Lord Moira

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXVI

Attempts were now made to get assistance from France. Mr. O'Connor and Lord Edward FitzGerald proceeded thither for that purpose; but their mission was not productive of any great result. The people were goaded to madness by the cruelties which were committed on them every day; and it was in vain that persons above all suspicion of countenancing either rebels or Papists, protested against these enormities in the name of common humanity. In 1797 a part of Ulster was proclaimed by General Lalor, and Lord Moira described thus, in the English House of Lords, the sufferings of the unhappy people: "When a man was taken up on suspicion, he was put to the torture; nay, if he were merely accused of concealing the guilt of another, the punishment of picketing, which had for some years been abolished as too inhuman even in the dragoon service, was practised. I have known a man, in order to extort confession of a supposed crime, or of that of some of his neighbours, picketed until he actually fainted; picketed a second time, until he fainted again; picketed a third time, until he once more fainted; and all upon mere suspicion. Nor was this the only species of torture; many had been taken and hung up until they were half dead, and then threatened with a repetition of this cruel treatment unless they made confession of the imputed guilt. These," continued his Lordship, "were not particular acts of cruelty, exercised by men abusing the power committed to them, but they formed part of a system. They were notorious; and no person could say who would be the next victim of this oppression and cruelty." As redress was hopeless, and Parliament equally indifferent to cruelties and to remonstrances, Mr. Grattan and his colleagues left the Irish House to its inhumanity and its fate.