Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

flow, courts-martial, special commissions, and above all sanguinary Orangemen, now rendered doubly revengeful and malevolent from their recent terror, desolated the country, and devoted to death the most virtuous of our countrymen. These were lost to liberty while she was gaining nothing by the sacrifice.

Such was the situation of affairs when the idea of entering into a compact with Government was conceived by one of the undersigned, and communicated to the rest of us, conjointly with the other prisoners confined in the Dublin prison, by the terms of which compact it was intended that as much might be saved, and as little given up as possible. It was the more urgently pressed upon our minds, and the more quickly matured by the impending fate of two worthy men.* Accordingly, on the 24th of July, the state prisoners began a negotiation with Government, and an agreement was finally concluded, by the persons named by their fellow-prisoners, at the Castle of Dublin, and was finally ratified by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Cooke, three of the King's ministers. In no part of this paper were details or perfect accuracy deemed necessary, because the ministers, and particularly Lord Castlereagh, frequently and solemnly declared that it should in every part be construed by Government with the utmost liberality and good faith, and particularly the last clause was worded in this loose manner, to comply with the express desire of the ministers, who insisted upon retaining to Government the entire popularity of the measure ; but it was clearly and expressly understood, and positively engaged that every leading man not guilty of deliberate murder, should be included in the agreement, who should choose to avail himself of it, in as full and ample a manner as the contracting parties themselves, and that there should be a general amnesty, with the same exceptions, for the body of the people.

We entered into this agreement the more readily, because it appeared to us that by it the public cause lost nothing. We knew, from the different examinations of the state prisoners before the Privy Council, and from conversation with ministers, that Government was already in possesion of all the important

* Michael Byrne who was hanged pending the negociations, and Oliver Bond who was found outside the door of his cell, dead from apoplexy, the government asserted.

knowledge which they could obtain from us. From whence they obtained their information was not entirely known to us, but it was now manifest that Reynolds, M'Ginn, and Hughes, not to speak of the minor informers, had put them in possession of every important fact respecting the internal state of the Union, and it was from particular circumstances well known to one of us, and entirely believed by the rest, that its external relations had been betrayed to the English Cabinet through the agency of a foreigner with whom we negotiated. * * * *

Nevertheless, those with whom we negotiated* seemed extremely anxious for our communications. Their reasons for this anxiety may have been many, but two particularly suggested themselves to our minds ; they obviously wished to give proof to the enemies of an Irish Republic and of Irish independence, of the facts with which they were themselves acquainted, while at the same time, they concealed from the world, their real sources of intelligence. Nor do we believe we are uncharitable in attributing to them the hope and wish of rendering unpopular and suspected men, in whom the United Irishmen had been accustomed to place an almost unbounded confidence. The injurious consequences of Government succeeding in both these objects were merely personal, and as they were no more, though they were revolting and hateful to the last degree, we did not hesitate to devote ourselves that we might make terms for our country. What were those terms ? That it should be rescued from civil and military executions; that a truce should be obtained for liberty, which she so much required. * * *

If our country has not actually benefited to the extent of our wishes and of our stipulations, let it be remembered that this has not been owing to the compact, but to the breach of the compact, the gross and flagrant breach of it, both as to the letter and the spirit, in violation of every principle of plighted faith and honour. *

The Irish parliament thought fit, about the month of September, in the same year, to pass an act, to be founded expressly on this agreement. To the provisions of that law we do not think it worth while to allude, because their severity and injustice are lost in comparison with the enormous falsehood of its preamble. In answer to that, we most distinctly and formally deny that any of us did ever publicly or privately, directly, or indi

* The Irish Government.

rectly, acknowledge crimes, retract opinions or implore pardon, as is therein most falsely stated. A full and explicit declaration to this effect would have been made public at the time, had it not been prevented by a message from Lord Cornwallis, delivered to one of the subscribers, on the 12th of that month. Notwithstanding we had expressly stipulated at the time of the negotiation for the entire liberty of publication, in case we should find our conduct or motives misrepresented, yet this perfidious and inhuman message threatened that such a declaration would be considered as a breach of the agreement on our part, and in that case the executions in general should go on as formerly.

Thus was the truth stifled at the time, and we firmly believe that to prevent its publication has been one of the principal reasons why, in violation of the most solemn engagements, we were kept in custody ever since, and transported from our native country against our consent." *

In consequence of the compact with the Government on the 10th of August, T. A. Emmet was examined before the Secret Committee of the House of Lords. A very small portion of this examination was given in the parliamentary report, purporting to contain the examinations of the state prisoners. On their liberation from Fort George, Emmet, O'Connor, and Macneven, published in London a pamphlet, containing a memoir of the origin and progress of the Union, which they had delivered to the Irish Government, and an account of their examinations, in which the suppressed portion of their evidence were given. The pamphlet is now rarely to be met with, and from it the following account of the examination of T. A. Emmet is taken, after having compared it with the original document in the possession of one of the parties to the compact.

EXAMINATION.

SUBSTANCE OF THOMAS ADDIS EMMET'S EXAMINATION, BEFORE

THE SECRET COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS, ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 1798.

Committee — Were you a United Irishman?
Emmet.—My Lords, I am one.
Com.—Were you a member of the Executive ?

Emmet. I was of the Executive from the month of January to the month of May, 1797, and afterwards from December, 1797, till I was arrested.

I was then asked, as to the military organization, which I detailed. They then asked, when the returns included fire arms and ammunition.

Emmet. After the Insurrection and Indemnity Acts had been passed, when the people were led to think on resistance, and after 4,000 persons had been driven from the county of Armagh by the Orangemen.

Com. Was not the name of Orangeman used to terrify the people into the United system?

Emmet. I do not know what groundless fears may have been propagated by ignorant people, but I am sure no unfair advantage was taken by the executive. The Orange principles were fairly discussed, as far as they were known, and we always found, that wherever it was attempted to establish a lodge, the United Irish increased very much.

Lord Dillon. Why, where was it endeavoured to introduce them, except in the North and the city of Dublin ?

Emmet. My Lord, I cannot tell you all the places in which it was endeavoured, but I will name one in the county of Roscommon, where, I am told, it made many United Irishmen.

Lord Dillon. Well, but that was but very lately, and I endeavoured to resist it.

Committee. When where the first communications with France ?

Emmet.—The first I heard of were after the Insurrection and Indemnity Acts had been carried ; the next I heard of was after the French fleet had left Bantry Bay, and after it was manifest the effort for reform would not succeed ; and

permit me to add, on my oath, it was my intention to propose to, and from conversations I had with some of the executive directory, I am sure it would have been carried then, that if there had been any reasonable hope of reform being adopted, to send one more messenger to France, and he should have told them, the difference between the people and the Government was adjusted, and not to attempt a second invasion.

They then took me into detail through the whole of the negotiations and messages · stated that the demand on our part was from five to ten thousand men, and 40,000 stand of

rectly, acknowledge crimes, retract opinions or implore pardon, as is therein most falsely stated. A full and explicit declaration to this effect would have been made public at the time, had it not been prevented by a message from Lord Cornwallis, delivered to one of the subscribers, on the 12th of that month. Notwithstanding we had expressly stipulated at the time of the negotiation for the entire liberty of publication, in case we should find our conduct or motives misrepresented, yet this perfidious and inhuman message threatened that such a declaration would be considered as a breach of the agreement on our part, and in that case the executions in general should go on as formerly.

Thus was the truth stifled at the time, and we firmly believe that to prevent its publication has been one of the principal reasons why, in violation of the most solemn engagements, we were kept in custody ever since, and transported from our native country against our consent.”

In consequence of the compact with the Government on the 10th of August, T. A. Emmet was examined before the Secret Committee of the House of Lords. A very small portion of this examination was given in the parliamentary report, purporting to contain the examinations of the state prisoners. On their liberation from Fort George, Emmet, O'Connor, and Macneven, published in London a pamphlet, containing a memoir of the origin and progress of the Union, which they had delivered to the Irish Government, and an account of their examinations, in which the suppressed portion of their evidence were given. The pamphlet is now rarely to be met with, and from it the following account of the examination of T. A. Emmet is taken, after having compared it with the original document in the possession of one of the parties to the compact.

*

*

EXAMINATION.

SUBSTANCE OF THOMAS ADDIS EMMET'S EXAMINATION, BEFORE

THE SECRET COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS, ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 1798.

Committee — Were you a United Irishman?
Emmet.—My Lords, I am one.
Com.—Were you a member of the Executive ?

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »