« PreviousContinue »
IT must surely have excited surprize in the minds of many readers, that while we have histories of Greece, Rome, and England, adapted to popular use, no attempt has been made to familiarize us with the events of Irish History, by presenting its records in a commodious and economical form. Yet it will not be denied, that the transactions which have happened in Ireland, during the last two centuries, and especially during the present reign, are deserving of as much attention from the philosopher and historian, as any which are to be found in the authentic pages of English History. Ireland is daily becoming an object of greater and greater importance, and he who would appreciate her present character, must know something of her past struggles, of her past misfortunes, and of her past injuries and oppressions.
While, however, I regret the want of a popular Irish History, I am sufficiently aware that many writers and some of distinguished talents, have employed their pens upon the subject; but their labours commonly embrace only certain portions of the History of Ireland. Thus, Leland stops at the Revolution ;Keating includes that period which elapsed from the earliest ages up to the invasion by Henry II. ;-Sir Richard Cox ends with the reign of Charles II. ;--and Dr. Warner only brings his History down a little later. Recently, indeed, there have been two attempts made to present a complete History of Ireland one by Plowden, in 2 vols. 8vo. being an abridgment of his larger work in 3 vols. 4to. and another by the Rev. James Gordon, also in 2 vols. 8vo. Both these works have great merit, but they do not embrace those topics which are included in the present undertaking
Materials, indeed were not wanting, and the only difficulty was to select and arrange them with adequate skill. The work which is now offered to the notice of the public, without aspiring to the dignity of legitimate history, presumes however, to hope for patronage, from the utility and instruction
which it will be found to combine. A brief outline of its plan will best supersede description. It is divided into THREE PARTS.
The FIRST PORTION contains a faithful and connected narration of the Historical Events of Ireland, from the earliest period of authentic record down to the present year. Nothing 'has been omitted that deserves to be remembered; nothing misrepresented; nothing extenuated.
The SECOND PART contains a Geographical and Statistical Account of Ireland. The authorities for the preceding portion have been partly enumerated; those which were consulted in this are, Dr. Beaufort's Memoir of a Map of Ireland, a highly valuable work; Weld's Lakes of Killarney; Young's Tour in Ireland; Hamilton's Letters; and the very copious and important publication of Mr. Wakefield, recently published, on the statistical and political features of the country. These, with some minor sources of information, were diligently examined in preparing the second division of this work.
The THIRD PART is devoted to a familiar, and, it is hoped, interesting view of the Li
INTRODUCTION. terature, Manners, Customs, &c. of the Irish people. Under this head are comprised a general inquiry into the merits of their great literary characters, and specimens of the forensic and senatorial eloquence of their Grattans, their Currans, their Floods, their Burghs, &c. Anecdotes of the great leaders in the political theatre of Ireland, during the last fifty years, are also introduced, and lively as well as faithful pictures of a people, curious, beyond any other, perhaps, in many of their most distinguishing characteristics.
Each of these divisions is, brought down to the present time; and it may be confidently asserted, therefore, that the whole presents such a comprehensive view of Ireland, as has never been attempted with regard to that or perhaps any other country.