Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

we walked together towards town, I opened my plan to them both. I told them I considered my compromise with government to extend no farther than the banks of the Delaware, and the moment I landed I was to follow any plan that might suggest itself for the emancipation of my country, I then proceeded to tell them, that my intention was, immediately on my arrival in Philadelphia, to wait on the French Minister, to detail to him fully the situation of affairs in Ireland, and endeavour to obtain a recommendation to the French government, and having succeeded so far, to leave my family in America, set off immediately for Paris, and apply in the name of my country, for the assistance of France to enable us to assert our independence. It is unnecessary, I believe, to say, that this plan met with the warmest approbation and support, both from Russell and Emmet ; we shook hands, and having repeated our profession of unalterable regard and esteem for each other, we parted ; and this was the last interview which I was so happy as to have with these invaluable friends together. I remember it was in a little triangular field that this conversation took place, and Emmet remarked, that it was in one like it, in Switzerland, where William Tell and his associates planned the downfall of the tyranny of Austria.

On Tone's departure from Dublin, to embark at Belfast, Thomas Addis Emmet addressed the following letter to him :

My dear friend,-I have just this instant heard from Simon M'Guire that you leave town to-night. I can scarcely believe that

you would entirely break yourself away from this country, and from me amongst the rest, without calling on me, or even writing a line. You know, and I trust will always consider,

formation of very erroneous opinions respecting them. In his exuberance of vivacity, Russell figures in his Journals as P. P. parish priest, a profane person swearing occasionally, frequently

“ drunk," "gloriously drunk," and disorderly. But when Tone, in France, hears of the arrest of his friend, he thus speaks of him, in allusion to the manner in which he had made mention of him in his Journals.—“My heart smites me, when I think of the levity with which I have spoken of my poor friend Russell, under the name of P. P.” The fact was, Russell's weil known gravity of deportment and demeanor, his strong sense of the importance and value of religion, his habitual decorum and propriety in social intercourse, were made the subject of ironical jocularity in Tone's diaries.—Life of T. Russell.Madden's United Irishmen.

that my friendship and affectionate regard for you is most undiminished. It is not of that nature to shake by adversity, which God knows how soon it may by my lot to undergo. Wherever you are you shall always command a steady friend in this country as long as I reside here. Write to me at least when you reach your destination, and as often as it may suit your convenience. Perhaps your letters may be useful to me for regulating my future settlement in life. God bless you. Give my most affectionate compliments to Mrs. Tone,

and believe me, sincerely," &c.

[ocr errors]

The organization of the Union was intended to be a complete representative system. It underwent two important changes. In 1794 the Society having been forcibly dissolved, became a secret one the beginning of 1795. The objects extended beyond reform and emancipation, and members, on admission were required to take an oath. In 1796, the military organization was engrafted on the civil. All officers, to the rank of colonel, were elected by the committees ; those of a higher grade, by the executive; and with the concurrence of that body, the colonels had the nomination of an adjutantgeneral for each county. The commander-in-chief was nominated by the Leinster directory, and that officer was Lord Edward Fitzgerald. The Northern directory was the first founded. Arthur O'Connor and Lord Edward Fitzgerald established the Leinster, and were for some time its only members. Bond, Macneven, M'Cormick, and Jackson, came in at a later period.

Emmet, who had been a member of the society from 1796, became one of the directory in 1797. He had been previously solicited to join it by O'Connor, and had declined; but on O'Connor's arrest and imprisonment in the Tower, about the middle of 1797, when the interests of the Union were deprived of the services of its chief leader, he took his post.

It is a matter of notoriety, that the councils of the United Irishmen were distracted and divided on the most important of all questions to their cause, namely, the question of risking an attempt on their own resources, or deferring that attempt till the assistance they had demanded from France, had been given to them. In favour of the former proceedings, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Arthur O'Connor, and Henry Jackson, not

once or twice, but on several occasions, expressed their opinnions strongly, while at various times, Emmet, M'Cormick, and Macneven, as strenuously opposed them.

The application to France had been made by the directory, before Emmet joined it, and was determined on at a meeting in 1796, in consequence of a letter from Tone, who was then in Paris, stating that the French government, on representations made to it, were favourably disposed towards the objects of the Society. On this intimation, an application was made for assistance to the French directory, and a positive assurance was returned that it would be granted. The garden scene in 1795 can leave no doubt of Emmet's concurrence in the views on which Tone acted.

The dependence in French assistance ultimately proved fatal to the Union. This was the opinion of T. A. Emmet communicated to his brother barrister, the distinguished Charles Glidden Haines, in 1812, (both attending the Supreme Court at Washington) when an outline of his early career and the progress of the struggle he had embarked in was given to that gentleman. From the opinions he expressed on this subject, Haines concluded that had Ireland never relied at all on France, her prospects of success might have been better ; the French, however, having once promised, it was reasonable to place reliance on that promise, and as it turned out, the reliance thus placed, embarrassed everything. With respect to Napoleon, Emmet pronounced him the worst foe that Ireland ever had.

The Government having allowed the plans of the United Irishmen to come to a sufficient degree of maturity for their purposes, availed themselves of the services of a man, whose very name sounds in one's ears like a calamity. Reynolds the informer.

The deputies were arrested on his information at Bond's, the 12th of March, 1798, Emmet, Macneven, Jackson, and Sweetman were taken the same day at their several abodes, brought to the Castle, examined there, and committed to Newgate.

Against Emmet there was no specific charge, no overt act of treason brought against him. From the time of O'Connor's arrest, he was looked upon as the prime mover in the conspiracy, the head-piece of the Union, and in that opinion there was no mistake.

[ocr errors]

There were twenty of the leaders men of the Union, from various parts of the country, particularly from the North, then confined in Newgate.

The wife of Emmet at that period had an opportunity of displaying that heroic devotion to her husband which she was destined to be called on to exhibit for upwards of four years in the several prisons he was immured in. Soon after his confinement she obtained permission to visit him. The cell in which he was confined was about twelve feet square. She managed to secret herself in this wretched abode for some days, one of the turnkeys who had charge of Emmet's cell being privy to her concealment. Her husband shared his scanty allowance with her ; and there a lady, bred in the lap of luxuary, accustomed to all the accommodations that are possessed by one in her sphere in life, shared the gloom and privations of a dungeon.

The gaoler at length discovered that Mrs. Emmet was an inmate of her husband's cell. She was immediately ordered to quit the place, but to the astonishment of the officers of the prison who were not accustomed to have their orders disobeyed, she told them, her mind was made up to remain with her husband and she would not leave the prison."

The gaoler, whom Emmet speaks of as a man of unfeeling and ruffianly deportment,” stood awe-stricken before a feeble, helpless creature, whom he had only to order one of his mirmidons to tear from the arms of her husband to be obeyed. He retired, and Emmet was given to understand that orders had been given to the man by his employees not to use force, but the first time Mrs. Emmet left the prison she was not to be permitted to return. No such opportunity for her exclusion was afforded by that lady. She continued to share her husband's captivity for upwards of twelve months.

But once in that time she left the prison, and then only to visit her sick child, when she appealed to the wife of the gaoler, “ as the mother of a family,” to take pity on her wretchedness, struggling as she was, between her duty to her husband, and the yearnings of nature towards her sick child. It cheers one to find that even such an appeal as this was not made in vain. At midnight this woman conducted Mrs. Emmet through the apartments of the gaoler to the street. The following night, after remaining with her child at the house of

Dr. Emmet during the day, she returned to the gaol, gained admittance by the same means, and was on the point of entering her husband's cell when one of the keepers discovered her, but too late to exclude her from the prison. From that time she availed herself no more of the same facility for leaving or entering the prison. Shortly after this occurrence Emmet and Macneven were removed to Kilmainham gaol, and Mrs. Emmet was allowed to accompany her husband.

In the month of July, 1798, negotiations were entered into by the state prisoners with the Irish government. The orginal draught of a paper on this subject, unpublished, drawn up chiefly by Emmet, exists in the handwriting of himself, Sweetman and Macneven. It was drawn up by them on their arrival in France, after their liberation from Fort George, and remained in the possession of John Sweeetman. The following part of the statement is in the handwriting of T. A. Emmet :*We, the undersigned, until this day state prisoners and in close custody, feel that the first purpose to which we should apply our liberty is to give the world a short account of a transaction which has been grossly misrepresented and falsified, but respecting which we have been compelled to silence for nearly the last three years. The transaction alluded to, is the agreement entered into by us and other state prisoners, with the Irish Government, at the close of the month of July, 1798, and we take this step without hesitation, because it can in no wise injure any of our friends and former fellow-prisoners, we being among the last victims of perfidy and breach of faith.

From the event of the battles of Antrim and Ballinahinch early in June, it was manifest that the northern insurrection had failed of consolidating itself. The severe battle of VinegarHill, on the 21st of the same month, led to its termination in Leinster, and the capitulation of Ovid's-town* on the 12th of July, may be understood as the last public appearance in the field of any body capable of serving as a rallying point. In short, the insurrection, for every useful purpose that could be expected from it, was at an end, but blood still continued to

* The event preceding the massacre, of the capitulated body of the United Irishmen, on the Rath of the Curragh of Kildare, by the command of Major General Sir James Duff, executed chiefly by the yeomanry cavalry of Captain Bagot, and the Fox-hunter's corps, commanded by Lord Roden.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »