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semble their followers, the community invariably suffered. The most insignificant occurrence was sufficient pretext for the chieftains to enter the Pale : The colonists never were at a loss for pretences to make an attack upon them. The submissions of the Irish were frequent, sometimes abject; but always precarious, and never lasted longer than the English forces maintained a decided superiority. "These evils were increased by the depredations of lawless bands of Scots who landed frequently on the coast, wasting and destroying the country wheresoever their arms enabled them to penetrate. During the reign of Robert Bruce, an army was sent over under the command of his brother, to attempt to wrest the island from the hands of the English. Bruce landed in Ulster, and having ravaged the whole of that province, proceeded southward as far as Dublin, marking his progress, like a devouring plague, by every calamity which fire and sword could inflict.
Such, in short, was the multitude of afflictions to which this ill-fated country was doomed, during the reigns of sixteen English princes, that its inhabitants were reduced not unfrequently to feed upon grass, leaves, and even, hideous nourishment! the flesh of their fellow-creatures. On turning aside from scenes so shocking to humanity, gladly would we present prospects of a more pleasing nature. The sixteenth century, celebrated for the intellectual light which then burst forth in all its · splendour upon Europe, we should have expected to display a striking contrast to the dismal period we have past : But, alas! the miseries of unhappy Ireland were not yet arrived to a termination. To the hatred occasioned by the unseasonable aggressions of the English has been added fuel by the rancour of religious persecution: and if the Irish, when only temporal concerns were in question, were actuated by such inveterate enmity towards the English, to what a pitch must their hatred have been increased, when religion and bigotry gave fresh poignancy to their feelings!
At the accession of Henry VIII. to the throne, the colony had arrived to a degree of prosperity comparatively great to what it had formerly experienced. Under the administration of several successive governors, however, it relapsed with rapidity into its former state of anarchy and weakness. The earl of Kildare was appointed lord deputy, and confirmed in his authority beyond the reach of opposition. He abused the power with which he was entrusted ; and putting himself at the head of a rapacious rabble, employed them to the annoyance of those whom he was appointed to protect. He formed intimate connections with the most powerful of the Irish chieftains : He kept the colonists at a distance from his person ; and appears to have considered the high authority with which he was entrusted merely as a fit instrument for the purpose of establishing his own personal influence. He continued much longer in office than any of his predecessors; but, disdaining to bend his haughty spirit to suit the views of cardinal Wolsey, the king's minister and favourite, he was by the influence of that prelate and the intrigues of the Butlers, the noble family of Ormond, together with the complaints of the real friends to government in the colony, ordered to vest the administration in the hands of some person for whom he should be responsible, and to repair instantly to England. Kildare unfortunately entrusted this important charge to his son, lord Thomas Fitzgerald, a gallant and accomplished youth, affable, generous, well qualified to gain the affections of the people, but impressed with notions rather exalted of the consequence and grandeur of his family. Immediately after his father's landing in England, he was arrested and committed to the Tower; and false reports were spread abroad that he had there been beheaded. The impetuous lord Thomas, struck with filial grief by this supposed outrage, and inflamed by rage and indignation, instantly threw up his commission of deputy, and boldly renouncing his allegiance, declared war against his sovereign in open rebellion. Several other chieftains espoused his cause, and their united forces put themselves in so formidable a situation that alarming apprehensions were entertained by the government party. The temerity and inexperience of lord Thomas, however, rendered fruitless all their efforts. Sir William Skeffington, who was appointed lord lieutenant and sent over with a considerable reinforcement, succeeded in completely quelling the insurrection. The confederates of lord Thomas made their submissions and were restored to their possessions : he himself was promised a full pardon if he would give himself up. His confidence proved
his destruction. Placing implicit reliance on the faith of Henry, he went over to England, but was treacherously seized and sent to the Tower. Lord Grey, successor to Skeffington, was ordered to seize the five uncles of lord Thomas, and cause them to be conveyed prisoners to London. He invited them for this purpose to a banquet, and after sumptuously entertaining them, perfidiously arrested their persons. Though three of these had decidedly opposed the rebellion, and all of them were entitled to pardon by the treaty concluded with the rebels, Henry ordered the whole to be executed as traitors with their nephew, and vowed destruction to the whole race of Kildare. Gerald, however, brother to lord Thomas, a boy only twelve years old, was by the vigilance of his guardians secretly conveyed out of the kingdom to cardinal Pole in Italy, the determined enemy of Henry; and under his protection he lived to regain the honours and estates of his illustrious family. Kildare himself died of grief for his son's rebellion and the fatal consequences by which it was followed. . Considering the suppression of this revolt as a new conquest of the island, Henry was about to have proceeded to lengths which might have produced the most fatal consequences, proposing it as a question whether he had not a right to seize the whole property, spiritual and temporal, of the country, notwithstanding many, both within and without the Pale, had contributed vigorously to the reduction of lord Thomas. This impolitic conduct, together with his unjust and cruel treatment of the Kildare family one of the most powerful and popular in Ireland, brought on him the detestation of the whole people, and was particularly incautious at a period when he was preparing to affect important changes in the system of religion, changes which require all the energies of a sovereign well be. loved by his people to accomplish.
