After the battle of Antrim, I remained in the north, till the month of November, 1798, when I was compelled to quit that part of the country to avoid being arrested. I proceeded to Dublin, where I was joined by my wife and child, in the summer of 1799, and worked there at cotton weaving, until I was employed by Mr. Charles H. Teeling, who was then establishing a bleach green at the Nawl, in the County Meath.
While I was living at Mr. Teeling’s, a poor fellow who had been discharged from the Armagh militia, and was returning home with his family, his wife and children fell sick on the road near Mr. Teeling’s, and got a lodging in a farmer’s barn for a night, but learning it was fever, they were turned out next morning; being unable to travel further they lay down in a ditch on the road side. I found them in that miserable situation, and told Mr. Teeling of it, he sent his men that instant, and before night had a booth erected and thatched, fit to resist the heaviest rain, and had the family provided regularly with plenty of clean dry wheat straw; by his assistance and support the family were all restored to health, and enabled to pursue their journey.
I worked at weaving with Edward Finn, in the Liberty, till June, 1799. Circumstances then obliged me to move my quarters. I went down to Mr. Charles Teeling’s place, at the Nawl, in the County Meath, and remained in his employment, as over-seer of his bleach green, till 1802. A foreman of Mr. Teeling’s, named John McCarroll, gave information against me. I then had to fly, and return to Dublin. With the assistance of Mr. Teeling I set up a small haberdasher’s store, at No. 8, on the Coombe, and I remained there till the month of June, 1803. I had formerly worked, for a short time, with Mr. Lawrence Tighe, in his bleach green at Blue Bells, near Dublin. Tighe one day asked me a question which caused me to think he was an informer, and I immediately left his employment.
The place I lived in, on the Coombe, was directly opposite a temporary barrack, where a company of soldiers was stationed. In the spring of 1803, James McGucken, the attorney of Belfast, called upon me for information, which I refused to give him. I had a comrade, a native of Dublin, who had settled with his family in Belfast. Russell had sent for him, and this he had told to McGucken. The latter followed him to Dublin, accompanied by Cornelius Brannan, a tailor, and called on me, at my little place on the Coombe, to inquire for my comrade, and to put other questions to me which I did not answer. He then offered me money to quit my connection with the United Irishmen.
‘If you have fulfilled your obligation to their society,’ said I, ‘you can quit when you choose ; but it does not seem to me that I have fulfilled mine yet.’
‘Well,’ said he, raising his voice, and speaking angrily, ‘tell your comrade to see me before he leaves Dublin, or by — I will be his death.’
I had a case of pistols lying in the desk behind the counter loaded. I took them out, and levelling one of them at him, and pointing with the other to the barrack, I said, ‘ James, I know the guard is there, you have shewn what you are, I will shew you how little I regard your threat.’
‘Ah, Jemie,’ said he, recovering himself, quickly, and forcing himself to smile, ‘ I never thought it would come to this, between you and me.’
‘It is your own doing,’ said I. He asked if we could not have some thing to drink, in order to shew that we were friends again. I replied that I was not his enemy, unless he forced me to be such. I sent out for some porter, we drank out of the same vessel, and the unpleasant affair went off as a joke. My landlord lived next door. The moment McGucken left my shop, I went to the former, paid my rent, packed up my little property, and that evening I quitted the house. McGucken came next day, at ten o’clock, accompanied by an officer of the Liberty yeomen, and a gentleman whom my landlord did not know; but the bird had flown. A few days before, I received a note, stating, that if I would walk, on a certain evening, between Roper’s Rest and Harold’s Cross, I would meet a friend there, I went, and found Robert Emmet waiting for me.
From the Coombe, I removed, along with my wife and an infant, to Butterfield-lane, near Rathfarnham, to a house which had been taken by Mr. Robert Emmet. During my residence there, I assisted Mr. Robert Emmet in all his operations, until Mr. Russell required me to go with him to the North. I first became acquainted with Russell, in Belfast, soon after the United system came into operation. He honoured me with his friendship, — friendship, which, ripening to the utmost extent of human confidence, continued during his life, and will continue to endear his memory during mine.
It was previous to my meeting with Mr. Emmet, that Mr. Neilson, at the risk of his life, returned, without the permission of government, from banishment, and that he applied to me to accompany him to the North. This was in 1802, when I brought him there, and back again, to Dublin, in safety. It was in 1803 that I was sent by Mr. Emmet to the North, with Mr. Russel. On our failure there, I went with William H. Hamilton, the brother-in-law of Mr. Russel, to Ballyboy, in the County Monaghan. I kept him there, in safety, at Mr. Crawford’s, for a long time. He left that place, against my will, and was taken in a cabin, in the neighbourhood, and I, having been seen in his company, that part of the country was no longer safe for me.
