In fact, however, the Revolution found Ireland emancipated from the dominion of the English colony. As early as the year 1686, James had determined to make that island a place of arms which might overawe Great Britain, and a place of refuge where, if any disaster happened in Great Britain, the members of his Church might find refuge. With this view he had exerted all his power for the purpose of inverting the relation between the conquerors and the aboriginal population. The execution of his design he had intrusted, in spite of the remonstrances of his English counsellors, to the Lord Deputy Tyrconnel. In the autumn of 1688, the process was complete. The highest offices in the state, in the army, and in the Courts of justice, were, with scarcely an exception, filled by Papists. A pettifogger named Alexander Fitton, who had been detected in forgery, who had been fined for misconduct by the House of Lords at Westminster, who had been many years in prison, and who was equally deficient in legal knowledge and in the natural good sense and acuteness by which the want of legal knowledge has sometimes been supplied, was Lord Chancellor. His single merit was that he had apostatized from the Protestant religion; and this merit was thought sufficient to wash out even the stain of his Saxon extraction. He soon proved himself worthy of the confidence of his patrons. On the bench of justice he declared that there was not one heretic in forty thousand who was not a villain. He often, after hearing a cause in which the interests of his Church were concerned, postponed his decision, for the purpose, as he avowed, of consulting his spiritual director, a Spanish priest, well read doubtless in Escobar. Thomas Nugent, a Roman Catholic who had never distinguished himself at the bar except by his brogue and his blunders, was Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Stephen Rice, a Roman Catholic, whose abilities and learning were not disputed even by the enemies of his nation and religion, but whose known hostility to the Act of Settlement excited the most painful apprehensions in the minds of all who held property under that Act, was Chief Baron of the Exchequer. Richard Nagle, an acute and well read lawyer, who had been educated in a Jesuit college, and whose prejudices were such as might have been expected from his education, was Attorney General.
Keating, a highly respectable Protestant, was still Chief Justice of the Common Pleas: but two Roman Catholic judges sate with him. It ought to be added that one of those judges, Daly, was a man of sense, moderation and integrity. The matters however which came before the Court of Common Pleas were not of great moment. Even the King's Bench was at this time almost deserted. The Court of Exchequer overflowed with business; for it was the only court at Dublin from which no writ of error lay to England, and consequently the only court in which the English could be oppressed and pillaged without hope of redress. Rice, it was said, had declared that they should have from him exactly what the law, construed with the utmost strictness, gave them, and nothing more. What, in his opinion, the law, strictly construed, gave them, they could easily infer from a saying which, before he became a judge, was often in his mouth. "I will drive," he used to say, "a coach and six through the Act of Settlement." He now carried his threat daily into execution. The cry of all Protestants was that it mattered not what evidence they produced before him; that, when their titles were to be set aside, the rankest forgeries, the most infamous witnesses, were sure to have his countenance. To his court his countrymen came in multitudes with writs of ejectment and writs of trespass. In his court the government attacked at once the charters of all the cities and boroughs in Ireland; and he easily found pretexts for pronouncing all those charters forfeited. The municipal corporations, about a hundred in number, had been instituted to be the strongholds of the reformed religion and of the English interest, and had consequently been regarded by the Irish Roman Catholics with an aversion which cannot be thought unnatural or unreasonable. Had those bodies been remodelled in a judicious and impartial manner, the irregularity of the proceedings by which so desirable a result had been attained might have been pardoned. But it soon appeared that one exclusive system had been swept away only to make room for another. The boroughs were subjected to the absolute authority of the Crown. Towns in which almost every householder was an English Protestant were placed under the government of Irish Roman Catholics. Many of the new Aldermen had never even seen the places over which they were appointed to bear rule. At the same time the Sheriffs, to whom belonged the execution of writs and the nomination of juries, were selected in almost every instance from the caste which had till very recently been excluded from all public trust. It was affirmed that some of these important functionaries had been burned in the hand for theft. Others had been servants to Protestants; and the Protestants added, with bitter scorn, that it was fortunate for the country when this was the case; for that a menial who had cleaned the plate and rubbed down the horse of an English gentleman might pass for a civilised being, when compared with many of the native aristocracy whose lives had been spent in coshering or marauding. To such Sheriffs no colonist, even if he had been so strangely fortunate as to obtain a judgment, dared to intrust an execution.
Thus the civil power had, in the space of a few months, been transferred from the Saxon to the Celtic population. The transfer of the military power had been not less complete. The army, which, under the command of Ormond, had been the chief safeguard of the English ascendency, had ceased to exist. Whole regiments had been dissolved and reconstructed. Six thousand Protestant veterans, deprived of their bread, were brooding in retirement over their wrongs, or had crossed the sea and joined the standard of William. Their place was supplied by men who had long suffered oppression, and who, finding themselves suddenly transformed from slaves into masters, were impatient to pay back, with accumulated usury, the heavy debt of injuries and insults. The new soldiers, it was said, never passed an Englishman without cursing him and calling him by some foul name. They were the terror of every Protestant innkeeper; for, from the moment when they came under his roof, they ate and drank every thing: they paid for nothing; and by their rude swaggering they scared more respectable guests from his door.
Such was the state of Ireland when the Prince of Orange landed at Torbay. From that time every packet which arrived at Dublin brought tidings, such as could not but increase the mutual fear and loathing of the hostile races. The colonist, who, after long enjoying and abusing power, had now tasted for a moment the bitterness of servitude, the native, who, having drunk to the dregs all the bitterness of servitude, had at length for a moment enjoyed and abused power, were alike sensible that a great crisis, a crisis like that of 1641, was at hand. The majority impatiently expected Phelim O'Neil to revive in Tyrconnel. The minority saw in William a second Oliver.
On which side the first blow was struck was a question which Williamites and Jacobites afterwards debated with much asperity. But no question could be more idle. History must do to both parties the justice which neither has ever done to the other, and must admit that both had fair pleas and cruel provocations. Both had been placed, by a fate for which neither was answerable, in such a situation that, human nature being what it is, they could not but regard each other with enmity. During three years the government which might have reconciled them had systematically employed its whole power for the purpose of inflaming their enmity to madness. It was now impossible to establish in Ireland a just and beneficent government, a government which should know no distinction of race or of sect, a government which, while strictly respecting the rights guaranteed by law to the new landowners, should alleviate by a judicious liberality the misfortunes of the ancient gentry. Such a government James might have established in the day of his power. But the opportunity had passed away: compromise had become impossible: the two infuriated castes were alike convinced that it was necessary to oppress or to be oppressed, and that there could be no safety but in victory, vengeance, and dominion. They agreed only in spurning out of the way every mediator who sought to reconcile them.
During some weeks there were outrages, insults, evil reports, violent panics, the natural preludes of the terrible conflict which was at hand. A rumour spread over the whole island that, on the ninth of December, there would be a general massacre of the Englishry. Tyrconnel sent for the chief Protestants of Dublin to the Castle, and, with his usual energy of diction, invoked on himself all the vengeance of heaven if the report was not a cursed, a blasted, a confounded lie. It was said that, in his rage at finding his oaths ineffectual, he pulled off his hat and wig, and flung them into the fire. But lying Dick Talbot was so well known that his imprecations and gesticulations only strengthened the apprehension which they were meant to allay. Ever since the recall of Clarendon there had been a large emigration of timid and quiet people from the Irish ports to England. That emigration now went on faster than ever. It was not easy to obtain a passage on board of a well built or commodious vessel. But many persons, made bold by the excess of fear, and choosing rather to trust the winds and waves than the exasperated Irishry, ventured to encounter all the dangers of Saint George's Channel and of the Welsh coast in open boats and in the depth of winter. The English who remained began, in almost every county, to draw close together. Every large country house became a fortress. Every visitor who arrived after nightfall was challenged from a loophole or from a barricaded window; and, if he attempted to enter without pass words and explanations, a blunderbuss was presented to him. On the dreaded night of the ninth of December, there was scarcely one Protestant mansion from the Giant's Causeway to Bantry Bay in which armed men were not watching and lights burning from the early sunset to the late sunrise.
A minute account of what passed in one district at this time has come down to us, and well illustrates the general state of the kingdom. The south-western part of Kerry is now well known as the most beautiful tract in the British isles. The mountains, the glens, the capes stretching far into the Atlantic, the crags on which the eagles build, the rivulets brawling down rocky passes, the lakes overhung by groves in which the wild deer find covert, attract every summer crowds of wanderers sated with the business and the pleasures of great cities. The beauties of that country are indeed too often hidden in the mist and rain which the west wind brings up from a boundless ocean. But, on the rare days when the sun shines out in all his glory, the landscape has a freshness and a warmth of colouring seldom found in our latitude. The myrtle loves the soil. The arbutus thrives better than even on the sunny shore of Calabria. The turf is of livelier hue than elsewhere: the hills glow with a richer purple: the varnish of the holly and ivy is more glossy; and berries of a brighter red peep through foliage of a brighter green. But during the greater part of the seventeenth century, this paradise was as little known to the civilised world as Spitzbergen or Greenland. If ever it was mentioned, it was mentioned as a horrible desert, a chaos of bogs, thickets, and precipices, where the she wolf still littered, and where some half naked savages, who could not speak a word of English, made themselves burrows in the mud, and lived on roots and sour milk.
At length, in the year 1670, the benevolent and enlightened Sir William Petty determined to form an English settlement in this wild district. He possessed a large domain there, which has descended to a posterity worthy of such an ancestor. On the improvement of that domain he expended, it was said, not less than ten thousand pounds. The little town which he founded, named from the bay of Kenmare, stood at the head of that bay, under a mountain ridge, on the summit of which travellers now stop to gaze upon the loveliest of the three lakes of Killarney. Scarcely any village, built by an enterprising band of New Englanders, far from the dwellings of their countrymen, in the midst of the hunting grounds of the Red Indians, was more completely out of the pale of civilisation than Kenmare. Between Petty's settlement and the nearest English habitation the journey by land was of two days through a wild and dangerous country. Yet the place prospered. Forty-two houses were erected. The population amounted to a hundred and eighty. The land round the town was well cultivated. The cattle were numerous. Two small barks were employed in fishing and trading along the coast. The supply of herrings, pilchards, mackerel, and salmon was plentiful, and would have been still more plentiful, had not the beach been, in the finest part of the year, covered by multitudes of seals, which preyed on the fish of the bay. Yet the seal was not an unwelcome visitor: his fur was valuable, and his oil supplied light through the long nights of winter. An attempt was made with great success to set up iron works. It was not yet the practice to employ coal for the purpose of smelting; and the manufacturers of Kent and Sussex had much difficulty in procuring timber at a reasonable price. The neighbourhood of Kenmare was then richly wooded; and Petty found it a gainful speculation to send ore thither. The lovers of the picturesque still regret the woods of oak and arbutus which were cut down to feed his furnaces. Another scheme had occurred to his active and intelligent mind. Some of the neighbouring islands abounded with variegated marble, red and white, purple and green. Petty well knew at what cost the ancient Romans had decorated their baths and temples with many coloured columns hewn from Laconian and African quarries; and he seems to have indulged the hope that the rocks of his wild domain in Kerry might furnish embellishments to the mansions of Saint James's Square, and to the choir of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
From the first, the settlers had found that they must be prepared to exercise the right of selfdefence to an extent which would have been unnecessary and unjustifiable in a well governed country. The law was altogether without force in the highlands which lie on the south of the vale of Tralee. No officer of justice willingly ventured into those parts. One pursuivant who in 1680 attempted to execute a warrant there was murdered. The people of Kenmare seem however to have been sufficiently secured by their union, their intelligence and their spirit, till the close of the year 1688. Then at length the effects of the policy of Tyrconnel began to be felt even in that remote corner of Ireland. In the eyes of the peasantry of Munster the colonists were aliens and heretics. The buildings, the boats, the machines, the granaries, the dairies, the furnaces, were doubtless contemplated by the native race with that mingled envy and contempt with which the ignorant naturally regard the triumphs of knowledge. Nor is it at all improbable that the emigrants had been guilty of those faults from which civilised men who settle among an uncivilised people are rarely free. The power derived from superior intelligence had, we may easily believe, been sometimes displayed with insolence, and sometimes exerted with injustice. Now therefore, when the news spread from altar to altar, and from cabin to cabin, that the strangers were to be driven out, and that their houses and lands were to be given as a booty to the children of the soil, a predatory war commenced. Plunderers, thirty, forty, seventy in a troop, prowled round the town, some with firearms, some with pikes. The barns were robbed. The horses were stolen. In one foray a hundred and forty cattle were swept away and driven off through the ravines of Glengariff. In one night six dwellings were broken open and pillaged. At last the colonists, driven to extremity, resolved to die like men rather than be murdered in their beds. The house built by Petty for his agent was the largest in the place. It stood on a rocky peninsula round which the waves of the bay broke. Here the whole population assembled, seventy-five fighting men, with about a hundred women and children. They had among them sixty firelocks, and as many pikes and swords. Round the agent's house they threw up with great speed a wall of turf fourteen feet in height and twelve in thickness. The space enclosed was about half an acre. Within this rampart all the arms, the ammunition and the provisions of the settlement were collected, and several huts of thin plank were built. When these preparations were completed, the men of Kenmare began to make vigorous reprisals on their Irish neighbours, seized robbers, recovered stolen property, and continued during some weeks to act in all things as an independent commonwealth. The government was carried on by elective officers, to whom every member of the society swore fidelity on the Holy Gospels.
While the people of the small town of Kenmare were thus bestirring themselves, similar preparations for defence were made by larger communities on a larger scale. Great numbers of gentlemen and yeomen quitted the open country, and repaired to those towns which had been founded and incorporated for the purpose of bridling the native population, and which, though recently placed under the government of Roman Catholic magistrates, were still inhabited chiefly by Protestants. A considerable body of armed colonists mustered at Sligo, another at Charleville, a third at Marlow, a fourth still more formidable at Bandon. But the principal strongholds of the Englishry during this evil time were Enniskillen and Londonderry.
Enniskillen, though the capital of the county of Fermanagh, was then merely a village. It was built on an island surrounded by the river which joins the two beautiful sheets of water known by the common name of Lough Erne. The stream and both the lakes were overhung on every side by natural forests. Enniskillen consisted of about eighty dwellings clustering round an ancient castle. The inhabitants were, with scarcely an exception, Protestants, and boasted that their town had been true to the Protestant cause through the terrible rebellion which broke out in 1641. Early in December they received from Dublin an intimation that two companies of Popish infantry were to be immediately quartered on them. The alarm of the little community was great, and the greater because it was known that a preaching friar had been exerting himself to inflame the Irish population of the neighbourhood against the heretics. A daring resolution was taken. Come what might, the troops should not be admitted. Yet the means of defence were slender. Not ten pounds of powder, not twenty firelocks fit for use, could be collected within the walls. Messengers were sent with pressing letters to summon the Protestant gentry of the vicinage to the rescue; and the summons was gallantly obeyed. In a few hours two hundred foot and a hundred and fifty horse had assembled. Tyrconnel's soldiers were already at hand. They brought with them a considerable supply of arms to be distributed among the peasantry. The peasantry greeted the royal standard with delight, and accompanied the march in great numbers. The townsmen and their allies, instead of waiting to be attacked, came boldly forth to encounter the intruders. The officers of James had expected no resistance. They were confounded when they saw confronting them a column of foot, flanked by a large body of mounted gentlemen and yeomen. The crowd of camp followers ran away in terror. The soldiers made a retreat so precipitate that it might be called a flight, and scarcely halted till they were thirty miles off at Cavan.
The Protestants, elated by this easy victory, proceeded to make arrangements for the government and defence of Enniskillen and of the surrounding country. Gustavus Hamilton, a gentleman who had served in the army, but who had recently been deprived of his commission by Tyrconnel, and had since been living on an estate in Fermanagh, was appointed Governor, and took up his residence in the castle. Trusty men were enlisted, and armed with great expedition. As there was a scarcity of swords and pikes, smiths were employed to make weapons by fastening scythes on poles. All the country houses round Lough Erne were turned into garrisons. No Papist was suffered to be at large in the town; and the friar who was accused of exerting his eloquence against the Englishry was thrown into prison.
The other great fastness of Protestantism was a place of more importance. Eighty years before, during the troubles caused by the last struggle of the houses of O'Neil and O'Donnel against the authority of James the First, the ancient city of Derry had been surprised by one of the native chiefs: the inhabitants had been slaughtered, and the houses reduced to ashes. The insurgents were speedily put down and punished: the government resolved to restore the ruined town: the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of London were invited to assist in the work; and King James the First made over to them in their corporate capacity the ground covered by the ruins of the old Derry, and about six thousand English acres in the neighbourhood.
This country, then uncultivated and uninhabited, is now enriched by industry, embellished by taste, and pleasing even to eyes accustomed to the well tilled fields and stately manor houses of England. A new city soon arose which, on account of its connection with the capital of the empire, was called Londonderry. The buildings covered the summit and slope of a hill which overlooked the broad stream of the Foyle, then whitened by vast flocks of wild swans. On the highest ground stood the Cathedral, a church which, though erected when the secret of Gothic architecture was lost, and though ill qualified to sustain a comparison with the awful temples of the middle ages, is not without grace and dignity. Near the Cathedral rose the palace of the Bishop, whose see was one of the most valuable in Ireland. The city was in form nearly an ellipse; and the principal streets formed a cross, the arms of which met in a square called the Diamond. The original houses have been either rebuilt or so much repaired that their ancient character can no longer be traced; but many of them were standing within living memory. They were in general two stories in height; and some of them had stone staircases on the outside. The dwellings were encompassed by a wall of which the whole circumference was little less than a mile. On the bastions were planted culverins and sakers presented by the wealthy guilds of London to the colony. On some of these ancient guns, which have done memorable service to a great cause, the devices of the Fishmongers' Company, of the Vintners' Company, and of the Merchant Tailors' Company are still discernible.
The inhabitants were Protestants of Anglosaxon blood. They were indeed not all of one country or of one church: but Englishmen and Scotchmen, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, seem to have generally lived together in friendship, a friendship which is sufficiently explained by their common antipathy to the Irish race and to the Popish religion. During the rebellion of 1641, Londonderry had resolutely held out against the native chieftains, and had been repeatedly besieged in vain. Since the Restoration the city had prospered. The Foyle, when the tide was high, brought up ships of large burden to the quay. The fisheries throve greatly. The nets, it was said, were sometimes so full that it was necessary to fling back multitudes of fish into the waves. The quantity of salmon caught annually was estimated at eleven hundred thousand pounds' weight.
The people of Londonderry shared in the alarm which, towards the close of the year 1688, was general among the Protestants settled in Ireland. It was known that the aboriginal peasantry of the neighbourhood were laying in pikes and knives. Priests had been haranguing in a style of which, it must be owned, the Puritan part of the Anglosaxon colony had little right to complain, about the slaughter of the Amalekites, and the judgments which Saul had brought on himself by sparing one of the proscribed race. Rumours from various quarters and anonymous letters in various hands agreed in naming the ninth of December as the day fixed for the extirpation of the strangers. While the minds of the citizens were agitated by these reports, news came that a regiment of twelve hundred Papists, commanded by a Papist, Alexander Macdonnell, Earl of Antrim, had received orders from the Lord Deputy to occupy Londonderry, and was already on the march from Coleraine. The consternation was extreme. Some were for closing the gates and resisting; some for submitting; some for temporising. The corporation had, like the other corporations of Ireland, been remodelled. The magistrates were men of low station and character. Among them was only one person of Anglosaxon extraction; and he had turned Papist. In such rulers the inhabitants could place no confidence. The Bishop, Ezekiel Hopkins, resolutely adhered to the doctrine of nonresistance, which he had preached during many years, and exhorted his flock to go patiently to the slaughter rather than incur the guilt of disobeying the Lord's Anointed. Antrim was meanwhile drawing nearer and nearer. At length the citizens saw from the walls his troops arrayed on the opposite shore of the Foyle. There was then no bridge: but there was a ferry which kept up a constant communication between the two banks of the river; and by this ferry a detachment from Antrim's regiment crossed. The officers presented themselves at the gate, produced a warrant directed to the Mayor and Sheriffs, and demanded admittance and quarters for his Majesty's soldiers.
