Reid, Thomas, 1791-1825 / Travels In Ireland In the Year 1822: Exhibiting Brief Sketches of the Moral, Physical, And Political State of the Country : With Reflections On the Best Means of Improving Its Condition (1823)
TRAVELS IN IRELAND,
SKETCH OF THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF IRELAND.
In every inquiry it is important to determine some leading principle on which argument may rest; and, as Ireland has been the theatre of contention from time immemorial, it appears, that to give an impartial view of the revolution of property in that country, is the most simple way of accounting for the various political changes it has undergone. A brief examination, then, of the manner in which these changes have been brought about, and how far they have tended to promote the happiness or misery of the people exposed to their influence, cannot fail to prove interesting to the moral or political philosopher.
The worst state to which a nation can be reduced is that of indigence, wherein the necessaries of life are withheld from the great mass of the population. Ireland has recently been in that state, and although temporary relief has suspended the ruinous consequences of famine, still such a scene may again be witnessed, unless the causes be sought out and removed.
Enlightened men of the present day reflect, with surprise and incredulity, that a nation of more than seven millions [p. 2] of hardy and industrious inhabitants, possessing a fertile, exuberant soil, and favoured with a genial climate, should experience want even for a moment; yet how must their astonishment be excited when they are told, that it is to moral causes, chiefly, all the evils of that unhappy country are to be traced,—that country, to use the language of a man whose wisdom was as eminent as his patriotism was sincere, “for which nature has done every thing, and man nothing.”
It should ever be a maxim of prudential polity in every country where population is great, or tending to increase, to solicit the natural advantages of the situation, and by means of the abundance thence arising, preclude the encroachments of idleness and poverty, to which human nature is constantly prone. Poverty is the nurse of crime; and ignorance, with all the dark passions, is apt to revel where intelligence, good order, and virtuous forbearance would exist, were the comforts or necessary means of support still at hand. In Ireland all the natural advantages adequate to the maintenance of an unbounded population are to be found in an eminent degree; yet still, although under the protection of the most enlightened form of government the world ever knew, the great majority of the inhabitants is involved in misery, lamentable ignorance, and necessarily imputable crime.
This is a frightful picture, the more particularly so as it applies to the aggregate but not to individuals; for all unprejudiced writers invariably acknowledge Irishmen to be naturally possessed of qualities most fit to promote the advancement and happiness of society, even in their reputed barbarous state at home; and of such as have gone into the service of foreign powers, some have left, others still maintain, a name distinguished for politeness, bravery, and [p. 3] talents of the highest order. A writer—himself a proof—as eminent for refined taste and literary acumen, as he is for sound and enlightened philosophy, has collected the sentiments of several authors relative to the Irish character, and illumined the draught from the treasures of his own observation. In sketching the manners of this people, he proceeds to say:—
“Its popular character and customs distinguish and disincline Ireland from England. Varieties have been sought in the national disposition, referable to the double origin of the Irish people, in vain: however differing in rank, party, or ancestry, they bear the indelible mark of a common nativity. Restless, yet indolent; shrewd, and indiscreet; impetuous, impatient, and improvident; instinctively brave, thoughtlessly generous; quick to resent and forgive offences, to form and renounce friendships; they will forgive injury rather than insult; their country’s good they seldom, their own they carelessly, pursue; but the honour of both they eagerly vindicate. Oppression they have long borne, insolence never.
“With genius they are profusely gifted, with judgment sparingly; to acquire knowledge they find more easy than to arrange and employ it: inferior in vanity only to the French, and in wit superior, perhaps, even to the Italian, they are more able to give, and more ready to receive amusement than instruction: in raillery and adulation they freely indulge, but without malignity or baseness. It is the singular temper of this people, that they are prone equally to satirize and to praise, and patient alike of sarcasm and flattery.
“Inclining to exaggerate, but not intending to deceive, you will applaud them rather for sincerity than truth. Accuracy is not the merit, nor duplicity the failing of a [p. 4] lively but uncultivated people. Their passions lie on the surface, unsheltered from irritation or notice: and cautious England is too fond of recognizing the Irish character only by those inconsistencies and errors which her own novercal government has contributed to produce and perpetuate.”
Regarding the manners of the peasantry, he further says: “In agricultural pursuits they are neither active nor expert; hereditary indolence would incline them to employ their lands in pasturage; and it is always more easy to induce them to take arms, than to cultivate the earth, and wait upon the seasons. Even at this day, the sons of the old inheritors are suspected of being more ready to regain their possessions by their blood, than their labour. Their very amusements are polemical; fighting is a pastime, which they seldom assemble without enjoying; not, indeed with iron weapons, but with light clubs, which they always carry, and frequently and skilfully use. When not driven by necessity to labour, they willingly consume whole days in sloth, or as willingly employ them in riot; strange diversity of nature, to love indolence and hate quiet—to be reduced to slavery, but not yet to obedience.”
That this character applies generally at the present day there is little reason to dispute, but that it has been ever the same is more than doubtful. This might be determined by reference to the early history of colonization preserved in the annals of this ancient people; but as the scope of this inquiry will not admit of an extended investigation of a subject so curious, it may suffice to present a concise outline of its most prominent features.
There is not, perhaps, in the history of mankind a more remarkable phenomenon than the duration of the Irish language, which has existed, both oral and written, in primeval purity, during a period commencing many [p. 5] centuries previous to Christianity down to the present hour, a fact supported by authentic documents still surviving the revolutions of time. These documents consist of manuscript records on parchment, written with the utmost precision, and preserved with extreme care through successive generations. They are to be found in various parts of Europe, in good condition generally, and written for the most part in a very ancient character, remarkable for its beauty and simplicity.
These manuscripts repose, many in Trinity College, Dublin; also in the King’s Library at Copenhagen; a great many in the Royal Library at Paris, and by far the greater number at Rome. There is, moreover, a valuable collection belonging to the Bodleian Library, besides the treasure which has been transferred to the Irish Library at Stowe, from the care of the late venerable Charles O’Conor, of Belanagare, and of which some are in progress of translation by his grandson, the reverend Dr. O’Conor, under the patronage of his Grace the Duke of Buckingham. Another portion of those precious remains of antiquity has recently appeared in an English dress, from the pen of Mr. Roger O’Connor, of Dangan, which are stated by that gentleman as having been recovered from the tomb, where they must have lain for a very great length of time. The latter, called the Chronicles of Eri, are preserved in the most ancient form, namely, the skins containing the record being stitched together by the ends, and fastened to a roller of wood.
These chronicles maintain, that the people who colonized Ireland in early times migrated originally from Scythia; assuming various denominations as they proceeded westward, they formed settlements in many parts of Asia, in Greece, Italy, along the shores of the Mediterranean, in [p. 6] Spain, and finally in Ireland, which was named by them Erin, signifying the western land.
Were there no other evidence existing of their eastern origin than the lively turn of mind, excursive fancy, warm, figurative expression, habitual love of ease, and cheerful conversation, these traits alone might be deemed satisfactory proofs. But, besides a palpable identity of ancient customs, such as those described by Virgil, and which are familiar to every one acquainted with the living manners of the Irish peasantry, there still are to be seen numerous monuments [1*] which are of considerable importance to inquiry, [p. 7] and on consideration will be found to remove all doubt regarding the genuineness and accuracy of those ancient records.[p. 8]
The colonists from Spain, called Iberian Gaël, were led into Ireland by Heber and Heremon, and the expedition effected a landing on the eastern and southern coasts, having been dispersed by a storm. The date of this expedition, according to the Irish annals, was about 1290 years before Christ. It appears, however, that these tribes were not the first to settle in the island, as two other nations, the Fir‐bolgæ, and Tuatha‐de‐Danaan, said also to be of Scythian origin, had been long in possession.
Victory having given to the Gael the sovereignty of the country, they treated the vanquished with clemency; and, with a policy more wise and just than that of more modern times, admitted them to a fair participation in the soil. This triple alliance tended greatly to strengthen the conquerors, and an undisturbed tranquillity prevailed among the whole. “How happy for Ireland; what millions of money, and thousands of lives, might have been saved to Britain, had such principles of equity and sound policy governed Irish counsels for eighty years past!” The truth [p. 9] of this apostrophe of O’Halloran’s would apply to a period long subsequent to that in which he wrote.
As population encreased, and other settlers, particularly a numerous tribe called Scuits, which fixed their residence in the northern parts, added to their numbers, petty competitions arose among them, until at length, in a general convocation at Tarah, a monarch was elected, who was to be looked upon as chief arbiter of all differences arising among the members of the confederacy. The first person chosen to this honour was Eochaidh, the celebrated Ollam Fodhla, who was unanimously declared Ard‐ri, or supreme king, in the year 930. (B. C.)
This form of government, nearly patriarchal, there being, as it were, a common father to the various families composing the nation, continued, with little interruption, down to the introduction of Christianity; and to a people so constituted, the transition from the worship of Baal to that of the living God was easy and certain. The laws regarding property, moreover, tended considerably to cherish the principles of peace and reciprocal justice among them; for the rule of inheritance according to the Brehon law, an unwritten code resembling the old common law of England, gave to each of the sons an equal participation in the father’s estate; and this extended in full right of claim to all the next of kin; but such an arrangement could be applicable only to a confined population. A remarkable exception to the law of inheritance was observed in the election of their kings, the succession being transferred out of the direct descent in case of immoral character, illegitimate birth, or bodily defect.
Many other customs of the Irish in that state of society might be mentioned as equally worthy of remembrance; such as the Biatagh regulation of public hospitality, for [p. 10] which provision was made at the national expence; the distinction of the different orders by peculiar garb; their cultivation of poetry and music, and of other sciences which argued a very advanced state of refinement; but as these things have been fully described by many authors, whose veracity has been proved by the severest tests of criticism, they are, for that reason, not further noticed here. One thing, however, must be admitted, that the people, in progress of time, lost much of their original simplicity, and partook, in some degree, of the general barbarism of the neighbouring nations.
The progress of Christian truth improved the civil condition of the country, and when southern Europe was wasted with the irruption of the northern tribes of Germany, and the splendour of the Roman empire became extinguished in gothic night, this happy island continued a secure refuge to the surviving science of those times, and learning was enthusiastically cherished in the numerous establishments of religious society which overspread the country.
Britain, then a prey to every marauding visitor, had no national character; a rude assemblage of military materials without order or design, destitute of literary reputation, except from individuals, whom the sacred thirst of knowledge urged to seek it where it could be found. The testimony of all the historians worthy of credit who have written of this dark period, is unanimous in asserting, that Ireland was then the seat of learning, and the concurrent admiration of Europe gave it the appellation of “the island of saints.” The extensive and lofty ruins of buildings, raised for the purpose of education and piety, many of magnificent construction, are melancholy monuments of the revolutionary tendency of human events, which could [p. 11] destroy institutions of such value to mankind. In one of those retreats of moral and scientific wisdom, Alfred, the deservedly boasted pride of England, was educated in his early years. Mayo, a school of eminence in those days, claims that honour. Students of all ranks flocked to the seminaries of Ireland for that literary quiet and instruction, which they could not find at home; and even Spain sent the children of her kings to partake of those advantages. A grave is still pointed out on the hill of Slane, the property of the Marquis Conyngham, wherein a son of one of the kings of Spain is said to have been interred: the adjoining ruins are truly grand and picturesque.
As the affairs of Ireland have been greatly affected, even more than in other nations, by the connection of the civil government with the management of its religious concerns; it appears important to take a brief review of the occurrences arising from this combination after the introduction of Christianity. That event took place about the year 430 of the Christian era, although it is asserted by some, that the conversion of the Irish took place long prior to the mission of either Palladius or St. Patrick: sub judice lis sit.
The moral code of laws known to the people of Ireland under their ancient form of government, from the time of their first settlement in the island, must have been long observed previously to that event, in order to preserve so firm a root as it did, even after they became converted to the Christian faith. Indeed, there existed such a strong conformity between their ancient code, as given by Ollam Fodhla, and that of the Jews, that, if credit may be given to the Irish chronicles, (and their authenticity has not been disproved,) it would seem to be coeval with, if not more ancient than even the Mosaic record. Many centuries passed over the Scythian tribes from their first emigration [p. 12] to their final settlement in Ireland (their own Erin, or land of the west,) and in all that period, and for several centuries after, they continued implicitly obedient to the provisions of that primitive and simple collection of moral ordinances.
The worship paid by those pagan tribes was to Baal, the source of mundane light, but this readily gave way to a more sublime religion, which taught the worship of the Author of light itself, and promised both earthly blessings, and the eternal possession of Divine enjoyments in an after life. It was in the pontificate of Celestinus, when Europe was involved in chaotic confusion and the deplorable uproar of barbarous turmoil; the lamp of learning miserably trampled under foot; the accumulated wisdom of lettered ages swept from the recesses of admiring genius, or stirred into wasteful conflagration by the sword; when only the mouldering wall of the plundered palace, or the public library, saved the wreck of the brightest effusions of human reasoning; then, happily, religion shed a ray upon the ruin, and kindled a desire to rescue these monuments of philosophy from destruction.
Christianity coming into Ireland brought in her train the sciences, frightened from the continent by the din of war; and among this peace‐loving people, the mild precepts of the gospel were the more warmly cherished, because of the association of learning and true wisdom. Their favourite maxims of morality, as inculcated by their Ollams, or doctors, blended delightfully with the simple beauties of Christian justice and benevolence, whilst their astronomical knowledge was found to coincide with the lofty philosophy of Italy and Greece, and the strains of the bards harmonized with the charms of the classic muse.
The eagerness with which the principles of the Christian belief, so repugnant to the prevailing spirit of military [p. 13] devastation, was cultivated by the new converts, may be estimated from the extraordinary efforts used by them to spread the light of gospel truth, in defiance of imminent and inevitable personal danger, over the greater part of the continent. The martyrologies and legends of writers, whose pious cares have recorded those transactions, bear ample and sufficient testimony to their laudable labours.
A holy zeal swallowed up every consideration of worldly concern; rank, ambition, every impulse of the human heart, gave way before the great desire to illumine the darkened minds of mankind; and one celestial impulse urged the most ardent and distinguished talents, not only to carry into effect the blessed purposes of the Christian dispensation, but to cultivate useful learning, and meliorate the condition of society, sunk and debased as it was by the errors of paganism, and the wasteful consequences of protracted and barbarous warfare.
Among the eminent men whose names have raised the reputation of Ireland, it may be sufficient to enumerate Virgilius, surnamed Solivagus, from his love of solitude. This man, born of noble parentage, had devoted himself to religion, and travelled over great part of the continent, and was received with distinguished honours by Pepin, of France. Virgilius was appointed bishop of Saltzburgh, and was less distinguished by that title than by the celebrity he acquired in maintaining the true form of the earth, a doctrine, doubtlessly, then well known and taught in his native country. Such a truth flashing on the darkness of the eighth century, was too dazzling for vulgar vision; the then reigning pope showed his fears of an innovation so dangerous to religion, and sentenced to degradation the person who dared to broach such profane and wicked doctrine.
The famous Johannes Scotus Erigena, also an Irishman, as his name implies, was eminent for his great natural and acquired endowments, and for splendour of wit, as well as solidity of judgment. His writings were various, embracing the usual subjects of theology and controversy, and his philosophical labours were enlivened occasionally with brilliant effusions of a fine poetic fancy. He was a favourite at the court of Charles the Bald, whence he was invited into England by Alfred the Great, and is said to have been the first professor of geometry and astronomy in the university of Oxford. Erigena translated the Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite, from the Greek, with elegance and fidelity.
This second instance of Irish talent is adduced, merely to satisfy those who might be led to think that Ireland had been always a barbarous country before it was favoured with civilization and refinement from England. Under the same impression the reader will excuse the insertion of the following account of those monastic institutions, which could furnish such bright examples: it is copied from a late number of the Quarterly Review.
“The monastic institutions became eminently useful. They attracted, regulated, and directed the zeal and the fanaticism of the times, making beneficial what would have been injurious, as waters, which would produce devastation in torrents, or render the air poisonous by stagnating marshes, serve for the use of man when collected in reservoirs and proper channels. While every generation produced some new schism in the east, founded upon some new subtlety, the western church was, in a great measure, [p. 15] delivered from the pest of heresiarchs and heretics; for the spirits which might have taken an eccentric course were brought under the yoke of obedience; and if the monastery failed to produce its intended effect as a school, it served as a bedlam, where the maniac was indulged in all his humours, if any advantage to the community could be drawn from them, and authority was always at hand to restrain him from every thing hurtful. The monastery was a home for the studious, a refuge for the weak, and an asylum for the unhappy. Here were found statesmen who were capable of directing the affairs of princes, and missionaries to go among the fierce heathens by whom the Roman empire was subverted, ready to act their part well as martyrs if they failed, or as politicians if their efforts were successful. Here, and here only, were the schools of education:—the discipline indeed was severe and even cruel, and the instruction was barbarous; still this education, such as it was, saved the world from total ignorance. The light of knowledge was kept burning, not like the fabled lamps of the sepulchre, to be extinguished when day‐light and free air were admitted,—it was carefully trimmed and preserved for happier generations.”
These institutions were fully appreciated by the people, who held their inmates in the utmost reverence, insomuch, that although the rivalry of ambitious chiefs might kindle all the rage of war around them, all within the precincts of the monastery or religious retreat was hallowed and unmolested: the clerical costume commanded the most profound respect, and inveterate feud lost all its fierceness in the presence of the minister of religion. But the deference shown to the character of these pious men was a tribute only to their virtues; their holy lives were devoted to the happy task of benefiting their fellow‐men: perfectly [p. 16] disinterested with regard to worldly riches, the primitive gospel rule of poverty of life, and unostentatious labour for the spiritual improvement of the people, formed their sole line of duty.
One principal cause of the success attending the early teachers of Christianity in Ireland, arose from their succeeding to the office of the Ollam, or doctors, whom they superseded in the duty of giving instruction to youth, or joined with themselves, upon their conversion, in that office, which was one of the most cherished objects of public concern. As the doctors were particularly designed for that department of national polity, provision was made for their support at the public expence; so also the Christian clergy, who undertook the same charge, became particularly the objects of royal protection; and grants of land, with various immunities, were secured to them by the kings and minor chiefs for the building of monasteries, and abbies, and forming of scholastic foundations, similar to those formerly conducted by the Ollam.
Many individuals, urged by motives of piety, or desirous of instruction, attached themselves to these communities as lay brethren, and freely offered their assistance in relieving their spiritual associates from laborious employments, voluntarily managing the agricultural concerns of the establishment; for which reason the barren wastes, which for the sake of retirement had been mostly selected for the sites of such buildings, were soon converted into fields of fair and fertile appearance, and even still add considerable beauty to the ruins.
“The leisure thus obtained for the regular brethren,” says the writer last quoted, “was employed by the more pious in religious meditation, by the more thoughtful in theological or scholastic studies; those whose inclinations [p. 17] led them to more active literature, composed books, whilst others performed the humbler, but not less useful, task of copying them; and the arts of architecture, sculpture, painting and music, as connected with objects of religion, were cultivated in these convents. To the patient industry which was thus directed, we owe the preservation of most of the classics, and a large portion of history which would otherwise have been lost; and to the genius which was thus brought forth, we are beholden for those cathedrals which vie with the noblest monuments of the ancient world, if they do not indeed surpass them.”
The monasteries of Ireland continued to be sanctuaries of learning throughout those dark ages, when the rest of Europe was agitated by the tempests of tumultuary war, and maintained an acknowledged pre‐eminence in every branch of literature peculiar to themselves, besides such as would otherwise have been utterly annihilated. Were it not for the advantages of education held out in these last asyla of science, the work of invention might have proved more laborious, more honourable than succeeding ages have seen it; for whilst the western world was immersed in that barbarism which properly attends the sword, the silent pen was laying up that useful information which would console humanity for much of what it had lost. The liberal manner in which students frequenting these schools were received deserves to be recorded; the credit of the fact remains with Mr. O’Halloran: “Her princes and great men (meaning those of the insula sanctorum et doctorum,) founded the numerous universities of the kingdom on so generous and extensive plans, that not only the foreign students were found in clothes, diet, and lodgings, but even with books, then so scarce an article, gratis!”
In the beginning of the eighth century the repose of the [p. 18] Irish monasteries began to be disturbed by the ravages of the Danes, who, availing themselves of the facilities which their light ships afforded, made frequent incursions into the northern parts of Britain and Ireland; and finding their depredations on the latter equal to the extent of their barbarous cupidity, renewed their sanguinary visits with a frequency that threatened those peaceful mansions with total destruction. In one of those plundering expeditions, the famous abbey of Benchoir (Bangor), in Down, was ransacked, and 900 of its unresisting inmates cruelly massacred. Such severe visitations were little relieved by the defence afforded by their natural protectors, who, it appears from the histories of those times, were so distracted by feuds among themselves, as to be unable to resist these hardy and ruthless invaders, who, waging an exterminating war, carried pillage and desolation into the heart of the country, and made themselves, for a long time, masters of a great part of the island. In this interval, which continued nearly two centuries, the Danes fortified Dublin, and founded many other towns along the eastern coast; nor were they effectually opposed until the eleventh century, when they were finally subdued at Clontarf; after which great defeat, those who remained became Christians, and having settled peaceably in the towns they had built, they made the first attempts at regular commerce; for, notwithstanding the splendid accounts of the wealth and riches of the country, and its great renown for shipping, nothing appears to establish the existence of any revenue directly arising from its foreign trade.
Under the disadvantages in which the want of adequate security left the monastic foundations, they fell away considerably from their original plan; and, in progress of time, their rights and immunities suffered still more from the [p. 19] Irish chieftains themselves, many of whom, in open violation of all established usage, on many occasions influenced the election of abbots, frequently substituting their own relatives in place of those elected in the regular form; sometimes causing even laymen to be chosen as superiors to those religious communities.
The fundamental law of succession to the throne, in which the reigning family possessed hereditary right, but the subject claimed the power of electing the most deserving individual of that line, rendered that mode of conferring kingly honours a perpetual ground of intrigue and contention, which was usually decided by the sword. Such troubles added still more to the insecurity of the monasteries, and tended to defeat the exalted ends of their institution.
In these sanguinary disputes, the inferior chiefs being invariably involved, were sure to draw their adherents into the quarrel; and consequently the weightiest mischief of the feuds were sure to fall upon the people; and as these were devotedly attached to the clergy, they in turn came in for a share in the calamity, although no open or direct violation of person or property appears to have been exercised. Thus, between the pacific piety of the convent, and the desultory turbulence of their chieftains, the mass of the people was at once enlightened and severe; of internal polish and rude exterior; a conscientious observer of the laws of justice, and at the same time a stern avenger of their violation. In the words of Dr. Leland, “a robust frame of body, a vehemence of passion, an elevated imagination, were the characteristics of the people. Noble instances of valour, generous effusions of benevolence, ardent resentments, desperate and vindictive outrages, abound in their annals.”[p. 20]
The main cause, however, of the depressed state of the population, and their backwardness in civilization, for that they were so, under those circumstances, must be admitted, was the uncertainty of tenure with regard to landed property, which kept them in constant vassalage to their chiefs, who were themselves subject to the same absurd system. The narrow, and it may be said, impracticable code of Brehon distribution of estate, required a perpetual recurrence to subdivision in the event of decease: hence arose endless confusion, litigation, and dispute, entailing mischievous habits on society, and serving to foster a disposition to acts of violence.
Property was in this manner continually changing masters. It was impossible that the state of society could materially improve, because there existed none of those exciting causes which force men in modern times into action in such various ways. Agriculture was confined to the mere supply of the occupant, or of those who manufactured arms or articles of clothing; in the latter particular, the country had attained considerable celebrity. The cultivation of the soil was limited[2*] , both from the simplicity [p. 21] of the general mode of living, (their food consisting chiefly of the milk and flesh of their cattle, the hides being reserved principally as an article of traffic,) and their being inured to military exercises, in which the most active muscular exertion could alone secure superior distinction. Even their devotional exercises partook of their habitual temperance, of which circumstance old Campion bears witness; “the same being vertuously bred up,” says he, “or reformed, are such mirrours of holinesse and austeritie, that other nations retaine but a shewe or shadow of devotion in comparison of them. As for abstinence and fasting, which these days make so dangerous, this is to them a familiar kind of chastisement.”
The secular order of clergy existed at the same time as the monastic, but in a manner altogether different from what it has been known in after ages. Down to the beginning of the ninth century, the Irish church was governed by bishops, who, it appears, were in function little superior to the parochial clergy of the present day. The maintenance of the bishops, and their ecclesiastical officers, was entirely afforded by voluntary contribution, which was liberal and abundant beyond their wishes, of which they gave gratifying evidence by the manner in which they applied the revenue thus arising; namely, the whole was divided into four equal portions, of which one supplied the personal wants of the bishop; another, those of his clergy; a third was distributed among the poor, and the fourth was appropriated to the building and repair of churches. They possessed nothing in the way of tithe or territorial property: that was a provision made in later times.
The fact just stated is eminently proved in the character of Malachias, bishop of Armagh, who succeeded Celsus in that dignity, and who was a chief means of bringing about [p. 22] a conformity of the Irish church with that of Rome, by a concession of supremacy to the latter; there being always between them a perfect unity of faith and discipline ever since the question concerning Easter had been adjusted. This prelate had distinguished himself by endeavouring to set aside the claims of hereditary succession then maintained in certain powerful septs, by whom all appointments to the wealthy abbacies were carried; and his mode of life was a convincing proof of his disinterestedness. The mortified character of this first rate enthusiast is thus portrayed by the historian of his life.
“From the day of his birth to the day of his death, he lived sine proprio, without claiming property in any thing; he had neither men servants nor maid servants, neither towns nor villages, neither any revenue ecclesiastical or temporal in his bishopric: for his provision, (ad mensam episcopalem,) he had no certainty allotted him, whereupon a bishop might live; he had no certain monastery or dwelling place, for he daily went about all the parishes, preaching the gospel, and living by the gospel, as the Lord had ordained, saying, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Of such as travelled with him, he carried about to relieve them all. To be short, Malachias, neither in diet or raiment, was discerned from the rest of the brethren; when he went a preaching with footmen, he went on foot, although a bishop and legate.”
