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Moore’s Captain Rock
by [?]

[Memoirs of Captain Rock, the celebrated Irish Chieftain; with some Account of his Ancestors. Written by Himself. Fourth Edition. 12mo. London, 1824.]

This agreeable and witty book is generally supposed to have been written by Mr. Thomas Moore, a gentleman of small stature, but full of genius, and a steady friend of all that is honourable and just. He has here borrowed the name of a celebrated Irish leader, to typify that spirit of violence and insurrection which is necessarily generated by systematic oppression, and rudely avenges its crimes; and the picture he has drawn of its prevalence in that unhappy country is at once piteous and frightful. Its effect in exciting our horror and indignation is in the long run increased, we think– though at first it may seem counteracted–by the tone of levity, and even jocularity, under which he has chosen to veil the deep sarcasm and substantial terrors of his story. We smile at first, and are amused, and wonder, as we proceed, that the humorous narrative should produce conviction and pity–shame, abhorrence, and despair.

England seems to have treated Ireland much in the same way as Mrs. Brownrigg treated her apprentice–for which Mrs. Brownrigg is hanged in the first volume of the Newgate Calendar. Upon the whole, we think the apprentice is better off than the Irishman; as Mrs. Brownrigg merely starves and beats her, without any attempt to prohibit her from going to any shop, or praying at any church her apprentice might select: and once or twice, if we remember rightly, Brownrigg appears to have felt some compassion. Not so Old England, who indulges rather in a steady baseness, uniform brutality, and unrelenting oppression.

Let us select from this entertaining little book a short history of dear Ireland, such as even some profligate idle member of the House of Commons, voting as his master bids him, may perchance throw his eye upon, and reflect for a moment upon the iniquity to which he lends his support.

For some centuries after the reign of Henry II., the Irish were killed like game, by persons qualified or unqualified. Whether dogs were used does not appear quite certain, though it is probable they were, spaniels as well as pointers; and that, after a regular point by Basto, well backed by Ponto and Caesar, Mr. O’Donnel or Mr. O’Leary bolted from the thicket, and were bagged by the English sportsman. With Henry II. came in tithes, to which, in all probability, about one million of lives may have been sacrificed in Ireland. In the reign of Edward I. the Irish who were settled near the English requested that the benefit of the English laws might be extended to them; but the remonstrance of the barons with the hesitating king was in substance this: “You have made us a present of these wild gentlemen, and we particularly request that no measures may be adopted to check us in that full range of tyranny and oppression in which we consider the value of such a gift to consist. You might as well give us sheep, and prevent us from shearing the wool, or roasting the meat.” This reasoning prevailed, and the Irish were kept to their barbarism, and the barons preserved their dive stock.

“Read ‘Orange faction’ (says Captain Rock) here and you have the wisdom of our rulers, at the end of near six centuries, in statu quo. The grand periodic year of the stoics, at the close of which everything was to begin again, and the same events to be all reacted in the same order, is, on a miniature scale, represented in the history of the English Government in Ireland, every succeeding century being but a new revolution of the same follies, the same crimes, and the same turbulence that disgraced the former. But ‘Vive l’ennemi!’ say I: whoever may suffer by such measures, Captain Rock, at least, will prosper.