The points of form worthy to be observed.
The fifth of June in Trinity term, upon Thursday, being no Star-Chamber day, at the ordinary hour when the courts sit at Westminster, were assembled together at the Lord Keeper's house in the great chamber, her Majesty's Privy Council, enlarged and assisted for that time and cause by the special call and associating of certain selected persons. viz. Four earls, two barons, and four judges of the law, making in the whole a council or court of eighteen persons, who were attended by four of her Majesty's learned counsel for charging the earl; and two clerks of the council, the one to read, the other as a register; and an auditory of persons, to the number, as I could guess, of two hundred, almost all men of quality, but of every kind or profession; nobility, court, law, country, city. The upper end of the table left void for the earl's appearance, who, after the commissioners had sat a while, and the auditory was quiet from the first throng to get in, and the doors shut, presented himself and kneeled down at
p.278the board's end, and so continued till he was licensed to stand up.
The names of the Commissioners.
Lord Archbishop, Lord Keeper, etc.
It was opened, that her Majesty being imperial, and immediate under God was not holden to render account of her actions to any; howbeit, because she had chosen ever to govern, as well with satisfaction as with sovereignty, and the rather, to command down the winds of malicious and seditious rumours wherewith men's conceits may have been tossed to and fro, she was pleased to call the world to an understanding of her princely course held towards the earl of Essex, as well in here-before protracting as in now proceeding.
The earl repairing from his government into this realm in August last, contrary to her Majesty's express and most judicial commandment, though the contempt were in that point visible, and her Majesty's mind prepared to a just and high displeasure, in regard of that realm of Ireland set a hazard by his former disobedience to her royal directions, yet kept that stay, as she commanded my lord only to his chamber in court, until his allegations might by her Privy Council be questioned and heard; which account taken, and my lord's answers appearing to be of no defence, that shadow of defence which was offered consisted of two parts, the one his own conceit of some likelihood of good effects to ensue of
p.279the course held, the other a vehement and overruling persuasion of the council there, though he were indeed as absolutely freed from opinion of the Council of Ireland, as he was absolutely tied to her Majesty's trust and instructions. Nevertheless, her Majesty not unwilling to admit to any extenuation of his offence; and considering the one point required advertisement out of Ireland, and the other further expectation of the event and sequel of the affairs there, and so both points asked time and protraction; her Majesty proceeded still with reservation, not to any restraint of my lord according to the nature and degree of his offence, but to a commitment of him, sub libera custodia in the Lord Keeper's house.
After, when both parts of this defence plainly failed my lord, yea, and proved utterly adverse to him, for the Council of Ireland in plain terms disavowed all those his proceedings, and the event made a miserable interpretation of them, then her Majesty began to behold the offence in nature and likeness, as it was divested from any palliation or cover, and in the true proportion and magnitude thereof, importing the peril of a kingdom; which consideration wrought in her Majesty a strange effect, if anything which is heriocal in virtue can be strange in her nature; for when offence was grown unmeasurably offensive, then did grace superabound; and in the heat of all the ill news out of Ireland, and other advertisements thence to my lord's disadvantage, her Majesty entered into a resolution, out of herself and
p.280her inscrutable goodness, not to overthrow my lord's fortune irreparably, by public and proportionable justice: notwithstanding, inasmuch as about that time there did fly about in London streets and theatres divers seditious libels; and Paul's and ordinaries were full of bold and factious discourses, whereby not only many of her Majesty's faithful and zealous counsellors and servants were taxed, but withal the hard estate of Ireland was imputed to anything rather than to the true cause, the earl's defaults, though this might have made any prince on earth to lay aside straightways the former resolution taken, yet her Majesty in her moderation persisted in her course of clemency, and bethought herself of a mean to right her own honour, and yet spare the earl's ruin; and therefore taking a just and most necessary occasion upon these libels, of an admonition to be given seasonably, and as is oft accustomed; the last Star-chamber day of Michaelmas term, was pleased, that declaration should be made, by way of testimony, of all her honourable Privy Council, of her Majesty's infinite care, royal provisions, and prudent directions for the prosecutions in Ireland, wherein the earl's errors, by which means so great care and charge was frustrated, were incidently touched.
