An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800
by Mary Frances Cusack
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A plot was now got up to entrap O'Neill and O'Donnell. Their complicity in it has long been questioned, though Dr. O'Donovan appears to think that Moore has almost decided the question against them. Moore's evidence, however, is hardly complete, while there is unquestionable authority which favours the opinion that "artful Cecil" was intriguing to accomplish their destruction. Curry says, in his Historical Review: "The great possessions of these two devoted Irish princes, proved the cause of their ruin. After the successful issue of the plot-contriving Cecil's gunpowder adventure in England, he turned his inventive thoughts towards this country. A plot to implicate the great northern chieftains was soon set on foot, and finally proved successful. The conspiracy is thus related by a learned English divine, Dr. Anderson, in his Royal Genealogies, printed in London, 1736: 'Artful Cecil employed one St. Lawrence to entrap the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, the Lord Delvin, and other Irish chiefs, into a sham plot, which had no evidence but his.'"

The next movement was to drop an anonymous letter at the door of the council-chamber, mentioning a design, as then in contemplation, for seizing the Castle of Dublin, and murdering the Lord Deputy. No names were mentioned, but it was publicly stated that Government had information in their possession which fixed the guilt of the conspiracy on the Earl of Tyrone. His flight, which took place immediately after, was naturally considered as an acknowledgment of his guilt. It is more probable that the expatriation was prompted by his despair.

The Four Masters give a touching account of their departure, and exclaim: "Woe to the heart that meditated, woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the council that decided on the project of their setting out on the voyage!" The exiles left Rathmullen on the 14th of September, 1607. O'Neill had been with the Lord Deputy shortly before; and one cannot but suppose that he had then obtained some surmise of premeditated treachery, for he arranged his flight secretly and swiftly, pretending that he was about to visit London. O'Neill was accompanied by his Countess, his three sons, O'Donnell, and other relatives. They first sailed to Normandy, where an attempt was made by the English Government to arrest them, but Henry IV. would not give them up. In Rome they were received as confessors exiled for the faith, and were liberally supported by the Pope and the King of Spain. They all died in a few years after their arrival, and their ashes rest in the Franciscan Church of St. Peter-in-Montorio. Rome was indeed dear to them, but Ireland was still dearer; and the exiled Celt, whether expatriated through force or stern necessity, lives only to long for the old home, or dies weeping for it.

The Red Hand of the O'Neills had hitherto been a powerful protection to Ulster. The attempts "to plant" there had turned out failures; but now that the chiefs were removed, the people became an easy prey. O'Dogherty, Chief of Innishowen, was insulted by Sir George Paulett, in a manner which no gentleman could be expected to bear without calling his insulter to account; and the young chieftain took fearful vengeance for the rude blow which he had received from the English sheriff. He got into Culmore Fort at night by stratagem, and then marched to Derry, killed Paulett, massacred the garrison, and burned the town. Some other chieftains joined him, and kept up the war until July; when O'Dogherty was killed, and his companions-in-arms imprisoned. Sir Arthur Chichester received his property in return for his suggestions for the plantation of Ulster, of which we must now make brief mention.

There can be little doubt, from Sir Henry Docwra's own account, that O'Dogherty was purposely insulted, and goaded into rebellion. He was the last obstacle to the grand scheme, and he was disposed of. Ulster was now at the mercy of those who chose to accept grants of land; and the grants were made to the highest bidders, or to those who had paid for the favour by previous services. Sir Arthur Chichester evidently considered that he belonged to the latter class, for we find him writing[465] at considerable length to the Earl of Northampton, then a ruling member of King James' cabinet, to request that he may be appointed President of Ulster. He commences his epistle by stating how deeply he is indebted to his Lordship for his comfortable and kind letters, and the praise he has given him in public and private. He then bestows an abundant meed of commendation on his justice in return. He next explains his hopes and desires. He declares that he wishes for the Presidency of Ulster, "more for the service he might there do his Majesty, than for the profit he expects,"—a statement which the Earl no doubt read exactly as it was intended; and he says that he only mentions his case because "charitie beginnes with myeselfe," which, indeed, appears to have been the view of that virtue generally taken by all planters and adventurers. He concludes with delicately informing his correspondent, that if he can advance any friend of his in any way he will be most happy to do so. This letter is dated from the "Castle of Dublin, 7th of February, 1607." The date should read, according to the change of style, 1608. The Lord Deputy knew well what he was asking for. During the summer of the preceding year, he had made a careful journey through Ulster, with John Davies; and Carte has well observed, that "nobody knew the territories better to be planted;" and he might have added, that few persons had a clearer eye to their own advantage in the arrangements he made.

The plan of the plantation was agreed upon in 1609. It was the old plan which had been attempted before, though with less show of legal arrangement, but with quite the same proportion of legal iniquity. The simple object was to expel the natives, and to extirpate the Catholic religion. The six counties to be planted were Tyrone, Derry, Donegal, Armagh, Fermanagh, and Cavan. These were parcelled out into portions varying from 2,000 to 4,000 acres, and the planters were obliged to build bawns and castles, such as that of Castle Monea, county Fermanagh, of which we subjoin an illustration. Tully Castle[466] was built by Sir John Hume, on his plantation. Both these castles afford good examples of the structures erected at this period. The great desiderata were proximity to water and rising ground—the beauty of the surrounding scenery, which was superadded at least at Tully Castle, was probably but little valued.

Chichester now proposed to call a Parliament. The plantation of Ulster had removed some difficulties in the way of its accomplishment. The Protestant University of Dublin had obtained 3,000 acres there, and 400,000 acres of tillage land had been partitioned out between English and Scotch proprietors. It was expressly stipulated that their tenants should be English or Scotch, and Protestants; the Catholic owners of the land were, in some cases, as a special favour, permitted to remain, if they took the oath of supremacy, if they worked well for their masters, and if they paid double the rent fixed for the others. Sixty thousand acres in Dublin and Waterford, and 385,000 acres in Westmeath, Longford, King's county, Queen's county, and Leitrim, had been portioned out in a similar manner. A Presbyterian minister, whose father was one of the planters, thus describes the men who came to establish English rule, and root out Popery: "From Scotland came many, and from England not a few; yet all of them generally the scum of both nations, who, from debt, or making and fleeing from justice, or seeking shelter, came hither, hoping to be without fear of man s justice, in a land where there was nothing or but little as yet of the fear of God.... Most of the people were all void of godliness.... On all hands atheism increased, and disregard of God; iniquity abounds, with contention, fighting, murder and adultery."[467]

It was with such persons as these the lower house was filled. The upper house was composed of the Protestant bishops and English aristocracy, who were of course unanimous in their views. Chichester obtained ample powers to arrange the lower house. Forty new boroughs were formed, many of them consisting merely of a few scattered houses; some of them were not incorporated until after the writs were issued. The Catholics were taken by surprise as no notice had been given, either of the Parliament or the laws intended to be enacted. Six Catholic lords of the Pale remonstrated with the King, but he treated them with the utmost contempt. The house assembled; there was a struggle for the Speaker's chair. The Catholic party proposed Sir John Everard, who had just resigned his position as Justice of the King's Bench sooner than take the oath of supremacy; the court party insisted on having Sir John Davies. The Catholics protested, and sent a deputation to James, who first lectured[468] them to show his learning, and them imprisoned them to show his power. Some kind of compromise was eventually effected. A severe penal law was withdrawn; a large subsidy was voted. In truth, the Irish party acted boldly, considering their peculiar circumstances, for one and all refused to enter the old cathedral, which their forefathers had erected, when Protestant service was read therein on the day of the opening of Parliament; and even Lord Barry retired when he laid the sword of state before the Lord Deputy. We may excuse them for submitting to the attainder of O'Neill and O'Donnell, for there were few national members who had not withdrawn before the vote was passed.

Chichester retired from the government of Ireland in 1616. In 1617 a proclamation was issued for the expulsion of the Catholic clergy, and the city of Waterford was deprived of its charter in consequence of the spirited opposition which its corporation offered to the oath of spiritual supremacy. In 1622 Viscount Falkland came over as Lord Deputy, and Usher, who was at heart a Puritan,[469] preached a violent sermon on the occasion, in which he suggested a very literal application of his text, "He beareth not the sword in vain." If a similar application of the text had been made by a Catholic divine, it would have been called intolerance, persecution, and a hint that the Inquisition was at hand; as used by him, it was supposed to mean putting down Popery by the sword.

James I. died on the 27th March, 1625, and left his successor no very pleasant prospects in any part of his kingdom. He was pronounced by Sully to be "the wisest fool in Europe;" Henry IV. styled him "Captain of Arts and Clerk of Arms;" and a favourite epigram of the age is thus translated:—

"When Elizabeth was England's King, That dreadful name thro' Spain did ring How altered is the case, ah sa' me! The juggling days of good Queen Jamie."

