O'CONNELL'S HOUSE IN MERRION SQUARE, DUBLIN.
THE MOB BOARDING THE GRAIN SHIP AT GARRY KENNEDY. (See p. 484.)
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While these things had been passing in England, the Revolution in France had been making great strides. The Assembly, after its removal to Paris, passed completely under the influence of the violent Jacobin Club, and the work of destruction and reconstitution proceeded with startling rapidity. By the division of France into Departments all the old territorial arrangements and provincial Assemblies were abolished; the judicial system was re-established on a popular basis, and its dependence on the Crown swept away; the Church was made a department of the State, and its vast property sold, chiefly by means of bills payable in Church lands and called assignats. The position of the king became well-nigh intolerable. There was a chance, indeed, that Mirabeau might extricate him from the toils of his enemies. That great man, now reconciled to the Court, advised him to withdraw from the capital, and throw himself upon the conservatism of the country districts. But the death of Mirabeau in April, 1791, deprived Louis of his only wise adviser, and in June he adopted the ill-judged course of flying from Paris, with the object of making his way across the frontier and joining the enemies of his country. The flight was ill-managed, the royal family were arrested at Varennes and brought back as prisoners to Paris, where they were placed under the strictest surveillance.
The whole of London was thrown into great agitation, and Sir John Anstruther that evening, in the House of Commons, was very severe on the Ministers for not taking more decided measures for the protection of the metropolis. The next day the letter of Sir Francis was taken into consideration. Many severe strictures were made on his conduct, and even Whitbread contended that the Speaker's warrant was perfectly legal, and that Sir Francis had done a great injury to the cause of Reform by stirring up a riot in the prosecution of a constitutional question. There was a call for the expulsion of the Radical baronet from the House; but as this would have produced a new election in Westminster, by which he would certainly have been returned afresh, that was prudently abandoned.
SEIZURE OF SIR WILLIAM MACNAGHTEN. (See p. 495.)
On the 10th of February, 1797, the French made a descent on the Welsh coast, which created much alarm at the time, and no less speculation as to its meaning. Four armed vessels, containing about fourteen hundred men, had appeared in the Bristol Channel, off Ilfracombe, in north Devon. They did not attempt to land there, but stood over to the Welsh coast, and landed in a bay near Fishguard. They were commanded by General Tate, and commenced marching inland, and the whole country was in alarm. Lord Cawdor marched against them with three thousand men, including a considerable body of militia, and they at once laid down their arms and surrendered without a shot. Many were the conjectures as to the object of this descent, and historians have much puzzled themselves about a matter which appears plain enough. The men looked ragged and wild, more like felons than soldiers, and were apparently not unwilling to be made prisoners. They were, no doubt, a part of the great Brest fleet meant for Ireland, which had been driven about by the tempests ever since they quitted that port on the 17th of December, and were only too glad to set foot on any land at all, and probably were by this time so famished and bewildered that they did not know whether they were in England or Ireland. Many of their comrades of the same unfortunate expedition never did see land again.