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And lastly, the work published herewith, and now nearly out of print, there being but very few copies disengaged, viz., “ The History of Ireland, from the earliest period to the year 1245, when · The Annals of Boyle,' which are adopted as the running text authority, terminate."
All these labours have been undertaken with the object of promoting the knowledge of Ireland. Remuneration might have been hoped for, indemnity was alone required. To guarantee impartiality and calm narration, it has been the compiler's sedulous care, to withdraw himself from the electricity of politics, and he relies, that an inspection of his productions will justify what many have reproached as a culpable neutrality; that inspection will, however, also satisfy the public, that no man, however ardent his inclination, and sincere his patriotism, can, in prudence, continue the publication of such works without national or other liberal support, it is, therefore, with regret, that he feels himself compelled here to decline any further prosecution of labours, so almost gratuitous, unless such sanction be afforded, necessary at all times for this class of works, but more especially so, where, in legal parlance, the venue is laid in Ireland.
So much has this necessity been felt by some noble and influential individuals, that they recently, with a commendable national feeling, besought the Government to connect the Irish Ordnance Surveys, with “ Historical, Statistical, and Antiquarian researches.” A committee of the House of Commons was thereupon appointed to inquire, amongst other subjects, on the expediency of such a measure, and by them accordingly were witnesses from Ireland examined upon that question, and inquiries directed as to what works of Irish topography had been hitherto published, and what resources were available for their continuance. The writer regrets, that, in justice to his present subject, he feels obliged to remark, his attendance on this occasion was neither suggested nor sought, nor were his printed works, or well-known collections for the illustration of his country, even alluded to by the Irish wit
On the contrary, his “ History of the County of Dublin,” of which a large impression had circulated five years previously, was strangely omitted in a list, that his own publisher was requested to furnish to the Committee, and in which were to be specified all the existing histories of “ Irish Localities;” while another witness, who was personally examined (the Rev. Dr. Todd(a)), gave it as his opinion, that " a County History could not be rightly compiled by an individual;" that, in truth, it should be the compilation as of a joint-stock company, under the supervision of one staff, or, as another of the witnesses expressed himself, in respect to that of the Ordnance, “ under the advantageous direction of military discipline!” The Committee did not, however, coincide with these views; they knew, that, under the encouragement of individual exertions, and in the absence of monopoly, Ormerod's “ Cheshire,” Baker's “Northamptonshire,” Clutterbuck’s “ Hertfordshire,” Shaw's “Staffordshire,” and the histories of other counties in England, too numerous to mention here, have flourished and done honour to their authors and patrons. Nor are there wanting, as the writer is prepared to shew, materials to render those of Irish counties, certainly not so replete with classic associations, but reasonably interesting in the peculiar political revolutions, the family vicissitudes, the scenery and resources of the country; but their details cannot be brought out with such a mass of records, such a dignity of size, such an attractiveness of correct embellishments, such an array of notes and authorities, such substantial pedigrees and valuable
(a) This gentleman has, nevertheless, since made the above “ History of the County of Dublin” the subject of unmerited and frivolous cavils, by an indiscreet appropriation of space in the last of the Irish Archæological Tracts. Such comments, however, should not be reciprocated; but having been ill-advisedly put forth in an Irish newspaper, they necessitated a refutation, which appeared in the Dublin Freeman's Journal of the 3rd March last. Indeed the gentleman's evidence on the above-mentioned Commission, as printed in the Parliamentary Report, sufficiently testifies his aptitude to denounce every antiquarian as in error, who dissents from his dogmas. These allusions are here intruded with sincere reluctance, and only in self-defence, and deference to the influential circulation, which the Irish Archæological Society's Tracts should command.
