Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

this period, as to give countenance to Fitzgerald's ireful disposition and quarrelsome habits.

His country neighbours (that is, the gentlemen in the vicinity of Dublin, where he rented a house and grounds) avoided coming in contact with him, as much as Irish hospitality would permit. Many of them certainly invited him to their houses ; but being obliged to be obsequious, and to be on the qui vive in removing impressions of fancied offence, his company was generally very irksome. One of them, however, a retired officer, named Boulton, would on no account invite him to his mansion, or associate with him in any way ; even Fitzgerald's invitations to his own house were declined on the plea of indisposition, &c. Our hero was anxious to pick a quarrel ; but he was puzzled how to begin : at length, his invention, always fertile in mischief, suggested the idea of going upon the Captain's grounds, to shoot without leave.

Accordingly, he set out for Brackenstown, attended by his servant ; entered the preserve, and commenced killing the game in grand style. The steward soon came up to them and commenced a remonstrative oration ; but Fitzgerald immediately put him to flight, by presenting his gun at his head ; and the poor fellow escaped only by a miracle, for the ball whizzed by his ear as he was in the act of darting through the hedge. He of course ran for his life, and Fitzgerald followed at a rapid pace, with the other gun, which his servant had just loaded, intending to have despatched him. The man, however, at length found shelter in the mansion; and Fitzgerald determined to wreak his vengeance on the lord of the manor. Coming up the lawn, he commenced a yolley of abuse on Captain

Boulton, calling on him to come out and give satisfaction for the affront offered by his bailiff : but the Captain not choosing to obey so uncourteous a summons, Fitzgerald fired his piece in at the parlour bowwindow ! The owner of the mansion still not appearing, this ruffianly conduct was continued as fast as the servant could load and the master discharge the guns, and until the whole of the ammunition was expended; by which time, there was not a whole pane of glass in the house !

From such audacious inroads on the peace and comforts of civilized life, the neighbouring gentry were at length relieved, by a report which went abroad, that “ Fitzgerald had in a fit of passion killed his own gardener, and buried the body somewhere in the grounds." No real proof, certainly, ever came to light which could warrant this allegation in its fullest extent; but true it is that the gardener disappeared after a quarrel with his master, and was never afterwards heard of. The report was farther borne out by the departure soon afterwards of Fitzgerald to his hereditary domain, afraid, no doubt, of the strong arm of the law :-and glad enough were the Dublin gentry that he was gone!

We have now to follow him to his strong-hold, and throughout the remaining short stage of his existence. Tim. Brecknock still stuck close to his fortunes, and was in fact the evil star which led him to his fateand Fitzgerald did not require much prompting to gratify his desire for revenge upon his enemies. A Mr. Macdonnel, an attorney, and sub-sheriff of the county, had, it seems, incurred his high displeasure by interesting himself in the disputes between him and his father ; in fact, old Mr. Fitzgerald had em

ployed him as his solicitor in the several disputes with his son. Mr. Macdonnel was now marked out for vengeance ; and as he was passing Rockfield one night, between nine and ten o'clock, Fitzgerald, with five or six of his gang, waylaid him, fired upon him, and wounded him severely. For this atrocious attempt at assassination he took his trial at the assizes, and, strange to say, was acquitted!

Emboldened by so many escapes, his audacity knew no bounds ; for he conceived that the civil authorities were afraid to lay hold of him, or a jury to convict him. An advertisement having appeared, by which Mr. Macdonnel and a numerous body of gentlemen at Castlebar offered a large reward for the discovery of the assassins who had made the above attempt at murder, Fitzgerald was exceeding wroth that, after his acquittal, Macdonnel should presume to make more stir in the matter, and therefore resolved to make

finish of the work which he had begun. In the mean time, poor Macdonnel, whose two arms had been broken by musket-balls on the former occasion, had taken refuge at the house of a Mr. Martin ; for he was still afraid of his lawless persecutor, more particularly since his acquittal. A few days after the wounded man had got into his hiding-place, and as two of his friends, Messrs. Gallaghan and Hypson, had just called to inquire after his health, the house was surrounded by a large party of armed men, who, breaking in, bound Mr. Macdonnel and his two friends with cords, and carried them off to Rockfield !

After remaining in Fitzgerald's house for a short time, during which they were treated with every kind of insult and ignominy,—their captor applying to

a

them, and especially to Macdonnel, every vile epithet which he could think of the unfortunate victims were led out by a body of armed men into the park.

Mr. Hypson, still bound, being placed against a tree, half-a-dozen of the villains fired a volley and laid him dead on the spot ! Macdonnel and Gallaghan were now ordered to walk a little farther, to the bridge of Kilnecarra, a distance of about sixty yards, when the murderers prepared to complete their bloody work. Poor Macdonnel pointed to his former wounds, and earnestly implored his executioners to spare his life ; but in vain ! He then held down his head, when upwards of fifty slugs passed through his hat and lodged in his head and body: he instantly fell dead! Mr. Gallaghan also received several slugs; but these not being immediately fatal, he was, for some unknown reason, carried back to Fitzgerald's house.

The murderous party had not returned above a few minutes, when Rockfield house was surrounded, in its turn, by the whole of the military, foot and horse, who were quartered at Castlebar ; and these were accompanied by the Volunteers of the district, and by immense crowds of people of all ranks. An entrance, after some parley, having been forcibly effected, the soldiers entered the house and delivered Mr. Gallaghan at the very instant that the desperadoes were going to give him the coup de grace ; for, as they expected no mercy, they were determined to give none. Several of them were now seized, among whom was Fitzgerald himself, who, after a long and strict search, was discovered locked up in a large chest and covered over with a couple of blankets ! This redoubted hero, with as many of his accomplices as were

caught that night, were immediately conducted to the gaol of Castlebar.

The succeeding events of this night partook of the same romance and horror which had characterized Fitzgerald's career all along : on this occasion, however, he was a passive performer.

No sooner were the desperadoes, to the number of twenty-six, safely lodged in prison, than popular resentment rose against them to a pitch of madness, unparalleled in almost any other country. This was excited by Fitzgerald's long course of impunity ; for the higher and middle ranks, the former especially, saw that if he were once more at large, there would be no bounds to his ferocity.-Like the inhabitants of an Indian village, who, when they discover that the sanguinary tiger who had for some time infested the vicinity, to the great detriment of their cattle and population, has at length taken up his abode in a jungle,-they rushed upon him, pell-mell, to deprive him of the power of doing farther mischief.

In the middle of the night they broke open the door of the gaol, knocked down the new sub-sheriff, the gaoler, and the sentinels ; and whilst the main body of the assailants remained below, six gentlemen entered Fitzgerald's apartment, and fired upon him as they would on a mad dog. Of five shots, one took effect in his thigh. They then attacked him with swords, and, having disabled his right arm, got him down upon the floor, where one of them battered his head, in so shocking a manner, with a brass candlestick, as to leave him for dead. At this critical moment, a fresh body of troops arrived, and prevented the assailants from taking the farther execution of the

VOL. I.

« AnteriorContinuar »