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The Story Of Ireland by Emily Lawless

Part 4 out of 6

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more so; few years, indeed, in that long, dark bead-roll are perhaps as
memorable, both from what it brought forth at the time, and, still more,
from what was afterwards to follow from it.

The whole country, it must be remembered, was in a state of the wildest
and most irrepressible excitement. The fall of such a ruler as
Strafford--one under whose iron will it had for years lain as in a
vice--would alone have produced a considerable amount of upheaval and
confusion. The army collected by him, and mainly recruited by Catholics,
was regarded with strong disfavour both by Irish Protestants and by the
English Parliament, and Charles, much against his will, had been forced
to disband it, and the arms had been stored in Dublin Castle. The men,
however, remained, and among the leading Irish as well as English
royalists there was a strong desire that they should be kept together,
so as to serve if required in the fast nearing struggle.

Nor was this all. Stafford's persecution of the Presbyterians had done
its work, and the feeling between them and the Irish Church party had
been greatly embittered. Amongst the Catholics, too, the most loyal even
of the gentry had been terror-stricken by his confiscations. No one knew
how long his property would remain his own, or upon what pretence it
might not next be taken from him. Add to these the long-gathering
passion of the dispossessed clans in the north, and that floating
element of disaffection always ready to stir, and it will be seen that
the materials for a rebellion were ready laid, and needed only a spark
to ignite them.

As usually happens in rebellions the plans of the more prudent were
thwarted by the impetuosity of the more violent spirits. While Ormond,
Antrim, and the barons of the Pale were communicating with the king, and
considering what were the best steps to take, a plot had been formed
without them, and was now upon the point of exploding.

Two men, Rory or Roger O'Moore, one of the O'Moores of Leix, and Sir
Phelim O'Neill, a connection of the Tyrones, were its main movers, and
were joined by Lord Maguire, a youth of about twenty-two, Hugh McMahon,
the Bishop of Clogher, and a few other gentlemen, belonging chiefly to
the septs of the north. The plan was a very comprehensive one. They were
to seize Dublin Castle, which was known to be weakly defended; get out
the arms and powder, and redistribute them to the disbanded troops; at
the same time, seize all the forts and garrison towns in the north; turn
all the Protestant settlers adrift--though it was at first stipulated
without killing or otherwise injuring them--take possession of all the
country houses, and make all who declined to join in the rising

Never, too, was plot more nearly successful. October the 23rd was the
day fixed, and up to the very evening before no hint of what was
intended had reached the Lords Justices. By the merest chance, and by an
almost inconceivable piece of carelessness on the part of the
conspirators, it was divulged to a man called Conolly, a Presbyterian
convert, who went straight and reported it to Sir William Parsons. The
latter at first declined to believe in it, but, Conolly persisting in
his story, steps were taken to strengthen the defences. The guard was
doubled; Lord Maguire and Hugh McMahon were arrested at daybreak next
morning; the rest, finding that their stroke had missed, fled with their

If this part of the rising failed, the other portions, unhappily, were
only too successful. The same day the Protestant settlers in Armagh and
Tyrone, unsuspicious of any danger, were suddenly set upon by a horde of
armed or half-armed men, dragged out of their houses, stripped to the
skin, and driven, naked and defenceless, into the cold. No one dared to
take them in, every door was shut in their faces, and though at first no
actual massacre seems to have been intended, hundreds perished within
the first few days of exposure, or fell dead by the roadside of famine
and exhaustion.

Sir Phelim O'Neill--a drunken ruffian for whom even the most patriotic
historian finds it hard to say a redeeming word--was here the
ringleader. On the same day--the 23rd of October--he got possession of
the fort of Charlemont, the strongest position in the new plantation, by
inviting himself to dinner with Lord Caulfield, the governor, and
suddenly seizing him prisoner. Dungannon, Mountjoy, and several of the
other forts, were also surprised and taken. Enniskillen, however, was
saved by its governor, Sir William Cole, and Derry, Coleraine, and
Carrickfergus, had also time fortunately to shut their gates, and into
these as many of the terrified settlers as could reach them crowded.

These were few, however, compared to those who could find no such haven
of refuge. Sir Phelim O'Neill, mad with excitement, and intoxicated with
the sudden sense of power, hounded on his excited and undisciplined
followers to commit every conceivable act of cruelty and atrocity.
Disappointed by the failure of the more important part of the rising,
and furious at the unsuccess of his attempts to capture the defended
towns, he turned like a bloodhound upon those unfortunates who were
within his grasp. Old Lord Caulfield was murdered in Sir Phelim's house
by Sir Phelim's own foster-brother; Mr. Blaney, the member for Monaghan,
was hanged; and some hundreds of the inhabitants of Armagh, who had
surrendered on promise of their lives, were massacred in cold blood. As
for the more irregular murders committed in the open field upon
helpless, terrified creatures, powerless to defend themselves, they are
too numerous to relate, and there is happily no purpose to be gained in
repeating the harrowing details. The effect produced by the condition of
the survivors upon those who saw them arrive in Dublin and
elsewhere--spent, worn out, frozen with cold, creeping along on hands
and knees, and all but at the point of death--was evidently
ineffaceable, and communicates itself vividly to us as we read their

The effect of cruelty, too, is to produce more cruelty; of horrors like
these to breed more horrors; till the very earth seems covered with the
hideous brood, and the most elementary instincts of humanity die away
under their poisonous breath. So it was now in Ireland. The atrocities
committed upon one side were almost equalled, though not upon so large a
scale by the other. One of the first actions performed by a Scotch
force, sent over to Carrickfergus by the king, was to sally out like
demons and mercilessly slaughter some thirty Irish families living in
Island Magee, who had nothing whatever to say to the rising. In Wicklow,
too, Sir Charles Coote, sent to suppress a disturbance amongst the
O'Byrnes and O'Tooles, perpetrated atrocities the memory of which still
survives in the region, and which, for cold-blooded, deliberate horror
almost surpass those committed in the north. The spearing by his
soldiery of infants which had hardly left the breast he himself openly
avowed, and excused upon the plea that if allowed to survive they would
grow up to be men and women, and that his object was to extirpate the
entire brood.

Here and there a faint gleam falls upon the blackened page. Bedell, the
Bishop of Kilmore, who had won the reverence even of his fiercest
opponents, was allowed to remain free and undisturbed in the midst of
the worst scenes of carnage and outrage; and when a few months later he
died, was followed weeping to the grave by many who had been foremost in
the work of horror. As to the number of those who actually perished,
either from exposure, or by the hands of assassins, it has been so
variously estimated that it seems to be all but impossible to arrive at
anything like exact statistics. The tale was black enough as it really
stood, but it was made blacker still by rumour and exaggeration. The
real number of the victims grew to tenfold in the telling. Four thousand
murdered swelled to forty thousand; and eight thousand who died of
exposure, to eighty thousand. Even now every fresh historian sets the
sum total down at a different figure. Take it, however, at the very
lowest, it is still a horrible one. Let us shut our eyes and pass on.
The history of those days remains in Carlyle's words, "Not a picture,
but a huge blot: an indiscriminate blackness, one which the human memory
cannot willingly charge itself with!"



So far the rising had been merely local. It was now to assume larger
dimensions. Although shocked at the massacre, and professing an eager
desire to march in person to punish its perpetrators, Charles' chief aim
was really that terms should be made with the leaders, in order that
their troops might be made available for service in England.

In Dublin courts-martial were being rapidly established. All Protestants
were given arms; all strangers were ordered to quit the city on pain of
death; Sir Francis Willoughby was given the command of the castle; Sir
Charles Coote made military governor of the city. Ormond was anxious to
take the field in the north before the insurrection spread further,
before they had time, as he said, to "file their pikes." This the Lords
Justices however refused to allow. They were waiting for orders from the
English Parliament, with which they were in close alliance, and were
perfectly willing to let the revolt spread so that the area of
confiscated lands might be the greater.

None of the three southern provinces had as yet risen, in the Pale the
Anglo-Norman families were warm in their expressions of loyalty, and
appealed earnestly to the Lords Justices to summon a parliament, and to
distribute arms for their protection. This last was refused, and
although a parliament assembled it was instantly prorogued, and no
measures were taken to provide for the safety of the well-disposed.
Early in December of the same year Lords Fingal, Gormanstown, Dunsany,
and others of the principal Pale peers, with a large number of the local
gentry, met upon horseback, at Swords, in Meath, to discuss their future
conduct. The opposition between the king and Parliament was daily
growing fiercer. The Lords Justices were the nominees of Parliament; to
revolt against them was not, therefore, it was argued, to revolt against
the king. Upon December 17th they met again in yet larger numbers, upon
the hill of Crofty, where they were met by some of the leaders of the
north. Rory O'Moore,--a man of no little address, who was personally
clear of the worst stain of the massacres, and who had lately issued a
proclamation declaring that he and his followers were in arms, not
against Charles, but the Parliament--was the principal speaker on this
occasion, and his arguments appear to have decided the waverers. They
agreed unanimously to throw in their lot with their co-religionists.
From that moment the rising had become a national one. The whole island
was soon in arms. Munster followed Leinster, and Connaught shortly
afterwards followed Munster. Lords Thomond, Clanricarde, and a few
others stood out, but by the end of the year, with the exception of
Dublin, Drogheda, Cork, Galway, Enniskillen, Derry, and some few other
towns, all Ireland was in the hands of the rebels.

Even then the Lords Justices seem to have but little realized the
gravity of the crisis. They occupied their time chiefly in preparing
indictments, and cheerfully calculating the fast-growing area of land
open to confiscation. In vain Ormond entreated to be allowed to proceed
against Sir Phelim O'Neill. They steadily declined to allow him to leave
the neighbourhood of Dublin.

The northern rising had by this time nearly worn itself out by its own
excesses. Sir Phelim's efforts to take Drogheda were ludicrously
unavailing, and he had been forced to take his ragged rabble away
without achieving anything. Regarded as an army it had one striking
peculiarity--there was not a single military man in it! Sir Phelim
himself had been bred to the law; Rory O'Moore was a self-taught
insurgent who had never smelt powder. They had no arms, no officers, no
discipline, no organization of any kind; what was more, the men were
deserting in all directions. In the south there was no one either to
take the command. The new levies were willing enough to fight, but there
was no one to show them how. The insurrection seemed in a fair way of
dying out from sheer want of leadership.

Suddenly reinforcements arrived in two directions almost at the same
time. Owen O'Neill--better known as Owen Roe--an honourable and gallant
man, who had served with much distinction upon the Continent, landed in
Donegal, accompanied by about a hundred French-Irish officers. He
instantly took the command of the disorganized and fast-dissolving
northern levies; superseded the incompetent Sir Phelim, who from that
moment fell away into contempt and impotence; suppressed all disorders,
and punished, as far as possible, those who had been foremost in the
work of blood, expressing at the same time his utter detestation of the
horrors which had hitherto blackened the rising.

Almost at the same moment Colonel Preston, a brother of Lord
Gormanstown, and an officer who had also served with credit in the
European wars, landed in the south, bringing with him a store of
ammunition and field artillery, and between four and five hundred exiled
Irish officers. The two forces thereupon began to assume a comparatively
organized appearance. Both, however, were so far perfectly independent
of each other, and both openly and avowedly hostile to the king.

To effect a union between these northern and southern insurgents a
meeting was summoned at Kilkenny in October, 1642, consisting of over
two hundred Roman Catholic deputies, nearly all the Irish Roman Catholic
bishops, many of the clergy, and some fourteen peers. A council was
formed of which Lord Mountgarret was appointed President. Owen Roe
O'Neill was at the same time confirmed in the command of the northern
forces, and Colonel Preston in that of the southern. The war was
declared to be a Catholic one, to be known henceforward as the Catholic
Confederacy, and between old Irish and Anglo-Irish there was to be no

Charles's great aim was now to persuade the Confederates to unite with
one another in his support. The chief difficulty was a religious one.
The Kilkenny Council stood out for the restoration of the Catholic
Church in all its original privileges. This, for his own
sake--especially in the then excited state of feeling in
England--Charles dared not grant, neither would Ormond abet him in doing
so. Between the latter and the Catholic peers there was, however, a
complete understanding, while between him and the Dublin Lords Justices
there was an all but complete breach.

