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If I stand at this bar, and dare not vindicate my character, how dare you calumniate it? Does the sentence of death, which your unhallowed policy inflicts on my body, also condemn my tongue to silence, and my reputation to reproach? Your executioner may abridge the period of my existence; but, while I exist, I shall not forbear to vindicate my character and motives from your aspersions.
3. As a man to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in doing justice to that reputation which is to live after me, and which is the only legacy I can leave to those I honor and love, and for whom I am proud to perish. As men, my Lord, we must appear, on the great day, at one common tribunal; and it will then remain for the Searcher of all hearts to show, to a collective universe, which party are engaged in the most virtuous actions, or actuated by the purest motives, — my country's oppressors or —*
4. My Lord, shall a dying man be denied the legal privilege of exculpating himself, in the eyes of the community, of an undeserved reproach thrown upon him during his trial, by charging him with ambition, — with attempting to cast away, for a paltry consideration, the liberties of his country? Why, then, insult me? or, rather, why insult justice, in demanding of me why sentence of death should not be pronounced?
5. I know, my Lord, that form prescribes that you should ask the question; the form also presumes the right of answering! This, no doubt, may be dispensed with; and so might the whole ceremony of the trial, since sentence was already pronounced at the Castle f before your jury was impanneled. Your Lordships are but the priests of the oracle, and I submit to the sacrifice; but I insist on the whole of the forms.
* Here Lord Norbury exclaimed, " Listen, Sir, to the sentence of the law." t Dublin Castle, where the government offices are.
6. I am charged with being an emissary of France. An emissary of France! — and for what end? It is alleged that I wished to sell the independence of my country! And for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? and is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles contradictions? No! I am no emissary. My ambition was to hold a place among the deliverers of my country,—not in power, nor in profit, but in the glory of the achievement. Sell my country's independence to France! And for what? For a change of masters? No; but for "ambition "!
7. 0 my country! was it personal ambition that could influence me? Had it been the soul of my actions, could I not, by my education and fortune, by the rank and consideration of my family, have placed myself among the proudest of your oppressors? My country was my idol. To it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it I now offer up my life!
8. No! my Lord; I acted as an Irishman, determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction, its joint partner and perpetrator in the patricide, and whose reward is the ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendor, and a consciousness of depravity. It was the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this doubly riveted despotism. I wished to place her independence beyond the reach of any power on earth. I wished to exalt her to that proud station in the world which Providence had fitted her to fill.
9. I looked, indeed, for the assistance of France; but I wished to prove to France, and to the world, that Irishmen deserved to be assisted; that they were indignant at slavery, and ready to assert the independence and liberty of their country! I wished to procure for my country the guarantee which Washington procured for America,—to procure an aid which, by its example, would be as important as by its valor, — allies disciplined, gallant, pregnant with science and experience; who would preserve the good and polish the rough points of our character; who would couie to us as strangers, and leave us as friends, after sharing our perils and elevating our destiny.
10. These were my objects; not to receive new taskmasters, but to expel old tyrants. These were my views, and these only become Irishmen. It was for these ends I sought aid from France, because France, even as an enemy, could not be more implacable than the enemy already in the bosom of my country.
11. Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonor. Let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country's liberty and independence, or that I could have become the pliant minion of power in the oppression and the miseries of my countrymen. The proclamation of the Provisional Government speaks for my views. No inference can be tortured from it to countenance barbarity or debasement at home, or subjection, humiliation, or treachery from abroad.
12. I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor, for the same reason that I would resist the domestic tyrant. In the dignity of freedom I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and its enemy should enter only by passing over my lifeless corpse. And am I, who lived but for my country, — who have subjected myself to the dangers of the jealous and watchful oppressor, and now to the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights, and my country her independence, — am I to be loaded with calumny, and not sutfered to resent it? No! Heaven forbid! *
* Here Lord Norbury interrupted the prisoner, telling him that his father, the late Dr. Emmett, would not have countenanced such sentiments.
13. If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and cares of those who were dear to them in this transitory life, 0 ever dear and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny upon the conduct of your suffering son, and see if I have, even for a moment, deviated from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to instill into my youthful mind, and for which I am now to offer up my life!
14. My Lords, you seem impatient for the sacrifice. The blood for which you thirst is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim ;—it circulates, warmly and unruffled, through the channels which God created for nobler purposes, but which you are bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry to heaven. Be ye patient! I have but a few words more to say.
15. My lamp of life is nearly extinguished. My race is run. The grave opens to receive me, — and I sink into its bosom! I have but one request to ask, at my departure from this world ;— it is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph; for, as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, — then, and not till then, — let my epitaph be written! I have done.
'T were 8weet, indeed, to close our eyes with those we cherish near,
LII. — THE LYRE AND THE SWORD.
Delivery. There should ba a marked contrast in the tones of the different speakers. Those of the Sword should be in a bold middle pitch, with quick time, and short pauses; while the words attributed to the Lyre should be spoken with plaintive expression. The sixth and seventh stanzas require great animation, a noble orotund quality of voice, and expressive pauses.
"O, Arm thee, youthful warrior,
And gird me to thy side!
The battle's crimson tide;
A free and forward blast, .
Lies all the choice thou hast!"
But a Lyre hung near that falchion,
From whose unheeded strings
Like the sound of viewless wings:
Such were the words it spake, —
Afar, for thy dear sake!
Again the Sword sang fiercely
Its strain of martial glee:
The battle waits for thee! •
Amid its wildest burst;