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148

Accession of James I.

CHAP. VI.

Accession of James I.-His endeavours to conciliate the Irish-The Earl of Chichester defeats this design-Sham plot fomented by himJames adopts the favorite scheme of transplanting English and Scotch settlers to IrelandEncourages Chichester in his proceedingsContumelious reception of the Irish deputiesReflections upon the conduct of England towards Ireland, from the time of Henry to that of James.

By the accession of James VI. of Scotland to the throne of England a very important change was effected in the government of those two kingdoms. James was peculiarly anxious to ingratiate himself with his Irish subjects by encouraging reports of his disposition to favour the rights and privileges of the catholics; a disposition which was magnified by the enthusiastic hopes of the catholics themselves into an actual toleration of them, and in the full confidence of these hopes, - they no longer thought it necessary to practice their religion in secrecy. But their wishes outran the truth, for Mountjoy marched an armed force into Munster to punish this open violation of the

Desirous of conciliating the Irish.

149

law. It was in Munster chiefly where the catholic rights had been thus freely celebrated. When he reached Waterford he found the town gates shut against him, and the citizens refused to open them, upon the plea of a charter from King John, by which they were exempted from the necessity of quartering soldiers; but Mountjoy emphatically answered, that with the sword of King James he would cut in pieces the charter of King John, level their city to its foundation, and strew salt upon its ruins. The menace was successful; Waterford opened its gates; and the other towns of the province of Munster following its example, the dawning hopes of toleration were quenched

at once.

James, however, was still desirous of doing something that might conciliate the Irish, and in 1605 an act of oblivion and indemnity was passed, by which all offences committed against the crown during the late times of turbulence and confusion were pardoned and entirely remitted. By the same proclamation also, all the Irish, who had hitherto received no specific protection from the English government, because living in immediate subordination to their own chieftains, were admitted into the immediate protection of the King; a measure which, according to Sir John Davies, "bred such comfort and security in the hearts of all men, as thereupon ensued the calmest and most universal peace that ever was seen in Ireland."

150 Administration of the Earl of Chichester.

The puritanical principles which first began to display themselves against the tolerating measures of James, soon became visible in Ireland. But James met their approaches with something like vigour and determination. He issued a formal promulgation of the act of conformity of the 2d of Elizabeth, and annexed to it his own proclamation for its strict observance. But this ineasure, according to Leland, instead of terrifying the delinquents, enraged them. It had in it, certainly, several humiliating features, and among other things it enacted, that the catholics of condition should be appointed inquisitors to watch and inform against those of their own communion who did not frequent the protestant churches, by neglect of which they were subjected to fine and imprisonment. That these proceedings should excite distrust and disaffection may be naturally conceived, and that disaffection was, to a certain degree, fomented and increased by the Lord Deputy Chichester for party purposes. His object was to lay the foundations of that sham plot, of which so much advantage was afterwards taken. An anonymous letter was dropped in the privy council chamber, intimating a traiterous scheme of rebellion formed by the Earls of Tyrone and other lords and gentlemen of the north, in defence of the catholic religion. It is certain, indeed, that Tyrone and Tyrconnel both fled the country, and were, with some others of inferior note, attainted of high treason. This flight has been

The project of colonizing Ireland revived. 151considered, by some historians, as a proof of their guilt, while it has been asserted by others, that they fled from no consciousness of guilt, but because they were informed that perjured witnesses. would be suborned against them to prove whatever the malice of their enemies wished. Whatever may have been the cause, however, (and there is strong reason to believe that fraud and treachery would have been employed against them,) the effect was precisely what was wished, the confiscation of all their vast estates, so that almost six. entire counties in Ulster were forfeited to the crown*. Upon a loose survey, these forfeited lands were computed to comprise 511,456 Irish acres.

James now began to pursue with great vigour his favourite scheme of colonizing Ireland with English settlers, to the utter exclusion of the aboriginal inhabitants, and for the purpose of successfully establishing the reformed religion. The forfeited lands, therefore, were parcelled out among English and Scotch adventurers. The latter were by far the more numerous, and they transplanted with them the seeds of presbyterianism into the northern province of Ulster, where their descendants at this day form a race essentially distinct in physical and moral qualities from the rest of the inhabitants of Ireland. Every precaution was taken to make this new settlement concurrent to the establishment of the new reli

* These counties were Cavan, Fermanagh, Armagh, Derry, Tyrone, and Tyrconnel, now called Donegal.

152 James's merits as legislator of Ireland.

gion. Among the most opulent adventurers were the citizens of London, who obtained a large tract of land upon the lower part of the river Ban, where they rebuilt the town of Derry, and in memory of the place they had quitted they called it Londonderry. It is supposed that of the 511,456 Irish acres which escheated to the crown, 209,800 acres were bestowed upon the Londoners alone; and in a book, which was printed for the better direction of the settlers, it was specially mentioned" that they should not suffer any labourer, that would not take the oath of supremacy, to dwell upon their land." This measure is regarded as the most important point of policy pursued by James towards Ireland, and it may not be uninstructive therefore to consider it with some attention. James, indeed, may be regarded as having done more for Ireland than any of his of his predecessors; and though Hume is too much the apologist of the Stuarts on all occasions, no one, perhaps, will wholly deny the truth of the following statements as to the services he rendered this dependency. "To consider James in a more advantageous light," says he, "we must take a view of him as the legislator of Ireland; and most of the institutions which he had framed for the civilizing that kingdom being finished about this period, it may not here be improper to give some account of them. He frequently boasts of his management of Ireland as his master-piece; and it will appear, upon enquiry, that, his vanity, in

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