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The social conditions brought about by the events already referred to, gave added importance to the new prosody, and to the scéal. With the necessity for popular appeal, the old syllabic verse structure gave way to a metrical scheme which appealed to the ear. The history of this new metre is uncertain, though there are some who find for it an origin in the poems of Alaster Rua Macleod.1

Social conditions are, perhaps, likewise the cause of the importance of the scéal in eighteenth-century literature. A society such as is found in eighteenth-century Irish-speaking Ireland finds its main outlet for intellectual enjoyment in the scéal. It is the literature of the fireside. The scéal and the new metre might, perhaps, be regarded as old heritages assuming a new and important rôle owing to the coming of social conditions and circumstances which encouraged their development and the extension of their usage. For there has existed from the earliest period of Irish literature traces of a free metre, and the modern scéal, though it may in part represent the dissolution of the early saga, yet may be regarded as a thoroughly independent form of literature.

The scéal, like the early saga, has poetry introduced throughout the prose. Whilst this introduction of poetry might be structural in the saga, in the scéal, it appears to be merely artistically intertwined throughout the narrative. The scéal thus, in a sense, resembles Elizabethan prose fiction, and the lyricism of Irish eighteenth-century poetry resembles in some respects the lyric note of the age of Elizabeth. Both the Elizabethan and Irish lyric had (independent of their connexion with prose) a great development, by reason of the fact that such lyric was often wed to music which is of singular charm. Carolan's fame as a musician has reached beyond the shores of Ireland, and Moore has considerably aided in making the song-gift of the race known on the continent of Europe and throughout the English-speaking world. But in order to realize the real charm of eighteenth-century lyric as set to music, one must listen to it as it is sung, for example, in the vales of Desmond by those who are the true heirs to its traditional interpretation and rendering.

Though Irish literature is predominantly represented in the eighteenth century by the lyric and the scéal, yet it received variety from the longer poems of such as Merriman

1 See E. Hull, New Ireland Review, March, 1903, p. 58.

and Macnamara, from religious prose and verse, Osianic poetry, satire, and anecdote. In the previous century, marked though it was by wars and confiscations, Irish literature showed few signs of decay. The contention of the bards awoke a host of defenders of the native literature, and amidst the wreck of Irish society was wrought the work of the Four Masters, MacFirbis, Keating, and MacAingil among prose writers, and of Feiritér, O Heoghusa, Macan Bhaird, O Caoimh, O Donnchadha, and O Bruadair among poets. The subsequent decay of so virile a literature must find its explanation in history.

There are two tendencies to error in regard to Irish literature and language: one is to attribute their decay entirely to the invader, the other is to forget the people's own occasional want of interest in the survival of both. There were among the English-particularly among the old English in Ireland-those who favoured the Irish speech, just as there were those among the Irish people who favoured English, and who, to use a phrase of O Bruadair's, dashed 'off in mad career to Leinster." That such should have been the case is in accordance with reason, for ambitious, talented, energetic men will ever leave weak causes because they do not procure for them preferment and scope. It is to such as these that Conell MaGeoghegan refers, when, as early as 1627, addressing Terence Coghlan, he remarked in regard to the chroniclers:

and now because they cannot enjoy that respect and gain by their said profession as heretofore they and their ancestors received, they set nought by the said knowledge, neglect their books, and choose rather to put their children to learn English than their own native language, insomuch that some of them suffer tailors to cut the leaves of the said books (which their ancestors held in great account) and sew them in long pieces to make their measures of, so that the posterities are like to fall into more ignorance of any things which happened before their time.3

This tendency to abandon Irish was hastened by the confiscations, until even in the western counties a bilingualism, tending to a total suppression of Irish, became common. The survival of Irish literature became equally endangered, both by reason of the decline of the language and the fact that there were to be found few patrons of Irish literary effort. This lack of patronage made the poets

1 The Poems of David O Bruadair, ed. MacErlain, p. 73.
2 H. Belloc, Lingard, History of England, vol. xi. p. 171.
3 The Annals of Clonmacnoise, ed. Murphy.

turn to the people for support. They thus became the
poets of the people, voicing their fears and hopes, sharing
their joys and sorrows. A knowledge of Irish literature is
essential to the understanding of
the understanding of eighteenth-century
Ireland, for the poems of such as O Rahilly reveal an
Ireland which Swift and Berkeley saw with imperfect
vision. The latter knew of life within the Pale, but of
Irish life proper they only beheld the exterior, and the
extent to which the life of the Pale tended to chequer it.
It is an Irish poet who tells in a few words the real trend
and effect of this penetration of the non-native element
on the Irish social fabric, and on the old culture :-

The O'Doherty is not holding sway, nor his noble race;
The O'Moores are not strong, that once were brave-
O'Flaherty is not in power, nor his kinsfolk,

And sooth to say, the O'Briens have long since become English.1 Apart from this destruction of the native society and culture, English influence, owing to the Revolution, which established an oligarchical system of government, was also detrimental from an economic point of view. The Walpole administration pursued through the medium of such as Boulter a narrow and destructive policy, a policy which suppressed all activity in a high degree among the Irish. When the mass of a nation finds its path to political power and higher social life blocked, it sometimes seeks selfexpression by way of literature. That the Irish found self-expression in literature in the eighteenth century is in no way surprising, for no other outlet worthy of the race was available, except in so far as some emigrants fought in the foreign armies of France and Spain. This aspect of Irish life was noted by Berkeley in A Word to the Wise :

