Зображення сторінки


the fate, not of martyrs, but of traitors. Even Roman Catholic historians admit that no person suffered death purely for the sake of religion during Elizabeth's reign"; and it is equally certain that, although various penal statutes were from time to time passed, under which the exercise of the Romish religion was forbidden, and attendance on the authorized worship enjoined, these statutes never were rigorously enforced against the peaceable and well-disposed, but were resorted to as defensive measures against the aggressive and seditious emissaries of Rome.

40. If, however, the principles of the Reformation cannot be said to have made very extensive advance during this reign, one event of the greatest importance to its future progress signalized its close, namely, the foundation in 1591 of Trinity College, Dublin; among the first students in which was the famous James Usher, afterwards Archbishop of Armagh, whose exemplary piety and extraordinary learning shed a lustre over the Church history of the seventeenth century.

41. The accession of James I. in 1603, was hailed in Ireland with general unanimity. His Scottish descent, which was supposed to connect him with the ancient Irish kings, rendered him acceptable to many who looked on his predecessors as foreign usurpers; and his being the son of a Roman Catholic mother, -sometimes dignified with the title of a “Catholic Martyr”-gave to that party grounds for hoping, or at least for asserting, that he would on a favourable opportunity restore matters to their former footing. This groundless expectation leading to various acts

Plowden, “History of Ireland,” b. ii. c. 4. & See Leland, ii. 381; and Connor, ii. 302.

of sedition and violence, as well as to a renewal of foreign intrigues—the Government, which appeared at first disposed to act in a forbearing and tolerant spirit, resorted to a more stringent course of policy. The Act of Uniformity was re-published; an oath of allegiance, renouncing the Pope's deposing power, was exacted from all official persons; and all the Romish clergy, excepting such as were willing to conform, were commanded to leave the kingdom. These laws, however, though vigorously worded, were but faintly executed, and produced little effect on the turbulent and treacherous spirits with whom the Government had to deal; and with whom kindness and threats were alike unavailing. In the year 1607, a conspiracy was entered into by several of the most powerful northern chieftains, headed by O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, to seize the Castle of Dublin, murder the Lord Deputy, and raise a general insurrection. On the discovery of their plot they fled the country; and having been already more than once pardoned for previous offences, they were now proclaimed outlaws, were attainted by parliament, and their lands declared forfeited to the Crown.

These lands (embracing more than half a million acres in Ulster, but very thinly populated, and in a most desolate and miserable condition), were disposed of in various ways for the advancement of civilization and of the Protestant religion. Such portions as had anciently belonged to the Church or been held for her benefit by the Co-arbs and Erenachs, but had in latter times been violently or fraudulently seized, were restored h: other portions were annexed to the

" See the Ulster Inquisitions, quoted in King's "Memoir."

bishoprics in lieu of such tithes and dues as they had hitherto exacted from the clergy. Considerable grants were likewise made to the recently-founded College of Dublin, as well as for the establishment of free schools in the principal towns; and the remainder-amounting to nearly a moiety of the whole—went to form the celebrated “Plantation of Ulster;" being assigned to the various London companies, and to other English and Scotch "undertakers" on certain special conditions, calculated to advance the temporal and spiritual interests of the community. To a considerable extent this plan was successful; and much of the prosperity of the north of Ireland is undoubtedly to be traced to the new blood thus infused among its native in. habitants. One consequence, however, of a scheme otherwise so advantageous, was the introduction of an additional element of religious difference; for while the new colonists from England attached themselves without hesitation to the Church of Ireland, which so closely resembled their own; those who were imported from Scotland, and who were the most numerous, brought with them the principles of Calvin and Knox, and, refusing to identify themselves with a Church which recognised Prelacy and a Liturgy, proceeded to form congregations on the Presbyterian model. The first of these was established in the year 1611, at a place called Broad Island, in the county of Antrim, and was rapidly followed by others throughout the counties of Antrim and Down, and various other parts of Ulster.

42. Singularly enough, nearly the same date is to be assigned to the first regular organization of the new ecclesiastical system in connection with the See

uring the previous reign and the earlier


portion of this, hopes seem still to have been entertained that the authority in Church and State might be either cajoled or frightened into a renouncing of their errors, and a renewal of their allegiance to Rome; and hence, although bishops were occasionally nominated by the Pope to Irish sees already occupied by the original bishops or their lawful successors, they were, for the most part, only political agents; some of whom never made their appearance in Ireland at all, being supported abroad by the King of Spain and others. But after the flight of O'Neill and his associates, and the decisive measures which followed, all expectation of this sort seems to have been abandoned. Four archbishops, all of foreign consecration, were accordingly appointed to the four provinces, only two of whom, however, entered on their offices in person; the jurisdiction of the remaining two, as well as the administration of all the suffragan sees, being committed to vicars-general—an arrangement which was only gradually superseded by a complete hierarchy, deriving its authority and succession, not from the ancient Church of Ireland, but from the Bishop of Rome, and from the Churches of Italy and Spain in communion with him. At the same time, rural deans, parish priests, and all the other functionaries of a new establishment were nomi. nated; and thus that unhappy schism consummated which has, for nearly two centuries and a half, been productive of much discord and strife in the country.

43. In the year 1613 a parliament was convened— the first which (owing to the distractions of the times) had been held for twenty-seven years, and the first in which the entire island—now at length brought under the royal jurisdiction-was represented. With this parliament, at its entering on business in 1615, was likewise summoned the first Convocation of bishops and clergy, after the English model, ever convened in Ireland. The result of the experiment, however, was singularly contrary to what such similarity of procedure was doubtless expected to produce. Heretofore the Reformed Church of Ireland had adopted without demur the constitution, ceremonies, and articles of faith of her English sister, and studiously cultivated the closest conformity and communion with herk; but on this occasion she took new ground, and, apparently under the influence of Usher, (who, though still but a young man and a presbyter, already took a leading part in the affairs of the Church,) adopted a body of articles not only varying from those of the English Church, but embodying the highly Calvinistic “ Lambeth Articles,” which had been rejected at the Hampton Court Conference several years before. The adoption of these articles proved not a little injurious to the struggling Church of Ireland; for while their harsh and narrow theology tended to alienate many of the still wavering Roman Catholics, and while their identity with the teaching of Geneva gave strength and encouragement to the Scottish Dissenting interest in

i It is observable that Roman Catholics (taking the Oath of Supremacy) were freely admitted to sit in this parliament and in all subsequent ones down to the year of the Great Rebellion; Roman Catholic lawyers also practised in the courts as freely as Protestant. The penal restrictions belong to later and more unhappy times.

* Thus carrying out (though under different circumstances) the decree of the Council of Cashel in 1172, that “all things in Ireland should be regulated according to the observances of the Anglican Church.”

« НазадПродовжити »