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The peculiar character of Emmet's oratory, is well described, in a very remarkable article in the London and Dublin Magazine of 1825, entitled Robert Emmet and his Contemporaries. That article, from the striking analogy in many passages of it to those on the same topic, namely, the capabilities of Ireland, in a military point of view, I believe to have been written by the reputed author of Roche Fermoy's Commentaries on Theobald Wolf Tone's Memoirs, the late Judge Johnston.*
" During these harangues,” says the writer of the article referred to, “Emmet's fine manly countenance glowed with an enthusiastic ardour, and he delivered himself with as much animated fervour, as if he were addressing a numerous, but distracted assembly, which he wished to persuade. His words flowed with a graceful fluency, and he combined his arguments with all the ease of a man accustomed to abstract discussions."
Robert Emmet, in the spring of 1798, was about twenty years of age ; his brother, in the month of March, of that year, had been arrested; many of his fellow students were members of the Society of United Irishmen, and several of his brothers, most intimate friends and associates, were then his companions in misfortune. Whether Robert was a sworn member of the Society I have not been able to ascertain, but that he had adopted its principles early in that year, and had been freely communicated with on subjects connected with its affairs,
* Ex-Judge Johnston, the author of Colonel Roche Fermoy's Letters on the defence of Ireland, and the subject of prosecution for a seditious libel, under the strange circumstances of his holding, at the time, a seat upon the bench, and of there being absolutely no evidence of his authorship, beyond a sort of general conviction that he was a likely person to do an act of the kind. The article alleged to be libellous was an attack upon Lord Hardwicke, in his capacity of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was published in Cobbett's Register, under the signature of Juverna, and was, in fact, composed by the Judge. Nevertheless, the manuscript, although sworn by a crown witness to be in Mr. Johnston's handwriting, was actually written by his daughter. This circumstance he might have proved; but as he could not do so without compromising his amanuensis, the jury were obliged to return a verdict of guilty. Between the termination of the trial, however, and the time for pronouncing judgment, there was a change of ministry, as a result of which a nolle prosequi was entered, in the year 1806, and Mr. Johnston was allowed to retire from the bench with a pension.—Personal Reoollections of Lord Cloncurry.
by persons implicated in the latter, there is no doubt. In the month of February, the Lord Chancellor's visitation at the College, which terminated in the expulsion of several students charged with treasonable practices in the College, took place.*
When several of the students had been called before the Chancellor, and examined upon oath ; Robert Emmet, on being summoned, wrote a letter to the members of the board of fellows, denouncing the act of demanding, on oath, information from the students ; tending to inculpate their fellow students, and requiring of them to disclose the names of such of their associates as were members of the Society of United Irishmen, and desiring to have his name taken off the books of College. Before the letter was forwarded to the board, he showed it to his father, and it met with his father's entire approbation. This circumstance has not been referred to in any account that has been given of the transaction; it is now stated on the authority of Mr. P- the friend of Robert Emmet, and previously an inmate of his father's house. The name of Robert Emmet, however, without any reference to this proceeding, appeared, I believe, in the list of expelled students.
Whatever the nature of the plans were into which some of the imprisoned leaders had been entrapped, who were confined in Newgate, when the faith of government was broken with them, Robert Emmet was cognizant of them, and had been employed as a messenger on some occasions, when the affairs in hand were deemed of importance. After the removal of the state prisoners to Scotland, he visited his brother at Fort George, in 1800, and, immediately after this interview, it is stated that he set out for the Continent. It is by no means
* In the month of February, 1798, Lord Chancellor Clare held a Visitation which lasted three days, and terminated in the expulsion of 19 students and the reprimand of four; amongst the former were William Corbet, Messrs. Power, Ardagh, Robinson, Slattery, Carroll, Russell, Emmet, &c. The Chancellor was assisted by the ferocious bigot, Dr. Patrick Duigenan, Judge of the Prerogative Court. The suspected students were called before the Chancellor, and such as attended were examined on oath. Many declined to submit to any arrangement or examination, amongst which number was William Corbet. The names of those students, however, were called over, morning after morning, but, not appearing, they were declared contumacious, we are told by Mr. Moore, and sentence of expulsion was pronounced against them.—Life of Corbet.
probable that amusement was the main object of bis visit ; whatever the nature of it was, he remained on the Continent, made a tour in Switzerland, Holland, and several parts of France, and subsequently, I have been informed, he visited Cadiz, under the name of Captain Brown, in company with Mr. John Allen, who had been tried at Maidstone, along with Arthur O'Connor and Coigly, and was acquitted, and with Dowdall, one of the liberated state prisoners, who had refused to sign the compact with government, and was not precluded, like the other, from returning to Great Britain, or his own country.
