The Rebellion of 1641--generally called a 'massacre'--was undoubtedly a struggle on the part of the exiled nobles and clergy and the evicted peasants to get possession of their estates and farms, which had been occupied by the British settlers for nearly a generation. They might probably have continued to occupy them in peace, but for the fanaticism of the lords justices, Sir John Parsons and Sir John Borlace. It was reported and believed that, at a public entertainment in Dublin, Parsons declared that in twelve months no more Catholics should be seen in that country. The English Puritans and Scottish Covenanters were determined never to lay down their arms till they had made an end of Popery. Pym, the celebrated Puritan leader, avowed that the policy of his party was not to leave a priest alive in the land. Meantime, the Irish chiefs were busy intriguing at Rome, Madrid, Paris, and other continental capitals, clamouring for an invasion of Ireland, to restore monarchy and Catholicity--to expel the English planters from the forfeited lands. Philip III. of Spain encouraged these aspirations. He had an Irish legion under the command of Henry O'Neill, son of the fugitive Earl of Tyrone.
It was reported that, in 1630 there were in the service of the Archduchess, in the Spanish Netherlands alone, 100 Irish officers able to command companies, and 20 fit to be colonels. There were many others at Lisbon, Florence, Milan, and Naples. They had in readiness 5,000 or 6,000 stand of arms laid up at Antwerp, bought out of the deduction of their monthly pay. The banished ecclesiastics formed at every court a most efficient diplomatic corps, the chief of these intriguers being the celebrated Luke Wadding. Religious wars were popular in those times, and the invasion of Ireland would be like a crusade against heresy. But with the Irish chiefs the ruling passion was to get possession of their homes and their lands. The most active spirit among these was Roger, or Rory O'Moore, a man of high character, great ability, handsome person, and fascinating manners. With him were associated Conor Maguire, Costelloe M'Mahon, and Thorlough O'Neill, Sir Phelim O'Neill, Sir Con Magennis, Colonel Hugh M'Mahon, and the Rev. Dr. Heber M'Mahon. O'Moore visited the country, went through the several provinces, and, by communicating with the chiefs personally, organised the conspiracy to expel the British and recover the kingdom for Charles II and the Pope.
The plan agreed upon by the confederates was this:--A rising when the harvest was gathered in; a simultaneous attack on all the English fortresses; the surprise of Dublin Castle, said to contain arms for 12,000 men; and to obtain for these objects all possible aid, in officers, men, and arms, from the Continent. The rising took place on the night of October 22, 1641. It might have been completely successful if the Castle of Dublin had been seized. It seemed an easy prey, for it was guarded only by a few pensioners and forty halberdiers, who would be quickly overpowered. But the plot was made known to the lords justices by an informer when on the eve of execution.
Sir Phelim O'Neill was one of those 'Irish gentlemen' who, by royal favour, were permitted to retain some portions of their ancient patrimonies. At this time he was in possession of thirty-eight townlands in the barony of Dungannon, county Tyrone, containing 23,000 acres, then estimated to be worth 1,600 l. a-year, equal to some 10,000 l. of our money. Charles Boulton held by lease from the same chief 600 acres, at a yearly rent of 29 l. for sixty years, in consideration of a fine of 1,000 l. In 1641 this property yielded a profit rent of 150 l. a year. Three townlands in the same barony were claimed by George Rawden of Lisnagarvagh, as leased to him by Sir Phelim under the rent of 100 l., estimated to be worth 50 l. per annum.
Sir Phelim might, therefore, have been content, so far as property was concerned. But, setting aside patriotism, religion, and ambition, it is likely enough that he distrusted the Government, and feared the doom pronounced in Dublin Castle against all the gentlemen of his creed and race. At all events he put himself at the head of the insurrection in Ulster. He and the officers under his command, on the night of the 22nd, surprised and captured the forts of Charlemont and Mountjoy. The towns of Dungannon, Newry, Carrickmacross, Castleblaney, Tandragee fell into the hands of the insurgents, while the O'Reillys and Maguires overran Cavan and Fermanagh. Sir Conor Magennis wrote from Newry to the Government officers in Down: 'We are for our lives and liberties. We desire no blood to be shed; but, if you mean to shed our blood, be sure we shall be as ready as you for that purpose.'
And Sir Phelim O'Neill issued the following proclamation:--
'These are to intimate and make known unto all persons whatsoever, in and through the whole country, the true intent and meaning of us whose names are hereunto subscribed: 1. That the first assembling of us is nowise intended against our sovereign lord the king, nor hurt of any of his subjects, either English or Scotch; but only for the defence and libertie of ourselves and the Irish natives of this kingdom. And we further declare that whatsoever hurt hitherto hath been done to any person shall be presently repaired; and we will that every person forthwith, after proclamation hereof, make their speedy repaire unto their own houses, under paine of death, that no further hurt be done unto any one under the like paine, and that this be proclaimed in all places.
