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Chap, expedition to the bay of Bantrv, the assistance of v.y«^ another armament was solicited by a messenger named Lewins, who, by way of Hamburgh, arrived about the end of May, 1797, at Paris, where he remained as ambassador. From a fear that a premature insurrection in Ulster, unaided from abroad, the suppression of which might ruin their scheme, should be forced by the violent measures adopted by government, Do6lor William James Mac-Nevin, the secretary of the directory, was deputed at the end of June in the same year, to press with redoubled earnestness for immediate aid. Finding some difficulty at Hamburgh in the procuring of a passport to France, Mac-Nevin transmitted, by an agent of the French republic, a memoir to Paris, where he afterwards in person delivered a second, having obtained permission to proceed in his journey. In the former, which, though presented to the French directory, was, by means as yet unknown to the public, procured by the Irish ministry, a statement was made of Ireland; a promise of reimbursement to France of all its expences in Irish emancipation; and a demand of troops not exceeding ten thousand men, nor falling short of five thousand, with artillery, ammunition, and small arms. In the latter was employed every argument for the hastening of invasion. A request, which entirely failed, was also made of a loan of half a million, or at least three hundred thousand pounds, from France and Spain successively, on the security of ecclesiastical and other lands destined for confiscation.
To stipulate that the invading army should not Chap. exceeed ten thousand men was the wish of the Irish v_v_J directory, apprehensive of French ambition, which would aim at the conquest, not the liberation, of Ireland. Preparations were made at Brest, and the porUof Texel in Holland, for the transportation of a much greater force. At the latter fifteen thousand men were embarked under general Daendells, but, from fear of the British navy, were again put on shore: and when, contrary to the judgment of its commander, admiral de Winter, the fleet was obliged to sail, at the instance of the French government, it was totally defeated, on the eleventh of October, 1797, by a superior squadron of sixteen British ships of the line under lord viscount Duncan, near Camperdown on the Dutch coast. Neither cordiality to the Irish conspirators, confidence in their fidelity, nor judgment in its plans of invasion, appears in the conduct of the French directory. Wearied by disappointments, yet not despairing of their transmarine allies, and alarmed at the declining state of their affairs by the vigorous measures of government, the leaders of the conspiracy resolved on a desperate effort of insurrection, and in the February of 1798 appointed a military committee, sent instructions in detail to the adjutant-generals, and prepared a most pressing dispatch to the French government, for which they could find no mode of conveyance; but they received some time afterwards a letter containing a promise of the long-expec1ed succours in April. Why this was not performed no
Vol. II. B B information
Chap, information was given them. Arthur O'Connor, a >x 'j member of the Irish directory, had attempted to pas* through England to France at the end of February, but was arrested on suspicion at Margate, together with James Coigly, an Irish priest, and John Binns, a member of a political club in London, called the Corresponding Society. Tried at Maidstone on the twenty-second of May, Coigly was executed; O'Connor and Binns, against whom no proof could be found, were acquitted, but detained on another charge of treason.
Arthur O'Connor, a supposed lineal descendant of oconnor. Roderick, the last Irish monarch of Ireland, had made in 1795, on the fourth of May, a most brilliant, but intemperate, speech in favour of the claims of catholics, in the house of commons. At the requisition of his offended uncle, lord Longueville, who had brought him into parliament, he resigned his seat in that assembly. He became a bold and active disseminator of republicanism. A flagrant instance was a circular letter, addressed to his countrymen in the January of 1797, calculated to inflame disaffection, and promote the designs of the Irish. union, on account of which he was some time confined as a prisoner of state. From his abilities and zeal he was chosen a .member of the Irish directory,, together with Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Oliver Bond a respectable merchant, Doctor Mac-Nevin a catholic gentleman, and Thomas Addis Emmett, a lawyer of great abilities, and amiable in his private character. wardFuz. kord Edward, who was brother to the duke of 6crald- • - . Leinster,
Leinster, the head of the illustrious Geraldine race, Chap.
XI 11. had served in his Majesty's army, where he had been K^^j
highly esteemed for his courage and military conduct, his honour, humanity, and candour: but, because he had avowed his approbation of a revolution in France, his name was expunged from the military list, as if he were unworthy to bear a commission in the British army. Perhaps his expressions were improperly forcible; but to conciliate is wiser than to exasperate men of spirit and candour. Such may be far more safely trusted than the unqualified applauders of the ruling party. Men of base minds will be sycophants to every party in its turn, while it possesses predominant power. Lord Wentworth, in the reign of Charles the first, conciliated the great Ormond, who ever after continued an immoveably firm friend to the crown. Lord Edward, the husband of a French lady of the royal blood of the Capets, could be little cordial to the Jacobin faction, who had murdered his father-in-law, the duke of Orleans; yet he became a determined enemy of the British government, and might have succeeded if Providence had not interfered by some fortunate accidents, as he was eminently qualified for the excitement and direction of revolutionary commotions, a man of a most a6tive spirit, most daring courage, great mental abilities, and of a family most highly respected, for its ancient grandeur, by the lower classes of the Irish.
How much soever the Irish union was on one side'Infarma. weakened by coercive measures, it was perhaps on^a'/*'*"
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the other in reality more strengthened by the intern-* perance pursued in the execution of these, since numbers, who might have been at least neutral, were exasperated into disloyalty, and numbers, who might have been reclaimed, were confirmed in treason. The surviving members of the Irish directory have, since the overthrow of their system, declared that the number of men sworn into the conspiracy amounted at least ultimately to five hundred thousand. These, rising at once, if obedient to their leaders, and ably conducted, might have procured large quantities of arms; and what might have been the event, when the army was licentious, I leave to every man's conjecture. But their plans of insurrection were totally deranged by an occurrence no way connected with the coercive system. A silkmercer, of Dublin, named Thomas Reynolds, a catholic, had purchased an estate at Kilkea-castle, in the county of Kildare, and had accepted the places of colonel of United Irishmen, of treasurer and representative of that county in the united system, and of a provincial delegate for Leinster. This gentleman was induced by the arguments of William Cope, a respectable merchant, with whom he went a journey in the same carriage on pecuniary business, to disclose the proceedings of the conspirators, but in the most cautious manner> as if the information came io him from another person. He afterwards avowed himself the immediate source of information; and, for his highly important services, has been since rewarded with a sum of five thousand pounds,