WebNovel The History of England, from the Accession of James II Volume III Part 7

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That James would give his a.s.sent to a bill which took from him the power of pardoning, seemed to many persons impossible. He had, four years before, quarrelled with the most loyal of parliaments rather than cede a prerogative which did not belong to him. It might, therefore, well be expected that he would now have struggled hard to retain a precious prerogative which had been enjoyed by his predecessors ever since the origin of the monarchy, and which had never been questioned by the Whigs. The stern look and raised voice with which he had reprimanded the Tory gentlemen, who, in the language of profound reverence and fervent affection, implored him not to dispense with the laws, would now have been in place. He might also have seen that the right course was the wise course. Had he, on this great occasion, had the spirit to declare that he would not shed the blood of the innocent, and that, even as respected the guilty, he would not divest himself of the power of tempering judgment with mercy, he would have regained more hearts in England than he would have lost in Ireland. But it was ever his fate to resist where he should have yielded, and to yield where he should have resisted. The most wicked of all laws received his sanction; and it is but a very small extenuation of his guilt that his sanction was somewhat reluctantly given.

That nothing might be wanting to the completeness of this great crime, extreme care was taken to prevent the persons who were attainted from knowing that they were attainted, till the day of grace fixed in the Act was pa.s.sed. The roll of names was not published, but kept carefully locked up in Fitton’s closet. Some Protestants, who still adhered to the cause of James, but who were anxious to know whether any of their friends or relations had been proscribed, tried hard to obtain a sight of the list; but solicitation, remonstrance, even bribery, proved vain. Not a single copy got abroad till it was too late for any of the thousands who had been condemned without a trial to obtain a pardon, [233]

Towards the close of July James prorogued the Houses. They had sate more than ten weeks; and in that s.p.a.ce of time they had proved most fully that, great as have been the evils which Protestant ascendency has produced in Ireland, the evils produced by Popish ascendancy would have been greater still. That the colonists, when they had won the victory, grossly abused it, that their legislation was, during many years, unjust and tyrannical, is most true. But it is not less true that they never quite came up to the atrocious example set by their vanquished enemy during his short tenure of power.

Indeed, while James was loudly boasting that he had pa.s.sed an Act granting entire liberty of conscience to all sects, a persecution as cruel as that of Languedoc was raging through all the provinces which owned his authority. It was said by those who wished to find an excuse for him that almost all the Protestants who still remained in Munster, Connaught, and Leinster were his enemies, and that it was not as schismatics, but as rebels in heart, who wanted only opportunity to become rebels in act, that he gave them up to be oppressed and despoiled; and to this excuse some weight might have been allowed if he had strenuously exerted himself to protect those few colonists, who, though firmly attached to the reformed religion, were still true to the doctrines of nonresistance and of indefeasible hereditary right. But even these devoted royalists found that their heresy was in his view a crime for which no services or sacrifices would atone. Three or four n.o.blemen, members of the Anglican Church, who had welcomed him to Ireland, and had sate in his Parliament, represented to him that, if the rule which forbade any Protestant to possess any weapon were strictly enforced, their country houses would be at the mercy of the Rapparees, and obtained from him permission to keep arms sufficient for a few servants. But Avaux remonstrated. The indulgence, he said, was grossly abused: these Protestant lords were not to be trusted: they were turning their houses into fortresses: his Majesty would soon have reason to repent his goodness. These representations prevailed; and Roman Catholic troops were quartered in the suspected dwellings, [234]

Still harder was the lot of those Protestant clergymen who continued to cling, with desperate fidelity, to the cause of the Lord’s Anointed. Of all the Anglican divines the one who had the largest share of James’s good graces seems to have been Cartwright. Whether Cartwright could long have continued to be a favourite without being an apostate may be doubted. He died a few weeks after his arrival in Ireland; and thenceforward his church had no one to plead her cause. Nevertheless a few of her prelates and priests continued for a time to teach what they had taught in the days of the Exclusion Bill. But it was at the peril of life or limb that they exercised their functions. Every wearer of a ca.s.sock was a mark for the insults and outrages of soldiers and Rapparees. In the country his house was robbed, and he was fortunate if it was not burned over his head. He was hunted through the streets of Dublin with cries of “There goes the devil of a heretic.” Sometimes he was knocked down: sometimes he was cudgelled, [235] The rulers of the University of Dublin, trained in the Anglican doctrine of pa.s.sive obedience, had greeted James on his first arrival at the Castle, and had been a.s.sured by him that he would protect them in the enjoyment of their property and their privileges. They were now, without any trial, without any accusation, thrust out of their house. The communion plate of the chapel, the books in the library, the very chairs and beds of the collegians were seized. Part of the building was turned into a magazine, part into a barrack, part into a prison. Simon Luttrell, who was Governor of the capital, was, with great difficulty and by powerful intercession, induced to let the ejected fellows and scholars depart in safety. He at length permitted them to remain at large, with this condition, that, on pain of death, no three of them should meet together, [236] No Protestant divine suffered more hardships than Doctor William King, Dean of Saint Patrick’s. He had been long distinguished by the fervour with which he had inculcated the duty of pa.s.sively obeying even the worst rulers. At a later period, when he had published a defence of the Revolution, and had accepted a mitre from the new government, he was reminded that he had invoked the divine vengeance on the usurpers, and had declared himself willing to die a hundred deaths rather than desert the cause of hereditary right. He had said that the true religion had often been strengthened by persecution, but could never be strengthened by rebellion; that it would be a glorious day for the Church of England when a whole cartload of her ministers should go to the gallows for the doctrine of nonresistance; and that his highest ambition was to be one of such a company, [237] It is not improbable that, when he spoke thus, he felt as he spoke. But his principles, though they might perhaps have held out against the severities and the promises of William, were not proof against the ingrat.i.tude of James.

Human nature at last a.s.serted its rights. After King had been repeatedly imprisoned by the government to which he was devotedly attached, after he had been insulted and threatened in his own choir by the soldiers, after he had been interdicted from burying in his own churchyard, and from preaching in his own pulpit, after he had narrowly escaped with life from a musketshot fired at him in the street, he began to think the Whig theory of government less unreasonable and unchristian than it had once appeared to him, and persuaded himself that the oppressed Church might lawfully accept deliverance, if G.o.d should be pleased, by whatever means, to send it to her.

In no long time it appeared that James would have done well to hearken to those counsellors who had told him that the acts by which he was trying to make himself popular in one of his three kingdoms, would make him odious in the others. It was in some sense fortunate for England that, after he had ceased to reign here, he continued during more than a year to reign in Ireland. The Revolution had been followed by a reaction of public feeling in his favour. That reaction, if it had been suffered to proceed uninterrupted, might perhaps not have ceased till he was again King: but it was violently interrupted by himself. He would not suffer his people to forget: he would not suffer them to hope: while they were trying to find excuses for his past errors, and to persuade themselves that he would not repeat these errors, he forced upon them, in their own despite, the conviction that he was incorrigible, that the sharpest discipline of adversity had taught him nothing, and that, if they were weak enough to recall him, they would soon have to depose him again. It was in vain that the Jacobites put forth pamphlets about the cruelty with which he had been treated by those who were nearest to him in blood, about the imperious temper and uncourteous manners of William, about the favour shown to the Dutch, about the heavy taxes, about the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, about the dangers which threatened the Church from the enmity of Puritans and Lat.i.tudinarians. James refuted these pamphlets far more effectually than all the ablest and most eloquent Whig writers united could have done. Every week came the news that he had pa.s.sed some new Act for robbing or murdering Protestants. Every colonist who succeeded in stealing across the sea from Leinster to Holyhead or Bristol, brought fearful reports of the tyranny under which his brethren groaned. What impression these reports made on the Protestants of our island may be easily inferred from the fact that they moved the indignation of Ronquillo, a Spaniard and a bigoted member of the Church of Rome. He informed his Court that, though the English laws against Popery might seem severe, they were so much mitigated by the prudence and humanity of the Government, that they caused no annoyance to quiet people; and he took upon himself to a.s.sure the Holy See that what a Roman Catholic suffered in London was nothing when compared with what a Protestant suffered in Ireland, [238]

The fugitive Englishry found in England warm sympathy and munificent relief. Many were received into the houses of friends and kinsmen.

Many were indebted for the means of subsistence to the liberality of strangers. Among those who bore a part in this work of mercy, none contributed more largely or less ostentatiously than the Queen. The House of Commons placed at the King’s disposal fifteen thousand pounds for the relief of those refugees whose wants were most pressing, and requested him to give commissions in the army to those who were qualified for military employment, [239] An Act was also pa.s.sed enabling beneficed clergymen who had fled from Ireland to hold preferment in England, [240] Yet the interest which the nation felt in these unfortunate guests was languid when compared with the interest excited by that portion of the Saxon colony which still maintained in Ulster a desperate conflict against overwhelming odds. On this subject scarcely one dissentient voice was to be heard in our island. Whigs, Tories, nay even those Jacobites in whom Jacobitism had not extinguished every patriotic sentiment, gloried in the glory of Enniskillen and Londonderry. The House of Commons was all of one mind. “This is no time to be counting cost,” said honest Birch, who well remembered the way in which Oliver had made war on the Irish. “Are those brave fellows in Londonderry to be deserted? If we lose them will not all the world cry shame upon us? A boom across the river! Why have we not cut the boom in pieces? Are our brethren to perish almost in sight of England, within a few hours’ voyage of our sh.o.r.es?” [241] Howe, the most vehement man of one party, declared that the hearts of the people were set on Ireland.

Seymour, the leader of the other party, declared that, though he had not taken part in setting up the new government, he should cordially support it in all that might be necessary for the preservation of Ireland, [242] The Commons appointed a committee to enquire into the cause of the delays and miscarriages which had been all but fatal to the Englishry of Ulster. The officers to whose treachery or cowardice the public ascribed the calamities of Londonderry were put under arrest. Lundy was sent to the Tower, Cunningham to the Gate House. The agitation of the public mind was in some degree calmed by the announcement that, before the end of the summer, an army powerful enough to reestablish the English ascendency in Ireland would be sent across Saint George’s Channel, and that Schomberg would be the General. In the meantime an expedition which was thought to be sufficient for the relief of Londonderry was despatched from Liverpool under the command of Kirke. The dogged obstinacy with which this man had, in spite of royal solicitations, adhered to his religion, and the part which he had taken in the Revolution, had perhaps ent.i.tled him to an amnesty for past crimes. But it is difficult to understand why the Government should have selected for a post of the highest importance an officer who was generally and justly hated, who had never shown eminent talents for war, and who, both in Africa and in England, had notoriously tolerated among his soldiers a licentiousness, not only shocking to humanity, but also incompatible with discipline.

On the sixteenth of May, Kirke’s troops embarked: on the twenty-second they sailed: but contrary winds made the pa.s.sage slow, and forced the armament to stop long at the Isle of Man. Meanwhile the Protestants of Ulster were defending themselves with stubborn courage against a great superiority of force. The Enniskilleners had never ceased to wage a vigorous partisan war against the native population. Early in May they marched to encounter a large body of troops from Connaught, who had made an inroad into Donegal. The Irish were speedily routed, and fled to Sligo with the loss of a hundred and twenty men killed and sixty taken.

