Thursday 10 January 2013

The Making of the Ulsterman (pt4)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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By Rev. Dr. J. S. MacIntosh.

From "The Scotch-Irish in America." 1892.


Fresh fusions. There come to Ulster two sets of colonists belonging to allied and yet distinct races. The transplanted Scot is joined in Ulster by the Puritan and the Huguenot. While along the shores of Down and Antrim, and by the banks of the Six Mile Water and the Main, the colonists are almost wholly from the Lowlands of Scotland; upon the shores of Derry and Donegal, and by the banks of the Foyle and the Bann, were planted by the action of the same farseeing James Stuart, bands of English colonists. Large grants of land in the escheated counties of Ulster were bestowed upon the great London companies, and on their vast estates by the Foyle and the Bann were settled considerable numbers of fine old English families. The Englishman may be easily traced to this very day in Derry, and Coleraine and Armagh and Enniskillen. Groups of these Puritans dotted the whole expanse of Ulster, and in a later hour, when the magnificent Cromwell took hold of Ireland, these English colonists were reinforced by not a few of the very bravest and strongest of the Ironsides. To this very hour I know where to lay my hands on the direct lineal descendants of some of Cromwell's most trusted officers, who brought to Ireland blood that flowed in the purest English veins. The defiant city of Derry was the fruit of the English settlement, the royal borough of Coleraine, the Cathedral city of Armagh, the battle-swept Enniskillen, the district between Lisburn and Lough Neagh, and several towns and hamlets along the winding Bann. Among these English settlers were not a few who were ardent followers of George Fox, that man who in many respects was Cromwell's equal and in some his master; these Friends came with a man of great force of character. Thomas Edmundson, who bore arms for the Parliament, and has left behind him a singularly interesting diary. The Friends came to Antrim in 1652, and settled in Antrim and Down; hence come the Pims, the Barclays, the Grubbs, and Richardsons, with many another goodly name of Ulster.

The name of this Irish province was spreading over Europe by the second decade of the 17th century as the "shelter of the hunted;" and soon the Puritan and the Quaker are joined in Ulster by another nobleman of God's making -- the Huguenot from France. Headed by Louis Crommellin they came a little later and settled in and around Lisburn, founding many of the finest industries of Ulster, and giving mighty impulse to those already started. And still later, following the "Immortal William" came some brave burghers from the Holland and the Netherlands. Thus Ulster became a gathering ground for the very finest, most formative, impulsive and aggressive of the free, enlightened, God-fearing peoples of Europe.

Under the influences of the Puritan, the Huguenot, and the Hollander, the Ulsterman began to show a new side to his activity; he grew a busy trader, a man of business, a man of commerce. Ulster became a very hive of busy industries and activities. The coast-traffic with Scotland was weekly increasing, large trade sprang up with England, and soon the Ulster products and the Ulster merchants and skippers were known in the ports and towns of France and Holland. The men of thought and strong convictions are becoming the pushing men of affairs.

These five forces, his chartered rights, his strangerhood, his fierce feuds, his call to self-adaptation, and his marrying and mixing with Puritan, Quaker and Huguenot -- were all willingly accepted and gladly yielded to as either beneficial or unavoidable in his new situation. They left the Ulsterman largely modified inside the sweep of the three-quarter century from his planting, but they left him still the favoured and on the whole well-contented colonist.

But the sky now begins to darken. To those natural or desirable forces, modifying and transforming were now, alas, to be introduced unnatural and repulsive and iniquitous influences, and forces as unjust, unwise and unexpected, as they were irritating and ultimately infuriating.

The dark and wicked forces change the Ulsterman from the contented colonist to the exasperated emigrant.

The Ulsterman an exasperated Emigrant.

There had been known in Ulster what has bean called beautifully and with a sad lingering regret at its too early vanishing -- "The Golden Peaceable Age." It was the age of Usher and Echlin as bishops, and Chichester as deputy. But the clouds rose on the horizon; and the master of the coming tempest is one of those greatest and smallest of men ever being thrown up out of the deeps of English lite. He is Thomas Wentworth, that strange, strong, weak man, friend and foe at once, of England's best.

Wentworth started the Ulsterman's grievance; it was a black day for Ireland, and blacker still for England. The world is hearing a vast deal of the "Irish Question." That political porcupine, in its later form, came forth to the light in Ulster; and it was selfish English statesmen and most despotic churchmen started it. Though the Ulstermen, as a body, refuse to join with the Nationalists of to-day, Ulster and its wrongs and fierce revolt are the beginning of the later land and folk fights. The Ulsterman was the brewer of the storm. He became the "Volunteer" for freedom.

But he was right to let the fiercest hurly-burly play; the air was made foul and stifling; he was a stifling, and the tempest only could give him life breath.

From 1633, when Wentworth opened his star chamber of despots and his high commission courts of persecuting prelates, till 1704, when the sacramental test grew unbearable, Ulster was distracted by English tyrants and Laudian prelates. Cavalier and churchman sowed the wind; and at Marston and Yorktown they reaped the whirlwind.

