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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 21


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Before giving up Venice, however, to Austria, the French took care to strip it enormously of its works of art. Buonaparte then marching out, the Austrians marched in the next day. As the successful Corsican had also bargained with Austria to put her in possession of some of the territories of her German neighbours, he proceeded to Rastadt in November, where a congress was held, and where he dictated the cession of a portion of Bavaria to his new ally; and that the duke of Tuscany, ejected from his own state, should have the Breisgau. He was then summoned to Paris to be congratulated on his brilliant successes in Italy, and to take the command of a large army, called the army of England, which was collected for the easy subjugation of that kingdom, and the plunder of London.

Whilst Buonaparte was conquering Italy, and sending to Paris its money, its pictures, statues, and other inestimable treasures, the directory, thus supported by him with funds, had, nevertheless, no enviable post. The jacobins made a desperate attempt, in the summer of 1796, to recover their power. Their leaders, amongst whom were Drouet, the famous post-master of Varennes, Gracchus Babœuf, Rosignol, the commissioner, who had been called the Devil in Vendée, and many others were arrested. Their partisans then, to the number of seven hundred, flew to arms, and turned out to rescue them. They rushed to the Luxembourg by night to seize the five directors, but finding the place well guarded, they hastened to the camp at Grenoble, where they had seduced a battalion of the soldiers. But this battalion had been removed thence by the vigilant authorities, and they were fallen on by the rest of the troops, many of them were killed, and the rest at once tried by a military commission, and thirty or them put to death, and as many more condemned to transportation to Guiana. Amongst those condemned to death were Babœuf and Darthé, who attempted to imitate Romme and his companions, and stab themselves. They Struck, however, too tenderly, and were dragged to the guillotine and executed. This took place in March, 1797.

This conspiracy was immediately succeeded by one on the part of the royalists. In March was the time for the election of the one-third of the legislature, and they not only got in a considerable number of their party, but succeeded in making general Pichegru président of the council of five hundred. Barthelemy was also elected a director in place of Letourneur: and Carnot, who hated the other three, Rewbell, Barras, and Lepeaux, conspired with the royalists against the direction, and the Thermidorien party in the councils. The three directors who were aimed at applied to Buonaparte for support, and he dispatched general Augereau to take the command of the troops in Paris, and defend the three directors and the councils. The royalist party, on the suggestion of Pichegru, procured an order for the calling out the national guards, and the removal of the regular troops from Paris; that the three directors should be seized, the sections called out, and their positions be secured. But Augereau was too active for them; he was already in command of the regular troops, and in execution of the Orders of the three directors, had drawn twelve thousand men, with forty pieces of artillery, toward the Tuileries; seized generals Pichegru, Willot, and Ramel, with sixty other members of the legislature. Carnot managed to escape, and fled to Switzerland; but Barthélémy was seized, and the three directors, Rewbell, Barras, and Lepeaux, were triumphant. A new committee of public welfare was appointed, of five members, with Sièyes as président; and, furnished with absolute powers, this committee sent to trial, and had sentenced to transportation for life, Barthélémy and the rest of the prisoners, to Guiana, Cayenne, and other deadly regions. The committee then ordered the arrest of a great number of the editors, proprietors, and writers of the opposition journals, and sent them after them. It was decreed that the directory should be empowered to arrest and transport any such journalists, or obnoxious priests, without any trial, and break up all clubs and political meeting-places. All these measures were confirmed by the two Chambers of legislature; Merlin de Douai and François de Neufchateau were elected directors in the place of Carnot and Barthélémy, and then what was called the coup d'état of the 18th Fructidor, or 4th of September, was complete. The government was as despotic as that of Robespierre; and it already rested for support on the bayonets of Buonaparte. It was on the eve of a military dictatorship.

