« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. Trench, to one who knew him and who loved him well. Her answer was :
6. The poor boy that's lying there before you, had a darin' heart, so he had, more than all the rest of them together; so they put him on for beginning the war, which the bloody cowards were afeared to face themselves. Oh Joe, my darlin' Joe!' cried she in an agony of grief, as she turned to the corpse again, it was yourself that had the kind and darin' heart, and now they've broke it on you by saying you were took a prisoner, when no one knows better than his honour here that the power of man could never take my darlin' Joe alive. It was the kind word that made him give in, and never the fear of mortal man.'
"He was buried the following day. She soon after left the country.
“ From the moment that MʻKey had appeared in my office, the feeling of that district changed, and the effect which I had anticipated followed. The people came in and paid their rents, or settled with me as best they could. Some went to America, some paid up by instalments; but the district over which Joe M-Key held sway, succumbed.” (pp. 183, 184.)
The contents of the book become, if possible, still more appalling and exciting, as we proceed to the chapters respectively headed, “ The Conspiracy,” “ The Murder," “ The Arrest,'' “ The Confession,” « The Prisoner,” and “The Execution.” The measures taken by Mr. Trench towards his own preservation from murder were of the most extraordinary character. Happily for himself, and counteracting, in a certain degree, the designs of his enemies, he had always some friends, generally secret and unknown, to give him information, more or less accurate and specific, regarding the quarters, the places, and the circumstances where his chief peril might be, and this afforded him some amount of security. Notwithstanding this, and fearless as he was, he was led to adopt the following stringent means for his own safety in the fulfilment of his duty. He states that “after the calmest reflection he had come to the conclusion that he had done nothing but his duty; that in offering emigration to America at the landlord's (Lord Bath's) expense, besides forgiveness of all arrears, and his full stock and crop, to every tenant and his family who could not pay his rent, he had done all, on the part of the landlord, which he could be expected to do.” “His health was good, his nerves firm; and hoping to be as watchful as his foes, he let it be clearly understood that he had entered the lists with the Ribbonmen, and would fight this matter out.” And truly he had to undergo, not a battle only, but a long and fierce campaign.
Accordingly, for above a year the author never went out unarmed, and that not only with the ordinary gun or revolver, but covered always with a panoply of weapons himself, and
never without two attendants, one of them being usually his own son, equally arrayed with all kinds of fire-arms. A blunderbuss, guns, revolvers, and pocket-pistols, were among the strange armament. But perhaps the most effective part of the whole precautions was the following :-He made it publicly known, by all possible means, that if either he himself, or one of his companions, was struck down or incapacitated by a shot, or in any other way, the two others were to leave the wounded man at once and pursue the assassins ! Surely there never was a course more dauntless and heroic, for even on the field of battle the wounded are carried to the rear; but in all this Mr. Trench counted rightly on the cowardice of the assassins, and their unwillingness to meet the immediate pursuit of two armed and resolute men. During this long period the author had frequently to cross a street between ten and eleven at night, and his custom was to warn any one who approached to come near him at his peril.
These measures seem to have preserved Mr. Trench's life; but in one instance it was only through the care and laudable intervention of the police, who, unknown to him, rode out for his protection, when returning home on horseback at night. A print of the scene is given—the three gentlemen on horseback, the police at some distance behind, and two assassins crouching under the stone wall, one of whom afterwards confessed to him “that their blood was up at the boys in Castleblayney being before them in having Bateson down, and Trench still upon the walk, and that they were determined to
chance their lives' and fire a volley on them as they came home that night. But just as they rode up, and they were preparing for the attack, they were joined by the mounted policemen within a very few hundred yards of the very spot where they were lying in wait. We reached (he writes) our homes in safety, and in perfect ignorance of the imminent danger which we had escaped.”
The chapter headed “The Conspiracy” is perhaps the most astounding and terrific in the whole book. It contains the account of a strange systematic trial of the author (not mock, but only too real) in a large barn belonging to one of the chief Ribbonmen's houses,“ situated on the estate" near Carrickmacross. The question discussed was, Whether Mr. Trench was to be murdered or not, and the verdict was brought in against him. A picture of the whole scene is given-of the President, being the tenant of the farm, of the jury, sixteen in number, and the two assassins, ready for their hideous work, sitting apart by themselves. The oath of secrecy is sworn, lights are burning, abundance of whiskey is on the table, and the trial proceeds.
ting thand acts present thing. Sed
Some words were spoken in Mr. Trench’s favour, but these were soon put to silence. The decision was, “He must die.” At the same meeting there was a long and strange conversation on the Land Question, and a discussion on many social and public subjectsin the various aspects presenting themselves to theassem. bled Ribbonmen. And the strangest thing of all is, that the whole transaction, and all the words which passed at it, were subsequently revealed to Mr. Trench by one who was himself present, and concerning whom Mr. Trench writes in a note:« I quite feel that I have by no means done justice to the graphic description given to me of this remarkable scene by --, when in his prison cell in Monaghan.” The name is given, but there is no need of its introduction here.
So little is said of the Church in this volume, that it may be well to extract that portion of the Ribbonmen's discussion, in which, among other topics, it was brought forward.
"Some say it's the Church that's crushing us.'
«•What harm does the Church to you or any one else ?' cried the President, in a passion.
“The gentlemen that owns it are quiet dacent men, and often good to the poor. It's the land, I say again, it's the land, we want. The Saxon robbers took it from our forefathers, and I say again we'll wrench it out of their heart's blood; and what better beginning could we have than to blow Trench to shivers off the walk ?
