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Title: The Land-War In Ireland (1870) - A History For The Times
Author: Godkin, James
Language: English
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It would be difficult to name any subject so much discussed during the
last half century as 'the condition of Ireland.' There was an endless
diversity of opinion; but in one thing all writers and speakers
agreed: the condition was morbid. Ireland was always sick, always
under medical treatment, always subject to enquiries as to the nature
of her maladies, and the remedies likely to effect a cure. The royal
commissions and parliamentary committees that sat upon her case were
innumerable, and their reports would fill a library. Still the nature
of the disease, or the complication of diseases, was a mystery. Sundry
'boons' were prescribed, by way of experiment; but, though recommended
as perfect cures, they did the patient no good. She was either very
low and weak, or so dangerously strong and violent that she had to be
put under restraint. Whenever this crisis arrived, she arrested the
special attention of the state doctors. Consultations were held, and
it was solemnly determined that something should be done. Another
effort should be made to discover the _fons malorum_, and dry it up if

A diseased nation, subject to paroxysms of insanity, and requiring
30,000 keepers, was a dangerous neighbour, as well as a serious
financial burden. Yet many contended that all such attempts were
useless. It was like trying different kinds of soap to whiten the skin
of a negro. The patient was incurable. Her ailment was nothing but
natural perversity, aggravated by religious delusions; and the root
of her disorder could never be known till she was subjected to a _post
mortem_ examination, for which it was hoped emigration, and the help
of improving landlords, would soon afford an opportunity. In the
meantime, the strait waistcoat must be put on, to keep the patient
from doing mischief.

But at length a great physician arose, who declared that this state of
things should not continue; the honour, if not the safety, of
England demanded that the treatment should be reversed. Mr. Gladstone
understands the case of Ireland, and he has courage to apply the
proper remedies. Yet the British public do not understand it so well;
and he will need all the force of public opinion to sustain him and
his cabinet in the work of national regeneration which they have
undertaken. It is not enough for a good physician to examine the
symptoms of his patient. He must have a full and faithful history
of the case. He must know how the disease originated, and how it
was treated. If injuries were inflicted, he must know under what
circumstances, how they affected the nervous system, and whether there
may not be surrounding influences which prevent the restoration of
health, or some nuisance that poisons the atmosphere.

Such a history of the case of Ireland the author has endeavoured
to give in the following pages. It it is no perfunctory service. He
resolved to do it years ago, when he finished his work on the Irish
Church Establishment, and it has been delayed only in consequence of
illness and other engagements. He does not boast of any extraordinary
qualifications for the work. But he claims the advantage of having
studied the subject long and earnestly, as one in which he has been
interested from his youth. He has written the history of the country
more or less fully three times. During his thirty years' connexion
with the press, it has been his duty to examine and discuss everything
that appeared before the public upon Irish questions, and it has
always been his habit to bring the light of history to bear upon the
topics of the day. Twenty years ago he was an active member of the
Irish Tenant League, which held great county meetings in most parts of
the island; and was enthusiastically supported by the tenant farmers,
adopting resolutions and petitions on the land question almost
identical with those passed by similar meetings at the present time.
Then Mr. Sharman Crawford was the only landlord who joined in the
movement; now many of the largest proprietors take their stand on the
tenant-right platform. And after a generation of sectarian division
and religious dissension in Ulster, stimulated by the landed gentry,
for political purposes, the Catholic priests and the Presbyterian
clergy have again united to advocate the demands of the people for the
legal protection of their industry and their property.

There is scarcely a county in Ireland which the author of this
volume has not traversed more than once, having always an eye to the
condition of the population, their mode of living, and the
relations of the different classes. During the past year, as special
commissioner of the _Irish Times_, he went through the greater part of
Ulster, and portions of the south, in order to ascertain the feelings
of the farmers and the working classes, on the great question which is
about to engage the attention of Parliament.

The result of his historical studies and personal enquiries is
this:--All the maladies of Ireland, which perplex statesmen and
economists, have arisen from injuries inflicted by England in the wars
which she waged to get possession of the Irish land. Ireland has been
irreconcilable, not because she was conquered by England, not
even because she was persecuted, but because she was robbed of her
inheritance. If England had done everything she has done against the
Irish nation, omitting the _confiscations_, the past would have been
forgotten and condoned long ago, and the two nations would have been
one people. Even the religious wars resolve themselves into efforts to
retain the land, or to recover the forfeited estates. And the banished
chiefs never could have rallied the nation to arms, as they so often
did against overwhelming odds, if the people had not been involved in
the ruin of their lords. All that is really important in the history
of the country for the last three centuries is, the fighting of the
two nations for the possession of the soil. The Reformation was
in reality nothing but a special form of the land war. The oath of
supremacy was simply a lever for evicting the owners of the land. The
process was simple. The king demanded spiritual allegiance; refusal
was high treason; the punishment of high treason was forfeiture of
estates, with death or banishment to the recusants. Any other law they
might have obeyed, and retained their inheritance. This law fixed
its iron grapples in the conscience, and made obedience impossible,
without a degree of baseness that rendered life intolerable.
Hence Protestantism was detested, not so much as a religion, as an
instrument of spoliation.

The agrarian wars were kept up from generation to generation, Ireland
always making desperate efforts to get back her inheritance, but
always crushed to the earth, a victim of famine and the sword, by the
power of England.

The history of these wars, then, is the history of the case of the
Irish patient. Its main facts are embodied in the general history of
the country. But they have recently been brought out more distinctly
by authors who have devoted years to the examination of the original
state papers, in which the actors themselves described their exploits
and recorded their motives and feelings with startling frankness. When
a task of this kind has been performed by a capable and conscientious
historian, it would be a work of supererogation for another enquirer
to undergo the wearisome toil, even if he could. I have, therefore,
for the purpose of my argument, freely availed myself of the materials
given to the public by Mr. Froude, the Rev. C.P. Meehan, and Mr.
Prendergast, not, however, without asking their permission, which was
in each case most readily and kindly granted.

The ancient state of Ireland, and especially of Ulster, is so little
known in England, that I was glad to have the facts vouched for by
so high an authority as Mr. Froude, and a writer so full of the
instinctive pride of the dominant nation; the more so as I have often
been obliged to dissent from his views, and to appeal against his
judgments. Beguiled by the beauty of his descriptions, I am afraid I
have drawn too largely on his pages, in proving and illustrating
my case; but I feel confident that no one will read these extracts
without more eagerly desiring to possess the volumes of his great work
from which they are taken.

I have similar acknowledgments to make to Father Meehan and Mr.
Prendergast, both of whom are preparing new editions of their most
valuable works. The royal charters, and other documents connected
with the Plantation of Ulster, are printed in the 'Concise View of the
Irish Society,' compiled from their records, and published by their
authority in 1832. Whenever I have been indebted to other writers,
I have acknowledged my obligation in the course of the work. In
preparing it, I have had but one object constantly in view: to present
to the public a careful collection and an impartial statement of facts
on the state of Ireland, for the right government of which the British
people are now more than ever responsible. I shall be thankful if my
labours should contribute in any measure, however humble, to the new
conquest of Ireland 'by justice' of which Mr. Bright has spoken.
His language is suggestive. It is late (happily not 'too late') to
commence the reign of justice. But the nation is not to be despised
which requires nothing more than _that_ to win its heart, while its
spirit could not be conquered by centuries of injustice. Nor should it
be forgotten by the people of England that some atonement is due for
past wrongs, not the least of which is the vilification and distrust
from which the Irish people have suffered so much. 'The spirit of a
man may sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?'
Some manifestation of Christian magnanimity just now would greatly
help the work of national reconciliation. The time is favourable. The
Government enjoys the prestige of an unparalleled success. The only
Prime Minister that ever dared to do full justice to Ireland, is the
most powerful that England has had for nearly a century. He has in
his Cabinet the only Chief Secretary of Ireland that ever thoroughly
sympathised with the nation, not excepting Lord Morpeth; the great
tribune of the English people, who has been one of the most eloquent
advocates of Ireland; an Ex-Viceroy who has pronounced it felony
for the Irish landlords to avail themselves of their legal rights,
although he put down a rebellion which that felony mainly provoked;
another Ex-Governor, who was one of the most earnest and conscientious
that ever filled the viceregal throne, and who returned to Parliament
to be one of the ablest champions of the country he had ruled so well;
not to mention other members of commanding ability, who are solemnly
pledged to the policy of justice. In these facts there is great
promise. He understands little of 'the signs of the times,' who does
not see the dangers that hang on the non-fulfilment of this promise.


LONDON: _January 20_, 1870.






































As the hour approaches when the legislature must deal with the Irish
Land question, and settle it, like the Irish Church question, once
for all, attempts are redoubled to frighten the public with
the difficulties of the task. The alarmists conjure up gigantic
apparitions more formidable than those which encountered Bunyan's
Pilgrim. Monstrous figures frown along the gloomy avenue that, leads
up to the Egyptian temple in which the divinity, PROPERTY, dwells in
mysterious darkness. To enter the sanctuary, we are solemnly
assured, requires all the cardinal virtues in their highest state of
development--the firmest faith, the most vivid hope, and the charity
that never faileth. But this is not the only country that has had a
land question to settle. Almost every nation in Europe has done for
itself what England is now palled upon to do for Ireland. In fact,
it is a necessary process in the transition from feudalism to
constitutional self-government. Feudalism gave the land to a few whom
it made princes and lords, having forcibly taken it from the many,
whom it made subjects and serfs. The land is the natural basis of
society. The Normans made it the artificial basis of a class. Society
in nearly every other country has reverted back to its original
foundations, and so remains firm and strong without dangerous rents or
fissures. No doubt, the operation is difficult and critical. But what
has been done once may be done again; and as it was England that kept
Irish society so long rocking on its smaller end, it is her duty
now to lend all her strength to help to seat it on its own broad
foundations. Giving up the Viceroy's dreams that the glorious mission
of Ireland was to be a kitchen garden, a dairy, a larder for England,
we must come frankly to the conclusion that the national life of the
Irish people, without distinction of creed or party, increases
in vigour with their intelligence, and is now invincible. Let the
imperial legislature put an end for ever to such an unnatural state of
things--thus only can they secure the harmonious working and cordial
Union of the two nations united together in one State--thus only can
they insure for the landlords themselves all the power and all
the influence that can be retained by them in consistency with the
industrial rights and political freedom of the cultivators of the
soil. These now complain of their abject dependence, and hopeless
bondage, under grinding injustice. They are alleged to be full of
discontent, which must grow with the intelligence and manhood of the
people who writhe under the system. Their advocates affirm that their
discontent must increase in volume and angry force every year, and
that, owing to the connection of Ireland with the United States,
it may at any time be suddenly swollen with the fury of a mountain
torrent, deeply discoloured by a Republican element.

It must be granted, I fear, that the Celts of Ireland feel pretty much
as the Britons felt under the ascendency of the Saxons, and as the
Saxons in their turn felt under the ascendency of the Normans. In
the estimation of the Christian Britons, their Saxon conquerors,
even after the conversion of the latter, were 'an accursed race, the
children of robbers and murderers, possessing the fruits of their
fathers' crimes.' 'With them,' says Dr. Lingard, 'the Saxon was no
better than a pagan bearing the name of a Christian. They refused to
return his salutation, to join in prayer with him in the church, to
sit with him at the same table, to abide with him under the same roof.
The remnant of his meals and the food over which he had made the sign
of the cross they threw to their dogs or swine; the cup out of
which he had drunk they scoured with sand, as if it had contracted
defilement from his lips.'

It is not the Celtic memory only that is tenacious of national wrong.
The Saxon was doomed to drink to the dregs the same bitter cup which
he administered so unmercifully to the Briton. His Teutonic blood
saved him from no humiliation or insult. The Normans seized all the
lands, all the castles, all the pleasant mansions, all the churches
and monasteries. Even the Saxon saints were flung down out of their
shrines and trampled in the dust under the iron heel of the Christian
conqueror. Everything Saxon was vile, and the word 'Englishry' implied
as much contempt and scorn as the word 'Irishry' in a later age. In
fact, the subjugated Saxons gradually became infected with all the
vices and addicted to all the social disorders that prevailed among
the Irish in the same age; only in Ireland the anarchy endured much
longer from the incompleteness of the conquest and the absence of the
seat of supreme government, which kept the races longer separate and
antagonistic. Perhaps the most humiliating notice of the degrading
effects of conquest on the noble Saxon race to be found in history,
is the language in which Giraldus Cambrensis, the reviler of the Irish
Celt, contrasts them with his countrymen, the Welsh. 'Who dare,'
he says, 'compare the English, the most degraded of all races under
heaven, with the Welsh? In their own country they are the serfs,
the veriest slaves of the Normans. In ours whom else have we for our
herdsmen, shepherds, cobblers, skinners, cleaners of our dog kennels,
ay, even of our privies, but Englishmen? Not to mention their original
treachery to the Britons, that hired by them to defend them they
turned upon them in spite of their oaths and engagements, they are
to this day given to treachery and murder.' The lying Saxon was,
according to this authority, a proverbial expression.

The Saxon writers lamented their miserable subjection in a monotonous
wail for many generations. So late as the seventeenth century an
English author speaks in terms of compassion of the disinherited
and despoiled families who had sunk into the condition of artisans,
peasants, and paupers. 'This,' says M. Thierry, 'is the last sorrowful
glance cast back through the mist of ages on that great event which
established in England a race of kings, nobles, and warriors of
foreign extraction. The reader must figure to himself, not a mere
change of political rule, not the triumph of one of two competitors,
but the intrusion of a nation into the bosom of another people which
it came to destroy, and the scattered fragments of which it retained
as an integral portion of the new system of society, in the _status_
merely of personal property, or, to use the stronger language of
records and deeds, _a clothing of the soil_. He must not picture to
himself on the one hand the king and despot; on the other simply his
subjects, high and low, rich and poor, all inhabiting England, and
consequently all English. He must bear in mind that there were two
distinct nations--the old Anglo-Saxon race and the Norman invaders,
dwelling intermingled on the same soil; or, rather, he might
contemplate two countries--the one possessed by the Normans, wealthy
and exonerated from public burdens, the other enslaved and oppressed
with a land tax--the former full of spacious mansions, of walled
towns, and moated castles--the latter occupied with thatched cabins,
and ancient walls in a state of dilapidation. This peopled with
the happy and the idle, with soldiers, courtiers, knights, and
nobles--that with miserable men condemned to labour as peasants and
artisans. On the one side he beholds luxury and insolence, on the
other poverty and envy--not the envy of the poor at the sight of
opulence and men born to opulence, but that malignant envy, although
justice be on its side, which the despoiled cannot but entertain on
looking upon the spoilers. Lastly, to complete the picture, these two
countries are in some sort interwoven with each other--they meet
at every point, and yet they are more distinct, more completely
separated, than if the ocean rolled between them.'

Does not this picture look very like Ireland? To make it more like,
let us imagine that the Norman king had lived in Paris, and kept a
viceroy in London--that the English parliament were subordinate to the
French parliament, composed exclusively of Normans, and governed by
Norman undertakers for the benefit of the dominant State--that the
whole of the English land was held by ten thousand Norman proprietors,
many of them absentees--that all the offices of the government, in
every department, were in the hands of Normans--that, differing in
religion with the English nation, the French, being only a tenth of
the population, had got possession of all the national churches and
church property, while the poor natives supported a numerous hierarchy
by voluntary contributions--that the Anglo-Norman parliament was
bribed and coerced to abolish itself, forming a union of England with
France, in which the English members were as one to six. Imagine that
in consequence of rebellions the land of England had been confiscated
three or four times, after desolating wars and famines, so that all
the native proprietors were expelled, and the land was parcelled
out to French soldiers and adventurers on condition that the foreign
'planters' should assist in keeping down 'the mere English' by force
of arms. Imagine that the English, being crushed by a cruel penal
code for a century, were allowed to reoccupy the soil as mere
tenants-at-will, under the absolute power of their French landlords.
If all this be imagined by English legislators and English writers,
they will be better able to understand the Irish land question, and to
comprehend the nature of 'Irish difficulties,' as well as the justice
of feeble, insincere, and baffled statesmen in casting the blame
of Irish misery and disorder on the unruly and barbarous nature of
Irishmen. They will recollect that the aristocracy of Ireland are the
high-spirited descendants of conquerors, with the instinct of conquest
still in their blood. The parliament which enacted the Irish land laws
was a parliament composed almost exclusively of men of this dominant
race. They made all political power dependent on the ownership of
land, thus creating for themselves a monopoly which it is not in human
nature to surrender without a struggle.

The possession of this monopoly, however, fully accounts for two
things--the difficulty which the landlords feel in admitting the
justice of the tenant's claims for the legal recognition of the value
which his labour has added to the soil, and the extreme repugnance
with which they regard any legislation on the subject. Besides,
the want of sympathy with the people, of earnestness and courage in
meeting the realities of the case, is conspicuous in all attempts
of the kind during the last half-century. Those attempts have been
evasive, feeble, abortive--concessions to the demand that _something_
must be done, but so managed that nothing should be done to weaken the
power of the eight thousand proprietors over the mass of the nation
dependent on the land for their existence. Hence has arisen a great
amount of jealousy, distrust, and irritability in the landlord class
towards the tenantry and their advocates.

The Irish race, to adopt Thierry's language, are full of 'malignant
envy' towards the lords of the soil; not because they are rich, but
because they have the people so completely in their power, so entirely
at their mercy for all that man holds most dear. The tenants feel
bitterly when they think that they have no legal right to live on
their native land. They have read the history of our dreadful civil
wars, famines, and confiscations. They know that by the old law of
Ireland, and by custom from times far beyond the reach of authentic
history, the clans and tribes of the Celtic people occupied certain
districts with which their names are still associated, and that the
land was inalienably theirs. Rent or tribute they paid, indeed, to
their princes, and if they failed the chiefs came with armed followers
and helped themselves, driving away cows, sheep, and horses sufficient
to meet their demand, or more if they were unscrupulous, which was
'distress' with a vengeance. But the eviction of the people even for
non-payment of rent, and putting other people in their place, were
things never heard of among the Irish under their own rulers. The
chief had his own mensal lands, as well as his tribute, and these he
might forfeit. But as the clansmen could not control his acts, they
could never see the justice of being punished for his misdeeds by
the confiscation of their lands, and driven from the homes of their
ancestors often made doubly sacred by religious associations.

History, moreover, teaches them that, as a matter of fact, the
government in the reign of James I.--and James himself in repeated
proclamations--assured the people who occupied the lands of O'Neill
and O'Donnell at the time of their flight that they would be protected
in all their rights if they remained quiet and loyal, which they
did. Yet they were nearly all removed to make way for the English and
Scotch settlers.

Thus, historical investigators have been digging around the
foundations of Irish landlordism. They declare that those foundations
were cemented with blood, and they point to the many wounds still open
from which that blood issued so profusely. The facts of the conquest
and confiscation were hinted at by the Devon Commissioners as
accounting for the peculiar difficulties of the Irish land question,
and writers on it timidly allude to 'the historic past' as originating
influences still powerful in alienating landlords and tenants, and
fostering mutual distrust between them. But the time for evasion and
timidity has passed. We must now honestly and courageously face
the stern realities of this case. Among these realities is a firm
conviction in the minds of many landlords that they are in no sense
trustees for the community, but that they have an absolute power over
their estates--that they can, if they like, strip the land clean of
its human clothing, and clothe it with sheep or cattle instead, or lay
it bare and desolate, let it lapse into a wilderness, or sow it with
salt. That is in reality the terrific power secured to them by the
present land code, to be executed through the Queen's writ and by the
Queen's troops--a power which could not stand a day if England did not
sustain it by overwhelming military force.

Another of the realities of the question is the no less inveterate
conviction in the tenants' mind that the absolute power of the
landlord was originally a usurpation effected by the sword. Right or
wrong, they believe that the confiscations were the palpable violation
of the natural rights of the people whom Providence placed in this
country. With bitter emphasis they assert that no set of men has any
divine right to root a nation out of its own land. Painful as this
state of feeling is, there is no use in denying that it exists. Here,
then, is the deep radical difference that is to be removed. Here are
the two conflicting forces which are to be reconciled. This is the
real Irish land question. All other points are minor and of easy
adjustment. The people say, and, I believe, sincerely, that they are
willing to pay a fair rent, according to a public valuation--not a
rent imposed arbitrarily by one of the interested parties, which
might be raised so as to ruin the occupier. The feelings of these two
parties often clash so violently, there is such instinctive distrust
between them, the peace and prosperity of the country depend so much
on their coming to terms and putting an end to their long-standing
feud, that it is still more imperatively necessary than in the
Church question, that a third party, independent, impartial, and
authoritative, should intervene and heal the breach.

There was one phrase constantly ringing in the ears of the Devon
Commissioners, and now, after nearly a generation has passed away, it
is ringing in the ears of the nation louder than ever--'_the want
of tenure_.' All the evidence went to show that the want of security
paralysed industry and impeded social progress. It seems strange that
any evidence should be thought necesary to prove that a man will not
sow if he does not hope to reap, and that he will not build houses for
strangers to enjoy. This would be taken as an axiom anywhere out of
Ireland. Of all the people in Europe, the Irish have suffered most
from the oppression of those who, from age to age, had power in the
country. Whoever fought or conquered, they were always the victims;
and it is a singular fact that their sufferings are scarcely ever
noticed by the contemporary annalists, even when those annalists
were ecclesiastics. The extent to which they were slaughtered in the
perpetual wars between the native chiefs, and in the wars between
those chiefs and the English, is something awful to contemplate, not
to speak of the wholesale destruction of life by the famines which
those wars entailed. On several occasions the Celtic race seemed very
nearly extinct. The penal code, with all its malign influence, had one
good effect. It subdued to a great extent the fighting propensities
of the people, and fused the clans into one nation, purified by
suffering. Since that time, in spite of occasional visitations of
calamity, they have been steadily rising in the social scale, and they
are now better off than ever they were in their whole history. When
we review the stages by which they have risen, we cannot but feel at
times grieved and indignant at the opportunities for tranquillising
and enriching the country which were lost through the ignorance,
apathy, bigotry, and selfishness of the legislature. There was no end
of commissions and select committees to inquire into the condition
of the agricultural population, whenever Parliament was roused by the
prevalence of agrarian outrages. They reported, and there the matter
ended. There were always insuperable difficulties when the natives
were to be put in a better position. Between 1810 and 1814, for
example, a commission reported four times on the condition of
the Irish bogs. They expressed their entire conviction of the
practicability of cultivating with profit an immense extent of land
lying waste. In 1819, in 1823, in 1826, and in 1830, select committees
inquired into and reported on drainage, reclamation of bogs and
marshes, on roads, fisheries, emigration, and other schemes for giving
employment to the redundant population that had been encouraged to
increase and multiply in the most reckless manner, while 'war
prices' were obtained for agricultural produce, and the votes of the
forty-shilling freeholders were wanted by the landlords. When, by the
Emancipation Act in 1829, the forty-shilling franchise was abolished,
the peasant lost his political value. After the war, when the price of
corn fell very low, and, consequently, tillage gave place to grazing,
labourers became to the middleman an encumbrance and a nuisance that
must be cleared off the land, just as weeds are plucked up and flung
out to wither on the highway. Then came Lord Devon's Land Commission,
which inquired on the eve of the potato failure and the great famine.
The Irish population was now at its highest figure--between eight and
nine millions. Yet, though there had been three bad seasons, it was
clearly proved at that time that by measures which a wise and willing
legislature would have promptly passed, the whole surplus population
could have been profitably employed.

In this great land controversy, on which side lies the truth? Is it
the fault of the people, or the fault of the law, that the country is
but half cultivated, while the best of the peasantry are emigrating
with hostile feelings and purposes of vengeance towards England? As
to the landlords, as a class, they use their powers with as much
moderation and mercy as any other class of men in any country ever
used power so vast and so little restrained. The best and most
indulgent landlords, the most genial and generous, are unquestionably
the old nobility, the descendants of the Normans and Saxons, those
very conquerors of whom we have heard so much. The worst, the most
harsh and exacting, are those who have purchased under the Landed
Estates Court--strangers to the people, who think only of the
percentage on their capital. We had heard much of the necessity of
capital to develope the resources of the land. The capital came,
but the development consists in turning tillage lands into pasture,
clearing out the labouring population and sending them to the
poorhouse, or shipping them off at a few pounds per head to keep down
the rates. And yet is it not possible to set all our peasantry to work
at the profitable cultivation of their native land? Is it not possible
to establish by law what many landlords act upon as the rule of their
estates--namely, the principle that no man is to be evicted so long as
he pays a fair rent, and the other principle, that whenever he fails,
he is entitled to the market value by public sale of all the property
in his holding beyond that fair rent? The hereditary principle,
rightly cherished among the landlords, so conservative in its
influence, ought to be equally encouraged among the tenants. The man
of industry, as well as the man of rank, should be able to feel that
he is providing for his children, that his farm is at once a bank and
an insurance office, in which all his minute daily deposits of toil
and care and skill will be safe and productive. This is the way to
enrich and strengthen the State, and to multiply guarantees against
revolution--not by consolidation of farms and the abandonment of
tillage, not by degrading small holders into day labourers, levelling
the cottages and filling the workhouses.

If the legislature were guided by the spirit that animates Lord Erne
in his dealings with his tenantry, the land question would soon
be settled to the satisfaction of all parties. 'I think,' said his
lordship, 'as far as possible, every tenant on my estate may call his
farm his castle, as long as he conducts himself honestly, quietly, and
industriously; and, should he wish to leave in order to find a better
landlord, I allow him to sell his farm, provided he pleases me in a
tenant. Therefore, if a man lays out money on his farm judiciously, he
is certain to receive back the money, should he wish to go elsewhere.'
He mentioned three cases of sale which occurred last year. One tenant
sold a farm of seventy acres in bad order for 570 l., another thirty
acres for 300 l., and a third the same number of acres in worse
condition for 200 l. The landlord lost nothing by these changes. His
rent was paid up, and in each case he got a good tenant for a bad one.
Lord Erne is a just man, and puts on no more than a fair rent. But
all landlords are not just, as all tenants are not honest. Even where
tenant-right is admitted in name, it is obvious that the rent may be
raised so high as to make the farm worth nothing in the market. To
give to the tenant throughout the country generally the pleasant
feeling that his farm is his castle, which he can make worth more
money every day he rises, there must be a public letting valuation,
and this the State could easily provide. And then there should be the
right of sale to the highest solvent bidder.

This might be one way of securing permanent tenure, or stimulating the
industry and sustaining the thrift of the farmer. But the nature
of the different tenures, and the effect of each in bracing up or
relaxing the nerves of industry, will be the object of deliberation
with the Government and the legislature. It is said that, in the hands
of small farmers, proprietorship leads to endless subdivision; that
long leases generally cause bad husbandry; that tenants-at-will often
feel themselves more secure and safe than a contract could make them;
that families have lived on the same farm for generations without a
scrape of a pen except the receipt for rent. On the other hand, there
is the general cry of 'want of tenure;' there is the custom of serving
notices to quit, sometimes for other reasons than non-payment of rent;
there are occasional barbarities in the levelling of villages, and
dragging the aged and the sick from the old roof-tree, the parting
from which rends their heart-strings; and, above all, there is the
feeling among the peasantry which makes them look without horror on
the murder of a landlord or an agent who was a kind and benevolent
neighbour; and, lastly, the paramount consideration for the
legislature, that a large portion of the people are disaffected to
the State, and ready to join its enemies, and this almost solely on
account of the state of the law relating to land. Hence the necessity
of settling the question as speedily as possible, and the duty of all
who have the means to contribute something towards that most desirable
consummation, which seems to be all that is wanted to make Irishmen of
every class work together earnestly for the welfare of their country.
It is admitted that no class of men in the world has improved more
than the Irish landlords during the last twenty years. Let the
legislature restore confidence between them and the people by taking
away all ground for the suspicion that they wish to extirpate the
Celtic race.

Nor was this suspicion without cause, as the following history will
too clearly prove. A very able English writer has said: 'The policy
of all the successive swarms of settlers was to extirpate the native
Celtic race, but every effort made to break up the old framework
of society failed, for the new-comers soon became blended with and
undistinguishable from the mass of the people--being obliged to ally
themselves with the native chieftains, rather than live hemmed in by a
fiery ring of angry septs and exposed to perpetual war with everything
around them. Merged in the great Celtic mass, they adopted Irish
manners and names, yet proscribed and insulted the native inhabitants
as an inferior race. Everything liberal towards them is intercepted in
its progress.

'The past history of Ulster is but a portion of Scottish history
inserted into that of Ireland--a stone in the Irish mosaic of an
entirely different quality and colour from the pieces that surround

'Thus it came to pass that, through the confiscation of their lands
and the proscription of their religion, popery was worked by a most
vehement process into the blood and brain of the Irish nation.'

It has been often said that the Irish must be an inferior race, since
they allowed themselves to be subjugated by some thousands of English
invaders. But it should be recollected, first, that the conquest,
commenced by Henry II. in the twelfth century, was not completed till
the seventeenth century, when the King's writ ran for the first time
through the province of Ulster, the ancient kingdom of the O'Neills;
in the second place, the weakness of the Celtic communities was not so
much the fault of the men as of their institutions, brought with them
from the East and clung to with wonderful tenacity. So long as they
had boundless territory for their flocks and herds, and could always
move on 'to pastures new,' they increased and multiplied, and allowed
the sword and the battle-axe to rest, unless when a newly elected
chief found it necessary to give his followers 'a hosting'--which
means an expedition for plunder. Down to the seventeenth century,
after five hundred years' contact with the Teutonic race, they were
essentially the same people as they were when the ancient Greeks
and Romans knew them. They are thus described by Dr. Mommsen in his
'History of Rome:'--'Such qualities--those of good soldiers and of bad
citizens--explain the historical fact that the Celts have shaken all
States and have _founded none_. Everywhere we find them ready to rove,
or, in other words, to march, preferring movable property to landed
estate, and gold to everything else; following the profession of arms
as a system of organised pillage, or even as a trade for hire, and
with such success that even the Roman historian, Sallust, acknowledges
that the Celts bore off the prize from the Romans in feats of arms.
They were the true 'soldiers of fortune' of antiquity, as pictures and
descriptions represent them, with big but sinewy bodies, with shaggy
hair and long moustaches--quite a contrast to the Greeks and Romans,
who shaved the upper lip--in the variegated embroidered dresses which
in combat were not unfrequently thrown off, with a broad gold ring
round their neck, wearing no helmets and without missile weapons
of any sort, but furnished instead with an immense shield, a long
ill-tempered sword, a dagger and a lance, all ornamented with gold,
for they were not unskilful in working in metals. Everything was made
subservient to ostentation--even wounds, which were often enlarged for
the purpose of boasting a broader scar. Usually they fought on foot,
but certain tribes on horseback, in which case every free man was
followed by two attendants, likewise mounted. War-chariots were early
in use, as they were among the Libyans and Hellenes in the earliest
times. Many a trait reminds us of the chivalry of the middle ages,
particularly the custom of single combat, which was foreign to the
Greeks and Romans. Not only were they accustomed in war to challenge
a single enemy to fight, after having previously insulted him by words
and gestures; in peace also they fought with each other in splendid
equipments, as for life or death. After such feats carousals followed
in due course. In this way they led, whether under their own or
a foreign banner, a restless soldier life, constantly occupied in
fighting and in their so-called feats of heroism. They were dispersed
from _Ireland_ and Spain to Asia Minor, but all their enterprises
melted away like snow in spring, and they nowhere created a great
state or developed a distinctive culture of their own.' Such were
the people who once almost terminated the existence of Rome, and were
afterwards with difficulty repulsed from Greece, who became masters of
the most fertile part of Italy and of a fair province in the heart
of Asia Minor, who, after their Italian province had been subdued,
inflicted disastrous blows on successive Roman generals, and were only
at last subjugated by Cæsar himself in nine critical and sometimes
most dangerous campaigns, B.C. 51.

Niebuhr observes that at that time the form of government was
everywhere an hereditary monarchy, which, when Cæsar went into Gaul,
had been swallowed up, as had the authority of the Senate, in the
anarchy of the nobles. Their freedom was lawlessness; an inherent
incapacity of living under the dominion of laws distinguishes them as
barbarians from the Greeks and Italians. As individuals had to procure
the protection of some magnate in order to live in safety, so the
weaker tribes took shelter under the patronage of a more powerful one.
For they were a disjointed multitude; and when any people had in
this manner acquired an extensive sovereignty, they exercised it
arbitrarily until its abuses became intolerable, or their subjects
were urged by blind hatred of their power to fall off from them, and
gather round some new centre. The sole bond of union was the Druidical
hierarchy which, at least in Cæsar's time, was common to both nations.
Both of them paid obedience to its tribunal, which administered
justice once a year--an institution which probably was not introduced
till long after the age of migrations, when the expulsion of the
vanquished had ceased to be regarded as the end of war, and which must
have been fostered by the constant growth of lawlessness in particular
states--being upheld by the _ban_, which excluded the contumacious
from all intercourse in divine worship and in daily life with the
faithful. The huge bodies, wild features, and long shaggy hair of the
men, gave a ghastliness to their aspect. This, along with their fierce
courage, their countless numbers, and the noise made by an enormous
multitude of horns and trumpets, struck the armies arrayed against
them with fear and amazement. If these, however, did not allow
their terror to overpower them, the want of order, discipline, and
perseverance would often enable an inferior number to vanquish a vast
host of the barbarians. Besides, they were but ill equipped. Few of
them wore any armour; their narrow shields, which were of the same
height with their bodies, were weak and clumsy; they rushed upon their
enemies with broad thin battle-swords of bad steel, which the first
blow upon iron often notched and rendered useless. Like true savages,
they destroyed the inhabitants, the towns, and the agriculture of the
countries they conquered. They cut off the heads of the slain,
and tied them by the hair to the manes of their horses. If a skull
belonged to a person of rank, they nailed it up in their houses and
preserved it as an heirloom for their posterity, as the nobles in rude
ages do stag-horns. Towns were rare amongst them; the houses and
the villages, which were very numerous, were mean, the furniture
wretched--a heap of straw covered with skins served both for a bed
and a seat. They did not cultivate corn save for a very limited
consumption, for the main part of their food was the milk and the
flesh of their cattle. These formed their wealth. Gold, too, they
had in abundance, derived partly from the sandy beds of their rivers,
partly from some mines which these had led them to discover. It was
worn in ornaments by every Gaul of rank. In battle he bore gold chains
on his arms and heavy gold collars round his neck, even when the upper
part of his body was in other respects quite naked. For they often
threw off their parti-coloured chequered cloaks, which shone with
all the hues of the rainbow, like the picturesque dress of their
kinspeople the Highlanders, who have laid aside the trousers of the
ancient Gauls. Their duels and gross revels are an image of the rudest
part of the middle ages. Their debauches were mostly committed with
beer and mead; for vines and all the plants of southern regions were
as yet total strangers to the north of the Alps, where the climate in
those ages was extremely severe; so that wine was rare, though of all
the commodities imported it was the most greedily bought up.

Ulster was known in ancient times as one of the five Irish 'kingdoms,'
and remained unconquered by the English till the reign of James I.,
when the last prince of the great house of O'Neill, then Earl of
Tyrone, fled to the Continent in company with O'Donel, Earl of
Tyrconnel, head of another very ancient sept. Up to that period the
men of Ulster proudly regarded themselves as 'Irish of the Irish and
Catholic of the Catholics.' The inhabitants were of mixed blood, but,
as in the other provinces of the island, the great mass of the people,
as well as the ruling classes, were of Celtic origin. Those whom
ethnologists still recognise as aborigines, in parts of Connaught
and in some mountainous regions, an inferior race, are said to be
the descendants of the Firbolgs, or Belgae, who formed the third
immigration. They were followed and subdued by the Tuatha de
Danans--men famed for their gigantic power and supernatural skill--a
race of demigods, who still live in the national superstitions. The
last of the ancient invasions was by the Gael or Celt, known as the
Milesians and Scoti. The institutions and customs of this people were
established over the whole island, and were so deeply rooted in the
soil that their remnants to this day present the greatest obstacles
to the settlement of the land question according to the English model,
and on the principles of political economy, which run directly counter
to Irish instincts. It is truly wonderful how distinctly the present
descendants of this race preserve the leading features of their
primitive character. In France and England the Celtic character was
moulded by the power and discipline of the Roman Empire. To Ireland
this modifying influence never extended; and we find the Ulster chiefs
who fought for their territories with English viceroys 280 years ago
very little different from the men who followed Brennus to the sack
of Home, and encountered the legions of Julius Cæsar on the plains of

Mr. Prendergast observes, in the introduction to his 'Cromwellian
Settlement' that when the companions of Strongbow landed in the reign
of Henry II. they found a country such as Cæsar had found in Gaul
1200 years before. A thousand years had passed over the island without
producing the slightest social progress--'the inhabitants divided
into tribes on the system of the clansmen and chiefs, without a common
Government, suddenly confederating, suddenly dissolving, with Brehons,
Shaunahs, minstrels, bards, and harpers, in all unchanged, except that
for their ancient Druids they had got Christian priests. Had the
Irish remained honest pagans, Ireland perhaps had remained unconquered
still. Round the coast strangers had built seaport towns, either
traders from the Carthaginian settlements in Spain, or outcasts from
their own country, like the Greeks that built Marseilles. At the time
of the arrival of the French and Flemish adventurers from Wales, they
were occupied by a mixed Danish and French population, who supplied
the Irish with groceries, including the wines of Poitou, the latter in
such abundance that they had no need of vineyards.'

If vineyards had been needed, we may be sure they would not have been
planted, for the Irish Celts planted nothing. Neither did they build,
except in the simplest and rudest way, improving their architecture
from age to age no more than the beaver or the bee. Mr. Prendergast
is an able, honest, and frank writer; yet there is something amusingly
Celtic in the flourish with which he excuses the style of palaces in
which the Irish princes delighted to dwell. 'Unlike England,' he says,
'then covered with castles on the heights, where the French gentlemen
secured themselves and their families against the hatred of the churls
and villains, as the English peasantry were called, the dwellings
of the Irish chiefs were of wattles or clay. It is for robbers and
foreigners to take to rocks and precipices for security; for native
rulers, there is no such fortress _as justice and humanity_.' This
is very fine, but surely Mr. Prendergast cannot mean that the Irish
chiefs were distinguished by their justice and humanity. The following
touch is still grander:--'The Irish, like the wealthiest and highest
of the present day, loved detached houses surrounded by fields and
woods. Towns and their walls they looked upon as tombs or sepulchres,
&c.' As to fields, there were none, because the Irish never made
fences, their patches of cultivated land being divided by narrow
strips of green sod. Besides, they lived in villages, which were
certainly surrounded by woods, because the woods were everywhere,
and they furnished the inhabitants with fuel and shelter, as well as
materials for building their huts.

But further on this able author expresses himself much more in
accordance with the truth of history, when he states that the 'Irish
enemy' was no _nation_ in the modern sense of the word, but a race
divided into many nations or tribes, _separately_ defending their
lands from the English barons in the immediate neighbourhood.
There had been no ancient national government displaced, no dynasty
overthrown; the Irish had _no national flag_, nor any capital city as
the metropolis of their common country, nor any common administration
of law.' He might have added that they had no _mint_. There never was
an Irish king who had his face stamped on a coin of his realm. Some
stray pieces of money found their way into the country from abroad,
but up to the close of the sixteenth century the rudest form of barter
prevailed in Ulster, and accounts were paid not in coins but in cows.
Even the mechanical arts which had flourished in the country before
the arrival of the Celts had gradually perished, and had disappeared
at the time of the English invasion. Any handy men could build a house
of mud and wattles. Masons, carpenters, smiths, painters, glaziers,
&c., were not wanted by a people who despised stone buildings as
prisons, and abhorred walled towns as sepulchres. Spinning and weaving
were arts cultivated by the women, each household providing materials
for clothing, which was little used in warm weather, and thrown off
when fighting or any other serious work was to be done.

I should be sorry to disparage the Celtic race, or any other race, by
exaggerating their bad qualities or suppressing any reliable testimony
to their merits. But with me the truth of history is sacred. Both
sides of every case should be fairly stated. Nothing can be gained by
striving to hide facts which may be known to every person who takes
the trouble to study the subject. I write in the interest of the
people--of the toiling masses; and I find that they were oppressed and
degraded by the ruling classes long before the Norman invader took
the place of the Celtic chief. And it is a curious fact that when the
Cromwellians turned the Catholic population out of their homes and
drove them into Connaught, they were but following the example set
them by the Milesian lords of the soil centuries before.

The late Mr. Darcy Magee, a real lover of his country, in his Irish
history points out this fact. The Normans found the population divided
into two great classes--the free tribes, chiefly if not exclusively
Celtic, and the unfree tribes, consisting of the descendants of the
subjugated races, or of clans once free, reduced to servitude by the
sword, and the offspring of foreign mercenary soldiers. 'The unfree
tribes,' says Mr. Darcy Magee, 'have left no history. Under the
despotism of the Milesian kings, it was high treason to record the
actions of the conquered race, so that the Irish Belgae fared as badly
in this respect at the hands of the Milesian historians as the latter
fared in after times from the chroniclers of the Normans. We only know
that such tribes were, and that their numbers and physical force more
than once excited the apprehension of the children of the conquerors.
One thing is certain--the jealous policy of the superior race never
permitted them to reascend the plane of equality from which they had
been hurled at the very commencement of the Milesian ascendency.'

Mr. Haverty, another Catholic historian, learned, accurate, and
candid, laments the oppression of the people by their native rulers.
'Those who boasted descent from the Scytho-Spanish hero would have
considered themselves degraded were they to devote themselves to
any less honourable profession than those of soldiers, _ollavs_, or
physicians; and hence the cultivation of the soil and the exercise of
the mechanic arts were left almost exclusively to the _Firbolgs_ and
the _Tuatha-de-Danans_--the former people, in particular, being still
very numerous, and forming the great mass of the population in
the west. These were ground down by high rents and the exorbitant
exactions of the dominant race, _in order to support their unbounded
hospitality_ and defray the expenses of costly assemblies; but this
oppression must have caused perpetual discontent, and the hard-working
plebeians, as they were called, easily perceived that their masters
were running headlong to destruction, and that it only required a bold
effort to shake off their yoke.' Then follows an account of a civil
war, one of the leaders of the revolution being elected king at its
termination. Carbry reigned five years, during which time there was no
rule or order, and the country was a prey to every misfortune. 'Evil
was the state of Ireland during his reign; fruitless her corn, for
there used to be but one grain on the stalk; and fruitless her rivers;
her cattle without milk; her fruit without plenty, for there used to
be but one acorn on the oak.'

Dr. Lynch, author of _Cambrensis Eversus_, expresses his astonishment
at the great number of ancient Irish kings, most of whom were cut off
by a violent death, each hewing his way to the throne over the body
of his predecessor. But upon applying his mind to the more profound
consideration of the matter, he found nothing more wonderful in
the phenomenon 'than that the human family should proceed from one
man--the overflowing harvest from a few grains of seed, &c.' His
learned translator, the Rev. Matthew Kelly, of Maynooth, sees proof
of amendment in the fact that between 722 and 1022 twelve Irish kings
died a natural death. This candid and judicious writer observes in
a note--'It appears from the Irish and English annals that there
was perpetual war in Ireland during more than 400 years after the
invasion. It could not be called a war of races, except perhaps during
the first century, for English and Irish are constantly found fighting
under the same banner, according to the varying interests of the rival
lords and princes of both nations. This was the case even from the

[Footnote 1: Vol. i. p.216.]

Many persons have wondered at the success of small bands of English
invaders. Why did not the Irish nation rise _en masse_, and drive them
into the sea? The answer is easy. There was no Irish nation. About
half a million of people were scattered over the island in villages,
divided into tribes generally at war with one another, each chief
ready to accept foreign aid against his adversary--some, perhaps,
hoping thereby to attain supremacy in their clans, and others, who
were pretenders, burning to be avenged of those who had supplanted
them. It was religion that first gave the Irish race a common cause.
In the very year of the English invasion (1171) there were no fewer
than twenty predatory excursions or battles among the Irish chiefs
themselves, exclusive of contests with the invaders. Hence the Pope
said--'_Gens se interimit mutua cæde_.' The Pope was right.

The clergy exerted themselves to the utmost in trying to exorcise the
demon of destruction and to arrest the work of extermination. Not only
the _Bashall Isa_, or 'the staff of Jesus,' but many other relics were
used with the most solemn rites, to impress the people with a sense
of the wickedness of their clan-fights, and to induce them to keep the
peace, but in vain. The King of Connaught once broke a truce entered
into under every possible sanction of this kind, trampling upon all,
that he might get the King of Meath into his clutches. Hence the Rev.
Mr. Kelly is constrained to say--'It is now generally admitted by
Catholic writers that however great the efforts of the Irish clergy to
reform their distracted country in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
the picture of anarchy drawn by Pope Adrian is hardly overcharged.'
Indeed, some Catholic writers have confessed that the anarchy would
never have been terminated except by foreign conquest establishing a
strong central government. This, however, was not accomplished
till after a struggle of centuries, during which, except in brief
intervals, when a strong prince was able to protect his people, the
national demoralisation grew worse and worse. An Oxford priest,
who kept a school at Limerick, writing so late as 1566 of the Irish
nobles, says--'Of late they spare neither churches nor hallowed
places, but thence also they fill their hands with spoil--yea, and
sometimes they set them on fire and kill the men that there lie

Mr. Froude, following the Irish MSS. in the Rolls House, has presented
graphic pictures of the disorders of the Irishry in the reign of Queen
Mary. 'The English garrison,' he says, 'harassed and pillaged the
farmers of Meath and Dublin; the chiefs made forays upon each other,
killing, robbing, and burning. When the war broke out between England
and France, there were the usual conspiracies and uprisings of
nationality; the young Earl of Kildare, in reward to the Queen who
had restored him to his rank, appearing as the natural leader of
the patriots. Ireland was thus happy in the gratification of all its
natural tendencies. The Brehon law readvanced upon the narrow limits
to which, by the exertions of Henry VIII., the circuits of the
judges had been extended. And with the Brehon law came anarchy as its
inseparable attendant.'

The correctness of this view is too well attested by the records
which the learned historian brings to light, adopting the quaint
and expressive phraseology of the old writers whom he quotes. For

'The lords and gentiles of the Irish Pale that were not governed under
the Queen's laws were compelled to keep and maintain a great number
of idle men of war to rule their people at home, and exact from their
neighbours abroad--working everyone his own wilful will for a law--to
the spoil of his country, and decay and waste of the common weal of
the same. The idle men of war ate up altogether; the lord and his men
took what they pleased, destroying their tenants, and themselves never
the better. The common people, having nothing left to lose, became as
idle and careless in their behaviour as the rest, stealing by day and
robbing by night. Yet it was a state of things which they seemed all
equally to enjoy, and high and low alike were always ready to bury
their own quarrels, to join against the Queen and the English.'

At the time when the crown passed to Elizabeth the qualities of the
people were thus described by a correspondent of the council, who
presents the English view of the Irishry at that time:--

'The appearance and outward behaviour of the Irish showeth them to be
fruits of no good tree, for they exercise no virtue and refrain and
forbear from no vice, but think it lawful to do every man what him
listeth. They neither love nor dread God, nor yet hate the devil. They
are worshippers of images and open idolaters. Their common oath they
swear is by books, bells, and other ornaments which they do use as
holy religion. Their chief and solemnest oath is by their lord or
master's hand, which whoso forsweareth is sure to pay a fine or
sustain a worse turn. The Sabbath-day they rest from all honest
exercises, and the week days they are not idle, but worse occupied.
They do not honour their father and mother as much as they do
reverence strangers. For every murder that they commit they do not so
soon repent, for whose blood they once shed, they lightly never cease
killing all that name. They do not so commonly commit adultery; not
for that they profess or keep chastity, but for that they seldom or
never marry, and therefore few of them are lawful heirs, by the law of
the realm, to the lands they possess. They steal but from the strong,
and take by violence from the poor and weak. They know not so well who
is their neighbour as who they favour; with him they will witness in
right and wrong. They covet not their neighbours' good, but command
all that is their neighbours' as their own. Thus they live and die,
and there is none to teach them better. There are no ministers.
Ministers will not take pains where there is no living to be had,
neither church nor parish, but all decayed. People will not come to
inhabit where there is no defence of law.'

After six years of _discipline and improvement_ Sir Henry Sidney, in
1566, described the state of the four shires, the Irish inhabitants,
and the English garrison, in the following terms:--'The _English Pale_
is overwhelmed with vagabonds--stealth and spoil daily carried out of
it--the people miserable--not two gentlemen in the whole of it able
to lend 20 l. They have neither horse nor armour, nor apparel, nor
victual. The soldiers be so beggerlike as it would abhor a general to
look on them; yet so insolent as to be intolerable to the people, so
rooted in idleness as there is no hope by correction to amend them,
yet so allied with the Irish, I dare not trust them in a forte, or in
any dangerous service.'

A sort of 'special correspondent' or 'commissioner,' as we should call
him now, furnished to Cecil a detailed account of the social condition
of the people, which of course he viewed with English eyes. He found
existing among them a general organisation wherever the Irish language
was spoken--the remnants of a civilisation very ancient, but now fast
tending to ruin. Next to the chiefs were the priesthood, and after
them came a kind of intellectual hierarchy, consisting of four classes
of spiritual leaders and teachers, which were thus described. The
first was called the Brehon, or the judge. These judges took
'pawns' of both the parties, and then judged according to their own
discretion. Their property was neutral, and the Irishmen would not
prey upon them. They had great plenty of cattle, and they harboured
many vagabonds and idle persons. They were the chief maintainers of
rebels, but when the English army came to their neighbourhood they
fled to the mountains and woods 'because they would not succour
them with victuals and other necessaries.' The next sort was called
_Shankee_, who had also great plenty of cattle wherewith they
succoured the rebels. They made the ignorant men of the country
believe that they were descended from Alexander the Great, or Darius,
or Cæsar, 'or some other notable prince, which made the ignorant
people run mad, and care not what they did.' This, the correspondent
remarked, 'was very hurtful to the realm.' Not less hurtful were the
third sort called _Denisdan_, who not only maintained the rebels,
but caused those that would be true to become rebellious--'thieves,
extortioners, murderers, raveners, yea, and worse if it was possible.'
These seem to have been the historians or chroniclers of the tribe.
If they saw a young man, the descendant of an O' or a Mac, with half a
dozen followers, they forthwith made a rhyme about his father and his
ancestors, numbering how many heads they had cut off, how many towns
they had burned, how many virgins they had deflowered, how many
notable murders they had done, comparing them to Hannibal, or Scipio,
or Hercules, or some other famous person--'wherewithal the poor fool
runs mad, and thinks indeed it is so.' Then he will gather a lot of
rascals about him, and get a fortune-teller to prophesy how he is to
speed. After these preliminaries he betakes himself with his followers
at night to the side of a wood, where they lurk till morning. And when
it is daylight, then will they go to the poor villages, not sparing to
destroy young infants and aged people; and if a woman be ever so
great with child, her will they kill, burning the houses and corn, and
ransacking the poor cots; then will they drive away all the kine
and plough-horses, with all the other cattle. Then must they have a
bagpipe blowing before them, and if any of the cattle fortune to wax
weary or faint they will kill them rather than it should do the owner
good; and if they go by any house of friars, or religious house, they
will give them two or three beeves, and they will take them and pray
for them, yea, and praise their doings, and say, 'His father was
accustomed so to do, wherein he will rejoice.' The fourth class
consisted of 'poets.' These men had great store of cattle, and 'used
all the trade of the others with an addition of prophecies. They were
maintainers of witches and other vile matters, to the blasphemy of
God, and to the impoverishing of the commonwealth.'

These four septs were divided in all places of the four quarters of
Ireland, and some of the islands beyond Ireland, as Aran, the land of
the Saints, Innisbuffen, Innisturk, Innismain, and Innisclare. These
islands, he added, were under the rule of O'Neill, and they were
'very pleasant and fertile, plenty of wood, water, and arable ground,
pastures, and fish, and a very temperate air.' On this description
Mr. Froude remarks in a note--'At present they are barren heaps of
treeless moors and mountains. They yield nothing but scanty oat crops
and potatoes, and though the seas are full of fish as ever, there
are no hands to catch them. _The change is a singular commentary upon
modern improvements_.' There were many branches belonging to the four
septs, continues the credulous reporter, who was evidently imposed
upon, like many of his countrymen in modern times with better means
of information. For example, 'there was the branch of Gogath, the
glutton, of which one man would eat half a sheep at a sitting. There
was another called the Carrow, a gambler, who generally went about
naked, carrying dice and cards, and he would play the hair off his
head. Then there was a set of women called Goyng women, blasphemers
of God, who ran from country to country, sowing sedition among the

[Footnote 1: Froude's History, of England, vol. viii. chap. vii.]

Mr. Froude says that this 'picture of Ireland' was given by some
half Anglicised, half Protestantised Celt, who wrote what he had seen
around him, careless of political philosophy, or of fine phrases with
which to embellish his diction. But if he was a Celt, I think his
description clearly proves that he must have been a Celt of some
other country than the one upon whose state he reports. Judging from
internal evidence, I should say that he could not be a native; for an
Irishman, even though a convert to Anglicanism, and anxious to please
his new masters, could scarcely betray so much ignorance of the
history of his country, so much bigotry, such a want of candour and
discrimination. If Mr. Froude's great work has any fault, it is his
unconscious prejudice against Ireland. He knows as well as anyone the
working of the feudal system and the clan system in Scotland in
the same age. He knows with what treachery and cruelty murders
were perpetrated by chiefs and lairds, pretenders and usurpers--how
anarchy, violence, and barbarism reigned in that land; yet, when he is
dealing with a similar state of things in Ireland, he uniformly takes
it as proof of an incurable national idiosyncrasy, and too often
generalises from a few cases. For example, in speaking of Shane
O'Neill, who killed his half-brother, Matthew Kelly, Baron of
Dungannon, in order to secure the succession for himself, he
says--'_They manage things strangely in Ireland._ The old O'Neill,
instead of being irritated, saw in this exploit a proof of commendable
energy. He at once took Shane into favour, and, had he been able,
would have given him his dead brother's rights.'



Shane O'Neill was a man of extraordinary ability and tremendous
energy, as the English found to their cost. He was guilty of atrocious
deeds; but he had too many examples in those lawless times encouraging
him to sacrifice the most sacred ties to his ambition. He resolved to
seize the chieftainship by deposing his father and banishing him to
the Pale, where, after passing some years in captivity, he died. He
was, no doubt, urged to do this, lest by some chance the son of the
baron of Dungannon should be adopted by England as the rightful heir,
and made Earl of Tyrone. This title he spurned, and proclaimed himself
the O'Neill, the true representative of the ancient kings of Ulster,
to which office he was elected by his people, taking the usual oath
with his foot upon the sacred stone. This was an open defiance of
English power, and he prepared to abide the consequences. He thought
the opportunity a favourable one to recover the supremacy of his
ancestors over the O'Donels. He accordingly mustered a numerous army,
and marched into Tyrconnel, where he was joined by Hugh O'Donel,
brother of Calvagh, the chief, with other disaffected persons of the
same clan. O'Donel had recourse to stratagem. Having caused his cattle
to be driven out of harm's way, he sent a spy into the enemy's camp,
who mixed with the soldiers, and returning undiscovered, he undertook
to guide O'Donel's army to O'Neill's tent, which was distinguished by
a great watch-fire, and guarded by six galloglasses on one side and as
many Scots on the other. The camp, however, was taken by surprise
in the dead of night, and O'Neill's forces, careless or asleep, were
slaughtered and routed without resistance. Shane himself fled for his
life, and, swimming across three rivers, succeeded in reaching his own
territory. This occurred the year before he cast off his allegiance
to England. He was required to appear before Elizabeth in person to
explain the grounds on which he had claimed the chieftainship. He
consented, on condition that he got a safe-conduct and money for the
expenses of his journey. At the same time he sent a long letter to the
Queen, complaining of the treatment he had received, and defending his
pretensions. The letter is characteristic of the man and of the times.
He said: 'The deputy has much ill-used me, your Majesty; and now that
I am going over to see you, I hope you will consider that I am but
rude and uncivil, and do not know my duty to your Highness, nor yet
your Majesty's laws, but am one brought up in wildness, far from all
civility. Yet have I a good will to the commonwealth of my country;
and please your Majesty to send over two commissioners that you can
trust, that will take no bribes, nor otherwise be imposed on, to
observe what I have done to improve the country, and hear what my
accusers have to say; and then let them go into the Pale, and hear
what the people say of your soldiers, with their horses, and their
dogs, and their concubines. Within this year and a half, three hundred
farmers are come from the English Pale to live in my country, where
they can be safe.

'Please your Majesty, your Majesty's money here is not so good as your
money in England, and will not pass current there. Please your Majesty
to send me three thousand pounds in English money to pay my expenses
in going over to you, and when I come back I will pay your deputy
three thousand pounds Irish, such as you are pleased to have current
here. Also I will ask your Majesty to marry me to some gentlewoman of
noble blood meet for my vocation. I will make Ireland all that your
Majesty wishes for you. I am very sorry your Majesty is put to such
expense. If you will trust it to me, I will undertake that in three
years you will have a revenue, where now you have continual loss.'

Shane suspected evil designs on the part of the English, and not
without reason. The object of the summons to England was to detain him
there with 'gentle talk' till Sussex could return to his command with
an English army powerful enough to subjugate Ulster. For this purpose
such preparations were made by the English Government in men and
money, 'that rebellion should have no chance; and,' says Mr. Froude,
'so careful was the secresy which was observed, to prevent Shane from
taking alarm, that a detachment of troops sent from Portsmouth sailed
with sealed orders, and neither men nor officers knew that Ireland was
their destination till they had rounded the Land's End.' The English
plans were well laid. Kildare, whom Elizabeth most feared, had
accepted her invitation to go to London, and thus prevented any
movement in the south, while O'Donel was prepared to join the English
army on its advance into Ulster; and the Scots, notwithstanding their
predilection for Mary Stuart, were expected to act as Argyle and his
sister should direct. But Shane had a genius for intrigue as well
as Elizabeth, and he was far more rapid than her generals in the
execution of his plans. By a master-stroke of policy he disconcerted
their arrangements. He had previously asked the Earl of Argyle to give
him his daughter in marriage, in order that he might strengthen his
alliance with the Ulster Scots. It is true that she had been already
married to his rival, O'Donel; but that was a small difficulty in his
way. The knot was tied, but he had no hesitation in cutting it with
his sword. 'The countess' was well educated for her time. She was also
a Protestant, and the government had hopes that her influence would be
favourable to 'civility and the Reformation' among the barbarians of
the north. But whatever advantages the presence of the fair Scottish
missionary might bring, Shane O'Neill did not see why they should
not be all his own, especially as he had managed somehow to produce
a favourable impression on her heart. Accordingly he made a dash
into Tyrconnel, and carried off both the lady and her husband to his
stronghold, Shane's Castle, on the banks of Lough Neagh. Her Scotch
guard, though fifteen hundred strong, had offered no resistance.
O'Donel was shut up in a prison, and his wife became the willing
paramour of the captor. 'The affront to McConnell was forgiven or
atoned for by private arrangement, and the sister of the Earl of
Argyle--an educated woman for her time, not unlearned in Latin,
speaking French and Italian, counted sober, wise, and no less
subtle--had betrayed herself and her husband. The O'Neills, by this
last manoeuvre, became supreme in Ulster. Deprived of their head, the
O'Donels sank into helplessness. The whole force of the province, such
as it was, with the more serious addition of several thousand Scotch
marauders, was at Shane's disposal, and thus provided, he thought
himself safe in defying England to do its worst.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, Ibid.]

Meantime, Sussex had arrived in Dublin preceded by his English forces.
He made a rapid preliminary movement to the north, and seized the
Cathedral of Armagh, in order to make it a fortified depôt for his
stores. He then fell back into Meath, where he was joined by Ormond
with flying companies of galloglasses. Soon after a singular attack
was made on the English garrison at Armagh. Seeing a number of kernes
scattered about the town, the officer in command sallied out upon
them, when O'Neill suddenly appeared, accompanied by the Catholic
Archbishop, on a hill outside the walls. 'The English had but time to
recover their defences when the whole Irish army, led by a procession
of monks, and every man carrying a fagot, came on to burn the
cathedral over their heads. The monks sang a mass; the primate walked
three times up and down the lines, willing the rebels to go forward,
for God was on their side. Shane swore a great oath not to turn his
back while an Englishman was alive; and with scream and yell his men
came on. _Fortunately there were no Scots among them._ The English,
though out-numbered ten to one, stood steady in the churchyard, and,
after a sharp hand-to-hand fight, drove back the howling crowd. The
Irish retired into the friars' houses outside the cathedral close, set
them on fire, and ran for their lives.'

'So far,' adds Mr. Froude, 'all was well. After this there was no more
talk of treating, and by the 18th, Sussex and Ormond were themselves
at Armagh with a force--had there been skill to direct it--sufficient
to have swept Tyrone from border to border.'

The English historian exults in the valour of the small garrison of
his countrymen, well-disciplined and sheltered behind a strong wall,
in resisting the assault of a howling multitude of mere Irish, and he
observes significantly, that 'fortunately there were no _Scots_ among
them.' But he is obliged immediately after to record an Irish victory
so signal that, according to the lord deputy himself, 'the fame of the
English army so hardly gotten, was now vanished.' Yet Mr. Froude does
not, in this, lay the blame of defeat upon the _nationality_ of the
vanquished. It is only the Irish nation that is made the scape-goat in
such cases.

It was July, but the weather was wet, the rivers were high, Ormond was
ill, Sussex would not leave his friend, and so the English army stayed
in town doing nothing till the end of the month, when their failing
provisions admonished them that an Irish hosting would be desirable.
O'Neill, who seems to have been aware of the state of things,
presented the appropriate temptation. Spies brought the lord deputy
word that in the direction of Cavan there were herds of cows, which
an active party might easily capture. These spies, with ardent
professions of loyalty, offered to guide the English troops to the
place where the booty would be found, their object being to draw them
among bogs and rivers where they might be destroyed. The lord deputy
did not think it necessary to accompany this host, which consisted of
200 horse, 500 men-at-arms, and some hundreds of the loyal Irish of
the Pale. Shane intended to attack them the first night while resting
on their march. But they escaped by an alteration of the route. Next
morning they were marching on the open plain, miles from any shelter
of hill or wood, when the Irish chief, with less than half their
number, pursued them, and fell upon the cavalry in the rear, with
the cry, '_Laundarg Aboo_--the Bloody Hand--Strike for O'Neill!' The
English cavalry commanded by Wingfield, seized with terror, galloped
into the ranks of their own men-at-arms, rode them down, and
extricated themselves only to fly panic-stricken from the field to the
crest of an adjoining hill. Meantime, Shane's troopers rode through
the broken ranks, cutting down the footmen on all sides. The yells and
cries were heard far off through the misty morning air. Fitzwilliam,
who had the chief command, was about a mile in advance at the head
of another body of cavalry, when a horseman was observed by him,
galloping wildly in the distance and waving his handkerchief as a
signal. He returned instantly, followed by his men, and flung himself
into the _mêleé_. Shane receiving such a charge of those few men, and
seeing more coming after, ran no farther risk, blew a recall note,
and withdrew unpursued. Fitzwilliam's courage alone prevented the army
from being annihilated. Out of 500 English 50 lay dead, and 50 more
were badly wounded. The survivors fell back to Armagh 'so _dismayed_
as to be unfit for farther service.' Pitiable were the lamentations
of the lord deputy to Cecil on this catastrophe. It was, said he, 'by
cowardice the dreadfullest beginning that ever was seen in Ireland.
Ah! Mr. Secretary, what unfortunate star hung over me that day to draw
me, that never could be persuaded to be absent from the army at any
time--to be then absent for a little disease of another man? _The
rearward was the best and picked soldiers in all this land._ If I
or any stout man had been that day with them, we had made an end of
Shane--which is now farther off than ever it was. Never before durst
Scot or Irishman look on Englishmen in plain or wood since I was here;
and now Shane, in a plain three miles away from any wood, and where I
would have asked of God to have had him, hath, with 120 horse, and a
few Scots and galloglasse, _scarce half in numbers_, charged our whole
army, and by the cowardice of one wretch whom I hold dear to me as
my own brother, was like in one hour to have left not one man of that
army alive, and after to have taken me and the rest at Armagh. The
fame of the English army, so hardly gotten, is now vanished, and I,
wretched and dishonoured, by the vileness of other men's deeds.'

This is real history that Mr. Froude has given us. It places the
actors before us, enables us to discern their characters, tells us
who they are and what they have done. It shows also the value and
the necessity of documentary evidence for establishing the truth
of history. How different from the vague, uncertain, shadowy
representations derived from oral tradition, or mere reports,
though contemporary, circulated from mouth to mouth, and exaggerated
according to the interests of one party or the other. Let us for
illustration compare Mr. Froude's vivid picture of this battle, so
disastrous to the English, with the account given of the same event by
the Annalists called the Four Masters. These writers had taken great
pains to collect the most authentic records of the various Irish
tribes from the invasion by Henry II. to the period of which we
are writing. They were intensely Irish, and of course glad of any
opportunity of recording events creditable to the valour of their
countrymen. They lived in Donegal, under the protection of O'Donel,
but they showed themselves quite willing to do full justice to his
great rival O'Neill. The presence of the lord deputy, the Earl of
Ormond, and other great men at Armagh, with a select English army,
would naturally have roused their attention, and when that army was
encountered and vanquished in the open field by the Irish general, we
should have expected that the details of such a glorious event would
have been collected with the greatest care from the accounts of
eye-witnesses. The bards and historiographers should have been on the
alert to do justice to their country on so great an occasion. They
were on the spot, they were beside the victors, and they had no excuse
whatever for ignorance. Yet here is the miserably cold, _jejune_,
feeble, and imperfect record which we find in the Annals of the Four
Masters:--'The Lord Justice of Ireland, namely Thomas Fitzwalter
(Sussex), marched into Tyrone to take revenge for the capture of
Caloach O'Donel, and also for his own quarrels with the country.
He encamped with a great army at Armagh, and constructed deep
entrenchments and impregnable ramparts about the great church of
Armagh, which he intended to keep constantly guarded. O'Neill, i.e.
John, having received intelligence of this, sent a party of his
faithful men and friends with Caloach O'Donel to guard and keep
him from the Lord Justice, and they conveyed him from one island to
another, in the recesses and sequestered places of Tyrone. After some
time the Lord Justice sent out from the camp at Armagh, a number of
his captains with 1000 men to take some prey and plunder in Oriel.
O'Neill, having received private information and intelligence of those
great troops marching into Oriel, proceeded privately and silently to
where they were, and came up to them after they had collected their
prey; a battle ensued in which many were slain on both sides; and
finally the preys were abandoned, and fell into the hands of their
original possessors on that occasion.'

That is the whole account of the most signal victory over the English
that had crowned the arms of Ulster during those wars! Not a word of
the disparity of the forces, or the flight of the English cavalry,
or the slaughter of the Englishmen-at-arms, or the humiliation and
disabled condition of the garrison at Armagh. Equally unsatisfactory
is the record of the subsequent march through Tyrone by Sussex, in the
course of which his army slaughtered 4000 head of cattle, which they
could not drive away. Of this tremendous destruction of property the
Four Masters do not say a word. Such omissions often occur in their
annals, even when dealing with contemporary events. Uncritical as they
were and extremely credulous, how can we trust the records which they
give of remote ages?



The moral atmosphere of Elizabeth's court was not favourable to public
virtue. Strange to say at this time Lord Pembroke seemed to be the
only nobleman connected with it whose patriotism could be depended on;
and, according to Cecil, there was not another person, 'no not one'
who did not either wish well to Shane O'Neill, or so ill to the Earl
of Sussex as 'rather to welcome the news than regret the English
loss!' It would be difficult to find 'intriguing factiousness' baser
than this even in barbarous Ireland. The success of O'Neill, however,
had raised him high in the opinion of the Queen, who proposed,
through the Earl of Kildare, to leave him in possession of all his
territories, and let him govern the Irish 'according to Irish ideas'
if he would only become her vassal. Sussex had returned to Dublin with
the remnant of his army, while Fitzwilliam was dispatched to London
to explain the disaster, bearing with him a petition from the Irish
Council, that the troops who had been living in free quarters on the
tenants of the Pale should be recalled or disbanded. 'Useless in the
field and tyrannical to the farmer, they were a burden on the English
exchequer, and answered no purpose but to make the English name

To O'Neill the Queen sent a pardon, with a safe conduct to England, if
he could be prevailed on to go. In the meantime Shane sent a message
to the lord deputy, demanding the removal of the garrison from Armagh.
One of his messengers, Neill Grey communicated secretly with Lord
Sussex, affecting to dislike rebellion, and intimating that he might
help the English to get rid of his master. The lord deputy, without
the least scruple or apparent consciousness of the criminality or
disgrace of the proceeding, actually proposed to this man that he
should murder O'Neill. This villanous purpose he avows in his letter
to the Queen. 'In fine,' said he, 'I breake with him to kill Shane;
and bound myself by my oath to see him have a hundred marcs of land by
the year to him, and to his heirs, for his reward. He seemed desirous
to serve your Highness, and to have the land; but fearful to do it,
doubting his own escape after with safety, which he confessed and
promised to do by any means he might, escaping with his life. What he
will do I know not, but I assure your Highness he may do it without
danger if he will. And if he will not do that he may in your service,
there will be done _to him_ what others may. God send your Highness a
good end.'

This English nobleman was, it seems, pious as well as honourable,
and could mingle prayers with his plots for assassination. Mr. Froude
suggests extenuating circumstances: 'Lord Sussex, it appears, regarded
Shane as a kind of wolf, whom having failed to capture in fair chase
he might destroy by the first expedient that came to his hand.' And
'English honour, like English coin, lost something of its purity in
the sister island.' Of course; it was the Irish atmosphere that did it
all. But Sussex was not singular in this mode of illustrating English
honour. A greater than he, the chivalrous Sir Walter Raleigh, wrote to
a friend in Munster, recommending the treacherous assassination of the
Earl of Desmond, as perfectly justifiable. And this crime, for which
an ignorant Irishman would be hanged, was deliberately suggested by
the illustrious knight whilst sitting quietly in his English study.[1]
But what perplexes the historian most of all is that the Queen of
England showed no resentment at the infamous proposal of Sussex. 'It
is most sadly certain, however, that Sussex was continued in office,
and inasmuch as it will be seen that he repeated the experiment a few
months later, his letter could not have been received with any marked
condemnation.' Yet Elizabeth was never in Ireland.

[Footnote 1: See Life of Sir Walter Raleigh.]

Fitzwilliam, however, returned with reinforcements of troops from
Berwick, with which the deputy resolved to repair the credit of the
English arms, and to set the Irish an example of civilised warfare.
How did he do this? Dispatching provisions by sea to Lough Foyle, he
succeeded this time in marching through Tyrone, 'and in destroying on
his way 4,000 cattle, which he was unable to carry away. He had left
Shane's cows to rot where he had killed them; and thus being without
food, and sententiously and characteristically concluding that man by
his policy might propose, but God at His will did dispose; Lord Sussex
fell back by the upper waters of Lough Erne, sweeping the country
before him.' When the Irish peasantry saw the carcasses of their
cattle rotting along the roads, while their children were famished for
want of milk, they must have been most favourably impressed with the
blessings of British rule! Shane, instead of encountering the deputy
on his own territory, amused himself burning villages in Meath.
Neither of those rulers--those chief protectors of the people--seems
to have been conscious that he was doing anything wrong in destroying
the homes and the food of the wretched inhabitants, whom they
alternately scourged. On the contrary, the extent of devastation which
they were able to effect was supposed to put them in a better
position for meeting together, and treating as honourable and gallant
representatives of their respective nations.

In accordance with the desire of the Queen, Shane, fresh from the work
of destruction in the Pale, was invited to a conference with Kildare.
They met at Dundalk, and the Irish chief consented to wait upon
Elizabeth in London, being allowed to name his own conditions. In
doing so he implied 'that he was rather conferring a favour than
receiving one, and that he was going to England as a victorious enemy
permitting himself to be conciliated.' He demanded a safe-conduct so
clearly worded that, whatever was the result of his visit, he should
be free to return; he required 'a complete amnesty for his past
misdeeds, and he stipulated that Elizabeth should pay all expenses
for himself and his retinue; the Earls of Ormond, Desmond, and Kildare
must receive him in state at Dundalk, and escort him to Dublin;
Kildare must accompany him to England; and, most important of all,
Armagh Cathedral must be evacuated. He did not anticipate treachery;
and either he would persuade Elizabeth to recognise him, and thus
prove to the Irish that rebellion was the surest road to prosperity
and power, or, at worst, by venturing into England, and returning
unscathed, he would show them that the Government might be defied with
more than impunity.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude.]

These terms, so humiliating to English pride, were advocated in the
Council 'for certain secret respects;' and even Sir William Cecil
was not ashamed to say, 'that, in Shane's absence from Ireland,'
_something might be cavilled against him or his_, for non-observing
the covenants on his side; and so the pact being infringed, the
matter might be used as should be thought fit. With this understanding
Elizabeth wrote, making all the ignominious concessions demanded, save
one, the evacuation of the cathedral. Shane replied in lofty terms
that, although for the Earl of Sussex he would not mollify one iota
of his agreement, yet he would consent at the request of her Majesty.
'Thus,' says Mr. Froude, 'with the Earl of Kildare in attendance, a
train of galloglasse, 1,000 l. in hand, and a second 1,000 l. awaiting
for him in London, the champion of Irish freedom sailed from Dublin,
and appeared on the second of January at the English court.'

It is stated that Cecil, Pembroke, and Bacon, received him privately
on his arrival, instructed him how to behave in the royal presence,
gave him the promised money, and endeavoured to impress upon him the
enormity of his offences. But, to every appeal made to his conscience,
Shane answered by a counter appeal about money; 2,000 l. was a poor
present from so great a Queen; he was sure their honours would
give him a few more hundreds. He agreed, however, to make a general
confession of his sins in Irish and English; and, thus tutored,
Elizabeth received him in state on January 6, 1562, attended by
the Council, the peers, the foreign ambassadors, bishops, aldermen,
dignitaries of all kinds, who gazed 'as if at the exhibition of some
wild animal of the desert.' The scene is very graphically described by
Mr. Froude: 'O'Neill stalked in, his saffron mantle sweeping round and
round him, his hair curling on his back, and clipped short below
the eyes, which gleamed from under it with a grey lustre, frowning,
fierce, and cruel. Behind him followed his galloglasse, bare-headed
and fair-haired, with shirts of mail which reached their knees, a
wolf-skin flung across their shoulders, and short broad battle-axes in
their hands. At the foot of the throne the chief paused, bent forward,
threw himself on his face upon the ground, and then, rising upon his
knees, spoke aloud in Irish!' Camden says he 'confessed his crime and
rebellion with howling,' and Mr. Froude adds that, to his hearers, the
sound of the words 'was as the howling of a dog.' He said:--

'Oh! my most dread sovereign lady and queen, like as I Shane O'Neill,
your Majesty's subject of your realm of Ireland, have of long time
desired to come into the presence of your Majesty to acknowledge my
humble and bounden subjection, so am I now here upon my knees by your
gracious permission, and do most humbly acknowledge your Majesty to be
my sovereign lady and Queen of England, France, and Ireland; and I
do confess that, for lack of civil education, I have offended your
Majesty and your laws, for the which I have required and obtained your
Majesty's pardon. And for that I most humbly, from the bottom of my
heart, thank your Majesty, and still do with all humbleness require
the continuance of the same; and I faithfully promise here before
Almighty God and your Majesty, and in presence of all these your
nobles, that I intend, by God's grace, to live hereafter in the
obedience of your Majesty as a subject of your land of Ireland.

'And because this my speech, being Irish, is not well understanded, I
have caused this my submission to be written in English and Irish, and
thereto have set my hand and seal; and to these gentlemen, my kinsmen
and friends, I most humbly beseech your Majesty to be merciful and

Camden remarks that the bare-headed galloglasse, with long dishevelled
hair, crocus-dyed shirts, wide sleeves, short jackets, shaggy cloaks,
&c., were objects of great wonder to the Londoners; while the hauteur
of the Irish prince excited the merriment of the courtiers, who styled
him 'O'Neill the Great, cousin to St. Patrick, friend to the Queen
of England, enemy to all the world besides.' Notwithstanding Shane's
precautions with respect to the safe-conduct, English artifice outdid
Irish cunning. With all their horror of the Jesuits, Elizabeth's
ministers in this case practised mental reservation. True, the
Government had promised to permit him to return to Ireland, but then
the time of his stay had not been specified. Various pretexts were
invented to detain him. He must be recognised as his father's heir;
the cause must be pleaded before the English judges; the young Baron
of Dungannon must come over and be heard on the other side. O'Neill
was told that he had been sent for, while Cecil wrote privately to
Fitzwilliam to keep him safe in Ireland. While the prince was thus
humoured with vain excuses, he was occupied in pleading his own cause
by flattering communications to the Queen, 'whose fame was spoken
of throughout the world.' He wished to study the wisdom of her
government, that he might know better how to order himself in civil
polity. He was most urgent that her Majesty would give him 'some noble
English lady for a wife, with augmentation of living suitable.' If she
would give him his father's earldom, he would make her the undisputed
sovereign of willing subjects in Ulster; he would drive away all her
enemies, save her from all further expense, and secure for her a
great increase of revenue. He begged in the meantime, that he might be
allowed to attend her favourite, Lord Robert Cecil, in order to learn
'to ride after the English fashion, to run at the tilt, to hawk, to
shoot, and use such other good exercises as the said good lord was
most apt unto.' Thus month after month passed away, and Shane was
still virtually a prisoner. 'At length,' says Mr. Froude, 'the false
dealing produced its cruel fruit, the murder of the boy who was used
as the pretext for the delay. Sent for to England, yet prevented from
obeying the command, the young Baron of Dungannon was waylaid at the
beginning of April in a wood near Carlingford by Turlogh O'Neill. He
fled for his life, with the murderers behind him, till he reached
the bank of a deep river, which he could not swim, and there he was

This event brought matters to a crisis, and Shane's cause was
triumphant. By articles entered into between him and the Queen it was
agreed that he was to be constituted captain or governor of Tyrone 'in
the same manner as other captains of the said nation called O'Nele's
had rightfully executed that office in the time of King Henry VIII.
And, moreover, he was to enjoy and have the name and title of O'Nele,
with the like authority as any other of his ancestors, with the
service and homage of all the lords and captains called _urraughts_,
and other nobles of the said nation of O'Nele.' All this was upon the
condition 'that he and his said nobles should truly and faithfully,
from time to time, serve her Majesty, and, where necessary, wage war
against all her enemies in such manner as the Lord Lieutenant for the
time being should direct.' The title of O'Neill, however, was to be
contingent on the decision of Parliament as to the validity of the
letters-patent of Henry VIII. Should that decision be unfavourable, he
was to enjoy his powers and prerogatives under the style and title
of the Earl of Tyrone, with feudal jurisdiction over the northern
counties. The Pale was to be no shelter to any person whom he might
demand as a malefactor. If any Irish lord or chief did him wrong, and
the deputy failed within twenty-one days to exact reparation, Shane
might raise an army and levy war on his private account. An exception
was made on behalf of the loyal O'Donel, whose cause was to be
submitted to the arbitration of the Irish earls. The 'indenture'
between the Queen and O'Neill was signed by the high contracting
parties, and bears date April 30, 1562. The English historian
indignantly remarks: 'A rebel subject treating as an equal with his
sovereign for the terms on which he would remain in his allegiance was
an inglorious spectacle; and the admission of Shane's pretensions to
sovereignty was one more evidence to the small Ulster chiefs that no
service was worse requited in Ireland than fidelity to the English
crown. The Maguires, the O'Reillys, the O'Donels--all the clans who
had stood by Sussex in the preceding summer--were given over to their
enemy bound hand and foot. But Elizabeth was weary of the expense,
and sick of efforts which were profitless as the cultivation of a
quicksand. True it was that she was placing half Ireland in the hands
of an adulterous, murdering scoundrel, but the Irish liked to have it
so, and she forced herself to hope that he would restrain himself for
the future within the bounds of decency.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude.]

In that hope she was soon disappointed. Shane with his galloglasse
returned in glory, his purse lined with money and honour wreathed
about his brows. He told the northern chiefs that he had gone to
England not to lose but to win, and that they must henceforth submit
to his authority, or feel his power. The O'Donels, relying on English
promises, dared to refuse allegiance to the O'Neill, whereupon,
without consulting the lord deputy, 'he called his men to arms and
marched into Tyrconnel, killing, robbing, and burning in the old style
through farm and castle.' The Irish historians, however, make excuses
for O'Neill, affirming that he was released from his obligations
by the bad faith of the lord deputy. He it was who gave him a safe
conduct to Dublin, that he might take the oath of allegiance according
to promise; but the document was so ingeniously worded that its
meaning might be twisted so as to make him a prisoner. He was informed
of this treachery, and, as Mr. Froude remarks, 'Shane was too cunning
a fish, and had been too lately in the meshes, to be caught again in
so poor a snare.' A most attractive bait was provided by Sussex in
the person of his sister, who had been brought over to Dublin, and who
might be won by the great northern chief if he would only come up to
the viceregal court to woo her. 'Shane glanced at the tempting morsel
with wistful eyes. Had he trusted himself in the hands of Sussex he
would have had a short shrift for a blessing and a rough nuptial knot
about his neck. At the last moment a little bird carried the tale
to his ear. He had been advertized out of the Pale that the lady
was brought over only to entrap him, and if he came to the deputy he
should never return.' He therefore excused himself by alleging that
his duty to the Queen forbade him to leave the province while it was
in such a disturbed condition, the disturbance being caused chiefly by
his own predatory excursions into the territories of the O'Donels and

Shane took charge of the affairs of the Church as well as of the
State. The Catholic primate refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth as the
head of the Church, the see was declared vacant, and a _congé d'élire_
was sent down for the appointment of 'Mr. Adam Loftus,' an Englishman,
who came over as the lord deputy's chaplain. The answer returned and
reported by Sussex to the Queen was 'that the chapter there, whereof
the greater part were Shane O'Neill's horsemen, were so sparkled
and out of order that they could by no means be assembled for the
election. In the meantime the lord deputy began to apprehend that
O'Neill aspired, not without some hope of success, to the sovereignty
of the whole island. It was found that he was in correspondence with
the Pope, and the Queen of Scots, and the King of Spain. No greater
danger, wrote Sussex, had ever been in Ireland. He implored the Queen
not to trifle with it, declaring that he wished some abler general to
take the command, not from any want of will, 'for he would spend his
last penny and his last drop of blood for her Majesty.' Right and left
Shane was crushing the petty chiefs, who implored the protection
of the Government. Maguire requested the deputy to write to him in
English, not in Latin, because the latter language was well known,
and but few of the Irish had any knowledge of the former, in which
therefore the secrets of their correspondence would be more safe. Here
is a specimen of his English: 'I know well that within these four days
the sayed Shan will come to dystroy me contrey except your Lordshypp
will sette some remedy in the matter.' He did indeed go down into
Fermanagh with 'a great hoste.' As Maguire refused to submit, Shane
'bygan to wax mad, and to cawsse his men to bran all his corn and
howsses.' He spared neither church nor sanctuary; three hundred women
and children were piteously murdered, and Maguire himself, clean
banished, as he described it, took refuge with the remnant of his
people in the islands on the lake, whither Shane was making boats to
pursue him. 'Help me, your lordship,' the hunted wretch cried, in his
despair, to Sussex. 'Ye are lyke to make hym the strongest man of all
Erlond, for every man wyll take an exampull by the gratte lostys; take
hyd to yourself by thymes, for he is lyke to have all the power from
this place thill he come to the wallys of Gallway to rysse against

[Footnote 1: Wright's Elizabeth, vol. i. p.73.]

It is the boast of the Irish that when Shane had subdued all his
opponents, he ruled Tyrone for some time with such order, 'that if
a robbery was committed within his territory, he either caused the
property to be restored, or reimbursed the loser out of his own

[Footnote 1: Haverty's History of Ireland, p.300.]

The perplexity of the Government in this critical emergency is vividly
described by Mr. Froude: 'Elizabeth knew not which way to turn. Force,
treachery, conciliation had been tried successively, and the Irish
problem was more hopeless than ever. In the dense darkness of the
prospects of Ulster there was a solitary gleam of light. Grown
insolent with prosperity, Shane had been dealing too peremptorily with
the Scots; his countess, though compelled to live with him, and to be
the mother of his children, had felt his brutality and repented of her
folly, and perhaps attempted to escape. In the daytime, when he
was abroad marauding, she was coupled like a hound to a page or a
horse-boy, and only released at night when he returned to his evening
orgies. The fierce Campbells were not men to bear tamely these
outrages from a drunken savage on the sister of their chief, and
Sussex conceived that if the Scots, by any contrivance, were separated
from Shane, they might be used as a whip to scourge him.'

At length Sussex, determined to crush the arch-rebel, marched
northward in April, 1563, with a mixed force of English and Irish,
ill-armed, ill-supplied, dispirited and almost disloyal. The diary of
the commander-in-chief is, perhaps, the funniest on record: 'April 6:
The army arrived at Armagh. April 8: The army marches back to Newry
to bring up stores and ammunition left behind. April 11: The army
advances again to Armagh, where it waits for galloglasse and kerne
from the Pale. April 14: The commander-in-chief answers a letter from
James M'Connell. April 15: The army goes upon Shane's cattle, of which
it takes enough to serve it, but would have taken more if it had had
galloglasse.' Next day it returns to Armagh. There it waits three days
for the galloglasse, and then sends back for them to Dublin. On April
20, again writes M'Connell, because he did not come according to
promise. April 21: The army surveys the Trough mountains. April 22:
The pious commander winds up the glorious record in these words: 'To
Armagh with the spoil taken which would have been much more if we had
had galloglasse, and because St. George even forced me, her Majesty's
lieutenant, to return to divine service that night. April 23: Divine
service.' Subsequently his lordship's extreme piety caused him the
loss of 300 horses, which he naïvely confesses thus: 'Being Easter
time, and he having travelled the week before, and Easter day till
night, thought fit to give Easter Monday to prayer, and in this time
certain churls stole off with the horses.' To this Mr. Froude adds the
pertinent remark: 'The piety which could neglect practical duty for
the outward service of devotion, yet at the same time could make
overtures to Neil Greg to assassinate his master, requires no very
lenient consideration.'

In connexion with the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill Lord Elcho
proposed Solomon's plan of settling the dispute of the two mother
Churches about Ireland. He would cut the country in two, establishing
Protestantism in the north and Catholicism in the south. When an
experienced member of the House of Commons makes such a proposition
in this age, we should not be surprised that Sir Thomas Cusack in the
year 1563 proposed to Queen Elizabeth that Ireland should be divided
into four provinces, each with a separate president, either elected by
the people or chosen in compliance with their wishes. O'Neill was to
have the north, the Clanrickards the west, the O'Briens or Desmonds
the south, and thus the English might be allowed the undisturbed
enjoyment of the Pale. This notable scheme for settling the Irish
question was actually adopted by the Queen, and she wrote to Sussex,
stating that, as his expedition to the north had resulted only in
giving fresh strength to the enemy, she 'had decided to come to an end
of the war of Ulster by agreement rather than by force.' To Shane she
was all compliance. He had but to prove himself a good subject, and
he might have any pre-eminence which her Majesty could grant without
doing any other person wrong. 'If he desired to have a council
established at Armagh, he should himself be the president of that
council; if he wished to drive the Scots out of Antrim, her own troops
would assist in the expulsion; if he was offended with the garrison in
the cathedral, she would gladly see peace maintained in a manner less
expensive to herself. To the primacy he might name the person most
agreeable to himself, and with the primacy, as a matter of course,
even the form of maintaining the Protestant Church would be abandoned
also. In return for these concessions the Queen demanded only that
Shane, to save her honour, should sue for them as a favour instead
of demanding them as a right. The rebel chief consented without
difficulty to conditions which cost him nothing, and after an
interview with Cusack, O'Neill wrote a formal apology to Elizabeth,
and promised for the future to be her Majesty's true and faithful
subject. Indentures were drawn up on December 17, in which the Ulster
sovereignty was transferred to him in everything but the name, and the
treaty required only Elizabeth's signature, when a second dark effort
was made to cut the knot of the Irish difficulty.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, vol. viii. p.48.]

This second 'dark effort' was nothing less than an attempt to murder
O'Neill by means of poison. He could not be conquered; he could not be
out-manoeuvred; he could not be assassinated in the ordinary way. But
the resources of Dublin Castle, and of English ingenuity, were
not exhausted. The lord deputy was of course delighted with the
reconciliation which had been effected with the Ulster prince. What
could be more natural than to send him a present of the choicest
wine from the viceregal cellars? certainly few presents could be more
agreeable. Shane and his household quaffed the delicious beverage
freely enough we may be sure, without the slightest suspicion that
there was death in the cup. But the wine was mingled with poison.
Those who drank it were quickly at the point of death. O'Neill might
thank his good constitution for his recovery from an illness almost
mortal. The crime was traced to an Englishman named Smith, who, if
employed by Lord Sussex, did not betray the guilty secret. Mr. Froude
admits that the suspicion cannot but cling to him that this second
attempt at murder was not made without his connivance; 'nor,' he adds,
'can Elizabeth herself be wholly acquitted of responsibility. She
professed the loudest indignation, but she ventured no allusion to
his previous communication with her, and no hint transpires of
any previous displeasure when the proposal had been made openly to
herself. The treachery of an English nobleman, the conduct of
the inquiry, and the anomalous termination of it, would have been
incredible even in Ireland, were not the original correspondence
extant, in which the facts are not denied.'

