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people. Now set in a reign of agrarian outrage and
murder on the one side ; of flogging, pitch-capping,
picketing, and burning of suspected houses on the other.
A party of forty or fifty Catholic Defenders enter the
house of an excellent and benevolent schoolmaster named
Berkeley, who had given no offence beyond that of being
a member of a colony planted for the improvement of
industry in the district. They stab him in several places,


cut out his tongue, and cut off several of his fingers.
They mangle his wife in the same way, and hideously
mutilate a boy of thirteen. They plunder the house, and
then march in triumph along the road with lighted torches.
The feeling of the neighbourhood is entirely with them ;
only one of the culprits is brought to justice ; he refuses
to give evidence against his accomplices, and goes to the
gallows with the air of a martyr. This crime is a speci-
men of many. As a specimen of what was done on the
side of order, we have Mr. Judkin Fitzgerald perambulat-
ing Tipperary, and extorting confessions of concealed arms
or secret associations with the torture of the lash. He ties
up a man named Wright, and gives him fifty lashes. An
officer comes and asks the reason of the punishment. Fitz-
gerald hands him a French note found on the prisoner,
saying that though he could not read French himself, the
major would find in it what would justify him in " flog-
ging the scoundrel to death." The major reads it and
finds it to be an insignificant note postponing an appoint-
ment. Fitzgerald, nevertheless, orders the flogging to
proceed. Wright is flung, a mass of wounds, into a
prison cell, with no furniture but a straw pallet, where
he remains for six or seven days without medical assist-
ance. Judkin Fitzgerald was afterwards brought to trial,
and was not only snatched from justice, but rewarded
and honoured. Sir Ralph Abercrombie, a humane and
honourable soldier, being put in command, denounced in 1797
stinging terms the excesses of the yeomanry, and strove
to restore discipline. He was thrust from his command
by the party of violent repression, and the whole hell-
brood of passions, agrarian, social, political, and religious,
raged without restraint over a great part of the island.

VOL. II вАФ 19


1798 Finally rebellion broke out in Wicklow and Wexford,
where the revolutionary influence prevailed. A host of
catholic peasants, armed partly with muskets which they
did not know how to use, but chiefly with pikes which
they used with good effect, took the field under two
savage priests, one of whom. Father Murphy, showed
an instinct of command. They defeated and hideously
butchered two or three detachments of the troops, took
the city of Wexford, and on its bridge killed a long train
of prisoners by hoisting them in the air on their pikes
and then letting them drop into the water. They formed
a great camp on Vinegar Hill, and there committed a
series of fiendish murders. But they were presently over-

1798 powered by superior forces, and a bloody reign of ven-
geance ensued. These orgies of blood were checked by

1798 the arrival in full command, military as well as civil, of
the excellent Cornwallis, who has described the state of
things which he found. " The yeomanry," he says, " are
in the style of the loyalists in America, only much more
numerous and powerful and a thousand times more fero-
cious. These men have served their country, but they
now take the lead in rapine and murder. The Irish
militia, with few officers and those chiefly of the worst
sort, follow closely on the heels of the yeomanry in mur-
der and every kind of atrocity ; and the fencibles take
a share, though much behindhand, with the others. The
language of the principal persons of the country all tends
to encourage this system of blood, and the conversation at
my table, where you will suppose I do all I can to prevent
it, always turns on hanging, shooting, burning, etc. And
if a priest has been put to death the greatest joy is
expressed by the whole company." On his arrival, Corn-



