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the scandalous exactions of the Established clergy, and the cruel restrictions imposed upon liberty of conscience. Encouraged by the sympathy and applause of their brethren, in England and Scotland, the Commons adopted still bolder measures, on the re-assembling of Parliament, in October, and drew up a Remonstrance, in fifteen Articles, demanding a redress of the heavy grievances, civil and ecclesiastical, which had been inflicted upon the nation during the administration of the Earl of Strafford. This Remonstrance, they ordered to be presented to King Charles, in person, by a Deputation consisting of three Members from each Province. The Members for Ulster were, Sir Wm. Cole, of Fermanagh, (ancestor of the present Earl of Enniskillen,) James Montgomery, of Down, (a connexion, I believe, of the Lord of Ards,) and Edward Rowley, of Londonderry, the maternal progenitor of the present Lord Longford, and the gallant Sir Hercules Pakenham. Enraged at such audacity, Wandesford dissolved the Parliament, and charged the Deputies, on their allegiance, not to leave the kingdom. This injunction, they utterly disregarded, and privately set out for London, on the 12th day of November, 1640.
Some time previously to this period, the weak and unfortunate King, thwarted by refractory Parliaments, had resolved to reign, and to levy taxes without their concurrence. But, his mad scheme of arbitrary taxation entirely failed: his finances fell into hopeless decay : and, in order to replenish his exhausted treasury, he was reluctantly compelled, once more to summon a Parliament. Exasperated by their Sovereign's contempt, inflamed by the insolence and rapacity of the clergy, smarting under the inflictions of unjust tribunals, denied the exercise of religious liberty, and overwhelmed by oppressive burthens, the Electors of England sent into Parliament sturdy and uncompromising Representatives of every existing form of discontent and disaffection. This memorable Assembly was opened by the King, in person, on the 3d of November, 1640; and is distin guished in History by the name of “ The Long Parliament,” on account of its continuing to sit for twelve years.
Before they entertained any question of legislation or finance, the members of this truly representative Assembly appointed several committees to inquire into the grievances of the Nation, and to devise means for their redress. Nor did they consider alone the evils, civil and ecclesiastical, which pressed upon England ; but, with a generosity worthy of a great people, they sympathized with oppressed and plundered Ireland. The illustrious John Pym, in a speech of great power and clearness, moved for a Committee of the whole House, to consider the state of Ireland. Sir John Clotworthy, of Antrim, who had fled from Strafford's enmity, and had been returned to the English Parliament, for the borough of Maldon, seconded the motion, which was triumphantly carried; and, on the 11th of Nov. the Commons " resolved to impeach Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, of High Treason!” The motion was no sooner passed, than it was carried to the bar of the House of Lords ; and in less than one hour afterwards, the favourite Minister of the King, the haughty and oppressive Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was a prisoner in the Tower of London !
The Irish Deputies, arriving at this period, created a great sensa. tion; and their Remonstrance, which was submitted to Parliament, a few days afterwards, materially tended to swell the accusation and the outcry against the unfortunate Earl. Encouraged by these events, the Presbyterians of Ulster drew up a Petition to the English Parliament, complaining, under thirty-one distinct heads, of the evils inflicted upon themselves and upon society, by the Episcopal Church, with the sanction of Strafford. They likewise adverted, in the same clear manner, to the injustice and oppression of his civil administration; and, on this document, several of the charges in the Bill of Impeachment were subsequently founded. On the whole, sixteen of the accusations related to Ireland, amongst which the following were the most prominent, viz. His issuing a Warrant to Bishop Leslie, authorizing him, at pleasure, to imprison all the Non-conformists in his diocese-His imposition of the Black Oath, without authority of Parliament—His confiscation of estates and imprisonment of persons, by the Court of Starchamber—and the shocking cruelties inflicted upon Henry Stewart and his family, as already detailed.
His trial commenced on the 21st day of March, 1641, and termi. nated on the 13th of April ; only forty-nine Peers voting in his favor, The sentence was then submitted to the twelve Judges, to ascertain their opinion of its legality; and on the 6th of May, they declared " that Thomas, Earl of Strafford, had lawfully been doomed to suffer the penalties attached to High Treason." The heartless and wretched king ignominiously signed the death-warrant of the unhappy man who had chiefly sinned in the execution of his own designs : and, on the 12th of May, 1641, the miserable victim of personal ambition and kingly meanness, was beheaded upon Tower-Hill, in the forty-ninth year of his age!
The fate of this unfortunate man is full of instruction. Gifted with extraordinary talents and indomitable energies, he early attained an unparalleled extent of power, which he might have employed for the promotion of his own permanent honor, the security of his Sovereign, and the good of his country. Instead of effecting these objects, however, he sacrificed them all, at the shrine of inordi
nate ambition-lived without friends, suffered without sympathy, involved his country in all the horrors of civil war, and by his arbitrary counsels, brought his sovereign to the block! The slaves and sycophants who once bowed before him, almost in the form of adoration, slunk away in the hour of adversity ; and some whom he had raised to power by his influence, gave their votes for his destruction. The wretched and unprincipled Monarch, whom “he had served, not wisely but too well,” basely deserted him in his utmost need, and signed the Warrant for his execution, when he ought rather to have laid his own head upon the block, than become a consenting party to the death of one who had always served him, at least, with unquestionable fidelity. It has been alleged, that Archbishop Laud, Strafford's adviser and co-adjutor in all the measures which brought him to the scaffold, recommended the King to sacrifice his favorite, in order to divert public indignation from himself: but, if so, it was a shortsighted policy; for, the very timidity which caused Charles to sanction the offering up of one victim at the shrine of popular indignation, only encouraged the demand for other sacrifices, of whom Laud, himself
, was the first. On these subjects, however, it is not my province to expatiate ; nor should I have adverted to them at all, were it not to point out a striking instance of the over-ruling providence of God, in “making the wrath of man to praise Him." The political and ecclesiastical tyrannies of Charles, Strafford, and Laud, although they inflicted great evils upon others, and eventuated in their own destruction, materially extended the foundations of civil freedom and religious toleration, in these countries : and a large portion of the security and privileges which we, ourselves, now so happily enjoy, has sprung from the spirit and energies called forth during the dark and melancholy reign of Charles I.
After the death of Strafford, the English Parliament made every exertion to remedy the evils inflicted upon Ireland, by his oppressive administration. First of all, to quiet the minds of the Ulster colonists, they induced the King to disband the army which occupied the counties of Down and Antrim; and, under their influence, he also appointed moderate and judicious men to act as Lords Justices, in civil affairs, in the room of a Lord Deputy. Most, if not the whole of the estates confiscated by Strafford were restored to their rightful owners : the Presbyterians were allowed the free exercise of their faith and worship: the Catholic nobles enjoyed all the privileges of other Peers : Cath olic commoners sat in Parliament, and acted as lawyers, magistrates, and judges. In short, all denominations experienced equal civil advantages; and, if the Protestant Episcopal Church still continued to possess superior temporal emoluments, all other churches enjoyed equal freedom of worship. Under these auspicious cir
cumstances, Presbyterianism began to revive ; Pastors were gradually procured for flocks; the exiled returned to their homes; men associated, and looked upon each other as brethren; agriculture and manufactures assumed a new and healthy aspect; and the entire country appeared to be setting forth on a happy career of order, prosperity, and peace. It is strange, however, under the government of God, how frequently good and evil alternate with each other, both in the concerns of individuals and nations—the greatest darkness becoming the precursor of the most cheering light, and the brightest sunshine the prelude of clouds and storms.
This remark is particularly applicable to the condition of Ireland, in the year 1641. The tyrannies of Strafford had been followed by the hopeful tranquillity to which I have just referred; yet, whilst there did not appear in the horizon “a cloud so big as a man's hand,” a tempest suddenly came forth, with a fury unequalled by any outburst of human passions detailed in the records of history. I allude to the awful rebellion whose memory has been handed down by tradition through upwards of two centuries, and whose horrible scenes of civil slaughter are still known in every peasant's cottage under the name of “ The Forty One Wars.” On this subject, as on all others involving the character of religious parties, we have historical statements as directly opposed to each other as east and west. Hume, Macaulay, and other Protestant Writers, paint the Roman Catholics as monsters of cruelty, more ferocious than the beasts of the forest; whilst Curry, Lingard, and other Catholic Historians retaliate the accusation, by averring that all the atrocities were originated by the Protestants. “ Truth may lie between:” for, assuredly, many individuals, of both parties, disgraced the name, not of Christians only, but of men; and it is shocking to hear from pulpits, and to read in almost every modern religious publication, exaggerated details of ancient crimes, designed to wound the living, and to in. flame the rancour of sectarian animosity. Nothing can be more unjust and ungenerous, than to impute to their religious principles, the entire iniquities of men in days comparatively dark, and under circumstances of great provocation and political excitement. These are the foul weapons used by unbelievers against all sects, in order to disparage Christianity itself, by imputing to its influence the crimes which its professors have committed, in direct violation of its holy principles; and I know not the party to whom such a test could be applied without sealing their condemnation. In the days of the emperor Constantius, the hands of Unitarians. did not remain unstained: the fate of Servetus, of the martyred Remonstrants of Holland, and that of the murdered Episcopalians of Scotland, would tell no pleasant tale of the mildness of ancient Calvinists: the thousand victims of Prelatical Protestantism would show that its professors have not risen above human infirmities : and can we feel surprised, if the members of the most numerous and the most injured church in this Land, should not always have forgotten their wrongs, or avoided making a criminal use of their power? The enormities of religious Sects have not been the legitimate fruits of their opinions, but of worldly interests and evil passions, concealing themselves under the abused garb of religion; and, if I find some persecuting dogmas of a church in barbarous times, recorded in musty folios, or some atrocious acts committed by members of another church, in days when the principles of religious toleration were scarcely recognized in any country, am I therefore justified in imputing the spirit of persecution to my living brother who has out-grown the errors of his religious ancestors, and looks back upon their crimes with shame and sorrow? I am not in the least afraid of my kind and respected Calvinistic friends, because some wicked members of their communion, in Holland, two hundred years ago, put honest John Barnevelt to death, for professing the doctrines of modern Methodism: neither am I afraid of my Episcopalian and Catholic neighbours, who always treat me with courtesy and kindness, because some of their fellow-believers, in barbarous times, disgraced both their faith and their manhood, by burning innocent Unitarians, at the stake. I am ready to controvert their errors of doctrine, in the spirit of the Gospel, or to expose their errors of conduct, if they personally offend; but I shall never be guilty of the mean injustice of insinuating a calumny against them, by holding them up to the world as in any way responsible for the crimes of those with whom, I am willing to persuade myself, they have nothing in common except the theoretical doctrines of their Creed.
These things being premised, I shall now proceed to give what I sincerely believe to be a true and impartial account of the origin and progress of The Forty-One Wars--confining, myself, however, to the briefest possible outline, consistent with the due connexion of my present narrative, and the influence of events upon Irish Presbyterianism.
In the planning of the great Rebellion of 1641, there appear to have been two sets of Plotters, mutually co-operating, and yet ignorant of each other's main design. At the head of one party, stood the earls of Antrim and Ormond, with several of the old English Catholic Nobility, resident in the Province Leinster. These men strongly disliked the Presbyterian and Puritan party, in England, who held the King in thraldom, and who, whilst trampling upon episcopal Protestantism, were still more fiercely hostile to Popery. They saw, therefore, in the ascendancy of those Sectarists, nothing