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On the 23rd, the day fixed for the rising, the insurgents turned out in many places, notwithstanding the arrest of their leaders. They did not succeed at Carlow, Naas, and Kilcullen. But, on the 25th, fourteen thousand of them, under one Father Murphy, attacked Wexford, defeated the garrison which came out to meet them, took a considerable number of prisoners, whom they put to death, and frightened the town into a surrender on the 30th. They treated such Protestants as remained in the place with the utmost barbarity. They took Enniscorthy and, seizing some cannon, encamped on Vinegar Hill. On the 31st they were attacked by General Lake, who drove them from their camp, made a great slaughter of them, and then retook Wexford and Enniscorthy. General Johnson attacked another party which was plundering the town of New Ross, killing and wounding two thousand six hundred of them. On this news reaching Scullabogue, the insurgents there massacred about one hundred Protestant prisoners in cold blood. These massacres of the Protestants, and the Presbyterians in the north having been too cautious to rise, after the betrayal of the plot, caused the whole to assume the old character of a Popish rebellion. Against this the leading Catholics protested, and promptly offered their aid to Government to suppress it. Of the leaders, MacCann, Byrne, two brothers named Sheares, the sons of a banker at Cork, were executed. The success of the soldiers was marked by worse cruelty than that of the rebels; for instance, at Carlow about 200 persons were hanged or shot. Arthur O'Connor, Emmet, MacNevin, Sampson, and a number of others, were banished. Lord Cornwallis was appointed Lord-Lieutenant in place of Lord Camden, and pardons were assured to those who made their submission. All now seemed over, when in August there appeared at Killala three French frigates, which landed nine hundred men, who were commanded by General Humbert. Why the French should send such a mere handful of men into Ireland, who must inevitably be sacrificed or made prisoners, can perhaps only be accounted for by the assurances of the disaffected Irish, that the whole mass of the people, at least of the Catholics, were ready to rise and join them. But if that were trueif, as Wolfe Tone assured them, there were three hundred thousand men already disciplined, and only in need of arms, it would have been sufficient to have sent them over arms. But then Tone, who had grown as utterly reckless as any sansculotte Frenchman, described the riches of Ireland, which were to repay the invaders, as something prodigious. In his memorial to the Directory he declared that the French were to go shares with[464] the nation whom they went to liberate, in all the church, college, and chapter lands, in the property of the absentee landlords, which he estimated at one million pounds per annum, in that of all Englishmen, and in the income of Government, which he calculated at two millions of pounds per annum. General Humbert, who had been in the late expedition, and nearly lost his life in the Droits de l'Homme, no doubt expected to see all the Catholic population flocking around him, eager to put down their oppressors; but, so far from this, all classes avoided him, except a few of the most wretched Catholic peasants. At Castlebar he was met by General Lake, with a force much superior in numbers, but chiefly yeomanry and militia. Humbert readily dispersed thesethe speed of their flight gaining for the battle the name of the Castlebar Racesand marched on through Connaught, calling on the people to rise, but calling in vain. He had made this fruitless advance for about seventeen days when he was met by Lord Cornwallis with a body of regular troops, and defeated. Finding his retreat cut off, he surrendered on the 8th of September, and he and his followers became prisoners of war. But the madness or delusion of the French Government had not yet reached its height; a month after this surrender Sir John Warren fell in with a French line-of-battle ship and eight frigates, bearing troops and ammunition to Ireland. He captured the ship of the line and three of the frigates, and on board of the man-of-war was discovered the notorious Wolfe Tone, the chief instigator of these insane incursions, and who, before sailing, had recorded in his diary, as a matter of boast, that every day his heart was growing harder, that he would take a most dreadful vengeance on the Irish aristocracy. He was condemned to be hanged, but he managed to cut his throat in prison (November 19, 1798). And thus terminated these worse than foolish attempts of France on Ireland, for they were productive of great miseries, both at sea and on land, and never were conducted on a scale or with a force capable of producing any permanent result.

During the summer, meetings of a similar character were held at Cork, Longford, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Mallow, Dundalk, Baltinglass, Tara, and other places. At Tara, in the county Meath, on the 15th of August, an immense multitude was assembled250,000, at the lowest estimate, but represented by the Repeal journals as four times that number. The place was selected because of its association with the old nationality of the country, where its ancient kings were elected and crowned. O'Connell's speech on this occasion was defiant in tone, and in the highest degree inflammatory. Referring to a speech of the Duke of Wellington, he said, "The Duke of Wellington is now talking of attacking us, and I am glad of it. The Queen's army is the bravest army in the world, but I feel it to be a fact that Ireland, roused as she is at the present moment, would, if they made war upon us, furnish women enough to beat the whole of the Queen's forces." The Lord Chancellor Sugden having recently deprived of the commission of the peace all magistrates who were members of the Repeal Association, Mr. O'Connell announced that the dismissed magistrates would be appointed by the Repeal Association as arbitrators to settle all disputes among the people, who were not again to go to the petty sessions. He pronounced the union to be null, to be obeyed as an injustice supported by law, until they had the royal authority to set the matter right and substitute their own Parliament. In his speech after dinner to a more select audience, he said that the statesman was a driveller who did not recollect the might that slumbers in a peasant's arm, and who expected that 700,000 such men would endure oppression for ever. An outbreak would surely come, though not in his time, and then the Government and gentry would weep, in tears of blood, their want of consideration and kindness to the country whose people could reward them amply by the devotion of their hearts and the vigour of their arms. What were the gentry afraid of? It could not be of the people, for they were under the strictest discipline. No army was ever more submissive to its general than the[527] people of Ireland were to the wishes of a single individual.

On the 1st of December the army resumed its march. They immediately found the effect of Cumberland's presence at Lichfield: they had to ford the Mersey near Stockport, and to carry the baggage and artillery over a rude wooden bridge, consisting of the trunks of trees thrown across, at Chorlton. That evening they reached Macclesfield. Lord George pushed on with his division to Congleton, whence he sent on Colonel[101] Kerr, who routed a small body of the Duke of Kingston's horse, and drove them towards Newcastle-under-Lyme. Kerr seized Captain Weir, well known as one of Cumberland's principal spies, and, by threatening him with the gallows, drew from him the particulars of the duke's numbers and position. It appeared that the duke was under the impression that the prince was directing his march towards Wales to join his partisans there, and having encouraged this notion by this advance, and led the duke to proceed as far as Stone, Lord George suddenly altered his route, and got to Ashbourne, and thence to Derby, thus throwing the road to London quite open, and being two or three days' march in advance of the duke. Charles entered Derby the same day, the 4th of December, and took up his quarters at a house belonging to the Earl of Exeter, at the bottom of Full Street. [See larger version]

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