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THE IRISH OF LONDON.
Their numbers - Their country and their race - St. Patrick- Subsequent wars - Conquest of Ireland by Henry II., and its subsequent oppression by the English - The Reformation in Ireland - The Protestant colony of Ulster established - The battle of the Boyne, and its consequences - The Union - Remarkable increase of population in Ireland during the close of the eighteenth and the commencement of the nineteenth centuries - The pleasing peculiarities of the Irish character - Their hospitality - Their strong natural affection - The native Irish poor more virtuous than the English poor - Even the good qualities of the Irish cause them especially to need faithful and judicious counsel by visitation - The excellences of the Irish character are beheld in London in their rudest form - How Popery has marred and debased the Irish character - The Irish have been made thereby idle - They have no proper feeling of independence - Their disloyalty - Their spirit of persecution and hatred to Protestants - They require one hundred missionaries or Scripture-readers, in order that the Gospel may be brought to their abodes - The remarkable success of recent efforts for the conversion of the Irish to the Protestant faith in their own country - The same agency, for the effecting of the same results, is what is especially required for the Irish of London - Cardinal Wiseman's recently published pamphlet denouncing this agency in London - Soundness of Protestant feeling among the English working-classes - Indications of a Reformation among the Irish in London, which shall resemble in its extent and reality that which has recently been effected in Ireland - The persecution which the recent London converts have had to endure - General [-245-] expectations of Irish Romanists that Ireland will soon become a Protestant and England a Popish country - The causes of the extensive emigration of Irish to London in recent years - The better class of poor emigrate from Ireland to America, and the worse classes to London - The divisions of the Irish of London into "Cockneys" and "Grecians" - And into Connaught and Munster men - Immigration of immoral Irish women - The numbers of the Irish of London who can read English and Irish respectively estimated - Irish Protestants possess more Scriptural knowledge than English Protestants - Extreme ignorance on scriptural subjects of Irish Romanists, illustrated by examples - The Irish on arriving in London rapidly lose their previous religious habits - London considered by them as an Infidel city, in which, without loss of character, they may live in the neglect of all religious observances - The prevalence of drunkenness among the Irish and English compared - The rookeries, the parts of London in which the Irish chiefly dwell - The occupations of the Irish of London - Especial suitableness of Irish Scripture-readers or missionaries for Irish districts, and the more especial facilities with which they may be obtained - Future hopes.
From a careful inquiry made in 1851, by the missionaries of the London City Mission, it was ascertained that about one family in every seven of the families under their visitation was Irish and Roman Catholic. And it appears fair to assume that the proportion in the remaining visitable parts of the metropolis is much the same. Among the operative classes in London, therefore, nearly 200,000 belong to this class. It is the largest class which exists among our teeming population. No other class at all approaches to it. Two towns only in all England number more people, with all classes combined, than the Irish poor alone of London. The number is one-fifth of what the whole of Ireland itself contained but two centuries since, and one-tenth of the entire population at only the commencement of the last century. The metropolis of England probably numbers more Irishmen [-246-] among its inhabitants than the metropolis of Ireland itself. The Irish population of London equals the entire population of the three next largest towns of Ireland, viz., Corky Belfast, and Limerick. Ireland would require to give up entire a dozen other of her largest towns to make up the numbers of the poor Irish in London. So vast a class, all immigrants who have traversed the ocean to reach us, renders a brief allusion to their own country, and its history and condition, important at the onset.
Their Country and their Race.
The mere fact that, according to an estimate made in 1831, 5,340,736 out of
14,603,473 statute acres are waste and unprofitable, illustrates how little of
industry and enterprise there has been in that unhappy country. And the decrease
of its population in only ten years, from 1841 to 1851, by 1,659,350,-a number
in itself greater than the entire population of the island in 1731,-illustrates
how fearful must have been its recent sufferings.
Yet Ireland possesses as a country great natural advantages. Its climate is, generally, conducive to health, being free from those extremes to which large tracts of land are subjected. Great facilities are afforded to commerce, scarcely any part of the large island being more than 50 miles distant from the sea, and the moisture which this circumstance occasions is favourable to tillage, while it creates, with mountain scenery and extensive lakes, natural beauties which, in themselves, are calculated to attract the tourist from our own shores, to spend a portion of his time and his savings on Erin's shores.
The Irish race also possess many decidedly interesting and valuable characteristics. Their origin is Celtic, and they are descendants of the brave and renowned Gauls. Ireland was not peopled from Britain, although the two are [-247-] in such proximity to each other, neither has its history at all resembled our own. Not a single Roman is supposed to have set foot on Irish ground for nearly 400 years after the Romans had military possession of Britain.
Christianity was introduced into Ireland at a somewhat earlier period than with ourselves. This was the work of St. Patrick, in the year 432. Before that time, although some few of the Irish had embraced the new religion, the great mass of them were heathens. There is so much of legend which has been since mixed up with the life of this saint, that it is now difficult, or, rather, impossible, to ascertain the facts of his history and mission. It would appear, however, that civilization and art had for so early an age made previously some progress in Ireland, and that there was a general, warm, and almost enthusiastic reception of the efforts of the apostle. The form of Church government which he introduced was Episcopal. Art and civilization still further advanced after Christianity was received, and the two or three succeeding centuries were probably the most prosperous epoch in the history of the country.
The government of the island was monarchical, but the mutual disputes and warfares of the petty princes, and the frequent depredations of Danes and northern pirates, render the annals of Ireland for 3 or 4 centuries succeeding this a melancholy series of feuds and disasters.
Conquest of Ireland by Henry IL, and its subsequent Oppression by the English.
At length the King of Leinster, being expelled from his rule,
fled into England, to our Henry II., for succour. Pope [-248-]
Adrian IV. had shortly before (in 1157) made a grant of
Ireland to Henry, on the condition that he compelled every Irish family to pay a
carolus to the Holy See, and that he held it as a fief of the Church. The Pope
therefore gave his ready consent to the restoration of the exiled ruler. An
armament was fitted out, and the English, in 1174, conquered the entire island.
Henry afterwards visited Ireland, received the submission of the King of that
country, as well as of the petty princes, and from that time our Sovereigns have
taken the title of "King of Ireland."* (* For some period, however, they were called only
"Lords of Ireland.") The country was at this
period portioned out among the English conquerors, and English laws and customs
were soon after introduced. By the time of Edward IV., a law of this description
had been passed :-" That it be lawful to all manner of men who find any
thieves robbing by day or night, or going or coming to rob or steal, or any
persons going or coming, having no faithful men of good name and fame in their
company in English apparel, that it shall be lawful to take and kill those, and
to cut off their heads, without any impeachment of our Sovereign Lord the King.
And of any head so cut off in the county of Meath, that the cutter and his
ayders there to him, cause the said head so cut off to be brought to the
portreffe to put it upon a stake, or spear, upon the castle of Trim; and that
the said portreffe shall testify the bringing of the same to him. And that it
shall be lawful for the said bringer of the said head to distrain and levy by
his own hand (as his reward) of every man having half a ploughland, one penny;
and of every man having one house and goods, value 40 shillings, one penny; and
of every other cottier having house and smoak, one halfpenny." "Here was a
fruitful source of murder! All the evidence required of the cutter of the head
was, that it was [-249-] the head of a Milesian, or Irishman; that the man was not in
company with any of the English settlers; and that, in his opinion, he
was 'going to, or coming from, some bad errand.'" * (* Taaffe's "History of Ireland.")
In the same year, in 1478, an Act was passed, called "The Apparel and Surname Act," compelling the Irish to dress like the English and to adopt their surnames.
"For some centuries after the settlement of the English, efforts to improve the people by religion and literary education were conducted on a principle as unjust as impolitic. All attempts at bettering their condition were limited to the English settlers or the inhabitants of the pale, those of the rest of the island being treated as enemies. To such a height was the distinction carried, that whilst the murder of an Englishman was death, that of a native was suffered to go unpunished, provided that it could be proved he was mere Irish, and not one of the 5 bloods of the O'Neills, O'Melaghlins, O'Connors, O'Briens, and McMarroughs, who were admitted, by special favour, to the privileges of English subjects. It was not till the reign of James I. that the whole of the island was allowed to participate in the protection afforded by English law."* (*Cyclop. Britannica, article, Ireland, contributed by the Rev. Edward Groves, Record Office, Dublin.)
Till the time of our Henry VIII., there were constant efforts on the part of the Irish to shake off our authority, to which they were very averse, as we sought to force our habits upon them, which were much in opposition to those to which they were tenaciously attached, and the efforts were as constant on our part to oppress and subjugate them.
The Reformation in Ireland.
The Irish had succeeded in freeing themselves to a con-[-250-]siderable extent when the Reformation in England took place.
Until our conquest of Ireland, in the reign of Henry II., Ireland, like England,
had retained much independence of Rome, and appointed her own bishops. This
privilege was, however, afterwards ceded by succeeding English Kings, who did
not care to sacrifice for Ireland what they were jealous of for England, and
which established the connexion of Ireland more closely than that of England
with Rome, even although St. Patrick had not himself upheld the superadded
doctrines and practices of Rome which the Reformation again removed. The Pope
soon began to tax Ireland heavily, which created great distress; and the bishops
appointed by him were equally rapacious and intolerant, in imitation of their
spiritual head. The consequence was, that, at the time of the Reformation,
"whatever pretensions may have been justly advanced by Ireland, in previous
ages, to the title of 'the island of saints,' an examination of its subsequent
condition shows that its profession of Christianity had become such as to
preclude its continued claim to that appellation, and that it was weighed down
by a burden of corruption and error."
"It was by the abrogation of the Papal supremacy and the assertion of the Sovereign's right to the undivided dominion over all his subjects, as well ecclesiastical as civil, that the first advance was made towards the reformation of religion, - the providence of God converting the counsels of the Monarch, for the maintenance of his own royal prerogative, into the means of purifying and renovating his Church. King Henry having succeeded in causing his supremacy in the Church of England to be 'recognised by the clergy and authorized by Parliament,' * (* English Statute, 26 Henry VIII., c. 1.) was desirous of establishing the like supremacy in the Church of Ireland, forasmuch as Ireland was depending and belonging justly to the Imperial [-251-] Crown of England.'"* (* Irish Statute, 26 Henry VIII., c. 5. * Bp. Mant's "History of the Church of Ireland, vol. i., pp. 105-7.) The Archibishopric of Dublin being then vacant, the King appointed to it Dr. George Browne, a confirmed Protestant. The numerous difficulties with which this exercise of authority was accompanied are thus enumerated by Mant:-
"The general condition of the country; the disunion, dissensions, and mutual jealousies which prevailed among different classes of its inhabitants, especially between those of different national origin or parentage; the hereditary antipathy in the descendants of the earlier inhabitants against the Sovereign, as not of indigenous extraction, nor a native of the soil; their prevalent disposition to indulge in resistance to his authority, and to seek assistance from foreign powers to support them in their resistance; the remoteness of their situation, which rendered them less accessible to the visitations of the King's power, and less fearful of his indignation; their continual intestine agitations, which had indisposed the mind, and afforded little convenient occasion for speculative inquiries and for intellectual or spiritual improvement; the absence of any pervious extraordinary impulse for directing the mind to seek for knowledge, and the want of literary institutions for giving efficacy to the impulse, if it had existed; the people's habitual subjection to their clergy, and the ignorance of the clergy themselves, and their blind and superstitious devotion to their ecclesiastical superiors; the long and deep-rooted prepossession in favour of one who had pretended to supreme authority in the Church for 3 or 4 centuries, and whose character they had been accustomed to venerate as all but divine; and, with all this, a persuasion of the fact, that the earliest English King who had claimed dominion in Ireland derived his claim, in the [-252-] first place, from a Papal grant, so that the royal authority, however it may have been afterwards upheld, had been originally, as they were taught to believe, founded on a power which it now sought to displace and supersede: these and the like impediments in the state and prepossession of the inhabitants co-operated with the zeal of the Primate in obstructing the inroad which the dominion of the Sovereign was attempting to make on that of the Pope." * (* Vol. i, pp. 108, 109.)
An Act of Parliament was passed at this time, directing that spiritual promotions were to be given "only to such as could speak English, unless, after 4 proclamations in the next market-town, such could not be had." All who were appointed had also to take oath that they would teach the English language and preach only in that tongue, which rendered the proceedings still more unpopular.
The Protestant Colony of Ulster Established.
"In this and the succeeding reigns of Elizabeth and
James I., the English Government having now the double motive of effecting a
religious as well as a civil reformation in Ireland, applied themselves with
great energy to the recovery of their authority; and, after a tedious series of
rebellions and confiscations, succeeded, at length, in the beginning of the 17th
century, in making the entire island shire-ground, and planting a numerous
Protestant proprietary in Ulster. . . 511,465 acres of land in that
province became vested in the Crown, and James I., after removing the Irish from
their hills and fortresses, divided the land among such of his English and
Scottish Protestant subjects as chose to settle there. This northern part of
Ireland has ever since remained Protestant, but, being most distant from [-253-]
England, there is very little immigration here from thence.