wallis says, lie " put a stop to the burning of houses and 1798
murder of the inhabitants by the yeomen or any other
person who delighted in that amusement, to the flogging
for the purpose of extorting confession, and to the free
quarters which comprehended universal rapine and rob-
bery throughout the country." He tells us that of the
number of the enemy killed a small proportion only are
killed in battle ; that he is afraid that any man found in
a brown coat within several miles of the scene of action is
butchered; and that members of both Houses of parlia-
ment are averse to all acts of clemency and desire to pur-
sue measures which would terminate in extirpation. The
yeomanry and militia, let it be remembered, as well as
the members of parliament, were Irish, and this was
before the union. There is evidence that the regiments
of the regular army were, compared with the yeomanry
and militia, a power of mercy. " The respect and venera-
tion with which I hear the names of Hunter, Skerret, and
Stuart . . . pronounced, and the high encomiums passed
on the Scotch and English regiments under whose protec-
tion the misguided partisans of rebellion were enabled to
return in safety to their homes, convinces me that the sal-
vation of the country was as much owing to the forbear-
ance, humanity, and prudence of the regular troops as
to their bravery. The moment the militia, yeomanry,
and Orangemen were separated from the army, confidence
was restored." So writes the historian Wakefield, to
whom it is no answer to say that his history was not
official, and that he wrote fourteen years after events which
must have been deeply imprinted on his memory.

The parliamentary government of Ireland had sunk in
blood. About the last measure of the oligarchical legis-


lature was an Act of Indemnity for the illegal infliction
of torture on suspected rebels. No power of order re-
mained except the British army. It was impossible to
leave the catholics in the hands of the protestants, or the
protestants in the hands of the catholics. To do either
would have been to give the signal for the renewal of
a murderous civil war. Union of the crowns without
union of the parliaments had proved unworkable, and
was sure thereafter to be more unworkable than ever.
Nor would there have been any chance of inducing the
borough-owners of the Irish parliament to consent to a
reform which would evidently have been their own de-
struction. There was nothing for it but to bring both
races and religions, with all the warring sections and in-
terests, whether political or social, under the broad aegis
of an Imperial parliament. That course had its draw-
backs. It was sure to import a perilous element into the
parliament of Great Britain and at the same time to
entangle Irish questions with the conflict between British
parties. The first of these consequences at least was
foreseen at the time, though the shape which the evil
would take, that of an Irish party in the House of Com-
mons fighting for. its own objects, regardless of Imperial
interests and playing on the balance of British parties,
was not foreseen ; the fear at the time being rather that
the Irish would swell the forces of the crown. But the
necessity was overmastering.

So Cromwell's policy of a legislative union was re-
vived. Unhappily, the thing could no longer be done
in Cromwell's way by direct and simple incorporation.
It was thought necessary to obtain the consent of the
Irish parliament, and the consent of such a parliament


could not be obtained by mere proof of the wisdom of the
measure or by methods entirely pure. Cornwallis, there-
fore, as viceroy, had work to do from which his integrity
shrank. Yet it is untrue, however generally believed,
that the union was carried by bribery. Compensation
was given by Act of Parliament to all owners of boroughs
on the principle, then accepted and recognized in Pitt's
measure of parliamentary reform for England, that the
nominations were property; and it was given to the
borough-owners who had opposed as well as to those who
had supported the union, some of the largest sums, in
fact, going to opponents. For each borough fifteen thou-
sand pounds were paid, and the sum of one million two
hundred and sixty thousand pounds was spent in this
way ; nor is the price reckoned to have been excessive.
Money was spent by both parties in the contest, but of
pecuniary corruption on a large scale there is no proof,
nor does it seem possible to point out the fund from which
the means could have been supplied. Peerages or pro-
motions in the peerage, it is true, were lavished on
borough-owners as the price of their support. In the
short viceroyalty of Cornwallis twenty-eight Irish peer- 1798
ages were created, six Irish peers were made English
peers for Irish services, and twenty Irish peers were
raised to a higher rank in the peerage. Lord Ely, with
his eight nominees, was bought with the promise of an
English peerage. This, if not bribery, was corruption,
though corruption which cost the state little ; and Lord
Gosford, who voted for the union, refused an offer that
his motives might be above suspicion. But without com-
pensation of some kind it would have been impossible to
induce a strong oligarchy to surrender its monopoly of


