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the minority.* They decided that two of the classes of usurpers should be expelled the parliament,
I. Those who were returned for towns not incorporated;
But they most wickedly ordered, that those who were returned for towns where they did not reside, should retain their seats; and that the penalty of the false, illegal returns should be paid by the sheriffs. · The third class being more numerous than the other two, and being secured in their usurpation by this iniquitous decision, the government still possessed a majority; and was of course enabled to carry whatever measures it thought proper; and thus a few needy and dependent Englishmen, who probably had not an acre of land in the island, were virtually its legislators!
What a shameful prostitution of the dignity of the bench! What an unanswerable proof, that venality and corruption had spread throughout every department of the state, poisoned all the sources of justice, and that all were leagued in the grand work of oppressing the wretched Irish! A law, founded in reason, common sense, justice, and honesty, passed only twenty-seven years before, had ordained under a heavy penalty, that every borough, or town, or city, should be
represented by a resident, who would know its situation, feel its * wants, plead its cause, rise with its prosperity, and sink with its fall. A horde of hungry Englishmen are nevertheless returned to represent places they never saw: a profligate parliament applies to a prostitute bench, to decide the question whether a remedy shall be applied to this illegal proceeding : it decides that these intruders and usurpers shall maintain their seats, but that those who returned them shall pay the penalty of the infraction of the law! What solemn mockery! Suppose a fine of one hundred thousand pounds were laid on those officers, which would go into the treasury, --suppose they were imprisoned for life,-even suppose they were hanged, drawn, and quartered; what compensation would be afforded to the towns robbed of their representation, or to the nation cheated with such a fraudulent legislature ?
These proceedings, and the opinion of the judges, afford an ample field for consideration. They exhibit a strong feature of the hideous oppression which their rulers exercised over the ill-fated Irish. Let
* The judges, having a discoursed and conferred of this matter, returned their answers; that concerning the first and second exceptions, that the burgesses returned from towns not corporate, and for such sheriffs, mayors, and sovereigns, as have returned themselves, shall be dismissed out of the same; but as for such others as the sheriffs and mayors had returned, they should remain, and the penalty to rest upon the sheriffs for their wrong returnes.99329
“ The same was so stomached, that the placing of the Englishmen, to be knights and burgesses, could not be digested, as did appear in the sequel of that assembly, where every bill furthered by the English gentlemen, was stopped and hindered by them.”330
329 Hollinshed, VI. 343.
us apply this case to this side of the Atlantic. Let us suppose that the sheriff of Philadelphia city, instead of allowing the citizens to vote for two members of congress, were to elect himself and his deputy; that Frankford, and Bustleton, and Holmesburg, and Chester, and Darby, and Marcus Hook, and Point-no-Point were to send each two members to congress; and finally, that a host of newly-arrived citizens of Kentucky should be chosen to represent some of our towns or counties, which they had never seen. This would be a case exactly in point. This “ blessed condition of peace and security” would make " the swords of our citizens leap from their scabbards," to avail myself of the heroics of my countryman, Burke.
House of Lords. Against the corruption and profligacy of the house of commons, the house of lords might have afforded some security: but here the wicked arts of the government triumphed, and equally trampled under foot every principle of honour, honesty, and justice. In every potion calculated to heal the wounds or alleviate the distresses of Ireland, there was always infused a deleterious drug, whose admixture transformed it into poison. To secure a majority in the upper house, Irish titles were granted to English noblemen, destitute of a single acre of land in Ireland.* They never appeared in parliament; but confided their proxies to the minions of the government,-three, four, or five, to one peer. Thus six of these men of straw, not owning all together a single acre in Ireland, could out-vote the duke of Ormond, and the earls of Kildare, Castlehaven, Clanrickarde, and Fingal, who, united, possessed probably above a million!
The parliament that sat in 1568, was packed for the purpose of attainting Shane O'Nial, and confiscating his princely estates. The act passed for that purpose, affords the most pregnant proof of the corruption of that body, and what a solemn mockery it was to style it an Irish parliament. 'To this title the majority had little more claim than the common council of London-and it would be almost as honest, and fair, and just to allow that council or the parliament of Scotland, to make laws for the people of Ireland, as it was for the corrupt body that sat in Dublin, and usurped the powers of legislation, contrary to the law of the land. The act above referred to, assumes, as the grounds of its enaction, such miserable legends and such vile sophistry, as display an utter disregard of the slightest appearances of common decency or common honesty, and must excite the disgust of every candid observer. 'They form a sort of sui generis in the history of legislation, The wickedness of the transaction stares us in the face with the most meretricious audacity. The preamble enters into an elaborate attempt to prove that the whole island and all its inhabitants were, and of right ought to be, the property of the kings of England! That England or Englishmen should 'advance such claims, grounded, as they were in this act, on the fabulous histories of Gurmonds and Be
*“ Twenty-nine proxies were entered, four and fire to one lord."'381
331 Mountmorres, I. 321.
fans, and donations of an island not their own, might not be very surprizing. But what indignation must it excite, to have those legendary tales recorded among the statutes enacted in the metropolis of Ireland, and by men pretending to the venerable character of representatives of that kingdom? The pretended proofs would excite our merriment, did not profound astonishment and sovereign contempt stifle the propensity to ridicule.
The two principal grounds for asserting a paramount claim to the soil and people of Ireland in favour of the English kings, were, first, that the progenitors of the Irish, who migrated from Spain, lived in a province called Biscan, “ whereof Bayon was a member;" that "king Gurinond, son of the noble king Belan, king of Great Britain, was lord of Bayon," as were many of his successors down to the coming of Henry II. into Ireland ; and as the crown devolved in right of succession to Elizabeth, “ THEREFORE”-most wonderful logic!
the Irish should be the king of England his people, and Ireland his
pos * Extract from “ An Act for the attainder of Shane ONeile, and the
extinguishment of the name of O'Neile, and the entitling of the Queen's majesty, her heirs, and successours, to the country of Tyrone and other countries and territories in Ulster.
“And now, most deere sovereign ladie, least that any man which list not to seeke and learn the truth, might be ledd eyther of his owne fantasticall imagination, or by the sinister suggestion of others, to think that the sterne or lyne of the Oneyles should or ought, by prioritie of title, to hold and possess anie part of the dominion or territories of Ulster before your majestie, your heyres, and successours, we, your grace's said faithfull and obedient subjects, for avoyding of all such scruple, doubt, and erroneous conceit, doe intend here (pardon first craved of your majestie for our tedious boldness) to disclose unto your highness your auncient and sundry strong authentique tytles, conveyed farr beyonde the said lynage of the Oneyles and all other of the Irishrie to the dignitie, state, title and possession of this your realm of Ireland.
6 And therefore it may like your most excellent majestie to be advertized, that the auncient chronicles of this realm, written both in the Latine, English, and Irish tongues, alledged sundry auncient tytles for the kings of England to this land of Ireland. And first, that at the beginning, afore the comming of Irishmen into the said land, they were dwelling in a province of Spain, the which is called Biscan, whereof Bayon was a member, and the chief citie. And that, at the said Irishmen's comming into Ireland, one king Gurmond, sonne to the noble king Belan, king of Great Britaine, which now is called England, was lord of Bayon, as many of his successours were to the time of king Henry the second, first conqueror of this realm: and THEREFORE THE IRISHMEN SHOULD BE THE KING OF ENGLAND HIS PEOPLE, AND IRELAND HIS LAND!!
“ Another title is, that at the same time that Irishmen came out of Biscay, as exhiled persons, in sixty ships, they met with the same king Gurmond upon the sea, at the ysles of Orcades, then comming
But not relying wholly on this title to the kingdom and the people,” they adduce another proof equally cogent and valid, grounded
from Denmark with great victory. Their captains, called Heberus and Hermon, went to this king, and him tolde the cause of their comming out of Biscay, and him prayed, with great instance, that he would graunt unto them, that they might inhabit some land in the west, The king at the last, by advise of his councell, granted them Ireland to inhabite, and assigned unto them guides for the sea, to bring them thither: and THEREFORE THEY SHOULD AND OUGHT TO BE THE KING OF ENGLAND'S MEN!!