It is easy for an insurgent chief to give such orders to a tumultuous mass of excited, vindictive, and drunken men, but not so easy to enforce them. The common notion among Protestants, however, that a midnight massacre of all the Protestant settlers was intended, or attempted, is certainly unfounded. Though horrible outrages were committed on both sides, the number of them has been greatly exaggerated. Mr. Prendergast quotes some contemporary authorities, which seem to be decisive on this point. In the same year was published by 'G.S., minister of God's word in Ireland,' 'A Brief Declaration of the Barbarous and Inhuman Dealings of the Northern Irish Rebels ...; written to excite the English Nation to relieve our poor Wives and Children that have escaped the Rebels' savage Cruelties.'
This author says, it was the intention of the Irish to massacre all the English. On Saturday they were to disarm them; on Sunday to seize all their cattle and goods; on Monday, at the watchword 'Skeane,' they were to cut all the English throats. The former they executed; the third only (that is the massacre) they failed in. That the massacre rested hitherto in intention only is further evident from the proclamation of the lords justices of February 8, 1642; for, while offering large sums for the heads of the chief northern gentlemen in arms (Sir Phelim O'Neill's name heading the list with a thousand pounds), the lords justices state that the massacre had failed. Many thousands had been robbed and spoiled, dispossessed of house and lands, many murdered on the spot; but the chief part of their plots (so the proclamation states), and amongst them a universal massacre, had been disappointed.
But, says Mr. Prendergast, after Lord Ormond and Sir Simon Harcourt, with the English forces, in the month of April, 1642, had burned the houses of the gentry in the Pale, and committed slaughters of unarmed men, and the Scotch forces, in the same month, after beating off Sir Phelim O'Neill's army at Newry, drowned and shot men, women, and priests, in that town, who had surrendered on condition of mercy, then it was that some of Sir Phelim O'Neill's wild followers in revenge, and in fear of the advancing army, massacred their prisoners in some of the towns in Tyrone. The subsequent cruelties were not on one side only, and were magnified to render the Irish detestable, so as to make it impossible for the king to seek their aid without ruining his cause utterly in England. The story of the massacre, invented to serve the politics of the hour, has been since kept up for the purposes of interest. No inventions could be too monstrous that served to strengthen the possession of Irish confiscated lands. 'A True Relation of the Proceedings of the Scots and English Forces in the North of Ireland,' published in 1642, states that on Monday, May 5, the common soldiers, without direction from the general-major, took some eighteen of the Irish women of the town [Newry], stripped them naked, threw them into the river, and drowned them, shooting some in the water. More had suffered so, but that some of the common soldiers were made examples of. 'A Levite's Lamentation,' published at the same time, thus refers to those atrocities: 'Mr. Griffin, Mr. Bartly, Mr. Starkey, all of Ardmagh, and murdered by these bloudsuckers on the sixth of May. For, about the fourth of May, as I take it, we put neare fourty of them to death upon the bridge of the Newry, amongst which were two of the Pope's pedlers, two seminary priests, in return of which they slaughtered many prisoners in their custody.'
A curious illustration of the spirit of that age is given in the fact that an English officer threw up his commission in disgust, because the Bishop of Meath, in a sermon delivered in Christ Church, Dublin, in 1642, pleaded for mercy to Irish women and children. The unfortunate settlers fled panic-stricken from their homes, leaving behind their goods, and, in many cases, their clothes; delicate women with little children, weary and footsore, hurried on to some place of refuge. In Cavan they crowded the house of the illustrious Bishop Bedell, at Kilmore. Enniskillen, Derry, Lisburn, Belfast, Carrickfergus, with some isolated castles, were still held by the English garrisons, and in these the Protestant fugitives found succour and protection. Before their flight they were in such terror that, according to the Rev. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tynan, for three nights no cock was heard to crow, no dog to bark. The city of London sent four ships to Londonderry with all kinds of provisions, clothing, and accoutrements for several companies of foot, and abundance of ammunition. The twelve chief companies sent each two pieces of ordnance. No doubt these liberal and seasonable supplies contributed materially to keep the city from yielding to the insurgent forces by which it was besieged. Meantime the Government in Dublin lost not a moment in taking the most effectual measures for crushing the rebellion. Lord Ormond, as lieutenant-general, had soon at his disposal 12,000 men, with a fine train of field artillery, provided by Strafford for his campaign in the north of England. The king, who was in Scotland, procured the dispatch of 1,500 men to Ulster; and authorised Lords Chichester and Clandeboye to raise regiments among their tenants.
