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Reign of Charles I. page 20

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As a first measure to raise money, he informed Charles at it would be necessary to call a parliament. The king, who had found parliaments too much for him, and was endeavouring to live without them, heard the proposal with consternation, and warned Went worth against such an attempt; but the lord deputy informed him that he had a plan by which he could manage them, and Charles wrote to him, consenting, but still warning. "As for that hydra, take good heed, for you know that here I have found it as veil cunning as malicious. It is true that your grounds are well laid, and I assure you that I have a great trust in your care and judgment; yet my opinion is, that it will not be the worse for my service though their obstinacy make you | to break them, for I fear they have some ground to demand more than it is fit for me to give."

Wentworth knew that very well, but meant to grant nothing of the kind. He sent out a hundred letters of recommendation in favour of the return of candidates on whom he could rely, and procured a royal order for the absent peers to send blank proxies, which he might fill up as he pleased. These were considerable in number, and consisted chiefly of Englishmen who had obtained their estates or titles from Charles or his father. Thus he secured a majority; and on opening parliament he informed the members that he meant to hold two sessions - one for the benefit of the king, the other for redressing the grievances of the people. Had the Irish noticed what had been going forward in England, they would have augured no good from such an arrangement, and might have followed the example of the English commons, who would always insist on stating their grievances before parting with their money. But the unfortunate Irish listened to the glozing tones of the lord deputy, who assured them that if they put their trust in him and the king they would have the happiest parliament that had ever sate in that kingdom. He talked of the misfortunes which had happened to the English parliament through distrusting the king - he himself having been one of the chief actors -in these distrusts - and assuring them that he was anxious to hasten to the second session and the removal of all their complaints, they voted him six subsidies of larger amount than had ever been granted before.

But when they came to the second session, awful was the astonishment, and terrible the consternation, of the liberal granters of subsidies. The shameless trickster coolly informed them that of the fifty-one graces promised them by the king, very few were of a kind which he, who knew the circumstances of the country, could grant. In vain they reminded him of his promises, and called on him to fulfil them: he now flashed out upon them like Satan starting up from his feigned shape at the touch of Ithuriel's spear. He gave them menaces instead of promises, launched at them the most biting sarcasms, the most injurious language, and made them appear a set of criminals rather than deceived and insulted legislators. His majority carried everything as he pleased, and after passing a few of the most insignificant of the graces, the bulk of them, containing all the important ones, he negatived, and dismissed the parliament.

He had been equally successful with the convocation. He obtained from it eight subsidies of three thousand pounds each, but he then refused to grant the conditions promised. It was the settled plan of the king, supported by Laud, to conform both the Scotch and Irish churches to the English, and Wentworth was the most unscrupulous agent in such a work that they could have. The Irish prelates informed him that their church was wholly independent of that of England, had its own articles, of the Calvinistic class, and owed no obedience to the see of Canterbury. He insisted, however, that they must admit the thirty-nine articles of England; it was not necessary to parade them before the people, but they must be admitted, and the old Irish articles might quietly die out. The prelates set about to frame a new code of ecclesiastical discipline; but to his surprise, he learned that they had rejected the English articles and retained their own. He sent for the archbishop and the committee, upbraided the chairman with suffering such a proceeding, took possession of the minutes, and ordered archbishop Usher himself to frame a canon authorising the English articles. Usher's production, however, did not satisfy him; he therefore drew up a form himself, and sent it to the convocation, commanding that no debate should take place, but the articles should be at once adopted, and informing them that every one's vote should be reported to him. Only one member of the whole convocation dared to vote against his will; the rest submitted, but with the utmost indignation.

Having thus with a high hand carried his measures - refused the confirmation of the graces, conformed the Irish to the English church in one session, and obtained such an amount of money as would not only pay off the debts of the crown, but would supply for some years the extraordinary demands of the government, he wrote exultingly to England, declaring that the king was as absolute in Ireland as any king in the world, and might be the same in England if they did their duty there. He boldly demanded an earl's coronet, on account of these services, which, however, Charles deferred for awhile, thinking that he should hold such a man to his work rather by the hope than the possession of high preferment. Wentworth was so delighted with his overruling the Irish parliament, that he proposed to the king to merely prorogue and not dissolve it, as being the most convenient instrument for effecting his further designs on the country. But Charles would not listen to it, remarking that parliaments were like cats, they ever grew cursed with age, and it was better to put an end to them early, young ones being most tractable. He thanked him for what he had done, and especially for saving him from the odium of breaking his promise about the graces.

How little did this bold bad man see that, whilst he was serving the king's worst purposes, he was preparing his own destruction. In fact, though he had stunned the Irish for a moment by the audacity of his bearing, he had struck deep into their souls a resentment that no man, however powerful or subtle, could withstand. He was, however, only on the threshold of the sweeping changes that he contemplated in that country, for he was resolved to reduce it to a condition of absolute dependence on the crown. He was not content with forcing the English articles on the Irish church, but he refused to the catholics every relief that Charles had pledged himself to in order to get their money. Instead of abolishing, as promised, the oppressive power of the court of wards, he gave them a more virulent activity. The catholic heir was still obliged to sue out the livery of his lands, and before he could obtain them, to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. To obtain his rightful property, he was thus compelled to abjure his religion. But he entertained a still more gigantic design, which was to seize on the fee-simple of the greater part of Ireland, on pretence of defective title,