Two small pieces of artillery and several horses fell into the hands of the conquerors. Elated by this success, the Enniskilleners soon invaded the county of Cavan, drove before them fifteen hundred of James’s troops, took and destroyed the castle of Ballincarrig, reputed the strongest in that part of the kingdom, and carried off the pikes and muskets of the garrison. The next incursion was into Meath. Three thousand oxen and two thousand sheep were swept away and brought safe to the little island in Lough Erne. These daring exploits spread terror even to the gates of Dublin. Colonel Hugh Sutherland was ordered to march against Enniskillen with a regiment of dragoons and two regiments of foot. He carried with him arms for the native peasantry; and many repaired to his standard. The Enniskilleners did not wait till he came into their neighbourhood, but advanced to encounter him. He declined an action, and retreated, leaving his stores at Belturbet under the care of a detachment of three hundred soldiers. The Protestants attacked Belturbet with vigour, made their way into a lofty house which overlooked the town, and thence opened such a fire that in two hours the garrison surrendered. Seven hundred muskets, a great quant.i.ty of powder, many horses, many sacks of biscuits, many barrels of meal, were taken, and were sent to Enniskillen. The boats which brought these precious spoils were joyfully welcomed. The fear of hunger was removed. While the aboriginal population had, in many counties, altogether neglected the cultivation of the earth, in the expectation, it should seem, that marauding would prove an inexhaustible resource, the colonists, true to the provident and industrious character of their race, had, in the midst of war, not omitted carefully to till the soil in the neighbourhood of their strongholds. The harvest was now not far remote; and, till the harvest, the food taken from the enemy would be amply sufficient, [243]

Yet, in the midst of success and plenty, the Enniskilleners were tortured by a cruel anxiety for Londonderry. They were bound to the defenders of that city, not only by religious and national sympathy, but by common interest. For there could be no doubt that, if Londonderry fell, the whole Irish army would instantly march in irresistible force upon Lough Erne. Yet what could be done? Some brave men were for making a desperate attempt to relieve the besieged city; but the odds were too great. Detachments however were sent which infested the rear of the blockading army, cut off supplies, and, on one occasion, carried away the horses of three entire troops of cavalry, [244] Still the line of posts which surrounded Londonderry by land remained unbroken. The river was still strictly closed and guarded. Within the walls the distress had become extreme. So early as the eighth of June horseflesh was almost the only meat which could be purchased; and of horseflesh the supply was scanty. It was necessary to make up the deficiency with tallow; and even tallow was doled out with a parsimonious hand.

On the fifteenth of June a gleam of hope appeared. The sentinels on the top of the Cathedral saw sails nine miles off in the bay of Lough Foyle.

Thirty vessels of different sizes were counted. Signals were made from the steeples and returned from the mast heads, but were imperfectly understood on both sides. At last a messenger from the fleet eluded the Irish sentinels, dived under the boom, and informed the garrison that Kirke had arrived from England with troops, arms, ammunition, and provisions, to relieve the city, [245]

In Londonderry expectation was at the height: but a few hours of feverish joy were followed by weeks of misery. Kirke thought it unsafe to make any attempt, either by land or by water, on the lines of the besiegers, and retired to the entrance of Lough Foyle, where, during several weeks, he lay inactive.

And now the pressure of famine became every day more severe. A strict search was made in all the recesses of all the houses of the city; and some provisions, which had been concealed in cellars by people who had since died or made their escape, were discovered and carried to the magazines. The stock of cannon b.a.l.l.s was almost exhausted; and their place was supplied by brickbats coated with lead. Pestilence began, as usual, to make its appearance in the train of hunger. Fifteen officers died of fever in one day. The Governor Baker was among those who sank under the disease. His place was supplied by Colonel John Mitchelburne, [246]

Meanwhile it was known at Dublin that Kirke and his squadron were on the coast of Ulster. The alarm was great at the Castle. Even before this news arrived, Avaux had given it as his opinion that Richard Hamilton was unequal to the difficulties of the situation. It had therefore been resolved that Rosen should take the chief command. He was now sent down with all speed, [247]

On the nineteenth of June he arrived at the head quarter of the besieging army. At first he attempted to undermine the walls; but his plan was discovered; and he was compelled to abandon it after a sharp fight, in which more than a hundred of his men were slain. Then his fury rose to a strange pitch. He, an old soldier, a Marshal of France in expectancy, trained in the school of the greatest generals, accustomed, during many years, to scientific war, to be baffled by a mob of country gentlemen, farmers, shopkeepers, who were protected only by a wall which any good engineer would at once have p.r.o.nounced untenable! He raved, he blasphemed, in a language of his own, made up of all the dialects spoken from the Baltic to the Atlantic. He would raze the city to the ground: he would spare no living thing; no, not the young girls; not the babies at the breast. As to the leaders, death was too light a punishment for them: he would rack them: he would roast them alive. In his rage he ordered a sh.e.l.l to be flung into the town with a letter containing a horrible menace. He would, he said, gather into one body all the Protestants who had remained at their homes between Charlemont and the sea, old men, women, children, many of them near in blood and affection to the defenders of Londonderry. No protection, whatever might be the authority by which it had been given, should be respected. The mult.i.tude thus brought together should be driven under the walls of Londonderry, and should there be starved to death in the sight of their countrymen, their friends, their kinsmen. This was no idle threat. Parties were instantly sent out in all directions to collect victims. At dawn, on the morning of the second of July, hundreds of Protestants, who were charged with no crime, who were incapable of bearing arms, and many of whom had protections granted by James, were dragged to the gates of the city.

