Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

half the rest of the entire province, being twice as much of the latter than he would have ventured to sequester, had a verdict been found.* The English ministry were afraid of a rebellion, and reluctant to countenance such barefaced depredation. He remonstrated with them, and went so far as to assign that danger as a reason to warrant the career he ran. “ If they were so unsound and rotten at the heart”. as to run into rebellion on account of being robbed of half their estates,

wisdom required so to weaken them” as to put it out of their power to rebel! Wonderful logic!

* All the answer I can give is, that if taking of an half move that country to enter into open rebellion, the taking of a third or a fourth methinks should hardly secure the crown of their allegiance. Then be it granted that they are thus unsound and rotten at the heart, wisdom adviseth so to weaken them, and line them thoroughly with English and protestants as that they shall not, (by the help of God,) be able to disquiet any thing, if they would."508*

It will excite the horror of the reader to learn that Wentworth actually levied above 40,0001. sterling on the sheriffs and jurors-equal to nearly a million of dollars at the present valuation of money!

Lord Clanrickard, having powerful friends at court, who successfully urged the flagrant injustice of the proceedings against him, he procured his pardon. This rendered Wentworth almost frantic, to find the prey

snatched from his jaws, at the moment when he had regarded himself as secure of it beyond all possibility of escape. He uttered his complaints to the secretary of state in strong language expressive of the chagrin he experienced.

9000OOOOos *“ There is now a fair opportunity put into his majesty's hands to lay a sure foundation for reducing and securing this county of Galway (of all the four by much the greatest) by fully lining and planting it with English, which could not have been so thoroughly done, as for the publick safety is necessary, if the pretended owners of lands in this county have not a greater proportion taken from them than is appointed by the articles of plantation to be applied to his majesty's benefit in the other three counties. And seeing by their own act they co-operate in it, whereby his majesty is justly provoked so to do, and thereby to put a difference between them who force him to undertake a suit at law for his own, and his other subjects who readily acknowledge his right, and who will think it hard that others, less conformable than they, should be put into an equal condition with them : we therefore have resolved that I, the deputy, shall forth with give order to the king's learned counsel to put the king's title into a legal proceeding (if bis majesty in his wisdom shall not find reason to direct the contrary,) which we conceive may be in a fair and orderly way by an exchequer proceeding to seize for his majesty the land of the jurors, and of all that shall not lay hold on his inajesty's grace offered them by the proclamation."507

7" In all former plantations the opposers ever lost one third and sometimes half of their estates!!! as now his majesty hath with great

506 Strafford, II. 34.

507 Idem, 455.

The nobility and gentry of Galway having sent agents to London to plead their cause, Wentworth orged Charles to send them to Ireland as prisoners, that he might proceed against them in the castleehamber and have them fined for daring to appeal to their king for justice and protection against the rapacity of his deputy.* He moreover wreaked his vengeance on the lawyers who had discharged their duty in defending the causes of their clients. He tendered them the oath of supremacy, which was a recantation of their religion, and silenced such of them as refused to take it.t

Such was the overwhelming power of Strafford-so deaf was the king to all the supplications for justice of the oppressed landholders of Connaught-so prostrate had they become, and so terrified lest in

eos reason ordered for the tenants of the county of Galway; yet shall this earl not only lose nothing for his opposition, but be now put into far better condition than those that have done his majesty most effectual service, which will be no small discouragement upon them, and dull their cheerfulness in the future: And on the other side a great encouragement to others to oppose, considering that this earl notwithstanding all his own and his father's opposition, hath now obtained a suit, (worth to himself.) to estimate it favourably, 30,0001. but of prejudice to his majesty in this and the subsequent plantations now on foot, a far greater value."508