On the accession of Charles I., in 1625, it was so generally supposed he would favour the Catholic cause, that the earliest act of the new Parliament in London was to vote a petition, begging the King to enforce the laws against recusants and Popish priests. The Viceroy, Lord Falkland, advised the Irish Catholics to propitiate him with a voluntary subsidy. They offered the enormous sum of L120,000, to be paid in three annual instalments, and in return he promised them certain "graces." The contract was ratified by royal proclamation, in which the concessions were accompanied by a promise that a Parliament should be held to confirm them. The first instalment of the money was paid, and the Irish agents returned home to find themselves cruelly deceived and basely cheated. Falkland was recalled by the Puritan party, on suspicion of favouring the Catholics; Viscount Ely and the Earl of Cork were appointed Lords Justices; and a reign of terror was at once commenced.

The Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Bulkely, was foremost in commencing the persecution. He marched, with the Mayor and a file of soldiers, to the Franciscan[470] church in Cook-street, on St. Stephen's Day, 1629, dispersed the congregation, seized the friars profaned the church, and broke the statue of St. Francis. The friars were rescued by the people, and the Archbishop had "to take to his heels and cry out for help," to save himself. Eventually the Franciscans established their novitiates on the Continent, but still continued their devoted ministrations to the people, at the risk of life and liberty. Their house in Cook-street was pulled down by royal order, and three other chapels and a Catholic seminary were seized and converted to the King's use. Wentworth assembled a Parliament in July, 1634, the year after his arrival in Ireland. Its subserviency was provided for by having a number of persons elected who were in the pay of the crown as military officers. The "graces" were asked for, and the Lord Deputy declared they should be granted, if the supply was readily voted. "Surely," he said, "so great a meanness cannot enter your hearts as once to suspect his Majesty's gracious regards of you, and performance with you, when you affix yourself upon his grace." This speech so took the hearts of the people, that all were ready to grant all that might be demanded; and six subsidies of L50,000 each were voted, though Wentworth only expected L30,000. In the meanwhile neither Wentworth nor the King had the slightest idea of granting the "graces" and the atrocious duplicity and incomparable "meanness" of the King is placed eternally on record, in his own letter to his favourite, in which he thanks him "for keeping off the envy [odium] of a necessary negative from me, of those unreasonable graces that people expected from me."[471] Wentworth describes himself how two judges and Sir John Radcliffe assisted him in the plan, and how a positive refusal was made to recommend the passing of the "graces" into law at the next session.

"Charles' faith" might now safely rank with Grey's; and the poor impoverished Irishman, who would willingly have given his last penny, as well as the last drop of his blood, to save his faith, was again cruelly betrayed where he most certainly might have expected that he could have confided and trusted. One of the "graces" was to make sixty years of undisputed possession of property a bar to the claims of the crown; and certainly if there ever a country where such a demand was necessary and reasonable, it was surely Ireland. There had been so many plantations, it was hard for anything to grow; and so many settlements, it was hard for anything to be settled. Each new monarch, since the first invasion of the country by Henry II., had his favourites to provide for and his friends to oblige. The island across the sea was considered "no man's land," as the original inhabitants were never taken into account, and were simply ignored, unless, indeed, when they made their presence very evident by open resistance to this wholesale robbery. It was no wonder, then, that this "grace" should be specially solicited. It was one in which the last English settler in Ulster had quite as great an interest as the oldest Celt in Connemara. The Burkes and the Geraldines had suffered almost as much from the rapacity of their own countrymen as the natives, on whom their ancestors had inflicted such cruel wrongs. No man's property was safe in Ireland, for the tenure was depending on the royal will; and the caprices of the Tudors were supplemented by the necessities of the Stuarts.

But the "grace" was refused, although, probably, there was many a recent colonist who would have willingly given one-half of his plantation to have secured the other to his descendants. The reason of the refusal was soon apparent. As soon as Parliament was dissolved, a Commission of "Defective Titles" was issued for Connaught. Ulster had been settled, Leinster had been settled, Munster had been settled; there remained only Connaught, hitherto so inaccessible, now, with advancing knowledge of the art of war, and new means of carrying out that art, doomed to the scourge of desolation.

The process was extremely simple. The lawyers were set to work to hunt out old claims for the crown; and as Wentworth had determined to invalidate the title to every estate in Connaught, they had abundant occupation. Roscommon was selected for a commencement. The sheriffs were directed to select jurors who would find for the crown. The jurors were made clearly to understand what was expected from them, and what the consequences would be if they were "contumacious." The object of the crown was, of course, the general good of the country. The people of Connaught were to be civilized and enriched; but, in order to carry out this very desirable arrangement, the present proprietors were to be replaced by new landlords, and the country was to be placed entirely at the disposal of the Sovereign.[472]

It was now discovered that the lands and lordships of De Burgo, adjacent to the Castle of Athlone, and, in fact, the whole remaining province, belonged to the crown. It would be useless here to give details of the special pleading on which this statement was founded; it is an illustration of what I have observed before, that the tenure of the English settler was quite as uncertain as the tenure of the Celt. The jury found for the King; and as a reward, the foreman, Sir Lucas Dillon, was graciously permitted to retain a portion of his own lands. Lowther, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, got four shillings in the pound of the first year's rent raised under the Commission of "Defective Titles." The juries of Mayo and Sligo were equally complacent; but there was stern resistance made in Galway, and stern reprisals were made for the resistance. The jurors were fined L4,000 each and were imprisoned, and their estates seized until that sum was paid. The sheriff was fined L1,000, and, being unable to pay that sum, he died in prison. And all this was done with the full knowledge and the entire sanction of the "royal martyr."

The country was discontented, and the Lord Deputy demanded more troops, "until the intended plantation should be settled." He could not see why the people should object to what was so very much for their own good, and never allowed himself to think that the disturbance had anything to do with the land question. The new proprietors were of the same opinion. Those who were or who feared to be dispossessed, and those who felt that their homes, whether humble or noble, could not be called their own, felt differently; but their opinion was as little regarded as their sufferings.

The Earl of Ormonde's property was next attacked, but he made a prudent compromise, and his party was too powerful to permit of its refusal. A Court of Wards was also established about this time, for the purpose of having all heirs to estates brought up in the Protestant religion; and a High Commission Court was instituted, which rivalled the exactions of the Star Chamber in England.

In 1640 another appeal was made by the King for assistance, and Wentworth headed the contribution with L20,000. He had devoted himself with considerable ability to increasing the Irish revenue and the trade of the country had improved, although the Irish woollen manufacture had been completely crushed, as it threatened to interfere with English commerce. The Lord Deputy now saw the advantage of procuring a standing army in Ireland, and he proceeded to embody a force of 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse. These men were principally Irish and Catholics, as he knew they would be most likely to stand by the King in an hour of trial, notwithstanding the cruel persecutions to which they had been subjected. But the Deputy's own career was nearer its termination than he had anticipated. When he forsook the popular side in England, Pym had remarked significantly: "Though you have left us, I will not leave you while your head is on your shoulders." The Puritan faction never lost sight of a quarry when once they had it in sight, and it scarcely needed Stafford's haughtiness and devotion to the King to seal his doom. The unhappy King was compelled to sign his death-warrant; and the victim was executed on the 12th of May, 1641, redeeming in some manner, by the nobleness of his death, the cruelties, injustices, and duplicity of which he had been guilty during his life.

The kingdom of England was never in a more critical state than at this period. The King was such only in name, and the ruling powers were the Puritan party, who already looked to Cromwell as their head. The resistance, which had begun in opposition to tyrannical enactments, and to the arbitrary exercise of authority by the King and his High Church prelates, was fast merging into, what it soon became, an open revolt against the crown, and all religion which did not square with the very peculiar and ill-defined tenets of the rebellious party. In 1641 the Queen's confessor was sent to the Tower, and a resolution was passed by both houses never to consent to the toleration of the Catholic worship in Ireland, or in any other part of his Majesty's dominions. The country party had determined to possess themselves of the command of the army; and whatever struggles the King might make, to secure the only support of his throne, it was clear that the question was to be decided in their favour. The conduct of Holles, Pym, Hampden, and Stroud was well known even in Ireland; and in Ireland fearful apprehensions were entertained that still more cruel sufferings were preparing for that unfortunate country.

An insurrection was organized, and its main supports were some of the best and bravest of the old race, who had been driven by political and religious persecution to other lands, where their bravery had made them respected, and their honorable dealings had made them esteemed. Spain had received a considerable number of these exiles. In June, 1635, an Irish regiment in the Spanish service, commanded by Colonel Preston, had immortalized themselves by their heroic defence of Louvain. Wherever they went they were faithful to the sovereign under whom they served; and French and Spanish generals marvelled how the English nation could be so infatuated as to drive their noblest and bravest officers and men into foreign service. An important official document still exists in the State Paper Office, which was prepared by a Government spy, and which details the names, rank, and qualifications of many of these gentlemen. They were serving in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, and the Low Countries. Don Richard Burke—strange that the first on the list of Irish exiles should be of Anglo-Norman descent—was Governor of Leghorn, and had seen great service in Italy and in the West Indies; "Phellemy O'Neill, nephew to old Tyrone," lived with great respect in Milan. There were one hundred able to command companies, and twenty fit to be made colonels under the Archduchess alone. The list of the names would fill several pages, and those, it should be remembered, were leading men. There were, besides, to be considered, an immense number of Irish of the lower classes, who had accompanied their chiefs abroad, and served in their regiments. The report says: "They have long been providing of arms for any attempt against Ireland, and had in readiness five or six thousand arms laid up in Antwerp for that purpose, bought out of the deduction of their monthly pay, as will be proved; and it is thought now they have doubled that proportion by those means."[473]

The reason of the increased sacrifice they made for their country, was probably the report that the moment was at hand when it might be available. The movement in Ireland was commenced by Roger O'More, a member of the ancient family of that name, who had been so unjustly expelled from their ancestral home in Leix; by Lord Maguire, who had been deprived of nearly all his ancient patrimony at Fermanagh, and his brother Roger; by Sir Phelim O'Neill of Kinnare, the elder branch of whose family had been expatriated; by Turlough O'Neill, his brother, and by several other gentlemen similarly situated. O'More was the chief promoter of the projected insurrection. He was eminently suited to become a popular leader for he was a man of great courage, fascinating address, and imbued with all the high honour of the old Celtic race. In May, 1641, Nial O'Neill arrived in Ireland with a promise of assistance from Cardinal Richelieu; and the confederates arranged that the rising should take place a few days before or after All Hallows, according to circumstances. In the meanwhile the exiled Earl of Tyrone was killed; but his successor, Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill, then serving in Flanders, entered warmly into all their plans.

The King was now obliged to disband his Irish forces, and their commanders were sent orders for that purpose. They had instructions, however, to keep the men at home and together, so that they might easily be collected again if they could be made available, as, strange to say, the so-called "Irish rebels" were the only real hope which Charles had to rely on in his conflict with his disloyal English subjects. An understanding was soon entered into between these officers and the Irish party. They agreed to act in concert; and one of the former, Colonel Plunket, suggested the seizure of Dublin Castle. The 23rd of October was fixed on for the enterprise; but, though attempted, the attempt was frustrated by a betrayal of the plot, in consequence of an indiscretion of one of the leaders.

The rage of the Protestant party knew no limits. The Castle was put in a state of defence, troops were ordered in all directions, and proclamations were issued. In the meantime the conspirators at a distance had succeeded better, but unfortunately they were not aware of the failure in Dublin until it was too late. Sir Phelim O'Neill was at the head of 30,000 men. He issued a proclamation, stating that he intended "no hurt to the King, or hurt of any of his subjects, English or Scotch;" but that his only object was the defence of Irish liberty. He added that whatever hurt was done any one, should be personally repaired. This proclamation was from "Dungannon, the 23rd of October, 1641," and signed "PHELIM O'NEILL."

A few days after he produced a commission, which he pretended he had received from the King, authorizing his proceedings; but he amply atoned for this ruse de guerre afterwards, by declaring openly and honorably that the document was forged. The Irish were treated with barbarous severity, especially by Sir Charles Coote; while they were most careful to avoid any bloodshed, except what was justifiable and unavoidable in war. Dr. Bedell, the good and gentle Protestant Bishop of Kilmore, and all his people, were protected; and he drew up a remonstrance, from the tenor of which he appears to have given some sanction to the proceedings of the northern chieftains. The massacre of Island Magee took place about this period; and though the exact date is disputed, and the exact number of victims has been questioned, it cannot be disproved that the English and Scotch settlers at Carrickfergus sallied forth at night, and murdered a number of defenceless men, women, and children. That there was no regular or indiscriminate massacre of Protestants by the Catholics at this period, appears to be proved beyond question by the fact, that no mention of such an outrage was made in any of the letters of the Lords Justices to the Privy Council. It is probable, however, that the Catholics did rise up in different places, to attack those by whom they had been so severely and cruelly oppressed; and although there was no concerted plan of massacre, many victims, who may have been personally innocent, paid the penalty of the guilty. In such evidence as is still on record, ghost stories predominate; and even the Puritans seem to have believed the wildest tales of the apparition of Protestants, who demanded the immolation of the Catholics who had murdered them.


[462] Fortunes.—Smith's History of Kerry, vol. ii. p. 97.

[463] Papists.—Oliver's Collections, quoted by Dr. Moran, p. 250.

[464] World.—Dr. Rothe, quoted by Monsignor Moran, p. 251.

[465] Writing.—The original is in the Cot. Col. British Museum.

[466] Tully Castle.—See heading of this chapter.

[467] Adultery.—MS. History, by Rev. A. Stuart, quoted in Reid's History of the Presbyterian Church, vol. i. p. 96.

[468] Lectured. The address of the Irish party to James is given in O'Sullivan Beare's History, p. 316, and also the King's reply, p. 323. A collection made throughout Ireland to defray the expenses of the delegates.

[469] Puritan—Plowden's History of Ireland, vol. i. p. 338. "By his management and contrivance, he provided the whole doctrine of Calvin to be received as the public belief of the Protestant Church of Ireland, and ratified by Chichester in the King's name." Chichester himself was a thorough Puritan, and a disciple of Cartwright, who used to pray, "O Lord, give us grace and power as one man to set ourselves against them" (the bishops).

[470] Franciscan.—An account of the sufferings of the Franciscans will be found in St. Francis and the Franciscans. The Poor Clares, who are the Second Order of St. Francis, were refounded and established in Ireland, by Sir John Dillon's sister, about this time, and suffered severe persecutions. Miss Dillon, the Abbess, was brought before the Lord Deputy; but her quiet dignity made such impression on the court, that she was dismissed without molestation for the time.

[471] From me.—Stafford's State Letters, vol. i. p. 331.

[472] Sovereign.—Strafford's Letters, vol. ii. p. 241.

[473] Means.—This curious document was first published in the Nation of February 5th, 1859.


English Adventurers speculate on Irish Disaffection—Coote's Cruelties—Meeting of Irish Noblemen and Gentlemen—Discontent of the People—The Catholic Priests try to save Protestants from their fury—A National Synod to deliberate on the State of Irish Affairs—The General Assembly is convened at Kilkenny—A Mint is established—A Printing-Press set up—Relations are entered into with Foreign States, and a Method of Government is organized—Differences of Opinion between the Old Irish and Anglo-Irish—A Year's Treaty is made—Arrival of Rinuccini—He lands at Kenmare—His Account of the Irish People—His Reception at Kilkenny—His Opinion of the State of Affairs—Divisions of the Confederates—Ormonde's Intrigues—The Battle of Benburb—Divisions and Discord in Camp and Senate—A Treaty signed and published by the Representatives of the English King—Rinuccini returns to Italy.

[A.D. 1642-1649.]

O'Neill now took the title of "Lord-General of the Catholic army in Ulster." A proclamation was issued by the Irish Government, declaring he had received no authority from the King; and the ruling powers were often heard to say, "that the more were in rebellion, the more lands should be forfeited to them."[474] A company of adventurers were already formed in London on speculation, and a rich harvest was anticipated. Several engagements took place, in which the insurgents were on the whole successful. It was now confidently stated that a general massacre of the Catholics was intended; and, indeed, the conduct of those engaged in putting down the rising, was very suggestive of such a purpose. In Wicklow, Sir Charles Coote put many innocent persons to the sword, without distinction of age or sex. On one occasion, when he met a soldier carrying an infant on the point of his pike, he was charged with saying that "he liked such frolics."[475] Carte admits that his temper was rather "sour;" but he relates incidents in his career which should make one think "barbarous" would be the more appropriate term. The Lords Justices approved of his proceedings; and Lord Castlehaven gives a fearful account of the conduct of troops sent out by these gentlemen, who "killed men, women, and children promiscuously; which procedure," he says, "not only exasperated the rebels, and induced them to commit the like cruelties upon the English, but frightened the nobility and gentry about; who, seeing the harmless country people, without respect of age or sex, thus barbarously murdered, and themselves then openly threatened as favourers of the rebellion, for paying the contributions they could not possibly refuse, resolved to stand upon their guard."[476]

Before taking an open step, even in self-defence, the Irish noblemen and gentlemen sent another address to the King; but their unfortunate messenger, Sir John Read, was captured, and cruelly racked by the party in power—their main object being to obtain something from his confessions which should implicate the King and Queen. Patrick Barnwell, an aged man, was also racked for a similar purpose. The Lords Justices now endeavoured to get several gentlemen into their possession, on pretence of holding a conference. Their design was suspected, and the intended victims escaped; but they wrote a courteous letter, stating the ground of their refusal. A meeting of the principal Irish noblemen and gentlemen was now held on the Hill of Crofty, in Meath. Amongst those present were the Earl of Fingall, Lords Gormanstown, Slane, Louth, Dunsany, Trimbleston, and Netterville, Sir Patrick Barnwell and Sir Christopher Bellew; and of the leading country gentlemen, Barnwell, Darcy, Bath, Aylmer, Cusack, Malone, Segrave, &c. After they had been a few hours on the ground, the leaders of the insurgent party came up, and were accosted by Lord Gormanstown, who inquired why they came armed into the Pale. O'More replied that they had "taken up arms for the freedom and liberty of their consciences, the maintenance of his Majesty's prerogative, in which they understood he was abridged, and the making the subjects of this kingdom as free as those of England." Lord Gormanstown answered: "Seeing these be your true ends, we will likewise join with you therein."