Just at this moment thirteen young apprentices, most of whom appear, from their names, to have been of Scottish birth or descent, flew to the guard room, armed themselves, seized the keys of the city, rushed to the Ferry Gate, closed it in the face of the King's officers, and let down the portcullis. James Morison, a citizen more advanced in years, addressed the intruders from the top of the wall and advised them to be gone. They stood in consultation before the gate till they heard him cry, "Bring a great gun this way." They then thought it time to get beyond the range of shot. They retreated, reembarked, and rejoined their comrades on the other side of the river. The flame had already spread. The whole city was up. The other gates were secured. Sentinels paced the ramparts everywhere. The magazines were opened. Muskets and gunpowder were distributed. Messengers were sent, under cover of the following night, to the Protestant gentlemen of the neighbouring counties. The bishop expostulated in vain. It is indeed probable that the vehement and daring young Scotchmen who had taken the lead on this occasion had little respect for his office. One of them broke in on a discourse with which he interrupted the military preparations by exclaiming, "A good sermon, my lord; a very good sermon; but we have not time to hear it just now."
The Protestants of the neighbourhood promptly obeyed the summons of Londonderry. Within forty-eight hours hundreds of horse and foot came by various roads to the city. Antrim, not thinking himself strong enough to risk an attack, or not disposed to take on himself the responsibility of commencing a civil war without further orders, retired with his troops to Coleraine.
It might have been expected that the resistance of Enniskillen and Londonderry would have irritated Tyrconnel into taking some desperate step. And in truth his savage and imperious temper was at first inflamed by the news almost to madness. But, after wreaking his rage, as usual, on his wig, he became somewhat calmer. Tidings of a very sobering nature had just reached him. The Prince of Orange was marching unopposed to London. Almost every county and every great town in England had declared for him. James, deserted by his ablest captains and by his nearest relatives, had sent commissioners to treat with the invaders, and had issued writs convoking a Parliament. While the result of the negotiations which were pending in England was uncertain, the Viceroy could not venture to take a bloody revenge on the refractory Protestants of Ireland. He therefore thought it expedient to affect for a time a clemency and moderation which were by no means congenial to his disposition. The task of quieting the Englishry of Ulster was intrusted to William Stewart, Viscount Mountjoy. Mountjoy, a brave soldier, an accomplished scholar, a zealous Protestant, and yet a zealous Tory, was one of the very few members of the Established Church who still held office in Ireland. He was Master of the Ordnance in that kingdom, and was colonel of a regiment in which an uncommonly large proportion of the Englishry had been suffered to remain. At Dublin he was the centre of a small circle of learned and ingenious men who had, under his presidency, formed themselves into a Royal Society, the image, on a small scale, of the Royal Society of London. In Ulster, with which he was peculiarly connected, his name was held in high honour by the colonists. He hastened with his regiment to Londonderry, and was well received there. For it was known that, though he was firmly attached to hereditary monarchy, he was not less firmly attached to the reformed religion. The citizens readily permitted him to leave within their walls a small garrison exclusively composed of Protestants, under the command of his lieutenant colonel, Robert Lundy, who took the title of Governor.
The news of Mountjoy's visit to Ulster was highly gratifying to the defenders of Enniskillen. Some gentlemen deputed by that town waited on him to request his good offices, but were disappointed by the reception which they found. "lily advice to you is," he said, "to submit to the King's authority." "What, my Lord?" said one of the deputies; "Are we to sit still and let ourselves be butchered?" "The King," said Mountjoy, "will protect you." "If all that we hear be true," said the deputy, "his Majesty will find it hard enough to protect himself." The conference ended in this unsatisfactory manner. Enniskillen still kept its attitude of defiance; and Mountjoy returned to Dublin.
By this time it had indeed become evident that James could not protect himself. It was known in Ireland that he had fled; that he had been stopped; that he had fled again; that the Prince of Orange had arrived at Westminster in triumph, had taken on himself the administration of the realm, and had issued letters summoning a Convention.
Those lords and gentlemen at whose request the Prince had assumed the government, had earnestly intreated him to take the state of Ireland into his immediate consideration; and he had in reply assured them that he would do his best to maintain the Protestant religion and the English interest in that kingdom. His enemies afterwards accused him of utterly disregarding this promise: nay, they alleged that he purposely suffered Ireland to sink deeper and deeper in calamity. Halifax, they said, had, with cruel and perfidious ingenuity, devised this mode of placing the Convention under a species of duress; and the trick had succeeded but too well. The vote which called William to the throne would not have passed so easily but for the extreme dangers which threatened the state; and it was in consequence of his own dishonest inactivity that those dangers had become extreme. As this accusation rests on no proof, those who repeat it are at least bound to show that some course clearly better than the course which William took was open to him; and this they will find a difficult task. If indeed he could, within a few weeks after his arrival in London, have sent a great expedition to Ireland, that kingdom might perhaps, after a short struggle, or without a struggle, have submitted to his authority; and a long series of crimes and calamities might have been averted. But the factious orators and pamphleteers, who, much at their ease, reproached him for not sending such an expedition, would have been perplexed if they had been required to find the men, the ships, and the funds. The English army had lately been arrayed against him: part of it was still ill disposed towards him; and the whole was utterly disorganized. Of the army which he had brought from Holland not a regiment could be spared. He had found the treasury empty and the pay of the navy in arrear. He had no power to hypothecate any part of the public revenue. Those who lent him money lent it on no security but his bare word. It was only by the patriotic liberality of the merchants of London that he was enabled to defray the ordinary charges of government till the meeting of the Convention. It is surely unjust to blame him for not instantly fitting out, in such circumstances, an armament sufficient to conquer a kingdom.
Perceiving that, till the government of England was settled, it would not be in his power to interfere effectually by arms in the affairs of Ireland, he determined to try what effect negotiation would produce. Those who judged after the event pronounced that he had not, on this occasion, shown his usual sagacity. He ought, they said, to have known that it was absurd to expect submission from Tyrconnel. Such however was not at the time the opinion of men who had the best means of information, and whose interest was a sufficient pledge for their sincerity. A great meeting of noblemen and gentlemen who had property in Ireland was held, during the interregnum, at the house of the Duke of Ormond in Saint James's Square. They advised the Prince to try whether the Lord Deputy might not be induced to capitulate on honourable and advantageous terms. In truth there is strong reason to believe that Tyrconnel really wavered. For, fierce as were his passions, they never made him forgetful of his interest; and he might well doubt whether it were not for his interest, in declining years and health, to retire from business with full indemnity for all past offences, with high rank and with an ample fortune, rather than to stake his life and property on the event of a war against the whole power of England. It is certain that he professed himself willing to yield. He opened a communication with the Prince of Orange, and affected to take counsel with Mountjoy, and with others who, though they had not thrown off their allegiance to James, were yet firmly attached to the Established Church and to the English connection.
In one quarter, a quarter from which William was justified in expecting the most judicious counsel, there was a strong conviction that the professions of Tyrconnel were sincere. No British statesman had then so high a reputation throughout Europe as Sir William Temple. His diplomatic skill had, twenty years before, arrested the progress of the French power. He had been a steady and an useful friend to the United Provinces and to the House of Nassau. He had long been on terms of friendly confidence with the Prince of Orange, and had negotiated that marriage to which England owed her recent deliverance. With the affairs of Ireland Temple was supposed to be peculiarly well acquainted. His family had considerable property there: he had himself resided there during several years: he had represented the county of Carlow in parliament; and a large part of his income was derived from a lucrative Irish office. There was no height of power, of rank, or of opulence, to which he might not have risen, if he would have consented to quit his retreat, and to lend his assistance and the weight of his name to the new government. But power, rank, and opulence had less attraction for his Epicurean temper than ease and security. He rejected the most tempting invitations, and continued to amuse himself with his books, his tulips, and his pineapples, in rural seclusion. With some hesitation, however, he consented to let his eldest son John enter into the service of William. During the vacancy of the throne, John Temple was employed in business of high importance; and, on subjects connected with Ireland, his opinion, which might reasonably be supposed to agree with his father's, had great weight. The young politician flattered himself that he had secured the services of an agent eminently qualified to bring the negotiation with Tyrconnel to a prosperous issue.
This agent was one of a remarkable family which had sprung from a noble Scottish stock, but which had long been settled in Ireland, and which professed the Roman Catholic religion. In the gay crowd which thronged Whitehall, during those scandalous years of jubilee which immediately followed the Restoration, the Hamiltons were preeminently conspicuous. The long fair ringlets, the radiant bloom, and the languishing blue eyes of the lovely Elizabeth still charm us on the canvass of Lely. She had the glory of achieving no vulgar conquest. It was reserved for her voluptuous beauty and for her flippant wit to overcome the aversion which the coldhearted and scoffing Grammont felt for the indissoluble tie. One of her brothers, Anthony, became the chronicler of that brilliant and dissolute society of which he had been one of the most brilliant and most dissolute members. He deserves the high praise of having, though not a Frenchman, written the book which is, of all books, the most exquisitely French, both in spirit and in manner. Another brother, named Richard, had, in foreign service, gained some military experience. His wit and politeness had distinguished him even in the splendid circle of Versailles. It was whispered that he had dared to lift his eyes to an exalted lady, the natural daughter of the Great King, the wife of a legitimate prince of the House of Bourbon, and that she had not seemed to be displeased by the attentions of her presumptuous admirer. The adventurer had subsequently returned to his native country, had been appointed Brigadier General in the Irish army, and had been sworn of the Irish Privy Council. When the Dutch invasion was expected, he came across Saint George's Channel with the troops which Tyrconnel sent to reinforce the royal army. After the flight of James, those troops submitted to the Prince of Orange. Richard Hamilton not only made his own peace with what was now the ruling power, but declared himself confident that, if he were sent to Dublin, he could conduct the negotiation which had been opened there to a happy close. If he failed, he pledged his word to return to London in three weeks. His influence in Ireland was known to be great: his honour had never been questioned; and he was highly esteemed by the Temple family. John Temple declared that he would answer for Richard Hamilton as for himself. This guarantee was thought sufficient; and Hamilton set out for Ireland, assuring his English friends that he should soon bring Tyrconnel to reason. The offers which he was authorised to make to the Roman Catholics and to the Lord Deputy personally were most liberal.
It is not impossible that Hamilton may have really meant to perform his promise. But when he arrived at Dublin he found that he had undertaken a task which was beyond his power. The hesitation of Tyrconnel, whether genuine or feigned, was at an end. He had found that he had no longer a choice. He had with little difficulty stimulated the ignorant and susceptible Irish to fury. To calm them was beyond his skill. Rumours were abroad that the Viceroy was corresponding with the English; and these rumours had set the nation on fire. The cry of the common people was that, if he dared to sell them for wealth and honours, they would burn the Castle and him in it, and would put themselves under the protection of France. It was necessary for him to protest, truly or falsely, that he had never harboured any thought of submission, and that he had pretended to negotiate only for the purpose of gaining time. Yet, before he openly declared against the English settlers, and against England herself, what must be a war to the death, he wished to rid himself of Mountjoy, who had hitherto been true to the cause of James, but who, it was well known, would never consent to be a party to the spoliation and oppression of the colonists. Hypocritical professions of friendship and of pacific intentions were not spared. It was a sacred duty, Tyrconnel said, to avert the calamities which seemed to be impending. King James himself, if he understood the whole case, would not wish his Irish friends to engage at that moment in an enterprise which must be fatal to them and useless to him. He would permit them, he would command them, to submit to necessity, and to reserve themselves for better times. If any man of weight, loyal, able, and well informed, would repair to Saint Germains and explain the state of things, his Majesty would easily be convinced. Would Mountjoy undertake this most honourable and important mission? Mountjoy hesitated, and suggested that some person more likely to be acceptable to the King should be the messenger. Tyrconnel swore, ranted, declared that, unless King James were well advised, Ireland would sink to the pit of hell, and insisted that Mountjoy should go as the representative of the loyal members of the Established Church, and should be accompanied by Chief Baron Rice, a Roman Catholic high in the royal favour. Mountjoy yielded. The two ambassadors departed together, but with very different commissions. Rice was charged to tell James that Mountjoy was a traitor at heart, and had been sent to France only that the Protestants of Ireland might be deprived of a favourite leader. The King was to be assured that he was impatiently expected in Ireland, and that, if he would show himself there with a French force, he might speedily retrieve his fallen fortunes. The Chief Baron carried with him other instructions which were probably kept secret even from the Court of Saint Germains. If James should be unwilling to put himself at the head of the native population of Ireland, Rice was directed to request a private audience of Lewis, and to offer to make the island a province of France.
As soon as the two envoys had departed, Tyrconnel set himself to prepare for the conflict which had become inevitable; and he was strenuously assisted by the faithless Hamilton. The Irish nation was called to arms; and the call was obeyed with strange promptitude and enthusiasm. The flag on the Castle of Dublin was embroidered with the words, "Now or never: now and for ever:" and those words resounded through the whole island. Never in modern Europe has there been such a rising up of a whole people. The habits of the Celtic peasant were such that he made no sacrifice in quitting his potatoe ground for the camp. He loved excitement and adventure. He feared work far more than danger. His national and religious feelings had, during three years, been exasperated by the constant application of stimulants. At every fair and market he had heard that a good time was at hand, that the tyrants who spoke Saxon and lived in slated houses were about to be swept away, and that the land would again belong to its own children. By the peat fires of a hundred thousand cabins had nightly been sung rude ballads which predicted the deliverance of the oppressed race. The priests, most of whom belonged to those old families which the Act of Settlement had ruined, but which were still revered by the native population, had, from a thousand altars, charged every Catholic to show his zeal for the true Church by providing weapons against the day when it might be necessary to try the chances of battle in her cause. The army, which, under Ormond, had consisted of only eight regiments, was now increased to forty-eight: and the ranks were soon full to overflowing. It was impossible to find at short notice one tenth of the number of good officers which was required. Commissions were scattered profusely among idle cosherers who claimed to be descended from good Irish families. Yet even thus the supply of captains and lieutenants fell short of the demand; and many companies were commanded by cobblers, tailors and footmen.
The pay of the soldiers was very small. The private had only threepence a day. One half only of this pittance was ever given him in money; and that half was often in arrear. But a far more seductive bait than his miserable stipend was the prospect of boundless license. If the government allowed him less than sufficed for his wants, it was not extreme to mark the means by which he supplied the deficiency. Though four fifths of the population of Ireland were Celtic and Roman Catholic, more than four fifths of the property of Ireland belonged to the Protestant Englishry. The garners, the cellars, above all the flocks and herds of the minority, were abandoned to the majority. Whatever the regular troops spared was devoured by bands of marauders who overran almost every barony in the island. For the arming was now universal. No man dared to present himself at mass without some weapon, a pike, a long knife called a skean, or, at the very least, a strong ashen stake, pointed and hardened in the fire. The very women were exhorted by their spiritual directors to carry skeans. Every smith, every carpenter, every cutler, was at constant work on guns and blades. It was scarcely possible to get a horse shod. If any Protestant artisan refused to assist in the manufacture of implements which were to be used against his nation and his religion, he was flung into prison. It seems probable that, at the end of February, at least a hundred thousand Irishmen were in arms. Near fifty thousand of them were soldiers. The rest were banditti, whose violence and licentiousness the Government affected to disapprove, but did not really exert itself to suppress. The Protestants not only were not protected, but were not suffered to protect themselves. It was determined that they should be left unarmed in the midst of an armed and hostile population. A day was fixed on which they were to bring all their swords and firelocks to the parish churches; and it was notified that every Protestant house in which, after that day, a weapon should be found should be given up to be sacked by the soldiers. Bitter complaints were made that any knave might, by hiding a spear head or an old gun barrel in a corner of a mansion, bring utter ruin on the owner.
Chief Justice Keating, himself a Protestant, and almost the only Protestant who still held a great place in Ireland, struggled courageously in the cause of justice and order against the united strength of the government and the populace. At the Wicklow assizes of that spring, he, from the seat of judgment, set forth with great strength of language the miserable state of the country. Whole counties, he said, were devastated by a rabble resembling the vultures and ravens which follow the march of an army. Most of these wretches were not soldiers. They acted under no authority known to the law. Yet it was, he owned, but too evident that they were encouraged and screened by some who were in high command. How else could it be that a market overt for plunder should be held within a short distance of the capital? The stories which travellers told of the savage Hottentots near the Cape of Good Hope were realised in Leinster. Nothing was more common than for an honest man to lie down rich in flocks and herds acquired by the industry of a long life, and to wake a beggar. It was however to small purpose that Keating attempted, in the midst of that fearful anarchy, to uphold the supremacy of the law. Priests and military chiefs appeared on the bench for the purpose of overawing the judge and countenancing the robbers. One ruffian escaped because no prosecutor dared to appear. Another declared that he had armed himself in conformity to the orders of his spiritual guide, and to the example of many persons of higher station than himself, whom he saw at that moment in Court. Two only of the Merry Boys, as they were called, were convicted: the worst criminals escaped; and the Chief Justice indignantly told the jurymen that the guilt of the public ruin lay at their door.
When such disorder prevailed in Wicklow, it is easy to imagine what must have been the state of districts more barbarous and more remote from the seat of government. Keating appears to have been the only magistrate who strenuously exerted himself to put the law in force. Indeed Nugent, the Chief Justice of the highest criminal court of the realm, declared on the bench at Cork that, without violence and spoliation, the intentions of the Government could not be carried into effect, and that robbery must at that conjuncture be tolerated as a necessary evil.