It was imagined that the piteous sight would quell the spirit of the colonists. But the only effect was to rouse that spirit to still greater energy. An order was immediately put forth that no man should utter the word Surrender on pain of death; and no man uttered that word. Several prisoners of high rank were in the town. Hitherto they had been well treated, and had received as good rations as were measured out to the garrison. They were now, closely confined. A gallows was erected on one of the bastion; and a message was conveyed to Rosen, requesting him to send a confessor instantly to prepare his friends for death. The prisoners in great dismay wrote to the savage Livonian, but received no answer. They then addressed themselves to their countryman, Richard Hamilton. They were willing, they said, to shed their blood for their King; but they thought it hard to die the ignominious death of thieves in consequence of the barbarity of their own companions in arms.

Hamilton, though a man of lax principles, was not cruel. He had been disgusted by the inhumanity of Rosen, but, being only second in command, could not venture to express publicly all that he thought. He however remonstrated strongly. Some Irish officers felt on this occasion as it was natural that brave men should feel, and declared, weeping with pity and indignation, that they should never cease to have in their ears the cries of the poor women and children who had been driven at the point of the pike to die of famine between the camp and the city. Rosen persisted during forty-eight hours. In that time many unhappy creatures perished: but Londonderry held out as resolutely as ever; and he saw that his crime was likely to produce nothing but hatred and obloquy. He at length gave way, and suffered the survivors to withdraw. The garrison then took down the gallows which had been erected on the bastion, [248]

When the tidings of these events reached Dublin, James, though by no means p.r.o.ne to compa.s.sion, was startled by an atrocity of which the civil wars of England had furnished no example, and was displeased by learning that protections, given by his authority, and guaranteed by his honour, had been publicly declared to be nullities. He complained to the French amba.s.sador, and said, with a warmth which the occasion fully justified, that Rosen was a barbarous Muscovite. Melfort could not refrain from adding that, if Rosen had been an Englishman, he would have been hanged. Avaux was utterly unable to understand this effeminate sensibility. In his opinion, nothing had been done that was at all reprehensible; and he had some difficulty in commanding himself when he heard the King and the secretary blame, in strong language, an act of wholesome severity, [249] In truth the French amba.s.sador and the French general were well paired. There was a great difference doubtless, in appearance and manner, between the handsome, graceful, and refined diplomatist, whose dexterity and suavity had been renowned at the most polite courts of Europe, and the military adventurer, whose look and voice reminded all who came near him that he had been born in a half savage country, that he had risen from the ranks, and that he had once been sentenced to death for marauding. But the heart of the courtier was really even more callous than that of the soldier.

Rosen was recalled to Dublin; and Richard Hamilton was again left in the chief command. He tried gentler means than those which had brought so much reproach on his predecessor. No trick, no lie, which was thought likely to discourage the starving garrison was spared. One day a great shout was raised by the whole Irish camp. The defenders of Londonderry were soon informed that the army of James was rejoicing on account of the fall of Enniskillen. They were told that they had now no chance of being relieved, and were exhorted to save their lives by capitulating.

They consented to negotiate. But what they asked was, that they should be permitted to depart armed and in military array, by land or by water at their choice. They demanded hostages for the exact fulfilment of these conditions, and insisted that the hostages should be sent on board of the fleet which lay in Lough Foyle. Such terms Hamilton durst not grant: the Governors would abate nothing: the treaty was broken off; and the conflict recommenced, [250]

By this time July was far advanced; and the state of the city was, hour by hour, becoming more frightful. The number of the inhabitants had been thinned more by famine and disease than by the fire of the enemy. Yet that fire was sharper and more constant than ever. One of the gates was beaten in: one of the bastions was laid in ruins; but the breaches made by day were repaired by night with indefatigable activity. Every attack was still repelled. But the fighting men of the garrison were so much exhausted that they could scarcely keep their legs. Several of them, in the act of striking at the enemy, fell down from mere weakness. A very small quant.i.ty of grain remained, and was doled out by mouthfuls. The stock of salted hides was considerable, and by gnawing them the garrison appeased the rage of hunger. Dogs, fattened on the blood of the slain who lay unburied round the town, were luxuries which few could afford to purchase. The price of a whelp’s paw was five shillings and sixpence.

Nine horses were still alive, and but barely alive. They were so lean that little meat was likely to be found upon them. It was, however, determined to slaughter them for food. The people perished so fast that it was impossible for the survivors to perform the rites of sepulture.

There was scarcely a cellar in which some corpse was not decaying. Such was the extremity of distress, that the rats who came to feast in those hideous dens were eagerly hunted and greedily devoured. A small fish, caught in the river, was not to be purchased with money. The only price for which such a treasure could be obtained was some handfuls of oatmeal. Leprosies, such as strange and unwholesome diet engenders, made existence a constant torment. The whole city was poisoned by the stench exhaled from the bodies of the dead and of the half dead. That there should be fits of discontent and insubordination among men enduring such misery was inevitable. At one moment it was suspected that Walker had laid up somewhere a secret store of food, and was revelling in private, while he exhorted others to suffer resolutely for the good cause. His house was strictly examined: his innocence was fully proved: he regained his popularity; and the garrison, with death in near prospect, thronged to the cathedral to hear him preach, drank in his earnest eloquence with delight, and went forth from the house of G.o.d with haggard faces and tottering steps, but with spirit still unsubdued. There were, indeed, some secret plottings. A very few obscure traitors opened communications with the enemy. But it was necessary that all such dealings should be carefully concealed. None dared to utter publicly any words save words of defiance and stubborn resolution. Even in that extremity the general cry was “No surrender.” And there were not wanting voices which, in low tones, added, “First the horses and hides; and then the prisoners; and then each other.” It was afterwards related, half in jest, yet not without a horrible mixture of earnest, that a corpulent citizen, whose bulk presented a strange contrast to the skeletons which surrounded him, thought it expedient to conceal himself from the numerous eyes which followed him with cannibal looks whenever he appeared in the streets, [251]

It was no slight aggravation of the sufferings of the garrison that all this time the English ships were seen far off in Lough Foyle.

Communication between the fleet and the city was almost impossible.

One diver who had attempted to pa.s.s the boom was drowned. Another was hanged. The language of signals was hardly intelligible. On the thirteenth of July, however, a piece of paper sewed up in a cloth b.u.t.ton came to Walker’s hands. It was a letter from Kirke, and contained a.s.surances of speedy relief. But more than a fortnight of intense misery had since elapsed; and the hearts of the most sanguine were sick with deferred hope. By no art could the provisions which were left be made to hold out two days more, [252]

Just at this time Kirke received a despatch from England, which contained positive orders that Londonderry should be relieved. He accordingly determined to make an attempt which, as far as appears, he might have made, with at least an equally fair prospect of success, six weeks earlier, [253]

Among the merchant ships which had come to Lough Foyle under his convoy was one called the Mountjoy. The master, Micaiah Browning, a native of Londonderry, had brought from England a large cargo of provisions. He had, it is said, repeatedly remonstrated against the inaction of the armament. He now eagerly volunteered to take the first risk of succouring his fellow citizens; and his offer was accepted. Andrew Douglas, master of the Phoenix, who had on board a great quant.i.ty of meal from Scotland, was willing to share the danger and the honour.

The two merchantmen were to be escorted by the Dartmouth frigate of thirty-six guns, commanded by Captain John Leake, afterwards an admiral of great fame.

It was the thirtieth of July. The sun had just set: the evening sermon in the cathedral was over; and the heartbroken congregation had separated, when the sentinels on the tower saw the sails of three vessels coming up the Foyle. Soon there was a stir in the Irish camp.

The besiegers were on the alert for miles along both sh.o.r.es. The ships were in extreme peril: for the river was low; and the only navigable channel Tan very near to the left bank, where the head quarters of the enemy had been fixed, and where the batteries were most numerous.

Leake performed his duty with a skill and spirit worthy of his n.o.ble profession, exposed his frigate to cover the merchantmen, and used his guns with great effect. At length the little squadron came to the place of peril. Then the Mountjoy took the lead, and went right at the bottom.

The huge barricade cracked and gave way: but the shock was such that the Mountjoy rebounded, and stuck in the mud. A yell of triumph rose from the banks: the Irish rushed to their boats, and were preparing to board; but the Dartmouth poured on them a well directed broadside, which threw them into disorder. Just then the Phoenix dashed at the breach which the Mountjoy had made, and was in a moment within the fence. Meantime the tide was rising fast. The Mountjoy began to move, and soon pa.s.sed safe through the broken stakes and floating spars. But her brave master was no more. A shot from one of the batteries had struck him; and he died by the most enviable of all deaths, in sight of the city which was his birthplace, which was his home, and which had just been saved by his courage and self-devotion from the most frightful form of destruction.

The night had closed in before the conflict at the boom began; but the flash of the guns was seen, and the noise heard, by the lean and ghastly mult.i.tude which covered the walls of the city. When the Mountjoy grounded, and when the shout of triumph rose from the Irish on both sides of the river, the hearts of the besieged died within them. One who endured the unutterable anguish of that moment has told that they looked fearfully livid in each other’s eyes. Even after the barricade had been pa.s.sed, there was a terrible half hour of suspense. It was ten o’clock before the ships arrived at the quay. The whole population was there to welcome them. A screen made of casks filled with earth was hastily thrown up to protect the landing place from the batteries on the other side of the river; and then the work of unloading began. First were rolled on sh.o.r.e barrels containing six thousand bushels of meal. Then came great cheeses, casks of beef, flitches of bacon, kegs of b.u.t.ter, sacks of Pease and biscuit, ankers of brandy. Not many hours before, half a pound of tallow and three quarters of a pound of salted hide had been weighed out with n.i.g.g.ardly care to every fighting man. The ration which each now received was three pounds of flour, two pounds of beef, and a pint of Pease. It is easy to imagine with what tears grace was said over the suppers of that evening. There was little sleep on either side of the wall. The bonfires shone bright along the whole circuit of the ramparts. The Irish guns continued to roar all night; and all night the bells of the rescued city made answer to the Irish guns with a peal of joyous defiance. Through the whole of the thirty-first of July the batteries of the enemy continued to play. But, soon after the sun had again gone down, flames were seen arising from the camp; and, when the first of August dawned, a line of smoking ruins marked the site lately occupied by the huts of the besiegers; and the citizens saw far off the long column of pikes and standards retreating up the left bank of the Foyle towards Strabane, [254]

So ended this great siege, the most memorable in the annals of the British isles. It had lasted a hundred and five days. The garrison had been reduced from about seven thousand effective men to about three thousand. The loss of the besiegers cannot be precisely ascertained.

Walker estimated it at eight thousand men. It is certain from the despatches of Avaux that the regiments which returned from the blockade had been so much thinned that many of them were not more than two hundred strong. Of thirty-six French gunners who had superintended the cannonading, thirty-one had been killed or disabled, [255] The means both of attack and of defence had undoubtedly been such as would have moved the great warriors of the Continent to laughter; and this is the very circ.u.mstance which gives so peculiar an interest to the history of the contest. It was a contest, not between engineers, but between nations; and the victory remained with the nation which, though inferior in number, was superior in civilisation, in capacity for selfgovernment, and in stubbornness of resolution, [256]

As soon as it was known that the Irish army had retired, a deputation from the city hastened to Lough Foyle, and invited Kirk to take the command. He came accompanied by a long train of officers, and was received in state by the two Governors, who delivered up to him the authority which, under the pressure of necessity, they had a.s.sumed.

He remained only a few days; but he had time to show enough of the incurable vices of his character to disgust a population distinguished by austere morals and ardent public spirit. There was, however, no outbreak. The city was in the highest good humour. Such quant.i.ties of provisions had been landed from the fleet, that there was in every house a plenty never before known. A few days earlier a man had been glad to obtain for twenty pence a mouthful of carrion sc.r.a.ped from the bones of a starved horse. A pound of good beef was now sold for three halfpence.

Meanwhile all hands were busied in removing corpses which had been thinly covered with earth, in filling up the holes which the sh.e.l.ls had ploughed in the ground, and in repairing the battered roofs of the houses. The recollection of past dangers and privations, and the consciousness of having deserved well of the English nation and of all Protestant Churches, swelled the hearts of the townspeople with honest pride. That pride grew stronger when they received from William a letter acknowledging, in the most affectionate language, the debt which he owed to the brave and trusty citizens of his good city. The whole population crowded to the Diamond to hear the royal epistle read. At the close all the guns on the ramparts sent forth a voice of joy: all the ships in the river made answer: barrels of ale were broken up; and the health of their Majesties was drunk with shouts and volleys of musketry.

Five generations have since pa.s.sed away; and still the wall of Londonderry is to the Protestants of Ulster what the trophy of Marathon was to the Athenians. A lofty pillar, rising from a bastion which bore during many weeks the heaviest fire of the enemy, is seen far up and far down the Foyle. On the summit is the statue of Walker, such as when, in the last and most terrible emergency, his eloquence roused the fainting courage of his brethren. In one hand he grasps a Bible. The other, pointing down the river, seems to direct the eyes of his famished audience to the English topmasts in the distant bay. Such a monument was well deserved: yet it was scarcely needed: for in truth the whole city is to this day a monument of the great deliverance. The wall is carefully preserved; nor would any plea of health or convenience be held by the inhabitants sufficient to justify the demolition of that sacred enclosure which, in the evil time, gave shelter to their race and their religion, [257] The summit of the ramparts forms a pleasant walk. The bastions have been turned into little gardens. Here and there, among the shrubs and flowers, may be seen the old culverins which scattered bricks, cased with lead, among the Irish ranks. One antique gun, the gift of the Fishmongers of London, was distinguished, during the hundred and five memorable days, by the loudness of its report, and still bears the name of Roaring Meg. The cathedral is filled with relics and trophies. In the vestibule is a huge sh.e.l.l, one of many hundreds of sh.e.l.ls which were thrown into the city. Over the altar are still seen the French flagstaves, taken by the garrison in a desperate sally. The white ensigns of the House of Bourbon have long been dust: but their place has been supplied by new banners, the work of the fairest hands of Ulster. The anniversary of the day on which the gates were closed, and the anniversary of the day on which the siege was raised, have been down to our own time celebrated by salutes, processions, banquets, and sermons: Lundy has been executed in effigy; and the sword, said by tradition to be that of Maumont, has, on great occasions, been carried in triumph. There is still a Walker Club and a Murray Club. The humble tombs of the Protestant captains have been carefully sought out, repaired, and embellished. It is impossible not to respect the sentiment which indicates itself by these tokens. It is a sentiment which belongs to the higher and purer part of human nature, and which adds not a little to the strength of states. A people which takes no pride in the n.o.ble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve any thing worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants. Yet it is impossible for the moralist or the statesman to look with unmixed complacency on the solemnities with which Londonderry commemorates her deliverance, and on the honours which she pays to those who saved her.

Unhappily the animosities of her brave champions have descended with their glory. The faults which are ordinarily found in dominant castes and dominant sects have not seldom shown themselves without disguise at her festivities; and even with the expressions of pious grat.i.tude which have resounded from her pulpits have too often been mingled words of wrath and defiance.

The Irish army which had retreated to Strabane remained there but a very short time. The spirit of the troops had been depressed by their recent failure, and was soon completely cowed by the news of a great disaster in another quarter.

Three weeks before this time the Duke of Berwick had gained an advantage over a detachment of the Enniskilleners, and had, by their own confession, killed or taken more than fifty of them. They were in hopes of obtaining some a.s.sistance from Kirke, to whom they had sent a deputation; and they still persisted in rejecting all terms offered by the enemy. It was therefore determined at Dublin that an attack should be made upon them from several quarters at once. Macarthy, who had been rewarded for his services in Munster with the t.i.tle of Viscount Mountcashel, marched towards Lough Erne from the east with three regiments of foot, two regiments of dragoons, and some troops of cavalry. A considerable force, which lay encamped near the mouth of the river Drowes, was at the same time to advance from the west. The Duke of Berwick was to come from the north, with such horse and dragoons as could be spared from the army which was besieging Londonderry. The Enniskilleners were not fully apprised of the whole plan which had been laid for their destruction; but they knew that Macarthy was on the road with a force exceeding any which they could bring into the field. Their anxiety was in some degree relieved by the return of the deputation which they had sent to Kirke. Kirke could spare no soldiers; but he had sent some arms, some ammunition, and some experienced officers, of whom the chief were Colonel Wolseley and Lieutenant Colonel Berry. These officers had come by sea round the coast of Donegal, and had run up the Line. On Sunday, the twenty-ninth of July, it was known that their boat was approaching the island of Enniskillen. The whole population, male and female, came to the sh.o.r.e to greet them. It was with difficulty, that they made their way to the Castle through the crowds which hung on them, blessing G.o.d that dear old England had not quite forgotten the Englishmen who upheld her cause against great odds in the heart of Ireland.

