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From the time these letters were written, until the latter end of March, I remained without taking any step, in a state of suspense and anxiety. To go from that to America, and leave my family in a strange country, under all the circumstances, was a painful step to take. Not to receive even an answer from those whose friendship I thought due to me, was vexatious enough. My affairs were not arranged for an emigration for life: in short, my enemies had
very good opportunity of glutting their malice ; for I was surrounded with their spies, of whom they have numbers every where, but more and more mischievous ones in Hamburg than in most places.
A circumstance now occurs to me, which I shall impart, from the desire I have to lay my whole conduct and proceedings open to your view.
An election took place for members of parliament in the latter end of the summer of 1805. I was then at Altona. I do not exactly recollect the date, nor is it worth while to torment myself in searching for it. I have not time to bestow upon useless minutiæ, or difficies nuga. It was, however, some time before my friends came into power, that I wrote to a gentleman nearly connected with me; pointing out to him, that perhaps this occurrence might afford an opportunity of buying my liberty. You know, and every body knows, how, elections are carried on in England, and still more in Ireland.
How one buyer will bid above another, as at an auction, and as in the days of the Saturnalia, the slaves are set free, so here were the days of the Irish Saturnalia come
round. I suggested in this letter, that in a competition of this kind, it might be possible to use the combined interests of my friends, as it was matter of perfect indifference, in a political, or conscientious view, which of two courtiers should represent the people,
An honest bargain might be struck; and I truly did think, that if Irish votes for members of an English parliament could be sold to redeem an Irishman who had suffered for his country, it was the most ligitimate of all parliamentary trafficks. I assured him of my firm belief, that no person who persecuted me, did it because he thought me a bad man, .but, seeing the favors heaped upon notorious miscreants, that my crime was probably no other than that of being too honest: and the only finesse necessary, was to disguise that a little. I begged, therefore, of such friends as loved me, if they saw the thing, as I did, to co-operate in my ransom, by giving their votes to the side that could stipulate for it. This letter was swindled from me in Hamburg, and never went to its destination, but is now, as I have good reason to think, in the hands of some of the statesecretaries.
If this sentiment should appear extraordinary to you, still would that which many Irishmen hold, that in the present state of our disgrace (opposition being vain) the best choice would be that of the worst men, in order that there might be no delusion nor imposture, and that the whole system might be uni
form and equal. For they say-"Men put not new cloth into old garments."
But to proceed-In the middle of my anxiety about the next thing I should do, an alarm came that quickened my steps.
The Prussian troops were said to be marching by concert with Napoleon into the city. They had some time before occupied the Hamburgese territory at Cuxhaven. There was a general consternation, and it became urgent with me to decide what I should next do. I was a prisoner of war, but that, though serious enough, was not the worst ; for here I could not expect the same consideration as in Paris, where I had good and powerful friends : and where the higher authorities knew, that whatever my political opinions had been, I had known how to conduct myself with discretion, and without offence. But to be again a prisoner—to be again obliged to go through a painful course of interrogatories and vouchers—to be again suspected—to be perhaps obliged to quit from necessity that line of firm independence which I had hitherto preserved, was a thing to be avoided. And particularly now, when in an inhospitable country, I might' have something to fear from malignity, and nothing to expect from justice : for, as I said before, no city was ever more infested than Hamburg with the little instruments of corruption and intrigue, noxious to society, and sometimes ruinous to those who use them. Little, indeed, should I have regarded all this, had it concerned myself alone; for I am now taught to despise my persecutors, and
to bear any thing they can invent: but when I reflected, that for the faithful and innocent partner of my life, and my misfortunes, there was no chance of any benefit in remaining here, but many of distress : and that for her it was now a matter of necessity to return with her children where she had friends and protection, I was not, you may suppose, much at ease,
I went, therefore, to Mr. Thornton, to know whether he had received any further instructions respecting me. He had not : but he seemed to take a humane concern in
hard situation. He offered to take so much upon himself as to give me a passport to England, and to write immediately to Mr. Fox, and explain the grounds upon which he had done so.
Now, it appeared to me, that if the late ministers, whom I had never considered as my friends, had taken my case into consideration, or submitted it to the Irish government-if they had seemed to require no more than some expressions of contrition, there could be no difficulty with the present, for the reasons I have already given. Particularly when at the head of that ministry, appeared that exalted and benevolent man, in whose noble and generous heart the vile spirit of persecution never could find place. I accordingly accepted the passport, and made instant dispositions for my departure,
But a fresh difficuly arose. The English vessels were ordered down the river, to be under the
protection of a British man of war: and the packets were, it was supposed, stopped. I asked Mr. Thorn
ton, if he could not add to the kindness he had shewn me, that of procuring me a passage on board some of the king's vessels, as I conceived that at all events his dispatches and all those of the other ministers on the continent must be conveyed. He did not feel that he could promise me that, but there were sever. al merchant-men below, and I determined to take my chance; and at all events, if it was not safe to land with my family at Cuxhaven, to claim hospitality on board a ship. I had given a commission to an agent, to find some person who would join in the expense of a hoy, and the first person he met with was Mr. Sparrow, one of the king's messengers, who had been at Petersburg and all over the north of Europe as a courier, and happened then to be on his return in
great haste with dispatches from the English minister at Vienna. He knew very well upon hearing my name who I was, and I apprised him of my situation, and advised him to ask Mr. Thornton, whether he saw any impropriety in our travelling together. Mr. Thornton could see none; and we set out together. When we came to Cuxhaven, no packet had arrived, though many were due ; and the packet-agent knew no more of the matter than we did, and probably was thinking how he would have to provide for himself when a new order would come. Application had been made to the sloop of war to take charge of the messenger and his dispatches. The other passengers in the town were endeavoring each for his own passage, and I with no other vouchers than my pass: