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turies the O'Neils of his family had been invested with more than kingly authority, he obliged the unfortunate chief “to tender his submission on his knees before the Lord Deputy and the council, and in the presence of a great assembly; whereupon the Lord Deputy, in the Queen's name, promised the Earl for himself and his followers her majesty's gracious pardon.” Is it wonderful that in the ensuing reign the O'Neils and the O’Donnels fled for ever from the scene of their sufferings and humiliation; or that having chosen Spain as the goal of their permanent absenteeship, they should have arrived there, only to die of broken hearts : Remote as are the times, the events of which are here so slightly touched,—unfixed, capricious and despotic as were the government and the laws, rude, wild, weak and disorganized as was the state of society, —yet, through the obscurity and confusion which hung over the neglected annals of the day, it is evident that absenteeism, sometimes encouraged or enforced by the English policy, was foreign to the national habits and natural temperament of the Irish; and that the aristocracy of the country were more than any other wedded to their native land by natural affection, by family pride, by power, by religion, and by every feeling and every prejudice which brightens or shadows the mixed and imperfect condition of humanity. Hitherto emigration had been the result of necessity or of despair; but it was reserved for the Stuarts, Ireland's direst foes, the flatterers of her foible, and the enemies of her rights, to give a spell to absenteeism, which even the policy and the despotism of the Tudors could not lend to it. When the rude home of the Irish had by the sanguinary crusades of Elizabeth been rendered no longer endurable, the Stuarts held out a lure and presented a blandishment which suffering humanity could not resist; and under an impulse, consecrated by a mistaken sense of loyalty and chivalrous devotion, the long-enduring Irish rushed from the dreariness of their desolate abodes, and thronged to a court where they fancied they saw the representative of their native kings, seated on the throne of their foreign tyrants. The drivelling and despotic pedant, James, with the true family instinct towards power, sought to win over that portion of his subjects whose religion preached “passive obedience and the divine right of kings,” and with whom he had so deeply tampered in the reign of his predecessor. On his coming to the throne, he loaded the Irish with favours, while he withheld rights; but with a disingenuous and stupid policy, secretly counteracting the intentions of his own council, he privately led the Irish to an open assumption of religious privileges, which he permitted his ministers in Ireland to oppose, not only by remonstrance and proclamation, but by “fire and sword.” To ingratiate himself still further with the Irish gentry, and to break down whatever yet remained of devotion to their country, or of the “old swelling of liberty,” inherited from their fathers, he invited the most distinguished among them to his court; where, “graciously received by the king," and incontinently ridiculed by the courtiers, they obtained the honour of being made the heroes of a court masque, in which the sarcastic laureate, Jonson, has handed down to posterity their devotion to “the king's sweet faish,” and the melancholy fact that they danced “a fadan” for the amusement of “King Yarmish;” who, as the arch-patron of all buffoonery, doubtless chuckled over the degrading exhibition.
How many Irish absentees have since danced " tkefadan," for the amusement of mystifying royalty !*
Thus prepared, by being "brayed as in a mortar" at home, and at once degraded and flattered abroad, the Irish nobility but too willingly lent themselves to the allurements held out by Charles the Second (the falsest of all their royal friends); and from the epoch of the Restoration absentceship became a voluntary habit. It was then that what has been called the characteristic virtue of the Irish, became the source of one of their peculiar vices; and that the feeling of loyalty which had led them to follow the king in his misfortunes, and to embrace his almost hopeless cause in many a distant land, now once more lured them from their own, to "share the triumph and partake the gale" of his prosperity. The habits of a great capital and a gay court confirmed their taste for
• The " Irish masque," got up to compliment tin- absentees at the English Court, Is either a bitter satire, or a disgusting picture of the state of Irish society at that epoch. "The King being seated (says the programme), in expectation, out ran a fellow attired as a citizen, after him three or four footmen, Denis, Donnel, Dermoch, and Patrick," the object of whose visit to London was not like that of many of the Denises and Patricks of the present day, to become cither porters or reporters, as the chances determined; but simply, as Donnel observes, " to see King Yamish," for which purpose "they had travelled a great way miles," having got the start of their lords or chiefs who had come over on the same loyal errand.
