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chieftains also continued to make war upon each other; and the English barons who had obtained grants of land did not act with that concord and unanimity, or that prudence and propriety, which might have impressed the natives with the force of example.
Similar disturbances convulsed the island, with little intermission, during the reigns of many of Henry's successors. Richard I. made no attempts to tranquillise the country; but John, less inattentive to that object of policy, enforced peace and order for a time, and, dividing the possessions of the English into twelve shires, introduced a variety of useful regulations. The feeble and capricious administration of the third Henry did not quell the turmoils or improve the state of Ireland; and, even under his son Edward, scarcely any progress was made in those respects, though the deliberations of occasional councils or parliaments aided the efforts of the successive governors of the colony.
In the reign of Edward II., the calamities of foreign invasion were added to the former miseries of the country. An army of Scots landed in Ulster, and furiously attacked the English, but did not meet with that success which, by the representations of the Irish chiefs, they had been led to expect. After several years of hostility, they received a total
defeat, which crushed their
hopes of the conquest of Ireland.
It was the general wish of our monarchs, that the English and Irish should form one people, governed by the same laws; but this union was obstructed by various causes. The Irish chieftains preferred their own laws, by which they were indulged with a greater latitude of tyranny. The common people, though exposed to aristocratic oppression, were in some points less controlled,
controlled, and were less severely punished by law, than the new colonists. The English barons, aspiring and licentious, drove the neighbouring natives into insurrections by arbitrary proceedings, and gratified their pride and rapacity by punishing the resistance of the oppressed; and, when any of the Irish, relaxing in their attachment to old customs, petitioned for the benefit of the laws of England, the nobles studiously counter-acted such requests, by dissuading their sovereign from a grant which they pretended would be impolitic.
It does not appear that any parliament, constituted in the English mode, met in Ireland before the reign of Edward III. A colonial assembly, composed of the temporal nobility and the prelates, formed the only parliament which the governors held before his time. It was far from being an object of ambition to attend these meetings it was rather deemed inconvenient and irksome but, on extraordinary occasions, a numerous body assembled. This was the case at Kilkenny, where a very important ordinance was enacted, with a view of restraining that love of change, or that spirit of association, which had induced a great number of the English to follow the Irish laws, and form matrimonial and friendly connexions with the descendants of the old inhabitants. It denounced the punishment of high treason against every individual of English descent who should intermarry with the Irish, or submit to their laws; subjected to confiscation of lands all who should persist in the use of the Irish language, dress, and modes of life; and rendered it penal to give protection or encouragement to the obnoxious aliens. This statute established an unfortunate distinction between
the English of blood and the English of birth, and embittered the animosity between the Irish and the occupants of the pale or the English territory.
Two expeditions of Richard II. into Ireland had little effect in pacifying the country, though the majority of the princes professed an acknowlegement of his sovereignty. Henry IV., embroiled by the effects of his usurpation, suffered the Irish to encroach on the colonial possessions; and his successor, involved by his ambition in a war with France, did not extend the pale. During the civil war in England between the houses of York and Lancaster, Ireland was in a state of comparative tranquillity. The colony, indeed, was ha rassed by the occasional incursions of the chieftains; but some of these freebooters desisted from their inroads, on the payment of an annual pension by the counties of the pale.
The policy of the seventh Henry induced him to attend to the affairs of Ireland. To secure the full dependence of the colony on the English crown, he influenced the great council of the pale, by the medium of the lord-deputy Poynings, to the adoption of a law, providing that no parliament should be holden in Ire. land, unless the governor should give a previous intimation to the English monarch of the causes for convoking it, and that no acts should pass in it, unapproved by the king and the privy-council. He also procured an act for extending to the colony the efficacy of the English statutes.
After an interval of peace, hostilities were renewed between the English and the Irish; and, during the greater part of the reign of Henry VIII., mutual inroads and ravages were frequent. That prince at length assumed the title of King of Ireland, and obliged the chieftains
chieftains not only to acknowlege his temporal authority, but also to admit his claim to the supremacy of the church. The submissions of the chiefs, at this time, were almost universal; and they agreed to the nomination of commissioners, who should decide their suits at law instead of their former judges, but not in general according to the English code. The parliament of the pale had before declared by act, that the kings of England should always be considered as having the sovereignty of Ireland, which was an inseparable appendage to the imperial crown of the former realm.
In the short reign of Mary, the colonial territory was augmented by the incorporation of two counties; and steps were taken for the unreserved introduction of the English laws and customs into the other parts of the island.
The endeavours of queen Elizabeth to propagate the reformed religion in Ireland were far from being attended with complete success. The new creed was adopted by the few inhabitants, of the pale; but the generality of the Irish refused to renounce their old tenets, and warmly resented the attempts of the colonists to enforce their submission to the protestant doctrines. Some of their chiefs revolted from the queen, and diffused devastation over the country; and the sanguinary dissensions between the powerful nobles of English blood increased the disorders of the island. The most turbulent rebel was Shane O'Neal, who tyrannised over Ulster, which was also harassed by the Scots, After his death, a great part of that province was vested in the crown; but the act which ordained this alteration was not strictly enforced. A revolt of the earl of Desmond produced new commotions; and that of the earl of Tyrone followed; but, at the time of the queen's decease,
notwithstanding the aid of the Spaniards, the rebels were almost entirely subdued.
A new scene opened in the reign of James I. When his troops had suppressed all remains of rebellion, he resolved to establish a regular government, in lieu of the desultory efforts and the very imperfect administration of his predecessors. He suffered the chieftains to possess their lands by no other tenures than such as prevailed in England; transplanted multitudes of his British subjects to different districts, particularly to Ulster; erected new corporations; studiously encouraged trade and manufactures; instituted seminaries of education; and accomplished the difficult task of extending the English laws over all the provinces of his western kingdom. He improved both the civil and ecclesiastical governments; and, that the papists might not have the superiority in the parliament, he granted the right of election to many towns in which the protestant interest predominated.
In consequence of this settlement, Ireland for many years advanced in prosperity. The hostilities by which it had so long been harassed gave way to apparent amity; and the useful arts were more diligently pursued. But the Irish, though quiet, did not cultivate peace in their hearts. Their chieftains repined at the abolition of their system of law, and at the loss of a great extent of territory by the confiscations which had followed the rebellions. Their clergy were enraged at the restrictions upon the catholic worship, and at their exclusion from the ecclesiastical preferments; and the former animosity entertained by the nation in general against the colonists, was heightened by religious bigotry to such a degree of passion and virulence, that a resolution was secretly formed for the ruin of