Spenser's Castle—Sidney's Official Account of Ireland—Miserable State
of the Protestant Church—The Catholic Church and its Persecuted
Rulers—The Viceroy's Administration—A Packed Parliament and its
Enactments—Claim of Sir P. Carew—An Attempt to plant in
Ulster—Smith's Settlement in the Ards—His Description of the Native
Irish—He tries to induce Englishmen to join him—Smith is killed, and
the attempt to plant fails—Essex next tries to colonize Ulster—He dies
in Dublin—Sidney returns to Ireland—His Interview with
Granuaile—Massacre at Mullamast—Spenser's Account of the State of

[A.D. 1567-1579.]

ilcolman Castle, with its fair domains, were bestowed on the poet
Spenser, who had accompanied Lord Grey to Ireland in 1579. He has left a
fearful description of the miseries of the country; but it scarcely
exceeds the official report of Sir Henry Sidney, which must first be
noticed. At the close of the month of January, 1567, the Lord Deputy set
out on a visitation of Munster and Connaught. In his official account he
writes thus of Munster: "Like as I never was in a more pleasant country
in all my life, so never saw I a more waste and desolate land. Such
horrible and lamentable spectacles are there to behold—as the burning
of villages, the ruin of churches, the wasting of such as have been good
towns and castles; yea, the view of the bones and skulls of the dead
subjects, who, partly by murder, partly by famine, have died in the
fields—as, in truth, hardly any Christian with dry eyes could behold."
He declares that, in the territory subject to the Earl of Ormonde, he
witnessed "a want of justice and judgment." He describes the Earl of
Desmond as "a man devoid of judgment to govern, and will be to be
ruled." The Earl of Thomond, he says, "had neither wit of himself to
govern, nor grace or capacity to learn of others." The Earl of
Clanrickarde he describes as "so overruled by a putative wife, as
ofttimes, when he best intendeth, she forceth him to do the worst;" and
it would appear that neither he nor his lady could govern their own
family, for their sons were so turbulent they kept the whole country in
disturbance. In Galway he found the people trying to protect themselves,
as best they might, from their dangerous neighbours; and at Athenry
there were but four respectable householders, who presented him with the
rusty keys of their town—"a pitiful and lamentable present;" and they
requested him to keep those keys, for "they were so impoverished by the
extortions of the lords about them, as they were no longer able to keep
that town."

Well might he designate the policy by which the country had been
hitherto governed as "cowardly," and contemn the practice of promoting
division between the native princes, which was still practised. He adds:
"So far hath that policy, or rather lack of policy, in keeping
dissensions among them, prevailed, as now, albeit all that are alive
would become honest and live in quiet, yet there are not left alive, in
those two provinces, the twentieth person necessary to inhabit the
same." Sidney at once proceeded to remedy the evils under which the
unfortunate country groaned, by enacting other evils. We shall leave him
to give his own account of his proceedings. He writes thus, in one of
his official despatches: "I write not the names of each particular
varlet that hath died since I arrived, as well by the ordinary course of
the law, as of the martial law, as flat fighting with them, when they
would take food without the good will of the giver, for I think it no
stuff worthy the loading of my letters with; but I do assure you the
number of them is great, and some of the best, and the rest tremble. For
most part they fight for their dinner, and many of them lose their heads
before they be served with supper. Down they go in every corner, and
down they shall go, God willing."[426]

When we remember Sidney's own description of the desolation of country,
and read of the fashion in which he remedied that desolation we cannot
wonder at the piteous account given a few years later by the English
poet; for who could escape the threefold danger of "ordinary law,
martial law, and flat fighting." Nor was the state of religious affairs
at all more promising. The Deputy describes the kingdom as "overwhelmed
by the most deplorable immorality and irreligion;"[427] the Privy
Council, in their deliberations, gives a similar account. "As for
religion, there was but small appearance of it; the churches uncovered,
and the clergy scattered."[428] An Act of Parliament was then passed to
remedy the evils which Acts of Parliament had created. In the preamble
(11th Elizabeth, sess. iii. cap. 6) it mentions the disorders which
Sidney had found, and complains of "the great abuse of the clergy in
getting into the said dignities by force, simony, friendship, and other
corrupt means, to the great overthrow of God's holy Church;" and for
remedy, the Act authorizes the Lord Deputy to appoint, for ten years,
to all the ecclesiastical benefices of these provinces, with the
exception of the cathedral churches of Waterford, Limerick, Cork, and

