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de Genlis. To this lady, and a young mademoiselle, whom, when in England, she passed off as her adopted daughter, he systematically
avoided an introduction in London, from a certain horror which he
entertained against blues; but in Paris his notions underwent an alteration, and he says carelessly in one of his letters, “I dine to-day with Madame de Sillery.” This lady, it is well known, had been long domesticated in the family of the Duke of Orleans, well remembered under the title of Philippe Egalité, as the preceptress
of his children. By way of teaching them morality, she formed a
liaison with the duke, the result of which was a daughter, to whom she gave the name of Pamela; and by way of impressing them with the beauty and value of truth, she gave it out to the world, and some portion of the world believed, that Pamela was the child, not of her blood but of her adoption, and she trumped up a plausible story to support her fiction. Lord Edward Fitzgerald being at the theatre one evening in Paris, saw in a neighbouring box a face with which he at once, with his usual impetuosity, became violently enamoured. He easily obtained an introduction on the spot, a day or two after he dined with her family, and in a month married her at Tournay. Two of the witnesses to the marriage instrument were Philippe Egalité and his son, Louis Philippe Egalité, who now sits upon the throne of France. It was towards the close of the month of January, 1793, that Lord Edward and his bride arrived in Dublin, where they were received by his family in the most affectionate manner. It can hardly be necessary for us to paint the situation of Ireland, as it presented itself to that young and ardent nobleman at this period. The tyranny of the alien church had already produced a mass of discontent amongst the Catholics, which, increasing from generation to generation, had now leavened the whole island. “The whole people of Ireland,” said the immortal Grattan, “for almost an entire century, were a victim.” “Law was poisoned at its source,”
said the same orator, “and the seats of judgment were polluted.
The ministers of the country were the ringleaders of sedition placed in authority, because, in order to keep the frame-work of their wretched system of oppression together, they had recourse to deeds of corruption and crime that defied all comparison.” The example of France was electric, as it always will be upon every part of Europe, of which we had a second proof in the late revolution. Patriotic clubs were instituted with rapidity in every part of the country; and the crying grievances of the nation being those which the Catholics had too long endured, their wrongs were placed in the front of the complaints which were now embodied in fiery language in addresses and remonstrances, and every other mode of proclamation, that an angry people could put into requisition. Of the allies of the Catholics none were more ardent than the Dissenters, both being, says the author, victims of the church establishment.” Without going farther into the history of this horrible epoch, we need merely add that Lord Edward Fitzgerald openly, from his place in the House of Commons, denounced, more than once, the iniquitous system upon which the rulers of Ireland were proceeding, and was already set down by the ringleaders of sedition as one of the fierce of traitors. Amidst these political turmoils it is like lighting upon an oasis in an African desert, to turn to such a letter as the following. It is dated from Kildare, June 23d, 1794, where he had just placed his domestic establishment in a little lodge, which he describes in his usual happy phraseology, happy on account of the perfect innocence and home-tenderness of feeling which it expresses. * “Dearest Mother, o ‘“I write to you in the middle of settling and arranging my little family here. But the day is fine,—the spot looks pretty, quiet, and comfortable;—I feel pleasant, contented, and happy, and all these feelings and sights never come across me, without bringing dearest, dearest mother, to my heart's recollection. I am sure you understand these feelings, dear mother. How you would like this little spot it is the smallest thing imaginable, and to numbers would have no beauty; but there is a comfort and moderation in it that delights me. I don't know how I can describe it to you, but I will try. “After going up a little lane, and in a close gate, you come on a little
white house, with a small gravel court before it. You see but three small windows, the court surrounded by large old elms; one side of the house covered with shrubs, on the other side a tolerable large ash; upon the stairs
going up to the house, two wicker cages, in which there are at this moment two thrushes, singing a gorge deployée. In coming into the house, you find a small passage hall, very clean, the floor tiled; upon your left, a small room; on the right the staircase. In front, you come into the parlour, a good room, with a bow window looking into the garden, which is a small green plot, surrounded by good trees, and in it three of the finest thorns I ever saw, and all these so placed that you may shade yourself from the sun all hours of the day; the bow window covered with honeysuckles, and up to the window some roses.
