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debtor who was unable to pay is described in the Fourth Pook of Kings, where we find the poor widow appealing to the Prophet Eliseus, and telling him “that the creditor is coming to take away her two sons to serve him,” that is, to be made the creditor's slaves or bonds
The same mode of procedure is still more clearly exhibited in various passages of the Scriptures of the new law, and particularly in the beautiful parable in the 18th of St. Matthew, where our Redeemer speaks of the king to whom one of his subjects owed ten thousand talents,—“And as he bad not wherewith
to pay, his lord had
commanded that he should be sold, del
and his wife and children, and all tbat he had.” From a subsequent passage of the same parable we learn, that the merciful king cancelled the entire debt of ten thousand talents, and that the ingrate to whom' he had acted so benevolently, no sooner found himself freed from all obligation than he seized on the person of a poor man who owed him a paltry sum, for non-payment of which “ he cast him into prison.” The period of imprisonment for debt, as we learn from Josephus, did rot exceed seven years, for it was usual to release all debtors in the seventh or sabbatic year. The Mosaic Jaw, moreover, made a special provision in favour of the insolvent debtor, and ordained that the creditor should not be empowered to make a seizure on those things which were absolutely for the debtor's existence. Thus, as we learn from the book of Deuteronomy, the creditor was forbidden to carry off the quern, or handmill, without which the debtor could not provide food for himself or family, and the same authority gives us to understand that the creditor cannot at his own option enter the house of the debtor and carry away whatever he liked as an equivalent for the sum to which he was entitled. The law on this head is clearly laid down in the following passages :-“When thou shalt demand anything of thy neighbour that he oweth thee, thou shalt not go into his house to take away a pledge, but thou shalt stand without, and he shall bring out to thee what he hath. But, if he be poor, “the pledge shall not rest with thee that night, but thou shalt resiore it to bim before the going down of the sun, that he may sleep in bis own raiment and bless thee.” From these passages it is clear that the law contemplated these things—the bed and bedclothes, for example, without which the debtor could not exist. But if it he asked what object the legislator had in view wben enforcing the restitution of a “pledge” to the debtor in the course of a few hours after the latter had given it to his creditor, we may answer that this reguJation was imposed in order to stimulate the industry of the one and to repress the avarice and cupidity of the other. A sense of shame and secrecy would doubtless have due weight with the debtor wben he found himself exposed to the alternative of seeing bis furniture, day after day, carried out of his house before bis neighbours; and perhaps the creditor seeing his debtor reduced to such extremity, might be moved to deal more mercifully with him.
As for the manner in which the Roman laws of the
Twelve Tables dealt with insolvents, we need hardly say that its way in every respect far less merciful and lepient than the Mosaic ordinances which, as we bave seen, extended protection to the unfortunate debtor. In fact, the Roman law decreed that the debtor should not be arrested till an entire month had elapsed after his bill or bond bad become due, and this provision was made in order that the debtor might have time to make up the amount for which he was liable. At the expiration of the month, however, if the creditors were not paid, ihey were empowered to seize the person of the debtor and load his feet with chains. During the period of his detention in prison, two months were al. lowed the insolvent to come to some agreement wib the creditor, and in this interval the former was led thrice a day into the public market square, where, in presence of the Prætor, and the crowd always fouod in such places, the creditor proclaimed by a crier the amount of his victim's liability, hoping, no doubt, that some compassionate individual or individuals would collect as much as might be required to liquidate the debt. In case this did not succeed, the insolvent was either banished out of Rome or handed over to the creditors, who, if they were merciless, might, if they were so minded, hew the unfortunate insolvent into pieces, and distribute the fragments of his body among them, according to a certain regulation made and provided for such contingency. Be it told to their credit, however, that fond as the Romans were of bloody spectacles, they never availed themselves of such a privilege. Aulus Gellius, who flourished about the year 130, is explicit on this subject, and states that he never heard of any insolvent being treated so barbarously.-“Dissectum esse antiquitus neminem equidem neque legi neque audivi.”-A fact, Lowever, narrated by Livy in the eighth book of the first decade, brought about a remarkable change in the Roman law regarding debtor and creditor, and ultimately stripped the latter of the power of putting the insolvent to death. A certain Caius Publius, says the great historian, gave bimself up to a usurer damed Papirius, for a debt contracted by his father ; and as the usurer could not by threats or promises prevail on Publius to commit certain acts repugnant to humanity, he scourged him so cruelly that the sight of the unfortunate man’s bleeding back and shoulders excited everyone to compassion and indignation. In a word the people besieged the senate house, and appealed to the senators as they were passing, protesting vociferously against a law which empowered any scoundrel like Papirius to set at defiance all laws of common decency. The appeal was too energetic and demonstrative not to be heard, and thenceforth it was enacted that no Roman citizen should be chained or fettered unless for some criminal offence; and it was also decided that instead of arresting the person of a debtor, the creditor should be empowered to seize his goods and chattels proportionally to the amount of the debt. Thus were the doors of the insolvent jails throwo open in Rome, and thus were debtors emancipated from the tyranny of their creditors.