The great body of the native Irish in the other provinces still continued,
however, attached to the Roman Catholic faith.
"In 1641, a rebellion, having for its object the overthrow of the new establishment in Ulster, comprising 40,000 settlers, and the restoration of the old proprietors to their estates, broke out among the native Irish, and was afterwards joined by the chief Roman Catholic nobility and gentry. The result of the civil wars which ensued was, the suppression of the Irish and Roman Catholic party, and a general confiscation of their lands." * (* Cyclop. of Society for Diffusing Useful Knowledge. Article, Ireland.)
The Battle of the Boyne, and its Consequences.
The old party again rose to considerable power on the accession of James II.; and when that Sovereign retired to Ireland, after the revolution of 1688, they supported his cause through an arduous war of 3 years, until after the battle of the Boyne they capitulated. Many left the country, but those who remained were treated with extreme severity. "On the part of England, it was supposed, that as Ireland had been subdued by force of arms, the inhabitants ought in every respect to be subject to the victorious state, and that the interest of the English ought on all occasions to be consulted, without regarding the inconveniences which might ensue to the Irish. A very different idea was entertained by the Irish, or, at least, by the patriotic party among them. They rejected all notions of dependance upon the British Ministry and Parliament; and though they acknowledged the King's right of conquest, they most positively [-254-] denied that the British Parliament had any authority whatever over them. * (* "Encycl. Perthensis. Article, Ireland.)
This state of things existed for another century, when the
American and French revolutions created a democratic spirit among the Irish
Protestants, in which they were soon joined by the Roman Catholic peasantry. On
the suppression of this rebellion, the Act of Union was passed, in A. D. 1800,
by which England and Ireland became an United Kingdom.
For a long series of years Ireland had been regarded by England almost in the light of "an enemy." In the words of the late Thomas Moore, "The successive enactments against the 'mere Irish' exhibit almost every form of insult and injury that the combined bitterness of hatred and contempt, could, in their most venomous conjunction, be expected to engender. " * (Thos. Moore's "History of Ireland, vol. ii., p. 288.)
Great efforts have been made since to benefit Ireland and to retrieve old wrongs, and although beggary and rags meet the visitor there at every turn, at least, in the more Romish parts, the sums of money which have been expended on this "sweetest isle of the ocean"* (*Campbell) by the united Parliament, with the design of improving its social and moral condition, have been immense. Its harbours, the navigation of its rivers, its canals, its railways, its roads, its prisons, its penitentiaries, its asylums, its colleges, its public buildings, its constabulary force, the draining of its land, have cost the nation at large many millions of pounds, while the country has been favoured beyond the other parts of the United Kingdom in exemption from the assessed and income taxes. Large sums have also [-255-] been spent in national education. The expenditure of the Parliament for this purpose in 1850 was 164,577l. These acts of favour to Ireland have had their influence; but the difference in creed, reviving old animosities, has frustrated, to a great extent, the success of the efforts,-an impediment which was not expected to have continued the dissension at the time of the Union. Nor, indeed, would this have been the case, in all human probability, if unprincipled men, well acquainted with the national character, had not exercised their power to mislead and estrange the people who, when separated from such dominion, have always proved themselves to be a loyal, a contented, and a thriving nation.
Remarkable Increase of Population in Ireland during the close of the 18th and the commencement of the 19th Centuries.
The degree of prosperity to which Ireland attained during the
last half of the 18th century is, however, worthy of notice. England, Wales, and
Scotland, did none of them make such rapid strides in population as did Ireland,
with all her oppression. From the returns of the hearth-money collectors,
Ireland, in 1754, contained but 2,372,634 persons. In 1788, Mr. Bushe's estimate
of the population was 4,040,000; and in 1'79l, the hearth-money collectors
returned it at 4,206,612. In the year of the Union it was estimated at about
Since then, till recently, the numbers continued to increase with great rapidity. The first regular census of the population was taken in 1821, when it amounted to 6,801,827. In 1831 this was increased to 7,767,401. And in 1841 it had reached 8,175,124. Scotland is a mere trifle smaller,* (* The relative number of square miles in Scotland and Ireland is 29,600 and 32,000.) but had only 2,620,184 people. In Scotland there were only [-256-] 89 people to the square mile, but in Ireland there were 252.
So very rapid an increase in population illustrates the capabilities of the country and the people. But the failure of the potato crop and emigration have of late years fearfully thinned them, and brought over an immense number of Irish to our shores, and especially to London, Liverpool, and Bristol.
The pleasing Peculiarities in the Irish Character.
The Irish possess distinctive peculiarities of character, in
some respects of an agreeable and interesting nature. These are described very
correctly in an important lecture delivered on December 6, 1852, on "The
Irish in London," at the Music Hall, Store-street, by the Rev. Samuel Garratt,
the Minister of Trinity Church, Little Queen-street. "Having (he writes)
been engaged for 2 years in labouring in a part of St. Giles's, crowded with
Irish, those who have invited me to speak on this subject suppose that I ought
to know something about it. . . . In fact, in what I have to say, I am obliged
from the circumstances of the case to depend mainly on what I have seen myself,
or heard from others engaged in the work, and especially those zealous
cooperators in every Christian enterprise in this metropolis - the City
missionaries. I cannot refer you for my authority to books, but if you wish for
confirmation, the Irish in London are our neighbours, and I can at least say
this - Go and see !" Mr. Garratt then remarks- "A very little
acquaintance with them is sufficient to discover, in spite of all their social
degradation, a peculiarity of character which would blend most usefully with
that of their Saxon neighbours. The English labourer, with all his manliness and
honesty, is often wanting in intellectual acuteness and in imaginative glow. In
both these characteristics the Irish [-257-] excel. There is an ingenuity of thought which contrasts
strangely with the clumsiness of hand, and a perception of what is beautiful
which is incongruously associated with the most total want of all comfort.
"I do think that a few rays of Irish imagination, a little more play of fancy, more exuberance of joyousness, and more brightness of hope, would greatly add to the happiness of our own poor. They live too much in the present, while the Irishman lives too exclusively in the future. I would bring down the one to the present routine of daily duties, and raise up the other to brighter anticipations. I would put more good sense into the Irishman, and more poetry into the Englishman. And in this way I cannot but hope, that even intellectually, morally, and socially, they may do each other good; and that the English character, retaining its own solidity, may acquire the gracefulness of the Irish, and while equally useful, become more pleasing, demand as much of our approbation, and more engage our love."
The remark of Dickens, "An Irishman must be gone to the bad entirely when he cannot smile, affords an illustration of Irish character which cannot but be admitted to be interesting and pleasing. Their constant buoyancy renders Irishmen often very acceptable as missionaries and Scripture-readers. They are seldom heavy or prosy in imparting instruction, and their address and natural humour will often gain a hearing to their message, even where prejudice against it exists.
Their hospitality and kindly feeling towards their countrymen
and kindred are further excellences in which the Irish stand pre-eminent. The
sketch, given by the same excellent clergyman, of the arrival of an Irishman in
London, is quite characteristic:-
[-258-] "Imagine an Irishman just arrived from the green mountains of Kerry, in Drury-lane. Perhaps he has come alone, leaving his wife and children to follow, when he has laid up enough to bring them. And in this case they have to wait long, for it is seldom that the Irishman earns more than enough to keep himself alive. But he does not lose his affection for them. He says, and says truly, that the days are weeks, and the weeks are months,' till he sees them again. Or perhaps he brings them over with him, and the man, and his wife, and half a dozen shoeless and stockingless children, are looking about a dark court to find a night's lodging. They are sure to meet some one with whom they have some sort of acquaintance or connexion. Or if not, the Irishman, HOWEVER POOR, never wants hospitality. They show it in what seems to us a strange way. The family is all welcomed to the fourth corner of a third floor back, in all the other three corners of which some family is domiciled. The landlord of this room has let two of the other corners, keeping the third and fourth for himself; and then, when these poor 'creatures' are shivering in the cold outside, it is not in his heart not to let them occupy the fourth corner, for one night, rent free. He knows that under the New Police Act he is liable to be fined for overcrowding his room, but he runs that risk, and thinks himself doing right.
Their strong Natural Affection.
The exercise of this feeling towards relatives is also
accompanied with provident habits, in which the Irish are sometimes considered to be
deficient. Probably generous habits would be a more correct term. But the
following extract from the "Twelfth General Report of the Colonial Land and
Emigration Commissioners, presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of
Her Majesty," and published last autumn, illustrates the very great extent of
Irish [-259-] savings,
out of very small incomes, where natural affection has strongly operated. Having
stated that the total emigration from Ireland, in the 10 years from 1841 to
1851, was estimated at 1,289,133, and during the year 1851 alone, 257,372, the
"The misery which the Irish have for many years endured has destroyed the attachment to their native soil, the numbers who have already emigrated and prospered remove the apprehension of going to a strange and untried country, while the want of means is remedied by the liberal contributions of their relations and friends who have preceded them. The contributions so made, either in the form of prepaid passages, or of money sent home, AND WHICH ARE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY PROVIDED BY THE IRISH, were returned to us, as in
1848, upwards of £460,000
1849, upwards of £540,000
1850, upwards of £957,000
1851, upwards of £990,000
"And although it is probable that all the money included in these returns is not expended in emigration, yet, as we have reason to know that much is sent home of which these returns show no trace, it seems not unfair to assume that, of the money expended in Irish emigration in each of the last 4 years, a very large proportion was provided from the other side of the Atlantic.
"The SYSTEM of sending out one or two members of a family to work out the passages of the rest, is stated to be now SO GENERAL in Ireland, that A VERY GREAT INCREASE in the amount of the contributions can scarcely fail to take place. . . . So far we feel confident, that so long as the necessity for such contributions continues, they will not fail to be forthcoming."
The Native Irish Poor more virtuous than the English Poor.
Nor, indeed, ought that unfavourable judgment to be passed on
the Irish, on account of the crowded state of their rooms, which, at the first
blush of the matter, we might be disposed to do. Mr. Garratt remarks very truly
with reference to it:-
"You must not suppose that this wretched way of living is felt by them to be uncomfortable. They have no taste for anything different. The misery of an Irish hovel is proverbial, and though I think that some of them do miss the hills and the valleys outside, yet the accommodation inside is not worse than they have been accustomed to. Their habits are set immeasurably lower, as far as the comforts and decencies of life are concerned, than those of our English poor. And it is one great problem which is ever occurring to the mind of the thoughtful observer, how they can be raised."
It is also especially to be noticed, to the honour of the Irish, that, in spite of this crowded and promiscuous living and sleeping, as a nation they are, as to all offences against purity, more virtuous and moral than our own poor, and it is only as they become corrupted by a long residence in London, that offences against the seventh commandment become common among them. In their own country they are an example to us. Violations of the marriage tie are there almost unknown, an illegitimate child can scarcely be found, and young women who have committed themselves are scouted society in a manner which has no parallel in England among the same classes of the population.
Even the Good Qualities of the Irish cause them especially to need Faithful and Judicious Counsel and Visitation.
But there is a dark as well as a light side to the picture.
[-261-] Even the natural good qualities of the Irish require
discipline and the frequent word of the faithful and judicious friend to prevent
their leading them astray. They have, for example, great fluency in speaking,
and express themselves with far more ease and gracefulness than the English.
They are never at a loss for words, and they speak with a glow and warmth which
reaches the heart. Now even the most phlegmatic Englishman is sensible of the
truth of the sayings of St. James, that the tongue, although so little a member,
is always ready to "boast great things," is more difficult to control than
the mighty ships "driven of fierce winds," or to tame than the most unruly
"beast, or bird, or serpent," and, like a small spark, kindles a great fire.
Is it to be wondered at, then, that, in reference to the natives of the sister
isle, the expression has become a proverbial one among ourselves - Irish brawls?
So, also, the Irish excel the English in their imaginative faculties. But what valuable talent can more need to be directed aright, and what class of persons more require a Christian visitor of judgment and experience, than those who have been possessed by God with such a gift?
Their Claim as Immigrants into, to them, a Strange Land.
Then again, a large number of the Irish in London are as strangers in, to them, a strange land. Dire necessity has driven most of them here, and others of them have come possibly to escape from oppression and priestcraft. And God represents that he himself is the patron of such, and that we are to be imitators of Him towards them. "The Lord loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger." "If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself. . . . I [-262-] am the Lord your God." * (* Dent. x. 18, 19; Levit. xix. 33, 34.) If under so exclusive and restrictive a dispensation as the Jewish, these were to be the laws for their governance, how much more binding are they on ourselves, guided as we are by the far more liberal spirit of the new economy! Is it not also a matter of honour to us that we should be a refuge to the distressed and the oppressed? And in our idea of "refuge," what Christian heart must not include a refuge for the soul no less than for the body? Nor ought we to forget to ask whether we have not ourselves, as a nation, been guilty parties in occasioning very much of the misery which the Irish have endured. They are, moreover, although strangers, yet our own fellow- subjects, having resorted to us from a kingdom which we have agreed to consider as "united" to ourselves, and entitled to all our immunities, privileges, and advantages.
