« PreviousContinue »
He, from that need his country does redeem,
Since those who want, may be supplied by him;
And foreign nations now may borrow more
From Cowley, than we could from them before;
Who, though he condescended to admit
The Greeks and Romans for his guides in wit,.
Yet he those ancient poets does pursue,
But as the Spaniards great Columbus do;
He taught them first to the new world to steer.
But they possess all that is precious there.
When first bis spring of wit began to flow,
It raised in some, wonder and sorrow too;
That God had so much wit and knowledge lent,
And that they were not in his praises spent:
But those who in his davideis look,
Find they his blossoms for his fruit mistook.
In diftring ages diff'rent muses shin'd;
His green did charm the sense his ripe the mind.
Writing for heaven, he was inspired from laeucc,
And from his theme derived his influence.
The scriptures will no more the wicked fright,
His muse does make religion a delight.
Oh! how severely man is us'd by fate 1
The covetous toil long for an estate;
And having got more than their life can spend,
They may bequeath it to a son or friend:
But learning (in which none can have a share,
Unless they climbe to it by time and care;)
Learning, the truest wealth a man can have,
Does with the body perish in the grave:
To tenements of clay it is confined,
Though 'tis the noblest purchase of the mind i
Oh! why can we thus leave bur friend posscss'd
Of all our acquisitions but the best!
Still when we study Cowley, we lament.
That to the world he was no longer lent;
Who, like a lightning to our eyes was shown.
So bright he sinned, and was so quickly gone:
Sure he rejoiced to see his flame expire,
Since he himself could not have raised it higher.
For when wise poets can no higher fly,
They would, like saints, in their perfections die.
Though beauty some affection in him bred,
Tet only sacred learning he wou'd wed;
By which th' illustrious offspring of his brain
Shall over wit's great empire ever reign:
His works shall five, when pyramids of pride
Shrink to such ashes as they long did hide."
His lordship's leisure at the end of a life of busy political labour, appears indeed to have been more productive of great and varied efforts of literature than the whole lives of most writers, and lead us to infer that if he had lived in a later age when the education of public men became more elaborate and extended, his genius would have displayed itself to advantage in some more congenial labours than those of poetry or even prose, inventions which to ensure any result of standard value, demand a more peculiar combination of powers than are required for the ordinary toils of either cabinet or camp. Besides the productions which we have already noticed, the earl composed the romance of "Parthenissa," in six parts, dedicated to Henrietta Maria Duchess of Orleans. We extract the opening of this dedication which is characteristic of the writer and of his time.
"Madam,—When I had last the honour to wait on your royal highness, you ordered me to write another part of Parthenissa, and you gave me leave at the same time to dedicate it to you. Only your commands, madam, could have made me undertake that work; and only your permission could have given me this confidence. But since your royal highness appointed me to obey, it was proportionate to your goodness to protect me in my obedience, which this dedication will; for all my faults, in this book, cannot be so great as his, who shall condemn what has been written for you, and is by your own allowance addressed to you."
The earl of Orrery also wrote a treatise on the art of war, in which he displayed much acquaintance with the ancient writers on that art. He wrote a reply to "a scandalous letter lately printed and subscribed by Peter Welch, procurator for the secular and regular priests of Ireland," and lastly "poems on most of the festivales of the church." The preface to this latter little work merits attention. "God of his abundant mercy, having convinced me how much precious time I had cast away on airy verses, I resolved to take a final leave of that sort of poetry; and in some degree, to repair the unhappiness and fault of what was past, to dedicate my muse in the future entirely to sacred subjects."
He is mentioned to have mostly written his poetry while confined by fits of gout; on which Dryden's compliment has been preserved: "like the priestess of Apollo, he delivered his oracles always in torment; and that the world was obliged to his misery for their delight." Lord Broghill is known also to be the writer of the act of settlement which soon after passed. This we shall have again to notice, when we come to detail the events of Irish history after the restoration.
He continued to obtain the respect of the country and the favour of the court; and was so esteemed for his superior sagacity and knowledge of affairs, as to be almost uniformly consulted on every occasion of moment by the king. His time was divided between his presidency and London, where he attended both as a peer of parliament and a member of the council.
