The Holinshed Project

Holinshed Project Home

The Texts

Previous | Next

1.8. The disposition and maners of the meere Irish, commonlie called the wild Irish. The eight chapter.

The disposition and maners of the meere Irish, commonlie called the wild Irish. The eight chapter.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 _BEfore I attempt the vn|folding of the maners of the meere Irish, I thinke it ex|pedient, to forewarne thée reader, not to impute anie barbarous custome that shall be here laid downe, to the ci|tizens, townesmen, and in|habitants of the English pale, in that they differ litle or nothing from the ancient customes and dispositi|ons of their progenitors, the English and Welsh men, being therefore as mortallie behated of the I|rish, as those that are borne in England. For the Irish gen|t [...]. Irish man standeth so much vpon his gentilitie, that he termeth anie one of the English sept, and planted in Ireland, Bobdeagh Galteagh, that is, English churle: but if he be an Englishman borne, then he nameth him, Bobdeagh Saxonnegh, that is, a Sax|on churle: so that both are churles, and he the onelie gentleman. And there vpon if the basest pezzant of them name himselfe with his superior, he will be sure to place himselfe first, as I and Oneile, I and you, I and he, I and my master, whereas the cour|tesie of the English language is cleane contrarie.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 The people are thus inclined, religious, franke, a|morous, The inclina|tion of the people. [...]refull, sufferable of infinit paines, verie glorious, manie sorcerers, excellent horssemen, de|lighted with wars, great almesgiuers, passing in hospitalitie. The lewder sort, both clearkes and laie men are sensuall and ouer loose in liuing. The same being vertuouslie bred vp or reformed, are such mir|rors of holinesse and austeritie, that other nations reteine but a shadow of deuotion in comparison of them. As for abstinence and fasting, it is to them a familiar kind of chastisement. They follow the dead corpse to the graue with bowling and barbarous outeries, pitifull in apparance: whereof grew, as I To wéepe Irish. suppose, the prouerbe; To wéepe Irish.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 Gréedie of praise they be, & fearefull of dishonor, and to this end they estéeme their poets, who write Poets est [...]med. Irish learnedlie, and pen their sonets he [...]call. for the which they are bountifullie rewarded; if not, they send out libels in dispraise, whereof the lords and gentlemen stand in great awe. They loue tenderlie their foster children, and bequeath to them a childes Foster children. portion, whereby they nourish sure friendship: so be|neficiall euerie waie, that commonlie fiue hundred cowes and better, are giuen in reward to win a no|ble mans child to foster, they loue & trust their foster brethren more than their owne. The men are cleane The stature of the people. of [...] and hew, of stature tall. The women are well fauoured, cleane coloured, faire hearted, big & large, suffered from their infancie to grew at will, no|thing curious of their feature and proportion of bodie.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 3 Their infants, they of meaner sort, are neither Infants. swadled nor lawed in linnen, but folded vp starke naked in a blanket till they can go. Proud they are of long crisped bushes of heare which they terme g [...]bs, and the same they nourish with all their cunning, to [...]. crop the front thereof they take it for a notable péece EEBO page image 45 of villanie. Water cresses, which they tearme sham|rocks, roots and other herbs they féed vpon, otemeale [...] [...]t. and butter they cram togither, they drinke wheie, milke, and beefe-broth. Flesh they deuoure without bread, and that halfe raw: the rest boileth in their sto|machs with Aqua vitae, which they swill in after such a surfet by quarts and pottels: they let their cowes bloud, which growne to a gellie, they bake and ouer|spread with butter, and so eate it in lumps. No meat they fansie so much as porke, and the fatter the bet|ter. Portie. One of Iohn Onels houshold demanded of his fellow whether béefe we re better than porke? That (quoth the other) is as intricat a question, as to aske whether thou art better than Onele.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Their noble men, and noble mens tenants, now and then make a set feast, which they call coshering, wher|to Coshering. followers. flocke all their reteiners, whom they name follo|wers, their rithmours, their bards, their harpers that féed them with musike: and when the harper twangeth or singeth a song, all the companie must be whist, or else he chafeth like a cutpursse, by reason his harmonie is not had in better price. In their coshering they sit on straw, they are serued on straw, and lie vpon mattresses and pallets of straw. The antiquitie of this kind of feasting is set foorth by Lib. pri. Aen. circa finem. Virgil, where Dido interteineth the Troian prince and his companie. They obserue diuerse degrées, ac|cording to which each man is regarded. The basest sort among them are little yoong wags, called Dal|tins, these are lackies, and are seruiceable to the Daltin. Groome. groomes or horsseboies, who are a degrée aboue the Daltins. Of the third degrée is the Kerne, who is an ordinarie souldior, vsing for weapon his sword and target, and sometimes his péece, being commonlie Kerne. so good markemen as they will come within a score of a great castell. Kerne signifieth (as noble men of Kigheiren. deepe iudgement informed me) a shower of hell, be|cause they are taken for no better than for rakehels, or the diuels blacke gard, by reason of the stinking sturre they kéepe, wheresoeuer they be.