“The Troubles”


Orange and Green fight. "Corney" ended the terror; Humbert ended peace. "Orange for Croppies went grousing." "Paddies completely divided" let John Bull adopt Union: "I'll take from them Commons and Peers" leaving "shackles and chains to the slave"


"This piece ... was written by Jemmy Hope, one of the Northern United Irish leaders. Hope survived the rising and died in 1847."

The ballad makes a hero of Cornwallis as viceroy and commander-in-chief sent to Ireland to keep the peace after the 1798 uprising. Then it blames the Orangemen for the revival of terror after Humbert's defeat. After discussing Union it retells Aesop's fable in which a fox [England] steals the prize [Ireland] for which a lion and bear [Orange and Green] fight. It ends with a sarcastic tribute to "our gracious good monarch ... And also our free Constitution, And shackles and chains to the slave." - BS

Lord Lieutenant Camden, who was in charge in Ireland when the 1798 rebellion started -- and he had no idea what to do. The British came up with a typically bad compromise: They put the dreadful General Lake in charge of the army, but appointed Cornwallis to be Lord Lieutenant.

Despite his failure in America, Cornwallis had done good service in the fifteen years prior to his appointment; he had spent six years in India, and had demonstrated (and would demonstrate again in Ireland) that he had none of the self-importance of the typical British politician (see Thomas Pakenham, _The Year of Liberty_, pp. 263-264).

Cornwallis was clearly more humane than most of the alternatives. Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, in _A History of Ireland_, p. 206, write that "He overrode Lake: troops were certainly not to be let loose on the countryside and there would be no punishment without trial."

He also issued written pardons (called "Cornys") to rank and file rebels who surrendered quickly (see Robert Kee, _The Most Distressful Country_, being Volume I of _The Green Flag_, p. 123)

When Humbert invaded, Cornwallis organized the pursuit that captured him (Fry/Fry, p. 207; Kee, p. 140).

Cornwallis and his secretary Lord Castlereigh also helped arrange the Act of Union, but this was based on Orders From On High; for himself, Terry Golway (_For the Cause of Liberty_, p. 90; also Kee, p. 159) quotes his statement, "I despise and hate myself for every hour engaging in such work." But he and (especially) Castlereigh bought enough peers to eventually pass Union (Fry/Fry, p. 211).

The religious conflicts in Ulster to which this song refers actually began even before 1798; see such songs about the Defenders, the Peep o' Day Boys, and the Orangemen as "The Noble Ribbon Boys," "Bold McDermott Roe," "The Boys of Wexford," and "Lisnagade."

Most of the sources I checked do not mention James Hope, but he is all over the pages of Jim Smyth's _The Men of No Property_. He is said (p. 30) to have had only 15 weeks of formal schooling. In 1796, he travelled from Belfast to Dublin to spread the United Irish messaage (p. 152), and also visited Armagh, Monaghan, Cavan, and Leitrim (p.158) to bring the Defenders into the United framework. After the arrests of 1796-1797 he became one of the few remaining United Irish leaders coordinating the activities of the various local chapters (p. 160); perhaps his travels made him harder to catch. It appears that Smyth regards him as a radical inclined toward socialism (p. 165).

The _Oxford Companion to Irish History_ lists Hope's birth date as 1764, and says hewrote his memoris in 1843; they were published in 1846. It does not know his death date; it appears that Moylan's date is a conjecture from the fact that Hope was still alive when the memoirs were published, but made little further impression. - RBW

Historical references

  • May-June 1798 - Irish rebellion against British rule
  • June 1798-March 1801 - Cornwallis is Viceroy of Ireland after the uprising (source: "Charles Cornwallis" at the site of the Grand [Masonic] Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon)
  • August-September 1798 - A French force under General Jean-Joseph-Amable Humbert lands in Ireland and is defeated.
  • January 1801 - Act of Union of Ireland and Great Britain


  1. Moylan 148, "The Troubles" (1 text)
  2. BI, Moyl148


Author: James Hope (?-1847) (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: 1887 (Madden's _Literary Remains of the United Irishmen of 1798_, according to Moylan)