" I look into the Past that laid
The greatness of the land ; Out from the clouds of years is thrust
A labourer's horny hand. It built the palace, it dug the field,
It launched the reeling shipEarth's benediction lights its palm,
And the world is in its grip.
“Dare I to love? Yes, heart and soul.
Is love a thing of casteA luxury of dainty souls,
Warm wooers, loose and fast ?
To love is only human ;
Of one most perfect woman.
“Do I pretend to blood or birth,
Or broad heraldic spoil ? Do I deny I gather bread
From the roaring mill of toil ? Hard band, brown forebead, panting brain,
These are mine heritageGreat arms, that lift unto the stars
The level of the age. “ Well, I am poor.
You taste the fruits
Dine daily on a chop.
Of vintage red and ripe ;
And smoke an honest pipe.
And the iron anvils ring ;
And wields them like a king.
“Hurk, from the shattered vessel's poop,
The work-bell calls away ;
CAVIARE. LITERARY NOTICE.
THE MANUSCRIPT MATERIALS OF ANCIENT
“ In the first place," he says, “ must be enumerated the Cuilmenn; the Saltair of Tara; the Cin Droma Sneachta; the Book of St. Mochta ; the Book of Cuana ; the Book of Dubhdaleithe; and the Saltair of Cashel. Besides these we find mention of the Leabhar buidhe Slaine, or Yellow Book of Slane; the original Leabhar na h-L'idhre; the Books of Eochaidh O'Flannigan; a certain book known as the Book eaten by the poor People in the Desert; the Book of Inis an Duin ; the Short Book of St. Buithe's Monastery (or Monasterboice); the Books of Flann of the same monastery; the Book of Flann of Dungeimhin (Dungiven, Co. Derry); the Book of Dun da Leth Ghlas (or Downpatrick); the Book of Doire (or Derry); the Book of Sabhall Phatraic (or Saul, Co. Down); the Book of the Vachongbhail (Navan probably); the Leabhar dubh Molaga, or Black Book of St. Molaga ; the Leabhar buidhe Moling, or Yellow Book of St. Moling; the Leahluar buidhe Mhic Murchadha, or Yellow Book of Mac Murrach ; the Leabhar Arda Macha, or Book of Armagh (quoted by Keating); the Leabhar ruadh Mhic Atdhagain, or Red Book of Mac Aegan ; the Leabhar breac Mhic Aedhagain, or Speckled Book of Mac Aegan ; the Leabhar
fada Leithghlinne, or Long Book of Leithlin ; the Books of O'Scoba of Cluain Mhic Nois (or Clonmaenois); the Duil Droma Ceata, or Book of Drom Ceat ; and the Leabhar Chluana Sost, or Book of Clonsost (in Leix, in the Queen's County)” (p. 20.)
All who are even slightly acquainted with the revival and progress of Irish Literature in recent years are aware of the important position which Professor O’Curry has filled in relation to it. His profound researches among our ancient manuscripts is an interesting fact with which no literary Irishman is unacquainted; and his incessant labors in deciphering, transcribing, investigating and translating these most rare and important, and, except to very few indeed besides him: elf, most inaccessible ains of our literary antiquities, have rendered his name famous, far beyond the limits of our own country. We may truly say that his name is identified with these ancient MSS. ; nor in saying this do we subtract in the least from the merit of that profound scholar and living cyclopædia of Irish history and topography, Dr. O'Donovan, whose colleague Professor O’Curry has been for so many years in so many historical labours. For almost a whole lifetime Mr. O'Curry has devoted himself, heart and soul, and we might say, day and night, to these MSS. ; and with such study and (x} erience on his part, and the high intellectual powers and sterling honesty of purpose which we know him to possess, any production of his pen on this, his peculiar subject, must necessarily be of great weight and value. We looked forward to such a work with avidity, and our anticipations have not been disappointed on its appearance.
