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the Duke of Portland had been anxious to settle these relations on a firm and permanent basis; but Grattan most unwisely declared that the rights of Ireland were not subjects to be haggled over in a treaty.
In 1784 Mr. Pitt took up the question. The spirit in which he approached both the commercial problem and that of parliamentary reform will be best shown by an extract from his confidential despatch to the Duke of Rutland, the then Lord Lieutenant :
"I own to you the line to which my mind at present inclines (open to whatever new ob. servations or arguments may be suggested to me) is to give Ireland an almost unlimited command of commercial advantages, if we can receive in return some security that her strength
and riches will be our benefit, and that she will contribute from time to time in their increasing proportions to the common exigencies of the empire; and having, by holding out this, removed, I trust, every temptation to Ireland to consider her interest as separate from England, to be ready-while we discountenance wild and unconstitutional attempts which strike at the root of all authority-to give real efficacy and popularity to Government by acceding (if such a line can be found) to a prudent and temperate reform of Parliament, which may guard against, or gradually cure, real defects and mischiefs; may show a sufficient regard to the interests, and even prejudices, of individuals who are concerned; and may unite the Protestant interest in excluding the Catholics from any share in the representation or the government of the country."*
While this passage proves the generous views which Mr. Pitt held toward Ireland, the last lines show that he had not yet reached the liberal spirit of Catholic emancipation which distinguished him a few years later. The instructions to the Duke of Rutland are summed up in the following striking passage which occurs in the same despatch:
"Let me beseech you to recollect that both your character and mine for consistency are at
stake, unless there are unanswerable proofs
that the case of Ireland and England is different, and to recollect also that however it is our
duty to oppose the most determined spirit and firmness to unfounded clamors and factious pretensions, it is a duty equally indispensable to take care not to struggle but in a right cause." +
*Pitt to Duke of Rutland, 7th Oct. 1784. Mahon's Historical Essays, p. 253. Quarterly Review, Sept. 1842, p. 299.
+ Massey, Hist. of England, iii. 275. NEW SERIES.-VOL. XLV., No. 3
Acting in this spirit, he brought forward in the beginning of 1785 a set of propositions which were justly regarded in Ireland as a most liberal and favorable solution of the questions at issue. But for this very reason they were vehemently opposed on high Protectionist grounds by the whole mercantile and manufacturing interests of Great Britain. Pitt found it impossible to carry them without considerable concessions to these interests. The English opposition at once shifted their ground, and declared that the resolutions in their new form compromised Irish independence. The cry was taken up by indignant Irish patriots, and thus was rejected the best offer which Ireland ever had, and no commercial arrangement was arrived at till after the union.
The failure of this negotiation is made the occasion of the bitterest accusations of treachery against Mr. Pitt; but there is not the smallest ground for these attacks, or for questioning the plain fact that Pitt was a strong Free Trader, genuinely anxious to make a more liberal bargain with Ireland than he could induce the British Parliament to indorse.
In 1789 a still more acute difficulty arose. The one link between the countries was the Crown and the administration. But in consequence of the illness. of George III., it became necessary to elect a regent. The Prince of Wales. was the proposed regent. In England,. Government thought it necessary in various ways to limit his powers, andı the history of the conflict that ensued is. well known. The Irish Parliament, on the other hand, were anxious to appoint. the Prince regent instantly and without any limitations. Fitzgibbon, the future Chancellor, and the Earl of Clare alone opposed. The Crowns of the two. countries had been declared inseparable, stituted as it was, the government of the but this was to separate them. country could never go on unless they followed Great Britain implicitly in all. regulations of imperial policy.
"Do you suppose," he said, "the British nation will submit to the claim now set up by the Irish Parliament? If the address of both Houses can invest the Prince of Wales with royal power in this way, the same address could convey the same powers to Louis XVI., or to His Holiness the Pope, or to the right honorable mover of this resolution.
'We are committing ourselves against the law and against the constitution, and in such
a contest Ireland must fall." *
He warned them that such a course must lead to the alternative of separation or union, and therefore would be more effectual in forcing forward a union than if all the sluices of corruption were opened at once.
