Valentine Lawless Memoir (1849)

Valentine Browne Lawless

Valentine Browne Lawless

Lord Cloncurry’s Recollections of His Life and Times Chapter I. 1773-1795.

Introduction – Birth in 1773 – School Friends – Dublin Schools in 1785-6 – College – House-property in Dublin, in 1791 and in 1801 – The Historical Society – Sojourn in Switzerland – Society of the Swiss Towns in 1793-4 – Its effect upon a young Irishman – The Amenities of war – The Irish Brigade – The French Army – Le Beau Dillon and Pat Lattin – Lausanne.

Notwithstanding the undoubted truth of Solomon’s proposition, that “there is nothing new under the sun,” it has always seemed to me that any man who has lived through three quarters of a century, must have had knowledge forced upon him, which, though not new, would yet, if communicated in a plain tale, teach many a useful lesson to those who are girding themselves for entrance upon that pilgrimage, of whose perils and joys the wisest of the young must always form an inaccurate estimate. Such a tale, honestly told, even though its events would too often fail to serve as beacons to warn against danger, or to point out the true course to the inexperienced voyager through life; yet would it, upon many an occasion, cast a cheering light upon the track through which he was passing, and not seldom sustain courage that would sink under disasters such as an unchastened imagination might look upon as unprecedented and irretrievable. It would (at least so my recollections tell me) do even more and better than this: it would prevent many a disaster, by teaching the most useful of all lessons to a passer through the world – that of forbearance and charity towards those with whom the accidents of his journey bring him into collision. Few of the injuries men suffer from each other would not be rendered less galling were the motives of both parties mutually understood; there are none that would not leave a slighter wound if a kindly view of human nature (such as experience tells me is the true one) were to influence the mind of the sufferer, in forming an estimate of the designs of his occasional opponents.

It is with impressions such as these fresh upon my mind, that I sit down to question my memory upon the occurrences of a life which has been neither short nor uneventful. I have lived during many years, seen many men, suffered and prevailed, been persecuted and honoured; and now, having laboured in my generation with, at least, a hearty desire to serve my fellow-men, I look at the past without even a passing feeling of unkindness, and at the present with, I trust, a reverential gratitude for the large share vouchsafed to me, by a beneficent Providence, of those three cardinal blessings of humanity-health, competence, and respect of men. A beginning and ending that can be thus characterised, constitute of themselves a fact worthy of being recorded; and if it shall excite in the mind of any reader, sufficient interest to induce him to accompany me in my efforts to illustrate it by reminiscences of the events of my life, I will promise him that he shall hear, if not an amusing or eloquent, at least a true tale.

I shall begin with the beginning, by noting that I was born in my father’s house, in Merrion-square, Dublin, on the 19th of August, 1773. I was then a younger son, and (my birth having occurred somewhat prematurely) a weakly child. I was nevertheless a great favourite with both my grandfathers, and continued to hold a high place in their regard up to the period of their deaths, which occurred at very advanced ages, and were occasioned, in the case of my paternal grandfather, by an injury from the kick of a horse; and in the other, I believe, by anxiety and grief, resulting from my protracted imprisonment in the Tower, during the years 1799 and 1800.

The circumstance of my not being an eldest son, I presume, procured for me the advantage of being sent, at the age of eight years, to a public school at Portarlington, where I was roughly enough treated as a “fag,” and, even at that early period, initiated into an experience of the rude course of life. In my case, however, this advantage was not obtained without its accompanying drawback, which came in the shape of a dislocated elbow, occasioned by a fall from a pent-house, from which I was pushed by a boy named Faulkner, afterwards the Sir Frederick Faulkner, who, many years subsequently, committed suicide at Naples. The confinement consequent upon this accident, and, I suppose, some neglect, acted upon the original delicacy of my constitution, and produced a scrofulous complaint, from which I suffered severely for four or five years. The malady was, however, completely rooted out of my system, as is proved by my long and uninterrupted enjoyment of health and strength. At the time, it had the effect of bringing me into the closest and most tender relations with the best and kindest of mothers, towards whom my feelings of respect and affection were never afterwards for a moment blunted.

At the age of 12 years I was placed at the school of the Rev. Dr. Burrowes, at Prospect, Blackrock, very near to my father’s villa of Maretimo, where I remained for about two years. Burrowes was an extremely good-natured and friendly man, possessed of taste and good manners; but he was no scholar, and otherwise ill-suited for his vocation, loving the pleasures of the table, and unfortunately also of the gaming-table. Poor man! I well remember the anxious haste with which he was accustomed to close the daily business of the school, in order that he might be at liberty to repair to Dublin, for the purpose of mingling in the more congenial occupations of the frequenters of the then fashionable clubs. A few years afterwards, in the natural course of things, my poor schoolmaster illustrated the result of the incongruity of his tastes with his profession, by visiting me in college, and borrowing a few pounds to relieve some urgent necessity.

At Prospect, there was among the assistants a Dr. Beatty, an excellent scholar and a most worthy man; but simple as a child, and consequently the martyr of all our schoolboy tricks. There was, at the same time, another assistant, a Master in the University of Dublin, where he was then celebrated under the soubriquet of Beau Myrtle. The very opposite of poor Dr. Beatty, this person was one of the most depraved, vicious, and filthy wretches that ever disgraced the name of man. His character was fortunately discovered, and he was banished from the school before he had time to do much mischief.

For the information of the highly-respectable fraternity of Irish schoolmasters of the present day, I must not omit to mention that Dr. Burrowes’ pupils then (l785-6) numbered from 80 to 100, all of rank, and of the first families in the country-earls, viscounts, lords, and squires. Among my school-fellows whose names I still remember, were Lords Shannon, Ponsonby, Mountcashel, John Creighton (the father of the present Earl of Erne), the last Lord Llandaff, and his brother, Montagu Mathew, the present Bishop of Derry, Lord de Vesci, and the late Knight of Kerry. It was the fashion of that day to educate boys in the community in the midst of which their duties and interests as men required them to live. We were not then sent to learn absenteeism and contempt, too often hatred, for our country, in the schools and colleges of England.

I must not omit to mention one person whose acquaintance I made during this period of my school life, and whose subsequent fate had a melancholy relation with my own. This was poor Trenor, the Master of Elocution in Dr. Burrowes’ household, who afterwards became my companion and secretary, and was accordingly arrested in 1798, at the same time as myself, upon an equally false suspicion of high-treason.

The ill treatment to which he was then subjected ultimately caused his death, which took place shortly after I was enabled, upon my succession to my father, to do something to evince my esteem for his fidelity and sympathy for the sufferings he endured as the consequence of his affectionate attachment to myself.

From the school of Prospect I was sent to the King’s School at Chester, at that time presided over by Dr. Bancroft. This step was taken in accordance with the advice of my father’s excellent friend, Dr. Cleaver, then Bishop of Chester, and Principal of Brazenose College, but who had previously been private secretary to the Marquis of Buckingham, with whom my father was on terms of close intimacy during his residence, as Lord Lieutenant, in Ireland. While at Chester I lived in the family of the Bishop, and was brought by him to Oxford, with the view of being entered of Brazenose College; but I prevailed upon my father to change his intention with respect to my destination, and to permit me to become a member of the university of my native city, from which I graduated in arts in the year 1791; as it happened, upon the day on which my father entertained the Lord Lieutenant (the Earl of Westmoreland) for the first time, at Mornington House, a residence in Merrion-street, which he had just purchased from the late Marquis Wellesley. Among the notabilia of this entertainment, I may mention the presence at it of the Duke of Wellington, who attended as an aid-decamp to the Lord Lieutenant. The locale was subsequently rendered infamous as the nidus of that miserable hatching of corruption, from which the union between the two kingdoms was evolved. Mornington House was rented from my father by Lord Castlereagh during the course of the Union debates, and in it were concocted those plots that ended in overturning the liberties, and arresting the prosperity of Ireland. There also were celebrated, with corrupt profusion suited to the occasion, the nightly orgies of the plotters.

As an illustration of the economical effect of the extinction of Irish independence, I may mention that the house alluded to, which cost my father £8,000 in the year 1791, was sold, the year after the Union, as a part of his personal property, for £2,500. Although still in the best and most fashionable quarter of Dublin, it would not now, in all probability, fetch the odd £500. It is at present occupied by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

My course through the University was not free from storms; a strong antagonism then existing between the youthful patriotism of many of the students, and the bigotry and servility of the heads of the society. Among the latter, my tutor, Dr. Elrington, afterwards Bishop of Ferns, was remarkable. He was a learned man, but stupid and blockish, and thoroughly imbued with the narrowest bigotries of his class and position. It was he who accomplished the suppression of the Historical Society, then obnoxious to all who dreaded progression, as a nursery of genius and patriotism, and as opening a common field whereon the rising generation of Irishmen were learning mutual respect for each other, and, in the generous rivalry of their young ambition, beginning to forget those vain jealousies and discords of creed and caste, whereby alone the common oppressors of all have, for so long and dreary a period, borne rule in the land.

It is with many strangely-mingled feelings of pride and humiliation, of pleasure and sadness, that I call to my recollection, after the lapse of half a century, the games and the athletes of that celebrated arena. The former are now forgotten the latter have, with scarcely an exception, passed from the scene. I will only mention one, and that among the latest surviving of the friendships which I formed at the Historical Society, as affording no bad illustration of its operation upon society at large in Ireland, and the mutual influence of civilization and kindness it was calculated to extend over classes that now have no common meeting-place. The person to whom 1 allude was the late Edward Lawson, of the Irish bar. He was the son of a glazier; but, in the republic of the Historical Society, he became one of the most distinguished and respected chiefs. Between him and me an intimacy then began, in the continuance of which, I am happy to say, I was enabled long afterwards to secure a provision for his declining years. The instance is, perhaps, not worth much; but, in recording it, my design is to mark my regret that there should now be left in Ireland so few points of union between the multiplied grades, classes, and castes of her children.

Shortly after leaving College 1 went to Switzerland, in the year 1792, and remained there about two years. While in that country I resided first at Neufchatel, en pension in the family of a Protestant clergyman named Meuron, and subsequently in a villa at Lansanne. There were a good many English at that time in Switzerland, with most of whom I made acquaintance, which, in some instances, ripened into permanent friendship. Among those whose names I can now call to mind were the present Earl Digby (then Lord Coleshill), with whom I lived in the same house; His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Lord Boringdon (afterwards Earl Morley), Lord Morpeth (father to the present Earl of Carlisle), the Duchesses of Devonshire and Ancaster, Lord Carmarthen (afterwards Duke of Leeds), Lord Cholmondely, and Mr. afterwards Earl Annesley.

During the period of my residence at Neufehatel, it was also visited by Mr. Beckford, the well-known author of “Vathek,” who made his journey in a style that would astonish the princes of the present degenerate days. His travelling menage consisted of about 30 horses, with four carriages, and a corresponding train of servants. Immediately upon his arrival, Mr. Beckford set up a fine yacht upon the lake, and, by his munificent hospitality, soon ingratiated himself with the young Englishmen of rank whose names I have mentioned. The friendship, however, was not of long endurance in the course of a few weeks, letters came from England to Captain Arbuthnot (Earl Digby’s tutor), as the result of which our visits to Mr. Beckford ceased.

My sojourn, during those years, in Switzerland, was attended with circumstances which, no doubt, considerably modified the future events of my life. I left Ireland with a mind freely sown with the seeds of love of country and nationality, and hatred of the oppressions imposed upon the Irish masses by the oligarchy into whose hands the legislative power had fallen. These seeds had begun to germinate under the culture of the Historical Society; their growth was not smothered at Neufchatel, Geneva, and Lausanne. In addition to the English society in which I mixed in these places, I met many officers of the Irish Brigade, [There could not be a better example of the physical advantages of crossing blood, than was afforded by these gentlemen. They were generally the offspring of Irish fathers and French mothers, and were the finest models of men I ever recollect to have seen. Morally, I regret to he obliged to say, they were fashioned somewhat too closely, in certain particulars, in the likeness of the two nations. Brave, spirited, and generous, they were also reckless, dissipated, and profuse.] who had been forced to emigrate from France, and many French patriots of the parties beaten in the struggles of the Revolution, then in the height of its most feverish paroxysm. The former of these, though sufferers in the cause of royalty, and aristocrats by nature and habits, had yet the tale to tell of their father’s expulsion from their country for opinions’ sake; the latter were glowing with the ardour of their recent contests with tyranny and despotism. Surrounded by such society, it was natural that my thoughts should dwell upon the rights of men, the abuses of party domination, and especially of that form of the latter, which had so long held Ireland back in the progress of civilization. Thus my residence in Switzerland sent me home to Ireland more Irish than ever; I lamented her fate, ardently desired to be able to aid in ameliorating it, and became filled with a passionate love of country, which neither persecutions, nor disappointments, nor even the efflux of time, have, I am happy to say, rooted out of my heart.

In the peculiar condition of Europe, and especially of Switzerland (as a neutral state), that country was the scene of many strange occurrences during the period of my visit. I have just referred to the incongruous mixture of society in the Swiss towns, where English people of fortune and rank, and the double exiles of the Irish Brigade, French royalist emigre’s, and repudiated revolutionary patriots, were huddled together in extraordinary, but not uninteresting confusion. Still stranger conjunctions also frequently took place. At Basle, in 1793, I remember to have frequently profited in the increase of my amusements, by the amenities of civilized war. The French under (I think) Hoche were encamped upon one bank of the Rhine, and the Austrians upon the other; but the officers of both armies frequently met, on the most friendly terms, upon the neutral ground of the coffee-houses and hotels of Basle. It was also a common pastime with us to lounge in boats upon the river, while perhaps eight or ten bands from each camp came down to the water’s edge, upon the opposite banks, and played, alternately, the Marseillaise, and Oh, Charles! oh, mon roi!

The French officers were very courteous, inviting the English, whose acquaintance they made, to visit their camp. I recollect availing myself of their civility, and dining and spending a very pleasant day among them; not being influenced by the same sturdy John Bullism as my late friend General Taylor, who was then among our party at Basle. He most loyally declined to accept the republican invitation to dinner, when it was intimated to him that it would be considered prudent as well as polite for the guests to mount a tri-coloured cockade in their hats for that special occasion.

The French camp was a splendid military spectacle, although (as might, indeed, be inferred from the recommendation respecting the cockade just referred to) the discipline of the troops was better adapted for the field of battle than for the cantonment. Immediately prior to the period to which I refer, Le Beau Dillon, a well-known Irish officer, who commanded that portion of the Brigade that remained in the service of the revolutionary government, was dragged out of his cabriolet and murdered by the French soldiers, upon the suspicion of his being influenced by royalist predilections. His aid-de-camp, who was in the carriage with him at the time of his murder, was my late worthy friend Pat Lattin, who immediately afterwards resigned his commission, and retired to his patrimonial estate of Morristown-Lattin, in the county of Kildare, where he lived many years, the centre of a circle of friends, whom he delighted by the brilliancy of his wit, and his eminent social qualities.

I may here anticipate so far as to note that, some some years afterwards, I was able, through the influence of my friend, Marshal Berthier, to procure from Napoleon permission for Mr. Lattin to return to Paris and reside in a house, of which he was the owner, in the Rue Trudon. This was, at the time, esteemed a very great indulgence, as all English subjects were then exposed to the most rigid treatment in France.

Among my personal adventures at Lausanne was a quarrel with a young Scotchman, named Bailey, upon the subject of the comparative merits of our respective countries, in the course of which words grew so high that Bailey challenged me to mortal combat. However, the Rev. Robert Fowler, afterwards Bishop of Ossory, but then a young man just admitted into orders, happening to be present at the dispute, interfered, and it was finally arranged that a duel ought not to take place, under the circumstances, in a foreign country, between British subjects. I was accordingly called upon to apologise, and to admit that, whereas I had said that no Scotch-man was worthy to salute an Irishman in a certain mode, more commonly made the subject of invitation than performance, I felt, upon reflection, that I was totally wrong in making any such assertion, and that I now fully recognised the fitness of all Scotch-men to aspire to such an honour. And so the affair passed off with a laugh, and Bailey and I became excellent friends.

Mr. Fowler did not, however, always distinguish himself as a peacemaker, as I recollect him, upon one occasion, to have been so excited at some revolutionary toast, proposed at a public table in Geneva, that be threw a glass of wine at the head of the Frenchman who filled the office of president – a feat which ended in the whole party spending the remainder of the night in a guard-house.

In connexion with my residence in Switzerland, I have found the following letter among some old papers, and I print it partly as being a contemporary (though slight) tracing of the life that was passing; but perhaps still more as a record, pleasing to myself of the feelings which I then entertained towards a be-loved and most estimable parent

The Hon. V. B. Lawless to the Lady Cloncurry.

Lausanne, June 30, 1793.

“In the midst of the pain, both of body and of mind, with which, spite of your virtues, God has been pleased to visit you, you still have, dearest and best of mothers, showed more anxiety for the well-being of me, to whom you not only gave life, but whose health you have, by so many years of care and difficulty, established, than for your own recovery, for which, if I did not perpetually beseech the Almighty, I should be truly unworthy of such a mother. How I wish for a letter, in which you will yourself assure me of your perfect re-establishment, and how I pray that, on my return to Ireland, I may see you stronger and happier than when I left you.

Be not uneasy on my account, for your parting advice made too strong an impression on me to suffer me to transgress; and my situation is otherwise much better than I could, from my circumstances, have expected. I have got a pleasant little lodging near the lake, about half a mile from town, with a little garden of fruit and vegetables, which are much better than meat during the present insufferable heats. I spend a good while every day in the bath, and at night it is impossible to go to bed, the whole air being on fire with perpetual flashes of lightning. I am almost the only Englishman in Switzerland that has not had a fever. I can’t at present think of making any tour, Meuron having so completely fleeced me before I left him, that 1 came off a third poorer than I expected.

I hope I shall be able to clothe and feed myself without running in debt – a thing I have not as yet done, though it is much the fashion here. Mr. Annesley, who my lord said had but £300 per annum, has £600, half from his father, and half from his uncle, yet he owes upwards of £200 in this town, without having ever travelled. I had already told you that £400 a-year would be enough for me whilst not travelling, and so it will; but for this I shall not be able to take one or two masters I would wish for. One of them is a Mr. Mortimer, an Englishman, acknowledged the best master in Europe for finances, eloquence, and modern history. ‘Twas he that taught Isaac Corry. He now gives lessons to Lord Morpeth, Lord Carlisle’s son, who is my neighbour, and a very accomplished, agreeable young man; and also Mr. Annesley, who, I am afraid, will not profit much. He costs a louis per week: when I am a little richer I shall take him. Otherwise Lausanne is a pleasant town, for you can have as much society as you please without being intruded on. Savoy, which is at the other side of the lake, is full of French, who often fire on boats going by. We have the English and all other newspapers here, but they contain nothing new.

Farewell, dear, dear mother; may God strengthen, and bless, and reward you, for your goodness and kindness to me,

Your ever truly affectionate and dutiful son,

V. B. Lawless.”

Chapter II. 1795.

Ireland in 1795 – My Father’s Settlement in France – Honours of the Church there – His Return to Ireland – Position of the Catholics – An Octogenarian student – Objects of the Irish Patriots after ’82 – The French Invasion – Progress of Ireland – Hopes and Desires of the People – Parliamentary Reform – The Emancipated Irish Legislature – Traffic in Corruption – Efforts of the Patriots – Lord Strangford’s Pension – The United Irishmen – Catholic Emancipation – Protestant Liberality – Humility of the Catholics – The Fatal Enfranchisement of 1793 – Establishment of Religious Discord.

Imbued with such feelings as I have described in the last chapter, I returned to Ireland in the year 1795, and entered at once into manhood, and what I may perhaps call my national life. Before, however, proceeding with my reminiscences of succeeding events, I will pause for a moment to call to mind the actual position of the country and of myself at that period.

My father, who was born about the termination of the first third of the 18th century, was one of the many Irish Roman Catholics who sought, in foreign countries, for liberty to enjoy those privileges of property and talent from which they were debarred in their native land. Very early in life he settled in France, upon a considerable estate, which he purchased at Galville, near Rouen; and there my elder sisters were born. He was not long, however, in finding out that they did not order things much better in France than in Ireland; and that although nominally equal to his neighbours in religious caste, the Church made invidious distinctions in the distribution of her honours among the faithful.

My father, probably having previously experienced more substantial annoyances, was finally so nettled at the partiality shown by the curé, in administering the honours of the censer to a neighbouring seigneur, whom he thought to have no right to be fumigated before himself, that he sold his estate and returned to Ireland, where he conformed to Protestantism, and became thereby qualified to hold a territorial stake in the country.

So far the French priest’s nationality was a fortunate matter for my father and his descendants. He found a good market for his chateau and lands, the ownership of which, 15 years later, would, in all probability, have cost him his head; and he made a good investment of the proceeds in his native country. His first possession in Ireland was the estate and borough of Rathcormac, in the county of Cork; but this he subsequently sold to the first Lord Riversdale, and bought the estates in Limerick, Kildare, and Dublin, which still remain in the family. To the active mind of my father, however, neither the duties nor the rights of landed property afforded sufficient occupation; and he accordingly entered, to a large extent, and with considerable success, into the banking and woollen trades. He also became a member of the Irish House of Commons, was created a baronet in 1776, and removed to the House of Peers in 1789.

This short sketch of my father’s career is, in fact, a practical commentary upon the position of the Irish nation during the latter half of the last century. By the operation of the penal laws, the most energetic and intelligent, and even wealthy Irishmen of the majority were driven into foreign lands, to seek a sphere for the employment of their activity and ability, and a field for the secure enjoyment of the property they inherited, or which those qualities enabled them to accumulate.

Abroad they became bitter foes to the dominant faction in their own country; or if they returned to the land of their birth, it was either as partisans of their former oppressors, to whom a hard necessity served to reconcile them; or as champions of the oppressed, from whose ranks they found themselves so lucky as to have risen. My father, notwithstanding the favours he obtained from the government, enrolled himself from the outset in the latter category; and during his parliamentary career, voted on most important questions upon the popular side.

The turn of his mind was certainly liberal by nature, although he was often influenced by his intimate friends and near neighbours, the first Earl of Clonmel, and John Lees of the Post Office. Under their advice, and probably swayed by a desire to serve me, who was, at the time, imprisoned in the Tower, he voted for the Union; but in the earlier struggles, by which the temporary independence of Ireland was won, as well as upon the question of parliamentary reform, by the failure of which it was subsequently lost, he was to be found fighting in the ranks of the patriots.

The tone of the circle of relatives and intimate acquaintances with which I was then surrounded, was pitched at the same key. My two grandfathers were both Roman Catholics, and smarted under the mortification that must naturally be felt by the most kindly-hearted men, when they find themselves debarred from the reasonable enjoyment of advantages of wealth and social standing, their claim to which they are not conscious of having forfeited by any personal shortcomings.

With one of these parents, then near 80 years old, but in the full vigour of a green old age, I took up housekeeping upon my return to Ireland, in 1795, in a small house in Merrion-row, close to my father’s residence; and a merry, hospitable house we kept: but in our late sittings after dinner (which were then the fashion) we seldom failed to have our political discussions, all tending in the same direction. My grandfather was, of course, a complainant; and I well remember the cordial sincerity with which he expressed his theory as to the primary cause of division and discord among Irishmen, and the consequent retardation of national prosperity, in his constant saying, “curtail the clergy.”

My father’s land-agent, Thomas Broughall, [Mr. Broughall was a man of great energy of mind and body. He had been educated, in his youth, at Douay; but feeling conscious of some provincialism in his accent, he took advantage of the peace of Amiens, and went to Paris, when close upon his 80th year, for the express purpose of correcting his pronunciation of the French language. Before he had made much progress, la grippe interfered with his studies, and carried him off.] and his solicitor, Matt. Dowling, were still more active patriots than my grandfather. They were both most zealous and faithful servants and good friends of my father; and so I was naturally upon terms of such close intimacy with them, as brought their sentiments and feelings into operation to confirm in my mind the opinions already planted there, with regard to the condition and prospects of my country

Nevertheless, 1 am firmly convined, that at the period of which I speak, the liberal opposition, which included so great a majority of the Irish people, was altogether untouched by treason. The men to whom I have referred – and they were fair types of the mass – were influenced by a desire to improve their own condition, to escape from bondage, by constitutional means, and by these alone. They belonged to the moral force party of that day; and that party, I sincerely believe, included in its ranks the vast majority of the nation; nor was a recourse to physical force or foreign aid thought of, until desperation succeeded to hope in the public mind.

For the still higher purity of the motives of the Protestant martyrs and champions in the cause of Irish liberty, I can answer with equal confidence. Of my dear friend, Edward Fitzgerald, of the Emmetts, and of Sampson, I can say, with not less certainty than of Grattan, Curran, Arthur O’Connor, and the late Duke of Leinster, that they were all, at the outset of their career, actuated by the most earnest love of the British constitution ; and that the truly patriotic object at which they aimed, was nothing else than the extension to Ireland of those blessings and guarantees of liberty, civil and religious, the principles of which are engrained in the texture of the constitutional monarchy of England.

If any of the excellent and single-hearted men whose names I have mentioned, not counting the cost of their enterprise, stepped out too boldly upon the foot-tracks of the founders of that monarchy, the blame of ill success, and of wrong estimation of the value of the tools with which they worked, must, indeed, be theirs; but in the merit of good intent, they must be permitted to share, on equal terms, with their English predecessors of 1688; while the infamy of having driven sincere lovers of their country from the position of parliamentary reformers to that of armed rebels, as equally lies upon the ministers of George III., as upon the personal royalty of James II.

Of the truth of these views of the actual position and dispositions of Irish politicians at the close of the 18th century, many incidents in my father’s life furnished no bad illustrations. He maintained a friendly and respectful intercourse with the viceregal court, and was upon terms of familiar intimacy with several viceroys, among whom I may mention the Marquis of Buckibgham and the Earl of Westmorland. With his sanction, I was the chief promoter of the Rathdown Association, a voluntary organization of noblemen and gentlemen, established for the purpose of maintaining the public peace, and protecting property in the populous district lying between Dublin and Bray – a purpose then but little served by the imperfect police of those days.

I was also, at the same time, an officer in a corps of yeoman cavalry, commanded by Colonel Corry, brother of the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, and acted with them at the time of the threatened French invasion, an incident connected with which I may mention as further bearing out my position. When the news of the landing at Bantry reached Dublin, there was an encampment at Loughlinstown, in the county of Dublin, from which it was desired to move the troops towards the seat of danger. The desire, however, was not backed by the means. There was not a farthing in the military chest. In this dilemma, application was made to my father for aid, and by an advance of £45,000 made by him, the government was enabled to break up the camp, and march its occupants southward. [The movement was made so suddenly, that there was not time to bury the body of a paymaster of one of the regiments, who shot himself on the morning of the breaking up of the camp, in consequence of the discovery of a defalcation in his accounts. The body was locked up in the hut occupied by the unfortunate man during life, and upon the return of the troops from the south, it was found to have been completely anatomized by rats. Nothing but the skeleton remained.]

Coupled with the general feeling of dissatisfaction with the past, there existed in Ireland during the last decade of the 18th century, a strong desire for national progress, rendered active and impatient by the successes of ’82, and by some degree of disappointment at the still incomplete development of that prosperity which was too sanguinely looked for as the direct and immediate consequence of political advancement. That an immense progress in material prosperity did take place during the 18 years that preceded the Union, is a fact now rendered but too striking by the depression that succeeded that fatal measure, and that has permanently kept down the country during half a century; but the “before and after” of the political courtship were not then visible to the people; and not knowing how miserable a contrast was soon to be opposed to their existing state, men, feeling within them a new sense of power, became discontented that its products did not come to use more promptly, and in greater abundance.

Having acquired freedom of trade, our merchants and manufacturers thought they should at once see Liverpools, Bristols, and Manchesters springing up in the land, and forgot by how slow degrees and through how long an enjoyment of the liberty of industry such results were attained to in the sister kingdom. Then recurred the idea of the Volunteers and their noble work; and, dazzled with the splendour of that victory, the people looked for the improvement of their material condition too much to politicalchanges, and too little to the more certain means of patient and farseeking industry. Here the popular impatience gave an important advantage to those who desired nothing less than either the commercial prosperity or political advancement of Ireland. English statesmen were enabled to point to it as a proof that the nation was unfitted for self-government; that the extension of their franchises but served to render them less reliant upon their own resources, and more disposed to adopt political agitation as a trade. The argument was used with skill and power, when the destruction of Irish independence became the great object of England.

By the higher classes of Irishmen, the same end – their own political inhumation – was, by another course, not less actively approached. When the legislative freedom of the Irish Parliament was established, the more forward and farseeing of the patriots at once perceived that, unless the legislature was pure as well as free, its independence could not endure. The English minister must have the support of a majority in the Irish as well as in the English House of Commons: it was not to be expected that he would seek to secure this by popular measures, if the easier alternative of commanding it by corruption should lie within his reach. That alternative was provided by the existence of upwards of eighty patronage boroughs, and by the restriction of the elective franchise to a minority of the people.

To new struggles for the emancipation of the Roman Catholics, and for the reform of the representative system, the patriot leaders therefore turned their arms as soon as they had achieved the victory of ’82. It was these all-important questions that, during the ensuing 18 years, divided Irishmen, and ultimately rendered them up a weakened and easy prey to their common enemy.

The first step of the victors of ’82 was an endeavour to purify the representation; the next, an attempt to obtain Catholic Emancipation. “We moved,” said Grattan, “a reform of parliament, which should give a constitution to the people, and the Catholic Emancipation, which should give a people to the constitution.” [In his address to the citizens of Dublin, on retiring from parliament in 1797.] The former measure was obstinately and successfully resisted; the latter was partially conceded, but in such a manner as to entail upon the country that mass of moral and physical misery that now renders Ireland a spectacle to the nations.

Both the resistance and the concession actively co-operated in bringing about the distractions of 1797, and the disastrous Rebellion of 1798, and as these events materially influenced my own personal fortunes, I will dwell a little longer upon their causes.

The first in order of the two causes of Irish discord and ruin to which I refer, was the question of Parliamentary Reform. When it was pressed upon the consideration of the House of Commons by the Convention of Volunteers in 1783, the zeal – perhaps a little exceeding discretion – evinced by some members of that celebrated body, and the caution-perhaps much exceeding prudence-of others, created an occasion for difference of opinion between many excellent Irishmen who, up to that point, had stood shoulder to shoulder in the patriot ranks. The appearance in the house, upon the celebrated night of the 29th November, 1783, of the advocates of reform, in the uniform and arms which they wore as delegates to the Convention, naturally alarmed many men who, while they earnestly desired the independence of their country, wished to seek it through the use of those constitutional means whereby the recent victory had been gained:-

“Blessed,” said Mr. Yelverton, “with a free trade and a free constitution – our peers restored to their rights and to their lawful authority – our judges rendered independent – the manacles fallen from our commons – all foreign control abolished – we take our rank among nations as a free state. And is this a time to alter that constitution, which has endured so many storms, and risen superior to all oppression? Will the armed associations, wise as they may be, be able to form a better though they reject this? Before they have for a single session entered into the enjoyment of it, like children, they throw away the bauble for which, with all the eagerness of an infantine caprice, they have struggled ; or; like spendthrifts, they would make away with their inheritance before they enter into possession of it.”

The borough proprietors gladly availed themselves of such help as was afforded in this argument, and of such defenders as Yelverton, and Daly, and Conolly, and that night the fatal blow was inflicted upon the independence of Ireland by the unanimous adoption, by Lords and Commons, of an address to the crown, declaring “perfect satisfaction in our present happy constitution.”

The Irish legislature, at that time, consisted of a House of Lords, of which 53 peers nominated 123 members of the other branch; and of a House of Commons of 300 so-called representatives of the people, scarcely one-third of whom were freely and fairly returned by popular election. That such a body could have achieved so much as they did in ’82, was truly wonderful; but that they should feel perfect satisfaction with their own share in the benefits of that achievement, was only natural. They had indeed vindicated freedom of trade and judicial independence for the masses of their fellow-countrymen, but they had also secured for themselves a monopoly of the pleasures and profits of legislative power.

Even at that early period that monopoly had begun to bear golden fruits for its owners. Possessing an uncontrolled power of using the public purse, the Irish government had set themselves to counterwork the popular progress of the past year, by an extension of the system of corruption which, a few years previously, was in such active operation as to warrant an attorney-general in avowing that a single address of thanks to Lord Townshend, had cost the nation half a million of money. [This infamous avowal was made in the House of Commons on the 25th of February, 1789, upon the occasion of Mr. Grattan’s motion for a short supply.] The House of Commons had bought their country, and the House of Peers had sold it, and both meaning to pursue the infamous traffic, with activity increased in proportion to the increased value of the subject of their bargains, felt “perfect satisfaction” in the happy constitution that made them the masters of so prosperous a commerce.

Very different, however, were the feelings of the people; and the proceedings prior to the attainment of the political and commercial independence of Ireland having been the means of training them in a course of agitation, and having also inspired them with confidence in the success of popular exertion, the satisfaction of their quasi representatives with the existing state of things, but served to render them more anxious for a change. Accordingly, the parliamentary proceedings of 1783, to which I have alluded, only stimulated the zeal of the Reformers, and they continued, during the ensuing two years, to agitate the subject of the purification of the legislature, through the medium of public meetings, conventions, and congresses, all of which movements were met by the government by increased restrictions on freedom – the steps necessary to the imposing of which being, in every case, an advance in the career of parliamentary corruption.

Nevertheless, it was not until the crisis of the plague of venality and bribery was reached in 1791, that the people appear to have abandoned the hope of succeeding in their object by strictly constitutional methods. In that year Mr. Grattan made his splendid but fruitless effort, upon the “Responsibility Bill;” and a vigorous struggle against the increase of ministerial influence and corruption, begun by him on the first night of the session, was energetically carried on by Messrs. George Ponsonby, Conolly, and Forbes; and by Lord Portarlington and the Duke of Leinster in the House of Lords. But the war was waged with unequal forces: on the one side, indeed, was the noblest patriotism, backed by the most brilliant genius; on the other, the purse of the nation, and the power of the minister to open it to the servile partisan, and to close it against the justest claims of the patriot, whom his conscience pressed more closely than his poverty

In the same year, 1791, Mr. Grattan also moved an amendment to the address, deprecating “the great increase of ministerial influence and corruption, and requesting his Majesty to apply a remedy to the growing evil, by abolishing unnecessary and burthensome places and establishments.” It was, however, rejected by a large majority, as was a similar proposition brought before the House of Lords by Lord Portarlington. My excellent friend, however, again returned to the charge, upon the occasion of the creation of two new Commissioners of the Revenue, when his motion for an address to the King was seconded by Mr. Conolly, but rejected by a majority of more than 50 votes.

The pension-list was next attacked by Mr. Forbes, who was also beaten. Mr. George Ponsonby then came to the rescue, but with no better success; he, too, was defeated by a large majority, on his motion to represent to his Majesty “that his faithful Commons, having taken into consideration the growth of public expense in the last year, could not but observe many new and increased salaries annexed to offices granted to members of that house, no fewer in number than 14; that so rapid an increase of places, together with the number of additional pensions, could not but alarm the house, and though they could never entertain a doubt of his Majesty’s affection and regard for his loyal kingdom of Ireland, yet they feared that his Majesty’s servants may, by misinformation, so far have abused his Majesty’s confidence, as to have advised such measures for the purpose of increasing influence.”

But a climax was set upon the fabric of corruption by the withdrawal of a pension of £400 a-year from Lord Strangford, on account of certain independent votes given by him in his place in Parliament – an event which led to the proposal in the House of Lords, by the Duke of Leinster, of the following remarkable resolution:- “Whereas the Lord Viscount Strangford has been deprived of a pension which, at the request of this house, his Majesty was graciously pleased to grant him until an adequate provision should be made for him in his own line of profession: and whereas no cause has been suggested or communicated to the noble lord for such mark of his Majesty’s displeasure: the house, therefore, has every ground to believe, that the same had reference to his conduct in parliament in the last sessions; and declare and resolve that the adviser of the measure acted disrespectfully to this house, unconstitutionally, and undutifully to his Majesty.” This motion was rejected by a majority of 20 peers, and became the subject of a manly protest, which was signed by the Duke of Leinster, the Bishops of Cork and Clonfert, and by Lords Moira, Arran, Farnham, Charlemont, and Portarlington.

With these transactions of 1791 appear to have ended the hopes of the people, that the desired object of representative reform could he attained by constitutional efforts in parliament, and in that year, accordingly, the Society of United Irishmen was originated; conceived, says Arthur O’Connor, in the memoir to government signed by him and his fellow-prisoners, Thomas Addis Emmett and Dr. M’Nevin, in “the idea of uniting both sects (Catholics and Protestants) in pursuit of the same objects, a repeal of the penal laws, and a reform, including in itself an extension of the right of suffrage to Catholics.” Nothing beyond these objects was at first thought of by the originators of that organization.

“During the whole existence of the Society of United Irishmen of Dublin” (I quote from the memoir just referred to), “we may safely aver, to the best of our knowledge and recollection, that no such object as separation from England was ever agitated by its members, either in public debate or private conversation; nor until the society had lasted a considerable time, were any traces of republicanism to be met with there. Its views were purely and in good faith what the test of the society avows.”

That test I took on becoming a United Irishman, before the society was rendered illegal by a coercive statute. It was then unaccompanied by any obligation to secrecy, and bound the taker as follows:- “To promote a union of friendship between Irishmen of every religious persuasion, and to forward a full, fair, and adequate representation of all the people in parliament.”

Coincidently with the struggle for representative reform, that for the emancipation of the Roman Catholics was ardently prosecuted by the Irish patriots, and (the fact is a remarkable one) with infinitely more vigour and zeal by the Protestants than by those with whom they proposed to share their exclusive privileges. Thus, while the representatives of 143 corps of Protestant volunteers at Dungannon resolved (with two dissentient voices), “That they held the right of private judgment in religion to be equally sacred in others as in themselves, and that, therefore, as men and as Irishmen, as Christians and as Protestants, they rejoiced in the relaxation of the penal laws against their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and conceived the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland” – while these noble sentiments were expressed by the dominant class, that which was oppressed declared through their representatives in the general committee of Roman Catholics, that they would be content with such maimed and halting concessions as the following

1. Admission to the profession and practice of the law.

2. Capacity to serve in county magistracies.

3. A right to be summoned and to serve on grand and petty juries.

4. The right of voting in counties only for Protestant members of parliament, in such a manner, however, as that a Roman Catholic freeholder should not vote, unless he either rented and cultivated a farm of £20 per annum, in addition to his 40-shilling freehold, or else possessed a freehold of £20 a-year.

Of this poverty of spirit among the Roman Catholics the government did not fail to take advantage, and finding that portion of the nation so willing to be made use of, they determined to qualify it to he employed in the work of corruption. In this spirit the Relief Bill of 1793 was passed – that fatal measure to which I have already pointed as the ultimate cause of every succeeding calamity of Ireland. By this act, the lower classes of Roman Catholics were endowed with the elective franchise, while the wealthier and more intelligent

[Resolutions entered into by the Roman Catholic Committee, on the 4th of February, 1792, upon the occasion of the introduction of Sir Hercules Langrishe’s Relief Bill. (It’s unclear where this footnote fits in – somewhere between “laws against their Roman Catholic fellow-subject” and “the more intelligent” KF))]

members of the body were excluded from seats in either house of parliament. The inevitable consequences of so mischievous an absurdity were clearly foreseen and predicted at the time by many patriotic men. They were not developed in their maturity until the visitation of the famine of 1846 vindicated the paramount authority of the laws of nature, and exhibited to the world a signal instance of retributive punishment of their violators.

The concession of the forty-shilling franchise to the Roman Catholics had the immediate effect of stimulating to an extraordinary degree the progress of parliamentary corruption. A new trade sprung up in the country; men speculated on the multiplication of forty shilling freeholders, as they ought to have done in the breeding of sheep. The minister opened the national purse wider and wider, and the Protestant squires strove for its contents, each backed by as large a following of servile voters as it was possible for his lands to maintain.

In the prosecution of such a slave-traffic, the productive powers of the potato afforded invaluable aid. By the use of no other species of food could so large a number of human beings be raised upon so small an area of soil. This was the consummation to he desired when every adult male was a unit in the price of a peerage or baronetcy, or equally available towards the purchase of the more substantial benefit of a well-endowed sinecure. The potato was grown, and freeholders were bred until the former wore out the soil, and the latter multiplied from droves of useful and obedient slaves into swarms of hungry, restless vermin. The work of their destruction was then taken in hand with as little regard to justice or mercy as was shown at their creation.

The forty-shilling franchise was abolished in 1832; [It must not be forgotten that this reaction upon the measure of 1793, by which the accomplishment of its fatal effects was hastened, was the work of Mr. O’Connell. The forty-shilling freeholders of Clare forced him into parliament, and thereby brought upon themselves the vengeance of their former masters; he assented to their political destruction (the forerunner of their personal annihilation) within three years after the date of the Clare election.] but the forty-shilling freeholders remained to encumber the laud, and to torment, to the second and third generation, those who called them into a miserable existence.

The laws of nature are immutable and inevitable; the political monopoly of 1793 contained within itself the elements of the dissipation of those unlawful gains, for the accumulation of which it was devised. The substance of many a lord and squire of high degree, made out of the voices of his forty-shilling voters, has been eaten up during the two years that have passed, by the mouths of the children of those serfs whom his progenitors had chained to the soil.

Thus, no sooner had the Irish legislature secured its own independence of England than it sold itself again to the English minister by private contract. The nation witnessed the bargain, and striving to break it by the agency of representative reform, the struggle divided the people from the parliament. The latter, aided for their destruction by the English government, sought to strengthen themselves by again dividing the people: they bought the Catholics with a niggard price, and having once separated them from the grand national army, and erected distinct standards for Catholic Emancipation and for Reform, they rendered a new junction all but impossible, by subsidizing the Protestants.

By an exclusive distribution among these of the public patronage, they joined them to their own ranks as a mercenary body-guard of corruption. The events of the rebellion of 1798 widened the breach between the two sets of religionists, and the catastrophe of the miserable story was the Union, the consummation of which, it must never be forgotten, was the direct result of the religious discord, whose rise and growth I have thus slightly sketched.

Chapter III.


Become a student of the Middle Temple – Hear of the Projected Union from Mr. Pitt – Consequent Essay in pamphleteering – London Acquaintance – John Macnamara – Mr. Macnamara, the London Agent of Irish Politicians – His Mode of Conducting the Business of his Agency – His Sunday Parties at Streatham – John Home Tooke – John Reeves – Colonel Despard – Progress of Irish Politics – Become a Supporter of the “Press and a United Irishman – Approaching Conflict of Parties – Murder of Christopher Dixon – Judge Toler’s Charge at the Trial of the Murderer – Kildare petition – Interference of the Government – Correspondence with Secretary Pelham – Withdrawal of the Patriot Members from parliament – Mr. Grattan’s Addresss – Suspicions of the Government – Correspondence with Under-Secretary Cooke – Lord Clonmell – A bra Pleasura.

Shortly after my return from Switzerland, in 1795, I entered as a student of the Middle Temple – a step which rendered it necessary for me to pay frequent visits to London. During one of these, I happened to meet Mr. Pitt at dinner, at the house of John Macnamara, in Baker-street; and there, for the first time, heard of the contemplated project of a union between Great Britain and Ireland. The news naturally acted as a ferment upon my notions of patriotism and nationality, the product of which was, the publication of a pamphlet under the tide of “Thoughts on the Projected Union.” This brochure, which was published by Moore of College-green, was, I dare say, of no great intrinsic value ; but it was the first blow at the” ministerial scheme, and was, therefore, honoured by a special reply from the pen of Mr. Edward Cooke, then Under-Secretary of State for Ireland. My essay in literature, as will be afterwards seen, cost me as heavy price.

My occasional sojourn in London, during the years of my studentship at the Temple, brought me into contact with some remarkable men, of whom I must endeavour to sketch a few traits.

Of one of these – John Macnamara – I have just mentioned the name. With him I had become acquainted in Switzerland; and upon meeting him again in London, I found him noted as a high Tory politician, and upon intimate terms with Mr. Pitt. He had, a few years before, taken a very active part against Mr. Fox, in the celebrated contest for the representation of Westminster, in the course of which he got his skull fractured, and was thus beaten into a sort of celebrity, that was much increased by a horrible event, in which he was in some degree an actor. I allude to the murder of Miss Ray, a distinguished actress of the day, who was shot through the head by a clergyman named Hackfall, while leaving the theatre, leaning upon the arm of John Macnamara. I have often heard him describe the scene (which naturally made a great noise at the time) with frightful distinctness – the sudden assault of the assassin, the instantaneous death of the victim, and the spattering of the poor girl’s brains over his own face, made a terrible tale.

There was also, among the notables of London of that day, another Macnamara, whose position was very curiously illustrative of the state of society at the time, and especially of the character of the relation that subsisted between the two kingdoms.

Mr. Macnamara, to whom I now refer, notwithstanding the impediments of being an Irishman and a Roman Catholic, was, in the latter part of the last century, a very celebrated conveyancer in London; and, from his position, upon terms of the closest intimacy with the highest members of the legal profession. He was also land-agent, or steward, to the Duke of Bedford; but the most extraordinary of his occupations was that of London agent for political affairs to several of the public men of Ireland. In that capacity he was retained by Lord Clonmel, then Chief Justice, at a regular salary of £400 a-year.

He was, in like manner, bound to the service of several other Irish politicians, by stipends fixed at various rates; and even my father, who was neither placeman nor placehunter, constantly paid him £100 a-year What his duties in this strange employment were it would not be easy to define: his commission was a general one-to take care of the interests of his employers at the Court, and to keep them informed in reference to all political events that might concern them individually, or the country.

To realise to one’s mind, now-a-days, any conception of the uses of so singular an office, one must first forget the fact that 13 hours now suffice for a journey to London, which can be performed with scarcely as much fatigue as would attend a ride of 30 miles; and must next call to memory the correlative fact that, at the period of which I write, a dangerous and often tedious sea passage, and a laud journey of two or three days, was to be got over, in accomplishing the same purpose.

Consequently, information which an Irish Chief Justice, or peer, or even a placehunting barrister, could, at the present time, get for himself, by running over to the seat of government, at the cost of a few pounds and an absence of three or four days, would, in the last century, have been unattainable in time for use but for the services of such an agent as Mr. Macnamara. Unfortunately for Ireland, Irish politicians of this day enjoy a fatal facility for absenteeism, of which they are but too ready to avail themselves.

At the period of my early visits to London, Mr. Macnamara’s mode of conducting the business of his agency was infinitely more interesting to me than the nature of the business itself; and a strange mode it was. His table was open to his Irish employers and their connexions; and there was to be met the elite of the London society of the day. At his villa at Streatham, near Croydon, where his hospitality shone out with the greatest brilliancy, his larder was a sort of public curiosity, and was usually shown to his visitors as such. It was always provisioned as for a siege, which, in fact, it sustained every Sunday, when a large, and very often a most agreeable, dinner-party assembled. On these occasions it was no unusual event for the Prince of Wales to attend uninvited, as did also men of the highest rank and note in both houses of parliament.

Having a general invitation, I was frequently a Sunday guest at Streatham, and made many lasting acquaintanceships during those pleasant symposia, the agreeability of which was, however, sometimes diversified by an afterpiece in the fashion of the time.

