A Popular History of Ireland Part 25

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The days of Queen Elizabeth were now literally numbered.

The death of Ess.e.x, the intrigues of the King of Scotland, and the successes of Tyrone, preyed upon her spirits.

The Irish chief was seldom out of her mind, and, as she often predicted, she was not to live to receive his submission. She was accustomed to send for her G.o.dson, Harrington, who had served in Ireland, to ask him questions concerning Tyrone; the French amba.s.sador considered Tyrone's war one of the causes that totally destroyed her peace of mind in her latter days. She received the news of the victory of Kinsale with pleasure, but, even then, she was not destined to receive the submission of Tyrone.

The events of the year, so inauspiciously begun for the Irish arms, continued of the same disastrous character.

Castlehaven was surrendered by its Spanish guard, according to Del Aguila's agreement. Baltimore, after a momentary resistance, was also given up, but O'Sullivan, who considered the Spanish capitulation nothing short of treason, threw a body of native troops, probably drawn from Tyrrell's men, into Dunboy, under Captain Richard Mageoghegan, and Taylor, an Englishman, connected by marriage with Tyrrell. Another party of the same troops took possession of Clear Island, but were obliged to abandon it as untenable. The entire strength of the Dunboy garrison amounted to 143 men; towards the end of April --the last of the Spaniards having sailed in March-- Carew left Cork at the head of 3,000 men to besiege Dunboy. Sir Charles Wilmot moved on the same point from Kerry, with a force of 1,000 men, to join Carew. In the pa.s.s near Mangerton Wilmot was encountered by Donald O'Sullivan and Tyrrell, at the head of then remaining followers, but forced a pa.s.sage and united with his superior on the sh.o.r.es of Berehaven. On the 1st of June the English landed on Bear Island, and on the 6th opened their cannonade. They were 4,000 men, with every military equipment necessary, against 143. After eleven days'

bombardment the place was shattered to pieces; the garrison offered to surrender, if allowed to retain their arms, but their messenger was hanged, and an instant a.s.sault ordered. Over fifty of this band of Christian Spartans had fallen in the defence, thirty attempted to escape in boats, or by swimming, but were killed to a man while in the water. The remainder retreated with Mageoghegan, who was severely wounded, to a cellar approached by a narrow stair, where the command was a.s.sumed by Taylor.

All day the a.s.sault had been carried on till night closed upon the scene of carnage. Placing a strong guard on the approach to the crypt, Carew returned to the charge with the returning light. Cannon were first discharged into the narrow chamber which held the last defenders of Dunboy, and then a body of the a.s.sailants rus.h.i.+ng in, despatched the wounded Mageoghegan with their swords, having found him, candle in hand, dragging himself towards the gunpowder. Taylor and fifty-seven others were led out to execution; of all the heroic band, not a soul escaped alive.

The remaining fragments of Dunboy were blown into the air by Carew on the 22nd of June. Dursey Castle, another island fortress of O'Sullivan's, had fallen even earlier; so that no roof remained to the lord of Berehaven. Still he held his men well together in the glens of Kerry, during the months of Summer, but the ill-news from Spain in September threw a gloom over those mountains deeper than was ever cast by equinoctial storm. Tyrrell was obliged to separate from him in the Autumn, probably from the difficulty of providing for so many mouths, and O'Sullivan himself prepared to bid a sad farewell to the land of his inheritance. On the last day of December he left Glengariffe, with 400 fighting men, and 600 women, children, and servants, to seek a refuge in the distant north. After a retreat almost unparalleled, the survivors of this exodus succeeded in reaching the friendly roof of O'Ruarc, at Dromahaire, not far from Sligo. Their entire march, from the extreme south to the almost extreme north-west of the island, a distance, as they travelled it, of not less than 200 miles, was one scene of warfare and suffering. They were compelled to kill their horses, on reaching the Shannon, in order to make boats of the hides, to ferry them to the western bank. At Aughrim they were attacked by a superior force under Lord Clanrickarde's brother, and Captain Henry Malby, but they fought with the courage of despair, routed the enemy, slaving Malby, and other officers. Of the ten hundred who left the sh.o.r.es of Glengariffe, but 35 souls reached the Leitrim chieftain's mansion. Among these were the chief himself, with Dermid, father of the historian, who at the date of this march had reached the age of seventy. The conquest of Munster, at least, was now complete. In the ensuing January, Owen McEgan, Bishop of Ross, was slain in the midst of a guerilla party, in the mountains of Carberry, and Ms chaplain, being taken, was hanged with the other prisoners.

