Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

but farther humiliation for their own Church; and concluded, naturally enough, that if they aided Charles in resisting the encroachments of his English Parliament, they should perhaps obtain, either from his gratitude or his fears, the re-establishment of Catholicism in Ireland. They therefore proposed to the King, through Sir James Dillon, an active and faithful member of their confederacy, to seize upon Dublin and all the other strong places of the kingdom, in the name of their Sovereign, and also to depose the Lords Justices, and administer all the affairs of the State for the strengthening of the Royal Cause. This scheme, although it has been denied by Hume, there is abundant evidence to prove, received the sanction of Charles; and, consequently, the projected insurrection, so far as this party were concerned, bore the appearance of exuberant loyalty, more than that of rebellion : neither is there, in this affair, the slightest ground of complaint against the unfortunate monarch, as it was quite natural that he should endeavour to create a counterpoise, wherever he could, against the growing power of his determined enemies in England.

The second party of Confederates, though concurring with Antrim and Ormond, to the extent mentioned above, had ulterior views of a far different character. Their real object was, to do precisely what the Scottish Presbyterians had previously done—that is, to re-establish their own religion, on the ruins of episcopal Protestantism. From the inveterate hatred of Popery, however, entertained by the English Parliament, they could only hope to accomplish this design, by the entire separation of Ireland, from all connexion with the English Crown and Government. They also intended, no doubt, to accomplish, by this separation, the farther object of regaining possession of the immense estates and valuable privileges of which they had been unjustly despoiled, during the reigns of Henry VIII. Elizabeth, and James I. And can any man, possessing the ordinary selfishness of our nature, and cherishing a reasonable love of his religion and his country, blame them for entertaining such designs ? The native Irish had been barbarously treated and plundered, from the invasion of Henry II. and the introduction of Protestantism had only rendered the new Faith pre-eminently hateful, by infusing many additional ingredients of bitterness, into the deep cup of their previous sufferings. Their venerable Hierarchy had been deposed and plunderedtheir Sacred Temples had been wrested from them, and the solemn rites of their venerated faith were performed at rude altars of stone, amidst the wilds of their country, and under the blue canopy

of heaven: their honored Chieftains had been ignominiously driven from their hereditary domains, and their feudal castles occupied by English adventurers. I feel no surprise, therefore, that, smarting under hereditary and personal wrongs, the O'Donoghues of Munster, the Gormanstowns and Plunkets of Leinster, the Dillons of Connaught, and the Maguires, Magennises, O'Neills, and Moores of Ulster, should have embraced the tempting opportunity of England's internal distractions, for throwing off the yoke; or that they should have been encouraged in this enterprise, by the clergy and people of a plundered and persecuted Church. The leaders of this party, like those of the other, asserted in a Proclamation issued after the commencement of the Rebellion, that they were acting under the King's authority; and, it is highly probable, that Charles, in ignorance of their ulterior objects, had lent his sanction to their proceedings, in order to create a diversion in his favor, during his disastrous struggles with his English subjects.

Of the two parties who thus designed to overthrow the coustituted authorities, that of the old Irish Catholics was, by far, the more numerous, energetic, and sincere. They had definite views and distinct objects which the mass of the people could understand. They were not about to fight, merely to consolidate the power of a King, whose only hold on their sympathies consisted in his being hated by the inveterate enemies of their religion. On the contrary, they were chiefly to draw their swords in behalf of “their country, their altars, and their homes." Hence, the readiness with which they combined; the fidelity with which they kept their secrets, and the enthusiasm which they manifested in preparing for active operations, whilst the Ormond and Antrim party were paralyzed by distracted counsels, wavering purposes, and imperfect organization.

Still, however, a certain degree of union and co-operation was maintained between the two parties; and, after many negociations, it was finally arranged that a simultaneous insurrection should take place on the 5th Oct. 1641. This compact, the Leaders of English descent declined to fulfil; and, consequently, those of Irish extraction determined to commence the enterprise on their own account, and with such means as were at their own command. They accordingly fixed upon Saturday, October 23rd, as the day of rising. Lord Maguire, Roger Moore, and a select body of resolute followers were secretly to enter Dublin, and seize the Castle : Sir Phelim O'Neill, of Tyrone, was to attack Derry: Sir Con Magennis, Lord of Iveagh, was to occupy Newry: Sir Henry O'Neill and Alaster M‘Donnell were to seize on Carrickfergus: and other confederates of inferior note were to enter on less important enterprises.

The attack upon Dublin Castle was frustrated through the agency of Owen O'Connolly, (an actual Presbyterian, but a supposed Catholic,) who gave information to the Lords Justices, on the evening of the 22nd, and several of the rebels were taken up. The rest escaped to Ulster, where the insurrection had commenced, as previously determined ;

but the officers in command of the principal Towns being English, Scotch, or Irish Protestants, the rebels failed to take any of the considerable places mentioned above, and were content with capturing small forts, or open towns, and ravaging the country districts. At first, except where they were opposed by armed men, in fair conflict, they merely made prisoners of the principal Protestants of the Established Church, burned their houses, carried off their goods, and then plundered the humbler members of the same communionordering them to return to England without delay. The Scottish settlers remained entirely unmolested, either in person or propertyowing, as some allege to the express commands of the King, or, as others more probably maintain, to the hope of conciliating the Scotch Nation, and thereby preventing any troops being sent over to Ireland, in aid of the episcopalians.