Thus the 'Scottish army' was increased to about 5,000 foot, with cavalry in proportion. The Irish, on the other hand, were ill-provided with arms and ammunition. They were not even provided with pikes, for they had not time to make them. The military officers counted upon did not appear, though they had promised to be on the field at fourteen days' notice. Rory O'Moore, like 'Meagher of the sword' in 1848, had never seen service; and Sir Phelim O'Neill, like Smith O'Brien, was only a civilian when he assumed the high-sounding title of 'Lord General of the Catholic army in Ulster.' He also took the title of 'the O'Neill.' The massacre of a large number of Catholics by the Carrickfergus garrison, driving them over the cliffs into the sea at the point of the bayonet, madly excited the Irish thirst for blood. Mr. Darcy Magee admits that, from this date forward till the arrival of Owen Roe O'Neill, the war assumed a ferocity of character foreign to the nature of O'Moore, O'Reilly, and Magennis. 'That Sir Phelim permitted, if he did not in his gusts of stormy passion instigate, those acts of cruelty which have stained his otherwise honourable conduct, is too true; but he stood alone among his confederates in that crime, and that crime stands alone in his character. Brave to rashness and disinterested to excess, few rebel chiefs ever made a more heroic end out of a more deplorable beginning.' The same eulogy would equally apply to many of the English generals. Cruelty was their only crime. The Irish rulers of those times, if not taken by surprise, felt at the outbreak of open rebellion much as the army feels at the breaking out of a war, in some country where plenty of prize money can be won, where the looting will be rich and the promotion rapid. Relying with confidence on the power of England and the force of discipline, they knew that the active defenders of the Government would be victorious in the end, and that their rewards would be estates. The more rebellions, the more forfeited territory, the more opportunities to implicate, ruin, and despoil the principal men of the hated race. The most sober writer, dealing with such facts, cannot help stirring men's blood while recording the deeds of the heroes who founded the English system of government in Ireland, and secured to themselves immense tracts of its most fertile soil. What then must be the effect of the eloquent and impassioned denunciations of such writers as Mr. Butt, Mr. A.M. Sullivan, and Mr. John Mitchell, not to speak of the 'national press'? Yet the most fiery patriot utters nothing stronger on the English rule in Ireland than what the Irish may read in the works of the greatest statesmen and most profound thinkers in England. The evil is in the facts, and the facts cannot be suppressed because they are the roots of our present difficulties. Mr. Darcy Magee, one of the most moderate of Irish historians, writing far away from his native land, not long before he fell by the bullet of the assassin--a martyr to his loyalty--sketches the preliminaries of confiscation at the commencement of this civil war.
In Munster, their chief instruments were the aged Earl of Cork, still insatiable as ever for other men's possessions, and the president, St. Leger: in Leinster, Sir Charles Coote. Lord Cork prepared 1,100 indictments against men of property in his province, which he sent to the speaker of the Long Parliament, with an urgent request that they might be returned to him, with authority to proceed against the parties named as outlaws. In Leinster, 4,000 similar indictments were found in the course of two days by the free use of the rack with witnesses. Sir John Read, an officer of the king's bedchamber, and Mr. Barnwall of Kilbrue, a gentleman of threescore and six, were among those who underwent the torture. When these were the proceedings of the tribunals in peaceable cities, we may imagine what must have been the excesses of the soldiery in the open country. In the south, Sir William St. Leger directed a series of murderous raids upon the peasantry of Cork, which at length produced their natural effect. Lord Muskerry and other leading recusants, who had offered their services to maintain the peace of the province, were driven by an insulting refusal to combine for their own protection. The 1,100 indictments of Lord Cork soon swelled their ranks, and the capture of the ancient city of Cashel, by Philip O'Dwyer, announced the insurrection of the south. Waterford soon after opened its gates to Colonel Edmund Butler; Wexford declared for the Catholic cause, and Kilkenny surrendered to Lord Mountgarret. In Wicklow, Coote's troopers committed murders such as had not been equalled since the days of the pagan Northmen. Little children were carried aloft writhing on the pikes of these barbarians, whose worthy commander confessed that 'he liked such frolics.' Neither age nor sex was spared, and an ecclesiastic was especially certain of instant death. Fathers Higgins and White of Naas, in Kildare, were given up by Coote to these 'lambs,' though, each had been granted a safe-conduct by his superior officer, Lord Ormond. And these murders were taking place at the very time when the Franciscans and Jesuits of Cashel were protecting Dr. Pullen, the Protestant chancellor of that cathedral and other Protestant prisoners; while also the castle of Cloughouter, in Cavan, the residence of Bishop Bedell, was crowded with Protestant fugitives, all of whom were carefully guarded by the chivalrous Philip O'Reilly.
