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have done.' To whom he gave this modest answer: "My worthy lord, I thank God, my father was so carefull, that hee hath husbanded so my present meanes and fortunes, that I am able to live of my own revenues at home.' Why, my lord,' saith hee, do you hold mee to be a theefe?' • Oh! yes, with pardon, my lord, an honourable theefe.' »*
Sir Francis Drake, “ the first who ploughed a furrow round the world,” was bred a pirate; and we must remember that to him, Raleigh, and other truly gallant commanders of the fleet that encountered the Armada, we owe the foundation of our naval supremacy.
The next view of Stukely is on a stage that offered much promise to a man of enterprise, especially were he supported by influential friends, and capable of sustaining a brave part in political storms, namely, Ireland, often a wide cave of Adullam, to which men fled from debt and danger, and in which our adventurer had motives for seeking a livelihood. In the first place, he was kinsman to his subsequent fellow-conspirator, the celebrated traitor James Fitzmaurice, who was, at this time, lieutenant-chieftain over the Geraldine clan and vassals of the sixteenth Earl of Desmond during this rebellious nobleman's captivity. Thus connected, and “having wasted his patrimony by luxurious living,” as observed by a contemporary historiographer of this great house, he,“ hoping to repair his fortunes, addicted himself to the Desmonds." ' Another contemporary Gaelic writert says that Stukely, who was at one time regarded by the Irish Gäel as “the coming man” of their deliverance from the English yoke, was thought by some to be a son of Henry VIII. (whom he may have resembled in regal port and haughty manners), but that most believed him to have been born of an English knight by an Irish mother. This latter belief has been carried to the conjecture that the lady was daughter of a Kavanagh, titular king of Leinster, and is somewhat borne out by the fact that the titles our hero induced Pope Gregory XIII. to confer on him, of Viscount Kinshellagh, Earl of Carlow, Marquis of Leinster, &c., were such as an ambitious scion of that house would assume. Although this noted adventurer had many kinsfolk in the Green Isle, yet was no native of a land fertile in congenial characters, she may claim him as a denizen under the dictate of her papal master, who conferred so many of her fairest titles upon him, and lent him an armed band of Italians to support his claims. If really descended from Dermot na Gall, i.e. of foreigners, whom this king of Leinster imported to recover his kingdom, it must be confessed that our fox was no changeling, but had a wild trick of his ancestors.
Stukely's abilities as a plausible courtier, combined with his imposing appearance and bearing, soon put him on excellent terms with the government officers in Dublin Castle, who wrote, September, 1563, to the lords of the privy council, that they were employing him to negotiate with O'Neill, the formidable rebel chieftain of the north. Shane, the O'Neill, or king of his great Ultonian clan, is a far more notable personage than our Englishman, being the most exaggerated type of an Irish king on record. The fictitious character of “ Roderick Dhu" would sink into insignificance beside the truths that could be told of this
. Note to Wright's “ Elizabeth.”
† Philip O'Sulivan.
proud, crafty, brave, and vengeful Gäel. His soubriquet was Diomais, the ambitious, which he had earned by his strenuous endeavours to make himself king of Ulster. He could bring a large and dangerous force into the field, some seven or eight thousand horsemen, ferocious kernes, and stalwart galloglasses. During his defensive war, his hardihood and valour had extorted warm admiration from his assailants, the English military commanders; and during any halcyon day his disturbed dynasty knew, no Sassenach dared venture, even in peaceful guise, without his permission, into Ulster, for he had made this great province his terra clausa. He was devoted tam Bacchi et Veneri quam Marti, being used to qualify deep potations of foreign wines with draughts of native spirits, sometimes so copiously as to find it requisite to be plunged to the neck in sand, anticipating, in this recipe, the earth-bath of modern empirics. This mighty toper carried off, in 1561, the second spouse of his wife's father, with her concurrence, and was glad to retain the lady, a widow of an Earl of Argyle, but still young and charming, besides being accomplished, " a speaker of good French and some Italian, and not unlearned in Latin." In that year, the subtle rebel had foiled Lord Sussex’s armed attempt to rescue the countess, by removing and hiding her in one island or another in his lake-abounding territory; so that the delicate question of this agreeable and cherished companion's release may have formed one object of our ambassador's mission.
Stukely's temporary employment as envoy to the barbarous throne of this Celtic king of a wilderness does not at first appear to have relieved the exhaustion of his purse and exiguity of his wardrobe, since they must have sunk to a low ebb when he wrote, on the 22nd of April, 1565, from Dublin, to his patron, the secretary of state, that "little is left to him but his honesty."* Yet, although he now sued for favour in forma pauperis, we are willing to wager our best beaver that the gallant, once a glass of fashion to broken Templars in “ Alsatia," did not wear, even in the Hibernian metropolis, the outward appearance of a battered prodigal, “ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth," but was still a Dives at dinner and in fine linen. So completely had the English courtier conciliated the prince of the northern Gäel, that, in the month of June, he induced the Irish “king” to address three epistles, written in the Latin language, in his favour: one to the queen, in his praise, and the rest to the Earl of Leicester and Secretary Cecil, requesting that her majesty would be graciously pleased to pardon him. Lucklessly, however, for the object of this intercession, another king, of more political weight, Philip of Spain, caused his ambassador to lay a formal complaint against our hero for piracy. Doubtless, the intercessory letters were intended as a timely fender off from the brunt of this charge. Accusations accumulating against our rover, the lord justice, Sir Nicholas Arnold, was ordered to institute inquiries, and, in reply, reported he could not learn that Stukely had committed any act of piracy on the Irish coast; but, having heard how completely the adventurer had ingratiated himself by his liberality and courtesy, whilst in the north, with O'Neill, and, when in the south, with certain recusant lords and chieftains, Arnold declared he considered this accomplished diplomat “as well able as any man" to
* MS., State Paper-office.
serve government in dealing with these rebelliously inclined potentates.* As bearer of this propitiatory despatch and a special commendation to Cecil, the accused proceeded to London, and, after some months' sojourn, having perhaps exculpated himself, and earned favour by his political intelligence, returned to the troubled scene of his mediatorship with a recommendatory missive from the minister to the new viceroy, the excellent Sir Henry Sydney, who soon availed himself of our courtier's talent for diplomacy, by despatching him into the north to negotiate again with his rebel friend." The special object of this mission was to prevent a threatened coalition of O'Neill with the Earl of Argyle, who had promised to come over in person, and, with his whole power as Mac Ailen More, aid defensive operations. Our gay gallant, gorgeously attired, and with an air of high polish, must have presented a strong contrast to an envoy lately sent by the Irish chief to his Scots brother, a certain “rough, rug-headed kerne,” whose personal appearance so amused Mac Ailen More that he took him with him to the court at Edinburgh “ to show the monstrous glibbe," or bush of hair, “ he wore upon his head.” Tom Stukely, who, though he may have now and then stooped to run down a prize at sea, always flaunted and rustled in silken braveries on land, being, indeed, one of the curled darlings” of the age, suddenly proved, while in the north, that, whatever amount of honesty remained with him, he also possessed an unaccountably large sum of money, for he bargained to pay three thousand pounds, equivalent to twentyfold now, for a certain office and estate, to their owner, Sir Nicholas Bagenal, father of the “ brave marshal” celebrated in “ Rokeby,” and whose ill neighbourhood to warlike savages rendered his lands untenable. The post our enterpriser agreed to purchase was a high, courtly, and military office, no other than the marshalship of the vice-regal household, a function including, by ancient usage, the marshalship of the army. Installed in such a ceremonial and martial station, which Sydney was perfectly willing to confirm to him, and once in possession of the estate, which included the town of Newry, the key to the north, our adventurer would have found himself in clover and on velvet. But, miserably mal à propos ! a contretemps prevented the transfer from taking place, in the shapes of a letter, announcing the queen's dissatisfaction, and an order for his appearance in the Admiralty Court. These were quickly followed by an expression of her majesty's offence at the tone of a vindicatory letter he had written, and at the fact of his receiving any employment, with a reiteration of the command that he should return to England, in these words:
“We find it strange that Thomas Stukely should be used there in any service in such credit as we perceive he is, considering the general discredit wherein he remaineth not only in our own realm, but also in other countries, for such matters as he has been charged withall; whereunto, also, he yet remaineth by bond with sureties answerable in our court of the Admiraltie, according as of late, upon supplication of his sureties, we wrote to you that he should return home to answer in our said court."
So peremptory a royal command was not to be disobeyed. Sydney
* State Paper-office.
writes, 17th of April, 1566, to Secretary Cecil, in these strong terms of recommendation :
“ I pity Mr. Stukely, as you do; and now he repaireth to England. He hoped to have settled here (in Ireland), being well allied to dyvers noblemen here, and in great towardness to marry the Earl of Worcester's sister. If any good come of the intelligence of O'Neill's intention, Stukely is to be thanked for it. And for the weight of the office which I recommended him to (only by my particular letters to you, my Lord of Pembroke, and my Lord of Leicester, from all which I had before received very favourable letters in his behalf), such it is as heretofore, the marshall of the lord deputy's (viceroy's) hall was marshall of the army. And the office was, and is, of the deputy's gift. The bargain for the land, as in my other letters I writ, was made between Bagenal and him before I knew of it; and that beinge his, I knowe, noe man, if the queen would have
peace with O'Neill, that better could please him, nor no man, if her highness would have war, that more would annoy him ; and this moved me to consent to it, and yet I neither desire it, nor persuade it."*
Such was this excellent statesman's opinion of our hero, as to lead him, during the height of O'Neill's career, to commit to Stout Stukely's neighbourly and warlike qualities the task of managing that restive subject. The “very favourable” recommendations Stukely received from such great lords as the above mentioned show that he was by no means without honour in his own country. By the forwardness of his suit to one of the Ladies Somerset, it must have been that he was sometime a widower; but he had now trespassed too far into the queen's displeasure to succeed as a suitor either for office or a noble alliance.
