Just the appendix

 

    It is a Matter not unworthy the Observation, how dextrously the Government there could prevaricate in their dealings with the poor enslaved Protestants; for upon any apprehension of Succours arriving from England, or other pretext to fleece and squeeze them; an Information was presently given, how numerous the Protestants were, and what danger may arrive from thence; and then they were forthwith confined, and hurried away to Prison, and their Houses and Goods expos’d to the Rapine of the Irish and French…
    What a miserable an unexpected Oppression is it, that the poor Subjects shall be Compelled to part with their Goods and Merchandize, for a Contemptible lump of Brass or Pewter? Yet such hath been the Constant proceeding of the late King towards his Subjects of Ireland; whose Goods and Commodities he rather Seizeth than Buyeth; and becoming the grand Merchant of the Kingdom, he was the general Ingrosser of all Trade, which he Vends and Exports, to his dear Correspondent in France…

 

 

 

 

 

Remember when I thought we’d gotten rid of James? MWUH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

Sigh.

As we have seen, there was a resurgence of political writing between 1689 – 1691; but curiously, most of it took a plethora of cracked pitchers back to the well, hashing over the same old material – Charles’ secret Catholicism, his sexual transgressions, the circumstances of his death, James’ open Catholicism, the Sham Prince, the arrival of William – for what we would hope would be the final time (though by this time I know better than to have any confidence on that point).

Conspicuously missing from the 1691 lineup is any writing about what you would think would be the most important recent event: the Battle of the Boyne, which in July 1690 saw James driven off British soil for the final time by forces led in person by William.

It is difficult to assign a reason for this reticence. The only suggestion I can come up with is that the Williamite War (as it became known) continued for another fifteen months in the absence of the Irish forces’ Commander-in-Chief, concluding with the signing of the Treaty of Limerick in October 1691; and perhaps the political writers of the time didn’t want to commit themselves to anything while matters – including most importantly William’s life – were still in the balance.

It is, however, this general silence that finally drove me – with great reluctance – back to the writing of Nathaniel Crouch, aka Richard / Robert Burton, aka “R. B.”

Though there was debate about its authorship at the time (and much abuse of the wrong person, the unfortunate John Phillips), with hindsight it is very evident that the author of The Secret History Of The Reigns Of K. Charles II, And K. James II was printer, bookseller, plagiarist and pot-stirrer, Nathaniel Crouch. Over time, Crouch became less concerned about hiding his authorship; and the later editions of his work, which he continued to update and reissue, are fairly easily traced to him.

Crouch published The Secret History… anonymously in 1690, and followed it with The Secret History Of K. James I And K. Charles I. Compleating The Reigns Of The Last Four Monarchs. Then, in 1691, he compiled the two and added an appendix which promised an update on the activities of James—

—from the Time of his Abdication of England, to this present January, 1691—

—and which, like so much of Crouch’s writing, promises more than it delivers. Rather than getting anywhere near “this present”, the appendix deals predominantly with the events leading up to the Siege of Derry—which, granted, is considered now the first decisive act of the Williamite War, but which took place from April to August 1689.

In fact, it’s hard to understand why Crouch even bothered; except perhaps as the means of squeezing a few more pennies out of his readers, while foisting on them the same old rubbish. The appendix shows every sign of being a hasty bit of scribbling, and unlike The Secret History… itself, it doesn’t have the saving grace of being bad enough to be funny.

As we have touched upon previously, James had no sooner set foot in France following his departure from England in November 1688 than Louis placed an army at his disposal. It was agreed that Ireland should be James’ base of operations in his efforts to reclaim his throne. The country had been undergoing a transformation since the appointment of the Earl of Tyrconnel as Lord Deputy in 1687: Tyrconnel had since readmitted Catholics to parliament and allowed them to hold public office, and removed Protestants first from command positions in the army, then from within the ranks.