power and patronage as well as the exclusive field of its
ambition. The patronage of the government, civil, eccle-
siastical, and judicial, was also used in support of its
policy. But this is always done under the party system.
Untrue, too, is the assertion that the union was forced
on Ireland by a great British army. The yeomanry and
militia were not British but Irish. Invasion still im-
pended, and the viceroy reported that though he might
have force enough to maintain order, he had not enough
to resist invasion. The union may be said to have been
carried by political necessity combined with the exhaus-
tion and panic following upon a civil war. Everyone
who had a throat to be cut, a wife or a child to be
mangled, a house to be burned over his head, or a herd
of cattle to be houghed, might well wish to be transferred
from the realm of anarchy to that of a government strong
enough to keep the peace. The catholic bishops, the best
judges perhaps of the interest of their people, were for
the measure, and the chief of them took an active part in
its favour. Arthur O'Leary, the foremost of catholic
writers, though doubt rests on his independence, if not
on his integrity, took the same side. The viceroy,
after a tour of inspection, could report a general ap-
pearance of at least passive acquiescence. Dublin was
naturally unwilling to lose its position as political and
social centre. Yet the demonstrations even in Dublin
were not violent. Grattan, a sincere and honest as well
as able advocate of independence, fought with all the
force of his eloquence against union, but he hardly meas-
ured the change which had come over the scene since the
day on which independence was won. It is said that
there ought to have been an appeal to the nation by a


dissolution of parliament and a new election. But if the
appeal was not to be illusory, it would have been neces-
sary first to reform the representation and to admit
catholics to parliament. The idea of a plebiscite was
by no one seriously entertained. An appeal to the Irish
nation in any form was in truth impossible, since Irish
nation there was none ; there was only a land which
formed the scene of a war between two races not merely
alien but deadly and immemorial enemies to each other.
After a great parliamentary struggle, in which the force
of Clare and the skill of Castlereagh were pitted against
the vehement eloquence of Grattan, the persuasive art of
Plunket, and the powerful reasoning of Foster, the
measure passed the Irish Commons by a hundred and
fifty-eight votes to a hundred and fifteen, and the Irish 180C
Lords by seventy-five to twenty-six. The island realm
was united at last.

Through the British parliament the union passed with
ease, Pitt being all-powerful there. In duty to party,
perhaps to faction, it was opposed by the small band of
Whigs. Fox himself stayed away from the House, pour-
ing his denunciations into the bosom of Grattan and
leaving the debating to be done by Sheridan and Grey.
He never moved for repeal. Grey afterwards as prime
minister pledged the sovereign and the Whig party to
employ all the means in their power to preserve and
strengthen the legislative union as indissolubly connected
with the peace, security, and welfare of the nation, ex-
pressing his own emphatic opinion that its repeal would
be ruin to both countries. Of the two greatest speakers
against the union in the parliament of Ireland, one,
Grattan, sat acquiescent at least and loyal in the parlia-


ment of the United Kingdom ; the other, Plunket, sitting
in the united parliament and advocating catholic emanci- .
pation, avowed that his opinions in regard to the union
had undergone a total change, and that he who in resist-
ance to it had once been prepared to go the length of any
man, was now prepared to do all in his power to render
it close and indissoluble. He had formerly, he said, been
afraid that the interests of Ireland, on the abolition of
her separate legislature, would be discussed in a hostile
parliament; he would now state, and wished that the
whole of Ireland might hear his statement, that during
the time that he had sat in the united parliament he had
found every question that related to Irish interests- or
security entertained with indulgence and treated with the
most deliberate regard.

In its political aspect the union, whether free and
honourable or not, was equal. It followed generally the
analogy of the union with Scotland. Ireland got her
share of the representation both in the Commons, on a
mixed basis of population and property, and in the Lords.
In the Commons, by the redistribution of the seats, she
got a partial reform of her representation. In the case
of the Irish peerage, as in the case of the Scotch peerage,
the system of representatives elected by their order was
adopted, thus again introducing the elective principle,
though once more in the mildest form possible, into the
House of Lords. Party not being constitutionally recog-
nized, no provision against a party monopoly was made ;
the consequence of which has been the exclusion from
parliament of Liberal Irish peers. With regard to the
church the example of the treaty of union with Scotland
was followed with a fatal difference. In the case of


Scotland the establishment guaranteed by the treaty of
union was the church of the Scotch people ; the establish-
ment guaranteed by the treaty of union with Ireland was
the church of a dominant minority, alien and an object
of most just hatred to the people.