* “Going up stairs you find another bow room, the honeysuckle almost up to it, and a little room the same size as that below ; this, with a kitchen or servants' hall below, is the whole house. There is, on the left, in the court-yard, another building which makes a kitchen; it is covered by trees, so as to look pretty; at the back of it there is a yard, &c., which looks into a lane. On the side of the house opposite the grass plot, there is ground enough for a flower-garden, communicating with the front garden by a little walk.
* “The whole place is situated on a kind of rampart, of a circular form, surrounded by a wall; which wall, towards the village and lane, is high, but covered with trees and shrubs;–the trees old and large, giving a great deal of shade. Towards the country the wall is not higher than your knee, and this covered with bushes: from these open parts you have view of a pretty cultivated country, till your eye is stopped by the Curragh. From our place there is a back way to these fields, so as to go out and walk, without having to do with the town.
“This, dearest mother, is the spot, as well as I can give it you, but it
don't describe well; one must see it and feel it; it is all the little peeps and
ideas that go with it that make the beauty of it to me. My dear wife
dotes on it, and becomes it. She is busy, in her little American jacket,
planting sweet peas and mignonette. Her table and work-box, with the little one’s caps, are on the table. I wish my dearest mother was here,
and the scene to me would be complete.
““I will now answer some of your dear letters.
Pam is as well as possible, better than ever; the only inconvenience she
finds is great fulness, for which she was bled this morning, and it has done
her a great deal of good. I can't tell you how delighted she was at your china, and how it adds to the little ménage ; it is beautiful, and your dear way of buying and giving it goes to my heart. What would I give to have you here drinking tea out of it! Ogilvie flattered us with the prospect the last day we dined with him. If you do not come we will go to you, when you think Pamela will bear it. I don’t know how nursing and travelling do, but I should think, if the child should prove strong, it won't mind it. ““Parting with poor dear Frescati did make me melancholy, as well as the
idea of your settling away from us; but, certainly, there are good reasons for it. If you can once recover your money for Frescati, it will be a great
object, and not be missed; and then, after parting with it, I don't think you would like Ireland. I have tired you by this long scroll. I have not said half I feel, for it is one of those delightful days when one thinks and feels
To the other causes of discontent that rankled in the bosom of Lord Edward, was the war then going on against France, as besides that it reminded him forcibly of his dismissal from the army, it may be supposed, with something more than probability, that his connection with France by marriage and by community of political sentiment, would exercise no small influence upon his resolutions. Accordingly, we find him rejoicing that the people did not cordially like the enrolling of the militia; and denouncing the war as a vile one, for its wickedness and injustice, its folly and madness, and as one which he says, “if it is not soon put a stop to in England, I am in hopes we shall take some strong measures against here.” Before, however, we plunge once more with him into the world of politics, we must take another—it shall be the last— peep at his little cottage, to the circle of which an interesting addition had recently been made in the person of his eldest-born boy, in whom he took the most exquisite delight.
“My little place is much improved by a few things I have done, and by all my planting ;-by the by, I doubt if I told you of my flower garden, —I got a great deal from Frescati. I have been at Kildare since Pam's lying-in, and it looked delightful, though all the leaves were off the trees, but so comfortable and snug. I think I shall pass a delightful winter there. I have got two fine large clumps of turf, which look both comfortable and pretty. I have paled in my little flower-garden before my hall-door, with a lath paling like the cottage, and stuck it full of roses, sweetbriar, honey
suckles, and Spanish broom. I have got all my beds ready for my flowers; so you may guess how I long to be down to plant them. The little fellow will be a great addition to the party. I think when I am there with Pam : and child, of a blustery evening, with a good turf fire, and a pleasant book,-coming in, after seeing my poultry put up, my garden settled,— flower beds and plants covered, for fear of frost,-the place looking comfortable, and taken care of, I shall be as happy as possible; and sure I am I shall regret nothing but not being nearer my dearest mother, and her not being of our party.”—vol. i. pp. 253, 254.