Thomas Addis Emmet passed the winter of 1802 at Brussells. He was visited at Amsterdam by his brother Robert, accompanied by Hugh Wilson, about the month of August, the same year, and did not go to Paris until the spring of 1803. A part of the autumn of 1802, was passed in Paris by Robert Emmet, and there is evidence, in letters of his brother, that his proceedings there, and his intentions, were fully known to the atter. In the month of November, 1802, when Robert was in Ireland, his brother directed Robert's books and some part of his baggage, which had been left by him, in charge of Lawless, at Paris, to be sent to Brussels, from which place they were to be forwarded to him by his brother. One of those books is now in my possession, for which I am indebted to the friend of his in Dublin, to whom I have already referred, and to whom I feel under many obligations for valuable information on the subject of this volume. The title of the work is “Extracts from Colonel Templehoff's History of the Seven Years' War;" his remarks on General Lloyd, on the subsistence of armies ; and, also, a “Treatise on Winter Posts, by the Hon. Colonel Lindsay, in two vols. London, 1793.”
The margin, throughout a large portion of this volome, is filled with pencil notes, in the hand-writing of Robert Emmet, which one might suppose written by a person whose most in
tense application had been given to the subject of the work, and whose closest attention had been bestowed on every line. The marginal notings, under-scoring of passages, interlining of words, bracketting of sentences, are, in fact, such as are to be found in the books of students “ reading up” for some important examination. The notes have chiefly reference to operations in mountainous countries ; placing of post ; defending of approaches ; sending out of patroles ; objects to be accomplished ; and conduct to be observed by patroles ; disposition of troops ; rendering-quarters defensible; and, particularly, the great advantages in the general system of defensive war, which, in a position in a mountainous country, may be derived from an experienced eye, a quick perception of the nature of surrounding obstacles, and favourable local circumstances, in the placing of every particular post. This volume has evidently been pored over by one who had bestowed anxious days and sleepless nights on its perusal.
The Attorney-General, on Robert Emmet's trial, made mention of a volume of a work, on military tactics, that had been found in the Depot, in Thomas-street. That volume was, probably, the first of Colonel Templehoff's work ; the second of which is in my possession.
Dr. Macneven arrived in Paris, from his tour in Germany and Switzerland, in October, 1802. In the latter part of that month, we find, by Emmet's letter, he had been in communication with Talleyrand, and had sought an interview with Buonaparte. Thus, while France was at peace with England, Talleyrand was in communication with the enemies of the latter. Of the object of that communication there can be no doubt, and it is no less evident that a rupture with England was then in contemplation. Under such circumstances, Emmet was “much inclined to disapprove of the communication." His own views, however, in the event of war, are plainly shown in the passage in his letter of the 8th November, 1802, referring to certain rumours, being of a nature that might decide his movements. In his former letter of the 25th of October, he speaks of " making his preparations for America, and his expectations of being joined there by Macneven, unless some change shall take place that would, in both cases, reverse all their calculations.” In that letter, alluding to their intention of quitting France, he apprizes Macneven “ that Lawless will
endeavour to change their current." It is then evident that Lawless was likewise one of the leaders whose views were directed to a renewal of their efforts; and it is needless to say, that unless they had well-grounded expectations of a rupture between France and England, they could have no co-operation on the part of the former.
There is an inquiry at the conclusion of T. A. Emmet's letter to Macneven, of the 25th of October, which, I believe, has a reference to the movements of a very important actor in the affairs of 1803—"have any of you in Paris heard any thing of Dowdall lately ; and is he still in Ireland ? Dowdall was connected with Colonel Despard's conspiracy, and had been sent to Ireland, in the capacity of his agent, to ascertain the feelings of the people, and the state of things in Dublin, with a view to the extension of his plans there. Dowdall, while in Dublin, acted with extreme imprudence. In a mixed company, at table, he spoke undisguisedly of Despard's plans. One of the persons present was known to be a retainer in some subordinate capacity of government, and by that person the government, it was said, was informed of Despard's and Dowdall's movements ; but they were already in possession of them through another channel. The day after Dowdall had thus spoken, James H having been informed of what had passed, called on Dowdall, and warned him of the danger he stood in from his extreme imprudence. Despard was written to, anonymously, informing him of the conduct of his agent.
In the course of two or three weeks the news of Despard's arrest reached Dublin, when Dowdall fled, and was next heard of in France.
The well known English resident in Paris, Mr. Lewis Goldsmith, the father-in-law of Lord Lyndhurst, was then editor of the “ Argus," an Anti-English paper, published in Paris, (an organ of the French government in 1802, set up immediately before the arrival of Lord Whitworth in Paris). This versatile gentleman had previously written a Jacobin book, abusing kings and aristocrats, called “ The Crimes of Cabinets ;" and when Talleyrand had him dismissed from the office of editor of the Buonapartist paper, he returned, after a couple of years of further residence in France, (the object of which is not very clearly set forth in his work,) to his own country, where he published, in 1810, another work, called “The Secret History