Page images
PDF
EPUB

should think fit. They were commonly called the executive. When the organization began in Leinstcr, and shortly after the French left Bantry Bay, some persons resident in this province were associated to that body; things continued thus until many began to think that elections should take place pursuant to the constitution. The fidelity of the people had by that time been so abundantly proved, that men did not hesitate to submit themselves to a guardeJ election by the Leinster provincial. National delegates were therefore chosen by it, who acted for their 6wn province, and occasionally consulted with the executive of the north on subjects of general importance. The election of national delegates first toook place, as we best recollect, about the latter end of November or December, 1797.

The military organization had no existence until towards the latter end of 1796, and was as near as could be engrafted on the civil: in order to avoid giving alarm, it continued to conceal itself as much as possible under the usual denominations. The secretary of a society of twelve was commonly the petty officer; the delegate of five societies to a lower baronial, when the population required such an intermediate step, was usually the captain, and the delegate from the lower to fhe upper baronial was usually the colonel. All officers to colonels up were indispensibly elected by those they were to command, but at that point the interference of the societies ceased, and every higher commission was in the appointment of the executive; only as soon as sufficient numbers of regiments were organized in any county, the colonels were directed to transmit to the executive the names of three persons fit,' in their opinion, to act as adjutants-general for that county; of those the executive choose one; and through this organ, all military communications were made to the several counties. In consequence of such arrangements, not more than one of the executive need ever be committed with any county, and that only to a person of his own choice from among three. It so happened, that the same member was entitled titled to hold communication with several adjutants-general, which still further diminished the risk to the executive : we refer to the amended printed constitution, where the military orga. nizatiou without being named, is more correctly set forth, than we can give it from memory. As to the manner in which these men were to be provided with arms and ammunition, every man who could afford it was directed to provide himself with a musket, bayonet, and as much ammunition as he could ; every other man with a pike, and, if he was able, a case of pistols j but this, we apprehend, was not strictly adhered to. We have heard it said, that treasurers were appointed for raising money to purchase arms, but no such appointment was ever made, at least by the executive. Perhaps some private societies might have adopted such a measure.

In many instances, the lower orders went about to private houses to search for arms; this the executive constantly endeavoured to prevent, because they were unwilling to raise alarm in their adversaries, or let the members of their body acquire habits of plunder, and be confounded with robbers. They endeavoured to dissuade them from these acts, by representing to the people that the arms would always be kept in better condition by the gentlemen than by them, and could be easily seized whenever necessary. In other respects our stores were in the arsenal in the castle, and the military depots throughout the country j our supplies were iu the treasury,

A military committee was appointed by the executive in February, 1798, for the principal purpose of preparing plans of operations, either iu case of a premature insurrection, if we should be unfortunately ar.d uuwilLngly forced into cr.e, or of the invasion from France. As a committee it did nothing, but some of its members took r,p the consideration of the latter subject, and framed instructions how to act in case of a landing of a foreign force ;—these were sent by the executive to

c c 2 «uch

such adjutants-general as had received their appointments; they generally went to use every effort in favour of the French.

Attempts were made with as much zeal as the necessary caution would permit, to introduce the system among the military, the militia especially; but the reports of the agents were mostly confused and unsatisfactory, so that the success of the measure could never he ascertained with any tolerable accuracy.

We have read in some evidence lately given, that a person wa» appointed colonel by a commission from a general in the rebel army. We must beg leave to doubt, if not deny, the truth of that assertion. No general was ever chosen for Leinster, and colonels were always appointed by their captains; they derived their authority from this appointment, not from any commission of a general.

If Irish officers in foreign service had joined in our cause, they would have been gladly received, and rapidly promoted. Indeed an attempt to procure that was actually set on foot; we counted on their attachment to their native soil, and hatred to England, as a substitute for republicanism, and when they should be convinced that such a form of government was the best security for the permanent separation of the two countries, we were sure of their fidelity. It has so happened, however, from the delay of peace on the continent, or because our agent was over cautious in conducting the negotiation lest it should become known to the respective potentates, and communicated to the British court, that nothing in conseqnence of it has hitherfo been effected.

We can aver, that no general plan of insurrection existed be* fore the 12th of March, 1798; but some individuals had per.

hap* haps formed local ones, adapted to the taking Dublin, and a few other places. When the north was on the point of rising, after the celebrated proclamation of General Lake, a plan of operations had been suggested for that occasion, which was destroyed as soon as the people were dissuaded from the enterprize, of which we cannot now speak with any degree of precision.

Several recommendations were occasionally handed down from the executive, through the committees, the dates or contents of which we cannot undertake to detail, unless they should be called to our recollection. The most remarkable, as they now occur to us, was a recommendation to abstain from spirituous and exciseable articles, not so much to destroy the resources of government, as for the purpose of preserving sobriety, which was so necessary to secrecy; and morality, which was so necessary to good order. It may be right to remark, that fhp recommenT dation was, however painful to the people and contrary to their former habits, most astonishingly complied with. The executive also directed to discourage the circulation of bank notes, and published a hand-bill cautioning against the purchasing of quit-? rents, pursuant to a scheme then in agitation, declaring, that at such a sale was an anticipation of the future resources of the country, it should not be allowed to stand good in the event of a revolution. The reasons for these publications are obvious. We must here remark, that many things were intrusted by the executive to some one of its members; it having been an invariable rule, that no more than one of them should", on any occasion, be committed with persons not of its body. For this reason, many things here stated are set forth on the credit of one individual, but believed by /the remainder.

About the middle of 17SS, a meeting of the executive took place, more important in its discussions and its consequences, than any that had preceded it; as such we have thought ourselves bound to give an account of if with ijlie most perfect frankness^

and and more than ordinary precision. This meeting took place in consequence of a letter from one of the society, who had emigrated on account of political opinions: it mentioned that the state of the country had been represented to the government of France in so favourable a point of view, as to induce them to Tesolve upon invading Ireland, for the purpose of enabling it to separate itself from Great Britain,. On this solemn and important occasion, a serious review was taken of the state of the Irish nation at that period: it was observed that a desperate ferment existed in the public mind; a resolution in favour of a parliamentary reform had indeed been passed in 1795 by the house of commons—but after it had been frustrated by several successive adjournments, all hope of its attainment vanished, and its friends Were every where proscribed; the volunteers were put down; all power of meeting by delegation for any political purpose, the mode in which it was most usual and expedient to cooperate On any subject of importance, was taken away at the same time. The provocations of the year 1794,, the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, and the re-assumption of coercive measures that followed it, were strongly dwelt on: the county of Armagh had been long desolated by two contending factions, agreeing only in one thing, an opinion, that most of the active ma* gtstrates in that county treated one party with the most fostering kindness, and the other with the most rigorous persecution. It was stated, that so marked a partiality exasperated the sufferers, and these who sympathized in their misfortunes. It was urged with indignation, that notwithstanding the greatness of the military establishment in Ireland, and its having been able to suppress t lie Defenders in various counties, it was not able, or was not employed to suppress these outrages in that county, which drove 7000 peTsons from their native dwellings. The magistrates, who took no steps against the Orangemen, were said to have overleaped the boundaries of Ia.w to pursue and punish the Defenders. The government seemed to take upon themselves those injuries by the indemnity act, and even-honoured the violators;

and

« PreviousContinue »