From The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, by Rev. C. P. Meehan, second edition of which was published in 1870.
Using hitherto more than ordinary favour towards all my countrymen who generally by profession are Catholics, and that naturally I am inclined to affect [esteem] you, I have for these and other considerations abstained my forces from tempting to do you hindrance, and because I did expect that you would enter into consideration of the lamentable state of our poor country, most tyrannically oppressed, and of your own gentle consciences, in maintaining, relieving, and helping the enemies of God and our country, in wars infallibly tending to the promotion of heresy. But now seeing you are so obstinate in that which hereunto you continued of necessity, I must use severity against you (whom otherwise I most entirely love,) in reclaiming you by compulsion. My tolerance and happy victories, by God’s particular favour doubtless obtained, could work no alteration in your consciences, notwithstanding the great calamity and misery whereunto you are most likely to fall by persevering in that damnable state in which hereunto you have lived. Having commiseration on you, I thought it good to forewarn you, requesting every of you to come and join with me against the enemies of God and our poor country. If the same you do not, I will use means not only to spoil you of all your goods, but, according to the utmost of my power, shall work what I may to dispossess you of all your lands, because you are means whereby wars are maintained against the exaltation of the Catholic faith. Contrariwise, whosoever it shall be that shall join with me, upon my conscience, and as to the contrary I shall answer before God, I will employ myself to the utmost of my power in their defence, and for the extirpation of heresy, the planting of the Catholic religion, the delivery of our country of infinite murderers, wicked and detestable policies, by which this kingdom was hitherto governed; nourished in obscurity and ignorance, maintained in barbarity and incivility; and consequently of infinite evils which were too lamentable to be rehearsed. And seeing these are motives most laudable before any men of consideration, and before the Almighty most meritorious, which is chiefly to be respected, I thought myself in conscience bound, seeing God hath given me some power, to use all means for the reduction of this our poor afflicted country into the Catholic faith, which can never be brought to any good pass without either your destruction or helping hand; hereby protesting that I neither seek your lands nor goods; neither do I purpose to plant any in your places, if you will adjoin with me; but will extend what liberties and privileges that heretofore you have had, if it shall stand in my power, giving you to understand, upon my salvation, that chiefly and principally I fight for the Catholic faith to be planted throughout all our poor country, as well in cities as elsewhere, as manifestly might appear by that I rejected all other conditions proffered to me, this not being granted. I have already, by word of mouth, protested, and do now hereby protest, that if I had to be king of Ireland without having the Catholic religion, which before I mentioned, I would not the same accept. Take you example by that most Catholic country of France, whose subjects, for defect of Catholic faith, did go against their most natural king, and maintained wars till he was constrained to profess the Catholic religion, duly submitting himself to the apostolic see of Rome, to the which, doubtless, we may bring our country, you putting your helping hand with me to the same. As for myself, I protest before God, and upon my salvation, I have been proffered oftentimes such conditions as no man seeking his own private commodity could refuse; but I, seeking the public utility of my native country, will prosecute these wars until that generally religion be planted throughout all Ireland. So I rest, praying the Almighty to move your flinty hearts to prefer the commodity and profit of our country before your own private ends.
Dungannon, Nov. 16th, 1599.