Because I am uncertain whether his Majesty will put to a point some resolutions touching Ireland, now at Windsor: I thought it my duty to attend his Majesty by my letter, and thereby to supply my absence, for the renewing of some former commissions for Ireland, and the framing of a new commission for the wards, and the alienations, which appertain properly to me, as his Majesty's attorney, and have been accordingly referred by the lords, I will undertake that they are prepared with a greater care, and better application to his majesty's service, in that kingdom, than heretofore they have been; and therefore of that I say no more. And for the instructions of the new deputy, they have been set down by the two secretaries, and read to the board, and being things of an ordinary nature, I do not see but they may pass. But there have been three propositions and councils which have been stirred, which seem to me of
p.45very great importance, wherein I think myself bound to deliver to his majesty my advice, and opinion, if they should now come in question. The first is touching the recusant magistrates of the towns of Ireland, and the commonalties themselves, and their electors, what shall be done; which consultation ariseth from the late advertisements from the two lord justices, upon the instance of the two towns, Limerick and Kilkenny; in which advertisements, they represent the danger only without giving any light for the remedy, rather warily for themselves, than agreeable to their duties and places. In this point, I humbly pray his majesty to remember, that the refusal is not of the Oath of Allegiance, (which this is not exacted in Ireland,) but of the Oath of of supremacy, which cutteth deeper into matter of conscience.
Also that his majesty, will out of the depth of his excellent wisdom and providence, think, and as it were calculate with himself, whether time will make more for the cause of religion in Ireland, and be still more and more propitious, or whether differing remedies will not make the case more difficult. For if time give his majesty the advantage, what needeth precipitation of extreme remedies; but if the time will make the case more desperate, then his majesty cannot begin too soon. Now, in my opinion, time will open and facilitate things for reformation of religion there, and not shut up or lock out the same. For, first, the plantations going on, and being principally of protestants, cannot but mate the other party in time. Also his majesty's care in placing good bishops, and good divines; in amplifying the college there, and looking to the education of wards, and such like; as they are the most natural means, so are they like to be the most effectual and happy, for the weeding out of popery, without using the temporal sword; so that I think I may truly conclude, that the ripeness of time is not yet come.
Therefore my advice is, in all humbleness, that this hazardous course of proceeding to tender the oath to the magistrates of towns, proceed not, but die by degrees. And yet to preserve the authority and reputation of the former council, I would have somewhat done, which is, that there be a proceeding to seizure of liberties, but not by any act of power, but by quo warranto, or scire facias, which is a legal course, and will be the work of three or four terms; by which time the matter will be somewhat cool.
But I would not (in no case) that the proceeding should be with both the towns which stand now in contempt, but with one of them only, choosing that which shall be most fit. For, if his majesty proceed with both, then all the towns that are in the like case will think it a common cause, and that it is but their case to day, and their own to morrow. But if his majesty proceed but with one, the apprehension and terror will not be so strong; for, they may think, it may be their case to be spared, as well as prosecuted. And this is the best advice that I can give to his majesty, in this strait; and of this opinion seemed my lord chancellor to be.
The second proposition is this, it may be, his majesty will be moved to reduce the number of his council of Ireland, (which is now almost fifty) to twenty, or the like number, in respect that the greatness of the number doth both imbase the authority of the council, and divulge the business. Nevertheless, I hold this proposition to be rather specious, and solemn, than needful at this time; for certainly, it will fill the state full of discontentment, which, in a growing and unsettled state, ought not to be. This I could wish, that his majesty would appoint a select number of counsellors there, which might deal in the improvement of his revenue, (being a thing not to pass through too many hands;) and the said selected number should have days of sitting by themselves, at which the rest of the council should
p.47not be present; which being once settled, then other principal business of state may be handled at these sittings; and so the rest begin to be disused, and yet retain their countenance, without murmur, or disgrace.
The third proposition, as it is moved, seemeth to be pretty, if it can keep promise; for it is this, that a means may be found to re-inforce his majesty's army by five hundred, or a thousand men, and that without any penny increase of charge. And the means should be, that there should be a commandment of a local removing, and transferring some companies from one province to another, whereupon it is supposed, that many that are planted in house and lands, will rather lose their entertainment, than remove; and thereby new men may have their pay, yet, the old be mingled in the country, for the strength thereof. In this proposition two things may be feared; the one, discontent of those that shall be put off; the other, that the companies should be stuffed with novices, tirones instead of veterani. I wish, therefore, that this proposition be well debated, before it be admitted. Thus having performed that which duty binds me to, I commend you to God's best preservation.
Your most devoted and bounden servant.