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establishment;!-and all because one devoted dependant was not to
your men in an out ravelin to be lost, you be hardly afterwards able to defend the rampier."'3
All this, it will be observed, was on the way between London and Beaumaris, before he had arrived at the scene of action, and while his commission was not a fortnight old. And never surely was a formidable enterprise commenced in a humour so inauspicious; a humour which in a man personally brave and constitutionally sanguine is very hard to understand without supposing that he had something or other in his head besides the faithful performance of it.
Still harder is it without some such supposition to understand his proceedings after he did arrive at the scene of action. Whatever differences of opinion there had been in the Council, upon one point they were all agreed—that the attack was to be upon the heart and stronghold of the rebellion, and that measures were to be taken to keep the mastery when gained: a policy which no one had urged more vehemently than himself. On the 11th of April, when he was on the point of embarking, he had censured the “ drawing of the troops into idle miserable journeys, whereby he should find them unserviceable when he came," as a main error of the Irish Government, requiring his instant presence to correct. On the 15th he landed in Dublin, and called for a report of the state of the country. He found that the rebel forces amounted altogether to upwards of 18,000 foot and upwards of 2000 horse ; that nearly half of these were in Ulster, the northern extremity of the island, Tyrone's own country, from which the whole rebellion was nourished and spread : that in Leinster, the central province lying round the English pale, there were about 3000 : in Connaught, to the west, about as many more; and in Munster, the south-western extremity, most distant from the heart of the re
| Moryson, pp. 29, 30.
2 See Sir John Harington's letter to Mr. Combe :-"I must not forget nor cease to tell of her Majesty's good, wise, and gracious providings for us her captains and our soldiers,” etc.- Nug. Antiq. i. p. 260.
April 11. Lives of the Earls of Essex, p. 23.
bellion, and in which all the cities and port towns, almost all the castles, and many great lords and gentlemen still held for the Queen, -about 5000:1 also that Tyrone meant to make two several heads of rebellion, one in Ulster, and the other in Connaught. How then will he begin?
He proposed to begin with an attack on Tyrone in Ulster, But being advised by the Council to put it off till the middle of June or the beginning of July, when grass and forage would be more plentiful, cattle fatter, and means of conveyance more complete, he readily acquiesced; and as he acquiesced on this occasion without complaining of crosses and discouragements, I presume that he had no personal inclination the other way. Instead of a march towards Ulster then, a "present prosecution in Leinster, being the heart of the whole kingdom," was resolved on. This resolution having been forwarded to the Council in England on the 28th of April, and allowed by them on the 8th of May, on the 10th he set out-professedly to set on foot this "present prosecution in Leinster.” And if six weeks must pass before the main action could be attempted with advantage, it would certainly seem that they might have been well spent in recovering and making secure those parts which lay next to the seat of Government and within easy reach of all resources,-a work which might serve to exercise the army without wasting it. This however was not what he did, or attempted, or apparently ever intended, to do. He began it is true with a march through Leinster, for he had to march through it before he could get out of it. But he took his course straight for the borders of Munster. No sooner was he there than he sent word that he had been persuaded by the President of that province " for a few days to look into his government.” And thereupon, without waiting for instructions from either Council, he proceeded to march his troops up and down Munster,to the south as far as Clonmel on the southern border of Tipperary, then to the north-east as far Askeaton on the northern border of Limerick, then south again as far as Killmalloch; thence (the necessities of the army, now short of food and ammunition, obliging him to think of returning 3) south-east to Dungarvon, and so along the southern and eastern shores to Waterford, to Arklow, and back to Dublin ;--forcing his passage every where through the rebel skirmishers, who gave way before him and closed after him; taking and garrisoning here and there a stronghold; displaying much personal 1 Moryson, p. 32.
By the time his letter was received at Greenwich he was in Limerick. His intention however of going into Munster appears to have been known to Sir R. Cecil on the 23rd of May. See Winwood's Memorials, i. 40.
3 Sir James Ware's narrative. Birch, ii. p. 406.
activity and bravery,-a shining figure still in the eyes of the soldiers and probably in his own; welcomed with Latin orations and popular applause as he entered the principal towns; and writing plaintive letters home about ill-usage and discouragement;' but exhausting his troops, consuming his supplies, and getting nothing effectually done ;? -insomuch that when he returned to Dublin on the 3rd of July,– the season when it had been agreed that the great business of the campaign was to begin,—though the grass had grown and cattle were in condition and the means of transport ready, the army (what with marches, skirmishes, garrisons, disease, and decimation) was more than half wasted away, and the remnant greatly discouraged.3
Still as in this matter at least he had taken his own way entirely, his only complaint being that the way he had taken was not better liked at home, to plead inability now to proceed with the appointed work, would have been to admit his own error. And therefore all disadvantages notwithstanding-disadvantages to whom attributable he does not say—he professed himself ready to undertake it. “Albeit the poor men that marched with me eight weeks together be very weary and unfit for any new journey, and besides the horsemen so divided that I cannot draw 300 to an head, yet as fast as I can call these troops together I will go look upon yonder proud rebel; and if I find him on hard ground and in an open country, though I should find him in horse and foot three for one, yet will I by God's grace dislodge him, or put the Council to the trouble of choosing a new Lord Justice." This was written on the 11th of July. So that if Tyrone should prove fool enough to quit his position of advantage and risk his cause in a battle on open ground, something might yet be done towards the accomplishment of the one object for which Essex had been sent out. He might be beaten back into his woods and bogs.
