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merchant vessels of both countries on the coast of France and England. A number of intercepted English letters found on board the East Indiaman, “ Admiral Aplin,” captured by the French, and published in the Moniteur by the government, afford abundant proof of the panic which prevailed in England from the month of March, and of the expectation of invasion that was general in the months of June, July, and August. The London Chronicle of March, April, and May is full of the preparations in progress to repel aggression. The militia was embodied in several counties in England in March. Lord Castlereagh was playing at soldiers in a yeomanry corps in Westminster. Mr. Pitt was down at the Cinque Ports raising his own regiment at Walmsey. The whole nation was filled with apprehensions of invasion, and ideas of a military character. A few people, not amongst the ministers however, or the opposition, who understood the character of Buonaparte, and reflected on his obvious policy, gave him credit for too much wisdom to believe that he would stake all his power, his resources, and his fame, on an achievement of very
doubtful success, and believed that he kept up the idea of invasion--by the preparation of his flotilla of gunboats at Boulogne, Calais, and Dunkerque, his naval armament at Brest, his armée d'Angleterre encamped on the French coast, his gnnpowder articles in the Moniteur—with the sole view of obliging the people of Engiand to keep up an enormous military force, and thus to make an effective war on its finances. But a very
different opinion was entertained by the majority, and very serious apprehensions were expressed in high quarters of the results of an invasion in Ireland. It was stated in the month of August, in a letter of Lord Charles Bentick to his brother, Lord William Bentick, Governor of Madras, " if Ireland be not attended to it will be lost ; these rascals” (an endearing, familiar, gentleman-like way of calling the people of Ireland) are as ripe as ever for rebellion."
In an extract of a letter to General Clinton, of the 2d of June, we find the following passage :-"I have learned from them (Irish people in England) with regret, that the lower classes of men in Ireland were more disaffected than ever, even more than during the last rebellion, and that if the French could escape from our fleet, and land their troops in the north
of Ireland, they would be received with satisfaction, and joined by a great number.*
In a letter of Lord Grenville to the Marquis of Wellesley, dated the 12th of July 1803, we find the following passage : “I am not certain whether the event of the war which our wise ministers have at last declared, may not have induced them to beg you to continue your stay in India some time longer. I hope nothing, however, will prevent me from having the pleasure of seeing you next year, supposing at that period that you have still a country to revisit.”+
Letter from Mr. Finers to General Lake, July 14th, “The invasion which has been so long the favourite project of the First Consul will certainly take place.”
Letter from one of the directors of the East India Company, Thomas Faulder, to Mr. J. Ferguson Smith. Calcutta, 3d August :-“I have heard from the first authority that if the French can land in Ireland with some troops they will be immediately joined by 100,000 Irish.”I
Several of these letters have in their style and tone evident marks of authenticity, and an appropriateness and similarity in the opinions expressed to those which the writers were known to entertain, that it would be difficult to simulate.
The reader is requested to observe, that the date of Lord Grenville's letter was July 12, the letter to General Clinton is dated the 2nd of June, the letter to General Lake is dated the 14th of July. In the first, the apprehension of invasion, and the doubt of his friend having a country to revisit the
is obvious enough. In the letter to General Clinton, the spirit of disaffection, and certainty of the troops joining the invaders, is plainly stated. In the letter to General Lake the favourite project of the First Consul, it is said, will certainly take place. Now, all these letters were previous to the attempt of Robert Emmet, which was made on the 23d of July.
These letters were evidently written by persons connected with government, or with persons holding high situations un
Intercepted letters found in the captured ship “ Aplin,” published in the Moniteur, p. 41.
Pam. Dub. 1804. + Intercepted letters found in the captured ship “ Aplin," published in the Moniteur, p. 13. Pam. Dub. 1804.
# Ibid. p. 43.
der the government, and we see that they entertained the opinion which has been hitherto set down as a chimerical one, that on which Robert Emmet acted, namely, that there would be an invasion of some part of Great Britain or Ireland, and that the people in Ireland would take advantage of they opportunity. Unquestionably this opinion did prevail in high quarters, and it did not originate with the individuals to whom it has been ascribed, and who are consequently looked upon as mere dreamers or enthusiasts.
Arthur O'Connor, in speaking of some of the United Irish leaders who were in Paris in 1802 and 3, says, “These were persons who were opposed to him, (O'Connor) who had communications with France, and this party was re-organized at Paris in 1803. Their plans were connected with Robert Emmet's plot, but were not communicated to him; they were divulged to him by the French government. The person in this party in Paris who had most influence, was Russell. Buonaparte, in conversing with General O'Connor, expressed himself unfavourably of the attempt, and of those engaged in it."* The United Irishmen, it must be added, who had been in communication with him, expressed themselves no less unfavourably of him.
ROBERT EMMET's design was then based on the expectation of a speedy rupture of the amicable relations between Great Britain and France, on the knowledge of extensive naval preparations in the northern sea-ports of France, and the impression left on his mind by his interview with Buonaparte, and his frequent communications with Talleyrand, that those preparations were for an invasion of England, which was likely to be attempted in August 1803 ; on the knowledge commucated to him by Dowdall, of a popular movement being determined on by the Secret Society of England, with which
*"The United Irishmen," second series, Vol. II. p. 295.
Colonel Despard was connected ; on the assurance of support and pecuniary assistance from very influential persons in Ireland ; and, lastly, on the concurrence of several of the most devoted of the Irish leaders in Paris.
A gentleman, still living, well known to his countrymen, and deservedly respected by them, dined in company with Robert Emmet and Surgeon Lawless, the day before the departure of the latter for Ireland. "Emmet spoke of his plans with extreme enthusiasm ; his features glowed with excitement, the perspiration burst through the pores, and ran down his forehead.” Lawless was thoroughly acquainted with his intentions, and thought favourably of them; but the gentleman I refer to, considered the plans impracticable, and was opposed to them. Dr. Macneven, Hugh Wilson, Thomas Russell, William and Thomas Corbett, Hamilton, and Sweeney, were intimate and confidential friends of Robert Emmet, as well as of his brother ; several of them, there is positive proof, concurred in the attempt. All of them it may be supposed were cognizant of it. All their surviving friends are agreed on one point, that the project did not originate with Robert Emmet. He set out for Ireland by the way of Holland, in the beginning of October, 1802, and arrived in Dublin in the course of the same month. His brother Thomas Addis, was then in Brussells. One of his letters is dated from that city, in November of that year. In the spring of 1803, he was in Paris with his family, and, when hostilities had broken out in the month of May, was in communication with Talleyrand, and soon after with Buonaparte.
While many of the United Irishmen were in France and in other parts of the Continent, after their release from Fort George, it would seem that some apprehensions were entertained by T. A. Emmet and others, as to the nature and extent of the assistance to be received and accepted from the French ; the former wishing that none other should be accepted than such as was extended to the United States of America, and that Ireland should enjoy her freedom as a separate nation; while others of the United Irishmen seemed desirous of forming a more intimate political connection, even to the extent of not only separating Ireland from England, but of uniting her to France. The First Consul seemed also to fayour this plan and its advocates. That this difference of opin
ion did, in a degree, weaken and impair that confidence and good fellowship which had before mutually existed among the United Irishmen in France, there is no question. It certainly produced a caution and reserve in the conduct of some, which resembled, and may have been mistaken for a jealousy, or suspicion, as to the real motives which actuated the conduct of others of their body; and it no doubt has likewise given rise to the opinion, sometimes expressed, that, after leaving Fort George, many of the prisoners. quarrelled, and disagreed among themselves.
Be that as it may, there is certainly no instance in history where a body of men were engaged in a similar enterprise, and which, resulting in defeat, produced so little of jealousy, recrimination, or enmity, among themselves, as existed among the chiefs of the United Irishmen.
The events connected with this communication, being of a later date than the period of the departure of Robert Emmet for Ireland, might be more regularly noticed in that part of the memoir which treats of the career of Robert Emmet at the period in question. Nevertheless, it seems to me, the correspondence of T. A. Emmet, detailing the nature of his communications with Buonaparte and Talleyrand ; his own views of the results of a connection with France, though the date of it is some months later than the period of Robert Emmet's departure, can be introduced in this place with most advantage to the subject, and made to afford an unbroken view of the subject of the communication of the United Irishmen in Paris with the French government, in 1802 and 1803.
The following valuable papers bring the history of those communications to an end.
In the autumn of 1803, T. A. Emmet had an interview with the First Consul. On the 13th of November, he addressed a memorial to him ; and, on the 13th of December, following, Buonaparte replied to this communication, declaring his intention to set on foot preparations for an expedition to secure the independence of Ireland.
In 1803, many of the United Irishmen, who had gone to France, formed themselves into an Irish battalion, or legion, under the command of General M’Sheehy, and, there is no doubt, most of them would have returned to Ireland with an invading expedition, which they were led to believe was then actually fitting out at Brest, and elsewhere. Under these cir