Ireland, lifting herself from the dust, drying her tears, and proudly demanding her legitimate place among the nations of the earth, is a spectacle to cause immense progress in political philosophy.
Behold a nation whose fame had spread over all the earth ere the flag of England had come into existence. For 500 years her life has been apparently extinguished. The fiercest whirlwind of oppression that ever in the wrath of God was poured upon the children of disobedience had swept over her. She was an object of scorn and contempt to her subjugator. Only at times were there any signs of life--an occasional meteor flash that told of her olden spirit--of her deathless race. Degraded and apathetic as this nation of Helots was, it is not strange that political philosophy, at all times too Sadducean in its principles, should ask, with a sneer, "Could these dry bones live?" The fulness of time has come, and with one gallant sunward bound the "old land" comes forth into the political day to teach these lessons, that Right must always conquer Might in the end--that by a compensating principle in the nature of things, Repression creates slowly, but certainly, a force for its overthrow.
Had it been possible to kill the Irish Nation, it had long since ceased to exist. But the transmitted qualities of her glorious children, who were giants in intellect, virtue, and arms for 1500 years before Alfred the Saxon sent the youth of his country to Ireland in search of knowledge with which to civilize his people,--the legends, songs, and dim traditions of this glorious era, and the irrepressible piety, sparkling wit, and dauntless courage of her people, have at last brought her forth like. Lazarus from the tomb. True, the garb of the prison or the cerements of the grave may be hanging upon her, but "loose her and let her go" is the wise policy of those in whose hands are her present destinies.
A nation with such a strange history must have some great work yet to do in the world. Except the Jews, no people has so suffered without dying.
The History of Ireland is the most interesting of records, and the least known. The Publishers of this edition of D'Arcy McGee's excellent and impartial work take advantage of the awakening interest in Irish literature to present to the public a book of high-class history, as cheap as largely circulating romance. A sale as large as that of a popular romance is, therefore, necessary to pay the speculation. That sale the Publishers expect. Indeed, as truth is often stranger than fiction, so Irish history is more romantic than romance. How Queen Scota unfurled the Sacred Banner. How Brian and Malachy contended for empire. How the "Pirate of the North" scourged the Irish coast. The glories of Tara and the piety of Columba. The cowardice of James and the courage of Sarsfield. How Dathi, the fearless, sounded the Irish war-cry in far Alpine passes, and how the Geraldine forayed Leinster. The deeds of O'Neil and O'Donnell. The march of Cromwell, the destroying angel. Ireland's sun sinking in dim eclipse. The dark night of woe in Erin for a hundred years.