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under the great seal of Ireland, which remains in the Chancery here, shall not be amended, but the amendment shall be under the great seal of Eugland, so as returned into Ireland without any signification or certification of their allowance by that in Ireland; so that the amendments and alterations made here in England, and all the Acts which are affirmed or altered, are returned under the great seal of England.”
Thus stood the Parliamentary Constitution of Ireland until 1782, being as unlike the free Parliamentary Constitution of England as any two systems of government could well be constructed.
We can only conjecture what was the eloquence of the speakers and statesmen in the Irish Parliament from the early part to the latter end of the seventeenth century, because no debates could then be published. But, as we conclude from his writings that Bolingbroke was the foremost orator of his age, so we may judge of some of our own senators. Sir John Davis was not a dry lawyer; he was a sweet poet; his poem “Know thyself” is of a high order of merit; his compositions of an historical kind are inimitable ; his law reports invaluable; his speech (when chosen Speaker) on the Origin of Parliaments was never excelled. He was a statesman with large views, and ever friendly to Ireland. After 'he quitted this country, he figured in the English House of Commons, and was only prevented by death from being Chief Justice of England. Although he had much in his power, he took not one acre of land in Ireland to himself. I need not speak of Ussher or of the Duke of Ormonde. Sir John Clotworthy, who pursued Strafford to the death, was an able man; and while Lord Roscommon cultivated poetry with success, he did not forget politics. Sir W. Petty came over as a physician—had a turn for calculations—was placed at the head of the Court of
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENT.
Claims, and feathered his nest well while attending to his duties. Scarcely any adventurer ever was more successful. Sir James Ware will never be forgotten as a scholar and antiquary. Sir John Temple, Master of the Rolls, was highly distinguished in Parliament, but not to be compared with his son Sir William,—the ambassador, author, scholar, statesman, patron of Swift, friend of King William, honoured throughout Europe.
It is highly agreeable to us to ascertain that such characters adorned our Senate, and that in former times we had men so well qualified to guide the affairs of our country.
STATUTES and Parliamentary History in the Reign of Charles I.
Amazing Events of the Period—The Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland–His vigorous Administration, Character, Impeachment, and Execution-List of Grievances compiled by order of the Irish House of Commons, and laid before the Lords—The Irish Judges and Mr. Patrick Darcy-Independence of the Irish Parliament asserted— The Irish Parliament under Cromwell-Political Consistency of Irish Protestants—The Act of Settlement–The Duke of Ormonde-Character of his Government-Hours of Sitting and Place of Assembly of Irish Parliament-Absurd Quarrels between Lords and Commons about Etiquette-Swift's Sarcasm on Sergeant Bettesworth.
The unfortunate King Charles I., who lost his head upon the block, ascended the throne of England in 1625.
The first statute passed in Ireland was in 1634, in a session which ended on the 14th of July, 1634. Thus we again perceive how many years elapse without the assembling of a Parliament in Ireland. The statutes passed in this session were nearly all transcripts of useful English statutes, which had been long previously law in England, and were tardily introduced into Ireland.
But our attention is at once arrested and our amazement excited 'by the astonishing events of our history which happened at this era, and which engaged the notice of the civilized world.
Charles I. succeeded to the crown when the ideas of men. touching the kingly prerogative had undergone a prodigious change: of this he seems to have been insensible. Vexed and offended by the resistance given to his proposals in the English Parliament, he conceived a repugnance to these troublesome assemblies, and tried to govern without them—with what result-after an omission to call Parliament for sixteen years—we know full well.
Into the history of the memorable Long Parliament it is not my business to enter. The greatest statesmen England ever produced, amongst them Oliver Cromwell, figured in that celebrated assembly.
There was one Sir Thomas Wentworth, created Earl of Strafford, of vast capacity, eloquence, and genius, to whom Charles confided the government of Ireland. It has been asserted by some that he ruled Ireland with a rod of iron,the meaning of which seems to have been, that lords and commoners trembled in his presence. The Lord Deputy was at times insolent, offensive, overbearing, and despotic. But his conduct in these respects chiefly affected individuals. His capacity for government was of the highest order; he comprehended the condition of Ireland thoroughly, and overmastered difficulties which would have been to common minds insuperable. Believing the great calamity of our country was social disturbance and impunity to crime, he enforced the law everywhere against all offenders,—he terrified the guilty — gave assurance to industry – protected peaceable men—and trampled out disaffection and rebellion.
Ireland, under the strong government of Strafford, was tranquil and prosperous, as she was under Harry VIII. Her commerce increased vastly–her manufacture of linen, under the auspices of Strafford, began, grew, and flourished-her revenue was large—she paid her debts, and yet her exchequer
was full. We must admit, therefore, that as a ruler he was suited to his time, and equal to his work, and that Ireland, emerging from confusion and rebellion, could not have been intrusted to firmer hands.
The Irish Parliament was complaisant to the great man while he was powerful; they heaped praises and panegyrics upon his head; but when the popular leaders in the Commons of England impeached, and when the King deserted his trusty counsellor, an Irish party insulted and assailed him.
The behaviour of Strafford in Ireland was charged, amidst various accusations against him by Pym, in the grand impeachment; but never did mortal man speak for another as did Strafford for himself, for his dignities, his life. The records of human eloquence contain no finer lesson. It is impossible to read his immortal defence without being touched even to tears. By the law of treason he was not guilty: a special law of attainder was enacted for his ruin, and a precedent set, too bad to follow. His enemies argued, with some plausibility, that if an offender should be proscribed who violated a particular law, ought not the great offender to be punished who violated the spirit of all law ? The peers of England, to their disgrace, convicted him. The king deserted him at the last moment. He walked heroically to the scaffold-placed his head composedly on the block — repeating, as he did so, “ Put not your faith in princes.” Another chief governor of Ireland executed for his crimes.
How awful the retribution which overtook the King! A few years later, another scene in a bloody drama opened, and Charles laid his head on the block, stained by the blood of Strafford. What romance can approach in painful interest the facts of our history!
We cannot pause to investigate the prodigious consequences