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and we flattered ourselves that futurity offered to our notice lengthened years of comfort. But we soon found that our hold on earthly happiness was fragile as the spider's thread. My father was taken ill and died. Even now the procession of his funeral is pictured on my memory. The gentleman already named as my father's employer had fallen upon evil days. His property passed into other hands; and as the purchaser knew nothing of our family, no one cared for the widow and her orphan charge. A house with every needful convenience had been built for us by the original proprietor. This we were abruptly ordered to quit. Another king had arisen, who knew not Joseph or his father's house. We went away, weeping at every step. I saw my mother's tears, and to this day her low wailing strikes my ear. But though destitute, we were not forsaken ; though in straits, we did not perish ; and by the blessing of Almighty Providence upon the well-directed industry of my mother and my elder brothers, we were sustained with food convenient.
The desolate condition of the moneyless and unprotected widow was aggravated in no common degree by the political commotion already adverted to. Persons unacquainted with the approaching terrors of that era may imagine that an obscure and uninfluential family, like ours, had little to apprehend, that our poverty was protection enough ; and that those who had nothing to lose had nothing to fear. Not so. The conflict then impending arose from the dark designs of men "cursed with a heart unknowing how to yield,” and who were bent on havoc and rapine. Personal robbery might not be planned, but many were ready for that and a great deal more. Heresy and sedition were closely in league; the emissaries of each were in ceaseless motion; and the ultimate Jesign was, to burst forth from the unsuspected places
of mischief, suddenly, and wide wasting as the simoom of the desert, and sweep with indiscriminating ire, from the abodes of their peaceful countrymen, every vestige of existing government, and every temple devoted to the Reformed religion, as by law and right reason established. Perfect secrecy on the part of the rebels was happily unattainable. Every now and then circumstances and facts transpired, the tendency of which could not be mistaken. Hairbrained but hot-headed men became the self-elected orators of secluded nocturnal assemblies.
Liberty and equality, and reason versus religion, neat as imported from the French Directory at Paris, was the order of the day. Uprorious vociferation took the place of argument; and though the majority of these Hibernian gentry were as ignorant of jurisprudence as the more modern destructionist, nothing less than the dismemberment of the British empire, and the establishment of a republic, formed probably on the model of citizen Robespierre, would suit their purpose. All this was designed, and most of it was divulged. Experience has shown, that where numerous and unequally gifted agencies are employed, let the pursuit be good or evil, entire privacy is next to impossible. The parties may promise to be silent, or may bind themselves to be so by oath ; but concealed knowledge is a treasure, of which the custody is to some communicative souls impracticable. They find themselves in the possession of a secret; it struggles to break away, but they remember their vow, and in order to hold it fast, they get a friend or two to help them. The sons of Irish misrule assumed several names : there were white-boys, and steel-boys; oakboys, and right-boys.
Distinctions are, however, needless ---they were all bad boys ; and at length the entire series were drawn into the wild and powerful vortex of United Irishmen ; it being understood that this body consisted chiefly of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion.
The storm at length came down, and the consequences were awful. Although not quite nine years of age when our neighbourhood rang with war's alarms, the scenes I was then compelled to witness cannot be forgotten. I distinctly remember the transactions of an eventful day which took place in a small town near my mother's residence. The rebels had taken possession of the place, and had murdered a magistrate who attempted to oppose them. At that crisis a squadron of dragoons, stationed at Tullamore, received orders to march and endeavour to dislodge them. The cavalry rode into the main street with great gallantry, but were received by a tremendous fire of musketry from the windows of the houses on each side ; so that, after sustaining a considerable loss, they were compelled to retreat. Several of the soldiers were killed; and a number of wounded men were afterwards conveyed on cars from the place of action to the military hospital. My poor mother was in the midst of these dangers; and I well remember that she experienced great rudeness from the ruffian rabble. But the Almighty preserved her from serious injury. He can restrain at pleasure the wrath of man, as well as divert it into a new and unintended channel. That night we were afraid of entering into any house, lest we should attract the notice of the rebels, who were now flushed into insolence and inebriety by their recent victory: we therefore crept behind the foliage of some low trees, and passed the night in the
Our next precaution was to protect the little remaining household furniture from pillage. To effect this, we buried the most valuable articles in the earth, as nothing above ground appeared to offer the least protection. The property thus secreted was saved ; but on raising it subsequently, almost every
thing was spoiled by the dampness of the soil in which it had been embedded.
One of my neighbours, John Tinkler, was singled out by these barbarians as a victim. He was a man of singular benevolence, and held in general esteem by the surrounding inhabitants; but he was a Protestant, and that had long been placed at the head of the list of unpardonable crimes. The house of this worthy man, whom I well knew, was beset by a horde of armed ruffians, who commenced an immediate attack. Tinkler, in the midst of his family, consisting of a wife and seven or eight children, though surprised, determined to defend himself to the last extremity. He fought desperately, though oppressed by numbers, until one of the villains posted outside the house, and guided by the sound of his voice, deliberately levelled his piece and fired. The bullet passed through the door, and struck Tinkler, who fell dead just within the threshold, valiantly defending his home and property; and I regret to add, that the widow and her helpless charge, ejected by some means from the farm and land, were obliged to seek shelter elsewhere. These were but the beginning of sorrows.
The spirit of ruinous anarchy spread far and wide. It was particularly observed, that the Roman Catholics were very much devoted to their chapels. Mass was celebrated every day throughout most parts of the country; whereas, formerly, it was chiefly observed only on the Sabbath-day. The chapel of Ballycanoe was attended by a very numerous congregation at both morning and evening prayers. Michael Murphy was officiating Priest of that parish; a young man, strongly made, and of a dark complexion, who had been a few years resident in the place, and not long in holy orders. This person was master of profound dissimulation, and contrived to throw around himself the carb of saintly innocence at the very moment in which
hé was preparing to smite with the sword. This military saint actually took the oath of allegiance, in which he expressly declared himself ready to “be true and faithful to His Majesty, King George the Third, and to the succession of his family to the throne; and that he would prevent tumult and disorder by every means within his reach, and give up all sorts of arms in his possession.” “All the above, ” quoth Michael, “I swear, so help me God, and my Redeemer !” Meantime, in the immediate vicinity, and all around the residence of his reverence, timber was missing out of the gentlemen's nurseries. It was observed that the woods and shrubberies were gleaned of such materials as would suit for the construction of offensive weapons.
In fact, this genuine sample of Popish fidelity, who, had he lived, ought to have been rewarded with at least a Cardinal's hat this pretended pattern of all that is good and praiseworthy went his way from the altar, put down the Testament on which after the perpetration of his delusive affidavit his lips had been pressed, and straightway began to exemplify the inviolability of his oath to existing government, by the manufacture of pike-handles, and granting absolution to those who helped him.
Without going into the history of the Irish Rebellion, which is foreign from my present purpose, the fact is sufficiently evident, that the whole of that sanguinary struggle from first to last may be ascribed to the crafty domination of the Roman Catholic clergy. It is not a little singular, that three of the most daring military leaders, those I mean who were principally signalized in the wholesale butchery of their Protestant fellow-subjects, were Priests in that persecuting Church. One of these, named Roche, assumed the power of working miracles. Indeed, each of them, as occasion required, did a little business in that line. Roche declared, that in battle his person