Now came in the deluge of Cromwellians, who were termed by the Irish Clan Oliver, as the invaders of Elizabeth’s day had been called sometimes Clan London, or Clan Sacsanagh. It is not my purpose to follow Fronde through all his details relating to the Cromwellian Settlement; because this is rendered unnecessary by the admirable work of Mr. Prendergast; and Froude has himself fully admitted in one place the accuracy of Prendergast’s facts and authorities, at the same time that, in many other passages, he makes statements of his own utterly at variance with those facts and authorities. What is material to point out here is, that the Historian most warmly approves of the regime established by Cromwell in Ireland, only lamenting that “he died too soon.” Speaking of that General and his indiscriminate slaughters of soldiers and civilians, of men, women, and children at Drogheda and Wexford, he says, pathetically: “Happier far would it have been for Ireland, if, forty years later, there had been a second Cromwell before Limerick!” It had been better, he thinks, if Sarsfield and his men, and all the peaceful traders, and all the heroic women of Limerick city had had their throats cut, instead of being admitted to a Treaty.
Perhaps he is right, seeing that the Treaty was to be instantly violated. This Historian does not mind being charged with bloodthirstiness: on the contrary, he is flattered by it: he loves to write of blood, and to urge on other people the duty of shedding it: the odor of gore is grateful to his nostrils; and he despises “rose-water,” which is Carlyle’s phrase to designate any kind of gentleness or mercy, or even ordinary good faith observed towards Papists. Cromwell, he says with delight, did not assuredly come to Ireland “to make war with rose-water.” No, it was the genuine red liquid, venous and arterial. There is no part of the Cromwellian system which seems to give him. such heartfelt pleasure as the treatment of the priests. Only it was too mild, and was applied for too short a time: if the great Statesman had but lived, there would soon have been not a single priest left to “work mischief;” – for this is his way of describing the saying of Mass.
The good Father Burke, who is so amiable towards Fronde, must be all the while aware of how it would have fared with himself if he had lived in the time of Fronde’s hero. Doubtless it is the duty of a Christian divine to love all men, even his enemies; and it was in this sense that he said he loved Froude. But he knows very well that in Froude’s political economy, his (Father Burke’s) head is exactly of the same value as the head of a bitch-wolf; namely, six pounds sterling of the money of that day, equal, we may say, to eighteen pounds of today. And it will not do to say that Froude estimates the goods at that price, only in the case that Father Burke had lived in the latter part of the eighteenth century; for he regrets, passionately, the too-early relaxation of that system; wishes there had been a Cromwell before Limerick; wishes that there were a Cromwell for Ireland’s sake now: for, while the wolves were cleared off entirely, there are priests in Ireland still.
Evidently, while the wolf-price was enough, the priest’s head-money ought to have been raised. My own estimate of the value of Father Burke’s head, differs from Froude’s, and is based upon another sort of tariff; for I hold it to be worth at least five hundred heads of the Frondes. Let nobody deceive himself, however, by assuming that this Historian discusses these matters in a historic spirit, as matters whose interest is long past and gone with the changing current of events. By no means: he treats them in the spirit of a party pamphleteer, and with an obvious intention to act upon the present politics and passions of men. Thus, instead of giving a word of praise to the devoted clergy who persisted in hearing confessions and administering Sacraments, under the imminent penalty of transportation and of death, he never mentions those wonderful men without ribald abuse and calumny. “Priests and dispossessed proprietors,” he says, “were hiding in disguise among the tribes, making mischief when they were able.” He never alludes to the deadly risks those clergy ran in staying by their flocks. Close as has been his inspection of documents, in. public-record offices, he never found the bills duly furnished by and paid to god-fearing troopers for their captives “To five priests captured in the county of Cavan and sent in” – “To two priests with their appurtenances [namely books and cups and stoics] sent in by Lieutenant Wood,” and so-forth, to great length: for which see Prendergast and Curry; you need not look to the Historian of “The English in Ireland.” He cannot help, indeed, mentioning some of the severe measures used against the clergy; he only affirms that not so many were transported as those who were arrested; but nobody had said there were.
As to the people actually transported from Ireland to Barbadoes or other colonies or plantations, he, in his last lecture, questions Father Burke’s estimate of the numbers so exiled within a few years. He says: –
“Father Burke says that Cromwell meant to exterminate the Irish. I distinguish again between the industrious Irish and the idle, fighting Irish. He showed his intention towards the peasantry a few days after his landing; for he hung two of his own troopers for stealing a hen from an old woman. Cromwell, says the Father, wound up the war by taking 80,000 men and shipping them to the sugar plantations of Barbadoes. In six years, such was the cruelty, that not twenty of them were left. Eighty thousand men, Father Burke! and in six years not twenty left! I have read the Thurlow Papers, where the account will be found of these shipments to Barbadoes. I can find nothing about 80,000 men there. When were they sent out, and how, and in what ships?”
I think, however, that Father Burke’s estimate is not far from correct; though, to be sure, 80,000 is a large round number. But it is well known that the deportation, both of priests and of laymen, of young men and maidens, was on a very large scale. In consequence of the great increase of priests towards the close of the year 1665, a general arrest by the justices of the peace was ordered: it was the sporting season for priests, and even wolves were left comparatively at peace for a time. “On the 3d of May,” says Prendergast, “the Governors of the respective precincts were ordered to send them with sufficient guards from garrison to garrison to Carrickfergus, to be there put-on board such ships as should sail with the first opportunity for the Barbadoes.” Poor old Father Paul Cashin, a, very ancient and frail man, being apprehended at Maryborough, and sent on to Philipstown, on the way to Carrickfergus, there fell desperately sick, and was in danger of perishing in a dungeon from want and hardship. After months the Commissioners ordered him an allowance of sixpence a day; and when he should be well enough to move, this allowance was to be continued to him during his journey to Carrickfergus “in order to his transportation to the Barbadoes.” It would not be much sugar Father Paul would make, after being set down there and bidden to take up the shovel and the hoe; but the authorities thought that under a Barbadoes planter he would at least be kept from “mischief,” that is, from Mass and Confession.
The difficulty suggested by Froude in the paragraph above cited, – How, and in what ships were these 80,000 sent to Barbadoes? is not so very serious a difficulty. The operation extended over several years, and shipping was not so very scarce then, either in England or in Ireland. Besides, Doctor Sir William Petty and other adventurers were piling up all the shipyards in the kingdom with the best of Irish timber. Still there was some shortcoming in the tonnage available for this service, and it cost too much; so that, on the 27th of February, 1657, the government referred it to the Lord Lieutenant to consider where the priests, then crammed into the prisons of Dublin, might be most safely disposed of. And so they were carried across the island, placed in boats, and flung out upon the bare islands of Arran, in the Atlantic, and Innisbofin, off the coast of Connemara, there to consider themselves, upon an allowance of sixpence per day. It was when private enterprise came in aid of the government that no want of shiping was experienced. The merchants of Bristol contracted with the Commissioners, not for cargoes of priests, but for young men and marriageable girls, who would be more useful, these merchants thought, upon their West India plantations. Ostensibly, all these were to be persons having no visible means of support; but practically, it was a slave-hunt. Says Prendergast: –
“Messrs. Sellick and Leader, Mr. Robert Yeomans, Mr. Joseph Lawrence, and others, all of Bristol were active agents. As one instance out of many: – Captain John Vernon was employed by the Commissioners for Ireland into England, and contracted in their behalf with Mr. David, Sellick and Mr. Leader, under his hand, bearing date the 14th of September, 1653, to supply them with two hundred and fifty women of the Irish nation above twelve years, and under the age of forty-five; also three hundred men above twelve years of age, and under fifty, to be found in the country within twenty miles of Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale, Waterford, and Wexford, to transport them into New England. Messrs. Sellick and Leader appointed their shiping to repair to Kinsale; but Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill (afterwards Earl of Orrery), whose name, like that of Sir C. Coote, seems ever the prelude of woe to the Irish, suggested that the required number of men and women might be had from among the wanderers and persons who had no means to get their livelihood in the county of Cork alone. Accordingly, on the 23rd of October, 1653, he was empowered to search for them and arrest them, and to deliver them to Messrs. Sellick and Leader, who were to be at the charge of conducting them to the water side, and maintaining them from the time they received them; and no person, being once apprehended, was to be released, but by special order in writing under the hand of Lord Broghill.”
Many such operations took place in various parts of the country; until this Bristol firm alone had shipped above 6,400 young strong people within the desirable ages. Many a girl of gentle birth and delicate nurture must have been seized by those slave-dealers and hurried to the private prisons. Daniel Connery, a gentleman of Clare County, was sentenced to banishment for harboring a priest in 1657. “This gentleman had a wife and twelve children: his wife fell sick, and died in poverty. Three of his daughters, most beautiful girls, were transported to the West Indies, to an island called the Barbadoes; and there, if they are alive, they are in miserable slavery.” (Morison’s Threnodia: cited by Prendergast.) On the whole, taking priests and laymen together, men and women, girls and boys, and allowing some years for the operation, I think we may allow Father Burke’s estimate to be a fair and probable one. But the matter, and perhaps the only matter, which disquiets anil perplexes the mind of the “Historian,” is the fact, that in the midst of all these horrors, Catholic priests were not only ministering all over the country, but coming in from France and Spain and Rome; not only supplying the vacuum made by transportation and by death, but keeping up steadily the needful communication between the Irish Church and its head: and not only coming, but going, (both times incurring the risk of capital punishment,) and not in commodious steamships, which did not then exist, but in small fishing luggers or schooners; not as first-class passengers, but as men before the mast. Archbishops worked their passage.