O'Neill of course complained loudly to the Queen, whereupon she
directed that a strict investigation should take place, in order
that the guilty parties should be found out and punished, 'of what
condition soever the same should be.' In writing to the lord deputy
she assumed that Smith had been committed to prison and would be
brought to condign punishment. That person, after many denials, at
length confessed his guilt, and said that his object was to rid his
country of a dangerous enemy. This motive was so good in the eye
of the Government that it saved the life of the culprit. Sir Thomas
Cusack, writing to Cecil, March 22, 1564, says, 'I persuaded O'Neill
to forget the matter, whereby no more talk should grow of it; seeing
there is no law to punish the offender other than by discretion and
imprisonment, which O'Neill would little regard except the party might
be executed by death, and that the law doth not suffer. So as the
matter be wisely pacified, it were well done to leave it.' Shane was
probably aware that Smith was but an instrument, who would be readily
sacrificed as a peace-offering.

The sketch which Mr. Froude gives of Ulster and its wild sovereign at
this time is admirably picturesque. 'Here then, for the present,
the story will leave Shane safely planted on the first step of his
ambition, in all but the title, sole monarch of the North. He
built himself a fort on an island in Lough Neagh, which he called
_Foogh-ni-gall_, or, Hate of Englishmen, and grew rich on the spoils
of his enemies, the only strong man in Ireland. He administered
justice after a paternal fashion, permitting no robbers but himself;
when wrong was done he compelled restitution, or at his own cost
redeemed the harm "to the loser's contentation." Two hundred pipes of
wine were stored in his cellars; 600 men-at-arms fed at his table, as
it were his janissaries; and daily he feasted the beggars at his gate,
saying, it was meet to serve Christ first. Half wolf, half fox, he lay
couched in his Castle of Malepartuis, with his emissaries at Rome, at
Paris, and at Edinburgh. In the morning he was the subtle pretender to
the Irish throne; in the afternoon, when the wine was in him, he was
a dissolute savage, revelling in sensuality with his unhappy countess,
uncoupled from her horseboy to wait upon his pleasure. He broke loose
from time to time to keep his hand in practice. At Carlingford,
for example, he swept off one day 200 sheep and oxen, while his
men violated sixty women in the town; but Elizabeth looked away and
endeavoured not to see. The English Government had resolved to stir no
sleeping dogs in Ireland till a staff was provided to chastise them if
they would bite. Terence Daniel, the dean of those rough-riding canons
of Armagh, was installed as primate; the Earl of Sussex was recalled
to England; and the new archbishop, unable to contain his exultation
at the blessed day which had dawned upon his country, wrote to Cecil
to say how the millennium had come at last, glory be to God!'

As a picture of Irish savage life this is very good. But the historian
has presented a companion picture of English civilised life, which
is not at all inferior. Sir Thomas Wroth and Sir Nicholas Arnold were
sent over to reform the Pale. They were stern Englishmen, impatient
of abuses among their own countrymen, and having no more sympathy for
Irishmen than for wolves. In the Pale they found that peculation had
grown into a custom; the most barefaced frauds had been converted by
habit into rights: and a captain's commission was thought ill-handled
if it did not yield, beyond the pay, 500 l. a year. They received pay
for each hundred men, when only sixty were on the roll. The soldiers,
following the example of their leaders, robbed and ground the
peasantry. In fact, the Pale was 'a weltering sea of corruption--the
captains out of credit, the soldiers mutinous, the English Government
hated; every man seeking his own, and none that which was Christ's.'
The purification of the Pale was left to Arnold, 'a hard, iron,
pitiless man, careful of things and careless of phrases, untroubled
with delicacy, and impervious to Irish enchantments. The account books
were dragged to light, where iniquity in high places was registered in
inexorable figures. The hands of Sir Henry Ratcliffe, the brother of
Sussex, were not found clean. Arnold sent him to the Castle with
the rest of the offenders. Deep, leading drains were cut through the
corrupting mass. The shaking ground grew firm, and honest healthy
human life was again made possible. With the provinces beyond the
Pale, Arnold meddled little, save where, taking a rough view of the
necessities of the case, he could help the Irish chiefs to destroy
each other.'

To Cecil, Arnold wrote thus: 'I am with all the wild Irish at the same
point I am at with bears and ban-dogs; when I see them fight, so they
fight earnestly indeed, and tug each other well, I care not who has
the worst.' 'Why not, indeed?' asks Mr. Froude; 'better so than hire
assassins! Cecil, with the modesty of genius, confessed his ignorance
of the country, and his inability to judge; yet, in every opinion
which he allowed himself to give, there was always a certain nobility
of tone and sentiment.' Nobility was scarcely necessary to induce
a statesman to revolt against the policy of Arnold. A little
Christianity, nay a slight touch of humanity, would have sufficed for
that purpose. Sussex was a nobleman, and considered himself, no
doubt, a very godly man, but everyone must admit that, in all heroic
qualities, he was incomparably beneath the uncultured Shane O'Neill,
while in baseness and wickedness he was not far behind his northern
foe, 'half wolf, half fox.' Cecil, however, was a man of a very
different stamp from Sussex. Evidently shocked at the prevailing
English notions about the value of Irish life, he wrote to Arnold:
'You be of that opinion which many wise men are of, from which I do
not dissent, being an Englishman; but being, as I am, a Christian man,
I am not without some perplexity, to enjoy of such cruelties.'

The work of reform, however, did not prove so easy a task. Arnold's
vigour was limited by his powers. The paymasters continued to cheat
the Government by false returns. The Government allowed the pay to
run in arrear, the soldiers revenged themselves by oppressing and
plundering the people; and 'so came to pass this wonderful phenomenon,
that _in O'Neill's country_ alone in Ireland--defended as it was from
attacks from without, and enriched with the plunder of the Pale--_were
the peasantry prosperous, or life or property secure_.' This fact
might suggest to the English historian that the evils of Ireland do
not all proceed from blood or race; and that the Saxon may be placed
in circumstances which make him as false, as dishonest, as lazy, as
disordered, as worthless as the Celt, and that even men of 'gentle
blood' may become as base as their most plebeian servants. Nor did
zeal for religious reformation redeem the defects of the Anglo-Irish
rulers. The Protestant bishops were chiefly agitated by the vestment
controversy. 'Adam Loftus, the titular primate, to whom,' says
Mr. Froude, 'sacked villages, ravished women, and famine-stricken
skeletons crawling about the fields, were matters of everyday
indifference, shook with terror at the mention of a surplice.' Robert
Daly wrote in anguish to Cecil, in dismay at the countenance to
'Papistry,' and at his own inability to prolong a persecution which he
had happily commenced. An abortive 'devise for the better government
of Ireland' gives us some insight into the condition of the people.
'No poor persons should be _compelled_ any more to work or labour
by the day, or otherwise, without meat, drink, wages, or some other
allowance during the time of their labour; no earth tillers, nor any
others inhabiting a dwelling, under any lord, should be distrained or
punished, in body or goods, for the faults of their landlord; nor
any honest man lose life or lands without fair trial by parliamentary
attainder, according to the ancient laws of England and Ireland.'
Surely it was no proof of incurable perversity of nature, that the
Irish peasantry were discontented and disaffected, under the horrid
system of oppression and slavery here laid before the English

As remedial measures, it was proposed that a true servant of God
should be placed in every parish, from Cape Clear to the Giant's
Causeway; that the children should be taught the New Testament and the
Psalms in Latin, 'that they, being infants, might savour of the same
in age as an old cask doth;' that there should be a university for the
education of the clergy, 'and such godly discipline among them that
there should be no more pluralities, no more abuse of patronage, no
more neglect, or idleness, or profligacy.' Mr. Froude's reflection
upon this projected policy is highly characteristic:--

'Here was an ideal Ireland painted on the retina of some worthy
English minister; but the real Ireland was still the old place. As it
was in the days of Brian Boroihme and the Danes, so it was in the days
of Shane O'Neill and Sir Nicholas Arnold; and the Queen, who was
to found all these fine institutions, cared chiefly to burden her
exchequer no further in the vain effort _to drain the black Irish
morass_, fed as it was from the perennial fountains of Irish

[Footnote 1: Vol. viii. p.377.]

The Queen, however, thought it more prudent to let Shane have his way
in Ulster. To oblige him, she would remove the Protestant primate,
Loftus, to Dublin, and appoint his own nominee and friend, Terence
Daniel. The Pope had sent a third archbishop for the same see,
named Creagh; but, when passing through London, he was arrested, and
incarcerated in the Tower, 'where he lay in great misery, cold, and
hunger, without a penny, without the means of getting his single
shirt washed, and without gown or hose.' At last he made his escape
by gliding over the walls into the Thames. The events of 1565 made the
English Government more than ever anxious to come to terms with the
chieftain 'whom they were powerless to crush.' Since the defeat of the
Earl of Sussex, continues Mr. Froude, 'Shane's influence and strength
had been steadily growing. His return unscathed from London, and the
fierce attitude which he assumed on the instant of his reappearance
in Ulster, convinced the petty leaders that to resist him longer would
only ensure their ruin. O'Donel was an exile in England, and there
remained unsubdued in the North only the Scottish colonies of Antrim,
which were soon to follow with the rest. O'Neill lay quiet through the
winter. With the spring and the fine weather, when the rivers fell
and the ground dried, he roused himself out of his lair, and with
his galloglasse and kerne, and a few hundred harquebussmen, he dashed
suddenly down upon the Red-shanks, and broke them utterly to pieces.
Six or seven hundred were killed in the field, James M'Connell and
his brother, Sorleyboy, were taken prisoners, and, for the moment, the
whole colony was swept away. James M'Connell, himself badly wounded
in the action, died a few months later, and Shane was left undisputed
sovereign of Ulster.'

Primate Daniel announced to the Queen this 'glorious victory over a
malicious and dangerous people' who were gradually fastening on the
country; and Sir Thomas Cusack urged that now was the time to make
O'Neill a friend for ever, an advice which was backed up by the stern
Arnold. 'For what else could be done? The Pale,' he pleaded, 'is poor
and unable to defend itself. If he do fall out before the beginning of
next summer, there is neither outlaw, rebel, murderer, thief, nor any
lewd nor evil-disposed person--of whom God knoweth there is plenty
swarming in every quarter among the wild Irish, yea and in our own
border too--which would not join to do what mischief they might.'

But Shane did not wait for further royal overtures. He saw that with
the English Government might was right, and that the justice of his
cause shone out more brightly in proportion to the increase of his
power. Thus encouraged in his course of aggression and conquest, he
seized the Queen's Castles of Newry and Dundrum. He then marched into
Connaught, demanding the tribute due of old time 'to them that were
kings in that realm.' He exacted pledges of obedience from the western
chiefs, and spoiled O'Rourke's country, and returned to Tyrone driving
before him 4,000 head of cattle. While proceeding at this rate he
wrote soothing and flattering words to the Queen. It was for her
majesty he was fighting; he was chastising her enemies and breaking
stiff-necked chiefs into her yoke; and he begged that she would not
credit any stories which his ill-willers might spread abroad against
him. On the contrary he hoped she would determine his title and rule
without delay, and grant him, in consideration of his good services,
some augmentation of living in the Pale. Elizabeth, however, excused
his conduct, saying 'we must allow something for his wild bringing-up,
and not expect from him what we should expect from a perfect subject.
If he mean well he shall have all his reasonable requests granted.'

But there was among Elizabeth's advisers a statesman who felt that
this sort of policy would never do. Sir Henry Sidney, on being
requested to take charge of the Government of Ireland, urged the
absolute necessity of a radical change. The power of O'Neill, and such
rulers as he, must be utterly broken, and that by force, at whatever
cost. And this, he argued, would not only be sound policy but true
economy. The condition of Ireland was unexampled; free from foreign
invasion, the sovereignty of the Queen not denied, yet the revenue so
mean and scanty that 'great yearly treasures were carried out of the
realm of England to satisfy the stipends of the officers and soldiers
required for the governance of the same.' He must have 10,000 l.
or 12,000 l. to pay out-standing debts and put the army in proper
condition. As for his own remuneration, the new viceroy, as he could
expect nothing from the Queen, would be content with permission to
export six thousand kerseys and clothes, free of duty.

Sir Henry Sidney struck out the only line of policy by which the
English government of Ireland could be made successful or even
possible. He said: 'To go to work by force will be chargeable, it is
true; but if you will give the people justice and minister law among
them, and exercise the sword of the sovereign, and put away the sword
of the subject, _omnia hæc adjicientur vobis_--you shall drive the now
man of war to be an husbandman, and he that now liveth like a lord
to live like a servant, and the money now spent in buying armour, and
horses, and waging of war, shall be bestowed in building of towns and
houses. By ending these incessant wars ere they be aware, you shall
bereave them both of force and beggary, and make them weak and
wealthy. Then you can convert the military service due from the lords
into money; then you can take up the fisheries now left to the French
and the Spaniards; then you can open and work your mines, and the
people will be able to grant you subsidies.'[1] When the lord deputy
arrived in Ireland he found a state of things in the Pale far worse
than he could have imagined. It was 'as it were overwhelmed with
vagabonds; plunder and spoils daily carried out of it; the people
miserable; not two gentlemen in the whole of it able to lend 20 l.;
without horse, armour, apparel, or victual. The soldiers were worse
than the people: so beggarlike as it would abhor a general to look on
them; never a married wife among them, and therefore so allied with
Irishwomen that they betrayed secrets, and could not be trusted on
dangerous service; so insolent as to be intolerable; so rooted in
idleness as there was no hope by correction to amend them.' In Munster
a man might ride twenty or thirty miles and find no houses standing
in a country which he had known as well inhabited as many counties in
England. 'In Ulster,' Sidney wrote, 'there tyrannizeth the prince of
pride; Lucifer was never more puffed up with pride and ambition than
that O'Neill is; he is at present the only strong and rich man in
Ireland, and he is the dangerest man and most like to bring the whole
estate of this land to subversion and subjugation either to him or
to some foreign prince, that ever was in Ireland.' He invited this
Lucifer to come into the Pale to see him, and Shane at first agreed to
meet him at Dundalk, but on second thoughts he politely declined, on
the ground that the Earl of Sussex had twice attempted to assassinate
him, and but for the Earl of Kildare would have put a lock upon
his hands when he was passing through Dublin to England. Hence his
'timorous and mistrustful people' would not trust him any more in
English hands. In fact O'Neill despised any honours the Queen could
confer upon him. 'When the wine was in him he boasted that he was in
blood and power better than the best of their earls, and he would give
place to none but his cousin of Kildare, because he was of his own
house. They had made a wise earl of M'Carthymore, but Shane kept as
good a man as he. Whom was he to trust? Sussex gave him a safe-conduct
and then offered him the courtesy of a handlock. The Queen had told
him herself that, though he had got a safe-conduct to come and go, the
document did not say when he was to go; and, in order to get away
from London, he was obliged to agree to things against his honour
and profit, and he would never perform them while he lived.' That
treachery drove him into war. 'My ancestors,' he said, 'were kings
of Ulster; and Ulster is mine, and shall be mine. O'Donel shall
never come into his country, nor Bagenal into Newry, nor Kildare into
Dundrum, or Lecale. They are now mine. With this sword I won them,
with this sword I will keep them.' Sidney, indignant at these
pretensions, wrote thus to Leicester: 'No Atila nor Yotila, no Vandal
nor Goth that ever was, was more to be dreaded for over-running any
part of Christendom, than this man is for over-running and spoiling of
Ireland. If it be an angel of heaven that will say that ever O'Neill
will be a good subject till he be thoroughly chastised, believe him
not, but think him a spirit of error. Surely if the queen do not
chastise him in Ulster, he will chase all hers out of Ireland. Her
majesty must make up her mind to the expense, and chastise this
cannibal.' He therefore demanded money that he might pay the garrison
and get rid of the idle, treacherous, incorrigible soldiers which
were worse than none. Ireland, he said, would be no small loss to the
English crown. It was never so likely to be lost as then, and he would
rather die than that it should be lost during his government. The
queen, however, sent money with the greatest possible reluctance, and
was strangely dissatisfied with this able and faithful servant, even
when his measures were attended with signal success.

[Footnote 1: Opinions of Sir H. Sidney, Irish MSS., Rolls House;
Froude, p.385.]

In the meantime O'Neill zealously espoused the cause of Mary Queen of
Scots. His friendship with Argyle grew closer, and he proposed that it
should be cemented by a marriage. 'The countess' was to be sent away,
and Shane was to be united to the widow of James M'Connell, whom he
had killed--who was another half-sister of Argyle, and whose daughter
he had married already and divorced. Sidney wrote, that was said to be
the earl's practice; and Mr. Froude, who has celebrated the virtues
of Henry VIII., takes occasion from this facility of divorce to have
another fling at 'Irish nature.' He says:--'The Irish chiefs, it
seemed, three thousand years behind the world, retained the habits
and the moralities of the Greek princes in the tale of Troy, when
the bride of the slaughtered husband was the willing prize of the
conqueror; and when only a rare Andromache was found to envy the fate
of a sister

    Who had escaped the bed of some victorious lord.'

After a brief and brilliant campaign, in which Shane 'swept round by
Lough Erne, swooped on the remaining cattle of Maguire, and struck
terror and admiration into the Irishry,' he wrote a letter to Charles
IX. of France, inviting his co-operation in expelling the heretics,
and bringing back the country to the holy Roman see. The heretic
Saxons, he said, were the enemies of Almighty God, the enemies of the
holy Church of Rome, the King's enemies, and his. 'The time is come
when we all are confederates in a common bond to drive the invader
from our shores, and we now beseech your Majesty to send us 6,000
well-armed men. If you will grant our request there will soon be no
Englishmen left alive among us, and we will be your Majesty's subjects
ever more.' This letter was intercepted, and is now preserved among
the Irish MSS.

Sidney resolved to adopt a new plan of warfare. His campaigns would
not be mere summer forays, mere inroads of devastation during the few
dry weeks of August and September. He would wait till the harvest
was gathered in, place troops in fortresses, and continue hostilities
through the winter. He adopted this course because 'in the cold Irish
springs, the fields were bare, the cattle were lean, and the weather
was so uncertain that neither man nor horse could bear it, whereas
in August _food everywhere was abundant_, and the soldiers would have
time to become hardened to their work.' They could winter somewhere on
the Bann; harry Tyrone night and day without remission, and so break
Shane to the ground and ruin him. There was no time to be lost.
Maguire had come into Dublin, reporting that his last cottage was in
ashes, and his last cow driven over the hill into Shane's country;
while Argyle, with the whole disposable force of the western isles,
was expected to join him in summer. O'Neill himself, after an abortive
attempt to entrap Sidney at Dundalk, made a sudden attack on that town
in July; but his men were beaten back, 'and eighteen heads were left
behind to grin hideously over the gates.' He then returned to Armagh
and burned the cathedral to the ground, to prevent its being again
occupied by an English garrison. He next sent a swift messenger to
Desmond, calling for a rising in Munster. 'Now was the time or never'
to set upon the enemies of Ireland. If Desmond failed, or turned
against his country, God would avenge it on him. But Desmond's reply
was an offer to the deputy 'to go against the rebel with all his
power. The Scots also held back.' Shane offered them all Antrim to
join him, all the cattle in the country, and the release of Sorleyboy
from captivity; but Antrim and its cattle they believed that they
could recover for themselves, and James M'Connell had left a brother
Allaster, who was watching with eager eyes for an opportunity to
revenge the death of his kinsman, and the dishonour with which Shane
had stained his race.

In the meantime troops and money came over from England, and on
September 17, Colonel Randolph was at the head of an army in Lough
Foyle; and the lord deputy took the field accompanied by Kildare, the
old O'Donel, Shane Maguire, and O'Dogherty. So that this war against
O'Neill was waged for the dispossessed Irish chiefs as well as for
England. Armagh city they found a mere heap of blackened stones.
Marching without obstruction to Ben brook, one of O'Neill's best and
largest houses, which they found 'utterly burned and razed to the
ground,' thence they went on towards Clogher, 'through pleasant
fields, and villages so well inhabited as no Irish county in the realm
was like it.' The Bishop of Clogher was out with Shane in the field.
'His well-fattened flock were devoured by Sidney's men as by a flight
of Egyptian locusts.' 'There we stayed,' said Sidney, 'to destroy the
corn; we burned the country for 124 miles compass, and we found by
experience that now was the time of the year to do the rebel most
harm.' But he says not a word of the harm he was doing to the poor
innocent peasantry, whose industry had produced the crops, to the
terrified women and children whom he was thus consigning to a horrible
lingering death by famine. This was a strange commencement of his own
programme to treat the people with justice.

The lord deputy expected to meet Randolph at Lifford; but struck with
the singular advantages presented by Derry, then an island, for a
military position, he pitched his tents there, and set the troops to
work in erecting fortifications. Nothing then stood on the site of
the present city, save a decrepid and deserted monastery of Augustine
monks, which was said to have been built in the time of St. Columba.

Sidney stayed a few days at Derry, and then, leaving Randolph with
650 men, 350 pioneers, and provisions for two months, he marched on
to Donegal. This was once a thriving town, inhabited by English
colonists. At the time of Sidney's arrival it was a pile of ruins,
'in the midst of which, like a wild beast's den, strewed round with
mangled bones, rose the largest and strongest castle which he had seen
in Ireland. It was held by one of O'Donel's kinsmen, to whom Shane,
to attach him to his cause, had given his sister to wife. At the
appearance of the old chief with the English army, it was immediately
surrendered. O'Donel was at last rewarded for his fidelity and
sufferings; and the whole tribe, with eager protestations of
allegiance, gave sureties for their future loyalty.' Sidney next
directed his march to Ballyshannon, and on by the coast of Sligo.
Passing over the bogs and mountains of Mayo, they came into Roscommon,
and then, 'leaving behind them as fruitful a country as was in
England or Ireland all utterly waste,' the army crossed the Shannon at
Athlone, swimming 'for lack of a bridge.' The results of this progress
are thus summed up by Mr. Froude. 'Twenty castles had been taken as
they went along and left in hands that could be trusted. In all that
long and painful journey Sidney was able to say that there had not
died of sickness but three persons; men and horses were brought
back in full health and strength, while her majesty's honour
was re-established among the Irishry, and grown to no small
veneration--"an expedition comparable only to Alexander's journey into
Bactria," wrote an admirer of Sidney to Cecil--revealing what to Irish
eyes appeared the magnitude of the difficulty, and forming a measure
of the effect which it produced. The English deputy had bearded Shane
in his stronghold, burned his houses, pillaged his people, and had
fastened a body of police in the midst of them, to keep them waking
in the winter nights. He had penetrated the hitherto impregnable
fortresses of mountain and morass; the Irish who had been faithful to
England were again in safe possession of their lands and homes. The
weakest, maddest, and wildest Celts were made aware that, when the
English were once roused to effort, they could crush them as the lion
crushes the jackal.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Vol. viii. p.407.]

O'Neill had followed the lord deputy to Lifford, and then marched on
to the Pale, expecting to retaliate upon the invaders with impunity.
But he was encountered by Warren St. Leger, lost 200 men, and was at
first hunted back over the border. He again returned, however, with
'a main army,' burned several villages, and in a second fight with St.
Leger, compelled the English to retire, 'for lack of more aid;' but
they held together in good order, and Shane, with the Derry garrison
in his rear, durst not follow far from home in pursuit. 'Before he
could revenge himself on Sidney, before he could stir against the
Scots, before he could strike a blow at O'Donel, he must pluck out the
barbed dart which was fastened in his unguarded side.'

In order to accomplish this object, he hovered cautiously about
the Foyle, watching for an opportunity to attack the garrison. But
Randolph fell upon him by surprise, and after a short sharp action,
the O'Neills gave way. O'Dogherty with his Irish horse chased the
flying crowd of his countrymen, killing every person he caught; and
Shane lost 400 men, the bravest of his warriors. The English success
was dearly bought, for Randolph leading the pursuit, was struck by a
random shot, and fell dead from his horse.

Before the Irish chief could recover from this great disaster, Sidney
'struck in again beyond Dundalk, burning his farms and capturing his
castles. The Scots came in over the Bann, wasting the country all
along the river side. Allaster M'Connell, like some chief of Sioux
Indians, sent to the captain of Knockfergus an account of the cattle
that he had driven, and _the wives and bairns_ that he had slain. Like
swarms of angry hornets, these avenging savages drove their stings in
the now maddened and desperate Shane on every point where they could
fasten; while in December the old O'Donel came out over the mountains
from Donegal, and paid back O'Neill with interest for his stolen wife,
his pillaged country, and his own long imprisonment and exile. The
tide of fortune had turned too late for his own revenge: worn out
with his long sufferings, he fell from his horse, at the head of his
people, with the stroke of death upon him; but before he died, he
called his kinsmen about him, and prayed them to be true to England
and their queen, and Hugh O'Donel, who succeeded to his father's
command, went straight to Derry, and swore allegiance to the English

'Tyrone was now smitten in all its borders. Magennis was the last
powerful chief who still adhered to Shane's fortunes; the last week in
the year Sidney carried fire and sword through his country, and left
him not a hoof remaining. It was to no purpose that Shane, bewildered
by the rapidity with which disasters were piling themselves upon him,
cried out now for pardon and peace; the deputy would not answer his
letter, and nothing was talked of but his extirpation by war only.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, p.413.]

The war, however, was interrupted by a singular calamity that befel
the Derry garrison. By the death of their commander left 'a headless
people,' they suffered from want of food and clothing. They also
became the prey of a mysterious disease, against which no precautions
could guard, which no medicine could cure, and by which strong men
were suddenly struck dead. By the middle of November 'the flux was
reigning among them wonderfully;' many of the best men went away
because there was none to stay them. The secret of the dreadful
malady--something like the cholera--was discovered in the fact that
the soldiers had built their sleeping quarters over the burial-ground
of the abbey, 'and the clammy vapour had stolen into their lungs and
poisoned them.' The officer who succeeded to the command applied the
most effectual remedy. He led the men at once into the pure air of the
enemies' country, and they returned after a few days driving before
them 700 horses and 1,000 cattle. He assured Sidney, that with 300
additional men, he could so hunt the rebel, that ere May was passed,
he should not show his face in Ulster. But the 'Black Death' returned
after a brief respite; and, says Mr. Froude, in the reeking vapour of
the charnel-house, it was indifferent whether its victims returned in
triumph from a stricken field, or were cooped within their walls by
hordes of savage enemies. By the middle of March there were left out
of 1,100 but 300 available to fight. Reinforcements had been raised at
Liverpool, but they were countermanded when on the point of sailing.
The English council was discussing the propriety of removing the
colony to the Bann, when accident finished the work which the plague
had begun, and spared them the trouble of deliberation. The huts
and sheds round the monastery had been huddled together for the
convenience of fortification. At the end of April, probably after
a drying east wind, a fire broke out in a blacksmith's forge, which
spread irresistibly through the entire range of buildings. The flames
at last reached the powder magazine: thirty men were blown to pieces
by the explosion, and the rest, paralysed by this last addition
to their misfortunes, made no more effort to extinguish the
conflagration. St. Loo, with all that remained of that ill-fated
party, watched from their provision boats in the river the utter
destruction of the settlement which had begun so happily, and then
sailed drearily away to find a refuge in Knockfergus. Such was the
fate of the first efforts for the building of Londonderry; and below
its later glories, as so often happens in this world, lay the bones
of many a hundred gallant men who lost their lives in laying its
foundations. Elizabeth, who in the immediate pressure of calamity
resumed at once her noble nature, 'perceiving the misfortune not
to come of treason, but of God's ordinance,' bore it well; she was
willing to do that should be wanting to repair the loss; and Cecil was
able to write cheerfully to Sidney, telling him to make the best of
the accident and let it stimulate him to fresh exertions.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Page 410.]

In the meantime Shane O'Neill, hard pressed on every side, earnestly
implored the cardinals of Lorraine and Guise, in the name of their
great brother the duke, to bring the _Fleur-de-lys_ to the rescue of
Ireland from the grasp of the ungodly English. 'Help us,' he cried,
blending _Irish-like_ flattery with entreaty: 'when I was in England,
I saw your noble brother, the Marquis d'Elboeuf, transfix two stags
with a single arrow. If the most Christian king will not help us,
move the pope to help us. I alone in this land sustain his cause.' To
propitiate his holiness, Primate Daniel was dismissed to the ranks
of the army, and Creagh received his crosier, and was taken into
O'Neill's household.

'All was done,' says the English historian, 'to deserve favour
in earth and heaven, but all was useless. The Pope sat silent or
muttering his anathemas with bated breath. The Guises had work enough
on hand at home to heed the _Irish wolf_, whom the English, having in
vain attempted to trap or poison, were driving to bay with more lawful
weapons.' His own people, divided and dispirited, began now to desert
the failing cause. In May, by a concerted movement, the deputy with
the light horse of the Pale overran Tyrone, and robbed the farmers
of 3,000 cattle, while the O'Donels mustered their forces for a great
contest with Shane, now struggling, almost hopelessly, to maintain
his supremacy. The O'Neills and O'Donels met on the banks of the Foyle
near Lifford. The former were superior in number, being about 3,000
men. After a brief fight 'the O'Neills broke and fled; the enemy was
behind them, the river was in front; and when the Irish battle cries
had died away over moor and mountain, but 200 survived of those fierce
troopers, who were to have cleared Ireland for ever from the presence
of the Saxons. For the rest, the wolves were snarling over their
bodies, and the seagulls whirling over them with scream and cry, as
they floated down to their last resting-place beneath the quiet waters
of Lough Foyle. Shane's foster-brethren, faithful to the last, were
all killed; he himself with half-a-dozen comrades rode for his life,
pursued by the avenging furies. His first desperate intention was to
throw himself at Sidney's feet, _with a slave's collar upon his neck_;
but his secretary, Neil M'Kevin, persuaded him that his cause was not
yet absolutely without hope. Sorleyboy was still a prisoner in the
castle at Lough Neagh, the Countess of Argyle had remained with her
ravisher through his shifting fortunes, had continued to bear him
children, and notwithstanding his many infidelities, was still
attached to him. M'Kevin told him that for their sakes, or at their
intercession, he might find shelter and perhaps help among the kindred
of the M'Connells.'

Acting on this advice, O'Neill took his prisoner, 'the countess, his
secretary, and fifty men to the camp of Allaster M'Connell, in the
far extremity of Antrim. He was received with dissembled gratulatory
words.' For two days all went on well, and an alliance was talked of.
But the vengeance of his hosts was with difficulty suppressed. The
great chief who was now in their power, had slain their leaders in the
field, had divorced James M'Connell's daughter, had kept a high-born
Scottish lady as his mistress, and had asked Argyle to give him for a
wife M'Connell's widow, who, to escape the dishonour, had remained in
concealment at Edinburgh. On the third evening, Monday June 2, when
the wine and the whiskey had gone freely round, and the blood in
Shane's veins had warmed, Gilespie M'Connell, who had watched him from
the first with an ill-boding eye, turned round upon M'Kevin, and asked
scornfully, 'whether it was he who had bruited abroad that the lady
his aunt did offer to come from Scotland to Ireland to marry with his

M'Kevin meeting scorn with scorn said, that if his aunt was Queen of
Scotland she might be proud to match with the O'Neill. 'It is false,'
the fierce Scot shouted; 'my aunt is too honest a woman to match with
her husband's murderer.'

'Shane, who was perhaps drunk, heard the words, and forgetting where
he was, flung back the lie in Gilespie's throat. Gilespie sprung to
his feet, ran out of the tent, and raised the slogan of the Isles. A
hundred dirks flashed into the moonlight, and the Irish, wherever they
could be found, were struck down and stabbed. Some two or three
found their horses and escaped, all the rest were murdered; and Shane
himself, gashed with fifty wounds, was wrapped in a kern's old shirt,
and flung into a pit, dug hastily among the ruined arches of Glenarm.
Even there, what was left of him was not allowed to rest. Four days
later, Piers, the captain of Knockfergus, hacked the head from the
body, and carried it on a spear's point through Drogheda to Dublin,
where, staked upon a pike, it bleached on the battlements of the
castle, a symbol to the Irish world of the fate of Celtic heroes.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, p.418, &c.]

Mr. Froude might have added: Celtic heroes struck down by Celtic
hands. No lord deputy could boast of a victory over Shane O'Neill
in the field. Irish traitors in English pay, Irish clans moved by
vengeance, did the work of England in the destruction of the great
principality of the O'Neills, and it was by _their_ swords, not
by English valour, that Sidney 'recovered Ireland for the crown of
Elizabeth.' Whatever may have been the faults of Shane O'Neill, and no
doubt they were very great, though not to be judged of by the morality
of the nineteenth century, his talents, his force of character, his
courage and capacity as a general, deserved more favourable notice
from Mr. Froude, who, in almost every sentence of his graphic and
splendid descriptions, betrays an animosity to the Celtic race,
very strange in an author so enlightened, and evincing, with this
exception, such generous sympathies. After so often reviling the
great Irish champion by comparing him to all sorts of wild beasts, the
historian thus concludes:--

'So died Shane O'Neill, one of those champions of Irish nationality,
who under varying features have repeated themselves in the history of
that country with periodic regularity. At once a _drunken ruffian_,
and a keen and fiery patriot, the representative in his birth of the
line of the ancient kings, the ideal in his character of all which
Irishmen most admired, regardless in his actions of the laws of God
and man, yet the devoted subject in his creed of the holy Catholic
Church; with an eye which could see far beyond the limits of his own
island, and a tongue which could touch the most passionate chords
of the Irish heart; the like of him has been seen many times in that
island, and the like of him may be seen many times again till the
Ethiopian has changed his skin, and the leopard his spots. Numbers of
his letters remain, to the Queen, to Sussex, to Sidney, to Cecil,
and to foreign princes; far-reaching, full of pleasant flattery and
promises which cost him nothing, but showing true ability and insight.
Sinner though he was, he too in his turn was sinned against; in the
stained page of Irish misrule there is no second instance in which
an English ruler stooped to treachery, or to the infamy of attempted
assassination; and it is not to be forgotten that Lord Sussex, who has
left under his own hand the evidence of his own baseness, continued a
trusted and favoured councillor of Elizabeth, while Sidney, who fought
Shane and conquered him in the open field, found only suspicion and
hard words.'



Mr. Froude's magnificent chapter on Ireland, in the eleventh volume
of his history, just published, ought to be studied by every member of
the legislature before parliament meets. If a nation has a conscience,
England must feel remorse for the deeds done in her name in Ireland;
and ought to make amends for them, if possible. The historian has well
described the policy of Queen Elizabeth. She was at times disposed to
forbearance, but 'she made impossible the obedience she enjoined. Her
deputies and her presidents, too short-sighted to rule with justice,
were driven to cruelty in spite of themselves. It was easier to kill
than to restrain. Death was the only gaoler which their finances could
support, while the Irish in turn lay in wait to retaliate upon their
oppressors, and atrocity begat atrocity in hopeless continuity.'

Whenever there was a failing in any enterprise, the queen conceived 'a
great misliking of the whole matter;' but success covered a multitude
of sins. When the Irish were powerful, and the colony was in danger,
she thought it 'a hard matter to subvert the customs of the people
which they had enjoyed, to be ruled by the captains of their own
nation. Let the chiefs sue for pardon, and submit to her authority,
and she would let them have their seignories, their captaincies, their
body-guards, and all the rest of their dignities, with power of life
and death over their people. But,' says Mr. Froude, 'it was the curse
of the English rule that it never could adhere consistently to any
definite principle. It threatened, and failed to execute its threats.
It fell back on conciliation, and yet immediately, by some injustice
or cruelty, made reliance on its good faith impossible.'

Essex seemed to understand well the nature and motive of the queen's
professions, and he resolved to make some bold attempts to win back
her favour. He had made a sudden attack on Sir Brian O'Neill of
Clandeboye, with troops trained in the wars of the Low Countries, and
in a week he brought him to abject submission, which he expressed by
saying that 'he had gone wickedly astray, wandering in the wilderness
like a blind beast.' But it was the misfortune of Sir Brian, or
M'Phelim, that he still held his own territory, which had been
granted by the queen to Essex. 'The attempt to deprive him had been
relinquished. He had surrendered his lands, and the queen, at Essex's
own intercession, had reinstated him as tenant under the crown. It
seems, however, as if Essex had his eye still upon the property.'
Under such circumstances, it was easy to assume that O'Neill was still
playing false. So he resolved that he should not be able to do so any
longer. 'He determined to make sure work with so fickle a people.' He
returned to Clandeboye, as if on a friendly visit. Sir Brian and Lady
O'Neill received him with all hospitality. The Irish Annalists say
that they gave him a banquet. They not only let him off safe, but they
accompanied him to his castle at Belfast. There he was very gracious.
A high feast was held in the hall; and it was late in the night when
the noble guest and his wife retired to their lodging outside the
walls. When they were supposed to be asleep, a company of soldiers
surrounded the house and prepared to break the door. 'The O'Neills
flew to arms. The cry rang through the village, and the people swarmed
out to defend their chief; but surprised, half-armed, and outnumbered,
they were overpowered and cut to pieces. Two hundred men were killed.
The Four Masters add that the women were slain. The chieftain's wife
had female attendants with her, and no one was knowingly spared. The
tide being out, a squadron of horse was sent at daybreak over the
water into the "Ardes," from which, in a few hours, they returned with
3,000 of Sir Brian's cattle, and with a drove of stud mares, of which
the choicest were sent to Fitzwilliam. Sir Brian himself, his brother,
and Lady O'Neill, were carried as prisoners to Dublin, where they were
soon after executed.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, vol. xi. p.179.]

Essex did not miscalculate the probable effect of this exploit. It
raised him high in the estimation of the Anglo-Irish of the Pale. 'The
taint of the country was upon him; he had made himself no better than
themselves, and was the hero of the hour.' The effect of such conduct
and such a spirit in the rulers, may be imagined. A few weeks later,
Sir Edward Fitton wrote: 'I may say of Ireland, that it is quiet;
but if universal oppression of the mean sort by the great; if murder,
robberies, burnings make an ill commonwealth, then I cannot say we are
in a good case ... Public sentiment in Dublin, however, was unanimous
in its approbation. Essex was the man who would cauterize the
long-standing sores. There was a soldier in Ireland at last who
understood the work that was to be done, and the way to set about it.
Beloved by the soldiers, admirable alike for religion, nobility, and
courtesy, altogether the queen's, and not bewitched by the factions
of the realm, the governor of Ulster had but to be armed with supreme
power, and the long-wished-for conquest of Ireland would be easily and
instantly achieved.'

These feelings were not unnatural to the party in Dublin, now
represented by the men who recently declared that they rejoiced in
the election of a Fenian convict in Tipperary, and declared that they
would vote for such a candidate in preference to a loyal man. But how
did Queen Elizabeth receive the news of the treacherous and atrocious
massacre at Belfast? She was not displeased. 'Her occasional
disapprobation of severities of this kind,' says Mr. Froude, 'was
confined to cases to which the attention of Europe happened to be
especially directed. She told Essex that he was a great ornament of
her nobility, she wished she had many as ready as he to spend their
lives for the benefit of their country.'

Thus encouraged by his sovereign, and smarting under the reproach of
cowardice cast on him by Leicester, Essex determined to render his
name illustrious by a still more signal deed of heroism. After an
unprovoked raid on the territories of O'Neill in Tyrone, carrying
off cattle and slaughtering great numbers of innocent people whom
his soldiers hunted down, he perpetrated another massacre, which is
certainly one of the most infamous recorded in history. A great
number of women and children, aged and sick persons, had fled from the
horrors that reigned on the mainland, and taken refuge in the island
of Rathlin. The story of their tragic fate is admirably told by Mr.
Froude:--'The situation and the difficulty of access had thus long
marked Rathlin as a place of refuge for Scotch or Irish fugitives,
and, besides its natural strength, it was respected as a sanctuary,
having been the abode at one time of St. Columba. A mass of broken
masonry, on a cliff overhanging the sea, is a remnant of the castle in
which Robert Bruce watched the leap of the legendary spider. To this
island, when Essex entered Antrim, M'Connell and other Scots had sent
their wives and children, their aged and their sick, for safety. On
his way through Carrickfergus, when returning to Dublin, the earl
ascertained that they had not yet been brought back to their homes.
The officer in command of the English garrison (it is painful to
mention the name either of him, or of any man concerned in what
ensued) was John Norris, Lord Norris's second son, so famous
afterwards in the Low Countries, grandson of Sir Henry Norris,
executed for adultery with Anne Boleyn. Three small frigates were in
the harbour. The summer had been hot and windless; the sea was smooth,
there was a light and favourable air from the east; and Essex directed
Norris to take a company of soldiers with him, cross over, and--'

What? Bring those women and children, those sick and aged folk, back
to their homes? Essex had made peace by treaty with the O'Neill. He
had killed or chased away every man that could disturb the peace;
and an act of humanity like this would have had a most conciliatory
effect, and ought to recommend the hero to the queen, who should be
supposed to have the heart as well as the form of a woman.

No; the order was, to go over '_and kill whatever he could find!_' Mr.
Froude resumes: 'The run of the Antrim coast was rapidly and quietly
accomplished. Before an alarm could be given, the English had landed,
close to the ruins of the church which bears St. Columba's name.
Bruce's castle was then standing, and was occupied by a score or two
of Scots, who were in charge of the women. But Norris had brought
cannon with him. The weak defences were speedily destroyed, and after
a severe assault, in which several of the garrison were killed, the
chief who was in command offered to surrender, if he and his people
were allowed to return to Scotland. The conditions were rejected. The
Scots yielded at discretion, and every living creature in the place,
except the chief and his family (who were probably reserved for
ransom), was immediately put to the sword. Two hundred were killed in
the castle. It was then discovered that several hundred more, chiefly
mothers and their little ones, were hidden in the caves about
the shore. There was no remorse, nor even the faintest shadow of
perception that the occasion called for it. They were hunted out as if
they had been seals or otters, and all destroyed. Sorleyboy and other
chiefs, Essex coolly wrote, had sent their wives and children into the
island, "which be all taken and executed to the number of six hundred.
Sorleyboy himself," he continued, "stood upon the mainland of the
Glynnes and saw the taking of the island, and was likely to have run
mad for sorrow, tearing and tormenting himself, and saying that he
there lost all that he ever had!" The impression left upon the mind by
this horrible story, is increased by the composure with which even the
news of it was received. "Yellow-haired Charley," wrote Essex to
the queen, "might tear himself for his pretty little ones and
their _dam_," but in Ireland itself the massacre was not specially
distinguished in the general system of atrocity. Essex described it
himself as one of the exploits with which he was most satisfied; and
Elizabeth, in answer to his letters, bade him tell John Norris, "the
executioner of his well-designed enterprise, that she would not be
unmindful of his services."'

I have transcribed this narrative partly for the sake of the
reflection with which Mr. Froude concludes. He says: 'But though
passed over and unheeded at the time, and lying buried for three
hundred years, the bloody stain comes back to the light again, not in
myth or legend, but in the original account of the nobleman by whose
command the deed was done; and when the history of England's dealings
with Ireland settles at last into its final shape, that hunt among the
caves at Rathlin will not be forgotten.'[1] It was for services like
these that Essex got the barony of Farney, in the county Monaghan. He
had mortgaged his English estates to the queen for 10,000 l.,and after
his plundering expeditions in Ireland he went home to pay his debts.

[Footnote 1: History of England, vol. xi. p.184.]

Further on Mr. Froude has another reflection connected with the death
of Essex, supposed to have been poisoned, as his widow immediately
after married Leicester. He says: 'Notwithstanding Rathlin, Essex was
one of the noblest of living Englishmen, and that such a man could
have ordered such a deed, being totally unconscious of the horror of
it, is not the least instructive feature in the dreadful story.' It
is certainly a strange fact that nearly all the official murderers who
ruled in Ireland in those times were intensely religious, setting
to their own class a most edifying example of piety. Thus, from the
first, Protestantism was presented to the Irish in close connexion
with brutal inhumanity and remorseless cruelty. Essex, when dying, was
described by the bystanders as acting 'more like a divine preacher or
heavenly prophet than a man.' His opinion of the religious character
of his countrymen was most unfavourable. 'The Gospel had been preached
to them,' he said, 'but they were neither Papists nor Protestants--of
no religion, but full of pride and iniquity. There was nothing but
infidelity, infidelity, infidelity!--atheism, atheism!--no religion,
no religion!' What such tiger-like slaughterers of women and children,
such ruthless destroyers, could have meant by religion is a puzzle for

Sidney reluctantly resumed the office of viceroy in 1575. Tirlogh
O'Neill congratulated the Government on his appointment, 'wretched
Ireland needing not the sword, but sober, temperate, and humane
administration.' Though it was winter, the new deputy immediately
commenced a progress through the provinces. Going first to Ulster, he
saw Sorleyboy, and gave him back Rathlin. He paid a friendly visit
to the O'Neill, who gave him an assurance of his loyalty. Leinster he
found for the most part 'waste, burnt up and destroyed.' He proceeded
by Waterford to Cork. He was received everywhere with acclamation.
'The wretched people,' says Mr. Froude, how truly!--'sanguine then, as
ever, in the midst of sorrow, looked on his coming as the inauguration
of a new and happier era.' So, in later times, they looked on the
coming of Chesterfield, and Fitzwilliam, and Anglesey. But the good
angel was quickly chased away by the evil demon--invoked under the
name of the 'Protestant Interest.' The Munster and the Connaught
chiefs all thronged to Sidney's levées, weary of disaffection, and
willing to be loyal, if their religion were not interfered with,
'detesting their barbarous lives,'--promising rent and service for
their lands. 'The past was wiped out. Confiscation on the one hand,
and rebellion on the other, were to be heard of no more. A clean page
was turned.' Even the Catholic bishops were tractable, and the viceroy
got 'good and honest juries in Cork, and with their help twenty-four
malefactors were honourably condemned and hanged.' Enjoying an ovation
as he passed on to Limerick and Galway, he found many grievances to be
redressed--'plenty of burnings, rapes, murders, besides such spoil
in goods and cattle as in number might be counted infinite, and in
quantity innumerable.'

Sir William Drury was appointed president of Munster; and he was
determined that in his case the magistrate should not bear the sword
in vain. Going round the counties as an itinerant judge, he gleaned
the malefactors Sidney had left, and hanged forty-three of them
in Cork. One he pressed to death for declining to plead to his
indictment. Two M'Sweenys, from Kerry, were drawn and quartered. At
Limerick he hanged forty-two, and at Kilkenny thirty-six, among which
he said were 'some good ones,' as a sportsman might say, bagging his
game. He had a difficulty with 'a blackamoor and two witches,' against
whom he found no statute of the realm, so he dispatched them 'by
natural law.' Although Jeffreys, at the Bloody Assizes, did not come
near Drury, the latter found it necessary to apologise to the English
Government for the paucity of his victims, saying, 'I have chosen
rather with the snail tenderly to creep, than with the hare swiftly to
run.' With the Government in Ireland, as Mr. Froude has well remarked,
'the gallows is the only preacher of righteousness.'

But the gallows was far too slow, as an instrument of reform and
civilisation, for Malby, president of Connaught; and as modern
evictors in that province and elsewhere have chosen Christmas as the
most appropriate season for pulling down dwellings, extinguishing
domestic fires, and unhousing women and children, so Malby chose the
same blessed season for his 'improvements' in 1576. It is such a model
for dealing with the Fenians and tenants on the Tory plan, that I
transcribe his own report, which Mr. Froude has found among the Irish
MSS. 'At Christmas,' he wrote, 'I marched into their territory, and
finding courteous dealing with them had like to have cut my throat,
I thought good to take another course; and so with determination _to
consume them with fire and sword, sparing neither old nor young_,
I entered their mountains. I burnt all their corn and houses, and
committed to the sword all that could be found, where were slain
at that time above sixty of their best men, and among them the best
leaders they had. This was Shan Burke's country. Then I burnt Ulick
Burke's country. In like manner I assaulted a castle where the
garrison surrendered. I put them to the misericordia of my soldiers.
They were all slain. Thence I went on, sparing none which came in my
way, which cruelty did so amaze their followers, that they could not
tell where to bestow themselves. Shan Burke made means to me to pardon
him and forbear killing of his people. I would not hearken, but went
on my way. The gentlemen of Clanrickard came to me. I found it was but
dallying to win time, so I left Ulick as little corn and as few houses
standing as I left his brother; and what people was found had as
little favour as the other had. _It was all done in rain and frost
and storm_, journeys in such weather bringing them the sooner to
submission. They are humble enough now, and will yield to any terms we
like to offer them.'

And so Malby and his soldiers enjoyed a merry Christmas; and when
Walsingham read his letters, giving an account of his civilising
progress, to the Queen, she, too, must have enjoyed a fresh sensation,
a new pleasure amidst the festivities and gallantries of her brilliant
court. Mr. Froude has rendered a timely service in this Christmas
time to the Coercionists, the Martial Law men, and the Habeas Corpus
Suspension men of our own day. He has shown them their principles at
work and carried out with a vengeance, and with what results! He has
admirably sketched the progress of English rule in Ireland up to
that time--a rule unchanged in principle to the present hour, though
restrained in its operation by the spirit of the age. Mr. Froude says:
'When the people were quiet, there was the rope for the malefactors,
and death by the natural law for those whom the law written could not
touch. When they broke out, there was the blazing homestead, and death
by the sword for all, not for the armed kerne only, but for the aged
and infirm, the nursing mother and the baby at her breast. These, with
ruined churches, and Irish rogues for ministers,--these, and so far
_only_ these were the symbols of the advance of English rule; yet even
Sidney could not order more and more severity, and the president of
Munster was lost in wonder at the detestation with which the English
name was everywhere regarded. Clanrickard was sent to Dublin, and the
deputy wished to hang him, but he dared not execute an earl without
consulting his mistress, and Elizabeth's leniency in Ireland, as well
as England, was alive and active towards the great, although it was
dead towards the poor. She could hear without emotion of the massacres
at Rathlin or Slievh Broughty; but the blood of the nobles, who had
betrayed their wretched followers into the rebellion for which they
suffered, was for ever precious in her sight. She forbade Sidney to
touch him.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Vol. xi, p.197.]

Next came the great Desmond Rebellion, by which Munster was desolated.
The Pope had encouraged an expedition against the heretics in Ireland,
and some Spanish forces joined in the enterprise. It was organised by
an English ecclesiastic, named Sanders, and an exiled Geraldine,
named Fitzmaurice of Kerry, both able and energetic men. The Spaniards
landed at Dingle in 1579. In a few days all Kerry and Limerick were
up, and the woods between Mallow and the Shannon 'were swarming
with howling kerne.' 'The rebellion,' wrote Waterhouse, 'is the most
perilous that ever began in Ireland. Nothing is to be looked for but a
general revolt.' Malby took the command against them, joined by one of
the Burkes, Theobald, who when he saw Fitzmaurice struck by a ball
and staggering in his saddle, rode at him and cut him down. The Papal
standard was unfolded in this battle. Malby then burnt the Desmonds'
country, killing all the human beings he met, up to the walls of
Askeaton. When opportunity offered, Desmond retaliated by sacking and
burning Youghal. For two days the Geraldines revelled in plunder; they
violated the women and murdered all who could not escape. At length
Elizabeth was roused to the greatness of the danger, her parsimony
was overcome. A larger force was drawn into Ireland than had ever
been assembled there for a century. Ormond, the hereditary enemy of
Desmond, was appointed commander-in-chief; and Burghley, writing to
him in the name of the queen, concluded thus: 'So now I will merely
say, Butler aboo, against all that cry in the new language--Papa aboo,
and God send your hearts' desire to banish and vanquish those cankered
Desmonds!' The war now raged, and, as usual, the innocent people, the
cultivators of the soil, were the first victims. 'We passed through
the rebel countries,' wrote Pelham, 'in two companies, burning with
fire _all habitations, and executing the people_ wherever we found
them.' Mr. Froude says: '_Alone_ of all the English commanders he
expressed remorse at the work.' Well, if the creatures they destroyed
were horses, dogs, or cats, we should expect a man of ordinary human
feelings to be shocked at the wholesale butchery. But the beings
slaughtered were men and women and children--Christians found unarmed
and defenceless in their dwellings. Let the English imagine such a
war carried on in Kent or Yorkshire, by Irish invaders, killing in
the name of the Pope. The Irish Annalists say that Pelham and Ormond
killed the blind and the aged, women and children, sick and idiots,
sparing none.

The English, as usual, had help from an Irish chief in the work of
destruction. Ormond had in his train M'Carthymore, 'who, believing
Desmond's day to be done, hoped, by making himself useful, to secure
a share of the plunder.' Dividing their forces, Pelham marched on to
Dingle, 'destroying as he went, with Ormond parallel to him on the
opposite side of the bay, the two parties watching each other's course
at night across the water by the flames of the burning cottages!'

The fleet was waiting at Dingle. There was a merry meeting of the
officers. 'Here,' says Sir Nicholas White, 'my lord justice and I
gathered cockles for our supper.'[1] The several hunting parties
compared notes in the evening. Sometimes the sport was bad. On one
occasion Pelham reported that his party had hanged a priest in the
Spanish dress. 'Otherwise,' he says, 'we took small prey, and
killed less people, though we reached many places in our travel!' At
Killarney they found the lakes full of salmon. In one of the islands
there was an abbey, in another a parish church, in another a castle,
'out of which there came to them a fair lady, the rejected wife of
Lord Fitzmaurice.' Even the soldiers were struck with the singular
loveliness of the scene. 'A fairer land,' one of them said, 'the
sun did never shine upon--pity to see it lying waste in the hands of
traitors.' Mr. Froude, who deals more justly by the Irish in his last
volumes, replies: 'Yet it was by those traitors that the woods whose
beauty they so admired had been planted and fostered. Irish hands,
unaided by English art or English wealth, had built Muckross and
Innisfallen and Aghadoe, and had raised the castles on whose walls the
modern poet watched the splendour of the sunset.'

[Footnote 1: Carew Papers; Froude, vol. xi. p.225.]

Ormond was the arch-destroyer of his countrymen. In a report of his
services he stated that in this one year 1580, he had put to the
sword 'forty-six captains and leaders, with 800 notorious traitors
and malefactors, _and above_ 4,000 other people.'[1] In that year
the great Desmond wrote to Philip of Spain that he was a homeless
wanderer. 'Every town, castle, village, farm-house belonging to him or
his people had been destroyed. There was no longer a roof standing in
Munster to shelter him.' Hunted like a wolf through the mountains,
he was at last found sleeping in a hut and killed. In vain his wife
pleaded with Ormond, and threw herself on his protection. Even she was
not spared. Mr. Froude gives an interesting account of Desmond's last
hours. He was hunted down into the mountains between Tralee and the
Atlantic. M'Sweeny had sheltered him and fed him through the summer,
though a large price was set on his head; and when M'Sweeny was gone,
killed by an Irish dagger, the earl's turn could not be distant.
Donell M'Donell Moriarty had been received to grace by Ormond, and
had promised to deserve his pardon. This man came to the captain
of Castlemayne, gave information of the hiding-place, a band was
sent--half-a-dozen English soldiers and a few Irish kerne, who stole
in the darkness along the path which followed the stream--the door was
dashed in, and the last Earl of Desmond was killed in his bed.

[Footnote 1: Carew Papers; Froude, vol. xi. p.225.]

Ormond had recourse to a horrible device to extinguish the embers of
the rebellion. It was carrying out to a diabolical extent the policy
of setting one Irishman against another. If the terror-stricken
wretches hoped for pardon, they must deserve it, by murdering their
relations. Accordingly sacks full of the heads of reputed rebels were
brought in daily. Yet concerning him Mr. Froude makes this singular
remark: 'To Ormond the Irish were human beings with human rights. To
the English they were _vermin, to be cleared from off the earth_ by
any means that offered.'

Consequently, when it was proposed to make Ormond viceroy, the Pale
was in a ferment. How could any man be fit to represent English power
in Dublin Castle, who regarded the Irish as human beings! Not less
curious is the testimony which the historian bears to the character of
the English exterminators. He says, 'They were honourable, high-minded
men, full of natural tenderness and gentleness, to every one with whom
they were placed in _human relations_. The Irish, unfortunately, they
looked upon as savages who had refused peace and protection when it
was offered to them, and were now therefore to be _rooted out and
destroyed_.' A reformer in 1583, however, suggested a milder policy.
He recommended that 'all Brehons, carraghs, bards, rhymers, friars,
monks, jesuits, pardoners, nuns, and such-like should be executed by
martial law, and that with this clean sweep the work of death might
end, and a new era be ushered in with universities and schools, a
fixed police, and agriculture, and good government.'

When the English had destroyed all the houses and churches, burnt all
the corn, and driven away all the cattle, they were disgusted at the
savage state in which the remnant of the peasantry lived. A gentleman
named Andrew Trollope gave expression to this feeling thus: 'The
common people ate flesh if they could steal it, if not they lived on
shamrock and carrion. They never served God or went to church; they
had no religion and no manners, but were in all things more barbarous
and beast-like than any other people. No governor shall do good here,'
he said, 'except he show himself a Tamerlane. If hell were open and
all the evil spirits abroad, they could never be worse than these
Irish rogues--rather dogs, and worse than dogs, for dogs do but after
their kind, and they degenerate from all humanity.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, vol. xi. p.246.]

The population of Ireland was then by slaughter and famine reduced to
about 600,000, one-eighth of the population of England; but far too
many, in the estimation of their English rulers. Brabason succeeded
Malby in Connaught, and surpassed him in cruelty. The Four Masters
say: 'Neither the sanctuary of the saint, neither the wood nor the
forest valley, the town nor the lawn, was a shelter from this captain
and his people, till the whole territory was destroyed by him.' In the
spring of 1582 St. Leger wrote from Cork: 'This country is so ruined
as it is well near unpeopled by the murders and spoils done by the
traitors on the one side, and by the killing and spoil done by the
soldiers on the other side, together with the great mortality in town
and country, which is such as the like hath never been seen. There has
died by famine only not so few as 30,000 in this province in less than
half a year, besides others that are hanged and killed.'

At length the world began to cry shame on England; and Lord Burghley
was obliged to admit that the English in Ireland had outdone the
Spaniards in ferocious and blood-thirsty persecution. Remonstrating
with Sir H. Wallop, ancestor of Lord Portsmouth, he said that the
'Flemings had not such cause to rebel against the oppression of
the Spaniards, as the Irish against the tyranny of England.' Wallop
defended the Government; the causes of the rebellion were not to
be laid at the door of England at all. They were these, 'the great
affection they generally bear to the Popish religion, which agreeth
with their humour, that having committed murder, incest, thefts, with
all other execrable offences, by hearing a mass, confessing themselves
to a priest, or obtaining the Pope's pardon, they persuade themselves
that they are forgiven, and, hearing mass on Sunday or holyday, they
think all the week after they may do what heinous offence soever and
it is dispensed withal.' Trollope said they had no religion. Wallop
said they had too much religion. But their nationality was worse than
their creed. Wallop adds, 'They also much hate our nation, partly
through the general mislike or disdain one nation hath to be governed
by another; partly that we are contrary to them in religion; and
lastly, they seek to have the government among themselves.'

The last was the worst of all. Elizabeth wished to heal the wounds of
the Irish nation by appointing Ormond lord deputy. He was a nobleman
of Norman descent. His family had been true to England for centuries.
He had commanded her armies during this exterminating war, and, being
a native of the country, he would be best fitted to carry on the work
of conciliation after so much slaughter. But, says Mr. Froude, 'from
every English officer serving in the country, every English settler,
every bishop of the Anglo-Irish Church, there rose one chorus of
remonstrance and indignation; to them it appeared as a proposal now
would appear in Calcutta to make the Nizam Viceroy of India.'[1]
Wallop wrote that if he were appointed, there would be 'no dwelling in
the country for any Englishman.'

[Footnote 1: Ibid. p.202.]

The fear that a merciful policy might be adopted towards Ireland
sorely troubled Wallop and Archbishop Loftus; but they were comforted
by a great prize--an archbishop fell into their hands. Dr. Hurley
refused to give information against others. Walsingham suggested that
he should be put to the torture. To him Archbishop Loftus wrote with
unction. 'Not finding that easy method of examination do any good, we
made command to Mr. Waterhouse and Mr. Secretary Fenton to put him to
the torture, such as your honour advised us, which was to _toast his
feet_ against the fire with hot boots.' He confessed something. They
asked permission to execute him by martial law. The queen took a month
to consider. She recommended an ordinary trial for high treason, and
if the jury did not do its duty, they might take the shorter way.
She wished for no more torture, but 'for what was past her majesty
accepted in good part their careful travail, and greatly commended
their doings.' The Irish judges had repeatedly decided that there was
no case against Archbishop Hurley; but on June 19, 1584, Loftus and
Wallop wrote to Walsingham, 'We gave warrant to the knight-marshal to
do execution upon him, which accordingly was performed, and thereby
the realm rid of a most pestilent member.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Froude, vol. xi. p.264.]

This was the last act of these two lords justices. Sir John Perrot,
the new viceroy, made a speech which sent a ray of hope athwart the
national gloom. It was simply that the people might thenceforth
expect a little justice and protection. He told the natives that 'as
natural-born subjects of her majesty she loved them as her own people.
He wished to be suppressed and universally abolished throughout the
realm the name of a churle and the crushing of a churle; affirming
that, however the former barbarous times had desired it and nourished
it, yet he held it tyrannous both in name and manner, and therefore
would extirpate it, and use in place of it the titles used in England,
namely, husbandmen, franklins or yeomen.' 'This was so plausible,'
wrote Sir G. Fenton, 'that it was carried throughout the whole realm,
in less time than might be thought credible, if expressed.'

The extirpation of the Munster Geraldines, in the right line,
according to the theory of the 'Undertakers' and the law of England in
general, vested in the queen the 570,000 acres belonging to the late
earl. Proclamation was accordingly made throughout England, inviting
'younger brothers of good families' to undertake the plantation of
Desmond--each planter to obtain a certain scope of land, on condition
of settling thereupon so many families--'none of the native Irish to
be admitted' Under these conditions, Sir Christopher Hatton took up
10,000 acres in Waterford; Sir Walter Raleigh 12,000 acres, partly in
Waterford and partly in Cork; Sir William Harbart, or Herbert, 13,000
acres in Kerry; Sir Edward Denny 6,000 in the same county; Sir Warren
St. Leger, and Sir Thomas Norris, 6,000 acres each in Cork; Sir
William Courtney 10,000 acres in Limerick; Sir Edward Fitton 11,500
acres in Tipperary and Waterford, and Edmund Spenser 3,000 acres in
Cork, on the beautiful Blackwater. The other notable Undertakers
were the Hides, Butchers, Wirths, Berkleys, Trenchards, Thorntons,
Bourchers, Billingsleys, &c. Some of these grants, especially
Raleigh's, fell in the next reign to Richard Boyle, the so-called
'_great_ Earl of Cork '--probably the most pious hypocrite to be found
in the long roll of the 'Munster Undertakers.'



In 1602, the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, in obedience to instructions from
the Government in London, marched to the borders of Ulster with
a considerable force, to effect, if he could, the arrest of Hugh
O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, or to bring him to terms. Since the defeat
of the Irish and Spanish confederacy at Kinsale, O'Neill comforted
himself with the assurance that Philip III. would send another
expedition to Ireland to retrieve the honour of his flag, and avenge
the humiliation it had sustained, owing to the incompetency or
treachery of Don Juan d'Aquila. That the king was inclined to aid the
Irish there can be no question; 'for Clement VIII., then reigning in
the Vatican, pressed it upon him as a sacred duty, which he owed to
his co-religionists in Ireland, whose efforts to free themselves from
Elizabeth's tyranny, the pontiff pronounced to be a _crusade_ against
the most implacable heretic of the day.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Fate and Fortunes of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell.
By the Rev. P.C. Meehan, M.R.I.A.]

If Mr. Meehan's authorities may be relied upon, Queen Elizabeth was,
in intention at least, a murderer as well as a heretic. He states
that while she was gasping on her cushions at Richmond, gazing on the
haggard features of death, and vainly striving to penetrate the opaque
veil of the future, she commanded Secretary Cecil to charge Mountjoy
to entrap Tyrone into a submission, on diminished rank as Baron of
Dungannon, and with lessened territory; or if possible, to have his
head, before engaging the royal word. It was to accomplish either of
these objects, that Mountjoy marched to the frontier of the north.
'Among those employed to murder O'Neill in cold blood, were Sir
Geoffry Fenton, Lord Dunsany, and _Henry Oge O'Neill._ Mountjoy bribed
one Walker, an Englishman, and a ruffian calling himself Richard
Combus, to make the attempt, but they all failed.'[1] Finding it
impossible to procure the assassination of 'the sacred person of
O'Neill, who had so many eyes of jealousy about him,' he wrote to
Cecil from Drogheda, that nothing prevented Tyrone from making his
submission but mistrust of his personal safety and guarantee
for maintenance commensurate to his princely rank. The lords of
Elizabeth's privy council empowered Mountjoy to treat with O'Neill on
these terms, and to give him the required securities. Sir Garret Moore
and Sir William Godolphin were entrusted with a commission to effect
this object. But while the lord deputy, with a brilliant retinue,
was feasting at Mellifont, a monastery bestowed by Henry VIII. on an
ancestor of Sir Garret Moore, by whom it was transformed into a 'fair
mansion,' half palace, half fortress, a courier arrived from England,
announcing the death of the queen. Nevertheless the negotiations
were pressed on in her name, the fact of her decease being carefully
concealed from the Irish. Tyrone had already sent his secretary, Henry
O'Hagan, to announce to the lord deputy that he was about to come to
his presence. Accordingly on March 29, he surrendered himself to the
two commissioners at Tougher, within five miles of Dungannon. On the
following evening he reached Mellifont, when, being admitted to the
lord deputy's presence, 'he knelt, as was usual on such occasions;'
and made penitent submission to her majesty. Then, being invited to
come nearer to the deputy, he repeated the ceremony, if we may credit
Fynes Moryson, in the same humiliating attitude, thus:--

'I, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, do absolutely submit myself to the
queen's mercy, imploring her gracious commiseration, imploring her
majesty to mitigate her just indignation against me. I do avow that
the first motives of my rebellion were neither malice nor ambition;
but that I was induced by fear of my life, to stand upon my guard. I
do therefore most humbly sue her majesty, that she will vouchsafe
to restore to me my former dignity and living. In which state of
a subject, I vow to continue for ever hereafter loyal, in all true
obedience to her royal person, crown, and prerogatives, and to be
in all things as dutifully conformable thereunto as I or any other
nobleman of this realm is bound by the duty of a subject to his
sovereign, utterly renouncing the name and title of O'Neill, or any
other claim which hath not been granted to me by her majesty. I abjure
all foreign power, and all dependency upon any other potentate but her
majesty. I renounce all manner of dependency upon the King of Spain,
or treaty with him or any of his confederates, and shall be ready to
serve her majesty against him or any of his forces or confederates.
I do renounce all challenge or intermeddling with the Uriaghts, or
fostering with them or other neighbour lords or gentlemen outside my
country, or exacting black-rents of any Uriaghts or bordering lords.
I resign all claim and title to any lands but such as shall now be
granted to me by her majesty's letters patent. Lastly, I will be
content to be advised by her majesty's magistrates here, and will
assist them in anything that may tend to the advancement of her
service, and the peaceable government of this kingdom, the abolishing
of barbarous customs, the clearing of difficult passes, wherein I will
employ the labours of the people of my country in such places as I
shall be directed by her majesty, or the lord deputy in her name; and
I will endeavour for myself and the people of my country, to erect
civil habitations such as shall be of greater effect to preserve us
against thieves, and any force but the power of the state.'

[Footnote 1: See Life and Letters of Florence M'Carthy. By D.
M'Carthy, Esq.]

To this act of submission Tyrone affixed his sign manual, and handed
it to the deputy, who told him he must write to Philip III. of Spain,
to send home his son Henry, who had gone with Father M'Cawell to
complete his studies in Salamanca. The deputy also insisted that he
should reveal all his negotiations with the Spanish court, or any
other foreign sovereign with whom he maintained correspondence; and
when the earl assured him that all these requirements should be duly
discharged, the lord deputy in the queen's name promised him her
majesty's pardon to himself and followers, to himself the restoration
of his earldom and blood with new letters patent of all his lands,
excepting the country possessed by Henry Oge O'Neill, and the Fews
belonging to Tirlough Mac Henry O'Neill, both of whom had recently
taken grants of their lands, to be holden immediately from the queen.
It was further covenanted that Tyrone should give 300 acres of his
land to the fort of Charlmont, and 300 more to that of Mountjoy, as
long as it pleased her majesty to garrison said forts. Tyrone assented
to all these conditions, and then received the accolade from the lord
deputy, who, a few months before, had written to Queen Elizabeth, that
he hoped to be able to send her that ghastliest of all trophies--her
great rebel's head!

On April 4, the lord deputy returned to Dublin accompanied by the
great vassal whom he fancied he had bound in inviolable loyalty to the
English throne. To make assurance doubly sure, the day after James was
proclaimed, Tyrone repeated the absolute submission made at Mellifont,
the name of the sovereign only being changed. He also despatched a
letter to the King of Spain stating that he had held out as long as
he could, in the vain hope of being succoured by him, and finally when
deserted by his nearest kinsmen and followers, he was enforced as in
duty bound to declare his allegiance to James I., in whose service and
obedience he meant to live and die.

The importance of this act of submission will appear from a manifesto
issued by O'Neill three years before, dated Dungannon, November 16,
1599, and subscribed 'O'Neill.' This remarkable document has been
published for the first time by Father Meehan.

'_To the Catholics of the towns in Ireland._

'Using hitherto more than ordinary favour towards all my countrymen,
who generally by profession are Catholics, and that naturally I
am inclined to affect [esteem] you, I have for these and other
considerations abstained my forces from tempting to do you hindrance,
and because I did expect that you would enter into consideration of
the lamentable state of our poor country, most tyrannically oppressed,
and of your own gentle consciences, in maintaining, relieving and
helping the enemies of God and our country in wars infallibly tending
to the promotion of heresy: But now seeing you are so obstinate in
that which hereunto you continued of necessity, I must use severity
against you (whom otherwise I most entirely love) in reclaiming you
by compulsion. My tolerance and happy victories by God's particular
favour doubtless obtained could work no alteration in your
consciences, notwithstanding the great calamity and misery, whereunto
you are most likely to fall by persevering in that damnable state in
which hereunto you have lived. Having commiseration on you I thought
it good to forewarn you, requesting every of you to come and join with
me against the enemies of God and our poor country. If the same you do
not, I will use means to spoil you of all your goods, but according to
the utmost of my power shall work what I may to dispossess you of
all your lands, because you are the means whereby wars are maintained
against the exaltation of the Catholic faith. Contrariwise, whosoever
it shall be that shall join with me, upon my conscience, and as to the
contrary I shall answer before God, I will employ myself to the utmost
of my power in their defence and for the extirpation of heresy, the
planting of the Catholic religion, the delivery of our country of
infinite murders, wicked and detestable policies by which this
kingdom was hitherto governed, nourished in obscurity and ignorance,
maintained in barbarity and incivility, and consequently of infinite
evils which were too lamentable to be rehearsed. And seeing these are
motives most laudable before any men of consideration, and before the
Almighty most meritorious, which is chiefly to be expected, I thought
myself in conscience bound, seeing God hath given me some power to use
all means for the reduction of this our poor afflicted country into
the Catholic faith, which can never be brought to any good pass
without either your destruction or helping hand; hereby protesting
that I neither seek your lands or goods, neither do I purpose to plant
any in your places, if you will adjoin with me; but will extend what
liberties and privileges that heretofore you have had if it shall
stand in my power, giving you to understand upon my salvation that
chiefly and principally I fight for the Catholic faith to be planted
throughout all our poor country, as well in cities as elsewhere,
as manifestly might appear by that I rejected all other conditions
proffered to me this not being granted. I have already by word of
mouth protested, and do now hereby protest, that if I had to be
King of Ireland without having the Catholic religion which before I
mentioned, I would not the same accept. Take your example by that most
Catholic country, France, whose subjects for defect of Catholic faith
did go against their most natural king, and maintained wars till he
was constrained to profess the Catholic religion, duly submitting
himself to the Apostolic See of Rome, to the which doubtless we may
bring our country, you putting your helping hand with me to the same.
As for myself I protest before God and upon my salvation I have been
proffered oftentimes such conditions as no man seeking his own private
commodity could refuse; but I seeking the public utility of my native
country will prosecute these wars until that generally religion be
planted throughout all Ireland. So I rest, praying the Almighty to
move your flinty hearts to prefer the commodity and profit of our
country, before your own private ends.'

As a crusader, the O'Neill was a worthy disciple of the King of Spain.
The Catholics of the south had no wish to engage in a religious
war, but the northern chief aspiring to the sovereignty of the whole
island, resolved to reclaim them by compulsion, seeing that
his tolerance and happy victories had worked no change in their
consciences, and they still persevered in that 'damnable state'
in which they had lived. From his entire love and commiseration he
forewarned them that if they did not come and join him against the
enemies of God and 'our poor country,' he would not only despoil
them of all their goods, but dispossess them of all their lands.
The extirpation of heresy, the planting of the Catholic religion, he
declared could never be brought to any good pass without either the
destruction or the help of the Catholics in the towns of the south and
west. He did not want their lands or goods, nor did he intend to plant
others in their places _if they would adjoin with him_. Pointing to
the example of France, he vowed that he would prosecute those wars
until the Catholic religion should be planted throughout all Ireland,
praying that God would move their flinty hearts to join him in this
pious and humane enterprise. In those times when religious wars
had been raging on the continent, when the whole power of Spain was
persistently employed to exterminate Protestants with fire and sword
and every species of cruelty, it is not at all surprising that a
chief like O'Neill, leading such a wild warlike life in Ulster, should
persuade himself that he would be glorifying God and serving his
country by destroying the Catholic inhabitants of the towns, that is
all the most civilised portion of the community, because they would
not join him in robbing and killing the Protestants. But it is not a
little surprising that an enlightened, learned, and liberal Catholic
priest, writing in Dublin in the year 1868, should give his deliberate
sanction to this unchristian and barbarous policy. Yet Father Meehan
writes: 'But no; not even the dint of that manifesto, _with the ring
of true steel in its every line_, could strike a spark out of their
hearts, for they were chalky.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Page 34.]

It was very natural that the English Government should act upon the
same principle of intolerance, especially when they had the plea
of state necessity. They did not yet go the length of exterminating
Catholicity by the means with which the O'Neill threatened his
peaceable and industrious co-religionists in the towns.

All they required was that the Catholics should cease to harbour
their priests, and that they should attend the Protestant churches.
Remarking upon the proclamation of Chichester to this effect Mr.
Meehan says:--'Apart from the folly of the king, who had taken into
his head that an entire nation should, at his bidding, apostatise from
the creed of their forefathers, the publishing such a manifesto
in Dungannon, in Donegal, and elsewhere was a bitter insult to
the northern chieftains, whose wars were _crusades_,--the natural
consequence of faith,--stimulated by the Roman Pontiffs, assisted
by Spain, then the most Catholic kingdom in the world.' Does not Mr.
Meehan see that crusading is a game at which two can play? And if
wars which were crusades were the natural consequence of the Catholic
faith, were stimulated by the Roman Pontiffs, and assisted by Spain,
for the purpose of destroying the power of England, everywhere as well
as in Ireland, and abolishing the Reformation,--does it not follow
as a necessary consequence that the English Government must in sheer
self-defence have waged a war of extermination against the Catholic
religion, and have regarded its priests as mortal enemies? No better
plea for the English policy in Ireland was ever offered by any
Protestant writer than this language, intended as a condemnation, by
a very able priest in our own day. It was no doubt extreme folly for
King James I. to expect that a nation, or a single individual, should
apostatise at his bidding; but it was equal folly in the King of Spain
to expect Protestants to apostatise at his bidding; and if possible
still greater folly for O'Neill to expect the Catholic citizens of
Munster to join him in the bloody work of persecution. It was, then,
the Spanish policy stimulated by the Sovereign Pontiff that was the
standing excuse of the cruel intolerance and rancorous religious
animosity which have continued to distract Irish society down to
our own time. Persecution is alien to the Irish race. The malignant
_virus_ imported from Spain poisoned the national blood, maddened the
national brain, and provoked the terrible system of retaliation that
was embodied in the Penal Code, and which, surviving to our own time,
still defends itself by the old plea--the intrusion of a foreign power
attempting to overrule the government of the country.



The accession of James I. produced a delirium of joy in the Catholics
of the south. Their bards had sung that the blood of the old Celtic
monarchs circulated in his veins, their clergy told them that as
James VI. of Scotland he had received supplies of money from the
Roman court, and above all Clement VIII. then reigning, had sent to
congratulate him on his accession, having been solicited by him to
favour his title to the crown of England, which the Pope guaranteed
to do on condition that James promised not to persecute the Catholics.
The consequence was that the inhabitants of the southern towns rose
_en masse_ without waiting for authority, forced open the gates of the
ancient churches, re-erected the altars and used them for the public
celebration of worship. The lord deputy was startled by intelligence
to this effect from Waterford, Limerick, Cork, Lismore, Kilkenny,
Clonmel, Wexford, &c. The cathedrals, churches, and oratories were
seized by the people and clergy, Father White, Vicar-Apostolic of
Waterford, being the leader in this movement, going about from city
to city for the purpose of 'hallowing and purifying' the temples which
Protestantism had desecrated.

The mayors of the cities were rebuked by Mountjoy as seditious and
mutinous in setting up 'the public exercise of the Popish religion,'
and he threatened to encamp speedily before Waterford, 'to suppress
insolences and see peace and obedience maintained.' The deputy kept
his word, and on May 4, 1603, he appeared before Waterford at the
head of 5,000 men, officered by Sir R. Wingfield, and others who had
distinguished themselves during Tyrone's war. 'There is among the
family pictures at Powerscourt,' says Mr. Meehan, 'a portrait of this
distinguished old warrior, whose lineal descendant, the present noble
lord, has always proved most generous to his Catholic tenantry.' The
reverend gentleman gives an amusing sketch of a theological encounter
between the old warrior and Father White and a Dominican friar,
who came forth to the camp under a safe-conduct, both wearing their
clerical habits and preceded by a cross-bearer. The soldiers jeered
at the sacred symbol, and called it an idol. Father White indignantly
resented the outrage, when Sir Richard Wingfield threatened to put
an end to the controversy by running his sword through the
Vicar-Apostolic. 'The deputy however was a bookish man, at one period
of his life inclined to Catholicity, and he listened patiently to
Father White on the right of resisting or disobeying the natural
prince; but when the latter quoted some passage thereanent in the
works of St. Augustine, Mountjoy caused to be brought to him out of
his tent the identical volume, and showed to the amazement of the
bystanders, that the context explained away all the priest had
asserted.' The noble theologian told Father White that he was a
traitor, worthy of condign punishment for bringing an idol into a
Christian camp and for opening the churches by the Pope's authority.
Father White appeared in the camp a second time that day, making
a most reasonable request. He fell on his knees before the deputy,
begging liberty of conscience, free and open exercise of religion,
protesting that the people would be ready to resist all foreign
invasion were that granted; and finally beseeching that some of the
ruined churches might be given to the Catholics, who were ready
to rebuild them, and pay for them a yearly rent into his majesty's
exchequer. But the deputy was inexorable, and all he would grant was
leave to wear clerical clothes, and celebrate mass in private houses.
Mountjoy entered Waterford, received from the citizens the oath of
allegiance, and made over the city churches to the small section
of Protestants. At the same time he sent despatches to other towns
ordering the authorities to evict the Roman Catholics from the places
of worship. And then proceeding to Cork, and thence through Cashel
to Dublin, he undid all that the clergy had done with respect to the
churches, 'leaving perhaps to future statesmen,' writes Father
Meehan, 'living above the atmosphere of effete prejudices, the duty of
restoring to the Catholics of Ireland those grand old temples, which
were never meant to accommodate a fragment of its people.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Page 30.]

When Mountjoy returned to Dublin he found that he had been created
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with two-thirds of the deputy's allowance,
Sir George Carew, appointed deputy during his absence in
England, receiving the other third together with his own pay as
treasurer-at-war. Mountjoy was also informed that the royal pardon had
been granted to Tyrone under the great seal, and that all other grants
made to him by the lord deputy had been confirmed. The king concluded
by requesting that he would induce Tyrone to go with him to London,
adding, 'as we think it very convenient for our service, and require
you so to do; and if not that at least you bring his son.' Along with
these instructions came a protection for O'Neill and his retinue. It
was supposed that James felt grateful to the Ulster chieftain for the
services he had rendered him during the late queen's reign; and it is
stated by Craik that after the victory of the Blackwater, he sent his
secretary O'Hagan to Holyrood, to signify to his majesty that if he
supplied him with money and munitions he would instantly march on
Dublin, proclaim him King of Ireland, and set the crown upon his head.

In compliance with the sovereign's request, Mountjoy, with a brilliant
suite, accompanied by Tyrone and Rory O'Donel, embarked in May 1603,
and sailed for Holyhead. But when they had sighted the coast of Wales,
the pinnace was driven back by adverse winds, and nearly wrecked in a
fog at the Skerries. They landed safe, however, at Beaumaris, whence
they rode rapidly to Chester, where they stopped for the night, and
were entertained by the mayor. The king's protection for the O'Neill
was not uncalled for. Whenever he was recognised in city or hamlet,
the populace, notwithstanding their respect for Mountjoy, the hero of
the hour, pursued the earl with bitter insults, and stoned him as he
passed along. Throughout the whole journey to London, the Welsh and
English women assailed him with their invectives. Not unnaturally, for
'there was not one among them but could name some friend or kinsman
whose bones lay buried far away in some wild pass or glen of Ulster,
where the object of their maledictions was more often victor than
vanquished.'[1] The king, however, gave the Irish chiefs a gracious
reception, having issued a proclamation that he had restored them to
his favour, and that they should be 'of all men honourably received.'
This excited intense disgust amongst English officers who had been
engaged in the Irish wars. Thus Sir John Harrington, writing to
a bishop, said: 'I have lived to see that damnable rebel, Tyrone,
brought to England, honoured and well liked. Oh, what is there that
does not prove the inconstancy of worldly matters! How I did labour
after that knave's destruction! I adventured perils by sea and land,
was near starving, eat horseflesh in Munster, and all to quell that
man, who now smileth in peace at those who did hazard their lives
to destroy him; and now doeth Tyrone dare us old commanders with his
presence and protection.'

[Footnote 1: Father Meehan.]

In fact the favour of the king went to an excess fatal to its object,
by conceding powers incompatible with his own sovereignty, leading
to disorders and violence, and exciting jealousy and mortal enmity in
those who were charged with the government in Ireland. The lords of
the Privy Council, with the king's consent, gave O'Neill authority for
martial law, 'to be executed upon any offenders that shall live under
him, the better to keep them in obedience.' It was ordered that the
king's garrisons should not meddle with him or his people. The king
also invested O'Donel with all the lands and rights of ancient time
belonging to his house, excepting abbeys and other spiritual livings,
the castle and town of Ballyshannon, and 1,000 acres adjoining
the fishing there. He also received the style and title of Earl
of Tyrconnel, with remainder to his brother Caffar, the heirs male
apparent being created Barons of Donegal. He was formally installed
in Christ Church Cathedral on the 29th of September following, in
presence of Archbishop Loftus and a number of high officials. Tyrone,
however, was dogged by spies while he was in London, and one
Atkinson swore informations to the effect that he was in the habit
of entertaining a Jesuit named Archer, who was intriguing with the
foreign enemies of England, and who was held by Irish royalists for
'the most bloody and treacherous traitor, who could divert Tyrone
and all the rest from the king, and thrust them again into actual

In the meantime, Sir George Carew was pursuing a policy in Ireland
which must of necessity involve the north in fresh troubles. In his
letters to England, he complained that the country 'so swarmed with
priests, Jesuits, seminarists, friars, and Romish bishops, that if
speedy means were not used to free the kingdom of this wicked rabble,
which laboured to draw the subjects' hearts from their due obedience
to their prince, much mischief would burst forth in very short time.
For,' he said, 'there are here so many of this wicked crew, that are
able to disquiet four of the greatest kingdoms in Christendom. It is
high time they were banished from hence, and none to receive, or
aid, or relieve them. Let the judges and officers be sworn to the
supremacy; let the lawyers go to the church and show conformity,
or not plead at the bar; and then the rest by degrees will shortly

Carew was succeeded as deputy by Sir Arthur Chichester, descended
from a family of great antiquity in Devon. He had served in Ireland
as governor of Carrickfergus, admiral of Lough Neagh, and commander
of the Fort of Mountjoy. Father Meehan describes him as malignant and
cruel, with a physiognomy repulsive and petrifying; a Puritan of the
most rigid character, utterly devoid of sympathy, solely bent on his
own aggrandisement, and seeking it through the plunder and persecution
of the Irish chieftains. That is the Irish view of his character. How
far he deserved it the reader will be able to judge by his acts.
He was evidently a man of strong will, an able administrator
and organiser; and he set himself at once, and earnestly, to the
establishment of law and order in the conquered territories of the
Irish princes. He sent justices of assize throughout Munster and
Connaught, reducing the 'countries or regions' into shire-ground,
abolishing cuttings, cosheries, spendings, and other customary
exactions of the chiefs, by which a complete revolution was effected.
He issued a proclamation, by the king's order, commanding all the
Catholics, under penalties, to assist at the Church of England
service; proscribing priests, and other ecclesiastical persons
ordained by authority from the see of Home; forbidding parents to send
their children to seminaries beyond the seas, or to keep as private
tutors other than those licensed by the Protestant archbishop or
bishop. If any priest dared to celebrate mass, he was liable to a fine
of 200 marks, and a year's imprisonment; while to join the _Romish_
Church was to become a traitor, and to be subject to a like penalty.
Churchwardens were to make a monthly report of persons absent from
church, and to whet the zeal of wardens and constables, for each
conviction of offending parties, they were to have a reward of forty
shillings, to be levied out of the recusant's estate and goods.
Catholics might escape these penalties by quitting the country, and
taking the oath of abjuration, by which they bound themselves to
abjure the land and realm of James, King of England, Scotland, France,
and Ireland, to hasten towards a certain port by the most direct
highway, to diligently seek a passage, and tarry there but one
flood and ebb. According to one form, quoted by Mr. Meehan, the oath
concluded thus: 'And, unless I can have it (a passage) in such a
place, I will go every day into the sea up to my knees, essaying to
pass over, so God me help and His holy judgment.'

The deputy found some difficulty in bending the consciences of the
Dublin people to the will of the sovereign in matters of faith; but
the said will was to be enforced _circa sacra_ at all hazards; so he
summoned sixteen of the chief citizens and aldermen before the Privy
Council, and censured them for their recusancy, imprisoned them in the
castle during pleasure, inflicting upon six a fine of 100 l. each, and
upon three 50 l. each. The king was delighted with this evangelical
method of extending reformed religion in Ireland. Congratulating his
deputy, he expressed a hope that many, by such means, would be brought
to conformity in religion, who would hereafter 'give thanks to God for
being drawn by so gentle a constraint to their own good.' The 'gentle
constraint' was imposed in all directions. The Privy Council decreed
that none but a member of the Church of England could hold any
office under the Crown. The old Catholic families of the Pale humbly
remonstrated, and their chief men were flung into prison. Sir Patrick
Barnwell, their agent, was sent to London by order of the king, and
was forthwith committed to the Tower for contempt. Henry Usher, then
Archbishop of Armagh, carried out the system of exclusion in his own
diocese, which included the territories of Tyrone. All 'Papists' were
forbidden to assist at mass, on pain of forfeiture of their goods and
imprisonment. In a like manner, the Catholic worship was prohibited
even in the residence of the Earl of Tyrconnel. He and Tyrone strongly
remonstrated against this violation of the royal word, that they and
their people might have liberty for their worship in private houses.
The answer was decided. His majesty had made up his mind to disallow
liberty of worship, and his people, whether they liked it or not,
should repair to their parish churches.

In addition to this religious grievance, which excited the bitterest
feelings of discontent, the two earls were subjected to the most
irritating annoyances. They complained that their people were
plundered by sheriffs, under-sheriffs, officers, and soldiers; and
that even their domestic privacy was hourly violated, that their
remonstrances were unheeded, and their attempts to obtain legal
remedies were frustrated. At the same time their vassals were
encouraged to repudiate their demands for tribute and rent. Bishop
Montgomery of Derry was a dangerous neighbour to O'Neill. Meeting him
one day at Dungannon, the earl said: 'My lord, you have two or three
bishopricks, and yet you are not content with them, but seek the lands
of my earldom.'

'My lord,' replied the bishop, 'your earldom is swollen so big with
the lands of the Church, that it will burst if it be not vented.' If
he had confined his venting operations to the chiefs, and abstained
from bleeding the poor people, it would have been better for
Protestantism. For we read that he sent bailiffs through the diocese
of Raphoe, to levy contributions for the Church. 'For every cow and
plough-horse, 4 d.; as much out of every colt and calf, to be
paid twice a year; and half-a-crown a quarter of every shoemaker,
carpenter, smith, and weaver in the whole country; and 8 d. a year for
every married couple.'

This bishop seems to have been greatly impressed with the
'commodities' of O'Cahan's country, which he describes with much
unction in a letter to the Earl of Salisbury. He said that the country
was 'large, pleasant, and fruitful; twenty-four miles in length
between Lough Foyle and the Bann; and in breadth, from the sea-coast
towards the lower parts of Tyrone, 14 miles.' He states that O'Cahan
was able to assist the Earl of Tyrone, during his war, with 1,200
foot and 300 horse, the ablest men that Ulster yielded; and, by the
confession of gentlemen of the first plantation, had oftener put them
to their defence than any enemy they had to do with, not suffering
them to cut a bough or build a cabin without blows. When Tyrone was
driven to his fastness, Glenconkeine, O'Cahan sent him 100 horse and
300 foot, and yet made good his own country against the army lying
round about him, adding, that his defection 'did undo the earl, who,
as he had his country sure behind him, cared little for anything the
army could do to him.' The bishop was, therefore, very anxious that
Tyrone should not have any estate in O'Cahan's country, 'since he was
of great power to offend or benefit the poor infant city of Derry, its
new bishop and people, cast out far from the heart and head into the
remotest part of Ireland, where life would be unsafe until the whole
region was well settled with civil subjects. If this be not brought to
pass, we may say: "_fuimus Troes,--fuit Ilium_."'[1]

[Footnote 1: Meehan, p.79.]

The defection of O'Cahan was, no doubt, a very serious matter to
O'Neill. Their case was referred for adjudication to the lord deputy,
Chichester, before whom they personally pleaded. Their contradictory
statements, and the eagerness of each for the support of a ruler whom
they regarded as a common enemy, accounts for the facility with which
their power was ultimately destroyed. They at the same time throw much
light on the condition of Ulster before the confiscation of James I.,
proving that it was by no means so poor and wild and barren a region
as it is generally represented by modern writers. The two chiefs had a
personal altercation at the council table, and O'Neill so far lost his
temper as to snatch a paper out of the hand of O'Cahan. Whereupon Sir
John Davis remarked: 'I rest assured, in my own conceit, that I shall
live to see Ulster the best reformed province in this kingdom; and
as for yourself, my lord, I hope to live to see you the best reformed
subject in Ireland.' To this the haughty chief replied with warmth,
that he hoped 'the attorney-general would never see the day when
injustice should be done him by transferring his lands to the Crown,
and thence to the bishop, who was intent on converting the whole
territory into his own pocket.'

Acting under the advice of the bishop, O'Cahan employed a skilful
hand to draw up a statement of his case, which was presented on May 2,
1607, in the form of 'the humble petition of Donald Ballagh O'Cahan,
chief of his name,' addressed to the lord deputy and council. He
declared that for 3,000 years and upwards, he and his ancestors had
been possessed of a country called 'O'Cahan's country,' lying between
the river Bann and Lough Foyle, without paying any rent, or other
acknowledgment thereof to O'Neill, saving that his ancestors were wont
to aid O'Neill twice a year if he had need, with risings of 100 horse
and 300 foot, for which O'Cahan had in return O'Neill's whole suit of
apparel, the horse that he rode upon, and 100 cows in winter. He also
paid 21 cows every year in the name of _Cios'righ_, the king's rent,
or the king's rent-cess. He alleged that Queen Elizabeth had granted
him his country to be held immediately from her majesty at the
accustomed rent, by virtue of which he enjoyed it for one whole year
without paying, or being craved payment, of any rent or duty, until
the Earl of Tyrone, on his return from England, alleged that he had
got O'Cahan's country by patent, from the king, who had made him
vassal to Tyrone and his heirs for ever, imposing the annual payment
of 100 cows, with the yearly rent of 200 l. He had also claimed the
fishing of the Bann; he preyed yearly upon other parts of his country,
and drew from him his best tenants. He therefore prayed for the
protection of the lord deputy against these unjust demands and

On the 23rd of the same month, O'Neill made a counter statement to the
following effect: O'Cahan had no estate in the territory that was by
a corruption of speech called O'Cahan's country; nor did he or any of
his ancestors ever hold the said lands but as tenants at sufferance,
servants and followers to the defendant and his ancestors. His
grandfather Con O'Neill was seised in fee of those lands before he
surrendered to Henry VIII., 'and received yearly, and had thereout,
as much rents, cutting, spending and all other duties as of any other
lands which he had in demesne,' within the province of Ulster and
territory of Tyrone, and that after Con's surrender the territories
were all re-granted with the rents, customs, duties, &c. as before.
He was ready to prove that the ancestors of O'Cahan never enjoyed the
premises at any time, but at the will and sufferance of O'Neill and
his ancestors. A few days after, he despatched a memorial to the king
setting forth his grievances, in which he stated that there were so
many that sought to deprive him of the greatest part of the residue
of his territory that without his majesty's special consideration he
should in the end have nothing to support his 'estate' or rank. For
the Lord Bishop of Derry, not content with the great living the king
had bestowed upon him, sought to have the greater part of the earl's
lands, to which none of his predecessors had ever laid claim. And
he also set on others to question his titles which had never before
before doubted. He therefore humbly besought the king to direct that
new letters patent should be made out re-conveying to him and his
heirs the lands in dispute, being, he said, 'such a favour as is
appointed by your majesty to be extended to such of your subjects of
this kingdom as should be suitors for the same, amongst whom I will
during my life endeavour to deserve to be in the number of the most
faithful, whereunto not only duty, but also your majesty's great
bounty, hath ever obliged me.'

This was dated at Mellifont on May 26, 1607. It does not appear that
any answer was received to his appeals to the king, nor is it likely
that it served his cause, for it is seldom safe to appeal from an
agent or deputy to the supreme authority. The Privy Council in Dublin,
however, made a report confirming to some extent the claims put forth
by Tyrone. A jury had been appointed to inquire into the boundaries
and limits of the lands granted by Queen Elizabeth, and they found
that they extended from the river Fuin to Lough Foyle, and from Lough
Foyle by the sea-shore to the Bann, and thence to the east of Lough
Neagh. Within these limits they found that there existed the territory
called O'Cahan's, Glenconkeine and Killetragh, which were not the
lands of the O'Neills, '_but held by tenants having estates in them
equivalent to estates of freehold_.' The jury could not determine what
rents the tenants of said lands were accustomed to pay, but they found
generally that all lands within the limits of Tyrone, except the lands
of the church, rendered to O'Neill bonnaght or free quarters for armed
retainers, 'rising out, cutting and spending.' The parties, however,
did not abide by the decision of the privy council, but kept up their
contention in the courts of law. It was quite clear that matters could
not remain long in that unsettled state, with so many adventurers
thirsting for the possession of land, which was lying comparatively
idle. It was thought desirable to appoint a president of Ulster, as
there had been a president of Munster. The Earl of Tyrone applied to
the king for the office, evidently fearing that if Chichester were
appointed, he must share the fate of the Earl of Desmond. On the other
hand, it was felt that with his hereditary pretensions, impracticable
temper, and vast influence with the people, it would be impossible to
establish the English power on a permanent basis until he was got out
of the way. This was not difficult, with unprincipled adventurers
who were watching for opportunities to make their fortunes in those
revolutionary times. Among these was a person named St. Lawrence,
Baron of Howth. This man worked cunningly on the mind of the lord
deputy, insinuating that O'Neill was plotting treason and preparing
for a Spanish invasion. He even went so far as to write an anonymous
letter, revealing an alleged plot of O'Neill's to assassinate the lord
deputy. It was addressed to Sir William Usher, clerk of the council,
and the writer began by saying that it would show him, though far
severed from him in religion, how near he came home to him in honesty.
He was a Catholic, and professed to reveal what he had heard among
Catholic gentlemen, 'after the strictest conditions of secresy.' The
conspirators were, in the first place, to murder or poison the lord
deputy when he came to Drogheda, 'a place thought apt and secure to
act the same.' They thought it well to begin with him, because his
authority, wisdom, and valour stood only in the way of their first
attempts. Next after him they were to cut off Sir Oliver Lambert,
whom for his own judgment in the wars, his sudden resolution, and
undertaking spirit, they would not suffer to live. These two lights
thus put out, they would neither fear nor value any opposite in the
kingdom. The small dispersed garrisons must either through hunger
submit themselves to their mercy, or be penned up as sheep to the
shambles. They held the castle of Dublin for their own, neither manned
nor victualled, and readily surprised. The towns were for them, the
country with them, the great ones abroad prepared to answer the first
alarm. The Jesuits warranted from the Pope and the Catholic king would
do their parts effectually, and Spanish succours would not be wanting.
These secrets greatly troubled the sensitive conscience of Lord Howth.
From the time he was entrusted with them, he said, 'till I resolved to
give you this caveat, my eyelids never closed, my heart was a fire,
my soul suffered a thousand thousand torments; yet I could not, nor
cannot persuade my conscience, in honesty, to betray my friends,
or spill their bloods, when this timely warning may prevent the
mischief.' In conclusion, he said, 'though I reverence the mass and
the Catholic religion equal with the devoutest of them, I will make
the leaders of this dance know that I prefer my country's good before
their busy and ambitious humours.' It is related of this twenty-second
baron of Howth, known as Sir Christopher St. Lawrence, that having
served in Ulster under Essex, and accompanied him in his flight to
England, he proposed to murder Lord Grey de Wilton, lest he should
prejudice the queen's mind against her former favourite, if he got
access to her presence before him; that he had commanded a regiment of
infantry under Mountjoy, and that when that regiment was disbanded, he
became discontented, not having got either pension or employment;
that having gone as a free lance to the Low Countries, and failed to
advance himself there as he expected, through the interest of
Irish ecclesiastics, he returned to England, and skulked about the
ante-chambers of Lord Salisbury, waiting upon Providence, when he hit
upon the happy idea of the revelations which he conveyed under the
signature of' A.B.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Meehan, p.103.]

After some time he acknowledged the authorship of the letter
privately, but refused to come forth publicly as an informer, nor
was he able to produce any corroboration of the improbable story.
Ultimately, however, when pressed by Chichester, he induced his friend
Baron Devlin to swear an information to the same effect, revealing
certain alleged conversations of O'Neill. In the meantime St. Lawrence
cunningly worked upon the fears of the earl, giving him to understand
that his ruin was determined on, and that he had better consult
his safety, by leaving the country. It appears that he received
intimations to the same effect from his correspondents in Spain and
in London. At all events, he lost heart, became silent, moody, and
low-spirited, suspecting foul play on the part of the king, who was
very urgent that he should be brought over to London, in which case
Tyrone was led to believe that he would certainly be sent to the
Tower, and probably lose his head. With such apprehensions, he came
to the conclusion that it was idle to struggle any longer against the

He had for some weeks been engaged quietly making preparations for his
flight. He had given directions to his steward to collect in advance
one half of his Michaelmas rents, leading the lord deputy to think
that he did so either to provide funds for his journey to London,
or to defray the expenses of his son's projected marriage with the
daughter of Lord Argyle. Meanwhile a vessel had been purchased by
Cu-Connaught Maguire, and Bath, the captain of this vessel, assured
the Earl of Tyrconnel, whom he met at Ballyshannon, that he also
would lose his life or liberty if he did not abandon the country with
O'Neill. On September 8, Tyrone took leave of the lord deputy, and
then spent a day and night at Mellifont with his friend Sir Garret
Moore, who was specially dear to him as the fosterer of his son John.
The earl took his leave with unusual emotion, and after giving
his blessing according to the Irish fashion to every member of his
friend's household, he and his suite took horse and rode rapidly by
Dundalk, over the Fews to Armagh, where he rested a few hours, and
then proceeded to Creeve, one of his crannoges or island habitations,
where he was joined by his wife and other members of his family. Sir
Oliver Lambert in a communication to the Irish Government, relating to
the affairs of Ulster, made some interesting allusions to O'Neill. He
states that he had apologised for having appealed to the king in the
case between him and O'Cahan, and said that he felt much grieved in
being called upon so suddenly to go to England, when on account of his
poverty he was not able to furnish himself as became him for such a
journey and for such a presence. In all things else, said Sir Oliver,
'he seemed very moderate and reasonable, albeit he never gave over to
be a general solicitor in all causes concerning his country and people
however criminal.' He thought the earl had been much abused by persons
who had cunningly terrified, and diverted him from going to the king;
'or else he had within him a thousand witnesses testifying that he was
as deeply engaged in these secret treasons as any of the rest, whom
they knew or suspected.' At all events he had received information
on the previous day from his own brother Sir Cormac O'Neill, from the
primate, from Sir Toby Caulfield and others, that the earl had taken
shipping with his lady, the Baron of Dungannon, his eldest son, and
two others of his children, John and Brien, both under seven years
old, the Earl of Tyrconnel, and his son and heir, an infant, not yet a
year old, his brother Caffar O'Donel, and his son an infant two years
old, 'with divers others of their nearest and trusted followers and
servants, as well men as women, to the number of between thirty and
forty persons.'

The Rev. Mr. Meehan gives graphic details of the flight of his two
heroes. Arrived at Rathmullen they found Maguire and Captain Bath
laying stores of provisions on board the ship that had come into Lough
Swilly under French colours. Here they were joined by Rory, Earl of
Tyrconnel. At noon on Friday they all went on board and lifted anchor,
but kept close to the shore waiting for the boats' crews, who were
procuring water and fuel; but they had to wait till long after sunset,
when the boats came with only a small quantity of wood and water.
According to a fatality which makes one Irishman's extremity another
Irishman's opportunity, the foraging party was set upon by M'Sweeny
of Fanad, who churlishly prevented them getting a sufficient supply
of these necessaries. This barbarous conduct is accounted for by Mr.
Meehan, from the fact, that this M'Sweeny had recently taken a grant
of his lands from the crown. At midnight, September 14, 1607, they
spread all sail and made for the open sea, intending, however, to
land on the Island of Arran, off the coast of Donegal, to provide
themselves with more water and fuel. The entire number of souls
on board this small vessel, says O'Keenan in his narrative, was
ninety-nine, having little sea store, and being otherwise miserably
accommodated. Unable to make the island of Arran, owing to a gale
then blowing off the land, and fearing to be crossed by the king's
cruisers, they steered for the harbour of Corunna in Spain. But for
thirteen days, continues O'Keenan, 'the sea was angry, and the tempest
left us no rest; and the only brief interval of calm we enjoyed, was
when O'Neill took from his neck a golden crucifix containing a relic
of the true cross, and trailed it in the wake of the ship. At that
moment, two poor merlins with wearied pinions sought refuge in the
rigging of our vessel, and were captured for the noble ladies, who
nursed them with tenderest affection.' After being tempest-tossed
for three weeks, they dropped anchor in the harbour of Quilleboeuf
in France, having narrowly escaped shipwreck, their only remaining
provisions being one gallon of beer and a cask of water. They
proceeded to Brussels and thence to Louvain, where splendid
accommodation was provided for them. In several of the cities through
which they passed they received ovations, their countrymen clerical
and military having prepared for their reception with the greatest
zeal and devotion. The King of Spain was of course friendly, but to
avoid giving offence to King James he discouraged the stay of the
exiles in his dominions, and they found their final resting-place
at Rome, where the two earls were placed upon the Pope's civil list,
which, however, they did not long continue to burden. Tyrconnel fell a
victim to the malaria, and died on July 28, 1608. 'Sorrowful it was,'
say the Four Masters, 'to contemplate his early eclipse, for he was a
generous and hospitable lord, to whom the patrimony of his ancestors
seemed nothing for his feastings and spending.' His widow received
a pension of 300 l. a year out of his forfeited estates. O'Neill
survived his brother earl eight years, having made various attempts to
induce the King of Spain to aid him in the recovery of his patrimony.
He died in 1616, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Sir Francis
Cottington, announcing the event from Madrid, said, 'The Earl of
Tyrone is dead at Rome; by whose death this king saves 500 ducats
every month, for so much pension he had from here, well paid him.
Upon the news of his death, I observed that all the principal Irish
entertained in several parts of this kingdom are repaired unto this



The flight of the earls caused great consternation to the Irish
Government. Letters were immediately despatched to the local
authorities at every port to have a sharp look out for the fugitives,
and to send out vessels to intercept them, should they be driven back
by bad weather to any part of the coast. At the same time the lord
deputy sent a despatch to the Government in London, deprecating
censure for an occurrence so unexpected, and so much to be regretted,
because of the possibility of its leading to an invasion by the
Spaniards. In other respects it was regarded by the principal members
of the Irish Government, and especially by the officials in Ulster, as
a most fortunate occurrence. For example, Sir Oliver Lambert, in his
report to the lords of the council, already referred to, said:--'But
now these things are fallen out thus, contrary to all expectation
or likelihood, by the providence of God I hope, over this miserable
people, for whose sake it may be he hath sent his majesty this rare
and unlocked for occasion: whereby he may now at length, with good
apprehension and prudent handling, repair an error which was committed
in making these men proprietary lords of so large a territory, without
regard of the poor freeholders' rights, or of his majesty's service,
and the commonwealth's, that are so much interested in the honest
liberty of that sort of men, which now, in time, I commend unto your
lordships' grave consideration and wisdom, and will come to that which
nearest concerns ourselves and the whole.'

According to Sir John Davis, in his letter to the first minister, Lord
Salisbury, Tyrone could not be reconciled in his heart to the English
Government, because 'he ever lived like a free prince, or, rather,
like an absolute tyrant, there. The law of England, and the ministers
thereof, were shackles and handlocks unto him.' He states that _after
the Irish manner_, he made all the tenants of his land _villeins_.
'Therefore to evict any part of that land from him was as grievous
unto him as to pinch away the quick flesh from his body ... Besides,'
the attorney-general added, 'as for us that are here, we are glad to
see the day wherein the countenance and majesty of the law, as civil
government, hath banished Tyrone out of Ireland, which the best army
in Europe, and the expense of two millions of sterling pounds did not
bring to pass. And we hope his majesty's happy government will work
a greater miracle in this kingdom, than ever St. Patrick did; for St.
Patrick did only banish the poisonous worms, but suffered the men full
of poison to inhabit the land still; but his majesty's blessed genius
will banish all that generation of vipers out of it, and make it, ere
it be long, a right fortunate island.'

Again, Sir Geoffry Fenton, writing to Salisbury on the same subject,
says, 'And now I am to put your lordship in mind what a door is open
to the king, if the opportunity be taken, and well converted, not only
to pull down for ever these two proud houses of O'Neill and O'Donel,
but also to bring in colonies to plant both countries, to a great
increasing of his majesty's revenues, and to establish and settle the
countries perpetually in the crown; besides that many well-deserving
servitors may be recompensed in the distribution; a matter to be taken
to heart, for that it reaches somewhat to his majesty's conscience and
honour to see these poor servitors relieved, whom time and the wars
have spent, even unto their later years, and now, by this commodity,
may be stayed and comforted without charges to his majesty.' This
advice was quite in accordance with the views of the prime minister,
who in a letter to Chichester said, 'I do think it of great necessity
that those countries be made the king's by this accident; that there
be a mixture in the plantation, the _natives_ made his majesty's
tenants of part, but the rest to be divided among those that will
_inhabit_; and in no case any man is suffered to embrace more than
is visible he can and will _manure_. That was an oversight in the
plantation of Munster, where 12,000 acres were commonly allotted to
bankrupts and country gentlemen, that never knew the disposition of
the Irish; so as God forbid that those who have spent their blood in
the service should not of all others be preferred.' It was because
this idea of manuring, i.e. residence and cultivation, was carried
out in Ulster, that the plantation has proved so successful. But Davis
would allow but small space comparatively to the natives, whom he
compared to weeds which, if too numerous, would choke the wheat. With
him the old inhabitants were simply a nuisance from the highest to
the lowest; and if there were no other way of getting rid of them, he
would no doubt have adopted the plan recommended by Lord Bacon,
who said, 'Some of the chiefest of the Irish families should
be transported to England, and have recompense there for their
possessions in Ireland, till they were cleansed from their blood,
incontinency, and theft, which were not the lapses of particular
persons, but the very laws of the nation.' The Lord Deputy Chichester,
however, agreed thoroughly with his attorney-general, for he certainly
made no more account of rooting out the 'mere Irish' from their homes
than if they were the most noxious kinds of weeds or vermin. 'If,'
said he, writing to Lord Salisbury, 'I have observed anything during
my stay in this kingdom, I may say it is not _lenity_ and good works
that will reclaim the Irish, but _an iron rod_, and severity of
justice, for the restraint and punishment of those firebrands of
sedition, _the priests_; nor can we think of any other remedy but to
proclaim _them, and their relievers and harbourers, traitors_.'

Considering that those Englishmen were professedly Christian rulers,
engaged in establishing the reformed religion, the accounts which they
give with perfect coolness of their operations in this line, are among
the most appalling passages to be met with in the world's history. For
instance, the lord deputy writes: 'I have often said and written, it
is _famine that must consume the Irish_, as our _swords_ and other
endeavours worked not that, speedy effect which is expected; _hunger_
would be a better, because a speedier, weapon to employ against them
than the sword.' He spared no means of destruction, but combined all
the most fearful scourges for the purpose of putting out of existence
the race of people whom God in his anger subjected to his power.
Surely the spirit of cruelty, the genius of destruction, must have
been incarnate in the man who wrote thus: 'I burned all along the
Lough (Neagh) within four miles of Dungannon, and killed 100 people,
sparing none, of what quality, age, or sex soever, besides _many
burned to death_. We killed man, _woman and child_, horse, beast, and
whatsoever we could find.'

At the time of the flight of the earls, however, he was very anxious
about the safety of the kingdom. He was aware that the people were
universally discontented, he had but few troops in the country,
and little or no money in the treasury, so that in case of a sudden
invasion, it was quite possible that the maddened population would
rise and act in their own way upon his own merciless policy of
extermination. He therefore hastened to issue a proclamation for the
purpose of reassuring the inhabitants of Ulster, and persuading
them that they would not suffer in any way by the desertion of
their chiefs. In this proclamation, headed by 'The _Lord Deputy
and Counsell_,' it was stated that Tyrone and Tyrconnel and their
companions had lately embarked themselves at Lough Swilly and had
secretly and suddenly departed out of this realm without license or
notice. The Government was as yet uncertain about their purpose
or destination. But inasmuch as the manner of their departure,
considering the quality of their persons, might raise many doubts
in the minds of his majesty's loving subjects in those parts, and
especially the common sort of people inhabiting the counties of
Tyrone and Tyrconnel, who might suppose they were in danger to suffer
prejudice in their _lands_ and goods for the contempt or offence of
the earls,--they were solemnly assured that they had nothing whatever
to fear. The words of the proclamation on this point are: 'We do
therefore in his majesty's name declare, proclaim, and publish that
all and every his majesty's good and loyal subjects inhabiting those
countries of Tyrone and Tyrconnel shall and may quietly and securely
possess and enjoy all and singular _their lands and goods_ without the
trouble or molestation of any of his majesty's officers or ministers
or any other person or persons whatsoever as long as they disturb not
his majesty's peace, but live as dutiful and obedient subjects. And
forasmuch as the said earls to whom his majesty, reposing special
trust in their loyalty, had committed the government of the said
several countries are now undutifully departed, therefore his Majesty
doth graciously receive all and every of his said loyal subjects into
his own immediate safeguard and protection, giving them full assurance
to defend them and every of them by his kingly power from all violence
or wrong, which any loose persons among themselves or any foreign
force shall attempt against them. And to that end, we the lord deputy
and council have made choice of certain commissioners as well Irish as
English, residing in the said several countries, not only to preserve
the public peace there, but also to administer speedy and indifferent
justice to all his majesty's loving subjects in those parts, which
shall have any cause of complaint before them.' All governors, mayors,
sheriffs, justices of peace, provost-marshals, bailiffs, constables,
and all other his majesty's ministers whatsoever were strictly charged
to use their utmost endeavours faithfully and diligently to keep the
people in their duty and obedience to his majesty and the laws of the

The assurance thus given that the subjects and tenants of the
absconding princes should securely possess and enjoy their lands and
be protected from all oppression under the sceptre of King James would
have been very satisfactory had the royal promise been realised,
but conciliation was then absolutely necessary, for the lord deputy
himself stated that 'the kingdom had not been in the like danger these
hundred years, as we have but few friends and no means of getting
more.' The foregoing proclamation was issued from Rathfarnham on
September 10. On November 9 following, another proclamation of a
general nature was published and widely circulated in order to justify
the course the Government adopted. According to this document it was
known to all the world 'how infinitely' the fugitive earls had been
obliged to the king for his singular grace and mercy in giving them
free pardon for many heinous and execrable treasons, above all hope
that they could in reason conceive, and also in restoring the one to
his lands and honours justly forfeited, and in raising the other 'from
a very mean estate to the degree and title of an earl, giving him
withal large possessions for the support of that honour, before either
of them had given any proof of loyalty, or merited the least favour.'
Even in the point of religion, which served as a cloak for all their
treasons, they got no provocation or cause of grievance. For these and
other causes it was announced that his majesty would seize and take
into his hands all the lands and goods of the said fugitives. But
he would, notwithstanding, extend such grace and favour to the
loyal inhabitants of their territories that none of them should be
'impeached, troubled, or molested in _their own lands_, goods, or
bodies, they continuing in their loyalty, _and yielding unto his
majesty such rents and duties as shall be agreeable to justice and
equity_.' This assurance was repeated again emphatically in these
words: 'His most excellent majesty doth take all the good and loyal
inhabitants of the said countries, together with their wives and
children, land and goods, into his own immediate protection, to defend
them in general against all rebellions and invasions, and to right
them in all their wrongs and oppressions, offered or to be offered
unto them by any person whatsoever, etc.'



Before proceeding to notice the manner in which these promises of
justice, equity, and protection to the occupiers of the land were
fulfilled, it is well to record here the efforts made by King James
and his ambassador to discredit the fugitive earls on the Continent,
and the case which they made out for themselves in the statement of
wrongs and grievances which they addressed to the king soon after.
There was great alarm in England when news arrived of the friendly
reception accorded to the Irish chiefs by the continental sovereigns
through whose dominions they passed, and especially by the King of
Spain, who was suspected of intending another invasion of Ireland.
Consequently the most active preparations were made to meet the
danger. In every street of the metropolis drums were beating for
recruits, and large detachments were sent in all possible haste to
reinforce the Irish garrisons. Sir Charles Cornwallis was then English
ambassador at Madrid; and lest his diplomatic skill should not be up
to the mark, James himself sent him special and minute instructions as
to the manner in which he should handle the delicate subjects he had
to bring before the Spanish sovereign. There has been seldom a better
illustration of the saying, that the use of speech is to conceal
thought, than in the representations which the ambassador was
instructed to make about Irish affairs. Indeed Cornwallis had already
shown that he scarcely needed to be tutored by his sovereign. In a
preliminary despatch he had sent an account of his conversation with
Philip III.'s secretary of state about the fugitive earls. He told him
that though they had been guilty of rebellions and treasons they had
not only been pardoned, but loaded with dignities such as few or none
of the king's ancestors had ever bestowed on any of the Irish nation.
He had conferred upon them an absolute and, 'in a manner, unlimited
government in their own countries, nothing wanting to their ambitions
but the name of kings, and neither crossed in anything concerning
their civil government, nor so much as in act or imagination molested,
or in any sort questioned with, for their consciences and religion.'
He thought therefore that they would never have fled in such a way,
unless they had been drawn to Spain by large promises in the hope of
serving some future turns.

The secretary listened to this insinuation with much impatience, and
declared solemnly, laying his hand on his breast with an oath, that of
the departure and intention of the earls there was no more knowledge
given to the king or any of his state than to the ambassador himself.
He added that there had been much consumption of Spanish treasure by
supporting strangers who had come from all parts. In particular they
had a bitter taste of those who had come from James's dominions; and
they would have suffered much more, 'if they had not made a resolute
and determined stop to the running of that fountain and refused to
give ear to many overtures.' The ambassador expressed his satisfaction
at this assurance, and then endeavoured to show how unworthy those
Irish princes were of the least encouragement. Their flight was the
result of madness, they departed without any occasion of 'earthly
distaste' or offence given them by their sovereign, whose position
towards the Irish was very different from that of the late queen.
Elizabeth had employed against their revolts and rebellions only her
own subjects of England, who were not accustomed either to the diet
of that savage country, or to the bogs, and other retreats which that
wild people used. But now, the king his master, being possessed of
Scotland, had in that country, 'near adjoining to the north part of
Ireland, a people of their own fashion, diet, and disposition, that
could walk their bogs as well as themselves, live with their food,
and were so well practised and accustomed in their own country to
the like, that they were as apt to pull them out of their dens and
withdrawing places, as ferrets to draw rabbits out of their burrows.'
Moreover all other parts of Ireland were now reduced to such
obedience, and so civil a course, and so well planted with a mixture
of English, that there was not a man that showed a forehead likely to
give a frown against his majesty, or his government. Cornwallis went
on to plead the incomparable virtues of the king his master, among
which liberality and magnificence were not the least. But if he had
given largely, it was upon a good exchange, for he had sowed money,
which of itself can do nothing, and had reaped hearts that can do
all. As for the alleged number of 'groaning Catholics,' he assured
the secretary that there were hardly as many hundreds as the fugitives
reckoned thousands.

According to his report the minister heard him with great attention,
and at the conclusion protested, that he joined with him in opinion
that those fugitives were dangerous people and that the Jesuits were
turbulent and busy men. He assured him on the word of a caballero,
that his majesty and council had fully determined never to receive or
treat any more of those 'straying people;' as they had been put to
great inconvenience and cost, how to deliver themselves from those
Irish vagabonds, and continual begging pretenders.

This despatch, dated October 28, 1607, was crossed on the way by one
from the English minister Salisbury, dated the 27th, giving the
king's instructions 'concerning those men that are fled into Spain.'
Cornwallis was directed not to make matters worse than they really
were, because the end must be good, 'what insolencies soever the
Jesuits and pack of fugitives there might put on. King James knew that
this remnant of the northern Irish traitors had been as full of malice
as flesh and blood could be, no way reformed by the grace received,
but rather sucking poison out of the honey thereof.' He knew also that
they had absolutely given commission to their priests and others to
abandon their sovereign if Spain would entertain their cause. But this
he could not demonstrably prove _in foro judicii_, though clear _in
foro conscientiæ_, and therefore punishment would savour of rigour.
So long as things were in that state his majesty was obliged to suffer
adders in his bosom, and give them means to gather strength to his
own prejudice, whereas now the whole country which they had possessed
would be made of great use both for strength and profit to the king.
What follows should be given in his majesty's own words:--

'Those poor creatures who knew no kings but those petty lords, under
the burden of whose tyranny they have ever groaned, do now with great
applause desire to be protected by the immediate power, and to receive
correction only from himself, so as if the council of Spain shall
conceive that they have now some great advantage over this state,
where it shall appear what a party their king may have if he shall
like to support it, there may be this answer: that those Irish without
the King of Spain are poor worms upon earth; and that when the King of
Spain shall think it time to begin with Ireland, the king my master is
more like than Queen Elizabeth was, to find a wholesomer place of the
King of Spain's, where he would be loath to hear of the English, and
to show the Spaniards who shall be sent into Ireland as fair a way as
they were taught before. In which time the more you speak of the base,
insulting, discoursing fugitives, the more proper it will be for you.
In the meantime upon their departure, not a man hath moved, neither
was there these thirty years more universal obedience than there is
now. Amongst the rest of their barbarous lies I doubt not but they
will pretend protection for religion, and breach of promise with them;
wherein you may safely protest this, that for any, of all those that
are gone, there never was so much as an offer made to search their

Not content with the labours of his ambassadors at the various
continental courts, to damage the cause of the Irish earls, the king
issued a proclamation, which was widely dispersed abroad. His majesty
said he thought it better to clear men's judgments concerning the
fugitives, 'not in respect of any worth or value in these men's
persons, being base and rude in their original,' but to prevent any
breach of friendship with other princes. For this purpose he declared
that Tyrone and Tyrconnel had not their creation or possessions in
regard of any lineal or lawful descent from ancestors of blood or
virtue, but were only conferred by the late queen and himself for some
reasons of state. Therefore, he judged it needless to seek for
many arguments 'to confirm whatsoever should be said of these men's
corruption and falsehood, whose heinous offences remained so fresh in
memory since they declared themselves so very monsters in nature, as
they did not only withdraw themselves from their personal obedience to
their sovereign, but were content to sell over their native country,
to those who stood at that time in the highest terms of hostility with
the crowns of England and Ireland.' 'Yet,' adds the king, 'to make the
absurdity and ingratitude of the allegation above mentioned so much
the more clear to all men of equal judgment, we do hereby profess
in word of a king that there was never so much as any shadow of
molestation, nor purpose of proceeding in any degree against them
for matter concerning religion:--such being their condition and
profession, to think murder no fault, marriage of no use, nor any
man worthy to be esteemed valiant that did not glory in rapine and
oppression, as we should have thought it an unreasonable thing to
trouble them for any different point in religion, before any man could
perceive by their conversation that they made truly conscience of any
religion. The king thought these declarations sufficient to disperse
and to discredit all such untruths as these contemptible creatures, so
full of infidelity and ingratitude, should discharge against him and
his just and moderate proceedings, and which should procure unto them
no better usage than they would wish should be afforded to any such
pack of rebels born their subjects and bound unto them in so many and
so great obligations.'

Such was the case of the English Government presented to the world
by the king and his ministers. Let us now hear what the personages
so heartily reviled by them had to say for themselves. The Rev. C.P.
Meehan has brought to light the categorical narratives, which the
earls dictated, and which had lain unpublished among the 'old historic
rolls,' in the Public Record Office, London. These documents are of
great historic interest, as are many other state-papers now first
published in his valuable work.[1] O'Neill's defence is headed,
'Articles Exhibited by the Earl of Tyrone to the King's Most Excellent
Majesty, declaring certain Causes of Discontent offered Him, by which
he took occasion to Depart His Country.' The statement is divided
into twenty items, of which the following is the substance: It was
proclaimed by public authority in his manor of Dungannon, that none
should hear mass upon pain of losing his goods and imprisonment, and
that no ecclesiastical person should enjoy any cure or dignity without
swearing the oath of supremacy and embracing the contrary religion,
and those who refused so to do were actually deprived of their
benefices and dignities, in proof of which the earl referred to the
lord deputy's answer to his own petition, and to the Lord Primate of
Ireland, who put the persecuting decree into execution. The Earl
of Devon, then lord-lieutenant, had taken from him the lands of his
ancestors called the Fews, in Armagh, and given them to other persons.
He was deprived of the annual tribute of sixty cows from Sir Cahir
O'Dogherty's country called Inishowen, which tribute had never been
brought into question till James's reign. The same lord-lieutenant had
taken from him the fishings of the Bann, which always belonged to his
ancestors, and which he was forced to purchase again. Portions of his
territory had been taken 'under colour of church-lands, a thing never
in any man's memory heard of before.' One Robert Leicester an attorney
had got some more of the earl's land, which he transferred to Captain
Leigh. 'So as any captain or clerk had wanted means, and had no other
means or device to live, might bring the earl in trouble for some part
or parcel of his living, falsely inventing the same, to be concealed
or church-land.' The Archbishop of Armagh and the Bishop of Derry
and Clogher claimed the best part of the earl's whole estate, as
appertaining to their bishoprics, 'which was never moved by any other
predecessors before, other than that they had some _chiefry_ due to
them, in most part of all his living, and would now have the whole
land to themselves as their domain lands, not content with the benefit
of their ancient registers, which the earl always offered, and
was willing to give without further question. O'Cahan, 'one of the
chiefest and principalest of the earl's tenants, was set upon by
certain of his majesty's privy council, as also by his highness's
counsel-at-law, to withdraw himself and the lands called
_Iraght-I-Cahan_ from the earl, being a great substance of his
living;' and this although O'Cahan had no right to the property except
as his _tenant at will_, yielding and paying all such rents, dues,
and reservations as the other tenants did. He complained that at
the council table in Dublin it was determined to take two-thirds of
O'Cahan's country from him; and he perceived by what Sir John Davis
said, that they had determined to take the other third also. They
further made claim in his majesty's behalf to four other parcels of
the earl's land, which he named, being the substance of all that was
left, and began their suit for the same in the court of exchequer.
In fine he felt that he could not assure himself of anything by the
letters patent he had from the king. Whenever he had recourse to law
his proceedings were frustrated by the government; so that he could
not get the benefit of his majesty's laws, or the possession of his
lands; 'and yet any man, of what degree soever, obtained the extremity
of the law with favour against him, in any suit.' Although the king
had allowed him to be lieutenant of his country, yet he had no more
command there than his boy; the worst man that belonged to the sheriff
could command more than he, and that even in the earl's own house. If
they wanted to arrest any one in the house they would not wait till
he came out, but burst open the doors, and 'never do the earl so much
honour in any respect as once to acquaint him therewith, or to send to
himself for the party, though he had been within the house when they
would attempt these things; and if any of the earl's officers would
by his direction order or execute any matter betwixt his own tenants,
with their own mutual consent, they would be driven not only to
restore the same again, but also be first amerced by the sheriff, and
after indicated as felons, and so brought to trial for their lives
for the same; so as the earl in the end could scarce get any of his
servants that would undertake to levy his rents.' According to law the
sheriff should be a resident in the county, have property there, and
be elected by the nobility and chief gentlemen belonging to it; but
the law was set aside by the lord deputy, who appointed as sheriffs
for the counties Tyrone and Armagh Captain Edmund Leigh and one
Marmaduke Whitechurch, dwelling in the county of Louth, both being
retainers, and very dear friends to the Knight-marshal Bagenal, who
was the only man that urged the earl to his last troubles. Of all
these things 'the earl did eftsoons complain to the lord deputy,
and could get no redress, but did rather fare the worse for his
complaints, in respect they were so little regarded.'

[Footnote 1: Page 192.]

The earl understanding that earnest suit had been made to his majesty
for the presidentship of Ulster, made bold to write to the king,
humbly beseeching him not to grant any such office to any person over
himself, 'suspecting it would be his overthrow, as by plain experience
he knew the like office to be the utter overthrow of others of his
rank in other provinces within the realm of Ireland.' He also wrote
to the Earl of Salisbury, who replied that the earl was not to tie his
majesty to place or displace officers at his (the earl's) pleasure in
any of his majesty's kingdoms. This was not the earl's meaning, but it
indicated to him pretty plainly that he had no favour to expect from
that quarter. The office was intended for Sir Arthur Chichester, and
he much feared that it would be used for his destruction without
his majesty's privity. Therefore, seeing himself envied by those who
should be his protectors, considering the misery sustained by
others through the oppression of the like government, he resolved to
sacrifice all rather than live under that yoke.

The next item is very characteristic. The earl's nephew Brian M'Art
happened to be in the house of Turlough M'Henry, having two men in his
company. Being in a merry humour, some dispute arose between him and
a kinsman of his own, who 'gave the earl's nephew a blow of a club
on the head, and tumbled him to the ground; whereupon, one of his men
standing by and seeing his master down, did step up with the fellow
and gave him some three or four stabs of a knife, having no other
weapon, and the master himself, as it was said, gave him another,
through which means the man came to his death. Thereupon, the earl's
nephew and his two men were taken and kept in prison till the next
sessions holden in the county Armagh, where his men were tried by a
jury of four innocent and mere ignorant people, having little or no
substance, most of them being bare soldiers and not fit, as well by
the institution of law in matters of that kind as also through their
own insufficiency, to be permitted or elected to the like charge;
and the rest foster-brethren, followers, and very dear friends to the
party slain, that would not spare to spend their lives and goods to
revenge his death. Yet all that notwithstanding were they allowed,
and the trial of these two gentlemen committed to them, through which
means, and the vigorous threatening and earnest enticements of the
judges, they most shamefully condemned to die, and the jury in a
manner forced to find the matter murder in each of them, and that,
not so much for their own offences, as thinking to make it an evidence
against the master, who was in prison in the Castle of Dublin,
attending to be tried the last Michaelmas term, whose death, were it
right or wrong, was much desired by the lord deputy.

Again, the earl had given his daughter in marriage to O'Cahan with
a portion of goods. After they had lived together for eight years,
O'Cahan was induced to withdraw himself from the earl, and at the same
time, by the procurement of his setters on, he turned off the earl's
daughter, kept her fortune to himself, and married another. The
father appealed to the lord deputy for justice in vain. He then took
proceedings against O'Cahan, at the assizes in Dungannon. But the
defendant produced a warrant from the lord deputy, forbidding the
judges to entertain the question, as it was one for the Lord Bishop of
Derry. The Bishop of Derry, however, was the chief instigator of the
divorce, and therefore no indifferent judge in the case. Thus the
earl's cause was frustrated, and he could get no manner of justice
therein, no more than he obtained in many other weighty matters that
concerned him. The next complaint is about outrages committed by
one Henry Oge O'Neill, one Henry M'Felemey and others, who at the
instigation of the lord deputy, 'farther to trouble the earl,' went
out as a wood-kerne to rob and spoil the earl and his nephew, and
their tenants. They committed many murders, burnings, and other
mischievous acts, and were always maintained and manifestly relieved
amongst the deputy's tenants and their friends in Clandeboye, to whom
they openly sold the spoils. They went on so for the space of two
years, and the earl could get no justice, till at length they murdered
one of the deputy's own tenants. Then he saw them prosecuted, and the
result was, that the earl cut them all off within a quarter of a year
after. But the lord deputy was not at all pleased with this. Therefore
he picked up 'a poor rascally knave' and brought him to Dublin, where
he persuaded him to accuse above threescore of the earl's tenants of
relieving rebels with meat, although it was taken from them by force.
For the rebels killed their cattle in the fields, and left them dead
there, not being able to carry them away; burnt their houses,
took what they could of their household stuff, killed and mangled
themselves. 'Yet were they, upon report of that poor knave, who was
himself foremost in doing these mischiefs, all taken and brought
to their trial by law, where they were, through their innocency,
acquitted, to their no small cost; so as betwixt the professed enemy,
and the private envy of our governors, seeking thereby to advance
themselves, there was no way left for the poor subject to live.'

One Joice Geverard, a Dutchman, belonging to the deputy, was taken
prisoner on his way from Carrickfergus to Toome, and he was compelled
to pay to his captors a ransom of 30 l. For this the lord deputy
assessed 60 l. on the county, and appointed one-half of it to be taken
from O'Neil's tenants, being of another county, and at least twelve
miles distant from the scene of the outrage, perpetrated by a
wood-kerne, 'and themselves being daily killed and spoiled by the said
wood-kerne, and never no redress had to them.' Several outrages and
murders perpetrated by the soldiers are enumerated; but they were such
as might have been expected in a state bordering on civil war, which
was then the condition of the province. If, however, Tyrone is to be
believed, the rulers themselves set the example of disorder. Sir
Henry Folliott, governor of Ballyshannon, in the second year of his
majesty's reign, came with force of arms, and drove away 200 cows from
the earl's tenants, 'and killed a good gentleman, with many other poor
men, women, and children; and besides that, there died of them above
100 persons with very famine, for want of their goods; whereof the
earl never had redress, although the said Sir Henry could show no
reasonable cause for doing the same.'

Finally the earl saw that the lord deputy was very earnest to
aggravate and search out matters against him, touching the staining
of his honour and dignity, scheming to come upon him with some forged
treason, and thereby to bereave him of both his life and living. The
better to compass this he placed his 'whispering companion,' Captain
Leigh, as sheriff in the county, 'so as to be lurking after the earl,
to spy if he might have any hole in his coat.' Seeing then that the
lord deputy, who should be indifferent, not only to him but to
the whole realm, having the rod in his own power, did seek his
destruction, he esteemed it a strife against the stream for him to
seek to live secure in that kingdom, and therefore of both evils
he did choose the least, and thought it better rather to forego
his country and lands, till he had further known his majesty's
pleasure--to make an honourable escape with his life and liberty only,
than by staying with dishonour and indignation to lose both life,
liberty, and country, which much in very deed he feared. Indeed the
many abuses 'offered' him by Sir John Davis, 'a man more fit to be a
stage player than a counsel,' and other inferior officers, might be
sufficient causes to provoke any human creature, not only to forego
a country, were it ever so dear to him, but also the whole world, to
eschew the like government. And thus he concludes his appeal to
his 'most dread sovereign:' 'And so referring himself, and the due
consideration of these, and all other his causes, to your majesty's
most royal and princely censure, as his only protector and defender,
against all his adversaries, he most humbly taketh his leave, and will
always, as in bounden duty, pray.'

The Earl of Tyrconnel's statement contains no less than forty-four
items under the following heading: 'A note, or brief collection of
the several exactions, wrongs, and grievances, as well spiritual
as temporal, wherewith the Earl of Tyrconnel particularly doth find
himself grieved and abused by the king's law ministers in Ireland,
from the first year of his majesty's reign until this present year of
1607: to be presented to the king's most excellent majesty.'

_Imprimis_, all the priests and religious persons dwelling within
the said earl's territories were daily pursued and persecuted by his
majesty's officers. Sir Arthur Chichester told him, in the presence of
divers noblemen and gentlemen, that he must resolve to go to church,
or he would be forced to go. This was contrary to the toleration which
had been till then enjoyed, and he resolved rather to abandon lands
and living, yea, all the kingdoms of the earth, with the loss of his
life, than to be forced utterly against his conscience to any such

When Sir George Carew was lord deputy, Captain Nicholas Pynnar
and Captain Basil Brook, officers of the king's forces at Lifford,
plundered the earl's tenants there, taking from them 150 cows, besides
as many sheep and swine as they pleased. Not satisfied with this
spoil, they most tyrannically stripped 100 persons of all their
apparel. These outrages the earl complained of 'in humble wise' to the
lord deputy, and could find no remedy; for the same year the garrisons
of Lough Foyle, and Ballyshannon took from the earl's tenants 400 cows
for the victualling of the soldiers; and although the English council
wrote to the lord deputy, requiring him to pay for the cattle in
English money, the payment was never made. When, in pursuance of a
promise made to him by the lord deputy, he appeared before the king,
to get new letters patent of his territories, &c., his property, in
Sligo, Tyrawly, Moylurg, Dartry, Sir Cahir O'Dogherty's country,
and all Sir Nial O'Donel's lands, were excepted and kept from him,
together with the castle of Ballyshannon and 1,000 acres of land, and
the whole salmon-fishing of the river Erne, worth 800 l. a year, 'the
same castle being one of the earl's chieftest mansion houses.' They
also took from him 1,000 acres of his best land, and joined it to
the garrison of Lifford for the king's use, without any compensation.
There were seven sheriffs sent into Tyrconnel, by each of which there
was taken out of every cow and plough-horse 4 d., and as much out of
every colt and calf twice a year, and half-a-crown a quarter of every
shoemaker, carpenter, smith, and weaver in the whole country, and
eight pence a year for every married couple.'

Sir Nial O'Donel was committed to prison by Tyrconnel, for usurping
the title of O'Donel and taking his herds and tenants. 'He broke loose
from prison and killed some of his Majesty's subjects. For this the
earl prosecuted him under a special warrant from the lord deputy;
but notwithstanding all this, Carew gave warrants to Captains Pynnar,
Brook, and Bingley, to make reprisals upon the earl's tenants for the
pretender's use. Accordingly three English companies joining with nine
score of Sir Nial's men, seized and carried away 500 cows, 60 mares,
30 plough-horses, 13 horses, besides food and drink to support the
assailants for six weeks. They were guilty of many other extortions,
the country being extremely poor after the wars, and 17 of the earl's
tenants were hindered from ploughing that season. A certain horse-boy,
who was sentenced to be hanged for killing one Cusack, was promised
his life by Sir George Carew, if he accused Tyrconnel as having
employed him to commit the murder. The boy did make the accusation,
which served no purpose 'but to accelerate his hanging.' Thus
betrayed, he declared at the gallows, and in the presence of 400
persons, the sheriff of the county, and the portreve of Trim, he
retracted the false confession. A similar attempt was made with an
Englishman, who was kept a close prisoner without food, drink, or
light, in order to get him to accuse the earl of Cusack's murder.
All such, with many other of the said Carew's cruel and tyrannical
proceedings, the earl showed to the council in England, which promised
to give satisfaction by punishing the said Carew, who at his arrival
in England did rather obtain greater favours than any reprehension or
check of his doings, so as the earl was constrained to take _patience_
for a full satisfaction of his wrongs.

Sir Henry Docwra, governor of Derry, levied 100 l. off Tyrconnel's
tenants for the building of a church in that city, but the money was
applied by Sir Henry to his own use. Carew ordered the troops under
Sir H. Docwra, Sir H. Folliott, Sir Ralph Constable, Sir Thomas
Roper, and Captain Doddington, to be quartered for three months upon
Tyrconnel's people, 'where they committed many rapes, and used many
extortions, which the earl showed, and could neither get payment
for their victuals nor obtain that they should be punished for their
sundry rapes and extortions.' Indeed there was never a garrison in
Tyrconnel that did not send at their pleasure private soldiers into
the country to fetch, now three beeves, now four, as often as they
liked, until they had taken all; and when the earl complained,
Carew seemed rather to flout him than any way to right him. Sir H.
Folliott's company on one occasion took from his tenants thirty-eight
plough-horses, which were never restored or paid for; at another
time they took twenty-one, and again fourteen. This being done in the
spring of the year the tenants were hindered from ploughing as before.
During a whole year Folliott took for the use of his own house,
regularly every month, six beeves and six muttons, without any manner
of payment. Captain Doddington and Captain Cole made free with the
people's property in the same manner.

'All these injuries he laid in a very humble manner before the lord
deputy, but instead of obtaining redress he was dismissed by him in a
scoffing manner, and even a lawyer whom he employed was threatened by
Carew in the following terms:--that he and his posterity should smart
for his doings until the seventh generation; so that all the earl's
business was ever since left at random, and no lawyer dared plead in
his cause.'

Tyrconnel killed some rebels, and captured their chief, whom his men
carried to Sir H. Folliott to be executed. Sir Henry offered to spare
his life if he could accuse the earl of any crime that might work
his overthrow. He could not, and he was hanged. In order to settle
a dispute between the earl and Sir Nial, the English _protégé_ and
pretender to the chieftainship, twelve tenants of each were summoned
to be examined by the king's officers in the neighbourhood. 'The
earl's men were not examined, but locked up in a room; and the
vice-governor, upon the false deposition of Sir Nial's men, directed
warrants, and sent soldiers to the number of 300, to bring all the
earl's tenants unto Sir Nial, to the number of 340 persons, who paid
half-a-crown a piece, and 12 d. for every cow and garron, as a fee
unto the captains, whereby they lost their ploughing for the space of
twenty-eight days, the soldiers being in the country all the while.
One Captain Henry Vaughan, being sheriff in the year 1605, got a
warrant to levy 150 l. to build a sessions house. He built the house
of timber and wattles. It was not worth 10_l_, and it fell in three
months. Nevertheless he levied every penny of the money, and the
people had to meet a similar demand the next year, to build another
house. It was a rule with the governors of the local garrisons to
offer his life to every convict about to be executed, and also a large
reward, if he could accuse the earl of some detestable crime. No less
than twenty-seven persons hanged in Connaught and Tyrone were offered
pardon on this condition. He was at the same sessions called to the
bar for hanging some wood-kerne, although he had authority from the
king to execute martial law. Shortly after, by the lord deputy's
orders, the horse and foot soldiers under Docwra and Folliott were
cessed upon the country, where they for four months remained, and paid
nothing for their charges of horse-meat or man's meat.' In the year
1606 the lord deputy came to Ballyshannon, where, being at supper, he
demanded of the earl what right he had to the several territories he
claimed. He replied that his ancestors had possessed them for 1,300
years, and that the duties, rents, and homages were duly paid during
that time. Whereupon the lord deputy said, 'the earl was unworthy to
have them, he should never enjoy them, the State was sorry to have
left so much in his possession, and he should take heed to himself
or else the deputy would make his pate ache.' The matters in dispute
between him and Sir Nial being referred on that occasion to the lord
deputy, both parties having submitted their papers for examination,
every case was decided against Tyrconnel, all his challenges
frustrated, 300 l. damages imposed, and his papers burned; while Sir
Nial's papers were privately given back to him. The result was that
at the next sessions Sir Nial had the benefit of all his papers,
his opponent having nothing to show to the contrary. The fishery
of Killybegs, worth 500 l. a season, had belonged to Tyrconnel's
ancestors for 1,300 years. But it was taken from him without
compensation, by Sir Henry Folliott and the Bishop of Derry, with
the ultimate sanction of the lord deputy, who confirmed the bishop in
possession 'both for that season and for all times ensuing.' Sir H.
Folliott on one occasion took away for his carriage the horses
that served the earl's house with fuel and wood for fire, 'and the
soldiers, scorning to feed the horses themselves, went into the earl's
house, and forcibly took out one of his boys to lead them, and ran
another in the thigh with a pike for refusing to go with him.' He
had a number of tenants, who held their lands 'by lease of years for
certain rents.' Yet the lord deputy sent warrants to them, directing
them to pay no rents, and requiring the Governor of Derry 'to raise
the country from time to time, and resist and hinder the earl from
taking up his rents.'

To crown all, when Tyrconnel made a journey into the Pale to know the
reason why he was debarred from his rents, he lodged on his way in the
Abbey of Boyle. He had scarcely arrived there when the constable of
the town, accompanied by twenty soldiers, and all the churls of the
place, surrounded and set fire to the house where he lay, he having no
company within but his page and two other serving men. 'But it befell,
through the singular providence of Almighty God, whose fatherly care
he hath ever found vigilant over him, that he defended himself and his
house against them all the whole night long, they using on the other
side all their industry and might to fire it, and throwing in of
stones and staves in the earl's face, and running their pikes at him
and swords until they had wounded him, besides his other bruisings,
with stones and staves in six places; they menacing to kill him,
affirming that he was a traitor to the king, and that it was the best
service that could be rendered to his majesty to kill him. And that
all this is true, Sir Donough O'Conor, who was taken prisoner by the
same men, because he would not assist them in their _facinorous_ and
wicked design of killing the earl, will justify; but in the morning
the earl was rescued by the country folk, which conveyed him safely
out of the town. And when the earl complained, and showed his wounds
unto the lord deputy, he promised to hang the constable and ensign,
but afterwards did not once deign so much as to examine the matter
or call the delinquents to account, by reason whereof the earl doth
verily persuade himself--which his surmise was afterwards confirmed
in time, by the credible report of many--that some of the State
were sorry for his escape, but specially Sir Oliver Lambert, who had
purposely drawn the plot of the earl's ruin.'

[Transcriber's note: marker for following footnote is missing in the

[Footnote: Meehan's Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, pp. 192-224.]



Sir Toby Caulfield, accompanied by the sheriffs of Tyrone and
Tyrconnel, followed quickly the proclamation of the lord deputy to
the people of Ulster, and took possession of the houses, goods, and
chattels of the fugitive earls. Sir Toby was further empowered to act
as receiver over the estates, taking up the rents according to the
Irish usage until other arrangements could be made. His inventory
of the effects of O'Neill in the castle of Dungannon is a curious
document, showing that according to the ideas of those times in the
matter of furniture 'man wants but little here below.' The following
is a copy of the document taken from the memorandum roll of the
exchequer by the late Mr. Ferguson. It is headed, '_The Earl of
Tyrone's goods, viz._' The spelling is, however, modernised, and
ordinary figures substituted for Roman numerals.

_The Earl of Tyrone's Goods, viz._

                                                  £.   s.   d.

Small steers, 9 at 10 s.                           4   10   0

60 hogs, at 2 s. 6 d.                              7   10   0

2 long tables, 10 s.
2 long forms, 5 s.; an old bedstead, 5 s.
An old trunk, 3 s.; a long stool, 12 d.
3 hogsheads of salt, 28 s. 6 d.; all valued at     4   12   6

A silk jacket                                      0   13   4

8 vessels of butter, containing 4-1/2 barrels      5   17   6

2 iron spikes                                      0    2   0

A powdering tub                                    0    0   6

2 old chests                                       0    4   0

A frying-pan and a dripping-pan                    0    3   0

5 pewter dishes                                    0    5   0

A casket, 2 d.; a comb and comb case, 18 d.        0    1   8

2 dozen of trenchers and a basket                  0    0  10

2 eighteen-bar ferris                              0    6   0

A box and 2 drinking glasses                       0    1   3

A trunk 1; a pair of red taffeta curtains 1;
other pair of green satin curtains                 4    5   0

A brass kettle                                     0    8   6

'A payer of covyrons'                              0    5   0

2 baskets with certain broken earthen dishes and
some waste spices                                  0    2   0

Half a pound of white and blue starch              0    0   4

A vessel with 11 gallons of vinegar                0    3   0

17 pewter dishes                                   0   15   0

3 glass bottles                                    0    1   6

2 stone jugs, whereof 1 broken                     0    0   6

A little iron pot                                  0    1   6

A great spit                                       0    1   6

6 garrons at 80 s. apiece                          9    0   0

19 stud mares, whereof [some] were claimed by
Nicholas Weston, which were restored to him by
warrant, 30 l. 9 s. being proved to be his own,
and so remaineth                                  17    0   0

With respect to rents, Sir Toby Caulfield left a memorandum, stating
that there was no certain portion of Tyrone's land let to any of his
tenants that paid him rent, and that such rents as he received were
paid to him partly in money and partly in victuals, as oats, oatmeal,
butter, hogs, and sheep. The money-rents were chargeable on all the
cows, milch or in calf, which grazed on his lands, at the rate of
a shilling a quarter each. The cows were to be numbered in May and
November by the earl's officers, and 'so the rents were taken up at
said rate for all the cows that were so numbered, except only the
heads and principal men of the _creaghts_, as they enabled them to
live better than the common multitude under them, whom they caused to
pay the said rents, which amounted to about twelve hundred sterling
Irish a year.

'The butter and other provisions were usually paid by those styled
horsemen--O'Hagans, O'Quins, the O'Donnillys, O'Devolins, and others.'
These were a sort of middle men, and to some of them an allowance was
made by the Government. 'Thus for example, Loughlin O'Hagan, formerly
constable of the castle of Dungannon, received in lieu thereof a
portion of his brother Henry's goods, and Henry O'Hagan's wife and her
children had all her husband's goods, at the suit of her father Sir
G. O'Ghy O'Hanlon, who had made a surrender of all his lands to the

The cattle were to be all numbered over the whole territory in one
day, a duty which must have required a great number of men, and sharp
men too; for, if the owners were dishonestly inclined, and were
as active in that kind of work as the peasantry were during the
anti-tithe war in our own time, the cattle could be driven off into
the woods or on to the lands of a neighbouring lord. However, during
the three years that Caulfield was receiver, the rental amounted
to 12,000 l. a year, a remarkable fact considering the enormous
destruction of property that had taken place during the late wars, and
the value of money at that time.

A similar process was adopted with regard to the property of O'Donel,
and guards were placed in all the castles of the two chiefs. In order
that their territories might pass into the king's possession by due
form of law, the attorney-general, Sir John Davis, was instructed to
draw up a bill of indictment for treason against the fugitive
earls and their adherents. With this bill he proceeded to Lifford,
accompanied by a number of commissioners, clerks, sheriffs, and a
strong detachment of horse and foot. At Lifford, the county town of
Donegal, a jury was empanelled for the trial of O'Donel, consisting
of twenty-three Irishmen and ten Englishmen. Of this jury Sir Cahir
O'Dogherty was foreman. He was the lord of Inishowen, having the
largest territories in the county next to the Earl of Tyrconnel. The
bill being read in English and Irish, evidence was given, wrote the
attorney-general, 'that their guilty consciences, and fear of losing
their heads, was the cause of their flight.' The jury, however, had
exactly the same sort of difficulty that troubled the juries in our
late Fenian trials about finding the accused guilty of compassing the
death of the sovereign. But Sir John laboured to remove their scruples
by explaining the legal technicality, and arguing that, 'whoso would
take the king's crown from his head would likewise, if he could, take
his head from his shoulders; and whoever would not suffer the king to
reign, if it lay in his power, would not suffer the king to live.' The
argument was successful with the jury. In all the conflicts between
the two races, whether on the field of battle or in the courts of law,
the work of England was zealously done by Celtic agents, who became
the eager accusers, the perfidious betrayers, and sometimes the
voluntary assassins of men of their own name, kindred, and tribe.

The commissioners next sat at Strabane, a town within two or three
miles of Lifford, where a similar jury was empanelled for the county
Tyrone, to try O'Neill. One of the counts against him was that he had
treasonably taken upon him the name of O'Neill. In proof of this a
document was produced: 'O'Neill bids M'Tuin to pay 60 l.' It was also
alleged that he had committed a number of murders; but his victims,
it was alleged, were criminals ordered for execution in virtue of the
power of life and death with which he had been invested by the queen.
He was found guilty, however; and Henry Oge O'Neill, his kinsman,
who was foreman of the jury, was complimented for his civility and
loyalty, although he belonged to that class concerning which Sir John
afterwards wrote, 'It is as natural for an Irish lord to be a thief
as it is for the devil to be a liar, of whom it was written, he was a
liar and a murderer from the beginning.'

True bills having been found by the grand juries, proceedings were
taken in the Court of King's Bench to have the fugitive earls and
their followers attainted of high treason. The names were:--'Hugh
earl of Tyrone, Rory earl of Tyrconnel, Caffar O'Donel, Cu Connaught
Maguire, Donel Oge O'Donel, Art Oge, Cormack O'Neill, Henry
O'Neill, Henry Hovenden, Henry O'Hagan, Moriarty O'Quinn, John Bath,
Christopher Plunket, John O'Punty O'Hagan, Hugh O'Galagher, Carragh
O'Galagher, John and Edmund M'Davitt, Maurie O'Multully, Donogh
O'Brien, M'Mahon, George Cashel, Teigue O'Keenen, and many other false
traitors, who, by the instigation of the devil, did conspire and plot
the destruction and death of the king, Sir Arthur Chichester, &c.; and
did also conspire to seize by force of arms the castles of Athlone,
Ballyshannon, Duncannon, co. Wexford, Lifford, co. Donegal, and with
that intent did sail away in a ship, to bring in an army composed of
foreigners to invade the kingdom of Ireland, to put the king to death,
and to dispose him from the style, title, power, and government of the
Imperial crown.'

The lord deputy and his officers, able, energetic, farseeing men,
working together persistently for the accomplishment of a well-defined
purpose, were drawing the great net of English law closer and closer
around the heads of the Irish clans, who struggled gallantly and
wildly in its fatal meshes. The episode of Sir Cahir O'Dogherty is
a romance. On the death of Sir John O'Dogherty, the O'Donel, in
accordance with Irish custom, caused his brother Phelim Oge to be
inaugurated Prince of Inishowen, because Cahir, his son, was then
only thirteen years of age, too young to command the sept. But this
arrangement did not please his foster brothers, the M'Davitts, who
proposed to Sir Henry Docwra, governor of Derry, that their youthful
chief should be adopted as the queen's O'Dogherty; and on this
condition they promised that he and they would devote themselves to
her majesty's service. The terms were gladly accepted. Sir Cahir was
trained by Docwra in martial exercises, in the arts of civility, and
in English literature. He was an apt pupil. He grew up strong and
comely; and he so distinguished himself before he was sixteen years
of age in skirmishes with his father's allies, that Sir Henry wrote
of him in the following terms: 'The country was overgrown with ancient
oak and coppice. O'Dogherty was with me, alighted when I did, kept me
company in the greatest heat of the fight, behaved himself bravely,
and with a great deal of love and affection; so much so, that I
recommended him at my next meeting with the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, for
the honour of knighthood, which was accordingly conferred upon him.'
The young knight went to London, was well received at court, and
obtained a new grant of a large portion of the O'Dogherty's country.
He married a daughter of Lord Gormanstown, a catholic peer of the
Pale, distinguished for loyalty to the English throne, resided with
his bride at his Castle of Elagh, or at Burt, or Buncranna, keeping
princely state, not in the old Irish fashion, but in the manner of an
English nobleman of the period; hunting the red deer in his forest,
hawking, or fishing in the teeming waters of Lough Foyle, Lough
Swilly, and the Atlantic, which poured their treasures around the
promontory of which he was the lord. His intimate associates were
officers and favourites of the king.

Docwra had given up the government of Derry and retired to England. He
was succeeded by Sir George Paulet, a man of violent temper. Sir Cahir
had sold 3,000 acres of land, which was to be planted with English;
and, in order to perfect the deed of sale, it was necessary to have
the document signed before the governor of Derry. It had been reported
to the lord deputy that Sir Cahir, not content with his position,
intended to leave the country, probably with the design of joining the
fugitive earls in an attempt to destroy the English power in
Ireland. He was therefore summoned before the lord deputy; and Lord
Gormanstown, Thomas Fitzwilliam of Merrion, and himself, were obliged
to give security that he should not quit Ireland without due notice
and express permission. This restraint had probably irritated his
hot impetuous spirit, and made it difficult for him to exercise due
self-control when he came in contact with the English governor of
Derry, with whom his relations were not improved by the suspicions now
attaching to his loyalty. Accordingly, while the legal forms of
the transfer were being gone through, the young chief made a remark
extremely offensive to Paulet, which was resented by a blow in the
face with his clenched fist. Instead of returning the blow, young
O'Dogherty hurried away to consult the M'Davitts, whose advice was
that the insult he received must be avenged by blood. The affair
having been immediately reported to the lord deputy, who apprehended
that mischief would come of it, he sent a peremptory summons to Sir
Cahir, requiring him to appear in Dublin, 'to free himself of certain
rumours and reports touching disloyal courses into which he had
entered, contrary to his allegiance to the king, and threatening the
overthrow of many of his majesty's subjects.' His two sureties were
also written to, and required to 'bring in his body.' But O'Dogherty
utterly disregarded the lord deputy's order. Taking counsel with Nial
Garve O'Donel, he resolved to seize Culmore Fort, Castle Doe, and
other strong places; and then march on Derry, and massacre the English
settlers in the market square.

Towards the close of April, Sir Cahir invited Captain Harte, governor
of Culmore Castle, on the banks of the Foyle, about four miles from
Derry, with his wife and infant child, of which he was the godfather,
to dine with him at his Castle of Elagh.

The entertainment was sumptuous, and the pleasures of the table
protracted to a late hour. After dinner the host took his guest into
a private apartment, and told him that the blow he had received from
Paulet demanded a bloody revenge. Harte remonstrated; O'Dogherty's
retainers rushed in, and, drawing their swords and skeines, declared
that they would kill his wife and child in his presence, unless he
delivered up the castle of Culmore. The governor was terrified, but
he refused to betray his trust. Sir Cahir, commanding the armed men to
retire, locked the chamber door, and kept his guest imprisoned
there for two hours, hoping that he would yield when he had time for
reflection. But finding him still inflexible, O'Dogherty grew furious,
and vented his rage in loud and angry words. Mrs. Harte, hearing the
altercation, and suspecting foul play, rushed into the room, and
found Sir Cahir enforcing his appeal with a naked sword pointed at her
husband's throat. She fell on the floor in a swoon. Lady O'Dogherty
ran to her assistance, raised her up, and assured her that she knew
nothing of her husband's rash design. The latter then thrust the whole
party down-stairs, giving orders to his men to seize Captain Harte.
Meantime, Lady Harte fell on her knees, imploring mercy, but the only
response was an oath that she and her husband and child should be
instantly butchered if Culmore were not surrendered. What followed
shall be related in the words of Father Meehan: 'Horrified by this
menace, she consented to accompany him and his men to the fort, where
they arrived about midnight. On giving the pass word the gate was
thrown open by the warder, whose suspicions were lulled when Lady
Harte told him that her husband had broken his arm and was then lying
in Sir Cahir's house. The parley was short, and the followers of
Sir Cahir, rushing in to the tower, fell on the sleeping garrison,
slaughtered them in their beds, and then made their way to an upper
apartment where Lady Harte's brother, recently come from England,
was fast asleep. Fearing that he might get a bloody blanket for his
shroud, Lady Harte followed them into the room, and implored the
young man to offer no resistance to the Irish, who broke open trunks,
presses and other furniture, and seized whatever valuables they could
clutch. Her thoughtfulness saved the lives of her children and
her brother; for as soon as Sir Cahir had armed his followers with
matchlocks and powder out of the magazine, he left a small detachment
to garrison Culmore, and then marched rapidly on Derry, where he
arrived about two o'clock in the morning. Totally unprepared for
such an irruption, the townsfolk were roused from their sleep by the
bagpipes and war-shout of the Clan O'Dogherty, who rushed into the
streets, and made their way to Paulet's house, where Sir Cahir, still
smarting under the indignity of the angry blow, satisfied his vow of
vengeance by causing that unhappy gentleman to be hacked to death with
the pikes and skeines of Owen O'Dogherty and others of his kindred.
After plundering the houses of the more opulent inhabitants, seizing
such arms as they could find, and reducing the young town to a heap
of ashes, Sir Cahir led his followers to the palace of Montgomery the
bishop, who fortunately for himself was then absent in Dublin. Not
finding him, they captured his wife, and sent her, under escort, to
Burt Castle, whither Lady O'Dogherty, her sister-in-law and infant
daughter, had gone without warders for their protection. It was on
this occasion that Phelim M'Davitt got into Montgomery's library and
set fire to it, thus destroying hundreds of valuable volumes, printed
and manuscript, a feat for which he is not censured--we are sorry to
have to acknowledge it--by Philip O'Sullivan in his account of
the fact. Elated by this successful raid, Sir Cahir called off his
followers and proceeded to beleaguer Lifford, where there was a small
garrison of English who could not be induced to surrender, although
suffering severely from want of provisions. Finding all his attempts
to reduce the place ineffectual, he sent for the small force he had
left in Culmore to join the main body of his partisans, and then
marched into M'Swyne Doe's country.'

Meantime news of these atrocities reached Dublin, and the lord deputy
immediately sent a force of 3,000 men, commanded by Sir Richard
Wingfield, Sir Thomas Roper, and Sir Toby Caulfield, with instructions
to pursue the revolted Irish into their fastnesses and deal with them
summarily. He himself set out to act with the troops, and on reaching
Dundalk published a proclamation, in which he offered pardon to
all who laid down their arms, or would use them in killing their
associates. He took care, however, to except Phelim M'Davitt from all
hope of mercy, consigning him to be dealt with by a military tribunal.
The English force in the interval had made their way into O'Dogherty's
country, and coming before Culmore, found it abandoned by the Irish,
who, unable to carry off the heavy guns, took the precaution of
burying them in the sea. Burt Castle surrendered without a blow.
Wingfield immediately liberated the inmates, and sent Bishop
Montgomery's wife to her husband, and Lady O'Dogherty, her infant
daughter and sister-in-law, to Dublin Castle. As for Sir Cahir,
instead of going to Castle Doe, he resolved to cross the path of the
English on their march to that place, and coming up with them in the
vicinity of Kilmacrenan, he was shot dead by a soldier. The death of
the young chieftain spread panic among his followers, most of
whom flung away their arms, betook themselves to flight, and were
unmercifully cut down. Sir Cahir's head was immediately struck off and
sent to Dublin, where it was struck upon a pole at the east gate of
the city.

O'Dogherty's country was now confiscated, and the lord deputy,
Chichester, was rewarded with the greatest portion of his lands. But
what was to be done with the people? In the first instance they were
driven from the rich lowlands along the borders of Lough Foyle and
Lough Swilly, and compelled to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses
which stretched to a vast extent from Moville westward along the
Atlantic coast. But could those 'idle kerne and swordsmen,' thus
punished with loss of lands and home for the crimes of their chief,
be safely trusted to remain anywhere in the neighbourhood of the new
English settlers? Sir John Davis and Sir Toby Caulfield thought of
a plan by which they could get rid of the danger. The illustrious
Gustavus Adolphus was then fighting the battles of Protestantism
against the house of Austria. In his gallant efforts to sustain the
cause of the Reformation every true Irish Protestant sympathised, and
none more than the members of the Irish Government. To what better
use, then, could the 'loose Irish kerne and swordsmen' of Donegal be
turned than to send them to fight in the army of the King of Sweden?
Accordingly 6,000 of the able-bodied peasantry of Inishown were
shipped off for this service. Sir Toby Caulfield, founder of the
house of Charlemont, was commissioned to muster the men and have them
transported to their destination, being paid for their keep in the
meantime. A portion of his account ran thus: 'For the dyett of 80 of
said soldiers for 16 daies, during which tyme they were kept in prison
in Dungannon till they were sent away, at iiiid le peece per diem;
allso for dyett of 72 of said men kept in prison at Armagh till they
were sent away to Swethen, at iiiid le peece per diem,' &c., &c.
Caulfield was well rewarded for these services; and Captain Sandford,
married to the niece of the first Earl of Charlemont, obtained a
large grant of land on the same score. This system of clearing out the
righting men among the Irish was continued till 1629, when the lord
deputy, Falkland, wrote that Sir George Hamilton, a papist, then
impressing soldiers in Tyrone and Antrim, was opposed by one
O'Cullinan, a priest, who was rash enough to advise the people to stay
at home and have nothing to do with the Danish wars. For this he was
arrested, committed to Dublin Castle, tortured and then hanged.

With regard to the immediate followers of O'Dogherty in his insane
course, many of the most prominent leaders were tried by court-martial
and executed. Others were found guilty by ordinary course of law.
Among these was O'Hanlon, Sir Cahir's brother-in-law. Pie was hanged
at Armagh; and his youthful wife was found by a soldier, 'stripped of
her apparel, in a wood, where she perished of cold and hunger, being
lately before delivered of a child.' M'Davitt, the firebrand of the
rebellion, was convicted and executed at Derry. At Dungannon Shane,
Carragh O'Cahan was found guilty by 'a jury of his _kinsmen_' and
executed in the camp, his head being stuck upon the castle of that
place--the castle from which his brother was mainly instrumental in
driving its once potent lord into exile. At the same place a monk, who
was a chief adviser of the arch-rebel, saved his life and liberty by
tearing off his religious habit, and renouncing his allegiance to
the Pope. Father Meehan states that many of the clergy, secular and
regular, of Inishown might have saved their lives by taking the oath
of supremacy. It was a terrible time in Donegal. No day passed without
the killing and taking of some of the dispersed rebels, one betraying
another to get his own pardon, and the goods of the party betrayed,
according to a proviso in the deputy's proclamation. Among the
informers was a noble lady, the mother of Hugh Roe O'Donel and Rory
Earl of Tyronnel, who accused Nial Garve, her own son-in-law, of
complicity in O'Dogherty's revolt, for which she got a grant of some
hundreds of acres in the neighbourhood of Kilmacrenan.

The insurgent leaders and the dangerous kerne having been effectually
cleared off in various ways, the whole territory of Inishown was
overrun by the king's troops. The lord deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester,
with a numerous retinue, including the attorney-general, sheriffs,
lawyers, provosts-martial, engineers, and 'geographers,' made a grand
'progress,' and penetrated for the first time the region which was to
become the property of his family. It was a strange sight to the poor
Irish that were suffered to remain. 'As we passed through the glens
and forests,' wrote Sir John Davis, 'the wild inhabitants did as much
wonder to see the king's deputy as the ghosts in Virgil did to see
Æneas alive in hell.' In this exploring tour a thorough knowledge of
the country was for the first time obtained, and the attorney-general
could report that 'before Michaelmas he would be ready to present to
his majesty a perfect survey of six whole counties which he now hath
in actual possession in the province of Ulster, of greater extent of
land than any prince in Europe hath in his own hands to dispose of.' A
vast field for plantation! But Sir John Davis cautioned the Government
against the mistakes that caused the failure of former settlements,
saying, that if the number of the Scotch and English who were to come
to Ireland did not much exceed that of the natives, the latter would
quickly 'overgrow them, as weeds overgrow corn.'

O'Cahan, who was charged with complicity in O'Dogherty's outbreak, or
with being at least a sympathiser, had been arrested, and was kept,
with Nial Garve, a close prisoner in Dublin Castle. An anonymous
pamphleteer celebrated the victories that had been achieved by the
lord deputy, giving to his work the title, 'The Overthrow of an Irish
Rebel,' having for its frontispiece a tower with portcullis, and the
O'Dogherty's head impaled in the central embrazure. The spirit of the
narrative may be inferred from the following passage: 'As for Tyrone
and Co., or Tyrconnel, they are already fled from their coverts, and I
hope they will never return; and for other false hearts, the chief of
note is O'Cahan, Sir Nial Garve, and his two brothers, with others of
their condition. They have holes provided for them in the castle of
Dublin, where I hope they are safe enough from breeding any cubs to
disquiet and prey upon the flock of honest subjects.'

O'Cahan and his companion, however, tried to get out of the hole,
although the lord deputy kept twenty men every night to guard the
castle, in addition to the ordinary ward, and two or three of the
guards lay in the same rooms with the prisoners. Their horses had
arrived in town, and all things were in readiness. But their escape
was hindered by the fact that Shane O'Carolan, who had been acquitted
of three indictments, cast himself out of a window at the top of the
castle by the help of his mantle, which broke before he was half way
down; and though he was presently discovered, yet he escaped about
supper time. 'Surely,' exclaimed the lord deputy, 'these men do go
beyond all nations in the world for desperate escapes!' The prisoners
were subsequently conveyed to the Tower, where they remained many
years closely confined, and where they ended their days. Sir Allen
Apsley, in 1623, made a report of the prisoners then in his custody,
in which he said, 'There is here Sir Nial Garve O'Donel, a man that
was a good subject during the late queen's time, and did as great
service to the state as any man of his nation. He has been a prisoner
here about thirteen years. His offence is known specially to the Lord
Chichester. Naghtan, his son, was taken from Oxford and committed with
his father. I never heard any offence he did.'

While O'Cahan was in prison, commissioners sat in his mansion at
Limavaddy, including the Primate Usher, Bishop Montgomery of Derry,
and Sir John Davis. They decided that by the statute of 11 Elizabeth,
which it was supposed had been cancelled by the king's pardon, all his
territory had been granted to the Earl of Tyrone, and forfeited by
his flight. It was, therefore, confiscated. Although sundry royal and
viceregal proclamations had assured the tenants that they would not
be disturbed in their possessions, on account of the offences of their
chiefs, it was now declared that all O'Cahan's country belonged to
the crown, and that neither he nor those who lived under him had any
estate whatever in the lands. Certain portions of the territory were
set apart for the Church, and handed over to Bishop Montgomery. 'Of
all the fair territory which once was his, Donald Balagh had not now
as much as would afford him a last resting-place near the sculptured
tomb of Cooey-na-gall. O'Cahan got no sympathy, and he deserved
none; for he might have foreseen that the Government to which he sold
himself would cast him off as an outworn tool, when he could no
longer subserve their wicked purposes.'[1] 'Thus were the O'Cahans
dispossessed by the colonists of Derry, to whom their broad lands and
teeming rivers were passed, _mayhap_ for ever. Towards the close of
the Cromwellian war in Ireland, the Duchess of Buckingham, passing
through Limavaddy, visited its ancient castle, then sadly dilapidated,
and, entering one of the apartments, saw an aged woman wrapped in a
blanket, and crouching over a peat fire, which filled the room with
reeking smoke. After gazing at this pitiful spectacle, the duchess
asked the miserable individual her name; when the latter, rising and
drawing herself up to her full height, replied, "I am the wife of
the O'Cahan."'[Father Meehan dedicates his valuable work to the lord
chancellor of Ireland, the Right Hon. Thomas O'Hagan,--the first
Catholic chancellor since the Revolution. Descended from the O'Hagans,
who were hereditary justiciaries and secretaries to the O'Neill, he
is, by universal consent, one of the ablest and most accomplished
judges that ever adorned the Irish Bench. His ancestors were involved
in the fortunes of Tyrone. How strange that the representative of the
judicial and literary clan of ancient Ulster should now be the head of
the Irish magistracy!]

[Footnote 1: Meehan, p.317.]



In the account which the lord deputy gave of the flight of Tyrone
and Tyrconnel, he referred to the mistake that had been committed in
making these men proprietary lords of so large a territory, '_without
regard to the poor freeholders' rights, or of his majesty's service,
or the commonwealths, that are so much interested in the honest
liberty of that sort of men_.' And he considered it a providential
circumstance that the king had now an opportunity of repairing that
error, and of relieving the natives from the exactions and tyranny of
their former barbarous lords. How far this change was a benefit to
the honest freeholders and the labouring classes may be seen from the
reports of Sir Toby Caulfield to the lord deputy, as to his dealings
with those people. He complains of his ill success in the prosecution
of the wood-kerne. He had done his best, and all had turned to
nothing. When the news of the plantation came, he had no hope at all,
for the people then said it would be many of their cases to become
wood-kerne themselves out of necessity, 'no other means being left for
them to keep being in this world than to live as long as they could
by scrambling.' They hoped, however, that so much of the summer being
spent before the commissioners came down, 'so great cruelty would not
be showed as to remove them upon the edge of winter from their
houses, and in the very season when they were employed in making their
harvest. They held discourse among themselves, that if this course had
been taken with them in war time, it had had some colour of justice;
but being pardoned, and their land given them, and they having lived
under law ever since, and being ready to submit themselves to the
mercy of the law, for any offence they can be charged withal, since
their pardoning, they conclude it to be the greatest cruelty that was
ever inflicted upon any people.'

It is no wonder that Sir Toby was obliged to add to his report this
assurance: 'There is not a more discontented people in Christendom.'
It is difficult to conceive how any people in Christendom could be
contented, treated as they were, according to this account, which the
officer of the Government did not deny; for surely no people, in any
Christian country, were ever the victims of such flagrant injustice,
inflicted by a Government which promised to relieve them from the
cruel exactions of their barbarous chiefs--a Government, too, solemnly
pledged to protect them in the unmolested enjoyment of their houses
and lands. How little this policy tended to strengthen the Government
appears from a confession made about the same time by the lord deputy
himself. He wrote: 'The hearts of the Irish are against us: we have
only a handful of men in entertainment so ill paid, that everyone is
out of heart, and our resources so discredited, by borrowing and
not repaying, that we cannot take up 1,000 l. in twenty days, if the
safety of the kingdom depended upon it. The Irish are hopeful of the
return of the fugitives, or invasion from foreign parts.'

But the safety of England, do what she might in the way of oppression,
lay then, as it lay often since, and ever will lie, in the tendency
to division, and the instability of the Celtic character. The Rev. Mr.
Meehan, with all his zeal for Irish nationality, admits this failing
of the people with his usual candour. He says: 'These traits, so
peculiar to the Celtic character, have been justly stigmatised by a
friendly and observant Italian (the Nuncio Rinuccini) who, some thirty
years after the period of which we are writing, tells us that the
native Irish were behind the rest of Europe in the knowledge of
those things that tended to their material improvement--indifferent
agriculturists, living from hand to mouth--caring more for the sword
than the plough--good Catholics, though by nature barbarous--and
placing their hopes of deliverance from English rule on foreign
intervention. For this they were constantly straining their eyes
towards France or Spain, and, no matter whence the ally came, were
ever ready to rise in revolt. One virtue, however--intensest love of
country--more or less redeemed these vices, for so they deserve to be
called; but to establish anything like strict military discipline
or organisation among themselves, it must be avowed they had no
aptitude.' This, says Mr. Meehan, 'to some extent, will account for
the apathy of the Northern Catholics, while the undertakers were
carrying on the gigantic eviction known as the plantation of Ulster;
for, since Sir Cahir O'Dogherty's rebellion till 1615, there was only
one attempt to resist the intruders, an abortive raid on the city of
Derry, for which the meagre annals of that year tell us, six of the
Earl of Tyrone's nearest kinsmen were put to death. Withal the people
of Ulster were full of hope that O'Neill would return with forces to
evict the evicters, but the farther they advanced into this agreeable
perspective, the more rapidly did its charms disappear.

The proclamations against wood-kerne present a curious picture of
these 'plantation' times. The lord deputy, in council, understood
that 'many idle kerne, loose and masterless men, and other disordered
persons, did range up and down in sundry parts of this kingdom, being
armed with swords, targets, pikes, shot, head-pieces, horsemen's
staves, and other warlike weapons, to the great terror of his
majesty's well-disposed subjects, upon whom they had committed many
extortions, murders, robberies, and other outrages. Hence divers
proclamations had been published in his majesty's name, commanding
that no person of what condition soever, travelling on horseback,
should presume to carry more arms than one sword or rapier and dagger;
and that no person travelling on foot should carry any weapons at all.
Twenty days were allowed for giving the arms to the proper officers.
If the proclamation was not obeyed within that time, the arms were
to be seized for the king's use, and the bearers of them committed to

On July 21, 1609, a commission was issued by the crown to make
inquisition concerning the forfeited lands in Ulster after the flight
of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel. The commissioners included the
Lord-Deputy Chichester, the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, Sir John
Davis, attorney-general; Sir William Parsons, surveyor-general, and
several other public functionaries. This work done, King James, acting
on the advice of his prime minister, the Earl of Salisbury, took
measures for the plantation of Ulster, a project earnestly recommended
by statesmen connected with Ireland, and for which the flight of
O'Neill and O'Donel furnished the desired opportunity. The city of
London was thought to be the best quarter to look to for funds to
carry on the plantation. Accordingly, Lord Salisbury had a conference
with the lord mayor, Humphry Weld, Sir John Jolles, and Sir W.
Cockaine, who were well acquainted with Irish affairs. The result was
the publication of 'Motives and Reasons to induce the City of London
to undertake the Plantation in the North of Ireland.'

The inducements were of the most tempting character. It is customary
to speak of Ulster, before the plantation, as something like a desert,
out of which the planters created an Eden. But the picture presented
to the Londoners was more like the land which the Israelitish spies
found beyond Jordan--a land flowing with milk and honey. Among
'the land commodities which the North of Ireland produceth' were
these:--the country was well watered generally by abundance of
springs, brooks, and rivers. There was plenty of fuel--either wood,
or 'good and wholesome turf.' The land yielded 'store of all necessary
for man's sustenance, in such a measure as may not only maintain
itself, but also furnish the city of London yearly with manifold
provision, especially for their fleets--namely, with beef, pork, fish,
rye, bere, peas, and beans.' It was not only fit for all sorts of
husbandry, but it excelled for the breeding of mares and the increase
of cattle; whence the Londoners might expect 'plenty of butter,
cheese, hides, and tallow,' while English sheep would breed abundantly
there. It was also held to be good in many places for madder, hops,
and woad. It afforded 'fells of all sorts in great quantity, red deer,
foxes, sheep, lambs, rabbits, martins and squirrels,' &c. Hemp and
flax grew more naturally there than elsewhere, which, being well
regarded, would give provision for canvas, cables, cording, besides
thread, linen cloth, and all stuffs made of linen yarn, 'which are
more fine and plentiful there than in all the rest of the kingdom.'
Then there were the best materials of all sorts for building, with
'the goodliest and largest timber, that might compare with any in his
majesty's dominions;' and, moreover, the country was 'very plentiful
in honey and wax.'

The sea and the rivers vied with the land in the richness of their
produce. 'The sea fishing of that coast was very plentiful of all
manner of usual sea fish--there being yearly, after Michaelmas, for
taking of herrings, above seven or eight score sail of his majesty's
subjects and strangers for lading, besides an infinite number of boats
for fishing and killing.'

The corporation were willing to undertake the work of plantation if
the account given of its advantages should prove to be correct.
With the caution of men of business, they wished to put the glowing
representations of the Government to the test of an investigation by
agents of their own. So they sent over 'four wise, grave, and discreet
citizens, to view the situation proposed for the new colony.' The men
selected were John Broad, goldsmith; Robert Treswell, painter-stainer;
John Rowley, draper; and John Munns, mercer. On their return from
their Irish mission they presented a report to the Court of Common
Council, which was openly read. The report was favourable. A company
was to be formed in London for conducting the plantation. Corporations
were to be founded in Derry and Coleraine, everything concerning
the colony to be managed and performed in Ireland by the advice and
direction of the company in London. It was agreed between the Privy
Council and the City that the sum of 20,000 l. should be levied,
15,000 l. for the intended plantation, and 5,000 l. 'for the clearing
of private men's interest in the things demanded.' That 200 houses
should be built in Derry, and room left for 300 more. 'That 4,000
acres lying on the Derry side, next adjacent to the wherry, should be
laid thereunto--bog and barren mountain to be no part thereof, but
to go as waste for the city; the same to be done by indifferent

The royal charters and letters clearly set forth the objects of the
plantation. James I., in the preamble of the charter to the town of
Coleraine, thus described his intentions in disposing of the forfeited
lands to English undertakers: 'Whereas there can be nothing more
worthy of a king to perform than to establish the true religion of
Christ among men hitherto depraved and almost lost in superstition;
to improve and cultivate by art and industry countries and lands
uncultivated and almost desert, and not only to stock them with
honest citizens and inhabitants, but also to strengthen them with
good institutions and ordinances, whereby they might be more safely
defended not only from the corruption of their morals but from their
intestine and domestic plots and conspiracies, and also from foreign
violence: And whereas the province of Ulster in our realm of Ireland,
for many years past, hath grossly erred from the true religion of
Christ and divine grace, and hath abounded with superstition, insomuch
that for a long time it hath not only been harassed, torn, and wasted
by private and domestic broils but also by foreign arms: We therefore,
deeply and heartily commiserating the wretched state of the said
province, have esteemed it to be a work worthy of a Christian prince,
and of our royal office, to stir up and recal the same province from
superstition, rebellion, calamity, and poverty, which heretofore
have horribly raged therein, to religion, obedience, strength, and
prosperity. And whereas our beloved and faithful subjects the mayor
and commonalty and citizens of our city of London, burning with a
flagrant zeal to promote such our pious intention in this behalf, have
undertaken a considerable part of the said plantation in Ulster, and
are making progress therein'.

