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Thomas D'Arcy McGee

The most formidable insurrection, indeed the only really formidable one, broke out in the county of Wexford, a county in which it was stated there were not 200 sworn United Irishmen, and which Lord Edward Fitzgerald had altogether omitted from his official list of counties organized in the month of February. In that brief interval, the Government policy of provocation had the desired effect, though the explosion was of a nature to startle those who occasioned it.

In pursuing to its close the war in Munster, we were obliged to omit the mention of an affair of considerable importance, which somewhat consoled the Catholics for the massacre at Smerwick and the defeat of the Desmonds. We have already observed that what Aharlow was to the southern insurgents, the deep, secluded valley of Glenmalure was to the oppressed of Leinster. It afforded, at this period, refuge to a nobleman whose memory has been most improperly allowed to fall into oblivion.

An actor was now to descend upon the scene, whose character has excited more controversy than that of any other personage of those times. Honoured as a saint, or reprobated as a hypocrite, worshipped for his extraordinary successes, or anathematized for the unworthy artifices by which he rose - who shall deal out, with equal hand, praise and blame to Oliver Cromwell'? Not for the popular writer of Irish history, is that difficult judicial task.

On the 21st of June, the Marquis Cornwallis, whose name is so familiar in American and East Indian history, arrived in Dublin, to assume the supreme power, both civil and military. As his Chief Secretary, he recommended Lord Castlereagh, who had acted in that capacity during the latter part of Lord Camden's administration in consequence of Mr Pelham's illness; and the Pitt-Portland administration appointed his lordship accordingly, because, among other good and sufficient reasons, "he was so unlike an Irishman."

In the summer of 1594 the cruel and mercenary Fitzwilliam was succeeded by Sir William Russell, who had served the Queen, both in Ireland "and in divers other places beyond sea, in martial affairs." In lieu of the arbitrary exaction of county cess - so grossly abused by his predecessor - the shires of the Pale were to pay for the future into the Treasury of Dublin a composition of 2,100 pounds per annum, out of which the fixed sum of 1,000 pounds was allowed as the Deputy's wages. Russell's administration lasted till May, 1597.

The tenth year of the contest of which we have endeavoured to follow the most important events, opened upon the remaining Catholic leaders, greatly reduced in numbers and resources, but firm and undismayed. Two chief seaports, and some of the western counties still remained to them; and accordingly we find meetings of the Bishops and other notables during this year (1650), at Limerick, at Loughrea, and finally at Jamestown, in the neighbourhood of Owen O'Neil's nursery of the first "Catholic Army."

The last years of Queen Anne had been years of intrigue and preparation with the Jacobite leaders throughout the three kingdoms. At their head stood Ormond, the second and last Duke of his name, and with him were associated at one stage or another of his design, Bolingbroke, Orrery, Bishop Atterbury, and other influential persons. It was thought that had this party acted promptly on the death of the Queen, and proclaimed James III.

"Nothing strengthens a dynasty," said the first Napoleon, "more than an unsuccessful rebellion." The partial uprising; of the Irish people in 1798 was a rebellion of this class, and the use of such a failure to an able and unscrupulous administration, was illustrated in the extinction of the ancient legislature of the kingdom, before the recurrence of the third, anniversary of the insurrection.

The last favourite of the many who enjoyed the foolish, if not guilty, favours of Elizabeth was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, son of that unfortunate nobleman spoken of in a previous chapter as the "undertaker" of Farney and Clandeboy. Born in 1567, the Earl had barely reached the age of manhood when he won the heart of his royal mistress, already verging on threescore.

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