I remember, upon one Sunday night, coming up just in time to save Lord and Lady William Russell from being rifled by highwaymen on Blackheath. They had left Streatham before me, but I drove up to their rescue about ten minutes after they had fallen into the hands of some gentlemen of the road, who took a hasty departure upon hearing the approach of my carriage. Such events as this were of daily occurrence in the neighbourhood of London in those days, and excited but little attention.

About this period, also, I became acquainted with another and a much more remarkable man than Macnamara – the celebrated John Horne Tooke. My first meeting with him was not an auspicious one, as we commenced our knowledge of each other by a quarrel. The occasion was a public dinner in commemoration of some political event, at which, for what reason I know not, I was asked to preside. After dinner, Horne Tooke (whether moved by an accidental fit of ill-humour, or by displeasure at some part of my presidential conduct, I could not find out) suddenly broke out into a violent attack upon me, which, at the time, rather disturbed the harmony of the company; but ended in our becoming excellent friends.

I was afterwards in the frequent habit of dining with him, at a cottage at Wimbledon Common, where he resided, supporting himself chiefly, I believe, upon the produce of his literary industry. These, too, were pleasant parties. Among the guests were Sir Francis Burdett, a Colonel Boswell, the two Perrys (one of them editor of the Morning Chronicle), and sometimes Curran.

My reminiscences of those days would, indeed, be very imperfect, if they did not include a recollection of my excellent friend John Reeves, the author of a “History of the Law of England;” but better known as the object of prosecution by the House of Commons, for the publication of ultra-Toy opinions. The corpus delicti was a pamphlet, entitled “Thoughts on the English Government,” in which Mr. Reeves maintained, that “with the exception of the advice and consent of the two houses of parliament, and the interposition of juries,” the government of England is absolutely monarchical; that it might go on, in all its functions, without Lords and Commons; resembling a stately tree, of which the king is the stem, and the estates of parliament only branches – goodly, it is true, but which might be lopped off, and the tree remain a tree still; “shorn, indeed, of its honours, but not, like them, cast into the fire.”

This theory was, in the year 1795, pronounced by the House of Commons, at the instance of Mr. Sheridan, to be a scandalous and seditious libel; and poor John Reeves was accordingly prosecuted by the Attorney-General, brought to trial, and acquitted.

It was not, however, in the power of prosecution or persecution to beat an idea out of John Reeves’ head; and accordingly he held by his theory to the last with as much constancy as Voltaire’s Optimist. To the day of his death he continued to seal his letters with an impression of his emblem of the British constitution – a goodly oak, surmounted by the motto, “Quiet good sense.” One of these letters, so sealed, has just fallen under my hand; and though not chronologically in place here, I will insert it, as illustrating the sentiments of a man who was made the subject of a state prosecution some five years prior to its date

John Reeves, Esq. to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

7th August, 1800.

“My dear Madam – I have the honour of your letter, and I am very happy to be able to answer the main of your inquiry to your satisfaction – that is, your brother is in very good health. Last time I was with him he borrowed some books of me – Gibbon and Clarendon. I own I rather persuaded him to have Clarendon; for Gibbon was the book he wanted. Clarendon’s history contains the origin of all our political and party questions: they are there set in their true light, such as will ever after be a guide in forming a judgment upon the merits of such claims.

I saw in the paper the account of the Irish Parliament meeting for the last time. I protest I am so much of an Irishman as to sympathise in the feelings that most of those present must have had. The Union may be believed to be a good measure; but it is an experiment, and then the splendour and pride of a parliament is gone for ever. These are natural feelings. We are to hope it is for the best. I myself have no doubt about it, except the doubt that must accompany all human attempts at improvement.

Well, we are all one now: you and I are countryfolks; that is, we shall be so on 1st January, 1801. As yet it is only an espousal; the Union will be then.

I do not hear of Lady Clonmell: indeed I have not sent, taking it for granted she would do me the favour to acquaint me with her arrival. She was to be here on 1st August.

I say nothing to you upon the other inquiry you naturally make about our friend: you, as well as he, must live in hope.

Pray make my best rememembrance to your sisters, and to Lady Clonmell, if she is still with you, and believe me,

My dear Madam, ever truly yours,

John Reeves.”

In one respect John Reeves was himself an excellent type of a despotic monarchy. He was the most noted pluralist of the day; uniting in his own person the offices of Chief Justice of Newfoundland, of a Bow-street Police Magistrate of London, of a Commissioner of Bankrupts, of Secretary to the Board of Trade, and finally of prime mover of the Crown and Anchor Association.

The duties of these various employments it was, of course, physically impossible for any man to fulfil; but the emoluments of them were, no doubt, duly received, and were as duly invested in the performance of many kind acts, and in the purchase of a most extensive library, with which the houses he occupied successively in Thanet-place, Cecil-street, and Duke-street, literally overflowed.

The remembrance of Mr. Reeves suggests to my memory another individual with whom he and I became acquainted together, and whose name I am anxious to contribute my aid to rescue from the load of opprobrium placed upon it, as the coping of a series of misfortunes and persecutions such as few men in latter times have been made to suffer. I allude to the gallant and unfortunate Colonel Despard. This gentleman, who was of Irish birth, highly educated, and gifted with the most fascinating manners, had commanded in the West Indies, at Honduras, and on the coast of South America. In the course of his service he was the Companion and friend of Nelson; and during his co-operation with that celebrated officer, at the taking of Honduras, in zeal for the public cause, he advanced large sums of money from his own resources, for the promotion of the operations of the war.

For this, as well as for his gallantry and ability, he was thanked by parliament, but not repaid. On his arrival in England, he naturally pressed his claims for repayment upon the ministry; and, irritated by the delays and difficulties thrown in his way by officials, he indulged in strong and angry expostulations, which only had the effect of converting the apathy of those persons into violent animosity.

From the ill treatment of the ministry, poor Despard appealed to the House of Commons; but his claims being supported by the opposition, were the more certain of rejection, and he was still left without redress. He then fell into pecuniary difficulties, became excited to desperation, wrote violent letters to ministers, and, having joined the London Corresponding Society, was taken up under the act for suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus, and confined in Coldbath Fields prison.

His case was again brought before parliament by Sir Francis Burdett and Mr. Dundas (not Pitt’s friend); and then, for the first time, I became acquainted with the circumstances. I had never seen Colonel Despard; but having been much affected by reading the story of his oppressions and misfortunes, as told in the discussion in the Rouse of Commons, I got my friend Mr. Reeves to accompany me, in his capacity of a magistrate of Middlesex, on a visit to Coldbath Fields. We found the colonel, who had served many years in tropical climates, imprisoned in a stone cell, six feet by eight, furnished with a truckle-bed and a small table. There was no chair, no fireplace, no window. Scanty light was admitted into this miserable abode through a barred but unglazed aperture over the door, which opened directly into a paved yard, at the time covered with snow.

Mr. Reeves, whose toryism never interfered with the promptings of his kindly and benevolent heart, at once took up Despard’s case, and, by his influence with his brother magistrates, he got him removed to an upper room, provided with chairs and a fireplace, where his wife was allowed to visit him, after a long separation. She was a Spanish creole, a remarkably fine woman, and much younger than her husband, who then appeared to be about 60 years of age.

I may as well now finish this episode of poor Despard’s history. From the winter of 1797 until the spring of 1801, I did not see him, and during most of that time I believe he was in confinement. As I passed through London, on my way to the Continent, in 1802, he called to see me; but was then so wan and worn, that he looked like a man risen from the grave. Of the unsound state of his mind, the following anecdote may convey some notion. In talking over the condition of Ireland, he told me that though “he had not seen his country for 30 years, he never ceased thinking of it and of its misfortunes, and that a main object of his visit to me was to disclose his discovery of an infallible remedy for the latter – viz., a voluntary separation of the sexes, so as to leave no future generation obnoxious to oppression.” This plan of cure would, he said, defy the machinations of the enemies of Ireland to interrupt its success.

Three years after this conversation, this poor madman – made mad by official persecution – was executed for a plot to take the Tower. I was afterwards able to afford his wife an asylum from destitution. She lived in my family at Lyons for some years.

During the years from 1795 to 1797 my time was passed between London and Dublin, and as events progressed in Ireland, I began to take a more active and decided part in the angry politics of the day. The course of Irish affairs was now down a steep decline, and I went rapidly with it. My time was spent in the society of the leaders of the popular movement – of my beloved friend Edward Fitzgerald, of Arthur O’Connor, the elder Emmett, Sampson, Curran, Grattan, and George Ponsonby. I joined in the support of the Press newspaper, then the organ of reform and popular rights, and in the autumn of 1797 was elected, though without my desire or even knowledge, a member of the Executive Directory of the United Irish Society, when, for the first and only time, I attended a meeting of that body, held at Mr. Jackson’s in Church-street.

The conflict of parties was now rapidly drawing near, and of the spirit in which it was to be conducted sufficient indications were not wanting. The people disappointed, as I have shown, in their protracted efforts to obtain parliamentary reform, and a full relaxation of the penal laws, had become impatient, and exhibited their impatience in the usual mode, by local tumults and violence.

These were met in the equally usual mode by coercive laws. An Insurrection Act was passed; portions of the country were proclaimed as being in a state of disturbance, and declared to be under martial law; flying camps were established, and a curfew regulation was enforced in the proclaimed districts. How these measures worked will be illustrated by the facts of the following little tragedy.

It happened that the barony of Carbery, in the county of Kildare, was proclaimed under the Insurrection Act, and a camp established in it, which was occupied by the Fraser Fencibles.

One evening, the commanding-officer, a Captain Fraser, returning to camp from Maynooth, where he had dined and drank freely, passed through a district belonging to my father, which was very peaceable, and had not been included in the proclamation. As Captain Fraser rode through the village of Cloncurry, attended by an orderly dragoon, just as the summer sun was setting, he saw an old man, named Christopher Dixon, upon the roadside, engaged in mending his cart. The captain challenged him for being out after sunset, in contravention of the terms of the proclamation. Dixon replied that he was not in a proclaimed district, and that he was engaged in his lawful business, preparing his cart to take a load to Dublin the following day.

The captain immediately made him prisoner, and placed him on horseback behind his orderly. The party proceeded about half a mile in this manner to a turnpike, where the officer got into a quarrel with the gatekeeper, and some delay took place, of which Dixon took advantage to beg of the turnpike man to explain that the district in which he was taken was not proclaimed, and that therefore there was no just ground for his arrest.

While the altercation was proceeding, the poor old man (he was about 80 years of age) slipped off from the dragoon’s horse, and was proceeding homewards, when the officer and soldier followed him, and having despatched him with sixteen dirk and sabre wounds, of which nine were declared to be mortal, they rode off to the camp.

A coroner’s inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of wilful murder returned; whereupon Mr. Thomas Ryan, a magistrate, and the immediate landlord of Dixon under my father, proceeded to the camp with a warrant for the apprehension of Captain Fraser, who, however, was protected by his men, and Mr. Ryan was driven off.

Mr. Ryan applied to my father, who sent me with him to Lord Carhampton, then commander-in-chief in Ireland. We were accompanied by Colonel (afterwards General Sir George) Cockburn; and Mr. Ryan having produced the warrant, and Colonel Cockburn having pointed out the provision of the Mutiny Act bearing upon the ease, we formally demanded the body of Fraser, which his Lordship refused to surrender. At the next assizes, Captain Fraser marched into Athy, with a band playing before him, and gave himself up for trial. The facts were clearly proved; but the sitting judge, Mr. Toler [Mr. Toler was at the time (as well as my memory serves me) Solicitor-General, but sitting as Judge of Assize.] (afterwards Lord Norbury), instructed the jury that “Fraser was a gallant officer, who had only made a mistake; that if Dixon was as good a man as he was represented to be, it was well for him to be out of this wicked world; but if he was as bad as many others in the neighbourhood (looking at me, who sat beside him on the bench), it was well for the country to be quit of him.” The captain and his orderly were acquitted accordingly.

Such was the training of both peasant and soldier for the bloody civil war of the ensuing year. In the meantime those among the higher classes, who yet hoped to avert the dreadful calamity from their country, persevered in their exertions to procure the necessary reforms by constitutional means, while their opponents had already begun, with mischievous energy, to agitate the fatal project of a legislative union. I still took an active part on the side of Ireland; and, in conjunction with my friends, Wogan Brown, of Castle Brown (now the Jesuit College of Clongowes), and Pat. Lattin, whose name I have already mentioned, I aided in preparing the Kildare petition against the Union and in favour of Reform and Catholic Emancipation, which was signed by several hundreds of the first men of that county, including the Duke of Leinster, Lord (then the Right Hon. Wm. Brabazon) Ponsonby, my father, &c &c.

It is in connexion with this very petition that I find among my papers the earliest traces of a personal collision between myself and the government. The meeting, at which it was intended to propose the petition, had been called by the Duke of Leinster, the governor of the county (upon the refusal of the high sheriff; Mr. Robert Latouche, to convene it), on a requisition signed by several magistrates, and was fixed for a certain day, when it became incidentally known that the government intended to prevent its assembling. With that view they had concentrated a large military force at Naas, and, oddly enough, had placed it under the command of a brother of Arthur O’Connor’s, Major John O’Connor, who made known his intention of striking a signal blow, should an occasion be given him, “by the quarrelling of two dogs in the streets of Naas,” on the day of the proposed meeting. The rumours of the design of the government led to the making of a formal inquiry by Wogan Brown and myself, to which we received the following answer

The Right Hon. Thomas Pelham to Wogan Brown, Esq., and the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Dublin Castle, 25th May, 1797.

“Sir – Mr. Cooke having communicated to me that you and Mr. Lawless had called upon him, stating that there was a requisition signed by you and several magistrates of the county of Kildare, for summoning a meeting of all the inhabitants of that county, on Monday next, at Naas, to consider certain political subjects; and that they understood that government had issued orders to his Majesty’s forces to disperse such a meeting; and desiring to know whether such orders had been actually given, as they did not wish to commit the county; I have laid the communication before my Lord Lieutenant; and am directed by his Excellency to point your attention to the proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant and Council, wherein they have thought it advisable, under the existing circumstances of the kingdom, to forewarn all persons from meeting in any unusual number; under any pretence whatsoever; and also to the present state of the county of Kildare, part of which is under the provisions of the Insurrection Act, on account of the turbulence of the inhabitants, and other parts of which have been disturbed by treasonable associations and nocturnal outrages. I am also to suggest to you, as a magistrate, the obvious impropriety and danger of summoning all the inhabitants of the county to meet in one place, at the present crisis; and in consequence of that danger, I am directed to desire that you will use your influence as a magistrate to prevent the said meeting, as hazardous to the public peace; and I am likewise to inform you that his Excellency will give directions to his Majesty’s forces to prevent an assembly so unusual as that of all the inhabitants of a county, especially where part of that county has been proclaimed to be in a state of disturbance, and other parts of it much infested with outrage; and when, for these reasons, the high sheriff of the county, at the special desire of many most respectable noblemen, magistrates, and gentlemen, has thought it his duty not to summon a meeting of the county upon a requisition in which your name appeared.

I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient,

T. Pelham.”

The Kildare petition was followed up by an aggregate meeting, held at the Royal Exchange, for the consideration of the same subjects, with especial reference to the general election then at hand. At this meeting I presided; but before doing so, I took the precaution of making myself acquainted with the intentions of the government in regard to an interference with the right of public assemblage of the people upon the occasion. My inquiry produced the following costive reply

The Right Hon. Thomas Pelham, to the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Dahlia Castle, 21st July, 1797.

Mr. Pelham presents his compliments to Mr. Lawless. He has received the honour of his note. He is not aware that it was necessary for him to inquire whether the freemen and free-holders of the city of Dublin were entitled to exercise the rights of election in the usual manner.”

Leaders as well as followers now began to get weaned with the protracted struggle against the venality and corruption of parliament and the memorable secession of the popular members from the House of Commons was determined upon. I was one of a deputation, with Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur O’Connor, appointed to carry an address to Messrs. Grattan, Curran, and George Ponsonby, requesting them to discontinue the mischievous mockery of attending parliament – a request which was complied with, and the compliance recorded by Mr. Grattan in the following words, with which he concluded his speech upon Mr. W. B. Ponsonby’s motion for parliamentary reform:-

“We have offered you our measure – you will reject it; we deprecate yours – you will persevere. Having no hopes left to persuade or dissuade, and having discharged our duty, we shall trouble you no more, and after this day shall not attend the House of Commons.”

A dissolution of parliament shortly afterwards took place, when the same policy was pursued; and I remember writing the addresses of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Mr. Henry of Straffan, declining to offer themselves as candidates for the representation of Kildare. Upon the same occasion my illustrious friend addressed an eloquent and most instructive letter to the citizens of Dublin, the concluding paragraphs of which I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting, as containing a short, but lucid, exposition of the creed of Irish politics which I confessed to then, and which I confess to now, after the added experience of half a century:-

“May the Kingly Power that forms one estate in our constitution, continue for ever; but let it be as it professes to be, and as by the principles and laws of these countries it should be, one estate only; and not a power constituting one estate, creating another, and influencing a third.

May the Parliamentary Constitution prosper; but let it be an operative, independent, and integral part of the constitution, advising, confining, and sometimes directing the kingly power.

May the House of Commons flourish; but let the people be the sole author of its existence, as they should be the great object of its care.

May the connexion with Great Britain continue; but let the result of that connexion be, the perfect freedom, in the fairest and fullest sense, of all descriptions of men, without distinction of religion.

To this purpose we spoke; and speaking this to no purpose, withdrew. It now remains to add this supplication-However it may please the Almighty to dispose of princes or parliaments, MAY THE LIBERTIES OF THE PEOPLE BE IMMORTAL.

Henry Grattan.”

I have narrated, candidly and frankly, the story of my connexion with the popular movements in Ireland, up to the period to which 1 have now brought my reminiscences. All the prominent events of that connexion are specified in the foregoing pages, and were, in fact, patent to the whole world at the time of their occurrence. It was not to be wondered at, that, at such a crisis, proceedings like those I have detailed should have attracted the notice of a government conscious of the unstable tenure by which they held the country, and filled with jealous fear of every stir that might endanger the rupture of those bonds of corruption and venality of which alone the elements of that tenure were composed. I accordingly became an object of suspicion, and several intimations were made to my father that the evil eye of the government was upon me. Some of these warnings came to my own ears, and were made the subject of warm remonstrance with those whom I had reason to believe to be their authors. It is to a matter of the kind that the following letters refer:-

The Hon. V. B. Lawless to Edward Cooke, Esq.

“Sir – I waited on you at your office, to speak with you on the subject of a conversation you had with our friend Mr. Lees concerning me. I am sorry, sir, you should think the intervention of a third person necessary; and therefore, notwithstanding the opinion I must form of any one thinking to influence me by threats, I shall trouble yourself alone with my sentiments on this business.

The enemies of the government in this country accuse it of dividing and disuniting the people. I hope the charge is false and invidious; but base as the measure would be, it would fall far short of an attempt to sow disunion in a private family. If, therefore, any step is taken to injure me in the mind of my father, 1 must look on it as the act of an individual. My conduct and my thoughts have, at least, the merit of being open and aboveboard, and I never concealed them from my father, nor from any other person, and I shall always be forthcoming, if government thinks proper to make further inquiry into them. My father, who is one of the most independent men in the country, has for years supported government, without the smallest acknowledgement on their part. You know enough of the warmth of his zeal to believe the disagreeable effects to me a charge of disaffection or treason against me might have ; I therefore, sir, request and desire you may be cautious in your conversations relative to, sir,

Your most obedient servant,

V. B. Lawless.”

Edward Cooke, Esq., to the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Castle, Wednesday.

“Dear Sir – I am very sorry I was not fortunate enough to see you when you called on me. You must feel assured that what I mentioned to Lees was from regard and friendship to you, as I was convinced you would be as safe in communication with him as with me. As I had heard a report respecting your name being used, I was, of course, afraid that a similar report might come to others respecting you, and I wished therefore that you should have notice, lest anything injurious to you in any respect might happen. I beg leave to assure you very sincerely and very unaffectedly, that I would be the last person to injure you in the opinion of your father or any one, and that I should be happy at all times to be of any service to you in my power When you have a quarter of an hour’s leisure, I should hope you would call upon me. Believe me, dear sir,

Your most faithful and humble servant,

E. Cooke.”

At last the urgent advice of my father’s friend and connexion, Lord Clonmel, prevailed with him, and he insisted upon my going to London to keep my term at the Temple, which I accordingly did, in November, 1797. Upon that occasion I remember calling to take leave of Lord Clonmel, who lived at Temple Hill, near my father’s villa of Maretimo, and I shall never forget the words of our last conversation:- “My dear Val.,” said he, “I have been a fortunate man in life. I am a chief justice and an earl; but believe me I would rather be beginning the world as a young sweep.”

A fortunate man he certainly was, and in nothing more so than in the period of his death, which took place the day before the outbreak of the Rebellion of l798.

[Lord Clonmel had a villa named Temple Hill, close to Seapoint, which was made the scene of an ingenious stroke of vengeance by John Magee, then printer of the Dublin Evening Post newspaper. Mr. Magee had been tried before his Lordship for a seditious libel, and, as he thought, was made the subject of undue severity on the part of the bench. He certainly was subjected to a very rigorous imprisonment, in efforts to alleviate the hardships of which I myself took an active part, and with some success, but not sufficient to obliterate from the prisoner’s mind the obligations he thought himself under to the Chief Justice. This debt weighed heavily upon his conscience, and no sooner had his term of confinement expired, than he announced his intention of clearing off all scores. Accordingly, he had advertisements posted about the town, stating that he found himself the owner of a certain sum (I think it was £14,000), £10,000 of which he had settled upon his family, and the balance it was his intention, “with the blessing of God, to spend upon Lord Clonmel.” In pursuance of this determination, he invited all his fellow-citizens to “a bra pleasura,” to be held upon a certain day in the fields immediately adjoining Temple Hill demesne. I recollect attending upon the occasion, and the fete certainly was a strange one. Several thousand people, including the entire disposable mob of Dublin, of both sexes, assembled as the guests at an early hour in the morning, and proceeded to enjoy themselves in tents and booths erected for the occasion. A variety of sports were arranged for their amusement, such as climbing poles for prizes, running races in sacks, grinning through horse-collars, and so forth, until at length, when the crowd had attained its maximum density, towards the afternoon, the grand scene of the day was produced. A number of active pigs, with their tails shaved and soaped, were let loose, and it was announced that each pig should become the property of any one who could catch and hold it by the slippery member. A scene, impossible to describe, immediately took place; the pigs, frightened and hemmed in by the crowd in all other directions, rushed through the hedge which then separated the grounds of Temple Hill from the open fields; forthwith all their pursers followed in a body, and, continuing their chase over the shrubberies and parterres, soon revenged John Magee upon the noble owner.]

Chapter IV.


Take up my abode in London – Irish Refugees – Their Appeals to their Fellow-countrymen – The Free-quarters System – The United Irish club – Its Objects and Members – Duel with Mr. H—; – Disclosures in the Castlereagh Paper – Manufacture of Treason – Espionage – St. Patrick’s Dinner – O’Coigly – Assist him in his Defence – Arrested – Simultaneous Arrest of the Duke of Leinster, Mr. Curran, and Mr. Grattan – Intentions of the Government, as disclosed in the Castlereagh Papers – Their Failure – Examination before the Privy Council – Liberation – Letters; from Lord Cloncurry, from Miss C. Lawles – Projected Marriage.

In November, 1797, as I have already stated, I took up my abode in London, under circumstances which will be understood by any Irishman, who, having a few pounds in his pocket, or bearing a name known beyond his domestic circle, may have had occasion to reside in a foreign resort of his poorer countrymen. To such a reader there will be no necessity to explain the operation upon myself and ‘some other young Irishmen then in London society, of the gregarious habits of our compatriots. We became a sort of centre of refuge for the hosts of poor people driven from their homes by the atrocious deeds of an army, described by its commander as being “formidable to every one but the enemy.” Some of these refugees were evading the grasp of the law; many were merely flying from the persecutions to which they were exposed under the Insurrection Act and free-quarters system. Of the working of the former measure I have given an example in the story of Captain Fraser and Dixon – the effect of the free-quarters system “upon the discipline of the troops,” is so tersely described in a short letter from Lord Castlereagh to General Lake, that I will take the liberty of quoting it:-

Dublin Castle, April 25,1798.

“Sir – It having been represented to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, that much evil may arise to the discipline of the troops from their being permitted, for any length of time, to live at free quarters; that the loyal and well-affected have, in many instances, suffered in common with the disaffected, from a measure which does not admit, in its execution, of sufficient discrimination of persons; I am directed by his Excellency to request that you will advert to these inconveniences, and adopt such other vigorous and effectual measures for enforcing the speedy surrender of arms as in your discretion you shall think fit, and which shall appear to you not liable to these objections.

I have the honour, &c.


[Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, edited by his Brother. Vol. i., p. 189.]

This frozen intimation of the inconveniences which “free quarters and pillage” occasioned to the troops and the “loyal,” will convey a notion of their operation upon those whom Lord Castlereagh and the Ancient Britons, or Fraser Fencibles, thought fit to include in the class of “disaffected.” The practical effect was, as I have said, to send crowds of poor houseless and starving creatures out of the kingdom, many of whom made their way to London, and when there, applied to any fellow-countryman they could find out, for relief and protection. Whatever may be the faults of Irishmen, a want of generosity and good feeling towards each other when absent from home, and even of forgetfulness, under such circumstances of domestic feuds, is not one of them. Accordingly, we who were able to give any assistance to the refugees did what we could in that direction; and in the course of our work of charity a sort of club was formed, the members of which were chiefly young Templars, and which we called the “‘United Irish.” This club was not, however, affiliated with the United Irish Society of Ireland; and, indeed, had the character rather of a debating and convivial, than of a political body. It was certainly neither illegal nor mischievous, although it would appear, from some vague allusions in the Castlereagh letters recently published, to have been represented by the spies of the government in both one and the other light. The best proof that there was no foundation for any such representations was, nevertheless afforded by the fact, that it was never made the subject of legal proceedings. [I may mention a little incident, illustrative, in some degree, of the character of this club. Some of its members had access to the newspapers, and upon one occasion a notice of our festive proceedings appeared in one of these, Some expressions, condemnatory of the publication, fell from me at a subsequent meeting, which resulted in a duel (the only one, I am happy to say, I ever fought) with Mr. H—, a member of the Irish bar now no more. We met at Norwood, and exchanged a couple of shots, but without doing any damage.]

Among the persons thus associated, and with whom I was then on terms of familiar intimacy, were Mr. Stewart, of Acton, and Mr. Bonham, who were both, as I sincerely believe, as well as myself, utterly unconscious of any illegal design, or indeed of any design, except that of relieving our poor and persecuted fellow-countrymen who flocked around us, and of participating in such social amusements as are customary among very young men. We were all three, however, made to pay dearly enough for our whistle. Little did we then think how uneasy the pillows of ministers were made by our subscriptions to relieve the destitution of Peter Finerty, [Ex-printer of the Press – a paper honoured by being burned by the common hangman. When Peter Finerty was pilloried for a seditious libel published in the Press, Arthur O’Connor stood beside him upon the scaffold, and held an umbrella over his head.] or what mighty peril was supposed to hang upon our occasionally dropping in to a singing-club, at the close of an evening spent in one of the theatres. With a proper force of spies and detectives, however, it is not difficult to manufacture treason, and accordingly I find it was announced by Mr. Wickham (an under-secretary of state) to Lord Castlereagh, on the 8th of June, 1798, [Castlereagh Memoirs. Vol. i., p.216.] that “His Majesty’s confidential servants had found it necessary to take into custody and detain” the Hon. Mr. L—, Mr. S. of Acton, and Messrs. A. C. and T. of the Temple; and that “the testimony of two gentlemen recommended [sic in orig.] by Mr. Cooke,” left no room for doubt “that all these persons were more or less deeply implicated in the treasonable conspiracy in Ireland; that they had all knowledge of the connection between the traitors in that country and the French Directory, or its ministers, and had given aid and countenance to the agents who have at different times been sent over from one country to the other.”

lt is scarcely necessary to say that the Hon. Mr. L— was the writer of these reminiscences ; Mr. S. was Mr. Stewart, of Acton, a gentleman of large fortune in the North of Ireland; and Messrs. A. C. and T. were, I presume, Mr. Agar, a relative of the Archbishop of Dublin; Richard Curran, eldest son of the future Master of the Rolls, and Mr. Trenor, who was, at the time; my friend and private secretary. I can with certainty answer for myself, and I believe with almost equal certainty for all the others, that the testimony of Mr. Cooke’s two gentlemanly friends was altogether untrue; that none of the party were engaged in any correspondence with the French Directory or its ministers, and that the only aid and countenance we gave to any suspected persons was limited to the charitable assistance to our poor fellow-countrymen, to which I have alluded, or to the ordinary social intercourse between acquaintances casually meeting in a strange place. To the particular event which was fixed upon as the justification of my own arrest, I will presently refer; but it may be worth while, first, to point out another specimen of treason manufacture.

In the report from the Committee of Secrecy of the Irish House of Commons, it is stated that “The leading members of the disaffected societies were in the habit of frequenting an occasional meeting, which was held at a cellar in Furnival’s Inn, and was first formed for the purpose of reading the libellous and treasonable publication called The Press.” When a mysterious intimation of my own offences against authority was made to me by the privy council, my attendance upon the Furnival’s Inn reunions was enlarged upon with indications of grave censure – the fact being, that the meetings referred to (which, by the way, were not held in a cellar) were nothing more than the promiscuous assemblages of a free-and-easy singing club, into which I had strolled, altogether not more than two or three times, on leaving a theatre or other place of public resort. If the persons present on these occasions were “members of disaffected societies,” I certainly did not know of it; and if the business transacted was treason, it was carefully wrapped up in the jokes and ribaldry commonly said or sung in such places, even, I presume, up to the present loyal and moral age.

There was enough, however, to furnish Mr Cooke’s gentlemen with a theme for their testimony, and I was accordingly enrolled upon the list of suspects. That I was placed in that unenviable situation, was not a secret to myself, as, in addition to the hints to which I have already referred as having been given to my friends in Ireland, I was informed, soon after my arrival in London, that all my motions were carefully watched by a policeman in disguise – one of those respectable members of society whom it is now the fashion to distinguish by the title of “detectives.”

My kind informant was Dr. Hussey, afterwards Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford, but who had been private secretary to the Duke of Portland, and, at the time I speak of, was upon familiar terms with his Grace, although employed, in his profession, as Chaplain to the Spanish Ambassador’s Chapel in Manchester-square. The information did not give me much uneasiness, as I was not conscious of any crime that could justly bring me within the grasp of the law; and, accordingly, the only effect it produced was a laugh among my friends, when I excused myself for breaking up a party on the plea that it would be an act of unwarrantable cruelty to keep “my spy” longer exposed to the night air, and that I must therefore, relieve him from duty, by allowing him to see me safe to my chambers.

An incident occurred about this time, which I may mention, as it not only throws light upon the state of party feeling, and the heated intolerance of those who assumed to themselves the exclusive character of loyalty; but it also shows that my intimate associates were not, at that time, so selected as to make me now blush at the remembrance of my connexion with them. On St. Patrick’s Day, 1798, I happened to be so unwell – indeed confined to my chambers – that I determined not to attend the public dinner, at which Lord Moira (the late Marquis Hastings) was to preside. On his way to the dinner, his lordship called upon me, and induced me to accompany him. In his carriage with us were my intimate friends, William Moore (brother to the late Earl of Mountcashel), and Thomas Moore the poet. I chanced to sit among some acquaintances at the lower end of the table; and when the Queen’s health was proposed, owing to some accident, probably the bodily indisposition under which I was suffering, I did not rise to drink the toast with so much alacrity as would have been pleasing to some red-hot loyalists who sat near.

As I was dressed in green (then a suspected colour), my slowness in rising was, without delay, interpreted into an intention of not rising at all; and a cry of “turn him out” was raised among my enthusiastic neighbours. The cry, however, soon came to an end, when my friends close to me-among them were Somerset and Pierce Butler, brothers of the late Earl of Kilkenny – announced that the operation of turning me out would assume a complex character. The moment the uproar subsided, I went up to Lord Moira, and explained to him my share in the transaction, assuring him that I had not the slightest intention of showing disrespect to the Queen; and that if I had, I would not choose an occasion for doing so, when I must necessarily accompany the act with an insult towards himself, as the proposer of the toast. The explanation was at once accepted as satisfactory; but the occurrence was made the most of by the government-hack journals of the day.

Early in 1798 (as well as I recollect, some time in the month of February), 1 was waited upon by an Irish priest, who brought me a letter of introduction from my father’s solicitor, Matt. Dowling, [It may not be improper to mention here that Mr. Dowling was a Protestant.] whom I have already mentioned. This person, who was one of the finest men I ever saw, was the unfortunate O’Coigly, or Quigley ; and upon this occasion for the first time, I met him or knew of his existence. His story to me was, that he was driven from Dundalk, by the persecutions of the Orangemen of that town, and that he was now endeavouring to get back to Douay, where he had been a Professor in the University. This statement was confirmed by Mr. Dowling’s letter, with the addition that O’Coigly was very poor, and in much need of pecuniary aid to help him on his journey.

I was, at the time, living upon a very moderate allowance, and had but little money to give away; but I did what I could, and asked my visitor to dine with me-a request which he readily complied with. At dinner, Arthur O’Connor was one of the party; and, so far as I know, he also then met O’Coigly for the first time. As to what communications took place between them subsequently, I have no knowledge; but they shortly afterwards left London together – the priest having been invited (as I understood) to accompany Mr. O’Connor as his secretary, so far as their roads lay together. They were arrested, with some others, as is well known, at Whitstable, tried at Maidstone, and O’Coigly – who alone of the party was convicted – was hanged at Penenden Heath, on the 7th of May, 1798.

It was my casual act of charity towards this unfortunate man, which furnished the ostensible excuse for my arrest and detention, referred to in Mr. Wickham’s letter, from which I have already quoted. No sooner was O’Coigly lodged in jail than he sent me an earnest application for funds to enable him to carry on his defence; to which I responded by employing, on his behalf, Mr. Foulkes, an eminent solicitor, then living in Hart-street, Bloomsbury, but to whom I was at the time a perfect stranger; and guaranteeing to that gentleman the payment of his costs. To enable me to meet this engagement I applied to some friends for subscriptions; and, amongst others, I wrote to Mr. Broughall, my father’s land-agent, who was, at the time, secretary to the Irish Catholic Association, telling him that it was incumbent upon his co-religionists to subscribe for the relief of a member of their priesthood, and naming, as one of those who had already handsomely contributed, my late excellent friend, Mr. Henry, of Straffan. [Mr. Henry, in reply to rqy letter mentioning the ease of O’Coigly, enclosed me a check for £500, of which I retained £50, a sum equivalent to my own subscription.] Mr. Broughall, who was a suspected person, was shortly afterwards arrested at Dublin, and his papers having been seized, my letter was found among them. The immediate result was my capture, at my lodgings in St. Albans-street; and the arrest, at the same time and place, of the Duke of Leinster, John Philpot Curran, and Henry Grattan, who happened at the moment to be visiting me. They were all, however, immediately liberated ; the only tangible charge against any of them being the supposed applicability to Mr. Grattan, of the words “little Henry,” used in my letter to Broughall, in reference to Mr. Henry, of Straffan.

Coincidently with my own arrest, my secretary, Mr. Trenor, was also put into confinement; and the hardships he was exposed to brought on an illness which terminated, not long afterwards, in his death. My Swiss servant, Christian Serry, a most respectable man, who had come to my father’s service from that of the Duchess of Devonshire, and had lived in our family many years, was also laid hold of, under the authority of the Alien Act, and sent out of the country. He was never afterwards heard of; but I had the satisfaction of placing his son in a respectable position in life; and, a few months since, of enabling his grandson to seek his fortune in America, I trust, under happy auspices.

My first imprisonment (in 1798) lasted about six weeks, during which time I was confined at the house of a king’s messenger in Pimlico. I was taken before the Privy Council several times, and questioned more majorum, with a view to the inculpation of myself and others, by Lord Loughborough, Mr. Pitt, and the Duke of Portland. That there was every disposition to discover or invent a plausible excuse for delivering me over to the “due course of law,” as it was then mercifully administered, was made manifest enough to me by the course of this inquisitorial proceeding. The secret intention of the inquisitors is described in the following passage of the letter of the 8th June, 1798, from Mr. Wickham to Lord Castlereagh, from which I have already quoted:-

It is evident, under the present circumstances (wrote Mr. Wickham), and with the evidence of the nature of that of which government here is at present in possession, strong and decisive as it is, that none of these persons can be brought to trial, without exposing secrets of the last importance to the state, the revealing of which may implicate the safety of the two kingdoms. But as it is possible, in the course of the discoveries which his Majesty’s Government in Ireland has been lately, and may still be, enabled to make, that something may appear of a public nature that may tend directly to affect some one or more of the prisoners, either in this country or in Ireland, his Grace has no doubt that his Excellency will, in either case, give directions that such evidence may be immediately communicated to him, to the intent that each person so affected by it may either be proceeded against in due course of law, or removed to Ireland, to be tried in that country, in case his Majesty’s Government there shall think proper to demand him, according to the nature of each offence, and the country where it shall have been committed, There arc some papers found in Mr. L.’s possession that tend directly to show his connexion with some of the most desperate of the republican party here, as well as with those who are in habitual communication with the French agents at Hamburg; and his Grace is in daily expectation of some material evidence from that place tending more directly to implicate that gentleman in a treasonable correspondence with the enemy.

That his grace never obtained what he so anxiously desired, is manifest from the sequel. The information he sought so diligently he would, no doubt, have unscrupulously received; and my only wonder, now that the publication of the Castlereagh letters has shown me, in full light, the pitfall over which I stood 50 years ago, is, that some of Mr. Cooke’s “gentlemen” did not contrive to satisfy the longing of the noble duke. With such good will to the work, his grace and his colleagues were, after all, but bungling manufacturers of treason, or they would have discovered in the pockets of O’Coigly, or in the memories of the frequenters of the Furnival’s Inn “Free and Easy,” enough to have hung so desperate a traitor as myself. As to the papers alleged by Mr. Wickham to have been found in my possession, and “tending directly to show my connexion with some of the most desperate of the Republican party” in London and Hamburgh, I now solemnly declare, that I believe the statement to be a pure fiction, and that no papers were found – as I am most certain that, with my knowledge, no papers existed – which could have had any such tendency, more directly or indirectly than, perhaps, a visiting ticket of Arthur O’Connor’s, or a note from O’Coigly in acceptance of my invitation to dinner.

The questions put to me by the privy councillors, whose names I have mentioned, were very numerous; but I refused to answer any of them, until; at the end of six weeks, I was finally brought up, and told I should be liberated. I then offered to answer any questions that might be put to me candidly and fully-I had nothing to conceal. Advantage was taken of this offer, and I was asked what I knew of O’Coigly. I stated how much and how, just as I have now recorded the narrative of my intercourse with that unfortunate man. I was then asked if I was acquainted with Mr. Bonham, and had ever accompanied him to Furnival’s Inn; to which I also replied fully. The question was then put- “Was I a United Irishman?” To which I answered- “I was, before any law was passed against that society.” At length Lord Loughborough closed the conference by saying- “Mr. Lawless, we believe you have been imprudent rather than criminal; your father is very angry with you for incurring our suspicions; be careful in future, and we will esteem you as we do him.”

Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Portland also assured me that “they were sorry for what had happened; that my good nature had led me astray; but they had a great regard for my father, and hoped we would be good friends for the future;” and so ended this first act of my persecutions. One or two documents connected with it, which I have found among my papers, I will here introduce, as being corroborative of the testimony of my own recollection

Nicholas Lord Cloncurry to Lord Loughborough.

Dublin, 20th June, 1798.

“My Lord – I request you may receive my most sincere thanks for the goodness and condescension your Lordship has shown to my son, as I have been informed by a friend; and in advising my son, a young man who, I fear, had been led into great indiscretion, by the influence and example of persons with whom he associated, several of whom, perhaps, highly respectable from rank and connexion, but whose opinions on political subjects are, in the present situation of the empire, very doubtful – I believe I may say dangerous – and, as he well knew, extremely opposite to the principles which I wish him to entertain.

I have the honour to be, with respect and gratitude, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient humble servant,


The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord — [The title has been omitted in the copy, which is in my sister’s handwriting; but I believe her correspondent to have been Lord Moira. The Hon. Charlotte Lawless, my youngest sister, married Colonel Edward Plunkett, fourteenth Lord Dunsaney.]

“My Lord – Having been apprised of Colonel Clavering’s truly kind effort to interest your Lordship for my brother, Lord Cloncurry, and having seen your Lordship’s obliging answer, I feel most anxious, by the communication of every information his friends could obtain, to remove, as far as possible, the difficulties which a politic mystery observed as to the real cause of his confinement, and the various reports industriously circulated, must naturally oppose to the most earnest intention to befriend him.

The memorial which mistaken but well-meant zeal troubled your Lordship to present, without my brother’s knowledge or consent, could contain nothing but the general grievances of his situation; and I cannot think that any application of the kind is likely to induce the Duke of Portland, &c., &c., to allow that the warrant under which my brother is confined cannot be justified. I therefore request to intrude another memorial on your Lordship’s attention, which contains everything relative to his arrest and detention that could, with prudence, be made public; and submit to your Lordship’s consideration whether it, being addressed immediately to the king, does not afford the best, the only chance of redress. If such a measure is strictly proper, I speak the wishes of all my brother’s friends when I entreat your Lordship to present it to his Majesty. There are passages in this memorial not so explicit as I am desirous to be with you, my Lord. Since my brother’s arrest, I have, with the assistance of friends, endeavoured to discover whether there was any information, true or false, against him; suspicion being all that was alleged, and the supposed offence said in this country to relate to the mutiny of the fleet, or to some offence his conduct in London gave to English ministers; and in England, the result of every inquiry was, that information was sent from this side the water, and that being an United Irishman and implicated in the rebellion, was imputed to him. Of the falsehood of the last accusation there is not only the strongest proof, in his name never having been mentioned in the secret reports or any of the trials of this country, but upon an application I made to Lord Cornwallis, he assured me, through his secretary, that he had purposely caused to be examined the papers in the various offices under him, and that I might be assured no official information had gone from Ireland against my brother, which directly contradicts an assertion Mr. Cooke made to me. As to the egregious absurdity of his knowing anything concerning the mutiny of the fleet, it is not worth speaking of: he was not above 18 at the time.

I will now, my Lord, tell you, in the fullest confidence, what I am as fully persuaded as of my existence, is the sole charge that could be proved against him. Numbers of poor Irish, whom he had not the means to assist, were in the habit of soliciting relief from him in London. To assist them, and also to furnish means of defence to some of his unfortunate countrymen-persons who were to stand their trial in England, and who he thought were unjustly accused – he openly called on all his acquaintance to subscribe; and never conceived it possible that his doing so could meet the disapprobation of anybody, much less that it could ever be deemed illegal. I understand, however, it may be construed so.

He undoubtedly gave offence, also, by his interference in regard to Coldbath Fields, though the measures adopted there since prove that he was in the right, and by making public his sentiments on the Union. It cannot be supposed, however, that the treatment he has received had no other foundation; and it is a cruel circumstance that I am obliged to observe the most guarded caution on points that leave not a doubt in my mind that private malice took advantage of public confusion, and by acts of the basest treachery and gross misrepresentation, contrived to make ministers believe they were taking a step of necessary and even lenient precaution, in arresting and detaining my persecuted brother.

Mr. Lees and Mr. Cooke I do believe to be the decided though concealed enemies of my brother. They had been intimate in our family as long as I can remember; and until my brother was of an age to see their views and character, always affected to lead my father’s opinions and direct his decisions on every political question. I need not say how opposite was the part my brother urged him to take. He succeeded for a time; but by alarming insinuations, and false construction of his opinions, these gentlemen so irritated my father against him, that, aware of their conduct, he went to them separately, and told them, that if they persisted to interfere between him and his father, he would resent it. This occurred just before his going to London, to pursue his studies at the Temple, in the year 1797. My father continued in the sentiments his own unbiassed judgment and my brother’s wishes led him to entertain of the proceedings in this country, until the ever-to-be-lamented events of the year ’98.

I know no person who was more sincerely grieved at that fatal rebellion than my brother, who saw that the blind infatuation of those who led the wretched people to destruction, though their intentions sprung from feelings that do them no dishonour, afforded the greatest triumph to the real enemies of Ireland. I have ever possessed his entire confidence; and his letters to me contain the strongest evidence of the falsehood of those imputations, by which every endeavour has been made to injure his character, and by which my father was so incensed as to be on the point of disinheriting him; or, as he mentioned to a friend who interceded for him, leaving him and all of its under the control of Mr. Lees.

With my father’s life ended the views of this seeming friend of our family. Mr. Cooke, I believe, acted from resentment, and, perhaps, apprehension of the threat my brother held out. Both together, I am convinced, represented him to government as too dangerous to be left at liberty, and gave such a turn to the few acts of imprudence his generous, benevolent disposition led him into, as might, in some measure, justify his arrest. Knowing we had no friends who had any interest to cause an inquiry into the business, they supposed he would remain forgotten in his prison; but when they found that the zealous affection of sisters fondly attached to the best of brothers, of whom they have ever been justly proud, would make every possible exertion to procure his liberation, they adopted the plan of appearing to serve us; and I do conceive that they would now wish him at liberty, and their proceedings undiscovered. Mr. Cooke visited my brother in the Tower; and a gentleman, admitted frequently to see him, understood from my brother, that the purport of Cooke’s visit was, to hint to him that an acknowledgement of his having been in error would procure his liberty. He not only spurned with indignation at this offer, but, I fear, let Cooke see that he knew where all the injustice he suffered originated. This was very unguarded, as those who had the power to cause may also prolong his confinement, if they find themselves interested to do so-a consideration that has obliged me to a forbearance I would still wish to observe, did it not appear to me necessary that those who interest themselves for my brother should know such strong presumptions of the most unworthy conduct towards him.

I have not entered into this detail, my Lord, from the idea that all the calumny which tyrannical oppression endeavouring to exculpate itself, malevolent design, or prejudice, has vented on my brother, could make any impression unfavourable to him on a liberal mind, but in the hope that should you find any opportunity to serve him, the possession of the facts I have stated may be useful. He has given me full power to act for him in every respect, and I am certain of his approving what I do. In near two years’ severe confinement his sufferings have been such as to try the firmest mind. His father died in anger with him; an amiable, charming girl, to whom he was to have been united, has fallen a victim to her anxiety on his account; he is deprived of the consolation of almost any intercourse with his dearest friends; for as letters that must undergo inspection, or meetings in the presence of a jailor and guard, could not afford him or us any satisfaction, we have never combated his aversion to such intercourse. I know he never will leave his prison on any condition that can reflect in the least upon his character; but, perhaps, there may be some concession absolutely necessary, and no way humiliating, such as going to some other country. Of this it will be time enough to speak should it be proposed, and most joyful should I feel if it were. At present I am told to look to peace as the only probable termination of this intolerable outrage, which is little better than desiring one to resign all hope.

