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writers, whose object it is to prove that the parliament of England was entitled neither by right or precedent to bind by its acts the people of Ireland,* should yet have taken as the main foundation of their argument the act of a parliament at Oxford, which, without any reference whatever to the consent of the people affected by its legislation, constituted a youth of only twelve years of age king of Ireland.
The solemn enactment, in our own times, of a legislative union between the two countries, would seem to have reduced the question, here noticed, to a mere theme of curious historical speculation; and certainly, on no slight grounds should the claims of Ireland to legislative independence be again put forth as a practical question. But should the course of political events ever bring back into public discussion a subject now quietly left to repose in the page of the historian and the antiquary, the right of Ireland to legislate for herself must assuredly be asserted on some more tenable grounds than the obsolete grant of her realm to a stripling king, or the occasional pretensions of the English parliament of the Pale.
The deputy appointed by John to the government of this country, on the accession of his brother Richard, was Hugh de Lacy, son of the first lord of Meath; in consequence of which, John de Courcy, finding himself, unfairly, as he thought, supplanted, retired dissatisfied to his own possessions in Ulster, and there assumed, in the midst of his followers, a tone and attitude of independence which threatened danger to the English interests in that quarter. In the mean while the native princes, encouraged by the diversion to the shores of the East, under Richard's banner, of the energies and resources of England, began to form plans among themselves of combined warfare against the foreigners, and even to suspend their intestine quarrels for the general object of crushing the common foe. In Connaught, where still some lingering pretensions to the sovereignty were kept alive, two of the ill-fated race of O'Connor were at this time contending for the barren prize; and a battle fought between the two factions, in which each could boast of English auxiliaries in its ranks, terminated in favour of Cathal O'Connor, called, from the number of battles fought by him, O'Connor of the Bloody Hand. With the strange notions of piety prevalent in those times, when the God of peace was A. D. made a party in every sanguinary feud, this devout warrior founded an abbey on 1190. the spot where the battle was won, and called it, in remembrance of that fortunate event, the Abbey of the Hill of Victory.
Among the chiefs who agreed at this crisis to postpone their mutual feuds, and act in concert against the enemy, were O'Brian of Thomond, and Mac Carthy of Desmond, here. ditary rulers of north and south Munster, and chiefs respectively of the two rival tribes, the Ďalcassians and the Eugenians. By a truce now formed between these princes, O'Brian was left free to direct his arms against the English; and, having attacked their forces at Thurles, in O'Fogarty's Country, gave them a complete overthrow, putting to the sword, add the Munster Annals, a great number of their knights. We have seen already how deeply the course and character of this warlike chief were marked with the taint of those habits of treachery which a long life of faction is sure to engender. Notwithstanding the truce he had now entered into with Mac Carthy, we find him, at no long interval after, encouraging secretly the views of the English on that prince's possessions, and even allowing them to erect a fort, the castle of Breginnis, within his own territories, to protect and facilitate their hostile incursions into the teritory of his rival.† While some of the natives were thus bringing disgrace on the Irish name, the English colonists had begun, even thus early, to exhibit symptoms of that state of degeneracy and insubordination into which at a later period we shall find them so shamefully sunk. The independent position assumed by De Courcy on his usurped territory, setting at de
Among the countless dilemmas and embarrassments which would arise practically out of such a state of relationship between the two countries as Molyneux's theory would establish, that which must arise on the accession of a new monarch to the throne of England is thus keenly put by the ablest and acutest of his opponents, Carey, a merchant of Bristol. Molyneux having allowed that a king declared by the parliament of England, though he was not king before such declaration, becomes thereby, ipso facto, king of Ireland, the Bristol merchant thus entangles him in his own argument:-" Is it any better than contradiction to hold that a king of England, as created or declared in a parliament of England, is thereby, or at the same instant, king of Ireland, and yet that Ireland is a kingdom so complete in itself, that he is no king till the act of parliament, creating or declaring him king, is confirmed by a parliament in Ireland? Or, take it the other way,no act of parliament in England is of any force till confirmed in Ireland; and yet a king declared by a parliament of England, though he was not king before such declaration, is thereby, or ipso facto, king of Ireland; -that is, an act of parliament of England is not of force in Ireland till confirmed there, and yet is of force, ipso facto, by being enacted here. Does it not, therefore, follow that such an annexation of Ireland to the crown of England as makes the king of England, ipso facto, king of Ireland, destroys the supposition that their parliaments have authority to confirm or reject laws made by the legislature of England? or otherwise, that the supposition of such an authority in the parliament of Ireland destroys that annexation which Mr. Molyneux himself yields?"