To this latter title it was owing that his countrymen, notwithstanding his extraordinary sanctity, were unwilling to receive his propositions with cordiality, from a rooted and universal dislike to every thing like foreign interference in their national concerns. The influence of the Roman pontiff was never admitted in Ireland beyond that of a spiritual supremacy, and that not even until the year 1111, [p. 23] when, by the exertions of Malachias, the bishops in full convocation surrendered up to Rome the rights which they until then enjoyed.
At length, in the year 1152, a general council of the Irish clergy, summoned by Cardinal Paparon, legate à latere, was convened at Kells, where the supremacy of the Pope was solemnly recognized, and such arrangements agreed on, that all further opposition to this long‐desired measure was for ever removed. Four palls were distributed, by apostolic authority, to four archbishops, whose sees were severally denominated, Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam, each having its respective suffragans. The appointments to the sees thus determined were as follows: Gelasius superintended the concerns of Armagh, with the dignity of Primate; Gregory sat in Dublin, Donatus in Cashel, and Edanus in Tuam.
“Without cities, urbanity and civility cannot take place. In large communities only, the hardness and roughness of naked nature can be ground down and polished. It is from a frequent collision of many minds that those sparks of genius are struck out, which not only enlighten the understanding, but correct the heart, and furnish those innumerable embellishments of art, which give unspeakable charms to social intercourse, and, in some degree, exalt the dignity of human nature.” So thought and wrote Dr. Campbell, Chancellor of St. Macartin’s, Clogher, in 1790; so thinks and wishes every one, even now‐a‐days, who loves the good of mankind, and promotes its improvement, whether in the cloister or the tented field, the verdant valley or the cloud‐capt castle, the joyous pasture or the crowded city. Without, however, waiting to ascertain whether the churches and monasteries in Ireland were [p. 24] built of “wood, and wattles, and sods,” or more permanent materials, let us observe, and with philosophical fidelity, so far as possible, note the occurrences which have rendered Ireland still an important subject for historic research.
SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN IRELAND, FROM ITS INVASION BY HENRY II.
The great synod of the Irish clergy, held at Kells, as just mentioned, in 1152, at which Cardinal Paparon assisted on the part of the Roman Pontiff, and three thousand clergy, with several princes and nobles on behalf of the church of Ireland, an entire union and communion in all things with the see of Rome was solemnly agreed on, and all circumstances seemed to confirm the idea that the internal tranquillity and general prosperity of the country was finally secured. Roderick O’Connor was then monarch of all Ireland, and about this time occurred one of those minor incidents which often decide the destinies of nations.
Dermod Mac Murrough, a rude and licentious prince, king of Leinster, had debauched the wife of O’Rourke, king of Breffni, and the injured prince claimed the protection of the monarch, demanding satisfaction for the outrage; his complaint was urged with manly dignity, and in a style of expression which argues the very respectable state of literary composition then in use. As the document is curious, its insertion here may be allowed.
[Section]“O’Rorcius, Lotherico monarcho, S.
“Etsi non sum nescius, (illustrissime princeps,) humanos casus quo semper animo ferendos, et hominis esse, virtutis prestantia excellentis, ob meretricis inconstantiam mutabilitatemque [p. 26] non effeminari; tamen tum atrocissimum hoc crimen, quod ad te, certè scio, prius omnium rumore, quam meis literis allatum est, ita sit hactenus in‐auditum, ut ante hunc diem, non sit, nostra memoria, contra ullum (quod sciam) Hibernicum regem susceptum; severitas me jubet justitiæ concedere, quod caritas monet, vindicta recusare. Si dedecus spectes, hoc ad me unum fateor pertinet, si caussam consideres, en tibi mecum est communis. Qualem enim, in nostris hominibus, nobis regia dominatione devinctis, spem collocabimus, si mulierosus hic Mæchus, ac potius pudicitiæ expugnator, tanti sceleris impunitatem fuerit consecutus? Quippe, inulta principum flagitia (qui in omnium oculis habitant) perniciosam imitationem exempli populo prodere consuescunt. In summa; meam erga te voluntatem satis exploratam habes. Vides me fortunæ telis sauciatum, maximis incommodis adfectum, summis difficultatibus adflictum! Reliquum est cùm totus animo et studio sim tuus, ut injurias, quibus laceror, tam consilio togatus, quam auxilio armatus persequaris. Hoc cum velis, et ut velis, non solum à te postulo, verum etiam flagito. Vale.”
For the convenience of those readers who may happen not to be conversant with the language of this interesting document, a translation is subjoined.[3*][p. 27]
The appeal to the monarch brought the required support, and the royal delinquent was solemnly deposed, and expelled the kingdom with disgrace. In this emergency, he applied to Henry II., then engaged in a war with France, which kept him so employed, that he could not afford the exiled king the auxiliaries he sought to enable him to regain his lost possessions. The crime, moreover, which had caused Dermod’s expulsion, rendered him so infamous, that his life was forfeited for the offence, according to an ancient law, enacted in the time of Ollam Fodhla; he therefore had no chance of being restored, except through foreign aid. The following sketch of this prince’s appearance is thus given from Cambrensis.
“Dermod Mac Murrogh was a man tall of stature, and of a large and great body; a valiant and a bold warrior in his nation; and by reason of his continual hallooing and crying, his voice was hoarse; he rather chose and desired to be feared than loved; a great oppressor of his nobility, but a great advancer of the poor and weak. To his own people he was rough and grievous, and hateful unto strangers; he would be against all men, and all men against him.”
Henry would gladly have availed himself of the opportunity afforded him by Dermod’s application and offer of fealty, [p. 28] to revenge himself for the depredations which had been committed by the decendants of the Danes who had settlements on the coast of Leinster, whence they frequently issued with some Irish auxiliaries for the purposes of plunder, to the great annoyance of their English neighbours. But as the pressure of his affairs in Normandy required all his immediate means, the English monarch could only give his consent that the Irish king should endeavour to obtain assistance from the people of England, leaving him at liberty to use such inducements as he pleased for that purpose. The following is a copy of the instrument legalizing Dermod’s application to Henry’s subjects.
“Whereas Dermod, king: of Leinster, most wrongfully (as he informeth) banished out of his own country, hath craved our aid; therefore, forasmuch as we have received him into our protection, grace and favour, whoever within our realms, subject unto our command, will aid and help him, whom we have embraced as our trusty friend, for the recovery of his land, let him be assured of our grace and favour.”
The ambitious views of Henry had been directed to Ireland long previous to the time of Dermod’s expulsion, and the acquisition of that island to his English dominions appears to have engaged much of his secret purpose; the power and influence of the clergy which then prevailed throughout Christendom, and was paramount in Ireland, kept him in awe, and prevented an open avowal of his designs. The late convention of the Irish churches with that of Rome, was a further bar to his hopes; but on the death [p. 29] of the pope, under whose auspices the union had been effected, his successor appeared a proper person to favour his project.
Nicholas Breakspear, a low‐born Englishman, had raised himself to the cardinalate of Albano, and in 1154, the year in which Henry came to the crown, was elected pope, under the title of Adrian the fourth. The causes that influenced his holiness to evince his attachment to the English king, by promoting his designs upon Ireland, have never been fully explained; but it would appear not remote from truth to assert, that the steps taken to induce the Irish clergy to acknowledge the pope’s supremacy, were made preliminary to the unjust transfer of their country’s independence; at least, that Henry took advantage of that circumstance to carry his design into execution.
John of Salisbury, the king’s chaplain, furnished with secret powers, made application to the pope, and not without success: for his holiness, with an arrogance which set at defiance every principle of justice, and the law of nations, usurping the authority of temporal dominion over Ireland, gave a bull to that effect, empowering Henry to take possession of that country made over to him by virtue of this iniquitous compact. The pretensions set forth in that extraordinary instrument may be best seen in the bull itself: the following copy will prove, that the “barbarous” Irish could write better latin, and express more elegantly the sentiments of virtuous minds, (as was seen in the letter of O’Rourke) than the Roman pontiff.
[Section]“Adrianus episcopus, servus servorum Dei, charissimo in Christo filio, illustri Anglorum regi, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.
“Laudabiliter et satis fructuosè de glorioso nomine propagando in terris, et eternæ felicitatis præmio cumulando in [p. 30] cœlis tua magnificentia cogitat, dum ad dilatandos ecclesiæ terminos, ad declarandam indoctis et rudibus populis Christianæ fidei veritatem et vitiorum plantaria de agro dominico extirpanda, sicut catholicus princeps intendis, et ad id convenientius exequendum, consilium apostolicæ sedis exigis, et favorem, in quo facto quanto altiore consilio, et majori discretione procedis, tanto in eo feliciorem progressum te (præstante domino) confidimus habiturum, eo quod ad bonum exitum semper et finem solent attingere, quæ de ardore fidei et religionis amore principium acceperunt. Sane Hiberniam et omnes insulas, quibus sol justitiæ Christus illuxit, et quæ documenta fidei Christianæ ceperunt, ad jus beati Petri, et sacro‐sanctæ Romanæ ecclesiæ (quod tua etiam nobilitas recognoscit) non est dubium pertinere, unde tanto in iis libentius plantationem fidelem, et germen gratum Deo inserimus, quanto id à nobis interno examine districtius prospicimus exigendum significasti quidem nobis (fili in Christo carissime) te Hiberniæ insulam, ad subdendum illum populum legibus, et vitiorum plantaria inde extirpanda, velle intrare, et de singulis domibus annuam unius denarii, beato Petro velle solvere pensionem, et jura ecclesiarum illius terræ illibata, et integra conservare: nos itaque pium et laudabile desiderium tuum cum favore congruo prosequentes, et petitioni tuæ benignum impendentes assensum gratum et acceptum habemus, ut (pro dilatandis ecclesiæ terminis, pro vitiorum restringendo decursu, pro corrigendis moribus, et virtutibus inserendis, pro religionis Christianæ augmento) insulam illam ingrediaris et quæ ad honorem Dei, et salutem illius terræ spectaverint exequaris; et illius terræ populus honorificè te recipiat, et sicut dominum veneretur; jure nimirum ecclesiarum illibato, et integro permanente, et salvâ beato Petro, et sacro‐sanctæ Romanæ ecclesiæ de singulis domibus annuâ [p. 31] unlus denarii pensione. Si ergo quod concepisti animo, effectu duxeris prosequente compendium, stude gentem illam bonis moribus informare; et agas (tam per te quam per illos quos ad hoc fide, verbo, et vitâ idoneos esse perspexeris) ut decoretur ibi ecclesia, plantetur et crescat fidei Christianæ religio, et ad honorem Dei et salutem pertinet animarum, per te aliter ordinentur ut a Deo sempiternæ mercedis cumulum consequi merearis, et in terris gloriosum nomeu valeas in sæculis obtinere. Datum Romæ, anno salutis, 1156.”
In the annexed translation, the English reader will view, with no less surprise than indignation, the indecorous import of that monstrous instrument. In order the better to gloss over its manifest violation of human rights, a confirmation of its provisions was promulgated about sixteen years afterwards by Adrian’s successor: the latter is couched in the following terms:—
[Section]“Alexander episcopus, servus servorum Dei, charissimo in Christo filio, illustri Anglorum regi, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.
“Quoniam ea quæ a predecessoribus nostris rationabiliter indulta noscuntur, perpetua merentur stabilitate firmari; venerabilis Adriani papæ vestigiis inhærentes, nostrique desiderii fructum attendentes concessionem ejusdem super Hibernici regni dominio vobis indulto (salva beato Petro et sacro‐sancæ Romanæ ecclesiæ, sicut in Angliâ sic etiam in Hiberniâ, de singulis domibus annua unius denarii pensione) ratam habemus et confirmamus, quatenus eliminatis terræ ipsius spurcitiis, barbara natio, quæ Christiano censetur nomine, vestrâ indulgentiâ morum induat venustatem, et redacta in formam hactenus informi finium illorum ecclesiâ gens ea per vos Christianæ professionis [p. 32] nomen cum effectu de cetero consequatur. Datum Romæ, an. sal. 1172.”[4*]
On reflecting upon the terms of Adrian’s decree, and its confirmation by pope Alexander, it appears not unreasonable, that both should have been considered fabrications; and, indeed, both bear internal and very strong evidence that such was the case; yet a more convincing proof that either they were forgeries, or, which is tantamount, that Henry looked upon them as matters unworthy of serious regard is, that the former lay over during the interval of its writing and confirmation, and even then they were used in a manner almost pacific, as will be seen hereafter. With regard, however, to the justice of the case, it may be [p. 34] observed, that a more shameless usurpation was never attempted than that which would allow the pope the right of giving away independent and sovereign states at will; and never was pretence more ridiculous or futile than those on which such usurpation was attempted to be grounded. How would Englishmen of the present day endure, that a dreaming bigot should presume to make the British monarch a vassal to a foreign dominion?
Although provided with letters‐patent from the King of England, the endeavours of Dermod were ineffectual to raise the desired aid: in vain did he hold out the most nattering promises to induce numbers to join his cause; he was at length obliged to have recourse to the Welsh princes, who had been lately in arms in defence of their independence, and whose military ardour had not yet subsided. They were, moreover, preparing to make another effort to throw off the English yoke, and one of the principal chieftains, Robert Fitzstephens, was then actually in confinement to prevent the attempt.
Mac Murrogh, therefore, applied to Richard, surnamed Strongbow, Earl of Strigul, Pembroke, and Chepstow, who readily entered into his views; and, on promise of receiving in marriage Eva, daughter of Dermod, and succeeding to the kingdom of Leinster after his decease, engaged to go over into Ireland the ensuing spring. This compact between Dermod and Strongbow was futile in point of right, as the succession could not be so guaranteed, as Mac Murrogh was aware, by the laws of Ireland; so that the banished prince must in that case have deceived his new ally, or finally determined by this detestable treason to risk the chance of arms, and without remorse, involve his guileless and guiltless country in the horrors of a foreign war.[p. 35]
In the progress of the negotiations with the Earl of Pembroke, Mac Murrogh procured the enlargement of Fitzstephens, and engaged him and his half‐brother, Maurice Fitzgerald, to support his pretensions, having entered into an agreement, that, in the event of success, he should bestow upon them the town of Wexford and two cantreds of land adjoining. With these slender hopes of assistance he lay concealed in the mountains of Wales for some time, the better to disguise his designs; and of his behaviour there, Giraldus Cambrensis, bishop of St. David’s, who knew him personally, gives the following account: “languishing and lying for a passage, he comforted himself as well as he might; some time drawing, and, as it were, breathing the air of his country, which he seemed to snuff and smell; sometimes viewing and beholding his native hills, which in a fair day a man may easily descry.”
After sometime spent in this retreat he got over privately to the monastery of Ferns, which he had founded, and there was soon discovered by his enemy O’Rourke, in consequence of the active measures he was taking to interest some of his countrymen in his cause; but on making submission to the monarch, and satisfaction to the injured O’Rourke, he was permitted to remain, upon giving his son as a hostage for his good conduct, and a considerable territory was assigned for his support. Here he quietly waited the arrival of his Welsh auxiliaries, whom he urged to come to his immediate assistance.
Accordingly in the spring of the year 1170, Robert Fitzstephens landed with other chiefs, and 600 troops, who were joined by a considerable force under the command of Donald, the son of Dermod, and that prince soon after met them in person. Wexford fell shortly into the hands of the merciless invaders, who were thus put in possession of [p. 36] the territory which Mac Murrogh had promised. The king’s engagement to the Earl of Pembroke was soon after fulfilled in like manner; for, having arrived, and carried Waterford by repeated assaults, he was immediately married to Eva, and then declared by Dermod, roi‐damnah, or presumptive heir to the crown of Leinster, pursuant to the terms of the previous treaty. The Irish monarch having been apprized of the events at Wexford, expostulated on the injustice of the invasion, but to no avail; and indignant at the base proceedings of Mac Murrogh, put his son with his fellow hostages to death. The unfortunate Dermod was determined to dethrone the Irish monarch, to which he was strongly encouraged by his unexpected successes, but he became afflicted with a lingering and odious distemper, and died miserably the following year in the monastery of Ferns.
Strongbow’s title to the crown, with its dependencies, now afforded him sufficient pretence to push his successes, and he directly marched to Dublin to enforce his alleged right. Here he was more effectually opposed by the courageous Lawrence O’Toole, the archbishop, than even by the monarch of the island, who made an ineffectual show of resistance, his efforts being disabled by the dissensions then prevailing among the Irish princes,—an evil which perpetually operated against their common interests, and eventually led to their individual suppression.
Henry, whose jealousy had been excited by the successes of the Welsh chieftains, dreading that their power thus augmented might be directed to the recovery of their native independence, and perhaps to his detriment as king of England, issued a proclamation recalling all his subjects out of Ireland, on pain of forfeiture of their estates. This denunciation was evaded by Pembroke’s surrendering his [p. 37] Irish acquisitions into the king’s hands, and holding them as his subject; and for that purpose he repaired to England to make his submission in person. The murder of Becket had so alarmed Henry, on account of the odium in which it was every where viewed, and which had brought on him all the thunders of the church, then too terrible to be resisted, that he was easily reconciled to the Earl of Pembroke, and settled upon him, in form, the possessions he had lately acquired; and shortly after accompanied that nobleman to Ireland.
Had the policy of Henry been more open and decided, the progress of his arms would have been attended with many beneficial results, both to those subject to his authority, and to the people whom he sought to govern. A desultory and ineffectual warfare, conducted by scanty means on one side, and marred by disunion on the other, excited in both a barbarous and unquenchable hostility which neither could gratify, and which even the presence of Henry could not assuage. The princes of the country, wearied with constant broils amongst themselves to such a degree, eagerly seized the opportunity of cultivating their separate interests; and on Henry’s arrival, which took place on the 18th of October, 1172, many of them, particularly those of the south, hastened to avail themselves of his interference against the authority of the monarch.
The force with which Henry was attended on that occasion consisted of 400 knights and 4,000 inferior soldiers: but it would seem that this display of military force was merely intended to gain respect rather than to compel the Irish to acknowledge his claim to sovereignty in the island, as founded on the pope’s decree; for having accepted the submissions of several of the native princes, his first concern was to have a convocation of the clergy held as soon as [p. 38] possible, as he knew that must essentially promote the objects he had in view. Roderic, the monarch, whose authority was still respected, had withdrawn his forces to the Shannon, and set the invaders at defiance; whilst O’Neal, king of Ulster, following the example of his superior, declined submission, and stood in such formidable array at the head of the hardy Gael, that the cautious Henry was unwilling to hazard any engagement with those princes.
His whole attention was, therefore, directed to negotiation with the gownsmen, who were more likely to prove tractable, as being more directly under the influence of the holy see; he, therefore, summoned a synod at Cashel, which was numerous and splendid. Several of the southern princes attended, and so far the proceedings appeared to have the countenance of the legitimate authorities. But, it being found impossible to obtain the sanction of Gelasius, the primate, or to induce that patriotic priest to recognize foreign interference in the affairs of Ireland, Christian, an Italian legate, bishop of Lismore, a dignity to which he had been elected, it appears, for that purpose, was called to preside, although the archbishops of Munster, Leinster, and Connaught were present.
In this motley assemblage, composed of a foreign prince with his English and Welsh soldiers, and an unwilling clergy with dissembling chieftains, did Henry produce the bull of Adrian, backed by the confirmation of Alexander; to both which, acceptance was given with a facility highly suspicious as to its sincerity; and several resolutions were passed, by which the churches of Ireland and England were declared in conformity with that of Rome. As such a declaration was evidently superfluous, after the solemn compact made at Kells in 1152, it can be considered only as an insidious mode of cementing the union of civil rights [p. 39] between the two nations. At this crisis Henry was called away by the fears of rebellion among his own sons, and also on the summons of two cardinals, who were waiting in Normandy, to investigate the murder of Becket; and thus ended his memorable expedition, which a few years afterwards was followed by the submission of Roderick O’Connor, and the extinction of the Irish monarchy.
The offers of submission and fealty on the part of the southern chieftains were as hollow and insincere, as they were fraught with national calamity and personal degradation to themselves; and, in fact, the inauspicious visit of the English monarch, although it obtained for him a nominal dominion of a part of the island, by no means secured a permanent possession; and of this there is memorable evidence in the words of Sir John Davies, in “a discovery of the true causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued, and brought under obedience of the crown of England, until the beginning of the reign of James I.” wherein he says; “and so, being advertised of some stirs raised by his unnatural sons in England, within five months after his arrival, he departed out of Ireland without striking one blow, or building one castle, or planting one garrison among the Irish: neither left he behind him one true subject more than those he found there at his coming over, which were only the English adventurers spoken of before, who had gained the port‐towns in Leinster and Munster, and possessed some scopes of land thereunto adjoining, partly by Strongbow’s alliance with the lord of Leinster, and partly by plain invasion and conquest.”
After Henry’s departure, the adventurers hedged themselves into a small territory, called the pale, where the laws and customs with which they were used to be governed at home still continued to regulate their concerns; but many [p. 40] Irish septs remained undisturbed in their possessions, ruled entirely by their ancient laws and institutions. The late innovation upon the independence of the country had excited but a momentary alarm among the Irish chieftains, but still served to keep alive that repulsive hostility which manifested itself on every future interference of England in their affairs spiritual and temporal; and however opposed to each other in domestic rivalry, they seem to have cherished the remembrance of those late occurrences as a common and uniform ground of dislike to strangers.
The little colony within the pale, instead of becoming formidable to the natives by superior policy or arts, fell daily into disrepute, bordering on contempt, from paucity of numbers, and preserved itself from the irruptions of the surrounding tribes, merely by superior discipline. The disunion and perpetual hostilities of the Irish chieftains among themselves was a further source of protection; and this circumstance, once thoroughly discovered, became ever afterwards a ground of hope for the palists; not only to extend themselves more at ease, but for subsequent aggression, by artfully making those princes the means of mutual destruction.
Had Henry pushed his policy with greater energy at the time of his visit, and, taking advantage of the impression then made upon the minds of the people, traversed the island with a strong military force, and established the English laws, even such as they were, at once, instead of temporizing with the clergy as he did, there is great reason to think that little, if any, of that wasteful slaughter, which afterwards devastated the country and perpetuated its feuds, would have ensued.
What a woful picture of overwrought malice defeating its own ends; of low‐born ambition usurping the vices [p. 41] which it would efface; of cringing monopoly, and towering baseness, contending in mutual meanness; of obscure murders, illuminated only by the flashes of the falchion, or the blaze of the faggot, might be exhibited in illustration of that lamentable error! Such is not the object of this work; a purpose much more gratifying is in view,—by tracing the faults of generations long gone by to improve the condition of the present, and secure the happiness, if possible, and the welfare of the future.
The crude and helpless state in which Henry left the colony was but little improved by the appointment of Strongbow, as deputy of the king, over the places subject to his jurisdiction; nor were the successors of that Earl wise enough to benefit by his prudent example, to endeavour to subjugate by alliance; so that it became necessary to fetch constant reinforcements from England to supply the waste of their troops in those petty expeditions. This practice met with so many obstructions that necessity at length compelled many of the English barons to adopt the plan of Strongbow, and by intermarriages with the native families secured a footing in the island, which they could not otherwise have done. But these new alliances became in time the cause of serious calamity to the country, when their descendants began to quarrel about the spoil.
Whatever advantages had been gained by the English settlers in Ireland during the lifetime of Henry, and his son Richard, were nearly lost to them by the imprudence of John, who, visiting the country with the title of Lord of Ireland, conferred on him by his father, treated the Irish princes who were inclined to support his pretensions with such levity that a general combination of the natives was the consequence, and the annihilation of all the flattering hopes of the colony was seriously threatened. This [p. 42] event, however, was avoided by the valour and address of the English lords. In a subsequent visit John showed a determination to carry full obedience by force, for which purpose he came attended with a considerable army, but his expedition produced nothing in the way of securing even the remotest resemblance of conquest: the establishment of courts of justice in Dublin, the division of the pale into counties, and the building of some castles and forts, mark the extent of his exploits in Ireland: he did not deserve to acquire a new kingdom who had the weakness to give away his own.
In the succeeding reigns of Henry IV. and Edward I. the colonists continued their aggressions with various success. The Irish septs living within the pale, treated with barbarous severity, and divided between the institutes of two irreconcilable systems, preferred the adoption of the English laws, as tending most to the security of property: seeing their situation helpless, they sought the protection of the English monarch, and offered a sum of money equal to eighty thousand pounds of present currency. The offer was too tempting, and the proposal of such addition to the subjects of the crown too consistent with rational policy to be rejected, and Edward recommended it very strongly to the lords and gentry of the pale for their immediate acceptance; but they, strong in prejudice as well as possession, absolutely refused to comply. The English Justinian, as Edward was called, knew the importance of the appeal to his justice, and commanded the lords to assemble in a sort of parliament, and deliberate upon the matter. The order was complied with, but the application was finally refused. Thus was overthrown the first offer to conciliation and friendly intercourse between the colonists and native Irish, and this unwise return for [p. 43] their generosity kindled new resentments, and engendered irreconcilable aversion to their ruthless oppressors.
The effects of this impolicy were soon severely felt. The English lords had acquired such vast possessions that they considered themselves independent of all authority, and each of ten great families exercised a sovereign right in the respective territories; but this soon produced a rivalry, little indeed to be regretted if it concerned only themselves, yet of miserable consequences to the native population who were the unwilling supporters of each, and were equally the sufferers whichever side prevailed. So powerful had these family interests become that they not unfrequently met the royal authority, which was administered by deputy, with disobedience and open contempt. The family of Fitzgerald deriving possession directly from Strongbow, exercised princely dominion by right of inheritance from Dermod Mac Murrogh, whilst the Ormond family, (descendants of Butler, to whom, as being a relative of Becket’s, Henry II. had granted enormous estates in Ireland as a reparation for the death of his relative,) opposed the former with full force frequently in the field. Spenser thus depicts the state of the English government in Ireland as conducted by deputy.