He died 16th October, 1679, leaving a high character as a soldier, a statesman and a writer. Among the prominent peculiarities noticable in the history of his life, the extraordinary combination of readiness and self-possession which so often extricated him from difficult emergencies in which most persons would have been lost, must have repeatedly attracted the reader's notice. His personal appearance is thus described: "his person was of a middle size well shaped and comely, his eyes had that life and quickness in them which is usually the sign of great and uncommon parts. His wit rendered his conversation highly entertaining and amusing."*
iWurrogD ©'JSrten, lEarl Snd&iguin.
DIED A. D. 1674.
Murrough O'brien was probably born nearly about the year 1616, and was the eldest son of Dermid, fifth baron of Inchiquin. He was made ward to P. Fitz-Maurice, Esq., in 1628, and had special livery of his estates in 1636. Being of a spirited and martial temper, he early took to the study of arms, and served in the Spanish army in Italy for a couple of years, for the purpose of completing his military education. He returned home in 1639.*
He soon entered on the field of public life, and in a season that was to afford full development to his warlike taste. He was appointed vice-president of Munster, under St Leger, and was with him in the campaign into the county of Waterford, already described in our notice of St Leger.f
He soon distinguished himself, not only by his bravery, by many distinguished successes on the small scale, on which the early encounters of that long rebellion were fought. And when St Leger died, he was considered by the lords-justices as the most competent person to fill his station. He was first appointed in conjunction with lord Barry, who was manager of the civil departments as O'Brien of those connected with military affairs. Lord Barry, however, soon dying, his colleague was left to the general command. His lordship commanded in the battle of Liscarol, where he was opposed by Mountgarret, at the head of 7000 foot, and 500 horse; and with 1850 foot, and 400 horse gained a signal victory, with the slaughter of 800 of Mountgarret's men: when he might have marched on to Limerick, and put an end to the rebellion in that part of Ireland; but from the entire want of the necessary means to support his army upon that long march through a wasted country, he had not from this for some time an opportunity to perform any remarkable exploit.
After the cessation was concluded, he sent aids in men to the king; and soon after waiting upon his majesty in person to obtain his confirmation in the presidency of Munster, he had the affliction to discover that he did not stand as highly in his majesty's favour as his services had deserved. A nobleman, in no way connected with Ireland, but high in court favour, had supplanted him, and the presidency of Munster was pledged to the earl of Portland. During this visit to the court, O'Brien was also strongly affected with grief and indignation to perceive that the king, in order to strengthen himself in any way he might, was inclined to court the popular party, and to abandon the protestant interest in Ireland: urged by these considerations, and considering the interest of his country to be preferable to that of any other, he soon after his return, began to consider that for the present at least, this would be most effectually consulted by adopting the parliamentary side; and, with this opinion we must so far concur as to say, that, judging according to the principles of the party he had uni
« Lodgs. f Vol. II. p. 417.
formly acted with, he was not wrong. On this point two grounds of common prejudice are likely to bias the judgment: one is the confusion of the parties in Ireland with those in England: the other the judgment formed from the after circumstances of the war. The war between Charles and his parliament was viewed in Ireland as secondary to the great struggle for existence between two great parties who were otherwise in no way further connected with English politics than as they might promote their several interests; and for this reason, in judging of the consistency of individuals, it is not to be regarded whether or not they adhered throughout to the king or to the parliament; but whether or not they adhered to their own principles and party. As to the subsequent misfortunes of Charles, and crimes of his parliament, they could not, at the period to which we here refer, have been in the contemplation of any one, and must be left out of the question. In Ireland, the Roman catholic party, while in direct opposition to O'Brien's, were also in declared opposition to the king: the royal party soon saw reason to endeavour to conciliate them, and in this, were to a great extent successful, while the parliament, on the other hand, maintained those principles which had a closer affinity with the protestant interest throughout both kingdoms. It is thus apparent with what perfect consistency some of the most eminent persons on the stage of Irish affairs may have changed their paths and kept steady to their principles.