To have elicited from such a source the amount of authentic information which we find in the volume of Lectures now before us, and to have given it to the world, is certainly one of the efforts of the Catho. lic University of Ireland most worthy of that national institution.
The order in which Professor O’Curry handles the vast and complicated mass of materials with which he had to deal, is lucid and natural. In his opening leciure he treats of the “lost books,” many of which were in the hands of the compilers of our existing annals, and which may le regarded as the very founda tion of our ancient history. The enumeration of these, lesides the numerous historical manuscripts wbich we still possess, may well fill the reader with amazement at the copious resources which bave existed from most hemote tin.es for our primitivo bistory. Of the books mentioned in our early records, and of which we have now no further knowledge, our author gives the following list, at the same time assuring ns, that he does not profess to enumerate in it all the missing manuscripts :
* Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History, delivered at the Catholic University of Ireland during the sessions of 1855 and 1856, by Eugene O'Curry, M.R.I.A., Professor of Irish History and Archäology in the Catholic University, &c.; Svo. 722 PP: James Duffy, 7, Wellington-quay, Dublin, and 22, Paternoster-row, London.
Our author gives some interesting particulars about several of these lost MSS. The Cuilmenn, or " great book written on skins," would appear to bave been a very ancient historical repertory, which was carried to Letha or Italy, by some one called the Saoi, or pro. fessor, probably about the time of St. Patrick. It is referred to in connexion wish the original account of the Tain bo Chuailgne, or Cattle Spoil of Cuailgne, which our author regards as by far the most important of our Ancient Historic Tales. The Saltair or Psalter of Tara was composed by the celebrated monarch of Ireland, Cormac Mac Art, in the third century, and is referred to as his composition by the distinguished scholar and poet, Cuan O'Lochain, who died in the year 1024. Of the Saltair of Cashel, which was compiled by Cormac Mac Cullinan, King of Munster and Archbishop of Cashel, who was killed in the year 903, some portion still remains, being all of it that could be deciphered in the year 1454, when it was copied by Shane O'Clery for Mac Richard Butler, of Ormond. This fragment is now preserved in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Referring to this lost book, Professor O'Curry says:
" If, as there is every reason to believe, the ancient compilation, so well known as Cormac's Glossary, was compiled from the interlined gloss to the Saltair, we may well feel that its loss is the greatest we have suffered, 0 numerous are the references and citations of history, law, romance, druidism, mythology, and other subjects in which this glossary abounds. It is besides invaluable in the study of Gaedhlic comparative philology, as the author traces a great many of the words, either by derivation from, or comparison with the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin, the British, and as he terms it, the Northmantie language ; and it contains one Pictish word (Curtai!) almost the only word of the Pictish language that we possess.” (p. 19.)
Our author's account of the existing Irish annals is deeply interesting. He thus enumerates them at the commencement of his third lecture.
“ The principal annals now remaining in the Gae lhlic language, and of which we have any accurate knowlelge, are known as- - The Annals of Tighernach (pronounced nearly · Teernagh'); the Annals of Senait Mac Manus, (a compilation now better known as the Annals of Ulster); the Annals of Inis Nerinn in Loch Cé (erroneously called the Annals of Kilronan); the Annals of Innisfallen; the Annals now known as the Annals of Boyle; the Annals now known as the Annals of Connacht; the Annals of Dun na nGall (Donegal), or those of the Four Masters : and lastly, the Chronicon Scotorum. Besides these, we have the Annals of Clonmacnois, a compilation of the same class, which was translated into English in 1627, but of which the original is unfortunately not now accessible or known to exist. With reg to annals in other languages relating to Ireland, I need only allude to the Latin Annals of Multifernan, of Grace, of Pembriilge, Clyn, &c., published by the Irish Archaelogical Society." (p. 52.)
The Abbot Tighernach, whose work stands at the bead of this list, flourished towards the close of the eleventh century, and cotemporary with him was Marianus Scotus, another Irish monk and annalist, who flourished in Germany, and whose great Chronicle is esteemed on the Continent, as in its province, one of the principal literary monuments of the middle ages. Tighernach is regarded at the present day as the most reliable of all the Irish Chroniclers, and, as our author confesses, his extensive learning, judicious care, scholarlike discrimination and historical research, as well as the early period at which he compiled his work, entitle bim to the high position which is thus given to him. But he is by no means to be taken as the first of our historical writers.
of the accounts which they give of our very reinoto history, on the ground that they are the first wh) allul to them-which indeed is not the case. But Word these accounts even traceable to no more ancient autho. rity, we would not be justified in the conclusion thus arrived at, any more than he would in assuming that the ancient history of any country was fabricated by the writer whose work happens to be the earliest on the subject that we can find. Mi. O'Curry shews very clearly the superior antiquity of several of our other bistorical authorities, and the unquestionable authenticity of many of the earliest records preserved to us in ex. isting monuments, from the more ancient authorities which have perished.