England had seen her continental allies fall away one by one, after being well supplied by English millions, and after having employed them to secure as much as possible of the territories of their neighbours. The time was now approaching when some good allies might have been very useful to herself, if such people were ever to be found. But it has always been the lot or the policy of England to help and pay others, and to receive neither help nor pay herself. We have seen that, during the American revolution, the rebellious colonists found admirable allies in the Irish. They had no difficulty in exciting disturbances amongst that ardent Celtic race, and thus greatly to augment our difficulties. No sooner did the French commence the work of revolution, than the Irish became transported with admiration of their doings. Not all the blood-shed and horrors of that wild drama could abate their delight in them, and their desire to invite them over to liberate Ireland, as they had liberated Belgium. It is true that Ireland had her grievances, but they were in a fair way of being redressed. Ever since the American revolt, the necessity of conciliating the Irish had been impressed on the English government, and many important concessions had been granted them. They had not yet obtained catholic emancipation, but the public mind was ripening for it; their blind and reckless Gallic mania threw it back for many years. Whatever were the evils which England had inflicted on Ireland, they were nothing compared with those which French fraternity would have perpetrated. But they could see nothing of this, not even after all the world had witnessed the French mode of liberating Belgium; and French wagons, guarded by soldiers, were day after day, and month after month, bearing over the Alps the priceless chefs-d'œuvre of the arts from ravaged Italy. In the spring of 1798 the preparations of the French directory for the invasion of Ireland were too open and notorious to be overlooked by any- body.

The English government had employed the best portion of the session of parliament betwixt the commencement of November and Christmas, 1797, in receiving the report of the insults of the French commissioners at Lisle to our ambassador, and his summary dismissal from the place of meeting without any chance of peace, and in voting money to carry on the war at our own doors. Where were Prussia and Austria, for whom we had so bravely fought, and whom we had so amply paid to fight for themselves? Preparing to fight for and to raise soldiers for us? No: quietly resting on the remains of our money-bags, and on the countries they had purloined by our pecuniary aid. Pitt called for the grant of twenty-five million five hundred thousand pounds, and for trebling all the assexed taxes, on the plea of defending our own shores. All this was readily granted. In April, 1798, he called for three millions, and that was as the freely conceded. In fact, by that time, the Irish were on the very verge of appearing in arms to cast off the yoke of England, and accept the boasted fraternity of France. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, brother of the duke of Leinster, one of the leading members of the society of united Irishmen, had spent some time in France during the revolution. We have seen him figuring at the jacobin clubs, and at a public dinner along with Thomas Paine, and others of the same school of politics, giving and responding to toasts of a most revolutionary character. For these proceeding-s he bad very properly been dismissed from his commission in the English army. He had married Pamela, the daughter of Madame de Genlis, as reputed, by the notorious Philip Egalité. To him, on his return to Ireland, French emissaries of revolution were secretly sent over, and he introduced them to the leading members of the projected revolt. In 1794 a jacobinised Irishman, Rev. William Jackson, came over from Paris, at the time of the fiercest raging of the reign of terror, to concert with Wolfe Tone, and his fellow-conspirators, the plans of insurrection. At the very time that some of these - Bond, Simon Butler, and Hamilton Rowan - were tried as accomplices of the Scotch reformers, Muir and the rest, and acquitted as men only seeking reform of parliament, they were deep in this scheme of French invasion. Jackson was arrested in Dublin, was tried and convicted of high treason, but anticipated his sentence by suicide. The most public display of sympathy with his views and mission was made by a vast attendance of carriages at his funeral, and the features of rebellion became so undisguised that a stop was put to all questions of political concession and amelioration. Lord Fitzwilliam was recalled from his lord-lieutenancy for permitting Grattan, in 1795, to bring a bill into the Irish parliament for Catholic emancipation. A vigilant eye was kept on the agents of sedition, and the democratic clubs, which swarmed all over Ireland, as much in the Presbyterian north as in the catholic south. Wolfe Tone and Hamilton Rowan had escaped to the United States; but there they fell in with Dr. Reynolds, Napper Tandy, and other enthusiastic Irish revolutionists. Tone was supplied with money, and dispatched to France to stimulate the directory to the Irish invasion. He arrived at Havre in February, 1796, and, on reaching Paris, he presented letters from M. Adet, the French minister to the United States, and was warmly received by Carnot, general Clarke, acting as minister of war, and the duke de Feltre. He was assured that general Hoche should be sent over with a resistless army as soon as it could be got ready, but the directors desired to see some other of the leading members of the united Irishmen before engaging in the enterprise. Tone promised general Clarke one thousand pounds a-year for life, and similar acknowledgments to all the other officers, on the liberation of Ireland; and be solicited for himself the rank of brigadier- general, and immediate pay, and obtained it.

Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Mr. Arthur O'Connor, nephew of lord Longueville, went over to Paris to arrange the invasion. In London, Fitzgerald, his French wife who accompanied him, and O'Connor, were entertained by members of the opposition, and dined at the house of a peer in company with Fox, Sheridan, and several other leading whigs; and Thomas Moore, in his life of Fitzgerald, more than hints that he made no secret to these patriots of the object of his journey, for he was of a very free-talking and open Irish temperament. The friends of Fox have been inclined to doubt this discreditable fact, but no one was more likely than Moore to be well-informed about it; and when Fitzgerald and O'Connor were on their trial, not only Fox, but Sheridan, lord John Russell, the dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, lords Thanet and Oxford came forward, and gave them both the highest character as excellent, honourable men, and of the same politics as themselves!

These emissaries reached Basle, by way of Hamburg, in the spring of 1797, and there, through Barthélémy, negotiated with the directory. The directors objected to receive lord Edward Fitzgerald at Paris, on account of his connection with the Orleans family through his wife, lest the people should imagine that it was with some design on the Orleans estate; he, therefore, returned again to Hamburg, and O'Connor proceeded to Paris and arranged for the expedition under general Hoche, whose disastrous voyage we have already related. Fitzgerald and O'Connor did not reach Ireland again without the English government being made fully aware of their: journey and its object, from a lady fellow-traveller with Fitzgerald to Hamburg, to whom, with a weak, and, as it concerned the fate of thousands, unpardonable garrulity, be had disclosed the whole.

Still, emissaries continued to pass to and fro, and, notwithstanding the promised armament had failed to reach Ireland, the impatient Irish were determined to rise. In February of the present year, 1798, they sent urgent appeals to the French to come over, assuring them that they had three hundred thousand men banded to receive them, who only wanted arms; and Talleyrand sent them word that a fresh armament was preparing. But on the 28th of that month, O'Connor, one O'Coigley, an Irish priest, and Burns, a leading member of the London corresponding society, were arrested at Margate as they were about to embark for France. Papers found on O'Coigley, or Quigley, proved his treason. One was a direct invitation to the French to send an army into England, as certain to prevent the sending of British forces into Ireland, and thus to make the descent there sure. He was condemned and executed, but Burns was acquitted, and O'Connor remanded for fresh evidence. That was soon forthcoming; for one Thomas Reynolds, who had been the treasurer for the insurgents in his county, and also a colonel in the intended revolutionary army, being pressed for money, betrayed his associates. In consequence of the information which he gave, a number of the conspirators were arrested at their place of meeting. The four chief leaders, however, were not there, as expected, namely, lord Edward Fitzgerald, Emmet, Sampson, and MacNevin, but they were afterwards secured. Lord Edward Fitzgerald was surprised as he lay in bed at one Murphy's, and made a desperate resistance. He attacked major Swan, who presented the warrant, with a dagger, and, being a powerful man, was very formidable. Major Swan discharged a pistol at him, but missed. Mr. Ryan, a magistrate, next entering, was stabbed mortally by lord Edward, and a bloody struggle ensued. Major Sirr, who had surrounded the house by soldiers, then rushed in and fired at Fitzgerald, and wounded him in the shoulder. He was then overpowered and secured by the soldiers, and conveyed to Newgate. This took place on the 19th of May, Mr. Ryan died of his wounds on the 28rd, the very day lord Fitzgerald had fixed for the rising of the insurgents. Lord Edward died of fever, the consequence of his wounds, and of mortification at the failure of the enterprise.