King James, having heard very unsatisfactory reports of the progress
of the plantation, wrote a letter to the lord deputy in 1612,
strongly complaining of the neglect of the 'Londoners' to fulfil the
obligations they had voluntarily undertaken. He had made 'liberal
donations of great proportions of those lands to divers British
undertakers and servitors, with favourable tenures and reservations
for their better encouragement; but hitherto neither the safety of
that country, nor the planting of religion and civility among those
rude and barbarous people, which were the principal motives of that
project, and which he expected as the only fruits and returns of
his bounty, had been as yet any whit materially effected. He was not
ignorant how much the real accomplishment of the plantation concerned
the future peace and safety of that kingdom; but if there was no
reason of state to press it forward, he would yet pursue and effect
that object with the same earnestness, 'merely for the goodness and
morality of it; esteeming the settling of religion, the introducing
of civility, order, and government among a barbarous and unsubjected
people, to be acts of piety and glory, and worthy also a Christian
prince to endeavour.'

The king therefore ordered that there should be a strict inquiry into
the work done, because 'the Londoners pretended the expense of great
sums of money in that service, and yet the outward appearance of it
was very small.' The lord deputy was solemnly charged to give him
a faithful account without care or fear to displease any of his
subjects, English or Scottish, of what quality soever.'

Sir Josias Bodley was the commissioner appointed for this purpose. He
reported very unfavourably, in consequence of which his majesty
called upon the Irish society and the several companies to give him an
account of their stewardship. He also wrote again to the lord deputy
in 1615. The language the king uses is remarkable, as proving the
_trusteeship_ of the companies. Referring to Bodley's report he

'We have examined, viewed, and reviewed, with our own eye, every part
thereof, and find greatly to our discontentment the slow progression
of that plantation; some few only of our British undertakers,
servitors, and natives having as yet proceeded effectually by the
accomplishment of such things in all points as are required of them
by the articles of the plantation; the rest, and by much the greatest
part, having either done nothing at all, or so little, or, by reason
of the slightness thereof, to so little purpose, that the work seems
rather to us to be forgotten by them, and to perish under their hand,
than any whit to be advanced by them; some having begun to build and
not planted, others begun to plant and not built, and all of them, in
general, retaining the Irish still upon their lands, the avoiding of
which was the fundamental reason of that plantation. We have made
a collection of their names, as we found their endeavours and
negligences noted in the service, which we will retain as a memorial
with us, and they shall be sure to feel the effects of our favour and
disfavour, as there shall be occasion. It is well known to you that
if we had intended only (as it seems most of them over-greedily
have done) our present profit, we might have converted those large
territories to our escheated lands, to the great improvement of the
revenue of our crown there; but we chose rather, for the safety of
that country and the civilizing of that people, to part with the
inheritance of them at extreme undervalues, and to make a plantation
of them; and since we were merely induced thereunto out of reason of
state, we think we may without any breach of justice make bold with
their rights who have neglected their duties in a service of so much
importance unto us, and by the same law and reason of state resume
into our hands their lands who have failed to perform, according to
our original intention, the articles of plantation, and bestow them
upon some other men more active and worthy of them than themselves:
and the time is long since expired within which they were bound to
have finished to all purposes their plantation, so that we want not
just provocation to proceed presently with all rigour against them.'

He gave them a year to pull up their arrears of work, and in
conclusion said to Chichester: 'My lord, in this service I expect that
zeal and uprightness from you, that you will spare no flesh, English
or Scottish; for no private man's worth is able to counterbalance
the particular safety of a kingdom, which this plantation, well
accomplished, will procure.'

Two or three years later, Captain Pynnar was sent to survey the lands
that had been granted to the undertakers, and to report upon the
improvements they had effected. A few notices from his report will
give an idea of the state of Ulster at the commencement of this great
social revolution:--

Armagh was one of the six counties confiscated by James I. The
territory had belonged to the O'Neills, the O'Hanlons, the O'Carrols,
and M'Kanes, whose people were all involved more or less in the
fortunes of the Earl of Tyrone, who wielded sovereign power over this
portion of Ulster. The plantation scheme was said to be the work of
the Privy Council of Ireland, and submitted by them for the adoption
of the English Government. It was part of the plan that all the lands
escheated in each county should be divided into four parts, whereof
two should be subdivided into proportions consisting of about 1,000
acres a piece; a third part into proportions of 1,500 acres; and the
fourth in proportions of 2,000 acres. Every proportion was to be made
into a parish, a church was to be erected on it, and the minister
endowed with glebe land. If an incumbent of a parish of 1,000 acres he
was to have sixty; if of 1,500 acres, ninety; and if 2,000 acres, he
was to have 120 acres; and the whole tithes and duties of every
parish should be allotted to the incumbent as well as the glebe. The
undertakers were to be of several sorts. 1st, English and Scotch, who
were to plant their proportions with English and Scotch tenants; 2nd,
servitors in Ireland, who might take English or Scotch tenants at
their choice; 3rd, natives of the county, who were to be freeholders.

With respect to the disposal of the natives, it was arranged that the
same course should be adopted as in the county of Tyrone, which was
this: some were to be planted upon two of the small proportions, and
upon the glebes; others upon the land of Sir Art O'Neill's sons and
Sir Henry Oge O'Neill's sons, 'and of such other Irish as shall be
thought fit to have any _freeholds_; some others upon the portions of
such servitors as are not able to inhabit these lands with English or
Scotch tenants, especially of _such as best know how to rule and
order the Irish_. But the swordsmen (that is, the armed retainers or
soldiers of the chiefs) are to be transplanted into such other parts
of the kingdom as, by reason of the wastes therein, are fittest to
receive them, namely, into Connaught and some parts of Munster, where
they are to be dispersed, and not planted together in one place; and
such swordsmen, who have not followers or cattle of their own, to be
disposed of in his majesty's service.' This provision about planting
the swordsmen, however, was not carried out. The whole county of
Armagh was found to contain 77,300 acres of arable and pasture land,
which would make 60 proportions. That county, as well as other parts
of ancient Ireland, was divided into ballyboes, or townlands, tracts
of tillage land surrounding the native villages unenclosed, and held
in _rundale_, having ranges of pasture for their cattle, which were
herded in common, each owner being entitled to a certain number of
'collops' in proportion to his arable land. As these ballyboes were
not of equal extent, the English made the division of land by acres,
and erected boundary fences.

The primate's share in this county was 2,400 acres. The glebes
comprised 4,650 acres; the College of Dublin got 1,200, and the Free
School at Armagh 720; Sir Turlough M'Henry possessed 9,900 acres,
and 4,900 had been granted to Sir Henry Oge O'Neill. After these
deductions, there were for the undertakers 55,620 acres, making in all
forty-two proportions.

Number one in the survey is the estate of William Brownlow, Esq.,
which contained two proportions, making together 2,500 acres. Pynar
reported as follows: 'Upon the proportion of Ballenemony there is a
strong stone house within a good island; and at Dowcoran there is a
very fair house of stone and brick, with good lyme, and hath a strong
bawne of timber and earth with a pallizado about it. There is now laid
in readiness both lyme and stone, to make a bawne thereof, the which
is promised to be done this summer. He hath made a very fair town,
consisting of forty-two houses, all which are inhabited with
English families, and the streets all paved clean through; also two
water-mills and a wind-mill, all for corn, and he hath store of arms
in his house.'

Pynar found 'planted and estated' on this territory 57 families
altogether, who were able to furnish 100 men with arms, there not
being one Irish family upon all the land. There was, however, a number
of sub-tenants, which accounts for the fact that there was 'good store
of tillage.' Five of the English settlers were freeholders, having 120
acres each; and there were 52 leaseholders, whose farms varied in size
from 420 acres to 5; six of them holding 100 acres and upwards. This
was the foundation of the flourishing town of Lurgan.

Mr. Obens had 2,000 acres obtained from William Powell, the first
patentee. He had built a bawne of sods with a pallizado of boards
ditched about. Within this there was a 'good fair house of brick and
lyme,' and near it he had built four houses, inhabited by English
families. There were twenty settlers, who with their under-tenants
were able to furnish forty-six armed men. This was the beginning of

The fourth lot was obtained from the first patentee by Mr. Cope, who
had 3,000 acres. 'He built a bawne of lyme and stone 180 feet square,
14 feet high, with four flankers; and in three of them he had built
very good lodgings, which were three stories high.' He erected
two water-mills and one wind-mill, and near the bawne he had built
fourteen houses of timber, which were inhabited by English families.
This is now the rich district of Lough Gall.

It should be observed here that, in all these crown grants, the
patentees were charged crown rents only for the _arable_ lands
conveyed by their title-deeds, bogs, wastes, mountain, and unreclaimed
lands of every description being thrown in gratuitously; amounting
probably to ten or fifteen times the quantity of demised ground set
down in acres. Lord Lurgan's agent, Mr. Hancock, at the commencement
of his evidence before the Devon Commission, stated that 'Lord Lurgan
is owner of about 24,600 acres, with a population of 23,800, under the
census of 1841'--that is, by means of original reclamation, drainage,
and other works of agricultural improvement, Mr. Brownlow's 2,500
acres of the year 1619, had silently grown up to 24,600 acres, and
his hundred swordsmen, or pikemen, the representatives of 57 families,
with a few subordinates, had multiplied to 23,800 souls. Now Mr.
Hancock founds the tenant-right custom upon the fact that few, if any,
of the 'patentees were wealthy;' we may therefore fairly presume that
the _settlers built their own houses, and made their own improvements
at their own expense_, contrary to the English practice.' As the
population increased, and 'arable' land became valuable, bogs, wastes,
and barren land were gradually reclaimed and cultivated, through
the hard labour and at the cost of the occupying tenantry, until the
possessions of his descendants have spread over ten times the area
nominally demised by the crown to their progenitor. This process went
on all over the province.

Sixteen years passed away, and in the opinion of the Government the
London companies and the Irish Society, instead of reforming as Irish
planters, went on from bad to worse. Accordingly, in 1631, Charles I.
found it necessary to bring them into the Star Chamber. In a letter to
the lords justices he said:--

'Our father, of blessed memory, in his wisdom and singular care,
both to fortify and preserve that country of Ireland from foreign and
inward forces, and also for the better establishment of true religion,
justice, civility, and commerce, found it most necessary to erect
British plantations there; and, to that end, ordained and published
many politic and good orders, and for the encouragement of planters
gave them large proportions and privileges. Above the rest, his grace
and favour was most enlarged to the Londoners, who undertook the
plantation of a considerable part of Ulster, and were specially
chosen for their ability and professed zeal to public works; and yet
advertisements have been given from time to time, not only by private
men, but by all succeeding deputies, and by commissioners sent from
hence and chosen there, and being many of them of our council, that
the _Londoners for private lucre_ have broken and neglected both their
general printed ordinances and other particular directions given by us
and our council here, so as if they hall escape unpunished all others
will be heartened to do the like, and in the end expose that our
kingdom to former confusions and dangers; for prevention whereof we
have, upon mature advice of our councillors for those causes, caused
them to be questioned in our high court of Star-chamber here, whence
commission is now sent to examine witnesses, upon interrogatories, for
discovery of the truth; and because we understand that the Londoners
heretofore prevailed with some, from whom we expected better service,
that in the return of the last commission many things agreed under the
hands of most commissioners were not accordingly certified: Now that
our service may not surfer by like partiality, we will and require
you to have an especial eye to this business; and take care that this
commission be faithfully executed, and that no practice or indirect
means be used, either to delay the return or to frustrate the ends of
truth in every interrogatory.'

This proceeding on the part of the crown was ascribed to the influence
of Bishop Bramhall, who had come over with Lord Strafford as his
chaplain. The result was, that in 1632 the whole county of Londonderry
was sequestrated, and the rents levied for the king's use, the Bishop
of Derry being appointed receiver and authorised to make leases. The
lord chancellor, with the concurrence of the other judges, decreed
that the letters patent should be surrendered and cancelled. This
decree was duly executed.

Cromwell reinstated the companies in their possessions, and Charles
II., instead of reversing the forfeiture, granted a new charter. This
charter founded a system of protection and corporate exclusiveness,
the most perfect perhaps that ever existed in the three kingdoms.
He began by constituting Londonderry a county, and Derry city a
corporation--to be called Londonderry. He named the aldermen and
burgesses, who were to hold their offices during their natural lives.
He placed both the county and city under the control of 'the Irish
Society,' which was then definitely formed. He appointed Sir Thomas
Adams first governor, and John Saunders, deputy governor. He also
appointed the twenty-four assistants, all citizens of London. He
invested the society with full power 'to send orders and directions
from, this kingdom of England into the said realm of Ireland, by
letters or otherwise, for the ordering, directing, and disposing of
all and all manner of matters and things whatsoever of and concerning
the same plantation, or the disposition or government thereof. The
grant of property was most comprehensive:--

'We also will, and, by these presents for us, our heirs and
successors, do give, grant, and confirm to the said society of the
governor and assistants [London] of the new plantation in Ulster
within the realm of Ireland, and their successors: 'All that the city,
fort, and town of Derry, and all edifices and structures thereof, with
the appurtenances, in the county of the city of Derry aforesaid, in
the province of Ulster, in our realm of Ireland; and also the whole
island of Derry, with the appurtenances, and all lands and the whole
ground within the island of Derry aforesaid, in the said county of the
city of Derry, otherwise Londonderry, within the province of Ulster,
in our aforesaid realm of Ireland. And also all those lands next
adjacent to the said city or town of Derry, lying and being on or
towards the west part of the river of Loughfoyle, containing by
estimation four thousand acres, besides bog and barren mountains,
which said bog and barren mountains may be had and used as waste to
the same city belonging. And also all that portion and proportion
of land by the general survey of all the lands in the aforesaid late
county of Coleraine, now Londonderry, heretofore taken, called the
great proportion of Boughtbegg, lying and being in the barony or
precinct of Coleraine, now Londonderry, within the province of Ulster
aforesaid, in our said realm of Ireland; that is to say, all lands,
tenements, and other hereditaments, called and known by the names, and
situate, lying, and being in or within the several towns, villages,
hamlets, places, balliboes, or parcels of land following, that is to
say: Hacketbegg, being two balliboes of land; Aglakightagh, being two
balliboes of land; Altybryan, being one balliboe of land; Bratbooly,
being one balliboe of land; Hackmoore, being one balliboe of land;
Tirecurrin, being one balliboe of land; Edermale, being one balliboe
of land; Lennagorran, being one balliboe of land; Knockmult, being one
balliboe of land; Boughtmore, being one balliboe of land; Boughtbegg,
being one balliboe of land, &c.

'We will also, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors,
do grant and confirm to the said society of the governor and
assistants [London] of the new plantation in Ulster, and their
successors, that they and their successors, and also all their
assigns, deputies, ministers, and servants shall and may have full
liberty of fishing, hawking, and fowling in all the places, tenements,
shores, and coasts aforesaid, at their will and pleasure.

'And that it shall and may be lawful to and for them and every of them
to draw and dry their nets, and pack the fishes there taken upon any
part of the shores and coasts aforesaid where they shall fish; and
the salmons and other fishes there taken to take thence and carry away
without any impediment, contradiction, or molestation of us or others
whomsoever, wheresoever it shall happen to be done.

'And that in like manner they may have the several fishings and
fowlings within the city of Londonderry aforesaid, and in all lands
and tenements before mentioned to be granted and confirmed to the said
society of the governor and assistants [London] of the new plantation
in Ulster and their successors, and in the river and water of
Loughfoile, to the ebb of the sea, and in the river or water of Bann
to Loughneagh.'

The grants were made without any reservation in favour of the tenants
or the old inhabitants, saving some portions of land given by letters
patent by his grandfather to 'certain _Irish gentlemen_ in the said
county of Londonderry, heretofore inhabiting and residing, and who
were heretofore made freeholders, and their successors, under a small
yearly rent,' which was to be paid to the Irish Society. Even the
Irish gentlemen were not allowed to hold their ancient inheritance
directly under the crown. I am informed that there is but one Roman
Catholic landed gentleman now remaining in the whole province of

The Londoners had extraordinary privileges as traders. They had free
quarters in every port throughout the kingdom, while they treated all
but the members of their own body as 'foreigners.' They knew nothing
of reciprocity:--'And further we will, and, by these presents for us,
our heirs and successors, do grant and confirm to the said mayor and
commonalty and citizens of our city of Londonderry aforesaid, that all
citizens of the said city of Londonderry and liberty of the same (as
much as in us is) be for ever quit and free, and all their things
throughout all Ireland, of all tolls, wharfage, murage, anchorage,
beaconage, pavage, pontage, piccage, stallage, passage, and lestage,
and of all other tolls and duties.'

The 'foreigners,' including all his majesty's subjects but the
favoured few within the walls of Derry, were forbidden to buy or sell,
or practise any trade in this sanctuary of freedom and head-centre
of 'civility.' 'And that merchants and others which are not of the
freedom of the city of Londonderry aforesaid shall not sell by
retail any wines or other wares whatsoever within the same city of
Londonderry, the suburbs, liberties, or franchises of the same, upon
pain of forfeiture for the things so bought, or the value thereof,
to the use of the mayor and commonalty and citizens of the city of
Londonderry aforesaid. And also that no person being a foreigner from
the freedom of the city aforesaid shall use or exercise within the
same city, liberties or suburbs of the same, any art, mystery, or
manual occupation whatsoever, to make his gain and profit thereof,
upon pain of forfeiture of forty shillings for every time wherein
such person shall use or exercise within the said city of Londonderry,
liberties, and suburbs of the same, any art, mystery, or manual
occupation as aforesaid.'

Foreigners were not allowed to buy from or sell to foreigners, and
there was to be no market for the accommodation of the unprivileged
inhabitants within seven miles of the city.

Similar exclusive privileges were conferred upon the corporation of
Coleraine. Such was the system established by the City of London in
its model communities in Ireland--normal schools of freedom, fountains
of civilising and Christianising influences which were to reclaim and
convert the barbarous and superstitious natives into loyal subjects
and enlightened Protestants! What the natives beheld in Londonderry
was, in fact, a royal organisation of selfishness, bigotry, and
monopoly, of the most intensely exclusive and repulsive character. In
one sense the Londoners in Derry showed that they peculiarly prized
the blessings of civilisation, for they kept them all to themselves.
The fountain was flowing in the most tempting manner before the
thirsty Irish, but let them dare to drink of it at their peril! A fine
which no Irishman was then able to pay must be the penalty for every
attempt at civilisation!

The representatives of Derry and Coleraine were not only elected
without cost, but paid for their attendance in Parliament.

From the very beginning, the greatest possible care was taken to
keep out the Irish. The society, in 1615, sent precepts to all the
companies requiring each of them to send one or two artisans, with
their families, into Ulster, to settle there; and directions were also
given, in order that Derry might not in future be peopled with Irish,
that twelve Christ's Hospital and other poor children should be sent
there as apprentices and servants, and the inhabitants were to be
prohibited from taking Irish apprentices. Directions were also given
to the companies, to repair the churches on their several proportions,
and furnish the ministers with a bible, common-prayer book, and a
communion cup. The trades which the society recommended as proper to
introduce into Ulster were, weavers of common cloth, fustians, and
new stuffs, felt-makers and trimmers of hats, and hat-band makers,
locksmiths and farriers, tanners and fellmongers, iron makers,
glass-makers, pewterers, coast fishermen, turners, basket-makers,
tallow-chandlers, dyers, and curriers.

The Christ's Hospital children arrived safe, and became the precious
seed of the 'prentice boys.

In 1629 the following return was made of the total disbursements by
the Londoners in Derry from January 2, 1609, to this year:--

For 77-1/2 houses at 140 l. a house                      10,850
For 33 houses at 80 l. a house                            2,680
For the Lord Bishop's house                                 500
For the walls and fortifications                          8,357
For digging the ditch and filling earth for the rampire   1,500
For levelling earth to lay the rampire                      500
For building a faggot quay at the water-gate                100
For two quays at the lime kilns                              10
For the building of the town house                          500
For the quays at the ferry                                   60
For carriage and mounting the ordnance                       40
For arms                                                    558
For a guardhouse                                             50
For the platforms for bulwarks                              300
For some work done at the old church                         40
For some work done at the town pike                           6
For sinking 22 cellars, and sundry of the houses not
done at first, at 20 s. cellar, one with another            440
For the building of lime kilns                              120
Sum total, as given in the Commissioners' account        27,197

The exclusive and protective system utterly failed to accomplish its
purpose in keeping out the Irish.

Sir Thomas Phillips made a muster-roll in 1622, in which he gives
110 as the number of settlers in the city of Derry capable of bearing
arms. There are but two Irish names in the list--Ermine M'Swine, and
James Doherty. The first, from his Christian name, seemed to have
been of mixed blood, the son of a judge, which would account for
his orthodoxy. But his presence might have reminded the citizens
unpleasantly of the Irish battle-axes. Never were greater pains taken
to keep a community pure than within the sacred precincts of the
Derry walls; and never was Protestantism more tenderly fostered by
the state--so far as secular advantages could do it. The natives
were treated as 'foreigners.' No trade was permitted except by the
chartered British. They were free of tolls all over the land, and for
their sake restrictions were placed on everybody that could in any way
interfere with their worldly interests. So complete was the system
of exclusion kept up by the English Government and the London
corporation, in this grand experiment for planting religion and
civility among a barbarous people, that, so late as the year 1708,
the Derry corporation considered itself nothing more or less than _a
branch of the City of London_! In that year they sent an address to
the Irish Society, to be presented through them to the queen. 'In this
address they stated themselves to be a branch of the City of London.
The secretary was ordered to wait upon the lord lieutenant of Ireland
with the address and entreat the favour of his lordship's advice
concerning the presenting of the same to her majesty.' A few days
after it was announced that the address had been graciously received,
and published in the _Gazette_.

The Irish were kept out of the enclosed part of the city till a late
period. In the memory of the present generation there was no Catholic
house within the walls, and I believe it is not much longer since
the Catholic servants within the sacred enclosure were obliged to go
outside at night to sleep among their kinsfolk. The English garrison
did not multiply very fast. In 1626 there were only 109 families
in the city, of which five were families of soldiers liable to
be removed. Archbishop King stated that in 1690 the whole of the
population of the parish, including the Donegal part, was about 700.

But the irrepressible Irish increased and multiplied around the walls
with alarming rapidity. The tide of native population rose steadily
against the ramparts of exclusion, and could no more be kept back than
the tide in the Foyle. In the general census of 1800 there were no
returns from Derry. But in 1814 it was stated in a report by the
deputation from the Irish Society, that the population amounted at
that time to 14,087 persons. This must have included the suburbs. In
the census of 1821 the city was found to have 9,313 inhabitants. The
city and suburbs together contained 16,971.

The report of the commissioners of public instruction in 1831 made a
startling disclosure as to the effect of the system of exclusion in
this 'branch of the City of London.' In the parish of Templemore (part
of) there were--

Members of the Established Church        3,166
Presbyterians                            5,811
Roman Catholics                          9,838

The report of 1834 gave the Roman Catholics, 10,299; the
Presbyterians, 6,083; and the Church only 3,314.

The figures now are--Catholics          12,036
Protestants of all denominations         8,839
Majority of Irish and Catholics in this
'branch of the City of London'           3,197

This majority is about equal to the whole number which the exclusive
system, with all its 'protection' and 'bounties,' could produce for
the Established Church in the course of two centuries! If the Irish
had been admitted to the Pale of English civilisation, and instructed
in the industrial arts by the settlers, the results with respect to
religion might have been very different. In the long run the Church
of Rome has been the greatest gainer by coercion. Derry has been a
miniature representation of the Establishment. The 'prentice boys,
like their betters, must yield to the spirit of the age, and submit
with the best grace they can to the rule of religious equality.

The plantation was, however, wonderfully successful on the whole. In
thirty years, towns, fortresses, factories, arose, pastures, ploughed
up, were converted into broad corn-fields, orchards, gardens, hedges,
&c. were planted. How did this happen? 'The answer is that it sprang
from the security of tenure which the plantation settlement supplied.
The landlords were in every case bound to make fixed estates to their
tenants at the risk of sequestration and forfeiture. Hence their
power of selling their plantation rights and improvements. This is the
origin of Ulster tenant-right.'

Yet the work went on slowly enough in some districts. The viceroy,
Chichester, was not neglected in the distribution of the spoils. He
not only got the O'Dogherty's country, Innishown, but a large tract in
Antrim, including the towns of Carrickfergus and Belfast. An English
tourist travelling that way in 1635 gives a quaint description of the
country in that transition period:--

On July 5 he landed at Carrickfergus, where he found that Lord
Chichester had a stately house, 'or rather like a prince's palace.'
In Belfast, he said, my Lord Chichester had another _daintie_, stately
palace, which, indeed, was the glory and beauty of the town. And there
were also _daintie_ orchards, gardens, and walks planted. The Bishop
of Dromore, to whom the town of Dromore entirely belonged, lived
there in a 'little timber house.' He was not given to hospitality, for
though his chaplain was a Manchester man, named Leigh, he allowed
his English visitor to stop at an inn over the way. 'This,' wrote the
tourist, 'is a very dear house, 8 d. ordinary for ourselves, 6 d. for
our servants, and we were overcharged in _beere_.' The way thence
to Newry was most difficult for a stranger to find out. 'Therein he
wandered, and, being lost, fell among the Irish _touns_.' The Irish
houses were the poorest cabins he had seen, erected in the middle of
fields and grounds which they farmed and rented. 'This,' he added,
'is a wild country, not inhabited, planted, nor enclosed.' He gave an
Irishman 'a groat' to bring him into the way, yet he led him, like a
villein, directly out of the way, and so left him in the lurch.

Leaving Belfast, this Englishman said: 'Near hereunto, Mr. Arthur
Hill, son and heir of Sir Moyses Hill, hath a brave plantation,
which he holds by lease, and which has still forty years to come.
The plantation, it is said, doth yield him 1,000 l. per annum.
Many Lancashire and Cheshire men are here planted. They sit upon a
rack-rent, and pay 5 s. or 6 s. for good ploughing land, which now is
clothed with excellent good _corne_.'

According to the Down survey, made twenty-two years later, Dromore had
not improved: 'There are no buildings in this parish; only Dromore, it
being a market town, hath some old thatched houses and a ruined church
standing in it. What other buildings are in the parish are nothing but
removeable _creaghts_.'

To the economist and the legislator, the most interesting portions
of the state papers of the 16th and 17th centuries are, undoubtedly,
those which tell us how the people lived, how they were employed,
housed, and fed, what measure of happiness fell to their lot, and what
were the causes that affected their welfare, that made them contented
and loyal, or miserable and disaffected. Contemporary authors, who
deal with social phenomena, are also read with special interest for
the same reason. They present pictures of society in their own time,
and enable us to conceive the sort of life our forefathers led, and to
estimate, at least in a rough way, what they did for posterity.

Harris was moved to write his 'History of Down' by indignation at
the misrepresentations of the English press of his day. They had the
audacity to say that 'the Irish people were uncivilised, rude, and
barbarous; that they delighted in butter _tempered_ with oatmeal,
and sometimes flesh without bread, which they ate raw, having
first pressed the blood out of it; and drank down large draughts of
usquebaugh for digestion, reserving their little corn for the horses;
that their dress and habits were no less barbarous; that cattle
was their chief wealth; that they counted it no infamy to commit
robberies, and that in their view violence and murder were in no way
displeasing to God; that the country was overgrown with woods, which
abounded in wolves and other voracious animals,' &c. It was, no doubt,
very provoking that such stories should be repeated 130 years
after the plantation of Ulster, and Harris undertook, with laudable
patriotism, to show 'how far this description of Ireland was removed
from the truth, from the present state of only one county in the
kingdom.' The information which the well-informed writer gives is most
valuable, and very much to the purpose of our present inquiry.

More than half the arable ground was then (in 1745) under tillage,
affording great quantities of oats, some rye and wheat, and 'plenty
of barley,' commonly called English or spring barley, making excellent
malt liquor, which of late, by means of drying the grain with Kilkenny
coals, was exceedingly improved. The ale made in the county was
distinguished for its fine colour and flavour. The people found the
benefit of '_a sufficient tillage_, being not obliged to take up
with the poor unwholesome diet which the commonalty of Munster and
Connaught had been forced to in the late years of scarcity; and
sickness and mortality were not near so great as in other provinces of
the kingdom.'

Yet the county Down seemed very unfavourable for tillage. The
economists of our time, perhaps our viceroys too, would say it was
only fit for bullocks and sheep. It was 'naturally coarse, and full of
hills; the air was sharp and cold in winter, with earlier frosts than
in the south, the soil inclined to _wood_, unless constantly ploughed
and kept open, and the low grounds degenerated into morass or bog
where the drains were neglected. Yet, by the constant labour and
industry of the inhabitants, the morass grounds had of late, by
burning and proper management, produced surprisingly large crops
of rye and oats. Coarse lands, manured with lime, had answered the
farmers' views in wheat, and yielded a great produce, and wherever
marl was found there was great store of barley. The staple commodity
of the county was linen, due care of which manufacture brought great
wealth among the people. Consequently the county was observed to be
'populous and flourishing, though it did not become amenable to the
laws till the reign of Queen Elizabeth, nor fully till the reign of
James I.' The English habit, language, and manners almost universally
prevailed. 'Irish,' says Harris, 'can be heard only among the inferior
rank of _Irish Papists_, and even that little diminishes every day, by
the great desire the poor natives have that their children should
be taught to read and write in the English tongue in the Charter, or
other English Protestant schools, to which they willingly send them.'
The author exults in the progress of Protestantism. There were but two
Catholic gentlemen in the county who had estates, and their income was
very moderate. When the priests were registered in 1704 there were but
thirty in the county. In 1733 the books of the hearth-money collectors

Protestant families in the county Down         14,000
Catholic families                               5,210
Total Protestants, reckoning five a family     70,300
Total Catholics                                26,050
Protestant majority                            44,250

Our author, who was an excellent Protestant of the 18th century type,
with boundless faith in the moral influence of the Charter schools,
would be greatly distressed if he could have lived in these degenerate
days, and seen the last religious census, which gives the following
figures for the county of Down:--

Protestants of all denominations              202,026
Catholics                                      97,240
Total population                              299,266

The total number of souls in the county in the year 1733 was 96,350.
These figures show that the population was more than trebled in 130
years, and that the Catholics have increased nearly fourfold.

The history of the Hertfort estate illustrates every phase of the
tenant-right question. It contains 66,000 acres, and comprises the
barony of Upper Massereene, part of the barony of Upper Belfast, in
the county of Antrim, and part of the baronies of Castlereagh and
Lower Iveagh, in the county of Down; consisting altogether of no
less than 140 townlands. It extends from Dunmurry to Lough Neagh, a
distance of about fourteen miles as the crow flies. When the Devon
commission made its inquiry, the population upon this estate amounted
to about 50,000. It contains mountain land, and the mountains are
particularly wet, because, unlike the mountains in other parts of the
country, the substratum is a stiff retentive clay. At that time there
was not a spot of mountain or bog upon Lord Hertfort's estate that
was not let by the acre. About one-third of the land is of first-rate
quality; there are 15,000 or 16,000 acres of mountain, and about the
same quantity of land of medium quality.

In the early part of Elizabeth's reign this property formed a section
of the immense territory ruled over by the O'Neills. One of these
princes was called the Captain of _Kill-Ultagh_. In those times, when
might was right, this redoubtable chief levied heavy contributions
on the settlers, partly in retaliation for aggressions and outrages
perpetrated by the English upon his own people. The queen, with the
view of effecting a reconciliation, requested the lord deputy, Sir H.
Sidney, to pay the Irish chief a visit. He did so, but his welcome
was by no means gratifying. In fact, O'Neill would not condescend to
receive him at all. His reason for exhibiting a want of hospitality
so un-Irish was this:--He said his 'home had been pillaged, his lands
swept of their cattle, and his vassals shot like wild animals.' The
lord deputy, in his notes of the northern tour, written in October,
1585, says:--'I came to Kill-Ultagh, which I found rich and plentiful,
after the manner of these countries. But the captain was proud and
insolent; he would not come to me, nor have I apt reason to visit
him as I would. But he shall be paid for this before long; I will not
remain in his debt.' The 'apt reason' for carrying out this threat
soon occurred. Tyrone had once more taken the field against the queen;
the captain joined his relative; all his property was consequently
forfeited, and handed over to Sir Fulke Conway, a Welsh soldier of
some celebrity. Sir Fulke died in 1626, and his brother, who was a
favourite of Charles I., succeeded to the estate, to which his royal
patron added the lands of Derryvolgie, thus making him lord of nearly
70,000 statute acres of the broad lands of Down and Antrim. The
Conways brought over a number of English and Welsh families, who
settled on the estate, and intermarrying with the natives, a race of
sturdy yeomen soon sprang up. The Conways were good landlords, and
greatly beloved by the people. With the addition made to the property
the king conferred upon the fortunate recipient of his bounty the
title of Baron. At the close of 1627, Lord Conway began the erection
of a castle (finished in 1630) on a picturesque mount overlooking
the Lagan, and commanding a view of the hills of Down. During the
struggles of 1641 the castle was burned down, together with
the greater part of the town, which up to this time was called
Lisnagarvah, but thenceforth it received the name of Lisburn. Very
little, however, had been done by the settlers when the outbreak
occurred, for an English traveller in 1635 remarked that 'neither the
town nor the country thereabouts was _planted_, being almost all woods
and moorish.' About a month after the breaking out of the rebellion
the king's forces, under Sir George Rawdon, obtained a signal victory
over the Irish commanded by Sir Phelim O'Neill, Sir Con M'Guinness,
and General Plunket. In 1662 the town obtained a charter of
incorporation from Charles II., and sent two members to the Irish
parliament, the church being at the same time made the cathedral for
Down and Connor. The Conway estates passed to the Seymours in this
way. Popham Seymour, Esq., was the son of Sir Edward Seymour, fourth
baronet, described by Bishop Burnet as 'the ablest man of his party,
the first speaker of the House of Commons that was not bred to the
law; a graceful man, bold and quick, and of high birth, being the
elder branch of the Seymour family.' Popham Seymour inherited the
estates of the Earl of Conway, who was his cousin, under a will dated
August 19, 1683, and assumed in consequence the surname of Conway.
This gentleman died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother
Francis, who was raised to the peerage in 1703 by the title of Baron
Conway, of Kill-Ultagh, county Antrim. His eldest son, the second
baron, was created Viscount Beauchamp and Earl of Hertfort in 1750. In
1765 he was Viceroy of Ireland, and in 1793 he was created Marquis
of Hertfort. The present peer, born in the year 1800, is the fourth
marquis, having succeeded his father in 1842.

Lisburn is classic ground. It represents all sorts of historic
interest. On this hill, now called the Castle Gardens, the Captain
of Kill-Ultagh mustered his galloglasse. Here, amid the flames of the
burning town, was fought a decisive battle between the English and the
Irish, one of the Irish chiefs in that encounter being the ancestor of
the restorer of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The battle lasted till near
midnight, when the Irish were put to flight, leaving behind them dead
and wounded thrice the number of the entire garrison. Here, on this
mount, stood William III. in June, 1690. I saw in the church the
monument of Jeremy Taylor, and the pulpit from which the most eloquent
of bishops delivered his immortal sermons. I saw the tablet erected
by his mother to the memory of Nicholson, the young hero of Delhi,
and those of several other natives of Lisburn who have contributed,
by their genius and courage, to promote the fame and power of England.
Among the rest Lieutenant Dobbs, who was killed in an encounter with
Paul Jones, the American pirate, in Carrickfergus Bay.

I received a hospitable welcome from a loyal gentleman in the house
which was the residence of General Munroe, the hero of '98, and saw
the spot in the square where he was hanged in view of his own windows.
But I confess that none of the monuments of the past excited so much
interest in my mind as the house of Louis Crommelin, the Huguenot
refugee, who founded the linen manufacture at Lisburn. That house is
now occupied by Mr. Hugh M'Call, author of 'Our Staple Manufactures,'
who worthily represents the intelligence, the public spirit, and
patriotism of the English and French settlers, with a dash of the
Irish ardour, a combination of elements which perhaps produces the
best 'staple' of character. I stood upon the identical oak floor upon
which old Crommelin planned and worked, and in the grave-yard
Mr. M'Call deciphered for me the almost obliterated inscriptions,
recording the deaths of various members of the Crommelin family. Their
leader, Louis himself, died in July, 1727, aged 75 years.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes drove three quarters of a
million of Protestants out of France. A great number settled
in London, where they established the arts of silk-weaving in
Spitalfields and of fancy jewellery in St. Giles's. About 6,000 fled
to Ireland, of whom many settled in Dublin, where they commenced the
silk manufacture, and where one of them, La Touche, opened the first
banking establishment. Wherever they settled they were missionaries of
industry, and examples of perseverance and success in skilled labour,
as well as integrity in commerce. Many of those exiles settled in
Lisburn, and the colony was subsequently joined by Louis Crommelin,
a native of Armandcourt near St. Quentin, where for several centuries
his forefathers had carried on the flaxen manufacture on their own
extensive possessions in the province of Picardy. Foreseeing the
storm of persecution, the family had removed to Holland, and, at the
personal request of the Prince of Orange, Louis came over to take
charge of the colonies of his countrymen, which had been established
in different parts of Ireland. The linen trade had flourished in this
country from the earliest times. Linen formed, down to the reign of
Elizabeth, almost the only dress of the population, from the
king down--saffron-coloured, and worn in immense flowing robes,
occasionally wrapped in various forms round the body. Lord Stafford
had exerted himself strenuously to improve the fabric by the forcible
introduction of better looms; but little had been done in this
direction till the Huguenots came and brought their own looms, suited
for the manufacture of fine fabrics. Mark Dupre, Nicholas de la
Cherois, Obre, Rochet, Bouchoir, St. Clair, and others, whose ashes
lie beside the Lisburn Cathedral and in the neighbouring churchyards,
and many of whose descendants still survive among the gentry and
manufacturers of Down and Antrim, were, with Crommelin, the chief
promoters of the linen trade which has wrought such wonders in the
province of Ulster. Lord Conway granted the Lisburn colonists a site
for a place of worship, which was known as the French Church, and
stood on the ground now occupied by the Court-house in Castle Street.
The Government paid 60 l. a year to their first minister, Charles de
la Valade, who was succeeded by his relative, the Rev. Saumarez du
Bourdieu, distinguished as a divine and a historian. His father was
chaplain to the famous Schomberg, and when he fell from his horse
mortally wounded the reverend gentleman carried him in his arms to
the spot on which he died a short time after. Talent was hereditary in
this family, the Rev. John du Bourdieu, rector of Annahilt, was author
of the Statistical Surveys of Down and Antrim, published by the Royal
Dublin Society. Referring to his ancestors he says that his father
had been fifty-six years minister of the French Church in Lisburn. Mr.
M'Call states that, for some time before his death in 1812, he held
the living of Lambeg, the members of the French Church having by that
time merged into union with the congregation of the Lisburn Cathedral.
A similar process took place in Dublin, Portarlington, and elsewhere,
the descendants of the Huguenots becoming zealous members of the
Established Church.

Du Bourdieu informs us that Louis Crommelin obtained a patent for
carrying on and improving the linen manufacture, with a grant of 800
l. per annum, as interest of 10,000 l., to be advanced by him as a
capital for carrying on the same; 200 l. per annum for his trouble;
120 l. per annum for three assistants; and 160 l. for the support of
the chaplain. Mr. M'Call, in his book, copies the following note of
payments made by the Government from 1704 to 1708:--

                                                       £   s.   d.

Louis Crommelin, as overseer of linen manufacture    470   19    0

W. Crommelin, salary and rent of Kilkenny factory    451    6    7

Louis Crommelin, to repay him for sums advanced to
flax dressers and reed makers, and for services of
French ministers                                   2,225    0    0

Louis Crommelin, for individual expenses and for
sums paid Thomas Turner, of Lurgan, for buying
flax-seed and printing reports                       993    4    0

Louis Crommelin, three years' pension                600    0    0

French minister's two years' pension                 120    0    0
Total                                             £4,860    9    7

It should be mentioned, that when the owner of Lisburn, then Earl of
Hertfort, held the office of lord lieutenant in 1765, with his son,
Viscount Beauchamp, as chief secretary, he rendered very valuable
services to the linen trade, and was a liberal patron of the damask
manufacture, which arrived at a degree of perfection hitherto
unequalled, in the hands of Mr. William Coulson, founder of the great
establishment of that name which still flourishes in Lisburn, and
from whom not only the court of St. James's but foreign courts also
received their table linen. Du Bourdieu mentions that Lisburn and
Lurgan were the great markets for cambrics--the name given to cloth
of this description, which was then above five shillings a yard; under
that price it was called lawn. In that neighbourhood cambric had been
made which sold for 1 l. 2 s. 9 d. a yard unbleached. The principal
manufacturing establishments in addition to Messrs. Coulsons' are
those of the Messrs. Richardson and Co. and the Messrs. Barbour.

Lord Dufferin has written the ablest defence of the Irish landlords
that has ever appeared. In that masterly work he says: 'But though
a dealer in land and a payer of wages, I am above all things an
Irishman, and as an Irishman I rejoice in any circumstance which tends
to strengthen the independence of the tenant farmer, or to add to
the comfort of the labourer's existence.' If titles and possessions
implied the inheritance of religion and blood, Lord Dufferin ought
indeed to be 'Irish of the Irish' as the men of Ulster in the olden
times proudly called themselves. On the railroad from Belfast to
Bangor there is a station constructed with singular beauty, like
the castellated entrance to a baronial hall, and on the elaborately
chiselled stone we read 'Clandeboye.' Under the railway from Graypoint
on Belfast Lough runs a carriage-drive two miles long, to the famous
seat of the O'Neills, where his lordship's mansion is situated,
enclosed among aged trees, remembrancers of the past. Perhaps, there
is no combination of names in the kingdom more suggestive of the
barbaric power of the middle ages and the most refined culture of
modern civilisation. The avenue, kept like a garden walk, with a
flourishing plantation on each side, was cut through some of the
best farms on the estate, and must have been a work of great expense.
Taking this in connection with other costly improvements, among which
are several picturesque buildings for the residence of workmen--model
lodging-houses resembling fancy villas at the seaside--we can
understand how his lordship, within the last fifteen years, has paid
away in wages of labour the immense sum of 60,000 l., at the rate of
4,000 l. a year.

The Abbot of Bangor never gave employment like that. William O'Donnon,
the last of the line, was found in the thirty-second year of Henry
VIII. to be possessed of thirty-one townlands in Ards and Upper
Clandeboye, the grange of Earbeg in the county Antrim, the two
Copeland Islands, the tithes of the island of Raghery, three rectories
in Antrim, three in Down, and a townland in the Isle of Man. The
abbey, some of the walls of which still remain, adjoining the parish
church, was built early in the twelfth century. We are informed by
Archdall, that it had so gone to ruin in 1469 through the neglect
of the abbot, that he was evicted by order of Pope Paul II., who
commanded that the friars of the third order of St. Francis should
immediately take possession of it, which was accordingly done,
says Wadding, by Father Nicholas of that order. The whole of the
possessions were granted by James I. to James Viscount Clandeboye.

Bangor was one of the most celebrated schools in Ireland when this
island was said to have been 'the _quiet_ abode of learning and
sanctity.' As to the quiet, I could never make out at what period it
existed, nor how the 'thousands' of students at Bangor could have been
supported. The Danes came occasionally up the lough and murdered the
monks _en masse_, plundering the shrines. But the greatest scourges of
the monasteries in Down and elsewhere were, not the foreign pagans and
pirates, but the professedly Christian chiefs of their own country. It
appears, therefore, that neither the Irish clergy nor the people have
much reason to regret the flight of the Celtic princes and nobles, who
were utterly unable to fulfil the duties of a government; and who did
little or nothing but consume what the industry of the peasants, under
unparalleled difficulties, produced. The people of Clandeboye and
Dufferin might have been proud that their chief received 40 l. a year
as a tribute or blackmail from Lecale, that he might abstain from
visiting the settlers there with his galloglasse; but Lord Dufferin,
the successor of the O'Neill of Clandeboye, spends among the peasantry
of the present day 4,000 l. a year in wages. And how different is the
lot of the people! Not dwelling in wattled huts under the oaks of the
primeval forest, but in neat slated houses, with whitewashed walls,
looking so bright and pretty in the sunshine, like snowdrops in the
distant landscape. On the hill between Bangor and Newtownards, Lord
Dufferin has erected a beautiful tower, from which, reclining on his
couch, he can see the country to an immense extent, from the mountains
of Antrim to the mountains of Mourne, Strangford Lough, Belfast Lough,
the Antrim coast, and Portpatrick at the other side of the Channel,
all spread out before him like a coloured map.



The Rebellion of 1641--generally called a 'massacre'--was undoubtedly
a struggle on the part of the exiled nobles and clergy and the evicted
peasants to get possession of their estates and farms, which had been
occupied by the British settlers for nearly a generation. They
might probably have continued to occupy them in peace, but for the
fanaticism of the lords justices, Sir John Parsons and Sir John
Borlace. It was reported and believed that, at a public entertainment
in Dublin, Parsons declared that in twelve months no more Catholics
should be seen in that country. The English Puritans and Scottish
Covenanters were determined never to lay down their arms till they had
made an end of Popery. Pym, the celebrated Puritan leader, avowed that
the policy of his party was not to leave a priest alive in the land.
Meantime, the Irish chiefs were busy intriguing at Rome, Madrid,
Paris, and other continental capitals, clamouring for an invasion of
Ireland, to restore monarchy and Catholicity--to expel the English
planters from the forfeited lands. Philip III. of Spain encouraged
these aspirations. He had an Irish legion under the command of Henry
O'Neill, son of the fugitive Earl of Tyrone. It was reported that,
in 1630 there were in the service of the Archduchess, in the Spanish
Netherlands alone, 100 Irish officers able to command companies, and
20 fit to be colonels. There were many others at Lisbon, Florence,
Milan, and Naples. They had in readiness 5,000 or 6,000 stand of arms
laid up at Antwerp, bought out of the deduction of their monthly pay.
The banished ecclesiastics formed at every court a most efficient
diplomatic corps, the chief of these intriguers being the celebrated
Luke Wadding. Religious wars were popular in those times, and the
invasion of Ireland would be like a crusade against heresy. But with
the Irish chiefs the ruling passion was to get possession of their
homes and their lands. The most active spirit among these was Roger,
or Rory O'Moore, a man of high character, great ability, handsome
person, and fascinating manners. With him were associated Conor
Maguire, Costelloe M'Mahon, and Thorlough O'Neill, Sir Phelim O'Neill,
Sir Con Magennis, Colonel Hugh M'Mahon, and the Rev. Dr. Heber
M'Mahon. O'Moore visited the country, went through the several
provinces, and, by communicating with the chiefs personally, organised
the conspiracy to expel the British and recover the kingdom for
Charles II. and the Pope.

The plan agreed upon by the confederates was this:--A rising when
the harvest was gathered in; a simultaneous attack on all the English
fortresses; the surprise of Dublin Castle, said to contain arms for
12,000 men; and to obtain for these objects all possible aid, in
officers, men, and arms, from the Continent. The rising took place
on the night of October 22, 1641. It might have been completely
successful if the Castle of Dublin had been seized. It seemed an
easy prey, for it was guarded only by a few pensioners and forty
halberdiers, who would be quickly overpowered. But the plot was
made known to the lords justices by an informer when on the eve of

Sir Phelim O'Neill was one of those 'Irish gentlemen' who, by royal
favour, were permitted to retain some portions of their ancient
patrimonies. At this time he was in possession of thirty-eight
townlands in the barony of Dungannon, county Tyrone, containing 23,000
acres, then estimated to be worth 1,600 l. a-year, equal to some
10,000 l. of our money. Charles Boulton held by lease from the
same chief 600 acres, at a yearly rent of 29 l. for sixty years, in
consideration of a fine of 1,000 l. In 1641 this property yielded a
profit rent of 150 l. a year. Three townlands in the same barony were
claimed by George Rawden of Lisnagarvagh, as leased to him by Sir
Phelim under the rent of 100 l., estimated to be worth 50 l. per

Sir Phelim might, therefore, have been content, so far as property was
concerned. But, setting aside patriotism, religion, and ambition, it
is likely enough that he distrusted the Government, and feared the
doom pronounced in Dublin Castle against all the gentlemen of his
creed and race. At all events he put himself at the head of the
insurrection in Ulster. He and the officers under his command, on the
night of the 22nd, surprised and captured the forts of Charlemont and
Mountjoy. The towns of Dungannon, Newry, Carrickmacross, Castleblaney,
Tandragee fell into the hands of the insurgents, while the O'Reillys
and Maguires overran Cavan and Fermanagh. Sir Conor Magennis wrote
from Newry to the Government officers in Down: 'We are for our lives
and liberties. We desire no blood to be shed; but, if you mean to shed
our blood, be sure we shall be as ready as you for that purpose.' And
Sir Phelim O'Neill issued the following proclamation:--

'These are to intimate and make known unto all persons whatsoever, in
and through the whole country, the true intent and meaning of us whose
names are hereunto subscribed: 1. That the first assembling of us is
nowise intended against our sovereign lord the king, nor hurt of any
of his subjects, either English or Scotch; but only for the defence
and libertie of ourselves and the Irish natives of this kingdom. And
we further declare that whatsoever hurt hitherto hath been done to
any person shall be presently repaired; and we will that every person
forthwith, after proclamation hereof, make their speedy repaire unto
their own houses, under paine of death, that no further hurt be done
unto any one under the like paine, and that this be proclaimed in all


  'At Dungannon, the 23rd October, 1641.'

It is easy for an insurgent chief to give such orders to a tumultuous
mass of excited, vindictive, and drunken men, but not so easy to
enforce them. The common notion among Protestants, however, that a
midnight massacre of all the Protestant settlers was intended, or
attempted, is certainly unfounded. Though horrible outrages were
committed on both sides, the number of them has been greatly
exaggerated. Mr. Prendergast quotes some contemporary authorities,
which seem to be decisive on this point. In the same year was
published by 'G.S., minister of God's word in Ireland,' 'A Brief
Declaration of the Barbarous and Inhuman Dealings of the Northern
Irish Rebels ...; written to excite the English Nation to relieve
our poor Wives and Children that have escaped the Rebels' savage

This author says, it was the intention of the Irish to massacre all
the English. On Saturday they were to disarm them; on Sunday to seize
all their cattle and goods; on Monday, at the watchword 'Skeane,' they
were to cut all the English throats. The former they executed; the
third only (that is the massacre) they failed in.

That the massacre rested hitherto in intention only is further evident
from the proclamation of the lords justices of February 8, 1642;
for, while offering large sums for the heads of the chief northern
gentlemen in arms (Sir Phelim O'Neill's name heading the list with
a thousand pounds), the lords justices state that the massacre had
failed. Many thousands had been robbed and spoiled, dispossessed of
house and lands, many murdered on the spot; but the chief part of
their plots (so the proclamation states), and amongst them a universal
massacre, had been disappointed.

But, says Mr. Prendergast, after Lord Ormond and Sir Simon Harcourt,
with the English forces, in the month of April, 1642, had burned the
houses of the gentry in the Pale, and committed slaughters of unarmed
men, and the Scotch forces, in the same month, after beating off
Sir Phelim O'Neill's army at Newry, drowned and shot men, women, and
priests, in that town, who had surrendered on condition of mercy, then
it was that some of Sir Phelim O'Neill's wild followers in revenge,
and in fear of the advancing army, massacred their prisoners in some
of the towns in Tyrone. The subsequent cruelties were not on one side
only, and were magnified to render the Irish detestable, so as to make
it impossible for the king to seek their aid without ruining his cause
utterly in England. The story of the massacre, invented to serve
the politics of the hour, has been since kept up for the purposes
of interest. No inventions could be too monstrous that served to
strengthen the possession of Irish confiscated lands.

'A True Relation of the Proceedings of the Scots and English Forces in
the North of Ireland,' published in 1642, states that on Monday, May
5, the common soldiers, without direction from the general-major, took
some eighteen of the Irish women of the town [Newry], stripped them
naked, threw them into the river, and drowned them, shooting some in
the water. More had suffered so, but that some of the common soldiers
were made examples of.

'A Levite's Lamentation,' published at the same time, thus refers
to those atrocities: 'Mr. Griffin, Mr. Bartly, Mr. Starkey, all of
Ardmagh, and murdered by these bloudsuckers on the sixth of May. For,
about the fourth of May, as I take it, we put neare fourty of them
to death upon the bridge of the Newry, amongst which were two of
the Pope's pedlers, two seminary priests, in return of which they
slaughtered many prisoners in their custody.'

A curious illustration of the spirit of that age is given in the fact
that an English officer threw up his commission in disgust, because
the Bishop of Meath, in a sermon delivered in Christ Church, Dublin,
in 1642, pleaded for mercy to Irish women and children.

The unfortunate settlers fled panic-stricken from their homes, leaving
behind their goods, and, in many cases, their clothes; delicate women
with little children, weary and footsore, hurried on to some place
of refuge. In Cavan they crowded the house of the illustrious
Bishop Bedell, at Kilmore. Enniskillen, Derry, Lisburn, Belfast,
Carrickfergus, with some isolated castles, were still held by the
English garrisons, and in these the Protestant fugitives found succour
and protection. Before their flight they were in such terror that,
according to the Rev. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tynan, for three nights
no cock was heard to crow, no dog to bark. The city of London sent
four ships to Londonderry with all kinds of provisions, clothing,
and accoutrements for several companies of foot, and abundance
of ammunition. The twelve chief companies sent each two pieces of
ordnance. No doubt these liberal and seasonable supplies contributed
materially to keep the city from yielding to the insurgent forces by
which it was besieged.

Meantime the Government in Dublin lost not a moment in taking the
most effectual measures for crushing the rebellion. Lord Ormond, as
lieutenant-general, had soon at his disposal 12,000 men, with a fine
train of field artillery, provided by Strafford for his campaign in
the north of England. The king, who was in Scotland, procured the
dispatch of 1,500 men to Ulster; and authorised Lords Chichester and
Clandeboye to raise regiments among their tenants. Thus the 'Scottish
army' was increased to about 5,000 foot, with cavalry in proportion.
The Irish, on the other hand, were ill-provided with arms and
ammunition. They were not even provided with pikes, for they had not
time to make them. The military officers counted upon did not appear,
though they had promised to be on the field at fourteen days' notice.
Rory O'Moore, like 'Meagher of the sword' in 1848, had never seen
service; and Sir Phelim O'Neill, like Smith O'Brien, was only a
civilian when he assumed the high-sounding title of 'Lord General of
the Catholic army in Ulster.' He also took the title of 'the O'Neill.'
The massacre of a large number of Catholics by the Carrickfergus
garrison, driving them over the cliffs into the sea at the point of
the bayonet, madly excited the Irish thirst for blood. Mr. Darcy
Magee admits that, from this date forward till the arrival of Owen Roe
O'Neill, the war assumed a ferocity of character foreign to the nature
of O'Moore, O'Reilly, and Magennis. 'That Sir Phelim permitted, if
he did not in his gusts of stormy passion instigate, those acts of
cruelty which have stained his otherwise honourable conduct, is too
true; but he stood alone among his confederates in that crime, and
that crime stands alone in his character. Brave to rashness and
disinterested to excess, few rebel chiefs ever made a more heroic end
out of a more deplorable beginning.' The same eulogy would equally
apply to many of the English generals. Cruelty was their only crime.
The Irish rulers of those times, if not taken by surprise, felt at the
outbreak of open rebellion much as the army feels at the breaking
out of a war, in some country where plenty of prize money can be won,
where the looting will be rich and the promotion rapid. Relying with
confidence on the power of England and the force of discipline, they
knew that the active defenders of the Government would be victorious
in the end, and that their rewards would be estates. The more
rebellions, the more forfeited territory, the more opportunities to
implicate, ruin, and despoil the principal men of the hated race. The
most sober writer, dealing with such facts, cannot help stirring men's
blood while recording the deeds of the heroes who founded the English
system of government in Ireland, and secured to themselves immense
tracts of its most fertile soil. What then must be the effect of the
eloquent and impassioned denunciations of such writers as Mr.
Butt, Mr. A.M. Sullivan, and Mr. John Mitchell, not to speak of the
'national press'? Yet the most fiery patriot utters nothing stronger
on the English rule in Ireland than what the Irish may read in the
works of the greatest statesmen and most profound thinkers in England.
The evil is in the facts, and the facts cannot be suppressed because
they are the roots of our present difficulties. Mr. Darcy Magee, one
of the most moderate of Irish historians, writing far away from his
native land, not long before he fell by the bullet of the assassin--a
martyr to his loyalty--sketches the preliminaries of confiscation at
the commencement of this civil war.

In Munster, their chief instruments were the aged Earl of Cork, still
insatiable as ever for other men's possessions, and the president,
St. Leger: in Leinster, Sir Charles Coote. Lord Cork prepared 1,100
indictments against men of property in his province, which he sent to
the speaker of the Long Parliament, with an urgent request that
they might be returned to him, with authority to proceed against the
parties named as outlaws. In Leinster, 4,000 similar indictments
were found in the course of two days by the free use of the rack with
witnesses. Sir John Read, an officer of the king's bedchamber, and
Mr. Barnwall of Kilbrue, a gentleman of threescore and six, were among
those who underwent the torture. When these were the proceedings of
the tribunals in peaceable cities, we may imagine what must have been
the excesses of the soldiery in the open country. In the south,
Sir William St. Leger directed a series of murderous raids upon the
peasantry of Cork, which at length produced their natural effect. Lord
Muskerry and other leading recusants, who had offered their services
to maintain the peace of the province, were driven by an insulting
refusal to combine for their own protection. The 1,100 indictments
of Lord Cork soon swelled their ranks, and the capture of the ancient
city of Cashel, by Philip O'Dwyer, announced the insurrection of the
south. Waterford soon after opened its gates to Colonel Edmund Butler;
Wexford declared for the Catholic cause, and Kilkenny surrendered to
Lord Mountgarret. In Wicklow, Coote's troopers committed murders such
as had not been equalled since the days of the pagan Northmen. Little
children were carried aloft writhing on the pikes of these barbarians,
whose worthy commander confessed that 'he liked such frolics.' Neither
age nor sex was spared, and an ecclesiastic was especially certain
of instant death. Fathers Higgins and White of Naas, in Kildare, were
given up by Coote to these 'lambs,' though, each had been granted a
safe-conduct by his superior officer, Lord Ormond. And these murders
were taking place at the very time when the Franciscans and Jesuits of
Cashel were protecting Dr. Pullen, the Protestant chancellor of that
cathedral and other Protestant prisoners; while also the castle of
Cloughouter, in Cavan, the residence of Bishop Bedell, was crowded
with Protestant fugitives, all of whom were carefully guarded by the
chivalrous Philip O'Reilly.

In Ulster, by the end of April, there were 19,000 troops, regulars and
volunteers, in the garrison or in the field. Newry was taken by Monroe
and Chichester. Magennis was obliged to abandon Down, and McMahon
Monaghan; Sir Phelim was driven to burn Armagh and Dungannon and to
take his last stand at Charlemont. In a severe action with Sir Robert
and Sir William Stewart, he had displayed his usual courage with
better than his usual fortune, which, perhaps, we may attribute to the
presence with him of Sir Alexander McDonnell, brother to Lord Antrim,
the famous _Colkitto_ of the Irish and Scottish wars. But the severest
defeat which the confederates had was in the heart of Leinster, at the
hamlet of Kilrush, within four miles of Athy. Lord Ormond, returning
from a second reinforcement of Naas and other Kildare forts, at
the head, by English account, of 4,000 men, found on April 13 the
Catholics of the midland counties, under Lords Mountgarrett, Ikerrin,
and Dunboyne, Sir Morgan Cavenagh, Rory O'Moore, and Hugh O'Byrne,
drawn up, by his report 8,000 strong, to dispute his passage. With
Ormond were the Lord Dillon, Lord Brabazon, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir
Charles Coote, and Sir T. Lucas. The combat was short but murderous.
The confederates left 700 men, including Sir Morgan Cavenagh and
some other officers, dead on the field; the remainder retreated in
disorder, and Ormond, with an inconsiderable diminution of numbers,
returned in triumph to Dublin. For this victory the Long Parliament,
in a moment of enthusiasm, voted the lieutenant-general a jewel worth
500 l. If any satisfaction could be derived from such an incident, the
violent death of their most ruthless enemy, Sir Charles Coote, might
have afforded the Catholics some consolation. That merciless soldier,
after the combat at Kilrush, had been employed in reinforcing Birr and
relieving the castle of Geashill, which the Lady Letitia of Offally
held against the neighbouring tribe of O'Dempsey. On his return from
this service he made a foray against a Catholic force, which had
mustered in the neighbourhood of Trim; here, on the night of the 7th
of May, heading a sally of his troop, he fell by a musket shot--not
without suspicion of being fired from his own ranks. His son and
namesake, who imitated him in all things, was ennobled at the
Restoration by the title of the Earl of Mountrath.

The Long Parliament would not trust the king with an army in Ireland.
They consequently took the work of subjugation into their own hands.
Having confiscated 2,500,000 acres of Irish land, they offered it as
security to 'adventurers' who would advance money to meet the cost of
the war. In February, 1642, the House of Commons received a petition
'of divers well affected' to it, offering to raise and maintain forces
at their own charge 'against the rebels of Ireland, and afterwards to
receive their recompense out of the rebels' estates.' Under the act
'for the speedy reducing of the rebels' the adventurers were to carry
over a brigade of 5,000 foot and 500 horse, and to have the right of
appointing their own officers. And they were to have estates given to
them at the following rates: 1,000 acres for 200 l. in Ulster, for 300
l. in Connaught, for 450 l. in Munster, and 600 l. in Leinster. The
rates per acre were 4 s., 6s., 8s., and 12 s. in those provinces

The nature of the war, and the spirit in which it was conducted, may
be inferred from the sort of weapons issued from the military
stores. These included scythes with handles and rings, reaping-hooks,
whetstones, and rubstones. They were intended for cutting down the
growing corn, that the people might be starved into submission, or
forced to quit the country. The commissary of stores was ordered to
issue Bibles to the troops, one Bible for every file, that they might
learn from the Old Testament the sin and danger of sparing idolaters.

The rebellion in Ulster had almost collapsed before the end of the
year. The tens of thousands who had rushed to the standard of Sir
P. O'Neill were now reduced to a number of weak and disorganised
collections of armed men taking shelter in the woods. The English
garrisons scoured the neighbouring counties with little opposition,
and where they met any they gave no quarter. Sir William Cole,
ancestor of the Earl of Enniskillen, proudly boasted of his
achievement in having 7,000 of the rebels famished to death within
a circuit of a few miles of his garrison. Lord Enniskillen is an
excellent landlord, but the descendants of the remnant of the natives
on his estate do not forget how the family obtained its wealth and
honours. The Government, however, seemed to have good reason to
congratulate itself that the war was over with the Irish. To these Sir
Phelim O'Neill had shown that there is something in a name: but if
the name does not represent real worth and fitness for the work
undertaken, it is but a shadow. It was so in Sir Phelim's O'Neill's
case. Though he had courage, he was a poor general. But another hero
of the same name soon appeared to redeem the honour of his race, and
to show what the right man can do. At a moment when the national
cause seemed to be lost, when the Celtic population in Ulster were
meditating a wholesale emigration to the Scottish Highlands--'a word
of magic effect was whispered from the sea-coast to the interior.'
Colonel Owen Roe O'Neill had arrived off Donegal with a single ship,
a single company of veterans, 100 officers, and a quantity of
ammunition. He landed at Doe Castle, proceeded to the fort of
Charlemont, met the heads of the clans at Clones in Monaghan, was
elected general-in-chief of the Catholic forces, and at once set about
organising an army. The Catholics of the whole kingdom had joined a
confederation, which held its meetings at Kilkenny. A general assembly
was convened for October 23, 1642. The peerage was represented by
fourteen lords and eleven bishops. Generals were appointed for each
of the other provinces, Preston for Leinster, Barry for Munster, and
Burke for Connaught. With the Anglo-Irish portion of the confederacy
the war was Catholic, and the object religious liberty. With them
there was no antipathy or animosity to the English. There was the
Pope's Nuncio and his party, thinking most of papal interests, and
there was the national party, who had been, or were likely to be,
made landless. The king, then at Oxford, was importuned by the
confederation on the one side and the Puritans on the other; one
petitioning for freedom of worship, the other for the suppression of
popery. Pending these appeals there was a long cessation between the
Irish belligerents.

Ormond had amused the confederates with negotiations for a permanent
peace and settlement, from spring till midsummer, when Charles,
dissatisfied with these endless delays, dispatched to Ireland a more
hopeful ambassador. This was Herbert, Earl of Glamorgan, one of the
few Catholics remaining among the English nobility, son and heir to
the Marquis of Worcester, and son-in-law to Henry O'Brien, Earl of
Thomond. Of a family devoutly attached to the royal cause, to which
it is said they had contributed not less than 200,000 l., Glamorgan's
religion, his rank, his Irish connections, the intimate confidence of
the king which he was known to possess, all marked out his embassy as
one of the utmost importance.

The earl arrived in Dublin about August 1, and, after an interview
with Ormond, proceeded to Kilkenny. On the 28th of that month,
preliminary articles were agreed to and signed by the earl on behalf
of the king, and by Lords Montgarrett and Muskerry on behalf of the
confederates. It was necessary, it seems, to get the concurrence of
the Viceroy to these terms, and accordingly the negotiators on both
sides repaired to Dublin. Here Ormond contrived to detain them ten
long weeks in discussions on the articles relating to religion; it
was the 12th of November when they returned to Kilkenny, with a much
modified treaty. On the next day, the 13th, the new Papal Nuncio,
a prelate who, by his rank, his eloquence, and his imprudence, was
destined to exercise a powerful influence on the Catholic councils,
made his public entry into that city.

This personage was John Baptist Rinuccini, Archbishop of Fermo in
the marches of Ancona, which see he had preferred to the more exalted
dignity of Florence.

From Limerick, borne along on his litter, such was the feebleness
of his health, he advanced by slow stages to Kilkenny, escorted by a
guard of honour, despatched on that duty by the supreme council.

The pomp and splendour of his public entry into the Catholic capital
was a striking spectacle. The previous night he slept at a village
three miles from the city, for which he set out early on the morning
of November 13, escorted by his guard and a vast multitude of the
people. Five delegates from the supreme council accompanied him. A
band of fifty students, mounted on horseback, met him on the way, and
their leader, crowned with laurel, recited some congratulatory Latin
verses. At the city gate he left the litter and mounted a horse richly
housed; here the procession of the clergy and the city guilds awaited
him: at the market cross, a Latin oration was delivered in his honour,
to which he graciously replied in the same language. From the cross he
was escorted to the cathedral, at the door of which he was received by
the aged bishop, Dr. David Rothe. At the high altar he intonated the
_Te Deum_, and gave the multitude the apostolic benediction. Then he
was conducted to his lodgings, where he was soon waited upon by Lord
Muskerry and General Preston, who brought him to Kilkenny Castle,
where, in the great gallery, which elicited even a Florentine's
admiration, he was received in stately formality by the president of
the council--Lord Mountgarrett. Another Latin oration on the nature of
his embassy was delivered by the Nuncio, responded to by Heber, Bishop
of Clogher, and so the ceremony of reception ended.[1]

[Footnote 1: Darcy Magee, vol. ii. p.128.]

After a long time spent in negotiations, the celebrated Glamorgan
treaty was signed by Ormond for the king, and Lord Muskerry and the
other commissioners for the confederates. It conceded, in fact, all
the most essential claims of the Irish--equal rights as to property,
in the army, in the universities, and at the bar; gave them seats in
both houses and on the bench; authorised a special commission of oyer
and terminer, composed wholly of confederates; and declared that 'the
independency of the parliament of Ireland on that of England' should
be decided by declaration of both houses 'agreeably to the laws of the
kingdom of Ireland.' In short, this final form of Glamorgan's treaty
gave the Irish Catholics, in 1646, all that was subsequently obtained,
either for the church or the country, in 1782, 1793, or 1829. 'Though
some conditions were omitted, to which Rinuccini and a majority of the
prelates attached importance, Glamorgan's treaty was, upon the whole,
a charter upon which a free church and a free people might well have
stood, as the fundamental law of their religious and civil liberties.'

General O'Neill was greatly annoyed at these delays. Political
events in England swayed the destiny of Ireland then as now. The poor
vacillating, double-dealing king was delivered to the Puritans, tried,
and executed. But before Cromwell came to smash the confederation and
everything papal in Ireland, the Irish chief gladdened the hearts of
his countrymen by the glorious victory of Benburb, one of the most
memorable in Irish history.

In a naturally strong position, the Irish, for four hours, received
and repulsed the various charges of the Puritan horse. Then as the
sun began to descend, pouring its rays upon the enemy, O'Neill led
his whole force--five thousand men against eight--to the attack.
One terrible onset swept away every trace of resistance. There were
counted on the field 3,243 of the Covenanters, and of the Catholics
but 70 killed and 100 wounded. Lord Ardes, and 21 Scottish officers,
32 standards, 1,500 draught horses, and all the guns and tents, were
captured. Monroe fled to Lisburn and thence to Carrickfergus, where he
shut himself up till he could obtain reinforcements. O'Neill forwarded
the captured colours to the Nuncio at Limerick, by whom they were
solemnly placed in the choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, and afterwards,
at the request of Pope Innocent, sent to Rome. The _Te Deum_ was
chanted in the confederate capital; penitential psalms were sung
in the northern fortresses. 'The Lord of Hosts,' wrote Monroe,
'has rubbed shame on our faces till once we are humbled.' O'Neill
emblazoned the cross and keys on his banner with the Red Hand
of Ulster, and openly resumed the title originally chosen by his
adherents at Clones, 'the Catholic Army.'

The stage of Irish politics now presented the most extraordinary
complications political and military. The confederation was occupied
with endless debates and dissensions. Commanders changed positions so
rapidly, the several causes for which men had been fighting became so
confused in the unaccountable scene-shifting, giving glimpses now of
the king, now of the commonwealth, and now of the pope, that no one
knew what to do, or what was to be the end. The nuncio went home in
disgust that his blessings and his curses, which he dispensed with
equal liberality, had so little effect.

At length appeared an actor who gave a terrible unity to the drama of
Irish politics. Cromwell left London in July 1649, 'in a coach drawn
by six gallant Flanders mares,' and made a grand progress to Bristol.
He landed at Ring's End, near Dublin, on August 14. He entered the
city in procession and addressed the people from 'a convenient place,'
accompanied by his son Henry, Blake, Jones, Ireton, Ludlow, Hardress,
Waller, and others. The history of Cromwell's military exploits in
Ireland is well known. I pass on, therefore, to notice the effects of
the war on the condition of the people.

As usual, in such cases, the destruction of the crops and other
provisions by the soldiers, brought evil to the conquerors as well as
to their victims. There had been a fifteen years' war in Ulster,
when James I. ascended the throne, and it left the country waste
and desolate. Sir John Davis, his attorney-general, asserted the
unquestionable fact that perpetual war had been continued between the
two nations for 'four hundred and odd years,' and had always for its
object to 'root out the Irish.' James was to put an end to this war,
and, as we have seen, the lord deputy promised the people 'estates' in
their holdings. The effect of this promise, as recorded by Davis,
is remarkable. 'He thus made it a year of jubilee to the poor
inhabitants, because every man was to return to his own house, and
be restored to his ancient possessions, and they all went home

Poor people! they soon saw the folly of putting their trust in
princes. Now, after a seven years' war, the nation was again
visited with famine, and the country converted into a wilderness.
Three-fourths of the cattle had been destroyed; and the commissioners
for Ireland reported to the council in England in 1651, that four
parts in five of the best and most fertile land in Ireland lay waste
and uninhabited, stating that they had encouraged the Irish to till
the land, promising them the enjoyment of the crops. They had also
given orders 'for enforcing those that were removed to the mountains
to return.' The soldiers were employed to till the lands round their
posts. Corn had to be imported to Dublin from Wales. So scarce
was meat that a widow was obliged to petition the authorities for
permission to kill a lamb; and she was 'permitted and lycensed to kill
and dresse so much lambe as shall be necessary for her own eating,
not exceeding three lambes for this whole year, notwithstanding
any declaration of the said Commissioners of Parliament to the
contrary.'[A] This privilege was granted to Mrs. Buckley in
consideration of 'her old age and weakness of body.' In 1654 the Irish
revenue from all sources was only 198,000 l., while the cost of the
army was 500,000 l. A sort of conditional amnesty was granted from
necessity, pending the decision of Parliament, and on May 12,
1652, the Leinster army of the Irish surrendered on terms signed
at Kilkenny, which were adopted successively by the other principal
armies between that time and the September following, when the Ulster
forces surrendered. By these Kilkenny articles, all except those who
were guilty of the first blood were received into protection on
laying down their arms; those who should not be satisfied with the
conclusions the Parliament might come to concerning the Irish nation,
and should desire to transport themselves with their men to serve any
foreign state in amity with the Parliament, should have liberty
to treat with their agents for that purpose. But the Commissioners
undertook faithfully to mediate with the Parliament that they
might enjoy such a remnant of their lands as might make their lives
comfortable at home, or be enabled to emigrate.

[Footnote 1: Prendergast, the Cromwellian Settlement, p.16.]

The Cromwellian administration in Ireland effected a revolution
unparalleled in history. Its proceedings have been well summarised by
Mr. Darcy Magee:--

The Long Parliament, still dragging out its days under the shadow of
Cromwell's great name, declared in its session of 1652 the rebellion
in Ireland 'subdued and ended,' and proceeded to legislate for that
kingdom as a conquered country. On August 12 they passed their Act of
Settlement, the authorship of which was attributed to Lord Orrery, in
this respect the worthy son of the first Earl of Cork. Under this act
there were four chief descriptions of persons whose status was thus
settled: 1. All ecclesiastics and royalist proprietors were exempted
from pardon of life or estate. 2. All royalist commissioned officers
were condemned to banishment, and the forfeit of two-thirds of their
property, one-third being retained for the support of their wives and
children. 3. Those who had not been in arms, but could be shown, by
a parliamentary commission, to have manifested 'a constant, good
affection' to the war, were to forfeit one-third of their estates,
and receive 'an equivalent' for the remaining two-thirds west of
the Shannon. 4. All husbandmen and others of the inferior sort, 'not
possessed of lands or goods exceeding the value of 10 l.,' were to
have a free pardon, on condition also of transporting themselves
across the Shannon.

This last condition of the Cromwellian settlement distinguished it,
in our annals, from every other proscription of the native population
formerly attempted. The great river of Ireland, rising in the
mountains of Leitrim, nearly severs the five western counties from the
rest of the kingdom. The province thus set apart, though one of the
largest in superficial extent, had also the largest proportion of
waste and water, mountain and moorland. The new inhabitants were there
to congregate from all the other provinces before the first day of
May, 1654, under penalty of outlawry and all its consequences; and
when there, they were not to appear within two miles of the Shannon,
or four miles of the sea. A rigorous passport system, to evade which
was death without form of trial, completed this settlement, the design
of which was to shut up the remaining Catholic inhabitants from all
intercourse with mankind, and all communion with the other inhabitants
of their own country.

A new survey of the whole kingdom was also ordered, under the
direction of Dr. William Petty, the fortunate economist who founded
the house of Lansdowne. By him the surface of the kingdom was
estimated at 10,500,000 plantation acres, three of which were deducted
for waste and water. Of the remainder, above 5,000,000 were in
Catholic hands, in 1641; 300,000 were church and college lands; and
2,000,000 were in possession of the Protestant settlers of the reigns
of James and Elizabeth. Under the Protectorate, 5,000,000 acres were
confiscated; this enormous spoil, two-thirds of the whole island, went
to the soldiers and adventurers who had served against the Irish,
or had contributed to the military chest, since 1641--except 700,000
acres given in 'exchange' to the banished in Clare and Connaught;
and 1,200,000 confirmed to 'innocent Papists.' Such was the complete
uprooting of the ancient tenantry or clansmen from their original
holdings, that, during the survey, orders of parliament were issued to
bring back individuals from Connaught to point out the boundaries of
parishes in Munster. It cannot be imputed among the sins so freely
laid to the historical account of the native legislature, that
an Irish parliament had any share in sanctioning this universal
spoliation. Cromwell anticipated the union of the kingdoms by 150
years, when he summoned, in 1653, that assembly over which 'Praise-God
Barebones' presided; members for Ireland and Scotland sat on the same
benches with the commons of England. Oliver's first deputy in the
government of Ireland was his son-in-law Fleetwood, who had married
the widow of Ireton; but his real representative was his fourth son
Henry Cromwell, commander-in-chief of the army. In 1657, the title of
lord deputy was transferred from Fleetwood to Henry, who united the
supreme civil and military authority in his own person until the eve
of the restoration, of which he became an active partisan. We may thus
properly embrace the five years of the Protectorate as a period of
Henry Cromwell's administration.

In the absence of a parliament, the government of Ireland was vested
in the deputy, the commander-in-chief, and four commissioners, Ludlow,
Corbett, Jones, and Weaver. There was, moreover, a high court of
justice, which perambulated the kingdom, and exercised an absolute
authority over life and property greater than even Strafford's Court
of Star Chamber had pretended to. Over this court presided Lord
Lowther, assisted by Mr. Justice Donnellan, by Cooke, solicitor to the
parliament on the trial of King Charles, and the regicide Reynolds.
By this court, Sir Phelim O'Neill, Viscount Mayo, and Colonels O'Toole
and Bagnall were condemned and executed; children of both sexes were
captured by thousands, and sold as slaves to the tobacco-planters of
Virginia and the West Indies. Sir William Petty states that 6,000 boys
and girls were sent to those islands. The number, of all ages, thus
transported, was estimated at 100,000 souls. As to the 'swordsmen'
who had been trained to fighting, Petty, in his _Political Anatomy_,
records that 'the chiefest and most eminentest of the nobility and
many of the gentry had taken conditions from the King of Spain,
and had transported 40,000 of the most active, spirited men, most
acquainted with the dangers and discipline of war.' The chief
commissioners in Dublin had despatched assistant commissioners to the
provinces. The distribution which they made of the soil was nearly
as complete as that of Canaan among the Israelites; and this was
the model which the Puritans had always before their minds. Where a
miserable residue of the population was required to till the land
for its new owners, they were tolerated as the Gibeonites had been by
Joshua. Irish gentlemen who had obtained pardons were obliged to
wear a distinctive mark on their dress on pain of death. Persons of
inferior rank were distinguished by a black spot on the right cheek.
Wanting this, their punishment was the branding-iron or the gallows.

No vestige of the Catholic religion was allowed to exist. Catholic
lawyers and schoolmasters were silenced. All ecclesiastics were slain
like the priests of Baal. Three bishops and 300 of the inferior clergy
thus perished. The bedridden Bishop of Kilmore was the only native
clergyman permitted to survive. If, in mountain recesses or caves, a
few peasants were detected at mass, they were smoked out and shot.

Thus England got rid of a race concerning which Mr. Prendergast found
this contemporary testimony in a MS. in Trinity College library,
Dublin, dated 1615:--

'There lives not a people more hardy, active, and painful ... neither
is there any will endure the miseries of warre, as famine, watching,
heat, cold, wet, travel, and the like, so naturally and with such
facility and courage that they do. The Prince of Orange's excellency
uses often publiquely to deliver that the Irish are souldiers the
first day of their birth. The famous Henry IV., late king of France,
said there would prove no nation so resolute martial men as they,
would they be ruly and not too headstrong. And Sir John Norris was
wont to ascribe this particular to that nation above others, that he
never beheld so few of any country as of Irish that were idiots and
cowards, which is very notable.'

At the end of 1653, the parliament made a division of the spoil among
the conquerors and the adventurers; and, on September 26, an act was
passed for the new planting of Ireland by English. The Government
reserved for itself the towns, the church lands, and the tithes, the
established church, hierarchy and all, having been utterly abolished.
The four counties of Dublin, Kildare, Carlow, and Cork were also
reserved. The amount due to the adventurers was 360,000 l. This they
divided into three lots, of which 110,000 l. was to be satisfied in
Munster, 205,000 l. in Leinster, and 45,000 l. in Ulster, and the
moiety of ten counties was charged with their payment--Waterford,
Limerick, and Tipperary, in Munster; Meath, Westmeath, King's and
Queen's Counties, in Leinster; and Antrim, Down, and Armagh, in
Ulster. But, as all was required by the Adventurers Act to be done by
lot, a lottery was appointed to be held in Grocers' Hall, London, for
July 20, 1653, to begin at 8 o'clock in the morning, when lots should
be first drawn in which province each adventurer was to be satisfied,
not exceeding the specified amounts in any province; lots were to
be drawn, secondly, to ascertain in which of the ten counties
each adventurer was to receive his land--the lots not to exceed in
Westmeath 70,000 l., in Tipperary 60,000 l., in Meath 55,000 l., in
King's and Queen's Counties 40,000 l. each, in Limerick 30,000 l., in
Waterford 20,000 l., in Antrim, Down, and Armagh 15,000 l. each. And,
as it was thought it would be a great encouragement to the adventurers
(who were for the most part merchants and tradesmen), about to plant
in so wild and dangerous a country, not yet subdued, to have soldier
planters near them, these ten counties, when surveyed (which was
directed to be done immediately, and returned to the committee for
the lottery at Grocers' Hall), were to be divided, each county by
baronies, into two moieties, as equally as might be, without dividing
any barony. A lot was then to be drawn by the adventurers, and by
some officer appointed by the Lord General Cromwell on behalf of the
soldiery, to ascertain which baronies in the ten counties should be
for the adventurers, and which for the soldiers.

The rest of Ireland, except Connaught, was to be set out amongst the
officers and soldiers for their arrears, amounting to 1,550,000 l.,
and to satisfy debts of money or provisions due for supplies advanced
to the army of the commonwealth amounting to 1,750,000 l. Connaught
being by the parliament reserved and appointed for the habitation of
the Irish nation, all English and Protestants having lands there, who
should desire to remove out of Connaught into the provinces inhabited
by the English, were to receive estates in the English parts, of equal
value, in exchange.

The next thing was to clear out the remnant of the inhabitants,
and the overture to this performance was the following merciful

'The Parliament of the Commonwealth of England having by one act
lately passed (entitled an Act for the Settling of Ireland) declared
that _it is not their intention to extirpate this whole nation_,
but that mercy and pardon for life and estate be extended to all
husbandmen, plowmen, labourers, artificers, and others of the inferior
sort, in such manner as in and by the said Act is set forth: for the
better execution of the said Act, and that timely notice may be given
to all persons therein concerned, it is ordered that the Governor and
Commissioners of Revenue, or any two or more of them, within every
precinct in this nation, do cause the said Act of Parliament with this
present declaration to be published and proclaimed in their respective
precincts _by beat of drumme and sound of trumpett_, on some markett
day, within tenn days after the same shall come unto them within their
respective precincts.

'Dated at the Castle of Kilkenny, this 11th October, 1652.


A letter from Dublin, dated December 21, 1654, four days before
Christmas, says the 'transplantation is now far advanced, the men
being gone to prepare their new habitations in Connaught. Their wives
and children and dependants have been, and are, packing away after
them apace, and all are to be gone by the 1st of March next.' In
another letter the writer _naïvely_ remarks, 'It is the nature of this
people to be rebellious, and they have been so much the more disposed
to it, having been highly exasperated to it by the transplanting
work.' The temper of the settlers towards the natives may be inferred
from a petition to the lord deputy and council of Ireland, praying for
the enforcement of the original order requiring the removal of all
the Irish nation into Connaught, except boys of fourteen and girls
of twelve. 'For we humbly conceive,' say the petitioners, 'that the
proclamation for transplanting only the proprietors, and such as have
been in arms, will neither answer the end of safety nor what else is
aimed at thereby. For the first purpose of the transplantation is
to prevent those of natural principles' (i.e. of natural affections)
'becoming one with these Irish, as well in affinity as idolatry, as
many thousands did who came over in Elizabeth's time, many of which
have had a deep hand in all the late murders and massacres. And shall
we join in affinity,' they ask, 'with a people of these abominations?
Would not the Lord be angry with us till He consumes us, having
said--"the land which ye go to possess is an unclean land, because
of the filthiness of the people who dwell therein. Ye shall not,
therefore, give your sons to their daughters, nor take their daughters
to your sons," as it is in Ezra ix. 11, 12, 14. "Nay, ye shall surely
root them out, lest they cause you to forsake the Lord your God."
Deut. c. vii. &c.'

In this way they hoped that 'honest men' would be encouraged to come
and live amongst them, because the other three provinces (that is, all
the island but Connaught) would be free of 'tories,' when there was
none left to harbour or relieve them. They would have made a clean
sweep of Munster, Leinster, and Ulster, so that 'the saints' might
inherit the land without molestation. If any Protestant friends of the
Irish objected to this thorough mode of effecting the work of Irish
regeneration, Colonel Lawrence 'doubted not but God would enable that
authority yet in being to let out that dram of rebellious bloud, and
cure that fit of sullenness their advocate speaks of.'

The commissioners appointed to effect the transplantation were
painfully conscious of their unworthiness to perform so holy a work,
and Were overwhelmed with a sense of their weakness in the midst of
such tremendous difficulties, so that they were constrained to say:
'The child is now come to the birth, and much is desired and expected,
but there is no strength to bring forth.' They therefore fasted and
humbled themselves before the Lord, inviting the officers of the army
to join them in lifting up prayers, 'with strong crying and tears,
to Him to whom nothing is too strong, that His servants, whom He had
called forth in this day to act in these great transactions, might be
made faithful, and carried on by His own outstretched arm, against all
opposition and difficulty, to do what was pleasing in His sight.'

It is true they had this consolation, 'that the chiefest and
eminentest of the nobility and many of the gentry had taken conditions
from the king of Spain, and had transported 40,000 of the most active,
spirited men, most acquainted with the dangers and discipline of war.'
The priests were all banished. The remaining part of the whole nation
was scarce one-sixth of what they were at the beginning of the war, so
great a devastation had God and man brought upon that land; and that
handful of natives left were poor labourers, simple creatures, whose
sole design was to live and maintain their families.'