On the 1st of January, 1642, Charles issued a proclamation against the Irish rebels, and wished to take the command against them in person; but his Parliament was his master, and the members were glad enough of the excuse afforded by the troubles in Ireland to increase the army, and to obtain a more direct personal control over its movements. They voted away Irish estates, and uttered loud threats of exterminating Popery; but they had a more important and interesting game in hand at home, which occupied their attention, and made them comparatively indifferent to Irish affairs.

Sir Phelim O'Neill was not succeeding in the north. He had been obliged to raise the siege of Drogheda, and the English had obtained possession of Dundalk. L1,000 was offered for his head, and L600 for the heads of some of his associates. Ormonde and Tichburne were in command of the Government forces, but Ormonde was considered to be too lenient; and two priests, Father Higgins and Father White, were executed by Coote, the one without trial, and the other without even the forms of justice, although they were under the Earl's protection. Carte says that Father Higgins' case excited special interest, for he had saved many Protestants from the fury of the Irish, and afforded them relief and protection afterwards. Indeed, at this period, the Catholic clergy were unwearied in their efforts to protect the Protestants. They must have been actuated by the purest motives of religion, which were none the less sacred to them because they could neither be understood nor appreciated by those whose whole conduct had been so different. Father Saul, a Jesuit, sheltered Dr. Pullen, the Protestant Dean of Clonfert, and his family; Father Everard and Father English, Franciscan friars, concealed many Protestants in their chapels, and even under their altars. Many similar instances are on record in the depositions concerning the murders and massacres of the times, at present in Trinity College, Dublin; though those depositions were taken with the avowed object of making out a case against the Catholics of having intended a general massacre. In Galway the Jesuits were especially active in charity to their enemies, and went through the town exhorting the people, for Christ's sake, our Lady's and St. Patrick's, to shed no blood. But although the Catholic hierarchy were most anxious to prevent outrages against humanity, they were by no means insensible to the outrages against justice, from which the Irish nation had so long suffered. They were far from preaching passive submission to tyranny, or passive acceptance of heresy. The Church had long since not only sanctioned, but even warmly encouraged, a crusade against the infidels, and the deliverance, by force of arms, of the holy places from desecration; it had also granted[477] similar encouragements and similar indulgences to all who should fight for "liberties and rights" in Ireland, and had "exhorted, urged, and solicited" the people to do so with "all possible affection." The Irish clergy could have no doubt that the Holy See would sanction a national effort for national liberty. The Archbishop of Armagh, therefore, convened a provincial synod, which was held at Kells, on the 22nd of March, 1641, which pronounced the war undertaken by the Catholics of Ireland lawful and pious, but denounced murders and usurpations, and took steps for assembling a national synod at Kilkenny during the following year.

The Catholic cause, meanwhile, was not advancing through the country. The Irish were defeated in nearly every engagement with the English troops. The want of a competent leader and of unanimity of purpose was felt again, as it had so often been felt before; but the Church attempted to supply the deficiency, and, if it did not altogether succeed, it was at least a national credit to have done something in the cause of freedom.

The synod met at Kilkenny, on the 10th of May, 1642. It was attended by the Archbishops of Armagh, Cashel, and Tuam, and the Bishops of Ossory, Elphin, Waterford and Lismore, Kildare Clonfert, and Down and Connor. Proctors attended for the Archbishop of Dublin, and for the Bishops of Limerick, Emly, and Killaloe. There were present, also, sixteen other dignitaries and heads of religious orders. They issued a manifesto explaining their conduct and, forming a Provisional Government, concluded their labours, after three days spent in careful deliberation.

Owen Roe O'Neill and Colonel Preston arrived in Ireland in July, 1642, accompanied by a hundred officers, and well supplied with arms and ammunition. Sir Phelim O'Neill went at once to meet O'Neill, and resigned the command of the army; and all promised fairly for the national cause. The Scots, who had kept up a war of their own for some time, against both the King and the Catholics, were wasting Down and Antrim; and O'Neill was likely to need all his military skill and all his political wisdom in the position in which he was placed.

Preston had landed in Wexford, and brought a still larger force; while all the brave expatriated Irishmen in foreign service, hastened home the moment there appeared a hope that they could strike a blow with some effect for the freedom of their native land.

The General Assembly projected by the national synod in Kilkenny, held its first meeting on October 14, 1642,—eleven spiritual and fourteen temporal peers, with 226 commoners, representing the Catholic population of Ireland. It was, in truth, a proud and glorious day for the nation. For once, at least, she could speak through channels chosen by her own free will; and for once there dawned a hope of legislative freedom of action for the long-enslaved people. The old house is still shown where that Assembly deliberated—a Parliament all but in name. The table then used, and the chair occupied by the Speaker, are still preserved, as sad mementos of freedom's blighted cause.[478] The house used was in the market-place, The peers and commoners sat together; but a private room was allotted for the lords to consult in. Dr. Patrick Darcy, an eminent lawyer, represented the Chancellor and the judges. Mr. Nicholas Plunket was chosen as Speaker; the Rev. Thomas O'Quirk, a learned Dominican friar, was appointed Chaplain to both houses.

The Assembly at once declared that they met as a provisional government, and not as a parliament. The preliminary arrangements occupied them until the 1st of November. From the 1st until the 4th, the committee was engaged in drawing up a form for the Confederate Government; on the 4th it was sanctioned by the two houses. Magna Charta, and the common and statute law of England, in all points not contrary to the Catholic religion, or inconsistent with the liberty of Ireland, were made the basis of the new Government. The administrative authority was vested in a Supreme Council, which was then chosen, and of which Lord Mountgarret was elected President.

There were six members elected for each province. For Leinster, the Archbishop of Dublin, Lords Gormanstown and Mountgarret, Nicholas Plunket, Richard Belling, and James Cusack. For Ulster, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Bishop of Down, Philip O'Reilly, Colonel MacMahon, Heber Magennis, and Turlough O'Neill. For Munster, Viscount Roche, Sir Daniel O'Brien, Edmund FitzMaurice, Dr. Fennell, Robert Lambert, and George Comyn. For Connaught, the Archbishop of Tuam, Viscount Mayo, the Bishop of Clonfert, Sir Lucas Dillon, Geoffrey Browne, and Patrick Darcy. The Earl of Castlehaven, who had just escaped from his imprisonment in Dublin, was added as a twenty-fifth member. Generals were appointed to take the command of the forces—Owen Roe O'Neill, for Ulster; Preston, for Leinster; Barry, for Munster; and Burke, for Connaught. A seal was made, a printing-press set up, and a mint established. Money was coined and levied for the necessary expenses; and a levy of 31,700 men was prepared to be drilled by the new officers. Envoys were sent to solicit assistance from the Catholic courts of Europe; and the famous and learned Franciscan, Father Luke Wadding, applied himself to the cause with unremitting earnestness. Father John Talbot was employed in a similar manner in Spain.

The Assembly broke up on the 9th of January, 1643, after sending a remonstrance to the King, declaring their loyalty, and explaining their grievances. The complicated state of English politics proved the ruin of this noble undertaking, so auspiciously commenced. Charles was anxious to make terms with men whom he knew would probably be the only subjects on whose loyalty he could thoroughly depend. His enemies—and the most cursory glance at English history during this period proves how many and how powerful they were—desired to keep open the rupture, and, if possible, to bring it down, from the high stand of dignified remonstrance, to the more perilous and lower position of a general and ill-organized insurrection. The Lords Justices Borlase and Parsons were on the look-out for plunder; but Charles had as yet sufficient power to form a commission of his own, and he sent the Marquis of Ormonde and some other noblemen to treat with the Confederates. Ormonde was a cold, calculating, and, if we must judge him by his acts, a cruel man; for, to give only one specimen of his dealings, immediately after his appointment, he butchered the brave garrison of Timolin, who had surrendered on promise of quarter.

The Confederates were even then divided into two parties. The section of their body principally belonging to the old English settlers, were willing to have peace on almost any terms; the ancient Irish had their memories burdened with so many centuries of wrong, that they demanded something like certainty of redress before they would yield. Ormonde was well aware of the men with whom, and the opinions with which, he had to deal, and he acted accordingly. In the various engagements which occurred, the Irish were on the whole successful They had gained an important victory near Fermoy, principally through the headlong valour of a troop of mere boys who dashed down with wild impetuosity on the English, and showed what mettle there was still left in the country. Envoys were arriving from foreign courts, and Urban VIII. had sent Father Scarampi with indulgences and a purse of 30,000 dollars, collected by Father Wadding. It was, therefore, most important that the movement should be checked in some way; and, as it could not be suppressed by force, it was suppressed by diplomacy.

On the 15th of September, 1643, a cessation of arms for one year was agreed upon; and the tide, which had set in so gloriously for Irish independence, rolled back its sobbing waves slowly and sadly towards the English coast, and never returned again with the same hopeful freedom and overpowering strength.