“It was for the most part such as did more hurt than good; for they had commonly out of the two families of the Geraldines and Butlers, both adversaries and corrivales one against the other; who, though for the most part they were but deputies under some of the king’s of England’s sonnes, brethren, or other neare kinsmen, who were the king’s lieutenants, yet they swayed so much as they had all the rule, and the others but the title. Of which Butlers and Geraldines albeit there were very brave and worthy men, as also of other peeres of that realme, made [p. 44] lords deputies, and lords justices, at sundry times, yet thorough greatness of their late conquests and seignories they grew insolent, and bent both that regall authority, and also their private powers, one against another, to the utter subversion of themselves, and strengthening of the Irish againe. This you may read plainly discovered by a letter written from the citizens of Cork out of Ireland, and remaining yet upon record, both in the tower of London, and also among the chronicles of Ireland; wherein it is by them complained, that the English lords and gentlemen, who then had great possessions in Ireland, began, through pride and insolency, to make private wars one against another, and when either part was weak, they would wage, and draw in the Irish to take their part; by which means they both greatly encouraged and enabled the Irish, (which till that time had been shut up within the mountains,) and weakened and disabled themselves, insomuch that their revenues were wonderfully impaired.”
This unfortunate state of misrule is further displayed in the same writer’s view of the state of Ireland. “The governors,” says he, “usually are envious of one another’s greater glory, which if they would seek to excel by better government, it should be a most laudable emulation. But they doe quite otherwise. For this is the common order of them, that who cometh next in place, will not follow that course of government, however good, which his predecessors held, either for disdane of himself, or doubt to have his doings drowned in another man’s praise, but will straight take a way quite contrary to the former: as if the former thought (by keeping under the Irish) to reforme them: the next, by discountenancing the English, will curry favour with the Irish, and so make his government seem plausible, as having the Irish at his command: but he that comes after, will perhappes [p. 45] follow neither the one nor the other, but will dandle the one and the other in such sort, as he will sucke sweet out of them both, and leave bitternesse to the poor country, which if he that comes after shall seeke to redresse, he shall perhappes find such crosses, as he shall be hardly able to bear, or doe any good that might work the disgrace of his predecessors.”
Here is a lamentable yet accurate picture of the country; for, whilst the colonists were harrassed by the contending interests of their governors, the natives were not less distracted amongst the feuds of their chiefs[5*] ; both, the victims of petty and inordinate ambition, were prohibited from making those advances in civilization and moral order which the natural advantages of the island so largely invited. The immediate effects of this vicious and futile mode of government were, the degradation of the various ranks of society, or more properly speaking, the disruption and disregard of all social ties,—the sword alone, with its conclusive arguments, settling every difference; and brutal selfishness, or ferocious slaughter assumed the prerogatives of reason.
England was rapidly rising on the scale of refinement, whilst unhappy Ireland was sinking into the gloom of barbarism, scarcely even a trace of her ancient elevated character being left. Every where distrust produced disunion; the very apprehension of treachery excited feelings of hostility, easily kindled into open acts of violence, on the slightest occasions of fancied or real wrong; chaotic anarchy ministered to by suspicion, cupidity, and ingratitude, called into action the worst passions of the human breast; and such among the multitude as had philosophy enough to look upon the frightful scene, found relief in the apathy of despair.[p. 46]
In such confusion and universal degeneracy it could not be expected that the interests of religion were much attended to; far otherwise; for the grand struggle to acquire property on the one side, and to protect it from rapacity on the other, made all in a great measure unmindful of those peaceful principles which would inculcate moderation and mutual forbearance. So agitated was the pale, and so miserably small was the ecclesiastical revenue within the places under English jurisdiction, that few clergy of respectable English birth could be found willing to accept of any appointment in Ireland; so that in progress of time the state of church discipline was so fallen away that there remained little hope of increasing the number of the saints, as was anticipated by the bull of Adrian. The most part of such English as resorted thither of themselves, were either unlearned, or men of bad note, for which they had forsaken their own country.
The influence of the crown, it is true, continued to effect the appointment of Englishmen of family and education to the sees of Armagh and Dublin; and their authority as well as that of the other archbishops, was universally acknowledged and submitted to; but the old system of domestic election was uniformly observed with regard to the inferior clergy. Still, however, the tumultuous state of public affairs deprived the concerns of the church of that equable and calm character which ought to correspond with the exalted ends of its establishment.
Thus far our inquiry has embraced the most prominent points in the history of this interesting island; from which it is evident that the principal evils arose out of the feeble or corrupt modes of its government, from the moment it came within the influence of English dominion. The various efforts to establish a paramount authority in favour [p. 47] of the colony became ineffectual or injurious, and that failure was the more remarkable as the revolutions at the same time going on in England were violent or relaxed; until at length the palists appear to have blended with the people they came to subdue, in a kind of intermediate union, in various gradation, between the condition of liege subjects to the parent government, and natural enemies to its authority; nay more, the depression of the pale became so great, that its inhabitants were so far reduced as to pay a tribute, called the black rent, to certain of the native princes who had taken them under protection against every other aggression: and this tribute, annually drawn out of England, was enforced by arms whenever it was neglected to be paid.
The conflicting interests which kept the settlers at perpetual variance, gave rise to disgraceful quarrels among them, in which they distinguished one another as English by birth, and English by blood, and materially increased the calamities of the colony. By an extraordinary and unwarrantable stretch of arbitrary power, all the old grants of land were resumed to the crown, and all persons were declared to be unqualified to hold offices in Ireland, except those possessed of property in England; and every “mere Irishman”[6*] was excluded from every office or place of trust in any city, borough, or castle, in the king’s land, and from every ecclesiastical benefice or religious house under his majesty’s dominion, on any pretence whatsoever. Thus did this contemptible policy shut out the native Irish who lived under English jurisdiction, from the least share in the benefit of English laws: insulted the colonists who had already made great sacrifices to maintain [p. 48] their acquisitions; invited fresh incentives to the agitations already in excess, and brought the whole country into the most deplorable condition.
Under these circumstances, the degenerate, distracted, and barbarous state of the aboriginal Irish alone preserved the English authority from annihilation. Then had the government of England a glorious opportunity of consolidating its strength by incorporating all the people of the island under the same system of law: the genius of the Irish is naturally prone to love justice, and none are more amenable to its impartial administration: the spirit of the English laws would undoubtedly have been reverenced in preference to the arbitrary dispensations with which they were visited, upon the dismemberment of their ancient inheritance. Instead of that, they were declared enemies, in the most unnatural manner[7*] ; intercourse was forbidden, [p. 49] and conciliation in every way precluded; whilst, by the most unaccountable malversation, their uninvaded property was cantoned out as destined spoil, whenever a favourable opportunity should encourage aggression.
The characteristic apathy or indolence of the Irish surrounding the pale kept them in a state of inaction; whilst their chiefs, fancying themselves at the height of superiority over the invaders, because they were receiving a petty consideration for abstaining from hostilities; or, perhaps, as more consistent with their naturally generous character, thinking that nothing more was to be apprehended from men so humbled and reduced, disdained to offer further molestation. Thus all lay in a general, but dangerous state of tranquillity;—wakeful cupidity of conquest on one side, and vengeful, imprudent impetuosity on the other, ever ready to burst forth on the slightest collision.
Whilst England was torn by the White and Red Rose factions, the people of Ireland remained but little affected by the contest, except so far as some of the lords of the pale were drawn to support the competitors, as family connections claimed their assistance: in these efforts the rival families of the Geraldines and Butlers were most active in furnishing contributions, alternately assuming superiority in Ireland, according to the various turns of fortune experienced by the Plantagenets or Tudors. Even after the accession of Henry VII. destructive animosities still [p. 50] continued, and political intrigue ran to such excess that more than one spurious competitor was raised up for the purpose of disputing the king’s right to the throne.
The superior prudence and severity of Henry easily put down those idle attempts; he wisely pardoned his opponents, and resolved to manage the affairs of Ireland rather by policy than force. For that purpose the office of deputy was conferred on Sir Edward Poynings, whose legislative enactments in the little parliament at Drogheda so effectually circumscribed the influence of the Irish lords, that they could no longer make laws for Ireland without having the previous sanction of the English government. This famous enactment, emphatically called Poynings’ Law, was at first hailed with joy by the gentry of the pale, who were exhausted and wearied by the arbitrary proceedings of the lords; but it afterwards became injurious to future parliaments in Ireland, and produced some of the most memorable events in the history of the country.
Henry VIII. came to the throne of England with great advantages, as he united in his person the rival interests which had so long distracted his country; but he was of an age unfit for immediate benefit to either England or Ireland. For several years after his accession the Geraldines and Butlers carried on their disputes with unabated vigour, and the colony became alarmed for its existence. A powerful party was formed, who resolved to lay before the king, through his minister Wolsey, the true state of their circumstances. “In the various matters of this address is a complaint against the too frequent change of governors; the enormous jurisdiction granted to barons; the banishment of English freeholders by intolerable exactions, and the introduction of an Irish rabble into their places, at once the fittest objects and instruments of oppression; [p. 51] and the degraded condition of the colony, in which the English laws, manners, habit, and language, were confined within the narrow compass of twenty miles.”
This appeal drew Henry’s attention to the affairs of Ireland, and the Lord Leonard Grey was sent over with full powers to settle the kingdom. The proceedings of this nobleman soon restored confidence to the colonists, and the parliament was encouraged to pass laws in conformity with the views of the king, which were now directed to the great work of reformation: many of the Irish chieftains also were reconciled to submission, the more readily because their pride was soothed by Henry’s assuming (shortly after, 33 Henry VIII.) the title of king of Ireland, such was their hereditary reverence for royal authority.
“This preparation being made,” says Sir John Davies, “he (the deputy) first propounded and passed in parliament those laws which made the great alteration in the state ecclesiastical, namely, the act which declared King Henry the Eighth to be supreme head of the church of Ireland; the act prohibiting appeals to the church of Rome; the act for first fruits and twentieth part to be paid to the king; the act for faculties and dispensations; and, lastly, the act that did utterly abolish the usurped authority of the Pope. Next, for the increase of the king’s revenue, by one act he suppressed sundry abbies and religious houses; and by another act resumed the lands of the absentees. And, for the civil government, a special statute was made, to abolish the black‐rents and tributes exacted by the Irish from the English colonists; and another law enacted, that the English apparel, language, and manner of living, should be used by all such as would acknowledge themselves the king’s subjects.”[p. 52]
The greater part of the above laws, passed in the twenty‐eighth of the king, were rather specious than effective, as the king’s authority had scarcely any influence whatever beyond the reduced limits of the pale; and although several of the Irish princes, such as O’Neal of Ulster, and O’Brien of Munster, &c. accepted English titles from Henry, at the instance of the deputy, Sir Anthony St. Leger, they still held themselves absolute in their several territories, and independent of the crown, except so far as regarded mere submission in appearance. The suppression of the monasteries gave Henry what he found more immediately useful; and he felt the less concern about fixing the civil administration of the kingdom upon a permanent footing, and, therefore, the application of the Irish to be admitted to the benefit of the English laws was again treated with indifference.
Hitherto Ireland had known nothing but the ordinary calamities attendant upon a warfare, chequered only with the common passions of men, arrogant, ignorant, and domineering, whilst successful in their pursuit of plunder, and of others learning the vices of their oppressors, and their means of annoyance to retaliate the injuries of which they felt the severity; nor had a struggle of four centuries of mutually barbarous and sanguinary continuance, brought either to a sense of the miseries which their dissensions produced: henceforth, the hostile principle assumed a new character of acerbity from the progress of religious discord, which, unhappily for the general quiet, was now first introduced with the acts of Henry VIII.
Commissioners had been appointed to induce the clergy and people of Ireland to conform to the principles of the Reformation, as it was established in England; but this was strenuously opposed by the primate, Cromer, whose [p. 53] exertions effectually obstructed the progress of the intended change in spiritual matters, although supported by all the authority and armed interference of the government. To cause the renunciation of the Pope’s authority, with regard to the unwilling boon of supremacy, was not difficult, because the Irish never cordially assented to that measure; nor was its transfer to the English monarch quite objectionable, as it was considered to refer to temporals only; but the attempt to induce them to abjure the religion of their ancestors, which they prized beyond all worldly good, was looked upon with abhorrence.
The feelings which had consoled the Irish under all the distress and oppression already heaped upon them, became nothing, in comparison of the evils they apprehended from innovation in religious doctrines; the extravagant zeal, moreover, of the persons who were engaged in propagating the new creed, served to alarm them still more; and the more prudent saw with concern the images and relics of ancient ceremony exposed to sale without decency or reserve, and the hallowed monuments of their saints destroyed with Vandalic fury, and even the venerated crozier of St. Patrick indignantly committed to the flames. The event was not doubtful, it was interminable war. The Reformation commenced in uniting religious and polemical supremacy, as direct and just means for the accomplishment of an imaginary ultimate good, and the effort was made at the endless cost of a nation’s peace, the destruction of property, and the utter confusion of all right, human and divine.
Throughout the reigns of the amiable and lamented Edward VI.[8*] , and the sanguinary bigot, Mary, the state of [p. 54] Ireland remained much the same as before, nothing being done to tranquillize the country, but rather the breach of religious difference was more mischievously enlarged, and the animosity of party revived by attempts to annul the acts of Henry VIII., and to restore the influence and predominance of Rome once again into Ireland. But a salutary check attended the injudicious measures of Mary, as the Irish saw, with increased dissatisfaction, that while her government was pretending a restoration of religious rights, the arms of her deputy, Sussex, were depriving them of their estates, the whole of the two extensive districts, Leix and Offalia, now King’s and Queen’s counties, being added to the pale, and vested by act of parliament in the crown.
Another proceeding of the Earl of Sussex struck more deeply at the ancient independence of the country, and such was its apparent unreasonableness, that it was looked upon as highly preposterous. He caused an act of parliament to be passed, authorizing the chancellor to award commissions to persons selected by the deputy, who were to perambulate the territories of the Irish princes, and secretly ascertain the situation of the several parts of the country, so that a division might be made of the same into counties; and these, being certified to the deputy, and approved of by him, were to be returned and enrolled in the chancery, and thenceforth considered as effectually determined as if they had received the sanction of the parliament.[p. 55]
The policy thus observed in laying a foundation for future claims, became from its insidious tendency a cause of uneasiness and serious alarm; and secured to the government, for the first time, a powerful means of corrupting the source of legislation by enabling the deputy to command a favourable majority on every occasion, by causing the election of new members for the Utopian counties. The influence of this anticipatory possession extended much further; for, although the power of the native septs, particularly in Ulster, was still in a great degree unbroken, yet the government, by declaring at any time a particular portion of the country forfeited to the crown, whatever might have been the pretext for such a declaration, left room for pretensions at a future day.
The commencement of Elizabeth’s reign was comparatively quiet, but the apprehensions raised by the clandestine survey just noticed, and the endeavours to carry unpopular measures through parliament, in a time extremely short, brought forth an active opposition which ended in an open rupture of many of the more powerful barons with the crown. O’Neal, the dynast of Ulster, seized on the first attempts to promote the Reformation in Ireland, as a pretence for breaking with the government, whilst, at the same time, the feuds of Desmond and other chiefs in Munster, gave the deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, ample occupation for all his resources. The murder of O’Neal by some Scotch adventurers removed one enemy, and the activity and address of the deputy subdued or reconciled the rest, at least for a time.
The parliamentary enactments, chiefly obtained by an artificial majority, were calculated to break down the authority of the native chieftains, who were forbidden to assume their accustomed titles in places occupied by the [p. 56] government, unless sanctioned by grants from the queen, which they were invited to take, in order to be invested with them again, after the manner of English tenure: the chief governor was also authorized to present to the ecclesiastical dignities of Munster and Connaught; but the efficacy of these acts, and others more revolting to the feelings of the Irish, was prevented by the disturbances which broke out afresh, attended with greater virulence, in consequence of the severe measures used to advance the Reformation.
In this insurrection the Earl of Desmond took the lead, and several deputies were found unequal to the task of restoring tranquillity. The more active measures of the Earl Grey repressed the efforts of the disaffected, but his steps were marked with blood and desolation, so that Elizabeth was unwillingly compelled to learn the unpleasant truth, that if the government were continued in the hands of that deputy, her majesty would have to reign over nothing but ashes and carcasses. This was considered, even by Elizabeth, a bad way of communicating the light of the gospel; Grey was unwillingly recalled, and a general amnesty granted to such of the adherents of Desmond and his confederates, as would accept of it. The unfortunate earl himself, driven to the extreme of misery, was detected lurking in a retired cabin, and beheaded by a common soldier.
The calamities brought on the population of the south of Ireland by the progress of Grey’s arms were truly frightful. The following hideous picture of that expedition is drawn by Spencer, secretary to Earl Grey, (the author of the misery,) of which the writer was himself an eye‐witness. “The proof whereof,” meaning a harassing and destructive warfare, “I saw sufficiently exampled in these late [p. 57] wars of Munster; for notwithstanding that the same was a most rich and plentiful country, full of corn and cattle, that you would have thought they should have been able to stand long; yet, ere one year and a half, they were brought to such wretchedness, as that any stony heart would have rued the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glynnes they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legges could not bear them; they looked like anatomies of death; they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrions, happy where they could finde them, yea, and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves; and if they found a plot of water‐cresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast, for the time, yet not able long to continue therewithal; that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentiful country suddainely left voyde of man and beast; yet, sure in all that warre, there perished not many by the sword, but all by the extremitie of famine.”
On the recal of Grey, under whose military administration such havoc had been made, Sir John Perrot succeeded as deputy; a man to whom the great body of the people of Ireland looked up with reverential confidence, on account of his justice, impartiality, and liberal policy, as well as for his thorough experience in the affairs of the country, and his knowledge of the causes of the existing troubles, having filled (in 1570) a situation of important trust as president of Munster, during the administration of sir Henry Sidney. This able and discerning magistrate determined, by a benevolent and wise plan of government, to settle the tranquillity and happiness of the country on a secure and permanent foundation. By a steady, strict, and impartial execution, and gradual extension of English [p. 58] law, he aimed to reduce all the inhabitants of the island into a state of uniform polity, reformation of manners, peace, and prosperity.
The evident physical superiority of the population merely Irish, and the intimate commixture of kindred and interest existing between them and the Hibernicized English, as the descendants of the early settlers were called, impressed upon Perrot’s mind the necessity of yielding to circumstances, and to endeavour to erect out of this mass of heterogeneous and conflicting, yet valuable materials of civil combination, a structure conformable to the best ends of society.
To accomplish an undertaking of such magnitude was not an easy task for an individual, even unopposed in his benevolent views. The rancorous feelings excited by intestine tumults were to be allayed; above all, the spirit of aggression on one side, and of retaliation or sanguinary resistance on the other, was to be repressed, and both to be convinced of the dangerous impolicy of mutual destruction. To succeed in this salutary work, the pacific reformer had to contend with that ruined state of mind into which anarchy and the fiercer passions had reduced even the peaceable and more enlightened; and all the barbarous effects of war must have been counteracted before tranquillity could be fairly established.
The weak and defective policy of preceding administrations, instead of making Ireland productive, as the natural treasures of the island would have warranted, had, by palpable mismanagement, kept it as a continual burden upon England, draining the English treasury to support the selfish views of each succeeding deputy, and his fresh swarm of hungry and tyrannical adherents. Twenty thousand a‐year, a large sum in those days, was the usual [p. 59] subsidy, in addition to the revenue of the country, allowed to maintain the government. The demand of sir John Perrot, at the outset of his great experiment, was not more than fifty thousand per annum for three years only, in which time he undertook to render Ireland peaceable and productive; and never could money have been expended to more certain advantage.
Elizabeth was at that time engaged in an expensive endeavour to support her Dutch allies against the frivolous ambition of the court of Spain; and unmindful of the superior claims of her own subjects, she refused to comply with Perrot’s request, although it was well known that the king of Spain was preparing to send into Ireland a powerful supply of troops, arms, and ammunition, to encourage the Irish princes in their resistance to English domination: that spirit of opposition to the progress of the English arms was not experienced from the Irish chieftains alone, for the great English barons, descended from the early colonists, were armed in defiance of all authority which should appear to trench upon their possessions.
A less worthy cause, however, than the engagement to the Dutch, helped to influence the queen in her imprudent economy. The project of Perrot had awakened the jealousy of many of the great landed proprietors in Ireland; some who surrounded the government, and by their narrow and illiberal views, swayed the minds of each succeeding deputy to the old system of division and destruction; others who were absentees, (for that baneful class was even then existing, notwithstanding the confiscation of their estates by Henry VIII.) trembling for their property, both these united in a common apprehension, and represented, that if the scheme in contemplation should succeed, it must follow as a certain consequence, [p. 60] that the Irish, being no longer weakened or exhausted by civil commotions, would become too strong for its government; and that men so long inured to war, should their mutual strifes be laid aside, would turn their arms against the English, and expel them altogether.
It was in vain that these groundless and visionary anticipations were ridiculed or reprobated by persons who knew Ireland from experience, and could speak most correctly of the true state and direction of its affairs; the queen wavering and hesitating, allowed the important trial to be made, but contracted the scale of operations by giving the philanthropic speculator a very limited and totally inadequate sum of money, with six hundred men, in addition to the forces already on foot in that country.
The first step taken by the deputy was to assemble a parliament, in order to obtain their sanction and support to his undertaking; little, however, was to be expected from an assembly composed of those very persons who were interested in opposing the intended pacification of the country. Their efforts to increase the civil wars had been productive of too much advantage to them to be easily relinquished; their continuance constituted their most flattering hope, and therefore every engine was set at work to thwart the proceedings of the chief governor: even the ordinary compliment of suspending Poynings’ law, as a mark of confidence, was refused him; and so far was the spirit of hostility carried, that even forged letters were forwarded to the queen, blackening his reputation, and misrepresenting his views.
Steady, notwithstanding, to his purpose, the deputy proclaimed unqualified protection to all who should return to allegiance, and proceeded fearlessly among the most refractory of the native septs, whom by his justice and [p. 61] moderation he brought over to his wishes, and secured their acquiescence, by pledging himself to an equal administration of justice to all the inhabitants. His exertions were attended with such beneficial results, that most of the Irish chieftains, influenced by these happy prospects, made a ready offer of allegiance to her majesty, and those of Ulster and Connaught voluntarily agreed to the payment of a composition for the maintenance of a considerable number of soldiers, as the government should choose, for the protection of those provinces, without any expence to the queen.
Here, then, was a glorious commencement of good government; a stop was about to be put to the inhuman butcheries which had so long disgraced the country, and the reign of justice was likely to commence; the enlightened Perrot had even attempted to supply the want of education, which so lamentably was felt since the suppression of the monasteries, by establishing a university; but unfortunately he failed in his generous and salutary designs. Thwarted on all sides by a turbulent and insatiable faction, and sickening at the aggravated cruelties he could not repress; cramped in his powers by the intrigues of Elizabeth’s councils, which by drawing troops from Ireland to oppose the Spaniards on the continent, left the country defenceless, exposed to the danger of domestic dissension, and to an apprehended invasion on the part of Spain; all these things filled him with disgust: weary with exertions, which he found useless, this excellent man resigned his situation, and retired from a scene where his wisdom had proved unavailing.
In order to repair the waste of population produced in Munster by the military progress of Lord Grey, and to prevent the Irish from again taking possession of that [p. 62] fertile district, Elizabeth was desirous of repeopling the whole province with an English colony. The rebellion of Desmond had enabled her to appropriate to the crown the vast estates of that earl, amounting to 574,628 Irish acres, together with the possessions of about one hundred and forty persons implicated with him, which had also been subjected to forfeiture. Adventurers were invited from every county in England, under the most encouraging circumstances, to colonize the new territory. The undertaker for twelve thousand acres, was to plant eighty‐six families on his estates, and so in proportion for less possessions. The native Irish were to be absolutely excluded from even the privilege of tenantry; and garrisons were to be stationed on the frontiers for the protection of the new settlers; commissioners were also appointed to decide their controversies.
This cruel and unjust design failed of its purpose. Few of those who were willing to avail themselves of such flattering offers, were found disposed to venture on the speculation, as they naturally expected serious opposition in taking possession of their several grants: the greater part of them, therefore, declined to fulfil the conditions. Still, however, it appears, there were persons willing to accept of these estates, because the principle of after‐claim had been sanctioned by the proceedings of the government, and long established by custom; but these proprietors being non‐resident, most of them never having seen their property so acquired, committing the management to ignorant or dishonest agents, (a mischievous practice not peculiar to that period,) contributed to increase the disorders then prevailing.
Among the persons who engaged in this speculation, particular mention should he made of the philosophic [p. 63] soldier, Sir Walter Raleigh, who by the introduction of the Potato from South America, made some amends for the cruel murders with which his name was stained under Grey’s command. In this instance it must be acknowledged, that a merciful interposition of Providence is manifest; for the humble orders of the peasantry of Ireland, notwithstanding all that has been advanced to the contrary, derive a support from this prolific and nutritive root, which enables them to bear the extraordinary accumulation of calamity by which they have been incessantly afflicted.
The establishment of English plantations throughout Ireland appears to have been a favourite object with Elizabeth, a settlement having been attempted at Ardes, in Down, by Sir Thomas Smith, which failed in consequence of the opposition experienced from the O’Neals. Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, about the same time projected an extensive colony in the territory of Clanhuboy, where the forfeited lands were to be protected by a standing force of twelve hundred soldiers; but this enterprize failed like all the others, and the project not only brought ruin on the undertakers, but Essex lost his life either from chagrin, or by poison, the familiar means by which his rival Leicester used to dispose of all who were opposed to his interest.
