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this policy had been acted upon the Irish government, as to prevent until it seemed to have become the any hope of success while the confundamental law ofthe kingdom, and nexion continued, they began while the efforts of the government to regard freedom as attainable had been directed rather to perpe. only through the medium of revo. tuate so much of this system lution. The short-lived adminis. as could be preserved, than to tration of Lord Fitz William, only reform it altogether, the pro. raised their expectations to blast gress of society in political sci. them the more cruelly ; and the deence and intelligence, brought the cided manner in which all move. Irish people into direct collision ments towards Catholic emancipa. with the British government. For tion were repressed, by extinguish. several years previous to the period ing all hope of constitutional relief, alluded to, they had shown symp- taught them that their sole chance toms of impatience at their galling of success was in an independent yoke, which should have warned government. England of the danger of persist. The societies of United Irishmon ing in her infatuated policy. But were accordingly revived, in 1795, the French revolution kindled a with increased strength, and the flame, which found in Ireland ma. leaders of the revolutionary move. terials too well prepared to extend ments began to enrol their names the sphere of its action. The doc. among their meinbers. These as. trines of freedom promulgated in sociations were organized on the that moment of enthusiasm, met footing of secret societies, and their with a ready response from thou. members were bound by the most sands of Irishmen, oppressed and sacred oaths to their obligations as degraded, but still sanguine and United Irishmen. Differences in enthusiastic. They saw in the re- point of religious faith were gradu. volutionary movements of France, ally forgotten, and they were soon a new ground of hope for Ireland, all united as one party in the cause and they determined to use the of their common country. favourable conjuncture, to effect, if These societies, however, by not the emancipation, at least some their constitution, could not com. melioration in the condition of their prehend more than thirty-six mem. country.
bers, and in order to bring them to With this view, in 1791, the as. act together, a system of represen. sociation of United Irishmen was tation by committees was instituted instituted, for the purpose of re. in an ascending order, from baro. moving the differences previously nial, county, provincial, to national existing between the Catholics and committees. This constitution was the Protestants, and of uniting all framed by a delegation from va. Irishmen, of whatever faith, into rious societies convened at Belfast one party, aiming to remove the May 10th, 1795. grievances of which the country The national committee consistso justly complained. Their ob. ed of five delegates from each pro. ject was at first the repeal of the vincial; the provincial, of three Catholic laws; but as they soon delegates from each county ; and found that the influence of the Bri- the county, of two delegates from tish cabinet was so powerful over each baronial committee, which
was formed by a similar delegation vide himself, as far as practicabic, from the various societies within with arms, and the necessary mu. the barony. Where the societies nitions of war. in the barony amounted to more A military committee was formthan eight, two or more baronial ed in 1798, to prepare a plan of committees were instituted, with operations, and measures were the view of preventing any one taken to procure aid from France. committee from becoming too nu. This aid, however, was to be chiefly merous. These committees were limited to arms and money. The elected by ballot, once in three number of troops asked for did not months, and the several subordinate exceed 10,000 men. The com. committees reported their proceed. mittee was induced to ask for this ings to the next highest committee, small number of troops, because, until the communication reached first, they did not wish to excite the national committee. At the any jealousy among their country. head of this organization, compre. men of foreign interference ; and, hending half a million of persons, secondly, they were unwilling to was an executive committee, of give to France too strong a footing which Mr. Emmet was a member, in Ireland. Their object was to and which was in effect a national render Ireland independent under government. Funds were raised a republican government; and by monthly subscriptions, and were though desirous of the aid of paid into a national treasury. As France, they sought it as from an the plan of organization was ma. ally, and not as from a protector. tured, it became more apparent With these views Mr. Emmet that force must be finally resorted joined the association of United to, and a military department was Irishmen in 1796, and his talents engrafted upon the civil depart. and character soon obtained him ment the latter part of the year a place in their chief executive 1796, and was mostly composed of committee. In taking this step he the same persons. In order to gave a most signal proof of his avoid giving alarm, the ordinary disinterested patriotism. His rank denominations were preserved. in society, and intellectual powers, The secretary of the primary so. would have secured to him the cieties was commonly the sergeant; highest stations, had he chosen to the delegate from five societies to join the court party. Fortunately a baronial committee, was the for his true fame, he determined captain, and the delegate to the otherwise, and directed all his en. next grade was a colonel. -- ergies to obtain for his country her These officers were elected, but political and religious rights. all of a higher rank were appoint. While in the executive, which ed by the executive. Adjutant was from January until May, 1797, generals were also appointed by and again from December until the executive, and through these March, 1798, Mr. Emmet was all military communications were most efficient in properly orga. held with the counties. The se. nizing the association. Before, veral societies were thus formed however, they were ready to de. into an organized military body, clare themselves openly, the go. and each man was directed to pro. vernment discovered their inten.
