« PreviousContinue »
learned. We know nothing of further communications from any foreign state, nor of the future plan of operations of the French; but we arc convinced they will not abandon the plan of separating this country from England, so long as the discontents of the people would induce them to support an invasion.
Let us, then, while Ireland is yet our country, be indulged in a few remarks, which we deem extremely important to its future prosperity; now that we have given these full and faithful details of the past, we cannot be suspected of any but pure and disinterested motives in what we are about to say, ere we leave it for ever. The parts we have acted, have enabled us to gain the most intimate knowledge of the dispositions and hearts of our countrymen. From that knowledge we speak, when we declare our deepest conviction that the penal laws, which have followed in such doleful and rapid succession—the house-burnings—arbitrary imprisonments—free quarUrs—and above all, the tortures to extort confessions—neither have had, or can have, any other effect but exciting the most lively rancour in the hearts of almost all the people of Ireland, against those of their countrymen who have had recourse to such measures for maintaining their power, and against the connexion with Great Britain, whose men and whose aid have been poured in to assist them.
The matchless fidelity which has marked the Union—the unexampled firmness and contempt of death displayed by so many thousands at the halbert, in the field, in the goal, and at the gibbet, exempt us from claiming any belief on our personal credit. If the hearts of the people be not attached by some future measures, this nation will be again and more violently disturbed, on the coming of a foreign force. If a reform be adopted, founded upon the abolition of corporations and boroughs, as constituent bodies, and the'equal division of the representatives among those who may be entitled to the elective suffrage, the best possible step will be taken for preserving the monarchical constitution, and British connexion. For the success of this measure, we would not now answer—but of this we are sure, you must either extirpate or reform. THE EXAMINATION
The hurry and still agitated minds with which we write, will, we hope, not only apologize for any inaccuracy of style, but likewise serve the much more important purpose of excusing any expressions that may not be deemed sufficiently circumspect. Much as we wish to stop the effusion of blood, ahd the present scene of useless horrors, we have not affected a change of principles, which would only bring on us the imputation of hypocrisy, when it is our most anxious wish to evince perfect sincerity and good faith. We, however, entreat government to be assured, that while it is so much our interest to conciliate, it i« far from our intention to offend.
WILLIAM JAMES MAC NEFEN,
BEFORE THE SECRET COMMITTEE «F THE HOUSE OF LOEBS, AUGUST 7, 1798.
I TOOK the following minute of my examinations before the secret committees of the lords and commons, being convinced that they would not publish the entire of my answers, and that I should possibly find it necessary, in vindication of truth, to publish them myself. The garbled, disingenuous report of these committees has appeared, and when I had an opportunity of complaining to the Lord Chancellor of the unfairness with which my examinations are set forth in the appendix to it, he did not deny the fact, but declared very roundly, I must not expect they would publish more of them than would answer their purpose.—This, to be sure, was candid, and I will not conceal one of the very few merits I can allowing lordship.
The Lord Chancellor had before him extracts from the memoir which we sent to Lord Castlereagh on the 4th of August, in fulfilment of our agreement with government. They related to the facts detailed in our paper concerning the history and progress of the Union, detached from an account of the motives and abuses which were stated by us to have given rise to
the the resolutions we adopted. The examination was altogether conducted in a manner to obtain for such parts of the memoir, a certain authenticity for publication, without publishing the memoir itself. He went into a minute examination of the civil and military organization, and the various communications with France. When he came to that part which mentions a memoir given to the French minister at Hamburgh, he turned to an extract of a copy of it which he had before him. Upon some subsequent occasion, he said that no copy of the entire was ever sent from England, and in this I can readily believe him.—He asked how that memoir happened to be given to the French minister? I answered that the Irish agent applied to the French minister for a passport to go into France, which the minister made some difficulty in granting, but called for a memoir, and offered to transmit .it to his government. The memoir was accordingly written, and soon after the person got a passport. This tedious examination took up several hours.
Lord Clutncellor. Pray, Dr. Mac Neven, what number of troops did the Irish directory require from the French govern« ment for the invasion of Ireland? <
Mac Neven. The minimum force was 5,000 men, the maximum 10,000; with that number, and a large quantity of arms and ammunition, we knew that an Irish army could be formed and disciplined; this, aided by the universal wish of die people to shake off the yoke, we had no doubt would succeed; and we were always solicitous that no foreign force should be able to dictate in our country: Liberty and national independence being our object, we never meant to engage in a struggle for a change «f masters.
Lord Chancellor. Was not your object a separation from England?
Mac Neven. It certainly became our object, when we were convinced that liberty was not otherwise attainable; our reasons for this determination are given in the memoir; it as a measure we were forced into, inasmuch as I am now, and always have been ef opinion, that if we were an independent republic, and Britain ceased to be formidable to us, our interest would require an intimate connexion with her.
Lord Chancellor. Such as subsists between England and America I
Mac Neven. Something like it, my Lord.
Archbishop of Cashel. In plain English, that Ireland should stand on her own bottom, and trade with every other country, just according as she found it would be her interest?
Mac Neven. Precisely, my Lord; I have not, I own, any idea of sacrificing the interests of Ireland to those of any other country; nor why we should not, in that, and in every respect, be as free as the English themselves.
Archbishop of Cashel. Ireland could not support herself alone.
Mac Neven. In my opinion she could; and if once her own mistress, would be invincible against England and France together; but this, my Lord, is a combination never to be expected. If necessary, I could bring as many proofs in support of this opinion, as a thing admits of, which may be only supported cr or opposed by probabilities.
Lord K'dnoarden. Had the north any intention of rising in rebellion in the summer of 1797: