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MISSING CHAPTERS OF IRISH HISTORY.--NO. II.
It is our desire in these chapters to look at Irish affairs with strict impartiality. That is, to take neither a British nor an Irish view of them. We want to contemplate them from a more elevated platform, as they contribute ingredients towards the history of the empire at large. A reference to this object will account for the freedom with which we intermingle praise and blame, and explain much which might otherwise seem inconsistent in our oc. casional estimate of individuals and parties. That it trenches somewhat upon the picturesque effect of the page, we are forced to admit; for partisanship is the colouring matter of history : but the demands of truth ought to be paramount to those of popularity, and we are content to exclude the excitement which can only be secured at the sacrifice of fidelity. Ireland, though still nominally a kingdom, and possessed of a parliament, claimed to be considered, at the time we treat of, no less than now, as an integral part of the British dominions; and, as such, her proper and exclusive interests, so far as they militated against the general welfare of the empire at large, would necessarily have to give place, and this, not from any arbitrary policy pursued towards her, so much as from a natural tendency, which has always caused, and will ever cause, the greater of unequal parts to maintain its central place, and the lesser to re. volve, as it were, about the primary towards which it gravitates, describing an orbit inexplicable unless with reference to the forces which govern its motions. But Ireland had local in. terests antagonistic to imperial ones. She has so still. These interests naturally take the first place in the minds of Irishmen. England, on the other hand, bad - and has - her exclusive views as to Irish affairs. Ireland should have been made to assist the greater country, while she was an inferior, though an independent kingdom. She ought now to bear the heaviest of the burdens which afflict England, for she has been solemnly incorporated with ber in that political wedlock which
gives each to the other “ for better for worse.” Such would be the language of England. Now, in these hostile or rival-principles, amidst something which is wrong, there is much that is wholesome and beneficial. It has worked for the general good, this constantly encroaching tendency on the one side, and jealousy of encroach. ment, on the other. Occasionally inconvenient, and almost disastrous, the spirit of rival nationality has nevertheless preserved, in its action, the due equilibrium, or rather the standard of preponderance, sought to be elevated by the one, and as unduly depressed by the other. Ireland would have been degraded had she not made the struggles, in overcoming which Eng. land proved herself able and worthy to hold the supremacy she had acquired.
He who undertakes to sketch, however slightly, the history of a country circumstanced as was Ireland during the period when her political status was less accurately defined than it is now, must accordingly be very careful not to lose sight of these peculiarities in her condition. He must school himself, by rigid self-discipline, into a phi. losophical comprehensiveness of view, and be ready to extricate himself on every occasion from the network of party influences, which would bind him to one side or the other of a cause in which he is not advocate but judge. There is one advantage gained by such a rule, independent of that highest one of its being the true principle, which is this that it enables him to do justice to both parties. Hitherto Irish history has been intensely English, or intensely Irish. Why should it be either? Why not recognise a neutral ground whereon honest investigators of all parties might meet, and excavate the past ? Our present experiment is in this domain. We are not afraid to venture upon the hitberto untrodden ground, conscious as we are that we carry forward our humble labours in no grovelling spirit. Let those who think differently test what we have exhumed. Acknowledging that the yield
is scanty, and admitting our inability to do full justice to the subject in the form we are restricted to, we yet present what we have found as genuine, and moreover, claim the merit of being the first-or among the first in the
It bas been seen* that immediately after Lord Chancellor Porter's refusal to ratify the appointment of the selfconstituted Lords Justices, Capel, the Lord Deputy, died. This event caused a complete alteration in the face of affairs. The Council was called together by writ, as is usual in such an event; but as soon as the question came to be discussed, as to who should have the chief authority until his Majesty's pleasure should be known, it was shewn how completely the Lord De puty's death had annihilated the inte, rest his intrigues had built up about him. Lord Chancellor Porter was un hesitatingly chosen sole Lord Justice, and left the Council Chamber invested with the full authority of Chief Go. vernor of Irelandt. The change was not the less acceptable for being expected. Rejoicings took place everywhere. The populace seemed lost in å transport of pleasurable excitement. The city wore the aspect of jubilee; and the House of Commons that House of Commons that had not many months before approached the dead Lord Deputy in the attitude of affectionate adulation--now thought it no act of inconsistency to attend his Excellency the Lord Justice, with their Speaker, to congratulate him, in equally cordial terms, on his accession to the government of the kingdom. I
The new Governor could not but feel these public demonstrations. But what was most gratifying to him was the sensible effect which the change of things had produced upon the health and spirits of his friend Cox. He rallied at once ; and Porter looked to the great satisfaction of having his energetic intellect at his service in the arduous and responsible office he had been called upon to fill.