The King decided upon a _coup de main_. He dismissed the Lords Justices,
and ordered several of the more Puritan members of the Privy Council to
be tried for treason. The result was a rapid exodus of nearly the whole
governing body to England. Early in 1644 Ormond was made Lord-deputy,
and a truce of a year was entered into with the Confederates. Only the
extravagance of the latter's demands now stood in the way of a
complete union.



The passionate excitement which the news of the Ulster massacre had
awakened in England seems to have deepened, rather than diminished, as
time went on, and the details became more known. Nothing that has
happened within living memory can be even approximately compared to it,
though, perhaps, those who are old enough to remember the sensations
awakened by the news of the Indian Mutiny will be able most nearly to
realize the wrath and passionate desire of revenge which filled every
Protestant breast. That the circumstances of the case were not taken
into consideration was almost inevitable. Looking back with calmer
vision--though even now a good deal of fog and misconception seems to
prevail upon the subject--we can see that some such outbreak was all but
inevitable; might have been, indeed ought to have been, foreseen. A
wildly-excitable population driven from the land which they and their
fathers had held from time immemorial, confined to a narrow and, for the
most part, a worthless tract; seeing others in possession of these "fat
lands" which they still regarded as their own--exiled to make room for
planters of another race and another faith--what, in the name of sense
or reason, was to be expected except what happened? That the very
instant protection was withdrawn the hour for retribution would be felt
to have struck. The unhappy Protestant colonists were absolutely
guiltless in the matter. They were simply the victims, as the earlier
proprietors had been the victims before them. The wrongs that had been
wrought thirty years earlier by Sir John Davis and the Dublin lawyers
had been wiped out in their unoffending blood.

This point is so important to realize, and the whole rising has so often
been described as a purely religious and fanatical one, that it is worth
dwelling upon it a minute or two longer. It was a rising,
unquestionably, of a native Roman Catholic community against an
introduced Protestant one, and the religious element, no doubt, counted
for something--though it is not easy to say for how much--in the matter.
In any case it was the smallest least vital part of the long gathered
fury which resulted in that deed of vengeance. The rising was
essentially an agrarian one--as almost every Irish rising has been
before and since--and the fact that the two rival creeds found
themselves face to face was little more than a very unfortunate
accident. Could the plantations of James the First's time have been
formed exclusively of English or Scotch Roman Catholics, we have no
reason, and certainly no right to conclude that the event would have
been in any way different, or that the number of those slaughtered would
have been reduced by even a single victim.

It was not, however, to be expected that the English Protestants of that
day would realize this. It is not always fully realized even yet. The
heat awakened by that ruthless slaughter, that merciless driving away of
hundreds of innocent women and children, the natural pity for the youth
and helplessness of many of the victims has lasted down to our own time.
Even to us the outrage is a thousand-fold more vivid than the
provocation which led to it. How much more then to the English
Protestants of that day? To them it was simply a new massacre of St.
Bartholomew; an atrocity which the very amplest and bloodiest vengeance
would still come far short of expiating.

It is easy to see that any negotiation with those implicated in a deed
which had produced so widespread a feeling of horror was a proceeding
fraught with peril to the royal cause. Anger does not discriminate, and
to the Protestants of England, North and South, old Irish, and
Anglo-Irish, honourable gentlemen of the Pale, and red-handed rebels of
Ulster, were all alike guilty. Nor was this Charles's only difficulty.
The Confederates declined to abate a jot of their terms. The free
exercise of the Catholic religion, an independent Irish parliament, a
general pardon, and a reversal of all attainders were amongst their
conditions, and they would not take less. These Ormond dared not agree
to. Had he done so every Protestant in Ireland, down to his own
soldiery, would have gone over in a body to the Parliament. He offered
what he dared, but the Irish leaders would listen to no compromise. They
knew the imminence of the situation as well as he did, and every fresh
royal defeat, the news of which reached Ireland, only made them stand
out the firmer.

Charles cut the knot in his own fashion. Tired of Ormond's discretion
and Ormond's inconvenient sense of honour, he secretly sent over Edward
Somerset, Earl of Glamorgan, to make terms with the Confederates, who,
excited at finding themselves the last hope and mainstay of an
embarrassed king stood out for higher and higher conditions. The
Plantation lands were to be given back: full and free pardon was to be
granted to all; Mass was to be said in all the churches. To these terms
and everything else required, Glamorgan agreed, and the Confederates,
thereupon, agreed to despatch a large force, when called upon to do so,
to England, and in the meantime to make sham terms with Ormond, keeping
him in the dark as to this secret compact.

It was not long a secret Ormond seems to have had some suspicions of it
from the beginning, and an incident which presently occurred made
suspicion certainty. The town of Sligo had been captured by the
parliamentary troops under Coote, and in October, 1645, an attempt was
made to recapture it by a party of Irish under a fighting prelate, the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. In the struggle which ensued the
Archbishop was killed, and upon his body was found a copy of the secret
treaty which was straightway despatched by Coote to London.

It awakened a sensation hardly less than that with which the news of the
massacre itself had been received. It was tie one thing still wanting to
damage the royal cause. Charles, it is true, denied it stoutly, and the
English royalists tried to accept the denial. The Irish ones knew
better. Ormond, whose own honour was untouched, did what he could to
save his king's. The Confederates, however, admitted it openly, and
Glamorgan, after suffering a short and purely fictitious imprisonment,
remained in Ireland to carry out his master's orders.

The already crowded confusion of the scene there had lately been added
to by a new actor. Rinucini, Archbishop of Fermo, had been despatched by
Pope Innocent X. as his nuncio, and at once threw himself into the
struggle. To him it narrowed itself to one point. The moment, he felt,
had now come for the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in
Ireland, and if possible for its union with one of the Catholic Powers
of Europe, and in order to achieve this object, his great aim was to
hinder, if possible, anything like a reconciliation between the Catholic
insurgents and the king.

Meanwhile, peace had been made in England. Charles was a prisoner, and
the final acts of that drama in which he plays so strangely mixed a part
were shortly to be enacted. In Ireland there was no pretence at peace.
On the contrary, it was only then that hostilities seem really to have
been carried on with vigour. At a battle fought upon June 4, 1646, near
Benturb, Owen O'Neill had defeated Munroe and his Scottish forces with
great slaughter, and from that moment the whole north was in his power.
In the south Rinucini was rushing from town to town and pulpit to
pulpit, fiercely arousing all the Catholic animosity of the country
against both English parties alike. In this he was supported by Owen
O'Neill, who, with his victorious army, hastened south to meet him.
Together the chief and the legate marched in September of the same year
into Kilkenny; took possession of the Council Chamber; flung the
Moderates assembled there, including old Lord Mountgarret and the rest
of the Council, into prison. Ormond was in Dublin, helpless to meet this
new combination. No orders came from England. The royal cause seemed to
be hopelessly lost. All Ireland was swarming with the troops of the
insurgents. Lord Inchiquin, who had for a while declared for the king,
had now gone over to the Parliament. O'Neill and the legate's army was
daily gathering strength. It needed but a little more energy on their
part and Dublin itself, with all its helpless crowd of fugitives, must
fall into their hands.

In this dilemma Ormond came to a resolution. To throw in his lot with
Rinucini and the rebels of the north, stained as the latter were in his
eyes with innocent blood, was impossible. Even had they been disposed to
combine heartily with him for the royal cause he could hardly have done
so; as it was there was barely a pretence of any such intention. If
Charles could effect his escape and would put himself in their hands,
then, indeed, they said they would support him. In that case, however,
it would have been as king of Ireland rather than England. Ormond could
not and would not stoop to any such negotiations. He wrote to the
English Parliament offering to surrender Dublin into their hands, and to
leave the country. The offer was accepted, and a month later he had
relinquished the impossible post, and joined the other escaped Royalists
in France.



The indescribable confusion of aims and parties in Ireland begins at
this point to take even more rapid and perplexing turns. That "poor
panther Inchiquin," as one of his opponents derisively calls him, who
had already made one bound from king to Parliament, now, upon some fresh
offence, bounded back again, and made overtures to Preston and the
Moderates. Rinucini, whose only policy was to hinder any union between
the Catholics and Royalists, thereupon fled to O'Neill, and together
they opposed the Moderates tooth and nail. The latter were now seriously
anxious to make terms with the Royalists. The king's trial was
beginning, and his peril served to consolidate all but the most extreme.
Ormond himself returned late in 1648 from France; Prince Rupert arrived
early the following year with a small fleet of ships off Kinsale, and
every day brought crowds of loyal gentlemen to Ireland as to a final
vantage ground upon which to try a last desperate throw for the
royal cause.

In Dublin the command, upon Ormond's surrender, had been given by the
Parliament to Colonel Michael Jones, a Puritan officer, who had greatly
distinguished himself in the late war. The almost ludicrously involved
state into which things had got is seen by the fact that Jones, though
himself the leader of the Parliamentary forces, struck up at this
juncture a temporary alliance with O'Neill, and instructed Monk who was
in the north, to support him. The king's death brought all the
Royalists, and most of the more moderate rebels into line at last.
Rinucini, feeling that whatever happened, his project of a separate
Ireland had become impossible, fled to Italy. Even O'Neill, finding that
his alliance with Jones was not prospering, and that the stricter
Puritans declined with horror the bare idea of holding any communication
with him or his forces, gave in his adhesion. Old Irish and Anglo-Irish,
Protestant and Catholic, North and South, all at last were in arms for
the king.

The struggle had thus narrowed itself. It was now practically between
Dublin, commanded by Jones, the Parliamentary general, upon one side,
and all Ireland under Ormond and the now united Confederates on the
other. Cromwell, it was known, was preparing for a descent upon Ireland,
and had issued liberal offers of the forfeited Irish lands to all who
would aid him in the enterprise. He had first, however, to land, and
there was nowhere that he could do so excepting at Dublin or
Londonderry. All the efforts therefore of the Royalists were
concentrated upon taking the capital before it became the starting-point
of a new campaign. Marching hastily from Kilkenny, Ormond established
himself at a place called Baggotrath, near Rathmines, and close to the
walls of the town. Two nights after his arrival he sent forward a body
of men under Colonel Purcell to try and effect a surprise. Jones,
however, was on the alert; drove Purcell back, and, following him with
all the men at his command, fell upon Ormond's camp, where no proper
watch was being kept. The surprise was thus completely reversed. Six
thousand of the confederate troops were killed or forced to surrender,
and Ormond, with the remainder, had to fall back upon Kilkenny.

[Illustration: JAMES, DUKE OF ORMOND. (_From an engraving by White,
after a picture by Kneller_.)]

The battle of Baggotrath does not figure amongst the more famous battles
of this period, but it was certainly the turning-point of the Irish
campaign. With his crippled forces, Ormond was unable again to take the
field, and Jones was therefore left in undisputed possession of Dublin.
A week later, in August, 1649, Cromwell had landed there with 12,000
troops at his back.



Cromwell had hardly set foot upon Irish soil before he took complete
control of the situation. The enterprise, in his own eyes and in those
of many who accompanied him, wore all the sacred hue of a crusade. "We
are come," he announced, solemnly, upon his arrival in Dublin, "to ask
an account of the innocent blood that hath been shed, and to endeavour
to bring to an account all who, by appearing in arms, shall justify
the same."

