Page images
PDF
EPUB

vaults from one end of the minster to the other are made into tippling rooms for beer, wine, and tobacco, demised all to popish recusants, and by Next them to others, much frequented in time of divine service. for the clergy, I find few footsteps yet of foreign differences, so I hope it will be an easier task not to admit them, than to have them ejected. But I doubt much whether the clergy be very orthodox, and could wish both the articles and canons of the church of England were established here by act of Parliament or state; that as we live all under one king, so we might, both in doctrine and discipline, observe an uniformity. The inferior sort of ministers are below all degrees of contempt, in respect of their poverty and ignorance. The boundless heaping together of benefices by commendams and dispensations in the superiors, is but too apparent; yea, even often by plain usurpations and indirect compositions made between the patrons, as well ecclesiastical as lay, and the incumbents: by which the least part, many times not above forty shillings, rarely ten pounds in the year, is reserved for him that should serve at the altar; insomuch that it is affirmed, that by all or some of these means, one bishop in the remoter parts of the kingdom doth hold three and twenty benefices with cure. Generally their residence is as little as their livings. Seldom any suitor petitions for less than three vicarages at a time."

The poet Spenser, in his day, had in a smaller compass represented the condition of the Irish Protestant clergy. His words are, that, "it is a great wonder to see the odds which is between the zeal of Popish priests and the ministers of the Gospel; for they spare not to come out of Spain, from Rome, and from Rheims, by long toil and danger travelling hither, where they know peril of death awaiteth them, and no reward or riches is to be found, only to draw the people to the church of Rome; whereas some of our idle ministers having a way for credit and esteem thereby opened unto them, without pains and without peril, will neither for the same, nor any love of God, nor zeal of religion, nor for all the good they may do by winning souls to God, be drawn forth from their warm nests to look out into God's harvest which is even ready for the sickle, and all the fields yellow long ago."

But to return to the doings of Strafford and of "the Canterbury of Ireland:"-Dr. Reid, besides other authentic sources of information, has gathered from an unpublished manuscript, that these doings were in perfect keeping with the example shown by the High-Commission Court in England, against conventicles and every person or measure that was not servilely submissive to their arbitrary will. One consequence resulting from this tyranny over the conscience, was that of the Presbyterians joining with the Irish in the accusation of Strafford. This singular union of parties, who in religious matters professed and entertained the utmost abhorrence of one another, was not of long endurance, for it ended with the life of the strong-willed man that for a time had been the object of their combined dislike and vengeance. Indeed, the Catholics, certainly

without knowing the extent at first of the king's views, became willing to espouse his cause, and according to our author, Charles was guilty of giving countenance to the "Great Rebellion" in Ireland of 1641, and if so, must have been ready at any time to regard the devastation of his kingdom, and all the dreadful consequences of civil war, as minor matters and proper sacrifices to those identified with his ideas of kingly power. The manner in which the grave charge in question is stated by Dr. Reid, will be read with no ordinary interest. He says

"With the Roman catholics of the committee, deputed from the Irish parliament to represent the grievances of the nation, it is believed both Charles and his queen intrigued, with the view of detaching them from the puritans, with whom they had hitherto co-operated, and of inducing them to form a party in their native kingdom and parliament, in support of the falling cause of prerogative. In return for this seasonable assistance, ample immunities, both civil and religious, were freely promised; extending, it is alleged, even to the legal establishment of the Romish faith. The Irish deputies readily listened to the royal suggestions, and at once espoused the cause of Charles. The marquisses of Ormond and of Antrim, the most influential noblemen at this time in Ireland, had already been separately enlisted in the same cause.

"The plan on which these several partisans of the king were required to act was, to take measures for the simultaneous seizure of Dublin and the principal forts and castles throughout the kingdom, and for disarming and securing those who would not join in the project-even the lords justices themselves, in case they offered any opposition. They were then to organize the disbanded soldiery, and augment their number to twenty thousand. And having thus secured the power, and assumed the authority, of the government in the king's name, they were finally to call a parliament, which, circumstanced as the country would then be, would be necessarily devoted to the royal cause. With the resources of the entire kingdom thus placed at his disposal, Charles, with his bigoted and overbearing consort, calculated on obtaining a speedy and final triumph over the obnoxious parliament."