But as in bodies very corrupt, the medicine rather stirreth and exasperateth the humour than purgeth it, so some turbulent spirits laid hold of this proceeding in so singular partiality towards my lord, as if it had been to his disadvantage, and gave out
p.281that this was to condemn a man unheard, and to wound him on his back, and to leave Justice her sword and take away her balance, which consisted of an accusation and a defence; and such other seditious phrases: whereupon her Majesty seeing herself interested in honour, which she hath ever sought to preserve as her eye, clear and without mote, was enforced to resolve of a judicial hearing of the cause, which was accordingly appointed in the end of Hilary term. At the which time warning being given to my lord to prepare himself, he falling, as it seemed to a deep consideration of his estate, made unto her Majesty by letter an humble and effectual submission, beseeching her that that bitter cup of justice might pass from him, for those were his word; which wrought such an impression in her Majesty's mind, that it not only revived in her her former resolution to forbear any public hearing, but it fetched this virtue out of mercy by the only touch, as few days after my lord was removed to further liberty in his own house, her Majesty hoping that these bruits and malicious imputations would of themselves wax old and vanish: but finding it otherwise in proof, upon taste taken by some intermission of time, and especially beholding the humour of the time in a letter presumed to be written to her Majesty herself by a lady, to whom, though nearest in blood to my lord, it appertained little to intermeddle in matters of this nature, otherwise than in course of humility to have solicited her grace and mercy; in which letter, in a certain violent and mineral
p.282spirit of bitterness, remonstrance and representation is made to her Majesty, as if my lord suffered under passion and faction, and not under justice mixed with mercy; which letter, though written to her sacred hands, and therefore unfit to pass in vulgar hands, yet was first divulged by copies everywhere, that being, as it seemeth, the newest and finest form of libelling, and since committed to the press: her Majesty in her wisdom seeing manifestly these rumours thus nourished had got too great a head to be repressed without some hearing of the cause, and calling my lord to answer; and yet on the other side, being still informed touching my lord himself of his continuance of penitence and submission, did in conclusion resolve to use justice, but with the edge and point taken off and rebated; for whereas nothing leaveth that taint upon honour, which is a person of my lord's condition is hardliest repaired, in question of justice, as to be called to the ordinary and open place of offenders and criminals, her Majesty had ordered the hearing should be intra domesticos parietes and not luce forensi. And whereas again in the Star Chamber there is certain formalities not fit in regard of example to be dispensed with, which would strike deeper both into my lord's fortune and reputation; as to the fine which is incident to a sentence there given, and the imprisonment of the Tower, which in case of contempts that touch the point of estate doth likewise follow; her Majesty turning this course, had directed that the matters should receive, before a great, honourable,
p.283and selected council, a full and deliberate, and yet in respect, a private, mild and gracious hearing.
All this was not spoken in one undivided speech, but partly by the first that spoke of the learned counsel, and partly by some of the commissioners; and for in this and the rest I keep order of nature, and not of circumstance.
The matters wherewith my lord was charged were of two several natures; of an higher, and of an inferior degree of offence.
The former kind purported great and high contempts and points of misgovernance in his office of her Majesty's lieutenant and governor of her realm of Ireland; and in the trust and authority thereby to him committed.
The latter contained divers notorious errors and neglects of duty, as well in his government as otherwise.
The great contempts and points of misgovernment and malversation in his office were articulate into three heads.
1. The first was the journey into Munster, whereby the prosecution in due time upon Tyrone in Ulster was overthrown; wherein he proceeded contrary to his directions, and the whole design of his employment: whereof ensued the consumption of her Majesty's treasure and provisions, and the evident peril of that kingdom.
