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And this is all!-The long procession's pride,
The "mourners" passed and smiled, but one was there,
And her heart swelling with a voiceless care-
This, the sole sorrow o'er that buried dead
Was that young orphan's whom his bounty fed.
[The circumstance referred to in this sonnet took place in Sephton Church, Lancashire, at the burial of the late C. Blundell, Esq. of Ince, on Nov. 7, 1837.]
BY-WAYS OF IRISH HISTORY.
CHAF. X.-WHITEBOY INSURRECTION-FRENCH INTRIGUE-TESTIMONY PREPARED BY GEORGE CORNWALL LEWIS, ESQ.
SUSPICIONS which prevailed extensively in Ireland, during the latter part of the last century, that the Whiteboy insurrection had been in duced or encouraged by French in trigue, and was designed to promote the success of an invasion of the country, find little favour from the 'ready reckoners" in politics, who are set up as arbiters of modern legislation. Mr. Lewis, a recognised representative of this class, proves, indeed, to all who think his processes of reasoning satisfactory, that the disturbances were altogether independent of, (if not unaffected by,) foreign influence, and that they could not possibly have been created with a view to facilitate the progress of an invading army. The scheme of argument by which these comfortable conclusions are reasoned out is of a kind which is worthy of being explained and exhibited. Its peculiarity consists in the principle of selection on which testimony is adopted. The principle is this
First-to cite the opinions of partizans, and to adduce them as testimony. Secondly-To disparage the testimony of adversaries, and suppress or omit it as if it were partizan opinion.
Thirdly-To practise partial suppression, where a full and faithful cita
See History of Disturbances, p. 17.
+ By-Ways, November.
mony, that the instruments and agents of their purposes were taught just so much as rendered their obedience pro
coasts, that on the south to be effect-
First Convicted insurgents declared, at the time of their execution, that they had entertained no purpose hostile to the British throne or government.*
Secondly-No French money was found among the disturbers.+
Thirdly No French agents were detected.
Fourthly-Distinguished politicians, of the Whig party, were of opinion that the causes of insurrection were altogether domestic or local.§
Upon each of these arguments we shall offer the observations which it seems to call for, and
First-On the dying declarations of convicts. This is a species of testimony which we regard as wholly irrelevant. The circumstances under which it was offered, are such as render it inadmissible, or, at least, inconclusive. An unhappy individual was convicted of a capital offence, and, at his dying hour, declared, that it had not been contemplated by him to assist in overturning the government. So far as the individual was concerned his profession may have been the truth, while yet the system into which he had been incorporated may have been not only lawless but treasonable. No man of sane mind would adduce expressions in which a private soldier, or a subaltern officer, stated his opinions, as describing with accuracy the objects of a military campaign. The declaration of a Whiteboy was not of more avail. He had taken an oath to obey the orders of his superior-in pursuance of his obligation he had committed a capital crime-in the same spirit of submission he was ready to perpetrate, or attempt any other practicable enormity why should he be unnecessarily entrusted with a knowledge inconvenient and dangerous? In truth, the character of the Whiteboy conspiracy was exhibited in the oath taken by confederates; and it indicates only the sound discretion of its promoters, to have dispensed their information with so judicious a parsi
acquire any such knowledge as should enable them to do harm. They knew that they had sworn obedience-they knew whose orders they were to receive-they knew whose orders were to take precedence of all other obligations. Their dying confessions prove no more than this; that the secrets of the conspiracy were kept within, as well as without, the organization, from all who were likely to make an ill use of them. We may dismiss the declarations, therefore, of the uninstructed convicts, with the simple comment, that had Mr. Lewis been sufficiently communicative to recite the oath which they had taken, it would have been superfluous to observe that their dying confessions were insignificant.
Secondly-French money not found, &c. For this Mr. Lewis adduces Arthur Young, and quotes a passage in which that writer expresses his conviction, "that no foreign coin was ever see. among them, though reports to the contrary were circulated," &c. This argument, from the non-appearance of foreign money, is of so much consequence, that Mr. Lewis condescends to attempt refuting testimonies which have been urged against it,
"Sir R. Musgrave," he writes, "in his History of the Rebellions in Ireland, p. 33, states that he was informed, by the Marquess of Drogheda, who was sent with his regiment in 1762, to command a large district in Munster, that French money was found in the pockets of some of the Whiteboys killed by his soldiers in the county Tipperary. Lord Drogheda's informants were not mistaken, or if he was not deceived by them, it may be conjectured, that some of the Irish soldiers in the French service may have brought some French money to Ireland after the peace of 1760."
We do not concern ourselves with
with the "agrarian theory," by an "explanation."
But there is a statement of far greater moment to reconcile, and far more embarrassing, upon which Mr. Lewis, if he has exercised his ingenuity, has not thought fit to publish the result of his experiments the statement, namely, of the illustrious Earl of Charlemont. What has the noble lord written ?
