Billeder på siden

wished to blacken him as faithless and disloyal, and to gratify their jealousy by thwarting his measures, certain it is that many had no sooner laid down their arms, than they were murdered defenceless, and in one instance particularly, the massacre of Glencoe was acted over on the Curragh of Kildare.---(See Appendix No. II.)

It was but justice, however, to this nobleman, to relate one instance in which he asserted his dignity with true energy. Two yeomen, so they called themselves, had gone to the house of a poor widow, whilst one guarded the door, the other went in, dragged a young boy from his sick bed, and in contempt even of a protection which he had received from the government, shot the son in the arms of his mother. The culprit, on his trial, avowed the fact; and audaciously called upon several officers to justify him under military orders, and to depose upon their oaths that what he did was his duty. And in their sense so it certainly was,and he was readily acquitted. But Lord Cornwallis saw it differently, and ordered his disapprobation of the sentence to be read in open court, to Lord Enniskellen the president, and the other officers composing the court martial ; disqualifying them forever from setting on any other court martial, and the yeomen from ever serving the king. And this, as it was strongly stated, in his order published officially in the news-papers, for having acquitted, without any pretext, a man guilty upon the clearest and uncontradicted evidence of a wilful and deliberate murder.Perhaps you will wonder that I should state this fact as any thing extraordinary : you will be surprised, possibly, to hear, that any country, where the British constitution was professed, should be in such a state of wretchedness, that an act of justice, no stronger than the punishment of murder and misprison by a reprimand, should excite furious animosity on one side, and transports of admiration on the other. But so long had the reign of terror lasted, that the very mention of bringing any of this faction to justice, was looked upon by the rest, as an insolent encroachment upon their murderous prerogatives. Nor would this story have been ever known either to Lord Cornwallis or the public, more than to thousands of others buried with the victims in the grave, had it not been for the accidental protection afforded to this poor widow by a lady of fortune and fashion-Mis. Latoucher




AFTER several months of cruel and secret imprisonment, a Mr. Crawford, an attorney, was first permitted to break the spell of solitude, and enter my prison door. This gentleman had been employed in the defence of Mr. Bond, Mr. Byrné, and others, for whose fate I was much interested, and on this title introduced himself to my confidence. He descanted with ability upon the excellent and benevolent views of the Marquis Cornwallis, so unlike his predecessors. He drew a strong picture of the uns happy state of the country, and proposed to me, as to one free from even the pretence of accusation ; but one, he was pleased to say, whose character might inspire confidence, to become the instrument of a pacification, and to promote a reconciliation between the government and the state prisoners; which could not fail, he said, to end in the general good of the people, and save the lives of

thousands. I, though neither chief nor leader of a party, nor in any way connected with responsibility, was yet too warm a friend to the peace and union of my country, and to general humanity, to be inaccessible to such a proposition. But I little thought my compliance was to lead to all the injuries and atrocities I have since been loaded with. I confined myself, however, to advising this gentleman rather to apply to some person more marking in politics than me, who might have more lead among the people, and more knowledge of their feelings or intentions. Mr. Crawford upon this obtained leave for Mr. Arthur O'Connor, then in secret in another part of the prison, to come to speak with me, which he did at my request; but at this time refused taking any step. Nor did I ever meddle further in the business, than to recommend conciliation between the parties, and to entreat my kinsman, Mr. Dobbs, a member of the




then parliament, to accept of the office of mediator, merely because I knew him to be of a mild and benevolent disposition, and this was the actual commencement of that treaty so remarkable in itself and so strangely violated.

It is foreign to my purpose to say by what steps the negociation proceeded ; further than as a well-wisher to peace and humanity, it was considered by nobody to be any concern of mine. But I was for some time induced by appearances to suppose, that good faith and good understanding prevailed between the mi-nisters and the people: and the day I was told was fixed for my enlargement, as one against whom no charge had ever been made.-Upwards of seventy prisoners, against whom no evidence appeared, had signed an act of self devotion, and peace was likely to be the result. There was so much courtesy, that I was more than once permitted to go out of the prison, where I had before been locked


in rigorous solitude, and to return on my word. And Mr. O'Connor, now in the Fort St. George in Scotland, a close prisoner, was once on his return from Kilmainham, where he had gone upon parole to see his fellow prisoners and colleagues in that negociation, challenged by the centinels, and refused admission. On one side, it

appears by this, there was as much good faith as there has been cruel perfidy on the other.

One day, as we were all together in the yard of the bridewell, it was announced, that the scaffold was erected for the execution of William Byrne; the preservation of whose life had been a principal mo


tive for the signature of many of the prisoners to the agreement abovementioned. We were all thunderstruck by such a piece of news : but I was the more affected when I learned, that Lord Cornwallis had been desirous of remitting the execution, but that the faction had overborne him in the council; and that the argument was, that the agreement was ineffective, inasmuch as Mr. O'Connor nor I had not signed it. In that moment I sent to Mr. Dobbs, to intreat that he would hurry to the Castle, and offer my signature, on condition that this execution should be suspended; but unhappily it was too late. The terrorists had surrounded the scaffold, and that brave youth was hurried, undaunted, to his death! This deed filled me with horror. I had never known any thing of William Byrne, until I had found means of conversing with him in our common prison. Through favor of Mr. Bush, once my friend, and then employed as his counsel, he obtained leave to consult with me on the subject of his trial ; and certainly whatever can be conceived of noble courage, and pure and perfect heroism, he possessed. His life was offered him, on condition that he would exculpate himself, at the expense of the reputation of the deceased Lord Edward Fitzgerald ; and the scorn with which he treated this offer, was truly noble. Go, says he, to the herald of that odious proposition, and tell the tempter that sent you, that I have known no man superior to him you would calumniate, nor none more base, than him who makes this offer. It is not necessary to be a partisan of Lord Edward Fitzgerald,

« ForrigeFortsæt »