THE CESSATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
While the Confederate delegates, reverently uncovered, and Ormond, in hat and plume, as representing royalty, were signing "the cessation" at Castlemartin, the memorable Monroe, with all his men, were taking the covenant, on their knees, in the church of Carrickfergus, at the hands of the informer O'Connolly, now a colonel in the Parliamentary army, and high in the confidence of its chiefs. Soon after this ceremony, Monroe, appointed by the English Parliament Commander-in-Chief of all their forces in Ulster, united under his immediate leadership, of Scots, English, and Undertakers, not less than 10,000 men. With this force he marched southward as far as Newry, which he found an easy prey, and where he put to the sword, after surrender, sixty men, eighteen women, and two ecclesiastics. In vain the Confederates entreated Ormond to lead them against the common enemy in the North; pursuing always a line of policy of his own, in which their interest had a very slender part, that astute politician neither took the field, nor consented that they should do so of themselves. But the Supreme Council, roused by the remonstrances of the clergy, ordered Lord Castlehaven, with the title of Commander-in-Chief, to march against Monroe. This was virtually superseding O'Neil in his own province, and that it was so felt, even by its authors, is plain from their giving him simultaneously the command in Connaught. O'Neil, never greater than in acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice, stifled his profound chagrin, and cheerfully offered to serve under the English Earl, placed over his head. But the northern movements were, for many months, languid and uneventful; both parties seemed uncertain of their true policy; both, from day to day, awaited breathlessly for tidings from Kilkenny, Dublin, London, Oxford, or Edinburgh, to learn what new forms the general contest was to take, in order to guide their own conduct by the shifting phases of that intricate diplomacy.
Among the first consequences of the cessation were the debarkation at Mostyn, in Scotland, of 3,000 well provided Irish troops, under Colkitto (the left-handed,) Alexander McDonnell, brother of Lord Antrim. Following the banner of Montrose, these regiments performed great things at Saint Johnstown, at Aberdeen, at Inverlochy, all which have been eloquently recorded by the historians of that period. "Their reputation," says a cautious writer, "more than their number, unnerved the prowess of their enemies. No force ventured to oppose them in the field; and as they advanced, every fort was abandoned or surrendered." A less agreeable result of "the cessation," for the court at Oxford, was the retirement from the royal army of the Earl of Newcastle, and most of his officers, on learning that such favourable conditions had been made with Irish Papists. To others of his supporters--as the Earl of Shrewsbury--Charles was forced to assume a tone of apology for that truce, pleading the hard necessities which compelled him: the truth seems to be, that there were not a few then at Oxford, who, like Lord Spencer, would gladly have been on the other side--or at all events in a position of neutrality--provided they could have found "a salve for their honour," as gentlemen and cavaliers.
The year 1644 opened for the Irish with two events of great significance--the appointment of Ormond as Viceroy, in January, and the execution at Tyburn, by order of the English Parliament, of Lord Maguire, a prisoner in the Tower since October, 1641. Maguire died with a courage and composure worthy of his illustrious name, and his profoundly religious character. His long absence had not effaced his memory from the hearts of his devoted clansmen of Fermanagh, and many a prayer was breathed, and many a vow of vengeance muttered among them, for what they must naturally have regarded as the cold-blooded judicial murder of their chief.
Two Irish deputations--one Catholic, the other Protestant --proceeded this year to the King, at Oxford, with the approval of Ormond, who took care to be represented by confidential agents of his own. The Catholics found a zealous auxiliary in the queen, Henrietta Maria, who, as a co-religionist, felt with them, and, as a Frenchwoman, was free from insular prejudices against them. The Irish Protestants found a scarcely less influential advocate in the venerable Archbishop Usher, whose presence and countenance, as the most puritanical of his prelates, was most essential to the policy of Charles. The King heard both parties graciously--censured some of the demands of both as extravagant, and beyond his power to concede--admitted others to be reasonable and worthy of consideration--refused to confirm the churches they had seized to the Catholics--but was willing to allow them their "seminaries of education"--would not consent to enforce the penal laws on the demand of the Protestants --but declared that neither should the Undertakers be disturbed in their possessions or offices. In short, he pathetically exhorted both parties to consider his case as well as their own; promised them to call together the Irish Parliament at the earliest possible period; and so got rid of both deputations, leaving Ormond master of the position for some time longer.
The agents and friends of the Irish Catholics on the Continent were greatly embarrassed, and not a little disheartened by the cessation. At Paris, at Brussels, at Madrid, but above all at Rome, it was regretted, blamed, or denounced, according to the temper or the insight of the discontented. His Catholic Majesty had some time before remitted a contribution of 20,000 dollars to the Confederate Treasury; one of Richelieu's last acts was to invite Con, son of Hugh O'Neil, to the French Court, and to permit the shipment of some pieces of ordnance to Ireland; from Rome, the celebrated Franciscan, Father Luke Wadding, had remitted 26,000 dollars, and the Nuncio Scarampi had brought further donations. The facility, therefore, with which the cessation had been agreed upon, against the views of the agents of the Catholic powers at Kilkenny, without any apparently sufficient cause, had certainly a tendency to check and chill the enthusiasm of those Catholic Princes who had been taught to look on the insurrection of the Irish as a species of Crusade. Remonstrances, warm, eloquent, and passionate, were poured in upon the most influential members of the Supreme Council, from those who had either by delegation, or from their own free will, befriended them abroad. These remonstrances reached that powerful body at Waterford, at Limerick, or at Galway, whither they had gone on an official visitation, to hear complaints, settle controversies, and provide for the better collection of the assessments imposed on each Province.
An incident which occurred in Ulster, soon startled the Supreme Council from their pacific occupations. General Monroe, having proclaimed that all Protestants within his command should take "the solemn league and covenant," three thousand of that religion, still loyalists, met at Belfast, to deliberate on their answer. Monroe, however, apprised of their intentions, marched rapidly from Carrickfergus, entered the town under cover of night, and drove out the loyal Protestants at the point of the sword. The fugitives threw themselves into Lisburn, and Monroe appointed Colonel Hume as Governor of Belfast, for the Parliaments of Scotland and England. Castlehaven, with O'Neil still second in command, was now despatched northward against the army of the Covenant. Monroe, who had advanced to the borders of Meath as if to meet them, contented himself with gathering in great herds of cattle; as they advanced, he slowly fell back before them through Louth and Armagh, to his original head-quarters; Castlehaven then returned with the main body of the Confederate troops to Kilkenny, and O'Neil, depressed, but not dismayed, carried his contingent to their former position at Belturbet.
In Munster, a new Parliamentary party had time to form its combinations under the shelter of the cessation. The Earl of Inchiquin, who had lately failed to obtain the Presidency of Munster from the King at Oxford, and the Lord Broghill, son of the great Southern Undertaker--the first Earl of Cork,--were at the head of this movement. Under pretence that the quarters allotted them by the cessation had been violated, they contrived to seize upon Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale. At Cork, they publicly executed Father Mathews, a Friar, and proceeding from violence to violence, they drove from the three places all the Catholic inhabitants. They then forwarded a petition to the King, beseeching him to declare the Catholics "rebels," and declaring their own determination to "die a thousand deaths sooner than condescend to any peace with them." At the same time they entered into or avowed their correspondence with the English Parliament, which naturally enough encouraged and assisted them. The Supreme Council met these demonstrations with more stringent instructions to General Purcell, now their chief in command, (Barry having retired on account of advanced age,) to observe the cessation, and to punish severely every infraction of it. At the same time they permitted or directed Purcell to enter into a trace with Inchiquin till the following April; and then they rested on their arms, in religious fidelity to the engagements they had signed at Castlemartin.
The twelve-months' truce was fast drawing to a close, when the battle of Marston Moor stimulated Ormond to effect a renewal of the treaty. Accordingly, at his request, Lord Muskerry, and five other commissioners, left Kilkenny on the last day of August for Dublin. Between them and the Viceroy, the cessation was prolonged till the first of December following; and when that day came, it was further protracted, as would appear, for three months, by which time, (March, 1645,) Ormond informed them that he had powers from the King to treat for a permanent settlement.
During the six months that the original cessation was thus protracted by the policy of Ormond, the Supreme Council sent abroad new agents, "to know what they had to trust to, and what succours they might really depend on from abroad." Father Hugh Bourke was sent to Spain, and Sir Richard Belling to Rome, where Innocent X, had recently succeeded to that generous friend of the Catholic Irish. Urban VIII. The voyage of these agents was not free from hazard, for, whereas, before the cessation, the privateers commissioned by the Council, sheltered and supplied in the Irish harbours, had kept the southern coast clear of hostile shipping, now that they had been withdrawn under the truce, the parliamentary cruisers had the channel all to themselves. Waterford and Wexford--the two chief Catholic ports in that quarter-- instead of seeing their waters crowded with prizes, now began to tremble for their own safety. The strong fort of Duncannon, on the Wexford side of Waterford harbour, was corruptly surrendered by Lord Esmond, to Inchiquin and the Puritans. After a ten-weeks' siege, however, and the expenditure of 19,000 pounds of powder, the Confederates retook the fort, in spite of all the efforts made for its relief. Esmond, old and blind, escaped by a timely death the penalty due to his treason. Following up this success, Castlehaven rapidly invested other southern strongholds in possession of the same party, Cappoquin, Lismore, Mallow, Mitchelstown, Doneraile and Liscarroll surrendered on articles; Rostellan, commanded by Inchiquin's brother, was stormed and taken; Boghill was closely besieged in Youghal, but, being relieved from sea, successfully defended himself. In another quarter, the Parliament was equally active. To compensate for the loss of Galway, they had instructed the younger Coote, on whom they had conferred the Presidency of Connaught, to withdraw the regiment of Sir Frederick Hamilton, and 400 other troops, from the command of Monroe, and with these, Sir Robert Stewart's forces, and such others as he could himself raise, to invest Sligo. Against the force thus collected, Sligo could not hope to contend, and soon, from that town, as from a rallying and resting place, 2,000 horsemen were daily launched upon the adjoining country. Lord Clanrickarde, the royal president of the province, as unpopular as trimmers usually are in times of crisis, was unable to make head against this new danger. But the Confederates, under Sir James Dillon, and Dr. O'Kelly, the heroic Archbishop of Tuam, moved by the pitiful appeals of the Sligo people, boldly endeavoured to recover the town. They succeeded in entering the walls, but were subsequently repulsed and routed. The Archbishop was captured and tortured to death; some of the noblest families of the province and of Meath had also to mourn their chiefs; and several valuable papers, found or pretended to be found in the Archbishop's carriage, were eagerly given to the press of London by the Parliament of England. This tragedy at Sligo occurred on Sunday, October 26th, 1645.