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The reign of the unfortunate Charles was terminated by the ignominy of his public execution, which melancholy catastrophe might have been prevented had he conducted himself with but tolerable sincerity and moderation towards his subjects both of England and Ireland. Had he possessed sufficient discernment to make a judicious choice of his ministers and favourites, or had he even decidedly opposed the measures of Ormond, and taken shelter amongst his faithful Irish catholic subjects, it is hard to say how far the power of the parliamentarians might have been checked : But the glaring weakness, irresolution, insincerity, and absurdity, apparent throughout the whole of his administration, recal to our recollection the words of a celebrated Latin writer-which, indeed, we could almost be tempted to apply to the present rulers of these islands
" Quos vult perdere Deus dementat.”* So great and general was the indignation of the people of Ireland at the king's murder, that the pope's nuncio immediately left the kingdom, despairing of being any longer able to prevent the union of the catholic confederates with the protestant loyalists under the lord lieutenant, who was at Youghall when he received intelligence of the king's death, where he instantly proclaimed the prince of Wales king, by the title of Charles II.
* Those whom God wills to destroy he first makes mad.
IN the first effervescence of the horror which all conceived of the murder of Charles, the English and Irish vied with each other in their exertions against the parliamentarian rebels, whom they now denominated and treated as regicides. To this union were owing the first successful movements of Ormond's campaign in the reduction of most of the strong holds in the northern parts of the kingdom, except Londonderry. The pride of Ormond stimulated him above all things to regain possession of Dublin, which he had so basely surrendered. But the infamy of giving it up for lucre was aggravated by his disgraceful defeat at Rathmines, about three miles from Dublin, by a very inferior force under Michael Jones, the rebel governor of the city. This shameful disaster, coupled with the ready submission of Inchiquin's men, who instantly enlisted in Jones's army, and several other circumstances attending the conduct of Ormond on this occasion, naturally renewed in the Irish their former suspicions that he had still some secret understanding with the English rebels ; and these suspicions were strengthened by the constant failure of all his subsequent endeavours against them.
The new king had expressly written from the Hague « that " he had received and was extremely well satisfied with the " articles of peace concluded with the Irish confederates, and "would confirm wholly and entirely all that was contained in
" them.” Notwithstanding this, after his majesty had been proclaimed in Scotland, and had been advised by Ormond to accept of the commissioners' invitation to go over to that kingdom, well knowing that his taking the covenant was to be the previous condition to his being admitted to the throne of Scotland, he took shipping and landed there on the twenty-third of June, sixteen hundred and fifty. After having signed both the national and solemn covenant in the short space of two months, the king published a declaration “ that he would have no eneo mies but the enemies of the covenant; that he did detest and 6 abhor popery, superstition, and idolatry, together with prelacy; “ resolving not to tolerate, much less to allow, these, in any part “ of his dominions, and to endeavour the extirpation thereof to of the utmost of his power.” And he expressly pronounced the peace lately made with the Irish, and confirmed by himself, to be null and void ; adding, “ that he was convinced in his con« science of the sinfulness and unlawfulness of it, and of his al“ lowing them (the confederates) the liberty of the popish reli“gion: for which he did in his heart desire to be deeply hum“ bled before the Lord; and for having sought unto such 66 unlawful help for the restoring of him to his throne.” This declaration necessarily produced the effect which Ormond himself declared in a letter to secretary Long, namely, “ to with“ draw this people from their allegiance, by infusing into them
a belief that, by his majesty's having taken or approved of 6« the covenant, they are deprived of the benefit of the peace, 56 and left to the extirpation the covenant proposes, both of their " religion and their persons.”
In the mean time the successes of the parliamentarians continued. When the former successful progress of Ormond first awakened the parliament to a sense of danger, Waller, their general, was displaced to make room for Lambert, who was in turn supplanted by Oliver Cromwell himself. That usurper, aware that the situation was one which would add to his consequence and power, contrived by his intrigues to be chosen lord lieutenant of Ireland, by an unanimous vote of parliament. His intrepidity and vigour quickly dissipated all the difficulties of his undertaking, and he landed in Dublin on the fifteenth of August, with eight thousand foot, four thousand horse, twen
ty thousand pounds in money, and all other necessaries of war. Having entrusted the city to the care of sir Theophilus Jones, he took the field with ten thousand chosen men. Historians in general have represented the submission of the Irish to Cromwell as too hasty and unnecessary. The truth is, that the Irish suffered severely for the personal bravery and intrepidity which they displayed in support of the royal cause. When Cromwell with his well-appointed army appeared before Drogheda, his summons to surrender was rejected. « On the ninth of September he “ began to batter the place,” says Dr. Warner ; “ and continuing “ to do so till the next day in the evening, the assault was made, " and his men twice repulsed with great bravery; but in the " third attack, which Cromwell led in person, colonel Wall be“ing killed at the head of his regiment, his men were so dis“ mayed that they submitted to the enemy offering them quar“ter, sooner than they had need to have done, and thereby betray“ed themselves to the slaughter. The place was immediately “ taken by storm: and though his officers and soldiers had " promised quarter to all that would lay down their arms, yet “ Cromwell ordered that no quarter should be given, and none " was given accordingly. The slaughter continued all that day " and the next, and the governor and four colonels were killed “ in cold blood.” According to Leland, “ this hideous execu" tion was continued for five days, with every circumstance of “ horror. A number of ecclesiastics was found within the walls; " and Cromwell, as if immediately commissioned to execute “ divine vengeance on these ministers of idolatry, ordered his “ soldiers to plunge their weapons into the helpless wretches. " Some few of the garrison contrived to escape in disguise ; " thirty persons only remained unslaughtered by an enemy “glutted and oppressed by carnage ; and these were instantly " transported as slaves to Barbadoes.”
Cromwell, with his usual vigour, followed up the advantage which his butcheries had obtained for him in the consternation of the Irish, and marched with nine thousand men through the county of Wiclow, while his feet attended the motions of his army. As he advanced, the forts and towns of inferior note surrendered; but at Wexford he found the garrison sufficiently strengthened to resist his progress. This place, however, fell by treachery into his possession, being betrayed into his hands by colonel Strafford, whom Ormond had made governor of the castle ; and on this occasion Cromwell is described by Ormond, in a letter to the king, 5 to have exceeded himself, and any “ thing he had ever heard of, in breach of faith and bloody in“ humanity; and that the cruelties exercised there for five days “ would make as many several pictures of inhumanity as are to “ be found in the Book of Martyrs, or in the Relation of Am“ boyna.”
Cromwell, after the reduction of Wexford, marched against Ross, which surrendered upon articles. The fort of Duncannon made a more honourable resistance; and so considerably had the victorious army been reduced by the severity of the season, that a reinforcement of fifteen hundred men was sent from Dublin, and had been some time expected by Cromwell. Lord Inchiquin was informed of the march of these forces, and, with the consent of Ormond, resolved to intercept them. In this attempt he was foiled and defeated; yet Wogan, the officer who commanded in Duncannon, continued to make a brave defence. By the assistance and encouragement of lord Castlehaven, he made a sally with such vigour and success, that the siege was raised, not without some confusionon the part of the besiegers. On retiring to their main body, they found their general transporting his troops to the county of Kilkenny, by a bridge of boats constructed on the Barrow. Ormond, who had concluded a negociation with Owen O'Neal, and had already received part of his forces, made some preparations for disputing the passage of the river; but Cromwell, superior in vigilance and expedition as well as numbers, had already transported his army, and obliged the marquis gradually to retire to Kilkenny. Here he found the rest of the northern Irish forces ready to receive his commands. The presence of their favourite general, however, was wanting, for O-Neal now laboured under a malady that soon put a period to his existence. So powerful a reinforcement appeared to encourage Ormond to the design of meeting the enemy in the field.
Defection and dissentions, however, still continued to effect more for the parliamentarians than even the valour of their armies, the skill of their general, or even the terror which re