Emmet's Rising

Justin McCarthy
Chapter IX | Start of Chapter

In 1803 Robert Emmet, a younger brother of Thomas Addis Emmet, one of the leaders of the '98 movement who had escaped to America, sacrificed his fortune and his life in another rising in the cause of Ireland's independence. The attempt was crushed almost at its outset by military force. Robert Emmet was captured, condemned to death, and executed the morning after his conviction. The story of the brave and generous young man who threw away his life in this futile attempt has been made the subject of many poems and of more than one touching prose picture by Irish writers, and by others not Irish, and is likely to be long remembered. The tale of Emmet's love for the daughter of Curran has been told in every civilized language. The one event of the abortive rising which, apart from his own love and the disappointment of his patriotic hopes, most saddened young Emmet's closing days was the fact that Lord Kilwarden, the Irish Chief Justice, had been stopped in his carriage by a group of maddened insurgents in a Dublin street, one of whom, thrusting a pike into his body, gave him his death-blow. Emmet, who was leading the rising in another part of the city, rushed back on hearing that the Lord Chief Justice was in danger, but arrived on the fatal spot just too late to save him. This was the Lord Kilwarden who had manfully and nobly insisted on the due course of law being followed out in the case of Wolfe Tone. Kilwarden's last words were characteristic of him. With his latest breath he gave utterance to the injunction that no man should suffer for his death without full and lawful trial. The Act of Union had its noble victims on both sides of the struggle.