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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Kilwarden died soon after he had received his wound


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to have depended very much

upon the simultaneous action of a great number of persons in a great number of different places, and the history of every secret revolutionary movement tells us of the almost insuperable difficulty there is in getting all the actors of such a drama to appear upon the stage at the same moment and at the right moment. Emmet's plan broke down, and it ended not even in a general rising of the nationalists of Dublin, but in a mere street riot, the most sad and shocking event in which was the murder of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden. While Emmet, in another part of the city, was vainly striving to retrieve the disorder into which the excesses of some of his followers had broken up the plan of attack, Lord Kilwarden's carriage was stopped by a body of undisciplined and infuriated rioters, and one man thrust a pike into Kilwarden's body. Emmet himself came too late upon the scene to rescue the Chief Justice, and from that moment he gave up all hope of anything like orderly action on the part of the insurgents, and indeed his whole effort was to get his followers to disperse and to stop any rising in the adjacent counties. Kilwarden died soon after he had received his wound, but not before he had uttered the noble injunction that no man should suffer for his death without full and lawful trial. Seldom has even the assassin's hand stricken a worse blow than that which killed Lord Kilwarden. In an age when corrupt judges and partial judges were not uncommon, Kilwarden was upright,
honorable and just. The fiercest nationalist of the day lamented his death. He had again and again stood before the Crown officials and interposed the shield of law between them and the victims whom they strove by any process to bring to death. Emmet made his way into Wicklow with {329} the main purpose of stopping the intended outbreak of insurrection there, as he saw now that no such attempts could, under the conditions, end in anything but useless bloodshed. His friends urged him to make his escape to France, and he might easily have escaped but that he went back to Dublin with the hope of seeing once again Sarah Curran, the youngest daughter of the great advocate, with whom he was devotedly in love. He was recognized, arrested, and sent to trial before Lord Norbury, a judge who bore a very different sort of reputation from that which honored Lord Kilwarden. Emmet made a brilliant and touching speech, not in defence of himself against the charge of trying to create a rebellion, for he avowed his purpose and glorified it, but in vindication of his cause and in utter denial of the accusation commonly brought against him that he intended to make his country the subject of France. [Sidenote: 1803--The execution of Robert Emmet] He was found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed on the morning after his trial. Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, who was a college friend of Emmet's, has embalmed his memory in three beautiful songs, "She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps," she being of course Sarah Curran, to whom Emmet addressed his last written words; "Oh, breathe not his name," and "When he who adores thee," an appeal to Ireland to remember him who had at least "the pride of thus dying for thee." Washington Irving, the American author, devoted a touching essay, called "The Broken Heart," to the story of Robert Emmet and his blighted passion. The lovers of romance may be somewhat disconcerted to hear that Sarah Curran married after her young hero's death; but she remained single many years, and there is no reason to suppose that she ever forgot or disclaimed her affection for Robert Emmet. Wolfe Tone's wife married again some sixteen years after the husband of her youth had passed away. Her grave is to be seen in a cemetery close to Washington, in the United States, the land in which Wolfe Tone's widow passed all the later years of her life.


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