The Excellences of the Irish Character are beheld in London in their rudest form.
The extreme ignorance in which the poor Irish have been left
in their own country gives us illustrations of a fine natural character, only in
its rudest, wildest, most uncivilized and undisciplined form. They are about as
ignorant of the Gospel as if they had come from some heathen land, for the
priests in Ireland teach less even than the priests in England.
"For the most part, the native Irish of London know nothing. They cannot express one dogma of their faith distinctly, and are not at all acquainted with those distinctions in which the Roman Catholic poor in this country are trained. You must speak to them as if they were children. And they are more easily reached by the heart than the head. . . Very few of them have seen, and fewer still possess, the Bible. They will often bring out some book of' devotions [-263-] as the Word of God, and seem quite unconscious of the difference. They take their religion from the priest, and obedience to the priest is the chief part of their religion. So long as they remain Romanists, they are incapable of being affected with arguments, and when they become Protestants it is difficult to keep them from transferring to the minister the same blind faith which they have reposed in the priest."* (* Garratt's "Irish in London," pp. 190, 197.)
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 Switzerland, 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 distinctively 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 [-264-] 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 Ireland, 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 Ireland 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 Maynooth College, in which the Irish priests should be educated rather than be allured to France or other continental 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. In deed, in the French school of theology, at St. Omer, 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 Ireland, an intercourse of which the advantages would evidently have been reciprocal. But in the cheap manufacture of priests at Maynooth, instead - like our young Protestant clergy at Oxford and Cambridge - of enjoying the advantages of association with. gentlemen and noblemen of all professions, their education [-265-] 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 shopkeepers 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."* (* Sir Francis Head's "Fortnight in Ireland, pp. 394-5.)
`The recent addition to the Maynooth grant has increased the number of priests in Ireland, 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. Wellington 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-Christian system, which blights where it falls, and through the soul itself crushes and tramples on the man. . . . Rome'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 hopeless despair. . . . Hence the crouching spirit, and the untruthful spirit. . . . This influence of the Romish system [-266-] lasts when the faith of Rome has been relinquished. It forms the great difficulty in the way of missionary effort.
The Irish have been made thereby Idle.
"The Irishman has not been long in London before he
finds reason to wish himself back again Nothing is to be done here without
strenuous exertion. And though an Irishman sometimes works hard when he is at
work, he never likes hard work. he is too fond of talking, and smoking,
and drinking, and shrinks from exertion.* (* While I give this extract from Mr. Garratt as true
with reference to the Irish as existing generally in London, I consider it but
just to remark that under proper control the Irish have proved themselves
industrious.) Besides which, it is very difficult
for him to get work. Most likely he knows no trade, and if he does, an English
artizan will hardly work with him. Our poor Irish neighbours feel most keenly
the dislike in which they are held. It does exist to a great extent, and they
exaggerate it . . .
" The Irish Roman Catholics neither love labour nor love cleanliness, and Irish converts would take hard work and its accompanying social advantages as a duty rather than a boon. We can only expect habits so deeply rooted to be gradually overcome, and strive to impress on them, what, with all her professions, Rome will never teach her children, that 'those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.'"
They have no Proper Feeling of Independence.
"The native Irishman does not share the Saxon's love of
independence. He must lean on some other arm. Like the ivy he needs support, and
cannot stand alone. . . . It seems a relief to him to transfer, as he supposes,
the whole responsibility of his soul's salvation to his spiritual guide. 'As soon
[-267-] as I have committed a sin,' I heard a woman say, 'I just runs
to my dear Director and tells him, and then he says to me, Dear daughter, you
must not do so again.' She evidently thought it enough to have opened her mind
to her confessor. Having so done, the responsibility she thought was his.
Multitudes of these native Irish really believe that if they confess to a priest
they may leave it to him to do all the rest. And this is the substance of their
belief. "* (*
Garratt's "Irish in London".) . . .
The same feeling renders them so ready to enter a workhouse, and be kept at the nation's expense. "They will treasure up halfpenny after halfpenny, and continue to do so for years, in order to send money to enable their wives and children, and even their brothers and sisters, when in the depth of distress in Ireland, to take shipping for England. They will save to be able to remit money for the relief of their aged parents in London. They will save to defray the expense of their marriage, an expense the English so frequently dispense with, - but they will not save to preserve either themselves or their children from the degradation of a workhouse; indeed they often, with the means of independence secreted on their persons, apply for parish relief, and that principally to save the expenditure of their own money. Even when detected in such an attempt at extortion, an Irishman betrays no passion, and hardly manifests any emotion-he has speculated and failed. Not one of them but has a positive genius for begging, both the taste and the facility for alms-seeking developed to an extraordinary extent."* (*"Labour and the Poor," vol. i. p. 115.)
"The Irishman's nationality depends upon his faith. If
he is a Protestant, he is in his heart a subject of Queen [-268-]
Victoria. If a Roman Catholic, he has another allegiance, and
owns an authority paramount to hers. The following is a quotation I have met
with from the 'Tablet,' the organ of the Jesuits, respecting the feeling of the
Irish Roman Catholics in their own land:-
"'It is strange to witness this new phase of the yearning wherewith Ireland for so many generations has turned her heart to France, as to a place from whence cometh help. We believe of course that the danger of invasion is very much overrated, but the eye of the peasant glistens when the name of Louis Napoleon is mentioned, and his heart bounds when he hears of the coming empire, which in his mind is the inheritor, not merely of great victories and great deeds, but of hopes that have been nursed in the sad and sickly heart of his fathers, and have been handed down to him as a stern accompaniment of the anguish which eats into his heart, while with thin and wasted lips he murmurs, 'How long, O Lord, how long?' Yes, these hopes (how could it be otherwise under the established rule?) are nourished in Ireland, and the day when the Vicar of Christ - if this too, as it seems probable is to happen - shall place the Imperial Crown upon the brow of the third Napoleon, and give him the benediction of the Church, will bring joy and exultation and hope to the down-trodden peasant of this land.'
"The 'Tablet' writes of the Irish in Ireland. But it is equally true, though not equally known, of the Irish in London. The Roman Catholic masses in the heart of this metropolis are bound by no tie of affectionate loyalty to our Queen and country. England is to them but a foreign land. They look on the Emperor of the French as the Protector of Romanism, and it would not grieve them to see him triumph over a nation of heretics. Such is the state of feeling of Irish Roman Catholics in London. But on the other hand, [-269-] no sooner does an Irishman become a Protestant, than he becomes also loyal to his Queen, and attached to his country. From that moment he looks on his own interest and that of this nation as one, and he counts himself as much concerned in the safety and honour of England, as if he were an Englishman. I simply state the fact. It is one which would be confirmed by every one who knows the heart of the Irish in London. They belong to us nationally or not, as they belong to us religiously or not. The neglect of all effort, for centuries past, to lead these degraded masses into the light and liberty of the Gospel, has resulted in leaving, in the very heart of London, a population, living in the midst of us, but estranged from our religion, our laws, our manners, and our Government." * (* Garratt's "Irish in London," pp. 203-4.)
That disloyalty of the Irish which gives them a sympathy with a French Emperor rather than an English Queen is further illustrated in the following most remarkable quotation from the "Fifth Letter to the People of Ireland," by a popular Romish Priest, who has recently been preaching much in London, the Rev. Dr. Cahill:-
"Depend upon it that England has sapped her own foundations; depend upon me that France is not settled, and that Europe owes England a grudge, which never will or can be forgiven. Be convinced that, if Prince Albert originated 100 Exhibitions, and that the London corporation dined, and slept, and lived with the French functionaries every day and night for 7 years-be convinced that after all this display of artful civilities there is not one Frenchman or one Frenchwoman, or one French child, who would not dance with frantic joy at the glorious idea of having an opportunity before they die of burying their eager swords and plunging the crimsoned French steel into the inmost heart of every man bearing the hated name of Englishman. Therefore, [-270-] keep up your courage, and wait your opportunity in a strictly legal attitude, and England will be very soon in your power."
It is still more remarkable and deplorable that similar language to this has been addressed to the Irish very generally by the priests throughout London during the past year, in the pulpits of Romish Chapels. More, in fact, is expected by the poor Irish in London in general from the French than from the English, and the sympathy of the nation is more decidedly with France than with England.
Such facts illustrate the truth of the remark of the "Times" on March 3, 1853,- "We very much doubt whether in England, or indeed in any free Protestant country, a true Papist can be a good subject. But if all this had been avowed some years ago, the opportunities of Popery would never have been what they are."
Their Spirit of Persecution and Hatred to Protestants.
The old spirit which lit up the fires of Smithfield against
Protestants is also most prevalent among the Irish. As illustrations, the
following extracts from the last two Annual Reports of one of the Surrey Chapel
missionaries are given:-
"Report, 1852.- The deluded creatures in Glass-house-yard are nearly all Irish, and the appearance of a Protestant among them immediately excites their anger. If they could secretly murder him they would not hesitate to do so. Even the children are taught to watch my movements, and their parents will grind their teeth at me as I pass their doors. One woman said recently, 'If you intend to come here you had better order your coffin.' In Gravel-lane there is an Infant School belonging to the Established Church, and the Roman Catholic children, no doubt prompted by their parents, are constantly breaking the windows by throwing stones. A few days since, the door was burst open, and a donkey put in [-271-] at the door. Ewer-street runs out of Gravel-lane into Union-street. Whenever I enter the streets I am narrowly watched. If I give them a tract, some of them will light their pipes with it. Others will shout out, 'Here comes the ----- missionary! Here is the Government spy! Here is the tormentor!'
"An Irishman recently said to me, 'Here you are again, bad luck to ye. We have no pace hare for the like of ye. Faith, and we war never so tarmented in our lives before. Och! and I should like to roast ye, and all the like of ye! Oh, wouldent I like to have the kindling of the fire, and a drap of whisky over the fun. The curses of St. Michael be upon ye for iver and iver!'
"Another Irishman accosted me in the street, and said, 'Are you the priest?' You know I am not,' I replied. 'In whose name then do you come here?' 'In the name of the Great High Priest, King Jesus!' 'By the blessed Virgin, and holy St. Patrick, and by Jasus ye shall not go down here, heretic as ye are, if ye do I will stab you to the very heart;' and he presented a knife with a sharp point, and dared me to stir a step farther. I told him he had no right to stop me on the Queen's highway, and I was determined, whatever might be the consequences, not to be prevented from doing my duty, and rushed past him. He followed me, gnashing his teeth, and uttering the most awful imprecations. An old woman cried out, 'Why did you not rid the world of an inimy, and do God a sarvice?' 'Sure,' said he, 'and if it had not been for my own neck I would, but the Protestant Government would have been after me, bad luck to them.'
"In Ewer-street, where I occasionally visit a sick person, I have had as many as six dogs set at me, but through the mercy of the Lord they were not permitted to injure me.
[-272-] "The foregoing are some of the difficulties which I have had to contend with."
"Report, 1853.- In my Report of last year I mentioned the case of a man who threatened to murder me. Near the same spot an Irishwoman cried out this year, 'Oh, you ---- ----, should we not like to have our will of you? and you must look out that we do not. We should like to have the roasting of your Protestant heart.'
"I offered one of the bills on the Crystal Palace to an Irishman, and he said, 'And is it the Crystal Palace you would keep shut; sure, and cannot we go to mass, and then go to Sydenham in the afternoon; and should we get a drop of whisky too much, would not our priest forgive us? Ah, you Protestants have no such privilege. I tell you candidly, it is not going to the Crystal Palace, but being heretics that will damn you all. I only wish we had the power as they have where Francisco is imprisoned, and we would not only confine you, but put you into the Crystal Palace, set fire to it, and blow you all to hell together. And it would be the greatest service done to God and his Church since the times of good Queen Mary!'
"Another said, 'I say, you Protestant, then you still keep on in your hellish work! Ah! the day will come when you and all the like of you will sorely rue the day that ever you circulated that book of yours.' [I really cannot repeat what he called the Bible, the terms he applied to it were so dreadful.] 'I don't know a bigger enemy than you, because you are always telling the people to search it. And take you missionaries all together, you are worse than an army of soldiers against our Church. You have completely inundated this neighbourhood with that book of yours. May the Lord reward you for your pains and your obstinacy! Many an Ave Maria have I forwarded to the upper world for the destruction of you all.'
[-273-] "The whole of the foregoing are Roman Catholics, for I meet with no direct opposition from others. Although they are awfully indifferent to the truths of the Gospel I meet with civility and respect from the most abandoned.
The following case, which recently occurred to a woman who had been under the visitation of a London City missionary, and who had eventually renounced Popery, illustrates what the spirit of Popery still is. It is taken from the "Times" newspapers of December 3 and 11, 1852:-
"Dec. 3, 1852.-Police Intelligence.- Southwark.- Mr. Daniel Donovan, Roman Catholic priest of Webb-street Chapel, New Weston-street, Bermondsey, was summoned before Mr. A'Beckett for committing an assault on Mary Murphy, an Irish woman . . .
"Mary Murphy, a young woman with an infant in her arms, on being sworn, said: That she now lives in Palmer's rents, Snow's-fields, Bermondsey, and that her husband is a labourer; that on last Sunday three weeks she gave birth to a child, while lodging at the house of a Mrs. Harrington, in Ebenezer-place, Bermondsey. She knew the Rev. Mr. Donovan, the defendant; and he called upon her last Friday while she was sitting by the fire, with her child in her arms. . . . He inquired if she had had a child christened lately. She said that she had, and he asked by whom? and she answered by the Rev. Dr. Armstrong, the Protestant clergyman. The moment she mentioned Dr. A.'s name, the defendant struck her on the side of her head with an umbrella, and exclaimed, 'Don't you think you have sold your soul to the devil?' She replied, that she did not think that she had; upon which he walked out of the room. He returned, however, in about three or four minutes in a passion; struck her three times with the umbrella, in the landlady's presence, and said to her, 'Why don't you send those devils out of your house?' The landlady at first said [-274-] nothing in reply; but when he repeated the question, she then said 'she would make her and her child quit the house.' . . .
"Mr. A'Beckett expressed some surprise that no witnesses were called on either side; and said, that under the circumstances he should send the case before a jury, without making any remarks himself on the subject; and for that purpose should order the defendant to enter into his own recognizance in the sum of 100l to appear and answer the charge at the Sessions."
"Dec. 11.-Surrey Sessions.- (Before Mr. T. Puckle and a full bench of Magistrates.)
"Mr. Daniel Donovan, a Roman Catholic priest connected with the Bermondsey district, surrendered to take his trial for committing an assault on Mary Murphy, a Protestant woman, under very singular circumstances.
"Mary Murphy, a sickly-looking woman with an infant in her arms, on being sworn said: 'I am the wife of Michael Murphy, a labourer. On Friday fortnight I was living in Palmer's-rents, Snow's-fields, and Mrs. Harrington was my landlady. A Mrs. Winter and Mrs. Geeham lodged there also; and I slept in the kitchen which they all used. I was confined not quite three weeks, and had not been out of bed, only to the fire. I know the defendant: he is a clergyman; and I saw him before and after I was confined... On the Friday in question defendant came into the room, and asked me, "Did I get my child baptized?" I replied, that I did. He asked whether it was himself who did it? I replied that it was not; but it was Dr. Armstrong. He is a Protestant, and myself and my husband belong to his congregation. Defendant said, "Did you sell your soul to the devil?" I told him I considered I had not; when he struck me on the left ear with his umbrella. I think in my mind that he was very angry. He went out to the next house, [-275-] and returned in a few moments, when he struck me then three times, and I called out for mercy, as the last stroke hurt me. I told him my head was so bad I could not bear it. I was quite weak and ill at the time. As he was going out of the house he cursed me in Irish, and said to Mrs. Harrington, "Get the devils out of your house." She said she would, and took the bed away from me, and I was compelled to sleep on the floor.'
"Cross-examined by Mr. Woollett, who appeared for the defendant.-I came from Ireland about 3 years ago, and. went with my parents into Wales. They are Roman Catholics, and I was such until I married. I came to Bermondsey a month before last harvest, and had been at Mrs. Harrington's about 6 weeks, and was to pay her 1s. 6d. per week. I first knew Mr. Donovan 3 nights after I was confined, when he came to check a man who had troubled me. The police could not take him or quiet him. That was the reason he was sent for. The defendant then left 1s. for me, but I did not speak to him. I owed Mrs. Harrington a little rent, but she did not look for it until defendant beat me and told her to turn me out. . . .
"Mary Harrington, the landlady of the house, cross-examined by Mr. Robinson for the plaintiff.-Did not defendant tell you to pitch those devils out of the house?
"Witness.-Yes, he did, in a very civil manner.
"Mr. Robinson.-And you took the bed from under her immediately after that.
"Witness.- I did; but she did not sleep on the floor, she slept on the sacking with her clothes on.
"Mr. Sweatman, a surgeon, residing at Clerkenwell, a member of the Established Church, said, he had known defendant from a boy, and he was a very amiable and kindhearted gentleman, liberal in the extreme, and very inoffensive in his manner.
[-276-] "Mr. Kirwan, of George-street, Manchester-square, also spoke in high terms of him, as did Mr. Joseph Luke, of Claremont-street, Pentonville, and Miss Isabella Stephens, of Maze-park, Bermondsey, with whom defendant lodged for some time.
"Mr. Robinson then addressed the Jury in reply, contending that after what the woman had said, the charge had assumed a more serious aspect. No doubt his character was respectable, but they were there to suppress the domination of priests, which now they had a clear proof of, leading them to believe that he exercised a power over his flock which was far superior to the civil authority of the land.
"The CHAIRMAN then summed up the case at great length, reading over the evidence carefully. There were two points for the consideration of the Jury. They must first be satisfied that an assault had been committed, and if so, whether there was any justification. They had heard the whole of the evidence, and it would be for them to consider whether the defendant was guilty or not.
"The Jury consulted for about 20 minutes, and returned a verdict of guilty.
"Mr. Robinson said he was instructed not to press for any severe punishment, as his party had no vindictive feeling towards the defendant. There could be no doubt that the assault was committed in a moment of excitement, therefore he had no wish to aggravate the case.
"The foreman of the Jury said they wished to recommend the defendant to mercy.
"The CHAIRMAN said, it gave him great pain to pass sentence on a person of the defendant's position in life, but the Court as well as the Jury were of opinion that not only an assault had been committed, but 3 aggravated assaults were proved upon a poor weak woman. It was an act of religious persecution which no minister of any denomination [-277-] could be allowed to exercise in this free country. The defendant had no right to chastise any one on such grounds, and had not the prosecutrix and the Jury recommended him to mercy, the Court would have committed him to prison without a fine. Had it been a Protestant minister or Dissenter, the Court would have done the same, as such conduct would not be tolerated in this country. The Court would take into consideration the recommendation, and inflict a penalty of 5l. on him.
"The fine was immediately paid amid the execrations of the mob and dreadful howling of the women, who were in a most excited state, so much so that both the defendant and his accuser were obliged to be sent out privately through the gaol.
A weekly newspaper thus commented on the occurrence,-
"A woman has become a Protestant, and her child has been baptized in a Protestant Church. O'Donovan, hearing this, declares that this Mary Murphy has 'sold herself to the devil,' at the same time, as if to clench the bargain, 'striking her three times near the left ear with his umbrella.' This, however, was a mere ebullition. For on cooler consideration O'Donovan calmly ordered the woman's landlady 'to turn the devils out.' And all potent, a Pope in little, was O'Donovan at the hearth of Mrs. Harrington, the landlady. Donovan had spoken; and Mary Murphy's bed was taken away from her, and she and her child (the baby 3 days old, be it remembered,) slept on the bare floor that night. O'Donovan, after such pious work, went to his bed . . meanwhile Mary Murphy, 3 days delivered, lay on the bare boards. . . . Daniel O'Donovan, we doubt not, never thought himself more truly a priest than when beating a woman, weak with travail, striking her 3 times with an umbrella till she cried for mercy, cursing her in Irish, and bidding her go to 'the 17 devils.' We believe that the [-278-] exposure of O'Donovan will do much good. He has been turned inside out, and so exposed looks blacker than even his gown. The religion of Christianity is a religion of protection and shelter. But the O'Donovans, framing it to their own hands, make it a weapon of wrong and persecution. In scorching heat and pouring rain O'Donovan has an umbrella that, in his piety, he may lift above the travail- worn and sinking, but he bethinks him of no part of the umbrella but the stick."
The Irish of London require 100 Missionaries or Scripture-readers, in order that the Gospel may be brought to their Abodes.
A more important field than is presented by the Irish in London for missionary effort, it is difficult to conceive. So far as numbers are concerned, they present a larger claim than many of the entire stations of our Foreign Missionary Societies. The Irish in London, of the poorer classes alone, amount to 200,000. But the entire of the "Colony of the Cape of Good Hope in 1848, was no more, and of the natives there were but 123,719. New Zealand is computed at but from 120,000 to 180,000, and the entire colony of Sierra Leone in 1838 was only 41,551, or scarcely more than one- fifth of the population of the poor Irish of London; while Greenland, that field of successful missionary enterprise by the Moravians is less than a twentieth part of the number. Is it then consistent to send missionaries to those afar off, at a necessarily great cost, and to pass by those who are dwelling in the midst of our own metropolis? The one ought to be done, but the other ought still more not to be left undone. As 500 families, consisting of about 2,000 individuals, are as many as one lay visitor can take charge of with any advantage, there are actually one hundred such faithful men wanted for the Irish alone of London.
The Remarkable Success of Recent Efforts for the Conversion of the Irish to the Protestant Faith in their own Country.
Great encouragement exists for such efforts among the Irish
from the circumstance of the truly marvellous effects which have within the last
few years been accomplished in the West of Ireland. They probably exceed what
have been witnessed in any part of England within the memory of man, if not
since the days of the Reformation. The last Paper of the Irish Church Missions,
issued in the Autumn of 1852, states:-
" This Society was instituted, under its present form and constitution, in the year 1849. . . . The success which has attended it is almost without a parallel. With a few agents, and limited funds, it commenced its labours in the West of Ireland, soon afterwards in the East, and has since embraced a large portion of that country. .
"The Society's Missions in West Galway have, under God's blessing, been the means of rendering a district, extending 50 miles in length and 30 in breadth, characteristically Protestant, which but a few years ago was characteristically Romish. In that district, until lately, there were not more than 500 Protestants; there are now nearly 6,000 converts attending Church services. 5,000 children are taught in the Scriptural schools. . . . .
"Although there has been much opposition and persecution exercised by the Church of Rome, yet enemies and friends testify to the peaceable fruits of righteousness that are to be found amongst the converts, and to the social improvement and industry that abounds wherever the principles of the Reformation have spread."
A statement inserted in the "Times" newspaper for March 17, 1853, gives the following particulars:-
"The work of the Society is carried on in 23 Missions, [-280-] which extend into 22 counties. There are besides, 39 Local Committees for Missions, composed of parochial clergy, assisted by the Society, and established in 25 counties in Ireland.
"The Society is now allied with the Irish Society (Dublin), which latter is to confine its instructions to the province of Munster, into which the operations of the Irish Church Missions are not to extend.
"The Bishop of Tuam has confirmed 1,948 converts from Romanism since October, 1849. Eight new churches and several school-rooms have been erected, and are in progress of erection by the individual efforts of Christian friends, for the accommodation of the converts. Over 5,000 children are taught in Scriptural schools.
"In Dublin alone, the agents of the Society made 33,980 visits to Roman Catholic families within the year 1852, whilst large numbers of Romanists attend the controversial sermons in different churches, and the inquiring classes are crowded to inconvenience.
"The Society at present employs 37 missionary clergymen, 21 lay agents, 229 Scripture-readers, and 98 schoolmasters and mistresses. In all 388 agents, besides some hundreds of Irish teachers. This number does not include those employed by 39 Local Committees, whose salaries are paid by the Society."
It is stated by the Earl of Roden, in the small volume published by him, entitled "The Reformation in Ireland," and written immediately after a personal investigation of the results on the spot,-
"The results which have followed these missionary efforts have fully justified the opinion which I always held, that nothing could really benefit our wretched country [Ireland] by improving the character of our people, but the diffusion of Scriptural knowledge amongst them. Surely the [-281-] success of this work is a cause for gratitude and praise to God, to whom alone the glory is due. A total change takes place, not only in the appearance of the people, but in their habits and conduct; even those most opposed to the Missions are obliged to confess that no Jumpers (as the converts are called) have been convicted by the magistrates at sessions for theft or other crimes; some may have been maliciously accused, but I am told no instance of conviction has taken place. There are various Societies engaged in this great work, each occupying different localities, none interfering one with the other. The object is so great, and the work so extensive, that all these Societies are most useful. The schools that we have visited in Connemara and West Gal- way are under the Irish Church Missions; those in Erris and the islands adjoining are under the Irish Society, and the Island and Coast Society; those I visited last year at Dingle and Ventry, in Kerry, are under a separate Mission of their own. . . . I must not omit to mention our Presbyterian brethren, who have also a Mission in the West, where they are not less zealous and active, under the Rev. Dr. Edgar, of Belfast. We had not time to visit them. . . . I would say to any one who may doubt these details, Decide not till you have seen the work yourselves. It is very easy of access, . . . and the scenery itself would well repay the trouble and fatigue of the journey.... Sure I am that the Bible is the great remedy for the ills of Ireland, the knowledge of which the people themselves value above all other knowledge, and . . . they are thirsting for it, and anxious to be acquainted with its contents."* (* Pp. 84-87.)
