« ForrigeFortsæt »
this same Ponson, the last-described, the Bishop declares that he was strictly honest, and could not bear the absence of this quality in others; so that his patience was pretty well tried by his Irish allies.' At the same time, he expressed his contempt for religion, in a way which the Bishop saw reason for ascribing to vanity — the miserable affectation of appearing worse than he really was.' One officer there was, named Truc, whose brutality recalled the impression, so disadvantageous to French republicanism, which else had been partially effaced by the manners and conduct of his comrades. To him the Bishop (and not the Bishop only, but every one of my own informants, to whom Truc had been familiarly known) ascribes a front of brass, an incessant fraudful smile, manners altogether vulgar, and in his dress and person a neglect of cleanliness, even beyond the affected negligence of republicans.'
Truc, however, happily, was not leader; and the principles or the policy of his superiors prevailed. To them, not merely in their own conduct, but also in their way of applying that influence which they held over their very bigoted allies, the Protestants of Connaught were under deep obligations. Speaking merely as to property, the honest Bishop renders the following justice to the enemy: And here it would be an act of great injustice to the excellent discipline constantly maintained by these invaders while they remained in our town, - not to remark that, with every temptation to plunder, which the time and the number of valuable articles within their reach presented to them in the Bishop's palace, from a sideboard of plate and glasses, a hall filled with hats, whips, and greatcoats, as well of the guests as of the family, not a single particular of private property was found to have been carried away, when the owners, after the first fright, came
to look for their effects, which was not for a day or two after the landing.' Even in matters of delicacy the same forbearance was exhibited: -Beside the entire use of other apartments, during the stay of the French in Killala, the attic story, containing a library, and three bed-chambers, continued sacred to the Bishop and his family. And so scrupulous was the delicacy of the French, not to disturb the female part of the house, that not one of them was ever seen to go higher than the middle floor, except on the evening of the success at Castlebar, when two officers begged leave to carry to the family the news of the battle; and seemed a little mortified that the news was received with an air of dissatisfaction.' These, however, were not the weightiest instances of that eminent service which the French had it in their power to render on this occasion. The Royal army behaved ill in every sense. Liable to continual panics in the field, panics which, but for the overwhelming force accumulated, and the discretion of Lord Cornwallis, would have been fatal to the good cause, the Royal forces erred, as unthinkingly, in the abuse of any momentary triumph. Forgetting that the rebels held many hostages in their hands, they once recommenced the old system practised in Wexford and Kildare, of hanging and shooting without trial, and with out a thought of the horrible reprisals that might be adopted. These reprisals, but for the fortunate influence of the French commanders, and but for their great energy in applying that influence according to the exigencies of time and place, would have been made it cost the whole weight of the French power; their influence was stretched almost to breaking, before they could accomplish the purpose of neutralizing the senseless cruelty of the Royalists, and of saving the trembling Protestants. Dreadful were the anxieties of those moments: and I myself heard per
sons, at a distance of nearly two years, declare that their lives hung at that time by a thread; and that, but for the hasty approach of the Lord Lieutenant by forced marches, that thread would have snapped. We heard with panic,' said they, of the madness which characterized the proceedings of our soi-disant friends: we looked for any chance of safety only to our nominal enemies, the staff of the French army.'
THE IRISH REBELLION.
ONE story was still current, and very frequently repeated, at the time of my own residence upon the scene of these transactions. It would not be fair to mention it without saying, at the same time, that the Bishop, whose discretion was so much impeached by the affair, had the candor to blame himself most heavily, and always ap plauded the rebel for the lesson he had given him; but still it serves to show the contagiousness of that blind spirit of aristocratic haughtiness which then animated the Royal party. The case was this: -Day after day the Royal forces had been accumulating upon military posts in the neighborhood of Killala, and could be descried from elevated stations in that town. Stories travelled simultaneously to Killala, every hour, of the atrocities which marked their advance; many, doubtless, being fictitious, either of blind hatred, or of that ferocious policy which sought to make the rebels desperate, by involving them in the last extremities of guilt and massacre; but, unhappily, too much countenanced as to their general outline, by excesses on the Royal part, already proved, and undeniable. The ferment and the agitation increased every hour amongst the rebel occupants of Killala. The French had no power to protect, beyond the moral one of their in
fluence as allies; and in the very crisis of this alarming situation, a rebel came to the Bishop with the news that the Royal cavalry was at that moment advancing from Sligo, and could be traced along the country by the line of blazing houses which accompanied their march. The Bishop, of course, doubted, could not believe, and so forth. Come with me,' said the rebel. It was a matter of policy to yield, and his Lordship went. They ascended together the Needle-tower-hill, from the summit of which the Bishop now discovered that the fierce rebel had spoken but too truly. A line of smoke and fire ran over the country in the rear of a strong patrol detached from the King's forces. The moment was critical; the rebel's eye expressed the unsettled state of his feelings; and, at that instant, the imprudent Bishop uttered a sentiment which, to his dying day he could not forget. They,' said he, meaning the ruined houses, they are only wretched cabins.' The rebel mused, and for a few moments seemed in self-conflict: a dreadful interval to the Bishop, who became sensible of his own extreme imprudence the very moment after the words had escaped him. However, the man contented himself with saying, after a pause, A poor man's cabin is to him as valuable as a palace.' It probable that this retort was far from expressing the deep moral indignation at his heart, though his readiness of mind failed to furnish him with one more stinging. And in such cases all depends upon the first movement of vindictive feeling being broken. The Bishop, however, did not forget the lesson he had received, nor did he fail to blame himself most heavily, not so much for his imprudence, as for his thoughtless adoption of a language expressing an aristocratic hauteur, which did not belong to his real character. There was indeed at that moment no need that fresh fuel should be applied to the irritation of