Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

talents, no more fortunate department and do any thing for the country, one thing could have fallen to Strafford than Ireland. was absolutely and indispensably necessaThe country presented at that time, in ry: its means and resources must be in. most awkward combination, the difficulties creased-in other words, the king must have of a civilized and an uncivilized state. Under money. Good and evil have fought for this King James, who prided himself, not unde-ally since the foundation of the world: the servedly, upon his attention to her, English highest contests of the middle ages assumlaw had superseded, to a great extent, the ed the form of mercantile strife, and from power of the old chieftains; the natives ideas, that spanned the universe and pierc. had been brought down from their moun. ed the sky, leaped by a step to money. tains, and the establishment of the Scotch Strafford's monarchy, grand and sacred in Ulster, and of English plantations in va- source of good, sovereignty of virtue, emrious parts, had given a move to agricul- pire in the clouds, wanted money; and ture, and encouraged more settled and in- how to replenish the royal purse, was the dustrious habits in the people. On the all-absorbing question. The dificulty unother hand, the looseness of the monarchical der which the dynasty of the Stewarts had reins, in the Stewart hand, had increased writhed, Strafford had a notion he could the difficulties of government. The Irish, settle, and proposed a bold move for the while they had not been untaught all their purpose-an Irish Parliament. barbarism, had also imbibed notions of po- Of all the projects that could be thought litical liberty which they had not before; of for extricating the monarchy out of its and the new Scoich population, as Strafford difficulties, the most repulsive, the most proved to his cost, were a set of subjects alarming, and the most nauseous, to a that no government could congratulate it- Stewart, was that of a Parliament. A meself upon. The power of the chieftains nagerie of wild beasts let loose, an army of had been succeeded by the license of a dis- locusts, monsters from the vasty deep, orderly nobility, who, if they could not con. Goths, Huns, and Tartars, were but faint trol their inferiors as they had before, had symbols of the terrible political image no notion of being controlled themselves; which an assembly of his faithful subjects corruption had crept into every department presented to him. Parliaments were inof the public service ; justice was feebly irinsically odious, unmanageable things; and partially administered; an ill disciplin- time after time had they been dismissed, ed and ill provided army preyed upon the till it seemed part of their constitution to substance of the common people ; monop. be so dealt with; a dogmatic catena conolists swallowed up one source of reve. demned them; they were King James's nue, the nobility, who had possessed them. five hundred tyrants ; Charles's “hydras selves of the crown lands, the other. cunning and malicious," and "cats that Church property was in as bad case, de grew cursed with age;" three had recently voured wholesale by the nobility, and the been dismissed in succession ; and the king wretched remnant seized in the shape of had quietly made up his mind to go on commendams and fraudulent wasting fines, without them. Do manage without a parby a covetous puritanical episcopate, and liament—any thing in the wide world but higher clergy. In church and state alike, a parliament, was the almost supplicating from the council board, the judicial bench, language of the English cabinet to Strafand the episcopal chair downwards, every ford, on his first bronching the thought. man, high and low, was engaged in the no- Nevertheless, Strafford saw that he must ble employment of feathering his own nest; have a parliament--that odious as was the and Ireland was one Augean stable of cor- encounter, it must be tried : parliamen's ruption. Such were the chaotic materials there had always been; they were ingrainout of which Strafford undertook to evolve ed in the English constitution-its working his darling project of a regeneration of the constitution--and it was absurd to think of monarchy

doing without them: facts could not be In July, 1633, he arrived in Dublin, set. unmade by being not seen, by shutting your tled himself in his post, made new arrange- eyes to them, by turning your back upon ments in the vice-regal court and house-them. A parliament therefore must be hold, sounded the people about him, tried held. More than this, he aspired to make his strength in various encounters with in- ing a parliament not only an engine of supdividual noblemen ; and after he had thus plies, a mere necessary evil, but a positive felt his way, and got information enough, gain, and addition of strength to the roydecided on his great plan.

