The moderate and cautious Clarendon was appointed Viceroy, and did his best to appease the fears of the Protestants; but he was soon succeeded by Tyrconnel, whose zeal for Irish interests was not always tempered by sufficient moderation to conciliate English politicians. He had fought against O’Neill; he had opposed Rinuccini; he had served in the Duke of Ormonde’s army; he had helped to defend Drogheda against the Republicans, and had lain there apparently dead, and thus escaped any further suffering; he was of the Anglo-Irish party, who were so faithfully loyal to the crown, and whose loyalty was repaid with such cold indifference; yet his virtues have been ignored, and Macaulay accuses him of having “adhered to the old religion, like the Celts,” which was true, and of “having taken part with them in the rebellion of 1641,” which was not true.
James commenced his reign by proclaiming his desire for religious liberty. Individually he may not have been much beyond the age in opinion on this subject, but liberty of conscience was necessary for himself. He was a Catholic, and he made no secret of his religion; he was, therefore, obliged from this motive, if from no other, to accord the same boon to his subjects. The Quakers were set free in England, and the Catholics were set free in Ireland. But the Puritan faction, who had commenced by fighting for liberty of conscience for themselves, and who ended by fighting to deny liberty of conscience to others, were quite determined that neither Quakers nor Catholics should worship God as they believed themselves bound to do. Such intolerance, unhappily, was not altogether confined to the illiterate. Coke, in a previous generation, had declared that it was felony even to counsel the King to tolerate Catholics; and Usher, that it was a deadly sin. The King had neither the good sense nor the delicacy of feeling to guide him through these perils. His difficulties, and the complications which ensued, belong to the province of the English historian, but they were not the less felt in Ireland.
The Protestants professed to be afraid of being massacred by the Catholics; the Catholics apprehended a massacre from the Protestants. Catholics were now admitted to the army, to the bar, and to the senate. Protestants declared this an infringement of their rights, and forgot how recently they had expelled their Catholic fellow-subjects, not merely from honours and emoluments, but even from their altars and their homes.
An event now occurred which brought affairs to a crisis. The King’s second wife, Mary of Modena, gave him an heir, and the heir appeared likely to live (A.D. 1688). William of Orange, who had long flattered himself that he should one day wear the crown of England, saw that no time should be lost if he intended to secure the prize, and commenced his preparations with all the ability and with all the duplicity for which his career has been admired by one party, and denounced by the other, according as political and religious opinions viewed the deceit under the strong light of the ability, or the ability under the glare of the deceit. The Protestant party could not but see all that was to be apprehended if a Catholic heir should succeed to the throne, and they sacrificed their loyalty to their interests, if not to their principles.