“The government,” says Mr. Moore, and not without reason, ‘ that could drive such a man into resistance—and there were hundreds equal to him in goodness, if not in heroism, so driven—is convicted by this very result alone, without any further inquiry into its history.” Of all the clubs that were organized for the purposes of rebellion at this period, the most extensive, and of course the most powerful, was that which was called the United Irish Association. Though Lord Edward had not as yet become a member of this society, his name had already become obnoxious to suspicion, in consequence not only of his well-known republican sentiments, but of a circumstance which had occurred in the early part of 1793, and which, doubtless, had reached the ear of authority. About the beginning of that year, the then ruling party in France dispatched a secret agent to Ireland, in order to confer with the leaders of the disaffected in that country, and to offer them the aid of French arms for the liberation of their country. This person brought a letter of introduction to Lord Edward, who, however, took no step in the business beyond making him known to some of the heads of the United Irishmen, and the mission itself ended in nothing. It was not until about the beginning of 1796, that Lord Edward became a member of that body, whose meetings, hitherto held in public for constitutional purposes, were now rendered secret, under the solemn obligation of an oath, in consequence of the measures that had been taken by government for extinguishing them altogether. The organization of this confederacy was admirably calculated for the purposes which it sought to accomplish, and was equally suitable to civil and to military operations. Authorized emissaries passed secretly between France and Ireland, with the view of bringing about an understanding between the United Irishmen and the French directory; the first well-known invasion of Ireland was concerted, and in order to settle all its details, Lord Edward and Mr. Arthur O’Connor were appointed to proceed to France, to enter into a regular negociation with the agents of that country. These two individuals cheerfully undertook the mission, but having proceeded by Hamburgh to Basle, it was there signified to them that O’Connor alone would be permitted to meet Hoche as a negociator, the French government fearing, that from Lord Edward being married to Pamela, his participation in the business might lead to a suspicion that “it
had some reference to the Orleans family.” Lord Edward, upon his return to Hamburgh, unfortunately had for a travelling companion a foreign lady, who had once been the mistress of an old friend of Mr. Pitt, and still corresponded with him. This lady, it is said, collected from her unsuspecting fellow-traveller many dangerous particulars, which, with his characteristic frankness, he made no difficulty in mentioning, and thus a clue to his proceedings was placed in the hands of government. The failure of Hoche’s expedition, owing chiefly to the disasters that occurred to the French fleet, did not prevent the French government from pursuing their . of a second invasion, which, however, was again baffled, and Ireland was thrown upon her own resources—resources at that time so abundant, and so completely organized, that if dependence had been placed upon them from the beginning, without the expectation of any aid from France, there is little doubt that she might have dictated the terms of her future existence. In the mean time, affairs were rushing towards a crisis; arrest, imprisonment, the form of a trial, execution, and punishments, sometimes short indeed of death, but barbarous beyond all precedent, were the order of the day. Mr. Moore, with a pardonable digression to his own biography, informs us that, ‘though then but a youth in Trinity College (Dublin), and so many years have since gone by, the impression of horror and indignation which the acts of the government of that day left upon my mind is, I confess, at this moment, far too freshly alive to allow me the due calmness of a historian in speaking of them.” Those of his seniors in college, to whom he looked up with most admiration, were members of the league, and he need not be ashamed to say that it was only the want of a few additional years, that prevented him from following their example. It was to one of the conspirators, not however a university man, that he was indebted for that enthusiastic attachment to the music of his country, which he has since immortalized in his melodies. That gentleman, “who, by his industry and taste,’ says the author, ‘in collecting old Irish airs, and the true, national expression with which he performed them on the flute, contributed to raise in me a strong feeling for our country’s music, is now, if he be still alive, languishing in exile.” Lord Edward Fitzgerald, it seems, he had no opportunity of forming an acquaintance with, ‘but I remember,’ he proudly adds, “as if it had been but yesterday, having once seen him, in the year 1797, in Grafton Street, when, on being told who he was, as he passed, I ran anxiously after him, desirous of another look at one whose name had, from my school-days, been associated in my mind with all that was noble, patriotic, and chivalrous. Though I saw him but this once, his peculiar dress, the elastic lightness of his step, his fresh healthful complexion, and the soft expression given to his eyes by their long dark eye-lashes, are as present and familiar to my memory as if I had intimately known him. Little did I then