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State of

CHAP. THOUGH the dominion of the English over Ireland had
been seemingly established above four centuries, it may
1599. safely be affirmed, that their authority had hitherto
been little more than nominal. The Irish princes and
nobles, divided among themselves, readily paid the ex-
terior marks of obeisance to a power which they were
not able to resist; but as no durable force was ever
kept on foot to retain them in their duty, they relapsed
still into their former state of independence. Too weak
to introduce order and obedience among the rude in-
habitants, the English authority was yet sufficient to
check the growth of any enterprising genius among the
natives; and though it could bestow no true form of
civil government, it was able to prevent the rise of any
such form from the internal combination or policy of the
Irish ".

Most of the English institutions, likewise, by which that island was governed, were to the last degree absurd, and such as no state before had ever thought of, for preserving dominion over its conquered provinces.

The English nation, all on fire for the project of subduing France, a project whose success was the most improbable, and would to them have proved the most pernicious, neglected all other enterprises to which their situation so strongly invited them, and which in time would have brought them an accession of riches, grandeur, and security. The small army which they maintained in Ireland they never supplied regularly with pay; and as no money could be levied on the island, which possessed none, they gave their soldiers the pri

a Sir J. Davies, p. 5, 6, 7, &c.

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vilege of free quarter upon the natives. Rapine and insolence inflamed the hatred which prevailed between the conquerors and the conquered: want of security among the Irish introducing despair, nourished still more the sloth natural to that uncultivated people.

But the English carried farther their ill-judged tyranny. Instead of inviting the Irish to adopt the more civilized customs of their conquerors, they even refused, though earnestly solicited, to communicate to them the privilege of their laws, and every where marked them out as aliens and as enemies. Thrown out of the protection of justice, the natives could find no security but in force; and, flying the neighbourhood of cities, which they could not approach with safety, they sheltered themselves in their marshes and forests from the insolence of their inhuman masters. Being treated like wild beasts, they became such; and joining the ardour of revenge to their yet untamed barbarity, they grew every day more intractable and more dangerous.

As the English princes deemed the conquest of the dispersed Irish to be more the object of time and patience than the source of military glory, they willingly delegated that office to private adventurers, who, enlisting soldiers at their own charge, reduced provinces of that island, which they converted to their own profit. Separate jurisdictions and principalities were established by these lordly conquerors: the power of peace and war was assumed; military law was exercised over the Irish, whom they subdued, and, by degrees, over the English, by whose assistance they conquered; and, after their authority had once taken root, deeming the English institutions less favourable to barbarous dominion, they degenerated into mere Irish, and abandoned the garb, language, manners, and laws of their mother-country.

By all this imprudent conduct of England, the natives of its dependent state remained still in that abject condition, into which the northern and western parts of Europe were sunk before they received civility and slavery from the refined policy and irresistible bravery of Rome. Even at the end of the sixteenth century, when every Christian nation was cultivating with ardour c Ibid. p. 133, 134, &c.

b Sir J. Davies, p. 102, 103, &c.




CHAP. every civil art of life, that island, lying in a temperate XLIV. climate, enjoying a fertile soil, accessible in its situation, possessed of innumerable harbours, was still, notwithstanding these advantages, inhabited by a people whose customs and manners approached nearer those of savages than of barbarians ".

As the rudeness and ignorance of the Irish were extreme, they were sunk below the reach of that curiosity and love of novelty by which every other people in Europe had been seized at the beginning of that century, and which had engaged them in innovations and religious disputes with which they were still so violently agitated. The ancient superstition, the practices and observances of their fathers, mingled and polluted with many wild opinions, still maintained an unshaken empire over them; and the example of the English alone was sufficient to render the reformation odious to the prejudiced and discontented Irish. The old opposition of manners, laws, and interest, was now inflamed by religious antipathy; and the subduing and civilizing of that country seemed to become every day more difficult and more impracticable.

The animosity against the English was carried so far by the Irish, that, in an insurrection raised by two sons of the Earl of Clanricarde, they put to the sword all the inhabitants of the town of Athenry, though Irish, because they began to conform themselves to English customs, and had embraced a more civilized form of life than had been practised by their ancestors.