Pitt had intended that the union should be followed
by a measure of emancipation admitting the catholics to
parliament, by a provision for their clergy, and by a com-
mutation of tithes. The hope of emancipation, held out
informally and indefinitely to the catholics, had no doubt "
helped to win their support for the union, though deliver-
ance from Irish protestant ascendancy might have been
inducement enough. To the admission of catholics to
parliament Pitt knew the king to be strongly opposed,
and he seems to have thought it best, before approach-
ing him, to secure the concurrence of the whole cabinet,
which, as some of its members were wavering, took time.
Meanwhile he was betrayed by the chancellor. Lord
Loughborough, Wedderburn that had been, an intriguer
who wanted to play the part of the king's familiar friend.
Loughborough crept to the royal ear, revealed what Pitt
in confidence had imparted to him, and confirmed a half-
insane mind in the fancy that consent to catholic emanci-
pation would be a breach of the coronation oath and a
forfeiture of the crown ; a notion which the two great
Tory lawyers, Kenyon and Scott, had, much to their
credit, pronounced baseless. The archbishops of Canter-
bury and Armagh, with the bishop of London, completed
Loughborough's work, and Pitt, when he approached the
king, found him inflexible. " It was the most Jacobinical 1801
thing ever heard of," said the monarch, who had been
allying himself with the catholic powers of Europe in his


crusade against the Jacobins. Whoever voted for catho-
lic emancipation, he said, would be his personal enemy,
using his favourite formula, with his usual contempt for
the principles of the constitution. If he granted catholic
emancipation, his logical mind told him, the kingdom
would depart from his house and go to the catholic
house of Savoy. Thus catholic emancipation was de-
ferred for many a day with fatal consequences to the
union and the realm. Provision for the catholic clergy
also fell to the ground. Not even tithe commutation was
carried, and the tithe-proctor was left to vex and to pro-
voke outrage as before. Nor was military command
thrown open to catholics though the army was full of
catholic Irish. Pitt discharged the debt of honour by

Pitt's relations with royalty had been formal. George
must have rejoiced when in place of his haughty and
powerful minister came Addington, a courtly medioc-
rity, who had decorously filled the Speaker's chair, and
whose most conspicuous achievement was the recom-
mendation of a hop pillow to the king as a soporific, by
which he earned the nickname of the Doctor. Pitt hav-
ing taken with him the brains of his Ministry, that of
Addington was not less weak than its chief. Eldon,
the embodiment of high Toryism, of king-worship, of in-
1801 tolerance, and of law's delay, became chancellor. Lough-
borough, it is pleasant to recount, missed his prize.
Clinging to hope and perhaps nursing the fancy that the
chancellor was a fixture, he continued to intrude himself,
though out of office, into the meetings of the cabinet till
Addington showed him the door. Vainly he danced
attendance upon royalty ; even George III. saw through


him, and when his death was announced, after carefully 1805
assuring himself of the fact, pronounced the obituary,
"He has not left a greater knave behind him in my

It was generally felt that Addington was only Pitt's
warming-pan, and scarcely had a change of ministers taken
place when the reason for it was annulled. A fit of the
king's malady was brought on by the crisis. Thereupon 1801
Pitt renounced any intention of reviving the question of
catholic emancipation during the life of the king. His
act is open to sinister construction. But if the king
could not be converted, he certainly could not be over-
borne. His domestic virtue had given him a popularity
which his malady only increased. In character, habits,
and diet, he was a John Bull ; his prejudices, notably
that against the catholics, were the prejudices of the
masses. Pitt might remember that the king was twenty
years older than himself and not in the best of health.
He might also think that if there was a chance of soften-
ing the king's prejudice it was by touching his heart. It
has been suggested that Pitt's own health was failing and
with it his strength of will. From his boyhood he had
been taught by the family physician to drench himself with
port, and that medicine combined with toil and anxiety
had no doubt done its work. But over the king's preju-
dice no strength of will could have prevailed. In the
sequel this plainly appeared.