« In a country so circumstanced it is by no means improbable, that the court of France may have been tempted to tamper with an unhappy and discontented people; and one fact, the truth of which I cannot doubt, would almost induce me to believe, that, upon one occasion at least, a small sum of French money was hazarded in Ireland. During the course of these insurrections a very considerable number of French crowns were received at the custom house, which could not well have been the result of trade, since little or no specie is imported from France, in exchange for our commodities; and, more especially, since they were, all of them, newt crowns, of the same date, and coined after any possible importation could be made by the course of commerce."
Thus, it appears that the noble lords Charlemont and Drogheda, are "in a story;" the one detects French crowns on the way to promote insurrection-the other traces them to the pockets of the insurgents; the agreement of both makes it plain that the argument and the explanation of Mr. Lewis are nugatory. Upon the character of his abstinence from the testimony of Lord Charlemont we shall have occasion, in another place, to offer some remarks; here it is sufficient to observe, that his argument, derived from the non-appearance of foreign money, rests for its proofs on the opinion of Arthur Young cited as testimony, and on the conjecture of Mr. Lewis, substituted by way of emendation for the testimony of Lord Drogheda, or Sir Richard Musgrave; and requires, as an indispensible condition to its being received, a suppression of the evidence of Lord Charlemont.
Thirdly-No Foreign agents were detected. This assumption belongs more properly to that portion of our history in which we shall have to enumerate direct proofs of foreign influence. We notice it here as furnishing
an additional evidence of consistency on the part of Mr. Lewis. In our November number we quoted from his work on Irish Disturbances, a letter written by a gentleman in Youghal, descriptive of the proceedings of the Whiteboys. Mr. Lewis adduced it because the writer seemed to be of opinion that the first appearance of these disturbers was in October, 1761. But he seemed also of opinion that they were under a foreign command, communicating a report, that a prisoner had been taken among the insurgents, who was a lieutenant-colonel in the French service. This part of the epistle did not fall in with the views of Mr. Lewis, and, accordingly, the anonymous Youghal gentleman is produced as having borne true testimony in one particular, while that portion of his letter which seems to throw discredit on the "agrarian theory," is, (with a consistency far less creditable than characteristic,) overlooked, or deliberately rejected.
Fourthly, Opinions adverse to the idea of foreign influence. A single instance of the mode in which Mr. Lewis "practices" on these opinions, to suit them to his purposes, will be sufficient for ours. We select that which he has thought proper to ascribe to the Earl of Charlemont. The noble Earl had recorded his deliberate judgment, in a written paper, which his biographer, Mr. Hardy, published, and from which Mr. Lewis professes to extract his "statement" of "the causes of the original Whiteboy insurrection, in 1761."§ Of this statement Mr. Lewis recites a part, and suppresses or omits a part. His favourite principle of selection prevails. Lord Charlemont, with the virtuous indignation of a benevolent and high-minded man, had denounced the sordid and cruel practices by which the poor in Ireland were oppressed; and declared them the "first and ori ginal causes" of the national disorders. This fragment of the illustrious nobleman's opinion, Mr. Lewis recites. The part which he omits is as follows:
"Yet though such were the undoubted sources of the spirit which prevailed, and still unfortunately prevails, in many of our southern counties, I will not venture to assert that French intrigue may not sometimes have interfered to aggravate and influence the fever already subsisting. We well know the usual policy of that
• Hardy's Life of Lord Charlemont, Vol. 1, p. 172. + Italics as in the original. See Gentleman's Magazine, April, 1762.
SIrish Disturbances, p. 58.
court to seek and to increase disturbance. We have reason to believe that secret service money is never refused, where there is a probability of its producing any, even distant and precarious effect, neither can we suppose that there is a country on earth where agents may not be procured for money, and more especially in the south of Ireland, where religious prejudice, present distress, and the sanguine, though fallacious, hope of relief, cooperate with avarice, and almost serve as an excuse for venality. In a country so circumstanced, it is by no means improbable that the court of France may have been tempted to tamper with an unhappy tamper with an unhappy and discontented people; and one fact, the truth of which," &c. &c.†
We have recited already, the proof on which the noble Earl here relied, namely, the importation, under most suspicious circumstances, of newlycoined French money. The opinion, therefore, of Lord Charlemont, faithfully stated, is this:-The Irish poor had reason to be dissatisfied with their condition, and French intrigue converted their discontent into insurrection. Of this judgment, the former member the noble lord held in common with his party; the latter was the result of his individual observation and reflection. Mr. Lewis suppresses what should properly be termed the testimony which his witness was really
competent to give, and substitutes for it an opinion common to him with all that class of politicians with whom he has testimony been expurgated, with was in the habit of acting. Thus more than the hardihood of the Roman index, to adapt it to the purposes of Mr. Lewis. We admit that the learned gentleman labored under difficulties him to have a great name ranged on which rendered it very desirable for his side. The testimonies* which he furnished by the opinion (we will not found suitable to his views, were those say travelling opinion) expressed by Arthur Young, in the days when he was yet Whig, and of an anonymous pamphleteer, who published under the title" An Irish Country Gentleman." To such evidence it would have been, no doubt, of much importance to have added that of the Earl of Charlemont, and we can excuse in Mr. Lewis some eagerness to obtain it. But for the acts by which the disreputable advantage has been procured, we confess ourselves unable to subdue or to disguise a strong feeling of abhorrence, adding, as in our judgment it does, to a vulgar and disgraceful artifice, by which modern legislators are mischievously misled, a misrepresentation, in which the memory of one of the most illustrious of those who have done our country honour, is foully calumniated.
