Изображения страниц

Ireland was that made use of in 1585, by Sir John Perrot, at that time lord deputy: he put arms into the hands of the Irish inhabitants of Ulster, in order to enable them, without the assistance of the government, to repress the incursions of the Scottish islanders, by which these parts were much infested. At the same time, the invitation of Philip, joined to their zeal for the Catholic religion, engaged many of the gentry to serve in the Low Country wars; and thus Ireland, being provided with officers and soldiers, with discipline and arms, became formidable to the English, and was thenceforth able to maintain a more regular war against her ancient masters.





Hugh O'Neale, nephew to Shan O'Neale, had been Tyrone's raised by the queen to the dignity of Earl of Tyrone; but, having murdered his cousin, son of that rebel, and being acknowledged head of his clan, he preferred the pride of barbarous licence and dominion to the pleasures of opulence and tranquillity, and he fomented all those disorders by which he hoped to weaken or overturn the English government. He was noted for the vices of perfidy and cruelty, so common among uncultivated nations, and was also eminent for courage, a virtue which their disorderly course of life requires, and which, notwithstanding, being less supported by the principle of honour, is commonly more precarious among them than among a civilized people. Tyrone, actuated by this spirit, secretly fomented the discontents of the Maguires, O'Donnels, O'Rourks, Macmahons, and other rebels; yet, trusting to the influence of his deceitful oaths and professions, he put himself into the hands of Sir William Russel, who, in the year 1594, was sent over deputy to Ireland. Contrary to the advice and protestation of Sir Henry Bagnal, marshal of the army, he was dismissed; and returning to his own country, he embraced the resolution of raising an open rebellion, and of relying no longer on the lenity or inexperience of the English government. He entered into a correspondence with Spain: he procured thence a supply of arms and ammunition; and, having united all the Irish chieftains in a dependence upon himself, he began to be regarded as a formidable enemy.

s Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, p. 203.

CHAP. XLIV. 1599.

The native Irish were so poor that their country afforded few other commodities than cattle and oatmeal, which were easily concealed or driven away on the approach of the enemy; and as Elizabeth was averse to the expense requisite for supporting her armies, the English found much difficulty in pushing their advantages, and in pursuing the rebels into the bogs, woods, and other fastnesses, to which they retreated. These motives rendered Sir John Norris, who commanded the English army, the more willing to hearken to any proposals of truce or accommodation made him by Tyrone; and, after the war was spun out by these artifices for some years, that gallant Englishman, finding that he had been deceived by treacherous promises, and that he had performed nothing worthy of his ancient reputation, was seized with a languishing distemper, and died of vexation and discontent. Sir Henry Bagnal, who succeeded him in the command, was still more unfortunate. As he advanced to relieve the fort of Blackwater, besieged by the rebels, he was surrounded in disadvantageous ground; his soldiers, discouraged by part of their powder accidentally taking fire, were put to flight; and though the pursuit was stopped by Montacute, who commanded the English horse, fifteen hundred men, together with the general himself, were left dead upon the spot. This victory, so unusual to the Irish, roused their courage, supplied them with arms and ammunition, and raised the reputation of Tyrone, who assumed the character of the deliverer of his country, and patron of Irish liberty'.

The English council were now sensible that the rebellion of Ireland was come to a dangerous head, and that the former temporizing arts of granting truces and pacifications to the rebels, and of allowing them to purchase pardons by resigning part of the plunder acquired during their insurrection, served only to encourage the spirit of mutiny and disorder among them. It was therefore resolved to push the war by more vigorous measures; and the queen cast her eye on Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, as a man who, though hitherto less accustomed to arms than to books and literature, was endowed, she thought, with talents equal to the undert Cox, p. 415.



