Зображення сторінки
PDF

Dublin, Louth, Meath, and Kildare, and to the maritime cities of Cork, Waterford, and a few others of less note. The supremacy of legal right may be said to have commenced in England with the reign of Henry VII. Since then, England has never been disturbed by the presence of a foreign enemy, and even the few short insurrections which took place at different times, or the more serious conflict between Charles I. and the Parliament, scarcely interrupted the authority of law, or disturbed the rights of property. The English poor-law dates from the 43rd year of Elizabeth ; and even prior to that date, the manufacturing and commercial industry of England had been largely developed, and the protection afforded by some of her predecessors to refugees from the continent, had laid the foundation of several most important manufactures. At this period, Ireland was a prey to the horrors of civil warfare. The insurrection of the Earl of Desmond, the powerful head of the southern branch of the Geraldines, led to the confiscation of Munster. His extensive territories were granted by Elizabeth to English adventurers, in large estates or seigniories, Sir Walter Raleigh receiving upwards of 20,000 acres. Sir Walter sold his Irish property to Boyle earl of Cork, who built and fortified Bandon and other towns, which he peopled with English

settlers; but the greater part of the grantees only endeavoured to extort the most they could out of the original inhabitants, without troubling themselves for the permanent improvement of the country. The flight of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, chiefs of the great northern clans of O'Neil and O'Donnel, early in the following reign, and the insurrection and death of Sir Cahir O'Dogherty, were followed by the confiscation of six counties in Ulster. This led to a settlement of a different character. The grants were in lots of 1000, 1500, and 2000 acres, and the grantees undertook to settle or “plant” a certain number of English or Scotch Protestant tenants on each grant. This undertaking was not fully performed, yet the effect has been such as to confer on the greater part of that province a character quite distinct from the rest of Ireland. The sanguinary warfare in the reign of Charles I. and the unrelenting and cruel policy of Cromwell, made another and most important change in the condition of the country. Many of the Irish were driven beyond the Shannon, or compelled to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses of Ulster and Munster, and their lands were bestowed on Cromwell's soldiers, thus adding another body of Eng

lish settlers, and, it may be said, completing the conquest of the island. Thus deprived of their native chieftains, driven for refuge into pathless bogs and mountains, their cities and fertile plains in the power of the stranger, their country subjected to English law and English rulers, it might have been expected that the Irish people would have yielded at length to a stern necessity, and quietly submitting to their fate, have sought the advantages which an amalgamation with their conquerors must necessarily produce. But another fatal ingredient had been added to the many causes of discord previously existing, which seemed to render the chances of a complete union even more remote than before. Their creed differed from that of their conquerors. The descendants of the early Norman settlers, equally with the aboriginal Celts, refused to adopt the doctrines of the reformation, which were presented for their acceptance at the sword's point, with the disadvantageous accompaniment of a foreign priesthood, speaking a a foreign language, who sought not them, but theirs; who cared not for the flock so that they obtained the fleece. The insurrection in the time of Charles I. partook largely of the character of a religious contest. It was directed against Protestantism rather than against English sovereignty; and the bloody warfare which ensued, was carried on quite as much in the hope of re-establishing the dominion of the church of Rome in Ireland, as of freeing the country from the yoke of England. The subsequent contest appears to have been devoid of any principle of nationality, and to have been undertaken with the sole object of supporting a sovereign of their own faith on the throne of England. The issue of that contest, the defeat at the Boyne and Aughrim, the defence and capitulation of Limerick, are well known. Had the treaty of Limerick been faithfully kept ; had the Irish Roman Catholics, humbled by defeat, been treated with even-handed justice, as entitled to the protection of the laws equally with their Protestant fellow-subjects, the result of the one hundred and fifty years which have since elapsed might have been widely different. But almost the first act of the Irish legislature was to pass those in laws, of which an eminent historian has declared, that “to have exterminated the Catholics by the “sword, or expelled them like the Moriscoes of “Spain, would have been little more repugnant to “justice and humanity, but incomparably more, “politic.”

* Hallam's Const. Hist. of England, vol. ii. page 562.

There were now in Ireland three nations, the vo

aboriginal Celts, the descendants of the early Norman settlers, and the new English, who had obtained portions of the lands, confiscated on different occasions, from the time of Elizabeth to that of James II. A common adherence to the church of Rome united the two former into one body. Of these, some of the wealthier classes, yielding to the pressure of the penal code, conformed to the Protestant church, in order to preserve their estates and political rights; but the great bulk of the people remained Roman Catholics. Indeed it may well be doubted, whether any serious wish was generally felt for the conversion of the lower classes of the Irish to Protestantism. The means which had proved effectual in Great Britain were not tried here. Preachers were not employed to explain the new doctrines to the people in their own language. There was no circulation of the Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue. The clergy being English or of English descent, were unable to hold intercourse with a large portion of the people; and they felt little anxiety about increasing the number of their congregation, so long as their tithes were duly paid.” The penal laws did not much affect the |

* All the religious services of the Protestant church were originally in English. An Act of the Irish Parliament, passed in 1537, the 28th Henry VIII. required all patrons of livings to nominate none but those

« НазадПродовжити »