An humbler yet more hopeful chance of retrieving his fortunes by marriage presented itself. One Peppard, an Anglo-Irish squire, who possessed a crown lease for twenty-one years of all gold, silver, lead, and copper mines in the county of 'Wexford, having died in October, 1565, his widow became the holder of this legal instrument for a realisation of riches, such as Stukely may have sanguinely looked for without the intervention of any Dousterswivel. The lady, determining to proceed to London to advance her suit at court for an extension of the lease, obtained from the viceroy, on the 23rd of June following, a letter of introduction to Cecil, requesting the minister “to graunt his good word and expedition to Mistress (Elizabeth) Peppard, in respect of her years and unaptness to so great a travail
, or to become a suitor at that place.” Doubtless, the lady was successful at court, for it was on her return that our gallant (who may have had a taste for mineralogy) commenced his courtship and succeeded in his suit. Neither ballads nor prose shed any light on the married life of the ill-assorted couple. To conjecture, this second venture with an elderly dame, and whilst our rover was young enough, as we shall see by-and-by, to entertain romantic passions for the sex, was not felicitous, since the alluring mines of his present mistress did pot work out their promise of proving an Eldorado. “Don't talk to me,” he
may have said to this spouse, “ of your gold or silver, or even of your lead or copper. My first wife inade no boast of mineral wealth ; nor
* Collins's Sydney Memoirs, i. 10.
when her tin was gone was she such an encumbrance !" “ Mistress Elizabeth,” aged as she was, survived him, and obtained a considerable lease of crown lands from her royal namesake, * who, perhaps, compassionated her loss of the first lease-but not that of her last husband. Peppard's Castle, her residence-celebrated in the dramatised story of “ The White Horse of the Peppards,” as the scene of a series of mystifications and maltreatments of a grantee, who consequently sold his right for a horse, on which he rode away from this place of torment—this bleak tower, we imagine, hardly required the misery of concerted malevolence on the part of the old inhabitants to render its antique discomforts odious to our Sybarite.
Still, this tower, standing, as it did and does, on a cliff commanding sight of any coasters to and from the Irish metropolis, possessed a higher attraction than its mistress in the eyes of her corsair spouse. Her Conrad had, probably, grown too weary to embark in guilty quest of maritime fortune, yet allowed himself to purchase ill-gotten marine stores.
“ Here hath been lately exhibited unto us a complaint," writes the queen again, to Sir Henry Sydney, on the 6th July, 1567, “by certain subjects of our brother, the King of Spayne, inhabitants of the Low Countries, against Edward Cooke, of Southampton, a pyrat, who, they alledge, invaded them by sea and took their goods, being hides and skins brought from the Indies, and a great sum of money, and, carrying the same into Ireland, have made sale to Stewkley thereof, which they require to be redressed. And so, if it be true that Stewkley hath bought a part thereof, we charge you to give straight order that the same goods be furthcoming, to be answered where justice shall permit. And surely we marvel that Stewkley would have such boldnes as to deal with pyrates, or with their prises.”+
We must now take a brief retrospect. Disappointed in purchasing an estate in the north, and the courtly post he coveted, our adventurer had turned his eye for office southward, and again exhibited an earnest endeavour to live and thrive among the highest. Ever fertile in resources, he had obtained, by private bargain, the valuable office of "seneschal," or steward, of the palatinate county in which he resided, an important financial and military station, which included the government of the Leinster clans. But lo! for the second time he was foiled by the lasting indignation of the queen, who would not suffer a man of such tarnished reputation to occupy a political post in her dominions. At her command, the secretary of state wrote, 10th July, 1567 : “Her majesty mislikes that Stukely should have any office in Ireland.” Despite this expression of the royal displeasure, the bold office-holder retained possession for a twelvemonth and more, since it was not until November, 1568, that he was superseded. On this occasion, Viceroy Sydney writes thus strongly and favourably to Cecil : My other letters declare my devotion to Thomas Stukely, your poor repentant follower, I am sure, from his heart, for otherwise he could not enjoy my good countenance. But since I now see that her majesty cannot allow of his service, I must be sorry for his undoing, and cease my suit." I * Patent Rolls.
† State Paper-office. I Collins's Sydney Letters, vol. i.