In another part of the book, Lord Roden states:- "The Bishop of Tuam told me to-day (September 4, 1851), that be thought upwards of 10,000 Roman Catholics, including [-282-] the children, had left the Church of Rome within his diocese. Hitherto I have had little to tell you of violent persecution, the extent of conversion in the district through which we have passed having nearly overcome it."* (* P. 33. )
His Lordship, in another part, thus describes a confirmation he happened to witness-one only of a series held throughout the country:- "A missionary arrived with a number of converts, who had left their locality, 20 miles distant, at 12 o'clock the night before, and had traversed the mountains all night, in order to be present at the confirmation. We met them in the morning, greatly fatigued. . . . The morning service was read, and 99 persons, the great majority of them being adults, were waiting in the aisle of the church, and in the pews, for confirmation. The Bishop preached an excellent sermon, warning the converts of all they might have to endure, and pointing them to the true source of strength and power, which was to be found only by looking unto Jesus. He received the converts by 12 at a time, and laid his hands upon them, pronouncing the usual blessing. After this most interesting sight, I spoke to several of the adults, some of them aged men, who confessed themselves relieved from a burden on their consciences, which they had borne for many years; indeed, their countenances, I am told, were quite changed, and a cheerfulness visible, unseen in them before."* (* Pp. 79-80.)
Writing from a third town (Belmullet), his Lordship observes:- "Among a population of 6,000 and upwards, no instance, I have been told, has been found of admittance being refused to the Scripture-readers, or attention withheld from the reading of the Word of God. There are upwards of 400 convinced of the errors of Popery, who discuss its tenets among themselves, and crowd the houses entered by [-283-] the readers and the rector, to listen to the exposition of Gospel truth. . . . There are 4 Scripture schools, attended by 230 Roman Catholic children."* (*P.54)
In the interesting volume recently published by Sir Francis B. Head, Bart., descriptive of his tour in Ireland, in the autumn of 1852, he states:-
" The innumerable conversions which, from their commencement in the little island of Achil, in 1835, to the present day, have been effected in the West of Ireland, from Achil to Dingle, and from Dingle to Oughterard, in the counties of Donegal, Cork, Kerry, and even in Dublin, have been most extensive and extraordinary. For instance, in the town of Westport, there are now 3 Protestant churches, and 5 more in the parish. . . . At Clifden the conversion burst out so rapidly, that already by far the greater proportion of the inhabitants are Protestants he sisters of mercy zealously combine with the priests to stop the movement, and their efforts are extraordinary. In short, every engine is brought to bear against this alarming conversion; a regularly organized denunciation is levelled against all aiders and abettors of the Protestant missionaries, as well as against any one who affords them any countenance whatever. Any Roman Catholic who listens to a Protestant clergyman, or to a Scripture-reader, is denounced as a marked man, and people are forbidden to have any dealings with him in trade or business, to sell him food, or buy it of him. For instance, a shoemaker at Westport lately seceded from the Catholic Church; the sisters immediately offered him 2l. a-week, which he refused. Not a journeyman dared work for him. A priest went round to every man that dealt with him, until only one person would sell him leather."* ("Fortnight in Ireland, pp. 154-5.)
It is difficult to say what may have led to results so truly [-284-] remarkable of late years. Nor ought we to look too much to second causes. But it has been ordinarily supposed that they have, in the wonderful order of God's providence, resulted from the famine. The immense sums of money so freely and generously raised in England at that time did much apparently to open the Irish heart. Mr. O'Connell and his party had previously persuaded the Irish that the Saxons hated them, would do nothing for their help under any circumstances, and almost desired their blood. The priests also had generally confirmed the truth of these assertions. The common people were simple enough to believe them. But when it was found that in almost every parish in England a larger collection on their behalf was made than had been known to be obtained for any other object, and that there was manifestly a general zeal shown here to save them from starvation, they saw that the demagogues and the priests in whom they had trusted had deceived them, and that the English, in spite of difference of creed, were truly their friends.
The same Agency, for the effecting the same Results, is what is especially required for the Irish of London.
The same character of agency is exactly that which is also required among the Irish who are to be met with in London, and most encouraging have been the results here. If not equal to those in Ireland (and they are not equal) they have yet been very large. God's own word, brought by some humble but hearty man, is what is effecting the blessing.
Cardinal Wiseman's recent Denunciation of this Agency in London.
This, however, is considered to be so derogatory to the
functions of the hierarchy, that a pamphlet has just been [-285-]
published in London, dated February 12, 1853, by "His
Eminence Cardinal Wiseman," entitled, "The Catholic Doctrine on the Use of
the Bible." After quoting a long paragraph from a Report of one of the
Auxiliaries of the London City Mission, which the Doctor confounds with a Report
of the parent Society, he proceeds - "Not a single clergyman is on the Committee,
or holds any office in the Society.* (* This is not true, even with reference to the
Auxiliary referred to. For many of its missionaries are both
superintended and supported by clergymen and ministers, and all of them
were only appointed on the examination of six reverend gentlemen.) Indeed, by the prospectus it is clear that
missionaries and Bible-readers, not the clergy, are the instruments of salvation
that its authors look to. They speak of the people as not yet having had the
Gospel sent to them. . . . God certainly did not communicate to his Church
the discovery of this age, that even to others every one is a doctor, and may
become an apostle. . . . This is the result of universal Bible-reading. When a
country had to be converted, like Ireland, or England, or Germany, bishops and
priests were sent, &c. . . . . There were not shipped off colonies of
artizans, with wives and children, all pensioned for the work, under the title
of missionaries, to convert the heathen-men uneducated, unspiritual, unqualified
for the work. And why not, as well as now? Because now such men are
deemed fully qualified if they have only a sufficient supply of Bibles to
distribute, in some ludicrous translation, and have themselves learned
sufficient of Bible phraseology to perfect them in cant. And at home likewise we
now see the episcopal office usurped by committees of gentlemen and
ladies, who, neglecting all consideration of there being a paid and established
clergy, take upon themselves the duty of providing Bible-readers instead. "
[-286-] The very appearance of such a warning from a quarter so high, would intimate that in the judgment of those to whom it is given, such efforts are producing effect. Nor is it lay agency to which Rome objects. The very High Church party of the Church of England have alone that scruple. Rome is far too wise in the wisdom of this world to discard lay agency in imparting religious instruction. When it has answered her own purposes she has always extensively employed it, as all history will testify. But that which Rome trembles at is the Word of God, whether written in the book or spoken by the lips, and be these lips laical or be they ecclesiastical, it matters not to her.
Soundness of Protestant Feeling among the English Working-classes.
numerous as are the Irish in London, they have not succeeded in bringing over to
their religion any portion of our own working population. This alone is
encouraging, considering their zeal and our own negligence and indifference. The following quotation on this subject is taken from the "London City
Mission Magazine," of November, 1851:-
"The general testimony of our missionaries is, that although from the influx of Irish there has been a great accession to the number of Roman Catholics, there has been no accession at all among the poor from a change of sentiments having been effected. The triumph of Popery in London of late, great as it has been, has been almost exclusively among the educated and higher orders of society. And it has been particularly ineffectual in its effects, God be praised, among the poor. We do not think 50 perverts could be found on our 250 districts, comprising, as these do, probably 500,000 individuals. The following extracts from the Reports of missionaries will confirm this, and will be [-287-] read probably with some surprise, but, we feel assured, with a great thankfulness to God:-
"(1.) 'Since I have been on this district (l¾ year), I have not known one case where a nominal Protestant has become a pervert to Popery. But during that time 2 Roman Catholics have left the Romish Church.' (2.) 'I have been on this Romish district nearly 13 years, and not one instance of perversion from Protestantism to Popery has taken place on it during that period.' (3.) 'One of the most wealthy Romish congregations is on my district, and great exertions have been made by those connected with it to proselyte. But I can only number 51 Roman Catholic families, and I do not know of more than 4 or 5 during the 5 years I have been here, who have joined their ranks, and these were rather through the treachery of the clergymen of two Protestant churches. One of these clergymen has since himself joined the Church of Rome, and the other has been silenced by the Bishop of London.' (4.) 'Of the 202 Roman Catholic families on my district, I am not aware of a case where a proselyte has been made to Popery of late, although there are 3 females who became perverts years ago.' (5.) 'During the 5 years I have been on this district, I know of no one proselyte to the Church of Rome among the poor, which is the more remarkable, as 2 clergymen of the Church of England who officiated on the district were seduced.' (6.) 'During 9 years' labours, I have only met with 1 woman, with 2 or 3 of her children, who have gone over to Popery, but I have met with many who have become converts to Protestantism.' (7.) 'In 4 years, I have only known 1 family converted to Popery, and in that instance the poor man has been known to be of unsound mind for years, and has a silver plate in his head. His wife followed him, simply because she thought she was obliged. The late movements have made Popery more unpopular than ever with the [-288-] people.' (8.) 'Although the priests are so active on this my Popish district, the on~y increase in Roman Catholics is from importations from Ireland.' (9.) 'There is neither a single perversion to Popery on this Popish district, nor a single Englishman who is a Papist.' (10.) 'With all the efforts of the nunnery on my district, the sisters of mercy, and the priests, every Roman Catholic here states that he was bred and born such.'
"The testimony of no single missionary is materially different."
Indications of a Reformation among the Irish in London, which shall resemble in its Extent and Reality that which has recently been effected in Ireland.
It may be hoped, however, not only that the Irish will not
bring over the English to the Romish faith, but that the English will bring over the Irish to the Protestant faith.
There is very much to encourage such a belief. Mr. Garratt's sentiments on this subject are our own:-
"There is no denying that, in spite of every check, the current of opinion among those who influence society (in England) is setting Romeward. . . . .
"But while on the upper surface of society the tide is going towards Rome, at the very bottom, among the lowest class, among the Irish, not only in London, but everywhere, there is a tide from Rome. These men have no influence. It would not affect the general religious aspect of the nation, if, instead of being Roman Catholics or Protestants, they were heathen or Mahometans. But though they can do nothing, they may suffer much. They may glorify Christ by patient endurance of persecution for his name's sake. We may be training martyrs. It is in this light I look upon the work among the Irish in London. I trust that, however dark the days that are coming, God is lighting lamps to [-289-] shine brighter as the night grows blacker. There is much in the Celtic character to justify this hope. Slow in acting, they are patient in enduring. When they once have their minds opened to the truth, they embrace it with a cordiality and love which seems to say that they will not let it go. And I think, if we look at the records of the past, we shall find that, for the most part, God has honoured with the crown of martyrdom men poor in this world but rich in faith, like the Celtic Waldenses of Piedmont or the Celtic Protestants of London. It may be that God will suffer England once more to fall under the power of the apostasy, and yet enable some of our despised Irishmen to keep alive the light of truth in the recesses of our city, and when the pomp and splendour of this world is given to the beast, to overcome him through the blood of the Lamb, and not to love their lives unto the death."
A further quotation from the "London City Mission Magazine" last referred to, will illustrate the general opening of the minds of the Irish, to a greater or less extent, to scriptural instruction:-
"It is ordinarily the case, that after a time opposition becomes very strong, through the interference of the priests, so that missionaries find visitation more and more difficult. This, however, in its turn ordinarily gradually subsides, by perseverance, prudence, and kindness. We add a few extracts from the Reports of missionaries, who have been a long period on their districts, in illustration.