statistics, as only the exclusive application of the author's time, and the liberal co-operation and support of a noble and wealthy resident proprietary, can effectuate; where, therefore, as in Ireland, that support cannot be so generally obtained, it must and should be extended by any government, wishing to promote the arts of peace and the diffusion of literature. To achieve these noble objects let its honours and rewards be directed to stimulate individual exertion, impartially to encourage the interests of literature, to aid such colleges or local authorities, as may assert a proud desire to trace the footsteps of history through the country of their fortunes and their families, and thus hallow with the eloquence of such intellectual associations, the lovely scenery of their native land; but ruinous to the cause were the policy, that could seek to sanction combination, to incorporate monopoly, or embarrass the free course of history, by a compulsory confederacy of authors and subjects. With such a conviction the Committee so appointed unanimously negatived any advantage from connecting antiquarian and historic researches with the surveys, and certainly, if the “ Ordnance Memoir of Londonderry,” which was published as an auspice of what that union could effect, were taken into their consideration, it must eminently evince, how the circulation of a scientific work of merit can be retarded by a partnership like this. “Such a union,” said the Committee,
we are persuaded, would'tend but little to economy, and that little would, in all probability, be only attained by a sacrifice of accuracy and completeness; it would be better not to undertake the investigations at all, than to run any such risk."
Before concluding, in reference to this Parliamentary Commission, it may excite some surprise, that at this age there should be directed to the witnesses, in relation to the policy of publishing Irish Histories, such questions as “Do you suppose there are any parties in Ireland, with whom the study of Irish antiquities is unpopular?” “Do you think there is any danger, that the use made of Irish documents may have a tendency to revive political animosities?” Yet is it too true, that from the civil wars, confiscations, and political transfers of property in Ireland, and the dispensations that unhappily arrayed the deadly opponents by religious distinctions, repulsions and jealousies were engendered, which have fatally retarded the advance of the country. An Englishman cannot conceive how“ political animosities” could be revived, in the nineteenth century, by the suggestion of what fired the young blood of the sixteenth; as well might he inherit a hatred to his neighbour, because their ancestors had conflicted in the wars of the Roses. “ The historian of Scottish events," as the writer has heretofore remarked, “ encounters political junctures, that in their time were equally productive of national disunion; but the Caledonian is no longer exasperated by their fullest details, they were the workings of a conflict gone by. The master spirit of their chronicles has fearlessly projected the most heart-stirring conflicts of those feudal times, and his countrymen more than participate with the literary world in the chivalry of his narrative, and the classic interest he has shed over every scene he touched.” In Ireland, those feelings of repulsion have unhappily existed within such a recent period, as to justify the interrogatories alluded to; but, while any possible apprehensions, as regards the stability of property, are morally relieved by a reflection on the various relations by which purchase, marriage, tenancy, and such interests, have consolidated the old and new proprietary, and yet more legally dissipated by modern enactments of limitation, any other fears as of “ political animosity,” which induced these remarks, may be considered as, under the wisdom, power, and goodness of expectant legislation, about to be extinguished for ever.
The writer of this article has here but to add, that the indexes and compilations, of which he has given the details above, are open to inspection, and that he is prepared, while life, health, and professional avocations permit, to make them available for the service of his country; if they are not early adopted he cannot but fear, that “ the Catalogue” will be little more than the bill of lading of a ship“ that has gone down at sea.”
THE BARONY OF BOYLE.
Boyle, within whose abbey the “ Annals,” here selected for publication, were compiled, and which has, consequently, induced the next ensuing pages of introductory local notice, appears to have derived its appellation from the Irish radix“ boilg,” whose signification of “ bubbling water" well applies to the rapid, rippling current, with which its river hurries through the town; and that name it communicates to the barony, manor, and parish in which it is situated.
The barony, which comprises the northern part of the County Roscommon, was defined by Strafford's Survey(a) as containing 13 parishes, subdi
(a) In thus referring to Strafford's Survey, it must be understood that the original surveys and abstracts, taken by this talented despot on the Connaught Inquisitions, perished in the great fire of the Record Repositories, near Dublin Castle, in 1711. Copies, or, at least, Constats, were however necessarily kept in the several counties surveyed, and their acreable returns were traditionVOL. I.