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demand from him a strict account of what he had done and what he meant to do.
He in the meantime, having (as I said) for some reason or other resolved to prove to Tyrone that he was not afraid of coming within sight of him, though at the cost of proving that he durst do no more, had taken his usual precaution against interference. Without waiting for the effect of his last intelligence, he made his preparations, and within a week was on his march to fulfil his promise of “looking on yonder proud rebel ;" having meanwhile merely sent word to England that he could not spare for the service more than 2500 men. On the 3rd of September he did look upon him ; saw him, with a force twice as large as his own, on a hill a mile and a half off, across a river and a wood; and drew up his own army on the opposite hill; next day marched along the plain, Tyrone marching parallel but keeping the woods; then halting for supplies, took counsel; was advised by all not to “attempt trenches” with a force so inadequate, but to content himself with placing a strong garrison in some castle thereabouts, and “ since they were there," to draw out one day and offer battle;' on the 5th refused an invitation to parley; on the 6th drew out and offered battle on the first great hill he came to, then on the next and the next till he came to the hill nearest the wnod; there waited: in vain : Tyrone would not charge up hill (indeed why should he fight at all ? had he not by simply staying where he was already in effect defeated the greatest army ever seen in Ireland ?), but wanted to speak with him: on the 7th accepted an invitation to parley: met the proud rebel at a ford; talked with him privately for half an hour; and finding him reluctant to state upon what conditions he would return to obedience, for fear they should be sent into Spain (!), “was fain to give his word that he would only verbally deliver them;""? on that condition heard them; next day concluded a truce with him for six weeks, continuable by periods of six weeks till May-day, and not to be broken without a fortnight's warning; for the performance of the covenants received Tyrone's oath in exchange for his own word; on the 9th “ dispersed his army; and went bimself to take physic at Drogheda, while Tyrone retired with all his forces into the heart of his country.”
Such then was the sum of Essex's achievement. He had not weakened Tyrone by hurting a man or occupying a place of strength or
| Journal, printed in ‘Nugæ Antiquæ,' i. 296.
obtaining an advantage anywhere north of Dublin. But he had heard him “ open his heart” — learned “where the knot was which being loosed he protested all the rest should follow;" and in the meantime had gained from him a promise upon his oath not to renew hostilities without giving a fortnight's notice.
What more he hoped to effect by negotiation afterwards, or what success he might have had, we cannot judge ; for Tyrone's promises were not to be committed to paper, and after this he was not himself allowed to do what he pleased. But it is important to observe that up to this point all he had done was both in design and execution his own doing. For though many of his proceedings had been disapproved, he had so contrived that not one of them could be prevented. There is no dispute about any of the facts which I have related; for I have confined myself to such as were then known and were never contradicted. Those which came out afterwards (when his later actions leading to more diligent inquiry suggested an interpretation of these which had not yet been suspected) will be more conveniently noticed hereafter. It is enough here to remark that the story as it stands is strange—that the course he has taken requires explanation, and is not at all explained by the admitted facts of the case compared with the avowed objects of the campaign. For though I should myself be inclined to make a good deal of allowance for him on the ground of natural incapacity-incapacity to resist the impulse of the moment—and could almost believe that his campaign in Munster was made in good faith, each successive move being suggested by the hope of gaining some prize or the necessity of avoiding some danger near at hand, without due consideration of the main issue ; and that the exhaustion of his forces before the proper business of the campaign had begun really came upon him as a surprise ; yet when I consider the avowed purposes with which he set out, and his reputation as a commander not only with the Government but with the captains of his army (who do not usually like an incompetent General); and especially when I read his own letters, which while they complain so piteously of his hard condition in not receiving public and private demonstrations of confidence, show no trace of dissatisfaction with himself or his own proceedings; I certainly find it hard to believe that an effectual attack upon the stronghold of the rebellion in the North was ever seriously intended by him. He did indeed admit afterwards, and by implication, that the Munster journey was an error; for he excused it as undertaken by advice of the Irish Council against his own judgment. But did he oppose it at the time? I think not. He was not usually so submissive to Councils, and if he
1 Essex's own statement. See further on, p. 155.
had seriously disapproved of the postponement of the northern action and told the Queen so, there can be little doubt that the advice of the Irish Council would have been overruled and he would have been instructed to proceed. If on the other hand he assented to their advice upon the grounds by them alleged, he was merely postponing the main service for a month or two, in order that it might be prosecuted more effectually in June or July; and if he found himself then, from whatever cause, without the means of doing anything, he must at least have felt that a fatal error had been committed,—that he stood responsible for nothing less than the utter failure of the whole year's work; and must have been anxious to explain how this happened. The conclusion of such a truce, under such circumstances, he could not possibly regard as anything less than an acknowledgment of defeat. Nobody had ever found any difficulty in bringing Tyrone to terms of truce, nor had any truce ever been concluded with him on terms so much to his advantage. In April, when sixteen thousand men were ready to take the field, the offer of such terms, though impolitic, would have passed for lenity on the part of the government: for the alternative would have seemed to be war, with the chances of success all on that side. But in September, when it was evident that no offensive movement could be attempted, the acceptance of them was an act of moderation on the part of Tyrone. The power of England had been put forth in a great effort, had not succeeded even in distressing him, and did not now dare to attack him, and yet he was content to make the truce. Is it conceivable that a man like Essex, if he really left England in April with an intention to put an end to the rebellion and “ achieve something worthy of her Majesty's honour," would in September have condescended to such a conclusion without a sense of humiliation and an acknowledgment of failure ?