"One missionary writes:- 'Of the 79 Romish families on my district, 10 have received the Scriptures from me, and many Roman Catholic families who have left have also had a copy. There are also very few of the remaining families who will not listen while I read the Scriptures to them. The priest has been about among the people in general in the low parts of the district, and asked Protestant families to [-290-] send their children to the Romish school, and to attend Mass, but I do not know of one instance in which they have succeeded. The priests, I believe, dare not go among the Protestants in the other parts of the district.' A second missionary writes:- 'In some cases, the Roman Catholics refuse the tracts, being told to do so by the priests, and yet, strange as it may appear, they will allow me to sit down and read with them the Bible. While I have been thus engaged, such remarks as the following have fallen from their lips:- "And sure that's very good." "And that's no lie." I have met with one case of a member of the Church of England inclined to go over to Popery, but, by God's blessing. he was prevented from so doing by the visits of the Mission.' A third missionary, who has been very long on his district, writes:- 'I find but little difficulty in gaining access to all the Roman Catholics, except one, who is an aged widow.' A fourth missionary, after some length of service, writes:- 'There are ordinarily from 70 to 100 Roman Catholic families on my district, but they all open their doors to me, and willingly and cheerfully receive my visits. The great drawback is that they seldom continue more than a few months.' Another missionary, whose length of service has been less, and who has also been less successful in gaining access to Roman Catholics, yet writes:- 'Although about one-third of the Popish families refuse the tracts, on the ground either of their not being able to read them, or because they are opposed to their religion and they fear to offend their priests; and although, sunk in ignorance, depravity, and bitter prejudice against all instruction from a Protestant teacher, they constitute a most difficult and discouraging class for the missionary to deal with, I yet feel that there is ground of hope and encouragement. In many cases the tracts are received; in some cases I have the opportunity of reading the Word of God; and even in those cases where I fail of [-291-] success in both these particulars, I am generally able to leave with them a verbal testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus.' The statement of another missionary is:- 'Of 118 Roman Catholic families on the district, I have free access to 98, and am accustomed to read the Scriptures and converse with them.'
"Even on a district where, with 17 exceptions, the whole of the families are professedly Roman Catholic, the missionary is allowed to visit all but two. The workhouses are another striking illustration of the willingness of the Roman Catholics in general to receive the instruction of the missionaries. In almost all the Unions there is a large number of Papists; but the missionaries find much opportunity of usefulness among them. Where the number of Roman Catholics on a district is small, there is probably even more readiness to receive instruction. The following extract will give an illustration:-
" I have only 9 Roman Catholic families on my district. To 4 of these I have supplied the Scriptures. 1. To Mr. ----, a journeyman tailor, who has 5 young Irishmen working with him. When I first called, they all refused to listen to me, saying they were not of the same religion. After several visits and much opposition, they, however, accepted a Bible, and now the master reads it aloud, and the men offer their remarks on it; so that in this house a Bible class may be said to be held daily. When I call, they ask me to explain the difficulties which have occurred. 2. To Mr. ----, whose mother died in a nunnery. His grandmother was also in a nunnery, and used to make the wafers. He was brought up in a Romish school. I lent him a loan copy of the Scriptures, which he has been induced to read for himself. He has now nearly read it through. He has been once to St. Martin's Church, and expresses himself as edified by what he heard. 3. To Mr. ----, a journeyman shoe-[-292-]maker, who, when I first visited him, called me a soul-destroyer, and spoke many bitter things against me and all Protestants. He has accepted a loan Bible, and appears anxious to understand it. 4. To Mr.----, also a journeyman shoemaker. He worked with others who professed to be Deists. He has received a loan Bible, which is read to them all.'
"In such cases as the following, the useful working of the Mission is also apparent:- The parties connected with the parish church have lately sold the National School-room of the parish to the Romanists. These latter, by a great effort, had nearly 300 children for some time, but they now do not average 100. I attribute this decrease mainly to missionary exertions."* (* Since this extract was written by the missionary, the average attendance at the school has further declined to about 30.)
What is being effected among the Irish of London may be illustrated by a reference to a single church, that of St. Paul's, Bermondsey, in which a great work has been for some time going on. In little more than a year about 340 adults have renounced Popery there! At first, this was done publicly in the church, but it exposed the converts to so much opposition that the renunciation has been of late made in the house of the Incumbent. Most of these have since become communicants in the Protestant Church, and it is believed that they have been generally impressed with the spiritual power of the truths which they have received. It has not been with them a mere change of creed, but also a change of habit and life. So much has this been the case, that converts may be distinguished from others by their very dress, which has become so much more respectable; and by even their countenances, which appear changed and lit up with animation, through the freedom which they have received. Fully 20 of them have been engaged in seeking [-293-] to convert their fellow-countrymen, as Scripture-readers, in different parts of Ireland and in English towns. The children also of these converts are brought under Protestant instruction. Five only of the converts have gone back, although most strenuous efforts have been made for that purpose. The woman to whom the priest used such violence, as referred to in a former page, was one of these converts, as her husband had been before. And so great was the disposition manifested to interfere with her at that time, that the missionary felt it necessary to secrete her between the trials in his own house; while a neighbouring missionary, also much implicated in the occurrence, by the advice of the clergy around, felt it a needful precaution, for the purpose of intimidation, to furnish his house with loaded pistols.
The Persecution which the recent London Converts have had to endure.
So great has been the opposition, that even natural
affection, and that among a class in whom it is so peculiarly strong, has given
way to the bigotry of creed. The dearest relatives have cast from them, as
objects of hatred, those whom before they most loved. One woman recently said to
a missionary, around this church, "I have one young child, and if that
child were but to turn Protestant, I solemnly vow, that I would sacrifice him to
God, at the same time taking up a large pair of scissars to show, by action as
well as word, how ready she would be, for the sake of her religion, to plunge
the scissars into the flesh of her own offspring.
The priest referred to was specially sent to the locality from Ireland, by the authorities of the Romish Church, to counteract the success of the work of conversion which was going on. His knowledge of the Irish language, it was considered, would give him an advantage, where God's Word Lad begun to be preached in Irish, and where Irish-speaking [-294-] missionaries were diligently at work. On his arrival, he sent agents about Bermondsey to find out the residences of those who had professed themselves converts, or who admitted Bible-readers into their houses. He then denounced their names from the altar, and desired the congregation to employ all means to bring them back to the true fold, from which they had strayed, adding, that if they did not succeed, he should employ the authority given him by the Church to curse them. It was, however, quite enough for the priest to denounce the names of these persons, to induce the congregation to use them ill, and; while doing so, they doubtless considered that they were doing God service. The work of persecution forthwith began. Many were knocked down in the public streets, others were beaten and their lives threatened, others were struck with brickbats on their heads. It was with the design of putting a stop to such proceedings that a warrant was applied for against the priest, that it might be shown how English law would not permit such atrocities, but that all in this free country may worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. And the result of the trial led to his departure from the neighbourhood, while one woman in the Court, at the trial, was so favourably impressed towards Protestantism, especially by hearing the Protestant clergyman request mercy for the priest from the magistrate, that it ended in her renouncing Popery and embracing the pure faith of the Bible. She has ever since herself been most zealous in making converts to Protestantism.
The efforts of the missionaries of the London City Mission have had their share in the success, as will appear from the following extracts from the monthly schedules forwarded to that Society, by the Rev. Dr. Armstrong, Incumbent of St. Paul's:-
"July, 1852.-The work of one of the missionaries has [-295-] led this month to 12 persons renouncing Popery. I am sorry to say, the persecution has become so hot that he is prevented from visiting some places where he was formerly welcome, but this, I trust, will only be a temporary hinderance. The priests are very violent in their proceedings. The second missionary has been very active and zealous among the Romanists. Two adults will, I expect, soon renounce Popery, and 6 children have this month been induced to attend school.
"August.- Since the last return, several have given in their names as converts from Popery.
"September.- The missionaries' work is progressing well. Three persons have lately declared themselves Protestants, as the result of their work; but I expect many more very soon, as there is now a great spirit of inquiry.
"October.- A capital month. One missionary has brought in 14 converts. He is obliged to be very much with me, helping in the reception of inquirers, which will account for his not having visited more families. One very good convert has been brought in this month by the second missionary. He has many very hopeful cases on his hand, but it must be remembered that his ground is not so advantageous, though most important, as it has not been so much broken up.
"November.- Since the prosecution of the priest there has been a great opposition to the entrance of the missionaries, but I trust this will be only temporary. The convincing of the poor people that the priests are not invulnerable will, it is hoped, make a good impression. Indeed, already several, since the trial, have expressed their intention of quitting Popery.
"December.- During the month 8 persons have, by the missionaries, renounced Popery, and a great many are influenced by the truth."
To show the difficulties with which some of these converts [-296-] have had to strive in the step they have, by God's grace, taken, a few details are given from the last Report of one of the Bermondsey missionaries of the London City Mission:-
"On --- ----, while he was at work on a wharf, a cask was let fall. It just missed him, and he escaped unhurt. The Romanist who let it fall laughed, and coolly said, 'A good job, if it had killed him.' The poor man has been since frequently pelted with stones, and hurt; but he bears all with Christian fortitude, and says they could do nothing which would more tend to convince him of the errors of Popery.
"--- ---- was knocked down, while standing in front of his own yard; his head came on the curb-stone, and his life was in great danger. The people immediately ran for the priest, who was soon in attendance, but he told him that he was a convert, and wished to see Dr. Armstrong, the Protestant clergyman. The latter at once went, but was quickly surrounded by a crowd of persons, who prevented him from speaking to the injured man. One took hold of a stool and was about to strike the clergyman, but was prevented by another to whom the clergyman was known. I then made an effort to speak to the man, but to no purpose. About 15 women gathered round, and when he tried to answer any question I put to him, they put their hands on his mouth to stop him. He soon became quite unconscious from the effects of the blow he had received.
"The priest, some time since, offered the converts, that if any of them would return to the true fold, he would pay their passage to America. There were only 6 who accepted his offer. These he employed for some time in trying to bring others with them, but they were unsuccessful. On their asking him at length, when they were to be sent off, he told them that they must look out for work in London, and excused himself from sending them to America. They [-297-] therefore left him again in disgust, doubly convinced that Popery is a monstrous delusion. They have ever since attended regularly Protestant worship, and they often warn the other converts not to be led away by false promises, but to hold fast the religion of the Gospel. They have thus become strengthened in the faith.
General Expectations of Irish Romanists that Ireland will soon become a Protestant, and England a Popish Country.
As in the early ages of the Christian Church, opposition has
only tended to the increase of converts. At the same time, the success in
London, or in England generally, has been by no means what it has been in
Ireland itself of late, and especially in the western parts of that island. The
events of the last year at Bermondsey would lead, however, to the hope, that
with increased effort they would more nearly resemble each other. It has been so
extensive of late in Ireland, that visitation among the Romish Irish, even in
London, will show, they entertain themselves now the expectation, that ere long
Ireland will become a Protestant country. This is their own general belief.
Nineteen years ago (in 1834) a return was made by the Commissioners of Public
Instruction, from which it appeared that there were then in Ireland 6,431,008
Roman Catholics, 852,676 members of the Established Church, 642,356
Presbyterians, 21,808 other Protestant Dissenters, and 6,254 whose religion
could not be ascertained. By this return there were 4¼ Roman Catholics to every
Protestant. It is believed by those best informed, that at the present time the
respective numbers are very nearly equal, while Protestantism has on its side
the vast ascendancy in the wealth and influence of the country. It is, however,
a most affecting fact to append to this, that the expectations of the Irish of
London are not less general, that Ireland will [-298-] ere long become a Protestant country, than that England will
become a Popish country. They anticipate the latter as firmly as the former.
With a population in the midst of our metropolis undisguisedly and avowedly Romish in its creed, and numbering 200,000 souls, what efforts ought not to be made by Protestants on their behalf! They require to a great extent a distinct agency, peculiarly adapted to themselves. Persons who understand the Irish character, the Irish controversy, and even the Irish language, are the parties needed, as well as men who can endure a large amount of very rough work. And less than one hundred such men are insufficient for this one class, even to give each separate family a single visit each month. It ought also to be known by Christians, that Irish Romanists are themselves very zealous to make converts of English Protestants. They are urged to do this from the pulpits of Romish chapels. "If," said Cardinal Wiseman to a Romish congregation recently, "all of you can but bring over each one person during the next year, how blessed would be the result;" and then he urged it strongly on them to make the trial. They do succeed, moreover, to a considerable extent, in alluring English Protestants to attend occasional services at Romish chapels. And who shall say to what this may lead, with a population themselves very ignorant and uninstructed? Indulgences granted for each convert, we believe extending to a hundred days, present also a strong motive to effort.
The Causes of the Extensive Immigration of Irish to London in Recent Years.
The causes which have led to such multitudes of Irish coming
to this country of late years, are thus enumerated in the "London City
Mission Magazine," for November, 1851 [-299-]
"1. The recent famine in their own land; 2. The act of landlords and Poor-law officers, who have sent over here those in a pauper condition; 3. The act of the priests, who have told the people that work was plentiful here, and wages better than in Ireland; 4. The competition between the steam-boat companies, which has reduced the rate of passage to so extremely small a sum; 5. The increasing number of Irish labourers employed in the docks and various manufactories, through the willingness of the Irish labourer to work for less than the English, and his ability to live on a cheaper description of food; 6. The desire on the part of those who come over to get over their relations and friends also.
From such causes as these the number of inhabited houses in Ireland in 1851 was 281,104 less than in 1841,-a diminution of 21 per cent.!
