« AnteriorContinuar »
tween Proto estants and
Meanwhile, religious animosities, which had been partially allayed by the liberal policy of the government Feuds beand by the union of Protestants and Catholics in the volunteer forces, were revived with increased Catholics. intensity. In 1795, Lord Fitzwilliam's brief rule, -designed for conciliation, — merely raised the hopes of Catholics and the fears of Protestants. The pea-antry, by whom the peace of the country was disturbed, generally professed one faith ; the gentry, another. Traditional hatred of the Romish faith was readily associated, in the minds of the latter, with loyalty and the protection of life and property. To them papist and “defender” were the same. Every social disorder was ascribed to the hated religion. Papist enemies of order, and conspirators against their country, were banding together; and loyal Protestants were invited to associate in defence of life, property, and religion. With this object, Orange societies were rapidly formed ; Orange whichi, animated by fear, zeal, and party spirit,
societies. further inflamed the minds of Protestants against Catholics. Nor was their hostility passive. In September, 1795, a fierce conflict arose between the Orangemen and defenders,
since known as the battle of the Diamond, — which increased the inveteracy of the two parties. Orangemen endeavored, by the eviction of' tenants, the dismissal of and worse forms of persecution, to drive every Catholic out of the county of Armagh ; 2 and defenders retaliated with murderous outrages. In 1790, the di-turbed state of the country was met by further measures of repression, wliich were executed by the magistrates and military withi merciless severity, too often unwarranted by law. To other causes of discontent, was added resentment of oppression and injus.
1 Moore's Life of Lord E. Fitzgerald, i. 260; Grattan's Life, iv. 182; Castlereagh Corr., i. 10.
2 Speech of Mr. Grattan, Feb. 220, 1796; Irish Parl. Deb., xvi. 107. 8 Speech of Attorney-General, Feb. 20th, 1796; Ibid., xvi. 102.
4 Plowden's Hist., ii. 541-567, 573, 582, 624; Lord Moira's Speech, Nov. 22d, 1797; Parl. Hist., xxxiii. 1058.
& Armagh servants
The rebellion of 1798.
tice. The country was rent asunder by hatreds, strifes, and disaffection, and threatened, from without, by hostile invasion which Irish traitors had encouraged. At length these evil passions, fomented by treason on one side and by cruelty on the other, exploded in the rebellion of 1798. The leaders of this rebellion were Protestants. The Cath
olic gentry and priesthood recoiled from any con
tact with French atheists and Jacobins: they were without republican sympathies ; but could not fail to deplore the sufferings and oppression of the wretched peasantry who professed their faith.
The Protestant party, however, -- frantic with fear, bigotry, and party spirit, — denounced the whole Catholic body as rebels and public enemies. The hideous scenes of this rebellion are only to be paralleled by the enormities of the French Revolution. The rebels were unloosed savages, — mad with hatred and revenge, burning, destroying, and slaying; the loyalists and military were ferocious and cruel beyond belief. Not only were armed peasants hunted down like wild beasts; but the disturbed districts were abandoned to the license of a brutal soldiery. The wretched “ croppies" were scourged, pitchcapped, picketed, balf-hung, tortured, mutilated, and shot ; their homes rified and burned; their wives and daughters violated with revolting barbarity. Before the outbreak of the rebellion, the soldiers had been utterly demoralized by license and cruelty, unchecked by the civil power. Sir Ralph Abercromby, in a general order, had declared " the army to be in a state of licentiousness, which must render it
i Report of Secret Committee of Lords, 1798; Lords' Journ., Ireland, viii. 588.
3 l’owden's Hist., ii. 700.
8 Plowden's Hist., ii 701, 705 and note, 712-714. It was a favorite sport to fasten caps filled with hot pitch on to the heads of the peasants, or to make them stand upon a sharp stake or picket. — Ibid., 713.
4 The military had been enjoined by proclamation to act without being called upon by the civil magistrates. — Plowden's Hist., ii. 622, App. civ cv.; Lord Dunfermline's Memoir of Sir Ralph Abercromby, 69.
formidable to every one but the enemy." In vain had that humane and enlightened soldier attempted to restrain military excesses. Thwarted by the weakness of Lord Camden, and the bigotry and fierce party zeal of his cabinet, he retired in disgust from the command of an army, which had been degraded into bands of ruffians and bandits. The troops, hounded on to renewed license, were fit instruments of the infuriated vengeance of the ruling faction.
In the midst of these frightful scenes, Lord Cornwallis assumed the civil and military government of Ireland. Temperate, sensible, and humane, he wallis lord
lieutenant. was horrified not less by the atrocities of the rebels, than by the revolting cruelty and lawlessness of the troops, and the vindictive passions of all concerned in the administration of affairs.8 Moderation and humanity were to be found in none but English regiments. With native officers, rapine and murder were no crimes.5 1 Memoir of Sir Ralph Abercromby, 93.
