« ForrigeFortsæt »
intended for them by the wretched monarch by whom the spoliation had been perpetrated.
If the reader will turn to page 47, he will see that the views of James, limited as they were in point of justice to the oppressed Irish, were in a great measure rendered nugatory, and defeated; and that “ some, indeed, were allowed to enjoy a small pittance” of the lands reserved for them by this monarch. But that “others were totally. ejected ” “ The resentments of the sufferers were in some cases exasperated, by finding their lands transferred to hungry adventurers, who had no services to plead, and sometimes to those who had been rebels and traitors."390
After a careful perusal of the foregoing view of the lawless and predatory means by which James possessed himself of so fair a portion of Ireland, and the wanton injustice whereby the settlement was regulated, what must be the astonishment, how great the indignation, of the candid and upright, to read the deceptious and encomiastic manner in which the affair is blazoned forth by all the historians who have treated on it! Had James civilized a nation of fierce barbarians, without offering the least violence to their persons, the least injustice to their property—had he framed for them a code of laws worthy of the united wisdom of Moses, Lycurgus, Solon, Minos, Numa Pompilius, and Alfred-had he settled them on lands of his own, and bestowed abundant means of cultivating them, he would not be entitled to higher encomiums than are lavished on acts which, so far as the rights of property are concerned, have far more of the character of Blackbeard, the pirate, than of Alfred or William Penn, and which deserve the severest strains of indignant reprobation.
“ To consider James in a more advantageous light,” says Hume, " we must take a view of him as the legislator of Ireland : and most of the institutions which he had framed for civilizing that kingdom, being finished about this period, it may not here be improper to give some account of them. He frequently boasts of the management of Ireland as his masterpiece; and it will appear upon inquiry, that his vanity in this particular was not altogether unfounded.
“ After abolishing these Irish customs, and substituting English law in their place, James, having taken all the natives under his protection, and declared them free citizens, proceeded to govern them by a regular administration, military as well as civil."393
Here is a portrait, as like the real state of the case, as the reign of Nero was like that of Marcus Aurelius. After having despoiled an entire sixth part of the nation of their property,-after having dispersed them here and there, as suited his purpose,-after having transported a large portion of them to the wild wastes of Connaught and Munster,-after having impressed into his armies such of them as “ had not cattle or followers of their own,” we are mocked with the absurd falsehood, that he took them under his protection:" just such“ protection” as the lawless pirate extends to the peaceful mariders on board an unarmed merchant vessel.
Leland, of whom we have so frequently had occasion to make honourable mention, runs the same race of candour, and arrives at the
390 Leland, II. 546.
391 Hume, III. 306.
382 Jdem, 307.
same goal of truth, as Hume. He bestows not one word on the turpitude of plundering, probably one hundred and fifty thousand people of their patrimony, for the crimes of two great men, never proved, never attempted to be proved, and resting wholly on a ridiculous, absurd, and anonymous letter, or a tale equally absurd, which is iucompatible with the story of the letter; which crimes, if proved, ought not, I beg leave to repeat, to have involved the innocent people, who were offered up on the altars of rapine.
“ James,” says Leland, who affected to derive his glory from the arts of peace, resolved to dispose of those lands in such manner as might introduce all the happy consequences of peace and cultivation. The experience of ages bears the most honourable testimony to the design: and Ireland must acknowledge, that here were the first foundations laid of its affluence and security:
“Such was the general scheme of this famous northern plantation, so honourable to the king, and of such consequence to the realm of Ireland,"394
" The passion for plantation which James indulged, was actuated by the fairest and most captivating motives. He considered himself as the destined reformer and civilizer of a rude people, and was impatient for the glory of teaching a whole nation the valuable arts of life; of improving their lands, extending their commerce, and refining their manners.
The cravings of the passion for spoliation and plantation, with which James was devoured, were by no means lulled to rest, when he had exhausted the pretences of conspiracy. He broke new ground; and availed himself of claims arising from the conquest of Henry IL and of concessions made by that monarch, to despoil those whose ancestors had been in undisturbed possession for centuries. To this system of rapine the polished Leland devotes ten lines, without one decisive word of censure or disapprobation. It is true, he hints that all is not exactly as it should be.