"The great influx of the Irish into London was in the year of the famine, 1847-8. . . . 'Between the 13th January and the 13th December, both inclusive,' writes Mr. Rushton, the Liverpool magistrate, to Sir George Grey, in April, 1850, '296,231 persons landed in Liverpool from London. Of this vast number, about 130,000 emigrated to the United States, some 50,000 were passengers on business, and the remainder (161,231) were paupers, half-naked and starving, . . . and became immediately on landing applicants for parish relief.' . . . Of the immigration, direct by the vessels trading from Ireland to London, there are no returns such as have been collected by Mr. Rushton for Liverpool, but the influx is comparatively small, on account of the greater length and cost of the voyage. During the last year, I am informed that 15,000 or 16,000 passengers were brought from Ireland to London direct, and in addition to these, 600 more were brought over from Cork in connexion with the arrangements for emigration to the United States, and consigned to the emigration agent here. Of the [-300-] 15,000 (taking the mean between the two numbers above given), 1,000 emigrated to the United States. . . . Besides these there are the numbers who make their way up to London, tramping it from the several provincial ports- namely, Liverpool, Bristol, Newport, and Glasgow." * (* "London Labour and the London Poor, vol. i., pp. 112, 113.)
It might have been supposed that the immigration of Irish would have ceased to a great extent after the year of the famine. Such has, however, not been the case in so marked a manner as might have been anticipated, for in 1851 Irish emigration amounted to 257,372. And the reason has been that the potato crop, on which Ireland depends as its staple supply of food, has never since recovered from the injury of that year. It has not yielded since as it did before. The opposition between the steam-companies' vessels has also been so great since, that steerage passengers from Cork to London, who now are charged 10s. 6d. for their passage, were a year or two since brought over for 1s. a-head; and, indeed, at length one company, in order to obtain more passengers than the other, brought them over gratis; nor satisfied even with this, they at length offered the premium of a loaf of bread as a reward to all who would patronize their boats rather than the boats of the rival company. At that time the Poor-law Guardians in Ireland were known to have sent over the paupers for the purpose of getting rid of them. The two steam-boat companies have now coalesced, and the opposition between them has consequently ceased.
The better Class of Poor emigrate from Ireland to America, and the worst Class to London.
In the days of Queen Elizabeth, it was customary to divide
the Irish into three classes, "the Irish, the wild Irish, and the extreme
wild Irish." The first of these [-301-] divisions comprised the respectable and higher classes; the
second, the poor inhabiting the towns and valleys; and the third, the
inhabitants of remote country parts, and more especially of the bogs and
mountains. The same divisions may be made in the days of Queen Victoria as in
the days of Queen Elizabeth. And the class of Irish with which we are most
familiar in the courts and alleys of London, are by no means the most favourable
specimens of the nation. We are the nearest country to which to emigrate from
Ireland, and the Irish who have imbibed the common spirit for emigration, which
is now so general there, but who can afford to emigrate nowhere else, come over
to us as the nearest and the cheapest port. We therefore get the poorest of the
people, almost all of whom come from country parts, and not from the large
towns. It is also to be remembered, that the favourite country for
emigrating to with the Irish is America. Very few Irish leave their native land
but with the intention of settling there. They intend their resort here to be
only a step towards the accomplishment of that end. They know England, and
especially London, to be a place where wages are high, as compared with what
they can earn at home; and when they hear that Cardinal Wiseman opened an office
for the transaction of business with the Irish, and with the Roman Catholics in
general, on his arrival in London, in Silver-street, Golden-square, and that a
large colony of their own poor fellow-countrymen reside in Golden-lane, Barbican,
they believe the very names denote the wealth which there abounds. As an
Irishman recently said to a party who visited him, "Well, I thought I
should never here have a day's want. I thought money was almost to be picked up
in the streets." They do not regard England with any fondness, excepting that
they generally consider the English as honest, although heretics, who will keep
their word, and pay them what they agree for. [-302-] They generally simply desire to come, in order to obtain
money to get over to America. The greater number succeed in their object, and
gain enough here to carry them over, living in the interim in a manner, in order
to save, which the English would consider an especial hardship. Some few of
those who came over have already, by the recent efforts in Ireland, been
converted to the Protestant faith. And it is most encouraging to know what large
numbers of them become Protestants on their arrival in America, where they can
change their faith without being exposed to those annoyances and persecutions
which invariably accompany such a step in their own land. Such a circumstance
shows, however, how hopefully we might engage in efforts to convert them
in this country. The following extract is from the pen of an Irish
priest, named Mullen, and was lately inserted in the newspaper called the
"Is there to be no voice raised, no hope held out, that will keep the people at home, and thus save millions from spiritual destruction? I say millions! Here are my facts:-
"The present population of the United States is about 15,000,000, and of these the Catholic Church claims only 1,980,000. From the year 1825 to 1844, 1,250,000 left Ireland, 1,000,000 of whom came to America; the proportion of Catholics amongst these may be fairly estimated at 800,000. Since that period to the present the numbers who emigrated here from Ireland at the lowest calculation were 1,500,000; and taking the Catholics as above, we will have in 9 years 1,200,000. A large number (say half a million) came from Germany, some from Italy, France, Belgium, and other countries, during the last 10 years, half of whom were Catholics-say 250,000. Twelve years ago America had a Catholic population (according to Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston) of 1,200,000. Calculating the increase of this number by births at the very small number of 500,000, and [-303-] adding, for converts in the larger cities and towns, 20,000, we will have the following total:-
Catholic emigrants from the year 1825 to 1844. . . . 800,000
Catholic emigrants from 1844 to 1852 . . . 1,200,000
Catholic emigrants from other countries . . .250,000
American Catholic population 12 years ago . . . 1,200,000
Increase by births since . . .500,000
Number of converts . . .20,000
Number who ought to be Catholics . . .3,970,000
Number who are Catholics . . .1,980,000
NUMBER LOST TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH . . . 1,990,000
SAY, IN ROUND NUMBERS, TWO MILLIONS."
But is it not a reproach to London, that so few of the Irish who have immigrated here in recent years should have become Protestants, while millions have done so there? And is it not a still greater reproach to us, that while Popery bewails the loss of her sons and daughters to Protestantism in America, it adds its lamentation on their loss, when they immigrate here, to "the moral turpitude of England [which] as a leprosy, spreads its vicious infection over others whose innocence and poverty expose them to its unholy influence ?"* (* "The Lamp.")
The Divisions of the Irish of London into Cockneys and Grecians.
Of the Irish immigrants who remain in London, few have any such intention at first. But they gradually become accustomed to the place and its habits, and at length settle down in it. Their descendants are called "Irish Cockneys," and the new-comers are called "Grecians." By these names they are generally distinguished among themselves. And [-304-] the two divisions of this class are most distinct. The animosity which subsists between them is very bitter, far beyond that which often unhappily subsists between the Irish and the English. The Cockneys regard the Grecians as coming to take the bread out of their own mouths, and consider their extensive immigration as tending to lower their own wages. Having also succeeded in raising themselves, at least some steps, from that abject poverty and nakedness which distinguished them on their first arrival, they now look on the Grecians as bringing a discredit on their country by their appearance and necessities. There are constant quarrels between the two, and they are so estranged that they will not live even in the same parts of the town, after the first flow of generous hospitality has passed over.
The Irish of London, as divided into Connaught and Munster Men.
The same bitter feeling exists among the Grecians themselves, if they come from different provinces in Ireland. The great mass of Irish in London are from Munster, and especially from the large counties of Cork and Kerry, the most populous parts of Ireland. But there are probably a fourth of Irish immigrants who come from the province of Connaught. These two almost invariably form separate colonies in the great metropolis, with but very little intermixture. Golden-lane is the chief Connaught colony. The old contentions between the different petty kingdoms of Ireland are not yet wholly calmed, and the bringing together of Irish from different provinces into one city does not exhibit them to advantage.
Immigration of Immoral Irish Women.
Another circumstance operates unfavourably on the class of the Irish in London as compared with the Irish in their [-305-] own country is, that in Ireland there is that regard to virtue in females that no man will marry them after they have once transgressed. Their prospect of marriage afterwards is entirely hopeless there. Nor would an illegitimate child in the family, or in the former generation, or even in the generation before that, give a female much chance. It is, therefore, a common practice for young women who have fallen from virtue to emigrate here, as their only hope, the state of morals here among the poor being far lower than there.
The Numbers of the Irish of London who can read English and Irish respectively estimated.
It is a common mistake to suppose that the Irish in London cannot read. This is by no means the case. Since the Government schools have been established, and the efforts of religious Societies have been enlarged, education in Ireland has become much more general, especially among the Roman Catholics; and the priests, who before opposed schools, have been brought to give their patronage to schools of a certain order, in which the scholars are, at all events, taught to read. The extent to which this is operating, even in the more Popish parts, is evident from the mere statement that these Government schools of Ireland were alone, in 1850, 4,548, which (as the number of parishes in Ireland is only 2,422), is nearly two schools to every parish, besides 124 workhouse schools. The Government schools, moreover, increase annually, although the population decreases. During that year they had increased 133, and the number of children had increased 30,616, making more than a million of children who were under instruction, by far the larger proportion of whom are Roman Catholic. Indeed, at the Training Establishment in Dublin, of 272 teachers who were that year being trained as school-masters and mistresses, 214 were Papists. And all this, it is to be [-306-] remembered, is additional to a great variety of other educational efforts, some of which are on a large scale. The consequence is, that there are very few of the Irish emigrants under 20 years of age who cannot read English, and of those above 20, the male population can now also very generally read. The reading of Irish is a higher advance in knowledge. Probably not more than a fourth of those who can read English can read Irish, although Irish is the language which this class ordinarily speak among themselves, and which they know much better than English. The Irish language is one of a somewhat learned character, and is decidedly more difficult than the English. This in itself clearly shows that the nation speaking it could not have been originally of an illiterate order. The peculiarity in Irish of spelling the words so differently to their pronunciation, and of altering the accents and inflexions in the different dialects of the different provinces, without altering the written word, adds to the difficulty of reading Irish in the Irish character. Fully as large a proportion, however, of the Irish of London, especially under 20 years of age, can read English, as of the English poor,-probably a larger proportion. For the purpose of avoiding the taking of Protestant tracts, the Irish will, however, feign that they cannot read them.
Irish Protestants possess more Scriptural Knowledge than English Protestants.
Among the Protestant portion of the Irish, there is also far more scriptural knowledge than among the English. The circumstances of Ireland obliging examination into the truths of the Gospel, and defence of them, have probably occasioned this, together with the much greater prevalence there than here of what is called in this country "evangelical preaching." In the examination of candidates for missionary [-307-] work in London, in connexion with the London City Mission, it has often been a matter of surprise to the author to observe how very much better ordinarily is the Irishman's knowledge of the Bible than the Englishman's. Speaking of candidates who have offered themselves as a body, unquestionably the Irish have been far better qualified, in their knowledge of the Bible, than the English themselves.
Extreme Ignorance on Scriptural Subjects of Irish Romanists, illustrated by Examples.
But the Irish professing the Romish faith are almost entirely without scriptural knowledge. It is estimated by the Irish missionaries of the London City Mission that scarcely more than 1 in 50 of the Irish immigrants when they arrive here, have ever even seen a Bible, or heard a page of its blessed truths, except those few portions which are made a part of the Romish service, unless they happen to come from the parts of Ireland in which the recent Reformation has taken place, or except they can read the Irish character. Nor is even this the worst. They come here only without a knowledge of, but with a most fearful prejudice against the Bible. Their religious ignorance is most pitiable indeed. One woman stated lately that she always thought the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary were the same. Another woman was heard to be actually cursing God for taking away her son. They will often speak of the Virgin's dreams as important to their future spiritual welfare. A woman recently affirmed, that she dreaded the curse of the priest far more than that of God Almighty. A man also stated, with all gravity, as what he knew, that the consecrated wafer was once impiously cut, and the whole house was at once deluged with blood. Another man stated, and evidently believed what he stated, that a letter was received by the Pope every Saturday [-308-] from our Lord Jesus Christ. And another man stated that the present Pope was a cousin of Jesus Christ's. These illustrations, which might easily be multiplied, will show how gross is their ignorance of the Scriptures, and what a reproach it is to us to allow them to remain at our doors uninformed, till perhaps they leave Europe altogether, with no more religious knowledge than when they first approached our shores.
The Irish, on arriving in London, rapidly lose their previous Religious Habits.