The miserable anxiety of my mind has made me too inconsiderate of your Lordship’s time and patience; but public and private testimony instruct me to seek no excuse for pressing on your attention a subject so interesting to every just and humane feeling. With sincere respect, I have the honour to be,

Your Lordship’s very humble servant,

Ch. Lawless.”

Immediately after my liberation from arrest-that is to say, about the end of June or beginning of July, 1798 – I left London, and being commanded by my father not to return to Ireland, I employed the summer in making a tour of England on horseback, which occupied me until the month of October, when I visited some friends in Yorkshire, and remained, partly at Harrowgate, and partly at Scarborough, during the remainder of the year. At the latter place I met Miss R— (the sister-in-law of an intimate friend), my acquaintance with whom ended in an engagement to marry, which, after a lengthened correspondence with my father, was sanctioned by him, on condition that I should first complete my terms at the Temple, and be called to the bar. In accordance with this arrangement I returned to London at the close of 1798, much against my will, I admit, and with my mind fully engrossed by my project of marriage – indulging hopes of happiness and quiet, which it pleased his Majesty’s ministers to scatter to the winds.

Chapter V.


Disengagement from Politics – Hostile intentions of the Government towards me – Their unsuccessful Efforts to procure Evidence – Proposition to Except me from the benefit of a General Pardon – “Private and Secret” good wishes of Lord Castlereagh – My own freedom from apprehension – Letter to my Sister – Espionage – Second Arrest – Examination before the Privy Council – Committed to the Tower – Sufferings there – Consequences to my Prospects, Health, and Fortune – The Story of my Imprisonment – Letters from Colonel Cockburn, Myself; my Father, Mr. Foulkes, Mr. Reeves, my Sister – My Father’s Death – Letters; from my Sister, the Duke of Portland, Mr. C. Crawford – Refusal of Permission to attend my Father’s Death-bed – Letters; from Mr. Hume, the Duke of Portland, my Sister, Mr. Hume, Mr. Cooke.

During the short period of my detention in May and June, 1798, the crisis of the Irish rebellion had passed, and most of its unfortunate martyrs were finally disposed of in the interval that succeeded before my return to London. Throughout the whole of that interval I was entirely disengaged from politics and political connexions; my time was passed, as I have stated, in a manner incompatible with political pursuits. Nevertheless, as is shown by the recent revelations in the Castlereagh papers, I was still the object of the anxious care of the ministers. It was not their fault if I escaped being driven to desperation by being excepted by name from the bill of indemnity, or even specially attainted by a bill of pains and penalties, in consideration of its being impossible to convict me “by the ordinary course of law.”

The latter mode of making traitors was, I find, recommended to be adopted towards a class of persons against whom nothing could be proved – “offenders who cannot be convicted by the ordinary course of law” [Castlereagh Memoirs, vol. i., p. 163.] – (in which category I presume I should have been included) and was made the subject of two elaborate communications from Lord Grenville to members of the Irish government. The same thing was done, argued the noble lord, [Ib. p. 163] against Atterbury, “in very good times, and under the direction of some of the ablest lawyers we have had.” “It would be best,” he continues, in a subsequent letter, [Ib. p. 210.]] “(but I do not think it at all necessary) that these bills [of pains and penalties] should be grounded on previous indictments found in the usual course of law. If that cannot be done, there must then, I conceive, be some examination of witnesses, either at the bar of the House of Commons or in a secret committee, or at least some papers produced to such a committee, such as may personally implicate the individuals in the charge of treason.” I confess it seemed to me to be matter for marvel when I read this passage, that Lord Grenville’s advice was not followed, and that some kind of evidence was not provided, either public or private, to warrant my attainder. I read a little further on, however, and found the reason for that forbearance: an able purveyor of false testimony was out of the way.

On the 9th August, 1798, Mr. Mrickham wrote to Lord Castlereagh as follows:-

“To enable the Duke of Portland to do this [to fill up blanks for exceptions in the bill of pardon], Mr. Cooke had referred me to a man, who, I have no doubt, is well able to give the greater part, if not the whole, of the information necessary for that purpose; but unfortunately he is now, and has been for some time, at Paris; and all my endeavours to find a person capable of supplying his place, have been hitherto without effect.” [Castlereagh Memoirs, vol. i, p. 252]

In the same letter, my own case, and those of two of my fellow-sufferers, together with an exposition of the benevolent intentions of the Duke of Portland towards us, are so fully set forth, that I cannot avoid quoting a rather long extract from it

Among the persons excepted (writes Mr. Wickham), there is one upon whose case his Majesty’s law officers have made particular observations – I mean Mr. Stewart, of Acton. From the secret information in the Duke of Portland’s possession, independent of that which has been transmitted from Ireland, his grace can have no doubt that this gentleman is a very proper person to be excepted from his Majesty’s pardon. But a difficulty has arisen from the circumstance of his being now at large in this country. Your lordship will remember that Mr. Stewart, with several other persons resident here, known to be connected with the rebels, were taken into custody on the breaking out of the rebellion in Ireland. They were all afterwards discharged upon bail, as the rebellion assumed a less alarming appearance, and as the probability of the peace of this country being disturbed by the United Irishmen became less.

It is therefore contended, that it would have a very strange appearance, were his Majesty’s Ministers here, to advise the King to except from the benefit of a general pardon a person who is now at large, not even proceeded against, and who was not thought by them sufficiently dangerous to be detained in custody, even at the time when the Rebellion was not yet suppressed, however its force might have been diminished; and the Duke of Portland (agreeing entirely on that point with the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney and Solicitor-General) is decidedly of opinion that the inserting his name among the exceptions should be preceded by an order to take him again into custody, for the purpose of sending him over to Ireland; which, under all the circumstances of the case, can only now be done on a direct application from the Lord-Lieutenant, founded on the particular knowledge his Excellency has of the part that Mr. Stewart has taken in the Rebellion, and of the evidence by which his guilt may be proved.

The Duke of Portland desires me to observe, on this occasion, that Mr. Lawless and Mr. Bonham appear to stand nearly in the same situation with Mr. Stewart, as far, that is, as their respective cases are known to this government, and as far as they are affected by the circumstance of their having been taken into custody here on a charge of treason, and afterwards admitted to bail; and his Grace is of opinion that the decision with respect to each of these three persons ought to be governed by the same rule. They have all been the active agents of the United Irishmen in this country, and, as such, are extremely proper objects of punishment. But unless they, or some one or more of them, have committed some overt act in Ireland, which may be proved by such evidence as is required by the regular course of law; or at least by attainder in parliament, it is thought that it would be too much to except them, or any of them, from an act of pardon; nor, indeed, would it answer the end required, as, conscious of the want of evidence against them, they would probably come forward themselves, and demand a trial; and, in every case, the inserting of the name of any of them – in the exceptions of the bill, must be preceded by their being taken into custody, and sent. over to Ireland to be tried.

* * *

These were the “private and secret” sentiments of these conspirators – for such they confessedly were -against the lives and liberties of their fellow – subjects such were the reasons of state that influenced them to stop short of the final destruction of their victims. The “private and secret” despatch of Mr. Wickham elicited the following reply from Lord Castlereagh, dated “Dublin Castle, August 12,1798” [Castlereagh Memoirs, vol. i, p. 260.]:-

“After a full consideration of Mr. S.’s case, his Excellency is of opinion that the evidence against him in this country will not warrant his being transmitted to Ireland; consequently that it is most eligible, under all the circumstances, that his name should he omitted [from the list of exceptions in the bill of pardon]. Mr. L— and Mr. B— stand, as you observe, in the same predicament, in point of criminality; and, I am sorry to say, we are equally destitute of evidence to prove their guilt.”

I was, of course, at the time, altogether ignorant of the friendly intentions entertained towards me by those noble members of the paternal government of the day. Their thoughts did not appear in the daylight, under their own authority, until half a century bad elapsed. I was therefore, on my return to London, in the beginning of 1799, quite free from apprehension on that score, as will appear by the following passages from a letter written at the time, and which accidentally remained among my sister’s papers

The Hon. V. B. Lawless to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

London, Feb. 16, 1799.

“Dearest Cha. – I am pretty sure I shall receive a letter from you to-day, for I am told that seven Irish mails are just arrived, so I shall begin an answer in anticipation. Lady Clonmell has at length condescended so far as to leave tickets at Mrs. Cockburn’s door; at the same time she wrote me an elegant apology for inattention, which I answered with all due form. I have also written to my father, as he was indisposed. * * *

All my snug little party here will break up in a few days. I have seldom passed three pleasanter months than the last, everything being considered. * * *

I hope you like the “Case of Ireland Re-considered,” as I claim a share in it, though it don’t go directly to what I wish. I have sent a short address to the people of Kildare, whom I saw called by their rascally sheriff. By way of excuse for his lordship’s foolish vote, I tell them that “many of the best men in the country favour the Union, from a conviction that enemies of Ireland will not cease to intrigue amongst us until the parliament is either reformed or annihilated.” This really would be a famous time to press the question of reform (for emancipation is nothing), because the parliament and the people must see that Pitt will never give up the Union, and if some steps are not taken to strengthen the cause of the country, he will certainly catch our new-fledged patriots napping, and poor Erin will either be lost for ever, or become the scene of war between French and English armies. I was sorry to find George Ponsonby pledge himself so strongly, along with Mr. Barrington, to support all the measures of government; for you may be sure there will be such heavy taxes laid on, and such severe laws passed, as will drive the people into new violences, and finally break down the country to the desire of ministers. The taxes, Pitt has already declared, you shall have. Lord Harrington is going over as commander-in-chief if Lord Cornwallis likes to remain, for he has his choice, which I am glad of; but if he returns, either Hobart or Hertford takes his place.

Did you ever read anything so insolent or ignorant as the ministerial speeches relative to Ireland m the English house? I am surprised that neither Curran nor Grattan publish anything on the present occasion: the latter has a very famous work almost ready. I expect him here soon.

Ever your own, V.

P.S. – I have just received the dear letter of the 6th, for which receive my constant and unbounded thanks. I had already written to my father on the 13th, in the best style I could in my present state of mind, which, though made up, is not at ease. If you think I should not say a word at all of politics, my letter to Kildare, which I sent to Mr. Dillon of Parliament-street, should he stopped; but it is so mild and gentle, I hardly think it can do harm, or vex the poor invalid. * * *

The official accounts of the capture of Naples are at length arrived. The Neapolitans, 120,000, made some resistance. The French were not more than 25,000. People here still think the Union will be carried in Ireland.”

That I was not, 50 years ago, regardless of a subject which has never since ceased to interest me, is manifest from the foregoing letter. I was then as now convinced that the Union was pregnant with mischief to Ireland. I was conscientiously opposed to it at all times, and I felt, what I still feel, that it was the duty of every honest man to express his sentiments openly upon a subject admitted by advocate and opponent to be of the last importance to the kingdom. In the eyes of the ministry of that day, however, to oppose their project for the enslavement of Ireland, and for the interruption of her rapidly-growing prosperity, was treason, and I was warned, as before my arrest in the preceding year, that in my case anti-unionism could be so considered and dealt with. I was not at the time desirous of another collision with government, and accordingly I took the precaution, upon receiving (again from Dr. Hussey) the warning to which I have alluded, to write to the Duke of Portland and to my friend John Reeves, who was then one of the clerks of the Council, referring to the information I had received as to the disposition of ministers towards me, and declaring that, from the time of my liberation, I had not, by act or word, meddled in political proceedings of the kind for which my conduct was then questioned.

My precaution was of little avail; it was thought necessary to make an example that might serve to terrify those Irishmen, whose assent to the dishonour of themselves and the ruin of their country, it was impossible to buy with hard cash. I was considered a good subject for such an experiment – sufficiently known and loved among my fellow-countrymen to insure notoriety and fearful sympathy for my misfortunes, I was yet not sufficiently powerful for self-defence, or to cause anxiety in the minds of my oppressors, from the fear of a public reaction against their illegal conduct. I was also young and active, and, above all, enthusiastic and incorruptible enough to render my exertions in defence of the independence of Ireland in some degree formidable, and therefore it was thought advisable to remove me from the scene of conflict.

I was accordingly arrested for the second time, on the 14th day of April, 1799, and although at the time in my bed, in consequence of an attack of slight fever, I was immediately taken to the house of a king’s messenger, and from thence to the Council. The warrant under which I was apprehended was signed by the Duke of Portland, and was issued under the authority of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act; it was not, as on the former occasion, for treason, but for “suspicion of treasonable practices.”

This time my arraignment before the Council was obviously a form, observed for appearance sake only. The old ground was, however, gone over, and I was interrogated as to my acquaintance with O’Coigly and Mr. Bonham, and my having gone to the singing-club at Furnival’s Inn with the latter. Of these matters I gave the same account as I had done before, telling the exact truth as to the facts, and adding that, even if my conduct in reference to these particulars had been matter of offence, it had been already forgiven. This did not avail me; the course of my persecutors was already fixed, and I was accordingly committed to the Tower upon the 8th of May, 1799, where I remained until the expiration of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act restored me to liberty in March of the year 1801.

Of the sufferings and privations I was made to endure throughout that protracted and rigid imprisonment, I will not trust myself to write at length, but allow the tale to be told in the words of letters written at the time, both by my friends and persecutors, and such brief memoranda of passing events as I find in my own contemporary communications, which have escaped destruction. The authenticity of these documents will scarcely be doubted; but I confess I could hardly hope for belief, in this age of prison humanity, were I to state from my own recollection simply, the fact, that I, an untried and innocent man, against whom, as the Castlereagh papers now conclusively prove, no criminatory evidence could be found, after the most diligent search at home and abroad – that I, the immediate heir to a peerage, having numerous and influential friends, and not unprovided with sufficient pecuniary means, could have been dragged from a sick bed, in the heart of the metropolis of British freedom, incarcerated in a filthy and loathsome cell, subjected to the continual companionship (even in my hours of sleep) of a double guard, deprived of the society of my nearest relatives, and even of the use of pen and paper, and finally dismissed from my prison, after the lapse of two-and-twenty months, without charge made against me, or reparation offered for the monstrous insults and injuries to which I was exposed during that dreary period.

In the course of those two-and-twenty tedious months I lost my father and grandfather, and the woman to whom I was upon the eve of being married with every human prospect of happiness. Her life, I have every reason to believe, fell a sacrifice to her continued anxiety for my fate, in respect of which the known circumstances of my prison treatment were sufficient to justify the most gloomy forebodings. To loss of friends and health were added pecuniary losses, heavier than were perhaps ever inflicted as punishment for the gravest established political guilt. My father, fearing the consequences of a persecution so unrelenting, altered his will towards the close of his life, and left away from me a sum of between £60,000 and £70,000, in order to provide against the contingency of confiscation, which it was not unreasonable to look to as a possible result of the malice of enemies who had already shown themselves so powerful for evil. If to this direct loss be added the waste and dilapidation of my estates, in consequence of the impossibility of my exercising control over my affairs, during the interval between my succession and liberation, I do not think I overrate my entire losses in money, directly consequent upon the arbitrary deprivation of my liberty, at less than £100,000.

Colonel (afterwards General Sir George) Cockburn to the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Dublin, 11th April, 1799.

“My dear Lawless – I received your letter yesterday. I have seen your father twice lately. He is much better, and is now able to go out. He never mentioned a word respecting your marriage, and I therefore could not begin the subject. I have seen Burne, and I understand from him that your father has positively consented; but Burne says has never varied from his first declaration of the year. He thinks violence will not do, and you must either submit to wait the end of the year, or try what conciliation and coaxing will do. As to your marrying without his leave, I assure you I hear from the best authority that he has made the most positive declaration of his determination to resist such a step in the strongest manner; and the year is so nearly out, that it really would not be acting with your usual good sense if you ran any risk of his displeasure. Burne tells me he is determined to have you called to the English bar, and therefore insists on your remaining in London till June; that you are then to come over to him, by which time he will have determined what property he will settle on you; and Burne thinks that your submission to his will in these particulars will certainly bring matters to a conclusion by July. * * *

I did not go to Naas. I hear such a grand jury never was heard of. Most respectable names left out – Keatinge not called on the panel. Dillon says, at dinner, they refused to drink the duke’s health. You will be concerned to hear that 30 Ancient Britons have died of a contagious fever at Athy. I had it from an officer of the regiment.

Yours, G. C.

P.S. – There is no doubt but the King of Prussia has consented to take all the men government will send him. Some hundreds have embarked, and Prussian officers came to receive them. He is to make soldiers of them. I think it disgraces him to become a sort of bridewell-keeper or Algerine to any nation.”

The Hon. V. B. Lawless to the Hon. Volentina Lawkss.

Tower, Sunday, May 19th.

“It will be as unwelcome a novelty to you, my dear sister, to receive, as it is to me to write a letter from a prison: we must, however, submit to necessity, and I endeavour to do so with the best possible grace. This day ends the fifth week of my confinement, and you should have heard from me before were it not that I was under great restrictions at the messenger’s, and was in daily expectation of being liberated; besides, the very day of my first examination, I met a friend who undertook to set you all at ease with respect to my safety and ultimate vindication. After my six weeks’ confinement of last year, I should hope my present misfortune would be less shocking to you or my father; but I cannot express to you the pain I feel for the situation of my poor M—: what a miserable disappointment to her, after a month’s expectation that I should join her at Cheltenham. Write to her, I beg of you, my dear Valentina; assure her that I am quite well, and full of hope that we shall soon meet. Tell her that I have got a good and airy room, with books to read, and that I never cease to think of her; but I will not write, because my letters should be inspected, which would be an injury to her, in ease she should withdraw her affection from a poor branded rebel; for although I do not much fear, still I will make some allowance for the proverbial inconstancy of you ladies. When you write to Merrion-street, let my father know that it will be the greatest relief to me if he will rest assured that, in word or act, I have never said or done anything illegal, disloyal, or unworthy of him. In ease I am tried, I fear not I shall make this appear; but I am chiefly afraid of a long confinement, though hitherto, thank God, I have borne it pretty well: last year I should have thought nothing of it, though in a very bad state of health. I think government owes it to his services, if not to justice or humanity, to bring me to trial, or to liberate me. I believe I am the first person who has been committed to the Tower for a suspicion of high treason; and it is only under the new act I could be detained. However, I shall patiently wait the result, provided I still possess the good opinion of my friends. From what I recollect of my examination, I am accused of meeting Colonel Despard and some United Irishmen, at some period previous to my former arrest; but this can be explained to you better by Mr. Reeves, or some other official man. R. has been very friendly to me, and spoke in my favour to Colonel Smith, who commands here; but so he ought, for my foolish letter to him is an excuse for my detention. I suppose my father will be told that I refused to answer questions; but I did the same last year till I was liberated, when I offered, of my own accord, to give every account of my conduct; and Mr. Vaughan afterwards told me it was right, as my answers would be twisted so as to justify my detention. The same rule was followed by Mr. Sayre, in the year ’75, when arrested on a charge of high treason, and he was soon liberated. All my letters and papers have, I suppose, been ransacked and plundered, as they were last year. I hope my lodgings have been given up; I shall settle that and other accounts when I get out. In the meantime send the enclosed to whoever has got possession of my goods and chattels. In case any money is wanted on my account, you can draw on my agent in my name. Send me £15 now, and the same every month whilst I remain here; it is the outside of my expense. I was offered a guinea per week, government allowance, but have refused it, as none of our family have as yet been pensioners. I am surprised I have received no letter or visit since my removal, but shall expect a few lines from you in a day or two, open, and enclosed to Colonel Smith, Tower. This gentleman has been extremely polite to me; has lent me books, and got leave for me to walk about the Tower: this last I have not profited of, except once on the roof of my apartment. I get on pretty well in the daytime, but am very feverish at night; but I will keep off the sick list as long as I can. I am not allowed newspapers, which to me is a great, as it is certainly a very useless, privation. My fellow-prisoners, a Swede and a Manx, being married, are allowed to see their wives; I do not know whether they are suspected of being United Irish. I have always two warders, or beef-eaters in the room with me, and am alternately amused and annoyed by their loquacity; a sentry at my door, who, on taking post, views my person, and being of that excellent school, the Guards, will probably, some of those days, swear some other crime against me, if I escape the punishment due to my manifold treasons. These grand forms would amuse me if I thought them likely soon to end, and that the name of rebel will [not] hurt me as much in society as the title of mad would a dog. As I shall not write again soon, you must be my secretary, and give what consolation you can to all my friends, especially Ninny and Charlotte; and tell Reeves he will find me ” integer vitae scelerisque purus. I hope the desire of getting me out will not induce my father to do anything he would otherwise not approve of. I owe it to him and to myself to prove the rectitude of my conduct. If he had allowed me to follow my own plans, this would not have happened; but I am now so deep, that, like Macbeth, I must go through. Remember me to Tom and the countess. I used, indeed, to see you often drive by the messenger’s, where I was; and I yesterday saw the captain) and one or two friendly faces under my window, but they deigned not to look up at the poor prisoner. Tell me all the news you can, and what conjectures are formed about me. Adieu, my dear V.; my hand is tired, and I can scrawl no more; let me hear from you soon, and believe me ever yours.

Quand aurai je le bonheur de te revoir?”

Nicholas Lord Cloncurry to the Duke of Portland.

(Endorsed in my father’s handwriting, “13th May, 1799. Copy of my letter to the Duke of Portland.”)

“My Lord – Although I have not the honour and advantage of being personally known to your Grace, I am not a stranger to the humanity and benignity of your Grace’s character, to excuse the anxiety of a parent, where the character, and, perhaps, future happiness, of an only son are so materially con corned. I am very sorry to find that he has again incurred the observation of his Majesty’s government. I trust, however, that it arises merely from precaution, in consequence of his former indiscretion, and the persons with whom he had, at that time, the misfortune to connect himself. God forbid; that I should ever allow myself to consider him as criminal. That he may have entertained vain and idle notions of liberty and reform, I am perfectly aware, from the principles of certain persons with whom he kept company, which I always disapproved as well by my example as by my advice. I owe it, in justice to him, to assure your Grace that he wished to withdraw himself from them, and to settle himself in this country, to which I had consented; but, at my desire, he was to remain in London until next month, in order to finish his terms at the Temple.

It my Lord, your Grace’s warrant for again confining him was granted, which I trust in God it was, merely as a measure of precaution, in consequence of any former indiscretion, and that he has not been guilty of any act of a serious tendency, I hope your Grace and his Majesty’s ministers will think him sufficiently punished, and permit him to return to his family; and being then under my own immediate observation, I can have no doubt, from the contrition and concern he formerly expressed, and the promise he made to me, but that his future conduct will be such as becomes a dutiful and a loyal subject; and in acting as such he will always have the advice and example of his father. I have the honour to be, with much respect, my Lord,

Your Grace’s most humble and obedient servant.”

Mr. Foulkes (solicitor) to Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Hart-street, Bloomsbury-square, 26th June, 1799.

“My dear Sir – For fear you should think yourself neglected, or that I have been unmindful of my duty, I think it proper to enclose, for your perusal, copies of the letters that have passed between me and Mr. Wickham on the subject of your imprisonment, &c.

I hope my being denied access to you at present will not have occasioned any inconvenience or injury to you in any of your private affairs, and shall be glad to hear that this letter, with the enclosed, has been delivered to you, as it doubtless will be, by the Governor of the Tower, to whom I mean to send it unsealed. I hope, too, that you have your health.

I am, very respectfully and faithfully yours,

John Foukes.”

The Hon. Valentina Lawless to the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

Portman-square, August 7th, ’99.

“My dearest Val. – Mr. Calwell’s having seen you before I leave town; has given me the greatest comfort, as he assures me you continue in good health. I almost despaired of his obtaining the permission, it is so long a time since he applied for it; but his goodnature and perseverance at length succeeded.

I fear Mr. Lees’ intentions in your favour will not answer our expectations. I have just received a letter from him, in which he tells me that, from the best information he can obtain, he has reason to believe his interference at present would answer no good purpose; and that permission to see you in private would not be granted. I own that this is a great disappointment to me; but we must be patient – all will be well yet. I saw Mr. Reeves last night, and he has promised me to send your money regularly during my absence, and also any new publications that he thinks may amuse you. I have not heard from our friends since I wrote to you last, as they suppose me to be at Cheltenham now; we set off to-morrow for certain. You shall hear from me soon.

Believe me, dear brother, ever sincerely yours,

V. Lawless.

I hope you received my letter of the 2nd, enclosing one from Cha. I send the magazines by the bearer.”

John Reeves, Esq. to the Hon. V. B. Lawless.

6th August, ’99.

“Dear Lawless – Your sister tells me she is going with Lady Clonmell to Cheltenham the day after to-morrow; and she requests I would undertake to supply you with your £15 per month, which I certainly will do. I will send or call upon Colonel Smith in a day or two. Pray do not think I have forgotten you, because I have not made application to see you; believe that in this forbearance I do what appears to me, in the present circumstances, to be prudent and proper. You may rely upon my being ready to do anything that can be useful to you. God bless you, and believe me,

Yours ever truly,

J. Reeves.

P.S. – Our friend Lees is in town. We have talked about [you], and we both agreed, it was better not to interfere just at this moment. He thinks very kindly about you.”

Nicholas Lord Cloncurry to the Duke of Portland.

(copy endorsed in my father’s handwriting, “My letter to his Grace the Duke of Portland.”)

20th August, 1799.

“My Lord – I had the honour of writing to your Grace, three months since, on the 13th day of May last, a few lines in favour of my unfortunate son. It was at the earnest entreaty of the young man’s sisters and friends that I troubled your Grace; for there are very few persons who like less to trouble great men, or men high in office, than myself. I have had the honour of a seat in the Houses of Commons and Lords near thirty years, yet may say that I never solicited nor obtained the least pecuniary favour or emolument for myself or any friend; if I have obtained any honours, they cost me the full value. During your Grace’s residence here I heartily supported your administration; and your Grace well knows that I claimed no merit for it. One reason for this long preamble is, to show your Grace that I am no importunate courtier, and had some reason to hope, at least, an answer from your Grace: indeed the few friends who know that I have written to your Grace, cannot believe, from your known character of urbanity and humanity, that you have received my former letter (for which reason I have desired that this letter should he dropped in the post-office chest.)

I hope, my lord, that your Grace will excuse this trouble, and honour me with an answer, however short. I have the honour to he, with great respect, my lord,

Your Grace’s, &c.

Your Grace may know that I voted in the House of Lords for receiving the proposition for a Union; I also gave it my interest in the county of Limerick, where I have some property, and which, perhaps, few would have done, treated as I have been.”

The foregoing was written on the 20th of August, and on the 29th my father breathed his last. All that I was permitted to know of his last moments was communicated to me in the following letters

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to John Reeves, Esq.

Blackrock, August 25th.

“My dear Sir – I write to you in a moment of great distress, being assured from your constant kindness to my beloved brother that you would assist him and us all in any way you could. My poor father is in a sad state; his physicians give us no hope that he can recover though he may linger for a short time. You may conceive how cruelly the being deprived of his son’s presence at such a time weighs upon his mind. Val, who is much attached to his father, will be made completely miserable. Do you not think that if the Duke of Portland was informed of my father’s situation and ardent desire to see his son, he would not, taking proper security, allow him to come pay the last duties to a kind and good parent? Mr. Lees’ being away is a great loss to us, as he might put us in the right way to communicate this matter to ministers, who, I am sure, when they punished a little imprudence, did not mean to destroy the happiness of a family. The mystery that has been observed has made my father so unhappy, and particularly his letter to the Duke of Portland never having been answered, that I fear much of his rapid decline from robust health is to be attributed to anxiety be endeavoured to conceal but which he now says he felt. Lord Carleton is, I understand, now in London: he was always very friendly to our family, and, perhaps, would undertake to inform the duke, or any one who has power to interfere, of this business.

I am sure I need not apologise for giving you this trouble, nor importune you farther on a subject which the goodness of your heart will make you take every interest in.

Believe me, dear sir, very much yours,

C. Lawless.

P.S. – If leave should be given to Val. to come over, give him the enclosed; if not, it would be too cruel to let him know his father’s situation.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to John Reeves, Esq.

Thursday, August 29th.

“Dear Sir – Soon after I had written to you yesterday, every alarming symptom prepared us for the loss of our dear and excellent parent. He died this morning, at five o’clock, of a disorder in his bowels, which defied every effort of medicine. He suffered much pain, but preserved his mental faculties to the last moment; was perfectly resigned, and even desirous to quit the world; and had no care or anxiety but what the constant recollection of poor Val.’s situation gave him: this has long weighed most heavily on his mind; I would not for any consideration Val. should know how heavy. It will be a most severe blow to him, and require all the kind management of friendship to break it to him. His passions are high, and I dread the first burst of feeling upon knowing he has for ever lost a father whom he never designed to offend, but whom the circumstance of his arrest (the cause of which has been variously represented and exaggerated to him by every idle talker he met) had much irritated against him.

If his enlargement is not to be obtained, how is all the communication absolutely necessary upon his private affairs to take place? I shall be truly obliged to you to tell me plainly what can be obtained, and what should be done, and also to break this painful news to my darling brother.

Excuse all this trouble; it is a great tax on your kindness. Believe me, dear sir, most sincerely,

Your obliged servant,

Charlotte Lawlesss.”

The Duke of Portland to Valentine Lord Cloncurry.

Bulstrode, Monday, 2nd September, 1799. Forty-five minutes past Eleven, P.M.

“My Lord – I have the honour of transmitting your Lordship the enclosed, which I received this evening, and am very sorry that my absence from town has delayed the communication of this melancholy event, which must so materially interest your Lordship in various respects. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient humble servant,


The Right Hon. Lord Cloncurry.”

Mr. Cooper Crawford to Valentine Lord Cloncurry.

Hume-street, Dublin, 29th August, 1799.

“My Lord – An event happened this morning which must necessarily be very painful to you to hear, and which I feel much concern in communicating: however, my attention to you calls upon me to discharge that duty.

The late Lord Cloncurry was, on Friday last, attacked with a complaint in his bowels, which did not seemingly become serious until Monday. He had every medical assistance and attention; but in vain. This morning at five o’clock he departed.

On Monday evening he called upon me to prepare his will, which I did. You have enclosed a short abstract of the disposition he made of his fortune.

The demesne of Lyons was managed by Mr. Ryan, who is still there. He is a man very capable, in every respect, of managing it; and has conducted himself very much to the satisfaction of the late lord. He means to continue the same plan of management for your Lordship, and will wait your directions upon that subject.

I have not now time to state to your Lordship the business which the late Lord was pleased to commit to my care, but I will do so very soon. I have the honour to be

Your Lordship’s very faithful and obedient servant,

Cooper Crawford.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cloncurry.

Saturday, August 31st.

“Dearest Val. – Before you receive this letter you will have been informed, I trust with the precaution and attention to your feelings which I requested, of the severe and sudden loss we have all suffered. It is no small aggravation of so painful a circumstance that we are deprived of the comfort and assistance of the best of brothers. Perhaps it would be doing an injustice to those who have it in their power to restore you to us, to suppose that we should not see you very soon: we have done whatever ourselves or friends thought could be done, to represent the urgency of the occasion, and shall live in hopes of your being at liberty to come once more amongst us.

I shall not enter into the distressing detail of this unexpected event; but rest assured all that medicine and attentive care could do was done. Hume says, had it been possible to stop the rapid progress of the disease, a year or two of great infirmity was all could have been gained. When I wrote to you on Wednesday, this was the opinion entertained; but that night the inflammation of the bowels assumed the most fatal appearance. He suffered extremely at times; but in the intervals his resignation, firmness, and self-possession astonished everybody who saw him. His last will, which Crawford sends you a copy of through the Duke of Portland, was made on Monday, when he thought himself much worse than his physicians allowed us to apprehend: it was opened to-day in the presence of all who were thought necessary. The contents were known to Mary before, to whom he explained every particular of his affairs, and dictated what she should do. I must, in justice to her, mention what Crawford and others can vouch for, that you are indebted to her for some circumstances very essential to you, and for much solicitation to have them still more so, as also for his forgiveness of every uneasiness he suffered on your account. I know your heart too well to suppose you capable of thinking we have been too generously treated. I hope we shall ever be as united as we have hitherto been; and that you will believe the affection we have ever shown you cannot decrease when we have it most in our power to prove it. God bless and preserve the best beloved of my heart, and grant that I may soon see him in the enjoyment of all the happiness I think he merits.



To the appeals to the mercy of the minister, for permission to attend my father’s death-bed, referred to in these letters, the following cold answer was returned:-

The Duke of Portland to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Whitehall 6th September, 1800,

“Madam – I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th ult., and to inform you that I have granted the necessary permission to Mr. Burne to have access to your brother.

I am concerned to be under the necessity of adding, that the wish you have expressed for your brother’s enlargement cannot possibly be complied with. I have the honour to be, madam,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


When permission was thus refused to a son, to attend (even loaded with the fetters of the law) upon the dying moments of his father, it was not to be supposed that any relaxation of my unjust imprisonment would have been conceded on the grounds of my own failing health, or of the necessity that existed for attention to my personal affairs, and to the duties that now devolved upon me, as the owner of a considerable landed estate.

Nevertheless, my zealous friends made an attempt in that direction also; with what success will be seen in the following letters:-

John Burne, Esq., to the Duke of Portland.

[Copy not dated.]

“My Lord – I address this letter to your Grace by direction of Lord Cloncurry, who is at present confined in the Tower, and trust your Grace will excuse me for making an application which want of pen, ink, and paper prevents him from making for himself.

I presume your Grace is apprised that his Lordship has lately become entitled to a considerable real estate in Ireland, by the death of his father. The peculiar situation of this estate, and of his Lordship’s affairs in consequence of his father’s death, renders his presence in Ireland at this time essentially necessary. I might add that, during a late interview which, by your Grace’s permission I had with him last Friday, his health appeared much impaired by his confinement; and so far as I am able to judge from my own observation, I really think him very ill, though he makes no complaint of that kind. He authorised me to inform your Grace that if permitted to go to Ireland for five or six weeks to settle his affairs, he is ready to enter into any security that may be required for the rectitude of his conduct, and to surrender his person at the end of that period, or dispose of himself in any manner your Grace may direct.”

The Duke of Portland to John Burne, Esq.

Burlington House, Monday, 23rd September, 1799.

“Sir – I this moment received a letter from you, which you state to have been written by the desire of Lord Cloncurry, who is himself unable to make the application it contains, by being deprived of pen, ink, and paper.

I am very sorry to say that my duty to the public will not suffer me to consent to the request you have made in Lord Cloncurry’s behalf, which I cannot but be surprised to find it alleged he had not in his power to make himself.

I do not know of any order which has been given to debar him the indulgence of pen, ink, and paper, or to restrain him from the use of them in the presence of those who have the charge of his person.

I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


John Burne, Esq., to the Duke of Portland.

“My Lord – Permit me to return my humble acknowledgements to your Grace for your polite answer to my letter on behalf of Lord Cloncurry. I lament extremely that public duty prevents your Grace from consenting to his liberation, more especially because I believe his health, and I am sure his fortune, will suffer essentially by his confinement. I stated to your Grace that he was prevented from the use of pen, ink, and paper, because he mentioned so to me; and I should be more inclined to think that those who have the charge of his person might misconceive your Grace’s orders, than that his Lordship should be guilty of any intentional misrepresentation. He desired me, in case the application for his enlargement should fail, to apply to your Grace for the indulgence of pen, ink, and paper, newspapers, and the monthly magazines, and I am sure your Grace’s humanity will induce you to give orders for every kind of accommodation that can be extended to him consistently with your public duty.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to the Duke of Portland.

Thursday, 19th September, ’99, Blackrock, Dublin.

“My Lord – The recent death of my respected father has deprived my brother, confined in the Tower under a warrant from your Grace, not only of the best of parents, but also of the only friend who could consider himself as having a right to interfere in his behalf. It was the intention of my father, previous to his last illness, to have written to your Grace to represent his fears for the health of his son, and to entreat your consideration, whether, if his liberation could not be granted, a removal to some place where he could have the benefit of air and exercise, might not be acceded to. Death has put an end to the anxiety of a parent; but it has redoubled the affliction of sisters attached by every tie of grateful affection to a dear and only brother, whose constant kindness to them, and dutiful conduct to the excellent parents he has lost, impress on their minds the belief that whatever imprudence he may, from his youth and warm benevolence of disposition, have been led into, it is not possible that anything dishonourable or seriously wrong could be countenanced by him. But for the injury his health may sustain we have serious ground for alarm. The painful feelings he has had to combat during six months’ confinement, preying on a delicacy of constitution, which has made the most attentive care necessary from his childhood, may be very fatal to him. If permission to go to Lisbon, with whatever precaution may be deemed necessary, of bail, &c., could be granted, I am convinced such an act of kindness would be of essential service to his health, and have the best effect on his just and good mind. Placed now at the head of his family, he will be guarded in his conduct, and cautious of the connexions he makes. A short time before his arrest, he had received his father’s consent to an alliance most agreeable to all his family, and had repeatedly written to me his anxious wish to settle himself quietly in the country, and get out of the way of being importuned on subjects which he found he only incurred displeasure by interfering in.

I must now apologise for this intrusion on your Grace’s time. A sincere conviction that I am not soliciting anything you can ever have cause to regret having granted, emboldened me to venture an address where I could best hope for any relief that may be possible. I remain, with all respect,

Your Grace’s most obedient, humble servant,

C. L.

P.S. – Mr. Burne, my father’s lawyer and most confidential friend, is at present in London; if your Grace could permit his admission to my brother, it would be a great obligation and satisfaction to his family.

My father, about a fortnight after my brother’s arrest, wrote a letter to your Grace, which not having received any answer to caused him much uneasiness.”

The Duke of Portland to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Whitehall, 27th September, 1799.

“Madam – I have had the honour to receive your letter of the 19th instant, and I am very sorry to be under the necessity of acquainting you that, under the present circumstances of Lord Cloncurry’s case; it is impossible that he can be liberated on the conditions you mention.

With regard to Mr. Burne’s having permission to see Lord Cloncurry on matters relative to his private affairs, I have given directions that the proper authority for that purpose should be sent to him.

Had it been in my power to have returned such an answer to the letter I received from the late Lord Cloncurry, as could have given him any sort of satisfaction, I should certainty not have subjected myself to the mortification which I could not but know I was liable to experience upon account of my silence, although nothing but a desire not to increase his uneasiness could have induced me to observe it. I have the honour to be, madam,

Your most humble, obedient servant,


John Burne, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

“My dear Miss Lawless – I delayed answeing your letter till I could give you some account of my interview with your brother. Though I made an application to see him immediately on my arrival here, I was not admitted till yesterday. Mr. Reeves appointed me to call on him at 11 o’clock, and we went together to the Tower in his carriage. Upon arriving there we were obliged to wait some time, till certain formalities were complied with; but at length saw the poor prisoner. I remained with him near three hours, and during the whole time two beefeaters and the jailor remained in the room. He was very cheerful, and apparently in good health; but I think I could perceive that want of his usual exercise and free circulation of air, have somewhat affected his nerves, hut I hope not materially. We had a great deal of conversation relative to his private affairs, and he has communicated his sentiments fully to you in a letter which he dictated to me, and which Jane is copying to send you. He desired me to tell you that a power of attorney, vesting the entire management of his affairs in you, is to be executed in a day or two, and will be sent over by me. In the meantime, you are to have an advertisement published in the papers, directing the tenants to pay their rents to the former agents, and ordering all letters and applications relative to his affairs to be addressed to you; but you are not to send any papers of business to him during his confinement. I mentioned to him my intention of writing a letter on his behalf to the Duke of Portland, and of applying to Lord Yelverton, who happens to be here, to aid my application to the Duke in the best manner he could. I was well pleased that he approved of this, and authorized me to say that he was ready to accede to any reasonable terms government might propose, in order to obtain his liberty. He expressed a wish that Mr. Reeves and I should dine with him next week, which we agreed to do, and Mr. Reeves has promised to obtain permission for me to see him whenever I require it. This morning I went to Lord Yelverton, and was with him a considerable time. His Lordship has promised to go to the Duke of Portland on Monday, and to do what he can in support of my application to his Grace. Mr. Reeves assures me that there is no person whose interference could be more useful than Lord Yelverton’s, and the kind manner in which his Lordship promised to comply with my request, induces me to entertain some hope. I have written a letter to the Duke, representing the situation of our friend as strongly as I could, and soliciting his liberation, even for a limited time, upon the terms of entering into security to dispose of himself in such manner as his Grace may think proper. If allowed to go to Ireland for five or six weeks, he will afterwards go to Lisbon, or wherever else ministers may direct. If I should be able to bring about the liberation of our dear friend, I should feel a degree of pleasure fully adequate to reward my exertions. Be assured, nothing within the scope of my very limited powers shall be left undone to attain this most desirable object.

We shall remain in London till the 10th of October, but must leave it then. Miss Valentina, in her letter to Jane, says she will be in London the 6th, and will accompany us to Ireland. If we could but bring the poor prisoner with us! But I can scarcely indulge the hope. Though I have much more to say, I must conclude. Remember me in the kindest manner to Miss L—.

And believe me most truly yours.

J. B.”

John Reeves, Esq., to John Burne, Esq.


“Dear Sir -I am sorry I have not yet had the permission to see Lord Cloncurry. I will inquire again this morning, and you shall hear from me.

We must give up all thoughts of dining there. It would not be proper, as Colonel Smith told me, and as we may easily believe.

I am, dear sir, yours truly,

J. Reeves.”

The Duke of Portland to John Burne, Esq.

Whitehall, 3rd October, 1799.

The Duke of Portland presents his compliments to Mr. Burne, and acquaints him that he has signed a warrant, and which will be forwarded to the Tower, for Dr. Turton to be admitted to Lord Cloncurry.”

John Burne, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

London, October 11, 1199.

“My dear Miss Lawless – From a conviction that your brother’s health was materially injured by his confinement, I advised him to call in a physician, to which he consented, and desired me to bring Sir John Hayes, which I accordingly did. When Sir J. Hayes saw him, he intimated his opinion that air and exercise were essentially necessary; but, at the same time, expressed an anxious wish to have the assistance of another physician, and requested me to call in Doctor Turton. In consequence of this, I appointed Sir J. Hayes and Doctor Turton to meet at the Tower yesterday, which they did; but though Sir J. Hayes was anxious to give such a certificate as, I think, must have procured your brother’s liberation, yet Doctor Turton positively refused, and because he saw no immediate occasion to prescribe any medical preparation, he objected to prescribing air and exercise, which, I am persuaded, are essentially necessary. Sir J. Hayes then said that he could not sign a certificate to which Doctor Turton refused to put his name; and thus a very important part of my plan has been defeated, to the great gratification of some professed friends here; but I still intend to present a memorial in your brother’s name, and with his approbation, stating some circumstances which, I think, must have an influence in his favour; and though appearances at present are not very promising, I am not without hopes that he will soon be liberated. At all events, I have the satisfaction to reflect that nothing which I was able to do has been left undone, and if my interference for him has had no other effect, it has certainly diminished the rigour of his confinement, and left him much more comfortable than I found him; and I assure you it is a fact, which I scarcely know whether to call fortunate or unfortunate, that he was infinitely better the day the physician saw him than when I first visited him. Captain Manby arrived here a few days ago; I like him very much, and he has obtained an order for liberty to see your brother next week. We dined with Lady Clonmell yesterday. Miss Valentina and Jane are very busy in buying bargains, packing, &c. We shall all set out on Sunday morning, and hope to be in Dublin on Thursday. Remember me to your sister, and believe me

Most sincerely yours, &c.,

J. Burne.”

Memorial from Lord Cloncurry to the Privy Council. [Draft in Mr. Burne’s handwriting.]

To his Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. – The Memorial of Valentine Lord Baron Cloncurry.

That your memorialist was first arrested under a warrant from his Grace the Duke of Portland, on the 30th day of May, 1798, and was kept in confinement for a period of six weeks; at the end of which time, when liberated, he voluntarily offered to give the Privy Council a full and faithful explanation of his conduct.

That on the 14th day of April last, when your Memorialist’s health was scarcely restored from the effects of that confinement, your Memorialist was again arrested under a similar warrant, and has ever since been confined with a degree of rigour unexampled on any former occasion, or at least rarely exercised towards a person imprisoned for security, and not for punishment.

That your Memorialist, for six months past, has been totally deprived of that wholesome air and exercise to which he had been accustomed, and which the nature of his constitution peculiarly requires; and he has been prevented from availing himself of the permission to walk in one of the courts of the Tower, by the mortifying restrictions under which he must have taken that trifling indulgence.

That a melancholy event which has recently happened in your Memorialist’s family renders his presence in Ireland, at this time, of the utmost importance, for the arrangement of his affairs; and if your Memorialist be permitted to go there for four or five weeks, he is ready and willing to give the most satisfactory security for the surrender of his person whenever it may be required, or to go to Lisbon, and remain there till he shall be permitted to return.

Your Memorialist therefore hopes he will be liberated from a confinement which is no longer necessary for the security of his person, and which can have no other effect than to injure his health and embarrass his affairs.

The Duke of Portland to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall, October 16, 1799.

“My Lord – The memorial which I received from your Lordship on the 11th instant has been submitted to the consideration of his Majesty’s Privy Council, who are of opinion, on duly considering the same, that it is not advisable, under the present circumstances, that the prayer of it should be complied with. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s obedient, humble servant,


Arthur Hume, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Treasury, Oct. 30, 1799.

My Lord – Enclosed I send you £20 British, according to your direction to Miss Lawless, and shall continue to do so every month till I bear from you to the contrary. I consider myself much obliged for your kind intentions towards me. I shall avail myself of them, and you may rest assured of the strictest punctuality on my part in all dealings with your Lordship. I was much concerned to hear your health not being good. I have the honour to be

Your Lordship’s very obliged, humble servant,

Arthur Hume.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cloncurry.

Friday, Sept. 27th.

* * * *

“I have some reason to hope you will soon be enabled to attend to the management of your affairs. In the meantime, whatever I am authorized to do shall he done according to the exact letter of your directions. As soon as I received your first order, I wrote to Trenor, who is now at Balbriggan, acting as usher in his brother-in-law’s school. He came to town and received the £30. He looks as ill as possible, poor fellow, and will not, I fear, long enjoy your bounty. I shall inform him to-morrow of your further intentions in his favour, and shall write to Mr. Thomas Ryan as you desire, and inquire about your servant’s son. As to an advertisement of notice, &c., I have written Mr. Burne the reasons given me why I should not publish one at present, and shall wait his advice before I do anything more. I shall tell Arthur Hume what you desire he should do, and see what is best to be done with your house in Merrion-row. The service of plate, and books, and the pictures in Merrion-street, you must accept from your sisters, as they consider them by right yours, and have sincere pleasure in giving them up to you. It was our intention to have made an exchange with you, if you approved it, as we should prefer residing at Maretimo; and you might keep or dispose of the house in Merrion-street as you pleased. If you don’t like this plan, we shall dispose of it in the best way we can, and settle otherwise with you.

What you call the angry part of your letter is easily answered. I never yet received either reproof or advice from anybody whom I esteemed and knew to be my friend, that it did not fill my heart with more gratitude than the highest commendation could do. Be assured, then, my best and dearest of friends, that one of the greatest obligations I can owe you is your telling me when my ardent desire to comfort and assist you makes me lose sight of sober prudence. My third sister joins with Mary and me in commands to you to take care of yourself.

Adieu, dearest Val., your


Edward Cooke, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

London, 6th November, 1799.