Wolseley seems to have been in every respect well qualified for his post. He was a stanch Protestant, had distinguished himself among the Yorkshiremen who rose up for the Prince of Orange and a free Parliament, and had, if he is not belied, proved his zeal for liberty and pure religion, by causing the Mayor of Scarborough, who had made a speech in favour of King James, to be brought into the market place and well tossed there in a blanket, [258] This vehement hatred of Popery was, in the estimation of the men of Enniskillen, the first of all qualifications for command: and Wolseley had other and more important qualifications. Though himself regularly bred to war, he seems to have had a peculiar apt.i.tude for the management of irregular troops. He had scarcely taken on himself the chief command when he received notice that Mountcashel had laid siege to the Castle of Crum. Crum was the frontier garrison of the Protestants of Fermanagh. The ruins of the old fortifications are now among the attractions of a beautiful pleasureground, situated on a woody promontory which overlooks Lough Erne. Wolseley determined to raise the siege. He sent Berry forward with such troops as could be instantly put in motion, and promised to follow speedily with a larger force.

Berry, after marching some miles, encountered thirteen companies of Macarthy’s dragoons commanded by Anthony, the most brilliant and accomplished of all who bore the name of Hamilton, but much less successful as a soldier than as a courtier, a lover, and a writer.

Hamilton’s dragoons ran at the first fire: he was severely wounded; and his second in command was shot dead. Macarthy soon came up to support Hamilton; and at the same time Wolseley came up to support Berry. The hostile armies were now in presence of each other. Macarthy had above five thousand men and several pieces of artillery. The Enniskilleners were under three thousand; and they had marched in such haste that they had brought only one day’s provisions. It was therefore absolutely necessary for them either to fight instantly or to retreat. Wolseley determined to consult the men; and this determination, which, in ordinary circ.u.mstances, would have been most unworthy of a general, was fully justified by the peculiar composition and temper of the little army, an army made up of gentlemen and yeomen fighting, not for pay, but for their lands, their wives, their children, and their G.o.d. The ranks were drawn up under arms; and the question was put, “Advance or Retreat?” The answer was an universal shout of “Advance.” Wolseley gave out the word, “No Popery.” It was received with loud applause. He instantly made his dispositions for an attack. As he approached, the enemy, to his great surprise, began to retire. The Enniskilleners were eager to pursue with all speed: but their commander, suspecting a snare, restrained their ardour, and positively forbade them to break their ranks. Thus one army retreated and the other followed, in good order, through the little town of Newton Butler. About a mile from that town the Irish faced about, and made a stand. Their position was well chosen.

They were drawn up on a hill at the foot of which lay a deep bog. A narrow paved causeway which ran across the bog was the only road by which the cavalry of the Enniskilleners could advance; for on the right and left were pools, turf pits, and quagmires, which afforded no footing to horses. Macarthy placed his cannon in such a manner as to sweep this causeway.

Wolseley ordered his infantry to the attack. They struggled through the bog, made their way to firm ground, and rushed on the guns. There was then a short and desperate fight. The Irish cannoneers stood gallantly to their pieces till they were cut down to a man. The Enniskillen horse, no longer in danger of being mowed down by the fire of the artillery, came fast up the causeway. The Irish dragoons who had run away in the morning were smitten with another panic, and, without striking a blow, galloped from the field. The horse followed the example. Such was the terror of the fugitives that many of them spurred hard till their beasts fell down, and then continued to fly on foot, throwing away carbines, swords, and even coats as inc.u.mbrances. The infantry, seeing themselves deserted, flung down their pikes and muskets and ran for their lives.

The conquerors now gave loose to that ferocity which has seldom failed to disgrace the civil wars of Ireland. The butchery was terrible. Near fifteen hundred of the vanquished were put to the sword. About five hundred more, in ignorance of the country, took a road which led to Lough Erne. The lake was before them: the enemy behind: they plunged into the waters and perished there. Macarthy, abandoned by his troops, rushed into the midst of the pursuers and very nearly found the death which he sought. He was wounded in several places: he was struck to the ground; and in another moment his brains would have been knocked out with the b.u.t.t end of a musket, when he was recognised and saved. The colonists lost only twenty men killed and fifty wounded. They took four hundred prisoners, seven pieces of cannon, fourteen barrels of powder, all the drums and all the colours of the vanquished enemy, [259]

The battle of Newton Butler was won on the same afternoon on which the boom thrown over the Foyle was broken. At Strabane the news met the Celtic army which was retreating from Londonderry. All was terror and confusion: the tents were struck: the military stores were flung by waggon loads into the waters of the Mourne; and the dismayed Irish, leaving many sick and wounded to the mercy of the victorious Protestants, fled to Omagh, and thence to Charlemont. Sarsfield, who commanded at Sligo, found it necessary to abandon that town, which was instantly occupied by a detachment of Kirke’s troops, [260] Dublin was in consternation. James dropped words which indicated an intention of flying to the Continent. Evil tidings indeed came fast upon him. Almost at the same time at which he learned that one of his armies had raised the siege of Londonderry, and that another had been routed at Newton Butler, he received intelligence scarcely less disheartening from Scotland.