In Ulster, by the end of April, there were 19,000 troops, regulars and volunteers, in the garrison or in the field. Newry was taken by Monroe and Chichester. Magennis was obliged to abandon Down, and McMahon Monaghan; Sir Phelim was driven to burn Armagh and Dungannon and to take his last stand at Charlemont. In a severe action with Sir Robert and Sir William Stewart, he had displayed his usual courage with better than his usual fortune, which, perhaps, we may attribute to the presence with him of Sir Alexander McDonnell, brother to Lord Antrim, the famous _Colkitto_ of the Irish and Scottish wars. But the severest defeat which the confederates had was in the heart of Leinster, at the hamlet of Kilrush, within four miles of Athy. Lord Ormond, returning from a second reinforcement of Naas and other Kildare forts, at the head, by English account, of 4,000 men, found on April 13 the Catholics of the midland counties, under Lords Mountgarrett, Ikerrin, and Dunboyne, Sir Morgan Cavenagh, Rory O'Moore, and Hugh O'Byrne, drawn up, by his report 8,000 strong, to dispute his passage. With Ormond were the Lord Dillon, Lord Brabazon, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Charles Coote, and Sir T. Lucas. The combat was short but murderous. The confederates left 700 men, including Sir Morgan Cavenagh and some other officers, dead on the field; the remainder retreated in disorder, and Ormond, with an inconsiderable diminution of numbers, returned in triumph to Dublin. For this victory the Long Parliament, in a moment of enthusiasm, voted the lieutenant-general a jewel worth 500 l. If any satisfaction could be derived from such an incident, the violent death of their most ruthless enemy, Sir Charles Coote, might have afforded the Catholics some consolation. That merciless soldier, after the combat at Kilrush, had been employed in reinforcing Birr and relieving the castle of Geashill, which the Lady Letitia of Offally held against the neighbouring tribe of O'Dempsey. On his return from this service he made a foray against a Catholic force, which had mustered in the neighbourhood of Trim; here, on the night of the 7th of May, heading a sally of his troop, he fell by a musket shot--not without suspicion of being fired from his own ranks. His son and namesake, who imitated him in all things, was ennobled at the Restoration by the title of the Earl of Mountrath.
The Long Parliament would not trust the king with an army in Ireland. They consequently took the work of subjugation into their own hands. Having confiscated 2,500,000 acres of Irish land, they offered it as security to 'adventurers' who would advance money to meet the cost of the war. In February, 1642, the House of Commons received a petition 'of divers well affected' to it, offering to raise and maintain forces at their own charge 'against the rebels of Ireland, and afterwards to receive their recompense out of the rebels' estates.' Under the act 'for the speedy reducing of the rebels' the adventurers were to carry over a brigade of 5,000 foot and 500 horse, and to have the right of appointing their own officers. And they were to have estates given to them at the following rates: 1,000 acres for 200 l. in Ulster, for 300 l. in Connaught, for 450 l. in Munster, and 600 l. in Leinster. The rates per acre were 4 s., 6s., 8s., and 12 s. in those provinces respectively.
The nature of the war, and the spirit in which it was conducted, may be inferred from the sort of weapons issued from the military stores. These included scythes with handles and rings, reaping-hooks, whetstones, and rubstones. They were intended for cutting down the growing corn, that the people might be starved into submission, or forced to quit the country. The commissary of stores was ordered to issue Bibles to the troops, one Bible for every file, that they might learn from the Old Testament the sin and danger of sparing idolaters.
The rebellion in Ulster had almost collapsed before the end of the year. The tens of thousands who had rushed to the standard of Sir P. O'Neill were now reduced to a number of weak and disorganised collections of armed men taking shelter in the woods. The English garrisons scoured the neighbouring counties with little opposition, and where they met any they gave no quarter. Sir William Cole, ancestor of the Earl of Enniskillen, proudly boasted of his achievement in having 7,000 of the rebels famished to death within a circuit of a few miles of his garrison. Lord Enniskillen is an excellent landlord, but the descendants of the remnant of the natives on his estate do not forget how the family obtained its wealth and honours. The Government, however, seemed to have good reason to congratulate itself that the war was over with the Irish. To these Sir Phelim O'Neill had shown that there is something in a name: but if the name does not represent real worth and fitness for the work undertaken, it is but a shadow. It was so in Sir Phelim's O'Neill's case. Though he had courage, he was a poor general. But another hero of the same name soon appeared to redeem the honour of his race, and to show what the right man can do. At a moment when the national cause seemed to be lost, when the Celtic population in Ulster were meditating a wholesale emigration to the Scottish Highlands--'a word of magic effect was whispered from the sea-coast to the interior.' Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill had arrived off Donegal with a single ship, a single company of veterans, 100 officers, and a quantity of ammunition. He landed at Doe Castle, proceeded to the fort of Charlemont, met the heads of the clans at Clones in Monaghan, was elected general-in-chief of the Catholic forces, and at once set about organising an army. The Catholics of the whole kingdom had joined a confederation, which held its meetings at Kilkenny. A general assembly was convened for October 23, 1642. The peerage was represented by fourteen lords and eleven bishops. Generals were appointed for each of the other provinces, Preston for Leinster, Barry for Munster, and Burke for Connaught. With the Anglo-Irish portion of the confederacy the war was Catholic, and the object religious liberty. With them there was no antipathy or animosity to the English. There was the Pope's Nuncio and his party, thinking most of papal interests, and there was the national party, who had been, or were likely to be, made landless. The king, then at Oxford, was importuned by the confederation on the one side and the Puritans on the other; one petitioning for freedom of worship, the other for the suppression of popery. Pending these appeals there was a long cessation between the Irish belligerents.
Ormond had amused the confederates with negotiations for a permanent peace and settlement, from spring till midsummer, when Charles, dissatisfied with these endless delays, dispatched to Ireland a more hopeful ambassador. This was Herbert, Earl of Glamorgan, one of the few Catholics remaining among the English nobility, son and heir to the Marquis of Worcester, and son-in-law to Henry O'Brien, Earl of Thomond. Of a family devoutly attached to the royal cause, to which it is said they had contributed not less than 200,000 l., Glamorgan's religion, his rank, his Irish connections, the intimate confidence of the king which he was known to possess, all marked out his embassy as one of the utmost importance. The earl arrived in Dublin about August 1, and, after an interview with Ormond, proceeded to Kilkenny. On the 28th of that month, preliminary articles were agreed to and signed by the earl on behalf of the king, and by Lords Montgarrett and Muskerry on behalf of the confederates. It was necessary, it seems, to get the concurrence of the Viceroy to these terms, and accordingly the negotiators on both sides repaired to Dublin. Here Ormond contrived to detain them ten long weeks in discussions on the articles relating to religion; it was the 12th of November when they returned to Kilkenny, with a much modified treaty. On the next day, the 13th, the new Papal Nuncio, a prelate who, by his rank, his eloquence, and his imprudence, was destined to exercise a powerful influence on the Catholic councils, made his public entry into that city. This personage was John Baptist Rinuccini, Archbishop of Fermo in the marches of Ancona, which see he had preferred to the more exalted dignity of Florence. From Limerick, borne along on his litter, such was the feebleness of his health, he advanced by slow stages to Kilkenny, escorted by a guard of honour, despatched on that duty by the supreme council. The pomp and splendour of his public entry into the Catholic capital was a striking spectacle. The previous night he slept at a village three miles from the city, for which he set out early on the morning of November 13, escorted by his guard and a vast multitude of the people. Five delegates from the supreme council accompanied him. A band of fifty students, mounted on horseback, met him on the way, and their leader, crowned with laurel, recited some congratulatory Latin verses. At the city gate he left the litter and mounted a horse richly housed; here the procession of the clergy and the city guilds awaited him: at the market cross, a Latin oration was delivered in his honour, to which he graciously replied in the same language. From the cross he was escorted to the cathedral, at the door of which he was received by the aged bishop, Dr. David Rothe. At the high altar he intonated the _Te Deum_, and gave the multitude the apostolic benediction. Then he was conducted to his lodgings, where he was soon waited upon by Lord Muskerry and General Preston, who brought him to Kilkenny Castle, where, in the great gallery, which elicited even a Florentine's admiration, he was received in stately formality by the president of the council--Lord Mountgarrett. Another Latin oration on the nature of his embassy was delivered by the Nuncio, responded to by Heber, Bishop of Clogher, and so the ceremony of reception ended.
[Footnote 1: Darcy Magee, vol. ii. p.128.]
After a long time spent in negotiations, the celebrated Glamorgan treaty was signed by Ormond for the king, and Lord Muskerry and the other commissioners for the confederates. It conceded, in fact, all the most essential claims of the Irish--equal rights as to property, in the army, in the universities, and at the bar; gave them seats in both houses and on the bench; authorised a special commission of oyer and terminer, composed wholly of confederates; and declared that 'the independency of the parliament of Ireland on that of England' should be decided by declaration of both houses 'agreeably to the laws of the kingdom of Ireland.' In short, this final form of Glamorgan's treaty gave the Irish Catholics, in 1646, all that was subsequently obtained, either for the church or the country, in 1782, 1793, or 1829. 'Though some conditions were omitted, to which Rinuccini and a majority of the prelates attached importance, Glamorgan's treaty was, upon the whole, a charter upon which a free church and a free people might well have stood, as the fundamental law of their religious and civil liberties.'
