Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/567

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districts. Everything was wanting but brave hearts and heroic self-devotion. The besieging army, at first commanded by King James, and afterwards by his most experienced generals, outnumbered the garrison by some three to one. "It was certainly," says Harris in his life of William III., " a very bold undertaking in these two gentlemen to maintain against a formidable army, commanded by a king in person, an ill-fortified town, with a garrison composed of poor people frightened from their habitations, and without a proportionable number of horse to sally out, or engineers to instruct them in the necessary work. Nor had they above twenty cannons, of which not one was well mounted, and, in the opinion of the former governor, not above ten days' provisions." The defence, which lasted above a hundred days, was one of the most heroic in history; and when the siege was raised, the garrison was reduced by deaths in sallies and on the walls, and by disease, to 4,300, "of whom at least a fourth part were rendered unserviceable." Of garrison and inhabitants 9,000 are calculated to have died within the walls during the siege. To increase their difficulties, De Rosen, James's general, upon one occasion drove some thousands of Protestants from the surrounding country under the walls, and kept them there for three days, in the hope that the garrison would take them in and thereby be further weakened. By the time they were permitted to depart "Walker had cleverly managed to draw in from amongst them the strong and hardy, and to send away in their place some of his old and useless mouths. On 30th June Major Baker died, and Colonel Mitchelburne was made Walker's assistant. Without declining the post of danger and honour at the head of the garrison. Walker always appeared willing to concede to others, where practicable, the military functions so little suited to his cloth. He took part in the daily service in the cathedral, as well as in the other duties of his office, and his dress always indicated that in becoming a soldier he had not ceased to be a priest. Towards the end of the siege, " such a scarcity of the vilest eatables was in the city, that horse-flesh was sold for 1s. 8d. a pound; a quarter of a dog fattened by the dead bodies of the slain Irish, 5s. 6d.; a dog's head, 2s. 6d.; a cat, 4s. 6d.; a rat, is.; a mouse, 6d.; greaves by the pound, 1s.; tallow, 4s.; salted hides, 1s.; and other things in proportion. Their drink was water mixed with ginger and anise-seeds; and their necessity of eating a composition of tallow and starch not only nourished and supported them, but proved an infallible cure for the flux." The women shared in the labours of the men, carrying ammunition to the soldiers, attending to the sick and wounded, and at times giving assistance in repelling the assaults of the besiegers. Eighteen Church clergymen and eight dissenting ministers took part in the toils of the siege, and their turn in leading daily services in the cathedral and other places of worship. In June an English fleet arrived in Lough Foyle; but the banks of the lough being in the occupation of the enemy, it was unable to throw any relief into the town, and could not even have communicated with the inhabitants, but for the bravery of Colonel Roche. [See page 456].] At length, on the 30th of July, the Mountjoy broke the boom that the besiegers had placed across the river, and, running the gauntlet of a furious cannonade, sailed up to the quay, followed by two other vessels carrying supplies and provisions. All the eatables in the place at the time are said to have been nine lean horses, and a pint of meal to each man. A few days afterwards De Rosen broke up camp and raised the siege, having lost, it is stated, 8,000 to 9,000 men. Walker presented the keys of the city to Major-General Kirk, who had come with the fleet. Kirk declined to receive them, but next day permitted Walker, who was anxious that "he might return to his own profession," to resign the governorship to Captain White, "a gentleman of experienced valour and known merit." Walker, when praised for the part he had taken, with great humility declared that the "whole conduct of this matter must be ascribed to Providence alone. … God was pleased to make us the happy instruments of preserving this place, and to Him we give the glory. … With his own right hand and his holy arm getting Himself the victory." At a meeting of the heroic inhabitants of Londonderry, Walker was deputed to go to England to present an address to King William and Queen Mary, expressive of their gratitude for the relief they had received, and to assure their Majesties of their devoted allegiance. He went by way of Scotland, and was received with great distinction in Glasgow, where the freedom of the city was conferred upon him. A similar honour was accorded him at Edinburgh. On the journey he was met by a letter from King William: he was escorted into London with great respect, and was graciously received at court. With much good taste, Walker refused to accede to the desire