Three thousand troops, the flower of the English cavaliers, with some of
the Royalists of the Pale--none of whom, it may be said, had anything to
say to the Ulster massacres--had been hastily thrown by Ormond into
Drogheda, under Sir Arthur Ashton, a gallant Royalist officer; and to
Drogheda, accordingly in September Cromwell marched. Summoned to yield,
the garrison refused. They were attacked, and fought desperately,
driving back their assailants at the first assault. At the second, a
breach was made in the walls, and Ashton and his force were driven into
the citadel. "Being thus entered," Cromwell's despatch to the Parliament
runs, "we refused them quarter. I believe we put to the sword the whole
number of the defendents. I do not think thirty escaped. Those that did
are in safe custody for the Barbadoes.... I wish," he adds, a little
later in the same despatch, "all honest hearts may give the glory of
this to God alone."

From Drogheda, the Lord-General turned south to Wexford. Here an equally
energetic defence was followed by an equally successful assault, and
this also by a similar drama of slaughter. "There was lost of the
enemy," he himself writes, "not many less than two thousand; and, I
believe, not twenty of yours from first to last." The soldiers, he goes
on to say, "got a very good booty in this place." Of "the former
inhabitants ... most of them are run away, and many of them killed in
this service. It were to be wished that some honest people would come
and plant here[12]."

[12] "Cromwell's Letters and Speeches"--Carlyle.

The grim candour of these despatches needs no comment. We see the whole
situation with that vividness which only a relation at first hand ever
gives. The effect of these two examples was instantaneous. Most of the
other towns surrendered upon the first summons. The Irish army fell back
in all directions. An attempt was made to save Kilkenny, but after a
week's defence it was surrendered. The same thing happened at Clonmel,
and within a few months of his arrival nearly every strong place, except
Waterford and Limerick, were in the Lord-General's hands.

That Cromwell, from his own point of view, was justified in these
proceedings, and that he held himself--even when slaughtering English
Royalists in revenge for the acts of Irish rebels--a divinely-appointed
agent sent to execute justice upon the ungodly, there can be little
doubt. As regards ordinary justice his conduct was exemplary. Unlike
most of the armies that had from time to time ravaged Ireland, he
allowed no disorder. His soldiers were forbidden by proclamation to
plunder, and were hanged, "in ropes of authentic hemp," as Carlyle
remarks, when they did so. The merciless slaughter of two entire
garrisons is a hideous deed, and a deed, too, which appeals with
peculiar force to the popular imagination. As compared to many acts
perpetrated from time to time in Ireland, it seems, if one examines it
coolly, to fade into comparative whiteness, and may certainly be
paralleled elsewhere. A far deeper and more ineffaceable stain rests--as
will be seen in another chapter--upon Cromwell's rule in Ireland; one,
moreover, not so readily justified by custom or any grim necessities
of warfare.

The final steps by which the struggle was crushed out were comparatively
tedious. Cromwell's men were attacked by that "country sickness" which
seems at that time to have been inseparable from Irish campaigns.
Writing from Ross in November, he says, "I scarce know one officer
amongst us who has not been sick." His own presence, too, was urgently
required in England, so that he was forced before long to set sail,
leaving the completion of the campaign in the hands of others.

In the Royalist camp, the state of affairs was meanwhile absolutely
desperate. The Munster colonists had gone over almost to a man to the
enemy. The "panther Inchiquin" had taken another bound in the same
direction. The quarrels between Ormond and the old Irish party had grown
bitterer than ever The hatred of the extreme Catholic party towards him
appears to have been if anything rather deeper than their hatred to
Cromwell, and all the recent disasters were charged by them to his want
of generalship. The young king had been announced at one moment to be
upon the point of arriving in person in Ireland. "One must go and die
there, for it is shameful to live elsewhere!" he is reported to have
cried, with a depth of feeling very unlike his usual utterances. He got
as far as Jersey, but there paused. Ireland under Cromwell's rule was
not exactly a pleasant royal residence, and, on the whole, he appears to
have thought it wiser to go no further.

His signature, a year later, of the Covenant, in return for the Scotch
allegiance, brought about a final collapse of the always thinly cemented
pact in Ireland. The old Catholic party thereupon broke wholly away from
Ormond, and after a short struggle he was again driven into exile. From
this time forward, there was no longer a royal party of any sort left in
the country.

Under Hugh O'Neill, a cousin of Owen Roe, who--fortunately, perhaps, for
himself--had died shortly after Cromwell's arrival, the struggle was
carried on for some time longer. As in later times, Limerick was one of
the last places to yield. Despite the evident hopelessness of the
struggle, Hugh O'Neill and his half-starved men held it with a courage
which awoke admiration even amongst the Cromwellians. When it was
surrendered the Irish officers received permission to take service
abroad. Galway, with a few other towns and castles, which still held
out, now surrendered. The eight years' civil war was at last over, and
nothing remained for the victors to do but to stamp out the last sparks,
and call upon the survivors to pay the forfeit.




The total loss of life during-those weary eight years of war and anarchy
has been estimated at no less than six hundred thousand lives, and there
seems to be no reason to think that these figures are exaggerated.
Whereas in 1641 the population of Ireland was nearly one and a half
millions, at the end of 1649 it was considerably under one. More than a
third, therefore, of the entire population had disappeared bodily.

Nor were the survivors left in peace to bind up their wounds and mourn
their slain. In England, once the fighting was over, and the swords
sheathed, there was little desire to carry the punishment further; and
the vanquished were, for the most part, able to retire in more or less
melancholy comfort to their homes. In Ireland the reverse was the case.
There the struggle had been complicated by a bitterness unknown
elsewhere, and had aroused a keen and determined thirst for vengeance,
one which the cessation of hostilities only seemed to stimulate into
greater vehemence.

The effect, especially amongst the Puritans, of the Ulster massacres,
far from dying out, had grown fiercer and bitterer with every year. Now
that the struggle was over, that Ireland lay like an inert thing in the
hands of her victors, her punishment, it was resolved, should begin. Had
that punishment fallen only on the heads of those who could be proved to
have had any complicity in that deed of blood there would not have been
a word to say. Sir Phelim O'Neill was dragged from the obscurity to
which ever since the coming of Owen Roe he had been consigned, tried in
Dublin, and hanged--with little regret even from his own side. Lord
Mayo, who had taken a prominent part in the rising, and was held
responsible for a horrible massacre perpetrated at Shrule Bridge, near
Tuam, was shot in Connaught. Lord Muskerry was tried, and honourably
acquitted. Other trials took place, chiefly by court-martial, and though
some of these appear to have been unduly pressed, on the whole,
considering the state of feelings that had been awakened, it may be
allowed that so far stern justice had not outstepped her province.

It was very different with what was to follow. An enormous scheme of
eviction had been planned by Cromwell which was to include all the
native and nearly all the Anglo-Irish inhabitants of Ireland, with the
exception of the humblest tillers of the soil, who were reserved as
serfs or servants. This was a scheme of nothing less than the
transportation of all the existing Catholic landowners of Ireland, who,
at a certain date, were ordered to quit their homes, and depart in a
body into Connaught, there to inhabit a narrow desolate tract, between
the Shannon and the sea, destitute, for the most part, of houses or any
accommodation for their reception; where they were to be debarred from
entering any walled town, and where a cordon of soldiers was to be
stationed to prevent their return. May 1, 1654, was the date fixed for
this national exodus, and all who after that date were found east of the
appointed line were to suffer the penalty of death.

The dismay awakened when the magnitude of this scheme burst upon the
unhappy country may easily be conceived. Delicate ladies, high-born men
and women, little children, the old, the sick, the suffering--all were
included in this common disaster; all were to share alike in this vast
and universal sentence of banishment. Resistance, too, was hopeless.
Everything that could be done in the way of resistance had already been
done, and the result was visible. The Irish Parliament had ceased to
exist. A certain number of its Protestant members had been transferred
by Cromwell to the English one,--thus anticipating the Union that was to
come a century and a half later. The whole government of the country was
at present centred in a board of commissioners, who sat in Dublin, and
whose direct interest it was to hasten the exodus as much as possible.

For the new owners, who were to supplant those about to be ejected, were
ready and waiting to step into their places. The Cromwellian soldiers
who had served in the war had all received promises of grants of land,
and their pay, now several years due, was also to be paid to them in the
same coin. The intention was, that they were to be marched down regiment
by regiment, and company by company, to ground already chosen for them
by lot, then and there disbanded, and put into possession. A vast
Protestant military colony was thus to be established over the whole of
the eastern provinces. In addition to these an immense number of English
speculators had advanced money upon Irish lands, and were now eagerly
waiting to receive their equivalent.

As the day drew nearer, there arose all over Ireland a wild plea for
time, for a little breathing time before being driven into exile. The
first summons had gone out in the autumn, and had been proclaimed by
beat of drum and blast of trumpet all over the country, and as the 1st
of May began to approach the plea grew more and more urgent. So evident
was the need for delay that some, even among the Parliamentarians, were
moved to pity, and urged that a little more time might be granted. The
command to "root out the heathen" was felt to be imperative, but even
the heathen might be allowed a little time to collect his goods, and to
provide some sort of a roof to shelter him in this new and forlorn home
to which he was being sent.

It happened, too, that some of the first batches of exiles were ordered
into North Clare, to a district known as the Burren, whose peculiarity
is that what little soil is to be found there has collected into rifts
below the surface, or accumulated into pockets of earth at the feet of
the hills, leaving the rest of the surface sheer rock, the very streams,
whose edges would otherwise be green, being mostly carried underground.
The general appearance of the region has been vividly described by one
of the commissioners engaged in carrying out this very act of
transplantation, who, writing back to Dublin for further instructions,
informs his superiors that the region in question did not possess "water
enough to drown a man, trees enough to hang a man, or earth enough to
bury a man." It may be conceived what an effect such a region, so
described, must have had upon men fresh from the fertile and flourishing
pasture-lands of Meath and Kildare. Many turned resolutely back,
preferring rather to die than to attempt life under such new and
hopeless conditions, and stern examples had to be made before the
unwilling emigrants were at last fairly got underweigh.

Yet even such exile as this was better than the lot of some. The wives
and families of the Irish officers and soldiers who had been allowed to
go into foreign service, had, of necessity, been left behind, and a
considerable number of these, the Government now proceeded to ship in
batches to the West Indies to be sold as slaves. Several thousand women,
ladies and others, were thus seized and sold by dealers, often without
any individual warrant, and it was not until after the accidental
seizure of some of the wives of the Cromwellian soldiers that the
traffic was put under regulations. Cromwell's greatness needs no
defence, but the slaughter of the garrisons of Drogheda and Wexford,
reckoned amongst the worst blemishes upon that greatness, pales beside
such an act as this; one which would show murkily even upon the
blackened record of an Alva or a Pizarro.

Slowly the long trains of exiles began now to pour out in all
directions. Herds of cattle, horses laden with furniture, with food,
with all the everyday necessities of such a multitude accompanied them.
All across that wide limestone plain, which covers the centre of
Ireland, innumerable family groups were to be seen slowly streaming
west. There were few roads, and those few very bad. Hardly a wheeled
conveyance of any sort existed in the country. Those who were too weak
to walk or to ride had to be carried on men's backs or in horse litters.
The confusion, the misery, the cold, the wretchedness may be conceived,
and always behind, urging them on, rebuking the loiterers, came the
armed escort sent to drive them into exile--Puritan seraphs, with drawn
swords, set to see that none returned whence they came!

Nor was there even any marked satisfaction amongst those who inherited
the lands and houses thus left vacant. Many of the private soldiers who
had received bonds or debentures for their share of the land, had parted
with them long since, either to their own officers or to the trafficers
in such bonds, who had sprang up by hundreds, and who obtained them from
the needy soldiers often for a mere trifle. Sharp-sighted speculators
like Dr. Petty, by whom the well-known Survey of Ireland was made,
acquired immense tracts of land at little or no outlay. Of those
soldiers, too, who did receive grants of land many left after a while.
Others, despite all regulations to the contrary, married Irish wives,
and their children in the next generation were found to have not only
become Roman Catholics, but to be actually unable to speak a word of
English. Many, too, of the dispossessed proprietors, the younger ones
especially, continued to hang about, and either harassed the new owners
and stole their goods, or made friends with them, and managed after a
while to slip back upon some excuse into their old homes. No sternness
of the Puritan leaven availed to hinder the new settlers from being
absorbed into the country, as other and earlier settlers had been
absorbed before them; marrying its daughters, adopting its ways, and
becoming themselves in time Irishmen. The bitter memory of that vast and
wholesale act of eviction has remained, but the good which it was hoped
would spring from it faded away almost within a generation.



