Page images
PDF

captivity, without any other pretext than’ Mr. King's op- position ; because the British government felt, or pretended, a fear of leaving them at large amidst its enemies in Europe.— These facts were simply stated by Mr. Emmet to a meeting of - the Hibernian Provident Society, at the request of several of its - members. All at once, the adherents of Mr. King were excited to the utmost fury, as though his conduct could not be candidly represented, without his character being greatly

injured.

If his acts against the Irish state prisoners in 1798, be really meritorious, though so hurtful to them, they return him go-Od for evil in recording those acts for the benefit of his reputation ; and he will allow, at least, that those who suffered from his zeal have the right to complain of their misfortune. To do men an immense mischief, and to suppress every mention of it, are such practises as a minister to the court of St. James will never, ove trust, be able to naturalize in America. so o - - - - ~, . It was not representing this free country in the most amiable or dignified manner, to join the vindictive ministry of a powerful monarch, and impose pains and penalties on these whose misfortune it was to have made unsuccessful efforts in the cause of liberty. If a feeling of generous sympathy had led the American minister out of the line of his official duty, to interfere rather in behalf than against men who were driven from their homes, like the first settlers of America, by the civil and religious persecutions of the English; he could not be said to have betrayed the principles of his government, nor to have deserted». the cause of the revolution.

[blocks in formation]

: The sufferings of Ireland are as well known to all Europe, a * the very existence of that ill-fated country; so much, indeed 2

[merged small][ocr errors]

that it would have been no presumption in Mr. King to formes - y

* - - o “...-- -- - - - - - concernin . . . o

[ocr errors]

"Jackson.

** - * ,

concerning the disturbances there, a deliberate opinion;" but then an avowed acquaintance with their causes, and a collateral

preference of their authors, could not be acknowledged with any

decency. What was tyranny against the Americans, would necessarily be tyranny against the Irish; and the resistance so glorious in one country, could not be accounted a crime in the other. - - . . . . . .

“You must be sensible,” says Mr. King, (letter to H. Jackson) <$ that I possess no sufficient means of forming aii opinion respecting your sentiments.” And was it indeed requisite to conciliate the sentiments of Mr. King, in order to have ingress to the United States! This assumption of authority is surely 'very lofty, and not less unwarrantable. A passport is not necessay to a foreigner for coming into this country, as it is in England, France and Russia; because the genius of its government, in unison with its laws, is to suppose every man inno

cent until the contrary is proved, . . . . . . . . . .

But with all this affected reserve on the - subject of the distur-

- - - - r" . - * . - bances in Ireland, and the want of means for forming an opinion,

it appears among the contradictory passages of this extraordinary

letter, that in reality an opinion was formed, and an apprehension

entertained that those emigrants would arrange themselves on the side of those whom Mr. King has called the makontent, because opposed to him and his party; but who are known in the country itself by the distinctive appellation of republicans— *The Irish, forced to emigrate by the pressure of an intolerable government, and desirous of an asylum in America, were men who had proved on their native soil their adherence to the principles of the American declaration of independence. Their sene : A 2 ‘. . . . . . . . . timents

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

timents were certainly not equivocal. The principles of the American constitution were their principles—they had drawn them from that source, and they ought never to be objects of jealousy to its friends. But if this country should contain nominal republicans and real tories, abettors of the English system, the United Irishmen may at all times expect to encounter their hostility.

The very oppressions which the Irish suffer at home, teach them to prize the freedom of America more ardently than is always done by her native sons, who have the exalted privilege of knowing nothing of despotism, but what they learn from the description of other nations. If they may then be justly reputed the best Americans who feel most devotion to our republican institutions, those, whom Mr. King sought to exclude from our shores, will be found to have juster pretensions, than many who claim extraordinary merit for being a degree or two removed from an European ancestor.

Mr. Rufus King would not permit himself to decide on the real deserts of those men; but he looked to the naked fact of their being traduced and outlawed by their enemies. Nothing could surely be more partial or unjust, at a time that he was taking an important step by which they were to be materially affected. It did not follow that what a despotic government did against them was therefore proper; for they might possess the virtues of Hancock, notwithstanding the proscription of George the Third. It would have been more legitimate to conclude in the first instance, if judgment were to be given without enquiry, that the victims of tyrannic power were upright men, advocates of liberty, and of the rights of their country. The banishment of Aristides was disgraceful only to his oppressors, and he must be as unjust as they, who would overlook the cause, and decide against his character, from the bare fact of his exile. The banishment and execution of Sydney were never

known

INTRODUCTION. - V

known to prejudice the immortal name of that patriot, nor were the liberal and enlightened ever seen to separate his memory from the execration of a cruel government. Those men so very seditious in Boston and Charleston in 1775 were not less the true friends of their country, patriots of whom she will hereafter boast as the pillars of her glory and happiness, when she will perhaps endeavour to hide the stain of the servility that opposed them, and that would be forgotten, but for the succession of tories, who, by their slavish principles and despotic

acts, compel us to look occasionally to the enemies of our

freedom,

Could it be overlooked, that the character of men contending for their liberties was not to be taken from the description of the British cabinet: Were not the most opprobrious epithets during the American war applied in England by the king's

friends, and in America by the king's tories, to the leaders of the American revolution 2 John Hancock, Samuel Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, George Clinton,

were branded as traitors to their lawful sovereign, ambitious demagogues, deserving the gallows. And if success had not hallowed resistance, without being able to add to its justice, those illustrious men, as well as Greene, Gates, Henry and Montgomery, and all the other great and intrepid spirits whom republican America honours in the calender of her heroes, would have suffered the obloquy of slaves, and the vengeance of a tyrant.

The British government regards a certain set of men as male. factors—and because it does, the American minister is to entertain the same opinion 1 No body can doubt that this was very complaisant towards the British government; but was it equally impartial towards those unfortunate men 2 When the Christians in Japan were persecuted for the alledged danger of their principles, if they had formed a compact with their idolatrous and

[ocr errors]

powerful oppressors for emigrating to Europe, where those very principles were revered for which they were proscribed at home; what should we think of the Dutch ambassador who would protest against their emigration, because their pagan tyrants swept them off in quality of malefactors Would it be thought a good defence of his conduct to say, that they might join the malcontent advocates of liberty of conscience in Europe, for that they had rebelled against the lawful idols of Japan 2 It does not appear how Mr. King could have any duty to perform for America, contrary to the constitution of the country, and not even authorized by the instructions of the government. By the ninth section of the constitution, the migration of such persons as any of the existing states might think proper

to admit, could not be prohibited by congress itself, when it

was prohibited by Mr. King. None of the states had enacted

any prohibition—the entrance to the union was consequently

open to all the world, until Mr. King officially shut it against a

number of republicans from Ireland. In doing this, he violated

the constitution in form and in substance; he sinned against the

letter and the spirit. Nor is this judgment the biassed opinion

of the suffering party alone : it appears to be that of the electors of New-York, who, the other day, would not trust him with the guardianship of their rights.

[ocr errors]

- The law of nations will bear out Mr. King as little as the

constitution of America; for though it does not permit that

one country shall make another a place of legal and compulsory

banishment for crimes which are equally repugnant to the laws of every community, it did not hinder the friends of Irish inde. pendence, for the present subdued by its enemies, from entering with them into a negociation, the basis of which was this tacit

[ocr errors]

acknowledgment— * - , , * . . “Both parties cannot peaceably exist in the same realm.”

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »