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both were in the peaceful enjoyment of a large estate. Religion counselled obedience to higher powers, and prudence suggested that neither of them ought to compromise a fair inheritance by manifesting discontent or sympathy with "the dispossessed," whose main object was to recover their forfeited lands. Dease, in fact, was one of those prelates, whom Rinuccini describes so pityingly, we might almost say scornfully, as, "Timid, satisfied with mere toleration, and content at being allowed to perform their few functions privately, without mitre or vestments, thus preserving the substance of the faith, and keeping themselves clear of all risk.”
Actuated by such sentiments, Dease preached submission and obedience to the constituted authorities, and in justice to the latter it must be admitted that they did not trouble themselves about him or his flock as long as they kept aloof from the insurrection. When, however, the people of Meath did take part in the general movement, Dease found that his pacific homilies had gone for nothing; for, notwithstanding his strenuous and praiseworthy efforts to save the residence and valuable library of Martin, protestant bishop of Meath, from destruction, the armed multitude, instead of obeying, told him that he had already overstepped his authority in dissuading them from marching to the assistance of Sir Phelim O'Neill, while the latter was besieging Drogheda. What we have now stated will account satisfactorily for Dease's reluctance to take any part in the organization set on foot by primate O'Reilly, whose summons to meet the prelates assembled at Cavan, Kilkenny, and Armagh, either in person or by proctor, he persistently disobeyed. The primate, however, wou'd not despair of gaining him and lord Delvin to the confederacy, till he had exhausted his last resource, which was to send Father James Nugent, a Cistercian friar of great reputation, to wait on and entreat them to join the movement. Fair words and gentle exhortations failing, Nugent was authorized to threaten both prelate and baron with the metropolitan's high displeasure; but before resorting to the latter alternative, he was instructed to employ all his powers of persuasion, in order to show that the newlyformed confederacy had within it every element that was required to ensure success and ultimate triumph. Vainly, however, did Nugent urge that Owen O'Neill, with a numerous staff of officers, who had distinguished themselves in the Low Countries, was coming home to supersede the fierce Sir Phelim, and to discipline the raw levies which had rallied round the latter; that Father Wadding was getting large subsidies from the cardinals at Rome, for prosecuting the war against the enemies of Catholicity and the king; that the Irish troops serving the crown of Spain had laid up at Antwerp a considerable supply of arms, purchased with the savings of their pay; and finally, that the pope countenanced the movement, nay, blessed it, and promised to sustain it. But all these arguments were lost on Dease, for, after remarking that the condition of a country is never so hope. less as when it has to trust to foreign invasion for redress of grievances; he shrugged his shoulders, and silenced the pleader by quoting that text in which divine wisdom rebukes the improvident and overweening-" Which of you having a mind to build a tower doth not first sit down and reckon the
charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it; or what king about to make war with another king, doth not first sit down and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him, that with twenty thousand, cometh against him ?"
In fact, Dease looked on the whole project as imprudent and chimerical, and he consequently flouted it. Delvin, however, did not view it in this light, for, although Dease would fain persuade him that Nugent's threats were not to be heeded, the baron submitted to the primate's counsels, and did join the other lords of the Pale, if we may credit a contemporary narrative,* from the pen of one intimately acquainted with all the events of the period. The immediate consequence of Delvin's adhesion was an interruption of the friendship that had subsisted so long between him and Dease, who then betook himself to his mansion of Turbotston, where he resided constantly for many years afterwards.