alty. Before the monarchy could raise its head | The general feebleness of the Stewart

a

governments may be reduced almost to one introduced subsequently to it the Magna defect-they did not face the nation; the Charta into Ireland, one corollary from nation looked them in the face, steadily, re. which great document was freedom of de. solutely, and—fearful symptom of a falling bate. Strafford insisted on the letter, and cause--they did not return the look, but with a side sneer at King James's adminisshrank from its eye. Discomfited in par- tration, for not " understanding the rules liament, they consoled themselves at home of government,” snatched the statute from with theories of the regal power; and a the scissors of Mr. Attorney-General and most miserable contrast was of course the lawyers, who were preparing to cut the result, of a royalty potent in theory, and pare it down to modern shape, and inefficient in practice; "I make both law safely deposited the precious document in and Gospel," said King James, and did not his cabinet, in the most honored compart. uphold his omnipotence with his little ment of Irish records. finger. Amidst high-sounding definitions So far, so good-Poyning's Act was of sovereignty, the privy seals came trem- gained; but this very act brought him, as blingly forth, afraid of the light of day, and a very first step, into contact with a minor scraped up money by hole-and-corner legislative assembly, in the shape of the methods, by forced loans and benevolences, Irish Council, who were to be taken into from the private subject. This was not the his deliberations upon the subject of the method of the Lancasters and Plantage. propositions to be made to parliament, nets: no theorizers, but practical men, The class of official men in Ireland, they boldly rode forth upon their royalty, owing to the distance and laxity of the and the nation, like a generous steed, ex-home government, as well as a succession ulted in the strong hand of its rider. What of indifferent lord deputies, had become did such men care for parliaments ? thought any thing but a safe and honorable set of Strafford : a regular Plantagenet, be said, advisers. Their general practice was to Meet your parliament, catch the wolf's eye get round the lord deputy on his arrival, first, he will retire if you confront him. Let coax and flatter him into a course of neglithis be the test: if you can stand it, you gence, or some precipitate or rapacious are not merely saved, but raised, lifted up act; after which they hung in terrorem over sky-high ; if you cannot, your monarchy is him, and with his exposure in their power, good for nothing.-"I did always,” were followed their own devices in security. his words on the scaffold, for which he has Strafford soon discovered their character, been charged with hypocrisy with no sort and looked about him with very like the of reason—“I did always think parliaments caution and distrust which the vicinity of to be the happy constitution of the kingdom pickpockets excites. “God deliver me,” and nation, and the best means, under God, he says, “from this ill sort of men, and to make this king and his people happy.” give me grace to see into their designs.”A parliament accordingly was summoned. The council was composed of various no.

There was one part of the constitution blemen and high officers of state, one of of an Irish parliament, which made it much whom, the chancellor, as second in the easier of management than an English one. country permanently, considered his post By an act passed in the reign of Henry VII. not at all inferior to the changing office of commonly known by the name of "Poyn. lord deputy. The whole body, grown enoring's Act," the houses conld only debate mously insolent and untractable, put the on those propositions which the lord depo- lord deputy virtually at defiance, dictated ty or council put before them. Strafford, to, harrased and bullied him. we need hardly say, strongly appreciated Stratford had, very early on his arrival, the merits of this statute ; but, strange as taken pains to teach these officials their it may appear, its very monarchical charac- proper place. One order, procured from ter made the home government afraid to the king, forbade any member of the coun. stand upon it; it seemed to be too much of cil sitting covered in the lord deputy's presa privilege to claim in such times; and whalence : by another, they were not allowed to took away from the perilousness of a ses speak to one another at the council board, sion once begun, required greater courage but obliged to address every word to the in the first instance to seize and take the lord deputy. Discipline still more humadvantage of. Moreover, a sort of legal bling to the stomachs of these great men haze had gathered about the act; an his was added, ex abundanti, by Sirafford himtorical interpretation was claiined for it in self. The most punctual and business-like contradistinction to the letter by the popu. man in the empire, when he chose, he aslar party, and King James, it was said, had sembled his council, and kept them for

[ocr errors]

с

hours waiting, "attending on his leisure.” | Pale was, it may be readily supposed, a very Thus tamed and brought into something round one indeed : “ As he was the mouth like training, they had also been augmented which came to open for them all, I thought fut by two friends of his own, Sir George to close it as soon as I could.The Earl of Radcliffe and Sir Christopher Wandesford. Fingal was simply informed that his quesStrongly averse as he was to the interference tion was ignorant, impertinent, and preof official counsellors, no man living bad sumptuous, and the claims of himself and more respect than Strafford for advisers of colleagues utterly contemptible; and his his own choosing. Years of uninterrupted lordship retired from the presence-chamber, friendship, during which he had habitually, himself “a little out of countenance," and and on all occasions public and private, the Pale wholly extinguished. consulted them, had proved the ability and The important meeting of the councilaffection of these two: he brought them board still remained. Strafford's proposiwith him to Ireland, and they formed his tion to parliament was simply a demand of cabinet, and never left his side. They three six subsidies of thirty thousand each ; and met every day, debated on whatever ques. he sent in that proposition for discussion at tion was coming on, argued pro and con, the board, purposely keeping away himself, discussed circumstances and probable con that he might elicit the more freely their sequences, and thoroughly silted it before real sentiments, but ready to interpose on bringing it into public.

the first symptom of matters going wrong. He was threatened with more plagues, That symptom very soon appeared. in the shape of councils and official ad- We have mentioned some Stewart mis. visers, even than the Irish Council-board. takes of government; the bargaining poliA certain body existed, knowu by the name cy, a descent from high ground, and ipso of the “Lords of the Pale,” of whose pri- facto confession of weakness, was one. vileges it was difficult at that time to say King James had gone on, throughout his what they exactly were, and how far they reign, buying and selling with his parliahad grown obsolete and been superseded ment, piecing offer and demand together: by political changes. The body existed, I will give this, if you will give that--so however, and claimed to be consulted upon much prerogative for so many pounds sterthe opening of parliament; and it number. ling-till the royalty and the nation seemed ed many noblemen among its members, the at last exhibiting themselves as two marweight of whose family names was a re. ket-women, at a stall, bating and cheapenspectable addition to the more venerable, ing and cheating each other. The blunder but less ascertainable claims of the body. still went on; and the Council had hardly The representative of the Pale on this laid their wise heads together, before they occasion was the Earl of Fingal, a some made it. They spread the annual payment what empty-headed nobleman, who, on the of the subsidies over a year and a half, and strength of being a leader or tool of the then coupled even this diminished demand disaffected party, assumed the man of im- with a monopoly and a pardon bill, as a portance, and gave himself consequential quid pro quo to the popular party to buy off airs. He waited in due form and ceremo. the opposition. But Strafford was at hand, ny for and in the behalf of the Pale, on the and waiting in his cabinet : information lord deputy-bad heard a report that there reached him from Radcliffe and Wandeswas to be a parliament—was anxious to ford of the turn things were taking; his know the truth of the matter, as in that mind in a moment fastened on the weak case their Lordships of the Pale would pre point, and before the discussion could propare themselves for deliberation as to the ceed further, the lord deputy was in pro. course to be pursued upon so critical an pria personá at the head of the council occasion; their Lordships of the Pale were board, giving his sage councillors as rough exceedingly desirous to promote the good a set down as ever set of erring politicians of their country, and their Lordships of the received. Did they imagine that the king Pale thought their advice and counsel high- would degrade himself by such wretched, ly necessary for that end-all this, says paltry shifts? No, no: my great master, Strafford, in a grave electorate kind of way. and 'my gracious master, and my royal

Strafford had a variety of modes of an master, and my sovereign master, would swer, according to the merits of cases and act very differently. “ Like all other individuals; but for one he had a great par- wise and great princes, his majesty expecttiality--the round answer—a phrase of very ed to be trusted; he would not in any case frequent occurrence in his despatches. admit of conditions, or be proceeded withal The answer to the representative of the las by way of bargain or contract; he would