But it was soon evident that Acts of Parliament could not effect
ecclesiastical reform, though they might enforce exterior conformity to
a new creed. In 1576, Sidney again complains of the state of the Irish
Church, and addresses himself, with almost blasphemous flattery to the
head of that body, "as to the only sovereign salve-giver to this your
sore and sick realm, the lamentable state of the most noble and
principal limb thereof—the Church I mean—as foul, deformed, and as
cruelly crushed as any other part thereof, only by your gracious order
to be cured, or at least amended. I would not have believed, had I not,
for a greater part, viewed the same throughout the whole realm." He then
gives a detailed account of the state of the diocese of Meath, which he
declares to be the best governed and best peopled diocese in the realm;
and from his official report of the state of religion there, he thinks
her Majesty may easily judge of the spiritual condition of less favoured
districts. He says there are no resident parsons or vicars, and only a
very simple or sorry curate appointed to serve them; of them only
eighteen could speak English, the rest being "Irish ministers, or rather
Irish rogues, having very little Latin, and less learning or
civility."[429] In many places he found the walls of the churches thrown
down, the chancels uncovered, and the windows and doors ruined or
spoiled—fruits of the iconoclastic zeal of the original reformers and
of the rapacity of the nobles, who made religion an excuse for plunder.
He complains that the sacrament of baptism was not used amongst them,
and he accuses the "prelates themselves" of despoiling their sees,
declaring that if he told all he should make "too long a libel of his
letter. But your Majesty may believe it, that, upon the face of the
earth where Christ is professed, there is not a Church in so miserable a

A Protestant nobleman, after citing some extracts from this document,
concludes thus: "Such was the condition of a Church which was, half a
century ago, rich and flourishing, an object of reverence, and a source
of consolation to the people. It was now despoiled of its revenues; the
sacred edifices were in ruins; the clergy were either ignorant of the
language of their flocks, or illiterate and uncivilized intruders; and
the only ritual permitted by the laws was one of which the people
neither comprehended the language nor believed the doctrines. And this
was called establishing the Reformation!"[430]

It should be observed, however, that Sir Henry Sidney's remarks apply
exclusively to the Protestant clergy. Of the state of the Catholic
Church and clergy he had no knowledge, neither had he any interest in
obtaining information. His account of the Protestant clergy who had been
intruded into the Catholic parishes, and of the Protestant bishops who
had been placed in the Catholic dioceses, we may presume to be correct,
as he had no interest or object in misrepresentation; but his
observation concerning the neglect of the sacrament of baptism, may be
taken with some limitation. When a religious revolution takes place in a
Catholic country, there is always a large class who conform exteriorly
to whatever opinions maybe enforced by the sword. They have not the
generosity to become confessors, nor the courage to become martyrs. But
these persons rarely renounce the faith in their hearts; and sacrifice
their conscience to their worldly interest, though not without
considerable uneasiness. In such cases, these apparently conforming
Protestants would never think of bringing their children to be baptized
by a minister of the new religion; they would make no nice distinctions
between the validity of one sacrament and another; and would either
believe that sacraments were a matter of indifference, as the new creed
implied, or if they were of any value that they should be administered
by those who respected them and that their number should remain intact.
In recent famine years, the men who risked their spiritual life to save
their temporal existence, which the tempter would only consent to
preserve on his own terms, were wont to visit the church, and bid
Almighty God a solemn farewell until better times should come. They
could not make up their minds to die of starvation, when food might be
had for formal apostacy; they knew that they were denying their God when
they appeared to deny their religion. It is more than probable that a
similar feeling actuated thousands at the period of which we are
writing; and that the poor Celt, who conformed from fear of the sword,
took his children by night to the priest of the old religion, that he
might admit them, by the sacrament of baptism, into the fold of the only
Church in which he believed.

