rified minority-free quarterings, houseburnings, torturings even-were adopted to discover arms and plots. Floggings, half-hangings, picketings, pitch-cappings, made the name of loyalist odious in all generous minds.

In the end of May overt rebellion broke out. Arrangements had been made for a simultaneous rising through Leinster and Ulster, where the Presbyterians were almost as disaffected as the Catholics of Leinster. It broke out in various parts of Leinster, but was suppressed with ease, except in Wexford, where one or two successes at the beginning made the insurrection swell to enormous dimensions.

Bloody revenge was speedily taken for Protestant oppression, and a war of extermination and massacre commenced, in which the two sides rivalled one another in deeds of horror. In the judg ment of Mr. Plunket, the impartial biographer of his grandfather, the first Lord Plunket, the only difference between the parties was, that while the loyalists were more brutal in their outrages on women, the rebels were more wholesale in their massacres of men.


The rising in Ulster was delayed for a fortnight by the arrest of some of their leaders. By that time the anti-Protestant character of the insurrection in the south had declared itself. The Presbyterians of the north, who were republican in feeling, but who hated Popery even more strongly than the British connection, could not fight heartily in such an alliance, and the rising was easily suppressed.

Immediately on the outbreak of the insurrection, the Government appointed as Lord Lieutenant Lord Cornwallis, the most distinguished general and most large-minded and statesman-like soldier that Britain possessed. He reached Ireland on the 20th June, one day before the Wexford insurrection was finished by the battle of Vinegar Hill. He found the insurrection crushed, and that his whole work was to extinguish the smouldering embers, to bring in an amnesty, and to repress the savage spirit of vengeance roused by the desperate struggle for life through which the ruling party had just passed.

*Life of Lord Plunket, i. p. 72.

His language on the subject has often been quoted; but the best idea of his position is perhaps given by the following letter, written a month after he reached Ireland, to a private and intimate friend :—

"DUBLIN CASTLE, July 24, 1798.

"The overt rebellion is certainly declining, and the principal leaders in Kildare have surrendered with a stipulation for their lives only; but the whole country is in such a state, that I feel frightened and ashamed whenever I conhead of it. Except in the instances of the six sider that I am looked upon as being at the state trials that are going on here, there is no law either in town or country but martial law, and you know enough of that to see all the horrors of it, even in the best administration of it; judge then how it must be, conducted

by Irishmen heated by passion and revenge. But all this is trifling compared to the numberless murders that are hourly committed by our people without any process or examination whatever. The yeomanry are in the style of the

Loyalists in America, only much more numerous and powerful, and a thousand times more ferocious. These men have saved the country, but they now take the lead in rapine and murder. The Irish militia, with few officers, and those chiefly of the worst kind, follow closely on the heels of the yeomanry in murder and every kind of atrocity; and the Fencibles take a share, tho' much behind-hand, with the others. The

feeble outrages, burnings, and murders, which are still committed by the rebels, serve to keep up the sanguinary disposition on our side; and as long as they furnish a pretext for our parties going in quest of them, I see no prospect of amendment. The conversation of the principal persons of the country all tends to encourage this system of blood; and the conversation even at my table, where you will suppose I do all I can to prevent it, always turns on hanging, shooting, burning, &c., &c.; and if a priest has by the whole company. So much for Ireland been put to death, the greatest joy is expressed

and my wretched situation.

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ceive the credit of severity, the Chancellor and Lord Castlereagh. Nevertheless, the Irish rebels would have been in bad case if they had been abandoned to the mercies of even the most moderate of their fellow-countrymen. The difference in the attitude of English statesmen, from even the best of the Irish, is shown by a story of a rather later date, which Wilberforce used to tell.

"I was with Pitt in the House of Lords, when Lord Clare replied to a charge of cruel practices, approaching torture, for the discovery of concealed arms. 'Well, suppose it were so; but surely,' &c. I shall never forget Pitt's look. He turned round to me with that high indignant stare which sometimes marked his countenance, and stalked out of the House." *

