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While this examination was going on, MacMahon and others were secured; many however escaped seizure, and of those who were taken, some contrived to get away. MacMahon, when brought before the council, spoke plainly. He seems to have relied on the assumption that the insurrection was successful in every other part of the kingdom. It was five in the morning, and he told them “ that on that very day, all the forts and strong places in Ireland would be taken.”—“ That he with the lord Maguire, &c., &c., were come up expressly to seize the castle of Dublin, and that 20 men out of each county in the kingdom were to be there to join them. That all the lords and gentlemen in the kingdom that were papists, were engaged in the plot; that what was that day to be done in other parts of the country, was so far advanced by that time, as it was impossible for the wit of man to prevent it. And withal told them, that it was here they had him in their
power and might use him how he pleased, but he was sure he should be revenged.”
It is mentioned, that while MacMahon was waiting in the hall, he was observed to amuse himself with chalking out the figures of men hanging on gibbets, or lying prostrate on the ground. The act was probably designed to convey a threat, by the only means left at the moment.
While the justices were yet at lord Borlase's dwelling, at Chichester house in College green, then without the city gates, they were found by Sir Francis Willoughby, the governor of the fort of Galway. Arriving that evening he found the gates shut and noticed an unusual appearance of movement and bustle in the surrounding suburbs. Being apprised that the justices were there he hastened to find them.
He informed them that he had found the country quiet along his way; but that there was a very considerable concourse of strange horsemen pouring into the suburbs. And advised their removal into the castle.
The lords-justices, having removed into the castle at Willoughby's advice, appointed him commander of the castle and city. And sent out a proclamation into all parts of the country to put the peaceful and loyal on their guard.
“ Thus,” observes Carte, “ by the hand of Providence rather than by the care of the government, was defeated a design, easy in the execution, and which, if it had taken effect, would have endangered the whole kingdom.” The castle was guarded by eight infirm soldiers and forty halberdiers, and contained 1500 barrels of powder, with ball and other arms in proportion, and 35 cannon.
We must for the present refer the subsequent events to other memoirs, and return to Moore. On the night of the incidents above narrated he made his escape, and directed his course to Ulster, where he thought his presence most necessary. While there he is supposed to have been the author of a manifesto which shortly after made its appearance, stating the complaints of the Roman catholics and their motives in taking arms. Such documents need not be here quoted, as in all such
cases, they can only be regarded as specious, and for the purpose of giving the fairest or most popular outside to a cause. With regard to Moore, we believe him to have been sincere in all that he professed, and far from the execrable purposes which have been imputed to many engaged in that rebellion. His wish was but justice, according to the notions he entertained, and he had chimerically assumed that justice could be executed strictly, and humanity preserved by the sword of insurrection—a dream, which has often deluded the enthusiastic and high-minded, who little know or are capable of knowing the instruments they must use and the passions they are about to awaken. In his manifesto, Moore dwelt upon the oppression of the Roman catholics by inferior governors acknowledged that they had been indulged with liberty of conscience, by the favour of the king; but complains of the fears which they had reason to entertain from the landing of the Scots, who were expected to land “ with sword and Bible,” for the extinction of the Roman catholic religion in Ireland. They complain of a design against the “papist and protestant bishops of the kingdom," and propose “ that the king should secure them and the protestants of this kingdom,” &c. We have quoted the above words from this paper for the purpose of showing the peculiar ground which was at first taken up by the more moderate of Moore's party. And it is necessary to notice, that the word protestant is often used by the Roman Catholies in their writings of that period, in contra-distinction from the puritans.
It appears indeed, plain enough, from the general tenor, both of the public declarations and conduct of Roger Moore and his associates, that they neither designed nor anticipated the frightful scenes which were to follow. Rebellion as it advances, rapidly numbers in its ranks all the extreme views and all the atrocious passions of human nature As the movement advances, it grows broad and deep; and its constituent elements become more fierce, unrefined, and base. The philosophers and politicians, the soldiers, scholars, and gentlemen, are soon pushed aside to make way for the ruffianly and reckless spirits, which ever take the lead in popular movements; and such was the course of these erents which are now so long to fill our pages.
Moore's activity and genius had propagated an impulse, which was ere long to escape from his control. On the other side, the danger was increased by the incapacity of government, and the want of all the ordinary resources of civil control; there was neither justice, prudence, nor vigour, to meet it at the source. Instead of a formidable resort to military means or a fair disposition to redress reasonable complaints, a strife of intrigue and insidious negotiation commenced the contest. The memorials presented to the king were mixed with complaints against the lords-justices; these in their turn sent private statements to the earl of Leicester; and their statements were largely mingled with misrepresentation. They also harassed and impeded the proceedings of the parliament which was sensible of the approaching crisis, and disposed to act with spirit tempered by moderation.
If, indeed, it may be said with truth, that the insurgent party were ignorant of the consequences which they were to draw upon themselves and their country, there seems every reason to suspect that the Irish government was equally infatuated. They either underrated the danger, (the common error of governments) or they ignorantly wished to push the rebellion to an extremity of which they computed the advantages. The errors were probably concurrent.