Amidst these agitated and unpleasant scenes it is gratifying to reflect that the benevolent purpose of Sir John Perrot, regarding a national education, was carried into effect about three years after it was first proposed. The accomplishment of that important affair was brought about by Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin, who although opposed to Perrot’s administration from motives of private interest, and, perhaps, piqued that he was not the first to suggest the plan, used his influence at the time to prevent it; yet he afterwards obtained a charter in 1591, for [p. 64] the erection of a college. The site chosen for the building was very appropriate, namely, the monastery of All‐hallows, near Dublin, founded by Dermod Mac Murrough for the usual ends of religious retreat and education. In the proscriptive measures of Henry VIII. this monastery underwent the general fate, and had been granted to the city of Dublin, from whose possession it was repurchased, and the schools were opened with great solemnity in January, 1593. The foundation has been since advanced to the rank of a University, and greatly enriched by legacies and donations: it is at present as distinguished for wealth as it is for erudition.
The imbecile and erroneous policy of Elizabeth, in refusing or rather rejecting the overtures of the Irish for a general pacification under Perrot, became wofully visible after his resignation; a general insurrection was the almost immediate consequence. This rebellion, raised by the chiefs of Ulster, was supported by the Spaniards, and artfully fomented by false representations that it was encouraged by the reigning Pope. It was long and violent, and cost the parsimonious Elizabeth upwards of four millions sterling, besides the life of her favourite Essex, and finally hastened her own dissolution; the unfortunate country having been scourged with a most rueful devastation, and a terrible waste of human life by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence with all its train of horrors.
The great military talents of Charles Blunt, Lord Mountjoy, united with a clear, comprehensive, and firm mind, broke down resistance in every quarter with uncompromising determination. Nor was the policy of this eminent soldier less powerful than were his arms. He endeavoured to detach the old natives from their turbulent chiefs, whether of Irish or English descent, and induced [p. 65] them under the fairest promises, which were generally fulfilled, to join themselves to his banners, and even take the lead in the most hazardous engagements,—a zeal which he turned to his credit with the queen; to whom he boasted with inhuman exultation, that he had thus made her enemies the means of self‐destruction.
A calm ensued. It was the tranquillity of death. The victorious deputy sat down in the midst of blood, to enjoy a peace purchased with the loss of half the population. In these circumstances James I. came to the throne.
STATE OF IRELAND, FROM THE ACCESSION OF JAMES I.
The principle on which English dominion was originally established in Ireland, must, from its very nature, have repressed the energies of the people, and prevented them from benefiting of the vast advantages which the country presented. Henry II. brought with him pretensions which, wisely directed, would have rendered his reign propitious, and the annexation of the Irish to his English subjects permanently prosperous to both nations; but his political necessities compelled him to deprive them of the happy consequences of union and equal rights, by throwing the one into the hands of needy adventurers, whose interest it was to isolate their acquisitions, and form a dangerous medium of selfish independence between both. The successors of Henry weakly followed his example. Sir John Davies gives a pithy view of this pernicious principle. “Our great lords could not endure that any kings should reign in Ireland but themselves; nay, they could hardly endure that the crown of England itself should have any jurisdiction or power over them. For many of these lords, to whom our kings had granted these petty kingdoms, did, by virtue and colour of these grants, claim and exercise jura regalia within their territories, insomuch as there were no less than eight counties palatine in Ireland at one time.”
These grants were made with a view of securing the attachment [p. 67] and support of the grantees in the time of the feudal struggles in England; but although that profuse liberality, at the expence of another nation, helped them to secure the possession of their own, it laid the foundation of a woful anarchy, which affords the historian nothing but a detail of military barbarities, and disgusting deterioration of national character. “Assuredly,” continues the writer just quoted, “by these grants of whole provinces and petty kingdoms, those few English lords pretended to be proprietors of all the land, so as there was no possibility left of settling the natives in their possessions, and by consequence the conquest became impossible without the utter extirpation of all the Irish, which those English lords were not able to do, nor perhaps willing, if they had been able. They persuaded the king of England that it was unfit to communicate the laws of England unto them; that it was the best policy to hold them as aliens and enemies, and to prosecute them with a continual war.”
Not content with carrying into effect this horrid proscription, they grew jealous of one another, filling the country with dissension, revolution, and bloodshed, through an over anxiety for extending their individual possessions, each making the nolumus hunc regnare the law of the hour, and tracing their land‐marks with the sword. How, it may be asked, could such men maintain even the semblance of good government, or indeed, any government at all? With what minds could they be supposed to legislate for the people amongst whom they held such jarring turbulence? The fact is, they became so degenerate, rudely arrogant, and restive, as to disdain meeting in parliament, or submit to be bound by any form of law whatever. Their conduct was marked by absurdity still [p. 68] more mischievous. They terrified or influenced the persons who did assemble on such occasions, to pass enactments of such a nature as to make the terms law and justice far from synonymous; their coarse intrigues perpetually thwarted the deputies, and rendered every endeavour of government nugatory. They went further; frequently usurping the reins of state, and by the most perverse and wilful mismanagement, making “confusion worse confounded.”
In circumstances like these, the people were treated merely as the means of promoting the factious purposes of those powerful lords, and consequently, a disposition to military strife and restless tumult was encouraged in place of their ancient mild and merciful character. Their original rude but simple institutions were corrupted, and no reformation of manners or substitution of better laws was attempted in their room. The native princes, still mindful of their hereditary wrongs, took occasional advantage of the impolicy of these contentions to regain their rights,[9*] but with a lamentable loss of national prosperity, their endeavours tending still more to augment the miseries of the country, without effecting aught of public good; because, the English lords, aspiring to the whole, refused to enter into any compromise which might secure the native chieftains even in a part, or admit of any amelioration of the moral condition of the people,—an injustice the most cruel and barbarous they could possibly commit.
Many of the Irish princes, more prudent than the others, [p. 69] sought the support of the government in England, submitting to the laws, and receiving titles in return: some even sat in the parliamentary assemblies, as appears in the reign of Elizabeth, when Turlough of Tyrone, ranking as a temporal peer in the parliament of 1588, and also the bishops of Clogher and Raphoe, who, according to the custom of the time, had received their appointment from the pope, independently of English authority, assisted in the deliberations of that period.
Antecedently to the reign of James, the national concerns of Ireland had never been represented in parliament. The convention, usually known by that name, should rather have been called the parliament of the pale than the parliament of Ireland, as it had cognizance merely of the affairs of the English colony; nor were its enactments obeyed except within the contracted limits of that little territory. Under James the parliament assumed a different character, and may be said to date its origin from the epoch of that king’s accession.
James was no stranger to the reduced and ruined state of Ireland at the time of Elizabeth’s decease, as he had privily fomented the rebellion with aids from Scotland, with a view to embarrass the queen, and prevent any strong opposition to his succession; so that, knowing the extent of the storm he had contributed to raise, he could the more easily obtain credit for understanding the best means of allaying it. The king’s vanity scarcely needed the adulation of the crafty Cecil to make him entertain the highest value for his own wisdom: he therefore proceeded at once to tranquillize the nation by acts of the royal will to secure persons and property from the consequences of implication in the late rebellion.
Acts of oblivion and indemnity were published by proclamation [p. 70] under the great seal, by which all offences against the crown, and all injuries between subject and subject were for ever cancelled and forgiven. A commission of grace was also proclaimed, by which the chief governor was empowered to accept the surrender of their estates from the Irish chieftains, and substitute fee‐simple tenure in place of the old brehon system of tanistry thus giving to the crown in fact a power of claiming those very estates in case of any complaint to be set up on any future opportunity. Time proved this fact too truly. Submitting to the English arms, they gladly laid aside all further hostilities: relying on this offer of James to guarantee even a secondary right in the soil, they resigned into the hands of a stranger, whom they had not proved, an indefeasible right derived from the remotest ancestry, and which it was their sacred duty to preserve unimpaired to their descendants. The tenour of this commission of grace is important, as it has the closest connection with the history of property at that particular period.
Each lord, accepting new patents for his estates, was invested only with the lands found to be in his immediate possession, while his followers were confirmed in their several tenures, on condition only of their payment to him of a yearly rent equivalent to his claims exacted formerly, under the brehon system, which was now declared to be abolished. This new arrangement, which appeared so fine in theory, proved, on account of the insincerity of its application, highly mischievous, by throwing the whole mass of the population into a new and unnatural state, and withdrawing them from their legitimate association with their ancient chiefs, and was in no respect better than the system it was calculated to supersede.
According to that part of the brehon law which regulated [p. 71] succession, the right of inheritance as to property was equally secured to all members of the state. As it regarded government, a slight distinction only was made. A chief, called a Tanist, was elected during the life‐time of the reigning prince, in order to obviate any misunderstanding that might arise on his decease, and this right of election was claimed by the sept on the brehon principle, that the chieftain possessed no property in the territory over which he ruled, except his patrimonial lands; he possessed a right in the throne only for life; the succession did not necessarily descend to his son, although the son might be elected Tanist, and as such be allowed to assist in the cares of government. Thus the followers, as the subjects of the Irish princes were emphatically called, were on a perfect equality with the head of the state in point of property: the revenue also of the prince, such as it was, consisted of voluntary support, and was seldom claimed, except in cases of extreme necessity. But as the monarchy was instituted for the national benefit, particular care was taken to provide a distinct revenue independent of all other princely claims, in order that this supreme office might be maintained with greater dignity and power. For this purpose, in the reign of Tuathal, who enjoyed the monarchy in the end of the first, and beginning of the second centuries, according to the Irish histories, the States granted considerable tracts of land to the royal domain of Tara, consisting of portions taken from the adjoining provinces, which are comprehended in the present county of Meath; and as this grant was made solely for the maintenance of the monarch’s court, it was denominated the mensal territory of the monarch of Ireland. The characteristic of the brehon rule, peculiarly calculated for peaceful circumstances, though, perhaps, insecure in times of exigency, was that [p. 72] of being perfectly patriarchal and fraught with devotional attachment between the prince and people. That such a system was of a nature too simple to answer the complicated concerns of extended population is manifest; but, under its provisions, the ancient Irish were content, and had learned so lively a sense of justice, as to merit the testimony, that “there is no nation of people under the sun, that doth love equal and indifferent justice better than the Irish, or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, though it be against themselves; so as they may have the benefit and protection of the law, when upon just causes they do desire it.”[10*]
By this departure from long established usage, nothing more was effected, it appears, than a change of terms, English for Brehon; for tenure being secured to those of small estate, which must have been desirable, and of which they had strong assurances[11*] , it remained to be proved whether inheritance had been rendered equally safe to future generations; and whether the new or the ancient lord was more entitled to regard. Whatever may have been the success of the design at that period is doubtful, as other new and afflicting causes arose to disturb the [p. 73] tranquillity of this ill‐fated country on the score of religion, bursting forth with those peculiarly pernicious effects which always attend difference of opinion on that subject, whenever property is involved in the question.
It is now necessary, in order to have a clear view of the advancement in civilized life, according to the proposed improvements which were to flow from the commission of grace, to consider what good effects followed the promulgation of English law in Ireland; and to ascertain how far that celebrated admonition of Bacon was acted on, namely, “to take care, lest Ireland civil should become more dangerous than Ireland savage.”
During the reign of Elizabeth, the prevailing troubles had greatly impeded the progress of reformation in matters of religion; and James, it is said, encouraged reports that he would be favourable to the catholics; it was even asserted by some, that he was in correspondence with the pope long before he came to the throne of England: at all events, the catholics flattered themselves with a toleration of their religion, and began to profess it openly, which they dared not to do in the preceding reign. Whatever may have been the religious principles of James, certain it is, that he soon undeceived the catholics as to their expectations of indulgence, and the sword of Mountjoy soon calmed their enthusiasm on that head. The act of conformity, (2 E.) which had lain dormant for many years, was promulgated with a proclamation of the king, for its strict observance; and all recusants, or such as refused to subscribe to its provisions, were subjected to certain penalties: by the same proclamation also, all popish clergy were commanded to leave the kingdom within a limited time. Plots too, which had been tried with such success in England, were resorted to in Ireland; and an anonymous [p. 74] letter conveniently dropped in the chamber of the Irish privy council, fortunately gave intimation of a new scheme of rebellion formed by the chiefs of Ulster.
The persons implicated in this pretended conspiracy were the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, who were suspected of being adverse to James’s plans for extending the reformation; or that being desirous to avail themselves of the discontents occasioned by those measures, they sought to re‐establish their ancient independence. Under the circumstances of their late defeat, and the influence it must have had upon the minds of the nation, such an attempt must have been considered absurd, and the accusation equally so. The guilt or innocence, however, of those noblemen still remains undecided; not so their fate. On the first alarm they fled the country, and were attainted of high treason, together with others of less note; and, by the act to that effect, their immense estates were declared forfeited to the crown.
That the king was aware of the means by which this plot was arranged, is plain, from his proclamation regarding it, wherein he pledged himself thereafter to make it appear to the world as clear as the sun, by evident proof, that the only ground of these earls’ departure was their own knowledge and terror of guilt; yet this proof has never since been given. The forfeitures accruing from the flight of the attainted earls, and others derived from Sir Cahir O’Dogherty’s estates in Inishowen, who was defeated after an ineffectual resistance of about five months, amounted to above five hundred thousand Irish acres, or nearly seven hundred thousand of English measure; comprising almost the whole of the counties of Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh, and Tyrconnel, the latter since called Donegal.[p. 75]
In consequence of the attainder pronounced against the lords of Ulster, the unoffending people residing in the forfeited districts were unjustly visited with the punishment of their alleged treason; unjustly, it must be said, because, by the commission of grace issued by James, the personal property only of the attainted persons was liable to forfeiture; and by the same instrument, the humblest individual not involved in the guilt of the others, was by the fact of his innocence, protected in the possession of his property. The disposition made of those lands, then, was the most shameful violation of justice and fair dealing that could be conceived: the whole territory over which the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel were supposed to exercise a tacit control of tanistry, was included in the act of attainder, and an undistinguishing confiscation took place.
James had now ample materials for carrying his favourite scheme of colonization into execution. The vast forfeitures made in the wars of Elizabeth, added to those now at the disposal of the crown in Ulster, were parcelled out amongst adventurers who were invited from England and Scotland; but in the distribution, special care was taken to encourage settlers well disposed to support and strengthen the principles of the reformation. The citizens of London speculated on this occasion, and a tract of two hundred and nine thousand eight hundred acres was assigned them in the vicinity of Derry, which they named Londonderry. The whole of Inishowen was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, the deputy, by whose advice the plantation was begun.
The errors in former attempts at colonization served to direct the proceedings in this, and the settlers were divided into three classes; namely, new undertakers, servitors, and native Irish: the latter were received, out of the king’s great clemency, because it was apprehended the whole [p. 76] scheme would otherwise fail for want of legalized occupants, and the work of subjugation, and of “braying in the mortar,” as was applied by Sir John Davies to the effects of Mountjoy’s campaigns, would have to commence again.
“The lands assigned for distribution were divided into proportions of two thousand, fifteen hundred, and one thousand English acres; and these were distributed by lot under certain regulations. The proprietors were bound to the performance of a variety of stipulations, tending to the security and improvement of the country, and the civilization of the natives. Among these was an obligation to set their lands at determined rents, on leases for three lives, or twenty‐one years at least. A yearly rent for the crown was reserved from all these lands, for every sixty acres from British undertakers, six shillings and eightpence; from servitors, ten shillings; from old natives, thirteen and fourpence.”[12*]
The kingdom being thus regulated in a manner that left little reason to apprehend farther disturbance, the king proceeded to take into consideration the state of the civil polity, which had remained in the greatest disorder throughout the former reigns. It might with more propriety be said that hitherto the laws had been ineffectual towards attaining the ends of justice, and seemed to have been framed for no other purpose than giving employment to the forms of government then in use. Accordingly, as all parties[13*] to [p. 77] whom the king looked for support to his plans of reformation, had been made satisfied with the grants of land; his majesty’s next care was to assemble a parliament to render valid all the previous proceedings of his reign in Ireland, as also to secure the success of those he had in contemplation.
Ireland had been the theatre of religious reformation as well as England, but the disturbances had rendered its progress a matter of secondary concern. The nation was at this time divided into two parties, catholics and protestants, (if there may be an exception of the Scotch settlers in Ulster, who were Calvinists,) whose powers were nearly balanced; the former, constituting the great body of the population, duped rather than defeated, were without influence; the latter, adhering to the cause which every day gained additional strength, and holding the largest share of property, enjoyed of course all the emoluments of office, and laboured to impose every kind of disqualification upon their political opponents. A parliament was, therefore, desired by the one party to confirm their acquisitions; it was wished for also by the other, to regain, if possible, under sanction of law, what they had lost in taking part in the late contests, or by not subscribing to the act of conformity. It was, in short, no longer Irish [p. 78] against English, it now became protestant against catholic; the latter, who were the old inhabitants of the pale, descended from the first settlers, having their numbers increased by the native Irish, who still remained firmly attached to their old form of religion.
Were the government of James indifferent, this might have been considered a crisis. The moment was critical, and the non‐indifference of James’s government turned the scale. The protestant cause obtained a preponderating increase by the creation of a number of boroughs in the new settlements, by an exertion of the king’s divine right. In the parliament assembled in Dublin on this occasion in 1613, the protestant members mustered 125 strong, whilst the catholic party was represented by 121. Neither could induce their opponents to give way; each side wanted to place a speaker of their own choice in the chair: the elections were loudly complained of, for their notorious injustice; all was uproar and confusion. Both sides had been long used to make the sword the arbiter of opinion, and they were on the point of having recourse to the old mode of reference, when the lord deputy, sir Arthur Chichester, prorogued the parliament, to enable both parties to lay their complaints before the king.
The complaint was heard with apparent impartiality, although two of the catholic agents were committed to prison: the king’s arguments against their remonstrance were conclusive, and the matter was ultimately referred to the privy council. The complaints of the catholics were declared groundless; and the desire on the part of the king, to keep a middle course between the parties, gave offence to both, and hopes were secretly cherished of maintaining their several views once more in the field. The parliament was, however, again convened, and the business of legislation [p. 79] was again begun, but under very inauspicious circumstances.[14*]
Although the proceedings of the memorable session of 1613, were of little immediate moment, yet the parties being brought into civil contact, began to feel each other’s capabilities of prevalence. The secret workings of Chichester brought into tangible shape his sentiments respecting the recusants: “of this kind of men we have no need, and shall have less use:” and the protestants soon found that the whole influence of the crown was with them, or to use a common expression, such as was then in use, “they had the ball at their foot,” and they were not long idle.
I would here entreat the reader to pause, and accept my most solemn assurance, that the use of such words as [p. 80] protestant or catholic, as they may drop from my pen, are never used, or intended to be understood in any irritating or injurious sense; tros, tyriusve would suit my purpose as well, if they could be allowed: truth, conciliation, and a love of justice guide my opinion; and as I purpose not to depart from the line of argument which these principles dictate, I must claim the indulgence which such motives merit.
Among “the matters to be handled in this parliament,” great care was taken to secure the establishment of the clergy. The whole temporal establishment of the Catholic hierarchy had been transferred with valuable additions to the reformed church, under parliamentary sanction. This measure affected the great body of the Catholics in a most tender point, as it threw upon them an ill‐judged burden,—that of the maintenance of a clergy proscribed by law, and now solely dependent on their generosity; whilst they were compelled to contribute by tithe to the support of the church as by law established.
The recusants of the pale, moreover, were refused that honourable confidence which their long military services and elevated reputation deserved; and their minds became alienated by the calumnies with which their religious tenets were assailed, whilst their discontents served but to promote the views of their adversaries. In the distribution of the plantation lands, likewise, a galling partiality was shown by the commissioners, who placed the injustice of their proceedings to the king’s account; whether fairly or not, is somewhat doubtful. The lands reserved for the old natives, part, undoubtedly, of their own hereditary possessions, were scandalously wrested from them, and given to needy adventurers, who insultingly settled in the fields stained with the blood of the victors and the vanquished, [p. 81] and exasperated both by seizing upon the subject of their mutual contention.
Another proceeding of James’s added still more to the misfortunes of the Irish. The estates of Connaught, which were surrendered in Elizabeth’s time, for the purpose of being re‐granted under letters patent, had remained without the necessary security of title, and were afterwards re‐conveyed to the proprietors by James under the great seal; but by neglect or design, the enrolment of the patents in Chancery had not been effected, although three thousand pounds had been paid for that purpose. A commission was issued by the king to scrutinize the titles of all estates in Leinster and Connaught; and by the active researches made under this commission, his majesty found himself entitled to make a new distribution of nearly four hundred thousand acres in those districts. Remonstrance and complaint, however humbly or earnestly urged, were useless. At length a new confirmation of the patents was agreed on, the proprietors paying to the King a sum double of what would arise from a new plantation of the lands in question.
The “terror and sharp penalties,” which Spencer deprecated in the reign of Elizabeth, as a means of promoting the Reformation, were, by the Irish parliament of James, again resorted to with an obstinate absurdity which neither prudence nor policy could justify. To disarm the hostility of the Irish chieftains by depriving them of all territorial power, in order to lay down a system of civilized polity and national amendment, was most wise and praiseworthy; but to take from the people the salutary check of religion, to force upon them doctrines to which they felt a decided aversion, to banish their priests by proclamation, and forbid the mass, was, to say the least, not consistent [p. 82] with prudence and the declaration of pacific intent so frequently and solemnly made known. Feelings of hostility, more fatally dangerous to the public repose than existed amidst any of the preceding ages of warfare, a keen sense of insult, and the mutual apprehension attendant upon in justice and visionary zeal, conjured up a demon similar to that which had long desolated England; and the meek spirit of Christian forbearance fled before the odious presence of bigotry.
The state of Ireland in the end of James’s reign was much more tranquil than might be expected from the baseness of that monarch’s measures; his successor found it far otherwise. The fanatical extravagance in matters of religious opinion which followed the agitation of the Reformation in England, was nearly at its height when Charles ascended the throne; and had extended itself, in the shape of severe intolerance, into Ireland, already in the most dangerous ferment from the recent troubles. Happily for the Catholics their circumstances were too much reduced to embroil them in the confusion of the reformers, and these, however divided among themselves, (for Episcopalians and Presbyterians were both contending for superiority,) agreed in a common desire to keep them still further off by a more marked exclusion.
On occasion of a threatened war with Spain, and the apprehension of domestic agitations, the Catholic gentry of Ireland came forward unanimously with offers of men and money in support of the government.[15*] The return [p. 83] they experienced was an order of the Governor‐in‐chief, forbidding the exercise of their religious rites; in the same manner were the Catholic Irish, who filled the victorious ranks of Elizabeth, treated by the cold‐hearted Mountjoy. But the Catholics were not the only sufferers, for their Protestant countrymen, who made offers somewhat similar, experienced an ungracious reception.
Lord Viscount Wentworth, who entered on the office of chief‐governor with a persuasion that all in Ireland were alike intractable, without weighing the existing differences, and regardless of the mutual prejudices which prevailed, made no merit of voluntary support from either, but commanded their obedience with a harshness of dictation that might at any other time have driven all into rebellion, for all had cause to be offended. The deputy gained his purpose, and raised the necessary supplies with the most insulting arrogance; and such was the awe with which he inspired parliament, that they ordered the sheriff to inflict corporal punishment on one of their members, who happened to displease the chief‐governor.
Previously to the time of this arbitrary magistrate, a successful endeavour had been made to extend the woollen manufacture in the southern parts of Ireland, which, from the mildness of the climate, and other circumstances, was [p. 84] well adapted for the purpose; this was suppressed by Wentworth, earl of Strafford, from political motives, lest Ireland should rise to competition in that respect with England; but to make amends for the monopoly thus established, he employed his accustomed energy to encourage the fabrication of linens in its stead, to effect which he even took a personal concern in its advancement. This last was for Ireland one of the wisest acts of the violent and unfortunate Strafford. After his departure to England, whither he was summoned to the aid of his ill‐fated master, Ireland again became a prey to discontent, intolerance, and tumult. The rebellion of 1641, with its odious details,—probable and improbable,—equally disgusting and appalling, followed; so also followed the downfall of the ungrateful Charles[16*] and the kingly form of government.
The puritanical party having succeeded in their designs for the subversion of constitutional liberty in England, turned their black anger against the royal adherents in Ireland; and the scourge of Providence was placed in the hands of Oliver Cromwell, who made all parties in that devoted country feel to the last point of endurance the weight of the visitation. The progress of that sanguinary fanatic spread desolation in every quarter; and the efforts of the marquis of Ormond, although directed with singular skill and perseverance, were found unequal to resist the destructive ravager. The Catholics, who, from their number [p. 85] as well as inclination, supplied the chief material for the royalist ranks, particularly experienced the vengeance of the conqueror; and the five days’ incessant carnage in Drogheda, after the town was taken, and the subsequent cold‐blooded butchery at Wexford, of the Catholic soldiers who formed the garrisons of both these places, are sad proofs of what that loyal class was then compelled to suffer.