WHITEBOY INSURRECTION—AGRARIAN OR POLITICAL ?
I." Mr. Secretary Pitt having added, on this subject, that there is a strong probability, in case the body of the troops, consisting of 18,000 men, under the command of the Duc D'Aiguillon, assembled at Vannes, where more than sufficient transports for that number are actually prepared, and ready to receive them on board, should (as the season of the year is growing less favourable for cruising) be able to elude his majesty's squadrons. Ireland will not fail to be one of their objects. I think it incumbent on me, in a matter of such high importance to the welfare of Ireland, to lay this intelligence before you."-Message from the Lord-Lieutenant to the Irish House of Commons, October 29, 1759.
"Association or committee of representatives, according to Mr. Wyse's plan in 1760.
1. "A member for each parish in the city of Dublin, to be chosen at a meeting of the principal inhabitants.
2. "A proportionate number for each county.
3." Do. for each principal town or borough.
4. "Each nomination to be signed by the clergy, and the principal inhabitants of the place or county.
5. Each election to be carried on as secretly as possible.
6. "Such persons only as shall be elected, shall constitute the committee-other gentlemen may assist, but shall not enjoy a right to vote.
"The secresy which was required in both instances," (in the Association of 1760, and that framed by Tone in 1793,) "was particularly requisite, in the one, by the alarm of Thurot's invasion, a month or two before; in the other, by partial insurrec
tions in various parts of the kingdom, under various names."-History of the Catholic Association, Vol. I. p. 105.
II." He had traced the history of agrarian outrage in Ireland, to a very distant period. He feared that it had existed as far back as 1760, which was long before any political agitation prevailed. (Hear, hear.)"-Report of Lord Melbourne's speech on November 27, 1837.
THE preceding chapter will have served to explain the virtual contradiction between the mottos we have prefixed to this. Lord Melbourne, in order to establish his case, that prædial disturbance was not connected with political agitation, pronounces that agrarian outrage" had existed as far back as 1760, which was long before any political agitation prevailed. Had the noble lord retrograded one step farther in his retrospect of Irish history, he would have learned that violent political agitation prevailed in the year 1759, and that at the very time when France threatened this country with invasion, a spirit had been artfully excited, which evinced more decided hostility to a union with Great Britain, than apprehensions of an invading army. He would have learned further, that, independently of the " political agitation," which sought no concealment, there were secret activities not less formidable, at work, by which, as it was most rational to conjecture, France was making the people of Ireland ready to receive her invading armies. But Mr. Lewis, in his instruc tions for the cabinet and the country, had not ventured to throw any light on the year 1759, and, accordingly, all agitation previously to the year 1760, was unknown to the Viscount Melbourne. We will not, however, be disheartened by the indisposition of her majesty's ministers to make themselves acquainted with Irish affairs, or with the inability of the assemblies in which they speak, to rebuke or correct their misrepresentations. We shall endeavour to do our part faithfully, in making the truth known, and, thus, to stand acquitted of blame when we see writers like Mr. Lewis chosen as the guides of the policy to be pursued towards Ireland.
The opinion, which testimonies prepared by that writer have enabled our accommodating statesmen to defend, if not to entertain, is, that the
disturbances by which the country has been afflicted, including the Whiteboy insurrection, were altogether local or domestic in their origin. Our helief is, in substance, what has been expressed by Lord Charlemont, that the rural population in Ireland laboured under painful grievances and oppressions, and that influences adverse to England and her institutions, operating upon the passions and purposes of a discontented people, imparted a principle of permanence to disorders, which, else, would have speedily subsided, and would have long since been forgotten. Such is our conviction. We proceed to shew the evidences on which we have formed it, and will begin with those which serve to establish the truth, (at a later period, indeed, honorably admitted by Mr. Grattan.) that there was "a French party in Ireland."
During the former part of the last century, the Roman Catholics of this country were attracted towards France by the two influences of which the Irish people are most strongly susceptible, thirst of knowledge, and the passion for military glory. Ecclesiasticst left Ireland, ignorant of the English language, to complete their education in foreign universities, and having acquired knowledge, in many instances varied and elegant, returned to their homes, to prosecute missionary labours among the peasantry of their native land, still very imperfectly acquainted with the English tongue, and, it is not unreasonable to conjecture, still cherishing prejudices against England, in no degree impaired by the instructions received from her enemies. Let it not be supposed that we are here offering an indirect acknowledg ment of the wisdom of erecting the royal college of Maynooth. We shall arrive in due time at the history of that institution. Our present purpose is to remind the reader that the Irish Roman Catholic priests, and, indeed, almost all the educated of their creed, had
See Insurrectionary Coincidences, in our November Number.
+ It very frequently happened that Roman Catholics were admitted to priests' orders in this country, in order that they might be partially enabled to sustain themselves, by officiating in the services of their church, while prosecuting their studies on the Continent.