[Source: Internet Archive online; accessed 11.09.2010.]
It is only by collecting and comparing many letters, written by men of different opinions and scattered over wide areas, that it is possible to form a true estimate of the condition of the country, and to pronounce with real confidence between opposing statements. Such a method of inquiry tends greatly to lengthen a book and to impair its symmetry and its artistic charm; but it is, I believe, the one method of arriving at truth; it brings the reader in direct contact with the original materials of Irish history, and it enables him to draw his own conclusions very independently of the history. (pp.v-vi.)
Irish crime - How far race has been important in Irish history [sect. of Chap. II]
The Irish were at one time noted for their sexual licentiousness. For the last two centuries they have been more free from this vice than the inhabitants of any other portion of the empire. As late as the eighteenth century Arthur Young traced the chief evils of France to the early and improvident marriages of the French peasantry (Young, Tour of France). Such marriages are now probably rarer in France than in any other considerable country in Europe.
But even if the distinctive characteristic of different races were fully established, they would throw little light on English or Irish history. In England, the succession of invasions and settlements in the early part of is history, and to a certain extent the later immigration of foreign elements, have produced such a mixture of races that no inference about the connection between race and national character could be safely drawn from English experience. The whole or nearly the whole island at the time of the Roman invasion appears to have been inhabited by a Celtic population, speaking a Celtic tongue; and although the Roman influence was very superficial, and the Teutonic Saxons obtained a complete ascendancy, the Celtic element was still far from  extinguished in at least the western half of the island. The Norman invasion, refugee immigrations, and constant intermarriages added to the mixture of the races.
In Ireland the original Celtic stock had been tinctured even before the Norman invasion with a very considerable Scandinavian element, and long before the eighteenth century successive English and Scottish immigrations had made its predominance extremely doubtful. As early as 1612 Sir John Davis said There had been so many English colonies planted in Ireland, that if the people were numbered at this day by the poll, such as were descended of English race would be found more in number than the native inhabitants. (Discovery of the True Causes, p.2.) In 1640, in the Remonstrance of Grievances drawn up against the government of Strafford, it was urged that the people of Ireland were now for the most part of British ancestors (Leland, History of Ireland, iii, 60.) The Cromwellian period greatly increased the predominance of the English element, both by the introduction of new settlers, and by the extirpation of a great part of the old race, and a similar though less sanguinary process of chance continued for many 399 years after the Revolution. There is indeed every reason to believe that in Leinster and Ulster, which are the provinces that have played by far the greatest part in Irish history, the Saxon and Scotch elements have long been predominant, and a great modern authority was probably perfectly accurate when he asserted that there was no difference of race between the native of Devonshire and the native of Tipperary. [Cites Huxley [...] On the Forefathers of the English People]. The more the question is examined, the more fallacious will appear the reasoning that attributes most Irish evils to the Celtic character. Tipperary and other counties, which are largely inhabited by descendants of Cromwellian Puritans, have been foremost in Ireland for the aggressive and turbulent qualities of their inhabitants; while, for a long period at least, no parts of the British empire have been more peaceful, ore easy to govern, and more free from crime than some of the purely Celtic districts in the west or in the south. A proneness to crimes of combination has been one f the worst and most distinctive evils of modern Irish life. But that proneness has been nowhere more conspicuous than in counties where the inhabitants are chiefly descended from Englishmen; it has not been a characteristic of other Celtic nations; and it has never been very widely shown among the great masses of Irishmen who are congregated in England, the United States, and the colonies, though in other respect their moral character has often deteriorated. (Sir C. Lewis, On Irish Disturbances [i.e, in England], p.326) [...; 400]
Hostility to the English Government is so far from being peculiar to Celts, that it has long passed into a proverb that in this respect the descendants of English settlers have exceeded the natives, and there have been few national movements in Ireland at the head of which English names may not be found. Nor can anyone who follows Irish history wonder at the fact. If, wrote an acute observer in the beginning of the eighteenth century, we had a new sette [of officers] taken out of London that had noe knowledge or engagements in Ireland, yet in seven years they would carry a grudge in their hearts against the oppressions of England; and as their interest in Irish ground increased, soe would their aversion to the place they left. So it hath been these five hundred years; so it is with many of my acquaintance but lately come from England; an so it is likely to be till the interests be made one. (Letter from Lord B. of J., March 1702, Southwell Correspondence, Brit. Mus. Bibl. Egert. 917, p.186.)
For these reasons it appears to me that although the Celtic element has contributed something to the peculiar development of Irish character and history, the part played in later Irish history has been greatly exaggerated. It is probable indeed that climate has been a more important influence than race, both in determining the prevailing forms of industry and in its direct physical operation on the human being.
But, notwithstanding all of this, it would have been politically comparatively innocuous had it not been forced by oppression into antagonism to the law; had not the policy of confiscations thrown upon the priesthood the leadership of the people; had not the commercial spirit, which is the natural corrective of theological excesses, been unduly repressed. As it is, its injurious effects have been greatly exaggerated. The Act of William against robbers, rapparees, and tories, shows that Protestants and reputed Protestants as well as Papists and reputed Papists were concerned even in the outrages that followed the confiscations of the Revolution [...]. (pp 396-403.)
It is remarkable, too, that superstition in Ireland has commonly taken a milder for than in most countries. Irish history contains its full share of violence and massacre, but whoever will examine these episodes with impartiality may easily convince himself that their connection with religion has in most cases been superficial. Religious cries have sometimes been raised, religious enthusiasm has been often appealed to in the agony of the struggle; but the real causes have usually been conflicts of races and classes, the struggle of a nationality against annihilation, the invasion of property in land, or the pressure of extreme poverty. Among the Catholics at least, religious intolerance has not been a prevailing vice, and those who had studied closely the history and the character of the Irish people can hardly fail to be struck with the deep respect for sincere religion in every form, which they have commonly evinced. Their original conversion to Christianity was probably accompanied by less violence and bloodshed than that of any equally considerable  nation in Europe; and in spite of the fearful calamities that followed the Reformation, it is a memorable fact that not a single Protestant suffered for his religion in Ireland during all the period of the Marian persecution in England. The treatment of Bedell during the savage outbreak of 1641, and the Act establishing the liberty of conscience passed by the Irish Parliament of 1689 in the full flush of the brief Catholic ascendancy under James II, exhibit very remarkably this aspect of the Irish character; and it is displayed in another form scarcely less vividly during the Quaker missions, which began towards the close of the Commonwealth, and continued with little intermission for two generations.
This curious page of Irish history is but little know. The first regular Quaker meeting in Ireland was established in Lurgan by an old Cromwellian soldier named William Edmundson, about 1654 [...]. (pp.407-09.)