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dispense with or annul the same, or declare that it was null and void from the beginning.

« So help me God.”



IN 1798,

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HE object of the United Irishmen was at first like that of the Americans, a redress of grievances. When not only that redress was refused, but they who demanded it, were subjected to persecution ; instead of desisting with the submissive resignation of slaves, they manfully arraigned the injustice of their oppressors, enlarged their views, and sought for independence.When compelled to pay the largest price that a nation can give for its happiness, they were not such pusillanimous fools as to content themselves with a condition which would not afford a reasonable expectation of, for ever excluding the return of their calamities. A reform in the commons house of parliament, comprehending the emancipation of the catholics, was what the United Irishmen earnestly desired; but when they found the whole force of English influence exerted to defeat their object, they easily perceived, that the master grievance of their country, was its dependance on England. Then, and not before, they resolved to sever the enslaving connection.


The English cabinet on their side, judged that the moment was now arrived for bringing that treason to issue, which Lord Clare, according to his own confession,* had been plotting during several years, for annihilating the parliament of Ireland, and vesting the whole dominion of the country in a foreign legislature.

Joined with him in this conspiracy were some others, and in the number Lord Castlereagh; all of whom, with cold blooded artifice, stirred up an insurrection that was to supply the necessary pretext for effecting their nefarious design.

In former times resort was had to similar acts of outrage, for the purpose of driving the natives into a resistance that should be followed by a forfeiture of their estates: Now, a rebellion was intentionally produced by the chief agents of the British ministry, in order to give an opportunity for confiscating the whole political power, and the independent character of the country, by an act of union,

The confidential friends of the British government were known to boast of having plunged the nation into this scene of horrors, Nor was the executive committee of the union unacquainted with the intention of reducing Ireland to depend on the will of a fo. reign power,t and that power an ambitious rival. They'exerted themselves therefore, and for some time with effect, in restrain. ing the impatience of their irritated countrymen. Although a recourse to arms might become necessary for the attainment of

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* In debates in the Irish house of lords on the Union.

+ So little was the policy of the British cabinet on this subject, a secret even out of Ireland, that the director Carnot told Dr. Mac Neven, in August, 1798, that a union was Mr. Pitt's object in his vexatious treat. ment of Ireland, and that it behoved the United Irishwen to be aware of his schemes.

one of their objects-separation, yet this itself was contemplated by them as the alternative only, of an unrelenting refusal to reform; and the executive in that, the last extremity, wished through the co-operation of a respectable French force, to exclude the barbarity of a purely civil war. This, when excited by the provocations daily given to it, was the convulsive effort of despair ; and but for the systernatic atrocities of the conspirators against the legislative independence of Ireland, no civil war would have occurred there to the present moment. We have the authority of the American congress, that the colonies were driven designedly into resistance, for the purpose of giving an opportunity to impose on them a standing army, illegal taxes, and to establish among them a system of despotism. This arbitrary project, after miscarrying in America, was transferred by the same monarch to Ireland, and unhappily succeeded there. Bea fore assistance could be obtained against his schemes, from the natural ally of his persecuted subjects, an enlarged scope was given to the intolerable practice of house-burnings, free quarters, tortures, and summary executions, which, as the ministry intended, exploded in rebellion. After this manner they facilitated the union; but neither the recollection of the means, nor the nature of the measure, could have any other effect than to strengthen the desire of separation.

When the contest began, its vigour greatly exceeded the cal. culations of those who provoked it. For some time it carried with it the justest terrors: and partial as it was, it almost shook the government to its centre. Of the progress of this insurrection, of the valour it developed, or of its unfortunate issue, I shall not speak at present. Let me, however, observe, that the prowess manifested by men untutored in scenes of death, except by their own sufferings, has convinced every thinking mind, that if they had then received even the small co-operation which arrived too late under Humbert, or if they had been possessed of more military skill, and military stores, their success would have been certain. But at the end of two months from the commencement of the insurrection, the enemy had acquired a decided superiority; in consequence of being incomparably better provided with the means of warfare, Most of the insurgent chiefs had fallen or surrendered, their forces kad capitulated or were dispersed. Before the 22d of July, the actions of New Ross, Arklow, and Vinegar Hill, were lost. Messrs. Aylmer and Fitzgerald, with the remaining forces in the courity of Kildare, had entered into military conditions, and no force remained in the field but a very inconsiderable body in the mountains of Wicklow,


At this time, without any concert with those individuals who were afterwards employed to negotiate on behalf of the state prisoners, and even without their knowledge, a plan was set on foot for rescuing the country from the vindictive massacre of its defeated inhabitants. Persons not at all implicated in the insurrection had taken up the measure, and the old lord Charlemont was represented to the state prisoners as desirous of being useful in procuring a retreat from all persecution for the past.Though too infirm to be an active agent between them and the government, he would undertake, it was alledged, to obtain a satisfactory guarantee of whatever terms might be settled. Accordingly, Mr. Francis Dobbs, one of the members in parliament for his borough, prompted as well by innate philantrophy as by the patriotic wishes of his noble friend, went round, with the permission of government, accompanied by one of the high sheriffs, to the different prisoners, and obtained the assent of most of them to an agreement of a somewhat similar import with that which was afterwards concluded. In this visit, he publicly assured his hearers, that the scope and object of his mission was to procure a most important advantage for the country at large ; to put a stop to further carnage, and to terminate, without the infliction of more calamity, an insurrection which had failed.


It became manifest to the state prisoners themselves, that prea Bent success was hopeless, and that the United Irishmen could not then struggle through the surrounding defeats to the independence and prosperity of their native land. The Anglo-Irish government had found a profligate informer, who, by false pre. tensions to principle, obtained the confidence of the gallant and unsuspicious Lord Edward Fitzgerald. The ruffian, of the name of Reynolds, became acquainted with some of the execu. tive, and with the proceedings of the Leinster provincial committee, to which he had been elected through the influence of the friend and patron whom he afterwards betrayed, and whose family he reduced, through confiscations, to poverty. He thus enabled government in the preceding March to arrest some of the persons then most efficient in the United Irish organization. There was an interruption of all system since those arrests, and no one had yet appeared sufficiently capable of filling the chasm which that misfortune left in the direction of the Union. The arrest and death of Lord Edward himself in the month of May, had drawn after them a train of disastrous consequences, that were at that time perhaps irreparable. The loss subsequently sus, tained of other energetic patriots, who were prepared to second his exertions, occasioned the failure of his well-concerted plans. The Irish nation could not sustain a greater misfortune in the person

of any one individual, than befell it in the loss of Fitz. gerald at that critical moment. Even his enemies, and he had none but those of his country, allowed him to possess distinguished military talents. With these, with unquestioned intrepidity, republicanism, and devotion to Ireland, with popularity that gave

him unbounded influence, and integrity that made him worthy of the highest trust; had he been present in the Irish camp to organize discipline, and give to the valour of his country a scientific direction, we should have seen the slaves of monarchy fly before the republicans of Ireland, as they did before tlle patriots of America. And if at last the tears of his coun,


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