Of course there were many exceptions to this rule. There were some of
the upper classes remaining, described in the certificates which all
the emigrants were obliged to procure, like Sir Nicholas Comyn, of
Limerick, 'who was numb at one side of his body of a dead palsy,
accompanied only by his lady, Catherine Comyn, aged thirty-five years,
flaxen-haired, middle stature; and one maid servant, Honor M'Namara,
aged twenty years, brown hair, middle stature, having no substance,'
&c. From Tipperary went forth James, Lord Dunboyne, with 21 followers,
and having 4 cows, 10 garrons, and 2 swine. Dame Catherine Morris, 35
followers, 10 cows, 16 garrons, 19 goats, 2 swine. Lady Mary Hamilton,
of Roscrea, with 45 persons, 40 cows, 30 garrons, 46 sheep, 2 goats.
Pierce, Lord Viscount Ikerrin, with 17 persons, having 16 acres of
winter corn, 4 cows, 5 garrons, 14 sheep, 2 swine, &c. There were
other noblemen, lords of the Pale, descended from illustrious English
ancestors, the Fitzgeralds, the Butlers, the Plunkets, the Barnwells,
the Dillons, the Cheevers, the Cusacks, &c., who petitioned, praying
that their flight might not be in the winter, or alleging that their
wives and children were sick, that their cattle were unfit to drive,
or that they had crops to get in. To them dispensations were granted,
provided the husbands and parents were in Connaught building huts,
&c., and that not more than one or two servants remained behind to
look after the respective herds and flocks, and to attend to the
gathering in and threshing of the corn. And some few, such as John
Talbot de Malahide, got a pass for safe travelling from Connaught
to come back, in order to dispose of their corn and goods, giving
security to return within the time limited. If they did not return
they got this warning in the month of March--that the officers had
resolved to fill the jails with them, 'by which this bloody people
will know that they (the officers) are not degenerated from English
principles. Though I presume we should be very tender of hanging any
except leading men, yet we shall make no scruple of sending them
to the West Indies,' &c. Accordingly when the time came, all the
remaining crops were seized and sold; there was a general arrest of
all 'transplantable persons. All over the three provinces, men and
women were hauled out of their beds in the dead hour of night to
prison, till the jails were choked.' In order to further expedite
the removal of the nobility and gentry, a court-martial sat in St.
Patrick's Cathedral, and ordered the lingering delinquents, who shrunk
from going to Connaught, to be hanged, with a placard on the breast
and back of each victim--'_For not transplanting.'_

Scully's conduct at Ballycohy, was universally execrated. But what did
he attempt to do? Just what the Cromwellian officers did at the end
of a horrid civil war 200 years ago, with this difference in favour of
Cromwell, that Scully did not purpose to 'transplant,' He would simply
uproot, leaving the uprooted to perish on the highway. His conduct was
as barbarous as that of the Cromwellian officers. But what of Scully?
He is nothing. The all-important fact is, that, in playing a part
worse than Cromwellian, he, _acting according to English law, was
supported by all the power of the state_; and if the men who defended
their homes against his attack had been arrested and convicted, Irish
judges would have consigned them to the gallows; and they might, as
in the Cromwellian case, have ordered a placard to be put on their


In fact the Cromwellian commissioners did nothing more than carry out
fully the _principles_ of our present land code. Nine-tenths of the
soil of Ireland are held by tenants at will. It is constantly argued
in the leading organs of English opinion, that the power of the
landlords to resume possession of their estates, and turn them into
pastures, evicting all the tenants, is _essential_ to the rights of
property. This has been said in connection with the great absentee
proprietors. According to this theory of proprietorship, the only one
recognised by law, Lord Lansdowne may legally spread desolation over a
large part of Kerry; Lord Fitzwilliam may send the ploughshare of ruin
through the hearths of half the county Wicklow; Lord Digby, in the
King's County, may restore to the bog of Allen vast tracts reclaimed
during many generations by the labour of his tenants; and Lord
Hertfort may convert into a wilderness the district which the
descendants of the English settlers have converted into the garden
of Ulster. If any or all of those noblemen took a fancy, like Colonel
Bernard of Kinnitty or Mr. Allen Pollok, to become graziers and
cattle-jobbers on a gigantic scale, the Government would be compelled
to place the military power of the state at their disposal, to evict
the whole population in the queen's name, to drive all the families
away from their homes, to demolish their dwellings, and turn them
adrift on the highway, without one shilling compensation. Villages,
schools, churches would all disappear from the landscape; and, when
the grouse season arrived, the noble owner might bring over a party of
English friends to see his '_improvements!_' The right of conquest
so cruelly exercised by the Cromwellians is in this year of grace _a
legal right_; and its exercise is a mere question of expediency and
discretion. There is not a landlord in Ireland who may not be a Scully
if he wishes. It is not law or justice, it is not British power, that
prevents the enactment of Cromwellian scenes of desolation in
every county of that unfortunate country. It is self-interest, with
humanity, in the hearts of good men, and the dread of assassination
in the hearts of bad men, that prevent at the present moment the
immolation of the Irish people to the Moloch of territorial despotism.
It is the effort to render impossible those human sacrifices, those
holocausts of Christian households, that the priests of
feudal landlordism denounce so frantically with loud cries of

The 'graces' promised by Charles I. in 1628 demonstrate the real
wretchedness of the country to which they were deceitfully offered,
and from which they were treacherously withdrawn. From them we learn
that the Government soldiers were a terror to more than the king's
enemies, that the king's rents were collected at the sword's point,
and that numerous monopolies and oppressive taxes impoverished the
country. There was little security for estates in any part of Ireland,
and none at all for estates in Connaught. No man could sue out livery
for his lands without first taking the oath of the royal supremacy.
The soldiers enjoyed an immunity in the perpetration of even capital
crimes, for the civil power could not touch them. Those who were
married, or had their children baptized, by Roman Catholic priests,
were liable to fine and censure. The Protestant bishops and clergy
were in great favour and had enormous privileges. The patentees of
dissolved religious houses claimed exemption from various assessments.
The ministers of the Established Church were entitled to the aid of
the Government in exacting reparation for clandestine exercises of
spiritual jurisdiction by Roman Catholic priests, and actually appear
to have kept private prisons of their own. They exacted tithes from
Roman Catholics of everything titheable. The eels of the rivers and
lakes, the fishes of the sea paid them toll. The dead furnished the
mortuary fees to the 'alien church' in the shape of the best clothes
which the wardrobe of the defunct afforded. The government of
Wentworth, better known as the Earl of Strafford, is highly praised by
high churchmen and admirers of Laud, but was execrated by the Irish,
who failed to appreciate the mercies of his star-chamber court, or to
recognise the justice of his fining juries who returned disagreeable
verdicts. The list of grievances, transmitted by the Irish House
of Peers in 1641 to the English Government, cannot be regarded as
altogether visionary, for it was vouched by the names of lords,
spiritual and temporal, whose attachment to the English interest was
undoubted. The lord chancellor (Loftus), the archbishop of Dublin
(Bulkeley), the bishops of Meath, Clogher, and Killala were no rebels,
and yet they protested against the grievances inflicted on Ireland by
the tyranny of Strafford. According to these contemporary witnesses,
the Irish nobles had been taxed beyond all proportion to the English
nobles; Irish peers had been sent to prison although not impeached
of treason or any capital offence; the deputy had managed to keep all
proxies of peers in the hands of his creatures, and thus to sway the
Upper House to his will; the trade of the kingdom had been destroyed;
and the 'graces' of 1628 had been denied to the nation, or clogged by
provisoes which rendered them a mockery. And yet, in the face of
such evidence of misery and misgovernment, the Archbishop of Dublin
asserted in a charge to his clergy, that 'all contemporary writers
agree in describing the flourishing condition of the island, and its
rapid advance in civilisation and wealth, when all its improvement
was brought to an end by the catastrophe of the Irish rebellion of
1641'--the very year in which the Irish Houses of Lords and Commons
agreed in depicting the condition of Ireland as utterly miserable!

But Archbishop Trench not only contradicts the authentic contemporary
records, in picturing as halcyon days one of the most wretched periods
of Irish history, but also wrongfully represents one of the saddest
episodes of that history. He reminded his clergy 'that the number
of Protestants who were massacred by the Roman Catholics during the
rebellion was, by the most moderate estimate, set down as 40,000.' His
grace seems to have been unacquainted with the contemporary evidence
collected by the Protestant historian Warner, who examined the
depositions of 1641, on which the story of the massacre was based, and
found the estimate of those who perished in the so-called massacre to
have been enormously exaggerated. He calculated the number of those
killed, 'upon evidence collected within two years after the rebellion
broke out,' at 4,028, besides 8,000 said to have perished through bad
usage. The parliament commissioners in Dublin, writing in 1652 to the
commissioners in England, say that, 'besides 848 families, there
were killed, hanged, burned, and drowned 6,062. Thus there were two
estimates--one of 12,000, the other of 10,000--each of which was far
lower than the estimate of 40,000, which his grace calls 'the
most moderate.' It turns out, moreover, that the argument based by
Archbishop Trench on the false estimate of those said to have been
massacred, is wholly worthless for the purpose intended by his grace.
The disproportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics, which appears
by the census of 1861, cannot be accounted for by the statistics
of 1641--be those statistics true or false. For the proportion of
Protestants to Roman Catholics was higher in 1672--thirty years after
the alleged massacre--than in 1861. The Protestants in 1672, according
to Sir W. Petty, numbered 300,000, and the Roman Catholics 800,000;
while in 1861 there were found in Ireland only 1,293,702 Protestants
of all denominations to 4,505,265 Roman Catholics. It follows from
these figures, as has been already remarked by Dr. Maziere Brady, that
there has been a relative decrease of Protestants, as compared with
Roman Catholics, of 395,772 persons. And this relative decrease was in
no way affected--inasmuch as it took place since the year 1672--by the
alleged massacre of 1641.



It is a fearful thing to undertake the destruction of a nation
by slaughter, starvation, and banishment. When we read of such
enormities, perpetrated by some 'scourge of God,' in heathen lands and
distant ages, we are horrified, and we thank Providence that it is our
lot to be born in a Christian country. But what must the world think
of our Christianity when they read of the things that, in a most
Bible-reading age, Englishmen did in Ireland?

The work of transplanting was slow, difficult, and intensely painful
to the Irish, for Connaught was bleak, sterile, and desolate, and the
weather was inclement. The natural protectors of many families had
been killed or banished, and the women and children clung with frantic
fondness to their old homes. But for the feelings of such afflicted
ones the conquerors had no sympathy. On the contrary, they believed
that God, angry at their lingering, sent his judgments as a
punishment. Mr. Prendergast has published a number of letters, written
at the time by the English authorities and others, from which some
interesting matters may be gleaned. The town of Cashel had got a
dispensation to remain. 'But,' says the writer, 'the Lord, who is a
jealous God, and more knowing of, as well as jealous against their
iniquity than we, by a fire on the 23rd inst. hath burned down the
whole town in little less than a quarter of an hour, except a few
houses that a few English lived in,' &c. In consequence of the delay,
the Irish began to break into 'torying' (plundering). 'The tories fly
out and increase. What strange people, not to starve in peace.' To
be inclined to plunder under such circumstances, with so gracious a
Government, must be held to be a proof of great natural depravity, as
well as of a peculiar incapacity to respect, or even to understand,
the rights of property.

At length, however, the land was ready for the enjoyment of the
officers and soldiers. On August 20, 1655, the lord deputy, Fleetwood,
thus addressed one of the officers:--

'Sir,--In pursuance of his highness's command, the council here
with myself and chief officers of the army having concluded about
disbanding part of the army, in order to lessening the present charge,
it is fit that your troope be one. And, accordingly, I desire you
would march such as are willing to plant of them into the barony of
Shelmaliere, in the county of Wexford, at or before the first day of
September, where you shall be put into possession of your lands, for
your arrears, according to the rates agreed on by the committee and
agents. As also you shall have, upon the place wherein you are, so
much money as shall answer the present three months' arrear due to you
and your men, but to continue no longer the pay of the army than upon
the muster of this August. The sooner you march your men the better;
thereby you will be enabled to make provision for the winter.' After
some sweetening hints that they will be perhaps paid hereafter as a
militia he concludes:--

'And great is your mercy, that after all your hardships and
difficulties you may sit down, and, if the Lord give His blessing, may
reape some fruits of your past services. Do not think it a blemish
or underrating of your past services, that you are now disbanded; but
look upon it as of the Lord's appointing, and with cheerfulness submit
thereunto; and the blessing of the Lord be upon you all, and keep you
in His fear, and give you hearts to observe your past experience of
signal appearances. And that this fear may be seen in your hearts, and
that you may be kept from the sins and pollutions which God hath so
eminently witnessed against in those whose possessions you are to take
up, is the desire of him who is

  'Your very affectionate friend, to love and serve you,


He congratulated them that, 'having by the blessing of God obtained
their peace, they might sit down in the enjoyment of the enemies'
fields and houses, which they planted not nor built not. They had no
reason to repent their services, considering how great an issue God
had given.' Yet many refused to settle, and sold their debentures to
their officers. What could they do with the farms? They had no horses
or ploughs, no cattle to stock the land, no labourers to till it.
Above all, they had no women. Flogging was the punishment for amours
with Irish girls, and marriage with the idolatrous race was forbidden
under heavy penalties. Hence the soldiers pretended that their wives
were converted to Protestantism. But this was to be tested by a strict
examination of each as to the state of her soul, and the means by
which she had been enlightened. If she did not stand the test, her
husband was degraded in rank, and, if disbanded, he was liable to
be sent to Connaught with the fair seducer. The charms of the Irish
women, however, proved irresistible, and the hearts of the pious
rulers were sorely troubled by this danger.

'In 1652, amongst the first plans for paying the army their arrears
in land, it was suggested there should be a law that any officers or
soldiers marrying Irishwomen should lose their commands, forfeit their
arrears, and be made incapable of inheriting lands in Ireland. No such
provision, however, was introduced into the act, because it provided
against this danger more effectually by ordering the women to
transplant, together with the whole nation, to Connaught. Those in
authority, however, ought never to have let the English officers and
soldiers come in contact with the Irishwomen, or should have ordered
another army of young Englishwomen over, if they did not intend this
provision to be nugatory. Planted in a wasted country, amongst the
former owners and their families, with little to do but to make love,
and no lips to make love to but Irish, love or marriage must follow
between them as necessarily as a geometrical conclusion follows
from the premises. For there were but few who (in the language of a
Cromwellian patriot),

  ----'rather than turne
  From English principles, would sooner burne;
  And rather than marrie an Irish wife,
  Would batchellers remain for tearme of life.'

About forty years after the Cromwellian Settlement, and just seven
years after the Battle of the Boyne, the following was written: 'We
cannot so much wonder at this [the quick "degenerating" of the English
of Ireland], when we consider how many there are of the children of
Oliver's soldiers in Ireland who cannot speak one word of English.
And (which is strange) the same may be said of some of the children
of King William's soldiers who came but t'other day into the country.
This misfortune is owing to the marrying Irishwomen for want of
English, who come not over in so great numbers as are requisite. 'Tis
sure that no Englishman in Ireland knows what his children may be as
things are now; they cannot well live in the country without growing
Irish; for none take such care as Sir Jerome Alexander [second justice
of the Common Pleas in Ireland from 1661 to his death in 1670], who
left his estate to his daughter, but made the gift void if she married
any Irishman;' Sir Jerome including in this term 'any lord of Ireland,
any archbishop, bishop, prelate, any baronet, knight, esquire, or
gentleman of Irish extraction or descent, born and bred in Ireland, or
having his relations and means of subsistence there,' and expressly,
of course, any 'Papist.'--'True Way to render Ireland happy and
secure; or, a Discourse, wherein 'tis shown that 'tis the interest
both of England and Ireland to encourage foreign Protestants to plant
in Ireland; in a letter to the Hon. Robert Molesworth.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Cromwellian Settlement, p.130.]

The impossibility of getting a sufficient number of settlers from
England to cultivate the land, produce food, and render the estates
worth holding, led to some fraudulent transactions for the benefit
of the natives who were 'loath to leave.' The officers in various
counties got general orders giving dispensations from the necessity
of planting with English tenants, and liberty to take Irish, provided
they were not proprietors or swordsmen. But the proprietors who had
established friendships with their conquerors secretly became tenants
under them to parts of their former estates, ensuring thereby the
connivance of their new landlords against their transplantation. On
June 1, 1655, the commissioners for the affairs of Ireland (Fleetwood,
lord deputy, one of them), being then at Limerick, discovered this
fraud, and issued a peremptory order revoking all former dispensations
for English proprietors to plant with Irish tenants; and they enjoined
upon the governor of Limerick and all other officers the removing of
the proprietors thus sheltered and their families into Connaught, on
or before that day three weeks. But, happily, says Mr. Prendergast,
all penal laws against a nation are difficult of execution. The
officers still connived with many of the poor Irish gentry and
sheltered them, which caused Fleetwood, then commander of the
parliament forces in Ireland, upon his return to Dublin, and within a
fortnight after the prescribed limit for their removal was expired,
to thunder forth from Dublin Castle a severe reprimand to all
officers thus offending. Their neglect to search for and apprehend
the transplantable proprietors was denounced as a great dishonour and
breach of discipline of the army; and their entertaining any of them
as tenants was declared a hindrance to the planting of Ireland with
English Protestants. 'I do therefore,' the order continued, 'hereby
order and declare, that if any officer or soldier under my command
shall offend by neglect of his duty in searching for and apprehending
all such persons as by the declaration of November 30, 1654, are
to transplant themselves into Connaught; or by entertaining them as
tenants on his lands, or as servants under him, he shall be punished
by the articles of war as negligent of his duty, according to the
demerit of such his neglect.'

The English parliament resolved to clear out the population of all
the principal cities and seaport towns, though nearly all founded and
inhabited by Danes or English, and men of English descent. In order to
raise funds for the war, the following towns were offered to English
merchants for sale at the prices annexed:--Limerick, with 12,000 acres
contiguous, for 30,000 l., and a rent of 625 l. payable to the state;
Waterford, with 1,500 acres contiguous, at the same rate; Galway, with
10,000 acres, for 7,500 l., and a rent of 520 l.; Wexford, with 6,000
acres, for 5,000 l., and a rent of 156 l. 4 s.

There were no bidders; but still the Government adhered to its
determination to clear out the Irish, and supply their place with a
new English population. Artisans were excepted, but strictly limited
in number, each case being particularly described and registered,
while dispensations were granted to certain useful persons, on the
petition of the settlers who needed their services.

On July 8 in the same year, the governor of Clonmel was authorised to
grant dispensations to forty-three persons in a list annexed, or as
many of them as he should think fit, being artificers and workmen, to
stay for such time as he might judge convenient, the whole time not
to exceed March 25, 1655. On June 5, 1654, the governor of Dublin was
authorised to grant licences to such inhabitants to continue in the
city (notwithstanding the declaration for all Irish to quit) as he
should judge convenient, the licences to contain the name, age,
colour of hair, countenance, and stature of every such person; and the
licence not to exceed twenty days, and the cause of their stay to
be inserted in each licence. Petitions went up from the old native
inhabitants of Limerick; from the fishermen of Limerick; from the
mayor and inhabitants of Cashel, who were all ordered to transplant;
but, notwithstanding these orders, many of them still clung about
the towns, sheltered by the English, who found the benefit of their

The deserted cities of course fell speedily into ruins. Lord
Inchiquin, president of Munster, put many artisans, menial servants,
grooms, &c. in the houses, to take care of them in Cork; still about
3,000 good houses in that city, and as many in Youghal, out of which
the owners had been driven, were destroyed by the soldiers, who used
the timber for fuel. The council addressed the following letter to
Secretary Thurloe:--

  'Dublin Castle, March 4, 1656.

'Right Honourable,--The council, having lately taken into their
most serious consideration what may be most for the security of this
country, and the encouragement of the English to come over and plant
here, did think fitt that all Popish recusants, as wel proprietors
as others, whose habitations are in any port-towns, walled-towns, or
garrisons, and who did not before the 15th of September 1643 (being
the time mentioned in the act of 1653 for the encouragement of
adventurers and soldiers), and ever since profess the Protestant
religion, should remove themselves and their families out of all such
places, and two miles at the least distant therefrom, before the
20th of May next; and being desirous that the English people may take
notice, that by this means there will be both security and conveniency
of habitation for such as shall be willing to come over as planters,
they have commanded me to send you the enclosed declaration, and to
desire you that you will take some course, whereby it may be made
known unto the people for their encouragement to come over and plant
in this country.

  'Your humble servant,

  'THOMAS HERBERT, Clerk of the Council.'

On July 23, 1655, the inhabitants of Galway were commanded to quit the
town for ever by the 1st of November following, the owners of houses
getting compensation at eight years' purchase.

'On October 30, this order was executed. All the inhabitants, except
the sick and bedrid, were at once banished, to provide accommodation
for English Protestants, whose integrity to the state should entitle
them to be trusted in a place of such importance; and Sir Charles
Coote, on November 7, received the thanks of the Government for
clearing the town, with a request that he would remove the sick and
bedrid as soon as the season might permit, and take care that the
houses while empty were not spoiled by the soldiery. The town was thus
made ready for the English. There was a large debt of 10,000 l., due
to Liverpool for their loss and suffering for the good cause. The
eminent deservings and losses of the city of Gloucester also had
induced the parliament to order them 10,000 l., to be satisfied in
forfeited lands in Ireland. The commissioners of Ireland now offered
forfeited houses in Galway, rated at ten years' purchase, to the
inhabitants of Liverpool and Gloucester, to satisfy their respective
debts, and they were both to arrange about the planting of it with
English Protestants. To induce them to accept the proposal, the
commissioners enlarged upon the advantages of Galway. It lay open for
trade with Spain, the Straits, the West Indies, and other places;
no town or port in the three nations, London excepted, was more
considerable. It had many noble uniform buildings of marble, though
many of the houses had become ruinous by reason of the war, and the
waste done by the impoverished English dwelling there. No Irish were
permitted to live in the city, nor within three miles of it. If it
were only properly inhabited by English, it might have a more hopeful
gain by trade than when it was in the hands of the Irish that
lived there. There never was a better opportunity of undertaking a
plantation and settling manufacturers there than the present, and they
suggested that it might become another Derry.'[1]

[Footnote 1: The Cromwellian Settlement.]

Some writers, sickened with the state of things in Ireland, and
impatient of the inaction of our rulers, and of the tedious forms of
constitutional government, have exclaimed: 'Oh for one day of Oliver
Cromwell!' Well, Ireland had him and his worthy officers for many
years. They had opportunities, which never can be hoped for again, of
rooting out the Irish and their religion. '_Thorough_' was their word.
They dared everything, and shrunk from no consequences. They found
Dublin full of Catholics; and on June 19, 1651, Mr. John Hewson had
the felicity of making the following report on the state of religion
in the Irish metropolis:--

'Mr. Winter, a godly man, came with the commissioners, and they flock
to hear him with great desire; besides, there is in Dublin, since
January last, about 750 Papists forsaken their priests and the masse,
and attends the public ordinances, I having appointed Mr. Chambers,
a minister, to instruct them at his own house once a week. They all
repaire to him with much affection, and desireth satisfaction. And
though Dublin hath formerly swarmed with Papists, I know none (now)
there but one, who is a chirurgeon, and a peaceable man. It is much
hoped the glad tidings of salvation will be acceptable in Ireland, and
that this savage people may see the salvation of God.'

Political economists tell us that when population is greatly thinned
by war, or pestilence, or famine, Nature hastens to fill up the void
by the extraordinary fecundity of those who remain. The Irish must
have multiplied very fast in Connaught during the Commonwealth; and
the mixture of Saxon and Celtic blood resulting from the union of the
Cromwellian soldiers with the daughters of the land must have produced
a numerous as well as a very vigorous breed in Wexford, Kilkenny,
Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, East and West Meath, King's and Queen's
Counties, and Tyrone. But these were not 'wholly a right seed.' This
was to be found only in the union of English with English, newly
arrived from the land of the free. The more precious this seed was,
the more care there should be in bringing it into the field. This
matter constituted one of the great difficulties of the plantation.
There were plenty of Irish midwives: they might have been affectionate
and careful, possibly skilful; but if they had any good quality, the
council could not see it. On the contrary, it gave them credit
for many bad qualities, the worst of all being their idolatry and
disloyalty. It was really dreadful to think of English mothers and
their infants being at the mercy of Irish nurses. Consequently, after
much deliberation, and 'laying the matter before the Lord' in prayer,
it was resolved to bring over a state nurse from England, and to her
special care were to be entrusted all the _accouchements_ in the city
of Dublin. Endowed with such a monopoly, it was natural enough that
she should be an object of envy and dislike to those midwives whom she
had supplanted. She was therefore annoyed and insulted while passing
through the streets. To put a stop to these outrages, a proclamation
was issued from Dublin Castle for her special protection, which began

_By the Commissioners of Parliament for the Affairs of Ireland_.

'Whereas we are informed by divers persons of repute and godliness,
that Mrs. Jane Preswick hath, through the blessing of God, been very
successful within Dublin and parts about, through the carefull and
skillfull discharge of her midwife's duty, and instrumental to helpe
sundry poore women who needed her helpe, which bathe abounded to the
comfourte and preservation of many English women, who (being come
into a strange country) had otherwise been destitute of due helpe,
and necessitated to expose their lives to the mercy of Irish midwives,
ignorant in the profession, and bearing little good will to any of
the English nation, which being duly considered, we thought fitt to
evidence this our acceptance thereof, and willingness that a person
so eminently qualified for publique good and so well reported of
for piety and knowledge in her art should receive encouragement and
protection,' &c.

Cromwell and his ministers did not hesitate about applying heroic
remedies for what they conceived to be grievances. The Irish
parliament was abolished, like the Irish churches, the Irish cities,
and everything else that could be called Irish, except the thing for
which they fought--_the land_, which was to be Irish no more. The new
England which the Protector established in the Island of Saints
was represented, like Scotland, in the united parliament at
Westminster--which first assembled in 1657. In that parliament, Major
Morgan represented the county of Wicklow. In speaking against some
proposed taxation for Ireland, he said, among other things, the
country was under very heavy charges for rewards paid for the
destruction of three beasts--the wolf, the priest, and the tory. 'We
have three beasts to destroy,' he said, 'that lay burdens upon us. The
first is a wolf, on whom we lay 5 l. a head if a dog, and 10 l. if a
bitch. The second beast is a priest, on whose head we lay 10 l.; if he
be eminent, more. The third beast is a tory, on whose head, if he be
a public tory, we lay 20 l.; and 40 s. on a private tory. Your army
cannot catch them: the Irish bring them in; brothers and cousins cut
one another's throats.'

In May, 1653, the council issued the following printed declaration.
'Upon serious consideration had of the great multitudes of poore
swarming in all parts of this nacion, occasioned by the devastation
of the country, and by the habits of licentiousness and idleness
which the generality of the people have acquired in the time of this
rebellion; insomuch that frequently some are found feeding on carrion
and weeds,--some starved in the highways, and many times poor children
who have lost their parents, or have been deserted by them, are found
exposed to and some of them fed upon _by ravening wolves and other
beasts and birds of prey._'

No wonder the wolves multiplied and became very bold, when they fed
upon such dainty fare as Irish children! By what infatuation, by what
diabolical fanaticism were those rulers persuaded that they were
doing God a service, or discharging the functions of a Government,
in carrying out such a policy, and consigning human beings to such a

By a printed declaration of June 29, 1653, published July 1, 1656,[1]
the commanders of the various districts were to appoint days and times
for hunting the wolf; and persons destroying wolves and bringing their
heads to the commissioners of the revenue of the precinct were to
receive for the head of a bitch wolf, 6 _l_; of a dog wolf, 5 _l_; for
the head of every cub that preyed by himself, 40 s.; and for the head
of every sucking cub, 10 _s_: The assessments on several counties
to reimburse the treasury for these advances became, as appears from
Major Morgan's speech, a serious charge. In corroboration it appears
that in March, 1655, there was due from the precinct of Galway 243
l. 5 s. 4 d. for rewards paid on this account. But the most curious
evidence of their numbers is that lands lying only nine miles north of
Dublin were leased by the state in the year 1653, under conditions of
keeping a hunting establishment with a pack of wolf hounds for killing
the wolves, part of the rent to be discounted in wolves' heads, at
the rate in the declaration of June 29, 1653. Under this lease Captain
Edward Piers was to have all the state lands in the barony of Dunboyne
in the county of Meath, valued at 543 l. 8 s. 8 d., at a rent greater
by 100 l. a year than they then yielded in rent and contribution, for
five years from May 1 following, on the terms of maintaining at Dublin
and Dunboyne three wolf-dogs, two English mastiffs, a pack of hounds
of sixteen couple (three whereof to hunt the wolf only), a knowing
huntsman, and two men and one boy. Captain Piers was to bring to the
commissioners of revenue at Dublin a stipulated number of wolf-heads
in the first year and a diminishing number every year; but for every
wolf-head whereby he fell short of the stipulated number, 5 l. was to
be defalked from his salary.[2]

[Footnote 1: A/84, p.255. Republished 7th July, 1656.--'Book of
Printed Declarations of the Commissioners for the Affairs of Ireland.'
British Museum.]

[Footnote 2: Cromwellian Settlement, p.154.]

Twenty pounds was paid for the discovery of a priest, the second
'burdensome beast,' and to harbour him was death. Again I avail myself
of the researches of Mr. Prendergast, to give a few orders on this

'_August_ 4, 1654.--Ordered, on the petition of Roger Begs, priest,
now prisoner in Dublin, setting forth his miserable condition by being
nine months in prison, and desiring liberty to go among his friends
into the country for some relief; that he be released upon giving
sufficient security that within four months he do transport himself to
foreign parts, beyond the seas, never to return, and that during that
time he do not exercise any part of his priestly functions, nor move
from where he shall choose to reside my above five miles, without
permission. Ordered, same date, on the petition of William Shiel,
priest, that the said William Shiel being old, lame, and weak, and
not able to travel without crutches, he be permitted to reside in
Connaught where the Governor of Athlone shall see fitting, provided,
however, he do not remove one mile beyond the appointed place without
licence, nor use his priestly function.'

At first the place of transportation was Spain. Thus:--'_February_
1, 1653. Ordered that the Governor of Dublin take effectual course
whereby the priests now in the several prisons of Dublin be forthwith
shipped with the party going for Spain; and that they be delivered
to the officers on shipboard for that purpose: care to be taken that,
under the colour of exportation, they be not permitted to go into the

'_May_ 29, 1654.--Upon reading the petition of the Popish priests
now in the jails of Dublin; ordered, that the Governor of Dublin take
security of such persons as shall undertake the transportation of
them, that they shall with the first opportunity be shipped for some
parts in amity with the Commonwealth, provided the five pounds for
each of the said priests due to the persons that took them, pursuant
to the tenor of a declaration dated January 6, 1653, be first paid or

The commissioners give reasons for this policy, which are identical
with what we hear constantly repeated at the present day in Ireland
and England and in most of the newspapers conducted by Protestants.
For two centuries the burden of all comments on Irish affairs is 'the
country would be happy but for priests and agitators.' 'Hang or banish
the priests!' cry some very amiable and respectable persons, 'and then
we shall have peace.' 'We can make nothing of those priests,' says the
improving landlord, or agent, 'they will not look us straight in the

On December 8, 1655, in a letter from the commissioners to the
Governor of Barbadoes, advising him of the approach of a ship with a
cargo of proprietors deprived of their lands, and then seized for not
transplanting, or banished for having no visible means of support,
they add that amongst them were three priests; and the commissioners
particularly desire they may be so employed as they may not return
again where that sort of people are able to do much mischief, having
so great an influence over the Popish Irish, and alienating their
affections from the present Government. 'Yet these penalties did not
daunt them, or prevent their recourse to Ireland. In consequence of
the great increase of priests towards the close of the year 1655, a
general arrest by the justices of the peace was ordered, under which,
in April, 1656, the prisons in every part of Ireland seem to have
been filled to overflowing. On May 3, the governors of the respective
precincts were ordered to send them with sufficient guards from
garrison to garrison to Carrickfergus, to be there put on board such
ship as should sail with the first opportunity for the Barbadoes. One
may imagine the pains of this toilsome journey by the petition of one
of them. Paul Cashin, an aged priest, apprehended at Maryborough,
and sent to Philipstown on the way to Carrickfergus, there fell
desperately sick, and, being also extremely aged, was in danger of
perishing in restraint for want of friends and means of relief. On
August 27, 1656, the commissioners, having ascertained the truth of
his petition, ordered him sixpence a day during his sickness; and
(in answer probably to this poor prisoner's prayer to be spared from
transportation) their order directed that it should be continued to
him in his travel thence (after his recovery) to Carrickfergus, in
order to his transportation to the Barbadoes.'

At Carrickfergus the horrors of approaching exile seem to have shaken
the firmness of some of them; for on September 23, 1656, Colonel
Cooper, who had the charge of the prison, reporting that several would
under their hands renounce the Pope's supremacy, and frequent the
Protestant meetings and no other, he was directed to dispense with the
transportation, if they could give good Protestant security for the
sincerity of their professions.

As for the third beast--the tory, the following extract gives an idea
of the class to which he belonged, or, rather, from which he sprang.

'And whereas the children, grandchildren, brothers, nephews, uncles,
and next pretended heirs of the persons attainted, do remain in
the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and Munster, having little or no
visible estates or subsistence, but living only and coshering upon
the common sort of people who were tenants to or followers of the
respective ancestors of such persons, waiting an opportunity, as
may justly be supposed, to massacre and destroy the English who, as
adventurers or souldiers, or their tenants, are set down to plant upon
the several lands and estates of the persons so attainted,' they
are to transplant or be transported to the English plantations in

[Footnote 1: Act for Attainder of the Rebels in Ireland, passed 1656.
Scobell's 'Acts and Ordinances.']

No wonder that Mr. Prendergast exclaims:--

'But how must the feelings of national hatred have been heightened,
by seeing every where crowds of such unfortunates, their brothers,
cousins, kinsmen, and by beholding the whole country given up a prey
to hungry insolent soldiers and adventurers from England, mocking
their wrongs, and triumphing in their own irresistible power!'

Every possible mode of repression that has been devised at the
present time as a remedy for Ribbonism was then tried with unflinching
determination. John Symonds, an English settler, was murdered near
the garrison town of Timolin, in the county Kildare. All the Irish
inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood were immediately transported
to Connaught as a punishment for the crime. A few months after two
more settlers were murdered at Lackagh.

'All the Irish in the townland of Lackagh were seized; four of them
by sentence of court-martial were hanged for the murder, or for not
preventing it; and all the rest, thirty-seven in number, including two
priests, were on November 27 delivered to the captain of the "Wexford"
frigate, to take to Waterford, there to be handed over to Mr. Norton,
a Bristol merchant, to be sold as bond slaves to the sugar-planters in
the Barbadoes. Among these were Mrs. Margery Fitzgerald, of the age
of fourscore years, and her husband, Mr. Henry Fitzgerald of Lackagh;
although (as it afterwards appeared) the tories had by their frequent
robberies much infested that gentleman and his tenants--discovery that
seems to have been made only after the king's restoration.'

The penalties against the tories themselves were to allow them no
quarter when caught, and to set a price upon their heads. The ordinary
price for the head of a tory was 40 s.; for leaders of tories, or
distinguished men, it varied from 5 l. to 30 l.

'But,' continues Mr. Prendergast, 'a more effective way of suppressing
tories seems to have been to induce them, as already mentioned,
to betray or murder one another--a measure continued after the
Restoration, during the absence of parliaments, by acts and orders
of state, and re-enacted by the first parliament summoned after
the Revolution, when in that and the following reigns almost every
provision of the rule of the parliament of England in Ireland was
re-enacted by the parliaments of Ireland, composed of the soldiers and
adventurers of Cromwell's day, or new English and Scotch capitalists.
In 1695 any tory killing two other tories proclaimed and on their
keeping was entitled to pardon--a measure which put such distrust and
alarm among their bands on finding one of their number so killed,
that it became difficult to kill a second. Therefore, in 1718, it was
declared sufficient qualification for pardon for a tory to kill one
of his fellow-tories. This law was continued in 1755 for twenty-one
years, and only expired in 1776. Tory-hunting and tory-murdering thus
became common pursuits. No wonder, therefore, after so lengthened an
existence, to find traces of the tories in our household words. Few,
however, are now aware that the well-known Irish nursery rhymes have
so truly historical a foundation:--

  'Ho! brother Teig, what is your story?'
  'I went to the wood and shot a tory:'
  'I went to the wood, and shot another;'
  'Was it the same, or was it his brother?'

  'I hunted him in, and I hunted him out,
  Three times through the bog, and about and about;
  Till out of a bush I spied his head,
  So I levelled my gun and shot him dead.'

After the war of 1688, the tories received fresh accessions, and, a
great part of the kingdom being left waste and desolate, they betook
themselves to these wilds, and greatly discouraged the replanting of
the kingdom by their frequent murders of the new Scotch and English
planters; the Irish 'choosing rather' (so runs the language of
the act) 'to suffer strangers to be robbed and despoiled, than to
apprehend or convict the offenders.' In order, therefore, for the
better encouragement of strangers to plant and inhabit the kingdom,
any persons presented as tories, by the gentlemen of a county, and
proclaimed as such by the lord lieutenant, might be shot as outlaws
and traitors; and any persons harbouring them were to be guilty of
high treason.[1] Rewards were offered for the taking or killing of
them; and the inhabitants of the barony, of the ancient native race,
were to make satisfaction for all robberies and spoils. If persons
were maimed or dismembered by tories, they were to be compensated by
10 l.; and the families of persons murdered were to receive 30 l.'

[Footnote 1: The Cromwellian Settlement, p.163, &c.]

The Restoration at length brought relief and enlargement to the
imprisoned Irish nation. They rushed across the Shannon to see their
old homes; they returned to the desolated cities, full of hope
that the king for whom they had suffered so much would reward
their loyalty, by giving them back their inheritances--the 'just
satisfaction' promised at Breda to those who had been unfairly
deprived of their estates. The Ulster Presbyterians also counted on
his gratitude for their devotion to his cause, notwithstanding the
wrongs inflicted on them by Strafford and the bishops in the name of
his father. But they were equally doomed to disappointment. Coote
and Broghill reigned in Dublin Castle as lords justices. The first
parliament assembled in Dublin for twenty years, contained an
overwhelming majority of undertakers, adventurers, and Puritan
representatives of boroughs, from which all the Catholic electors
had been excluded. 'The Protestant interest,' a phrase of tremendous
potency in the subsequent history of Ireland, counted 198 members
against 64 Catholics in the Commons, and in the Lords 72 against 21
peers. A court was established under an act of parliament in Dublin,
to try the claims of 'nocent' and 'innocent' proprietors. The judges,
who were Englishmen, declared in their first session that 168 were
innocent to 19 nocent. The Protestant interest was alarmed; and,
through the influence of Ormond, then lord lieutenant, the duration of
the court was limited, and when it was compelled to close its labours,
only 800 out of 3,000 cases had been decided. If the proportions
of nocent and innocent were the same, an immense number of innocent
persons were deprived of their property. In 1675, fifteen years after
the Restoration, the English settlers were in possession of 4,500,000
acres, while the old owners retained 2,250,000 acres. By an act passed
in 1665, it was declared that no Papist, who had not already been
adjudged innocent, should ever be entitled to claim any lands or

Any movement on the part of the Roman Catholics during this reign,
and indeed, ever since, always raised an alarm of the 'Protestant
interest' in danger. While the panic lasted the Catholics were
subjected to cruel restrictions and privations. Thus Ormond, by
proclamation, prohibited Catholics from entering the castle of Dublin,
or any other fortress; from holding fairs or markets within the walls
of fortified towns, and from carrying arms to such places. By another
proclamation, he ordered all the _relatives_ of known 'tories' to be
arrested and banished the kingdom, within fourteen days, unless such
tories were killed or surrendered within that time. There was one tory
for whose arrest all ordinary means failed. This was the celebrated
Redmond O'Hanlon, still one of the most popular heroes with the Irish
peasantry. He was known on the continent as Count O'Hanlon, and was
the brother of the owner of Tandragee, now the pretty Irish seat of
the Duke of Manchester. As no one would betray this outlaw, who levied
heavy contributions from the settlers in Ulster, it was alleged
and believed that the viceroy hired a relative to shoot him. 'Count
O'Hanlon,' says Mr. D. Magee, 'a gentleman of ancient lineage, as
accomplished as Orrery, or Ossory, was indeed an outlaw to the code
then in force; but the stain of his cowardly assassination must for
ever blot the princely escutcheon of James, Duke of Ormond.'[1]

[Footnote 1: See 'The Tory War of Ulster,' by John P. Prendergast,
author of 'The Cromwellian Settlement.' This pamphlet abounds in the
most curious information, collected from judicial records, descriptive
of Ireland from the Restoration to the Revolution--A.D. 1660-1690.]



The accession of James II. was well calculated to have an intoxicating
effect on the Irish race. He was a Catholic, he undertook to effect
a counter-reformation. He would restore the national hierarchy to the
position from which it had been dragged down and trampled under the
feet of the Cromwellians. He would give back to the Irish gentry and
nobility their estates; and to effect this glorious revolution, he
relied upon the faith and valour of the Irish. The Protestant militia
were disarmed, a Catholic army was formed; the corporations were
thrown open to Catholics. Dublin and other corporations, which refused
to surrender their exclusive charters, were summarily deprived of
their privileges; Catholic mayors and sheriffs, escorted by troops,
went in state to their places of worship. The Protestant chancellor
was dismissed to make way for a Catholic, Baron Rice. The plate
of Trinity College was seized as public property. The Protestants,
thoroughly alarmed by these arbitrary proceedings, fled to England in
thousands. Many went to Holland and joined the army of the Prince of
Orange. Dreadful stories were circulated of an intended invasion of
England by wild Irish regiments under Tyrconnel. There was a rumour of
another massacre of the English, and of the proposed repeal of the
act of settlement. Protestants who could not cross the channel fled to
Enniskillen and to Derry, which closed its gates and prepared for its
memorable siege. James, who had fled to France, plucked up courage
to go to Ireland, and make a stand there in defence of his crown.
His progress from Kinsale to Dublin was an ovation. Fifteen royal
chaplains scattered blessings around him; Gaelic songs and dances
amused him; he was flattered in Latin orations, and conducted to his
capital under triumphal arches. In Dublin the trades turned out with
new banners; two harpers played at the gate by which he entered; the
clergy in their robes chanted as they went: and forty young girls,
dressed in white, danced the ancient _rinka_, scattering flowers on
the newly sanded streets. Tyrconnell, now a duke, the judges, the
mayor and the corporation, completed the procession, which moved
beneath arches of evergreens, and windows hung with 'tapestry and
cloth of arras.' The recorder delivered to his majesty the keys of the
city, and the Catholic primate, Dominick Maguire, waited in his robes
to conduct him to the royal chapel, where the _Te Deum_ was sung. On
that day the green flag floated from the main tower of the castle,
bearing the motto, 'Now or never--now and for ever.'

The followers of James, according to Grattan, 'though papists, were
not slaves. They wrung a constitution from King James before they
accompanied him to the field.' A constitution wrung from such a man
was not worth much. His parliament passed an act for establishing
liberty of conscience, and ordering every man to pay tithes to his own
clergy only, with some other measures of relief. But he began to
play the despot very soon. The Commons voted him the large subsidy of
20,000 l. He doubled the amount by his own mere motion. He established
a bank, and by his own authority decreed a bank monopoly. He debased
the coinage, and fixed the prices of merchandise by his own will.
He appointed a provost and librarian in Trinity College without the
consent of the senate, and attempted to force fellows and scholars on
the university contrary to the statutes. The events which followed
are well known to all readers of English history. Our concern is with
their effects on the land question.

One of the measures passed by this parliament was an act repealing the
act of settlement. But, soon after the Revolution, measures were taken
to render that settlement firmer than ever. A commission was appointed
to enquire into the forfeited estates; and the consequence was that
1,060,792 acres were declared escheated to the crown. In 1695 King
William, in his speech, read to the Irish parliament, assured
them that he was intent upon the firm settlement of Ireland upon a
Protestant basis. He kept his word, for when he died there did not
remain in the hands of Catholics one-sixth of the land which their
grandfathers held, even after the passing of the act of settlement.
The acts passed for securing the Protestant interest formed the series
known as the penal code, which was in force for the whole of the
eighteenth century. It answered its purpose effectually; it reduced
the nation to a state of poverty, degradation, and slavishness of
spirit unparalleled in the history of Christendom, while it made the
small dominant class a prodigy of political and religious tyranny.
Never was an aristocracy, as a body, more hardened in selfishness,
more insolent in spirit; never was a church more negligent of duty,
more intensely and ostentatiously secular. Both church and state
reeked with corruption.

The plan adopted for degrading the Catholics, and reducing all to one
plebeian level, was most ingenious. The ingenuity indeed may be said
to be Satanic, for it debased its victims morally as well as socially
and physically. It worked by means of treachery, covetousness,
perfidy, and the perversion of all natural affections. The trail of
the serpent was over the whole system. For example, when the last Duke
of Ormond arrived as lord lieutenant in 1703, the Commons waited on
him with a bill 'for discouraging the further growth of Popery,' which
became law, having met his decided approval. This act provided that
if the son of a Catholic became a Protestant, the father should be
incapable of selling or mortgaging his estate, or disposing of any
portion of it by will. If a child ever so young professed to be a
Protestant, it was to be taken from its parents, and placed under the
guardianship of the nearest Protestant relation.

The sixth clause renders Papists incapable of purchasing any manors,
tenements, hereditaments, or any rents or profits arising out of the
same, or of holding any lease of lives, or other lease whatever, for
any term exceeding thirty-one years. And with respect even to such
limited leases, it further enacts, that if a Papist should hold a farm
producing a profit greater than _one-third of the amount of the rent_,
his right to such should immediately cease, and pass over entirely
to the first Protestant who should discover the rate of profit. The
seventh clause prohibits Papists from succeeding to the properties or
estates of their Protestant relations. By the tenth clause, the estate
of a Papist, not having a Protestant heir, is ordered to be gavelled,
or divided in equal shares between _all_ his children. The sixteenth
and twenty-fourth clauses impose the oath of abjuration, and the
sacramental test, as a qualification for office, and for voting at
elections. The twenty-third clause deprives the Catholics of Limerick
and Galway of the protection secured to them by the articles of the
treaty of Limerick. The twenty-fifth clause vests in the crown all
advowsons possessed by Papists.

A further act was passed, in 1709, imposing additional penalties. The
first clause declares that no Papist shall be capable of holding an
annuity for life. The third provides, that the child of a Papist, on
conforming, shall at once receive an annuity from his father; and that
the chancellor shall compel the father to discover, upon oath, the
full value of his estate, real and personal, and thereupon make an
order for the support of such conforming child or children, and for
securing such a share of the property, after the father's death, as
the court shall think fit. The fourteenth and fifteenth clauses secure
jointures to Popish wives who shall conform. The sixteenth prohibits
a Papist from teaching, even as assistant to a Protestant master. The
eighteenth gives a salary of 30 l. per annum to Popish priests who
shall conform. The twentieth provides rewards for the discovery of
Popish prelates, priests, and teachers, according to the
following whimsical scale:--For discovering an archbishop, bishop,
vicar-general, or other person, exercising any foreign ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, 50 l.; for discovering each regular clergyman, and each
secular clergyman, not registered, 20 l.; and for discovering each
Popish schoolmaster or usher, 10 l.

In judging the Irish peasantry, we should try to estimate the effects
of such a system on any people for more than a century. It will
account for the farmer's habit of concealing his prosperity, and
keeping up the appearance of poverty, even if he had not reason for it
in the felonious spirit of appropriation still subsisting under legal
sanction. We are too apt to place to the account of race or religion
the results of malignant or blundering legislation. We are not without
examples of such results in England itself.

In the winter of 1831-2, a very startling state of things was
presented. In a period of great general prosperity, that portion of
England in which the poor laws had their most extensive operation, and
in which by much the largest expenditure of poor-rates had been made,
was the scene of daily riot and nightly incendiarism. There were
ninety-three parishes in four counties, of which the population was
113,147, and the poor-law expenditure 81,978 l., or 14 s. 5 d. per
head; and there were eighty parishes in three other counties, the
population of which was 105,728, and the poor-law expenditure 30,820
l., or 5 s. 9 d. a head. In the counties in which the poor-law
expenditure was large, the industry and skill of the labourers were
passing away, the connection between the master and servant had become
precarious, the unmarried were defrauded of their fair earnings,
and riots and incendiarism prevailed. In the counties where the
expenditure was comparatively small, there was scarcely any instance
of disorder; mutual attachment existed between the workman and his
employer; the intelligence, skill, and good conduct of the labourers
were unimpaired, or increased. This striking social contrast was only
a specimen of what prevailed throughout large districts, and generally
throughout the south and north of England, and it proved that, either
through the inherent vice of the system, or gross mal-administration
in the southern counties, the poor-law had the most demoralising
effect upon the working classes, while it was rapidly eating up the
capital upon which the employment of labour depended. This fact was
placed beyond question by a commission of enquiry, which was composed
of individuals distinguished by their interest in the subject, and
their intimate knowledge of its principles and details. Its labours
were continued incessantly for two years. Witnesses most competent to
give information were summoned from different parts of the country.
The commissioners had before them documentary evidence of every kind
calculated to throw light on the subject. They personally visited
localities, and examined the actual operation of the system on the
spot; and when they could not go themselves, they called to their aid
assistant commissioners, some of whom extended their enquiries into
Scotland, Guernsey, France, and Flanders; while they also collected a
vast mass of interesting evidence from our ambassadors and diplomatic
agents in different countries of Europe and America. It was upon the
report of this commission of enquiry that the act was founded for the
amendment and better administration of the laws relating to the poor
in England and Wales (4 and 5 William IV., cap. 76). A more solid
foundation for a legislative enactment could scarcely be found. The
importance of the subject fully warranted all the expense and labour
by which it was obtained.

One of the most astounding facts established by the enquiry was the
wide-spread demoralisation which had developed itself in certain
districts. Home had lost its sanctity. The ties that bind parents and
children were loosened, and natural affection gave place to intense
selfishness, which often manifested itself in the most brutal manner.
Workmen grew lazy and dishonest. Young women lost the virtue which is
not only the point of honour with their sex, but the chief support of
all other virtues. Not only women of the working classes, but in some
cases even substantial farmers' daughters, and sometimes those who
were themselves the actual owners of property, had their illegitimate
children as charges on the parish, regularly deducting the cost
of their maintenance from their poor-rate, neither they nor their
relatives feeling that to do so was any disgrace. The system must
have been fearfully vicious that produced such depravation of moral
feeling, and such a shocking want of self-respect.

Dr. Burn has given a graphic sketch of the duties of an overseer
under the old poor-law system in England. 'His office is to keep an
extraordinary watch to prevent people from coming to inhabit without
certificates; to fly to the justices to remove them. Not to let anyone
have a farm of 10 l. a year. To warn the parishioners, if they would
have servants, to hire them by the month, the week, or the day, rather
than by any way that can give them a settlement; or if they do hire
them for a year, then to endeavour to pick a quarrel with them before
the year's end, and so to get rid of them. To maintain their poor as
cheaply as they possibly can, and not to lay out twopence in prospect
of any future good, but only to serve the present necessity. To
bargain with some sturdy person to take them by the lump, who yet is
not intended to take them, but to hang over them _in terrorem_, if
they shall complain to the justices for want of maintenance. To
send them out into the country a begging. To bind out poor children
apprentices, no matter to whom, or to what trade; but to take special
care that the master live in another parish. To move heaven and earth
if any dispute happen about a settlement; and, in that particular,
to invert the general rule, and stick at no expense. To pull down
cottages: _to drive out as many inhabitants, and admit as few, as they
possibly can; that is, to depopulate the parish, in order to lessen
the poor's-rate_. To be generous, indeed, sometimes, in giving a
portion with the mother of a bastard child to the reputed father,
on condition that he will marry her, or with a poor widow, _always
provided that the husband_ be settled elsewhere; or if a poor man with
a large family happen to be industrious, they will charitably assist
him in taking a farm in some neighbouring parish, and give him 10 l.
to pay his first year's rent with, that they may thus for ever get rid
of him and his progeny.'

The effect of this system was actually to depopulate many parishes.
The author of a pamphlet on the subject, Mr. Alcock, stated that the
gentlemen were led by this system to adopt all sorts of expedients
to hinder the poor from marrying, to discharge servants in their
last quarter, to evict small tenants, and pull down cottages; so
that several parishes were in a manner depopulated, while England
complained of a want of useful hands for agriculture, manufactories,
for the land and sea service. 'When the minister marries a couple,' he
said, 'he rightly prays that they may be fruitful in the procreation
of children; but most of the parishioners pray for the very contrary,
and perhaps complain of him for marrying persons, that, should they
have a family of children, might likewise become chargeable.' Arthur
Young also described the operation of the law in his time, in
clearing off the people, and causing universally 'an open war against
cottages.' Gentlemen bought them up whenever they had an opportunity,
and immediately levelled them with the ground, lest they should become
'nests of beggars' brats.' The removal of a cottage often drove the
industrious labourer from a parish where he could earn 15 s. a week,
to one where he could earn but 10 s. As many as thirty or forty
families were sent off by removals in one day. Thus, as among the
Scotch labourers of the present day, marriage was discouraged; the
peasantry were cleared off the land, and increasing immorality was the
necessary consequence.

There was another change in the old system, by which the interests of
the influential classes were made to run in favour of the 'beggars'
nests,' which were soon at a premium. The labourer was to be paid,
not for the value of his labour, but according to the number of his
family; the prices of provisions being fixed by authority, and the
guardians making up the difference between what the wages would buy
and what the family required.

The allowance scales issued from time to time were framed on the
principle that every labourer should have a gallon loaf of standard
wheaten bread weekly for every member of his family, and one over. The
effect of this was, that a man with six children, who got 9 s. a week
wages, required nine gallon loaves, or 13 s. 6 d. a week, so that he
had a pension of 4 s. 6 d. over his wages. Another man, with a wife
and five children, so idle and disorderly that no one would employ
him, was entitled to eight gallon loaves for their maintenance, so
that he had 12 s. a week to support him. The increase of allowance
according to the number of children acted as a direct bounty upon
marriage. The report of the Committee of the House of Commons on
labourers' wages, printed in 1824, describes the effect of this
allowance system in paralysing the industry of the poor. 'It is
obvious,' remarked the committee, 'that a disinclination to work must
be the consequence of so vicious a system. He whose subsistence
is secure without work, and who cannot obtain more than a mere
sufficiency by the hardest work, will naturally be an idle and
careless labourer. Frequently the work done by four or five such
labourers does not amount to what might easily be performed by a
single labourer at task work. A surplus population is encouraged: men
who receive but a small pittance know that they have only to marry and
that pittance will be increased proportionally to the number of their
children. When complaining of their allowance, they frequently say,
"We will marry, and then you must maintain us." This system secures
subsistence to all; to the idle as well as the industrious; to the
profligate as well as the sober; and, as far as human interests are
concerned, all inducements to obtain a good character are taken away.
The effects have corresponded with the cause: able-bodied men
are found slovenly at their work, and dissolute in their hours of
relaxation; a father is negligent of his children, the children do not
think it necessary to contribute to the support of their parents;
the employer and employed are engaged in personal quarrels; and the
pauper, always relieved, is always discontented. Crime advances with
increasing boldness; and the parts of the country where this system
prevails are, in spite of our gaols and our laws, filled with poachers
and thieves.' Mr. Hodges, chairman of the West Kent quarter sessions,
in his evidence before the emigration committee, said, 'Formerly,
working people usually stayed in service till they were twenty-five,
thirty, and thirty-five years of age, before they married; whereas
they now married frequently under age. Formerly, these persons
had saved 40 l. and 50 l. before they married, and they were never
burdensome to the parish; now, they have not saved a shilling before
their marriage, and become immediately burdensome.'

The farmers were not so discontented with this allowance system as
might be supposed, because a great part of the burden was cast upon
other shoulders. The tax was laid indiscrimately upon all fixed
property; so that the occupiers of villas, shopkeepers, merchants, and
others who did not employ labourers, had to pay a portion of the wages
for those that did. The farmers were in this way led to encourage a
system which fraudently imposed a heavy burden upon others, and which,
by degrading the labourers, and multiplying their numbers beyond the
real demand for them, must, if allowed to run its full course, have
ultimately overspread the whole country with the most abject poverty
and wretchedness.

There was another interest created which tended to increase the evil.
In the counties of Suffolk, Sussex, Kent, and generally through
all the south of England, relief was given in the shape of house
accommodation, or free dwellings for the poor. The parish officers
were in the habit of paying the rent of the cottages; the rent was
therefore high and sure, and consequently persons who had small pieces
of ground were induced to cover them with those buildings. On this
subject Mr. Hodges, the gentleman already referred to, remarks: 'I
cannot forbear urging again that any measure having for its object the
relief of the parishes from their over population, must of necessity
become perfectly useless, unless the act of parliament contains some
regulations with respect to the erecting and maintaining of cottages.
I am quite satisfied that the erecting of cottages has been a most
serious evil throughout the country. The getting of the cottage tempts
young people of seventeen and eighteen years of age, and even younger,
to marry. It is notorious that almost numberless cottages have been
built by persons speculating on the parish rates for their rents.'

The evils of this system had reached their height in the years 1831-2.
That was a time when the public mind was bent upon reforms of all
sorts, without waiting for the admission from the Tories that the
grievances of which the nation complained were 'proved abuses.' The
reformers were determined no longer to tolerate the state of things,
in which the discontent of the labouring classes was proportioned to
the money disbursed in poor-rates, or in voluntary charities; in
which the young were trained in idleness, ignorance, and vice--the
able-bodied maintained in sluggish and sensual indolence--the aged
and more respectable exposed to all the misery incident to dwelling
in such society as that of a large workhouse without discipline or
classification--the whole body of inmates subsisting on food far
exceeding both in kind and amount, not merely the diet of the
independent labourer, but that of the majority of the persons who
contributed to their support. The farmer paid 10 s. in the pound in
poor-rates, and was in addition compelled to employ supernumerary
labourers not required on his farm, at a cost of from 100 l. to 250 l.
a year; the labourer had no need to hasten himself to seek work, or to
please his master, or to put a restraint upon his temper, having all
the slave's security for support, without the slave's liability to
punishment. The parish paid parents for nursing their little children,
and children for supporting their aged parents, thereby destroying
in both parties all feelings of natural affection and all sense of
Christian duty.

I hope I shall be excused in giving, from a former work of my own,
these home illustrations to prove that bad laws can degrade and
demoralize a people in a comparatively short time, in spite of race
and creed and public opinion; and that, where class interests are
involved, the most sacred rights of humanity are trampled in the mire
of corruption. Even now the pauperism resulting of necessity from the
large-farm system is degrading the English people, and threatening to
rot away the foundations of society. On this subject I am glad to find
a complete corroboration of my own conclusions in a work by one of the
ablest and most enlightened Christian ministers in England, the Rev.
Dr. Rigg. He says:--

'Notwithstanding a basis of manly, honest, and often generous
qualities, the common character of all the uneducated and unelevated
classes of the English labouring population includes, as marked
and obvious features, improvidence, distrust of their superiors,
discontent at their social position, and a predominant passion for
gross animal gratification. Of this general character we regard the
rude, heavy, unhopeful English peasant, who knows no indulgence
or relaxation but that of the ale-house, and lives equally without
content and without ambition, as affording the fundamental
type, which, like all other things English, possesses a marked
individuality. It differs decidedly from the Irish type of peasant
degradation. Something of this may be due to the effect of race. The
Kelt and the Saxon may be expected to differ. Yet we think but little
stress is to be laid upon this. There is, probably, much more Keltic
blood in the southern and western counties of England, and, also, more
Saxon blood in some of the southern and even western parts of
Ireland, than has been generally supposed. We apprehend that a Saxon
population, under the same conditions as the southern and western
Irish peasantry, would have grown up into very much the same sort of
people as the Irish have been; while a Keltic population, exposed to
the same influences, through successive generations, as the midland
and southern peasantry of England, would not have been essentially
different at the present day from the actual cultivators of the soil.

'The Irish peasant is poorer and yet more reckless than the
Englishman; but he is not so sullen or so spiritless. His body is not
so muscular or so strongly-set as that of the Anglo-Saxon husbandman,
on whose frame the hard and unintermitted toil of thirty generations
has stamped its unmistakable impress, and, correspondently, he is a
less persevering and less vigorous labourer; but, as a general rule,
his stature is taller and his step far more free and elastic than that
of the sturdy but slow and stunted labourer of our southern counties.
There are wild mountainous districts of the west, indeed, in which
the lowest type of the Irish peasantry is found, that must be taken
as exceptions to our general statement; and as many from those regions
cross the Channel to tramp through England in the complex character
of mendicant labourers, no doubt some have received from them an
impression as to the Irish peasantry very different from what our
observations are intended to convey. But no one can have travelled
through the south of Ireland without having noticed what we state. The
Tipperary and Kilkenny peasantry are proverbially tall; Connemara has
been famed for its "giants," and many of both sexes throughout the
south, are, spite of their rags, fine figures, and graceful in their
movements. While looking at them, we have ceased to wonder at what has
been regarded as no better than the arch-agitator's blarney, when he
spoke of the Irish as the "finest pisantry in the world;" and we have
even felt saddened as we mentally contrasted with what we saw before
us the bearing and appearance of our own southern labourers. For
the tattered Irish peasant, living in a mud hovel, is, after all, a
gentleman in his bearing; whereas there is generally either a cringing
servility or a sullen doggedness in the demeanour of the south
Saxon labourer. The Irishman is, besides, far more intelligent and
ready-witted than the Saxon husbandman. The fact is that the Irishman,
if underfed, has not been overworked. His life has not been one of
unceasing and oppressive labour. Nor has his condition been one
of perpetual servitude. With all his poverty, he has been, to a
considerable extent, his own master. Half-starved, or satisfying his
appetite on light and innutritious fare,--far worse housed and
clad than the poorest English labourer, often, indeed, almost
half-naked,--oppressed by middle-men, exactors of rack-rent; with
all this the Irish cottier has been, from father to son, and
from generation to generation, _a tenant, and not merely a day

[Footnote 1: 'Essays for the Times, on Ecclesiastical and Social
Subjects,' by James H. Rigg, D.D. London, 1866.]



Let us, then, endeavour to get rid of the pernicious delusions about
race and religion in dealing with this Irish land question. Identity
of race and substantial agreement in religion did not prevent the
Ulster landlords from uprooting their tenants when they fancied it was
their interest to banish them--to substitute grazing for tillage, and
cattle for a most industrious and orderly peasantry.

The letters of Primate Boulter contain much valuable information on
the state of Ulster in the last century, and furnish apt illustrations
of the land question, which, I fancy, will be new and startling to
many readers. Boulter was lord primate of Ireland from 1724 to 1738.
He was thirteen times one of the lords justices. As an Englishman and
a good churchman, he took care of the English interests and of the
establishment. The letters were written in confidence to Sir Robert
Walpole and other ministers of state, and were evidently not intended
for publication. An address 'to the reader' from some friend, states
truly that they give among other things an impartial account of 'the
distressed state of the kingdom for want of _tillage_, the vast sums
of money sent out of the nation for corn, flour, &c., the dismal
calamities thereon, the want of trade and the regulation of the
English and other coins, to the very great distress of all the
manufacturers,' &c. They show that he was a man of sound judgment,
public-spirited, and very moderate and impartial for the times in
which he lived. His evidence with regard to the relations of landlord
and tenant in Ulster is exceedingly valuable at the present moment.
Lord Dufferin could not have read the letters when he wrote his book;
otherwise I should think his apology for the landlords of the last
century would have been considerably modified.

Primate Boulter repeatedly complained to Walpole, the Duke of
Newcastle, and other ministers, that the Ulster farmers were deserting
the country in large numbers, emigrating to the United States, then
British colonies, to the West Indies, or to any country where they
hoped to get the means of living, in many cases binding themselves
to work for a number of years _as slaves_ in payment of their passage
out. The desire to quit the country of their birth is described by the
primate as a mania. Writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1728 he
says:--'We are under great trouble here about a frenzy that has taken
hold of very great numbers to leave this country for the West Indies,
and we are endeavouring to learn what may be the reasons of it, and
the proper remedies.' Two or three weeks later he reported to the Duke
of Newcastle that for several years past some agents from the colonies
in America, and several masters of ships, had gone about the country
'and deluded the people with stories of great plenty and estates to
be had for going for in those parts of the world.' During the previous
summer more than 3,000 men, women, and children had been shipped
for the West Indies. Of these, not more than one in ten were men of
substance. The rest hired themselves for their passage, or contracted
with masters of ships for four years' servitude, 'selling themselves
as servants for their subsistence.' The whole north was in a ferment,
people every day engaging one another to go next year to the West
Indies. 'The humour,' says the primate, 'has spread like a contagious
distemper, and the people will hardly hear anybody that tries to
cure them of their madness. The worst is that it affects only
_Protestants_, and reigns chiefly in the North, which is the seat of
our linen manufacture.'

As the Protestant people, the descendants of the English and Scotch
who had settled in the country in the full assurance that they were
building homes for their posterity, were thus deserting those homes in
such multitudes, their pastors sent a memorial to the lord lieutenant,
setting forth the grievances which they believed to be the cause of
the desertion. On this memorial the primate wrote comments to the
English Government, and, in doing so, he stated some astounding
facts as to the treatment of the people by their landlords. He was a
cautious man, thoroughly acquainted with the facts, and writing under
a sense of great responsibility. In order to understand some of those
facts, we should bear in mind that the landlords had laid down large
portions of their estates in pasture, to avoid the payment of tithes,
and that this burden was thrown entirely upon the tenants who tilled
the land. Now, let my readers mark what the primate states as to their
condition. He says:--'If a landlord takes too great a portion of the
profits of a farm for his share by way of rent (as the tithe will
light on the tenant's share), the tenant will be impoverished; but
then it is not the tithe, but the increased rent that undoes the
farmer. And, indeed, in this country, where I fear the tenant hardly
ever has more than one-third of the profits he makes of his farm for
his share, and too often but a _fourth_, or, perhaps, a _fifth part_,
as the tenant's share is charged with the tithe, his case is, no
doubt, hard, but it is plain from what side the hardship arises.' What
the gentlemen wanted to be at, according to the primate, was, that
they might go on raising their rents, and that the clergy should
receive their old payments. He admits, however, that the tenants were
sometimes cited to the ecclesiastical courts, and if they failed to
appear there, they stood excommunicated; and he adds, 'possibly when a
writ _de excommunicato capiendo_ is taken out, and they find they have
7 l. or 8 l. to pay, _they run away_, for the greatest part of the
occupiers of the land here are so poor, that an extraordinary stroke
of 8 l. or 10 l. falling on them is certain ruin to them.' He further
states that, to his own knowledge, many of the clergy had chosen
rather to lose their 'small dues' than to be at a certain great
expense in getting them, 'and at an uncertainty whether the farmer
would not at last _run away without paying anything_.'

Such was the condition of the Protestants of Ulster during the era of
the penal code; and it is a curious fact that it was the Presbyterians
and not the Catholics that were forced by the exactions of the
Protestant landlords and the clergy to run away from the country which
their forefathers had been brought over to civilize. But there was
another fact connected with the condition of Ulster which I dare say
will be almost incredible to many readers. The tenantry, so cruelly
rack-rented and impoverished, were reduced by two or three bad seasons
to a state bordering upon famine. There was little or no corn in the
province. The primate set on foot a subscription in Dublin, to which
he himself contributed very liberally. The object was to buy food to
supply the necessities of the north, and to put a stop to 'the great
desertion' they had been threatened with. He hoped that the landlords
would 'do _their_ part by remitting some arrears, or making some
abatement of their rents.' As many of the tenants had eaten the oats
they should have sowed their lands with, he expected the landlords
would have the good sense to furnish them with seed; if not, a great
deal of land would lie waste that year. And where were the provisions
got? Partly in Munster, where corn was very cheap and abundant. But
the people of Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Clonmel objected to have
their provisions sent away, although they were in some places 'as
cheap again as in the north; but where dearest, at least one-third
part cheaper.' Riotous mobs broke open the store-houses and cellars,
setting what price they pleased upon the provisions. And, what between
those riots and the prevalence of easterly winds, three weeks elapsed
before the 3,000 l. worth of oats, oatmeal, and potatoes could be got
down to relieve the famishing people of the north, which then seemed
black enough, even to its own inhabitants. Hence the humane primate
was obliged to write: 'The humour of going to America still continues,
and the scarcity of provisions certainly makes many quit us. There
are now seven ships at Belfast that are carrying off 1,000 passengers
thither, and if we knew how to stop them, as most of them can neither
get victuals nor work at home, it would be cruel to do it.'

The Presbyterian clergy suffered greatly from the impoverishment of
their people. Several of them who had been receiving a stipend of
50 l. a year, had their incomes reduced to less than 15 l. In their
distress they appealed to the primate, and, staunch churchman as he
was, they found in him a kind and earnest advocate. Writing to Sir
Robert Walpole, on March 31, 1729, he pleaded for the restoration of
400 l. a year, which had been given to the non-conforming clergy
of Ireland from the privy purse, in addition to the 1,200 l. royal
bounty, which, it appears, had been suspended for two years, owing
to the death of the late king. 'They are sensible,' said his grace,
'there is nothing due to them, nor do they make any such claim; but as
the calamities of this kingdom are at present very great, and by the
desertion of many of their people to America, and the poverty of the
greatest part of the rest, their contributions, particularly in the
north, are very much fallen off, it would be a great instance of his
majesty's goodness if he would consider their present distress.' In
our own days a Presbyterian minister would be considered to deserve
well of his country if he emigrated to America, and took with him as
many of the people as he could induce to forsake their native land.
But what was the great plea which Primate Boulter urged on the English
Minister on behalf of the Presbyterian clergy of his day? It was, that
they had exerted their influence to prevent emigration. 'It is,'
he said, 'but doing them justice to affirm that they are very
well affected to his majesty and his royal family, and by the best
enquiries I could make, do their best endeavours to keep their
congregations from deserting the country, not more than one or two
of the younger ministers having anyways encouraged the humour now
prevailing here. And his majesty's goodness in giving them some
extraordinary relief on this occasion of their present great distress
would undoubtedly make them _more active to retain their people here_.
I cannot help mentioning on this occasion that, what with scarceness
of corn in the north, _and the loss of all credit there_, and by
the numbers that go, or talk of going, to America, and with the
disturbances in the south, this kingdom is at present in a deplorable

In a statement previously made to the Bishop of London, the Irish
primate earnestly solicited his correspondent to use his influence
to prevent the Irish landlords from passing a law to strip the
established clergy of their rights with respect to the tithe of
agistment. They had entered into a general combination, and formed a
stock purse to resist the payment of tithe, except by the poor
tenants who tilled the soil, a remarkable contrast to the zeal of
the landlords of our own time in defending church property against
'spoliation' by the imperial legislature, and to the liberality with
which many of them are now contributing to the Sustentation Fund.
How shall we account for the change? Is it that the landlords of the
present day are more righteous than their grandfathers? Or is it that
the same principle of self-interest which led the proprietors of past
times to grind the tenantry and rob the Church, now operates in forms
more consistent with piety and humanity, and by its subtle influence
illustrates the maxim of the poet--

  Self-love and social is the same.

However that may be, the primate contented himself in this letter
with a defence of the Church, in which he admitted matters of real
grievance, merely alluding to other grievances, 'such as raising
the rents unreasonably, the oppression by justices of the peace,
seneschals, and other officers in the country.'

From the pictures of the times he presents we should not be surprised
at his statement to the Duke of Newcastle, that the people who went
to America made great complaints of the oppressions they suffered, and
said that those oppressions were one reason of their going. When he
went on his visitation, in 1726, he 'met all the roads full of whole
families that had left their homes to beg abroad,' having consumed
their stock of potatoes two months before the usual time. During the
previous year many hundreds had perished of famine. What was the cause
of this misery, this desolating process going on over the plains of
Ulster? The archbishop accounts for it by stating that many persons
had let large tracts of land, from 3,000 to 4,000 acres, which were
stocked with cattle, and had no other inhabitants on their land than
so many cottiers as were necessary to look after their sheep and black
cattle, '_so that, in some of the finest counties, in many places
there is neither house nor cornfield to be seen in ten or fifteen
miles' travelling_, and daily in some counties many gentlemen, as
their leases fall into their hands, tie up their tenants from tillage;
and this is one of the main causes why so many venture to go into
foreign service at the hazard of their lives if taken, because they
cannot get land to till at home.'

My readers should remember that the industrious, law-abiding,
bible-loving, God-fearing people, who were thus driven by oppression
from the fair fields of Ulster, which they had cultivated, and
the dwellings which they had erected, to make way for sheep and
cattle--because it was supposed by the landlords that sheep and cattle
paid better--were the descendants of British settlers who came to the
country under a royal guarantee _of freeholds and permanent tenures_.
Let them picture to their minds this fine race of honest, godly
people, rack-rented, crushed, evicted, heart-broken--men, women, and
children--Protestants, Saxons, cast out to perish as the refuse of the
earth, by a set of landed proprietors of their own race and creed; and
learn from this most instructive fact that, if any body of men has
the power of making laws to promote its own interest, no instincts of
humanity, no dictates of religion, no restraints of conscience can
be relied upon to keep them from acting with ruthless barbarity,
and doing more to ruin their country than a foreign invader could
accomplish by letting loose upon it his brutal soldiers. How much
more earnestly would Boulter have pleaded with the prime minister of
England on behalf of the wretched people of Ulster if he could have
foreseen that ere long those Presbyterian emigrants, with the sense
of injustice and cruel wrong burning in their hearts, would be found
fighting under the banner of American independence--the bravest and
fiercest soldiers of freedom which the British troops encountered in
the American war. History is continually repeating itself, yet how
vainly are its lessons taught! The same legal power of extermination
is still possessed by the Irish landlords after sixty-nine years of
imperial legislation. Our hardy, industrious people, naturally as well
disposed to royalty as any people in the world, are still crowding
emigrant ships in all our ports, deserting their country with the same
bitter feelings that animated the Ulster men a century ago, hating our
Government with a mortal hatred, and ready to fight against it under
a foreign flag! We have no Primate Boulter now in the Protestant
hierarchy to plead the cause of an unprotected tenantry; but we have
the press, which can concentrate upon the subject the irresistible
force of public opinion.

As a churchman, Primate Boulter naturally regarded the land question
in its bearings on the interests of the Establishment. Writing to Sir
Robert Walpole in 1737 he said that he had in vain represented to the
landlords that, by destroying the tithe of agistment, they naturally
discouraged tillage, lessened the number of people, and raised the
price of provisions. By running into cattle they caused the young men
to enlist in foreign service for bread, there being no employment for
them at home, 'where two or three hands can look after some hundreds
of acres stocked with cattle.' And by this means, said the primate, 'a
great part of our churches are neglected; in many places five, six, or
seven parishes bestowed on one incumbent, who, perhaps, with all
his tithes, scarce gets 100 l. a year.' But there was at that time a
member of the Irish House of Commons who was capable of taking a more
enlarged view of the Irish question. This was Mr. Arthur Dobbs, who
belonged to an old and honourable Ulster family--the author of a book
on the 'North-west Passage to India,' and of a very valuable work on
the 'Trade of Great Britain and Ireland.' He was intimately acquainted
with the working of the Irish land system, for he had been many years
agent of the Hertfort estate, one of the largest in Ireland. There
is among Boulter's letters an introduction of Mr. Dobbs to Sir Robert
Walpole, recommending him as a person of good sense, who had applied
himself to the improvement of trade, and to the making of our colonies
in America of more advantage than they had hitherto been. He was
afterwards made Governor of North Carolina. I have mentioned these
facts in the hope of securing the attention of landlords and statesmen
to the following passage from his book accounting for the deplorable
condition of the province of Ulster at that time, and the emigration
of its industrious and wealth-producing inhabitants. In my humble
opinion it furnishes irresistible arguments in favour of a measure
which should settle the Irish land question in such a manner that it
would speak to the people of Ireland in the words of holy writ:
'And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant
vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another
inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.' Mr. Dobbs says:--

'How can a tenant improve his land when he is convinced that, after
all his care and toil, his improvements will be overrated, and he
will be obliged to shift for himself? Let us place ourselves in his
situation and see if we should think it reasonable to improve for
another, if those improvements would be the very cause of our being
removed from the enjoyment of them. I believe we should not. Industry
and improvements go very heavily on when we think we are not to have
the property in either. What can be expected, then, from covenants to
improve and plant, when the person to do it knows he is to have _no
property in them_? There will be no concern or care taken to preserve
them, and they will run to ruin as fast as made or planted. What was
it induced so many of the commonalty lately to go to America but high
rents, bad seasons, and want of good tenures, or a permanent property
in their land? This kept them poor and low, and they scarce had
sufficient credit to procure necessaries to subsist or till their
ground. They never had anything to store, all was from hand to mouth;
so one or two bad crops broke them. Others found their stock dwindling
and decaying visibly, and so removed before all was gone, while they
had as much left as would pay their passage, and had little more than
what would carry them to the American shore.

'This, it may be allowed, was the occasion of the poor farmers going
who had their rents lately raised. But it may be objected that was not
the reason why rich farmers went, and those who had several years in
beneficial leases still unexpired, who sold their bargains and removed
with their effects. But it is plain they all went for the same reason;
for these last, from _daily examples before them_, saw the present
occupiers dispossessed of their lands at the expiration of their
leases, and no preference given to them; so they expected it would
soon be their own case, to avoid which, and make the most of the years
still unexpired, they sold, and carried their assets with them to
procure a settlement in a country where they had reason to expect a
permanent property.'

It is a curious fact that sentiments very similar were published by
one of Cromwell's officers about a century before. The plea which
he put forth for the Irish tenant in the dedication of his work on
Ireland to the Protector, has been repeated ever since by the tenants,
but repeated in vain: Captain Bligh, the officer alluded to, said:
'The first prejudice is, that if a tenant be at ever so great pains or
cost for the improvement of his land, he doth thereby but occasion a
greater rack-rent upon himself, or else invests his landlord with his
cost and labour _gratis_, or at least lies at his landlord's mercy for
requital; which occasions a neglect of all good husbandry, to his own,
the land, the landlord, and the commonwealth's suffering.' Now, this,
I humbly conceive, might be removed, if there were a law enacted, by
which every landlord should be obliged either to give him reasonable
allowance for his clear improvement, or else suffer him _or his_
to enjoy it so much longer or till he hath had a proportionable

But although Primate Boulter protested against the conduct of the
landlords--all Episcopalians--who were ruining the church as well as
the country, the established clergy, as a body, were always on the
side of the oppressors.

The Test Act placed the Presbyterians, like the Papists, in the
position of an inferior race. 'In the city of Londonderry alone, which
Presbyterian valour had defended, ten out of twelve aldermen,
and twenty out of twenty-four burgesses, were thrust out of the
corporation by that act, which placed an odious mark of infamy upon
at least one-half the inhabitants of the kingdom.' Presbyterians could
not legally keep a common school. The _Edinburgh Review_ says: 'All
the settlements, from first to last, had the effect of making the
cause of the church and the cause of the landlords really one. During
the worst days of landlord oppression it never identified itself with
the interests of the people, but uniformly sustained the power and
privileges of the landlords.'

It was vain to expect justice from the Irish parliament. The people
of Ireland never were governed exclusively, or at all, by her own
Sovereign, her own Lords, and her own Commons. Ireland was 'in the
custody of England,' just as much before the Union as during the last
sixty-seven years. Even during the few brief years of her spasmodic
'independence,' the mass of the nation formed no part of the 'Commons
of Ireland.' It was still, as it always had been, a sham parliament--a
body representing the colonial aristocracy--acting as undertakers for
the Government of England, for whose interest exclusively this island
was to be ruled. Provided this result was secured, it did not matter
much, at the other side of the Channel, how the Irish people were
treated. Indeed, they were not recognised as the people of Ireland,
or any part thereof. Even philosophic liberals, like Lord Charlemont,
were shocked at the idea of a Papist getting into the Irish House
of Commons; and the volunteer system was shattered by this insane
animosity of the ruling race against the subject nation. The antipathy
was as strong as the antipathy between the whites and the negroes in
the West Indies and the United States. Hence the remorseless spirit in
which atrocities were perpetrated in 1798. Mr. Daunt has shown that a
large proportion of the Irish House of Lords consisted of men who were
English to all intents and purposes--many of them by birth, and many
by residence, and, no doubt, they always came over with reluctance to
what Lord Chancellor Clare called 'our damnable country.' It may be
that in some years after the abolition of the Establishment--after
some experience of the _régime_ of religious equality--the two races
in this island will learn to act together so harmoniously as to give a
fair promise that they could be safely trusted with self-legislation.
But the '_self_' must be one body animated by one spirit; not
two bodies, chained together, irritated by the contact, fiercely
struggling against one another, eternally reproaching one another
about the mutual wrongs of the past, and not unfrequently coming
to blows, like implacable duellists shut up in a small room, each
determined to kill or be killed. If England were to let go her hold
even now, something like this would be the Irish 'situation.' The
abiding force of this antipathy, in the full light of Christianity, is

In his 'Life, Letters, and Speeches of Lord Plunket,' the Hon.
David Plunket states that, when his grandfather entered the Irish
parliament, 'the English Government had nearly abandoned the _sham_
of treating the Irish parliament as an independent legislature; the
treasury benches were filled with placemen and pensioners. All efforts
tending to reform of parliament or concession to the Catholics had
been given up as useless. Grattan and some of his immediate followers
had seceded from an assembly too degraded to appreciate their motives,
or to be influenced by their example; and whatever remained of
independence in the House of Commons ministers still laboured to bring
under their control. Scarcely thirty votes appeared in opposition
on the most important divisions, while Government could at any time
readily whip a majority of 100.'

According to a Government return made in 1784, by Pitt's direction,
116 nomination seats were divided between some 25 proprietors. Lord
Shannon returned no less than 16 members, and the great family of
Ponsonby returned 14; Lord Hillsborough, 9, the Duke of Leinster,
7, and the Castle itself 12. Eighty-six seats were _let out_ by the
owners, in consideration of titles, offices, and pensions. No less
than 44 seats were occupied by placemen, 32 by gentlemen who had
promises of pensions, 12 by gentlemen who stood out for higher prices
from Government. The regular opposition appears to have been limited
to 82 votes, of which 30 belonged to Whig nominees, and the rest to
the popular party.

It is, then, easy to account for the state of public feeling which Mr.
Plunket, with these facts and figures before him, so well describes.
He says truly that if it were possible to appeal to the country under
these circumstances, the people would not have responded. 'Gloomy
and desperate, they had lost all confidence in their parliament,
and looked to other quarters for deliverance from the _intolerable
tyranny_ under which they suffered. There can be no doubt that
this anarchy and disgrace were in a great degree the result of a
misgovernment, ancient and recent, _which seems to have been always
adopted with a view to bring out strongly the worst elements of the
Irish character_; but it was at that time said, and no doubt believed
by the Opposition, that the ministry of the day had deliberately
planned and accomplished the disorganisation of the Irish people and
their parliament, in order to enable them to carry out their favourite
project of the Union.'

Mr. Plunket, after describing the classes of 'representatives' that
his grandfather had to deal with in the Irish House of Commons,
further says: 'It is true that this corrupt assembly cannot fairly be
looked upon as the mirror of national character and national honour.
The members of the majority who voted for the Union _were not_
the representatives of the people, _but the hired servants of the
Minister, for the Parliament had been packed for the purpose_.'

Towards the close of the century, however, the French Revolution,
the American war, and the volunteer movement, had begun to cause
some faint stirring of national life in the inert mass of the Roman
Catholic population, which the penal code had '_dis-boned_.' Up
to this time they were not even thought of in the calculations of
politicians. According to Dean Swift, Papists counted no more in
politics than the women and children. Macaulay uses a still more
contemptuous comparison to express the estimate in which they were
held in those times, saying, that their lords and masters would as
soon have consulted their poultry and swine on any political question.
Nevertheless, during the excitement of the volunteer movement, some
of the poor Celts began to raise their heads, and presumed to put the
question to the most liberal portion of the ruling race--'Are we not
men? Have not we also some rights?' The appeal was responded to in the
Irish parliament, and in 1793 the elective franchise was conceded to
Roman Catholics. It was the first concession, and the least that could
be granted. But the bare proposal excited the utmost indignation in
the Tory party, and especially in the Dublin corporation, where
the Orange spirit was rampant. That body adopted an address to the
Protestants of Ireland, which bears a remarkable resemblance in its
spirit and style to addresses lately issued by Protestant Defence
Associations. Both speak in the kindest terms of their Roman Catholic
fellow-subjects, disclaim all intention of depriving them of any
advantages they enjoy under our glorious constitution, declaring that
their objects are purely _defensive_, and that they want merely to
guard that constitution against the aggressions of the Papacy quite as
much for the sake of Roman Catholics as for the sake of Protestants.
'Countrymen and friends,' said the Dublin Tories, seventy-five years
ago, 'the firm and manly support which we received from you when we
stood forward in defence of the Protestant Ascendancy, deserves our
warmest thanks. We hoped that the sense of the Protestants of Ireland,
declared upon that occasion, would have convinced our Roman Catholic
fellow-subjects that the pursuit of political power was for them a
vain pursuit; for, though the liberal and enlightened mind of the
Protestant receives pleasure at seeing the Catholic exercise his
religion with freedom, enjoy his property in security, and possess
the highest degree of personal liberty, yet, experience has taught us
that, without the ruin of the Protestant establishment, the Catholic
cannot be allowed the smallest influence in the state.'

Those men were as thoroughly convinced as their descendants,
who protest against concession to-day, that all our Protestant
institutions would go to perdition, if Papists, although then mere
serfs, were allowed to vote for members of parliament. They were
equally puzzled to know why Roman Catholics were discontented, or what
more their masters could reasonably do for them to add to the enviable
happiness of their lot. 'We entreat you,' the Dublin corporation said
to their Protestant brethren throughout the country--'we entreat you
to join with us in using every honest means of persuading the Roman
Catholics to rest content with the most perfect toleration of their
religion, the fullest security of their property, and the most
complete personal liberty; but, by no means, now or hereafter, to
attempt any interference in the government of the kingdom, as such
interference would be incompatible with the Protestant Ascendancy,
which we have resolved with our lives and fortunes to maintain.'
Lest any doubt should exist as to what they meant by 'Protestant
Ascendancy,' they expressly defined it. They resolved that it
consisted in a Protestant King of Ireland; a Protestant Parliament,
Protestant electors and Government; Protestant benches of justice;
a Protestant hierarchy; the army and the revenue, through all their
branches and details, Protestant; and this system supported by a
connection with the Protestant realm of Britain.

The power of the political franchise to elevate a degraded people, to
convert slaves into men, is exhibited before the eyes of the present
generation in the Southern States of America; even where differences
of race and colour are most marked, and where the strongest natural
antipathies are to be overcome. We may judge from this what must
have been the effect of this concession on the Irish Celts. The
forty-shilling freeholders very soon became objects of consideration
with their landlords, who were anxious to extend their political
influence in their respective counties, for the representation of
which the great proprietors had many a fierce contest. The abolition
of this franchise by the Emancipation Act made that measure a
grievance instead of a relief to the peasantry, for the landlords were
now as anxious to get rid of the small holders as they had been to
increase them so long as they served their political purpose. It was
one of the great drawbacks which deprived emancipation of the healing
effect it would otherwise have produced. If--as Pitt intended--that
measure had formed part of the Union arrangements; if the
forty-shilling freeholders had been spared, and the priesthood had
been endowed, we should never have had an agitation for repeal or even
for the separation of the church from the state. Pitt's plan of the
Union included the abolition of Protestant Ascendancy.

Edmund Burke, in one of his letters on Ireland, said: 'A word has
been lately struck in the mint of the castle of Dublin. Thence it was
conveyed to the Tholsel, or city hall, where having passed the touch
of the corporation, so respectably stamped and vouched, it soon became
current in parliament, and was carried back by the speaker of the
House of Commons, in great pomp, as an offering of homage from whence
it came. That word is Ascendancy. The word is not absolutely new.' He
then gives its various meanings, and first shows what it does _not_
signify in the new sense. Not influence obtained by love or reverence,
or by superior management and dexterity; not an authority derived from
wisdom or virtue, promoting the happiness and freedom of the Roman
Catholic people; not by flattering them, or by a skilful adaptation to
their humours and passions. It means nothing of all these. Burke then
shows what it does mean. 'New ascendancy is old mastership. It is
neither more nor less than the resolution of one sect of people in
Ireland to consider themselves the sole citizens in the commonwealth,
and to keep a dominion over the rest, by reducing them to absolute
slavery under a military power; and thus fortified in their power, to
divide the public estate, which is the result of general contribution,
as a military booty, solely among themselves. This ascendancy,
by being a _Protestant_ ascendancy, does not better it, from a
combination of a note or two more in this anti-harmonic scale. By
the use that is frequently made of the term, and the policy that is
grafted on it, the name Protestant becomes nothing more or better than
the name of a persecuting faction, with a relation of some sort of
theological hostility to others, but without any sort of ascertained
tenets of its own, upon the ground of which it persecutes other men;
for the patrons of this Protestant ascendancy neither do nor can,
by anything positive, define or describe what they mean by the word
Protestant.... The whole is nothing but pure and perfect malice. It
is indeed a perfection in that kind, belonging to beings of a higher
order than man, and to them we ought to leave it.... Let three
millions of people but abandon all that they and their ancestors have
been taught to believe sacred, and to forswear it publicly in terms
the most degrading, and nothing more is required of them.... The word
_Protestant_ is the charm that locks up in a dungeon of servitude
three millions of people.