Our author devotes several lectures to an investigation of the various existing annals, correcting the erroneous opinions which have prevailed about some of them; fixing their authors and dates ; the sources from which they were derived, and the correct names by which they should be recognised. In many instances also, he gives us interesting specimens of their contents. He shew3 where the existing copies are to be found, and from his intimate knowledge of all those copies which are not beyond his reach in foreign countries, or which the narrow-minded selfishness of such a man as Lord Ashburnham, does not shut up from the view of the world, he is able to indicate the exact relative value of each. Such an enquiry is of the utmost value to the Irish historical student, and affords us the most authentic elucidation of our ancient bibliography, which we have evers obtained. Confessedly, the crowning labour of our annalists is the work of Brother Michael O'Clery, and his colleagues, kyown as the “ Four Masters,” which our author justly describes as “the greatest body of annals in existence relating to Irish history.” Of this important work Mr. O'Curry treats at considerable length, yet he observes :
“ From a
very early period,” observes Professor O'Curry, “ we find notices of chroniclers and historical compilers. I have already mentioned the royal historian, Cormac Mac Art, and also the author of Cin Droma Sneachta. From the sixth to the eighth century we meet, amongst many others, the names of Amergin MacAmalgaidh, author of the Dinn Seanchas ; Cennfealadh ; and Aengus Ceile De. From the year 800 to the year 1000, we find Maelmura of Othan : Cormac MacCuillinan; Flann MacLonan; Eochaidh O'Flinn ; and Cinaeth or Kennett O'Hartigan. In the eleventh century the historical compilers are still more frequent; the chief names in this period are those of Cuan O'Lochain ; Colman O’Seasnan; Flann Mainistrech, or of the monastery, and Gilla Caemhain. The two latter lived in the same century with Tighernach--Flann, the Professor of St. Buithe's monastery (or Monasterboice,) who died in A.D. 1056; and Gille Caemhain, a writer who died A.D. 1073, the translator into Gaedhlic of Nennius' History of the Britons.” (p. 53.)
“The immense extent of the work would, indeed, render it impossible for me to include in one lecture, or even in two or three lectures, anything like an adequate analysis of the vast mass and comprehensive scope of the history contained in it. I have therefore confined myself to some explanation of the nature and plan of the labours of the * Four Masters,' that you may understand, at least, what it was they undertook to do, and that you may know why it is, that this magnificent compilation has ever been regarded by true scholars, and doubtless will ever be looke! up to, as the most certain and unimpeachable authority, and as affording a safe and solid foundation for the labours of future historians." (P. 158.)
And he adds:“It is fortunate that the Annals of the Four Masters are no longer like the other anpals, of which I have given you some account, preserved only in the almost inaccessible recesses of a few libraries of MSS. It is fortunate that you can now consult for yourselves, in the pages of a beautifully printed edition, those invaluable records, whose importance it has been my object in this lecture shortly to explain to you, and which, if you would acquire an accurate acquaintance with your country's history, you must diligently study again and again." (p. 159.)
