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IRELAND now (1688) exhibited a gloomy scene of opposition and dejection, of insolence and despair, of power exercised without decency, and injuries sustained without redress. That English interest which princes and statesmen had wisely laboured to establish in this country, was discouraged, depressed, and threatened with final extirpation. But new changes and new commotions were at hand. The pride, the obstinacy, and the bigotry of the King (James), his headstrong and insidious counsellors, his foreign enemies, the spirit of the old republicans not yet extinguished, the just and general indignation of subjects whose rights had been trampled down with scorn, their well-grounded fears for the constitution, their solicitude for religion, all conspired to produce a revolution, the most glorious and important of those events which dignify the annals of the British empire.
The Irish Catholics affected to despise the Prince of Orange and his attempt. They exclaimed that the States of Holland were weary of him, and therefore were sending him on a desperate enterprise, to end his days on a scaffold like the Duke of Monmouth. Nugent, the Lord Chief Justice, delivered these sentiments from the bench, and spoke with delight of English rebels hung up every where in clusters : but advices were soon received that the Prince had landed, that James was deserted by his subjects, that the Prince advanced, that he every day gained new adherents. The Irish and their Chief Governor forgot their pride, and sunk at once into consternation. Tyrconnel descended to flatter the Protestants, to boast of his equal and impartial govern. ment, and to court them to make the most favourable representations of his conduct. The English Protestants, on the other hand, were roused from their dejection ; and no sooner had they received intelli
gence of commissioners being sent by the King, and a treaty opened with the Prince of Orange, than the most spirited among them proposed to seize the castle of Dublin; but the uncertainty of events in England, the well-known severity of James, should he once be extricated from his present distress, and some hopes that Tyrconnel would of himself abandon the government, operated on the more cautious, and defeated this design. In the mean time new commissions were issued by Tyrconnel for levying forces. They were granted to all who would accept them, without paying even the fees of office. The Popish clergy enjoined their people to take arms in this time of danger. In every quarter of the kingdom an armed rabble suddenly started up, who called themselves the King's soldiers, and, unpaid and unrestrained by government, supported themselves by open depredations. The English inhabitants endeavoured to defend themselves against these marauders, and the whole country seemed gradually to decline from the order and security of social and civil life.
A letter addressed by an unknown person to Lord Mount-Alexander, in the county of Down, warned him of a general massacre intended by the Irish. The style was mean and vulgar: nor was the information on that account less plausible: it was confident and circumstantial, and pointed out Sunday the 9th day of December, as the precise time when this bloody design was to be executed, without distinction of sex, age, or condition. The like intelligence was conveyed to some other gentlemen of the northern province; and whether these letters were the contrivance of artifice, or the effect of credulity, their influence was wonderful. Men habitually possessed with horror of Irish barbarity, who in the very scene of all the sufferings of their fathers, had listened from their infancy to hideous narratives of the insurrection in the year 1641, who were now exposed to the insolence and violence of the Irish, and ready to catch the alarm at the least appearance of commotion, could not hesitate a moment to give credit to these informations. They were confirmed by some suspicious circumstances. Popish priests had announced to their congregations what they called " a secret intention," and enjoined them to stand ready armed to obey their orders. It was remembered that a friar of Derry had preached with unusual energy on the subject of Saul's destroying the Amalekites, and the iniquity of sparing those whom divine vengeance had devoted to destruction. Lord Mount-Alexander's letter was instantly sent to Dublin ; copies multiplied; the intelli. gence was conveyed through all orders of men. In a moment the capital became a scene of uproar and confusion; the guards of the Lord-Deputy stood astonished ; the castle bridge was drawn up, while a tumultuous crowd of men, women, and children, ran precipitately to the shore, imploring to be conveyed away from the daggers of the Irish. In vain did Tyrconnel dispatch two lords to assure them of security and protection; their remonstrances were drowned in clamour, shrieking and wailing. An unusual number of vessels lay in the harbour; the people crowded them in an ecstasy of terror and impatience, leaving their less successful friends stupified with expectation of the fatal blow.
