Page images

Tudor princes, in their government of Ireland, seem to have acted on an opposite principle. Their efforts were directed not merely to keeping the English and the Irish apart, but if possible to counteract all those natural tendencies to unity between the two races, which, spite of all policy and all legislation, were continually struggling to assert themselves. Naturam expellas furca tamen usque recurrit. The English settler rapidly adopted Irish habits. The English farmer, moved by his interest and the difficulty of providing English servants, was happily tempted to employ Irish labourers." English gentlemen were continually forming friendships and intermarriages with Irish chiefs and their families.f English deputies, aware of the

* “The poor English earth-tillers in the English Pale, who cannot skill “upon penury nor wretchedness, as the Irish tenants do sustain and bear, “but must keep honest residence, the lords and inheritors taketh such a “greedy lust of profit, that they bring into the heart of the English Pale “Irish tenants, which neither can speak the English tongue, ne wear “ cap or bonnet; and expulseth oft the ancient good English tenants. . . In effect by that means the poor English tenants are driven “hither into England and Wales, and the Irish tenants in their rooms “ and farms.” (R. Cowley to Cromwell, in 1537. State Papers, II. 449.)

f Spenser, a better poet than historian, forgetting the example of his own country, marvels that English settlers in Ireland should take more delight to speak the Irish language than their own ; “whereas they should, “ methinks, rather take scorn to acquaint their tongues thereto. For it “ hath ever been the use of the conqueror to despise the language of the “conquered, and to force him by all means to learn his.” Then, in searching “the original cause of this evil,” he remarks: “I suppose that the “ chief cause of bringing in the Irish language amongst them, was “specially their fostering and marrying with the Irish, the which are two most dangerous infections. . . . . So that the speech being Irish “ the heart must needs be Irish, for out of the abundance of the heart the “ tongue speaketh. . . . . Therefore are these evil customs of fos“tering and marrying with the Irish most carefully to be restrained ; for “ of the two, the third evil, that is the custom of language, chiefly pro“ ceedeth.” (State of Ireland, p. 524, Moxon.)

[ocr errors]

misery of the times, alive to the impolicy and weary of the endless labour of rousing Irish blood into rebellion by undue strictness and severity, were continually relapsing into milder habits and more congenial treatment of the native Irish. But the energies of the English government—(I repeat that I am speaking only of the Tudor times)—were strenuously exerted to oppose this wise and beneficent provision of nature, and arrest by every device in its power this heady current. And though its devices were as often swept away, and the current rolled on with greater force than before, again and again it reverted to its old schemes. By straiter and more stringent enactments it attempted to control the course of nature, and set up the narrow maxims of human policy in its stead. This volume and other volumes of similar papers are full of the complaints of short-sighted and unwise men against what they denounced as English degeneracy, against what they considered was treason to English maxims and traditions of government. Statesmen, churchmen, the theorist, the utilitarian, are loud and unanimous in their outcry, whenever some Deputy less rigid than his fellows, or grown wiser by experience, thought that Ireland could be ruled better by kindness and conciliation than by penalties and proscription. Again and again, as will be seen by these papers, repeated suggestions are made by persons high in office in Ireland to the authorities in England to adopt more stern and uncompromising measures, not only against the native Irish, but against all those who held communication with them. And the English government, nothing loth to follow these suggestions, passed acts, from time to time, disabling Irish chiefs, forbidding Irish labour, denouncing the least approach to Irish manners and customs, and levelling the whole force of indignation and disgrace against the very name of Irish. The protection of English law reached not beyond the narrow limits of the English Pale. Its privileges, sparingly granted by the Crown to a favoured few, only brought into stronger relief the precarious tenure of life and property among the native Irish. They were held and treated as enemies to all intents and purposes; to be slain and plundered without restraint and without pity.

