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of government he drew up for Ireland, addressed and recommended to Queen Elizabeth.
" That all brehons, carraghes, bardes, and rymers, that infect the people, friars, monks, Jesuites, pardoners, nunns, and such like, that openly seeke the maintenance of papacy, a traytorous kinde of people, the bellowes to blow the coales of all mischiefe and rebellion, and fit spies of antichrist, whose kingdom they greedily expect to be restored, be executed by marshal law, and their favourers and maintainers by due course of law, to be tryed and executed as in cases of treason."293
Duly to estimate the ruthless barbarity which dictated this sanguinary plan, it would be necessary to ascertain the number of the victims thus devoted to destruction. It is not at all improbable that the bards, monks, friars, nuns, Jesuits, &c. &c. amounted to several thousands, who were thus, " at one fell swoop,” to be hurled into eternity, by “marshal law.” The recommendation is given with as much calmness and indifference, as if the question were about the extermination of a race of foxes and wolves.
292 Perrot, xxiv.
Freful scenes of misery and wretchedness. Dreadful famine. Human
earcasses devoured. Spenser's project of exterminating the natives by famine and pestilence.
“ Famine so fierce, that what's deny'd man's use,
“ Death, like a lazy master, stands aloof,
THE preceding chapter presents a heart-rending view of the barbarous system of warfare pursued against the Irish, and their dreadful sufferings during its continuance. I have reserved for the present very brief one, a sketch of the awful consequences of that system. Tremendous as were the former, they were incomparably exceeded by the latter. The world has never witnessed-nor indeed is it possible to conceive of more intense wretchedness and misery than were endured in Ireland, when furious War, wearied with slaughter, gave place to what was called peace, particularly in Munster, after the Desmond war. To what a horrible extent must human suffering have gone, when, to appease the ravenous calls of hunger, a wretched people were driven to the dire necessity of feeding on grass and other herbage-when, worse, far worse, they devoured horses, dogs, dead carrion, and even human carcasses and, to cap the climax, when they lay in wait for and murdered children, to prolong their wretched existence!
Surely, if there be “a chosen curse in the stores of heaven to blast” preeminent wickedness, it must fall “ with uncommon wrath" on the wretches who produced such a hideous state of things.
It will be acknowledged, on a perusal of the preceding pages, that human nature never appeared under a more hideous aspect-no where did it approach nearer to the demoniac. Exulting fiends might regard with rapture the prowess of the Greys, the Mountjoys, the Wilmots, the St. Legers, &c. who fully proved themselves worthy of adoption among the tenants of Pandemonium. If any thing could enhance our abhorrence of these atrocious deeds, it would be the consideration of the pretexts on which those exterminating wars were declared, which, in nine cases out of ten, were of the most miserable and insignificant character. In almost every instance, moreover, the officers of the Irish government were obviously the wanton aggressors, and goaded the wretched Irish into a resistance, which was visited with such horrible chastisement.
“Because I have often made mention formerly, of our destroying the rebels corn, and using all means to famish them, let me now by two or three examples, shew the miserable estate to which they were thereby reduced.
“Some old women abaut the Newry, used to make a fire in the fields, and divers little children driving out the cattle in the cold
mornings, and coming thither to warm themselves, were by these women surprized, killed, and eaten ; which was at last discovered by a great girl, breaking from them by the strength of her body; and captain Trevor sending out soldiers to know the truth, they found the childrens' sculls and bones, and apprehended the old women, who were executed for the fact. No spectacle was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and especially in wasted countries, than to see multitudes of these poor people dead, with their mouths all coloured green by eating nettles, docks, and all things they could rend up above ground.293
“ The miseries which the wretched Irish endured, from the vicinity of the royal forces, which prevented them from seeking any means of subsistence, were afflicting to the humanity even of their enemies. Thousands perished by famine ; and every road and district was encumbered by their unburied carcasses. The hideous resources sought for allaying the rage of hunger, were more terrible even than such desolation."294
- They performed that service effectually, and brought the rebels to so low a condition, that they saw three children eating the entrails of their dead mother, upon whose flesh they had fed twenty days, and roasted it by a slow fire; and it was manifest, that some older people had been in that starving condition, that they murdered and eat children for a long time together, and were at last discovered and executed for that barbarity. In short, the famine of Jerusalem did not exceed that amongst the rebels of Ireland. 295
“ And as for the great companies of soldiers, gallowglasses, kerne, and the common people, who followed this rebellion, the numbers of them are infinite, whose bloods the earth drank up, and whose carcasses the fouls of the air and the ravening beasts oj" the field did consume and devour. After this followed an extreme famine: and such whom the sword did not destroy, the same did consume and eat out; tery few or none remaining alive, excepting such as were fled over into England: and yet the store in the towns was far spent, and they in distress, albeit nothing like in comparison to them who lived at large; for they were not only driven to eat horses, dog's, and dead carrions ; but also did devour the carcasses of dead men, whereof there be sundry examples; namely, one in the county of Cork, where, when a malefactor was executed to death, and his body left upon the gallows, certain poor people secretly came, took him down, and did eat him; likewise in the bay of Smeereweeke, or St. Marieweeke, the place which was first seasoned with this rebellion, there happened to be a ship to be there lost, through foul weather, and all the men being drowned, were there cast on land.