The House of Commons refused to listen to this reasoning, and declared the Prince of Wales Regent with full kingly powers. Fortunately, however, by the time the deputation from Dublin reached London, the king was already recovered, and the Prince of Wales could only thank the Irish Parliament for their kindness. The danger of the situation is stated by no one with more clearness and cogency than by Mitchell, the honest though bitterly anti-English historian:
"This dangerous dispute was thus ended for that time. Its dangers were twofold. First, the Prince might have refused the regency with limited powers; in that case, the English Parliament would certainly have made the Queen regent, and the Prince might have accepted the Irish regency with unlimited powers; there would then have been two regents, and two separate kingdoms. Secondly, the Prince might have accepted the regency precisely on the terms offered him in each country; he would then have been a regent with limited powers in England, and with full royal prerogative in Ireland; unable to create a peer in England, but with power to swamp the House with new peerages in Ireland; unable to reward his friends with certain grants, pensions, and offices in England; but able to quarter them all upon the revenue of Ireland. The peril of such a condition of things was fully appreciated, both by Mr. Pitt and by his able coadjutor in Ireland, Mr. Fitzgibbon. They drew from it an argument for the total annihilation of Ireland by a legislative union. Others who watched events with equal attention, found in it a still sounder argument for total separation." +
Mitchell's position is inexpugnable, and no fact went further to convince British statesmen that separation or union were the only possible alternatives.
After a pause, during which Europe watched the progress of the French Revolution, the next critical question that came to the front was that of Catholic Emancipation. The worst of the penal laws had been removed in 1778, but abundant disabilities remained. The
*Froude, English in Ireland, ii. 507. + Mitchell, Hist. of Ireland, i. 177.
question had hitherto lain like a sunken rock, on which schemes of parliamentary and other reform had suffered shipwreck, but it now showed above water. In the end of 1791 the claims of the Catholics were being pressed on the Irish Government by Pitt and Dundas. Burke threw his whole weight into the same scale, and sent his son-an ally only tolerated for the sake of his father-to Dublin. Grattan and his friends supported the same view, but the Protestant party at large were opposed to it. Pitt and Dundas tried argument and advice, but the relations between Catholics and Protestants were too embittered to be revolutionized peaceably without the intervention of direct force. In 1792 a small measure in favor of the Catholics was carried by Sir H. Langrishe, but a petition asking more complete relief aroused most violent opposition from the Ascendancy party through the kingdom, and was rejected by a majority of 208 to 23, though it had the countenance of the British Government. The following year, however, Pitt and the British Government by no witnessed a marvellous change. Mr. means shared the views of the Ascendancy party and the Irish Executive. By their direct orders (Dundas to Westmoreland, 23d January 1793; Froude's
English in Ireland," iii. 73) a large measure of emancipation was early in 1793 introduced and carried through both Houses by the votes of the Court party, Dr. Duigenan and Lord Clare alone protesting audibly.
By this measure the parliamentary franchise was given to Roman Catholics, and all the more oppressive restrictions that lay on them were removed. chief disability that remained was that the right to sit in Parliament was still withheld. Pitt and Dundas were not anxious to maintain even this restriction; and there can be little doubt that, if the course of British affairs had continued smooth, this also would have been removed in no long time, and complete legal equality introduced.
But now began the most severe struggle for existence through which Great Britain has ever had to pass. On the 1st February 1793, a week after Dundas's 's despatch, France declared war upon us. At first it appeared as if the
Republic must be crushed by her host of enemies, internal and external; but in 1794 the tide turned, and France began her career of victory. The alliance against her, formed on the execution of Louis XVI., was broken up, and the dread of France and revolution reached a panic. The nation became more and more united in its hostility to Revolution principles. Party distinctions vanished. The new Whigs, as Burke called those who still had faith in France, shrank into insignificance. In the summer of 1794 Lord Fitzwilliam, with various other Whigs, joined Mr. Pitt's Cabinet; and in the autumn it became known that Lord Fitzwilliam was to go to Ireland as Viceroy. After various delays, he was sworn in in December, and reached Ireland 4th Jan. 1795. In spite of the inopportuneness of the moment, he at once began to push the policy of complete Catholic equality with great vigor, but was unsupported from London, and was recalled in the end of February, and left Dublin in March. There has been great discussion over this action of the British Government. Some calm-minded judges such as Mr. Lecky--have held that they thereby flung away a golden opportunity for conciliating Ireland. A more probable judgment seems that the rash and headlong conduct of Lord Fitzwilliam roused such opposition, as to make impossible the more gradual progress which would have been secured by
Pitt's Government, it is true, was strong as few Governments have been. Pitt himself, as no man not blinded by passion or hatred can doubt, was then and through the remainder of his life the supporter of Catholic Emancipation. But Government then, as Government
now, depended on the force of public opinion, and public opinion was at that time becoming uncontrollable.
It is with diffidence that one dissents from Mr. Lecky on a point involving intimate and wide knowledge of the period he has made his own; but I think he greatly underrates the bitterness that was felt between Protestant and Catholic in Ireland previously to Lord Fitzwilliam's failure, and greatly overrates the extent to which the subsequent hatred that bore fruit in the Rebellion was due to that failure. It is to be remembered
that we have not yet Mr. Lecky's considered judgment on the point. His earlier work, "The Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland," deals with the question; but the world is still waiting for the volumes of his History which shall cover that much-disputed period.
