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4thly. The intention manifested by the English government, of quelling the usurped power and princely independence of the chieftains of English descent.
5thly. The hostility of the English government to the Irish princes, and the intention openly avowed, of destroying all their sovereign rights.
The first cause assigned is so generally felt, that it requires no particular comment, though its influence must at all times be, and is unfortunately even to this day, very considerable.
Of the second cause, a multitude of iné stances might be brought, but very
few leading points will be sufficient. Sir John Davis relates, that it was held no crime to kill a mere Irishman, and mentions two or three instances of the murderer being acquitted, on its being proved, that the sufferer had not been naturalized. The property also of the Irish was placed without the pale of law, and the moral of the most part of the military history of the English, is getting a great prey of cows. The treatment of the Irish hostages, being generally the sons or near relations of chieftains, was
particularly severe; and whenever these unhappy chieftains themselves fell into the hands of the English, their murder, for it can be called nothing else, was too generally the consequence. OʻRourke, the great chieftain of Leitrim, was delivered up by the king of Scotland, and hanged by Elizabeth in London. The treatment of M'Mahon we shall notice presently; these executions must have been regarded with particular horror by the Irish, as they themselves had ro capital punishinents, and such was their veneration for the persons of their chieftains, that when Hugh O'Neil (who had learnt the custom in England) ordered Hugh Gavelock's head to be cut off for informing against him, he could not find an executioner among his own
There is a fine reply of an old chieftain, who when brought to Dublin;" was brutally shewn his son's head fixed on a pole: “My šon," said he, turning from the horrid speca tacle, my son has many heads."
Wherever the Irish were mentioned in the acts of parliament, it was to mark them out not merely as enemies, (though that was
their appellation,) but as something wholly out of the contemplation of the common rules of law and morality
Baron Finglas, in his Breviate of Ireland, gives" several plans for the improvement of that country; one of them is, that no merchant do send any manner of wares among Irishmen, to be sold, on pain of forfeiture of the same.”
Yet there appears nothing in the character of the Irish, to justify this excess of hostility and cruelty. Until the reign of Charles I. when religious persecution had soured their disposition, they seem to have maintained a very marked superiority over the English, in point of humanity and ge
Until the reigni bf Henry Vit. the term rebel was never applied to the Irish; but only to the degenerate English. “ The Irish, eneniy; the English rebels,” was the distinction always made úse of (see Sir John Davis). This is a clear proof that the Irish were not considered as subjects by the Englishi government of that period. Even from the reign of Henry VII. till that of James 1. the civil situation of the Irish was very equivocal, or rather was exposed to the evils, both of a state of slavery and hostility, so well described by Tacitus:
“Habent subjectos tanquam subs, vites ut alienos."
nerosity ; and this appears more striking, when we consider, that the principal historians are Englishmen who would natutally favour their own countrymen, and disparage the Irish ; yet while they record the most atrocious actions committed by the English, such as the assassinations of Lord Mountjoy, and Sir G. Carew, they mention no instances of retaliation, or of similar brutality on the part of the Irish.
The Irish probably possessed the virtues, as well as the vices, which flow from elective monarchy.
While in their contests for their petty thrones, every species of violence and bloodshed was made use of, and séemed justified by established usage; in their private characters, they possessed that generosity, humanity, and affability, which was necessary to conciliate the affections of their sept.
A very amiable trait appears early in the Irish character, which has been very little noticed. On the first invasion of the English, we are told by Leland, that a synod of the church was held, to consider what national sin it was which had brought
upon their heads this terrible visitation. It was unanimously resolved, that it arose from the traffic which at that time was carried on in English slaves, and with a generous compunction which has since been very ill requited, this slave trade was abolished. A people who could reason thus, were certainly no barbarians; and when we consider the extreme humanity of their laws, which in no instance allowed the shedding of blood ; we may conceive with what abhorrence they must have beheld that licentious system of English cruelty, which has been so minutely detailed by the principal instrument of its exercise, the author of the Paccata Hibernica.
The third cause is, of all, the most inn-' portant.
It has already been explained, that if the English government had extended the protection of its laws to the different septs, it would have found no difficulty in overturning the power of the Irish chieftains without shedding a drop of blood. This power was founded upon custoins and laws so destructive to the property and security of the