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LIFE OF ROBERT EMMETT.
Birth-Parentage-Thomas Addis Emmett-Early Educa
tion-In College-In France-His efforts for Liberty.
THE patriotic heart in every land thrills at the mention of a name which has become illustrious for self-sacrificing devotion to his country-a man who voluntarily laid down his life for the amelioration of the condition of his down-trodden countrymen. History furnishes few such instances of true patriotism as that of ROBERT EMMETT. It finds a parallel only in the life of Moses—who gave up all worldly prospects of honor for his oppressed fellows-choosing to suffer a season with them and endeavor to liberate them from bondage, rather than be exalted to Egypt's highest honors. Very similar was the patriotism of Emmett. From his superior mind and many accomplishments, there is no doubt but he could have attained great eminence among the men of his day; but he
sacrificed this hope, and even his life, for his oppressed and beloved country. What patriot, then, will not delight to do him honor, and go with us, while we recite a few passages in his eventful life?
ROBERT EMMETT was born in the city of Dablin, during the year 1782.* His father, Dr. Emmett, was for many years state physician in Dublin. Thomas Addis Emmett, his brother, came to America, and was for several years a member of the New York bar, in which he practised with distinguished success. He had abandoned, before the rebellion of 1798, a respectable situation at the Irish bar, in order to project and carry into execution, the schemes of that day for an Irish republic, and was consequently, with Dr. McNain and several other patriots, deported to America. He had one other brother, Temple, of whom his father once asked: “Well, Temple, what would you do for your country ? Addis would kill his sister for his country! Would you kill your brother? would you kill me?”. Little, alas ! did that unhappy father foresee the consequences of the lesson he was inculcating !
* We have been unable to learn the exact day of the year.Com
and little did Mr. CURRAN dream, when he ridiculed “this morning draught” of the doctor's, how mournfully it was one day to affect himself.
Of this family, Temple the eldest, passed through the University with such success that it is said his examiners changed, in his case, the usual approbation of valde bene into the more laudable one of “O, quam bene!" His rise at the Irish bar was unexampled, and at the early age of thirty, with a reputation to which time could not have added, he was called away from the scenes of this life to the realities of the unknown world.
The second brother, THOMAS Addis, to whom we have before briefly alluded, was a man of great and comprehensive mind; of the warmest and sincerest affection for his friends; and of a firm and steady adherence to his principles ; to which he sacrificed much, and would, if it had been necessary, have sacrificed his life. He was originally intended for a physician, and liad actually graduated at Edinburgh, when the premature death of TEMPLE changed his course, and by the advice of his fellow student, Sir James MACINTOSH, he relinquished medicine for the law. Had he confined him
self to his profession, there could have been no doubt, from the eminence to which he soon attained, of his ultimately realizing every object of his ambition. As we before noticed, he became entangled so much with the politics of the day, that, with the consent of the Government, he was self-expatriated. It does not appear that he committed any indictable offence, but he was a member of the Executive Directory, and had so embarked his enthusiasm and his talents in the cause, that retract he could not, and to proceed was death. He left his native land for America, yet his memory was still fresh there. PETER BURROWES, his friend and correspondent, (in the teeth of an act of Parliament) used to revel in the recollection of him. The following anecdote, which he frequently repeated, and with great effect, vividly exhibits the intrepidity of the man. A malcontent had been convicted of taking the United Irishman’s oath, which, as a curiosity, is here inserted :
"I, A B, in the presence of God, do pledge myself to my country, that I will use all
my abilities and influence in the attainment of an adequate and impartial representation of the Irish nation in Parliament; and as a means of
absolute and immediate necessity in the attainment of this chief good of Ireland, I will endeavor, as much as lies in my power, to forward a brotherhood of affection, an identity of interests, a communion of rights, and a union of power, among Irishmen of all religious persuasions, without which every reform in Parliament must be partial, not rational, inadequate to the wants, delusive to the wishes, and iusufficient for the freedom and happiness of this country.”
EMMETT, on motion for arrest of judgment, after exhausting his learning and ingenuity, astonished his hearers with this startling announcement:?" And now, my lords, here, in the presence of the legal court, this "crowded auditory~in the presence of the Being that witnesses and directs this judicial tribunaleven here, my lords, I, THOMAS ADDIS EMMETT, declare-I take the oath!” And while bar, bench, and auditory "held their breath," he kissed the book ! All men seemed literally so stunned by this daring and hazardous experiment, that it passed unreprehended. However, that the offence was indictable, was placed beyond doubt, for the court sustained the judgment.