*“ I find that nothing would give these commissioners so much satisfaction, and even in my own judgment so much enable us, and dis. pose all to a speedy and happy conclusion, as to remit these agents of Galway in the condition of prisoners, and their propositions intirely to our consideration and legal proceeding on this side; which I am inclined unto the rather, for that I find in their propositions offered to you nothing of new, but such lean objections as have been buffeted at every enquiry for the title, and nothing left to hang upon them but skin and bone as they say; as also because in truth I conceive this course of public agency is most indecent and uncomely, and which hath been in all times the occasion of mighty disservices to the crown there, and of excessive prejudice and disquiet to the subject and state here, and therefore to be taken up so by the roots, as never to bring forth those bitter fruits hereafter; which I am verily persuaded we shall effect, if it be committed to our care and examination, besides the bringing in of round and considerable fines by censures in the castle-chamber, not alone upon the agents, but upon their other confederates, which are neither few nor of low condition I will awarrant you."'509

+ " For those counsellors at law, who so laboured against the king's title, we conceive it is fit, that such of them as we shall find reason so to proceed withal, be put to take the oath of supremacy, which if they refuse, that then they be silenced, and not admitted to practise as now they do; it being unfit that they should take benefit by his majesty's graces, that take the boldness after such a manner to oppose his service."510

508 Strafford, 11. 368.

509 Idem, I. 495.

510 Idem, 454.

struggling for justice and the preservation of their estates, they might be despoiled of the whole, that in 1636, they absolutely surrendered them into the hands of the king, thus throwing themselves on his mercy. They employed the lord Clanrickard to mediate with Strafford. His lordship wrote an earnest and impressive letter to the deputy, urging him to accept their submission. But obdurate and deaf to all the calls of humanity as well as justice, he insisted that the jurors should acknowledge they had given a false verdict, and thus record themselves guilty of perjury. The þare narration of such complicated scenes of fraud, oppression and cruelty, harrows up the soul, and excites detestation and abhorrence of the king, the deputy, and all the subordinate agents of tyranny and depredation. The fears of the English government of exciting a rebellion having

DOO00. ** Since the receipt of your lordship’s letter of the second of September, his majesty declaring his pleasure to me, that he was not wil. ling to accept of that surrender, whereof I sent your lordship a copy, I repaired home, and as I was preparing a despatch into Ireland to acquaint them therewith, and to return the authority sent unto me, I received a confirmation of the said letter of attorney, signed by an hundred and seventy-five persons of the best quality of the county, and had a sight of a petition from the jury directed to your lordship; and entering into the consideration of the weight and consequence of this affair acted by so many, I conceived I could no ways discharge my duty better to his majesty, nor more fully express my respects to your lordship, than to detain that intended despatch in my hands until I had given your lordship a full and clear account of their proceedings.

* And I leave it to your lordship's better judgment to consider whether this free and voluntary surrender by the body of the whole county doth not as highly import the service, as to have it found by a jury, when perhaps many, as deeply interested as they, may rest unsatisfied, and of a different opinion. It is their desire and my intention, that my employment herein may be guided by your lordship's advice and direction. And as you have proceeded with great zeal and labour in the service of his majesty, so, under favour, I conceive there is now a good occasion offered your lordship, to perfect that work;

and withal to gain thanks from many persons in fear and trouble, by mediating to his majesty to accept of this their free and unanimous resignation of their estates without further dispute ; and your lordship and the state to receive the jury's humble acknowledgment of your justice and their error of judgment, the rather in regard they have laboured to redeem their first offence, by persuading the rest of the county to this general surrender. And certainly so many persons of their quality will never acknowledge a wilful opposition or perjury, though there were apparent motives to ground a judgment thereupon.

CLANRICKARD. Sept. 27, 1636.

511

611 Strafford, II. 35.

subsided, they chearfully entered into Strafford's views, and encouraged him to proceed with his depredation. Charles who, as already stated, had received from his subjects 270,000l. for the renunciation of his claims to those lands, and for other considerations, was dishonourable and perfidious enough to become particeps criminis with this wholesale plunderer, and share the spoils. A letter, from secretary Coke to Strafford, dated Sept. 30, 1635, expresses his approbation of the course he had pursued :

“ That a greater proportion of land should be taken from the pretended owners in the county of Galway, than in the rest, is thought just and reasonable, for the reasons you allege. And your resolution to put the king's title to a legal trial, is very well approved, with such seizures as you intend both against the jurors and against all others that will not lay hold of the grace offered them by the proclamation."519

The jurors, imprisoned in Aug. 1635, and still in confinement, petitioned the king in July, 1636, for a release, but were rejected, and referred to Strafford.*

The deputy began to be fearful of resistance, and demanded a considerable force of horse to protect the new settlers in their spoliation of the natives : • “ It will be necessary that some considerable strength of horse may stand and look on as an excellent assistant to countenance the plantation, to incourage the English, and for their better defence upon their first coming "is

It is scarcely credible, but is nevertheless true, that after all these violations of right and justice, these barefaced depredations on property, Strafford had the effrontery to endeavour to cajole the Irish Roman Catholics into an opinion that they were indebted to the king for indulgence and great favours. Impudence could scarcely go farther.

*" The jurymen fined in the castle-chamber have by the earl of St. Albans petitioned his majesty, but are absolutely referred back to the justice of Ireland.9514

" When I understood by the relation of sir Tobie Matthews with how much and many untruths some of the Irishry endeavoured to shadow over to your sight those indulgent lights and graces which his majesty vouchsafed to shed forth to all his people, and in particular to those of the Roman Catholic religion here, I confess it was my gladness to hear it, seeing I might thence justly and naturally vindicate and represent the piety, honour, and integrity of my master's proceedings to your knowledge."9515

612 Strafford, I. 465.

513 Idem, 4541

514 Idem, II. 14.

$15 Idem, II. 112.

is

CHAPTER XVIII.

Administration of lord Strafford generally. Cruel treatment of the

Scotch in Ireland. Enormous fines. Strafford's ecclesiastical despotism. Case of lord Mountnorris. Obduracy of lord Strafford. Case of lord Loftus.

“Proud, impatient
Of aught superior, ev'n of heav'n that made him.
Fond of false glory-of the savage power
Of ruling without reason of confounding
Just and unjust by an unbounded will.
By whom religion, honour, all the bands
That ought to hold the jarring world in peace,
Were held as tricks of state."Rowe.

IT would be a defect in this portion of the work, if I did not give a sketch of the administration of lord Strafford, on other points, besides his flagitious proceedings in Connaught, in order more fully to display the tyranny exercised in Ireland, from which even the highest of the nobility were not exempt.

The family of lord Strafford have done his lordship's memory a most irreparable injury, by the publication of his letters, which afford such a mass of evidence of his rapacity, rancour, utter disregard of the ties of honour and justice, inhumanity, hypocrisy, and Machiavelism, as has rarely been bequeathed to posterity,

Few men have performed a distinguished part in society, whose history is so contradictorily narrated. A correct history of him is still a desideratum. Clarendon, Nalson, Carte, Hume, and all the long train of monarchiál writers, whine and lament over his grave, as if he had been a mirror of virtue,-a Phocion, an Aristides, a Socrates, a De Witt, or a Washington, and had been offered up, an inmaculate victim, to popular rage. But those who take a correct view of his career, must acknowledge that he was a bloated mass of almost every species of vice and crime of which a public officer is capable.

Candour, however, calls for the acknowledgment that the proceedings against him in the trial of the impeachment, were in many respects informal and irregular; and that he was offered up by the republican party in the Long Parliament, full as much to appease their resentment at his apostacy from their cause, and to allay their fears of his talents and influence, as for bis crimes, atrocious as were those crimes. But, whatever may have been the informality of the course pursued, few public functionaries have ever been brought to the block, whose fate was more completely sanctioned by the claims of substantial justice. No man ever had much less reason to complain of in-> formality: for whoever compares the proceedings on his trial, with those on the trial of lord Mountnorris, as stated p. 259, will be satis

« ForrigeFortsæt »