Abbildungen der Seite

asylum to those, who, on account of their , and, successively, to the perpetration of the principal share in these criminal transactions, most atrocious crimes. This society, thus have become fugitives or outlaws from the united and combined, extended itself, by its British dominions.

subdivisions, through every part of the kings In stating the grounds of this opinion, dom; and was enabled to involve, in one although your Committee will have much general confederacy, a very numerous deand important new matter to lay before the scription of individuals of almost every class, House; yet they will also be obliged to re- connected with each other by a pledge of call to the recollection of the House, many secrecy, by consciousness of guilt, and by the particulars which have already been brought sense of personal danger, either from the under the consideration of parliament, but on violated laws of their country, or from the which new lights have been thrown by the resentment and power of their associates. events which have since occurred, and by the These bonds of union were strengthened by subsequent intelligence which has been re- the use of secret signs, frequently changed, ceived. The information which has been and applied to different ranks in the conproduced to your Comınittee, on the whole of spiracy; for the purpose of preventing disthis subject, has been most ample and exten

covery. sive. The indispensable necessity of secrecy, The system thus established, gradually with respect to the sources of many parts of acquired the means of disturbing the trans that intelligence, must be felt by the House, quillity of the country in all its parts; of imas resulting from considerations of good faith peding the execution of justice, by forcible as well as public safety. They are convinced, resistance to the authority of the laws; by that the early and uniform defeat of all at the protection of accused persons; by the tempts to disturb the public tranquillity of rescue of prisoners; the seizure of arms; and, this kingdom, is, in a very great degree, to be at length, by the assassination of informers, ascribed to the meritorious and laudable dili. of witnesses, of magistrates, and of jurymen; gence of the persons filling those departments till, by the general terror which was diffused, of his majesty's government to which this the loyal inhabitants in different counties were duty has peculiarly belonged. They appear, successively driven into the towns, or comduring a long period of time, to have obtained pelled wholly to quit the kingdom. At the early and accurate information of the chief head of this extensive conspiracy was placed designs and measures of the conspirators; a committee, terming itself · An Executive and the striking manner in which the most Directory,' extending its influence and power important particulars of the secret intelli- over the disaffected, through every part of the gence thus procured, have, in a great variety kingdom, by • Provincial and Baronial comof instances, been completely confirmed by mittees;' through whom, and by the mission events now notorious to the world, and by of itinerant delegates over the country, a the confession of parties concerned, entitles, universal correspondence was established, bein the opinion of your Committee, the whole tween this Executive Directory and all the of the information derived from the same subordinate powers and members of this sources, to the fullest credit.

system. An intercourse was maintained, in

the name of the whole, with individuals and Sect. 1.–View of the Nature and System of societies in this country, as well as with the

the Society of United Irishmen, as fully governments of his majesty's enemies; and established in Ireland.

the conspirators were thus enabled to conceal,

or display, their numbers at will; and, conseYour Committee are induced, in the first quently, to magnify their power, or to hide instance, to state the nature, extent, and in their weakness; to circulate, with rapidity fuence, of the Society of United Irishmen; and effect, the most atrocious calumnies because this society has proved the most against his majesty's person and government, powerful engine, in the hands of conspirators, and against all descriptions and bodies of against the government of their country, men, whom they thought it their interest to which has ever yet been devised; and be- vilify; to raise contributions, extorted frecause its proceedings place, in the clearest quently even from those who had not become view, the real object of all societies of this members of their union; to procure, disperse, description, either in Ireland or Great Britain; and conceal arms, ammunition, and artillery; the peculiar means by which they aet; and to collect military information; and, finally, the extreme danger which such societies must to raise an army, formed of all those among produce, whenever they are fully established. them capable of bcaring arms, and placed İt is this which has given exertion, con- under the command of officers, in military sistency, solidity, and force, to the Irish rebel- divisions, corresponding with those established lion; which has enabled the conspirators to for the general purposes of the conspiracy. form themselves, under the eye and in de- It is material to state, in detail, the formafiance of government, into one body, com- tion of the different branches of this system, pacted by one bond of union, under an oath in order to compare it with the institutions of of fidelity and secrecy; engaging themselves, a similar nature, which have been since in the first instance, to misprision of treason, formed in Great Britain, and which will be

