Some readers, by this time, may be disposed to say, we have had enough of Fronde: he is already a notoriously convicted Impostor, and no historian: and it is making too much of him to keep pursuing him in this way. Certainly, it is making too much of Froude, himself, whose literary pretensions I estimate very low, and whose historic merits are far less than nothing. He composes fiction in a picturesque style: and ought to have confined himself to that species of composition. He could match Mrs. Emma Southworth, or our graphic fellow-countryman Captain Mayne Reid. If he would contribute a striking tale of horror to the New York Weekly Fee-Faw, he could command more per column than ever did Sylvanus Cobb; but he had no call to the writing of history. However, it still seems needful to expose a little more of his “misdealing,” as Prendergast mildly terms it, in the matter of the great “Massacre” of 1641.”
You who would form an independent opinion on the matter, I would advise you to read (whatever else you read) Sir John Temple’s History of the Rebellion, and Dr. Borlase’s History of it. Temple was, as I said, an eye-witness. Borlase’s book contains, in the appendix, large selections from the evidence taken on oath before the Commissioners at Dublin.”
This is from the Impostor’s last lecture, in reply to Father Burke. His main authority for the whole story is still Temple, whom he calls an “eye-witness;” though in fact Temple was never out of Dublin all that time, and the alleged “Massacre” was seventy or eighty miles off: for Borlase is but a reproduction of Temple’s History, and they are both founded wholly upon the famous Depositions. In this passage, then, as well as in his new Book, Froude commits himself and his readers entirely to the testimony of the eloquent Master of the Rolls: and he does not whisper one hint of the fact, that Sir John Temple himself, a few years later, tried to suppress that Book. Froude knows of course (for what is there that he does not know!) – but thinks his readers may not have met with, the published “Letters of his Excellency Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.” It is no abstruse State-paper pigeon-hole I refer him to: the book was printed in London, 1770, a fair quarto; and it stands upon the shelves of all historic libraries; and we learn from it, that, in the year 1674, Lord Essex was soliciting from the English Government a considerable grant for Temple – five hundred pounds a year, “on the forfeited estates.” And the Ministry seems to have made the republication of Temple’s History an objection against the grant, which objection Lord Essex, on. the part of his friend, thus endeavors to remove: –
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM THE EARL OF ESSEX, LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND, TO MR. SECRETARY COVENTRY
“I am to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 22nd of December, wherein you mention a book that was newly published, concerning the cruelties committed in Ireland, at the beginning of the late war. Upon further inquiry, I find Sir J. Temple, Master of the Rolls here, author of that book, was this last year sent to by several stationers of London, to have his consent to the printing thereof. But he assures me that he utterly denies it; and whoever printed it, did it without his knowledge. Thus much I thought fit to add to what I formerly said upon this occasion, that I might do this gentleman right, in case it was suspected he had any share in publishing this new edition.”
“He utterly denied it;” that is, did not absolutely deny that he had written and published the book, but only denied that he had given permission to any stationers to reprint the offensive thing; and his friend Lord Essex pleads this in order “to do the gentleman right.” In fact the grant of an annuity was made: poor Sir John Temple never had enough. He was already an “Adventurer” under the Parliamentary arrangement for dividing the confiscated lands: he had invested money in the “Massacre,” and I find his name amongst the subscribers to the fund of the “gentlemen adventurers;” but he always wanted more, more, being the son of a horse-leech’s daughter; and he got more and more. Now, some innocent reader, greener than the rest, will say, well at least the poor man was ashamed at last of his naughty book, and endeavored to make people forget it. Alas! no: he was not ashamed; but the Restoration had occurred in the meantime: the Stuarts were come back: Charles II. was King; about the court there was supposed to be much Papistry; and a hard-working Protestant feared that his former zealous labors in doing “the work of the Lord” might not meet with such recognition and encouragement as they were assured of under the godly government of the Lord Protector.
But Temple’s abandonment and repudiation of his nasty work does not suit Froude at all. Froude has no idea of permitting a in an who has laid such a tine cockatrice egg, to fling it aside to rot: no; he, Froude, will pick up that egg, warm it, sit on it, hoping to hatch it into a venomous brood. It is true the egg is long ago rotten; and even we, Protestants, have noses, which we must hold, when things grow too foetid.
So much for Temple. “Read Temple,” says Froude “whatever else you read, you who would form an independent opinion.”
Doctor Petty is, perhaps, next after Temple, the favourite authority relied upon by our Impostor-Historian: although in citing the Doctor at all, Froude feels that he is making a too great concession to Irish susceptibilities. From Temple’s account of 154,000 Protestants, whose throats were cut, in Ulster alone, the Doctor, in his estimate, subtracts 116,000: and Petty is mentioned by Froude as an authority not likely to be unfavourable to the Irish: so much he claims for him in one of his lectures: and in his book he terms that clever Doctor “a cool-headed, sceptical sort of man,” whose computation is surely not excessive! Cool-headed! Well, this is true: a cooler head, a cooler hand, did not appear in those days, within the four seas of Ireland, than Doctor Petty. The value of him as an “authority” might, perhaps, be questioned; for at the time of the alleged “Massacre” he was a boy; had never been in Ireland at all; was at that time learning his trade, that of a carpenter, in the city of Caen, in France; and it was only in the track of Cromwell’s army that lie took up his empty carpet-bag, and went to make his fortune in Ireland. A biographical sketch of this extraordinary person was written and published, about six months ago – before there was any word of Froude’s Lectures or History, – by a citizen of Brooklyn – not Mr. Meline, but another citizen, whose name is Major Muskerry, – from which sketch I may venture to give an extract or two altogether appropriate in this place: and let the reader be assured that the career of Doctor Sir William is worth some study, as that of the most successful land-pirate (for a private adventurer) and most voracious land-shark who ever appeared in Western Europe. The Doctor is authority for most of his story himself; but here I cite the words of Major Musketry: –
“Quitting Caen in 1643, when he was twenty years old, he spent a little time in England, and then as the war had checked the industries of the country, he voyaged again and spent three years in France and the Netherlands. Here he studied medicine and helped his younger brother, Anthony, in his schooling, their father being now dead. He was not fond of explaining how he managed to get along during these years. But he mentions that when he returned to England with his brother, he had saved seventy pounds beyond his expenses. He must have carried on some kind of pedlery, or perhaps acted as agent in the sale of English cloth. He was a man of shifts and must have had severe experiences, for he told his friend Aubrey that he once lived for a week in Paris on two pence worth of walnuts – ‘bread at discretion’ being beyond his means. Aubrey used to say he suspected Petty had been put into a French prison for something. And it is very likely the young trafficker ran into somebody’s debt, and so lost his liberty for a time, in the good old feudal fashion.
While he was in Paris, Petty became acquainted with Hobbes, the philosopher, and studied the ‘Anatomy of Vesalius’ along with him, at the same time drawing the diagrams of a treatise on optics, which that old ‘Leviathan’ was then wilting. In 1646, Petty returned to England. He then carried his French learning to Oxford, where it was recognized; and in three years he got his degree of M.D. at that College. He was also admitted into the London College of Physicians.”
There was nothing that Petty could not learn, if there was money in it; and he spent some years, as a projector and an inventor; but without distinguished success, until, in a happy hour, he bethought him of the mighty spoils in Ireland, which the “Massacre” had placed within, the reach of every God-fearing Englishman who would invest a little money in it, and “seek the Lord” with his whole heart. Here follows some more from his Brooklyn biographer: –
“But there was another great field of effort and enterprise now opened before the eyes of Dr. Petty – the field of Ireland. Cromwell had beaten down the Irish Confederation, and the English Parliament was arranging the plan of driving the native Irish out of three provinces of Ireland into Connaught. Ten thousand English adventurers seized their carpet-bags, and swarmed into the confiscated island. Among these was Dr. Petty, one of the ablest brains ever exercised over the area of a conquered country. He got himself appointed at once to an Irish office of high character – that of Physician to the Army in Ireland. He landed at Waterford in September, 1652. He himself records that he was worth about £500 when he came to Ireland. His biography is composed in a great measure from notices left by himself, and he repeatedly mentions the sums in his possession at the several crises of his life, as if they were the chief points of interest. But the most remarkable part of the business is that these notices occur in his will, written at the end of his life. He mixes biography and bequests together, as if he meant to save space and time, and show himself an economist to the last. It is certainly one of the most singular wills on record, exhibiting some of the most enlightened ideas of social polity, jumbled with the penurious apologies of a genuine mammon-scraper familiar with much of the sharp practice of his time. But his intimations are very brief, and the story of his acquisitions was one he would not care to tell at any length, very probably. He slurs things over, like Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork.