It is now necessary to trace the progress of those events to which Scotland owes her political and her religious liberty, her prosperity and her civilisation.


The Revolution more violent in Scotland than in England–Elections for the Convention; Rabbling of the Episcopal Clergy–State of Edinburgh–Question of an Union between England and Scotland raised–Wish of the English Low Churchmen to preserve Episcopacy in Scotland–Opinions of William about Church Government in Scotland–Comparative Strength of Religious Parties in Scotland–Letter from William to the Scotch Convention–William’s Instructions to his Agents in Scotland; the Dalrymples–Melville–James’s Agents in Scotland: Dundee; Balcarras–Meeting of the Convention–Hamilton elected President–Committee of Elections; Edinburgh Castle summoned–Dundee threatened by the Covenanters–Letter from James to the Convention–Effect of James’s Letter–Flight of Dundee–Tumultuous Sitting of the Convention–A Committee appointed to frame a Plan of Government–Resolutions proposed by the Committee–William and Mary proclaimed; the Claim of Right; Abolition of Episcopacy–Torture–William and Mary accept the Crown of Scotland–Discontent of the Covenanters–Ministerial Arrangements in Scotland–Hamilton; Crawford–The Dalrymples; Lockhart; Montgomery–Melville; Carstairs–The Club formed: Annandale; Ross–Hume; Fletcher of Saltoun–War breaks out in the Highlands; State of the Highlands–Peculiar Nature of Jacobitism in the Highlands–Jealousy of the Ascendency of the Campbells–The Stewarts and Macnaghtens–The Macleans; the Camerons: Lochiel–The Macdonalds; Feud between the Macdonalds and Mackintoshes; Inverness–Inverness threatened by Macdonald of Keppoch–Dundee appears in Keppoch’s Camp–Insurrection of the Clans hostile to the Campbells–Tarbet’s Advice to the Government–Indecisive Campaign in the Highlands–Military Character of the Highlanders–Quarrels in the Highland Army–Dundee applies to James for a.s.sistance; the War in the Highlands suspended–Scruples of the Covenanters about taking Arms for King William–The Cameronian Regiment raised–Edinburgh Castle surrenders–Session of Parliament at Edinburgh–Ascendancy of the Club–Troubles in Athol–The War breaks out again in the Highlands–Death of Dundee–Retreat of Mackay–Effect of the Battle of Killiecrankie; the Scottish Parliament adjourned–The Highland Army reinforced–Skirmish at Saint Johnston’s–Disorders in the Highland Army–Mackay’s Advice disregarded by the Scotch Ministers–The Cameronians stationed at Dunkeld–The Highlanders attack the Cameronians and are repulsed–Dissolution of the Highland Army; Intrigues of the Club; State of the Lowlands

THE violence of revolutions is generally proportioned to the degree of the maladministration which has produced them. It is therefore not strange that the government of Scotland, having been during many years far more oppressive and corrupt than the government of England, should have fallen with a far heavier ruin. The movement against the last king of the House of Stuart was in England conservative, in Scotland destructive. The English complained, not of the law, but of the violation of the law. They rose up against the first magistrate merely in order to a.s.sert the supremacy of the law. They were for the most part strongly attached to the Church established by law. Even in applying that extraordinary remedy to which an extraordinary emergency compelled them to have recourse, they deviated as little as possible from the ordinary methods prescribed by the law. The Convention which met at Westminster, though summoned by irregular writs, was const.i.tuted on the exact model of a regular Parliament. No man was invited to the Upper House whose right to sit there was not clear. The knights and burgesses were chosen by those electors who would have been ent.i.tled to choose the members of a House of Commons called under the great seal. The franchises of the forty shilling freeholder, of the householder paying scot and lot, of the burgage tenant, of the liveryman of London, of the Master of Arts of Oxford, were respected. The sense of the const.i.tuent bodies was taken with as little violence on the part of mobs, with as little trickery on the part of returning officers, as at any general election of that age. When at length the Estates met, their deliberations were carried on with perfect freedom and in strict accordance with ancient forms. There was indeed, after the first flight of James, an alarming anarchy in London and in some parts of the country. But that anarchy nowhere lasted longer than forty-eight hours.

From the day on which William reached Saint James’s, not even the most unpopular agents of the fallen government, not even the ministers of the Roman Catholic Church, had any thing to fear from the fury of the populace.

In Scotland the course of events was very different. There the law itself was a grievance; and James had perhaps incurred more unpopularity by enforcing it than by violating it. The Church established by law was the most odious inst.i.tution in the realm. The tribunals had p.r.o.nounced some sentences so flagitious, the Parliament had pa.s.sed some acts so oppressive, that, unless those sentences and those Acts were treated as nullities, it would be impossible to bring together a Convention commanding the public respect and expressing the public opinion. It was hardly to be expected, for example, that the Whigs, in this day of their power, would endure to see their hereditary leader, the son of a martyr, the grandson of a martyr, excluded from the Parliament House in which nine of his ancestors had sate as Earls of Argyle, and excluded by a judgment on which the whole kingdom cried shame. Still less was it to be expected that they would suffer the election of members for counties and towns to be conducted according to the provisions of the existing law.

For under the existing law no elector could vote without swearing that he renounced the Covenant, and that he acknowledged the Royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, [261] Such an oath no rigid Presbyterian could take. If such an oath had been exacted, the const.i.tuent bodies would have been merely small knots of prelatists: the business of devising securities against oppression would have been left to the oppressors; and the great party which had been most active in effecting the Revolution would, in an a.s.sembly sprung from the Revolution, have had not a single representative, [262]


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