In 1644, we find O'Brien among the most spirited opponents of a cessation, which he viewed as more in accordance with the interests of king Charles, than for the protestant interest. He adhered to the parliament, and acted under its command, and by its assistance. Joining with lord Broghill, he drove the Roman catholic magistrates and inhabitants out of many of the southern towns, Cork, Youghal and Kinsale. After which he received from parliament the appointment of president of Munster. It was at a time however when the parliament was yet compelled to confine its resources to the wars in England, and their Irish adherents were left to carry on the struggle as they might themselves find the means. O'Brien was even compelled to enter into a truce with the rebels, which continued till the next spring, when the war was again renewed by the earl of Castlehaven.
On this occasion, he took the field with 1000 horse, and 1500 foot, and took several castles. But he was not supported by the parliament, and for some time nothing occurs in his history of sufficient magnitude to be specified: his zeal for the parliament was probably but small, as we find some accounts of disputes between him and their commissioners. In the year 1647, he obtained a very decided victory at Knocknones, near Mallow, 13th November, over a strong body of Irish under lord Taaffe. He had on this occasion 6000 foot, and 1200 horse: the Irish army amounted to 7000 foot, and 1076 horse. The loss of life was considerable on both sides: among the slain on the part of lord Taaffe, was the well known Alexander MacDonell, or Colkitto, so called for being lefthanded, and famous for personal prowess; his name is however best known as occurring in one of Milton's sonnets;
"Colkitto. or MacDonell, or Galasp."
On receiving the account of this victory, the parliament voted £10,000 for the war in Munster, and £1000, with a letter of thanks, to lord Inchiquin. This money did not however arrive, and in consequence, the army, under lord Inchiquin, began to suffer severely from want: nor was he without much cause for apprehension from the increasing armies of the Irish, who were on every side watching for the favourable moment to attack him in his distress. In this extremity he wrote a spirited remonstrance to the parliament, in which, alluding to his services, he complains, that of the £10,000 only £1500 had been remitted for the army. The delay he attributes to the misrepresentations of parliamentary agents in Ireland, with whom he considered himself to he an object of jealousy. The remonstrance was signed by his officers; but was ill-received by the parliament, who committed several of them, but soon after released them. *
This may perhaps be the truest way of accounting for his shortly after opening a treaty with the marquess of Ormonde; though in his case as in that of others, the exposure of the real views of the parliamentary party may have been sufficient to cause his desertion of them. He did not publicly declare an intention, which would at the moment have only the effect of putting him completely in the power of his enemies. He became suspected by his officers, but by considerable effort, and the exertion of much firmness and self-possession, they were first repressed, and then gained over. The parliament from this began to keep a close watch over his actions; but not having it in their power to displace his lordship, he was still enabled to take such private measures as appeared best to favour the party he had recently adopted. Cromwell sent over lord Lisle, with a commission, for a limited time, under the expectation that he might thus both supersede the command, and undermine the influence, of one whom he knew to be so dangerous as O'Brien. But the expedient proved unavailing for Cromwell's purpose: the authority of O'Brien was not to be shaken by any effort of a stranger; and as no step more direct could have been conveniently or safely adopted, against one, who had not openly declared his designs in favour of the royal party; the result of this proceeding was rather an increase than a diminution of his power. At the recall of lord Lisle, the suspicion against O'Brien seems indeed to have slumbered, for he was left in the command of the whole English army in the province of Munster. This force he carefully endeavoured to strengthen, and to animate with the spirit of his own intentions. In the mean time he kept up a constant correspondence with the marquess of Ormonde, whose movements he tried to accelerate, by all the resources of entreaty and strong representation.
On the 29th September, 1648, the marquess of Ormonde landed at Cork. Lord Inchiquin publicly received him as the lieutenant of king Charles, and by this decided step, drew upon himself the long impending bolt of parliamentary indignation. The parliament voted him a traitor; but the king appointed him president of Munster. Nor was it long before he signalized his newly awakened loyalty. The marquess of Ormonde having received intelligence, that Jones, the parlia