“ Another title is, as the clerke Geraldus Cambrensis writeth at large the historie of the conquest of Ireland by king Henry the second, your famous progenitor, how Dermot Mac Morch, prince of Leinster, which is the first part of Ireland, being a tyrant or tyrants, banished, went over the sea into Normandie, in the parts of France, to the said king Henry; and him besely besought of succour, which he obtained, and thereupon became liege man to the said king Henry, through which he brought power of Englishmen into the land, and married his daughter, named Eve, at Waterford, to Sir Richard Fitz
. Gilbert, earle of Stranguile' in Wales, and to him granted the revers sion of Leinster, with the said Eve his daughter. And after that the said earle granted to the said king Henry the citie of Dublin, with certain cantreds of lands next to Dublin, and all the haven towns of Leinster, to have the rest to him in quiet with his grace's favour.
- Another title is, that in the year of our Lord God one thousand oue hundred sixtie-two, the aforesaid king Henry landed at the citie of Waterford, within the realm of Ireland, and there came to him Dermet, king of Corke, which is of the nation of the M'Carties, and of his own proper will became liege, tributarie for him and his kingdom, and upon that made his oath and gave his hostages to the king. Then the king roade to Cashell, and there came to him Donalde, king of Limerick, which is of the nation of the O'Brienes, and became his liege, as the other did. Then came to him Donald, king of Ossorie, Mac-Shaglin, king of Ophaly, and all the princes of the south of Ireland, and became his liege men, as aforesaid. Then went the said king Henry to Dublin, and there came to him O'Kirnill, king of Uriel, O'Rowcke, king of Meth, and Rothorick, king of all Irishmen of the land, and of Connaught, with all the princes, and men of value of the land; and became liege subjects, and tributaries, by great oathes for them, their kingdoms and lordships to the said king Henry; and that of their own good wills, as it should seem; for that the chronicles make no mention of any warre or chivalrie done by the said king, all the time that he was in Ireland.
“And in the year of our Lord God, a thousand, a hundred, four score and five, he gave the land of Ireland to his youngest sonne, Joha by name, about which time the said John came in person into Ireland, and held the same land.
“ Another title is, that all the clergie of this realm assembled at Armagh, at the time of the Conquest, upon the comming over of Englishmen, our forefathers; and there it was decreed and deemed
on a most miserable legend, that Heremon and Heberus, when leading their followers from Spain into Ireland, met king Gurmond, at the islands of the Orcades, returning, crowned with laurels, from a great victory obtained in Denmark. The Milesian chiefs, wearied out with their tedious pilgrimage, and panting after an asylum, where they might repose from their labours, besought this powerful prince to grant thern some place in the west, wherein to settle themselves. Having compassion on them, he graciously " by advise of his councell, granted them Ireland to inhabite”—and therefore they should and ought to be the king of England's men!”
The migration of the Milesians to Ireland is stated by O'Connor, one of the most learned antiquaries of the last century, to have taken place eleven hundred years before the Christian era. The act for the attainder of O'Nial was passed, as already stated, anno 1568. Thus this claim, so cogently urged, was nearly twenty-seven hundred years ola!!
This procedure is so revolting to reason, justice, and common sense, as to be utterly incredible, did not the statute book, which is disgraced by the act in question, bear ample testimony to its existence. A band of Algerines, about to perpetrate some outrageous act of violence, and desirous of palliating it by sophistry, could not have devised a more hollow or fallacious pretence. The whole story of Belan and Bayon, and Gurmond and the Orcades is as very a romance, as any of the tales which Scheherazade recounted to her dear sister Dinarzade, to save herself from decollation.
by them, that through the sin of the people of the land, by the sentence of God, the mischief of the Conquest them befell.
“ Another title is, that at the first comming and being of king Richard the second in Ireland, at the citie of Dublin, and other places of the land, there came unto him, with their own good wills, O'Neyle, captain of the Irishmen of Ulster, O'Breène, of Ihomond, O'Connor of Connaught, Arthur Mac Morchie, captain of Irishmen in Leinster, and all captains of Irishmen of Ireland, and became liege men to the said king Richard, and to him did homage and fealty: and for the more greater suertie bound themselves in great summes of money, by divers instruments, in case they did not truly keep and hold their allegiance in the forme aforesaid : and therefore, sa jeth this clerke, that from the beginning of his time, which was about three hundred and four score years past, GOOD IS THE KING OF ENGLAND'S
TITLE AND RIGHT TO THE LAND AND LORDSHIP OF IRELAND."332
332 Statutes, 231.