1 “But why do I talk of victory or success? Is it not known that from England I receive nothing but discomforts and soul's wounds? Is it not spoken of in the army that your Majesty's favour is diverted from me,” etc., and a page more of the like. Essex to the Queen. June 25.
2 “Neither in all that journey was anything done greatly worth speaking of, but the taking of Cathyre and one or two castles beside."-Sir J. Harington to Mr. Combe. Nug. Ant. p. 254.
3 " Towards the end of July (qu. June] his Lordship brought back his forces into Leinster, the soldiers being weary, sick, and uncredibly diminished in number ; and himself returned to Dublin. All that his Lordship had done in this journey, besides the scattering of the rebels' weak troops, was the taking of Cahir castle, and receiving the Lord of Cahir, the Lord Roche, and some others, into her Majesty's protection ; who after his departure did either openly fall again to the rebels' party, or secretly combine with them.”-Moryson, p. 37.
4 Birch, ii. 421.
This it seems was all : but even for this matters were not yet quite ripe. For the recommendation of the Irish Council to employ the interval in making things secure in Leinster having all this time been utterly neglected, it now appeared that there was work to be done there before the Ulster expedition could be commenced. So before the dispatch of the 11th of July could be answered, a second had arrived reporting disorders in Ophaly and Leix which Essex was going person to subdue. These do not seem to have been so formidable but that a second in command might have been trusted to deal with them, for they were easily suppressed, but they were enough to cause further delay and to reduce yet more the effective strength of the army: insomuch that the Earl now declared he could not go against Tyrone without a reinforcement of 2000 men. If he expected a denial, which might have served for an excuse, he was disappointed. A reinforcement of 2000 men from England had been sent in July, and he now received authority to levy 2000 Irish besides.2 And though the Irish Council began now to dissuade the enterprise altogether, he was resolved to proceed with it. But first, in order to divide Tyrone's forces he ordered Sir Conyers Clifford, Governor of Connaught, to make an attack or demonstration upon his western bor. ders-himself, the better perhaps to throw him off his guard on the south and east, remaining still in Dublin. What effect this might have had we cannot know; for at the end of the second day's march Sir Conyers’s whole force was, through some of the unaccountable accidents of war, repulsed in a pass by a party of rebels not above a third of their number, himself slain, and the expedition stopped.
By this time August was half spent, and Tyrone had not yet been so much as harassed or put on his defence. But now Essex was really determined to do something. It was time " to pull down the pride of the arch-traitor, to redeem the late scorn of the Curlews (the scene of Clifford's disaster), and hold up the reputation of the army."4 He must “revenge or follow worthy Conyers Clifford."5 Ulster was to be invaded at last. And now the Lords, Colonels, and Knights of
News of the success reached England on the 5th of August. Syd. Pap. ii. 113. 2 “Besides the supplies of two thousand arriving in July, he had authority to raise two thousand Irishmen, which he procured by his letters out of Ireland with pretence to further the northern journey."-Proceedings of the Earl of Essex. See further on. If the date July be correct, the two thousand from England must have been sent upon a previous requisition.
3 Ib. p. 132. See also R. Whyte's letter, 11th Aug. Syd. Pap. ii. p. 115. * Declaration of the Captains, etc., printed in the Lives of the Earls of Essex,'
5 Letter to the Queen. Ib. p. 56
the army were called into Council, to say “in what sort a present journey thither might be made.” Their answer was that “they could not with duty to her Majesty and safety of this kingdom advise or assent to the undertaking of any journey far north :" their reason being in substance this—that the effective strength of the army being now not more than 3500 or 4000 at the most, it would not be practicable to secure any of the objects of such a journey. This report, dated 21st of August, the Earl forwarded to England, -not however as a reason for abandoning the expedition altogether, but by way of preparation for the issue of it. For he still meant to "look upon” Tyrone, and give him the opportunity of having his pride pulled down, if he chose to accept it.
How it came that a two months' campaign in summer without any considerable action had reduced an army of 16,000, lately increased by 2000 more, to “ 4000 at the most," does not appear to have been explained. One explanation which suggested itself was that a large portion had been placed up and down the country in garrisons, in which case it might be forthcoming for other work, though not for this. And the whole story was so strange that the Queen began to suspect some underhand design, and to speak freely of Essex's proceedings as “ unfortunate, without judgment, contemptuous, and not without some private end of his own.” To Bacon among others she spoke in this strain : whereupon he, who as I have already observed was not without his own apprehensions on that head, and was extremely anxious to withdraw Essex from the means of mischief, took occasion to ask whether it would not be better to send for him and satisfy him with honour at home, and to have him at Court again “ with a white staff in his hand as my Lord of Leicester had;" for, said he, “ to discontent him as you do and yet to put arms and power into his hands may be a kind of temptation to make him prove cumbersome and unruly." This advice however-whether from fear to provoke him further, as Camden suggests, or because (as I think more likely) she had gone long enough on the plan of buying off his contumacies with rewards--she did not think fit to follow. She had already (30th July) forbidden him to leave his post without licence, and now (taking the precaution of putting the country under arms upon pretence of an apprehended attack from Spain“) she resolved to
1 “If he have as much courage as he pretendeth, we will on one side or the other end the war.”—Essex to the Council, Aug. 30. Lives, p. 68.
“For the small proportion you say you carry with you ... it is past comprehension ; except it be that you have left too great numbers in unnecessary garri. sons,” etc.—The Queen to Essex, 14th Sept.