The wrongs of the once-contented colonist were five-fold: 1. He was wronged by the State. 2. He was wronged by the Church. 3. He was wronged in his home. 4. He was wronged in his trade. 5 He was wronged in his very grave.

By The State.

As Limerick is the city of the violated treaty, so is Ireland the land of broken compacts and dishonoured promises. England wonders at the restlessness of the Green Isle. Nations have long memories. And disbelief that has grown for generations into settled no-faith cannot change into smiling and contented assurance of hope in a decade. Of all parts of Ireland Ulster for a half century has the longest tale of lies and deceptions to present, and the dark catalogue belongs to English parties and politicians. From 1633 to 1714 you have nothing but promises and falsifications; the promise made when England was afraid, or her plotting parties had something to gain; and the falsification, with scoffing laugh and galling sneer, when the fright was gone or the greed was gutted. No wonder the exasperated emigrant said at Carlisle, "I believe England least when she swears deepest." He was the son of a Derry Presbyterian, and he knew how England rewarded her saviours.

By The Church.

Working with Wentworth in the state was Laud in the Church. There had been an Usher and an Echlin, and there was the "golden age of peace," when there seemed the nearest approach of presbyter and prelate in generous trust and respect known since or before; but these great souls of sweetness and truth passed and after came Bramhall and King, and Taylor, who kept all his charity for books and great-sounding periods. The Jacobite bishops of distracted Ulster divided their time pretty equally between cowardly plotting against the Whig rule and the pitiless robbing of the non-conformists of all religious freedom. No one him put this sad tale into plainer nor more honest words than the Rev. Dr. M'Connell, the eloquent rector of St. Stephen's, Philadelphia, who said: "In the early years of the last century there were living here Scotch Presbyterians whose ears had been cut off by Kirk's lambs, whose fathers had been hanged before their eyes, who had worn the hoot and thumbkins while Leslies stood by and jeered, who had been hunted from their burning homes by that polished gentleman and staunch Episcopalian, Graham, Earl of Claverhouse, who had been brow-beaten by Irish bishops and denied even the sympath of the gentle Jeremy Taylor, who had been driven from their livings, fined, imprisoned, their ministerial office derided, the children of the marriages which they had celebrated pronounced bastards.

He Was Wronged in His Home.

Here State and Church joined together. Landlords and bishops made common cause to spoil the Ulster yeomanry. As the thrifty and toiling farmer improved his funds he was taxed on his invested capital by the ever-swelling rent till he was rackrented; and then if he would not pay the legalised robbery he was mercilessly evicted. His father and he had made a waste a garden while the proprietor idled. Then by law the idler claimed the fruits of hard toil; and English law wrung the "pound of flesh" forth; and suffered no Portia to plead for the defrauded. Added to these agrarian wrongs, were the denial of education, the shutting of schools, the barring of college by sacramental tests, and the legalized filching of great endowments for common education.

The right of free and independent voting was refused, and a gag law of the worst kind maintained.

The baptism of his children was made a laughing-stock, and the legality of marriage by non-episcopal clergy officially denied. I have seen calm men, not many years back, grind their teeth as they spoke of this bastardising of the non-conformists' children. Do you wonder at this intense, burning exasperation?

He was Wronged in His Trade.

Ulster was on the very high road to the finding of one chief cure for Ireland's troubles; that is, the diversion from too prevalent farming life of part of her population to trade, business, and manufactures. One reads with wonder of the rapid growth of Ulster industries and trade inside some thirty years, but the admiration changes to hot anger as you see the young life strangled by selfish and jealous interference on the part of English traders and statesmen. The Letters of Lord Fitzwilliam, and Dobbs's History of Irish Trade, tell one of the saddest tales. Act after Act was passed forbidding the exportation of wool, of horses, of cattle, of butter and cheese, and dead meats. Ireland was excluded from the Navigation Act, shipping was ruined, and business failed.

As if all these wrongs in life were not enough to heap on a man singularly high-minded, brave, loving right and hating a lie, he was wronged in death.

He was Wronged of a Grave.

For him no sacred "God's Acre," if his own beloved minister was to read simple words of Holy Writ and utter from the heart the spirit-born, free prayer. Why, even in my own late hour, I have seen the passage of a coffin through the gates of a church-yard that belonged to a common parish, and that had been originally donated by Presbyterian owner, barred, in the name of God and true religion, against a Presbyterian minister, by a self-styled guardian of hallowed ground.

And the Ulsterman who endured all this shame and wrong and open robbery, was the very man who had made and who had kept the land. He had made it. When he came 'twas a war-wasted desert; when he was driven to our shores from it, he left behind him homesteads and fertile fields.

He had kept it, and Derry is the proof.

Derry, whose salvation belongs not to Walker, but to the Rev. James Gordon and his Presbyterian "boys;" for Gordon led to the closing of the gates, and Gordon led the ships to the breaking of "the boom" and the relief of the garrison.

Yet, after that very siege and that very defence, guarding and saving Saxon freedom for the world, the men and the party that were the real saviours of the country and the keepers of the pass, were wronged and wronged, till their hearts blazed with fierce anger.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 10 January 1919 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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