The Irish, even those whose wisdom or whose ardour made them most dissatisfied with the treaty, observed it honorably. The Puritan party professed to regard the cessation as a crime, and therefore did not consider themselves bound to observe it. As they were in fact the ruling powers, the unfortunate Irish were, as usual, the victims. The troops, who had been trained and collected for the defence of their native land, were now sent to Scotland, to shed their blood in the royal cause. As honorable men, having undertaken the duty, they fulfilled it gloriously, and won the admiration even of their enemies by their undaunted valour.

The unhappy English monarch was now besieged by petitions and counter-petitions. The Confederates asked for liberty of conscience; the Puritans demanded a stern enforcement of the penal laws. Complaints were made on both sides of the infringement of the cessation; but Munroe was the chief offender; and Owen O'Neill was summoned to consult with the Supreme Council in Kilkenny. Lord Castlehaven, who was utterly incompetent for such an appointment, was given the command of the army; and O'Neill, though he felt hurt at the unjust preference, submitted generously.

In August, 1644, the cessation was again renewed by the General Assembly until December, and subsequently for a longer period. Thus precious time, and what was still more precious, the fresh energies and interests of the Confederates, were hopelessly lost. The King's generals, or rather it should be said the Parliamentary officers, observed or held these engagements at their convenience, and made treaties of their own—Inchiquin and Purcell making a truce between themselves in the south. As the King's affairs became daily more complicated, and his position more perilous, he saw the necessity for peace with his Irish subjects, and for allying himself with them, if possible. Had he treated them with more consideration, or rather with common justice and humanity, at the commencement of his reign, England might have been saved the guilt of regicide and Cromwell's iron rule. Ormonde had received ample powers from Charles to grant the Catholics every justice now; but Ormonde could not resist the inclination to practise a little subtle diplomacy, even at the risk of his master's kingdom and his master's head. The Confederate commissioners rejected his temporizing measures with contempt, though a few of their members, anxious for peace, were inclined to yield.

When Inchiquin set out to destroy the growing crops early in summer, Castlehaven was sent against him, and obliged him to retire into Cork. At the same time Coote was overrunning Connaught and took possession of Sligo. The Irish forces again recovered the town; but, in the attempt, the Archbishop and two friars fell into the hands of the enemy, and were cruelly murdered. Charles now made another attempt to obtain the assistance of the Catholic party, and sent over Lord Herbert to Ireland on a secret mission for that purpose. This nobleman and his father-in-law, the Earl of Thomond, were almost romantically attached to the King, and had already advanced L200,000 for the support of the royal cause. He proceeded to Kilkenny, after a brief interview with Ormonde. England's difficulty proved Ireland's opportunity. Everything that could be desired was granted; and all that was asked was the liberty to worship God according to each man's conscience, and the liberty of action and employment, which is the right of every member of civil society who has not violated the rules of moral conduct which governors are bound to enforce. In return for the promise that they should enjoy the rights of subjects, the Irish Confederates promised to do the duty of subjects. They had already assisted more than one English King to rule his Scotch dominions; they were now to assist Charles to rule his English subjects; and they promised to send him 10,000 armed men, under the command of Lord Herbert. It was a great risk to trust a Stuart; and he made it a condition that the agreement should remain secret until the troops had landed in England.

In the meantime Belling, the Secretary of the Supreme Council, was sent to Rome and presented to Innocent X., by Father Wadding, as the envoy of the Confederate Catholics, in February, 1645. On hearing his report, the Pope sent John Baptist Rinuccini[479], Archbishop of Fermo, to Ireland, as Nuncio-Extraordinary. This prelate set out immediately; and, after some detention at St. Germains, for the purpose of conferring with the English Queen, who had taken refuge there, he purchased the frigate San Pietro at Rochelle, stored it with arms and ammunition; and, after some escapes from the Parliamentary cruisers, landed safely in Kenmare Bay, on the 21st of October, 1645. He was soon surrounded and welcomed by the peasantry; and after celebrating Mass in a poor hut,[480] he at once proceeded to Limerick. Here he celebrated the obsequies of the Archbishop of Tuam, and then passed on to Kilkenny. He entered the old city in state, attended by the clergy. At the entrance to the Cathedral he was met by the Bishop of Ossory, who was unable to walk in the procession. When the Te Deum had been sung, he was received in the Castle by the General Assembly, and addressed them in Latin. After this he returned to the residence prepared for him.

In a Catholic country, and with a Catholic people, the influence of a Papal Nuncio was necessarily preponderant, and he appears to have seen at a glance the difficulties and advantages of the position of Irish affairs and the Confederate movement. "He had set his mind," says the author of the Confederation of Kilkenny, "on one grand object—the freedom of the Church, in possession of all her rights and dignities, and the emancipation of the Catholic people from the degradation to which English imperialism had condemned them. The churches which the piety of Catholic lords and chieftains had erected, he determined to secure to the rightful inheritors. His mind and feelings recoiled from the idea of worshipping in crypts and catacombs; he abhorred the notion of a priest or bishop performing a sacred rite as though it were a felony; and despite the wily artifices of Ormonde and his faction, he resolved to teach the people of Ireland that they were not to remain mere dependents on English bounty, when a stern resolve might win for them the privileges of freemen."[481]

The following extract from Rinuccini's own report, will show how thoroughly he was master of the situation in a diplomatic point of view: "From time immemorial two adverse parties have always existed among the Catholics of Ireland. The first are called the 'old Irish.' They are most numerous in Ulster, where they seem to have their head-quarters; for even the Earl of Tyrone placed himself at their head, and maintained a protracted war against Elizabeth. The second may be called the 'old English,'—a race introduced into Ireland in the reign of Henry II., the fifth king in succession from William the Conqueror; so called to distinguish them from the 'new English,' who have come into the kingdom along with the modern heresy. These parties are opposed to each other principally on the following grounds: the old Irish, entertaining a great aversion for heresy, are also averse to the dominion of England, and have Biased, generally speaking, to accept the investiture of Church property offered to them since the apostacy of the Kings of England from the Church. The others, on the contrary, enriched with the spoils of the monasteries, and thus bound to the King by obligation, no less than by interest, neither seek nor desire anything but the exaltation of the crown, esteem no laws but those of the realm, are thoroughly English in their feelings, and, from their constant familiarity with heretics, are less jealous of differences of religion."

The Nuncio then goes on to state how even the military command was divided between these two parties,—O'Neill belonging to the old Irish interest, and Preston to the new. He also mentions the manner in which this difference of feeling extended to the lower classes, and particularly to those who served in the army.[482]

I have given this lengthened extract from Rinuccini's report, because, with all the advantages of looking back upon the times and events, it would be impossible to explain more clearly the position of the different parties. It remains only to show how these unfortunate differences led to the ruin of the common cause.

The Confederates now began to be distinguished into two parties, as Nuncionists and Ormondists. Two sets of negotiations were carried on, openly with Ormonde, and secretly with Glamorgan. The Nuncio, from the first, apprehended the treachery of Charles, and events proved the correctness of his forebodings. Glamorgan produced his credentials, dated April 30th, 1645, in which the King promised to ratify whatever terms he might make; and he further promised, that the Irish soldiers, whose assistance he demanded, should be brought back to their own shores, if these arrangements were not complied with by his master. Meanwhile a copy of this secret treaty was discovered on the Archbishop of Tuam, who had been killed at Sligo. It was used as an accusation against the King. Glamorgan was arrested in Dublin, and the whole scheme was defeated.

The General Assembly met in Kilkenny, in January, 1646, and demanded the release of Glamorgan. He was bailed out; but the King disowned the commission, as Rinuccini had expected, and proved himself thereby equally a traitor to his Catholic and Protestant subjects. Ormonde took care to foment the division between the Confederate party, and succeeded so well that a middle party was formed, who signed a treaty consisting of thirty articles. This document only provided for the religious part of the question, that Roman Catholics should not be bound to take the oath of supremacy. An Act of oblivion was passed, and the Catholics were to continue to hold their possessions until a settlement could be made by Act of Parliament. Even in a political point of view, this treaty was a failure; and one should have thought that Irish chieftains and Anglo-Irish nobles had known enough of Acts of Parliament to have prevented them from confiding their hopes to such an uncertain future.

The division of the command in the Confederate army had been productive of most disastrous consequences. The rivalry between O'Neill, Preston, and Owen Roe, increased the complication; but the Nuncio managed to reconcile the two O'Neills, and active preparations were made by Owen Roe for his famous northern campaign. The Irish troops intended for Charles had remained in their own country; the unfortunate monarch had committed his last fatal error by confiding himself to his Scotch subjects, who sold him to his own people for L400,000. Ormonde now refused to publish the treaty which had been just concluded, or even to enforce its observance by Monroe, although the Confederates had given him L3,000 to get up an expedition for that purpose.