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 3 The fourth degrée is a galloglasse, vsing a kind of pollar for his weapon. These men are commonlie Galloglasse. weieward rather by profession than by nature, grim of countenance, tall of stature, big of lim, burlie of bodie, well and stronglie timbered, chieflie féeding on béefe, porke & butter. The fift degrée is to be an horsse|man, which is the chiefest next the lord and capteine. Horsseman. These horssemen, when they haue no staie of their owne, gad & range from house to house like arrant knights of the round table, and they neuer dismount vntill they ride into the hall, and as farre as the table. There is among them a brotherhood of karrowes, Karrow. that proffer to plaie at cards all the yéare long, and make it their onelie occupation. They plaie awaie mantle and all to the bare skin, and then trusse them|selues in straw or leaues, they wait for passengers in the high waie, inuite them to game vpon the gréene, and aske no more but companions to make them sport. For default of other stuffe, they pawne their glibs, the nailes of their fingers and toes, their dimissaries, which they léese or redéeme at the courte|sie of the winner.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 One office in the house of noble men is a tale|teller, who bringeth his lord asléepe with tales vaine A taleteller. and friuolous, wherevnto the number giue sooth and credit. Without either precepts or obseruations of congruitie, they speake Latine like a vulgar lan|guage, Latin spoken as a vulgar language. learned in their common schooles of leach|craft and law, whereat they begin children, and hold on sixtéene or twentie yeares, conning by rote the aphorismes of Hippocrates, and the ciuill institutes, with a few other parings of those faculties. In their schooles they groouell vpon couches of straw, their bookes at their noses, themselues lie flat prostrate, and so they chant out with a lowd voice their lessons by péecemeale, repeating two or three words thirtie or fortie times togither. Other lawyers they haue lia|ble to certeine families, which after the custome of the countrie determine and iudge causes. These con|sider of wrongs offered and receiued among their neighbors: be it murther, felonie, or trespasse, all is remedied by composition (except the grudge of par|ties séeke reuenge) and the time they haue to spare from spoiling and preiding, they lightlie bestow in parling about such matters. The Breighon (so they Breighon. call this kind of lawyers) sitteth on a banke, the lords and gentlemen at variance round about him, and then they procéed. To rob and spoile their enimies they déeme it none offense, nor seeke anie meanes to recouer their losse, but euen to watch them the like turne. But if neighbors & friends send their puruei|ors to purloine one another, such actions are iudged by the Breighons aforesaid. They honour and reue|rence Religious fauoured. friers and pilgrims, by suffering them to passe quietlie, and by sparing their mansions, whatsoeuer outrage they shew to the countrie besides them. The like fauor doo they extend to their poets & rithmours.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 3 In old time they much abused the honorable state Matrimonie abused. of mariage, either in contracts vnlawfull, méeting the degrées of prohibition, or in diuorsements at pleasure, or in reteining concubines or harlots for wiues: yea euen at this daie, where the clergie is faint, they can be content to marrie for a yeare and a daie of probation; and at the years end, or anie time after, to returne hir home with hir mariage goods, or as much in valure, vpon light quarels, if the gentlewomans friends be vnable to reuenge the in|iurie. In like maner maie she for sake hir husband. In some corner of the land they vsed a damnable su|perstition, Superstition in baptisme. leauing the right armes of their infants vnchristened (as they tearme it) to the intent it might giue a more vngratious and deadlie blow. Others write that gentlemens children were baptised in Iohn Cai. li. 2. Cant. ant. milke, and the infants of poore folke in water, who had the better or rather the onelie choise. Diuerse o|ther vaine and execrable superstitions they obserue, that for a complet rec [...]all would require a seuerall volume. Whereto they are the more stiffelie wedded, Ireland who superstitious. bicause such single preachers as they haue, reprooue not in their sermons the péeuishnesse and fondnesse of these friuolous dreamers. But these and the like enormities haue taken so déepe root in that people, as commonlie a preacher is sooner by their naughtie liues corrupted, than their naughtie liues by his preaching amended.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 2 Againe, the verie English of birth, conuersant with the sauage sort of that people become degenerat, and as though they had tasted of Circes poisoned cup, are quite altered. Such force hath education to make or mar. God with the beams of his grace clarifie the eies of that rude people, that at length they maie see their miserable estate: and also that such as are depu|ted to the gouernement thereof, bend their industrie with conscionable policie to reduce them from rude|nes to knowledge, from rebellion to obedience, from trecherie to honestie, from sauagenesse to ciuilitie, from idlenesse to labour, from wickednesse to godli|nesse, whereby they maie the sooner espie their blind|nesse, acknowledge their loosenes, amend their liues, frame themselues pliable to the lawes and ordinan|ces of hir maiestie, whome God with his gratious assistance preserue, aswell to the prosperous gouern|ment of hir realme of England, as to the happie re|formation of hir realme of Ireland.


Previous | Next