Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

populous village. In the commencement of the 14th century, it was considerably strengthened and fortified, and its improvement from this time, was so rapid and regular, that in 1375 the Kings staple was established there for the sale of wool, leather, &c. The fickleness and impolicy of the government of that day, was such, that the charter thus establishing a staple here, was suddenly and unaccountably revoked by letters patent under the great seal, a measure highly detrimental to the trade of this portion of the kingdom.-Before the establishment of the staple, and after its revocation, merchants were obliged to send their vessels freighted with wool, leather, &c. round to Cork, to pay the custom due on the hides, &c. which must have been of course a very serious trouble and inconvenience. It now improved so rapidly in trade and commerce, that the government in the reign of Richard II. (1396) granted a perpetual murage charter, for the building of the walls and paving the town, as before this period, it was a corporation merely by prescription, governed by Magistrates, whose appointment was vested in the De Burgo family. A corporate body was established by charter, dated 26 January, 1396. These municipal provisions had a most salutary effect, on its improvement and prosperity. The importance of Galway from this time, was so evident, that a mint was established there for the coinage of the King's monies. It may be interesting to our readers to remark, that it was at this period, the first alteration in the value of the currency of the two kingdoms took place, and which was not assimilated until the present year. According to the annals of Connaught, and the four masters, it was nearly destroyed by fire in June, 1473. At the period " it was esteemed” (says Hardiman) “one of the most populous towns in Ireland, “ trade kept pace with the encrease of population, and a spirit of in“dustry pervaded the minds of the people, but their energies were “now more particularly called forth, by the melancholy accident which “ had just taken place, and the damages occasioned by the fire, were “ not only quickly repaired, but the town itself was materially improved, “ and soon after took its rank amongst the most considerable places “ in the kingdom.” The relation of its affairs having been thus far continued, through periods of which almost every local record and monument, has been long and irrevocably lost, an era now approaches, from which the memory of its transactions was better preserved, and consequently the future helps for the elucidations of its history, will be found much more abundant and satisfactory. Under a charter granted by Richard III. on the first of August, 1485, the first Mayor and Baliffs were elected and were sworn into oflice, on the twentyninth of September following, which practice has continued without intermission to the present time. The first mode of government, according to Story, was by a Provost, next by a Sovereign and Bailifts, and finally by a Mayor and Sheriffs. The following instance of more than Roman inflexibility, which we give in a summary way, may be new, and cannot fail to be interesting, to our readers. We feel no regret that instances of such stern and obdurate virtue, have been but very rarely exhibited in the history of the world.

James Lynch Fitzstephen, an opulent merchant, about the year 1492, was induced for commercial purposes, to visit Spain, and while there, he formed a friendship with a repectable Spanish merchant, of the name of Gomez. In a spirit of gratitude for the kindness and civility, which he received from the Spaniard during his sojourn, he brought his son, a youth of nineteen with him to Treland, promising while he continued his stay in this country, to take parental care of him. The young Gomez was introduced to the family of Mr. Lynch, and shortly became a favourite; he was recommended by the merchant, in every particular manner, to his son as a companion. This young man, two years older than the Spaniard, was highly gifted and accomplished, but a consummate libertine. The father however conceived hopes of his reformation, as he discovered that he was attached to a beautiful girl, daughter of a respectable neighbour; he also trusted that the society of one so serious, and well principled as the young Spaniard, would assist in weaning him, from his licentious courses. For some time the youthful friends lived together in harmony, until Lynch became jealous of the Spaniard, and fancied that he had treacherously attained too high a degree in the favor of his mistress, and was silently but surely supplanting him in her affections. He charged the lady with deceit and mfidelity, and she was too proud to deny the charge, thus unjustly urged against her. They parted in anger. Every thought of his was now turned on revenge, and unfortunately accident facilitated his purpose; the following night he perceived Gomez returning from the lady's house, having been invited by her father, who spoke Spanish fuently, and who courted the society of all who could converse in that language. Gomez did not recognize his friend, when he attacked him, and accordingly fled as from some assassin, but was overtaken precisely at the moment, when ignorant of his way, he had reached the shore, and the infuriate lover darting a poniard into his heart, plunged him bleeding into the sea. The next morning the tide washed the body on the beach, where it was discovered and recognized. The father of young Lynch, who on his return from Spain, was elected Mayor of the Town, though thunderstruck and heart-broken, at the fataloccurrence, yet had the firmness and presence of mind, to order his son's arrest and imprisonment. In a word, Lynch was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die. The execution was opposed, successively by entreaties and by force, but in vain, and the mode finally adopted by the Mayor to perfect the sentence of the law, was truly horrific. We will not relate it, but refer to Mr. Hardiman's volume, to which we are indebted for this anecdote, The act which might have been equity in the Judge, became inhumanity in the father;—according to the laws of that time, the Mayor was sole Judge and Sovereign of the Town.