Cromwell was now dead, and after a very short attempt at government his
son Richard had relinquished the reins and retired into private life.
Henry Cromwell, who had for several years been Lord-Lieutenant in
Ireland, and had won no little liking by his mild and equable rule, also
honourably resigned at the same time, and left. Coote, on the other
hand, and Broghill, both of whom had acquired immense estates under the
Cromwellian rule, were amongst the foremost to hail the Restoration, and
to secure their own interests by being eager to welcome the king. Such
secular vicars of Bray were not likely to suffer whatever king or
government came uppermost.

To the exiled proprietors, who had fought for that king's father and for
himself, it naturally seemed that the time had come for their sufferings
and exile to end. Now that the king had been restored to his own again,
they who had been punished for his sake should also, they thought, in
fairness, again enjoy what had been theirs before the war.

[Illustration: HENRY CROMWELL, LORD-LIEUTENANT FROM 1657 TO 1660. (_From
a Mezzotint_.)]

Charles's position, it must be acknowledged, was a very difficult one.
Late found as it was, the loyalty of Coote, Broghill, and others of
their stamp had been eminently convenient, as without it the army in
Ireland would hardly have returned to its allegiance. To deprive them of
what they had acquired was felt to be out of the question, and the same
argument applied, with no little force, to many of the other newly-made
proprietors. The feeling, too, against the Irish Catholics was far from
having died out in England, and anything like a wholesale ejection of
the new Protestant settlers for their benefit, would have been very
badly received there.

On the other hand, decency and the commonest sense of honour required
that something should be done. Ormond, who had been made a duke, was at
once reinstated in his own lands, with a handsome additional slice as a
recompense for his services. A certain number of other great proprietors
and lords of the Pale, a list of whom was rather capriciously made out,
were also immediately reinstated. For the rest, more tardy and less
satisfactory justice was to be meted.

A Court of Claims was set up in Dublin to try the cases of those who
claimed, during the late war, to have been upon the king's side. Those
who could prove their entire innocence of the original rebellion were to
be at once reinstated; those, on the other hand, who were in arms before
'49, or who had been at any time joined to the party of Rinucini, or had
held any correspondence, even accidentally, with that party, were to be
excluded, and if they had received lands in Connaught might stay there
and be thankful.

A wearisome period of endless dispute, chicanery, and wrangling followed
this decision. As the soldiers and adventurers were only to be
dispossessed in case of a sufficiency of reserved lands being found to
compensate them, it followed that the fewer of the original proprietors
that could prove their loyalty the better for the Government. At the
first sitting of the Court of Claims the vast majority of those whose
cases were tried were able thus to prove their innocence; and as all
these had a claim to be reinstated, great alarm was felt, and a clamour
of indignation arose from the new proprietors, at which the Government,
taking alarm, made short work of many of the remaining claims, whereupon
a fresh, and certainly not less reasonable, clamour was raised upon the
other side.

The end of the long-drawn struggle may be stated in a few words. The
soldiers, adventures, and debenture holders agreed at length to accept
two-thirds of their land, and to give up the other third, and on this
arrangement, by slow degrees, the country settled down. As a net result
of the whole settlement we find that, whereas before '41 the Irish Roman
Catholics had held two-thirds of the good land and all the waste, after
the Restoration they held only one-third in all, and this, too, after
more than two millions of acres previously forfeited had been
restored to them.



No class of the community suffered more severely from the effects of the
Restoration than the Presbyterians of Ulster. The church party which had
returned to Ireland upon the crest of the new wave signalized its return
by a violent outburst of intolerance directed not so much against the
Papists as the Nonconformists. Of the 300,000 Protestants, which was
roughly speaking the number calculated to be at that time in Ireland,
fully a third were Presbyterians, another 100,000 being made up of
Puritans and other Nonconformists, leaving only one-third Churchmen.
Against the two former, but especially against the Presbyterians, the
terrors of the law were now put in force. A new Act of Uniformity was
passed, and armed with this, the bishops with Bramhall, the Primate, at
their head, insisted upon an acceptance of the Prayer-book being
enforced upon all who were permitted to hold any benefice, or to teach
or preach in any church or public place.

The result was that the Presbyterians were driven away in crowds from
Ireland. Out of seventy ministers in Ulster, only eight accepted the
terms and were ordained; all the remainder were expelled, and their
flocks in many cases elected to follow them into exile.

This persecution was the more monstrous that no hint or pretext of
disloyalty was urged against them. They had been planted in the country
as a defence and breakwater against the Roman Catholics, and now the
same intolerance which had, in a great measure forced the latter to
rebel, was in its turn being brought to bear upon them.

The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, now found themselves indulged to
a degree that they had not experienced for nearly a century. The penal
laws at the special instance of the king were suspended in their favour.
Many of the priests returned, and were allowed to establish themselves
in their old churches. They could not do so, however, without violent
alarm being awakened upon the other side. The Irish Protestants
remonstrated angrily, and their indignation found a vehement echo in
England. The '41 massacre was still as fresh in every Protestant's mind
as if it had happened only the year before, and suspicion of Rome was a
passion ready at any moment to rise to frenzy.

The heir to the Crown was a Papist, and Charles was himself strongly,
and not unreasonably suspected of being secretly one also. His alliance
with Louis XIV" was justifiably regarded with the utmost suspicion and
dislike by all his Protestant subjects. It only wanted a spark to set
this mass of smouldering irritation and suspicion into a flame.

That spark was afforded by the murder of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, under
circumstances which were at first believed to point to its having been
committed by Papists. A crowd of perjured witnesses, with Titus Gates at
their head, sprang like evil birds of the night into existence, ready to
swear away the lives of any number of innocent men. The panic flew
across the Channel. Irish Roman Catholics of all classes and ages were
arrested and flung into prison. Priests who had ventured to return were
ordered to quit the country at once. Men of stainless honour, whose only
crime was their faith, were on no provocation seized and subjected to
the most ignominious treatment, and in several instances put to death.

The case of Dr. Plunkett, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, a man
whom even Protestants regarded with the utmost reverence, is the most
notorious of these. Upon a ridiculous charge of being implicated in a
wholly mythical French descent, he was dragged over to London, summarily
sentenced, convicted, and hung, drawn, and quartered. Although the most
eminent, he was only one, however, of the victims of this most insane of
panics. Reason seemed to have been utterly lost. Blood and blood alone
could satisfy the popular craving, and victim after victim was hurried,
innocent but unpitied, to his doom.

At last the tide stayed. First slackened, then suddenly--in Ireland at
least--reversed itself, and ran almost as recklessly and as violently as
ever, only in the opposite direction. In 1685 Charles died, and James
now king, resolved with hardly an attempt at further concealment to
carry out his own long-cherished plans. From the beginning of his reign
his private determination seems to have been to make Ireland a
stronghold and refuge for his Roman Catholic subjects, in order that by
their aid he might make himself independent both of England and the
Parliament, and so carry out that despotism upon which his whole narrow,
obstinate soul was inflexibly set.

His first step was to recall the Duke of Ormond, whom Charles had left
as Viceroy, and to appoint in his place two Lords Justices, Lord Granard
and the Primate Boyle, who were likely, he believed, to be more
malleable. All tests were to be immediately done away with. Catholicism
was no longer to be a disqualification for office, and Roman Catholics
were to be appointed as judges. A more important change still, the army
was to be entirely remodelled; Protestant officers were to be summarily
dismissed, and Roman Catholic ones as summarily put in their places.

Such sweeping changes could not, even James found, be carried out all at
once. The Lords Justices were next dismissed, and his own
brother-in-law, Lord Clarendon, sent over as Lord-Lieutenant. He in turn
proving too timid, or too constitutional, his place was before long
filled by Richard Talbot, a fervent Catholic, but a man of indifferent
public honour and more than indifferent private character. Talbot was
created Earl of Tyrconnel, and arrived in 1686 avowedly to carry out the
new policy.

From this point the stream ran fast and strong. The recent innovations,
especially the re-organization of the army, had naturally caused immense
alarm amongst the whole Protestant colony. A petition drawn out by the
former proprietors and forwarded to the king against the Act of
Settlement had made them tremble also for their estates, and now this
new appointment came to put a climax to their dismay. What might not be
expected they asked in terror, under a man so unscrupulous and so
bigoted, with an army, too, composed mainly of Roman Catholics at his
back to enforce his orders? The departure of Clarendon was thus the
signal for a new Protestant exodus. Wild reports of a general massacre,
one which was to surpass the massacre of '41, flew through the land.
Terrified people flocked to the sea-coast and embarked in any boat they
could find for England. Those that remained behind drew themselves
together for their own defence within barricaded houses, and in the
towns in the north, especially in Enniskillen and Londonderry, the
Protestant inhabitants closed their gates and made ready to withstand
a siege.

Meanwhile in Dublin sentences of outlawry were fast being reversed, and
the estates of the Protestants being restored in all directions to their
former proprietors. The charters of the corporate towns were next
revoked, and new (by preference Catholic) aldermen and mayors appointed
by the viceroy. All Protestants were ordered to give up their arms by a
certain day, and to those who did not, "their lives and goods," it was
announced, "should be at the mercy and discretion of the soldiers."
These soldiers, now almost exclusively Catholic, lived at free quarters
upon the farms and estates of the Protestants. "Tories," lately out
"upon their keeping," with prices upon their heads, were now officers in
the king's service. The property of Protestants was seized all over the
country, their houses taken possession of, their sheep and cattle
slaughtered by hundreds of thousands. All who could manage to escape
made for the north, where the best Protestant manhood of the country had
now gathered together, and was standing resolutely in an attitude of

In England, William of Orange had meanwhile landed in Torbay, and James
had fled precipitately to France. Tyrconnel, who seems to have been
unprepared for this event, hesitated at first, undecided what to do or
how matters would eventually shape themselves. He even wrote to William,
professing to be rather favourable than otherwise to his cause, a
profession which the king, who was as yet anything but firm in his own
seat, seems to have listened to with some belief, and General Richard
Hamilton was sent over by him to negotiate matters with the viceroy.

The passions awakened on both sides were far too strong however, for any
such temporizing. Louis XIV. had received James upon his flight with
high honour, and his return to the throne was believed by his own
adherents to be imminent. In England, especially in London, the
excitement against the Irish Catholics was prodigious, and had been
increased by the crowd of Protestant refugees who had recently poured
in. The Irish regiments brought to England by James had been insultingly
disbanded, and their officers put under arrest. "Lilibullero," the
anti-Catholic street song, was sung by thousands of excited lips. Lord
Jefferies, who embodied in his own person all that the popular hatred
most detested in his master's rule, had been dragged to prison amid the
threatening howls of the populace. The "Irish night," during
which--though without the faintest shadow of reason--the London citizens
had fully believed an Irish mob to be in the act of marching upon the
town, with the set purpose of massacring every Protestant man, woman,
and child in it, had worked both town and nation to the highest possible
pitch of excitement. In Ireland too the stream had gone too far and too
fast to turn back. The minority and the majority stood facing one
another like a pair of pugilists. The Protestants, whose property had
been either seized or wasted, were fast concentrating themselves behind
Lough Foyle. Thither Tyrconnel sent Richard Hamilton--who, deserting
William, had thrown himself upon the other side--with orders to reduce
Londonderry before aid could arrive from England. To James himself
Tyrconnel wrote, urging him to start for Ireland without delay. Though
unprepared at present to furnish soldiers, Louis was munificent in other
respects. A fleet of fourteen men-of-war, with nine smaller vessels, was
provided. Arms, ammunition, and money without stint were placed at the
command of the exile, and a hundred French officers with the Count
d'Avaux, one of the king's most trusted officials, as envoy, were sent
to accompany the expedition. On March 12, 1689, James II. landed
at Kinsale.