He tells enough, however, to show that his gatherings of Irish property were large and rapid. He says he was appointed to survey the Irish estates, and in this way made £9,000; which sum, with other smaller items, including salaries as Doctor and as Clerk of the Council of Dublin, enabled him to purchase land at a time ‘when men bought as much land for ten shillings as in 1685 yielded the same amount per annum.’ Aubrey says his lands brought in a rental of £18,000; which would be about £40,000, and over, at the present day.”
The Doctor was returned to Parliament (Richard Cromwell’s Parliament) in 1658. A certain Jerome Sankey was a member of the same Parliament, who was a large “adventurer” in Ireland upon the confiscated estates, as well as Petty, but who had been overreached by the smart Doctor and his” Ring” in the matter of land-grabbing. This is not wonderful: the Doctor, as Surveyor, had many chances: and as he was relied upon for “setting out” lands for whole regiments and brigades, he had endless opportunities of buying up for little or nothing estates of great value. The Doctor had surveys made, and all the field-work done by private soldiers instructed by himself; “hardy men,” says Prendergast, “nt-test to ruffle with the rude spirits they were like to encounter, who might not see without a grudge their ancient inheritance, the only support of their wives and children, measured out before their eyes for strangers to occupy; and they must often, when at work, be in danger of a surprise from Tories.”
In fact, many of them were surprised and captured, and lost their ears, as tithe-proctors and bailiffs did in late years: but, on the whole, Doctor Sir William and his friends had not only the large discretion which the survey gave them, but could very often, when some Cromwellian officer or soldier came to see his lot, gravely show him a few leagues of quaking black bog; and the poor fellow instantly offered to sell his estate for a horse to ride away upon; so that the county Meath tradition about the “White Horse of the Peppers” was not only true in fact, but was only a sample of many bargains in landed estate which took place in those days, under the prudent administration of the Doctor. In short, he had so many advantages over his brethren of the carpet-bag, that Sir Jerome Sankey could stand it no longer. Especially there was the case of some very fine lands, the Liberties of Limerick. One Captain Winkworth, a prayerful officer of the Protector’s army, had obtained an order for this coveted district: at least the Captain thought his order covered that place, and so he presented his credentials to the Doctor, as Surveyor-general, who told him those lands were “reserved.”
This forms one of the many charges brought by Sir Jerome against the Doctor in his speech in Parliament. “Why, then, Mr. Speaker (said Sir Jerome), there’s Captain Winkworth: Captain Winkworth came with an order for the Liberties of Limerick; but the Doctor said: ‘Captain, will you sell? Will you sell?’ ‘No,’ said the Captain, ‘it is the price of my blood.’ Then, said the Doctor, ”tis bravely said. Why, then, my noble Captain, the Liberties of Limerick are meat for your master, meaning the Lord Deputy,'” and so forth. In short, the Doctor was bound to give the best things within his own “Ring.” But Petty says that Sankey’s real cause of quarrel with him was that he, Petty, “had stopped Sankey’s unrighteous order for rejecting 3,000 acres fallen to him by lot, and enabling him arbitrarily to elect the same quantity in its stead, thus rejecting at his pleasure what God had predetermined for his lot.”
