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raised by Simnel's coronation had to be disposed of before a final settlement. Sir Edward Poynings, sent over as Deputy, carried through the Irish Parliament the two famous acts known by his name, by which English law was constitutionally established in Ireland ;) and the Irish legislature surrendered its pretence to pass measures which had not been first approved in London. This point concluded, the sword of justice was delivered over to the Kildares, and was held by them for a quarter of a century.
The establishment of the Tudor dynasty, it been sometimes supposed, was the most favourable opportunity as yet offered for the erection of an Ireland loyal to England, yet governed by her own people according to Irish ideas ;' and had it been tolerable for an orderly and well administered kingdom to retain a dependency at its doors abandoned wholly to those habits of lawlessness which governments exist to repress, the administration of the Geraldines might have been continued indefinitely without provoking a collision. Poynings’ Acts were an unfelt restraint, when the statutes of an Irish Parliament were not even nominally in force beyond the Pale. The Kildares deriving their strength from th popularity could govern only by humouring the 'ideas,' which they were chosen to represent ; and where in other countries anarchy works its own cure through the miseries which it creates, in Ireland the misery was itself enjoyment. The free right of every one to make war upon his neighbour at pleasure was the Magna Charta of Irish liberty. To sacrifice the privilege of appeal to the ordeal of battle was to sacrifice everything which made life itself worth 1 10 Hen. VII. cap. 22.
2 10 Hen. VII. cap. 4.
BOOK having.' So long as England left the Irish free to
plunder and kill, they were well contented that one of themselves should sit in Dublin Castle with the title of King's Vicegerent. Freedom such as Scotland fought for, the inhabitants of the sister island never sought or cared for. Conscious that they could not stand alone, they were satisfied to live under a power which left them in possession of all that they desired, without risk of interference from other countries which might perhaps prove less forbearing. If the absence of every element which in the court of reason and conscience constitute the justification for the forcible annexation of Ireland, formed a hopeful ground for the establishment of amicable relations between the two peoples, the attempt to govern by 'Irish ideas,' as exemplified in the administration of the house of Kildare, had only to have been persevered in to have brought about the desired union of heart and affections.
But England to her misfortune has never been able to persevere long in any one policy towards Ireland. She tries coercion, till impatience with the cost, and a sense of the discredit, produce a hope
1 Some sayen also that all the worlde that have more lybertye in noble folke of the lande of Ireland, viceis than Ireland and lesselybertye fro the highest degree to the lowest, in vertue; for every greate captayne English or Irish, that useyth the within his rome holdeyth by the sayde extortions hadde lever to sworde imperyall jurysdyction at continue the same at ther lybertye, his lybertye that nature most and bere the greate daunger of desyre; which he shulde lose for Godde and of their enemyes,
than ever if the lande were orderyd and to have all the lande as well be at lybertye in vertue ; that is to orderyd as England and as obedyent be obedyent to the Kynge's laws to Godde and to the King, if ther- and to the Holye Churche.'-'State bye they shulde lose their lybertyes of Ireland and Plan for its Reformain vyceis and the said extortions; tion. State Papers, Hen. VIII. for ther is no lande in all thys vol. ii. p. 16.
that coercion is no longer needed, or a belief that it has been a mistake from the beginning. Conciliation follows, and compromise, and concession, and apology. The strain is taken off, the anarchy revives, and again with monotonous uniformity there is a fresh appeal to the sword. The ignominy of having a country nominally subject to him, where the first elements of social order had yet to be introduced, forced itself slowly and with difficulty into the mind of Henry the Eighth. No one knew better than he that order was a plant of slow growth, that bad habits were a second nature, to be changed only by time and forbearance. “Realms, nevertheless, without justice,' he said, 'were but tyrannies and robberies more consonant to beastly appetites than the laudable life of reasonable creatures. Where wilfulness did reign without law or justice, there was no distinction of property : no man might say this is mine; but by strength the weaker was oppressed." Henry did not insist that the Irish, ill-trained as they had been, should submit at once to English law; but he held it necessary that they should conform their order of living to the observance of some reasonable law, and not live at will as they had been used.' He, like his father, was willing to try peaceful means, but means which would lead to a result with a defined purpose of improvement. He disavowed—and in perfect sincerity, for throughout all his troubled relations with Ireland he acted consistently on the same principle-he disavowed all intentions of depriving the chiefs of their lands, or confiscating their rights for the benefit of Englishmen. He desired to persuade them to exchange their system
1 "Henry VIII. to the Earl of Surrey, 1520.' State Papers, vol. ii. p. 52.
of election for a feudal tenure, to acknowledge by a formal act of surrender that they held their lordships under the crown, receiving them again with English titles, and with legitimate jurisdiction derived from the King. Under this condition, instead of being Irish enemies, they would become subjects entrusted with formal authority; and in return might retain and administer the more tolerable of their own Brehon laws, till a more settled life brought a desire with it for the English common law. The worst and weakest code ever digested into authoritative form would at least be better than no law at all.
A people who could understand an appeal of this kind would perhaps have never required to be so addressed. As spoken to Ireland it was like an invitation to water to become, of its own free will, solid land, or to a sandy wilderness to clothe itself with corn.
It is well that so clear an mains on record to the stereotyped slander, that England's only object in her management or mismanagement of that unhappy country, was to rob the ancient owners of the land of their fathers. Yet the failure was inevitable, and would have been followed at all events by rougher measures, even without the new element of discord which was flung out into Europe, and among its other results gave coherence and defined form to Irish disaffection.
On the rupture of England with the Papacy, the Irish, CHAP. by immediate instinct, threw themselves on the Roman side. Could they have found Protestant allies within reach, and had Henry continued in deed as well as in name Defender of the Catholic faith, the Church of Ireland might perhaps have remembered and reclaimed her ancient liberties, have dated her slavery from the grant of Adrian, and have fought for independence under the name of spiritual freedom. The Celts of Wales and Cornwall are vehemently Protestant; the Irish themselves lose their Papal fervour when settled in countries where Popery is no longer identical with patriotism ; and their tendency in all England's quarrels to take the opposite side might have reminded them that it was England which first riveted the Roman yoke upon their necks.
England, however, shook off the Italian Priest,' and declared herself competent to decide her own causes ecclesiastical and civil within her own borders. The Irish, already uneasy at Henry's attempts to meddle with them, declared themselves champions of the true faith. The Pope claimed the right to absolve them from their allegiance; and rebellion became thus a second duty. The first results were not encouraging to the new ideas of patriotism. The trusted and favoured house of Kildare put themselves forward as champions of the Catholic faith. The Earl, who was in London, was thrown instantly into the Tower, where he died.
Lord Thomas Fitzgerald,