The vigorous administration of Grey, who laboured to forward the designs of Henry, for bringing about a partial refor. mation of the church, and having himself acknowledged its supreme head on earth, and whose zeal for his service carried him not unfrequently beyond the bounds of justice and honour, met with the reward which might be expected from a king who resembled in tyranny too many of those who have been distin
guished by the same title. By the intrigues of the Butlers and the enmity of church zealots, he was imprisoned on a variety of frivolous and groundless charges. Conscious of the tyranny of Henry, whose unjust measures he himself had assisted to put in execution against others, his courage, for which he was eminent in the field, forsook him at a juncture that required him to summon it all forth to his support. Relying on his many and eminent services to secure the good dispositions of his sovereign, he declined a trial, pleaded guilty, and threw himself on the clemency of the king, who, with no less ingratitude than cruelty and injustice, ordered him to be beheaded.
The government, meantime, reaped the benefits of his exertions. The chieftains came so eagerly forward that Sir Anthony St. Leger, the lord deputy, was busied receiving their professions of submission. The earl of Desmond, who had hitherto held high privileges, voluntarily renounced them, threw off the supremacy of the pope, and gave up his son to receive an English education : Several septs petitioned to be admitted to a participation of the privileges of English subjects, and to be placed under the jurisdiction of English law: The O‘Byrnes, in particular, requested that their territory should be formed into an English county. These favourable dispositions of the Irish were much increased by the assumption of the title of king by Henry instead of that of lord of Ireland which had been originally bestowed by the pope, the splendour and novelty of the appellations conveying to them notions of respect with which they had never formerly been impressed. But this noble opportunity of uniting the Irish into one powerful people under English administration was unfortunately lost by the thoughtless inattention of the king towards their country, who lavished the blood and wasted the treasure of the empire in vain-glorious wars on the Continent, and neglected, like most of his predecessors, the solid interests of his crown at home. Indeed it has been the fatal and misguided policy of Great Britain, for a considerable period before, and ever since, the accession of this monarch, to be eternally involved in the prosecution of delusive schemes of aggrandizement, forming, for the furtherance of her plans, continental alliances, and embroiling herself in continental wars, which must ultimately prove her destruction, rather than
to be engaged in cultivating the blessings of peace, and in attempting to ameliorate the wretched condition of by far the greater part of her people.
A powerful party of the servants of the Crown, all of them determined enemies of Kildare, at the head of which was Allan archbishop of Dublin, had been in the mean time formed. They obtained with much difficulty a resolution of the lords in council to send the master of the rolls to the king, for the purpose of laying before him the state of the country, and to crave his royal interference in its behalf. The master of the rolls represented to the king in their name the distressed state of the country.; the nearly total disuse of the English laws, manners, and language, which were confined within the trifling compass of twenty miles; the exorbitant exactions by which most of the tenantry were compelled to relinquish their lands; and the heavy tribute which the few remaining were obliged to pay in order to procure the precarious protection of Irish chieftains; the enormous power of the English barons, who, by keeping a great number of Irish in their pay, could with impunity oppress his highness's liege subjects; and above all, the scantiness of the royal revenue, which left the realm without the means of defence; they entreated, for the amendment of these abuses, that he would be pleased to appoint in future such governors as had no interest in Ireland, who, unbiassed by Irish influence or Irish faction and party-spirit, might impartially administer to the glory and honour of his crown; and concluded with strenuous professions of loyalty and attachment to his government.
Henry, though the slave of caprice and passion, did not want for penetration, and was sensible that more might be done towards accomplishing his designs in Ireland by conciliating than by violent measures. He therefore gave a gracious answer to the petition from the colony. Ile encouraged the chieftains by every means to submit to his dominion. He gratified their fancied importance and their family pride, by conferring on them pompous titles and honours. He prevailed on numbers to resort to his court; and bestowed on others sumptuous houses and lands in the neighbourhood of Dublin, for their convenient attendance on the chief governor. Many of them, flattered by these marks of