A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. IV

By William Edward Hartpole Lecky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII.
IRELAND, 1778-1782.

THE modification of the Commercial Code and of the Popery Code are sufficient to make the year 1778 very memorable in Irish history. Another movement, however, which was even more important in its immediate consequences, may be dated from the same year. I mean, of course, the creation of the Irish Volunteers.

We have seen that in every war which had taken place since the Revolution, Ireland had been an assistance and not an embarrassment to England, and that, whatever may have been the faults of the Irish Parliament -- and they were many and great -- the English Government, at least, had no reason to complain of any want of alacrity, or earnestness, or liberality in supporting the military establishments. This, however, was partly due to the disturbed, half-civilised, and half-organised condition of the country, which had given the ascendant class a peculiar aptitude and taste for military life, and which rendered the presence of a considerable armed force necessary for the security of the country. Outrages like those of the Whiteboys, the Oakboys, and the Steelboys could not be otherwise repressed, and in the wilder parts of the country soldiers were often required to discharge ordinary police functions. It was an old complaint that in time of war Ireland had often been left almost unprotected, and it was an old desire of the country gentlemen that a permanent militia should be organised which would be less expensive than regular troops, and equally efficient in maintaining internal tranquillity. Bills to this effect more than once passed the Irish House of Commons. Lord Townshend, though seeing some difficulties in the way of the scheme,

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A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. IV
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents of the Fourth Volume v
  • Chapter XIV 1
  • Chapter XV 205
  • Chapter XVI - IRELAND, 1760-1778. 312
  • Chapter XVII - IRELAND, 1778-1782. 481
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