Every thoughtful reader of the debates in parliament on the state of
Ireland, must have been struck with the difference of opinion between
the Liberals and the Conservatives, as to the facts of the case. A
still more violent difference was presented in the British parliament,
in the year 1797, when there were great debates in both houses on the
subject, and when the facts were still more glaring, one of them being
that the reign of terror established by the Irish Government prevented
the press from reporting the maddening atrocities which the ruling
faction was daily perpetrating against the mass of the king's
subjects. The debate arose in the Lords, on a motion by Lord Moira
for an address to the king on the state of Ireland. He described the
horrors of which he had been recently a witness, but softened the
recital, lest he should shock his hearers too much. Orange loyalty
was then licensed and let loose upon the defenceless Roman Catholic
population in Ulster. Lord Gosford's description of the scenes of
desolation in his own county, Armagh, is well known. He did what
he could to prevent the burning of Roman Catholic houses, and the
personal injuries inflicted upon the unfortunate inhabitants, while
their Orange neighbours chased them out of the country, giving them
Cromwell's alternative. But his mercy injured his reputation, and he
felt obliged to protest solemnly that he was a loyal man, and that he
wished to uphold Protestant ascendancy in Ireland as much as any of
his accusers. He only asked that the poor Catholic should be allowed
to live in peace. In the debate referred to, Lord Moira declared that
ninety-one householders had been banished from one of his own estates;
and many of them wounded in their persons. The discontent, he said,
was not confined to one sect. He ascribed the state of things to the
recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, which crushed the hopes of the Catholics,
and gave unbounded licence to the yeomanry, who were empowered to act
with a vigour beyond the law; to turn out, banish, or kill the king's
subjects, on mere suspicion, often prompted by private malice, and
having no better warrant than anonymous information. But for all this
the Irish parliament and the new reactionary viceroy freely granted
acts of indemnity. According to Earl Fitzwilliam 'whole parishes,
baronies, and even counties, were declared to be out of the king's

Mr. Fox brought forward a similar motion in the House of Commons,
pleading the cause of justice and humanity in a noble speech, and
boldly affirming principles of government for Ireland, which
Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Chichester Fortescue, and Mr. Bright are now
endeavouring to have carried out by the imperial parliament after
seventy years of concession, extorted by three rebellions. Mr. Fox
expressed his abhorrence of 'the truly diabolical maxim' of '_Divide
el impera_,' by which the government of Ireland was conducted. He
hoped that the discontent which threatened the separation of Ireland
would be dissipated without the necessity of war. 'But now,' he said,
'the extremity of rigour has been tried--the severity of despotism has
been let loose--and the Government is driven to that state when the
laws are not to be put into execution, but to be superseded.' The
motion was seconded by Sir Francis Burdett, who said: 'Whoever has
seen Ireland, has seen a country where the fields are desolated, and
the prisons overflowing with the victims of oppression--has seen the
shocking contrast between a profligate, extravagant Government, and
an enslaved and impoverished people.' The motion was rejected by
a majority of 136. Lord Moira made a last and an almost despairing
appeal on November 22, in the same year. In his speech he said:
'I have seen in that country a marked distinction made between the
English and the Irish. I have seen troops that have been sent full of
this prejudice, that every inhabitant of that kingdom is a rebel to
the British Government. I have seen the most wanton insults practised
upon men of all ranks and conditions. I have seen the most grievous
oppression exercised, in consequence of a presumption that the person
who was the unfortunate object of such oppression was in hostility to
the Government; and yet that has been done in a part of the country
as quiet and as free from disturbance as the city of London. He who
states these things should be prepared with proofs. I am prepared with
them.' He then went into a number of horrifying details, and concluded
as follows: 'You say that the Irish are insensible to the benefits
of the British constitution, and you withhold all these benefits from
them. You goad them with harsh and cruel punishments, and a general
infliction of insult is thrown upon the kingdom. I have seen, my
lords, a conquered country held by military force; _but never did I
see in any conquered country such a tone of insult as has been adopted
by Great Britain towards Ireland_. I have made a last effort. I acquit
my conscience; I have done my duty.'

In subsequent debates, the following sentiments were uttered by the
leading Whig statesmen of the day: 'The treatment of Ireland,' said
Mr. Fox, 'was such as to harrow up the soul. It was shocking to think
that a nation of brothers was thus to be trampled on like the most
remote colony of conquered strangers.... The Irish people have been
scourged by the iron hand of oppression, and subjected to the horrors
of military execution, and are now in a situation too dreadful for the
mind to contemplate without dismay. After the inhuman dragooning
and horrible executions, the recital of which makes the blood run
cold--after so much military cruelty, not in one, but in almost every
part of the country--is it possible for this administration to procure
unanimity in Ireland?' On March 22, 1798, the Duke of Bedford moved an
address to the king, asking him to change his ministers, and alluding
to the state of Ireland, as it was before the breaking out of the
Rebellion. He said: 'Were I to enter into a detail of the atrocities
which have been committed in Ireland, the picture would appal the
stoutest heart. It could be proved that the most shocking cruelties
have been perpetrated; but what could be expected if men kept in
strict discipline were all at once allowed to give loose to their fury
and their passions?'

Lord Holland was persuaded that his majesty's ministers could not
tranquillise Ireland even by conciliation. 'How could they conciliate
whose concessions are always known to be the concessions of weakness
and of fear, and who never granted to the Irish--the most generous
people upon earth,--anything without a struggle or resistance?' Lord
William Russell, in June following, said: 'A man's loyalty was to
be estimated by the desire he testified to imbrue his hands in his
brother's blood.' Sheridan asked: 'After being betrayed, duped,
insulted--disappointed in their dearest hopes, and again thrown into
the hands of the rulers they detested and despised, was it impossible
they should feel emotions of indignation? The struggle is not one of
partial disaffection, but it is a contest between the people and the
Government.' Mr. Tierney said: 'It was certain the people were in arms
against the Government, nor was it easy to conceive how--having been
scourged, burnt, and massacred--they could have any other feeling than
aversion to that Government.'

Every motion on the subject in both houses was rejected by
overwhelming majorities. So little impression did the reports of the
appalling facts which were of daily occurrence in Ireland make upon
that Tory Government, that the speeches of ministers read exactly like
the speeches of Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Hardy, Lord Mayo, and Mr. Warren,
in the past session. Lord Grenville, the home secretary, professed the
most profound respect for the independence of the Irish parliament,
and he could not think of interfering in the least with its
privileges, however the empire might suffer from its excesses.
'The motion of Lord Moira was not only unnecessary, it was highly
mischievous.' He dwelt on the improved state of Ireland, and the
tranquillity of the people. If there were partial excesses on the part
of the military, they were unavoidable, and could only be deplored.
'He was unable to discern what should alienate the affections of
Ireland. For the whole space of thirty years his majesty's Government
had been distinguished by the same uniform tenderness of regard,
by the same undeviating adherence to the mild principles of a
conciliatory system.... If any cruelties had been practised, they must
have been resisted by a high-spirited people. Were there no courts of
justice? The conduct of the lord lieutenant was highly commendable.
The system recommended by Lord Moira would only tend to villify the
Irish Government.' Then came the fatal announcement which sounded
the death-knell of thousands of the Irish people, and caused the
destruction of millions' worth of property. The home secretary said:
'The contrary system must, therefore, be persevered in; and to
the spirited exertions of the British military should we owe the
preservation of Irish laws, of Irish property, and of Irish lives!'

To this the Marquis of Downshire added 'that he was not afraid of the
effects of coercion. Every concession had been made that could be made
towards Ireland. Every Catholic was as free as the safety of the
state would admit. Were the Catholics to have an equal share in the
government with the Protestants, the Government and the country would
be lost.'

I will conclude by quoting the remarks of Mr. Fox, referred to above:
'If you do not allay their discontent, there is no way but force to
keep them in obedience. Can you convince them by the musket that their
principles are false? Can you prove to them by the bayonet that their
pretensions are unjust? Can you demonstrate to them by martial law
that they enjoy the blessings of a free constitution? No, it is said,
but they may be deterred from the prosecution of the objects which you
have determined to refuse. But on what is this founded? On the history
of Ireland itself? No; for the history of Ireland proves that, though
repeatedly subdued, it could not be kept in awe by force; and the
late examples will prove the effect which severity may be expected
to produce.... I would therefore concede; and if I found I had not
conceded enough, I would concede more. I know of no way of governing
mankind, but by conciliating them.... My wish is that the whole people
of Ireland should have the same principles, the same system, the same
operation of government. ... I would have the whole Irish government
regulated by Irish notions and Irish prejudices; and I firmly
believe, according to an Irish expression, the more she is under Irish
government, the more she will be bound to English interests. ... I
say, therefore, try conciliation, but do not have recourse to arms.'
He warned and implored in vain. The Union had been determined on; and
it was thought that it could be effected only after the prostration of
civil war, into which, therefore, the unfortunate people were goaded.



We are now in the nineteenth century, without any relief for the Irish
peasantry. The rebellion of '98, so cruelly crushed, left an abiding
sense of terror in the hearts of the Roman Catholic population.
Their condition was one of almost hopeless prostration. The Union was
effected without the promised relief from their religious disabilities
which was to be one of its essential conditions. The established
church was secured, the rights of property were secured, but there was
no security for the mass of the people. Domestic politics were almost
forgotten in the gigantic struggle with Napoleon, which exhausted
the energies of the empire. Any signs of political life that showed
themselves in Ireland were connected with Catholic emancipation, and
the visit of George IV., in 1820, held forth promises of relief which
excited unbounded joy. The king loved his Irish subjects, and would
never miss an opportunity of realising the good wishes for their
happiness which he had so often and so fervently expressed to his Whig
friends, when he was Prince Regent. O'Connell's agitation commenced
soon after, and in nine years after the royal visit emancipation was
extorted by the dread of civil war, frankly avowed by the Duke of
Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. But this boon left the masses nearly
where they had been, only more conscious of their power, and more
determined to use it, in the removal of their grievances.

Lord Redesdale, writing to Lord Eldon in 1821, said:--'In England
the machine goes on almost of itself, and therefore a bad driver
may manage it tolerably well. It is not so in Ireland. The country
requires great exertion to bring it into a state of order and
submission to law. The whole population--high and low, rich and poor,
Catholic and Protestant--must all be brought to obedience to law; all
must be taught to look up to the law for protection. The gentry are
ready enough to attend grand juries, to obtain presentments for their
own benefit, but they desert the quarter-sessions of the peace. The
first act of a constable in arresting must not be to knock down the
prisoner; and many, many reforms must be made, which only can be
effected by a judicious and able Government _on the spot_. Ireland, in
its present state, cannot be governed in England. If insubordination
compels you to give, how are you to retain by law what you propose to
maintain while insubordination remains? It can only be by establishing
completely the empire of the law.'

Sir Archibald Alison ascribed the unhappy relations of classes in
Ireland to what he calls 'the atrocious system of confiscation, which,
in conformity with feudal usages, the victors introduced on every
occasion of rebellion against their authority.' Sir George Nicholls
has shown, in his valuable history of the Irish poor law, that as
early as 1310 the parliament assembled at Kilkenny resolved that none
should keep Irish, or kern, in time of peace to live upon the poor of
the country; 'but those which will have them shall keep them at their
own charges, so that the free tenants and farmers be not charged with
them.' And 130 years afterwards, the parliament assembled in Dublin
declared that divers of the English were in the habit of maintaining
sundry thieves, robbers, and rebels, and that they were to be adjudged
traitors for so doing, and suffer accordingly. In 1450, this class
of depredators had increased very much, and by their 'thefts and
manslaughters caused the land to fall into decay, poverty wasting it
every day more and more; whereupon it was ordained that it should
be lawful for every liege man to kill or take notorious thieves, and
thieves found robbing, spoiling, or breaking houses; and that every
man that kills or takes any such thieves shall have one penny of every
plough, and one farthing of every cottage within the barony where the
manslaughter is done, for every thief.' These extracts show a very
barbarous state of society, but Sir George Nicholls remarks that
at the same period the condition of England and Scotland was very
similar, save only that that of Ireland was aggravated by the civil
conflicts between the colonists and the natives. There were some
efforts made in Ireland, by various enactments, to put down this evil,
and to provide employment for the large numbers that were disposed to
prey upon the industry of their neighbours, by robbery, beggary, and
destruction of property. But while there was a legal provision made
for the poor in England, there was none in Ireland, where the people
were, _en masse_, deprived of the means of self-support by the action
of the Government. Hence, so late as the year 1836, the poor-law
commissioners reported to the following effect:--

It appeared that in Great Britain the agricultural families
constituted little more than a fourth, whilst in Ireland they
constituted about two-thirds, of the whole population; that there
were in Great Britain, in 1831, 1,055,982 agricultural labourers;
in Ireland, 1,131,715, although the cultivated land of Great Britain
amounted to about 34,250,000 acres and that of Ireland only to about
14,600,000. So that there were in Ireland about five agricultural
labourers for every two that there were for the same quantity of land
in Great Britain. It further appeared that the agricultural progress
of Great Britain was more than four times that of Ireland; in which
agricultural wages varied from sixpence to one shilling a day; the
average of the country being about eightpence-halfpenny; and that the
earnings of the labourers came, on an average of the whole class, to
from two shillings to two and sixpence a week or thereabouts for the
year round. Thus circumstanced, the commissioners observed, 'It is
impossible for the able-bodied in general to provide against sickness
or the temporary absence of employment, or against old age, or the
destitution of their widows and children in the contingent event of
their own premature decease. A great portion of them are, it is said,
insufficiently provided with the commonest necessaries of life. Their
habitations are wretched hovels, several of a family sleep together
on straw, or upon the bare ground, sometimes with a blanket, sometimes
even without so much to cover them; their food commonly consists of
dry potatoes, and with these they are at times so scantily supplied as
to be obliged to stint themselves to one spare meal in the day.
There are even instances of persons being driven by hunger to seek
sustenance in wild herbs. They sometimes get a herring or a little
milk, but they never get meat except at Christmas, Easter, and
Shrovetide. Some go in search of employment to Great Britain, during
the harvest; others wander through Ireland with the same view. The
wives and children of many are occasionally obliged to beg; but they
do so reluctantly and with shame, and in general go to a distance from
home, that they may not be known. Mendicity, too, is the sole resource
of the aged and impotent of the poorer classes in general, when
children or relatives are unable to support them. To it, therefore,
crowds are driven for the means of existence, and the knowledge that
such is the fact leads to an indiscriminate giving of alms, which
encourages idleness, imposture, and general crime.' Such was the
wretched condition of the great body of the labouring classes in
Ireland; 'and with these facts before us,' the commissioners say, 'we
cannot hesitate to state that we consider remedial measures requisite
to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor. What those measures
should be is a question complicated, and involving considerations
of the deepest importance to the whole body of the people, both in
Ireland and Great Britain.'

Sir George Nicholls, who had been an English poor-law commissioner,
was sent over to Ireland to make preliminary enquiries. He found
that the Irish peasantry had generally an appearance of apathy and
depression, seen in their mode of living, their habitations, their
dress and conduct; they seemed to have no pride, no emulation, to
be heedless of the present and careless of the future. They did not
strive to improve their appearance or add to their comforts: their
cabins were slovenly, smoky, dirty, almost without furniture, or any
article of convenience or common decency. The woman and her children
were seen seated on the floor, surrounded by pigs and poultry: the man
lounging at the door, which could be approached only through mud and
filth: the former too slatternly to sweep the dirt and offal from the
door, the latter too lazy to make a dry footway, though the materials
were close at hand. If the mother were asked why she did not keep
herself and her children clean with a stream of water running near the
cabin, her answer invariably was--Sure, how can we help it? We are so
poor.' The husband made the same reply, while smoking his pipe at the
fire or basking in the sunshine. Sir George Nicholls rightly concluded
that poverty was not the sole cause of this state of things. He found
them also remarkable for their desultory and reckless habits. Though
their crops were rotting in the fields from excessive wet, and every
moment of sunshine should be taken advantage of, yet if there was a
market, a fair, or a funeral, a horse-race, a fight, or a wedding,
forgetting everything else, they would hurry off to the scene of
excitement. Working for wages was rare and uncertain, and hence arose
a disregard of the value of time, a desultory, sauntering habit,
without industry or steadiness of application. 'Such,' he proceeds,
'is too generally the character and such the habits of the Irish
peasantry; and it may not be uninstructive to mark the resemblance
which these bear to the character and habits of the English peasantry
in the pauperised districts, under the abuses of the old poor law.
Mendicancy and indiscriminate almsgiving have produced in Ireland
results similar to what indiscriminate relief produced in England--the
like reckless disregard of the future, the like idle and disorderly
conduct, and the same proneness to outrage having then characterised
the English pauper labourer which are now too generally the
characteristics of the Irish peasant. An abuse of a good law caused
the evil in the one case, and a removal of that abuse is now rapidly
effecting a remedy. In the other case the evil appears to have arisen
rather from the want than the abuse of a law; but the corrective for
both will, I believe, be found to be essentially the same.'

The expectation that such a neglected people, made wretched by bad
land laws, should be loyal, was surely unreasonable. For them,
it might be said, there was no Government, no protection, no
encouragement. There could not be more tempting materials for
agitators to work upon. Lord Cloncurry vividly sketches the state
of things resulting from the want of principle and earnestness among
politicians in dealing with Irish questions at that time.

'From the Union up to the year 1829, the type of British colonial
government was the order of the day. The Protestants were upheld as
a superior caste, and paid in power and official emoluments for their
services in the army of occupation. During the second viceroyalty of
Lord Anglesea, an effort was made by him to evoke the energies of the
whole nation for its own regeneration. That effort was defeated by
the conjoint influence of the cowardice of the English cabinet,
the petulance of Mr. Stanley, and the unseasonable violence and
selfishness of the lately emancipated popular leaders. Upon Lord
Anglesea's recall the modern Whig model of statemanship was set up and
followed: popular grievances were allowed to remain unredressed; the
discontent and violence engendered by those grievances were used from
time to time for party purposes; the people were hung and bayoneted
when their roused passions exceeded the due measure of factious
requirement; and the state patronage was employed to stimulate and
to reward a staff of demagogues, by whom the masses were alternately
excited to madness, and betrayed, according to the necessities of the
English factions. When Russells and Greys were out or in danger, there
were free promises of equal laws and privileges and franchises for
oppressed Ireland; the minister expectant or trembling for his place,
spoke loudly of justice and compensation, of fraternity and freedom.
To these key-notes the place-hunting demagogue pitched his brawling.
His talk was of pike-making, and sword-fleshing, and monster marching.
The simple people were goaded into a madness, the end whereof was for
them suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the hulks, and the gallows;
for their stimulators, silk gowns and commissionerships and seats on
the bench. Under this treatment the public mind became debauched; the
lower classes, forced to bear the charges of agitation, as well as to
suffer its penalties, lost all faith in their social future; they saw
not and looked not beyond the momentary excitement of a procession or
a monster meeting.'

Sir Robert Peel, when introducing the Emancipation Bill, had to
confess the utter failure of the coercive policy which had been so
persistently pursued. He showed that Ireland had been governed, since
the Union, almost invariably by coercive acts. There was always some
political organisation antagonistic to the British Government. The
Catholic Association had just been suppressed; but another would soon
spring out of its ashes, if the Catholic question were not settled.
Mr. O'Connell had boasted that he could drive a coach-and-six through
the former act for its suppression; and Lord Eldon had engaged to
drive 'the meanest conveyance, even a donkey cart, through the act of
1829.' The new member for Oxford (Sir Robert Inglis) also stated that
twenty-three counties in Ireland were prepared to follow the example
of Clare. 'What will you do,' asked Sir Robert Peel, 'with that power,
that tremendous power, which the elective franchise, exercised
under the control of religion, at this moment confers upon the Roman
Catholics? What will you do with the thirty or forty seats that will
be claimed in Ireland by the persevering efforts of the agitators,
directed by the Catholic Association, and carried out by the agency
of every priest and bishop in Ireland?' If Parliament began to recede
there could be no limit to the retrogression. Such a course would
produce a reaction, violent in proportion to the hopes that had been
excited. Fresh rigours would become necessary; the re-enactment of the
penal code would not be sufficient. They must abolish trial by jury,
or, at least, incapacitate Catholics from sitting on juries. 2,000,000
of Protestants must have a complete monopoly of power and privilege in
a country which contained 5,000,000 of Catholics, who were in most
of the country four to one--in some districts twenty to one--of the
Protestants. True, there were difficulties in the way of a settlement.
'But,' asked Sir Robert Peel, 'what great measure, which has stamped
its name upon the era, has ever been carried without difficulty?

At the present moment there is a loud cry in the English press for the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and for the old remedy, coercion.
Those who raise the cry would do well to read Mr. Shiel's speech at
the Clare election in 1828. He said:--

'We have put a great engine into action, and applied the entire force
of that powerful machinery which the law has placed under our control.
We are masters of the passions of the people, and we have employed
our dominion with a terrible effect. But, sir, do you, or does any man
here, imagine that we could have acquired this formidable ability to
sunder the strongest ties by which the different classes of society
are fastened, unless we found the materials of excitement in the state
of society itself? Do you think that Daniel O'Connell has himself,
and by the single powers of his own mind, unaided by any external
co-operation, brought the country to this great crisis of agitation?
Mr. O'Connell, with all his talent for excitation, would have been
utterly powerless and incapable, unless he had been allied with a
great conspirator against the public peace; and I will tell you who
that confederate is--it is the law of the land itself that has been
Mr. O'Connell's main associate, and that ought to be denounced as the
mighty agitator of Ireland. The rod of oppression is the wand of this
enchanter, and the book of his spells is the penal code? Break the
wand of this political Prospero, and take from him the volume of his
magic, and he will evoke the spirits which are now under his control
no longer. But why should I have recourse to illustration, which may
be accounted fantastical, in order to elucidate what is in itself
so plain and obvious? Protestant gentlemen, who do me the honour to
listen to me, look, I pray you, a little dispassionately at the real
causes of the events which have taken place amongst you.... In no
other country, except in this, would such a revolution have been
effected. Wherefore? Because in no other country are the people
divided by the law from their superiors, and cast into the hands of a
set of men who are supplied with the means of national excitement
by the system of government under which we live. Surely, no man can
believe that such an anomalous body as the Catholic Association could
exist excepting in a community that has been alienated from the state
by the state itself. The discontent and the resentment of 7,000,000
of the population have generated that domestic government which sways
public opinion, and uses the national passions as the instruments
of its will. It would be utterly impossible, if there were no
exasperating distinctions amongst us, to create any artificial causes
of discontent. Let men declaim for a century, and if they have no real
grievance their harangues will be empty sound and idle air. But
when what they tell the people is true--when they are sustained by
substantial facts, effects are produced of which what has taken place
at this election is only an example. The whole body of the people
having been previously excited, the moment any incident such as this
election occurs, all the popular passions start simultaneously up, and
bear down every obstacle before them. Do not, therefore, be surprised
that the peasantry should throw off their allegiance when they are
under the operation of emotions which it would be wonderful if they
could resist. The feeling by which they are actuated would make them
not only vote against their landlord, but would make them scale the
batteries of a fortress, and mount the breach; and, gentlemen, give
me leave to ask you whether, after due reflection upon the motives by
which your vassals (for so they are accounted) are governed, you will
be disposed to exercise any measure of severity in their regard?'

The greatest warrior of the age rebuked the men who cried in that day
that the sword should be the arbiter of the Irish question; and Sir
Robert Peel, in his own vindication of the Emancipation Act, said:--

'I well know that there are those upon whom such considerations as
these to which I have been adverting will make but a faint impression.
Their answer to all such appeals is the short, in their opinion the
conclusive, declaration--" The Protestant constitution in church
and state must be maintained at all hazards, and by any means; the
maintenance of it is a question of principle, and every concession
or compromise is the sacrifice of principle to a low and vulgar
expediency." This is easily said; but how was Ireland to be governed?
How was the Protestant constitution in church and state to be
maintained in that part of the empire? Again I can anticipate the
reply--"By the overwhelming sense of the people of Great Britain; by
the application, if necessary, of physical force for the maintenance
of authority; by the employment of the organised strength of
government, the police and the military, to enforce obedience to the
law." I deliberately affirm that a minister of the crown, responsible
at the time of which I am speaking for the public peace and the public
welfare, would have grossly and scandalously neglected his duty if he
had failed to consider whether it might not be possible that the fever
of political and religious excitement which was quickening the pulse
and fluttering the bosom of the whole Catholic population--which had
inspired the serf of Clare with the resolution and energy of a free
man--which had, in the twinkling of an eye, made all considerations of
personal gratitude, ancient family connection, local preferences, the
fear of worldly injury, the hope of worldly advantage, subordinate
to the all-absorbing sense of religious obligation and public
duty--whether, I say, it might not be possible that the contagion of
that feverish excitement might spread beyond the barriers which,
under ordinary circumstances, the habits of military obedience and
the strictness of military discipline opposed to all such external

The officer who commanded the military force in Clare during the
election, testified, as the result of his observation there, that,
even in the constabulary and the army, the sympathies of a common
cause, political and religious, could not be altogether repressed,
and that implicit reliance could not long be placed on the effect of
discipline and the duty of obedience. On July 20, Lord Anglesea wrote
as follows:--

'We hear occasionally of the Catholic soldiers being ill-disposed, and
entirely under the influence of the priests. One regiment of infantry
is said to be divided into Orange and Catholic factions. It is certain
that, on July 12, the guard at the castle had Orange lilies about
them.' On July 26, the viceroy wrote another letter, from which the
following is an extract:--'The priests are using very inflammatory
language, and are certainly working upon the Catholics of the army.
I think it important that the depôts of Irish recruits should be
gradually removed, under the appearance of being required to join
their regiments, and that whatever regiments are sent here should be
those of Scotland, or, at all events, of men not recruited from the
south of Ireland. I desired Sir John Byng to convey this opinion to
Lord Hill.'

Emancipation was carried, and the people were disaffected still.
And why should they not be disaffected still? Emancipation had
done nothing for them. The farmers were still at the mercy of the
landlords, whose pride they humbled at the hustings of Clare and
Waterford. They were still tormented by the tithe-proctor seizing the
tenth of all that their labour produced on the land. The labourers
were still wretched, deprived of the forty-shilling freehold, which
protected them from the horrors of eviction and of transportation in
a floating hell across the Atlantic. I well remember the celebrated
anti-tithe war in 1831, as well as the system by which it was
provoked, and I can bear witness to the accuracy of the following
description of the tithe-proctor by Henry Grattan. He said:--

'The use of the tithe-farmer is to get from the parishioners what the
parson would be ashamed to demand, and so enable the parson to absent
himself from his duty. The powers of the tithe-farmer are summary laws
and ecclesiastical courts; his livelihood is extortion; his rank in
society is generally the lowest; and his occupation is to pounce on
the poor in the name of the Lord! He is a species of wolf left by
the shepherd to take care of the flock in his absence.' A single
tithe-proctor had on one occasion processed 1,100 persons for tithes,
nearly all of the lower order of farmers or peasants, the expense of
each process being about 8 s. They had heard of opinions delivered
in parliament, on the platform, and from the press by Protestant
statesmen of the highest consideration, that it was a cruel oppression
to extort in that manner from the majority of the tillers of the soil
the tenth of its produce, in order to support the clergy of another
church, who, in many cases, had no flocks, or only a few followers,
who were well able to pay for their own religious instruction. The
system would be intolerable even were the state clergy the pastors of
the majority; but as the proportion between the Protestants and the
Roman Catholics was in many parts as one to ten, and in some as one to
twenty, the injustice necessarily involved in the mode of levying the
impost was aggravated a hundredfold. It would be scarcely possible
to devise any mode of levying an impost more exasperating, which
came home to the bosoms of men with more irritating, humiliating,
and maddening power, and which violated more recklessly men's natural
sense of justice. If a plan were devised for the purpose of driving
men into insurrection, nothing could be more effectual than
the tithe-proctor system. Besides, it tended directly to the
impoverishment of the country, retarding agricultural improvement and
limiting production. If a man kept all his land in pasture, he escaped
the impost; but the moment he tilled it, he was subjected to a tax of
ten per cent. on the gross produce. The valuation being made by the
tithe-proctor--a man whose interest it was to defraud both the tenant
and the parson--the consequence was, that the gentry and the large
farmers, to a great extent, evaded the tax, and left the small
occupiers to bear nearly the whole burden; they even avoided mowing
the meadows in some cases, because then they should pay tithe for the

There was besides a tax called church cess, levied by Protestants in
vestry meetings upon Roman Catholics for cleaning the church, ringing
the bell, washing the minister's surplice, purchasing bread and wine
for the communion, and paying the salary of the parish clerk. This
tax was felt to be a direct and flagrant violation of the rights of
conscience, and of the principles of the British constitution; and
against it there was a determined opposition, which manifested itself
in tumultuous and violent assemblages at the parish churches all
over the country on Easter Monday, when the rector or his curate, as
chairman of the meeting, came into angry collision with flocks who
disowned him, and denounced him as a tyrant, a persecutor, and a

But the tithe impost was the one most grievously felt, and at last the
peasantry resolved to resist it by force.

Nothing could be more violent than the contrasts presented at this
time in the social life of Ireland. On the one side there was a rapid
succession of atrocities and tragedies fearful to contemplate: the
bailiffs, constabulary, and military driving away cattle, sheep, pigs,
and geese to be sold by public auction, to pay the minister who had no
congregation to whom he could preach the gospel; the cattle-prisons
or 'pounds' surrounded by high walls, but uncovered, wet and dirty,
crowded with all sorts of animals, cold and starved, and uttering
doleful sounds; the driving away of the animals in the night from one
farm to another to avoid seizures; the auctions without bidders,
in the midst of groaning and jeering multitudes; the slaughter
of policemen, and in some instances of clergymen, with fiendish
expressions of hatred and yells of triumph; the mingling of fierce
passions with the strongest natural affections; the exultation in
murder as if it were a glorious deed of war; the Roman Catholic press
and platform almost justifying those deeds of outrage and blood; the
mass of the Roman Catholic population sustaining this insurrection
against the law with their support and sympathy and prayers, as if it
were a holy war, in which the victims were martyrs. On the other side
were presented pictures which excited the deepest interest of the
Protestant community throughout the United Kingdom. We behold the
clergyman and his family in the glebe-house, lately the abode of
plenty, comfort, and elegance, a model of domestic happiness and
gentlemanly life; but the income of the rector fell off, till he was
bereft of nearly all his means. In order to procure the necessaries
of life for his family, he was obliged to part with the cows that gave
milk for his household, the horse and car, which were necessary in the
remote place where his glebe-house was situated, and everything that
could be spared, till at length he was obliged to make his greatest
sacrifice, and to send his books--the dear and valued companions of
his life--to Dublin, to be sold by auction. His boys could no longer
be respectably clad, his wife and daughters were obliged to part with
their jewellery and all their superfluities. There was no longer wine
or medicine, that the mother was accustomed to dispense kindly and
liberally to the poor around her, in their sickness and sorrow,
without distinction of creed.

The glebe, which once presented an aspect of so much comfort and ease
and affluence, now looked bare and desolate and void of life. But for
the contributions of Christian friends at a distance, many of
those once happy little centres of Christian civilisation--those
well-springs of consolation to the afflicted--must have been abandoned
to the overwhelming sand of desolation swept upon them by the
hurricane of the anti-tithe agitation.

During this desperate struggle, force was employed on several
occasions with fatal effect. At Newtownbarry, in the county of
Wexford, some cattle were impounded by a tithe-proctor. The peasantry
assembled in large numbers to rescue them, when they came into
collision with the yeomanry, who fired, killing twelve persons. It was
a market day, and a placard was posted on the walls: 'There will be an
end of church plunder; your pot, blanket, and pig will not hereafter
be sold by auction to support in luxury, idleness, and ease persons
who endeavour to make it appear that it is essential to the peace and
prosperity of the country and your eternal salvation, while the most
of you are starving. Attend to an auction of your neighbours' cattle.'
At Carrickshock there was a fearful tragedy. A number of writs against
defaulters were issued by the court of exchequer, and entrusted to
the care of process-servers, who, guarded by a strong body of police,
proceeded on their mission with secrecy and dispatch. Bonfires along
the surrounding hills, however, and shrill whistles soon convinced
them that the people were not unprepared for their visitors. But
the yeomanry pushed boldly on. Suddenly an immense assemblage of
peasantry, armed with scythes and pitchforks, poured down upon them.
A terrible hand-to-hand struggle ensued, and in the course of a few
moments eighteen of the police, including the commanding officer,
were slaughtered. The remainder consulted safety and fled, marking the
course of their retreat by the blood that trickled from their wounds.
A coroner's jury pronounced this deed of death as 'wilful murder'
against some persons unknown. A large government reward was offered,
but it failed to produce a single conviction. At Castlepollard, in
Westmeath, on the occasion of an attempted rescue, the chief constable
was knocked down. The police fired, and nine or ten persons were
killed. One of the most lamentable of these conflicts occurred at
Gurtroe, near Rathcormac, in the county of Cork. Archdeacon Ryder
brought a number of the military to recover the tithes of a farm
belonging to a widow named Ryan. The assembled people resisted, the
military were ordered to fire, eight persons were killed and thirteen
wounded; and among the killed was the widow's son.

These disorders appealed with irresistible force to the Government and
the legislature, to put an end to a system fraught with so much evil,
and threatening the utter disruption of society in Ireland. In the
first place, something must be done to meet the wants of the destitute
clergy and their families. Accordingly, Lord Stanley brought in a
bill, in May 1832, authorising the lord lieutenant of Ireland to
advance 60,000 l. as a fund for the payment of the clergy, who were
unable to collect their tithes for the year 1831. This measure was
designed to meet the present necessity, and was only a preliminary to
the promised settlement of the tithe question. It was therefore passed
quickly through both Houses, and became law on June 1. But the money
thus advanced was not placed on the consolidated fund.

The Government took upon itself the collection of the arrears of
tithes for that one year. It was a maxim with Lord Stanley that the
people should be made to respect the law; that they should not
be allowed to trample upon it with impunity. The odious task thus
assumed, produced a state of unparalleled excitement. The people were
driven to frenzy, instead of being frightened by the chief secretary
becoming tithe-collector-general, and the army being employed in
its collection. They knew that the king's speech had recommended the
settlement of the tithe question. They had heard of the evidence of
Bishop Doyle and other champions, exposing what they believed to be
the iniquity of the tithe system. They had seen the condemnation of it
in the testimony of the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, who declared
his conviction that it could not be collected except at the point of
the bayonet, and by keeping up a chronic war between the Government
and the Roman Catholic people. They had been told that parliamentary
committees had recommended the complete extinction of tithes, and
their commutation into a rent-charge. Their own leaders had everywhere

'That it was a glaring wrong to compel an impoverished Catholic people
to support in pampered luxury the richest clergy in the world--a
clergy from whom, the Catholics do not experience even the return of
common gratitude--a clergy who, in times past, opposed to the last
the political freedom of the Irish people, and at the present day
are opposed to reform and a liberal scheme of education for their
countrymen. The ministers of the God of charity should not, by
misapplication of all the tithes to their own private uses, thus
deprive the poor of their patrimony; nor should ministers of
peace adhere with such desperate tenacity to a system fraught with
dissension, hatred, and ill-will.' The first proceeding of the
Government to recover the tithes, under the act of June 1, was
therefore the signal for general war. Bonfires blazed upon the hills,
the rallying sounds of horns were heard along the valleys, and the
mustering tread of thousands upon the roads, hurrying to the scene
of a seizure or an auction. It was a bloody campaign; there was
considerable loss of life, and the Church and the Government thus
became more obnoxious to the people than ever. Lord Stanley being the
commander-in-chief on one side, and Mr. O'Connell on the other, the
contest was embittered by their personal antipathies. It was found
that the amount of the arrears for the year 1831 was 104,285 l., and
that the whole amount which the Government was able to levy, after
putting forth its strength in every possible way, was 12,000 l., the
cost of collection being 15,000 l., so the Government was not able to
raise as much money as would pay the expenses of the campaign. This
was how Lord Stanley illustrated his favourite sentiment that the
people should be made to respect the law. But the Liberal party among
the Protestants fully sympathised with the anti-tithe recusants.

Of course the Government did not persevere in prosecutions from which
no parties but the lawyers reaped any advantage; consequently, all
processes under the existing law were abandoned. It was found that,
after paying to the clergy the arrears of 1831 and 1832, and what
would be due in 1833, about a million sterling would be required,
and this sum was provided by an issue of exchequer bills. The
reimbursement of the advance was to be effected by a land tax.
Together with these temporary arrangements to meet the exigency of the
case, for the payment of the clergy and the pacification of Ireland,
an act was passed to render tithe composition in Ireland compulsory
and permanent. But Ireland was not yet pacified.[1]

[Footnote 1: The foregoing sketch of the tithe war was written by the
author seven years ago for Cassell's _History of England_, from which
it is now extracted.]



It had often been predicted by writers on the state of Ireland, that,
owing to the rottenness at the foundation of the social fabric, it
would come down with a crash some day. The facts reported by the
census commissioners of 1841 showed that this consummation could not
be far off. Out of a population of 8,000,000, there were 3,700,000
above the age of five years who could neither read nor write; while
nearly three millions and a half lived in mud cabins, badly thatched
with straw, having each but one room, and often without either a
window or a chimney. These figures indicate a mass of ignorance
and poverty, which could not be contemplated without alarm, and the
subject was, therefore, constantly pressed upon the attention of
parliament. As usual in cases of difficulty, the Government, feeling
that something should be done, and not knowing what to do, appointed
in 1845 a commission to enquire into the relations between landlords
and tenants, and the condition of the working classes. At the head of
this commission was the Earl of Devon, a benevolent nobleman, whose
sympathies were on the side of the people. Captain Kennedy, the
secretary to the commissioners, published a digest of the report of
the evidence, which presented the facts in a readable form, and was
the means of diffusing a large amount of authentic information on the
state of Ireland. The commissioners travelled through the country,
held courts of enquiry, and examined witnesses of all classes. As the
result of their extensive intercourse with the farming classes, and
their own observations, they were enabled to state that in almost
every part of Ireland unequivocal symptoms of improvement, in spite
of many embarrassing and counteracting circumstances, continually
presented themselves to the view, and that there existed a very
general and increasing spirit and desire for the promotion of such
improvement, from which the most beneficial results might fairly be

Indeed, speaking of the country generally, they add: 'With some
exceptions, which are unfortunately too notorious, we believe that at
no former period did so active a spirit of improvement prevail; nor
could well directed measures for the attainment of that object have
been proposed with a better prospect of success than at the present

But this improvement produced no sensible effect upon the condition
of the labouring people. However brightly the sun of prosperity might
gild the eminences of society, the darkness of misery and despair
settled upon the masses below. The commissioners proceed: 'A
reference to the evidence of most of the witnesses will show that
the agricultural labourer of Ireland continues to suffer the greatest
privations and hardships; that he continues to depend upon casual and
precarious employment for subsistence; that he is still badly housed,
badly fed, badly clothed, and badly paid for his labour. Our personal
experience and observation during our enquiry have afforded us a
melancholy confirmation of these statements; and we cannot forbear
expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the
labouring classes have generally exhibited under sufferings greater,
we believe, than the people of any other country in Europe have to
sustain.' It was deeply felt that the well-being of the whole United
Kingdom depended upon the removal of the causes of this misery and
degradation; for if the Irish people were not elevated, the English
working classes must be brought down to their level. The facility of
travelling afforded by railways and steam-boats caused such constant
intercourse between England and Ireland, that Irish ignorance,
beggary, and disease, with all their contagion, physical and moral,
would be found intermingling with the British population. It would be
impossible to prevent the half-starved Irish peasantry from crossing
the Channel, and seeking employment, even at low wages, and forming a
pestiferous Irish quarter in every town and city. The question, then,
was felt to be one whose settlement would brook no further delay.

It was found that the potato was almost the only food of the Irish
millions, and that it formed their chief means of obtaining the other
necessaries of life. A large portion of this crop was grown under the
system, to which the poorest of the peasantry were obliged to have
recourse, notwithstanding the minute subdivision of land. There were
in 1841, 691,000 farms in Ireland exceeding one acre in extent.
Nearly one half of these were under five acres each. The number
of proprietors in fee was estimated at 8,000--a smaller number, in
proportion to the extent of territory, than in any other country of
Western Europe except Spain. In Connaught, several proprietors had
100,000 acres each, the proportion of small farms being greater there
than in the rest of Ireland. The total number of farms in the province
was 155,842, and of these 100,254 consisted of from one to five acres.
If all the proprietors were resident among their tenantry, and were
in a position to encourage their industry and care for their welfare,
matters would not have been so bad; but most of the large landowners
were absentees. It frequently happened that the large estates
were held in strict limitation, and they were nearly all heavily
encumbered. The owners preferred living in England or on the
Continent, having let their lands on long leases, or in perpetuity
to 'middlemen,' who sublet them for as high rents as they could get.
Their tenants again sublet, so that it frequently happened that two,
three, or four landlords intervened between the proprietor and the
occupying tenant, each deriving an interest from the land. The head
landlord, therefore, though ever so well disposed, had no power
whatever to help the occupying tenants generally, and of those who
had the power very few felt disposed. There were extensive districts
without a single resident proprietor.

For a few weeks after the blight of the potato crop in 1846 the
cottiers and small farmers managed to eke out a subsistence by the
sale of their pigs and any little effects they had. But pigs, fowl,
furniture, and clothing soon went, one after another, to satisfy the
cravings of hunger. The better class of farmers lived upon their corn
and cattle; but they were obliged to dismiss their servants, and this
numerous class became the first victims of starvation; for when they
were turned off, they were refused admission by their relations, who
had not the means of feeding them. Tailors, shoemakers, and other
artisans who worked for the lower orders, lost their employment, and
became destitute also. While the means of support failed upon every
side, and food rose to such enormous prices that everything that
could possibly be eaten was economised, so that the starving dogs were
drowned from compassion, the famine steadily advanced from the west
and south to the east and north, till it involved the whole population
in its crushing grasp. It was painfully interesting to mark the
progress of the visitation, even in those parts of the country where
its ravages were least felt. The small farmer had only his corn,
designed for rent and seed: he was obliged to take it to the mill
to ward off starvation. The children of the poor, placed on short
allowance, were suffering fearfully from hunger. Mothers, heart-broken
and worn down to skeletons, were seen on certain days proceeding
in groups to some distant depôt, where Indian meal was to be had at
reduced prices, but still double that of the ordinary market. As they
returned to their children, with their little bags on their heads, a
faint joy lit up their famine-stricken features.

When the visitors entered a village their first question was: 'How
many deaths?' '_The hunger is upon us_,' was everywhere the cry; and
involuntarily they found themselves regarding this hunger as they
would an epidemic, looking upon starvation as a disease. In fact, as
they passed along, their wonder was, not that the people died, but
that they lived; and Mr. W.G. Forster, in his report, said: 'I have
no doubt whatever, that in any other country the mortality would have
been far greater; and that many lives have been prolonged, perhaps
saved, by the long apprenticeship to want in which the Irish peasant
has been trained, and by that lovely, touching charity which prompts
him to share his scanty meal with his starving neighbour. But the
springs of this charity must be rapidly dried up. Like a scourge of
locusts, _the hunger_ daily sweeps over fresh districts, eating up all
before it. One class after another is falling into the same abyss of

[Footnote 1: Transactions during the Famine in Ireland, Appendix III.]

The same benevolent gentleman describes the domestic scenes he saw in
Connaught, where the poor Celts were carried off in thousands:--

'We entered a cabin. Stretched in one dark corner, scarcely visible
from the smoke and rags that covered them, were three children huddled
together, lying there because they were too weak to rise, pale and
ghastly; their little limbs, on removing a portion of the covering,
perfectly emaciated; eyes sunk, voice gone, and evidently in the last
stage of actual starvation. Crouched over the turf embers was another
form, wild and all but naked, scarcely human in appearance. It stirred
not nor noticed us. On some straw, soddened upon the ground, moaning
piteously, was a shrivelled old woman, imploring us to give her
something, baring her limbs partly to show how the skin hung loose
from her bones, as soon as she attracted our attention. Above her,
on something like a ledge, was a young woman with sunken cheeks, a
mother, I have no doubt, who scarcely raised her eyes in answer to
our enquiries; but pressed her hand upon her forehead, with a look
of unutterable anguish and despair. Many cases were widows, whose
husbands had been recently taken off by the fever, and thus their only
pittance obtained from the public works was entirely cut off. In many
the husbands or sons were prostrate under that horrid disease--the
result of long-continued famine and low living--in which first the
limbs and then the body swell most frightfully, and finally burst. We
entered upwards of fifty of these tenements. The scene was invariably
the same, differing in little but the manner of the sufferers, or of
the groups occupying the several corners within. The whole number was
often not to be distinguished, until the eye having adapted itself
to the darkness, they were pointed out, or were heard, or some filthy
bundle of rags and straw was seen to move. Perhaps the poor children
presented the most piteous and heart-rending spectacle. Many were
too weak to stand, their little limbs attenuated, except where the
frightful swellings had taken the place of previous emaciation. Every
infantile expression had entirely departed; and, in some reason and
intelligence had evidently flown. Many were remnants of families,
crowded together in one cabin; orphaned little relatives taken in by
the equally destitute, and even strangers--for these poor people are
kind to each other, even to the end. In one cabin was a sister, just
dying, lying beside her little brother, just dead. I have worse than
this to relate; but it is useless to multiply details, and they are,
in fact, unfit.'

In December, 1846, Father Mathew wrote to Mr. Trevelyan, then
secretary of the treasury, that men, women, and children
were gradually wasting away. They filled their stomachs with
cabbage-leaves, turnip-tops, &c., to appease the cravings of hunger.
There were then more than 5,000 half-starved wretches from the country
begging in the streets of Cork. When utterly exhausted, they crawled
to the workhouse to die. The average of deaths in that union was then
over a hundred a week.

From December 27, in 1846, to the middle of April, in 1847, the number
of human beings that died in the Cork workhouse was 2,130! And in the
third week of the following month the free interments in the Mathew
cemetery had risen to 277--as many as sixty-seven having been buried
in one day. The destruction of human life in other workhouses of
Ireland kept pace with the appalling mortality in the Cork workhouse.
According to official returns, it had reached in April the weekly
average of twenty-five per 1,000 inmates; the actual number of deaths
being 2,706 for the week ending April 3, and 2,613 in the following
week. Yet the number of inmates in the Irish workhouses was but
104,455 on April 10.

The size of the unions was a great impediment to the working of
the poor law. They were three times the extent of the corresponding
divisions in England. In Munster and Connaught, where there was the
greatest amount of destitution, and the least amount of local agency
available for its relief, the unions were much larger than in the
more favoured provinces of Ulster and Leinster. The union of Ballina
comprised a region of upwards of half a million acres, and within
its desert tracts the famine assumed its most appalling form, the
workhouse being more than forty miles distant from some of the
sufferers. As a measure of precaution, the Government had secretly
imported and stored a large quantity of Indian corn, as a cheap
substitute for the potato, which would have served the purpose much
better had the people been instructed in the best modes of cooking it.
It was placed in commissariat, along depôts the western coast of the
island, where the people were not likely to be supplied on reasonable
terms through the ordinary channels of trade. The public works
consisted principally of roads, on which, the men were employed as
a sort of supplement to the poor law. Half the cost was a free grant
from the treasury, and the other half was charged upon the barony
in which the works were undertaken. The expense incurred under the
'Labour Rate Act, 9 and 10 Viet. c. 107,' amounted to 4,766,789 l. It
was almost universally admitted, when the pressure was over, that
the system of public works adopted was a great mistake; and it seems
wonderful that such grievous blunders could have been made with so
many able statesmen and political economists at the head of affairs
and in the service of the Government. The public works undertaken
consisted in the breaking up of good roads to level hills and fill
hollows, and the opening of new roads in places where they were not
required--works which the people felt to be useless, and at which they
laboured only under strong compulsion, being obliged to walk to them
in all weathers for miles, in order to earn the price of a breakfast
of Indian meal. Had the labour thus comparatively wasted been devoted
to the draining, sub-soiling, and fencing of the farms, connected
with a comprehensive system of arterial drainage, immense and lasting
benefit to the country would have been the result, especially as
works so well calculated to ameliorate the soil, and guard against the
moisture of the climate, might have been connected with a system of
instruction in agricultural matters of which the peasantry stood so
much in need, and to the removal of the gross ignorance which had so
largely contributed to bring about the famine. As it was, enormous
sums were wasted. Much needless hardship was inflicted on the starving
people in compelling them to work in frost and rain when they were
scarcely able to walk, and, after all the vast outlay, very few traces
of it remained in permanent improvements on the face of the country.
The system of government relief works failed chiefly through the
same difficulty which impeded every mode of relief, whether public or
private--namely, the want of machinery to work it. It was impossible
suddenly to procure an efficient staff of officers for an undertaking
of such enormous magnitude--the employment of a whole people. The
overseers were necessarily selected in haste; many of them were
corrupt, and encouraged the misconduct of the labourers. In many cases
the relief committees, unable to prevent maladministration, yielded
to the torrent of corruption, and individual members only sought to
benefit their own dependants. The people everywhere flocked to the
public works; labourers, cottiers, artisans, fishermen, farmers, men,
women, and children--all, whether destitute or not, sought for a share
of the public money. In such a crowd, it was almost impossible to
discriminate properly. They congregated in masses on the roads,
idling under the name of work, the really destitute often unheeded
and unrelieved because they had no friend to recommend them. All
the ordinary employments were neglected; there was no fishing, no
gathering of sea-weed, no collecting of manure. The men who had
employment feared to lose it by absenting themselves for any other
object; those unemployed spent their time in seeking to obtain it. The
whole industry of the country seemed to be engaged in road-making. It
became absolutely necessary to put an end to it, or the cultivation
of the land would be neglected. Works undertaken on the spur of
the moment, not because they were needful, but merely to employ the
people, were in many cases ill chosen, and the execution equally
defective. The labourers, desirous to protract their employment, were
only anxious to give as little labour as possible, in which their
overlookers or gangers in many cases heartily agreed. The favouritism,
the intimidation, the wholesale jobbing practised in many cases were
shockingly demoralising.

In order to induce the people to attend to their ordinary spring work,
and put in the crops, it was found necessary to adopt the plan of
distributing free rations. On March 20, therefore, a reduction of
twenty per cent. of the numbers employed on the works took place, and
the process of reduction went on until the new system of gratuitous
relief was brought into full operation. The authority under which this
was administered was called the 'Temporary Relief Act,' which came
into full operation in the month of July, when the destitution was at
its height, and three millions of people received their daily rations.
Sir John Burgoyne truly describes this as 'the grandest attempt
ever made to grapple with famine over a whole country.' Never in the
history of the world were so many persons fed in such a manner by the
public bounty. It was a most anxious time--a time of tremendous
labour and responsibility to those who had the direction of this vast
machinery. A member of the Board of Works thus describes the feeling
which no doubt pervaded most of those that were officially connected
with the administration of relief: 'I hope never to see such a winter
and spring again. I can truly say, in looking back upon it even now,
that it appears to me not a succession of weeks and days, but one long
continuous day, with occasional intervals of night-mare sleep. Rest
one could never have, when one felt that in every minute lost a score
of men might die.' Mr. Trevelyan was then secretary of the treasury,
and it was well that a man so enlightened, energetic, and benevolent
occupied the post at such a time. He was indefatigable in his efforts
to mitigate the calamity, and he wrote an interesting account of 'The
Irish Crisis' in the _Edinburgh Review_. Having presented the dark
side of the picture in faithfully recording the abuses that had
prevailed, it is right to give Mr. Trevelyan's testimony as to the
conduct of the relief committees during this supreme hour of the
nation's agony. 'It is a fact very honourable to Ireland that among
upwards of 2,000 local bodies to whom advances were made under this
act, there is not one to which, so far as the Government is informed,
any suspicion of embezzlement attaches.'

The following statement of the numbers receiving rations, and the
total expenditure under the act in each of the four provinces,
compared with the amount of population, and the annual value assessed
for poor-rate, may serve to illustrate the comparative means and
destitution of each province:--

|         |  Population |  Valuation |    Greatest    |   Total    |
|         |             |            |   Number of    |Expenditure |
|         |             |            |  Rations given |            |
|         |             |            |      out       |            |
|         |             |      £     |                |     £      |
|Ulster   |  2,386,373  |  3,320,133 |     346,517    |   170,508  |
|Leinster |  1,973,731  |  4,624,542 |     450,606    |   308,068  |
|Munster  |  2,396,161  |  1,465,643 |   1,013,826    |   671,554  |
|Counaught|  1,418,859  |  1,465,643 |     745,652    |   526,048  |
|         |-------------|------------|----------------|------------|
|         |  8,175,124  | 13,187,421 |   2,556,601    | 1,676,268  |

Private benevolence did wonders in this crisis. The British
Association raised and distributed 269,302 l. The queen's letter,
ordering collections in the English churches, produced 200,738 l. But
the bounty of the United States of America transcended everything. The
supplies sent across the Atlantic were on a scale unparalleled in the
history of the world.

Meetings were held in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and other
cities, in quick succession, presided over by the first men in the
country. All through the States the citizens evinced an intense
interest, and a noble generosity worthy of the great Republic.
The railway companies carried free of charge all packages marked
'Ireland.' Public carriers undertook the gratuitous delivery of
packages intended for the relief of Irish distress. Storage to any
extent was offered on the same terms. Ships of war, without their
guns, came to the Irish shores on a mission of peace and mercy,
freighted with food for British subjects. Cargo after cargo followed
in rapid succession, until nearly 100 separate shipments had arrived,
our Government having consented to pay the freight of all donations of
food forwarded from America, which amounted in the whole to 33,000 l.
The quantity of American food consigned to the care of the Society of
Friends was nearly 10,000 tons, the value of which was about 100,000
l. In addition to all this, the Americans remitted to the Friends'
Committee 16,000 l. in money. They also sent 642 packages of clothing,
the precise value of which could not be ascertained. There was a very
large amount of remittances sent to Ireland, during the famine, by
the Irish in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no records of
those remittances prior to 1848; but since that time we are enabled
to ascertain a large portion of them, though not the whole, and their
amount is something astonishing. The following statement of sums
remitted by emigrants in America to their families in Ireland, was
printed by order of Parliament:--During the years 1848, 460,180 l.;
1849, 540,619 l.; 1850, 957,087 l. 1851, 990,811 l.

The arrival of the American ships naturally excited great interest at
the various ports. 'On Monday, April 13,' writes Mr. Maguire, 'a noble
sight might be witnessed in Cork harbour--the sun shining its welcome
on the entrance of the unarmed war-ship Jamieson, sailing in under a
cloud of snowy canvas, her great hold laden with bread-stuffs for the
starving people of Ireland. It was a sight that brought tears to many
an eye, and prayers of gratitude to many a heart. It was one of those
things which one nation remembers of another long after the day of
sorrow has passed. Upon the warm and generous people to whom America
literally broke bread and sent life, this act of fraternal charity, so
gracefully and impressively offered, naturally produced a profound and
lasting impression, the influence of which is felt at this moment.'

The clergy, Protestant and Roman Catholic, almost the only resident
gentry in several of the destitute districts, worked together on the
committees with commendable zeal, diligence, and unanimity. Among the
Roman Catholic clergy, Father Mathew was at that time by far the most
influential and popular. The masses of the peasantry regarded him
as almost an inspired apostle. During the famine months, he
exerted himself with wonderful energy and prudence, first, in his
correspondence with different members of the Government, earnestly
recommending and urging the speedy adoption of measures of relief;
and next, in commending those measures to the people, dissuading the
hungry from acts of violence, and preaching submission and resignation
under that heavy dispensation of Providence. Of this there are ample
proofs in the letters published by Mr. Maguire, M.P. 'It is not to
harrow your feelings, dear Mr. Trevelyan,' he wrote, 'I tell this tale
of woe. No; but to excite your sympathy in behalf of our miserable
peasantry. It is rumoured that the capitalists in the corn and flour
trade are endeavouring to induce the Government not to protect the
people from famine, but to leave them at their mercy. I consider
this a cruel and unjustifiable interference. I am so unhappy at the
prospect before us, and so horror-struck by the apprehension of our
destitute people falling into the ruthless hands of the corn and flour
traders, that I risk becoming troublesome, rather than not lay my
humble opinions before you.' Again: 'I hail with delight the humane,
the admirable measures for relief announced by my Lord John Russell;
they have given universal satisfaction. But of what avail will all
this be, unless the wise precautions of Government will enable the
toiling workman, after exhausting his vigour during a long day to earn
a shilling, to purchase with that shilling a sufficiency of daily food
for his generally large and helpless family?' Father Mathew earnestly
pleaded for out-door relief, in preference to the workhouse,
foreseeing the danger of sundering the domestic bonds, which operate
so powerfully as moral restraints in Ireland. The beautiful picture
which he drew of the Irish peasant's home in his native land was
not too highly coloured, as applied to the great majority of the
people:--'The bonds of blood and affinity, dissoluble by death alone,
associate in the cabins of the Irish peasantry, not only the husband,
wife, and children, but the aged parents and the married couple and
their destitute relatives, even to the third and fourth degree of
kindred. God forbid that political economists should dissolve these
ties! should violate these beautiful charities of nature and the
gospel! I have often found my heart throb with delight when I beheld
three or four generations seated around the humble board and blazing
hearth; and I offered a silent prayer to the great Father of all that
the gloomy gates of the workhouse should never separate those whom
such tender social chains so fondly link together.'

The following is a tabular view of the whole amount of voluntary
contributions during the Irish famine, which deserves a permanent
record for the credit of our common humanity:--

                                             £    s. d.    £    s. d.
Local contributions officially reported
  in 1846                                               104,689 18  1
Local contributions officially reported
  in 1847                                               199,569  4  1
British  Relief  Association, total
  received                                470,041  1  2
 say five-sixths for Ireland              391,700 17  8
General Central Relief Committee,
  College Green                            83,934 17 11
 Less received from British Relief
  Association                              20,190  0  0
                                          _____________  63,744 17 11
Irish Relief Association, Sackville
  Street                                                 42,446  5  0
Relief Committee of the Society of
  Friends, London                                        42,905 12  0
Central Relief Committee of the
  Society of Friends, Dublin              198,313 15  3
 Less received from Committee of the
   Society of Friends in London,
   and interest                            39,249 19 11
                                          _____________ 159,063 15  4
Indian Relief Fund                                       13,919 15  2
National Club, London                                    19,928 12  2
Wesleyan Methodist Relief Fund,
  London                                                 20,056 14  4
Irish Evangelical Society, London                         9,264  9  9
Baptists' Relief Fund, London                             6,141 11  2
Ladies' Irish Clothing Society, London      9,533  4  0
 Less received from British Association,
  &c.                                       5,324 12 11
                                          _____________   4,208 11  1
Ladies' Relief Association for Ireland     19,584  0  9
 Less received from Irish Relief
  Association and for sales of
  manufactures                              7,659  6  7
                                          _____________  11,924 14  2
Ladies' Industrial Society for
  encouragement of labour among the
  peasantry                                 1,968 12  8
 Less received from Irish Relief
  Association                               1,500  0  0
                                          _____________     468 12  8
Belfast Ladies' Association for the
  relief of Irish Distress                                2,617  1  6
Belfast Ladies' Industrial Association
  for Connaught                                           4,615 16  1
There were also two collections in
  Belfast for general purposes, the
  amount of which exceeded                               10,000  0  0



The Earl of Granard has taken a leading part in the movement for the
settling of the land question, having presided at two great meetings
in the counties in which he has large estates, Wexford and Longford,
supported on each occasion by influential landlords. He was the first
of his class to propose that the question should be settled on the
basis of tenant-right, by legalising and extending the Ulster custom.
A reference to this custom has been frequently made recently, in
discussions on the platform and in the press. I have studied the
history of that province with care; and I have during the year 1869
gone through several of its counties with the special object of
inquiring how the tenant-right operates, and whether, and to what
extent, it affords the requisite security to the cultivators of the
soil; and it may be of some service that I should give here the result
of my enquiries.

Of the six counties confiscated and planted in Ulster, Londonderry,
as I have already remarked, was allotted to the London companies. The
aspect of their estates, is on the whole, very pleasing. In the midst
of each there is a small town, built in the form of a square, with a
market-house and a town-hall in the centre, and streets running off at
each side. There are almost invariably three substantial and handsome
places of worship--the parish church, always best and most prominent,
the presbyterian meeting-house, and the catholic chapel, with nice
manses for the ministers, all built wholly or in part by grants from
the companies.

Complaints were constantly made against the Irish Society for its
neglect of its trust, for refusing to give proper building leases, and
for wasting the funds placed at its disposal for public purposes. The
details are curious and interesting, throwing much light on the
social history of the times. The whole subject of its duties and
responsibilities, and of its anomalous powers, was fully discussed
at a meeting of the principal citizens, most of them strongly
Conservative, on the 28th of May, 1866. There had been a discussion
on the subject in the House of Commons, in which Lord Claud Hamilton,
then member for the borough, distinguished himself. Mr. Maguire
brought the Society before Parliament in an able speech. The
legislature, as well as the public, were then preoccupied with the
Church question. But, doubtless, the maiden city will make her voice
heard next session, and insist on being released from a guardian who
always acted the part of a stepmother.

The Irish Society has been before three parliamentary tribunals, the
Commissioners of Municipal Corporations for England and Wales, the
Royal Commission of Enquiry into the state of the Corporation
of London, and the Irish Municipal Commissioners. The English
Commissioners say:--'We do not know of any pretext or argument for
continuing this municipal supremacy of the Irish Society. A control
of this kind maintained at the present day by the municipality of
one town in England over another town in Ireland, appears to us
so indefensible in principle, that our opinion would not have been
changed, even if it were found that hitherto it has been conducted
with discretion and forbearance.'

The Irish commissioners affirmed 'that the Irish Society in their
original institution were created for the purpose of forwarding the
interests and objects of the Plantation, and not for mere private
gain; and that of the large income which they receive from their
possessions in Londonderry, a very inadequate and disproportionate
share is applied for the public purposes, or other objects connected
with the local interests of the districts from which the revenues of
the society are drawn.'

The corporation of Derry cannot put a bye-law in force till it
receives the approval of the Irish Society. And what is this tribunal
whose fiat must stamp the decision of the Derry corporation before it
can operate in the smallest matter within the municipal boundary?
The members are London traders, totally ignorant of Ireland. They
are elected for two years, so that they must go out by the time they
acquire any information about their trust, to make way for another
batch equally ignorant. Having everything to learn during their term
of office, if they have time or capacity to learn anything about
the matter, they must submit to the guidance of the governor, who is
elected virtually, though not formally, for life; and the members of
the Derry corporation believe him to be the autocrat of the society.
Mr. James P. Hamilton, now the assistant-barrister for Sligo, at the
great meeting of the citizens of Derry already mentioned, pronounced
the governors to be 'the most ignorant, the most incompetent, and the
most careless governors that ever were inflicted on a people.' Mr.
Hamilton quoted from the answer of the corporation of London in 1624
to the Privy Council, which required them to convey 4,000 acres to
the citizens of Derry. The corporation replied that they had allotted
1,500 acres for the use of the mayor and other civil officers. That
was either true or false. If true, by what right did they recall the
grant, and re-possess themselves of those lands? By the articles they
were bound to make quays, which were not made. They were bound to
give bog and mountain for the city common, which they never gave. The
corporation had a tract called the sheriffs mountain, but the city was
robbed of it by her cruel stepmother, the Irish Society. The society
was bound to give 200 acres for a free school, and if this had been
done Derry might have had a rich foundation, rivalling Westminster
or the Charter School. Mr. Hamilton, conservative as he is, with the
heart of a true Irishman, indignantly asks, 'Why is this national
grievance and insult continued for the profit of no one? Their very
name is an insult and a mockery--_The Governor and Assistants, London,
of the New Plantation in Ulster_! What do they govern? They don't
govern us in any sense of the word. They merely hold our property in
a dead grip, without any profit to themselves, and to our great

The city is overwhelmed with debt--debt for the new quays, debt for
the new bridge, debt for the public works of the corporation, which
has struggled to improve the city under the incubus of this alien
power, contending with debt, want of tenure, and other difficulties,
which would all have been avoided if the city had the lands which
these Londoners hold in their possession and use as their own pleasure
dictates, half the revenues being spent in the management.

Mr. William Hazlett, a magistrate of Derry, one of its ablest and
most respected citizens, stated that from 1818 to 1847 the expenses
of management were 60 per cent. The royal commissioners set it down
thus--Total expenditure, 219,898 l.; management, 133,912 l. The
law expenses were, during the same period, 40,000 l. 'This item
of itself,' says Mr. Hazlett, 'must be considered an intolerable
grievance, for it was laid out for the oppression of the people who
should have benefited by the funds so squandered in opposing the
very parties who supplied the money, with which they were themselves
harassed. If a tenant applies for a lease, and the society consents
to grant one, it is so hampered with obstructive clauses that his
solicitor objects to his signing it, and says that from its nature it
could not be made a negotiable instrument on which to raise money. The
tenant remonstrates, but the reply of the city is--"That is our form
of lease; you must comply with it or want!" If you go to law with
them, they may take you into Chancery, and fight you with your own

Mr. Hazlett gave a remarkable illustration of this, which shows
the spirit in which this body thinks proper to fulfil its duties as
steward of this property. The Devon Land Commission recommended that
leases of lives renewable for ever should be converted into fee-farm
grants, which would be a valuable boon to the tenant without any loss
to the owner. A bill founded on the recommendation was introduced to
parliament. Did the enlightened and liberal Irish Society hail
with satisfaction this wise measure of reform? On the contrary, the
governor went out of his way to oppose it. Having striven in vain,
with all the vast influence of the corporation, to have the bill
thrown out, he endeavoured to get the society exempted from its
operation. When, in spite of his efforts, the bill became law, the
governor utterly refused to act on it, and brought the matter before
the Master of the Rolls and the House of Lords. From these renewable
leases the society had an income of about 2,500 l. yearly. And what
amount did they demand--these moderate and discreet gentleman, 'The
Governor and Assistants, London, of the new Plantation of Ulster'--for
their interest in the renewable leases? Not less than 100,000 l., or
about 40 years' purchase. In the year 1765, when the city of Derry was
fast hastening to decay under this London government, the society was
induced by an increase of 37 per cent. on the rent, to grant those
renewable leases. 'And but for the granting of those leases,' said Mr.
Hazlett, 'we should have no standing-ground in this city, nor should
we even have the right to meet in this hall as we do to-day.'

Other striking facts illustrating the paternal nature of this foreign
government of the 'New Plantation' were produced by Mr. Thomas
Chambers, a solicitor who had defended the Rev. J.M. Staples in a suit
brought by the society, and which cost them 40,000 l. of the public
money to win, after dragging the reverend gentleman from one court to
another, regardless of expense. Originally, as we have seen, the city
got a grant of 4,000 acres for the support of the corporation; but
actually received only 1,500, valued then at 60 l., a year. This land
was forfeited and transferred to the bishop in the reign of Charles I.
Ultimately the bishop gave up the land and the fishery, for which the
see received, and still receives, 250 l. a year. The society got, hold
of the 1,500 acres, and refused to give them back to the city, which,
with the alienation of the sheriff's mountain, and the raising of the
city rents (in 1820) from 40 l. to 600 l. a year, left it 1,000 l. a
year worse than it had been previously. The result of this policy of
a body which was established for promoting 'civility' in Ireland, was,
that the credit of the corporation went down rapidly. Executions were
lodged against them, and all their property in quays, markets, &c.
was swept away, the bridge being saved only by the intervention of a
special act of parliament. In 1831, however, the society granted the
corporation an allowance of 700 l. When the reformed corporation came
in, and found that they were so far emancipated from the thraldom of
the London governor that they could go before parliament themselves,
the society was constrained to increase its dole to 1,200 l. a year.

Mr. Isaac Colhoun, at the meeting referred to, produced from the
accounts of the society for the previous year, published in the local
papers, the following items:--

                                                       £     s.    d.
Amount of the present increased income               11,091  17     5
Incidental expenses as per general agents' account
  for 1865                                              114   3 0-1/2
Law expenses                                            492   7    11
Salaries to general agent, deputy, vice-admiral,
  surveyor, and others                                  926  16     6
Pension to general agent                                250   0     0
Visitation expenses, 1865                               539  19     6
Surveying expenses                                       50   0     0
Salary of clerk and porter's wages                      197  10     0
Coal, gas, printing, stationery, advertisements         449  11     5
Salary to secretary and assistant governor, and
  'assistants' for attendance at 51 meetings            549   1     6
                                                      4,094   1     6

Here, then, is a trust fund amounting to about 12,000 l. a year, and
the trustees actually spend one-third in its management! And what
is its management? What do they do with the money? Mr. Pitt Skipton,
D.L., a landed proprietor, who has nothing to gain or lose by the
Irish Society, asks, 'Where is our money laid out now? Not on the
estate of the Irish Society, but on the estates of the church and
private individuals--on those of owners like myself who give their
tenants perpetuity, because it is their interest to do so. We should
wish to see the funds of the society so expended that we could see
some memorial of them. But where is there in Derry any monument wholly
erected by the society which they were not specially forced to put up
by charter, with the exception of a paltry piece of freestone within
one of the bastions bearing their own arms.'

Let us only imagine what the corporation of Derry could do in local
improvements with this 12,000 l. a year, which is really their own
property, or even with the 4,000 l. a-year squandered upon themselves
by the trustees! Some of these worthy London merchants, it seems, play
the _rôle_ of Irish landlords when travelling on the Continent, on
the strength of this Derry estate, or their _assistantship_ in its
management. 'I object,' says Mr. J.P. Hamilton, 'if I take a
little run in the summer vacation to Paris or Brussels, to meet a
greasy-looking gentleman from Whitechapel or the Minories, turned out
sleek and shining from Moses', and to be told by him that he has a
large property in _Hireland_, in a place called Derry, and that his
tenantry are an industrious, thriving set of fellows, quite remarkable
for their intelligence, but that it is all owing to his excellent
management of his property and his liberality.'

Mr. Hazlett presented a still funnier picture of the Irish
'visitations' of the members of the society, with their wives and
daughters every summer. Gentlemen in London regard it as a fine lark
to get elected to serve in the Irish Society, as that includes
a summer trip to Ireland free of expense, with the jolliest
entertainment. One gentleman, being asked by another whether he was
ever in Ireland, answered--'No, but I intend to get on the Irish
Society next year and then I'll have a trip. What kind of people are
they over there? Do they all speak Irish?'

'Oh, no; they are a very decent, civilised people.'

'Oh, I'm glad they don't speak Irish; for none of us do, of course;
but my daughter can speak French.'

'They had a great siege one time over there?'

'Oh, yes; the Derry people are proud of the siege.'

'Ah, yes, I see; happened in the reign of King John, I believe.'

But the heaviest charge laid at the door of the Irish Society is its
persistent refusal to grant proper tenures for building. By this, even
more than their reckless squandering of the revenues of a fine estate,
which is not their own, they have obstructed the improvement of the
city. They might possibly be compelled to refund the wasted property
of their ward, but they could never compensate for stunting and
crippling her as they have done. Fortunately, there is a standard by
which we are able to measure this iniquity with tolerable accuracy.
Dr. William Brown, of Derry, testified that it was the universal
conviction of the people of Derry, of all classes and denominations,
that, by the mismanagement of their trust, the Irish Society had
converted the crown grant from the blessing it was intended to be, and
which it would have been under a just administration, into something
more akin to a curse. For anything that saps the self-reliant and
independent spirit of a community must always be a curse. Within the
last hundred years Belfast was not in advance of Derry in population,
in trade, in capital, or in any other element constituting or
conducing to prosperity. Its river was not so navigable, and by no
means so well adapted to foreign, especially transatlantic trade. The
country surrounding it was not superior in soil, nor the inhabitants
in intelligence and enterprise. It had no estate, as Derry had,
granted by the crown to assist in the development of civilisation,
education, and commerce. Its prospects, then, were inferior to those
of Derry. But Belfast had the one thing, most needful of all, that
Derry had not. It had equitable building tenures. And of this one
advantage, look at the result! 'Belfast is now seven times the size of
Derry; and is in possession of a trade and a trade capital which Derry
can never hope to emulate, while smothered by the stick-in-the-mud
policy of that miserable anachronism the Irish Society.'

The London companies which have estates in the county Derry claimed
to be entitled to all the surplus revenue after the cost of management
was deducted. This was the question raised by the celebrated
'Skinners' case,' ultimately decided by the House of Lords. The effect
of the decision was, that the society was a trustee, not for the
companies but for the public objects defined in the charter and the
'articles of agreement.' Lord Langdale's language on the subject is
perfectly clear and explicit. He declared that the Irish Society have
not, 'collectively or individually,' any beneficial interest in the
estates. In a sense they are trustees. They have important duties
to perform; but their powers and duties have all reference to the
_Plantation_, whose object was purely public and political.

Adverting to this judgment, it is not Derry alone that is interested
in the abolition of the Irish Society. Its objects 'affected the
general welfare of Ireland and the whole realm.' The city of London,
in its corporate capacity, had no beneficial interest in the estates.
'The money which it had advanced was early repaid, and the power which
remained, or which was considered to remain, was, like that of the
society, an entrusted power for the benefit of the plantation and
those interested in it. The Irish Society seems to have been little,
if anything, more than the representative or instrument of the city
for the purposes of the Plantation.'

I subjoin the text of the concluding part of the judgment in the
_Skinners' Case_, the report of which fills a very bulky volume:--

Lord Langdale said: 'The mistaken views which the society may have
subsequently taken of its own situation and duties (and I think that
such mistaken views have several times been taken) do not vary the
conclusion to be deduced from the charter and the circumstances
contemporary with the grant of the first charter. I am of opinion that
the powers granted to the society and the trusts reposed in them were
in part of a general and public nature, independent of the private
benefit of the companies of London, and were intended by the crown
to benefit Ireland and the city of London, by connecting the city
of Londonderry and the town of Coleraine and a considerable Irish
district with the city of London, and to promote the general purposes
of the Plantation, not only by securing the performance of the
conditions imposed on ordinary undertakers, but also by the exercise
of powers and the performance of trusts not within the scope of those
conditions. The charter of Charles II. expressly recites that the
property not actually divided was retained for the general operation
of the Plantation.'



If there are sermons in stones I ought to have learned something from
the ruins of the castle built by Sir Arthur Hill, the founder of the
house of Downshire, in which they show the chamber occupied by William
III. while his army was encamped at Blaris Moor. This was once a royal
fort, and among the most interesting memorials of the past are the
primitive gates, long laid aside from duty, the timber gradually
mouldering away from the huge nails, which once added to their massive
strength. Hillsborough was incorporated by Charles II., and sent two
members to parliament. The Hills rose rapidly in rank and influence.
In 1717, Trevor Hill, Esq., was created Viscount of Hillsborough and
Baron Hill. In 1756, Wills, the second viscount, was made Earl of
Hillsborough, and in 1789 he became Marquis of Downshire.

Hillsborough is the most perfect picture of a feudal establishment
that I know. On one side of the little, quiet, tradeless town are the
ruins of the old castle, with its park and its fine ancestral trees,
through the thick foliage of which pierces the spire of the church,
lofty and beautiful. On the other side, and quite close to the town,
is 'the new castle'--an immense building of cut stone, in the Greek
style, two storeys high, shut in by high walls from the view of the
townsfolk. Then there is the small market-square, with the court-house
in the centre, the hotel at the top, and other buildings of a better
class on the opposite side. From the hill, which is crowned by these
buildings, descend small streets, in which dwell the inhabitants, all
more or less dependent on the lord of the manor, all cared for by him,
and many of them pensioned when disabled by age or infirmity.

There is a monument erected to the memory of the late marquis's
father on a hill to the south of the town. The view from this point is
glorious. Belfast lies a little beyond, enveloped in the smoke emitted
from its numerous tall chimneys. To the left is the range of the
Antrim highlands, continued along the coast of the Lough towards
Carrickfergus, and from which the Cave Hill stands out in bold relief,
looking down on the numerous pretty villas with which the taste
of wealthy manufacturers and merchants has adorned those pleasant
suburbs. Westward towards Lough Neagh, swelling gradually--southward
towards Armagh, and round to Newry, the whole surface of the country
gently undulating, presents a vast picture of quiet beauty, fertility,
and plenty that can be rivalled only in England. The tall crowded
stocks along the ridges of the corn-fields attested the abundance of
the crops--the rich greenness and warmth of the landscape showing how
well the ground has been drained, manured, and cultivated. The neat,
white-walled houses gleaming amidst the verdure of sheltering trees
and trimmed hedges tell the thoughtful observer that the people who
dwell in this land belong to it, are rooted in it, and ply their
industry under the happy feeling that, so far as their old landlords
are concerned, their lot is one of 'quietness and assurance for ever.'
Nowhere--even on the high ranges about Newry, where the population is
far too dense, where the patchwork cultivation creeps up the mountain
side, and the hand of industry snatches a precarious return from a
poor, cold, ungrateful soil, amidst desolating tempests and blighting
fogs--not even there did I notice the least trace of evictions or
clearances. No black remnant of a wall tells that where sheep now
browze and lambs frisk there was once a fireside, where the family
affections were cherished, and a home where happy children played in
the sunshine. This is the field of capital and enterprise; here
we have an aristocracy of wealth, chiefs of industry, each of whom
maintains an army of 'hands' more numerous than the swordsmen of Shane
O'Neill when he reigned in his castle yonder on the banks of Lough
Neagh. But here also is the aristocracy of rank--lords of ancient
lineage, descended from heroes--men who have left magnificent
monuments of their creative genius. They have not only founded great
houses, but they have laid deep and broad the foundations of a
social system to whose strength and beauty every age has been adding
something, and which now wants only one topmost stone to make it

I read on the monument to Lord Downshire the expressive motto of the
Downshire family--_Per Deum et ferrum obtinui._ No family ever made
better use of the power thus obtained. The inscription states that the
third marquis was 'alike distinguished for patriotism, rectitude of
principle, and honesty of purpose. Upholding his station with becoming
dignity, he was also mindful of the wants of others, and practised his
duties with benevolence and humility, which won the regard of every
virtuous mind, adding lustre to his exalted rank.' Although these
words were engraved upon a monument by the friends and admirers of
their object, they are perfectly true, and they would be equally true
of the late marquis.

Lord Downshire is esteemed as the best of landlords. He charges 33 per
cent. less for his land than it is worth--than the tenants would
be able to pay. Tenant-right on his property sells for an enormous
amount. He never evicts a tenant, nor even threatens to evict those
who vote against him. What he has done for the contentment and
prosperity of his tenants, with so much honour and happiness to
himself, other landlords may do with like results. The late lord, his
father, and his grandfather pursued the same course. They let their
lands at a low valuation. They encouraged improvements--they allowed
the free enjoyment of tenant-right; but they refused to allow
sub-letting or subdivision of the land. They consolidated farms only
when tenants, unable to retain small, worn-out holdings, wished to
sell their tenant-right and depart. The consequence is that there is
great competition for land on the Downshire estates. The tenant-right
sells easily for 30 l. to 40 l. an Irish acre, the rent being on an
average about 28 s. If a tenant is not able to pay his way, he is let
run on in arrears perhaps for two or three years. Then he feels the
necessity of selling; but the arrears are deducted, and also debts
that he may owe to his neighbours, before he departs with the proceeds
in his pocket.

The late marquis seems to have been almost idolised by the tenants. On
or off the estate, in town or country, I have heard nothing of him
but praise of the warmest and most unqualified kind; and, what is more
remarkable, his late agent, Mr. Filgate, was universally respected for
his fairness in the discharge of his duties. The way in which I heard
this spoken of by the people convinces me that there is nothing that
wins their confidence so much as strict impartiality, and justice,
calmly, kindly, but firmly administered. The people to whom I spoke
laid stress on the fact that Mr. Filgate listened quietly to the
statements of both sides, carefully enquired into the merits of each,
and decided accordingly. There was no favouritism, they said, no
partiality; no hasty decision in a fit of anger, or passion, or
impatience; no refusal to listen to reason.

I observed to one of the tenants, 'You admit that the rents are much
lower than on other estates, much lower than the value of the lands,
and that during the last twenty years the tenant-right has increased
in value. Suppose, then, that the marquis should raise the rents, say
twenty-five per cent., what would be the consequence? Would they pay
the increase willingly?' 'Willingly!' he exclaimed, 'no, there would
be rebellion! The late lord could do anything with the people; he
could raise the country. But you see when they bought the tenant-right
they believed they could never be robbed of the value for which they
paid by raising the rent.'

What can be better than the social picture which Harris presents of
the state of society here 130 years ago? 'The inhabitants are warm
and well clad at church, fairs, and markets. Tillage and the linen
manufacture keep them in constant employment; a busy and laborious
life prevents excess and breaches of the laws, which in no part of
the kingdom are more reverenced. The people are regular in their
attendance on public worship. Few breaches of the peace, felonies,
burglaries, or murders come before the judges at the assizes;
convictions for capital offences seldom happen. Men travel securely
by day, and are afraid of little disturbance at night to keep them
on their guard. Every man sits down securely under his vine and his
figtree, and enjoys with comfort the fruit of his honest labours.' He
ascribes in the main this prosperity to what he calls '_the spirit of
tillage_.' Until that spirit arose in Ulster, the Irish had to send to
America for their daily bread, 'which,' he says, 'to the astonishment
of all Europe, has been often our weakness.' Viewing the whole social
condition of the county, he exclaims, 'Such are the happy effects of
a well-peopled country, _extensive tillage, the linen manufacture, and
the Protestant religion_.'

In the first year of the present century, the Dublin Society (not yet
'Royal') employed 'land commissioners' to enquire into the condition
of agriculture in the several counties of Ireland. The Rev. John
Dubourdieu, rector of Annahilt, in this county, was their commissioner
for Down and Antrim. He states that the rent was then on an average
20 s. the _Irish_ acre (three equal to five English), allowing for the
mountains and bogs, which he computed at 44,658 acres. The rental of
the county he sets down at 300,000 l. The net annual value of property
assessed under the Tenement Valuation Act is now 743,869 l. This is
considerably under the letting value, it is supposed, 25 per cent. If
this be so, the county yields to the proprietors a revenue of about
1,000,000 l. a year. If we add the value of the tenant-right, and of
the fixtures of all sorts--houses, mills, roads, bridges--as well as
the movable property and stock, we may get some idea of the enormous
aggregate of wealth which the labour of man has created on this strip
of wild wooded hills, swampy plains, and bogs.

Now, what has effected this marvellous change? The tenants, with one
voice, exclaim, 'our labour, our capital, our skill, our care, and
self-denial. It was we that cleared away the woods which it was
so difficult to eradicate. It was we who drained away the bogs and
morasses, and by the help of lime and marl converted them into rich
land. It was we that built the dwelling-houses and offices. It was we
that made the fences, and planted the hedge-rows and orchards. It was
we that paid for the making of the roads and bridges. The landlords
gave us the wild country to work upon; we have done the rest. Our
industry enabled them to build their stately mansions, and we have
continued to pay to them their princely revenues. Our forefathers
came with them as settlers, that they might "plant" the country with
a loyal and industrious race of people, and they came on the assurance
that they and their children's children were to remain for ever rooted
where they were planted. They did their duty faithfully and well by
the land, by the landlords, and by the Government. Where the children
that inherited their rights failed, their interest in their farms has
been purchased dearly by others of the same race who have taken their
places. By what right, then, can they be turned out?'

It is not possible, if it were desirable, to introduce the 'high
farming system' in this county. But if possible, would it be
desirable? In the eye of a scientific agriculturist it might be better
that all those comfortable farm-houses, with the innumerable fences
crossing the landscape in every possible form, making all sorts
of mathematical figures, presenting the appearance of an immense
variegated patchwork--were levelled and removed so that the plough and
all the modern machinery might range unobstructed over hill and vale.
But assuredly it would not seem better to the philanthropist, the
Christian, or the statesman. To the chancellor of the exchequer it
would make the most serious difference; for a few herds and ploughmen
would consume but a very small portion indeed of the excisable
articles now used by the tenant farmers of this county. I have taken
some notes on the diet of this people which may be instructive.

At the beginning of the present century the small farmers were
generally weavers. There was an obvious incompatibility in the two
occupations, and the farms were neglected. Gradually this evil has
been corrected, especially since the famine. The weavers have
become cottiers, and the farmers have devoted themselves to their
agricultural operations exclusively with the more energy since
railroads have so facilitated the quick sale of produce, particularly
that sort of produce which enables the occupiers to supply the markets
with the smaller necessaries of life, and with which large farmers
would not trouble themselves. Daily labourers working from 6 A.M., to
6 P.M. in large fields with machinery cannot do the hundreds of little
matters which the family of the small holder attends to every hour of
the day, often in the night--and which give work to women and children
as well as the men--work of the most healthful character and most free
from demoralizing influences.

On a farm of fifteen to thirty acres there is constant employment of
a profitable kind for the members of a household, including women and
children. The effect of good drainage is that farming operations can
be carried on through winter, in preparing the ground and putting in
wheat and other crops early to supply the markets, when prices are
high. Oats, barley, potatoes, flax, turnips claim attention in
turn, and then come the weeding and thinning, the turf-making, the
hay-making, and all the harvest operations. It is by the ceaseless
activity of small farmers in watching over their pigs, poultry, lambs,
&c., that the markets are kept so regularly supplied, and that towns
grow up and prosper. If Down and Antrim had been divided into farms
of thousands of acres each, like Lincolnshire, what would Belfast
have become? Little more than a port for the shipping of live stock
to Liverpool and Glasgow. Before the famine, the food of the small
farmers was generally potatoes and milk three times a day, with a bit
of meat occasionally. But salt herrings were the main reliance for
giving a flavour to the potato, often 'wet' and bad. After the failure
of the potatoes, their place was supplied by oatmeal in the form
of 'stirabout.' Indian meal was subsequently found cheaper and more
wholesome. But of late years the diet of the farmers in these parts
has undergone a complete revolution. There is such brisk demand for
butter, eggs, potatoes, and other things that used to be consumed
by the family, that they have got into the habit of taking tea, with
cakes and other home-made bread twice, or even three times, a day.
The demand for tea is, therefore, enormous. There is one grocer's
establishment in Belfast which has been able to produce a mixture that
suits the taste of the people, and the quantity of tea sold by it is
a ton a day. This is the business of but one out of many houses in
Belfast. Then there is the brisk trade in such towns as Newtownards,
Lisburn, Ballymena, &c. In pastoral districts the towns languish, the
people pine in poverty, and the workhouses are in request.

In a financial point of view, therefore, it is manifestly the interest
of the state to encourage 'the spirit of tillage.' It is thus that
most will be got out of the ground, that most revenue will be raised,
and that the other elements of national power will be most fully
developed. How can this encouragement be most effectually given?
Security for the farmer is essential--of what nature should the
security be? The phrase 'unexhausted improvements' is often used.
But should the legislature contemplate, or make provision for the
exhaustion of improvements? Is the improving tenant to be told that
his remedy is to retrograde--to undo what he has done--to take out
of the land all the good he has put in it, and reduce it to the
comparative sterility in which he, or those whom he represents, first
received it? Should not the policy of the legislature rather be to
keep up improvements of the soil, and its productive power at the
highest possible point, and make it the interest of the occupier
never to relax in his exertions? The rower will not put forth all his
strength unless he believes he will win. In other races, though
many start, only one or two can receive the prize. In this race of
agricultural improvement all competitors might win ample rewards. But
will they put forth all their energies--is it in human nature that
they should--was it ever done by any people, if the prizes are to be
seized, enjoyed, and flaunted before their eyes by others, who may
be strangers, and who never helped them by their sympathy in their
toilsome course of training and self-denial? It is because the
landlords of the county Down have been so often in the same boat with
their tenants, and with so much good faith, generous feeling, and
cordial sympathy encouraged their exertions, and secured to them their
just rewards, that this great county presents to the world such a
splendid example of what industry, skill, and capital can accomplish.
Is it not possible to extend the same advantages through the whole
island without wronging the landlord or degrading the tenant?

The stranger is at first surprised to see so large a town as
Newtownards, with its handsome square, its town-hall, its wide,
regular streets, its numerous places of worship, and a population of
9,500, in a place without visible factories, and without communication
with the sea, within eight miles of Belfast, and three miles of
Bangor, which, though a seaport, is but one-fourth of the size. But
although there are no great mills sending forth volumes of smoke,
Newtownards is really a manufacturing town. Those clean, regular
streets, with their two-storey houses, uniform as a district in the
east of London, are inhabited by weavers. In each house there is one
loom at least, in most two or three, and in some as many as six. The
manufacture of woollen and cotton goods of finer qualities than can
be produced by the power-loom is carried on extensively. I saw one man
working at a piece of plaid of six colours, a colour on every shuttle,
With the help of his wife, who assisted in winding, he was able to
earn only 8 s. a week by very diligent work from early morning till
night. There is a general complaint of the depression of trade at
present. Agents, chiefly from Glasgow houses, living in the town,
supply the yarn and pay the wages. I was struck with the number of
public-houses in all the leading streets. How far they are supported
by the weavers I cannot say, but whether or not they can dispense
with the glass, they must have their tobacco, and when this luxury
is deducted, and a shilling a week for the rent of the cottage, it is
hard to understand how a family of six or eight can be supported on
the weekly wages. The trade of muslin embroidery once flourished here,
and in the pretty little neighbouring town of Comber; but it has so
fallen off that now the best hands, plying the needle unceasingly
during the long, long day, can earn only three or four shillings
a week. Before the invention of machinery for flax-spinning, the
manufacture of fine thread by hand-labour was a most profitable
employment. Wonders were wrought in this way by female fingers. The
author of 'Our Staple Manufactures' states that in 1799, out of a
pound and a half of flax, costing 10 s., a woman produced yarn of the
value of 5 l. 2 s. 6 d. Miss M'Quillan, of Comber, spun 94 hanks out
of one pound of flax, splitting the fibre with her needles to give
this degree of fineness.

  But alas! what a change to the cottage hearth!
  The song of the wheel's no more--
  The song that gladdened with guileless mirth
  The hearths and homes of the poor!