“ The common people, who had a long time lived on limpets, orewads, and such shell-fish as they could find, and which were now spent; as soon as they saw these bodies, they took them up, and most greedily did eat and devoure them: and not long after, death and famine did eat and consume them. The land itselfe, which before those wars was populous, well inhabited, and rich in all the good blessings of God, being plenteous of corne, full of cattell, well stored with fish and sundrie other good commodities, is now become waste and barren, yielding no fruits, the pastures no cattell, the fields no
291 Moryson-apud Curry, 1.49.
294 Leland, II. 487.
295 Cox, 449.
corne, the aire no birds, the seas, (though full of fish,) yet to them yielding nothing, Finallie, every waie the curse of God was so great, and the land so barren both of man and beast, that whosoever did travell from the one end to the other of all Munster, even from Wa.' terford to the head of Smeerweeke, which is about six score miles, he would not meet anie man, woman or child, saving in townes and cities; nor yet see anie beast, but the very wolves, the foxes, and other like ravening beasts; many of them laie dead, being famished, and the residue gone elsewhere."296
“Suche horrible and lamentable spectacles there are to beholde, as the burninge of villages, the ruyn of churches, the wastinge of suche as have ben good townes and castells: yeu, the view of the bones and sculles of the ded subjectes, who partelie by murder, partelie by famyn, have died in the feelds, as, in troth, hardelie any Christian with drie eies could beholde."297
1567. “ Never sawe I a more waste and desolate lande, no, not in the confynes of other countries, where actuall warre hath contynuallie ben kepte, by the greatest princes of Christendomme, and there herde I suche lamentable cryes and dolefull complayntes, made by that small remayne of poor people which yet are lefte."žy8
Moryson, having stated that the submissions of the Irish were at length received, informs his reader, that it took place “partly out of human commiseration, having with our own eyes daily seen the lamentable state of the country, where we found every where men dead of famine.” He adds we have been credibly informed, that in the space of a few months, there were above three thousand starved in Tyrone."299
Although the facts contained in the following statement do not fall within the period embraced in the present division of this work, I am induced to give them a place here, in order to dismiss at once the details of the horrible sufferings of the Irish from the plan of extesmination so often adopted by the English armies.
“ About the years 1652 and 1653, the plague and famine had so swept away whole countries, that a man might travel twenty or thirty miles, and not see a living creature, either man, beast, or bird ; they being either all dead, or had quit those desolate places; our soldiers would tell stories of the place where they saw a smoak; it was so rare to see either smoak by day, or fire, or candle by night. And when we did meet with two or three poor cabins, none but very aged men, with women and children, and those, with the prophet, might have complained, (* we are become as a bottle in the smoak, our skin is black like an oven, because of the terrible famine;') I have seen those miserable creatures plucking stinking carrion out of a ditch, black and rotten, and been credibly informed that they digged corpse out of the grave to eat: but the most tragical story l'ever heard was from an officer commanding a party of horse, who, hunting for tories in a dark night, discovered a light, which they supposed to be a fire, which the tories usually made in those waste countries, to dress their provisions, and warm themselves; but drawing near, they found it a ruined cabin, and, besetting it round, some did alight, and peeping at the window, where they saw a great fire of wood, and a company of
296 Hollinshed, VI. 459. 297 Sydney, I. 24. 299 Moryson-apud Curry, I. 50.
miserable old women and children sitting round about it, and betwixt them and the fire, a dead corpse lay broiling, which as the fire roasted, they cut off collops, and eat!!!$300
The ferocity of soldiers hardened by a life of slaughter, and infuriated against their enemies on the field of battle, will admit of some degree of palliation. But what palliation can be offered for those who sit
down calmly and frame projects of extermination by famine, and its concomitant the plague ?" Their guilt is of infinitely deeper dye.
It is melancholy to relate, and stamps the character of Spenser, the poet, with indelible disgrace, that after having been an eye witness of the Desmond war, in which the sword, famine, and pestilence devoured so large a portion of the population of the south of Ireland, and produced scenes of misery sufficient to mollify the heart of a Herod or a Nero, he was ferocious enough to advise a recurrence to the destruction of the fruits of the earth, for the purpose of producing another famine, in order to force them, “ quietly to consume themselves, and devoure one another!"* It is difficult to believe that such a diabolical plan could have entered the heart of the poet, whose soothing and tender strains have been the admiration of readers of taste, for above two centuries. It affords full proof, that a man may write like an angel, and yet possess the heart of a demon.
>000000009 * He proposed that twenty days should be allowed for them to come in. “ Afterwards I would have none received, but left to their fortune and miserable end: my reason is, for that those which will afterwards semaine without, are stout and obstinate rebells, such as will never be made dutiful and obedient, nor brought to labour or civill conversation, having once tasted that licentious life, and being acquainted with spoyle and outrages, will ever after be ready for the like occasions, so as there is no hope of their amendment or recovery, and therefore needfull to be cut off.
“ The end will, (I assure me,) bee very short, and much sooner than it can be in so great a trouble, as it seemeth, hoped for, although there should none of them fall by the sword, nor bee slain by the souldiour: yet thus being kept from manurance, and their cattle from running abroad, by this hard restraint, they would quietly consume themselves, and devoure one another; the proofe whereof I saw sufficiently in these late warres of Munster; for notwithstanding that the same was a most rich and plentiful countrey, full of corn and cattle, that you would have thought they should have been able to stand long, yet in one yeare and a halfe they were brought to such wretchcdnesse, as that any stony heart would have rued the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glynnes they came creeping forth upon their handes, for their legges could not beare them; they looked like anatomies of death ; they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eate the dead carrions, happy where they could find them, yea, and one another soone after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrupe out of their graves; and if they found a plot of water-cresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for the time; yet not able long to continue therewithall; that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plexitiful country SUDDAINLY LEFT VOYDE OF MAN AND BEAST.99 300 Laurence, 86.
301 Spenser, 165.