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Sometimes, notwithstanding all the various lines of circumvallation by which the vice-regal authority was fenced round, and the fraud, corruption, and venality, by which the proceedings of the legislature were managed, measures were carried there offensive to his high mightiness, the deputy for the time being. But such was the prudence and foresight of the administration of that happy kingdom, that there was an adequate remedy provided even for this disorder. It was very simple, and of easy application ; being merely to tear out the leaves of the Journals, containing the obnoxious matter, in due form, and with a proper exhibit of proconsular dignity:
“ On the 29th of November, 1640, the following very extraordinary memorandum appears in the Journals : “ Memo. By virtue of his majesty's letters, we, the lord deputy, have, at the council-board, had two orders of the House of Commons, in presence of divers, of the late members, torn out of the Journals. These orders related to presenting ways and rates to be observed in taxing the growing subsidies."1286
286 Mountmorres, II. 40.
“ An act of most gracious, general, and free par
don,” with only fifty classes of exceptions, each averaging four or five species; that is, “ a general pardon," with about two hundred exceptions. “ Et voilà justement comme on écrit l'histoire."-Voltaire.
AMONG the multifarious frauds respecting Ireland, with which the world has been deluded, one of the most palpable remains to be noticed.
It is universally believed, on the uniform declarations of probably all the Anglo-Hibernian writers, that an act of general amnesty, for all offences whatsoever, was passed by the Irish Parliament, in the session which commenced anno 1613.
“ The session concluded with an act of oblivion and general
“ An act of general pardon and oblivion was made, in confirmation of the royal edict.""288
They passed an act of general indemnity for late crimes, with an exception of Tyrone, Tyrconnel, and O'Dogherty."289
“ An act of general amnesty and pardon was made, in confirmation of the royal edict.'"290
“ An act of general oblivion and indemnity was passed."291 “ All minds being quieted by a general indemnity."292
Carte, I. 22. 290 Gordon, I. 327.
288 Leland, II. 535. 291 Crawford, I. 347.
289 Davies, xxv. 292 Hume, III. 308.
A perusal of these passages, and of all the writers we have ever examined on the subject, has led the world to give credit to James and his Irish Parliament for an exuberant stock of clemency. It has appeared that their motto, and the benignant rule of their conduct, had been Shakspeare's divine commendation of heavenborn mercy:
“The quality of mercy,” &c. It is supposed that this act of “ general and free pardon" effaced all crimes and misdemeanors of every description ; was the harbinger of an universal jubilee throughout the kingdom ; and, from the hour of its promulgation, produced a general clearance of the prisons of all their tenants, by whatsoever tenure they had been held there. But, alas ! in Ireland, words bore an import different from what they had in any other country: and“ an act of general pardon,” in that ill-fated nation, was, in truth and in fact, an act of universal proscription : for in that Parliament and king, towards Ireland, “ There was no more mercy, than milk in a male tiger."293
This assertion will appear ambiguous : but the ambiguity shall be soon removed. The act in question bears, it is true, in the Statute-Book, the fraudulent title of “ an act for the king's majestie’s most gracious, general, and free par
don.”* This is as clear and explicit as language could render it; and, as the act itself is in black
*Extracts from“ An Act for the king's majestie's most gracious,
GENERAL, AND FREE PARDON!!!" The king's majestie, most graciously considering the good will and faithful hearts of his most loving subjects, which as at all times, so at this present especially, they having with most dutiful affection showed themselves towards his highness; and understanding that the same his loving subjects have many and sundry wayes, by the laws and statutes of this realm, fallen into the danger of diverse great penalties and forfeytures, is, of his princely and merciful disposition, most graciously inclined, by his liberal and free pardon, to discharge some part of those great paynes, forfeytures and penalties wherewith his said subjects stand now burdened and charged ; trusting they will be thereby the rather moved and induced, from henceforth, more carefully to observe his highness's laws and statutes, and to continue in their loyal and due obedience to his majestie; and therefore his majestie is well pleased and contented, that it be enacted by the authority of this present Parliament, in manner and form following, (that is to say) That all and every the said subjects, as well spiritual as temporal of this his highness's realm of Ireland, the heyres, successors, executors, and administrators of them, and every of them, and all and singular bodies corporate, cities, shires, boroughs, hundreds, baronies, townes, villages, hamlets, and tythings, and
every of them, and the successor and successors of
every of them, shall be, by the authority of this present Parliament, acquitted, pardoned, and released, and discharged against the king's majestie, his heyres and successors, and every of them, of all manner of treasons, felonies, offences, contempts, trespasses, entries, wrongs, deceipts, misdemeanours, forfeytures, penalties, and summs of mony, paynes of death, paynes corporal and pecuniarie, and generally of all other things, causes, quarrels, suites, judgments and executions, in this present Act hereafter not excepted nor foreprized.
letter, obsolete orthography, and very long, it is probable that those writers never examined be
1. “Except and alwayes foreprized out of this general and free pardon, all and all manner of high treasons, and other offences committed or done by any person or persons against the king's majestie, and all conspiracies and confederacies, trayterously had, committed, or done, by any person or persons, against the king's majestie's royal person ; and all manner of levying warre and all rebellions and insurrections whatsoever had, made, or committed, or done at any time sithence the beginning of his majesty's raigne.
2. "And also excepted all and every manner of treasons committed or done, by any person or persons in the parts beyond the seas, or in any other place out of the king's dominions, sithence the beginning of his majestie's raigne ; and also all suites, punishments, executions, paynes of death, forfeitures, and penalties, for, or by reason or occasion of any of the treasons and offences before rehearsed.
3. “And also excepted out of this pardon all offences of forging and false counterfeyting the king's majestie his great or privy seale, sign manual, or privy signet, or any of the monies current within this realm; and also all offences of unlawfull diminishing of any the said monies, by any wayes or means whatsoever, contrary to the laws and statutes of this realm at any time sithence the beginning of his majestie's raigne; and also all misprisions and concealments of any the high treasons aforesaid, and also all abetting, aiding, comforting or procuring of the same offences, or any of the said treasons committed or done sithence the beginning of his majestie's raigne.
4. And also excepted out of this pardon, all manner of voluntary murders, petit treasons, and wilfull poisonings, done or committed by any person or persons sithence the beginning of his majestie's raigne, and all and every the accessaries to the said offences, or any of them, before the said offences committed.
5. "And also excepted and foreprised out of this general pardon all and every offence of piracy, and robbery done upon the seas, sithence the beginning of his majestie's raigne.