The policy of extermination recommended by Carew was zealously carried out by strong detachments under Wilmot, Harvey, and Flower; Mr. Boyle and the other "Undertakers"

zealously a.s.sisting as volunteers.

Mountjoy, after transacting some civil business at Dublin, proceeded in person to the north, while Dowcra, marching out of Derry, pressed O'Neil from the north and north-east.

In June, Mountjoy was at Charlemont, which he placed under the custody of Captain Toby Caufield, the founder of an ill.u.s.trious t.i.tle taken from that fort. He advanced on Dungannon, but discovered it from the distance, as Norris had once before done, in flames, kindled by the hand of its straitened proprietor. On Lough Neagh he erected a new fort called Mountjoy, so that his communications on the south now stretched from that great lake round to Omagh, while those of Dowcra, at Augher, Donegal, and Lifford, nearly completed the circle. Almost the only outlet from this chain of posts was into the mountains of O'Cane's country, the north-east angle of the present county of Derry. The extensive tract so enclosed and guarded had still some natural advantages for carrying on a defensive war. The primitive woods were standing in ma.s.ses at no great distance from each other; the nearly parallel vales of Faughan, Moyala, and the river Roe, with the intermediate leagues of moor and mountain, were favourable to the movements of native forces familiar with every ford and footpath. There was also, while this central tract was held, a possibility of communication with other unbroken tribes, such as those of Clandeboy and the Antrim glens on the east, and Breffni O'Ruarc on the west. Never did the genius of Hugh O'Neil s.h.i.+ne out brighter than in these last defensive operations. In July, Mountjoy writes apologetically to the Council, that "notwithstanding her Majesty's great forces, O'Neil doth still live." He bitterly complains of his consummate caution, his "pestilent judgment to spread and to nourish his own infection," and of the reverence entertained for his person by the native population. Early in August, Mountjoy had arranged what he hoped might prove the finis.h.i.+ng stroke in the struggle.

Dowcra from Derry, Chichester from Carrickfergus, Danvers from Armagh, and all who could be spared from Mountjoy, Charlemont, and Mount Norris, were gathered under his command, to the number of 8,000 men, for a foray into the interior of Tyrone. Inisloghlin, on the borders of Down and Antrim, which contained a great quant.i.ty of valuables, belonging to O'Neil, was captured. Magherlowney and Tulloghoge were next taken. At the latter place stood the ancient stone chair on which the O'Neils were inaugurated time out of mind; it was now broken into atoms by Mountjoy's orders. But the most effective warfare was made on the growing crops. The 8,000 men spread themselves over the fertile fields along the valleys of the Bann and the Roe, destroying the standing grain with fire, where it would burn, or with the _praca_, a peculiar kind of harrow, tearing it up by the roots. The hors.e.m.e.n trampled crops into the earth which had generously nourished them; the infantry sh.o.r.e them down with their sabres, and the sword, though in a very different sense from that of Holy Scripture, was, indeed, converted into a sickle. The harvest month never shone upon such fields in any Christian land. In September, Mountjoy reported to Cecil, "that between Tulloghoge and Toome there lay unburied a thousand dead," and that since his arrival on the Blackwater--a period of a couple of months--"there were about 3,000 starved in Tyrone." In O'Cane's country, the misery of his clansmen drove the chief to surrender to Dowcra, and the news of Hugh Roe's death having reached Donegal, his brother repaired to Athlone, and made his submission to Mountjoy, early in December. O'Neil, unable to maintain himself on the river, Roe, retired with 600 foot and 60 horse, to Glencancean, near Lough Neagh, the most secure of his fastnesses. His brother Cormac McMahon, and Art O'Neil, of Clandeboy, shared with him the wintry hards.h.i.+ps of that last asylum, while Tyrone, Clandeboy, and Monaghan, were given up to horrors, surpa.s.sing any that had been known or dreamt of in former wars. Moryson, secretary to Mountjoy, in his account of this campaign, observes, "that no spectacle was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and especially in wasted countries, than to see mult.i.tudes of these poor people dead, with their mouths all coloured green, by eating nettles, docks, and all things they could rend above ground."

The new year, opening without hope, it began to be rumoured that O'Neil was disposed to surrender on honourable terms.

Mountjoy and the English Council long urged the aged Queen to grant such terms, but without effect. Her pride as a sovereign had been too deeply wounded by the revolted Earl to allow her easily to forgive or forget his offences.