The Irish immigrants have been generally accustomed, while in
Ireland, to attend mass regularly, and to go to confession twice a-year. When
they reach London, many of them continue this habit for a time, but they
gradually become more and more remiss, and ordinarily, not being much looked
after, they soon almost wholly discontinue attention to religious duties. Even
for marriages and burials, although the former is held a sacrament, they resort,
in the vast majority of cases, to Protestant churches, finding this to be legally
of equal validity, disregarding the religious part of the ceremonies, and
concerning themselves simply with the secular part of the matter. An important
attraction also is that it is generally cheaper to them to resort for such
necessary purposes to the Protestant church than to the Romish chapel. For,
miserably poor as are the Irish here, and even still more poor as they are in
Ireland, they yet, even there, are ordinarily charged by their priests the
perfectly exorbitant sum, to persons in their station, of from 20s. to 25s. for
marriage, in addition to the voluntary offerings which are expected from all the
friends who attend the wedding, among whom a plate is passed round during the
ceremony, into which all are accustomed to drop something. Nor can any
circumstance more clearly [-309-] illustrate the unconcern of the Romish Church in the Irish
poor, than the almost entire absence of effort on its part to prevent their
resort to "stray folds" for such purposes, although, in Ireland, the
priests are accustomed constantly to impress on their flocks that parties thus
married are not married at all. There is, to the best of our knowledge,
scarcely a Romish burial-ground, accessible to the poor, in all London, for the
200,000 Irish pertaining to her communion. The visitation for religious purposes
among these classes by the Romish Church is, as with the Protestant Church,
chiefly lay. Sisters of mercy and persons of that description are much more
frequently met with than priests, and the visits of the latter are very seldom
from house to house, except for some special purpose, such as collecting money.
And yet Romish priests in London are numerous. They are probably about 150. In
the "Catholic Directory for 1853, in the so-called dioceses of Westminster
and Southwark, there are stated to be-priests, 187; churches and chapels, 112;
religious houses of men, viz., the Passionists, the Fathers of the Oratory, the
Marist Fathers, the Redemptorists, and the Oratorians, 5; convents for religious
women, 23. Of these latter establishments, 19 are in the metropolis, although
both the Romish dioceses of Westminster and Southwark have larger boundaries
than London itself, and comprise, in fact, the entire counties of Middlesex,
Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Kent, Sussex, Essex, and Hertfordshire. The
religious women from the convents (who are parties most frequently met with in
the houses of the poor) are of different Orders. The following are the names of
the Orders to which they pertain :-The Order of St. Benedict, the Order of the
Holy Sepulchre, the Order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Order of the
Good Shepherd, the Order of the Sacred Heart, the Order of Notre Dame, the Order
of the Sisters of Mercy, the Order of the [-310-] Ursulines, the Order of the Petits
Soeurs, the Order of Our Lady, the Orders of the Sisters of the Christian Retreat, the
Sisterhood of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and the Association of Filles du Coeur de Marie.
The following is a list of the principal Romish chapels in London and its environs in 1853. Foreign chapels are included in the list, because, as the sermon is only an occasional matter, and the rest of the service is alike in Latin in all the chapels, the Irish Romanists can make use frequently of the one with equal profit as the other. Where the date of the erection of the chapel is known, it is added
1820. St. Mary, Moorfields.
1841-48. St. George's Cathedral, St. George's-fields.
1809. St. Boniface, Great St. Thomas Apostle, Bow- lane, Cheapside. (German.)
St. Joseph, Lamb's-buildings, Bunhill-row.
1847-48. St. John the Baptist, Hackney.
SS. Mary and Michael, Virginia-street, Ratcliff-highway.
St. Ann's, Spicer-street, Spitalfields. (The Marist Fathers.)
1648. St. Anselm, Duke - street, Lincoln's -inn - fields. (Sardinian.)
St. Bridget, Baldwin's-gardens, Gray's-inn-lane. (Temporary chapel.)
1847. SS. Peter and Paul, Upper Rosoman-street, Clerkenwell
St. Patrick, Sutton-street, Soho.
The Oratory of St. Philip Neri, King William- street, Charing-cross.
Bavarian Chapel, Warwick - street, Golden- square.
Spanish Chapel, Spanish -place, Manchester- square.
[-311-] 1793. French Chapel, Little George-street, King-street, Portman-square.
1813. St. Mary, Romney-terrace, Marsham-street, Westminster~
Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm-street, Berkeley-square.
1812. St. Mary, Cadogan-terrace, Sloane-street.
St. Mary, Holland-street, Kensington.
1847-48. St. Thomas of Canterbury, Fulham.
SS. Helen and Mary, Sutherland-place, Bays-water.
1833-36. Our Lady's Church, Grove-road, St. John's-wood.
St. Joseph's Retreat, the Hyde, Edgware-road.
1816. St. Mary, Holly-place, Hampstead.
1847. St. Alexis, Gospel-terrace, Kentish-town.
1808. St. Aloysius, Clarendon-square, Somers-town.
1841-43. St. John the Evangelist, Duncan-terrace, Islington.
1818. St. Mary, Wade-street, Poplar.
1846. St. Edmund, Mill-wall, Isle of Dogs.
1826-27. St. Francis de Sale's Chapel, Chapel-place, White Hart-lane, Tottenham.
1815. SS. Patrick and Vincent de Paul, Stratford.
1848-49. St. George, Walthamstow.
1834-35. Trinity, Dockhead.
1852. Church of Our Immaculate Lady of Victories, Clapham.
1852. St. Mary Magdalene, Mortlake.
1841. St. Mary, Croydon.
St. Elizabeth's Vineyard, Richmond.
1847. St. Thomas of Canterbury, Wandsworth.
1842-43. St. Peter, Woolwich.
There are also various subordinate chapels. There are [-312-] also various convents, with chapels annexed, as at Norwood, Hammersmith, &c. The recent date of the erection of so many of these mass-houses shows the supineness of the Church of Christ. Additional chapels are in course of erection at Hammersmith, Kentish-town, Bayswater, Commercial-road, Poplar, and Barnet.
London considered by the Irish as an Infidel City, in which, without Loss of Character, they may live in the Neglect of all Religious Observances.
Others of the Irish immigrants regard London as an Infidel city, in which they may do what they please without reproach or damage to their character, and immediately on their arrival they throw off all restraint, and at once disregard their chapel and all the requirements of their religion. They even without scruple eat meat on Fridays, the same as on other days. Both these, and those before mentioned, in a short period have ordinarily arrived at the same point of all but Infidelity, and by the time they have become Irish Cockneys, no term is too bad to describe their character and habits. They run into every evil, become inmates of our gaols, and constitute a considerable part of our criminal population. These Cockneys are probably about a third of the Irish of London, and the Grecians constitute the remaining two-thirds. It is painful to reflect on what these two- thirds will almost inevitably become, at least those of them who remain in London, unless they are arrested in their downward course by religious instruction. Mr. Mayhew's remark on the comparative badness of Irish and English, when Irish have been here long enough, is correct. "I may here observe - in reference to the statement that Irish parents will not expose their daughters to the risk of what they consider corrupt influences - that when a young Irishwoman [-313-] does break through the pale of chastity, she often becomes, as I was assured, one of the most violent and depraved of, perhaps, the most depraved class." * (* "London Labour and the London Poor, vol. i., p. 109.)
The Prevalence of Drunkenness among the Irish and English compared.
Drunkenness is a sin to which the Irish, and especially this portion of the Irish, are much addicted. Not that as a whole the Irish in their own country are materially worse in this respect than the English, to our shame be it written. Although the very cheap price at which spirits may be obtained in Ireland presents a special temptation beyond what exists here, it yet does not appear from the statistical returns of spirits consumed as compared with the respective populations, that there is a very material difference. The Irish consume rather the more per head. But with them here, as in their own land, the practice differs from that of the English in this respect. The English who are addicted to drink ordinarily do so more or less habitually, if not day by day, at least as often as the weekly wages come in. But the Irish reserve themselves for special festivals, and special occurrences, when they indulge in intoxication to a most fearful extent, outraging all bounds of order and propriety, and sinking themselves into brutes instead of men. In London, the Irish on the whole are greater drunkards than even the English. Father Mathew's efforts have effected much good, but they are an entire exception to the apparent general unconcern of the priests here to check so very serious an evil.
The Rookeries are the Parts of London in which the Irish Chiefly dwell.
The parts of the metropolis in which the Irish are most [-314-] numerous, are in the neighbourhood of St. Giles's, Field-lane, Westminster, parts of Marylebone, Drury-lane, Seven- dials, East Smithfield, Wapping, Ratcliff the Mint in Southwark, and the crowded lanes and courts between Houndsditch and the new street in Whitechapel. In some of the outskirts there are also a considerable number. This is especially the case in West Ham, Deptford, Poplar, Plaistow, Kensington, Hammersmith, Fulham, Chelsea, Camberwell, and Greenwich. In fact, wherever in London what has expressively been called a "Rookery exists, we may be assured that it is inhabited by Irish. Where such a statement as the following can be made, "I have 12 families who live in a single room, and 10 families in another room; in general, a single room contains from 3 to 7 families,"* (* "London City Mission Magazine," November, 1851.) it may be with certainty concluded, that district is an Irish rookery. Our English poor will not live in that manner. The poverty, the quarrelling, the drunken disturbances, the dirt, and the excessive crowding together of the Irish, wherever they form a London colony, cause that they lower the character of every neighbourhood in which they settle, and landlords are often glad at length to refuse them as tenants, and to sweep them away. To a very great extent they remain distinct from the English, and but few intermarriages between the nations among the poor occur. While this may be a cause for thankfulness, so far as the English poor are concerned, it is at the same time a very great preventive of the benefit to the Irish, which they could scarcely fail of receiving from intimate association with the people of a Protestant nation. And it tends to make it the more important that they should receive the visits of Protestant missionaries and Scripture-readers. The separate congregating together of the Irish in London renders them also more easy to be reached in that manner.
The Occupations of the Irish of London.
The occupations of the Irish in London are various. For many years, the practice was for the Irish to come over to England to help in the harvest during the autumn, and then to return. But of late they have remained here. Mr. Mayhew reckons that 10,000 of the Irish in London are employed as costermongers. Almost all bricklayers' labourers are Irish. It is a matter of difficulty to get any Englishman to carry a hod. A large number of the Irish are employed in the docks. Very many also are employed by the water- side. In many of the classes connected with the lading and unlading of shipping, they constitute the largest portion. And great numbers leave London during the hay season, the hop season, or the harvest, and return when these are ended, to earn a miserable livelihood by any odd jobs which they can manage to obtain.
Especial Suitableness of Irish Scripture-readers and Missionaries for Irish Districts and the more Especial Facilities with which they may be obtained.
The greatest difficulty in imparting religious instruction efficiently to the working classes of London is in the obtaining of a sufficient number of properly-qualified readers and missionaries. These are more easy to obtain than they were a few years since. But the demand for them has increased in the same proportion. For imparting religious instruction to the Irish of London, Irish readers and missionaries are best adapted and most suitable, especially if they can speak the Irish language. Now it so happens that Ireland furnishes a large supply of valuable labourers, and the wants of London as to the Irish can therefore be more easily met than those of other classes. It might have been supposed that Scotland would have furnished more [-316-] religious labourers for such a work than Ireland. But such is far from being the case. Scotland has hitherto furnished very few, and Ireland very many, while those which Scotland does furnish, with very bright exceptions here and there, are not so generally acceptable to our poor. Nor can the circumstance be altogether lost sight of, that, with whatever freedom from party or sectarian teaching, a lay agent may labour, in this country there is a very large portion of its wealth in the hands of those who are scarcely at present prepared to support any other agency than that of the Established Church, and who when they resolve on aiding a mixed Society, such as that of the London City Mission, yet stipulate that the missionary supported by them shall be a Churchman. Now Irishmen from those parts of Ireland where emigration takes place, are almost all Churchmen. The exceptions are very few. And thus any feeling of preference or prejudice may without difficulty be met in the case of the Irish of London, while it is frequently difficult to comply with it, without sacrifice of objects far more important, as to other classes. The Irish of London are also undoubtedly less prejudiced against receiving Protestant visits than they were only 2 or 3 years since.
Let us look forward to the last great day. "All the outward tinsel which distinguishes man from man will then have vanished, and the only distinction be that which is real and inward and unchangeable. That will still remain. What if then, among the company of the saved, we should see a band gathered from the Irish in London? No longer clothed in rags-for they shall be arrayed in the spotless garment of the Redeemer's righteousness, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. No more to live in the dark back-room on which the day [-317-] never shines, but to dwell for ever in palaces of light beneath the broad beams of Christ, the Sun of heaven. Never again despised and trampled on,-but the peers of angels, and kings and priests unto God. 'They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more,' and instead of the dark alleys in which they now live, where nothing meets the eye but blackened walls and smoky chimneys - they shall gaze with rapture on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, and drink of its living fountains. And when from the whole of that vast multitude which encircles the throne, there ascends one united song of praise and thanksgiving, and men of every nation and people and tongue are sweeping their golden harps-those who in this London have never had the heart to touch the harp of their own Ireland, shall then be found among the harpers, thanking God for having snatched them out of Babylon, and swelling the chorus-' Glory be to Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb.'" * (* Garratt's "Irish in London.")
Wertheim and Macintosh, 24, Paternoster-row, London.