The Doctor retorted upon Sir Jerome with much bad language, for he had a rough and rasping tongue; and the other carpet-bagger challenged him. Petty accepted, and being the challenged party, and having choice of weapons, and being somewhat short-sighted, but a skilful carpenter, he chose adzes, in a dark cellar. This proposal was thought too professional by the “friends” of the other carpet-bagger. It was as if you quarrelled with the first mate of a whaling-ship, and challenged him, and he selected for weapons harpoons, stipulating that the duel should be fought from two boats in the open sea. The duel never in fact took place. But such a storm of inquiry was raised, that Sir Richard Cromwell, the Lord Lieutenant, could not protect his Physician, and the latter was dismissed from his public employments.
I resume the narrative of Major Muskerry, citizen of Brooklyn No. 2 –
“Then came the flurry of 1660, when Charles II came back again. Petty did not grieve much for the Cromwells. He went to see his Majesty soon after his arrival at Whitehall, and his Majesty ‘was mightily pleased with his discourse’ – the discourse of a richer man than himself. Petty could lend the King money; and perhaps he did. At any rate that menace of Parliamentary ‘inquiry’ went off with the Roundheads, and in 1662 Petty was made one of a Court of Commissioners for Irish estates, and Surveyor-general of Ireland. He was also knighted, and, on his arrival in Ireland, returned to the Irish Parliament for Enniscorthy. Still he did not escape entirely scot-free. The ‘Court of Innocents,’ which sat in the Irish capital, found that he had got much ground that belonged to ‘innocent Papists;’ and so he disgorged some of his acquisitions – ‘great part,’ he says himself. But he still retained an enormous property. From one hill in Kerry, it was said, he could look round and see no ground that did not belong to himself. That was the hill of Mangerto, – now spelled Mangerton the rude old peak of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, on which, perhaps, some of my readers have stood and looked down on the Lake of Killarney.
Sir William Petty goes on to explain the swift rise of his fortunes. He says he lived within his income, set up iron-works and pilchard fishing, opened lead mines, and sold timber. But of course he did not tell everything, nor mention half the advantages which his position brought to his hands. His fortunes grew from the ruins of a thousand old Irish families ejected from the county of Kerry; and time has only quadrupled the value of the territory he won for his descendants.”
I need not follow the fortunes of that smart Doctor any further. Enough to say that when he grew rich, he bribed one of the poor high-born but beggared Geraldine Fitzmaurices to marry his daughter, and also to take his paltry name of Petty. The great estate afterwards came to the present Lansdownes, whose surname is Petty-Fitzmaurice, at the reader’s service. This last affair is a matter of no consequence: the thing that I specially note here is, that Doctor Sir William Petty, the man in all Ireland who had most money invested in the “massacre,” who made most profit on his investment, who had the largest interest in establishing the grand fact of the “massacre,” – that this land-pirate is palmed off upon us by the Impostor Fronde, as a witness for the said grand fact; nay, as the most moderate witness and most favourable to the Irish people. He cannot see more in it this – moderate and friendly Sir William – than, (say) 38,000 throats cut in the massacre; a pretty fair and handsome massacre, a valid and substantial massacre for history to make a turning-point of, and for the Lansdowne estates to derive title from.
Indeed, our bold Doctor was the great administrator of the whole Transplantation: he ran the Transplantation; and he ran the massacre into the ground, but in the most pious and God-fearing spirit. His own candid autobiographical notes let us perceive that for himself he believed neither in a God nor in anything else, except in the value of acres of ground: yet when he had contracted with the government and the army to make an accurate survey, and maps of the confiscated lands, he did not dare to begin this mighty work for the glory of God without, – but here I call in the aid of Prendergast –
“This great step in perfecting the scheme of Plantation was consecrated with all the forms of religion, the articles being signed by Doctor Petty in the Council Chamber of Dublin Castle, on the 11th of December, 1654, in the presence of many of the chief officers of the army, after a solemn seeking of God performed by Colonel Thomlinson, for a blessing upon the conclusion of so great a business.”
