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and my own,
direction to give no quarter to the troops fighting for its defence.'
of that God before whom I must shortly appear, that the favourite doctrine of my heart was——that no human being should suffer death, but where absolute necessity required it.”
After having spoken for a considerable time to the same effect, he proceeded. "Now, my lords, I have no favour to ask of the Court. My country has decided that I am guilty; and the law says that I shall suffer. It sees that I am ready to suffer. 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
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 a 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 room for asking it. If immediately both of us be taken off, an aged and reverend 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
you to that Being who has endued us all with sensibility to feel. This is all I ask.”
To this affecting appeal, Lord Carleton replied: "In the awful duty imposed on me, no man can be more sensibly affected than I am, because I knew the very valuable and respectable father and mother from whom you are both descended. I knew and revered their virtues. One of them, happily for himself, is now no more: the other, for whom I have the highest personal respect, probably, by the events of this day, may be hastened into futurity. It does not rest with us, after the conviction which has taken place, to hold out mercy—that is for another place; and I am afraid, in the present situation of public affairs, it will be difficult to grant even that indulgence which you, John Sheares, so pathetically request for your brother. With respect to the object of your soliciting time for your brother, unfortunately it could be of no use ; because, by the attainder, he will forfeit all his property, real and personal: nothing to be settled will remain."
His lordship then, after some preliminary observations, pronounced sentence of death upon the prisoners; and, at the prayer of the attorney-general, directed that it should be executed on the succeeding day.*
* A few hours before his execution, Henry Sheares wrote a letter to Mr. (afterwards Sir Jonah) Barrington, a facsimile of which is to be found in the latter's "Historic Anecdotes of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland.” Barrington says: "Thers never was a more affecting picture of a feeling, agonized mind, at the approach of a violent death, than is this facsimile. Had but three hours been granted for the unhappy culprit's preparation for his fate, he would have been respited, Lord Clare was disposed to act with great humanity towards this amiable, but misguided man, having discovered that he was utterly ignorant of the sanguinary proclamation, which was found in his secretaire-he had never seen it." In Henry Sheares' letter, he besought Barrington to fly to the Lord Chancellor--"Ah, save a man whose fate will kill his family!"-to tell the Chancellor that he would pray for him for ever, "and that the Government shall ever find me what they wish,"—that the papers found in his office he knew nothing of that he had been duped, misled, deceived—that he never was for violence-that his whole happiness was centred in his family, “with them I will go to America, if the Government will allow me; or that I will stay here, and be the most zenlous friend they have," and would be under any conditions the Government might choose to impose on him, if they would but restore him to his family. This letter is dated 8 o'clock, but did not reach Barrington
The following is a copy of Mr. John Sheares' farewell letter to his family. It is addressed to his sister, to whom he had been most tenderly attached. It may not have much literary merit; "but nature is there, which is the greatest beauty."
“ KILMAINHAM PRISON.–Wednesday night. “The troublesome scene of life is nearly closed; and the hand that now traces these lines, in a short time will be no longer capable of communicating to a beloved family the sentiments of his heart.
" It is now eleven o'clock, and I have only time to address my beloved Julia in a short, eternal farewell. Thou sacred Power ! whatever be thy name and nature—who has created us the frail and imperfect creatures that we are, hear the ardent prayer of one now on the eve of a most awful change. If thy Divine Providence can be affected by mortal supplication, hear and grant, I most humbly beseech thee, the last wishes of a heart that has ever adored thy greatness and thy goodness. Let peace and happiness once more visit the bosom of my beloved family. Let a mild grief succeed the miseries they have endured; and, when an affectionate tear is generously shed over the dust of him who caused their misfortunes, let all their ensuing days glide on in union and domestic harmony. Enlighten my beloved brother : to him and his invaluable wife grant the undisturbed enjoyment of their mutual love; and, as they advance, let their attachment increase. Let my Julia, my feeling, my too feeling Julia, experience that
until 11 o'clock of the morning after the trial. He hastened to Lord Clare, and showed him the letter. It moved him; and he exclaimed, naturally enough, "What a coward he is!" He said it was impossible to save John Sheares, and the doubt was how the Viceroy could draw the distinction between them. At last, anticipating that Henry would make any disclosures to save his life, he desired Barrington to go to the prison, see Henry Sheares, and put the question to him. “I lost no time,” says Barrington, “but I found, on my arrival, that orders had been given, that nobody should be admitted without a written permission. I returned to the Castle—they were all in council. Cooke (the Secretary) was not in his office I was delayed. At length the Secretary returned-gave mne the order. I hastened to Newgate, and arrived at the very moment the executioner Was holding up the head of my friend, saying : • Bere is the head of a traitor!" »-M.
In the cemetery of the Church of St. Michan's, in Dublin, there are vaults for the reception of the dead, of which the atmosphere has the peculiar quality of protracting for many years the process of animal decay. It is not unusual to see there the coffins crumbling away from around what they were intended for ever to conceal, and thus giving up once more to human view their contents, still pertinaciously resisting the influence of time. In this place the unfortunate brothers were deposited ;* and in this state of undesigned disinterment their remains may be seen to this day, the heads dissevered from the trunks, and “the band that once traced those lines” not yet mouldered into dust.*
* They were hanged and beheaded in the front of Newgate. Davis says of Jobs Sheares : " He died (as did Henry, too, when he really came to his doom), placidly and well.” On the other hand, Barrington records that " They came hand in band to the scaffold : Henry died without firmness—the brother met his death with sufficient fortitude."-M.
+ This reproach is out of date in 1858. In consequence of what Mr. W. II. Currab stated on this subject, in these pages and elsewhere, the mortal remains of the Sheareses were put out of public view, into substantial oak coflins.-M.
Trials of M'Cann, Byrne, and Oliver Bond-Reynolds the informer-Lord Edward Fitz
gerald-His attainder-Mr. Curran's conduct upon the State Trials—Lord Kilwarden's friendship-Lines addressed by Mr. Curran to Lady Charlotte Rawdon—Theobald Wolle Tone-His trial and death.
The trial of the Sheareses was followed by that of John M'Cann of the 17th of July, 1798, of William Michael Byrne on the 20th, and Oliver Bond on the 23d of the same month.
These were among the persons who had been at the head of the United Irishmen in the metropolis, and whom the Government, upon information communicated by one of their associates, had arrested in the preceding March. Mr. Curran acted as leading counsel for them all; but his speeches in the two former cases having been entirely suppressed,* the present account must be confined to his defence of Bond.
(Oliver Bond was an eminent woollen-draper, residing in Bridge Street, Dublin, and is described by Davis as “a shrewd, kind man." He was indicted for high treason, that is for having administered unlawful oaths, on the 20th of May, 1798, to Thomas Reynolds and others, for conspiring to cause a rebellion to overthrow the King's government, for collecting money to furnish arms and ammunition for that purpose, for aiding and causing Reynolds to be a rebel Colonel in the county of Kildare, and for aiding and assisting the French to invade Ireland, &c.
The principal witness, Thomas Reynolds, of Kilkea Castle, “swore hard” but many persons testified that he was not to be believed upon his oath. In fact, he was steeped to the eyes in
* M'Cann and Byrne were convicted and executed.-C.