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and Magistrates the most eminent, were obliged to have Soldiers living in their houses, to protect them from the sanguinary vengeance of these deluded and ferocious people. Was not Lord Londonderry, and is he not to this moment compelled to have a military guard in his house? Were not Witnesses against any of these individuals either cut off by assassination, compelled to emigrate, or necessitated to live under military protection? Were not these murders frequent? Does not your Lordship know that at that very period (in November, 1796) the King's Stores in Belfast were robbed, and a quantity of gunpowder carried off by force ? Was not the Country stricken with universal consternation, in consequence of these atrocious scenes? And was there not, at the same time, a general expectation of a Foreign Invasion ?
Yes, my Lord, such was the state of the North of Ireland when Parliament met in the month of November, 1796. What then ensued? The intended Invasion was announced from the Throne; and the Country was called upon to put itself in a state of adequate resistance to the Enemy. Yeomanry Corps were then ordered to be raised for the purpose of maintaining Peace throughout each Barony, and of enabling Government, in the event of necessity, to concentrate as much as possible the Regular Military Force of the Kingdom. In this situation, I ask your Lordship, if the Conspirators in the North did not employ every base art to prevent as much as possible the formation of these useful Corps ? At one moment. they misrepresented to the People, the Oath of Allegiance to be taken by individuals entering into these Corps ; at another, the most open threats were practiced; and, in some instances, the most daring and cruel violence was
employed with successful effect, to terrify those into resigning, who had already inlisted. Does your Lordship require any proof of this ? Read it in the tragical fate of the gallant but unfortunate Mr. CUMMINS. In one night (in the year 1796) a body of United Irishmen, with blackened faces, forcibly disarmed several Yeomen belonging to Lord LONDONDERRY's Corps, by entering into their houses in the dead of the night, and seizing upon their arms and accoutrements; and because this brave Gentleman, who was one of their Captains, nobly refused to surrender up his arms, they inhumanly butchered him with the most savage barbarity. Did not the lamented Mr. HAMILTON meet with a similar fate? Shortly afterwards they appeared in arms, in open day, in the vicinity of Cumber, to rescue two men then carrying to Downpatrick jail. Is, not this a fact notoriously known ?, Did they not, about the same time, begin forcibly to disarm all the inhabitants of the Country who were not united with them by nocturnal visits? Did not families fly into Belfast for safety, dreading to sleep in the Country? Did not others quit Ireland altogether? Did not a regular Battalion of United Irishmen, in the spring of this year, march to Mr. KENNEDY's, at Kentraw, near Belfast, and carry away thirteen stand of arms forcibly from the family, with as much systematical regularity as if they had been invested with lawful authority so to do? And is it not within your Lordship's knowledge, that before the County of Down was proclaimed, several Gentlemen's Estates, immediately on your Lordship's vicinity, were despoiled of their best timber, for the purposes of manufacturing pikes for the Insurgents ?
In this situation, what was the Government of Ireland to do? They had seen the Laws openly violated; they VOL, I. G
had witnessed the blood of the Magistrate to flow; they had beheld illegal Associations administering unlawful Oaths throughout the Country, for the purpose of overthrowing the Constitution; they had seen the authority of the State despised, in the disarming of its Soldiery; they had the warning of revolutionary preparations, in the war-whoop of Sedition sounded throughout the Country, in the forging of Arms, and the carrying off of the King's Military Stores. The Press at Belfast was in a state of open hostility; the Insurgents every day became more daring, and the loyal part of the Country grew clamourous for protection against the dangers which encompassed them. Nothing, therefore, was left to Government but the interposition of Military Force to check acts of rebellion which defied and suspended the Civil Power: to renew the existence of the Constitution, by rescuing the Laws from that state of imbecility into which the lawless violence of a Banditti had plunged them. It was only then, when every measure of lenity and forbearance had failed, and the Conspirators were on the eve of a concerted and general Insurrection, that the Province of Ulster was proclaimed, and the inhabitants were called upon to deliver up their arms in trust for themselves, and to be restored hereafter, to prevent the United Irishmen from getting them into their possession. This, my Lord, I aver to have been the state of the North of Ireland at the moment when that salutary measure was adopted, and to it alone is to be ascribed the quietude it has since enjoyed. Outrage has greatly ceased; confidence is returned; the Laws are re-assuming their sway; and Persons and Property have derived a security from it, to which for a considerable time before they were entirely
strangers. EXAMINER.. 83 strangers. Such have been the beneficial results of that wise and necessary measure.
On the whole, therefore, it must appear, that antecedenty to the County of Down, and other parts, being put out of the King's Peace, and consequently prior to the adoption of those coercive measures which your Lordship so warmly arraigns as the cause of the present disorders, many parts of the Country were in a state utterly lawless; and that a system of terror, founded in blood and massacre, had suspended the operation of the Civil Power, and spread general apprehension every where.—Hence it became necessary to counteract one system of terror against the Laws, by meeting it with another in their support; and the military strength of Ireland was in consequence increased, to protect it from the two-fold danger of Foreign Invasion, and Internal Treason. But the difference between the two systems is this—that the one had for its object to subvert the Government, and the other to protect both the Laws and the People.
This, my Lord, is the general state of the question between the Government of Ireland and the disaffected part of the People, corrupted by French principles. But I would farther ask your Lordship, whether, in your own immediate neighbourhood, the most criminal excesses were not committed, before it was put into a state of Proclamation, both at Sainfield, BALLYNAHINCH, and Killeleagh ? Was not the Tree of Liberty actually planted in the latter Town, so early as in the Autumn of 1796 ? Was not the Castle at Hillsborough broke open, and all the arms carried off? And has not your Lordship heard, since you were last in Ireland, that a Meeting of Delegates from the different Societies of United Irishmen was held near your Lordship’s Estate in the North, about
the the middle of June last, for the express purpose of considering whether they should then rise, or defer their plan to a future period? Was it not proposed at that Meeting to cut off the Troops in detail ; and to commence the Insurrection with massacre ? Is not this known to General LAKE? and was not the question carried by a triAing majority, for remaining quiet? What are the presumptive proofs of this? The fight of some of the Conspirators, and the apprehending of others. Did not eight of them make their escape from the Port of Bangor, upon finding the plot discovered? And were there not several of their intended Officers in confinement in the Artillery Barracks in Belfast, in August last? When, in addition to those facts, we advert to the Trial of Jackson, and to the conviction of others, proved to be in league against the Constitution, as well as to the mass of information contained in the Report of the Secret Committee of the last Session, it must irrefragably appear, that his Majesty's Ministers in Ireland would have abandoned their duty, and betrayed the dearest interests of the State, if they had tamely suffered a system of disaffection gradually to extend itself over the Country, until ripe for action, in preference to crushing the evil in its infancy, by measures of energy suited to the magnitude of the occasion.
Having now, my Lord, endeavoured to vindicate the conduct of the Government of Ireland, by shewing that the state of the Country in 1796, was such, from the conduct of a great body of individuals, as to induce the necessity for those measures of precaution which have ecently been adopted in the present year; in my next I shall endeavour to rescue the Character of Government and the Soldiery from the unmerited imputations which