Her advisers urged that Spain had followed her own course towards the Netherlands, in Ireland; that the war consumed three-fourths of her annual revenue, and had obliged her to keep up an Irish army of 20,000 men for several years past. At length she yielded her reluctant consent, and Mountjoy was authorized to treat with the arch-rebel upon honourable terms. The agents employed by the Lord Deputy in this negotiation were Sir William G.o.dolphin and Sir Garrett Moore, of Mellifont, ancestor of the Marquis of Drogheda--the latter, a warm personal friend, though no partizan of O'Neil's. They found him in his retreat near Lough Neagh early in March, and obtained his promise to give the Deputy an early meeting at Mellifont. Elizabeth's serious illness, concealed from O'Neil, though well known to Mountjoy, hastened the negotiations. On the 27th of March he had intelligence of her decease at London on the 24th, but carefully concealed it till the 5th of April following. On the 31st of March, he received Tyrone's submission at Moore's residence, the ancient Cistercian Abbey, and not until a week later did O'Neil learn that he had made his peace with a dead sovereign.

The honourable terms on which this memorable religious war was concluded were these: O'Neil abjured all foreign allegiance, especially that of the King of Spain; renounced the t.i.tle of O'Neil; agreed to give up his correspondence with the Spaniards, and to recall his son, Henry, who was a page at the Spanish Court, and to live in peace with the sons of John the Proud. Mountjoy granted him an amnesty for himself and his allies; agreed that he should be restored to his estates as he had held them before the war, and that the Catholics should have the free exercise of their religion. That the restoration of his ordinary chieftain rights, which did not conflict with the royal prerogative, was also included, we have the best possible evidence: Sir Henry Dowcra having complained to Lord Mountjoy that O'Neil quartered men on O'Cane, who had surrendered to himself, Mountjoy made answer--"My Lord of Tyrone is taken in with promise to be restored, as well to all his lands as to his honour and dignity, and O'Cane's country is his, and must be obedient to his commands." That the article concerning religion was understood by the Catholics to concede full freedom of wors.h.i.+p, is evident from subsequent events. In Dublin, sixteen of the princ.i.p.al citizens suffered fine and imprisonment for refusing to comply with the act of uniformity; in Kilkenny the Catholics took possession of the Black Abbey, which had been converted into a lay fee; in Waterford they did the same by St. Patrick's Church, where a Dominican preacher was reported to have said, among other imprudent things, that "Jesabel was dead"-- alluding to the late Queen. In Cork, Limerick, and Cashel, the cross was carried publicly in procession, the old Churches restored to their ancient rites, and enthusiastic proclamation made of the public restoration of religion.

These events having obliged the Lord Deputy to make a progress through the towns and cities, he was met at Waterford by a vast procession, headed by religious in the habits of their order, who boldly declared to him "that the citizens of Waterford could not, in conscience, obey any prince that persecuted the Catholic religion."

When such was the spirit of the town populations, we are not surprised to learn that, in the rural districts, almost exclusively Catholic, the people entered upon the use of many of their old Churches, and repaired several Abbeys--among the number, b.u.t.tevant, Kilcrea, and Timoleague in Cork; Quin Abbey in Clare; Kilconnell in Galway; Rosnariell in Mayo, and Multifarnham in West-Meath. So confident were they that the days of persecution were past, that King James prefaces his proclamation of July, 1605, with the statement--"Whereas we have been informed that our subjects in the kingdom of Ireland, since the death of our beloved sister, have been deceived by a false rumour, to wit, that we would allow them liberty of conscience," and so forth. How cruelly they were then undeceived belongs to the history of the next reign; here we need only remark that the Articles of Limerick were not more shamefully violated by the statute 6th and 7th, William III., than the Articles of Mellifont were violated by this Proclamation of the third year of James I.



During the greater part of the reign of Elizabeth, the means relied upon for the propagation of the reformed doctrines were more exclusively those of force and coercion than even in the time of Edward VI. Thus, when Sir William Drury was Deputy, in 1578, he bound several citizens of Kilkenny, under a penalty of 40 pounds each, to attend the English Church service, and authorized the Anglican Bishop "to make a rate for the repair of the Church, and to distrain for the payment of it"--the first mention of Church rates we remember to have met with. Drury's method of proceeding may be further inferred from the fact, that of the thirty-six executions ordered by him in the same city, "one was a blackamoor and two were witches, who were condemned by the law of nature, for there was no positive law against witchcraft [in Ireland] in those days." That defect was soon supplied, however, by the statute 27th of Elizabeth, "against witchcraft and sorcery." Sir John Perrott, successor to Drury, trod in the same path, as we judge from the charge of severity against recusants, upon which, among other articles, he was recalled from the government. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, however, it began to be discovered by the wisest observers that violent methods were worse than useless with the Irish. Edmund Spenser urged that "religion should not be forcibly impressed into them with terror and sharp penalties, as now is the manner, but rather delivered and intimated with mildness and gentleness."

