Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

England ostensibly to quell a rebellion, seemed much better qualified by their cruelty to foment it. Such is a faithful picture of the royalists and their proceedings, from 1790, until the insurrection actually broke out. "Justice requires us to view the opposite party in their progress, and though it may be a painful task, yet it shall be performed with impartiality.

In times of civil commotion, it is a misfortune that any number of parties in opposition to the existing government, and whose plans and security require a secret bond of union, are too frequently identified in crime, when their present views and ultimate objects are widely though indistinctly different.

This was the case for some years prior to the eventful 1798. That savage and ruffian combination, called “ Defenderism,” was strangely clashed with the system of the United Irishmen. To both, the Orange party had an equal aversion; and the principles of the Reformers were blackened with the atrocities of a banditti, with whom they neither held communication, and to whose objects they neither afforded their countenance or support. The Defenders were ex

clusively Roman Catholics of the very dregs of society;—their leaders illiterate boors, or travelling Friars, the lowest grade of the Popish Clergy. Plunder and assassination accompanied their nocturnal expeditions, and their vengeance was directed as well against the purses as the religious profession of their Protestant neighbours.

The Irish Union was composed of different materials; and actuated by noble, though mistaken feelings, (I shall speak of it only at its formation,) the bar, the pulpit, and the senate gave it leaders, eminent for family and fortune, talent and private worth; and its principles, in 1792, were the mere echo of those promulgated by the delegates at Dungannon ten years before. The members were so numerous, as to embrace by far the greatest portion of the opulent merchants, private gentry, and industrious farmers in Ulster. Such was the Irish Union in 1792; and had the Government, instead of crusading blindly against a body which could have been dismembered by moderation, and conciliated by an act of common justice, entered into the spirit of the grievances so often, so respectfully laid upon the Commons' table, and which were read only to be rejected, pike would never have glittered on the heights of Tara, nor the blood of its inhabitants been spilled in the peaceful streets of Antrim!

For two years Henry pursued his studies in the University, and would have continued there until he graduated, had not a circumstance occurred which at once put a period to his sojourn, and stamped his public character for ever. In Alma Mater, politics ran as high as in any other society, and a more divided body in their political sentiments than the Fellows and Students of Trinity College, could not be found in the empire. Henry's short career was too brilliant not to throw a shade of distinction over his name. Classic and scientific honours accompanied his progress ; and, as he mixed in the athletic exercises of the Park, his superior strength and activity were noted in the field, till by a kind of spontaneous consent, the Republican party selected him for their leader.

His rival in academic glory and political sentiments, was a lad named Loftus, the orphan son of a deceased Clergyman, and the éléve of an Archbishop. His manners were plain, his temper hasty, his talents only moderate, but with industry sufficient to overcome every obstacle in his course. Next to O'Hara, Loftus was the classic hero; and although the perseverance of the latter was constantly defeated by the superior brilliancy of his gifted rival, undismayed by defeat, he redoubled his exer-. tions, and viewed his second-rate trophies with contempt. Never were two beings more opposite :-the one, diminutive in his person, morose in his manners, and retired in his habits; the appearance of the other, dignified and noble—in temper, arch and playful-in disposition, generous, open, and convivial. The. January examinations were approaching ;Loftus made prodigious efforts to surpass his opponent, and there was not an Orange Fellow in the University whose cut questions were not copiously administered. O'Hara read with his common attention, and followed his amusements in the Park. The eventful day arrived, and Loftus again found his antagonist his su- ; perior; one only hope was left-he heard that Henry had paid but little attention to the

branch of science which was to form the examination of the morrow, and if he could only defeat him in it, he had every thing to 'hope from the noted partiality of the examiner. But when the trial came, the contest was equal, and not a shade was discernible in the answering. Such was the result of the first six hours. The victory was hollow, and Henry left the Hall amid the exultations of his friends.

- When he reached Clare-street, the servant who opened the door, told him the Major was not well. “ Not well! Why I was in his chamber this morning, and he was in excellent health.” He ran up to his dressing-room, and found his father lying on the couch, pale and disordered. The faint smile which played on his sickly features, while he inquired after his son's success, was forced and unnatural. Henry was making anxious inquiry, when a loud knock at the door started his father, and Lord Edward's voice, in unusually high tones, asked where the Major was? and he scarcely waited for à reply till his step' was heard in the passage. “Henry, my boy, leave the room. Lord Edward, not a syllable I know it.”

« ForrigeFortsæt »