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strengthen his authority and conciliate his subjects, CHAP. he left them to their own laws and their own ways, while they in turn became the instruments of his ambition. His Norman dependents followed the example, took Irish wives, and followed Irish fashions ; and if on one side, and in some places, the conquerors had introduced civilization, elsewhere they had but lent fresh strength and sinew to the very thing which they were sent to subdue.
The metamorphosis of the feudal baron into the Celtic chief was not completed without efforts from the nobler part of the English settlers to arrest the downward progress. By the statute of Kilkenny, in 1367, it was made treason for an Englishman of birth or blood to accept or govern by the laws of the Brehons. Intermarriage with the Irish, or fostering? with the Irish, was made treason. Those who had chosen to adopt Irish manners, Irish names or language, were threatened with forfeiture. Private war between the great families had become as frequent and as scandalous as before the Conquest. Swords were forbidden to be drawn without orders from the Lord Deputy ; and wardens of the peace were named for every county to see the law obeyed. The attempt to keep the races apart has lately been considered vain and impolitic; but the framers of these statutes understood the conditions more clearly than those who condemn them. The interfusion of races did not mean the elevation of the Irish to the level of their rulers, but the degradation of the ruler to the state of those whose fashions it was his business to extirpate. It meant that every separate potentate was
1 Entrusting the children to of all the means by which the deIrish foster-nurses, the most fatal
generacy was brought about.
to assume a savage independence, and, for the sake of himself and his immediate dependents, to extend and perpetuate the lawlessness which was Ireland's curse.
The Kilkenny Parliament was followed by fresh efforts on the part of England. Richard the Second appeared in person on the scene, brought the chiefs upon their knees, read Ireland the often-repeated lesson that England had but to exert herself to assert an instant and absolute supremacy.
Absenteeism, the deepest root of the mischief, had already been at work. Lords and gentlemen, who retained most completely the English character, and whose presence in Ireland, therefore, was most indispensable, had learnt to prefer the society of their friends at home to the pain and trouble of coercing banditti in Donegal or Galway. They had reduced their connection with their estates to drawing rent or revenues from them; and the old families came back into their places charged with payments which on such terms were no more than robbery. Civilization was not sufficiently advanced to tolerate modern views of the rights of property. They were ordered back to their posts under pain of confiscation.
Unhappily, a cycle of civil war was opening in England itself. Richard, the slave of parasites and courtiers, was shaking on his throne. Three times he crossed to Ireland: on his last visit, in 1399, he was perhaps looking to his subjects there, as Charles the First and James the Second looked afterwards, to save him from revolution at home. He failed and fell, entailing in his overthrow a century of convulsions. The House of Lancaster, to divert attention and strengthen their imperfect titles by
gratifying the national vanity, flung themselves into CHAP. conquest. Had the army which conquered at Agincourt been directed upon Ireland, had the genius which for a brief interval turned France into an English province, been addressed to the subjugation and settlement of England's own dominions, Henry the Fifth might have left a less distinguished name, but the Irish difficulty might have been for ever ended, and he would have bequeathed to his son a less fatal inheritance. But Ireland, as in a later century, was neglected as too inglorious a field for enterprise, and was left to her own will, to tear in pieces the parchment laws which there was no longer a sword to enforce. As disaster thickened in France the change in Ireland was significantly marked. So far from absenteeism being checked, the wars had recalled a yet larger number of the Norman-Irish leaders to take part in the struggle. The pretence of carrying English law through the whole country was formally abandoned. The four counties known as the English Pale' were divided from the rest of the island, where the Irish, except in the sea towns, were left to themselves. The English were required by a statute of Henry the Sixth to distinguish themselves by a difference in the beard. Those of the natives who cared to be protected by English law were allowed to live within the frontier on condition of adopting the English characteristics. Those beyond the Pale came to be called the king's Irish enemies. The English were forbidden to hold intercourse with them, visit them, or even trade with them ; and an Irishman found inside the border was liable to arrest
1 Dublin, Meath, Kildare, and Louth.
2 Shaving the upper lip.
as a spy. Every 'liegeman’ was permitted to kill notorious thieves, and received a reward from the county for each thief destroyed, which the sheriff was bound to levy. As a corollary on this statute arose the famous saying, that it was no felony to kill an Irishman. Those who formally refused submission to English law could not be allowed its protection.
Such measures were symptoms of growing weakness, and of the recovering strength of the Irish clans. The Wars of the Roses followed, and completed the collapse. England was disabled for half a century from further efforts, and the counties of the Pale followed the rest of the island. The best of the remaining English went back to give their swords to Red Rose or White, and the English interest in Ireland was reduced to the families who cared least for their old homes, and had identified themselves most completely with the land of their adoption. The O's and the Macs repossessed themselves of their old inheritances. Ulster they recovered altogether. In the south and west the Anglo-Normans held their ground, but only by having become denationalized themselves. Geraldines, Butlers, and Burkes shared the country with O'Neils, O'Donnells, O'Connors, O'Rourkes, O'Briens, and O'Sullivans, scarce distinguishable from them in habit or appearance, with no law but the Brehon. They made war on each other, maraud
1 Irish Statutes, 25 Hen. VI. rious known thieves, and thieves
found robbing and spoiling and ? It was not necessary that they breaking into houses by night or should be caught in the act of day, and thieves found in the robbery. “It shall be lawful to manner- to kill them.'- 28 Hen. every liegeman of our sovereign VI. cap. 3. lord the King—all manner noto
ing, burning, killing, driving each other's cattle, as if they were no better than so many robber chieftains, and owned no more obedience to England than an acknowledgment of titular authority. For the first time for three hundred years Ireland was in full and ample possession of all the privileges of home rule.
Bosworth Field and the accession of the House of Tudor gave peace to England, and brought with it the necessity of facing the Irish problem once more. The English sovereigns, though not yet calling themselves Kings of Ireland, were Domini, or lords paramount there ; and, having claimed supremacy over the island, were responsible to God and man for the administration of some kind of justice there. The unwelcome task might still have been postponed, but the Irish lords themselves forced forward the consideration of it. They considered, as their descendants considered on the deposition of James the Second, that, though attached to the English Crown, they were not attached to England, and had a right to determine for themselves who was or was not the lawful possessor of the throne. The White Rose was, on the whole, the favourite with them; and pretenders, who came to them as its representatives, were instantly made welcome. They crowned Lambert Simnel in Dublin. When Lambert Simnel broke down, they received Perkin Warbeck, and met him in a Parliament. These phantom figures soon vanished, but their reception decided Henry the Seventh to make a resolute attempt to put the bridle
1 The sea towns remained Eng- and bailiffs of Waterford applied for lish, the magistrates seemingly and obtained permission to go on having so little to do in the way of pilgrimage to St. James of Composecular management, or so little stella.— Cox, vol. i. p. 175. care to do it, that in 1483 the mayors