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any further effort, convinced, as he then was, that it could only lead to the effusion of blood, but to no successful issue. His friends pressed him to take immediate measures for effecting his escape, but, unfortunately, he resisted their solicitations ; he had resolved on seeing one person before he could make up his mind to leave the country, and that person was dearer to him than life—Sarah Curran, the youngest daughter of the celebrated advocate John Philpot Curran. With the hope of obtaining an interview with her, if possible, before his intended departure, of corresponding with her, and of seeing her pass by Harold's-cross, which was the road from her father's country-house, near Rathfarnham, to Dublin, he returned to his old lodgings at Mrs. Palmer's. During the time he remained there, he drew up a paper which he intended to have transmitted to the government, in the hope of inducing it to put a stop to the prosecutions and executions which were then going on. The rough draught of this paper was found in the room he occupied when he was arrested.
The contents were as follows :-“it may appear strange, that a person avowing himself to be an enemy of the present government, and engaged in a conspiracy for its overthrow, should presume to suggest an opinion to that government on any part of its conduct, or could hope that advice, coming from such authority, might be received with attention. The writer of this, however, does not mean to offer an opinion on any point on which he must, of necessity, feel differently from any of those whom he addresses, and on which, therefore his conduct might be doubted. His intention is to confine himself entirely to those points on which, however widely he may differ from them in others, he has no hesitation in declaring, that as a man he feels the same interest with the merciful part, and as an Irishman, with at least the English part of the present administration ; and, at the same time, to communicate to them, in the most precise terms, that line of conduct which he may hereafter be compelled to adopt, and which, however painful it must under any circumstances be, would become doubly so if he was not conscious of having tried to avoid it by the most distinct notification. On the two first of these points, it is not the intention of the undersigned, for the reason he has already mentioned, to do more than state, what government itself must acknowledge—that of the present conspiracy
it knows, (comparatively speaking) nothing. That instead of creating terror in its enemies, or confidence in its friends, it will only serve, by the scantiness of its information, to furnish additional grounds of invective to those who are but too ready to censure it for a want of intelligence, which no sagacity could have enabled them to obtain. That if it is not able to terrify by a display of its discoveries, it cannot hope to crush by the weight of its punishments. Is it only now we are to. learn, that entering into conspiracy exposes us to be hanged? Are the scattered instances which now will be brought forward necessary to exemplify the statute ? If the numerous and striking examples which have already preceded were insufficient—if government can, neither by novelty of punishment nor the multitude of its victims, impress us with terror, can it hope to injure the body of a conspiracy so impenetrably woven as the present, by cutting off a few threads from the end of it!
“That with respect to the second point, no system, however it may change the nature, can affect the period of the contest that is to take place ; as to which, the exertions of the United Irishmen will be guided only by their own opinion of the eligibility of the moment for effecting the emancipation of their country.
On the 25th of August he was arrested at Mrs. Palmer's, at Harold's-cross, at about seven o'clock in the evening, by Major Sirr, who, according to the newspaper accounts, “ did not know his person till he was brought to the Castle, where he was identified by a gentleman of the College."* The writers of those accounts knew little of the " ' finesse" of an Irish Fouché, and the police office refinement of his conduct towards his informers on such occasions.† He played the same game precisely in Russell's case, at a later period.
* Dr. Elrington, Provost of Trinity College, had been previously applied to by the Major, through a lady, for a description of Emmet's person, and that description was furnished by him!!! A Provost scanning the features of the students of the College over which he presided, and furnishing the agents of police with the results of his observation, is a new proceeding.
* In 1841, the remains of Major Sirr, the assassin of “ Lord Edward," were deposited in St. Werburgh's churchyard, the spot is marked out
The Major's account of the arrest of Emmet, as subsequently given in evidence on his trial, was to the following effect. On the evening of the 25th of August, he went to the house of one Palmer, at Harold's Cross ; had heard there was a stranger in the back parlour ; rode there accompanied by a man on foot, who knocked at the door ; on its being opened, by a little girl, the daughter of Mrs. Palmer, the Major alighted, and ran immediately into the back parlour ; he desired the woman and the little girl to withdraw, and then asked the prisoner his name, he said his name was Cunningham. The man who accompanied the Major, was then left in charge of the prisoner by the Major, while he went into the next room to make inquiries of Mrs. Palmer, who said the prisoner's name was Hewitt. The Major went back and asked him how long he had been there, he said he came that morning. He had attempted to escape before the Major returned, for he was bloody, and the man said he had knocked him down with a pistol. The Major then went to Mrs. Palmer, who said the prisoner had lodged there for a month. He judged he was a person of importance. When the Major first went into the back parlour there was a paper on a chair which he seized, (the paper intended to have been transmitted to the government). The Major then went to the canal bridge for a guard, having
in the East corner by a broken flag with a short inscription, and shaded by a melancholy tree. The stone does not exactly state that the
lajor of '98 was buried under it, and appears to have been originaly placed over the corpse of his father who preceded him in that office, and was also distinguished by his bad character, a fact unknown to the biographers of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. A more infamous tool than Henry Charles Sirr, was probably never employed by any government, the bare relation of his atrocities would far exceed the wildest fiction which ever emanated from the brain of the most morbid romancist. The horrors of Continental cruelties, and secret tortures, depicted in the terrible pages of Lewis, Radcliffe, or Ainsworth, dwindle into insignificance when contrasted with the perpetrations of Sirr and his bloodstained associates during the Irish reign of terror.
“ It was at that sad crisis.” said Curran, that the defendant, from an obscure individual started into notice and consequence. It is in the hot bed of public calamity, that such portentous and inauspicious products are accelerated without being matured. From being a town Major a name scarcely legible in the list of public incumbrances, he became at once invested with all the real powers of the most absolute authority. The life and liberty of every man seemed to be given up to his dis posal. The Streets of Dublin,” from the Irish Quarterly Review.
desired them to be in readiness as he passed by. He planted a sentry over the prisoner, and desired the non-commissioned officer to surround the house with sentries, while he searched it. I then examined Mrs. Palmer and took down her account of the prisoner, during which time I heard a as if an escape was attempted. I instantly ran to the back of the house, as the most likely part for him to get out at ; I saw him going off, and ordered a sentinel to fire, and then pursued myself, regardless of the order. The sentry snapped, but the musket did not go off. I overtook the prisoner, and he said, “ I surrender.” I searched him, and found some papers upon him.
On the Major's expressing concern at the necessity of the prisoner's being treated so roughly, he (the prisoner) observed ī that all was fair in war.” The prisoner, when brought to the Castle, acknowledged that his name was Emmet.*
In the remarkable series of papers published in the “ Dublin and London Magazine," of 1825, entitled, “Robert Emmet and his Contemporaries,” to which I have already referred, there is an account of one of the latter, who is called by his Christian name Malachy, who appears to have been one of the foremost persons in preparing the minds of the Wicklow men for another struggle, previous to Robert Emmet's operations. The father of this Malachy, and of another son Bryan, the author states, lived in the County Wicklow, and, I infer, from his account, some where in the vicinity of Enniskerry. His position was that of a country gentleman, and his sons appear to have been employed in superintending his affairs. The family were Catholics, and possessed much influence over the poor of their persuasion in the neighbourhood. Their place of residence was dignified with the name of Castle ; but is described as a “ Castle rack-rent” in its condition and its appearance. The face of Malachy, the author says, was one which once beheld could never be forgotton. He is represented as a bold, plausible and talented man, of a remarkably fine and symmetrical person, and a most forbidding aspect ; his face was seamed, or rather harrowed into prominent ridges with the small pox; and his features were large, coarse, and strongly marked. He always dressed in the height of fashion, and was particularly neat in his attire. The other brother, Bryan, was a sot, but
* Ridgeway's Report of the Trial of Robert Emmet, page 75.
other respect, but that of temperance, was a better man than Malachy.
Previous to the outbreak, an act of treachery, ascribed by the author to Malachy, led to the arrest of some of his companions in Wicklow. On the night of the 23rd, he is represented as one of the few leaders who came dressed in the rebel uniform, and accompanied Robert Emmet from the Depot to the Market-house in Thomas-street. Malachy is stated to have been very desirous to have fired the other rockets which were to be the signals for those who were waiting to join Emmet's party, in the Barley-fields, (now Mountjoy-square), the Coalquay, and other places. Emmet is said to have prevented his doing so, saying let no lives be unnecessarily lost. Bryan is represented, on the night of the 23rd, as having fallen in Thomas-street, and Malachy in disguise having been taken prisoner. But he had not been long in prison when he was liberated, and met the writer of the account in question. He stated that he had some very important information to communicate to Emmet, and got his address from the former. But this
person had no sooner given it, than it flashed across his mind there was treachery at work, that Malachy's release from prison was for no good purpose. He, accordingly, lost little time in proceeding to Harold's Cross, after he parted with Mal. achy, but, on his arrival, he saw crowds round the house, and military in front of it, and soon after Emmet was led forth, "betraying no signs of fear or perturbation, but evincing the same calm and dignified aspect which ever distinguished this extraordinary young man.
Leonard, the old gardener of Dr. Emmet, told me the informer against Mr. Emmet was generally supposed by the friends of the latter to have been one of the state prisoners, of the name of Malachy, who was let out of Newgate, where he was confined, for the purpose of finding out Emmet's retreat ; and that Malachy got information from a French emigrant, who was acquainted with Robert Emmet, of his being at Harold's Cross. There is an account in the Dublin papers of the arrest of a French emigrant on the night after the outbreak in Dame-street, by Major Sirr. The London Chronicle
, of October the 8th and 10th, 1803, cites the following paragraph from the Dublin papers of the 4th of October.