The whole of this strange phenomenon, which continued more than a century, belongs to an order of facts which never entered into the Historian’s theory of human nature. It is a factor in the account that he can find no place for: he gives it up. Yet Edmund Spenser, long before this day, as good a Protestant as Froude, and an undertaker, too, upon Irish confiscated estates, had at least some-what of the poetic vision and poetic soul. There were moods of his undertaking mind in which he could look upon such strange beings as Irish priests with a species of awe, if not with full comprehension. He much marvels at the zeal of these men, “which is a great wonder to see how they spare not to come out of Spain, from Rome and from Remes, by long toyle and dangerous traveling hither, where they know peril of death awayteth them and no reward or richesse.” Mr Froude, indeed, speaks of them as engaged in nothing else but keeping up treasonable alliances with countries at war with England, and recruiting for foreign armies. As for their expecting “no reward or richesse” for such laborious service, he would bid you tell that to Judaeus Apella, or to “the horse marines!”
“Reward and richesse!” I know the spots, within my own part of Ireland, where venerable Archbishops hid themselves as it were in a hole of the rock. In a remote part of Louth County, near the base of the Fews mountains, is a retired nook called Ballymascanlon. There dwelt for years, in a farm-house which would attract no attention, the Primate of Ireland and successor of St. Patrick, Bernard McMahon, a prelate accomplished in all the learning of his time, and assiduous in the government of his archdiocese; but he moved in secret, with danger, if not with fear, and often encountered hardships in travelling by day and by night. His assumed name was Bernard Ennis; his coat was frieze; and he paid his half-yearly rent with much punctuality. His next successor, but one, was Michael O’Reilly: and he dwelt in a cabin at Termoufeckin, near Clogher Head, a very wild place, and greatly out of the way, as it lay between the great Northern road and the sea, and could only be found by those who searched for it. Here he died. And if such were the toils, hardships, and dangers of the highest ecclesiastics, we may conjecture what kind of life awaited the simple priests who devoted themselves to the mission. Yet it was, with full knowledge of all this, with full resolution to brave all this, that many hundreds of educated Irishmen, fresh from the Colleges of Belgium or of Spain, came to the French seacoast at Brest or St. Malo, bent on finding some way of crossing to where their work lay.
Imagine a priest ordained at Seville or Salamanca, a gentleman of high old name, a man of eloquence and genius, who has sustained disputations in the college halls on questions of literature or theology, and carried off prizes and crowns; – imagine him on the quays of Brest, treating with the skipper of some vessel to let him work his passage: he wears tarry breeches and a tarpaulin hat (for disguise was generally needful) he flings himself on board, takes his full part in all hard work, scarce feels the cold spray and the fierce tempest. And he knows, too, that the end of it all. for him, may be a row of sugar-canes to hoe, under the blazing sun of Barbadoes, overlooked by a broad-hatted agent of a Bristol planter: yet he goes eagerly to meet his fate; for, he carries in his hand a sacred desposit, bears in his heart a sacred message, and must deliver it or die. Imagine him then springing ashore, and repairing to seek the Bishop of the diocese in some cave, or behind some hedge, but proceeding with caution by reason of the priest-catchers and their wolf-dogs. But, Froude would say, this is the ideal priest you have been portraying. No: it is the real priest, as he existed and acted at that day, and as he would again in the like emergency. And is there nothing admirable in all this? Is there not something superhuman and sublime? Ah! we Protestants are certainly most enlightened creatures. Mr. Froude says we are the salt of the earth. West and, each of us, with triumphant conceit, upon the sacred and inalienable right of private stupidity; but I should wish to see our excellent Protestantism produce some fruit like this.
And not only has our Crusader no word of admiration or commendation for the more than chivalrous bravery of the priests who dared and defied the toil and the peril, humiliation, transportation and death, for the sake of feeding those flocks which the English were shearing; – not only does he pass over in silence, or make light of, or attempt to deny, the frightful persecutions continually inflicted upon those clergy, or hanging over their heads, but the great leading theme of his whole book, the thing which he most earnestly repeats is this – the priests were never persecuted enough except only in Cromwell’s time! Ah! “if Oliver Cromwell had but left a son like himself,” he pathetically exclaims, Ireland’s lot at this day had been happier; and it would be now as easy to find a wolf in the island as a priest. He is very hard, indeed, to satisfy in the matter of persecution; for, although the laws for making Ireland too hot to hold a priest, were constantly elaborated, and made more atrocious, nearly every year, for the next century after Cromwell, still there was occasional connivance; and those obnoxious pastors were often left unpunished, and even their saying of Mass was often winked at, provided they committed the offence in some very obscure place. This does not suit the Historian at all: he wants their heart’s blood all the time; and it was such a “mistaken leniency” on the part of the government that made Papists so insolent that they continually rose in new insurrections, and even at one time, (when James the Second came to the throne,) their presumption mounted to such a pitch, that he tells us with disgust, “the Irish thought Ireland was theirs.”