The destruction of property which took place within a few weeks would be incredible, if it were not attested by witnesses unconnected with each other and attached to very different interests. There is a close, and sometimes almost a verbal, agreement between the description given by Protestants, who, during that reign of terror, escaped, at the hazard of their lives, to England, and the descriptions given by the envoys, commissaries, and captains of Lewis. All agreed in declaring that it would take many years to repair the waste which had been wrought in a few weeks by the armed peasantry. Some of the Saxon aristocracy had mansions richly furnished, and sideboards gorgeous with silver bowls and chargers. All this wealth disappeared. One house, in which there had been three thousand pounds' worth of plate, was left without a spoon. But the chief riches of Ireland consisted in cattle. Innumerable flocks and herds covered that vast expanse of emerald meadow, saturated with the moisture of the Atlantic. More than one gentleman possessed twenty thousand sheep and four thousand oxen. The freebooters who now overspread the country belonged to a class which was accustomed to live on potatoes and sour whey, and which had always regarded meat as a luxury reserved for the rich. These men at first revelled in beef and mutton, as the savage invaders, who of old poured down from the forests of the north on Italy, revelled in Massic and Falernian wines. The Protestants described with contemptuous disgust the strange gluttony of their newly liberated slaves. The carcasses, half raw and half burned to cinders, sometimes still bleeding, sometimes in a state of loathsome decay, were torn to pieces and swallowed without salt, bread, or herbs. Those marauders who preferred boiled meat, being often in want of kettles, contrived to boil the steer in his own skin. An absurd tragicomedy is still extant, which was acted in this and the following year at some low theatre for the amusement of the English populace. A crowd of half naked savages appeared on the stage, howling a Celtic song and dancing round an ox. They then proceeded to cut steaks out of the animal while still alive and to fling the bleeding flesh on the coals. In truth the barbarity and filthiness of the banquets of the Rapparees was such as the dramatists of Grub Street could scarcely caricature. When Lent began, the plunderers generally ceased to devour, but continued to destroy. A peasant would kill a cow merely in order to get a pair of brogues. Often a whole flock of sheep, often a herd of fifty or sixty kine, was slaughtered: the beasts were flayed; the fleeces and hides were carried away; and the bodies were left to poison the air. The French ambassador reported to his master that, in six weeks, fifty thousand horned cattle had been slain in this manner, and were rotting on the ground all over the country. The number of sheep that were butchered during the same time was popularly said to have been three or four hundred thousand.
Any estimate which can now be framed of the value of the property destroyed during this fearful conflict of races must necessarily be very inexact. We are not however absolutely without materials for such an estimate. The Quakers were neither a very numerous nor a very opulent class. We can hardly suppose that they were more than a fiftieth part of the Protestant population of Ireland, or that they possessed more than a fiftieth part of the Protestant wealth of Ireland. They were undoubtedly better treated than any other Protestant sect. James had always been partial to them: they own that Tyrconnel did his best to protect them; and they seem to have found favour even in the sight of the Rapparees. Yet the Quakers computed their pecuniary losses at a hundred thousand pounds.
In Leinster, Munster and Connaught, it was utterly impossible for the English settlers, few as they were and dispersed, to offer any effectual resistance to this terrible outbreak of the aboriginal population. Charleville, Mallow, Sligo, fell into the hands of the natives. Bandon, where the Protestants had mustered in considerable force, was reduced by Lieutenant General Macarthy, an Irish officer who was descended from one of the most illustrious Celtic houses, and who had long served, under a feigned name, in the French Army. The people of Kenmare held out in their little fastness till they were attacked by three thousand regular soldiers, and till it was known that several pieces of ordnance were coming to batter down the turf wall which surrounded the agent's house. Then at length a capitulation was concluded. The colonists were suffered to embark in a small vessel scantily supplied with food and water. They had no experienced navigator on board: but after a voyage of a fortnight, during which they were crowded together like slaves in a Guinea ship, and suffered the extremity of thirst and hunger, they reached Bristol in safety. When such was the fate of the towns, it was evident that the country seats which the Protestant landowners had recently fortified in the three southern provinces could no longer be defended. Many families submitted, delivered up their arms, and thought themselves happy in escaping with life. But many resolute and highspirited gentlemen and yeomen were determined to perish rather than yield. They packed up such valuable property as could easily be carried away, burned whatever they could not remove, and, well armed and mounted, set out for those spots in Ulster which were the strongholds of their race and of their faith. The flower of the Protestant population of Munster and Connaught found shelter at Enniskillen. Whatever was bravest and most truehearted in Leinster took the road to Londonderry.
The spirit of Enniskillen and Londonderry rose higher and higher to meet the danger. At both places the tidings of what had been done by the Convention at Westminster were received with transports of joy. William and Mary were proclaimed at Enniskillen with unanimous enthusiasm, and with such pomp as the little town could furnish. Lundy, who commanded at Londonderry, could not venture to oppose himself to the general sentiment of the citizens and of his own soldiers. He therefore gave in his adhesion to the new government, and signed a declaration by which he bound himself to stand by that government, on pain of being considered a coward and a traitor. A vessel from England soon brought a commission from William and Mary which confirmed him in his office.
To reduce the Protestants of Ulster to submission before aid could arrive from England was now the chief object of Tyrconnel. A great force was ordered to move northward, under the command of Richard Hamilton. This man had violated all the obligations which are held most sacred by gentlemen and soldiers, had broken faith with his friends the Temples, had forfeited his military parole, and was now not ashamed to take the field as a general against the government to which he was bound to render himself up as a prisoner. His march left on the face of the country traces which the most careless eye could not during many years fail to discern. His army was accompanied by a rabble, such as Keating had well compared to the unclean birds of prey which swarm wherever the scent of carrion is strong. The general professed himself anxious to save from ruin and outrage all Protestants who remained quietly at their homes; and he most readily gave them protections tinder his hand. But these protections proved of no avail; and he was forced to own that, whatever power he might be able to exercise over his soldiers, he could not keep order among the mob of campfollowers. The country behind him was a wilderness; and soon the country before him became equally desolate. For at the fame of his approach the colonists burned their furniture, pulled down their houses, and retreated northward. Some of them attempted to make a stand at Dromore, but were broken and scattered. Then the flight became wild and tumultuous. The fugitives broke down the bridges and burned the ferryboats. Whole towns, the seats of the Protestant population, were left in ruins without one inhabitant. The people of Omagh destroyed their own dwellings so utterly that no roof was left to shelter the enemy from the rain and wind. The people of Cavan migrated in one body to Enniskillen. The day was wet and stormy. The road was deep in mire. It was a piteous sight to see, mingled with the armed men, the women and children weeping, famished, and toiling through the mud up to their knees. All Lisburn fled to Antrim; and, as the foes drew nearer, all Lisburn and Antrim together came pouring into Londonderry. Thirty thousand Protestants, of both sexes and of every age, were crowded behind the bulwarks of the City of Refuge. There, at length, on the verge of the ocean, hunted to the last asylum, and baited into a mood in which men may be destroyed, but will not easily be subjugated, the imperial race turned desperately to bay.
Meanwhile Mountjoy and Rice had arrived in France. Mountjoy was instantly put under arrest and thrown into the Bastile. James determined to comply with the invitation which Rice had brought, and applied to Lewis for the help of a French army. But Lewis, though he showed, as to all things which concerned the personal dignity and comfort of his royal guests, a delicacy even romantic, and a liberality approaching to profusion, was unwilling to send a large body of troops to Ireland. He saw that France would have to maintain a long war on the Continent against a formidable coalition: her expenditure must be immense; and, great as were her resources, he felt it to be important that nothing should be wasted. He doubtless regarded with sincere commiseration and good will the unfortunate exiles to whom he had given so princely a welcome. Yet neither commiseration nor good will could prevent him from speedily discovering that his brother of England was the dullest and most perverse of human beings. The folly of James, his incapacity to read the characters of men and the signs of the times, his obstinacy, always most offensively displayed when wisdom enjoined concession, his vacillation, always exhibited most pitiably in emergencies which required firmness, had made him an outcast from England, and might, if his counsels were blindly followed, bring great calamities on France. As a legitimate sovereign expelled by rebels, as a confessor of the true faith persecuted by heretics, as a near kinsman of the House of Bourbon, who had seated himself on the hearth of that House, he was entitled to hospitality, to tenderness, to respect. It was fit that he should have a stately palace and a spacious forest, that the household troops should salute him with the highest military honours, that he should have at his command all the hounds of the Grand Huntsman and all the hawks of the Grand Falconer. But, when a prince, who, at the head of a great fleet and army, had lost an empire without striking a blow, undertook to furnish plans for naval and military expeditions; when a prince, who had been undone by his profound ignorance of the temper of his own countrymen, of his own soldiers, of his own domestics, of his own children, undertook to answer for the zeal and fidelity of the Irish people, whose language he could not speak, and on whose land he had never set his foot; it was necessary to receive his suggestions with caution. Such were the sentiments of Lewis; and in these sentiments he was confirmed by his Minister of War Louvois, who, on private as well as on public grounds, was unwilling that James should be accompanied by a large military force. Louvois hated Lauzun. Lauzun was favourite at Saint Germains. He wore the garter, a badge of honour which has very seldom been conferred on aliens who were not sovereign princes. It was believed indeed at the French Court that, in order to distinguish him from the other knights of the most illustrious of European orders, he had been decorated with that very George which Charles the First had, on the scaffold, put into the hands of Juxon. Lauzun had been encouraged to hope that, if French forces were sent to Ireland, he should command them; and this ambitious hope Louvois was bent on disappointing.
An army was therefore for the present refused; but every thing else was granted. The Brest fleet was ordered to be in readiness to sail. Arms for ten thousand men and great quantities of ammunition were put on board. About four hundred captains, lieutenants, cadets and gunners were selected for the important service of organizing and disciplining the Irish levies. The chief command was held by a veteran warrior, the Count of Rosen. Under him were Maumont, who held the rank of lieutenant general, and a brigadier named Pusignan. Five hundred thousand crowns in gold, equivalent to about a hundred and twelve thousand pounds sterling, were sent to Brest. For James's personal comforts provision was made with anxiety resembling that of a tender mother equipping her son for a first campaign. The cabin furniture, the camp furniture, the tents, the bedding, the plate, were luxurious and superb. Nothing, which could be agreeable or useful to the exile was too costly for the munificence, or too trifling for the attention, of his gracious and splendid host. On the fifteenth of February, James paid a farewell visit to Versailles. He was conducted round the buildings and plantations with every mark of respect and kindness. The fountains played in his honour. It was the season of the Carnival; and never had the vast palace and the sumptuous gardens presented a gayer aspect. In the evening the two kings, after a long and earnest conference in private, made their appearance before a splendid circle of lords and ladies. "I hope," said Lewis, in his noblest and most winning manner, "that we are about to part, never to meet again in this world. That is the best wish that I can form for you. But, if any evil chance should force you to return, be assured that you will find me to the last such as you have found me hitherto." On the seventeenth Lewis paid in return a farewell visit to Saint Germains. At the moment of the parting embrace he said, with his most amiable smile: "We have forgotten one thing, a cuirass for yourself. You shall have mine." The cuirass was brought, and suggested to the wits of the Court ingenious allusions to the Vulcanian panoply which Achilles lent to his feebler friend. James set out for Brest; and his wife, overcome with sickness and sorrow, shut herself up with her child to weep and pray.
James was accompanied or speedily followed by several of his own subjects, among whom the most distinguished were his son Berwick, Cartwright Bishop of Chester, Powis, Dover, and Melfort. Of all the retinue, none was so odious to the people of Great Britain as Melfort. He was an apostate: he was believed by many to be an insincere apostate; and the insolent, arbitrary and menacing language of his state papers disgusted even the Jacobites. He was therefore a favourite with his master: for to James unpopularity, obstinacy, and implacability were the greatest recommendations that a statesman could have.
What Frenchman should attend the King of England in the character of ambassador had been the subject of grave deliberation at Versailles. Barillon could not be passed over without a marked slight. But his selfindulgent habits, his want of energy, and, above all, the credulity with which he had listened to the professions of Sunderland, had made an unfavourable impression on the mind of Lewis. What was to be done in Ireland was not work for a trifler or a dupe. The agent of France in that kingdom must be equal to much more than the ordinary functions of an envoy. It would be his right and his duty to offer advice touching every part of the political and military administration of the country in which he would represent the most powerful and the most beneficent of allies. Barillon was therefore passed over. He affected to bear his disgrace with composure. His political career, though it had brought great calamities both on the House of Stuart and on the House of Bourbon, had been by no means unprofitable to himself. He was old, he said: he was fat: he did not envy younger men the honour of living on potatoes and whiskey among the Irish bogs; he would try to console himself with partridges, with champagne, and with the society of the wittiest men and prettiest women of Paris. It was rumoured, however that he was tortured by painful emotions which he was studious to conceal: his health and spirits failed; and he tried to find consolation in religious duties. Some people were much edified by the piety of the old voluptuary: but others attributed his death, which took place not long after his retreat from public life, to shame and vexation.
The Count of Avaux, whose sagacity had detected all the plans of William, and who had vainly recommended a policy which would probably have frustrated them, was the man on whom the choice of Lewis fell. In abilities Avaux had no superior among the numerous able diplomatists whom his country then possessed. His demeanour was singularly pleasing, his person handsome, his temper bland. His manners and conversation were those of a gentleman who had been bred in the most polite and magnificent of all Courts, who had represented that Court both in Roman Catholic and Protestant countries, and who had acquired in his wanderings the art of catching the tone of any society into which chance might throw him. He was eminently vigilant and adroit, fertile in resources, and skilful in discovering the weak parts of a character. His own character, however, was not without its weak parts. The consciousness that he was of plebeian origin was the torment of his life. He pined for nobility with a pining at once pitiable and ludicrous. Able, experienced and accomplished as he was, he sometimes, under the influence of this mental disease, descended to the level of Moliere's Jourdain, and entertained malicious observers with scenes almost as laughable as that in which the honest draper was made a Mamamouchi. It would have been well if this had been the worst. But it is not too much to say that of the difference between right and wrong Avaux had no more notion than a brute. One sentiment was to him in the place of religion and morality, a superstitious and intolerant devotion to the Crown which he served. This sentiment pervades all his despatches, and gives a colour to all his thoughts and words. Nothing that tended to promote the interest of the French monarchy seemed to him a crime. Indeed he appears to have taken it for granted that not only Frenchmen, but all human beings, owed a natural allegiance to the House of Bourbon, and that whoever hesitated to sacrifice the happiness and freedom of his own native country to the glory of that House was a traitor. While he resided at the Hague, he always designated those Dutchmen who had sold themselves to France as the well intentioned party. In the letters which he wrote from Ireland, the same feeling appears still more strongly. He would have been a more sagacious politician if he had sympathized more with those feelings of moral approbation and disapprobation which prevail among the vulgar. For his own indifference to all considerations of justice and mercy was such that, in his schemes, he made no allowance for the consciences and sensibilities of his neighbours. More than once he deliberately recommended wickedness so horrible that wicked men recoiled from it with indignation. But they could not succeed even in making their scruples intelligible to him. To every remonstrance he listened with a cynical sneer, wondering within himself whether those who lectured him were such fools as they professed to be, or were only shamming.
Such was the man whom Lewis selected to be the companion and monitor of James. Avaux was charged to open, if possible, a communication with the malecontents in the English Parliament; and he was authorised to expend, if necessary, a hundred thousand crowns among them.
James arrived at Brest on the fifth of March, embarked there on board of a man of war called the Saint Michael, and sailed within forty-eight hours. He had ample time, however, before his departure, to exhibit some of the faults by which he had lost England and Scotland, and by which he was about to lose Ireland. Avaux wrote from the harbour of Brest that it would not be easy to conduct any important business in concert with the King of England. His Majesty could not keep any secret from any body. The very foremast men of the Saint Michael had already heard him say things which ought to have been reserved for the ears of his confidential advisers.
The voyage was safely and quietly performed; and, on the afternoon of the twelfth of March, James landed in the harbour of Kinsale. By the Roman Catholic population he was received with shouts of unfeigned transport. The few Protestants who remained in that part of the country joined in greeting him, and perhaps not insincerely. For, though an enemy of their religion, he was not an enemy of their nation; and they might reasonably hope that the worst king would show somewhat more respect for law and property than had been shown by the Merry Boys and Rapparees. The Vicar of Kinsale was among those who went to pay their duty: he was presented by the Bishop of Chester, and was not ungraciously received.
James learned that his cause was prospering. In the three southern provinces of Ireland the Protestants were disarmed, and were so effectually bowed down by terror that he had nothing to apprehend from them. In the North there was some show of resistance: but Hamilton was marching against the malecontents; and there was little doubt that they would easily be crushed. A day was spent at Kinsale in putting the arms and ammunition out of reach of danger. Horses sufficient to carry a few travellers were with some difficulty procured; and, on the fourteenth of March, James proceeded to Cork.
We should greatly err if we imagined that the road by which he entered that city bore any resemblance to the stately approach which strikes the traveller of the nineteenth century with admiration. At present Cork, though deformed by many miserable relics of a former age, holds no mean place among the ports of the empire. The shipping is more than half what the shipping of London was at the time of the Revolution. The customs exceed the whole revenue which the whole kingdom of Ireland, in the most peaceful and prosperous times, yielded to the Stuarts. The town is adorned by broad and well built streets, by fair gardens, by a Corinthian portico which would do honour to Palladio, and by a Gothic college worthy to stand in the High Street of Oxford. In 1689, the city extended over about one tenth part of the space which it now covers, and was intersected by muddy streams, which have long been concealed by arches and buildings. A desolate marsh, in which the sportsman who pursued the waterfowl sank deep in water and mire at every step, covered the area now occupied by stately buildings, the palaces of great commercial societies. There was only a single street in which two wheeled carriages could pass each other. From this street diverged to right and left alleys squalid and noisome beyond the belief of those who have formed their notions of misery from the most miserable parts of Saint Giles's and Whitechapel. One of these alleys, called, and, by comparison, justly called, Broad Lane, is about ten feet wide. From such places, now seats of hunger and pestilence, abandoned to the most wretched of mankind, the citizens poured forth to welcome James. He was received with military honours by Macarthy, who held the chief command in Munster.
It was impossible for the King to proceed immediately to Dublin; for the southern counties had been so completely laid waste by the banditti whom the priests had called to arms, that the means of locomotion were not easily to be procured. Horses had become rarities: in a large district there were only two carts; and those Avaux pronounced good for nothing. Some days elapsed before the money which had been brought from France, though no very formidable mass, could be dragged over the few miles which separated Cork from Kinsale.
While the King and his Council were employed in trying to procure carriages and beasts, Tyrconnel arrived from Dublin. He held encouraging language. The opposition of Enniskillen he seems to have thought deserving of little consideration. Londonderry, he said, was the only important post held by the Protestants; and even Londonderry would not, in his judgment, hold out many days.
At length James was able to leave Cork for the capital. On the road, the shrewd and observant Avaux made many remarks. The first part of the journey was through wild highlands, where it was not strange that there should be few traces of art and industry. But, from Kilkenny to the gates of Dublin, the path of the travellers lay over gently undulating ground rich with natural verdure. That fertile district should have been covered with flocks and herds, orchards and cornfields: but it was an unfilled and unpeopled desert. Even in the towns the artisans were very few. Manufactured articles were hardly to be found, and if found could be procured only at immense prices. The truth was that most of the English inhabitants had fled, and that art, industry, and capital had fled with them.
James received on his progress numerous marks of the goodwill of the peasantry; but marks such as, to men bred in the courts of France and England, had an uncouth and ominous appearance. Though very few labourers were seen at work in the fields, the road was lined by Rapparees armed with skeans, stakes, and half pikes, who crowded to look upon the deliverer of their race. The highway along which he travelled presented the aspect of a street in which a fair is held. Pipers came forth to play before him in a style which was not exactly that of the French opera; and the villagers danced wildly to the music. Long frieze mantles, resembling those which Spenser had, a century before, described as meet beds for rebels, and apt cloaks for thieves, were spread along the path which the cavalcade was to tread; and garlands, in which cabbage stalks supplied the place of laurels, were offered to the royal hand. The women insisted on kissing his Majesty; but it should seem that they bore little resemblance to their posterity; for this compliment was so distasteful to him that he ordered his retinue to keep them at a distance.
On the twenty-fourth of March he entered Dublin. That city was then, in extent and population, the second in the British isles. It contained between six and seven thousand houses, and probably above thirty thousand inhabitants. In wealth and beauty, however, Dublin was inferior to many English towns. Of the graceful and stately public buildings which now adorn both sides of the Liffey scarcely one had been even projected. The College, a very different edifice from that which now stands on the same site, lay quite out of the city. The ground which is at present occupied by Leinster House and Charlemont House, by Sackville Street and Merrion Square, was open meadow. Most of the dwellings were built of timber, and have long given place to more substantial edifices. The Castle had in 1686 been almost uninhabitable. Clarendon had complained that he knew of no gentleman in Pall Mall who was not more conveniently and handsomely lodged than the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. No public ceremony could be performed in a becoming manner under the Viceregal roof. Nay, in spite of constant glazing and tiling, the rain perpetually drenched the apartments. Tyrconnel, since he became Lord Deputy, had erected a new building somewhat more commodious. To this building the King was conducted in state through the southern part of the city. Every exertion had been made to give an air of festivity and splendour to the district which he was to traverse. The streets, which were generally deep in mud, were strewn with gravel. Boughs and flowers were scattered over the path.
Tapestry and arras hung from the windows of those who could afford to exhibit such finery. The poor supplied the place of rich stuffs with blankets and coverlids. In one place was stationed a troop of friars with a cross; in another a company of forty girls dressed in white and carrying nosegays. Pipers and harpers played "The King shall enjoy his own again." The Lord Deputy carried the sword of state before his master. The Judges, the Heralds, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, appeared in all the pomp of office. Soldiers were drawn up on the right and left to keep the passages clear. A procession of twenty coaches belonging to public functionaries was mustered. Before the Castle gate, the King was met by the host under a canopy borne by four bishops of his church. At the sight he fell on his knees, and passed some time in devotion. He then rose and was conducted to the chapel of his palace, once--such are the vicissitudes of human things--the riding house of Henry Cromwell. A Te Deum was performed in honour of his Majesty's arrival. The next morning he held a Privy Council, discharged Chief Justice Keating from any further attendance at the board, ordered Avaux and Bishop Cartwright to be sworn in, and issued a proclamation convoking a Parliament to meet at Dublin on the seventh of May.
When the news that James had arrived in Ireland reached London, the sorrow and alarm were general, and were mingled with serious discontent. The multitude, not making sufficient allowance for the difficulties by which William was encompassed on every side, loudly blamed his neglect. To all the invectives of the ignorant and malicious he opposed, as was his wont, nothing but immutable gravity and the silence of profound disdain. But few minds had received from nature a temper so firm as his; and still fewer had undergone so long and so rigorous a discipline. The reproaches which had no power to shake his fortitude, tried from childhood upwards by both extremes of fortune, inflicted a deadly wound on a less resolute heart.
While all the coffeehouses were unanimously resolving that a fleet and army ought to have been long before sent to Dublin, and wondering how so renowned a politician as his Majesty could have been duped by Hamilton and Tyrconnel, a gentleman went down to the Temple Stairs, called a boat, and desired to be pulled to Greenwich. He took the cover of a letter from his pocket, scratched a few lines with a pencil, and laid the paper on the seat with some silver for his fare. As the boat passed under the dark central arch of London Bridge, he sprang into the water and disappeared. It was found that he had written these words: "My folly in undertaking what I could not execute hath done the King great prejudice which cannot be stopped--No easier way for me than this--May his undertakings prosper--May he have a blessing." There was no signature; but the body was soon found, and proved to be that of John Temple. He was young and highly accomplished: he was heir to an honourable name; he was united to an amiable woman: he was possessed of an ample fortune; and he had in prospect the greatest honours of the state. It does not appear that the public had been at all aware to what an extent he was answerable for the policy which had brought so much obloquy on the government. The King, stern as he was, had far too great a heart to treat an error as a crime. He had just appointed the unfortunate young man Secretary at War; and the commission was actually preparing. It is not improbable that the cold magnanimity of the master was the very thing which made the remorse of the servant insupportable.
But, great as were the vexations which William had to undergo, those by which the temper of his father-in-law was at this time tried were greater still. No court in Europe was distracted by more quarrels and intrigues than were to be found within the walls of Dublin Castle. The numerous petty cabals which sprang from the cupidity, the jealousy, and the malevolence of individuals scarcely deserve mention. But there was one cause of discord which has been too little noticed, and which is the key to much that has been thought mysterious in the history of those times.
Between English Jacobitism and Irish Jacobitism there was nothing in common. The English Jacobite was animated by a strong enthusiasm for the family of Stuart; and in his zeal for the interests of that family he too often forgot the interests of the state. Victory, peace, prosperity, seemed evils to the stanch nonjuror of our island if they tended to make usurpation popular and permanent. Defeat, bankruptcy, famine, invasion, were, in his view, public blessings, if they increased the chance of a restoration. He would rather have seen his country the last of the nations under James the Second or James the Third, than the mistress of the sea, the umpire between contending potentates, the seat of arts, the hive of industry, under a prince of the House of Nassau or of Brunswick.
The sentiments of the Irish Jacobite were very different, and, it must in candour be acknowledged, were of a nobler character. The fallen dynasty was nothing to him. He had not, like a Cheshire or Shropshire cavalier, been taught from his cradle to consider loyalty to that dynasty as the first duty of a Christian and a gentleman. All his family traditions, all the lessons taught him by his foster mother and by his priests, had been of a very different tendency. He had been brought up to regard the foreign sovereigns of his native land with the feeling with which the Jew regarded Caesar, with which the Scot regarded Edward the First, with which the Castilian regarded Joseph Buonaparte, with which the Pole regards the Autocrat of the Russias. It was the boast of the highborn Milesian that, from the twelfth century to the seventeenth, every generation of his family had been in arms against the English crown. His remote ancestors had contended with Fitzstephen and De Burgh. His greatgrandfather had cloven down the soldiers of Elizabeth in the battle of the Blackwater. His grandfather had conspired with O'Donnel against James the First. His father had fought under Sir Phelim O'Neill against Charles the First. The confiscation of the family estate had been ratified by an Act of Charles the Second. No Puritan, who had been cited before the High Commission by Laud, who had charged under Cromwell at Naseby, who had been prosecuted under the Conventicle Act, and who had been in hiding on account of the Rye House Plot, bore less affection to the House of Stuart than the O'Haras and Macmahons, on whose support the fortunes of that House now seemed to depend.
The fixed purpose of these men was to break the foreign yoke, to exterminate the Saxon colony, to sweep away the Protestant Church, and to restore the soil to its ancient proprietors. To obtain these ends they would without the smallest scruple have risen up against James; and to obtain these ends they rose up for him. The Irish Jacobites, therefore, were not at all desirous that he should again reign at Whitehall: for they could not but be aware that a Sovereign of Ireland, who was also Sovereign of England, would not, and, even if he would, could not, long administer the government of the smaller and poorer kingdom in direct opposition to the feeling of the larger and richer. Their real wish was that the Crowns might be completely separated, and that their island might, whether under James or without James they cared little, form a distinct state under the powerful protection of France.
While one party in the Council at Dublin regarded James merely as a tool to be employed for achieving the deliverance of Ireland, another party regarded Ireland merely as a tool to be employed for effecting the restoration of James. To the English and Scotch lords and gentlemen who had accompanied him from Brest, the island in which they sojourned was merely a stepping stone by which they were to reach Great Britain. They were still as much exiles as when they were at Saint Germains; and indeed they thought Saint Germains a far more pleasant place of exile than Dublin Castle. They had no sympathy with the native population of the remote and half barbarous region to which a strange chance had led them. Nay, they were bound by common extraction and by common language to that colony which it was the chief object of the native population to root out. They had indeed, like the great body of their countrymen, always regarded the aboriginal Irish with very unjust contempt, as inferior to other European nations, not only in acquired knowledge, but in natural intelligence and courage; as born Gibeonites who had been liberally treated, in being permitted to hew wood and to draw water for a wiser and mightier people. These politicians also thought,--and here they were undoubtedly in the right,--that, if their master's object was to recover the throne of England, it would be madness in him to give himself up to the guidance of the O's and the Macs who regarded England with mortal enmity. A law declaring the crown of Ireland independent, a law transferring mitres, glebes, and tithes from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic Church, a law transferring ten millions of acres from Saxons to Celts, would doubtless be loudly applauded in Clare and Tipperary. But what would be the effect of such laws at Westminster? What at Oxford? It would be poor policy to alienate such men as Clarendon and Beaufort, Ken and Sherlock, in order to obtain the applause of the Rapparees of the Bog of Allen.
Thus the English and Irish factions in the Council at Dublin were engaged in a dispute which admitted of no compromise. Avaux meanwhile looked on that dispute from a point of view entirely his own. His object was neither the emancipation of Ireland nor the restoration of James, but the greatness of the French monarchy. In what way that object might be best attained was a very complicated problem. Undoubtedly a French statesman could not but wish for a counterrevolution in England. The effect of such a counterrevolution would be that the power which was the most formidable enemy of France would become her firmest ally, that William would sink into insignificance, and that the European coalition of which he was the chief would be dissolved. But what chance was there of such a counterrevolution? The English exiles indeed, after the fashion of exiles, confidently anticipated a speedy return to their country. James himself loudly boasted that his subjects on the other side of the water, though they had been misled for a moment by the specious names of religion, liberty, and property, were warmly attached to him, and would rally round him as soon as he appeared among them. But the wary envoy tried in vain to discover any foundation for these hopes. He was certain that they were not warranted by any intelligence which had arrived from any part of Great Britain; and he considered them as the mere daydreams of a feeble mind. He thought it unlikely that the usurper, whose ability and resolution he had, during an unintermitted conflict of ten years, learned to appreciate, would easily part with the great prize which had been won by such strenuous exertions and profound combinations. It was therefore necessary to consider what arrangements would be most beneficial to France, on the supposition that it proved impossible to dislodge William from England. And it was evident that, if William could not be dislodged from England, the arrangement most beneficial to France would be that which had been contemplated eighteen months before when James had no prospect of a male heir. Ireland must be severed from the English crown, purged of the English colonists, reunited to the Church of Rome, placed under the protection of the House of Bourbon, and made, in every thing but name, a French province. In war, her resources would be absolutely at the command of her Lord Paramount. She would furnish his army with recruits. She would furnish his navy with fine harbours commanding all the great western outlets of the English trade. The strong national and religious antipathy with which her aboriginal population regarded the inhabitants of the neighbouring island would be a sufficient guarantee for their fidelity to that government which could alone protect her against the Saxon.
On the whole, therefore, it appeared to Avaux that, of the two parties into which the Council at Dublin was divided, the Irish party was that which it was for the interest of France to support. He accordingly connected himself closely with the chiefs of that party, obtained from them the fullest avowals of all that they designed, and was soon able to report to his government that neither the gentry nor the common people were at all unwilling to become French.
The views of Louvois, incomparably the greatest statesman that France had produced since Richelieu, seem to have entirely agreed with those of Avaux. The best thing, Louvois wrote, that King James could do would be to forget that he had reigned in Great Britain, and to think only of putting Ireland into a good condition, and of establishing himself firmly there. Whether this were the true interest of the House of Stuart may be doubted. But it was undoubtedly the true interest of the House of Bourbon.
About the Scotch and English exiles, and especially about Melfort, Avaux constantly expressed himself with an asperity hardly to have been expected from a man of so much sense and experience. Melfort was in a singularly unfortunate position. He was a renegade: he was a mortal enemy of the liberties of his country: he was of a bad and tyrannical nature; and yet he was, in some sense, a patriot. The consequence was that he was more universally detested than any man of his time. For, while his apostasy and his arbitrary maxims of government made him the abhorrence of England and Scotland, his anxiety for the dignity and integrity of the empire made him the abhorrence of the Irish and of the French.
The first question to be decided was whether James should remain at Dublin, or should put himself at the head of his army in Ulster. On this question the Irish and British factions joined battle. Reasons of no great weight were adduced on both sides; for neither party ventured to speak out. The point really in issue was whether the King should be in Irish or in British hands. If he remained at Dublin, it would be scarcely possible for him to withhold his assent from any bill presented to him by the Parliament which he had summoned to meet there. He would be forced to plunder, perhaps to attaint, innocent Protestant gentlemen and clergymen by hundreds; and he would thus do irreparable mischief to his cause on the other side of Saint George's Channel. If he repaired to Ulster, he would be within a few hours' sail of Great Britain. As soon as Londonderry had fallen, and it was universally supposed that the fall of Londonderry could not be long delayed, he might cross the sea with part of his forces, and land in Scotland, where his friends were supposed to be numerous. When he was once on British ground, and in the midst of British adherents, it would no longer be in the power of the Irish to extort his consent to their schemes of spoliation and revenge.
The discussions in the Council were long and warm. Tyrconnel, who had just been created a Duke, advised his master to stay in Dublin. Melfort exhorted his Majesty to set out for Ulster. Avaux exerted all his influence in support of Tyrconnel; but James, whose personal inclinations were naturally on the British side of the question, determined to follow the advice of Melfort. Avaux was deeply mortified. In his official letters he expressed with great acrimony his contempt for the King's character and understanding. On Tyrconnel, who had said that he despaired of the fortunes of James, and that the real question was between the King of France and the Prince of Orange, the ambassador pronounced what was meant to be a warm eulogy, but may perhaps be more properly called an invective. "If he were a born Frenchman he could not be more zealous for the interests of France." The conduct of Melfort, on the other hand, was the subject of an invective which much resembles eulogy: "He is neither a good Irishman nor a good Frenchman. All his affections are set on his own country."
Since the King was determined to go northward, Avaux did not choose to be left behind. The royal party set out, leaving Tyrconnel in charge at Dublin, and arrived at Charlemont on the thirteenth of April. The journey was a strange one. The country all along the road had been completely deserted by the industrious population, and laid waste by bands of robbers. "This," said one of the French officers, "is like travelling through the deserts of Arabia." Whatever effects the colonists had been able to remove were at Londonderry or Enniskillen. The rest had been stolen or destroyed. Avaux informed his court that he had not been able to get one truss of hay for his horses without sending five or six miles. No labourer dared bring any thing for sale lest some marauder should lay hands on it by the way. The ambassador was put one night into a miserable taproom full of soldiers smoking, another night into a dismantled house without windows or shutters to keep out the rain. At Charlemont a bag of oatmeal was with great difficulty, and as a matter of favour, procured for the French legation. There was no wheaten bread, except at the table of the King, who had brought a little flour from Dublin, and to whom Avaux had lent a servant who knew how to bake. Those who were honoured with an invitation to the royal table had their bread and wine measured out to them. Every body else, however high in rank, ate horsecorn, and drank water or detestable beer, made with oats instead of barley, and flavoured with some nameless herb as a substitute for hops. Yet report said that the country between Charlemont and Strabane was even more desolate than the country between Dublin and Charlemont. It was impossible to carry a large stock of provisions. The roads were so bad and the horses so weak, that the baggage waggons had all been left far behind. The chief officers of the army were consequently in want of necessaries; and the ill-humour which was the natural effect of these privations was increased by the insensibility of James, who seemed not to be aware that every body about him was not perfectly comfortable.
On the fourteenth of April the King and his train proceeded to Omagh. The rain fell: the wind blew: the horses could scarcely make their way through the mud, and in the face of the storm; and the road was frequently intersected by torrents which might almost be called rivers. The travellers had to pass several fords where the water was breast high. Some of the party fainted from fatigue and hunger. All around lay a frightful wilderness. In a journey of forty miles Avaux counted only three miserable cabins. Every thing else was rock, bog, and moor. When at length the travellers reached Omagh, they found it in ruins. The Protestants, who were the majority of the inhabitants, had abandoned it, leaving not a wisp of straw nor a cask of liquor. The windows had been broken: the chimneys had been beaten in: the very locks and bolts of the doors had been carried away.
Avaux had never ceased to press the King to return to Dublin; but these expostulations had hitherto produced no effect. The obstinacy of James, however, was an obstinacy which had nothing in common with manly resolution, and which, though proof to argument, was easily shaken by caprice. He received at Omagh, early on the sixteenth of April, letters which alarmed him. He learned that a strong body of Protestants was in arms at Strabane, and that English ships of war had been seen near the mouth of Lough Foyle. In one minute three messages were sent to summon Avaux to the ruinous chamber in which the royal bed had been prepared. There James, half dressed, and with the air of a man bewildered by some great shock, announced his resolution to hasten back instantly to Dublin. Avaux listened, wondered, and approved. Melfort seemed prostrated by despair. The travellers retraced their steps, and, late in the evening, reached Charlemont. There the King received despatches very different from those which had terrified him a few hours before. The Protestants who had assembled near Strabane had been attacked by Hamilton. Under a truehearted leader they would doubtless have stood their ground. But Lundy, who commanded them, had told them that all was lost, had ordered them to shift for themselves, and had set them the example of flight. They had accordingly retired in confusion to Londonderry. The King's correspondents pronounced it to be impossible that Londonderry should hold out. His Majesty had only to appear before the gates; and they would instantly fly open. James now changed his mind again, blamed himself for having been persuaded to turn his face southward, and, though it was late in the evening, called for his horses. The horses were in a miserable plight; but, weary and half starved as they were, they were saddled. Melfort, completely victorious, carried off his master to the camp. Avaux, after remonstrating to no purpose, declared that he was resolved to return to Dublin. It may be suspected that the extreme discomfort which he had undergone had something to do with this resolution. For complaints of that discomfort make up a large part of his letters; and, in truth, a life passed in the palaces of Italy, in the neat parlours and gardens of Holland, and in the luxurious pavilions which adorned the suburbs of Paris, was a bad preparation for the ruined hovels of Ulster. He gave, however, to his master a more weighty reason for refusing to proceed northward. The journey of James had been undertaken in opposition to the unanimous sense of the Irish, and had excited great alarm among them. They apprehended that he meant to quit them, and to make a descent on Scotland. They knew that, once landed in Great Britain, he would have neither the will nor the power to do those things which they most desired. Avaux, by refusing to proceed further, gave them an assurance that, whoever might betray them, France would be their constant friend.
While Avaux was on his way to Dublin, James hastened towards Londonderry. He found his army concentrated a few miles south of the city. The French generals who had sailed with him from Brest were in his train; and two of them, Rosen and Maumont, were placed over the head of Richard Hamilton. Rosen was a native of Livonia, who had in early youth become a soldier of fortune, who had fought his way to distinction, and who, though utterly destitute of the graces and accomplishments characteristic of the Court of Versailles, was nevertheless high in favour there. His temper was savage: his manners were coarse: his language was a strange jargon compounded of various dialects of French and German. Even those who thought best of him, and who maintained that his rough exterior covered some good qualities, owned that his looks were against him, and that it would be unpleasant to meet such a figure in the dusk at the corner of a wood. The little that is known of Maumont is to his honour.