I went to Drogheda, .and fell to work, where I remained, until the 12th of July, 1804. I found my wife, after all the perils she had escaped, the same in cheerfulness, in hope, in patience, in fortitude, I had ever found her. She had gone through scenes, which tried some of those qualities. In 1803, a short time after Henry Howley’s arrest, and the death of Hanlon, who was shot by him, while the soldier’s were bringing Hanlon’s body on a door, through a street in the Liberty, my wife was passing, with her youngest child in her arms, having under her cloak, a blunderbuss and a case of pistols, which she was taking to the house of Denis Lambert Redmond, who suffered afterwards. She stepped into a shop, and when the crowd had passed, she went on, and executed her orders. On another occasion, she was sent to a house in the Liberty, where a quantity of ball-cartridges had been lodged, to carry them away, to prevent ruin being brought on the house and its inhabitants. She went to the house, put them in a pillow-case, and emptied the contents into the canal, at that part of it which supplies the basin.
After having visited my family, I quitted Dublin, and settled down to work, at Rathar road, from Tullamore to Tyrrell’s-pass, in the county Westmeath, where I continued, until I received news of my wife’s illness, who had been worn out, by attending our youngest child, (who was ill of the small-pox). We then three children in Dublin, and one in the North. I worked in this place, about a year and a half, at my trade, and paid, with my earnings, the debt of a poor family, amounting to thirteen pounds. I returned to Dublin, and when the child recovered, I fell to work, at corduroy making, until compelled, by the vigilance of my pursuers, to fly once more, when I proceeded to the vicinity of Ratheath, in the County Meath, and remained there, till the times began to be settled.
From the period of the failure of this last effort, nothing remained for me, but to baffle the designs of the enemy against myself. I went about armed, for three years, determined never to be taken alive, avoiding all connection (with a few exceptions) with men above my own rank, still working for my bread, or on a journey, in search of work, or to see my family, who were then in Dublin. I went with a brace of loaded pistols in my breast, but I never discharged them, during all that time, at any human creature, although I had repeated opportunities, to have cut off Major Sirr, and many other enemies, singly, with the greatest safety to myself. I never felt myself justified in shedding blood, except in cases of attack, which it was my good fortune to evade.
In the summer of 1805, I stopped for a few weeks, and wrought with a farmer in the country, who took me aside one day, and said, ‘Do you know my landlord?
‘Who is he? ’ said I.
‘He is the Marquis of L—’ said he, ‘ and is one of ourselves, and wishes to see you, and I think he would give you some money, to help you and your family to America.’
‘I do not know him,’ said I, ‘and cannot conceive how he knows me.’
‘He was with Mr. Emmet, when Russell and you parted with him to go to the North,’ said he, — (I had seen two gentlemen, at Mr. Emmet’s, in Butterfield-lane, whom
I was informed, were, the then Lord W–, and the other, Mr. Fitzgerald, the brother of the Knight of Glyn); and he said, ‘He is afraid you will be taken.’
‘You may tell him,’ I replied, ‘ I will never be taken alive. Thank him for me, for his humane offer; but if I were inclined to prosecute him, I could not identify him, having only seen him by candle-light, and cannot remember one word that ever I heard him say. You may tell him, I will never have any connection with any man, of his rank, and would not give up the protection I have, for the king’s. I am in charge of a higher power than that of man.’
At the death of Pitt, the system underwent a change. The Castle spies were discharged, and the state prisoners set at liberty. My wife sent in a memorial to the Duke of Bedford, in her own name, acknowledging that I had fought on the side of the people, and had been driven, like thousands of others, unwillingly, to do so. She was given to understand, I would be permitted to take my chance with the civil laws, and an assurance was given to her, by the secretary, that no information, on oath, had been laid against me, at the Castle, but merely insinuations against me, and suspicions had been communicated, by the gentlemen in Belfast.
Fleming, one of the witnesses against Robert Emmet, by whom I had sent arms and ammunition, into the Depot, in Thomas-street, much as he had been questioned, and tampered with, had never mentioned my name, either on the trial, or in his sworn informations. I resolved to return home, and brave my secret enemies to their face, to call on them for employment, or their interest to procure it. Many made fair promises, which (like their former oaths) they never fulfilled. I was, at length, employed by Mr William Tucker, an Englishman, who, although a true friend to human liberty, had never been concerned in any of our associations. I served him for nine years, the latter five of which, was at his factory, at Glenford, near Larne ; and, on leaving his employment, I returned to Belfast, where I now remain.
Could I have kept a journal, with dates, materials would not have been wanting, for a narrative of some value; but that, being impossible, I have only given detached recollections, as they occurred to me, at various times, of the most remarkable of the events, in which I was an humble actor. The power that has, through life, preserved me, is doing the work, to which my poor efforts were directed. It is farther in advance, than I expected to live to see it. It is past the power of human resistance to prostrate it. Its progress is employing every intelligent Irish mind. Every step throws fresh fight on the subject, that engages it, whether of success or defeat. The mind of the nation lives and grows in vigour. Its object is still before it; and as one of its promoters sinks into the grave, another is still forthcoming. Even self-interest, that was so strong against the nation’s interest, is coming round to the latter. Hope for success, under all circumstances — have your heart. You may five to see Ireland what she ought to be; but, whether or not, let us die in this faith.