Page images

we are deprived by this most unfortunate event. What a triumph at this moment for Fitzgibbon!" [Lord Clare].

After the conclusion of this remarkable agreement between the Government and Thomas Emmet, he, with Arthur O'Connor, M'Nevin, and others, was imprisoned in Scotland for about four years, and then liberated. Emmet went to the United States of America, where he became Attorney-General for the State of New York, and never returned to Ireland.*

* Harwood's History.


After these very important arrests, and during Tone's continued residence in France, the hopes of the Irish revolutionists were chiefly centred in Lord Edward Fitzgerald,* a man who, unlike the other United Irish leaders, was far more remarkable for personal courage and some military knowledge than for eloquence or love of argument.

Of this somewhat chivalrous and romantic personage Goldwin Smith saysf:—" He seems to have been merely a weak, hot-headed enthusiast "; but this opinion is not shared by Dr. Madden, or even Musgrave, whose "History" is certainly prejudiced against all "United

* Maxwell's Hintary.

f Irish History and Character.

Irishmen"; while the poet Moore, Lord Edward's biographer, perhaps over-praises him* —"As to his military character, he will be found to stand pre-eminent, as, in addition to his great courage and experience, he appears, from the reports of those who knew his opinions, to have taken enlarged and original views of his art, and to have anticipated some of those lights on military subjects which the bolder spirit of modern warfare has since his time elicited."

Lord Edward was apparently a great contrast to his political associates, being blunt, outspoken, a thorough man of action, and of few words.

In January, '93, during a debate in the Irish House of Commons, he rose, and instead of making a brilliant, heart-stirring speech, as Tone or the Emmets would probably have done on such an occasion, he exclaimed with abrupt vehemence, "I think that the Lord Lieutenant and the majority of this House are the worse subjects the King hast ";

* Life of Fitzgerald, vol. ii.

t Froude's English in Ireland, vol. iii.

and it was difficult to induce him to apologise for this petulant outburst.

His most amiable quality was his great kindness of heart and sympathy with the feelings and for the sufferings of others; and Lord Byron declared that his life's history would make "the finest subject in the world for a three-volume novel,"* but nothing of the kind has yet been successfully written.

Perhaps Byron did not sufficiently remember that Fitzgerald's Irish career, except his terrible arrest, displayed few of his rare qualities. His republican allies trusted his sincerity and admired his military knowledge, which, though acquired in the British service, was, to their gratified surprise, devoted to the destruction of British rule in Ireland. He evidently had great influence over his fellowrevolutionists, owing, chiefly, to his military talents, in which they were, generally speaking, very deficient; but he never seems to have induced any member of his own class to join him, or in any way share his views. He stood

* Sham Squire, p. 108.

alone amid eloquent, imaginative, and unwarlike Irish democrats, a thoroughly practical British officer, yet, like them, devoted to the cause of an Irish republic*

As Tone's suicide was the last important event of the '98 rebellion, so the arrest and death of Lord Edward soon after in a Dublin prison may be considered its commencement and the arrest of the brothers Sheares soon followed that of Fitzgerald.

After these captures, besides those previously effected of Thomas Emmet, &c, Tone being still in France, the United Irishmen had scarcely any

* "We find Lord Edward, whose heart and imagination absorbed the whole man, writing as follows :—' In the coffee-houses and play-houses [in Paris] every man calls the other "comrade," "frere," and with a stranger he immediately begins, "Oh, we are all brothers."' At a public dinner in Paris, Lord Edward flung off his allegiance and his civil and military rank, and adopted the title of 'le Citoyen Edouard Fitzgerald.' His dismissal from the King's service followed as a matter of course. Lord Edward did not complain; beyond the limits of the mania by which he was filled, his common sense was too just; he was not subject to those vindictive affections which so commonly warp the sense of factious men."— Wills's Lives of Illustrious Irishmen, vol. vi.

« PreviousContinue »