6. True for ye,' said another, so far as that goes ; but ye are wrong about the Church for all that. Sure isn't it what they call the dominan' Church, and what right has it to dominate over our own clargy, who are as good as them any day? Up wid our clargy and down with the dominan' Church! say I. Besides,' continued he more softly, 'maybe if we had once a hold of the Church lands, the landlords' lands would be 'asier come at after.'
"Why then that may be true too,' said the President; 'down with the Church, down with the landlords, down with the agents, down with every thing, say I, that stands in the way of our own green land coming back to us again.'” (pp. 191, 192.)
Mr. Trench received his warning, according to the verdict against him, and from that time he was considered a “doomed," or, as it was generally termed, a “dead man,” as it “was known that chosen men were under heavy pay to carry the threat into execution.” But God kept him in life, and blessed the means taken for its preservation.
Space will not admit any full attention to the very remarkable interview between the author and one who had absolutely undertaken to deprive him of his life, but had in vain watched for opportunities of so doing. Mr. Trench had with some difficulty obtained from the Lord Lieutenant a promise of pardon for the man, and of means for his security in a distant land, on the undertaking that he would declare all he knew
med, "wact the 'inted, on the
about the Ribbon conspiracy among his former associates. Very graphic is the narrative telling the contest between the man's desire of life on the one hand, and, on the other, of his dread and unwillingness to act the informer's part. At last, however, he exclaimed, “Well, may be I might as well tell it all out. Come to me to-morrow and you shall have all I know." The point seemed gained; and it was one of the utmost im. portance for the peace of the country, and towards the breaking up of the dire conspiracy around. But it was never obtained. Next morning the criminal had an interview with his priest. What passed between them is not told, nor does the author assume any special information as to that which took place. The result however was, that his purpose was changed. “Calm and unmoved, with a quiet placidity of countenance, as if all anxiety about his fate was gone,” he refused to tell any thing. The man was executed, and “his secret died with him."
Much information had, however, reached Mr. Trench as to some of the chief conspirators against him and the law in general, chiefly through a private interview with another condemned criminal; and the time had now arrived, when he thought he might make use of it.
Accordingly he took the step of sending for the very Ribbon man who had sat as President on the trial for his own life, already described. He came without hesitation to the Office, little aware that all his misdeeds were known. After a little preliminary conversation, Mr. Trench began to tell, step by step, and word for word, what took place in his own barn, and amidst his fellow-Ribbonmen. What ensued can scarcely be wondered at. “The man turned deadly pale, and stared at me with a fixed look of terror, speechless, and almost motionless.” Mr. Trench proceeded-gave him more details of the whole transaction, and quoted the very stories he had told “about shooting all tyrant landlords and agents."
“Suddenly,” says the author, “ as I was rapidly proceeding with my tale, my eye still fixed upon him, I saw his countenance assumea glazed look; he tottered for a moment, endeavouring to balance himself as he stood, but loosing all consciousness, his muscles relaxed, his whole frame quivered, and falling back against the wall, he dropped in a fainting fit upon the floor!
“My clerk ran to his assistance; but recovering himself quickly, he stared for a few moments wildly about him, and then sat down upon a chair which was near, to hear my final sentence.
"You see I know all about you,' said I, in a grave and altered tone. "You must not remain upon the estate ; if you give up possession of your farm, and leave the country whenever I require it, I will probably never bring up this matter against you. If you refuse to leave, you must take the consequences.'" (p. 288.)
at despormativlable.ced to
Many others of the worst and most desperate characters were dealt with in the same manner. Full information of their practices had been obtained, and was now made available. The tide seems to have turned. The guilty parties were reduced to a state of continual and appalling anxiety about their own lives and safety. Justice had been executed upon some; and others, who knew themselves not only guilty, and subject to the law in its sternest requirements, but also under the ban of information, were brought into terror for their own very lives. The effect (Mr. Trench writes) “was wonderful.” “The conspirators had been outwitted, worsted, and punished, and the remainder of the sympathisers gave up their losing game, and returned to industrial pursuits."...."Awholesome acknowledgment of the power of the law pervaded the mass of the population.”....“ Industry and activity took the place of apathy and indolence.” All seems to have prospered on the Bath estate since these events, now twelve years ago ; and, among other results, the author laid aside his arms, and speaks of them as things of which he had no further need.*
Thus ends the drama, if we may so call it, on the Monaghan estate. It is followed by another very beautiful narrative of two Irish lovers, somewhat akin to that of “ Mary Shea,” but with its own marked and distinctive features. It is less solemn, touching, and affecting, but not less full of interest in its own way. Mr. Trench was enabled to serve them effectually, and Irish character comes out, in the whole narrative, with telling success and effect. It is called “ Patsy M'Dermott." We are almost disposed to recommend that it, with the two other narratives of “Mary Shea” and “ Alice M‘Mahon,” might be separately published. They would provide a most attractive record of genuine Irish life, adapted for young readers; and, indeed, for many others, who might have no call or inclination to go through all the harrowing details which occupy so large a portion of the book.
In 1857, Mr. Trench undertook a new and most important agency, that of Lord Digby's property, near Tullamore, in the King's County. A brief examination of its nature and difficulties will bring our observations on these matters to a close. The chapter referring to this matter is the 20th, headed “Geashill Manor.”
The features and the character of his duties in this new
* Our readers will be glad to hear dustry, order, punctuality in the pay. that all has gone on well in the Barony ment of rents, and a desire for and tenof Farney, even up to the present time. dency towards improvement, are the In the last chapter of the book, dated general characteristics of the day." “Farney 1865–8," Mr. Trench writes : The chapter contains a most satis-“Ribbonism, so far as I know, has factory account of Lord Bath's recep. ceased to exist within its borders. In- tion on the estate in the year 1865.