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tion, and grown out of the nature of the service ; where, from the necessity of employing severity in some cases, the tempers of men may have been warmed into excess on both sides.
One of the facts most relied upon, is the burning of houses. Has this happened but in cases which plead their own apology? Can your Lordship state an instance of any house having been destroyed, which the hard necessity of the case did not justify, from the party dwelling therein having provoked his own fate, either by being active in those nightly depredations on peaceable inhabitants, which no Law or Police could guard against, or refusing to surrender up Arms concealed for the notorious purpose of turning them against his Country?
In the discharge of such a duty, perhaps, individual Soldiers may have exceeded their authority; and the particular case must be lamented, under the general necessity of having recourse to a measure which the disloyal obstinacy of the disaffected alone rendered necessary.
But when we are dwelling upon these severities (which I mean not in each individual instance to vindicate, and should be the first to deplore) let us not turn from the provocations which the Soldiers have received, and the atrocities which they were called upon to restrain. Have they not seen their comrades maimed? Has your Lordship never heard that General Lake was necessitated to threaten to burn the Town of New-Town-Ards, if a Soldier was killed, from the Sentries being fired at in the night? Have they not been engaged in open day? Have they not seen the active Emissaries of these United Societies travelling every where throughout the Country, to seduce them from their Colours, to swear them into their Societies, to bind them to the French, and to make them
Rebels EXAMINER. 163 Rebels to their King ? Has not this been attended with melancholy success, in instances well known to your Lordship? And could then the great body of the Army, as gallant in their Spirit as they are pure and untainted in their Loyalty, see Cruelty and Treason conspiring against the brave Defenders of the Liberties of all, without feeling a virtuous indignation against those Parricides who, in striving to destroy their Country, were seeking to render them the accomplices of their guilt, and the partners of their shame? No! my Lord, that gallant Army, the pride and prop of their Country, were not to become the blood-stained Associates of so base a Cause; and in the indignation which they felt at these wicked endeavours to alienate them from their Allegiance, and debauch them from their Standards, their resentment may perhaps, in some instances, have been measured by the sentiment of their wrongs.
But, what are these instances of harshness, which we have yet to learn, when compared with the cruelties committed by the United Irishmen, with which we are all acquainted ? One man, it is asserted, has fainted on the picket, and recovered (I mean not to justify the act); but where are the Victims of these Sanguinary Revolutionists? In the cold grave ! - Seek not then, my Lord, to turn the indignation of the Public from them to the British Soldiery employed in the defence and protection of the Country, and foremost in the post of danger; but rather point it at those barbarous men, who, trampling upon all Laws, and violating all Justice, have carried death and woe into the mansions of their Victims! Let the cries of the Orphan and the Widow reach that breast in which so much munificence and humanity are said to dwell. Their wrongs, my Lord, are a subject as worthy of your elo.
quence, as they have been found deserving of the sym. pathy and remuneration of their Country. Instead, therefore, of arraigning particular instances of misconduct among the Soldiers, dwell on the enormities which have excited their indignation, and, possibly, provoked their intemperance. Collect before them the Children of a HAMILTON and a CUMMINS, sheltered under their bayonets, from the merciless fury of the Assassins of their fathers; and then, in this powerful appeal to the best feelings of their nature--pardon the Soldier if he has sometimes transgressed the limits of his duty. If your Lordship must speak to the Passions, here are facts for your guide, and the tears of the Fatherless for your subject!
In the instances of these acts of Oppression and Cruelty, what measure of justice was ever dealt out to the sufferers by the United Irishmen? But in the case of the Soldiers, where is the individual who can say that the Tribunals were shut upon his complaints; or that his wrongs have been unredressed upon appealing to the Laws of his Country?
My Lord, it is as much the interest as it is the duty of Government, to protect the Subject : and to shew to your Lordship, that while it will firmly maintain its own authority, on the one hand, it will not, on the other, protect its Agents in the abuse of that authority, I have only to recal your Lordship’s recollection (for I wish to convince by facts) to a recent instance at the last Assizes at Dundalk, when a Captain of an Irish Regiment quartered there, was sentenced by Baron YELVERTON to a heavy fine, and three months imprisonment, for an act of injustice to an individual who had appealed to the Laws for redress; holding out, in this instance of impartial justice, the bright example to the People, of the difference between Anarchy, strong enough to injure, yet too weak to redress; and the blessings of a mild and regular Government like ours, possessing strength sufficient to restrain injustice, without the power or the will to perpetrate it. It is by examples like these, that the People are taught to feel their best security to consist in obeying the Laws; and their surest protection to be found in uniting to maintain them.
Thus, my Lord, when the nature of the Service, the state of the Country, and the feelings of the Army, are considered, I believe it will appear that their conduct in general has been regular and correct; and that the individual instances of severity which may have occurred, are either too few in their number to be noticed, or too triling in their nature to be made the subject of public accusation. To such instances I am persuaded your Lordship would turn with the deepest regret; and on those of a contrary nature, I feel you would dwell with the pleasure which arises in the breast of a Soldier, when rescuing his profession from unmerited stain.
At Belfast (where certainly the Military were unwel. come visitors) the uniform good conduct of the Scotch Battalions is the theme of general praise with the Inhabitants. The mild and conciliating manners and conduct of General LAKE, in the discharge of his painful duty, have equally the testimony of their respect. At Carrickfergus, you will find the British Troops vying with this example; and their peaceable deportment approved by the Inhabitants. Again, to the Northward, at Colerain you may hear the conduct of the Somersetshire-Fencibles the subject of their praise. Traverse the Country from thence to Ballycastle, and you may learn, that when the British Troops quartered there, in July last, were relieved
by another Detachment sent from Carrickfergus, many of the Town's People rose at the early hour of four o'clock in the morning, to give them three cheers on their departure, as a testimony of their approbation of the good conduct and discipline they had maintained in the Town, while quartered near a year among them.
I quote these few instances to your Lordship, as liable to have fallen within the range of your own observation; and possibly, if your inquiries had extended farther, the same results, in other parts of the Country, might have established the most honourable testimonies in favour of the general good conduct and character of the Army at large.
Thus stands the case between the Government of Ireland, the Army, and that portion of the People who have enrolled themselves in these traiterous Societies. That they are numerous, I admit; that they are daring, their conduct shews: but that they can succeed, no man who knows that Army, or is acquainted with the unshaken Loyalty of the more numerous body of the People, will allow.
Let not the disaffected, nor our Enemies, therefore be elated, by the MISTAKEN picture which your Lordship has been prompted to lay before their view.
Far be it from me to impute to your Lordship a sentiment adverse to the glory and happiness of your Country. But, my Lord, without disputing the purity of your intentions, suffer me to consider the policy of giving such Statements to the Public, of our internal situation, at this important crisis, as may, by cherishing this spirit of disaffection, animate the Enemy, and excite despondency among ourselves.