« السابقةمتابعة »
* in the metropolis these nocturnal exercises took place, in the • habitations of the more opulent and ardent of the conspirators. • In the interior, their evolutions were performed upon a more s extensive scale. There, every evening that the moon, the sig
nal of rendezvous, was to be seen in the heavens, the pe:asant, * without reposing from the toils of the day, stole forth with his 'rude implement of war, to pass the night upon the nearest
unfrequented heath, with thousands of his comrades, who were assembled at that place and hour, as for the celebration of some unrighteous mysteries.' II. 16, 17.
They sought assistance from France in the year 1796 ; and, upon the instigation of Tone, the armanent under Hoche was arranged. In the course of the following year, Mr C. says there were 500,000 in arms for the cause.
The following passage deserves well to be weighed and remembered.
· The old Irish government was a mechanical, not a moral system; it was, what it has been so often likened to, a citadel in an enemy's country ; its first and its last expedient was Force; it forgot that those whom no force can subdue, nor dangers terrify, will kneel before an act of conciliation. But it obstinately refused to conciliate; and the people at length, prepared by the sufferings and indignities of centuries, listened with sanguine or desperate credulity to the counsel which reminded them of their strength, and directed them to employ it in one furious effort, which, whether it failed or prospered, could not èmbitter their condition. The Irish aristocracy, who imagined that because they were loyal, they might proceed to every violent extreme, were a bånd of political fanatics, and would have made proselytes by the sword. They knew nothing of the real nature of the allegiance which they were so zealous to establish, and which was never yet established by the sword. They were not aware that the allegiance of a nation to the State is a feeling compounded of a thousand others,-half interest, half sentiment,--of gratitude, of hope, of recollections, of the numberless minute and " tender influpassed his statute, setting forth, in pompous phraseology, its wisdom and necessity, and denouncing the gibbet against the offender, and then returned to his district, to defeat its efficacy, by giving a practical continuance to the misery, the passions, the galling epithets, and the long train of customary insults and local provocations that were for ever instigating to crime. He did, what was stranger and more absurd than this he had the folly to put the State in competir tion with a power above it. He trampled upon the religion of the people.' II. 22–29.
that reconcile the subject to his condition ; that it is seldom a direct and defined attachment to the sovereign, but a collection of many subordinate attachments, of which the sovereign has all the benefit ; that it is but the youngest of the group of private virtues, and, like themi, must be reared in the bosom of domestic comfort ; that it is upon the moral allegiance of each rank to its immediate relations, of the servant to his master, of the artisan to his employer, of the tenant to his landlord, that must be founded the political allegiance of the whole to the State. — Those mistaken loyalists supposed that they were teaching allegiance by a haughty and vindictive enforcement of the laws against its violation. They did not see that they were exacting from the laws what no laws could perform; that their positive provisions must be always impotent, where their spirit is not previously infused into the subject by manners and institutions. In Ireland these two were at perpetual variance. The Irish lawgiver
Such were the true causes of the ayidity with which the bulk of the Irish populace rushed into this lamentable conspiracy, and of the ill success which attended the efforts of the Government to arrest them. Not only, however, did they neglect those causes, but reviled, in the most abusive and contumelious terms, all those who warned them of their existence, and of the consequences which must follow from disregarding them. To those who knew the steady loyalty and personal dignity of the late Mr Ponsonby, it must convey a very striking image of the temper of the times, to find his patriotic warnings as to the necessity of conciliation thus answered by the then Solicitor-General.
• What was it come to, that in the Irish House of Commons they should listen to one of their own members degrading the character of an Irish gentleman by language which was fitted but for hallooing a mob? Had he heard a man uttering out of those doors such language as that by which the honourable gentleman had violated the decorum of Parliament, he would have seized the ruffian by the throat, and dragged him to the dust! What were the House made of who could listen in patience to such abominable sentiments ?—sentiments which, thank God, were acknowledged by no class of men in this country, except the execrable and infamous nest of traitors who were known by the name of United Irishmen, who sat brooding in Belfast over their discontents and treasons, and from whose publications he could trace, word for word, every expression the honourable gentlemau had used.' II. p. 35, Note,
In this spirit was the rebellion-we will not say provokedbut waited for and defied. In 1797, the Government did not believe in the likelihood of any general insurrection, and unquestionably were very ill prepared to resist it. In that year, when an attack was projected on Dublin, it is said (p. 38) that every militia soldier who was to have mounted guard that day in the city, was in the interest of the insurgents—and that a great proportion of the native forces throughout the country were of the same persuasion. In 1798, they were somewhat better informed as to the impending crisis. In March, they arrested a great number of persons, and issued a solemn proclamation announcing the existence of the conspiracy, and the likelihood of its speedy explosion. It was soon generally un
derstood that the 23d of May was the day fixed for the rising; and—(but it is a relief to be able to give the sequel in the striking words of the author before us)—' as it approached, the fearful tokens became too manifest to be mistaken. In the interior, the peasantry were already in motion. Night after night large masses of them were known to be proceeding by unfrequented paths to some central points. Over whole tracts of country the cabins were deserted, or contained only women and children, from whom the inquirers could extort no tidings of the owners. In the towns, to which, in the intervals of labour, the lower classes delighted to flock, a frightful diminution of numbers was observed'; while the few that appeared there, betrayed, by the moody exultation of their looks, that they were not ignorant of the cause. Throughout the capital the military array and bustle in some streets—the silence and desertion of other's
- the names of the inhabitants registered on every door-the suspension of public amusements, and almost of private intercourse the daily proclamations--prayers put up in the churches for the general safety-families flying to England-partings that might be eternalevery thing oppressed the imagination with the conviction, that a great public convulsion was at hand. The parliament and the courts of justice, with a laudable attachment to the forms of the constitution, continued their sittings; but the strange aspect, of senators and advocates transacting civil business in the garb of soldiers, reminded the spectator that the final dependence of the State was upon a power beyond the laws. The vigorous precautions of the administration, instead of inspiring confidence, kept alive the public terror and suspense. In every quarter of the kingdom, the populace were sent in droves to the prisons, till the prisons could contain no more. The vessels in the several bays adjoining the scenes of disturbance were next converted into gaols. The law was put aside : a non-commissioned officer became the arbiter of life and death. The military were dispersed through every house : military visits were paid to every
house in search of arms, or other evidence of treason. The dead were intercepted on their passage to the grave, and their coffins examined, lest they might contain rebellious weapons. Many of the conspirators were informally executed. Many persons who were innocent were arrested and abused. Many, who might have been innocent, were suspected, and summarily put to death.
* Upon the appointed day the explosion took place. The shock was dreadful. The imagination recoils from a detail of the scenes that followed. Every excess that could have been apprehended from a soldiery, whom General Abercrombie, in the language of manly reproof, had declared to be in a state of licentiousness that rendered it formidable to all but the enemy; every act of furious retaliation to be expected from a peasantry inflamed by revenge and despair, and, in consequence of the loss of their leaders, surrendered to the auspices of their own impetuous passions, distinguished and disgraced this fatal conflict. After a short and sanguinary struggle, the insurgents were crushed. The numbers of them who perished in the field, or on
the scaffold, or were exiled, are said to have amounted to 50,000 ;the losses upon the side of the crown have been computed at 20,000 lives.' II. pp. 39–44.