General O'Neill was greatly annoyed at these delays. Political events in England swayed the destiny of Ireland then as now. The poor vacillating, double-dealing king was delivered to the Puritans, tried, and executed. But before Cromwell came to smash the confederation and everything papal in Ireland, the Irish chief gladdened the hearts of his countrymen by the glorious victory of Benburb, one of the most memorable in Irish history. In a naturally strong position, the Irish, for four hours, received and repulsed the various charges of the Puritan horse. Then as the sun began to descend, pouring its rays upon the enemy, O'Neill led his whole force--five thousand men against eight--to the attack. One terrible onset swept away every trace of resistance. There were counted on the field 3,243 of the Covenanters, and of the Catholics but 70 killed and 100 wounded. Lord Ardes, and 21 Scottish officers, 32 standards, 1,500 draught horses, and all the guns and tents, were captured. Monroe fled to Lisburn and thence to Carrickfergus, where he shut himself up till he could obtain reinforcements. O'Neill forwarded the captured colours to the Nuncio at Limerick, by whom they were solemnly placed in the choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, and afterwards, at the request of Pope Innocent, sent to Rome. The _Te Deum_ was chanted in the confederate capital; penitential psalms were sung in the northern fortresses. 'The Lord of Hosts,' wrote Monroe, 'has rubbed shame on our faces till once we are humbled.' O'Neill emblazoned the cross and keys on his banner with the Red Hand of Ulster, and openly resumed the title originally chosen by his adherents at Clones, 'the Catholic Army.'
The stage of Irish politics now presented the most extraordinary complications political and military. The confederation was occupied with endless debates and dissensions. Commanders changed positions so rapidly, the several causes for which men had been fighting became so confused in the unaccountable scene-shifting, giving glimpses now of the king, now of the commonwealth, and now of the pope, that no one knew what to do, or what was to be the end. The nuncio went home in disgust that his blessings and his curses, which he dispensed with equal liberality, had so little effect.
At length appeared an actor who gave a terrible unity to the drama of Irish politics. Cromwell left London in July 1649, 'in a coach drawn by six gallant Flanders mares,' and made a grand progress to Bristol. He landed at Ring's End, near Dublin, on August 14. He entered the city in procession and addressed the people from 'a convenient place,' accompanied by his son Henry, Blake, Jones, Ireton, Ludlow, Hardress, Waller, and others. The history of Cromwell's military exploits in Ireland is well known. I pass on, therefore, to notice the effects of the war on the condition of the people. As usual, in such cases, the destruction of the crops and other provisions by the soldiers, brought evil to the conquerors as well as to their victims. There had been a fifteen years' war in Ulster, when James I. ascended the throne, and it left the country waste and desolate. Sir John Davis, his attorney-general, asserted the unquestionable fact that perpetual war had been continued between the two nations for 'four hundred and odd years,' and had always for its object to 'root out the Irish.' James was to put an end to this war, and, as we have seen, the lord deputy promised the people 'estates' in their holdings. The effect of this promise, as recorded by Davis, is remarkable. 'He thus made it a year of jubilee to the poor inhabitants, because every man was to return to his own house, and be restored to his ancient possessions, and they all went home rejoicing.'
Poor people! they soon saw the folly of putting their trust in princes. Now, after a seven years' war, the nation was again visited with famine, and the country converted into a wilderness. Three-fourths of the cattle had been destroyed; and the commissioners for Ireland reported to the council in England in 1651, that four parts in five of the best and most fertile land in Ireland lay waste and uninhabited, stating that they had encouraged the Irish to till the land, promising them the enjoyment of the crops. They had also given orders 'for enforcing those that were removed to the mountains to return.' The soldiers were employed to till the lands round their posts. Corn had to be imported to Dublin from Wales. So scarce was meat that a widow was obliged to petition the authorities for permission to kill a lamb; and she was 'permitted and lycensed to kill and dresse so much lambe as shall be necessary for her own eating, not exceeding three lambes for this whole year, notwithstanding any declaration of the said Commissioners of Parliament to the contrary.'[A] This privilege was granted to Mrs. Buckley in consideration of 'her old age and weakness of body.' In 1654 the Irish revenue from all sources was only 198,000 l., while the cost of the army was 500,000 l. A sort of conditional amnesty was granted from necessity, pending the decision of Parliament, and on May 12, 1652, the Leinster army of the Irish surrendered on terms signed at Kilkenny, which were adopted successively by the other principal armies between that time and the September following, when the Ulster forces surrendered. By these Kilkenny articles, all except those who were guilty of the first blood were received into protection on laying down their arms; those who should not be satisfied with the conclusions the Parliament might come to concerning the Irish nation, and should desire to transport themselves with their men to serve any foreign state in amity with the Parliament, should have liberty to treat with their agents for that purpose. But the Commissioners undertook faithfully to mediate with the Parliament that they might enjoy such a remnant of their lands as might make their lives comfortable at home, or be enabled to emigrate.
[Footnote 1: Prendergast, the Cromwellian Settlement, p.16.]
