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208 Sentiments of the late Earl of Clare.
eleven years, in which the face of the whole island was desolated, and its population nearly extinguished by war, pestilence, and famine, the insurgents were subdued and suffered all the calamities which could be inflicted on the vanquished This was a party in a long-contested civil war. civil war of extermination. Cromwell's first act was to collect all the native Irish, who had survived the general desolation and remained in the country, and to transplant them into the province of Connaught, which had been depopulated and laid waste in the progress of the rebellion. They were ordered to retire thither by a certain day, and forbidden to repass the Shannon on pain of death; and this sentence of deportation was rigidly enforced until the restoration. Their ancient possessions were seized and given up to the conquerors, as were the possessions of every man who had taken part in the rebellion, or followed the fortune of the king after the murder of Charles I. This whole fund was distributed amongst the officers and soldiers of Cromwell's army, in satisfaction of the arrears of their pay, and amongst the adventurers who had advanced money to deAnd thus a new fray the expences of the war. colony of new settlers, composed of all the various sects which then infested England, Independents, Anabaptists, Seceders, Brownists, Socinians, Millenarians, and dissenters of every description, many of them infected with the leaven of democracy, poured into Ireland, and were put into
Fallacy of Lord Clare's arguments.
209 possession of the ancient inheritance of its inhabitants."
In addition to this representation of the state of Ireland under Cromwell, the same nobleman observed, that "it would have been an act of gross injustice on the part of the king to have overlooked the interest of Cromwell's soldiers and adventurers, who had been put into possession of the confiscated lands in Ireland." Without knowing any thing of the genealogy of Lord Clare, it might almost be supposed that his ancestors were among those who had partaken of the unjust spoliations committed by Cromwell and his adherents; the only rational mode of accounting for that perversion of argument which could defend the conduct of the usurper, if not avowedly, at least by implication. Had Charles been actuated by a true spirit of magnanimous generosity he would, immediately on his restoration, have given back to their right owners the confiscated estates; and if rigid justice demanded it, compensated the followers of Cromwell in some other manner.
Such, however," says Plowden, "was the force of prejudice against the Irish, who resisted the usurpation of Cromwell almost to extirpation, and spent their last blood and treasure in supporting the royal cause, that by the first legislatures after the restoration the rebellious regicides were established and confirmed in the wages of their sanguinary usurpation. Thus basely and
210 Ormond regains his influence in Ireland. inhumanly were the crimes of one kingdom compromised by the forfeitures of the other."
As one proof of the manner in which justice was dispensed by Charles, and of the gratitude which he felt towards those who had most vehemently supported the rebellious cause of the regicides, he created Broghill Earl of Orrery, and Coote Earl of Montrath, and appointed them lords justices of Ireland. The first parliament that was called was convened on the 8th May, 1661; and it was so prepared as to be able to carry into effect the favourite measure of the protestant party, that of confirming the intruders in their possessions, and of banishing for ever from the native Irish all hopes of regaining their paternal estates. State commissioners were sent to the king to forward this grand design; and in order to prevent the Irish catholics from sending over agents to counteract them, the convention at Dublin put in execution all the severe laws and ordinances made by the usurper, so that the catholics were prohibited going from one province to another. These and several other severities were among the first acts of the restored monarch. The Duke of Ormond resumed also the government of Ireland, and by him were framed and settled the king's declaration, the acts of settlement and explanation, and by him also was made out the list of the persons excepted by name out of the ruinous effects of that act amount
The Act of Settlement.
ing altogether to about 500. These acts are thus explained by Lord Clare in his speech already alluded to.
"The act of settlement professes to have for its object the execution of his majesty's gracious declaration for the settlement of his kingdom of Ireland, and the satisfaction of the several interests of adventurers, soldiers, and others, his subjects there; and after reciting the rebellion, the enormities committed in the progress of it, and the final reduction of the rebels by the king's English and protestant subjects, by a general sweeping clause vests in the king, his heirs and successors, all estates real and personal, of every kind whatever, in the kingdom of Ireland, which at any time from the 21st of October, 1641, were seized and sequestered into the hands, or to the use of Charles I. the then king, or otherwise disposed of, set out, or set apart, by reason or on account of the rebellion, or which were allotted, assigned, or distributed to any person or persons, for adventures, arrears, reprisals, or otherwise, or whereof any soldier, adventurer, or other person was in possession for or on account of the rebellion. And having thus, in the first instance, vested three-fourths of the lands and personal property of the inhabitants of this island in the king, commissioners are appointed with full and exclusive authority to hear and determine all claims upon the general fund, whether of officers and soldiers for arrears of pay, of adventurers who
Iniquitous manner of its operation.
had advanced money for carrying on the war, or of innocent papists, as they are called, in other words, of the old inhabitants of the island, who had been dispossessed by Cromwell, not for taking a part in the rebellion against the English crown, but for their attachment to the fortunes of Charles I. But with respect to this class of sufferers, who might naturally have expected a preference of claim, a clause is introduced, by which they are postponed, after a decree of innocence by the commissioners, until previous reprisals shall be made to Cromwell's soldiers and adventurers who had obtained possession of their inheritance. I will not detain the house with a minute detail of the provisions of this act; but I wish gentlemen, who call themselves the dignified and independent Irish nation, to know, that seven millions eight hundred thousand acres of land were set out under the authority of this act, to a motley crew of English adventurers, civil and military, nearly to the total exclusion of the old inhabitants of the island. Many of the latter class, who were innocent of the rebellion, lost their inheritance, as well from the difficulties imposed upon them by the court of claims in the proofs required of their innocence, as from a deficiency in the fund for reprisals to English adventurers, arising principally from a profuse grant made by the crown to the Duke of York. The parliament of Ireland, having made this settlement of the island in effect on themselves, granted an hereditary revenue to the crown,