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Reign of William and Mary page 5


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The news of the defeat of Mackay caused consternation through the lowlands, and even to London, whither it was carried by couriers charged with earnest appeals to the king to hasten forces on to Scotland, to protect the people from the torrents of victorious barbarians from the mountains, who were with terror expected to devastate the whole country. The Scottish convention urged Hamilton to dismiss them, that they might provide for their safety; but fast on the heels of the first news came that of the certain death of Dundee, which at once reassured the country; for, without him, the highlanders were regarded as comparatively innocuous, as a body without a head. And this was very near the truth; for the command had now fallen on the Irish officer Cannon, who, with his ragamuffin brigade, was not likely to remain long very formidable. In fact, he very Boon managed to disgust the proud highland chieftains. Lochiel returned home, and many of the Celts, satisfied with their plunder, followed his example. Others, however, stimulated by the hope of similar good fortune, came rushing from their hills, adding, by their conflicting prejudices and wild insubordination, only to the weakness of the force. Cannon dispatched a party of the Robertsons into the lowlands to collect cattle and provisions for his army; but Mackay came upon them at St. Johnstones, and killed one hundred and twenty of them, and took thirty prisoners. This revived the spirit of his troops, and infused new confidence through the country. In fact, Mackay was an excellent general, and was unremitting in his exertions to renew the courage and discipline of his troops. He had seen the fatal effect of the clumsy use of the bayonets at Killiecrankie, and he lost no time in having them made to screw upon the muskets, so that these could be fired with them ready fixed.

And very soon he had need of all his generalship. The ministers at Edinburgh had ordered him to garrison Dunkeld with the Cameronian regiment newly raised. The town was unfortified; and in vain Mackay protested against exposing them thus to the attack of the whole body of the highlanders encamped at Blair castle. The highland army, led on by Cannon, came down, but were received with a spirit worthy of the old race of covenanters - were repulsed, and driven back with great slaughter. The young commander, lieutenant-colonel Cleland, and after him captain Monro, fell at the head of the besieged; but the victory was decisive. The highlanders dispersed with their booty to their homes; Cannon, with his disorderly Irish, escaped to the isle of Mull; the fame of Mackay and his troops was higher than ever, and the war in Scotland was at an end.

Before the battle of Killiecrankie the duke of Gordon had surrendered the castle of Edinburgh, and James had no longer a spot in Scotland which owned his sway or displayed his banner, except the Bass Rock, where a garrison of his managed to maintain themselves against all attempts, and with many adventures, till the beginning of 1694.

All this year, however, a political war had been waged by the discontented clubbists against the government of William in Scotland. They opposed and defeated every measure which the ministers proposed; they refused all supplies till their claims were complied with; they claimed for parliament a veto on the nomination of the judges, and thus put a stop to the business of the court of session; they tried all their force to ruin the Dalrymples, on the plea that they had been in the interest of James; they had both, they said, "served the bloody and idolatrous house." They succeeded in carrying an act to incapacitate all who had been once in that service, and, as they termed it, "had oppressed the people of God." The government of Scotland was at a dead lock; the legal as well as legislative business was at an end. The leaders of this opposition, Montgomery, the lords Annandale and Ross, the factious Sir Patrick Hume - who had ruined the expedition of Argyll, and now sought to ruin the government altogether - vowed that they would compel the king to do them right. But William could afford to wait, and towards the end of the year signs of the declining influence of the clubbists began to show themselves. The ministers opened the court of session, Sir James Dalrymple took his seat as head of the lords of session; and all the clamour of the club could not prevent the common sense of the public supporting the cause of law.

We have continued to this point the affairs of Scotland, that we might not interrupt the still more important transactions which at the same time took place in Ireland. On the 12th of March, two days before the opening of the Scottish convention, James' had landed in Ireland. That island was peculiarly open to the influence of James, for the bulk of the population were catholics, and they were thrown into a state of great excitement by the hope of being able to drive the protestants from their estates by his appearance there with a French army, of wreaking vengeance on them for all their past oppressions, and regaining their ancient patrimony.

