« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Extract of a letter from T. A. Emmet to Peter Burrowes :
New York, 19th Nov., 1801. “I sincerely rejoice, my good friend, that promotion has fallen on your head,* and those of some others where, I think it is well bestowed. However there are in the list of promotions, men of whom I never wish to think ; because I cannot think of them without the strongest emotions of averision and disgust—strong and warm as was my former friendship.
• In the conclusion of your letter you ask a question which, if I did not know the occasional absence of your thoughts, would have caused me much speculation.
“Do you ever mean to visit us ?' says an influential officer of the Government of Ireland, to a proscribed exile, whose return would be death by law, or to send over any of your children ?' A man who was very anxious to return would catch at this offer ; but that is not my case, I am settled here with the fairest prospects for myself and my children. My principles and my sufferings were my first passports and introduction here, and they procured me the effective friendship of the leading characters in this State and in the Union at large. In proportion as I cherish those principles, I am respected ; and every day's reflection and observation makes them dearer to
Ought I to go where they are treasonable and sufficient grounds for perpetual proscription ? Besides, my good friend, I am too proud, when vanquished, to assist by my presence in gracing the triumph of the victor ; and with what feelicgs should I tread on Irish ground ? as if I were walking over graves and those the graves of my nearest relations and dearest friends. No; I can never wish to be in Ireland, except in such a way as none of my old friends connected with the Government could wish to see me placed in. As to my children, I hope they will love liberty too much ever to six a voluntary residence in an enslaved country. Nothing in their future prospects gives me greater pain than the fear that my eldest boy will be obliged, when he comes of age, to go to Ireland to dispose of some settled property, which, if I were worth a few thousand
* He was appointed First Counsel to the Commissioners of Revenue, under Mr. Fox's administration, in 1806; not a permanent situation, but at that time a lucrative one.
dollars more, I should wish rather in the hands of the greatest enemy than his. There is not now in Ireland an individual that bears the name of Emmet. I do not wish that there ever should while it is connected with England, and yet it will perhaps be remembered in its history.
“With the very sincerest and warmest esteem, believe me,
“ Ever yours,
“ T. A. EMMET.'
Extract of a letter from T. A. Emmet :
NEW YORK, July 11th, 1807. “ The first wish you and your mother can have, is to know how we all are, -extremely well. Jane and I are blessed with ten as fine and lovely children as are to be found in the State of New York. Parental prejudice and affection aside, I know of no such family any where. Those you have never seen are at least equal to those with whom you are acquainted, and the latter very much improved. As to my business, you may probably have apprehended that the extraordinary commotion respecting me, excited on the last election, and of which Jane wrote some account in her last, would have injured me professionally ; but the reverse has been the fact, and I have enjoyed as much pleasure as I could derive, from overthrowing Mr. Rufus King in his country, for his conduct to me and my fellow prisoners in our own ; and with that, I have had the infinitely higher gratification of having most essentially contributed to the complete, and I hope conclusive triumph of principle here, and that the importance of my services are known and appreciated.”
The Irish exiles who established themselves in America, kept up a kindly intercourse amongst themselves. Some of their children intermarried, and thus the remembrance of the old ties by which the fathers were bound together were kept up and sustained by new relations. In New York this pleasing result was especially worthy of observation. The Emmets, the Macnevens, the Sampsons, the Wilsons, the Chambers, the Traynors, formed a little Irish community; and by their private conduct, no less than by the consistency of their public
* Grattan's Life, by his son. Vol. iv.
principles, upheld their character and that of their country. Emmet's second son married the daughter of Macneven ; Tone's only son married the daughter of Sampson ; Chambers' daughter was married to Calwell.
The sister of T. A. Emmet was married in the latter part of 1799, or beginning of 1800, to Robert Holmes* a distinguished
[The Publisher is indebted to John Savage, author of '98 and '48, for the following sketch of the Life of Robert Holmes.]
Robert Holmes, a very eminent and now venerable orator and lawyer, was born at Richardstown Castle, in the County Louth, in the year 1765. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1782, when Henry Grattan was at the zenith of his power and reputation, and amid a crowd of students who became famous as orators, lawyers and literary men, he highly distinguished himself, having always carried off the honors in science. He was admitted to the bar in Hilary term, 1795. Towards the close of 1799, or at the beginning of 1800, he married the amiable and brilliantly accomplished sister of Thomas Addis and Robert Emmet, the former of whom was then a state prisoner in Fort George, Scotland, with Arthur O'Connor, Thomas Russell and others.
