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the old charter, therefore, we have good testimony to the antiquity and fame of our metropolis.
It may be strongly argued that Henry's use of the title of • Conqueror' was a palpable misnomer, on the ground that conquest means the acquisition of a kingdom by force of arms, to which force likewise has been opposed. Whereas Henry's invasion was only a polite visit—no violence used; all being conducted with the utmost tranquillity and courtesy. Or, to use the words of Molyneux in his celebrated pamphlet of the “ Case of Ireland Stated,” there was “ an entire and voluntary submission of all the ecclesiastical and civil states of Ireland to King Henry II., without the least hostile strike on any side; we hear not in any of the chronicles of any violence on either part ; all was transacted with the greatest quiet, tranquillity, and freedom imaginable. ... England may be said much more properly to have been conquered by William I. than Ireland by Henry II. ... Henry received not the least opposition in Ireland; all came in peaceably, and had large concessions made them of the like laws and liberties with the people of England, which they gladly accepted.”
It may be well to give a portrait of King Henry II. (as painted by Giraldus Cambrensis), he being the person to whom we are chiefly indebted for our parliamentary and political, if not our physical constitution :-“Henry II., King of England, was of a very good colour, but somewhat red; his head great and round; his eyes were fiery, red, and grim, and his face very high-coloured ; his voice or speech was shaking, quivering, or trembling; his neck short, his breast broad and big; strong-armed; his body was gross, and his belly somewhat big, which came to him rather by nature than by any gross feeding or surfeiting, for his diet was very temperate, and to say the truth, thought to be more spare than comely, or for the state of a prince; and yet, to abate his grossness, and to remedy this fault of nature, he did, as it were, punish his body with continual exercise, and did, as it were, keep a continual war with himself. ... In the evening, when he came home, he would never, or very seldom, sit either before or after supper, for though he were never so weary, yet still would he be walking and going. If he were in a good mood, and not angry, then would he be very pleasant and eloquent. He was also (which was a thing very rare in those days) very well learned; he was also very affable, gentle, and courteous; besides, so pitiful, that when he had overcome his enemy, yet would he be overcome with pity towards him.”
If Henry II. could be considered a conqueror, he was a very courteous one, for he gave the Irish chieftains the title of kings; and this still continued to be used by his successors so late as eighty years afterwards, if not later. The following expressions are to be found in a letter sent by Henry III. to one of these Irish chieftains—“ The King to the King of Thomond, greeting.”
Henry II. remained five months, and departed, highly pleased with Ireland, as her chiefs appeared to be with him, although I have little doubt they were glad to get rid of their kingly guest. He settled his English followers and subjects in districts along the eastern coast, and in Dublin, and adjoining counties, afterwards called the English Pale.
It seems a well authenticated fact, that Henry II., before he quitted Ireland, in a Council held at Lismore, did cause the Irish to receive and swear to be governed by the laws of England; and in ecclesiastical matters, a General Council of the Clergy was held in Cashel, wherein the King rectified many abuses in the Church, and established sundry ecclesiastical laws agreeable to those in the Church of England-labouring by all means to reduce the state of that Church to the form of the English, to which the Irish clergy promised conformity.
Thus, from the very beginning, was it the object and aim of the English sovereigns, and of the wisest of their counsellors, that between England and Ireland there should be but one Law, one State, one Church. The Church of Ireland, thus referred to, was an ancient and a free Church, and held its synods, of which the records remain. Lord Coke expressly states, in his chapter on Ireland, in the Fourth Institute, that at a synod “holden in Ireland by St. Patrick, their Apostle, it was unanimously agreed that Irish priests should have wives.” Thus we are assured by the practice of the ancient Church in Ireland, as by the practice of St. Peter, and perhaps of St. Patrick, that the Scripture was not contradicted by the ancient Catholic Church in Ireland, and that the clergy were, and wisely, married men.
Ireland, if she was fitted to enjoy them, had now received certain of the fundamental laws of England as they existed at that time. But the point of our inquiry is, when did she get the right of holding Parliaments, and when, in fact, was a Parliament held; for we must have regard to the birth, as well as to the life and death, of our Senate.
It is to be observed, that after John succeeded to the crown of England, having been for thirty-three years Lord of Ireland (and which he would have continued to be had not his elder brother died), and when he met the Barons of England to grant Magna Charta, it would appear that the Church of England and Ireland was united; for it is expressly stated in the text of the famous Charter, that it was granted by the advice of “ Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin.” What brought the Archbishop of Dublin to Runnymede if it were not that he was a dignitary
of the United Church? Why did he otherwise advise the granting of the great Charter by King John ?
The register of the birth is imperfect. The probability is, that the right of holding a Parliament was granted to Ireland at an early period; and accordingly, we find Lord Coke expressly declares the modus tenendi Parliamentum (that is, a writ expounding the method of holding a Parliament) was imported to Ireland in the time of Henry II. In the Fourth Institute, page 12, title “The High Court of Parliament,” we read :—“After King Henry II. had conquered Ireland, he fitted and transcribed this modus into Ireland in a parchment roll, for the holding of Parliaments there; which, no doubt, Henry II. did by advice of his Judges, being a matter of so great weight. This modus in the parchment roll, transcribed as aforesaid by Henry II., remained in Ireland ; and in anno 6 Henry IV., was in the custody of Sir Christopher Preston, knight, a man of great wisdom and learning ; which roll, King Henry IV., in the same year, “De assensu Johannes Talbot, Chevalier, his Lieutenant there, and of his Council of Ireland,' exemplified, for the better holding of the Parliaments there; and in the exemplification it expressly appeareth that Henry II. did transcribe this modus, as is aforesaid.”
Other writers of deep learning deny this assertion, disputing with Lord Coke the authenticity of the modus, or that a Parliament could be held in a country where the land was not divided into counties, where there were no towns, no burgage tenure, no sheriffs, and, I may add, few freeholders. The lawyers thus disputing, the Church, curiously enough, comes to our rescue; and the fact that this ancient modus was dispatched into Ireland was established, and its authenticity (said to be) demonstrated, in a publication by Dr. Dopping, a learned Bishop of Meath, who wrote a preface to
prove it to be the very record referred to by Lord Coke. The Bishop prints the entire of the modus in the original Latin, and explains how he found the legal curiosity amongst the papers of Sir W. Domville, his uncle, Attorney-General in former times.
But, assuming with Coke, and Molyneux, and the learned Bishop, that Ireland obtained the right, where or when did she first exercise that right?
The English Pale originally extended over a territory twenty miles square. For this fact we have the authority of an Act of Parliament so late as 13th Henry VIII., cap. 3 ; and the proof in these words—“ There are only four shires where the king's laws are occupied in this land, namely, Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Uriel or Lowth.” And even if we could include the other eight counties named by Leland, yet, as there were few towns, and no burgage tenure in Ireland, a Parliament, if summoned from these districts, would not have approached in dignity and importance the Dublin Corporation.
The next inquiry would be, Where did the Irish Parliament, be it small or great, sit in these early times? To which I reply-For a period of one hundred and forty years, Nowhere. There is no trace of any such phenomenon appearing in the political firmament for nigh a century and a half ; and if a gentleman was chosen to take his seat in the Irish Senate once in a hundred and fifty years, I can only say his parliamentary labours must have been light.
We may next inquire, How did our forefathers get on in those days with so few laws and so few lawyers ? To which very proper question I can only reply-As well as they could. They were not oppressed by the multiplicity and complexity of their laws. The Irish chieftains had no laws which they obeyed, save their own free will; and for the