In the beginning of June, A.D. 1646, Owen Roe O'Neill marched against Monroe, with 5,000 foot and 500 horse. Monroe received notice of his approach; and although his force was far superior to O'Neill's, he sent for reinforcements of cavalry from his brother, Colonel George Monroe, who was stationed at Coleraine. But the Irish forces advanced more quickly than he expected; and on the 4th of June they had crossed the Blackwater, and encamped at Benburb. O'Neill selected his position admirably. He encamped between two small hills, with a wood in his rear. The river Blackwater protected him on the right, and an impassable bog on the left. Some brushwood in the front enabled him to conceal a party of musketeers; he was also well-informed of Monroe's movements, and took precautions to prevent the advance of his brother's forces. Monroe crossed the river at Kinard, at a considerable distance in the rear of his opponent, and then advanced, by a circuitous march, from the east and north. The approach was anticipated; and, on in the 5th of June, 1646, the most magnificent victory ever recorded in the annals of Irish history was won. The Irish army prepared for the great day with solemn religious observances. The whole army approached the sacraments of penance and holy communion, and thus were prepared alike for death or victory. The chaplain deputed by the Nuncio addressed them briefly, and appealed to their religious feelings; their General, Owen Roe, appealed to their nationality. How deeply outraged they had been, both in their religion and in their national feelings, has been already mentioned; how they fought for their altars and their domestic hearths will now be recorded. O'Neill's skill as a military tactician, is beyond all praise. For four long hours he engaged the attention of the enemy, until the glare of the burning summer sun had passed away, and until he had intercepted the reinforcements which Monroe expected. At last the decisive moment had arrived. Monroe thought he saw his brother's contingent in the distance; O'Neill knew that they were some of his own men who had beaten that very contingent. When the Scotch general was undeceived, he resolved to retire. O'Neill saw his advantage, and gave the command to charge. With one loud cry of vengeance for desecrated altars and desolated homes, the Irish soldiers dashed to the charge, and Monroe's ranks were broken, and his men driven to flight. Even the General himself fled so precipitately, that he left his hat, sword, and cloak after him, and never halted until he reached Lisburn. Lord Montgomery was taken prisoner, and 3,000 of the Scotch were left on the field. Of the Irish only seventy men were killed, and 200 wounded. It was a great victory; and it was something more—it was a glorious victory; although Ireland remained, both as to political and religious freedom, much as it had been before. The standards captured on that bloody field were sent to the Nuncio at Limerick, and carried in procession to the Cathedral, where a solemn Te Deum was chanted—and that was all the result that came of it. Confusion thrice confounded followed in the rear. The King issued orders, under the compulsion of the Scotch, which Lord Digby declared to be just the contrary of what he really wished; and Ormonde proclaimed and ratified the treaty he had formerly declined to fulfil, while the "old Irish" everywhere indignantly rejected it. In Waterford, Clonmel, and Limerick, the people would not permit it even to be proclaimed. The Nuncio summoned a national synod in Waterford, at which it was condemned; and a decree was issued, on the 12th of August, declaring that all who adhered to such terms should be declared perjurers. Even Preston declared for the Nuncio; and the clergy and the nobles who led the unpopular cause, were obliged to ask Ormonde's assistance to help them out of their difficulty. The Earl arrived at Kilkenny with an armed force; but fled precipitately when he heard that O'Neill and Preston were advancing towards him.

Rinuccini now took a high hand. He entered Kilkenny in state, on the 18th of September, and committed the members of the Supreme Council as prisoners to the Castle, except Darcy and Plunket. A new Council was appointed, or self-appointed, on the 20th, of which the Nuncio was chosen President. The imprisonment of the old Council was undoubtedly a harsh and unwise proceeding, which can scarcely be justified; but the times were such that prompt action was demanded, and the result alone, which could not be foreseen, could justify or condemn it.

The Generals were again at variance; and although the new Council had decided on attacking Dublin, their plans could not be carried out. Preston was unquestionably playing fast and loose; and when the Confederate troops did march towards Dublin, his duplicity ruined the cause which might even then have been gained. A disgraceful retreat was the result. An Assembly was again convened at Kilkenny; the old Council was released; the Generals promised to forget their animosities: but three weeks had been lost in angry discussion; and although the Confederates bound themselves by oath not to lay down their arms until their demands were granted, their position was weakened to a degree which the selfishness of the contending parties made them quite incapable of estimating.

The fact was, the Puritan faction in England was every day gaining an increase of power; while every hour that the Confederate Catholics wasted in discussion or division, was weakening their moral strength. Even Ormonde found himself a victim to the party who had long made him their tool, and was ordered out of Dublin unceremoniously, and obliged eventually to take refuge in France. Colonel Jones took possession of Dublin Castle for the rebel forces and defeated Preston in a serious engagement at Dungan Hill soon after his arrival in Ireland. O'Neill now came to the rescue; and even the Ormondists, having lost their leader, admitted that he was their only resource. His admirable knowledge of military tactics enabled him to drive Jones into Dublin Castle, and keep him there for a time almost in a state of siege.

In the mean time Inchiquin was distinguishing himself by his cruel victories in the south of Ireland. The massacre of Cashel followed. When the walls were battered down, the hapless garrison surrendered without resistance, and were butchered without mercy. The people fled to the Cathedral, hoping there, at least, to escape; but the savage General poured volleys of musket-balls through the doors and windows, and his soldiers rushing in afterwards, piked those who were not yet dead. Twenty priests were dragged out as objects of special vengeance; and the total number of those were thus massacred amounted to 3,000.

An engagement took place in November between Inchiquin and Lord Taaffe, in which the Confederates were again beaten and cruelly massacred. Thus two of their generals had lost both their men and their prestige, and O'Neill alone remained as the prop of a falling cause. The Irish now looked for help from foreign sources, and despatched Plunket and French to Rome, and Muskerry and Browne to France; but Ormonde had already commenced negotiations on his own account, and he alone was accredited at the court of St. Germains. Even at this moment Inchiquin had been treating with the Supreme Council for a truce; but Rinuccini, who detested his duplicity, could never be induced to listen to his proposals. A man who had so mercilessly massacred his own countrymen, could scarcely be trusted by them on so sudden a conversion to their cause; but, unhappily, there were individuals who, in the uncertain state of public affairs, were anxious to steer their barks free of the thousand breakers ahead, and in their eagerness forgot that, when the whole coast-line was deluged with storms, their best chance of escape was the bold resolution of true moral courage. The cautious politicians, therefore, made a treaty with Inchiquin, which was signed at Dungarvan, on the 20th of May. On the 27th of that month the Nuncio promulgated a sentence of excommunication against all cities and villages where it should be received, and, at the same time, he withdrew to the camp of Owen Roe O'Neill, against whom Inchiquin and Preston were prepared to march. It was a last and desperate resource, and, as might be expected, it failed signally of its intended effects. Various attempts to obtain a settlement of the question at issue by force of arms, were made by the contending parties; but O'Neill baffled his enemies, and the Nuncio withdrew to Galway.

Ormonde arrived in Ireland soon after, and was received at Cork, on the 27th of September, 1648, by Inchiquin. He then proceeded to Kilkenny, where he was received in great state by the Confederates. On the 17th of January, 1649, he signed a treaty of peace, which concluded the seven years' war. This treaty afforded the most ample indulgences to the Catholics, and guaranteed fairly that civil and religious liberty for which alone they had contended; but the ink upon the deed was scarcely dry, ere the execution of Charles I., on the 30th of January, washed out its enactments in royal blood; and civil war, with more than ordinary complications, was added to the many miseries of our unfortunate country.

Rinuccini embarked in the San Pietro once more, and returned to Italy, February 23, 1649. Had his counsels been followed, the result might have justified him, even in his severest measures; as it is we read only failure in his career; but it should be remembered, that there are circumstances under which failure is more noble than success.


[474] Them.—Castlehaven's Memoirs, p, 28.

[475] Frolics.—Carte's Ormonde, vol. i. p. 245, folio edition.

[476] Guard.—Castlehaven's Memoirs, p. 30. Coote's cruelties are admitted on all sides to have been most fearful. Leland speaks of "his ruthless and indiscriminate carnage."—History of Ireland, vol. iii. p. 146. Warner says "he was a stranger to mercy."—History of the Irish Rebellion, p. 135. "And yet this was the man," says Lord Castlehaven, "whom the Lords Justices picked out to entrust with a commission of martial-law, which he performed with delight, and with a wanton kind of cruelty."

[477] Granted.—This most important and interesting document may be seen in O'Sullivan's Hist. Cath. p. 121. It is headed: "Gregory XIII., to the Archbishops, Bishops, and other prelates, as also to the Catholic Princes, Earls, Barons, Clergy, Nobles, and People of Ireland, health and apostolic benediction." It is dated: "Given at Rome, the 13th day of May, 1580, the eighth of our pontificate."

[478] Cause.—See illustration at head of this chapter.

[479] Rinuccini,—A work was published in Florence, 1844, entitled Nunziatura in Irlanda, di M. Gio. Battista Rinuccini, &c. This work, which only forms a portion of the Rinuccini MS., throws much valuable light upon the history of the period. It is supposed to have been written by the Dean of Fermo, who attended the Nuncio during his official visit to Ireland. This volume also contains, in the original Italian, the report presented by Rinuccini to the Pope on his return from Ireland. Burke has given some extracts from the MS. in his Hibernia Dominicana, and Carte mentions it also; but otherwise these very important documents appear to have been quite overlooked.

Since the publication of the first edition of this work, I have obtained a copy of a translation of the Nuncio's narrative, which appeared in the Catholic Miscellany for 1829. This translation was made by a Protestant clergyman, from a Latin translation of the original, in the possession of Mr. Coke, of Holham, Norfolk. The Nuncio's account is one of great importance, but it would demand considerable space if treated of in detail. There was a very able article on the subject in the Dublin Review for March, 1845.

[480] Hut.—Some extracts from a curious and interesting letter, describing the voyage from France and the landing in Ireland of Rinuccini and his party, were published in the Dublin Review for March, 1845. It is addressed to Count Thomas Rinuccini, but the writer is supposed to have been the Dean of Fermo. He gives a graphic description of their arrival at Kenmare—"al porto di Kilmar" and of the warm reception they met from the poor, and their courtesy—"La cortesia di quei poveri popoli dove Monsignor capito, fu incomparabile." He also says: "Gran cosa, nelle montagne e luoghi rozzi, e gente povera per le devastazioni fatte dei nemici eretici, trovai pero la nobilta della S. fede Catolica, giache auro vi fu uomo, o donna, o ragazzo, ancor che piccolo, che non me sapesse recitar il Pater, Ave, Credo, e i commandamenti della Santa Chiesa." "It is most wonderful that in this wild and mountainous place, and a people so impoverished by the heretical enemy, I found, nevertheless, the noble influence of the holy Catholic faith; for there was not a man or woman, or a child however young, who could not repeat the Our Father, Hail Mary, Creed, and the commands of Holy Church." We believe the same might be said at the present day of this part of Ireland. It is still as poor, and the people are still as well instructed in and as devoted to their faith now as in that century.

[481] Freemen.—Confederation of Kilkenny, p. 117.

[482] Army,—Nunziatura in Irlanda, p. 391.


Cromwell arrives in Ireland—He marches to Drogheda—Cruel Massacre of the Inhabitants after promise of Quarter—Account of an Eyewitness—Brutality of the Cromwellian Soldiers—Ladies are not spared—Cromwell's Letters—He boasts of his Cruelties—Massacre and Treachery at Drogheda—Brave Resistance at Clonmel—Charles II. arrives in Scotland—The Duplicity of his Conduct towards the Irish—Siege of Limerick—Ireton's Cruelties and Miserable Death—The Banishment to Connaught—The Irish are sold as Slaves to Barbadoes—General Desolation and Misery of the People.

[A.D. 1649-1655.]

Cromwell was now master of England, and ruled with all that authority which is so freely granted to a revolutionary leader, and so often denied to a lawful monarch. The great body of the English stood aghast with horror when they discovered that regicide, and the substitution of an illegal tyranny for one which at least was legal, was the end of all their hopes. The new ruler was aware of the precariousness of his position. The safety of his head, as well as the continuance of his power, depended on the caprice of the multitude; and he saw that the sword alone could maintain him in the elevated position to which he had risen, and the still more elevated position to which he aspired. We scarcely imagine him to have been more religious or less humane than many of his contemporaries, though it is evident that he required a great show of the kind of religion then fashionable to support his character as a reformer, and that he considered himself obliged to exercise wholesale cruelties to consolidate his power.

The rightful heir to the English throne was then at the Hague, uncertain how to act and whither he should turn his steps. He wished to visit Ireland, where he would have been received with enthusiastic loyalty by the Catholics; but Ormonde persuaded him, from sinister motives, to defer his intention. Ormonde and Inchiquin now took the field together. The former advanced to Dublin, and the latter to Drogheda. This town was held by a Parliamentary garrison, who capitulated on honorable terms. Monck and Owen O'Neill, in the meantime, were acting in concert, and Inchiquin captured supplies which the English General was sending to the Irish chief. Newry, Dundalk, and the often-disputed and famous Castle of Trim[483] surrendered to him, and he marched back to Ormonde in triumph. As there appeared no hope of reducing Dublin except by famine, it was regularly blockaded; and the Earl wrote to Charles to inform him that his men were so loyal, he could "persuade half his army to starve outright for his Majesty."

Ormonde now moved his camp from Finglas to Rathmines, and at the same time reinforcements arrived for the garrison, under the command of Colonels Reynolds and Venables. The besiegers made an attempt to guard the river, and for this purpose, Major-General Purcell was sent to take possession of the ruined Castle of Bagotrath, about a mile from the camp. Ormonde professed to have expected an attack during the night, and kept his men under arms; but just as he had retired to rest, an alarm was given. Colonel Jones had made a sortie from the city; the sortie became for a brief moment an engagement, and ended in a total rout. The Earl was suspected; and whether he had been guilty of treachery or of carelessness, he lost his credit, and soon after left the kingdom.

Cromwell had been made Lieutenant-General of the English army in Ireland, but as yet he had been unable to take the command in person. His position was precarious; and he wished to secure his influence still more firmly in his own country, before he attempted the conquest of another. He had succeeded so far in the accomplishment of his plans that his departure and his journey to Bristol were undertaken in royal style. He left the metropolis early in June, in a coach drawn by six gallant Flanders' mares, and concluded his progress at Milford Haven, where he embarked, reaching Ireland on the 14th of August, 1649. He was attended by some of the most famous of the Parliamentary Generals—his son, Henry, the future Lord Deputy; Monk, Blake, Ireton, Waller, Ludlow and others. He brought with him, for the propagation of the Gospel and the Commonwealth, L200,000 in money, eight regiments of foot, six of horse, several troops of dragoons, a large supply of Bibles,[484] and a corresponding provision of ammunition and scythes. The Bibles were to be distributed amongst his soldiers, and to be given to the poor unfortunate natives, who could not understand a word of their contents. The scythes and sickles were to deprive them of all means of living, and to preach a ghastly commentary on the conduct of the men who wished to convert them to the new Gospel, which certainly was not one of peace. Cromwell now issued two proclamations: one against intemperance, for he knew well the work that was before him, and he could not afford to have a single drunken soldier in his camp. The other proclamation prohibited plundering the country people: it was scarcely less prudent. His soldiers might any day become his masters, if they were not kept under strict control; and there are few things which so effectually lessen military discipline as permission to plunder: he also wished to encourage the country people to bring in provisions. His arrangements all succeeded.

Ormonde had garrisoned Drogheda with 3,000 of his choicest troops. They were partly English, and were commanded by a brave loyalist, Sir Arthur Aston. This was really the most important town in Ireland; and Cromwell, whose skill as a military general cannot be disputed, at once determined to lay siege to it. He encamped before the devoted city on the 2nd of September, and in a few days had his siege guns posted on the hill shown in the accompanying illustration, and still known as Cromwell's Fort. Two breaches were made on the 10th, and he sent in his storming parties about five o'clock in the evening. Earthworks had been thrown up inside and the garrison resisted with undiminished bravery. The besieged at last wavered; quarter[485] was promised to them, and they yielded; but the promise came from men who knew neither how to keep faith or to show mercy. The brave Governor, Sir Arthur Aston, retired with his staff to an old mill on an eminence, but they were disarmed and slain in cold blood. The officers and soldiers were first exterminated, and then men, women, and children were put to the sword. The butchery occupied five entire days; Cromwell has himself described the scene, and glories in his cruelty. Another eyewitness, an officer in his army, has described it also, but with some faint touch of remorse.


A number of the townspeople fled for safety to St. Peter's Church, on the north side of the city, but every one of them was murdered, all defenceless and unarmed as they were; others took refuge in the church steeple, but it was of wood, and Cromwell himself gave orders that it should be set on fire, and those who attempted to escape the flames were piked. The principal ladies of the city had sheltered themselves in the crypts. It might have been supposed that this precaution should be unnecessary, or, at least, that English officers would respect their sex; but, alas for common humanity! it was not so. When the slaughter had been accomplished above, it was continued below. Neither youth nor beauty was spared. Thomas Wood, who was one of these officers, and brother to Anthony Wood, the Oxford historian, says he found in these vaults "the flower and choicest of the women and ladies belonging to the town; amongst whom, a most handsome virgin, arrayed in costly and gorgeous apparel, kneeled down to him with tears and prayer to save her life." Touched by her beauty and her entreaties he attempted to save her, and took her out of the church; but even his protection could not save her. A soldier thrust his sword into her body; and the officer, recovering from his momentary fit of compassion, "flung her down over the rocks," according to his own account, but first took care to possess himself of her money and jewels. This officer also mentions that the soldiers were in the habit of taking up a child, and using it as a buckler, when they wished to ascend the lofts and galleries of the church, to save themselves from being shot or brained. It is an evidence that they knew their victims to be less cruel than themselves, or the expedient would not have been found to answer.

