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[60] founded colonies in the forms of liberty; and them-
chap. IV.} 1763
selves owned and cultivated the soil.

Ireland, whose government was proposed as a model for the British colonies, and whose history is from this time intimately connected with the course of events in America, had been seized by the English oligarchy.

The island was half as large as England, with a still milder climate, and a more fertile soil. From the midst of its wild mountain scenery in the west gushed numerous rivers, fed by the rains which the sea breeze made frequent. These, now forming bogs and morasses, now expanding into beautiful lakes, now rushing with copious volume and swift descent, offered along their courses waterpower without limit, and near the sea formed deep and safe harbors. The rich limestone plains under the cloudy sky were thickly covered with luxuriant grasses, whose unequalled verdure vied in color with the emerald.

Centuries before the Christian era, the beautiful region had been occupied by men of one of the Celtic tribes, who had also colonized the Highlands of Scotland. The Normans, who in the eighth century planted commercial towns on its sea coast, were too few to maintain separate municipalities. The old inhabitants had been converted to Christianity by apostles of the purest fame, and abounded in churches and cathedrals, in a learned, liberal, and numerous clergy. Their civil government was an aristocratic confederacy1 of septs or families and their respective chiefs; and the remote land seemed set

1 Hallam's Constitutional History of England, III. 461. The whole of the eighteenth chapter is devoted to the Constitution of Ireland.

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