Cromwell, who had scriptural authority ready to shelter his boldest and most atrocious crimes, used to urge his soldiery to treat the Irish Catholics “as the Canaanites had been treated in the time of Joshua.” Their extirpation seems to have been one of his main objects in following the war into Ireland, for not less than forty thousand of the natives, who had submitted or were made prisoners, were transported from the shores of their country, their sole crime being faithfulness to their king, for which they were branded with the stigma of rebellion; and their efforts repaid with proscription. The remainder were compelled to renounce whatever property they possessed in the more fertile parts of the kingdom, and were driven into the desolate wastes of the west, or in the words of the late earl of Clare:—“After a fierce and bloody contest for eleven years, in which the face of the whole island was desolated, and its population nearly extinguished by war, pestilence, and famine, the insurgents were subdued, and suffered all the calamities which could be inflicted on the vanquished party in a long‐contested civil war. This was a civil war of extirpation. Cromwell’s first act was to collect all the native Irish, who had survived the general desolation and remained in the country, and to transplant them into the province of Connaught, which had been depopulated and laid waste in the progress of the rebellion. They were [p. 86] ordered to retire thither by a certain day, and forbidden to repass the Shannon on pain of death; and this sentence of deportation was rigidly enforced until the Restoration. Their ancient possessions were seized and given up to the conquerors, as were the possessions of every man who had taken a part in the rebellion, or followed the fortune of the king after the murder of Charles I. This whole fund was distributed amongst the officers and soldiers of Cromwell’s army, in satisfaction of the arrears of their pay, and amongst the adventurers who had advanced money to defray the expences of the war. And thus a new colony of new settlers, composed of all the various sects which then infested England, independents, anabaptists, seceders, Brownists, Socinians, millenarians, and dissenters of every description, many of them infected with the leaven of democracy, poured into Ireland, and were put into possession of the ancient inheritance of its inhabitants.”
It is said that upwards of six hundred thousand Irish acres were confiscated during that ever memorable interregnum, and that the Protector reserved to himself the whole of the county of Tipperary, as a demesne for the state, in which no adventurer or soldier was to have an assignment. As if the Catholics of Ireland had not sufficiently appeased the wrath of Cromwell by the loss of their estates, the most rigorous enforcement of the 2 Eliz. was proclaimed, and all exercise of their religion, even in private, made a capital offence; a reward of five pounds was offered for the head of a priest or a wolf, and the non‐discovery of a priest was punished with confiscation of property and death: thus it was that the sufferers under this horrible proscription were doubly punished for their sacrifices of blood and treasure in defence of their lawful, however unworthy, sovereign; and thus it was, amidst all [p. 87] the revolutions which visited and harassed that unhappy country since the first arrival of the English, that, to use the vulgar saying, “whoever danced, they were sure to pay the piper.”
In the first parliament convened after the Restoration, the impediments thrown in the way of the Catholics to prevent them from taking a part in the legislative deliberations were effectual. In this their enemies were encouraged by the ill‐advised behaviour of the king, who permitted them to be treated with the most ungracious severity, after all their sacrifices; they were also prevented from assembling to represent their grievances, and even from passing, on ordinary business, from one province to another. Although hitherto they were not excluded by law from seats in parliament, yet the episcopalian and puritan party managed to secure a decided majority in that assembly by the most arbitrary and unconstitutional measures.
A vote was passed by the commons, that no one should be admitted a member of that house, but such as had taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. A resolution was also passed by the house of peers, that all the members thereof should receive the sacrament from the hands of the Speaker, the archbishop of Armagh. The parliament, thus exclusively constituted, by depriving itself of its original character of national representation, passed the famous acts of settlement and explanation, by which the crown relinquished its claim to the forfeited lands, and in return for this generous disinterestedness, that assembly, which was chiefly composed of the adherents of Cromwell, voted the hereditary revenue of the country, by which the king and his successors were made in a great measure independent of the people for supplies.
The difficulty of apportioning the confiscations was so [p. 88] obvious, that commissioners were appointed to determine the various claims; and the manner in which that trust was discharged will best appear from the following representation of the matter given by the late earl of Clare, in his speech on the Union, in the Irish house of lords, in 1800:—
“The act of settlement professes to have for its object the execution of his majesty’s gracious declaration for the settlement of his kingdom of Ireland, and the satisfaction of the several interests of adventurers, soldiers, and other his subjects there; and, after reciting the rebellion, the enormities committed in the progress of it, and the final reduction of the rebels by the king’s English and protestant subjects, by a general sweeping clause vests in the king, his heirs and successors, all estates real and personal, of every kind whatsoever, in the kingdom of Ireland, which at any time from the 21st of October 1641, were seized and sequestered into the hands or to the use of Charles I., or the then king, or otherwise disposed of, set out, or set apart, by reason or on account of the rebellion, or which were allotted, assigned, or distributed, to any person or persons for adventures, arrears, reprisals, or otherwise, or whereof any soldier, adventurer, or other person was in possession for or on account of the rebellion. And having thus, in the first instance, vested three‐fourths of the lands and personal property of the inhabitants of this island in the king, commissioners are appointed, with full and exclusive authority, to hear and determine all claims upon the general fund, whether of officers and soldiers for arrears of pay, of adventurers who had advanced money for carrying on the war, or of innocent papists, as they are called, in other words, of the old inhabitants of the island, who had been dispossessed by Cromwell, not for taking part in the rebellion [p. 89] against the English crown, but for their attachment to the fortunes of Charles I.; but with respect to this class of sufferers, who might naturally have expected a preference of claim, a clause is introduced, by which they are postponed, after a decree of innocence by the commissioners, until previous reprisals shall be made to Cromwell’s soldiers and adventurers who had obtained possession of their inheritance. I will not detain the house with a minute detail of the provisions of this act: but I wish gentlemen who call themselves the dignified and independent Irish nation, to know, that seven millions eight hundred thousand acres of land were set out, under the authority of this act, to a motley crew of English adventurers, civil and military, nearly to the total exclusion of the old inhabitants of the island. Many of the latter class who were innocent of the rebellion lost their inheritance, as well from the difficulties imposed upon them by the Court of Claims, in the proofs required of their innocence, as from the deficiency in the fund for reprisals to English adventurers, arising principally from a profuse grant made by the crown to the duke of York. The parliament of Ireland, having made this settlement of the island in effect on themselves, granted a hereditary revenue to the crown, as an indemnity for the forfeitures thus relinquished by Charles II.”
The composition rents, as the extortions under Elizabeth, James, and Charles I., were called, when forfeited estates, or those of defective title or otherwise questionable tenure were purchased over and over again by the possessors, to satisfy the illegal demands repeatedly made upon them on the part of the crown, were nothing compared to the mischiefs that followed on the act of settlement. The celebrated graces of Charles I., in which Strafford swindled the Catholics out of thousands for privileges which a good [p. 90] government would have solicited the subject to accept of, were not more baneful in the disappointment created by their non‐performance, than what arose from the illusions played off in that same act of settlement, or rather of direption.
The state of the Catholics at this time was little calculated to allay the irritation of mind naturally arising from the loss of property; insult had been added to injury, and the measure of excluding them from both houses of parliament, now for the first time effected, tended more than any other to complete their degradation. The Lord‐Lieutenant gave a very remarkable opinion on that exclusion, when he transmitted the votes of parliament to England for the royal assent. In his letter to the Earl of Arran he says, “I do not think it proper to convoke a parliament, chiefly on account of the severity of two bills transmitted against the papists, the one taking away the votes of peers while they are papists, and the other inflicting death upon a certain sort of papist clergy, if found in Ireland; the one seeming unjust, the other cruel, and neither necessary.”
The character of Ormond has been variously represented, praised or censured as he happened to aid or resist the contending interests of the times. Since the days of Sir John Perrot no man in supreme office appears to have had a more thorough knowledge of the Irish character than the duke of Ormond. Intrepid, prudent, humane, his views were manly, comprehensive, and just; liberal and enlightened, he studied alike the interests of king and subject: using force only where persuasion was found unavailing, he turned the results of his wise efforts to the general good. The knowledge he had of the human mind gave him a facility of foresight equal to execution; and even his very failings conveyed a useful lesson to mankind.[p. 91]
The open and firm administration of Ormond made him obnoxious to a party in England, called the Cabal, rendered memorable by their secret endeavours to subvert the prevailing order of things; and the agitated state of the Catholics afforded a convenient opportunity to make their complaints a pretext to question the propriety of his public conduct, whilst the great increase of his private fortune from 7000l. per annum before the war to nearly 80,000l. after its termination, afforded strong grounds to work his removal.
In his defence before the privy council, in England, he proved the charges of his enemies false and frivolous. His dignified behaviour, and the cool scorn with which he treated his accusers in the royal presence, so far provoked the favourite, Buckingham, that he asked the king, “Sir, I wish to know whether it be the duke of Ormond that is out of favour with your majesty, or your majesty with the duke of Ormond; for of the two, you seem most out of countenance.” His elevated integrity awed even his majesty, as was shown by an observation made by the king on seeing the duke approaching to take his seat in the council as usual: “Yonder comes Ormond; I have done all in my power to disoblige him, and to make him as discontented as others, but he will be loyal in spite of me; I must even employ him again; he is the fittest person to govern Ireland.”
By the superior management of Ormond, the protestant clergy got possession of the church‐establishment, in exclusion both of the Catholics, who had retained many of the benefices up to that period, and of the Presbyterians, whose power had become very considerable, during the short triumph of Cromwell’s party. The following account of this remarkable occurrence, taken from Gordon’s History of Ireland, may serve to show how fortuitously was obtained [p. 92] that revenue which has since accumulated so prodigiously, and which carries in its train such boundless influence.
“The king had assented to a request of the convention, that all impropriate and forfeited tithes and glebes, in his majesty’s disposal, should be granted to the clergy; and that all escheated lands, now exempt from the payment of ecclesiastical dues, should be rendered liable to the same. Ministers of the presbyterian worship, some of whom, beside the Scottish clergy of Ulster, had gained possession of churches in Dublin and its neighbourhood, had petitioned the king for the establishment of their own system; and a petition to the same purpose was promoted in the army. But Charles, by the advice of Ormond, the steady friend of the episcopal clergy, instead of trusting to the sense of a new parliament, composed in a great measure of puritans, filled immediately the four archbishoprics and twelve bishoprics with the most eminent of the clergy of Ireland. As their patents and consecration were delayed for some months, till a new great seal should be prepared, and as the delay was imputed by the enemies of episcopacy to an irresolution or reluctance of the king, a second petition in favour of the Presbyterians was drawn by the military officers, and signed by great numbers in various departments, civil and military. Coote and Major Bury, who then administered the kingdom, with the title of Commissioners of Government, agreed to suppress this petition, at the instance of Coote, who discovered in the style of the officers an aversion to monarchy; and in the administration of the new lords‐justices the consecration was performed with triumphal pomp to the great mortification of the many puritans, who had laboured with all their might against the episcopal establishment.”
The intrigues of factious persons in England, and of their [p. 93] interested partisans in Ireland, rendered the latter years of Ormond’s administration agitated and unhappy, from the numerous and unproved assertions of dangerous and hostile combinations of the Catholics to regain their lost possessions and influence in public affairs. Although the prudent measures of the Lord‐Lieutenant maintained tranquillity, it could not guard against the proceedings which were secretly in progress, encouraged and supported by the duke of York, more out of hatred to his personal enemies than from a sense of duty to promote the prosperity of any class of the population. It was such narrow selfishness and headlong bigotry that led to the Revolution, and subsequently caused his expulsion from the realm.
EVENTS ATTENDING THE ACCESSION OF JAMES II.
The circumstances which attended the accession of James II. were not likely to ensure to the subject those beneficial consequences flowing from the government of a prince respected by the people; but James was even more than not respected: he had the misfortune to incur the hatred of a powerful party in England, on account of his open avowal of being a Catholic; and while he came strongly recommended to the majority of the Irish by the profession of their religion, he was equally dreaded by the and wealthy powerful minority, who were determined to risk any thing rather than support his government. There was therefore no hope of unanimity between the monarch and the subject. England was decidedly Protestant, and could not be expected to submit easily to a Catholic king; for where torture and death had been recently inflicted for the crime of popery, and the flame of fanaticism had not been quite extinguished, the king who upheld a religion contrary to that of the state could not be long the ruler of that nation. The case was far different in Ireland; the dislike to James rested on grounds much more solid than that of religious prejudice, for property was almost at stake.
Ireland, like England, had its Protestant aristocracy, possessed of nearly all the territorial value of the island; with them were associated in power, the consequence of property, the dissenters, who had reaped the benefit of the [p. 95] plantation schemes: both kept the original proprietors of the soil in a state of degradation and disability favourable to their mutual security. This they effected by means of their own parliament,—and they took care to make that assembly consist only of themselves.
Where property is wanting, efficiency is obviously precluded. Intention is useless, destitute of the energy of means. The mass of the people of Ireland, Catholic invariably, from the first impression of Christian belief, was neutralized in effort, being rendered powerless from the loss of estate. The convulsions of protracted and petty warfare had thrown individual interest to the surface, and rendered them “the scum of earth:” they merely vegetated. Deprived of the influence arising from a participation in framing laws, their existence as a component part of the body politic was next to imaginary,—it was all but deniable;—more,—they bore the characteristic of obnoxiousness, being a monument of the injustice long exercised against them.
Had James the good sense to know and understand all this, and a sense of honour becoming his situation, he would not, on his abdication of the English crown, have disturbed the melancholy repose of the fallen, the helpless, the vainly loyal; he would not have dared to shelter his incapacity in the remains of ruined honesty, nor fling himself for support into the arms of those who, by the miserable tampering and chicanery of his predecessors, had been rendered incapable of supporting themselves. The fate of James was sealed when he started in his flight[17*] [p. 96] before William,—a man consistent, brave, and fortunate,—more fortunate, with regard to Ireland, than he deserved to be.
The folly of the Irish Catholics in adhering to James was fairly measured by the extent of his ingratitude. With a perverseness becoming his ignorance, he drew many of them to his ignominious exile, glossing his disgrace and their delusion by deceitful promises which could never be fulfilled, which, moreover, his cowardice had rendered nugatory. His conduct in Ireland was as ridiculous as impotent; his measures there to raise a party irretrievably fallen were useless to his hopes, and destructive of theirs, being calculated by his interested and inimical advisers, for instance, Clarendon, to rouse a hostility not inclined to slumber. The following passage is in the very best style of that sort of feeling which would describe motives of retaliation at such a time:—
“While James and his power lingered in Ireland, he assembled a pseudo‐parliament. He had chosen the members; he chose the measures—1st, the act of repeal, justifying all rebellion, breaking all faith; 2d, the act of attainder, proscribing thousands by name, and millions[18*] by inference; 3d, the act for liberty of conscience, licence to the papists, [p. 97] hardship to the reformed. The whole closed with the subversion of established institutions, dilapidation of churches, spoliation of bishopricks, denunciation, plunder, and oppression of the whole protestant community.”[19*]
The final ruin of James was retarded by the same means as that of Charles I., namely, the Catholic soldiery, but with both the result was greatly different. The one lost his crown, and is deemed a martyr, because his head accompanied the diadem: the other saved his head, and gained everlasting disgrace. The victorious William won from the brave supporters of his father‐in‐law uncontrolled predominance for his protestant adherents, and secured possession of the vacated throne by a treaty with his gallant and only remaining opponents. Of this treaty, the last effort of that party, brief notice must be taken, not merely on account of its own merits, but for the moral importance it maintains in the history of Ireland.
However opinion may differ on speculative points, truth remains pure in its abstract and immortal character. The generations of mankind that have passed away have left their reputation subject to investigation, and human power is but the obstruction of a shadow, when the eternal majesty of history, whose judgment is ever present, however it may be shunned, comes to fix its indelible stamp upon the thing that has been done. The treaty of Limerick is before every one who knows aught of Irish affairs, and should be read by all who wish to form an opinion on a subject of so much importance as the welfare of millions of of fellow‐men.
It is worthy of observation, that almost every period of Irish affairs from its first connection with England, has [p. 98] been marked with continual wars, invariably on account of property, and these have been more or less bloody in proportion as the contending forces were numerous or few. The resources of the invaded had to grow up among themselves, under peculiar disadvantages, and lost their efficacy for want of unity of views and action; whilst those of the invaders had all the accessions which a superior population and a concentrated policy could bring into the field: hence the success of the one was desultory and defective, that of the other progressive and secure.
The weakness of James, a papist, made a way for the succession of William, a protestant, and each was adulated and publicly prayed for as his arms prevailed;—the protestant and presbyterians of large estate remained, in general, indifferent spectators of the dispute, because they knew of James’s unwillingness to repeal the act of settlement, and they were sure of protection under William in the event of his success. The princely rivals were alike supported by foreign aid and civil dissension: the catholics who upheld James had nought but numerical force, and the protestants of Ireland who fought for William were not of the great landed class: that description of persons was satisfied with what they had already gained; the soldiers of William’s army were men of more humble character, but, like their wealthy precursors, were strongly actuated by the ambition of spoil, and there still remained wherewith to gratify their aims, and urge them to exertion.
The authority of the late earl of Clare has been already cited as unquestionable evidence of the measures pursued in determining the eventful transfer of property in Ireland: the following concise exposition shall conclude the subject; it was given in the progress of that eminent lawyer’s speech on the Union in 1800. The importance of the [p. 99] matter may serve as apology for the length of the quotation. “After the expulsion of James from the throne of England, the old inhabitants made a final effort for the recovery of their ancient power, in which they were once more defeated by an English army; and the slender relicks of Irish possessions became the subject of fresh confiscation. From the report made by the commissioners appointed by the parliament of England in 1698, it appears, that the Irish subjects, outlawed for the rebellion of 1688, amounted to three thousand nine hundred and seventy‐eight, and that their Irish possessions, as far as could be computed, were of the annual value of two hundred and eleven thousand six hundred and twenty‐three pounds; comprising one million sixty thousand seven hundred and ninety‐two acres. This fund was sold under the authority of an English act of parliament, to defray the expences incurred by England in reducing the rebels of 1688, and the sale introduced into Ireland a new set of adventurers.
“It is a very curious and important speculation to look back to the forfeitures of Ireland incurred in the last century. The superficial contents of the island are calculated at eleven millions forty‐two thousand six hundred and eighty‐two acres. Let us now examine the state of forfeitures:
|“In the reign of James I. the whole of the province of Ulster was confiscated, containing||2,836,837|
|Set out by the Court of Claims at the restoration||7,800,000|
|Forfeiture of 1688||1,060,792|
“So that the whole of your island has been confiscated, with the exception of the estates of five or six families of English blood, some of whom had been attainted in the reign of Henry VIII., but recovered their possesions before Tyrone’s rebellion, and had the good fortune to escape the pillage of the English republic inflicted by Cromwell; and no inconsiderable portion of the island has been confiscated twice, or perhaps thrice in the course of a century. The situation, therefore, of the irish nation, at the revolution, stands unparalleled in the history of the inhabited world. If the wars of England carried on here, from the reign of Elizabeth, had been waged against a foreign enemy, the inhabitants would have retained their possessions under the established law of civilized nations, and their country had been annexed as a province to the British empire.”
An illustration confirmatory of the truth of the noble Earl’s concluding observations is to be seen in the instance of Canada, which country is peopled with Catholics, and by the fortune of war came under British dominion; and although the inhabitants, being allowed the profession of faith to which they have been accustomed, have retained their possessions unimpaired, still are they most firmly and ardently attached subjects.[20*] Had England been less covetous of the Irish acres, and left the conscience of the people free, [p. 101] how prosperous and happy would Ireland now be, instead a of being reproach to the policy which first plundered, then brutalized her population with poverty and ignorance!
In the unnatural contest between James and William, a singular combination of contradictory circumstances presents itself. The formerly rival kings of France and England were on one side associated to restore a prince who had made an abdication of his throne; arrayed against him were his own children and his son in‐law, whose greatest efforts were directed to perpetuate his exclusion. James hired 5000 French troops to fight for him in Ireland, without a sous to pay them, whilst William engaged a considerable force of French Protestants to maintain his pretensions; and at the same time James weakened his cause by permitting 5000 of the finest Irish Catholic soldiers to be drawn into France to oppose the confederate forces in the Netherlands. James fled from his Irish friends to rise to the splendid ignominy of a saint, and left the husband of his daughter to take up the irksome care of the English sceptre which he had flung away.
General de Ginckle, who commanded in chief under William, in obedience to the king’s commands, unwillingly pursued the war to Limerick, where the last stand was made by the Irish army, headed by Sarsfield, Lord Lucan, who had succeeded to the chief command after the death of the French general St. Ruth, and the defeat at Aughrim.
William had tried the Irish forces more than once; he saw their bravery at the Boyne; he was sensible of the compliment paid to his skill and courage in that engagement by their offer of fighting the battle over again if both armies were to exchange kings; he knew these were men worthy of a generous enemy, and he wished to do them justice. The exigency of his affairs demanded decision. [p. 102] The French were masters of the seas, and a powerful armament with fresh troops was hourly expected. The delay of the war might be ruinous to his hopes. He therefore proposed terms to the Irish highly favourable to their prejudices, and in some degree beyond their expectation; namely, full exercise of their religion; half the churches of Ireland, half the employments civil and military, and a moiety of the forfeited estates. These terms were transmitted to the Lords Justices in order that they should be forthwith proclaimed. At this juncture the Irish army, pressed by the besiegers without, and embarrassed by discontent against the French allies within the walls of Limerick, capitulated to the English army.
The Lords Justices being apprised of this unexpected event, smothered the king’s proclamation, which has been since called the “secret proclamation,” because although printed it never was published, hastened down to Limerick, that they might hold the Irish to as hard terms as the circumstances of the moment would admit. The civil articles of the treaty show clearly how well they effected their purpose.[21*] They will be perused with interest; but [p. 103] as the military articles have little reference to the subject now under consideration, they are here omitted.[p. 104]
By this celebrated treaty, it will be seen that the king’s government guaranteed the full enjoyment of religious [p. 105] freedom to the Catholics of Ireland, and, in the words of the most important article,—“all and every their estates of freehold and inheritance; and all the rights, titles, and [p. 106] interests, privileges and immunities, which they and every or any of them held, enjoyed, or were rightfully or lawfully [p. 107] entitled to in the reign of Charles II.” Scarcely, however, was this sacred compact determined, when it was discovered [p. 108] that a fatal interpolation had been subsequently made in the act which was to confirm this treaty, without the knowledge or concurrence of the Irish; and this on one side has been used for the purposes of infraction, and with the other has ever since been a just subject of loud and reiterated complaint.
The interpolation complained of is thus described by Mr. Parnell, in his history of the penal laws against the Irish Catholics, p. 25. “The clause of the act (9 W. 3. c. 2. passed in confirmation of the treaty of Limerick,) corresponds with the articles, except in these most material points; after the word ‘inheritance,’ the stop, instead of being a semicolon, as it is in the original treaty, is altered to a comma; and, after the words ‘privileges and immunities,’ the words ‘to the said estates,’ are inserted; and thus the meaning of the second article is wholly altered, and the words ‘rights, privileges, and immunities,’ made to refer to the estates of the Catholics, instead of to their persons and liberties, to which only by the original article they can refer.” Promise between man and man is the simplest form in which justice is delegated from its eternal Author;—forms may bind; intention binds still more. [p. 109] Bad, indeed, must that state of society be wherein neither form nor intention in the same transaction can be a security against injustice.
The violation of the treaty was evidently not in unison either with the king’s private opinion with respect to religious toleration, nor of justice regarding the estates of the Irish concerned in the capitulation: he had always sent instructions to his government in Ireland to adhere strictly to the stipulations of the treaty, “for his word and honour were engaged, which he never would forfeit.” But William soon found that in the aristocracy there was “a power behind the throne greater than the throne itself.” The Irish parliament, regardless of the king’s declared wishes, and the express terms of the treaty, commenced a warm proscription of the Catholics’ civil rights, revived penalties already obsolete, and enacted new, with an eagerness worthy of a better cause.
The articles of Limerick allowed the free and full exercise of the Catholic religion; the acts of William and Mary forbade it. The treaty gave to the Irish, as the Catholics were called, the use of arms for the protection of their persons and property; the parliament deprived them of that stipulated security, and left them defenceless before petty insult: and (will it be believed?) it was made penal for them to cut their victuals with knives exceeding a certain length in the blade! Their children were debarred from receiving education unless under Protestant masters. Should any of them be found upon a horse worth more than five pounds, he was compelled to sell him for that price to the first Protestant who should take a liking to him! The possession of property was guaranteed as it stood in the time of Charles II., but the measures pursued by the parliament of William struck away one of [p. 110] its sacred guards, that of the will of a dying man who would bequeath his property to his son. Should the profits of a farm be found at any time to exceed one‐third of the rent, all improvements only tended to show the treasonable intention of the occupier,—he was therefore deprived of his lease.
To disarm a supposed enemy is an act of prudence; to weaken him by abstracting the means of resistance, is justifiable in its severity, because of its apprehended necessity; but to debase his mind, by tearing from him the benefits of education, is grovelling and brutal despotism. The 7 W. 3. c. 4. makes instruction, domestic or foreign, distinctly penal. Burke has thus expressed his opinion of this mode of legislation; “I have ever thought the prohibition of the means of improving our rational nature, to be the worst species of tyranny that the insolence and perverseness of mankind ever dared to exercise.”
It was enacted at this memorable period, that papists teaching school publicly, instructing in a private house, or being ushers to protestant school‐masters, should be transported out of the kingdom, on pain of death if they returned; thus placing this useful and harmless class of men on the same scale of proscription with the Catholic clergy. Rewards, also, as in cases of housebreakers, highwaymen, and other such violators of the laws, were offered for the persons thus condemned to perpetual banishment. These rewards were, for an archbishop, bishop, or persons exercising such jurisdiction, fifty pounds; for regular and secular priests, not registered, twenty pounds; and for a Catholic schoolmaster; ten pounds, to be levied on the Catholics of the county wherein such offenders should be found.
Laws like these, which would deprive the dying man of [p. 111] every consolation, which would bury his survivor in the darkest ignorance, alike destructive of all that can elevate human nature, with impious cruelty shutting out celestial light from the departing spirit and the infant soul, might be sufficient to characterise the policy of that sad time as barbarous in the extreme, but a still harsher feature remains to be pourtrayed. The dearest ties of social life were rent by the pressure of those unnatural enactments. Marriage was forbidden between Protestant and Catholic, and the sorest disqualifications followed disobedience. A fundamental blow, levelled at the very existence of that religion, which the first article of the treaty had solemnly recognized and sanctioned, was aimed to deprive them of their priests; for those ministers of religion were formally banished, and death was their inevitable punishment if they presumed to return. It was enacted also, with absurdity truly astonishing, that even the rites of sepulture should be denied under certain circumstances.
