Page images
PDF
EPUB

against the king's sacred person, whom they had horridly murdered in the fight of the fun, with all imaginable circumstances of contempt and defiance; and as much as in them lay, had rooted out monarchy itfelf, and overturned and destroyed the whole govern . ment of church and state. And therefore they observed, whatever punishment the Irish had merited for their former transgressions, which they had so long repented of and departed from, when they had arms and strong towns in their hands (which together with themselves, they put again under his majesty's protection), that surely this part of the English, who were poffefsed of their estates, and had broken all their obligations to God and the king, could not deserve to be gratified with their ruin and total destruction." “ It was," I say, “ deemed unpardonable indiscretion in

the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I 20.

He seems to have apologized for the above advice to the king, in the following passage of his Life and Memoirs: “ Whoever (says he) confiders the temper and constitution of the army then on foot in that kingdom (Ireland), and the body of presbyterians that had been disbanded, and remained still there in their habitations, together with the body of adventurers, all presbyterians or anabaptists; and at the same time remembers the disposition and general affection of the army in England, will not wonder that the king endeavoured, if it had been possible, rather to please all, than by any unfeasonable discovery of a refolution, how just foever, to make any party desperate ; there being none so inconsiderable as not to have been able to do much mischief.” Vol. ii.

p. “ We feel to this day (says Higgons) the dismal consequences of those councils, which were not more wicked than weak and impolitic. The estates of the Irish who had fought for the king, and followed his fortunes in exile, were confirmed to drummers and serjeants, who had conducted his father to the scaffold.” Remarks on Burnet, p. 103-4.

“ The treatment of the royal party at this time, will never find belief with posterity: to be neglected was enough, but to see the enemy triumph in their spoils, was more than nature could support. There are instances of fome, who were admitted to the royal presence and favour, without being totally free from the blood of the king ; while they who had lavished their own in his defence, were suffered to starve in the streets." Id. ib.

1

the Irish agents, to infist upon these and other well known topics ; and not less so, to give the most diftant intimation of their humble hope, * “ that when all his majesty's other subjects were by his clemency restored to their own estates, and were in full peace, mirth and joy, the Irish alone should not be exempt from all his majesty's grace, and left in tears, and mourning and lamentation; and be sacrificed, without redemption, to the avarice and cruelty of those, who had not only spoiled and oppressed them, but had done all that was in their power, to destroy the king himself and his posterity; and who now returned to their obedience, and submitted to his government,

when they were not longer able to oppose it."

To this just and affecting state of the case, with respect to both parties, the commissioners from the council and parliament of Ireland, answered only by a false or exaggerated imputation of the crimes of particular persons among the Irish, to the generality of that people ;' and by an impudent revival of former self-refuted calumnies, which, though at this day, they are well known to be such, were then believed, or pretended to be believed, as so many certain and unquestionable truths, by their corrupt, malicious, or ill-informed judges.

сн А Р.

4 Clarendon's Life.

s Id. ib.

С НА Р.

XX.

A court of claims appointed in Ireland.

[ocr errors]

THE king found,' that if he deferred settling the government of Ireland, till a perfect adjustment of all particular interests could be made, it would be very long; he saw that there must be some examination taken there, before he could make his determination upon those particulars, which purely depended upon his own judgment; and so he passed that which is called the first act of settlement; and was persuaded to commit the execution thereof to commissioners, recommended to him by those who were most conversant in the affairs of that kingdom, though none, or very few of them, were known to his majesty.

These commissioners constituted what was common. ly called the court of claims in Ireland, “ but were very ill qualified for such a trust. They were for the most part engaged, by their interests, in the party of the adventurers and soldiers ; very many of them were in possession of those lands which others sued for before them; and they themselves bought broken titles, and pretences of other men, for inconsiderable fums of money, which they supported and made good by their own authority. Thus the judges themselves were both parties and witnesses, in all causes that were brought before them.”

