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informers harassed, tricked, and preyed upon the inhabitants of the remaining nineteen-twentieths. In the preceding note, page 225, Carte expressly informs us, that “there were few gentlemen in the kingdom, who had not been, some time or other, questioned for their title, or disturbed in the possession of their estates.”
They who were too poor or too spiritless to engage in distant adventures, courted fortune in Ireland. Under pretence of improving the king's revenue in a country where it was far less than the charge of government, they obtained commissions of inquiry into defective titles, and grants of concealed lands and rents belonging to the crown; the great benefit of which was generally to accrue to the projector, whilst the king had but an inconsiderable proportion of the concealment, or a small advance of rent. DISCOVERERS WERE EVERY WHERE BUSILY EMPLOYED IN FINDING OUT FLAWS IN MEN'S TITLES
The old pipe-rolls were searched, to find the original rents with which they had been charged. The patent rolls, in the tower of London, were ransacked for the ancient grants. No means of industry, or devices, were left untried, to force the possessors to accept of new grants, at an advanced rent. In general, men were either conscious of the defects in their titles, or alarmed at the trouble and expense of a contest with the crown, or fearful of the issue of such a contest, at a time, and in a country, where the prerogative was highly strained, and strenuously supported by the judges. These inquiries, therefore, commonly ended in a new composition, made at as cheap a rate, and as easy an advance of rent, as the possessors could obtain. "2233
Can the history of the world produce, in a state of peace, such a hideous order of things as is here detailed ? An entire nation divided into two classes, plunderers and plundered,spies
TO THEIR ESTATES.
233 Leland, II. 549.
SPIES, PIMPS, AND INFORMERS.
and informers, and victims of their malice and avarice! What scenes of distress and wretchedness, what instances of rapine, what fraud, what trick, what chicane, what forgery, what perjury, must have taken place in such a state of society, when the baleful race of informers and discoverers were every where busily employed in finding out flaws in men's titles to their estates!” And this in lord Clarendon's millenium ! that 5 blessed condition of peace and security,” when só whatsoever their land, labour, or industry produced, was their own !”
Fastidious readers will murmur at the constant repetition of the development of the falsehood of lord Clarendon, which occurs in this work. But what is to be done in such a case ? If fraud, falsehood, and imposture, every step we take, cross our path, must we pass them over unnoticed, from deference to that fastidiousness, which, while it submits cheerfully to the eternal repetition of falsehood, affects to be shocked at the repetition of its detection?
Slanders of the Irish character. Honourable tes
timonials. Baron Finglass. Sir Edward Coke. Sir John Davies. Highland missionaries to civilize the Irish. Project of Irish plantations in England and Scotland.
TO palliate, or even to justify, these spoliations, the Irish of that era are represented as rude, barbarous, savage, and intolerant of law and order. Were this statement correct, it would by no means justify the proceedings which we have here detailed. There is no law, human or divine, which warrants a civilized man in seizing the possessions of him who is, or whom he pretends to be, uncivilized. Any law that would have warranted James, in his conduct to his Ulster and Leinster subjects, warranted Cortes, Pizarro, and Almagro, in their lawless devastations in Mexico and Peru. Indeed the Spaniards may be more readily defended than James. The wretched Mexicans and Peruvians had no claim on the protection of their invaders : they were despoiled by a host of armed banditti, after a regular warfare.
But the ill-fated Irish were plundered and made a prey of by a prince whose paramount duty was, not only not to depredate on them himself, but to protect them from the depredations of others.
But here we meet the slanderers, who give such hideous accounts of the Irish, on the very threshold ; and are able to stamp on their foreheads the seal of falsehood in the most legible characters. The evidence we produce is such as no man living will dare dispute. It is not derived from O'Sullivan, O'Connor, O'Halloran, or Curry. To these writers, objections of partiality would be made, by those prejudiced men who delight in every thing, however gross, however unjust, that defames or destroys the Irish character. We appeal to Patrick Finglass, Esq. chief baron of the exchequer, under Henry VIII. to Coke, the author of the Institutes, and to that John Davies, king James's attorney-general in Ireland, who brought the accusation against the inhabitants of Ulster, of “not building houses nor planting orchards," to prove that they had no lands of inheritance.
Baron Finglass places the Irish character on far higher ground than that of the English, so far as respects submission to law and justice:
“It is a great abusion and reproach, that the laws and statuts made in this lond are not observed ne kept, after the making of theme, eight days; which matter is oone of the distructions of Englishmen of this lond: and divers Irishmen doth abserve and kepe such laws and statuts, which they make upon hills in their country, firm and stable, without breaking them for any favour or reward.
234 Hibernica, 101.
Edward Coke delivers his opinion of the Irish, in a high and encomiastic style of commendation:
“ I have been informed by many of those that have had judicial places there, and [know] partly of my own knowledge, that THERE IS NO NATION OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD THAT ARE GREATER LOVERS OF JUSTICE than they are; which virtue must of course be accompanied by many others.9235
In portraying the Irish character, Sir John Davies has displayed more talent and candour than are to be found in his forensic development of the rights of inheritance.
They will gladly continue in this condition of subjects, without defection, or adhering to any other lord or king, as long as they may be protected and justly governed, without oppression on the one side, or impunity on the other. For THERE IS NO PEOPLE UNDER THE SUN THAT DOTH LOVE EQUAL AND INDIFFERENT JUSTICE BETTER THAN THE IRISH; or will rest better. satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves; so that they may have the protection and benefit of the law, when upon just cause they do desire it."'236
I dare affirm, that in the space of five years last past, there have not been found so many malefactors worthy of death, in all the six circuits of this realm, which is now divided into thirty-two shires at large, as in one circuit of six shires, namely, the western circuit in England. For the truth is, that, in time of peace, THE IRISH ARE MORE FEARFUL TO OFFEND THE LAW THAN THE ENGLISH, or any other nation whatsoever."237
Yet this is the nation which the miserable herd of scribblers who have undertaken its history, have stigmatized as barbarous, savage, and wild ;
235 Coke, IV. 349.
236 Davies, 213.
237 Idem, 200.