We have seen that in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the titles of the great landed proprietors both in Connaught and Ulster had been called in question, and those monarchs had pretended to renew them on condition of certain payments. These conditions had been repeatedly fulfilled by the proprietors, but not by the crown. Charles, in 1628, amongst the other benefits promised, had engaged to ratify these titles; but Wentworth showed him the folly of doing that, whilst by alarming them on that head, he might draw immense sums from them, or get possession of the lands. To this detestable proposal Charles consented, and the experiment was begun with Connaught. Wentworth proceeded at the head of a commission, to hold an inquisition in every county of Connaught. He opened his proceedings at Roscommon, where he summoned a jury of "gentlemen of the best estates and understandings," that more weight might attach to their decisions, if favourable, or if adverse, he might levy heavy fines upon them. He assured the jury that his majesty merely meant to ascertain the condition of all titles, that if defective he might graciously render them legal. It was on this plea that the freeholders had been wheedled into the surrender of their deeds and patents beforetime by Elizabeth and James; but Wentworth added another alarming fiction. He contended that Henry III., reserving only five cantreds to himself, had given the remainder to Richard de Burgo, to be holden of him and his heirs of the crown, and that those tenures had now descended to the present king, by the marriage of the heirs of de Burgo with the royal line. According to this the king was the rightful owner of every acre of land in Ireland. He assured the jury, therefore, that it was their best interest to give a general verdict for the king, as he could without their consent establish his right, and if compelled to do that in opposition to them, the result must be much worse for them. By these means he induced the juries in Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo, Clare, and Limerick, to return a verdict in favour of the crown, but the people of Galway stoutly resisted. They declared that the title of the king, through Edward IV., from Richard de Burgo, could not be proved; there was a hiatus in the genealogy. They were all catholics, and were the more resolute from having been so shamefully deluded in the matter of wardship. Wentworth was rather glad to be able to make an example of them, and he therefore fined the sheriff one thousand pounds for returning so obstinate and perverse a jury, and dragged the jury into his star-chamber, the chamber of the castle, and fined them four thousand pounds a-piece. He fell with especial vindictiveness on the old earl of Clanricarde, and other great landowners of Galway, and set about to seize the fort of Galway, march a body of troops into the country, and compel it to submit to the king's will. The proprietors, incredulous that the king could know of or sanction such infamous breaches of faith and acts of oppression, sent over a deputation to Charles to lay the matter before him. But the king received them with reproaches, declared his full approval of the proceedings of the lord deputy, and sent them back to Ireland as state prisoners. The old earl of Clanricarde, whose son had been the head of the deputation, died soon after receiving the news of this shameful conduct of the monarch, and Wentworth wrote to Charles that he was accused of being the cause of his death. "They might as well," he added, haughtily, "impute to me the crime of his being three score and ten." He was still busily pursuing other noblemen with the same rancour, the earl of Cork, lord Wilmot, and others, when the catholic party in England, who had a friend in queen Henrietta, made their complaints heard at Whitehall. Laud, who was acting as outrageously himself in England, informed Wentworth of it, and even hinted more caution, observing that if he could find a way to do all those great services without raising so many storms, it would be excellently well thought of. But Wentworth was as little disposed to avoid storms as his adviser himself. He proceeded in the same autocratic style both towards the public and individuals. It had been the original intention to return to the proprietors three-fourths of their lands, and retain one fourth for the crown, amounting to about one hundred and twenty thousand acres, which were to be planted with Englishmen, on condition of yielding a large annual income to the crown. But now it was resolved to retain a full half of Galway as a punishment of its obstinacy, and Wentworth was proceeding with the necessary measurements, when his career proved at an end.

The individual acts of injustice which he perpetrated, were done at the suggestion of his profligate desires or personal revenge, with the most unabashed hardihood. He had seduced the daughter of Loftus, the lord chancellor of Ireland, wife of Sir John Gifford, and wanted to confer a good post on her relative, Sir Adam Loftus. Such an opportunity soon occurred by an inadvertent expression of Lord Mountnorris, vice-treasurer of Ireland. It happened one day that Annesley, a lieutenant in the army, accidentally set a stool on the foot of the lord deputy, when he was suffering from the gout. This lieutenant Annesley had some time before been caned in a paroxysm of passion by Wentworth, and Mountnorris hearing the incident of the stool mentioned at the table of chancellor Loftus, said - "Perhaps Annesley did it as his revenge, but he has a brother who would not have taken such a revenge." This being repeated to Wentworth, he treated the observation as a suggestion to Annesley to perpetrate a more bloody revenge; and though he dissembled his resentment for some time, he then accused Mountnorris, who was also an officer in the army, of mutiny, founded on this expression. Wentworth attended the court-martial to overawe its proceedings, and obtained a sentence of death against Mountnorris, The sentence was too atrocious to be carried into execution, but it served Wentworth's purpose, who cashiered Mountnorris, and gave his office to Loftus. Much as the Irish had suffered before, this most lawless act excited a loud murmur of indignation throughout Ireland; but Wentworth had secured himself from any censure from the king by handing him six thousand pounds as the price of the transfer of Mountnorris's treasurership to Sir Adam Loftus.

The tyrannies of Laud in England, and of Wentworth in Ireland, were now fast driving the more independent and religious people to New England. The trial of John Hampden had now taken place in London, and Wentworth, in the insolence of his success in Ireland, had written to Laud, recommending that the great patriot should be whipped like Prynne and Lilburne. "Mr. Hampden," he wrote, "is a great brother (meaning puritan), and the very brains of that nation of people leads them always to oppose, both civilly and ecclesiastically, all that ever authority ordains for them. But, in good faith, were they rightly served, they should be whipped hence into their right wits; and much beholden they should be to any that would thoroughly take pains with them in that sort."

Not even Charles and Laud, however, were daring enough to apply the whip to the back of the great English patriot; and though Hampden, Ms kinsman Oliver Cromwell, and Haselrig, contemplated emigrating to America, in a great scheme set on foot by the lords Say and Brook, they remained to see the heads of the champions of the "thorough" fall, and that of the king after them.

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