From the moment almost that James had mounted the throne of England, he began his preparations for putting down protestantism in Ireland, and raising a military power there which should enable him to put it down also in England. The protestant judges had been removed one after another from the bench, so that little justice could be obtained in Irish tribunals by protestant suitors. The protestants were diligently weeded out of the army, and lying Dick Talbot, the earl of Tyrconnel, James's most obsequious tool, was his lord-lieutenant, and bent on carrying out his plans to the fullest extent. There arose a terrible panic amongst the protestants that a general massacre was contemplated, and the Englishry began to collect whatever of value they could carry with them, and escape across the channel into England or Wales. Tyrconnel sent for the leading protestants to Dublin, and protested with many oaths that the whole rumour was a malicious and groundless lie. Nobody, however, put any faith in his assurances, and the exodus rapidly increased, whilst such protestants as possessed any means of defence in towns, armed themselves, threw up fortifications, and determined to sell their lives dear. Such was the case at Kenmare, in Kerry; at Bandon, Mallow, Sligo, Charleville, Enniskillen, and Londonderry.

Such was the state of Ireland at the time of the landing of William at Torbay. Tyrconnel dispatched a body of popish infantry in December, 1688, to take possession of Enniskillen. The inhabitants summoned the protestants of the surrounding country to their aid, rushed out on the soldiers as they approached the gates of the town, and defeated them. They then appointed Gustavus Hamilton, a captain in the army, their governor, and determined to hold their own against the lieutenant-governor. Londonderry likewise shut its gates in the face of the earl of Antrim, who armed a popish regiment to garrison their town. This exploit was the work of thirteen apprentices, whose bold and decisive deed was quickly imitated by the rest of the inhabitants. The town was put into a posture of thorough defence, the country round was alarmed, the protestant gentry flocked in with armed followers, horse and foot, and Antrim thought it prudent to retire to Coleraine.

At another time Tyrconnel would have taken a bloody vengeance on the courageous protestants of Ulster, but matters in England appeared too critical to permit him such indulgence. He had recourse, therefore, to artifice. He dispatched lord Mountjoy, the master of the ordnance, with his regiment, which included many protestants, to Londonderry. Mountjoy was a protestant himself, though an adherent of king James; had much property in Ulster, and was highly respected there. The citizens of Londonderry willingly admitted him within their walls, and suffered him to leave a garrison there, consisting solely of protestant soldiers, under the command of lieutenant-colonel Lundy as governor. To the people of Enniskillen Mountjoy was less courteous; he somewhat curtly treated a deputation thence, and advised them to submit unconditionally to James. Tyrconnel even affected to enter into negotiation with William, and general Richard Hamilton was not very wisely dispatched by William to Ireland to treat with him. Hamilton had been in command under Tyrconnel till a very recent period, and had been sent by him with reinforcements to James in England. There, finding James had fled, he very coolly went over to William, and, strangely enough, was deemed sufficiently trustworthy to be returned to his old master as negotiator. He no sooner arrived than he once more declared for king James. Tyrconnel, however, did not himself so soon throw off the mask of duplicity. He protested to the prince of Orange that he was quite disposed to treat for the surrender of Ireland, and to the alarmed catholics of Ireland - who got some wind of his proceedings - that he had not the most distant idea of submitting. On the other hand, he prevailed on lord Mountjoy, who had so well served him at Londonderry, to go on a mission to James at St. Germains, professedly to procure a concession from James that his Irish subjects should submit to William for the present, and not rush into a contest to which they were unequal, but wait for better times. The real truth was, that James had already dispatched Captain Rush from St. Germains to Tyrconnel to assure him that he was coming himself with all haste with a powerful fleet and army. Tyrconnel was, therefore, desirous to get Mountjoy secured, as he was capable of uniting the protestants and heading them against the bloody butchery that James and Tyrconnel destined for them. Mountjoy somewhat reluctantly fell into the snare. He proceeded to France, accompanied by chief baron Rice, a fanatical papist, who had boasted that he would drive a coach and six through the act of settlement. Rice had secret instructions to denounce Mountjoy as a traitor, and to recommend James to make him fast. No sooner, therefore, did he present himself at St. Germains than he was clapped into the Bastille.

