Page images


themselves only the Lords of Ireland. The despotic Henry VIII. Was the first who assumed the regal title.

Well satisfied with his expedition, after establishing his power and influence over a great part of the country, Henry left Ireland after a residence of only five months. Such was the first settlement of the English in Ireland, which they sometimes called a conquest, an acquisition, or an alliance, as their power or their weakness happened to preponderate.

Henry's immediate successors did not pursue the design of conquering Ireland. • Satisfied with having their power introduced into the island, and recognised in certain districts and portions of it, they made no attempt to extend it farther. The colony was left to thrive by its own resources, and the occasional accession of new settlers. The colony did not, for a long time, much extend beyond its original limits; rather the reverse. The land occupied by the English colony (or The English Pole, as it was then called) reached only a few miles around Dublin, in the time of Edward III. that is, 150 years after the first settling of the colony.

This narrowing of the English Pale arose from two causes: First, from the hostilities committed by the settlers against the districts by which they were surrounded, and from which arose a general alarm, and a powerful confederacy against them. Secondly, the successors to the first English settlers

Honour-Flatter a man's vanity, put a riband on his shoulder, a gilt star on his þreast, and call him Sir or my Lord, and what may you not make of the great baby?

“ Behold the child ! -
“ Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw;
“ Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
"A little louder, but as empty quite:
“ Stuck o'er with titles, and hung round with strings,
“Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper years;
“And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age !"-POPE.

“Men are but children of a larger growth."-Dryden.

who became possessed of lands in the interior of the country, had gradually renounced their dependence on the primary settlement; and, in process of time, had adopted the laws, the dress, and even the language of the natives.

These English families, now transformed into Irish inha. bitants, were moreover particularly inclined to oppose the extension of the Pale and English law. They held their lands under the Brehon or Irish law, which totally differed from the English law. And in order to secure themselves still farther, and more completely to disclaim any connection with the English, they even assumed Irish surnames, such as Mac-Yorice, Mac-Morice, Mac-Gibbon, &c.

Owing to these circumstances, a new class of inhabitants arose in Ireland, distinct from both the English and Irish. It was formed of those English families who had, from time to time, renounced subjection to the English government. The English called them The Degenerate English; they formed numerous tribes and clans, and were formidable enemies of the English colony.

At length, in the 36th year of Edward III. A. D. , 1361, a new expedition was projected to Ireland. Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the King's second son, was the leader of the enterprise. He had married the only daughter of Bourke, the Red Earl, and claimed all his lands in Ireland as her dower; But an Irish clan of the name of Mac-Williams had taken possession of the lands. The Duke's expedition, therefore, was both to recover his lands, and punish the degenerate English; but as he brought with him only a small force, and received no support in the country, he was obliged to relinquish his enterprise.—But before he left Ireland, he held a parliament in Kilkenny, in the character of Lord Deputy, and got a law passed, known by the name of the Statute of Kilkenny.

This statute shows, that oppressive laws are an old evil in Ireland.-It recites, “ That the English of the realm of Ireland were become mere Irish in their language, naines, dress,

&c. had rejected the English laws, and submitted to those of the Irish, with whom they had united in marriage, to the ruin of the English interest. It is therefore enacted, that marrying and gossipping among the Irish, shall be punished as high treason; to use an Irish name, to speak the Irish language, to ride without a saddle, or entertain any Irish bard or minstrel, rhymer, or newsteller, &c. his lands shall be forfeited.”

An expedition to Ireland was undertaken by Richard II. who landed in Ireland with a considerable army. As Richard was desirous of exhibiting his greatness to the Irish chiefs, so they were willing to show their consequence; they flocked to Richard's court from all quarters; no less than seventy-five independent chiefs were entertained, and four of the principal, O'Nial, O'Connor, O'Brien, and Mac-Murchad, had the honour to sit at the king's own table, clothed in robes of state; some of them were even knighted !-Yet, after all this parade, Richard was obliged to leave the country, without enlarging the Pale.

After this, no expedition was attempted against Ireland for more than a century, during which there was almost a continual warfare between the English Pale and the natives. The colony, however, still continued to exist; it defended itself by making alliances sometimes with one chief, and sometimes with another; occasionally acting with vigour, and then forgetting the statute of Kilkenny, as circumstances made it necessary.

