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CHAP. ix.] LETTER TO REV. MR. BERWICK.
323 if true, I wish the children were sent to Mrs. Bermingham's * till our return. Be so good as to enquire from Mr. Mativett about this report as soon as you receive this letter. I shall leave Castleconnell on Saturday, and go to Sir John Tydd's for three days; so stop my letters and paper, and direct to me, under cover, to him.-Yours,
MR. GRATTAN TO THE REV. MR. BERWICK.
26th October, 1797. TO MY DEAR BERWICK, health and happiness !—I will go to see you when Mrs. G. will permit; but I will certainly go. I wish you joy-am happy at the safety of
. your lady, Madam Anne. I hope the boył will not be seized by an active magistrate, as a United Irishman. The magistracy have done as extraordinary things.
I will go to Lord Pery, when I go to you. Your letter I got yesterday; it went to Tinnehinch— I was not there
e ; it went to Clare-I was not there ;-a gentleman found it on the road, in its travels, wrapped it in a frank, and I received it yesterday unopened and unviolated.
far from Tinnehinch. They approached it in the dead of the night. One of the party discharged his musket in the thatch, and set the house on fire. I persuaded the tutor to bring me to the place; and never shall I forget the dismal scene, or free my mind from the melancholy impression! I almost think I behold the smoking ruins, and the burned walls,--the little furniture partly consumed— wholly destroyed. Terror seemed to reign around. The few who dared to look, feared to speak; it was a scene of woe and desolation—“ a death-like silence, and a dread repose.” The poor peasant had fled—he and his family were driven amidst the flames upon the wide world-naked-penniless; his property destroyed—his character blasted-an outcast-an outlaw-branded as a traitor-and for no earthly reason whatever ; but some one chose to suspect him—that sufficed. At this period no ivsurrection had broken out; but acts such as these were the cause of it: and when men affect to be surprised that the Irish should have revolted, the only wonder is, that when such tyranny and cruelty forced them to draw their swords, they had not courage to sheath them in the heart of the Minister!
Holt (a Protestant, in the county of Wicklow), was similarly treated. His house was burned by a gentleman whose family is well-known; and he assigns this as a reason for his taking up arms. He kept the county in a state of disturbance for a considerable period.-Memoirs of Holt.
* His sister-in-law, then widow of his early friend Bermingham. She resided at the Blackrock, eight miles from Tinnehinch.
† The French tutor, whose escape from being hanged by the ancient Britons will be mentioned hereafter.
| Her son Walter Berwick, now assistant barrister for the county of Waterford, and one of her majesty's counsel-at-law.
§ He resided at St. Edmondsbury, on the banks of the River Liffey, near Mr. Berwick's.
What do you think of the state of things? Pitt is more likely to depose the King of England, than restore the King of France.
I am sorry about poor Sheridan ;* he was a pleasant wrangler, and has made a fool of himself by being too sad a courtier. He speaks of the people like Fitzgibbon ; but little Fitz has an excuse, he has a snap by nature, and is a vinegar-merchant by profession, who throws his aigre flasks at the people. The other seemed to laugh at all that, and aspired to something higher. I am sorry for his health ; I am sorry for his reputation.
H. GRATTAN. * He had written a pamphlet, in which he attacked Mr.Grattan.
Lord Moira's motion in the British Parliament in favour of Ireland (Nov. 1797)—His statement of the cruelties towards the Irish people
Similar motion in the Irish parliament (February, 1798)--Lord Carhampton retires from the command of the troops in Ireland-His character-His conduct towards the Rev. Mr. Berwick-Humane disposition of the latter towards the peasantry-Cruelties practised on them--System of spies and informers decried by Lord Moira—Their confessions-Liberation of Neilson in consequence—The Press newspaper destroyed by the military-Curran's description of the informers - Parliament meets-Complaints of the conduct of the militarySir Lawrence Parsons' motion for conciliation-Mr.(Lord) Plunket's speech-Sir Lawrence Parsons forced to resign the command of the militia–His letter to Lord Camden -- Mr. Grattan's reasons for seceding from Parliament-His remarks on the Government, and their conduct towards the people-Knowledge by the Government of the proceedings of the United Irishmen-Lord Clonmell's statements thereon-His ngular remark-Arrest of the Leinster delegates, the 12th of March-Proclamation of rebellion-History of the United Irishmen-Views, objects, and errors—The Emmett family--Anecdote of Dr. Einmett-Mr. Grattan's remarks—Characters of Temple, Thomas Addis, and Robert Emmett-Mr. Peter Burrowes' and Mr. Grattan's remarks on them-T. A. Emmett's letter from America to Mr. Peter Burrowes-Character of Lord Edward Fitzgerald-A. O'Connor, Jackson, the Sheares, and Nelson--Curran's visit to the latter in prison.
On the 22nd of November, 1797, Lord Moira, with that feeling of humanity which, in the senate as in the field, always marked his character, and of which an instance has been mentioned already, brought forward the case of Ireland in the British Parliament, and called upon Ministers to change their system, and adopt measures of conciliation. He was replied to by Lord Grenville, who denied that the cases of inhumanity were as great as had been represented, and again pleaded the independence of the Irish Parliament as a bar to any
interference on the part of England—that independence which in two years afterwards, in so flagitious a manner, he proposed to abolish! Nothing was done on the subject, and the question of adjournment was carried without a division.
Lord Moira, in observing on the state of Ireland, said, the first thing that struck him was the light in which it was now customary for the military to view an Irishman. The foreign troops that were sent to Ireland, went thither under an unfortunate prejudice which care had been taken to instil into them, that every man they met there was a rebel. Every species of insult, of menace, and oppression, was exercised upon this supposition. There was one circumstance which would give some idea of the insult to which every man was liable. He recollected, when he had read the history of this country, of the curfew, he had been accustomed to consider it as a degrading badge of servitude. This custom, however, was now established in Ireland in all its rigour. At nine o'clock every man was called upon to extinguish his candle and his fire, and the military enforced the regulation with the most insulting expressions. The hardship of this regulation was frequently felt in the most cruel manner. An instance had occurred within his knowledge, in which a party of soldiers had come to the house of a man by the road side; they insisted that he should extinguish his candle; the man entreated that he might be permitted to retain his light, because he was watching by the bedside of his child, which was subject to convulsion fits, and might every moment require assistance. The party, however, rigorously insisted that the light should be extinguished. It had been in former times the custom for the people of this country, and of their Lordships, to hold in detestation the infamous proceedings of the inquisition: one of the greatest horrors with which it was attended was, that the person on whom it seized was torn from his family, immured in prison, ignorant of the crime laid to his charge, and of his accuser, in the most cruel uncertainty as to the period of his confinement, and of the fate that awaited him. Yet to this injustice, so justly abhorred in the practice of the inquisition, were the people of Ireland exposed ; a man was torn from his family, and exposed to the horrors of imprisonment, without know
CHAP. X.] THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT.
327 ing the crime of which he was accused, or being confronted with his accuser. Such proceedings were not solitary instances—they were frequent; and the man who saw his neighbour hurried from his home, could not say but tomorrow he might experience the same fate; all confidence, all security, were taken away. In alluding to the inquisition, he had omitted to mention one of its characteristic features : if the supposed culprit refused to acknowledge the crime with which he was charged, he was put to the rack, in order to extort a confession of the supposed guilt. In the same manner the proceedings of the inquisition had been introduced in Ireland; when a man was taken up, and was suspected of being guilty himself, or of concealing the guilt of others, he was put to the torture ; the rack, indeed, was not applied, because, perhaps, it was not at hand; but torture of another species was employed. He had known, in repeated instances, men taken up on suspicion, subjected to the punishment of picqueting, a punishment now abolished in the cavalry as too severe.
He had known a man, in order to extort confession of a supposed guilt, or of the guilt of some of his neighbours, picqueted till he actually fainted! picqueted again till he fainted! picqueted a third time till he fainted! upon mere suspicion ! Nor was this the only species of torture : men had been taken and hung up till they were half hanged,* and then threatened with the repetition of this cruel torturé unless they made confession of the imputed guilt! Such proceedings were not merely particular acts of cruelty exercised by men abusing the power committed to them, but they formed a part of the system acted upon : they were notorious ;—and no man could say but that he might be the next victim of the oppression and the cruelty which he saw others endure. This, however, was not all. Their Lordships, no doubt, would recollect the famous proclamation issued by a military commander in Ireland, requiring the people to give up their arms.
It never was denied that this proclamation was illegal, though it might have been defended on some supposed necessity; this necessity, however, had never been established to his satisfaction. If, therefore, any reluctance was shown to comply with this demand, he confessed it was not matter of surprise to him. Men who conceived that the Constitution gave them a right to keep
* The case of a man of the name of Shaw. Lord Moira asserted it had been tried on this man more than once.