tions through the treachery of one promised no security. On the con. Thomas Reynolds, who had so far trary, from their arbitrary and des. obtained their confidence as to be potic character, they only tended to appointed a provincial delegate exasperate the spirit of disaffection. from Leinster, and a colonel of a Martial law was proclaimed, and regiment.
the people were sent in droves to In consequence of his disclo. the prisons, until they could contain sures immediate steps were taken no more. Prison ships were then to arrest the leaders, and on the employed, and many of the con. twelfth of March, Oliver Bond, and spirators were informally executed, twelve others, were taken into and many who were innocent were custody at Bond's house, and other put to death in a summary manner. distinguished friends of the revo. In this state of things, upon the lution were arrested at the same appointed day the explosion took time in other places. A procla. place. Deprived of their chosen mation was also issued, announc- leaders, the direction of the revo. ing the existence of the conspiracy, lutionary movements fell into the and the military authorities were hands of less competent men. authorized to employ the most After a short but sanguinary strug. summary measures to suppress it. gle, and some partial successes in Mr. Emmet of course was included the counties of Wexford and Wick. among the number arrested, and low, the insurgents were defeated, was thrown, with many others, in and entirely dispersed at the battle the prison of Kilmainham, in of Vinegar Hill, by the army under Dublin.
the command of General Lake, This arrest of the leaders, how. By the latter end of July the go, ever, did not prevent the general vernment had entirely succeeded rising, which took place on the in crushing the rebellion. Shortly 23d of May following, the day ap. after this a French army, about pointed for that purpose. As the 1200 strong, under General Hum, time approached, the dreadful notes bert, landed at Killala, on the of preparation were manifest in all north-west coast of Ireland, on the parts of the country. In the inte. 12th of August. It was, however, rior the peasantry began to move too late to rally the Irish insur. in large masses to some central gents, and in less than a fortnight points. Night after night they the French were compelled to sur. were known to be proceeding along render at discretion. This termi. unfrequented roads to their places nated the struggle for Irish inde. of rendezvous. The cabins through. pendence, and we now return to out large tracts of country, were the subject of our biography. either deserted, or found to contain During his confinement in Dublin only women and children. The prison, Mr. Emmet was treated lower classes that were in the with great severity, through the habit of flocking to the cities for malignant disposition of the chie employment were no longer to be gaoler. Twenty of the state pri. found in their usual places of re. soners were confined in this prison, sort. A general consternation pre. each in a room about twelve feet vailed. Even the measures taken square, with a common hall, where, on the part of the government by the connivanee of a subordi. nate keeper, they were permitted soners as to their ultimate designs to assemble after midnight, and apd expectations in their revolu. where they remained until nearly tionary movements. At first the the dawn of day, when they quietly government demanded names, but retired to iheir several rooms. Mr. as the prisoners unanimously re. Emmet was denied all intercourse fused to compromit any person, with his family ; but his wife, being this demand was relinquished, and permitted to visit him towards the Mr. Emmet, Dr. M'Neven, and close of his imprisonment in Dub. Mr. Arthur O'Connor, were ap. lin, refused to quit the prison ex. pointed agents on the part of the cept with her husband.
prisoners to agree upon the terms She was peremptorily ordered of the convention. An arrange. to leave the room, but she posi. ment was finally made, after tively refused, and remained with some negotiation, by which the pri. him during his confinement. It soners agreed to give to the govern. was ascertained that orders had ment certain information respecting been given to the keepers not to the intended alliance between the permit her to return, in case she United Irishmen and France, and left the room where her husband other information respecting the was confined. This order, how. intended revolution, provided it did ever, she never gave them an op. not implicate any individuals; and portunity of carrying into effect the government, on its part agreed, during the time of her hus. that a general amnesty should be band's imprisonment in Dublin, granted to all suspected or accused except on one occasion, and then of political offences, except such under peculiar circumstances. as were guilty of murder; and it Her child, who had been left with was also stipulated, that this should Mr. Emmet's father, was dange. not be construed to extend to the rously ill, and upon appealing to loss of life in battle. It was also the gaoler's wife, herself a mother, mutually agreed, that the state pri. Mrs. Emmet was permitted to de. soners should go to the United part, at the hour of midnight, from States. the gaol, and the next night, at the On the 4th of Aug. accordingly, same hour, was suffered to return a memoir was delivered by the to her husband without the know. agents to the government, con. ledge of the gaoler.
taining the promised disclosures. After Mr. Emmet and his com- Lord Cornwallis professed to be panions had been imprisoned se dissatisfied with this, on account veral months, and the insurrection of its being a vindication of the was crushed, a movement was set course of the revolutionists.on foot by Francis Dobbs, with the As the agents refused to alter it, a concurrence of Lord Charlemont, parol examination was resolved with the view of releasing the state upon, before the secret committees prisoners from their confinement. of both houses of the Irish parlia.
A proposition was accordingly ment. The deputies, consequently, made to them on the part of the were examined, and their exami. Irish government, the latter part of nations being committed to writing, July, 1798, with the view of ob. the greater part thereof was pub. taining information from the pri. lished, with the view of justifying
the Irish government in its arbitra. removed to this fort, then under ry measures, against a party aim. the command of Governor Stuart. ing at independence and alliance After an ineflectual application to with France. .
the Irish government, Mrs. Emmet The government admitted that obtained permission from the Bri. the prisoners had complied with tish government to share the im. the agreement on their part ; but prisonment of her husband, and as it was deemed inexpedient to remained with him until his final liberate them at once, means were liberation. devised, on the part of the court, During their residence at Fort to prolong their imprisonment. At Goorge, the Irish prisoners were first, it was industriously circulated treated with great kindness by Go. by the adherents of government, vernor Stuart, who told them, that the deputation had betrayed upon their arrival, that it was their political associates, by divulg. his intention to treat them like gen. ing their names ; but the uncagi. tlemen. This footing was of course ness which this report occasioned, gladly acceded to, and Governor was soon quicted by an advertise. Stuart never had occasion to repent ment, under their own signatures, of a noble confidence which en. contradicting this statement.- deared him to the prisoners under This advertisement they found his charge. means to convey to their friends After the peace of Amiens, the still at large, and on the 27th of government at last determined to August it appeared in two of the carry into effect its agreement with Dublin newspapers. This bold the prisoners. A list of pardons and decided step on the part of the was transmitted to governor Stuart, prisoners, exasperated the minis. of all the prisoners but Mr. Em. ters, and they ordered the three met. Gov. Stuart sent for Mr. agents to be debarred from all in. Emmet, and told him of this omis. tercourse with their friends. They sion ; but could not give any infor. also resolved not to carry into ef. mation as to its being intentional tect the compact with the prison. or accidental. At length, the Go. ers, and on the 16th of September, vernor told him that he would as. 1798, under pretence that the sume the responsibility of releasing American minister had remonstra. him with the rest of the prisoners ; ted against their being sent to the and the next morning they were all United States, they were told that discharged, and, with the excep. they could not be permitted to leave tion of four, who were permitted their prison. Not many months to return to Ireland, they were after this deliberate breach of its conveyed in a frigate to the river plighted faith, the British govern. Elbe, where they were landed ncar ment determined to remove Mr. Hamburgh. Emmet and nineteen of his fellow Mr. Emmet's health had been prisoners to Fort George, on the impaired by his long imprisonment ; northeastern coast of Scotland, to and, during his residence on the be held as hostages for the beha. continent, he devoted himself to viour of their political associates renovate his shattered constitution. still at large. Without any pre. The winter of 1802 was spent in vious notice, they were accordingly Brussels, where he saw his gallant,