Page images

were permitted to enjoy, depended solely upon the royal grace. Such men he was naturally disposed to treat with contempt, and even the most distinguished of the Irish subjects, were of little consequence in the eye of an imperious nobleman used to the magnificence of the English court, distinguished even in the crowd of exalted personages, and known to enjoy an extraordinary portion of the royal favour. He assumed the reins of government with lively prepossesions and passions violently enflamed.

Wentworth, began to play off his insincerity upon the Catholics of Ireland, (they were then in the proportion of one hundred to one Protestant) even before he had taken possession of his government.* It has been before remarked, that for political reasons, he preferred any other mode of taxation to that of raising the necessary levies upon the consciences of the natives. In order therefore, to ensure to his royal master the continu. ance of the voluntary contributiont for one year longer, he tell us that in order to make a trial of the temper of the Catholics (who had actually paid above two thirds of the former con. tribution) with regard to the continuance of it for a longer time, "he sent a private messenger of his own to Ireland, who was “himself a Catholic, with instructions to invite them to make

an offer to his majesty, of half a subsidy to be paid the next

year; upon condition that all further prosecution upon the “statute of the 2d Elizabeth, might be respited till his coming

over. The instrument I employed, (says he) knows no

other, but that the resolution of the state here is set upon that “ course, and that I do this privately, in favour and well wishupon them all, being framed and executed by the Earl of “ Cork, which makes the man labour in good earnest, taking “ it to be a cause pro aris & focis.Lord Antrim, who was then one of the principal leaders of the Catholic party, on behalf of himself and other Catholics, wrote to Lord Wentworth, that they were willing to continue the contribution to his majesty as it then was, until his lordship's arrival in Ireland. The arrogance and haughtiness of the deputy, manifested themselves even to his own party on his first landing : he omitted to sum. mon several members of the council to attend, and on the first day, after he had kept them waiting for above two hours, he slightingly and without any apology, mentioned the subject upon which he had convened them; and when on the following day they shewed symptoms of displeasure at the continuance of the contribution, he superciliously assured them in plain terms, that no necessity induced him to take them in council on that business : for that rather than fail in so necessary a duty to his master, he would undertake upon the peril of his head, he would make the king's army able to subsist and provide for themselves amongst them, without their help.* The menace had its ef. fect: and he procured a written promise for the next year's contribution from the Protestants, as it had that year proceeded from the Catholics, who ought not, said he tauntingly, to be permitted to be more forward than the Protestants in their cheerfulness and readiness to serve the king.f His proposals to call a parliament was eagerly received, which they considered would supersede the necessity of any further contribution, so horribly afraid, says his lordship, were they that the contribution money would be set as an annual charge upon their inheritances, that they would redeem it at any rate.

ing to divert the present storm, which else would fall heavy * For this we are able to vouch his own authority.

† In 1628, Lord Faulkland advised the Catholics to send agents over to King Charles and make him a personal tender of their services, who, says Leland, (2 v. p. 483) “ in despite of public clamour snd suspicion, found a

very favourable reception for their overtures. They made the tempting " offer of a voluntary contribution of 1200001. to be paid in three years, by way “ of three subsidies, each amounting to 400001. and each to be divided into

equal quarterly payments. The graces which they, solicited in consequence “ of this extraordinary exertion of loyalty, were in some instances indeed “ favourable to recusants, but such as in general were evidently reasonable and “ equitable, calculated for the redress of those grievances, which persons of “ all denominations had experienced, and tending to the peace and prosperity " of the whole nation. The bounty was accepted, the graces conferred, and " transmitted by way of instruction to the lord deputy and council.” The most important of these graces, which consisted of fifty-one articles, (to be seen in Cox and Rushw.) were those, by which the subjects were secured in their possessions by limiting the king's title to sixty years, the recusants were admitted to sue their liveries, ouster le mains, and other grants out of the court of wards, Catholic barristers were permitted to plead for five years without the oath of supremacy. These being granted by proclamation only, the king pledged his word they should be confirmed by parliament.

St. Let. 1 vol. p. 212.

