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which your govermental abandonment have inflicted on your victims?
There is one circumstance which is not referred to in the preceding account, in the London Chronicle, which, perhaps, was too indicative of the hopelessness of the attempt, by any degree of suffering or of terror, " to bow down the mind of the prisoner to the ignominy of the scaffold. When M'Nally entered the cell with Robert Emmet, where he had slept the preceding night, on retiring from the chamber before referred to, M'Nally observed a scrap of paper on the table, on which Emmet had sketched a human head, represented as if it had been newly severed from the body.
He wrote some letters in the forenoon; he addressed one to Richard Curran, which was written about twelve o'clock. He had spent part of the preceding night in writing letters, two of which were committed to the care of Dr. Trevor, who had contrived so effectually to deceive poor Emmet, as to pass for an unwilling agent of oppression, and, when he was leaving the jail to go to execution, he was folded in the embrace of the Kilmainham inquisitor.* The profanation of that person's touch, young Emmet, the purest minded of human beings, had he known the man, would have shrunk from coming in contact with, as from a person labouring under some pestilential malady. But he knew him not, he believed him to have feelings of humanity and honour, and he confided to his care two letters, one of which was addressed to the Chief-Secretary, the other to his brother then in Paris. The transmission of the latter Robert Emmet attached the greatest importance to, as containing the details of his plan and preparations, and furnishing, as he thought, the only means of enabling his brother to judge justly of his attempt. Trevor promised faithfully to transmit it, broke the solemn obligation of his promise to a man at the point of death, he delivered the letter into the hands of Mr. Marsden, and, it is needless to say, T. A. Emmet never received it. But a few years before his death, its contents were conveyed to him through the press. The work of Mr. W. H.
* An abstract of the trials of 1803, was published in 1803, the pub. lication was attributed to Mr. Marsden, there is an account in it of the two letters committed to Dr. Trevor, and also of the embracing scene above referred to.
Curran, published in 1819, conveyed them to him in the document published in the Appendix of the second volume of his work, entitled "the plan of the insurrection in Dublin, and the causes of its failure.”
That singular document, (wanting the concluding page) was discovered at the Castle by a gentleman who held a high legal situation under the Irish Government. A friend of that gentleman's, no less distinguished for his worth and for his talents, pursued his inquiries in London respecting the missing portion of the document, and the identical page was found there.
It was about half past one o'clock when Robert Emmet was brought forth from his prison and placed in a carriage accompanied by two Clergymen of the Church of England, the Rev. Dr. Gamble, and a Mr Walsh, to be conveyed to the place of execution in Thomas-street, at the end of Bridgefootstreet, and nearly opposite St. Catherine's Church.
The carriage proceeded, and followed by a strong guard both of cavalry and infantry, moved slowly along the streets ; the melancholy cortege might have been mistaken for a military funeral, and the young man at the window, who occasionally recognized a friend in the crowd, or stationed at a window, for some one connected with the person whose obsequies were about to be performed. His demeanour, in his progress, and at the place of execution, displayed, to use the language of Mr. Curran, the most complete “unostentatious fortitude.” It was in keeping with his former conduct ; there was no affectation of indifference, but there was that which astonished every person who witnessed his end, (and I am acquainted with some, who are still living, who were present at his execution), an evident ignorance of fear, and the fullest conviction that the cause for which he died was one which it was a high privilege to die for. In proof of this assertion, it may be observed, that, in reply to some observations of Mr. St. John Mason, whom he was permitted to exchange a few words with at the door of the cell of the latter, when he was going to trial, his last words were, “ utrumque paratus."* When he was brought back to Kilmainham, after condemnation, in passing John Hickson's cell, he walked close to the door, and directing his voice to ward the grating, said in a whisper loud enough to be heard
* Prepared for either extremity.
by Hickson, “I shall be hanged to-morrow.” My authority in each iustance, is the gentleman to whom the words referred to were addressed. The vile memory-murdering press of that day, in both countries, represented his conduct, as light, frivolous, impious and indecorous. In the London Chronicle, one of the accounts cited from the Dublin papers, says, “the clergyman endeavoured to win him from his deistical opinions, but without effect ! ! !” “In short, he behaved without the least symptom of fear, and with all the effrontery and nonchalance, which so much distinguished his conduct on his trial yesterday. He seems to scoff at the dreadful circumstances attendant on him, at the same time with all the coolness and complacency that can be possibly imagined, though utterly unlike the calinness of Christian fortitude. Eren as it was, I never saw a man die like him; and, God forbid, I should see many with his principles."*
The light of truth, I have often had occasion to observe, will break through the densest clouds of falsehood; we see a ray of the former in the words, “ Even as it is I never saw a man die like him.”+
* The London Chronicle, September 24–27, p. 301.