On the 23rd, the day appointed for rising, the insurgents turned out in many places, notwithstanding the arrest of their leaders. They did not succeed at Carlow, Naas, and Kilcullen. But, on the 25th, fourteen thousand of them, under one father Murphy, attacked Wexford, defeated the garrison which came out to meet them, took a considerable number of prisoners, whom they put to death, and frightened the town into a surrender on the 80th. They treated such protestants as remained in the place with the utmost barbarity. They took Enniscorthy, and, seizing some cannon, encamped on Vinegar Hill. On the 31st they were attacked by general Lake, who drove them from their camp, made a great slaughter of them, and then re-took Wexford and Enniscorthy. General Johnson attacked another party which was plundering the town of New Ross, killing and wounding two thousand six hundred of them. Oil this news reaching Scullabogue, the insurgents there massacred about one hundred protestant prisoners in cold blood. These massacres of the protestants, and the presbyterians in the north having been too cautious to rise, after the betrayal of the plot, caused the whole to assume the old character of a popish rebellion. Against this the leading Catholics protested, and promptly offered their aid to government to suppress it. Of the leaders, MacCann, Byrne, two brothers named Sheares, the sons of a banker at Cork, were executed. Arthur O'Connor, Emmet, MacNevin, Sampson, and a number of others, were banished. Lord Cornwallis was appointed lord-lieutenant in place of lord Camden, who bad succeeded earl Fitzwilliam, and pardons were assured to those who made their submission. All now seemed over, when in August there appeared at Killala three French frigates, which landed nine hundred men, who were commanded by general Hombert. Why the French should send such a mere handful of men into Ireland, who must inevitably be sacrificed or made prisoners, can perhaps only be accounted for by the assurances of the disaffected Irish, that the whole mass of the people, at least of the Catholics, were ready to rise and join them. But if that were true - if, as Wolfe Tone assured them, there were three hundred thousand men already disciplined, and only in need of arms, it would have been sufficient to have sent them over arms. But then Tone, who had grown as utterly reckless as any sans-culotte Frenchman, described the riches of Ireland, which were to repay the invaders, as something prodigious. In his memorial to the directory, he declared that the French were to go shares with the nation whom they went to liberate in all the church, college, and chapter lands, in the property of the absentee landlords, which he estimated at one million pounds per annum, in that of all Englishmen, and in the income of government, which he calculated at two millions of pounds per annum. General Hombert, who had been in the late expedition, and nearly lost his life in the Droits de l'Homme, no doubt expected to see all the catholic population flocking around him, eager to put down their oppressors; but, so far from this, all classes avoided him, except a few of the most wretched catholic peasants. At Castlebar he was met by general Lake, with a force much superior in numbers, but chiefly yeomanry and militia. Hombert readily dispersed these, and marched on through Connaught, calling on the people to rise, but calling in vain. He had made this fruitless advance for about seventeen days, when he was met by lord Cornwallis, with a body of regular troops, and defeated. Finding his retreat cut off, he surrendered on the 8th of September, and he and his followers became prisoners of war. But the madness or delusion of the French government had not yet reached its acme; a month after this surrender, Sir John Warren fell in with a French line-of-battle ship, and eight frigates, bearing troops and ammunition to Ireland. He captured the ship of the line and three of the frigates, and on board of the man-of-war was discovered the notorious Wolfe Tone, the chief instigator of these insane incursions, and who, before sailing, had recorded in his diary, as a matter of boast, that every day his heart was growing harder, that he would take a most dreadful vengeance on the Irish aristocracy. He was condemned to be hanged, but he managed to cut his own throat in prison. And thus terminated these worse than foolish attempts of France on Ireland, for they were productive of great miseries, both at sea and on land, and never were conducted on a scale or with a force capable of producing any permanent result.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 21

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