2. The second was the dishonourable and dangerous treaty held, and cessation concluded with the same arch-rebel Tyrone.
3. The third was his contemptuous leaving his government, contrary to her Majesty's absolute mandate under her hand and signet, and in a time of so imminent and instant danger.
For the first, it had two parts; that her Majesty's resolution and direction was precise and absolute for the northern prosecution, and that the same direction was by my lord in regard of the journey to Munster, wilfully and contemptuously broken.
It was therefore delivered, that her Majesty, touched with a true and princely sense of the torn and broken estate of that kingdom of Ireland, entered into a most Christian and magnanimous resolution to leave no faculty of her regal power or policy unemployed for the reduction of that people, and for the suppressing and utter quenching of that flame of rebellion, wherewith that country was and is wasted: whereupon her Majesty was pleased to take knowledge of the general conceit, how the former making and managing of the actions there had been taxed, upon two exceptions; the one, that the proportion of forces which had been there maintained and continued by supplies, were not sufficient to bring the prosecutions to a period: the other, that the prosecutions had been also intermixed and interrupted with too many temporizing treaties, whereby the rebel did not only gather strength, but
p.285also find his strength more and more, so as ever such smothers broke forth again into greater flames. Which kind of discourses and objections, as they were entertained in a popular kind of observation, so were they ever chiefly patronized and apprehended by the earl, both upon former times and occasions, and now last when this matter was in deliberation. So as her Majesty, to acquit her honour and regal function, and to give this satisfaction to herself and others, that she had left no way untried, resolved to undertake the action with a royal army and puissant forces, under the leading of some principal nobleman; in such sort, that, as far as human discourse might discern, it might be hoped, that by the expedition of a summer, things might be brought to that state, as both realms may feel some ease and respiration; this from charge and levies, and that from troubles and perils. Upon this ground her Majesty made choice of my lord of Essex for that service, a principal peer and officer of her realm, a person honoured with the trust of a privy counsellor, graced with the note of her Majesty's special favour, infallibly betokening and redoubling his worth and value, enabled with the experience and reputation of former services, and honourable charges in the wars; a man every way eminent, select and qualified for a general of a great enterprise, intended for the recovery and reduction of that kingdom, and not only or merely as a lieutenant or governor of Ireland.
My lord, after that he had taken the charge upon
p.286him, fell straightways to make propositions answerable to her Majesty's ends, and answerable to his own former discourses and opinions; and chiefly did set down one full and distinct resolution, that the design and action, which of all others was most final and summary towards an end of those troubles, and which was worthy of her Majesty's enterprise with great and puissant forces, was a prosecution to be made upon the arch-traitor Tyrone in his own strengths within the province of Ulster, whereby both the inferior rebels which rely upon him, and the foreigner upon whom he relieth, might be discouraged, and so to cut asunder both dependences: and for the proceeding with greater strength and policy in that action, that the main invasion and impression of her Majesty's army should be accompanied and corresponded unto by the plantation of strong garrisons in the north, as well upon the river of Loughfoyle as a postern of that province, as upon the hither frontiers, both for the distracting and bridling of the rebels forces during the action, and again, for the keeping possession of the victory, if God should send it.
This proposition and project moving from my lord, was debated in many consultations. The principal men of judgement and service in the wars, as a council of war to assist a council of state, were called at times unto it; and this opinion of my lord was by himself fortified and maintained against all contradiction and opposite argument; and in the end, ex unanimi consensus it was concluded and
p.287resolved that the axe should be put to the root of the tree: which resolution was ratified and confirmed by the binding and royal judgement of her sacred Majesty, who vouchsafed her kingly presence at most of those consultations.