It is to be feared that the Historian, after all his researches, fails to comprehend the exact purpose and extent of those occasional connivances or tolerations: the purpose was to keep up an efficient machinery for getting a hold of more and more of the lands which were still remaining in the hands of Papists, under secret trusts or illegal leases. The Protestant interest could not afford to suppress the Mass, so long as any Catholic possessed an acre of land or a good horse. If there had been 110 priests, and no Catholic service could anywhere be celebrated, it was feared that nearly all the Catholics would conform; and then, where would our Protestant interest be! Our good Protestants could no more afford to do without the Mass than without the “massacre.” So, successive Viceroys and Lords of Council changed their policy from time to time, either suspending the operation of the most ferocious of the penal laws, or enforcing them in all their horror, as political exigencies for the time being might seem to require. Mr. Froude, with all his unbending Protestant honesty, must really have some indulgence for people who, after doing the work of the Lord so well, felt that they had not yet received their full reward: for certain Papist Hittites, Edomites, and Amalekites, could still be found, by means of earnest and prayerful diligence, who were fraudulently receiving the rents and profits of their own estates, and thus cheating honest colonists. For these Amalekites it was needful to keep up a kind of secret hole-and-corner Mass; and the army of informers who were kept in pay might be trusted to find out who attended those useful ministrations. Here is the true key to the Penal Laws and to their administration.
Yes: evil must come of it, as this honest being truly apprehends. In his last lecture, by way of reply to Father Burke, he cannot conceal his uneasiness. He says: –
“England is afraid, however, and deeply afraid. She is afraid of being ever driven to use again those measures of coercion against Ireland which have been the shame of her history.”
The shame of her history, inasmuch as they were not duly executed! But what is England afraid of now? Ireland is very quiet, and so free from disturbance, and every sort of crime, that many a single county in England exhibits more murders, poisonings, burglaries, and waylayings with intent to murder, in one year, than the whole of Ireland can show. What, then, thinks the Historian, is the provocation which is likely to drive his countrymen to new penal laws against Ireland? Can it be the Home Rule agitation, – an agitation which is not only perfectly legal and constitutional, but also entirely harmless and useless? No; certainly not this. As for the outcry some Irishmen are making, claiming that they ought to be governed according to “Irish Ideas,” – governed by England, – neither can this disquiet their English masters much. Their English owners know how to deal with such matters as these; by seizing on such newspapers as offend them, and by trying the most noisy of the agitators before packed juries. What then, precisely, does the Historian’s ominous threat portend? What does he wish his countrymen to do to us more? It may be that the learned and eloquent gentleman, having lived a good deal in Ireland of late, has observed that many industrious Irish people, – grandsons and descendants of those who were once so thoroughly stripped bare, – have gradually worked themselves into possession again of broad estates, often in the very tribe-lands of their own clans.
Those estates were taken from their ancestors and given to the “saints” without money and without price: the present owners have won some of them back in the sweat of brow and brain. Catholics, too, having been plundered of their own cathedrals, churches and abbey-lands, are now found in possession of new and splendid churches, and of great and beneficent religious houses. Here is a matter which is evidently worthy of the serious consideration of us, the enlightened Protestants: for, I if the earth is not ours and the fulness thereof, we should like to know to whom it does belong? Would not a good, prudent system of penal laws, jockey those idolatrous Papists out of all they own, even as before? And is it any wonder that Historian Froude begins really to fear that England may be forced to resort to the old system of coercion once more?
Is this the explanation of his ominous menace? Or is it (merely, as one of his English critics has insisted) a general craving on his part “to burn or boil somebody, if only he could make up his mind whom to boil or burn?” On this last question I do not really think the Historian labors under any doubt or difficulty. I know whom he wishes to cook. At any rate, it really seems that this Crusader, like many another great man, is in advance of his age, or else behind it. He is either above the general level of human conscience and morals, or else below it. Either way, whether he is behind or before, whether too high or too low, his shot has failed to strike right between wind and water: and his Crusade is a failure.
In one other chapter I shall wash my hands of our Historian; and, having washed, shall slightly perfume them.