Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

of the Irish in the libels of Giraldus Cambrensis, Sydney, or in the early writings of Hooker. They were envenomed enemies

[ocr errors]

16 This people, being uncerteine, craftie, and subtile, under colour of peace are woont alwaies to be studeing and deuising of mischiefs. *** This people is a craftie and a subtile people, and more to be feared when it is peace than when it is open warres; for their peace, indeed, is but enimitie, their policies but craft, their friendships but coloured."356

3“Surelie there was never people that lived in more miserie, then they do, nor, as it shulde seeme, of worse myndes; for matrimonie emongs them is no more regarded, in effect, then conjunction betwene unreason. able beastes. Perjurie, robberie, and murder,counted alloweable. Final lie, I cannot finde that they make any conscience of synne, and doubtlesse, I doubte whether they cristen their children or no; for neither finde I place where it shulde be don, nor any persone able to enstracte them in the rules of a Christian; or if they were taughte, I see no grace in them to follow it; and when they dye, I cannot see they make anny accompte of the worlde to com.”357

3“ And here you may see the nature and disposition of this wicked, effrenated, barbarous, and unfaithful nation, who, (as Cambrensis writeth of them,) are a wicked and perverse generation, constant in that they be always inconstant, faithful in that they be always unfaithful, trusty in that they be alwaystreacherous and untrusty. They do nothing but imagine mischief, and have no delight in any good thing. They are always working wickedness against the good, and such as be quiet in the land. Their mouths are full of unrighteousness, and their tongues speak nothing but curses. Their feet are swift to shed blood, and their hands imbrued in the blood of innocents. The ways of peace they know not, and in the paths of righteousness they walk not. God is not known in their land; neither is his name called rightly upon among them: their queen and sovereign they obey not; and her government they allow not: but as much as in them lieth, do resist her imperial crown and dignity. It was not much above a year past, that captain Gilbert with the sword so persecuted liiem, and in justice so executed them, that then they in all humbleness submitted themselves, craved pardon, and swore to be for ever true and obedient; for such a perverse nature they are of, that they will be no longer honest and obedient, than that they cannot be suffered to be rebels. Such is their stubbornness and pride, that with a continual fear it must be bridled; and such is the hardness of their hearts, that with the rod it must still be chastised and subdued; for no longer fear, no longer obedience; and no longer than they be ruled with severity, no longer will they be dutiful and in subjection; but will be, as they were before, false, truce-breakers, and traitorous. Being not much unlike to mer. cury, called quicksilver, which let it by art be ne'er so much altered and transposed, yea and with fire consumed to ashes; yet let it but rest awhile untouched, nor meddled with, it will return again to its own nature, and be the same as it was at the first: and even so, daily

36 Giraldus Cambrensis, apud Hollinshed, VI. 231. 357 Sydney, I. 24.

of the Irish, and dipped their pens in the bitterest gall, to depict Ireland and Irishmen in the most revolting colours. But had the Irish really deserved the character those writers have drawn, it would not be very extraordinary. The characters of nations are moulded by the nature and operations of the government under which they live and the Irish having for centuries groaned under one of the worst governments that can be conceived, it must necessarily have tended to deteriorate their national character.

But here the slanderers, who give such hideous accounts of the Irish may be met on the very threshold ; and the seal of falsehood stamped on their foreheads in the most legible characters. The evidence is such as no man living will dare dispute. It is not derived from O'Sullivan, O'Connor, O'Halloran, or Curry. To these writers, objections of partiality would be made, by those prejudiced men who delight in every thing, however gross, however unjust, that defames or destroys the Irish character. The appeal is to Patrick Finglass, Esq. chief baron of the exchequer, under Henry VIII; to Coke, the author of the Institutes ; and to sir John Davies, king James's attor

; ney general in Ireland.

Baron Finglass places the Irish character on far higher ground than that of the English, so far as respects submission to law and justice:

“ It is a great abusion and reproach, that the laws and statuts made in this lond are not observed ne kept, after the making of theme, eight days; which matter is oone of the distructions of Englishmen of this lond: and divers Irishmen doth observe and kepe such laws and statuts, which they make upon hills in their country, firm and stable, without breaking them for any favour or reward."358

Edward Coke delivers his opinion of the Irish, in a high and encomiastic style of commendation:

“ I have been informed by many of those that have had judicial places there, and [know] partly of my own knowledge, that THERE IS NO NATION OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD THAT ARE GREATER LOVERS OF JUSTICE than they are ; which virtue must of course be accompanied by many others."859