It is also a matter of fact, that though the Protestant services were
not attended, and the lives of the Protestant ministers were not
edifying, that the sacraments were administered constantly by the
Catholic clergy. It is true they date their letters "from the place of
refuge" (e loco refugii nostri), which might be the wood nearest to
their old and ruined parish-church, or the barn or stable of some
friend, who dared not shelter them in his house; yet this was no
hindrance to their ministrations; for we find Dr. Loftus complaining to
Sir William Cecil that the persecuted Bishop of Meath, Dr. Walsh, was
"one of great credit amongst his countrymen, and upon whom (as touching
cause of religion) they wholly depend."[431] Sir Henry Sidney's efforts
to effect reformation of conduct in the clergy and laity, do not seem to
have been so acceptable at court as he might have supposed. His strong
measures were followed by tumults; and the way in which he obtained
possession of the persons of some of the nobles, was not calculated to
enhance his popularity. He was particularly severe towards the Earl of
Desmond, whom he seized in Kilmallock, after requiring his attendance,
on pretence of wishing him to assist in his visitation of Munster. In
October, 1567, the Deputy proceeded to England to explain his conduct,
taking with him the Earl of Desmond and his brother, John, whom he also
arrested on false pretences. Sidney was, however, permitted to return,
in September, 1568. He landed at Carrickfergus, where he received the
submission of Turlough O'Neill, who had been elected to the chieftaincy
on the death of Shane the Proud.

The first public act of the Lord Deputy was to assemble a Parliament, in
which all constitutional rules were simply set at defiance (January
17th, 1569). Mayors and sheriffs returned themselves; members were sent
up for towns not incorporated, and several Englishmen were elected as
burgesses for places they had never seen. One of these men, Hooker, who
was returned for Athenry, has left a chronicle of the age. He had to be
protected by a guard in going to his residence. Popular feeling was so
strongly manifested against this gross injustice, that the judges were
consulted as to the legality of proceedings of whose iniquity there
could be no doubt. The elections for non-corporate towns, and the
election of individuals by themselves, were pronounced invalid; but a
decision was given in favour of non-resident Englishmen, which still
gave the court a large majority.[432] In this Parliament—if, indeed, it
could be called such—Acts were passed for attainting Shane O'Neill, for
suppressing the name, and for annexing Tyrone to the royal possessions.
Charter schools were to be founded, of which the teachers should be
English and Protestants; and the law before-mentioned, for permitting
the Lord Deputy to appoint persons to ecclesiastical benefices for ten
years, was passed.

Sir Philip Carew came to Ireland about this time, and renewed the claim
of his family to possessions in Ireland. This plea had been rejected in
the reign of Edward III.; but he now produced a forged roll, which the
corrupt administration of the day readily admitted as genuine. His claim
was made in right of Robert FitzStephen, one of the first adventurers;
his demand included one-half of the "kingdom of Cork," and the barony of
Idrone, in Carlow. Several engagements ensued, in one of which Carew
boasted of having slain 400 Irish, and lost only one man. If his
statement be true, it is probable the engagement was simply a massacre.
The war became so formidable, that the MacCarthys, FitzGeralds,
Cavanaghs, and FitzMaurices united against the "common enemy," and at
last despatched emissaries to the Pope to implore his assistance. It is
strange to find native Irish chieftains uniting with Anglo-Norman lords
to resist an English settler.

