The Irish Rebellion of 1641, with a History of the Events Which Led Up to and Succeeded It by Lord Ernest Hamilton

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Lord Ernest Hamilton
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The Irish Rebellion of 1641, with a History of the Events Which Led Up to and Succeeded It

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Book review

From the preface: "In a history which gives precedence to the affairs of Ulster a mere superficial survey of the events which more than any others have helped to shape the destinies of the province would be an absurdity. For the first time, therefore, the main incidents of the rising have been ranged in chronological order and presented as a complete story. These incidents furnish a very dreadful picture, but it is a picture which cannot be avoided unless truth is to be designedly pushed out of sight and romance substituted for history. If any good resulted from such a course it would be justified and might even be desirable; but it is quite certain that good does not arise from it on the contrary, much evil. Where, in the written history of a country, the balance of rights and wrongs is purposely upset, a false perspective is created which cannot fail to work mischievously. No matter to what extent British historians, from a mistaken sense of generosity, may suppress certain events in Irish history which reflect discredit on the native race, it is quite certain that the same will never be done on the other side. There is not, and never will be, any suppression of similar facts which reflect discredit on the British. These are mercilessly made the most of. As a result it comes about that the native, or Celtic, Irish, from their earliest childhood, are fed on legends which their ancestors are depicted as the inoffensive victims of English tyranny. These legends are taken seriously and are believed. The passions of the rising generation are inflamed by the harrowing pictures drawn of injuries inflicted hi the past, and undying hatred of England follows. There is no disposition to probe into the truth of these romances; they rank as dogma. It inevitably follows that the truth, when plainly put, has all the appearance of a malicious libel, and as such is bitterly resented. Nevertheless, it is certain that a country, no less than a man or woman, must know itself before it can claim the right to judge others. Nor is there any reason that self-knowledge should bring with it any sense of humiliation. The 1641 massacres are no greater slur on the Irish nation than the Reign of Terror is on the French nation or Bolshevism on Russia as a whole. All three represent the temporary ascendancy of the brute element. The chief indictment against the better-class Irish of the seventeenth century is one of moral cowardice in shrinking from the suppression of outrages of which they at heart disapproved. Many did splendid work in rescuing the hunted British, but none had the courage to stand up to and punish the ruffians who ruled society."

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