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12. British Colonial Expansion Westwards: Ireland and America

Andrew Hadfield


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In 1599 a handsome and carefully transcribed manuscript was presented to Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, providing extensive details of the current state of Ireland. “The Dialogue of Silvanus and Peregrine,” written by H. C. – possibly Henry Chetttle (1560?-1607), dramatist, poet, pamphleteer, and, assuming the attribution is correct, spy – is principally important as a record of the course of the Nine Years War (1594–1603), providing especially important details of the situation in County Offaly ( Morgan and Nicholls 2003 ; Jenkins 1934 ; Morgan 1993 ). The dialogue takes its place as one of a number of lengthy works written by English colonists who had settled on the Munster Plantation in southwest Ireland in the late 1580s and early 1590s, most significantly, Edmund Spenser's notorious A View of the Present State of Ireland (ca. 1596), on which H. C.'s text is quite clearly modeled, as the use of the names of Spenser's two sons indicates ( McCarthy-Morrogh 1986 ; Spenser 1997 ). Having had his two protagonists provide a wealth of detail which will enable the authorities to plan a military conquest of the island, H. C. turns his attention in the last few leaves to his proposed other solutions for the restoration of civil order in Ireland. A key part of H. C.'s strategy is based on his observations of the Munster Plantation and the ways in which that settlement had ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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