According to a proposition and enterprise of this nature, were the proportions of forces and provisions thereunto allotted. The first proportion set down by my lord was the number of 12,000 foot and 1,200 horse; which being agreed unto, upon some other accident out of Ireland, the earl propounded to have it made 14,000 foot and 1,300 horse, which was likewise accorded; within a little while after the earl did newly insist to have an augmentation of 2,000 more, using great persuasions and confident significations of good effect, if those numbers might be yielded to him, as which he also obtained before his departure; and besides the supplies of 2,000 arriving in July, he had authority to raise 2,000 Irish more, which he procured by his letters out of Ireland, with pretence to further the northern service: so as the army was raised in the conclusion and list to 16,000 foot and 1,300 horse, supplied with 2,000 more at three months' end and increased with 2,000 Irish upon this new demand; whereby her Majesty at that time paid 18,000 foot and 1,300 in the realm of Ireland. Of these forces, divers companies drawn out of the experienced bands of the Low Countries; special care taken that the new levies in the country should be the ablest, and most disposed bodies; the army also animated and
p.288encouraged with the service of divers brave and valiant noblemen and gentlemen voluntaries; in sum, the most flourishing and complete troops that have been known to have been sent out of our nation in any late memory. A great mass of treasure provided and issued, amounting to such a total, as the charge of that army, all manner of ways, from the time of the first provisions and setting forth, to the time of my lord's returning into England, was verified to have drawn out of the coffers, besides the charge of the country, the quantity of £300,000, and so ordered as he carried with him three months' pay beforehand, and likewise victual, munition, and all habilments of war whatsoever, with attendance of shipping allowed and furnished in a sortable proportion, and to the full of all my lord's own demands. For my lord being himself a principal counsellor for the preparations, as he was to be an absolute commander in the execution, his spirit was in every conference and conclusion in such sort, as when there happened any points of difference upon demands, my lord using the forcible advantages of the toleration and liberty which her Majesty's special favour did give unto him, and the great devotion and forwardness of his fellow-counsellors to the general cause, and the necessity of his then present service, he did ever prevail and carry it; insomuch as it was objected and laid to my lord's charge as one of his errors and presumptions, that he did oftentimes upon their prepositions and demands, enter into contestations with her Majesty, more a great deal than
p.289was fit. All which propositions before mentioned being to the utmost of my lord's own askings, and of that height and greatness, might really and demonstratively express and intimate unto him, besides his particular knowledge which he had, as a counsellor of state, as the means both of her Majesty and this kingdom, that he was not to expect to have the commandment of 16,000 foot and 1,300 horse, as an appurtenance to his lieutenancy of Ireland, which was impossible to be maintained; but contrariwise, that in truth of intention he was designed as general for one great action and expedition, unto which the rest of his authority was but accessory and accommodate.
It was delivered further, that in the authority of his commission, which was more ample in many points than any former lieutenant had been vested with, there were many direct and evident marks of his designation to the northern action, as principally a clause whereby merum arbitrium belli et pacis was reposed in his sole trust and discretion, whereas all the lieutenants were ever tied unto the peremptory assistance and admonition of a certain number of voices of the council of Ireland The occasion of which clause so passed to my lord, doth notably disclose and point unto the precise trust committed to my lord for the northern journey; for when his commission was drawn at first according to former precedents, and on the other side my lord insisted strongly to have this new and prima facie vast and exorbitant authority, he used this argument;
p.290that the council of Ireland had many of them livings and possessions in or near the province of Leinster and Munster; but that Ulster was abandoned from any such particular respects, whereby it was like, the council there would be glad to use her Majesty's forces for the clearing and assuring of those territories and countries where their fortunes and estates were planted: so as, if he should be tied to their voices, he were like to be diverted from the main service intended: upon which reason that clause was yielded unto.
So as it was then concluded, that all circumstances tended to one point, that there was a full and precise intention and direction for Ulster, and that my lord could not descend into the consideration of his own quality and value; he could not muster his fair army; he could not account with the treasurer, and take consideration of the great mass of treasure issued; he could not look into the ample and new clause of his letters patent; he could not look back, either to his own former discourses, or to the late propositions whereof himself was author, nor to the conferences, consultations, and conclusions thereupon, nor principally to her Majesty's royal direction and expectation, nor generally to the conceit both of subjects of this realm, and the rebels themselves in Ireland; but which way soever he turned, he must find himself trusted, directed, and engaged wholly for the northern expedition.