A week before the rebellion broke out, Buonaparte had sailed on his Egyptian expedition, and though Wolfe Tone was urging immediate action on the Directory, the chance was missed. Scarcely, however, had the rebellion been suppressed, when Ireland was alarmed by another French invasion, this time on a smaller scale. On the 22d of August, General Humbert, with 1100 men, landed at Killala Bay, in County Mayo. He was joined by many Irish, and a few days after defeated General Lake in a fight, which, from the conduct of the Irish militia, was called the Castlebar races. Cornwallis, however, speedily collected a large force, and in less than three weeks from the landing of the French, had defeated and taken prisoner the whole expedition. Small as was the scale of this invasion, it illustrates two things--the danger which would have arisen if the forces of the Crown had been in less competent hands than those of Cornwallis, and the worthlessness of the Irish militia. Writing to Pitt a few weeks after, Cornwallis describes them as a militia on which no dependence whatever can be placed, and which Abercromby too justly described by saying they were only formidable to their friends." t

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fallen into such universal contempt and abhorrence, that when applications are made for the protection of troops, it is often requested that Irish militia may not be sent. Language such as this proves the impossibility which Cornwallis felt of maintaining order in reland from Irish sources and with Irish force.

Yet another small invasion took place the same autumn by a French squadron, which reached Lough Swilly, in County Donegal, on the 10th October. It was, however, attacked and defeated the next day, before any landing could be made, by a British squadron under Sir John Warren. Neither of these invasions were large enough to be formidable by themselves; either of them, if they had appeared a little earlier on the scene. would have multiplied tenfold the difficulty of suppressing the rebellion.

This then was the condition of Ireland. It was torn in pieces by the bitterest animosities. Its rival parties were only prevented from flying at each other's throats by the superior force of Great Britain. Its Parliament had formerly hindered and hampered the Government in their desires of reform and their efforts to draw closer the bonds of commercial relationship, and now encouraged and pressed them on to severities and vigor beyond the law.' It was the vulnerable point of the enpire, exposed to continual invasion. It required a huge British garrison, since the native forces that should have defended it had proved themselves worse than useless. It was true that five threatened invasions had been averted, but this was due to the miraculous good fortune of Great Britain, and not to any fitness of Ireland for defence. Buonaparte would soon return from the East. Buonaparte might be relied on to see as clearly as the Directory the weak spot of his enemies, and chance could not be relied on for the sixth time. It was true that rebellion had been suppressed by the combined moderation and firmness of Cornwallis, but the causes of disaffection had not been removed. Passions were too deeply stirred to appeal to an Irish Parliament to remove them, or to trust to Irish statesmen to

Cornwallis, ii. 414.

hold the balance with justice. The Chancellor and Lord Castlereagh, as Cornwallis often declared, were the most moderate of Irish statesmen; but as he emphatically stated a few months later

"If the British Government place their confidence in any Irish faction, all will be ruined. The Chancellor and many of our most able friends, are blinded by passion and prejudice, and would drive the country into rebellion in six months. Lord Castlereagh is by far the best, but I doubt whether he would yet have firmness to control the violent representations of his countrymen; and I trust when I retire that some Englishman may be sent over who will be at the trouble of acting for himself, and will not submit to be governed."*

Neither was there any other party in Ireland to whom Cornwallis could turn. Grattan had, of course. been opposed to all measures of violence; but Grattan, with most of the parliamentary opposition, imitating the example of Fox at Westminster, had seceded in consequence of the severities which succeeded on the failure of Hoche's invasion. The party had at no time been considerable in numbers, but at the general election of 1797 Grattan declined re-election and from that time till the middle of the Union debates had not a seat in Parliament. In these desperate straits the question that weighed on Cornwallis was, as he puts it, How Ireland could be governed and preserved, and rendered a source of strength and power, instead of remaining a useless and almost intolerable burden to Great

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Britain?" He was satisfied, and upon good grounds, that perseverance in the system that had hitherto been pursued could only lead from bad to worse, and, after exhausting the resources of Britain, must end in the total separation of the two countries. As a general he believed, and no doubt rightly believed, that Ireland under the existing system was indefensible against the attacks of foreign enemies. As a statesman he was con

vinced, and with good reason, that under the existing system it was impossible to secure good government, safety, or justice for the mass of the people of Ireland. His own view was entirely against the maintenance of the Ascend

*Cornwallis to Ross, iii. 250, + Cornwallis, ii. 404.

ancy. Writing to Mr. Pitt in Oct. 1798, he declares

"It has always appeared to me a desperate measure for the British Government to make an irrevocable alliance with a small party in Ireland (which party has derived all its consequence from, and is, in fact, entirely dependent upon the British Government) to wage eternal war against the Papists and Presbyterians of this kingdom, which two sects from the fairest calculations compose about nine tenths of the community."