"Der. 1' fayt, ten: ish very much phoyt stick here stirring to-night. He takes ush for no shqniros, I tinke.
Pat. No; he tinksh not ve be imbashetcrs.
Der. No, fayt, I tinkc sho too. But tish marriage bring over a doshen of our besbt mayshtcrs to be merry, perht tee shweet faish, an't be; and daunsh a fading at te vedding.
Den. But tey vere leeke to daunsh naked, and plcash ty majesty; for tey villanous vild Irish sheas have casht away all ter fine cloysh, as many ash cosht a towsand cowes and garraves, I warrant tee.
Der. And te prishe of a cashtell or two upon tcyr backs.
Don. And tey tell ty majesty, tey have ner a great fish now, nor a shea moynshter to shave tcyr cloyth alive now.
Pat. Nor a devoish vit a clowd to fesh 'hem out o' te bottom o' te vayter.
Der. But tey musht cene come and daunsh in tcyr mantles, now; and show tee how tey can foot te fading and te fadow, and te phip a' Dunboyne, I trow.
Don. I pre dec now, let not ty sweet faysh ladies make a mock on' him, and scorn to daunsht vit 'hem now, becash tey be poor.
Pat. Tey drink no bonny clabber, i' fayt, now.
Don. It if h better ten usquebagh to daunsh vit, Patrick.
Pat. By my fater's hand, tey vill daunsh very veil.
Der. Ay, by St. Patrick, vill tey; for tey be nimble men.
Dm. And vill leap ash light, be crcesh save me, ash he tat vcarcs te biggest fethur in ty court, King Yamish.
Der. For all tey have no good vindsh to blow tcm heter, nor elementsh to preserve hem.
Don. Nor all te four cornersh o' te world to creep out on.
Pat. But tine own kingdomes.
Don. Tey be honesht men.
Pat. And goot men: tine own shubshects.
Der. Tou hast very good shubshects in Ireland.
Den. A great goot many, o' great good shubshects.
Dow. Tat love ty mayesty heartily.
Den. And vill run t'rough fire and vater for tee, over te bog and te bannoke, be te graish o' Got and graish o' King.
Der. By Got tey will fight for tee, King Yamish, nnd for my mistiesh tcre.
Den. And my little maishter. Paish, paish, now room for our mayshtcr.—Then the gentlemen dance forth a dance in their Irish mantles to a solemn music of harps, which done, the footmen fall to speak again."
emigration, and excited a disgust for their native land, which became, in the end, as fatal to their interests as it was destructive of their patriotism. Then absenteeism became a species of national malady, a disease, infinitely more grievous in its effects than that terrible pestilence, which, a little before, in ravaging the population of Ireland, confined its mortal epidemia to a season and a generation.* Absenteeism was no longer limited to the harassed Catholic gentlemen or loyal cavaliers, who came to seek the price of their sacrifice and their fidelity at the exchequer of royal gratitude, and found it, like that of the nation, closed by a fraudulent bankruptcy. The wealthy and the noble, the Protestant and the Papist, the English by blood, and the Scotch patentees; in a word, all who could afford to fly, now hastened to a court, where for a time an Irish mistress and an Irish minister held the ascendant; and where the Ormondes, the Ossorys, and the Villars, exchanged the honourable retreat of their own beautiful residences in Ireland, for the entresol of a royal villa at Newmarket, or “a lodging" in the harem of Whitehall.t Titles, and places, and pensions, and privileges, were then scattered among the Irish nobility, and became the premium of absenteeism; paying the sacrifice of patriotism in one sex, and of honour in the other. The talent, beauty, and virtue, which, if concentrated at home, might have redeemed and adorned the country from whence they were drawn, now served but to increase the sum of
* Borlase asserts that in 1650, ten years before the Revolution, 1700 died of the plague in Dublin alone; this horrible infliction was peculiar to those “picturesque times,” which describe so well, and which, it is a mark of literary loyalty to admire and eulogize.
“Sir, nothing against antiquity, I pray you,
+ The most noted beauties of the court of Charles the Second, Lady Barbara Villars (Duchess of Cleveland), the Countess of Chesterfield (a Butler), the Lady Kildare, introduced by St. Evremont into his pleasant little poem of “The Basset Table,” the Countess de Grammont, and many others, were Irish women. The delightful author of “Mémoires de Grammont,” Anthony Hamilton, was himself an Irishman,+ and a branch of the illustrious house of Hamilton, which obtained from James the First such princely possessions in the North of Ireland, and which is still represented by the Marquis of Abercorn. The Fitzmaurices (Muskerry), the O'Briens, the Butlers, the Talbots, are names noted in the fasti of Whitehall at this period. With respect to the Talbots, however, it is but fair to observe that the elder branch of this ancient and patriotic family always remained permanently resident in their splendid castle and domain of Malahide, as their worthy representative the Member for the county of Dublin continues to do in the present day; though the younger branch, the Lords of Carton (now the seat of the Duke of Leinster) were prime favourites at Whitehall, and boon companions of both Charles and James. “The Dick Talbot” of that day, whom Charles would fain have set at odds with the Duke of Ormonde, brought no additional rays to the original splendour, when he added a ducal coronet to its less perishable honours. This Colonel Richard Talbot (afterwards Duke of Tirconnel) was sent to the Tower for having challenged the Duke of Ormonde with duplicity of conduct with respect to the Irish Catholics, whose agent Colonel Talbot then was. Ormonde, believing the better part of valour to be discretion, fought shy, instead of fighting Talbot; and when rallied on this circumstance by the King, petulantly demanded, “Is it then your Majesty's pleasure that at this time of day I should put off my doublet to fight duels with Dick Talbot 2"
* Wous ne me parlez pas de Madame de Kildare, I never saw personne avoir meilleure air. + His mother, the beautiful Lady Maria Butler, was daughter to the Duke of Ormonde,
elegant profligacy in that region, whose very atmosphere was as fatal to manly independence, as it was to female purity. Ireland, thus abandoned by the heads of her noble families, deserted by her rank, her talent, her beauty, and her education, pouring out the "profits of the land to those who refunded nothing;"—unhappy Ireland, during the whole of the reign of Charles II. exhibited the most deplorable picture of a country left a prey to strangers, to undertakers, to patentees, to delegated powers, and official despotism; and of a society which, false in its position, and divested of all those ties and combinations which bind man to man, was totally destitute of every element that confers the strength of political cohesion, and disseminates the advantages of moral civilization. In the midst of this anti-social chaos, every act of the legislature served to render the atoms of the system more jarring and discordant, until finally " the Act of Settlement," by unsettling every thing and rendering "confusion worse confounded," added insult to injury, and multiplied both the causes and the effects of absenteeism to the opulent of all sects. The country was now more than ever given up to a particular faction, which made its powerful stand on the heights of ascendancy, under the sanction of a king who, in a great degree, owed his life and throne to those whom that ascendancy was to reduce to slavery and ruin.* It was at this period, more than any other, that the stale devices of Catholic conspiracies and Popish plots were resorted to, as a means of startling a distant ignorant legislature into new acts of rigour, which, by crushing all that remained to be crushed, by forfeitures and penalties, was to elevate a factious minority of the nation to the supremacy of power and wealth.
The English Parliament, frightened, or pretending to be so, by the state of things in Ireland, published a proclamation " for the apprehension and prosecution of all Irish rebels," at a moment when Ireland had sealed by her best blood her devotion to the reigning dynasty; and the King, in the face of his pledged honour and royal promise, excluded from the act of indemnity (which was shortly after passed) more than two thirds of his Irish subjects, who had alone been faithful to him, when all else were false. While calumny and misrepresentation were thus working the destruction of Ireland abroad, there were none at home to " remonstrate," as in the time of Elizabeth and James; none to protect or vindicate the national character, or to raise the dark veil, which the cupidity of domestic and predatory enemies had dropped over the injuries, the worth, and the misfortunes of the country. It is still more lamentable to add, that some of the most illustrious of the absentees, who haunted the Court as dependants, or influenced the Cabinet as counsellors, found it their account to sanction these misrepresentations, and to perpetuate a state of things by which these noble rene
* It is farther particularly notable that James, the friend and correspondent of Pope Clement VIII. and the special protector of the Irish Catholics, first established in Ireland a Protestant ascendancy in parliament, in obedience to the advice of the Lord Deputy Chichester. With the inconsistency which ever accompanies a want of principle, he occasionally amused himself at the expense of the very people he affected to favour. When Chichester made King James a present of a beautiful hors:',his Majesty asked him if it were an Irish horse: on being answered in the affirmative, the King swore his favourite oath, "Then it mult be a Papist," for he verily believed that all things produced in Ireland were Papists, even the very animals themselves.