а

a

be provided for as the head, and care for acuteness in makin it one of the first acts his people as members; as a gracious and to correct this disorder - when change good king, but still according to the order would be less invidious than afterwards, of reason, nature, and conscience-himself, and would come as a simple order from his people afterwards. They had begun the king, without any appearance of peraltogether at the wrong end, thus consult- sonal pride on the deputy's part-"I crave ing what would please the people in a par- such a direction from his majesty,” he says, liament, when it would better become a " that they may know it to be his pleasure: privy council to consider what might please otherwise I shall be well content it may be the king, and induce him to call one." spared, baving in truth no such vanity in Think no more, he continues, of your mo. myself as to be delighted with any of these nopoly bills, of your parliament pardons- observances." Nevertheless he sent with “poor shallow expedients! The king has his letter as accurate a table of etiquette, no fancy for them. It is far below my great for the king's approval, as the most rigid master to feed his people with shadows or master of the ceremonies could desire. empty pretences: if the noble and real Noblemen were admitted on days of meetfavors of a gracious and wisc king will not ing to the presence chamber; the drawing carry it, he will do without your money, chamber was assigned to the untitled class and expect with patience the honor that below them, who were not however allowed will attend him, the repentance that will to bring in their servants; the gallery to fall upon yourselves in the conclusion." the members of the council. The audacity

Full of his own majestic illimitable idea of the gentlemen ushers, who had been in of the monarchy, Strafford went on, and the habit of following their masters the poured forth the whole of his royalist soul lord chancellor and the treasurer into the upon the assembled council. He rose from lord deputy's presence, was repressed, and eloquence to poetry; the beams of light they were enjoined to stop at the galleryand truth were invoked upon the demon of door: the purse-bearer, who had ambitioussuspicion —“That spirit of the air that ly mixed himself with the councillors in

walked in darkness between king and peo- the gallery, received the same direction; ple:” and from the midst of a magnificent and the lord chancellor, it was added, ought labyrinth of sentences, and an overshadow. to be too proud to carry his own purse in ing cloud of imagery, the board was in the lord deputy's presence. formed that in case they and Parliament Policy and feeling combined produced refused to accept the Lord-deputy's view these arrangements. Strafford's awful he should forthwith put himself at the head ideas of the monarchy colored every thing of his majesty's army, and there persuade down to a king's little finger with majesty. them fully that his majesty had reason on his If the king wrote a letter, it was his side — the puissant Straffordian oath — on cred pen" that officiated : if he went from peril of my life and that of my children - one place to another, it was his "blessed followed the threat.

journey." And as the representation and Annuit et totum nutu tremefecit Olym- reflection of royalty, be regarded himself pum."--The council was fairly taken aback as raised far above nobility : he taught the and overwhelmed by this portentous dis- proudest of Irish lords to feel their “im. play of energy; the proposition of the six mense distance," and hide their diminished subsidies passed free from all degrading ap- heads before the shadow of a king. He pendages; and no wills or councils inter. had a natural, even a simple love of pomp vened now between Straffor:I and his parlia and ceremony, and, but for a strong intelment.

lect, would have been bombastic; as it One thing more he thought proper to was, nobody was less so. “I am naturally attend to, because he would lose no chance modest,” he says of himself, with real simof su ccess--the ceremonial department. plicity, "and extreme unwilling, to be held He resolved to have the most stately and supercilious and imperious among them” gorgeous ceremonial of a parliament that -and his social habits formed a sufficient had ever been known in Ireland.

contrast to his haughtiness as viceroy. On Strafford's first arrival he found He was fond of conversation and shone in every thing connected with court etiquette it, especially in the entertaining departin the lowest possible state of neglect. A ment; and, whenever he could spare the melée of all ranks used the vice-regal castle time, after supper walked off his friends in club house fashion, parading galleries, into his cabinet, where he smoked and told swinging doors, and making themselves good stories, of which he had a copious free every where. Strafford showed his supply, or at Christmas time played at

sa

[ocr errors]

scene.

Primero and Mayo, at which he was an can be said is far subordinate, yet you will admit adept. At his public table he was very me, that sees how much the whole frame of this conscientious in playing the don on one like to settle or suffer with the good or bad success

Commonwealth, by a close consent of parts, is point. It was always splendidly provided, of this present meeting, as a person that hath no though he partook but sparingly of it him. end but uprightly to dispense my master's jusself; but he allowed no toasts, except on lice amongst you, without acceptance of persolenn days the King, Queen, and Prince, sons; nor expects, hopes for no other reward, in order to mark his discountenance of the than throu rh the monuments and testimonies Í habits of drinking then universal in Ireland. trust I shall be able 10 leave behind me, to be As the great day of the opening of par. children, a true lover of your country: give me

acknowledged when I am gone, by you and your liament drew near, vast pains were taken leave, I say, as a person thus qualified, thus to collect all the information on the cere affected, to tell you plainly, that if you do not monials which had been observed on such perfectly and cheerfully conform yourselves to occasions ; tables of forms and precedence l'ulfil his Majesty's desires, you render yourwere ransacked, solemn rolls and parch-selves to all equal minds the most unwise, the ments reproduced from the dust of ages, most unthankful, the most unpardonable people

in the world. and heraldry, with her inspiring insignia and mystic antique glare, summoned to the tell me if ever the desires of a mighty and

“For lay your hands upon your hearts, and On July 14, 1634, with the sound powerful king were so moderate, so modest, of trumpets and wave of banners, a mag-taking, asking nothing for himself

, but all for nificent procession moved to the parlia. you. His Majesty haih contracted a vast debt ment house, through the streets of Dub. inerely in the service of this crown, and now lin, such as Ireland, it was said, had never wishes you to ease him of the burden. His Maseen before-her whole aristocracy (ac- iection and safety-nay, hath entered into a

jesty issuaih all he hath willingly for your procording to exact order of rank and date of new charge of seven thousand pounds a year patent)-knights and squires, dukes, earls for safeguarding your coast. His Majesty and and barons in their robes, bishops and arch. his royal father have had but one subsidy from bishops in their rochets, privy councillors you, where England hath given them thirty and ministers of state with all the badges selves as to be persuaded you must ever be ex

subsidies; and can you he so indulgent to your; of their judges and serjeants: heralds, empt: if it should be so, certainly the stars

were more propitious to you than to any other pursuivants, and troops, filled up the intero conquered nation under heaven. No, no; let stices, and serjeants-at-arms with naked no such narrow, inward considerations possess swords flanked; the long line wound up you; but roundly and cheerfully apply yourwith Strafford himself, who marched sur. selves to the contentment of his Majesty'aller rounded with all the paraphernalia of vice. your long peace. regal pomp, Lord Brabazon bearing his vitiate your judgment. Take heed of private

“Suffer no poor suspicions or jealousies to train, Lord Ormond the sword, Lord Kil

: meetings and consults in your chambers. Here more the cap. The procession halted at is the proper place. His Majesty expects not the great entrance of St. Patrick's, where to find you muttering and mutinying in corners. the chapter and choir met them, and, with I am commanded to carry a wakeful eye over the Archbishops of Cashel and Tuam, head- these private and secret conventicles; therefore ed them into the cathedral, singing the Te it behoves you look to it. Deum: and after service and a sermon from judgment in all things, yet let me not prove a

“Finally," he concludes, “I wish you a right the Primate, Strafford opened the session. Cassandril among you—to speak truth, and not

Step by step all had succeeded hitherto, be believed. However, speak truth I will, were and Sirafford determined not to be want. I to become your enemy for it. Remember, ing to himself at the wind-up scene. Sum. therefore, thai I tell you, you may easily make moning every nerve and muscle, and strain or mar this parliament. If you proceed with ing every joint, for a last effort, he threw respect, without laying clogs or conditions upon

a down the gauntlet, declared in a speech to do, you shall infallibly set up this parliament

the king, as wise men and good subjects ought of unshrinking swing and power his full eminent to posterity, as the very basis and resolution, and dashed the royalty in the foundation of the greatest happiness and prosface of the Irish parliament. And al. perity that ever befell this nation. But if you beit,” he continues, after a general sketch meet a great king with narrow circumscribed of affairs

hearts, if you will needs be wise and cautious

above the moon, remember again I tell you, you “Albeit his Majesty need insist upon no other shall never be able to cast your mists before the argumeut to bow you to his just desires, but his eyes of a discerning king; you shall be foun | own personal merit

, and those sovereign duties out; your sons shall wish they had been the you owe him for his justice and protection, in children of more believing parents; and in a comparison whereof I confess indeed all that time when you look not for it, when it shall

« AnteriorContinuar »