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The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 4 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 2 out of 15

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for malecontents, he was forbidden to sell liquor by retail. One
proclamation announced that, if the property of any Protestant
should be injured by marauders, his loss should be made good at
the expense of his Popish neighbours. Another gave notice that,
if any Papist who had not been at least three months domiciled in
Dublin should be found there, he should be treated as a spy. Not
more than five Papists were to assemble in the capital or its
neighbourhood on any pretext. Without a protection from the
government no member of the Church of Rome was safe; and the
government would not grant a protection to any member of the
Church of Rome who had a son in the Irish army.72

In spite of all precautions and severities, however, the Celt
found many opportunities of taking a sly revenge. Houses and
barns were frequently burned; soldiers were frequently murdered;
and it was scarcely possible to obtain evidence against the
malefactors, who had with them the sympathies of the whole
population. On such occasions the government sometimes ventured
on acts which seemed better suited to a Turkish than to an
English administration. One of these acts became a favourite
theme of Jacobite pamphleteers, and was the subject of a serious
parliamentary inquiry at Westminster. Six musketeers were found
butchered only a few miles from Dublin. The inhabitants of the
village where the crime had been committed, men, women, and
children, were driven like sheep into the Castle, where the Privy
Council was sitting. The heart of one of the assassins, named
Gafney, failed him. He consented to be a witness, was examined by
the Board, acknowledged his guilt, and named some of his
accomplices. He was then removed in custody; but a priest
obtained access to him during a few minutes. What passed during
those few minutes appeared when he was a second time brought
before the Council. He had the effrontery to deny that he had
owned any thing or accused any body. His hearers, several of whom
had taken down his confession in writing, were enraged at his
impudence. The Lords justices broke out; "You are a rogue; You
are a villain; You shall be hanged; Where is the Provost Marshal?"
The Provost Marshal came. "Take that man," said Coningsby,
pointing to Gafney; "take that man, and hang him." There was no
gallows ready; but the carriage of a gun served the purpose; and
the prisoner was instantly tied up without a trial, without even
a written order for the execution; and this though the courts of
law were sitting at the distance of only a few hundred yards. The
English House of Commons, some years later, after a long
discussion, resolved, without a division, that the order for the
execution of Gafney was arbitrary and illegal, but that
Coningsby's fault was so much extenuated by the circumstances in
which he was placed that it was not a proper subject for

It was not only by the implacable hostility of the Irish that the
Saxon of the pale was at this time harassed. His allies caused
him almost as much annoyance as his helots. The help of troops
from abroad was indeed necessary to him; but it was dearly
bought. Even William, in whom the whole civil and military
authority was concentrated, had found it difficult to maintain
discipline in an army collected from many lands, and composed in
great part of mercenaries accustomed to live at free quarters.
The powers which had been united in him were now divided and
subdivided. The two Lords justices considered the civil
administration as their province, and left the army to the
management of Ginkell, who was General in Chief. Ginkell kept
excellent order among the auxiliaries from Holland, who were
under his more immediate command. But his authority over the
English and the Danes was less entire; and unfortunately their
pay was, during part of the winter, in arrear. They indemnified
themselves by excesses and exactions for the want of that which
was their due; and it was hardly possible to punish men with
severity for not choosing to starve with arms in their hands. At
length in the spring large supplies of money and stores arrived;
arrears were paid up; rations were plentiful; and a more rigid
discipline was enforced. But too many traces of the bad habits
which the soldiers had contracted were discernible till the close
of the war.74

In that part of Ireland, meanwhile, which still acknowledged
James as King, there could hardly be said to be any law, any
property, or any government. The Roman Catholics of Ulster and
Leinster had fled westward by tens of thousands, driving before
them a large part of the cattle which had escaped the havoc of
two terrible years. The influx of food into the Celtic region,
however, was far from keeping pace with the influx of consumers.
The necessaries of life were scarce. Conveniences to which every
plain farmer and burgess in England was accustomed could hardly
be procured by nobles and generals. No coin was to be seen except
lumps of base metal which were called crowns and shillings.
Nominal prices were enormously high. A quart of ale cost two and
sixpence, a quart of brandy three pounds. The only towns of any
note on the western coast were Limerick and Galway; and the
oppression which the shopkeepers of those towns underwent was
such that many of them stole away with the remains of their
stocks to the English territory, where a Papist, though he had to
endure much restraint and much humiliation, was allowed to put
his own price on his goods, and received that price in silver.
Those traders who remained within the unhappy region were ruined.
Every warehouse that contained any valuable property was broken
open by ruffians who pretended that they were commissioned to
procure stores for the public service; and the owner received, in
return for bales of cloth and hogsheads of sugar, some fragments
of old kettles and saucepans, which would not in London or Paris
have been taken by a beggar.

As soon as a merchant ship arrived in the bay of Galway or in the
Shannon, she was boarded by these robbers. The cargo was carried
away; and the proprietor was forced to content himself with such
a quantity of cowhides, of wool and of tallow as the gang which
had plundered him chose to give him. The consequence was that,
while foreign commodities were pouring fast into the harbours of
Londonderry, Carrickfergus, Dublin, Waterford and Cork, every
mariner avoided Limerick and Galway as nests of pirates.75

The distinction between the Irish foot soldier and the Irish
Rapparee had never been very strongly marked. It now disappeared.
Great part of the army was turned loose to live by marauding. An
incessant predatory war raged along the line which separated the
domain of William from that of James. Every day companies of
freebooters, sometimes wrapped in twisted straw which served the
purpose of armour, stole into the English territory, burned,
sacked, pillaged, and hastened back to their own ground. To guard
against these incursions was not easy; for the peasantry of the
plundered country had a strong fellow feeling with the
plunderers. To empty the granary, to set fire to the dwelling, to
drive away the cows, of a heretic was regarded by every squalid
inhabitant of a mud cabin as a good work. A troop engaged in such
a work might confidently expect to fall in, notwithstanding all
the proclamations of the Lords justices, with some friend who
would indicate the richest booty, the shortest road, and the
safest hiding place. The English complained that it was no easy
matter to catch a Rapparee. Sometimes, when he saw danger
approaching, he lay down in the long grass of the bog; and then
it was as difficult to find him as to find a hare sitting.
Sometimes he sprang into a stream, and lay there, like an otter,
with only his mouth and nostrils above the water. Nay, a whole
gang of banditti would, in the twinkling of an eye, transform
itself into a crowd of harmless labourers. Every man took his gun
to pieces, hid the lock in his clothes, stuck a cork in the
muzzle, stopped the touch hole with a quill, and threw the weapon
into the next pond. Nothing was to be seen but a train of poor
rustics who had not so much as a cudgel among them, and whose
humble look and crouching walk seemed to show that their spirit
was thoroughly broken to slavery. When the peril was over, when
the signal was given, every man flew to the place where he had
hid his arms; and soon the robbers were in full march towards
some Protestant mansion. One band penetrated to Clonmel, another
to the vicinity of Maryborough; a third made its den in a woody
islet of firm ground, surrounded by the vast bog of Allen,
harried the county of Wicklow, and alarmed even the suburbs of
Dublin. Such expeditions indeed were not always successful.
Sometimes the plunderers fell in with parties of militia or with
detachments from the English garrisons, in situations in which
disguise, flight and resistance were alike impossible. When this
happened every kerne who was taken was hanged, without any
ceremony, on the nearest tree.76

At the head quarters of the Irish army there was, during the
winter, no authority capable of exacting obedience even within a
circle of a mile. Tyrconnel was absent at the Court of France. He
had left the supreme government in the hands of a Council of
Regency composed of twelve persons. The nominal command of the
army he had confided to Berwick; but Berwick, though, as was
afterwards proved, a man of no common courage and capacity, was
young and inexperienced. His powers were unsuspected by the world
and by himself;77 and he submitted without reluctance to the
tutelage of a Council of War nominated by the Lord Lieutenant.
Neither the Council of Regency nor the Council of War was popular
at Limerick. The Irish complained that men who were not Irish had
been entrusted with a large share in the administration. The cry
was loudest against an officer named Thomas Maxwell. For it was
certain that he was a Scotchman; it was doubtful whether he was a
Roman Catholic; and he had not concealed the dislike which he
felt for that Celtic Parliament which had repealed the Act of
Settlement and passed the Act of Attainder.78 The discontent,
fomented by the arts of intriguers, among whom the cunning and
unprincipled Henry Luttrell seems to have been the most active,
soon broke forth into open rebellion. A great meeting was held.
Many officers of the army, some peers, some lawyers of high note
and some prelates of the Roman Catholic Church were present. It
was resolved that the government set up by the Lord Lieutenant
was unknown to the constitution. Ireland, it was said, could be
legally governed, in the absence of the King, only by a Lord
Lieutenant, by a Lord Deputy or by Lords Justices. The King was
absent. The Lord Lieutenant was absent. There was no Lord Deputy.
There were no Lords Justices. The Act by which Tyrconnel had
delegated his authority to a junto composed of his creatures was
a mere nullity. The nation was therefore left without any
legitimate chief, and might, without violating the allegiance due
to the Crown, make temporary provision for its own safety. A
deputation was sent to inform Berwick that he had assumed a power
to which he had no right, but that nevertheless the army and
people of Ireland would willingly acknowledge him as their head
if he would consent to govern by the advice of a council truly
Irish. Berwick indignantly expressed his wonder that military men
should presume to meet and deliberate without the permission of
their general. They answered that there was no general, and that,
if His Grace did not choose to undertake the administration on
the terms proposed, another leader would easily be found. Berwick
very reluctantly yielded, and continued to be a puppet in a new
set of hands.79

Those who had effected this revolution thought it prudent to send
a deputation to France for the purpose of vindicating their
proceedings. Of the deputation the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork
and the two Luttrells were members. In the ship which conveyed
them from Limerick to Brest they found a fellow passenger whose
presence was by no means agreeable to them, their enemy, Maxwell.
They suspected, and not without reason, that he was going, like
them, to Saint Germains, but on a very different errand. The
truth was that Berwick had sent Maxwell to watch their motions
and to traverse their designs. Henry Luttrell, the least
scrupulous of men, proposed to settle the matter at once by
tossing the Scotchman into the sea. But the Bishop, who was a man
of conscience, and Simon Luttrell, who was a man of honour,
objected to this expedient.80

Meanwhile at Limerick the supreme power was in abeyance. Berwick,
finding that he had no real authority, altogether neglected
business, and gave himself up to such pleasures as that dreary
place of banishment afforded. There was among the Irish chiefs no
man of sufficient weight and ability to control the rest.
Sarsfield for a time took the lead. But Sarsfield, though
eminently brave and active in the field, was little skilled in
the administration of war, and still less skilled in civil
business. Those who were most desirous to support his authority
were forced to own that his nature was too unsuspicious and
indulgent for a post in which it was hardly possible to be too
distrustful or too severe. He believed whatever was told him. He
signed whatever was set before him. The commissaries, encouraged
by his lenity, robbed and embezzled more shamelessly than ever.
They sallied forth daily, guarded by pikes and firelocks, to
seize, nominally for the public service, but really for
themselves, wool, linen, leather, tallow, domestic utensils,
instruments of husbandry, searched every pantry, every wardrobe,
every cellar, and even laid sacrilegious hands on the property of
priests and prelates.81

Early in the spring the government, if it is to be so called, of
which Berwick was the ostensible head, was dissolved by the
return of Tyrconnel. The Luttrells had, in the name of their
countrymen, implored James not to subject so loyal a people to so
odious and incapable a viceroy. Tyrconnel, they said, was old; he
was infirm; he needed much sleep; he knew nothing of war; he was
dilatory; he was partial; he was rapacious; he was distrusted and
hated by the whole nation. The Irish, deserted by him, had made a
gallant stand, and had compelled the victorious army of the
Prince of Orange to retreat. They hoped soon to take the field
again, thirty thousand strong; and they adjured their King to
send them some captain worthy to command such a force. Tyrconnel
and Maxwell, on the other hand, represented the delegates as
mutineers, demagogues, traitors, and pressed James to send Henry
Luttrell to keep Mountjoy company in the Bastille. James,
bewildered by these criminations and recriminations, hesitated
long, and at last, with characteristic wisdom, relieved himself
from trouble by giving all the quarrellers fair words and by
sending them all back to have their fight out in Ireland. Berwick
was at the same time recalled to France.82

Tyrconnel was received at Limerick, even by his enemies, with
decent respect. Much as they hated him, they could not question
the validity of his commission; and, though they still maintained
that they had been perfectly justified in annulling, during his
absence, the unconstitutional arrangements which he had made,
they acknowledged that, when he was present, he was their lawful
governor. He was not altogether unprovided with the means of
conciliating them. He brought many gracious messages and
promises, a patent of peerage for Sarsfield, some money which was
not of brass, and some clothing, which was even more acceptable
than money. The new garments were not indeed very fine. But even
the generals had long been out at elbows; and there were few of
the common men whose habiliments would have been thought
sufficient to dress a scarecrow in a more prosperous country.
Now, at length, for the first time in many months, every private
soldier could boast of a pair of breeches and a pair of brogues.
The Lord Lieutenant had also been authorised to announce that he
should soon be followed by several ships, laden with provisions
and military stores. This announcement was most welcome to the
troops, who had long been without bread, and who had nothing
stronger than water to drink.83

During some weeks the supplies were impatiently expected. At
last, Tyrconnel was forced to shut himself up; for, whenever he
appeared in public, the soldiers ran after him clamouring for
food. Even the beef and mutton, which, half raw, half burned,
without vegetables, without salt, had hitherto supported the
army, had become scarce; and the common men were on rations of
horseflesh when the promised sails were seen in the mouth of the

A distinguished French general, named Saint Ruth, was on board
with his staff. He brought a commission which appointed him
commander in chief of the Irish army. The commission did not
expressly declare that he was to be independent of the viceregal
authority; but he had been assured by James that Tyrconnel should
have secret instructions not to intermeddle in the conduct of the
war. Saint Ruth was assisted by another general officer named
D'Usson. The French ships brought some arms, some ammunition, and
a plentiful supply of corn and flour. The spirits of the Irish
rose; and the Te Deum was chaunted with fervent devotion in the
cathedral of Limerick.85

Tyrconnel had made no preparations for the approaching campaign.
But Saint Ruth, as soon as he had landed, exerted himself
strenuously to redeem the time which had been lost. He was a man
of courage, activity and resolution, but of a harsh and imperious
nature. In his own country he was celebrated as the most merciless
persecutor that had ever dragooned the Huguenots to mass. It was
asserted by English Whigs that he was known in France by the
nickname of the Hangman; that, at Rome, the very cardinals had
shown their abhorrence of his cruelty; and that even Queen
Christina, who had little right to be squeamish about bloodshed,
had turned away from him with loathing. He had recently held a
command in Savoy. The Irish regiments in the French service had
formed part of his army, and had behaved extremely well. It was
therefore supposed that he had a peculiar talent for managing
Irish troops. But there was a wide difference between the well
clad, well armed and well drilled Irish, with whom he was
familiar, and the ragged marauders whom be found swarming in the
alleys of Limerick. Accustomed to the splendour and the discipline
of French camps and garrisons, he was disgusted by finding that,
in the country to which he had been sent, a regiment of infantry
meant a mob of people as naked, as dirty and as disorderly as the
beggars, whom he had been accustomed to see on the Continent
besieging the door of a monastery or pursuing a diligence up him.
With ill concealed contempt, however, he addressed himself
vigorously to the task of disciplining these strange soldiers, and
was day and night in the saddle, galloping from post to post, from
Limerick to Athlone, from Athlone to the northern extremity of
Lough Rea, and from Lough Rea back to Limerick.86

It was indeed necessary that he should bestir himself; for, a few
days after his arrival, he learned that, on the other side of the
Pale, all was ready for action. The greater part of the English
force was collected, before the close of May, in the
neighbourhood of Mullingar. Ginkell commanded in chief. He had
under him the two best officers, after Marlborough, of whom our
island could then boast, Talmash and Mackay. The Marquess of
Ruvigny, the hereditary chief of the refugees, and elder brother
of the brave Caillemot, who had fallen at the Boyne, had joined
the army with the rank of major general. The Lord Justice
Coningsby, though not by profession a soldier, came down from
Dublin, to animate the zeal of the troops. The appearance of the
camp showed that the money voted by the English Parliament had
not been spared. The uniforms were new; the ranks were one blaze
of scarlet; and the train of artillery was such as had never
before been seen in Ireland.87

On the sixth of June Ginkell moved his head quarters from
Mullingar. On the seventh he reached Ballymore. At Ballymore, on
a peninsula almost surrounded by something between a swamp and a
lake, stood an ancient fortress, which had recently been
fortified under Sarsfield's direction, and which was defended by
above a thousand men. The English guns were instantly planted. In
a few hours the besiegers had the satisfaction of seeing the
besieged running like rabbits from one shelter to another. The
governor, who had at first held high language, begged piteously
for quarter, and obtained it. The whole garrison were marched off
to Dublin. Only eight of the conquerors had fallen.88

Ginkell passed some days in reconstructing the defences of
Ballymore. This work had scarcely been performed when he was
joined by the Danish auxiliaries under the command of the Duke of
Wirtemberg. The whole army then moved westward, and, on the
nineteenth of June, appeared before the walls of Athlone.89

Athlone was perhaps, in a military point of view, the most
important place in the island. Rosen, who understood war well,
had always maintained that it was there that the Irishry would,
with most advantage, make a stand against the Englishry.90 The
town, which was surrounded by ramparts of earth, lay partly in
Leinster and partly in Connaught. The English quarter, which was
in Leinster, had once consisted of new and handsome houses, but
had been burned by the Irish some months before, and now lay in
heaps of ruin. The Celtic quarter, which was in Connaught, was
old and meanly built.91 The Shannon, which is the boundary of the
two provinces, rushed through Athlone in a deep and rapid stream,
and turned two large mills which rose on the arches of a stone
bridge. Above the bridge, on the Connaught side, a castle, built,
it was said, by King John, towered to the height of seventy feet,
and extended two hundred feet along the river. Fifty or sixty
yards below the bridge was a narrow ford.92

During the night of the nineteenth the English placed their
cannon. On the morning of the twentieth the firing began. At five
in the afternoon an assault was made. A brave French refugee with
a grenade in his hand was the first to climb the breach, and
fell, cheering his countrymen to the onset with his latest
breath. Such were the gallant spirits which the bigotry of Lewis
had sent to recruit, in the time of his utmost need, the armies
of his deadliest enemies. The example was not lost. The grenades
fell thick. The assailants mounted by hundreds. The Irish gave
way and ran towards the bridge. There the press was so great that
some of the fugitives were crushed to death in the narrow
passage, and others were forced over the parapets into the waters
which roared among the mill wheels below. In a few hours Ginkell
had made himself master of the English quarter of Athlone; and
this success had cost him only twenty men killed and forty

But his work was only begun. Between him and the Irish town the
Shannon ran fiercely. The bridge was so narrow that a few
resolute men might keep it against an army. The mills which stood
on it were strongly guarded; and it was commanded by the guns of
the castle. That part of the Connaught shore where the river was
fordable was defended by works, which the Lord Lieutenant had, in
spite of the murmurs of a powerful party, forced Saint Ruth to
entrust to the care of Maxwell. Maxwell had come back from France
a more unpopular man than he had been when he went thither. It
was rumoured that he had, at Versailles, spoken opprobriously of
the Irish nation; and he had, on this account, been, only a few
days before, publicly affronted by Sarsfield.94 On the twenty-
first of June the English were busied in flinging up batteries
along the Leinster bank. On the twenty-second, soon after dawn,
the cannonade began. The firing continued all that day and all
the following night. When morning broke again, one whole side of
the castle had been beaten down; the thatched lanes of the
Celtic town lay in ashes; and one of the mills had been burned
with sixty soldiers who defended it.95

Still however the Irish defended the bridge resolutely. During
several days there was sharp fighting hand to hand in the strait
passage. The assailants gained ground, but gained it inch by
inch. The courage of the garrison was sustained by the hope of
speedy succour. Saint Ruth had at length completed his
preparations; and the tidings that Athlone was in danger had
induced him to take the field in haste at the head of an army,
superior in number, though inferior in more important elements of
military strength, to the army of Ginkell. The French general
seems to have thought that the bridge and the ford might easily
be defended, till the autumnal rains and the pestilence which
ordinarily accompanied them should compel the enemy to retire. He
therefore contented himself with sending successive detachments
to reinforce the garrison. The immediate conduct of the defence
he entrusted to his second in command, D'Usson, and fixed his own
head quarters two or three miles from the town. He expressed his
astonishment that so experienced a commander as Ginkell should
persist in a hopeless enterprise. "His master ought to hang him
for trying to take Athlone; and mine ought to hang me if I lose

Saint Ruth, however, was by no means at ease. He had found, to
his great mortification, that he had not the full authority which
the promises made to him at Saint Germains had entitled him to
expect. The Lord Lieutenant was in the camp. His bodily and
mental infirmities had perceptibly increased within the last few
weeks. The slow and uncertain step with which he, who had once
been renowned for vigour and agility, now tottered from his easy
chair to his couch, was no unapt type of the sluggish and
wavering movement of that mind which had once pursued its objects
with a vehemence restrained neither by fear nor by pity, neither
by conscience nor by shame. Yet, with impaired strength, both
physical and intellectual, the broken old man clung
pertinaciously to power. If he had received private orders not to
meddle with the conduct of the war, he disregarded them. He
assumed all the authority of a sovereign, showed himself
ostentatiously to the troops as their supreme chief, and affected
to treat Saint Ruth as a lieutenant. Soon the interference of the
Viceroy excited the vehement indignation of that powerful party
in the army which had long hated him. Many officers signed an
instrument by which they declared that they did not consider him
as entitled to their obedience in the field. Some of them offered
him gross personal insults. He was told to his face that, if he
persisted in remaining where he was not wanted, the ropes of his
pavilion should be cut. He, on the other hand, sent his
emissaries to all the camp fires, and tried to make a party among
the common soldiers against the French general.97

The only thing in which Tyrconnel and Saint Ruth agreed was in
dreading and disliking Sarsfield. Not only was he popular with
the great body of his countrymen; he was also surrounded by a
knot of retainers whose devotion to him resembled the devotion of
the Ismailite murderers to the Old Man of the Mountain. It was
known that one of these fanatics, a colonel, had used language
which, in the mouth of an officer so high in rank, might well
cause uneasiness. "The King," this man had said, "is nothing to
me. I obey Sarsfield. Let Sarsfield tell me to kill any man in
the whole army; and I will do it." Sarsfield was, indeed, too
honourable a gentleman to abuse his immense power over the minds
of his worshippers. But the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief
might not unnaturally be disturbed by the thought that
Sarsfield's honour was their only guarantee against mutiny and
assassination. The consequence was that, at the crisis of the
fate of Ireland, the services of the first of Irish soldiers were
not used, or were used with jealous caution, and that, if he
ventured to offer a suggestion, it was received with a sneer or a

A great and unexpected disaster put an end to these disputes. On
the thirtieth of June Ginkell called a council of war. Forage
began to be scarce; and it was absolutely necessary that the
besiegers should either force their way across the river or
retreat. The difficulty of effecting a passage over the shattered
remains of the bridge seemed almost insuperable. It was proposed
to try the ford. The Duke of Wirtemberg, Talmash, and Ruvigny
gave their voices in favour of this plan; and Ginkell, with some
misgivings, consented.99

It was determined that the attempt should be made that very
afternoon. The Irish, fancying that the English were about to
retreat, kept guard carelessly. Part of the garrison was idling,
part dosing. D'Usson was at table. Saint Ruth was in his tent,
writing a letter to his master filled with charges against
Tyrconnel. Meanwhile, fifteen hundred grenadiers; each wearing in
his hat a green bough, were mustered on the Leinster bank of the
Shannon. Many of them doubtless remembered that on that day year
they had, at the command of King William, put green boughs in
their hats on the banks of the Boyne. Guineas had been liberally
scattered among these picked men; but their alacrity was such as
gold cannot purchase. Six battalions were in readiness to support
the attack. Mackay commanded. He did not approve of the plan; but
he executed it as zealously and energetically as if he had
himself been the author of it. The Duke of Wirtemberg, Talmash,
and several other gallant officers, to whom no part in the
enterprise had been assigned, insisted on serving that day as
private volunteers; and their appearance in the ranks excited the
fiercest enthusiasm among the soldiers.

It was six o'clock. A peal from the steeple of the church gave
the signal. Prince George of Hesse Darmstadt, and Gustavus
Hamilton, the brave chief of the Enniskilleners, descended first
into the Shannon. Then the grenadiers lifted the Duke of
Wirtemberg on their shoulders, and, with a great shout, plunged
twenty abreast up to their cravats in water. The stream ran deep
and strong; but in a few minutes the head of the column reached
dry land. Talmash was the fifth man that set foot on the
Connaught shore. The Irish, taken unprepared, fired one confused
volley and fled, leaving their commander, Maxwell, a prisoner.
The conquerors clambered up the bank over the remains of walls
shattered by a cannonade of ten days. Mackay heard his men
cursing and swearing as they stumbled among the rubbish. "My
lads," cried the stout old Puritan in the midst of the uproar,
"you are brave fellows; but do not swear. We have more reason to
thank God for the goodness which He has shown us this day than to
take His name in vain." The victory was complete. Planks were
placed on the broken arches of the bridge and pontoons laid on
the river, without any opposition on the part of the terrified
garrison. With the loss of twelve men killed and about thirty
wounded the English had, in a few minutes, forced their way into

At the first alarm D'Usson hastened towards the river; but he was
met, swept away, trampled down, and almost killed by the torrent
of fugitives. He was carried to the camp in such a state that it
was necessary to bleed him. "Taken!" cried Saint Ruth, in dismay.
"It cannot be. A town taken, and I close by with an army to
relieve it!" Cruelly mortified, he struck his tents under cover
of the night, and retreated in the direction of Galway. At dawn
the English saw far off, from the top of King John's ruined
castle, the Irish army moving through the dreary region which
separates the Shannon from the Suck. Before noon the rearguard
had disappeared.101

Even before the loss of Athlone the Celtic camp had been
distracted by factions. It may easily be supposed, therefore,
that, after so great a disaster, nothing was to be heard but
crimination and recrimination. The enemies of the Lord Lieutenant
were more clamorous than ever. He and his creatures had brought
the kingdom to the verge of perdition. He would meddle with what
he did not understand. He would overrule the plans of men who
were real soldiers. He would entrust the most important of all
posts to his tool, his spy, the wretched Maxwell, not a born
Irishman, not a sincere Catholic, at best a blunderer, and too
probably a traitor. Maxwell, it was affirmed, had left his men
unprovided with ammunition. When they had applied to him for
powder and ball, he had asked whether they wanted to shoot larks.
Just before the attack he had told them to go to their supper and
to take their rest, for that nothing more would be done that day.
When he had delivered himself up a prisoner, he had uttered some
words which seemed to indicate a previous understanding with the
conquerors. The Lord Lieutenant's few friends told a very
different story. According to them, Tyrconnel and Maxwell had
suggested precautions which would have made a surprise
impossible. The French General, impatient of all interference,
had omitted to take those precautions. Maxwell had been rudely
told that, if he was afraid, he had better resign his command. He
had done his duty bravely. He had stood while his men fled. He
had consequently fallen into the hands of the enemy; and he was
now, in his absence, slandered by those to whom his captivity was
justly imputable.102 On which side the truth lay it is not easy,
at this distance of time, to pronounce. The cry against Tyrconnel
was, at the moment, so loud, that he gave way and sullenly
retired to Limerick. D'Usson, who had not yet recovered from the
hurts inflicted by his own runaway troops, repaired to Galway.103

Saint Ruth, now left in undisputed possession of the supreme
command, was bent on trying the chances of a battle. Most of the
Irish officers, with Sarsfield at their head, were of a very
different mind. It was, they said, not to be dissembled that, in
discipline, the army of Ginkell was far superior to theirs. The
wise course, therefore, evidently was to carry on the war in such
a manner that the difference between the disciplined and the
undisciplined soldier might be as small as possible. It was well
known that raw recruits often played their part well in a foray,
in a street fight or in the defence of a rampart; but that, on a
pitched field, they had little chance against veterans. "Let most
of our foot be collected behind the walls of Limerick and Galway.
Let the rest, together with our horse, get in the rear of the
enemy, and cut off his supplies. If he advances into Connaught,
let us overrun Leinster. If he sits down before Galway, which may
well be defended, let us make a push for Dublin, which is
altogether defenceless."104 Saint Ruth might, perhaps, have
thought this advice good, if his judgment had not been biassed by
his passions. But he was smarting from the pain of a humiliating
defeat. In sight of his tent, the English had passed a rapid
river, and had stormed a strong town. He could not but feel that,
though others might have been to blame, he was not himself
blameless. He had, to say the least, taken things too easily.
Lewis, accustomed to be served during many years by commanders
who were not in the habit of leaving to chance any thing which
could he made secure by wisdom, would hardly think it a
sufficient excuse that his general had not expected the enemy to
make so bold and sudden an attack. The Lord Lieutenant would, of
course, represent what had passed in the most unfavourable
manner; and whatever the Lord Lieutenant said James would echo. A
sharp reprimand, a letter of recall, might be expected. To return
to Versailles a culprit; to approach the great King in an agony
of distress; to see him shrug his shoulders, knit his brow and
turn his back; to be sent, far from courts and camps, to languish
at some dull country seat; this was too much to be borne; and yet
this might well be apprehended. There was one escape; to fight,
and to conquer or to perish.

In such a temper Saint Ruth pitched his camp about thirty miles
from Athlone on the road to Galway, near the ruined castle of
Aghrim, and determined to await the approach of the English army.

His whole deportment was changed. He had hitherto treated the
Irish soldiers with contemptuous severity. But now that he had
resolved to stake life and fame on the valour of the despised
race, he became another man. During the few days which remained
to him he exerted himself to win by indulgence and caresses the
hearts of all who were under his command.105 He, at the same
time, administered to his troops moral stimulants of the most
potent kind. He was a zealous Roman Catholic; and it is probable
that the severity with which he had treated the Protestants of
his own country ought to be partly ascribed to the hatred which
he felt for their doctrines. He now tried to give to the war the
character of a crusade. The clergy were the agents whom he
employed to sustain the courage of his soldiers. The whole camp
was in a ferment with religious excitement. In every regiment
priests were praying, preaching, shriving, holding up the host
and the cup. While the soldiers swore on the sacramental bread
not to abandon their colours, the General addressed to the
officers an appeal which might have moved the most languid and
effeminate natures to heroic exertion. They were fighting, he
said, for their religion, their liberty and their honour. Unhappy
events, too widely celebrated, had brought a reproach on the
national character. Irish soldiership was every where mentioned
with a sneer. If they wished to retrieve the fame of their
country, this was the time and this the place.106

The spot on which he had determined to bring the fate of Ireland
to issue seems to have been chosen with great judgment. His army
was drawn up on the slope of a hill, which was almost surrounded
by red bog. In front, near the edge of the morass, were some
fences out of which a breastwork was without difficulty

On the eleventh of July, Ginkell, having repaired the
fortifications of Athlone and left a garrison there, fixed his
headquarters at Ballinasloe, about four miles from Aghrim, and
rode forward to take a view of the Irish position. On his return
he gave orders that ammunition should be served out, that every
musket and bayonet should be got ready for action, and that early
on the morrow every man should be under arms without beat of
drum. Two regiments were to remain in charge of the camp; the
rest, unincumbered by baggage, were to march against the enemy.

Soon after six, the next morning, the English were on the way to
Aghrim. But some delay was occasioned by a thick fog which hung
till noon over the moist valley of the Suck; a further delay was
caused by the necessity of dislodging the Irish from some
outposts; and the afternoon was far advanced when the two armies
at length confronted each other with nothing but the bog and the
breastwork between them. The English and their allies were under
twenty thousand; the Irish above twenty-five thousand.

Ginkell held a short consultation with his principal officers.
Should he attack instantly, or wait till the next morning? Mackay
was for attacking instantly; and his opinion prevailed. At five
the battle began. The English foot, in such order as they could
keep on treacherous and uneven ground, made their way, sinking
deep in mud at every step, to the Irish works. But those works
were defended with a resolution such as extorted some words of
ungracious eulogy even from men who entertained the strongest
prejudices against the Celtic race.107 Again and again the
assailants were driven back. Again and again they returned to the
struggle. Once they were broken, and chased across the morass;
but Talmash rallied them, and forced the pursuers to retire. The
fight had lasted two hours; the evening was closing in; and still
the advantage was on the side of the Irish. Ginkell began to
meditate a retreat. The hopes of Saint Ruth rose high. "The day
is ours, my boys," he cried, waving his hat in the air. "We will
drive them before us to the walls of Dublin." But fortune was
already on the turn. Mackay and Ruvigny, with the English and
Huguenot cavalry, had succeeded in passing the bog at a place
where two horsemen could scarcely ride abreast. Saint Ruth at
first laughed when he saw the Blues, in single file, struggling
through the morass under a fire which every moment laid some
gallant hat and feather on the earth. "What do they mean?" he
asked; and then he swore that it was pity to see such fine
fellows rushing to certain destruction. "Let them cross,
however;" he said. "The more they are, the more we shall kill."
But soon he saw them laying hurdles on the quagmire. A broader
and safer path was formed; squadron after squadron reached firm
ground: the flank of the Irish army was speedily turned. The
French general was hastening to the rescue when a cannon ball
carried off his head. Those who were about him thought that it
would be dangerous to make his fate known. His corpse was wrapped
in a cloak, carried from the field, and laid, with all secresy,
in the sacred ground among the ruins of the ancient monastery of
Loughrea. Till the fight was over neither army was aware that he
was no more. To conceal his death from the private soldiers might
perhaps have been prudent. To conceal it from his lieutenants was
madness. The crisis of the battle had arrived; and there was none
to give direction. Sarsfield was in command of the reserve. But
he had been strictly enjoined by Saint Ruth not to stir without
orders; and no orders came. Mackay and Ruvigny with their horse
charged the Irish in flank. Talmash and his foot returned to the
attack in front with dogged determination. The breastwork was
carried. The Irish, still fighting, retreated from inclosure to
inclosure. But, as inclosure after inclosure was forced, their
efforts became fainter and fainter. At length they broke and
fled. Then followed a horrible carnage. The conquerors were in a
savage mood. For a report had been spread among them that, during
the early part of the battle, some English captives who had been
admitted to quarter had been put to the sword. Only four hundred
prisoners were taken. The number of the slain was, in proportion
to the number engaged, greater than in any other battle of that
age. But for the coming on of a moonless night, made darker by a
misty rain, scarcely a man would have escaped. The obscurity
enabled Sarsfield, with a few squadrons which still remained
unbroken, to cover the retreat. Of the conquerors six hundred
were killed, and about a thousand wounded.

