain, while the Faith preached to the wild Celtic clans by the exile Patrick, fourteen hundred years ago, while a Cæsar yet held sway in Rome, is still to-day the living faith of the Irish race. We cannot conclude better, perhaps, than in the lines of the Catholic poet:
“ The Celtic Cross raise over me,
Let the ivy 'round it twine;
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE VISITATION NUNS IN
HE growth of religious orders, in newly-settled countries, is
naturally attended by hardship and adventure ; and the experiences of the Order of the Visitation in this country are far from being an exception to the rule. Some of these experiences are more or less tragical, some are amusing, and nearly all are interesting, not only in themselves, but on account of the fortitude, patience, and tact with which they have been met by the Sisterhood. Yet the interest they excite, arising from the combination of small incidents rather than the isolation of great ones, does not in the main absorb or thrill; it may be likened, on the contrary, to the quiet charm of those tapestry figures which satisfy the eye without fixing the attention. If they do not lose even this mild interest in our hands, we shall be fortunate ; for we propose to exemplify these experiences by sketching the rise of a single house of the Order, upon which, happily, its early adversities, like winds sweeping over some majestic palm, have had no other effect, on the whole, than to strengthen its foundations, and perfect its symmetry. But, first, a word of religious orders in general, and of the Order of the Visitation in particular.
A religious life may be broadly defined as living in obedience to God; and, subject to the supreme direction of the Church, the object of every religious order, active, contemplative, or mixed, is, priinarily, to secure this obedience in its members, and, secondarily, to promote the welfare, spiritual and temporal, of others, although, in the contemplative orders the recognition of the latter aspect is relatively vague and faint. This secondary feature of the common object is realized in various modes--teaching, preaching, relieving the poor, nursing the sick, consoling the afflicted, raising the fallen, upholding the light of example-all of which have come down unchanged from the earlier orders; but, with respect to the primary feature, the later orders pursue a method different from that of the earlier, which consisted chiefly in the mortification of the body by long vigils, extreme fasts, and exposure to other physical sufferings more direct and acute. This method, not inadequate to the rude times in which it prevailed or the gross yet simple temptations at which it was pointed, gradually lost its adequacy with the growing refinement of men and the increasing complexity of their besetting temptations. Sooner or later, therefore, it was destined to undergo a change; and the change came with the Society of Jesus, which, under the inspiration of its sagacious founder, insti