Meanwhile, archbishop O'Reilly had the satisfaction of seeing the confederacy strong and prosperous, supported by a small fleet of its own, a strong army commanded by Irish generals, who had distinguished themselves abroad, and the sympathy of the pope and other continental catholic powers. In his capacity of spiritual peer he occasionally took part in the debates of the supreme council at Kilkenny, where he signed various commissions, and discharged other duties of his position. His diocess, however, engrossed most of his care, for he flattered himself that the organization, which was the work of his own brain, would eventually realize his highest hopes, and leave him free to superintend his spiritual charge, without involving him in political broils. But in this he was mistaken, for soon after the arrival of the nunzio, he began to discover that the chief lay members of the supreme council, nearly all of whom were either kinsmen or dependants of lord Ormond, had taken upon them, by virtue of some ancient privilege of the English crown in catholic times, to nominate bishops to the vacant Irish sees, without consulting him or asking his sanction. This assumption. he deprecated in personal interviews with the nunzio, as well as in letters to that personage, but the latter, while ignoring any right of the supreme council, to interfere in such matters, undertook the whole trouble of reporting to Rome, on the comparative merits of the bishops-designate.† There can be no doubt that primate O'Reilly approved the nunzio's general policy, and regarded it in every sense as best adapted for remedying the many grievances which weighed so heavily on the Frish catholics, and for the removal of which they were now in "arms. Owen O'Neill was the nunzio's favourite general, and this celebrated soldier was O'Reilly's kinsman : the Ulster forces were the staunchest of Rinuccini's adherents, and we need hardly say that the majority of them was recruited within the immediate jurisdiction of the primacy, on the hills and in the glens of Tyrone, where the traditions of Hugh O'Neill's victories, were not yet half a century old. In a word, the brain and strong arms on which the nunzio built all his hopes
of success belonged to the northern province, and decidedly the most influential and energetic man there at that period was the archbishop of Armagb. His own immediate relatives, and the followers of his ancient house, held high command and served in the confederate ranks, and so great was the reliance of the catholics on their valour and fidelity, that when Malmorra surnamed the Slasher—was slain on the bridge of Fenagh,* (near Granard,) in an onfall of the Scotch covenanters, his kinsmen carried his corse to the old burying place, in the Franciscan convent of Cavan, and there raised a monument, with an epitaph which dolorously set forth that Ireland lay vanquished in the same grave with him—
It is almost superfluous to add that at Benburb,† the O'Reillys were in the forefront of that memorable battle, and that 'Philip (O'Reilly), Owen O'Neill's brother-in-law, and affined to the archbishop, with his array of stalwart pikemen, helped to achieve a victory unparalleled since the days of the "Great Hugh"- a victory, indeed, which, for a while, made the nunzio think that the object of his mission was accomplished, and established between him and the archbishop a reciprocal friendship which outlived hopes, reverses, and terrible disasters.
There is, however, another aspect of the archbishop's character, which shall evermore command the admiration of the Irish student and scholar, priest and layman. We mean his patronage and encouragement of Colgan, the poor Franciscan of Inuishowen, who, in Louvain, at his instance, commenced and completed the "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniæ”—a work which will perpetuate the name of the author and his patron as long as men value great genius and profound literary research. Gracefully, indeed, has Colgan acknowledged his obligations to the archbishop, for he tells us that, "be cheered him on in his undertaking, and secured for him the sympathy and aid of his suffragans." Colgan and his community were poor, and had not wherewithal to print the noble tome: but O'Reilly, in order to eternise the fame of the Irish saints, gave, out of his scant revenue, moneys for the publication, and had the happiness of seeing it inscribed. with his own name. May we not imagine with what complacency he perused those pages in which Colgan so elegantly alludes to his princely origin, the renown of his ancestors in ancient times; their prowess in the
*Lord Castlehaven commanded at t is encounter, which took place in 1644, and the monument to Miles 66 the Slasher" was extant till the close of last century. + 66 'Before the battle commenced," says the author of the "Discovery of Faction," "O'Neill addressed his troops, after they had recited the litany of the B. V., and received plenary indulgence from Egan, the chaplain general, thus :--'If to shun death you fly, and leave your fellow-soldiers in action, you will be no better esteemed in the world than bloudie Cain, who murthered his own innocent brother Abel.''
-battle-field; their munificence to church and cloister; his own promotion to his native see of Kilmore, his elevation to the primacy, and the hereditary valour of his kinsmen, who, worthy of their sires, were then in arms for religion, king, and fatherland. This, indeed, was a patent of intellectual nobility which no monarch or king-at-arms could supply.*
Reluctant to take any part in the debates of the supreme council at Kilkenny, now that the nunzio was there with his paramount authority, archbishop O'Reilly devoted himself wholly to his diocess, from which the Scotch covenanters had fled to the sea-board, after the victory of Benburb. In fact, his see had greater attractions for him than the noisy arena of the senate, and he does not appear to have concerned himself with the proceedings of the latter, till the clergy rejected Ormond's thirty articles, at Waterford, in 1646, when he sent Edmond O'Teague, with full powers to act as his proctor, and subscribe the declaration by which the viceroy's peacetreaty was pronounced worse than useless. Thenceforth, that is till 1648, he seems to have been nothing more than a spectator of the events which crowded so alternatingly in that interval. Intelligence of the breach in the confederate council reached him from afar, and the only incident that could mitigate such calamities was the success that attended the arms of his kinsman, O'Neill, who, at the nunzio's summons, marched rapidly from Connaught into Leinster, and after beating Inchiquin and the parliamentarian general, Jones, saved Kilkenny for the catholics. Those, however, were but momentary triumphs, valueless in their results, and nowise compensating for the division and discord that were fast breaking up the grand organization on which he had calculated so hopefully, but, alas! so falsely. Let us now leave him for a while, and resume our notice of Dease.
Inflexible in his egotism, this prelate kept aloof from the general movement, calmly watching passing events, tending his diocess under peculiar disadvantages, and looking to the goodly estate which he had inherited. In this comparative isolation he had grown very old† and feeble, so much so, that in 1646, the nunzio wrote to Rome, that he was on the point of death, and that he (Dease) was anxious that his nephew, Oliver, should be appointed coadjutor in the see of Meath. The nunzio's forebodings, however, were not realised, for, about six months after the date of that letter, he and the bishop were at variance about an appointment which the latter had made to the ancient monastery of Tristernagh. Dease collated one Gerald Tuite to the priory,
* Tu enim tuis piis et frequentibus stimulis ad ipsum operose colligendum urgebas, aliosque suffragatores tui exemplo ad promovendum excitabas. Omitto imprimis justas rationes debitæ nostræ propensionis in inclytam tuam. Ragallorum familiam ab origine eaque perantiqua potentem, in prænobili propagine amplam, in potentia et amplitudine illustrem; ex qua militiæ sacræ luculentissimæ faces, et prophanæ strenuisimi duces semper consueverunt et hodie non desunt prodire quorum præclara facinora quæ et vetustiora sæcula noverunt, et nostra non reticet ætas hæc pagina non capit, nec tua cupit ostentari modestia. Hæc te tuæ promotionis inscium ad sedem Killmorensem a tuis atavis ample dotatam advexit; Inde invite extractum in Armachana sede collocavit. Præfat. in Acta. SS.
† Nunz., p. 153.
but the nunzio, acting under instructions from Rome, resolved that that person should be removed, to make way for father Andrew Nugent, a Canon regular of St. Augustine, to which order the place belonged before the suppression of religious houses. This, however, was but a trifle compared to the charge which the nunzio laid at Dease's door, alleging that he and the bishop of Dromore had blown the coals of enmity between generals O'Neill and Preston, and so inflamed the mutual dislike of both, that Dublin was lost to the confederates by their want of union. *
Two years afterwards, that is in 1648, Dease grew more infirm, and made bis will, when some one informed the nunzio that he was really in extremis, and beyond all hope. Hearing this, he wrote to Rome-"The bishop of Meath died in his eightieth year, to the great advantage of this kingdom, for he was a man who held opinions little short of heretical;‡ and old as he was, I was obliged to threaten him with a citation to present himself before the holy see."§ But, in about a month after the despatch of this angry missive, he discovered that he had been misinformed, and he thereon wrote again to Rome-"The bishop of Meath is not dead, but has been spared to try the patience of the good!" Dease, indeed, did recover, and when grown convalescent, proved himself more than ever contumacious to the nunzio. Oliver Dease, his nephew, it is true, subscribed the rejection of Ormond's peace, in 1646, but as for the bishop, his name does not appear in the proceedings of the confederates, till the nunzio published sentence of excommunication against all supporters of Inchiquin's treaty, in 1648. Foremost among the prelates who stood by that fatal measure was the archbishop of Armagh; but of all those who maintained that it was uncalled for, and ruinous to the common interest, none was more demonstrative or energetic than the bishop of Meath. With the nunzio were Owen O'Neill and his Ulster army, and arrayed against both were Preston. and his Leinster forces. It was, in sooth, a sad battle, for on the same field were now arrayed against each other, soldiers and theologians, the cope against the corslet-the spiritual against the carnal weapon! No sooner, however, had the foresaid sentence appeared, than the party of the supreme council opposed to the nunzio drew up seven queries, touching the validity of the censures, and submitted them to Rothe, bishop of Ossory, that he might pronounce upon same, for quieting of their conscience and preservation of the commonweal. Rothe thereon returned his celebrated answer to said queries, and satisfied the opposition that the nunzio was in the wrong,
* They were subsequently reconciled by the nunzio, who caused them to sign an agreement, which concludes thus, "Fideliter observabo in omnibus Nuncii mandata, tanquam principalia motiva ad fovendos et præservandos nos in hac unione, ut melius in exaltatione causæ Dei procedatur.'
+ Nunz., p.p. 323-5.
The nunzio regarded Dease as a political heretic, because the latter dissented from his extreme views, and clung to the doctrine of expediency; and as there was nothing to justify an imputation on the bishop's orthodoxy, we must attribute the harsh expression in the letter we have quoted to an ebullition of temper, from which even good men are not always exempt.
§ Nunz., 327.