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Notwithstanding these rejoicings, however, there is no doubt that the imprisonment completely broke the spirit of O'Connell. During 1843 he had been urged forward by the impetuosity and warlike spirit of the Young Ireland party, and the excitement of the monster meetings seems to have filled his mind with the notion that he could really wield the physical power of the country in an actual contest with the Queen's forces. His prison reflections dissipated all such illusions. The enforced inactivity, at his time of life, of one accustomed to so much labour and to such constant speaking, no doubt affected his health. Probably the softening of the brain, of which he died, commenced about this time. At all events he was thenceforward an altered man, excessively cautious and timid, with a morbid horror of war and blood, and a rooted dislike of the Young Ireland leaders, which the Old Ireland party did all they could to strengthen. Mr. Smith O'Brien had been the Conservative member for the county of Limerick, and had been opposed to the Repeal agitation; but the moment O'Connell was arrested, he joined the Association, taking the vacant position of leader, and adopting the policy of the Young Ireland party, which avowedly tended to war and revolution. Boasting of a lineal descent from the conqueror of the Danes at Clontarf, and hailed by some of his admirers as one who had a right to wear his crown, the new convert to Repeal seemed determined to go all lengths for the liberation of[534] his country from the Saxon yoke. O'Connell at first seemed to rejoice in the accession of strength to the cause, but signs of jealousy and dislike were soon manifested. In private there was a marked coolness between the two leaders, and when, at the meetings of the Association, any of the Young Ireland orators gave utterance to martial sentiments, they were promptly called to order by O'Connell; but they revenged themselves by frequently outvoting him in committee, which was a grievous mortification to one so long accustomed to almost absolute rule among his followers. He attended Parliament during the Session of 1845-46, diligently performing his duties as a representative, sitting in committees, and taking part in the debates of the House. During his absence the Young Ireland party gained a complete ascendency in the Repeal Association. Mr. Smith O'Brien, who refused to sit on any committee in the House of Commons not connected with Irish business, and was imprisoned in the cellar for his contumacy, made himself an idol with the revolutionary party at home by his refractory spirit and the perversity of his conduct. The other leaders of that party who exerted the greatest influence were Thomas Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy, D'Arcy M'Gee, and Thomas Meagherall men of superior ability, whose organ, the Nation, exerted great influence throughout the country. Ultimately, a series of "peace resolutions," which were proposed in the Repeal Association, pledging its members to abjure the sword as an instrument for redressing the grievances of Ireland, caused an open rupture between the two parties. The Young Irelanders seceded in a body from Conciliation Hall, and established an organisation of their own"The Irish Confederation." From this time the Repeal rent rapidly fell off, and when O'Connell again returned to Dublin he found that the spell of his enchantment, once so potent, was broken; and the famine came soon after, to consummate his affliction and break his heart. Before the sad close of his public career had arrived, and pending the issue of the State trial, O'Connell had a proof of the magnanimity of the English people, of those Saxons whose national character he had so often assailed and maligned. When he appeared at one of the Anti-Corn-Law meetings in Covent Garden Theatre, his reception by the assembled multitude is described as one of the most magnificent displays of popular enthusiasm ever witnessed. They remembered only that his jury was packed, that his judges were prejudiced, and that he had been for thirty years the able and consistent opponent of the Corn Laws. He declared himself that he was not prepared for such a demonstration, even by the experience of the monster meetings. This great triumph on English ground seemed to infuse new life into the veteran agitator, for his speech on that occasion was one of the finest and most effective he ever delivered.

Hitherto the United Irishmen had obtained little support from the Catholics, who were entirely out of sympathy with the Protestantism of one section of the party, and the irreligion of Wolfe Tone and his immediate associates. They preferred to look to the British Government, and especially to Pitt who was known to be favourable to the Catholic claims. But the Protestants in the Irish Parliament were too strong for him, and only a few remedial measures were passed and those inconsiderable in extent. In 1792 Sir Hercules Langrishe, with the consent of the Government, succeeded in carrying a Bill which admitted Catholics to the profession of the law, removed restrictions on their education, and repealed the Intermarriage Act. In 1793 the Irish Secretary, Major Hobart, succeeded, after much Government pressure, in carrying a second Catholic Relief Bill, admitting Catholics to the grand juries, magistracy, and finally to the franchise, though not to Parliament. Further than that Pitt could not be induced to go. He would neither consent to the admission of Catholics to Parliament, nor would he consent to a measure of Parliamentary reform, though the state of the representation was about as rotten as could possibly be conceived. From an inquiry instituted some years earlier it appeared that out of a House of 300 members 124 were nominated by 53 peers, while 91 others were chosen by 52 commoners. The British ascendency was, in fact, maintained by a system of organised corruption and place-holding, which failed only when religious bigotry carried the day.

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MARSHAL LANNES AT RATISBON. (See p. 587.)

Mr. Goulburn's financial statement was made on the 8th of May, 1844. It comprised some small reductions of taxation, and the foretaste of an important modification of the sugar duties. As a money account it was encouraging, and showed some progress in diminishing the disastrous effects of Whig finance. The past financial year had witnessed a gross surplus of revenue over expenditure of more than 4,000,000; or, after paying the deficiency of the previous year, 2,400,000; and after making other deductions there was, for the first time for many years, an available surplus, amounting to 1,400,000. The anticipated good effects of relieving industry from burdensome taxes had been more than realised. The estimate of the revenue had actually been exceeded by 2,700,000. The Budget, therefore, fully justified the policy of 1842; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer ventured only on a small and timid extension of the principles then laid down, with the reduction or abolition of duty on flint-glass, currants, wool, and some other minor matters. The abolition of the wool duty provoked new hostility to the impolitic duty on cotton. The concession to Free Trade principles was small; but the movement was kept up, and there was at least no sign of reaction.

Meanwhile Buonaparte had taken the route for Troyes and Dijon, ignorant of the rapid advance of the Allies on Paris. Never in any of his campaigns does he seem to have been so ill-informed of the movements of the enemy as at this most momentous juncture. On the 26th of March he was attacked by the flying squadrons of Winzengerode. At Doulaincourt he was startled by learning that Paris was on the point of being assaulted by the Allies. From this place he dispatched one courier after another to command the forces in Paris to hold out, and, ordering the army to march with all speed, he himself entered his carriage and was driven in all haste to Fontainebleau. Thence he was driving to Paris, when, at an inn, called La Cour de France, he met General Belliard with his cavalry, who gave him the confounding information that the Empress, King Joseph, and the Court had fled; that the Allies were in Paris, and a convention was signed. At this news he began to rave like an insane man, blamed Marmont and Mortieras, during his defeats, he had often bitterly upbraided his generals,blamed Joseph, and everybody but himself, and insisted on going to Paris, and seeing the Allies himself, but was at length persuaded to return to Fontainebleau, and ordered his army to assemble, as it came up on the heights of Longjumeau, behind the little river Essonnes.