Sidney now began to put his plan of local governments into execution;
but this arrangement simply multiplied the number of licensed
oppressors. Sir Edward Fitton was appointed President of Connaught, and
Sir John Perrot, of Munster. Both of these gentlemen distinguished
themselves by "strong measures," of which cruelty to the unfortunate
natives was the predominant feature. Perrot boasted that he would "hunt
the fox out of his hole," and devoted himself to the destruction of the
Geraldines. Fitton arrested the Earl of Clanrickarde, and excited a
general disturbance. In 1570 the Queen determined to lay claim to the
possessions in Ulster, graciously conceded to her by the gentlemen who
had been permitted to vote according to her royal pleasure in the
so-called Parliament of 1569. She bestowed the district of Ards, in
Down, upon her secretary, Sir Thomas Smith. It was described as "divers
parts and parcels of her Highness' Earldom of Ulster that lay waste, or
else was inhabited with a wicked, barbarous, and uncivil people." There
were, however, two grievous misstatements in this document. Ulster did
not belong to her Highness, unless, indeed, the Act of a packed
Parliament could be considered legal; and the people who inhabited it
were neither "wicked, barbarous, nor uncivil." The tract of country thus
unceremoniously bestowed on an English adventurer, was in the possession
of Sir Rowland Savage. His first ancestor was one of the most
distinguished of the Anglo-Norman settlers who had accompanied De Courcy
to Ireland. Thus, although he could not claim the prescriptive right of
several thousand years for his possessions, he certainly had the right
of possession for several centuries. An attempt had been made about ten
years before to drive him out of part of his territory, and he had
written a letter to "The Right Hon. the Earl of Sussex,
Lieutenant-General of Ireland," asking for "justice," which justice he
had not obtained. He was permitted to hold the Southern Ards, because he
could not be expelled from it without considerable difficulty, and
because it was the least valuable part of his property.

Smith confided the conduct of the enterprise to his natural son who has
already been mentioned as the person who attempted to poison Shane
O'Neill. The first State Paper notice of this enterprise is in a letter,
dated February, 8, 1572, from Captain Piers to the Lord Deputy, stating
that the country is in an uproar "at Mr. Smith coming over to plant in
the north." There is a rare black letter still extant, entitled,
["Letter by F.B. on the Peopling of the Ardes"] which Smith wrote to
induce English adventurers to join him in his speculation. It is
composed with considerable ability. He condemns severely the degeneracy
of the early English settlers, "who allied and fostered themselves with
the Irish." He says that "England was never fuller of people than it is
at this day," and attributes this to "the dissolution of abbeys, which
hath doubled the number of gentlemen and marriages." He says the younger
sons who cannot "maintain themselves in the emulation of the world," as
the elder and richer do, should emigrate; and then he gives glowing
accounts of the advantages of this emigration.

Strange to say, one of the principal inducements he offers is that the
"churle of Ireland is very simple and toylsomme man, desiring nothing
but that he may not be eaten out with ceasse [rent], coyne, and
liverie." He passes over the subject of rent without any comment, but he
explains very fully how "the churle is eaten up" with the exactions of
"coyne and liverie." He says these laborious Irish will gladly come "to
live under us, and to farm our ground;" but he does not say anything
about the kind of treatment they were to receive in return for their
labour. His next inducement is the immense sale (and profit) they might
expect by growing corn; and he concludes by relieving their fears as to
any objections which the inhabitants of this country might make to being
dispossessed from their homes and lands, or any resistance they might
offer. He considers it immaterial, "for the country of Lecale [which had
been taken in a similar manner from Savage] was some time kept by
Brereton with a hundred horses, and Lieutenant Burrows kept Castle
[Castlereagh], and went daily one quarter of a mile to fetch his
water, against five hundred Irish that lay again him."

Smith concludes with "an offer and order" for those who wished to join
in the enterprise. Each footman to have a pike,[433] or halberd, or
caliver, and a convenient livery cloak, of red colour or carnation, with
black facings. Each horseman to have a staffe[434] and a case of
dagges,[435] and his livery[436] to be of the colour aforesaid.

Strype wrote a life of Sir Thomas Smith, Bart., Oxford, 1620. He
mentions this attempt at colonizing Ulster, having this good design
therein: "that those half-barbarous people might be taught some
civility." He speaks of "the hopeful gentleman," Sir Thomas Smith's son
and concludes with stating how the expedition terminated: "But when
matters went on thus fairly, Mr. Smith was intercepted and slain by a
wild Irishman."