James's appearance in Ireland was hailed with a little deserved burst of
enthusiasm. As a king, as a Catholic, and as a man in deep misfortune,
he had a triple claim upon the kindly feeling of a race never slow to
respond to such appeals. All along the road from Cork to Dublin the
people ran out out in crowds to greet him with tears, blessings, and
cries of welcome. Women thronged the banks along the roadsides, and held
up their children to see him go by. Flowers--as to the poor quality of
which it was hardly worth Lord Macaulay's while, by the way, to speak so
disparagingly--were offered for his acceptance, or strewn under his
feet. Every mark of devotion which a desperately poor country could show
was shown without stint. Accompanied by the French ambassador, amid a
group of English exiles, and advancing under a waving roof of flags and
festoons, hastily improvised in his honour, the least worthy of the
Stuarts arrived in Dublin, and took up his residence at the castle.

His sojourn there was certainly no royal bed of roses! The dissensions
between his English and his Irish followers were not only deep, but
ineffaceable. By each the situation was regarded solely from the
standpoint of his own country. Was James to remain in Ireland and to be
an Irish king? or was he merely to use Ireland as a stepping-stone to
England? Between two such utterly diverse views no point of union was

In the interests of his own master, D'Avaux, the French envoy, strongly
supported Tyrconnel and the Irish leaders. The game of France was less
to replace James on the English throne than to make of Ireland a
permanent thorn in the side of England. With this view he urged James to
remain in Dublin, where he would necessarily be more under the direct
control of the parliament. James, however declined this advice, and
persisted in going north, where he would be within a few hours' sail of
Great Britain. Once Londonderry had fallen (and it was agreed upon all
hands that Londonderry could not hold out much longer), he could at any
moment cross to Scotland, where it was believed that his friends would
at once rally around him.

But Londonderry showed no symptoms of yielding. In April, 1689, James
appeared before its walls, believing that he had only to do so to
receive its submission. He soon found his mistake. Lundy, its governor,
was ready indeed to surrender it into his hands, but the townsfolk
declined the bargain, and shut their gates resolutely in the king's
face. Lundy escaped for his life over the walls, and James, in disgust,
returned to Dublin, leaving the conduct of the siege in the hands of
Richard Hamilton, who was afterwards superseded in the command by De
Rosen, a Muscovite in the pay of France, who prosecuted it with a
barbarity unknown to the annals of civilized warfare.

The tale of that heroic defence has been so told that it need assuredly
never, while the world lasts, be told again. Suffice it then that
despite the falseness of its governor, the weakness of its walls, the
lack of any military training on the part of its defenders; despite the
treacherous dismissal of the first ships sent to its assistance; despite
the long agony of seeing other ships containing provisions hanging
inertly at the mouth of the bay; despite shot and shell without, and
famine in its most grisly forms within--despite all this the little
garrison held gallantly on to the "last ounce of horse-flesh and the
last pinch of corn." At length, upon the 105th day of the siege, three
ships, under Kirke's command, broke through the boom in the channel, and
brought their freights in safety to the starved and ghastly defenders,
gathered like ghosts, rather than human beings, upon the quay. Three
days later De Rosen broke up his camp, and moved off in disgust, leaving
behind him the little city, exhausted but triumphant, having saved the
honour of its walls, and won itself imperishable fame.

While all this was going on in the north, James, in Dublin, had been
busily employed in deluging the country with base money to supply his
own necessities, with the natural result of ruining all who were forced
to accept it. At the same time the Parliament under his nominal
superintendence had settled down to the congenial task of reversing most
of the earlier Acts, and putting everything upon an entirely new
footing. It was a Parliament composed, as was natural, almost wholly of
Roman Catholics, only six Protestants having been returned. Its first
task was to repeal Poynings Act, the Act, which, it will be remembered,
was passed in Henry VII.'s reign, binding it independence upon the
English Parliament. Its next to establish freedom of worship, giving the
Roman Catholic tithes to the priests. So far no objections could
reasonably be raised. Next, however, followed the question of
forfeitures. The hated Act of Settlement, upon which all property in
Ireland was now based, was set aside, and it was setted that all lands
should revert to their former proprietors. Then followed the punishment
of the political adversaries. "The hugest Bill of attainder," says Mr.
Green, "the world has seen," was hastily drawn up and passed. By its
provisions over 2,240 persons were attained, and everything that they
possessed vested in the king. Many so attained were either women or
young children, indeed a large proportion of the names seem to have been
inserted at haphazard or from some merely momentary feeling of anger or

These Acts were perhaps only what is called natural, but it must be
owned that they were also terribly unfortunate. Up to that date those
directly penal laws against Catholics which afterwards disfigured the
statute book were practically unknown. A Catholic could sit in either
Irish House of Parliament; he could inherit lands, and bequeath them to
whom he would; he could educate his children how and where he liked. The
terror planted in the breast of the Protestant colony by that
inoperative piece of legislation found its voice in the equally violent,
but unfortunately not equally inoperative, passed Acts by them in the
hour of _their_ triumph. Acts, by means of which it was fondly hoped
that their enemies would be thrown into such a position of dependence
and humiliation that they could never again rise up to be a peril.

In the north a brilliant little victory had meanwhile been won by the
Enniskillen troops under Colonel Wolseley, at Newtown Butler, where they
attacked a much larger force of the enemy and defeated them, killing a
large number and driving the rest back in confusion. William was still
detained in England, but had despatched the Duke of Schomberg with a
considerable force. Schomberg's men, were mostly raw recruits, and the
climate tried them severely. He arrived in the autumn, but not venturing
to take the field, established himself at Dundalk, where his men
misbehaved and all but mutinied, and where, a pestilence shortly
afterwards breaking out, swept them away in multitudes.

On both sides, indeed, the disorganization of the armies was great.
Fresh reinforcements had arrived for James, under the Comte de Lauzan,
in return for which an equal number of Irish soldiers under Colonel
Macarthy had been drafted for service to France. In June, 1690, William
himself landed at Carrickfergus with an army of 35,000 men, composed of
nearly every nationality in Europe--Swedes, Dutch, Swiss, Batavians,
French Huguenots, Finns, with about 15,000 English soldiers. He came up
to James's army upon the banks of the Boyne, about twenty miles from
Dublin, and here it was that the turning battle of the campaign
was fought.

This battle James watched at a discreet distance from the hill of
Donore. The Irish foot, upon whom the brunt of the action fell, were
untrained, indifferently armed, and had never before been in action;
their opponents were veterans trained in European wars. They were driven
back, fled, and a considerable number of them slaughtered. The Irish
cavalry stood firm, but their valour was powerless to turn the day.
Schomberg was killed, but William remained absolute and undisputed
master of the field.

At the first shock of reverse James flew down the hill and betook
himself to Dublin. He arrived there foaming and almost convulsed with
rage. "Madam, your countrymen have run away!" was his gracious address
to Lady Tyrconnel. "If they have, sire, your Majesty seems to have won
the race," was that lady's ready retort.

The king's flight was without reason or measure. As before in England,
so now, he seemed to pass in a moment from insane self-confidence to an
equally insane panic. He fled south, ordering the bridges to be broken
down behind him; took boat at Waterford, and never rested until he found
himself once more safe upon French soil.

His flight at least left the field clear for better men. Patrick
Sarsfield now took the principal command, and prosecuted the campaign
with a vigour of which it had hitherto shown no symptoms. Sarsfield is
the one redeeming figure upon the Jacobite side. His gallant presence
sheds a ray of chivalric light upon this otherwise gloomiest and least
attractive of campaigns. He could not turn defeat to victory, but he
could, and did succeed in snatching honour out of that pit into which
the other leaders, and especially his master, had let it drop. Brave,
honourable, upright, "a gentleman of eminent merit," is praise which
even those least inclined to favour his side of the quarrel bestow upon
him without stint.

William, now established in Dublin, issued a proclamation offering full
and free pardon to all who would lay down their arms. He was genuinely
anxious to avoid pushing the struggle to the bitter end, and to hinder
further bloodshed. Though deserted by their king, and fresh from
overwhelming defeat, the Irish troops showed no disposition, however, of
yielding. Athlone, Galway, Cork, Kinsale, and Limerick still held out,
and behind the walls of the last named the remains of James's broken
army was now chiefly collected. Those walls, however, were miserably
weak, and the French generals utterly scouted the possibility of their
being held. Tyrconnel, too, advised a capitulation, but Sarsfield
insisted upon holding the town, and the Irish soldiers--burning to wipe
out the shame of the Boyne--supported him like one man. William was
known, to be moving south to the attack, and accordingly Lauzan and
Tyrconnel, with the rest of the French troops moved hastily away to
Galway, leaving Sarsfield to defend Limerick as he could.

They had hardly left before William's army appeared in sight with the
king himself at their head, and drew up before the walls. A formidable
siege train, sent after him from Dublin, was to follow in a day or two.
Had it arrived it would have finished the siege at once. Sarsfield
accordingly slipped out of the town under cover of night, fell upon it
while it was on its way through the Silvermine Hills in Tipperary,
killed some sixty of the men who were in charge, and filling the cannons
with powder, burst them with an explosion which startled the country
round for miles, and the roar of which is said to have reached William
in his camp before Limerick.

This brilliant little feat delayed the siege. Nevertheless it was
pressed on with great vigour. Two more guns were obtained, several of
the outworks carried, and a breach began to show in the ramparts. It was
now autumn, the rainy season was setting in, and William's presence was
urgently wanted in England. After another violent attempt, therefore, to
take the town, which was resisted with the most desperate valour, the
very women joining in the fight, and remaining under the hottest fire,
the besiegers drew off, and William shortly afterwards sailed for
England, leaving the command in the hands of Ginkel, the ablest of his
Dutch generals.

This first siege of Limerick is in many respects a very remarkable one,
and bears a close analogy to the yet more famous siege of Londonderry.
To give the parallel in Lord Macaulay's words--"The southern city," he
says "was, like the northern city, the last asylum of a Church and of a
nation. Both places were crowded by fugitives from all parts of Ireland.
Both places appeared to men who had made a regular study of the art of
war incapable of resisting an enemy.... In both cases, religious and
patriotic enthusiasm struggled unassisted against great odds; in both
cases, religious and patriotic enthusiasm did what veteran warriors had
pronounced it absurd to attempt."

In Galway, meanwhile, violent quarrels had broken out. The French troops
were sick, naturally enough, of the campaign, and not long afterwards
sailed for France. Their places were taken later on by another body of
French soldiers under General St. Ruth. St. Ruth was a man of cold,
disdainful temperament, but a good officer. He at once set to work at
the task of restoring order and getting the army into a condition to
take the field. Early in the spring Ginkel had collected his army in
Mullingar ready to march to the assault of Athlone, the ancient Norman
fortress, upon the bank of the Shannon, which was here spanned by a
single bridge. Upon Ginkel's advance this bridge was broken down, and
the besieged and besiegers were separated therefore by the breadth of
the river. After an unsuccessful attempt to repair the breach the Dutch
general resolved to ford the latter. As it happened the water was
unusually low, and although St. Ruth with a large force was at the time
only a mile away, he, unaccountably, made no attempt to defend the ford.
A party of Ginkel's men waded or swam across in the dark, caught the
broken end of the bridge, and held it till it was repaired. This done,
the whole English army poured across the river.

The struggle was now narrowing fast. Leaving Athlone Ginkel advanced to
Ballinasloe, so well-known now from its annual sheep fairs. The country
here is all but a dead flat, but the French general took advantage of
some rising ground on the slope of which stood the ruined castle of
Aughrim. Here the Irish were posted by him in force, one of those deep
brown bogs which cover so much of the surface of Galway lying at their
feet and surrounding them upon two sides.

