THE LAST OF THE IRISH PRINCES.
The accession of James I. produced a delirium of joy in the Catholics of the south. Their bards had sung that the blood of the old Celtic monarchs circulated in his veins, their clergy told them that as James VI. of Scotland he had received supplies of money from the Roman court, and above all Clement VIII. then reigning, had sent to congratulate him on his accession, having been solicited by him to favour his title to the crown of England, which the Pope guaranteed to do on condition that James promised not to persecute the Catholics. The consequence was that the inhabitants of the southern towns rose en masse without waiting for authority, forced open the gates of the ancient churches, re-erected the altars and used them for the public celebration of worship. The lord deputy was startled by intelligence to this effect from Waterford, Limerick, Cork, Lismore, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Wexford, &c. The cathedrals, churches, and oratories were seized by the people and clergy, Father White, Vicar-Apostolic of Waterford, being the leader in this movement, going about from city to city for the purpose of ‘hallowing and purifying’ the temples which Protestantism had desecrated.
The mayors of the cities were rebuked by Mountjoy as seditious and mutinous in setting up ‘the public exercise of the Popish religion,’ and he threatened to encamp speedily before Waterford, ’to suppress insolences and see peace and obedience maintained.’ The deputy kept his word, and on May 4, 1603, he appeared before Waterford at the head of 5,000 men, officered by Sir R. Wingfield, and others who had distinguished themselves during Tyrone’s war. ’There is among the family pictures at Powerscourt,’ says Mr. Meehan, ’a portrait of this distinguished old warrior, whose lineal descendant, the present noble lord, has always proved most generous to his Catholic tenantry.’ The reverend gentleman gives an amusing sketch of a theological encounter between the old warrior and Father White and a Dominican friar, who came forth to the camp under a safe-conduct, both wearing their clerical habits and preceded by a cross-bearer. The soldiers jeered at the sacred symbol, and called it an idol. Father White indignantly resented the outrage, when Sir Richard Wingfield threatened to put an end to the controversy by running his sword through the Vicar-Apostolic. ’The deputy however was a bookish man, at one period of his life inclined to Catholicity, and he listened patiently to Father White on the right of resisting or disobeying the natural prince; but when the latter quoted some passage thereanent in the works of St. Augustine, Mountjoy caused to be brought to him out of his tent the identical volume, and showed to the amazement of the bystanders, that the context explained away all the priest had asserted.’ The noble theologian told Father White that he was a traitor, worthy of