Before his assassination Smith had written an account of his proceedings
to his father, in which he says that "envy had hindered him more than
the enemy," and that he had been ill-handled by some of his own
soldiers, ten of whom he had punished. He also expresses some fear of
the native Irish, whom he had tried to drive out of their lands, as he
says they sometimes "lay wait to intrap and murther the maister

I have given details of this attempted plantation in Ulster, because it
illustrates the subject; and each plantation which will be recorded
afterwards, was carried out on the same plan. The object of the
Englishman was to obtain a home and a fortune; to do this he was obliged
to drive, the natives out of their homes, and to deprive them of their
wealth, whether greater or less. The object of the Irishman was to keep
out the intruder; and, if he could not be kept out, to get rid of him by
fair means or foul.

It is probable that the attempt of Smith was intended by Government principally as an experiment to ascertain whether the plantation could
be carried out on a larger scale. The next attempt was made by Walter
Devereux, Earl of Essex, who received part of the signories of Clannaboy
and Ferney, provided he could expel the "rebels" who dwelt there. Essex
mortgaged his estates to the Queen to obtain funds for the enterprise.
He was accompanied by Sir Henry Kenlis, Lord Dacres, and Lord Norris'
three sons.

Sir William FitzGerald, the then Lord Deputy, complained loudly of the
extraordinary powers granted to Essex; and some show of deference to his
authority was made by requiring the Earl to receive his commission from
him. Essex landed in Ireland in 1573, and the usual career of tyranny
and treachery was enacted. The native chieftains resisted the invasion
of their territories, and endeavoured to drive out the men whom they
could only consider as robbers. The invaders, when they could not
conquer, stooped to acts of treachery. Essex soon found that the
conquest of Ulster was not quite so easy a task as he had anticipated.
Many of the adventurers who had assumed his livery, and joined his
followers, deserted him; and Brian O'Neill, Hugh O'Neill, and Turlough
O'Neill rose up against him. Essex then invited Conn O'Donnell to his
camp; but, as soon as he secured him, he seized his Castle of Lifford,
and sent the unfortunate chieftain a prisoner to Dublin.

In 1574 the Earl and Brian O'Neill made peace. A feast was prepared by
the latter, to which Essex and his principal followers were invited; but
after this entertainment had lasted for three days and nights, "as they
were agreeably drinking and making merry, Brian, his brother, and his
wife were seized upon by the Earl, and all his people put unsparingly to
the sword-men, women, youths, and maidens—in Brian's own presence.
Brian was afterwards sent to Dublin, together with his wife and brother,
where they were cut in quarters. Such was the end of their feast. This
wicked and treacherous murder of the lord of the race of Hugh Boy
O'Neill, the head and the senior of the race of Eoghan, son of Nial of
the Nine Hostages, and of all the Gaels, a few only excepted, was a
sufficient cause of hatred and dispute to the English by the

Essex visited England in 1575, and tried to induce the Queen to give him
further assistance in his enterprise. On her refusal, he retired to
Ireland, and died in Dublin, on the 22nd September, 1576. It was
rumoured he had died of poison, and that the poison was administered at
the desire of the Earl of Leicester, who soon after divorced his own
wife, and married the widow of his late rival Essex complained bitterly,
in his letter to Sir Henry Sidney, of the way in which he had been
treated in his projected plantation of Clannaboy, and protested against
the injustice which had been done through him on O'Donnell, MacMahon,
and others, who were always peaceable and loyal, but "whom he had, on
the pledged word of the Queen, undone with fair promises." Probably,
only for his own "undoing," he would have had but scant pity for others.

