The Reign of James I (Continued) page 7
Whilst James's hand was in, however, he hit upon another mode of incensing the puritans, and showing his dislike of them. He had been extremely annoyed by the severity of the presbyterian manners during his visit; and when, on returning, the catholics of Lancashire presented to him petitions complaining of the strictness of the puritans, who forbade those sports and recreations to which they had been accustomed on Sundays after service, adding that it drove men to the ale-house, a bright idea occurred to him, and he determined to publish a book of sports, encouraging the people on Sundays after church to play at running, leaping, archery, morris-dances, and to enjoy their church-ales and festivities as aforetime. These sports, however, were not to be indulged in by the recusants, nor any who had not attended church in the morning. He also prohibited on Sundays bull and bear-baitings, interludes, and bowls; the latter, probably, because they led to gambling. He restored all the jollity of may-poles and rush-bearings,
Many of the established clergy were conscientiously opposed to this mode of spending the Sunday, which appeared to them to savour greatly of papacy; but James persisted in his scheme, and not only published his Book of Sports, but ordered the bishops, each in his own diocese, to publish his ordinance regarding the Sunday amusements. Abbot, the primate, is said to have steadfastly refused to read the book in his own church at Croydon, but the other bishops complied. Laud was zealous in its promulgation, and in after years roused the stern and undaunted spirit of the reformers by recommending the revival of the book to Charles I.
In Ireland the same system had been pursued by James from the commencement of his reign, of endeavouring to force the consciences of his subjects into the mould of his own ideas. On the death of Elizabeth the Irish had openly resumed the catholic worship in most of the south of Ireland. Mountjoy, the lord deputy, issued a proclamation for its immediate suppression; but the fear of the old lioness of a queen being removed, they treated his orders with contempt and defiance. Mountjoy marched down upon them, and compelled submission at the point of the bayonet, and then passed over to England, having with him the two great chiefs, Tyrone and O'Donnel, with a number of their followers.
These chieftains being well received by James, Tyrone being restored to his honours and estates, and O'Donnel created earl of Tyrconnel, the Irish conceived wonderful hopes of the clemency and liberality of James. They sent a deputation to join the two earls in petitioning for the full enjoyment of their religion, but they found themselves grievously deceived. James declared that he would never consent to anything of the kind, but so long as he had a hundred men left, he would fight to the death to put down so idolatrous a worship. In his anger he committed four of the delegates to the Tower, where he kept them three months; and this practice of committing Irish deputies to prison for daring to present petitions on such subjects, became his regular practice.
The British Solomon never relaxed his war upon the religion of his subjects, if it were not of the same colour and shape of his own, so long as breath was left in him. It was In his eyes akin to the sin against the Holy Ghost to differ from or doubt the infallibility of his wisdom, for he deemed himself, according to his open avowal, a god upon earth. In 1605, two years only after ascending the throne of England, he issued a proclamation, commanding all catholic priests to quit Ireland on pain of death; and he commanded all officers, magistrates, and chief citizens of Dublin to attend the established church, or suffer the fine of twenty pounds a month, and moreover, imprisonment. Once more the Leads of the nobility prayed to be permitted the exercise of their religion, but the ill-fated presenters of the petition were thrown into the castle of Dublin, and their spokesman, Sir Patrick Barnewell, was sent over to England and incarcerated in the Tower. Lalor, vicar-apostolic of the dioceses of Dublin, Kildare, and Ferns, was seized and imprisoned for life.
James now hit on a bold scheme for breaking down the clanship of Ireland, and so weakening the opposition of the people to his despotic will. He ordered all possessors of lands to bring in their titles to commissioners appointed for the purpose, on the promise that they should receive them again in a more valid and advantageous form. As, from the disturbed state of the country for ages past, many of these titles were defective, the landowners accepted the offer in good faith, but they found that the commissioners, instead of returning them of the same value, and bearing the same conditions, only returned them freehold titles of such lands as were in their own hands. All such lands as were in the hands of tenants, were made over to these tenants, only subject to the rent charges and dues which they had formerly paid. Thus the great bulk of the tenantry of Ireland was freed from its dependence on the will of the chief in capite, and now set their chieftains and landlords at nought. But though the power of the chiefs was broken, the commonalty showed no more inclination to adhere to a government which oppressed them, and persecuted them on account of their faith. They were now more at liberty, and more ready than ever to follow some bold and defiant leader who promised them protection, and vengeance on their tyrants. The great lords, thus tricked out of their hereditary rights, were converted into deadly enemies of the English government.