The parts of this that was charged were verified by
p.291three proofs: the first, the most authentical but the least pressed, and that was her Majesty's own royal affirmation, both by her speech now and her precedent letters; the second, the testimony of the privy council, who upon their honours did avouch the substance of that was charged, and referred themselves also to many of their lordships' letters to the same effect; the third, letters written from my lord after his being in Ireland, whereby the resolution touching the design of the north is often knowledged.
There follow some clauses both of her Majesty's letters and of the lords of her council, and of the earl's and the council of Ireland, for the verification of this point.
Her Majesty, in her letter of the 19th of July to my lord of Essex, upon the lingering of the northern journey, doubting my lord did value service, rather by the labour he endured, than by the advantage of her Majesty's royal ends, hath these words: You have in this dispatch given us small light, either when or in what order you intend particularly to proceed to the northern action; wherein if you compare the time that is run on, and the excessive charges that are spent, with the effects of any thing wrought by this voyage, howsoever we remain satisfied with your own particular cares and travails of body and mind, yet you must needs think that we, that have the eyes of foreign princes upon our actions, and have the hearts of people to comfort and cherish, who groan under the burden
p.292of continual levies and impositions, which are occasioned by these late actions, can little please ourself hitherto with any thing that hath been effected.
In another branch of the same letter, reflecting her royal regard upon her own honour interested in this delay, hath these words:
Whereunto we will add this one thing that doth more displease us than any charge or offence that happens, which is, that it must be the queen of England's fortune, who hath held down the greatest enemy she had, to make a base bush-kern to be accounted so famous a rebel, as to be a person against whom so many thousands of foot and horse, besides the force of all the nobility of that kingdom, must be thought too little to be employed.
In another branch, discovering, as upon the vantage ground of her princely wisdom, what would be the issue of the courses then held, hath these words:
And therefore, although by your letter we found your purpose to go northwards, on which depends the main good of our service, and which we expected long since should have been performed; yet because we do hear it bruited, besides the words of your letter written with your own hand, which carries some such sense, that you who allege such sickness in your army by being travelled with you, and find so great and important affairs to digest at Dublin, will yet engage yourself personally into Offaly, being our lieutenant
p.293when you have there so many inferiors able, might victual a fort, or seek revenge against those who have lately prospered against our forces. And when we call to mind how far the sun hath run his course, and what dependeth upon the timely plantation of garrisons in the North, and how great scandal it would be to our honour to leave that proud rebel unassayed, when we have with so great an expectation of our enemies engaged ourselves so far in the action; so that, without that be done, all those former courses will prove like via navis in mari; besides that our power, which hitherto hath been dreaded by potent enemies, will now even be held contemptible amongst our rebels: we must plainly charge you, according to the duty you owe to us, so to unite soundness of judgement to the zeal you have to do us service, as with all speed to pass thither in such sort, as the axe might be put to the root of that tree, which hath been the treasonable stock from whom so many poisoned plants and grafts have been derived; by which proceedings of yours, we may neither have cause to repent of our employment of yourself for omitting those opportunities to shorten the wars, nor receive in the eye of the world imputation of so much weakness in ourself, to begin a work without better foresight what would be the end of our excessive charge, the adventure of our people's lives, and the holding up of our own greatness against a wretch, whom we have raised from the dust, and who could never
p.294prosper, if the charges we have been put to were orderly employed.
Her Majesty in her particular letter written to my lord the 30th of July, bindeth, still expressly upon the northern prosecution, my lord ad principalia rerum in these words:
First, you know right well, when we yielded to this excessive charge, it was upon no other foundation than to which yourself did ever advise us as much as any, which was, to assail the northern traitor, and to plant garrisons in his country; it being ever your firm opinion, amongst other our council, to conclude that all was done in other kind in Ireland, was but waste and consumption.
Her Majesty in her letter of the 9th of August to my lord of Essex and the council of Ireland, when, after Munster journey, they began in a new time to dissuade the northern journey in her excellent ear, quickly finding a discord of men from themselves, chargeth them in these words:
Observe well what we have already written, and apply your counsels to that which may shorten, and not prolong the war; seeing never any of you was of other opinion, than that all other courses were but consumptions, except we went on with the northern prosecution.
The lords of her Majesty's council, in their letter of the 10th of August to my lord of Essex and the council of Ireland, do in plain terms lay before them the first plot, in these words:
p.295We cannot deny but we did ground our counsels upon this foundation. That there should have been a prosecution of the capital rebels in the North, whereby the war might have been shortened; which resolution, as it was advised by yourself before your going, and assented to by most part of the council of war that were called to the question, so must we confess to your lordship, that we have all this while concurred with her Majesty in the same desire and expectation.
My lord of Essex, and the council of Ireland, in their letter of the 5th of May to the lords of the council before the Munster journey write in haec verba.
Moreover, in your lordships' great wisdom, you will likewise judge what pride the rebels will grow to, what advantage the foreign enemy may take , and what loss her Majesty shall receive, if this summer the arch-traitor be not assailed, and garrisons planted upon him.
My lord of Essex in his particular letter of the 11th of July, to the lords of the council, after Munster journey writeth thus:
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, &c.
The earl of Essex, in his letter of the 14th of August to the lords of the council, writeth out of great affection, as it seemeth, in these words:
Yet must these rebels be assailed in the height of their pride, and our base clowns must be taught to fight again; else will her Majesty's honour never be recovered, nor our nation valued, nor this kingdom reduced.
Besides it was noted, that whereas my lord and the council of Ireland, had, by theirs of the 15th of July, desired an increase of 2,000 Irish purposely for the better setting on foot of the northern service; her Majesty, notwithstanding her proportions, by often gradations and risings, had been raised to the highest elevation, yet was pleased to yield unto it.
1. The first part concerneth my lord's ingress into his charge, and that which passed here before his going hence; now followeth an order, both of time and matter, what was done after my lord was gone into Ireland, and had taken upon him the government by her Majesty's commission.
2. The second part then of the first article was to show, that my lord did wilfully and contemptuously, in this great point of estate, violate and infringe her Majesty's direction before remembered.
In delivering of the evidence and proofs of this part, it was laid down for a foundation, that there was a full performance on he Majesty's part of all the points agreed upon for this great prosecution, so
p.297as there was no impediment or cause of interruption from hence.
This is proved by a letter from my lord of Essex and the council of Ireland to the lords of the council here, dated 9th May, which was some three weeks after my lord had received the sword, by which time he might well and thoroughly inform himself whether promise were kept in all things or no, and the words of the letter are these:
As your lordships do very truly set forth, we do very humbly acknowledge her Majesty's chargeable magnificence and royal preparations and transportations of men, munition, apparel, money and victuals, for the recovery of this distressed kingdom; where note the transportations acknowledged as well as the preparations.
Next it was set down for a second ground, that there was no natural nor accidental impediment in the estate of the affairs themselves, against the prosecution upon Tyrone, but only culpable impediments raised by the journey of Munster.
This appeared by a letter from my lord and the council of Ireland to the lords of the council here, dated the 28th of April, whereby they advertise, that the prosecution of Ulster, in regard of lack of grass and forage, and the poorness of cattle at that time of year, and such like difficulties of the season, and not of the matter, will in better time, and with better commodity for the army, be fully executed about the middle of June or
p.298beginning of July; and signify, that the earl intended a present prosecution should be set on foot in Leinster: to which letters the lords make answer by theirs of the 8th of May, signifying her Majesty's toleration of the delay.