The battle which broke at five o'clock the next morning was a desperate
one. Roused at last from his coldness St. Ruth appealed in the most
moving terms to the officers and men to fight for their religion, their
liberties, their honour. His appeal was gallantly responded to. A low
stone breast-work had been raised upon the hillside in front of the
Irish, and against this Ginkel's veterans again and again advanced to
the attack, and again and again were beaten back, broken and, in one
instance, chased down the hill on to the plain. St. Ruth broke into
vehement enthusiasm. "The day," he cried, waving his hat in the air, "is
ours, gentlemen!" A party of Huguenot cavalry, however, were presently
seen to be advancing across the bog so as to turn the flank of the Irish
army. It seemed to be impossible that they could get through, but the
ground was firmer than at first appeared, and some hurdles thrown down
in front of them formed a sort of rude causeway. St. Ruth flew to the
point of danger. On his way he was struck by a cannon ball which carried
off his head, and the army was thus left without a general. Sarsfield
was at some distance with the reserve. There was no one to give any
orders. The breast-work was carried. The Irish fought doggedly,
retreating slowly from enclosure to enclosure. At last, left to
themselves, with no one to direct or support them, they broke and fled
down the hill. Then followed a hideous butchery. Few or no prisoners
were taken, and the number of the slain is stated to have been "in
proportion to the number engaged greater than in any other battle of
that age." An eye-witness who looked from the hill the next day said
that the country for miles around was whitened with the naked bodies of
the slain. It looked, he remarked with grim vividness, like an immense
pasture covered with flocks of sheep!




Nothing was now left but Limerick. Galway had yielded immediately after
the day of Aughrim, its garrison claiming and obtaining the right of
marching out with all the honours of war. Tyrconnel was dying, and had
long lost, too, what little reputation he had ever had as a soldier.
Sarsfield, however, stood firm to the last. Fresh reinforcements were
hoped for from France, but none came until too late to be of any use.
The town was again invested and besieged. An English fleet held the
mouth of the Shannon so as to prevent any relief from coming to its aid.
From the middle of August to the end of September the siege went on, and
the walls, always weak, were riddled with shot and shell. Still it
showed no symptoms of submission. Ginkel, who was in command of
William's army, dreaded the approach of autumn, and had instructions
from his master to finish the campaign as rapidly as possible, and with
this end in view to offer good and honourable terms to the Irish. An
armistice accordingly was agreed to for three days, and before the three
days ended the famous "Articles of Limerick" were drawn up and signed by
Sarsfield on the one hand, and the Lords Justices, who had just arrived
in camp from Dublin, on the other.

The exact purport of these articles, and the extent to which they were
afterwards mutilated and perverted from their original meaning has been
hotly disputed, and is too large and complicated a question to enter
into here at any length. Suffice it to say, that they engaged that the
Roman Catholics of Ireland should enjoy the same privileges as they had
previously enjoyed in the reign of Charles II.; that they should be free
to follow the same trades and professions as before the war, and that
all who were in arms, having a direct commission from King James, "with
all _such as were under their protection_" should have a free pardon and
be left in undisputed ownership of their lands and other possessions.

It is over the clause placed in italics that controversy has waxed
fiercest. That it was in the first draft is admitted; that it was not in
the document itself is equally certain. Had it been intentionally or
accidentally excluded? is the question. William's own words were that it
had been "casually omitted by the writer." The evidence seems clear, yet
historians, who on other matters would hardly question his accuracy,
seem to think that in this instance he was mistaken. That his own mind
was clear on the point there can be little doubt, seeing that he made
the most honourable efforts to get the clause in question carried into
effect. In this he failed. Public opinion in England ran furiously
against the Irish Catholics, and the Parliament absolutely refused to
ratify it. The essential clause was accordingly struck out, and the
whole treaty soon became an absolute dead letter.

On the other hand, the military one, which was drawn up at the same time
and signed by the two generals, was carried honourably into effect. By
its terms it was agreed that such Irish officers and soldiers as desired
to go to France should be conveyed there, and in the meantime should
remain under the command of their own officers. Ginkel made strenuous
efforts to enlist the Irish troops in his master's service. Few,
however, agreed to accept his offer. A day was fixed for the election to
be made, and the Irish troops were passed in review. All who would take
service with William were directed to file off at a particular spot; all
who passed it were held to have thrown in their lot with France. The
long procession was watched with keen interest by the group of generals
looking on, but the decision was not long delayed. The vast majority
unhesitatingly elected exile, only about a thousand agreeing to take
service with William.

The most piteous part of the story remains. Sarsfield, with the soldiers
under him who had elected to go to France, withdrew into Limerick, and
the next day proceeded to Cork, where they were to embark. The news had,
in the meanwhile, spread, and the roads were covered with women rushing
to see the last of husbands, brothers, sons. Wives, mothers, and
children followed the departing exiles to the water's edge, imploring
with cries of agony not to be left behind. In the extremity of his pity
Sarsfield proclaimed that his soldiers might take their wives and
families with them to France. It was found utterly impossible, however,
to do so, since no transport could be provided for such a multitude.
Room was found for a few families, but the beach was still crowded with
those who had perforce to be left behind. As the boats pushed off the
women clung desperately to them, and several, refusing to let go, were
dragged out of their depth and drowned. A wild cry went up as the ships
began to move. The crowd rushed frantically along the shore from
headland to headland, following them with their eyes as long as they
remained in sight. When the last ship had dropped below the horizon, and
the dull autumn dusk had settled down over sea and shore, they dispersed
slowly to their desolate homes. Night and desolation must indeed have
seemed to have settled down for good upon Ireland.



We are now upon the brink of a century as full of strange fortunes for
Ireland as any that had preceded it, but in which those fortunes were
destined to take a widely different turn. In the two preceding ones
revolts and risings had, as we have seen, been the rule rather than the
exception. In this one from the beginning down to within a couple of
years of its close when a rebellion--which, in most impartial
historians' opinion, might with a little care have been averted--broke
the peace of the century, hardly a symptom of any disposition to appeal
to arms is discoverable. Two great Jacobite risings convulsed England;
the American revolt, so fraught with momentous consequences, was fought
and carried, but Ireland never stirred. The fighting element was gone.
It was in France, in Spain, in the Low Countries--scattered over half
the battlefields of Europe. The country which gave birth to these
fighters was quiet; a graveyard quiet, it may be said, but still
significant, if only by contrast with what had gone before.

One advantage which the student of this century has over others is that
it has been made the subject of a work which enables us to thread our
way through its mazes with what, in comparison to other periods may be
called ease. In his "History of the Eighteenth Century" Mr. Lecky has
done for the Ireland of one century what it is much to be desired some
one would hasten to do for the Ireland of all. He has broken down a
barrier of prejudice so solid and of such long standing that it seemed
to be invulnerable, and has proved that it is actually possible to be
just in two directions at once--a feat no previous historian of Ireland
can be said to have even attempted. This work, the final volume of which
has not yet appeared, so completely covers the whole ground that it
seems to afford an excuse for an even more hasty scamper over the same
area than the exigencies of space have elsewhere made inevitable.

The task to which both the English and the Irish Parliaments now
energetically addressed themselves was--firstly, the undoing of the Acts
passed in the late reign; secondly, the forfeiture of the estates of
those who had taken the losing side in the late campaign; thirdly, the
passing of a series of Acts the aim of which was as far as possible to
stamp out the Roman Catholic religion altogether, and in any case to
deprive it of any shadow or semblance of future political importance.

To describe at length the various Acts which make up what is known as
the Penal code--"a code impossible," as Mr. Lecky observed in an earlier
work, "for any Irish Protestant whose mind is not wholly perverted by
religious bigotry, to look back at without shame and indignation," would
take too long. It will be enough, therefore, if I describe its general
purport, and how it affected the political and social life of that
century upon which we are now entering.

In several respects it not a little resembled what is nowadays known as
"boycotting," only it was boycotting inflicted by the State itself. As
compared with some of the enactments passed against Protestants in
Catholic countries, it was not, it must be said, sanguinary, but its aim
seemed to be to make life itself intolerable; to reduce the whole
Catholic population to the condition of pariahs and outcasts. No Papist
might possess a horse of the value of over L5; no Papist might carry
arms; no Papist might dispose as he chose of his own property; no Papist
might acquire any landed freehold; no Papist might practise in any of
the liberal professions; no Papist might educate his sons at home,
neither might he send them to be educated abroad. Deeper wrong, more
biting and terrible injury even than these, it sowed bitter strife
between father and son, and brother and brother. Any member of a family,
by simply turning Protestant, could dispossess the rest of that family
of the bulk of the estate to his own advantage. Socially, too, a Papist,
no matter what his rank, stood below, and at the mercy of, his
Protestant neighbours. He was treated by the executive as a being
devoid, not merely of all political, but of all social rights, and only
the numerical superiority of the members of the persecuted creed can
have enabled them to carry on existence under such circumstances at all.

For it must be remembered (and this is one of its worst features) that
those placed under this monstrous ban constituted the vast majority of
the whole country. In Burke's memorable words, "This system of penalty
and incapacity has for its object no small sect or obscure party, but a
very numerous body of men, a body which comprehends at least two-thirds
of the whole nation; it amounts to two million eight hundred thousand
souls--a number sufficient for the constituents of a great people[13]."
"The happiness or misery of multitudes," he adds in another place, "can
never be a thing indifferent. A law against the majority of the people
is in substance a law against the people itself; its extent determines
its invalidity; it even changes its character as it enlarges its
operation; it is not particular injustice, but general oppression, and
can no longer be considered as a private hardship which might be borne,
but spreads and grows up into the unfortunate importance of a national

[13] "Tracts on the Popery Laws."

As was natural under the circumstances, many feigned conversions took
place, that being the only way to avoid been utterly cut adrift from
public life. For by a succession of enactments, not only were the higher
offices and the professions debarred to Roman Catholics, but they were
even prohibited--to so absurd a length can panic go--from being
sheriffs, jurymen, constables, or even gamekeepers. "Every barrister,
clerk, attorney, or solicitor," to quote again Burke, "is obliged to
take a solemn oath not to employ persons of that persuasion; no, not as
hackney clerks, at the miserable salary of seven shillings a week." It
was loudly complained of many years later, that men used to qualify for
taking the oaths required upon being admitted as barristers or attorneys
by attending church and receiving a sacramental certificate on their
road to Dublin. Others, to save their property from confiscation,
sacrificed their inclinations, often what they held to be their hopes of
salvation, to the exigencies of the situation, and nominally embraced
Protestantism. Old Lady Thomond, for instance, upon being reproached by
some stricter co-religionist for thus imperilling her soul, asked with
quick scorn whether it was not better that one old woman should burn
than that the Thomonds should lose their own. The head of the house
would thus often present himself or herself at the parish church, while
the other members of the family kept to the old faith, and the chaplain,
under the name of the tutor or secretary, celebrated mass in the
harness-room or the servants' hall.

To the credit of Irish Protestants it may be said that, once the first
violence of fanaticism had died out, there was little attempt to enforce
the legal enactments in all their hideous atrocity. According to the
strict letter of the law, no Roman Catholic bishop, archbishop, or other
dignitary; no monk, nun, or member of any religious fraternity, could
set foot in Ireland; and any one who harboured them was liable at the
third offence to confiscation of all his goods. A list of parish priests
was also drawn up and certified, and their names entered, and when these
had died no others were by law allowed to come, any so doing being
liable to the penalties of high treason. As a matter of fact, however,
they came with very little hindrance, and the succession was steadily
kept up from the Continent. The attempt to stamp out a religion by force
proved to be the most absolute of failures, although, as no rule is
without its exception, it must be added that in England, where exactly
the same penal laws were in force, and where the number of Roman
Catholics was at the beginning of the century considerable, they
dwindled by the end of it almost to the point of extinction. In Ireland
the reverse was the case. The number of Roman Catholics, according to
the most trustworthy statistics, increased rather than diminished under
the Penal code, and there were many more conversions from Protestantism
to Catholicism than there were the other way.

