Irish Catholic Confederates

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXIX

The Assembly broke up on the 9th of January, 1643, after sending a remonstrance to the King, declaring their loyalty, and explaining their grievances. The complicated state of English politics proved the ruin of this noble undertaking, so auspiciously commenced. Charles was anxious to make terms with men whom he knew would probably be the only subjects on whose loyalty he could thoroughly depend. His enemies—and the most cursory glance at English history during this period proves how many and how powerful they were—desired to keep open the rupture, and, if possible, to bring it down, from the high stand of dignified remonstrance, to the more perilous and lower position of a general and ill-organized insurrection. The Lords Justices Borlase and Parsons were on the look-out for plunder; but Charles had as yet sufficient power to form a commission of his own, and he sent the Marquis of Ormonde and some other noblemen to treat with the Confederates. Ormonde was a cold, calculating, and, if we must judge him by his acts, a cruel man; for, to give only one specimen of his dealings, immediately after his appointment, he butchered the brave garrison of Timolin, who had surrendered on promise of quarter.

The Confederates were even then divided into two parties. The section of their body principally belonging to the old English settlers, were willing to have peace on almost any terms; the ancient Irish had their memories burdened with so many centuries of wrong, that they demanded something like certainty of redress before they would yield. Ormonde was well aware of the men with whom, and the opinions with which, he had to deal, and he acted accordingly. In the various engagements which occurred, the Irish were on the whole successful. They had gained an important victory near Fermoy, principally through the headlong valour of a troop of mere boys, who dashed down with wild impetuosity on the English, and showed what mettle there was still left in the country. Envoys were arriving from foreign courts, and Urban VIII. had sent Father Scarampi with indulgences and a purse of 30,000 dollars, collected by Father Wadding. It was, therefore, most important that the movement should be checked in some way; and, as it could not be suppressed by force, it was suppressed by diplomacy.