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some credit from the character of my adversary, I request to be informed whether you propose submitting to the world any explanation of your interference with the British Government, respecting the Irish state prisoners, in the year 1798.
I put the question to you in this way, because I have not the honour of any personal acquaintance with you, because I intend that everything which may pass between you and me on this subject, shall be public, and because I have been informed that private applications for an explanation of that transaction have been heretofore made to you by some of my fellow-sufferers from your conduct, and that you did not think fit to favour them with a reply,
I am, Sir,
THOMAS ADDIS EMMET.
To RUFUS KING Esq.
“Sir,-From your silence on the subject of my letter of the 4th inst., I presume that I am not to be honoured with a reply. Perhaps this may be owing to my temerity in addressing him whom Mr. Coleman calls the first man in the country ? Of the height to which your friends exalt or wish to exalt you, I confess
I was not aware when I rasbly ventured to question the propriety of some part of your past conduct. I thought that, in this country, you had many equals ; and I protest that I imagined Mr. Jefferson, for instance, was your superior. You will, Sir, however, I hope, excuse my ignorance in this respect, and attribute it to the circumstance of my being an alien, and of course not yet sufficiently acquainted with the local politics of this country.
Though you, Sir, have not honoured me with your notice, I have been abundantly honoured by your friends ; and yet, extraordinary as it may appear, I mean to pay little attention to their assiduities, but to envelope myself in dignity like your
As far as they have attempted to attack my character, I shall leave it to be defended by others, or rather to defend itself. Not that I affect to be insensible of the value of public opinion, but in truth, Sir, in the present pressure of professional business, I have not time to do justice both to you and to my
self; and I think it of infinitely more importance to the community, in the existing crisis, to make known what you are, than what I am. You are the candidate for public favor, and your conduct is the proper subject of public inquiry. Permit me, however, Sir, before I enter upon that interesting topic, to make a few general observations touching myself
. Mr. Coleman has brought forward some extracts from the reports of the Secret Committee in Ireland ; I think it more than probable that he was not himself in possession of these documents from whom then did he receive them ? There is no person in this country more likely to have them, than the gentleman who was at that time the resident minister at London. When you handed them to him, your memory might have served you to state, that as soon as those reports appeared in the public prints, Dr. Macneven, Mr. O'Connor, and myself, at that time state prisoners, by an advertisement to which we subscribed our names, protested against the falsehood and inaccuracy of those reports, for which act we were remitted to close custody in our rooms for upwards of three months, and a proposal was made in the Irish House of Commons, by Mr. McNaughten, an Orangeman, to take us out and hang us without trial ! You might also, perhaps have recollected (for it has been published) that while we were in this situation other state calumnies reached the ears of one of our fellow sufferers in another prison, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Courier in London, for the purpose of contradicting them, and enclosed a copy of his letter to Lord Castlereagh. Upon this Mr. Secretary Cook was sent to inform him, that if he published the contradiction, he should be hanged ; to that he replied he was ready to meet the event, upon which Mr. Cooke told him, that since he was indifferent about his own life, he must know that, if he persevered, the whole system of courts-martial, massacre and horror, should be renewed throughout the country. By that menace he was effectually restrained.
Had you thought of mentioning those things, you might have jocularly added, that though these statements might serve son present party purposes, it was rather more unfair to judge of us by the calumnies of the Irish Government than it would be to judge of Mr. Jefferson and his friends by the editorial articles in the Evening Post. The weapons you are using have been tried in Ireland among my friends and my enemies, where
everything was minutely known, and they failed of effect. If I had even done anything mean or dishonourable, if I had abandoned or compromised my character, my country, or my cause, I should not be esteemed and beloved in Ireland, as I am proud to know I am. I should not enjoy the affection and respect of my republican countrymen in America, as you, Sir, and your friends confess I do. It would not be in the power of one who had departed from the line of duty in theirs and his common country, by simply expressing to them his sentiments of you, to do you such an essential injury as I am accused of having committed.
“Another charge made against me is, that I am an alien, interfering in the politics of this country. Be it so for a moment, and let me ask why is it that I am an alien in this my adopted country, at this day? Because, in consequence of your interference I was prevented from coming to it in 1798, and from being naturalized upwards of three years ago. Supposing then that I should refrain from intermeddling with politics in every other case,
when you are concerned, I feel myself authorized to exercise the rights of a citizen as far as by law I may ; for you know it is an established law of equity and good sense, that no man shall be benefitted by his own wrong.