It has been before remarked, that the influence of government was employed in the former reign, to establish a Protes. tant ascendency by securing a Protestant majority in parliament. We must now judge of the parliamentary conduct of the new lord deputy, by his own account of it to Secretary Coke. “I " have this day, says he, sent out writs of summons, and with “ them about 100 letters in recommendation of such, as upon “ advice taken with this council, were held persons ablest and “ best for his majesty's service, having both in that and all the “rest, used the utmost of my power and diligence, to get the " house to be composed of quiet and governable men.” He has

i. e. by free quarters. The Irish had frequently complained of the abuses of the military, which will appear from a report made in the preceding reign, by the commissioners appointed by James to enquire into grievances, App. No. XIX. Protection against this abuse was one of the graces recently purchased.

St. Let. p. 98. | lb. p. 99. St, 1 vol. p. 259.

[ocr errors]

further favoured us with his method of marshalling the members when once returned. (St. Let. Ib.) “ The lower house “ should be so composed, that neither the recusants, nor yet “the Protestants, should appear considerably one more than “ the other: holding them as much as might be in an equal “ balance, as being thus easier to govern. And then in private s discourse to shew the recusants, that if the late contribution “ ending in December of his majesty's army was not supplied

some other way, the twelve pence per Sunday must of neces

sity be exacted from them. And on the other hand, to shew « the Protestants that his majesty's army must not let go the “ 20,000l. contribution, nor yet that he would discontent the re

cusants in matter of religion, till the army were else certainly provided for.” And for the purpose of varying the balance of votes according to the exigency of circumstances, this wary deputy acknowledges the nature of the corps de reserve, which he constantly kept at command.

6 I shall labour to make as many captains and officers, burgesses in this parliament, as I possibly

can, who having immediate dependance upon the crown, may “ always sway the business between the two parties, which way

they please.” We see by a further letter from his lordship to Secretary Coke, how much beyond his instruction he pushed his arrogance and austerity to the Catholics. For when the Earl of Fingal represented to him, that it had ever been usual for the lords of the pale to be consulted concerning the parliament, and the matters to be therein propounded, he told this nobleman, that assuredly his majesty would reject with scorn all such foreign instructors: that the king's own councils were sufficient to govern his own affairs and people, without borrowing from any private man whatsoever. But being rather diffident of the king's approval of this harshness towards the lords of the pale, he adds, “ If I may from you gather it was too much, I á will put some water in my wine, and express it more mildly " to his majesty's contentment, as well in the manner as the “ matter."*

When the parliament had met, the lord deputy in his speech informed them, “ that his majesty expected 100,000l. debt to “ be discharged, and 20,000!. a year constant and standing re

venue, to be set apart for the payment of the army: and that “ his majesty intended to have two sessions of that parliament, “ the one for himself, the other for them: so as if they without “ conditions supplied the king in this, they might be sure his

majesty would go along with them in the next meeting, through " all the expressions of a gracious and good king.” It is painful to acknowledge that the king himself must have combined


• St. Let. 1 vol. p. 247.

[ocr errors]

with Wentworth in deceiving his Irish subjects : he acknow. ledged* that a free gift of 120,000l. had been given to his majesty for the proclamation and royal promise to get it confirmed in the first parliament that should sit ; and that in the year 1631, 106,2801. 168. 2 1-2d. had been paid towards it. It was determined however to break through the promise at all events, and should the deputy not have the address to get the supplies voted before the performance of the condition entered into with the Irish nation, to dissolve the parliament, and raise the supplies in some other manner. The king under this impression, assured his deputy, “ that it would not be worse for him, though " that parliament's obstinacy should make him break with them, “ for I fear, says his majesty, that they have some grounds to “ demand more, than it is fit for me to give.” The deputy, however, took uncommon pains to persuade the parliament, that in case of their unconditional grant of the supplies, the king would confirm the promised graces; for surely, said he, “so

great a meanness cannot enter your hearts, as once to suspect “ his majesty's gracious regards of you, and performance with you, where you affie yourselves upon his grace."