hereafter mentioned. Each of the inferior sued, and of the nature and tendency of the societies consisted, according to their original measures which are carrying on at the present institution, of thirty-six members; which moment, your Committee deem it necessary nuinber was afterwards reduced to twelve. before they advert to more recent transactions, These twelve chose a secretary and treasurer; to go back to that period, when societies of and the secretaries of five of these societies this tendency first appeared in both kingdoms, formed what was called “ A Lower Baronial and to trace as shortly as they can, their proCommittee;' which had the immediate direc- gress and intercourse to the present time. tion and superintendance of those five socie- The society of United Irishmen, was estaties. Froin each Lower Baronial Committee, blished in the year 1791; and other societies thus constituted, one member was delegated in Great Britain, particularly the Constituto an 'Upper Baronial Committee;' which in tional society (which had long existed, but like manner,

assumed and exercised the super about this time assumed a new character) intendance and direction of the Lower Baronial the Corresponding society (which was instiCommitteesintberespective counties. The next tuted in the spring of 1792) and the societies superior committees were in populous towns, of persons in Scotland terming themselves distinguished by the name of District Com- The Friends of the People,' (which originated mittees,' and in counties, by the name of at nearly the same period) appear to have

County Committees ;' and were composed of adopted, in their fullest extent, all the extramembers delegated by the Upper Baronial vagant and violent principles of the French Committees, each Upper Baronial Committee revolution. The events which followed, in delegating one of its members to the District the course of that year and the year 1792, enor County Committee; and the District or couraged among the leading members of these County Committees had the superintendance societies, and other persons of similar princi. and direction of the Upper Baronial Commit- ples, a sanguine hope of introducing, into tees. Having thus organized' (as it is both countries (under pretence of the reform termed) the several counties and populous of abuses) what they termed, a “new order towns, a committee, called “ A Subordinate of things, founded on the principles of that Directory,' was erected in each of the four revolution. The degree of bigotry and enthuprovinces of Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and siasm with which they attached themselves Connaught, composed of two members or to these principles, was manifested, as well three, according to the extent and population by the speeches and writings of the members of the districts which they represented; who of the societies, as by the zeal with which were delegated to a Provincial Committee, they laboured to propagate, among the lower which held the immediate direction and su- classes of the community, a spirit of hatred perintendance of the several County and Dis- and contempt for the existing laws and gotrict Committees in each of the four provinces; vernment of the country. and a General Executive Directory,' com- It can hardly be necessary to recall to the posed of five persons, was elected by the Pro- recollection of the House, the industry with vincial Directories; but the election of this which they endeavoured 16 disseminate these Directory was so managed, that none but the sentiments by the circulation of their own secretaries of the Provincial Directories knew proceedings and resolutions; uniformly dion whom the election fell. It was made by rected to vilify the forms and principles of the ballot, but not reported to the electors; the British constitution; to represent the people appointment was notified only to those on of this country as groaning under intolerable whom the election devolved; and the Execu- oppression; to eradicate all religious princitive Directory, thus composed, assumed and ple; and to recommend a recurrence to expeexercised the supreme and uncontrolled com- periments of desperate innovation similar to mand of the whole body of the union, which, those which were at that time adopted in by these secret modes of election, was kept France. For the same purpose, the works of utterly ignorant who were the persons to Paine, and other seditious and impious publiwhom this implicit obedience was paid. cations, were distributed, throughout almost Sect. 2.- Institution of United Irishmen in and profusion beyond ali former example.

every part of the kingdom, with an activity 1791; and rise of different Societies in

So confident were the societies of the effi. Great Britain.

cacy of these measures, that they appear al. For the purpose of obtaining a comprehen- most universally to have looked forward from sive view of the attempts which have been re- the beginning, to the entire overthrow of peatedly made, in the course of the last eight every existing establishment in these kingyears, for establishing a similar system in doms, and to the creation of sonje democrathis country, and of the means by which they tical form of government; either by uniting have been hitherto defeated, as well as in the whole of the British empire into one reorder to enable the House to judge fully of the public, or by dividing it into two or more reperseverance with which the system is pur- publics. The conspirators in Ireland, un

questionably, always meditated the complete Report of Secret Committee of House of separation of that country from Great Britain : Lords of Ireland, August 17, 1798,

all, however, considered themselves as en... gaged in one common cause, as far as related | 1792; and set forth in the Appendix (No. 1), to the destruction of the existing constitution; in which the united Irish address the Scotch all looked to the success of the disaffected in delegates, in what they term “ the spirit of each country as forwarding their cominon civic union, in the fellowship of a just and views; and each was ready to support the common cause;" and rejoiced, “ that the other in any resistance to the lawful govern- Scotch did not consider themselves as merged ment; a frequent intercourse among them and melted down into another country:" but was therefore considered as important to their that in the great national question to which ends; and they all invited, or expected, the the address alluded, “ they were still Scotcountenance and aid of France.