Without entering on the discussion of facts which would be necessary for a full treatment of the question, it may be enough at present to quote two or three testimonies from different sides. In the first place, Westmoreland, the Viceroy, the opponent of all emancipation, writes to Dundas in the beginning of 1792 :
"Instead of the relaxation of the penal laws having tended to unite Protestants and Catholics, it has increased the apprehension and hatred." "'*
As to the fact of this untoward result,
Henry Grattan, in his Life of his father, throw the whole blame on Lord Westseems agreed, and is only concerned to
moreland and the French Revolution. Mitchell, the Nationalist historian, is of the same mind. Describing the effects of the Act of 1793, he says:
"The limited and grudging measure for the relief of the Catholics had by no means had the effect of destroying the odious distinctions that had so long divided Irishmen of different religious persuasions. The law indeed was changed, but the insolent and exclusive spirit that had inspired the penal code, the very marked and offensive disabilities which still left the Catholic people in a condition of legal in
feriority, gave the 'Ascendancy' ample oppor
tunity to make them feel daily and hourly that they were still an oppressed race. every part of the kingdom continual efforts were made to traduce and vilify the whole Catholic body, in order to defeat and annul the measures which the Legislature had passed in their favor. Never, perhaps, in all the history of the country, had the virulent malignity of the bigots been so busy in charging upon
Catholics all manner of evil principles and practices." +
These are the opinions of rival partisans. A still more weighty judgment may be added.
Edmund Burke, writing to a member of the Irish Parliament on the 29th January 1795, at the very moment when Lord Fitzwilliam's policy was declaring
* Froude, English in Ireland, iii. 42. Mr. Froude warmly accepts Lord Westmoreland's view.
+ Mitchell, i. 214, 215.
itself in Ireland, said, speaking of the French generals, set sail from Brest. It last two years :
"It was within the course of about a twelvemonth, that after Parliament had been led into a step quite unparalleled in its records; after they had resisted all concession, and even hearing, with an obstinacy equal to anything that could have actuated a party domination in the second or eighth of Queen Anne; after the strange adventure of the grand jury, and after Parliament had listened to the Sovereign pleading for the emancipation of his subjects, it was after all this that such a grudging and discontent was expressed as must justly have alarmed, as it did extremely alarm, the whole Catholic body; and I remember but one period of my life (I mean the savage period between 1761 and 1767) in which they have been more harshly or contumeliously treated than since the last partial enlargement. And thus I am convinced it will be by paroxysms, as long as any stigma remains on them, and while they
are considered as no better than half citizens.
Burke therefore argues in favor of Lord Fitzwilliam's policy, but his statements are directly opposed to Mr. Lecky's view that the rancor which at present (1871) exists between the members of the two creeds seems then (1793) to have been almost unknown, and the real obstacle to emancipation was not the feelings of the people but the policy of the Government.
One thing at any rate is certain, that Lord Fitzwilliam (as Lord Brabourne has pointed out) fell undefended; and that of his own Whig friends in the Cabinet, not one was found to justify his
After Lord Fitzwilliam's return the clouds grew thicker over both countries. The victories of France continued, and the brilliant Italian campaign of Buonaparte of 1796 made him the hero of the army. The United Irishmen, a revolutionary society founded in 1791 by Wolfe Tone, turned to France for aid, and received full encouragement there.
In July 1796 the Directory, under the influence of Wolfe Tone, resolved on an invasion of Ireland. The news quickly reached the Irish Government, who were able, by the arrest of Keogh, Neilson, Russell, and others of the leaders on whom Wolfe Tone had relied, to prevent concert between the invaders and the disaffected.
In December a most formidable expedition under Hoche, one of the ablest
* Lecky, Leaders of Opinion, p. 136.
carried 15,000 troops, and artillery and arms for 45,000. By a wonderful succession of happy chances, the invasion miscarried completely. Through bad seamanship the fleet parted company the first night. Hoche and his staff were separated from the rest, and never reached Ireland at all. The main part of the fleet reached Bantry Bay in safety; but fortunately for England, they were under Grouchy, the second in command to Hoche, who then, as twenty years after at Waterloo, ruined French hopes by his blunder. He hesitated and The delayed. Not a man was landed. weather became more and more tempestuous, till at length the fleet was fairly blown out to sea. They returned to France defeated by the weather, without having seen a single English ship of war either going or returning.