The following Bye-law, passed in 1518, may serve to shew what great fellows, the O's and Macs were in those days, “ That none of the Burkes, “ M.Williams, Kellies, nor any other septs, should be received into the “ town, at Christmas, Easter, or any other festival time, without licence “ from the Mayor and Council, and that neither O'NE MAC SHALL

STRUTTE NE SWAGGERE, TIRO TUE STREETS OF GALWAY.” By another Bye-law enacted a few years subsequently, it was ordained that the freedom of the town, should not be conferred on any man, who could not speak the English language, and shave his upper lip weekly.

A curious privilege somewhat similar to that which existed until very lately on the Continent, prevailed in Galway at this period. The Convents were resorted to as places of refuge, or sanctuaries by such as were fearful of appearing in town, in consequence of debts, &c.

In 1537 it was ordered that such persons, so sheltering themselves, should not be previded with meat or drink by any person, under a fine of twenty shillings, 1568 first pro

this practice became so inconvenient, that in about four years afterwards, a bye-law was obliged to be passed, limiting the sanctuary of any debtor, to twenty-four hours. The opulence of the inhabitants of Galway, may. be estimated from a subsequent bye-law, directing “ That no young man “ prentiz or otherwise, shall weare no gorgious apparell, ne silks either “ within or without ther garments, ne yet fyne knilt stockins either of silke " or other costlie wise weare no costlie long riffs, thick and started, but be “ contented with single riffs, and that also they shall weare no pantwofles “ but rather be contented with showse.”

A remarkable jealousy, which shewed itself in every possible act of hostility, existed between Limerick and this town, for a very considerable length of time, until the former gained the ascendancy, which it has ever since preserved.

The Galway annals relate that an Italian traveller, induced by itsfame in foreign parts, visited the town, and that he carefully remarked. and noted down its situation and extent, the style of its buildings, the manners and customs of the inhabitants, and every other particular wor-, thy of attention. They further state that being at mass in a private house, (its celebration in public, having been in the year hibited) he saw at one view, the blessed sacrament in the hands of the. Priest, boats passing up and down the river, a ship entered the port in full sail, a salmon killed with a spear, and hunters and hounds pursuing a deer, upon which he observed, that although he had travelled the greatest part of Europe, he had never before witneesed a sight which combined so much variety and beauty. Carpion described it at that time, as

a proper neat city at the sea side.Mr. Hardiman speaking of the early inhabitants of the town, says

They always preserved a due respect for their own dignity, and from “ the earliest period, ranked with the first orders of the community.

Learning and science were received and cherished within the town, du“ ring periods wherein the rest of the kingdom, with very few exceptions,

was immersed in the most profoud ignorance.”

In the reign of Elizabeth, the celebrated Sir Henry Sidney, who had frequently visited in Galway, and was well acquainted with the town, declared that for urbanity and elegance of manners, the inhabitants equalled those of the most refined community, and that like the people of Marseilles in France, they contracted no stain from their rude and unpolished neighbours. Sir William Pelham the Lord Justice of Ireland, accompanied by the Earl of Thomond, visited the town in 1579, and we have on his respectable authority, that the town was well built and walled, possessing an excellent good haven, and replenished with many wealthy merchants, “ The townesmen and wemmen” (he states) “ present

a more civil shew of life than other townes in Ireland do and maie be "compared in my judgment, next. Dublin and Waterford, the only towne”—Sir Oliver St. John's testimony in his description of Connaught, in 1614, is highly creditable to the inhabitants, The merchants (savs “ Sir Oliver) are rich and great adventurers at the sea, their commonaltic " is composed of the descendants of the ancient English families of the " town, and rarelie admit any new English among them, and never any “ of the Irish. They keep good hospitalitic and are kind to strangers, “ and in their manner of entertainment, and in fashinninge and apparal

Jinge themselves and their wives, do most preserve the ancient manner

" and state, as much as any towne that ever I sawe.”