The whole nation was pleased at the new appointment. The Protestants had by no means realised the benefits they had once anticipated from
the policy of the late government; and an offensive system of official reserve had been carried on, to their exclusion, as well as that of others. The Catholics saw in the defender of what they considered their rights under the treaties of Limerick and Gal. way, the commencement of impartial government, and hailed the advent of a new state of things with hope and exultation. Porter exhibited true magnanimity in his elevation ; by no act, word, or deed, did he suffer it to be seen that he remembered the injuries he had suffered, or the unworthiness of those under whose persecution he had so long smarted.
Parliament had met on the 27th of June. In the House of Lords, the King's commission had been read, appointing Lord Chief Justice Hely their Speaker, “in regard the Chancellor being Lord Deputy was disabled from executing that office." The Houses were then adjourned to the 4th of August.
In the meantime, the King had signified his approbation of the choice of the Privy Council; but he now associated two noblemen with the Chancellor in his office, thereby dividing the power and responsibility, conformably to usage, but leaving in effect the chief authority where it was. Charles, Earl of Mountrath, and Henry, Earl of Drogheda, were named with Sir Charles Porter as Lord Justices, in a patent bearing date the 10th of June, 1696; and a commission was directed to them to continue the Parliament.
All seemed to promise well for the future. It was confidently anticipated that the fair adjustment of the rights of the parties involved in the events of the war might, under the wise administration of one who had sacrificed so much already to the principle of impartiality, complete the set. tlement of the country, restore confi. dence to the public mind, and lay a foundation for such further legislation, in the branches of trade, manufactures, and domestic polity, as would be best calculated to develop the great natural resources of Ireland, now beginning to be widely recognised. In the midst of these hopes Providence again
* See DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE, No. CCLXXVI.
+ Harris's Life of Cox, p. 218. Comm. Journ. ii. 147. $ Lodge, Pat. Off.
interposed, and baffled human specula tion. On the 8th of December, about four o'clock in the afternoon, Lord Jus tice Porter, who bad been slightly in disposed some days previously, suddenly dropped down dead. All sanguine anticipations were at an end. The government was continued in the hands of his associate justices until the ensuing February, when Henry Earl of Galway was appointed sole Lord Justice. But no act of vigour marked his rule. It was the shadow of a shade. From Capel's death until the year 1701, the government of Ireland was administered wholly in this manner; whence it would seem as if William found it easier to manage that kingdom by the divided and inferior agency of justices, than by viceregal authority. This absence of a formal Court necessarily disables the Irish historian from forming his narrative round any fixed nucleus, and emphatically points to the final extinction of his country's history, should that absence ever become permanent. He is constrained to pass, almost without a glance, over the years which intervene until a personage is placed at the head of affairs sufficiently dis. tinguished to be found noted in the annals of the parent country. We therefore hurry past the period in question, during which the seals, after having been entrusted, ad in terim, to the hands of three keepers -Sir John Jefferyson, Mr. Justice Coote, and Baron Donelan- were at length committed to John Methuen, afterwards better known as Ambassador to Portugal, and negociator of the celebrated Treaty of Commerce which goes by his name.
But during this period, so featureless at a first glance, the general mind had been agitated to depths before un. reached, by free thoughts and fearless reasonings upon topics affecting not merely the casual claims or grievances of the moment, but the permanent rights of the Irish nation.
Tranquilly pursuing the secluded paths of philosophical research, William Molyneux had lived, up to the period We have arrived at, rather shunning than courting the notice his great talents and conspicuous merits were gradually drawing upon him. Of fair
descent, easy fortune, and brilliant acquirements, he saw himself chosen to the Parliament of 1692 as member for the city of Dublin, and in 1695, for its University, without displaying any symptoms of ambition corresponding either to his pretensions, or to the public recognition of them. It is possible that the vicissitudes of a troublous period, during which he had fled, an exile, from his country, may have shaken his faith in the stability of political honours; or that the greatest of family bereavements may have removed the main incentive to earthly ambition; or, what is most probable, that both of these causes may have combined with a natural predilection for certain studies to produce a love of that retirement in which they are most genially nursed; but certain it is, that Molyneux, though a conscientious performer of the duties he had taken upon himself in Parliament, stood by and watched the struggles of faction, rather as a spectator than an actor, and even refused a post of trust under govern. ment, which might have brought him more prominently forward than he de. sired.
