Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER II.

FROM THE DEATH OF STRAFFORD TO THE DEATH OF

CHARLES I. A.D. 1641 TO A.D. 1649.

THE IRISH MASSACRE,—THE DEATH OF BEDELL.--THE PROGRESS OF

PRESBYTERIANISM,

ABOUT the time of the death of Strafford, Ireland appeared to be singularly tranquil. There had lately been a change in the attitude of political parties, as the Puritans and Romish recusants had entered into combination, and had thus carried all before them ; but meanwhile the public peace had remained unbroken. Romish lawyers were permitted to practise at the bar; Romish magistrates were admitted to the bench; Romish senators sat in the Upper as well as in the Lower House of Parliament; and, in most parts of the country, the Romish worship was freely tolerated. But withal, the embers of discontent were smouldering, and a terrible outburst was at hand.

The Plantation of Ulster had been eulogized as a most successful effort of British statesmanship; and it had, no doubt, produced a wonderful change on the face of the Northern Province; for well-built houses and stately castles now adorned the landscape ; and dreary woods had been converted into fertile fields : but the old inhabitants, who had once been owners of the lands, looked with little favour on

1 Warner's History of the Rebellion and Civil War in Ireland, i. 2 (Dublin, 1768); O'Conor's Historical Address, Part ii. 302.

these signs of progress. The attempts of Strafford to invalidate the titles of proprietors in other parts of Ireland, and to extend the system of plantation, had created the deepest dissatisfaction and alarm. Government had acted again and again towards the occupiers of the soil with the most barefaced injustice; and the native Irish were impressed with the conviction that, if not delivered from the yoke of England, they were doomed to extirpation. The Anglo-Irish, who now constituted a large portion of the population, were almost equally discontented. They also had been threatened with loss of property, involved in expensive litigation, and robbed under the forms of law. With few exceptions, they still remained attached to the Romish worship; but the toleration which they were permitted to enjoy was not guaranteed by any act of the legislature, so that they were constantly at the mercy of the existing administration. Other elements contributed to unsettle the public mind. As the law of gavelkind had ceased, and as clanship had also been legally extinguished, society had entered on a new phase, and its new relations had not yet been properly adjusted. Younger sons found them. selves without any inheritance, and without any lawful means of subsistence. These youths, notwithstanding their poverty, still claimed the rank of gentlemen; they had no profession but that of arms; many of them prowled about in idleness, or acted as free-booters; and all of them were prepared to welcome any revolution likely to engage them in military service, or open up to them a prospect of bettering their condition. They had been scanning with the utmost interest the recent movements of the Scottish Covenanters; and had seen how the people of North Britain had been able to maintain their ground against royal encroachments. The Irish, in a coming struggle, hoped to be equally successful.

1 Sir John Davis, writing in 1612, states that, since the time of Henry II, “there have been so many English colonies planted in Ireland as that, if the people were numbered at this day by the poll, such as are descended of English race would be found more in number that the ancient natives.”Discovery of the True Causes, &c., P. 3. See a similar statement in Leland, iii. 60, endorsed by the Irish House of Commons of 1640. See also Cambrensis Eversus, iii. 146, 147. • See O'Conor's Historical Address, part ii., p. 313. VOL. II.

D

Before the Reformation, the English monarch could always reckon on the aid of the Pope in his government of Ireland. Then, even bishops and archbishops marched to the battlefield against the natives when they broke out into rebellion. But the Romish clergy were now among the most zealous fomenters of disloyalty. Their spiritual chief in Italy encouraged them to pursue this course. He had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth ; he had exhorted her subjects to renounce her authority; he had stirred them up to revolt by the proclamation of indulgences; he had sent foreign troops to assist them in rebellion ; and he had furnished them with arms and ammunition. He had subsequently forbidden them to take the oath of allegiance to the reigning Sovereign. Romish bishops and priests were now the great agents for carrying on a treasonable correspondence between Ireland and the continent." In the foreign seminaries where they had been educated, they had been taught to entertain very extravagant views of papal power, as well as to cherish a bitter antipathy to England; and in the political plots which disturbed the peace of the Western Isle, they were deeply implicated. About this time their movements on the Continent had already awakened apprehension. In the spring of 1641, the Irish Lords Justices had been informed by a member of the English Cabinet that "an unspeakable number of Irish Churchmen” had lately returned home, and that a whisper ran "among the Irish friars in Spain—as if they expected a rebellion in Ireland.” 2 The state of public affairs in South Britain at this crisis encouraged their disaffection. The enemies of arbitrary power in England had been emboldened to assume a tone of more decided opposition ; and the rupture between the King and the Parliament, which soon led to civil

1 A candid Roman Catholic nobleman, who lived at this period, and who soon afterwards held high military command among the Confederate Irish, bears testimony to this fact. The Irish monasteries and seminaries,” says he, “in so many countries of Europe, and very many of the Churchmen returning home out of them, and chiefly the titular bishops, together with the superiors of regular orders, took an effectual course, under the specious colour of religion, to add continually new fuel to the burning coals, and prepare them for a flame on the first opportunity."-CASTLEHAVEN'S Memoirs, pp. 13, 14. ed. Dublin, 1815.

· Warner, i. 7.

war, had already commenced. The Irish malcontents believed that their opportunity had at length arrived ; and they were desirous to attempt at once to strike some decisive blow, as there were now in the country a number of recently disbanded soldiers on whose co-operation they could calculate.

The rebellion which broke out on the 23rd of October, 1641, presents scenes of atrocity which no native of Ireland can describe without a feeling of humiliation. This insurrection had no resemblance whatever to the late movement in Scotland. The people of North Britain proceeded quietly and constitutionally. As they arranged their plans with skill, and carried them out with vigour and success, they secured the respect of the most enlightened statesmen in the three kingdoms. The Irish rushed into rebellion like savages let loose to commit murder; they suddenly converted the land into a field of blood; their barbarities awakened everywhere a sentiment of horror; they were soon firmly resisted ; and they discovered, in the end, that they had only aggravated their own miseries. A few of the more humane and intelligent of the original conspirators condemned, no doubt, the butcheries now perpetrated ; but the people had been long encouraged by the exhortations of their priesthood to execrate the English and Scottish planters; so that when the restraints of law were withdrawn, their pent-up wrath burst forth like the eruption of a volcano. With all the fury of fanaticism they repeated the bloody tragedy enacted at Paris nearly seventy years before on the dreadful day of St. Bartholomew. The rebellion commenced in Ulster; and for a short time the Scottish residents were unmolested ; but, as soon as the assailants encountered effective opposition, all classes of settlers were treated alike with horrid cruelty. Within a fortnight after their first appearance in arms, no less than thirty thousand northerns had joined the standard of revolt ;and this whole mass was animated with the most intense hatred towards everything British and Protestant. The insurgents designed to expel all the English and Scottish

1 These had been enlisted by Strafford with a view to support the King. They were almost all Roman Catholics. * Haverty says “by the end of the first week.520. See also Leland, iii. 118.

colonists from the country; to recover possession of all forfeited estates; and to re-establish the ascendency of Romanism. They professed to be prompted by religious zeal; and yet nothing could be more unlike the spirit of the Gospel than the ferocity and wickedness which they manifested. They were stimulated to action by the clergy;' but the soul deeds which they performed cast a lurid light on the theology in which they had been indoctrinated. The widow of a magistrate in the county of Monaghan afterwards declared on oath that, on the very first day of the insurrection, the rebels killed her husband and thirty-two other persons. On the following day, Maguire, a chief of the conspirators, murdered at least one hundred persons in a single district. In the depths of a most inclement winter, Protestant planters of all ages were stripped naked ; driven from their homes; and left to perish in the snow in the open fields. On one occasion, Sir Phelim O'Neill—the leader of the Northern Irish-commanded all the Protestants in three adjacent parishes to be massacred and the bloody order was fulfilled. At one time one hundred and ninety persons—men, women, and children included—were precipitated from the bridge of Portadown ;5

1 Warner says :—“The priests had so infatuated, and made such cruel impressions upon the minds of the people on their first success, that they held it a mortal sin to give any manner of relief or protection to the English."- History of the Rebellion, i. 73.

9 Warner, i. 72. It must be remembered that Warner is disposed to estimate the murders at a comparatively low figure; and yet he admits this fact. He admits also that Sir Phelim O'Neill “began the massacre" at the end of "the first week.”History of the Rebellion, i. 106.

3 Warner, i. 72. On the very day on which the rebellion began, Rory Maguire hanged not less than eighteen persons in the church of Clones, and then set fire to the edifice. Borlase, p. 57. London, 1680. On the same day, in one parish in the County of Fermanagh, the rebels murdered fifteen English Protestants. Lord Somers's Tracts, vol. v., p. 610. On the day after the commencement of the rebellion (24th Ociober, 1641) 196 English Protestants, including men, women and children, were drowned at the bridge at Portadown. Ibid. p. 613.

4 This fact is admitted by the late Roman Catholic historian Moore. See Moore's History of Ireland, iv. 228. See also Leland, iii 127; and Warner, i. 105. According to O'Conor, a Roman Catholic writer, minutely acquainted with the history of this period, "the order for an indiscriminate massacre was issued from Sir Phelim O'Neill's camp on the 30th of October, 1641"-exactly one week after the commencement of the rebellion. See O'Conor's Historical Address, part ii. 244.

6 Leland, iii. 127.

« ForrigeFortsæt »