But how do I come forward ? Not as a citizen, but as a witness. Allow me to ask you, if I possessed a knowledge of facts which could prove Mr. Jefferson guilty of a robbery or a cheat, and unfit to be entrusted with power, would you think me culpable if, notwithstanding my alienage, I made them known to the public, to prevent their being deceived and misled? And shall I not be permitted, because, in consequence of your very misconduct, I am not a citizen, to testify to facts which will prove you unfit to be trusted in this country with any kind of delegated power ? Whether Peter Porcupine or Mr. Carpenter ever went through the forms of naturalization, I know not, but perhaps they might both be safely considered as aliens, and yet I have never heard any of your friends censure their interference in the politics of America. I do not mention these gentlemen as my models, nor propose their example as my vindication, but I wish to show the pliability of those principles which are to be erected into a barrier against me.
“ As a witness, then, Sir, I come forward to testify, not to my countrymen, but to the electors of this city, to the whole
of the United States, if you should ever aspire to govern them, and I now present you with my evidence.
“In the summer of 1798, after the attempt of the people of Ireland for their emancipation had been completely defeated ; after every armed body had been dispersed or had surrendered, except a few men who had taken refuge in the mountains of Wicklow; while military tribunals, house-burnings, shootings, torture, and every kind of devastation were desolating and overwhelming the defenceless inhabitants, some of the state prisoners then in confinement, entered into a negotiation with the Irish Ministers for effecting a general amnesty ; and, as an inducement, offered, among other things not necessary to the examination of your conduct, to emigrate to such country as might be agreed upon between them and the government. When I consented to this offer, for one, (and it was the case with the great majority,) I solemnly declare that I was perfectly apprised that there were no legal grounds discovered upon which to proceed against me. I further knew that the Crown Solicitor had, in answer to the inquiries of my friends, informed them that there was no intention of preferring a bill of indictment against me. So much for the personal considerations by which I might have been actuated, and now, Sir, to return.
“The offer was accepted, the bloody system was stopped for a time, and was not renewed until after your interference, and after the British Ministry had resolved openly to break its faith with us. On our part we performed our stipulations with the most punctilious fidelity, but in such a manner as to preserve to us the warmest approbation of our friends, and to excite the greatest dissatisfaction in our enemies. Government soon perceived, that on the score of interest it had calculated badly, and had gained nothing by the contract. It was afraid of letting us go at large to develope and detect the misrepresentations and calumnies that were studiously set afloat, and had therefore, I am convinced, determined to violate its engagements by keeping us prisoners as long as possible. How was this to be done ? In the commencement of our negotiation, Lord Castlereagh declared, as a reason for government's possessing a negative on our choice, that it had no worse place in view for our emigration than the United States of America. We had made one election to go there, and called upon him to
have our agreement carried into execution. In that difficulty you, Sir, afforded very effectual assistance to the faithlessness of the British Cabinet. On the 16th of September, Mr. Marsden, then Under Secretary, came to inform us that Mr. King had remonstrated against our being permitted to emigrate to America. This astonished us all, and Dr. Macneven very plainly said that he considered this as a mere trick between Mr. King and the British Government. This Mr. Marsden denied, and on being pressed to know what reason Mr. King could have for preventing us, who were avowed Republicans, from emigrating to America, he significantly answered, 'Perhaps Mr. King does not desire to have Republicans in America.' Your interference was then, Sir, made the pretext of detaining us for four years in custody, by which . very extensive and useful plans of settlement within these States were broken up. The misfortunes which you brought upon the objects of your persecution were incalculable. Almost all of us wasted four of the best years of our lives in prison. As to me, I should have brought along with me, my father and his family, including a brother, whose name perhaps you even will not read without emotions of sympathy and respect. Others nearly connected with me would have come partners in my emigration. · But all of them have been torn from me. I have been prevented from saving a brother, from receiving the dying blessings of a father, mother, and sister, and from soothing their last agonies by my cares; and this, Sir, by your unwarrantable and unfeeling interference.
“ Your friends, when they accuse me of want of moderation in my conduct towards you, are wonderfully mistaken. They do not reflect, or know, that I have never spoken of you without suppressing (as I do now) personal feelings that rise up within me, and swell my heart with indignation and resentment. But I mean to confine myself to an examination of your conduct, as far as it is of public importance.
“ The step you took was unauthorized by your own government. Our agreement with that of Ireland was entered into on the 29th of July, -your prohibition was notified to us on the 16th of September, deduct seven days for the two communications between Dublin and London, and you had precisely forty-two days, in the calms of summer, for transmitting your intelligence to America, and receiving an answer. As