“Dear Miss Charlotte – I was much flattered by your letter, because it proved your conviction that I should ever be disposed to interest myself where your wishes were engaged. It is, of course, a subject of real mortification to me that my representations respecting your brother have not been successful. Several untoward circumstances respecting him have arisen even since I have been in London, which have contributed to increase the reluctance which is felt to grant him his liberty. These circumstances need not make you uneasy, and I will explain them when I have the honour of seeing you, which will be soon. You may have this consolation, that however Lord Cloncurry’s confinement may be irksome, it has not as yet in any degree affected his health.

I have the honour to be, with the most sincere regard, dear Miss Charlotte,

Your most faithful and humble servant,

E. Cooke.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cloncurry.

Blackrock, Thursday, Dec. 5.

“My Dearest Val. – However foolish it might appear to pay any attention to mere newspaper intelligence, I should certainly have been much alarmed yesterday, had not Mr. J. Hume’s very kind attention in writing on the very evening of the day in which the Sun reported your illness satisfied my mind, and relieved all your friends here from a momentary shock. We all depend on the uncommon firmness of mind you have ever shown, to prevent your suffering any material injury from vexatious few men could support as you have done. I had a long conversation with Mr. Cooke, on Sunday last. If you continue in good health, I shall not go to England, which I firmly intended, as I have good reason to think I shall see you about the meeting of Parliament.

We are at present very busy emptying Merrion-street house, which is let to Lord Castlereagh at £500 per annum. We pay taxes. Traineau has taken a complete catalogue of the library, which is packed in cases, and sent to Merrion-row, where it will remain safe until its dear owner arrives. Traineau, Andrew, and Fury are very snug in Merrion-row. He was wretchedly ill in a poor, cold lodging at Richmond, and could not afford to be in Dublin, but for your goodness. I want him to ride out, for he is indeed in a bad way; but he says he cannot afford to buy a horse. Mary, Valentina, and Minny send the usual injunctions, which they always think I omit. I suppose you have seen her brother by this time. Poor Captain Manby is, I hear from the Lees, still in Norfolk attending his dying sister. What selfish beings we are! I am always wishing him in London, as his seeing you so often was an inexpressible comfort to me. Mr. Reeves has not written me his bulletin for some weeks. I suppose he has not been with you.

Adieu, my love,



Chapter VI.


Continued Imprisonment – Accession to the peerage – Communication of the fact of my Detention to the Irish House of Lords – Their Apathy – Precautions of the Government to prevent the Exertions of my Friends – Letters; from my Sister to Lord Cornwallis – Colonel Littlehales’ Replies – Disgust at the Treachery of the Government – Letters; from my Sister to Lord Moira – Rigours of my Prison Life – Comparison of the Treatment of Convicted and Untried Prisoners – Intrusions of my enemies – Ingenious Attempt to Rob me – Letter from my Sister – Complaints – Letters; from the Duke of Portland, from Mr. Reeves – Death of my Affianced Bride – Correspondence between my Sister, Mr. Burne, and the Duke of Porrtland – Renewed Impatience of Confinement – Letters to Mr. Foulkes and Mr. Burne – Petition to the House of Commons – Letters; from Colonel Smith, from Mr. Foulkes – Confirmed Madness of George the Third – Impossibility of Renewing the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act – Liberation – Letter from Lord Castlereagh – Proceed against the Ministers for False Imprisonment – Met by an Act of Indemnity – My Fellow-sufferer, Mr. Bonham – Letter from him – Return to Ireland – The Miserable Triumph by which it was celebrated – Letter from Lord Holland.

With the opening of the fatal year 1800, the character of my persecution became marked with a new feature. Hitherto the violence of the government had been directed against a private individual; henceforward an insult and oppression was offered to a branch of the legislature of Ireland, by the arbitrary imprisonment of one of its members, without cause being shown, or trial or inquiry permitted. The change of circumstances was pointed out by the constitutional necessity which existed for the communication of the fact of my detention to the House of Peers, at the commencement of its dying session.

Had a spark of spirit remained in that assembly, so flagrant a breach of its privileges would not have been passed over without investigation, and, as a necessary consequence of investigation, punishment; but a market had been held, during the preceding twelvemonth, for the purchase and sale of Irish honour, spirit, and decency, and the majority of my noble compeers had been dealers in that traffic. Every particle of the commodities referred to, that could be dealt in, had been bought by Lord Castlereagh and his accomplices, in the course of those infamous barterings, which have been recently exhibited to the public gaze, and, I trust, to the public contempt, by the imperfect but unquestionably authentic publication of the private memoranda of the deceased corruptionist.

Men who had sold their country and their own honour, some for hard cash, some for bishoprics for their sons, some for the peppercorn price of advancement in that shadowy peerage from which they were themselves cutting away all reality and substance-such men, I say, were not likely to trouble themselves or the minister, by the exhibition of any indiscreet attention to their short-lived privileges, and still less by any tenderness for the sufferings of an absent member.

Honest and high-minded men had retired from the market-place of corruption and dishonour in disgust; and so there was little chance that any notice of the communication of the fact of my confinement would have been taken by the House. It would appear, nevertheless, from the following letters, that this result was not left to chance care seems to have been taken that any exertions which my friends might have been disposed to make upon the occasion, should be effectually frustrated:-

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cornwallis.

Blackrock, December 22nd.

“My Lord – My father, the late Lord Cloncurry, who felt the most sincere respect for your Excellency, upon the arrest of his son in London, conceived that by waiting upon you to explain, as far as he knew, the causes of so painful an event, he could not fail to convince you, that the imprudent conversation of a very young man who keenly felt for the horrible situation of this country at the period your Excellency arrived here, was his only fault, and that such an explanation would interest you in his favour.

Unhappily he was dissuaded from his intention; friends, whom he believed acquainted with the business, lulled his anxiety with hopes that his son’s confinement would be of short duration, and assured him that nothing criminal or dishonourable was or could be alleged. Delay proved the fallacy of these hopes; a sudden decline of health prevented any exertion, and soon deprived his son of his best friend.

My sisters and I then found ourselves alone interested and authorised to interfere for a brother, whose good sense and excellent disposition, left not a doubt on our minds but that some misrepresentation had made his Majesty’s ministers detain him in confinement; those who we thought could inform us here, say it did not come from this country; to every inquiry we have made in London, we have been answered-that it depends entirely on persons here to procure his freedom; we have good reason to believe this is the truth.

There are, indeed, many circumstances which it would be impossible to enumerate on paper, but which would prove that the violent party-prejudice so prevalent, and, no doubt, clearly perceived by your Excellency, on your first coming to Ireland, allowing no distinction between the infatuated persons who encouraged rebellion, and those who openly censured some measures pursued here, has not only injured my brother’s fame in private, by ascribing to him opinions he never entertained, and designs he holds in abhorrence, but has also so misconstrued his sentiments written and spoken, as to make it appear wise and necessary to prevent his liberation. From the moment of his arrest he has requested an investigation of whatever he is accused of; of which he is still ignorant, and now that nine months’ deprivation of air and exercise has much injured his health, he offers the security of his whole property to be at liberty in any part of England, or elsewhere.

He conveyed a message to me by a friend permitted to see him, desiring me to acquaint your Excellency with every circumstance concerning him, and to entreat your interference. Not having the honour of being known to your Excellency prevented my wishing to solicit an interview, and obliged me to adopt this method of submitting to your consideration the very melancholy situation of a brother deservedly dear to me. I understand that his detention must be communicated to the House of Peers, and think it probable he will expect some friends to notice that communication; but it would be mine and my sisters’ wish that no public discussion should be necessary, and we are, therefore, the more anxious to press the subject on your Excellency’s attention, feeling confident that your justice and humanity would, upon examination, befriend us.

With great respect, your Excellency’s very humble servant,

Charlotte Lawless.”

Lieutenant- Colonel Littlehales to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Dublin Castle, December 23rd, 1799, Monday Night.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales presents his compliments to Miss Charlotte Lawless, and, in answer to the honour of her note of this day’s date, Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales begs to assure Miss Charlotte Lawless, that he will seize the first leisure moment which may offer, to deliver to Lord Cornwallis the letter to his Excellency that Miss Charlotte Lawless has entrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales’ care.”

Lieutenant- Colonel Littlehales to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Dublin Castle, January 16th, 1800.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales presents his compliments to Miss Charlotte Lawless, and begs leave to assure her, that until this morning he was totally unacquainted with the message which has appeared in the newspapers, relative to Lord Cloncurry

It seems that Mr. Basilico, a messenger, arrived at Dublin Castle on the 14th instant, or very early yesterday morning; and brought over the message in question from the Duke of Portland to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant.

Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales is convinced that Miss C. Lawless will be satisfied with this explanation as far as relates to himself; without which Miss C. Lawless must have thought the verbal assurance that Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales gave to her on this occasion, must have appeared in a very extraordinary point of view.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cornwallis.

Blackrock, Monday, Jan. 20th, 1800.

“My Lord – When I first addressed your Excellency, I had two objects in view – to interest your humanity in behalf of my brother, Lord Cloncurry, and to ascertain whether (as I had been informed) any notification of his situation was to be made from authority to the House of Lords. Your Excellency was pleased to send me an answer to that letter by Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales, in very kind and gracious terms, for which I beg leave to return my sincere thanks. Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales fullyexplained the reasons which must prevent your Excellency’s interference for my brother, unless some official mention of him gave you an opportunity.

As to any message to the House of Peers, he told me that part of my letter had not been understood by your Excellency, but that he could assure me it was not in the speech from the throne, nor did he think there was to be any such from his Majesty, as in that case your Excellency must know of it. Fully satisfied with this assurance, I went to Dublin to entreat the friends of my brother not to mention his name at all in the house. Judge, my Lord, of my surprise and mortification when I read in the public papers of the next day, the message delivered by your Excellency’s command. It was, certainly, so worded as to leave the fairest and best open for a moderate and respectful recommendation from the house when they thanked his Majesty for the communication; and I cannot wonder at the reproaches I now suffer for having prevented the kind friends of my brother from availing themselves of this only opportunity of serving him, at least, by doing justice to his character.

Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales has informed me that the directions relative to the message did not arrive from England until the night of the fourteenth inst. Would that I had known it but one hour before the meeting of the House! But it is now too late: the opportunity I have lost can never be regained. I must relinquish all hopes of alleviating the sufferings of my persecuted and unfortunate brother. All my solicitations in his behalf are unavailing, and all my exertions baffled, unless your Lordship’s good sense, and the innate rectitude of your heart, lead you to perceive the injustice that has been done him, and suggest to your humanity some way in which you could be useful to him, and relieve the painful sensations I must ever feel from having erroneously restrained the good intentions of his friends.

With the utmost respect, &c. &c.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Dublin Castle, January 22nd, 1800.

“Madam – My Lord Lieutenant has received the honour of your letter of the 20th instant, relative to your brother, Lord Cloncurry, and directs me to signify to you that his Excellency was not aware of the message respecting his situation until a short period before he delivered his speech from the throne.

Had the message in regard to Lord Cloncurry arrived sooner, his Majesty’s commands would have been equally imperative upon his Excellency; nor can he persuade himself; that bringing the subject into discussion, on the part of his Lordship’s friends, could have been attended with any good consequences whatsoever.

His Excellency enjoins me to repeat to you his concern that it is not in his power to interfere in any degree respecting the situation of Lord Cloncurry.

In consequence of the interview which I had the honour of holding with you on this occasion, I beg leave to assure you, that had I received the slightest intimation that the message in question had reached my Lord Lieutenant, I should immediately have considered myself fully authorized in communicating it to you; but I was totally unacquainted with it until, to my great astonishment, I read it in the newspapers. I have the honour to be, Madam,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,

E. B. Littlehales.”

It would be a work of supererogation to attempt to guide the judgment of an impartial reader in reference to this transaction. The only regret I feel in bringing it to light is, that a portion of the dirt exposed in the operation seems to lie upon a worthy man. Lord Cornwallis, however, like most others in his position before and since, was but the humble tool of an English faction. He had a viceroy over him in the person of the arch-enemy of Ireland – the too notorious Viscount Castlereagh. I will therefore willingly believe the statement of Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales, and think that the falsehood, treachery, and deceit, manifested in the affair referred to in the foregoing letters, was certainly not chargeable to the lieutenant-colonel, who repudiated it with becoming and manifestly sincere indignation, and possibly might not have been known to Lord Cornwallis, in such a sense as to have made his Excellency a partner in the meanness. To use a Dublin-Castle phrase, I will set it down that “the whole matter was arranged on the other side.”

An act of extraordinary meanness and treachery it, nevertheless, was, whoever performed it; and as such it naturally excited much irritation and disgust, not only in my own mind, but in the minds of the most prudent and patient of my friends The vehemence of these feelings was increased by the renewal of the act for suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus, by means of which alone the imprisonment of a man against whom it was confessed that no crime could be proved, was continued. It had all along been my anxious wish to provoke a trial, and to do so, if needful, by exasperating my persecutors. The urgent entreaties of my friends had hitherto turned me from this course; but now, it would appear from the following documents, even the kindest and most patient, as well as the most generous and earnest, among them, thought that forbearance had been pushed to its utmost limits. Copies of the following letters I find in the handwriting of my sister; the person to whom they were addressed was, I believe, the Earl of Moira:-

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord —

“My Lord – Amongst the painful consequences of my brother’s confinement, that of not having the means of communicating anything to him which should be private, is one of the most injurious to him.

I have not been able to make him understand the kind intentions of your Lordship in respect to the petition. In the impatience natural in his situation, he imagines that his sisters and friends, in mistaken tenderness, refuse consent to the various modes he suggests, at every opportunity, either to vindicate his fame, or publish his wrongs. In a packet he contrived to send me lately, he desired that the enclosed letter to Me. Pitt, and another to the public, should be sent and published; and a memorial, nearly as hostile, be presented to the Commons, on the event of the renewing the Act of Suspension; declaring, that if we prevented this being done, he would authorise a person in London to have his wishes ful filled.

Alarmed, lest he should do anything rash, we consulted those here whom we thought best capable of advising, what might with safety, be done. A very moderate petition to the House of Commons being approved of by everyone, Mr. G. Ponsonby, who is so good as to be the bearer of this letter, has undertaken the conduct of it. In the present seemingly distracted state of politics, I fear the complaint of an individual is not likely to he attended to. The same cause has probably prevented your lordship from putting in practice your most kind and friendly intention.

As I wish your Lordship to be informed of whatever steps we take in this business, I have taken the liberty to inform you of what is now proposed, and also of enclosing the letter to Mr. Pitt, which will show your Lordship, better than anything I can say, the situation of my beloved brother’s mind, under his cruel persecution. I have the honour to remain,

Your Lordship’s obliged and very humble servant,

C. Lawless.

I must again entreat to be excused for this repeated intrusion on your Lordship’s attention.”

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord —,

Blackrock, Saturday, January 17th.

“My Lord – I had the honour to receive your Lordship’s letter on Thursday last, and cannot sufficiently express my obligation for the contents. The construction your Lordship has had the goodness to point out as liable to be given to the part of the petition relative to residing in another country during the war, is now very obvious to me; though I had not, when I adopted that idea, considered it in any other light, than that, in the present state of this country, it could not be very desirable to reside here; and that my brother’s health is so far injured by his confinement, as to make some change absolutely necessary; whilst his having uniformly demanded trial or liberation, and having spurned, with indignation, at anything like concession, I too hastily conceived as sufficient to prevent any attempt to class him with “men who acknowledged criminality, and compounded for the penalty of expatriation.” I see that I was wrong; and now enclose the petition without that objectionable proposal.

The best hope I have yet indulged of having my brother restored to me, arises from the interest your Lordship has so kindly evinced; for, however anxious his just pride and conscious innocence may render him to force, if possible, a public investigation, I must own that, in conjunction with some of his best friends, it is my wish to prevent his taking any step that may make it the interest of those who have already trampled on justice in their conduct towards him, to go a little further, in order to justify what they have done. An appeal, by petition, to both houses of parliament, is a measure my brother has been particularly urgent with us to adopt; but this is more hostile than anything we have yet done; and should it leave no alternative but to liberate him or grant him a trial, I have seen too much of what misrepresentation and perjury can do, to risk pushing them so far, without much deliberation.

A petition to the privy council has been advised; but though that could have no bad consequence, I rather hope it has been deferred until the result of that your Lordship has so kindly consented to present, is known. Should it not be successful, I must again intrude, to have your Lordship’s opinion as to the propriety of a petition to parliament.

With the most sincere, &c.”

With the foregoing I found the original, in my own handwriting, of the letter to Mr. Pitt, referred to in the first. My address to the minister was not very complimentary; hut he had earned scant courtesy from me, and as he had the key of my prison door in his pocket, his was the best of the battle. It is unnecessary now to publish this letter; but there is one matter referred to in it which is of present interest – I allude to the scandalous system of corruption, by means of which Ireland has been, and to this hour is, governed. The traffic in peerages, whether as matter of sale or of purchase, is not indeed now carried on to the same extent as formerly; that article, in fact, is scarcely in the market, Irishmen being too poor either to buy, or be bought by it; and so the circulating medium, by the use of which the country is bought and sold, is no longer earldoms, viscounties, or baronies; but stipendiary magistracies, vice-guardianships, and retired sinecures in the Four Courts.

Meanwhile, during the course of all these ineffectual efforts of my friends to stir the hearts of the authorities with sensations either of justice or mercy, I was still suffering under the unrelaxed rigors of my imprisonment. Two warders (not the cleanliest of human creatures) slept nightly in my small cell, which served me for refectory and dormitory, as well as for dressing and reception rooms. At the door, night and day, stood an armed sentry, and at each relief the whole guard entered my apartment, and made themselves acquainted with my personal appearance. Companions or associates I had none. Whatever air or exercise I took was upon the leads over my prison, as the shouts of ” Bloody Irishman,” which greeted me from the mob allowed to assemble upon the parade when I was brought there for exercise in custody of my guards, obliged me to decline that indulgence. Newspapers and books were capriciously granted, or at times withheld altogether. Even a physician was not allowed to visit me, without a special warrant from his Grace of Portland.

All these extremities of prison discipline, he it recollected, were applied to an untried and innocent man; while at the same time, and within the ramparts of the same fortress in which I was thus tortured, the Earl of Thanet, who had been convicted of an attempt to rescue Arthur O’Connor, and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, was suffered to enjoy all the conveniences, and luxuries, and society, which his fortune and rank enabled him to procure. I entertained no jealousy, even at the time, of the noble earl, who was a worthy, excellent man, on the score of his better treatment; but I mention the circumstance on account of the contrast it bore to my own sufferings.

In the midst of all this rigour of seclusion, however, and while the access of my friends was either prohibited or jealously watched, my cell was still open to my enemies. The visits of Mr. Cooke, having for their object (as I believe) to betray me into unguarded admissions, have been already mentioned. I was also subjected to another very curious intrusion. This was a visit from Mrs. J— and Mrs. P—, both at the time pretty notorious in Ireland, and the former nearly related to a learned and still more notorious lord. To my great surprise, these ladies broke the solitude of my cell one morning, and after many expressions of commiseration and condolence, they confidentially informed me that they had been enabled to visit me through the kind permission of a friend of theirs who filled the place of chere amie to the Duke of Portland, and who, they had no doubt, could he induced to interfere still more effectually in my behalf.

All that was wanting to begin a proceeding for my liberation through that channel was, in short, a deposit of £500 in the hands of Mesdames J— and P—. I declined the offer, being persuaded at the moment that all the three ladies were engaged in a plot to rob me. My two visitors, however, were not so easily turned from the scent of prey; and no sooner had they left me than they waited upon one of my sisters, who was at the time in London, and repeated the offer to her, producing a pencil writing purporting to be from myself, and authorizing my sister to advance the money. She detected the forgery, and so the matter fell to the ground. The light in which the ladies looked upon the affair is referred to in the following letter from another of my sisters:-

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to Lord Cloncurry.

Maretimo, January 6th.

“If anything could afford me a moment’s pleasure, whilst your persecution continues, it was the sight of a letter written by you. O, my Val., do not let your admirable fortitude forsake you. Something must – something shall be done, ere long, depend on it. Whilst we had good reason to think that open and hostile means of seeking redress would only prolong your sufferings, we have forborne to use them; but think not, from thence, that we could possibly be passive or unoccupied about you. If our efforts have been unavailing, they have been constant as various, and have, I trust, at last made that impression in your favour, which must be useful, now that the cruel length of your confinement, and the renewed power to prolong it, determine us to more public exertions.

Since Mr. Burne’s return from England, Lord Moira, whom I had requested to present a memorial to the king, sent to desire every particular in regard to your arrest, &c. &c. which we could give; he has now in his hands a full statement of all the proceedings of government towards you, and also our well-founded suspicions of the foulest private treachery. I expect daily an account of the result of his presenting the memorial, which was shorter than your own, but much to the same purport, and signed by me in your name. Lady Clare, before she went to England, promised me that she would make the Chancellor see Mr. Pitt on the subject; and Mary had a conversation with Lord Clare, in which he promised not to be against our wishes, so that, at any rate, we may, I think, depend on his not opposing what we are now about to do. I think, with you, the memorial should go to the privy council first, and if not immediately attended to, then to parliament; and previous to being presented there, we shall, without delay, enclose it to all whose support we can expect.

Mrs. P— must have mistaken your character strangely, or have been in great want of a little cash, which is much the most likely. Far from acquainting me, as she told you, with her manoeuvres, she cautiously concealed them; and the first I heard of her was by a report she circulated, that you might have been liberated if your sisters had been generous!

God protect and enable you to get through your unexampled persecution. How can I express my feelings for you, and my gratitude for being once more allowed to address you. Mary is here with us, and tolerably well; she and Valentina demand, with me, that you take care of yourself.

Adieu, most truly adored brother,


The petition to parliament shall be sent very soon. Mr. Burne wished to have Grattan’s opinion, that there may be nothing unparliamentary objected, and goes to him, in the country, for that purpose, this week.”

As time wore on, the petty annoyances of my jailer became intolerable, and I complained – to what sort of tribunal, and with what chance of success, will appear in the following letters from the Prime Minister:-

The Duke of Portland to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall, 18th February, 1800.

“My Lord – I have received your Lordship’s letter of yesterday’s date, and am sorry to be under the necessity of informing you that your application to be released from confinement cannot possibly be complied with.

Your Lordship may be assured that what you have stated with regard to the treatment you receive shall meet with due attention; but, in justice to the character of Colonel Smith, I cannot refrain from expressing the confidence I feel that he would not suffer any unnecessary rigour to be exercised towards your Lordship, nor withhold from you any accommodation that the nature of your situation will admit oft

The letter which your Lordship requested me to forward to your sister was despatched last night. I am, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,


The Duke of Portland to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall, 16th June, 1800.

“My Lord – I have had the honour to receive your Lordship’s letter of the 13th instant, in which you express your wish that the joy you feel upon his Majesty’s providential deliverance from demoniac wickedness may be made known to his Majesty; and requiring to know why an inquiry has not been made into the insults which you state to have received since your imprisonment.

With respect to the wish your Lordship has communicated to me, you may depend upon my taking the earlies opportunity of fulfilling it; and as to the inquiry which you state me to have promised you to have made, it was made without any delay; and on the result of the investigation, it did not appear that the conduct of the officers in the Tower, under whose immediate care your Lordship is placed, had been wanting in that respect which is due to your Lordship, or that they had exceeded the duty imposed upon them by the warrant under which your Lordship is committed. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,


John Reeves, Es q., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

Tuesday, 10th Jane, 1800.

“My dear Madam – Since I received your obliging letter, I made a visit to your brother, and I found him in the same good health and spirits that he has enjoyed of late. He is not, however, without expressing the soreness he feels from his long confinement, which, indeed, is not to be wondered at. I heard, some weeks ago, that there was some movement at Whitehall towards a reconsideration of the cases of confinement, among which your brother’s would have been one; but I do not hear that anything has been resolved upon. I should have been glad to communicate this to him, but there are always persons in the room when I am there, who convey to persons they like to gratify everything I should say that looks a little interesting. Upon that point of repeating what is said and done, your brother, the last time I was with him, expressed some resentment, and mentioned the name of a person who will hear of it, and, of course, not let it pass unnoticed.

He told me he had a wish to send up to his Majesty an address of congratulation, but he had no pen and ink. Pen and ink he certainly might have for such a purpose; but, I suppose, as it is not allowed him generally in the way he likes, and as he seems to persist in his first design of not asking for, or, indeed, accepting any accommodation, this design is postponed till his attorney comes to town to do this for him, which, however, seems an odd method.

But with all these signs of ill-humour and resentment-for which, I confess, I see an excuse-I repeat that he seems in good health and better spirits than he used to be in.

You do me, my dear Madam, great kindness in thus laying your commands upon me; and if I am to be reminded by such obliging notice under your own hand, I shall have an interest in being, perhaps, negligent in acquainting you regularly of our friend’s health. Pray make my remembrance to your sister-the only one, I suppose, who is now with you-and to Lady Clonmell, whom I beg you to acquaint that I have been at Richmond, and seen his lordship well; and that he and Dr. Daltrey made me a visit. Pray tell her that, in addition to the mortification I felt at going out of town without seeing her, I learnt at Richmond that his lordship stayed three or four days after my return. If you ever see the Lees, pray acquaint them I am in the land of the living. Believe me, my dear Madam,

Yours, ever most sincerely,

John Reeves.”

A circumstance now occurred which filled the cup of my sufferings to overflowing, the tale of which I will tell in words not my own:-

The Hon. Charlotte Lawless to the Duke of Portland. [Draft in my sister’s handwriting.]

August 16th.

“My Lord – Mr. Burne, the gentleman who, by your Grace’s permission, was admitted to my brother, Lord Cloncurry, last September, is now going to London for the purpose of transacting some matters relative to his private business. I shall be much obliged to your Grace to grant Mr. Burne the order for seeing my brother, which he will solicit on his arrival in London.

Seventeen months’ severe confinement must surely plead my brother’s cause as strongly as any representation the feelings of his friends could dictate. One circumstance, however, has such immediate and pressing claim on the humanity of those who could intercede for his release, that I cannot resist mentioning it to your Grace. The amiable, interesting girl to whom my brother was to have been married on the eve of his arrest, and who, from that day, has declined in health, is now pronounced almost past recovery. Her friends still hope some benefit from change of air. It is scarce necessary to suggest that seeing my brother at liberty would be much more likely to save her life. We have not ventured to hint her alarming situation to my brother as yet; but there is now a fatal necessity to prepare him for the worst. Strongly attached as he is, we tremble to think what he will suffer if prevented following her wherever she may be advised to go. Nothing but the very urgent occasion could force me to mention such a subject. May I supplicate your Grace’s consideration of it, and your pardon for this unavoidable intrusion.

With the utmost respect, &c. &c.”

John Burne, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

London, September 1st, 1800.

“My dear Miss Charlotte – Immediately upon my arrival in London, I wrote to the Duke of Portland to request permission to see your brother; but having waited for an answer two days without receiving it, I wrote again to his Grace, in terms of great politeness, but some little asperity, which I thought the occasion required. Very soon after, I received an answer, intimating that an order had been issued to admit me to the Tower. I went there the next morning, which was last Saturday, and had the pleasure of seeing your brother as well as I remember to have ever seen him before. His whole appearance indicates perfect health, and his spirits retain all their former cheerfulness and vivacity. I remained with him near three hours, and read to him all the papers you gave me; but he declined keeping any of them, for if he had, they must have been inspected by the governor, with whom he is much displeased. He told me, among a variety of other things, that he has now perfectly made up his mind to his confinement, and that he would rather remain in prison for life, than be indebted for his liberty to the interference of certain persons whom I shall mention when we meet. He was much pleased with the account of what is doing at Lyons; and, in every other respect, seemed satisfied with the conduct of those who act for him. I mentioned the indisposition as delicately as I could, and also read the part of your letter relative to her. When you write, inform me particularly how she is, and what I should communicate to him relative to her. As the Duke of Portland’s order was merely for one interview, I have been obliged to make another application, and hope to obtain a general order as last year. I must give your brother £30 out of your money, as he has immediate occasion for it. We purpose going out of town on Wednesday morning to Tunbridge, where we shall stay about two or three weeks, and then return to London. Direct your letters to No. 39, St. James’s-street, and they will be forwarded. The post is just going out, so must conclude sooner than I intended. Mrs. B. joins me in affectionate regards to you, Mrs. W., Miss V., &c., and believe me, Most sincerely yours, &c.

J. Burne.”

John Burne, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

London, September 26th, 1800.

“My dear Miss Charlotte – Upon receiving your letter containing the sad intelligence of Miss R.’s death, I was so circumstanced as to be unable to leave Tunbridge for some days, and, therefore, thought the most advisable thing I could do was to write to Mr. Foulkes (who has constant access to the Tower), and desire him to communicate to your brother, in the most delicate manner possible, that Miss R. was most alarmingly ill of a disorder with whish she had been long troubled. Foulkes answered myletter the next post, acquainting me that he had done as I directed, and that he had written to you by your brother’s directions.

I then wrote another letter to Foulkes, informing him of Miss R.’s death, and desiring him to communicate it with all the caution and delicacy he was master of; and I even suggested the terms in which he should mention it. I have reason to believe my directions were accurately followed; and upon my arrival in town, I went yesterday to the Tower (having obtained a permanent order for admission), and had the pleasure of seeing our poor friend infinitely better than I could have expected, though still muchdepressed by his recent misfortune. I sat with him near two hours, and we had a great deal of conversation; but as he declined touching upon the melancholy subject, I studiously avoided it. He repeatedly expressed his most implicit confidence in you, and his wish that you should, in every instance relative to his affairs, act according to your own discretion, without consulting him.

As to Lyons, he approves highly of what has been done, and wishes you to go on exactly in the same manner. As to the house in Merrion-row, he thinks it should be sold, if the value can be obtained, but not otherwise, as he is not very anxious about selling it at present. He wishes you would be particular in inquiring whether Colonel Ryal, when here, applied for liberty to see him, and was refused? He seems highly incensed against the governor; and I found it in vain to endeavour to soften his resentment. He gave me orders to send him some books, and seems now perfectly reconciled to his confinement, insomuch that he desired me not to make any application for his enlargement, and declared that if he were sure of obtaining his liberty by applying for it, he would not apply.

Reading is his grand resource, and he seems to take great pleasure in it. I am the only visitor he permits to see him, and he has given positive orders that all others should be excluded; he has even desired me to write to Mr. Reeves to acquaint him that he could not be admitted. I shall make it my business to see him as often as possible while in London. Jane desires to be remembered to you, Miss V., &c. She has seen Lady C., who goes to Ramsgate to-morrow. Most truly yours, &c.

J. B.”

John Burne, Esq., to the Duke of Portland. [Draft in Mr. Burne’s handwriting.]

“My Lord – It is now upwards of a year since I first troubled your Grace on the subject of Lord Cloncurry’s imprisonment; and though my application was unsuccessful, I was persuaded his sufferings would long since have atoned for his offences, whatever they were; but I find he was doomed to experience a calamity which has recently befallen him, and which infinitely surpasses everything he had previously endured.

His affections had been long engaged to a young lady possessed of every amiable qualification and accomplishment, who had consented to become his wife; and the day for their marriage was nearly fixed when he was arrested under your Grace’s warrant. This unfortunate event preyed upon the spirits of the young lady, gradually undermined her health, and at length she died of a broken heart about 10 days ago.

It is not easy to conceive a situation so truly pitiable as that of the wretched young man who has sustained this irreparable loss, embittered as it is by the reflection that he was the involuntary cause of all.

Had I consulted his wishes, I should net have communicated this to your Grace, because he is not now anxious to be released from a confinement which corresponds with the melancholy state of his mind; but foreseeing consequences that may arise from his present situation, even worse than death, I thought it my duty to mention these circumstances, and it will be for your Grace to decide whether anything can be done for the relief of this unfortunate nobleman, who has now sustained a degree of punishment for any offence he may have committed, infinitely greater than any human laws ever inflicted on the most atrocious offender. So far as a regard for the public safety might interfere with his liberation, I think that if your Grace would allow me the honour of an interview with you for a very few minutes, I could suggest a mode by which every ground of apprehension on that account might be effectually removed.”

The Duke of Portland to John Burne, Esq.

London, Friday evening, 3rd October, 1800.

“Sir – I should have returned an immediate answer to the letter you wrote me on the 29th of last month, had I not been desirous, in consideration of the melancholy circumstances with which you acquainted me respecting Lord Cloncurry, of finding my own opinion erroneous, and that I might be advised that I could be enabled to accede to your wishes. I therefore communicated your letter to his Majesty’s law servants (whose absence from town prevented my receiving an answer from them till to-day), and I am very sorry to acquaint you that it contains an unqualified confirmation of the opinion I had formed, that a Secretary of State has not the power of bailing on commitment for that species of offence which is the cause of Lord Cloncurry’s confinement in the Tower. [His Grace does not specify what that offence was. His silence was prudent; as the offence of being obnoxious to the servants of the crown would not readily have been found in the statute-hook, even in those days.] I therefore will not give you the trouble of calling upon me.

I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


John Burne, Esq., to the Duke of Portland. [Draft in Mr. B.’s handwriting.]

“My Lord – I have been honoured by your Grace’s obliging answer, acquainting me with the opinion of his Majesty’s law servants- “that a Secretary of State has not the power of bailing on commitment for that species of offence which is the cause of Lord Cloncurry’s confinement in the Tower.” I return your Grace my sincere thanks for this polite communication, but though it is not so favourable as I expected, I think I can perceive the natural humanity of your heart appearing through your letter; and, therefore, I venture, with the most profound respect, to ask your Grace, whether there be any other channel through which a similar application might be made with any probability of success, or whether there be any mode in which this unfortunate young man can be relieved? His sufferings are now so acute that some intercourse with his friends seems essential to his preservation; and yet I, who am almost his only friend in England, must leave this country in the course of two or three days; my distracting anxiety for his fate, when I can no longer afford him any consolation, will, I am sure, induce your Grace to pardon me for troubling you so often.”

John Burne, Esq., to the Duke of Portland. [Draft in Mr. B.’s handwriting.]

8th October, 1800.

“My Lord – I cannot recollect that any letter which I have had the honour of addressing to your Grace, deviated in the least from that degree of respect to which your rank and situation entitles you; and yet I must presume that some unintentional impropriety has escaped me, and prevented your Grace from noticing my last application on behalf of Lord Cloncurry. Contrary to the wishes expressed by his Lordship, I ventured to acquaint your Grace with a misfortune of the most afflicting kind, which he had sustained in consequence of his confinement, and which I conceived amply sufficient to fill up the measure of his sufferings. I also took the liberty of mentioning, that I could suggest an effectual mode by which the rigour of his confinement might be mitigated, without any possible risk as to the security of his person or the public safety; and as the only objects of his confinement must be-to punish for past and to guard against future offences, and as the former of these objects had been already so fatally fulfilled, and I was ready to point out a mode of fulfilling the other, I confess I entertained the most sanguine hope of receiving a favourable answer; but I have the double mortification of being unable to obtain any relief for my unfortunate friend, and of experiencing a degree of neglect to myself; which I assure your Grace, I am utterly unused to, and never intentionally merited.”

The Duke of Portland to John Burne, Esq.

Bustrode, Thursday, 9th October, 1800.

“Sir – I am extremely sorry to find by the letter I have received from you this morning, that my answer to yours of the 29th September has never reached you, and that it has been owing to some inadvertence of which, though I was not aware, I must acknowledge that I am wholly to blame. However, after long search having recovered my letter, I send it to you exactly in the same state in which I put it out of my hands, by which you will be convinced that every attention was paid to your representation, with which it depended upon me to treat it.

I am, sir, your very humble servant,


The Duke of Portland to John Burne, Esq.

Bustrode, Sunday, 12th October, 1800.

“Sir – As I should not be justified in giving you any encouragement to expect that there is any channel through which an application for the liberation of Lord Cloncurry can be made with any probability of success, I think it most becoming to avow the opinion, and to dissuade you from the attempt. I am not aware that Lord Cloncurry has ever been denied the relief which the intercourse of his friends could afford him, and you may depend upon my being disposed to allow him every indulgence which the cause of his confinement will admit of being shown to him.

I am, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,


John Hume, Esq., to the Hon. Charlotte Lawless.

“My dear Miss Charlotte – I have seen your poor brother two or three times since my last letter, and he still continues to preserve that firmness under his accumulated sufferings which was scarcely to be expected. I have spoken very little to him on the late event; but as Colonel Cockburn enclosed to me an extract from Miss R.’s will, I thought it advisable to communicate it to him, but in such a manner as not to shock his feelings. He listened with all the composure which great sensibility, governed by an excellent understanding, would permit.

I urged him, as strongly as I could, to take care of his health, and used every topic of consolation that occurred to me; but I was happy to find my advice unnecessary; for he assured me, that the more he suffered the more anxious he would be to take care of his health, in order that he might be able, at a future day, to assert his innocence, and show his resentment. I encouraged this sentiment, and think it will be the means of preserving him. He never looked better than at present, and I think you may not be uneasy about his health; but he sees nobody except me, and has given orders that all other visitors, of whatever description, should be refused admission.

Soon after my return to town, I wrote to the Duke of Portland, mentioning, among other matters, the death of Miss R., the cause of it, and the dreadful addition such a misfortune must make to the sufferings of our poor friend. I waited a week without receiving any answer, and then determined to write again to his Grace, complaining, in pointed terms, of the contemptuous silence with which he had treated me. In answer to this letter I received two letters from his Grace, written in his own hand, and enclosed under one cover. In the first he apologises for not noticing my letter sooner, but assures me it was owing to some inadvertence in not sending the answer, which he had written several days before. The other enclosure was that answer, in which he mentions that he had laid my letter before his Majesty’s law servants, and that they were of opinion “a Secretary of State could not bail for the offence for which Lord Cloncurry was committed;” and, therefore, he says, it is useless to give me the trouble of the interview which I had solicited.

All this appears manifest fabrication and evasion; but still I wrote him a polite answer, thanking him for his communication, and requesting he would tell me was there any other mode by which I could obtain relief for my injured friend? To this I expect an answer to-morrow; but, at all events, as he has alluded to the law affairs, I intend waiting on the attorney-general next Monday, with little hope, however, of doing any good. I ordered the Courier and to be sent, and hope you have received them before this. Jane has just received your letter, and all your commissions shall be attended to. I am to see your brother on Tuesday, and shall mention everything you desire. I also intend to make some arrangements for hearing of him regularly. We are to leave this on Wednesday night, if nothing important prevent us. Remember us to Miss V., and believe me, dear Miss Charlotte,

Ever truly yours,

J. Burne.”

Four weary months of suffering succeeded the event to which the foregoing letters refer; but not until the date of the following do I find among my papers any evidence of renewed exertions for the attainment of my liberty:-

Lord Cloncurry to John Foulkes, Esq.

Tower, January 1st, 1801.

“My dear Mr. Foulkes – The papers I now send you, and those I before troubled you with, contain a rough sketch of pretty nearly all I can think of relative to my unfortunate situation, my sufferings, and their causes. I am now convinced that no other means of relief is in my power than the chance of provoking an examination, or a trial, by declaring all those truths which ministers hoped to bury in my prison and my grave. You know well how to proceed; but 1 fear my good friend, Mr. Burne, may be fearful of taking those decided steps I am now determined upon.

I must, therefore, request that you will have my petition to parliament printed and presented as soon after the meeting as possible; if it is unsuccessful, you will then have it published in the papers and magazines; and as soon as they introduce the bill to renew the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, you must publish my letters to Mr. W. Dundas, Mr. Pitt, and The Public: you may then follow it up as you can, for I shall not have an opportunity of writing to you again; but if nothing else can be done, I may be removed, at least, to country air. I have prepared a short memorial for the privy council, which, whenever you can call, I shall have written out, and presented, as a last effort in that way.

The following advertisement, if it can legally be published in the papers, would serve me much.

“Whereas, I have received several letters from unknown writers, stating that one —, of the public office in Bow-street, had endeavoured to prevail on the writers, and on others, to commit perjury, by offering them large rewards if they would charge me with certain political crimes, and falsely swear to the same. Now, being actuated by a desire of public justice and of self-preservation, I hereby offer a reward of £200 to any person who will prosecute the said —, or the writers of the abovemeationed letters to conviction.


“London, January 1st, 1801.”

“You will be so good as to send copies of all the papers to Mr. Burne; for, as I scrawl them in my bed, they may be made much more perfect; and after they are printed in the newspapers, they may he put all together in a pamphlet; and they must be followed by several spirited paragraphs, which I will pay for. I could send you a long account of the ill-treatment all the prisoners receive here, but I think it better to say no more at present.

I was very sorry to hear you were ill, but hope soon to see you well and strong; for you are my right hand now. Pray have everything ready for the meeting of parliament. Do not be fearful of publishing. Keep duplicates of everything you send me, or bring for signature. Tell Mr. Burne what I have said, as I cannot write again; if you have nothing from him, tell the bearer when you expect it, for yours truly,


Lord Cloncurry to John Burne, Esq.

“My dear Burne – I declare to you, in the most solemn manner (what I hoped you never had doubted), that I am as totally innocent of all political crime or treason as the child in the womb. No charge ever was made against me; and I, myself, read the warrant which committed me to the Tower on suspicion. In ’98, I was arrested merely by advice from Ireland; and the only questions put to me by the Lord Chancellor Loughborough were- “If I was a United Irishman?” and “Why I subscribed to defend Coigly at Maidstone?” No papers on politics were found on me, for I never had such. In ’99, when I was again arrested, I was questioned by Mr. Pitt, who said he had positive information that I had been at a meeting where a plan was laid for making United Irish Societies in London. I answered, it was not so; but that I would answer no questions whilst in custody. You know, my dear B., that if I was at such a meeting, it was not a crime. But ministers know well I had no secret politics. I pray you, therefore, do not let my friends alone deem me guilty, and stoop to ask favours, where the plan I have proposed is so much nobler. But if they prefer the begging system, I must desire Foulkes to act without further consultation.

Send me the £50 I wrote for.


Petition of Lord Cloncurry to the House of Commons.

To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, the humble petition of Valentine Lord Cloncurry sheweth-

That your petitioner was arrested on the 30th day of April, 1798, by virtue of a warrant signed by the Duke of Portland, one of his Majesty’s principal secretaries of state, on a charge of suspicion of high treason. That some days after, he was brought before several of his Majesty’s ministers, where many questions were put to him by the Lord Chancellor, which he refused to answer.

Some days after, whilst petitioner was yet in confinement, John Reeves, Esq., a friend of petitioner’s, came to inform him that his Majesty’s ministers would liberate him on bail; which, however, petitioner refused, saying, that besides the injustice of demanding bail from a person who could not be accused of crime, he had a large fortune depending on his father’s good opinion, and could not submit to anything which could leave a doubt of his innocence ‘and loyalty.

This your petitioner repeated to his Majesty’s ministers, when he was brought before them the latter end of June, in the same year. But Mr. Reeves, who was then in an adjoining room, being called in, he, at the suggestion of the Lord Chancellor, volunteered himself as bail for petitioner; who, immediately on his being liberated, offered, of his own accord, to answer all questions his Majesty’s ministers could put to him, relative to his conduct; and, accordingly, he had an explanation with the Lord Chancellor, which he hoped would have removed all the unjust suspicions of his Majesty’s ministers.

And so confident was your petitioner of the innocence and rectitude of his own conduct, that when he afterwards went to Harrowgate for the recovery of his health, he did not hesitate to enter into matrimonial engagements, which, with his father’s consent, were to have taken place the following year. But how cruelly was he disappointed, when, on the 14th day of April, 1799, he was dragged from his bed, on a warrant from the Duke of Portland, for suspicion of treason, because, as Mr. Pitt told him, some days after, when brought before the privy council, there was information that petitioner was in company with United Irishmen, in February, 1797.

This your petitioner declared his total ignorance of; but he prayed to be confronted with his accusers, or liberated, as his prospects in life would be ruined if he did not fulfil the engagements he was then under. Petitioner then expressed his respect for government, but declined answering questions which might be so twisted as to injure him. He was then remanded, and afterwards brought before Messrs. — and —, of Bow-street; but refused to speak with such gentry, especially as petitioner had reason to suspect of robbery and subornation of perjury.

Petitioner was then (May 8th, ’99) committed to the Tower, and thrown into the room belonging to the lamplighter of that fortress, whence he was afterwards removed, by the humanity of the governor, into a somewhat better apartment, but still very unfit for a prison, being a low garret, admitting the heat of summer, and the winter’s rain. In this room he has been confined, with two other persons, for near two years, and treated with greater severity than any prisoner in the Tower ever has been. The walk which other prisoners used is debarred him, and he cannot have the use of his limbs, unless he submit to be exhibited and insulted on the public parade. His rest is hourly disturbed at night by a sentry placed within two yards of his bed; and though he has repeatedly complained to his Majesty’s ministers of his unprecedented ill-treatment, he could obtain no redress.

Petitioner, however, feels confident that the humanity of this House will put an end to his cruel (and, he hopes to prove, unjustifiable) sufferings – sufferings so great, that if his mind did not revolt at the name, he would prefer the death of a traitor a thousand times before them. A very large part of his landed property is out of lease, and uncultivated; his confinement has cost him above £100,000 sterling, the life of a kind and beloved father, and of a betrothed wife. In short, life would be no longer supportable to him, if he did not hope for an opportunity to vindicate his character, and to prove his wrongs, which he firmly hopes from the justice and humanity of this honourable House. And he will ever pray, &c.”

Colonel Smith to Lord Cloncurry.

Tower, 17th January, 1801.

“Colonel Smith has the honour to acquaint Lord Cloncurry, that he this day put into Mr. Falkener’s hand his Lordship’s letter, having first obtained authority from Mr. King (in the absence of the Duke of Portland) so to do.

Colonel Smith is desired by Mr. Falkener, to present Mr. Falkener’s compliments to Lord Cloncurry, and to say, as every prisoner now confined in the tower was committed under the warrant of his Majesty’s Secretary of State, and not by any order of the Privy Council, Mr. Falkener cannot take any other cognizance of it, than by putting his Lordship’s letter, as delivered to him, into the hands of the Duke of Portland; and that as soon as Mr. Falkener receives his Grace’s sentiments upon it, Mr. Falkener will have the honour to transmit to Lord Cloncurry his answer.”

John Foulkes, Esq., to the Hon. Miss Lawless.

London, 14th February, 1801.

“Madam – I flatter myself you will pardon my having so long delayed answering the letter I had the honour of receiving from you at the close of last month, when I say it has not been from forgetfulness or inattention that I have done so, but from the daily hope of being able to send a more satisfactory answer than I yet can do.

A day or two before the receipt of your letter, Lord Cloncurry had received one from Mr. Falkener, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the contents of which led me to expect that early attention would be paid to his Lordship’s memorial. This expectation induced me to put off my answer to your letter from day to day; but no further notice having yet been taken of the memorial, and the distracted state of his Majesty’s councils at this time rendering it improbable that it should immediately be attended to, I will not longer delay my answer to your letter. Indeed I would not so long have suffered you to remain in the anxious suspense you must have felt, had I not sent a private packet to Mr. Burne, which was calculated to relieve that anxiety, and, in some measure, to answer the queries contained in your letter.