He therefore strongly urged the extension of all the privileges of Union to the Catholics, and with deep foresight prophesied―

"If it is in contemplation ever to extend the privileges of the Union to the Roman Catholics, the present appears to be the only opportunity which the British Ministry can have of obtaining any credit from the boon, which must otherwise in a short time be extorted from them."

These views were completely shared If they could then have by Mr. Pitt. been carried out, our troubles in Ireland might now have been of no greater magnitude than our troubles in the Highlands. But in the then temper of both sides of the public opinion on Channel, it was impossible for statesmen of whatever influence to put forward at the moment so comprehensive a scheme. Sincere friend as Cornwallis was of the Catholic claims, he felt the military necessity as the pressing and overmastering fact of the situation; and the best that he found himself able to do for the Catholics was to bid them wait, in reliance on the superior impartiality of an imperial Parliament and the known views of so many eminent statesmen. confidence they waited-not, as Mr. Gladstone declared the other day, because, though hating the Union, they were powerless through lack of organization. They had plenty of strength to defeat the measure, if they had so de


In this

Mr. Gladstone forgets that the Catholics had at this time votes, and that, while the boroughs were nearly all of individuals, yet, owing to the prevaclose corporations under the patronage lence of leases for lives, something very like universal suffrage prevailed in the counties. In three quarters of the

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county constituencies, therefore, the members were completely dependent on Catholic votes. Moreover, Mr. Gladstone's charge is inconsistent with the attitude both of Nationalists and of the Irish Government. The charge which Nationalist writers bring against Mr. Pitt in this matter is not that he suppressed Catholic opinion, but that he duped Catholics and won invaluable support by promises which he had no intention. of performing. The position which Lord Castlereagh takes up in a most remarkable letter on the question, written to Mr. Pitt on the very day of the Union,* is not that the support of the Catholics was withheld or was unimportant, but that it was granted, and was necessary for the passing of the measure.

The prospects which tempted the Catholics were not fulfilled, though not through the fault of Pitt, Cornwallis, or Castlereagh. But the fact remains that in the judgment of the Catholics the Union appeared favorable to their interests, and that they consequently were either neutral or favorable to the Union, while the most effective resistance came

from the Orangemen, who were opposed to it on the very ground on which the Catholics supported it.

Then began the long Union negotiations, which prove, more completely than anything, the utter corruptness of nine tenths of the party which composed the Irish Parliament, and their unfitness for control over the affairs of their country. The feelings of Cornwallis will be best shown by a few extracts from his private letters to his most intimate friend, General Ross. Writing on the 21st January 1799, he says

"The demands of our friends rise in proportion to the appearance of strength on the other side, and you, who know how I detest a job, will be sensible of the difficulties which I must often have to keep my temper; but still the object is great, and perhaps the salvation of the British Empire may depend upon it. I shall therefore as much as possible overcome my detestation of the work in which I am engaged, and march on steadily to my point."

On the 20th May he writes again

"The political jobbing of this country gets the better of me; it has ever been the wish of my life to avoid all this dirty business, and I

* Cornwallis Mem., iii. 326. + Idem, p. 39.


am now involved in it beyond all bearing, and am consequently more wretched than ever. trust that I shall live to get out of this most cursed of all situations and most repugnant to my feelings. How I long to kick those whom my public duty obliges me to court! If I did not hope to get out of this country, I should most earnestly pray for immediate death. No man, I am sure, ever experienced a more wretched existence, and after all I doubt whether it is possible to save the country." *

A few days later, on the 8th June 1799

"The country is becoming every day more quiet; but the ferocity of the loyalists will not for a long time permit the restoration of perfect tranquillity. My occupation is now of the most with the most corrupt people under heaven. I unpleasant nature, negotiating and jobbing despise and hate myself every hour for engaging in such dirty work, and am supported only by the reflection that without a Union the British Empire must be dissolved." +

On the 19th June

"Nothing but a conviction that a Union is absolutely necessary for the safety of the British Empire could make me endure the shocking task which is imposed upon me." ‡

These views were fully shared by Mr. Pitt. The reasons which, alike in his public utterances and in his private correspondence and intercourse, we see to have moved him were the deepest and noblest that can move a statesman-the safety of the empire and the protection of the weaker party in Ireland.

