Page images

gents were chiefly . protestants, who could not be C H A P. suspected of disaffection to the crown. In the "t^vT: ing and repairing of roads each house-keeper was obliged to furnish the labour at least of a man, and also of a horse, if he possessed the latter, six days in the year. Complaining that, by unfair management, the burthen of this business was thrown exclusively on the poor, and that many of the roads Were calculated for private, not public convenience, the peasants were in general ready to refuse compliance in this case, as soon as any number among them should commence an opposition. At length the inhabitants of a parish in the country of Armagh rose in a tumult, and their example was soon followed through that whole county, and those of Tyrone, Derry, and Fermanagh. Styling themselves Hearts of Oak,, and wearing oaken boughs in their hats, they assembled only in the day, and marched openly in large bodies, forcing all whom they met to take an oath that " they would be true to the king and the Hearts of Oak," but committing no murders nor plunder, and very little personal violence. They confined not their views, however, to the redress of their original grievance, but administered oaths to the clergy that they would never demand more than a certain proportion of tythe, ancP were proceeding to dictate in like manner limitations to rents, particularly those of turf bogs, when they were prevented from these, and other intended regulations, by the arrival of several bodies of royal forces to reduce them to order. They had been

a 2 early

Chap, early checked in the county of Derry by captain


>—y-—' Rankin., a veteran officer and magistrate, who took post with a small body of troops at Castlcdawson, and, by extraordinary courage and conduct, stopped the insurgents in that quarter without the effusion of blood. In a few weeks the insurrection totally subsided with the loss of only three or four lives, and without any destruction of property; and, in the following session of parliament, the original cause was removed by the repeal of the old a6t concerning roads, and the enaction of a new, which provided an equal cess on land, instead of personal labour, for the necessary purpose, ,..,.'.

pariiamen. By the death of George the second in 1760, the .aions. parliament had been dissolved, and a new one sum* 'moned in 1761, under the. auspices of George the third, by the earl of Halifax, successor in the lord lieutenancy to the duke of Bedford. To give some assistance from their small ability in the war, in which Spain had combined her forces with those of France against Great-Britain, the commons, in the beginning of 1762, gave a vote of credit for five hundred thousand pounds at an interest of five per cent, and granted a supply for an addition to the troops. They also voted an address requesting his Majesty to augment the salary of the lord lieutenant to sixteen thousand pounds a year. The war against France and Spain terminated at the end of 1762, yet, from the system adopted of securing a majority in parliament by places and pensions, the expences of Irish government; increased, so that the pensions in a few

years years amounted to eighty thousand pounds annually, Chap.

*L . . XXXVII.

Such an expenditure for an ascendancy, which was ^-v—/ pot exerted for national benefit, was to the patriots a ground of declamation, and a handle for their endeavours to effectuate a change in the political con^ stitution. The most'active agent in this transaction was Do6ior Lucas, who, by the interest of his friends, had returned from exile, and been elected a representative of the capital in the new parliament. An obstacle to the attempts of the patriots was removed by the death of primate Stone in 1764, who maintained to the last a superiority of English interest in the parliament of Ireland, at the expence, and to the prejudice, of the kingdom.

Irish parliaments, originally annual, or of no0aenniti longer than a year's existence, had become of suchbllli768. duration as to terminate 'only with the monarch's life, unless dissolved by royal prerogative. To place the parliament of Ireland on the same situation with that of Britain, which from triennial had, since an a6t passed in 1716, been of septennial continuance', was a primary object with the patriots. Immediately on the meeting of the legislative assembly, in October of 1761, heads of a bill for this purpose had been prepared by Lucas and others, the transmission of which to his Majesty, in such manner as might promise success, was, after a seeming approbation of the commons, rejected by a majority of a hundred and eight against forty-three. The public disconr tents, without the indecency of tumults, were loudly f xpressed^ particularly in resolutions published Uy

R 3 foe


the citizens of Dublin; and the patriots, notwith? 'standing the great majorities against them in every question of importance, persisted, with a pertinacity annoying to the courtiers, to introduce motions for bills and addresses, which, though otherwise unsuccessful for the present, served to keep alive the po-» pular attention. To Halifax in 1763 succeeded the earl of Northumberland; to him the earl of Hertr ford in 1765, after the nominal yiceroyalty of lord, Weymouth, who visited not the kingdom; and ta Hertford in 1767, lord viscount Townshend, in whose administration commenced a new system of government, popular at first by the enaction of the favourite law. Heads of a bill for the limi-> tation of parliaments to seven years were, in 1768, certified by the chief governor and privy-council, on the supposition that it would be suppressed in England. It was returned by the British privy-r council with an alteration made in it of eight, in-* stead of seven years, on supposition that, on account of (his alteration, it would be rejected by the Irish commons: but the objection was overlooked in this instance; the tide of popularity carried the bUl through both houses; the viceroy's coach was drawn by the populace from the castle to the parliament house, when he went to pronounce the royal assent; and great joy was expressed in all parts of the kingdom. New system Super-eminently endowed with convivial talents, uatioTM"5* which are highly appreciated by the Irish, and possessed besides of much vigour and activity of mind,

lord lord Townshend had been chosen, as the introducer Chap.

xxxvu of a new system of administration. Instead of mak- v . j

ing a visit to Ireland once in two years, and leaving
the government for the rest of the time in the hands
of lords justices, to the viceroy was now prescribed
perpetual residence, with exertions to break the
force of the Irish aristrocracy. Previously to this
epoch a majority in parliament could at any time be
commanded by a coalition of three or four gran-
dees, who, in return for theit services, were allowed
to dispose of the favours, and consequently to possess
the influence of government. To be the immediate
dispenser of places, pensions, and preferments, and
thus to deprive the grandees of their power, was
Jhe great object of the phief-governor. The success
was considerable, but far from complete, and at-
tended with ruinous cxpence j since to draw the
subalterns to the prime fountain of court favour a
much more-copious flow of munificence through a
multitude of channels was necessary, The loss of
influence was resented by the immediate sufferers,
who artfully taught the people to regard it as a na-
tional grievance. More general became daily the
discussion of political questions, agitated warmly in
the newspapers, among which was the Freeman's
Journal-, instituted a few years before, and directed
by Doctor Lucas; the Hibernian Journal of some*
what later commencement; and the Dublin Mer-
cury patronized by government. Unfortunately por
jjitical argumentation was accompanied with licenti
© usness, which rose to an intolerable pitch, and ren-

B i dered

« PreviousContinue »