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Penal Laws, effect of
repeal of some of them
When James II. abdicated the throne of England, he retired to France, to solicit the aid of Louis XIV. to enable him to secure the possession of Ireland, where he was still acknowledged as the lawful sovereign. On the 12th of March 1689, James landed at Kinsale with about 1200 of his own subjects in the pay of France, and 190 French officers. He was received with open arms, and the whole country seemed to be devoted to him, for although the protestants in the north had declared for the new government, their strength and number were inconsiderable, when compared with the forces of the Lord Deputy Tyrconnel. This minister had disarmed all the other protestants in one day, and assembled an army of 30,000 foot, and 8,000 cavalry.* Addresses were poured in upon James from all orders of the people. The
* Smollett, i. 36.
established clergy, among the rest, filled a conspicuous part in congratulating him upon his arrival.
James continued to govern Ireland, without any interruption from William, till the 13th of August*, when Schomberg landed at Belfast with an English army of 10,000 men. To oppose him, James collected his forces, amounting to 30,000, at Drogheda.† Schomberg, who had arrived at Dundalk, thought it prudent to advance no farther; and instead of reducing Ireland, after having lost one half of his army by sickness, he at the end of the campaign was under the necessity of entrenching himself against an enemy, which he had been taught in England to despise, and of confining his operations to the protection of the northern province. #
On the 14th of June in the year following, William landed with reinforcements at Carrickfergus. The distracted state of England, and the formidable preparations of France, inclined him to a vigorous prosecution of the war in Ireland. S He advanced towards Dublin with an army of 36,000 men. James collected his forces, amounting to 33,000, at Drogheda, and by an unaccountable infatuation resisted the advice of his general officers, to act on the defensive against William ; who would then have had to contend, at the same time, against a threatened foreign invasion of Britain, the insurrection which his own subjects were plotting, and the difficulty of maintaining his Irish army in an unfriendly climate, without provisions
Though William obtained a decided victory at
* Leland, vol. iii. b. 6. c. 6. + Ib. Ib. $ Ib.
the Boyne, the Irish army had fought with courage and obstinacy; and, in consequence of having at one time repulsed the center of the English army, were able to retire in good order, with the loss of only 1500 men. * The subsequent defeat of General Douglas before Athlone, and of William himself before Limerick, left James, at the end of the campaign, in possession of nearly one half of Ireland, and well supported by an army inured to war, and commanded by able and experienced generals. William experienced still greater embarrassments on the continent and in England. A victory had been gained by Luxemburgh, in Flanders, over Prince Waldeck and the confederate army; Tourville had defeated the united fleets of England and Holland; and great dejection and discontent were visible among his British subjects.
William having returned to England in the autumn of 1690, General Ginckle, with an army inferior to that of St. Ruth, who now commanded the Irish forces, commenced the campaign by the capture of the fort of Baltimore. Having afterwards taken Athlone, and defeated St. Ruth at the battle of Aughrim, he laid siege to Limerick on the 25th of August 1691. The fortifications had been strengthened since William was repulsed before it in the preceding year ; the garrison was healthy, well supplied, and in numbers equal to the assailants, and strong succours were daily expected from France. † The besiegers, on the other hand, were too few for the undertaking, the season of the year was far advanced, and they had no expectations of receiving any reinforcements.
Week passed away after week without Ginckle's obtaining any advantage over the besieged ; at length he made a lodgment on the west of the Shannon. But, notwithstanding this success, it was debated whether the siege should be carried on, or converted into a blockade ; such were the difficulties foreseen in reducing the town. dangerous for the besiegers to continue in their present station on the approach of winter, and hazardous to divide an army sufficient only for assailing the town on one side; and yet the only effectual way of reducing it was to invest it on all sides, by cutting off the garrison from all intercourse with the county of Clare. *
William, in the mean time, was so sensible of the necessity of obtaining the surrender of the Irish army,
in order to secure his newly acquired throne, and the success of the revolution, that he sent instructions to the lords justices to issue a proclamation offering to the Catholics still more liberal terms than those which they afterwards accepted; and he gave Ginckle urgent directions to terminate the war on any conditions. † Fortunately, however, for William and the revolution party, but most unfortunately, as events have since proved, for the Catholics, the garrison of Limerick beat a parley on the 29th day of the siege. A cessation of three days was granted; and on the last day of it, the Irish generals proposed terms of capitulation. They
* Leland, vol. iii. b. 6. c. 6.
This was called the secret proclamation, because, though printed, it never was published, in consequence of the Lords Justices being informed of the inclination of the garrison to treat for their surrender.