This is the first action Crouch takes note of in his Appendix; though in keeping with the tone of The Secret History…, the men’s actions are simply about “introducing Popery” rather than William’s imminent arrival (and James’ subsequent departure):

And now it was judged, by the late King, and his doubty Deputy Tyrconnel, the surest time to put the long conceived Design of subverting the Protestant Religion, and introducing Popery into full execution; upon which, in Nov. 1688, there was a motion made in Council for disarming all the rest of the Protestants of that Kingdom, which being known, and most concluding that as soon as their Arms were taken (there being then a hot discourse of a general Massacre intended) ’twas only to leave them more naked and exposed so as that might have its full effect more easily, and with less opposition upon them, which alarm’d the Protestants so, that many Thousands came flocking over to avoid that fatal stroke. Now were the few Protestants who lived, disperst, left to shift for themselves. In the mean time, the Lord Tyrconnel (who still had the Sword undemanded, and undisposed of to any other) issues new Commissions, not only to the Ro. Ca. who had some Estates, but to all, who were willing to stand up for the Cause, that were men of broken fortunes, and worse Fame, that could influence the Rabble, and raise Companies…

Crouch then goes into a detailed yet tiresomely uninformative scree about the subsequent upheaval, full of who wrote to whom, who broke what promises, whose cattle was stolen, who went where and who went somewhere else, and so on and on. This part is so badly written it’s almost impossible to follow events, let alone get a feel for the bigger picture; but eventually we find a a general movement of the action towards Derry, in the north of Ireland, which along with Enniskillen formed the remaining Irish Protestant enclave.

With William’s arrival growing imminent, and doubting that he could rely upon his English troops, James asked Tyrconnel to send him Irish troops instead—which by this time meant Catholic troops. This was done across September and October of 1688. However, the regiment stationed at Derry itself, under Viscount Mountjoy, a Protestant loyal to James, was considered “unreliable”; and instead of sailing for England, these troops were sent to Dublin. It was intended they be replaced by Scottish mercenary forces (“redshanks”) under the command of the Earl of Antrim, but they were delayed, creating a gap between their arrival and the departure of Mountjoy’s men—and when they did arrive, the city was forewarned by Colonel George Phillips, a former governor. In response, thirteen Derry apprentices seized the city keys and locked the gates of the walled city against them.

Though history now views this as the first blow struck in the Williamite War, this incident occurred some months before formal hostilities, and was peacefully resolved when the keys to the city were given up to Phillips. Subsequently, two regiments under Mountjoy, but consisting of Protestant soldiers, were allowed to occupy the garrison; the commander of one of them, Robert Lundy, was appointed governor in place of Phillips.

In February 1689, William accepted the crown from the English convention—and Derry promptly declared itself for William. It also set about preparing for a siege. To aide these efforts, William sent Captain James Hamilton (whose uncle, Richard, would lead the Catholic forces against the Irish Protestants) to Derry with arms, money and provisions, which would ultimately prove crucial to the city’s survival.

However, when Protestant forces under the command of Robert Lundy suffered a bad defeat against those of Richard Hamilton, Lundy began planning to surrender Derry, and refused to allow recently arrived English reinforcements into the city. Local dissatisfaction with Lundy had been growing since he had withdrawn troops from Sligo and Dungannon, and when it was seen that the local gentry and many of the senior officers were quietly leaving, matters were taken out of his hands. Lundy ended up fleeing the city, which went back to preparing to defend itself. Matters reached crisis-point on the 18th April, when Richard Hamilton called upon the city to surrender. The city asked for two days’ grace, and demanded Hamilton’s troops halt at St Johnston, some eight miles away

Meanwhile, James had landed in Ireland, in company with a mixed force led by the Comte de Lauzun: about one hundred French officers, but troops who were largely English and Irish Catholics who had taken refuge in Europe. (Louis by this time was busy with the Nine Years’ War.) James arrived in the north of Ireland at just this time and was persuaded that these stubborn Protestants would surely submit to a personal plea. Instead, the city forces took his approach to the gates as a violation of their agreement with Hamilton, and fired upon his retinue.

So began the Siege of Derry.

This is a brief though hopefully not too inaccurate summary of the events that Nathaniel Crouch covers in his Appendix—not that you’d know it from reading the Appendix. He doesn’t actually deal with the siege itself, but repeatedly veers off to pursue what was obviously a personal obsession, the financial cost to both sides of the situation—dwelling upon the fact that no-one on either side was getting paid either directly, or compensated for their confiscated goods.

And above all, he bangs the Popery drum.

Here, for example, is his description of the Capture of Bandon in March 1689:

    …at the Prince’s arrival in Ireland to ingratiate himself with the Protestants, and to begin an Opinion of his great Clemency among the Peoples, he very Graciously condescended to grant a general and free Pardon to the inhabitants of the Town of Bandon, amusing them with an assurance of their absolute indemnity for their Transgression, but soon afterwards he remitted them to the Severity of the Law, and exposed them to a Tryal for their Lives; upon which they were all found Guilty of High Treason; and no other Consequence could rationally be expected, when both Judges and Jury were composed of inexorable Papists: And, in the mean time, that this mighty Crime was no more, than that the Inhabitants of the Place observing their neighbours to be openly Rob’d and Pillag’d, and from Clandestine Thievery to proceed to violent Depradation, they though it prudent to shut their Gates, and avoid Plunder by a necessary Defence, and self-preservation.
    This was the first Essay of the gracious Indulgence of a Popish King to his Protestant Subjects: This was a plain Specimen of what is to be expected from him who will Mortgage his Reason to the Humour of his Priests.

…except what happened was that, fearing an uprising, the government sent troops into Bandon, which is in the south of Ireland. Resenting their arrival while the populace was in church, the next day the townspeople attacked the soldiers, killing several and driving the rest away, before closing the city gates. Subsequently, however, the townspeople surrendered—having negotiated an extraordinarily light punishment in the form of a £1000 fine and an agreement to tear their walls down.

And this was in fact part of a campaign by James to convince the local Protestants of his goodwill: a campaign which infuriated his Catholic followers and which, after two years of Tyrconnel, had none of the desired effect.

(That passage is also an excellent example of what might loosely be called Nathaniel Crouch’s “writing style”…)

In any event, we approach with caution Crouch’s description of an incident in which English prisoners in Galloway under sentence of death were promised their lives if they could help raise a regiment for Colonel Robert Fielding, whose own men had been ordered to France to replace the troops sent to Ireland, but who deserted before embarking, “…according to their natural and usual custom.” The prisoners agreed and complied, only to be immediately reimprisoned:

…an Order was sent from the late King, to seize upon those deluded Gentlemen, and to recommit them to their former Prison, on pretence that Fielding’s Contract with them was not done with his Allowance: The Great Turk would blush to be charg’d with such an action! and the very Heathen would abhor it! An action fit only for the Monsieur of France, and such Princes as are influenc’d by his example…

Crouch then offers up some descriptions of atrocities committed by the French troops upon their arrival in Dublin; and it is here, on the final page of the Appendix, that we get our first, last, and only allusion to what we might have expected this addendum to deal with:

A motion was made in Council, that the City of Dublin should be fired, the Protestants being first shut up in the Churches and Hospitals, and if they lost the day at the Boyne, to set Fire to all; whereupon the Irish Papists Trades in the City, and those of the Army, that either Themselves, Relations, or Friends, own’d Houses in it, apply’d Themselves to their King, and told him They should suffer in that Expedition, as well as the Protestants; and that they would not draw a Sword in his Defence, unless all thoughts of burning the City, were set aside; and declared, that as soon as they saw or heard of any appearance of Fire, they would fly from his Service, and submit to King Williams Mercy; of which now they have had a good Experiment.

The end.

No, really.

Not really THE end, though—because in 1693 Nathaniel Couch reissued these compiled volumes YET AGAIN, and with YET ANOTHER APPENDIX—this one promising once again to catch us up with James, from the time of his abdication of England, to this present Novemb. 1693: being an account of his transactions in Ireland and France, with a more particular respect to the inhabitants of Great-Britain.

So I guess this isn’t quite the last of either James or of Crouch: I’m not sure which of those realisations I regret more.

This is, however, the end of 1691 – WHOO!!!! – which turned out to be a grim and poorly written literary year, in terms of both its fiction and its non-fiction.

But there’s hope for better on the horizon…though that is a story for another time…

 

4 Comments to “Just the appendix”

  1. Every lazy writer/publisher knows that when you bring out the omnibus edition of your older books you include a bare minimum of new material so that the dedicated fans will buy it again.

    • Yes, and now I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that Nathaniel Crouch had dedicated fans.

      A hardcore cache of James-haters seems more likely. 😀

  2. My SO has a Stewart king in her ancestry, and gets offended if I mention that the Stewarts and Stuarts are buttheads.

    The current Meghan and Harry flap has just inspired me to more frequently utter the phrase “Republic of Great Britain”.

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