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However, at present one cannot say much, as he does not open them much.
“We are to stay here (at Carton) another week, then go to Castletown for a week, and return here for the christening, which is to be on the 8th of next month.
“My little place is much improved by the few things I have done, and by all my planting—by the bye, I doubt if I told you of my flower-garden-I got a great deal from Frescati. I have been at Kildare since Pam's lying-in, and it looked delightful, though all the leaves were off the trees, but so comfortable and snug. I think I shall pass a delightful winter there. I have paled-in my little flower-garden before my hall-door with a lath paling like the cottage, and stuck it full of roses, sweet briar, honeysuckle, and Spanish broom. The little fellow will be a great addition to the party, I think, when I am down there with Pam and child, of a blustering evening, with a good turf fire and a pleasant book, coming in after seeing my poultry put up, my garden settled, the place looking comfortable ; and I am sure I shall regret nothing but not being nearer my dearest mother, and her not being of our party. Love always. Your affectionate son,
"In reading," says Moore, "these simple and, to an almost feminine degree, fond letters, it is impossible not to feel how strange and touching is the contrast, those pictures of a happy home which they so unaffectedly exhibit, and that dark and troubled sea of conspiracy and revolt into which the amiable writer of them so soon after plunged; nor can we easily bring ourselves to believe that the joyous tenant of this little Lodge, the happy husband and father, dividing the day between his child and his flowers, could be the same man who, but a year or two after, placed himself at the head of rebel myriads, and negotiated on the frontiers of France for an alliance against England, and but seldom laid down his head on his pillow at night without a prospect of being summoned thence to the scaffold or the field.”
It was extraordinary, and one does wonder that a man of refinement and education, possessing, as Lord Edward did, a charming wife, a dear child, a pretty home, well-born, well-bred,
connected with some of the highest in the land, should give up wife, child, home, loyalty, and put himself at the head of a mob of frenzied Irish peasants, who committed the most horrible atrocities on all whom they looked upon as their enemies.
At Prosperous they surprised the soldiers at the barracks, while fast asleep. A fierce conflict ensued, which was put an end to by the rebels lighting a quantity of straw that was in a cellar. The soldiers went to the upper storey, but the flames compelled them to choose between being roasted alive, or impaled on the pikes of the mob beneath, and the unfortunate fellows, when they felt the terrible flames scorching and burning them, leapt out on to the upraised and hardly less terrible weapons of their adversaries, who gave forth fiendish yells whenever a poor half-roasted wretch was impaled.
They piked an old man named Crawford, for the sole cause that, several years before, he had served in the 5th Dragoons, and when his little granddaughter threw herself on him, in a vain attempt to protect him from their murderous blows, they thrust their pikes through and through her, and she instantly expired. They also killed his dog, who attacked these sanguinary monsters and tried to protect his master.
The same night, young Giffard, only seventeen, of the 82nd regiment, was brutally murdered, his body being absolutely perforated with pike wounds.
At Scullabog, they thrust several people into a barn, set fire to it, and let their prisoners roast. One little child managed to squeeze out, under the door, lacerating and bruising its flesh in its desperate endeavours to escape being burned, when a rebel seeing it, stuck his pike through the child, and Aung it back into the flames.
A drummer boy, aged twelve, being taken prisoner, was ordered by the rebels to beat the drum. Actuated by a spirit of heroic loyalty, the poor little fellow replied, “That the King's drum should never be beaten for rebels !” and leaping on the head, broke the parchment, whereupon the bloodthirsty monsters instantly stabbed him in twenty different places.
At Wexford, when the town fell into the hands of the insurgents, Thomas Dixon, late commander of a trading vessel, set on foot a great massacre of the prisoners taken. They were brought from the prison, and were led to slaughter in batches, surrounded by a guard of inhuman butchers, yelling like demons, and preceded to the place of execution by a black flag, on which was a white cross, where they were put to death in different horrible ways, the most horrible and principal being by four men at once, who, standing two before and two behind each victim, thrust their pikes into his body and elevated him from the ground, holding him writhing in the air, till all signs of life ceased. Some of these prisoners were slaughtered at the market-house, some at the gaol, but the chief butchery was on the bridge, where this horrible spectacle was witnessed by a multitude of wretches, the chief part of whom were women, who considered it a gratifying sight, and rent the air with shouts of exultation at the arrival of each fresh batch of victims at the fatal spot! This dreadful slaughter commenced at two o'clock in the day and went on until no less than ninety-seven men had been deliberately murdered in cold blood, until, indeed, the news arrived, at seven o'clock in the evening, that the rebel post at Vinegar Hill had been carried by the King's troops. The only charge against these massacred unfortunates that Dixon and his brutal associates could urge was that they were Orangemen.