It is true that in his real designs, whatever they may have been, he succeeded no better. But any disappointment on that score (supposing those designs to have been such as he could not avow) he would of course keep to himself. He expected, no doubt, to be in a very different position from that in which he found himself. A triumphant progress through the south of Ireland, with the rebels everywhere submitting, the army flushed with success and passionately devoted to their favourite General, all Munster reclaimed to obedience, victory setting on his helm and swift unbespoken pomps attending his steps, -results which he may easily have dreamed of,-would have made him a dangerous man to contradict, and put his enemies under his feet; all the more if the head of rebellion in the North had still to be broken ; for in that case he must have been the man to do it, and must have had another army to do it with. We shall see hereafter
what sort of power in the state he thought it for the good of the kingdom that he should possess. We know that he was all this time in an angry humour of discontent, and swelling with undigested mortifications. And to me it seems not improbable that to place himself in this position was his first object in undertaking the service, to subdue the rebellion his second; and that he had persuaded himself to regard the one as a necessary step to the other.
Upon this supposition, his course is at least intelligible. Upon this supposition I can understand why he objected to the appointment of Lord Montjoy and forced the service upon himself; why in England he insisted so earnestly upon the necessity of making a real end of the war, and in Ireland yielded so readily to all propositions for postponing it; why he made a point of taking so large a force and being trusted with such unlimited power, and filling the places of importance with such men as Blount and Southampton ; why he hurried his army as fast and as far as he could away from the proper scene of action and out of reach of instructions; why in his dispatches he never explained his plan of operations, but sent home only meagre journals of each day's proceeding; why he arranged all bis movements so that the government had no means of checking him; why after he knew and even avowed that his men were unfit for the northern action, he continued to talk so confidently of proceeding with it; why having postponed it till it was too late, he insisted on making a demonstration of it when it was too late, and having at the end of August declined to give it up because nothing could be done, was content to end it on the 8th of September without attempting to do anything; and lastly, why from the beginning to the end of this miserable business he maintained the tone of a much injured man, doing all that mortal could, and never failing in anything unless through the fault of his employers in not trusting, encouraging, and applauding him. In spite of appearances he must still be believed to be the only man who could bring Ireland to obedience; for through this it was that he looked to right himself against his enemies. And to make people believe this as things now stood, his best chance was to assert it confidently. Those who think him incapable of a false pretence and only unlucky and ill-used, must reconcile these facts with their theory as they best may; a thing which I have never seen attempted. For my own part I can find no point of view from which the true history of his proceedings does not seem incredible, except upon the supposi . tion that he was playing a double game of some kind. That he had not played it skilfully is not surprising, for his virtues as well as his faults stood in his way; and from this time it became still more difficult. The pause which followed the truce gave the Queen an oppor
tunity at last of putting in her own word with effect. Hitherto he has been managing in his own way a business of his own undertaking : he now finds himself in a position for which he was not prepared, and must manage as he can.
A month before, when the Queen heard of the second postponement of the Ulster expedition, she had forbidden him (not knowing what in his then temper he might do next) to leave Ireland without her express warrant. When she heard in the beginning of September that, though he had received the reinforcements which he required for that service, he meant after all to go no further than the frontiers and with a force avowedly too weak to do any good, she peated that prohibition ; recited in terms of strong and just remonstrance the history of his professions and performances; and since it appeared by his own words that nothing could be done this year against Tyrone and O'Donnel, commanded him and the Council to fall into present deliberation and send over in writing a true declaration of the state into which they had brought the kingdom; what effect this journey had produced, and in what kind of war, where, and in what numbers, they thought the remainder of the year should be employed; and then to wait for directions. But Essex was now in a hurry. Her letter to this effect had scarcely been written, when another messenger arrived with news of the conference with Tyrone and the appointment of Commissioners to treat with him. This intelligence (accompanied with an assurance that nothing would be concluded till her pleasure were known, but without any particulars either of the conference or the commission) reached the Court on the 16th of September; and on the 17th the messenger was sent back with her reply. Since he had not told her what passed on either side at the conference, or what the Commissioners had in charge, she did not know what conjecture to make of the issue: but whatever the conditions might be, if oaths and pledges from Tyrone were to be the only security for performance, what would they avail ?
“Unless he yield to have garrisons planted in his own country to master him,--to deliver Oneal's sons, whereof the detaining is most dishonourable, and to come over to us personally here,—we shall doubt you do but piece up a bollow
peace and so the end prove worse than the beginning. And therefore, as we do well approve your own voluntary profession, wherein you assure us that you will conclude nothing till you have advertised us and heard our pleasure, so do we absolutely command you to continue and perform that resolution. Pass not your word for his pardon, nor make any absolute contract for his conditions, till you do particularly advise us