+ On the day of his execution, there was found, sketched by his own hand, with a pen and ink, upon his table, an admirable likeness of himself; the head severed from the body, which lay near it, surrounded by the scaffold, the axe, and all the frightful paraphernalia of a bigh treason execution. What'a strange union of tenderness, enthusiasm, and fortitude do not the above traits of character exhibit. His fortitude indeed, never for an instant forsook him. On the night previous to his death, he slept as soundly as ever, and when the fatal morning dawned, he arose, knelt down and prayed, ordered some milk, which he drank, wrote two letters, (one to his brother in America, the other to the Secretary of State, enclosing it,) and then desired the sheriff to be informed that he was ready. When they came into his room, he said he had two requests to make-one, that his arms might be left as loose as possible, which was humanely and instantly acceded to. "I make the other,” said he, “not under any idea that it can be granted, but that it may be held in remembrance that I have made it—it is, that I may be permitted to die in my uniform.” This of course, could not be allowed, and the request seemed to have no other object than to show that he gloricd in the land for which he was to suffer. A remarkable example of his power both over himself and others occurred at this melancholy moment. He was passing out, attended by the sheriff's, and preceded by the executioner. In one of the passages stood the turnkey, who had been personally assigned to
There were a few personal friends, and two or three College companions of Robert Emmet standing within a few feet of the scaffold at his execution. One of his fellow-students, the Rev. Dr. H -n, was amongst the number, and from that gentleman I received the information on which I place most reliance, or rather entire reliance, respecting the conduct of his friend at his last moments.
The scaffold was a temporary one, formed by laying boards across a number of empty barrels, that were placed, for this purpose, nearly in the middle of the street. Through this platform rose two posts, twelve feet high, and a transverse beam was placed across them. Underneath this beam, about three feet from the platform, was a single narrow plank, supported on two slight ledges, on which the prisoner was to stand at the moment of being launched into eternity. The platform was about five or six feet from the ground, and was ascended by a ladder.
When Robert Emmet alighted from the carriage, and was led to the foot of the scaffold, his arms being tied, he was assisted to ascend by the executioner, but he mounted quickly, and with apparent alacrity. He addressed a few words to the crowd very briefly in a firm sonorous voice, the silver tones of which recalled to the recollection of his College friend those accents on which his hearers hung in his wonderful displays on another theatre, and other occasions of a very different description. In the few words he spoke on the scaffold, he avoided any reference to political matters, or to the events with which bis fate was connected—he merely said, “My friends—I die in peace, and with sentiments of universal love and kindness towards all men.” He then shook hands with some persons on the platform, presented his watch to the executioner, and removed his stock.* The immediate preparations for execuhim during his imprisonment. The poor fellow loved him in his heart, and the tears were streaming from his eyes in torrents. Emmet paused a moment, his hands were not at liberty—he kissed his cheek-and the man, who had been for years the inmate of a dungeon, habituated to scenes of horror, and hardened against their operation, fell senseless at his feet. Before his eyes had opened again, on this world, those of the youthful sufferer had closed on it for ever.-Phillips's Curran, and his Contemporaries.
* At the sale of the effects, of a person well known in Dublin, Mr. Samuel Rossborough, which took place in December, 1832, at the
tion then were carried into effect, he assisted in adjusting the rope round his neck, and was then placed on the plank underneath the beam, and the cap was drawn over his face, but he contrived to raise his hand, partly removed it, and spoke a few words in a low tone to the executioner. The cap was replaced, and he stood with a handkerchief in his hand, the fall of which was to be signal for the last act of the “finisher of the law.” After standing on the plank for a few seconds the executioner said, “ Are you ready, sir ?” and Mr. H. distinctly heard Robert Emmet say in reply, "Not yet.” There was another momentary pause ; no signal was given ; again the executioner repeated the question, “ Are you ready, sir !" and again Robert Emmet said “Not yet.” The question was put a third time, and Mr. H heard Emmet pronounce the word “Not ;" but before he had time to utter another word, the executioner tilted one end of the plank off the ledge, and a human being, young, generous, endowed with precious natural gifts, and acquired excellencies, (but in his country fatal gifts and acquirements,) with genius, patriotism, a love of truth, of freedom, and of justice, was dangling like a dog, writhing in the agonies of the most revolting and degrading to humanity of all deaths; and God's noblest work was used as if his image was not in it, or its disfigurement and mutilation was a matter of slight moment, and scarce worthy of a passing thought, on the part of those “dressed in a little brief authority," whose use of it in Ireland has been such as “ might make angels weep.” After hanging for a moment motionless, life terminated with a convulsive movement of the body. At the expiration of the usual time, the remains were taken down and Northumberland Rooms in Grafton-street, the “hessian boots” which Robert Emmet wore when he was executed, and a black velvet stock, with a lock of hair sewed on the inside of the lining, thus marked “Miss C—," were sold by auction. A school-fellow of mine, Mr. Blake, was present when they were sold.
On the day previous to his trial, as the governor was going his rounds, he entered Emmet's room rather abruptly, and observing a remarkable expression in his countenance, he apologized for the interruption. He had a fork affixed to his little deal table, and appended to it there was a lock of hair. “You see,” said he to the keeper,
how innocently I am occupied. This little tress has long been dear to me, and I am plaiting it to wear in my bosom on the day of my execution." It need scarcely be stated that the tress was Miss Čurran’s. Phillips's Curran and his Contemporaries.