The inhabitants of Ireland may now be classed as follows: 1. The native Irish. 2. The degenerate English. 3. The English subjects of blood, possessing property, and sometimes attending their parliament. 4. The English subjects of birth, who composed the government of the colony, and were assisted by England.

Such was the situation of affairs in Ireland at the accession of Henry VIII. A. D. 1509, and at this time the Pale contained only four counties. Henry did indeed assume the title of King of Ireland, and had caused certain districts without the Pale to be divided into counties, but it was only a nominal division. The black rent continued to be exacted from the inhabitants of the borders of the Pale by the surrounding chiefs, who still considered themselves as independent, and, as such, entered into treaties of peace with the English king, or his lieutenant.

Such was the state of Ireland during the reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. Queen Mary, and part of Queen Elizabeth's reign-on one side, continual coercion; on the other, a constant repulsion.

At length religious zeal stepped in to augment national prejudice.-The measures pursued in the reign of Edward VI. in order to force the protestant religion upon the Irish, had the natural effect of attaching them more firmly to their own religious system; and a general spirit of hatred to the English government manifested itself at the commencement of Elizabeth's reign.

This disposition was favourable to Philip II. of Spain, for promoting his hostile designs against England; partial invasions of Ireland from Spain had been attempted several years before the sending out of the famous Armada; and Philip said he had two claims upon Ireland, one on account of the catholic religion, the other because the Milesians came originally from Spain !

Spain was then the most powerful, the most ambitious, and the most bigoted nation in Europe; and, by her geographical situation, is well situated for a convenient sea intercourse with Ireland. An army of several thousands of Spaniards were sent to that country, accompanied by a Nuncio from his Holiness the Pope, who took possession of Kinsale. Thus England found herself in danger of being hedged in by the formidable power of Spain, both on the east and the west; on one side by the Netherlands, on the other by Ireland.

These considerations determined the English to make extraordinary efforts to obtain the entire possession of Ireland.

Accordingly a large army was sent under the command of Lord Essex, the Queen's favourite, which, assisted by the advantages already possessed by the English government, by the dissension of the Irish Chiefs, and by the memorable defeat of the invincible Armada, effected a complete reduction of the country after a war that lasted about seven years.*


* The English having at length overcome Ireland, the then condition of that unhappy country is thus described in the following beautifully pathetic effusion of an Irish bard.

“O the miserable condition of my dear countrymen !-How languid their joys, how pressing their sorrows!—The wreck of a ruined nation ; the wretched crew of a vessel long tossed about by tempestuous waves, and finally cast away! We are become the prisoners of the Saxon nation, the captives of a remorseless tyranny !-Our sentence is pronounced, our destruction is inevitable !-O frightful, excruciating thought !-Liberty exchanged for servitude, beauty for deformity, independence for slavery !-A brave people become a desponding race !-How came this vile transformation ! We are not the same people!-Need I appeal to your own senses—but what sensations have ye left?-Over our whole island, every kind of illegal and extrajudicial proceeding hath assumed the strong form of law, and our only security depends upon a submission to lawless law !-Mark the change which these bold intruders have wrought on the face of our country--they have hemmed in our green lawns, the former scenes of our virtue and glory—they have disfigured with towers and ramparts, those fair fields which Nature intended for the support of her creatures--that Nature which we see defrauded, and whose laws are so wantonly counteracted, that this lately free Ireland is metamorphosed into another Saxony! The slaves of Ireland no longer recognise their common mother; she disowns us for her children; we have lost our ancient forms; and we now see only insulting Saxon conquerors, and submissive Irish slaves !-Helpless land !-thou art a shattered bark, over which the tempestuous sea hath burst its way, and we can scarcely perceive a part of the wreck in the rude hands of the plunderer!-Yes, the plunderer hath refitted you for his own uses, and we are new-moulded for his own purposes !-Ye Israelites of Egypt, ye wretched inhabitants of oppressed Erin, is there no relief for you ?- Is there no Hector left for the defence, no Hero for the recovery of Troy ?-Send us, o God! a second Moses to redeem thy people from the hands of these cruel Saxons !"(a)

(a) The Irish and Welsh bards called the English, the Saxon nation. Edward I. (he who treacherously murdered Sir William Wallace) to make short work of the business, collected a number of the latter, and then had VOL. I.


« PreviousContinue »