« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Emmet.- As to Catholic emancipation, I do not think it matters a feather, or that the poor think of it. As to parlimentary reform, I do not think the common people ever thought of it until it was inculcated into them, that a reform would cause a removal of those grievances which they actually do feel. From that time I believe they have become very much attached to the measure.
Lord Chancellor.—And do you think that idea has been successfully inculcated into the common people ?
Emmet. It has not been my fortune to communicate much with them on the subject, so that I cannot undertake to say how far it has been successfully inculcated into them; but of this I am certain, that since the establishment of the United Irish system it has been inculcated into all the middling classes, and much more among the common people, than ever it was before.
Lord Chancellor.–And what grievances would such a reformed legislature remove ?
Emmet.- In the first place it would cause a complete abolition of tithes; in the next, by giving the common people an increased value in the democracy, it would better their situation, and make them more respected by their superiors ; the condition of the poor would be ameliorated ; and what is perhaps of more consequence than all the rest, a system of national education would be established.
Lord Dillon.—The abolition of tithes would be a very good thing, but do not you think it would be more beneficial to the landlords than the tenants ?
Archbishop of Cashel.-Ay, it is they who would benefit by it
Lmmet.—My Lords, I am ready to grant that if tithes were now abolished, without a reform, there are landlords who would raise the rent on their tenants, when they were making new leases, the full value of the tithes, and, if they could, more ; but if a reform succeeded the abolition of tithes, such a reformed legislature would very badly know, or very badly perform its duty, if it did not establish such a system of landed leases as would prevent landlords from doing so; and, let me tell your lordships, that if a revolution ever takes place, a very different system of political economy will be established from what has hitherto prevailed here.
Lord Glentworth.—Then your intention was to destroy the church?
Emmet.—Pardon me, my Lord, my intention never was to destroy the church. My wish decidedly was to overturn the Establishment.
Lord Dillon.—I understand you—and have it as it is in France ?
Emmet.-As it is in many parts of America, my Lord.
Lord Kilwarden.—Pray, Mr. Emmet, do you know of any communications with France since your arrest ?
Emmet.—I do, my Lord ; Mr. Cooke told me of one.
Lord Kilwarden.-But do you not know in any other way whether communications are still going on between this country and France ?
Emmet.-No; but I have no doubt that even after we shall have left this country, there will remain among the 500,000 and upwards, which compose the Union, many persons of sufficient talents, enterprise, enthusiasm, and opportunity, who will continue the old, or open a new communication with France, if it shall be necessary, and in looking over in my own mind, the persons whom I know of most talents and enterprise, I cannot help suggesting to myself persons I think most likely to do so, but I must be excused pointing at them.
THOMAS ADDIS EMMET.
N. B.--I have only noted down such questions and answers as I imagine will not be inserted in the reports of the Secret Committee.
ADDIS EMMET, BEFORE SECRET COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, AUGUST 14th, 1798.
Lord Castlereagh mentioned that the minutes of my examination before the Lords had been transmitted to them, and that they only wanted to ask me a few questions in explanation of those minutes. The general turn of the examination was therefore the same as that before the Upper House, but I could observe much more manifestly than before, a design out of my answers to draw the conclusion, that nothing would content the people but such changes as would be a departure from what they choose to call the English constitution, and the English system, and therefore I presume they meant to infer, that the popular claims must be resisted at all hazards. The speaker seemed to me to take the lead in conducting the investigation of this point.
Lord Castlereagh.—Mr. Emmet, you said in your examination before the Lords, that the French had not made known the place where they intended landing ; how then will you explain an address which we have here, stating that the French were shortly expected in Bantry Bay ?
Emmet.-My Lord, I know nothing at present of that address, but I suppose on farther inquiry it will be found to be some mistake, as I am positive they never mentioned Bantry Bay in any communication I know, on the contrary, Galway Bay was looked on as the most probable place of their landing.
N. B.-I find on inquiry, that address is without a date and was written after the French had disappeared from Bantry Bay, and were generally expected to return.
Mr. Alexander—I have here some resolutions (which he read, and which, among other things, spoke of the extent of the confiscations which would be made in the event of a revolution, and how they should be applied) do you know anything of them?