With regard to the change of ministry, I will just observe, that, although it may delay the answer to the memorial, it cannot, I think, be ultimately unfavourable to it. Undoubtedly we are not to expect a chancre of system; but I cannot persuade myself that a case of individual oppression will be more likely to find supporters in the new administration than the old, or that the new will take upon themselves the odium of following up an oppressive measure merely to vindicate their predecessors in that measure. If; therefore, the memorial we have presented to the Privy Council is not answered speedily after the new ministry is formed, and Lord Moira’s is unsuccessful with his Majesty, I think it may be useful to present others to the new Secretary of State, Privy Council, and Parliament: still keeping aloof from all asperity and accusation; the new ministry being little else than an emanation from the old.

My answer to the queries contained in your letter, be assured, shall be given candidly, and without disguise.

I do not think your brother’s health or spirits have suffered so far from his confinement, as to make his liberation desirable on any terms that shall either derogate from his honour, or injure his fortune; but certainly his spirits, and the impatience of his sufferings, appear to be such (as he has himself described them), that if the terms upon which you seem to think his liberty might be obtained are of a description that will neither affect his honour nor his fortune (with regard to the former of which, in particular, I know the feelings of his friends are in perfect unison with his own) -if the terms are of that description, I think they should be accepted.

From all I have learnt from his Lordship, and know from other quarters, I will add, I have but little apprehension from the result of a trial in England; but his discharge upon any tolerable terms without a trial would, nevertheless, be preferable. In my opinion, therefore, the pushing a trial is a thing not to be resorted to, until all other means to vindicate his character, and obtain his freedom, have been tried in vain. I am, with great respect, madam,

Your obliged and very obedient servant,

John Foulkes.”

About this period the madness of George III. had assumed a character which rendered it impossible longer to delay the adoption of special arrangements for the carrying on of the government. To this subject the attention of ministers and the legislature was of course exclusively turned, and in the meantime it was found impossible to procure another renewal of the act for suspending the writ of habeas corpus. The result was my enlargement on the 3d of March, 1801. I was set at liberty, after nearly two years’ confinement, without the slightest alteration of circumstances, in reference to the charges or suspicions against me, having taken place between the time of my arrest and that of my discharge. Uncondemned, untried, my case uninvestigated, I had been imprisoned during that period with cruel rigour. At the end, I was dismissed from my cell without form or ceremony, beyond the entering into my own recognisances to be forthcoming when called upon. The following note was the closing of the ministerial account with the subject of their persecution:-

Lord Castlereagh to Lord Cloncurry.

Cleveland-square, 9th March, 1801.

“Lord Castlereagh presents his compliments to Lord Cloncurry, and takes the earliest opportunity of informing his Lordship, that there is no impediment whatever to his return to Ireland, whenever it may suit his Lordship to go thither.”

No sooner did I find myself free, than I directed my solicitor to commence proceedings against the authors of my misfortunes, less with a view to attaining compensation for wrongs which could not be balanced by money damages, than for the purpose of bringing the whole affair before the public, and relieving my character from the stain which a punishment so severe as that inflicted would naturally attach to it in the minds of persons unacquainted with all the circumstances. Here again, however, I was struggling with a too powerful enemy.

My actions for false imprisonment, against the Duke of Portland and Mr. Pitt, were stopped by a bill indemnifying those persons from all the consequences of their arbitrary acts ; and this bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament (I think) in a single night.

Mr. Bonham, whose name was so often mentioned in the attempt made to fix a shadow of a crime upon me, was set at liberty along with myself. He was, I believe, throughout, equally innocent as myself of any crime beyond those to which I have confessed. He was in the habit as far as his means permitted, of relieving our destitute fellow-countrymen, who applied to him in London during the year 1797-8; he also had listened to a ribald song or two at the “Free and Easy” club in Furnival’s Inn. This, I sincerely believe, was the head and front of his offending; but for this he was, at the time of my second arrest in 1799, dragged from his temporary home in the Isle of Man, and imprisoned in the Tower with equal rigour as myself.

The lesson had an effect upon him that it did not produce upon me – he left prison, I suppose, a wiser man, for he shortly afterwards embraced Tory tenets with great ardour, and in after years paid me many visits at Lyons, with the express purpose of converting me to that faith, which he firmly held to the hour of his death. He was a kind-hearted, simple-minded man, upon whose temperament Tower discipline was calculated to make a lasting impression. How he felt seven or eight months after his escape into the free air, may be judged of from the following letter:-

John Bonham, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Bath, 6, Sion Hill, 18th October, 1801.

“My dear Lord – Many thanks for your truly kind and generous letter; but thanks so long deferred, that you must have but a slight opinion of my gratitude. I can only say that my feelings were then, as they ever will be, of the warmest kind towards you, and the few I know like you. But, alas! I am compelled to own I was afraid to correspond with you. Is it possible, then, that fear should have had such an effect on a mind once not the weakest?

Not fear of death; for death I have suffered a thousand times: but fear of what must ever be unintelligible but to those who have suffered the tortures of “that many chambered tomb.”

In such a state of miserable despondency and broken spirit, resolving to live only for my family, I took a pleasant little box and garden in the environs of Bath, and engaged it for a year. Here I have gradually recovered my health; and a sea excursion to Tenby, where we have passed six weeks, with constant bathing, had almost completed my renovation, when the glad tidings of peace sounded in my ears, that would alone have healed in a moment, the wounds of an age of woe.

Man is now man again; he has for nine years been worse than demon, or whatever else can be imagined of evil.

The change it will make in your Lordship’s situation, must be incalculable. Insult upon insult must have been your lot in these countries. And for what cause? The suspicion of being a friend to freedom. All is now otherwise. Happiness, the most exalted, is now within your reach; and in that of the poorest wretch who lately crawled upon the earth.

After sighing so long for a blessing now within my grasp, I cannot bear to lose a moment of enjoyment. My whole thoughts are, therefore, now turned to the means of being amongst the foremost to set foot on the land of freedom.

The recognizances, I believe, must be discharged before I can move. I wish for your opinion on that subject; and shall write to Foulkes for his advice. I cannot conceive that any difficulty will be made about that, or about passports, or any other impediment, after the definitive treaty shall be signed.

Adieu for the present; answer me when you think proper, with the same frankness I have used, and believe me, under all circumstances, most unchangeably,

Your devoted friend and humble servant,

John Bonham.”

My futile attempt to obtain redress having been made and frustrated, I returned to Ireland after a few months, and arrived in Dublin upon the day of Lord Chancellor Clare’s funeral, when a curious circumstance occurred. The mob, irritable from their recollection of the atrocities of the rebellion, and the treacheries of the Union, had shown indications of a disposition to wreak their vengeance upon the corpse of one whom they esteemed among the chief of their enemies; and from hooting and throwing dead cats at the hearse of the deceased Chancellor, it was feared they would proceed to a more mischievous assault upon his house in Ely-place, within a few yards of my own residence. Under these circumstances the Countess of Clare no sooner heard of my arrival than she appealed to me for assistance, and entreated that I would protect her house by my presence.

It was by a triumph so miserable as this that my return to my country, after an imprisonment of two years in a strange land, was celebrated.

In closing my account of this transaction, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of citing opinions respecting it and other minor persecutions to which I was afterwards subjected, uttered long after the events by one whose knowledge of the British constitution will be no more doubted than the manly candour and simplicity of his personal character:-

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

Brussels, July 8,1817.

“My dear Lord – Your letter which had followed me to Dover, did not reach me till yesterday.

Your kind expressions are very gratifying to me, and, certainly, are much beyond the very slight services, if such they were in any sense, which it was ever in my power to render you.

I recollect very distinctly your imprisonment and persecution in 1798 and 1799, and I think that a temperate and guarded account of the whole of that transaction, if you do not feel any personal objections to reviving the subject, might make some impression on the public, because, if I am not much mistaken, your case, especially in the latter part of your imprisonment, approached more nearly to those of the lettres de cachet, in old France, than any that occurred under Pitt’s suspension of the Habeas Corpus. Am I not right in thinking that whatever were the motives or the pretexts of your original arrest, your long detention was owing to private suggestions of convenience; and that during the latter period of your confinement, there was not even the affectation of suspecting you of treason, much less the profession of any intention of ever bringing you to trial?

In short, I should feel very much obliged to you, if; on my return to England next October or November, you would furnish me with a detailed account of the whole transaction, stating to me if there is any part of it which you would not like to be mentioned in public.

With respect to the refusal of your son-in-law’s application in favour of his sister, it seems a very ungracious one in substance, and by your account of it, a still more unjustifiable one in form, as it amounts nearly to a breach of promise; but the grant of a title of courtesy is certainly a mere matter of favour and grace, and, therefore, neither in parliament nor in public, can the reasons of withholding it be with any propriety or any effect canvassed or censured. The exercise of a prerogative may, indeed, be canvassed, but even then one must have a very strong case to make any impression; to censure the crown for not conferring a favour would, with some reason, be argued to be taking the prerogative of conferring those favours from the crown, and giving it to parliament. With respect, too, to the removal of magistrates, it is so completely in the Chancellor’s discretion, that though he may, and I dare say has exercised it injudiciously, and even harshly, nothing, I conceive, but the proof of corrupt motives would justify the interference of parliament.

Yours, ever truly,

Vassall Holland.”

Chapter VII.

Changes observable on my Return to Ireland – Reminiscences of Friend – Lord Edward Fitzgerald – His Affectionate and Enthusiastic Character – The Earlier and the Later Designs of his Patriotism – Separation from England an Afterthought – Its Foundation in the hopelessness of Prosperity coexisting with Political and Social Dependene – Neither Individual Men nor Nations grow to Maturity without Self-Reliance – why not adopt Lord Durham’s Colonial Policy? – Lord Edward’s Religious Sentiment – His Bravery – Refuge of Lady Edward in my Father’s House – Seizure of her Effects there – Capture of the supposed Great Seal of the Irish Republic – The True History of that Instrument – Curious Error in Treasonmongering and in Contemporary History – Reversal of Lord Edward’s Attainder, and my Trusteeship of his Estate – William Duke of Leinster – His Political Views – Efforts of the Government to drive him into War – Outrages committed on him, and their Favourable Effects upon his Fortune – Arthur O’Connor – Character of the Movement of which he and Edward Fitzgerald were Types – Patriots of those Days Men of Substance and Independene – Archibald Hamilton Rowan – His Personal Characteristics – His Chivalry – Letters from- Pedestrian Tour in company with him and Sir Thomas Frankland – An Interview with Sir Richard Arkwright – Rowan’s Social Position – His Means of Livelihood in America – Our Last Interview – Thomas Addis Emmett – M’Nevin – Bond – Sampson – Robert Emmet – General Lawless – His Narrow Escape – His Success in France – Letters; from Chancellor Ponsonby; from General Lawlass – The Rebel General Aylmer – His eventful History – Curran – His brilliant Social Qualities – His Decline after the Union – Misunderstanding between him and George Ponsonby – Monument to Amelia Curran – Grattan – His Transplantation to the English House of Commons – His Opinion of the Union – Political Lesson deducible from that Measure – Letter from Grattan – Patrick Lattin – Wogan Brown – His Dismissal from the Magistracy for kicking Football – His Narrow Escape from being Hanged – Characteristic of Irish Misfortune exhibited at his Funeral.

Many sad events had occurred in Ireland during my lengthened absence. Upon my return, many a gap was visible in the ranks of my friends and associates.

Of those whom I had left, in 1797, full of hope for the future of their country, some had been roughly cut off in mid-career; others were in exile or captivity; the remnant were sunk into despair and apathy. I had left Ireland a nation containing within her society, it is true, the germs of corruption and dissolution, but yet from the slough of placehunting, and sycophancy, and base subserviency, in which they are plunged – no means of restoring self-reliance and mutual confidence to Irishmen – save in a measure which should lessen her dependence for support upon a parasitic connexion with a greater political body, and force her to put forth roots and branches sufficient for her own sustenance. Who that has known an Irish squirearch family, has not seen a brother or uncle, a Master Tom or a Master Dick, who, for 60 years of solar time, has been an occupant of the Hall or Castle, yet, in the estimation of himself and all around, is still a frolicsome or stupid boy, whom no one would think of trusting with any duty more important than that of mixing punch, or purveying game for the family table?

Would those ancient and indiscreet youths have continued in their state of feeble nonage, had the severance of their parasitic connexion with the parent stem forced them to exert their energies in the battle of life? The whole Irish nation, great and small, seems to me but an aggregate of Master Toms and Master Dicks, whom political and social dependence – hand-feeding to-day, and snubbing and whipping to-morrow – has kept in a condition of boyish immaturity and feebleness. There are in the dark caverns of the Styrian mountains, animals that have grown and grown in their embryo state, until they have far overpassed the ordinary standard of their size; but, wanting the maturing operation of the sun’s rays, they have never become developed into the perfection of their kind. So it is with the Irish people: they have grown into gigantic children; but deprived of the wholesome stimulus of self-government, they have never become men.

The experience of another half century has brought me to concur in the conclusion of Edward Fitzgerald [Pictured, right], that nothing short of a virtual separation between the governments of England and Ireland, as complete as that between Canada and Britain, can afford the smallest relief to those miseries into which the ill-arranged connexion has plunged both. Many signs indicate an approaching disruption of the crazy fabric of the British empire. Would to God! that the statesmanlike policy recommended by Lord Durham, in reference to our transatlantic colonies could be understood and more generally applied by our public men. A separation of the British provinces there will and must be sooner or later-probably much sooner than any one dreams of. Why should it not be made by friendly hands? Why should it not be a partition among brethren, rather than a furious and bloody scramble among incensed co-parceners in a spoil?

Among the remarkable features in Lord Edward’s character was a very strong religious belief. He was a sincere and devout Christian, and a steadfast member of the Protestant Church, in which he had been brought up. I have had opportunities of witnessing attempts, persevering and repeated, to shake his convictions on these matters, but they were always unattended with success, although manifestly productive of much pain to his affectionate heart. These religious feelings, acting in combination with his strong love of country, and anxious desire to relieve the sufferings of his fellow-countrymen, impressed upon his patriotism a character of solemn enthusiasm that supplied the place of commanding talent, and well fitted him for influencing men. It is to this peculiarity, perhaps, that the veneration which still attaches to his name in Ireland, is, in a great degree, to be attributed.

One other popular quality was also possessed by Lord Edward Fitzgerald, in a remarkable degree: he was brave to a fault. The events of his early military life, as well as those of his closing scene, sufficiently establish his courage and spirit: but I may mention an occurrence which I recollect showed those qualities off to the great admiration of the populace. He happened, on one occasion, while troops were encamped upon the Curragh of Kildare, to ride across the field dressed in a green neckcloth. This obnoxious garment was noticed by four or five officers, who approached the wearer, and ordered him in an insulting manner to remove it. Lord Edward replied by inviting the whole party together, or singly, to come and take the handkerchief from his neck, if they dared. The invitation was respectfully declined, and the parties slunk back into their mess-tent, before which his lordship rode back and forward several times.

At the time of Lord Edward’s arrest, his wife (the well-known Pamela) had taken refuge with my sisters; and was, at the time, in my father’s house in Merrion-street, though without his knowledge. She was pursued there by the police in search of papers; and some which she had concealed in her bedroom were discovered and seized. Among other prizes taken, I believe, upon this occasion, was a seal, pronounced by the quid nuncs of the Castle to be the intended great seal of the Irish republic. In Appendix, No. 23, of the Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish House of Commons, printed in 1799, there is an engraving of the impression of this seal “found in the custody of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, when he was apprehended,” [Report from Committee of Secrecy, pp. 32 and 94.] together with the following description – “In a circle, Hibernia holding in her right hand an imperial crown over a shield. On her left hand is an Irish harp, over it a dagger, and at its foot lie two hogs.”

It was but lately that this engraving, and its inscription, fell under my notice, when in the former, much to my surprise, I recognised an old acquaintance, the little history of which may be amusing now, when the treasonmongering mistake it discloses is no longer likely to open a path to the scaffold.

The seal which the Committee of Secrecy looked upon with so much horror, was a cast from an original cut for me by Strongitharm, the celebrated gem engraver, during one of my earliest visits to London. The device is a harp, from which Britannia (not Hibernia) has removed with the right hand, not an imperial but an Irish crown, and planted a dagger in its stead. Her left hand is represented as breaking the strings of the harp; at the foot of which lie, not two hogs, but two Irish wolf dogs sleeping at their post. All this is very plain to be seen, even in the vignette of the Secret Committee. Britannia is arrayed in her ordinary helmet; and her shield, bearing the cross of St. George, lies beside her; the crown in her hand is as unlike the imperial crown as can well be imagined; it is manifestly the old Irish pointed diadem. [Pictured, above. Committee of Secrecy Seal is at the end of the chapter.]

The seal itself was not designed for the broad seal of the Irish, or of any other republic; but was simply a fancy emblem which I chose to illustrate my patriotic enthusiasm; just as the oak tree, with its motto of “Quiet good sense,” which I have already described, was selected for the device of his seal, by my friend John Reeves, in typification of his ultra-toryism. From the original, which is a fine cornelian, and is still in my possession, I had a few casts made in glass, by Tassie of Leicester-square – a well-known artist of the day. One of these casts, given by me to Lord Edward Fitzgerald, became renowned in story under the imprimatur of the Committee of Secrecy. In order to relieve poor Strongitharm’s memory from the stain of having his Britannia mistaken for Hibernia, and his dogs for hogs, I have had the engraving of the Committee copied in the annexed vignette. Of the identity of the two seals the curious reader may satisfy himself, by comparing the vignette on this page with that at the end of the chapter, which exhibits my original design. It will serve to commemorate a curious instance of a foregone conclusion, and to express, not inaptly even now, my own views of the dealings of Britannia with her sister.

Of the dying moments of Edward Fitzgerald, I, of course, had no personal knowledge; but when he was subsequently attainted, I wrote to the tenants upon his small estate, and, as the result, not a farthing of rent was ever paid by them to the crown. This barren acquisition was subsequently relinquished: the attainder was reversed, through the exertions of the present Duke of Leinster, and the estate vested in myself, as trustee, for Lord Edward’s children.

In connexion with this slight notice of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, I may say a word or two of his brother, William Duke of Leinster. This nobleman, although deeply imbued with the liberal and patriotic feelings which have ever distinguished his family, was in no way connected with any of the secret projects of the national party. He was, upon every occasion, ready to take his constitutional place, as the first of the Irish nobility, in fighting the battle of the country in parliament, but was not driven, by the unconstitutional triumphs of venality and corruption in that arena, to change the scene of conflict. Yet, everything that could be done was done to force him to the adoption of that alternative. When Lord Edward became obnoxious to the law, Leinster House was ransacked in the most insulting manner, in a search for criminatory documents; and when the rebellion broke out, a number of the houses in the Duke’s town of Kildare were wantonly burned, and several of his tenants hung upon the elm trees in the avenue leading to his house at Carton.

It is a curious fact, that both these brutal outrages involved incidents productive of very considerable advantages to the subject of them. By the burning of the houses in Kildare, a wholesale clearance of an idle and mischievous tenantry was effected, much to the benefit of the property, but which his Grace’s kindness of heart prevented him from accomplishing. Among the tenants hanged, to annoy the landlord rather than to punish the immediate sufferers, was, I believe, a man upon the fall of whose life a number of leases expired, and a considerable addition to the Duke’s income immediately accrued. So short-sighted do men often show themselves, in doing the bidding of their evil passions, no less than in their attempts to accomplish good.

My old friend, Arthur O’Connor, is, I am happy to say, not only alive, but actively engaged in the preparation of memoirs of his long and eventful life. He will tell his own tale ; but I cannot write his name upon the same page with that of Edward Fitzgerald without reflecting upon the peculiar character of the national movement of which these two men were types and leaders. In casting in their lot with those who desired to reform and regenerate their country, and who, in pursuit of that end, went the extreme length of treason, both O’Connor and Fitzgerald proved their sincerity by putting in jeopardy the most enviable positions which men could attain to in Irish society. To both, the road to high station and wealth was open; both unhesitatingly struck off into a narrower path, that seemed to lead them towards the good service of Ireland, but that eventually conducted the one to exile and disinheritance, and the other to a violent death. Arthur O’Connor would have inherited the estate, and, in all probability, the title of his uncle, Lord Longueville, whose borough he represented in parliament, had he followed his Lordship in supporting the government: his sincere conviction was, that to do so would be to oppose the cause of his country, and he acted in accordance with that conviction.

I have said that O’Connor and Fitzgerald were types of the movement in which they led; and so it was, in fact. The Irish patriot leaders of those days were, almost without exception, men of substance and station. Pro patria mori did not then mean an apotheosis to a secretary’s office, or to a seat on the bench, or to a poor-law vice-guardianship. Men staked on the cause of their country, property, and liberty, and life: the cry of “Places, Places” for poor patriots had not then preoccupied the public ear.

An instance strongly in point to the observation I have just made, was afforded by another of my early friends. If ever knight-errantry was realised in ancient or modern days, it was so in Archibald Hamilton Rowan. Endowed with a figure of the grandest proportions, he possessed a mind guileless and romantic to a degree that, if depicted in a novel, would be looked upon as forced and incredible. Confident in his great strength and courage, and prompted by his generous feelings, he was always ready to undertake the redressal of the wrongs of distressed damsels, or of the needy and oppressed of either sex; it was not, therefore, matter of wonder that he should have devoted himself with a hearty enthusiasm to the cause of the relief of his suffering country. He did so in the purest spirit of patriotism, and with the most entire disregard of his personal interests; and, up to his last moments, like feelings continued to influence him. The following letters show how he still felt towards the close of his long career, even though the signs of the working of time are manifest upon them:-

Archibald Hamilton Rowan, Es g., to Lord Cloncurry.

Killyleagh, 13th November, 1830.

“My dear Lord – In my eightieth year, and retired, as well as forgotten by the busy world, except by a few like yourself, it was with pride and pleasure I received your letter [in answer] to Mr. Murphy’s circular letter, because it seems to me that we agree, that the question of the principle of every country being governed by its natives, who can best know its wants, nor the necessity of the legislative union being dissolved [will not be compromised], by waiting to see the effects of Sir H. Hardinge’s motions. I therefore send you (the only. copy I have given) of a letter I wrote to him this week.

I am, my dear friend, your sincere friend,

Arch. Hamilton Rowan.”

Copy of a Letter to Sir Henry Hardinge.

Castle of Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland,

10th Nov., 1830.

“Sir – Having the nomination of the seneschal of this manor, I yesterday signed a notice, to be posted in the news-room of this town, advising the inhabitants to invite the seneschal to call a meeting of those in his district who might be of opinion that parliament, constituted as it is, would assuage the present ferment, by passing some laws, and repealing others, which press upon the people, and are, in reality, a disgrace to a country, enjoying the same constitution, the same laws, and the same king, from which may we never be separated.

But, by the papers of this day, I find that you have given a notice of your intention of pursuing that course in parliament. I have this day withdrawn the notice I alluded to, and remain, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

A. Hamilton Rowan.”

Archibald Hamilton Rowan, Es q., to Lord Cloncurry.

Rathcoffey, 2d May, 1834.

“My Lord – I send you a copy of the original charter of the borough of Killyleagh; from it you will perceive that all the inhabitants of that town are freemen, but, by the purchase of government from Mr. Blackwood, are deprived of that invaluable right, of being represented in the imperial parliament.

It is in their favour alone I wish for your interference (should their petition be presented, and you be in the house), without any reference to my claim, except as a friend of those who are thus disfranchised. Scarcely able to hold a pen,

I remain yours, most sincerely,

Arch. Hamilton Rowan.”

Those who remember the streets of Dublin 30 years since, can scarcely have forgotten that gigantic old man, in his old-fashioned dress, and with his following of the two last of the race of Irish wolf-dogs. His appearance then, however, could scarcely convey a notion of what he was some five-and-twenty years earlier, when he and I made a pedestrian tour of England together, and when, as I well remember, his practice at starting from our inn, of a wet morning, was to roll himself into the first pool he met, in order that he might be beforehand with the rain. [Rowan and I were accompanied upon this pedestrian tour by Sir Thomas Frankland, and a pleasant party we made. Frankland was a man of very considerable ability; but what he chiefly valued himself upon, was his lineal descent from Oliver Cromwell, a fact with which he assailed Sir Richard Arkwright, much to the astonishment of that ingenious knight. In passing through Derbyshire, we were desirous of visiting Sir Richard’s factory, and accordingly presented ourselves at his door, and sent in our names, requesting permission to see the works. The old gentleman was not, I believe, very willing to submit the niceties of his machinery to the public gaze, and he certainly showed us no particular courtesy. We were kept waiting in the hall for a considerable time; and when, at length, Sir Richard made his appearance, in his morning gown and nightcap, the permission he gave us to enter his factory was a very gruff and unwilling one. We, nevertheless, made use of it; but not before Frankland had read Sir Richard a lecture upon his discourtesy and failure in the respect that was proper to be shown by a person in his position to a gentleman who, like himself, was a descendant of the great Protector. The old barber treated the house of Cromwell with great contempt, but he did not withdraw the leave he had granted to us to see his looms.]

The laurels were then fresh which he had won by the performance of a grand feat, under the eyes of Marie Antoinette, and of which he was not a little proud. He had run a foot race, in presence of the whole French court, in jack-boots, against an officer of the Garde de Corps, dressed in light shoes and silk stockings, and had won with ease, to the great admiration of the queen, who honoured him with special marks of her regard.

When I first knew Rowan, he was master of a fortune of full £5,000 a-year, upon which, however, his philanthropic escapades caused heavy drafts. He had always some adventure upon hands; and two or three of these, in which he rescued distressed damsels from the snares and force of ravishers of rank, made a good deal of noise at the time; the particulars being made known by means of a private printing-press, which he kept in his house, ready for such occasions. While he was obliged to take refuge in America, he was frequently in pecuniary distress, owing to the uncertainty with which remittances reached him from home; and I recollect his telling me, that he was for a good part of the time indebted for a livelihood to his mechanical knowledge, which was very considerable, and enabled him to take charge of a cotton factory in New York.

The last time I saw him was at his house of Rathcoffey, in the county of Kildare, where I went for the purpose of introducing to him Lady Campbell, the daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who was on a visit at Lyons. He was unable to leave his room, and but the mummy of the former Archibald Hamilton Rowan; yet that the spirit of the preux chevalier, who had won the smiles of the Queen of France, still lived in that skeleton, was abundantly manifested in the affectionate gallantry with which he received and greeted the daughter of his early associate and friend.

With both the Emmetts, and with M’Nevin, Bond, and Sampson, I was familiarly acquainted; and I can say of all four, with equal truth, that they were altogether uninfluenced by mean or sordid motives; and that, by the part they took, they made sacrifices of property and station not inferior to those of the leaders whose names I have already mentioned, although their different position in life rendered the circumstance less remarkable. Thomas Addis Emmett was a barrister, with good prospects; Dr. M’Nevin was a physician in considerable practice; and Bond and Sampson were, the former a merchant, and the latter a respectable member of the bar.

When I left Ireland, in 1797, Robert Emmett was a mere boy, but full of talent, enthusiasm, and kind feeling. Both brothers dined with me in Paris the day before Robert returned to Ireland for the last time previous to his fatal outbreak; and although that catastrophe was not then thought of, I remember the most urgent entreaties being vainly used by his friends, to dissuade him from a visit, which all felt to be full of danger to him, and the sad consummation of which so fully justified those gloomy forebodings.

To some of those Irishmen who were forced to fly from their country by the events of ’97 and ’98, their exile was but the opening of a career more brilliant than that from which they had been removed, and in the fortunate list I may, perhaps, include General William Lawless. This gentleman, who was a distant relative of my own, was a medical man, in good practice in Dublin, and a professor in the College of Surgeons. He, however, fell very early under the suspicion of the government, and with great difficulty made his escape, getting, as I have heard, on board a vessel, in the disguise of a butcher’s man, and carrying a side of beef upon his shoulder. He did, nevertheless, get safely to France, and having entered the army, in due time rose to the rank of major-general. The blot in his fortune was the loss of a leg at Flushing, but he lived many years after that occurrence, and was in good consideration with Bonaparte, and his soldier-noblesse.

In connexion with his name, the following letters may, even at this distance of time, not be devoid of interest:-

Chancellor Ponsonby to Lord Cloncurry.

[Private and confidential.]

Ely-Place, January 21st, 1807.

“My dear Lord – I trust you need not be assured how happy I shall always feel in being able to comply with any wish of yours, and I shall therefore do all in my power to serve Mr. Lawless in the way you desire, but I must at the same time apprise you, that I have already interested myself for Mr. Jackson and for Mr. Sweetman, and therefore, in justice to them, cannot allow my application for Mr. Lawless to interfere; but if I can also serve him I will, for my own opinion is, that where the person applying to be restored to his country is one of irreproachable private character, and the sincerity of his professions of attachment to its government can be depended on, he ought to be allowed to return. I am, my dear Lord, with great respect and regard,

Your faithful, humble servant,

Geo. Ponsonby, C.”

General Lawless to Lord Cloncurry


Paris, 15th August, 1815.

“I have to acknowledge the letters confided to Sir Charles Morgan and Mr. Nolan. I profit of the latter to send this, and will again write by Lady Morgan. I like extremely this lady: she is agreeable, witty, and with as little conceit as can be found in a woman of her merit. I think of her husband just as your Lordship. From Mr. Nolan I learned much details that interested me; he is a frank, honest fellow, and he gave me a full account of the improvements and beauties of Lyons, the good consideration and respect in which the owner is held, and with how much wisdom and real philosophy he walks the rugged paths of this insignificant world. Your Lordship does not seem to have known that I enjoy the rank of mareschal-decamp, equivalent to major-general in the English service. Mr. Nolan was surprised to find me only with one leg. I thought I had communicated, long since, all these details. The English papers which I saw were very much vexed with the king for promoting me; the truth is, my commission was in Buonaparte’s portfeuille at the period of his first dethronement. If I had not had the misfortune to lose my leg, I should have been now lieutenant-general; however, I must not complain. If ever the common saying, “Things might be worse,” carried with it consolation for disappointment, it is in the present state of the world. I hope the accounts we have here from the other side arc exaggerated; if we are to believe the halt, it is bad enough. The situation of the United Kingdom must strike every [one] as not to stay as it is – it must be worse or better. The communications are now so frequent that it deprives us of the pleasure of giving news, yet I apprehend those who come see things through a very false medium. I mean to profit of Lady Morgan’s departure, and write a long letter. I must conclude this, by soliciting once more your Lordship’s patience for a very short time, and I trust I will make amends for delays and disappointments. I remain, my dear Lord, with great respect, and the truest sense of obligation,

Your servant and friend,

W. Lawless.”

A still more curious romance of real life was the history of the rebel General Aylmer, whose adventures deserve a short record. William Aylmer, the son of a tenant of Mr. Wogan Browne, who resided not far from my House of Lyons, was a lieutenant in the Kildare Militia, and was quartered with his regiment in the hutted camp formed at Loughlinstown, near Bray, in the year 1796. I was at that time in the frequent habit of going to the camp to dine with the Duke of Leinster, then colonel of the Kildare regiment, and, also, to visit General Crosbie, the chief in command.

Upon one of those occasions I was accompanied by Mr. Sampson, then a member of the Irish bar, and in the full blossom of his United-Irish sins; and then Aylmer and Sampson became acquainted, and an intimacy was begun, which ended in a full conversion of the former to the political opinions of his new friend. On the occasion alluded to, Sampson illustrated the reckless character of his zeal by privately scattering rebellious tracts as he walked through the camp after dinner. Nevertheless, he was able to influence Aylmer, who, in the course of a year afterwards, was promoted from his lieutenancy in the Royal Militia, to a general’s command in the rebel army.

In that position he maintained a struggle for a considerable time in the county of Kildare, and, finally, fought the battle of Ovidstown with so much skill, as to be able to make a capitulation with the King’s troops, under the terms of which his life was spared. After lying some time in jail, Aylmer was allowed to leave the country, and I observe among the Castlereagh papers, a letter complaining of his being permitted to be at large about the streets of London. Eventually he entered the Austrian service, in which he distinguished himself so much, that he was appointed to command the escort that attended Maria Louisa, on her return from Paris to Vienna, after the fall of Napoleon. One of the spoils of this expedition, a fowling-piece, from the Ex-Imperial Armoury, was afterwards presented to me by Aylmer, and is at present at Lyons. When the allied sovereigns visited London in t814, Aylmer accompanied the Emperor of Austria, and, upon the request of the Prince Regent, he was selected and left in England to teach the sword exercise to the British army. His immediate pupils were the 10th Dragoons, and he conducted himself so satisfactorily in his task, that he received a free pardon, and was presented with a handsome sword by the prince.

After this, Aylmer settled in his native county, where his constitutional activity led him into a quarrel with the Duke of Leinster’s gamekeepers. Much mortified at being interrupted in some of his sporting excursions over the Duke’s preserves, he complained to me, and I brought him to Carton to negotiate a peace. This visit he thought it right to make, attired in his full Austrian uniform, with sabre and helmet, a display that somewhat surprised his Grace. The pursuit of hares and partridge, however, soon ceased to interest Aylmer’s stirring mind, and he joined General Devereux in heading an expedition of Irish sympathisers, designed to aid the South American patriots, then in the beginning of their struggle under Bolivar. Soon after his arrival at the scene of action, he fell a victim, as I have heard, to an ancient love for new rum, his immoderate indulgence in which brought on a fever, that ended in his death.

Among those devoted friends of Ireland, whom her enemies failed to destroy or banish, but whose sun set together with that of their country, in the fatal Union, the most considerable were certainly Curran and Grattan, with both of whom I was for many years upon terms of the closest intimacy. Those great men have already found fitting biographers; and it is not in my power to add much to the interesting memorials of their lives, that have been given to the world by those whom nature pointed out as the most proper undertakers of such a task. The more brilliant the hours of social intercourse, the less fixed are the traces they leave upon the memory; and, pleasant as are my recollections of days and nights enlivened by the continued flashing of Curran’s exhaustless wit, or brightened by the warm glow of Grattan’s eloquence, yet feeling the entire vanity of any attempt to convey a notion of these cheering remembrances to another mind, I place the venerated names upon my page, rather as a record of friendship, than with any hope of being able to add to the light that surrounds them.

I have said that the sun of Curran’s career set with the Union; and such was the fact, although it was subsequently to that event that he attained his highest professional position. He then, indeed, became Master of the Rolls; but the spirit of hope for his country, that had formerly sustained him through many a hard struggle, no longer lived within him, or animated his political exertions. In former times he was wont to say that he “could fight for Ireland even though cut down to his jurymasts” by the persevering enmity of Lord Clare, which drove him from the Court of Chancery, and forced him into the more popular, though less profitable, channel of nisi prius practice. Those times had now gone by, and with them had passed away much of that lofty ambition which had raised Curran to the highest point in the affections and admiration of his fellow-countrymen. After the Union, though he never compromised a particle of political principle, yet, even to him, the idea of simple unplaced patriotism ceased to seem tenable, and he sank – by what other word can I describe Curran’s approach towards office? – without further struggle, into the ranks of an English political faction.

As the consequence of this new direction of Curran ‘s views, an agreement was entered into between him and George Ponsonby, to the effect that the former would take the second Irish law appointment under a Whig ministry, in which the latter was to have the first – that is to say, that Curran should be Attorney-General whenever Ponsonby should be Chancellor. When the time arrived, however, this arrangement was rendered null and void by the obstinate refusal of Lord Ellenborough to act in a cabinet which should sanction the appointment of Curran as Attorney-General for Ireland. Of this circumstance no mention was made at the time by Ponsonby, nor did he communicate at all on the matter with Curran, until, at the instance of the latter, who was then on a visit at my house, a mutual friend, Mr. John Burne, wrote a letter of expostulation and inquiry to the new Chancellor. This led to an explanation, in the course of which Ponsonby told Curran that he had secured for him the Mastership of the Rolls, as a better place than the Attorney-Generalship; but that he should settle a retiring pension, I think of £500 a-year, upon the person who was then Deputy-Master of the Rolls. This Curran refused to do, declining to be a party to any transaction bearing a resemblance to the purchase of an office.

After the matter had been productive of a good deal of unpleasantness, it was finally concluded by Curran’s becoming Master of the Rolls, and George Ponsonby himself settling the pension upon the retiring deputy from his own resources-a Contingency which he ever afterwards made the subject of complaint, though unreasonably, as the original bargain, as I have stated it, was a precise and definite one, binding each party to protect the interests of the other in any negotiation for the acceptance of office. I can speak from positive knowledge that Curran ‘s own wish was to reject the compromise of the Attorney-Generalship for the Mastership of the Rolls, and that he only agreed to accept the latter place at the urgent instance of his family, and from the beginning positively refused to undertake the payment of a shilling, in the shape of compensation money, out of the proceeds of the office.

Restrained within the narrow routine of judicial duties, even Curran’s ancient patriotic ardour could scarcely have survived; damped, as it already was, by the prostration of his country, it thenceforward showed no signs of vitality, save in the low mutterings of habitual complaint.

My friendship with Curran and his family was for many years of the closest and heartiest kind. During the past year (1848) I had the melancholy satisfaction of marking my recollection of it, by causing a memorial of her own worth, and of my continued esteem, to be placed near the final resting-place of the eldest of his daughters. A tablet, designed and executed by Hogan, and bearing the following inscription, has been erected in the Church of St. Isidore, at Rome, within the last few mouths:-

“Amelia Curran was the most

talented and virtuous daughter of

John Philpott Curran,

Who fearlessly pleaded the cause of his country and his

oppressed fellow-citizens, before corrupt judges and hostile juries.

They were true patriots.

To their memory this tablet is inscribed by

their surviving friend, Valentine, second

Lord Cloncurry.

The setting of Grattan’s sun in the clouds of the Union, although not less complete, was yet marked by a more prolonged twilight than that which attended the closure of the course of his great colleague and friend. Grattan was transplanted into the English legislature, and his reputation as an orator and a statesman outlived the change, but in a condition of languid vitality, incapable of effecting more than the preservation from decay of the relics of that name and genius, under whose influence Ireland had, for a short space of time, been raised into the place of a nation. That he was, himself, conscious of this fatal change in his position, was often made manifest to me in the progress of our intercourse, and that he still hoped for a renaissance for his country and himself was pretty plainly shown in a few words of his answer to a deputation, of which I was a member, together with the late Sir George Cockburn, and one or two others, which waited upon him, for the purpose of inviting him to stand for the city of Dublin:- “Gentlemen,” he said, “the best advice I can give my fellow-citizens upon every occasion is, to keep knocking at the Union.”

The advice, however, was all that the liberator of the legislation and commerce of his country could then give to Ireland; the corruption of the English government, and the venality of Irishmen, had broken his spirit, as it had demolished the structure of freedom and national independence he had raised at so great a cost of talent and labour. Grattan did not, with his own hand, “Knock at the Union;” and when his advice seemed to be acted upon, the blows given were but runaway knocks – the feeble efforts of idle disturbers or of passing place-beggars. That his advice was as sound as I know it was sincere, the state of Ireland, after half a century of Union with England, is sufficient proof – torn and distracted by civil and religious strife, and yet sunk into a slough of despondence and political apathy, from which the physical suffering of all classes, from the peer to the peasant, cannot rouse her, our unhappy country presents a spectacle of warning to the world; showing to the nations the folly of purchasing even existence at the cost of national independence, and, more instructive still, teaching the strong, in a lesson that cannot be misunderstood, how heavy a punishment surely attends the crime of national oppression.

Ireland sinks into a despair that may be the forerunner of desperate activity, as the result of the sale of her independence and the attendant abrogation of her responsibility as a nation; England groans and faints under the load of obligations which her dishonest purchase of the liberties of Ireland has entailed upon her. For political as for moral sin there is but one mode of honourable expiation – a penitent and ample restitution. In the matter of the Poynings sin, and of those committed in the commercial legislation of the parliament of William III., Grattan officiated as grand penitentiary-unhappily for Ireland there has not yet arisen a successor in the office.

The following note is the only autograph of Grattan I can find among my papers. It was written in reply to a letter of mine sympathising with him upon his escape from a savage attack made upon him in the streets of the capital of the country for which he had done so much, upon the occasion of his being chaired, after his election as one of the representatives for the city of Dublin in the imperial parliament:-

The Right Hon. Henry Grattan to Lord Cloncurry.

Tinnehinch, July 24, 1818.

“My dear Cloncurry – I should have thanked you before, but was forbidden to write. My eye is now recovered, and lives to see my friends, and to thank them, among whom I am proud to count my old friend, though a young man, Cloncurry. It was an odd event, but to me singularly fortunate. Remember me to Lady Cloncurry, and to Douglas when you see him.

Yours, most truly,

H. Grattan.”

While recalling recollections of early friends, I must not omit the names of two of the earliest-Patrick Lattin and Wogan Browne.

Of the story of the former, I have already mentioned a few particulars. When he quitted the Irish Brigade, after the murder of le beau Dillon, he settled at his house of Morristown-Lattin, and was thence-forward, to the close of his life, almost constantly a near neighbour and a frequent guest of mine at Lyons. He was one of a race now, I believe, extinct. A genuine Irishman in heart and person, his service in France, as an officer of the Irish Brigade, had added to his natural gaiety and warmth of feeling the polish and gallantry of a French gentleman, while his manly figure was set off in full perfection by the air and habits of a soldier of the old school. Light-hearted and joyous, the brilliancy of his wit was never clouded, nor his enjoyment of present mirth ever damped by thoughts of the morrow. When his purse was full he drew upon it without scruple, to gratify his taste for pleasure, or to help a friend; when it was empty, I have known him to sit down, and, in three months’ work, to complete a translation of the Henriade, in order that he might relieve the necessities of an emigre friend with the proceeds of its publication. In the one case and in the other, he was equally blithe, and victorious over care.

What a sparkling collision of wit marked the meetings of Lattin and Curran; and yet his amusing powers seemed still more striking when, at his own house in Paris (where I met him in 1805), he told his tales and launched his repartees alternately in French and English, to the mixed audiences which he used there to assemble round him. No thing, and no person, capable of being made the subject of pleasantry, ever escaped; and yet when a blow was given, it was with a skill and lightness that rendered it harmless to the object. Upon one of those occasions, I recollect a M. de Montmorency, whose Christian name was Anne, making his appearance, and announcing that he was enabled to return to France, in consequence of the First Consul having scratched out his name on the list of emigres. “A present done,” observed Lattin, “mon cher Anne, tu es un zebre — un ane rayée.”

In one of his hours of industrial activity, Lattin wrote a pamphlet in support of the Catholic claims, which brought him into collision with the notorious Dr. Patrick Duigenan. That zealous partisan replied to Lattin’s brochure with so much of his wonted brutal ferocity, as to place himself within the reach of the law as a libeller. Lattin brought an action against him in Westminster Hall, and was awarded damages to the amount (I think) of £500, by an English jury. This result was the basis of a standing joke between Lattin and me. When he had written the original pamphlet, and shown it to me, he had said he was not then in funds to publish it, which I undertook to do, jestingly conditioning my outlay with a claim for half the profits. I used, accordingly, to demand from him a moiety of the damages, as being part of the proceeds of the venture.

Lattin died in Paris about 10 years since.

Wogan Browne, whom I have also already mentioned, as having been associated with me in an attempt to convene a public meeting in opposition to the Union, was a gentleman of good fortune in the county of Kildare, and the builder and owner of Castle Browne, now occupied as a Jesuit seminary, and known by the name of Clongowes Wood. He was a man of an extremely amiable disposition, and filled with the most ardent love for his country, and the most earnest desire to do his duty in all the relations of life. To what base uses such qualities might bring their possessor in Ireland in those days, will appear from the following anecdotes.

Living on the borders of Kildare, Meath, and Dublin, and fully qualified by his property and position, Wogan Browne was a magistrate for the three counties, and was at once highly popular and irreproachable in the performance of his magisterial duties. It happened, nevertheless, some time about the beginning of the year 1797, that he was, one Sunday, riding past a field where the country people were about to bold a football match. The whole assembly, of course, recognised, and paid their respects to him; and, at their request, he got off his horse, and opened the sports by giving the ball the first kick-a sort of friendly sanctioning of the amusements of their neighhours, which was then not unusual among the gentry in Ireland. The custom, however, was not approved of by the government; and Lord Chancellor Clare, upon being informed of what Wogan Browne had done, at once superseded him from the commission of the peace. He was afterwards restored by Chancellor Ponsonby, upon the accession of the ministry of “All the Talents;” but was again, without further cause, deprived of his commission for two of the counties, by Lord Chancellor Manners. This stupid insult, both to the individual and to the body of magistrates – for if Mr. Browne was unfit to be a justice of the peace for two counties, it was an insult to associate him with the magistrates of a third-was warmly resented by the gentry of Kildare, a large number of whom were only prevented from resigning their commissions by the earnest entreaties of Browne himself.

The facts of this case, though trifling in themselves, are highly significant of the relations that subsisted between the government and the magistracy, as well as of those which the former wished to subsist between the magistracy and the people. They show how frail was an independent gentleman’s tenure of honours revocable by the government. Another occurrence in the history of Wogan Browne shows how precarious was the hold which in those days such a man enjoyed of his life. He was, in the same year of ’98, seized as a rebel, in the street of Naas, his county town, by some hostile soldiers, and a rope placed about his neck, for the purpose of hanging him, when the accidental arrival of a dragoon, with a letter addressed to him by the Lord Lieutenant, on public business, interrupted his captors in their work of murder.

Wogan Browne died at Castle Browne, about 20 years ago; and the final scene was again an illustration of a miserable phase of Irish society. He had been himself a Protestant; but his brother, who was a general in the Saxon service, and his sister, who, indeed, was a nun, were Roman Catholics. Upon these respective grounds, the two parties among his neighbours claimed the right of interring his body according to their particular customs; and they fought out the quarrel in the churchyard, over his coffin. Which party prevailed, I now forget; but this I know, that no man ever was buried, who, during life, exhibited or entertained less of sectarian rancour, or whose living feelings were less in unison with the passions that signalised his funeral.

Chapter VIII.


Effects of my Imprisonment upon my Health and Fortune – Difficulties in Repairing the Latter – A Pugnacious Middleman – Begin my Travels – My Sisters and their Husbands – Jerusalem Whalley – Paris – Presentation to the First consul – His Court – Ceremonial on his Acceptance of the Consulate for Life – Bonaparte’s Personal Appearance – Curious Instance of his Ignorance – Feelings of the Republicans towards him – The Corps d’Elits – Kosciusko – Helen Maria Williams – Parisian Society – The Officials and the Financier – Madame Rocamier – Journey to Italy – Nice – Foreign and Irish Climate – Florene – Friendly Warning from the Duc de Feltre to evade Verdun – Rome – The Palazzo Accaioli – House-rent and Accommodation in Italy in 1808 – Impoverished Condition of the Roman State – Vertu-Market – The Earl-Bishop of Derry – His Eccentricities and Death – Removal of Antiquities – History of the Pillars of the Golden House – Roman Civilisation – Mixture of Bigotry and Feebleness with Urbanity – Trasteverini – The Jew – Kindness to strangers – Weakness of the Fabric of Society – The Papal Fleet and its Admiral – Apathy of the Upper Clases – Their Epicureanism – Their Submission to the Popular Superstitions – Prince Massimo and his Shrine – The King of Sardinia and his Cross – Ignorance of the Nobles – The Prince Borghese – Contrasted Vigour of the Artists – Canova – His Statues of the King of Naples and of Napoleon – Pius VII. – His Departure to France – The Cardinal York – His Hospitalities at Frescati – Estimation of English Manufactures in Italy – Madame D’Albany – Alfieri – Foreign Resident – Duchess of Cumberland – The Princes of Mecklenburg – Count Orloff – Prince Potemkin – Count Pablen’s Constitution of Russia – Father Concanen – The Abbé Taylor – Letter from him – Travelling Companions from Rome – Madame de Stael – United Irishmen in Vienna – Prince Xavier of Saxony – Princely Hospitality – Return through Denmark to England.