Tyrone and Tyrconnel, on taking leave of the English court to return to Ireland, professed extreme gratitude for the kindness of their reception, but in reality they were full of the most hostile sentiments. They looked on this transfer of their seigneurial rights as a measure intended to sever their vassals from them, and thus to subjugate the whole island to the yoke of the English hierarchy. No sooner did they land in Ireland, than Richard Nugent, lord Delvin, invited them to meet him at his castle of Maynooth. They unanimously agreed that the destruction of the hereditary faith of Ireland was planned, and they bound themselves by oath to act together for its defence.
Two years later, intelligence was gathered by some one at Brussels, in the service of the archduke, that Tyrone had renewed his relations with the court of Spain, and in order to decoy him into England, a pretender to a large extent of his lands was set up, and both parties were summoned over to have the cause tried before the privy council. Tyrone, aware of the design, avoided the snare by sending an attorney with full powers to act in his behalf. This stratagem did not succeed. Tyrone received from the lord-deputy information that his presence would be necessary in London to defeat the pretensions of his opponent. Tyrone, feigning to comply, only solicited a delay of a month, in order to settle his affairs and raise money for his journey and sojourn at court. The request being acceded to, he escaped in a vessel sent on purpose from Dunkirk, with two of his sons and nephew, accompanied by Tyrconnel, with his son and lord Dungannon, his brother, with thirty of their retainers, and reached in a few days Quillebeque, in Normandy.
On the discovery of the escape of these nobles, James was greatly alarmed, believing that they had gone for Spain to join the armada, which during the summer had been collecting in the Spanish ports, and to conduct them to Ireland. The news of their real resort abated his fears. He demanded their delivery from France, and then from the Netherlands, whither they betook themselves, describing them as traitors, and men of mean birth, who had been merely ennobled for purposes of state. He accused them of an intention to excite a rebellion, and returning to Ireland with foreign confederates, to put to death all Irishmen of English descent, The court of Brussels declined to give up men exiled only on account of their religion, and admitted them into the Spanish army of Brabant. Tyrone himself proceeded to Rome, where the king of Spain allowed him a pension of six hundred crowns per month, and the pope one hundred.
Active search was made in Ireland for the accomplices of the fugitives; many were arrested in Ulster; some were sent over for trial to England. Lord Delvin, with the eldest son of Tyrone, and Sir Christopher St. Lawrence, were secured and lodged in Dublin Castle. Delvin was tried and condemned as a traitor, but he escaped on the morning fixed for his execution; and no trace of him could be found till he suddenly appeared at the English court, and throwing himself on his knees before the king, presented such a list of real wrongs inflicted on himself and his father, as compelled James to pardon him, and to make him amends by creating him earl of Westmeath; a clemency, as it proved, well bestowed, and which might have taught the king a more successful way to secure obedience and loyalty from his subjects, than those which he unhappily pursued.
Another Irish chief, O'Dogherty of Innishowen, having received a mortal insult from Paulet, the governor of Deny, surprised him at table, and by the aid of his followers succeeded in killing him and five others. The avengers succeeded in capturing alive Hart, the governor of the fortress of Culmore, and leading him to the gates of the castle, called on the governor's wife to surrender the place, or see her husband murdered on the spot. Conjugal affection prevailed, and O'Dogherty found himself in possession of the stronghold. Possessed by this means of arms and ammunition, O'Dogherty marched with a strong force to Derry, and received the submission of the castle and town. The hopes of the exiles were wonderfully raised by so unexpected an event. They despatched messengers instructing O'Dogherty to hold the place, if possible, till their arrival with foreign aid; but after two unsuccessful attacks, the place was evacuated on the approach of Wingfield, the marshal of the camp, and O'Dogherty fled to the mountains. There, in the month of June, 1608, he was accidentally discovered and shot.