“The justices were likewise empowered to levy a fine of ten pounds upon any person present at the burial of a corpse in a suppressed monastery, abbey, or convent, not used for the celebration of the service of the church of Ireland: the one‐half for the informer, the other for the use of the parish. They were also directed to issue their warrants for suppressing all monasteries, friaries, nunneries, or other popish fraternities or societies, and to give an account of their proceedings to the next quarter‐sessions, under penalty of 100l., and perpetual disability to comply with this or any other provision of the act (9 W. 3.).”[22*]
One consequence highly injurious to the general interests of the nation attended these unwise and unnecessary [p. 112] proceedings; vast numbers of useful subjects were compelled to quit the country on account of the treatment they endured; and upwards of fourteen thousand brave men availed themselves of the treaty, and withdrew from their oppressors, bidding an eternal farewell to their native soil, leaving it a melancholy waste to those who wished to render it such. By a reference to the register of the war‐office of France, it appears that, “from the year 1691 to the year 1745, inclusive, four hundred and fifty thousand Irish enlisted under the banners of France.” Those who remained fell into a listless and sullen obsequiousness, apparently submissive, but yet not so; for how could such a state of things be well imagined? Human nature must be divested of its noblest attributes, if treatment such as the Irish then experienced could have impressed no remembrance of its injuries.
The triumphant party sought to elevate themselves upon the ruin of the depressed, and they succeeded; but left to succeeding generations much cause to regret their short‐sighted and preposterous conduct. Grattan has said, “the nation that insists on the humiliation of another, is a foolish nation;” and the Irish aristocracy soon found that their facility in seconding the views of the English parliament, and in re‐enacting their statutes in the trifling matter of the penal laws against the Catholics, was likely to be converted into a means of their own debasement.
The party in England which had succeeded in asserting their independence and liberty, now sought to deprive Ireland of the share of independence and pretensions to liberty obtained in the recent struggle; the restriction of the woollen manufacture which William had pledged himself to discourage in favour of England, was only a prelude [p. 113] to farther encroachments, until, at length, Ireland was treated as if she had not a parliament of her own: England completely usurped the right of legislating for both countries. The woollen manufacture was naturally the staple fabric of Ireland, as has been observed, on account of the richness of the pasture and the mildness of the climate; yet these gifts of nature were rendered useless, and the trade was altogether prohibited, except in coarse frizes.
The selfishness of England in this respect became its own punishment. The manufacturers of the south of Ireland having been thrown out of employment, by the suppression of their trade, emigrated to France and other countries by thousands, where their skill and industry conferred additional wealth and improvement, whilst their countrymen at home secretly supplied them with the material, which was now useless to Ireland, but which England by her monopoly, would have secured to herself. Thus the demand for English cloth, which it was calculated would increase by the prohibition of Irish manufacture, became superseded by the fabrics of France, by which means thousands of pounds were annually lost to England, which would have been gained had Ireland been allowed a share of honest competition.
This encroachment on the interests of Ireland at length roused the ascendancy to a sense of its attempted humiliation. The patriotic Molyneux wrote his book in defence of the privileges and independence of the Irish parliament: this spirited performance so incensed the English parliament, that it was made the subject of inquiry in a special committee; was condemned as of dangerous tendency, and, by command of the English government, was burned by the common hangman, because it asserted that, the kingdom of Ireland was as independent of the kingdom of England, [p. 114] as the latter was of the former. In this manner were the parliaments of the two countries committed one against the other; but that of England was studiously attentive to the advancement of trade and commerce, whilst that of Ireland, regardless of national prosperity, was combating for a shadow, and devising new methods to prevent the growth of popery.
Throughout the reign of Anne the parliament of Ireland amused itself in a strange display of independent principles, in which Protestant and Presbyterian, Whig and Tory, squabbling and scrambling for the emoluments of office, for they had the field to themselves, seemed to agree but in one point, namely, to swell the penal code against the unfortunate Catholics, who might now be supposed too humble for persecution. The mighty genius of Swift flung “a tub to the whale” of bigotry; but, not even the talents of that extraordinary man, and wisest of politicians, could retard the march of intolerance. In despite of the dazzling influence of his satire, which shed a comet’s blaze upon the absurdity of the time, and of his sober advice, which commanded turbulent intemperance to pause, two acts were passed, which, from their despotic character, Mr. Burke designates “the ferocious acts of Anne.”
By these acts the Catholics were disabled from the purchase of any lands, or interest in them, for a term beyond thirty‐one years: and if property came by descent, by devise, or will, the next heir, if Protestant, might possess himself of it. Another provision inflicted an additional outrage on human nature, besides that relating to marriage; as it permitted a son, on becoming Protestant, to make his father tenant for life to his own estate, and thereby left him at the mercy of a child, who after such a step afforded little hope of filial affection. Lest any influence [p. 115] should attach to property that might remain unassailed from other causes, estates were ordered to descend in the manner of gavel‐kind, in equal shares to all the children, notwithstanding any settlements to the contrary, unless the persons who should otherwise inherit would conform and take the usual oaths. The further ingenuity of their persecutors was directed with equal success to effect their exclusion from all share in the emoluments of office, from that of the lord‐lieutenant to the meanest situation for which payment was provided out of the public money; and such was the eagerness to legislate in this way, that the less the Catholics gave cause for persecution, the more indefatigable were the augmenters of the penal code; the one rising in gratuitous cruelty, in proportion as the other became more peaceful and submissive.
The last privilege of this unhappy class of the community was wrested from them by the same unfair procedure, namely, the right of presenting to ecclesiastical benefices, all advowsons being vested in the crown. But, as if the expatriation of their priests was not considered a sufficient means for the suppression of their religion, a premium of forty pounds a‐year, was allowed to any clergyman of that persuasion who should conform to the established worship, besides allowing him the same clerical rank as he held before his recantation. This was, however, in a great measure a futile attempt, as the instances of conformity in this respect have been exceedingly rare, and whenever they have occurred, the moral character ef the convert, or his motives, have seldom been considered meritorious. A modern anonymous writer, of strong judgment and considerable discernment, has given an opinion on this point, which seems not undeserving of attention.
“You may not be able to separate them from their own [p. 116] church. They are connected with it by too many ties,—ties, which, whenever they exist, bind strongly the human heart. Their church makes a part of their history; it has shared in all the vicissitudes of their good or evil fortune; it has drunk deeply of their almost exhaustless cup of bitterness. It has clothed itself with their best affections; it has nestled in their tenderest sympathies, and intrenched itself in their most cherished recollections.”[23*] Yes, truly, experience has long proved, that, both priest and people, they are indissolubly wedded to their religious opinions, and every effort to break the association has only tended to make it more durable: such is the natural consequence of persecution.
The death of Anne gave the Irish Catholics a respite from these inhuman enactments: a breathing time was allowed amidst affliction, and their conduct proved the pacific character of their principles. The succession of the house of Brunswick was about to be disputed by the English and Scotch adherents of the Stuarts; and measures had been secretly taken in the latter years of the queen to facilitate the succession of her brother to the throne: but on that occasion, as well as in the actual rebellion in Scotland, in favour of
Their forbearance could not, however, shelter them from [p. 117] obloquy; but, fortunately for the public tranquillity, by the calm and prudent management of the viceroy, the celebrated Lord Chesterfield, all the attempts of their enemies to rouse them into a rash expression of their feelings for the insults offered to their loyalty were defeated on their first appearance. That eminent statesman treated the Catholics, not as “common enemies,” but encouraged them to persevere in their peaceable demeanour; he discountenanced all party distinctions; extended to them the full protection of the laws; restrained the spirit of persecution, and wisely avoided all violent measures that then could tend to excite disturbance, which many were anxious to promote, as likely to afford some fresh opportunity of benefiting by commotion. By these means, and without increasing the public expenditure, he was enabled to send reinforcements to the royal army, whilst all hopes of
This happy state of things was soon put an end to by Primate Stone, of infamous and detestable memory,—a wretch, whose unnatural vices and party virulence must not pollute this page. By this man’s odious agency, the contests between the English and Irish interests were revived; and, as usual, fresh penal enactments fell to the lot of the unhappy Catholics.
The period of Irish history now under consideration, is curious in many points: it is far from being a “blank.” Englishmen, and the military adventurers who sought to promote the interest of themselves and England, at Ireland’s expence, now first began to learn the divine maxim of reciprocal duty. Necessity began to wring them into reflection, and the immortal Swift taught them how to reflect. [p. 118] Not only had the wicked measures hitherto pursued, defeated their own ends, by making the Catholic body a paralyzed member of the constitution, but the selfish indolence which grew out of the inordinate accumulation of property, would not awake to that admirable wisdom which seeks its own and the public welfare by putting the population into healthy and industrious action.
The Irish gentry, with an apathy highly censurable, had long consigned the native peasantry to a state bordering on political annihilation; and it would almost seem that their very existence was a matter of trifling concern. Such was the dislike, in every thing that related to the Catholic population, and so strong, that, were it not for the absolute necessity of retaining them to cultivate the soil, any proposal which might facilitate their extirpation, would not be looked upon with abhorrence. Mr. Burke has finely described this sort of feeling. “By the total reduction of the kingdom of Ireland in 1691, the ruin of the native Irish, and in a great measure too of the first races of the English, was completely accomplished. The new interest was settled with as solid a stability as any thing in human affairs can look for. All the penal laws of that unparalleled code of oppression, which were made after the last event, were manifestly the effects of national hatred and scorn towards a conquered people, whom the victors delighted to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to provoke. They were not the effects of their fears, but of their security. They, who carried on this system, looked to the irresistible force of Great Britain for their support in their acts of power. They were quite certain, that no complaints of the natives would be heard on this side of the water with any other sentiments than those of contempt and indignation. Their cries served only to [p. 119] augment their torture. Machines, which could answer their purpose so well, must be of an excellent contrivance. Indeed, at that time, in England, the double name of the complainants, Irish and Papists, (it would be hard to say singly which was the most odious,) shut up the hearts of every one against them. Whilst that temper prevailed in all its force to a time within our memory, every measure was pleasing and popular, just in proportion as it tended to harass and ruin a set of people, who were looked upon to be enemies to God and man; and, indeed, as a race of bigoted savages, who were a disgrace to human nature itself.”
Prudence alone, were no other motive existing, would have advised some method of managing the Catholic population, besides retaining them for the express purpose of exercising ingenuity in framing laws to disqualify them for all the purposes of social life; for it must have been obvious, that no ordinance could prevent their augmentation in point of numbers, unless some such as that which was intended by the Irish House of Commons in 1723, as may be seen by reference to the journals, 2d October of that year. “In consonance with the repeated recommendations of the lord‐lieutenant, (the Duke of Grafton,) the Commons came to eight violent resolutions against the Catholics, which passed without a dissentient voice; and thereupon leave was given to bring in heads of a bill, for explaining and amending the acts to prevent the further growth of popery, and for strengthening the Protestant interest in that kingdom. Heads of a bill were accordingly prepared, with a clause for castrating every catholic clergyman that should be found in the realm. The bill thus surcharged with this, worse than Gothic barbarism, was presented on the 15th of November, 1723, to the lord‐lieutenant by the [p. 120] commons at the castle, and they most earnestly requested his Grace to recommend the same in the most effectual manner to his Majesty, humbly hoping from his Majesty’s goodness and his Grace’s zeal for his service, and the Protestant interest of that kingdom, that the same might be obtained to pass into a law. It was transmitted to England, and for the honour of humanity there suppressed with becoming indignation.”[24*]
It need not be a matter of surprise that the enlightened legislators, who passed the penal laws against the marriage of a Catholic and Protestant, by which the inhabitants of the island were to be two distinct nations for ever, would be desirous of enacting the above measure if they could. Neither is it at all necessary to prove the unreasonableness or folly of such an ignorant proceeding, by shewing, that to lay such a restriction on catholic priests, to prevent the increase of that dangerous class of men, was quite superfluous, because their religious vows imposed upon them a restraint infinitely more efficacious than any act the legislature could contrive.
Whilst the care of parliament was thus notably directed against the clergy, the peasantry were silently and rapidly increasing in number. Oppression compelled them to cherish unnoticed obscurity, and there, in the midst of poverty, with which they had been long familiar, and of which they seemed proverbially fond, they multiplied in an amazing degree. Although their situation was still remarkable for “uncleanness in apparel, diet, and lodging, and a contempt and scorn of all things necessary to the civil life of man[25*] ,” still their inherent and hereditary disposition to obey the great law of nature, and a peculiar buoyancy of temper that gave solace under the severest [p. 121] privation, made them surmount every hardship; and the result was an extraordinary redundance of population.
Notwithstanding the direct operation of the Reverend Mr. Malthus’s “extremely various positive checks” such as, “severe labour and exposure to the seasons, extreme poverty, bad nursing of children, the whole train of common diseases and epidemics, wars, pestilence, plague, and famine[26*] ;” the population of the island kept on increasing at a rate unparalleled in any portion of Europe. This increase, however, began to be felt as a calamity, not from any defect in the supply of food, for the fertility of the soil appears inexhaustible; nor from any additional stretch given to the natural duration of human life; but from other causes, of a moral nature.
The impolitic measure of suppressing the woollen manufacture, and consequently of securing to England a monopoly of that branch of trade, threw the population back upon the resources of agriculture; whilst almost every kind of foreign demand, except corn, wool, cattle and their products: this principally affected the southern counties, where the population, the agricultural class especially, was almost exclusively of the Catholic persuasion. In the north the case was somewhat different: there the majority of the people, a great many of whom were Protestants, were engaged in the linen manufacture, and cultivation of the soil was of far less importance. Both of these classes were pressed upon by the demand for tithe, which operated with equal hardship, but in a different way. In the south [p. 122] a tenth part of the crop, or an equivalent in money, swallowed not only a tenth of the poor man’s property, but a tenth of his time and industry: in the north the industrious weaver was in some measure safe from that exaction, but he had to complain of the agistment‐tithe which made a demand for cattle. The ecclesiastical establishment had a right to the provision which had been secured by law; the inability and unwillingness of one party urged the other to insist upon their legal right, and parliament (1735) threw in its omnipotent preponderancy, and by a resolution of the House of Commons, wiped away the tithe of agistment, which resolution was long a custom, and afterwards became law.
This boon was undoubtedly a relief to the Protestant tenant, and lessened his inclination to emigrate, a practice then quite common, to get away from enormous rents and heavy lease fines; but it threw the burden with increased weight upon the agricultural class, leaving the more profitable and wealthy portion of the soil absolutely free of tithe; and in this instance the legislature evidently promoted their own interest at the expence of the humble and laborious peasantry. The Catholic, however, clung to the soil amidst domestic misery; the Protestant in manly sorrow turned his back upon the scene of his affliction, and abandoned those fields in which he could not obtain comfort or competency, carrying his arts and arms to the regions of North America, where he afterwards secured that independent superiority which was ever the object of his ambition.[27*] [p. 123] The evil pressure thus produced upon agriculture, as it affected the great mass of the Catholic peasantry, who were literally reduced to a situation worse than that of the Helotes of ancient Greece, pining in slavery amidst a people opulent and exulting in the enjoyment of civil liberty, so it bore with accumulated grievance, until discontent and want combined in irresistible impulse, and drove the people into desperate but ineffectual resistance to the severe exactions imposed upon their industry.
So long as pecuniary distress did not visit the mansion of the landlord, or wealthy proprietor, the complaint of the peasant might be uttered with impunity; the tithe, too, might be claimed, and enforced by an expensive and odious process at law, because the law‐makers had resolved to relieve themselves of every concern on that account; still the distress that pursued the poor man’s toil remained unalleviated, and illegal combination, with outrage, followed, and no parliamentary investigation or inquiry into the exciting causes was made; or, however well those causes must have been known, no remedy was attempted to be applied.
The attention of Parliament had been long engaged with contests between privilege and prerogative. The great lords had long engrossed the legislative powers by their means of bringing in majorities on almost every question. A party denominated patriots rose between the landed interest and the government, and the pension list obtained for administration that influence which subsequently has [p. 124] carried all before it. Among these party struggles the country in general was the sufferer; nothing was secured to promote industry or trade, and national poverty was the result: the government had its patronage; the landed interest its monopoly; the patriots their popularity, and the peasantry their midnight maraudings, barbarities, and secret associations, as Whiteboys, Hearts of Oak, and Hearts of Steel. A brighter and happier era commenced with the reign of George III.
ACCESSION OF GEORGE III.
In the preceding historical observations, the affairs of the Catholics of Ireland have necessarily engaged a large share of attention; larger, perhaps, than some will think they deserved. This objection was foreseen, but could not be obviated. The elicitation of truth has been already stated as the object of this inquiry, which has been prosecuted with unbending impartiality,—with perfect disregard as to whom it may chance to please or offend. The Catholics always constituted the great body of the people in Ireland;—they once possessed the whole of its property;—and still, though stripped of their ancient possessions and national honours, they form a vast numerical majority of the population, which, in spite of every check, is rapidly increasing. They have ever formed so prominent a feature in the character of that country, that it is impossible to refer to it in any way without including them. This is not offered by way of apology to any party. Wretched indeed must be the state of that country where the humblest advocate of justice should find it necessary to apologize for honesty of intention. Such, it is conceived, would be as insulting to the judgment as libellous on the understanding of the liberal and enlightened of the present day.
“The end and purpose of all government being the advantage, safety, and happiness of the community, the general discontent of the people is at all times an argument [p. 126] of a defective constitution, or of misconduct in those to whom the administration is committed: when the latter is the case, a change of ministers will probably prove a remedy; but if the mischief lies deeper, and has its source in the constitution itself, a change of ministers will only serve to increase the public ill humour, and by exciting hopes which cannot be gratified, add the resentment of disappointment to the anguish of former grievances.”[28*]
The influence obtained by the government over the Irish parliament secured eminent advantages to the great body of the people; as it opened a door to improvement in just legislation, which had been too long closed by the rude hand of monopoly. It is well worthy of remark, that the government and parliament of England, seeing the opportunity suitable, were the first to listen to the sober dictates of reason, and to set the Irish legislature the example of relaxing the penal code; nor does it derogate from the merit of the change to say that the embarrassments of the times rendered such an amendment a matter of imperative necessity. That it was necessary, needs little proof, from the fact of the parliamentary negative put upon the proposed inquiry into the recent disturbances in Ulster and the south of Ireland, although it was expressly declared by the earl of Northumberland, the lord‐lieutenant, that the matter of the recommendation came expressly from his majesty.
A moment of this nature was too important to be lost sight of: it involved consequences of a nature too serious to be overlooked. The dispute with the American colonies threatened to embrace Ireland in its effects, and the obstinacy of the aristocracy tended strongly to drive the [p. 127] people to make comparisons injurious to British interests. The policy of relaxing the penal code in Ireland became more obvious and pressing; and there appeared not one to contravene the opinion fearlessly advanced by Mr. Burke in the British senate, “that Ireland was now the chief dependence of the British crown, and that it particularly behoved this country to admit the Irish nation to the privilege of British citizens.” The minister declared his wishes, in the most explicit manner, to relieve the oppressed Catholics of Ireland of what they justly complained against, but stated that it remained with the parliament of that country to grant the concessions which were required.
Even then the parliament of Ireland were obliged to be bought into concession, although the liberal expression of British freedom led the way. Negociations were then in progress to extend the commercial interests of Ireland, and it appeared too ungracious to ask concessions for themselves, whilst they withheld acknowledged rights from others. The prejudices of centuries were forced to give way before the vigour of honest opinion, and the first great relaxation of the penal laws was obtained, but only by a majority of nine in the house of commons, whilst in the lords it was carried by two‐thirds of that assembly. The preamble of the act, which was brought in by Mr. Gardiner, is deserving of notice, as containing maxims of sound and incontrovertible policy; it stated, that the severities of the Act of Anne ought to be relaxed; that the Catholics of Ireland were excluded from, and ought to be admitted to the blessings of our free constitution; and that it would promote the prosperity and strength of all his majesty’s dominions, that the Catholics should be bounden to the Protestants by mutual interest and affection.
The provisions of this memorable enactment, which was [p. 128] passed in 1778, gave the Catholics, on subscribing to the oath of allegiance and declaration prescribed, the right to take, enjoy, and dispose of leases for a term of 999 years, or five lives; and allowed that the possessor of lands or other property was entitled to hold them under the same limitations as any other subject of his majesty. Besides these civil advantages, the moral mischief was removed of a proselyte son having power to insult an offended or unoffending parent, by demanding a maintenance out of the personal estate. These were important acquisitions to the community for which they were intended, and gave stability to society, by removing one of the most dangerous principles of subversion, discontent.
Of the behaviour of the Catholics on occasion of this triumph of justice over antiquated error, Sir Lucius O’Brien, who took an active part on that occasion, gives the following gratifying testimony: “The Roman Catholics seem everywhere highly grateful for the benefits they have received, and yet without any imprudent expressions of their joy: the principle ones of them everywhere come to the assizes to take the oaths to his majesty; and if it be thought necessary, the whole body of the people might be brought to do the same by the next session.”
In addition to the pecuniary embarrassments arising out of the ordinary expences of the government, and a diminished revenue, produced by the war with the American colonies, England was compelled to meet the exigencies of a new war with France and Spain, who took advantage of the contest with America, to insult the British power. Never was a more noble proof of the salutary genius of the constitution than was then displayed. A spontaneous evolution of patriotic devotion, evinced by all classes of the people in the volunteer association, prevented at once the [p. 129] dread of threatened invasion from the combined fleets of the enemy; but perhaps also saved England the danger of a dismemberment of her territory, by a separation total and destructive to the empire. Still greater advantage to the cause of independence and British freedom was obtained by the same glorious effort; for all internal dissension was so effectually allayed or forgotten, that it might be safely asserted, not one domestic enemy was to be found within the shores of Ireland: never indeed before were the laws at any time administered with greater strictness or efficacy,—never were they more willingly obeyed; the nation seemed to be so actuated with a generous flame of loyal unanimity.
Assuming a confidence which such a state of security fully warranted, the patriotic party in the Irish parliament, who had now gained a second victory of liberal principles, obedient to the voice of the nation, and supported by the volunteers, who spoke as one man, carried, by a unanimous vote, an address to the king, in which they strongly represented to his majesty the necessity of a free trade, as the only means of saving the nation from impending ruin: and this expression of the will and wishes of the people of Ireland was carried in grand procession by the speaker to the viceroy, all the streets from the parliament house to the castle being lined by the Dublin volunteers, drawn up under arms, in full uniform, and commanded by the duke of Leinster. The whole force of the volunteer association then amounted to forty‐two thousand men, and this formidable body, which existed per se, was not composed of mercenaries, but consisted of the nobility, gentry, merchants, citizens, and respectable yeomanry, ready to devote their time, property, and lives, if needed, in the protection and security of the country.[p. 130]
The success of this proceeding was followed by a more substantial pledge of prosperity, when in 1782 the parliament of Ireland was put into the same state of independence, with regard to the powers of legislation, as that of Great Britain; and in the following year this important measure, cleared of some constructive doubts, was finally determined to the general satisfaction. This is one of the pillars of that imperishable edifice which the genius of Grattan erected to his own immortal name.
In the history of this singular nation, the event just noticed is not the least memorable. Property had been essentially transferred, and it became irrevocably so, as well by the nature of the transfer, as by the duration of possession, by the new and important interests to which it gave rise, and also the disabilities which the prudential fears of the new proprietors imposed upon the old. The “force of things” induced the consideration that territory is of little value without inhabitants. Now came to conviction that best principle of polity, that population is the real wealth of a state; and with this conviction came also the persuasion, that a population so great as that of Ireland, if kept in a state of inactive degradation, and gifted with extraordinary sensibilities, might be found ample and dangerous material for political agitators to work upon.
That there were persons at this period studious to avail themselves of these circumstances is notorious. But these men deceived themselves. They seemed to forget the conduct of the Irish Catholics when
The state of society in Ireland had begun to settle into something like a nation; the field, long fattened with the blood of the occupants, was beginning to feed their more rational survivors with its exuberance; the enjoyment of peace, interrupted only by the envious steel, overspread the country with the treasures of population; augmented industry, the natural result of increased population,—for man is by nature not a sluggish animal,—every where diffused life and energy. Through an abundance in things of comfort, convenience, or luxury, and the want of demand among his immediate neighbours, the industrious flung his superfluities away, or was careless of their reproduction. Such was the state of Ireland without a foreign market.
The civil victories obtained over commercial jealousy in 1782–3, gave free trade, and, in its advantages, the wished‐for change. The national prosperity thence arising extended its blessings to the empire at large; Ireland would have derived peculiar benefits from fair competition, but the unnatural state of her society forbade the good, or [p. 132] withheld it from becoming generally useful. The Catholic population, reduced to the peasant class almost to a man, was still held down by the bonds of the penal code; their last hold upon the constitution had been filched from them in the elective franchise, taken away by a silent amendment to a bill[29*] in parliament, whilst the privileged portion, consisting of all not Catholic, were too few to constitute a nation on a modern statistic scale. Some active members of the latter class, aware of this, sought to establish what they conceived a better order of things.
Among the reformers were men of moderation: these, honest and patriotic, wished to see a sounder mode of legislation than the old, made a basis for an improved state of society, by remodelling the laws already in the statute‐books; because the error of a law once ascertained becomes the safest guide for its amendment: many, however, were eager to begin anew, and considered the existence of all ancient enactments an obstruction. The armed association of the volunteers presented a powerful aid to innovative effort, but the arm that would wield it was found too feeble. It was fortunate that the members of the volunteer ranks showed a reluctance to second the views of their factious leaders. The most reverend the Earl of Bristol, bishop of Derry, half military, half mad, would have relighted the torch of civil war; but the cool wisdom of the Irish Washington, Lord Charlemont, the venerable head of the volunteers of Ulster, prevailed, and the tranquillity of the country was preserved.
The seeds of civil confusion died not with the armed convention, which was sitting in Dublin at that period, under pretence of reforming the representation, but with [p. 133] intent to overawe the parliament to comply with their commands, claimed an authority more subversive of national prosperity than the errors of that which it presumed to supersede. Unfortunately the great bulk of the nation had been thrown into ferment by the proceedings of that convention; the Catholics had been roused from almost hopeless degradation with a promise of the restoration of the elective franchise; whilst the ascendancy were awakened to the utmost degree of alarm, by the danger of such a distribution of popular right.
The peasantry of the south of Ireland, “ground to powder,” as the late earl of Clare described them, “by enormous rents,” had become unable to pay the merciless demands made upon their industry. Besides the pressure of a tenth part of their labour, required for the support of the church establishment, a rent of six pounds per acre superadded to their domestic wants, was inadequately met by the pittance of five‐pence a day for their work, allowed them by their landlords. Driven to despair by extreme wretchedness, and relief lying far beyond hope, they sought the melancholy enjoyment of common misery, to pour into each other’s hearts the expression of mutual affliction.
Their meetings, at first harmless, soon grew into illegal combination. Their assemblies, unarmed and unresisting, were perfectly passive on the approach of any magistrate, who might, without a shadow of molestation, remove from amidst thousands thus met together, any individual charged with crime. Their prominent complaint was on account of tithe, to which they objected, as being a demand for no specific equivalent; and in their determination to resist payment of this exaction, they administered oaths to one another to ensure co‐operation. These proceedings [p. 134] soon assumed a more alarming feature; for, not content with an endeavour to abolish tithe, their miscalculating and ignorant minds, taking the inauspicious silence of the gentry for connivance or timidity, presumed to dictate a lowering of the rents, and raising the price of labour. An act of the legislature for the prevention of tumultuous meetings, and illegal combinations, put an effectual stop to these rude speculations, and sent the peasantry back again to remediless repining, and unavailing discontent.
The state of the humbler classes of society in the northern parts of the kingdom was considerably improved at this time. There the cultivation of the linen trade gave full employment to the people, and industry kept pace with population. There, however, the great bane of social happiness to Ireland, religious animosity, involved that flourishing province in a most pitiable state of petty hostility, which spread rapidly in a disgusting and almost universal plague of sanguinary outrage. The regret and concern of every one interested in the public happiness was strongly expressed, but without avail. The old military habits of the Peep‐of‐day boys, so the Protestants and Dissenters, descendants of the planters in Ulster, were designated, from their hours of aggression, gave them a decided advantage over the Defenders, by which title the Catholics distinguished themselves: in this contemptible warfare it is not known that any person of note was concerned, if a few narrow‐minded individuals in the magistracy be excepted.
These disturbances, however, soon became more serious, and lives were lost. The old proscription in the time of Cromwell was revived; and the assailants signified their intention to rid themselves of all obnoxious competition of their neighbours by fixing on the doors at night written [p. 135] notices, warning them to quit that part of the country on pain of extermination. These notifications were laconic and significant,—“To hell or to Connaught.” Obedient to this alarming and well‐understood admonition, the exiled Catholics, abandoning their habitations, sought the refuge pointed out to them, and transferred their industry, and their knowledge of the linen manufacture, into the wild heaths of Sligo and Mayo, where their progress has been proportionate to their perseverance.
By an unwise expedient resorted to at this period, namely, giving more than tacit encouragement to an illegal association styled Orangemen, the agitation of the public mind became extreme, and evils arose which have entailed the worst consequences on the country. “Terrible is the consequence of protecting crime. At the assizes of Armagh (1796), Colonel Sparrow was tried and found guilty of murdering a Mr. Lucas; upon his receiving sentence, he produced his Majesty’s pardon to the court, and was instantly liberated. This greatly irritated the people; as did the encouragement given by government to Orangemen, in allowing them two guineas per man, for arms and accoutrements.”[30*]
An experience of ten years had proved the advantages expected to arise from the bloodless revolution of 1782. It had even exceeded expectation: it raised an increased desire to accomplish the reduction of that ponderous influence which weighed down almost every question submitted to parliamentary consideration. This led to popular discussion, which is not always correct, nor regulated by moderation. The unnatural state of the Catholics, still deprived of their most important privileges, and even [p. 136] branded with ignominy by the partiality shewn to the Orange association, afforded a means of giving discussion an interest otherwise unattainable. The patriots wanted a subject for argument, and the oppressions of the Catholic body were materials on which to found the most solid, and to display the most brilliant. Concession was universally though tacitly agreed on by all classes of respectable Society, and the government ably anticipated the reformers. On that occasion, the staunchest of the whigs,—the most wise of the innovators, the most inflexible opposers of the Catholics,—allowed themselves to fall in with the stream of liberal opinion.
The Dungannon convention, composed of the representatives of one hundred and forty‐three Protestant corps, had declared, that, “as Christians and Protestants, they rejoiced in the relaxation of the penal laws against their Roman Catholic fellow‐subjects, and that they conceived the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of Ireland.” The truly noble and enlightened Charlemont went further; he sacrificed “a borough, and a prejudice” on the altar of conciliation. For all this the Catholics were humble in their expression of gratitude; they had suffered, and had learned the language of servility; but they shewed no disposition to appear “triumphant:” such conduct would have been senseless and unbecoming,—as offensive as imbecile.
Some friends of the Catholics knowing their wants, anticipating their wishes, went beyond their hopes, and did mischief to their interests by giving offence to government. Burke, who was aware of their design, thus ably argues to that point: “If,” said he, “whilst a man is dutifully soliciting a favour from parliament, any person should choose, in an improper manner, to show his inclination [p. 137] towards the cause depending; and if that must destroy the cause of the petitioner, then, not only the petitioner, but the legislature itself, are in the power of any weak friend, or artful enemy, that the supplicant, or that the parliament may have. A man must be tried by his own actions.”
It was in 1778 that the parliament of England, in conformity with the gracious will of the king, gave the first flattering proof of toleration to the Catholics: in 1793 the concessions made by the Irish parliament obtained the approbation of the father of his people. His Excellency, the Earl of Westmoreland, Lord‐lieutenant, on opening the session, assured the parliament that “he had it in particular command from his majesty to recommend it to them to apply themselves to the consideration of such measures as might be most likely to strengthen and cement a general union of sentiment among all classes and descriptions of his majesty’s subjects, in support of the established constitution. With this view his majesty trusted, that the situation of his majesty’s Catholic subjects would engage their serious attention; and in the consideration of this subject, he relied on the wisdom and liberality of his parliament.” The favours thus conferred were the elective franchise, and relief from other disabilities, many of which,—for instance, admission into corporations, strange to say, were rendered nugatory by the bigoted obstinacy and mean monopoly of many individuals who still nursed their ancient prejudices, notwithstanding the strong expression of the royal will enforced by legislative authority.
The parliamentary proceedings in this year fully answered the benevolent intentions of his majesty, as appears from the speech of the lord‐lieutenant at the close of the session, which opened with these remarkable words: “The [p. 138] wisdom and liberality with which you attended to his majesty’s recommendation in favour of his Roman Catholic subjects, are highly pleasing to the king.” Who would deny pleasure to the royal mind arising from the good of his people, or wish to see the exercise of wisdom and liberality restricted? No one surely who is a friend to the national prosperity, or who wishes to promote the public happiness.
Ireland was ever considered a fertile field for innovation; the pernicious distinctions arising from religions opinions had been often made the means of perpetuating civil discord: the reformers of 1782 would have turned the activity of mind, which flourishes in such dissensions, to the general welfare;—the innovators of 1793, actuated by the dazzling delusions of the revolution in France, studied to withdraw the people from the government, and, by instituting the republican society of United Irishmen, endeavoured to palliate their purpose, pretending to have in view advantages more national than those derived from established laws, the benefits of which, though long experienced, they thought proper to misrepresent. The age was ripe for such designs, and the agitators were indefatigable, secret, and successful; but their success continued only so long as their secrets remained undiscovered.
The conspiracy began in Ulster: the leaders and chief partizans were persons of the classes of Protestants and Protestant‐dissenters; the plans and principles of the society embraced the majority of both those classes in the north. Numbers of the Catholic population were induced to coincide with their views, although in most respects their interests were incompatible; but the more respectable and wealthy individuals of that body kept themselves prudently clear of the contagion. The notion, that “the Catholic [p. 139] follows his spiritual leader into implicit treason[31*] ,” had a refutation at this momentous period, when the catholic bishops, disavowing all connection between Catholics and the united Irishmen, presented an address to the lord‐lieutenant, in December, 1793, to be transmitted to his majesty, expressive of their “unshaken loyalty, and grateful affection to his majesty’s person and government.” If the notion so hastily, yet prettily, advanced, have foundation in fact, fact is here presented as ground of refutation; and if the Catholic follow his spiritual leader implicitly, he follows him to the throne, to pour out his sentiments of gratitude and loyalty, and not to insult the royal presence with “implicit treason.”
The movements of the innovators were not guarded enough to escape the vigilance of government, and the principle of division was employed to counteract their projects. The secession of the Protestants in the north, caused by agents acting under the influence of high authority, before the United Irishmen became an armed association, threw the directors of the conspiracy, contrary to their original intention, upon the Catholics as their chief resource; their numbers, bravery, and sufferings under the penal code affording strong hopes of their readily joining with the disaffected. Parliamentary reform, and Catholic emancipation were the ostensible pretexts under which the republicans rallied, and sheltered their ulterior designs.
Those Protestants who were made aware of the danger, assumed exclusive pretensions to loyalty, and began to form Orange Societies, an easy change of designation, and far more respectable, at least in sound, than the former one of peep‐of‐day‐boys. These societies were organized and [p. 140] armed in perfect military order, intended to counteract the United Irish society, when it might be found necessary to call them into action. The volunteer association had been a dangerous precedent; for here the country witnessed a force anomalous and unknown to the constitution, ready in military array to take the field at a moment’s notice; and thus a most mischievous bias took hold of the public mind as the prejudices of sect or party might incline. Thus feuds were formed, and animosities perpetuated, to the disgrace of the age, and the lasting infamy of the promoters of those odious combinations.
The characteristic caution of the northern withheld him from self‐exposure, and gave security; the proverbial thoughtlessness of the southern left him open to deception, and treachery. Extravagant promises, and plausible, but fallacious, representations had drawn the Catholics partially into the schemes of the Directory, and enabled those leaders to fill up their “constitutions[32*] ,” at least, with names; but the great body of that class, notwithstanding, remained untainted, as appears from the Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish parliament, in which it is stated, that when a member of the Irish Directory was questioned regarding the repulse given by the peasantry to the French, on their appearance in Bantry Bay, in 1796, he confessed “that the people were loyal because they were left to themselves.”
That the revolutionary association did not consist of the Catholics may be decidedly asserted from the same important document. “With respect to parliamentary reform,” proceeds the report, “your committee have to observe, that it was distinctly acknowledged by the persons, who, in their own phrase, have taken upon them to think for the [p. 141] people, that no reform of parliament will satisfy them which does not necessarily involve in it the subversion of all ecclesiastical establishments, Protestant or Popish, and the gradual separation of this kingdom from the British crown.” And again: “Your committee further allude to the insidious address used by the same faction, in turning to their purpose the religious feuds, prejudices, and distinctions of the country, which were revived principally by their wicked machinations[33*] ; at one time flattering the passions and hopes of the higher order of the Catholics, at the moment in which they meditated their destruction, and at another, stimulating the lower ranks to indiscriminate acts of outrage and vengeance against their loyal fellow‐subjects.”
Ireland was menaced with a dangerous convulsion, less from the volcano of revolutionary matter, than a conspiracy against her peace and independence more deeply laid, more dangerously devised. Political movements of the cabinet and smothered agitations of dark intrigues forboded the tremendous storm. The political atmosphere resembled the appearance of the natural before a hurricane,—lurid, and still. The presence of a just, merciful, and enlightened Viceroy, it was expected, would dispel the gloom. On the Earl Fitzwilliam every eye was fixed; in his measures every heart anticipated the fulfilment of the nation’s hopes and wishes. The cup of joy was lifted to the lip of expectation—and was dashed away. The minister had formed his plan. The good, the beneficent, the insulted Viceroy was recalled, and Ireland was sacrificed. Like the pacific Chesterfield, he was just shown to Ireland, and snatched away at the moment his presence was most needful [p. 142] and salutary. Of this disastrous removal of Earl Fitzwilliam a forcible and prophetic opinion was expressed by Lord Charlemont: “In spite of every wicked machination,” said he, “we had the mass of the people with us last new‐year’s day; and if we do not make some exertion, next Christmas‐day we may see them in the hands of the United Irishmen.”[34*]
The prediction was too true. The United Irishmen, deprived of their leaders by superior cunning, and well‐directed espionage, were driven into premature action; the Orange system was brought into play; and the soldiery, let loose upon the people, commenced the work of death and desolation,—covered the country with the horrors of a most calamitous war, and drove the innocent into cooperation with the guilty. All the ties of social life were torn up, and flung into one vast heap of undistinguishable ruin. The bayonet, whetted with religions rancour, was opposed by the merciless pike; whilst, at the same time, insidious but pitiless policy held out in one hand the olive‐branch, and flourished the lash of torture in the other. It was not war,—it was butchery. The contest was mad revenge, driven to desperation by exterminating pursuit. Let humanity throw her sacred veil over that unnatural and terrific scene, and bury in bottomless oblivion the remotest recollection of the sanguinary system that produced such horrors.
By the dreadful event of the rebellion of 1798, Ireland was preserved to England, but lost to herself. The rage, excited by military execution and licentious havoc was subsiding, and industry beginning to repair the mischiefs of war, when a great political manœuvre deprived the [p. 143] country of independence, and erased it from the list of nations. Mr. Pitt, availing himself of the confusion into which all parties had been thrown, secured the Union before the measure could be fairly understood; and knowing from experience how to obtain majorities in the Irish parliament, took that panic‐struck body by surprise, and boldly pushed his favourite purpose to accomplishment.
The exclusively loyal and the discontented were alike the dupes of the minister’s over‐ruling sagacity; he played the parties one against the other; his masterly penetration discovered the leading bias of each, and both were drawn easily within his toils. A successful charlatanry was at the same moment performed in the adroit and pliant palm of Lord Castlereagh, the able and indefatigable coadjutor and confidant of the British minister. They found the victory easy beyond hope; but they were lavish, even to profusion, of the means most likely to persuade. The Orange‐men were cajoled into acquiescence by flattering their notions of ascendancy, and by some well‐applied compliments of more solid kind. The calumniated, dispirited, and overawed Catholics had their fears allayed, and their hopes rekindled by an assurance of the long‐promised boon of emancipation in its most liberal form; and all were promised boundless blessings, arising from the paternal cares of one presiding legislature, and a community of interests between the united kingdoms. Thus, by a suicidal act of her own corrupt parliament, was Ireland deprived of political existence: a painful experience, however, of more than twenty years, has falsified the showy promises that induced her degradation; and vain, if not ridiculously absurd, is every hope, to reclaim privileges so long misused, so criminally surrendered.
A close attention to Irish affairs had made me familiar [p. 144] with the prevailing causes of unhappiness in that country: its increasing population, acknowledged fertility, and adaptation to the purposes of agriculture and commerce, had removed every doubt of its prosperity; and my mind was led to indulge in a hope to that effect by a persuasion that all classes of the community had laid aside much of their imprudent animosities: and if they indulged in any difference of opinion, that it would be as to the most effectual means of advancing the interests of humanity, and the general well‐being of society. But when the late disturbances in the southern and western parts of the kingdom came to be known, and the severe but, doubtless, necessary measures taken to repress them, were subsequently attended with famine and disease, all the ideas of that prosperity, so agreeably pictured heretofore, disappeared and left a painful subject for commiseration.
Being desirous, however, of having precise notions on a subject, at once involving the happiness or misery of millions, as well as the character of the government from which that county had so much to expect; and being, moreover, anxious to witness the actual state of the people which could require the interference of British benevolence and liberality to remove the miseries of famine; and to see the manner in which that generous subscription had operated upon the class to which its relief had been applied; I availed myself of a favourable opportunity, and visited the greater part of Ireland. I now venture to submit a true and faithful view of what came under my immediate observation. It is “a plain unvarnished tale.”
[1*] These monuments are so numerous, that an account of them would fill volumes. Many of them have been made the subject of dissertation by men of respectable literary research, such, for instance, as the Ship‐temple, near Dundalk; the cave, said to be a temple of the sun, at Grange, near Drogheda; the Amphitheatre in Kerry discovered by John Leslie Foster, Esq.; the Sepulchral Barrows; lastly, perhaps, in point of antiquity, the Round Towers, which are as yet not satisfactorily described.
Other remains of antiquity claim particular attention, as affording still stronger light to various parts of Irish history, particularly that relative to the landing of the Iberian Gaël, or Milesians, in the island. Those annals, by many supposed “fabulous,” distinctly state, that one division of that colony coming from Spain, under the command of a chief named Heremon, landed at a river called Inbher Colpa, on the eastern side of the island; whilst others effected their debarkation at different places in the south, under the directions of another chieftain named Heber.
One of the chiefs of Heremon’s expedition, named Colpa, is mentioned in the chronicles as having lost his life at the landing, and the river was named Inbher Colpa in honour of his memory. It is also worthy of note, that the Boyne still retains that name; the parish adjacent to the river’s mouth is also called “the parish of Colp,” pronounced Cope, being the same as the former term, softened by the favourite elision of the language. The history describes a battle fought between the Tuatha da Danaan and the people of Heremon, in which the landing was severely disputed. Here the antiquarian inquirer will doubtless be agreeably surprised to learn that testimonials of this event are in existence.
In the year 1806, some labourers were employed by Mr. P. Maguire, planting potatoes in a field at Mayne, a neat farm belonging to that gentleman, contiguous to the Colpa, on the north shore; when several urns of rude pottery were turned up from a depth of about eighteen inches below the surface. These urns were placed with the mouth underneath, and were filled with calcined human bones, intermixed with bits of copper gilt; and some contained golden fibulæ. One of the urns so found was deposited at the time with the Royal Irish Academy.
The credit of this part of the Irish annals is supported by another extraordinary fact. Westward of the scene of action just mentioned, and about five miles beyond Collon, the residence of the Right Honourable John Foster, late Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, is a high grassy hill, of artificial construction, upon an eminence which overlooks the adjacent country. This hill is called Carnach‐Colp, or the grave of Colpa, the warrior already mentioned. Like the other monuments with which this part of the country abounds, this was unknown, except in its unregarded name, until chance obtained for it some attention.
A respectable farmer, James Healy, resident on the spot, was having a field ploughed in 1805, at the foot of the Carn, when a large flat stone was turned up by accident; and an entrance formed like that of Grange by upright stones capped by others at right angles, was disclosed. This passage led into the interior of the monument, where the body of the chieftain had been, perhaps, deposited. It is probable that this place still contains valuable evidence of ancient manners, as it has not been explored; it was allowed to remain uncovered only for a very short time, because the farmer had lost some sheep which had strayed into it and never returned, killed, most likely, by the azotic air within.[p. 7]
It may, perhaps, be not unacceptable to state another circumstance, serving to illustrate a particular portion of the history given by Dr. Keating. It is there asserted, that Cormac, a monarch of Ireland who reigned in the beginning of the third century, was interred at a place called Ros‐na‐Riogh, signifying, the repose of kings, on the bank of the river Boyne. This place is still known by that name, and is the residence of a gentleman named Coyle; it is about seven miles westward of Drogheda, on the right bank of the river. The house is beautifully situated on an eminence, and stands, it appears, on the very site of the royal [p. 8] cemetery. About the year 1800, on making some repairs in a part of the house, the workmen discovered a subterranean building, consisting of several apartments, constructed of stones without cement, which appears to have been the most ancient mode of building with such materials. The extent of these repositories has not been determined as the place was imperfectly explored, and has since been closed up.
These proofs, out of a vast number, are adduced to corroborate the truth of historical relations long derided as fabulous, or as invented for the vain purpose of maintaining that pretension to antiquity, which is so proudly claimed by all the writers of Irish history who have drawn their materials from the language. As many of these have never before been made public, credit is requested for the present mention of them only so far as on investigation they may be found correct, and that investigation is candidly challenged from those persons who have leisure or inclination to follow the directions by which those monuments have here been pointed out.
[2*] Notwithstanding the splendid descriptions given by some warm‐hearted writers concerning the ancient prosperity of Ireland, the above opinion will continue to be received as true, until proofs shall be given that Ireland had an export corn trade. The argument, that the country was better inhabited formerly than at present, is not sufficiently founded, even by the fact of vegetable soil being found with marks of cultivation on the sides of mountains now covered with bog. That tillage has been employed in those situations is undoubted; but may it not be asserted, that those places were made to produce corn for the support of people who had made choice of those elevated situations for defence or security? Were it not that there is less vegetable matter to supply or produce the growth of bogs now than in former times, such a phenomenon might be again witnessed by future antiquarians, should the desolating hand of war remove the persons whose industry is now seen covering other parts of those very same mountains with patches of cultivation.
[Section]O’Rourke, to Roderic the monarch, greeting:
Although I am not ignorant, most illustrious prince, how a man ought to bear the misfortunes incident to life, and that a virtuous man should not debase his character by lamenting the inconstancy and fickleness of a wanton, yet as this most outrageous crime, which report, I am certain, much sooner than my letter, has carried to your ears, so unheard of heretofore, has never, until this day, so far as I know, been perpetrated against any Irish king, severity compels me to that just vengeance which charity would forbid. If you reflect on this disgrace, I confess it is entirely my own; but if you judge of the cause, it is common to us both. What reliance can we place on those submitted to our royal [p. 27] authority, if this lascivious adulterer, or rather this demolisher of chastity, obtain impunity of this signal guilt? The flagitiousness of princes, if left unpunished, because they stand conspicuous to mankind, is certain of leaving a pernicious example to the people. You see me wounded with the shafts of fortune, injured by the deepest wrongs, afflicted with the sorest embarrasment. It remains, then, as you are assured of my devotion to your interests, for you to support me with your counsel, and with your sword help me to avenge the sorrows that wring my soul. This when you will, and as you will, I not only ask, but demand of you. Farewell.
[Section]“Adrian, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son in Christ, the illustrious king of England, health and apostolic benediction:
“Praiseworthily and profitably doth your magnificence purpose, by spreading abroad your name with glory in the earth, and heaping up a reward of eternal happiness in heaven, whilst, as a Catholic prince, you intend to widen the boundaries of the church, to declare the truth of the Christian faith to the ignorant and rude, and to extirpate the roots of vice from the field of the Lord, and for the more fitly accomplishing this end, you require the counsel and favour of the Apostolic See; wherein with how much the greater caution and discretion you proceed, by so much the more certain success (with God’s help) we trust you will have; because all things which take their beginning from the ardour of faith, and the love of religion, are wont to attain a prosperous result and completion. Undoubtedly, Ireland, and all the islands upon which Christ, the Sun of justice has shone, and which have received the doctrine of the Christian faith, do of right belong to St. Peter and the holy Roman church, (which also your highness doth acknowledge;) therefore we the more willingly impart to them the plantation of faith, and the seed pleasing to God, because, from internal conviction, we foresee that the same will be strictly required of us. You have signified to us, (most beloved son in Christ), that you wish to enter into the island of Ireland, to bring that people under law, and to extirpate thence the roots of vice; and that you are willing to pay to St. Peter a yearly tribute of one penny from each house, and to preserve the rights of the churches in that land inviolate and entire: we, therefore, with suitable favour, joining your pious and laudable desire, and giving our gracious assent to your petition, do hold it pleasing and acceptable that (for extending the limits of the church, for restraining the progress of vice, for correcting morals and implanting virtue, for the increase of the Christian religion) you enter into that island, and execute those things which tend to the honour of God, and salvation of that land; and that the people of that land may receive you with all due honour, and reverence you as the Lord, the right of the churches remaining perfectly inviolate and entire; and the yearly tribute of one penny from each house being reserved to Saint Peter and the holy Roman church. If, then, you do purpose to carry into effect the object you have conceived in your mind, study to reform that nation [p. 33] with better customs, and so act (both by yourself, and by those whom you shall know to be meet by their faith, words, and life) that the church there may be embellished, and the religion of the Christian faith be planted and grow up, and those things which concern the honour of God and the salvation of souls, may be so otherwise ordered, that you may merit to obtain from God the abundance of everlasting reward, and be able to secure in this world a glorious renown for ever. Given at Rome, in the year of salvation, 1156.”
Translation of the Confirmatory Bull.“Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son in Christ, the illustrious king of England, health and apostolic benediction:
“Because those things which are known to have been wisely granted by our predecessors ought to be confirmed in perpetual holding, following in the footsteps of the venerable pope Adrian, and considering that our desires fully accord with the grant of dominion over Ireland made by him to you, We do ratify and confirm the same (reserving to St. Peter and to the holy Roman church the tribute of one penny from each house, as it is in England so to be in Ireland,) provided that, the abominations of the land being put away, that barbarous nation, which is considered christian only in name, may by your kind treatment assume more polite manners, and, their hitherto disorderly church being reduced into orderly form, that people may, through you, effectually obtain henceforth the reputation of the christian profession.“Given at Rome, in the year of salvation, 1172.”
[5*] Quicquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi.
[6*] To kill a “mere Irishman” in time of peace was not considered felony.