In the following year the country was in even greater danger. The British cause was at its nadir. The fleet-our only efficient defence-was for three months incapacitated by successive mutinies, the outcome of mismanagement and neglect, whose fatuity almost amounted to treason. Meanwhile the Dutch, who were in alliance with the French, were throwing their whole national strength into the preparations for an invasion of Ireland on an equally large scale. Duncan, who was blockading the Dutch fleet in the Texel, was deserted by successive ships, till he was left with only his own flag-ship the Venerable, and the Adamant, a fiftygun ship. With glorious audacity he anchored his two ships in the channel, which was so narrow that only a single vessel could pass out at a time. By numerous signals to seaward, he deluded De Winter into the belief that a large squadron was lying off shore, and thus for several weeks maintained with two ships a blockade of the whole Dutch fleet. By July a force of sixteen sail of the line, with ten frigates, and 15,000 troops with eighty guns, was lying ready at the Texel, but by this time the British fleet was also ready for service. Again the weather stood our friend. For two months the fleet was delayed. by foul winds, until their supplies were exhausted. When at last, in October, the Dutch fleet put to sea, it was met by
Duncan at Camperdown with a nearly equal force. After a desperate and bloody fight, ten Dutch ships of the line and two frigates were captured, and there was an end of all danger from Holland.
Meanwhile, however, the victories and the bribes of Buonaparte had reduced Austria to peace, and within a week after Camperdown the Treaty of Campo Formio left us without a single ally. On the very day on which this treaty was signed, a decree was issued by the Directory for the formation of an army of England" at Boulogne, under General Buonaparte. The hopes of the United Irishmen reached their highest pitch. It is now known that this army was, probably from the first, intended for other purposes, but both Irish and English were completely hoodwinked by Buonaparte. The most desperate efforts were made on the one hand to welcome, on the other to repel, the expected invasion. In this way passed the winter of 1797 and spring of 1798; but all this time matters in Ireland had been going from bad to worse. Catholic emancipation roused Protestant bitterness and Protestant oppression. Protestant cruelty roused Catholic retaliation. In the north, the strife between Orange boys or Peep-of-day boys (so called from their visiting Catholic houses at peep of day to search for arms) and the Catholic defenders almost reached the magnitude of a war. Throughout Ireland the Protestants felt their weakness; and, as has happened since in India and Jamaica, as they became terrified they became cruel. The Irish Parliament entirely shared this feeling, and passed act after act of ever-increasing severity against the protest of ever-diminishing minorities, till Grattan and the constitutional opposition seceded in despair. The United Irishmen, whose leaders had long been Republican and Separatist, took full advantage of the opportunity to foment disaffection and prepare for 'invasion. Then (as always in Irish history), traitors were not wanting to betray the schemes of their friends to the Government, who were aware of the magnitude of the danger they had to meet from sedition at home and invasion from abroad, though not in a position to prove in the law courts what they
knew from informers. Militia had been raised in the prospect of invasion, yeomanry had been embodied in the course of a few weeks to the number of nearly 30,000 men (Froude, iii. 178). These were necessarily Protestant, and for the most part Orangemen of the most bigoted and ferocious description. The Irish Government was unable to maintain discipline over these forces. Officers were as bad as men. They became, as Abercromby, the Commander-in-chief, publicly declared in a general order, and as Cornwallis, after the experience of the Rebellion and of Castlebar confirmed,
a terror to every one except their enemies ;" and by their ravages, rapes, and murders, drove the peasantry wholesale into the arms of the United Irishmen. Providentially the threatened invasions of 1796 and 1797 miscarried by the weather without the Irish army being called on to strike a blow, and that of 1798 turned out to be a mere feint. During this period Camden had not, independently of the yeomanry, 10,000 men on whom he could rely. If any of the three expeditions had succeeded in landing in one of the more disaffected parts of the island, there can be no reasonable doubt but that the forces of the Crown would have proved insufficient to repel the attack. Neither would it have been an invasion by a common foe. Abhorrence of French principles was only equalled by fear of the outrages of French revolutionary armies. Under these circumstances the sense of insecurity and terror which filled the minds of all friends of the connection, explains
little as it justifies the Protestant outrages of those years. At the same time, the Catholic revulsion against the dragoonings, the free quarterings, the plunderings, the murders of undisciplined troops, goes far to account for the ferocity of the rebellion of 1798.
In the spring of 1798 matters came to a climax. The leaders of the United Irishmen understood the necessity of foreign aid, and desired to defer a rising until the French were in the country. They were, however, betrayed by one of their own number, and arrested at a meeting on the 12th March, when papers containing full evidence of their plans were seized. were seized. The most violent measures of repression, almost inevitable by a ter