« ForrigeFortsæt »
lived in quiet and security upon the faith of Irish protections with which they had been furnished by Grace the governor. Immediately on the appearance of the British force they had renounced the benefit of those protections, and joined the besiegers, in full confidence that the town would be speedily taken. They were furnished with British protections in place of their Irish ones.
The condition of these poor people during the siege and afterwards was very deplorable. Their British protections proved to be mere waste paper. During the continuance of the siege they were plundered without mercy by their new friends; and when the siege was raised, they were forced to accompany this Protestant banditti, to which they were a prey, and from whom they could not now escape, having renounced all claim to their Irish protection, and given the enemy during the siege all the inform. ation and assistance in their power towards the capture of the place,
Douglas now raised the siege, and commenced his retreat with a precipitation that soon became a flight. In his terror of being cut off he abandoned all his heavy baggage; and lest he should fall in with Sarsfield, he quitted the high road, and struggled to make his way through broken and unfrequented routes, which added to the
length and hardships of the march. Thus terminated the first siege of Athlone.
Meantime the king had been hastening his arrangements in Dublin previous to his march towards Limerick. He suppressed King James's copper money by proclamation ; but it does not appear that he considered himself bound, by his succeeding to the government, to discharge the debts incurred by James's administration. James had promised to pay
tokens when presented at his Exchequer. But instead of doing so, he merely gave the bearer an acknowledgment, in the nature of a debenture, for the sum paid in. This debenture was signed by his Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was to bear interest; and several of them are still in existence.
Great efforts had been made since William's arrival in Ireland to revive the old game of forfeitures, and to inoculate the king with a taste for this stimulating enjoyment; and not, it appears, without some success. The phlegm of the Dutch prince was as little proof against the sweet seduction as Cromwell's piety or fanaticism had been. And, like this bold adventurer, he was compelled to give liberally to his dependents; in order to entitle himself to a large share.
William was induced to issue a « commission of forfeited lands, and other forfeitures.” The commissioners were the Bishop of Meath, Lord
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Longford, Doctor Gorge, Captain Fitzgerald, , Mr. Coughland, Doctor Davis, and Captain · Corker. Never was commission more active, They proceeded instantly to work, without
parliamentary authority or legal process. They seized,” says Leland, “without mercy ; harassed the country yet made inconsiderable returns into the Exchequer.”
The fact was, that the commissioners of for. feited lands and goods had no intention whatever of supplying the Exchequer. They swept away every thing they could lay hands on, and which there was the least shadow of reason for imagining to be the property of a Papist or an adherent of James. In this career of spoliation their great competitor was William's army.
The commissioners complained bitterly that the soldiers were before hand with them wherever there was any profitable spoil; and the army retorted, that the commissioners had a scent for plunder, and an activity in the pursuit of it, that surpassed their most experienced marauders.
However the matter might have really stood between the parties, the commissioners had the best of it when it came to a statement of account. In the few accounts they condescended to furnish, they charged themselves with very little, but made out a heavy bill against William's foreign army, of various plunder, which, they contended, ought to have gone to the credit
of the commission. The Bishop of Meath, who appears to have been an honest as well as a bold man, had the grace to withdraw himself very speedily from the commission. The other gentlemen proceeded in their course; and the king who expected to be a sharer in the profits, finding that he reaped nothing but disgrace, and that there was a general outcry raised against the shameful proceedings of the court, made some efforts to get rid of it. But it could not now be done; and he was compelled to submit, though with much vexation, to the reproach and the unprofitableness of their proceedings. He, however, contrived afterwards to get some valuable lands to his own share.
The king now commenced his march ; proceeding southwards through Carlow, Kilkenny, and Waterford. The Irish every where falling back before him, and surrendering those places without much resistance, agreeably to their plan of concentrating their main force behind the Shannon. The king, whose great object was despatch, granted every where the most favourable terms to the garrisons; permitting them to to march out with the honours of war, arms, baggage, &c. and join their main army on the Shannon.
At Waterford, William's impatience of the Irish war increased ; and he began to speak openly of returning to England. At length he
called a council of his officers, and communicated his intention of proceeding to London ; and stated the pressing reasons which made this resolution indispensable.
On the twenty-seventh of July, His Majesty left his army at Waterford, in charge of Count Solmes, as commander-in-chief, and set out for Dublin on his return to England. This movement of the king's created great despondency in the army, and amongst his adherents throughout the country:
It was looked upon as a confirmation of the various rumours that were afloat concerning the ill condition of the king's affairs abroad, as well as in Great Britain. At Carlow, however, on his way to Dublin, William was met by a courier, with an express containing favourable advices from England. He hesitated whether he should continue his journey or return to the army.
At length he decided upon proceeding towards Dublin, and postponing his final resolution till his arrival there.
The king stopped at Chapel-Izod, in the neighbourhood of the city, where he was employed several days in hearing petitions on various grievances and abuses, of which the people complained loudly. Some of these referred to the flagrant violation of the king's protections, which had become a source of great suffering and disorder. Many related to the enormous outrages,