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FROM THE PERIOD OF THE ENGLISH INVASION
TO THE YEAR 1810.
ONE circumstance of calumniatiòn, brought forward by Leland and Hume against the unfortunate Shane O'Neil, was forgotten in the preceding numbers. “ Such was his rage against every thing English, that he hung one of his followers for eating English biscuit.” That is not probable. 'Tis much more likely, that he was executed for holding treacherous correspondence with the enemy, of which his possession of English biscuit afforded presumptive proof; for how could he, on examination, account otherwise for the fact, since only English soldiers could give it to him? But to return to the Irish war.
Maguire, aided by O'Donnell, laid siege to his castle of Enniskillen; to the relief of which the deputy hastened with his forces, but on the way he learned that he was too late. The English garrison had already surrendered. The troops, detached against the besiegers, were totally defeated by O'Donnell; and the garrison, reduced to extremity of distress, surrendered, and were massacred by the angry victors, who thus
only retaliated the cruelty practised by Bingham on his taking the castle from its original owner, Maguire. O'Donnell knew how to take advantage of his victory; and, with his wonted rapidity, followed up his blow. He pierced into Connaught, harassed the quarters of the enemy, besieged the fort of Belleek, cut off a detachment sent to its relief, and gave English measure to the garrison. To complete his triumph, O'Donnell established one of the De Burgos, his associate, chieftain of his district, under the name of Mac-William, while Bingham, the queen’s president of Connaught, was obliged to shrink from the conflict. The
queen and her ministry were justly alarmed at the intelligence of such a succession of defeats, received from enemies they were accustomed to undervalue, and saw the necessity of greater efforts in warring against the northern Irish. Their first endeavour was, to tamper with O'Donnell, in order to detach him from Tyrone, considered as the most powerful of the Irish chieftains; one without whose secret approbation the spirited opposition of O'Donnell, Maguire, &c. to the forementioned outrages, practised on them and their people, would scarcely have taken place. Not caring to rely too much on the success of their intrigues with O'Donnell and other chieftains, an army of veterans, distinguished by their service in Britanny, with a new levy raised in England, were dispatched under the command of Sir John Norris, a general of reputation. Tyrone justly dreaded, that these great prepara
tions were directed against himself in particular. He saw that the plan of Elizabeth's council was, to insulate the north from the rest of the kingdom, by a chain of forts connecting the great lakes, which were to be defended by garrisons, and ships of war stationed on the lakes. That thus circumvented by sea and land, by the forces of England, the tribes would be gradually awed, or bribed into, submission. Seeing that without striking some prompt and decisive blow, before the English reinforcements arrived, the defection of his tributaries and allies was too likely, in which case he could neither make war effectually, nor expect by submission, safety or honorable terms, he besieged the fort of Blackwater, whose garrison, like the rest, were injurious neighbours. Still wishing to avert the calamities of war, provided any endureable terms could be obtained, he wrote to the deputy, imputing his rising to necessity and self-defence. He in particular requested the lord general to entertain a favourable opinion of him, and not force him to war against his interest and inclination. But his iimplacable enemy, Bagnal, by intercepting his letters, and destroying his messengers, deprived him of his hopes from a pacific correspondence, and forced him to continue bostilities. The castle of Monaghan was besieged, and the attempt of Norris to relieve it produced a skirmish, in which the danger and address of Tyrone were remarkable. One
One Sedgrave, an English officer, observing where he had taken his station, and was issuing his orders, assaulted
and unhorsed him. The earl, in falling, contrived to seize his antagonist, and dragged him to the ground. The Englishman, who still had the advantage, prepared to dispatch him; but ONéil, encumbered as he was, contrived to prevent the blow, by plunging a dagger deeply into the body of Sedgrave.
“ These petty hostilities were soon suspended by the weak and temporizing policy of the queen, impatient to disengage herself, by any means, from the disorders of Ireland. A commission arrived, whereby Wallop, the treasurer at war, and Gardiner, the chief justice, were empowered to treat with Tyrone and his associates, to hear their complaints, and to receive their overtures, in order to an effectual accommodation. The northern Irish obeyed the invitation, but peremptorily refused to meet the commissioners at Dundalk. The conference was held in open field, not as a submission of rebellious subjects, but a parley between contending leaders. Tyrone first explained his grievances; complained of the injustice of Bagnal, in usurping a jurisdiction in Ulster inconsistent with his just rights; of his unreasonable and implacable resentment in attempting to separate him from his wife, and with-holding her portion; of his perfidy in secreting his letters to the state, and by a series of injuries forcing him to take arms, and to apply to the queen’s enemies for protection. He required a full pardon for himself and followers; that they should be allowed the full and free exercise of their religion; that Bagnal should be com