In the camp it was generally expected that Londonderry would fall without a blow. Rosen confidently predicted that the mere sight of the Irish army would terrify the garrison into submission. But Richard Hamilton, who knew the temper of the colonists better, had misgivings. The assailants were sure of one important ally within the walls. Lundy, the Governor, professed the Protestant religion, and had joined in proclaiming William and Mary; but he was in secret communication with the enemies of his Church and of the Sovereigns to whom he had sworn lealty. Some have suspected that he was a concealed Jacobite, and that he had affected to acquiesce in the Revolution only in order that he might be better able to assist in bringing about a Restoration: but it is probable that his conduct is rather to be attributed to faintheartedness and poverty of spirit than to zeal for any public cause. He seems to have thought resistance hopeless; and in truth, to a military eye, the defences of Londonderry appeared contemptible. The fortifications consisted of a simple wall overgrown with grass and weeds: there was no ditch even before the gates: the drawbridges had long been neglected: the chains were rusty and could scarcely be used: the parapets and towers were built after a fashion which might well move disciples of Vauban to laughter; and these feeble defences were on almost every side commanded by heights. Indeed those who laid out the city had never meant that it should be able to stand a regular siege, and had contented themselves with throwing up works sufficient to protect the inhabitants against a tumultuary attack of the Celtic peasantry. Avaux assured Louvois that a single French battalion would easily storm such defences. Even if the place should, notwithstanding all disadvantages, be able to repel a large army directed by the science and experience of generals who had served under Conde and Turenne, hunger must soon bring the contest to an end. The stock of provisions was small; and the population had been swollen to seven or eight times the ordinary number by a multitude of colonists flying from the rage of the natives.
Lundy, therefore, from the time when the Irish army entered Ulster, seems to have given up all thought of serious resistance, He talked so despondingly that the citizens and his own soldiers murmured against him. He seemed, they said, to be bent on discouraging them. Meanwhile the enemy drew daily nearer and nearer; and it was known that James himself was coming to take the command of his forces.
Just at this moment a glimpse of hope appeared. On the fourteenth of April ships from England anchored in the bay. They had on board two regiments which had been sent, under the command of a Colonel named Cunningham, to reinforce the garrison. Cunningham and several of his officers went on shore and conferred with Lundy. Lundy dissuaded them from landing their men. The place, he said, could not hold out. To throw more troops into it would therefore be worse than useless: for the more numerous the garrison, the more prisoners would fall into the hands of the enemy. The best thing that the two regiments could do would be to sail back to England. He meant, he said, to withdraw himself privately: and the inhabitants must then try to make good terms for themselves.
He went through the form of holding a council of war; but from this council he excluded all those officers of the garrison whose sentiments he knew to be different from his own. Some, who had ordinarily been summoned on such occasions, and who now came uninvited, were thrust out of the room. Whatever the Governor said was echoed by his creatures. Cunningham and Cunningham's companions could scarcely venture to oppose their opinion to that of a person whose local knowledge was necessarily far superior to theirs, and whom they were by their instructions directed to obey. One brave soldier murmured. "Understand this," he said, "to give up Londonderry is to give up Ireland." But his objections were contemptuously overruled. The meeting broke up. Cunningham and his officers returned to the ships, and made preparations for departing. Meanwhile Lundy privately sent a messenger to the head quarters of the enemy, with assurances that the city should be peaceably surrendered on the first summons.
But as soon as what had passed in the council of war was whispered about the streets, the spirit of the soldiers and citizens swelled up high and fierce against the dastardly and perfidious chief who had betrayed them. Many of his own officers declared that they no longer thought themselves bound to obey him. Voices were heard threatening, some that his brains should be blown out, some that he should be hanged on the walls. A deputation was sent to Cunningham imploring him to assume the command. He excused himself on the plausible ground that his orders were to take directions in all things from the Governor. Meanwhile it was rumoured that the persons most in Lundy's confidence were stealing out of the town one by one. Long after dusk on the evening of the seventeenth it was found that the gates were open and that the keys had disappeared. The officers who made the discovery took on themselves to change the passwords and to double the guards. The night, however, passed over without any assault.
After some anxious hours the day broke. The Irish, with James at their head, were now within four miles of the city. A tumultuous council of the chief inhabitants was called. Some of them vehemently reproached the Governor to his face with his treachery. He had sold them, they cried, to their deadliest enemy: he had refused admission to the force which good King William had sent to defend them. While the altercation was at the height, the sentinels who paced the ramparts announced that the vanguard of the hostile army was in sight. Lundy had given orders that there should be no firing; but his authority was at an end. Two gallant soldiers, Major Henry Baker and Captain Adam Murray, called the people to arms. They were assisted by the eloquence of an aged clergyman, George Walker, rector of the parish of Donaghmore, who had, with many of his neighbours, taken refuge in Londonderry. The whole of the crowded city was moved by one impulse. Soldiers, gentlemen, yeomen, artisans, rushed to the walls and manned the guns. James, who, confident of success, had approached within a hundred yards of the southern gate, was received with a shout of "No surrender," and with a fire from the nearest bastion. An officer of his staff fell dead by his side. The King and his attendants made all haste to get out of reach of the cannon balls. Lundy, who was now in imminent danger of being torn limb from limb by those whom he had betrayed, hid himself in an inner chamber. There he lay during the day, and at night, with the generous and politic connivance of Murray and Walker, made his escape in the disguise of a porter. The part of the wall from which he let himself down is still pointed out; and people still living talk of having tasted the fruit of a pear tree which assisted him in his descent. His name is, to this day, held in execration by the Protestants of the North of Ireland; and his effigy was long, and perhaps still is, annually hung and burned by them with marks of abhorrence similar to those which in England are appropriated to Guy Faux.
And now Londonderry was left destitute of all military and of all civil government. No man in the town had a right to command any other: the defences were weak: the provisions were scanty: an incensed tyrant and a great army were at the gates. But within was that which has often, in desperate extremities, retrieved the fallen fortunes of nations. Betrayed, deserted, disorganized, unprovided with resources, begirt with enemies, the noble city was still no easy conquest. Whatever an engineer might think of the strength of the ramparts, all that was most intelligent, most courageous, most highspirited among the Englishry of Leinster and of Northern Ulster was crowded behind them. The number of men capable of bearing arms within the walls was seven thousand; and the whole world could not have furnished seven thousand men better qualified to meet a terrible emergency with clear judgment, dauntless valour, and stubborn patience. They were all zealous Protestants; and the Protestantism of the majority was tinged with Puritanism. They had much in common with that sober, resolute, and Godfearing class out of which Cromwell had formed his unconquerable army. But the peculiar situation in which they had been placed had developed in them some qualities which, in the mother country, might possibly have remained latent. The English inhabitants of Ireland were an aristocratic caste, which had been enabled, by superior civilisation, by close union, by sleepless vigilance, by cool intrepidity, to keep in subjection a numerous and hostile population. Almost every one of them had been in some measure trained both to military and to political functions. Almost every one was familiar with the use of arms, and was accustomed to bear a part in the administration of justice. It was remarked by contemporary writers that the colonists had something of the Castilian haughtiness of manner, though none of the Castilian indolence, that they spoke English with remarkable purity and correctness, and that they were, both as militiamen and as jurymen, superior to their kindred in the mother country. In all ages, men situated as the Anglosaxons in Ireland were situated have had peculiar vices and peculiar virtues, the vices and virtues of masters, as opposed to the vices and virtues of slaves. The member of a dominant race is, in his dealings with the subject race, seldom indeed fraudulent,-- for fraud is the resource of the weak,--but imperious, insolent, and cruel. Towards his brethren, on the other hand, his conduct is generally just, kind, and even noble. His selfrespect leads him to respect all who belong to his own order. His interest impels him to cultivate a good understanding with those whose prompt, strenuous, and courageous assistance may at any moment be necessary to preserve his property and life. It is a truth ever present to his mind that his own wellbeing depends on the ascendency of the class to which he belongs. His very selfishness therefore is sublimed into public spirit: and this public spirit is stimulated to fierce enthusiasm by sympathy, by the desire of applause, and by the dread of infamy. For the only opinion which he values is the opinion of his fellows; and in their opinion devotion to the common cause is the most sacred of duties. The character, thus formed, has two aspects. Seen on one side, it must be regarded by every well constituted mind with disapprobation. Seen on the other, it irresistibly extorts applause. The Spartan, smiting and spurning the wretched Helot, moves our disgust. But the same Spartan, calmly dressing his hair, and uttering his concise jests, on what he well knows to be his last day, in the pass of Thermopylae, is not to be contemplated without admiration. To a superficial observer it may seem strange that so much evil and so much good should be found together. But in truth the good and the evil, which at first sight appear almost incompatible, are closely connected, and have a common origin. It was because the Spartan had been taught to revere himself as one of a race of sovereigns, and to look down on all that was not Spartan as of an inferior species, that he had no fellow feeling for the miserable serfs who crouched before him, and that the thought of submitting to a foreign master, or of turning his back before an enemy, never, even in the last extremity, crossed his mind. Something of the same character, compounded of tyrant and hero, has been found in all nations which have domineered over more numerous nations. But it has nowhere in modern Europe shown itself so conspicuously as in Ireland. With what contempt, with what antipathy, the ruling minority in that country long regarded the subject majority may be best learned from the hateful laws which, within the memory of men still living, disgraced the Irish statute book. Those laws were at length annulled: but the spirit which had dictated them survived them, and even at this day sometimes breaks out in excesses pernicious to the commonwealth and dishonourable to the Protestant religion. Nevertheless it is impossible to deny that the English colonists have had, with too many of the faults, all the noblest virtues of a sovereign caste. The faults have, as was natural, been most offensively exhibited in times of prosperity and security: the virtues have been most resplendent in times of distress and peril; and never were those virtues more signally displayed than by the defenders of Londonderry, when their Governor had abandoned them, and when the camp of their mortal enemy was pitched before their walls.
No sooner had the first burst of the rage excited by the perfidy of Lundy spent itself than those whom he had betrayed proceeded, with a gravity and prudence worthy of the most renowned senates, to provide for the order and defence of the city. Two governors were elected, Baker and Walker. Baker took the chief military command. Walker's especial business was to preserve internal tranquillity, and to dole out supplies from the magazines. The inhabitants capable of bearing arms were distributed into eight regiments. Colonels, captains, and subordinate officers were appointed. In a few hours every man knew his post, and was ready to repair to it as soon as the beat of the drum was heard. That machinery, by which Oliver had, in the preceding generation, kept up among his soldiers so stern and so pertinacious an enthusiasm, was again employed with not less complete success. Preaching and praying occupied a large part of every day. Eighteen clergymen of the Established Church and seven or eight nonconformist ministers were within the walls. They all exerted themselves indefatigably to rouse and sustain the spirit of the people. Among themselves there was for the time entire harmony. All disputes about church government, postures, ceremonies, were forgotten. The Bishop, having found that his lectures on passive obedience were derided even by the Episcopalians, had withdrawn himself, first to Raphoe, and then to England, and was preaching in a chapel in London. On the other hand, a Scotch fanatic named Hewson, who had exhorted the Presbyterians not to ally themselves with such as refused to subscribe the Covenant, had sunk under the well merited disgust and scorn of the whole Protestant community. The aspect of the Cathedral was remarkable. Cannon were planted on the summit of the broad tower which has since given place to a tower of different proportions. Ammunition was stored in the vaults. In the choir the liturgy of the Anglican Church was read every morning. Every afternoon the Dissenters crowded to a simpler worship.
James had waited twenty-four hours, expecting, as it should seem, the performance of Lundy's promises; and in twenty-four hours the arrangements for the defence of Londonderry were complete. On the evening of the nineteenth of April, a trumpeter came to the southern gate, and asked whether the engagements into which the Governor had entered would be fulfilled. The answer was that the men who guarded these walls had nothing to do with the Governor's engagements, and were determined to resist to the last.
On the following day a messenger of higher rank was sent, Claude Hamilton, Lord Strabane, one of the few Roman Catholic peers of Ireland. Murray, who had been appointed to the command of one of the eight regiments into which the garrison was distributed, advanced from the gate to meet the flag of truce; and a short conference was held. Strabane had been authorised to make large promises. The citizens should have a free pardon for all that was past if they would submit to their lawful Sovereign. Murray himself should have a colonel's commission, and a thousand pounds in money. "The men of Londonderry," answered Murray, "have done nothing that requires a pardon, and own no Sovereign but King William and Queen Mary. It will not be safe for your Lordship to stay longer, or to return on the same errand. Let me have the honour of seeing you through the lines."
James had been assured, and had fully expected, that the city would yield as soon as it was known that he was before the walls. Finding himself mistaken, he broke loose from the control of Melfort, and determined to return instantly to Dublin. Rosen accompanied the King. The direction of the siege was intrusted to Maumont. Richard Hamilton was second, and Pusignan third, in command.
The operations now commenced in earnest. The besiegers began by battering the town. It was soon on fire in several places. Roofs and upper stories of houses fell in, and crushed the inmates. During a short time the garrison, many of whom had never before seen the effect of a cannonade, seemed to be discomposed by the crash of chimneys, and by the heaps of ruin mingled with disfigured corpses. But familiarity with danger and horror produced in a few hours the natural effect. The spirit of the people rose so high that their chiefs thought it safe to act on the offensive. On the twenty-first of April a sally was made under the command of Murray. The Irish stood their ground resolutely; and a furious and bloody contest took place. Maumont, at the head of a body of cavalry, flew to the place where the fight was raging. He was struck in the head by a musket ball, and fell a corpse. The besiegers lost several other officers, and about two hundred men, before the colonists could be driven in. Murray escaped with difficulty. His horse was killed under him; and he was beset by enemies: but he was able to defend himself till some of his friends made a rush from the gate to his rescue, with old Walker at their head.
In consequence of the death of Maumont, Hamilton was once more commander of the Irish army. His exploits in that post did not raise his reputation. He was a fine gentleman and a brave soldier; but he had no pretensions to the character of a great general, and had never, in his life, seen a siege. Pusignan had more science and energy. But Pusignan survived Maumont little more than a fortnight. At four in the morning of the sixth of May, the garrison made another sally, took several flags, and killed many of the besiegers. Pusignan, fighting gallantly, was shot through the body. The wound was one which a skilful surgeon might have cured: but there was no such surgeon in the Irish camp; and the communication with Dublin was slow and irregular. The poor Frenchman died, complaining bitterly of the barbarous ignorance and negligence which had shortened his days. A medical man, who had been sent down express from the capital, arrived after the funeral. James, in consequence, as it should seem, of this disaster, established a daily post between Dublin Castle and Hamilton's head quarters. Even by this conveyance letters did not travel very expeditiously: for the couriers went on foot; and, from fear probably of the Enniskilleners, took a circuitous route from military post to military post.
May passed away: June arrived; and still Londonderry held out. There had been many sallies and skirmishes with various success: but, on the whole, the advantage had been with the garrison. Several officers of note had been carried prisoners into the city; and two French banners, torn after hard fighting from the besiegers, had been hung as trophies in the chancel of the Cathedral. It seemed that the siege must be turned into a blockade. But before the hope of reducing the town by main force was relinquished, it was determined to make a great effort. The point selected for assault was an outwork called Windmill Hill, which was not far from the southern gate. Religious stimulants were employed to animate the courage of the forlorn hope. Many volunteers bound themselves by oath to make their way into the works or to perish in the attempt. Captain Butler, son of the Lord Mountgarret, undertook to lead the sworn men to the attack. On the walls the colonists were drawn up in three ranks. The office of those who were behind was to load the muskets of those who were in front. The Irish came on boldly and with a fearful uproar, but after long and hard fighting were driven back. The women of Londonderry were seen amidst the thickest fire serving out water and ammunition to their husbands and brothers. In one place, where the wall was only seven feet high, Butler and some of his sworn men succeeded in reaching the top; but they were all killed or made prisoners. At length, after four hundred of the Irish had fallen, their chiefs ordered a retreat to be sounded.
Nothing was left but to try the effect of hunger. It was known that the stock of food in the city was but slender. Indeed it was thought strange that the supplies should have held out so long. Every precaution was now taken against the introduction of provisions. All the avenues leading to the city by land were closely guarded. On the south were encamped, along the left bank of the Foyle, the horsemen who had followed Lord Galmoy from the valley of the Barrow. Their chief was of all the Irish captains the most dreaded and the most abhorred by the Protestants. For he had disciplined his men with rare skill and care; and many frightful stories were told of his barbarity and perfidy. Long lines of tents, occupied by the infantry of Butler and O'Neil, of Lord Slane and Lord Gormanstown, by Nugent's Westmeath men, by Eustace's Kildare men, and by Cavanagh's Kerry men, extended northward till they again approached the water side. The river was fringed with forts and batteries which no vessel could pass without great peril. After some time it was determined to make the security still more complete by throwing a barricade across the stream, about a mile and a half below the city. Several boats full of stones were sunk. A row of stakes was driven into the bottom of the river. Large pieces of fir wood, strongly bound together, formed a boom which was more than a quarter of a mile in length, and which was firmly fastened to both shores, by cables a foot thick. A huge stone, to which the cable on the left bank was attached, was removed many years later, for the purpose of being polished and shaped into a column. But the intention was abandoned, and the rugged mass still lies, not many yards from its original site, amidst the shades which surround a pleasant country house named Boom Hall. Hard by is the well from which the besiegers drank. A little further off is the burial ground where they laid their slain, and where even in our own time the spade of the gardener has struck upon many skulls and thighbones at a short distance beneath the turf and flowers.
While these things were passing in the North, James was holding his court at Dublin. On his return thither from Londonderry he received intelligence that the French fleet, commanded by the Count of Chateau Renaud, had anchored in Bantry Bay, and had put on shore a large quantity of military stores and a supply of money. Herbert, who had just been sent to those seas with an English squadron for the purpose of intercepting the communications between Britanny and Ireland, learned where the enemy lay, and sailed into the bay with the intention of giving battle. But the wind was unfavourable to him: his force was greatly inferior to that which was opposed to him; and after some firing, which caused no serious loss to either side, he thought it prudent to stand out to sea, while the French retired into the recesses of the harbour. He steered for Scilly, where he expected to find reinforcements; and Chateau Renaud, content with the credit which he had acquired, and afraid of losing it if he staid, hastened back to Brest, though earnestly intreated by James to come round to Dublin.
Both sides claimed the victory. The Commons at Westminster absurdly passed a vote of thanks to Herbert. James, not less absurdly, ordered bonfires to be lighted, and a Te Deum to be sung. But these marks of joy by no means satisfied Avaux, whose national vanity was too strong even for his characteristic prudence and politeness. He complained that James was so unjust and ungrateful as to attribute the result of the late action to the reluctance with which the English seamen fought against their rightful King and their old commander, and that his Majesty did not seem to be well pleased by being told that they were flying over the ocean pursued by the triumphant French. Dover, too, was a bad Frenchman. He seemed to take no pleasure in the defeat of his countrymen, and had been heard to say that the affair in Bantry Bay did not deserve to be called a battle.
On the day after the Te Deum had been sung at Dublin for this indecisive skirmish, the Parliament convoked by James assembled. The number of temporal peers of Ireland, when he arrived in that kingdom, was about a hundred. Of these only fourteen obeyed his summons. Of the fourteen, ten were Roman Catholics. By the reversing of old attainders, and by new creations, seventeen more Lords, all Roman Catholics, were introduced into the Upper House. The Protestant Bishops of Meath, Ossory, Cork, and Limerick, whether from a sincere conviction that they could not lawfully withhold their obedience even from a tyrant, or from a vain hope that the heart even of a tyrant might be softened by their patience, made their appearance in the midst of their mortal enemies.
