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nugatory, when they are only the cover of intrigue and the hollow artifice of disaffection—too firm and resolute to enter into the entangled pretexts of lurking faction, Wentworth saw, and for a time acted upon the principle, that the disorders of the island were not within the scope of mere constitutional remedies; and that what was really wanting was the prompt and total suppression of those factions (and of the grounds on which they contended) by which the country was impeded in its advance. He saw, and he was, perhaps, the first who saw, that civil liberty had preceded civil order; and that it was essential to repress factions that used the powers and rights of men with the discretion of children.
But this praise has unfortunately a striking reverse: the strong will of Strafford sunk between the pressure of opposite emergencies. With all the stern singleness of policy which can be discerned in the main features of his conduct: he suffered himself to be entangled in the difficulties arising from a twofold purpose; while he clearly discriminated and desired to remedy the evils which retarded the advances of national prosperity, he was overruled at every step by a still more prevailing zeal for the interests of his master. Hence it became desirable to strengthen the hands of that party, whose interest could most easily be identified with those of the crown. But another cause operated to impell him further still in the same course: in his earliest attempts to assume a lofty and discretionary control over every existing authority, he was not suffered to proceed many steps before he came in contact with a power more firm and uncontrollable than any resistance he could bring to bear against it. The iron ramparts of the church of Rome had been by this time reared to an elevation too commanding, and fixed on a foundation too broad and deep, to be shaken by the will of Strafford. It had become a moral power and a law of nature, identified with the strength of the masses of the people. It could not be shaken by any force which he possessed. Of this power then, which he could not master, he was compelled to avail himself. The leaders of this party were not slow to perceive their advantage: they had but to declare loudly for the favourite objects of Strafford, the cause of Charles; while their leaders manifested a firmness of will equal to. his own. The consequence soon becomes apparent in the history of that period. Strafford unhesitatingly adopted the party which constrained his politics and favoured his loyalty: and from that moment adopted that course which soon after become so fatal to Ireland. He constrained all resistence, it is true, and gave a transient preponderance to the laws of progress; and if the action thus impressed could have continued, it had been well. But in applying the power of his own firm will, he undermined all other constraints. The army he abandoned into the hands of the popular party: the corporations, the main bulwarks of civil order and of the constitution, he handed over to the leaders of a political conspiracy of which revolution was the settled aim. And to the consequences which were to result from this error, he scattered discontents and terrors with a bold hand, among all those classes which had any interest in the constitution of law and property which he was thus endangering. Among the most fatal errors of his policy, a disregard to settled rights leaves the deepest stain upon his Irish administration. He had the rashness to renew the project of the plantation of Connaught; a measure which had already excited so much alarm, again awakened the fear and discontent of the West of Ireland. On former occasions either the fear or justice of the government had recoiled from the prosecution of this unjustifiable project: the vigour of Wentworth went straight to its mark, and set aside every consideration which opposed the thorough-working policy on which he acted. Had the course of English affairs given permanency to the measures of this able statesman and allowed his projects to be carried into effect we do not hesitate to say, that this, like many other strong measures, would have been conducive to the end proposed, and led to the most beneficial results. But it would assuredly remain on the page of impartial history as a signal example of good resulting from evil means, for no consideration can palliate the scandalous injustice of the entire proceeding. The property thus assailed had been confirmed by repeated acts, grants, patents and declarations of government; nor had any pretence of forfeiture arisen to give a colour to the scenes of tyrannical and fraudulent trials and inquisitions by which Wentworth deprived Longford, Gal way, and Roscommon of their rights.
The actual consequences of these iniquitous proceedings were as unfortunate as the step itself was unjust. The termination of Wentworth's administration, and the sudden disruption of all control, occasioned by the civil wars in England, left the contentious animosities of Ireland uncontrolled, and aggravated by a large accumulation of real and imaginary wrongs. The merits of Wentworth were not such as to be fully appreciated: his successful care of trade, the preservation of order, and the repression of all minor despots, had no praise; but the stern and sweeping control which had allowed no consideration to stand in the way of his iron policy, was universally impressed in characters of hate and resentment. The better part of his policy had been for all, and it was resented by every part. It regarded the future, but it tended to embitter the prejudices and disturb the security of the present. He was encumbered by the difficulties, and entangled by the weakness and inconsistencies of his master, and was thus compelled into false positions, and the adoption of dangerous and unjust expedients. In the adoption of a stern policy, of which the best recommendation was its principle of impartiality, he was soon brought into collision with a power to which he found it necessary to give way, and his administration was deprived of strict claim to be praised as impartial.