The Cromwellian administration in Ireland effected a revolution unparalleled in history. Its proceedings have been well summarised by Mr. Darcy Magee:-- The Long Parliament, still dragging out its days under the shadow of Cromwell's great name, declared in its session of 1652 the rebellion in Ireland 'subdued and ended,' and proceeded to legislate for that kingdom as a conquered country. On August 12 they passed their Act of Settlement, the authorship of which was attributed to Lord Orrery, in this respect the worthy son of the first Earl of Cork. Under this act there were four chief descriptions of persons whose status was thus settled: 1. All ecclesiastics and royalist proprietors were exempted from pardon of life or estate. 2. All royalist commissioned officers were condemned to banishment, and the forfeit of two-thirds of their property, one-third being retained for the support of their wives and children. 3. Those who had not been in arms, but could be shown, by a parliamentary commission, to have manifested 'a constant, good affection' to the war, were to forfeit one-third of their estates, and receive 'an equivalent' for the remaining two-thirds west of the Shannon. 4. All husbandmen and others of the inferior sort, 'not possessed of lands or goods exceeding the value of 10 l.,' were to have a free pardon, on condition also of transporting themselves across the Shannon.
This last condition of the Cromwellian settlement distinguished it, in our annals, from every other proscription of the native population formerly attempted. The great river of Ireland, rising in the mountains of Leitrim, nearly severs the five western counties from the rest of the kingdom. The province thus set apart, though one of the largest in superficial extent, had also the largest proportion of waste and water, mountain and moorland. The new inhabitants were there to congregate from all the other provinces before the first day of May, 1654, under penalty of outlawry and all its consequences; and when there, they were not to appear within two miles of the Shannon, or four miles of the sea. A rigorous passport system, to evade which was death without form of trial, completed this settlement, the design of which was to shut up the remaining Catholic inhabitants from all intercourse with mankind, and all communion with the other inhabitants of their own country.
A new survey of the whole kingdom was also ordered, under the direction of Dr. William Petty, the fortunate economist who founded the house of Lansdowne. By him the surface of the kingdom was estimated at 10,500,000 plantation acres, three of which were deducted for waste and water. Of the remainder, above 5,000,000 were in Catholic hands, in 1641; 300,000 were church and college lands; and 2,000,000 were in possession of the Protestant settlers of the reigns of James and Elizabeth. Under the Protectorate, 5,000,000 acres were confiscated; this enormous spoil, two-thirds of the whole island, went to the soldiers and adventurers who had served against the Irish, or had contributed to the military chest, since 1641--except 700,000 acres given in 'exchange' to the banished in Clare and Connaught; and 1,200,000 confirmed to 'innocent Papists.' Such was the complete uprooting of the ancient tenantry or clansmen from their original holdings, that, during the survey, orders of parliament were issued to bring back individuals from Connaught to point out the boundaries of parishes in Munster. It cannot be imputed among the sins so freely laid to the historical account of the native legislature, that an Irish parliament had any share in sanctioning this universal spoliation. Cromwell anticipated the union of the kingdoms by 150 years, when he summoned, in 1653, that assembly over which 'Praise-God Barebones' presided; members for Ireland and Scotland sat on the same benches with the commons of England. Oliver's first deputy in the government of Ireland was his son-in-law Fleetwood, who had married the widow of Ireton; but his real representative was his fourth son Henry Cromwell, commander-in-chief of the army. In 1657, the title of lord deputy was transferred from Fleetwood to Henry, who united the supreme civil and military authority in his own person until the eve of the restoration, of which he became an active partisan. We may thus properly embrace the five years of the Protectorate as a period of Henry Cromwell's administration.
In the absence of a parliament, the government of Ireland was vested in the deputy, the commander-in-chief, and four commissioners, Ludlow, Corbett, Jones, and Weaver. There was, moreover, a high court of justice, which perambulated the kingdom, and exercised an absolute authority over life and property greater than even Strafford's Court of Star Chamber had pretended to. Over this court presided Lord Lowther, assisted by Mr. Justice Donnellan, by Cooke, solicitor to the parliament on the trial of King Charles, and the regicide Reynolds. By this court, Sir Phelim O'Neill, Viscount Mayo, and Colonels O'Toole and Bagnall were condemned and executed; children of both sexes were captured by thousands, and sold as slaves to the tobacco-planters of Virginia and the West Indies. Sir William Petty states that 6,000 boys and girls were sent to those islands. The number, of all ages, thus transported, was estimated at 100,000 souls. As to the 'swordsmen' who had been trained to fighting, Petty, in his _Political Anatomy_, records that 'the chiefest and most eminentest of the nobility and many of the gentry had taken conditions from the King of Spain, and had transported 40,000 of the most active, spirited men, most acquainted with the dangers and discipline of war.' The chief commissioners in Dublin had despatched assistant commissioners to the provinces. The distribution which they made of the soil was nearly as complete as that of Canaan among the Israelites; and this was the model which the Puritans had always before their minds. Where a miserable residue of the population was required to till the land for its new owners, they were tolerated as the Gibeonites had been by Joshua. Irish gentlemen who had obtained pardons were obliged to wear a distinctive mark on their dress on pain of death. Persons of inferior rank were distinguished by a black spot on the right cheek. Wanting this, their punishment was the branding-iron or the gallows.