This comparatively humane and civilized warfare continued for six or eight weeks—the Catholics being undisturbed masters of the smaller towns and open country, whilst the stripped and terrified Protestants crowded into Derry, Coleraine, Carrickfergus, Belfast, Enniskillen, and a few other places, occupied by their friends and the royal army. Innumerable conflicts took place, however, between the contending parties; and the war speedily degenerated, on both sides, into scenes of the most revolting cruelty. At this distant period, and amidst the most contradictory allegations of Historians, it is impossible to determine on which side the barbarities commenced; but, one thing is clear, that, in proportion to their means and opportunities, both parties pursued the horrible game of extermination, with all the ferocity of bloodhounds! Men, women, and children, were massacred without remorse : houses sinoked in ruins : whilst cattle and provisions were everywhere destroyed, as if the fury of men's passions had annihilated their understandings, and caused them to cut off the very sources of their own subsistence. There can be no doubt that the Catholic atrocities were the more extensive and appalling, because they occupied a much wider field; but, it is equally unquestionable, that both parties not only disgraced the name of Christians but of men.

The precise cause of the Presbyterians becoming involved in the miseries of the contest, has not been clearly ascertained. The probability is, that they had openly or privately lent some aid to their suffering fellow Protestants : but the main reason assigned by many Historians is the fact of the Presbyterian garrison of Carrickfergus having joined a body of mixed Protestants, at Ballycarry, on the 9th of January, 1642, and thence proceeded to massacre, indiscriminately, the unarmed and peaceable Catholic inhabitants of the Peninsula of Island Magee, on the north-east coast of the county of Antrim. Some have asserted that no fewer than 3,000 persons were, that day, inhumanly butchered, or driven in masses into the sea, over the beetling cliffs, vulgarly known by the name of “The Gobbin Heughs." Others have alleged that no more than thirty individuals were slaughtered, on that occasion ; but, I am convinced that this estimate is far too moderate. Let the fact stand as it may, however, there can be no doubt that, from this period, many of the Presbyterians became involved in all the prevalent horrors of the times, both as actors and sufferers, until in the Spring and Summer of 1642, the Catholics were driven from the counties of Down and Antrim, by a numerous army which the Scottish Parliament had sent into Ulster, under the command of General Monro.

The destruction of food and the neglect of cultivation produced their natural results-Famine and Pestilence. Tens of thousands, both Catholics and Protestants, who had escaped from fire and sword, perished by want and disease. The whole Province seut up the wail of mourning : the mountains, the valleys, and the towns being indiscriminately ravaged. A few records remain, which may give some idea of the wide-spread devastation. In Coleraine, 6,000 persons died : in Carrickfergus, 2,500 : in Belfast, (then little more than a village,) 2,000: and in Lisburn, 800. Some Historians have computed the entire victims of war, famine, and pestilence, up to the final dispersion of the rebels, at 300,000, others at 200,000, and the most moderate at 40,000. Even the lowest computation, however, is appalling in itself; and still more shocking, when we consider that all those horrors originated in an affected veneration for religious Truth, and were perpetrated by men, on both sides, who gloried in the alleged superior purity of their religious principles !

Of the Protestant Episcopal clergy, thirty were murdered, great numbers were imprisoned, many died of fever, and with the single exception of the venerable Bishop Bedell, all the Prelates fled from the Kingdom. The excellent man who remained was universally beloved, even by the Catholics, who treated him with courtesy and kindness ; but pestilence took away the life which human passions had spared, even in the hours of their wildest rage.

The several Scotch regiments, which composed the army of Monro, were accompanied by ordained Ministers of the Kirk of Scotland, who officiated as chaplains. Each regiment was considered as a Presbyterian congregation, and the most respectable and pious officers were appointed Elders, to assist at the administration of the Lord's Supper, and in the exercise of discipline. In the summer of 1642, five of these chaplains and several officer-elders were stationed at Head-Quarters, in Carrickfergus ; and the enemy being driven to a distance, they resolved to organize a regular Presbyterian church, in the natural expectation, that, so many of the episcopalian Protestants having been destroyed, and so many of their clergy either killed, or driven from the country, Presbyterianism might easily be rendered the Established Religion of Ulster at least, if not of all Ireland. In pursuance of this design, the first Presbytery ever held in this country assembled at Carrickfergus on the tenth day of June, 1642. The following Ministers composed this primary and most interesting Assembly, viz. John Baird, Moderator, Thomas Peebles, Clerk, Hugh Cunningham, John Aird, and John Scott. The names of the Elders, I have not been able to ascertain—a circumstance which I greatly regret, as I should have rejoiced to leave a complete list of the names of the worthy and pious men, who, amidst the perils of war, laid the regular foundations of my parent Church-a Church which, in despite of its occasional errors and forgetfulness of its early principles, has, beyond all controversy, conferred inestimable blessings upon Ulster, and indirect advantages upon the whole Empire.

(To be continued.)

POETRY

DAFFODILS.

(Ilerrick, 1648.)

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see

You haste away so soon;
As yet, the early-rising sun
Hath not attained his noon :

Stay, stay,
Until the hastening day

Has run
But to the Even-song;
And having prayed together, we

Will go with you along!

We have short time to stay as you;

We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or any thing :

We die,
As your hours do—and dry

Away,
Like to the Summer rain,
Or, as the pearls of morning dew,

Ne'er to be found again.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »