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Mrs. Sampson-Correspondence-Mr. Merry.
AT length, in the month of December, for the first time, after a year's incertitude and silence, I received a letter from my wife, which brought me some consolation. She and her children were in good health. My bill had been paid, and this was an essential circumstance; as Mr. Forster had left no instructions to those who were charged in his absence with the business of his house, to advance me any further supply; and want again began to stare me in the face.
Mr. Dubourdieu, my brother-in-law had, upon hearing of my arrest in Portugal, written to the late marquis of Downshire, entreating him to apply to the duke of Portland for redress, which he did, and received a written answer, which he transmitted to my brother-in-law, that the duke of Portland, on account of the improper conduct and language of Mr. Sampson in Wales, could not interfere in his behalf !!! My sister also wrote to Mr. Wickam, who promised
to lay her letter before the duke of Portland, but could hold out no hopes of success, after the representations already made on the subject. And mý wife likewise wrote to this latter gentleman, but received no answer; and enclosed a letter with a request to have it forwarded to me, which it never was.
My sister also applied to Lord Castlereagh, through one of the ladies of his family, but with no better effect : for he answered, that I was accused of attempting to corrupt the minds of some people in a fishing town in Wales, where I was wrecked.—If : there be facts in nature, which are beyond all comment, or which stand in need of none, these are they. When it is considered that I was at this time to pass through the secret dungeons of the inquisition, from which the issue is not easy : when it is considered that I had, through reliance on the good faith of the government; of the king, lords and commons of Ireland; delivered myself up into their hands : that I had, for my entire protection and guarantee, the passports of those very ministers, who were in every sense bound to be my protectors, if any tie of honor, or any notion of those principles upon which society can alone be supported, and which are sacred even among barbarians remained ; then let me ask upon what ground the English government now stands? or what it is that secures the liberty, the property, or the person
individual ? Why shall not what has been practised against me, be practised against others ? Before I condescended to make
any agreement, I was locked up in solitude for many months,
in vain demanding a trial. My servant had been tortured in vain to extort an accusation against me. And when I, relying upon Lord Cornwallis, consented to terms from motives too pure to be discussed with such men, those terms had been most basely and most falsely violated. At first, I was suspected of treasonable practices, because I would have resisted murder and torture: for I defy any man to name any other treason I have committed. And again, I was accused with corrupting the people of a country, where
misfortuneś and a cruel persecution had driven me, and where I never had any communication that could give the slightest sanction to such a charge. The day may come, when the measure of these crimes may be full and run over. My character has triumphed over every attack. Alas, what would my enemies appear, were they put to their defence ! Perhaps that moment when oppressed and insulted humanity may recalcitrate, is not far off: until then the enemies of England may triumph in her abject state. It is every thing that her enemies can wish; and they need by no means despair to see the same manacles, the same bloody whips, and instruments of torture, the use of which has been indemnified in Ireland; used also, and indemnified in England. Oh fallen Englishmen! when you could bear to hear of indemnified torture in Ireland, you were from that moment prepared for the yoke yourselves. The bul-warks of your liberty, generosity, and honesty, were gone. It was but a small step to make; and torture, it will be argued, is not an unfit regimen for those
who can consent to the torture of their fellow-men, But let me return from this unprofitable digression, and hasten to conclude a story, too pregnant with disagreeable conclusions.
My wife, after a great length of time, wrote to the duke of Portland a letter, which it is right I should transcribe. It will be for him, whose heart is not lost to virtue, and whose best feelings are not drowned in the habitual profligacy of the times, to appreciate her sorrows, and my wrongs.
To his Grace the Duke of Portland, &c. &c. &c.
The situation of my husband and children urge me, though obscure and unknown, to encroach a moment on your Grace's patience ; and misfortune and misery are the only apologies I have to offer for this intrusion. In October, 1798, Lord Cornwallis permitted Mr. Sampson to leave the Irish prison, where he was detained six months, without an accusation or trial, and sailed for Lisbon, his health being greatly impaired. This was intended for an indulgence; and no other of the prisoners having been treated in the same manner, we were considered to be very much favored. But he was soon after arrested at Oporto; the cause of which we have never yet been able to discover. And after being long and rigorously imprisoned, he was sent by force from Lis
bon, and landed at Bordeaux ; where he was detained as being a British subject, travelling with your Grace's passport. But supposing he were permitted by the French to return, the nature of his sureties, on leaving Dublin, prevent his returning to Ireland, without permission from the English government. When he was imprisoned, and afterwards compelled to leave Portugal, and sent forceably to Bordeaux, Mr. Walpole was ambassador at Lisbon and I should hope, that, by referring to him, your Grace might hear the truth ; although he may not have known all that
husband suffered. Could I hope, that moved by compassion towards me and my little helpless children, you would restore him to his liberty and family; or if this be at present too great a favor to expect, may I hope, that your Grace would permit the enclosed letter to be sent to Mr. Sampson, through the medium of your office, to the agent for British prisoners in France ? and to allow me to receive his answers ? Even this would confer an everlasting obligation on your Grace's
Belfast, March 10, 1800.
To this letter the following answer was returned :