In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Elizabeth granted the town a charter, confirmating of all the preceding ones, by which the Mayor for the time being, was created Admiral of the port and bay, as far as the Isles of Arran, and entitled to all wrecks of the sea. When the Lord Deputy Pelham was dissenting from it in 1579, he left a company of soldiers behind, when a house was hired for their accomodation at the expence of the Queen,the first barracks known in the town. About this time one of the ships composing the Spanish Armada, was driven into the bay and wrecker, and upwards of seventy of the crew perished. A great many improvements were commenced during the reign of Elizabeth, but were destroyed in some short time after, and Galway was neglected until 1584, when the Queen was petitioned, for the purpose of enabling them to send for English Artisans to rebuild, improve, and settle in the town. Sir John Perrot in the following year, divided the province of Connaught into counties, which heretofore had consisted but of two districts, Connaught and Roscommon. From the beginning of the seventeenth century, to nearly its close, the history of Galway furnishes an epoch, the most interesting and eventful, and the affairs of the town at this momentous period, were influential, not only over Galway, but over the entire kingdom. As it would injure it not to give it in detail, we can only refer to Mr. Haxdiman's work. About 1604, circuits for Judges of Assize were established in Connaught, by the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester; and for nearly a century after, the Assizes for the town were held alternately in Galway and Loughrea. The Judges for a considerable time were entertained at ihe expence of the town, but by an order of the Common Council, in 1771, they no longer received this mark of corporation civility.-In justice it must be acknowledged that this ungenerous and inhospitable restriction existed little more than twelve months.

In the year 1610, Speel, the celebrated English antiquary, visited Galway, and some opinion of the importance of the place at that time may be collected from his description. “ The principal City of this Province, and that which may worthily be accounted the third in Ireland, is Galway, in Irish Gallive, built in manner much like to-a Tower; it is dignitied with a Bishop's See, and is much frequenteil with Merchants, by reason wirereof, and the benefit of the road and haven, it is gainful to the -nhabitants through trafic and exchange of rich commodities, both by sca · and land.” Another writer of the same day, deseribes it as the third City of the kingdom, for extent and beauty. There is a very pariicular account of its condition and appearance in 1614, by Sir Oliver St John, which we cannot refrain from laying before our readers,—“ The Town is small, but “ all is faine and statelie buildings, the fronts of the houses (toward the “streets) are all of hewed stone, uppe to the top garnished with faine battle

ments, in an uniform course, as if the whole Towne had been built uppon one model, it is built upon a rock, invironed almost with the sea and the

river, compassed with a strong wail, and after the ancient manner, such “ as with a reasonable garrison, may defende itselfe against an enemie.” We have come now to a period when it arrived at its greatest opulence and Commercial importance, when it took its place amongst the first Cities in Ireland, for population, wealth and integrity; but thenceforward it began to evince very obvious symptoms of decay, until it dwindled at last, into its Present comparative insignificance. In Mr. Tudiman's work there is a va

luable and interesting portion, treating of the Rebellion in 1641,-the declaration of Galway against the Parliament, and its unaided loyalty to Charles. The siege of the Town by the Parliamentary forces, under Coote, and the expulsion of its ancient and worthy Inhabitants in the Reign of William, which we are compelled merely to refer to, as well deserving a most attentive perusal. When we recollect the present aspect of the Town of Galway, these circumstances, indicative of its former consequence and prosperity, cannot fail to strike us with astonishment. Its grandenr rose and fell with equal rapidity; and it has left but few memorials to remind us of its magnitude. These facts alone however, would be ineffectual in awakening within us, any thing like serious regret, did we not know, that with the greatness of its early day, have also disappeared the proud spirit, and the commercial strength of its Inhahitants.

FROM THE ITALIAN.

Am I not thine, my only love ?

Bound by love's mystic spell;
Thy hopes, thy fears below-above,
Within

my

bosoin dwell.

Thy griefs their shadows fling on me,

And every smile of thine,
Each wish, withi fond fidelity

Reflects itself in mine.

SONG,

Farewell to thee, maiden! through sorrow and pain,
I'll think on those eyes I may ne'er see again ;
I'll think on the accents that fell from thy tongue,
And the wit that around thee such witchery fung.

When the storm rages loudest, and thunders roll nighier,
I'll fancy I hear the light tones of thy lyre ;
When lightnings flash round me, I'll see thee afar
Shining bright o'er the deep, the lone mariner's star,

The roar of the cannon, the rush of the wave,
May sing the lament o'er the sailor's dark grave;
But when hottest the battle, and fiercest the sea,
Let them rage as they will, I'll still think upon thee.

And think on me, love! in that moment of danger,
And give one soft tear to the ocean's wild ranger;
And mingle one sigh with the moan of the deep
That pours

the last dirge o'er the seaman's long sleep.

« AnteriorContinuar »