But here, and in all the small towns about, they have still the
weaving, and it is carried on to a considerable extent by persons who
hold a few acres of land, throwing aside the shuttle while putting in
the crops and doing the harvest work. Thus combining the two pursuits,
these poor people are able, by extraordinary industry, to earn their
daily bread; but they can do little more. The weavers, as a class,
appear to be feeble and faded specimens of humanity, remarkably quiet,
intelligent, and well-disposed--a law-abiding people, who shrink from
violence and outrage, no matter what may be their grievances. It is
cruel to load them too heavily with the burdens of life, and yet I am
afraid it is sometimes done, even in this county, unnecessarily and
wantonly. What I have said of the Downshire and Londonderry estates,
holds good with respect to the estates of the other large proprietors,
such as Lord Roden, the kindest of landlords, almost idolised, even by
his Catholic tenants; Lord Annesley; the trustees of Lord Kilmurray;
Sir Thomas Bateson, and others. But I am sorry to learn that even
the great county Down has a share of the two classes which supply the
worst species of Irish landlords--absentees who live extravagantly in
England, and merchants who have purchased estates to make as large a
percentage as possible out of the investment. It is chiefly, but not
wholly, on the estates of these proprietors that cases of injustice
and oppression are found. In the first class it is the agent that the
tenants have to deal with; and whether he be humane or not matters
little to them, for, whatever may be his feelings, the utmost penny
must be exacted to keep up the expensive establishments of the
landlord in England, to meet the cost of a new building, or the debt
incurred by gambling on the turf and elsewhere. Every transaction of
the kind brings a fresh demand on the agent, and even if he be not
unscrupulous or cruel, he must put on the screw, and get the money
at all hazards. I have been assured that it is quite usual, on such
estates, to find the tenantry paying the highest rent compatible with
the maintenance of bare life. There is in the county of Down a great
number of small holders thus struggling for existence. As a specimen
let us take the following case:--A man holds a dozen acres of land,
for which he pays 2 l. 10 s. per acre. He labours as no slave could be
made to work, in the summer time from five o'clock in the morning till
six in the evening. He can hardly scrape together a pound beyond the
rent and taxes. If a bad season comes, he is at starvation point: he
falls into arrears with the landlord, and he is forced by the bailiff
to sell off his small stock to pay the rent.

Without the excuse of pecuniary difficulties, the merchant landlord is
not a whit less exacting, or more merciful. He looks upon the tenants
as he would on so many head of cattle, and his sole consideration
is what is the highest penny he can make out of them. Not far from
Belfast lived a farmer who cultivated a few acres. Sickness and the
support of a widowed sister's family forced him into arrears of rent.
Ejectment proceedings were taken, and one day when he returned to his
house, he found his furniture thrown out on the road, the sister and
family evicted, and the door locked. He was offered as much money as
would take him to America, but he would not be allowed to sell the
tenant-right. Here is another case illustrative of the manner in which
that right is sometimes dealt with:--A respectable man purchased a
farm at 10 l. an acre. It was very poor land, much of it unfit for
cultivation. Immediately on getting possession a surveyor came and
added two acres to the former measurement. The incoming tenant was
at the same time informed that the rent was raised to an extent that
caused the possession to be a dead loss. On threatening to throw up
the concern, some reduction was made, which brought the rent as close
as possible to the full letting value.

I have been told by a well-informed gentleman, whose veracity I cannot
doubt, that it is quite common in the county of Down (and indeed
I have been told the same thing in other counties) to find an
_improving_ tenant paying 2 l. to 3 l. an acre for land, which he has
at his own expense brought up to a good state of cultivation,
while the adjoining land of his lazy neighbour--originally of equal
value--yields only 20 s. to 35 s. an acre. The obvious tendency of
this unjust and impolitic course on the part of landlords and agents,
is to discourage improvements, to dishearten the industrious, and to
fill the country with thriftless, desponding, and miserable occupiers,
living from hand to mouth. There are circumstances under which even
selfish men will toil hard, though others should share with them the
benefit of their labours; but if they feel that this partnership in
the profits of their industry is the result of a system of legalised
injustice, which enables unscrupulous men to appropriate at will the
whole of the profits, their moral sense so revolts against that system
that they resolve to do as little as they possibly can.

The consequence of these painful relations of landlord and tenant,
even in this comparatively happy county, is a perceptible degeneracy
in the manhood of the people. Talk to an old inhabitant, who has been
an attentive observer of his times, and he will tell you that
the vigorous and energetic, the intelligent and enterprising, are
departing to more favoured lands, and that this process has produced
a marked deterioration in the population within his memory. He can
distinctly recollect when there were more than double the present
number of strong farmers in the country about Belfast. He declares
that, with many exceptions of course, the land is getting into the
hands of a second or third class of farmers, who are little more than
servants to the small landlords. Even where there are leases, such
intelligent observers affirm that they are so over-ridden with
conditions that the farmer has no liberty or security to make any
great improvements. Were it otherwise he would not think a thirty-one
years' lease sufficient for the building of a stone house, that would
be as good at the end of a hundred years as at the end of thirty. All
the information that I can gather from thoughtful men, who are really
anxious for a change that would benefit the landlords as well as
themselves, points to the remedy which Lord Granard has suggested,
as the most simple, feasible, and satisfactory--the legalisation and
extension of the tenant-right custom. They rejoice that such landlords
now proclaim the injustice which the tenant class have so long
bitterly felt--namely, the presumption of law that all the
improvements and buildings on the farm belong to the lord of the
soil, although the notorious fact is that they are all the work of the

And here I will take the opportunity of remarking that the legislature
were guilty of strange oversight, or deliberate injustice, in
the passing of the Incumbered Estates Act. Taking advantage of an
overwhelming national calamity, they forced numbers of gentlemen into
a ruinous sale of their patrimonial estates, in order that men of
capital might get possession of them. But they made no provision
whatever for the protection of the tenants, or of the property which
those tenants had created on these estates. Many of those were tenants
at will, who built and planted in perfect and well-grounded reliance
on the honour and integrity of their old landlords. But in the
advertisements for the sale of property under the Landed Estates
Court, it was regularly mentioned as an inducement to purchasers of
the Scully type that the tenants had no leases. The result of this
combination of circumstances bearing against the cultivators of the
soil--the chief producers of national wealth--is a deep, resentful
sense of injustice pervading this class, and having for its immediate
objects the landlords and their agents. The tenants don't speak out
their feelings, because they dare not. They fear that to offend the
_office_ in word or deed is to expose themselves and their children
to the infliction of a fine in the shape of increased rent, perhaps at
the rate of five or ten shillings an acre in perpetuity.

One unfortunate effect of the distrust thus generated, is that when
enlightened landlords, full of the spirit of improvement, like Lord
Dufferin and Lord Lurgan, endeavour, from the most unselfish and
patriotic motives, to make changes in the tenures and customs on their
estates, they have to encounter an adverse current of popular opinion
and feeling, which is really too strong to be effectually resisted.
For example: In order to correct the evils resulting from the undue
competition for land among the tenants, they limit the amount per acre
which the outgoing tenant is permitted to receive; but the limitation
is futile, because the tenants understand one another, and do what
they believe to be right behind the landlord's back. The market price
is, say, 20 l. an acre. The landlord allows 10 l.; the balance finds
its way secretly into the pocket of the outgoing tenant before he
gives up possession. As a gentleman expressed it to me emphatically,
'The outgoing tenant _must_ be satisfied, and he _is_ satisfied.'
Public opinion in his own class demands it; and on no other terms
would it be considered lucky to take possession of the vacant farm.



I find from the Antrim Survey, published in 1812, that at that time
leases were general on the Hertfort estate. There were then about
3,600 farmers who held by that tenure, each holding, on an average,
twenty English acres, but many farms contained 100 acres or more. Mr.
Hugh M'Call, of Lisburn, the able author of 'Our Staple Manufactures,'
gives the following estimates of the rental. In 1726, it was 3,500
l.; in 1768, it was 12,000 l.; and for 1869, his estimate is 63,000 l.
Taking the estimate given by Dean Stannus, as 10 l. or 12 l. an acre,
the tenant-right of the estate is worth 500,000 l. at the very least,
probably 600,000 l. is the more correct figure. This vast amount of
property created by the industry and capital of the tenants, is held
at the will of an absentee landlord, who has on several occasions
betrayed an utter want of sympathy with the people who lie thus at his
mercy. There are tenant farmers on the estate who hold as much as
100 to 200 acres, with handsome houses built by themselves, whose
interest, under the custom, should amount to 1,500 l. and 2,500 l.
respectively, which might be legally swept away by a six months'
notice to quit. The owners of this property might be regarded as very
independent, but in reality, unless the spirit of martyrdom has raised
them above the ordinary feelings of human nature, they will take care
to be very humble and submissive towards Lord Hertfort's agents. If
words were the same as deeds, if professions were always consistent
with practice, the tenants would certainly have nothing to fear; for
great pains have been taken from time to time, both by the landlord
and agent, to inspire them with unbounded confidence.

In the year 1845, the tenants presented an address to Lord Hertfort,
in which they said:--'It is a proud fact, worthy to be recorded, that
the tenant-right of the honest and industrious man on your lordship's
estate is a certain and valuable tenure to him, so long as he
continues to pay his rent.' To this his lordship replied in the
following terms:--'I am happy to find that the encouragement I
have given to the improvement of the land generally has been found
effectual, and I trust that the advantage to the tenant of the
improved system of agriculture will be found to increase; and I beg
to assure you that with me the right of the improving tenant shall
continue to be as scrupulously respected as it has been hitherto by
my ancestors. Your kindness alone, independent of the natural
interest which I must ever feel as to everything connected with this
neighbourhood, affords a powerful inducement to my coming among you,
and I hope to have the pleasure of often repeating my visit.'

Twenty-four years have since elapsed, and during all that time the
marquis has never indulged himself in a repetition of the exquisite
pleasure he then enjoyed. At a banquet given in his honour on that
occasion, he used the following language, which was, no doubt,
published in the _Times_, and read with great interest in London and
Paris:--'This is one of the most delightful days I ever spent. Trust
me, I have your happiness and welfare at heart, and it shall ever
be my endeavour to promote the one and contribute to the other.' The
parting scene on this occasion must have been very touching; for,
in tearing himself away, his lordship said: 'I have now come to the
concluding toast. It is, "Merry have we met, and merry may we _soon_
meet again!"'

The tenants could scarcely doubt the genuineness of their landlord's
feelings, for on the same occasion Dean Stannus said: 'I feel myself
perfectly justified in using the term "a good landlord;" because his
lordship's express wish to me often was, "I hope you will always
keep me in such a position that I may be considered the friend of
my tenants."' But as he did not return to them, a most respectable
deputation waited upon him in London in the year 1850, to present
a memorial praying for a reduction of rent on account of the potato
blight and other local calamities which had befallen the tenantry. The
memorialists respectfully showed 'that under the encouraging auspices
of the Hertfort family, and on the faith of that just and equitable
understanding which has always existed on this estate--that _no
advantage would be taken of the tenant's improvements in adjusting
the letting value of land_, they had invested large sums of money in
buildings and other improvements on their farms, and that this, under
the name of tenant-right, was a species of sunk capital that was
formerly considered a safe repository for accumulated savings, which
could be turned to account at any time of difficulty by its sale, or
as a security for temporary advances.' In his reply, Lord Hertfort
said, 'I seek not to disturb any interest, much less do I wish to
interfere by any plan or arrangement of mine with the tenant-right
which my tenants have hitherto enjoyed, and which it is my anxious
wish to preserve to them.'

The faith and hope inspired by these assurances of the landlord were
repeatedly encouraged and strengthened by the public declarations of
his very reverend agent, Dean Stannus. At a meeting of the Killultagh
and Derryvolgie Farming Society, in 1849, he stated that he had great
pleasure in subscribing to almost everything said by Mr. M'Call.
He had taken great pains to convince the late Lord Hertfort that
tenant-right was one of the greatest possible boons, _as well to the
landlords themselves_ as to the tenants. So advantageous did he regard
it to the interest of Lord Hertfort and the tenants, that if it were
not preserved he would not continue agent to the estate. Tenant-right
was his security for the Marquis of Hertfort's rent, and he would not
ask a tenant to relinquish a single rood of land without paying him at
the rate of 10 l. to 12 l. an acre for it.

Firmly believing in the statements thus emphatically and solemnly made
to them from time to time, that on this estate tenant-right was as
good as a lease, the tenants went on building houses, and making
permanent improvements in Lisburn and elsewhere, depending on this
security. And, indeed, the value of such security could scarcely be
presented under more favourable circumstances. The absentee landlord
receiving such a princely revenue, and absorbed in his Parisian
pursuits, seemed to leave everything to his agent. The agent was
rector of the parish of Lisburn, a dignitary of the Church, a
gentleman of the highest social position, with many excellent points
in his character, and pledged before the world, again and again,
to respect rigidly and scrupulously the enormous property which
a confiding tenantry had invested in this estate. If, under these
circumstances, the security of tenant-right fails, where else can it
be trusted? If it be proved, by open and public proceedings, that on
the Hertfort estate, the distinctly recognised property of the tenant
is liable to be seized and wrested from him by the agent, it is clear
to demonstration that such property absolutely requires the protection
of law. This proof, I am sorry to say, is forthcoming. Let my readers
reflect for a moment on what might have been done for Lisburn and the
surrounding country if the Marquis of Hertfort had rebuilt his castle
and resided among his people. What an impulse to improvement of every
kind, what employment for tradesmen of every class, what business for
shops might have resulted from the local expenditure of 50,000 l. or
60,000 l. a year! What public buildings would have been erected--how
local institutions would have flourished! The proverb that 'absence
makes the heart grow fonder' does not apply to the relations of
landlord and tenant. But there is another proverb that applies
well--'Out of sight, out of mind.' Of this I shall now give two or
three illustrations. Some years ago, it was discovered that no
lease of the Catholic chapel at Lisburn could be found, and in the
recollection of the oldest member of the congregation no rent had been
paid. Kent, however, was now demanded, and the parish priest agreed
to pay a nominal amount, which places the congregation at the mercy
of the office. Ground was asked some time ago to build a Presbyterian
Church, but it was absolutely refused. A sum of money was subscribed
to build a literary institute, but, though a sort of promise was given
for ground to build it on, it was never granted, and the project fell
through. Lord Hertfort spends no portion of his vast income where it
is earned. His estate is like a farm to which the produce is never
returned in the shape of manure, but is all carted off and applied to
the enrichment of a farm elsewhere. One might suppose that where such
an exhausting process has been going on for so long a time an effort
would be made at some sort of compensation, especially at periods of
calamity. Yet, when the weavers on his estate were starving, owing to
the cotton famine during the American war, his lordship never replied
to the repeated applications made to him for help to save alive those
honest producers of his wealth. The noble example of Lord Derby and
other proprietors in Lancashire failed to kindle in his heart a spark
of humanity, not to speak of generous emulation. The sum of 3,000 l.
was raised in Lisburn, and by friends in Great Britain and America,
which was expended in saving the people from going _en masse_ to
the workhouse. Behold a contrast! While the great peer, whose family
inherited a vast estate for which they never paid a shilling, was deaf
to the cries of famishing Christians, whom he was bound by every tie
to commiserate and relieve, an American citizen, who owed nothing
to Ireland but his birth--Mr. A.T. Stewart, of New York--sent a ship
loaded with provisions, which cost him 5,000 l. of his own money, to
be distributed amongst Lord Hertfort's starving tenants, and on
the return of the ship he took out as many emigrants as he could
accommodate, free of charge. The tourist in Ireland is charmed with
the appearance of Lisburn--the rich and nicely cultivated town parks,
the fields white as snow with linen of the finest quality, the busy
mills, the old trees, the clean streets, the look of comfort in the
population, the pretty villas in the country about. Mrs. S.C. Hall
says that there is, probably, no town in Ireland where the happy
effects of English taste and industry are more conspicuous than at
Lisburn. 'From Drumbridge and the banks of the Lagan on one side,
to the shores of Lough Neagh on the other, the people are almost
exclusively the descendants of English settlers. Those in the
immediate neighbourhood of the town were mostly Welsh, but great
numbers arrived from the northern English shires, and from the
neighbourhood of the Bristol Channel. The English language is perhaps
spoken more purely by the populace of this district than by the same
class in any other part of Ireland. The neatness of the cottages, and
the good taste displayed in many of the farms, are little, if at all,
inferior to aught that we find in England, and the tourist who visits
Lough Neagh, passing through Ballinderry, will consider it to have
been justly designated _the garden of the north._ The multitude of
pretty little villages, scattered over the landscape, each announcing
itself by the tapering tower of a church, would almost beguile the
traveller into believing that he was passing through a rural district
in one of the midland counties of England.'

We have seen that after General Conway got this land, it was described
by an English traveller as still uninhabited--'all woods and moor.'
Who made it the garden of the north? The British settlers and their
descendants. And why did they transform this wilderness into fruitful
fields? Because they had permanent tenures and fair rents. The rental
150 years ago was 3,500 l. per annum. Allow that money was three times
as valuable then as it is now, and the rental would have been about
10,500 l. It is now nearly six times that amount. By what means was
the revenue of the landlord increased? Was it by any expenditure of
his own? Did any portion of the capital annually abstracted from
the estate return to it, to fructify and increase its value? Did the
landlord drain the swamps, reclaim the moors, build the dwellings and
farmhouses, make the fences, and plant the orchards? He did nothing
of the kind. Nor was it agricultural industry alone that increased his
revenue. He owes much of the beauty, fertility, and richness of his
estate to the linen manufacture, to those weavers to the cries of
distress from whose famishing children a few years ago the most noble
marquis resolutely turned a deaf ear.

But, passing from historical matters to the immediate purpose of our
enquiry, let it suffice to remark that from Lisburn as a centre the
linen trade in all its branches--flax growing, scutching, spinning,
weaving and bleaching--spread over the whole of the Hertfort estate,
giving profitable employment to the tenants, circulating money,
enabling them to build and improve and work the estate into the
rich and beautiful garden described by Mrs. Hall;--all this work
of improvement has been carried on, all or nearly all the costly
investments on the land have been made, without leases and in
dependence on tenant-right. We have seen what efforts were made by
landlord and agent to strengthen the faith of the tenants in this
security. We have seen also from the historical facts I have adduced
the sort of people that constitute the population of the borough of
Lisburn. If ever there was a population that could be safely entrusted
with the free exercise of the franchise it is the population of
this town--so enlightened, so loyal, so independent in means, such
admirable producers of national wealth, so naturally attached to
British connection. Yet for generations Lisburn has been a pocket
borough, and the nominee of the landlord, often a total stranger, was
returned as a matter of course. The marquis sent to his agent a _congé
d'élire_, and that was as imperative as a similar order to a dean
and chapter to elect a bishop. In 1852 the gentleman whom the Lisburn
electors were ordered to return was Mr. Inglis, the lord advocate of
Scotland. They, however, felt that the time was come when the borough
should be opened, and they should be at liberty to exercise their
constitutional rights. A meeting of the inhabitants was therefore
held, at which Mr. R. Smith was nominated as the popular candidate.
The contest was not political; it was simply the independence of the
borough against the _office_. Dean Stannus, as agent to an absentee
landlord, was the most powerful personage in the place, virtually
the lord of the manor. Before the election that gentleman published a
letter in a Belfast paper contradicting a statement that had
appeared to the effect that Lord Hertfort took little interest in the
approaching contest, in which letter he said: 'I have the best reason
for knowing that his lordship views with intense interest what is
passing here, and that he is most anxious for the return of Mr.
Inglis, feeling that the election of such a representative (which I am
now enabled to say is _certain_) will do much credit to the borough of
Lisburn, and that this _unmeaning_ contest will, at all events, among
its other effects, prove to his lordship whom he may regard as his
_true_ friends in his future relations with this town.'

Notwithstanding this warning, so significantly emphasized, the
candidate whom the voters selected as their real representative was
returned. Now no one can blame the marquis or his agent for wishing
that the choice had fallen upon Mr. Inglis. So far as politics were
concerned, the contest _was_ unmeaning; but so far as the rights of
the people and the loyal working of the British constitution were
concerned, the contest was full of meaning, and if the landlord and
his agent respected the constitution more than their own personal
power they would have frankly acquiesced in the result, feeling that
this Protestant and Conservative constituency had conscientiously
done its duty to the state. But who could have imagined, after all
the solemnly recorded pledges I have quoted, that they would have
instantly resolved to punish the independent exercise of the franchise
by inflicting an enormous and crushing fine amounting to nothing less
than the whole tenant-right property of every adverse voter who had
not a lease! Immediately after the election 'notices to quit' were
served upon every one of them. In consequence of this outrageous
proceeding a public meeting was held, at which a letter from John
Millar, Esq., a most respectable and wealthy man (who was unable to
attend) was read by the secretary. He said: 'I have at various times
purchased places held from year to year, relying on the custom of the
country, and on the declared determination of the landlord and his
agent to respect such customary rights of property, for the continued
possession of it. I have besides taken under the same landlord several
fields as town parks, which were in very bad order. These fields I
have drained and very much improved. I have always punctually paid the
rent charged for the several holdings, and, I think I may venture to
say, performed all the duties of a good tenant. At the last election,
however, I exercised my right as a citizen of a free country,
by giving my votes at Hillsborough and Lisburn in favour of the
tenant-right candidates, without reference to the desires or orders of
those who have no legal or constitutional right to control the use of
my franchise. I have since received from the office a notice to quit,
desiring me to give up possession of all my holdings, as tenant
from year to year, in the counties of Down and Antrim, without any
intimation that I shall receive compensation, and without being able
to obtain any explanation of this conduct towards me except by popular
rumour.' At the same meeting Mr. Hugh M'Call said that he had looked
over some documents and found that the individuals in Lisburn who
had received notices to quit held property to the value of 3,000 l.,
property raised by themselves, or purchased by them with the sanction
of the landlord. In one case the agent himself went into the premises
where buildings were being erected, and suggested some changes. In
fact the improvements were carried out under his inspection as an
architect. Yet he served upon that gentleman a notice to quit. Some
of the tenants paid the penalty for their votes by surrendering their
holdings; others contested the right of eviction on technical points,
and succeeded at the quarter sessions. One of the points was, as
already mentioned, that a dean and rector could not be legally a land
agent at the same time. It was, indeed, a very ugly fact that the
rector of the parish should be thus officially engaged, not only in
nullifying the political rights of his own Protestant parishioners,
but in destroying their tenant-right, evicting them from their
holdings, which _they_ believed to be legal robbery and oppression,
accompanied by such flagrant breach of faith as tended to destroy all
confidence between man and man, and thus to dissolve the strongest
bonds of society. Sad work for a dignitary of the church to be engaged

In April, 1856, there was another contested election. On that
occasion the marquis wrote to a gentleman in Lisburn that he would not
interfere 'directly or indirectly to influence anybody.' Nevertheless,
notices to quit, signed by Mr. Walter L. Stannus, assistant and
successor to his father, were extensively served upon tenants-at-will,
though it was afterwards alleged that they were only served as matters
of form. But what, then, did they mean? They meant that those who
had voted against the office had, _ipso facto, forfeited their
tenant-right property._ Many other incidents in the management of the
estate have been constantly occurring more recently, tending to show
that the most valuable properties created by the tenants-at-will are
at the mercy of the landlord, and that tenant-right, so called, is
not regarded by him as a matter of _right_ at all, but merely as a
_favour_, to be granted to those who are dutiful and submissive to the
office in all matters, political and social. For instance, one farmer
was refused permission to sell his tenant-right till he consented to
sink 100 l. or 200 l. in the shares of the Lisburn and Antrim railway,
so that, as he believed, he was obliged to throw away his money in
order to get his right.

The enormous power of an office which can deal with property amounting
to more than half a million sterling, in such an arbitrary manner,
necessarily generates a spirit of wanton and capricious despotism,
except where the mind is very well regulated and the heart severely
disciplined by Christian duty. Of this I feel bound to give the
following illustration, which I would not do if the fact had not been
made public, and if I had not the best evidence that it is undeniable.
George Beattie, jun., a grocer's assistant in Lisburn, possessed a
beautiful greyhound which he left in charge of George Beattie, sen.,
his uncle, on departing for America. This uncle possessed a farm on
the Hertfort estate, the tenant-right of which he wanted to sell.
Having applied to Mr. Stannus for permission, the answer he received
was that he would not be allowed to sell until the head of the
greyhound was brought to the office. The tenant remonstrated and
offered to send the dog away off the estate to relatives, but to no
effect. He was obliged to kill the greyhound, and to send its head in
a bag to Lord Hertfort's office. It was a great triumph for the agent.
What a pretty sensational story he had to tell the young ladies in the
refined circles in which he moves. How edifying the recital must have
been to the peasantry around him! How it must have exalted their ideas
of the civilising influence of land agency. 'It is quite a common
thing,' says a gentleman well acquainted with the estate, 'when a
tenant becomes insolvent, that his tenant-right is sold and employed
to pay those of his creditors who may be in favour. I know a lady who
made application to have a claim against a small farmer registered in
the office, which was done, and she now possesses the security of the
man's tenant-right for her money.'

The case of the late Captain Bolton is the last illustration I
shall give in connection with this estate. Captain Bolton resided in
Lisburn, and he was one of the most respected of its inhabitants.
He was the owner of four houses in that town, a property which he
acquired in this way:--The site of two of them was obtained by the
late James Hogg, in lieu of freehold property surrendered. On this
ground, his son, Captain Bolton's uncle, built the two houses entirely
at his own expense. Two other houses, immediately adjoining, came into
the market, and he purchased the out-going tenant's 'good-will' for
a sum of about 40 l. These houses were thatched, and in very bad
condition. He repaired them and slated them, and thus formed a nice
uniform block of four workers' houses. Captain Bolton inherited these
from his uncle and retained uninterrupted possession till 1852, when
he voted for Johnston Smyth at the election of that date. Immediately
afterwards he received a notice to quit, an ejectment was brought in
due time, the case was dismissed at the quarter sessions, an appeal
was lodged, but it was again dismissed at the assizes. Undaunted by
these two defeats, the persistent agent served another notice to quit.
The captain was a man of peace, whose nerves could not stand such
perpetual worrying by litigation, and he was so disgusted with
the whole affair that he tied up the keys, and sent them to Lord
Hertfort's office. In his ledger that day he made the following
entry:--'Plundered, this 20th December 1854, by our worthy agent to
the marquis, because I voted for Smyth and the independence of the

The houses remained in the hands of the agent till the next election,
when Captain Bolton voted for Mr. Hogg, the office candidate.
The conscientious old gentleman--as good a conservative as Dean
Stannus--voted from principle in both cases and not to please the
agent or anyone else. The agent, however, thought proper to regard
it as a penitent act, and as the tenant had ceased to be naughty,
and had, it was assumed, shown proper deference to his political
superiors, he received his houses back again, retaining the possession
of them till his death. The profit rent of the houses is 20 l. a year.
Either this rent belonged to Captain Bolton or to Lord Hertfort. If
to Captain Bolton, by what right did Dean Stannus take it from him and
give it to the landlord? If to the landlord, by what right did Dean
Stannus take it from Lord Hertfort and give it to Captain Bolton?

However, the latter gentleman having no doubt whatever, first or last,
that the property was his own, bequeathed the houses to trustees
for the support of a school which he had established in Lisburn. The
school, it appears, had been placed in connection with the Church
Education Society, and as it did not go on to his satisfaction, he
placed it in connection with the National Board of Education, having
appointed as his trustees John Campbell, Esq., M.D., William Coulson,
Esq., and the Rev. W.J. Clarke, Presbyterian minister, all of Lisburn.
Dr. Campbell died soon after, and Mr. Coulson refused to act, so that
the burden of the trust fell upon Mr. Clarke, who felt it to be
his duty to carry it out to the best of his ability. Dean Stannus,
however, was greatly dissatisfied with the last will and testament of
Captain Bolton. Yet the dying man had no reason to anticipate that
his affectionate pastor would labour with all his might to abolish
the trust. Dean Stannus paid the captain a visit on his deathbed, and
while administering the consolations of religion he seemed moved
even to tears. To a friend who subsequently expressed doubt, the
simple-minded old Christian said: 'I will trust the dean that he will
do nothing in opposition to my will. He was here a few days ago and
wept over me. He loves me, and will carry out my wishes.' The captain
died in April, 1867. He was scarcely cold in his grave when the agent
of Lord Hertfort took proceedings to eject his trustees, and deprive
the schools of the property bequeathed for their support. Not content
with this, he took proceedings to get possession of the schoolhouse
also, deeming it a sufficient reason for this appropriation of another
man's property, this setting aside of a will, this abolition of
a trust, that, in his opinion, the schools ought to be under the
patronage of the rector, and in connection with the Church Education
Society. He had a perfect right to think and say this, and it might
be his conscientious conviction that the property would be thus better
employed; but he ought to know that the end does not sanctify the
means; that he had no right to substitute his own will for that of
Captain Bolton, and that he had no right to take advantage of the
absence of an act of parliament to possess himself of the rightful
property of other people. Unfortunately, too, he was a judge in his
own case, and he did not find it easy to separate the rector of the
parish from the agent of the estate. It is a significant fact that
when his son, Mr. Stannus, handed his power of attorney to Mr. Otway,
the assistant-barrister, that gentleman refused to look at it, saying,
'I have seen it one hundred times;' and the Rev. Mr. Clarke, while
waiting in the court for the case to come on, observed that all the
ejectment processes were at the suit of the Marquis of Hertfort. The
school-house was built by Mr. Bolton, at his own expense twenty-eight
years ago, and he maintained it till his death. The Rev. W.J. Clarke,
the acting trustee, bravely defended his trust and fought the battle
of tenant-right in the courts till driven out by the sheriff. He
was then called on to perform the same duty with regard to the
school-house. He has done it faithfully and well, and deserves the
sympathy of all the friends of freedom, justice, and fair dealing.
'I shall never accept a trust,' he says, in a letter to the _Northern
Whig_--'I shall never accept a trust, and permit any man, whether
nobleman, agent, or bailiff, to alienate that trust, without appealing
to the laws of my country; and if the one-sidedness of such laws shall
enable Dean and Mr. Stannus to confiscate this property, and turn
it from the purpose to which benevolence designed it, then, having
defended it to the last, I shall retire from the field satisfied that
I have done my duty to the memory of the dead and the educational
interests of the living.' Nor can we be surprised at the strong
language that he uses when he says: 'The history of the case rivals,
for blackness of persecution, anything that has happened in the north
of Ireland for many years. But such a course of conduct only recoils
on the heads of those who are guilty of it, and it shall be so in this
case. The Marquis of Hertfort will not live always, and the power of
public opinion may be able to reach his successor, and be felt even in

Dean Stannus, in his evidence before the Devon commission, stated that
only a small portion of the estate was held by lease. The leases were
obtained in a curious way. In 1823 a system of fining commenced. If a
tenant wanted a lease he was required to pay in cash a fine of 10 l.
an acre, which was equal to an addition of ten shillings an acre to
the rent for twenty years, not counting the interest on the money thus
sunk in the land. Yet, such was the desire of the tenants to have a
better security than the tenant-right custom, always acknowledged on
the estate, that 'every man who had money took advantage of it.' Mr.
Gregg, the seneschal of the manor, gave an illustration of the working
of this fining system. A tenant sold his farm of fourteen acres for
205 l., eight of the fourteen acres being held at will. The person who
bought the farm was obliged to take a lease of the eight acres, and
to pay a proportional fine in addition to the sum paid for the
tenant-right. Dean Stannus said 'he would wish to see the tenant-right
upheld upon the estate of Lord Hertfort, as it always had been. It is
that,' he said, 'which has kept up the properties in the north over
the properties in other parts of Ireland. It is a security for the
rent in the first instance, and reconciles the tenants to much of what
are called grievances. If you go into a minute calculation of
what they have expended, they are not more than paid for their
expenditure.' It transpired in the course of the examination that a
man who had purchased tenant-right, and paid a fine of 10 l. an acre
on getting a lease, would have to pay a similar fine over again when
getting the lease renewed. The result of these heavy advances was that
the middle-class farmers lived in constant pecuniary difficulties.
They were obliged to borrow money at six per cent. to pay the rent,
but they borrowed it under circumstances which made it nearly 40 per
cent., for it was lent by dealers in oatmeal and other things, from
whom they were obliged to purchase large quantities of goods at such a
high rate that they sold them again at a sacrifice of 33 per cent.

Mr. Joshua Lamb, another witness, stated that the effect of the fining
system had been to draw away a great deal of the accumulated capital
out of the hands of the tenantry, as well as their anticipated savings
for years to come, by which the carrying out of improved methods of
agriculture was prevented. Still, the existence of a lease for 31
years doubled the value of the tenant-right. This witness made a
remarkable statement. With respect to this custom he said: The 'effect
of this arrangement, when duly observed, is to prevent all disputes,
quarrels, burnings, and destruction of property, so common in those
parts of Ireland where this practice does not prevail. Indeed, so
fully are farmers aware of this, that very few, except the most
reckless, would venture on taking a farm without obtaining the
outgoing tenant's "good-will." Such a proceeding as taking land
"over a man's head," as it is termed, is regarded here as not merely
dishonourable, but as little better than robbery, and as such held
in the greatest detestation.' He added that the justice of this
arrangement was obvious--'because all the buildings, planting, and
other improvements, being entirely at the tenant's expense, he has a
certain amount of capital sunk in the property, for which, if he
parts with the place, he expects to be repaid by the sale of the
tenant-right. He knew no case in the county in which the tenant, or
those from whom he purchased, had made no improvements.'

The first marquis occasionally visited the estate, and was proud of
the troops of yeomanry and cavalry which had been raised from his
tenantry. The second marquis, who died in 1822, was only once in
that part of Ireland. The third marquis--he of Prince Regent
notoriety--never set foot on the property; and the present, who has
been reigning over 140 townlands for nearly thirty years, has never
been among his subjects except during a solitary visit of three weeks
in October, 1845, when, it is said, he came to qualify for his ribbon
(K.G.) that he might be able to say to the prime minister that he
was a resident landlord. He has resided almost entirely in Paris,
cultivating the friendship of Napoleon instead of the welfare of the
people who pay him a revenue of 60,000 l. a year. Bagatelle, his
Paris residence, has, it is said, absorbed Irish rents in its
'improvements', till it has been made worth three quarters of a
million sterling. If the residence cost so much, fancy may try to
conceive the amount of hard-earned money squandered on the luxuries
and pleasures of which it is the temple--the most Elysian spot in the
Elysian fields.

The following curious narrative appeared in a Belfast newspaper, and
was founded on a speech made by Dean Stannus at a public meeting.

The venerable Dean of Ross and his son, Mr. W.T. Stannus, had been
deputed to go to Paris to wait on Lord Hertfort, and urge him to
assist in the expense of finishing the Antrim Junction Railway. The
dean is in his eighty-first year; fifty-one years of his life have
been spent in the management of the Hertfort estate, and whatever
difference of opinion may exist as to his arrangements with the
tenantry, every one who knows anything of the affair must admit that
there never existed a more faithful representative of a landowner. On
arriving in Paris he found the marquis ill, so much so that neither
the dean nor his son could get an interview. For three days the
venerable gentleman danced attendance on his chief, and on Monday the
fourth attempt was made, the dean sent up his name, and had a reply
that 'the marquis was too ill to see anyone.' Next day, however, the
marquis condescended to receive his agent, and the subject of the
railway was introduced. The dean told him that Lord Erne had given
200,000 l. towards the railway projects on his property--that Lords
Lucan, Annesley, and Lifford had contributed largely, and that Lord
Downshire had been exceedingly liberal in promoting lines on his
estate. But all was vain. The noble absentee, who drains about 60,000
l. a year from his Irish property, and who often pays 5,000 l. for
a picture, refused to lend 15,000 l. to aid in finishing a railway,
which runs for three-fourths of the mileage through his own estate.
During the interview Mr. W.T. Stannus urged on the marquis that the
investment would be the best that could be made, as preference shares
paying five per cent. would be allocated to him as security for the
amount. All arguments and entreaties, however, were lost on the noble
invalid. Even the appeal of the old gentleman who, for more than half
a century, had managed the estate so advantageously for the successive
owners of that splendid property, was made in vain. 'You never refused
me anything before,' urged the dean, 'and I go away in very bad
spirits.' What a wonderful history lies in this episode of Irish
landlordism. Here is an unmarried nobleman whose income from
investments in British and French securities is said to exceed 30,000
l. a year, besides the immense revenue of his English and Irish
estates, and yet he refuses to part with 15,000 l. towards aiding in
the construction of a railway on his own property.



Among the undertakers in the county of Armagh were the two Achesons,
Henry and Archibald, ancestors of Lord Gosford, who founded Market
Hill, Richard Houlston, John Heron, William Stanbowe, Francis
Sacheverell, John Dillon, John Hamilton, Sir John Davis, Lord Moore,
Henry Boucher, Anthony Smith, Lieutenant Poyntz, and Henry M'Shane

In connection with each of these settlements Pynar uses the phrase,
'I find planted and estated.' What he means is more fully explained
in his reference to the precinct of Fews, allotted to Scottish
undertakers, where Henry Acheson had obtained 1,000 acres. The
surveyor says: 'I find a great number of tenants on this land: but not
any that have any estates but by promise, and yet they have been many
years upon the land. There are nominated to me two freeholders and
seventeen leaseholders, all which were with me, and took the oath of
supremacy, and petitioned unto me that they might have their leases,
the which Mr. Acheson seemed to be willing to perform it unto them
presently. These are able to make thirty men with arms. Here is great
store of tillage.' The whole of the reports indicate that the Crown
required of the undertakers two things. First, that they should
themselves reside on the land, that they should build strong houses,
fortified with bawns, and keep a certain number of armed men for
the defence of the settlement. Secondly, that the English and Scotch
settlers who were expected to reclaim the land and build houses, were
to have 'estates' in their farms, either as freeholders or lessees.
The grants were made to the undertakers on these conditions--they
should be resident, and they should have around them a number of
independent yeomanry to defend the king when called upon to do so.
Everything connected with the plantation gives the idea of permanent
tenures for the settlers. A curious fact is mentioned about Sir John
Davis, who had been so active in bringing about the plantation. He
obtained a grant for 500 acres. 'Upon this,' says Pynar, 'there is
nothing at all built, nor so much as an English tenant on the land.'
It seems his tenants were all of the class for whose extirpation
he pleaded, as weeds that would choke the Saxon crop. Henry M'Shane
O'Neill got 1,000 acres at Camlagh, 'but he being lately dead, it was
in the hands of Sir Toby Caulfield, who intended to do something upon
it, for as yet there was nothing built.' Sir Toby was the ancestor of
the Earl of Charlemont, always one of the best landlords in Ulster.

It is gratifying to find that both the undertakers and the original
tenants are still fairly represented--a considerable number of the
former having founded noble houses, and the latter having multiplied
and enriched the land to such an extent that, though the population
is dense and the farms are generally very small, they are the most
prosperous and contented population in the kingdom. Leases were common
in this county at the close of the last century, but the terms were
short--twenty-one years and one life. Some had leases for thirty-one
years or three lives, and there were some perpetuities. Land was
then so valuable that when a small estate came into the market--large
estates hardly ever did--they brought from twenty-five to thirty
years' purchase. The large tracts of church land, which are now among
the richest and most desirable in the country, presented at the
close of the last century, a melancholy contrast to the farms that
surrounded them. The reason is given by Sir Charles Coote. It is most
instructive and suggestive at the present time. He says, 'It is very
discouraging for a wealthy farmer to have anything to do with church
lands, as his improvements cannot even be secured to him during his
own life, or the life of his landlord, but he may at any time be
deprived of the fruits of his industry, by the incumbent changing his
living, as his interest then terminates.' This evil was remedied first
by making the leases renewable, on the payment of fines, and, in our
own time, an act was passed enabling the tenants to convert their
leaseholds into perpetuities. The consequence is, that the church
lands now present some of the finest features in the social landscape,
occupied by a class of resident gentry, an essential link, in any
well-organised society, between the people and the great proprietors.
The Board of Trinity College felt so strongly the necessity of giving
fixed tenures, if permanent improvements were to be effected on their
estates, that, without waiting for a general measure of land reform,
they obtained, in 1861, a private act of parliament giving them power
to grant leases for ninety-nine years. 'The legislature,' says Dr.
Hancock, 'thus gave partial effect in the case of one institution to
the recommendation which the Land Occupation Commissioners intended to
apply to all estates in the hands of public boards in Ireland.'

Armagh was always free from middlemen. The landlord got what Sir
Charles Coote calls a rack rent from the occupying tenant, and it
was his interest to divide rather than consolidate farms, because the
linen trade enabled the small holder to give a high rent, while
the custom of tenant-right furnished an unfailing security for its

The country, when seen from an elevation, is one continuous patchwork
of corn, potatoes, clover, and other artificial grasses. Wonders
are wrought in the way of productiveness by rotation of crops and
house-feeding. Cattle are not only fattened much more rapidly than on
the richest grazing land, but large quantities of the best manure are
produced by the practice of house-feeding. The more northern portions
of the county, bordering on Down and Lough Neagh, and along the banks
of the rivers Bann and Blackwater, are naturally rich, and have been
improved to the highest degree by ages of skilful cultivation. But
other parts, particularly the barony of Fews, embracing the high
lands stretching to the Newry mountains, and bordering on the County
Monaghan, were, about the close of the last century, nearly all
covered with heather, and absolutely waste. Sir Charles Coote
remarked, in 1804, that it had been then undergoing reclamation.
Within the last fifteen years the land had doubled in value, and was
set at the average rate of 16 s. an acre. Mr. Tickell, referring to
this county, remarked that the Scotch and English settlers chiefly
occupied the lowland districts, and that the natives retired to this
poor region, retaining their old language and habits; and he was
occasionally obliged to swear interpreters where witnesses or parties
came from the Fews, which were 'very wild, and very unlike other parts
of the county of Armagh.'

Now let us see what the industry of the people has done in that wild
district. The farms are very small, say from three to ten English
acres. They have been so well drained, cleared, sub-soiled, and
manured, that the occupier is able to support on one acre as many
cattle as on three acres when grazed; while affording profitable
employment to the women and children. Great labour has been bestowed
in taking down crooked and broad fences. Every foot of ground is
cultivated with the greatest care, and in the mountain districts,
patches of land among rocks, inaccessible to horses, are tilled by the
hand. In many cases in the less exposed districts, two crops in the
year are obtained from the same ground, viz., winter tares followed by
turnips or cabbages, and rape followed by tares, potatoes, turnips,
or cabbages. These crops are succeeded by grain or flax the next year,
with which clover is sown for mowing and stall-feeding, yielding two
or three cuttings. The green crops are so timed as to give a full
supply for house-feeding throughout the year. Nothing is neglected by
those skilful and thrifty farmers; the county is famous for orchards,
and when I was in the city of Armagh, last autumn, I saw in the market
square almost as many loads of apples as of potatoes.

The connection of large grazing farms with pauperism, as cause and
effect, has not received sufficient attention from the friends
of social progress. I resolved last year to test this matter by a
comparison. We have at present no check upon the legally enforced
depopulation of this country except the _interest_ of the landlords,
or what they imagine to be their interest. It is well that the
question should be determined whether it is really for the benefit
of the owners of the land that they should clear it of Christians and
occupy it with cattle--in other words, whether Christians or cattle
will pay more rent and taxes. I omit all higher considerations,
because some of the most philanthropic and enlightened defenders of
the present land system have defended it on this low ground. In order
to make the test complete and unexceptionable, I have selected a
comparatively poor district for tillage, and one of the richest I
could find for grazing, giving all possible natural advantages to
Scullyism. But the test would not be fair unless the occupiers of the
poorer land had a tolerably secure tenure so long as they paid the
highest rent that a reasonable agent could impose. I thought also that
possible objections would be obviated if the tenantry were destitute
of 'the fostering care of a resident landlord.' Therefore, instead
of selecting the tenants of Lord Downshire, or Lord Roden, or Lord
Dufferin, I have fixed upon the tenants of Lord Kilmorey, because he
and the producers of the rents which he enjoys have never seen
one another in the flesh, and they have never received one word of
encouragement or instruction from him in the whole course of their
lives. Accordingly, with the Union of Kilkeel, which comprises the
Mourne district, I have compared the Union of Trim, which comprises
some of the richest grazing land in Ireland. Travellers have noted
that population always grows thick on rich lands, while it is sparse
on poor lands. No one requires to be told the reason of this.

The Unions of Kilkeel and Trim have populations very nearly
equal--viz., Kilkeel, 22,614; Trim, 22,918. The total arable land in
Kilkeel is 50,000 statute acres, giving 2 1/3 acres on an average
for each person, and 14 acres for each holding. Trim contains 119,519
statute acres, giving 5 acres to each person, and 42 to each holding.

In Mourne the area of land under crops is 20,904 acres (nearly half),
giving one acre of tillage to each inhabitant, and 6 acres to each
holding of 14 acres. In Trim the area under crops is 38,868 acres,
giving 2 acres for each inhabitant, and 14 for each holding of 42

The significance of these figures is shown by the Government valuation
in 1867. The valuation of Mourne Union is 40,668 l., the average for
each person being 2 l. and for each holding 11 l. The valuation of
Trim is 109,068 l., allowing 5 l. for each person and 38 l. for each
holding. In other words, the capability of the land of Trim to support
population is as five to two when compared with Mourne; but whereas
in Mourne 2 1/3 acres support one person, in Trim it takes 5 acres
to support one person--about double the quantity. As the value of the
land in Meath is more than double what it is in Mourne, each acre in
Meath ought to maintain its man. That is, if Meath were cultivated
like Down, its population ought to be _five times as large as it is_!

But this is not the whole case. The Mourne population may be too
large. With so many families crowded on such a small tract of poor
land, the Union must be overwhelmed with pauperism. If so, the case
for tenant-right and tillage would fall to the ground, and Scullyism
would be triumphant. Let us see, then, how stands this essential fact.
The number of paupers in the workhouse and receiving outdoor relief in
the Union of Trim, in 1866, was 2,474. This large amount of pauperism
is not peculiar to Trim. It belongs to other Unions of this rich
grazing district, which so fully realises the late Lord Carlisle's
ideal of Irish prosperity. Navan Union has 3,820 paupers, and Kells
has 1,306. Now, the population of Trim and Mourne being nearly the
same, and Trim being twice as rich as Mourne, and not half as thickly
peopled, it follows that Mourne ought to have at least four times as
many paupers as Trim--that is, it ought to have 9,896. But it actually
has only 521 persons receiving relief in and out of the workhouse!

Consequently, Scullyism and grazing produce nearly twenty times the
amount of poverty and misery produced by tenant-right and tillage.

I have not overlooked the difference of race and religion. On the
contrary, they were uppermost in my mind when rambling among the
nice, clean, comfortable, orderly homesteads of Mourne, reminding me
strongly of Forth and Bargy in the county Wexford. I said to the owner
and driver of my car, who is a Roman Catholic, 'Do the Roman
Catholics here keep their houses and farms in as nice order as the
Presbyterians?' He answered, 'Why should they not? Are they not the
same flesh and blood?'

According to the census of 1861, the Roman Catholics greatly outnumber
the Protestants in this Union. The exact figures are:--

Total population of Mourne Union     22,614
Protestants of all denominations      8,080
Roman Catholics                      14,534

The result of this comparison may perhaps make a better impression
on the reader's mind if cast in the form of tables, as given on
succeeding page.

Table Headings:

Col A. Population in 1861
Col B. No. of Holdings in 1864
Col C. Total Area (in Stat. Acres)
Col D. Area under Crops, 1864 (in Stat. Acres)
Col E. Valuation in 1807 (in £)
Col F. No. in Workhouse and receiving Out-door Relief
Col G. Protestants of all denominations
Col H. Roman Catholics

                        TENANT-RIGHT AND TILLAGE.
Names of Unions  |  A.  |  B.  |  C.   |  D.  |  E.   |  F. |  G. |  H.
Kilkeel          |22,614| 3,540| 50,000|20,904| 40,668| 521 |8,080|14,534
 Average for each|      |      |       |      |       |     |     |
   person        |      |      | 2-1/2 |   1  |   2   |     |     |
 Average for each|      |      |       |      |       |     |     |
   holding       |      |      |  14   |   6  |  11   |     |     |
                        LARGE FARMS AND GRAZING.
Trim             |22,918| 2,816|119,519|38,867|109,068|2,474|1,700|21,218
 Average for each|      |      |       |      |       |     |     |
  person         |      |      |   5   |   2  |   5   |     |     |
 Average for each|      |      |       |      |       |     |     |
  person         |      |      |  42   |  14  |  38   |     |     |

In Kilkeel Union there were 4,012 acres of flax in 1864, which at 20
l. an acre would produce 80,000 l., considerably more than the rental
of the entire district. Trim, in that year, produced only 78 acres of

What everyone wants to know now is this--whether any measure can be
devised that will satisfy the cultivators of the soil without wronging
the landlords, or militating against the interests of the state. A
measure that will not satisfy the tenants and put an end to their
discontent, would be manifestly useless. It would be but adding to the
numerous legislative abortions that have gone before it. A man engaged
in such enquiries as this, is to ascertain what will satisfy the
people. It is for the legislature to determine whether it can be
rightly or safely granted. I have, therefore, directed my attention to
this point in particular, and I have ascertained beyond question, from
the best possible sources of information, that nothing will satisfy
the people of this country but what they do not hesitate to name with
the most determined emphasis--'Fixity of Tenure.' Whether they are
Protestants or Catholics, Orangemen or Liberals, Presbyterians or
Churchmen, this is their unanimous demand, the cry in which they all
join to a man. Every case in which tenant-right is disregarded, or in
which, while admitted nominally, an attempt is made to evade it, or
to fritter it away, excites the bitterest feeling, in which the whole
community sympathises.

They deny, however, that the existing tenant-right is a sufficient

Because it depends on the option of the landlord, and cannot be
enforced by law.

Because even the best disposed landlord may be influenced to alter his
policy by the advice of an agent, by the influence of his family, or
by the state of his finances.

Because a good landlord, who knows the tenants and cares for them, may
be succeeded by a son who is a 'fast young man,' addicted to the
turf and overwhelmed in debt, while the estate gets into the hands of

Because in such a case the law affords no protection to the property
of the tenant, which his family may have been accumulating on the
land since the first of them came over from England or Scotland,
and settled around their commander, after helping by their swords to
conquer the country, and preserve it to the crown of England.

Because it is not in human nature to avoid encroaching on the rights
and property of others, if it can be done at will--done legally, and
done under the pretext that it is necessary for 'improvement,' and
will be a benefit even to those who are despoiled.

Because the custom is no protection to a man's political rights as
a British subject. No tenant farmer can vote against his landlord in
obedience to his conscience without the risk of ruining his family.
The greater his interest in the land, the larger his investments,
the heavier his stake; the greater his accumulations in his bank--the
farm--the greater will be his dependence, the more complete
his political bondage. He has the more to lose. Therefore, if a
Conservative, he must vote for a Radical or a Catholic, who would pull
down the Church Establishment; or if a Catholic, he must vote for a
'No-popery' candidate, who ignores tenant-right, and against a
Liberal statesman, whose life has been devoted to the interests of the

It appears to me that the difficulty of settling this question is
much aggravated by the importation of opinions from the United States
hostile to the aristocracy; and as this source of discontent and
distrust is likely to increase every year, the sooner the settlement
is effected the better. What is the use of scolding and reviling the
tenant's advocates? Will that weaken one iota the tremendous force of
social discontent--the bitter sense of legal injustice, with which
the legislature must deal? And will the legislature deal with it more
effectually by shutting its eyes to facts?



When the six Ulster counties were confiscated, and the natives were
all deprived of their rights in the soil, the people of the county
Cavan resolved to appeal for justice to the English courts in Dublin.
The Crown was defended by Sir John Davis. He argued that the Irish
could have no legal rights, no property in the land, because they did
not enclose it with fences, or plant orchards. True, they had boundary
marks for their tillage ground; but they followed the Eastern custom
in not building ditches or walls around their farms. They did not
plant orchards, because they had too many trees already that grew
without planting. The woods were common property, and the apples,
if they had any, would be common property too, like the nuts and the

The Irish were obliged to submit to the terms imposed by the
conquerors, glad in their destitution to be permitted to occupy their
own lands as tenants at will. The English undertakers, as we have
seen, were bound to deal differently with the English settlers; but
their obligations resolved themselves into promises of freeholds and
leases which were seldom granted, so that many persons threw up their
farms in despair, and returned to their own country.

In the border county of Monaghan, we have a good illustration of the
manner in which the natives struggled to live under their new masters.
The successors of some of those masters have in modern times taken a
strange fancy to the study of Irish antiquities. Among these is Evelyn
P. Shirley, Esq., who has published 'Some Account of the Territory
or Dominion of Farney.' The account is interesting, and, taken in
connection with the sequel given to the public by his agent, Mr. W.
Steuart Trench, it furnishes an instructive chapter in the history
of the land war. The whole barony of Farney was granted by Queen
Elizabeth to Walter Earl of Essex in the year 1576, in reward for the
massacres already recorded. It was then an almost unenclosed plain,
consisting chiefly of coarse pasturage, interspersed with low
alder-scrub. When the primitive woods were cut down for fuel,
charcoal, or other purposes, the stumps remained in the ground, and
from these fresh shoots sprang up thickly. The clearing out of these
stumps was difficult and laborious; but it had to be done before
anything, but food for goats, could be got out of the land. This was
'the M'Mahons' country,' and the tribe was not wholly subdued till
1606, when the power of the Ulster chiefs was finally broken. The
lord deputy, the chancellor, and the lord chief justice passed through
Farney on their way to hold assizes for the first time in Derry and
Donegal. They were protected by a guard of 'seven score foot, and
fifty or three score horse, which,' wrote Sir John Davis, 'is an
argument of a good time and a confident deputy; for in former times
(when the state enjoyed the best peace and security) no lord deputy
did ever venture himself into those parts, without an army of 800 or
1000 men.' At this time Lord Essex had leased the barony of Farney
to Evor M'Mahon for a yearly rent of 250 l. payable in Dublin. After
fourteen years the same territory was let to Brian M'Mahon for 1,500
l. In the year 1636, the property yielded a yearly rent of 2022 l.
18 s. 4 d. paid by thirty-eight tenants. A map then taken gives the
several townlands and denominations nearly as they are at present.
Robert Earl of Essex, dying in 1646, his estates devolved on his
sisters, Lady Frances and Lady Dorothy Devereux, the former of whom
married Sir W. Seymour, afterwards Marquis of Hertfort, and the latter
Sir Henry Shirley, Bart., ancestor of the present proprietor of half
the barony. Ultimately the other half became the property of the
Marquis of Bath. At the division in 1690, each moiety was valued at
1313 l. 14 s. 4-1/2 d. Gradually as the lands were reclaimed by the
tenants, the rental rose. In 1769 the Bath estate produced 3,000 l.,
and the Shirley estate 5,000 l. The total of 8,000 l. per annum, from
this once wild and barren tract, was paid by middlemen. The natives
had not been rooted out, and during the eighteenth century these
sub-tenants multiplied rapidly. According to the census in 1841 the
population of the barony exceeded 44,000 souls, and they contributed
by their industry, to the two absentee proprietors, the enormous
annual revenue of 40,000 l., towards the production of which it does
not appear that either of them, or any person for them, ever invested
a shilling.

Mr. S. Trench was amazed to find 'more than one human being for every
Irish acre of land in the barony, and nearly one human being for every
1 l. valuation per annum of the land.' The two estates join in the
town of Carrickmacross. When Mr. Trench arrived there, March 30, 1843,
to commence his duties as Mr. Shirley's agent, he learned that the
sudden death of the late agent in the court-house of Monaghan had been
celebrated that night by fires on almost every hill on the estate,
'and over a district of upwards of 20,000 acres there was scarcely
a mile without a bonfire blazing in manifestation of joy at his
decease.' Mr. Trench says, the tenants considered themselves
ground down to the last point by the late agent. As he relates the
circumstances, the people would seem to be a very savage race; and
he gives other more startling illustrations to the same effect as he
proceeds. But here, as elsewhere, he does not state all the facts,
while those he does state are most artistically dressed up for
sensational effect, Mr. Trench himself being always the hero, always
acting magnificently, appearing at the right place and at the right
moment to prevent some tremendous calamity, otherwise inevitable, and
by some mysterious personal influence subduing lawless masses, so
that by a sudden impulse, their murderous rage is converted into
admiration, if not adoration. Like the hearers of Herod or of St.
Paul, when he flung the viper off his hand, they are ready to cry out,
'He is a god, and not a man.' Of course he, as a Christian gentleman,
was always 'greatly shocked,' when these poor wretches offered him
petitions on their knees. Still he relates every case of the kind with
extraordinary unction, and with a picturesqueness of situation and
detail so stagey that it should make Mr. Boucicault's mouth water, and
excite the envy of Miss Braddon. Not even she can exceed the author of
'Realities of Irish Life,' in prolonging painful suspense, in piling
up the agony, in accumulating horrors, in throwing strong lights on
one side of the picture and casting deep shade on the other.

It is with the greatest reluctance that I thus allude to the work of
Mr. Trench. I do so from a sense of duty, because I believe it is one
of the most misleading books on Ireland published for many years. It
has made false impressions on the public mind in England, which will
seriously interfere with a proper settlement of the land question.
The mischief would not be so great if the author did not take so
much pains to represent his stories as realities 'essentially
characteristic of the country.' It is very difficult to account for
the exaggeration and embellishment in which he has permitted himself
to indulge, with so many professions of conscientious regard for
truth. They must have arisen from the habit of reciting the adventures
to his friends during a quarter of a century, naturally laying stress
on the most sensational passages, while the facts less in keeping with
startling effects dropped out of his memory. Very few of the actors in
the scenes he describes now survive. Those who do, and who might
have a more accurate memory, are either so lauded that it would
be ungrateful of them to contradict--or so artfully discredited as
'virulent' and base that people would not be likely to believe them if
their recollections were different. There is one peculiarity about Mr.
Trench's dialogues. There were never any witnesses present. He always
took the wild Irishman, on whom he operated so magically, into his
private office; or into a private room in the house of the 'subject;'
or into a cell alone, if secrets were to be extracted from a Ribbonman
in gaol. Even conversations with the gentler sex, who knelt before
him as if he were a bishop, were not permitted to reach the ear of his
chief clerk. On some matters, however, others have spoken since his
book appeared. He is very precise about the trial for an agrarian
murder in Monaghan, giving details from his own actual observation.
Mr. Butt, Q.C., who was engaged in the case, has published a letter,
stating that Mr. Trench was quite mistaken in his account. It seems
strange that he did not refresh his memory by looking at a report of
the trial in some newspaper file.

Mr. Trench 'adds his testimony to the fact that Ireland is not
altogether unmanageable,' that 'justice fully and firmly administered
is always appreciated in the end.' And at the conclusion of his volume
he says:--

'We can scarcely shut our eyes to the fact that the circumstances and
feelings which have led to the terrible crime of murder in Ireland,
are usually very different from those which have led to murder
elsewhere. The reader of the English newspaper is shocked at the list
of children murdered by professional assassins, of wives murdered
by their husbands, of men murdered for their gold. In Ireland that
dreadful crime may almost invariably be traced to a wild feeling of
revenge for the national wrongs, to which so many of her sons believe
that she has been subjected for centuries.'

There is a mistake here. No murders are committed in Ireland for
'national wrongs.' The author has gathered together, as in a chamber
of horrors, all the cases of assassination that occurred during
the years of distress, provoked by the extensive _evictions_ which
succeeded the _famine_, and by the infliction of great hardships on
tenants who, in consequence of that dreadful calamity, had fallen
into arrears. People who had been industrious, peaceable, and
well-conducted were thus driven to desperation; and hence the young
men formed lawless combinations and committed atrocious murders.
But every one of these murders was agrarian, not national. They were
committed in the prosecution of _a war_, not against the Government,
but against the landlords and their agents and instruments. It was a
war _pro aris et focis_, waged against local tyrants, and waged in the
only way possible to the belligerents who fought for home and
family. Mr. Trench always paints the people who sympathise with their
champions as naturally wild, lawless, and savage. If he happens to
be in good humour with them, he makes them ridiculous. His son, Mr.
Townsend Trench, who did the illustrations for the work, pictures the
peasantry as gorillas, always flourishing shillelaghs, and grinning
horribly. With rare exceptions, they appear as an inferior race, while
the ruling class, and the Trenches in particular, appear throughout
the book as demigods, 'lords of the creation,' formed by nature to be
the masters and guides and managers of such a silly, helpless people.
Nowhere is any censure pronounced upon a landlord, or an agent, with
one exception, and this was the immediate predecessor of Mr. Trench
at Kenmare. To his gross neglect in allowing God to send so many human
beings into the world, he ascribes the chaos of misery and pauperism,
which he--a heaven-born agent--had to reduce to order and beauty.
But there were other causes of the 'poetic turbulence' which he
so gloriously quelled, that he might have brought to light, had he
thought proper, for the information of English readers. He might have
shown--for the evidence was before him in the report of the Devon
Commission--with what hard toil and constant self-denial, amidst what
domestic privations and difficulties, Mr. Shirley's tenants struggled
to scrape up for him his 20,000 l. a year, and how bitterly they must
have felt when the landlord sent an order to add one-third to their
rack-rent. I will supply Mr. Trench's lack of service, and quote the
evidence of one of those honest and worthy men, given before the Devon

Peter Mohun, farmer, a tenant on the Shirley estate, gave the
following evidence:--

'What family have you?--I am married, and have two daughters, and my
wife, and a servant boy.

'What rent do you pay?--Sometime ago I paid 3 l. 19 s. 11d. I was
doing well at that time; and then my rent was raised to 5 l. 19 s. 9
d., and sometimes 6 l., and one year 5 l. 19 s. 6 d.

'How do you account for the difference?--I do not know; perhaps by the
bog rent. We had the bog free before, and we were doing well; and then
we were cut down from the bog, and we were raised from 3 l. 19 s. 11
d. to 6 l. We are beaten down now quite.

'What does the county-cess come to?--Sometimes we pay 1 s. 6-1/2 d. an
acre, and oftener 1 s. 7-1/2 d., the half-year.

'Have you paid your rent pretty punctually?--Yes, I have done my best
so far to pay the rent.

'How much do you owe now?--I believe I shall pay the rent directly
after May; I am clear till May. I cannot pay it till harvest comes

'How do you get the money to pay the rent?--When I had my land cheap,
and myself a youth, I was a good workman, and did work by the loom,
and I would be mowing in the summer season, and earn a good deal, and
make a little store for me, which has stood by me. I buy some oats and
make meal of it, and I make money in that way. It was not by my land I
was paying my rent, but from other sources.

'How much wheat have you now?--Half an acre, rather above.

'How much oats have you?--Half a rood.

'How much potato land shall you have?--Three and a half roods besides
the garden.

'Have you any clover?--Very near a rood of clover.

'What is the smallest quantity of land that you think a man who has
no other means of support can subsist and pay rent upon?--I was paying
rent well myself when I had three acres, when I was paying 3 l. 19 s.
11 d.

'You weave a little?--Yes, but very little; but there was a good price
for the barrel of wheat, and for pigs, and so I made a little store.
But as for any man to support himself out of a small farm, at the
high price of land, and the price of labour that is going, it is

'What is the smallest farm upon which a man can support himself at the
present rate of rent, taking a man with five or six children?--That is
a hard question.

'Supposing a man to pay 35 s. an acre, and to have two acres, and to
be obliged to live out of the farm, do you think he could do it and
pay rent?--He could not; his land must be very good. Unless he lived
near a town, and had cheap land, it would be impossible. But a man
with five acres, at a moderate rent, he could support his family upon

'What should you earn at weaving?--I only weave for my own family. I
weave my own shirt.

'Do your family ever spin any wool and weave it?--Yes.

'Do you live upon the Shirley estate?--Yes.

'How much bog do you require to keep your house in fuel?--Half a rood,
if it was good; but it is bad bog ground, red mossy turf, white and
light; it requires more than the black turf.

'What do you pay for half a rood of turf?--It is 13 s. 4 d. for a
rood--that is, 6 s. 8 d. for half a rood. There is 4 s. 6 d. paid for
bad bog.

'Do you pay anything for the ticket of leave to cut?--Yes, I do; I
have not a ticket unless I pay 6 d. for it.

'That is over and above the 4 s. 6 d.?--Yes.

'Did you ever pay more than 6 s. 8 d. for the bog in the late agent's
time?--He took the good bog off us; we were paying 6 s. 8 d. for it.
They left us to the bad bog, and we do not pay so high for that.

'Was the good bog dearer or cheaper than the bad bog at 4 s. 6
d.?--Half a rood of the good bog was worth half an acre or an acre of
the other. The bad bog smokes so we have often to leave the house: we
cannot stay in it unless there is a good draught in the chimney.'

The Rev. Thomas Smollan, P.P., has published a letter to the Earl of
Dunraven, a Catholic Peer, to whom Mr. Trench has dedicated his book.
In this letter the parish priest of Farney says:--

'In pages 63 and 64 Mr. Trench tells his readers that on the very
night the news of the late agent's sudden death, in the county
courthouse of Monaghan, reached Carrickmacross, "fires blazed on
almost every hill on the Shirley estate, and over a district of more
than 20,000 acres there was scarcely a mile without a bonfire blazing
in manifestation of joy at his decease." This paragraph, my lord,
taken by itself and unexplained in any way, would at once imply that
the people were inhuman, almost savages, whom Mr. Trench was sent to
tame--that they were insensible to the agent's sudden death, a death
so sudden that it would make an enemy almost relent. Mr. Trench
assigns no cause for this strange proceeding except what we read in
page 64, and what he learned from the chief clerk, viz., "that the
people were much excited, that they were ground down to the last point
by the late agent, and they were threatening to rise in rebellion
against him," &c. One would think that Mr. Trench having learned so
much on such authority, would have set to work to try and find out
the cause of the discontent and apply a remedy. He does not say in his
book that he did so, but seems still unable to understand this to him
incomprehensible proceeding. However, I am of opinion that Mr. Trench
knew the whole of it, if not then at all events before "The Realities"
saw the light, for in a speech of his, when Lord Bath visited Farney
(page 383), he said, "A dog could not bark on the estate without
it coming to his knowledge." And therefore I say that a man so
inquisitive as to find out the barking of a dog on the Bath estate,
who had so many sources of information close at hand, could not have
been long without knowing the causes of the "excitement, threatened
rebellion, bonfires, &c., on the Shirley estate," if he had only
wished for the information. Either he knew the cause of all this when
he wrote his book, or he did not. If he did, I say he was bound
in fair play to tell it to the public; if he did not know it his
self-laudation in his speech goes for nought. But, my lord, with your
permission, I will inform your lordship, Mr. Trench, and the public,
as to some of the causes of so remarkable an occurrence, which could
not pass unobserved by Mr. Trench. At the memorable election of 1826,
Evelyn John Shirley, Esq., and Colonel Leslie, father of the present
M.P., contested the county of Monaghan, and the former brought all
his influence to bear on his tenants to vote for himself (Shirley)
and Leslie, who coalesced against the late Lord Rossmore. The electors
said "they would give one vote for their landlord, and the other they
would give for their religion and their country;" the consequence was,
Shirley and Westenra were returned, and Leslie was beaten. Up to this
time Mr. Shirley was a good landlord, and admitted tenant-right to
the fullest extent on the property, but after that election he never
showed the same friendly feelings towards the people. Soon after the
election Mr. Humphrey Evatt, the agent, died, and was succeeded in the
agency by Mr. Sandy Mitchell, who very soon set about surveying and
revaluing the estate, of course at the instance of his master, Evelyn
John Shirley, Esq. He performed the work of revaluation, &c., and
the result was that the rents were increased by one-third and in
some cases more. The bog, too, which up to this time was free to the
tenants, was taken from them and doled out to them in small patches of
from twenty-five to forty perches each, at from 4 l. to 8 l. per
acre. At the instance of the then parish priest, President Reilly, Mr.
Shirley gave 5 l. per year to a few schools on his property, without
interfering in any way with the religious principles of the Catholics
attending these schools; but the then agent insisted on having the
authorised version of the Bible, without note or comment, read in
those schools by the Catholic children. The bishop, the Most Rev. Dr.
Kernan, could not tolerate such a barefaced attempt at proselytism,
and insisted on the children being withdrawn from the schools. For
obeying their bishop in this, the Catholic parents were treated most
unsparingly. I have before me just now a most remarkable instance
of the length to which this gentleman carried his proselytising
propensities, which I will mention. In the vestry, or sacristy,
attached to Corduff Chapel, was a school taught by a man named Rush,
altogether independent of the schools aided by Mr. Shirley, and by
largely subsidising the teacher, the then agent actually introduced
his proselytism into that school too. The priests and people tried
legal means to get rid of the teacher, but without success, and in the
end the people came by night and knocked down the sacristy, so that in
the morning when the teacher came he had no house to shelter him.
The Catholics were then without a school, and in order to provide the
means of education for them the Rev. F. Keone, administrator, under
the Most Rev. Dr. Kernan, applied for aid to the Commissioners of
National Education, and obtained it; but where was he to procure
building materials? The then agent, in his zeal for "converting"
Catholics, having issued an order forbidding the supplying of them
from any part of the Shirley estate, which extends over an area of
fifteen miles by ten, Father Keone went on the next Sunday to the
neighbouring chapels outside the Shirley estate, told his grievances,
and on the next day the people came with their horses and carts and
left sand, lime, and stones in sufficient quantities to build the
house inside the chapel-yard. The priest and people thought it
necessary to "thatch" their old chapel, and, though strange it may
seem, the agent actually served an ejectment process on the father
of the two boys who assisted the priest to make the collection at the
chapel door for so absolutely necessary a work. I may add, this man
owed no rent. Lastly, the then agent was in the habit of arranging
matrimonial alliances, pointing out this girl as a suitable match for
that boy, and the boy must marry the girl or give up his farm. These
facts being true, my lord, and more which I might state, but that I
have trespassed too much already on your lordship's time, I ask you,
my Lord Dunraven--I ask any impartial man, Irishman or Englishman--for
whom Mr. Trench wrote his "book," is it strange or wonderful that the
Catholic people, so treated, would rejoice--would have bonfires on
the hill tops at their deliverance from such conduct? I flatter myself
that you, my lord--that the learned reading public--that the English
people would sympathise with any people so treated for conscience'
sake; and having pronounced the sentence of condemnation against Mr.
Trench for not having noticed these facts, that you will direct your
name to be erased from the "book." I have the honour to remain,
my lord, with the most profound respect, your lordship's faithful


  'Clones, Feb. 15, 1869.'

The electors of Monaghan, in their simplicity, thought they were
fairly exercising the rights conferred by the constitution when they
gave one vote for the landlord, and one for their religion and their
country, thus securing the return of one Liberal. But Mr. Shirley soon
taught them that the blessings of our glorious constitution belong not
to the tenant, but to the landlord; and so he punished their mistake
by adding one-third to their rent, and depriving them of proper fuel.
Not content with this, he carried the war into their chapels and
schools, and punished them for their religion. These facts may help to
explain the scenes which Mr. Trench describes so poetically.

The persecuting agent died suddenly in the court-house. The landlord
and a new agent, Mr. Trench, arrived at Carrickmacross; and the
tenants presented a petition, imploring him to remove the new and
intolerable burden that had been put on their shoulders. They were
told to come back for an answer on the following Monday:--

'"Monday! Monday!" was shouted on all sides. The most frenzied
excitement ensued. Hats were thrown in the air, sticks were flourished
on all sides, and the men actually danced with wild delight. After a
little time, however, the crowd cleared away, and the news flew like
wildfire over the town and country, that the whole tenantry were told
to come in on Monday next, that they might know the amount of the
reduction to be granted, and have all their grievances removed!'

Mr. Shirley quickly repented having given the invitation, and sent out
a circular countermanding it, and requesting the tenants to stay at
home. On Monday, however, a vast excited mass assembled to hear his
_ultimatum_, which was announced by the new agent. 'He would not
reduce their rents. They might give up their lands if they pleased;
but they had little or no cause of complaint.' They insisted on his
mounting a chair and making a speech. He softened the message as well
as he could. When he had done there was a dead silence. In describing
what follows Mr. Trench surpasses the wildest romancers in piling
up the agony. I copy the description that the reader may see the
difference between romance and history.

'There was a dead silence when I stopped speaking. It was broken by a
stentorian voice.

'"Then you won't reduce our rents?"

'"I have already given you Mr. Shirley's answer upon that point," said
I. "Stranger as I am, it is impossible for me to form any opinion as
to whether they are too high or not."

'"_Down on your knees, boys!_" shouted the same voice; "we will ask
him once more upon our knees!" and to my horror and amazement the vast
crowd, almost all at least who were in my immediate vicinity, dropped
suddenly on their knees, and another dead silence ensued.

'It was a dreadful spectacle. Their hats were on their heads, and
their sticks in their hands, some leaning upon them as they knelt,
others balancing and grasping them. It was fearful to see the attitude
of supplication, due only to a higher power, thus mingled with a wild

'"_We ask you upon our knees, for God's sake, to get us a reduction of
our rents!_" again the same voice cried aloud.

'I was greatly shocked. I instantly got down off the chair. I
entreated them to rise. I told them that I was distressed beyond
measure, but that I had given them the only message I was authorised
to give; and quite overcome by such a scene, I endeavoured to move
again across the crowded space from the office, in order to enter the
house, and report proceedings to Mr. Shirley, intending to request
that he would himself appear and address his excited tenantry.

'The moment I moved towards the door, the vast crowd leaped again to
their feet; I was instantly surrounded, hustled, and prevented from
getting near it. I bore this good-humouredly, and the door being
quite close to me, I had no doubt they would ultimately let me in. But
whilst this scene was going on, a shout was raised by those who were
at a distance up the road leading to the town, and who had not heard
what had been said. "Bring him up--bring him up, and let us see him!"
In a moment I was seized, and though I resisted to my utmost, I was
dragged up the narrow road which led from Shirley House to the town. I
was kicked and beaten, and pushed and bruised, my hat knocked off, and
my clothes torn; and in this state I was dragged into the main street
of Carrickmacross.

'Here a scene of the wildest excitement took place, some cried one
thing--some another. I was beaten again, my clothes torn off my back,
and sticks whirled over my head. Four or five policemen met me as I
was being dragged along, but they might as well have attempted to
stop the rushing of an Atlantic wave, as to stern the crowd that had
assembled around me; _and they only looked on and let me pass_.'

If the sub-inspector, who was present, and his men acted in this
manner, I venture to say it is the only instance in the whole history
of the force in which the Royal Irish constabulary were guilty of such
a cowardly neglect of duty. However, not only the police, but the best
part of the crowd deserted this strange gentleman, and he was 'left
in the hands of the vilest and most furious of the mob.' Where was Mr.
Shirley? Where were the clergy and the respectable inhabitants of the
town? The mob dragged him along towards Loughfea Castle--a mile and a
half--whither they heard Mr. Shirley had fled, still beating, kicking,
and strangling their victim, without any object; for how could they
serve their cause by killing an agent who had never injured them? And
how easy it was to kill him if they wished! But here comes the climax;
he asked the murderous multitude to let him stop a few moments to
breathe--he then proceeds: 'I shall never forget that moment. I was
then about a mile from the town on the broad and open road leading to
Loughfea Castle. I turned and looked around me, thinking my last
hour was come, and anxious to see if there was one kind face, one
countenance, I had ever seen before, who could at least tell my
friends how I had died. But I looked in vain. The hills were crowded
with people. The long line of road was one mass of human beings,
whilst those immediately around me, mad with excitement, seemed only
to thirst for my blood.

'Having got a few moments' breathing-time, and seeing all appeal to
be vain, I turned again on my way, determined, however, to hold out
to the last, as I felt that to fall or to faint must be certain death.
Just then I became conscious of an able hand and a stout heart beside
me, and I heard a whisper in my ear: "They are determined to have your
blood, but hold up, they shall have mine first." The speaker grasped
my arm firmly under his own, and walked on steadily by my side.

'By this time I was _completely naked with the exception of my
trousers_. My coat, even my shirt, had been torn off, and I walked on,
still beaten and ill-treated, like a man to execution; my head bare,
and _without any clothes from my waist upwards_. To increase the
misery of my situation, I found that my friend had been beaten and
dragged away in spite of himself, and again I was left alone in the
hands of those merciless men. I felt also I could now go no further,
and that a last effort must be made before my senses left me from
exhaustion. Stopping therefore once more, I asked to be led towards a
high bank at the roadside, and leaning against this I turned and faced
those whom I now believed would soon become my murderers.

'"I can go no further," said I; "what have you brought me here for?
What do you want me to do?" Again the same voice which I had first
heard at the office, though I could not identify the speaker from the
shouting and confusion around me, cried aloud, "We want a reduction of
our rents, will you promise to get us that?"

'There are times of instant danger, when it is said that the whole of
a man's past life rushes before him in the spaces of a single moment.
If ever there be such a time, this was such to me. I stood there,
exhausted, without one friendly face on which to rest, and surrounded
by _the worst of ten thousand men who seemed determined to have a
victim_. I knew and felt all this. So I said very quietly, as a last
effort to save my life, and hoping they would name something I could
promise to ask,

'"And what reduction will you be content with?"

'Again the same voice replied,

'"We will never pay more than one-half our present rents."

'"Then," said I, "there ends the matter, _I never will promise that_."

'There was a pause, and a dead silence. I stood _naked and bareheaded
before them_. They stood opposite to me, with their sticks clenched in
their hands, ready to strike. I looked at them, and they at me. They
hesitated; _no one would strike me first_. I saw that they wavered,
and instinctively, in a moment I _felt_ that I had won. This sudden
revulsion of feeling--though I was still externally motionless--sent
the blood throbbing to my temples with a rush that became almost
oppressive. But the strange pause continued--when at length a shout
was raised from the old stentorian voice again, "Stand off, boys--for
your lives! no one shall harm him--he is a good man after all!" and in
a moment I was surrounded by a new set of faces, who dashed furiously
towards me. They raised me on their shoulders, swept my old enemies
away from me, procured me some water to drink, and carried me, now
completely overcome, exhausted, and almost fainting, into the demesne
of Loughfea.

'Here again these suddenly converted friends desired me to get up on
a chair, and speak to the crowd now assembled before the castle. I did
so. A reaction for the moment had taken place within me, and I felt
some return of strength.

'I told the people I had never injured them. That it was a shame, and
a disgrace of which I had not believed any Irishman to be capable, to
treat a stranger as they had dealt with me that day. That in my own
country I could have as many to fight for me as were now against me,
and in short I abused them right heartily and soundly. They bore it
without a murmur. My new friends cheered me vociferously, and I was
carried, now quite unable to walk, into the Castle of Loughfea. Mr.
Shirley's architect here appeared upon the scene, and perceiving that
the people were much exasperated at not finding Mr. Shirley at the
castle, and that some of the most violent were disposed in consequence
to make a fresh attack upon me as I was being carried exhausted inside
the gates, he promised to speak to Mr. Shirley in their favour, and
in some degree calmed their feelings. The excitement was past. Mr.
Shirley had not been there, and the people at last quietly dispersed.

'In the evening I was conveyed in a covered carriage to
Carrickmacross, blackened with bruises, stiff and sore, and scarcely
able to stand--musing over the strange transactions which had happened
that day--and wrapped in a countryman's frieze coat which had been
borrowed to cover _my nakedness_.'[1]

[Footnote 1: Realities of Irish Life, chap. v.]

When the reader recovers his breath after this. I will ask him to turn
to the history of this transaction--bad enough in itself--and see
what fancy and art can do in dressing up a skeleton so that it becomes
'beautiful for ever.' Mr. Trench himself shall be the historian,
writing to the authorities when the occurrences were all fresh in his
mind. The narrative was handed in to the Devon commissioners as his
_sworn evidence_:

'_William Steuart Trench, esq., agent._

'Have there been any agrarian outrages, and in what have they
originated?--There have been none, except _during a late short period
of peculiar local excitement_.

'Will you state the particulars of that excitement, and what then
occurred?--I think my best mode of doing so will be by handing in
the copy of a letter which I addressed to a local magistrate for
the information of government.--[_The witness read the following

'Dear Sir--In reply to your communication, enclosing a letter from Mr.
Lucas, requesting that I should give a statement of the particulars
which occurred to me in Carrickmacross, on Monday last, I beg leave to
lay before you the facts, as follows:--

'Mr. Shirley has recently appointed me to the agency over his Monaghan
estate. We both arrived here on Thursday, the 30th of March, and on
the following morning we went together into the office; and having
remained there about an hour, we were much surprised, on our return,
to find an immense mass of people outside the door, who immediately
presented a petition to Mr. Shirley, requesting a reduction of rent.

'Mr. Shirley declined giving an immediate answer to such an unexpected
request; but having read the petition, he told them he would give an
answer to it on the Monday following. By Saturday, however, he had
arrived at a full conclusion upon the point, and, anxious to avoid any
unpleasant altercation with his tenants, he thought it advisable to
let his determination be known as soon as possible; and accordingly,
on Saturday, he issued and circulated a printed notice, stating the
determination at which he had arrived, and declining any further
communications upon the subject. I enclose a copy of the notice.

'Notwithstanding this notice, the people came in on Monday in immense
numbers; and at about 11 o'clock in the forenoon, the upper part of
the street opposite to Shirley House, where we were residing, was
filled with dense masses of men. I then thought it my duty to go out,
and repeat to them in my capacity as agent, the determination at which
their landlord had arrived. I did so in the mildest terms. I told them
I had been able to go over only a part of the estate; but that from
what I had seen, I was of opinion that a better system of farming
and of general management of their land, was in my judgment much more
required than a reduction of the rent. That I knew Mr. Shirley had the
kindest feeling towards them, and that I was myself quite prepared and
willing to render them any assistance--to go to every man's farm, if
possible, and to assist them by my counsel and advice. But that as Mr.
Shirley had come to a determination to make no present reduction in
his rental, I did expect that all who were able to pay their rents
would come in and do so; that the utmost leniency would be extended
towards those who could not pay; but that my duty was plain, and if
those who really were able to pay, refused to come forward and do
so, that I had no alternative left but to take advantage of the power
which the law afforded for the recovery of the rent--and this I was
fully prepared and determined to do, if driven to that unpleasant
necessity. I also made some further observations, of less importance;
but my manner towards them was quiet and calm, and I expressed myself
most anxious to do everything in my power to promote their welfare and

'_I then attempted to return to the house, across the street; but
the mob closed in upon me, and prevented my doing so_, _and with much
violence dragged me up into the town, where I was repeatedly struck
and kicked, and nearly strangled, and my coat torn to pieces._

'_The mob continued thus to ill-treat me for about a mile along the
road to Lough Fea, Mr. Shirley's residence, repeatedly kicking me,
especially when I showed symptoms of exhaustion, and pressing their
hands violently upon my throat, till I was almost overcome by fatigue,
heat and pain._

'_All this appeared to be done for the purpose of forcing me to
promise to induce Mr. Shirley to lower the rents to 10 s. per acre
(upwards of fifty per cent.). This I refused to do. They then brought
me on to Lough Fea, where they thought Mr. Shirley was; and upon not
finding him, they appeared much exasperated. Mr. Shirley's architect
then appeared, and by promising to speak to Mr. Shirley in their
favour, and by requesting them to send a deputation, instead of coming
in a manner like the present, he induced them to desist from further
injury to me._

  'Believe me, dear Sir, very truly yours,

  'Carrickmacross, April 8, 1844.

'What has been the general demeanour of the people towards you since
that time?--Though they resisted my measures for the recovery of the
rent, _to myself they have been perfectly civil; nor have I received
any personal insult or unpleasantness, arising from the above cause
since that period._

'How long did this kind of combination exist?--For about six months.'

Setting aside the embellishments, let us note one or two differences
as to facts. In the book the suddenly converted friends placed him on
a chair and asked him to make a speech before the castle door. He did
so, and there is a grand statuesque picture of the hero, naked to the
waist, and standing on the chair as lofty pedestal. In the torn coat
the artist could never have made him look like Apollo. Even the shirt
would have been too commonplace; so off went the shirt. Three or four
times attention is directed to the fact of the nakedness by the hero
himself, while the pencil of the filial illustrator has rendered him
immortal in this primitive costume. In his speech he 'abused them
heartily and soundly.' Yet they cheered him vociferously, and then
carried him into the castle, where he could get nothing to cover his
nakedness but a countryman's frieze coat. It was when he had been
cheered vociferously, and kindly carried in, that Mr. Shirley's
architect appeared on the scene. Mr. Trench has not been just to that
gentleman, for he really came to his rescue, and perhaps saved his
life, by giving the people the only sensible advice they got that day.
In his sworn statement, made twenty-five years ago, Mr. Trench said:
'Mr. Shirley's architect then appeared, and by promising to speak
to Mr. Shirley in their favour, and by requesting them to send a
deputation, instead of coming in a manner like the present, _he
induced them to desist from further injury to me._'

If we had contemporary accounts of all the other romantic scenes which
have fascinated so many readers, the 'Realities' would lose much
of their gilding. Indeed, in most cases the internal evidence is
sufficient to convince us that the sensationalist has been laying on
his colours pretty heavily. In the sketch of the Farney rent campaign,
however, I am willing to accept Mr. Trench as a faithful historian. It
is a most suggestive narrative, because it shows what mischief could
be done by driving the agricultural population to desperation. A
general strike against the payment of rent would convulse society.
If the war which raged in Farney had spread all over the island, the
landlords would be in serious difficulty. The British army might then
have become rent collectors, as they had been tithe collectors in

Mr. Shirley resolved, after much deliberation, to enforce his legal
rights to the utmost. The bailiff was sent to warn the backward
tenants to come in with the rent, and he everywhere received the same
answer--'We will pay no rent till our grievances are redressed.' Now
all the missiles of the law were showered on the recusants--notices
to quit, _latitats_, processes for arrears, &c. Grippers,
process-servers, keepers, drivers, were in full requisition. The
grippers were to arrest all tenants against whom decrees had been
obtained at the quarter-sessions; the keepers were employed to watch
the crops that had been seized; and the drivers were to bring the
cattle, sheep, horses, or pigs to pound. These constituted the
landlord's army, having the police as a reserve, and the military if

On the other hand, the tenants organised a body called the 'Molly
Maguires'--stout young men dressed up in women's clothes, their
faces disguised and besmeared in the most fantastic manner. These men
waylaid and maltreated the officers of the law so severely, that in a
short time no money could induce a gripper, process-server, driver or
bailiff to show his nose on the estate. In this dilemma, Mr. Shirley,
as commander-in-chief, ordered his lieutenant and his subordinates
to go forth, with a body of police, and drive in all the cattle they
could seize on the lands of the defaulting tenants. The expedition
started one fine morning, led on by the mounted bailiff, a fat man,
trembling like a hare at the thought of encountering the 'Molly

Mr. Trench's description of this foray is very graphic:--'No sooner
had this formidable party appeared upon the roads in the open country,
than the people rushed to the tops of the numerous hills with which
the district abounds; and as we moved forward, they ran from one hill
to another shouting and cheering with wild defiant cries, and keeping
a line parallel to that in which our party was travelling.

'The object of our expedition was clearly understood by the people;
and the exact position of our company was indicated to those in
the lowlands by the movements of the parties on the hills; and
accordingly, as we advanced, every beast belonging to every tenant who
owed rent was housed or locked up, or driven somewhere away. Thus, as
we had no legal right to break open any door, or take any cattle out
of any house, but only to seize those we might find in the open fields
and upon the lands of the defaulting tenants, we soon perceived (as
we might have known before we started) that we were likely to return
without success. The bailiff declared with a sigh, "that not a hoof
nor a horn was left in the whole country-side."

'At length when about to return home, without having secured any
booty whatever, we came unexpectedly upon a poor little heifer calf,
browsing quietly on the long grass beside a hedge. The bailiff having
ascertained that she was grazing on the land of a tenant who was
a defaulter, we seized upon the unhappy little beast, and drove it
ingloriously home to the pound at Carrickmacross, a distance of about
two miles, amidst the jeers and laughter of the populace, at the
result of our formidable day's driving.'

Thus baffled, Mr. Shirley resolved to try another move.

He applied to the authorities in Dublin for an order for 'substitution
of service.' That is, instead of delivering the legal notices at the
houses of the parties, which was impracticable, they were to be posted
up on the chapel-door. To effect this object, a large police force
was necessary, and it was accompanied by a stipendiary magistrate. 'As
soon as the party came near the chapel grounds a shout of defiance was
raised by the peasantry, who began to crowd into the chapel yard, and
with uplifted sticks and threatening gestures swore that they would
never allow the walls of the chapel to be desecrated by such a notice.
The bailiff, a most respectable and temperate man, did his utmost to
pacify the excited mob. He reasoned with them as best he could;
and assured them that no desecration was intended--that he was only
carrying out the law, which required that the notice should be posted
on the chapel walls. But his voice had no more power than if he
had spoken to a storm of wind; they leaped and danced madly about,
whirling their sticks over their heads, and shouting that they would
never allow him to touch the sacred edifice.

'The stipendiary magistrate now ordered him to do his duty, and that
he would be protected in doing it by the police, and he, trembling
with fear, as well he might, at length approached with the notice in
his hand to post it in due form. No sooner had he approached towards
the chapel than a volley of stones sent him staggering back, though
none actually struck him. The police were now ordered to advance. They
did so amidst another shower of stones. The storm of missiles still
continuing and several of the police having been struck and injured,
they were at length ordered to fire. They aimed low, and directing
their fire straight into the crowd of stone-throwers, they soon
checked the vigour of the assault--six or seven men fell under the
volley and rolled upon the ground. There was a short pause, a dead
silence ensued--but it was only for a moment, and before the police
could recover themselves and load again, a furious rush was made upon
them by the enraged populace. Stones were seen flying as thick
as hail; and finally the police, apprehending that they must be
annihilated if they remained, ran to their cars, which were waiting at
a little distance, and drove into Carrickmacross as fast as the horses
could gallop, accompanied by the stipendiary magistrate!

'The field thus quickly won, remained in the possession of the
insurgents. One of the rioters was killed upon the spot--shot through
the body. The others who fell were only slightly injured; one had his
ear taken off, another was wounded in the finger, another shot in the

This was 'the battle of Magheracloon.' Mr. Trench wisely recommended
a cessation of hostilities till the harvest was gathered in, promising
the landlord that he would then by quiet means, acting on the tenants
individually and privately, induce them to pay their rents. He
succeeded, but as Mr. Shirley declined to adopt his plans for the
better management of the estate, he resigned.

He came back, however, after some years, as agent to the Marquess of
Bath--a post which he occupies still, being manager-in-chief at the
same time of the large estates of the Marquess of Lansdowne, in Kerry,
and Lord Digby, in the King's County. In all these undertakings,
ably assisted by his sons and his nephew, he has been pre-eminently
successful. If the Farney men had been driven off in 1843, or swept
away by the famine, it would have been said that their fate was
inevitable, nothing could be made of them. They were by nature prone
to disorder and rebellion. Well, Lord Bath visited his estate in 1865.
On that occasion a banquet was given to the tenants, at which Mr.
Trench made an eloquent speech. Referring to the outbreak in 1848, he
said: 'And yet never, my Lord, never even in the worst of times, did I
bate one jot of heart or hope in the noble people of Farney, never for
one moment did I doubt their loyalty to their Queen, their loyalty to
their country, their respect for their landlord, and above all, that
they would be true and loyal to themselves.' So much for the incurable
perversity of the Celtic race, for the 'black morass of Irish nature'
that can never be drained!

The people of Farney got justice, and they were contented and orderly.
They got security, and they were industrious and thriving. They
got protection under the constitution, and they were loyal. Densely
peopled as the estate is, the agent could not coax one of them to
emigrate; and after his former experience at Farney, he did not
venture on eviction, though, no doubt, he would gladly repeat the
Kenmare experiment in thinning the masses with which he has had to
deal. Mr. Horsman, a prophet of the same school of economists, says
that Providence sent the famine to relieve the landlords, by carrying
away a third of the population, and he seems to think it desirable
that another third should be got rid of somehow.



Belfast, not being blessed with a cathedral like Armagh and Derry,
is not called a 'city.' It is only a 'town;' but it is the capital of
Ulster, and surpasses all other places in Ireland in the rapidity of
its progress and in its prosperity. It can boast but little of its
antiquity. There is probably not a house in the borough more than 150
years old. The place is first noticed by history in 1178, merely as
the site of a fort of the O'Neills, which was destroyed by John De
Courcy. It was only a poor village at the time of Bruce's invasion, in
1315, though Spencer erroneously calls it 'a very good town.' It was
so insignificant in 1586 that Holinshed does not mention it among the
towns and havens of Down and Antrim. Whatever town existed there had
been destroyed by the Earl of Kildare when lord-deputy. In 1552 it was
repaired and garrisoned, and shortly after it was granted by the
crown to Hugh O'Neill of Clandeboye. In 1571 the castle, with a large
portion of territory adjoining it, was bestowed upon Sir Thomas Smith
and his son. The latter was assassinated by the 'wicked, barbarous,
and uncivil people;' and the former, not being able to fulfil the
conditions of his tenure, the district reverted with the whole earldom
of Ulster to the crown in the reign of James I. Belfast was then
surrounded by extensive forests, abounding in fine timber for
building. The best specimen--perhaps the only one in the kingdom--of
a forest like what covered the country at that time, still exists at
Shane's Castle, the magnificent demesne of Lord O'Neill, where may be
seen enormous oaks decaying with age, under whose shade probably the
famous Shane marshalled his galloglasse.

In 1613 the castle and manor of Belfast were granted to Sir Arthur
Chichester, lord-deputy, ancestor of the Marquis of Donegal, who did
so much to effect the final conquest of Ulster. He may be said to
be the founder of the town. From the estates of his family, in
Devonshire, and from Scotland, many families came over and made a
strong settlement here. Ultimately it became a corporation sending two
members to the Irish Parliament. The chief magistrate was called 'the
sovereign;' and the first who held the office was Thomas Pottinger,
ancestor of the celebrated Sir Henry Pottinger. In 1758 the population
was 8,549; in 1821, it was 37,000; in 1831, it was 53,000; in 1841, it
had increased to 75,000; in 1851, it amounted to 103,000; and the last
census shows it to be 121,602. About 1,500 houses are built annually
in the borough, and the present population is estimated at 150,000.
The rateable property is more than 394,000 l. The sum of 560,000 l.
has been spent on the harbour improvements, to which is to be added
250,000 l. for building new docks. I remember the quays when they were
small, irregular, inconvenient, dirty, and when the channel worked its
doubtful course through shifting masses of liquid mud, at low water.
Now there are quays which extend in a line about a mile, covered
with spacious sheds for the protection of the goods being shipped
and unshipped. There are docks of all sorts, and great shipbuilding
establishments standing on ground created out of the floating chaos
of mud. 'Year by year,' as one of its poets has said, 'Belfast is
changing its aspect and overstepping its former boundaries, climbing
the hill-side, skirting the river margin, and even invading the sea's
ancient domain.

  'Ambition's mistress of the fertile land,
  Shuts out the ocean and usurps the strand.'

Among the 'usurpations' is Queen's Island, a beautiful people's
park, standing in the midst of the Lough. The people of Belfast have
effected all these vast improvements from their own resources,
without a shilling from the lord of the soil, without any help from
Government, except a loan of 100,000 l. from the Board of Works.
Belfast is the 'linen capital' of the empire, as Manchester is the
'cotton capital.' The linen trade was fostered in its infancy there
by Strafford, and encouraged by William III., as a set-off against the
abolition of the woollen trade. The first spinning of flax by steam
power was commenced in 1830, by the Messrs. Mulholland, who employ
2,000 hands, principally females. Mills have sprung up in every
direction, and it is estimated that they give employment to 15,000
persons. To supply the consumption of flax, in addition to the home
produce, about 50,000 tons are imported every year. Linen is the
staple manufacture; but industrial arts of every kind flourish, with
all the usual manifestations of wealth.

We have seen in a former chapter that the people of Londonderry, vexed
that the maiden city has been left so far behind her younger sister,
ascribe the difference to the fact that the Belfast manufacturers were
favoured with long building tenures. We hear it said often that the
Marquis of Donegal gave his tenants perpetuity leases, implying that
he acted very liberally in doing so. If, however, you speak to persons
acquainted with the local history, they will ascribe this advantage
to 'Lord Donegal's necessities.' If you ask an explanation of this
phrase, you will be told that towards the end of last century, and
later, Lord Donegal was obliged to adopt extraordinary methods
for raising money, and that the perpetuity leases in question were
purchased, and at a very high rate too. You will further learn that
the tenants were compelled to take the leases, and pay heavy fines for
them in lump sums, and that if unable to produce the money they were
evicted, and their farms were given to others who were able to pay. It
is alleged that his agent got leases in blank, ready to be filled up
when the cash was forthcoming, and that all the cash did not reach the
landlord's hands. At any rate, attempts have been made to break some
of the leases. There has been long pending litigation on the subject.
Whatever may be the defects of title on the part of the landlord,
the tenant must suffer. Dr. Hancock alludes to this fact in his
first report. Referring to Sir John Romilly's Leasing Powers Bill, he

'The details of these Bills it is not necessary now to refer to; but
there was one principle provided for in them which has been neglected
in subsequent measures. In the ordinary course of business a tenant
does not investigate his landlord's title; the cost of doing so would
be nearly always too great; besides, the landlord would not think of
consenting to the investigation on every occasion of granting a lease.
It follows from this that it is a great hardship, if a flaw should
be discovered in a landlord's title, that leases granted before the
tenants had any notice of the litigation should be bad. Take the
case of the estate which the late Duke of Wellington and Mr.
Leslie recovered from Lord Dungannon after he had been for years in
possession; or the case which is now pending for so many years between
the Marquis of Donegal and Viscount Templemore. Is it not a great
hardship that leases which tenants took, trusting in the title of
Lord Dungannon or Viscount Templemore, who were then visible owners
of great estates, should afterwards turn out to be worthless on some
point of law in title-deeds which they never had the opportunity of
seeing; and which may be so subtle as to take Courts of Law years to

Dr. Hancock says the principle that in such cases the tenant should
be protected, was neglected in subsequent measures. Now, what must the
tenants think of legislation that subjects them to be robbed of their
dearly-bought leases because of flaws, frauds or blunders with which
they could have nothing to do? The leases granted to the tenants of
Lord Donegal, however, in Belfast and the neighbourhood were generally
valid, and to these perpetuities we must undoubtedly ascribe the
existence of a middle class of remarkable independence of character,
and the accumulation of capital for manufactures and commerce. Had
Lord Donegal been able to hold the town in a state of tutelage and
dependence--had he been an 'improving landlord' of the modern type,
with an agent like Mr. Trench, so vigilant and curious that a dog
could not bark on the estate without his knowledge and consent,
Belfast might have been far behind Derry to-day--as stationary as
Bangor, Hillsborough, Antrim, or Randalstown. Under such paternal care
as Mr. Trench bestows upon tenants, with his omnipresent surveillance,
there could be no manly self-reliance, no freedom of speech or action,
no enterprise. The agent would take care that no interests should grow
up on the estate, which his chief could not control or knock down. It
is not likely that Lord Donegal would have suffered the landscape to
be spoiled, the atmosphere of the deer park and gardens to be darkened
and tainted by the smoke of factory chimneys, which could add nothing
to his rental, while crowding around him the race which his great
progenitor did so much to extirpate. So Belfast may well be thankful
that the Marquis of Donegal, for some generations, could not afford to
be 'an improving landlord,' fond of paternal intermeddling with other
people's affairs, playing the part of Providence to an inferior race.

But there is one memorable fact connected with those perpetuity leases
which applies more immediately to our purpose. The tenants who were
evicted to make way for the men who had money to advance to the lord
of the soil, feeling themselves seriously aggrieved, formed the first
of the more modern agrarian combinations under the title of 'the
Hearts of Oak;' which continued for a long time to disturb the peace
in Antrim and Down. The farms being extensively turned into pasture
by the landlords and large graziers, there was no employment for the
houseless wanderers, no provision of any kind for their support.
They consequently had no respect for the rights of property, in
the vindication of which their homes had been demolished and their
families sacrificed, because they were not able to purchase fixity of

It was, however, very fortunate for Belfast that the landlord was
obliged to sell it; that the head of the great house founded by the
conqueror of Ulster, enriched with territory so vast, should have been
under the necessity of giving a perpetual property in the soil to
some of the sons of industry. By that simple concession he did more to
advance the prosperity of the town, than could have been accomplished
by centuries of fostering care, under the shadow of feudalism. Belfast
shows, on a grand scale, what might be done on many an estate in
Ireland, in many a town and village where the people are pining away
in hopeless misery, if the iron bonds of primogeniture and entail
which now cramp landed property were struck off. The Greek philosopher
declared that if he had a standing-place he could move the earth. Give
to capital the ground of perpetuity of tenure, whereon to plant
its machinery, and it will soon lift this island from the slough of
despond. Then may it be said more truly than Grattan said it in 1782,
that Ireland had got nearer to the sun.



The history of the Manor of Geashill in the King's County furnishes
another instructive illustration of the land question and of the
effect upon the people of the system of management, under the new
school of agents, of which Mr. Steuart Trench may be regarded as the
brightest ornament, if not the apostle. The epoch was favourable for
his mission, and he was the man for the epoch; he had been quietly
training himself for the restoration of disordered estates, and the
critical emergencies of the times thrust him into the front rank of
social reformers. When he describes the wonderful revolutions wrought
by his instrumentality, the whirlwinds on which he rode, the storms
which he directed and quelled, the chaos out of which he evoked order,
he assumes that the hurricane and the chaos were the normal state of
things. A mysterious pestilence had blighted the principal food of
the people for two or three years, and brought on a desolating famine.
Millions perished by that visitation chiefly because the legislature
had persistently refused up to that period to make any provision for
the Irish poor such as it had made centuries before for the English
poor, and because no care had been taken to distribute the population
over the waste lands which their labour would have reclaimed and
fertilized; or to improve their position, so that they might not be
wholly dependent on one sort of food, and that the most precarious and
perishable. Mr. Sadler, in his work on Population, had proved that,
even in the case of Ireland before the famine, there was really no
'surplus population;' that if the resources of the country had been
developed by a wise Government, sympathising with the people, the text
which he adopted would have been applicable there: 'Dwell in the land,
and verily ye shall be fed.' There was hasty legislation to meet the
emergency, but in all the haste, the heartless economists found time
to devise clauses and provisions, by means of which, when the small
farmers had consumed all their stock to keep their families alive,
they were compelled to relinquish their holdings in order to get food
for their famishing children. They must submit to the workhouse test,
they must not hold more than a quarter of an acre of land, if they
would get relief. Under the dire instigation of hunger, in the
stupor and recklessness of their misery, they accepted any terms the
landlords chose to impose, and so whole villages disappeared from the
landscape, swept off with the besom of destruction.

The political economists (all the new school of land-agents are rigid
political economists), taught by their prophet Malthus, ascribed the
famine and every other social evil to surplus population, and to the
incurably lazy and thriftless habits of the Celtic race. According to
them the potato blight had only hastened an inevitable catastrophe.
Therefore they set to work with all their agencies and all their
might to get rid of the too prolific race, and to supplant the native
cultivators by British settlers and wealthy graziers.

This has been done ever since by a quiet and gradual process,
steadily, systematically, inexorably, propelled by many powerful
tendencies of the age, and checked only by assassination. What are the
agrarian outrages which have become so terribly rife of late, but the
desperate struggles of a doomed race to break the instruments which
pluck them out of their native soil? A generation of instruction in
the national schools and a generation of intercourse with the
free citizens of the United States, who call no man 'master' under
heaven--have taught them that it is an enormous iniquity to sacrifice
humanity to property, to make the happiness, the freedom, the very
existence of human beings, secondary to the arbitrary power and
self-interest of a small class called landlords. They regard the
'improving landlord' system as nothing but a legal and civilised
continuation of the barbarous policy of extermination by fire and
sword which we have seen pursued so ruthlessly in the seventeenth
century. It is still the land-war, conducted according to modern
tactics, aiming with deadly effect at the same object, the slow but
sure destruction of a nuisance called the 'Celtic race.' This may be
a delusion on their part; but it is the deep-rooted conviction of
priests and people, and hence the utter inadequacy of any enactment
which will not render such a policy impossible, by making the tenure
of the occupiers independent of the will of the landlords. Until such
time the peasantry will continue to offer a bloody resistance to the
legal attempts to crush them out of the country.

In this self-defensive war, they cannot cope with the armed power
of England in the open field; and they are driven upon the criminal
resource of the oppressed in all ages and all lands--secret
combination and assassination. For this crime they feel no remorse;
first, because it is _war_--just as the soldier feels no remorse
for killing the enemy in a battle; and, secondly, because their
conquerors, and the successors of those conquerors, have taught them
too well by repeated examples the terrible lesson of making light of
human life. Poor ignorant creatures, they cannot see that, while
the most illustrious noblemen in England won applause and honours
by shooting down Irish women and children like seals or otters,
the survivors of the murdered people should be execrated as cruel,
barbarous, and infamous for shooting the men that pull down the
rooftrees over the heads of their helpless families and trample upon
their household gods. These convictions of theirs are very revolting
to our feelings, but they are facts; and as facts the legislature must
deal with them. If there be a people, otherwise singularly free from
crime, who regard the assassination of the members of a certain
class with indifference, or approbation, the phenomenon is one which
political philosophy ought to be able to explain, and one which cannot
be got rid of by suspending the constitution and bringing railing
accusations against the nation.

Mr. Trench speaks with something like contempt or pity of 'good
landlords,' a class which he contradistinguishes from 'improving
landlords.' But it should be remembered that by this last phrase he
always means agents of the Trench stamp. For he observes that the
landlord himself cannot possibly do much more than authorize his agent
to do what he thinks best; and it is rather an advantage that the
proprietor should be an absentee, otherwise his good nature might
prompt him to interrupt the work of improvement. Now there is this to
be said of the good landlords, who may be counted by hundreds, and who
are found in all the counties of Ireland. Their estates are free from
the 'poetic turbulence' in which Mr. Trench is the 'stormy petrel.'
They preserved their tenants through the years of famine, and have
them still on their estates. Nor should the fact be omitted that among
those good landlords, who abhor the idea of evicting their tenants,
are to be found the lineal descendants of some of the most cruel
exterminators of the seventeenth century. Their goodness has
completely obliterated, among their people, the bitter memories of the
past. The present race of Celts would die for the men whose ancestors
shot down their forefathers as vermin. But the improving landlords run
their ploughshares through the ashes of old animosities, turning up
embers which the winds of agitation blow into flames. We seldom hear
of Ribbonism till the improving agent comes upon the scene, warring
against natural rights, warring against the natural affections,
warring against humanity, warring against the soul.

These remarks bring us to the case of the barony of Geashill, the
estate of Lord Digby, to which Mr. Trench became agent in 1857. Lord
Digby desired to obtain his services, but he did not communicate his
desire to Mr. Trench himself, though nothing would seem easier. It was
first conveyed by Lieut.-General Porter, the confidential friend of
Lord Digby, and next by Mr. Brewster, afterwards Lord Chancellor of
Ireland. When the police received a notice that the new landlord of
Geashill would certainly meet with a 'bloody death' if he persisted in
his threatened dealings with the tenants, there was no more time
for diplomatic delicacy in approaching Mr. Trench. The landlord's
extremity is Mr. Trench's opportunity. When leases are to be broken,
when independent rights are to be extinguished, or 'contracted away,'
when an overcrowded estate is to be thinned at the least possible
cost to the owner, when a rebellious tenantry are to be subdued, and
Ribbonmen are to be banished or hanged, Mr. Trench is the man to do
the work of improvement. He admits that he never had before him an
uglier job than this at Geashill, and he had the worst apprehensions
as to the danger of the enterprise.

It was nothing less than to break 120 leases, which had been granted
from time to time by the late Lord Digby during the sixty years that
he had enjoyed the property. The value of these leases was 30,600 l.,
for the terms unexpired after his death. Among those 120 leaseholders
were the descendants of English settlers, gentlemen farmers, one of
them a magistrate, and a number of substantial yeomen, the sort of men
the country so much wanted to form an independent middle class. But to
an 'improving landlord,' the existence of such a class on his estate
is intolerable. At all hazards they must be made tenants-at-will, and
brought completely under his control.

They had built houses and planted trees; they had reclaimed the deep
bog and converted it into good arable land. They had employed the
peasantry, and given them plots of ground, and, more than all, they
had allowed a number of families to squat on bits of bog by the
roadside, where they lived as well as they could; working when
there was a demand for labour, cutting turf and selling it in the
neighbouring town of Tullamore, and perhaps carrying on some little
dealings. At all events they had survived the famine; and there they
were in 1857 with their huts standing on their 'estates,' for they had
paid no rent for twenty years, and they had as good a title in law
as Lord Digby himself. Mr. Trench seems to have been horrified at
not finding the names of these householders in the rent-books of the
estate! The idea!--that there should be within the four corners of the
King's County, even on the bog of Allen, a number of natives holding
land, without a landlord! It was monstrous. But as they could not be
evicted for non-title, they were all severally tempted by the offer
of money, in sums varying from 5 l. to 20 l. each, to sell their
freeholds to the landlord. Pity they were not preserved as a remnant
of the antediluvian period, ere the ancient tenures were merged in
floods of blood. Like a bit of primitive forest, they would be more
interesting to some minds than the finest modern plantation.

It was not so easy to deal with the 120 leaseholders. To what extent
they had improved their farms before they got the leases, Mr. Trench
does not say. But as the absentee landlord had done nothing, and spent
nothing, whatever increase to the value had been made was undoubtedly
the work of the tenants; and after the leases were obtained, they
would naturally feel more confidence in the investment of their
savings in the land. However that may be, a professional man, employed
by Lord Digby, estimated the value over and above the reserved rent
at 30,600 l., which sum the new landlord proposed to put into his own
pocket, by increasing the rent one-third. The plea for this sweeping
confiscation was, that the late Lord Digby, cousin to the present, had
only a life interest in the Irish estate, and therefore, the leases
were all illegal and worthless. Accordingly the new lord commenced
proceedings to evict the whole of the tenantry for non-title. They
were astounded. They held meetings; they deliberated; they appealed to
the landlord; they appealed to the executors of the late peer, who
had large estates in England, and died worth a million sterling in
the funds, all of which he willed away from the heir of his title and
Irish estates. Says Mr. Trench:--

'It may readily be supposed that circumstances so peculiar as these
created considerable anxiety in the district. The tenantry, _many_ of
them large and respectable land-holders, now learned, for the first
time, that their leases were good for nothing in law. They had been
duly 'signed, sealed, and delivered' to them under a full belief on
their part that the contract was not only just and honourable, but
also perfectly legal; and their feelings may be imagined when they
found that they were suddenly threatened with a total loss of the
property which they had always looked upon as secure.'[1]

[Footnote 1: 'Realities of Irish Life,' p.314.]

Pending the ejectment proceedings, they were knocked about from post
to pillar, without getting any satisfaction. The landlord referred
them to the executors, although he knew well they had no legal claim
on them whatever, and that to legal claims only could they pay any
attention. The executors again referred them to their landlord, who
was determined to break the leases, come what would. Now, if the Irish
law regulating the relations of landlord and tenant were based upon
justice and equity, the wrong done by the late earl, if any, was a
wrong for which the tenants should in no way be held responsible. The
wrong was done to the heir-at-law. To him, and not to the tenants,
compensation should have been made by the executors. And after all, it
was really to him that the money was advanced to buy up the leases,
in order to save him from assassination, for the tenants had no legal
claim upon them.

The natural, proper, and honest course, then, for the landlord, was to
have kept the 30,600 l. as compensation to himself for the mistake
of his predecessor, and to let the leases stand. If he considered
the peace of the country, if he wished to inspire in the minds of
the people respect for the rights of property, or confidence in the
Government, he would not have adopted the desperate course of breaking
120 contracts, kindling the flames of agitation, and planting Ribbon
lodges all over a district hitherto peaceful and tranquil. But he was
bent on crushing the independent yeomanry into the abject condition
of tenants-at-will. To carry out this purpose, Mr. Trench was
indispensable. He knew how to tame the wild Irish. And Mr. Trench was
equal to the occasion. He went to reside a few weeks at Tullamore, to
reconnoitre the enemy's position. He writes as if this was the first
time he made acquaintance with the estate. But his own residence
was in the Queen's County, not far off; and there is good reason to
believe that he knew all about Geashill long before; and all about
every estate belonging to an English absentee in the four provinces;
for he had, growing up around him, a young generation of land-agents,
trained in all the arts of modern management, and one of the ablest
of these, his son, Mr. T.W. Trench, became his partner in this agency.
Mr. Trench's tactics are not new, though he excels all men in their
skilful application. His plan, adopted on all occasions, is to divide
and conquer. Violent measures being dangerous and contrary to his
own feelings, he trusts to diplomacy, dealing with individuals,
taken separately into a private room, where his irresistible personal
fascination invariably brings matters to a satisfactory issue.

In this case, he went over to the English executors, and persuaded
them to advance the 30,600 l. to be distributed among the tenants,
under the guarantee of Lord Digby that this sum would cover all
possible claims. Thus provided with funds, he summoned the tenants,
not all, but ten of the most influential, to meet him at Geashill. He
left this meeting, purposely, to the last day and the last hour, as a
piece of generalship. He says:--

'They appeared puzzled and anxious, and very uncertain what to do. At
length one of them proposed that they should do nothing until they had
had an opportunity of consulting the remainder of the leaseholders, of
whom there were upwards of 120 upon the estate.

'"No," replied I, "you must come to a decision now; there is a
messenger at the door on horseback, to ride to the telegraph station
at Portarlington to stop the English witnesses coming over. This must
be done within an hour, or they will start for Ireland, and _then_ it
will be out of my power to stop the lawsuit. You must determine _now_,
each man for himself, or the lawsuit must go on."

'"Will you state the amount of money you will give to each of us?"
asked one of the party.

'"Certainly," replied I, "if you will _each come separately with me
into another room_."

'They did so. I named to each an amount something less than the sum
set down by the notary, partly as a reserve, lest any tenants holding
under these leaseholders should afterwards require to be paid, and
partly lest it might be supposed we were yielding to a legal claim
already granted. After a little consideration, they all severally
signed the consent for judgment.'

The other leaseholders followed. The leases were all surrendered, and
the holders became tenants-at-will. I had the pleasure of meeting one
of the most influential of them a short time ago at Geashill--a fine
tall, patriarchal-looking gentleman, the representative of one of the
English settlers. He was waiting about humbly and patiently for an
opportunity of speaking to the young agent, who is as courteous and
kind as he is efficient. But I could not help reflecting how different
would be the bearing of the tenant if he had been still in possession
of his lease! His dwelling-house was not as grand as the stylish villa
which the landlord has erected beside it. But every stick and stone
about the place were his own property. So also were the old timber
trees, which his ancestors planted. But now every stick and stone
and tree belong to Lord Digby, and as such the agent exhibits them to
visitors--the buildings, the gardens, the trees, the hedges, the rich
pasture fields, all having such a look of comfort and independence. I
asked, 'Did you ever know a place like this old home of yours to have
been made by a tenant-at-will?' He answered in the negative.

The tenant on an 'improved estate' must be very careful about his
speech. An agent has a hundred eyes and a hundred ears. People who
seek 'favours' at the office, find it useful to be spies upon their
neighbours, to detect violations of the 'rules of the estate.' It is
mainly through the spy-system that Mr. Steuart Trench, according to
his own avowal, won most of his victories over refractory tenants. For
example, on this estate he had a woman acting as a spy at the meetings
of the Ribbonmen; and he boasted that a dog could not bark at Farney
without his knowledge. I refer to this matter here again for the
purpose of saying that I cannot regard as an improvement of the
country a system which establishes a despot on every estate, which
degrades the tenant into a day-labourer, which--land being limited and
scarce--substitutes the old, barbarous, pastoral system for tillage,
which banishes the poor and enslaves the rich. Lord Digby levelled
cottages, gardens, farms, manured the land, got an enormous crop,
which in one year paid all the expenses; and then laid out the land in
vast tracts of pasture, for which he gets from 30 s. to 40 s. an acre.
That is improvement for _him_, but not for the people, not for the
country, not for the state, not for the Queen. It may crush Ribbonism.
But for every Ribbonman crushed, a hundred Fenians spring up; and
disaffection becomes not a mere local plague, but an endemic. Mr.
Trench gives a significant hint to other landlords to follow the
example of Lord Digby, assuring them that it will '_pay_.'

A still more flagrant case of lease-breaking occurred some years ago
in the county of Galway. Dr. Hancock has put the facts of this case
before the Government in his recent report:--

'The plaintiff was the Rev. Dr. O'Fay, parish priest of Craughwell, in
the county of Galway, and the defendant the landlord on whose estate
the priest resided. About ten years ago the priest was induced to
take a farm that had been held by a former parish priest; the previous
proprietor, the father of the defendant, promising a lease for three
lives, or thirty-one years. After the priest entered into possession
the landlord ascertained that he could not fulfil his promise.

'As he did not possess such a power under the terms of the estate
settlement, he offered, instead, a lease for the priest's own
life, and 20 l. to aid in building a house. The priest continued
in possession of the farm, and paid the rent agreed on, thus, as he
alleged, accepting the arrangement proposed. He was on excellent terms
with the landlord, and expended 70 l. in permanent improvements, and
did not ask for the 20 l. which the landlord had promised. In 1854 the
landlord died, and his son, the defendant, succeeded to the property.
He gave notice to all his yearly tenants of an intention to raise
their rents. The priest claimed to have a promise of a lease, and the
agent of the property, during the landlord's absence abroad, admitted
this claim, and did not raise the rent. The landlord said he had no
notice of his father's promise; he, however, allowed the priest to
remain in possession, and the priest expended 400 l. in buildings, on
the faith that he would not be disturbed. A dispute subsequently arose
about trespass, and the fences on the boundary between the priest's
farm and some land in the possession of the landlord. The landlord
served notice to quit, and brought an ejectment. After some delay
judgment was given in his favour, subject to an application to the
Court of Chancery to compel him to fulfil his father's promise of a

The Master of the Rolls thus characterised the law which justifies the
robbery of the tenants by unscrupulous and vindictive landlords:--

'Even if the Rev. Dr. O'Fay had no claim except as tenant from year to
year, I have no hesitation in stating that, although in point of law
on the authorities I have referred to, and particularly the case of
Felling _v._ Armitage, the petitioner's suit could not be sustained,
_yet noticing can be more repugnant to the principles of natural
justice than that a landlord should look on at a great expenditure
carried on by a tenant from year to year, without warning the tenant
of his intention to turn him out of possession_. The defendant's offer
to allow Dr. O'Fay to remove the buildings was a mockery. _I have no
jurisdiction to administer equity in the natural sense of that term,
or I should have no difficulty whatever in making a decree against the
defendant._ I am bound to administer an artificial system, established
by the decisions of eminent judges, such as Lord Eldon and Sir William
Grant, and _being so bound, I regret much that I must administer
injustice in this case, and dismiss the petition_, but I shall dismiss
it without costs. _I should be very glad for the sake of justice that
my decision should be reversed by the Court of Appeal._'

Lest it might be supposed that this was the opinion of a single judge,
we find in the Court of Appeal equally strong views stated:--It
was thrown out that it was a case for amicable settlement, but the
respondent's counsel assured the Court that his client 'had resolved
to spend his fortune, if necessary, in resisting the claim of the
Rev. Dr. O'Fay.' Lord Justice Blackburne pronounced this to be a very
irrational determination, although he had to decide that the claim
could not be sustained in law or equity.

Lord Chancellor Napier, in concluding his judgment, said:--

'I think I am not overstepping my duty in suggesting to the
respondent, that, under all the circumstances of this case, he will
best maintain the character and honour of a British officer, satisfy
the exigencies of justice, and uphold the rights of property, by
making _such an arrangement_ with Dr. O'Fay, as to the possession of
this farm, _as may leave him the full benefit of an expenditure made
in good faith, and with the reasonable expectation of having the full
benefit of it sufficiently secured by an undisturbed possession_.'

It is a favourite theory with the new school of agents and improving
landlords, that long leases cause bad cultivation; in other words,
that industry prospers best where there is no security that you can
reap what you have sown, except the honour of a man whose interest it
is to appropriate the fruits of your labours, which he can _legally_
do. Now, in every class and profession, there are failures,--persons
that are good for nothing, indolent, improvident, and thriftless. If
such a man has a long lease at a low rent, he may be overwhelmed in
debt, and leave his land in very bad condition. Others may imitate
their aristocratic superiors in their contempt for labour and their
habits of expenditure, and so get into a state of hopeless poverty on
a good estate. If there are cases where industrious sober men are the
worse for having an old lease, it should be remembered that the most
insecure of all tenures is a lease dependent on a single bad life,
which may drop at any hour. But there are other causes of the facts
urged against long tenures, for which the legislature is responsible,
not the unimproving tenant. Dr. Hancock explains this point very

'Instances of bad cultivation and neglect of improvements, where long
leases exist, are sometimes brought forward to show the inutility of
tenure as a security for capital, and the strange economic theory
is propounded that a precarious interest is more favourable to the
investment of capital than a secure one. As well might the state of
landed property in Ireland before the Incumbered Estates Court was
established be adduced as an argument against property in land. The
remedy, however, which the legislature applied to incumbered estates
of large proprietors was not to destroy property in land, but simply
to secure its prompt, cheap, and effectual transfer to solvent hands.

'For tenants' interests under leases where the value is small, and
where the interests have become complicated, the Landed Estates
Court is too expensive, and so these interests remain often for years
untransferred, in the hands of some one who has a very limited and
often uncertain interest in them. Such a leaseholder is deterred from
making improvements by the state of the law which deprives him of the
entire value of his improvements if anyone should disturb him under
a prior charge or claim, however obscure or unknown, affecting his
interest. The remedy is to be found in an extension of the principle
of the Record of Title Act to the local registry of small leasehold
interests, and in the providing for the local sale of such interests
in a cheap manner, with an absolute title.'



We have been told over and over again that the business of Ireland,
and all its improvements, requiring education and integrity, are
carried on 'by the Protestants, by whose intelligence, and labour,
mental and bodily, its prosperity, such as it is, has been produced.'
This assertion has been made with great confidence, by many writers
and speakers. It is a gross exaggeration, and absurd as it is gross. I
say nothing of the unseemly egotism of a dominant caste, thus parading
its own merits, flaunting its plumes, strutting and crowing over the
common folk--of this pharisaic spirit of the ascendant Protestant,
standing close to the altar, reciting to God and the world the number
of his resplendent virtues, and scornfully contrasting his excellent
moral condition with the degraded Catholic--the vile publican and
sinner, overwhelmed with enormous guilt. These monopolising Pharisees,
who laboured at such a rate to assert their natural superiority, as
the favourites of Heaven, and members of the Sovereign's church, over
a race which England enabled them to subjugate and impoverish, have
found no trumpeter so loud as Master Fitzgibbon, a chancery judge. In
the same spirit the last census has been analysed by one of the ablest
defenders of the Irish establishment, the Rev. Dr. Hume, of Liverpool,
in order to prove that everything good in Ireland has been done by
the Protestants, and everything bad by the Catholics. But he does not
state fairly the conditions of the race. He does not state that one of
the competitors had been master for centuries, well-fed, well-trained,
possessed of all advantages which give strength, skill, courage, and
confidence, while the other was ill-fed, untrained, enfeebled, and
_over-weighted_, having to work out of himself the slavish spirit
which oppression had produced, and to gain, by extra efforts, the
skill which the law had forbidden him to acquire. Nevertheless the
Catholics have acquired skill, and the extent to which the empire is
dependent on their knowledge of the industrial arts is much greater
than many people suppose. Of the farming class in Ireland, 76 per
cent. are Roman Catholics. But we are indebted to the obnoxious race
in other respects than as producers of food.

From the classification of occupations and professions, we learn that
the Roman Catholics bear the following proportions to the Protestants
of all denominations.

Persons employed in the manufacture of:          Roman Catholics.

Skin clothing                                      .77 per cent.
Woollen do.                                        .88    "
Flax do.                                           .43    "
Cotton do.                                         .53    "
Straw do.                                          .66    "
Silk do.                                           .66    "
Miscellaneous do.                                  .67    "
In producing furniture                             .84    "
In unclassed industrial employments                .84    "
In amusements                                      .80    "
In architecture                                    .78    "
In making machinery                                .76    "
In conveyance and travelling                       .73    "
In literature and education                        .56    "
In charity and benevolence                         .52    "
In health                                          .50    "
In science and art                                 .47    "
In justice and government                          .46    "
In banking and agency                              .40    "

There are other suggestive figures in the census, bearing on
this question. While three-fourths of the farmers are Catholics,
three-fourths of the land-agents are Protestants, who, as a rule,
have an unconquerable antipathy to the Catholic clergy, as the only
obstacle to their absolute power over the tenants, with whom they find
it hard to sympathise. Of farm labourers and domestic servants, nine
out of ten belong to the race supposed by some to be incapable of
virtue and loyalty. Again, of the whole British army of all ranks, 37
per cent. are Irishmen, and of these Irish soldiers, 67 per cent. are
Catholics. More than three-fourths of the magistrates are Protestants;
and they bear about the same proportion on the grand juries. According
to the theory and practice of the constitution, all power, legislative
and administrative, must be based on the ownership of land. The
rate-payers have a voice indeed, but it is generally nothing but
an echo of the landlord's voice; what else can it be when they are
tenants-at-will, depending on the mercy of the proprietor for the
means of existence? In county offices, the Protestants have an
overwhelming majority. It is the same in all the offices filled by
government patronage, except the judges of the superior courts. There
Catholics are in the majority, because they had obtained seats in the
House of Commons.

On the boards of guardians the mass of the poor might expect that
a majority of guardians would be prompted by national and religious
feeling to sympathise with them, so that they would find in the master
and matron, the doctor and the relieving officer, something like the
natural tenderness which a common kindred and creed inspire. But half
the guardians are _ex-officio_ members, as magistrates; nearly all
landlords and Protestants. They have in addition 'property votes,' and
'residence votes;' so that, with their influence over the elections,
they are generally able to pack the board; and in that case the
officials are almost invariably Protestants and conservatives. I know
a union in which three-fourths of the rate-payers are Roman Catholics;
and yet, with the utmost efforts of the priests, they were not able to
elect a single Catholic guardian. To meet the landlord pressure,
some of the rate-payers were required to sign their voting papers in
presence of their pastors, yet so terrible was that pressure that they
afterwards took them to the agent's office, and, to make assurance
doubly sure, tore them up before his face. I have been told by a
priest, that such is the mortal dread of eviction, or of a permanent
fine in the form of increased rent, that he had known tenants who,
when produced in the witness-box, denied on oath acts of oppression of
which they had been bitterly complaining to himself, and which he well
knew to be facts.

Thus the land-war rages at every board of guardians, in every
dispensary, in every grand jury room, at every petty sessions,
in every county court, in every public institution throughout the
kingdom. The land-agent is the commanding officer, his office is a
garrison, dominating the surrounding district. He is able, in most
cases, to defy the confessional and the altar; because he wields
an engine of terror generally more powerful over the mind of the
peasantry than the terrors of the world to come. Armed with the 'rules
of the estate' and with a notice to quit, the agent may have almost
anything he demands, short of possession of the farm and the home of
the tenant. The notice to quit is like a death warrant to the family.
It makes every member of it tremble and agonise, from the grey-headed
grandfather and grandmother, to the bright little children, who read
the advent of some impending calamity in the gloomy countenances and
bitter words of their parents. The passion for the possession of land
is the chord on which the agent plays, and at his touch it vibrates
with 'the deepest notes of woe.' By the agent of an improving landlord
it is generally touched so cunningly, that its most exquisite torture
cannot easily be proved to be a grievance. He presents an alternative
to the tenant; he does less than the law allows. He could strike a
mortal blow, but he lends a helping hand. Resistance entails ruin;
compliance secures friendship. Give up the old _status_, and accept
a new one: cease to stand upon _right_, consent to hang upon _mercy_,
and all may be well.

Passing a cottage by the road-side, one of the kindest and best of
those agents said to me, 'See with what infatuation these people cling
to their old places! There is a man in that dilapidated cabin, with
only one acre of ground. It is an eyesore. I have offered him a nice
new slated cottage with ten acres, within a short distance, and he
obstinately refuses to quit.'

Why did he refuse? I suppose, because the place was _his own_. The
house was probably built by his father; it is the house in which he
was born, endeared to him, no doubt, by many powerful associations,
little appreciated by those who never condescend to read the 'simple
annals of the poor.' He felt, that if, like his neighbours, he moved
into a house built by the landlord, he would cease to be a free man,
and would pass under the yoke of a _master._ I was with some visitors
in one of the new cottages. The wife of the cottier with smiles
assented to all that was said as to the neatness and comfort of the
place. I thought the smiles were forced. I was last in going out, and
I heard her heave a heavy sigh. Perhaps she longed for the old home
and its freedom, envying the lot of the sturdy peasant to whom I have
alluded. Poor fellow! he must give way at last. But his proud manhood
is the stuff of which Hampdens are made.

I have devoted much time and attention to personal enquiries from town
to town, from village to village, and from house to house, seeking
corroborative evidence from men of all ranks and professions, on the
effect of the _Improved Land System_ on the working classes, and I
will here faithfully record as briefly as possible the result of my
enquiries. I must premise a few words as to the principles of the
system which is called 'English.'

1. There is the principle of _contract_, by which alone any tenant
is to be permitted to occupy land. There is to be no foothold in the
island, from the centre all round to the sea, from the top of the
highest mountain to the shore at low-water-mark, for any Irishman in
his native land, unless he obtains it by contract from a landlord and
pays for it.

2. There is the principle of _compensation_ for unexhausted
improvements at the rate of five or six per cent. on the outlay,
provided the improvements have been made with the knowledge and
consent of the landlord. A certain number of years is held to be
sufficient to recoup the tenant for his outlay. If he is removed
before that time he is entitled to the balance of his invested
capital; just as if the relation were strictly commercial, and as if
he had no further claim than his percentage. If the landlord makes the
improvement--which he prefers doing, on the new system--he requires
the tenant to pay at the rate of four to six per cent. in the form of
rent--a clear gain to the landlord, who can borrow money on much lower
terms, and can hardly invest his capital so profitably or so safely

3. _Absenteeism_ is no disadvantage or loss to the country. This
principle is in great favour with the agents. There is no theme on
which they are so eloquent or so argumentative. In the absence of the
landlord the agent is all-powerful. What the Irish lord deputy was to
the Tudors and Stuarts, the Irish agent now is to the great absentee
proprietor residing in London or Paris. He will undertake to
demonstrate that the West-end of London would be just as prosperous if
the Queen and her court resided constantly at Balmoral or Killarney;
if the parliament met alternately in Edinburgh and Dublin, and if
the government offices were all at Liverpool. With the blessing of
absenteeism, houses in London would be built as fast, and would bring
as high rents; trade would be as brisk, artizans of all sorts as well
paid, life as happy, and the Londoners as well content. The Irish,
however, have, in their ignorance of political economy, conceived the
idea, that if the millions sterling sent annually out of the country
to London were spent among those by whose labour the money is made,
there would be more employment for all sorts of tradesmen, more
business for the shopkeepers, more opportunities of advancement for
the farmers' sons, more houses built, more trees planted, more land
reclaimed, more factories established, more money stirring, more
wealth, more life, more enjoyment, an immense increase of national
prosperity. The agents say that this is all a delusion.

4. The next principle of the new agents is this--and to carry it out
is the aim of all their improvements--that their mission is to produce
the greatest amount of rent from the smallest number of tenants.

5. To reduce the population by _emigration_ or other means until there
is barely a sufficient number of labourers to attend the agricultural
machines, and herd the cattle.

6. To discourage _marriage_ in every possible way, and to diminish
pauperism till there shall be no further use of the workhouses but to
serve as lying-in hospitals for the thrifty spinsters, as they do
in Cumberland and Westmoreland--where the arrangement seems the
most natural thing in the world. It is certainly not an unnatural
consequence of the practice of men and women sleeping in the same

Now let us see the working of this new system in Ireland; for it is at
work more or less extensively in all the four provinces. The rules
of the estate, when rigidly enforced, as they generally are by the
improving agents, tend steadily, powerfully, to break down the small
farmers. They are disappearing by thousands every year. Some take
their chance across the Atlantic. Others fall into the condition of
labourers, and may earn 2 s. a day on the estate. This will last for
awhile until the land is drained, manured, and turned into permanent
pasture. Then their occupation is gone. There is nothing more for them
to do. There is no place for them, no room, no support in their native
land. The grass will grow without their labour, and the bullocks will
fatten without their care.

We are constantly hearing of the immense rise in wages since the
famine. Well, they are nominally higher, but in the old times the
labourer could get more for 8 d. or 10 d. than he can now get for 1
s. 6 d. or 2 s. Fuel is now three times as dear as it was, because the
'rules of the estate' will not allow the tenants to sell turf even
on the verge of extensive bogs. Milk, which was formerly abundant and
very cheap, is scarcely to be had at all now in the country towns
and villages, because the land is devoted to feeding sheep and 'dry
cattle.' Under the old system, the cottiers in the small towns and
villages, as well as on the roads in the country, were enabled to keep
pigs. The pig paid the rent, and made manure which was put out on the
ground of some neighbouring farmer, hired as 'conacre.' The crop of
potatoes thus obtained was a great help in the winter months, when
employment was rarely to be had. This practice still prevails in
Ulster. The farmer puts in the crop for the manure, the cottier paying
the farmer's rent--5 s. to 10 s. a rood, or whatever it may be. With
this help the family get over the winter, and feed the pig, without
which help, they say, it would be impossible to exist, even with
constant employment at a shilling a day. But on the estates of
improving landlords in the other provinces, the rules forbid the
tenant to give the use of any ground for conacre. He must not, on pain
of eviction, take manure for such a purpose, though it would help to
enrich his land for the ensuing year. The evicted cottiers and small
farmers are forced to go to towns and villages, shut up in unwholesome
rooms. When they have been thus so far got rid of, the most ingenious
devices are resorted to in order to render it impossible for them to
live. By the 'rules of the estate,' the supply of necessaries is
cut off on every side. Without fuel, without milk, without potatoes,
unless bought at a high rate for ready money, how are they to live?
The strong members of the poor man's family emigrate or go to
service; the weak ones and the young children pine away in a state
of semi-starvation, preferring that to the best fare in the hated

The people are fully sensible of the causes of these privations. They
know that they have been forced into this condition by the landlords
and their improving agents, induced in some cases by the temptation of
a few pounds to surrender their little holdings. The lord lieutenant
of the King's County has thus cleared an immense district, and has
himself become a grazier and a cattle-dealer on a monster scale,
attending the markets in person, and driving hard bargains with the
farmers and jobbers. By such means the population of that county has
been reduced one-third in the last twenty years. The moral aspect of
this new system is worthy of consideration. It is thus presented by
Archdeacon Redmond of Arklow, one of the most moderate and respected
parish-priests in Ireland. When lately presenting an address to Lord
Granard from his Wexford tenantry, he said:--

'I have always heard the house of Forbes eulogised for its advocacy of
civil and religious liberty, and the name of Grogan Morgan has become
a household word through this county as one of the best landlords in
Ireland. He never broke down a rooftree during or since the terrible
famine. Under his fostering care they have all tided over the
calamitous time, and are happy and prosperous in their homes. He did
not think his estate overcrowded, nor did he avail himself of the
mysterious destruction of the fruits of the earth, to clear off
beings made in God's image, and to drive them to the poorhouse, the
fever-shed, or the emigrant ship, to whiten the bottom of the sea
with their bones, or to face the moral and physical perils of
the transatlantic cities. He did not read his bible, like Satan,
backwards, nor did he turn out the Son of God in the person of His
poor. Hence his name is in benediction, and his estates are more
prosperous than the estates of those who forget God in their worldly
wisdom, and would seem to have no belief in a judgment to come. What
a happiness it is, my Lord and Lady Granard, for you to have such a
heritage, and to know that you live in the hearts of your tenantry,
who would spill the last drop of their blood to shield you and your
dear children from hurt and harm!'

Let it not be supposed that such sentiments are peculiar to the
Catholic clergy, or that their causes exist only in the south and
west. The Rev. Dr. Drew, a rector in the county Down, an Orange
chaplain, a veteran champion of Protestantism and Toryism, but an
honourable and humane man, wrote the following letter last autumn:--

If the magnificent lecture of Mr. Butt had done nothing more than
elicit this letter from Dr. Drew, it would have been much. But will
not the thoughts of many hearts be revealed in the same manner? What
a number of plain-speaking Drews we shall have denouncing tyranny when
their consciences are relieved from the incubus of the Establishment!

  _To Isaac Butt, Esq., LL.D._

'My dear Butt--If every other man in the world entertained doubts of
my sincerity, you, at least, would give me credit for honesty and
just intentions. I write to you accordingly, because my mind has been
stirred to its inmost depths by the perusal of your address in my
native city of Limerick. I do not regard the subject of your address
as a political one. It ought to be regarded solely as a question of
humanity, justice, common sense, and common honesty. I wish my lot had
never been cast in rural places. As a clergyman I hear what neither
landlords nor agents ever hear. I see the depression of the people;
their sighs and groans are before me. They are brought so low as
often to praise and glorify those who, in their secret hearts, are the
objects of abhorrence. All this came out gradually before me. Nor did
I feel as I ought to feel in their behalf until, in my own person and
purse, I became the victim of a system of tyranny which cries from
earth to heaven for relief. Were I to narrate my own story it
would startle many of the Protestants of Ireland. There are good
landlords--never a better than the late Lord Downshire, or the living
and beloved Lord Roden. But there are too many of another state of
feeling and action. There are estates in the north where the screw is
never withdrawn from its circuitous and oppressive work. Tenant-right
is an unfortunate and delusive affair, simply because it is almost
invariably used to the landlord's advantage. Here we have an election
in prospect, and in many counties no farmer will be permitted to think
or act for himself. What right any one man has to demand the surrender
of another's vote, I never could see. It is an act of sheer felony--a
perfect "stand-and-deliver" affair. To hear a man slavishly and
timorously say, "I must give my votes as the landlord wishes," is an
admission that the legislature, which bestowed the right of voting on
the tenant, should not see him robbed of his right, or subsequently
scourged or banished from house and land, because he disregarded a
landlord's nod, or the menace of a land agent. At no little hazard of
losing the friendship of some who are high and good and kind, I write
as I now do.--Yours, my dear Butt, very sincerely,


  'Dundrum, Clough, County Down,
  September 7, 1868.'

Some resident landlords employ a considerable number of labourers, to
each of whom they give an excellent cottage, an acre of land, and
the grass of a cow, with work all the year round at seven shillings
a week. The tenants are most comfortable and most grateful, while the
praise of those landlords is in the mouths of the peasantry all round
the country. But these considerate landlords are in a minority. As a
rule, on the estates where the improvement system is going on, where
farms are being consolidated, and grazing supersedes tillage, an iron
pressure weighs upon the labouring classes, crushing them out of
the country. It is a cold, hard, calculating, far-reaching system of
inhumanity, which makes the peasant afraid to harbour his own flesh
and blood. It compels the grandmother to shut the door in the face of
the poor homeless orphan, lest the improving agent should hear of the
act of sheltering him from the pitiless storm, not more pitiless than
the agent himself. The system of terrorism established by the threats
of eviction de-humanizes a people remarkable for their hospitality to
the poor. Mr. Thomas Crosbie, of Cork, a gentleman whom I believe to
be as truthful and honourable as any agent in Ireland, gives appalling
illustrations of this in his account of 'The Lansdowne Estates,'
published in 1858. Mr. Trench has given the English public several
pretty little romances about these estates; but he omitted some
realities that ought to have impressed themselves upon his memory as
deeply as any of his adventures. Mr. Crosbie found that the 'rules
of the estate,' which were rigidly enforced, forbid tenants to build
houses for their labourers, 'the consequence of which was that men and
women servants, no matter how great the number, must live under one
roof.' The rules forbid marriage without the agent's permission. A
young couple got married, and were chased away to America; and 'the
two fathers-in-law were not merely warned; they were punished for
harbouring their son and daughter, by a fine of a gale of rent.' It
was a rule 'that no stranger be lodged or harboured in any house
upon the estate, lest he should become sick or idle, or in some way
chargeable upon the poor-rates.' 'Several were warned and punished for
giving lodging to a brother-in-law, a daughter,' &c. 'A poor widow got
her daughter married without the necessary permission; she was served
with a notice to quit, which was withdrawn on the payment of three
gales of rent.' Mr. Crosbie gives a number of cases of the kind. The
following are the most remarkable. A tenant, Timothy Sullivan, of
Derrynabrack, occasionally gave lodging to his sister-in-law, whilst
her husband was seeking for work. He was afraid to lodge both or
either; 'but the poor woman was in low fever, and approaching her
confinement. Even under such circumstances his terror was so great
that he removed her to a temporary shed on Jeremiah Sullivan's land,
where she gave birth to a child. She remained there for some time.
When "the office" heard of it, Jeremiah Sullivan was sent for and
compelled to pay a gale of rent (as fine), and to throw down the shed.
Thus driven out, and with every tenant on the estate afraid to
afford her a refuge, the miserable woman went about two miles up the
mountain, and, sick as she was, and so situated, took shelter in a dry
_cavern_, in which she lived for several days. But her presence even
there was a crime, and a mulct of another gale of rent was levied off
Jeremiah Sullivan. Thus, within three weeks he was compelled to
pay two gales of 3 l. 2 s. 6 d. each. It was declared also that
the mountain being the joint property of Jeremiah Sullivan, Timothy
Sullivan, and Thady Sullivan, Timothy Sullivan was a participator in
the crime, and should be fined a gale of rent. The third, it appears,
escaped.' 'S.G.O.' narrated another horrifying case in the _Times_,
at the period of its occurrence, in 1851. Abridged, it runs thus:--'An
order had gone forth on the estate (a common order in Ireland) that
no tenant was to admit any lodger into his house. This was a general
order. It appears, however, that sometimes special orders were given;
and one was promulgated that Denis Shea should not be harboured. This
boy had no father living. He had lived with a grandmother, who had
been turned out of her holding for harbouring him. He had stolen
a shilling, a hen--done such things as a neglected twelve-year-old
famishing child will do. One night he came to his aunt Donoghue, who
lodged with Casey. The latter told the aunt and uncle not to allow him
into the house, as the agent's drivers had given orders about him.
The aunt beat him away with a pitchfork, the uncle tied his hands
with cord behind his back. The poor child crawls to the door of a
neighbour, and tries to get in. The uncle is called to take him away,
and he does so. He yet returns with hands still tied behind, having
been severely beaten. The child seeks refuge in other cabins; but all
were forbidden to shelter him. He is brought back by some neighbours
in the night, who try to force the sinking child in upon his relation.
There is a struggle at the door. The child was heard asking some one
to put him upright. In the morning there is blood upon the threshold.
The child is stiff dead--a corpse, with its arms tied; around it every
mark of a last fearful struggle for shelter--food--the common rights
of humanity.' Chief Baron Pigot tried the case, and gave a statement
of the facts in his charge which Mr. Trench ought to have quoted, as a
faithful recorder of 'realities.'

'On the western estate, that of Cahirciveen, there was some difference
in the rules. If a son or daughter married, the father was obliged
to retire with an allowance of 'a cow's grass' or grazing for his
support. 'Only the newly married person will be left on the land, or
any portion of it, even though the farm should contain 100 acres,
or even though there should be two farms. This arbitrary regulation
operates injuriously in point of morality, and keeps the land
uncultivated. The people have to go to Nedeen, a distance of forty or
fifty miles, to get leave to marry.'[1]

[Footnote 1: See the 'North British Review,' No. CI. p.193.]

The Kenmare tenantry have recovered from the fearful shock of the
famine, after thousands of deaths from hunger, and thousands shipped
off to America at 4 l. 10 s. a head. Mr. Trench's son, Mr. Townshend
Trench, the pictorial illustrator of his father's book, is the acting
agent, and an eloquent propagandist of his father's principles. The
young marquis paid a visit to his tenantry in 1868, and he was almost
worshipped. It is gratifying to know that in a speech on that occasion
he promised to see and judge for himself.

'I feel,' he said, 'that my visit to Kenmare has taught me a valuable
lesson. As you all know, I was called to my present position at a very
young age, and I felt when I came in for my property that I had
much to learn; and that is the reason why I was so anxious to travel
through the country, and study the desires and comfort of the people.
That will afford me occupation for many a year to come, and it will
afford me an occupation not only interesting but pleasing.
Nothing will do me a more hearty pleasure than to see the marks of
civilisation and progress in Kenmare--and not alone in Kenmare, but in
the whole country; and I shall hail every manifestation of improvement
with delight.'

Lord Lansdowne's system is beautiful, but it is unfinished. Let him
'crown the edifice with _liberty_.' He possesses a giant's power, and
he uses it like an angel. When he comes to trouble the waters, the
multitude gathers around the fountain to be healed. But his visits
are, like angels' visits, few and far between. Many of the sick and
impotent folk, after long waiting, are not able to get near till the
miracle-worker has departed. An absentee landlord, be he ever so good,
must delegate his power to an agent. Agents have good memories,
and their servants, the bailiffs, are good lookers-on. There is
a hierarchy in the heaven of landlordism--the under-bailiff, the
head-bailiff, the chief-clerk in the office, the sub-agent, the
head-agent. All these must be submissively approached and anxiously
propitiated before the petitioner's prayers can reach the ears of Jove
himself, seated aloft on his remote Olympian throne. He may be,
and for the most part really is--if he belongs to the old stock of
aristocratic divinities--generous and gracious, incapable of meanness,
baseness, or cruelty. But the tenant has to do, not with the absentee
divinity, but with his priest--not with the good spirit, but his
medium; and this go-between is not always noble, or disinterested,
or unexacting. To him power may be new--a small portion of it may
intoxicate him, like alcohol on an empty stomach. He was not born to
an inheritance of sycophancy; it comes like an _afflatus_ upon him,
and it turns his head. It creates an appetite, like strong drink,
which grows into a disease. This appetite is as capricious as it is
insatiable. Hence, the chief characteristic of landlord power, as
felt by the tenant, is _arbitrariness_. The agent may make any rule
he pleases, and as many exceptions to every rule as he pleases. He
may allow rents to run in arrear; he may suddenly come down upon the
defaulter with 'a fell swoop;' he may require the rents to be paid
up to the day; he may, without reason assigned, call in 'the hanging
gale;' he may abate or increase the rents at will; he may inflict
fines for delay or give notices to quit for the sole purpose of
bringing in fees to his friend or relative, the solicitor. But
whatever he may choose to do, the tenant has nothing for it but to
submit; and he must submit with a good grace. Woe to him if the agony
of his spirit is revealed in the working of his features, or in an
audible groan! Most of the poor fellows do submit, till their hearts
are broken--till the hot iron has entered their souls and seared their
consciences. When the _slave_ is thus finished, the agent and his
journeymen are satisfied with their handiwork; their 'honours' can
then count on any sort of services they may choose to exact--may bid
defiance to the priest and the agitator, and boast of an orderly and
deserving tenantry devoted to the best of landlords, who is their
natural protector. It would be wicked to interfere with these amicable
persons. Why talk about leases? The tenants will not have them; they
don't want security or independence by contract. So most of the agents
report--but not all. There are noble exceptions which relieve the
gloomy picture.

There is certainly one disadvantage connected with a settlement of the
land question which would abolish the arbitrary power of proprietors
and their agents--it would put an end to the romance of Irish
landlordism. The Edgeworths, the Morgans, the Banims, the Carletons,
and the Levers would then be deprived of the best materials for their
fictions. The fine old family, over-reached and ruined by a dishonest
agent; the cruelly evicted farmer, with his wife and children
fever-stricken, and his bedridden mother cast out on the roadside on
Christmas Eve, exposed to the pelting of the hailstorm, while their
home was unroofed and its walls levelled by the crowbar brigade; the
once comfortable but now homeless father making his way to London, and
trying day after day to present a petition in person to his landlord,
repulsed from the gate of the great house, and laughed at for his
frieze and brogue by pampered flunkeys. Then he travels on foot to his
lordship's country-seat, scores or hundreds of miles--is taken up, and
brought before the magistrates as 'an Irish rogue and vagabond.' At
length he meets his lordship accidentally, and reveals to him the
system of iniquity that prevails on his Irish estate at Castle
Squander: Next we have the sudden and unexpected appearance of the god
of the soil at his agent's office, sternly demanding an account of his
stewardship. He gives ready audience to his tenants, and fires with
indignation at bitter complaints from the parents of ruined daughters.
Investigation is followed by the ignominious eviction of the
tyrannical and roguish agent and his accomplices, a disgorging of
their ill-gotten wealth, compensation to plundered and outraged
tenants, the liberal distribution of poetical justice right and left.

Many other agents have followed Mr. Trench's example in forbidding
to marry, and commanding to abstain from hospitality and charity. An
ejectment was lately obtained at the quarter sessions in a southern
county against a widow who had married without leave, or married a
different person from the one the agent selected. But it is supposed
that the threat of assassination prevented a recourse to extremities
in this and other cases. For the people seem with one consent to have
made a desperate stand against this cruel tyranny. A landlord said
to me, 'No one in this part of the country would _presume_ to evict
a tenant now from fear of assassination. _That_ is the tenant's

The wretched outcasts, whom 'improvement' has swept off the estates,
are crowded into cities and towns, without employment, without food.
Feeling bitterly their degradation and misery, and taught to blame the
Government, they become demoralized and desperately disaffected. From
these fermenting masses issues the avenging scourge of Fenianism--'the
pestilence that walketh in darkness, and slayeth at noonday.'

For my part, I cannot understand the meaning of improving a country by
disinheriting and banishing its inhabitants. I do not understand men
who say the population is too dense, and yet give to one family a
tract of land large enough to support ten families, turning out the
nine to make room for the one. A great deal has been said about the
evils of small farms. But the most disturbed and impoverished parts of
Ireland are those in which the farms are largest; while the two most
prosperous and best ordered counties--Armagh and Wexford--are the
counties in which small farms most abound. I call a reluctant witness,
Master Fitzgibbon, to testify that when the Irish tenant, be his
holding ever so small, gets common justice and is not subjected to
caprice, he gives no trouble. That gentleman informs us that there are
650 estates of all magnitudes, from 100 l. to 20,000 l. a-year, under
the control and management of the court of chancery; the total rents
of these amount to 494,056 l. a-year payable by 28,581 tenants. These
estates are in all parts of Ireland, not only in all the provinces,
but in all the counties, without exception; and, according to Master
Fitzgibbon, they fairly represent the tenantry of the whole country.
He has 452 of the estates under his own jurisdiction, and the rents
of these amount to 330,809 l., paid by 18,287 tenants. He has now
been ten years in the office, during which 'the rents have been paid
without murmuring or complaints worth noticing.' 'The pressure of
legal remedies for these rents has been very little used; the
number of evictions absolutely trifling; and of between 400 and 500
receivers, who collect these rents, _not one has ever been assailed_,
or interfered with, or threatened in the discharge of his duty, as
far as I have been able to discover; and I am the person to whom the
receiver should apply for redress if anything of the kind occurred.
It is very well known that my ears are open to any just complaint
from any tenant, and yet I am very seldom appealed to, considering the
great number of tenants; and whenever a complaint is well-founded,
it is promptly and effectually redressed, at scarcely any expense of
costs. I believe the other three Masters would make substantially
a similar report to this in respect of the estates under their

Master Fitzgibbon proceeds to state that 'on one estate there are
2,500 tenants, paying 13,000 l.,--being an average of 6 l. a-year.
This estate has been sold, and three of the lots fetched over 30
years' purchase of the yearly profit rents. The fourth lot is held by
small cottiers, at rents which average only 2 l., and this lot fetched
23 years' purchase. This estate has been under a receiver for three
years, and there has never been one complaint from a tenant. What is
stated of this estate may be said of every one of them in all the four
provinces.' He adds: 'Clamour, agitation, or violence of any kind I
have never had to deal with amongst the tenantry of any one of these
estates since I came into office.'

Another witness of larger views, and free from unhappy prejudices
against the majority of his countrymen--Mr. Marcus Keane, agent to the
Marquis of Conyngham--in a letter to Colonel Vandeleur, M.P., lately
gave the result of his experience for thirty years as agent of several
large estates, and as a landlord, on the Irish land question. I
submit his suggestions to my readers, as eminently worthy of the
consideration of statesmen at the present time:--

'The outline of measures submitted for your consideration combines
the very unusual recommendation of meeting, on the one hand, with
the approbation of some good landlords of the higher class (who, like
yourself, have long been practically acknowledging the just claims of
tenants), and, at the same time, of satisfying the claims of many of
the warmest advocates of the tenant class. It is calculated to protect
the farmers from selfish landlords, whose conduct has tended much to
produce the serious disaffection that now prevails.

'I need not burthen you with a lengthened recital of the facts which
render such legislation absolutely necessary to the tranquillity of
society. In outline, however, they may be briefly stated--

'_First_--The great mass of Irish tenantry have no better title to
their holdings than the will of their landlords.

'_Second_--Education is daily rendering the tenant class more
impatient of the condition of dependence which their want of title

'_Third_--Every good tenant must improve his land more or less, in
order to live in comparative comfort.

'_Fourth_--The rentals of Ireland are steadily following the
improvements of the tenants. Some landlords suffer a considerable
margin to exist between the actual value and the rent paid; while
others lose no opportunity of forcing the rents to the highest amount
that circumstances permit.

'_Fifth_--Although good tenants must improve in order to live
comfortably, their improvements are not one-fourth of what the
condition of the country invites, and are far below what they would be
if the occupiers were afforded equitable security.

'_Sixth_--Trade, manufactures, and industrial occupations require
local accumulations of surplus capital in order to their prosperity;
and such accumulations are hindered by the general want of security
of tenure. Society at large is therefore deeply interested in the
protection of the tenant class.

'_Seventh_--The increased expense of the governmental establishments,
civil and military, which Irish disaffection entails, renders it a
matter of imperial importance that the Irish land question should be
satisfactorily settled.

'Irish rentals have, in some counties, increased more than tenfold
since the beginning of the eighteenth century.'

The next witness shall be a landlord, one of the best and noblest of
his class. At a tenant-right meeting of the county Longford, the Earl
of Granard said:--'The proposition commences by asserting that which
has been acknowledged by successive administrations--that the present
state of the land laws of Ireland is highly unsatisfactory. The
necessity for their reform has been urged upon parliament since the
days of O'Connell up to the present time. The want of reform upon the
most vital question which affects the prosperity of Ireland has
been the fruitful source of agrarian disturbance, of poverty and
of misfortune in every county in Ireland. To take an example near
home,--what rendered Ballinamuck a by-word for deeds of violence? Why,
that system which permitted a landlord to treat the people of that
district with high-handed injustice. And why is that district
now amongst the most peaceable in the county? Because it is now
administered by its proprietor in a spirit of justice and fair play,
and because that proprietor recognises the fact that property has its
duties as well as its rights. I believe that similar results are to
be obtained everywhere that the warm-hearted and kindly people of this
country are treated with justice. In his evidence before Mr. Maguire's
committee, Mr. Curling, the excellent agent of an equally excellent
landlord--Lord Devon--speaking of his property in Limerick, said that
the most warm-hearted and grateful people he had ever met with were
the Irish. He was asked, "Grateful for what?" and he replied, "Even
for fair play." That is to say, they were grateful for that which in
every country save this would have been theirs by law. And it is to
a people thus described by, mind you, not an Irishman, but an English
gentleman--to a people, I believe, the most religious and affectionate
in Europe, that the simple act of justice, of repealing unjust
statutes, has been refused. I say it advisedly, that to the system
of land laws, which we hope to alter--which at least we are here to
protest against--are to be attributed those fearful agrarian outrages
which disgrace the fair fame of our country. A celebrated minister of
police in France, whenever he heard of a conspiracy, used to ask who
was the woman, believing that there was always one mixed up with such
organisations, and in a similar spirit, whenever I hear of an outrage
in Ireland, I am always inclined to enquire, "Who is the landlord?"
For I do not hear of such things occurring on estates where justice
and fair play are the rule and not the exception. But brighter days
are now in store for us. We have at the head of affairs the most
earnest, the most conscientious minister that has ever sat on the
treasury bench. He has promised to redress your grievances, and having
as his able lieutenants Mr. Bright, who has ever a kindly word for
Ireland, and Lord Kimberley, whose first act after giving up the
lord-lieutenancy was to say to the House of Lords that until the
church and land questions were settled there would be neither peace
nor contentment in the land--he must be successful. As to what we
want there can be no doubt. The five points of the Irish charter
are--fixity of tenure at reasonable rents; recognition of right of
occupancy as distinct from right of ownership; standard valuation
for letting purposes; retrospective compensation for 20 years; and
arbitration courts in cases of dispute between owner and occupier.'

I cannot better express the conclusion of the whole matter than in
the words of a writer in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, who thoroughly
understands the question. Nothing can be more truthful and accurate
than the way in which he puts the tenants' case:--

'"Morally," they say, "we are part-owners. We have a moral right to
live here. If a great landlord considered that he could make more
of his estate by clearing it of its inhabitants, and accordingly
proceeded to do so, he would do a cruel act. What we wish is to see
our moral rights converted into legal rights. If you ask us precisely
what it is that we wish, we reply that we wish to be able to live in
moderate comfort in our native land, and to be able to make our plans
upon the assumption that we shall not be interfered with. It is
not for us ignorant peasants to draw an Act of Parliament upon this
subject, or to say how our views are to be reconciled with your
English law, which, on other accounts, we by no means love. You, the
English Government, must find out for yourselves how to do that. What
we want is to be secure and live in reasonable comfort, and we shall
never be at rest, and we will never leave you at peace, till this is
arranged in some way or other." We do not say whether this feeling is
right or wrong, we do not say how it is to be dealt with, but we do
say that it is as intelligible, not to say as natural, a feeling as
ever entered into human hearts, and we say, moreover, that it would
be very difficult to exaggerate either its generality, its force, its
extent, or the degree to which it has been excited by recent events.
We are deeply convinced that to persist in regarding the relation
between landlord and tenant as one of contract merely, to repeat again
and again in every possible form that all that the Irish peasants
have a right to say is that they have made a hard bargain with their
landlords which they wish the legislature to modify, is to shut
our eyes to the feelings of the people, feelings which it will be
difficult and also dangerous to disregard. The very gist and point
of the whole claim of the tenants is that their moral right (as they
regard it) is as sacred, and ought to be as much protected by law, as
the landlords' legal right, and that it is a distinct grievance to a
man to be prevented from living in Ireland on that particular piece
of land on which he was born and bred, and which was occupied by his
ancestors before him.'

The whole drift of this history bears on this point. The policy of the
past must be reversed. The tenants must be rooted in the soil instead
of being rooted out. 'Improvement' must include the people as well
as the land, and agents must no longer be permitted to arrogate to
themselves the functions of Divine Providence.

    '_Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret._'

One of the best pamphlets on the Irish Land Question is by Mr. William
M'Combie, of Aberdeen. A practical farmer himself, his sagacity
has penetrated the vitals of the subject. His observations, while
travelling through the country last year, afford a remarkable
corroboration of the conclusions at which I have arrived. Of the new
method of 'regenerating Ireland,' he says:--

'In it the resources of the soil--to get the most possible out of it
by the most summary process--is the great object; the people are of
little or no account, save as they can be made use of to accomplish
this object. But, indeed, it is not alone by the promoters of the
grand culture that the people have been disregarded, but by Irish
landlords, generally, of both classes. By the improving landlords--who
are generally recent purchasers--they are regarded merely as
labourers; by the leave-alone landlords as rent-producers. The one
class have ejected the occupiers, the other have applied, harder and
harder, the screw, until the "good landlord"--the landlord almost
worshipped in Ireland at this hour--is the landlord who neither evicts
his tenants nor raises their rents. The consequences are inevitable,
and, over a large portion of the island, they are patent to every
eye--they obtrude themselves everywhere. The people are poor; they are
despondent, broken-spirited. In the south of Ireland decay is written
on every town. In the poorer parts you may see every fifth or sixth
house tenantless, roofless, allowed from year to year to moulder
and moulder away, unremoved, unrepaired.... To make room for these
large-scale operations, evictions must go on, and as the process
proceeds the numbers must be augmented of those who are unfit to
work for hire and unable to leave the country. The poor must be
made poorer; many now self-supporting made dependent. Pauperism must
spread, and the burden of poor rates be vastly increased. If the
greatest good of the greatest number be the fundamental principle of
good government, this is not the direction in which the state should
seek to accomplish the regeneration of Ireland. The development of the
resources of the land ought to be made compatible with the improvement
of the condition of the people.'



The difficulty of understanding the case of Ireland is proverbial.
Its most enlightened friends in England and Scotland are often charged
with 'gross ignorance of the country.' They might excuse themselves by
answering, that when they seek instruction from Irishmen, one native
instructor is sure to contradict the other. Yet there must be some
point of view from which all sides of the Irish question can be seen,
some light in which the colours are not confused, the picture is not
exaggerated, the features are not distorted. Every nation has its
idiosyncrasy, proceeding from race, religion, laws, institutions,
climate, and other circumstances; and this idiosyncrasy may be the
key of its history. In Ireland three or four nationalities are bound
together in one body politic; and it is the conflict of their several
idiosyncrasies which perplexes statesmen, and constitutes the main
difficulty of the Irish problem. The blood of different races is
mingled, and no doubt greatly modified by ages of intercourse.
But _religion_ is an abiding force. The establishment of religious
equality in Ireland is a glorious achievement, enough in itself to
immortalise any statesman. It is a far greater revolution than was
effected by the Emancipation Act, and more to the credit of the chief
actor; because, while Mr. Gladstone did spontaneously what he
firmly believed to be right in principle. Sir Robert Peel did, from
necessity, what he as firmly believed was wrong in principle. But no
reasonable man expected that the disestablishment of the Church would
settle all Irish questions; in fact, it but clears the way for the
settlement of some of the most important and urgent. It makes it
possible for Irishmen of every creed to speak in one voice to
the Government. Their respective clergy, hitherto so intent on
ecclesiastical claims and pretensions, will no longer pass by on the
other side, but turn Samaritans to their bleeding country, fallen
among the thieves of Bigotry and Faction. There are many high
Protestants--indeed, I may say all, except the aristocracy--who, while
firmly believing in the vital importance of the union of the three
kingdoms, earnestly wishing that union to be real and perpetual,
cannot help expressing their conviction that Ireland has been greatly
wronged by England--wronged by the legislature, by the Government,
and most of all by the crown. In no country in the world has loyalty
existed under greater difficulties, in none has it been so ill
requited, in none has so much been done as if of set purpose to
starve it to death. In the reign of Elizabeth the capricious will of
a despotic sovereign was exerted to crush the national religion, while
the greatest military exploits of her ablest viceroys consisted of
predatory excursions, in which they slaughtered or carried away the
horses and cattle, burned the crops and houses, and laid the country
waste and desolate, in order to create famines for the wholesale
destruction of the population, thus spoiled and killed as a punishment
for the treason of their chiefs, over whom they had no control.

In the reigns of James I. and Charles I. there was a disposition among
the remnant of the people--

    To fly from petty tyrants to the throne.

But the Stuarts appealed to Irish loyalty merely for the support of
their dynasty, and William III. laid the laurels won on the banks of
the Boyne upon the altar of English monopoly. In the reigns of Anne
and the three Georges, law was made to do the work of the sword, and
the Catholics of Ireland, constituting the mass of the nation,
knew their sovereign only as the head of an alien power, cruel and
unrelenting in its oppression. They were required to love a German
prince whom they had never seen. He called himself the father of
his subjects; and he had millions of subjects on the other side of a
narrow channel, whom he never knew, and never cared to know. When at
length the dominant nation relented, and wished to strike the penal
chains from the hands of her sister, the king forbade the act of
mercy, pleading his conscience and his oath as a bar to justice and to
freedom, but yielding at last to English state necessity, and robbing
concession of its grace, of all its power to conciliate. From the
battle of the Boyne to Catholic emancipation, the king of Ireland had
never set foot on Irish soil, except in the case of George IV., whose
visit was little better than a melodramatic exhibition, repaid by
copious libations of flattery, which however failed to melt his
bigotry, or to persuade him to redeem his solemn promises and pledges,
until, nine years later, he was compelled to yield by the fear of
impending civil war.

Ireland may get from her sister, England, everything but that for
which the heart yearns--affection--that which alone 'can minister to
a mind diseased, can pluck from the memory its rooted sorrow, and rase
out the written troubles from the brain.' That is just what Ireland
needs above all things. She wants to be kept from brooding morbidly
over the dismal past, and to be induced to apply herself in a cheerful
spirit to the business of life. The prescriptions of state physicians
cannot fully reach the root of the disease. Say that it is a
sentimental malady--a delusion. What is gained by saying _that_,
if the sentiment or the delusion makes life wretched, unfits for
business, produces suicidal propensities, and renders _keepers_

In theory, Ireland is one with England; in practice, she is hourly
made to feel the reverse. _The Times_, and all the journals which
express the instincts of the dominant nation, constantly speak of the
Irish people as '_the subjects of England_, whom Englishmen have
a right to control. They are the subjects of the Queen only in a
secondary sense--_as_ the Queen of England, and reigning over them
through England. Every sovereign, from Queen Elizabeth to Queen
Victoria, was sovereign of Ireland merely in this subordinate sense,
even when there was an Irish parliament. The King of _Ireland_ could
speak to his Irish parliament only as he was advised by his English
ministers; and their advice was invariably prompted by English
interests. Her king was not _hers_ in the true sense. His _heart_ and
his company were wholly given to another, to whose pride, power,
and splendour she was made to minister. That state of things
still continues in effect, and while it lasts Ireland can never be
contented. Her heart will always be disquieted within her. Something
bitter will ever be bubbling up from the bottom of that troubled

Nor let it be supposed that this is due to a peculiar idiosyncrasy
in Ireland--to some unhappy congenital malformation, or some original
taint in the blood. It has been often asked whether England would have
submitted to similar treatment from Ireland if their relations were
reversed. Englishmen have not answered that question because they
cannot understand it. They find it difficult to apply the Divine
maxim, 'Do as you would be done by.' in their dealings with other
nations. But they can scarcely conceive its application to their
dealings with Ireland, any more than the American planter could have
conceived the duty of fraternizing with his negroes. If we draw from
this fact the logical inference, we shall be at a loss to discern
whether the Celt or the Saxon suffers more from the moral perversity
of his nature. The truth is, both are perverted by their unnatural
relations, which are a standing outrage on the spirit of Christianity.

The Emperor of Austria long laboured to govern one nation through
another and for another, in right of conquest, and we know the result
in Italy and Hungary. Lombardy, though well cultivated and materially
prosperous, could never be reconciled to Austrian rule. Even the
nobility could not be tempted to appear at court. Venetia was more
passionately and desperately hostile, and was consequently crushed by
military repression, till the country was turned into a wilderness,
and the capital once so famous for its commerce and splendour, became
one of the most melancholy scenes of ruin and desolation to be found
in the world. The Austrians, and those who sympathised with Austria
as the great conservative power of the Continent, ascribed all this
to the perversity of the Italian nature, and to the influence of
agitators and conspirators. Austria was bountiful to her Italian
subjects, and would be more lenient if she could, but their vices of
character and innate propensity to rebellion, rendered necessary
a system of coercion. Hence the prisons were full of political
offenders; the soldier and the executioner were constantly employed in
maintaining law and order. All the Emperor wanted was that his Italian
provinces should be so thoroughly amalgamated with Austria, as to form
one firmly united empire, and that the inhabitants should be content
with their position as _Austrian_ subjects, ruled by Austrian
officials. But this was precisely what they could not or would not
be. 'They smiled at the drawn dagger and defied its point.' They would
sacrifice their lives, but they would not sacrifice their nationality
at the bidding of an alien power.

This illustrates the force of the national sentiment, and the
tremendous magnitude of the calamities to which its persistent
violation leads. But the case of Hungary is still more apposite as an
illustration of the English policy in Ireland. The Hungarians had
an ancient constitution and parliament of their own. The Emperor of
Austria was their legitimate king, wearing the crown of Hungary. In
this capacity the Hungarians were willing to yield to him the most
devoted loyalty. But he wanted to weld his empire into a compact
unity, and to centralise all political power at Vienna, so that
Austria should be the head and heart of the system, and the other
provinces her hands and her feet. Hungary resisted, and revolted. The
result was a desolating civil war, in which she was triumphant, till
the Czar came to the rescue of his brother despot, and poured his
legions in overwhelming numbers into the devoted country. Hungary was
now at the feet of her sovereign, and Austria, the dominant state,
tried to be conciliatory, in order to bring about the desired
amalgamation and consolidation of the empire. She did so, with
every apparent prospect of success, and it was generally considered
throughout Europe that there was an end of the Hungarian kingdom.
But Hungarian nationality survived, and still resisted Austrian
centralisation. The Hungarians struggled for its recognition
constitutionally, manfully, with admirable self-control, moderation,
and wisdom, until at length they achieved a peaceful victory. Their
sovereign reigns over them as King of Hungary; he and the empress
dwell among them, without Austrian guards. Their children are born
among them, and they are proud to call them natives of Hungary. The
Hungarians, as subjects of _Austria_, were discontented, miserable,
incurably disaffected. As subjects of their own king (though he is
also Emperor of Austria) they are intensely loyal. They are prosperous
and happy, because they are free. And though they have their
distinctions of race and religion, they are united. The Magyars of
Hungary correspond very nearly to the Protestants of Ireland. Though
a minority, their energy, their education, their natural talent
for organisation and government, their love of freedom, their frank
recognition of the rights of conscience, enable them to lead without
inspiring jealousy, just as the Protestants of Ireland were enabled to
lead in 1782, notwithstanding the existence of Protestant Ascendancy.
Religious equality is not a cause of tranquillity in itself. It
tranquillises simply because it implies the absence of irritation.
It takes a festering thorn out of the side of the unestablished
community--a thorn which inflames the blood of every one of its
members. Let worldly interest, political power, and social precedence
cease to be connected with the profession of religion, and religious
differences would cease to produce animosity and intolerance. If the
Magyars had been the Hungarian party of Protestant ascendancy, and if
the Protestant interest had also been the Austrian interest; if the
mission of the Magyars had been to act as a garrison, to keep down the
Roman Catholic majority, their cause could never have triumphed till
Protestant ascendancy should be abolished. But Hungarian Protestantism
did not need such support, although the Pope has as much authority in
Hungary as in Ireland. Of course the cases of Hungary and Ireland
are in many respects dissimilar. But they are alike in this: their
respective histories establish the great fact that the most benevolent
of sovereigns, and the wisest of legislatures, can never produce
contentment or loyalty in a kingdom which is ruled _through_ and _for_
another kingdom.

We can easily understand that when the light of royalty shines upon a
country _through a conquering nation still dominant_, the medium is of
necessity dense, cold, refracting, and discolouring. Of this the
best illustration is derived from the relations between Austria and
Hungary, now so happily adjusted to the unspeakable advantage of
both nations. Austrian rule was unsympathetic, harsh, insolent,
domineering, based upon the arrogant assumption that the Hungarians
were incapable of managing their own affairs without the guidance
of Austrian wisdom and the support of Austrian steadiness. But the
Hungarians, united among themselves, putting their trust, not in
boastful, vapouring, and self-seeking agitators, but in honest,
truthful, high-minded, and capable statesmen, persevered in a course
of firm, but temperate and constitutional, national self-assertion,
until the Austrians were compelled to put away from them their
supercilious airs of natural superiority, and to concede the principle
of international equality and the right of self-government.

What sickens the reader of Irish history most of all is the anarchy
of the old clan system, the everlasting alternation of outrages
and avenging reprisals. One faction, when it felt strong and had a
favourable opportunity, made a sudden raid upon another faction, taken
at a disadvantage, plundering and killing with reckless fury. The
outraged party treasured up its anger till it had power to retaliate,
and then glutted its vengeance without mercy in the same way. When
this fatal propensity to mutual destruction was restrained by law, it
broke out from time to time in other ways. What was wanted to cure it
effectually was a strong, steady, central government, such as England
enjoys herself. But the very system which is most calculated to foster
factiousness is the one which has reigned for centuries in Dublin
Castle. The British sovereign knows no party, and, whatever other
sovereigns have done, Queen Victoria has never forgotten this
constitutional principle. But the Irish lord-lieutenant is always a
party-man, and is always surrounded by party-men. They were Whigs or
Tories, Liberals or Conservatives, often extreme in their views and
violent in their temper. The vice of the old clan system was its
tendency to unsettle, to undo, to upset, to smash and destroy. Instead
of counteracting that vice (which still lingers in the national
blood), by a fixed, unchanging system of administration, based on
principles of unswerving rectitude, which knows no distinction
of party, no favouritism, England ruled by the alternate sway of

_The Times_, referring to the debate on the Irish Church, remarked
that the viceroyalty was more and more 'a mere ornament.' It is
really nothing more. The viceroy has no actual power, and if he has
statesmanship, it is felt to be out of place. He can scarcely give
public expression to his sentiments on any political questions without
offending one party or the other, whereas the estate of the realm
which he represents is neutral and ought to keep strictly to neutral
ground. As to the effect of the office in degrading the national
spirit among the nobility and gentry, we could not have a better
illustration than the fact that the amiable Lord Carlisle was
accustomed, at the meeting of the Royal Dublin Society, to tell its
members that the true aim, interest, glory, and destiny of Ireland was
to be a pasture and a dairy for England,--a compliment which seemed to
have been gratefully accepted, or was at all events allowed to pass.

But even as an 'ornament' the viceregal system is a failure. The
Viceroy with his family ought to be the head of society in Ireland,
just as the Queen is in England. The royal family are the same to all
parties and classes, showing no partiality on the ground of politics,
but smiling with equal favour and recognition upon all. In Ireland,
however, a liberal lord lieutenant is generally shunned by the
Conservative portion of the aristocracy, which forms the great
majority of the class. On the other hand the Conservatives flock in
large numbers to the court of a Tory Viceroy, while Liberals stand
aloof. Instead therefore of being a centre of union to all sections
of the best society, and bringing them together, so that they may know
one another, and enjoy the advantages due to their rank, the viceregal
court operates as a source of jealousy and division. So that, looking
at the institution as a mere ornament of society, as a centre of
fashionable life and refining influences, facilitating intercourse
between ranks and classes, bringing the owners of land and the men
of commerce more in harmony, it is not worth preserving. On the other
hand it produces some of the worst features of conventionalism. It
cultivates flunkeyism and servility, while operating as a restraint
upon the manly expression of opinion. It fosters a spirit of spurious
aristocracy, which shows itself in contempt for men who prefer honest
industry to place-hunting and insolvent gentility.

But while I thus speak of the viceregal court as at present
constituted, I still maintain that, like Hungary, this country is
so peculiarly situated, and is animated by so strong a spirit of
nationality, that it ought to have a court of its own, and a sovereign
of its own. The case of Hungary shows how easily this great boon might
be granted, and how gratifying the results would be to all the parties
concerned. The Queen ought to reside in Ireland for some portion of
the year. A suitable palace should be provided for the royal family.
The Prince of Wales, during her majesty's reign, ought to be the
permanent Viceroy, with the necessary addition to his income. The
office would afford an excellent training for his duties as king. The
attraction of the Princess of Wales would make the Irish court very
brilliant. It would afford the opportunity of contact with real
royalty, not the shadowy sort of thing we have had--reflected through
Viceroys very few of whom were ever _en rapport_ with the Irish
nation. Not one of them could so speak to the people as to elicit a
spark of enthusiasm. Of course they could not have the true ring of
royalty, for royalty was not in them. But they could not play the part
well. One simple sentence from the Queen or the Prince of Wales, or
even from Prince Arthur, would be worth all the theatrical pomp
they could display in a generation. Those noblemen had no natural
connection with the kingdom, fitting them to take the first place
in it. They were not hereditary chiefs. They were not elected by the
people. They were mere 'casual' chief-governors; and they formed
no ties with the nation that could not be broken as easily as the
spider's thread. The _hereditary principle_ has immense force in
Ireland. The landlords are now seeking to weaken it; or rather they
are ignoring it altogether, and substituting the commercial principle
in dealing with their tenants, preferring not the most devoted
adherents of the family, but the man with most money. But I warn them
that they are doing so at the peril of their order. A prince who was
_heir presumptive to the throne as Viceroy_, and who, when he ascended
the throne, should be crowned King of _Ireland_, as well as King of
Great Britain, crowned in his own Irish palace, and on the _Lia Fail_
or stone of destiny, preserved at Westminster, would save many a
million to the British exchequer, for it would be no longer necessary
to support a large army of occupation to keep the country. If the
throne of Queen Victoria stood in Dublin, there is not a Fenian in
Ireland who would not die in its defence. Standing in Westminster it
is doubtful whether its attraction is sufficient to retain the
hearts even of Orangemen. There, it is the _English_ throne. So the
_Englishman_ regards it with instinctive jealousy. He feels it is his
own; but, say what we may, the Irish loyalist, when he approaches it,
is made to feel, by a thousand signs, that he is a stranger and an
intruder. He returns to his own bereaved country with a sad heart,
and a bitter spirit. Can he be _Anglicised_? Put this question to
an English philosopher, and he will answer with Mr. Froude--'Can the
Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?' We can bridge
the channel with fast steamers; but who will bridge the gulf, hitherto
impassable, which separates the English Dives from the Irish Lazarus?

'We have,' said Canning, 'for many years been erecting a mound--not to
assist or improve, but to thwart nature; we have raised it high above
the waters, and it has stood there, frowning hostility and effecting
separation. In the course of time, however, the necessities of man,
and the silent workings of nature, have conspired to break down this
mighty structure, till there remains of it only a narrow isthmus,

  Between two kindred seas,
  Which, mounting, viewed each other from afar,
  And longed to meet.

What then, shall be our conduct? Shall we attempt to repair
the breaches, and fortify the ruins? A hopeless and ungracious
undertaking! Or shall we leave them to moulder away by time and
accident--a sure but distant and thankless consummation; or, shall
we not rather cut away at once the isthmus that remains, allow free
course to the current which has been artificially impeded, and float
upon the mingling waves the ark of our glorious constitution?'

Much has been done since Canning's time to remove the narrow isthmus.
Emancipation cut deep into it. The disestablishment of the Irish
Church submerged an immense portion of it. If Mr. Gladstone's land
bill be equally effective, a breach will be made through which the
two kindred seas will meet, and, in their commingling flux and reflux,
will quickly sweep away all minor obstacles to their perfect union. A
just settlement of the land question will reconcile the two races, and
close the war of seven centuries. That is the rock against which the
two nationalities have rushed in foaming breakers, lashed into fury
by the storms of faction and bigotry. Remove the obstruction, and the
world would hear no more the roaring of the waters. Then would
float peacefully upon the commingling waves the ark of our common
constitution, in which there would be neither Saxon nor Celt, neither
English nor Irish, neither Protestant nor Catholic, but one united,
free, and mighty people. Then might the Emperor of the French mark the
epoch with the announcement--'England has done justice to Ireland!'


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