This, no doubt, was in great measure due to the neglect with which the
scattered Protestant communities were treated, especially in the south
and west. The number of Protestant clergymen was extremely small, as
many as six, seven, and even ten livings being frequently held by a
single individual, and of these many were absentees, and their place
filled by a curate. Thus--isolated in a vast Roman Catholic community,
often with no church of their own within reach--the few Protestants
drifted by a natural law to the faith of their neighbours. On the
emphatic and angry testimony of Archbishop Boulter, we know that
conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism were in his time extremely
common amongst the lower orders. By law, too, no marriage between a
Protestant and Catholic was recognizable, yet there were many such, and
the children in most cases seem to have reverted to the elder faith.


The best side of all this for the Catholics showed itself in that
feeling of devotion and fealty to their own faith which persecution
rarely fails to awaken, and for which the Roman Catholics of Ireland,
high and low alike, have always been honourably distinguished. The worst
was that this sense of being under an immoveable ban sapped at all the
roots of manliness and honourable ambition. Amongst the well-to-do
classes the more spirited of the young men went abroad and enlisted
under foreign banners. The rest stayed at home, and fell into an idle,
aimless, often disreputable, fashion of existence. The sense of being of
no account, mere valueless items in the social hive, is no doubt
answerable for a good deal of all this. Swift assures us that in his
time the Catholic manhood of Ireland were of no more importance than its
women and children; of no more importance, he adds in another place,
than so many trees. With a patience pathetic in so essentially impatient
a race, both priests and people seem to have settled down after awhile
into a sort of desperate acceptance of the inevitable. So complete
indeed was their submission that towards the close of the century we
find the English executive, harassed and set at nought by its own
Protestant colonists, turning by a curious nemesis to the members of
this persecuted creed, whose patience and loyalty three quarters of a
century of unexampled endurance seemed to have gone far to prove.



All power, place, and authority had thus once more swung round into the
hands of the Protestant colony--"The Protestant Ascendency," as it came
after a while to be called. They alone had seats in Parliament, they
alone, until near the end of the century, were competent to vote. Taxes
were collected over the whole island, but only Protestants had a voice
in their disposal. All the parliamentary struggles of this century, it
must clearly be understood, were struggles between Protestants and
Protestants, and the different political parties, "patriotic" and
others, were parties formed exclusively amongst the Protestants
themselves. Protestantism was not only the privileged, but it was also
the polite, creed; the creed of the upper classes, as distinguished from
the creed of the potato-diggers and the turf-cutters; a view of the
matter of which distinct traces may even yet be discovered in Ireland.

If Protestants, as compared with their Roman Catholic brethren, were
happy, the Protestant colony was very far from being allowed its own
way, or permitted to govern itself as it thought fit. Although avowedly
kept as her garrison, and to preserve her own power in Ireland, England
had no notion of allowing it equal advantages with herself, or of
running the smallest risk of its ever coming to stand upon any dangerous
footing of equality. The fatal theory that it was the advantage of the
one country that the other should be kept poor, had by this time firmly
taken root in the minds of English statesmen, and to it, and to the
unreasonable jealousy of a certain number of English traders, the
disasters now to be recorded were mainly due.

Cromwell had placed English and Irish commerce upon an equal footing.
Early in Charles II.'s reign an Act had however been passed to hinder
the importation of Irish cattle into England, one which had struck a
disastrous, not to say fatal, blow at Irish agricultural interests. Then
as now cattle was its chief wealth, and such a prohibition meant nothing
short of ruin to the landowners, and through them to all who depended
upon them. So far Irish ports were open, however, to foreign countries,
and when the cattle trade ceased to be profitable, much of the land had
been turned by its owners into sheepwalks. There was a large and an
increasing demand for Irish wool upon the Continent, in addition to
which a considerable number of manufacturers had of late started
factories, and an energetic manufacture of woollen goods was going on,
and rapidly becoming the principal form of Irish industry. The English
traders, struck by this fact, were suddenly smitten with panic. The
Irish competition, they declared, were reducing their gains, and they
cried loudly, therefore, for legislative protection. Their prayer was
granted. In 1699, the last year of the century, an Act was passed
forbidding the export of Irish woollen goods, not to England alone, but
to _all_ other countries.

The effect of this Act was instantaneous and startling. The
manufacturers, who had come over in large numbers, left the country for
the most part within six months, never to return again. A whole
population was suddenly thrown out of employment Emigration set in, but,
in spite of the multitude that left, famine laid hold of many of those
who remained. The resources of the poorest classes are always so low in
Ireland that a much less sweeping blow than this would at any time have
sufficed to bring them over the verge of starvation.

Another important result was that smuggling immediately began on an
enormous scale. Wool was now a drug in the legitimate market, and
woollen goods had practically no market. A vast contraband trade sprang
swiftly up upon the ruins of the legitimate one. Wool, which at home was
worth only 5d. or 6d. a lb., in France fetched half-a-crown. The whole
population, from the highest to the lowest, flung themselves
energetically on the side of the smugglers. The coast-line was long and
intricate; the excise practically powerless. Wool was packed in caves
all along the south and south-west coast, and carried off as opportunity
served by the French vessels which came to seek it. What was meant by
nature and Providence to have been the honest and open trade of the
country was thus forced to be carried on by stealth and converted into a
crime. It alleviated to some degree the distress, but it made Law seem
more than ever a mockery, more than ever the one archenemy against which
every man's hand might legitimately be raised.

Even this, if bad enough, was not the worst. The worst was that this
arbitrary Act--directed, it must be repeated, by England, not against
the Irish natives, but against her own colonists--done, too, without
there being an opportunity for the country to be heard in its own
defence--struck at the very root of all enterprise, and produced a
widespread feeling of hopelessness and despair. Since this was the
acknowledged result of too successful rivalry with England, of what use,
it was openly asked, to attempt any new enterprise, or what was to
hinder the same fate from befalling it in its turn? The whole
relationship of the two islands, even where no division of blood or
creed existed, grew thus to be strained and embittered to the last
degree; the sense of hostility and indignation being hardly less strong
in the latest arrived colonist than in the longest established. "There
was scarce an Englishman," says a writer of the time, "who had been
seven years in the country, _and meant to remain there_, who did not
become averse to England, and grow into something of an Irishman." All
this must be taken into account before those puzzling contradictions and
anomalies which make up the history of this century can ever be
properly realized.



The early half of the eighteenth century is such a very dreary period of
Irish history that there is little temptation to linger over it. Two
men, however, stand out conspicuously against this melancholy
background, neither of whom must be passed over without a few words.

The first of these was William Molyneux, the "Ingenious Molyneux," as he
was called by his contemporaries, a distinguished philosopher, whose
life was almost exclusively devoted to scientific pursuits. Molyneux is,
or ought to be, a very interesting figure to any one who cares, even
slightly, about Ireland. He was one of the chief founders of the
Philosophical Association in Dublin, which was the parent both of the
present Dublin Society and of the Royal Irish Academy. He was also a
Fellow of the Royal Society, and a friend of John Locke, with whom he
constantly corresponded. Both his letters, and those of his brother, Dr.
Thomas Molyneux, show the most vivid and constant interest in everything
connected with the natural history of Ireland. Now it is a moving bog,
which has scared the natives in its neighbourhood out of their senses;
now, again, some great find of Irish elks, or some tooth of a mammoth
which has been unearthed, and it is gravely discussed how such a
"large-bodied beast" could have been transported over seas, especially
to a country where the "Greeks and Romans never had a footing," and
where therefore the learned Mr. Camden's theory, that the elephants'
bones found in England were the remains of those "brought over by the
Emperor Claudius," necessarily falls to the ground. Both the brothers
Molyneux belong to a band of Irish naturalists whose numbers are,
unfortunately, remarkably limited. Why it should be so is not easily
explained, but so it is. When Irish archaeology is mentioned, the names
of Petrie, of Wilde, of Todd, of Graves, and, last but not least, of
Miss Margaret Stokes spring to the mind. Irish geologists, with Sir
Richard Griffiths at their head, show as good a record as those of any
other country, but the number of Irish naturalists whose fame has
reached beyond a very narrow area is small indeed. This is the less
accountable as, though scanty as regards the number of its species, the
natural history of Ireland is full of interest, abounding in problems
not even yet fully solved: the very scantiness of its fauna being in one
sense, an incentive and stimulus to its study, for the same reason that
a language which is on the point of dying out is often of more interest
to a philologist than one that is in full life and vigour.

This, however, is a digression, and as such must be forgiven. Returning
to the arena of politics, Molyneux's chief claim to remembrance rests
upon a work published by him in favour of the rights of the Irish
Parliament in the last year but one of the seventeenth century, only
seven years therefore after the treaty of Limerick.

As one of the members of the Dublin University he had every opportunity
of judging how the grasp which the English Parliament maintained by
means of the obsolete machinery of Poynings' Act was steadily throttling
and benumbing all Irish enterprise. In 1698 his famous remonstrance,
known as "The Case of Ireland being bound by Act of Parliament made in
England," appeared, with a dedication to King William. It at once
created an immense sensation, was fiercely condemned as seditious and
libellous by the English Parliament, by whom, as a mark of its utter
abhorrence, it was condemned to be burned by the common hangman.

Few things will give a clearer idea of the extraordinarily exasperated
state of politics at the time than to read the remonstrance which
produced so tremendous a storm. Take, for example, the words with which
the earlier portion of it closes, and which are worth studying, if only
for the impressive dignity of their style, which not a little
foreshadows Burke's majestic prose:--

"To conclude, I think it highly inconvenient for England to assume this
authority over the kingdom of Ireland, I believe there will need no
great arguments to convince the wise assembly of English senators how
inconvenient it may be to England to do that which may make the lords
and the people of Ireland think that they are not well used, and may
drive them to discontent. The laws and liberties of England were granted
above five hundred years ago to the people of Ireland, upon their
submission to the Crown of England, with a design to keep them in the
allegiance of the king of England. How consistent it may be with true
policy to do that which the people of Ireland may think an invasion of
their rights and liberties, I do most humbly submit to the Parliament of
England to consider. They are men of great wisdom, honour, and justice,
and know how to prevent all future inconveniences. We have heard great
outcries, and deservedly, on breaking the edict of Nantes, and other
stipulations. How far the breaking our constitution, which has been of
five hundred years standing exceeded these, I leave the world to judge."

In another place Molyneux vindicates the dignity of a Parliament in
words of singular force and moderation:--

"The rights of Parliament should be preserved sacred and inviolable
wherever they are found. This kind of government, once so universal all
over Europe, is now almost vanished amongst the nations thereof. Our
king's dominions are the only supporters of this most noble Gothic
constitution, save only what little remains may be found thereof in
Poland. We should not therefore make so light of that sort of
legislature, and, as it were, abolish it in one kingdom of the three
wherein it appears, but rather cherish and encourage it wherever we
meet it[14]."

[14] "The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament made in
England." By William Molyneux, Esq., Dublin.

For a remonstrance so dignified, couched in language so respectful,
burning by the common hangman seems a hard lot. The disgrace, if such it
was, does not appear to have very deeply penetrated its author, who
pursued the even tenour of his way, and the same year paid a visit to
his friend John Locke, on the return journey from which visit he
unfortunately caught a chill, from the effects of which he died the
following October. After his death the momentary stir which his
eloquence had created died out, as the circles left by the falling of a
stone die out upon some stagnant pool, until nearly a quarter of a
century later a much more violent splash again aroused attention, and a
far less pacific exponent of Irish abuses than Molyneux sprang fiercely
into the turmoil.