The English slept that night on the field of battle. On the
following day they buried their companions in arms, and then
marched westward. The vanquished were left unburied, a strange
and ghastly spectacle. Four thousand Irish corpses were counted
on the field of battle. A hundred and fifty lay in one small
inclosure, a hundred and twenty in another. But the slaughter had
not been confined to the field of battle. One who was there tells
us that, from the top of the hill on which the Celtic camp had
been pitched, he saw the country, to the distance of near four
miles, white with the naked bodies of the slain. The plain
looked, he said, like an immense pasture covered by flocks of
sheep. As usual, different estimates were formed even by
eyewitnesses. But it seems probable that the number of the Irish
who fell was not less than seven thousand. Soon a multitude of
dogs came to feast on the carnage. These beasts became so fierce,
and acquired such a taste for human flesh, that it was long
dangerous for men to travel this road otherwise than in

The beaten army had now lost all the appearance of an army, and
resembled a rabble crowding home from a fair after a faction
fight. One great stream of fugitives ran towards Galway, another
towards Limerick. The roads to both cities were covered with
weapons which had been flung away. Ginkell offered sixpence for
every musket. In a short time so many waggon loads were collected
that he reduced the price to twopence; and still great numbers of
muskets came in.109

The conquerors marched first against Galway. D'Usson was there,
and had under him seven regiments, thinned by the slaughter of
Aghrim and utterly disorganized and disheartened. The last hope
of the garrison and of the Roman Catholic inhabitants was that
Baldearg O'Donnel, the promised deliverer of their race, would
come to the rescue. But Baldearg O'Donnel was not duped by the
superstitious veneration of which he was the object. While there
remained any doubt about the issue of the conflict between the
Englishry and the Irishry, he had stood aloof. On the day of the
battle he had remained at a safe distance with his tumultuary
army; and, as soon as he had learned that his countrymen had been
put to rout, he fled, plundering and burning all the way, to the
mountains of Mayo. Thence he sent to Ginkell offers of submission
and service. Ginkell gladly seized the opportunity of breaking up
a formidable band of marauders, and of turning to good account
the influence which the name of a Celtic dynasty still exercised
over the Celtic race. The negotiation however was not without
difficulties. The wandering adventurer at first demanded nothing
less than an earldom. After some haggling he consented to sell
the love of a whole people, and his pretensions to regal dignity,
for a pension of five hundred pounds a year. Yet the spell which
bound his followers to hire was not altogether broken. Some
enthusiasts from Ulster were willing to fight under the O'Donnel
against their own language and their own religion. With a small
body of these devoted adherents, he joined a division of the
English army, and on several occasions did useful service to

When it was known that no succour was to be expected from the
hero whose advent had been foretold by so many seers, the Irish
who were shut up in Galway lost all heart. D'Usson had returned a
stout answer to the first summons of the besiegers; but he soon
saw that resistance was impossible, and made haste to capitulate.
The garrison was suffered to retire to Limerick with the honours
of war. A full amnesty for past offences was granted to the
citizens; and it was stipulated that, within the walls, the
Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to perform in private
the rites of their religion. On these terms the gates were thrown
open. Ginkell was received with profound respect by the Mayor and
Aldermen, and was complimented in a set speech by the Recorder.
D'Usson, with about two thousand three hundred men, marched
unmolested to Limerick.111

At Limerick, the last asylum of the vanquished race, the
authority of Tyrconnel was supreme. There was now no general who
could pretend that his commission made him independent of the
Lord Lieutenant; nor was the Lord Lieutenant now so unpopular as
he had been a fortnight earlier. Since the battle there had been
a reflux of public feeling. No part of that great disaster could
be imputed to the Viceroy. His opinion indeed had been against
trying the chances of a pitched field, and he could with some
plausibility assert that the neglect of his counsels had caused
the ruin of Ireland.112

He made some preparations for defending Limerick, repaired the
fortifications, and sent out parties to bring in provisions. The
country, many miles round, was swept bare by these detachments,
and a considerable quantity of cattle and fodder was collected
within the walls. There was also a large stock of biscuit
imported from France. The infantry assembled at Limerick were
about fifteen thousand men. The Irish horse and dragoons, three
or four thousand in number, were encamped on the Clare side of
the Shannon. The communication between their camp and the city
was maintained by means of a bridge called the Thomond Bridge,
which was protected by a fort. These means of defence were not
contemptible. But the fall of Athlone and the slaughter of
Aghrim had broken the spirit of the army. A small party, at the
head of which were Sarsfield and a brave Scotch officer named
Wauchop, cherished a hope that the triumphant progress of Ginkell
might be stopped by those walls from which William had, in the
preceding year, been forced to retreat. But many of the Irish
chiefs loudly declared that it was time to think of capitulating.
Henry Luttrell, always fond of dark and crooked politics, opened
a secret negotiation with the English. One of his letters was
intercepted; and he was put under arrest; but many who blamed his
perfidy agreed with him in thinking that it was idle to prolong
the contest. Tyrconnel himself was convinced that all was lost.
His only hope was that he might be able to prolong the struggle
till he could receive from Saint Germains permission to treat. He
wrote to request that permission, and prevailed, with some
difficulty, on his desponding countrymen to bind themselves by an
oath not to capitulate till an answer from James should

A few days after the oath had been administered, Tyrconnel was no
more. On the eleventh of August he dined with D'Usson. The party
was gay. The Lord Lieutenant seemed to have thrown off the load
which had bowed down his body and mind; he drank; he jested; he
was again the Dick Talbot who had diced and revelled with
Grammont. Soon after he had risen from table, an apoplectic
stroke deprived him of speech and sensation. On the fourteenth he
breathed his last. The wasted remains of that form which had once
been a model for statuaries were laid under the pavement of the
Cathedral; but no inscription, no tradition, preserves the memory
of the spot.114

As soon as the Lord Lieutenant was no more, Plowden, who had
superintended the Irish finances while there were any Irish
finances to superintend, produced a commission under the great
seal of James. This commission appointed Plowden himself, Fitton
and Nagle, Lords justices in the event of Tyrconnel's death.
There was much murmuring when the names were made known. For both
Plowden and Fitton were Saxons. The commission, however, proved
to be a mere nullity. For it was accompanied by instructions
which forbade the Lords justices to interfere in the conduct of
the war; and, within the narrow space to which the dominions of
James were now reduced, war was the only business. The government
was, therefore, really in the hands of D'Usson and Sarsfield.115

On the day on which Tyrconnel died, the advanced guard of the
English army came within sight of Limerick. Ginkell encamped on
the same ground which William had occupied twelve months before.
The batteries, on which were planted guns and bombs, very
different from those which William had been forced to use, played
day and night; and soon roofs were blazing and walls crashing in
every corner of the city. Whole streets were reduced to ashes.
Meanwhile several English ships of war came up the Shannon and
anchored about a mile below the city.116

Still the place held out; the garrison was, in numerical
strength, little inferior to the besieging army; and it seemed
not impossible that the defence might be prolonged till the
equinoctial rains should a second time compel the English to
retire. Ginkell determined on striking a bold stroke. No point in
the whole circle of the fortifications was more important, and no
point seemed to be more secure, than the Thomond Bridge, which
joined the city to the camp of the Irish horse on the Clare bank
of the Shannon. The Dutch General's plan was to separate the
infantry within the ramparts from the cavalry without; and this
plan he executed with great skill, vigour and success. He laid a
bridge of tin boats on the river, crossed it with a strong body
of troops, drove before him in confusion fifteen hundred dragoons
who made a faint show of resistance, and marched towards the
quarters of the Irish horse. The Irish horse sustained but ill on
this day the reputation which they had gained at the Boyne.
Indeed, that reputation had been purchased by the almost entire
destruction of the best regiments. Recruits had been without much
difficulty found. But the loss of fifteen hundred excellent
soldiers was not to be repaired. The camp was abandoned without a
blow. Some of the cavalry fled into the city. The rest, driving
before them as many cattle as could be collected in that moment
of panic, retired to the hills. Much beef, brandy and harness was
found in the magazines; and the marshy plain of the Shannon was
covered with firelocks and grenades which the fugitives had
thrown away.117

The conquerors returned in triumph to their camp. But Ginkell was
not content with the advantage which he had gained. He was bent
on cutting off all communication between Limerick and the county
of Clare. In a few days, therefore, he again crossed the river at
the head of several regiments, and attacked the fort which
protected the Thomond Bridge. In a short time the fort was
stormed. The soldiers who had garrisoned it fled in confusion to
the city. The Town Major, a French officer, who commanded at the
Thomond Gate, afraid that the pursuers would enter with the
fugitives, ordered that part of the bridge which was nearest to
the city to be drawn up. Many of the Irish went headlong into the
stream and perished there. Others cried for quarter, and held up
handkerchiefs in token of submission. But the conquerors were mad
with rage; their cruelty could not be immediately restrained; and
no prisoners were made till the heaps of corpses rose above the
parapets. The garrison of the fort had consisted of about eight
hundred men. Of these only a hundred and twenty escaped into

This disaster seemed likely to produce a general mutiny in the
besieged city. The Irish clamoured for the blood of the Town
Major who had ordered the bridge to be drawn up in the face of
their flying countrymen. His superiors were forced to promise
that he should be brought before a court martial. Happily for
him, he had received a mortal wound, in the act of closing the
Thomond Gate, and was saved by a soldier's death from the fury of
the multitude.119 The cry for capitulation became so loud and
importunate that the generals could not resist it. D'Usson
informed his government that the fight at the bridge had so
effectually cowed the spirit of the garrison that it was
impossible to continue the struggle.120 Some exception may
perhaps be taken to the evidence of D'Usson; for undoubtedly he,
like every Frenchman who had held any command in the Irish army,
was weary of his banishment, and impatient to see Paris again.
But it is certain that even Sarsfield had lost heart. Up to this
time his voice had been for stubborn resistance. He was now not
only willing, but impatient to treat.121 It seemed to him that
the city was doomed. There was no hope of succour, domestic or
foreign. In every part of Ireland the Saxons had set their feet
on the necks of the natives. Sligo had fallen. Even those wild
islands which intercept the huge waves of the Atlantic from the
bay of Galway had acknowledged the authority of William. The men
of Kerry, reputed the fiercest and most ungovernable part of the
aboriginal population, had held out long, but had at length been
routed, and chased to their woods and mountains.122 A French
fleet, if a French fleet were now to arrive on the coast of
Munster, would find the mouth of the Shannon guarded by English
men of war. The stock of provisions within Limerick was already
running low. If the siege were prolonged, the town would, in all
human probability, be reduced either by force or by blockade.
And, if Ginkell should enter through the breach, or should be
implored by a multitude perishing with hunger to dictate his own
terms, what could be expected but a tyranny more inexorably
severe than that of Cromwell? Would it not then be wise to try
what conditions could be obtained while the victors had still
something to fear from the rage and despair of the vanquished;
while the last Irish army could still make some show of
resistance behind the walls of the last Irish fortress?

On the evening of the day which followed the fight at the Thomond
Gate, the drums of Limerick beat a parley; and Wauchop, from one
of the towers, hailed the besiegers, and requested Ruvigny to
grant Sarsfield an interview. The brave Frenchman who was an
exile on account of his attachment to one religion, and the brave
Irishman who was about to become an exile on account of his
attachment to another, met and conferred, doubtless with mutual
sympathy and respect.123 Ginkell, to whom Ruvigny reported what
had passed, willingly consented to an armistice. For, constant as
his success had been, it had not made him secure. The chances
were greatly on his side. Yet it was possible that an attempt to
storm the city might fail, as a similar attempt had failed twelve
months before. If the siege should be turned into a blockade, it
was probable that the pestilence which had been fatal to the army
of Schomberg, which had compelled William to retreat, and which
had all but prevailed even against the genius and energy of
Marlborough, might soon avenge the carnage of Aghrim. The rains
had lately been heavy. The whole plain might shortly be an
immense pool of stagnant water. It might be necessary to move the
troops to a healthier situation than the bank of the Shannon, and
to provide for them a warmer shelter than that of tents. The
enemy would be safe till the spring. In the spring a French army
might land in Ireland; the natives might again rise in arms from
Donegal to Kerry; and the war, which was now all but
extinguished, might blaze forth fiercer than ever.