This family connection drew upon Holmes the suspicion of the government, which evidently was not without some grounds. At the time there existed with others a company entitled the Lawyers' Corps, of which Saurin was commander, and in which were Robert Holmes and Daniel O'Connell. They were organized to put down the United Irishmen; but the acts of brutality perpetrated in the name of law and order disgusted Holmes, and excited him so much, that at a public parade held in the Hall of the Four Conrts he threw down his arms and stepped out of the ranks. The enmity of the bar followed, and at the next professional dinner that Holmes attended, a member insisted on the reading of a resolution adopted since Holmes' misdemeanour in effect that “No person, not being enrolled in one of the yeomanry corps was worthy of being considered a member of the bar.” Holmes left the room and despatched a hostile message to the individual who had thus insulted him. In lieu of its acceptation, however, a criminal prosecution was instituted, the result of which was his condemnation to six months imprisonment. In passing sentence, the Chief Justice Lord Kilwarden, afterwards killed in Thomas street on the evening of Emmet’s rising in 1803, as is the habit with Chief Justices, read Holmes a lecture. “ That arm,” said he, “ which the considerations of loyalty were not strong enough to induce you to raise on behalf of your sovereign, would have been lifted to take away the life of a brother.” After three months Holmes was liberated. Business taking him to London in 1803, he returned on the very day of Robert Emmet's insurrection. His arrival at such a juncture was to the government conclusive evidence of his connection with the rising. He had no sooner reached his house than it was attacked by the Castle robbers, sacked of his papers, and capturing himself he
barrister ; this amiable and accomplished lady died about 1804, whilst her husband was in prison, leaving one daughter, who afterwards married a Mr. Cunningham. Mrs. Holmes shared in the talents which seemed to be hereditary in her family. was again thrown into prison, where without any charge being made against him he was kept for three months; during which time his brave brother-in-law was executed, and his wife-broken-hearted with the exile of one brother, the legal murder of the other, and the doubtful fate which these lessons warned her, hung over her husband, died; and Robert Holmes walked from his prison to a more gloomy hearth. Many years passed before the brother of the Emmets would be entrusted with a brief, suspected by the bar, hated by the government, scowled on by the Bench as he was. At length his will and potent energy, stimulated no doubt by opposition, rose above the bar, the bench, the government. His genius began to attract, and it was not long until it could command. His business increased, and for many years, he has been regarded as the head as he is the father of the Irish Bar. He brooded on in utter abnegation of politics from the times of the United Irishmen to the days of the Young Ireland party. The dread event that robbed him of his beloved wife, compelled him to silence until men and times equal to the former period again challenged his attention as a duty. “As he never traded in Irish politics, he never took even a silk gown from the government. He has remained a barrister denying himself any approximation to government preferment in the acceptance of the Queen's Councellorship.
In 1799 he published an address to the yeomanry of Ireland, justifying arms as a resource against tyranny, It is written with power and point.
“The standing army,” he said " is an evil, rather endured by the body politic, than a part of it. The mere soldier is not a citi
The citizen and the mere soldier are as distinct as free agency and necessity-as liberty and slavery. The citizen is one who has entered into society the better to. attain the dignity of his nature. The mere soldier is one who has surrendered himself, as far as man can surrender himself body and soul to the disposal of another. He is almost as passive as the sword with which he fights. He is the wretched instrument of that bloody ambition which desolates the earth. He is bought and sold like the beast of the field.” Another pamphlet published during the same year is attributed to him, but is authoritatively stated to have been the production of his wife. The title “An address to the people of Ireland, showing them why they ought to submit to the Union' is ironical; the writer in an admirable manner actually showing why the people should not, but why they will, submit to it. Grattan had said " we may talk plausibly to England, but so long as she exercises a power to bind this country, so long are the nations in a state of war; the claims of the one go against the liberty of the other.” The pamphlet in words as distinctly followed up the key-note—“No convention” says the writer, “or community of interests ever will be equitably conducted where both parties are not
The widow of Emmet died in New York, in the year 1846.
This lady's maiden name was Patten ; she was the daughter of the Rev John Patten, a Presbyterian clergyman who died in Clonmel in 1789. In January, 1791, she was married to T. equally able to assert their own rights, and to resist the innovations or injustice of the other. I beg my countrymen not to suppose that I think the measure a good one. No; but I know it to be inevitable. I beg them not to suppose that I place the smallest reliance on the promises of equity, and disinterestedness of the minister. No; but I know that we cannot either reject the measure or insist on the performance of the treaty.
As to the justice we are to meet, it will be like that which is shown to a child by the guardian who wrests his all from him, while he tells him, ‘I will make you happy, and gives the child a whistle, or a cake. The boy may feel that he is injured, but he must submit.'
In 1846 Holmes successfully defended the Nation newspaper in the government prosecutions brought against that journal for the publication of Mitchel's articles on the uses of Railways to a revolutionary people. His speech on the occasion was a very powerful effort_or rather not an effort but a success. The most remarkable feature of it, as I have elsewhere shown in greater detail, ('98 and '48; The Modern Revolutionary History, &c. of Ireland, p. 266) “was the detailed account, based on English law authorities, such as Sir John Davis, Chief Justice Vaughan, Lord Mansfield and Blackstone, showing that according to the English reading, Ireland did not possess a shadow of the true principle of freedom. He defied any constitutional lawyer to deny the fact, * and argued on constitutional grounds that as insurrection against lawful authority was rebellion, and to excite to it, sedition; so resistance to oppression was not rebellion, nor to teach a people the means of successfully resisting oppression, sedition.” He appeared more the accuser of the crown than the defender of his client. “We thought” said Mitchel, “ we heard the blood of Emmet crying aloud from the ground.” Even the Chief Justice was forced to arise from the narrow-mindedness of his charge to the jury, by an acknowledgment of the advocate's genius. “His address," he said, “has never been surpassed in a court of justice." This speech printed in pamphlet shape was largely circulated; and followed up some months after by “The case of Ireland Stated,” which immediately created renewed excitement as being the ablest pamphlet on Irish affairs during this century.
In 1848, the old man, from amid the snows of more than four-score winters, arose like one of those volcanoes in the white regions of Hecla. His defence of Mitchel in the May of that year has been spoken of by an American divine present at the trial, as reminding him of the defence of Saint Paul before Agrippa. He “once again, like the ghost of '98, stood up to upbraid the mockery of English law in Ireland. * * What memories must have throbbed through him! He had not entered that court-room for half a century. The brother of his wife had