The House of Commons consisted almost exclusively of Irishmen and Papists. With the writs the returning officers had received from Tyrconnel letters naming the persons whom he wished to see elected. The largest constituent bodies in the kingdom were at this time very small. For scarcely any but Roman Catholics dared to show their faces; and the Roman Catholic freeholders were then very few, not more, it is said, in some counties, than ten or twelve. Even in cities so considerable as Cork, Limerick, and Galway, the number of persons who, under the new Charters, were entitled to vote did not exceed twenty-four. About two hundred and fifty members took their seats. Of these only six were Protestants. The list of the names sufficiently indicates the religious and political temper of the assembly. Alone among the Irish parliaments of that age, this parliament was filled with Dermots and Geohagans, O'Neils and O'Donovans, Macmahons, Macnamaras, and Macgillicuddies. The lead was taken by a few men whose abilities had been improved by the study of the law, or by experience acquired in foreign countries. The Attorney General, Sir Richard Nagle, who represented the county of Cork, was allowed, even by Protestants, to be an acute and learned jurist. Francis Plowden, the Commissioner of Revenue, who sate for Bannow, and acted as chief minister of finance, was an Englishman, and, as he had been a principal agent of the Order of Jesuits in money matters, must be supposed to have been an excellent man of business. Colonel Henry Luttrell, member for the county of Carlow, had served long in France, and had brought back to his native Ireland a sharpened intellect and polished manners, a flattering tongue, some skill in war, and much more skill in intrigue. His elder brother, Colonel Simon Luttrell, who was member for the county of Dublin, and military governor of the capital, had also resided in France, and, though inferior to Henry in parts and activity, made a highly distinguished figure among the adherents of James. The other member for the county of Dublin was Colonel Patrick Sarsfield. This gallant officer was regarded by the natives as one of themselves: for his ancestors on the paternal side, though originally English, were among those early colonists who were proverbially said to have become more Irish than Irishmen. His mother was of noble Celtic blood; and he was firmly attached to the old religion. He had inherited an estate of about two thousand a year, and was therefore one of the wealthiest Roman Catholics in the kingdom. His knowledge of courts and camps was such as few of his countrymen possessed. He had long borne a commission in the English Life Guards, had lived much about Whitehall, and had fought bravely under Monmouth on the Continent, and against Monmouth at Sedgemoor. He had, Avaux wrote, more personal influence than any man in Ireland, and was indeed a gentleman of eminent merit, brave, upright, honourable, careful of his men in quarters, and certain to be always found at their head in the day of battle. His intrepidity, his frankness, his boundless good nature, his stature, which far exceeded that of ordinary men, and the strength which he exerted in personal conflict, gained for him the affectionate admiration of the populace. It is remarkable that the Englishry generally respected him as a valiant, skilful, and generous enemy, and that, even in the most ribald farces which were performed by mountebanks in Smithfield, he was always excepted from the disgraceful imputations which it was then the fashion to throw on the Irish nation.
But men like these were rare in the House of Commons which had met at Dublin. It is no reproach to the Irish nation, a nation which has since furnished its full proportion of eloquent and accomplished senators, to say that, of all the parliaments which have met in the British islands, Barebone's parliament not excepted, the assembly convoked by James was the most deficient in all the qualities which a legislature should possess. The stern domination of a hostile caste had blighted the faculties of the Irish gentleman. If he was so fortunate as to have lands, he had generally passed his life on them, shooting, fishing, carousing, and making love among his vassals. If his estate had been confiscated, he had wandered about from bawn to bawn and from cabin to cabin, levying small contributions, and living at the expense of other men. He had never sate in the House of Commons: he had never even taken an active part at an election: he had never been a magistrate: scarcely ever had he been on a grand jury. He had therefore absolutely no experience of public affairs. The English squire of that age, though assuredly not a very profound or enlightened politician, was a statesman and a philosopher when compared with the Roman Catholic squire of Munster or Connaught.
The Parliaments of Ireland had then no fixed place of assembling. Indeed they met so seldom and broke up so speedily that it would hardly have been worth while to build and furnish a palace for their special use. It was not till the Hanoverian dynasty had been long on the throne, that a senate house which sustains a comparison with the finest compositions of Inigo Jones arose in College Green. On the spot where the portico and dome of the Four Courts now overlook the Liffey, stood, in the seventeenth century, an ancient building which had once been a convent of Dominican friars, but had since the Reformation been appropriated to the use of the legal profession, and bore the name of the King's Inns. There accommodation had been provided for the parliament. On the seventh of May, James, dressed in royal robes and wearing a crown, took his seat on the throne in the House of Lords, and ordered the Commons to be summoned to the bar.
He then expressed his gratitude to the natives of Ireland for having adhered to his cause when the people of his other kingdoms had deserted him. His resolution to abolish all religious disabilities in all his dominions he declared to be unalterable. He invited the houses to take the Act of Settlement into consideration, and to redress the injuries of which the old proprietors of the soil had reason to complain. He concluded by acknowledging in warm terms his obligations to the King of France.
When the royal speech had been pronounced, the Chancellor directed the Commons to repair to their chamber and to elect a Speaker. They chose the Attorney General Nagle; and the choice was approved by the King.
The Commons next passed resolutions expressing warm gratitude both to James and to Lewis. Indeed it was proposed to send a deputation with an address to Avaux; but the Speaker pointed out the gross impropriety of such a step; and, on this occasion, his interference was successful. It was seldom however that the House was disposed to listen to reason. The debates were all rant and tumult. Judge Daly, a Roman Catholic, but an honest and able man, could not refrain from lamenting the indecency and folly with which the members of his Church carried on the work of legislation. Those gentlemen, he said, were not a Parliament: they were a mere rabble: they resembled nothing so much as the mob of fishermen and market gardeners, who, at Naples, yelled and threw up their caps in honour of Massaniello. It was painful to hear member after member talking wild nonsense about his own losses, and clamouring for an estate, when the lives of all and the independence of their common country were in peril. These words were spoken in private; but some talebearer repeated them to the Commons. A violent storm broke forth. Daly was ordered to attend at the bar; and there was little doubt that he would be severely dealt with. But, just when he was at the door, one of the members rushed in, shouting, "Good news: Londonderry is taken." The whole House rose. All the hats were flung into the air. Three loud huzzas were raised. Every heart was softened by the happy tidings. Nobody would hear of punishment at such a moment. The order for Daly's attendance was discharged amidst cries of "No submission; no submission; we pardon him." In a few hours it was known that Londonderry held out as obstinately as ever. This transaction, in itself unimportant, deserves to be recorded, as showing how destitute that House of Commons was of the qualities which ought to be found in the great council of a kingdom. And this assembly, without experience, without gravity, and without temper, was now to legislate on questions which would have tasked to the utmost the capacity of the greatest statesmen.
One Act James induced them to pass which would have been most honourable to him and to them, if there were not abundant proofs that it was meant to be a dead letter. It was an Act purporting to grant entire liberty of conscience to all Christian sects. On this occasion a proclamation was put forth announcing in boastful language to the English people that their rightful King had now signally refuted those slanderers who had accused him of affecting zeal for religious liberty merely in order to serve a turn. If he were at heart inclined to persecution, would he not have persecuted the Irish Protestants? He did not want power. He did not want provocation. Yet at Dublin, where the members of his Church were the majority, as at Westminister, where they were a minority, he had firmly adhered to the principles laid down in his much maligned Declaration of Indulgence. Unfortunately for him, the same wind which carried his fair professions to England carried thither also evidence that his professions were insincere. A single law, worthy of Turgot or of Franklin, seemed ludicrously out of place in the midst of a crowd of laws which would have disgraced Gardiner or Alva.
A necessary preliminary to the vast work of spoliation and slaughter on which the legislators of Dublin were bent, was an Act annulling the authority which the English Parliament, both as the supreme legislature and as the supreme Court of Appeal, had hitherto exercised over Ireland. This Act was rapidly passed; and then followed, in quick succession, confiscations and proscriptions on a gigantic scale. The personal estates of absentees above the age of seventeen years were transferred to the King. When lay property was thus invaded, it was not likely that the endowments which had been, in contravention of every sound principle, lavished on the Church of the minority would be spared. To reduce those endowments, without prejudice to existing interests, would have been a reform worthy of a good prince and of a good parliament. But no such reform would satisfy the vindictive bigots who sate at the King's Inns. By one sweeping Act, the greater part of the tithe was transferred from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic clergy; and the existing incumbents were left, without one farthing of compensation, to die of hunger. A Bill repealing the Act of Settlement and transferring many thousands of square miles from Saxon to Celtic landlords was brought in and carried by acclamation.
Of legislation such as this it is impossible to speak too severely: but for the legislators there are excuses which it is the duty of the historian to notice. They acted unmercifully, unjustly, unwisely. But it would be absurd to expect mercy, justice, or wisdom from a class of men first abased by many years of oppression, and then maddened by the joy of a sudden deliverance, and armed with irresistible power. The representatives of the Irish nation were, with few exceptions, rude and ignorant. They had lived in a state of constant irritation. With aristocratical sentiments they had been in a servile position. With the highest pride of blood, they had been exposed to daily affronts, such as might well have roused the choler of the humblest plebeian. In sight of the fields and castles which they regarded as their own, they had been glad to be invited by a peasant to partake of his whey and his potatoes. Those violent emotions of hatred and cupidity which the situation of the native gentleman could scarcely fail to call forth appeared to him under the specious guise of patriotism and piety. For his enemies were the enemies of his nation; and the same tyranny which had robbed him of his patrimony had robbed his Church of vast wealth bestowed on her by the devotion of an earlier age. How was power likely to be used by an uneducated and inexperienced man, agitated by strong desires and resentments which he mistook for sacred duties? And, when two or three hundred such men were brought together in one assembly, what was to be expected but that the passions which each had long nursed in silence would be at once matured into fearful vigour by the influence of sympathy?
Between James and his parliament there was little in common, except hatred of the Protestant religion. He was an Englishman. Superstition had not utterly extinguished all national feeling in his mind; and he could not but be displeased by the malevolence with which his Celtic supporters regarded the race from which he sprang. The range of his intellectual vision was small. Yet it was impossible that, having reigned in England, and looking constantly forward to the day when he should reign in England once more, he should not take a wider view of politics than was taken by men who had no objects out of Ireland. The few Irish Protestants who still adhered to him, and the British nobles, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, who had followed him into exile, implored him to restrain the violence of the rapacious and vindictive senate which he had convoked. They with peculiar earnestness implored him not to consent to the repeal of the Act of Settlement. On what security, they asked, could any man invest his money or give a portion to his children, if he could not rely on positive laws and on the uninterrupted possession of many years? The military adventurers among whom Cromwell portioned out the soil might perhaps be regarded as wrongdoers. But how large a part of their estates had passed, by fair purchase, into other hands! How much money had proprietors borrowed on mortgage, on statute merchant, on statute staple! How many capitalists had, trusting to legislative acts and to royal promises, come over from England, and bought land in Ulster and Leinster, without the least misgiving as to the title! What a sum had those capitalists expended, during a quarter of a century, in building; draining, inclosing, planting! The terms of the compromise which Charles the Second had sanctioned might not be in all respects just. But was one injustice to be redressed by committing another injustice more monstrous still? And what effect was likely to be produced in England by the cry of thousands of innocent English families whom an English king had doomed to ruin? The complaints of such a body of sufferers might delay, might prevent, the Restoration to which all loyal subjects were eagerly looking forward; and, even if his Majesty should, in spite of those complaints, be happily restored, he would to the end of his life feel the pernicious effects of the injustice which evil advisers were now urging him to commit. He would find that, in trying to quiet one set of malecontents, he had created another. As surely as he yielded to the clamour raised at Dublin for a repeal of the Act of Settlement, he would, from the day on which he returned to Westminster, be assailed by as loud and pertinacious a clamour for a repeal of that repeal. He could not but be aware that no English Parliament, however loyal, would permit such laws as were now passing through the Irish Parliament to stand. Had he made up his mind to take the part of Ireland against the universal sense of England? If so, to what could he look forward but another banishment and another deposition? Or would he, when he had recovered the greater kingdom, revoke the boors by which, in his distress, he had purchased the help of the smaller? It might seem an insult to him even to suggest that he could harbour the thought of such unprincely, of such unmanly, perfidy. Yet what other course would be left to him? And was it not better for him to refuse unreasonable concessions now than to retract those concessions hereafter in a manner which must bring on him reproaches insupportable to a noble mind? His situation was doubtless embarrassing. Yet in this case, as in other cases, it would be found that the path of justice was the path of wisdom.
Though James had, in his speech at the opening of the session, declared against the Act of Settlement, he felt that these arguments were unanswerable. He held several conferences with the leading members of the House of Commons, and earnestly recommended moderation. But his exhortations irritated the passions which he wished to allay. Many of the native gentry held high and violent language. It was impudent, they said, to talk about the rights of purchasers. How could right spring out of wrong? People who chose to buy property acquired by injustice must take the consequences of their folly and cupidity. It was clear that the Lower House was altogether impracticable. James had, four years before, refused to make the smallest concession to the most obsequious parliament that has ever sat in England; and it might have been expected that the obstinacy, which he had never wanted when it was a vice, would not have failed him now when it would have been a virtue. During a short time he seemed determined to act justly. He even talked of dissolving the parliament. The chiefs of the old Celtic families, on the other hand, said publicly that, if he did not give them back their inheritance, they would not fight for his. His very soldiers railed on him in the streets of Dublin. At length he determined to go down himself to the House of Peers, not in his robes and crown, but in the garb in which he had been used to attend debates at Westminster, and personally to solicit the Lords to put some check on the violence of the Commons. But just as he was getting into his coach for this purpose he was stopped by Avaux. Avaux was as zealous as any Irishman for the bills which the Commons were urging forward. It was enough for him that those bills seemed likely to make the enmity between England and Ireland irreconcileable. His remonstrances induced James to abstain from openly opposing the repeal of the Act of Settlement. Still the unfortunate prince continued to cherish some faint hope that the law for which the Commons were so zealous would be rejected, or at least modified, by the Peers. Lord Granard, one of the few Protestant noblemen who sate in that parliament, exerted himself strenuously on the side of public faith and sound policy. The King sent him a message of thanks. "We Protestants," said Granard to Powis who brought the message, "are few in number. We can do little. His Majesty should try his influence with the Roman Catholics." "His Majesty," answered Powis with an oath, "dares not say what he thinks." A few days later James met Granard riding towards the parliament house. "Where are you going, my Lord?" said the King. "To enter my protest, Sir," answered Granard, "against the repeal of the Act of Settlement." "You are right," said the King: "but I am fallen into the hands of people who will ram that and much more down my throat."
James yielded to the will of the Commons; but the unfavourable impression which his short and feeble resistance had made upon them was not to be removed by his submission. They regarded him with profound distrust; they considered him as at heart an Englishman; and not a day passed without some indication of this feeling. They were in no haste to grant him a supply. One party among them planned an address urging him to dismiss Melfort as an enemy of their nation. Another party drew up a bill for deposing all the Protestant Bishops, even the four who were then actually sitting in Parliament. It was not without difficulty that Avaux and Tyrconnel, whose influence in the Lower House far exceeded the King's, could restrain the zeal of the majority.
It is remarkable that, while the King was losing the confidence and good will of the Irish Commons by faintly defending against them, in one quarter, the institution of property, he was himself, in another quarter, attacking that institution with a violence, if possible, more reckless than theirs. He soon found that no money came into his Exchequer. The cause was sufficiently obvious. Trade was at an end. Floating capital had been withdrawn in great masses from the island. Of the fixed capital much had been destroyed, and the rest was lying idle. Thousands of those Protestants who were the most industrious and intelligent part of the population had emigrated to England. Thousands had taken refuge in the places which still held out for William and Mary. Of the Roman Catholic peasantry who were in the vigour of life the majority had enlisted in the army or had joined gangs of plunderers. The poverty of the treasury was the necessary effect of the poverty of the country: public prosperity could be restored only by the restoration of private prosperity; and private prosperity could be restored only by years of peace and security. James was absurd enough to imagine that there was a more speedy and efficacious remedy. He could, he conceived, at once extricate himself from his financial difficulties by the simple process of calling a farthing a shilling. The right of coining was undoubtedly a flower of the prerogative; and, in his view, the right of coining included the right of debasing the coin. Pots, pans, knockers of doors, pieces of ordnance which had long been past use, were carried to the mint. In a short time lumps of base metal, nominally worth near a million sterling, intrinsically worth about a sixtieth part of that sum, were in circulation. A royal edict declared these pieces to be legal tender in all cases whatever. A mortgage for a thousand pounds was cleared off by a bag of counters made out of old kettles. The creditors who complained to the Court of Chancery were told by Fitton to take their money and be gone. But of all classes the tradesmen of Dublin, who were generally Protestants, were the greatest losers. At first, of course, they raised their demands: but the magistrates of the city took on themselves to meet this heretical machination by putting forth a tariff regulating prices. Any man who belonged to the caste now dominant might walk into a shop, lay on the counter a bit of brass worth threepence, and carry off goods to the value of half a guinea. Legal redress was out of the question. Indeed the sufferers thought themselves happy if, by the sacrifice of their stock in trade, they could redeem their limbs and their lives. There was not a baker's shop in the city round which twenty or thirty soldiers were not constantly prowling. Some persons who refused the base money were arrested by troopers and carried before the Provost Marshal, who cursed them, swore at them, locked them up in dark cells, and, by threatening to hang them at their own doors, soon overcame their resistance. Of all the plagues of that time none made a deeper or a more lasting impression on the minds of the Protestants of Dublin than the plague of the brass money. To the recollection of the confusion and misery which had been produced by James's coin must be in part ascribed the strenuous opposition which, thirty-five years later, large classes, firmly attached to the House of Hanover, offered to the government of George the First in the affair of Wood's patent.
There can be no question that James, in thus altering, by his own authority, the terms of all the contracts in the kingdom, assumed a power which belonged only to the whole legislature. Yet the Commons did not remonstrate. There was no power, however unconstitutional, which they were not willing to concede to him, as long as he used it to crush and plunder the English population. On the other hand, they respected no prerogative, however ancient, however legitimate, however salutary, if they apprehended that he might use it to protect the race which they abhorred. They were not satisfied till they had extorted his reluctant consent to a portentous law, a law without a parallel in the history of civilised countries, the great Act of Attainder.
A list was framed containing between two and three thousand names. At the top was half the peerage of Ireland. Then came baronets, knights, clergymen, squires, merchants, yeomen, artisans, women, children. No investigation was made. Any member who wished to rid himself of a creditor, a rival, a private enemy, gave in the name to the clerk at the table, and it was generally inserted without discussion. The only debate of which any account has come down to us related to the Earl of Strafford. He had friends in the House who ventured to offer something in his favour. But a few words from Simon Luttrell settled the question. "I have," he said, "heard the King say some hard things of that lord." This was thought sufficient, and the name of Strafford stands fifth in the long table of the proscribed.
Days were fixed before which those whose names were on the list were required to surrender themselves to such justice as was then administered to English Protestants in Dublin. If a proscribed person was in Ireland, he must surrender himself by the tenth of August. If he had left Ireland since the fifth of November 1688, he must surrender himself by the first of September. If he had left Ireland before the fifth of November 1688, he must surrender himself by the first of October. If he failed to appear by the appointed day, he was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered without a trial, and his property was to be confiscated. It might be physically impossible for him to deliver himself up within the time fixed by the Act. He might be bedridden. He might be in the West Indies. He might be in prison. Indeed there notoriously were such cases. Among the attainted Lords was Mountjoy. He had been induced by the villany of Tyrconnel to trust himself at Saint Germains: he had been thrown into the Bastile: he was still lying there; and the Irish parliament was not ashamed to enact that, unless he could, within a few weeks, make his escape from his cell, and present himself at Dublin, he should be put to death.
