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Revolution was convulsing Europe, they began a fresh agitation for the redress of grievances; and, in 1792, further concessions were granted to them. They were admitted to the Bar up to the rank of king's counsel. They were allowed to be attorneys, to teach in schools without the licence of the Protestant bishop of the diocese, and to intermarry with Protestants. But they did not rest here. Still pressing forward, they next demanded admission to the magistracy, to the grand jury, to municipal corporations, to the Dublin University,' and, above all, to the elective franchise. The stirring events which followed this new agitation centred around the life of one remarkable man, and may well be included in a brief sketch of his extraordinary career.
· Founded in the reign of Elizabech.
OLFE TONE was born in
Dublin, 1763. A graduate of Trinity College and a member of the Bar, he entered politics in 1790-1791.
Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform were the questions of
the hour. The Catholic sation had just fallen under the influence of a great Catholic democratic leader-John Keogh; and a secret political society, pledged to reform, had been established in Belfast.
Tone flung himself into the Catholic cause, and joined the Ulster reformers. Visiting Belfast in 1791, he met the members of the secret political society, and co-operated with them in founding the United Irish movement. This movement was,
in the beginning, constitutional. The majority of its founders were parliamentary reformers. But Tone was always a rebel; he has himself placed the fact beyond controversy. “To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government,' he says ; 'to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country—these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland; to abolish the memory of our past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishmen in place of the denomination of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter—these were my means.'
Tone strove earnestly to bring the United Irishmen and the Catholic Committee into touch. He succeeded. In 1792, the Catholic leaders visited Belfast, and then and there was sealed the bond of union between them and their Ulster brethren.
In the same year, Tone became assistant secretary to the Catholic Committee. Catholics and United Irishmen now worked together for a common cause. Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform was the cry of both. The Catholics were organised as they had never been organised before. Agents of the Committee were sent throughout the country. Communications were opened between Dublin and the provinces. There was a consolidation of forces and a concentration of aims which made the agitators formidable.
'I have made men of the Catholics,' says Keogh. It was no idle boast. He had infused
a spirit of independence into the Catholic body, which gave life and energy to the Catholic movement. The country was roused. The ministers were alarmed. The union between northern Presbyterians and southern Catholics sent a thrill through the Cabinet. Troubles on the Continent increased. England's allies were routed by the soldiers of France. The principles of the revolution spread to Ulster.
Protestant volunteers marched through the Protestant capital, cheering for the French Republic, and bidding defiance to England. The victory of Valmy gave joy to many a northern and many a southern heart. Belfast illuminated. Dublin illuminated. 'Huzza ! huzza !' writes Tone in his diary, ‘Brunswick and his army are running out of France, with Dumouriez pursuing him. If the French had been beaten, it was all over with us.' The government felt that the United Irishmen and the Catholics were driving in the direction of separation. How were they to be stopped? By a policy of conciliation, which would break up the union of their forces, satisfying the one and isolating the other. So thought Pitt, and, acting on the conviction, he resolved to grant the most urgent demands of the Catholics. In 1793 they were, accordingly, granted their demands formulated in 1792, including the parliamentary franchise. At the last moment, Tone urged the Catholic committee to press for the admission of Catholics to parliament. But Keogh refused to move from the line of battle originally drawn up. The franchise was within his reach; he would
take it, and bide his time for the rest. Will the Catholics be satisfied with the franchise ?' says Tone; and he adds, 'I believe they will, and be damned !' He was disgusted with Keogh's moderation, Sad! sad!' he notes. "Merchants, I see, make bad revolutionists.' But Tone was not conciliated.
No concession would satisfy him. His goal was separation; and he was not checked for an instant in his onward course. In 1794 he plunged more deeply into treason, and others followed or anticipated his example. Measures were then taken for re-organising the United Irish Society on a rebellious basis. But the work of revolution was checked by the arrival of Lord Fitzwilliam in December 1794. He came with a message of peace. sent to emancipate the Catholics. In February 1795 a Bill for this purpose was read a first time in the House of Commons, practically without opposition. The hopes of the people were raised to the highest pitch, and then they were dashed suddenly to the ground. The king revolted at the notion of further concessions to the Catholics. Pitt flinched. Fitzwilliam was recalled. The policy of concession was abandoned. An era of terror and revolution commenced. Fitzwilliam left Ireland on the 25th of March 1795, amid the sorrow and the blessings of a grateful people. On March 31st the new viceroy, Lord Camden, made his state entry though the streets of Dublin, amid the angry growls of a sullen and despairing multitude. The policy of con