The safety of the empire he puts first in his grand speech of 31st January 1799:

"The country is at this time engaged in the most important and momentous conflict that ever occurred in the history of the world-a conflict in which Great Britain is distinguished for having made the only manly and successful stand against the common enemies of civilized society. We see the point in which that enemy thinks us the most assailable. Are we not then bound in policy and prudence to strengthen that vulnerable point, involved, as we are, in a contest of liberty against despotism-of property against plunder and rapine-of religion and order against impiety and anarchy ?

"There was a time when this would have been called declamation, but unfortunately loug and bitter experience has taught us to feel that it is only the feeble and imperfect representation of those calamities (the result of French principles and French arms) which are

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every day attested by the wounds of a bleeding all legislative exertion, that you have been at world."

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Declamation these words may sound in this more happy time. When uttered, they expressed no more than the conviction of the whole nation. But, even at such a moment, the healing of animosities in Ireland, and the protection of the Irish, does not stand far behind. In the same speech, he continues :

"Whoever looks at the circumstances to which I have alluded, whoever considers that the enemy have shown by their conduct that they considered Ireland as the weakest and most vulnerable part of the empire, whoever reflects upon those dreadful and inexcusable cruelties instigated by the enemies of both countries, and upon those lamentable severities by which the exertions for the defence of Ireland were unhappily but unavoidably attended, and the necessity of which is in itself one great aggravation of the treasons and crimes which led to them,-must feel that, as it now stands composed, in the hostile division of its sects, in the animosities existing between ancient settlers and original inhabitants, there is no cure but in the formation of a general imperial legislature, free alike from terror and from resentment, removed from the danger and agitation, uninfluenced by the prejudices and uninflamed by the passions, of that distracted country." +

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"I will now appeal to every dispassionate man who hears me, whether I have in anything misstated or exaggerated the calamitous situation of my country, or the coalition of vice and folly which has long undermined her happiness, and at this hour loudly threatens her existence. It is gravely inculcated, I know- Let the British minister leave us to ourselves, and we are very well as we are.' We are very well as we are. Gracious God! of what materials must the heart of that man be composed, who knows the state of the country, and will coldly tell us we are very well as we are. very well as we are we have not three years of redemption from bankruptcy or intolerable taxation, nor one hour's security against the renewal of exterminating civil war.

We are

We are

very well as we are. Look to your statutebook-session after session have you been compelled to enact laws of unexampled rigor and novelty, to repress the horrible excesses of the mass of your people; and the fury of murder and pillage and desolation has so outrun

*Speeches, vol. iii. p. 42. + Idem, p. 46.

length driven to the hard necessity of breakputting your country under the ban of military ing down the pale of the municipal law. and government; and in every little circle of dignity and independence we hear whispers of discontent at the temperate discretion with which it is administered. We are very well as we are. Look at the old revolutionary Government of the Irish Union, and the modern revolutionary Government of the Irish consulate, canvassing the dregs of that rebel democracy for a renewal of popular ferment and outrage, to overcome the deliberations of Parliament. We are very well as we are. Look to your civil and religious dissensions-look to the fury of political faction, and the torrents of human blood that stain the face of your country, and of what material is that man composed who will not listen with patience and goodwill to any proposition that can be made to him, for composing the distractions, and healing the wounds, and alienating the miseries of the devoted nation? We are very well as we are. Look to your finances, and I repeat you have not redemption for three years from public bankruptcy, or a burden of taxation which will sink every gentleman of property in the country.'

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Such was the spirit of the statesmen of the Union. Such was Cornwallis's view of the negotiations in which he found himself engaged. Of the subsequent course of those negotiations, a most careful and impartial sketch has been given by Lord Brabourne in a recent number of this Magazine.t

Cornwallis is attacked for having expelled his opponents wholesale from office and pensions. This is true, but hardly heinous. It is the regular course of events to-day. When a man differs from Government on the most fundamental question of the day, he does not continue to hold office. The only difference is, that he resigns, instead of waiting to be dismissed. People talk as if a couple of millions was spent in actual money bribes. The truth is, that very little was spent in actual cash bribes, not on account of any virtue of the Irish Parliament, but as is proved by the amounts remitted from England. The patrons of the Irish boroughs which were suppressed were compensated at the rate of £7500 a seat. This was not more than a liberal estimate of their actual market value, and was a compensation and not a bribe, inasmuch as it was not confined to supporters of the

*P. 50 of edition published by I. L. P. U. + Blackwood's Magazine, October 1885.

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