It will be remembered that, in the first chapter, I cited from Fronde that passage in which he says that the Irish were endowed by Providence with a lovely land; but that “they had pared its forests to the stump, and left it shivering in dampness and desolation; and I requested the reader to bear that in mind. Now, the chief paper of the forests was Fronde’s friend, Doctor Sir William. He knew the use of an axe right well; and if he was disappointed in his wish to hew down Sir Jerome Sankey in the cellar, he could, at least, fell oaks and beeches in Kerry. Students of Irish history know, that the Irish were never very solid tons to clear away their fine forests; and that it was the English commanders in Elizabeth’s reign who made the first serious inroads upon those waving woods, when they had occasion to open up passes into the Irish enemy’s ‘ fastnesses.” Fronde knows particularly well, that the successive occupiers of “forfeited estates,” who were always sensible, in those days, of the precariousness of their tenure, always aware that a new settlement, unsettlement, resettlement, a new “resumption,” confiscation, revolution, or general bedevilment of all things, might come upon them any day, thought they could do no better than realize the value, at least, of the woods white they had them. To get a crop of wheat a man must plough, and sow, and wait for the season; bat he can cut down and sell a tree at any time, or a hundred thousand trees. The reason why I say “Fronde knows” all this, is that the whole process is very clearly set forth in the “Report of the Commissioners appointed by the Parliament of England to take cognizance of the properties that were confiscated upon the Irish who were concerned in the rebellion of 1688, etc.” Fronde knows this Report, because it is not abstruse nor recondite; and if it were abstruse or recondite he would then know it still better; for he admits that he knows everything.
The Commissioners, in section 77 of their Report, say, “that dreadful havoc had been committed upon the woods of the proscribed;” and they further say, “Those upon whom the confiscated lands have been bestowed, or their agents, have been so greedy to seize upon the most trifling profits, that huge trees have been cut down and sold for sixpence each.” They say, also, u this destruction is still carried on in many parts of the country.” And so it continued to be carried on, not by the Irish, but by holders of forfeited estates, until Dean Swift, some years later, lamented that in the once well-wooded island there was not left timber enough for house-building or for shipbuilding, and that the land had a naked and dreary appearance for want of trees. How, it was bad enough in these rascals to pare our forests to the stump; but this British historical being, coming forward at the present day to complain to the civilized world that wet the Irish, pared our forests to the stump, might be thought to add insult to injury: and if he means so, it is his mission.
It is in the county of Kerry chiefly that the Parliamentary Commissioners specify the cruel havoc made in Irish woods; and it was in the county of Kerry that Dr. Sir William Petty had his principal estates. For years the vales of Dunkerron and Iveragh rung with the continual fall of giant oaks. There was a good market; Spain and France were searching the world for pipe-staves: in English dockyards, there was steady demand for ship-knees; and Sir William knew exactly where there was the best market for everything. In Ireland, itself, also, he set on foot iron-works, and fed the fires from his own woods; that is woods which were not his own, and from which the right owners might expel him some day. There was no source of profit, known to the commerce and traffic of that day, in which Sir William did not bear a hand: he “took hold” of everything that was available and saleable, after first seeking the Lord in the midst of his Ring of saints: for Sir William was truly one of the elect. When he went to his “Down Survey,” along with some faithful officers of the Army of the Saints, I find an affecting narrative of a truly touching scene, Doctor Sir William and his swaddling “Ring” upon their marrow-bones, wrestling with the Lord, with strong crying and tears, calling upon the Lord (“stand and deliver, O Lord!”) to bless the great work! Bravo! Doctor Sir William: go forward boldly, and seize and divide this mighty spoil! You never had such a chance in all your varied life before: there were no such prizes in the carpenters’ shops of Caen: profits upon pills in London suburbs were nothing in comparison with the victorious sharing of these wide vales of Munster. Yea, the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim is better than the clusters of Manasses. Go ahead, then, prosperously, and ride victorious, O Doctor: for behold the earth and the fulness thereof is thine; and thy name shall be called, not Petty, but Maher-shalal-hash-baz; “for he hasteth unto the dividing of the spoil.”