Cromwell wrote an account of this massacre to the "Council of State." His letters, as his admiring editor observes, "tell their own tale;"[486] and unquestionably that tale plainly intimates that whether the Republican General were hypocrite or fanatic—and it is probable he was a compound of both—he certainly, on his own showing, was little less than a demon of cruelty. Cromwell writes thus: "It hath pleased God to bless our endeavours at Drogheda. After battery we stormed it. The enemy were about 3,000 strong in the town. They made a stout resistance. I believe we put to the sword the whole number of defendants. I do not think thirty of the whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody for the Barbadoes. This hath been a marvellous great mercy." In another letter he says that this "great thing" was done "by the Spirit of God."

These savage butcheries had the intended effect. The inhabitants of all the smaller towns fled at his approach, and the garrisons capitulated. Trim, Dundalk, Carlingford, and Newry, had yielded; but Wexford still held out. The garrison amounted to about 3,000 men, under the command of Colonel Sinnot, a brave loyalist. After some correspondence on both sides, a conference took place between four of the royalists and Cromwell, at which he contrived to bribe Captain Stafford, the Governor of the Castle. The conditions asked, preparatory to surrender, were liberty of conscience, and permission to withdraw in safety and with military honours. Cromwell's idea of liberty of conscience was as peculiar as his idea of honour. He wrote to the Governor of Ross to say that he would not "meddle with any man's conscience;" but adds: "If by liberty of conscience you mean a liberty to exercise the Mass, I judge it best to use plain dealing, and to tell you now, where the Parliament of England have power, that will not be allowed of;"[487] which, in plain English, meant that he professed liberty of conscience, but allowed it only to such as agreed with himself. Of his estimation of honour, his dealings at Wexford afford a fair sample. As soon as he had found that Stafford could be bribed, he denounced the proposals of the garrison as abominable and impudent. The traitor opened the castle-gates, and the Parliamentary troops marched in. The besieged were amazed and panic-struck; yet, to their eternal credit, they made what even Cromwell admits to have been a "stiff resistance." The massacre of Drogheda was renewed with all its horrors, and the treacherous General held in his hand all the time the formal offer of surrender which had been made by the townspeople and his own reply. He informs the Parliament that he did not intend to destroy the town, but his own letter reveals his treachery; and he congratulates his correspondents on the "unexpected providence" which had befallen them. He excuses the massacre on the plea of some outrages which had been offered to the "poor Protestants," forgetting what incomparably greater cruelties had been inflicted by the Protestants on the Catholics, both for their loyalty and for their religion.

MacGeoghegan mentions the massacre of two hundred women, who clung round the market-cross for protection.[488] His statement is not corroborated by contemporary authority; but there appears no reason to doubt that it may have taken place, from what has already been recorded at Drogheda on unquestionable authority. Owen Roe and Ormonde now leagued together for the royal cause, but their union was of short duration, for the Irish chieftain died almost immediately, and it was said, not without suspicion of having been poisoned by wearing a "pair of russet boots," sent to him by one Plunket, of Louth, who afterwards boasted of his exploit. His death was an irreparable loss to the Irish cause; for his noble and upright conduct had won him universal esteem, while his military prowess had secured him the respect even of his enemies. New Ross surrendered to Cromwell on the 18th of October and Luke Taaffe, the Commander, joined Ormonde at Kilkenny. The garrisons of Cork, Youghal, Kinsale, and Bandon, revolted to Cromwell, through the intervention of Lord Broghill, son of the Earl of Cork, who became one of the leading Parliamentary officers. On the 24th of November, Cromwell attempted to take Waterford; but finding the place too strong for him, he marched on to Dungarvan. Here the garrison surrendered at discretion, and his troops proceeded to Cork through Youghal.

The Irish had now begun to distrust Ormonde thoroughly; even the citizens of Waterford refused to admit his soldiers into their town. Indeed, the distrust was so general, that he had considerable difficulty in providing winter quarters for his troops, and he wrote to ask permission from the exiled King to leave the country. The month of January, 1650, was spent by Cromwell in continuing his victorious march. He set out from Youghal on the 29th, and approached as near Limerick as he dared, taking such castles as lay in his way, and accepting the keys of Cashel and other towns, where the authorities surrendered immediately. On the 22nd of March he arrived before Kilkenny, to meet a resistance as hopeless as it was heroic. A fearful pestilence had reduced the garrison from 1,200 men to about 400, yet they absolutely refused to obey the summons to surrender, but, after a brave resistance, they were obliged to yield; and Cromwell hastened on to Clonmel, where he had to encounter the most formidable resistance he experienced in his Irish campaigns. The garrison was commanded by Hugh Dubh O'Neill. The Bishop of Ross attempted to raise the siege, but was taken and hanged by Broghill, because he would not desire the defenders of Carrigadrohid to surrender. The first attack on Clonmel took place on the 9th of May, and O'Neill determined to resist with the energy of despair, and the full knowledge of the demon vengeance with which the Puritans repaid such deeds of valour. When the place was no longer tenable, he withdrew his troops under cover of darkness; and the English General found next morning that he had been outwitted, and that nothing remained for his vengeance but the unfortunate townspeople.

Pressing demands were now made by the Parliament for his return to England, where the royalists had also to be crushed and subdued; and after committing the command of his army to Ireton, he sailed from Youghal, on the 20th of May, leaving, as a legacy to Ireland, a name which was only repeated to be cursed, and an increase of miseries which already had seemed incapable of multiplication. In the meantime the Irish clergy held frequent conferences, and made every effort in their power to obtain peace for their unfortunate country. Ormonde became daily more and more distrusted; the people of Limerick and of Galway had both refused to receive him; and on the 6th of August the clergy met in synod at Jamestown, in the county Leitrim, and sent him a formal message, requesting his withdrawal from the kingdom, and asking for the appointment of some one in whom the people might have confidence. His pride was wounded, and he refused to retire until he should be compelled to do so; but the bishops published a declaration, denouncing his government, and threatening to impeach him before the King. They were yet to learn that the King, whom they served so faithfully, and in whom, despite all past disappointments, they confided so loyally, could be guilty of the greatest duplicity and the basest subterfuge.

Charles II. landed in Scotland on the 28th of June, 1650, and soon after signed the Covenant, and a declaration in which he stated the peace with Ireland to be null and void, adding, with equal untruthfulness and meanness, that "he was convinced in his conscience of the sinfulness and unlawfulness of it, and of allowing them [the Catholics] the liberty of the Popish religion; for which he did from his heart desire to be deeply humbled before the Lord." Ormonde declared, what was probably true, that the King had been obliged to make these statements, and that they meant nothing; but neither his protestations nor his diplomacy could save him from general contempt; and having appointed the Marquis of Clanrickarde to administer the Government of Ireland for the King, he left the country, accompanied by some of the leading royalists, and, after a stormy passage, arrived at St. Malo, in Brittany, early in the year 1651. The Irish again sacrificed their interests to their loyalty, and refused favourable terms offered to them by the Parliamentary party; they even attempted to mortgage the town of Galway, to obtain money for the royal cause, and an agreement was entered into with the Duke of Lorraine for this purpose; but the disasters of the battle of Worcester, and the triumphs of the republican faction, soon deprived them of every hope.

It will be remembered that Cromwell had passed by Limerick at a respectful distance; but the possession of that city was none the less coveted. Ireton now prepared to lay siege to it. To effect this, Coote made a feint of attacking Sligo; and when he had drawn off Clanrickarde's forces to oppose him, marched back hastily, and took Athlone. By securing this fortress he opened a road into Connaught; and Ireton, at the same time, forced the passage of the river at O'Briensbridge, and thus was enabled to invest Limerick. Lord Muskerry marched to its relief; but he was intercepted by Lord Broghill, and his men were routed with great slaughter. The castle at the salmon weir was first attacked; and the men who defended it were butchered in cold blood, although they had surrendered on a promise of quarter. At length treachery accomplished what valour might have prevented. The plague was raging in the city, and many tried to escape; but were either beaten back into the town, or killed on the spot by Ireton's troopers. The corporation and magistrates were in favour of a capitulation; but the gallant Governor, Hugh O'Neill, opposed it earnestly. Colonel Fennell, who had already betrayed the pass at Killaloe, completed his perfidy by seizing St. John's Gate and Tower, and admitting Ireton's men by night. On the following day the invader was able to dictate his own terms. 2,500 soldiers laid down their arms in St. Mary's Church, and marched out of the city, many dropping dead on road of the fearful pestilence. Twenty-four persons were exempted from quarter. Amongst the number were a Dominican prelate, Dr. Terence O'Brien, Bishop of Emly, and a Franciscan, Father Wolfe. Ireton had special vengeance for the former, who had long encouraged the people to fight for their country and their faith, and had refused a large bribe[489] which the Cromwellian General had offered him if he would leave the city. The ecclesiastics were soon condemned; but, ere the Bishop was dragged to the gibbet, he turned to the dark and cruel man who had sacrificed so many lives, and poured such torrents of blood over the land, summoning him, in stern and prophetic tones, to answer at God's judgment-seat for the evils he had done. The Bishop and his companion were martyred on the Eve of All Saints, October 31st, 1651. On the 26th of November Ireton was a corpse. He caught the plague eight days after he had been summoned to the tribunal of eternal justice; and he died raving wildly of the men whom he had murdered, and accusing everyone but himself of the crime he had committed.

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