Yet Essex could be generous and knightly with his friends, kind and
courtly, at least to his English dependents. There are some curious
accounts of his expenses while he was "Lord-General of Ulster," in a
State Paper, from which it will appear that he could be liberal, either
from natural benevolence or from policy. The entries of expenditure
indicate a love of music, which he could easily gratify in Ireland,
still famous for the skill of its bards. He gave ten shillings to the
singing men of Mellifont, then inhabited by Edward Moore, to whom it had
been granted at the suppression of monasteries. A harper at Sir John
Bellew's received three shillings; "Crues, my Lord of Ormonde's harper,"

received the large sum of forty shillings, but whether in compliment to
the bard or the bard's master is doubtful. The Earl of Ormonde's
"musicians" also got twenty shillings. But there are other
disbursements, indicating that presents were gratefully received and
vails expected. "A boy that brought your lordship a pair of greyhounds"
had a small donation; but "M'Genis, that brought your lordship two
stags," had 13s. 4d., a sum equivalent to £7 of our money. Nor were
the fair sex forgotten, for Mrs. Fagan, wife of the Lord Mayor of
Dublin, was presented with a piece of taffeta "for good entertainment."

Sir Henry Sidney returned to Ireland in 1575. He tells us himself how he
took on him, "the third time, that thanklesse charge; and so taking
leave of her Majesty, kissed her sacred hands, with most gracious and
comfortable wordes, departed from her at Dudley Castell, passed the
seas, and arrived the xiii of September, 1575, as nere the city of
Dublin as I could saufly; for at that tyme the city was greevously
infested with the contagion of the pestilence."[438] He proceeded thence
to Tredagh (Drogheda), where he received the sword of the then Deputy.
He next marched northward, and attacked Sorley Boy and the Scotch, who
were besieging Carrickfergus; and after he had conquered them, he
received the submission of Turlough O'Neill and other Ulster chieftains.
Turlough's wife, the Lady Agnes O'Neill, née M'Donnell, was aunt to
the Earl of Argyle, and appears to have been very much in favour with
the Lord Deputy.

In the "depe of wynter" he went to Cork, were he remained from Christmas
to Candlemas. He mentions his entertainment at Barry's Court with
evident zest, and says "there never was such a Christmas kept in the
same." In February he visited Thomond, and subdued "a wicked generation,
some of whom he killed, and some he hanged by order of law." A nice
distinction, which could hardly have been appreciated by the victims.
The Earl of Clanrickarde caused his "two most bade and rebellious
sonnes" to make submission, "whom I would to God I had then hanged."

However, he kept them close prisoners, and "had a sermon made of them
and their wickedness in the chief church in the town." John seems to
have been the principal delinquent. Some time after, when they had been
set at liberty, they rebelled again; and he records the first "memorable
act" which one of them had done, adding, "which I am sure was

Sidney then marched into the west, and had an interview with the famous
Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile, which he describes thus: "There came to me
also a most famous femynyne sea captain, called Granuge I'Mally, and
offered her services unto me wheresoever I would command her, with three
galleys and two hundred fighting men. She brought with her her husband,
for she was as well by sea as by land more than master's-mate with him.
He was of the nether Burkes, and called by nickname Richard in Iron.
This was a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland. This woman did
Philip Sidney see and speak with; he can more at large inform you of
her." Grana, or Grace O'Malley, was the daughter of a chieftain of the
same patronymic. Her paternal clan were strong in galleys and ships.
They owned a large territory on the sea-coast, besides the islands of
Arran. Her first husband was Donnell O'Flaherty. His belligerent
propensities could scarcely have been less than hers, for he is termed Aith Chogaid, or "of the wars." Her second husband, Sir Richard Burke,
or Richard an Iarainn, is described by the Four Masters as a
"plundering, warlike, unjust, and rebellious man." He obtained his
soubriquet from the circumstance of constantly appearing in armour. It
would appear from this account that Sidney's statement of the Lady Grana
being "more than master's-mate with him," must be taken with some
limitations, unless, indeed, he who ruled his foes abroad, failed to
rule his wife at home, which is quite possible. The subjoined
illustration represents the remains of one of her castles. It is
situated near the lake of Borrishoole, in the county Mayo. The ruins are
very striking, and evince its having once been an erection of
considerable strength.



Sir William Drury was made Lord President of Munster, 1576, in place of
Sir John Perrot. Sir Nicholas Malby was installed in the same office in
Connaught; but the barbarities enacted by his predecessor, Fitton, made
the very name of president so odious, that Sidney gave the new Governor
the title of Colonel of Connaught. The Earl of Desmond and Drury were
soon at variance. Sidney says, in his Memoir, that the Earl "was still
repyning at the government of Drury." After causing great apprehension
to the governors, the Lord Deputy sent the whole party to Kilkenny, and
found the "Earl hot, wilful, and stubborn; but not long after, as you
know, he and his two brothers, Sir John and Sir James, fell into actual
rebellion, in which the good knight, Sir William Drury, the Lord
Justice, died, and he, as a malicious and unnatural rebel, still
persisteth and liveth."

In 1577 serious complications were threatened, in consequence of the
pecuniary difficulties of the crown. An occasional subsidy had been
granted hitherto for the support of the Government and the army; an
attempt was now made to convert this subsidy into a tax. On previous
occasions there had been some show of justice, however little reality,
by permitting the Parliament to pass the grant; a scheme was now
proposed to empower the Lord Deputy to levy assessments by royal
authority, without any reference to Parliament. For the first time the
Pale opposed the Government, and resisted the innovation. But their
opposition was speedily and effectually silenced. The deputies whom they
sent to London to remonstrate were committed to the Tower, and orders
were despatched to Ireland that all who had signed the remonstrance
should be consigned to Dublin Castle.

It is said that Elizabeth was not without some misgivings as to the
injustice with which her Irish subjects were treated, and that she was
once so touched by the picture presented to her of their sufferings
under such exactions, that she exclaimed: "Ah, how I fear lest it be
objected to us, as it was to Tiberius by Bato, concerning the Dalmatian
commotions! You it is that are in fault, who have committed your flocks,
not to shepherds, but to wolves." Nevertheless, the "wolves" were still
permitted to plunder; and any impression made on the royal feelings
probably evaporated under the fascinating influence of her next
interview with Leicester, and the indignation excited by a "rebel" who
refused to resign his ancestral home quietly to some penniless
adventurer. There had been serious difficulties in England in 1462, in
consequence of the shameful state of the current coin; and the Queen has
received considerable praise for having accomplished a reform. But the
idea, and the execution of the idea, originated with her incomparable
minister, Cecil, whose master-mind applied itself with equal facility to
every state subject, however trifling or however important; and the loss
and expenditure which the undertaking involved, was borne by the country
to the last penny. Mr. Froude says it was proposed that the "worst money
might be sent to Ireland, as the general dust-heap for the outcasting of
England's vileness."[440] The standard for Ireland had always been under
that of England, but the base proposal above-mentioned was happily not
carried into execution. Still there were enough causes of misery in
Ireland apart from its normal grievances. The Earl of Desmond wrote an
elaborate and well-digested appeal to Lord Burleigh, complaining of
military abuses, and assuring his Lordship that if he had "sene them
[the poor who were burdened with cess], he would rather give them
charitable alms than burden them with any kind of chardge." He mentions
specially the cruelty of compelling a poor man to carry for five, eight,
or ten miles, on his back, as many sheaves as the "horse-boies" choose
to demand of him; and if he goes not a "good pace, though the poor soule
be overburdened, he is all the waye beaten outt of all measure."

Cess was also commanded to be delivered at the "Queen's price," which
was considerably lower than the market price. Even Sidney was supposed
to be too lenient in his exactions; but eventually a composition of
seven years' purveyance, payable by instalments, was agreed upon, and
the question was set at rest. The Queen and the English Council
naturally feared to alienate the few nobles who were friendly to them,
as well as the inhabitants of the Pale, who were as a majority in their

The Pale was kept in considerable alarm at this period, by the exploits
of the famous outlaw, Rory Oge O'More. In 1577 he stole into Naas with
his followers, and set the town on fire; after this exploit he retired,
without taking any lives. He continued these depredations for eighteen
years. In 1571 he was killed by one of MacGillapatrick's men, and the
Pale was relieved from a most formidable source of annoyance. But the
same year in which this brave outlaw terminated his career, is
signalized by one of the most fearful acts of bloodshed and treachery on
record. The heads of the Irish families of Offaly and Leix, whose
extirpation had long been attempted unsuccessfully, were invited in the
Queen's name, and under the Queen's protection, to attend a conference
at the great rath on the hill of Mullach-Maistean (Mullamast). As soon
as they had all assembled, they were surrounded by a treble line of the
Queen's garrison soldiers, and butchered to a man in cold blood.