The result was an effort to impede such information as might be expected to bring succour from England, and to check the loyalty of the well-affected. They had with difficulty been prevailed upon to call a parliament ; and when it had assembled, they were so anxious to get rid of it, that they would hardly allow time for a vote of supply. The parliament drew up a spirited declaration against the rebellion, and appointed agents to inquire and report the state of matters to the king and council; but they were not allowed the time required for the completion of this proceeding. A second day was allowed on much entreaty by the obstinacy of the lords-justices. And the parliament, finding itself suspected, or divining the real motive, and resolved on discharging its duty to the public, passed a vote empowering them to levy forces for the defence of the kingdom, and to raise money by assessment for the
purpose. Lord Dillon of Costello was appointed to present a memorial to the king, containing complaints against the lords-justices, and recommending the appointment of the earl of Ormonde. It is also probably conjectured, * that they recommended the adoption of those just measures for the security of property, which could not fail to be unacceptable to the party then at the helm. But the industry of the castle was alert in the vocation of intrigue. In the very same packet which conveyed lord Dillon with his commission, the agent of Parsons and Borlase conveyed their counter-statements and their representations of the design and characters of the opposed part of the council, whose names are given by Carte and others—Sir Richard Bolton the lord chancellor, Bulkeley, archbishop of Dublin, earl of Ormonde, Anthony Martin, bishop of Meath, John Leslie bishop of Raphoe, Robert lord Dillon of Kilkenny West, afterwards lord Roscommon, and Sir Gerard Lowther, judge of the common pleas. These persons who were for acting by the only rational and just way, and employing military rigour to suppress violence, and legislative justice to quiet just discontents, were denounced by the narrow and self-interested lordsjustices, whose representations were but too successful. Declaring their distrust in the eminent persons whom we have enumerated, and the danger of employing any force levied in Ireland or commanded by Irishmen, they entreated for an English army, of which they proposed to supply the expense by confiscations.
The packet was met by a storm, and cast upon the Scottish coast. Lord Dillon and lord Taaffe, the agents of the moderate party, while proceeding on their way to London, were seized at Ware, and their papers taken from them and suppressed: after which they were confined for some months, until their escape was considered of no consequence.
| Carte, I. 228.
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Such were, in brief, the circumstances which gave to Moore's expedient the force of a universal call to arms, and subsequently led to the most hapless direction of popular fanaticism—a fatal instrument, which has never been successful for good, though it has often forged an iron crown, and riveted the chains of those who are its dupes: under its insane influence the lunacy of nations—deeds have been done, of fear, desperation, and blind resentment, which the plain rule of justice, unsusceptible of refined distinctions, must for the interests of mankind treat as guilt; although the decision of the historian, who is allowed to weigh men's actions in the balance of determining motives and causes, may temper his judgment with the palliation of error, infatuation, and the panio of insane excitement, which, when it seizes the crowd, seems to awaken and concentrate the worst passions of man's nature into something more fierce and formidable than belongs to and other known living species.
The violent proceedings of the English commons, and the policy of the rebel leaders, as here described, was rendered still more productive of evil by the first measures of the lords-justices. While they repelled the aid of the nobility and gentry of Ireland, they had recourse to that of persons who were recommended by their thorough participation in the views and prejudices of their employers. A soldier of fortune trained in the former rebellion of Ulster, led a small force against a party of rebels which had invested the castle of Wicklow. These were easily repelled; but the soldiers of the lords-justices committed the most unprovoked outrages upon the people of the town, and thus gave a premature specimen of the mercy to be expected from these men. They sent an undisciplined body of 650 men to the relief of Drogheda, and thus afforded the rebel leaders the opportunity of a triumph, which served to increase and encourage their followers. And, lastly, they crowned the offence which their whole conduct had given to the Roman catholic lords of the pale, by an insulting exhibition of distrust.
These noblemen, sensible of the approaching commotion and of their own dangerous and questionable position, between their own party and a suspicious and bigoted administration, chose their course with decision and prudence. They prepared at once to embark in the cause of order, loyalty, and the constitution. They had already joined in the vain effort to urge the castle to its duty: they now offered their services. They were met by shallow insidiousness and demonstrations of treachery, too thinly disguised to escape detection; their offers were refused, they were neither allowed to fight for the protection of the state, nor in their own defence: they were desired to stand out naked and defenceless, spurned by one side and a mark for the other. They were disarmed, menaced, and insulted; and withal, the course of things was such as to render it quite evident that the creed which made them objects of all this degradation, must soon assume the form and character of crime. Their position was one of extreme trial; and their conduct is here to be reviewed with humane allowance.
Of these circumstances, favourable for his purpose, Roger Moore was on the watch to take advantage. The lords of the pale met and sent a temperate letter of remonstrance, in which they adverted to the rejection of their services against the rebels, and complained that language had been used in council such as to deter them from waiting upon the lords-justices, &c. To this the lords-justices replied by a proclaination, in which they denied the alleged words; and presently summoned the lords Fingal, Gormanston, Slane, Dunsany, Netterville, Louth, and Trimleston, to attend at a board, on the 17th December, that they might confer with them.
On this, the lords thus summoned, with the principal gentry of the county of Meath, assembled to consult on the hill of Crofty. They had not long been there when they were approached by Roger Moore, attended by colonel MacMahon, and other rebel gentlemen, with a guard of