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up Mr. H
extended on the scaffold, the head was struck from the body, grasped by the hair, and paraded along the front of the gallows by the hangman, proclaiming to the multitude “this is the head of a traitor, Robert Emmet.” When the head was held
says there was no distortion of the features, but an extraordinary palor, (the result of the flow of blood from the head after decapitation), he never saw a more perfect expression of placidity and composure. He can form no idea what the cause was of the delay which Robert Emmet seemed anxious for at the moment of execution. He might have been in prayer, but it did not strike Mr. H that it was any object connected with his devotions that was the occasion of the words he heard.
My impression is, that Robert Emmet had been made acquainted with a design that was in contemplation to effect his escape at the time and place appointed for execution. Of that design government appears to have had information, and had taken precautionary measures, which had probably led to its being abandoned. The avowed object of Thomas Russell's going to Dublin after his failure in the north, was to adopt plans for this purpose. I have not been able to obtain any account of the persons who were parties to it. The body was removed in a shell on a common cart, to Kilmainham, and was deposited for some hours in the vestibule of the prison till the necessary arrangements were made for its interment. A short time after the execution, within an hour or so, Mrs. M'Cready, the daughter of Mr. James Moore, in passing through that part of Thomas-street, observed near the scaffold, where the blood of Robert Emmet had fallen, on the pavement from between the planks of the platform, some dogs collected lapping up the blood. She called the attention of the soldiers, who were left to guard the scaffold, to this appaling sight. The soldiers who belonged to a higbland regiment, manifested their horror at it ;* the dogs were chased away, and more than one
* It is well worthy of observation, that of all the king's troops in Ireland, during the rebellion of 1798, the Scotch invariably behaved with the most humanity towards the people. It is well worthy, too, of recollection, what the difference in the treatment of the state prisoners were, when they were removed to Scotland, and were placed in the charge of that most excellent man, Lieutenant Colonel James Stuart, the Lieutenant Governor of Fort George.
spectator, loitering about the spot, approached the scaffold when the back of the sentinels was turned to it, and dipped his handkerchief in the blood, and thrust it into his bosom.
Like the blood of the martyrs, the earth did not swallow it all up, nor the beasts consume it wholly, some remained for relics and he recollections at were associated with them continued long to be of a very heart stirring description. In 1836 I sent Leonard, the old gardener of Dr. Emmet, to George Dunn, the jailer of Kilmainham, to ascertain how the remains of Emmet had been disposed of, after their removal from the place of execution. George Dunn sent me word that the body was conveyed to the jail, and placed in the outer entry of the prison, with orders, if not claimed immediately by the friends of Emmet, to have it interred in “ Bully's Acre,” the burying ground also called the Hospital Fields, wbere the remains of paupers and executed criminals were commonly interred ; but where, in ancient times, those of illustrious chiefs and warriors were buried. Dunn stated, that, notwithstanding his orders, he kept the body for several hours, expecting it would be claimed by the friends of the deceased. The only surviving friends, who were connections of Robert Emmet, were then in jail, with the exception of one, Dr. Powell, who was married to a cousin of Emmet's, a young lady of the name of Landon. His associates, or acquaintances, who had fortunately escaped, being involved in the general ruin which had fallen on so many of his friends, were afraid, at that time, to let it be kuown they had any acquaintance with Emmet ; consequently, none came forward, and the remains were, at length, buried beside the grave of Felix Rourke, near the right-hand corner of the burying ground, next the avenue of the Royal Hospital, close to the wall, and at no great distance from the former entrance, which is now built up. While the body lay at the jail, a gentleman from Dublin, whose name Dunn did not mention, came there, and asked permission to take a plaister cast of the face of the deceased, which was granted. That gentleman, circumstances will show, was Petrie, the artist.
Dunn further stated what I was already aware of, that the remains of Robert Emmet, soon after their interment at Bully's Acre, were removed with great privacy, and buried in Dublin. Dr. Gramble was said to have been present, or to have assisted in carrying into effect the removal. But where they were re
moved to no positive information is to be obtained. Mr. P. remembers to have seen the man, who removed the body from Kilmainham, and the impression on his mind is, that the re-interment took place in Michan's Church-yard, where the Sheares's were interred. Old Leonard had the same impression, and some imformation corroboratory of it, from a very old man, a, tailor, of the name of John Scott, residing at No. 4, Mitrealley, near Patrick-street, who had made Robert Emmet's uniform, and that of some other of the leaders. This man informed Leonard that Emmet was buried in Michan's Churchyard, and that soon after a very large stone, without any writing on it, was laid over the grave. On the other hand it is stated, in a small publication, entitled “ A Memoir of Robert Emmet, by Kinsella,” that the remains were brought to St. Anne's Church-yard, and buried in the same grave where his parents were interred. I visited the Church-yard of St. Michan's, in consequence of Leonard's information, and there discovered the stone in question, at least the only one answering the description I had received of it. About midway, on the left-hand side of the walk, leading from the church to the wall, at the extremity of the graveyard, there is a very large slab, of remarkable thickness, placed horizontally over a grave without any inscription. The stone is one of the largest dimensions, and the only uninscribed one in the church-yard.