This massacre was performed with the knowledge and approval of the
Deputy, Sir Henry Sidney. The soldiers who accomplished the bloody work
were commanded by Captain Francis Crosby, to whom the chief command of
all the kerne in the Queen's pay was committed. We have already related
some incidents in his career, which show how completely destitute he was
of the slightest spark of humanity.[441]

Sir Henry Sidney retired from office finally on the 26th of May, 1578.
He dates his Memoir from "Ludlow Castell, with more payne than harte,
the 1st of March, 1582." In this document he complains bitterly of the
neglect of his services by Government, and bemoans his losses in piteous
strains. He describes himself as "fifty-four yeres of age, toothlesse
and trembling, being five thousand pounds in debt." He says he shall
leave his sons £20,000 worse off than his father left him. In one place
he complains that he had not as much ground as would "feede a mutton,"

and he evidently considers his services were worth an ampler
remuneration; for he declares: "I would to God the country was yet as
well as I lefte it almost fyve yeres agoe." If he did not succeed in
obtaining a large grant for his services, it certainly was not for want
of asking it; and if he did not succeed in pacifying the country, it was
not for lack of summary measures. Even in his postscript he mentions how
he hanged a captain of Scots, and he thinks "very nere twenty of his

It seems almost needless to add anything to the official descriptions of
Ireland, which have already been given in such detail; but as any remark
from the poet Spenser has a special interest, I shall give some brief
account of his View of Ireland. The work which bears this name is
written with considerable prejudice, and abounds in misstatements. Like
all settlers, he was utterly disgusted with the hardships he endured,
though the poet's eye could not refuse its meed of admiration to the
country in which they were suffered. His description of the miseries of
the native Irish can scarcely be surpassed, and his description of the
poverty of the country is epitomized in the well-known lines:—

"Was never so great waste in any place,

Nor so foul outrage done by living men;
For all the cities they shall sack and raze,
And the green grass that groweth they shall burn,
That even the wild beast shall die in starved den."[442]

Yet this misery never touched his heart; for the remedy he proposes
poses for Irish sufferings is to increase them, if possible, a
thousandfold; and he would have troops employed to "tread down all
before them, and lay on the ground all the stiff-necked people of the
land." And this he would have done in winter, with a refinement of
cruelty, that the bitter air may freeze up the half-naked peasant, that
he may have no shelter from the bare trees, and that he may be deprived
of all sustenance by the chasing and driving of his cows.

It is probable that Spenser's "view" of Irish affairs was considerably
embittered by his own sufferings there. He received his property on the
condition of residence, and settled himself at Kilcolman Castle. Here he
spent four years, and wrote the three first books of the Faerie
. He went to London with Sir Walter Raleigh to get them
published. On his return he married a country girl, named Elizabeth—an
act which was a disgrace to himself, if the Irish were what he described
them to be. In 1598, during Tyrone's insurrection, his estate was
plundered, his castle burned, and his youngest child perished in the
flames. He then fled to London, where he died a year after in extreme

His description of the condition of the Protestant Church coincides with
the official account of Sidney. He describes the clergy as "generally
bad, licentious, and most disordered;" and he adds: "Whatever disorders[443] you see in the Church of England, you may find in
Ireland, and many more, namely, gross simony, greedy covetousness,
incontinence, and careless sloth." And then he contrasts the zeal of the
Catholic clergy with the indifference of "the ministers of the Gospel,"
who, he says, only take the tithes and offerings, and gather what fruit
else they may of their livings.