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CHAPTER III.

FROM THE ACCESSION OF JAMES THE FIRST, TO THE

GREAT REBELLION.

[1601.] Clement the Eighth had declared, that • the Scotchman should never ascend the throne of England, unless he submitted to the chair of Peter, and consented to hold the three kingdoms as fiefs of the holy see.' To support this menace, the pontiff had exerted the usual arts of his court, in negotiating with the French and Spanish governments, and in soliciting the Roman Catholics of the two islands. The talents of Cardinal Allen, and Father Parsons, had been combined to produce the Conference about the Succession ; and the equal zeal of less eminent agents had been employed in giving publicity to its doctrines. But France from humanity, and Spain from vexation t, refused to countenance the schemes of the Vatican ; in England the Protestant interest, already predominant, was now supported by the strength of the Scottish monarchy; and, after thirty years of exterminating warfare, some little respite was necessary for Ireland. Thus Clement was compelled to abandon his project; and on the demise of Elizabeth, the Scotchman had no competitor for the splendid inheritance. A few zealots indeed, in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and other places *, seemed willing to hazard a fresh insurrection in support of the Infanta and the Catholic cause ; but the vigour and address of the deputy Mountjoy soon removed these trifling exceptions to the general tranquillity.

* Mr. Butler, History of Catholics, i. 269. et seq.

† The French monarch said, that the design of his holiness would only make the Catholics more miserable than ever, by engaging them in an attempt against the laws and the lawful succession ;'. so much more tenderness had a foreign prince, than the Holy Father, for the welfare of the Roman Catholics. The Spaniard was irritated at the perfidy of the Vatican, which, after repeated promises, now refused to sanction his pretensions to England. Clement's plan was, to confer the three kingdoms upon the Lady Arabella Stuart, and the lady upon Cardinal Farnese:— the cardinal was, of course, to be ab. solved from his religious oaths. - Mr. Butler, as before.

It was not, however, the quiet of mere exhaustion, in which Ireland now lay. Expectation (just and natural, if it could have been restrained within sober limits; but dangerous, from the ardent temper of the people, and the mischievous industry with which their hopes were inflamed,) had its share in producing the unwonted calm. The old Irish regarded James as a kinsman t; and were taught to expect great favours from a prince, who, after an oppressive interregnum of four hundred and fifty years, had restored the legitimate line of their Milesian sovereigns. The monarch, on his part, gladly admitted the plea of consanguinity, and displayed a kindly interest in the welfare of his Irish people. To mark his accession as the auspicious opening of a new era, he commenced his reign with an act of indemnity and oblivion for all past offences; and, as a pledge of the indulgence to be shown to minor culprits, received O'Neil, and his son-in-law O'Donel, with distinguished attention. This sweeping amnesty was followed by a commission of grace, for the settlement of landed property : by which, the great proprietors were secured against the claims of the crown ; inferior holders were, in their turn, protected from the exactions of the nobles; and all estates made descendible according to the law of England. Lastly, the whole body of the common people, Milesians, and those Anglo-Irish who had fallen into the native customs, were emancipated for ever from the dominion of their lords : Ulster, with parts of Leinster and Connaught, for the first time, and Munster, after an interval of two centuries, saw judges taking their circuits of assize, and dispensing the comforts of English jurisprudence. Benevolent, but ineffectual measures: - It was beyond the reach of a proclamation, to abolish the memory of old grievances; to make an Irish landlord contented with equal laws and a reasonable rent; to appease the hungry and contentious expectancies, which, by the usages of tanistry and gavelkind, were collected round an Irish property ;

* These riots are described by Cox with absurd exaggeration: this writer's prejudices render him almost as unsafe a guide on one side, as Curry, Plowden, and the elder O'Conor are upon the other.

† Several Irish writers, O'Flaherty, Lynch, O'Halloran, &c. dwell with much complacency upon the genealogy of the house of Stuart.

or to qualify those, who had been brutalized by the tyranny of ages, for the immediate enjoyment of British freedom.

While James was thus endeavouring to conciliate his Irish subjects, the hierarchy had prepared another, and more insidious ground, for their wild hopes and conditional loyalty. The son of a Catholic martyr *, as these prelates loved to style the new monarch, inherited, it was said, the orthodox principles of his parent, and waited only for an opportunity of declaring himself. In the mean time, they resolved to act as if assured of his favour ; — his acquiescence might lead to their peaceful re-establishment; his resistance might stimulate the prodigal valour of their votaries to another desperate struggle. The regular priests, who had been banished in the preceding reign, now returned in troops; and, disdaining to perform their rites in unmolested privacy, braved the law by their ostentatious exhibitions : they were seen in all the towns, marching in processions, clothed in the habits of their respective orders, and unfurling all the pageantry of their gaudy ceremonial. As revenues are never wanting to the titular hierarchy, when it is thought expedient to display the magnificence of the church, means were found, to restore the Roman Catholic worship in considerable splendour : crosses were erected in conspicuous places, chapels were built, monasteries repaired,

* He is so styled by a contemporary titular bishop, Dr. Routh, Analecta Sacra.

and, in several instances, the reformed clergy were ejected from the parish churches. The times were no longer considered to require any compromise. Those of the laity who had hitherto frequented the Protestant service, and who were distinguished from the recusant party by the title of church papists", relaxed, and ultimately discontinued, their attendance. The ecclesiastics began to revive their old claim of superiority over the civil power: they reviewed causes which had been determined in the king's courts; and they enjoined the populace, under pain of mortal sin, to renounce the laws, for the sacred authority of the canons. Could they have been satisfied with an actual toleration, James was not indisposed to overlook these bold proceedings : but when their agents petitioned the throne for a formal recognition t of the papal system, the extravagance of the request, the fear of some new conspiracy, the confidence avowed by the recusants, that they could command what they had chosen to solicit ; and that sterner spirit of Protestantism, which was now spreading rapidly through the two islands, all united to arrest

* In the same spirit, the agitators of the present day call the moderate Roman Catholics Orange Papists.

+ Such a recognition has not been yet obtained. It is now universally known, that a correspondence with Rome, which, according to the modern discipline, is necessary for the maintenance of communion with the church, subjects the party to very heavy legal penalties. The residence of papal ecclesiastics in the British dominions is therefore only connived at, not legally tolerated.

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