Is this the tomb that was not to be inscribed, until other times, and other men, could do justice to the memory of the person whose grave had been the subject of my enquiries? If this be the spot, many a pilgrim will yet visit it, and read perchance, in after times, the name of
on that stone that is now without a word, or a letter. If the remains of Robert Emmet be laid in that tomb, those who knew the man and loved him, or who honoured him for his name's sake, or prized him for the reputation of his virtues and his talents, and pitied him for his melancholy fate, may now seek this grave, and standing beside it may ponder on the past, on the history of one of the dead, whose eventful days, and mournful doom, are connected with it : and read the name in their hearts that may not yet be written on stone, and there
may call to mind the words of the friend, and the companion of the studies of Robert Emmet
“Oh! breathe not his name, let it sleep in the shade,
But the night dew that falls, though in silence it weeps,
I HAVE presented my reader with all the information that much labour and assiduity have enabled me to collect respecting the career of Robert Emmet, and of some of the most remarkable of his associates. Of Emmet's character, the details I have furnished are, I trust, sufficient for the formation of a just opinion of it.
It only remains for me to recall to the reader's attention, very briefly, the observations that have been made in the preceding pages, and the leading facts that have been stated, which bear on the subject in question.
From them, it is evident, that, the character of Robert Emmet had appeared to the author to have been ill appreciated by many even of liberal politics, who have treated of him and of his times. He was gifted with great talent, and endowed with excellent qualities of heart, as well as mind ; with generous feelings, and literary and scientific tastes highly cultivated. He was remarkable even at College for the propriety
* The publisher is indebted to Judge Robert Emmet for the exact date of birth of the subject of this memoir which has never been given to the public before, and is now taken from the records of a Family Bible in the possession of the Judge.
Robert Emmet was born the 4th day of March, 1778, consequently at the time of his death he was in his twenty-sixth year,
of his conduct, and was looked up to by his youthful companions, on account of the purity of his morals, and the inflexibility and integrity of his principles. Had it pleased Providence to have given him length of days, it might reasonably be expected his maturer years would have realized the promise of his early life, and caused his career to have been a counterpart of the memorable course of his illustrious brother, Temple Emmet. The motives of Robert Emmet, I have no hesitation in saying, it has been my aim to justify ; and if I have failed in doing so, I have not fulfilled my purpose, nor the duty I owed to truth. No motive of Robert Emmet could be impure, selfish, venal, or ambitious; his enthusiasm was extreme, it was the enthusiasm of a very young man of exalted intellectual powers, and worldly experience ; and matured habits of reflection was all that was wanting to exercise over it a necessary and a wholesome control.
He loved his country with all the fervor of that enthusiasm ; and, like others, no less ill-fated, “not wisely, but too well.” Had he succeeded, the world would have said he loved it both well and wisely. However, he loved it; his devotion to it was a passion that had taken entire possession of his soul, that blinded him to the impediments that stood in the way of the accomplishment of his designs. He pursued his object, as if he believed that the champions of liberty fought, at all hazards, at all times, under the protection of a sacred tutelary power ; while those of despotism, less highly favoured, however they might seem to prosper for a time, were doomed eventually to fall, and to contribute to their defeat by their own efforts to avert their doom. To use the glowing language, attributed to Emmet, in explanation of his opinions—“Liberty was the child of oppression, and the birth of the offspring was the death of the parent ; while tyranny, like the poetical desert bird, was consumed in flames ignited by itself, and its whole existence was spent in providing the means of self-destruction."*
The question of the legal guilt of engaging, under any circumstances, or with any motives however pure, in such an enterprise as that of 1803, it is needless to descant upon. The question of the moral guilt of embarking in any similar enter
*“ Robert Emmet and his Contemporaries.”—Dublin and London Magazine, 1825.