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grievous oppressions exercised, in consequence of a presumption, that the person who was the unfortunate object of such oppression, was in hostility to the government ; and yet that has been done in a part of the country as quiet and as free from disturbance as the city of London. Who states these things, my lords, should, I know, be prepared with proofs. I am prepared with them. Many of the circumstances I know of my own knowledge ; others I have
re ceived from such channels, as will not permit me to hesitate one moment in giving credit to them.
“ His lordship then observed, that from education and early habits, the Curfew was ever considered by Britons as a badge of slavery and oppression. It then was practised in Ireland with brutal rigor. He had known an instance, where a master of a house had in vain pleaded to be allow. ed the use of a candle to enable the mother to administer relief to her daughter, struggling in convulsive fits. In former times, it had been the custom for Englishmen to hold the infamous proceedings of the inquisition in detestation: one of the greatest horrors, with which it was attended, was, that the person, ignorant of the crime laid to his charge, or of his accuser, was torn from his family, immured in a prison, and in the most cruel uncertainty as to the period of his confinement, or the fate which awaited him. To this injustice, abhorred by Protestants in the practice of the inquisition, were the people of Ireland exposed. All confidence-all security were taken away. In alluding to the inquisition, he had omitted to mention one of its characteristic features : if the supposed culprit refused to acknowledge the crime with which he was charged, he was put to the rack, to extort confession of whatever crime was alleged against him by the pressure of torture. The same proceedings had been introduced in Ireland. When a man was taken up on suspicion, he was put to the torture; nay, if he were merely accused of concealing the guilt of another. The rack, indeed, was not at hand; but the punishment of pics,
queting was in practice, which had been for some years abolished, as too inhuman, even in the dragoon service. He had known a man, in order to extort confession of a supposed crime, or of that of some of his neighbours, picqueted until he actually fainted; picqueted a second time until he fainted again; and as soon as he came to himself, picqueted a third time until he once more fainted ; and all upon mere suspicion! Nor was this the only species of torture : men had been taken and hung up until they were half dead, and then threatened with a repetition of the cruel treatment, unless they made confession of the imputed guilt. These were not particular acts of cruelty, exercised by men abusing the power committed to them, but they formed a part of our system, They were notorious, and no person could say who would be the next victim of this oppression and cruelty which he saw others endure. This, however, was not all; their lordships, no doubt, would recollect the famous proclamation issued by a military commander in Ireland, requiring the people to give up their arms: it never was denied that this proclamation was illegal, thongh defended on some supposed necessity; but it was not surprising, that any reluctance had been shewn to comply with it, by men who conceived the constitution gave them a right to keep arms in their houses for their own defence; and they could not but feel indignation in being called upon to give up their right. In the execution of the order, the greatest cruelties had been committed: if any one was suspected to have concealed weapons of defence, his house, his furniture, and all his property, was burnt : but this was not all; if it were supposed that any district had not surrendered all the arms which it contained, a party was sent out to collect the number at which it was rated ; and in the execution of this order, thirty houses were sometimes burnt down in a single night. Officers took upon themselves to decide discretionally the quantity of arms; and upon their opinions these fatal consequences followed. Many such cases might be enumerated; but, from prudential motives, he wished to draw a veil over more aggravated facts, which he could have stated, and which he was wil. ling to attest before the privy council, or at their lordships bar. These facts were well known in Ireland, but they could not be made public through the channel of the newspapers, for fear of that summary mode of punishment which had been practised towards the Northern Star, when a party of troops in open day, and in a town where the generals head-quarters were, went and destroyed all the offices and property belonging to that paper. His lordship concluded, with entreating the house to take into serious consideration the present measures, which, instead of removing discontents, had increased the number of the discontented. The moment of conciliation was not yet passed ; but if the system were not changed, he was convinced Ireland would not remain connected with this country five years longer.". His lordship did not then foresee the kind of connection intended.
Extracts from the Speech of the same Nobleman, delivered in the Irish
House of Lords, on the 19th of February, 1798.
« THAT many individuals had been torn from their families, and locked up for months in the closest confinement, without hearing by whom they were accused, with what crime they were charged, or to what means they might recur to prove their innocence; that great numbers of houses had been burned, with the whole property of the wretched owners, upon the loosest supposition of even petty transgressions; that torture, by which he meant picqueting and half hanging, continued to be used to extort from the sufferers a charge against his neighbours.” If he should be contradicted with respect to these facts, he professed himself prepared
produce the affidavits of thein,” and declared his intention of moving “for the examination of the deponents at the bar. If there be delinquencies, there must be delinquents. Prove their guilt, and punish them; but do not, on
a loose charge of partial transgression, impose infliction on the whole community. The state of society was dreadful indeed, when the safety of every man was at the mercy of a secret informer ; when the cupidity, the malevolence, or the erroneous suspicions of an individual were sufficient to destroy his neighbour."
COMMITTEE OF ELDERS
for certain additional measures of coercion, in the Irish House of Com-
THEIR modes of outrage were as various as they were atrocious: they sometimes forced, by terror, the masters of families to dismiss their Catholic servants—they sometimes forced landlords, by terror, to dismiss their Catholic tenants ry—they seized, as deserters, numbers of Catholic weavers sent them to the county gaol, transmitted them to Dublin, where they remained in close prison, until some, lawyers, from compassion, pleaded their cause, and procured their enlargement-nothing appearing against them of any kind whatsoever. Those insurgents, who called themselves Orange Boys, or Protestant Boys, that is, a banditti of mur. derers, committing massacre in the name of God, and exercising despotic power in the name of liberty—those insurgents had organised their rebellion, and formed themselves into a committee, who sat and tried the Catholic weavers and inhabitants, when apprehended falsely and illegally as deserters. That rebellious committee, they called the Com. mittee of Elders, who, when the unfortunate Catholic was torn from his family and his loom, and brought before them, sat in judgment upon
his -if he gave them liquor or money, they sometimes discharged him, otherwise they sent him to a recruiting office as a deserter. They had very generally given the Catholics notice to quit their farms and dwellings, which notice was plastered on the house, and conceiv.
ed in these short but plain words: “Go to Hell, Connaught won't receive you-fire and faggot. Will Tresham and John Thrustout.” That they followed these notices by a faithful and punctual execution of the horrid threat-soon after visited the house, robbed the family, and destroyed what they did not take, and finally completed the atrocious persecutions, by forcing the unfortunate inhabitants to leave their land, their dwellings, and their trade, and to travel with their miserable family, and whatever their miserable family could save from the wreck of their houses and tenements, and take refuge in villages, as fortifications against invaders, where they described themselves, as he had seen in their affidavits, in the following manner: “We (mentioning their names) formerly of Armagh, weavers, now of no fixed place of abode or means of living, &c.” In many instances this banditti of persecution threw down the houses of the tenantry, or what they call racked the house, so that the family must fly or be buried in the grave of their own cabin. The extent of the murders that had been committed by that atrocious and rebellious banditti he had heard, but had not heard them so ascertained as to state them to that house; but from all the enquiries he could make, he collected, that the Catholic inhabitants of Armagh had been actually put out of the protection of the law; that the magistrates had been supine or partial, and that the horrid banditti had met with complete success, and from the magistracy with very little discouragement.
0 They were afterwards identified with the government, not only in Ireland, but in England.
The Words of LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD, on the same
Occasion. “ I shall oppose this resolution, because I think that this resolution will not prevent the crimes of which the right