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The castle of Redbay, whose ruins now present very
little to interest the traveller, at one time was a garrison of considerable strength; it was built by order of Queen Elizabeth, to keep some of the clans, particularly the Macaulay's of the Glens, in check, who often set her authority at defi
It was commanded at one time by an ancestor of the Reverend Alexander Macaulay of Glenville, who was a Major in Charles the Second's army.
It may be supposed that I have overstrained the character of this inhuman and execrable monster, Colonel Kirke, who, as it is said by oral history, presided at a massacre
in Glenarriff little inferior to that of Glenco. But the cruelties he exercised upon his wretched victims at the suppression of the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, in the reign of James the Second, as recorded by Hume, (a few of which I shall insert here,) will serve to show that I have not blackened him more than he deserved :
“ This victory, obtained by the King in the commencement of his reign, would naturally, had it been managed with prudence, have tended much to increase bis power and authority. But by reason of the cruelty with which it was prosecuted, and the temerity with which it afterwards inspired him, it was a principal cause of his sudden ruin and downfall. Such arbitrary principles had the Court instilled into all its servants, that Feversham, immediately after the victory, hanged above twenty prisoners, and was proceeding in his executions, when the Bishop of Bath and Wells warned him that these unhappy men were now by law entitled to a trial, and that their execution would be deemed a real murder. This remonstrance, however, did not stop the savage nature of Colonel Kirke, a soldier of fortune, who had served a long time at Tangiers, and had contracted, from his intercourse with the Moors, an inhumanity less known in European and in free countries. At his first entry into Bridgewater, he hanged nineteen prisoners, without the least inquiry into the merits of their cause.
“ As if to make sport with death, he ordered a certain number to be executed while he and his
should drink the King's health or the Queen's, or that of Chief Justice Jefferies. Observing their feet to quiver in the agonies of death, he cried that he would give them music to their dancing; and he immediately commanded the drums to beat and the trumpets to sound. By way of experiment, he ordered one man to be hung up three times, questioning him at each interval whether he repented of his crime; but the man obstinately asserting that notwithstanding the past he still would willingly engage in the same cause, Kirke ordered him to be hung in chains.
“ One story commonly told of him is memorable for the treachery as well as barbarity which attended it. A young maid pleaded for the life of her brother, and Aung herself at Kirke's feet, armed with all the charms which beauty and innocence, bathed in tears, could bestow upon her. The tyrant was inflamed with desire, not softened into love or clemency. He promised to grant her request, provided that she, in her turn, would be equally compliant to him. The maid yielded to the conditions: but after she had passed the night with him, the wanton savage, next morning, showed her from the window her brother, the darling object for whom she had sacrificed her virtue, hanging on a gibbet which he had secretly ordered to be there erected for the execution. Rage and despair and indignation took possession of her mind, and deprived her
for ever of her senses.
“ All the inhabitants of that country, innocent as well as guilty, were exposed to the ravages of this barbarian. The soldiery were let loose to live at free quarters; and his own regiment, instructed by his example, and encouraged by his exhortations, distinguished themselves in a particular manner by their outrages. By way of pleasantry, he used to call them bis lambs ; an appellation which was long remembered with horror in the West of England.”— (History of England.)
Note 12, Page 127, STANZA LXXXI.
E'en the rude soldiers dropp'd a pitying tear,
I think the probability is, that Kirke's lambs were too depraved to betray such symptoms of humanity as to drop a pitying tear, although humanity is the characteristic of a soldier, and particularly a British one; the idea, how
ever, was suggested to me by Hume's telling us that the night of the massacre of Glenco, Macdonald's sons, who had suspected some treachery from seeing the guards doubled, went forth privately to make further observations, and overheard the common soldiers say " they liked not the work; that though they would have willingly fought the Macdonalds of the Glen fairly in the field, they held it base to murder them in cold blood, but that their officers were answerable for the treachery."-(History of England.)
Note 13, PAGE 128, STANZA LXXXII.
A fiend he seem'd of that infernal brood,
66 The monster War, witla her infernal brood,
Loud yelling Fury and life-ending Pain,
Tragedy of Douglas.
Stuart & Gregg, Printers.