ROBERT EMMET (1778-1803), Irish rebel, youngest son of Robert Emmet, physician to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, was born in Dublin in 1778, and entered Trinity College in October 1793, where he had a distinguished academic career, showing special aptitude for mathematics and chemistry, and acquiring a reputation as an orator.
Emmet went to Paris in October 1802, where he had an interview with Bonaparte which convinced him that the peace of Amiens would be of short duration and that a French invasion of England might be looked for in August 1803.
The councils of the conspirators were weakened by divided opinions as to the ultimate aim of their policy; and no clearly thought-out scheme of operations appears to have been arrived at when Emmet left Paris for Ireland in October 1802.
Those in his confidence afterwards denied that Emmet was himself the originator of the plan on which he acted; and several of the ablest of the United Irishmen held aloof, believing the project to be impracticable.
Among the latter was Lord Cloncurry, at one time on the executive of the United Irishmen, with whom Emmet dined the night before he left Paris, and to whom he spoke of his plans with intense enthusiasm and excitement.
An elaborate plan of operations, which he described in detail in a letter to his brother after his arrest, had been prepared by Emmet, the leading feature of which was a simultaneous attack on the castle, the Pigeon House and the artillery barracks at Island bridge; while bodies of insurgents from the neighbouring counties were to march on the capital.
On the 23rd of July all was confusion at the depots, and the leaders were divided as to the course to be pursued; orders were not obeyed; a trusted messenger despatched for arms absconded with the money committed to him to pay for them; treachery, quite unsuspected by Emmet, honeycombed the conspiracy; the Wicklow contingent failed to appear; the Kildare men turned back on hearing that the rising had been postponed; a signal expected by a contingent at the Broadstone was never given.
In this hopeless state of affairs a false report reached Emmet at one of his depots at nine o'clock in the evening that the military were approaching.
Without taking any step to verify it, Emmet put on a green and white uniform and placed himself at the head of some eighty men, who marched towards the castle, being joined in the streets by a second body of about equal strength.
Lord Kilwarden, proceeding to a hastily summoned meeting of the privy council, was dragged from his carriage by this rabble and murdered, together with his nephew Richard Wolfe; his daughter who accompanied him being conveyed to safety by Emmet himself.
Emmet, now seeing that the rising had become a mere street brawl, made his escape; a detachment of soldiers quickly dispersed his followers.
After hiding for some days in the Wicklow mountains Emmet repaired to the house of a Mrs Palmer at Harold's Cross, in order to be near the residence of John Philpot Curran, to whose daughter Sarah he had for some time been secretly attached, and with whom he had carried on a voluminous correspondence, afterwards seized by the authorities at her father's house.
Attempting without success to persuade this lady to fly with him to America, Emmet lingered in the neighbourhood till the 25th of August, when he was apprehended by Major H.
By the universal testimony of his friends, Robert Emmet was a youth of modest character, pure motives and winning personality.
Thomas Moore, who warmly eulogizes Emmet, with whom he was a student at Trinity College, records that one day when he was playing on the piano the melody "Let Erin remember," Emmet started up exclaiming passionately, "Oh, that I were at the head of 20,000 men marching to that air!"
The romance of his love affair with Sarah Curran - who afterwards married Robert Henry Sturgeon, an officer distinguished in the Peninsular War - has cast a glamour over the memory of Robert Emmet; and it inspired Thomas Moore's well-known songs, "She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps," and "Oh, breathe not his name"; it is also the subject of Washington Irving's "The Broken Heart."
A few poems by Emmet of little merit are appended to Madden's biography.
Hayes in 1877, and Varina Anne (1864-1898), better known as "Winnie" Davis, the "daughter of the Confederacy," who was the author of several books, including A Sketch of the Life of Robert Emmet (1888), a novel, The Veiled Doctor (1895), and A Romance of Summer Seas (1898).
PETOSKEY, a city and the county-seat of Emmet county, Michigan, U.S.A., on Little Traverse Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of Bear Creek, in the north-west part of the lower peninsula.
THOMAS ADDIS EMMET (1764-1827), Irish lawyer and politician, second son of Robert Emmet, physician to the lordlieutenant of Ireland, and elder brother of Robert Emmet (q.v.), the rebel, was born at Cork on the 24th of April 1764, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Edinburgh University, where he studied medicine and was a pupil of Dugald Stewart in philosophy.
After visiting the chief medical schools on the continent, he returned to Ireland in 1788; but the sudden death of his elder brother, Christopher Temple Emmet (1761-1788), a barrister of some distinction, induced him to follow the advice of Sir James Mackintosh to forsake medicine for the law as a profession.
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.
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.
Thomas Emmet married, in 1791, Jane, daughter of the Rev. John Patten, of Clonmel.
See authorities under EMMET, ROBERT; also Alfred Webb, Compendium of Irish Biography (Dublin, 1878); C. S.
Haynes, Memoirs of Thomas Addis Emmet (London, 1829); Theobald Wolfe Tone, Memoirs, edited by W.