Lord Bacon, in his "Considerations touching the Queen's Service in Ireland," addressed to Secretary Cecil, recommends "the recovery of the hearts of the people,"

as the first step towards their conversion. With this view he suggested "a toleration of religion (for a time not definite), except it be in some princ.i.p.al towns and cities," as a measure "warrantable in religion, and in policy of absolute necessity." The philosophic Chancellor farther suggested, as a means to this desired end, the preparation of "versions of Bibles and Catechisms, and other works of instruction in the Irish language." In accordance with these views of conversion, the University of Trinity College was established by a royal charter, in the month of January, 1593. The Mayor and Corporation of Dublin had granted the ancient monastery of All Hallows as a site for the buildings; some contributions were received from the Protestant gentry, large grants of confiscated Abbey and other lands, which afterwards yielded a princely revenue, were bestowed upon it, and the Lord Treasurer Burleigh graciously accepted the office of its Chancellor. The first Provost was Archbishop Loftus, and of the first three students entered, one was the afterwards ill.u.s.trious James Usher. The commanders and officers engaged at Kinsale presented it with the sum of 1,800 pounds for the purchase of a library; and at the subsequent confiscations in Munster and Ulster, the College came in for a large portion of the forfeited lands.

Although the Council in England generally recommended the adoption of persuasive arts and a limited toleration, those who bore the sword usually took care that they should not bear it in vain. A High Commission Court, armed with ample powers to enforce the Act of Uniformity, had been established at Dublin in 1593; but its members were ordered to proceed cautiously after the Ulster Confederacy became formidable, and their powers lay dormant in the last two or three years of the century.

Ess.e.x and Mountjoy were both fully convinced of the wisdom of Bacon's views; the former showed a partial toleration, connived at the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, even in the capital, and liberated some priests from prison.

Mountjoy, in answer to the command of the English Council "to deal moderately in the great matter of religion,"

replied by letter that he had already advised "such as dealt in it for a time to hold a restrained hand therein."

"The other course," he adds, "might have overthrown the means of our own end of a reformation of religion." This conditional toleration--such as it was--excited the indignation of the more zealous Reformers, whose favourite preacher, the youthful Usher, did not hesitate to denounce it from the pulpit of Christ Church, as an unhallowed compromise with antichrist. In 1601, Usher, then but 21 years of age, preached his well-known sermon from the text of the forty days, in which Ezekiel "was to bear the iniquity of the house of Judah--a day for a year."

"From this year," cried the youthful zealot, "will I reckon the sin of Ireland, that those whom you now embrace shall be your ruin, and you shall bear their iniquity."

When the northern insurrection of 1641 took place, this rhetorical menace was exalted, after the fact, into the dignity of a prophecy fulfilled. After the victory of Kinsale, however, the Ultra Protestant party had less cause to complain of the temporizing of the civil power; the pecuniary mulct of twelve pence for each absence from the English service was again enforced at least in Dublin, and several priests, then in prison, were, on various pretences, put to death. Among those who suffered in the capital was the learned Jesuit, Henry Fitzsimons, son of a Mayor of the city, the author of _Brittanomachia_, with whom, while in the Castle, Usher commenced a controversy, which was never finished. But the terms agreed upon at Mellifont, between Mountjoy and Tyrone, again suspended for a short interval the sword of persecution.