Jonathan Swift had been eleven years Dean of St. Patrick's before he
produced those famous letters which have left their mark so indelibly
upon the course of Irish politics. Swift's part in this Stygian pool of
the eighteenth century is rather a difficult one to explain. He was not
in any sense an Irish champion, indeed, objected to being called an
Irishman at all, and regarded his life in Ireland as one of all but
unendurable banishment. He was a vehement High Churchman, and looked
upon the existing penal proscription under which the Catholics lay as
not merely desirable, but indispensable. At the same time it would be
quite untrue to suppose, as is sometimes done, that he merely made a
cat's-paw of Irish politics in order to bring himself back into public
notice. He was a man of intense and even passionate sense of justice,
and the state of affairs in the Ireland of his day, the tyranny and
political dishonesty which stalked in high places, the degradation and
steadily-increasing misery in which the mass of the people were sunk,
were enough to lash far less scathing powers of sarcasm than he
possessed to their highest possible pitch of expression.

[Illustration: DEAN SWIFT. (_From an engraving by Fourdinier after

The cause that drew forth the famous Drapier letters--why Swift chose to
spell the word _draper_ with an _i_ no one has ever explained--appears
at first sight hardly worthy of the occasion. Ireland wanted a copper
coinage, and Walpole, who was then the Prime Minister, had given a
patent for the purpose to a person called Wood, part of the profits of
which patent were to go to the Duchess of Kendal, the king's mistress.
There seems no reason to think that the pennies produced by Wood were in
any way inferior to the existing English ones, and Sir Isaac Newton--who
was at the time Master of the Mint--declared that, if anything, they
were rather better. The real wrong, the real insult, was that the patent
was granted by the Minister without reference to the Lord-Lieutenant, to
the Irish Parliament, or to any single human being in Ireland. It was a
proof the more of that total indifference with which the interests of
Ireland were regarded, and it was upon this score that Swift's wrath
exploded like a bomb.

The line he chose to take was to attack the patent, not as a monstrous
job--which undoubtedly it was--but from the point of view of the value
of the pennies. Assuming the character of a tradesman, he adjured all
classes of the community, down to the very beggars, not to be induced to
accept them. Assured them that for the benefit of Mr. Wood, "a mean man,
a hardware dealer," every human being in Ireland was about to be
deliberately robbed and ruined. His logic sounded unanswerable to the
ignorant. His diatribes produced the most extraordinary effect. A
terrific panic set in, and so overwhelming was the sensation that the
Ministers in the end found it necessary to cancel the patent, and
suspend the issue of Wood's halfpence. For the first time in Irish
history public opinion, unsupported by arms, had carried its point: an
epoch of vast importance in the history of every country.

That Swift knew perfectly well that the actual value of the copper
coinage was not a matter of profound importance may be taken for
granted, and so far his conduct is certainly not justifiable on any very
strict rule of ethics. If the pennies were of small importance, however,
there were other things that were of more. Little of a patriot as he
was, little as he was supposed, or supposed himself, to care for Ireland
or Irishmen, his wrath burnt fiercely at what he saw around him. He saw,
too, his own wrongs, as others have done before and since, "writ large"
in the wrongs of the country, and resented them as such. With his keen,
practical knowledge of men, he knew, moreover, how thick was that
medium, born of prejudice and ignorance, through which he had to
pierce--a medium through which nothing less pointed than the forked
lightnings of his own terrible wit could have found its way. Whatever
his motives were, his success at least is indisputable. High Churchman
as he was, vehement anti-papist as he was, he became from that moment,
and remained to the hour of his death, beyond all question the most
popular man in Ireland and his name was ever afterwards upon the lips of
all who aspired to promote the best interests and prosperity of
their country.



The forty years which follow maybe passed rapidly over. They were years
of absolute tranquillity in Ireland, but beyond that rather negative
praise little of good can be reported of them. Public opinion was to all
practical purposes dead, and the functions of Parliament were little
more than nominal. Unlike the English one, the Irish Parliament had by
the nature of its constitution, no natural termination, save by a
dissolution, or by the death of the sovereign. Thus George the Second's
Irish Parliament sat for no less than thirty-three years, from the
beginning to the end of his reign. The sessions, too, had gradually come
to be, not annual as in England, but biennial, the Lord-Lieutenant
spending as a rule only six months in every two years in Ireland. In his
absence all power was vested in the hands of the Lords Justices, of whom
the most conspicuous during this period were the three successive
archbishops of Armagh, namely, Swift's opponent Boulter, Hoadly, and
Stone, all three Englishmen, and devoted to what was known as the
"English interest," who governed the country by the aid of a certain
number of great

Delightful talk! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot.
To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,
To breathe th' enlivening spirit and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.



Irish borough-owners, or Undertakers, who "undertook" to carry on the
king's business in consideration of receiving the lion's share of the
patronage, which they distributed amongst their own adherents. Of these
borough-owners Lord Shannon was the happy possessor of no less than
sixteen seats, while others had eight, ten, twelve, or more, which were
regularly and openly let out to hire to the Government. Efforts were
from time to time made by the more independent members to curtail these
abuses, and to recover some degree of independence for the Parliament,
but for a long time their efforts were without avail, and owing to the
nature of its constitution, it was all but impossible to bring public
opinion to bear upon its proceedings, so that the only vestige of
independence shown was when a collision occurred between the selfish
interests of those in whose hands all power was thus concentrated.

[Illustration: PHILIP Earl of CHESTERFIELD.]

About 1743 some stir began to be aroused by a succession of statements
published by Charles Lucas, a Dublin apothecary, in the _Freeman's
Journal_, a newspaper started by him, and in which he vehemently
denounced the venality of Parliament, and loudly asserted the inherent
right of Ireland to govern itself, a right of which it had only been
formally deprived by the Declaratory Act of George I[15]. So unequivocal
was his language that the grand jury of Dublin at last gave orders for
his addresses to be burnt, and in 1749 a warrant was issued for his
apprehension, whereupon he fled to England, and did not return until
many years later, when he was at once elected member for Dublin. His
speeches in the House of Commons seem never to have produced an effect
at all comparable with that of his writings, but he gave a constant and
important support to the patriotic party, which had now formed itself
into a small but influential opposition under the leadership of
Henry Flood.

[15] English Statutes, 6 Geo. c. 5.

Flood and Grattan are by far the two greatest of those orators and
statesmen whose eloquence lit up the debates of the Irish House of
Commons during its brief period of brilliancy, and as such will require,
even in so hasty a sketch as this, to be dwelt upon at some length.
Since a good deal of the same ground will have to be gone over in
succeeding chapters, it seems best to explain here those points which
affected them personally, and to show as far as possible in what
relationship they stood one to the other.

Henry Flood was born near Kilkenny in 1732, and was the son of the Chief
Justice of the King's Bench. At sixteen he went to Trinity College,
Dublin, and afterwards to Oxford. In 1759 he entered the Irish
Parliament as member for Kilkenny, and at once threw himself vehemently
upon the popular side, his first speech being an attack upon the Primate
Stone. As an orator his style appears to have been laboured, and his
speeches brim over in all directions with forced illustrations and
metaphors, but his powers of argument and debate were remarkably strong.
For about ten years he waged a continual struggle against the
Government, urging especially a limitation to the duration of Parliament
and losing no opportunity of asserting its claims to independence, or of
attacking the pension list, which under the system then prevailing grew
steadily from year to year. Upon reform he also early fixed his
attention, although, unlike Grattan, he was from the beginning to the
end of his life steadily hostile to all proposals for giving the
franchise to the Catholics.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. HENRY FLOOD. (_After a drawing by

During the viceroyalty of Lord Townshend, who became Lord-Lieutenant in
1767, an Octennial Bill was passed limiting the duration of Parliament
to eight years, but this momentary gleam of better things was not
sustained; on the contrary, corruption was, under his rule, carried even
further than it had been before. Under the plea of breaking the power of
the borough-owners, he set himself deliberately to make the whole
Parliament subservient to Government, thus practically depriving it of
what little vestige of independence it still possessed. A succession of
struggles took place, chiefly over Money Bills, the more independent
members, under Flood's leadership, claiming for the Irish House of
Commons the complete control of the national purse, a claim as uniformly
resisted by the Government. Though almost invariably defeated on a
division in the end the opposition were to a great degree successful,
and in 1773 the hated viceroy was recalled.

This was the moment at which Flood stood higher in his countrymen's
estimation than was ever again the case. He was identified with all that
was best in their aspirations, and no shadow of self-seeking had as yet
dimmed the brightness of his fame. It was very different with his next
step. Lord Townshend was succeeded by Lord Harcourt, whose
administration at first promised to be a shade more liberal and less
corrupt than that of his predecessors. Of this administration Flood, to
his own misfortune, became a member. What his motives were it is rather
difficult to say. He was a rich man, and therefore had no temptation to
sell or stifle his opinions for place. Whatever they were, it is clear,
from letters still extant, that he not only accepted but solicited
office. He was made Vice-Treasurer, a post hitherto reserved for
Englishmen, at a salary of L3,500 a year.

Although, as Mr. Lecky has pointed out, no actual stain of dishonour
attaches to Flood in consequence of this step, there can be no doubt
that it was a grave error, and that he lived to repent it bitterly. For
the next seven years not only was he forced to keep silence as regards
all those points he had previously advocated so warmly, but, as a member
of the Government, he actually helped to uphold some of the most
damaging of the restraints laid upon Irish trade and prosperity. Upon
the outbreak of the America war a two years' embargo was laid upon
Ireland, and a force of 4,000 men raised and despatched to America at
its expense. The state of defencelessness in which this left the country
led, as will be seen in a succeeding chapter, to a great volunteer
movement, in which all classes and creeds joined enthusiastically. Flood
was unable to resist the contagion. His voice was once again heard upon
the liberal side. He flung away the trammels of office, surrendered his
large salary, and returned to his old friends. He never, however,
regained his old place. A greater man had in the meanwhile risen to the
front, and in Henry Grattan Irish aspiration had found its clearest and
strongest voice.

This was a source of profound mortification to Flood, and led eventually
to a bitter quarrel between these two men--patriots in the best sense
both of them. Flood tried to outbid Grattan by pushing the concessions
won from England in the moment of her difficulty yet further, and by
making use of the volunteers as a lever to enforce his demands. This
Grattan honourably, whether wisely or not, resisted, and the Parliament
supported his resistance. After an unsuccessful attempt to carry a
Reform Bill, Flood retired, to a great degree, from Irish public life,
and not long afterwards succeeded in getting a seat in the English
Parliament. His oratory there proved a failure. He was "an oak of the
forest too great and old," as Grattan said, "to be transplanted at
fifty." This failure was a fresh and a yet more mortifying
disappointment, and his end was a gloomy and somewhat obscure one, but
he will always be remembered with gratitude as one of the first who in
the Irish Parliament lifted his voice against those restrictions under
which the prosperity of the country lay shackled and all but dead.



"Great men," wrote Sydney Smith, sixty years ago in an article in _The
Edinburgh Review_, "hallow a whole people, and lift up all who live in
their time. What Irishman does not feel proud that he lived in the days
of Grattan? Who has not turned to him for comfort from the false friends
and open enemies of Ireland? Who did not remember him in the days of its
burnings, wastings, and murders?"

Grattan is, indeed, pre-eminently the Irish politician to whom other
Irish politicians--however diverse their views or convictions--turn
unanimously with the common sense of admiration and homage. Two
characteristics--usually supposed in Ireland to be inherently
antagonistic--met harmoniously in him. He was consistently loyal and he
was consistently patriotic. From the beginning to the end of his career
his patriotism never hindered him either from risking his popularity
whenever he considered duty or the necessities of the case required him
to do so; a resolution which more than once brought him into sharp
collision with his countrymen, on one occasion even at some little risk
to himself.

[Illustration: RIGHT HON. HENRY GRATTAN, M.P. _(From an engraving by
Godby after Pope_.)]

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