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rienced at quitting the place of her birth, was prophetic of the misfortunes which, one by one, followed the removal to Clonmel.
“ Her father, with recklessness too prevalent in his day, commenced a mode of living, and indulged in pleasures and hospitality, which his means, though amply sufficient to supply necessary expenses, were wholly inadequate to support.
“In an evil hour he was tempted by the representations of a certain nobleman, more anxious to promote his own interest and influence than scrupulous as to the consequences which might result to others, to accept the situation of magistrate for the counties of Tipperary and Waterford ; a position from which no pecuniary advantage was to be obtained, and which, in those times of trouble and terror, was fraught with difficulty and danger.
“ Led on by promises of a lucrative situation and hints at the probability of a baronetcy, as well as by his own fearless and reckless disposition, Mr. Power performed the painful and onerous duties of his situation with a zeal which procured for him the animosity of the friends and relatives in the remotest degree of those whom it was his fate, in the discharge of the duties of his office, to bring to punishment, and entirely precluded his giving the slightest attention to the business which had bid so fair to re-establish the fortunes of his family. His nights were spent in hunting down, with troops of Dragoons, the unfortunate and misguided rebels, whose connections, in turn, burned his store-houses, destroyed his plantations, and killed his cattle; while for all of these losses he was repaid by the most flattering encomiums from his noble friend, letters of thanks from the Secretary for Ireland, acknowledging his services, and by the most gratifying and marked attention at the Castle, when he visited Dublin.
“ He was too proud to remind the nobleman he believed to be his friend, of his often-repeated promises ; whilst the latter, only too glad not to be pressed for their performance, continued to lead on his dupe, and, instead of the valuable official appointment, &c. &c., proposed to him to set up a newspaper, in which his Lordship was to procure for him the publication of the government proclamations, a source of no inconsiderable profit. This journal was, of course, to advocate only his Lordship’s political views; so that by way of serving his friend, he found a cheap and easy method of furthering his own plans. The result may be guessed; Mr. Power, utterly unsuited in every respect to the conduct of such an undertaking, only became more and more deeply involved, and year by year added to his difficulties.”
(A school-fellow of one of the sons of Mr. Power, and well acquainted with the latter, informs me, " When Mr. Power came to Clonmel, he was about thirty years of age, a goodlooking man, of gentlemanly appearance and manners. He engaged in the business of a corn-merchant and butter buyer. * Subsequently he became proprietor of the Clonmel Gazette, or Munster Mercury. The editor of it was the well-known Bernard Wright. The politics of the paper were liberal —Catholic politics—Power was a Catholic, though not a very strict or observant one. The paper advocated the electioneering interests of the Landaff or Matthew family.
Bernard Wright was the guardian of my informant. He was a man of wit, a poet, and an accomplished gentleman. He had been educated for the church in France. He was the only member of his family who was a member of the Roman Catholic religion. He had to fly from Paris at the time of the French revolution. In the Irish rebellion of 1798, he was one of the victims of the savagery of Sir Thomas Judkin
* It has been stated, very erroneously, that Mr. Power kept an inn in Clonmel: and no less inaccurately has he been designated “an obscure tradesman" of that town.
Fitzgerald, and the only one of those victims who made that ferocious man pay for his inhumanity after 1798.
In January, 1844, when residing in Portugal, Mr. Jeremiah Meagher, a native of Clonmel, intimately acquainted with all the parties referred to in the preceding account, and the events of a later period in the career of Lady Blessington's father, informed me of many particulars relating to Wright, and also Mr. Edmond Power and his family, of much interest ; which account Lady Blessington subsequently confirmed when I visited her in London, and spoke of her early friend, the Vice-Consul, in the warmest terms of affectionate regard.
Mr. Meagher, in reference to Bernard Wright, said : " He used to furnish articles of a literary kind for Power's paper, and assisted in the management, but he had no political opinions of any kind. Of that fact he, Mr. Meagher, was quite certain.”
The newspaper concern was a ruinous affair to Mr. Power. Mr. Meagher says, “ It was badly conducted, Mr. Power was a very illiterate man, of no business habits, of no fixed principles.”
Lady Blessington informed me, that " Her father's pursuits in carrying out the views of his patron, Lord Donoughmore, caused him to neglect his business. His affairs became deranged. To retrieve them, he entered into partnership, in a general mercantile way, with Messrs. Hunt and O'Brien, of Waterford. He expended a great deal of money there, in building stores and warehouses. Those buildings, however, were burned by the people (it was imagined), in revenge for the cruelties he had practised on them.
“ His violence," continued her Ladyship, “ which had formerly been of a political kind only, now became a sort of constitutional irascibility, his temper more and more irritable, his habits irregular and disorderly; he was eventually a terror to his wife and children. He treated his wife with brutality, he upbraided her frequently with her father's fate, and would often say to her, “What more could be expected from the daughter of a convicted rebel ?
“ His mercantile career was unfortunate, his partners got rid of him after many fruitless remonstrances. He had overdrawn the capital he had put into the house, by several thousand pounds. His next speculation was a newspaper, called the Clonmel Gazette, which was set up by him at the instance of Lord Donoughmore, for the support of his Lordship's electioneering interests in the county, and of his political opinions. Bernard Wright, the person who was flogged, in 1798, by Sir John Judkin Fitzgerald, for having a French letter in his pocket, was for some time the manager and editor of that paper. The paper was at length prosecuted for a libel written by Lord Donoughmore. But his Lordship left her father to bear the brunt of the action, and to pay the expense of the suit and the damages. The paper then went to ruin. Mr. Power for some years previously had given himself up to dissipation, and his affairs had become involved in difficulties, even before the period of his setting up the paper, so much so, that she (Lady Blessington) and her sister Ellen, while at school, had often felt the humiliation of being debarred from learning certain kinds of work, tambour embroidery, &c., on account of the irregularity of the payment of their school charges."
Mr. Power was a fair, though not a very favourable specimen of the Irish country gentleman of some sixty years ago ; fond of dogs, horses, wine, and revelry, and very improvident and inattentive to all affairs of business. He was a good-looking man, of a lively, thoughtless aspect, showy in his appearance, and with something of an aristocratic air ; very demonstative of frills and ruffles, much given to white cravats, and the wearing of leather breeches and top boots. He was known to the Tipperary bloods as “ a Buck," as “ Shiver the
,” “ Beau Power,” and other appellations complimentary to his sporting character, rollicking disposition, and remarkable costume.
When the times were out of joint, and preparations were making for rebellion, in the latter part of 1797, Mr. Power was one of those Catholic gentlemen who had been “overtaken with vehement suspicion of sundry misprisions of treason.” He certainly was supposed to have sympathy with the disaffected, and to be no stranger to their counsels. But a sudden and a happy change came over the spirit of his political opinions. For some years succeeding the disastrous epoch of 1798, Mr. Power, having thrown himself into local politics, and becoming deeply engaged in public affairs, acquired the character of a terrorist, in the district that was the sphere of his magisterial duties. The hunting of suspected rebels, of persons thought to be disloyal in the late rebellion, even so long as eight and nine years after its complete suppression, became a favourite pursuit of Mr. Power. At length, the energy of his loyalty went beyond the law. In scouring the country in pursuit of suspected rebels, he made an attempt to arrest a young man whom he met on his route. The unfortunate man fled at the approach of the armed gentleman with his pistol levelled at hiin. Mr. Power shot the flying peasant, seized the wounded man, set him on a horse, and carried his dying prisoner first to his own house, and from thence to the gaol at Clonmel. The unfortunate man died. Mr. Power was tried for the murder, and acquitted.
The particulars of this frightful affair were given me in 1843, by Lady Blessington, and more recently by other parties, having a very intimate knowledge of the circumstances referred to.
The account given me by Lady Blessington in some respects differs from the others; but though it contradicts them in some minor details, it must be borne in mind, her