“ Such scandalous practices could not be suffered to continue long. These commissioners were remov

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ed;

[ocr errors]

Clarendon's Life.
* Id. vol. ii. p. 231. Cart. Orm. vol. ii. fol. 220.
3 Clarend. Life.

* Instructions were sent to the new lords justices,

to send over the names of fit commissioners to execute his majesty's declaration for the settlement of Ireland.” Carte's Ormond, vol. ii. f. 212.

ed; and feven gentlemen, of very clear' reputations, appointed in their room; some of them lawyers in very much esteem; and others, persons of very good extractions, excellent understandings, and above all fufpicion for their integrity, and generally reputed to be superior to any base temptation.

It was imagined, however, by the same noble hiftorian whom I have hitherto cited, and who has honoured them with this very reputable character, that these new commissioners decided somewhat too partially in favour of the Irish on this occasion ;' « that there was reason to believe, that the observation they had made of the bitterness and animofities from the English, both foldiers and adventurers, towards the whole Irish nation of what kind soever ; the scandalous proceedings of the first commissioners, together with the very ill reputation many of the soldiers and adventurers had for extraordinary malice to the crown and to the royal family; and the notable barbarity they had exercised towards the Irish, who without doubt, for many years, had undergone the most cruel oppressions of all kinds that can be imagined (many thousands of them having been forced, without being covered under any house, to perish in the open fields for hunger);s the infamous purchases that had been made by many persons, who had compelled the Irish to sell their remainders, and lawful pretences, for very

inconsiderable

[blocks in formation]

• And yet he strangely confesses in the same place, “ that many of the Irish, who in truth never had been in rebellion, but notoriously served the king against the rebels, both in England and Ireland, and had never been put out of their estates, now upon some flight evidence, by the interception of letters, or confession of messengers, that they had had correspondence with the rebels (though it was evident that even that correspondence had been perfunctory, and only to secure them, that they might pursue his majesty's service), were condemned, and had their estates taken from them, by the judgment of these commissioners.” Life, vol. ii. p. 233. He instances in a long story of Lord Fitzwilliams, a Roman Catholic lord, afterwards made Earl of Tyrconnel by Charles II. Ib. p. 233, &c.

inconsiderable fums of money; these," I say, “ and many other particulars of that kind, his lordship imagined, might probably dispose these commissioners to such a prejudice against many of the English, and to such a compassion towards the Irish, that they might be much inclined to favour their pretences and claims, and to believe, that the peace of the kingdom might be better provided for by their being settled in the lands of which they had been formerly possessed, than by supporting the ill-gotten titles of those who had manifested all imaginable infidelity and malice against his majesty, whilst they had any power to oppose him.” But certainly every candid person will allow, that men of such distinguished integrity and understanding, as his lordship admits these commissioners to have been, were not likely to be biassed, even by the motives he has recited, to any unjustifiable partiality in favour of a people, with whom they had no manner of connection, and against whom, it is probable, they had imbibed fome part at least of those unreasonable prejudices, which prevailed but too generally at that juncture of time."

C H A P.

e « On the first arrival of these commissioners, fome attempts had been made to corrupt them against all pretences that should be made by the Irish.” Clar. Life, vol. ii. p. 231.

These commissioners restoring fome Irish, « raised so great a clamour, that the English refused to yield possession upon their decrees, who, by an omission in the act of parliament, were not qualified with power enough to provide for the execution of their own sentences. The courts of law established in that kingdom would not, nor indeed could, give any assistance to the commissioners. And the lord lieutenant and council, who had in the beginning, by their authority, put many into the possesfion of the lands which had been decreed to them by the commissioners, were now more tender and reserved in that multitude of decrees that had lately passed; so that the Irish were using their utmost endeavours, by force, to recover the possession of those lands which the commissioners had decreed to them; whilst the English were likewise, by force, resolved to defend what they had been so long poffefsed of, notwithstanding the commissioners determination. And the commissioners were

fo

« PreviousContinue »