« PreviousContinue »
out the whole of Europe. This was strictly the case between the English government and the old chieftains of English race, who had become independent in Ireland. It was nearly the same with respect to the Irish chieftains, only with less appearance of right upon the part of the English, as these chieftains could at no time have ever been considered in the light of subjects, their surrender to Henry II. being of the same nature as their surrender to Henry VIII. merely feudal, reserving to themselves all their princely prerogatives; like the bequest of Lewis XI. to the Virgin Mary, of the whole and entire of his county of Boulogne, saving and excepting the revenues. · . What was the case at the same æra in France? No one can attentively read the history of the celebrated League, without perceiving how much more influence the ambition of the nobility had on events than religion. For even long after Henry IV. changed his religion, when this pretext was removed, the Duke of Montpensier proposed to him, in the name of the principal French nobility, that he should resign to the governors of the provinces, the pro
perty of their governments, with an hereditary right to them, requiring nothing from them but a feudal allegiance*. This shews the temper of the times, which ran entirely in favour of aristocratic independence ; the enereasing power of the Crown åppeared a novelty and encroachment, and was every where resisted with as much enthusiasm as the invasion of a foreign enemy. It only appears more conspicuous in Ireland, because the extreme weakness of the English colony had allowed not only the Irish chieftains, but its own subjects, to acquire an, independence that had now gained the sanction of prescription,
THERE is a very remarkable and con
clusive proof that popish bigotry had no great influence on the transactions of
* See also the treaty between Lewis XI. and the great feudal Lords, in the Memoirs of Philip De Comines.
these times in Ireland, which is this ; that when Mary, a popish princess, was called to the throne, and the Catholic religion restored, rebellions continued just as frequent as ever.
Sir Richard Cox allows the fact, but is so blinded by the idea, that every rebellionmust have arisen from religion, that he professes himself at a loss to account for it.
The following chieftains were engaged in reiterated insurrections : O'Connor, O'Neil, O’Carrol, Cavenagh, O'Madden, O’Molloy, O'Doyne, Mac Coughlan, Mac Geoglian, Fylemy Duff, O'Reilly, the Earl of Desmond, and Daniel O'Brien.
These very chieftains who had acknowledged Henry's supremacy in Church and State, revolted and agitated the whole country under the reign of the most zealous friend of the Catholic religion. :
Surely, attachment to the Catholic religion was not the ruling motive to which we must refer the events of these times.'
A still more striking proof that the Irish Roman Catholics in Queen Mary's reign, were very little infected with religious bigotry, may be drawn from their conduct
towards the Protestants, when the Protestants were at their mercy.
Were we to argue from the representations of the indelible character of the Catholic religion, as pourtrayed by its adversaries, we should have expected that the Irish Catholics would have exercised every kind of persecution which the double motives of zeal and retaliation could suggest. The Catholic laity in all the impunity of triumphant bigotry, hunting the wretched Heretics from their hiding places---the Catholic clergy pouring out the libation of human blood at the shrine of the God of Mercy, and acting before high Heaven those scenes which make the angels weep.
But on the contrary. Though the religious feelings of the Irish Catholics, and their feelings as men, had been treated with very little ceremony during the two preceding reigns ; they made a wise and moderate use of their ascendancy. They entertained no resentment for the past; they laid no plans for future domination.
Even Leland allows that the cnly instance of popish zeal, was annulling grants which Archbishop Brown had made, to the injury
of the See of Dublin, and certainly this step was full as agreeable to the rules of law and equity, as to popish zeal. · The assertors of the Reformation during the preceding reigns, were every way unmolested, or as the Protestant historian chooses to term it, were allowed to sink into obscurity and neglect.
Such was the general spirit of toleration, that many English families, friends to the Reformation, took refuge in Ireland, and there enjoyed their opinions and worship without molestation.
The Irish Protestants, vexed that they could not prove a single instance of bigotry against the Catholics, in this their hour of trial, invented a tale, as palpably false as it is childish, of an intended persecution, (but a persecution by the English government, not by the Irish Catholics) and so much does bigotry pervert all candour and taste, that even the Earl of Cork, Archbishop Usher, and in later times, Dr. Leland, were not ashamed to support the silly story of Dean Cole and the Knave of Clubs
How ought these perverse and superficial men to blush, who have said that the