119: Our Earl is Shamed

Head and shoulders portrait of a ginger and white cat.
Linkin, now a leading authority on Ireland.

The Earl of Essex, our Earl, and their friend the Earl of Rutland came safe to Dublin, as Linkin sayt at our Spring Revel.

Linkin knew this because the master of our household had friends in Mr Secretary’s service.

Better yet, the master had a friend whose brother is with Essex in Ireland.  This friend came to visit, bearing uskwibow [usquebaugh] his brother sent him.

“Stinking stuff,” sayt Linkin, “but very drying for any troubled by rheums, catarrs, and other wetnesses in the head.  As most folk are, in Ireland. 

“Last night in our master’s chamber this friend sayt that we in London know not the half of it.

“Twenty or thirty thousand Irish, wild Scots, and degenerate English are in arms against Queen Puss.  Many more of a rebellous disposition lurk in woods and bogs,” sayt Linkin.

“Our soldiers found Dublin throng with people.  Some had come to welcome Essex.  Others were seeking shelter from the rebels.

“But who can tell friend from foe in such a country?  He that smiles at you today might cut your throat on the morrow.

“In Dublin Essex received the sword and sway of Ireland – which means he rules it for Queen Puss.  What’s left of it to rule, that is, for most is held by rebels.

“Next, he gave good places in the army to his friends, as is proper.  Our Earl was made General of the Horse.  Our Earl’s friend Sir Harry Daffers [Danvers] is Lieutenant of Horse.

“Essex wished to make all haste north for Ulcer [Ulster] where the rebels are the strongest.  He sayt he would defeat their leader there.

“The Council of Ireland – like unto the Privy Council here – begged him to forbear. 

“They sayt there would not be grass enough for his horses before high summer.  Nor sufficient vittles for his men, because they must take with them beeves (cattle) on foot.

“How could these and other necessaries go with the soldiers when there are rebels all about?

“This Council sayt ’twere best to settle the south first.  Take vittles and new men to the forts that were sore set upon, and out of heart.

“Good advices,” sayt Linkin.

A misty landscape of hills and shrubs, from a photo by David Brooks.

So they went south, through misty moisty ways where sprites and shadows shot at them by day, and sought to steal their horses when they made camp at night.

Then a body of rebels, about 200 strong, showed theirselves.  Our Earl and his men rode at them in good order.

The rebels did what they do best.  Withdrew into a bog and thence to the woods, doubtless waiting to kill any that followed.

One fool did follow, with his men.  Lord Grey, who wished to play the hero.

None was killed or hurt, but our Earl the General was displeased, for he’d forbade such pursuits.

That night Lord Grey was punished for his disobedience.  He was kept in the custody of the Marshall of the Army.

“No great hardship,” sayt Linkin.  “For this Marshall is married to Essex’ mother.  He would have had good lodgings.”

But Lord Grey turned cowbaby, and writ home complaining of his usage.  His friends ran to Queen Puss.  What did her most Gracious Majestie do?

She commanded her Council – Privy by name and privy by nature, say I – to tell Essex that our Earl must lose his place as General of the Horse.  Another should have it in his stead.

Linkin sayt that Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] thought she were too hasty.  He held the letter for five days, in hopes she’d change her mind.

But no.

Linkin told me our poor Earl would not yet know that Queen Puss had shamed him.

I arrkst Linkin, “How many rebels must there be in a country before none dare name them rebel?”

He sayt he would think on it.

Queen Elizabeth. This portrait was painted some years after she died; Death is looking over her left shoulder. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorThe Earl of Essex arrived in Dublin in April 1599, and made the formal appointments of his officers after receiving the sword of state.

Queen Elizabeth hadn’t pre-approved the Earl of Southampton’s appointment as General of the Horse, but whether or not she’d actually vetoed it isn’t clear.

Essex certainly knew she was against the appointment, but it wasn’t until June – after the kerfuffle with Lord Grey – that she took exception.

“Grey” seems to have been an unlucky name for the Southampton household.

Tricks’ uncle Gib was terrorised and then recruited by a sinister spy cat he knew as Grey, and Tricks will certainly have more to say about Lord Grey (1575 -1614).

The Sir Harry (Henry) Danvers Tricks mentions is one of the brothers the Earl of Southampton helped flee the country after Henry Long was killed.

Another friend on the campaign was John Harington, of water-closet fame.  A cousin had warned him before he left England that he would be in dangerous company – meaning the Earl of Essex, not the rebels.  John was advised to watch what he said, and keep a journal of events.

It seems the political climate in the army may have been almost as fraught as it was in London.