Billeder på siden

por acquainted with the sufferings and oppressions of the unfortunate Irish people, to feel the dignity of such a reply. It would be to be dead to the feelings of generosity, sacred even amongst enemies, not to be touched with it. The more so, when it is known, that this young man, who was but one and twenty years of age, was married to the woman that he lov. ed, and had, within a few days, received a new pledge of fondness, and a new tie to life, in the birth of a first child. He had been loyally enrolled in a corps of volunteers, until the persecutions and horrors committed upon those of his persuasion, for he was of a Catholic family, drove him from the ranks of the persecutors into the arms of rebellion. Had there been men less weak, and less wicked, in the government of Ireland ; or a system of less inhumanity, he, with thousands now in exile or in the grave, would have been its boast and ornament, and the foremost in virtue and in courage, to defend it.

By the death of William Byrne, the work of blood seemed recommenced, and the life of Oliver Bond was next threatened. I had much friendship for this man, and great respect for his virtues. He had already suffered much from persecution, and borne it with great fortitude. He was generally esteemed for his good morals, beloved by his friends, and respected even by his enemies. I had often partaken of his hospitality, and seen him happy amidst his family. He was now under sentence of death, which he himself seemed to despise. His virtuous wife

appeared to me in my prison ; and though she did not

[ocr errors]

venture to urge me, her silent looks were irresistible persuasion. It might depend upon my consent whether she were to-morrow a widow or a wife. Whether her poor babes were to be restored to the smiles of a fond father, or be fatherless. The deep regret I had for the fate of William Byrne, rushed full into my mind, and I determined to make that sacrifice which must ever please upon reflection. My bad health, indeed, at that moment, lessened the price I had to give; my life was entirely despaired of by my friends. . Yet, this friend died a few days after, unaccountably, in his prison, whilst I, after a series of unexampled persecution, live to tell his story and my own.


Case stated Union.

WITH respect to the other prisoners, every one of them seemed to treat death and danger with contempt. The memorial drawn up by three of them in their own justification, and that of their cause, has already been in print, as well as the interrogatories and answers of such of them as were examined before the committee, touching the intended resistance and arming of the country. To these things I was a stranger, further than this, that

I was an enemy to violation and torture; and determined, on all occasions that offered, to resist it, which I always openly declared. By the agreement I had signed, the ministers were entitled to examine me, if they thought proper. But for the same reasons that they did not try me, they did not examine me. They knew that it would tend not to their advantage, but to mine. As to the alliance with France, I knew it first by the ministerial publications, and they had so often asserted it when it was not true, that I, with many others, disbelieved it, even after it was $0. But I saw crimes with my own eyes, to which, to submit, would be degrading to the name of man, and for not submitting to which, I am now an exile.

You will expect, perhaps, some distinct accounts of these transactions : but, for this, I should rather refer you to the publications where it is to be found.

A principal one is the memoir of the three state prisoners, Emmet, M'Neven, and O'Connor. *

This statement appears full of strength and candor, and it was curious to observe at the time, that whatever merit the ministers made to the crown of their discoveries, they seemed to shrink entirely from the ; publication of them, whilst the prisoners insisted upon their avowals being published, as the undisguised and unstudied justification of their cause.

Much turned upon points of chronology; for, however great the causes and the feelings of general discontent were ; whatever the long endured griefs of

* See the pieces of Irish history, lately published by Dr. William James M’Nevin, p. 207.

Ireland had been; whatever some individuals might have meditated, none of the persons in question, nor Lord Edward Fitzgerald, nor others of whom so much has been said, were of the united system, nor was there any military organization formed until after the summer of 1796: previous to this, the persecution of the Catholics in Armagh, and the neighboring counties; the adoption and protection of the Orangemen; the passing of penal acts of such extreme severity, and the cruel execution of them; and particularly the insurrection act, which amounted, in itself, to as complete a revolution as if the king had been deposed, or had abdicated, had taken place. Until these times, if the British constitution had not been practised in Ireland, it had been at least professed, particularly since its nominal independence had been guaranteed by the king and

parliament. I need not tell you, that the essence of that constitution is, that men should be tried by juries of their fellow-citizens, their peers ; and by the law of the land ; and in no arbitrary manner deprived of life, liberty or property. If it be not this, it is nothing but a shadow or a sound. But by this revolutionary act, proclamations were to stand for laws. And justices of the peace, often foreign mercenary soldiers, were to take place of juries, and had the power of proclaiming counties and districts out of the king's peace.

Horrible and barbarous sentence ! These justices were made and cashiered by the breath of Lord Clare, a man violent and vindicative And if ever in better times the list of these justices comes

to be enquired into, it will be found of such a complexion as to be of itself an ample comment upon the spirit of the parliament, and those who had the dominion 'over it. Perhaps I shall, at some other time, when I have concluded this narrative, send you an abstract of this and the other laws and proclamations which fomented this rebellion. But it would too much impede the course of that which you alone have asked of me, my own particular history. At present I shall barely observe, that the ministers who made a merit of having hastened the rebellion bý their cruelties, might, without much violence of conjecture, be presumed to have planned it. The syppressing, by the bayonet, the county meetings, assembled for the constitutional purposes of petitioning the king, is another strong proof that they had done what they feared to have made known; and the dungeoning the prisoners, to whose emigration they had agreed, is another as strong. To revolutionize their country, was a crime in them; but it would have been less so to avow their approbation of the projected union, than first to have invoked heaven to witness that they would consent to no change of their constitution : then to put nine-tenths of their countrymen under the ban of the most diabolical proscription. To have introduced torture into their native country, and finished by promoting what they had sworn never to endure.

Such was the faction that ruled the parliament of Ireland. Such was that degraded parliament itself. All the public records of history or of law; all the

« ForrigeFortsæt »