We can more readily conceive, than express that determined dissimulation, which dictated this insidious speech to parliament, when Wentworth had not only advised the king to break his solemn promise, but had engaged to take upon himself all the obloquy, infamy, and danger

of this breach of faith with the nation ; and for which the king soon after thanked him in a letter written in his own hand.t

The commons relying upon the promises of the deputy, voted six entire subsidies, amounting to 240,0001. a sum far exceeding his most sanguine expectations, and in return they drew up a remonstrances concerning his majesty's promised graces, partiSt. Let. 1 vol. p. 68. t“ WENTWORTH,

“ BEFORE I answer any of your particular letters to me, 1 “ must tell you, that your last dispatch has given me a great deal of content. “ment, and especially for the keeping off the envy of a necessary negative “ from me, of those unreasonable graces that people expected from me.”

St. Let. 1 vol. p. 331. That it was the concerted and settled plan both of Charles and his deputy, to deceive and defraud the Irish, who had upon the faith of the king, purchased these graces for 120,0001. is not only evident from their own words, but is further proved by the admission of our own historians. Carte (Orm. p. 61.) says, "he was not without apprehension, that the parliament might press for a con"firmation of all the graces given the 24th of May, 1628, in instruction to Lord " Faulkland ; many of which, if established by a law, would not sort either with “ his majesty's present profit, (for that of limiting the title of the crown to

sixty years, would alone lose him 20,000l. per annum) or with the power “ requisite to be upheld for the future in the kingdom." ' Vide Rushw. 2 vol.

Quod vide App. No. XX.

p. 210.

cularly in relation to the enquiry into defective titles, and deputed Sir George Radcliffe, master of the rolls, Sir James Ware, and nine other respectable members to present it to the deputy. Soon after the meeting of the second session of this parliament, (12th of November 1634) the commons were ordered into the presence chamber to receive the lord deputy's answer. By this he informed them with sullen imperiousness,* that he would not transmit to England the statute 21 Jacobi ; but that such refusal was his own; their requestt never having been so much as sent over by him: that passing this act to prevent enquiry into defective titles, was not good and expedient for the kingdom at that time, and so they were to rest satisfied without stirring any more as to that particular, as a thing, which could not, nor would not be departed from. It is obvious, from their vast preponderancy both in numbers and property at this time, that this answer was chiefly, if not solely intended to affect the Catholics, who from it, says Wentworth, f “were so ill to please, " that they lost all temper, and broke forth into such froward “ sullenness, as was strange ; rejecting hand over head every “ other bill, that was offered them from his majesty and the state.”

The subsequent conduct of the deputy clearly explained what he meant by the inexpediency to the kingdom, which the observance of the king's promise would at that time create. For he instantly set about his grand and favourite plan of inquisition into the king's title to the whole province of Connaught: of which Leland thus speaks. “Wentworth was impatient to

signalize his administration, by a service of immediate and " extensive emolument to his royal master. His project was

Wentworth tells us, that he had already resolved to give them an " round and clear, and such as would stifle all replication.” St. Let. 1 vol.

+ This assertion was a direct falsehood : for he says in a letter to Coke of the 6th of October 1634, "that he sends the petition of the lower house, rela“tive to these graces : and that the ground of denying all, may be set upon him " and the council: and so bis majesty preserved from all colour of declining in any part of that which they expected.” St. Let. p. 304.

St. Let. p. 304. Ś One particularity attended the administration of Wentworth, which is to be traced in no other either before or since his time: namely a disregard to every description of persons, who were not servilely devoted to his despotism. He convened a national synoil or convocation of the Protestant clergy, in which he forced upon them the thirty-nine articles of the Church of England, more as Leland observes (3 v. p. 28) by the influence of his authority, than the "in“clinations of a great part of the clergy, although but one member of the con“yocation ventured publicly to avow his dissent. These regulations in the “ ecclesiastical system were followed by an establishment too odious, and " therefore too dangerous to be attempted during the sessions of parliament, " that of an high commissioned court, which was erected in Dublin after the “ English model, with the same formality and the same tremendous powers.”

11 3 Lel. p. 30, 31.


P. 338.

« PreviousContinue »