It is to be regretted that Dr. Lanigan should have suffered his nationality to prevail so far over his sense of right and wrong, as to lead him, in recording the death of O'Brian, to call him" that good and brave prince."— Chap. xxxi. § 10.
fiance the delegate of royalty,-the spectacle of English soldiers opposed to each other in the ranks of contending Irish chieftains,-these and a few other such anomalies, which began to present themselves, at this period, were but the foretaste of evils inevitably yet to come; the first stirring of embryo mischiefs which time and circumstances brought, at a later period, to baneful maturity.
In the year 1194 died Donald O'Brian, king of Thomond and Ormond,—a prince, whose mixture of warlike and religious propensities rendered him popular 1194. alike among the laity and the clergy of the country. The wrong done by him to the cause of Irelands independence, by being among the first of the native princes who proffered submission to Henry II., was in some degree atoned for, though never to be repaired, by the vigour and obstinacy of his resistence afterwards to the English, on finding that their object was to make of himself and his brother princes not merely tributaries but slaves. One of the last acts of his long and stormy life was, as we have seen, to add to the redeeming portion of his long career, by a brilliant victory over the invaders. He was succeeded in the principality by his eldest son, Mortogh Dall, a chief who had, in like manner, tarnished his name by defection from the national cause, having been the first that introduced the English into Munster (1177,) and for the old, factious purpose of employing them as auxiliaries against his own kinsmen and neighbours, the Eugenians of Desmond.
Of the numerous religious houses established by Donald O'Brian, a due and grateful remembrance is cherished in our ecclesiastical annals. Besides several monastic foundations, he established a nunnery for Augustin canonesses at Kiloen, in the Barony of Islands; and formed also an establishment, under the name of St. Peter, in the city of Limerick, for black nuns of the order of St. Augustin.* To him also Limerick and Cashel were indebted for their respective cathedrals; his own palace having been bestowed upon the Church for the foundation of the former structure,† while the great cathedral of Cashelf was erected by him, adjoining king Cormac's chapel, which beautiful building was made from thenceforth to serve as a vestry or chapter house.
After a struggle, not without bloodshed, among the remaining sons of Donald,—the aid of the English being called in by one of the contending factions,-Carbrach, the youngest brother, was raised to the sovereignty, though clearly with but nominal power, as it appears that the capital of his kingdom, Limerick, was in the year 1195 under the rule of English authorities.
In the mean time, the quick change of deputies, in the administration of the colony, showed how uneasy and difficult was the task. After a short, but apparently unsuccessful experiment of office, Hugh de Lacy was succeeded by William Petit, for whom, shortly after, we find substituted William Marshall, or Mareschall, second earl of Pembroke. This powerful nobleman, who, in right of his new dignity, bore the golden staff and cross at the coronation of Richard I., had, together with his earldom, received from that monarch the band of Isabel, daughter and heir of the late earl, and became thus invested with her princely Irish possessions. But, whatever advantage this connexion with the country may have given him, the results of his government were by no means prosperous. Presuming on the tameness with which the Irish had yielded to aggression, their haughty invaders now began to add insult to wrong but not with equal impunity. Far more alive to contempt than to injury, those who had witnessed unmoved the destruction of their ancient monarchy, now flew to arms with instant alacrity, under the sure goad of English insolence and scorn; and the two most active and popular of the native princes, Cathal of Connaught and Mac Carthy of Desmond, held forth their ever ready banner to all whose war cry was vengeance against the English. So great was the success, accordingly, of the national cause, during the short government of the earl Marshall, that, in spite of the perfidy which, as usual, found its way into the Irish councils, Mac Carthy, aided by the forces of Cathal and those of O'Lochlin, succeeded in re
*Lanigan, chap. xxxi. § 10.
Ferrar's history of Limerick, at St. Mary's Church.