As it was not even pretended that there had been any inquiry into the guilt of those who were thus proscribed, as not a single one among them had been heard in his own defence, and as it was certain that it would be physically impossible for many of them to surrender themselves in time, it was clear that nothing but a large exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy could prevent the perpetration of iniquities so horrible that no precedent could be found for them even in the lamentable history of the troubles of Ireland. The Commons therefore determined that the royal prerogative of mercy should be limited. Several regulations were devised for the purpose of making the passing of pardons difficult and costly: and finally it was enacted that every pardon granted by his Majesty, after the end of November 1689, to any of the many hundreds of persons who had been sentenced to death without a trial, should be absolutely void and of none effect. Sir Richard Nagle came in state to the bar of the Lords and presented the bill with a speech worthy of the occasion. "Many of the persons here attainted," said he, "have been proved traitors by such evidence as satisfies us. As to the rest we have followed common fame."
With such reckless barbarity was the list framed that fanatical royalists, who were, at that very time, hazarding their property, their liberty, their lives, in the cause of James, were not secure from proscription. The most learned man of whom the Jacobite party could boast was Henry Dodwell, Camdenian Professor in the University of Oxford. In the cause of hereditary monarchy he shrank from no sacrifice and from no danger. It was about him that William uttered those memorable words: "He has set his heart on being a martyr; and I have set my mind on disappointing him." But James was more cruel to friends than William to foes. Dodwell was a Protestant: he had some property in Connaught: these crimes were sufficient; and he was set down in the long roll of those who were doomed to the gallows and the quartering block.
That James would give his assent to a bill which took from him the power of pardoning, seemed to many persons impossible. He had, four years before, quarrelled with the most loyal of parliaments rather than cede a prerogative which did not belong to him. It might, therefore, well be expected that he would now have struggled hard to retain a precious prerogative which had been enjoyed by his predecessors ever since the origin of the monarchy, and which had never been questioned by the Whigs. The stern look and raised voice with which he had reprimanded the Tory gentlemen, who, in the language of profound reverence and fervent affection, implored him not to dispense with the laws, would now have been in place. He might also have seen that the right course was the wise course. Had he, on this great occasion, had the spirit to declare that he would not shed the blood of the innocent, and that, even as respected the guilty, he would not divest himself of the power of tempering judgment with mercy, he would have regained more hearts in England than he would have lost in Ireland. But it was ever his fate to resist where he should have yielded, and to yield where he should have resisted. The most wicked of all laws received his sanction; and it is but a very small extenuation of his guilt that his sanction was somewhat reluctantly given.
That nothing might be wanting to the completeness of this great crime, extreme care was taken to prevent the persons who were attainted from knowing that they were attainted, till the day of grace fixed in the Act was passed. The roll of names was not published, but kept carefully locked up in Fitton's closet. Some Protestants, who still adhered to the cause of James, but who were anxious to know whether any of their friends or relations had been proscribed, tried hard to obtain a sight of the list; but solicitation, remonstrance, even bribery, proved vain. Not a single copy got abroad till it was too late for any of the thousands who had been condemned without a trial to obtain a pardon.
Towards the close of July James prorogued the Houses. They had sate more than ten weeks; and in that space of time they had proved most fully that, great as have been the evils which Protestant ascendency has produced in Ireland, the evils produced by Popish ascendancy would have been greater still. That the colonists, when they had won the victory, grossly abused it, that their legislation was, during many years, unjust and tyrannical, is most true. But it is not less true that they never quite came up to the atrocious example set by their vanquished enemy during his short tenure of power.
Indeed, while James was loudly boasting that he had passed an Act granting entire liberty of conscience to all sects, a persecution as cruel as that of Languedoc was raging through all the provinces which owned his authority. It was said by those who wished to find an excuse for him that almost all the Protestants who still remained in Munster, Connaught, and Leinster were his enemies, and that it was not as schismatics, but as rebels in heart, who wanted only opportunity to become rebels in act, that he gave them up to be oppressed and despoiled; and to this excuse some weight might have been allowed if he had strenuously exerted himself to protect those few colonists, who, though firmly attached to the reformed religion, were still true to the doctrines of nonresistance and of indefeasible hereditary right. But even these devoted royalists found that their heresy was in his view a crime for which no services or sacrifices would atone. Three or four noblemen, members of the Anglican Church, who had welcomed him to Ireland, and had sate in his Parliament, represented to him that, if the rule which forbade any Protestant to possess any weapon were strictly enforced, their country houses would be at the mercy of the Rapparees, and obtained from him permission to keep arms sufficient for a few servants. But Avaux remonstrated. The indulgence, he said, was grossly abused: these Protestant lords were not to be trusted: they were turning their houses into fortresses: his Majesty would soon have reason to repent his goodness. These representations prevailed; and Roman Catholic troops were quartered in the suspected dwellings.
Still harder was the lot of those Protestant clergymen who continued to cling, with desperate fidelity, to the cause of the Lord's Anointed. Of all the Anglican divines the one who had the largest share of James's good graces seems to have been Cartwright. Whether Cartwright could long have continued to be a favourite without being an apostate may be doubted. He died a few weeks after his arrival in Ireland; and thenceforward his church had no one to plead her cause. Nevertheless a few of her prelates and priests continued for a time to teach what they had taught in the days of the Exclusion Bill. But it was at the peril of life or limb that they exercised their functions. Every wearer of a cassock was a mark for the insults and outrages of soldiers and Rapparees. In the country his house was robbed, and he was fortunate if it was not burned over his head. He was hunted through the streets of Dublin with cries of "There goes the devil of a heretic." Sometimes he was knocked down: sometimes he was cudgelled. The rulers of the University of Dublin, trained in the Anglican doctrine of passive obedience, had greeted James on his first arrival at the Castle, and had been assured by him that he would protect them in the enjoyment of their property and their privileges. They were now, without any trial, without any accusation, thrust out of their house. The communion plate of the chapel, the books in the library, the very chairs and beds of the collegians were seized. Part of the building was turned into a magazine, part into a barrack, part into a prison. Simon Luttrell, who was Governor of the capital, was, with great difficulty and by powerful intercession, induced to let the ejected fellows and scholars depart in safety. He at length permitted them to remain at large, with this condition, that, on pain of death, no three of them should meet together. No Protestant divine suffered more hardships than Doctor William King, Dean of Saint Patrick's. He had been long distinguished by the fervour with which he had inculcated the duty of passively obeying even the worst rulers. At a later period, when he had published a defence of the Revolution, and had accepted a mitre from the new government, he was reminded that he had invoked the divine vengeance on the usurpers, and had declared himself willing to die a hundred deaths rather than desert the cause of hereditary right. He had said that the true religion had often been strengthened by persecution, but could never be strengthened by rebellion; that it would be a glorious day for the Church of England when a whole cartload of her ministers should go to the gallows for the doctrine of nonresistance; and that his highest ambition was to be one of such a company. It is not improbable that, when he spoke thus, he felt as he spoke. But his principles, though they might perhaps have held out against the severities and the promises of William, were not proof against the ingratitude of James. Human nature at last asserted its rights. After King had been repeatedly imprisoned by the government to which he was devotedly attached, after he had been insulted and threatened in his own choir by the soldiers, after he had been interdicted from burying in his own churchyard, and from preaching in his own pulpit, after he had narrowly escaped with life from a musketshot fired at him in the street, he began to think the Whig theory of government less unreasonable and unchristian than it had once appeared to him, and persuaded himself that the oppressed Church might lawfully accept deliverance, if God should be pleased, by whatever means, to send it to her.
In no long time it appeared that James would have done well to hearken to those counsellors who had told him that the acts by which he was trying to make himself popular in one of his three kingdoms, would make him odious in the others. It was in some sense fortunate for England that, after he had ceased to reign here, he continued during more than a year to reign in Ireland. The Revolution had been followed by a reaction of public feeling in his favour. That reaction, if it had been suffered to proceed uninterrupted, might perhaps not have ceased till he was again King: but it was violently interrupted by himself. He would not suffer his people to forget: he would not suffer them to hope: while they were trying to find excuses for his past errors, and to persuade themselves that he would not repeat these errors, he forced upon them, in their own despite, the conviction that he was incorrigible, that the sharpest discipline of adversity had taught him nothing, and that, if they were weak enough to recall him, they would soon have to depose him again. It was in vain that the Jacobites put forth pamphlets about the cruelty with which he had been treated by those who were nearest to him in blood, about the imperious temper and uncourteous manners of William, about the favour shown to the Dutch, about the heavy taxes, about the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, about the dangers which threatened the Church from the enmity of Puritans and Latitudinarians. James refuted these pamphlets far more effectually than all the ablest and most eloquent Whig writers united could have done. Every week came the news that he had passed some new Act for robbing or murdering Protestants. Every colonist who succeeded in stealing across the sea from Leinster to Holyhead or Bristol, brought fearful reports of the tyranny under which his brethren groaned. What impression these reports made on the Protestants of our island may be easily inferred from the fact that they moved the indignation of Ronquillo, a Spaniard and a bigoted member of the Church of Rome. He informed his Court that, though the English laws against Popery might seem severe, they were so much mitigated by the prudence and humanity of the Government, that they caused no annoyance to quiet people; and he took upon himself to assure the Holy See that what a Roman Catholic suffered in London was nothing when compared with what a Protestant suffered in Ireland.
The fugitive Englishry found in England warm sympathy and munificent relief. Many were received into the houses of friends and kinsmen. Many were indebted for the means of subsistence to the liberality of strangers. Among those who bore a part in this work of mercy, none contributed more largely or less ostentatiously than the Queen. The House of Commons placed at the King's disposal fifteen thousand pounds for the relief of those refugees whose wants were most pressing, and requested him to give commissions in the army to those who were qualified for military employment. An Act was also passed enabling beneficed clergymen who had fled from Ireland to hold preferment in England. Yet the interest which the nation felt in these unfortunate guests was languid when compared with the interest excited by that portion of the Saxon colony which still maintained in Ulster a desperate conflict against overwhelming odds. On this subject scarcely one dissentient voice was to be heard in our island. Whigs, Tories, nay even those Jacobites in whom Jacobitism had not extinguished every patriotic sentiment, gloried in the glory of Enniskillen and Londonderry. The House of Commons was all of one mind. "This is no time to be counting cost," said honest Birch, who well remembered the way in which Oliver had made war on the Irish. "Are those brave fellows in Londonderry to be deserted? If we lose them will not all the world cry shame upon us? A boom across the river! Why have we not cut the boom in pieces? Are our brethren to perish almost in sight of England, within a few hours' voyage of our shores?" Howe, the most vehement man of one party, declared that the hearts of the people were set on Ireland. Seymour, the leader of the other party, declared that, though he had not taken part in setting up the new government, he should cordially support it in all that might be necessary for the preservation of Ireland. The Commons appointed a committee to enquire into the cause of the delays and miscarriages which had been all but fatal to the Englishry of Ulster. The officers to whose treachery or cowardice the public ascribed the calamities of Londonderry were put under arrest. Lundy was sent to the Tower, Cunningham to the Gate House. The agitation of the public mind was in some degree calmed by the announcement that, before the end of the summer, an army powerful enough to reestablish the English ascendency in Ireland would be sent across Saint George's Channel, and that Schomberg would be the General. In the meantime an expedition which was thought to be sufficient for the relief of Londonderry was despatched from Liverpool under the command of Kirke. The dogged obstinacy with which this man had, in spite of royal solicitations, adhered to his religion, and the part which he had taken in the Revolution, had perhaps entitled him to an amnesty for past crimes. But it is difficult to understand why the Government should have selected for a post of the highest importance an officer who was generally and justly hated, who had never shown eminent talents for war, and who, both in Africa and in England, had notoriously tolerated among his soldiers a licentiousness, not only shocking to humanity, but also incompatible with discipline.
On the sixteenth of May, Kirke's troops embarked: on the twenty- second they sailed: but contrary winds made the passage slow, and forced the armament to stop long at the Isle of Man. Meanwhile the Protestants of Ulster were defending themselves with stubborn courage against a great superiority of force. The Enniskilleners had never ceased to wage a vigorous partisan war against the native population. Early in May they marched to encounter a large body of troops from Connaught, who had made an inroad into Donegal. The Irish were speedily routed, and fled to Sligo with the loss of a hundred and twenty men killed and sixty taken. Two small pieces of artillery and several horses fell into the hands of the conquerors. Elated by this success, the Enniskilleners soon invaded the county of Cavan, drove before them fifteen hundred of James's troops, took and destroyed the castle of Ballincarrig, reputed the strongest in that part of the kingdom, and carried off the pikes and muskets of the garrison. The next incursion was into Meath. Three thousand oxen and two thousand sheep were swept away and brought safe to the little island in Lough Erne. These daring exploits spread terror even to the gates of Dublin. Colonel Hugh Sutherland was ordered to march against Enniskillen with a regiment of dragoons and two regiments of foot. He carried with him arms for the native peasantry; and many repaired to his standard. The Enniskilleners did not wait till he came into their neighbourhood, but advanced to encounter him. He declined an action, and retreated, leaving his stores at Belturbet under the care of a detachment of three hundred soldiers. The Protestants attacked Belturbet with vigour, made their way into a lofty house which overlooked the town, and thence opened such a fire that in two hours the garrison surrendered. Seven hundred muskets, a great quantity of powder, many horses, many sacks of biscuits, many barrels of meal, were taken, and were sent to Enniskillen. The boats which brought these precious spoils were joyfully welcomed. The fear of hunger was removed. While the aboriginal population had, in many counties, altogether neglected the cultivation of the earth, in the expectation, it should seem, that marauding would prove an inexhaustible resource, the colonists, true to the provident and industrious character of their race, had, in the midst of war, not omitted carefully to till the soil in the neighbourhood of their strongholds. The harvest was now not far remote; and, till the harvest, the food taken from the enemy would be amply sufficient.
Yet, in the midst of success and plenty, the Enniskilleners were tortured by a cruel anxiety for Londonderry. They were bound to the defenders of that city, not only by religious and national sympathy, but by common interest. For there could be no doubt that, if Londonderry fell, the whole Irish army would instantly march in irresistible force upon Lough Erne. Yet what could be done? Some brave men were for making a desperate attempt to relieve the besieged city; but the odds were too great. Detachments however were sent which infested the rear of the blockading army, cut off supplies, and, on one occasion, carried away the horses of three entire troops of cavalry. Still the line of posts which surrounded Londonderry by land remained unbroken. The river was still strictly closed and guarded. Within the walls the distress had become extreme. So early as the eighth of June horseflesh was almost the only meat which could be purchased; and of horseflesh the supply was scanty. It was necessary to make up the deficiency with tallow; and even tallow was doled out with a parsimonious hand.
On the fifteenth of June a gleam of hope appeared. The sentinels on the top of the Cathedral saw sails nine miles off in the bay of Lough Foyle. Thirty vessels of different sizes were counted. Signals were made from the steeples and returned from the mast heads, but were imperfectly understood on both sides. At last a messenger from the fleet eluded the Irish sentinels, dived under the boom, and informed the garrison that Kirke had arrived from England with troops, arms, ammunition, and provisions, to relieve the city.
In Londonderry expectation was at the height: but a few hours of feverish joy were followed by weeks of misery. Kirke thought it unsafe to make any attempt, either by land or by water, on the lines of the besiegers, and retired to the entrance of Lough Foyle, where, during several weeks, he lay inactive.
And now the pressure of famine became every day more severe. A strict search was made in all the recesses of all the houses of the city; and some provisions, which had been concealed in cellars by people who had since died or made their escape, were discovered and carried to the magazines. The stock of cannon balls was almost exhausted; and their place was supplied by brickbats coated with lead. Pestilence began, as usual, to make its appearance in the train of hunger. Fifteen officers died of fever in one day. The Governor Baker was among those who sank under the disease. His place was supplied by Colonel John Mitchelburne.
Meanwhile it was known at Dublin that Kirke and his squadron were on the coast of Ulster. The alarm was great at the Castle. Even before this news arrived, Avaux had given it as his opinion that Richard Hamilton was unequal to the difficulties of the situation. It had therefore been resolved that Rosen should take the chief command. He was now sent down with all speed.
On the nineteenth of June he arrived at the head quarters of the besieging army. At first he attempted to undermine the walls; but his plan was discovered; and he was compelled to abandon it after a sharp fight, in which more than a hundred of his men were slain. Then his fury rose to a strange pitch. He, an old soldier, a Marshal of France in expectancy, trained in the school of the greatest generals, accustomed, during many years, to scientific war, to be baffled by a mob of country gentlemen, farmers, shopkeepers, who were protected only by a wall which any good engineer would at once have pronounced untenable! He raved, he blasphemed, in a language of his own, made up of all the dialects spoken from the Baltic to the Atlantic. He would raze the city to the ground: he would spare no living thing; no, not the young girls; not the babies at the breast. As to the leaders, death was too light a punishment for them: he would rack them: he would roast them alive. In his rage he ordered a shell to be flung into the town with a letter containing a horrible menace. He would, he said, gather into one body all the Protestants who had remained at their homes between Charlemont and the sea, old men, women, children, many of them near in blood and affection to the defenders of Londonderry. No protection, whatever might be the authority by which it had been given, should be respected. The multitude thus brought together should be driven under the walls of Londonderry, and should there be starved to death in the sight of their countrymen, their friends, their kinsmen. This was no idle threat. Parties were instantly sent out in all directions to collect victims. At dawn, on the morning of the second of July, hundreds of Protestants, who were charged with no crime, who were incapable of bearing arms, and many of whom had protections granted by James, were dragged to the gates of the city. It was imagined that the piteous sight would quell the spirit of the colonists. But the only effect was to rouse that spirit to still greater energy. An order was immediately put forth that no man should utter the word Surrender on pain of death; and no man uttered that word. Several prisoners of high rank were in the town. Hitherto they had been well treated, and had received as good rations as were measured out to the garrison. They were now, closely confined. A gallows was erected on one of the bastion; and a message was conveyed to Rosen, requesting him to send a confessor instantly to prepare his friends for death. The prisoners in great dismay wrote to the savage Livonian, but received no answer. They then addressed themselves to their countryman, Richard Hamilton. They were willing, they said, to shed their blood for their King; but they thought it hard to die the ignominious death of thieves in consequence of the barbarity of their own companions in arms. Hamilton, though a man of lax principles, was not cruel. He had been disgusted by the inhumanity of Rosen, but, being only second in command, could not venture to express publicly all that he thought. He however remonstrated strongly. Some Irish officers felt on this occasion as it was natural that brave men should feel, and declared, weeping with pity and indignation, that they should never cease to have in their ears the cries of the poor women and children who had been driven at the point of the pike to die of famine between the camp and the city. Rosen persisted during forty-eight hours. In that time many unhappy creatures perished: but Londonderry held out as resolutely as ever; and he saw that his crime was likely to produce nothing but hatred and obloquy. He at length gave way, and suffered the survivors to withdraw. The garrison then took down the gallows which had been erected on the bastion.