When, as we have said, the course of English affairs suddenly removed the strong control of this resolute and able minister, and for a season interrupted the ruling influence of English power, all the long accumulating passions of the popular party in Ireland swelled unrepressed and unresisted to their height. The claims which had been overruled—the rights which had been justly or unjustly set aside—the prejudices which had been trampled down—the parties which had been forced to quail—all felt themselves unchained from their indignant and forced repose. But above all, that religious animosity which is most deeply cherished by the most ignorant and most numerous classes, was the prevailing spirit of the moment, which gave the impulse, and lent its name and form to every fierce element of national discontent.
During a long interval of seeming calm, the moral and political agencies to which the policy of king James had given birth, went on with that salutary working, which nothing short of actual insurrection could counteract. Though discontent and insecurity were spreading and Combining into the elements of future havoc, trade and the cultivation of the soil were producing wealth, and wealth was effecting its civilizing changes. These too, lent their force to the approaching billow.
The country had much augmented in wealth, order, and civilization, during the previous interval of thirty years: trade had been extended, population increased, and a numerous class of those small proprietors which constitute the real force of a nation, and on whose prosperity its resources, freedom, and the stability of its institutions ultimately depend, was spreading widely in every county. But with the increase of the constituent forces of a nation, its disturbances become more hard to overrule: the scanty resources, the isolated discontents, and unskilful movements of the chiefs of the sixteenth century, could always be repressed by a decided march and with forces numerically far inferior. The deep and pervading discontents and excitements of 1641, raised the population of the whole island into a state of furious insurrection. In numbers, in arms, and in intelligence, as also perhaps in physical organization, the people had made a considerable advance; and through the greater part of the conflicts of this long and sanguinary rebellion, both parties were on a level as to discipline and success. This unfortunate circumstance, by which the war was prolonged to a disastrous duration, was partly owing to the fact, that the forces on either side were similarly composed. But we gladly avail ourselves of the prefatory character of this article, to turn away from the detail of this dreadful scene of blood.
The civil wars in England were terminated by the usual event of such contests; the protracted struggle between the people and the throne ended in the blood of the monarch, the suppression ov the rebel commons, and the ascendant sway of a military despot. The Irish civil war, which, in the absence of all external pressure, would have raged while there remained a hand which could wield the weapon of civil murder, was soon controlled into tranquillity by the iron ranks of Cromwell, Ireton, and Ludlow.
The restoration brought with it peace, for civil war had taught its severe but transient lessons. But it was far from setting at rest the wrathful elements of strife and animosity. Many had been divested of their rights—many had obtained wrongful possessions—numerous claims on the score of service had arisen—a fearful balance of wrong and hostility lay fermenting in the scale of retribution: the fears and expectations of every class were roused into action. The king was embarrassed by this pressure of fierce opposites: the demands of justice, or gratitude, or the exigencies of policy were to 'be satisfied. He was in some degree relieved from his embarrassment, by a paper drawn up by the earl of Ossory, Sir John Clotworthy, and Sir A. Mervyn, containing the following estimate of property which might serve for the satisfaction of a large class of these claimants:—
"The estate* of persons excepted by the aet
of indemnity • • • • • £14,000 per annnm.
