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"Now, for the rebels which Jiand out in Ireland,
K. Richard II., act i. sc. iv.
SSEX had been but few days in Dublin: yet had he accomplished much. And indeed there were great matters awaiting him. Grievances to be redressed: good laws per case, but great lack of carrying them out. And my Lord was of opinion that these were as bad as evil laws well executed: speedy wrong, saith the proverb, hurts less than tardy right. And, moreover, there had been much oppression; for justice (if so it could be called) had been ministered according to affection if not under fear.
The Gathering. tjr
And there were directions to be given to the Deputy for the rule in the mean time, and arrangements for the following on of troops and the victualling of the army; besides the necessary preparations for the War, which my Lord had determined to prosecute with alacrity and vigour. For the Earl felt rightly that to his success rapid movements, repeated conquests of however small forces, would more conduce than victories over greater numbers at longer intervals. Whatsoever should soonest strike terror and alarm into the natives' spirit, that would speediest bring them to composition, for they were dependant one on another, and yet were disunited; so that every petty chief taken in was reckoned for a loss unto the whole, disheartening those who yet held out.
Now though Essex had yielded to the advice of his Council, abandoning for the present his own will, to attack ONial in his strongholds; he cordially adopted the plan suggested to him, resolving at once to put it into execution.
Whereupon, collecting such Lords and Gentlemen of the Pale as were well affected to her Grace, and prone for this adventure: to wit, Sir Christopher St. Lawrence, son to the Lord Howth; Sir Ralph Cusac, and Talbot of
VOL. III. I
Malahide; Sir John de Housse, Baron of the Naul; and Phepo, Baron Calf; Sir T. Preston, Lord of Gormanstown; and Sir N. Bernewall, Lord of Trimlestown; with Nangle (who is Montacute); Nugent, Baron Delvin; and the Butler, Baron of Dunboyne; and, incorporating them with those worthy Noblemen and Captains had accompanied him from England, Essex marched into Kildare, through a rich champagne country, the wild mountains on his left, an old natural wood of oak, holly, and birch, skirting him on the right. By the way he divided his troops, marshalling them after that fashion he had used on his more glorious expeditions. But, alas! there were not, in fact, those numbers he had been promised. There were as yet but twenty-seven Ensigns of foot, and some three hundred horse. Though my Lord had taken order that the whole army should rendezvous at Kilcullen forthwith, only the Earl of Ormonde joined him on the morrow with seven hundred foot, and two hundred horse, still accompanying the army till it reached Kilkenny. There also did the Lords Cahir and Mountgarret make their submission.
And scarcely had my Lord formed his little force into regiments and troops, ere the rebels (O'Tooles and The Gallowglajses. 115
O'Beirnes), coming through the gorges on the left, and lurking in the forests on his right, commenced against him that system of rough depredatory warfare to which they were so well accustomed. They would lie hidden in the woods, discharging their arrows and javelines occasionally, now and then firing off arquebusses. Then would they approach at night, attempting to steal the horses; or per case cutting off the sentries. These, whenever they were attacked, would retreat to their scrubby ihelter, or into the bogges, whither no armed soldier dare follow them; or, separating from one another, they would hide in broken ground or holes, where no traces of them could be found. The Mountaineers, mounted on their shaggy ponies, would often rush down upon our stragglers suddenly, thrusting through unawares those who for plunder sake or other lawlessness marched wide of the general host. 'Twas a sight to see these fine cavaliers naked but for their skin cloke, without rein or stirrup managing their rude beasts down almost impassable steeps! Now with a yell and a cry they would, as it were, fly past us, spiking hither and thither, and so escaping ere one recovered from their onslaught!
Yet, notwithstanding, the rebels suffered more loss than they were able to inflict.
Essex and his friends felt this sort of skirmishing most wearying and irksome. No glory could be gained in any such encounters. But, stimulated with the sense of duty, he was supported by the hope that the whole campaign would leave him master of the country, which was the end for which he strove. In every town, in every castle, therefore, he left a garrison, and that sufficient, not only to secure it against assault, but to protect the neighbouring lands beside.
Thus, passing through Athye, he marched towards the fort of Maryboro', newly erected in the Queen's county. And here, at a dangerous pass, nothing but the excellent order in which his troops preserved their lines saved him from a ruinous practice of the rebels.
Rory Og O'More, the wild Prince of those parts, of whom you have already heard, he, with five hundred foot and forty horsemen, awaited the army. This chief, not deficient in chivalry, sent a challenge to the Earl: to wit, that fifty men on either side should fight the quarrel out with sword and target. And the romantic genius of Essex