Notwithstanding its manifold losses by exile and the scaffold, the ancient Church was enabled, through the abundance of vocations, and the zeal of the ordained, to keep up a still powerful organization. Philip O'Sullivan states, under the next reign that the government had ascertained through its spies, the names of 1,160 priests, secular and regular, still in the country. There must have been between 300 and 400 others detained abroad, either as Professors in the Irish Colleges in Spain, France, and Flanders, or as ecclesiastics, awaiting major orders. Of the regulars at home, 120 were Franciscans, and about 50 Jesuits. There are said to have been but four Fathers of the Order of St. Dominick remaining at the time of Elizabeth's death. The reproach of Cambrensis had long been taken away, since every Diocese might now point to its martyrs. Of these we recall among the Hierarchy the names of O'Hely, Bishop of Killala, executed at Kilmallock hi 1578; O'Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, burned at the stake in Dublin in 1582; Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, who died a prisoner in the Tower in 1585; Archbishop McGauran, his successor, slain in the act of ministering to the wounded in the engagement at Tulsk, in Roscommon, in 1593; McEgan, Bishop of Ross, who met his death under precisely similar circ.u.mstances in Carberry in 1603. Yet through all these losses the episcopal succession was maintained unbroken. In the early part of the next reign O'Sullivan gives the names of the four Archbishops, Peter Lombard of Armagh, Edward McGauran of Dublin, David O'Carny of Cashel, and Florence Conroy of Tuam. On the other hand, the last trying half century had furnished, so far as we can learn, no instance of apostacy among the Bishops, and but half a dozen at most from all orders of the clergy. We read that Owen O'Conor, an apostate, was advanced by letters patent to Killala in 1591; that Maurice O'Brien of Ara was, in 1570, by the same authority, elevated to the See of Killaloe, which he resigned in 1612; that Miler Magrath, in early life a Franciscan friar, was promoted by the Queen to the Sees of Clogher, Killala, Anchory and Lismore successively. He finally settled in the See of Cashel, in which he died, having secretly returned to the religion of his ancestors. For the rest, "the Queen's Bishops"

were chiefly chosen out of England, though some few natives of the Pale, or of the walled towns, educated at Oxford, may be found in the list.

Of the state of learning in those troubled times the brief story is easily told. The Bardic Order still flourished and was held in honour by all ranks of the native population. The national adversity brought out in them, as in others, many n.o.ble traits of character. The Harper, O'Dugan, was the last companion that clung to the last of the Desmonds; the Bard of Tyrconnell, Owen Ward, accompanied the Ulster chiefs in their exile, and poured out his Gaelic dirge above their Roman graves.

Although the Bardic compositions continued to be chiefly personal, relating to the inauguration, journeys, exploits, or death of some favourite chief, a large number of devotional poems on the pa.s.sion of our Lord and the glories of the Blessed Virgin are known to be of this age. The first forerunners of what was destined to be a numerous progeny, the controversial ode or ballad, appeared in Elizabeth's reign, in the form of comparisons between the old and new religions, lamentations over the ruin of religious houses, and the apostacy of such persons as Miler Magrath and the son of the Earl of Desmond. The talents of many of the authors are admitted by Spenser, a competent judge, but the tendency of their writings, he complains, was to foster the love of lawlessness and rebellion rather than of virtue and loyalty. He recommended them for correction to the mercies of the Provost Marshal, whom he would have "to walk the country with half a dozen or half a score of hors.e.m.e.n," in quest of the treasonable poets.

As this was the age of the general diffusion of printing, we may observe that the casting of Irish type for the use of Trinity College, by order of Queen Elizabeth, is commonly dated from the year 1591; but as the College was not opened for two years later, the true date must be antic.i.p.ated. John Kearney, Treasurer of St. Patrick's Church, who died about the year 1600, published a Protestant Catechism from the College Press, which, says O'Reilly, "was the first book ever printed in Irish types." In the year 1593, Florence Conroy translated from the Spanish into Irish a catechism ent.i.tled "Christian Instruction,"

which, he states in the preface, he had no opportunity of sending into Ireland "until the year of the age of our Lord 1598." Whether it was then printed we are not informed, but there does not seem to have been any Irish type in Catholic hands before the foundation of the Irish College at Louvain in 1616.

The merit of first giving to the press, in the native language of the country, a version of the Sacred Scriptures, belongs clearly to Trinity College. Nicholas Walsh, Bishop of Ossory, who died in 1585, had commenced, with the a.s.sistance of John Kearney, to translate the Greek Testament into Gaelic. He had also the a.s.sistance of Dr.

Nehemiah Donnellan, and Dr. William Daniel, or O'Daniel, both of whom subsequently filled the See of Tuam. This translation, dedicated to King James, and published by O'Daniel in 1603, is still reprinted by the Bible Societies.

The first Protestant translation of the Old Testament, made under Bishop Bedel's eye, and with such revision of particular pa.s.sages as his imperfect knowledge of the language enabled him to suggest, though completed in the reign of Charles I., was not published before the year 1680. It was Bedel, also, who caused the English liturgy to be recited in Irish, in his Cathedral, as early as 1630.

Ireland and her affairs naturally attracted, during Elizabeth's reign, the attention of English writers. Of these it is enough to mention the Poet Spenser, Secretary to Lord Grey de Wilton, Fynes Moryson, Secretary to Lord Mountjoy, and the Jesuit Father, Campian. Campian, early distinguished at Oxford, was employed as Cambrensis had been four centuries earlier, and as Plowden was two centuries later, to write down everything Irish. He crossed the Channel in 1570, and composed two books rapidly, without accurate or full information as to the condition or history of the country. The nearer view of Catholic suffering and Catholic constancy exercised a powerful influence on this accomplished scholar; he became a convert and a Jesuit. For members of that order there was but one exit out of life, under the law of England: he suffered death at Tyburn in 1581. Richard Stanihurst, son of the Recorder of Dublin, and uncle of Archbishop Usher, went through precisely the same experiences as his friend Campian, except that he died, a quarter of a century later, Chaplain to the Archdukes at Brussels, instead of expiring at the stake. His English hexameters are among the curiosities of literature, but his contributions to the history of his country, especially his allusions to events and characters in and about his own time, are not without their use. Stanihurst wrote his historical tracts, as did Lombard the Catholic and Usher the Protestant Primate, O'Sullivan, White, O'Meara, and almost all the Irish writers of that age, without exception, in the Latin language. The first Latin book printed in Ireland is thought to be O'Meara's poem in praise of Thomas, Earl of Ormond and Ossory, published in 1615. The earliest English books printed in Ireland are unknown to me; the collection of Anglo-Irish statutes, ordered to be published while Sir Henry Sidney was Deputy, was the most important undertaking of that cla.s.s in the reign of Elizabeth.

As to inst.i.tutions of learning, if we except Trinity College, which increased rapidly in numbers and reputation under the patronage of the Crown, and the College of Saint Nicholas, at Galway--protected by its remote situation on the brink of the Atlantic--there was no famous seat of learning left in the island. In the next reign 1,300 scholars are stated to have attended that western "school of humanity," when the Ecclesiastical Commissioners despotically ordered it to be closed, because the learned Princ.i.p.al, John Lynch, "would not confirm to the religion established." But the greater number of the children of Catholics, who still retained property enough to educate them, were sent beyond seas, a fact with which King James, soon after his accession, reproached the deputation of that body. A proclamation issued by Lord Deputy Chichester, in 1610, alludes to the same custom, and commands all n.o.blemen, merchants, and others, whose children are abroad for educational purposes, to recall them within one year from the date thereof; and in case they refuse to return, all parents, friends, &c., sending them money, directly or indirectly, will be punished as severely as the law permits. It was mainly to guard against this danger that "the School of Wards" was established by Elizabeth, and enlarged by James I., in which the great Duke of Ormond, Sir Phelim O'Neil, Murrogh, Lord Inchiquin, and other sons of n.o.ble families, were educated for the next generation. Early in the reign of James there were not less than 300 of these Irish children in the Tower, or at the Lambeth School,--and it is humiliating to find the great name of Sir Edward c.o.ke among those who gloried in the success of this unnatural subst.i.tution of the State for the Parent in the work of education.





James the Sixth of Scotland was in his 37th year when he ascended the throne under the t.i.tle of "James the First, King of Great Britain and Ireland." His accession naturally excited the most hopeful expectations of good government in the b.r.e.a.s.t.s of the Irish Catholics. He was son of Mary Queen of Scots, whom they looked upon as a martyr to her religion, and grandson of that gallant King James who styled himself "Defender of the Faith," and "_Dominus Hiberniae_" in introducing the first Jesuits to the Ulster Princes. His ancestors had always been in alliance with the Irish, and the antiquaries of that nation loved to trace their descent from the Scoto-Irish chiefs who first colonized Argyle, and were for ages crowned at Scone. He himself was known to have a.s.sisted the late Catholic struggle as effectually, though less openly than the King of Spain, and it is certain that he had employed Catholic agents, like Lord Home and Sir James Lindsay, to excite an interest in his succession among the Catholics, both in the British Islands and on the Continent.

The first acts of the new sovereign were calculated to confirm the expectations of Catholic liberty thus entertained. He was anxious to make an immediate and lasting peace with Spain; refused to receive a special emba.s.sy from the Hollanders; his amba.s.sador at Paris was known to be on terms of intimacy with the Pope's Nuncio; and although personally he a.s.sumed the tone of an Anglican Churchman, on crossing the border he had invited leading Catholics to his Court, and conferred the honour of Knighthood on some of their number. The imprudent demonstrations in the Irish towns were easily quieted, and no immediate notice was taken of their leaders. In May, 1603, Mountjoy, on whom James had conferred the higher rank of Lord Lieutenant, leaving Carew as Lord Deputy, proceeded to England, accompanied by O'Neil, Roderick O'Donnell, Maguire, and other Irish gentlemen.

The veteran Tyrone, now past threescore, though hooted by the London rabble, was graciously received in that court, with which he had been familiar forty years before.

He was at once confirmed in his t.i.tle, the Earldom of Tyrconnell was created for O'Donnell, and the Lords.h.i.+p of Enniskillen for Maguire. Mountjoy, created Earl of Devons.h.i.+re, retained the t.i.tle of Lord Lieutenant, with permission to reside in England, and was rewarded by the appointment of Master of the Ordnance and Warden of the New Forest, with an ample pension from the Crown to him and his heirs for ever, the grant of the county of Lecale (Down), and the estate of Kingston Hall, in Dorsets.h.i.+re, He survived but three short years to enjoy all these riches and honours; at the age of 44, wasted with dissipation and domestic troubles, he pa.s.sed to his final account.

The necessity of conciliating the Catholic party in England, of maintaining peace in Ireland, and prosecuting the Spanish negotiations, not less, perhaps, than his own original bias, led James to deal favourably with the Catholics at first. But having attempted to enforce the new Anglican Canons, adopted in 1604, against the Puritans, that party retaliated by raising against him the cry of favouring the Papists. This cry alarmed the King, who had always before his eyes the fear of Presbyterianism, and he accordingly made a speech in the Star Chamber, declaring his utter detestation of Popery, and published a proclamation banis.h.i.+ng all Catholic missionaries from the country. All magistrates were instructed to enforce the penal laws with rigour, and an elaborate spy system for the discovery of concealed recusants was set on foot.

This reign of treachery and terror drove a few desperate men into the gunpowder plot of the following year, and rendered it difficult, if not impossible, for the King to return to the policy of toleration, with which, to do him justice, he seems to have set out from Scotland.

Carew, President of Munster during the late war, became Deputy to Mountjoy on his departure for England. He was succeeded in October, 1604, by Sir Arthur Chichester, who, with the exception of occasional absences at Court, continued in office for a period of eleven years. This n.o.bleman, a native of England, furnishes, in many points, a parallel to his cotemporary and friend, Robert Boyle, Earl of Cork. The object of his life was to found and to endow the Donegal peerage out of the spoils of Ulster, as richly as Boyle endowed his earldom out of the confiscation of Munster. Both were Puritans rather than Churchmen, in their religious opinions; Chichester, a pupil of the celebrated Cartwright, and a favourer all his life of the congregational clergy in Ulster. But they carried their repugnance to the interference of the civil magistrate in matters of conscience so discreetly as to satisfy the high church notions both of James and Elizabeth.

For the violence they were thus compelled to exercise against themselves, they seem to have found relief in bitter and continuous persecution of others. Boyle, as the leading spirit in the government of Munster, as Lord Treasurer, and occasionally as Lord Justice, had ample opportunities, during his long career of forty years, to indulge at once his avarice and his bigotry; and no situation was ever more favourable than Chichester's for a proconsul, eager to enrich himself at the expense of a subjugated Province.

In the projected work of the reduction of the whole country to the laws and customs of England, it is instructive to observe that a Parliament was not called in the first place. The reformers proceeded by proclamations, letters patent, and orders in council, not by legislation. The whole island was divided into 32 counties and 6 judicial circuits, all of which were visited by Justices in the second or third year of this reign, and afterwards semi-annually. On the Northern Circuit Sir Edward Pelham and Sir John Davis were accompanied by the Deputy in person, with a numerous retinue. In some places the towns were so wasted by the late war, pestilence, and famine, that the Viceregal party were obliged to camp out in the fields, and to carry with them their own provisions. The Courts were held in ruined castles and deserted monasteries; Irish interpreters were at every step found necessary; sheriffs were installed in Tyrone and Tyrconnell for the first time; all lawyers appearing in court and all justices of the peace were tendered the oath of supremacy--the refusal of which necessarily excluded Catholics both from the bench and the bar. An enormous amount of litigation as to the law of real property was created by a judgment of the Court of King's Bench at Dublin, in 1605, by which the ancient Irish customs, of tanistry and gavelkind, were declared null and void, and the entire Feudal system, with its rights of primogeniture, hereditary succession, entail, and va.s.salage, was held to exist in as full force in England. Very evidently this decision was not less a violation of the articles of Mellifont than was the King's proclamation against freedom of conscience issued about the same tune.