The lengthened confinement I had endured, and the extreme severity with which all the restrictions of my prison were enforced, had considerably weakened my health, and entailed upon me a painful local complaint, from which, although I subsequently recovered completely, I was suffering much at the time of my liberation. These circumstances, combined with the delicacy of health of one of my sisters, determined me to seek relief from bodily and mental sufferings by a lengthened tour. Before I was enabled to put this determination in practice there was, however, much to be done. My affairs, as might have been expected, were much deranged. Some of my tenants and neighbours had taken advantage of the death of my father, and of what they supposed to be my own desperate situation, to turn my property, without scruple, to their own uses. They had sub-let their farms contrary to the stipulations of their leases, cut down woods, opened quarries, and converted rich meadows into brick-fields. These breaches took some time to repair, but, at length, I got them all settled. The worst of my tenants, who were of the class of magistrates and squireens, I bought out. “You might go to law with these men,” said my legal adviser, “for breaking covenant, and sub-letting their holdings; but if you do, you will in all probability have to plead your cause against middlemen, before middlemen juries and a middleman judge. The first loss is always the least, so pay those who have thus broken their bargain with you, to leave your lands quietly, or let them hold on till their leases shall expire, without giving them an opportunity of adding to your losses by litigation.”

I took this advice, which I still believe to have been sound; and, having got rid of the trespassers, re-let my lands, in general, to occupiers who held the plough with their own hands, and for so doing I scarcely ever had occasion to lament. [Among the middle-tenants whose holdings I resumed and re-let to the occupiers, was a widow lady, who, though the near relative of a noble lord, made, what is called in Ireland, a very “poor mouth” when the expiration of her lease deprived her of the profit-rent which her husband had wrung from the under-tenants, by breaking his covenant against sub-letting. I gave these occupying under-tenants leases of their own holdings; and, in consideration of the circumstances of the distressed lady-middleman, I agreed to make her an allowance of £50 a year, until her noble relative should come of age, and be able to assist her. When, however, I stopped my bounty, on that contingency taking place, her son, an Indian officer, who had just returned home, sent me a hostile message, for having so wounded his feelings.] Having finally arranged these affairs, and settled upon a plan for enlarging my house of Lyons, I left Ireland for the continent in the year 1802, immediately after the peace of Amiens had been concluded.

I was accompanied by my two sisters, [I had three sisters. The eldest had then recently become the widow of Thomas Whalley, known in Ireland as “Jerusalem Whalley,” from the circumstance of his having won a bet by performing a journey to Jerusalem on foot, except so far as it was necessary to cross the sea, and finishing the exploit by playing ball against the walls of that celebrated city. He was a perfect specimen of the Irish gentleman of the olden time. Gallant, reckless, and profuse, he made no account of money, limb, or life, when a bet was to be won, or a daring deed to be attempted. He spent a fine fortune in pursuits not more profitable than his expedition to play ball at Jerusalem; and rendered himself a cripple for life, by jumping from the drawing-room window of Daly’s club house, in College-green, on to the roof of a hackney coach which was passing.

My second sister was married to Sir Francis Burton, twin brother of the late Marquis Conyngham; and the third, as I have already said, to Colonel Edward Plunkett, afterwards 14th Lord Dunsany.] then unmarried, and our party from London to Paris was increased by the company of John Philip Kemble and the late Lord Holland. We arrived in the French capital in time to witness the last celebration that ever took place (July 14,1802) of the anniversary of the taking of the Bastile.

There was, however, another sight to be seen at that time in Paris, more extraordinary than any public fete or spectacle could possibly be; and being anxious to have an opportunity of forming a judgment for myself as to the appearance and manners of the greatest man then in the world, I asked the British minister, Mr. Merry, to present me to the First Consul. As my residence in the Tower had prevented me from paying my respects at St. James’s, Mr. Merry made some difficulty about standing sponsor for me at the court of Napoleon, at the same time assuring me that his refusal was occasioned altogether by the necessity for complying with strict regulations upon the subject of presentations, laid down by the First Consul himself. The difficulty, however, proved to be a trifling one, as when the subject was mentioned to Bonaparte, by Marshal Berthier, with whom I was made acquainted by General Lawless, he not only permitted me to be presented to him, but accompanied the permission with an invitation to attend a grand review, and to dine with him upon the day of presentation.

The occasion, at which Lord Holland was also present, was a remarkable one. We were received in the magnificent rooms of the Tuilleries, in great state; the stairs and ante-rooms being lined by men of the corps d’elite, in their splendid uniforms and baldricks of buff leather edged with silver. Upon our introduction refreshments were offered, and a circle was formed as at a private entreé. Napoleon entered freely into conversation with Lord Holland and myself, inquiring, among other matters, respecting the meaning of an Irish peerage, the peculiar character of which, and its difference from an English peerage, I had some difficulty in making him comprehend. While we were conversing, three knocks were heard at the door, and a deputation from the Conservative Senate presented itself, as if unexpectedly, and was admitted. The leader of the deputation addressed the First Consul in a set oration, tendering him the Consulate for life, to which he responded in an extempore speech, which, nevertheless, he read from a paper concealed in the crown of his hat.

Bonaparte was at that time very slight and thin in person, and, as far as I could judge, not possessed of much more information upon general subjects than of confidence in his own oratorical powers. Upon my expressing some surprise afterwards at the character of his remarks, I recollect General Lawless telling me that he and some other Irishmen (I believe Wolfe Tone was among them) had a short time before been engaged in a discussion with him respecting a project for the invasion of Ireland, when, after making many inquiries, and hearing their answers, he remarked that “it was a pity so fine a country should be so horribly infested with wolves.” Lawless and his companions assured him that such was not the case, to which he deigned no reply, but a contemptuous “bah!” The promotion to the consulate for life, which I had witnessed, occasioned much displeasure among the true republicans, both civil and military, and would, I think, have led to a serious emeute, had not these men then thought Napoleon necessary to their protection against, and vengeance upon, the coalition of European despots that had been organised against the liberties of France.

I was in a position to judge of the strength of those feelings as I found myself amongst a liberal minority of public men, who, having only just escaped from the horrors of the revolution, were anxious to preserve the liberty which had cost so dear, and who, while they admired and confided in the genius of Bonaparte, yet distrusted his ambition, and foresaw its consequences. Foremost in this category, I recollect, was that very corps d’elite, which I have mentioned, as forming the bodyguard of the First Consul. I frequently dined at their mess, to which I was introduced by General Lawless, and heard a vast quantity of talk, which, I have no doubt, Bonaparte would then have looked upon as nothing short of high treason, and which he would, in all probability, have dealt with accordingly, had he been aware of the extent to which it was indulged in.

During my residence in Paris in 1802, I was also on terms of intimate friendship with two persons, through whom I had considerable opportunity of learning the set of the under current of public opinion. One of these was Kosciusko, who brought me into acquaintance with many distinguished officers of the French army, and who, himself, formed a sort of centre of the republican party. The other was Helen Maria Williams, who held regular; assemblies at her apartments, at which the society was chiefly composed of liberal republicans and anti-Bonapartists, with a large sprinkling of Irish refugees. In such company I could not fail to become strongly impressed, not only with the general dislike of the new despotism entertained by liberal-minded Frenchmen, but, also, with the disgust entertained by my own countrymen, at the selfish and heartless manner in which they had been used and cast off by the various French governments, according as it suited their own temporary purposes.

The highest society of Paris at that time was not very agreeable. It was composed almost entirely of public officers, civil and military, and of persons connected with the government, as financiers and money contractors. Few of the former class derived much advantage from early habits of refinement, and the peculiarity of their suddenly elevated position did not tend to make them particularly agreeable members of the social circle. If, however, the latter laboured under any deficiencies of that sort, they covered them over by a profuse expenditure, and the most lavish employment of all the appliances of luxury. Remarkable among them was the banker, Recamier, at whose house at Rambouillet I was very hospitably entertained with a degree of luxury and magnificence that could scarcely be exceeded. Among the curiosities of the place were his wife’s dressing and bath-rooms; the latter of which was completely lined with mirrors, and, certainly, mirrors seldom reflected a more beautiful image than that of Madame Recamier, who was then acknowledged to be the handsomest woman in Paris. She was a blooming beauty, of the allegro caste – “buxom, blithe, and debonaire,” yet not devoid of a certain distinction of manner.

The practical quality of her mirth may be judged of from a specimen which I had an opportunity of witnessing, and which may be taken as illustrative of the tone of the Parisian society of the day:-Madame invited her guests, including a crowd of the principal ladies of the consular court, to visit a large conservatory, and when they were all engaged in admiring the plants, she set a-going among them some dozen or two of fountains, which spouted water in innumerable fine jets upwards from the floor to the height of two or three feet, the consternation of the guests furnishing ample enjoyment to the fair hostess.

The approach of the winter of 1802-3 drove us from Paris to seek a more southerly climate, and we accordingly moved en to Nice. We took Switzerland in our way, and visited Lyons, Nismes, Montpellier, Cette, Avignon, Vancluse, Marseilles, Toulon (where I passed some days very pleasantly with Admiral Gantheaume), Cannes, &c. At that time travelling was difficult in France. The roads were execrable, and infested with banditti. We were often placed in much danger, especially from the former of these causes; and I recollect that in the beautiful forest of L’Esterelle, between Toulon and Cannes, we were obliged to procure a number of men to hold the carriage upright, while it was dragged by several horses, with great difficulty, over the rough and rocky way. Nevertheless, we escaped without accident and passed the winter at Nice, where we found a mild climate, and, by chance, a tolerably good society that year.

Our comforts were, however, not, without drawbacks. During November and December it hardly ceased from raining; and in March, the heat and the gnats already began to be troublesome.

I have had a good deal of experience of foreign climates, and opportunity, too, of observing their effects upon invalids; and as the result, I must record my testimony against the futility of Irish invalids seeking more healthful skies abroad than they have at home. Travelling is, no doubt, itself a powerful and most agreeable agent in the restoration of health; but in cases of serious illness, I have never known the injury occasioned by separation from friends and loss of home comforts, to be compensated for by any of the vaunted climates of the invalid resorts of the continent. In Ireland there is, perhaps, somewhat of an excess of humidity; but still few days occur in the year during which exercise cannot be taken in the open air; and we have neither bise, nor sirocco, nor malaria; no coups de soleil, no agues, no mosquitoes.

The spot where I am now writing is within two hundred yards of the water of the Bay of Dublin, and the time is midwinter, yet the grass is as green as it was in April; myrtles are flourishing down to the very edge of the sea, and the honeysuckle is putting out fresh leaves. My recollection of the place now extends over 70 years, and I never, during that time, remember snow to have lain upon it for three consecutive days. On the other hand, I have found it necessary to have fires at Florence in July; and yet howmany Irishmen make “the variable climate” of their native land an excuse for hiding from their duties under the pretence of seeking health under foreign skies.

From Nice we passed on through the principal Italian cities to Florence, where Clarke, afterwards

Duc de Feltre, was at that time ambassador from France at the court of the newly-made King of Etruria, who died during our stay, and was, I recollect, honoured with a funeral of extraordinary magnificence. About this period, however, the crazy nature of the peace of Amiens began to make itself evident; and Clarke, to whom I had been introduced by Berthier, privately warned me of the coming storm, and advised me to avoid placing him under the necessity of sending me to take a place among the English detenus at Verdun, by getting at once within the bounds of the Roman States, the neutrality of which would, probably, be respected by Napoleon.

We, accordingly, moved on to Rome, where I resided more than two years in great happiness, in the excellent native and foreign society of that city, and in a most agreeable domestic circle, which was, during the time, enlarged by the union of my sister with Colonel Plunkett, and my own marriage with the daughter of General Morgan, whom I met in Italy My brother-in-law and I jointly rented the Palazzo Accaioli, close to the Quirinal, popularly known as the Palazzo delle tre canelle, where we kept house together, and exercised such hospitality as was suitable to our position and rank.

It may be interesting, at this distance of time, to know the rent of a palace at Rome in 1803, and some old memoranda enable me to give the information. The Palazzo Accaioli contained 14 or 15 principal rooms splendidly furnished; there were extensive gardens and orange grounds, with marble fountains, and other things customary to correspond; for all which we paid 400 dollars, or, at the current rate of exchange, about £90 a-year.

Such, however, was the state of civilisation then, that we were forced to purchase an old French sentry-box, and exercise our ingenuity in anticipating that Parisian invention, the use of which, and its name of Cabinet, so often puzzle English visitors upon their first promenades in the Champs Elysees. In the time of former occupants of the Palazzo, the worship of Cloacina was celebrated on the flat roof, the altar being the funnel of a chimney leading to some disused apartment. I am quite certain there was not then to be seen in Europe, south of Lyons, any, even the most uncouth, substitute for those conveniencies, which are to be found in the meanest houses of England.

The condition of the Roman states about the period of my arrival in the Eternal City was, in many respects, very strange. A short time previous, the French had been driven out by the Russians and English; and during the first months of my residence, the 12th British Light Dragoons were acting as a bodyguard to the Pope. Massena had been French governor of the city, and had levied contributions upon it with so much severity as to disgust even his own officers, who had exhibited their dislike at the unnecessary harshness of his proceedings by placing him in a sort of coventry. The effect of those exactions had, of course, been to involve the Roman citizens of the upper classes in extreme pecuniary difficulties, which obliged them to sell their pictures, statues, and other works of art, and made Rome a very favourable market for the virtuoso. Among those who dealt largely in that traffic, was the noted Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, who was in the habit of receiving regular remittances from home of upwards of £5,000 quarterly, which he immediately expended in the purchase of every article of vertú that came within his reach. In this, as in most other cases, however, the proverb came true – wilful waste made woeful want; and towards the end of the quarter, the noble prelate used to find his purse absolutely empty, and his credit so low as to be insufficient to procure him a bottle of Orvieto. Then followed a dispersion of his collection, as rapidly as it was gathered, but, as might be expected, at a heavy discount. [ I have seen the eccentric Earl-Bishop ride about the streets of Rome, dressed in red plush breeches and a broad-brimmed white or straw hat, and was often asked if that was the canonical costume of an Irish prelate. His irregularities were so strange, as to render any story that might be told about him credible, and, of course, to cause the invention of many, that in reference to any other person would be incredible. I recollect Colonel Plunkett making a bargain with a carriage-keeper for the services of a vehicle, and upon his remonstrating against a demand of 14 instead of 12 crowns a-mouth asked by another, being told that it was easy for the competitor to work cheap, as his wife had an amico, who was a farmer, and sold the complaisant husband oats and hay cheap; while he himself was, on the contrary, obliged to raise his charges in consequence of his wife being thrown back upon his hands by the death of Milor il Yescovo. The bishop was taken suddenly ill, on a journey from Albano to Rome, and died in the outhouse of a cottage, to which he was carried, in consequence of the unwillingness of the peasants to admit a heretic-prelate to die under their roof. I took charge of the wreck of his property at Rome, and was enabled to save it for his heirs.] I was sometimes a purchaser upon these occasions; and being also, by the kindness of the Pope, permitted to make excavations, I accumulated a collection of considerable value, a part of which is now at Lyons. The largest and most valuable portion of this treasure of art was, however, lost by shipwreck in Killiney Bay, within two hours’ sail of Dublin.

It was in vain that legal difficulties wore thrown in the way of this extensive sale of the monuments of ancient splendour. A law, with very stringent provisions, forbade the removal of antiquities from Rome ; but the poverty of their owners, or of the authorities, always opened a way to evade it. Thus, among the most unmanageable of my acquisitions was that of four pillars of polished red granite, which I was formally forbidden to remove from Rome, although it was conceded that I might deal with them as I pleased within the bounds of the city. Nevertheless, a little management, and a threat that I might take advantage of my ownership, to cut the columns into blocks, shortly removed all obstacles, and they now form the support of the portico of Lyons House.

These pillars had a strange history. Three of them had been taken from the Golden House of Nero, and used by Raffaelle in ornamenting the Farnesine Palace, from which, with a fourth, apparently similar, they were brought by the Baron Von Humboldt, who was then at Rome, engaged in collecting works of art for the King of Prussia. The baron, however, declined to complete the purchase, upon finding that the fourth pillar was of grey granite, and had been painted red by Raffaelle, in order to match the others. As I was upon terms of intimacy with him, be told me the history of the pillars, into which he had inquired, and I bought them upon his certificate of their origin. Some time afterwards, in excavating in the ruins of the baths of Titus, I found a fourth, but much larger, red column, which I had chiselled down and polished to match the other three, and, as soon as I had extorted the permission to remove them, I shipped the whole for Ireland.

Now that (while I write) the descendants of the ancient masters of the world are apparently about to enter, with somewhat of the spirit of their forefathers, upon a deadly struggle for freedom and progress, it must needs seem strange to me to look back upon that odd mixture of bigotry, feebleness, and despotism, with extreme kindness and urbanity, which formed the Roman civilisation of the commencement of the present century. Nothing could exceed the attention and friendship shown to myself by the government and people of all classes, and yet I recollect upon several occasions attending funerals to the English burying-ground, when, the moment the heretical body approached the bank of the Tiber, it was saluted by the Trasteverini, with the cry of “al fiume,” not, I believe, with any intention of mischief, hut, rather, as a formal protest against heresy. When also a flood, at one time, rose into the Ghetto, the sentries at the gates drove back the poor Jews into their dwellings, without appearing to entertain the least compassion for these unfortunate outcasts, although they did not interfere with my brother-in-law and myself, when we brought a boat and picked numbers of them off the roofs, and from the windows of their houses.

At this very time my requests for permission to excavate, and, indeed, any other favours I asked, were granted in the most gracious manner; nay, the complacency of the authorities was carried so far, that when a servant whom I had been obliged to putaway for misconduct, attempted to revenge himself by going to law, his first step was met by a message being sent to me to inquire what amount of punishment I would wish to have awarded for that act of insolence.

The fabric of society seemed to have lost all strength and power of cohesion, and yet to retain the outward form and shape of a community. The government, altogether at the mercy of any enemy or ally that chose to attack or protect it, still affected to maintain a sort of array; and a Papal fleet – the two frigates, St. Peter and St. Paul – lay in ordinary at Civita Vecehia, and was commanded by the Marquis del Specchio, who filled the office of Italian teacher to my sisters, and constantly came to the performance of his functions in full admiral’s uniform.

The people were sunk in bigotry and superstition, which permitted no access to their minds of ideas of liberty or national independence. The nobility despaired for their country, or thought not of her, and diverted themselves, as best they could, with passing amusements. I have often spent a whole morning at a whist table, placed between the beds of a prince and princess, with a cardinal for my partner, and their excellencies, comfortably reclining under their bedclothes, for our adversaries. On we played until dinner-time; none of the party, except myself ever spending a thought upon the fallen state of the great city. Yet, many of those who thus trifled away their time from day to day, were the reputed descendants of the ancient Romans, and the natural leaders of their fellow-citizens, then exciting, and made the sport of English, French, and Russian soldiery, as the chances of war, and their own feebleness, gave occasion.

Let us hope that this apathy has passed away, and that the sons of the Romans of 1803 will show that they possess the sterner virtues of their more remote progenitors – but in addition to, not to the exclusion of, the many amiable qualities of their fathers.

In those days, it would have been impossible to have found a more polished kindliness than generally existed among the Italian nobility, or a frame of mind more accurately formed upon the Epicurean model, in so far as related to their conception of political and social duties. The highest nobles shrank from the cares and troubles of government, and laughed at the pretensions of the ambitious ecclesiastics, who took upon themselves the charge of their bodies and souls; yet those same men were themselves so influenced by the desire of letting things go on in the old way, as to submit, without murmuring, but with a strange inconsistency, to grave annoyances, or even to active exertion, in connexion with matters in which the popular superstitions were involved. Thus, my friend Prince Massimo (who, by the way, traced his descent from Fabius Maximus) happening to have, in the upper story of his palace, a shrine of the Virgin of peculiar sanctity, he submitted patiently to the continual passage through his house, at all times and seasons, of every beggar who chose to make that shrine the object of his devotion. I have seen, too, the King of Sardinia march through the streets of Rome, in a procession of Frati, bearing on his shoulder a cross, large enough to be used as an instrument of execution, and which an observer would have supposed to be too heavy for the muscular powers of a stout coalporter, not to speak of those of a very feeble king. In relation to this particular occurrence, however, I am bound to admit, that his Majesty tempered his pious zeal with discretion, as I found, when happening to visit him, on the day of this exhibition, I saw, in an ante-room, the identical cross under which he had been toiling in the morning; and, upon examining it, discovered that it was composed of bark merely, and did not weigh more than a few pounds.

In accounting for such compliances as these, however, credit must be given to the Italian nobles for a degree of ignorance which it is scarcely possible to conceive. It is a fact, that when the Prince Borghese, the brother-in-law of Napoleon, was nominated to some public office, it became necessary to have a stamp made, for the purpose of affixing his mark to public documents, as he was incapable of signing his name. Nor was the ignorance of this Prince – one of the wealthiest nobles in Rome – to be attributed, as that of our fox-hunting squires used to be, to immoderate cultivation of the physical powers, for I have seen his excellency during our rides together, tumble off his horse upon very slight provocation; nevertheless, neither physical nor intellectual deficiencies prevented him from becoming a general, through the influence of his imperial brother-in-law.

In striking contrast, however, with the intellectual feebleness of the Italian aristocracy, appeared to me the vigour of some of the class of artists, in which I was fortunate enough to make an extensive acquaintance; and, among the number, Canova, with whom I travelled for a part of the way on my journey from Rome to Vienna, to which latter city he was going for the purpose of erecting a monument to one of the Austrian archduchesses. I was a frequent visitor at his studio, and was often favoured with his advice when making purchases of works of art. Canova was a thorough liberal and patriot; though his devotion to art, and the modesty of his nature, prevented him from expressing his feelings respecting the condition of his country in any public mariner. In private society, nevertheless, I had abundant opportunities of observing and admiring the workings of his grand, yet simple mind; and when liberty and human progress were the subjects of his thoughts, they were not unworthy of an ancient Roman.

During my residence in Rome, I was commissioned by some parties in London to engage Canova to execute a statue of Francis Duke of Bedford, for which the subscribers were willing to give a large price. He was, however, obliged to decline the engagement, saying, that if he had another lease of life, he would be unable – to execute the works he had been forced to undertake. In his studio there were, then, statues, nearly finished, of the legitimate King of Naples, in his robes of state, and of the usurping Emperor Napoleon, unrobed, but with the rudder, globe, and other emblems of imperial sovereignty; and, certainly, the contrast was a strange one between these counterfeit presentiments of two brothers; more characteristic allegorical representations of hereditary succession and mental supremacy could scarcely be conceived.

“See how fortunate he is in everything,” said Canova to me, as he turned from looking at the image of the stupid king, de jure, to contemplate the noble figure of the monarch, de facto, of continental Europe – “see how fortunate he is: that block of marble is the only one I ever got from Carrara undamaged by a single flaw.” The statue is now, I believe, in Apsley House.

The proximity of my residence to the Quirinal, was the groundwork of an acquaintance with the Pope, Pius the Seventh, from whom I received much kindness. Among his other civilities, he gave me a key for the Quirinal gardens, and permission to use them when I pleased – a privilege which afforded me frequent opportunities of conversing with his Holiness, as when we met in the garden, he was in the habit of inviting me to join him in his walk. He was a kind-hearted, worthy man, not deficient in shrewdness, and sufficiently tolerant in conversation. His disposition in this latter respect, I recollect frequently putting to the proof, by telling him that it was in his power to effect two great reforms – a moral and a physical – by a single decree, which should set the monks of Rome at work in the cultivation of the Campagna, and thereby curing them of the moral plague of the vast idleness of the convents, and the no less baneful physical evil of malaria. He never denied the existence either of the one pest or the other, although I never succeeded in prevailing upon him to adopt my plan for their removal.

When Pius left Rome, on his way to France, to crown Napoleon, Lord Mountcashel, Colonel Plunkett, and I testified our respect and gratitude for his kindness by accompanying him on horseback as far as Viterbo, where he bade us farewell.

The cavalcade consisted of 16 or 18 carriages, only one of which was provided with springs; and that was one sent from Paris for the express use of his Holiness. This was quite a splendid affair, with a false bottom of silver, to hold warm water, as the weather was cold; but the poor cardinals in the Pope’s suite were jolted along in vehicles not less inconvenient and rude than the ancient biga, though profusely adorned with gilding, and lined with velvet.

Among the prominent members of Roman society in those days, was the last of the Stuarts, Cardinal York, with whom I became somewhat of a favourite, probably by virtue of addressing him as “Majesty,” and thus going a step farther than the Duke of Sussex, who was on familiar terms with him, and always applied to him the style of Royal Highness.

The Cardinal was in the receipt of an income of eight or nine thousand pounds a-year, of which he received £4,000 from his royal rival, George III., and the remainder from his ecclesiastical benefices. This revenue was then, in Italy, equivalent at least to £20,000; and it enabled his Eminence to assume somewhat of royal state. He was waited upon with all suitable ceremony, and his equipages were numerous and splendid, and freely placed at the disposal of his guests. He was in the habit of receiving visitors very hospitably at his villa, at Frescati, where I was often a guest, and was frequently amused by a reproduction of the scenes between Sancho Panza and his physician, during the reign of the squire in the island of Barataria. His Eminence was an invalid, and under a strict regimen; but as he still retained his tastes for savoury meats, a contest usually took place between him and his servants for the possession of rich diet, which they formally set before him, and then endeavoured to snatch away, while he, with greater eagerness, strove to seize it in its transit.

Among the Cardinal’s most favourite attendants, was a miserable cur dog, which, probably, having been cast off by its master, as being neither useful nor ornamental, one day attached itself to his Eminence at the gate of St. Peter’s, an occurrence to which he constantly referred, as a proof of his true royal blood-the cur being, as he supposed, a King Charles spaniel, and, therefore, endowed with an instinctive, hereditary acquaintance with the house of Stuart. Upon the occasion of my visit to Frescati, I presented the Cardinal with a telescope, which he seemed to fancy, and received from him, in return, the large medal struck in honour of his accession to his unsubstantial throne. Upon one side of this medal was the royal bust, with the cardinal’s hat, and the words, Henricus nonus Dei gratia Rex, and upon the other, the arms of England, with the motto on the exerque:- Haud desideriis hominum, sed voluntate Dei. [So trifling an article as a telescope will scarcely seem to be a present worthy of the acceptance of a Prince of the Church, and King, even though his sovereignty was not de facto; but it is scarcely possible, at the present time, to bring home to the mind a conception of the value which then, under the operation of the continental system, was set upon articles of English manufacture in Italy. The Cardinal was in the highest delight with my gift; and an ordinary dressing-case, given by my sister to Princess Massime, was the admiration of all the Roman ladies, to whom it was sometimes shown as a special favour. Many English-made articles it was absolutely impossible to purchase. I recollect the Prince Borghese, when he wished to decorate a chamber for the reception of his wife, Pauline Bonaparte, was obliged to eke out a small turkey carpet with pieces of baize, of different textures and shades of colour.]

While speaking of the debris of the house of Stuart, I may mention Louisa de Stollberg, Madame D’Albany, the widow of the Pretender, Charles Edward, and the chere amie, or privately-married wife of Count Alfieri, the celebrated poet. At the time of my first residence in Italy, this lady lived in Florence, where, as well as at Rome, she was one of the leaders of society. She paid me a lengthened visit in the latter city, and I was frequently a guest at her house. Upon these occasions Alfieri was in the habit of sitting on a sofa, in a sort of state, not mingling with the company, but conversing with those who came about him, always provided there was no Frenchman among the number. For the whole French nation he entertained the most cordial hatred, and lost no opportunity of exhibiting his feelings without disguise or modification. Excepting when he was in special good humour, Alfieri’s manners were savage and repulsive, forming a strong contrast to those of Madame D’Albany, who was highly informed and very agreeable. At her receptions, while Alfieri thus sat part, in a kind of moody grandeur, she used to stand at the tea-table, with an apron over her dress, with her own hands serving tea to her guests.

Italy in 1803, 4, and 5, was comparatively but little frequented by travellers; and those foreigners who were temporarily residing in the great cities were chiefly English and Russians. They were mostly persons of rank, and were, in general freely admitted into the best native society. Among the former was a personage who somewhat perplexed the Papal master of the ceremonies, as she had before disquieted the royal mind of England. This was Anne, Duchess of Cumberland, sister-in-law of George III., and sister to the Earl of Carhampton. It was in consequence of the marriage of this lady with the Duke of Cumberland, and that of the Countess Waldegrave with the Duke of Gloucester, that the Royal Marriages Act was passed in England; and as some rumours in relation to the effect of that measure had reached Rome, I recollect being consulted by the authorities, as to whether royal honours should or should not be paid to the duchess. I, of course, took part with the weakest; and, upon my showing of the state of the case, a guard of honour was regularly mounted at her Royal Highness’ residence. This piece of service raised me to a very high place in the duchess’ favour, and was rewarded, in kind, by her becoming sponsor to my eldest son, and insisting upon conferring upon him her own name of Anne.

The circle also contained two other quasi royal members – Princes of Mechlenburg Schwerin and Strelitz. Upon these distinguished personages the Irish parliament had humbly begged to be allowed to confer pensions, payable from the Irish exchequer, of £3,000 a-year each; and his Majesty George III. had graciously permitted his faithful Commons to enjoy that high honour. I recollect, nevertheless, that the difficulty of exciting their Highnesses to a sense of the duty of hospitality was a standing jest among us. After they had been entertained by the whole party of foreign residents, they formally excused themselves from giving a dinner, on the score of the want of guards of honour and other appurtenances of regal state – an excuse which, as soon as the pinch of the case was seen, was generally voted to be insufficient. Assurances were poured in from all sides that ceremony would be waived; and at length, after much laughing, we succeeded in forcing upon the princes the desperate alternative of giving a dinner.

There were among the Russian residents two remarkable characters: one was Orloff, the favourite of the Empress Catherine, whom I frequently met at Naples; and the other, the Prince Potemkin, son of the more celebrated owner of that name. The introduction of the Muscovite element made a strange mixture in our society, where, as sometimes happened, discussions arose that brought the habitual, steady English love of freedom in conflict of argument with the fierce, barbarian vigour of the Russians; and that, too, in presence of the polished feebleness of some noble subject of the Church. I shall never forget one of these occasions, when the comparative merits of democracy and despotism being under debate, the risk of mischief at the hands of a senseless, ill-conditioned tyrant was urged as more than a counterpoise for the good that could be done by a benevolent and wise autocrat. “Against that risk,” exclaimed Count Pahlen, who was present, “we have a safeguard. Here is the constitution of Russia!” and, starting up, he closed the argument by drawing a dagger from his pocket, and flinging it upon the table, with an earnestness and energy that left no doubt of his personal willingness to put that sharp, constitutional remedy in operation, should a wrong requiring it arise within his cognizance.

In calling up my recollections of Rome, I must not omit to mention the names of two fellow-countrymen from whom I received many marks of kindness. I allude to the Inquisitor General Concanen, and the Abbé Taylor, head of the Irish monastery of St. Isdore. The former was a very handsome man, and, in society at least, quite free from any visible signs of the nature of his office, or any indication that he wielded the terrors of the Inquisition. The Abbé Taylor was generally supposed to be the priest who married George IV. to Mrs. Fitzherbert. He was a busy little man, always ready to serve his friends, or do any act of kindness; and, from his ubiquitous movements, was somewhat irreverently designated by his comperes, by the nickname of il spirito santo. The following letter, half French, half English, gives no bad picture of the man, while it contains some Roman gossip of the day, illustrative, so far as it goes, of the state of intelligence that then existed in the Eternal City:-

The Abbé Taylor to Lord Cloncurry.

Rome, St. Clements, Dec. ye 20th, 1805.

“My worthy, good Lord-A letter from your Lordship, dated from London, November ye 2nd, found me at Frescati, where I had been on a visit for near five weeks. The pleasure I felt on receiving it, no words can express. To hear of your Lordship being so near home, and in good health and spirits, as well as Lady Cloncurry and the dear little ones, was the most pleasing intelligence I could wish to receive. The account you also give of my respectable friends, Colonel and Mrs. Plunkett, and sweet Edward, gives me infinite satisfaction; and had I to wish for any other information respecting the family, it would be to hear that Madame Whalley was equally well and happy. Give me leave now, my dear Lord, to congratulate your Lordship on the safe arrival of all your Roman cargo – a most fortunate event, considerata considerandis. Mr. Wm. Moore, and Mr. Gerna were highly delighted on hearing this agreeable piece of news.

* * * *

On parle ici beaucoup de la paix; puisse la divine Providence nous l’accorder a tous, et le bonheur qui vient a sa suite; c’est a dire l’harmonie et la bonne intelligence entre notre pauvre patrie et l’Angleterre. Puissent les deux nations se rappeller qn’ils sont freres et depouillant tout esprit d’animosite et d’orgueil se rapprocher des loix sacrees de l’humanite; et ne ohercher desormais la gloire et le bonheur que dans la pratique de la justlice et des loix sociales. Avant de finir cette lettre, permettez moi, my Lord, d’avoir l’honneur de vous offrir les voeux sinceres que je fais bien cordialement pour la conservation de votre chere personne, pour celle de my Lady et des charmants enfans, en tout tems, et particulierement dans les saintes fetes de Noel et du jour de l’an. Puisse le ciel vous accorder a tous, les agremens et les jouissances les plus pures pendant une longue suite d’annee’s.

All intercourse between this place and Venice has been stopped since the declaration of war against Germany, so that we are here at a very great loss how to send our letters to England; and as for the Exchange on that country, it is so low (besides the bankers, in general, don’t seem much inclined to take bills on London), that I have put off till a more favourable occasion, to draw for money.

Cardinal F—h, [Cardinal Fesch, Bonaparte’s maternal uncle.] about six weeks ago, paid a visit to our church, and after, came and sat with me, in my room, for better than half an hour, and most graciously insisted on my dining with him, and sent his carriage for me. At dinner, his Eminence paid me the greatest attention. The conversation never touched on politics, and the company was very numerous. Your Lordship may easily imagine that my having accepted of this invitation, which I could not, sans etre impoli, refuse, was condemned. By whom? By those who would have gladly accepted such an invitation, had it been made to them.

I wrote twice to Madame Plunkett since I received her letter, but, as yet, have got no answer. The baglia’s father died in November last, and that suddenly. My best respects to General and Mrs. Cockburn, as also to my worthy, good friend, Mr. Thomas Dillon. I shall be happy to hear often from your Lordship, and receive your orders.

Believe me, with due respect and esteem, &c.

Joseph Taylor.”

After a residence of more than two years in Rome, I turned my steps homeward in the summer of 1805, and, as the war with France was then raging, I was obliged to make the journey by a circuitous route. From Rome I proceeded to Ancona, and thence to Pesaro, whence, having made an excursion to Spalatro in Dalmatia, to visit the ruins of the palace of Diocletian, I went on to Venice, and so by Trieste, and through Carinthia to Vienna. From Ancona to Venice I made the journey in company with Madame de Stael, and I shall not easily forget a scene in which I witnessed her acting upon our arrival at the city of St. Mark. She made it a point never to waive any of the ceremonial which she thought properly belonged to her rank. She always took care to have the guard of authors turned out, whenever she approached a position, and never failed to accept all the honours of literature.

Following out her custom in this respect she had written to announce her approach to a poet, resident at Venice, whose name I now forget, but which happened to be identical with that of the principal butcher of the city. By some blundering of the postal authorities, Madame la Baronne’s letter was delivered to Signor —, the butcher, instead of to Signor —, the poet, and the former, anxious to secure so distinguished a customer, carefully watched our arrival and lost not a minute in paying his respects to the baroness. She, of course, was prepared to receive the homage of genius, en cour pleniere, and we were all (including M. de Sismondi, the historian of the Italian republics, who was in the company) convened to witness the meeting. Neither of the high saluting parties knew the power of the other, and it was some time before an explanation came about, the ridiculous character of which it is easier to conceive than to describe.

Here, again, I came into contact with some of my fellow-countrymen, and was fortunately enabled to do them a bit of service. They were 12 or 14 poor United Irishmen, who had been handed over into a kind of slavery to the King of Prussia, by the English government, and who having got tired of their servitude, had deserted from the army, and made their way. into Austria. Just at the time of my arrival, a demand for their surrender had been made by their Prussian commander, and was supported by two or three ultra-loyal Irishmen, who happened at the time to be in Vienna. The Emperor’s confessor, also an Irishman, made what fight he could for them, and I, having joined my force to his, made an appeal on their behalf to Sir Arthur Paget, the British ambassador, which was ultimately successful and, instead of being returned to the Prussian service, the poor fellows were allowed to proceed with me to England, protected by a passport from Sir Arthur. As the roads were very bad, they were able to keep up with me on foot in this long journey, and I had the satisfaction, years afterwards, of hearing from some of them from their comfortable settlements in the north of Ireland.

From Vienna I passed on to Prague and Dresden, and in the latter city made the acquaintance of Prince Xavier, of Saxony, who being the father-in-law of my friend the Prince Massimo, was profuse in his kindness and attention to me and my party. We passed some days with the prince at his Schloss of Zabelditz, a few miles distant from Dresden, and there partook of the old German princely hospitality in its most unsophisticated shape. His Highness’ household was regal in number, and the employments and amusements of its members regulated in the ancient feudal fashion. When the weather admitted, we hunted the boar in great force; and, on one or two occasions, when we were obliged to keep within doors, I recollect the tedium of the long afternoon was relieved by the introduction of a couple of boar hounds (the largest dogs I ever saw) into the dining-hall; to hunt a bagged polecat – the chief zest of the sport being the terror of the ladies, and their efforts to avoid the enormous dogs and their odoriferous quarry, by jumping upon chairs and tables as they approached.

After visiting Berlin, I proceeded northwards to Lubeck, and having made a short tour through Denmark, I embarked at a small port near Tonningen, the name of which I now forget, and passing through England, arrived at home, at the close of the year 1805, after an absence of about three years.

Chapter IX.


Ireland after the Union – Insincerity of the English Government – Disappointment of the Catholics – New Enlistment of the Protestant Garrison – Obliteration of all traces of Union among Irishmen – Elements of strife – Operation of the Franchise of ’93 – Progress of the Power of the Catholics – Effect of the Penal Laws in driving them to Industrial Pursuits – Effects of Placehunting in crushing the spirit of the Protestants – The Clare Election – Surrender of the Duke of Wellington – Zenith of Catholic Power – Social Changes observable in 1806 – Dublin Society before the Union – Change in Feeling between the Classes – Settlement at Lyons – Traces of the Condition of Irish Society visible there – Loyal Invasion and Robbery of my House during my Absence – Kindness of Lord Hardwicke – A Hint of what I was to expect from the Powers that were – Lord Redesdale’s Refusal to grant me the Commission of the Peace – Letters; from Mr. Borne, Lord Redesdale, and Myself – Intervention of Lord Hardwicke – Submission of theChancellor – Letters from him and Mr. Burne – Accession of “all the Talents” – The Magistracy, and their Mode of doing Business – Ancient and Discreet Constables – Their Protestant Qualification – An Embarrassing Inquiry – Care taken of the King’s Windfalls – Kenny’s Case – The Dublin Police – Affair at Saggard – Working out of the Policy of Discord and Corruption.

The Ireland to which I returned at the end of the year 1805, was, in many respects, so different from the country I had left in 1797, that I must again pause in my personal narrative, to reflect upon the nature of the changes that had taken place. I have already sketched the outlines of the national course from 1782 to the date of the Union, and have marked the steps of the downward progress of Ireland, during those 18 years, from legislative freedom to political annihilation. The legislature was enfranchised only that its members might be enabled to sell their country. The rotten borough system was preserved, and the Catholics were endowed with the forty-shilling franchise, in order to make that sale practicable. A united national resistance was rendered impossible, by the skilful introduction of religious discord among the people; and the bargain was completed by a profuse exchange of English gold, for the power of governing a nation, humiliated, dissatisfied, and so broken in spirit, and destitute of self-reliance, as to be, of necessity, a galling burden upon the shoulders of the purchaser.

The Union was scarcely accomplished when the English government began to exhibit very plain indications of the insincerity of the professions, by the use of which they had managed to carry it. The further relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics was indefinitely postponed. The stipend which the clergy expected was not forthcoming. The Catholics, accordingly, both lay and clerical, became deeply and dangerously disaffected to the new regime. The Catholics had been bought over by promises to lend their weight to crush the Protestant opposition to the Union. Protestant help to bear down Catholic disaffection, was now bought with a more substantial consideration – the country was delivered up to the will of the Protestant yeomanry, who, drilled, and armed, and paid by the state, were taught that they were a garrison entrusted with the keeping of Ireland for England; and that the foes, against whom it was their especial duty to hold out to the death, were their fellowcountrymen. In the teaching of this doctrine no pains were spared: it was preached from the pulpit, declared from the bench of justice, talked over in the Castle waiting-room, and made the subject of a course of mutual instruction in the Orange lodges, which were founded and fostered by government officials and hangers-on, of every grade. All traces of that union among Irishmen, which had been begun by the Volunteers at Dungannon, and attempted to be permanently cemented by the United Irish leaders, were, of course, speedily effaced from society, and in their stead were only to be seen in the two factions, the reopened wounds of ’98, festering under the irritating treatment of the common enemy of both.

The unfortunate outbreak of Emmett in 1803, materially aided the English government in carrying out their policy of division, and its suppression left the Irish people split into two factions, the fierceness of whose mutual animosity has, perhaps, never been equalled within a Christian community. On the one side were the masses of the Catholic population, with the few Protestants whose liberality outlived the shocks of the rebellion and Union, and withstood the blandishments of the Castle; on the other, the bulk of the Protestants, supported and stimulated by all the influence that a thoroughly corrupt and unscrupulous government could exercise. The elements of strife were threefold – the spirit of the unnatural quarrel was compounded of the hatred of race, the hatred of religious opinion, and the hatred of a property dispute. The one party justified its oppressions as being events in a war against barbarians, idolaters, and outlaws; the other felt its vengeance to be sanctified by being directed against foreigners, heretics, and robbers. In such a conflict there was, of course, little quarter.

The government hung peasants in the name of the law, and followed with vexatious persecutions, against which no legal protection could be obtained, all those who opposed or attempted to moderate that exercise of their power. The peasants shot down government officers and government men whenever and wherever they could take them at an advantage.

Meanwhile the power given to the oppressed together with the forty-shilling franchise, was entering upon a course of growth which, in 29 years from the Union, became so formidable as to overcome the will of the most despotic minister of his age, backed, though he was, by the prejudices of the entire English nation. The forty-shilling Catholic freeholders, who had been called into existence for the purpose of dividing and baffling Irish parliamentary reformers, who had been used by the Irish aristocracy to magnify their own power and importance, who had constituted the matter of traffic in that gigantic market of corruption which had been established within the fabric of the constitution of ’82; those same forty-shilling freeholders, in 1829, forced the Duke of Wellington to confess that he feared to engage with them in civil conflict, and so fearing, he capitulated almost at discretion to their leaders.

In that capitulation the interests of the fighting men were neglected, as is often the case – the forty-shilling freeholders were disbanded by beat of drum, and having been, like the soldiers of former times, called away from the tranquil pursuits of industry to fight the battles of others, they were dismissed without provision for their maintenance, after the course of their service had, in a great degree, rendered them unfit to support themselves. A more impolitic and reckless act of selfishness never was perpetrated, than the enfranchisement, in 1793, of the lower classes of the Irish Catholics – that knocking from the limbs of the serfs of so much of their fetters as to leave them at liberty to work for the profit of their Protestant masters.

A more cruel deed of ingratitude never was done than the sudden disfranchisement of the same serf-class, when they had finished the work of their Catholic leaders, and, in the course of doing it, had incurrred the hostility of those upon whose soil they were bound by the fatal facility of the potato-crop. I have already adverted to this subject; but as a historical lesson, supplying in all its parts a warning against political dishonesty and selfishness, its interest can never be exhausted.

The gradations by which the power of the Irish Catholics arrived at the height it attained in 1829, are worthy of notice. The foundation and the main props of the structure were certainly laid in the donation of the electoral privilege to the very lowest class of the Catholic population; but it was also greatly strengthened by other incidents. One of these was the rapid increase of wealth among the middle and upper classes of the same creed, which accrued as a sort of indirect result of the penal laws. By preventing Catholics from holding real property, those statutes had forced such of the more intelligent and better educated among them as had no inclination to enter into the military service of foreign countries, to engage in trade and mechanical pursuits at home.

Placehunting was then, happily for them, a forbidden pursuit. Upon that manor the Protestants, long after the Union, permitted no poaching. The consequence was, that while the professors of the state religion filled all places of profit and honour, from the highest to the lowest, the believers in the proscribed creed were acquiring wealth in trade, and by the practice of such of the professions as were open to them; and were taking advantage of the peculiar state of the Irish law in reference to judgment debts, to invest their savings in liens upon the land. The former thus naturally fell into those habits of combined subserviency and insolence, which always characterise a bureaucracy – they considered themselves, as a party, to be possessed of an hereditary right to the profits and privileges of domination, while, with the decline of their actual political power, they gradually lost that spirit of bold independence which was the Protestantism of the Volunteers of Dungannon.

They became grovelling worshippers of the Castle; but they whined, and murmured, and sometimes even threatened before the shrine, if a stray beam of the favour of their divinity was seen to fall upon a worshipper of the outer court. While such training as this was working out its proper effects, enfeebling, denationalising, and even (for placehunting is not a profitable calling) impoverishing the Protestants, the Catholics, on the other hand, were becoming vigorous under the stimulating discipline of persecution: the wealth and professional and commercial standing many of them had obtained, made them all the more anxious to attain to a social position of equality with their oppressors.

Their Committees and associations became filled with rich merchants and loud-voiced lawyers, who, having no favours to expect from the government, hurled a noisy defiance against it. The clamour pleased the people; the clergy joined in it; the movement became by degrees more and more real, until, at length, it carried Mr. O’Connell to the doors of the House of Commons, at the Clare election in 1828. It was then the Duke of Wellington beat his chamade, and Catholic relief having been yielded grudgingly and with a bad grace, yet upon terms much worse than might have been obtained for England and the Irish Protestants, a new phase of Irish society began to exhibit itself, the character and progress of which I shall probably have another opportunity of considering.

The social changes observable by one who returned to live in Ireland in 1806, after an eight years’ absence, were not less remarkable than those political mutations to which I have just now referred. Dublin in 1797 was, perhaps, one of the most agreeable places of residence in Europe. There were no conveniences belonging to a capital, in those days, which it did not possess. Society in the upper classes was as brilliant and polished as that of Paris in its best days, while social intercourse was conducted with a conviviality that could not be equalled in France, and which, though not always strictly in accordance with modern notions of temperance, seldom degenerated into coarseness.