taking. But the young Earl of Essex, ambitious of CHAP. fame, and desirous of obtaining this government for himself, opposed the choice of Mountjoy; and represented the necessity of appointing for that important employment some person more experienced in war than this nobleman, more practised in business, and of higher quality and reputation. By this description, he was understood to mean himself"; and no sooner was his desire known, than his enemies, even more zealously than his friends, conspired to gratify his wishes. Many of his friends thought that he never ought to consent, except for a short time, to accept of any employment which must remove him from court, and prevent him from cultivating that personal inclination which the queen so visibly bore him". His enemies hoped that, if by his absence she had once leisure to forget the charms of his person and conversation, his impatient and lofty demeanour would soon disgust a princess who usually exacted such profound submission and implicit obedience from all her servants. But Essex was incapable of entering into such cautious views; and even Elizabeth, who was extremely desirous of subduing the Irish rebels, and who was much prepossessed in favour of Essex's genius, readily agreed to appoint him governor of Ireland, by the title of Lord Lieutenant. The more to encourage him Essex sent in his undertaking, she granted him by his patent more over to extensive authority than had ever before been conferred on any lieutenant; the power of carrying on or finishing the war as he pleased, of pardoning the rebels, and of filling all the most considerable employments of the kingdom. And to ensure him of success, she levied a numerous army of sixteen thousand foot and thirteen hundred horse, which she afterwards augmented to twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse; a force which it was apprehended would be able in one campaign to overwhelm the rebels, and make an entire conquest of Ireland. Nor did Essex's enemies, the Earl of Nottingham, Sir Robert Cecil, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Lord Cobham, throw any obstacles in the way of these preparations ; but hoped that, the higher the queen's expectations of


w Cabala, p. 79.

u Bacon, vol. iv. p. 512. VOL. IV.

x Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 366.




success were raised, the more difficult it would be for the event to correspond to them. In a like view, they rather seconded than opposed those exalted encomiums, which Essex's numerous and sanguine friends dispersed of his high genius, of his elegant endowments, his heroic courage, his unbounded generosity, and his noble birth; nor were they displeased to observe that passionate fondness which the people every where expressed for this nobleman. These artful politicians had studied his character; and finding that his open and undaunted spirit, if taught temper and reserve from opposition, must become invincible, they resolved rather to give full breath to those sails which were already too much expanded, and to push him upon dangers of which he seemed to make such small account. And, the better to make advantage of his indiscretions, spies were set upon all his actions and even expressions; and his vehement spirit, which, while he was in the midst of the court, and environed by his rivals, was unacquainted with disguise, could not fail, after he thought himself surrounded by none but friends, to give a pretence for malignant suspicions and constructions.

Essex left London in the month of March, attended with the acclamations of the populace; and, what did him more honour, accompanied by a numerous train of nobility and gentry, who, from affection to his person, had attached themselves to his fortunes, and sought fame and military experience under so renowned a commander. The first act of authority which he exercised after his arrival in Ireland was an indiscretion, but of the generous kind; and in both these respects suitable to his character. He appointed his intimate friend, the Earl of Southampton, general of the horse; a nobleman who had incurred the queen's displeasure, by secretly marrying without her consent, and whom she had therefore enjoined Essex not to employ in any command under him. She no sooner heard of this instance of disobedience, than she reprimanded him, and ordered him to recall his commission to Southampton. But Essex, who had imagined that some reasons which he opposed to her first injunctions. had satisfied her, had the imprudence to remonstrate y Camden. Osborne, p. 371.

against these second orders; and it was not till she CHAP. reiterated her commonds, that he could be prevailed on XLIV. to displace his friend.



Essex, on his landing at Dublin, deliberated with the His ill Irish council concerning the proper methods of carrying on the war against the rebels; and here he was guilty of a capital error, which was the ruin of his enterprise. He had always, while in England, blamed the conduct of former commanders, who artfully protracted the war, who harassed their troops in small enterprises, and who, by agreeing to truces and temporary pacifications with the rebels, had given them leisure to recruit their broken forces. In conformity to these views, he had ever insisted upon leading his forces immediately into Ulster against Tyrone, the chief enemy; and his instructions had been drawn agreeably to these his declared resolutions. But the Irish counsellors persuaded him that the season was too early for the enterprise, and that, as the morasses, in which the northern Irish usually sheltered themselves, would not as yet be passable to the English forces, it would be better to employ the present time in an expedition into Munster. Their secret reason for this advice was, that many of them possessed estates in that province, and were desirous to have the enemy dislodged from their neighbourhood: but the same selfish spirit which had induced them to give this counsel, made them soon after disown it, when they found the bad consequences with which it was attended c.

Essex obliged all the rebels of Munster either to submit or to fly into the neighbouring provinces: but as the Irish, from the greatness of the queen's preparations, had concluded that she intended to reduce them to total subjection, or even utterly to exterminate them, they considered their defence as a common cause; and the English forces were no sooner withdrawn than the inhabitants of Munster relapsed into rebellion, and renewed their confederacy with their other countrymen. The army, meanwhile, by the fatigue of long and tedious marches, and by the influence of the climate, was become

z Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 421. 451. a lbid. p. 431. Bacon, vol. iv. p. 512. b Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 448.

c Winwood, vol. i. p. 140.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »