The removal of Catholic disabilities, too, was carried in the Commons, though rejected in the Lords; and the appointment of Lord Wellesley, an advocate of the Catholic claims, to the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland marked yet another stage in the settlement of a question which, more than anything else at that time, kept Ireland and Irishmen in a state of chronic discontent and agitation.
He became a member of the Whig club founded by Grattan; and he actively co-operated with Theobald Wolfe Tone in founding the Society of the United Irishmen in 1791, of which he became the first secretary.
From this period the history of Ireland naturally becomes intermingled with English politics (see English History), and much of the detail will also be found in the biographical articles on prominent Irishmen and other politicians.
When the Dublin corporation issued a declaration of Protestant ascendancy in 1792, the counter-manifesto of the United Irishmen was drawn up by Emmet; and in 1795 he took the oath of the society in open court, becoming secretary in the same year and a member of the executive in 1797.
Several of the leading United Irishmen, including Reynolds and Hamilton Rowan, immediately fled the country; the papers of the United Irishmen were seized; and for a time the organization was broken up. Tone, who had not attended meetings of the society since May 1793, remained in Ireland till after the trial and suicide of Jackson in April 179.
Although Grattan had a profound contempt for Emmet's political understanding, describing him as a quack in politics who set up his own crude notions as settled rules, Emmet was among the more prudent of the United Irishmen on the eve of the rebellion.
The active participation of the Roman Catholics in the movement of the United Irishmen was strengthened by the appointment of Tone as paid secretary of the Roman Catholic Committee in the spring of 1792.
A commission was given him as adjutant-general in the French army, which he hoped might protect him from the penalty of treason in the event of capture by the English; though he himself claimed the authorship of a proclamation said to have been issued by the United Irishmen, enjoining that all Irishmen taken with arms in their hands in the British service should be instantly shot; and he supported a project for landing a thousand criminals in England, who were to be commissioned to burn Bristol and commit any other atrocity in their power.
The mode of founding a college is, commonly, to get up a subscription of dollars and cents, and then, following blindly the principles of a division of labor to its extreme--a principle which should never be followed but with circumspection--to call in a contractor who makes this a subject of speculation, and he employs Irishmen or other operatives actually to lay the foundations, while the students that are to be are said to be fitting themselves for it; and for these oversights successive generations have to pay.
One who visited me declared that the shadows of some Irishmen before him had no halo about them, that it was only natives that were so distinguished.