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I PROPOSE in this Volume to redeem the promise I made in my last of entering into a more specific examination of the Carew Papers relating to the early periods of the Tudor dynasty.
I was prevented by the limits of the space prescribed to me from placing this subject before my readers in as full detail as I could have wished. Some account of Sir George Carew, to whom we are indebted for the preservation of these valuable documents, so important for the elucidation of Irish history, appeared to challenge priority to all other considerations.
Hitherto the life of Sir George has been involved in great obscurity; and in consequence of three George Careys or Carews, the name is spelt indifferently,–living at the same date, the accounts of all three have been frequently confused in biographical dictionaries. It was necessary, therefore, to examine carefully Carew's own manuscripts, and gather from them whatever materials could be found for elucidating his career. I may add, that the important part played by Sir George Carew, both as President of Munster, and as the main and most confidential adviser in all matters connected with Ireland, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., seemed to justify this course. In fact, it is impossible to understand either the policy of this country in reference to Ireland
during that period, or many of the allusions in Sir George Carew's own papers, without a more detailed account of his life than has hitherto been submitted to general readers. But the task of examining these documents in detail, and showing their relation to the history of Ireland, is not an easy one. They contain no connected view of the times. They are at best only occasional papers filling up blanks in our information, and subsidiary to the great body of authentic materials, which, through the munificence of the Treasury and the sound judgment and discretion of the Master of the Rolls, have now of late been made accessible to the historians of Ireland. Pre-eminent above these in bulk, authenticity, and completeness are the Irish State Papers preserved at the National Record Office in England, of which a Calendar is now in the course of preparation by Mr. H. C. Hamilton under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. The Irish Calendar of the Patent Rolls, by Mr. Morrin, published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls in Ireland, contains, so far as it goes, a full and connected view of the proceedings of the Council in Ireland, and its correspondence with the English Government, and though inferior in extent and variety to the Irish papers in the English Record Office, is a most important contribution to the historical memorials of that country. The selection from the Ormond Papers, now in progress at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, though it takes up the subject at a later date, can scarcely be regarded with less favour and less interest than the works already mentioned. To these I may be permitted to add, without vanity, this Calendar of the Carew Papers. Their importance has been already tacitly acknowledged by the copious use made of them by the editors of the State Papers of Henry VIII. When to these are added the Sydney and Ormond Papers by Collins and Carte, and those of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, the Governor of Ulster, not now to mention others which I need not particularize, it will be admitted that a body of authentic materials for illustrating the history of Ireland has been placed within the reach of all readers, scarcely second in variety and importance to our own. But with this great accession of materials, the task of forming a true and correct judgment on the policy pursued by this country towards Ireland, on the motives and conduct of its rulers, whether Englishmen or Irishmen, on the true character and progress of events, is scarcely less difficult than before. The same perplexity which Englishmen now feel, in real life, of arriving at a clear understanding of the condition of Ireland, is experienced in every chapter of its history. The accounts given by opposite parties, and often by the same parties at different intervals, are so conflicting, so irreconcilable, that the bewildered reader is at a loss to determine what conclusions he ought to adopt. And this remark applies not to the accounts simply of Roman Catholic writers as compared with those of Protestants, or to those of Irishmen as compared with those of Englishmen, but of Protestants with Protestants, and Englishmen with Englishmen. The same small body of men, possessing equal opportunities of judging, bound together by community of religion, of blood, and interest, disser widely from each other in the judgments they express, as to the conduct of their contemporaries, or the condition of Ireland, which they undertake to describe, at one and the same moment. How much of these discrepancies is to be attributed to carelessness, how much to error, how much to party and political prejudices, the historian finds it not easy to determine. In English history, notwithstanding the conflicting statements of opposite races and contending factions, there is at the bottom a broad basis of unity. By making sufficient allowance for the prejudice and exaggeration of party or personal attachment, the careful and candid observer may arrive at something like a fair and consistent account. But the history of Ireland, reflecting the history of its people, seems to run on in two opposite and incommunicable channels. There is no middle term in which the extremes agree; no fusion of race; no community of faith or interest—(of course I am speaking of the Tudor times);-no national unity, which throws the faintest reflection of itself on the surface of Irish history. These national contrarieties, which we might be inclined to regard as an inevitable misfortune, to be borne with patience because they could not be remedied, or endured with resignation as a necessary evil arising from causes removed from our control, were not regarded in that light by Henry VIII., or his immediate successors. In the Norman conquest of England, where the invaders could scarcely be more numerous than were the English settlers in Ireland in the days of the Plantagenets, the conquest was deprived of half its severity by the rapid amalgamation of the two races. The intermarriage not merely of inferior followers, but of the royal and the noble with the oppressed race, soon fused into incipient if not complete unity the two antagonistic elements. The King and his nobles tilled their lands, fought their battles, and often filled their households with AngloSaxon retainers. Common cares, common enemies, and a common national cause, of necessity produced common and kindred sentiments and affections, and something of mutual help, toleration, and respect. But forgetful of this great lesson, worked out on their own soil, the