All persons of a certain condition were acquainted with each other, and were in the habit of meeting together in social circles both private and public. Thus a pleasant familiarity grew up; but was prevented from passing into contempt by the punctilious habits of personal respect belonging to the time. It is true there was a duel now and then, as the sequela of a ball or assembly; but not more frequently than in other countries at the time, and it was conducted in a gallant manner, the adversaries being no worse friends after it was over. The public sympathy also generally went with the party in the right and thus this exercise of the jus privatum (which, however, I do not mean formally to defend) had the effect, in the upper ranks of Irish society, of heightening the polish of its members, and establishing well-defined lines of demarcation between ease and licence.

Among the lower classes, the extreme destitution of latter years was, speaking generally, unknown. The rural population was decidedly in a more prosperous state than it has ever since been in; and although the weavers of Dublin, like the weavers of Spitalfields, were frequently the objects of public charity, still it needs but to look at the ruins of the “Liberty” to be convinced that the manufacturing population who built and dwelt in the houses still existing there, though now in a state of dilapidation, must have been very superior in wealth and numbers to any similar class at present existing in Ireland.

There was another strongly-marked difference between the before and after of the Union, which is worthy of notice, and which forcibly attracted my attention upon my return. I had known the existence of a kindly feeling between the upper and lower classes of society; but I then found, in its place, the bitterest hatred. At the former period, there were, indeed, unpopular lords and squires, but there were, also, men of the highest rank, and many of them, who were the idols of the people. The divisions then existing were divisions of political parties, men of all ranks being arrayed upon both sides: after the Union, the lower Class were pitted against the upper, and the appearance upon the side of the former of a partisan of noble or gentle rank, was looked upon as a sort of wonder. For a lord or squire then to be popular was a rare exception. This could not but seem strange to me, who remembered the splendour with which the magnates were wont to exhibit themselves to the citizens of Dublin, and the manifest enjoyment afforded by the spectacle to the latter.

It was the custom, on Sundays, for all the great folk to rendezvous, in the afternoon, upon the North Circular Road, just as, in latter times, the fashionables of London did in Hyde Park; and upon that magnificent drive, I have frequently seen three or four coaches-and-six, and eight or ten coaches-and-four, passing slowly to and fro in a long procession of other carriages, and between a double column of well-mounted horsemen. Of course, the populace were there, too, and saluted with friendly greetings, always cordially and kindly acknowledged, the lords and gentlemen of the country party, who were neither few in number nor insignificant in station. The fact that those Sunday exhibitions were countenanced at all, may possibly move some devout moderns to thankfulness for the shadowy passage of those days of vanity; and such feelings will, no doubt, be much strengthened when I mention, that the evenings of those Sunday mornings were commonly passed by the same parties in promenading at the Rotunda. I have frequently seen there, of a Sunday evening, a third of the members of the two houses of parliament. Nevertheless, I must characterise those days as days of kindliness, and good feeling, and national happiness, when compared with those which have succeeded them.

Directly upon my return to Ireland I settled myself at Lyons, where I afterwards constantly resided, and endeavoured to discharge the duties of my station during a period of more than 30 years. The condition of affairs which I have just been describing, was then in the height of its first stage, and I had abundant illustrations of its progress at once presented to me the traces of one of these were, indeed, visible in my own house.

During my absence in Italy, in 1803, a Mr. C —, a tenant of my own, a gentleman boiling over with Protestantism and loyalty, and desire to show the Castle that he was filled with a proper zeal in the cause, took it into his head that to insult one whom the government had delighted to persecute, would be a suitable mode of advancing his object. He, accordingly, pretended that he had information, as a magistrate, to the effect that some of Emmett’s wounded rebels, and a quantity of arms, were concealed in Lyons House; and thither he proceeded, at the head of a large military force, to make searches.

The house was, at the time, in the hands of workmen, and every room open except the library, which he forced, and (he or his followers) robbed of a quantity of papers, three or four fowling-pieces, some curious ancient armour, and a silver tea-urn, that happened to be too large to fit in the plate presses. Not satisfied with this booty, the heat of Mr. C—‘s enthusiasm led him to desire to taste my wine, and he ordered the cellar to be broken open, which would have been done had not the commanding officer interfered, and declared that he would not be a party to such an outrage, for which it was obvious there could be no excuse. This gentleman (Colonel Coleman, of the Guards, afterwards Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons), upon being pressed to do what was called his duty, absolutely refused, but placed his seal upon the cellar door, which I found there, unbroken, upon my return two years afterwards.

Lord Hardwicke was, at the time, Lord Lieutenant, and to him I proceeded with my complaint, and with a request that he would send some person to be present at the opening of the wine-cellar, in order to test the correctness of Mr. C—‘s information. This his Excellency, in the kindest manner, refused to do, declaring that he would receive no report of the search but from myself. I did not, however, obtain the restitution of my stolen goods, nor any other redress except Lord Hardwick’s fair words. Indeed, in those days, I doubt much if his Excellency would have thought it prudent to have made known his sympathy when it ran in any degree counter to the ebullition of Protestant zeal, and I am quite certain that in the existing state of the tribunals of law, it would have been a wild-goose chase to have attempted to obtain a legal remedy for my wrong.

This affair was but an outbreak of violence against a person known to be friendly to the popular cause, perpetrated by a squireen in pursuit of Castle favour. It was, nevertheless, a type of the justice which was then administered throughout the country by that class, and illustrates the general tone of their feelings towards the government and the people. Before I had been many weeks at home, however, another hint was given to me, from a very different quarter, as to what measure of favour I was to expect from the powers that then were. I had returned to my home full of the idea of devoting the remainder of my life to the quiet discharge of my duty as a country gentleman. I had personally suffered much from being the subject of the suspicions of an unscrupulous ministry, and I was well aware that Ireland was not then in a state to be served by political agitation.

At this day it has been made evident, by the publication of the Castlereagh correspondence, that ministers then knew that no sustainable charge, not even a sustainable suspicion, lay against my character as a good subject and citizen. I had further just given a pledge of my peaceful intentions, by expending a large sum in building additions to my house, and I had eagerly set to work as an agricultural improver.

Under such circumstances, I trust it will not be thought presumptuous in me to have fancied, that neither my personal character and position, nor a due regard to the welfare of the country, required that persecutions, which I was willing to forget, should, after a lapse of five years, be renewed by one of the two persons who had the best possible reasons for knowing they never were justifiable.

Lord Redesdale, who was at this time Lord Chancellor of Ireland, had been Solicitor-General, and afterwards Attorney-General of England at the time of my arrest, and during my imprisonment in the Tower; and that he had neither forgotten any portion of his official enmity towards me, nor was willing to learn anything of my real character, will be evident upon a perusal of the following correspondence. It was preceded by an intimation given to Lord Redesdale’s secretary, by my friend Mr. John Burne (then a King’s counsel, and a most respectable Chancery barrister), to the effect that I would be willing to accept the commission of the peace:-

John Burne, Esq., to Lord Redesdale.


My Lord – Not having received any answer to a note which I sent to Mr. Dwyer, some time since, I take the liberty of troubling your Lordship with a few lines on the same subject. Lord Cloncurry, who has lately returned to Ireland, informs me that in those parts of the counties of Kildare and Dublin in which his estates are situate, there are at present, from various causes, very few resident magistrates. He, therefore, thinks by his becoming a magistrate he could be useful to the country. But though I have reason to know that he entertains a very high respect for your Lordship’s character, yet not having the honour of a personal acquaintance, delicacy has prevented him from addressing your Lordship on the subject; and he has requested that I should apply on his behalf. Permit me to assure your Lordship, that I should not interfere were I not convinced that person is more anxious, and few are more interested, than Lord Cloncurry, to preserve the peace and good order of the country.”

Lord Redesdale to John Burne, Esq.

Ardrinn, January 16,1806.

“Sir – I have felt great difficulty in determining what it was proper for me to do with respect to your letter of the 13th instant, and I have, therefore, delayed returning any answer to it. The application, as well as the communications to me through my secretary, are in a form so different from that in which applications to insert the names of gentlemen in the commissions of the peace are commonly made, that if the person on whose behalf you have applied had been wholly unknown to me, I should have thought the mode of application a sufficient reason for declining to comply with it.

But having long held the office of Solicitor-Gcneral, and afterwards of Attorney-General, in England, where my duty, as a servant of the Crown, compelled me particularly to attend to the conduct of Lord Cloncurry, I feel that I cannot be warranted, upon a mere representation from a gentleman whom (whatever personal respect I may have for him) I cannot consider as entitled, by office or situation, generally to recommend persons to be inserted in the commissions of the peace for the counties of Dublin and Kildare, to insert Lord Cloncurry’s name in those commissions.

I am not informed, even by you, that his Lordship feels, in any degree, differently than he did when his conduct was thought to warrant strong proceedings against him. If no change has taken place in his opinions, I certainly cannot think myself justifled in putting any power into his hands. If he has seen (what appeared to me) his errors, the proper application to me, I conceive, would be immediately from himself, with an avowal of the change in his sentiments; and I should then think it my duty to communicate the application to his Excellency, before I could venture to act upon it.

I trust that you, sir, will feel that I mean every personal respect to you, which my duty to his Majesty would warrant me in observing; and I can assure you that it would be my wish to show every respect to Lord Cloncurry, consistent with the same duty. I have the honour to be, sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


Lord Cloncurry to Lord Redesdale.

Lyons, February 17th, 1806.

“My Lord – Last Wednesday evening I heard, for the first time, of the correspondence between your Lordship and my friend, Mr. Burne, on the subject of the commission which I desired him to take out for me. I never authorised him to write in the manner he did to your Lordship; but supposed it a mere matter of course for a peer to become an acting magistrate when he pleased; and if respect be no longer due to the Irish peerage, my property in the country made it your duty to comply with my desire, unless I had forfeited my rights by ill conduct, which, I believe, you know I never did.

I think it necessary to state to your Lordship, that I have not changed my sentiments, and I hope I never shall: they are, and always were, loyal and patriotic sentiments, full of abhorrence for the men and the measures which, in ’97 and ’98, drove the unfortunate people of this country into rebellion – measures for which the minister was indemnified by parliament, as well as for his treatment of me, the illegality and inhumanity of which are not, I believe, unknown to your Lordship.

I shall say a few words on what you are pleased to call my errors. I was living in London, a student, in 1798, associating with other young men of opposition but not disloyal principles. I was arrested in bed, dragged to Bow-street, and thence to a messenger’s, where I remained three days; after which I was taken before some persons of the cabinet – of whom, perhaps, your Lordship may have been one – and was desired to answer certain questions, provided I could do so without injuring myself. I replied that had I been questioned without the scandal of imprisonment, I might have answered any question, as I could have no fear; but that having been so grossly insulted, I should hold my tongue till I could have legal redress.

I was remanded to confinement; and at the end of a month I was again brought before the same persons, when my Lord Loughborough informed me that I was at liberty, saying he hoped I would be more cautious in future, for that government had information that I had been at a seditious meeting in ’97, and that I had allowed some Irish refugees to frequent my house. I answered, that any Irish refugees who came to my house were received from motives of humanity; but that I had never taken the slightest part in any seditious meeting. His Lordship advised me to refrain from all interference in politics, and showed me a letter of my father’s, promising I should do so. I certainly made no promise; but from that day to this, now eight years, I never, directly or indirectly, by word or act, said or did anything in opposition to the measures of government, whether legal or illegal.

What, then, must have been my feelings when I was again arrested in ’99, as I was informed by Mr. Pitt, for the same reason as before, viz., that I had been present at a seditious meeting in 1797, a year prior to my first arrest. I said that I would submit to any punishment if a single credible witness could prove me guilty of the smallest illegal act or expression. I begged of his Majesty’s ministers to observe, that instead of thinking of politics, I had lived in the country ever since my former arrest, and was on the point of being married. This was of no avail; the entreaties of my father that I should he brought to trial were of no avail: I was sent to the Tower, and confined in the room belonging to the lamplighter of that fortress, from which I was afterwards removed by the humanity of the governor.

Neither pen, ink, nor a common newspaper was allowed me for more than six months; I was denied the use of a servant, or the sight of my friends, for two years; I was confined to one room, where I had not even the pleasure of solitude, being locked up with two warders, and a sentry at the door, whose relief never allowed me more than two hours’ uninterrupted sleep. No interest, no entreaty, could procure a relaxation from treatment never before experienced by any state prisoner.

The consequence of this was, the destruction of my health, the murder of her to whom I was engaged, and, perhaps, the death of my father and grandfather, the former of whom, by a hasty alteration of his will, deprived me of above £50,000. All this because I refused to accuse myself or others of crimes of which I was ignorant, and which I abhorred.

But God is merciful: by his Majesty’s illness in 1801, the habeas corpus came into force; I regained my liberty, and the illegal oppressor sought protection in an indemnity act. I returned to my country: I found my family broken and unhappy on my account, my property injured, and my character tarnished. I could not obtain justice against my cold-blooded oppressors; they were above all human law; but divine justice will surely overtake them.

I went abroad for the re-establishment of my own and my sister’s health; and when I return, after an absence of four years, I find my house plundered by the military, the places containing my title-deeds and valuables broken open and left exposed. I waited on the Lord Lieutenant, who ordered the restoration of my property, and showed that goodness of heart and manner which so much endear him to the people of this country. He expressed a wish that I should reside; I said I should, and endeavour, as far as I could, to second his good intentions. I was sincere; I desire my friend to take out the commission of the peace, but it is refused. And by whom? By the man who, having no property of his own, is paid to protect that of others – the man who should know what is due to the peerage to which he has been raised – and the man who, I believe, knows that there never was a shadow of criminality in my conduct.

I should feel myself debased by thus entering into explanation with your Lordship, did I not believe that your power is near its end. The reign of bigotry and prejudice is over. I shall remain in my country, from which you would have driven me, and I shall cherish those sentiments you would have me renounce. May your Lordship, in retiring from Ireland, leave no bad blood or party spirit behind you; and may you leave no person on whom your conduct has made more impression than it could on me. With the consideration due to the high office your Lordship holds, I remain

Your Lordship’s obedient and very humble servant,


John Burne, Esq., to Lord Redesdale.

“My Lord – I have had the honour of receiving your Lordship’s letter, in answer to one from me. Nothing could be further from my thoughts, or more repugnant to my feelings, than to adopt any mode of recommendation to your Lordship, which could be deemed in the slightest degree disrespectful. For me to recommend persons to commissions of the peace would be a degree of arrogance and presumption of which I am incapable. I merely meant to communicate to your Lordship the wish of Lord Cloncurry as to the magistracy, without supposing, for a moment, that the application could derive the slightest aid from the recommendation of such an obscure individual as I am. It is, however, but justice to myself to say, that whatever Lord Cloncurry’s offences were, I am unacquainted with them; and that I believe him, at present, to be as strongly attached to the constitution and tranquillity of the country as any person in it.”

The foregoing letter to the Chancellor was followed up by an appeal, made without my knowledge, to Lord Hardwicke, by my brother-in-law, the Hon. Colonel Sir Francis Burton; and upon this occasion his Excellency did not restrain himself from taking the course which his own sense of justice and propriety pointed out to him. He immediately ordered Lord Redesdale to insert my name in the commission of the peace; and reverting to the grounds upon which that learned lord had based his insult, his Excellency stated, in the kindest manner, that he was fully aware of the injustice that had been done me by my imprisonment, and that he would gladly do all that lay in his power to make amends, as an earnest of which he offered at once to recommend me for a viscounty. This offer I declined, but with expressions of great gratitude, which I really felt for the personal kindness of Lord Hardwicke, whose Conduct, public and private, so far as I was acquainted with it, was marked by tokens of good feeling that tended very much to cool down any desire of opposition I might have been disposed to feel towards his administration. My conversation with his Excellency was immediately followed by the receipt of the following note, which will be admitted to form a curious counterpart to that addressed to Mr. Burne by the same writer just four weeks previously

Lord Redesdale to Lord Cloncurry.

Ely-place, Dublin, 24th Feb. 1806.

“My Lord – I have desired instructions with respect to the insertion of your Lordship’s name in the commissions of the peace for the counties of Dublin and Kildare, and I have to request that your Lordship would be pleased to apply to Mr. Ponsonby, whom his Majesty has appointed Chancellor of Ireland, and to whom the great seal will be delivered as soon as he shall arrive in this country. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most humble servant,


My pride, however, was now up, and I would not receive any favour at the hands of Lord Redesdale. The copy of my letter rejecting his offer of the commission I have not found among the other papers; but the allusion to it in the following letter leads to the inference that it was not couched in holiday phrase. It was, I recollect, Concocted at a consultation between Curran, George Ponsonby, and myself; but when written it was considered to be so strong that it would be better not to send it to the Chancellor, but that I should wait upon him in company with a friend, and read it to him, which I accordingly did. It was not “sent,” as is implied in Mr. Burne’s observation upon it:-

John Burne, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Feb. 27th, 1806.

“My dear Lord – There are some expressions in your letter to the Chancellor which I should have advised to be omitted, had I seen it before you sent it. But I don’t consider it either as too complaining or undignified. An unfounded imputation ought to be repelled with a proper degree of resentment; but a little less asperity of expression would, perhaps, have been better. However, I am not surprised that your feelings should be roused by a recollection of the treatment you have experienced; but I am extremely concerned that you should think yourself obliged to disavow any part of my letters, as containing an admission of guilt on your part. Nothing could have been further from my thoughts, and, surely, nothing could be more inconsistent with the expressions I used: so far from thinking you guilty of any crime, I am persuaded that you drew on yourself the resentment of the worst ministers that ever these countries saw, merely by avowing your just abhorrence of their abominable system of cruelty and oppression; and the only excuse I can suggest for Lord Redesdale is, that he was the dupe of those ministers; and that being a very weak, though, perhaps, well-meaning politician, he has imbibed prejudices which it is now too late to remove.

I don’t think that you should take any further steps during the present government here; but I think that you should see the Duke of Bedford as soon as you can after his arrival, and state the transaction to him. I am persuaded that the new government will have a pleasure in contrasting their conduct with that of their predecessors. Mr. Grattan, I understand, is favourable to a partial, instead of a total change, in which, I think, he is much mistaken. I scarcely know any man at present in place in this country who is not objectionable, as having obtained his situation either by atrocities in the rebellion, by corruption on the Union, or by a gross dereliction of party and principle.

What, then, can be expected from a government under which such men are suffered to remain in place? If you write to Grattan, you will serve the country essentially by remonstrating with him on this subject. We can expect no useful change of measures without a radical change of men. If any of the old leaven be retained, the country will be disgusted, and the present administration will become as unpopular as the former. Mrs. B. joins in best regards to you and Lady Cloncurry, to whom I request you will remember me in the kindest manner; and believe me, my dear Lord,

Ever truly and sincerely yours,

S. Burne.”

Very shortly after the date of this transaction Lord Hardwicke left Ireland. The ministry of “all the Talents” came in, and with them the Duke of Bedford, from whom personally, and from his government, during the short time it survived, I received every suitable civility and support in the performance of my local duties.

When appointments to the magistracy were dealt with in the spirit evinced by Lord Chancellor Redesdale, it is not difficult to imagine how the magistrates so appointed were likely to exercise their authority, thus confessedly delegated for party uses. Magisterial business was then done privately and solitarily by each justice in his own house, and acting at his own discretion, unchecked by any public opinion. Before the separation which I have described had taken place between the upper and lower classes, the inconveniencies and mischiefs of this system were less felt by the latter, as a sort of rude, clownish justice was administered, or, at all events, protection was afforded by each landlord to his own tenants and dependants against every one except himself; and where the law failed to furnish the means of making such protection effectual, the magistrate not unfrequently appealed to his pistols in defence of his tenant – it might be from unprovoked injury, or it might be from the consequences of sonic trespass of his own against the laws.

But now this was all changed. The landlord no longer headed his tenants, and the tenants no longer followed the landlord in a feud; but the former arrayed himself with his order, while the latter banded with his fellows, each party pitted against the other in the ranks of a sort of servile war. To obtain justice or magisterial intervention was still a sort of favour and compliment, rather than a right that could practically be enforced; but there remained little good feeling or kindliness between those who sought for and those who had the power of granting the favour.

If a peasant or farmer had a complaint to make to a justice, he might parade for hours, sometimes for days, before his worship’s door, before he could gain a hearing; and if his complaint lay against a neighbouring squire or squireen, no summons for the latter could be procured but, perhaps, a sealed note inviting his attendance, to be humbly delivered to him by the complainant with his own hands. A distant day was then probably appointed for a hearing, when the defendant was received with friendly courtesy, while the plaintiff was suffered to resume his parade before the door until it suited the convenience of the justice to call him into the hall. If, then, his case was so clear, or so feebly opposed, as to necessitate a decree in his favour, the law provided another distant day for the settlement of his claim, allowing no compensation for the three or four days’ time which, in all likelihood, he had lost in prosecuting the suit.

The law, thus administered in its primary processes, was executed, when necessary, by a barony constable, whose qualification for the duty was having received the sacrament at the parish church, and whose emoluments of office amounted to £4 a-year. The natural disposition of this functionary was, of course, to earn a shilling, or a glass of whiskey, or even a good word from the party against whom he might be entrusted with a warrant, by noticing him to keep out of his way.

The employment of those “ancient and discreet constables,” with their religious qualification, was but a part of the system of subsidization of the Protestant garrison of Ireland to which I have adverted. It had, however, a specially injurious effect upon society, by the impediments it threw in the way of the administration of justice, and was, most beneficially, put an end to by the establishment of the constabulary force.

For the first introduction of the changes that resulted in the existing development of that system, the country is greatly indebted to Sir Robert Peel, to whom I recollect mentioning an illustration of the character of the old barony constable, when I was pressing upon his attention (which I did, urgently, at the time of his official residence in Ireland) the necessity of a more efficient executive police. A protegé of a neighbouring lady came to me to be sworn in as a barony constable, the place and dignity of which had been obtained for him by her ladyship. He was a sound Protestant: and I, of course, administered to him the proper oath, accompanying the act with an exposition of the important duties of the office. When I came to that of preventing cattle from straying or grazing upon the public roads, the aspirant Dogberry, in much embarrassment, stopped me with the question, “Ah, then, where am I to keep my own little cow, my Lord?”

It was usually like master like man, with justice and constable; and there was little generic difference between the principle of action of either and that of the highest executive authority of the country. The inferior administration of the law seldom received active support from “the Castle,” unless for party reasons; and high authority usually fell into a paralysis when its interference in favour of the oppressed was called for. I will mention a few instances in point, not restricting myself to the particular date at which the wandering course of my narrative has arrived.

I think I had not occasion more than twice, in a long magisterial life, to call for military assistance, and one of these occasions was under the following circumstances. On a farm, about five miles from Lyons, the tenant had a dispute with the landlord, who seized a large crop of hay. The tenant replevined; and during the litigation, the hay remained upon the fields, when the country people thinking it a pity to see so much good fodder spoiled, began very freely to help themselves.

I was informed of the circumstance, and posted notice forbidding the plunder. The priest also admonished them, but they attended to neither justice nor priest; and each night a few cocks of the hay disappeared, in spite of the keepers and constables. A military interference then became necessary; and I accompanied the soldiers myself, at night, to the fields. The rogues resisted, and fired upon us, and were fired upon in return by the military, whereby a man was killed on a hay-cock. He wore white stockings, which made him a good mark; and though thus killed in the commission of a felony, turned out to be the steward and bailiff of a neighbouring clergyman, Dean Keatinge, formerly Chaplain to the Irish House of Commons.

The rest of the party ran away, leaving eight or ten carts and horses, which I seized as theft boot. A coroner’s inquest was held upon the dead man, and a verdict of justifiable homicide returned; and I sent the derelict horses and carts to livery, to be kept for the Crown. His Majesty, however, had but bad caretakers of his windfalls; and before they were sold, a considerable charge for livery was incurred. This Mr. Attorney-General Saurin insisted I should pay; and, after a lengthened correspondence, it was only as the result of a threat that the whole affair should be shown up in the newspapers, that the Lord Lieutenant, Earl Talbot, paid the costs out of his own pocket.

Upon another occasion, during the viceroyalty of my late respected friend, the Marquis Wellesley, a district not far from my house was proclaimed, under the Insurrection Act, although the immediate neighbourhood of Lyons, and the adjoining lands of Bishops-court were peaceable and unproclaimed.

A respectable farmer, a tenant of Lady Ponsonby’s, upon the latter lands, a man named Kenny, who paid £200 a-year rent, happened, one evening, to want silver to pay a number of mowers, and went to procure it to a public-house, which, though but a few hundred yards from his farm, was within the proclaimed district. Two of his labourers came into the public-house while he was there, and he gave them share of what he was drinking. The circumstance of the house being within the proclaimed district, the man forgot, or did not think of; but he was soon reminded of it by a party of constables who were there drinking, and who, the sun having set, made him prisoner. It was in vain that he explained his business, and told who he was: his captors called him a “bloody papist;” and one of them having rubbed a prayer-book to his mouth, Kenny immediately knocked him down.

He was brought before me, and I took upon me to take bail for his attendance at the special sessions, which, under the Insurrection Act was rather a stretch of authority. At the sessions, all the magistrates, except the Duke of Leinster, myself, and (I believe) Mr. Henry, found him guilty under the letter of the Act, and sentenced him, accordingly, to transportation. The particulars of the case were, however, favourably represented by Mr. George Bennett, the presiding barrister, to Lord Wellesley, who pronounced the conduct of the majority of the magistrates to be most erroneous, and remitted the case to them for reconsideration, with a view to a new finding.

They refused to go into the matter again; and his Excellency’s law advisers being unable to show him any way of getting out of the dead lock, poor Kenny was kept in prison for several months. At length, at the urgent solicitation of Lady Ponsonby and Lord Fitzwilliam, the Lord Lieutenant resolved to cut the knot, and liberated the man upon his own authority; but he was discharged from jail only to find himself utterly ruined: his affairs had fallen into confusion, and he himself had contracted habits of dissipation out of which he never rose.

Even for the strength of Lord Wellesley’s will and administrative genius, the power of the system under which the dominant class had been created and separated from the majority of the people, was too strong; and, in further illustration of this fact, I may relate the particulars of another occurrence which fell within my own knowledge:- The city of Dublin, in those days, was governed by its own magistrates, who appointed the municipal police-masters and men being all “good Protestants.” A party of the latter happened to be employed on patrol duty at the fair of Saggard (a village about eight miles from Dublin, but within the city jurisdiction), and riding carelessly through the crowd, were made game of and laughed at. They took no notice of this at the time, but five of them having subsequently retired to a neighbouring public house, their indignation rose with the depth of their potations, and, at the close of the day, they issued out into the fair with their swords drawn, crying out “Five pounds for a Priest – a shilling for a Papist.”

A riot, of course, followed, and the result was that an old man was killed by one of the police. Informations were sworn at Celbridge, before the Duke of Leinster and myself, and we issued our warrant against the five policemen. To render this instrument valid within the city, it was, however, necessary that it should be backed by a city justice, and all those functionaries refused to add their authority to the warrant until the parties were identified, although they had the most accurate means of knowing what men were told off for patrol in Saggard on the day of the murder, and the country people were unable to identify the particular individuals from among a number of men dressed in uniform, and shown to them at a formal parade.

The city magistrates stood by their men like true comrades, and effectually screened them, notwithstanding the interference of Lord Wellesley, who, at the instance of the Duke of Leinster and myself, did all in his power to forward the ends of justice. All his Excellency could accomplish was a private dismissal of the five men from the police force, and one of them, a man named Hamilton, was reinstated within the year. He waited upon me, on his reappointment, to deprecate my further interference, and to promise better conduct for the future.

It is not to be supposed that the affections of a conquered people could be won for their conquerors under a system of jurisprudence such, in its several parts, as I have described. In coincidence with that system, the various departments of administration worked most successfully in furtherance of the policy of discord.

The tithe~proctor, the exciseman, the local rate collector, the parish schoolmaster (when there was one) were chosen from those whom the people looked upon as their enemies, and the selection was made upon the very ground of that enmity – the difference of religion – the fact of the aspirant officials being professors of the English-garrison faith. The natural antipathies of men to tithes, taxes, excise imposts, and, generally, to dogs in office of every kind, were thus swelled into one common and overwhelming hatred against the Englishman arid the Protestant, and these synonymes, with their Irish equivalent Sassenach, came into use as words of power, which every agitator, whether in a good or a bad cause, might employ to call the angry spirit of the mob to his service.

Meanwhile successful corruption was producing its natural effects upon the dominant party. Confident in their own strength, they were wantonly lavishing it, or suffering it to waste away. Thus, the institution of the yeomanry corps was a contrivance, and, for a time, a successful one, for retaining for the English government all those Protestants who could not be provided for as trading justices, barony constables, guagers, parish clerks and schoolmasters, tithe proctors, or city policemen. Clothes, arms, a shilling a-day when on duty, and the consideration attached to connexion with the government, were found to be sufficient inducements to all such to hold on upon their garrison duty, even after real fear of the rebels had ceased to operate upon their minds. Nevertheless, I have known a needy country gentleman draw pay and allowances for a corps of a hundred and fifty men in buckram, of which he was nominally captain, while, in reality, he had not upon his muster-roll more than a dozen yeomen.

All these changes had been initiated during the eight years that had elapsed from the period of my departure from Ireland in 1797, to that of my permanent return to it at the close of 1805. I attempted to do what my small power enabled me towards counter-working them, and some of what I did I will refer to in the ensuing chapter.

Chapter X.

Improvements in the Administration of Justice – Petty Sessions – Origin of the System at Celbridge – A Case of Appeal – The stipendiary Magistracy – Effects of the System; in widening the Breach between the Classes; in stimulating Placehunting – Letter from Lord Chancellor Manners – Memorandum on required Changes in the Law – Letters; from Sir John Newport, from Sir Wm. Gossett, from Mr. Peel, from Lord Campbell, from Attorney-General Ball, from Mr. Drummond – Use of Petty Sessions to solve the Landlord and Tenant Question – The Constabulary – Letter from Mr. O’Connell.

As my reminiscences led me in the last chapter to think over the abuses prevalent in the administration of justice in Ireland, I will shortly advert to some remedial measures, in the introduction of which I had a part. It was many years subsequent to the period of my first undertaking the duties of a country gentleman and magistrate that those measures were brought into operation; but from the very commencement of that period I saw their necessity, and lost no opportunity of urging their adoption upon the government.

None of those abuses were more mischievous than the custom of magistrates acting singly, in their own houses, with all those incidents belonging to that practice to which I have adverted. This custom has now been completely abolished; and the commencement of the system that has replaced it was, I believe, made by myself at Celbridge, a village near Lyons, whither I prevailed upon one or two neighbouring magistrates to resort weekly, for the purpose of hearing and adjudicating upon the complaints of the people.

This bench the present Duke of Leinster joined as soon as he became of age, and continued to co-operate in its labours with much assiduity and patience, very seldom absenting himself from our Monday meetings. This voluntary association of magistrates for the administration of the law coram populo was the foundation of the petty sessions system, which has since been regulated by many acts of parliament, and has been extended universally throughout Ireland.

The originator of the weekly meetings in my own district, I was looked upon as a sort of permanent president of the court; and it was a standing joke with the Duke to address his notes to me as Lord Chief Justice of Celbridge. To myself it is now matter of no small pride and satisfaction, that I can look back upon a period of more than 30 years during which I acted in that office amid many difficulties, yet, I trust without forfeiting the confidence that was reposed in me by my neighbours, without distinction of rank, grade, or party, and without an appeal being made against our decisions, upon more than one or two occasions, although often in the face of the direct opposition of the government of the day.

Of one of these appeals. I recollect the particulars, a detail of which may be interesting as illustrative of the state of feeling that prevailed. It was in the case of the same Mr. C—, whom I have before mentioned as having taken advantage of my absence to make an examination of the contents of my library and wine-cellar. This gentleman was summoned before me at the suit of some mowers who had a dispute with him about wages. He was highly indignant at having received a summons instead of a note politely requesting his appearance, and accordingly refused to attend before me. He was, nevertheless, decreed to pay the amount with costs to the extent of some 20 or 25 shillings; and on his neglecting to pay, I issued a warrant, under authority of which a cow of his was seized and sold, and the balance tendered to him. He declined to take it, and appealed to the quarter sessions. There was a full attendance of Tory magistrates, to see justice done upon a popular brother and Mr. C— had a strong bar to take care of his interests. I acted as my own counsel, and for once the adage went wrong. Mr. C accused me of being actuated by hostility towards him on account of his former display of loyal zeal; but, upon cross-examination, he was obliged to admit that he owed me four years’ rent before I had recourse to a process of ejectment. Ultimately the chairman (the present Mr.Justice Torrens) acknowledged that he should not have received the appeal, as the time for lodging it had been suffered to elapse, and the appellant was defeated, to the great joy of the audience.

Nothing could possibly work more satisfactorily than those petty sessions; but, I think, the committal of the magisterial business of the county so much to the management of stipendiary magistrates, as has since been done, has been a considerable drawback upon their usefulness. It has tended to widen the breach between the classes; and has had even a worse effect in stimulating that passion for placehunting, which is one of the great snares of Irishmen – one of the devices most effectual in fixing upon the active and energetic the yoke of an alien servitude, and in turning them from the paths of honest industry, through which alone lies the way to national and individual independence. The magistracy should have been held sacred from such pollution ; and it has always seemed to me that by publicity, and by freely admitting to the honours of the unpaid bench every person qualified by position and property, or even by obliging such persons to act as magistrates during a certain portion of their life, sufficient impartiality and a due administration of the laws could be insured.

Upon the subject of this amendment of the law and its administration, and upon others of minor importance, the following documents, which have remained among my papers, will throw some light, as well as upon the difficulties that stood in the way of reform, even in matters apparently so little connected with disputed party questions

Lord Chancellor Manners to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, May 13th, 1816.

“My Lord – I beg your Lordship’s pardon for not having sooner acknowledged the receipt of your Lordship’s letter of the 8th inst., complaining of the deficiency of magistrates in your neighbourhood, and recommending several very respectable persons. I do not know whether any of those gentlemen would act in the commission of the peace; but if they would, the regular course has been, and is, for any of them to apply through a governor of the county, or a privy councillor, for the purpose. In stating this to be the usual practice, I do not mean the slightest incivility to your Lordship, for I really believe there is not an objectionable name in your list; but I think it material to adhere to the practice transmitted to me by my predecessors in office. I have the honour to be

Your Lordship’s obedient servant,


Memorandum by Lord Cloncurry on some required Changes in the Law regulating the Jurisdiction of Magistrates.

“Lord Cloncurry having for many years acted as a Justice of the Peace for counties near the city of Dublin, often found great inconveniences from the difficulty of having warrants executed in the city. Many offenders from the country took refuge in the city; and persons living in Dublin, and either holding land, or contracting for works in the vicinity, and leaving their work-people or servants unpaid, set at defiance the warrants of county magistrates, which the city magistrates refused to back.

In civil matters the police magistrates would not act at all; and in criminal they required copies of informations and other documents, which the county magistrates did not think it right or convenient always to give.

To remedy these impediments, Mr. Peel procured an act of parliament (59 Geo. III., cap. 92), giving the necessary power to the warrants of justices of the peace of counties, in cities and towns, and in neighbouring counties.

Notwithstanding this law, the police’ magistrates frequently refused aid to county constables in the execution of warrants, ‘and the county justices are frequently obliged either to leave complaints unredressed, or to send such force of county constables into the city as may tend to create riot or alarm.

The magistrates, in general sessions, on the 16th of January, inst., made a representation to the Chief Secretary on the subject, as also on the following:-

The constabulary are by law forbidden to take any fee or reward other than their pay; and any portion of fines to which they might be entitled as informers, inspectors of roads, public houses, or otherwise, is to go to the credit of the public. The police of Dublin, who act within eight miles of the city, are, by a different regulation, allowed one-half of all fines recovered by their instrumentality. The constabulary and police continually act together in the neighbourhood of Dublin, particularly at Kingstown, Blackrock, Howth, Rathfarnham, &c.; and jealousies arise, the constables complaining that the police have great advantages over them. The county of Dublin constables are altogether worse than those of any other county, partly from this cause, and partly because their inspector, being an alderman, is unacquainted with discipline, and more attentive to the politics than the conduct of the men.

The police should be well paid; but, like the new London police, or the constables, they should have no other revenue but their pay. The police and the constables when they had half fines for road trespass, were often accused of driving cattle from their pastures at night, in order to find them on the road) and levy the fine on them.”

The Right Hon. Sir John Newport, Bart., to Lord Cloncurry.

29th May.

“I am favoured with your Lordship’s very interesting letter, and have to thank you for its valuable contents. I would gladly avail myself of the information which it contains, and endeavour, as far as in my power, to recommend to parliament the application of a remedy, although the nature of the bill which I have introduced would not allow such remedy to be incorporated with it. That bill goes merely to assimilate the law of England and Ireland, in certain cases therein named, particularly as to magistrates resident in a county different from the county for which they wish to act, being enabled so to do (this, by-the-bye, is one of the eases your Lordship mentions); also to allow constables to execute warrants, and sheriffs to convey offenders to gaol through counties to which they do not belong. This is law in England, and I hope will soon be so in Ireland, which it is not at present.

As to the other very interesting points, I have committed the letter (which I hope your Lordship will excuse) to the care of Sir H. Parnell, on account of my immediately approaching departure from London for Ireland. I am very reluctantly compelled to do so. Sir H. P. has in contemplation some further measures on this subject. I have the honour to be

Your Lordship’s most obedient servant,

John Newport.”

Sir William Gossett to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Castle, 24th April, 1834.

“My Lord – With reference to that part of your Lordship’s letter of the 3rd instant, which relates to the recent orders issued to the police, in regard to the extent of their interference in cases of road nuisances, I have the honour to observe that it is very far from the wish of the government to deprive the magistracy of the services of the constabulary in suppressing road nuisances. The difficulty lies in this; the police cannot, as the law stands, summon the parties offending, the only mode by which the police can proceed is, by impounding stray pigs, &c., which it is impracticable to effect consistently with the performance of their more important duties. It is, therefore intended to alter the law upon that point, by empowering the constabulary to summon for road nuisances. 1 have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

Wm. Gosset.

P.S. – Your Lordship’s suggestion in regard to the holding a weekly session at Rathcoole is under consideration.”

Sir William Gossett to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Castle, 10th May, 1834.

“My Lord – Adverting to the latter part of your Lordship’s letter of the 3rd inst., I have the honour to state, that having communicated with the magistrates of the Head Police Office, with respect to your Lordship’s suggestion that a Dublin Justice should attend at Rathcoole, in conjunction with Major Tandy, for, the purpose of forming a weekly sessions there: it appears from the magistrates’ report, that the place pointed out by your Lordship, being on the verge of the police district, the jurisdiction of any of the justices from the office of the division in which it is situated, would not extend to that part of the county of Dublin as to which you seem more particularly solicitous.

It is also observed, that, although a magistrate might occasionally be detached from the second divisional office, without inconvenience to the general routine of business in Dublin, circumstances often occur which would render any such regular attendance as is contemplated by your Lordship quite impossible; and, under no circumstances could the proposed assistance be afforded from the Head Office, the justices of which have, alone, the extended jurisdiction necessary for the object in view. The proposed arrangement would, moreover, create a novel head of expenditure in the accounts of the establishment, namely, the expense attending the conveyance of the magistrate to and from Rathcoole, being a distance of eight Irish miles from the city.

The magistrates having, at the same time, brought under the notice of government, the expediency of establishing a petty sessions at Tallaght, in the neighbourhood of which a sufficient number of country gentlemen would be found disposed to undertake the duty; and which arrangement would be advantageous to a very extensive district, including that part of your Lordship’s property most remote from Lucan sessions; I beg to observe that this point, as well as your Lordship’s wishes regarding the formation of the Rathcoole sessions, will be brought under the consideration of the Lieutenant of the county without delay. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

Wm. Gosset.”

Mr. Peel to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall, April 16, 1822.

“My Lord – I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s letter of the 13th instant, and request you to accept my thanks for the communication.

I readily admit my belief, that the representations which you made to me, when I was Chief Secretary of Ireland, on the subject of its domestic affairs, were neither of a frivolous nature, nor originating in interested motives; and that belief will always induce mc to consider, with attention and impartiality, any suggestions you may offer with a view of improving the condition of the people, or facilitating the just execution of the law. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your obedient servant,

Robert Peel.”

Lord Campbell to Lord Cloncurry.

New-street, July 31, 1842.

“My dear Lord – I beg leave to thank you very warmly for the history of Petty’ Sessions in Ireland, which you have been good enough to send me. I have perused it with great interest, and it shows me a new claim to the gratitude of your country, which she ought not to forget.

I remain yours, most faithfully,


The Right Hon. Nicholas Ball to Lord Cloncurry.

Stephen’s-green, Dublin, December 18.

“My dear Lord – The proclamation about the sabbath observance you will hear no more about; instructions will be forwarded to the constabulary not to act upon it. In reference to any of the matters of complaint to which you called my attention, I may tell you, in one word, that it was owing to a mistake of the meaning of certain directions given for another purpose, that the proclamation was issued.

As to the other matter which you mentioned, namely, the expediency of the constabulary being empowered to act in counties adjoining the one to which they belong, I have spoken to Colonel M’Gregor, and also to Drummond, and they both consider it very desirable that such a regulation should be made; but it is suggested that an act of parliament will be necessary for that purpose. I will look more into the subject.

I am, my dear Lord, yours very truly,

N. Ball.”

Thomas Drummond, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Castle, February 4, 1836.

“My dear Lord – I thank you for your memorandum respecting the police. I believe that what you state is true as respects the Dublin police; but certainly not in the other districts. ‘Tis useless to attempt a change till the bill passes; we shall then have the whole under one management, and all these abuses will disappear in one month.

Pass the bill-all who are interested in preserving peace, and preventing outrage in Ireland. – My dear Lord,

Most faithfully yours,

T. Drummond.

P.S.- I am happy to hear the good account you give of the parliamentary prospects.”

There is one purpose to which petty sessions might be made subservient, that I am desirous of calling attention to, and which I have often urged as a practical solution of the landlord and tenant difficulty, now so much thought and spoken of. I think that as servants were formerly (and, indeed, I believe, still are in Scotland) hired at public trysts and fairs, so contracts for the letting of farms might be made before the magistrates at petty sessions, in open court. If that practice were adopted, I am convinced it would lead to a fairer estimation of the value of land, and a better understanding of the nature of the bargain between owner and occupier, the want of which is the cause of so much misery and so many crimes.

The landlord would be ashamed to ask an unreasonable rent in the presence of his brother landowners and neighbours – the tenant would be ashamed to offer an insufficient or an exorbitant sum (which latter, under the existing system, was often done to the injury of both parties), vulgi circumstante corona. It would also follow, as an incident in the course of a public letting of land, that the condition of farms would be canvassed, and the question of improvements, the responsibility of making them, and the claims to the profit and permanent ownership of them, would be settled.

These matters are now arranged first in the landlord’s private office, and subsequently re-discussed and re-arranged at the nightly meetings of the secret courts of the agrarian conspiracy that has so long vexed the country. Would it not be better that the venue of such processes should be changed to the court-house of the district, and that the proceedings should take place under the light of day? Wherever we shall restore a link in that chain of mutual dependance and friendship that ought to hold the classes together, but that has been rudely broken in Ireland, we may be sure of the goodness of our work.

I have no doubt that the plan I propose would be the means, not only of binding together worthy men of every rank among the dealers in land, but also of breaking asunder those unlawful bonds that have so unfortunately tied up the good and the bad of the occupying class into a combination, formidable to the prosperity of the country and to their own best interests.

Among the measures of administrative reform to the promotion of which I gave my attention, with an earnestness that, no doubt, often made me a troublesome correspondent to the members of the government, a very important one was that for the establishment of an efficient police. Of this I never lost sight; and I have lived to see the old barony constable, such as I have described him, superseded by a force as effective and well-conducted as was ever enrolled for the preservation of the peace of any country.

Even in lawless Ireland, as it is the English fashion to term our country, this force is highly popular, through the character its members have established for a firm, yet humane, performance of their duty ; and it would now scarcely be believed how difficult was the achievement of its establishment. Indeed, a better example of the obstacles that stand in the way of every improvement could scarcely be selected than is to be found in the history of the rise and progress of the Irish constabulary.

In addition to the natural enmity of the ill-disposed and turbulent, this body had to encounter the hostility of all who profited by the existing system, that is to say, generally of the whole class of donors and donees under the old Protestant rule for the appointment of the executors of the law. The additional expense, too, thrown upon land, and the withdrawal from the local magistrates of control over the police, raised up many enemies against the new system, and, in the latter respect, perhaps not without some colour of justice.

Just as I consider it to be impolitic to throw the greater portion of the responsibility of the local administration of justice upon stipendiary magistrates, so do I consider it to have been unwise and unconstitutional to render the constabulary so entirely independent (as they are) of the control of the local magistrates it is a practical deposition of the natural leaders of the country from their place, and a further widening of the breach between the classes. It is certain, also, that the unconstitutional character of the force has been enhanced by the recent change in the mode of their payment, by which the burden is entirely removed from the local, and thrown upon the imperial purse.

It would be better, I think, if these things were otherwise arranged, but still the institution is a good and useful one; and this is a fact so generally acknowledged, that probably, some of my readers may find it hard to comprehend the force of the reliance upon “the horrors of the constabulary bill,” as an engine for agitation, exhibited in the following letter. There were, however, few better judges of the proper elements of a grievance than the writer

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, 6th July, 1822.

“My dear Lord – I thought I could have the pleasure of spending to-morrow with you, but I now find I cannot. I must, very reluctantly, deprive myself of that honour. I do, indeed, want very much to converse with you, and if the following Sunday be dry I will try and find you at home sometime in the forenoon of it. I begin to think that it would be possible to take a position favourable to reform before the next sessions commence, especially if the Duke of Leinster could be brought into action. The country gentlemen are now smarting, and, between loss of rents, and the pressure of tithes, and the horrors of the “constabulary bill,” there are many who would now come forward, that have been hitherto neutral or adverse. It would, at all events, be right to try. – Believe me to be, with the most sincere respect and regard,

My dear Lord,

Your very faithful,

Daniel O’Connell.”


.Chapter XI.


Viceroyalty of the Duke of Richmond – My second Marriage – Domestic Circle and Occupations – Associates – Mr. Kirwan, the Geologist – Mr. Chenevix – Mr. Jephson – Viceroyalty of Lord Whitworth – A new Persecution on the score of my “d—d Politics” – Letters from Lord Whitworth – Memorandum of Mrs. Douglas’s Interview with Lord Chancellor Manners – Letters to and from Lord Manners – Affidavit of Mrs. Douglas – Letters; from Lord Whitworth, from the Earl of Limerick, from the Earl of Donoughmore – Viceroyalty of Earl Talbot – Letter from him – Lord Talbot’s Private Kindness – Public Policy – Meeting at Kilmainham to address the King – Its Conduct and Dispersal – A Characteristic Incident – Letters; from Sir Francis Burdett, from the Duke of Leinster, from Mr. Murphy – Mot of the Duke of Wellington – Visit of George IV. to Ireland – Ebullition of Loyalty – Renewal of Discord – The Lord Mayor’s Dinner – Recall of Lord Talbot – Viceroyalty of the Marquis Wellesley – His intended Policy – His Rupture with “the Castle” – Protestant War declared against him – The Bottle Riot – Stretching of the Law – Letters from Lord Holland – Enlightened Opinions of Lord Wellesley on the leading Irish Questions.