The Cistercian Abbey of Holy Cross. A famous abbey, heretofore," says Camden, “which makes the country about it to be commonly called the country of the Holy Cross of Tipperary. This church enjoys certain privileges granted in honour of a piece of Christ's Cross preserved there." See Lanigan, ch. xxx. § 2. also Dr. Milner's Inquiry, &c. Letter 14; and Mr. Crofton Croker's Researches in the South of Ireland. chap, xiv
According to Prynne, this ceremony was not introduced till a later period:-"This is to be observed," he says, that, though there were divers lords marshals of England before the reign of Richard II., yet Richard II., created Tho. Mowbray, first earl marshal of England, per nomen Comitis Mareschalli Angliæ. He and his successor earl marshal being enabled by this charter to carry a golden staff before the king, and in all other places, with the king's arms at the top of it, and his own at the lower end, when all the marshals before his creation carried only a wooden staff.”—On the Institutes, Chap. 1.
ducing several of the garrisons in Munster, and, after a siege of some duration, compelled Cork itself to surrender to his arms.
Discouraged and mortified by these reverses, the earl Marshall willingly resigned the reins of authority to Hamo de Valois, who finding, on his arrival, the government A. D. embarrassed, for want of means, made no scruple of commencing his career by a 1197. forcible invasion of the property of the Church. Notwithstanding the angry remonstrances of Cuming, archbishop of Dublin, Hamo persisted in his design,-seizing several lands belonging to the see of Dublin, and taking possession also of the temporalities of the church of Leighlin, together with the property of the canons. The indignant archbishop, after having, in vain, tried entreaty, remonstrance, and excommunication, in utter despair, at length, of redress from the Irish authorities, laid the sentence of interdict on his diocess, and departed for England to invoke the interference of the throne. But neither earl John nor king Richard appear to have afforded him any remedy. Among the letters of Pope Innocent III. written at this time, and containing some curious particuJars respecting the Irish Church,* there is one addressed to earl John, complaining angrily of the outrageous conduct of his deputy, and desiring him to compel that officer to restore to the church and canons of Leighlin the temporalities of which he had despoiled them. In the mean while Hamo, who had enriched himself amply by these exactions, was recalled from the government of the country, and Meyler Fitz Henry, one of the earliest of the adventurers in the Irish wars, was appointed his successor in the office. In the following year died, at the advanced age of 82, Roderic O'Connor, the last of the monarchs of Ireland, who during ten years of his life reigned over Connaught alone, for the eighteen following wielded the sceptre of all Ireland, and 1198. finally devoted the thirteen remaining years of his existence to monastic seclusion and repentance. A mistaken zeal for the national honour has induced some writers on Irish history to endeavour to invest the life and character of this unfortunate prince with some semblance of heroic dignity and interest. In their morbid sympathy with his own personal ruin and fall, they seemed to forget that, by his recreant spirit, he brought down a kingdom along with him, and entailed subjection and its bitter consequences upon his country through all time. But it is in truth idle to waste words on the personal character of such a man; the only feeling his name awakens being that of pity for the doomed country, which, at such a crisis of its fortunes, when honour, safety, independence, national existence, were all at stake, was cursed for the crowning of its evil destiny, with a ruler and leader so utterly unworthy of his high calling. How much the fate of an entire nation may depend on the domestic relations of its ruling family, is strikingly exemplified in the instances both of Roderic and of Henry, whose struggles and contentions with their own children gave a direction to their public measures, of which the subsequent history of both countries has deeply felt the influence. Had not Henry been called away, by a dark conspiracy within his own family, from applying his powerful mind to the conquest and settlement of Ireland, far different might have been the destiny of that ill-starred land. Had the house of Roderic, on the other hand, united in defence of their rights, and thus set an example of zealous co-operation to others, a more healthful confidence in themselves and their rulers might have been awakened in the people of Ireland, a brave resistance would have won from the conqueror respect and forbearance towards the vanquished, and, at least, the disgrace of unnatural treachery would not have been added to that of insignificance and weakness.
One of the few circumstances of Roderic's life that deserve to be mentioned with any honour, was the effort made by him to recall to life the now almost extinct learning of the country, by his patronage of the schools of Armagh, and by the annual endowment, first established under his auspices, for the head-master of that institution. It is worthy of remark, too, as affording an instance of those strange contrasts which Irish society, as we have seen, so frequently presents, that this annual pension for the encouragement of a school, to which the lovers of learning resorted from all parts of Europe, was, according to the custom of rude, uncivilized times, paid in oxen.