But although he avoided the squab. bles of faction, he by no means held aloof from the encounter of constitu. tional polemics. Enjoying as he did the friendship of John Locke, his mind had become imbued with the principles that daring genius had advo, cated in his “ Treatise on Govern. ment;" and, an occasion occurring in which the long-vexed question of the authority of England to bind Ireland by Acts of Parliament arose once more, Molyneux brought the whole powers of his intellect to bear upon it, and, fortified by the encouragement and approval of the great English phi. losopher, put forth that brief but comprehensive tract, called " The Case of Ireland Stated," which, to the last day of the century, furnishes the staple arguments of the friends of Irish independence.
This treatise we may the more briefly discuss at this time of day, from the circumstance that the Union between the two kingdoms has disengaged the argument from any possible reference to present affairs. The question is no longer a party question,
* Wills's “Life of Molyneux."
but an historical one. The interest is up Lord Sydney's Parliament in 1692; now not practical, but speculative; but the claim was now tacitly aban. for the author has himself bounded doned; Lord Capel, as we have seen, the discussion by the precise limits having succeeded in inducing the Com. reached at the commencement of this mons to vote the supplies as certified century-namely, the incorporation of from England. the two Parliaments, that of England This, however, was not the ground. (or, as it became in the meantime, Great work of Mr. Molyneux's case. The Britain) and of Ireland.
question was one of larger scope, for it Without stopping to enter systema. involved the whole authority of Parliatically into Mr. Molyneux's arguments, ment, which he maintained possessed we may however point to some of an inherent and indefeasible indepen. those leading doctrines which, like dence of its own. The claim he advothe body of Patroclus, have been the cated was that of complete exemption longest and most fiercely battled over from subordination to the English Parin later times.
liament, which, as he argued, could But first it may be necessary to ex. not constitutionally legislate for the plain, that the Irish Parliament had, up Irish people, quia non mittunt milites ad to this period, found increasing diffi. Parliamentum. His argument grew culty in staving off the encroachments naturally out of Mr. Locke's great of that of England, which asserted its position, that a people are not bound supremacy in precise proportion to by laws made without their consent. the independent tone assumed by its But his mode of proof was not derived younger sister. There were two dis from the ethics but the history of tinct claims set up by Ireland. One the case. “Seeing,” he says, “ that was, the right of originating money. the right which England may pretend bills in the lower House. In ordinary to, for binding us by their Acts of Parcases, it was not disputed that underliament, can be founded only on the the stat. 10 Hen. VII. ch 4, being one imaginary title of conquest, or pur. of Poynings' Laws, all bills to be chase, or on precedent and matters brought under the consideration of of record; we shall inquire into the Parliament should first be certified following particulars," &c. * With a by the Lord Lieutenant and Council a free and nervous pen he runs over of Ireland to the King in council, the history of the conquest of Ireland, who was to sanction or reject these, and its subsequent occupation by the as the case might be, and send back English, showing how it was consti. those he approved of, under the broad tuted a separate kingdom by the gift seal of England, to be brought in that of Henry II. to his son John, which session, verbatim et literatim, and no condition he maintains it did not lose others. But an exception had been when the two crowns united on the one taken to this rule in the case of the head, on the death of John's elder brosupplies, on no better foundation than ther, Richard, without issue. He dethe right enjoyed by the English tails the origin of parliaments in this House of Commons to originate bills country, and, to fortify his case, sup. of that nature, which were not to ports the genuineness of a certain anbe in any manner interfered with by cient record, called Modus tenendi Par. the Lords, beyond the passing or liamentum, by Selden, Pryn, and rejection of them. The King hav. others supposed to be spurious, and ing nothing to do with bills in the which purports to bave been transEnglish Parliament until they had mitted to Ireland by Henry II., " as passed the two Houses, it is plain that a direction to hold Parliaments there." where this independence of the Crown He points to the uniform tenor of the did not exist, à privilege peculiar to Acts, both of the English and Irish England, as against the House of Parliament, up to Charles II.'s time, Lords, which if adopted in Ireland in which no instance can be discowould interfere with the Royal prero. vered of a direct assertion of congative, could not be introduced by a trolling power by the English, or of mere inference or fancied analogy. a clear recognition of it by the Irish The assertion of this right had broken Houses ; but, on the contrary, proofs
from the lips of an Irishman at that day. Nor does he descend from this elevated tone. He adduces the charters and liberties « granted from time to time unto the kingdom of Ireland,” and indignantly points to the violation of them implied in the assumption of English parliamentary supremacy. He protests against the claim, as derogatory to the “ royal condition and preeminence" of a separate and distinct kingdom. He repudiates it, as interfering with the King's prerogative, which does not admit that “the par. liament of England should have any co-ordinate power with him to introduce new laws, and repeal old laws established in Ireland :" and denounces it as contrary to authority, reason, and the practice of all former ages.