The effect of this policy on the Deputies and the Irish Council I need not attempt to describe. But on the lower orders of English retainers the consequence was perilous. They learned to regard the Irish as fit subjects for plunder, to commit all sorts of atrocities under the degraded name of patriotism, to fill the whole country with discontent, immorality, and disorder, that no government, however wise, considerate, or judicious, could hope to overcome. Whilst on the part of the native Irish the feeling that they were beyond the pale and protection of English law tended to increase their lawlessness and violence. IIunted down like wild beasts, they turned like wild beasts upon their pursuers. As the Englishman learned to associate with the name of Irish all that was vile, savage, and degrading, the Irishman was naturally taught to connect all forms of oppression, cruelty, and wrong with the name of Englishman; to hate what his conqueror loved, and to love what he hated.*

* Thus speaking of the kerns and galloglasses, i.e., the ordinary soldiers trained for the Irish wars, Spenser says: “These be the most “barbarous and loathly conditions of any people, I think, under heaven ; “for from the time they enter into that course they do use all the boastly “behaviour that may be. They oppress all men ; they spoil as well the Whilst the minds of the two races were thus kept in a state of alienation from each other, a new occasion arose, more bitter, more irritating, more pertinacious in its effects, than any I have named, to separate them still further. Much has been said of the devotion of Irishmen to their national Church. How far this boast might be justified in other periods of their history I cannot undertake to say; but if we may judge by the condition of their cathedrals, by their monasteries and their churches, the education and discipline of their priesthood, or the state of the flocks committed to their charge, this boast, however honourable, however true, had little reality at the accession of Henry VIII. Years before the Reformation was introduced, and when the Catholic faith was untainted by Protestantism in Ireland, we have repeated proofs throughout this and other volumes of the deplorable state of religion in that country. Here is the

“subject as the enemy; they steal ; they are cruel and bloody, full of “revenge, and delighting in deadly execution ; licentious, swearers and “blasphemers; common ravishers of women and murtherers of children.” (State of Ireland, p. 525.) A special instance of their exactions, not the only one or the least oppressive, will be found in a letter from Chief Justice Luttrell to Sentleger: “The soldiers, where they have displeasure, some of them taketh “ such oats as they have for their horses all of one man continually, “so that they leave not oats within to sow his land, ne to make malt for his sustenance the year following, whereby the poor man is con“ strained to leave his land sown, and to buy his malt for his provision “ after a dear price. Therefore it were necessary the soldiers do take their oats of every man indifferently in a town or parish, by the appoint“ ment of the constable.” (State Papers, II. 507.) Lord Chancellor Cusack reports, in the reign of Edward VI., that in Lex and Offally (King and Queen's Counties), where was a garrison of 700

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

soldiers, they insisted on having “the peck of wheat for 5s, which is sold in “ the market for 20s. ; they also give them the beef for 12s., which is sold “ in the market for 41.” (Carew, p. 241.)

evidence of a writer in 1515, a good Catholic, and an Irishman:—*

“Some sayeth that the prelates of the Church and clergy is much cause of all the misorder of the land ; for there is no archbishop ne bishop, abbot ne prior, parson ne vicar, ne any other person of the Church, high or low, great or small, English or Irish, that useth to preach the Word of God, saving the poor friars beggars; and where the Word of God do cease, there can be no grace; and without the special [grace] of God this land may never be reformed. And by preaching and teaching of prelates of the Church, and by prayer and orison of the devout persons of the same, God useth alway to grant his abundant grace; ergo, the Church, not using the premises, is much cause of all the said misorder of this land.”

And here again, from the same author, as showing at that time in what respect the Church was held by the great Irish nobles:—

“The noble folk of Ireland oppresseth, spoileth the prelates of the Church of Christ of their possessions and liberties; and therefore they have no fortune ne grace, in prosperity of body ne soul. Who supporteth the Church of Christ in Ireland save the poor commons?”

# # # + +

“The premises considered, the Pander showeth in the first chapter of his book, called Salus Populi, that the holy woman, Brigitta, used to inquire of her good angel many questions of secret divine, and among all other she inquired “Of what Christian land was most souls damned ' ' The angel showed her a land in the west part of the world. She inquired the cause why. The angel said, ‘For there the Christian folk dieth most out of charity.’ She inquired the cause why. The angel said, ‘For there is most continual war, root of hate and envy, and of vices contrary to charity; and without charity the souls cannot be saved.’ And the angel did show till her the lapse of the souls of Christian folk of that land, how they fell down into hell, as thick as any hail showers, And pity thereof moved the Pandar to conceivef his said

* State Papers of Henry VIII., Vol. II. p. 15.
f “Consayn "in S.P., for “consayv.”

« PreviousContinue »