gadoes were to be themselves the ultimate gainer.s. For it is the effect of abseutceship to harden the heart against all the precious sympathies of patriotism, and it has ever been the practice of absentees to magnify and circulate the rumour of those national disorders which arise in part out of their qwn desertion of their native land, and which they suppose might offer a reason, if not an excuse, for their abandonment of the soil and its interest.>. * The times, however, changed with the men, and the short reign of the unfortunate bigot James II. was pregnant with new and important events for Ireland- At the first temporary turn of the scale in Irish politics, absenteeism, which could scarcely increase, certainly did not diminish. By this change, the nation at large gained little; and the mean ambition of the nobility, who accepted power and place without one feeling of patriotism or sympathy for the country, was soon nipped in the bud, and for ever blasted with the fortunes of the monarch, on whose favour it was founded 1. The Irish gentry supported the cause of despotism and bigotry in vain; and the impetuous imbecility of James served only to hasten that ruin, which public opinion had so deservedly prepared for him and his family. The mistaken adherence of the people to so bad a cause, was, however, in some measure redeemed by the disinterested fidelity with which they continued to serve that family in its adversity, which in prosperity had always repaid their services with ingratitude. It was the Irish (the ultra-royalists of all times} who, during the dark fortunes of the worthless prolcgi of the Bourbons, clung to him, when all else deserted him. They manned
* None benefited more largely by these " ploti of rebellion" than the House of Ormonde. "His Grace (says Lord Anglesey in his letter to the Earl of Castlebaven) his Grace (the Duke of Ormonde) and his family, by the forfeiture and punishment of the Irish, were the greatest gainers in the kingdom, and had added to their inheritance vast scopes of land, and a revenue three times greater than his paternal estate as it was before the Rebellion, and most of his increase was out of their estates who adhered to the peace of 1648, or served under His Majesty's ensigns abroad." In the anonymous and curious pamphlet "The Unkind Deserter," it is asserted that the Ormonde estate was but;£7000. per annum before the civil wars in Ireland, and that in lfi/4 it was close upon £100,000. a year; which increase arose from the King's grants to him " of other men's estates," &c. &c. &c. The history of the last Rebellion in 1793, and of the Union, would furnish many anecdotes of a similar increase of the wealth of Irish families; not indeed by forfeitures (for the mode had passed), but by intriguing and bullying the government out of every place at its disposal, from a mitre to a cornctcy of dragoons,—by selling themselves and their country wholesale and retail (a vote upon a single stage of a question has been hired, like a job-carriage, by the night); by corrupt dabbling in every species of public work; in short, by every disgraceful practice of the fraudulent tradesman, the scheming adventurer, and the sturdy mendicant. The philosopher Kirwan was wont to quote a calculation he had made, that the money spent on carrying the Union, would have built a bridge from Howth to Holyhead.
+ In James the Second's reign some of the measures were calculated to be of the greatest service to Ireland, and emanated from a wise and discreet minister, formerly attached to the Protestant interest, the second Earl of Clarendon. His in-. rtructions announced the intention of the legislature, or at least of the King, to introduce Catholics into the corporations, and invest them with magistracies and judicial offices; and he gave his opinion in favour of the legality of the measure, though contrary to an Act of Elizabeth. But the greatest evil which can occur to a reformation, is to have it undertaken by men of small capacity; as their best mtentions are ever marred by their petulance and dulncss. The folly with which James hurried on a change, and the injudiciousness of some of the proposed measures, caused his own ruin, and that of the unhappy country he made the principal scene of his egregious weakness and incapacity. vOL. XI. NO. XLIII. E