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ravaged and laid waste : and even O'Connor, who made his appearance against him with a numerous army, consisting of the troops of Connaught, Breffney, Thomond, and some lords of Leinster, afraid to risk a battle, was obliged to come to an accommodation, and to acknowledge him as king of Leinster; on condition that he did homage for his dominions, that he introduced no more British adventurers into Ireland, and that he delivered up his favourite son as an hostage for the performance of the treaty."
After receiving the submission of Dublin, and giving his daughter in marriage to Donald O'Brien, prince of Thomond, who consequently renounced his allegiance to O'Connor, and united his fortunes to those of his father-in-law, Dermod began, potwithstanding the late treaty, to aspire to sovereign power, and to plot the downfal of the king of Connaught.
To secure the accomplishment of this great object, he dispatched pressing solicitations to the earl of Pembroke to hasten his preparations, who accordingly, notwithstanding a peremptory mandate from Henry to desist from the enterprise, set sail with an army of between two and three hundred knights, and about thirteen hundred archers, and arrived in the vicinity of Waterford, in the month of August, one thousand one hundred and seventy-one. In conjunction with Raymond le Gross, a nephew of Fitzstephen, whom he had sent before him with the vanguard, he advanced immediately to the attack of that city. Though twice repulsed by the garrison, he returned a third time to the assault with determined valour, and having succeeded in making a breach, rushed with irresistible impetuosity into the town, putting all, without distinction, to the sword, till the arrival of Dermod put a period to the slaughter. After consummating the nuptials of the earl with Eva, Dermod's daughter, according to their original stipulation, the chieftains marched with their united forces to chastise an insurrection of the citizens of Dublin, and to oppose O'Connor, who had assembled an army of about twenty thousand men. Intimidated by the formidable appearance of the British troops, the forces of the king of Connaught returned home. Dublin was taken by assault, and many of the inhabitąnts slaughtered or drowned in
the Liffey; while Hesculf Mac-Torcal, the governor, with several others, having escaped on board some ships, fled to the Hebrides. Strongbow was invested with the lordship of Dublin, whence he marched into Meath, carrying slaughter and devastation in his train.
The Irish, accustomed only to desultory warfare, incapable of making a long continued effort to resist their enemies, and not politic enough to unite in their own defence, appear, after various vicissitudes of fortune, to have been unable to cope with the steady valour and discipline of the British adventurers, who rapidly gained fresh confederates and fresh ground in the island. Henry, however, who indeed had forbid Strongbow's departure for Ireland, grown jealous of his success, issued a mandate, enjoining all his subjects in that country instantly to return home under penalty of high treason, prohibiting all supplies to be conveyed to them from his own kingdom, and expressed in high terms his disapprobation of their proceedings. Deprived, by this jealous act of his sovereign, of all assistance from abroad, deserted, in consequence, by many of his knights and their followers, who obeyed the order of their sovereign, and abandoned, after the death of Dermod which quickly fola lowed, by the greater part of his Irish allies, the earl experienced a nearly fatal reverse of fortune. . .
OʻConnor, taking advantage of his destitute situation, aided by the exertions of Lawrence O'Tool, archbishop of Dublin, who flew from chief to chief, exhorting them to seize so fair an opportunity to expel the invaders, mustered an army stated at thirty thousand men, and invested him in Dublin with his whole force, while a fleet of thirty Danish vessels blockaded the harbour. Fatigued by unceasing watchfulness during a siege of two months, oppressed by famine and disease, the garrison was reduced to the last extremity, and having no hope of succour, were compelled to make overtures of accommodation. By the advice of O‘Tool, their proposals were rejected, the besiegers declaring that no terms would be listened to which had not for their basis the total evacuation of the country by the Britons. An animated speech made by Maurice Fitzgerald determined the English troops : “ If we must fall,” said he, “ let it not be by the hands of a treacherous and revengeful foe, after we shall have put ourselves into their power: let us rather, while they fancy us sunk in despondence, rush on their entrenchments, and die, as we have lived, the terror of our barbarian enemies.” His magnanimous spirit was caught by the assembly. Next day an assault, rendered furious by desperation, was unexpectedly made upon the assailants. It was pointed at the quarter where O'Connor commanded in person. The onset was impetuous, irresistible; the rout instantaneous! O‘Connor was obliged to mingle half naked with his flying troops, who were pursued with terrible slaughter. The other Irish chieftains, witnesses of the disaster of their leader, retired with the utmost precipitation, leaving the British masters of the field, of an immense booty, and of provisions sufficient to support them during a whole year. The Danish fleet also withdrew, leaving the sea as well as the land open to the successful adventurers.