To the resignation of a power so long held, wielded so
ably, and so loved, Pitt may have been partly reconciled by
the necessity, now too manifest,. of making peace with little
honour. There was no longer anything to be gained by the
war, or any apparent reason for its continuance. Austria,


after a run of success during Bonaparte's absence in
1800 Egypt, had been crushed at Hohenlinden and Marengo,
and forced to make an ignominious and disastrous peace.
No ally was left to England but Turkey, Portugal, and
Naples. French aggrandizement was most dangerous
and threatening to the independence of Europe, but its
reversal was past hope. Jacobinism, against which the
war had been a crusade, the Revolution itself, and even
republicanism, had been extinguished by Bonaparte. In-
stability, such as would constitute incapacity to treat,
could not reasonably be predicated of the Consulate. The
boundless rapacity and perfidy of the First Consul, which
in reality made lasting peace impossible, had not yet been
fully manifested and could not be presumed. War expen-
diture and lavish subsidies to needy, half-hearted allies
had piled up the debt to five hundred and forty millions.
Commerce felt the disturbance of the currency. The
sufferings of the people were great, and were only en-
hanced by a poor law which fostered pauperism and by
giving premiums to early marriages and large families
encouraged paupers to multiply their kind. Discontent
1800 began to show itself in riots. Dislike of the war was
growing in Pitt's own party and threatening him with
mutiny. His warm ally, Wilberforce, had been moving
in favour of peace.
1802 Peace was made at Amiens; but it was no peace, as
appeared before the ink of the signatures was dry, for
Bonaparte's aggressions were not for a moment suspended.
He went on laying robber hands upon the neighbouring
states of Holland, North Italy, and Switzerland, as after-
wards he did on Spain. War, new victories, and fresh
glories were, as himself avowed, indispensable to his hold


on the French heart. If he pretended to make peace, it
was only as a move in his game. France, spent with
revolution, had made herself absolutely over to a military
despot, with whom it was indeed hopeless to negotiate,
with whom the conflict was really internecine. Hence-
forth the war is not a struggle against republicanism and
atheism in the interest of monarchy, aristocracy, and state
churches, but a struggle for national independence and
for the independence of all European nations against
the boundless aggression of a conquering and tyrannical
power. Are there in history no accidents such as must
baffle science ? What science of history could have pre-
dicted that with Corsica France would annex Napoleon
Bonaparte, a man combining supreme genius for war and
for despotic administration with a devouring ambition,
and with a character as remote from moral civilization as
that of any native of his isle ? This adventurer coming to
a political field swept clear for him by revolution, having
won the greater part of the army by his splendid victo-
ries, and sent that part of it which he had not won,
Moreau's troops, to perish in San Domingo, was absolute
master of France, whose blood and resources, himself
never a Frenchman but always a Corsican, he spent ruth-
lessly for his own aim; an aim which, however grandiose,
was not less vulgar and fatuous than it was immoral ; for
who could imagine that all the nations of Europe would
allow themselves to be permanently made dependencies of
France ? The French people, ever ready for the yoke of a
master, whether he be Grand Monarque, Jacobin dictator,
or emperor, ever loving military glory and domination
abroad more than liberty at home, put themselves slav-
ishly into his hands. Year after year, by the vote of a


legislature formed of his own tools, he drew her youth,
and at last her boys, into his armies, and with his vast
hosts, still animated by something of revolutionary en-
thusiasm, but by more of the restless spirit of adventure,
overthrew the hireling battalions, the effete strategy, and
the mouldering dynasties of Europe, till at last his tyr-
anny roused the nations. Peace with him was impossible.
He meant nothing less than the subjugation of Europe.
Nor could any treaty bind his perfidy. Of moral sense
he was totally devoid. No human suffering, no horrors
of the battlefield touched his heart ; he had, besides his
ambition, a savage delight in the game of war. He had
not even national interest to restrain him, for he never
was a Frenchman. France he treated as the engine of
his ambition and the nursery of his armies. Little inter-
est could she have in his Russian expedition. The nation

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 68 of 84)