* One of these letters refers to an attempt made by an ecclesiastic named Daniel, to impose upon the Pope by means of forged letters, professing to have been written by certain Irish bishops, recommending Daniel as a person qualified to fill the vacant see of Ross. Dr. Lanigan, in referring to this letter of Pope Innocent, mentions that one of the candidates for the bishopric is designated therein by the initial letter of his name. But it will be seen, from the following extract, that all the candidates are so designated :-" Propter quod idem predecessor noster causam eorum vobis fratres Casselen et Laomen (al. Laarensis) Episcopi sub ea forma commisit,ut de forma et processu electionis memorati D. solicitè quæreretis, et si eum electum canonicè fuisse constaret, ipsum faceretis pacifica possessione gaudere; alioquin inter prædictos F. et. E. audiretis causam et cujus electionem canonicam et magis rationaliter factam inveniretis, &c. &c."-Letters of Pope Innocent III., published by Baluzius, tom. i. 1. 1. ep. 364.
Thrown back as the country had been by the harassing events of the century just now closed, into a state of confusion and disorganization, differing but little, in its general aspect, from barbarism, it could not be expected that her native literature would escape the prevailing eclipse, or leave any names behind which even the antiquary would consider worthy of preservation. There is still extant, however, a Metrical Catalogue of the kings of Ireland, composed, in this age, by a learned antiquary named Giolla Moduda, abbot of Ardbracken, in Meath. This chronological poem, which is frequently referred to, as of high authority, by Irish scholars, was written during the reign of the great Turlogh O'Connor; and it is a proof alike of the courage and the professional trustworthiness of the antiquary, that he ventured to deny to that powerful monarch, then in the full flow of success, any place in the series of Ireland's legitimate kings.
To Celcus, or Cellach, the eminent archbishop of Armagh, who died A. D. 1129, Bale has attributed a Book of Constitutions and other writings; but apparently on no better grounds than he has for bestowing upon him a wife and children, and sending him to be educated at Oxford. With as little foundation, probably, has a Life of St. Malachy been attributed to Congan, one of those Irish correspondents of St. Bernard, whose entreaties, as he tells us, induced him to undertake a Life of St. Malachy himself.*
For whatever insight we may have gained, previously to the epoch of the English invasion, into the social condition and habits of the Irish, we are indebted solely to the testimony of the Irish themselves; for it is a singular fact that, so long had this people remained secluded from all the rest of the world, that the account given of them by the Welsh ecclesiastic Giraldus, who went thither, as we have seen, in the train of prince John, was the first and only one known to have been writen by a foreign visiter of that country, from the days of Himilco and the Greek geographers down to the time of Henry II. With the aid, therefore, of this light, but following cautiously its guidance, I shall proceed to offer some brief remarks respecting the social and moral condition of the Irish people, at the gloomy period we have now reached; and if not to throw around it any very favourable colouring, at least to show that it has been represented too darkly by others.
To those pre-occupied by the picture drawn in the pages of Giraldus of the low state of civilization among the Irish at this time, it would be difficult, I fear, to suggest any consideration that would weaken the hold his authority has taken of their minds. There are indeed few enormities, whether in morals or manners, that are not attributed by him to the natives. In estimating the value, however, of his testimony, the character of the man himself ought to be taken into account; and, finding him so ready a believer and reporter of all sorts of physical marvels and monsters, we should consider whether a taste for the morally monstrous may not also have inspired his pen, and induced him, in a similar manner, to impose as well upon himself, perhaps, as his readers. He who gravely tells of a certain race of people in Ossory,t who were, every seven years, transformed into wolves, would hardly hesitate at the easier effort of giving them also wolfish habits and dispositions.
There is yet another feature of his character as a censor, which must be attended to in appreciating the value of his censure, and that is, this proportion always found to exist between his general charge and the facts which he cites to support it. The Irish people he pronounces to be faithless, cruel, inhospitable, and barbarous; and as long as he deals thus only in generalities, the imagination is left at large to divine the extent to which all these vices may have been carried. But whenever, as in the following instance, he subjoins proofs of the alleged charge, the mind is relieved by knowing definitely the amount of the transgression. "This people," he says, "are a most filthy race; a race of all others the most uninformed in the very rudiments of faith,-they do not as yet pay tithes or first-offerings." He then adds the charge before noticed, respecting what he calls their "incestuous" marriages, meaning thereby marriages within that degree of consanguinity which the canons of the church had proscribed.
Another consideration which I have more than once endeavoured to press upon the reader's mind is, that at all periods of Ireland's course with which we are acquainted, so wide has been the interval, in civilization and social comforts, between her highest and
* In St. Bernard's Preface to this work, which is addressed to Congan, he says, "Tu id mihi Abba Congane, injungis..... ac tecum pariter (ut ex Hybernia scribis) vestra illa omnis ecclesia sanctorum, libens obedio.
