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against Desmond, declined to undertake the investigation of a case thus prejudged, unless other commissioners were sent from England to assist him. His letter to Cecil is manly and memorable: “I assure you, sir, if I served under the cruellest tyrant that ever tyrannized, and knew him affected on the one side or the other side, between party and party, and referred to my judgment, I would rather offend his affection, and stand to his misericord, than offend my own conscience, and stand to God's judgment. Therefore, I beseech you, let me have others joined with me.” His request of additional commissioners was complied with. One of the points in controversy was the right to the profit of prize wines at. Youghal and Kingsale, which both earls claimed under grants from the crown. Another subject of litigation was the boundaries of their respective estates. In enforcing their respective demands, many outrages had taken place: seizures of cattle had been made, which in a peaceful state of society, and with courts of law competent to decide between the parties, might have been but a mode of asserting a right to property in the ground on which they pastured, but late acts of the Irish parliament had made such seizures punishable as treason; blood had been frequently shed in the violent altercations between the clansmen of the mighty rivals, and each had a long catalogue of inexpiable offences to charge against the other. Ormonde took the bold ground of defending the affray at Affane, by pleading that he had levied his forces for the defence of the country against Desmond; that having gone, at Sir Maurice Fitz-Gerald's request, into his country, and travelling quietly within a mile of Drumana, Sir Maurice's residence, the earl of Desmond, accompanied by numbers of proclaimed traitors and Irish rebels, set upon him, and that he was obliged, in self-defence, to kill several of Desmond's people. The commissioners sought to effect a reconciliation. The question of boundaries they determined in favour of Ormonde. A part of their award required the contending earls to shake hands, and they met for the purpose in the chapter-house of St Patrick's church, Dublin, where two centuries after, an aperture in the old oak door was still shown as cut on the occasion for the purpose of enabling them with safety to perform this part of the award, each fearing to be poignarded by the other.
A reconciliation such as this did not promise much for the future harmony of the newly-made friends. A year of quiet followed, and if depredations were committed, they have not been recorded by our authorities. The villages of Ormonde had to be rebuilt before they could be again burned; and the Abbè M'Geogeghan, the historian who most loves to dwell upon the exploits of Desmond and his followers, leads us to think it not unlikely that for about a year and a half the lands of Ormonde were allowed to remain undisturbed. Desmond, however, was not idle. An expedition of his is mentioned with no measured terms of praise, against M-Carthy Riogh, and the M‘Carthys of Duhallow, in the county of Cork; and he was next engaged against Edmond M‘Teague, the son of M-Carthy of Muskerry, by whom he was taken and kept in prison for six months.
The M‘Carthys were at this time in rebellion, and it is not improbable that Desmond made a merit of these services against them to the English government. He no sooner was released from prison, than we find him, at the head of an army of two thousand men, encamped on the frontiers of Ormonde's county. The lands of Ormonde's friends. the lords Barry and Roche, and Sir Maurice Fitz-Gerald, and the Decies, were plundered for the supply of his men. Sidney, who was then engaged against O'Neale in the north of Ireland, could not undertake an expedition to Munster, to quell these disturbances. Desmond's pretence for keeping such an army on foot was his private quarrel with Ormonde; but the deputy had strong reason to fear that he was preparing to act in concert with O'Neale. He dispatched Captain Herne, the constable of the castle of Leighlin, to learn from Desmond his objects, and to remind him of his duties to the queen. Desmond proposed as a proof of his allegiance, or Sidney demanded it, that he should attend him into Ulster with all his men, or remain upon the borders of the pale, for its defence, with a party of horse, during the deputy's absence. Desmond did not hesitate to obey—he marched with his brother John of Desmond to the frontiers of Leinster.
In the beginning of the following year, 1567, Sidney made a progress through Munster and Connaught. The chief object of his journey was to hear the respective complaints of the earls, who were still at war-Ormonde continuing to urge upon the queen complaints of Desmond's violence and Sidney's partiality. At Youghal, Sidney examined into some late acts of depredation, and ordered Desmond to make reparation for a prey of cattle which he had taken on Ormonde's lands. Desmond replied with violence, and was told that, by this breach of the peace, the recognizance which he had entered into for twenty thousand pounds was forfeited. The affront, as he esteemed it, was resented by Desmond, who did what he could to prevent the leading persons of the district from attending the deputy during his progress. Sidney heard of Desmond's outrages, and saw vestiges of ruin wherever he went. One of his letters says, “that the county of Cork was the pleasantest county he had ever seen, but was most miserably waste and uncultivated; the villages and churches burned and ruined, the castles destroyed, and the bones of the murdered and starved inhabitants scattered about the fields;" he adds that “a principal servant of Desmond's, after he had burned down several villages, and destroyed a large tract of the country, put a parcel of poor women to the sword, and that soon after this cruel fact the earl feasted him in his house." M‘Carthy More, who had, two years before, been created earl of Clancare, and Sir Owen O'Sullivan, were among those whom Desmond persuaded to refuse paying any civilities to the deputy. Desmond himself was compelled by the nature of the investigation which brought Sidney to the country, to attend him in his progress, but he seems to have lost no opportunity of expressing the scorn with which he regarded, or tried to regard him. “For every Irish soldier that he now kept,” he proudly boasted “that before long he would maintain five; and that before midsummer he would take the field with five thousand men.” Such was the haughty reply of Desmond, when questioned on the ravages which every step of the deputy's progress exhibited.
This bickering altercation could not last long, and it is probable that some violent attack upon Sidney was meditated. When they approached Kilmallock, one of the earl's principal strongholds, the deputy was startled at hearing that all Desmond's people were up in arms. The earl was at no loss for an excuse, when the cause of this sudden rising was enquired into. He said it was for the purpose of seizing O'Brien O’Goonagh and the White Knight, two of his followers, who had committed some outrages and whose persons the deputy had demanded. The calmness with which Sidney had hitherto listened to all Desmond's grievances, and the forbearance with which he endured his repeated insults, seem to have misled the earl into the notion that such easy credulity could be imposed upon to any extent, for the White Knight and O'Brien were at the head of the tumultuary bands. When this was stated in reply to Desmond's pretences, he threw himself upon his knees—he asked pardon of the deputy, and offered to disperse them with a word. Sidney, whose temper had been tried beyond endurance, could no longer disguise his loathing and contempt for the suppliant whom he saw fawning at his feet. He told him, “ disperse them or not as you please; my men are two hundred, and if one act of mine be interrupted by this army of your's, I shall give them battle;—but know, you are my prisoner; your life shall be the instant forfeit of any hostile movement of theirs.” The earl was removed from his presence, was instantly confined, and in the same hour sent prisoner to Limerick, from thence to Galway, and, under a charge of high treason, to Dublin.
Sidney appears to have found himself in some difficulty from the very extensive rights granted in former reigns to the ancestors of Desmond. Desmond was an earl palatine, and as such had privileges which made him little less than a sovereign, and which, within his palatinate, rendered almost every act which was requisite for the purpose of good government illegal, or of doubtful legality. This difficulty seems to have been Sidney's best excuse for appointing John of Desmond, whom he knighted on the occasion, seneschal of Desmond. He associated with him an old soldier of high character, Henry Davern, or Davels, for the name is differently written, and Andrew Skiddey. Their commission was to govern the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Kerry, during the earl's imprisonment. The earl was soon after sent into England, and Sidney pressed upon the government the necessity of appointing a president of Munster. “ Desmond,” said the deputy in an official letter, " is a man both void of judgment to govern, and will to be ruled. The earl of Clancare is willing enough to be ruled, but wanted a force and credit to rule.” In the same communication he condemns the absurd system of keeping up dissensions among the Irish, the miserable policy which had hitherto been pursued, and which English statesmen justified to themselves by their fear that union among the Irish would lead to universal revolt.
Sir John Desmond did not disappoint the confidence which the deputy placed in him. During the few months for which he was left in power, he made reparation to the amount of three thousand pounds for injuries done by the earl. Ormonde, however, who feared that John would soon prove as troublesome as his brother, and whose interest with the queen was undiminished, found means to make such
representations of Sidney's conduct in the contests and negotiations with the Desmonds, that no notice was taken, in the public dispatches addressed to him, of the victories in the north of Ireland. The war with O'Neale in Ulster was regarded in England as but a scuffle with a beggar and an outlaw, unworthy of attention. The public letters to Sidney, written under the influence of Ormonde's representations, were filled with reprimands for his endurance of the insolence of Desmond. Sidney, whose services, more particularly in his repressing the Ulster disturbances, were valued in Ireland, where the good effects of his government were felt, was offended, and earnestly entreated to be recalled;-he at length, with great difficulty, obtained permission to return to England to explain the character of his government in Ireland. He presented himself at the court of Elizabeth, attended by his prisoner the earl of Desmond, by the son of the late baron of Dungannon, by O'Conor Sligo, O'Carroll, and other chieftains of Irish birth, whom he had reduced, or won into allegiance to the queen. Dungannon and O'Carroll were favourably received, their submissions accepted, and they were permitted to return to Ireland. O’Conor was for a while confined in the Tower; but the difficulties which prevented his immediate release, seem to have been merely with regard to the form of his submission, for he was soon after set at liberty. The chieftains of Irish blood and birth were in all cases distinguished from the descendants of English settlers-and O’Carroll and the others were regarded by Elizabeth as conquered enemies, or princes of barbarous tribes, negotiating with a state to which they owed no natural allegiance. The law of England was, properly speaking, the law but of the English colonists in Ireland. Even in the theoretic view of lawyers, it did not apply to any of the Irish blood, except such as from time to time purchased letters of denization, or executed deeds of submission. Thus the submission of an Irish chieftain,-his acceptance of a grant of his lands from the crown, or of an English title of honour, was in substantial effect an extension of the power of England. The English settlers and their descendants were, on the contrary, in the eye of the law, subjects of England, -colonists, who received protection from the parent state, and owed it allegiance. The Geraldines of Desmond, though in every thing they adopted the manners of the Irish among whom they lived, till they were regarded as “more Irish than the Irish,” were viewed in England as rebellious subjects whom no ties of gratitude could attachas wily traitors, who but watched their moment to disown all dependence upon England. John of Desmond, was arrested and brought to London-he, with the earl, was sent to the Tower, where they endured a tedious imprisonment of two years. On the 11th July, 1570, Desmond's submission to the queen was accepted; "he laid his estate at her feet, promised to convey what parts she pleased to accept of,” and acknowledged his recognisance of £20,000 to be forfeited. He and his brother were remanded to Ireland.
During Sidney's absence the disturbances in Ireland increased. Butlers and Geraldines were at their unceasing work of mutual outrage and depredation. O’Mores and O'Conors brought into the field a thousand gallowglasses, and threatened to burn Kilkenny, O'Carroll's country. The lords justices, who held the sword of state in Sidney's absence, deceived themselves by thinking they were acting with vigour in issuing proclamations against the insurgents. The proclamations but increased the evil—the government thus provoking into desperation those whom it was too weak to punish. M-Carthy, who had but lately submitted to hold his lands on an English tenure, and to accept an English title, seems to have repented him of the appearance of submission, and his acts appear almost to have been inspired by the intoxication of sudden madness. Desmond's imprisonment led him to arrogate for himself the dominion of the south of Ireland. He styled himself king of Munster, and right royally did he use his power. Assisted by O'Sullivan More and the M‘Swineys, he invaded, in warlike array, and with banners displayed the territory of the Roches. The records of the period tell of his burning the country before him, and destroying all the corn therein-of his slaughtering great numbers of men, women and children-of his returning in triumph with a prey of seven hundred sheep, fifteen hundred kine, and a hundred horses. Fitz-Maurice of Desmond was at war with Fitz-Maurice of Lixnawa private quarrel, but one which involved a district. In Cashel there were two competitors for the archbishoprick, and each had his advocates. James M-Caghwell had been placed there by Elizabeth Maurice Gibbon Reagh challenged the see as appointed and consecrated to it by the pope. The Romish bull, aided by the Irish dagger, was nearly successful. Maurice—of Cashel, that would be,—when his right was denied by the occupant of the archiepiscopal throne, rushed upon the bishop with an Irish skean or dagger, and so wounded him that his life was for a while regarded as in danger.
On Sidney's return to Dublin he convened a parliament. On the 17th of January they met. Hooker, who sat in that parliament, tells us that the scene was more like a bear-beating than a parliament of wise and grave men. The great object of assembling the legislature was to do away with the ancient customs and exactions which had for ever interfered with the influence of the English crown, and to extend the English law to districts of Ireland in which it had not yet been received. The ecclesiastical reformation of the country was also an anxious object with the government. Fierce opposition was anticipated, and means were taken to secure a majority in the lower house, which gave the opponents of the measures of government strong grounds on which to place their resistance. Writs had been directed to towns not corporate, and which had never before been summoned to return members to parliament. In many places the sheriffs and mayors of corporate towns returned themselves. A number of Englishmen were also returned, who were totally unknown to the corporations which they were said to represent; the law, it was insisted, required that they should be residents.
The country party, as they called themselves, succeeded in the two first objections. The third was, after taking the opinion of the judges, determined against them, and this left the government a sufficient number to carry their measures.
These measures appear, like all those of Sidney, to have been conceived with wisdom. The lands of O'Neale, forfeited by late treasons,