This act of diabolical treachery being completed, Tyrconnel now abandoned further disguise, and prepared to hand over the whole protestant population of Ireland to the exterminating fury of the catholic natives. "Now or never; now and for ever!" was the watchword of blood and death to all the Englishry. It was embroidered on the viceregal banner, and floated over the castle of Dublin. The catholics were called on to arm and secure Ireland for the Irish. The call was obeyed with the avidity of savages. Those who had not arms manufactured them out of scythes, forks, and other rural implements. Every smithy was aglow, every hammer resounding in preparation of pike and skean, the Irish long knife. By February, 1689, the army of Ireland was swelled with regulars and irregulars to a hundred thousand men. There was one universal shout of bacchanalian acclaim, and rush to secure the plunder of the protestants. The houses of the wealthy were ransacked, the cattle driven off, the buildings and even the heaths set fire to. The wild marauders roasted the slaughtered cattle and sheep at huge fires often made of timbers of the buildings, emptied the cellars, and sung infinite songs of triumph over the heretic Englishry, and of Ireland restored to its legitimate owners. What an Ireland it was likely to become under them was soon evident. They were not content to kill enough to satisfy their hunger, these demoniac children of oppression and ignorance, like wolves, destroyed for the mere pleasure of destroying; and D'Avaux, the French ambassador, who accompanied James over the country from Kinsale to Dublin, describes it as one black, wasted desert, for scores of miles without a single inhabitant, and calculates that in six weeks these infuriate savages had slaughtered fifty thousand cattle and three or four hundred thousand sheep.

Before such an inundation of fury and murder, the few protestant inhabitants were swept away like chaff before the wind. All the fortified towns and houses in the south were forced by the ruthless mob and soldiery, or were abandoned, and the people fled for their lives to seek an asylum in Ulster. Those of Kenmare managed to get across in a small vessel to Bristol.

In all this fearful scene of devastation Hamilton, who had home over as the emissary of William, was one of the most active and unpitying agents. Enniskillen and Londonderry were the only protestant places which now held out, and Hamilton commenced his march northward to reduce them. This march was only another avatar of desolation, like that which had swept the south and left the country a howling wilderness. Besides his regular troops, hosts of the self- armed and merciless Irish collected on his track, and burnt, plundered, and murdered without mercy. The people fled before the devilish rout, themselves burning their own dwellings, and laying waste with fire the whole district, so that it should afford no shelter or sustenance to the enemy. The whole of the protestant population retreated northwards, leaving even Lisburn and Antrim deserted. Thirty thousand fugitives soon found themselves cooped up within the walls of Londonderry, and many thousands in Enniskillen.

At this crisis James landed at Kinsale, and marched to Cork. He had brought no army, but a number of officers to command the Irish troops. His general-in-chief was count Rosen, a man of much military experience. Next to him was lieutenant-general Maumont, brigadier-general Pusignan, and four hundred other officers of different ranks. He was accompanied by count D'Avaux, who had been ambassador in England, a man clever, shrewd, keenly observant, and with as little mercy or principle as a devil. His object was to secure Ireland rather for Louis than for James, and lie served his master with cunning and zeal. James brought with him arms for ten thousand men, and abundance of ammunition, and a military chest of about a hundred and twenty thousand pounds sterling. Before quitting St. Germains Louis XIV. himself had paid James a parting visit, displayed towards him the most marked friendship, embraced him at parting, and told him the greatest good that he could desire for him was that they might never meet again. He also presented him with his own cuirass, which had not many dents in it from his own wars - Louis allowing Luxembourg and Turenne to do the fighting, himself only being occasionally in the camp to receive the honours; nor was it likely to receive many more bruises on the back of James.

Along with him came a troop of exiles, English and Irish swelling his train with the French on his landing to a body of about two thousand five hundred men. Amongst the leading exiles were his own son, the duke of Berwick, Cartwright, bishop of Chester, and the popish lords Powis, Dover, and Melfort - the last of them a man almost equally detested by all parties, and by those of both religions, for he was an apostate and a turncoat, and encouraged James in the most base and impolitic designs and sentiments. He was, in fact, a man after James's own heart, for he could love nothing that was honourable and upright.

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Pictures for Reign of William and Mary page 5

Death of Dundee
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