Such scenes as these were worthy of the French Revolution, and one speculates as to what wheels within wheels could have driven Lord Edward Fitzgerald into the desperate course of leading and sympathizing with such monsters. Not domestic unhappiness surely, for he and Pamela to the last were "husband-lover and sweetheart-wife.” Was it pique and chagrin at being dismissed from the army, or purely republican sentiments and ideas ? Who can tell ? At any rate, in 1796, he gave himself over body and soul to the cause he had espoused, and joined the Society of United Irishmen, going over with Mr. Arthur O'Connor as agent, to treat with their French allies at Hamburg, and then to Basle, where negotiations were opened with the French Directory. On his return to Hamburg, Lord Edward travelled with a foreign lady, once the mistress of an acquaintance and friend of Mr. Pitt, with whom she still corresponded, and Lord Edward, ignorant, of course, of this fact, spoke very openly of political affairs, affording her some clues to the object of his journey, which she at once transmitted to Pitt's friend.
General Hoche, the conqueror of La Vendée, was appointed to take the command of the expedition to Ireland, and on the 15th of December, a noble armament sailed from Brest, but they encountered adverse winds, and then a tremendous gale, which scattered all and wrecked some of the French war-vessels, so that nothing was left but for them to return to France; only four of the line, two frigates, and one lugger arriving together at Brest.
Negotiations were again opened between the rebels and the French Government, but hope of succour from them was frequently frustrated; still it became clear to Lord Edward and his colleagues that, with or without help from that country, the struggle must soon come. Arthur O'Connor and a priest named Quickly were arrested at Margate on their way to France, on the 28th of February, this arrest greatly disconcerted the rebel leaders, and then one, a Mr. Thomas Reynolds of Kildare, betrayed his associates, and told a friend, Mr. Cope, that the Leinster delegates, on the 12th of March, were to meet at Oliver Bond's house.
The result of this treachery was the arrest of fifteen provincial members by Captain Swan, amongst whom were Emmet, Sampson, Dr. Macneven, Sweetson, and Jackson. Lord Edward and some others escaped, for a time.
Lord Edward sought refuge in the house of a widow lady, who lived on the banks of the canal, the Thursday after the arrests at Bond's, contriving to see his wife and children before he went there, and he remained concealed in safety for a month, though with all the daring courage of an Irishman, he often exposed himself to the risk of detection by going to see Pamela, who had removed from the Duke of Leinster's to a house in Denzel Street," with,” says Maxwell, “ an imprudence not pardonable in a leader on whose personal safety a mighty movement hinged."
He used to walk out at night, for exercise, along the banks of the canal, accompanied by a child and would talk and laugh merrily, as though careless of detection, jumping in and out of the boats in the canal to amuse his little companion.
Mr. Ogilvie hurried over to Dublin to see if he could do anything for his rash and unhappy stepson, and it is on record that Lord Clare said to him, “ For God's sake get this young man out of the country—the ports shall be thrown open to you, and no hindrance whatever offered."
Lord Edward, however, proved immovable, declining to fly, and desert the cause he had espoused with such misplaced zeal. His friends, thinking he was no longer safe at the widow's house, men having been seen watching it, he was removed to the house of one Murphy, a Dublin feather merchant, in Thomas Street, where he remained for some days.. An enormous reward was offered by the Government, and his place of concealment was changed several times, but at last he returned to Murphy's.
At noon the next day a party of soldiers entered the street, halting at the door of Moore, a man who had formerly sheltered him, on which Lord Edward was conveyed through a trap-door to the roof, where he remained for some hours until the alarm subsided, when he came down and had some dinner, a flighty friend, named Neilson, who is supposed to have betrayed him, dining with them. As soon as the meal was finished Neilson hurriedly left the room, and his lordship, going up to his bedroom, took off his coat and lay down on the couch. Mr. Murphy went up to ask his noble guest whether he would have some tea, when the sound of heavy steps was heard on the stairs, and Captain Swan entered the room.
Scarcely had this officer time to mention the object of his visit, when Lord Edward jumped up, as Murphy describes him, “ like a tiger," from the bed, on seeing which, Swan fired a small pocket-pistol at him, but without effect, and then, turning round short upon Murphy, from whom he seemed to apprehend an attack, thrust the pistol violently in his face, saying to a soldier, who just then entered, “Take that fellow away.” Almost at the same instant Lord Edward struck at Swan with a dagger, which, it now appeared, he had had in the bed with him; and immediately after, Ryan, armed only with a sword-cane, entered the room.
In the meantime Major Sirr, who had stopped below to place pickets round the house, hearing the report of Swan's pistol, hurried up to the landing, and from thence saw, within the room, Lord Edward struggling between Swan and Ryan, the latter down on the floor, weltering in his blood, and both clinging to their powerful adversary, who was now dragging them towards the door. Threatened as he was with a fate similar to that of