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No wonder that pressing entreaties for succour came from Jelalabad. The garrison had exerted themselves with the utmost diligence to fortify the place, which they expected soon to be invested by hosts of Afghans, flushed with victory and thirsting for blood and plunder. The camp-followers were organised to assist in manning the walls, and foraging parties were sent out with good effect, while there was yet time to get in provisions. In the meanwhile Sale received a letter from the Shah, demanding what were his intentions, as his people had concluded a treaty with the Afghans, consenting to leave the country. There was an army preparing for their expulsion, and there were many of their countrymen and countrywomen hostages in the hands of a fanatical and vindictive enemy, while there was little prospect of any immediate relief from the Indian Government. There was even a feeling that they had been abandoned by the Government at Calcutta, which did not wish to maintain the supremacy of the British arms in Afghanistan. A council of war was called on the 26th of January; a stormy debate ensued; the majority were for coming to terms with the enemy and withdrawing from the country, for which purpose the draft of a letter in reply to the Shah was prepared. For two days its terms were debated, the proposition to surrender being vehemently resisted by an officer named Broadfoot, who declared it impossible that the Government should leave them to their fate, and do nothing to restore the national reputation, especially as a new Governor-General was coming out, doubtless with new counsels, and the Duke of Wellington, now in power, would never sanction so inglorious a policy. He was overruled, however, by the majority, and the letter was sent to the Shah. An answer came demanding that they should put their seals to the document. Another council was held; Colonel Broadfoot renewed his remonstrances; he was joined by Colonel Dennie, Captain Abbott, and Colonel Monteith. An answer was sent which left the garrison free to act as circumstances might direct. Next day tidings came from Peshawar, that large reinforcements were moving up through the Punjab, and that all possible efforts were to be made for their relief. There was no more talk of negotiation; every one felt that it was his duty to hold out to the last.

Braves, with broad sail, the immeasurable sea;

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.

The debate was fixed for the 9th of February, on which day it was moved that the House should resolve itself into a committee on the propositions of the Government. Mr. P. Miles moved, as an amendment, that the House should go into committee on that day twelvemonth. The debate occupied twelve nights, in the course of which every species of vituperation was hurled at the Minister by the monopolist party. Mr. Beresford Hope denounced him as an apostate. Major Fitzmaurice thought the farmers might as well die by the manly system of Mr. Cobden as by the mincemeal interference of the right hon. baronet. Another member compared the Minister to a counsel who, after taking a fee for advocating one side, took the other when the case came into court. Mr. Disraeli attacked with great vehemence and bitterness the Ministerial proposals, and pointed to the "sad spectacle" of the Minister surrounded by a majority who, while they gave him their votes, protested in their speeches against his policy. Lord George Bentinck, who, in the many years he had hitherto been in Parliament, had never before taken part in any debate of importance, surprised the House on the last night of the debate by delivering a long and elaborate speech against the measure, in which he charged the Minister with "swindling" and deceptiona speech which at once marked him out for one of the leaders of the new Opposition. Had the sovereigns of Europe been in earnest in behalf of the King of France, and had they at once marched into the country, they could scarcely have failed to make themselves masters of Paris; though they might have precipitated the deaths of the king and queen. But, in truth, the kings of Europe were in no such chivalrous mood; they were thinking more of their own interests, and actually, some of them, planning the most disgraceful robberies of their neighbours. Spain, seeing no sign of coalition[387] amongst the northern sovereigns, expressed its friendly disposition towards the French Government, and prevented an attempt on its southern provinces, in which the Knights of Malta were to assist with two frigates. The French Emigrants at Brussels and Coblenz were in a state of agitation, declaring that Monsieur, who had now joined them, was the Regent of the kingdom, seeing that the king was a prisoner and had no will of his own. The poor king was compelled by the Assembly to write to them, disavowing these proceedings. As to the Powers in general, Leopold of Austria, who had the most direct interest in the rescue of his sister and her family, was, notwithstanding his recent declarations, desirous rather of peace and by no means pleased with the Emigrants. A declaration of allied sovereigns was, indeed, made at Pillnitz, that Prussia and Austria and Russia would advance to the rescue of Louis XVI.; but the more immediate object of the agreement made there was the dismemberment of Poland, which was determined in secret articles. Any concerted action on the part of the Powers was, in fact, rendered impossible by the action of Pitt, who, true to his policy of neutrality and of holding aloof from any interference in the domestic concerns of France, declined to sanction any appeal to arms.

The year 1759 is one of the most glorious in our annals. Pitt, by his own spirit, and by selecting brave and able men, had infused such ardour into our service, that our officers no longer seemed the same men. Still, France, stung by the reverses and insults which we had heaped on her, but especially by our ravages of her coast, contemplated a retaliatory descent on ours. Gunboats were accumulated at Le Havre and other ports, and fleets were kept ready at Toulon and Brest, as well as a squadron at Dunkirk, under Admiral Thurot, a brave seaman. The king sent a message to the Commons, demanding the calling out of the militia; and[132] the twenty-four thousand French prisoners who had been left in great destitution by their own Government on our hands, were marched into the interior of the country. In July Admiral Rodney anchored in the roads of Le Havre, bombarded the town, set it on fire in several places, and destroyed many of the gunboats. In August the Toulon fleet, commanded by Admiral De la Clue, on its way to operate against our coast, was pursued by Boscawen, who had recently returned from America, and overtaken off Lagos, in Algarve. De la Clue was mortally wounded, and his shipreckoned the finest in the French navyand three others were taken, whilst a fifth was run aground and burnt. At the same time the blockades of Dunkirk and Brest were vigorously kept up.