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animadversion. Had some of those who had taken the trouble to write about that paragraph given themselves also the preliminary trouble of reading it, they would have seen that so far from originating any suspicion against Neilson, I but stated what was quite true, that such a suspicion existed, and then expressed my own opinion that there were no sufficient grounds for it.
“ To come, however, to what is, after all, my main object-truth, I can only say that if the friends of Mr. Neilson will, instead of thus arraigning me so angrily before the public, do me the favour to furnish me, through some private medium, with such authentic particulars of that brave but rash man's life as may not only account for the 'incoherencies' of conduct which I have noticed in him, but give me the power of tracing his whole active career, it shall not be my fault if full justice be not done to his memory, both in the Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald (should another edition be called for), and still more fully in that part of my History of Ireland in which the momentous period of 1798 will be included. “I am, Sir, your obliged Servant,
“ THOMAS MOORE." Moore did not bring the “History of Ireland” down far enough to have an opportunity of rendering justice to Neilson in that work, but in a later edition of the Life of Lord Edward, he erased the passage which gave offence, and expressed his regret that it wounded the feelings of the female relatives of Neilson, whom he describes as brave and true in his devotion to the cause for which his all was sacrificed.”
The following is Moore's
CHARACTER OF LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD. “Both of his mind and heart, indeed, simplicity may be said to have been the predominant feature, prevading all his tastes, habits of thinking, affections, and pursuits; and it was in this simplicity, and the singleness of purpose resulting from it, that the main strength of his manly character lay. Talents far more brilliant would, for want of the same clearness and concentration have afforded a far less efficient light. It is Lord Bacon, I believe, who remarks that the minds of some men resemble those ill-arranged mansions in which there are numerous small chambers, but no one spacious
With Lord Edward the very reverse was the case ; his mind being to the whole extent of its range thrown open, without either partitions or turnings; and a direct singleness, as well of power as of aim, being the actuating principle of his understanding and his will.
“It is evident that even a moderate portion of talents, thus earnestly and undividedly brought to bear, must be capable of effects far beyond the range even of the most splendid genius, when tempted, as it is too often, by the versatility of its own powers, to deviate into mere display, and so to lose sight of the end in the variety and prodigality of the means.
“Another quality of mind which, both in action and in the counsels connected with it, gave Lord Edward the advantage over men far beyond him in intellectual resources, was that disinterested and devoted courage, which, rendering self a mere cipher in his calculations, took from peril all power to influence his resolves, and left him free to pursue the right and the just, unembarrassed by a single regard to the consequences. Never, indeed, was the noble device of the ancient worthies of France • Fais ce que tu dois, advienne que pourra,' more genuinely exemplified than in his chivalrous character. How much self will there was mixed up in his disposition may be seen throughout the ordinary events of his life. • Make Ogilvie remember,' he says in one of his letters, how obstinate I am when once I take a resolution.' But, in him, the tendency of this sort of character to settle into obstinacy, was in a great degree counteracted, not only by the natural gentleness of his disposition, but by a spirit of candour, which, as we have seen attested by his friend Emmett, rendered him easily convincible by those on whose good sense and good intentions he had reliance. The same candour and gentleness of nature, however singular such a mixture may appear, continued to mingle with and influence his feelings, even throughout that part of his career when it must have been most difficult to keep them clear of intolerance and bitterness; nor in warring fiercely against principles which he thought ruinous and odious, did he entertain towards the persons professing them any of that rancorous spirit which is so rarely separable from the excitement of such a strife. As one who acted by his side throughout that conflict says of him, he was the most tolerant of men; he had no enmity to persons ;' and the same authority adds, in all the warmth of friendly portraiture, "I never saw in him, I will not say a vice, but a defect.' But while
thus a natural sweetness and generosity of temper counteracted in him those defects of obstinacy and intolerance to which a degree of self-will such as he possessed, almost always leads, the great efficacy also of this quality in giving decision to his character, was no less manifested by the perseverance with which, through all the disappointments and reverses of his cause, he continued, as we have seen, not only to stand by it firmly himself, but what—despondingly as he must often
have felt was far more trying, to set an example of confidence in its ultimate success for the encouragement of others. There was, it is true, in these very
failures and misfortunes a sufficient stimulus to a strong and generous mind, like his, to call forth all its energies. Of such spirits the reverses are the true whet stones, and as has been well remarked, 'None can feel themselves equal to the execution of a great design who have not once witnessed, with firmness and equanimity, its failure.'
“We have seen accordingly, how unshrinking was the patience, how unabated the cheerfulness with which he was able to persevere under the continued frustration of all his plans and wishes. The disappointment, time after time, of his hopes of foreign succour might, from the jealousy with which he regarded such aid, have been easily surmounted by him, had he but found a readiness, on the part of his colleagues, to second him in an appeal to native strength. But while the elements baffled all his projects from without, irresolution and timid counsels robbed him of his chosen moment of action within ; till, at last---confirmatory of all his own warnings as to the danger of delay-came that
treachery by which the whole conspiracy was virtually broken up, their designs all laid open, and himself left, a fugitive and a wanderer, to trust to the precarious fidelity of persons trembling for their own safety, and tempted by the successful perfidy of others, with hardly one of those colleagues remaining by his side on whose sagacity he could rely for help through his difficulties.
“Still, as we have seen, he persevered, not only firmly but cheerfully, conceiving his responsibility to the cause to be but increased by the defection or loss of its other defenders. After the appearance of the proclamation against him, some of his friends, seeing the imminent peril of his position, had provided some trusty boatmen, (like those through whose means Hamilton Rowan had escaped,) who undertook to convey him safely to the coast of France. But Lord Edward would not hear of it; his part was already taken.
“As son, friend, lover, husband, and father, Lord Edward may be said to have combined all that most adorns and endears such ties.
Amongst those traits of character which adorned him as a member of social life, there is one which is on every account far too important not to be brought prominently forward in any professed picture of him, and this was the strong and pure sense he entertained of religion. So much is it the custom of those who would bring discredit upon freedom of thought in politics, to represent it as connected invariably with lax opinions upon religion, that it is of no small importance to be able to refer to two such instances as Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Robert Emmett, in both of whom