The Synchronisms of Flann, and the chronological poem of Gilla Caenhaim, are in fact among the earliest and most valuable of our historic authorities; but nothing can be more absurd than to a tribute to these writers, as Moore and others have done, the fabrication
It is to be feared that the ancient portion of our history never will be treated with all the elaborateness and the minuteness of detail which Professor O’Curry desires; and that if so treated, the work on the subject would be anything but a popular one. It is true that we possess most copious materials for the purpose, and that further materials are still in reserve, so that in dealing with this portion of his subject the Irish historian may well complain of an embarras des richesses. But the importance of the events narrated bears no proportion to their number. If we except the successive colonizations of ancient Erinn-a point upon which, say what we will, the investigations of ethnologists will have as much weight with the world as the records of our chroniclers--how very few events are there previous to the Christian era, which are now of national importance ? how fewer siill are there which interest the foreigu reader? We allude, of course, to such things as have any chance of fixing the attention of men in the present matter-of-fact age. From about the Christian era, or at least very soon before it, to the conversion of Ireland by St. Patrick, the events wbich iinpress a character on our history, and which derive importance from their results, are indeed much more numerous. Such are the fatal organisation of the Pentarchy, which would seem to have effectually established a system of disunion under which Ireland has groanod from that day to this ; the revolution of the Attacots, which, however, produced no very permanent consequences; the imposition of the Boromean tribute on the province of Leinster, which, from its ruinous results to the peace of the country, might be regarded as the most fatal event in all our ancient history ; the rise of Munster and the wars of its chiefs with Conn of the Hundred Battles; the destruction of Emania, which involved almost the extinction of the old Ultonian kingdom, of which it was the capital, and the establishment of a new power in the north; the piratical expeditions from Ireland into foreign countries under Niall and his predecessors; and, we may add, the colonisation of Scotland by our Dalriadic tribe. With the age of St. Patrick a new and dazzling glory bursts upon Irish bistory; the epoch of our saints, domestic and missionary, begius--the epoch of our schools of sanctity and learning, on which we may dwell with unmingled and uncloying pleasure, and on which, too, we may enlist the interest of the literary world in other countries as well as
But this bright epoch withdraws us altogether from that remote period to which we bave been referring as so much less worthy of expatiation upon its historical details ; and it is followed by another period upon which our historian may dwell with minuteness Though not with pleasure--that dreary one, namely, of the Danish wars; while, at every step as we now advance-the transfer of the sovereign authority from the ancient line of Niall to Brian Boru ; the rapid decline of the central power, the corresponding progress in the distinctive independence of the provinces, and, in fine, the preparation of the country, by its own weakness and disunion, for the Anglo-Norman invasion, with which epoch our ancient history terminates the interest of the his
torical investigator is, to say the least, sustained. For the whole range of this ancient portion of our history we have had ample materials in our hands for some years past—that is, since the appearance of O'Donovan's edi. tion of the Four Masters, in the copious annotations to which great work we have a very large portion of what could be added from the unpublished annuls; we have also had the ancient annals, published by Dr. O'Conor in his Rerum Hibernicarui Scriptores ; and the vast mass of genealogical, topographical, and bistorical materials given to the world by the Archæological and Celtic Societies. Neither must we despise such authorities as Keating, who made extensive use of the historic tales, as well as of the annals, and wbo had under his eye some of those very resources which are now enumerated among the lost MSS.; or as O'Flaherty, who gives us, from the same authentic originals, so admirable an analysis of our ancient history in his Ogygia; or as Colgan's invaluable compilations. In fact we have had copious materials before us even for our ancient history, and it is our own fault if we have not made better use of them. Still we agree with Mr. O'Curry that a vast deal yet remains to be done; and as an instance of the exceedingly imperfect knowledge which prevailed on this subject a few years ago, we quote his own interesting account of an inteiview which he had with the poet Moore, after the latter bad published a portion of his History of Ireland.
“ The first volume of his (Moore's) history was published in the year 1835, and in the year 1839, during ou. of his last visits to the land of his birth, he, in company with his old and attached friend, Dr. Petrie, favoured m3 with quite an unexpected visit at the Royal Irish Academy, then in Grafton Street. I was at that periul employed on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, and, at the time of his visit, happened to have before me, on my desk, the Books of Lallymote aud Lecain, the Ltabkir Breac, the Annals of the Four Masters, and many oth ancient books, for historical research and reference. I had never before seen Moore, and after a brief introductia and explanation of the nature of my occupation by Dr. Petrie, and seeing the formidable array of so many dará and time-worn volumes by which I was surrounded, he looked a little disconcerted, but after a while plucked up courage to open the Book of Ballymote, and ask what it was. Dr. Petrie and myself then entered into a short explanation of the history and character of the books then present, as well as of ancient Gaedhlic documents in general. Moore listened with great attention, alternately scanning the books and myself; and then asked me in a serious tone, if I understood them, and how I had learn to do so. Ilaving satisfied him upon these points, he turned to Dr. Petrie, and said ;— Petrie, thuse buge tomes could not have been written by fools or for any foolish purpose.
I never knew anything about them before, and I had no right to have undertaken the History of Ireland.' Three volumes of his history had been by this time published, and it is quite possible that it was the new light which appeared to have broken in upon him on this occasion, that deterred him from putting his fourth and last volume to press until after several years, it is believed he was only compelled to do so at last by his publishers in 1816."
We may add that it is very probable that Moore