A negotiation was therefore opened with a sincere desire on both
sides to put an end to the contest. The chiefs of the Irish army
held several consultations at which some Roman Catholic prelates
and some eminent lawyers were invited to assist. A preliminary
question, which perplexed tender consciences, was submitted by
the Bishops. The late Lord Lieutenant had persuaded the officers
of the garrison to swear that they would not surrender Limerick
till they should receive an answer to the letter in which their
situation had been explained to James. The Bishops thought that
the oath was no longer binding. It had been taken at a time when
the communications with France were open, and in the full belief
that the answer of James would arrive within three weeks. More
than twice that time had elapsed. Every avenue leading to the
city was strictly guarded by the enemy. His Majesty's faithful
subjects, by holding out till it had become impossible for him to
signify his pleasure to them, had acted up to the spirit of their

The next question was what terms should be demanded. A paper,
containing propositions which statesmen of our age will think
reasonable, but which to the most humane and liberal English
Protestants of the seventeenth century appeared extravagant, was
sent to the camp of the besiegers. What was asked was that all
offences should be covered with oblivion, that perfect freedom of
worship should be allowed to the native population, that every
parish should have its priest, and that Irish Roman Catholics
should be capable of holding all offices, civil and military, and
of enjoying all municipal privileges.125

Ginkell knew little of the laws and feelings of the English; but
he had about him persons who were competent to direct him. They
had a week before prevented him from breaking a Rapparee on the
wheel; and they now suggested an answer to the propositions of
the enemy. "I am a stranger here," said Ginkell; "I am ignorant
of the constitution of these kingdoms; but I am assured that what
you ask is inconsistent with that constitution; and therefore I
cannot with honour consent." He immediately ordered a new battery
to be thrown up, and guns and mortars to be planted on it. But
his preparations were speedily interrupted by another message
from the city. The Irish begged that, since he could not grant
what they had demanded, he would tell them what he was willing to
grant. He called his advisers round him, and, after some
consultation, sent back a paper containing the heads of a treaty,
such as he had reason to believe that the government which he
served would approve. What he offered was indeed much less than
what the Irish desired, but was quite as much as, when they
considered their situation and the temper of the English nation,
they could expect. They speedily notified their assent. It was
agreed that there should be a cessation of arms, not only by
land, but in the ports and bays of Munster, and that a fleet of
French transports should be suffered to come up the Shannon in
peace and to depart in peace. The signing of the treaty was
deferred till the Lords justices, who represented William at
Dublin, should arrive at Ginkell's quarters. But there was during
some days a relaxation of military vigilance on both sides.
Prisoners were set at liberty. The outposts of the two armies
chatted and messed together. The English officers rambled into
the town. The Irish officers dined in the camp. Anecdotes of what
passed at the friendly meetings of these men, who had so lately
been mortal enemies, were widely circulated. One story, in
particular, was repeated in every part of Europe. "Has not this
last campaign," said Sarsfield to some English officers, "raised
your opinion of Irish soldiers?" "To tell you the truth,"
answered an Englishman, "we think of them much as we always did."
"However meanly you may think of us," replied Sarsfield, "change
Kings with us, and we will willingly try our luck with you
again." He was doubtless thinking of the day on which he had seen
the two Sovereigns at the head of two great armies, William
foremost in the charge, and James foremost in the flight.126

On the first of October, Coningsby and Porter arrived at the
English headquarters. On the second the articles of capitulation
were discussed at great length and definitely settled. On the
third they were signed. They were divided into two parts, a
military treaty and a civil treaty. The former was subscribed
only by the generals on both sides. The Lords justices set their
names to the latter.127

By the military treaty it was agreed that such Irish officers and
soldiers as should declare that they wished to go to France
should be conveyed thither, and should, in the meantime, remain
under the command of their own generals. Ginkell undertook to
furnish a considerable number of transports. French vessels were
also to be permitted to pass and repass freely between Britanny
and Munster. Part of Limerick was to be immediately delivered up
to the English. But the island on which the Cathedral and the
Castle stand was to remain, for the present, in the keeping of
the Irish.

The terms of the civil treaty were very different from those
which Ginkell had sternly refused to grant. It was not stipulated
that the Roman Catholics of Ireland should be competent to hold
any political or military office, or that they should be admitted
into any corporation. But they obtained a promise that they
should enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as
were consistent with the law, or as they had enjoyed in the reign
of Charles the Second.

To all inhabitants of Limerick, and to all officers and soldiers
in the Jacobite army, who should submit to the government and
notify their submission by taking the oath of allegiance, an
entire amnesty was promised. They were to retain their property;
they were to be allowed to exercise any profession which they had
exercised before the troubles; they were not to be punished for
any treason, felony, or misdemeanour committed since the
accession of the late King; nay, they were not to be sued for
damages on account of any act of spoliation or outrage which they
might have committed during the three years of confusion. This
was more than the Lords justices were constitutionally competent
to grant. It was therefore added that the government would use
its utmost endeavours to obtain a Parliamentary ratification of
the treaty.128

As soon as the two instruments had been signed, the English
entered the city, and occupied one quarter of it. A narrow, but
deep branch of the Shannon separated them from the quarter which
was still in the possession of the Irish.129

In a few hours a dispute arose which seemed likely to produce a
renewal of hostilities. Sarsfield had resolved to seek his
fortune in the service of France, and was naturally desirous to
carry with him to the Continent such a body of troops as would be
an important addition to the army of Lewis. Ginkell was as
naturally unwilling to send thousands of men to swell the forces
of the enemy. Both generals appealed to the treaty. Each
construed it as suited his purpose, and each complained that the
other had violated it. Sarsfield was accused of putting one of
his officers under arrest for refusing to go to the Continent.
Ginkell, greatly excited, declared that he would teach the Irish
to play tricks with him, and began to make preparations for a
cannonade. Sarsfield came to the English camp, and tried to
justify what he had done. The altercation was sharp. "I submit,"
said Sarsfield, at last: "I am in your power." "Not at all in my
power," said Ginkell, "go back and do your worst." The imprisoned
officer was liberated; a sanguinary contest was averted; and the
two commanders contented themselves with a war of words.130
Ginkell put forth proclamations assuring the Irish that, if they
would live quietly in their own land, they should be protected
and favoured, and that if they preferred a military life, they
should be admitted into the service of King William. It was added
that no man, who chose to reject this gracious invitation and to
become a soldier of Lewis, must expect ever again to set foot on
the island. Sarsfield and Wauchop exerted their eloquence on the
other side. The present aspect of affairs, they said, was
doubtless gloomy; but there was bright sky beyond the cloud. The
banishment would be short. The return would be triumphant. Within
a year the French would invade England. In such an invasion the
Irish troops, if only they remained unbroken, would assuredly
bear a chief part. In the meantime it was far better for them to
live in a neighbouring and friendly country, under the parental
care of their own rightful King, than to trust the Prince of
Orange, who would probably send them to the other end of the
world to fight for his ally the Emperor against the Janissaries.

The help of the Roman Catholic clergy was called in. On the day
on which those who had made up their minds to go to France were
required to announce their determination, the priests were
indefatigable in exhorting. At the head of every regiment a
sermon was preached on the duty of adhering to the cause of the
Church, and on the sin and danger of consorting with
unbelievers.131 Whoever, it was said, should enter the service of
the usurpers would do so at the peril of his soul. The heretics
affirmed that, after the peroration, a plentiful allowance of
brandy was served out to the audience, and that, when the brandy
had been swallowed, a Bishop pronounced a benediction. Thus duly
prepared by physical and moral stimulants, the garrison,
consisting of about fourteen thousand infantry, was drawn up in
the vast meadow which lay on the Clare bank of the Shannon. Here
copies of Ginkell's proclamation were profusely scattered about;
and English officers went through the ranks imploring the men not
to ruin themselves, and explaining to them the advantages which
the soldiers of King William enjoyed. At length the decisive
moment came. The troops were ordered to pass in review. Those who
wished to remain in Ireland were directed to file off at a
particular spot. All who passed that spot were to be considered
as having made their choice for France. Sarsfield and Wauchop on
one side, Porter, Coningsby and Ginkell on the other, looked on
with painful anxiety. D'Usson and his countrymen, though not
uninterested in the spectacle, found it hard to preserve their
gravity. The confusion, the clamour, the grotesque appearance of
an army in which there could scarcely be seen a shirt or a pair
of pantaloons, a shoe or a stocking, presented so ludicrous a
contrast to the orderly and brilliant appearance of their
master's troops, that they amused themselves by wondering what
the Parisians would say to see such a force mustered on the plain
of Grenelle.132

First marched what was called the Royal regiment, fourteen
hundred strong. All but seven went beyond the fatal point.
Ginkell's countenance showed that he was deeply mortified. He was
consoled, however, by seeing the next regiment, which consisted
of natives of Ulster, turn off to a man. There had arisen,
notwithstanding the community of blood, language and religion, an
antipathy between the Celts of Ulster and those of the other
three provinces; nor is it improbable that the example and
influence of Baldearg O'Donnel may have had some effect on the
people of the land which his forefathers had ruled.133 In most of
the regiments there was a division of opinion; but a great
majority declared for France. Henry Luttrell was one of those who
turned off. He was rewarded for his desertion, and perhaps for
other services, with a grant of the large estate of his elder
brother Simon, who firmly adhered to the cause of James, with a
pension of five hundred pounds a year from the Crown, and with
the abhorrence of the Roman Catholic population. After living in
wealth, luxury and infamy, during a quarter of a century, Henry
Luttrell was murdered while going through Dublin in his sedan
chair; and the Irish House of Commons declared that there was
reason to suspect that he had fallen by the revenge of the
Papists.134 Eighty years after his death his grave near
Luttrellstown was violated by the descendants of those whom he
had betrayed, and his skull was broken to pieces with a
pickaxe.135 The deadly hatred of which he was the object
descended to his son and to his grandson; and, unhappily, nothing
in the character either of his son or of his grandson tended to
mitigate the feeling which the name of Luttrell excited.136

When the long procession had closed, it was found that about a
thousand men had agreed to enter into William's service. About
two thousand accepted passes from Ginkell, and went quietly home.
About eleven thousand returned with Sarsfield to the city. A few
hours after the garrison had passed in review, the horse, who
were encamped some miles from the town, were required to make
their choice; and most of them volunteered for France.137

Sarsfield considered the troops who remained with him as under an
irrevocable obligation to go abroad; and, lest they should be
tempted to retract their consent, he confined them within the
ramparts, and ordered the gates to be shut and strongly guarded.
Ginkell, though in his vexation he muttered some threats, seems
to have felt that he could not justifiably interfere. But the
precautions of the Irish general were far from being completely
successful. It was by no means strange that a superstitious and
excitable kerne, with a sermon and a dram in his head, should be
ready to promise whatever his priests required; neither was it
strange that, when he had slept off his liquor, and when
anathemas were no longer ringing in his ears, he should feel
painful misgivings. He had bound himself to go into exile,
perhaps for life, beyond that dreary expanse of waters which
impressed his rude mind with mysterious terror. His thoughts ran
on all that he was to leave, on the well known peat stack and
potatoe ground, and on the mud cabin, which, humble as it was,
was still his home. He was never again to see the familiar faces
round the turf fire, or to hear the familiar notes of the old
Celtic songs. The ocean was to roll between him and the dwelling
of his greyheaded parents and his blooming sweetheart. Here were
some who, unable to bear the misery of such a separation, and,
finding it impossible to pass the sentinels who watched the
gates, sprang into the river and gained the opposite bank. The
number of these daring swimmers, however, was not great; and the
army would probably have been transported almost entire if it had
remained at Limerick till the day of embarkation. But many of the
vessels in which the voyage was to be performed lay at Cork; and
it was necessary that Sarsfield should proceed thither with some
of his best regiments. It was a march of not less than four days
through a wild country. To prevent agile youths, familiar with
all the shifts of a vagrant and predatory life, from stealing off
to the bogs, and woods under cover of the night, was impossible.