He makes one of these Ossorian wolves tell his own story ;-" De quodam hominum genere sumus Os. syriensium, unde quolibet septennio per imprecationem sancti cujusdam Natalis scilicet Abbatis....formam enim humanam prorsus exuentes, induunt lupinam."
"Gens enim hæc, gens spurcissima, gens vitiis involutissima, gens omnium gentium in fidei rudimentis incultissima:-Nondum enim decimas vel primitias solvunt."-Topog. Dist. 3. c. 19.
lowest classes, that no conclusion founded solely on acquaintance with one part of her population can furnish any analogies by which to judge of the real condition of the other. Giraldus himself appears to have been aware of this peculiarity in the structure of Irish society, or at least to have been puzzled by the contrasts resulting from it; and hence his summary of the character of the people is, that "where they are good you will find none better,-where they are bad, none worse."*
In his account of the clergy of the country, there are but few dark shades interspersed. He speaks of them as commendable for their attention to all religious duties, and possessing, among various other virtues which he allows to them, the "prerogative of chastity" in an eminent degree. He lauds also their exceeding abstinence and sparingness of food; though in wine, he says, they were accustomed, after the fast and toils of the day, to indulge more freely than was becoming. He repeats, however, his commendation of the blameless purity of their lives, which, notwithstanding this indulgence, they most strictly, he admits, preserved. Altogether, his tribute to the character of the Irish clergy (though of the bishops he complains as slothful and inattentive to their duty) is such as, at any period, it would be honourable to a clerical body to receive.
One of his charges against the Irish prelates was, that, from the time of St. Patrick's mission, not a single Irish bishop had suffered martyrdom for the faith; and, on his advancing, one day, this opinion, in the presence of Maurice, achbishop of Cashel, whom he describes as a learned and discreet man, that prelate thus significantly replied to him: "It is true our nation may seem to be barbarous, uncultivated, and cruel; yet have they always shown reverence and honour to men of the church, nor ever would raise their hands in violence against the saints of God. But there is now come among us a people, who not only know how, but have been accustomed to make martyrs. henceforth, therefore, Ireland will, like other nations, have her martyrs." ||
In his account of the state of manufactures and the useful arts among the Irish, Giraldus falls into no less inconsistencies than on the subject of their morals and manners. For while, on the one hand, he tells us that they had no sort of merchandize, nor practised any mechanical art whatsoever, he informs us, on the other, of articles common among them, such as cloth dresses, fringes, linen shirts, military weapons well steeled, musical instruments, and other works of art, all implying a certain advancement in different trades and handicrafts. T He mentions a book, also which he had seen at Kildare, containing a Concordance of the Four Gospels, according to the correction of St. Jerome; and which is described by him as so beautifully painted and embellished with innumerable emblems and miniatures, that you might be sure, he adds, it was the workmanship not of human, but of angelic hands.**
*"Est enim gens hæc cunctis fere in actibus immoderata et in omnes affectus vehementissima. sic mali, deterrimi sunt et nusquam pejores: ita et bonis meliores non reperies." The learned Petavius (Petau) attributes, almost in the same words, the same character to the ancient Athenians.-Orat. 8.
Inter varias quibus pollet virtutes, castitatis prærogativa præeminet atque præcellet." c. 27. "Inter tot millia vix unum invenies, qui post jugem tam jejuniorum quam orationum instantiam, vino variisque potionibus diurnos labores enorimius quam deceret, noctu non redimat.”— Ibid.
Unde et hoc pro miraculo duci potest, quod ubi vina dominantur, Venus non regnat."
"Verum est, inquit ; quia licet gens nostra Barbara, nimis inculta et crudelis esse videtur, veris tamen Ecclesiasticis honorem magnum, et reverentiam semper exhibere solebant, et in sanctos Dei nulla occasione manum extendere. Sed nunc in regnum gens advenit quæ martyres et facere novit et consuevit. A modo Hibernia, sicut aliæ regiones, martyres habebit."-Dist. iii. c. 32.
Item non lino vel lanificio, non aliquo mercimoniorum genere, nce ulla mechanicarum artium specie vitam producunt."-Dist. iii. c. 10. See Gratianus Lucius, c. 12, where he clearly proves, from Giraldus's own showing, that the Irish must have had "carminatores, tinctores, metrices, textores, fullones, panni tonsores, et sartores."
**Ut vere hæc omnia angelica potius quam humana intelligentia jam asseveraveris esse composita.”— Dist. ii. c. 38.