When the tidings of these events reached Dublin, James, though by no means prone to compassion, was startled by an atrocity of which the civil wars of England had furnished no example, and was displeased by learning that protections, given by his authority, and guaranteed by his honour, had been publicly declared to be nullities. He complained to the French ambassador, and said, with a warmth which the occasion fully justified, that Rosen was a barbarous Muscovite. Melfort could not refrain from adding that, if Rosen had been an Englishman, he would have been hanged. Avaux was utterly unable to understand this effeminate sensibility. In his opinion, nothing had been done that was at all reprehensible; and he had some difficulty in commanding himself when he heard the King and the secretary blame, in strong language, an act of wholesome severity. In truth the French ambassador and the French general were well paired. There was a great difference doubtless, in appearance and manner, between the handsome, graceful, and refined diplomatist, whose dexterity and suavity had been renowned at the most polite courts of Europe, and the military adventurer, whose look and voice reminded all who came near him that he had been born in a half savage country, that he had risen from the ranks, and that he had once been sentenced to death for marauding. But the heart of the courtier was really even more callous than that of the soldier.
Rosen was recalled to Dublin; and Richard Hamilton was again left in the chief command. He tried gentler means than those which had brought so much reproach on his predecessor. No trick, no lie, which was thought likely to discourage the starving garrison was spared. One day a great shout was raised by the whole Irish camp. The defenders of Londonderry were soon informed that the army of James was rejoicing on account of the fall of Enniskillen. They were told that they had now no chance of being relieved, and were exhorted to save their lives by capitulating. They consented to negotiate. But what they asked was, that they should be permitted to depart armed and in military array, by land or by water at their choice. They demanded hostages for the exact fulfilment of these conditions, and insisted that the hostages should be sent on board of the fleet which lay in Lough Foyle. Such terms Hamilton durst not grant: the Governors would abate nothing: the treaty was broken off; and the conflict recommenced.
By this time July was far advanced; and the state of the city was, hour by hour, becoming more frightful. The number of the inhabitants had been thinned more by famine and disease than by the fire of the enemy. Yet that fire was sharper and more constant than ever. One of the gates was beaten in: one of the bastions was laid in ruins; but the breaches made by day were repaired by night with indefatigable activity. Every attack was still repelled. But the fighting men of the garrison were so much exhausted that they could scarcely keep their legs. Several of them, in the act of striking at the enemy, fell down from mere weakness. A very small quantity of grain remained, and was doled out by mouthfuls. The stock of salted hides was considerable, and by gnawing them the garrison appeased the rage of hunger. Dogs, fattened on the blood of the slain who lay unburied round the town, were luxuries which few could afford to purchase. The price of a whelp's paw was five shillings and sixpence. Nine horses were still alive, and but barely alive. They were so lean that little meat was likely to be found upon them. It was, however, determined to slaughter them for food. The people perished so fast that it was impossible for the survivors to perform the rites of sepulture. There was scarcely a cellar in which some corpse was not decaying. Such was the extremity of distress, that the rats who came to feast in those hideous dens were eagerly hunted and greedily devoured. A small fish, caught in the river, was not to be purchased with money. The only price for which such a treasure could be obtained was some handfuls of oatmeal. Leprosies, such as strange and unwholesome diet engenders, made existence a constant torment. The whole city was poisoned by the stench exhaled from the bodies of the dead and of the half dead. That there should be fits of discontent and insubordination among men enduring such misery was inevitable. At one moment it was suspected that Walker had laid up somewhere a secret store of food, and was revelling in private, while he exhorted others to suffer resolutely for the good cause. His house was strictly examined: his innocence was fully proved: he regained his popularity; and the garrison, with death in near prospect, thronged to the cathedral to hear him preach, drank in his earnest eloquence with delight, and went forth from the house of God with haggard faces and tottering steps, but with spirit still unsubdued. There were, indeed, some secret plottings. A very few obscure traitors opened communications with the enemy. But it was necessary that all such dealings should be carefully concealed. None dared to utter publicly any words save words of defiance and stubborn resolution. Even in that extremity the general cry was "No surrender." And there were not wanting voices which, in low tones, added, "First the horses and hides; and then the prisoners; and then each other." It was afterwards related, half in jest, yet not without a horrible mixture of earnest, that a corpulent citizen, whose bulk presented a strange contrast to the skeletons which surrounded him, thought it expedient to conceal himself from the numerous eyes which followed him with cannibal looks whenever he appeared in the streets.
It was no slight aggravation of the sufferings of the garrison that all this tune the English ships were seen far off in Lough Foyle. Communication between the fleet and the city was almost impossible. One diver who had attempted to pass the boom was drowned. Another was hanged. The language of signals was hardly intelligible. On the thirteenth of July, however, a piece of paper sewed up in a cloth button came to Walker's hands. It was a letter from Kirke, and contained assurances of speedy relief. But more than a fortnight of intense misery had since elapsed; and the hearts of the most sanguine were sick with deferred hope. By no art could the provisions which were left be made to hold out two days more.
Just at this time Kirke received a despatch from England, which contained positive orders that Londonderry should be relieved. He accordingly determined to make an attempt which, as far as appears, he might have made, with at least an equally fair prospect of success, six weeks earlier.
Among the merchant ships which had come to Lough Foyle under his convoy was one called the Mountjoy. The master, Micaiah Browning, a native of Londonderry, had brought from England a large cargo of provisions. He had, it is said, repeatedly remonstrated against the inaction of the armament. He now eagerly volunteered to take the first risk of succouring his fellow citizens; and his offer was accepted. Andrew Douglas, master of the Phoenix, who had on board a great quantity of meal from Scotland, was willing to share the danger and the honour. The two merchantmen were to be escorted by the Dartmouth, a frigate of thirty-six guns, commanded by Captain John Leake, afterwards an admiral of great fame.
It was the thirtieth of July. The sun had just set: the evening sermon in the cathedral was over; and the heartbroken congregation had separated, when the sentinels on the tower saw the sails of three vessels coming up the Foyle. Soon there was a stir in the Irish camp. The besiegers were on the alert for miles along both shores. The ships were in extreme peril: for the river was low; and the only navigable channel Tan very near to the left bank, where the head quarters of the enemy had been fixed, and where the batteries were most numerous. Leake performed his duty with a skill and spirit worthy of his noble profession, exposed his frigate to cover the merchantmen, and used his guns with great effect. At length the little squadron came to the place of peril. Then the Mountjoy took the lead, and went right at the bottom. The huge barricade cracked and gave way: but the shock was such that the Mountjoy rebounded, and stuck in the mud. A yell of triumph rose from the banks: the Irish rushed to their boats, and were preparing to board; but the Dartmouth poured on them a well directed broadside, which threw them into disorder. Just then the Phoenix dashed at the breach which the Mountjoy had made, and was in a moment within the fence. Meantime the tide was rising fast. The Mountjoy began to move, and soon passed safe through the broken stakes and floating spars. But her brave master was no more. A shot from one of the batteries had struck him; and he died by the most enviable of all deaths, in sight of the city which was his birthplace, which was his home, and which had just been saved by his courage and self-devotion from the most frightful form of destruction. The night had closed in before the conflict at the boom began; but the flash of the guns was seen, and the noise heard, by the lean and ghastly multitude which covered the walls of the city. When the Mountjoy grounded, and when the shout of triumph rose from the Irish on both sides of the river, the hearts of the besieged died within them. One who endured the unutterable anguish of that moment has told that they looked fearfully livid in each other's eyes. Even after the barricade had been passed, there was a terrible half hour of suspense. It was ten o'clock before the ships arrived at the quay. The whole population was there to welcome them. A screen made of casks filled with earth was hastily thrown up to protect the landing place from the batteries on the other side of the river; and then the work of unloading began. First were rolled on shore barrels containing six thousand bushels of meal. Then came great cheeses, casks of beef, flitches of bacon, kegs of butter, sacks of pease and biscuit, ankers of brandy. Not many hours before, half a pound of tallow and three quarters of a pound of salted hide had been weighed out with niggardly care to every fighting man. The ration which each now received was three pounds of flour, two pounds of beef, and a pint of Pease. It is easy to imagine with what tears grace was said over the suppers of that evening. There was little sleep on either side of the wall. The bonfires shone bright along the whole circuit of the ramparts. The Irish guns continued to roar all night; and all night the bells of the rescued city made answer to the Irish guns with a peal of joyous defiance. Through the whole of the thirty-first of July the batteries of the enemy continued to play. But, soon after the sun had again gone down, flames were seen arising from the camp; and, when the first of August dawned, a line of smoking ruins marked the site lately occupied by the huts of the besiegers; and the citizens saw far off the long column of pikes and standards retreating up the left bank of the Foyle towards Strabane.
So ended this great siege, the most memorable in the annals of the British isles. It had lasted a hundred and five days. The garrison had been reduced from about seven thousand effective men to about three thousand. The loss of the besiegers cannot be precisely ascertained. Walker estimated it at eight thousand men. It is certain from the despatches of Avaux that the regiments which returned from the blockade had been so much thinned that many of them were not more than two hundred strong. Of thirty-six French gunners who had superintended the cannonading, thirty-one had been killed or disabled. The means both of attack and of defence had undoubtedly been such as would have moved the great warriors of the Continent to laughter; and this is the very circumstance which gives so peculiar an interest to the history of the contest. It was a contest, not between engineers, but between nations; and the victory remained with the nation which, though inferior in number, was superior in civilisation, in capacity for selfgovernment, and in stubbornness of resolution.
As soon as it was known that the Irish army had retired, a deputation from the city hastened to Lough Foyle, and invited Kirk to take the command. He came accompanied by a long train of officers, and was received in state by the two Governors, who delivered up to him the authority which, under the pressure of necessity, they had assumed. He remained only a few days; but he had time to show enough of the incurable vices of his character to disgust a population distinguished by austere morals and ardent public spirit. There was, however, no outbreak. The city was in the highest good humour. Such quantities of provisions had been landed from the fleet, that there was in every house a plenty never before known. A few days earlier a man had been glad to obtain for twenty pence a mouthful of carrion scraped from the bones of a starved horse. A pound of good beef was now sold for three halfpence. Meanwhile all hands were busied in removing corpses which had been thinly covered with earth, in filling up the holes which the shells had ploughed in the ground, and in repairing the battered roofs of the houses. The recollection of past dangers and privations, and the consciousness of having deserved well of the English nation and of all Protestant Churches, swelled the hearts of the townspeople with honest pride. That pride grew stronger when they received from William a letter acknowledging, in the most affectionate language, the debt which he owed to the brave and trusty citizens of his good city. The whole population crowded to the Diamond to hear the royal epistle read. At the close all the guns on the ramparts sent forth a voice of joy: all the ships in the river made answer: barrels of ale were broken up; and the health of their Majesties was drunk with shouts and volleys of musketry.
Five generations have since passed away; and still the wall of Londonderry is to the Protestants of Ulster what the trophy of Marathon was to the Athenians. A lofty pillar, rising from a bastion which bore during many weeks the heaviest fire of the enemy, is seen far up and far down the Foyle. On the summit is the statue of Walker, such as when, in the last and most terrible emergency, his eloquence roused the fainting courage of his brethren. In one hand he grasps a Bible. The other, pointing down the river, seems to direct the eyes of his famished audience to the English topmasts in the distant bay. Such a monument was well deserved: yet it was scarcely needed: for in truth the whole city is to this day a monument of the great deliverance. The wall is carefully preserved; nor would any plea of health or convenience be held by the inhabitants sufficient to justify the demolition of that sacred enclosure which, in the evil time, gave shelter to their race and their religion. The summit of the ramparts forms a pleasant walk. The bastions have been turned into little gardens. Here and there, among the shrubs and flowers, may be seen the old culverins which scattered bricks, cased with lead, among the Irish ranks. One antique gun, the gift of the Fishmongers of London, was distinguished, during the hundred and five memorable days, by the loudness of its report, and still bears the name of Roaring Meg. The cathedral is filled with relics and trophies. In the vestibule is a huge shell, one of many hundreds of shells which were thrown into the city. Over the altar are still seen the French flagstaves, taken by the garrison in a desperate sally. The white ensigns of the House of Bourbon have long been dust: but their place has been supplied by new banners, the work of the fairest hands of Ulster. The anniversary of the day on which the gates were closed, and the anniversary of the day on which the siege was raised, have been down to our own time celebrated by salutes, processions, banquets, and sermons: Lundy has been executed in effigy; and the sword, said by tradition to be that of Maumont, has, on great occasions, been carried in triumph. There is still a Walker Club and a Murray Club. The humble tombs of the Protestant captains have been carefully sought out, repaired, and embellished. It is impossible not to respect the sentiment which indicates itself by these tokens. It is a sentiment which belongs to the higher and purer part of human nature, and which adds not a little to the strength of states. A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve any thing worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants. Yet it is impossible for the moralist or the statesman to look with unmixed complacency on the solemnities with which Londonderry commemorates her deliverance, and on the honours which she pays to those who saved her. Unhappily the animosities of her brave champions have descended with their glory. The faults which are ordinarily found in dominant castes and dominant sects have not seldom shown themselves without disguise at her festivities; and even with the expressions of pious gratitude which have resounded from her pulpits have too often been mingled words of wrath and defiance.
The Irish army which had retreated to Strabane remained there but a very short time. The spirit of the troops had been depressed by their recent failure, and was soon completely cowed by the news of a great disaster in another quarter.
Three weeks before this time the Duke of Berwick had gained an advantage over a detachment of the Enniskilleners, and had, by their own confession, killed or taken more than fifty of them. They were in hopes of obtaining some assistance from Kirke, to whom they had sent a deputation; and they still persisted in rejecting all terms offered by the enemy. It was therefore determined at Dublin that an attack should be made upon them from several quarters at once. Macarthy, who had been rewarded for his services in Munster with the title of Viscount Mountcashel, marched towards Lough Erne from the east with three regiments of foot, two regiments of dragoons, and some troops of cavalry. A considerable force, which lay encamped near the mouth of the river Drowes, was at the same time to advance from the west. The Duke of Berwick was to come from the north, with such horse and dragoons as could be spared from the army which was besieging Londonderry. The Enniskilleners were not fully apprised of the whole plan which had been laid for their destruction; but they knew that Macarthy was on the road with a force exceeding any which they could bring into the field. Their anxiety was in some degree relieved by the return of the deputation which they had sent to Kirke. Kirke could spare no soldiers; but he had sent some arms, some ammunition, and some experienced officers, of whom the chief were Colonel Wolseley and Lieutenant Colonel Berry. These officers had come by sea round the coast of Donegal, and had run up the Line. On Sunday, the twenty-ninth of July, it was known that their boat was approaching the island of Enniskillen. The whole population, male and female, came to the shore to greet them. It was with difficulty, that they made their way to the Castle through the crowds which hung on them, blessing God that dear old England had not quite forgotten the Englishmen who upheld her cause against great odds in the heart of Ireland.
Wolseley seems to have been in every respect well qualified for his post. He was a stanch Protestant, had distinguished himself among the Yorkshiremen who rose up for the Prince of Orange and a free Parliament, and had, if he is not belied, proved his zeal for liberty and pure religion, by causing the Mayor of Scarborough, who had made a speech in favour of King James, to be brought into the market place and well tossed there in a blanket. This vehement hatred of Popery was, in the estimation of the men of Enniskillen, the first of all qualifications for command: and Wolseley had other and more important qualifications. Though himself regularly bred to war, he seems to have had a peculiar aptitude for the management of irregular troops. He had scarcely taken on himself the chief command when he received notice that Mountcashel had laid siege to the Castle of Crum. Crum was the frontier garrison of the Protestants of Fermanagh. The ruins of the old fortifications are now among the attractions of a beautiful pleasureground, situated on a woody promontory which overlooks Lough Erne. Wolseley determined to raise the siege. He sent Berry forward with such troops as could be instantly put in motion, and promised to follow speedily with a larger force.
Berry, after marching some miles, encountered thirteen companies of Macarthy's dragoons commanded by Anthony, the most brilliant and accomplished of all who bore the name of Hamilton, but much less successful as a soldier than as a courtier, a lover, and a writer. Hamilton's dragoons ran at the first fire: he was severely wounded; and his second in command was shot dead. Macarthy soon came up to support Hamilton; and at the same time Wolseley came up to support Berry. The hostile armies were now in presence of each other. Macarthy had above five thousand men and several pieces of artillery. The Enniskilleners were under three thousand; and they had marched in such haste that they had brought only one day's provisions. It was therefore absolutely necessary for them either to fight instantly or to retreat. Wolseley determined to consult the men; and this determination, which, in ordinary circumstances, would have been most unworthy of a general, was fully justified by the peculiar composition and temper of the little army, an army made up of gentlemen and yeomen fighting, not for pay, but for their lands, their wives, their children, and their God. The ranks were drawn up under arms; and the question was put, "Advance or Retreat?" The answer was an universal shout of "Advance." Wolseley gave out the word, "No Popery." It was received with loud applause. He instantly made his dispositions for an attack. As he approached, the enemy, to his great surprise, began to retire. The Enniskilleners were eager to pursue with all speed: but their commander, suspecting a snare, restrained their ardour, and positively forbade them to break their ranks. Thus one army retreated and the other followed, in good order, through the little town of Newton Butler. About a mile from that town the Irish faced about, and made a stand. Their position was well chosen. They were drawn up on a hill at the foot of which lay a deep bog. A narrow paved causeway which ran across the bog was the only road by which the cavalry of the Enniskilleners could advance; for on the right and left were pools, turf pits, and quagmires, which afforded no footing to horses. Macarthy placed his cannon in such a manner as to sweep this causeway.
Wolseley ordered his infantry to the attack. They struggled through the bog, made their way to firm ground, and rushed on the guns. There was then a short and desperate fight. The Irish cannoneers stood gallantly to their pieces till they were cut down to a man. The Enniskillen horse, no longer in danger of being mowed down by the fire of the artillery, came fast up the causeway. The Irish dragoons who had run away in the morning were smitten with another panic, and, without striking a blow, galloped from the field. The horse followed the example. Such was the terror of the fugitives that many of them spurred hard till their beasts fell down, and then continued to fly on foot, throwing away carbines, swords, and even coats as incumbrances. The infantry, seeing themselves deserted, flung down their pikes and muskets and ran for their lives. The conquerors now gave loose to that ferocity which has seldom failed to disgrace the civil wars of Ireland. The butchery was terrible. Near fifteen hundred of the vanquished were put to the sword. About five hundred more, in ignorance of the country, took a road which led to Lough Erne. The lake was before them: the enemy behind: they plunged into the waters and perished there. Macarthy, abandoned by his troops, rushed into the midst of the pursuers and very nearly found the death which he sought. He was wounded in several places: he was struck to the ground; and in another moment his brains would have been knocked out with the butt end of a musket, when he was recognised and saved. The colonists lost only twenty men killed and fifty wounded. They took four hundred prisoners, seven pieces of cannon, fourteen barrels of powder, all the drums and all the colours of the vanquished enemy.
The battle of Newton Butler was won on the same afternoon on which the boom thrown over the Foyle was broken. At Strabane the news met the Celtic army which was retreating from Londonderry. All was terror and confusion: the tents were struck: the military stores were flung by waggon loads into the waters of the Mourne; and the dismayed Irish, leaving many sick and wounded to the mercy of the victorious Protestants, fled to Omagh, and thence to Charlemont. Sarsfield, who commanded at Sligo, found it necessary to abandon that town, which was instantly occupied by a detachment of Kirke's troops. Dublin was in consternation. James dropped words which indicated an intention of flying to the Continent. Evil tidings indeed came fast upon him. Almost at the same time at which he learned that one of his armies had raised the siege of Londonderry, and that another had been routed at Newton Butler, he received intelligence scarcely less disheartening from Scotland.
It is now necessary to trace the progress of those events to which Scotland owes her political and her religious liberty, her prosperity and her civilisation.