“This then I note as a great defect in the civil policy of this kingdom; in that for the space of three hundred and fifty years at least, after the conquest first attempted, the English laws were not communicated to the Irish, nor the benefit and protection thereof allowed unto them, though they earnestly desired and sought the same: for as long as they were out of the protection of the law, so as every Englishman might oppress, spoil, and kill them without controul, how was it possible they should be other than enemies to the crown of England? If the king would not admit them to the condition of subjects, how could they learn to acknowledge and obey him as their sovereign? when they might not commerce nor converse with any civil man, nor enter into any town or city, without peril of their lives, whither should they fly but into the woods and mountains, and there live in a wild and barbarous manner? If the English magistrates would not rule them by the law which doth punish treason, and murder, and theft with death, but leave them to be ruled by their own lords and laws, why should they not embrace their own Brehon law which punisheth no offence but with a fine or erick? If the Irish be not permitted to purchase estates of freeholds or inheritance, which might descend to their children, according to the course of our common law, must they not continue their custom of tanistry? which makes all their possessions uncertain, and [p. 49] brings confusion, barbarism, and incivility. In a word, if the English would neither in peace govern them by the law, nor could in war root them out by the sword, must they not needs be pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their sides, till the world’s end?”
—Sir John Davies’s Discovery.
[8*] When Archbishop Cranmer brought the warrant for the execution of a woman whom he had himself condemned for heresy, to have it [p. 54] signed by the king, he was obliged to use all his theological arguments to induce the humane and feeling prince to perfect the fatal instrument. At length Edward set his hand to the warrant, but with tears in his eyes, telling Cranmer, that, “if he did wrong, he (Cranmer) should answer for it to God.”—Burnet, Part II. book i. p. 112.
“It was on one side, a powerful government possessed with the spirit of rapine, invading property and privileges not its own; it was on the other side, a band of feeble but lawful princes, fighting without hope, yet with pertinacity, because they fought for power and independence.”
Parnell’s Historical Apology.
[10*] Sir John Davies’s Tracts.
“All the possessions shall descend, and be conveyed according to the course of the common law: every man shall have a certain home, and know the extent of his estate; whereby the people will be encouraged to manure their land with better industry than heretofore hath been used; to bring up their children more civilly; to provide for their posterity more carefully; these will cause them to build better houses for their safety, and to love neighbourhood; thence will arise villages and towns, which will draw tradesmen and artificers; so as we conceive a hope, that these countries, in a short time, will not only be quiet neighbours to the pale, but be made as rich and as civil as the pale itself.”
[12*] Gordon’s History of Ireland.
“In the distribution of lands due attention was paid to the claims of the clergy, and the maintenance of religious establishments. All ecclesiastical lands were ordered to be restored to their respective sees and churches, and all to be redeemed of this description from which bishops had in former times received revenues. Compositions for church‐lands were commanded to be made with the patentee proprietors, who were to receive equivalents, if they compounded freely, otherwise [p. 77] to be deprived without requital. Bishops were obliged to resign to the incumbents of the several parishes the tythes which they had received as impropriate, from which they were amply compensated from the king’s lands. Each proportion allotted to the undertakers was made a parish with a church. To incumbents, besides their tithes and duties, were glebes assigned of from sixty to one hundred and twenty acres. Free schools were endowed in the principal towns, and large grants of land made to the university of Dublin, together with the advowson of six parochial churches.”
[14*] On the subject just mentioned, the following private letter of the deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, to Sir John Davies, may not be uninteresting. “In making of the borough towns, I find more and more difficulties and uncertainties; some return that they are but tenants at will and pleasure to certain gentlemen, who have the fee‐farm, or by lease for a few years, so as they are doubtful to name themselves as burgesses without the landlord’s consent; and the landlord is of the church of Rome, and will return none but recusants, of which kind of men we have no need, and shall have less use. Some other towns have few others to return than recusants, and others none but soldiers; so as my advice in that point is, that you bring direction and authority to make such towns boroughs only as we think fit and behoveful for the service; and to omit such as are named, if they be like to be against us; and to enable others by charter, if we can find them answerable to our expectations, albeit they be not in the list sent thither by the lord Carewe, nor returned as allowed there. I send you two or three letters of those I received in answer of mine, touching this matter, to peruse, by which you may judge what the rest are. I wish we might carry it, and prevail in the matters to be handled in this parliament, as is behoveful for his majesty’s service, and the good of the kingdom; but I doubt there will be great opposition to all that is good; and we must encounter them the best we may.”
[15*] Alluding to the conduct of Charles, whom the Catholics idly supposed partial to their religion, and consequently expected from him protection and favour, Mr. Parnell, in his Historical Apology, thus speaks of a scheme of that monarch’s for the purpose of raising supplies:—“The first important injustice which tended to alienate the [p. 83] minds of the Roman Catholics, was the perfidy of Charles with regard to the celebrated graces. The Catholics had offered to pay one hundred and twenty thousand pounds for the enactment of certain laws, for the security of toleration, property, and justice; the king accepted their offer, and gave his royal promise that these laws should be passed. He took their money and broke his word in the most cruel and insulting manner; and not one of these graces, though they were so reasonable and wise that the monarch ought to have been obliged to the subject for suggesting them, was ever granted.”
“It is no small unequivocal mark of the eminent loyalty and fidelity of the Irish Catholics, that at Charles’s execution they formed the only compact national body throughout the extent of the British empire who had preserved untainted and unshaken their faith and attachment to the royal cause, although they had been throughout his reign more oppressed, persecuted, and aggrieved by their sovereign, than any other description of his subjects whatsoever.”
Plowden’s Hist. vol. i. p. 393.
[17*] When King James fled from the Boyne, he was received with compassionate attention by the duchess of Tyrconnell, at the castle of Dublin. His Majesty peevishly complained of his Irish troops, charging them with cowardice, and running away. The reply of her Grace was [p. 96] indignantly severe. “Your Majesty had the advantage of the best of them,” said she, alluding to his being the first to carry tidings of his own defeat. It is remarkable that the Irish language contains no word to signify coward. The term applied to the timidity of James at the battle of the Boyne implies the quintessence of fear operating on the body.
[18*] Does the writer of this elegant illusion speak of the population of Ireland then existing? He ought to be aware that the population of all Ireland did not then exceed one million. If he mean by the term “inference” millions yet unborn, how does the converse of his argument apply?
[19*] State of Ireland, past and present.
[20*] The same remark applies most forcibly to the inhabitants of the island of Minorca, who, throughout the period they were subjects of Great Britain, enjoyed the full protection of the laws,—their religion and property being held in every respect inviolable. Their attachment has been, and still is enthusiastic. Even at the present day, although subject to another country, they evince an undiminished partiality to the English; and, on many recent occasions, they have manifested a grateful and friendly feeling for the benefits they formerly experienced under British government.
[21*] Gulielmus et Maria Dei gratia, Angliæ, Scotiæ, Franciæ et Hiberniæ, rex et regina, fidei defensores, &c. Omnibus ad quos præsentes literæ nostræ pervenerint salutem: inspeximus irrotulament. quarund. literanun patentium de confirmatione geren. dat. apud Westmonasterium vicessimo quarto die Februarii, ultimi præteriti in cancellar. nostr. irrotulat. ac ibidem de recordo remanen. in hæc verba. William and Mary, by the grace of God, &c. To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting. Whereas certain articles, bearing date the third day of October last past, made and agreed on between our justices of our kingdom of Ireland, and our general of our forces there on the one part: and several officers there, commanding within the city of [p. 103] Limerick, in our said kingdom, on the other part. Whereby our said justices and general did undertake that we should ratify those articles, within the space of eight months or sooner; and use their utmost endeavours that the same should be ratified and confirmed in parliament. The tenor of which said articles is as follows, viz. I. The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion, as are consistent with the laws of Ireland: or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles the Second: and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion. II. All the inhabitants or residents of Limerick, or any other garrison now in the possession of the Irish, and all officers and soldiers, now in arms, under any commission of king James, or those authorised by him, to grant the same in the several counties of Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, and Mayo, or any of them; and all the commissioned officers in their majesties’ quarters, that belong to the Irish regiments, now in being, that are treated with, and who are not prisoners of war, or have [p. 104] taken protection, and who shall return and submit to their majesties’ obedience; and they and every of their heirs, shall hold, possess, and enjoy, all and every their estates of freehold and inheritance; and all the rights, titles and interests, privileges and immunities, which they, and every or any one of them held, enjoyed, or were rightfully and lawfully intitled to, in the reign of king Charles II. or at any time since, by the laws and statutes that were in force in the said reign of king Charles II. and shall be put in possession, by order of the government, of such of them as are in the king’s hands, or the hands of his tenants, without being put to any suit or trouble therein; and all such estates shall be freed and discharged from all arrears of crown rents, quit‐rents, and other public charges, incurred and become due since Michaelmas 1688, to the day of the date hereof: and all persons comprehended in this article, shall have, hold, and enjoy all their goods and chattels real and personal, to them or any of them belonging, and remaining either in their own hands, or the hands of any persons whatsoever, in trust for, or for the use of them, or any of them: and all and every the said persons, of what profession, trade, and calling soever they be, shall and may use, exercise, and practise their several and respective professions, trades, and callings, as freely as they did use, exercise, and enjoy the same in the reign of king Charles II.; provided that nothing in this article contained be construed to extend to, or restore any forfeiting person now out of the kingdom except what are hereafter comprised: provided also, that no person whatsoever shall have or enjoy the benefit of this article, that shall neglect or refuse to take the oath of allegiance, made by act of parliament in England, in the first year of their present majesties, when thereunto required. III. All merchants, or reputed merchants of the city of Limerick, or of any other garrison now possessed by the Irish, or of any town or place in the counties of Clare or Kerry, who are absent beyond the seas, that have not borne arms since their Majesties’ declaration in February 1688, shall have the benefit of the second article, in the same manner as if they were present; provided such merchants, and reputed merchants, do repair into this kingdom within the space of eight months from the date hereof. IV. The following officers, viz. Colonel Simon Lutterel, Captain Rowland White, Maurice Eustace of Yermanstown, Chievers of Maystown, commonly called Mount‐Leinster, now belonging to the regiments [p. 105] in the aforesaid garrisons and quarters of the Irish army, who were beyond the seas, and sent thither upon affairs of their respective regiments or the army in general, shall have the benefit and advantage of the second article, provided they return hither within the space of eight months from the date of these presents, and submit to their Majesties’ government, and take the above‐mentioned oath. V. That all and singular the said persons comprised in the second and third articles, shall have a general pardon of all attainders, outlawries, treasons, misprisions of treason, premunires, felonies, trespasses, and other crimes and misdemeanours whatsoever, by them, or any of them, committed since the beginning of the reign of king James II. and if any of them are attainted by parliament, the lords justices, and general, will use their best endeavours to get the same repealed by parliament, and the outlawries to be reversed gratis, all but writing‐clerks’ fees. VI. And whereas these present wars have drawn on great violences on both parts; and that if leave were given to the bringing all sorts of private actions, the animosities would probably continue, that have been too long on foot, and the public disturbances last: for the quieting and settling therefore of this kingdom, and avoiding those inconveniences which would be the necessary consequence of the contrary, no person or persons whatsoever, comprised in the foregoing articles, shall be sued, molested, or impleaded at the suit of any party or parties what soever, for any trespasses by them committed, or for any arms, horses, money, goods, chattels, merchandizes, or provisions whatsoever, by them seized or taken during the time of the war. And no person or persons whatsoever, in the second or third articles comprised, shall be sued, impleaded, or made accountable for the rents or mean rates of any lands, tenements, or houses, by him or them received, or enjoyed in this kingdom, since the beginning of the present war, to the day of the date hereof, nor for any waste or trespass by him or them committed in any such lands, tenements, or houses: and it is also agreed, that this article shall be mutual and reciprocal on both sides. VII. Every nobleman and gentleman comprised in the said second and third articles, shall have liberty to ride with a sword, and case of pistols, if they think fit; and keep a gun in their houses, for the defence of the same, or for fowling. VIII. The inhabitants and residents in the city of Limerick, and other garrisons, shall be permitted to remove their goods, chattels, and provisions, out of the same, without being viewed and searched, or paying any manner of duties, and shall not be compelled to leave their houses or lodgings they now have, for the space of six weeks next ensuing the date hereof. XI. The lords justices and general do promise to use their utmost endeavours, that all the persons comprehended in the above‐mentioned articles, shall be protected and defended from all arrests and executions for debt or damage, for the space of eight months next ensuing the date hereof. XII. Lastly, the lords justices and general do undertake, that their majesties will ratify these articles within the space of eight months, or sooner, and use their utmost endeavours that the same shall be ratified and confirmed in parliament. XIII. And whereas colonel John Brown stood indebted to several Protestants, by judgments of record, which appearing to the late government, the Lord Tyrconnel, and Lord Lucan, took away the effects the said John Brown had to answer the said debts; and promised to clear the said John Brown of the said debts; which effects were taken for the public use of the Irish, and their army: for freeing the said Lord Lucan of his said engagements, passed on their public account, for payment of the said protestants, and for preventing the ruin of the said John Brown, and for satisfaction of his creditors, at the instance of the Lord Lucan, and the rest of the persons aforesaid, it is agreed, that the said lords justices, and the said baron De Ginckle, shall intercede with the king and parliament, to have the estates secured to Roman Catholics, by articles and capitulation in this kingdom, charged with, and equally liable to the payment of so much of the said debts, as the said Lord Lucan, upon stating accompts with the said John Brown, shall certify under his hand, that the effects taken from the [p. 107] said Brown amount unto; which account is to be stated, and the balance certified by the said Lord Lucan in one and twenty days after the date hereof. And whereas the said city of Limerick hath been since, in pursuance of the said articles, surrendered unto us. Now know ye, that we having considered of the said articles, are graciously pleased hereby to declare, that we do for us, our heirs, and successors, as far as in us lies, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause, matter, and thing therein contained. And as to such parts thereof, for which an act of parliament shall be found to be necessary, we shall recommend the same to be made good by parliament, and shall give our royal assent to any bill or bills that shall be passed by our two houses of parliament to that purpose. And whereas it appears unto us, that it was agreed between the parties to the said articles, that after the words Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Mayo, or any of them, in the second of the said articles, the words following, viz. “And all such as are under their protection in the said counties,” should be inserted, and be part of the said articles. Which words having been casually omitted by the writer, the omission was not discovered till after the said articles were signed, but was taken notice of before the second town was surrendered: and that our said justices, and general, or one of them, did promise that the said clause should be made good, it being within the intention of the capitulation, and inserted in the foul draft thereof. Our further will and pleasure is, and we do hereby ratify and confirm the said omitted words, viz. “And all such as are under their protection in the said counties,” hereby for us, our heirs and successors, ordaining and declaring, that all and every person and persons therein concerned, shall and may have, receive, and enjoy the benefit thereof in such and the same manner, as if the said words had been inserted in their proper place, in the said second article; any omission, defect, or mistake in the said second article, in any wise notwithstanding. Provided [p. 108] always, and our will and pleasure is, that these our letters patents shall be enrolled in our court of Chancery in our said kingdom of Ireland, within the space of one year next ensuing. In witness, &c. Witness ourself at Westminster, the twenty‐fourth day of February, anno regni regis et reginæ Gulielmi et Mariæ quarto per breve de privato sigillo. Nos autem tenorem premissor, predict. Ad requisitionem attornat. general. domini regis et dominiæ reginæ pro regno Hiberniæ. Duximus exemplificand. per præsentes. In cujus rei testimonium has literas nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Testimus nobis ipsis apud Westmon. quinto die Aprilis annoq. regni eorum quarto.
The Civil Articles of Limerick, exactly printed from the Letters Patent; wherein they are ratified and exemplified by their Majesties, under the Great Seal of England.
Articles agreed upon the third day of October, one thousand six hundred and ninety‐one,
Bar. DE GINCKLE.
LACON. WM. CHILDE.
Gulielmus et Maria Dei gratia, Angliæ, Scotiæ, Franciæ et Hiberniæ, rex et regina, fidei defensores, &c. Omnibus ad quos præsentes literæ nostræ pervenerint salutem: inspeximus irrotulament. quarund. literanun patentium de confirmatione geren. dat. apud Westmonasterium vicessimo quarto die Februarii, ultimi præteriti in cancellar. nostr. irrotulat. ac ibidem de recordo remanen. in hæc verba. William and Mary, by the grace of God, &c. To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting. Whereas certain articles, bearing date the third day of October last past, made and agreed on between our justices of our kingdom of Ireland, and our general of our forces there on the one part: and several officers there, commanding within the city of [p. 103] Limerick, in our said kingdom, on the other part. Whereby our said justices and general did undertake that we should ratify those articles, within the space of eight months or sooner; and use their utmost endeavours that the same should be ratified and confirmed in parliament. The tenor of which said articles is as follows, viz.
I. The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion, as are consistent with the laws of Ireland: or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles the Second: and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion.
II. All the inhabitants or residents of Limerick, or any other garrison now in the possession of the Irish, and all officers and soldiers, now in arms, under any commission of king James, or those authorised by him, to grant the same in the several counties of Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, and Mayo, or any of them; and all the commissioned officers in their majesties’ quarters, that belong to the Irish regiments, now in being, that are treated with, and who are not prisoners of war, or have [p. 104] taken protection, and who shall return and submit to their majesties’ obedience; and they and every of their heirs, shall hold, possess, and enjoy, all and every their estates of freehold and inheritance; and all the rights, titles and interests, privileges and immunities, which they, and every or any one of them held, enjoyed, or were rightfully and lawfully intitled to, in the reign of king Charles II. or at any time since, by the laws and statutes that were in force in the said reign of king Charles II. and shall be put in possession, by order of the government, of such of them as are in the king’s hands, or the hands of his tenants, without being put to any suit or trouble therein; and all such estates shall be freed and discharged from all arrears of crown rents, quit‐rents, and other public charges, incurred and become due since Michaelmas 1688, to the day of the date hereof: and all persons comprehended in this article, shall have, hold, and enjoy all their goods and chattels real and personal, to them or any of them belonging, and remaining either in their own hands, or the hands of any persons whatsoever, in trust for, or for the use of them, or any of them: and all and every the said persons, of what profession, trade, and calling soever they be, shall and may use, exercise, and practise their several and respective professions, trades, and callings, as freely as they did use, exercise, and enjoy the same in the reign of king Charles II.; provided that nothing in this article contained be construed to extend to, or restore any forfeiting person now out of the kingdom except what are hereafter comprised: provided also, that no person whatsoever shall have or enjoy the benefit of this article, that shall neglect or refuse to take the oath of allegiance, made by act of parliament in England, in the first year of their present majesties, when thereunto required.
III. All merchants, or reputed merchants of the city of Limerick, or of any other garrison now possessed by the Irish, or of any town or place in the counties of Clare or Kerry, who are absent beyond the seas, that have not borne arms since their Majesties’ declaration in February 1688, shall have the benefit of the second article, in the same manner as if they were present; provided such merchants, and reputed merchants, do repair into this kingdom within the space of eight months from the date hereof.
IV. The following officers, viz. Colonel Simon Lutterel, Captain Rowland White, Maurice Eustace of Yermanstown, Chievers of Maystown, commonly called Mount‐Leinster, now belonging to the regiments [p. 105] in the aforesaid garrisons and quarters of the Irish army, who were beyond the seas, and sent thither upon affairs of their respective regiments or the army in general, shall have the benefit and advantage of the second article, provided they return hither within the space of eight months from the date of these presents, and submit to their Majesties’ government, and take the above‐mentioned oath.
V. That all and singular the said persons comprised in the second and third articles, shall have a general pardon of all attainders, outlawries, treasons, misprisions of treason, premunires, felonies, trespasses, and other crimes and misdemeanours whatsoever, by them, or any of them, committed since the beginning of the reign of king James II. and if any of them are attainted by parliament, the lords justices, and general, will use their best endeavours to get the same repealed by parliament, and the outlawries to be reversed gratis, all but writing‐clerks’ fees.
VI. And whereas these present wars have drawn on great violences on both parts; and that if leave were given to the bringing all sorts of private actions, the animosities would probably continue, that have been too long on foot, and the public disturbances last: for the quieting and settling therefore of this kingdom, and avoiding those inconveniences which would be the necessary consequence of the contrary, no person or persons whatsoever, comprised in the foregoing articles, shall be sued, molested, or impleaded at the suit of any party or parties what soever, for any trespasses by them committed, or for any arms, horses, money, goods, chattels, merchandizes, or provisions whatsoever, by them seized or taken during the time of the war. And no person or persons whatsoever, in the second or third articles comprised, shall be sued, impleaded, or made accountable for the rents or mean rates of any lands, tenements, or houses, by him or them received, or enjoyed in this kingdom, since the beginning of the present war, to the day of the date hereof, nor for any waste or trespass by him or them committed in any such lands, tenements, or houses: and it is also agreed, that this article shall be mutual and reciprocal on both sides.
VII. Every nobleman and gentleman comprised in the said second and third articles, shall have liberty to ride with a sword, and case of pistols, if they think fit; and keep a gun in their houses, for the defence of the same, or for fowling.[p. 106]
VIII. The inhabitants and residents in the city of Limerick, and other garrisons, shall be permitted to remove their goods, chattels, and provisions, out of the same, without being viewed and searched, or paying any manner of duties, and shall not be compelled to leave their houses or lodgings they now have, for the space of six weeks next ensuing the date hereof.
XI. The lords justices and general do promise to use their utmost endeavours, that all the persons comprehended in the above‐mentioned articles, shall be protected and defended from all arrests and executions for debt or damage, for the space of eight months next ensuing the date hereof.
XII. Lastly, the lords justices and general do undertake, that their majesties will ratify these articles within the space of eight months, or sooner, and use their utmost endeavours that the same shall be ratified and confirmed in parliament.
XIII. And whereas colonel John Brown stood indebted to several Protestants, by judgments of record, which appearing to the late government, the Lord Tyrconnel, and Lord Lucan, took away the effects the said John Brown had to answer the said debts; and promised to clear the said John Brown of the said debts; which effects were taken for the public use of the Irish, and their army: for freeing the said Lord Lucan of his said engagements, passed on their public account, for payment of the said protestants, and for preventing the ruin of the said John Brown, and for satisfaction of his creditors, at the instance of the Lord Lucan, and the rest of the persons aforesaid, it is agreed, that the said lords justices, and the said baron De Ginckle, shall intercede with the king and parliament, to have the estates secured to Roman Catholics, by articles and capitulation in this kingdom, charged with, and equally liable to the payment of so much of the said debts, as the said Lord Lucan, upon stating accompts with the said John Brown, shall certify under his hand, that the effects taken from the [p. 107] said Brown amount unto; which account is to be stated, and the balance certified by the said Lord Lucan in one and twenty days after the date hereof.
And whereas the said city of Limerick hath been since, in pursuance of the said articles, surrendered unto us. Now know ye, that we having considered of the said articles, are graciously pleased hereby to declare, that we do for us, our heirs, and successors, as far as in us lies, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause, matter, and thing therein contained. And as to such parts thereof, for which an act of parliament shall be found to be necessary, we shall recommend the same to be made good by parliament, and shall give our royal assent to any bill or bills that shall be passed by our two houses of parliament to that purpose. And whereas it appears unto us, that it was agreed between the parties to the said articles, that after the words Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Mayo, or any of them, in the second of the said articles, the words following, viz. “And all such as are under their protection in the said counties,” should be inserted, and be part of the said articles. Which words having been casually omitted by the writer, the omission was not discovered till after the said articles were signed, but was taken notice of before the second town was surrendered: and that our said justices, and general, or one of them, did promise that the said clause should be made good, it being within the intention of the capitulation, and inserted in the foul draft thereof. Our further will and pleasure is, and we do hereby ratify and confirm the said omitted words, viz. “And all such as are under their protection in the said counties,” hereby for us, our heirs and successors, ordaining and declaring, that all and every person and persons therein concerned, shall and may have, receive, and enjoy the benefit thereof in such and the same manner, as if the said words had been inserted in their proper place, in the said second article; any omission, defect, or mistake in the said second article, in any wise notwithstanding. Provided [p. 108] always, and our will and pleasure is, that these our letters patents shall be enrolled in our court of Chancery in our said kingdom of Ireland, within the space of one year next ensuing. In witness, &c. Witness ourself at Westminster, the twenty‐fourth day of February, anno regni regis et reginæ Gulielmi et Mariæ quarto per breve de privato sigillo. Nos autem tenorem premissor, predict. Ad requisitionem attornat. general. domini regis et dominiæ reginæ pro regno Hiberniæ. Duximus exemplificand. per præsentes. In cujus rei testimonium has literas nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Testimus nobis ipsis apud Westmon. quinto die Aprilis annoq. regni eorum quarto.
[22*] Brown’s Historical Account of Penal Laws.
[23*] Thoughts on Education.
[24*] Plowden’s Hist. of Ireland, vol. ii. p. 78.
[25*] Davies’s Tracts.
[26*] In the summer of 1650, 17,000 persons died of the plague in Dublin; and in 1728 a scarcity of corn was severely felt in the northern counties, where the inhabitants, chiefly employed in the linen manufactures, increased so rapidly, as to send off every year an emigration of more than 3000 persons to North America.
[27*] It may not be undeserving of note, that, in the nobly contested action between the English and United States frigates, the Guerriere and Constitution, most of the crew of the latter were born and brought up in the neighbourhood of Rathfryland,—a spot more distinguished for peaceful loyalty, and less agitated by Orangeism than any other in the [p. 123] north of Ireland. Although that action terminated in the loss of the Guerriere, it is not meant to cast the slightest shade on the character of the officers and crew by whom she was defended. They fought till their ship sunk under them. Sparta never produced braver men. They contended against superior numbers,—men equally brave: “When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war.”
[28*] Knox’s State Papers.
[29*] 1 Geo. II. c. 9.
[30*] Plowden’s History of Ireland, vol. ii. p. 382.
[31*] State of Ireland, past and present.
[32*] Returns of the United Irishmen.
[33*] Arthur O’Connor particularly cautioned the United Irishmen against believing certain admissions inserted in the Report of the Secret Committee.
[34*] Hardy’s Life of Lord Charlemont, vol. ii. p. 348.
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