The usual revenue of Ireland amounted only to six thousand pounds a year: the queen, though with much repining, commonly added twenty thousand more, which she remitted from England: and with this small revenue a body of a thousand men was supported, which on extraordinary emergencies was augmented to two thousand". No wonder that a force so disproportioned to the object, instead of subduing a mutinous kingdom, served rather to provoke the natives, and to excite those frequent insurrections, which still farther inflamed the

e Camden, p. 457.

d See Spencer's Account of Ireland, throughout.

f Memoirs of the Sidneys, vol. i. p. 86.

g Cox, p. 342. Sidney, vol. i. p. 85. 200.

h Camden, p. 542. Sidney, vol. i. p. 65. 109. 183, 184.

animosity between the two nations, and increased the CHAP. disorders to which the Irish were naturally subject.



In 1560, Shan O'Neale, or the Great O'Neale, as the Irish called him, because head of that potent clan, raised a rebellion in Ulster; but after some skirmishes he was received into favour, upon his submission, and his promise of a more dutiful behaviour for the future. This impunity tempted him to undertake a new insurrection in 1567; but, being pushed by Sir Henry Sidney, lord deputy, he retreated into Clandeboy, and rather than submit to the English, he put himself into the hands of some Scottish islanders, who commonly infested those parts by their incursions. The Scots, who retained a quarrel against him on account of former injuries, violated the laws of hospitality, and murdered him at a festival to which they had invited him. He was a man equally noted for his pride, his violence, his debaucheries, and his hatred to the English nation. He is said to have put some of his followers to death because they endeavoured to introduce the use of bread after the English fashion. Though so violent an enemy to luxury, he was extremely addicted to riot; and was accustomed, after his intemperance had thrown him into a fever, to plunge his body into mire, that he might allay the flame which he had raised by his former excesses'. Such was the life led by this haughty barbarian, who scorned the title of the Earl of Tyrone, which Elizabeth intended to have restored to him, and who assumed the rank and appellation of King of Ulster. He used also to say, that though the queen was his sovereign lady, he never made peace with her but at her seeking ".

Sir Henry Sidney was one of the wisest and most active governors that Ireland had enjoyed for several reigns"; and he possessed his authority eleven years, during which he struggled with many difficulties, and made some progress in repressing those disorders which had become inveterate among the people. The Earl of Desmond, in 1569, gave him disturbance, from the hereditary animosity which prevailed between that nobleman and the Earl of Ormond, descended from the only family

k Ibid. p. 409.

i Camden, p. 385. 391.

m Ibid. p. 321.

1 Ibid. Cox, p. 324. n Cox, p. 350.



CHAP. established in Ireland that had steadily maintained its loyalty to the English crown. The Earl of Thomond, in 1570, attempted a rebellion in Connaught, but was obliged to fly into France before his designs were ripe for execution. Stukely, another fugitive, found such credit with the pope, Gregory the Thirteenth, that he flattered that pontiff with the prospect of making his nephew, Buon Compagno, King of Ireland; and, as if this project had already taken effect, he accepted the title of Marquis of Leinster from the new sovereign P. He passed next into Spain, and after having received much encouragement and great rewards from Philip, who intended to employ him as an instrument in disturbing Elizabeth, he was found to possess too little interest for executing those high promises which he had made to that monarch. He retired into Portugal; and, following the fortunes of Don Sebastian, he perished with that gallant prince, in his bold but unfortunate expedition against the Moors.

Lord Gray, after some interval, succeeded to the government of Ireland; and, in 1579, suppressed a new rebellion of the Earl of Desmond, though supported by a body of Spaniards and Italians. The rebellion of the Bourks followed a few years after; occasioned by the strict and equitable administration of Sir Richard Bingham, governor of Connaught, who endeavoured to suppress the tyranny of the chieftains over their vassals. The queen, finding Ireland so burdensome to her, tried several expedients for reducing it to a state of greater order and submission. She encouraged the Earl of Essex, father to that nobleman who was afterwards her favourite, to attempt the subduing and planting of Clandeboy, Ferny, and other territories, part of some late forfeitures; but that enterprise proved unfortunate, and Essex died of a distemper occasioned, as is supposed, by the vexation which he had conceived from his disappointments. An university was founded in Dublin, with a view of introducing arts and learning into that kingdom, and civilizing the uncultivated manners of the inhabitants'. But the most unhappy expedient employed in the government of

• Camden, p. 424.

a Stowe, p. 720.

P Ibid. p. 430. Cox, p. 354.

r Camden, p. 566.

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