“In the pursuit of this favourite object, he had sometimes recourse to claims which the old natives deemed obsolete and unjust. The seizure of those lands, whose possessors had lately meditated rebellion, and fled from the sentence of the law, produced little clamour or murmuring. But when he recurred to the concessions made to Henry II. to invalidate the TITLES DERIVED FROM A POSSESSION OF SOME CENTURIES, the apparent severity had its full effect on those who were not acquainted with the refinements of law, and not prepossessed in favour of the equity of such refinements, when employed to divest them of their ancient property.""890
To this sentence the reader's attention is specially invited. When Leland informs us, that the natives " deemed” the king's “ claims unjust,” it is fair to infer, that he himself believed them just, or at least that there was doubt on the subject. But what was the nature of those claims? They are stated by Leland himself, at the close of the sentence. They were grounded on concessions four hundred years old. Yet of those claims, which, if universally admitted, would forfeit nearly the whole globe, this candid and impartial writer simply in
393 Leland, IL. 545.
394 Idem, 512.
39. Idcm, 545.
forms his abused reader, that "the old natives” (were so unreasonable that they]" deemed them unjust.” The interpolated parenthesis in this sentence is, I think, by no means forced or strained. It is the natural form in which the phraseology presents itself to the mind's eye.
The term “apparent severity" would be appropriately applied to the rigorous exaction of a fine fairly incurred; to the unrelenting infliction of the full measure of punishment for crimes committed, or to the confiscation of property duly forfeited; but it is a miserable departure from historical justice, to apply it, as in the present instance, to an act of absolute regal robbery; for the dispossession of persons whose families had undisputed “possession for centuries," on such grounds as Leland states, is undoubted robbery. What would be said of the historian who should descant on the “ apparent severity" of Blackbeard or Morgan, the pirates, in their attacks on the defenceless inhabitants of Lima or Cuzco, or the apparent severity” of William III. in the massacre of Glenco, or the persecution and ruin of the ill-fated Scotch colony at Darien ?
Before the poor plundered people were expelled from their homes and farms, and turned adrift on the world, they made a legal effort to prove the wickedness and injustice of the procedure; "to maintain," in the language of sir John Davies, " that they had estates of inheritance in their possessions, which their chief could not forfeit.” Sir John, the attorney-general, pleaded against their claims; and has fortunately left on record his speech on the subject,* which exhibits
0000 *The inhabitants of this country do border upon the English Pale, where they have many acquaintances and alliances; by means where of they have learned to talk of a freehold and of estates of inheritance, which the poor natives of Fermanagh and Tyrconnel could not speak of; although these men had no other nor better estate than they ; that is, only a scambling and transitory possession, at the pleasure of the chief of every sept.
“When the proclamation was published touching their removal, (which was done in the public Sessions-House, the lord deputy and commissioners being present,) a lawyer of the Pale, retained by them, did endeavour to maintain that they had estates of inheritance in their possessions, which their chief lords could not forfeit; and therefore, in their name, desired two things ; first, that they might be admitted to traverse the offices which had been found of those lands; secondly, that they might have the benefit of a proclamation made about five years since, whereby the persons, lands, and goods, of all his majes-, ty's subjects, were taken into his royal protection.
“ To this the king's attorney, being commanded by the lord deputy, made answer: 'Phat he was glad that this occasion was offered, of declaring and setting forth his majesty's just title, as well for his majesty's honour, (who, BEING THE MOST JUST PRINCE LIVING, WOULD NOT DISPOSSESS THE MEANEST OF HIS SUBJECTS WRONGFULLY, TO GAIN MANY SUCH KINGDOMS!!!) as for the satisfaction of the natives themselves, and of all the world; for his majesty's right, it shall appear, said he, that his majesty may and ought to dispose of these lands, in
a most extraordinary specimen of chicane and quibble, that would have better become an Old Bailey pettifogging attorney, than such a bigh and responsible officer of the crown. He sought to convince them, that “his majesty was the most just prince living, and would not dis
0000 such manner as he hath done, and is about to do, in law, in conscience, and in honour!!!
" In law; whether the case be to be ruled by our law of England, which is in force, or by their own Brehon law, which is abolished, and adjudged no law, but a lewd custom.
• It is our rule in our law, that the king is lord paramount of all the land in the kingdom, and that all his subjects hold their possessions of him, mediate or immediate!!!
“ It is another rule of our law, that where the tenant's estate doth fail and determine, the lord, of whom the land is holden, may enter and dispose thereof at his pleasure.
“ Then those lands in the county of Cavan, which was O'Rilie's country, are all holden of the king: and because the captainship or chiefrey of O’Rilie is abolished by act of Parliament, by stat. 2. of Elizabeth ; and also because two of the chief lords elected by the country have been lately slain in rebellion, (which is an attainder in law,) these lands are holden immediately of his majesty:
“If then the king's majesty be immediate chief lord of these lands, let us see what estates the tenants or possessors have, by the rules of the common law of England.
“Either they have an estate of inheritance or a lesser estate: a lesser estate they do not claim; or if they did, they ought to show the creation thereof, which they cannot do.
“ If they have an estate of inheritance, their lands ought to descend to a certain heir; but neither their chiefries for their tenancies did ever descend to a certain heir; therefore they have no estate of inheritance.
“ Their chiefries were ever carried in a course of tannistry to the eldest and strongest of the sept, who held the same during life, if he were not ejected by a stronger.
“ This estate of the chieftain or tannist hath been lately adjudged no estate in law, but only a transitory and scambling possession.
66 Their inferior tenancies did run in another course, like the old gavelkind in Wales, where the bastards had their portions, as well as the legitimate; which portion they held not in perpetuity; but the chief of the sept did once in two or three years shuffle and change their possessions, by new partitions and divisions; which made their estates so uncertain, as that by opinion of all the judges in this kingdom, this pretended custom of gavelkind is adjudged and declared void in law.
“ And as these men had no certain estates of inheritance, so did they never till now claim any such estate, nor conceive that their lawful heirs should inherit the land which they possessed; which is manifest by two arguments.
“1, They never esteemed lawful matrimony, to the end they might have lawful heirs!!!
possess the meanest of his subjects wrongfully, to gain many such kingdoms.” This was a very handsome and suitable exordium to a discourse intended to justify the dispossession of probably an hundred and fifty thousand subjects, great and mean together. As a proper
“ 2. They never did build any houses, nor plant orchards or gardens, nor take any care of their posterities!!!
“ If these men had no estates in law, either in their mean chiefries or in their inferior tenancies, it followeth that if his majesty, who, is the undoubted lord paramount, do seize and dispose these lands, they can make no title against his majesty or his patentees, and consequently cannot be admitted to traverse any office of those lands; for without showing a title, no man can be adinitted to traverse an office.
“Thus then it appears, that as well by the Irish custom as the law of England, his majesty may, at his pleasure, seize these lands, and dispose thereof. The only scruple which remains, consists in this point: whether the king may, in conscience or honour, remove the ancient tenants, and bring in strangers among them.
“ Truly his majesty may not only take this course lawfully, but is bound in conscience so to do!!!
“ For, being the undoubted rightful king of this realm, so as the people and land are committed by the Divine Majesty to his charge and government, his majesty is bound in conscience to use all lawful and just courses to reduce his people from barbarism to civility: the neglect whereof heretofore hath been laid as an imputation upon the crown of England. Now civility cannot possibly be planted among them” (without plundering them of their estates}" but by this mixed plantation of civil men, which likewise could not be without removal and transplantation of some of the natives, and settling of their posses. sions in a course of common law; for if themselves were suffered to possess the whole country, as their septs have done for many hundreds of years past, they would never, to the end of the world, build houses, make townships or villages, or manure or improve the land as it ought to be!! therefore it stands neither with Christian policy nor conscience, to suffer so good and fruitful a country to lie waste like a wilderness, when his majesty may lawfully" [reduce the right owners to beggary, and]“ dispose it to such persons as will make a civil plantation thereupon.
“ Again: his majesty may take this course IN CONSCIENCE; because it tendeth to the good of the inhabitants many ways; for half their land doth now lie waste : by reason whereof that which is inhabited is not in proved to half the value; but when the undertakers are planted among them, (there being place and scope enough both for them and for the natives,)” [yet a large portion of them were transported to the wild wastes in Connaught and Munster,] " and that all the land shall be fully stocked and manured, five hundred acres will be of better value than five thousand are now. Besides, where before their estates were altogether uncertain and transitory, so as their heirs did never inherit, they shall now have certain estates of inheritance, the portion allotted unto them, which they and their children after them, shall enjoy with security.