Perhaps it will be said, the discouragements attending those of your Communion are a bar against all endeavours for exciting them to a laudable industry. Men are stirred up to labour by the prospect of bettering their fortunes, by getting estates, or employments; but those who are limited in the purchase of estates, and excluded from all civil employments, are deprived of those spurs to industry. To this it may be answered, that, admitting these considerations do in some measure damp industry and ambition in persons of rank, yet they can be no let to the industry of poor people, or supply an argument against endeavouring to procure meat, drink, and clothes. 2

Bishop Berkeley in these words expressed an attitude

1 The Poems of Egan O Rahilly, ed. Dinneen (I.T.S.).

2 The Works of George Berkeley, vol. iii. p. 392, ed. Sampson.

towards the problem of Irish life which is dominant among those who seek for a solution along purely economic lines. The Celt was regarded for the most part as forming one class, reduced to wage-earning, and incapable of rising to a position of wealth or of command. But a complete closing up of all the avenues to wealth was, by reason of the circumstances of the times, impossible, and events served to prevent the complete realization of such schemes as Boulter's. In the midst of economic decay, and amidst circumstances the most depressing, what surprises one is the insistency with which the poets of the eighteenth century still continued to voice the national sentiment.

But this expression of Irish nationality did not confine Irish literature to merely patriotic themes; rather is it a fact that Irish literature is, in the eighteenth century, an expression of life in some of its gayest and sprightliest moods. But the gay, irresponsible note may be thought to pervade it too much, and it must be remembered that joy and mirth are often in the case of the oppressed but a cloak to sorrow-the tricks of a broken heart."

The early eighteenth century in Ireland cannot, even almost from any point of view, be regarded as bright. For the native Irish the period was one of gloom, since they were reduced to impotency. The new planters were not of the kind whom the Irish formerly made more Irish than themselves-the Geraldines, the Norman, and the oldEnglish families. It was difficult for the Irish to coalesce with the newcomers, and O Bruadair represents an early instance of the native contempt for what was strange and upstart in the new colonists. Indeed, the cynicism of Swift2 and the remarks of Stewart in regard to the planters, give ample proof that O Bruadair's attitude was in a great measure justified, for, to a large extent, the newcomers were mere adventurers. Ireland, during the eighteenth century, was plagued with the lawlessness of its minor gentry, a class whose property was not derived from the accumulated savings of industrious ancestors, but from violent and recent confiscations.'4 The life of these minor landowners reacted on Irish life in general, and was not

1 Hon. Emily Lawless, in With the Wild Geese.

2 Swift, Political Tracts.

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3 Lecky, History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, vol. i. pp. 22-23. 4 Ibid. p. 288.

without its effect on Irish literature, by introducing into it the note which, above all others, would have been best omitted-the absence, at times, of due restraint. Lecky has given a vivid description of a society whose tendons were cut by reason of the fact that the title-deeds of the new landowners were founded on confiscation. The people could not regard them as their natural leaders, they rather regarded them as their natural enemies. 'Chesterfield,' wrote Lecky, 'who as Lord Lieutenant studied the conditions of Irish life with more than ordinary care, left it as his opinion that "the poor people in Ireland are used worse than negroes by their lords and masters, and their deputies of deputies of deputies." " Absenteeism for the most part cut off the larger landlords from direct contact with the mass of the people, and it is to the influence of the minōr gentry and of the middlemen that we must, in consequence, turn in order to find the most immediate cause for the miserable state of Irish life in the early eighteenth century.

At a time when in England economical causes were steadily weeding out the poorer and less cultivated members of the squierarchy, and replacing them by large landlords, the tendency in Ireland was precisely opposite. Abseenteism drew away a great part of the richer landlords, while the middlemen rapidly multiplied. A hybrid and ambiguous class, without any of the solid qualities of the English yeomen, they combined the education and manners of farmers with the pretensions of gentlemen, and they endeavoured to support those pretensions by idleness, extravagance, and ostentatious arrogance. Men who in England would have been modest and laborious farmers, in Ireland sublet their land at rackrents, kept miserable packs of half-starved hounds, wandered about from fair to fair and from race to race in laced coats, gambling, fighting, drinking, swearing... parading everywhere their contempt for honest labour, giving a tone of recklessness to every society in which they moved. . . . They were the chief agents in agrarian tyranny, and their pernicious influence on manners, in a country where the prohibition of manufactures had expatriated the most industrious classes and artificially checked the formation of industrial habits, can hardly be over-rated. They probably did more than any other class to sustain that race of extravagance which ran through all ranks above the level of a cottier, and that illiberal and semi-barbarous contempt for industrial pursuits, which was one of the greatest obstacles to national progress. False ideals, false standards of excellence, grew up among the people, and they came to look upon idleness and extravagance as noble things, upon parsimony, order, and industry as degrading to a gentleman.2

The evils of such a class weighed heavily upon the country, but in addition to that, the people regarded them

1 Lecky, History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, vol. i. p. 285.

2 Ibid. pp. 292-294.

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