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you had no order, then, what was the motive of your unauthorized act?
“I cannot positively say, but I will tell you my conviction. The British Ministry had resolved to detain us prisoners contrary to their plighted honour ; and you, Sir, I fear, lent your ministerial character to enable them to commit an act of perfidy, which they would not otherwise have dared to perpetrate. Whether our conduct in Ireland was right or wrong, you have no justification for yours. The constitution and laws of this country gave you no power to require of, the British Government that it should violate its faith, and withdraw from us its consent to the place we had fixed upon for our voluntary emigration. Neither the President nor you were warranted to prevent our touching these shores; though the former might, under the Alien act, have afterwards sent us away if he had reason to think we were plotting any thing against the United States. I have heard something about the law of nations ; but you are too well acquainted with that law not to know that it has no bearing on this subject. Our emigration was voluntary, and the English Government had, in point of justice, no more to do with it than to signify that there was no objection to the place of residence we had chosen.
Another circumstance which compels me to believe a collusive league between you, in your capacity of resident Minister from America, and the Cabinet of St. James's, is the very extravagant and unwarrantable nature of your remonstrance, which had the Ministry been sincere towards us, they could not have possibly overlooked. If they had intended to observe their compact, you, Sir, would have been very quickly made to feel the fatility of your ill-timed application. You would have been taught that it was a matter of mere private arrangement between government and us, with which you had no more to do than the Minister of Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, or any other neutral power. What inference ought fairly to be made from the facts I have stated, every man must decide for himself. On me they have forced a conviction, which, if you can shake it, I shall much more gladly forego than I state it here, that in the instance alluded to, you degraded the dignity and independence of the country you represented, you abandoned the principles of its government and its policy, and you became the tool of a foreign state, to give it
the colourable pretext for a crime. If so, is it fit that you should hereafter be entrusted with any kind of delegated authority? What motives you may have had for that conduct, if in truth it was yours, I cannot undertake to say. Mr. Marsden seemed to doubt whether you wished for Republicans in America ; and I shrewdly suspect he spoke what the British ministry thought of your politics.
“Perhaps it may be said that you were yourself deceived by those very calumnies of which I have complained. I sincerely wish that I could believe that such were the fact-but observe this argument. We contradicted the misstatements of the Committees of the Lords and Commons of Ireland, by an advertisement written in prison, signed by our names, and published on the 27th of August : it must have reached London on the 1st or 2nd of September ; your remonstrance must have been made on or before the 12th, for it was communicated to us on the 16th. The effect produced by our advertisement was electrical, and the debate which it caused on the very evening of its appearance, in the Irish House of Commons, was remarkable. As you doubtless read the newspapers of the day, these facts could not have been unknown to you. Why then should you be deceived by representations which we had recently contradicted under circumstances so extraordinary ? Mr. King, did you enter so deeply into the revolution of your country as to implicate your life in the issue of its fortunes ? From the strong attachment of your political friends, I presume you were a distinguished leader in those eventful times; if not, you had certainly read their history. Did you remember the calumnies which had been thrown out by British agents against the most upright and venerable patriots of America ? Did you call to mind the treatment which had been given in South Carolina to Governor Gadsen, to General Rutherford, Colonel Isaacs, and a number of others who had surrendered to that very Lord Cornwallis, with whom, through his Ministers, we negociated ; and that those distinguished characters were, in violation of their capitulation and the rights of parole, sent to St. Augustine, as we were afterwards to Fort George? How then is it possible that you could have been a dupe to the misrepresentations of the British Government ?
" These remarks I address, with all becoming respect to the
'first man in the country ;' yet in fact, Sir, I do not clearly see in what consists your superiority over myself. It is true you have beer. a resident minister at the Court of St. James's ; and if what I have read in the public prints be true, and if you be apprised of my near relationship and family connection with the late Sir John Temple, you must acknowledge that your interference as resident minister at the Court of St. James's, against my being permitted to emigrate to America, is a very curious instance of the caprice of fortune. But let that pass. To what extent I ought to yield to you for talents and information, is not for me to decide. In no other respect, however, do I feel your excessive superiority. My private character and conduct, are, I hope, as fair as yours; and even in these matters which I consider as trivial, but upon which aristocratic pride is accustomed to stamp a value, I should not be inclined to shrink from competion. My birth certainly will not humble me by the comparison ; my paternal fortune probably much greater than yours; the consideration in which the name I bear was held in my native country, was as great as yours is ever likely to be, before I had an opportunity of contributing to its celebrity. As to the amount of what private fortune I have been able to save from the wreck of calamity, it is unknown to you or to your friends ; but two things I will tell you—I never was indebted, either in the country from which I came, nor in any other in which I have lived, to any man, further than the necessary credit for the current expenses of a family; and am not so circumstanced that I should tremble 'for my subsistence at the threatened displeasure of your friends. So much for the past and present—now for the future. Circumstances which cannot be controlled have decided that my name must be embodied into history. From the manner in which even my political adversaries, and some of my contemporary historians, unequivocally hostile to my principles, already speak of me, I have the consolation of reflecting, that when the falsehoods of the day are withered and rotten, I shall be respected and esteemed. You, Sir, will probably be forgotten, when I shall be remembered with honour ; or if, peradventure, your name should decend to posterity, perhaps you will be known only as the recorded instrument of part of my persecutions, sufferings, and misfortunes.
I am, Sir, &c.,
“THOMAS ADDIS EMMET. “ New York, April 9th, 1807"
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 me. 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 fix 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 * Gratlan's Life, by his son.