No vestige of the Catholic religion was allowed to exist. Catholic lawyers and schoolmasters were silenced. All ecclesiastics were slain like the priests of Baal. Three bishops and 300 of the inferior clergy thus perished. The bedridden Bishop of Kilmore was the only native clergyman permitted to survive. If, in mountain recesses or caves, a few peasants were detected at mass, they were smoked out and shot. Thus England got rid of a
race concerning which Mr. Prendergast found this contemporary testimony in a MS. in Trinity College library, Dublin, dated 1615:-- 'There lives not a people more hardy, active, and painful ... neither is there any will endure the miseries of warre, as famine, watching, heat, cold, wet, travel, and the like, so naturally and with such facility and courage that they do. The Prince of Orange's excellency uses often publiquely to deliver that the Irish are souldiers the first day of their birth. The famous Henry IV., late king of France, said there would prove no nation so resolute martial men as they, would they be ruly and not too headstrong. And Sir John Norris was wont to ascribe this particular to that nation above others, that he never beheld so few of any country as of Irish that were idiots and cowards, which is very notable.' At the end of 1653, the parliament made a division of the spoil among the conquerors and the adventurers; and, on September 26, an act was passed for the new planting of Ireland by English. The Government reserved for itself the towns, the church lands, and the tithes, the established church, hierarchy and all, having been utterly abolished. The four counties of Dublin, Kildare, Carlow, and Cork were also reserved. The amount due to the adventurers was 360,000 l. This they divided into three lots, of which 110,000 l. was to be satisfied in Munster, 205,000 l. in Leinster, and 45,000 l. in Ulster, and the moiety of ten counties was charged with their payment--Waterford, Limerick, and Tipperary, in Munster; Meath, Westmeath, King's and Queen's Counties, in Leinster; and Antrim, Down, and Armagh, in Ulster. But, as all was required by the Adventurers Act to be done by lot, a lottery was appointed to be held in Grocers' Hall, London, for July 20, 1653, to begin at 8 o'clock in the morning, when lots should be first drawn in which province each adventurer was to be satisfied, not exceeding the specified amounts in any province; lots were to be drawn, secondly, to ascertain in which of the ten counties each adventurer was to receive his land--the lots not to exceed in Westmeath 70,000 l., in Tipperary 60,000 l., in Meath 55,000 l., in King's and Queen's Counties 40,000 l. each, in Limerick 30,000 l., in Waterford 20,000 l., in Antrim, Down, and Armagh 15,000 l. each. And, as it was thought it would be a great encouragement to the adventurers (who were for the most part merchants and tradesmen), about to plant in so wild and dangerous a country, not yet subdued, to have soldier planters near them, these ten counties, when surveyed (which was directed to be done immediately, and returned to the committee for the lottery at Grocers' Hall), were to be divided, each county by baronies, into two moieties, as equally as might be, without dividing any barony. A lot was then to be drawn by the adventurers, and by some officer appointed by the Lord General Cromwell on behalf of the soldiery, to ascertain which baronies in the ten counties should be for the adventurers, and which for the soldiers.
The rest of Ireland, except Connaught, was to be set out amongst the officers and soldiers for their arrears, amounting to 1,550,000 l., and to satisfy debts of money or provisions due for supplies advanced to the army of the commonwealth amounting to 1,750,000 l. Connaught being by the parliament reserved and appointed for the habitation of the Irish nation, all English and Protestants having lands there, who should desire to remove out of Connaught into the provinces inhabited by the English, were to receive estates in the English parts, of equal value, in exchange.
The next thing was to clear out the remnant of the inhabitants, and the overture to this performance was the following merciful proclamation:-- ' The Parliament of the Commonwealth of England having by one act lately passed (entitled an Act for the Settling of Ireland) declared that _it is not their intention to extirpate this whole nation_, but that mercy and pardon for life and estate be extended to all husbandmen, plowmen, labourers, artificers, and others of the inferior sort, in such manner as in and by the said Act is set forth: for the better execution of the said Act, and that timely notice may be given to all persons therein concerned, it is ordered that the Governor and Commissioners of Revenue, or any two or more of them, within every precinct in this nation, do cause the said Act of Parliament with this present declaration to be published and proclaimed in their respective precincts _by beat of drumme and sound of trumpett_, on some markett day, within tenn days after the same shall come unto them within their respective precincts.