Gifu and gratuities of Cromwell's to persons
that had not served .... 9,000 „
English debentures and debts struck off . 10,000 „
of . 15,000 „
Lands in the county of Cork, not disposed of 25,000 „
Lands in the county of Kerry, not disposed of 7,000 „
besides other interests in Connaught and Clare, and numerous estates to be discovered on further inquiry. This representation was considered to remove all difficulties. The king commanded a declaration to be drawn up for the settlement of the country, which he signed on the 30th November, 1660. In this declaration he confirmed the possession of all lands held on May 7th, 1659, by the acts 17 and 18 Car. I.; and engaged to make good such deficiencies as might be proved before the following first of May. He confirmed the allotments of lands possessed by soldiers in lieu of pay, excepting church lands, and such estates as had been obtained by bribery, prejudice, or other undue means; or which had been obtained by false admeasurement; or belonged to any of the regicides, or to persons who had endeavoured since the restoration to disturb the public peace, or openly displayed their hostility to his restoration and government. The officers who had claims yet unsatisfied for service before 1649, were to be satisfied for their respective arrears. Protestants, (with certain exceptions) whose lands had been given to adventurers or soldiers, were to be restored to them; and the present possessors to receive compensation and not to be made accountable for mesne profits. Innocent Papists were also to be restored under certain provisions in favour of purchasers to whom they might have sold their estates. A different Erovision was made for those, who having been engaged in rebellion, ad submitted and adhered to the peace of 1648. Of these, any who had sold their estates, were to be bound by their own act, unless they had since served the king, in which case, they were to be admitted to the recovery of their estates, due compensation being first made to the possessor for repairs, improvements, and incumbrances affecting the estate before his possession and discharged by him. Thirty-six of the nobility and gentry were specially enumerated in the declaration, and restored at once without being put to the trouble of any proof.f
Such were the main provisions of this famous declaration; from the benefit of which they were excluded who were concerned in the surprise of the Castle in 1641, the judges of Charles I., they who had signed his sentence, and the guard who had been present at the execution. It was lastly provided that nothing in this declaration should affect the lands ana tenements of any city or incorporated seaport town; but that such possessions should remain with the king to restore to such corporations as should be found deserving of his favour.
• Carte'« Ormood, Vol. II. p. 816. t Cart*.
This settlement gave more satisfaction to the king's enemies than to his friends. It was upon the whole rather adapted to conciliate hostility than to reward friendship, or secure justice. While the claims of fanatic soldiers and adventurers were carefully satisfied, the provision for those who had fought the king's battles, or continued steady to their pledge of peace, were but nominal; the difficulties of proof were multiplied, and the claims to be paid off were disproportioned to the value of the estates. These grounds of complaint are well stated by Leland:—" In these instructions they complained, that the qualifications necessary to ascertain their innocence, were so severely stated, that scarcely any of their nation could expect a sentence of acquittal. No man was to be restored as an innocent Papist, who, at or before the cessation of the year 1643, was of the royal party, or enjoyed his property in the quarters of the rebels, except the inhabitants of Cork and Youghal, who were driven into these parties by force. No papist was to be deemed innocent who had entered into the Irish confederacy before the peace of forty-eight: none who had at any time adhered to the nuncio, the clergy, or the papal power in opposition to the royal authority; or who, having been excommunicated for his loyalty, had acknowledged himself an offender and received absolution. Whoever derived the title to his estate from any who died guilty of these crimes: whoever claimed his estate on the articles of peace, and thus acknowledged his concurrence in the rebellion: whoever in the English quarters held correspondence with the rebels: whoever before the peace of forty-six, or that of forty-eight, sat in any assemblies or councils of the confederates, or acted by any commissions derived from them: whoever employed agents to treat with any foreign papal power for bringing forces into Ireland, or acted in such negotiations, or harassed the country as wood kernes or " tories," as they were called before the departure of the Marquis of Clanricarde, were all to be considered as guilty of rebellion, and incapable of restitution."*
We need not here state the arguments put forward by either party, for or against these provisions; the fairness of some and the injustice of others need no comment now. The discontents and heartburnings which, just or unjust, they must have helped to prolong, and the leaven of bitterness which they preserved among a mass of ill combined ingredients, cannot escape the attention of the reflecting reader. It may be summarily stated, that no party effective was satisfied—the discontent of some and the fears of others contributed to scatter disaffection through every rank, and to foster the yet unextinguished elements of civil strife. To this, the feebleness of government, and the inadequacy of the military force which the need and extravagance of Charles could afford to Ireland, added strength; and, it may be said, that during his reign, the country was on the verge of an insurrection from which it was mainly preserved by the vigilance and activity of individuals, and the sagacious foresight and caution of the Duke of Ormonde—to the history of whose life we have referred the chief details of Irish history, during the reigns of Charles I. and II. But we may here observe, that there
•Leland, III. 418.