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1798]

FATE OF TONE

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the latter. This is not, however, the time for arguing this momentous question. My client must appear in this court. He is cast for death this very day. He may be ordered for execution whilst I address you. I call on the court to support the law, and move for a habeas corpus, to be directed to the provost - marshal of the barracks of Dublin and Major Sandys to bring up the body of Tone.

Chief Justice. 'Have a writ instantly prepared.'

Curran. 'My client may die whilst the writ is preparing.'

Chief Justice. 'Mr Sheriff, proceed to the barracks and acquaint the provost - marshal that a writ is preparing to suspend Mr Tone's execution, and see that he be not executed.'

The sheriff hastened to the prison. The court awaited his return with feverish suspense. He speedily reappeared.. 'My lord,' he said, 'I have been to the barracks in persuance of your order. The provost-marshal says he must obey Major Sandys. Major Sandys says he must obey Lord Cornwallis.'

Curran. My lord, Mr Tone's father has just returned from serving the writ of habeas corpus, and General Craig says he will not obey it.'

Lord Chief Justice Kilwarden. 'Mr Sheriff, take the body of Tone into custody, take the provost-marshal and Major Sandys into custody, and show the order of the court to General Craig.'

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The sheriff hastened once more to the prison. He returned quickly. He had been refused admittance, and was told that Tone had attempted suicide, and that he lay in a precarious state. A surgeon was called to corroborate the sheriff's statement.

Lord Chief Justice. Mr Sheriff, take an order to suspend the execution.'

At the prison, Tone lay on his pallet, dying. On the evening of the 11th of November, while the soldiers were erecting the gallows before his window, he cut his throat with a penknife, inflicting a deep wound. At four o'clock next morning a surgeon came and closed the wound. As the carotid artery was not cut, he said that Tone might recover. 'I am sorry,' said Tone, that I have been so bad an anatomist.' He lingered till the morning of November 19th. Standing by his bedside, the surgeon whispered to an attendant that if he attempted to move or speak he would die instantly. Tone overheard him, and making a slight movement, said, 'I can yet find words to thank you, sir ; it is the most welcome news you can give me. What should I wish to live for?' Falling back with these expressions upon his lips, he instantly expired.

So perished Wolfe Tone. So ended the rebellion of 1798.1

1 Taken from the Introduction to the Autobiography of Wolfe Tone. New Edition.

CHAPTER XXII

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE IRISH CONSTITUTION

T is often said that England's

difficulty is Ireland's opportunity. But it is equally true that Ireland's difficulty is England's opportunity. England had the opportunity now, and she seized it with effect. In

the moment of her weakness the volunteers had re-established the legislative independence of their country. In the moment of Ireland's weakness, England resolved to destroy that independence. She had certainly promised that the right of the Irish parliament to make laws for the Irish people should never again be questioned or questionable.' But, in flagrant violation of that promise, she now determined to take the right away.

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ous care.

The Irish parliament was in no way responsible for the rebellion of '98. On the contrary, the class from which it was exclusively drawn had done all in their power to suppress. the rebellion. They were staunchly loyal to England. Nevertheless, England marked the Irish parliament for doom. In fact, she had never liked the constitution of '82. It had been wrung from her by force, and she only waited for the opportunity to destroy it. The opportunity had now come. The English minister laid his plans with insidi

He tried to corrupt both Catholics and Protestants, and was ready to betray both, He told the Catholics that in a legislative union lay their only chance of emancipation. An Irish Protestant parliament, he said, would be afraid to concede their full claims. For as they constituted three-fourths of the population of Ireland, the Protestants would be swamped if complete political liberty were given to the Catholics. But an English Parliament would have none of these fears. The Irish Catholics could not swamp the Protestants of England. Therefore, an English Parliament could be just with safety; an Irish Parliament could not.

He next told the Protestants that in a union lay the only security for the Protestant Established Church. While Ireland's claim to be an independent kingdom was allowed, the Protestants' he said, “could not fairly argue that the Church of a fourth of the population should be the state Church. But,' he urged, if Ireland were by a union merged in the

1799]

BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION

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larger kingdom, then it might reasonably be contended that the Protestant Church, being the Church of the vast majority of the Empire, should everywhere within the empire be established by law. But these specious arguments produced no effect upon the masses of either Catholics or Protestants. They however, influenced an important minority in both sects. The Catholic Hierarchy were caught in the trap, and threw themselves into the arms of the minister. But the most that could be got from the great Protestant organisation--the Orange Society-was a promise that they would not, as a body, oppose the proposed measure. Other means were, however, soon tried to win the support of the Protestant party. Bribery was used on a gigantic scale. Money, peerages, offices were bestowed with lavish prodigality. The minister could not persuade the Protestants. He bought them. Twenty-two Irish peerages, five English peerages, and twenty promotions in the Irish peerage were among the rewards given to those who had promised to betray the Irish parliament, while not less than a million and a quarter sterling was spent in bribing the owners of corrupt boroughs, who in fact, held the key of the situation. Men of honour who stood by their country were dismissed from public offices, while every mean and servile creature who had a vote to sell was marked out for favour and reward. So lavish was the corruption that the very corrupters themselves grew sick of the dirty work !' 'I am kept here,' wrote the lord-lieutenant (Lord Cornwallis), 'to

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