Indeed, many soldiers had the audacity to run away by broad
daylight before they were out of sight of Limerick Cathedral. The
Royal regiment, which had, on the day of the review, set so
striking an example of fidelity to the cause of James, dwindled
from fourteen hundred men to five hundred. Before the last ships
departed, news came that those who had sailed by the first ships
had been ungraciously received at Brest. They had been scantily
fed; they had been able to obtain neither pay nor clothing;
though winter was setting in, they slept in the fields with no
covering but the hedges. Many had been heard to say that it would
have been far better to die in old Ireland than to live in the
inhospitable country to which they had been banished. The effect
of those reports was that hundreds, who had long persisted in
their intention of emigrating, refused at the last moment to go
on board, threw down their arms, and returned to their native

Sarsfield perceived that one chief cause of the desertion which
was thinning his army was the natural unwillingness of the men
to leave their families in a state of destitution. Cork and its
neighbourhood were filled with the kindred of those who were
going abroad. Great numbers of women, many of them leading,
carrying, suckling their infants, covered all the roads which led
to the place of embarkation. The Irish general, apprehensive of
the effect which the entreaties and lamentations of these poor
creatures could not fail to produce, put forth a proclamation, in
which he assured his soldiers that they should be permitted to
carry their wives and families to France. It would be injurious
to the memory of so brave and loyal a gentleman to suppose that
when he made this promise he meant to break it. It is much more
probable that he had formed an erroneous estimate of the number
of those who would demand a passage, and that he found himself,
when it was too late to alter his arrangements, unable to keep
his word. After the soldiers had embarked, room was found for the
families of many. But still there remained on the water side a
great multitude clamouring piteously to be taken on board. As the
last boats put off there was a rush into the surf. Some women
caught hold of the ropes, were dragged out of their depth, clung
till their fingers were cut through, and perished in the waves.
The ships began to move. A wild and terrible wail rose from the
shore, and excited unwonted compassion in hearts steeled by
hatred of the Irish race and of the Romish faith. Even the stern
Cromwellian, now at length, after a desperate struggle of three
years, left the undisputed lord of the bloodstained and
devastated island, could not hear unmoved that bitter cry, in
which was poured forth all the rage and all the sorrow of a
conquered nation.139

The sails disappeared. The emaciated and brokenhearted crowd of
those whom a stroke more cruel than that of death had made widows
and orphans dispersed, to beg their way home through a wasted
land, or to lie down and die by the roadside of grief and hunger.
The exiles departed, to learn in foreign camps that discipline
without which natural courage is of small avail, and to retrieve
on distant fields of battle the honour which had been lost by a
long series of defeats at home. In Ireland there was peace. The
domination of the colonists was absolute. The native population
was tranquil with the ghastly tranquillity of exhaustion and of
despair. There were indeed outrages, robberies, fireraisings,
assassinations. But more than a century passed away without one
general insurrection. During that century, two rebellions were
raised in Great Britain by the adherents of the House of Stuart.
But neither when the elder Pretender was crowned at Scone, nor
when the younger held his court at Holyrood, was the standard of
that House set up in Connaught or Munster. In 1745, indeed, when
the Highlanders were marching towards London, the Roman Catholics
of Ireland were so quiet that the Lord Lieutenant could, without
the smallest risk, send several regiments across Saint George's
Channel to recruit the army of the Duke of Cumberland. Nor was
this submission the effect of content, but of mere stupefaction
and brokenness of heart. The iron had entered into the soul. The
memory of past defeats, the habit of daily enduring insult and
oppression, had cowed the spirit of the unhappy nation. There
were indeed Irish Roman Catholics of great ability, energy and
ambition; but they were to be found every where except in
Ireland, at Versailles and at Saint Ildefonso, in the armies of
Frederic and in the armies of Maria Theresa. One exile became a
Marshal of France. Another became Prime Minister of Spain. If he
had staid in his native land he would have been regarded as an
inferior by all the ignorant and worthless squireens who drank
the glorious and immortal memory. In his palace at Madrid he had
the pleasure of being assiduously courted by the ambassador of
George the Second, and of bidding defiance in high terms to the
ambassador of George the Third.140 Scattered over all Europe were
to be found brave Irish generals, dexterous Irish diplomatists,
Irish Counts, Irish Barons, Irish Knights of Saint Lewis and of
Saint Leopold, of the White Eagle and of the Golden Fleece, who,
if they had remained in the house of bondage, could not have been
ensigns of marching regiments or freemen of petty corporations.
These men, the natural chiefs of their race, having been
withdrawn, what remained was utterly helpless and passive. A
rising of the Irishry against the Englishry was no more to be
apprehended than a rising of the women and children against the

There were indeed, in those days, fierce disputes between the
mother country and the colony; but in those disputes the
aboriginal population had no more interest than the Red Indians
in the dispute between Old England and New England about the
Stamp Act. The ruling few, even when in mutiny against the
government, had no mercy for any thing that looked like mutiny on
the part of the subject many. None of those Roman patriots, who
poniarded Julius Caesar for aspiring to be a king, would have had
the smallest scruple about crucifying a whole school of
gladiators for attempting to escape from the most odious and
degrading of all kinds of servitude. None of those Virginian
patriots, who vindicated their separation from the British empire
by proclaiming it to be a selfevident truth that all men were
endowed by the Creator with an unalienable right to liberty,
would have had the smallest scruple about shooting any negro
slave who had laid claim to that unalienable right.

And, in the same manner, the Protestant masters of Ireland, while
ostentatiously professing the political doctrines of Locke and
Sidney, held that a people who spoke the Celtic tongue and heard
mass could have no concern in those doctrines. Molyneux
questioned the supremacy of the English legislature. Swift
assailed, with the keenest ridicule and invective, every part of
the system of government. Lucas disquieted the administration of
Lord Harrington. Boyle overthrew the administration of the Duke
of Dorset. But neither Molyneux nor Swift, neither Lucas nor
Boyle, ever thought of appealing to the native population. They
would as soon have thought of appealing to the swine.142 At a
later period Henry Flood excited the dominant class to demand a
Parliamentary reform, and to use even revolutionary means for the
purpose of obtaining that reform. But neither he, nor those who
looked up to him as their chief, and who went close to the verge
of treason at his bidding, would consent to admit the subject
class to the smallest share of political power. The virtuous and
accomplished Charlemont, a Whig of the Whigs, passed a long life
in contending for what he called the freedom of his country. But
he voted against the law which gave the elective franchise to
Roman Catholic freeholders; and he died fixed in the opinion that
the Parliament House ought to be kept pure from Roman Catholic
members. Indeed, during the century which followed the
Revolution, the inclination of an English Protestant to trample
on the Irishry was generally proportioned to the zeal which he
professed for political liberty in the abstract. If he uttered
any expression of compassion for the majority oppressed by the
minority, he might be safely set down as a bigoted Tory and High

All this time hatred, kept down by fear, festered in the hearts
of the children of the soil. They were still the same people that
had sprung to arms in 1641 at the call of O'Neill, and in 1689 at
the call of Tyrconnel. To them every festival instituted by the
State was a day of mourning, and every public trophy set up by
the State was a memorial of shame. We have never known, and can
but faintly conceive, the feelings of a nation doomed to see
constantly in all its public places the monuments of its
subjugation. Such monuments every where met the eye of the Irish
Roman Catholics. In front of the Senate House of their country,
they saw the statue of their conqueror. If they entered, they saw
the walls tapestried with the defeats of their fathers. At
length, after a hundred years of servitude, endured without one
vigorous or combined struggle for emancipation, the French
revolution awakened a wild hope in the bosoms of the oppressed.
Men who had inherited all the pretensions and all the passions of
the Parliament which James had held at the Kings Inns could not
hear unmoved of the downfall of a wealthy established Church, of
the flight of a splendid aristocracy, of the confiscation of an
immense territory. Old antipathies, which had never slumbered,
were excited to new and terrible energy by the combination of
stimulants which, in any other society, would have counteracted
each other. The spirit of Popery and the spirit of Jacobinism,
irreconcilable antagonists every where else, were for once
mingled in an unnatural and portentous union. Their joint
influence produced the third and last rising up of the aboriginal
population against the colony. The greatgrandsons of the soldiers
of Galmoy and Sarsfield were opposed to the greatgrandsons of the
soldiers of Wolseley and Mitchelburn. The Celt again looked
impatiently for the sails which were to bring succour from Brest;
and the Saxon was again backed by the whole power of England.
Again the victory remained with the well educated and well
organized minority. But, happily, the vanquished people found
protection in a quarter from which they would once have had to
expect nothing but implacable severity. By this time the
philosophy of the eighteenth century had purifed English Whiggism
from that deep taint of intolerance which had been contracted
during a long and close alliance with the Puritanism of the
seventeenth century. Enlightened men had begun to feel that the
arguments by which Milton and Locke, Tillotson and Burnet, had
vindicated the rights of conscience might be urged with not less
force in favour of the Roman Catholic than in favour of the
Independent or the Baptist. The great party which traces its
descent through the Exclusionists up to the Roundheads continued
during thirty years, in spite of royal frowns and popular
clamours, to demand a share in all the benefits of our free
constitution for those Irish Papists whom the Roundheads and the
Exclusionists had considered merely as beasts of chase or as
beasts of burden. But it will be for some other historian to
relate the vicissitudes of that great conflict, and the late
triumph of reason and humanity. Unhappily such a historian will
have to relate that the triumph won by such exertions and by such
sacrifices was immediately followed by disappointment; that it
proved far less easy to eradicate evil passions than to repeal
evil laws; and that, long after every trace of national and
religious animosity had been obliterated from the Statute Book,
national and religious animosities continued to rankle in the
bosoms of millions. May he be able also to relate that wisdom,
justice and time gradually did in Ireland what they had done in
Scotland, and that all the races which inhabit the British isles
were at length indissolubly blended into one people!


Opening of the Parliament--Debates on the Salaries and Fees of
Official Men--Act excluding Papists from Public Trust in Ireland-
-Debates on the East India Trade--Debates on the Bill for
regulating Trials in Cases of High Treason--Plot formed by
Marlborough against the Government of William--Marlborough's Plot
disclosed by the Jacobites--Disgrace of Marlborough; Various
Reports touching the Cause of Marlborough's Disgrace.--Rupture
between Mary and Anne--Fuller's Plot--Close of the Session; Bill
for ascertaining the Salaries of the Judges rejected--Misterial
Changes in England--Ministerial Changes in Scotland--State of the
Highlands--Breadalbane employed to negotiate with the Rebel
Clans--Glencoe--William goes to the Continent; Death of Louvois--
The French Government determines to send an Expedition against
England--James believes that the English Fleet is friendly to
him--Conduct of Russell--A Daughter born to James--Preparations
made in England to repel Invasion--James goes down to his Army at
La Hogue--James's Declaration--Effect produced by James's
Declaration--The English and Dutch Fleets join; Temper of the
English Fleet--Battle of La Hogue--Rejoicings in England--Young's