Sir John Davis, who has left us two very interesting tracts on Irish affairs, speaking of the new legal regulations of which he was one of the princ.i.p.al superintendents, observes that the old-fas.h.i.+oned allowances to be found so often in the Pipe-Rolls, _pro guidagio et spiagio_, into the interior, may well be spared thereafter, since "the under sheriffs and bailiffs errant are better guides and spies in time of peace than they were found in tune of war." He adds, what we may very well believe, that the Earl of Tyrone complained he had so many eyes upon him, that he could not drink a cup of sack without the government being advertised of it within a few hours afterwards. This system of social _espionage_, so repugnant to all the habits of the Celtic family, was not the only mode of annoyance resorted to against the veteran chief. Every former dependent who could be induced to dispute his claims as a landlord, under the new relations established by the late decision, was sure of a judgment in his favour. Disputes about boundaries with O'Cane, about the commutation of chieftain-rents into tenantry, about church lands claimed by Montgomery, Protestant Bishop of Derry, were almost invariably decided against him. Hara.s.sed by these proceedings, and all uncertain of the future, O'Neil listened willingly to the treacherous suggestion of St. Lawrence and Lord Howth, that the leading Catholics of the Pale, and those of Ulster, should endeavour to form another confederation.

The execution of Father Garnet, Provincial of the Jesuits in England, the heavy fines inflicted on Lords Stourton, Mordaunt, and Montague, and the new oath of allegiance, framed by Archbishop Abbott, and sanctioned by the English Parliament--all events of the year 1606--were calculated to inspire the Irish Catholics with desperate councils.

A dutiful remonstrance against the Act of Uniformity the previous year had been signed by the princ.i.p.al Anglo-Irish Catholics for transmission to the King, but their delegates were seized and imprisoned in the Castle, while their princ.i.p.al agent, Sir Patrick Barnwell, was sent to London and confined in the Tower. A meeting, at Lord Howth's suggestion, was held about Christmas, 1606, at the Castle of Maynooth, then in possession of the dowager Countess of Kildare, one of whose daughters was married to Christopher Nugent, Baron of Delvin, and her granddaughter to Rory, Earl of Tyrconnell. There were present O'Neil, O'Donnell, and O'Cane, on the one part, and Lords Delvin and Howth on the other. The precise result of this conference, disguised under the pretext of a Christmas party, was never made known, but the fact that it had been held, and that the parties present had entertained the project of another confederacy for the defence of the Catholic religion, was mysteriously communicated in an anonymous letter, directed to Sir William Usher, Clerk of the Council, which was dropped in the Council Chamber of Dublin Castle, in March, 1607. This letter, it is now generally believed, was written by Lord Howth, who was thought to have been employed by Secretary Cecil, to entrap the northern Earls, in order to betray them. In May, O'Neil and O'Donnell were cited to attend the Lord Deputy in Dublin, but the charges were for the time kept in abeyance, and they were ordered to appear in London before the feast of Michaelmas. Early in September O'Neil was with Chichester at Slane, in Meath, when he received a letter from Maguire, who had been out of the country, conveying information on which he immediately acted.

Taking leave of the Lord Deputy as if to prepare for his journey to London, he made some stay with his old friend, Sir Garrett Moore, at Mellifont, on parting from whose family he tenderly bade farewell to the children and even the servants, and was observed to shed tears. At Dungannon he remained two days, and on the sh.o.r.e of Lough Sw.i.l.l.y he joined O'Donnell and others of his connexions. The French s.h.i.+p, in which Maguire had returned, awaited them off Rathmullen, and there they took s.h.i.+pping for France.

With O'Neil, in that sorrowful company, were his last countess, Catherine, daughter of Magenniss, his three sons, Hugh, John, and Brian; his nephew, Art, son of Cormac, Rory O'Donnell, Caffar, his brother, Nuala, his sister, who had forsaken her husband Nial _Garve_, when he forsook his country; the lady Rose O'Doherty, wife of Caffar, and afterwards of Owen Roe O'Neil; Maguire, Owen MacWard, chief bard of Tyrconnell, and several others.

"Woe to the heart that meditated, woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the council that decided on the project of that voyage!" exclaimed the Annalists of Donegal, in the next age. Evidently it was the judgment of their immediate successors that the flight of the Earls was a rash and irremediable step for them; but the information on which they acted, if not long since destroyed, has, as yet, never been made public. We can p.r.o.nounce no judgment as to the wisdom of their conduct, from the incomplete statements at present in our possession.

A Popular History of Ireland Part 25

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