" Receive her as my wife, love her as a sister," he implored his brother. But this request remained unanswered, for that letter never reached its destination. The Government was merciless, and even withheld from Sarah her lover's last message to her.
As his coach was being drawn to the place of execution, amid crowds of eager spectators, Emmet watched eagerly till he met an un-mistabably sympathetic glance, then he threw out his farewell letter.
The man picked it up, and would undoubtedly have taken it to Miss Curran, but he was observed by those in authority. One would suppose that the dying letter of a lover could not have done much harm to the Government if it had reached the only eyes for which it was meant. This did not appear to strike the authorities, and Miss Curran never received her letter. It was read by various gentlemen, who all pronounced it extremely touching, and left the matter at that.
Emmet died, as Mr. Curran's youngest son admits, with unostentatious fortitude, but all these things were mercifully hidden from Sarah Curran till long afterwards. When she recovered she found her father absolutely set in his determination to have nothing more to do with her. He banished her from his house, and she went to some very kind Quaker friends. There she did her best to be cheerful; she allowed them to take her about in society ; she never made a business of her sorrow, but it was obvious to all who saw her that the really living part of her had gone beyond her keeping. She had a lovely voice; and one day, during a party, she wandered away and was found sitting on the stairs, singing to herself an old Irish melody so exquisitely that all those who heard her were moved to tears.
Poor girl ! Her life was full of shadows. She had no tender memories of a last parting either from her father or her lover which to cherish. Everything seemed cruel and dark ; she had only ruins to look back upon, and even the memory of him she loved had been obliterated so far as might be. She had no letter, no token to keep his memory green, but only the knowledge that he lay somewhere in a dishonoured grave ; even his place of burial was kept secret.
But still, perhaps for her lover's sake, she kept a brave face before the world ; no one was allowed to share the secret of her heart.
And then eventually a young Englishman, a Captain Sturgeon, in the Royal Engineers, found her in her lonely misery. Her loveliness, her sorrow, and the romantic circumstances connected with her, all attracted him. He fell madly in love, and begged her to marry him, but she told him that her heart was still Emmet's, and always would be, and that she could never form any other tie.
This did not deter him ; it rather increased his admiration. For two years he persisted in his suit. At the end of that time he dashed into the house one day and said that in four days he was under orders to go to England, and thence to foreign service. He had come to make one last attempt to obtain her for his wife. He was young, honourable, charming, well born, rich ; in every way an ideal husband.
Her friends with one accord urged her to marry him. She was a penniless girl in the house of those friends; she liked young Sturgeon, and he was begging not for her love, but for her esteem and trust. She was really taken by surprise by the hurry of it all. At any rate, she became his wife in three days.
It must have been a dismal wedding. She drove to the church with her four bridesmaids, one of whom said afterwards that she did not know who cried most. She made Sturgeon a good and gentle wife, but happiness had never been for her since the day the soldiers rushed into her bedroom at home. Since then, with all her efforts to be cheerful, she had been gradually fading away, and even the change to Malta and Sicily did her no good. In three years she was dead. Her last request was that she might be buried with the little twin sister under the tree at Rathfarnham. Her father's reply was that he was not going to have his lawn turned into a burial ground!
So ended one of the saddest romances of real life in modern times, a story in which every human emotion is, as it were, centred and fused into the light of the love which bound together Emmet and Sarah Curran. If it is pitiful in some ways, it is noble in others. It has earned for Emmet more immortality than all his plans for Ireland, for all the world loves a lover. Thomas Moore was not a great poet, but he rendered a fitting tribute to these two when he fitted, to one of the most exquisite and plaintive melodies of those in which Emmet and Sarah Curran had delighted, the words which will always help to keep their memory green :
A Splendid Tribute
"She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps, And lovers around her are sighing, But coldly she turns from their gaze and weeps, For her heart in his grave is lying.
"She sings the wild songs of her dear native plains, Every note which he loved awaking, But little they think who delight in her strains That the heart of the minstrel is breaking.
"He had lived for his love, for his country he died ;
They were all that to life had entwined him; Nor soon will the tears of his country be dried,
Nor long will his love stay behind him."