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resolutions, touching your lordshp's motion in the Irish house of lords, passed in a committee of United Irishmen, which were read at some of the state trials. Your lordship may remember the opinion I gave of the sentiments of that great majority of the Irish
people. But further than conjecture, I was as ignorant as your lordship, having no place in its organization in
any of its branches, either civil or military. Had I been instrumental in passing such resolutions, I must have been a hypocrite to have visited your lordship upon the footing I did ; and after having assisted you in the collection of the facts which made the ground of your motion, I was not certainly capable of throwing such a bar in the way of its success.
Your lordship has mentioned the names of Messrs. Emmet, O'Connor, &c. These gentlemen are fitter to justify themselves than I am: one of them I have known most intimately. No man has ever spoken of his private character but with admiration. His public opinion I ever knew to be benevolent in the extreme. If he has erred it has not been in his heart. And he who acts purely from his best judgment,walks by the light which God has given him. Your lordship must feel however as well as I do, that there is something strongly calling for alteration, when treason gains the sanction of men's names, whose every step from infancy upwards, has been traced by virtue, generosity, and gentleness : and I think he would be the greatest benefactor of any government who would invent some better way of reform than that of making characters, formed to adorn their country
and their species, the victims of dungeons and of jibbets. In saying this, I do not wish to take upon me the offences of others : I have given, it seems, sufficient offence myself. But no justification of mine shall ever be at the expence of those who have paid so dearly for their own.
Your lordship is again led into error in supposing that I was, or was even imputed to be, the manager of the “ Press.” That paper was set up when I was in the country; and was continued some time before I ever saw it. About that time I was exposed by my residence in the country, to hear the grievances and injuries of the oppressed. Your lordship, from the comparatively small specimen you have seen, may judge of what they were : and whether he was more a traitor who could perpetrate, abet, or even calmly look on such crimes, or he, who, in defiance of his private interest, and at the risque of his personal safety, had courage to express his honest indignation, and at any hazard to vindicate the laws of God and man against them. The use I made of the Press, was to publish those facts of which you were desirous also to be the publisher ; the suppression and consequent impunity of which, you seemed to foresee as well as I did would lead to a rebellion. Many writings however were imputed to me, which were disagreeable to me, and which I would have gladly repressed. I had, for the rest, much less concern with the Press than you conceive, and as proprietor or manager, none at all. Many things indeed I did write for it, the whole of which I should have little hesitation to avow.
I have in vain sought for confrontation with my
I have in vain sought to fix them to any one charge, and therefore it is in vain for me to attempt any justification of a character so truly unimpeached. My conduct at a town meeting of Belfast, respecting the arming of the yeomen, was a thing much dwelt upon. Here is a short statement of it. The magistrates had called a meeting, which, as it concerned every body, was attended by several thousand people. I knew the dispositions of those people. But I solemnly avow that I did not even suspect that there had been at that time any alliance formed with the French. It was a natural supposition that the discontents and anger of the public, would, if not softened, lead to it, and upon that view I acted. I was put upon a committee, of which were the sovereign of the town, and five other magistrates. The meeting was adjourned, and at the adjourned assembly, the sovereign, for reasons best known to himself, refused to take the chair. Resolutions had been handed to me by some of the firmest supporters of the government, a literal copy of what had been drawn up by Lord Oneill, but in a stile so moderated that it was scarcely hoped that they could have passed at the county meeting, for which they were intended. I prevailed so far however in this committee, as to have them passed. The meeting was like to become clamorous for want of order : and the soldiers were drawn up under arms, and prepared to fire upon the people. It seemed as if a massacre had been planned, for every usual place of public meeting was shut. I, out of humanity, did then expose myself in the open street, in a situation little according with my disposition, and read the resolutions; which, after my being voted into the chair, were approved of, and the people dispersed in the most orderly manner; and, after offering to arm as the ancient volunteers had done, declared, they would be satisfied with the assurance of a reform for the
present: and that they would consider the government by king, lords, and commons, when wisely administered, as sufficient for their happiness. What then was my surprise, to read a few days afterwards in a news-paper, an expression of the chancellor, that the great commercial town of Belfast had come to resolutions so treasonable, that he wondered at the mildness of the government that would let the authors of them live ! This, however exasperating, produced no retaliation on my part. Thus, if I have been at any time sharper against those I conceived to be acting wrong, that a perfectly prudent man might be, it will be generally found, that I have been more sinned against than sinning. Subsequent events have not done much discredit to my principles or my foresight. Had those who thought and felt as I did, been a little more attended to, and less abused or insulted, it might have been better. (See the Resolutions, Appendir No. X.)
With respect to parliamentary reform, and Catholic emancipation, these notions had been riveted in the public mind by those who are now the king's ministers, long before I took any part in politics. They
may be called the leaders of the people in this offence-I cannot ; but I thought it a sufficient reason for reclaiming those measures, that they were just in themselves; and, as I then thought, and do still think, would have contented the country. And I thought that every illegal and cruel attack upon those who committed no crime but that of lawfully pursuing such lawful measures, ought to be resisted.
Did I not determine to put my justification upon none but the broadest and most candid footing, I might excuse myself, without offending the administration, by saying, that they had information which I had not, and probable cause to infer participation on my part, when there was none.
But it is not my way to bow under persecution—I shall put it
upon no such ground. I was, .on the contrary, always of opinion, that no political exigency or necessity could ever justify violation or torture; many proofs of which, long before any political offence is even imputed to me, are in your lordship’s possession; many hundreds more in mine.
I shall conclude, by begging of your lordship, as you have been once innocently my accuser, to be now my defensor: not that I expect or desire of you
to add the authority of your name to any thing here stated. I should rather that my case stood upon its own intrinsic truth, than the authority of the greatest name. I only wish, that if this letter be satisfactory to your lordship, you may communicate it to such as your former misapprehension may have confirmed in an