afforded by the frequent re-enactments of English statutes by the Irish Parlia. ment, that this right, if such there was, was practically impugned. He meets the objection that English Acts com. prehend Ireland by general words, by showing that this is a modern doctrine, first introduced in Henry VII.'s time, and revived by Lord Coke ; and pro. ceeds to the extreme case of English Acts expressly naming Ireland, of which he asserts there are but three prominent ancient instances, from each of which in turn he extricates his argument, by reference to the nature of the Act, its inoperativeness, and its disputed authority respectively ; and then, referring to modern instances, boldly states that it is to these he objects.
The opinions of the learned are next brought under review, amongst which those of Lord Coke, as his authority is highest, are most elaborately contro. verted. Great ingenuity is shown in this branch of the subject. A lawyer. like subtlety here marks Molyneux's education, which was, for some years, a legal one; and so far detracts from the general effect of the work. But when he rests upon the statute law of both England and Ireland, which expressly and repeatedly recognises the mutual independence of the respective Parliaments, he takes stronger ground, which is reflected in his style.
"And were these statutes," he says, “and all other statutes and acts of the Parliament of England, ratified, confirmed, and adjudged by several Parliaments of Ireland to be of force within this realm, and shall the people of Ireland derive no benefits by these Acts ? Are those statutes of force in England only, and can they add no immunity or privilege to the kingdom of Ireland, when they are received there? Can the King and Parliament make acts in England to bind his sub. jects of Ireland, without their consent, and can he make no acts in Ireland without their consent, whereby they may receive any privilege or immunity? This were to make the Parliaments of Ireland wholly illusory and of no effect. If this be reasonable doctrine, to what end was Poynings' law in Ireland, that makes all the statutes of England before that in force in this kingdom? This might as well have been done, and again undone, when they please, by a single Act of the English Parliament. But let us not make thus light of constitutions of kingdoms ;-'tis dangerous to those who do it, 'tis grievous to those who suffer it."-pp, 107-8.
These are strong words, coming
“ What use," he exclaims, “ will there be of the parliament of Ireland at any time? If the religion, lives, liberties, fortunes, and estates of the clergy, nobility, and gentry of Ireland may be disposed of without their privity and consent, what benefit have they of any laws, liberties, or privileges granted unto them by the crown of England ? I am loth to give their condition a hard name, but I have no other notion of slavery but being bound by a law to which I do not consent,"
pp. 114, 115.;
In such language was it that Molyneux, in his honourable but mistaken zeal, clothed the specious fallacy which has since misled so many equally well. meaning, though less clear-sighted politicians. They forget what some of those who recollect will not remind them - that it is as unprecedented in the annals of history as it is impossible in the nature of things, that two powers could co-exist perfectly independent of each other, yet indissolubly united. The very fact of compulsory union creates a mutual relation, and leads either to a reciprocal surrender of com. plete independence, or to a subordination of one power to the other. An imperium in imperio practically cannot exist. The supreme authority must be a unity. If it be not, the countries, though united in name, are separate in theory, and will in the end become so in fact. Molyneux's argument led two ways to a legislative union in one direction, and to a dismemberment of the empire in the other. It does not appear that this excellent man thought so: on the contrary, he upheld, with all the energy of sincerity, the depen