« AnteriorContinuar »
CHAP. equally worthy of favour, could impute their dif XXVIII appointment only to his partiality. Yet his conduct was fo difinterested, that he had relinquished his own rights to forward a general accommodation, by paying the debts and mortgages on his eftate, which had been contracted in the public fervice, and which, as forfeitures to the king, had been granted to the duke by the act of fettle
Notwithstanding its partiality to the protestants, the bill of explanation was fo far from being fatisfactory to the Irish commons, that Ormond ventured not to lay it before their houfe, until, by filling the vacancies with members friendly to government, and alarming them with fears of a diffolution, he had rendered them more compliant. When, on the first day of their feffion, a letter from the king to the lord lieutenant was communicated to them, condemning their former proceedings and votes relative to the commiffioners of claims, they made humble fubmiffion, retracted their votes, inveighed against the confpiracy, and fufpended feven of their members, accufed as accomplices, from fitting in their house. Though thefe members pleaded his Majefty's pardon, they were, after an examination. of the evidence against them, expelled, and declared incapable of fitting in the prefent or any future parliament; nor, in their prefent rage of loyalty, could the commons be fatisfied, till they had prepared a bill to difqualify thefe obnoxious men for the holding of any office, military, civil, or ecclefiaftical.
fiaftical. Having laid their doubts and objections CHAP. before Ormond in a petition concerning the bill of XXVIII. fettlement, and having received an affurance from him that every thing fhould be explained and amended according to their wishes, by the difcretionary power entrusted to the chief governor and council, or by new acts if neceffary, they at length, without one diffenting voice, paffed this famous act, by which an invariable rule was finally fixed for the fettlement of the kingdom, and the general regulation of the rights claimed by the feveral interefts of its occupants.
Great obstacles had arifen to the arrangements neceffary for this general fettlement from various causes, especially the diminution of the fund for reprisals by profuse grants of the king, particularly to his brother, the duke of York, on whom he had conferred all the eftates of the regicides. Of a fimilar nature were fome provifos in the act of explanation, particularly one by which the marquis of Antrim was reinftated in his property, by special favour of the king, through the intereft of the queen mother, after a full conviction of his treasonable practices against his Majefty, and his own acknowledgment of his guilt, with a petition to the royal mercy. After the completion of the act, many evafions were attempted in its execution by the procuring of grants and letters from the king, which, with a multitude of perplexed cafes, gave perpetual employment
CHAP. ployment for many years to Ormond, to whom, as lord lieutenant, affifted by the privy council, the five commiffioners, appointed to execute the ftatute, were ordered to refort for advice in all affairs of doubt and difficulty.
Act prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle into
WHEN, by the acts of fettlement and explana- CHAP.
tion, tranquility feemed eftablifhed, and a firm XXIX. foundation laid for profperity in future, the new Non-imEnglish colony of Ireland felt immediately the bad portation effects of national jealoufy, narrow, impolitic, and 1666. abfurd, fo often difplayed by the English parliament, and foon afterward the ftill more baleful confequences of plans formed by unprincipled ftatefmen for the establishment of defpotifm on the bafis of popery. From feveral caufcs obviously obfervable, particularly
CHAP. particularly religious perfecution which had driven XXXI. thousands of induftrious puritans to Holland' and America, the rents of England had fuffered a diminution to the annual amount of near two hundred thousand pounds. The views of some courtiers, who wished to diftrefs the duke of Ormond in his government, and the vulgar inclination of many to display the fuperiority of the English over the Irish nation by oppreffive exertions of authority, confpired to reprefent this decreafe to have been occafioned by the importation of Irish cattle; though the whole annual value of the cattle imported fell far fhort of the deficiency of rents; and though far greater numbers had been imported, before the civil wars of England, without the appearance of any such deficiency. So early as the year 1663 a temporary act had been paffed in England to prohibit the importation of any fat cattle after the first of July in every year; and in a parliament held at Oxford in 1665 a bill was prepared for the total prohibition of Irish cattle of every description from the English markets.
The bill was oppofed by arguments drawn from natural justice; from the rights of Englishmen, to which the English colony in Ireland was entitled; the mifery to which the people of Ireland must be reduced by its operation; the bad confequences of driving the Irish into the neceffity of trading with other countries; the detriment to the trade of England, whofe manufactures the Irish, deprived of their chief branch of commerce, would be no longer able to purchase; the failure of revenue in Ireland