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Ladyship’s account is evidently derived from that put forward by her father in his defence.
Though at the risk of being somewhat prolix, it seems best, in a matter of this kind, to give the several statements which seem deserving of attention separately.
Lady Blessington, in speaking to me of this catastrophe, said:
“ On one occasion (when her father went out scouring the country for suspected rebels), he took his son Michael with him. After riding along the road for some time, he informed his son, he was going to apprehend a very desperate fellow in the neighbourhood; whom none of the constables dare lay bands on. Michael Power, whose principles were altogether opposed to the father's, was reluctant to go on this mission, but dared not refuse. The father, approaching the cabin of a suspected peasant, saw a person at work in an adjoining field. Mr. Power galloped into the field, attended by his son and a servant, and levelling a pistol at the man's head, called on him to surrender (but exhibited no warrant for his apprehension). The man (a tenant of Mr. Bagwell) flung a stone at his assailant, whereupon Mr. Power, taking deliberate aim, mortally wounded the man in the body. This was not sufficient; he placed the wounded man on horseback behind his servant, had him bound to the servant, and thus conveyed him to town, and in the first instance to his own place of abode, and then to gaol.”
Lady Blessington added, that “she remembered with horror the sight of the wounded man mounted behind the servant, as the party entered the stable-yard of her father's house; pale and ghastly, his head sunk on his breast, his strength apparently exhausted, his clothes steeped with blood, when in this condition he was brought into the court yard bound to the servant. The horror of this deed never left the mind of Michael Power ; it haunted him during his short career-he
died at an early age in St. Lucia, one of the most nobleminded and tender-hearted of human beings. Such was the influence of his amiable character over the unfortunate wounded man, that when he was dying, he besought his family to take no steps against Mr. Power; and this was solely in consideration of the humanity exhibited by the son. The man died, and Bagwell, from animosity to her father, on account of his alliance with the Donoughmore interest, persuaded the family to prosecute Mr. Power. Proceedings were commenced against him, but the grand jury threw out the bills. A second bill was sent up subsequently, and found; but Power fled to England, and returned in time to take his trial for murder. He was acquitted, but the judge, even in those unhappy times (it was in 1807 the act was committed), thought this was going a little too far with the system of terror; he reprobated the conduct of Power, and had his name expunged from the magistracy.”
Alderman H- of Clonmel, adverting to this act, observes, that Mr. Power was what was called an “ active magistrate," and when patrolling the country, he shot a young man named Lonnergan, the son of a widow, a peasant. This poor fellow Power called a rebel, and had his dead body brought into town and hung out of a window of the old courthouse, or, as the place was called long subsequently, the main guard.”
* In “ The Dublin Evening Post," 230 September, 1806, we find he following account of a duel between Michael Power, Esq., and Lieutenant (now Colonel) Kettlewell :
“ On the 19th September, 1806, a duel was fought near Two Mile Bridge, in the vicinity of Clonmel, between a Lieutenant Kettlewell (now Colonel Kettlewell), and Michael Power, Esq., the eldest son of Edmond Power ; when, after the discharge of two shots each, the affair was amicably settled by the interference of the seconds. Captain Armstrong, of the Artillery, was friend to Lieutenant Kettlewell; and Mr. O'Connell, of Clonmel, was the second of Mr. Power.”
This gentleman adds, “ There the body was first seen by his mother after the boy's death ; and after she had gazed on the body for a few instants, she knelt down and cursed her son's murderer.”
A lady, upon whose accuracy every dependence can be placed, Mrs. R--, a native of Tipperary (and nearly connected by marriage with Mr. J. O'C--), who remembered Lady Blessington when a child, (her father and Mr. Power being near neighbours,) states that Mr. Power sought to obtain local influence and distinction, by hunting down the peasantry at the head of a troop of mounted yeomanry, succeeded in being made a magistrate, and was in the habit of scouring the country for suspected parties around his residence.
At a period when martial law was in full force throughout the country, Mr. Power, in one of those scouring expeditions in his district, saw a young lad as he was going along the road, with a pitchfork in his hand, the son of an old widow woman, living on the property of Colonel Bagwell. Mr. Power, on seeing the lad, at once decided that he was a rebel, and his pitchfork was an evidence of treasonable intentions. The sight of the well-known terrorist and his troopers was sufficient to put the lad to flight-he ran into a field. Mr. Power fired at him as he was running; the shot took effect, and death shortly afterwards was the result. Mrs. Rstates, the widow and her son were very quiet, harmless, honest, well-disposed people, much liked in the neighbourhood. The lad having broken the prong of his fork, was proceeding to the smith's forge, in the evening of the day referred to, to get it mended, when he had the misfortune to fall in with Mr. Power, at an angle of a road, and was shot by him. Before the poor lad had left the cabin, his mother subsequently stated, that she had said to him, “ Joe, dear, it's too late to go, maybe Mr. Power and the yeomen are out.” The lad said, “Never mind, mother, I'll only leave the fork and
come back immediately, you know I can't do without it to morrow.” The widow watched for her son all night long, in vain. He returned to her no more. She made fruitless inquiries at the smith's. She went into Clonmel in the morning, and there she learned her son had been shot by Mr Power.
The usual brutality of hanging up the mutilated body of a presumed traitor in front of the guard-house was gone through in this case.
The widow recognized the remains of her only child. Her piercing shrieks attracted attention. They soon ceased; some of the bystanders carried away the old creature, senseless and speechless. She had no one now of kith or kin living with her to help her, no one at home to mind her, and she was unable to mind herself. Mrs.R—-'s father, a humane, good-hearted man, took pity on the poor old forlorn creature; he had her brought to his own home, and she remained an inmate of it to the day of her death. The children of this good man have a rich inheritance in his memory to be proud of and thankful to God for. The old woman never wholly recovered the shock she had sustained ; she moped and pined away in a state of listless apathy, that merged eventually into a state of hypochondria, and in a paroxysm of despondency she attempted to put an end to her existence by cutting her throat.
Strange to say, although the windpipe was severed, and she lost a great deal of blood, the principal vessels being uninjured, with timely assistance, she partially recovered, and was restored, not only to tolerable bodily health, but to a comparatively sound state of mind also. She died after a year or two. Scarcely any one out of R-—'s house, with one exception, another son, living apart from her, cared for her, or spoke about her; nothing more was heard of her or hers; but the voice of her innocent son's blood went up to heaven.]
“ About this time,” says Miss Power, “ Anne, the eldest of the family, was attacked by a nervous fever, partly the result of the terror and anxiety into which the whole of the family were plunged by the misfortunes which gathered round them, aggravated by the frequent and terrible outbreaks of rage to which their father, always passionate, now became more than ever subject. In spite of every effort, this lovely child, whose affectionate disposition and endearing qualities entirely precluded any feeling of jealousy which the constant praises of her extreme beauty, to the disparagement of Marguerite, might have excited in the breast of the latter, fell a victim to the disease, and not long after, Edmond, the second son, also died.
“ These successive misfortunes so impaired the health and depressed the spirits of the mother, that the gloom continued to fall deeper and deeper over the house.
“ Thus matters continued for some years, though there were moments when the natural buoyancy of childhood caused the younger members of the family to find relief from the cloud of sorrow and anxiety that hung over their home. The love of society still entertained by their father, brought not unfrequent guests to his board, and enabled his children to mix with the families around. Among those who visited at his house, were some whose names have been honourably known to their country. Lord Hutchinson and his brothers, Curran, the brilliant and witty Lysaght, Generals Sir Robert Mac Farlane, and Sir Colquhoun Grant—then Lieutenant-Colonels, officers of various ranks, and other men of talent and merit, were among these visitors; and their society and conversation were the greatest delight of Marguerite, who, child as she was, was perfectly capable of understanding and appreciating their superiority.”
[Among those also, in 1804, who were intimately acquainted with the Powers, were Captain Henry Hardinge, of the 47th Regiment of Foot, Captain Archibald Campbell,