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   Chapter 36 THE WATERS SPREAD.

The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 6815

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


So far the rising had been merely local. It was now to assume larger dimensions. Although shocked at the massacre, and professing an eager desire to march in person to punish its perpetrators, Charles' chief aim was really that terms should be made with the leaders, in order that their troops might be made available for service in England.

In Dublin courts-martial were being rapidly established. All Protestants were given arms; all strangers were ordered to quit the city on pain of death; Sir Francis Willoughby was given the command of the castle; Sir Charles Coote made military governor of the city. Ormond was anxious to take the field in the north before the insurrection spread further, before they had time, as he said, to "file their pikes." This the Lords Justices however refused to allow. They were waiting for orders from the English Parliament, with which they were in close alliance, and were perfectly willing to let the revolt spread so that the area of confiscated lands might be the greater.

None of the three southern provinces had as yet risen, in the Pale the Anglo-Norman families were warm in their expressions of loyalty, and appealed earnestly to the Lords Justices to summon a parliament, and to distribute arms for their protection. This last was refused, and although a parliament assembled it was instantly prorogued, and no measures were taken to provide for the safety of the well-disposed. Early in December of the same year Lords Fingal, Gormanstown, Dunsany, and others of the principal Pale peers, with a large number of the local gentry, met upon horseback, at Swords, in Meath, to discuss their future conduct. The opposition between the king and Parliament was daily growing fiercer. The Lords Justices were the nominees of Parliament; to revolt against them was not, therefore, it was argued, to revolt against the king. Upon December 17th they met again in yet larger numbers, upon the hill of Crofty, where they were met by some of the leaders of the north. Rory O'Moore,--a man of no little address, who was personally clear of the worst stain of the massacres, and who had lately issued a proclamation declaring that he and his followers were in arms, not against Charles, but the Parliament--was the principal speaker on this occasion, and his arguments appear to have decided the waverers. They agreed unanimously to throw in their lot with their co-religionists. From that moment the rising had become a national one. The whole island was soon in arms. Munster followed Leinster, and Connaught shortly afterwards followed Munster. Lords Thomond, Clanricarde, and a few others stood out, but by the end of the year, with the exception of Dublin, Drogheda, Cork, Galway, Enniskillen, Derry, and some few other towns, all Ireland was in the hands of the rebels.

Even then the Lords Justices seem to have but little realized the gravity of the crisis. They occupied their time chiefly in preparing indictments, and cheerfully calculating the fast-growing area of land open to confiscation. In vain Ormond entreated to be allowed to proceed against Sir Phelim O'Neill. They steadily declined to allow him to leave the neighbourhood of Dublin.

The northern rising had by this time nearly worn itself out by its own excesses. Sir Phelim's efforts to take Drogheda were ludicrously unavailing, and he had been forced to take his ragged rabble away witho

ut achieving anything. Regarded as an army it had one striking peculiarity--there was not a single military man in it! Sir Phelim himself had been bred to the law; Rory O'Moore was a self-taught insurgent who had never smelt powder. They had no arms, no officers, no discipline, no organization of any kind; what was more, the men were deserting in all directions. In the south there was no one either to take the command. The new levies were willing enough to fight, but there was no one to show them how. The insurrection seemed in a fair way of dying out from sheer want of leadership.

Suddenly reinforcements arrived in two directions almost at the same time. Owen O'Neill--better known as Owen Roe--an honourable and gallant man, who had served with much distinction upon the Continent, landed in Donegal, accompanied by about a hundred French-Irish officers. He instantly took the command of the disorganized and fast-dissolving northern levies; superseded the incompetent Sir Phelim, who from that moment fell away into contempt and impotence; suppressed all disorders, and punished, as far as possible, those who had been foremost in the work of blood, expressing at the same time his utter detestation of the horrors which had hitherto blackened the rising.

Almost at the same moment Colonel Preston, a brother of Lord Gormanstown, and an officer who had also served with credit in the European wars, landed in the south, bringing with him a store of ammunition and field artillery, and between four and five hundred exiled Irish officers. The two forces thereupon began to assume a comparatively organized appearance. Both, however, were so far perfectly independent of each other, and both openly and avowedly hostile to the king.

To effect a union between these northern and southern insurgents a meeting was summoned at Kilkenny in October, 1642, consisting of over two hundred Roman Catholic deputies, nearly all the Irish Roman Catholic bishops, many of the clergy, and some fourteen peers. A council was formed of which Lord Mountgarret was appointed President. Owen Roe O'Neill was at the same time confirmed in the command of the northern forces, and Colonel Preston in that of the southern. The war was declared to be a Catholic one, to be known henceforward as the Catholic Confederacy, and between old Irish and Anglo-Irish there was to be no difference.

Charles's great aim was now to persuade the Confederates to unite with one another in his support. The chief difficulty was a religious one. The Kilkenny Council stood out for the restoration of the Catholic Church in all its original privileges. This, for his own sake--especially in the then excited state of feeling in England--Charles dared not grant, neither would Ormond abet him in doing so. Between the latter and the Catholic peers there was, however, a complete understanding, while between him and the Dublin Lords Justices there was an all but complete breach.

The King decided upon a coup de main. He dismissed the Lords Justices, and ordered several of the more Puritan members of the Privy Council to be tried for treason. The result was a rapid exodus of nearly the whole governing body to England. Early in 1644 Ormond was made Lord-deputy, and a truce of a year was entered into with the Confederates. Only the extravagance of the latter's demands now stood in the way of a complete union.

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