My friends and fellow-countrymen, — In the thirty-first year of my life I have been sentenced to die upon the gallows, and this sentence has been in pursuance of a verdict by twelve men who should have been indifferently and impartially chosen. How far they have been so, I leave to that country from which they have been chosen to determine; and how far they have discharged their duty, I leave to their God and to themselves. They have, in pronouncing their verdict, thought proper to recommend me as an object of humane mercy. In return, I pray to God, if they have erred, to have mercy upon them. The judge who condemned me humanely shed tears in uttering my sentence. But whether he did wisely in so highly commending the wretched informer who swore away my life, I leave to his own cool reflection, solemnly assuring him and all the world, with my dying breath, that that informer was foresworn.
The law under which I suffer is surely a severe one— may the makers and promoters of it be justified in the integrity of their motives, and the purity of their own lives! By that law I am stamped a felon, but my heart disdains the imputation.
My comfortable lot, and industrious course of life, best refute the charge of being an adventurer for plunder; but if to have loved my country—to have known its wrongs —to have felt the injuries of the persecuted and to have united with them and all other religious persuasions in the most orderly and least sanguinary means of procuring redress – if those be felonies, I am a felon, but not otherwise. Had my counsel (for whose honourable exertions I am indebted) prevailed in their motions to have me tried for high treason, rather than under the Insurrection Law, I should have been entitled to a full defence, and my actions would have been better vindicated; but that was refused, and I must now submit to what has passed.
To the generous protection of my country I leave a beloved wife, who has been constant and true to me, and whose grief for my fate has already nearly occasioned her death. I have five living children, who have been my delight. May they love their country as I have done, and die for it if needful.
Lastly, a false and ungenerous publication having appeared in a newspaper, stating certain alleged confessions of guilt on my part, and thus striking at my reputation, which is dearer to me than life, I take this solemn method of contradicting the calumny. I was applied to by the High-Sheriff to make a confession of guilt, and by the Rev. William Bristow, sovereign of Belfast, who used entreaties to that effect: this I peremptorily refused. If I thought myself guilty, I would freely confess it; but, on the contrary, I glory in my innocence.
I trust that all my virtuous countrymen will bear me in their kind remembrance, and continue true and faithful to each other, as I have been to all of them. With this last wish of my heart nothing doubting of the success of that cause for which I suffer, and hoping for God’s merciful forgiveness of such offences as my frail nature may have at any time betrayed me into, I die in peace and charity with all mankind.