Our author goes on to state that the Romanists of the pale, who constituted the more liberal portion of the Catholic population, entered readily enough into the scheme; and

"On communicating it, through the officers employed in raising forces for Spain, to the Ulster Irish, of whose long-meditated project for the total subversion of the British power they appear to have been ignorant, the agents of Charles met with a still more cheerful concurrence in their views. The northern partisans, however, concealed from their new and less violent associates the plans of spoliation which they had been secretly maturing in conjunction with their expatriated relatives. But, at the same time, they hesitated not to embrace with ardour the proposed co-operation, in order to gain one step, and that the most material in their original scheme -the wresting of the kingdom out of the hands of the puritans, then predominant both in the parliament and the government.

"Up to this point, the views of both parties among the conspirators were perfectly coincident; beyond it, they were quite opposite. The primary projectors of the rebellion, such as lord Maguire, Roger Moore, Plunket, Sir Phelim O'Neil, &c., looked upon the seizure of Dublin and the reorganization of the army, merely as preliminary steps to the overthrow of the British power, the separation of the kingdom from England, the recovery of the forfeited estates, and the expulsion of the protestants :-on the accomplishment of these objects, they might then, as an independent catholic nation, support Charles against his refractory parliament. On the other hand, the king's confidential friends, such as the Earls of Ormond and Antrim, Lord Gormanstown, and perhaps the other gentry of the pale, Sir James Dillon, &c., do not appear to have contemplated, in their scheme of insurrection, any unnecessary violence to the persons or properties of the British. Their grand aim was to remove the puritan party from the government of the kingdom, and to place it and its resources at the disposal of the king. Until the rebellion broke out, however, both parties cordially co-operated, and conducted their negotiations without division or apparent distrust."

We have now got to a period when massacre, on the part both of Protestant and Catholic, crimsoned Ireland, the relative extent or criminality of which it is not for us to name. On taking up the second volume, however, which carries us through a period of unexampled vicissitude and storm in the history of the British empire, being that comprised between the rebellion of 1641, and the year 1690, when the Revolution had attained its object, and permanence attended the triumphs of the Prince of Orange, it will be satisfactory to glance at the condition of Ireland and the diversity of those parties who tore her in pieces, rendering her the victim of English distraction, during the great civil war, as at other times she has been of English domination.

To begin with the Roman Catholics-these seem to have consisted of various factions, and to have entertained distinct purposes. The rude Irish of Ulster, who had been expelled, and obliged to seek a habitation among the inhospitable parts of the country, on account of the intrusion of the Scotch colonists, were naturally revengeful and sanguinary. The Anglo-Irish, who are denominated the Lords of the Pale, were loyal, and averse to everything which was likely to disunite the interests existing between the two islands; but they strove for tolerance for the faith they professed, security for their property, and the maintenance of a just administration of the laws. There were other shades of difference among the Catholics, but they chiefly resolved themselves into the moderate views of the Anglo-Irish party, or into those of the violent and bigoted, who desired to see the Protestants exterminated, and their allegiance to Rome predominant.

On the other hand, even among the Protestants, there were distinctions. The royalists, who were akin to those who sided with

Charles in England, both in matters of church and state, desired to see that church established and predominant in Ireland. The Presbyterians, again, regarded the Covenant as the supreme authority to which they owed allegiance, and had no tolerance for the Catholics, whom utterly to destroy they deemed a service to God. A king, however, they desired to see on the throne, whom they were willing to acknowledge in temporal affairs, but not in spiritual, and therefore they were not hearty in the support of the monarch who stood forward both as head of the church and of the state. Then came the Independents, who were democrats both as regarded civil and ecclesiastical government.

Our author, of course, stands up for the respectability, the consistency, and reasonableness of the Presbyterian Protestants, but denies not that they were anxious, as in Scotland, to see the church not only independent of the state, but superior to it in power and authority. But whatever may have been the views and intentions of the several parties and classes among Catholics and Protestants, their numerous differences protracted the civil war in the country, and prevented it from assuming a definite shape, or such appearances as indicated any decided issue.

When Charles was brought to the scaffold, Dr. Reid makes it quite clear, that the Presbyterians regarded the regicide with the utmost and undisguised horror. The Presbytery of Belfast even expressed their strong indignation at the crime in a published form, which was replied to by no less a writer than the author of Paradise Lost. In spite of this testimony of their loyalty, the Bishop of Down and Connor, however, while in exile, preached before Charles the Second, at Breda, a sermon, in which he boldly charged the adherents of the Covenant with having had a share in the murder of his father. The following is the unambiguous accusation: "The Presbyterians murdered the king in his political capacity, the Independents in his naturall capacity. Thus our Soveraigne as well as our Saviour, was crucified between two theeves, but neither of them a good theefe." That our readers may obtain a more perfect idea of the fulsome flattery, and profane comparisons which this curious sermon, in which these grave allegations are to be found, contains, we shall quote one of its paragraphs. The effusion is entitled, "The Martyrdom of King Charles, or his conformity with Christ in his sufferings."

"When Christ was apprehended he wrought a miraculous cure for an enemy, healing Malcus his eare after it was cut off; so it is well known that God inabled our soveraigne when he was in prison to work many wonderfull cures even for his enemies.-When our Saviour suffered there were terrible signes and wonders; for there was darknesse over all the land, the earth did shake, the rocks clave asunder, the vaile of the temple was rent, and the graves were opened; so-it was thought very prodigious

that when he suffered the ducks forsook their pond at St. James's, and came as farre as White-hall, fluttering about the scaffold; so that our soveraigne might have said unto his murtherers, as it is in Job xii. 7. Aske the beasts and they will tell thee, and the fowles of the heaven and they will instruct thee."

""

Dr. Reid has been much indebted for the original facts laid before us respecting the period to which we have now been referring, to the M.S. memoirs of a Mr. Adair, who was a Presbyterian minister of exemplary character. From this source the following account is not less creditable to Henry Cromwell, than illustrative of the duplicity of certain lords.

"Yet a due testimony is not to be denied Henry Cromwell, though the son of the usurper Oliver; who when he perceived matters to go to confusion in England after his father's death, and the Anabaptists carry all along both in England and Ireland, he had a desire and resolution to be instrumental for bringing home the king to his just right, though upon terms by which religion and property might be secured. This he did communicate to the soberest of the officers of the army, who he thought would be most ready to concur; and particularly to the Lord President [Coote] and to the Lord Broghill. But the motion from him was crushed by those whom he looked on as his friends and the king's friends: and some of them, seeing things go as they did, resolved to take the glory of the king's restoration to themselves. Upon this Sir Arthur Forbes, a gallant gentleman, who had been a great sufferer for the king both in his blood and estate, was sent over to the king then at Breda with a tender of their service to his majesty, and intimation how far Ireland was at his disposal without any terms or conditions for religion. Yea, these two lords in Dublin growing emulous of one another, and both being afraid of the king's displeasure on his return, having been great compliers with the times before, they studied to ingratiate themselves with the king, and resolved to prevent [anticipate] one another by offering the king, though then abroad, all conditions on his return that he could require. This they thought would be acceptable to the king, the rather because it was expected that England would not receive him without conditions, somewhat equivalent to those upon which he was first received in Scotland; for the long parliament then sitting in England owned the covenant and work of reformation. But that truly worthy person, Sir John Clotworthy, being then in Dublin, a member of the convention, and finding out these designs of the lords, so wrought with them that they concurred to send one from them both to the king, with conditions for Ireland as well as for England on his restoration. And they both pitched upon Sir John to go on this negotiation. He accordingly went as far as London in his way to Holland; but Monk's actings prevented his further journey."

The stratagem by which the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland were won over to join heart and soul in behalf of William at the Revolution, was one of the simplest that we remember to have read of, where the results were so important.

« PreviousContinue »