2 Ibid., 89-138. 8 Writing June 28th, 1798, he said: "I am much afraid that any man In a brown coat, who is found within several miles of the field of action, is butchered without discrimination.” — “ It shall be one of my first objects to soften the ferocity of our troops, which I am afraid, in the Irish corps at least, is not confined to the private soldiers.” – Cornwallis Corr., ii. 355. Of the militia he said:—“ They are ferocious and cruel in the extreme, when any poor wretches, either with or without arms, come within their power: in short, murder appears to be their favorite pastime.” – Ibid., 358. “ The principal persons of this country, and the members of both Houses of Parliament, are, in general, averse to all acts of clemency ... and would pursue measures that could only terminate in the extirpation of the greater number of the inhabitants, and in the utter destruction of the country." — Ibid., 358. Again, he deplores “ the numberless muriders that are hourly committed by our people without any process or examination whatever." “ The conversation of the principal persons of the country tends to encourage this system of blood; and the conversation, even at my table, where you may well suppose I do all I can to prevent it, always turns on hanging, shooting, burning, &c., &c.; and if a priest has been put to death, the greatest joy is expressed by the whole company.” – Ibid., 369.
4 In sending the 100th Regiment and “some troops that can be depended upon," he wrote:— “ The shocking barbarities of our national troops would be more likely to provoke rebellion than to suppress it.” – - Tidl., 377. See also his General Order, Aug. 31st, 1798.
- Ibid., 395. 6 E.g. the murder of Dogherty. – Ibid., 420. See also Lord Holland's Mem., i. 105–114.
The Union concerted.
The rebellion was crushed ; but how was a country so
convulsed with evil passions, to be governed ?
Lord Cornwallis found his council, or junto, at the castle by whom it had long been ruled, “ blinded by their passions and prejudices.” Persuaded that the policy of this party had aggravated the political evils of their wretched country, he endeavored to save the Irish from themselves, by that scheme of union which a greater statesman than himself had long since conceived. Under the old system of government, concessions, conciliation, and justice were impracticable. The only hope of toleration and equity was to be found in the mild and impartial rule of British statesmen, and an united Parliament. In this spirit was the union sought by Mr. Pitt, who “resented and spurned the bigoted fury of Irish Protestants ;”in this spirit was it promoted by Lord Cornwallis.* Self-government had become impossible. “If ever there was a country,” said Lord Hutchinson, “unfit to govern itself, it is Ireland ; a corrupt aristocracy, a ferocious commonalty, a distracted government, a divided people." 5 Imperial considerations, no less paramount, also pointed to the union. Not only had the divisions of the Irish people rendered the difficulties of internal administration insuperable, but they had proved a source of weakness and danger from without. Ireland could no longer be suffered to continue a separate realm, but must be fused and welded into one state with Great Britain. But the difficulties of this great scheme were not easily to
be overcome. However desirable and even nein effecting cessary for the interests of Ireland herself, an
invitation to surrender her independence, 80 recently acquired, deeply affected her national sensibilities. To be merged in the greater and more powerful kingdom, was to lose her distinct nationality. And how could she be
1 Cornwallis Corr., č. 404, 405. 3 Ibid., 414, 415, 416. 8 Wilberforce's Diary, July 16th, 1798. 4 Cornwallis Corr., ii. 418, 419, &c.; Castlereagh Corr., i. 442. 6 Memoir of Sir Ralph Abercromby, 136.
assured against neglect and oppression, when wholly at the mercy of the Parliament of Great Britain, whose sovereignty she had lately renounced? The liberties she had won in 1782, were all to be forfeited and abandoned. At
other time, these national feelings alone would have made an union impossible. But the country, desolated by a war of classes and religions, had not yet recovered the united sentiments of a nation.
But other difficulties, no less formidable, were to be encountered. The Irish party were invited to
Objections yield up the power and patronage of the castle ; of the ruling the peers to surrender their proud position as
ln hereditary councillors, in Parliament; the great families to abandon their boroughs. The compact confederacy of interests and corruption was to be broken up. But the gove 'ernment, convinced of the necessity of the union, was prepared to overcome every obstacle.
The Parliament of Great Britain recognized the union as a necessary measure of state policy; and the
Means by masterly arguments of Mr. Pitt ? admitted of little which the resistance. But the first proposal to the Irish accomplished. Parliament miscarried; an amendment in favor of maintaining an independent legislature being lost by a single
1 " There are two classes of men in Parliament, whom the disasters and sufferings of the country have but very impertectly awakened to the necessity of a change, viz., the borough proprietors, and the immediate agents of government.” — Lord Cornwallis to Duke of Portland, Jan. 5th, 1799.; Corr., iii. 31. Again:-“ There certainly is a very strong disinclination to the measure in many of the borough proprietors, and a not less marked repugnance in many of the official people, particularly in those who have been longest in the habits of the current system.". Same to Same, Jan. 11th, 1799; Ibid., 34. And much later in the struggle, his lordship wrote: — " The nearer the great event approaches, the more are the needy and interested senators alarmed at the effects it may possibly have on their interests, and the provision for their families; and I believe that half of our majority would be at least as much delighted as any of our opponents, if the measure could be defeated." - Ibid., 228.
2 Jan. 230 and 31st, 1799.
8 In the Commons, his resolutions were carried by 149 votes against 24, and in the Lords without a division. - Plowden's Hist., ii. 896.