« PreviousContinue »
pleasant to you. I therefore stopt short, and limited myself to the fact, as to my dismission. As to my statement of it, any of the leading Catholics will satisfy you, if it be an object worth your inquiry; and I hope the contemplation of the honorable conduct of the Catholics to me, will make you amends for such parts as are merely personal to myself. I am fully as anxious for their honor, as for my own. To them I was ever, to the best of my ability, a faithful servant; and, as to the country at large, if I have been guilty of any offence, of which, I bless God, my own conscience gives me the fullest acquittal, I am here, making amends by a painful exile. I make no apology for this letter. You must know the value of a good man's approbation, and therefore can sufficiently estimate my motive in addressing you. I remain, Sir, with great respect, Your most obedient servant,
THEOBALD WOLFE TONE.
Vote of the Editor.–These last enigmatical letters, but of which the solu. tion is easy, are those which determined my father's departure for France.
From one of the leaders of the United Irish in Belfast, September
21st, 1795. Reynolds has at length broke his long silence, and wrote to Neilson. He and .
were with your friend Smith, who professed great willingness on the part of his employers, to assist us, provided they are able. After informing N. of this, R. recommends instant action, whenever our crops are secured, and brings forward all the heroes of antiquity to support his arguments. But are we not gaining ground, and our opponents rapidly losing? Why then make our country the seat of such speculations at present, when we are certain of having a more favorable opportunity some time hence ? No doubt it would be a useful diversion to the Smiths. And I consider R's arguments only as a detail of what passed at the interview, and not his own reasoning. For my part, I am firmly persuaded that it would be neither our interest nor that of the world, to make the business very hazardous, or event doubtful. The bloodless manner in which the Smith's hammer was first introduced, fascinated
all parties; but it was only the firm friends to them, were able to withstand the repeated shocks which a different conduct afterwards produced. Believe me, Tone, I am for no unnecessary procrastination. I think the hour is rapidly approaching, and our business at present is preparation. Not the fixing a time, or saying, “ when the crops are in, or the corn secured," or any other definite time; but, when we are prepared, let us embrace the first favorable moment that offers. A favorable speculation just now opens to our view: twenty-five thousand men of the best, are going to the West Indies. Their absence will, no doubt, make provisions plentier here, and a demand for shoes and boots in the West Indies. I had almost forgot to mention, that R. speaks of an address to us from the Smiths, and that we may expect it immediately. A wilder scheme was never thought of; it would be the certain means of overrunning us with Bulls, which would prevent every idea of exertion. Despotism in the extreme, misery of every kind, and the banishment or death of all our best friends, would be the result. But, however, as you will have seen Smith a few months after R. I am sure every idea of the kind will be dropt, until some other arguments are ready to accompany it. I shall now drop the hammer, &c. Neilson has been called away this morning by express, to settle some serious disputes in county Armagh, between the Peep-of-dayboys and Defenders. C. Teeling is there before him. I hope their efforts will be successful: that county has always been a plague to us.
I have been expecting very anxiously for some time past, to hear from you. Government on this side the water are a good deal alarmed at the spreading of Defenderism amongst the militia. R. is just returned from Dublin, where it is currently reported and generally believed, that five or six thousand of the militia have taken the Defenders' oath. It is certain that a great many have. A fife major of the Fermanagh regiment, has been sent to Newgate for having administered it to a number of privates in said regiment. The societies of United Irish are spreading fast throughout a large portion of Ulster. As you will no doubt
bave to lay out a good deal of money, before yon are settled as you could wish, if you have occasion, draw on me at sixty days sight, for one or two hundred pounds: your bill shall be duly honored, and you may repay me at your convenience. I beg you will not be backward in doing this, in case you find it at all necessary. Neilson received a letter last night from C. Teeling, from Portadown, where he is gone this day. There has been dreadful work there about the Defenders.
From one of the chief Catholic Leaders in Dublin, Sept. 3, 1795.
I am told there is a vessel bound for Philadelphia to sail this day, and determined to seize the opportunity to assure you that you live in the memory of those here whom I believe you considered worthy of your friendship. Is it to the hurry inseparable from the preparations for a long voyage, that I am to impute your not answering a letter (not a short one) which I directed to you at Mr. Neilson's ? Possibly it met the fate of many letters of late, to and from me, which were not thought to be worth delivering. However this may have been, let me know how is your health, and that of Mrs. Tone and of your sister and children ; whether you intend, like Cincinnatus and your greater Washington, to follow the plough, and, like them, to quit it when your country calls. Is young America engaged entirely in clearing her woods? I trust that she knows how to appreciate genius when it flies to her shores for protection. But you will prefer knowing how your friends here proceed. To these inquiries: Since your departure a variety of applications were made by our great men, to induce the people to have aggregate meetings to address the throne for Catholic emancipation ; but these attempts are fruitless. The people suspect the patriotism of their former leaders, and they must, by actions, restore themselves to confidence, or leave the people to themselves. They will not go for half measures; their views are extended since your departure. Our unfortunate and misguided peasantry have become more outrageous ; neither the gaol nor the gibbet deter them; they even meet death with firmness. The utmost exertions are used to suppress this spirit in the capital, where it is said that four thousand are already sworn; many are thrown into Newgate. I saw our friend P. Burrowes
about an hour since; he was just returned from Naas, where he was employed by the Crown in prosecuting Defenders. Two of them are condemned to death ; one, whose name is O'Connor, after being found guilty, made a speech in defence of the people. Counsellor Burrowes considers these infatuated people as having enlisted men for the French, in expectation of an invasion. It was proved that O'Connor swore many to be true to the French. This now appears to be the oath taken by all the Defenders. Our Bishop, Dr. Troy, has excommunicated them, and they are not to be admitted to the sacraments at the hour of their death ; but this has also proved ineffectual. Religion and loyalty have lost their influence with those men, who rely upon their numbers, which are very great indeed.
A book has been published here on the best mode for the defence of Ireland. The writer appears to be a scientific military man; the work is full of French idioms. He points out the West, as the most likely place for the enemy to land; stating that the S. W. winds would detain our fleets in the Channel, and permit a fleet from Brest to arrive here. He gives his opinion of the mode on which the enemy will proceed after landing, their route or march, dress for the armed peasantry, &c. and although he advises the method to oppose an invading enemy, yet this work appears extraordinary for a friend of Government at this time, when the country is agitated beyond all former example, and might be dangerous in the hands of the enemy. This author recommends union, otherwise he asserts all resistance vain, in case of an invasion. I just now hear that this work is suppressed by Government. I think they are right.
You have no doubt heard of our invasion of France, and of the check we received at Quiberon. But, at this moment, a large flect is on the way thither with Count D'Artois on board. * Tis said when joined to Charette, they will amount to 75,000
We expect, on arrival of the packets, to hear of this landing. Louis XVIII. offers to pardon all his subjects, if they will throw themselves at the foot of his throne; but he forgot to say where they will find it, which, I suppose, must postpone this proof of their attachment to him. But, away with politics.
• Nole by the Editor.—The most curious details of this expedition, are given in the memoirs of Count Vauban, an emigrant officer. But, I suppose, this work is not now to be procured.
Let us leave them to the great: for humble men, friendship is a fitter subject. Remember then, dear Tone, the many hours we spent in the Garden, in your favorite walk. That these conversations impress your mind as they do mine, I can never doubt. How often have we anticipated your return to your friends—to your country? Those ideas can never be relinquished. I am sanguine in my expectations to see you and your family live in the country you love, suitable to your genius and your patriotism. I am growing old; you know tis the vice of age to become too much attached to interest; do not wonder then, if I should wish ardently that you may arrange your affairs, so as to return to us, and if not soon, it may be too late for me, perhaps even for yourself. Cornelius desires me to assure you of his affectionate regard ; whenever you return he expects to hear from you, and will instantly pay you his respects in person.
Our Government are making serious exertions to put down the Defenders. You, I am sure, join with me in earnest wishes that these unfortunate men may restrain from all violence, which must terminate in the destruction of many, without any possible benefit to themselves or to the country. For, if they are aggrieved in rents, or otherwise, they cannot obtain redress by such means, which unite every man of property against them. Besides, it will naturally terminate in many associating in gangs, as robbers and murderers.
Your old companions of the Sub-committee, are as you left them. I saw Mr. MacCormick this day, for some time. His wishes for your return fully coincide with mine, and he thinks that it will not be your fault, and that you will omit nothing, consistent with principles, for so fair and honorable an object. And I own that I have such an opinion, let me say experience, of you, that I think you cannot fail to succeed in any attempt in the line of your profession. I know not, as yet, to whom I shall commit this letter, but will now go and inquire. Once more, Tone, remember, and execute your garden conversation.