The rebellion of these great chiefs, by throwing into the hands of the crown an immense territory, suggested to James the planting of a new English colony. Undeterred by the failure of Elizabeth's plantation of Ulster, he proceeded to divide the confiscated region, which included nearly the whole of the northern counties of Cavan, Fermanagh, Armagh, Derry, Tyrone, and Tyrconnel, amounting to two millions of acres, into four great divisions. Two of these were again divided into lots of one thousand acres each, a third into lots of fifteen hundred acres, and the fourth into lots of two thousand acres. The two thousand acre lots were appropriated to a class of men called "undertakers and servitors," adventurers of capital from England and Scotland, with the civil and military officers of the crown. The lesser lots went amongst these and the natives of the province; but the natives were only to receive their lots in the plains and open country, not in the hills and fastnesses, where they might become formidable to government. The possessors were bound to pay a mark a year for every sixty acres, and the lesser ones besides to take the oath of supremacy, and engage to admit no recusant as tenant.
By these means some hundred thousand acres were planted; but whole districts in the hills were never divided at all, whilst many of the undertakers managed to get immensely more land than they had any right to. It was at this time that the scheme of creating baronets was proposed to James by Sir Anthony Shirley, as a means of raising money for the support of the army in Ulster. James caught eagerly at the idea, coined upwards of one hundred thousand pounds out of it, but neither sent any of the money to Ireland, nor gave a handsome gratuity to Shirley for the suggestion, as he promised.
After these measures, James ventured to call a parliament in Ireland, in 1613, the first for seven-and-twenty years. He wanted money, and he wanted also to enact new laws. But the catholics were naturally apprehensive of these intended laws, for the whole of James's policy went to crush their religion out of the majority of the inhabitants, and impose on them his own model church. So little had this shallow Solomon profited by the lessons of history, that he expected to convert a whole nation by the sword and confiscation. But Ireland had by all former English monarchs down to Elizabeth, been taught to regard the pope as the lord paramount of the island; it was a doctrine that secured the obedience of the people under all their oppressions. But since Elizabeth had separated from the catholic church, and stood excommunicated by the pontiff, this maxim, so convenient before, was become extremely inconvenient. To the political causes of discontent was now added the far more irritating one of violated religious faith, and has continued so till our time.
Under these circumstances the lord-deputy summoned the parliament, and soon found that though he had a majority of more than twenty protestants, the spirit of the catholics was such that he did not dare to proceed. Since the former parliament no less than seventeen new counties and forty new boroughs had been created, and these had been filled by men devoted to the measures of the crown; the boroughs, the catholics complained, had been put into the hands of attorneys' clerks and servants, and they expected nothing on the projected new plantations but evil affected persons, ready to insult and injure the old inhabitants. They objected to many of the returns; they complained that obsolete statutes had been revived for the purposes of oppression and spoliation; that all the catholics of noble birth were excluded from offices and posts of honour; that they were expelled from the magistracy; forbidden to educate their children abroad; that catholic barristers were not permitted to practise; catholic citizens excluded from all influence in the corporations; and the whole community subjected to fines, excommunications, and punishments, which diffused poverty and misery over the whole island.
The lord-deputy prorogued the impracticable assembly, and both parties appealed to the king. The catholics sent as deputies the lords Gormansbury and Dunboyne, and two knights and two barristers to plead their cause. The expense of the mission was defrayed by a general collection, which was made in spite of a severe proclamation against it. James received them at first graciously, but his anger soon broke out when he found them impervious to his controversial eloquence; and, as usual, he threw two of them into prison - Luttrel into the Fleet, and Talbot into the Tower. He soon had Talbot before the star-chamber, and strictly interrogated him on the point of loyalty to the crown, and he severely reprimanded the whole deputation on the same ground; but lord Delvin on his knees declared that he would ever be faithful to the king as his rightful liege, yet that nothing should ever induce him to abandon his religion. James dismissed them, after having appointed a commission of inquiry regarding the representatives of the new Irish boroughs, which decided that none of those four boroughs incorporated after the writs were issued, had a right to sit that session.
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