We turn gladly, and at once, from this dreadful catastrophe. Never certainly was short-lived tranquillity-or rather permas nent danger so dearly bought. The vengeance of the law followed the havoc of the sword-and here again we meet Mr C. in his strength and his glory. The first trial excited peculiar commiseration. It was that of two brothers of the name of Sheares-both members of the Irish bar-both very respectably connected, and in private life of most amiable characters.The Judge, before whom they were tried, had been the intimate friend of their family. Their counsel and several of their Jury had often met them in the intercourse of private society, The trial lasted till late in the morning.- When the verdict of guilty was at length returned, the unfortunate young men clasped each other in their arms,--there was a dead silence, and the Court was filled with tears. One brother was married, and when brought up the same day for judgment, attempted to say something, but was choked by his emotions. The other rose with greater firmness--and, after stating that he was resigned and ready to die, spoke as follows.
. But, my lords, I have a favour to request of the court that does not relate to myself. I have a brother, whom I have ever loved dearer than myself ;-but it is not from any affection for him alone that I am induced to make the request ;-he is a man, and therefore, I hope, prepared to die, if he stood as I do-though I do not stand unconnected ;- but he stands more dearly connected. In short, my lords, to spare your feelings and my own, I do not pray that I should not die; but that the husband, the father, the brother, and the son, all comprised in one person, holding these relations, dearer in life to him than any man I know ; for such a man I do not pray a pardon, for that is not in the power of the court; but I pray a respite for such time as the court, in its humanity and discretion, shall think proper. You have heard, my lords, that his private affairs require arrangement. I have a further reason for asking it. If immediately both of us be taken off, an aged and revered mother, a dear sister, and the most affectionate wife that ever lived, and six children, will be left without protection or provision of any kind. When I address myself to your Lordships, it is with the knowledge you will have of all the sons of our aged mother being gone : two perished in the service of the king, one very recently. I only request, that, disposing of me with what swiftness either the public mind or justice requires, a respite may be given to my brother, that the family may acquire strength to bear it all. That is all I wish. I shall remember it to my last breath ; and I will offer up my prayers for you to that Being who has endued us all with sensibility to feel. This is I ask.' 1. pp. 115, 116.
We scarcely know anything more affecting than these simple and disordered sentences. It was not thought possible, however, to accede to the prayer they contained; and both brothers were executed the succeeding day! There seems to have been no doubt of their guilt; yet the whole parole proof against them, for there was some written evidence, was the testimony of one witness, who was proved to have derided the obligation of an oath, and to have dealt largely in treasonable language. An objection was taken to their indictment, on the ground that one of the Grand Jury was a naturalized alien-and that this was - an office of trust,' of which such persons are incapable: but the objection was overruled. Mr C.'s speech on this occasion, of which the only report is to be found in the work before us, seems to have been chiefly remarkable for its melancholy pathos, and the religious solemnity of his appeals to the consciences of the Jury. We pass over the rest of these melancholy trials; in which we are far from insinuating, that there was any reprehensible severity on the part of the Governnient. When matters had come that length, they had but one duty before them-and they seem to have discharged it (if we except one or two posthumous attainders) with mercy as well as fairness; for after a certain number of victims had been selected, an arrangement was made with the rest of the state prisoners, under which they were allowed to expatriate themselves for life. It would be improper, however, to leave the subject, without offering our tribute of respect and admiration to the singular courage, fidelity and humanity, with which Mr C. persisted, throughout these agonizing scenes, in doing his duty to the unfortunate prisoners, and watching over the administration of that law, from the spectacle of whose vengeance there were so many temptations to withdraw. This painful and heroic task he undertook-and never blenched from its execution, in spite of the toil and disgust, and the obloquy and personal hazard to which it contivually exposed him. In that inflamed state of the public mind, it is easy to understand that the advocate was frequently confounded with the client; and that, besides the murderous vengeance of the profligate informers he had so often to denounce, he had to encounter the passions and prejudices of all those who chose to look on the defender of traitors as their associate. Instead of being cheered therefore, as formerly, by the applauses of his auditors, he was often obliged to submit to their angry interruptions, and was actually menaced more than once, in the open court, by the clashing arms and indignant menaces of the military spectators. He had excessive numbers of soldiers, too, billeted on him, and was in many other ways exposed to loss and vexation; but he