Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. III.—: Other Consequences of the French Revolution.—Re-action. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1
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Sect. III.—: Other Consequences of the French Revolution.—Re-action. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.
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Other Consequences of the French Revolution.—Re-action.
After this exaggerated, and in some cases stupid imitation of French revolutionary movements in Ireland, excesses of infamous memory sullied the cause of liberty in France, and a re-action fatal to reform soon appeared in Ireland. The Protestants, who had reluctantly embraced the Catholic cause, seized this opportunity for abandoning it, and many of the Catholics, disgusted by French infidelity, rejected every reform that came from such a source. The republic, which henceforth appeared a blood-stained phantom, terrified the world, and dissension appeared in the body of United Irishmen.
The Parisian massacres of September (1792) are a remarkable epoch in the history of Ireland. Until that time, republican principles spread rapidly in Ireland; but they then stopped short—re-action commenced. In August, 1792, the Whig leaders were still on terms with the party of the United Irishmen. At the same epoch (August 7th, 1792,) the Catholic clergy made common cause with them; and their union with the Catholic proprietors was still unbroken.
The year 1793 arrived, and the patriot party of Ireland was struck to the heart; the public mind suddenly changed; the dreams of progress were dissipated, and the illusions of liberty vanished. The great Burke, whose talents had been devoted to the Irish cause, withdrew from it. From the month of October, 1792, the Catholic clergy separated in a body from the reformers; and when the question of universal suffrage was proposed in the House of Commons, Grattan, the chief of the Whigs, resisted it with all his might. “Compare,” says Tone in his memoirs, “our committee in 1793 with what it was in 1792.”
The most ardent Irish democrats, when they heard of the fatal days of September, could not avoid feeling some degree of terror. Tone comforted himself by considering the Irish character. “In France,” said he, “the people assassinate, and do not plunder: an Irish mob would do just the contrary; it would rob everybody, and kill nobody.”
The English government, long alarmed by the agitations of Ireland, eagerly seized an opportunity of striking a mortal blow at the revolutionary spirit. Without encountering any formidable opposition from the Irish people, it dissolved and suppressed the volunteers, forbade the formation of armed bodies without the authority of the executive power, disarmed the citizens, sent strong garrisons into the towns, prevented public discussions at clubs or meetings, prohibited the sale of munitions of war, and finally passed a law (the Convention Act) which prohibited every assembly of delegates for deliberating on public affairs. These energetic measures were everywhere put into execution; they were resisted nowhere but in Belfast, and there the laws were easily enforced by the strong arm of power.
Ireland, hitherto so agitated, was paralysed. It was almost ready to become a republic; but it now murmured at the very name of liberty. Still, notwithstanding the decay of public spirit, some isolated but ardent patriotic passions survived in Ireland.
Deprived of all public means of action, the reformers sought others. The association of United Irishmen still subsisted; but, as it was menaced by law, it acted in the shade instead of the open day. It attacked the government previously at meetings and through the press, or in national conventions, but now it conspired secretly. Formerly, free to consult the nation, it received its instructions from the people, and was more or less obliged to conform to them; now, forced to act secretly, the leaders of the United Irishmen received no mandate but from themselves, and conducted Ireland according to their personal views and passions. The Irish people could no longer dictate to its agents when and how reform should be effected; the leaders were to determine both the moment and the means. Now the chiefs of the popular party, seeing that the nation had fallen again under the yoke, and was too much humbled to rise, believed that Ireland could not effect a revolution by herself. Consequently they resolved to invite a foreign army into Ireland to deliver the country from its fetters. Hence three attempts to invade Ireland were made by France between 1796 and 1798, in consequence of negociations between the Directory and the head of the United Irishmen. Hence arose the fatal insurrection of 1798, and hence, finally, the parliamentary union between England and Ireland, which was completed in 1800.