In pourtraying the Irish character, sir John Davies displays great candour, and is likewise highly encomiastic:

“ They will gladly continue in this condition of subjects, without defection, or adhering to any other lord or king, as long as they may be protected and justly governed, without oppression on the one side, 'or impunity on the other. For THERE IS NO NATION OF PEO

eos experience teacheth it to be true, in these people. For withdraw the sword, and forbear correction, deal with them in courtesie, and intreat them gently, if they can take any advantage, they will surely skip out; and as the dog to his vomit, and the sow to the dirt and puddle, they will return to their old and former insolence, rebellion, and disobedience.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

358 Hibernica, 51.

369 Coke, IV. 349. 300 Hooker, apud Hollinshed, VI. 369.

soever."262

:

PLE UNDER THE SUN THAT DOTH LOVE EQUAL AND INDIFFERENT JUSTICE BETTER THAN THE IRISH; or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves; so that they may have the protection and benefit of the law, when upon just cause they do desire it.”361

$ I dare affirm, that in the space of five years last past, there have not been found so many malefactors worthy of death, in all the six circuits of this realm, which is now divided into thirty-two shires at large, as in one circuit of six shires, namely, the western circuit in England. For the truth is, that, in time of peace, the Irish are more fearful to offend the law than the English, or any other nation what

Yet this is the nation which, I repeat, the miserable herd of scribblers who have undertaken its history, have stigmatized, as barba rous, savage, and wild.

The character drawn by these three writers, is true or false. But it cannot be false : for no rational man could for a moment suppose that these three great public officers of the crown of England could conspire in uttering falsehoods to flatter the Irish, the Helots of Eng. land; and if it be true, as it must be, then is it clear that the aspersions cast on the Irish character by the other English writers of former times are entirely destitute of foundation.

“ The Irish of themselves were a people peaceable, harmless, and affable to strangers, and in themselves, and to all, pious and good, whilst they retain’d the religion of their forefathers.

In addition to these testimonies, I adduce that of Hooker himself, whose description of the Irish, supra, page 166, would exactly suit the New Zealanders, or any other of the most barbarous tribes of savages. He subsequently, that is, immediately after the close of the adininistration of sir John Perrot, draws a character of the Irish, diametrically opposite to the one already quoted. In the more recent one, they appear to very great advantage, and would stand

comparison with any cotemporaneous nation.

“ Whereas no man before could passe through the countrie, but was in danger to be murdered and robbed, and no man durst to turn his cattell into the fields without watch, and to keepe them in barnes in the night time: now everie man with a white sticke onelie in his hands, and with great treasures might and did travell without feare or danger where he would, (as the writer hereof by triall knew it to be true,) and the white sheepe did keepe the blacke, and all the beastes laie continuallie in the fields, without any stealing or preieng."864

Both characters cannot be true. If the Irish merited the extravagant vituperation lavished on them in the first instance, they could not possibly deserve the encomiums in the second. The conversions of nations, like those of individuals, never were and never can be so very rapid. Perrot, though a severe and even rigorous governor, and guilty of the trick of kidnapping O'Donnel," was generally just

nd upright and was actuated by honest views. He was among the best of the deputies that ruled the country. If his administration,

[ocr errors]

а

361 Davies, 213. 362 Idem, 200.
364 Hooker, apud Hollivshed, VI. 370.

363 Borlase, 14.
See supra page 132.

which continued only a very few years, produced so great a reformation, (admitting that the former statements of Hooker, although in a great measure caricatures, had some degree of foundation,) it proves two points beyond question, that is, the facility with which the Irish were rendered amenable to law and order and the execrable nature of the preceding administrations which blasted the happiness of such a nation.

The character drawn of the Irish by Stanihurst, who flourished anno 1600, although of a very compound nature, as, in truth, all genuine characters of nations or individuals must be, is on the whole honourable to the nation, and reflects credit on the author for his candour and powers of discrimination.

“ The people are thus inclined, religious, franke, amorous, irefull, sufferable of infinit paines, verie glorious, manie sorcerers, excellent horsemen, delighted with wars, great almsgiuers, passing in hospitalitie. The lewder sort, both clearkes and laie men, are sensuall, and ouer loose in liuing. The same being vertuouslie bred up or reformed, are such mirrors of holiness and austeritie, that other nations reteine but a shadow of deuotion in comparaison of them. As for abstinence and fasting, it is to them a familiar kind of chastisement.”365

Greedie of praise they be, and fearefull of dishonour, and to this end they esteeme their poets, who write Irish learnedlie, and pen their sonets heroicall, for the which they are bountifullie rewarded;if not, they send out libels in dispraise, whereof the lords and gentlemen stand in great awe. They loue tenderlie their foster children, and bequeath to them a childes portion, whereby they nourish sure friendship. So beneficiall euerie waie, that commonlie fiue hundred cowes and better are giuen in reward to win a noblemans child to foster; they loue and trust their foster brethren more than their owne."866

Stanihurst carries the point very far in regard to the fidelity between foster-brethren. “You cannot (says he) find one instance of perfidy, deceit, or treachery among them; nay, they are ready to expose themselves to all manner of dangers for the safety of those who sucked their mother's milk, you may beat them to a mummy, you may put them upon the rack, you may burn them on a gridiron, you may expose them to the most exquisite tortures that the cruellest tyrant can invent, yet you will never remove them from that innate fidelity, which is grafted in them; you will never induce them to betray their duty,"367

A candid review of history will prove, the Irish of those days were far less barbarous than the English. The latter carried on their border wars against the Scotch with a ruthless and infernal ferocity, barbarity and desolation, that will stand a comparison with the so-muchdetested ravages of the Huns, Goths, and Vandals. Fire and sword cleared their path of every thing animate or inanimate, that fell in their way. Neither age, sex, nor condition escaped. To reinove all doubt on the subject, I submit a specimen of a five days' inroad into Scotland, by the earl of Sussex.

*s Stanihurst, apud Hollinshed, VI. 67.

366 Ibid.

367 Ware, II. 73.

A Note of a Journey into Tividale, by the earl of Sussex, her ma

jesty's lieutenant in the north, begun the 17th of April, 1570, and ending the 22d of the same.

“ The 17th of April, 1570, the earl of Sussex, and the lord Hunsdon, governor of Berwick, with all the garrisons, and power of the east marches, came to Warke, and entered into Tividale in Scotland the 18th, at the break of day, and burnt all the castles and towns as they went, until they came to the castle of Moss, standing in a strong marsh, and belonging to the lord of Fernhurst, which they burnt and razed, and so burnt the country until they came to Craling.

“ The same day, sir John Foster, with all the garrisons and force of the middle marches, entered into Tividale and Expesgate Head, sixteen miles from Warke, and so burnt all the country, until they came to a strong castle, in the possession of the mother of lord Fernhurst, which he burnt and razed; and so burnt all the other castles and towns, until he came to Craling, where both companies met, and so went up the river of Tivit, and burnt and threw down all the castles and towns upon that river, until they came to Jedworth, where they lodged this day.

• The 19th, the army was divided into two parts, whereof the one did

pass the river of Tivit, and burnt and razed the castle of Fernhurst, and all other castles and towns of the lord of Fernhurst, Hunthill, and Bederoll, and passed on to Minte: and the other part of the army burnt in like sort on the other side of the river Tivit, until he came to Hawick.

“ The 20th, the army went to Branshaw, the lord of Bucklough's house, which was wholly overthrown with powder; and there divided and burnt, on the north of the river of Tivit, more into the inland, all the castles and towns in that country.

“ The 21st, the army was divided, and one part went to the river of Bowbeat, and burnt all on both sides of that river, and the other part went to the river of Caile, and burnt all on both sides of the river; ALL WHICH TIME THERE WAS NEVER ANY SHOW OF RESISTAnce!!!

“And it is conceived by such as know the enemy's part of Tividale, that there are razed, overthrown, and burnt, in this journey, ABOVE FIFTY STRONG CASTLES AND PILES, AND ABOVE THREE HUNDRED VILLAGES.”368

It may be fairly questioned, whether a band of demons, escaped from the regions of Lucifer, could, with their utmost activity, in five days, have perpetrated more devastation than my lord Sussex and his garrisons had the pleasure of accomplishing, upon the unresisting Scotchmen, in that space of time. The merit is enhanced ten-fold, by the circumstance that it was executed on an unresisting enemy; and this forms the proudest wreath of the laurel crown that entwined the brow of the mighty hero! He ran no risk of his own precious life, nor of those of his merciful and heroic followers. To spare the lives of his soldiers, is the first duty of a general. That nothing in human form ever exceeded the horrors of this exploit, within the time it oc

368 Cabala, 174.

« ForrigeFortsæt »