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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/217

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O'Neill
O'Neill
211

demands, submitted about this time, and was liberated, on condition that he surrendered Lifford, together with his claim to the overlordship of Inishowen, and paid a heavy ransom. But O'Donnell, instead of fulfilling his part of the bargain, appealed to the government for assistance, and Shane was obliged to enforce his demands with the sword. He managed to get hold of Con O'Donnell, Calvagh's eldest son, and shortly afterwards captured Lifford. For some time past Shane had regarded the encroachment of the Scottish settlers on the Antrim coast with distrust. The growth of a strong independent power in that quarter would, he felt, prove fatal to his design of extending his dominion over the whole of Ulster, and he was therefore anxious to take advantage of his truce with the government to expel the intruders. A letter from Lord Robert Dudley, urging him to do something to merit the queen's favour, arrived opportunely, and Shane naïvely replied that he knew of no better service he could render than to expel her majesty's enemies the Scots. His intention was applauded by the government, and in September he attacked the Scots under Sorley Boy MacDonnell [q. v.] in the neighbourhood of Coleraine. Neither side could claim the victory, but Shane was able to point to it as an earnest of his good intentions. Shortly after Easter in the following year, 1565, he again invaded Clandeboye, and proceeding from Edenduff Carrick northward by way of Broughshane and Clogh, he destroyed almost every trace of the Scottish settlements along the Antrim coast. On 2 May he encountered the MacDonnells in the neighbourhood of Ballycastle. Outnumbering his enemies by more than two to one, he gained a complete and bloody victory. Among his prisoners were James MacDonnell and his brother, Sorley Boy.

His victory caused a great sensation, and produced a feeling something akin to consternation in government circles, especially when it was known that he had already commenced colonising those parts with his own people. Master of the north, he was less inclined than ever to treat with Elizabeth except on equal terms. It was clear that Sir Nicholas Arnold's policy of setting the Irish by the ears was producing disastrous results, and in June Elizabeth had made up her mind to entrust the government of Ireland to Sir Henry Sidney [q. v.] It was not till January 1566 that he landed at Dublin. Notifying Shane of his arrival, he called on him to appoint a parley at Drogheda or Dundalk. Shane replied by fixing a meeting at Dundalk on 5 Feb. The date was inconvenient to Sidney, and Shane, either knowing it to be so, or because he had thought better of it, refused to meet him at all until the peace concluded with Cusack at Drumcree on 11 Sept. 1563 was confirmed, and his additional petitions, including the hand of Sussex's sister, were granted. He reminded the deputy of Sussex's treacherous behaviour towards him, and of the frequent attempts made to assassinate him. He knew Sidney's ‘sweetness and readiness for all good things,’ but his ‘timorous and distrustful people’ would not, he declared, suffer him to run the risk. He eventually condescended to offer to meet the deputy in the open fields, and Sidney, though he thought proper to decline the proposal as incompatible with the dignity of the crown, promised to send commissioners to the borders to treat for a ratification of Cusack's peace.

But to Leicester, Sidney opened his mind more freely. ‘I believe,’ he wrote, ‘Lucifer was never puft vp wth more pryde nor ambytyon than that Onele ys.’ Far from being sorry for his rebellious behaviour, he had told the commissioners that ‘if yt wear to do agayn I would do yt, for my ancestorys wear kyngys of Vlster, and Vlster was thearys, and Vlster ys myne, and shalbe myne.’ ‘He contynually kepyth 600 armed men, as it wear his Janyzery about hym; he ys able to bring to the field a thousand horsmen and 4,000 footmen; he hath alredy in Dundrum, as I am credybly aduertysed 200 toon of wyne and mutch more he lokyth for; he ys the only strong man of Ireland; hys cuntre was neuer so rytch nor so inhabyted; he armyth and weaponnyth all the peasantes of his cuntre, the fyrst that ever so dyd of an Iryshman; he hath agentys contynually in the coor of Scotland and wth dyuers potentates of the Irysh Scottes.’ ‘Trust me, my lord,’ Sidney concluded, ‘he ys able if he wyll to burn and spoyle to dublyn gates and go away vnfoght.’ Sidney's letter was submitted to the queen, and afterwards laid before the privy council. Every one, Cecil wrote, was inclined to the extirpation of the proud rebel, and the queen, perhaps with a view to minimise the expenditure, proposed to send over Sir Francis Knollys [q. v.] to consult with Sidney as to the best course to pursue. Knollys arrived in April, and confirmed Sidney's proposal for a winter campaign. After some hesitation Elizabeth yielded her consent, and preparations were made for Shane's extirpation.

Meanwhile Shane, thinking, in the insolence of his pride, that Elizabeth, because she hesitated to strike, was really afraid to do so, had been busily intriguing in support of Mary