The dreadful intelligence was soon conveyed to every part of Ireland. In some places it was received on the very day assigned for the massacre. The people started suddenly from their devotions, fled astonished, propagated the panic, and thus swelled the crowds of fugitives ; some gained the coast and were transported to England, others sought shelter in walled towns and Protestant settlements, leaving their effects and habitations to the mercy of Irish plunderers. In the porthern counties, where the Protestants were most numerous, they collected the arms still left among them, resolving to defend themselves, and already meditating the design of rising against the present government.
Of all the northern cities, Derry, or London-Derry (as it is called), afforded principal shelter to the fugitive Protestants. Seated on the west side of the Lake Foyle, it maintained a communication by a ferry, with the county called by the same name with the capital: it was surrounded by a firm wall, strengthened by bastions, but was by no means sufficient to sustain the siege of a regular army. On the first alarm of an invasion of England by the Prince of Orange, Tyrconnel had recalled the garrison of this city to Dublin. It consisted of a regiment well disciplined and appointed ; it was under the command of Lord Mountjoy, son of Primate Boyle ; and being for the most part composed of Protestants, was acceptable to the inhabitants. Tyrconnel soon perceived the error of leaving this city to the government of the townsmen, and detached the Earl of Antrim's regiment, consisting entirely of Papists, Irish and Highlanders, to take their quarters in Derry. A body of twelve hundred men, tall and terrible in their aspect, followed by a crowd of women and children, arrived at a village called Limavady, within twelve miles of Derry, at the very moment when the inhabitants received the information of an intended massacre, and were deliberating on this important intelligence. The proprietor of this village was terrified at the disorder and turbulence of a body, which, in this time of suspicion, seemed rather the instruments of slaughter and barbarity than the regular forces of government. He instantly dispatched the most alarming accounts to Derry of the number, appearance, and destination of his guests, conjuring the citizens to shut their gates against the barbarous crew. His letter found them already alarmed by the general reports of danger. They were collected in their streets, conferring earnestly, some resolute, some wavering, some wishing to exclude the Popish forces without appearing to take part in the attempt. Tomkins and Norman, two aldermen, consulted the bishop; the bishop, cautious from years, and, by his principles, an enemy to resistance, preached peace and submission. Some graver citizens concurred with him; others affected to concur. The troops approached, two of their officers were already in the town to provide quarters; and an advanced party appeared within three hundred yards of the ferrygate. In this critical moment, nine young men of the populace, with an enthusiastic ardour, drew their swords, snatched up the keys of the city, raised the draw-bridge, locked the ferry-gate, were instantly joined by numbers of their own rank, secured the other gates, assem. bled in the great square, deaf to all timid counsels and remonstrances, seized the magazine, and were soon countenanced and applauded by men of better condition. The body of the inhabitants caught the same spirit, and declared for a brave defence. Their numbers were quickly increased by a conflux from the neighbouring districts; the magazine afforded them some few arms, and a small quantity of ammunition, Philips of Limavady, the man who first encouraged them to this enterprise, was chosen their governor. They threatened to fire on the King's soldiers, and conjured their neighbours to concur with them in defence of their lives, their properties, and religion.
To the society of London they immediately transmitted an account of their dangers and proceedings; and Cairnes, the most considerable of their party, was commissioned to solicit succours from the Prince of Orange. At the same time, their magistrates and graver citizens, anxious for the event of an enterprise commenced under every disadvantage, addressed themselves to Lord Mountjoy, and, by his mediation, to Tyrconnel. They set forth their utter inability to restrain the populace, terrified by the rumours of a massacre, and the outrages of the new raised regiment; ascribing their insurrection to Providence, who had stirred them up for their own safety and the public peace, against the wild attempts of the northern Irish. They declared their resolution to confine themselves entirely to self-defence, without violating their allegiance; at the same time, they represented the vast number of northern Protestants who had been driven to take arms from the same fears, and for the same purposes.
Tyrconnel, too late, perceived his error in withdrawing his garrison from Derry, and endeavoured to correct it. Lord Mountjoy, and Lundy, his lieutenant-colonel, were instantly remanded to Ulster with six companies, and ordered to reduce this city. Mountjoy, a Protestant lord, was highly acceptable to the inhabitants ; his Popish forces they detested. They disclaimed all mutinous and seditious purposes, but still expressed their firm purpose to defend themselves. After va. rious conferences, Mountjoy was admitted upon conditions. It was particularly stipulated that a free pardon should be granted within fifteen days; that, in the mean time, two companies only should be quartered in the city ; that the forces afterwards admitted should be formed ne half of Protestants at least ; that until the pardon were received, the citizens should keep the guards, and that all should be left at li. berty who desired to remove. Tyrconnel had now the mortification of finding the people of Derry assuming the power of purging and modelling his forces, and dismissing and disarming his Popish soldiers. Mountjoy assumed the command of their city, and was obeyed as a friend and associate. By his advice the arms were repaired, money cheerfully subscribed, ammunition purchased in Scotland, and Cairnes, the agent, earnestly solicited to procure supplies.
The northern Protestants beheld the spirit of the men of Derry with a generous emulation. Enniskilling, the only borough-town in the county of Fermanagh, situated on an island in the narrow part of Lake Erne, and inhabited by a few resolute Protestants, refused admittance to two companies of Tyrconnel's Popish army. In Downe, Donegal, Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan, parties arose under the direction of Mount-Alexander, Blaney, Rawdon, Skeffington, and other leaders. Their a :sociations were published in the several counties, declaring, that they had united for self-defence and the Protestant religion; that they resolved to act in subordination to the government of England, and to promote a free Parliament. County councils were nominated, and a general council, to meet at Hillsborough, which appointed officers, and directed the operations of the associated body.
The deputy (Tyrconnel) had too long suffered the Northern ås. sociators to proceed unmolested, awed by Lord Inchiquin in Munster, who appeared in arms with more zeal than strength; in Connaught by Lord Kingston, who stood at the head of the Protestants in this province, and preserved a communication with their brethren of Ul. ster. The Northerns had attempted to reduce Carrickfergus, but without success; and, though their powers were greatly magnified, yet the men were inexperienced, their officers unskilful, their ammunition utterly insufficient, their arms such as they had secreted on the general order for disarming Protestants. These defects were supplied by zeal and ardour. On assurances of supplies from England, they holdly proclaimed William and Mary in the North-eastern towns. But their exultation was speedily allayed. A proclamation by the deputy commanded them to lay down their arms and to dissolve their assemblies; and they had the mortification to find it subscribed by Lord Granard, and some other Protestant councillors. General Hamilton marched against them with a formidable body of troops. They abandoned Newry; they retired gradually to Dromore; here they were overtaken by the enemy; they fled before their superior numbers, and were pur. sued with slaughter; they gained Hillsborough, but quickly abandoned this town, resigned the castle, and continued their flight. They seemed entirely broken; several fled to Britain, others accepted protections from the Irish army. But by the spirit and authority of MountAlexander, Rawdon, and other leaders, about 4000 were still kept embodied, and took their station at Coleraine, in order to prevent the enemy from passing the river Bann; at the same time, those of the North-West poured into Enniskilling as their place of refuge. · The Irish army were so totally engaged in riot and plundering, that the confederates had time to collect, and to fortify Coleraine. Hither Lord Blaney found it necessary to lead his party from Armagh. The garrisons of Charlemont and Mountjoy were informed of his motions, and attempted to intercept him, by seizing the bridge at a place named Artrea. He was more alert, and secured the pass just at the moment of their approach. They advanced; he drew up his men and marched to attack them; they fled, were pursued and slaughtered; and this inconsiderable advantage served to animate the Northerns. Coleraine was attacked, and the enemy bravely repulsed; but the place was not long found tenable. The Irish, after a successful skirmis!, passed the Bann in boats, and the Northerns hasted by various routes to Derry, before the enemy should cut them off from this their last refuge.
From the time of Lord Mountjoy's departure, the government of this city, and the principal direction of the North-eastern counties had been resigned to Lundy, a man who flattered the Protestants by declarations of attachment to their cause, and resolution of fighting bravely, at least against the tyrannical and illegal government of Tyrconnel. Notwithstanding these public professions, he was suspected