1600 - Carew, George - To Robert Cecil (2)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 30 Aug. 1600
Author Carew, George
Title Letter from Sir George Carew to Sir Robert Cecil
Mentions Rebels will appoint a Robin Hood as long as there is a Geraldine in Ireland

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-01. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


In what sort I found this province of Munster when I first entered into my charge, I need not trouble your Honour with repetitions thereof; [it] being evidently known to all men that since the conquest of Ireland the same was never so much distempered. For noplace was free from rebellion, even to the very gates of the cities, and the enemy evermore master of the field, so as Her Majesty's garrisons (being in no better condition than besieged) did but lie in towns for their safety, and the towns so forgetful of their duties, as in them Her Majesty's troops were not well assured.[... p. 390:] Whoso knoweth this kingdom and the people will confess that to conquer the same and them by the sword only is opus laboris, and almost may be said to be impossible. And I do verily believe that all the treasure of England will be consumed in that work, except other additions of help be ministered unto it. The fair way that I am in towards the finishing of the heavy task which I undergo, I am afraid will receive some speedy and tough impediment, unless my advice in sending of the young Desmond hither may be followed. The good which by his presence will be effected hath been by me so often declared, as I hold it needless to trouble you with reiterations of the same. The danger that may ensue if he should prove a traitor (which I suppose to be the motive of his detention) is no more than the malice of a weak rebel, who can never be so great by reason of his education, which hath been in simplicity unaccustomed to action, together with his religion, as this counterfeit Earl, nourished in villainy and treasons, and the greatest pillar (Tyrone excepted) that ever the Pope had in this kingdom. And farther, if this traitor were taken or slain, yet the rebellion is not ended; for these Minister rebels will establish another Robin Hood in his room, and so in sequence, as long as there is a Geraldine in Ireland. As soon as the bruit was divulged that he should be sent unto me, I found such an alacrity in his followers, as an immediate sigh of a present quiet did represent itself unto me; but since that time, they having notice that yet he is in some degree a prisoner, and persuaded by the traitorly priests that there was never no intention to enlarge him, and that that which was done was only to abuse the world to breed distractions to ruin the Catholic cause, which they call a just war, they do again begin to decline, and the best I can expect from them is to stand as neutrals, and that but for a time, until they grow farther desperate of his coming. Sir, believe me all the persuasions in the world will not prevail to induce them to serve against James McThomas, much less to do anything upon his person, before they see his face. For this incredulous nation measure the like falsehood in others which they know to be in themselves; and therefore I wonder that stay is made of him, since his coming may do so great good. [...][1]

Source notes

Brackets and italics as in printed source. MS ref.: Vol. CCVII, pt. 4, No. 106. Marginal note: "August 30. Cork." The cited text is a calendar summary or paraphrase of the original.

IRHB comments

The writer of this letter, George Carew, 1st Earl of Totnes (1555-1629), served under Queen Elizabeth I during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and was appointed President of Munster on Jan. 27, 1600. The recipient, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563?-1612) was Lord High Treasurer May 1598-24 May 1612, Lord Privy Seal 1598-1612, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 8 October 1597-1599, and Secretary of State 5 July 1590-24 May 1612. The allusions has not been noted in previous lists or studies.



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