Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

most manly, energetic, and enterprising part of the Protestant population. At the same time the pressure of the penal laws, the restriction on industry and trade, the closing up of all avenues to distinction drove into voluntary exile those who should have led the native race. Thus the country was continually losing the flower both of the Protestant and Catholic youth-the former to people the swamps of the New World, and assist in creating a great nation; the latter to fight battles in which they had no real interest, and to suffer the contumely and neglect which is usually the reward of the mercenary.

In one year, according to Primate Boulter (1728), 3100 Protestants emigrated from Ulster. They went chiefly to Pennsylvania, Western Virginia, and North Carolina, which were in a great measure peopled by these Scotch-Irish, as they are called in the United States. The effect of this emigration upon the emoluments of the Presbyterian clergy was very serious. In a letter of Primate Boulter to Sir Robert Walpole, it is stated that, owing to the emigration to America, the scarcity of corn, and the consequent loss of credit, the Presbyterian ministers were in a very bad way, some who used to get £50 a year from their congregation not receiving £15. The Catholic emigration was very great, the Irish regiments in the service of France being regularly recruited in Ireland, although the penalty for enlisting in a foreign service was death-a penalty, however, rarely, if ever, enforced. The smuggling trade in wool greatly facilitated the flight of the "wild geese," as these recruits were called; but in times of peace they found their way to the Continent, on the pretence of seeking work in England. That the enlistment of men for the service of France was connived at, there can be no doubt. when France and England were allies, the Duke of Newcastle, with the sanction of Sir Robert Walpole, furnished a Lieut.-Colonel Hennery, or rather Hennessy, with letters to Primate Boulter, with the object of getting a licence for himself and other French officers to recruit openly. The rumour of the affair made much noise, however, in London, although the primate observes, in his letters, that the

In 1730,

1741)
INCREASE OF EMIGRATION

55 number to be raised by the king's leave this year had been clandestinely raised annually for some years.

It was thought desirable, however, to withdraw the leave, and that the officers should return to France.

The rulers of the kingdom looked upon both classes of emigrants-Protestants as well as Catholics—with dread, as elements of disorder and mischief, and secretly rejoiced at their departure. The Protestant emigrants were usually considered to be idlers, debtors flying from their creditors, and generally discredited persons whose absence would benefit the country. It is curious to find that more than fifty years afterwards, when the stream of Protestant emigration again flowed rapidly, the opinion of the governing class about these sturdy Presbyterian emigrants remained the same. Arthur Young records the opinion of Chief Baron Forster about the Protestant emigration in 1776. The chief baron was an enlightened man, yet he says those emigrants were principally idle people who, far from being missed, left the country the better for their absence. This was not the opinion of one man only; it expresses the universal opinion of the governing class at the time.

After the famine and pestilence of 1741, the Government, as usual after such calamities, bethought themselves how similar visitations might be prevented in the future. They carefully avoided considering the true and only remedies for the evils from which the country suffered. The viceroy recommended the employment of the people and the encouragement of tillage; Parliament agreed, but did nothing—and, in truth, did not want to do anything. Bishop Berkeley, after a previous famine, had offered many suggestions for the improvement of the country, which, though not touching the root of the evil, were worthy of being adopted by any Government desirous of the public welfare. But the advice was unsuitable for the purposes of Primate Boulter and the English interest; in fact, in the opinion of Boulter, many of the queries were revolutionary, and the author of them a dangerous man. Some of Berkeley's friends thought him worthy of the Primacy, but he saw an unsurmountable obstacle in the way. Writing to his friend Prior in reference to the vacancy caused by the death of Boulter, he says, “For myself, though his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant might have a better opinion of me than I deserve, yet it is not likely he would make an Irishman primate."

1 The first edition of the Querist was published anonymously in three parts

in 1735.

In the midst of the misery of 1741, a new apostle of reform and a champion of legislative independence appeared-Dr. Lucas. He had not the genius or style of Swift, but he was bold, and attacked abuses and tyranny in an incisive, if somewhat coarse style, and with a freedom hitherto unknown. Although Lucas began as a colonial patriot, his denunciation of the whole system of misgovernment made him popular with the native race, and all classes of nationalists read his weekly paper, the Citizens' Journal, with avidity. The popularity he enjoyed among the native Irish only tended to increase the fear and hatred of him among the Ascendency faction. He had dedicated his first number to the king, and sent the viceroy a copy for presentation to his Majesty. Having most likely received no acknowledgment of his letter, he announced that he would attend the levée and ask the Lord-Lieutenant himself if he had transmitted the paper. He went to the levée, but Lord Harrington sent an officer to request him to leave, which he did ; and in the next number of his paper he published an account of how he had been treated. This gave him an occasion of passing from social to political topics, and of insisting on the right of Ireland to make her own laws without the interference of England. The effect was twofold. In the first place, he became the popular idol of the Dublin traders and artisans; and, in the second, he incurred the hatred of the Government in a proportionate degree. In a letter to the Duke of Bedford, the viceroy says, “The incendiary had gained so many converts that it was absolutely necessary to put a stop to his proceedings." There happened at the moment to be a vacancy in

1 October 12, 1749, Froude, op. cit., vol. i. p. 608.

1742]

DR. LUCAS AND THE PATRIOTS

57

the representation of Dublin; Lucas immediately offered himself for election, and, as he had real influence among the trading and artisan population—the various tradeguilds were about to present him with the freedom of their respective corporations—he had a good chance of being returned. This was too much for the Government. 'In opening the autumn session of Parliament, Lord Harrington denounced him; the Parliament voted him an enemy to his country, one of his principal crimes being his assertion of the rightful independence of the Parliament itself. The lord mayor and aldermen, whose jobbery and corruption he had exposed, attacked him and his paper. Everything being ripe, and the writ for the city election not having been issued, a warrant was prepared for his arrest and committal to Newgate; but before it could be executed he escaped to the Isle of Man. This persecution drew attention to the writings of Lucas, which were read by every one, and his opinions took root and spread far and wide. In Parliament, too, an opposition party, the members of which were known as “patriots," had grown up, who helped to keep the national sentiment alive, although their nationality was narrow and exclusive.

V

PERIOD OF CORRUPTION; DAWN OF CIVIL AND

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

PRIMATE BOULTER died in 1742, having barely outlived the great famine and pestilence which formed one of the illustrations of the policy he was employed to carry out. Bishop Hoadly succeeded to the Primacy, but not to the office of master manager of the king's business; he in turn was succeeded by the notorious Dr. Stone, Bishop of Derry, who possessed in an eminent degree the qualifications necessary to be the political successor of Primate Boulter. He was an Englishman by birth, of handsome person and dignified manners, but loose, immoral, and corrupt. He was just the man to help the Duke of Devonshire to do the "king's business," and keep things quiet.

In 1745, after a period of degrading persecution, Lord Chesterfield became Lord-Lieutenant, and the stringency of the penal code was for a time relaxed.

He recommended Parliament to inquire if the Popery laws needed amendment. Strengthening the Protestant interest by an additional tyranny was the only way the Parliament understood how this could be done; but Lord Chesterfield soon showed that the same end might be attained more easily and effectively by different means. He stopped priesthunting; he allowed the chapels to be opened for service everywhere. He was affable to the people, and manifested a desire for popularity. Officers and magistrates were rebuked for over-zeal; officials were given to understand that the king's business could be better done by moderation than by severity. It was also intimated to the judges that the custom, peculiar to Ireland, of reading homilies on the state of the country, might be advantageously

58

« ForrigeFortsæt »