Emmet. I have a recollection of having read them before, and if that recollection be right, they are resolutions that have been passed by an individual society at Belfast, and were seized at the arrests of Barrett, Burnside and others.
Mr. Alexander.—They are the same.
Emmet —Then I hope the Committee will draw no inference from them, as to the views of the executive or of the whole body. You know the North well, and that every man there turns his mind more or less on speculative politics ; but certainly the opinion of a few of the least informed among them cannot be considered as influencing the whole.
Mr. J. C. Beresford.—Ay, but would you be able to make such people give up their own opinion to follow yours ?
Emmet.- I am convinced we should, because I know we have done it before, on points where their opinions and wishes were very strong.
Mr. Alexander.-How did you hope to hold the people in order and good conduct when the reins of government were loosened ?
Emmet.-By other equally powerful reins. It was for this purpose I considered the promoting of organization to be a moral duty. Having no doubt that a revolution would and will take place, unless prevented by removing the national grievances, I saw in the organization the only way of preventing its being such as would give the nation lasting causes of grief and shame. Whether there be organization or not, the revolution will take place, but if the people be classed and arranged for the purpose, the control which heads of their own appointment will have over them, by means of the different degrees of representation and organs of communication, will, I hope, prevent them from committing those acts of outrage and cruelty which may be expected from a justly irritated, but ignorant and uncontroled populace.
Mr. Alexander.—But do you think there were in the Union such organs of communication as had an influence over the lower orders, and were at the same time fit to communicate and do business with persons of a better condition ?
Emmet.-I am sure there were multitudes of extremely shrewd and sensible men, whose habits of living were with the lower orders, but who were perfectly well qualified for doing business with persons of any condition.
Speaker.—You say the number of United Irishmen is five hundred thousand-do you look upon them all as fighting men ?
Emmet.—There are undoubtedly some old men and some young lads among them, but I am sure I speak within bounds when I say the number of fighting men in the Union cannot be less than three hundred thousand.
Speaker ---I understand, according to you, the views of the United Irish went to a Republic, and separation from England, but that they would probably have compounded for a reform in Parliament. Am I not right, however, to understand that the object next their hearts was a separation and a republic ?
Emmet--Pardon me, the object next their hearts was a redress of their grievances ; two modes of accomplishing that object presented themselves to their view, one was a reform by peaceable means, the other was a revolution and a republic. I have no doubt that if they could flatter themselves that the object next their hearts would be accomplished peaceably by a reform, they would prefer it infinitely to a revolution and republic, which must be more bloody in their operation, but I am also convinced, when they saw they could not accomplish the object next their hearts, a redress of their grievances, by a reform, they determined in despair to procure it by a revolution, which I am persuaded is inevitable, unless a reform be granted.
Speaker.-You say that a revolution is inevitable unless a reform be granted ; what would be the consequences of such a reform in redressing what you call the grievances of the people ?
Emmet.—In the first place I look to the abolition of tithes. I think a reformed legislature would also produce an amelioration of the state of the poor, and a diminution of the rents of lands would establish a system of national education, and would regulate the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland, on the footing of perfect equality, and correct the bloody nature of your criminal code.
Speaker. You speak of the abolition of tithes, do you include in that the destruction of the Establishment ?
Emmet.—I have myself no doubt of the Establishment's being injurious, and I look to its destruction, but I cannot undertake to say how far the whole of that measure is contemplated by the body of the people, because I have frequently heard an acreable tax proposed as a substitute, which necessarily supposes the preservation of this Establishment.
Speaker .-Don't you think the Catholics peculiarly object to tithes ?
Emmet.— They certainly have the best reason to complain, but I rather think they object as tenants more than as Catholics ; and in common with the rest of the tenantry of the kingdom; and if any other way of paying even a Protestant Establishment, which did not bear so sensibly on their industry, were to take place, I believe it would go a great way to content them, though, I confess, it would not content me; but I must add that I would (and I am sure so would many others who think of establishments like me,) consent to give the present incumbents equivalent pensions.
Lord Castlereagh.—Don't you think the Catholics look to the accomplishing the destruction of the Establishment ?
Emmet.-- From the declaration they made in 1792, or 1793,