ON the nineteenth of October 1691, William arrived at Kensington
from the Netherlands.144 Three days later he opened the
Parliament. The aspect of affairs was, on the whole, cheering. By
land there had been gains and losses; but the balance was in
favour of England. Against the fall of Mons might well be set off
the taking of Athlone, the victory of Aghrim, the surrender of
Limerick and the pacification of Ireland. At sea there had been
no great victory; but there had been a great display of power and
of activity; and, though many were dissatisfied because more had
not been done, none could deny that there had been a change for
the better. The ruin caused by the foibles and vices of
Torrington had been repaired; the fleet had been well equipped;
the rations had been abundant and wholesome; and the health of
the crews had consequently been, for that age, wonderfully good.
Russell, who commanded the naval forces of the allies, had in
vain offered battle to the French. The white flag, which, in the
preceding year, had ranged the Channel unresisted from the Land's
End to the Straits of Dover, now, as soon as our topmasts were
descried twenty leagues off, abandoned the open sea, and retired
into the depths of the harbour of Brest. The appearance of an
English squadron in the estuary of the Shannon had decided the
fate of the last fortress which had held out for King James; and
a fleet of merchantmen from the Levant, valued at four millions
sterling, had, through dangers which had caused many sleepless
nights to the underwriters of Lombard Street, been convoyed safe
into the Thames.145 The Lords and Commons listened with signs of
satisfaction to a speech in which the King congratulated them on
the event of the war in Ireland, and expressed his confidence
that they would continue to support him in the war with France.
He told them that a great naval armament would be necessary, and
that, in his opinion, the conflict by land could not be
effectually maintained with less than sixty-five thousand men.146

He was thanked in affectionate terms; the force which he asked
was voted; and large supplies were granted with little
difficulty. But when the Ways and Means were taken into
consideration, symptoms of discontent began to appear. Eighteen
months before, when the Commons had been employed in settling the
Civil List, many members had shown a very natural disposition to
complain of the amount of the salaries and fees received by
official men. Keen speeches had been made, and, what was much
less usual, had been printed; there had been much excitement out
of doors; but nothing had been done. The subject was now revived.
A report made by the Commissioners who had been appointed in the
preceding year to examine the public accounts disclosed some
facts which excited indignation, and others which raised grave
suspicion. The House seemed fully determined to make an extensive
reform; and, in truth, nothing could have averted such a reform
except the folly and violence of the reformers. That they should
have been angry is indeed not strange. The enormous gains, direct
and indirect, of the servants of the public went on increasing,
while the gains of every body else were diminishing. Rents were
falling; trade was languishing; every man who lived either on
what his ancestors had left him or on the fruits of his own
industry was forced to retrench. The placeman alone throve amidst
the general distress. "Look," cried the incensed squires, "at the
Comptroller of the Customs. Ten years ago, he walked, and we
rode. Our incomes have been curtailed; his salary has been
doubled; we have sold our horses; he has bought them; and now we
go on foot, and are splashed by his coach and six." Lowther
vainly endeavoured to stand up against the storm. He was heard
with little favour by the country gentlemen who had not long
before looked up to him as one of their leaders. He had left them;
he had become a courtier; he had two good places, one in the
Treasury, the other in the household. He had recently received
from the King's own hand a gratuity of two thousand guineas.147
It seemed perfectly natural that he should defend abuses by which
he profited. The taunts and reproaches with which he was assailed
were insupportable to his sensitive nature. He lost his head,
almost fainted away on the floor of the House, and talked about
righting himself in another place.148 Unfortunately no member
rose at this conjuncture to propose that the civil establishment
of the kingdom should be carefully revised, that sinecures should
be abolished, that exorbitant official incomes should be reduced,
and that no servant of the State should be allowed to exact,
under any pretence, any thing beyond his known and lawful
remuneration. In this way it would have been possible to diminish
the public burdens, and at the same time to increase the
efficiency of every public department. But unfortunately those
who were loudest in clamouring against the prevailing abuses were
utterly destitute of the qualities necessary for the work of
reform. On the twelfth of December, some foolish man, whose name
has not come down to us, moved that no person employed in any
civil office, the Speaker, Judges and Ambassadors excepted,
should receive more than five hundred pounds a year; and this
motion was not only carried, but carried without one dissentient

Those who were most interested in opposing it doubtless saw that
opposition would, at that moment, only irritate the majority, and
reserved themselves for a more favourable time. The more
favourable time soon came. No man of common sense could, when his
blood had cooled, remember without shame that he had voted for a
resolution which made no distinction between sinecurists and
laborious public servants, between clerks employed in copying
letters and ministers on whose wisdom and integrity the fate of
the nation might depend. The salary of the Doorkeeper of the
Excise Office had been, by a scandalous job, raised to five
hundred a year. It ought to have been reduced to fifty. On the
other hand, the services of a Secretary of State who was well
qualified for his post would have been cheap at five thousand. If
the resolution of the Commons bad been carried into effect, both
the salary which ought not to have exceeded fifty pounds, and the
salary which might without impropriety have amounted to five
thousand, would have been fixed at five hundred. Such absurdity
must have shocked even the roughest and plainest foxhunter in the
House. A reaction took place; and when, after an interval of a
few weeks, it was proposed to insert in a bill of supply a clause
in conformity with the resolution of the twelfth of December, the
Noes were loud; the Speaker was of opinion that they had it; the
Ayes did not venture to dispute his opinion; the senseless plan
which had been approved without a division was rejected without a
division; and the subject was not again mentioned. Thus a
grievance so scandalous that none of those who profited by it
dared to defend it was perpetuated merely by the imbecility and
intemperance of those who attacked it.150

Early in the Session the Treaty of Limerick became the subject of
a grave and earnest discussion. The Commons, in the exercise of
that supreme power which the English legislature possessed over
all the dependencies of England, sent up to the Lords a bill
providing that no person should sit in the Irish Parliament,
should hold any Irish office, civil, military or ecclesiastical,
or should practise law or medicine in Ireland, till he had taken
the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and subscribed the
Declaration against Transubstantiation. The Lords were not more
inclined than the Commons to favour the Irish. No peer was
disposed to entrust Roman Catholics with political power. Nay, it
seems that no peer objected to the principle of the absurd and
cruel rule which excluded Roman Catholics from the liberal
professions. But it was thought that this rule, though
unobjectionable in principle, would, if adopted without some
exceptions, be a breach of a positive compact. Their Lordships
called for the Treaty of Limerick, ordered it to be read at the
table, and proceeded to consider whether the law framed by the
Lower House was consistent with the engagements into which the
government had entered. One discrepancy was noticed. It was
stipulated by the second civil article, that every person
actually residing in any fortress occupied by an Irish garrison,
should be permitted, on taking the Oath of Allegiance, to resume
any calling which he had exercised before the Revolution. It
would, beyond all doubt, have been a violation of this covenant
to require that a lawyer or a physician, who had been within the
walls of Limerick during the siege, should take the Oath of
Supremacy and subscribe the Declaration against
Transubstantiation, before he could receive fees. Holt was
consulted, and was directed to prepare clauses in conformity with
the terms of the capitulation.

The bill, as amended by Holt, was sent back to the Commons. They
at first rejected the amendment, and demanded a conference. The
conference was granted. Rochester, in the Painted Chamber,
delivered to the managers of the Lower House a copy of the Treaty
of Limerick, and earnestly represented the importance of
preserving the public faith inviolate. This appeal was one which
no honest man, though inflamed by national and religious
animosity, could resist. The Commons reconsidered the subject,
and, after hearing the Treaty read, agreed, with some slight
modifications, to what the Lords had proposed.151

The bill became a law. It attracted, at the time, little notice,
but was, after the lapse of several generations, the subject of a
very acrimonious controversy. Many of us can well remember how
strongly the public mind was stirred, in the days of George the
Third and George the Fourth, by the question whether Roman
Catholics should be permitted to sit in Parliament. It may be
doubted whether any dispute has produced stranger perversions of
history. The whole past was falsified for the sake of the
present. All the great events of three centuries long appeared to
us distorted and discoloured by a mist sprung from our own
theories and our own passions. Some friends of religious liberty,
not content with the advantage which they possessed in the fair
conflict of reason with reason, weakened their case by
maintaining that the law which excluded Irish Roman Catholics
from Parliament was inconsistent with the civil Treaty of
Limerick. The First article of that Treaty, it was said,
guaranteed to the Irish Roman Catholic such privileges in the
exercise of his religion as he had enjoyed in the time of Charles
the Second. In the time of Charles the Second no test excluded
Roman Catholics from the Irish Parliament. Such a test could not
therefore, it was argued, be imposed without a breach of public
faith. In the year 1828, especially, this argument was put
forward in the House of Commons as if it had been the main
strength of a cause which stood in need of no such support. The
champions of Protestant ascendency were well pleased to see the
debate diverted from a political question about which they were
in the wrong, to a historical question about which they were in
the right. They had no difficulty in proving that the first
article, as understood by all the contracting parties, meant only
that the Roman Catholic worship should be tolerated as in time
past. That article was drawn up by Ginkell; and, just before he
drew it up, he had declared that he would rather try the chance
of arms than consent that Irish Papists should be capable of
holding civil and military offices, of exercising liberal
professions, and of becoming members of municipal corporations.
How is it possible to believe that he would, of his own accord,
have promised that the House of Lords and the House of Commons
should be open to men to whom he would not open a guild of
skinners or a guild of cordwainers? How, again, is it possible to
believe that the English Peers would, while professing the most
punctilious respect for public faith, while lecturing the Commons
on the duty of observing public faith, while taking counsel with
the most learned and upright jurist of the age as to the best
mode of maintaining public faith, have committed a flagrant
violation of public faith and that not a single lord should have
been so honest or so factious as to protest against an act of
monstrous perfidy aggravated by hypocrisy? Or, if we could
believe this, how can we believe that no voice would have been
raised in any part of the world against such wickedness; that the
Court of Saint Germains and the Court of Versailles would have
remained profoundly silent; that no Irish exile, no English
malecontent, would have uttered a murmur; that not a word of
invective or sarcasm on so inviting a subject would have been
found in the whole compass of the Jacobite literature; and that
it would have been reserved for politicians of the nineteenth
century to discover that a treaty made in the seventeenth century
had, a few weeks after it had been signed, been outrageously
violated in the sight of all Europe?152

On the same day on which the Commons read for the first time the
bill which subjected Ireland to the absolute dominion of the
Protestant minority, they took into consideration another matter
of high importance. Throughout the country, but especially in the
capital, in the seaports and in the manufacturing towns, the
minds of men were greatly excited on the subject of the trade
with the East Indies; a fierce paper war had during some time
been raging; and several grave questions, both constitutional and
commercial, had been raised, which the legislature only could

It has often been repeated, and ought never to be forgotten, that
our polity differs widely from those politics which have, during
the last eighty years, been methodically constructed, digested
into articles, and ratified by constituent assemblies. It grew up
in a rude age. It is not to be found entire in any formal
instrument. All along the line which separates the functions of
the prince from those of the legislator there was long a disputed
territory. Encroachments were perpetually committed, and, if not
very outrageous, were often tolerated. Trespass, merely as
trespass, was commonly suffered to pass unresented. It was only
when the trespass produced some positive damage that the
aggrieved party stood on his right, and demanded that the
frontier should be set out by metes and bounds, and that the
landmarks should thenceforward be punctiliously respected.

Many of those points which had occasioned the most violent
disputes between our Sovereigns and their Parliaments had been
finally decided by the Bill of Rights. But one question, scarcely
less important than any of the questions which had been set at
rest for ever, was still undetermined. Indeed, that question was
never, as far as can now be ascertained, even mentioned in the
Convention. The King had undoubtedly, by the ancient laws of the
realm, large powers for the regulation of trade; but the ablest
judge would have found it difficult to say what was the precise
extent of those powers. It was universally acknowledged that it
belonged to the King to prescribe weights and measures, and to
coin money; that no fair or market could be held without
authority from him; that no ship could unload in any bay or
estuary which he had not declared to be a port. In addition to
his undoubted right to grant special commercial privileges to
particular places, he long claimed a right to grant special
commercial privileges to particular societies and to particular
individuals; and our ancestors, as usual, did not think it worth
their while to dispute this claim, till it produced serious
inconvenience. At length, in the reign of Elizabeth, the power of
creating monopolies began to be grossly abused; and, as soon as
it began to be grossly abused, it began to be questioned. The
Queen wisely declined a conflict with a House of Commons backed
by the whole nation. She frankly acknowledged that there was
reason for complaint; she cancelled the patents which had excited
the public clamours; and her people, delighted by this
concession, and by the gracious manner in which it had been made,
did not require from her an express renunciation of the disputed

The discontents which her wisdom had appeased were revived by the
dishonest and pusillanimous policy which her successor called
Kingcraft. He readily granted oppressive patents of monopoly.
When he needed the help of his Parliament, he as readily annulled
them. As soon as the Parliament had ceased to sit, his Great Seal
was put to instruments more odious than those which he had
recently cancelled. At length that excellent House of Commons
which met in 1623 determined to apply a strong remedy to the
evil. The King was forced to give his assent to a law which
declared monopolies established by royal authority to be null and
void. Some exceptions, however, were made, and, unfortunately,
were not very clearly defined. It was especially provided that
every Society of Merchants which had been instituted for the
purpose of carrying on any trade should retain all its legal
privileges.153 The question whether a monopoly granted by the
Crown to such a company were or were not a legal privilege was
left unsettled, and continued to exercise, during many years, the
ingenuity of lawyers.154 The nation, however, relieved at once
from a multitude of impositions and vexations which were
painfully felt every day at every fireside, was in no humour to
dispute the validity of the charters under which a few companies
to London traded with distant parts of the world.

Of these companies by far the most important was that which had
been, on the last day of the sixteenth century, incorporated by
Queen Elizabeth under the name of the Governor and Company of
Merchants of London trading to the East Indies. When this
celebrated body began to exist, the Mogul monarchy was at the
zenith of power and glory. Akbar, the ablest and best of the
princes of the House of Tamerlane, had just been borne, full of
years and honours, to a mausoleum surpassing in magnificence any
that Europe could show. He had bequeathed to his posterity an
empire containing more than twenty times the population and
yielding more than twenty times the revenue of the England
which, under our great Queen, held a foremost place among
European powers. It is curious and interesting to consider how
little the two countries, destined to be one day so closely
connected, were then known to each other. The most enlightened
Englishmen looked on India with ignorant admiration. The most
enlightened natives of India were scarcely aware that England
existed. Our ancestors had a dim notion of endless bazaars,
swarming with buyers and sellers, and blazing with cloth of gold,
with variegated silks and with precious stones; of treasuries
where diamonds were piled in heaps and sequins in mountains; of
palaces, compared with which Whitehall and Hampton Court were
hovels; of armies ten times as numerous as that which they had
seen assembled at Tilbury to repel the Armada. On the other hand,
it was probably not known to one of the statesmen in the Durbar
of Agra that there was near the setting sun a great city of
infidels, called London, where a woman reigned, and that she had
given to an association of Frank merchants the exclusive
privilege of freighting ships from her dominions to the Indian
seas. That this association would one day rule all India, from
the ocean to the everlasting snow, would reduce to profound
obedience great provinces which had never submitted to Akbar's
authority, would send Lieutenant Governors to preside in his
capital, and would dole out a monthly pension to his heir, would
have seemed to the wisest of European or of Oriental politicians
as impossible as that inhabitants of our globe should found an
empire in Venus or Jupiter.

Three generations passed away; and still nothing indicated that
the East India Company would ever become a great Asiatic
potentate. The Mogul empire, though undermined by internal causes
of decay, and tottering to its fall, still presented to distant
nations the appearance of undiminished prosperity and vigour.
Aurengzebe, who, in the same month in which Oliver Cromwell died,
assumed the magnificent title of Conqueror of the World,
continued to reign till Anne had been long on the English throne.
He was the sovereign of a larger territory than had obeyed any of
his predecessors. His name was great in the farthest regions of
the West. Here he had been made by Dryden the hero of a tragedy
which would alone suffice to show how little the English of that
age knew about the vast empire which their grandchildren were to
conquer and to govern. The poet's Mussulman princes make love in
the style of Amadis, preach about the death of Socrates, and
embellish their discourse with allusions to the mythological
stories of Ovid. The Brahminical metempyschosis is represented as
an article of the Mussulman creed; and the Mussulman Sultanas
burn themselves with their husbands after the Brahminical
fashion. This drama, once rapturously applauded by crowded
theatres, and known by heart to fine gentlemen and fine ladies,
is now forgotten. But one noble passage still lives, and is
repeated by thousands who know not whence it comes.155

Though nothing yet indicated the high political destiny of the
East India Company, that body had a great sway in the City of
London. The offices, which stood on a very small part of the
ground which the present offices cover, had escaped the ravages
of the fire. The India House of those days was a building of
timber and plaster, rich with the quaint carving and lattice-work
of the Elizabethan age. Above the windows was a painting which
represented a fleet of merchantmen tossing on the waves. The
whole edifice was surmounted by a colossal wooden seaman, who,
from between two dolphins, looked down on the crowds of
Leadenhall Street.156 In this abode, narrow and humble indeed
when compared with the vast labyrinth of passages and chambers
which now bears the same name, the Company enjoyed, during the
greater part of the reign of Charles the Second, a prosperity to
which the history of trade scarcely furnishes any parallel, and
which excited the wonder, the cupidity and the envious animosity
of the whole capital. Wealth and luxury were then rapidly
increasing. The taste for the spices, the tissues and the jewels
of the East became stronger day by day. Tea, which, at the time
when Monk brought the army of Scotland to London, had been handed
round to be stared at and just touched with the lips, as a great
rarity from China, was, eight years later, a regular article of
import, and was soon consumed in such quantities that financiers
began to consider it as a fit subject for taxation. The progress
which was making in the art of war had created an unprecedented
demand for the ingredients of which gunpowder is compounded. It
was calculated that all Europe would hardly produce in a year
saltpetre enough for the siege of one town fortified on the
principles of Vauban.157 But for the supplies from India, it was
said, the English government would be unable to equip a fleet
without digging up the cellars of London in order to collect the
nitrous particles from the walls.158 Before the Restoration
scarcely one ship from the Thames had ever visited the Delta of
the Ganges. But, during the twenty-three years which followed the
Restoration, the value of the annual imports from that rich and
populous district increased from eight thousand pounds to three
hundred thousand.

The gains of the body which had the exclusive possession of this
fast growing trade were almost incredible. The capital which had
been actually paid up did not exceed three hundred and seventy
thousand pounds; but the Company could, without difficulty,
borrow money at six per cent., and the borrowed money, thrown
into the trade, produced, it was rumoured, thirty per cent. The
profits were such that, in 1676, every proprietor received as a
bonus a quantity of stock equal to that which he held. On the
capital, thus doubled, were paid, during five years, dividends
amounting on an average to twenty per cent. annually. There had
been a time when a hundred pounds of the stock could be purchased
for sixty. Even in 1664 the price in the market was only seventy.
But in 1677 the price had risen to two hundred and forty-five; in
1681 it was three hundred; it subsequently rose to three hundred
and sixty; and it is said that some sales were effected at five

The enormous gains of the Indian trade might perhaps have excited
little murmuring if they had been distributed among numerous
proprietors. But while the value of the stock went on increasing,
the number of stockholders went on diminishing. At the time when
the prosperity of the Company reached the highest point, the
management was entirely in the hands of a few merchants of
enormous wealth. A proprietor then had a vote for every five
hundred pounds of stock that stood in his name. It is asserted in
the pamphlets of that age that five persons had a sixth part, and
fourteen persons a third part of the votes.160 More than one
fortunate speculator was said to derive an annual income of ten
thousand pounds from the monopoly; and one great man was pointed
out on the Royal Exchange as having, by judicious or lucky
purchases of stock, created in no long time an estate of twenty
thousand a year. This commercial grandee, who in wealth and in
the influence which attends wealth vied with the greatest nobles
of his time, was Sir Josiah Child. There were those who still
remembered him an apprentice, sweeping one of the counting houses
of the City. But from a humble position his abilities had raised
him rapidly to opulence, power and fame. At the time of the
Restoration he was highly considered in the mercantile world.
Soon after that event he published his thoughts on the philosophy
of trade. His speculations were not always sound; but they were
the speculations of an ingenious and reflecting man. Into
whatever errors he may occasionally have fallen as a theorist, it
is certain that, as a practical man of business, he had few
equals. Almost as soon as he became a member of the committee
which directed the affairs of the Company, his ascendency was
felt. Soon many of the most important posts, both in Leadenhall
Street and in the factories of Bombay and Bengal, were filled by
his kinsmen and creatures. His riches, though expended with
ostentatious profusion, continued to increase and multiply. He
obtained a baronetcy; he purchased a stately seat at Wanstead;
and there he laid out immense sums in excavating fishponds, and
in planting whole square miles of barren land with walnut trees.
He married his daughter to the eldest son of the Duke of
Beaufort, and paid down with her a portion of fifty thousand

But this wonderful prosperity was not uninterrupted. Towards the
close of the reign of Charles the Second the Company began to be
fiercely attacked from without, and to be at the same time
distracted by internal dissensions. The profits of the Indian
trade were so tempting, that private adventurers had often, in
defiance of the royal charter, fitted out ships for the Eastern
seas. But the competition of these interlopers did not become
really formidable till the year 1680. The nation was then
violently agitated by the dispute about the Exclusion Bill. Timid
men were anticipating another civil war. The two great parties,
newly named Whigs and Tories, were fiercely contending in every
county and town of England; and the feud soon spread to every
corner of the civilised world where Englishmen were to be found.

The Company was popularly considered as a Whig body. Among the
members of the directing committee were some of the most vehement
Exclusionists in the City. Indeed two of them, Sir Samuel
Barnardistone and Thomas Papillon, drew on themselves a severe
persecution by their zeal against Popery and arbitrary power.162
Child had been originally brought into the direction by these
men; he had long acted in concert with them; and he was supposed
to hold their political opinions. He had, during many years,
stood high in the esteem of the chiefs of the parliamentary
opposition, and had been especially obnoxious to the Duke of
York.163 The interlopers therefore determined to affect the
character of loyal men, who were determined to stand by the
throne against the insolent tribunes of the City. They spread, at
all the factories in the East, reports that England was in
confusion, that the sword had been drawn or would immediately be
drawn, and that the Company was forward in the rebellion against
the Crown. These rumours, which, in truth, were not improbable,
easily found credit among people separated from London by what
was then a voyage of twelve months. Some servants of the Company
who were in ill humour with their employers, and others who were
zealous royalists, joined the private traders. At Bombay, the
garrison and the great body of the English inhabitants declared
that they would no longer obey any body who did not obey the
King; they imprisoned the Deputy Governor; and they proclaimed
that they held the island for the Crown. At Saint Helena there
was a rising. The insurgents took the name of King's men, and
displayed the royal standard. They were, not without difficulty,
put down; and some of them were executed by martial law.164

If the Company had still been a Whig Company when the news of
these commotions reached England, it is probable that the
government would have approved of the conduct of the mutineers,
and that the charter on which the monopoly depended would have
had the fate which about the same time befell so many other
charters. But while the interlopers were, at a distance of many
thousands of miles, making war on the Company in the name of the
King, the Company and the King had been reconciled. When the
Oxford Parliament had been dissolved, when many signs indicated
that a strong reaction in favour of prerogative was at hand, when
all the corporations which had incurred the royal displeasure
were beginning to tremble for their franchises, a rapid and
complete revolution took place at the India House. Child, who was
then Governor, or, in the modern phrase, Chairman, separated
himself from his old friends, excluded them from the direction,
and negotiated a treaty of peace and of close alliance with the
Court.165 It is not improbable that the near connection into
which he had just entered with the great Tory house of Beaufort
may have had something to do with this change in his politics.
Papillon, Barnardistone, and their adherents, sold their stock;
their places in the committee were supplied by persons devoted to
Child; and he was thenceforth the autocrat of the Company. The
treasures of the Company were absolutely at his disposal. The
most important papers of the Company were kept, not in the
muniment room of the office in Leadenhall Street, but in his desk
at Wanstead. The boundless power which he exercised at the India
House enabled him to become a favourite at Whitehall; and the

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