Page images

Emmet. If I were an Englishman, I should be discontented, and therefore cannot suppose that putting Ireland on a footing with England would content the people of this counfy; if, however, you have a mind to try a partial experiment, for the success of which I would not answer, you must consider how , many are the close boroughs and large tow ns which contribute to tl e appointmeiit of their 558, and diminish in the same proportion the number of the close boroughs and towns which contribute to the appointment of our SOO; even that would be a gain to Ireland; but that there should be no mistake, or confusion of terms, let us drop the equivocal words of English, constiiuth n, and then I answer, I would not be understood to say, that the government, of kings, lords and commons, would be destroyed by a refom of the lower house.

Lord Castlertagh. And don't you think that such a house could not co-exist with the government of king and lords?

Emmet. If it would not, my lord, the eulogies that have been passed on the British constitution are very much misplaced; but I think they could all exist together, if the king and lords meant fairly 'by the people; if they should persist in designs hostile to the people, I do believe they would be overthrown.

fjlt was then intimated, that they had got into a theoretical discussion, and that what they wished to enquire into was facts.]

Sir J. Panel. Mr. Emmet, while you and the executive were philosophising, Lord Edward Fitzgerald was arming and disciplining the people.

Emmet. Lord^Edward was a military man, and if he was doing so, he probably thought that was the way in which he


could be most useful to the country; but I am sure, that if those with whom he acted were convinced that the grievances of the people were redressed, and that force was become unnecessary, he would have been persuaded to drop all arming and


Mr. J. C. Beresford. I knew Lord Edward1 well, and always found him very obstinate.

Emmet. I knew Lord Edward right well, and have done a great deal of business with him, and have always found, when he had a reliance on the integrity and talents of the person he acted with, he was one of the most persuadable men alive-!—but if he thought a man meant dishonestly or unfairly by him, he was as obstinate as a mule.

[Many questions were then put to me relative to differcnt papers and proceedings of the United Irish; among the rest, John Sheares's proclamation was mentioned with considerable severity. I took that opportunity of declaring, that neither the execution' of John Shearcs, or the obloquy that was endeavoured to be cast on his memory, should prevent my declaring that I considered John Sheares a very honourable and humane man.]

Mr. French. Mr. Emmet, can you point out any way of

inducing the people to give up their arms? ,

Emmet. Redressing their grievances, and no other.

Lord Castlereagh. Mr. Emmet, we are unwillingly obliged to close this examination by the sitting of the house.

Emmet. My lord, if it be the wish of the^ommittee, I will

attend it at any other time.

** Lord Cast'ereagh.

Lord Castlcrcagh. If we want you, then we shall send for you.

After the regular examination was closed, I was asked by many of the members whether there were many persons of property in the Union. I answered that there was immense property in it. They acknowledged there was great personal property in it, but wished to know was there much landed property; I answered there was. They asked me was it fee simple; to that I could give no answer. The attorney-general said there was in it many landholders who had large tracts of land, and felt their landlords to be great grievances. I admitted that to be the fact. They asked me had we provided any form of government. I told them we had a provisional government for the instant, which we retained in memory; but as to any permanent form of government, we thought that, and many other matters relating to the changes which would become necessary, were not proper objects for our discussion, but should be referred to a committee chosen by the people.

They did not ask what the provisional government was.

the discussion created by the following letters has given rise to the present publication, and as their contents are intimately connected with the subject of the preceding pieces, it has been thought advisable to annex them here.



"Brighton, August 23, 1799.

«' Sir,

"I ought to inform yon, that I really have no authority to give or refuse permission to you or any other foreigner to go to the United States; the admission and residence of strangers in that country being a matter, that, by a late law,* exclusively belongs to the President. It is true that the government of this country, in the course of the last year, in consequence of my interference, gave me assurance that a particular description of persons in Ireland, who it was understood were going to the United States, should not be allowed to proceed without our consent: this restraint would doubtless be withdrawn in favour of individuals against whose emigration / should not object; and I conclude, that it is upon this supposition, that you have taken the trouble to communicate to me your desire to go and reside in the United States.—Without presuming to form an opinion


* The AHtn Lxw.

on the subject of the late disturbances in Ireland, I entertain a distinct one in relation to the political situation of my own country. In common with others, we have felt the influence of the changes that have successively taken place in France, and unfortunately, a portion of our inhabitants has erroneously supposed that our civil and political institutions, as well as our national policy, might be improved by a close imitation of France.— This opinion, the propagation of which was made the duty and became the chief employment of the French agents residing among us, created a more considerable division among our people, and required a greater watchfulness and activity from the government, than could before-hand have been apprehended.

"I am sorry to make the remark, and shall stand in need of your candor in doing so, that a large proportion of the emigrants from Ireland, and especially in the middle states, has, upon this occasion, arranged themselves on the side of the malcontents. I ought to except from this remark most of the enlightened and well-educated Irishmen who reside among us, and, with a few exceptions, I might confine it to the indigent and illiterate, who, entertaining an attachment to freedom, are unable to appreciate those salutary restraints without which it degenerates into anarchy. It would be injustice to say that the Irish emigrants are more national than those of other countries, yet being a numerous, though very minor portion of our population, they are capable, fromcauses it is needless now to ex plain, of being generally brought to act in concert, and, under artful leaders, may be, as they have been, enlisted in mischievous combinations against our government. This view leads me to state to you without reserve, the hesitation that I have felt in your case; on the one hand, we cannot object to the acquisition of inhabitants from abroad, possessing capital and skill in a branch of business that, with due caution, may, without risque or difficulty, and with public as well as private advantage, be established among us; but, on the other hand, if th^ ©pinions of such inhabitants are likely to throw them into the


« PreviousContinue »