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tholic emancipation, amongst the foremost of whom we had the satisfaction to see several dissenting clergymen of great popularity in that country, as Sinclair Kilburne, Wm. Dixon, and T. Birch. It was William Sinclair who moved the two addresses, It is the less necessary for me to detail what passed at this period, as every thing material is recorded in my diary. Suffice it to say, that the hospitality shown by the people of Belfast to the Catholics, on this occasion, and the personal acquaintance which the parties formed, rivetted the bonds of their recent union, and produced in the sequel the most beneficial and powerful effects.
of the Life of THEOBALD WOLFE Tone, by the Editor.
In the preceding abstract, written at Paris, from memory, and amidst the most anxious cares, my father brought down the narrative of his life to the middle of July, 1792. From thence, to his arrival in France, elapsed a space of upwards of three years. I feel it my duty to account and apologize for the scantiness of my materials relative to this period, perhaps the most interesting of his career. It was during that time that, young and unknown, acting against all the power and influence of a party, secure in the long enjoyment of unopposed usurpation and insolent authority, he roused the energies of his oppressed countrymen, and rallied the mass of the people, so long divided by conflicting interests and religious animosities, to assert their national independence.
From the moment he engaged in this cause, he made it a rule to consign in a diary, destined for the sole perusal of his most intimate friends and family, the passing events of the times, his comments upon them, and his own thoughts and actions. Of this spirited and lively journal, we yet possess, and now publish, (Vol. II.) the part which begins at his arrival in France, and extends to the date of the last expedition where he perished. But, on his departure from America, he left in my mother's hands that which contained the diary of his efforts in Ireland, whilst forming the society of the United Irishmen, and acting as Agent and Secretary to the Catholic sub
committee. The experience of our former journey had proved what little respect was then paid by the British cruizers to the neutral American flag, and how unsafe it would have been to have carried such papers along with him.
When, at the close of the year 1796, my mother sailed from America to join him, the same reasons still existed. As he had Jest with Dr. Reynolds, of Philadelphia, an old friend and associate in his political career, an unlimited power of attorney to protect his family and manage their affairs in his absence, she trusted to his charge all our little property in America, amounting to some hundreds of pounds sterling, a select library of six hundred volumes, and, above all, my father's papers, essays, and manuscripts, including those journals, and enclosed in a strong corded and sealed trunk, of which she kept the key. I am pained to add, that this sacred trust, this pledge of confidence and of friendship, he violated by an unpardonable negligence. Neither during my father's life, nor after his death, could our repeated demands, nor our letters and messages, by the most respectable and confidential friends who went to America, procure any answer. At length, in the year 1807, when the state of my health compelled us to undertake a sea voyage, and we came to Philadelphia, we called the unfortunate man to an account: but he could give none ; and, reduced by repeated and severe illness, was then tottering on the verge of life. What could we do? Serious as the sacrifice was, in our circumstances, we offered him a full release for the remainder of the property, if he could only put us in the way of recovering the papers. But it was all in vain, for he had them not; he begged me to search his house, and I found the trunk broken open, and empty. With a great deal of difficulty I recovered some fragments dispersed in different hands, and now published. But his journals of the most important and interesting years, of 1793, 1794, and 1795, were irrecoverably gone. The manuscripts of the numerous pamphlets and essays, which my father composed at that time—a great number of which were anonymous, and often ascribed to other hands—as well as the materials of a philosophical and political history of Ireland, which he was then compiling, and had already begun to write, were also lost. Dr. Reynolds died within a few weeks, and we were obliged to give up all hopes of discovering them.
By this loss, inappreciable to our feelings, we are deprived of the means of tracing accurately my father's career during those three eventful years, in which he was constantly employed in supporting the spirit of union and independence in his country, and performing, as agent to the Catholic committees, those services which, by their parting vote of thanks, they declared “no gratitude could overrate, and no remuneration overpay.” As it is not my purpose to write a history of Ireland, nor a political dissertation on the state of that country under its former, and never to be forgotten, nor forgiven, government, I will merely indicate, from my mother's recollections, and from the scanty materials which we have recovered, a few of those prominent events in which he was then engaged, and which may elucidate some passages in his subsequent memoirs.
Of the journals, which formed the most interesting part of this collection, we have recovered those of October, 1791, with some trifling fragments of an earlier date, those of July, August, September, October, and November, 1792, and part of January and February, 1793. My father states, in his own memoir, that he began to keep them regularly in 1791, when he engaged se• riously in the politics of the day. From thence, they extended in a regular series to the middle of 1795, when he sailed for America; but all the remainder, though he frequently refers to them in his other writings, are irrecoverably lost. This loss may be partly supplied by a mutilated abstract of the operations of the General Committee and delegation which carried the petition of the Catholics to England, and of their subsequent negotiations with the Irish Government, froin the beginning of December, 1792, to the end of April, 1793. This elegant and lucid report, which we will insert in this portion of his life, as it properly forms a continuation of it, will show how qualified he was to write that history of Ireland which he had begun, and of which it was probably destined to form a part,
Along with these papers, we have recovered his notes of the sittings of the Catholic General Committee, but in a very mutilated state, and written on flying scraps of paper during the debates, along with a few, relating to other periods of his life. These were the materials froin whence his journals were after.. wards written, when sitting, surrounded by his wife and children, as I yet remember him, in the evening, leisure of his
home. Even in this state they are highly interesting. We bave also recovered several hundred letters from his personal friends, and from the United Irishmen of Belfast and Dublin, filled with the daily details of their hopes, fears, and transactions. Of these we have selected a few to illustrate some portions of his life, but the greater number can be but of little interest to the public at this day, though they breathe all the fervor and spirit of the times. Some of his earlier manuscripts, and several of his printed essays, pamphlets, and smaller pieces, complete this collection, but the greater part of the latter are lost. Such are the materials out of which we must endeavor to trace this portion of my father's life.
We have already seen, in the preceding narrative, that, in 1791, he wrote that pamphlet, in favor of the Catholic cause, signed “A Northern Whig,” whose success was so prodigious, and on which he was appointed secretary and agent to the subcommittee, in the place of Richard Burke. The following year, 1792, was the most busy period in his political career. In the course of a few months, constantly engaged in the same great pursuit, he performed three journeys to Belfast, to effect the union between the Catholics and Dissenters, in which he succeeded, at length, completely, besides several other journeys in Connaught, and elsewhere, to rally the Catholics themselves in the common cause, and calm the agitated pas. sions of the dissenters. The details of these journeys, written in a most playful and lively style, are contained in the journals which we have saved, as well as his negotiations with the whig leaders, Grattan, Lord Moira, and the Marquis of Abercorn, on behalf of the Catholics. During the same period he founded the first clubs of the United Irishmen, whose organization and object were then very different from those which the tyranny of the Government afterwards drove them to, when they had spread all over the country. The primitive object of this soci. ety was merely to form a union of all religious denominations, whose menibers, abjuring every former feud, should join their efforts to reform the abuses of the government and constitution of the country, and restore the rights of free and equal citizenship to Irishmen of every sect and religion. Their oath of secrecy and regular organization were introduced at a later period, and by other leaders, when my father had ceased to have
any influence over them, and scarcely held any correspondence with their councils.
Towards the close of that year, 1792, his arduous efforts to unite the mass of the nation in the sacred cause of union and independence, presented more favorable symptoms of success than at any former period. The Catholics and Dissenters were united, and a new and complete system of representation was organized amongst the former, which enabled them to concen. trate in one voice the grievances and opinions of 3,000,000 of men. This great result was obtained by the unremitting efforts of the sub-committee of Dublin, as well as of my father. They had been charged, especially after the defection of Lord Kenmare, and sixty-eight of the leading and aristocratical Catholics, who had seceded in the preceding year from the great body of their brethren, with assuming falsely the character of representatives of the Catholic interest. In consequence, after rousing, by every possible means, the spirit of their party through the whole Kingdom, and awakening them to a sense of their wrongs and grievances, they summoned from every county and city in Ireland, a number of fairly and freely elected representatives, to join in their deliberations.
In the beginning of December, 1792, that General Commit. tee of the Catholics of Ireland, which first represented the whole strength of their body, opened their meetings, and the single circumstance of their sitting, with all the forms of a legislative assembly, in the capital, produced a kind of awe and stupefaction in the Government. Never did such a convention begin its proceedings under auspices more favorable. Their friends were roused; their enemies stunned, and the British Government, extremely embarrassed at home, showed no desire to interfere From a letter of Richard Burke, mentioned in my father's journals of 230 and 24th July, 1792, and quoted in the Appendix, with his answer, they concluded that England was determined on remaining neutral in the controversy. To yield without a struggle, and recommend themselves as well as they could to the ruling party, as that gentleman advised, was a counsel too cowardly to be followed. They felt secure in their own strength, which their adversaries--and even their friends, (see Burke's letter) had much undervalued-in the spirit and union of the people, and in the support of the Dissenters, and