Page images
PDF
EPUB

people of Ireland may yet fly to the only consolation left them, union amongst themselves: and grown wiser by past errors, learn to pardon and forget; and instead of looking back to causes of endless quarrel, look forward with courage and with hope.

Certainly never union was formed under more unengaging auspices. First, divisions were sown amongst the ignorant upon the old pretext, religion, of which those that scorn all religion, ever avail themselves. In the county of Armagh, where this horror was first set on foot, it was carried to such a pitch, that Lord Gosfort, the governor of the county, proclaimed, in an address to the magistrates, that justice had slept in the county, and that more than seven hundred families had been turned out houseless and naked, to seek for an habitation, and wander, unprotected, exposed to the merciless rancour of their oppressors : and that, during the most inclement season of the year, for no other crime than that of professing the Roman Catholic faith, the religion of their forefathers.—(See Appendix No. IV.) As long as there was a shadow of protection by law, I labored to obtain justice for those of these sufferers, and they were many, who confided their cases to me, in the way

of my profession. I once, joined with Mr. Emmet, now in Fort George, had the satisfaction of procuring an apparent sign of justice in the conviction of a magistrate, who, for his partiality and wanton cruelty, was sentenced to six months imprisonment in Newgate, which he underwent. But as the plot took consistency, this shew of justice was

[ocr errors]

revoked. Juries were altogether discontinued, and lest any more criminals should be disquieted for their deeds, or any censure or scandal should follow injustice, bills of indemnity were passed, the magistrate in question was rewarded with a place, soldiers were set to do the work of jurors, terror and butchery were organised, and at length the people were driven into the project of arming for their defence, and that alliance was finally formed, of which it is not my concern to say any thing further. But which, had there been common justice in the country, never would have happened.

LETTER VI.

Treachery.

IT would be going too far to say, without proofs, that the governing faction wished for this alliance with the French, which, however lightly it may now be treated, was capable but for some accidents of a precarious nature, of wresting this country from the dominion of the British monarch. But either upon the ground of intention or misconduct, they certainly are responsible for it. However, the miscarriage of that scheme gave them such power, that it was in vain any longer to make head against them. The most barbarous crimes they committed, were sanctioned by the name of loyalty; and as they were masters of every organ of the public voice, and their opposers dumb, it is not wonderful that not only those of foreign countries are ignorant of their cruelties, but that the people of Great-Britain are likewise so. And what is more, the very actors in these scenes are yet to learn the arts by which they were duped into deeds, whereupon, hereafter, they will look back with remorse ; unless, indeed, the catastrophe, namely, that union which they were ignorantly promoting, has, at length, though late, opened their eyes, and awaked their judgments.

I know, that as often as the cruelties are mentioned, the excesses committed by the people in rebellion, will be cited to justify them. I think it is a poor whitewash of mens reputation, that others have committed crimes: nor will any reasonable being expect, that where the example of dissoluteness and cruelty is set by those who hold the greatest advantages in society : when they, to whom the laws have guaranteed riches and power, are imprudent, as well as wicked enough to set those laws at defiance : it is too much to expect, with such an example before them, the virtue of angels, or the meekness of lambs, from the ignorant and oppressed. It is true, the founder of the best religion has ordered his disciples, when smote on one cheek, to turn the other. But from the day that he said so, until this that I now write to you, I never heard of any people that conformed to that injunction. At

[ocr errors]

all events, I am happily a stranger to all the crimes committed on one side and the other, and in this respect can speak with impartiality. And now, be. fore I quit these points which it was necessary to explain, I shall state a profligate breach of honor which stands naked and unexcused by any pretext of reason, policy, or prudence, and for which no man living, I should suppose, will pretend to offer an excuse; a perfidy of which I clearly have a right to speak most boldly, having been myself the dupe and victim of it.

The agreement which I signed in common with the other prisoners, from the pure, and I think I may, without vanity say, the generous motives above stated, imported in express terms, that we the subscribers should emigrate, such was the word, to such country not at war with Great-Britain, as should be agreed upon, taking with us our families, and our property. The prisoners, to use Lord Castlereagh's words to Doctor M'Nevin, had honorably fulfilled their part of this agreement, and this lord assured them, the government would religiously fulfil its part. Lord Clare also used these emphatical words to Mr. O'Connor: “Mr. O'Connor, says he, it comes to this, either the government must trust you, or you must trust it ; and the government that could violate an engagement so solemnly entered into, could neither stand, nor deserve to stand!In this, certainly Lord Clare said truly : but never were more true words followed by more treacherous actions. This agreement was violated, and these gentlemen are still in prison.

[ocr errors]

For my part, it was upon the honor of Lord Cornwallis that I relied, and not upon the assertions of this junto. They never, I must confess, deceived me, for I never trusted them. How far the sequel will remain a blot upon the fair name of Cornwallis, I leave to his own feelings to decide.

It only rested for me, after the voluntary sacrifice I had made, to act with fortitude, and without asking any favor, to leave my ill-fated country where atrocity led to honor, and virtue to the scaffold; and to fix upon some other, where I could retire in peace and safety. But what was my surprise, when I was informed, that I should be allowed to go to no country in Europe. Some time before, it was asserted, that the minister of the United States had declared, that the prisoners would not be admitted to take refuge in his country. Thomas Jefferson had not then pronounced those words, honoring himself and his country : shall there be no where an asylum on the earth for persecuted humanity ; and shall we refuse to the children of oppression, that shelter which the natives of the woods accorded to our fathers ?

It had been recommended to me to go to Portugal, on account of my ruined health ; and that country being governed by England, seemed least liable of any to objection from the government ; and my own intentions were, to abide faithfully by the agreement I had consented to : so I could not, even in imagination, figure to myself the possibility of the disgraceful proceedings which have since taken place: I

F

« PreviousContinue »