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commencement of the insurrection, the sum of an Chap. hundred thousand pounds was voted, by the house of y^^Lj commons, for the immediate relief of such refugees as should appear destitute of the means of subsistence; and for its distribution a most respectable body of commissioners was appointed, who gave, according to circumstances, sums not exceeding fifty pounds to each. After their temporary relief, government extended its views to the compensation of loyalists. The estimates of their losses were authenticated by their own affidavits, together with those of the clergy and landlords. The two latter were required to swear that they sincerely believed the estimates to be true, and the claimants loyal. The sum total of the claims amounted to a million and twenty-three thousand pounds; of which five hundred and fifteen thousand belonged to the county of Wexford. The estimates, in some instances far above, in some much below, the truth, were on the whole amount, in my opinion, so moderate as not to exceed two-thirds of the reality. A million may be moderate for the losses of people, who, barred from compensation, sent no estimates. Thus the whole detriment may not have fallen far short of even three millions.
The destruction of property was not the onlv_
r L * » Depravation
species of damage resulting to the community fromof monu. this ill-fated combination. To this may be added the loss of lives, the suspension of industry, the obstruction of commerce, the interruption of credit in pecuniary transactions, and, above all, the depravation
c H A p., pravatiott of morals in the seats of civil violence. t, 'i The mind of man seemed brutalized in many in
stances. The worst of the species had room to display a malignity of nature, whose existence might be doubted without the evidence of fa6ts. To some, the tortures of their fellow-creatures were manifestly an amusement. Numbers were flogged without even a pretence of information given against them. To raise the pain to extremity, pepper and salt were sometimes thrown into the cuts during the operation. Prisoners, without trial, were strangled to death by suspension from the shoulders of tall men, who were thence- denominated walking gallows. To the debasement of the military character, a commissioned officer was distinguished by this title. By such exhibitions the sense of moral turpitude was blunted. To dwell on the sad propensity to extortion, cheating, pilfering, and robbing, encouraged by a temporary dissolution of civil government; on the practice of perjury and subornation in trials; and of perjury in claims of losses, even by persons who might well be supposed superior to such meanness, without consideration of religious obligations, would be attended with more pain than utility. It was a harvest for the wicked, some of whom made fortunes in various ways, while men of principle sustained heavy losses. Some acquired more by plunder than they had ever been worth, made afterward* exorbitant claims for losses, and where the receipts for money, which had been formerly paid to them
in in their private dealings were lost, payment was ex- Chap. act#d a second time.
As the affidavits of the clergy, authenticating those of claimants, were indispensably required to be all in their own hand-writing, the labour of some parish ministers was, from various causes, enormous. The pleasure of procuring aid for the deserving, compensated the toil: but when cases occurred, happily few in comparison, where a clergyman was required to swear, that he sincerely believed an affidavit to be true, which appeared to him suspicious, the business was perplexing. To know the real state of the claimant's property and losses he could not pretend: to refuse his sanction, without being able to assign any reason, would be regarded as totally indefensible: and to commit perjury would be intolerable. How far the consciences of some clergymen might be quieted by a practice pursued, 'I cannot pretend to say. The clergyman signed his affidavit without swearing, and the magistrate certified it as sworn before him. I believe that very few were capable of signing, in this manner, what they would not swear; hardly any at all, doubtless, in the diocese of Ferns. But a clergyman might have written and signed affidavits, to have them ready for the sanction of his oath after due consideration and enquiry; and these, mean time, might be brought by the claimants to'a magistrate, who would certify them without suspicion, whence they might be transnijtted to the commissioners without farther enquiry. I hope that such frauds were very - Vol. II. H h rare.
Chap. rare. The commissioners acted their part through
;out, with dignified integrity; though they could not always escape deception. , left '^ave somewha': anticipated in marking the evil the French consequences of rebellion in the south of Ireland.
"""• A small part of the claims of compensation came
1798. r r
from the west, where commotion had been excited by a small invading force. That the government of France was at this time very feebly administered, appears from the neglect of attempting to send assistance to the Irish rebels, while they were in strength. If, according to the advice of lord Edward Fitzgerald, a number of swift vessels had been sent to different parts of the coast, with officers, troops, arms, and ammunition, some of them might have eluded the vigilance of the British cruisers. Such supplies, what they most of all wanted, might have inspirited the insurgents to dangerous enterprizes. What effects might thus have been produced, we may in some degree conjecture from the impression made on the kingdom by a contemptibly small body of French troops, landed after the complete suppression of the rebels, in a part quite remote from the scene of rebellion, among a people who had not exhibited signs of disaffection; and at a time when, by the unremitting attention of Cornwallis, the minds of the disaffected had been every where conciliated in a considerable measure, and the royal troops, who had before too much resembled an armed mob, were redused into the form of a regular army. --.•«.
This viceroy had completely planned, and, after0J?LvP' unavoidable delays from the situation in which he **—v--'. had found affairs, was on the point of putting intOmentsfor execution, such an arrangement of the troops, as to enable him to assemble, with great expedition, a respectable force in any part of the kingdom where expediency should require, when intelligence arrived of a French invasion. The chief account of the transactions consequent to that enterprize is a narrative given by DocTor Stock, bishop of Killala, who, with his family, was thirty-two days in the hands of the invaders and their auxiliars. This narrative is valuable and interesting, calculated for the prevention of those errors which, from the want of such authentic and impartial documents, are apt to creep into history, and become established by time. It is extremely honourable to the learned prelate, since it evinces a genuine goodness of heart, and a mind so cultivated, so candid, so elevated above mean prejudices and the servile fear of party, as to discern and publicly acknowledge the virtues of an enemy. Its accuracy is confirmed, if it could require such confirmation, by the testimony of the French officers employed in this expedition, with whom some gentlemen from Ireland have »ince conversed in France.