Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/66

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spirits rose; and the besiegers began to lose heart. William did his best to repair his loss. Two of the guns which had been blown up were found to be still serviceable. Two more were sent for from Waterford. Batteries were constructed of small field pieces, which, though they might have been useless against one of the fortresses of Hainault or Brabant, made some impression on the feeble defences of Limerick. Several outworks were carried by storm; and a breach in the rampart of the city began to appear.

During these operations, the English army was astonished and amused by an incident, which produced indeed no very important consequences, but which illustrates in the most striking manner the real nature of Irish Jacobitism. In the first rank of those great Celtic houses, which, down to the close of the reign of Elizabeth, bore rule in Ulster, were the O'Donnels. The head of that house had yielded to the skill and energy of Mountjoy, had kissed the hand of James the First, and had consented to exchange the rude independence of a petty prince for an eminently honourable place among British subjects. During a short time the vanquished chief held the rank of an Earl, and was the landlord of an immense domain of which he had once been the sovereign. But soon he began to suspect the government of plotting against him, and, in revenge or in selfdefence, plotted against the government. His schemes failed; he fled to the continent; his title and his estates were forfeited; and an Anglosaxon colony was planted in the territory which he had governed. He meanwhile took refuge at the court of Spain. Between that court and the aboriginal Irish there had, during the long contest between Philip and Elizabeth, been a close connection. The exiled chieftain was welcomed at Madrid as a good Catholic flying from heretical persecutors. His illustrious descent and princely dignity, which to the English were subjects of ridicule, secured to him the respect of the Castilian grandees. His honours were inherited by a succession of banished men who lived and died far from the land where the memory of their family was fondly cherished by a rude peasantry, and was kept fresh by the songs of minstrels and the tales