land.” They added, " that the cause of the The attempts made in the beginning of this United Irish, was also the cause of the Scotch conspiracy, to disguise the real objects under delegates;" that “ universal emancipation, false pretences, which ought at no time to with representative legislature, was the polar have imposed even on superficial observers, principle which guided the society of United have long since been abandoned. Subsе- Irishmen;" that their end was “a national quent transactions have not merely shown legislature, their means, a union of the the extremes to which the nature and prin- whole people.” And they recommended asciples of these societies naturally led, but sembling the people in each country in, what have completely unveiled the original and set- they term, “ peaceable, and constitutional tled designs of the persons chiefly concerned onvention;" the object of which they atin them. Your Committee beg leave, in this tempted to disguise by the pretence of reform place, to refer the House to *his Majesty's and petition to parliament. Several members proclamation of the year 1792, and the several of the Scotch Convention appear to have been addresses of both Houses of Parliament there- alarmed at the language of this address, and upon; to the reports of the Committees of notwithstanding the efforts of Muir, no anParliament in this kingdom and in Ireland; swer was sent; and the meeting adjourned and to the different trials for treason and se- to April 1793. The conduct of Muir, in this dition in both kingdoms. And they are con- assembly, formed part of the charge of sedifident, that an attentive examination of those tion, upon which he was afterwards tried and documents can leave no doubt in the opinion found guilty. His zeal, however, recommended of the House (even on the circumstances him to the conspirators in Ireland; and on known at that early period) respecting the the 11th of January 1793, he became a memreal nature and extent of the original con- ber of the Society of United Irishmen of spiracy.

Dublin. He was absent in France at the Sect. 3.–First open Attempt in Scotland.

time of the second meeting of the Scotch

Convention, which assembled in April 1793, The groundwork having been thus laid in and again adjourned itself to the 29th of Oceach kingdom, the first public attempt, which tober following; when it met a third time at was openly directed to the object of over- Edinburgh, after the trial of Muir, who was throwing the government, and effecting a re- convicted and sentenced for transportation in volution, was made in Scotland; under cir- August 1793. It is well known, that he cumstances, which even then evidently mark- afterwards escaped from the place of his ed the connexion between the disaffected transportation, and has recently resided in throughout his Majesty's dominions An France, pursuing a conduct marked by the assembly, styling itself, “ A General Conven- most inveterate hostility to his country. tion of Delegales from the Societies of the * This meeting of the Scotch Convention Friends of the People throughout Scotland,” | in October 1793, appears to have been held met at Edinburgh on the 11th of December in concert with several societies in England, 1792. Thomas Muir, a leading member of and particularly the Constitutional Society this assembly, endeavoured to prevail upon and the London Corresponding Society, alits members, at one of their meetings, to re- ready mentioned. These societies afterwards ceive, and answer, a paper, intituled, " An sent delegates to the Scotch Convention; the Address from the Society of United Irishmen terms of whose instructions demonstrate the in Dublin to the Delegates for promoting a Re- dangerous views of those who sent them. form in Scotland;" dated the 23d of November Hamilton Rowan, a member of the Society

of United Irishmen of Dublin (now a fugitive * Proclamation and Addresses, 1792; from Ireland, and attainted of high treason), Lords’Report, 1794; Commons Report, May, and the hon. Simon Butler (likewise a mem1794: ditto, ditto, June, 1794; Irish Lords ber of the Society of United Irishmen) atReport, 1798; Commons ditto, 1798. Trial tended this meeting; and Hamilton Rowan of Muir, Skirving, Margarot, Gerald, Palmer, had previously been solicited, by letter from and others, for sedition in Scotland in 1793 Scotland, on the subject of sending delegates and 1794; of Watt and Downie for treason in from Ireland to the Convention. It does not Scotland in 1794; of Hardy and others for appear, however, that these persons bore the treason in 1794; of Redhead al. Yorke for sedition in 1795; of Stone for treason in * Report of the Secret Committee of House 1796.

of Commons, June 1794,

distinct character of delegates, but they were Scotland for sedition, and sentenced to transreceived with marked attention; and the Con- portation. The members of this Convention, vention resolved, on the 5th of November notwithstanding the arrest of some of their 1793, " that any of the members of the So- body, assembled again on the 5th of Decemciety of United Irishmen of Dublin should be ber, and refused to disperse till compelled by admitted to speak and vote in the Conven the magistrates; but they continued for some tion.” On the 22d of November 1793, the time to meet privately, in different societies, Convention had changed its title to that of and to carry on a secret correspondence with “ The British Convention of Delegates of the various parts of England and Scotland. People, associated to obtain Universal Sulf- The Society of United Irishmen of Dublin, frage and Annual Parliaments.” They as- who had already shown the interest they took sumed, in almost every particular, the style in the meeting of this Convention, appear (as and mode of proceeding adopted by the Na- was to be expected) to have considered its tional Convention of France; they divided dispersion as hostile to their views, and dethemselves into ' sections, committees of or-clared their sentiments, by'a resolution of the ganization, instruction, finance, and secrecy;' 20th December, 1793; in which, after nogranted honours of sitting;' made honour- ticing what they called, " the oppressive atable mention' in their minutes of patriotic tenipt in Edinburgh, to stifle the voice of the donations; entered their minutes " in the people through the British Convention, and first year of the British Convention;" insti- the truly patriotic resistance to that attempt," tuted“ Primary societies, provisional assen- they resolved, “ That all, or any, of the blies and departments;" received from their members of the British Convention, and the sections a variety of motions and reports, patriotic societies which delegated members some of which, in their studied affectation of io that convention, should be received as bro. French phrases, had the words, “Vive lathers and members of their society." Convention," prefixed to them, and ended with Sect. 4.---Attempts to assemble a Convention

ça ira ;" and some were dated “ First Year of the British Convention One and Indivi.

of the People in England. sible."

The leading English societies, which have The views of this dangerous assembly, ap- been already stated to have sent delegates to pear from the minutes of their proceedings, the Scotch Convention, and, during its sitand from the correspondence of Skirving their tings, and for a considerable time previous secretary, Margarot, and Gerald, the dele- thereto, been actively employed in nieasures gates of the London. Corresponding Society, directed to similar objects. For the purpose and Hardy, the secretary of that society; of promoting their seditious projects, they which are stated in the report of the Com- had carried on a constant correspondence with mittee of this House in 1791, and in the Ap- all the numerous country societies, which had pendix to that Report, and were given in evi. been formed in many populous towns in difdence on the trials above referred to.

ferent parts of the kingdom. They had, as It is observable, upon the face of these mi- early as in May 1792, presented an address, nutes, that the funds of this convention were sufficiently expressive of their principles, to extremely low; so low, that perhaps at first those whom they stylerl, “ The Friends of sight the assembly itself may appear to have the Constitution at Paris, known by the name been rather an bject of contempt, from the of Jacobins." In the end of the same year, apparent inadequacy of its pecuniary means, after receiving a letter of approbation from than an object of alarm from ihe dangerous persons calling themselves “ Friends of Liextravagance of its revolutionary designs. It berty and equality in France,” they instituted is happy for the peace of this country, that a regular committee of foreign corresponthe means of these societies, in their different dence; and they had even proceeded to preshapes and stages, have not been more equal sent addresses to the National Convention in to such designs. But the recent proceedings France, which had then assumed the whole in Ireland too plainly show, that though the legislative and executive power, and was aswant of money may retard the progress and sembled for the purpose of framing a new cripple thc exertions of such conspiracies, yet constitution, and proceeding to the trial of numbers thus leagued together for the total the King. In one of these addresses, partisubversion of the government and constitution cularly noticed in the Report of 1794, but of a country, possess means which (if not sea- which your Committee think it material again sonably counteracted) may introduce scenes to advert to, they styled the Convention, of the most horrid confusion, rebellion, and “ Servants of a Sovereign People, and Beneblood.

factors of Mankind." They rejoice that the : This Convention continued to hold its meet- revolution had arrived at that point of perings in the city of Edinburgh, until the 4th of fection, which enabled them to address them December 1793 ; when its objects evidently by such a title. They extol the proceedings tending towards open rebellion, some of the of the 10th of August as a glorious victory; leading members were arrested, together with and add, “ The benefits will in part be ours, Skirving their secretary; and Skirving, Mar- but the glory will be all your own; and it is garot, and Gerald, were afterwards tried in the reward of your perseverance, the prize of virtue." In January following, at the eve of ceeding from town to town, and from village to the murder of the French king, and of the village, endeavouring to inculcate into the commencement of hostilities against this minds of those with whom they conversed, country, Barrere, Roland, and St. André, the necessity of such a measure, as that which active members of the French Convention, they had in contemplation, for the reform of had been elected honorary members of the the abuses of the government, and the redress Constitutional Society: and two speeches of the grievances of the people; and describmade by Rarrere and St. André, delivered for ing, in language varied according to the pasthe express purpose of accelerating the con- sions or prejudices of different classes whom demnation and execution of the king, assert- they addressed, the nature and extent of the ing the doctrines of the sovereignty of the different political purposes, which might be people, and deducing, as its consequence, the effected by a convention, once assembled. unlimited rights of a National Convention, The dispersion of Paine's works, and other and the personal responsibility of the mo- works of a similar tendency, was at the same Darch, were entered on the books of the Con- time continued with increased industry; and stitutional Society; and the resolution for this the societies flattered themselves that they purpose was published in the newspapers. had, by these means, really made a progress Actuated by these principles, the English so- towards preparing a large portion of the nacieties persevered in their design; and not- tion to favour their project. withstanding the dispersion of the meeting at The zeal, indeed, of many of the country Edinburgh, which had assumed the appella societies appears to have outrun the instruction of "The British Convention,” proceeded tions of the agents, and to have carried them on a plan, which they had long had in con- into discussions, beyond those limits which templation, for assembling, in England, a si- the persons who planned and instigated the milar but more extensive meeting, under the measure, thought it prudent in the first inappellation of “ A Convention of the People.” stance to prescribe. The agents were in

At a general meeting of the Corresponding structed to confine the views of the several Society, held at the Globe tavern, on the 20th societies to whom they were deputed, and to January 1794, a resolution and address to the point the wishes of individuals purely to the atpeople of England were agreed to, and ordered tainment of universal suffrage, from which, once to be published; expressly directed to the ob- established, it was represented that all the reject of assembling a general convention of the forms which could be desired would naturally people. At another general meeting of the flow; and it appears to have been the design of same society, held at Chalk Farm, on the those who directed the business, to prevent the 14th of April 1794, among a variety of in. premature discussion of any of those points, flammatory resolutions, they declared, that which they represented as subordinate, untis the whole proceedings of the late British con after the convention should have been asvention at Edinburgh, claimed their appro- sembled, and this primary object of universal bation and applause. They, at the same suffrage obtained. No caution or prohibition, time, returned thanks to Archibald Hamilton however, could prevent many of the country Rowan, prisoner in Newgate, in the city of societies from showing how confidently they Dublin (who had in March 1794, been chosen anticipated, as the result to which the delian honorary member of the ConstitutionalSo. berations of that convention must necessarily ciety), as well as to the Society of United lead, the abolition of monarchy, of aristocracy, Irishmen in Dublin, whom they exhorted to and of other establishments, which they persevere in their exertions to obtain justice deemed equally oppressive; and the substitufor the people of Ireland. The language held tion of a representative government, founded on different occasions evidently showed their on the new doctrine of the rights of man; and intention of endeavouring to establish, by uniting, in one body, all the legislative and force, the authority of such a convention. I executive powers of the state. They exhorted each other “To prepare cou

This intended convention was prevented rageously for the struggle which they medi- from assembling by the arrest of the secretated;" and openly avowed that they meant taries, and of several members of the two soto obtain the redress, which they professed to cieties, called, “The London Corresponding seek, not from parliament, not from the ex- Society,' and 'The Constitutional Society." ecutive government, but from themselves, and The secretaries and leading members of the from their own strength and valour; from societies at Sheffield and Norwich (which, totheir own laws, and not from the laws of those gether with several other subordinate societies whom they termed their plunderers, enemies in different parts of the kingdom, were in conand oppressors." For the purpose of assem- stant correspondence with then) were also bling such a convention, and of preparing the taken into custody. The attention of parliapeople at large to look to its proceedings with ment was, at this period, directed to these respect, and to adopt and countenance the proceedings; and in consequence of the evidoctrine and practices which it might recom-dence then laid before a secret committee of mend, itinerant members of the societies this House, the power of detaining suspected above-mentioned, dispersed themselves persons was intrusted to his majesty. throughout different parts of the country, pro- The subsequent proceedings are suficiently

« ZurückWeiter »