Mean time Fitzstephen was closely besieged by the Wexfordians in the fortress of Carrick, which he himself had built near their city. Though supported by only a very slender garrison, he repeatedly repulsed them with great slaughter. Unable to storm the fortress, the Wexfordians had recourse to the most exécrable, perfidious, and despicable means of success, perhaps ever recorded in the annals of any country. In a parley they assured Fitzstephen that Roderic O'Connor had taken Dublin by storm, and that he had put the whole garrison to the sword: They represented to him that it would be vain to think of resistance when he should approach to' make the same execution at Carrick: They declared themselves to be impressed witla such respect for his virtues, that, if he would but surrender himself to them, they would ship him and his followers for Wales, in order that they might escape the resentment of the vengeful prince. Two bishops, dressed in their pontifical robes, solemnly swore to their truth, laying at the same time their hands on the cross, on the host, and on the adored relics of saints. Fitzstephen fell a victim to their perfidy. He accepted their terms, and was immediately thrown into chains; while many of his companions expired under the horrible and inhuman tortures which the malignant fury of their captors inflicted on them.
Strongbow, who, the day previous to that on which he routed O‘Connor before Dublin, had received from Donald Kevanah, one of the few Irish chieftains who continued firm in his attachment to the English, intelligence of the danger of Carrick, marched immediately to its relief. He narrowly escaped destruction from an ambuscade, in passing through a defile in the territory of Hi-drone, in the modern county of Carlow. At no great distance from Wexford, he received the mortifying information of Fitzstephen's captivity, together with a threat from the captors, who had burned their city and retired to an islet in the harbour, that, if he attempted any thing against them, they would without mercy put their few remaining prisoners to death. Alarmed for their safety, he immediately turned aside from Wexford, and directed his course towards Ferns, the regal seat of the monarchs of Leinster, where, after he had punished several of his enemies, and established some useful regulations, he received a special summons from Henry to appear and answer for his conduct: a summons which he did not think it prudent to disobey ; but, appointing governors in his absence, repaired instantly to England.
Inconsiderable as the restoration of Dermod, a criminal and exiled prince, to his principality, may at first view appear, yet, as the consequences of the invasion occasioned by his application to a few Welch adventurers, were far from being unimportant, we have been particular in tracing the progress of his arms and those of his allies. History, not satisfied with merely relating facts, disdains not to descend to the most minute and remote occurrences, estimating their importance, not by their real magnitude, but by the effects they are likely to have produced on the state of the period to which her attention is more immediately directed, and by the light which they may throw on the subject of her consideration.
We shall now endeavour to pursue the progress of the English arms and policy, during a period more brilliant, indeed, but productive, for a considerable length of Lime, of consequences less obvious, and of advantages less solid, than reasonably might have been expected to follow the successful period we have just had under our observation. Considered as an alien
from the constitution of that country of which it has become a member, depressed by the iron hand of power, through the insolence and rapacity of governors unacquainted with the genius, the manners, and the disposition of its people, unhappy Ireland has been upwards of six centuries the scene of bloodshed and desolation. The contracted views of those placed at the head of its administration, by causing them to be treated in general as objects of suspicion, rather than with the liberality due to a free people living under the protection of a free government, have, instead of bringing the Irish to be peaceable and useful members of that community to which they appertain, rendered them turbulent and involuntary subjects, ready at all times to arm against those whom they esteem their oppressors, and to plunge themselves into all the miseries, the inconceivable horrors, of a civil war.