The prospects of a liberal government, held out by the accession of the ministry of “all the Talents,” were soon overcast. In 1807, the Duke of Bedford was succeeded in the viceroyalty by the Duke of Richmond, at whose court I did not present myself, but who, notwithstanding, with that unaffected bonhommie for which he was noted, insisted upon making my acquaintance. I met his Grace at Straffan (the seat of Mr. Henry), and he did me the honour of visiting me at Lyons. During that period, however, I had few relations with the government, and passed my time entirely in the ordinary employments of a magistrate and country gentleman, until my quiet was painfully disturbed by occurrences that ended, in the year 1811, in a dissolution of my hasty and imprudent marriage. Shortly afterwards I formed another, and more fortunate connexion, with Emily Douglas, the widow of the Hon. Joseph Leeson, and mother of Joseph, Earl of Milltown, with whom I lived in uninterrupted happiness and affection for 30 years.

I had then, with my wife’s three children and my own, a large family at Lyons, and, in all that related to my individual concerns, there were few happier or more contented men. I was never idle; the day was never long enough for my various occupations of building, draining, planting, and cultivating my grounds. In the course of them I created a fine place, and employed an army of men, at a cost, indeed, of at least £200,000, but with the advantages of vastly improving my property, and of surrounding myself with a prosperous and happy tenantry, who occasioned me no uneasiness, and put the state to but small cost for soldiers, police, or lawyers. My domestic circle was ever a joyous one, and seldom failed to be enlarged by the addition of four or five friends from among those who sympathised, or bore with my unfashionable national politics. It was always my habit to endeavour to draw around me whatever of talent, or worth, or promise among my fellow-countrymen came within the sphere of my influence, and to perform the duties of hospitality to foreign sojourners. My visitors were, therefore, numerous and various, and at Lyons ennui was felt as little in our evenings in the drawing-room, as in our mornings amid the labours of the fields. Of some of my habitual visitors I have already spoken, and I will now mention one or two others who were frequent and honoured guests.

First on the list I must place Mr. Kirwan, the well-known geologist and natural philosopher, who passed a good deal of time at Lyons, and ultimately purchased a residence in the neighbourhood. He was a man of extreme simplicity of character, but had attained so eminent a scientific reputation, that, even during the hottest period of the war, his letters were suffered to pass free from all parts of Europe. He was very social and entertaining; but in consequence of a convulsive affection of his throat, which rendered it disagreeable to him to eat in presence of others, it was his habit to dine alone, and not to join our party until dinner was over.

Another distinguished friend and neighbour, both of mine and Mr. Kirwan’s, was Mr. Chenevix, the chemist. He and I were not as one in politics; and he had been one of those ultra-loyal Irishmen, of whom I have spoken as having endeavoured to counteract my exertions at Vienna in favour of the United Irish deserters from the Prussian service. Nevertheless, we were not the worse neighbours for that, and he frequently joined our party. Nor can I forget the most brilliant, even of that circle which included Curran, Grattan, and Lattin – the Rev. Robert Jephson. He, truly, was the life of our society, until the splendour of his preaching and conversation so dazzled Primate Stewart, that he removed him from among us to the valuable living of Mullaghbrack, near Armagh. It was his Grace’s hope that those talents would do good service in resisting an inroad of Methodism, which then threatened to lay waste his fold; but poor Jephson, like the soldier described by Horace, no sooner found himself in possession of a zone, than he withdrew from the war.

[Mr. Jephson was nephew to the well-known “Roman-Portrait Jephson,” author of the “Count of Narbonne,” who, like himself, was endowed with an extraordinary brilliancy of wit. He lived at the Blackrock, in a house which still remains, nearly opposite Maretimo, and was, for a considerable period, the salaried poet laureate of the viceregal court. He lost place and pension by an untimely exercise of his wit, when dining one day at my father’s house. The dinner was given to the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Buckingham, who happened to observe, in an unlucky mirror, the reflection of Jephson in the act of mimicking himself. He immediately discharged him from the laureateship.]

Amid such occupations and amusements as these, time, as I have said, passed lightly and pleasantly on.

In 1813, the Duke of Richmond was replaced by Lord Whitworth, with whom I exchanged the usual civilities. The spirit of party, however, prevailed at the court of this viceroy, and it was not long until cause of offence arose between us, and I was made to know that I was not yet forgiven for the sufferings and persecutions that had been inflicted upon me by the ministry whose opinions and policy his Excellency inherited.

My step-son, Lord Milltown, had a brother and sister, who, as their father had died before their grandfather, did not inherit the honours of Earl’s children. My wife was anxious that this accident should be set right in the usual way, by the customary grant from the King of permission to these children to take their rightful place in society, and with a view to obtaining that grant, I applied to Lord Whitworth. His Excellency seemed to think the affair a matter of course, and as he was going to England at the time, he promised to speak to the Home Secretary on the subject; but, upon his arrival at the other side, he wrote to me to say that what I desired could not be effected. Shortly after this, my neighbour, Lord Mayo, spoke to Lord Liverpool who said that there would be no difficulty about obtaining the grant, provided it was recommended in the usual way by the Irish executive, which, he said, had not been done. This being in direct contradiction of Lord Whitworth’s letter, I made no further application; but my friend, Lord Aylmer, a nephew of Lord Whitworth, happening to be at Lyons at the time, volunteered to undertake to settle the matter with his uncle, and accordingly rode over to Powerscourt to procure, as he thought he could easily do, the necessary formal letter to Lord Liverpool. He came back, however, much disappointed, and told me that owing to my “d—d politics” his mission had failed.

The matter now became one of feeling, and Mrs. Douglas, the grandmother of the children, waited on Lord Chancellor Manners, their legal guardian, to urge it upon his notice, when his Lordship assured her that ministers would gladly confer any compliment of the kind upon Lord Milltown, but that under the circumstances it would appear as if done for Lord Cloncurry, who was a Catholic emancipator, and an enemy to the government. I have stated the facts of this transaction shortly and correctly, but as they throw light upon the spirit of sound hatred to political opponents which animated the authorities of that day, I think it right to substantiate my tale by producing the documents upon which it is founded:-

His Excellency Lord Whitworth to Mrs. Douglas.

Phoenix-park, 12th March, 1815.

“Madam – I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 6th instant, upon a subject concerning which Lord Cloncurry did express to me his wishes some time ago.

I was lately under the necessity of informing his Lordship, that my endeavours to give effect to those wishes had not been effectual; it is true there are instances of such distinctions being conferred, but never, I believe, unless under very peculiar circumstances.

I will not fail, however, Madam, on my arrival in England, to renew the subject, and should I be enabled to do so effectually, it willl be a source of gratification to, Madam,

Your most obedient humble servant,


Memorandum made by Mrs. Douglas of her interview with Lord Chancellor Manners.

“Mrs. Douglas waited on Lord Manners, accompanied by the Dowager Countess of Militown; she requested his interference in favour of the minor with the Lord Lieutenant, his Excellency’s approbation being alone necessary to confirm the kind intentions of the government of England.

Lord Manners said-” Madam, I can do nothing in the business; Lord Cloncurry is a Catholic emancipator, an enemy to the Protestant ascendancy, and a most violent opposer of the government.” Mrs. Douglas replied – “My Lord, the favour is not for Lord Cloncurry, but for the minor, Earl of Milltown.” “Lord Milltown is under Lord Cloncurry’s protection, the favour would, therefore, be granted to him, Madam.”

Mrs. Douglas told him she did not think Lord Cloncurry would give five shillings for the accomplishment of it, as it was natural he should be sorry to see the children of his wife above his own. Lord Manners answered, that – “the public were not to know that, they would still imagine the favour was granted to Lord Cloncurry, who was hostile to the government; and if Lady Cloncurry had married to injure her children, she must abide the consequences.” His Lordship made use of some other very strong expressions against Lord Cloncurry, and seemed so offended, she left the room, not having been asked to sit down.”

Lord Cloncurry to Lord Chancellor Manners.

“My Lord – I understand that you have lately taken a liberty with my name, which I think very unwarrantable, and incompatible with that good sense and discretion which ought to accompany your high station.

My young friend, the Earl of Milltown, was anxious to obtain for his brother and sister that rank in society of which they were accidentally deprived by the premature death of their father. In order to promote his wishes, I visited Lord Whitworth shortly after his arrival in Ireland, went to his court, and paid him the respect due to the representative of the Sovereign, thinking that a man who had seen so much of the world would be above the wretched party politics and miserable bigotry which too often distinguish our provincial government. In a conversation I had with his Excellency, I mentioned the wish of Lord Militown, and stated that I did so at his particular desire, as I, myself, would neither ask nor accept of any favour from a government so constituted as was that of Ireland. His Excellency said Lord Milltown’s claim was natural, just, and reasonable, and promised it his support; he afterwards wrote to Mrs. Douglas, Earl Milltown’s grandmother, stating that his endeavours to give effect to Lord Milltown’s wishes had not been successful, in consequence of some impediment in England, but promised to renew his exertions when he went there himself. His Excellency soon after wrote to her from London, stating that his endeavours were still unsuccessful.

In the beginning of this year a friend of Lord Milltown’s having made the necessary applications in England, succeeded in removing all obstacles there, and having the matter, merely pro forma; referred to the Lord Lieutenant for his sanction. I was astonished to hear that his Excellency had determined to oppose what he had previously promised to support, and that his opposition arose from hostility to me. This his Excellency has denied, under his hand, in the most explicit terms; so, also, has Mr. Peel; but your Lordship, in a recent interview with Mrs. Douglas, had the offensive and indiscreet candour to declare that, however favourably you were disposed towards Lord Mflltown, yet, he being under my protection, the request could not be granted, nor would you do anything in the business because I was an emancipator, an enemy to the Protestant ascendancy, and a violent opposer of the government. And in relation to Lady Cloncurry you added, that when a woman marries to injure her children, she must submit to the consequence.

Now, my Lord, I forbear to dwell upon the indelicacy of mixing up political prejudices with the duties of your high station; I forbear to enter into any justification of ray opinions or principles, but permit me to ask your Lordship, where is the justice or equity of making them the ground for counteracting the laudable wishes of a young nobleman, who, as a ward of your court, is peculiarly under your guardianship and protection, and why should you use my name in a manner calculated to excite his prejudices and the prejudices of his family against me, by attributing to me the disappointment of his hopes.

I am never ashamed to avow my political principles, and do not think them the less respectable for differing from those of your Lordship. I am deeply interested in the prosperity and happiness of my native country, and detest that narrow-minded bigotry which destroys both. If you think you are authorised to punish me for this, you should confine that punishment to myself and not visit it on an unoffending person.

Your hostility to me seems to have commenced from the following circumstances:- Soon after your appointment to the seals in Ireland, you removed Mr. Wogan Browne, my neighbour and friend, from the magistracy of two counties, leaving him in that of a third, so that you either insulted him gratuitously, or you knowingly left an improper person in the coin-mission. That he was undeserving such treatment every body who knew him will allow – he was the best magistrate, country gentleman, grand juror, and landlord whose loss we had to deplore for many years. An accomplished scholar, kind-hearted and liberal, he injured a large fortune by a profuse and almost indiscriminating hospitality which we have not since seen in Kildare – “Tros Triviuse fuit nullo ille discrimine habetur.”

His good sense and moderation checked the indignation which such an insult excited in every man of property in the country. The circumstance, however, was alluded to at a county meeting, and I could not help condemning such a proceeding of a stranger, without property in the country, towards such a man as Mr. Browne. To this I attribute your marked hostility to me in every little matter where you have the power to show it; if confined to myself I should treat it with utter indifference, but when brought to bear on others who happen to be connected with me, I feel myself called upon to remonstrate against such injustice.”

Lord Chancellor Manners to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, June 27, 15i7.

“My Lord – Your letter, which I have this instant read, so far as it relates to Lord Milltown, and to anything I have said or done upon that subject, is in the matter of it so utterly unfounded, and in the manner of it so extremely offensive, that I do not feel it incumbent upon me to take any further notice of it than by saying that it is a gross misrepresentation.

As to the removal of the late Mr. Wogan Browne from the magistracy, I never, to the best of my recollection, heard, until I read your Lordship’s letter, that you had expressed any opinion upon it; and I do assure your Lordship, that your style of writing to me makes me perfectly indifferent to any opinion you may form or express upon my conduct on that or any other occasion.

Your humble servant,


Lord Cloncurry to Lord Chancellor Manners.

“My Lord – Having left home for some days before the arrival of your Lordship’s communication of the 27th ult., I had it only in my power to desire that a copy of Mrs. Douglas’s informations should be forwarded to you.

I hope your Lordship will acknowledge that what she affirms may have excused any hastiness in a person so peculiarly circumstanced as I am; and that as I can safely affirm, that I should be most sorry to give offence to your Lordship or any other person, you will feel I owe it to my character, and to the happiness of my domestic circle, to seek a further explanation, or, if possible, a remedy for what Mrs. Douglas has deposed to.”

Affidavit of Mrs. Douglas, Daughter of Sir Paul Crosbie, Bart., and Mother to Lady Cloncfurry. [The history of this family contains an incident lamentably characteristic of the English model of justice in Ireland. The son of Sir Paul Crosbie, and brother of Mrs. Douglas, Sir Edward Crosbie, Baronet, of Nova Scotia, a gentleman of liberal opinions, but altogether innocent of treasonable or other criminal designs or acts, was arrested in Carlow in 1798, tried by a court martial, sentenced to death, and executed by torch light a few hours before the arrival of an order from the Lord Lieutenant for his transmission to Dublin.]

“I waited on the Chancellor, accompanied by Lady Milltown, who, after introducing me to his Lordship, quitted the room. On my mentioning to him that the government in England (and showing some documents I brought with me to prove it) were favourably disposed towards Lord Milltown’s claim for his brother and sister, provided Lord Whitworth approved of it, I therefore waited on him to entreat his influence with his Excellency, he said immediately, “Madam, I can do nothing in the business. Lord Cloncurry is a Catholic emancipator, and an enemy to the Protestant ascendancy, the most violent opposer of the government.” I replied, “My Lord, the favour is not to Lord Cloncurry, but to Lord Milltown.” His answer was, “Lord Milltown is under Lord Cloncurry’s protection; the favour would, therefore, be granted to him.” I said, “I don’t believe Lord Cloncurry would give five shillings to accomplish it; on the contrary, it is natural he would dislike to see those children above his own.” He replied, “The world are not to know that: the favour would still appear as granted to him. The government would be happy to oblige Lord Milltown, but, living under the protection of Lord Cloncurry, it would be obliging him.” I named to him the Thomond family, a collateral succession. He replied, “You forget, madam, they all got it through Mr. Saurin’s interest, who is the strong support of the Protestant ascendancy, whereas Lord Cloncurry is hostile to us.” I then stated the situation I had left Lady Cloncurry in, from illness brought on through anxiety of mind on her hopes being blasted for her children. He said, ” When a woman marries to injure her children’s prospects in life, she must submit to the consequences.

M. E. Douglas.”

Lord Chancellor Manners to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, July 12th, 1817.

“My Lord- Your Lordship’s letter, which I yesterday received, is entitled to an answer from me. I stated, in reply to your former letter (which was couched in terms calculated, and I must suppose intended, to irritate and insult me), that the language imputed to me, in a conversation with Mrs. Douglas, was a gross misrepresentation; and I persist in that assertion, notwithstanding the affidavit made before your Lordship, as a magistrate, by Mrs. Douglas. Your Lordship says that Mrs. Douglas is a most respectable lady. I do not mean to controvert that fact; but I am very sorry she forgot that character, and your Lordship did not remind her of it, when she made the supposed substance of a conversation pressed upon me in my study the subject of an affidavit. If Mrs. Douglas conceived that I had said anything injurious to your feelings or character, she ought to have apprised me of it, and to have given me an opportunity of explaining myself and disabusing her. As to calling you an emancipator and an enemy to the Protestant ascendancy and government, I profess I never knew, and do not at this moment know, and little do I care, what are your sentiments upon that subject – whether you agree with Lord Liverpool or Lord Castlereagh; but I am perfectly sure I never used any such expression; and the rest of this garbled conversation is, I am convinced, equally misrepresented. And now, my Lord, I wish you to understand that I am taking this trouble, not to satisfy your Lordship-for I think you have no claim upon me whatever – nor to prevent your having recourse to any measure you may think proper, but to complain how abominably I am treated by your Lordship and Mrs. Douglas, by supposing me so disqualified for the situation and office I hold in this country, as to be capable, wantonly and unprovoked, of insulting any gentleman.

I am your Lordship’s humble servant,


His Excellency Lord Whitworth to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, 27th June, 1817.

“My Lord – As your Lordship did not intend that the affidavit of Mrs. Douglas should be communicated by me to the Lord Chancellor, I return it to your Lordship. I remain, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s very obedient, humble servant,


The Earl of Limerick to Lord Cloncurry.


Mansfield-street, July 1st, 1817.

My dear Lord – I hasten to answer your Lordship’s letter of the 28th ult., this moment received.

I deeply lament the disappointment your family has experienced in the refusal to grant the desired rank to Miss Leeson.

If your Lordship’s information be well founded, that the refusal given has been caused by any political conduct of yours, it is still more mortifying and distressing. I trust, however, that you have been misinformed upon that subject. It must be well known to government, that for a long series of years your Lordship’s conduct, both as a magistrate and a country gentleman of great influence, has been most exemplary; and that your exertions in preserving the peace of your county have been most active and most successful.

I deeply feel for the kindness you express towards me in the close of your letter. Your kind conduct, on a late unfortunate occasion, can never by me be forgotten. Believe me, my dear Lord, with sincere regard and affection,

Most truly yours,


The Earl of Donoughmore to Lord Cloncurry.

Bulstrode-street, Leaden, 5th July, 1817.

Dear Cloncurry – You will not doubt the interest with which I perused your letter, nor, as I trust, the indignation which your statements excited in my mind. To have an opportunity of giving vent to those feelings in my place in parliament, would have been to me a most gratifying exercise of my privilege as a member of that body. But it was fitting that I should ask myself this obvious question – Cui bono? Not being able to give to this any other but a negative answer, and being fully persuaded that, in this high prerogative time, it is a worse than fruitless task to venture to kick against power, I am bound to give it to you, as my best advice, upon the fullest consideration, not to attempt the fruitless labour of striving to interest parliament in any case of individual oppression, where the party playing the tyrant, or the mis-administrator of justice, happens to be an Orangeman and a member of the faction who have so long held the reins of power in their hands.

Could there have been presented to parliament a more flagrant case of oppression and cruel injustice than that of Mr. O’Hanlon? and yet, taken up as it was, even by Lord Grey himself, see what it has ended in-nothing but a mere statement of unredressed grievances. If, indeed, the oppressor had your feelings or mine, the mere exposure of such conduct on his part would operate as a strong penalty. But under all the circumstances, I am quite sure it would rather be considered as a triumph – the proof of a vigour beyond the law, humbly bowed to by the parliament and the public.

You have thus my candid opinion – given with the shadow of a doubt-and in which my brother, with whom I did not fail to talk the matter over, agrees with me altogether. Believe me to be

Yours always, dear Cloncurry, and very truly,


The Earl of Limerick to Lord Cloncurry.


Mansfield-street, July 8, 1817.

“My dear Lord – I have this day received your Lordship’s very kind note, with the accompanying affidavit, which I now return.

You ask my advice whether you should commence an action on the ground of the statement in the affidavits. I shall frankly answer your question, at the same time assuring you, that I am guided in giving it by the warmest friendship, and the most sincere regard to your interest.

I am decidedly against your commencing any action, as I am persuaded it would answer no good purpose whatsoever. Your character stands too high to need any justification; and a difference of opinion upon an important subject, on which even the ministers are not agreed, cannot surely be considered criminal in any one.

I beg you will present my best respects to Lady Cloncurry, and that you will believe me to be

Your sincerely attached friend,


The late Earl Talbot succeeded Lord Whitworth very shortly after the date of these letters, and the following communication from him concludes the story. The empty compliment was conceded immediately upon his Excellency’s recommendation to that effect:-

His Excellency Earl Talbot to the Earl of Milltown.

Dublin Castle, August 3rd, 1818.

“My Lord – I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s letter and its enclosure, and to inform you that I have this day written to Lord Sidmouth upon the subject of your memorial. I can have no doubt but that your wishes will be speedily carried into effect. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s faithful, humble servant,


To the memory of Lord Talbot I must do the justice of saying, that although he was not able to keep himself free from the trammels of party prejudice, and did not always succeed in extending his sphere of vision beyond the limits set to it by the Castle retainers and hangers-on, still the policy of his government was based upon principles of honest economy and detestation of jobbing, and he was not influenced by those narrow partisan views that regulated the conduct of his predecessor. As his Excellency was a friend and relative of the Duke of Leinster, I frequently met him at Carton, and there, as well as in my other intercourse with him, I had an opportunity of observing that in his case the spirit of party hatred was not suffered to poison the courtesies of private life.

It never occurred to Lord Talbot – all Tory as he was – to execute vengeance for my political sins upon a boy and girl who happened to be my step-children. Nevertheless, the public rule of the government continued the same as before, and of this a remarkable example, quorum pars fui, occurred during the viceroyalty of the noble Earl.

At the close of the year 1820, the high sheriff of the county of Dublin, Sir Richard Steele, called a meeting of his bailiwick for the purpose of addressing George the Fourth, at that moment unpopular on account of the recent prosecution of Queen Caroline. The intention of the originators of the meeting was to compliment his Majesty; but a counter movement was determined upon by the popular party, with the view of bringing under the King’s notice certain wholesome truths which they conceived it to be of importance to the nation that he should be made acquainted with.

The attendance was very numerous, and among the leaders of the opposition were Mr. Curran, Mr. John Burne, and Mr. O’Connell. Considerable trouble had been taken by the high sheriff to fill the court-house with his friends; but the opposition was equally active, and when an address prepared for the occasion was moved, a counter address was proposed by Mr. Burne, expressing “most dutiful, loyal, and affectionate attachment to his Majesty’s person and family, and unaltered fidelity and allegiance to that inestimable constitution which placed his Majesty’s illustrious house on the throne of this realm,” and submitting that such sentiments deserved the greater consideration from his Majesty, inasmuch as they were not diminished by the multiplied distress and aggravated miseries of his faithful people of Ireland since the measure of the Union – “distress and misery, the consummation of which we trace to the misconduct and evil councils of your Majesty’s present ministers, who have endeavouredto deceive your royal mind into a belief, that the honest expression of feelings, excited by sufferings on the one hand, and unconstitutional proceedings on the other, have arisen from disaffection and disloyalty.”

The document concluded with an assurance of “inexpressible satisfaction at the termination of the late proceedings in the House of Lords, sincerely hoping that proceedings so dangerous and unconstitutional never will be revived in any shape.”

The remainder of the proceedings I will tell in the words, somewhat abridged, of a newspaper of the day:-

“The sheriff interrupted Mr. Burne, and said he would hear no more from him, and that he would put the question upon the address, which he held in his hand, and dissolve the meeting.

Mr. Burne insisted upon his right to be heard.

Mr. O’Connell, and several other gentlemen, declared their intention to address the meeting before the question could be put.

The sheriff persevered, and exclaimed in a loud voice, As many as are of opinion that this address do pass, say aye. A few voices exclaimed, “aye, aye,” and they were instantly replied to by one hundred Noes for every Aye. The question, however, was not put by the sheriff in the alternative at all, and he declared the meeting to be dissolved. He then said he hoped that the loyalists would retire accordingly. “The party” withdrew, and demonstrated what a trivial portion they composed of the meeting: with the exception of the bench, which was thinned, the rest of the meeting apparently suffered no diminution.

Mr. O’Connell then addressed the meeting; he declared that the chairman had abdicated the chair, but that he had no right to dissolve the meeting until they had completed the business for which they were convened; for that purpose he should move that Lord Cloncurry do take the chair. The motion was immediately seconded, and put and carried by acclamation.

Lord Cloncurry came forward to take the chair amidst the enthusiastic plaudits of the freeholders.

The sheriff said he would oppose Lord Cloncurry’s taking the chair.

Lord Cloncurry – The freeholders of the county of Dublin have done me the honour to call me to the chair, and I will cheerfully obey their commands. I most solemnly protest against the illegal and unconstitutional conduct of the sheriff this day; he has assumed to himself the control of the meeting at which he was merely ministerial; he has endeavoured to stifle the public voice and public opinion; his conduct is inconsistent with every notion of law or liberty; and I am happy to obey the call which directs me to give all the resistance in my power to proceedings so arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Here the sheriff was understood to threaten to commit Lord Cloncurry if he persisted in keeping the chair.

Mr. O’Connell – Prepare your prison then if it be large enough to contain us all – we will accompany him there. More freeholders will accompany him there, then were found to vote at the last election; nor will they regret the absence of their representatives, though they may have an opportunity of reminding them of that absence.

The sheriff then said that he would call in the military. He called upon Lord Cloncurry immediately to withdraw.

Lord Cloncurry – I will not withdraw; this is the freeholders’ house, built with the freeholders’ money; at their will I have taken the chair; I am a magistrate of this county; no man shall use illegal violence in my presence, unless he has a force superior to the law. In support of the law I am ready to perish in this chair, and nothing shall tear me from it.

The sheriff said the meeting was an illegal meeting, and that he would disperse it.

Mr. O’Connell – The meeting is a perfectly legal meeting; let every freeholder, who values his rights, remain; and if any man is prosecuted for remaining here, let me be that man, for I have, and shall every where avow that I have, advised and counselled you to continue the meeting.

The sheriff withdrew; the most perfect order and decorum sill prevailed. The court-house then exhibited one of the most crowded and respectable meeting we have ever witnessed.

Mr. Burne addressed the chair, and proceeded to discuss the topics which he though ought to be comprised in a loyal address, such as would be creditable to the independent freeholders of the metropolitan county, respectful to the royal person, and serviceable to the stability of the throne. He had not uttered many sentences, when a side-door was thrown in with a violent crash. Soldiers commanded by one officers entered, and were soon seen at every side of the meeting. They commanded the freeholders, in the most peremptory manner, to withdraw. Some violence was offered to individuals, but, certainly, not much, as the privates conducted themselves with good temper, and the freeholders dispersed.

Lord Cloncurry kept his seat; Mr. Curran placed himself by his side; two soldiers, with bayonets in their hands, ascended the bench close to Mr. Curran, who, good-humouredly, but firmly, put the weapons aside. The officers, standing on the table, order Lord Cloncurry to withdraw.

Lord Cloncurry replied that he was a magistrate, presiding over a legal meeting of the King’s subjects; that he would remain until the proceedings were regularly brought to a close, unless he was removed by actual force.

The officer said he must use force, and he drew, or was in the act of drawing his sword, and force was actually applied to Lord Cloncurry’s person before he left the bench.

The freeholders being thus dispersed by actual violence, assembled in immense numbers at the opposite public-house. A chair was procured for lord Cloncurry in the passage. Mr. Burne moved the address, which was read and seconded by Mr. O’Connell. The question was then put upon itt, by Lord Cloncurry, when it was adopted amidst the acclamations of the freeholders that filled and surrounded the house.

Mr. O’Connell then moved that a committee should be appointed to lay before the Lord Lieutenant the outrageous and illegal conduct of the sheriff on that day. He prefaced the motion in a short and animated speech, in which he congratulated the freeholders upon their triumph, which the very violence of their opponents was the strongest proof of their having obtained. He said that he felt happy in the hope that all would sympathise with the inhabitants of this trampled land. The people of England would now see that the Irish, however attached to liberty, could attend a meeting convened by a sheriff only at the peril of their lives.

Let the people of England learn from the events of this day the fate that is reserved for them, if they do not, while there is yet time, one and all resist the machinations of a ministry, of which the leading personage is the very man who extinguished the liberties of his native land, and laid her prostrate under the hoof of every illegal violence. Mr. O’Connell’s motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

It was then moved that Counsellor Burne, King’s counsel, should take the chair, and the thanks of the meeting were voted, amidst the most enthusiastic cheering, to Lord Cloncurry, for his resolute, manly, constitutional conduct that day, and for the uniform and undeviating patriotism of his whole life. The meeting then broke up.

As Lord Cloncurry was departing, there was an universal cry to chair him into town, and he was surrounded for that purpose by a large group of gentlemen near the gate of the Old Man’s Hospital, but his Lordship succeeded in preventing them from carrying their intention into execution, by addressing them in a short speech.

He entreated them to forbear. They owed him no compliment, or, if they did, their thanks amply repaid him. The approbation they had uniformly bestowed upon his conduct was, to his mind, a reward superior to any monarchs could bestow. He would always live in Ireland. He was early attached to the principles of liberty, the foundation of the British constitution. The miseries of his native land only rendered those principles more dear to him, and the events of that day served but the more to convince him of the value of law and liberty, by showing how abject was the state of man when deprived of those blessings; a chairing, however innocent, might be construed into a riot, and that construction might be written in blood.

“Let us,” said his Lordship, “by our orderly conduct, furnish the strongest contrast to our opponents, and not tarnish the victory we have gained this day, by affording them the slightest pretence for censure. Let us, my friends, depart in peace, and not give a handle to your enemies for any additional act of violence.” The people then gave his Lordship three cheers and retired, exclaiming ” your advice shall ever be considered by us as a command.”

A characteristic incident occurred at the second meeting, which will not occupy much time in the telling. In the confusion of the expulsion from the court-house, Mr. Burne mislaid his counter-address, and when he was searching his pockets for it, after he had finished his speech, Mr. O’Connell, who was standing near, said, “Here it is,” and put a paper into his hand, which was moved and adopted, as described above, and duly forwarded to the King. It was, however, a composition of Mr. O’Connell’s own, very much stronger than Mr. Burne’s dutiful and loyal effusion.

The outrage committed by the high sheriff made a good deal of noise at the time. Resolutions were passed at public meetings, condemnatory of that functionary’s conduct, and formal complaint was made to Lord Talbot upon the subject. His Excellency, however, would do nothing in the premises, and gravely advised me to bring an action against the sheriff, a recommendation which I declined following, on proverbially obvious grounds. The following letters, referring to the matter, have remained among my papers:-

Sir Francis Burdett to Lord Cloncurry.

Bath, January 10,1821.

“Dear Lord Cloncurry – How often have I taken up the pen to write to you! but I am a sad, idle penman. Seeing, however, what has lately taken place at Kilmainham, I cannot defer expressing to you how much we are all beholden to you for your conduct, which also holds out a hope that poor cast-down Ireland may still aid the cause of liberty by her exertions, and not think it concerns only Englishmen; but call to mind that her enemies are ours, that those who have inflicted her injuries, have done the same for us, and that she should not confound English domination with the English nation; in short, that there is every reason for union – none for enmity – between the people of the two countries. Wholesome doctrines these, which, I fear, Ireland has great need of having preached; and I don’t know any one so able, on all accounts, to do it as yourself.

So much for public matters It remains for me to make inquiries after your most amiable lady; and, as this is the season of wishes, to request of you to make mine for her happiness, and yours, and family’s, acceptable; and be assured no one more sincerely sends, both all the compliments of the season, and many happy returns of them, than

Yours, very sincerely,

F. Burdett.”

The Duke of Leinster to Lord Cloncurry.

Harrington House, January 12, 1821.

“Dear Lord Cloncurry – I am not so much surprised, knowing the system of government in Ireland, at Lord Talbot’s refusing to attend to the application of the freeholders. I recommend you to advise them to petition both Houses, stating the fact rather under, and very mildly; also, that the government have refused to inquire into it; and praying that they will do so. My brother, I am certain, will present the one, and I will the other, as it is shameful conduct. Let them be moderate, as the conduct of the freeholders has been admirable, and you have justice at your side.

I went, yesterday, with Leicester Stanhope (who, by-the-bye, is a fine fellow, and great liberale) to the Common Council of London, and was much pleased at the independent spirit that prevailed throughout. They all declared their attachment to the King; but deprecated the idea of disloyalty, on account of differing with his ministers. I think I shall be able to stir up some friends in the Houses of Lords and Commons, to assist the freeholders of Dublin. I am sorry T— has lost himself. The Duchess and boy are as well as possible. Most kind remembrances to Lady C.

Yours, sincerely,


The names attached to the two foregoing letters tell their own tale. The following is from my venerable friend, whom it would be superfluous, In Ireland, to describe in any other terms than by his simple appellation of “Billy Murphy,” but whom I may characterise as one of the most sensible, honest, and independent, and, in his private affairs, I am happy to be able to add, successful Irishmen I have known during my long life:-

William Murphy, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, January 9, 1821.

“My Lord – I had the honour of receiving your Lordship’s letters of the 4th and 8th instant-the former stating a report made to Mr. Bagot of my having advised Colonel Talbot, through Mr. James Bagot, not to attend the Kilmainham meeting. I never gave it as an opinion that Mr. Talbot should not attend that meeting; on the contrary, I thought the people’s representative of the county should have attended a meeting of freeholders called by the sheriff, and there give his opinion on any subject that might be introduced. But as Mr. Talbot did not attend the county meeting, I doubt that he should attend a meeting, on Thursday next, at the Corn Exchange; for there it will not be a meeting of freeholders of the county, but of idle and curious persons, who are ever ready to attend public meetings. In my opinion, the committee appointed by the county freeholders should, without any aggregate or public meeting, prepare petitions for Parliament, complaining of the illegal conduct of the sheriff, Sir Richard Steele; put the petitions into the hands of Lord Grey and Mr. Plunket, or any other members that your Lordship might prefer and think more likely to succeed in procuring parliamentary redress for the outrage committed on your Lordship, and on the independent freeholders of the county. this, in my humble opinion, should be looked for in the way most likely to obtain redress. But if reform and radicalism is to be trumpeted forth from next Thursday’s meeting of county freeholders, as it is intended to be called, the victory must thereby be given over to the sheriff, who, I otherwise hope, should be punished by parliament for the outrage he has committed, by calling in the military to disperse a meeting convened by himself. If the petitioners confine themselves to the mere matter of fact, and which a county and a city member must prove, if called on, I should hope Sir Richard is now in a trap, on any side of which I would not be disposed to make the smallest opening, lest he should escape. We should not lose our game, if possible; and, if lost to us, make the Parliament prove, by refusing redress to the County of Dublin freeholders, that no justice is to be had, or can be expected from them, until reformed.

If the county freeholders are now to be refused, they may afterwards look for reform – indeed, they must do so. I should not have taken the liberty of troubling your Lordship on this subject, were it not that you requested my opinion. I have the honour to remain, with the highest respect,

Your Lordship’s most faithful and obliged servant,

Wm. Murphy.”

It was apropos to this County of Dublin meeting, that the celebrated mot of the Duke of Wellington was uttered in the House of Lords:- “County meetings,” said his Grace, “are farces.” “On this occasion,” retorted the Duke of Leinster, “it was not the fault of the authorities that the farce did not turn out a tragedy.”

The viceroyalty of Earl Talbot was signalised by the visit of George the Fourth to Ireland, in the year 1821; and in the general peace-making that then took place, I was included. Overtures for a reconciliation were made to me through Lord Bloomfield, and I was invited to the royal table, where I was complimented most graciously by his Majesty. I was also present at all the public entertainments given to the King, with the exception of that of the Corporation of Dublin.

A strange madness seemed at that conjuncture to seize people of all ranks in Ireland. Men and women of all classes and opinions joined in a shout of gladness. There was nothing thought of but processions, and feasting, and loyalty – boiling-over loyalty – and I was carried on by the stream so buoyantly, that I gave a pledge of the sincerity of my own unconditional waiver of all bygones, by inviting his Majesty to honour my house by his presence; an invitation which he declined in the most gracious terms, on the ground of the shortness of his stay, and the determination he had made to refuse all invitations of the kind.

The noise of the shout of welcome had, however, scarcely ceased to sound in men’s ears, when matters fell back into their former state, and, notwithstanding the King’s parting admonition, conveyed in the letter of Lord Sidmouth, the ensuing city feast was made the scene of a new party conflict. The Lord Mayor of the day (Sir John Kingston James) happening to be a fellow-director with me upon the board of the Grand Canal Company, I accepted an invitation to his inauguration dinner, where, notwithstanding the presence of several Roman Catholics, his invited guests, he felt himself constrained by corporate custom, to give the toast of the “Glorious, pious, and immortal memory,” which was the signal for battle. On this occasion I turned down my glass, and remained seated, for reasons which I stated in a letter written at the time in the following terms:-

“Individually I have a respect for the memory of King William the Third. He was a liberal Dutchman, and intended more good to Ireland than any King I ever heard of, except his present Majesty; but as mayors and corporators are not necessarilly historians, they generally give this toast from party motives, and it has long become a kind of password among those who desire, by the insult and exclusion of their more worthy fellow-citizens, to arrogate to themselves those petty honours and emoluments which want of industry or talent render so necessary to them. Bad taste and bad feeling received a mortal wound from the hand of his Majesty; and if for one moment they may raise their heads, public opinion and the march of events must put them down. The King commands, and the times require benevolence and union.”

My friend Lord Talbot de Malahide, who sat near me, also turned down his glass. Earl Talbot drank the toast, and was directly afterwards recalled, and replaced by Lord Wellesley. The dismissal of the noble Earl was so sudden, that he was unable to leave the country with the honours usually paid to a parting Lord Lieutenant. He retired from the Castle to Carton, where I met him, and some days afterwards departed privately, much regretted, as an honest, high-minded gentleman, whose lapse into the mire of party feeling was but an incident of his position as a party minister.

The first appointment of Lord Wellesley, in 1821; to the Lord Lieutenancy, was, professedly, a sort of experiment upon the possibility of governing Ireland without reliance upon the factious support of a party.

“I have come to administer, not to alter the laws,” was the form of expression in which the noble Marquis himself announced this to be the principle upon which he had undertaken the difficult task of presiding impartially between two bitter contending factions; and I sincerely believe that he was anxiously desirous of carrying out the experiment fairly. His words were, at first, assumed to mean that he would lend no countenance to the party then actively working for the great political object of the day – the abolition of the civil disabilities imposed by the penal laws upon professors of the Roman Catholic religion – and, so interpreted, they were consoling to the ultra-Protestants, who were then the managers of “the Castle,” where they were represented by the Attorney-General Saurin, and the Chief and Under Secretaries, Messrs. Goulburn and Gregory.

It was not long, however, before a rupture took place. The habits of dominion acquired by his Excellency during his Eastern life, did not tally with the Viceroy-over-him-system, which the officials I have mentioned were accustomed to carry out; nor could they easily brook the fair administration of the law, when fairness implied any countenance to liberal opinions. Lord Wellesley and Mr. Saurin, therefore, very soon separated, and the retirement of the latter from office at once alarmed and incensed his party. A war then commenced between the Viceroy and the Protestants, in the course of which his Excellency was forced into a sort of leadership of the opposite party, which, though scarcely avoidable by him, was productive of much evil to the country.

In the course of this war, Lord Wellesley was violently attacked in the theatre by Protestant partisans, and the riot was made the occasion for a marshalling of forces upon both sides, that was eagerly seized on by the leaders, and that tended much to embitter, and, perhaps, to prolong the struggle between the parties.

The bottle-riot (as the attack upon Lord Wellesley at the Theatre was called) gave occasion to numerous addresses of condolence and congratulation on his Excellency’s providential escape, as well as to many lampoons and satires upon the alleged unreality of the danger proceeding from those whose sympathies went rather with the rioters than with the object of their attack. It also led to a step of very doubtful propriety being taken by the law officers of the government, to the evil tendency of which nothing but the blindness of party fury could have rendered men of liberal principles insensible. I allude to the filing of an ex-officio information by the Attorney-General, against the rioters, after bills of indictment against them had been ignored by a grand jury. I had fully sympathised with Lord Wellesley in my opinion as to the brutal violence of the attack made upon him, and had expressed my sympathy by carrying up an address on the subject, as one of a deputation from a meeting of the inhabitants ofthe county of Kildare; but, I confess, I felt no disposition to countenance any stretching of the law for the punishment of political offences, even though these were committed by opponents of my own political views. I presume it was the statement of my feelings on this matter that drew out the following interesting letter:-

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

March 7, 1823.

“My dear Lord – Never, I entreat you, apologise for your letters; they are always full of information and interest, and I am always gratified by the marks of confidence which they convey.

Your description of the conduct of the Irish government is but too true; but yet, Lord Wellesley’s worst enemies are our enemies, too; and his discomfiture would furnish a triumph to the most malignant and oppressive faction in your country. My old friend, Stanhope, used to say of the French convention, “When they do right I praise them; when wrong, I say nothing; and that, you know, is candid.” Now, though I am not quite prepared to go the full length of that candour in favour of the Irish government, I think something in the spirit of it should be found in the language and conduct of the friends to a change of system in Ireland, towards Lord Wellesley and his government. The tithe measure, and the abandonment of the Orange Lodges, are great admissions, in principle, and may effect some practical good. I am, however, afraid that the great measure of admitting the body of the people to some share in the management of their own concerns is as far off as ever.

The imprudence and omissions which you so justly animadvert upon, in the late legal proceedings, are, I think, to be ascribed to the professional advisers, rather than to the Viceroy himself. Their experience should have made them the best judges of the public temper, and their learning and practice should have rendered them masters of the constitutional question. It seems, however, to me, that a great part of your reasoning applies to the petty, not the grand jury – to the latter, I apprehend, no challenges are admitted. The fact is, that if the offence was such as called for an ex-officio information, the Attorney-General should have proceeded in that way at first; and nothing, certainly, but an enormity of danger (which has not been made out), could justify so unusual and indecorous a step, as an ex-officio information, after a grand jury had thrown out the bill. Remember me to Robeck. My son, who is in the Fifteenth, is on the point of going to Ireland. I hope you will allow him to pay his respects to you, and bear my thanks for your valuable communications.

Ever truly yours,

Vassal Holland.

You must not grudge us Leinster for a few months.”

I add, as a sort of a contrast to the foregoing, another letter from the same able hand, but of earlier date, showing that Lord Wellesley’s liberal friends were, at the outset, scarcely satisfied with his displays of vigour in the popular cause, a feeling which would, very possibly, have increased, had he been left unstimulated by personal opposition:-

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

Holland House, 27th June, 1822.

“My dear Lord – I am quite ashamed of having so long deferred my acknowledgements for your kind, interesting, and important letter. Your good opinion gives me sincere pleasure. It is quite clear that conduct like yours, if adopted by other Irish noblemen and gentlemen, would do more to tranquillise the country, and promote the happiness of the inhabitants, than a hundred police bills. I have not hitherto read the bill, nor do I intend to read it till it has passed the Commons, and been modified and altered there, as it no doubt will be, very materially. Other and very different measures are no doubt necessary.

We are not a little indignant, and somewhat disappointed too, at the great question of commutation of tithes being evaded, or, at least, postponed; and I am afraid the government on your side of the water is not exempt from the blame which you attach to it. At the same time, idleness may be roused, and vanity may take a good direction; and I cannot but indulge some hopes that there is at least a desire in the quarter you mention, to distinguish himself by some signal alteration of system.

It is, I think, the interest of those who wish well to Ireland, to strengthen, as much as they can, any party in the government which is particularly obnoxious to the ruling, or rather, misruling faction in Ireland, and to do their utmost to encourage them to do their duty.

Ever truly your obliged and obedient,

Vassall Holland.”

Upon the whole, however, Lord Wellesley’s administration was productive of a favourable effect upon the liberal cause in Ireland. Upon many of the questions then in agitation, he entertained enlarged views, and he did much to break down the underworks of the subordinate Castle influence that rendered the largest and most enlightened policy of a viceroy impracticable.

Had his way been prepared by a previous removal of these barriers, he would have settled many moot points, at a time when they might have been settled in a way that would have left behind as little of bitterness as could have been expected to attend upon the crisis of party contests much less than attended upon subsequent more violent, though, perhaps, less complete dealings with them. The Church, the Education, and the Catholic questions, all engaged his attention; and, in reference to all of them, he held enlightened opinions, and projected plans that would, I believe, have been productive of a more permanent quieting than has been attained by the measures of his successors.

To these questions it is my intention again to refer, as I took a considerable part in the discussion of all of them, and was acquainted with most of the details of their progress.

Lord Wellesley had been an old friend of my father’s, and I was, consequently, upon terms of familiar intercourse with him during his viceroyalty. He was fond of passing a day or two with me in the quiet of my villa of Maretimo, and I preserve the pleasantest recollections of the charms of his conversation, drawn, as it was, from a boundless store of political and literary knowledge, and pointed by his long and varied acquaintance with the world. Of his correspondence with me, which was extensive, I regret much that I can find no traces in the confused mass of my papers.

Chapter XII.

Waifs and Strays of Memory – A pregnant Question from Sir Francis Burdett – Mr. Peel’s Opinions on Irish Distress and Government Interference in 1817 – Ditto in 1826 – Ship Canal from Dublin to Galway – Efforts to advance that Project- Letter from Mr. Killally – Ireland, the Natural Centre of Commerce between the Hemispheres – Letters from Secretary Grant – Letter from Sir F. Burdett – His visit to Ireland – Letters from Dr. Drennan – Letter from Earl Fitzwilliam; from Lord Holland – The Ex-Judge Johnson; Authorship of Juverna; his turn for Military Affairs – Letters from him – Letter from Baron Smith – Letter from Dr. Doyle.

While looking over papers relating to the portion of my life alluded to in the last chapter, a number of letters came under my eye which did not naturally fall into any particular place in these recollections, but which, as they possess some features of interest, derived either from the subjects to which they relate, or from the names of the writers, may be worthy of preservation. I will, therefore, here, bundle a few of them together with that view, leaving them to be read or passed by, as the taste of my readers may guide them. From out of this chaos, a stray beam of light may, perhaps, be elicited, and shed upon a question of importance, or upon a character in the right understanding of which the public is interested. I will begin with a note, which, though short, and without a date, includes within it the germ of volumes of matter:-

Sir Francis Burdett to Lord Cloncurry.


Dear Lord Cloncurry-I should like to know what you think would allay Irish agitation.

Yours truly,

F. B.”

The Rt. Hon. (now Sir) Robert Peel to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Castle, September 4th, 1817.

“My Lord – I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s letter of the 20th ult., and cannot but feel obliged to your Lordship for communicating to me your observations upon matters connected with the welfare of this country.

There can be but one opinion upon the extent and severity of the distress which has been suffered for some time past. It has been, generally speaking, submitted to with a degree of forbearance and fortitude very creditable to that numerous body who have been exposed to it. I fear, with your Lordship, that it would be vain to expect any immediate or general remedy of the evil which results from the want of employment for a vast population.

I doubt whether the benefits arising from such an extensive interference on the part of government as that which your Lordship suggests, in respect to the encouragement of public works, would be sufficient to outweigh the evils of it. The public works of this country – the canals, the roads, the county buildings – are on a scale quite commensurate with its wants; and the undertaking and completion of’ them has been, at least I think, as much encouraged by the intervention of the government in making advances of public money, as it was politic to encourage them. If new. works, such as the embankment of rivers, &c., &c., would repay the undertakers of them, they should be, and (as money can be easily had on good security) probably will be undertaken by private speculators. If they will not repay the private speculator, I doubt the policy of encouraging them.

To a certain extent, parliament has acted on the principle to which your Lordship adverts, and applied it to this country as well as England. As you may not, probably, have seen a copy of the Act which passed last session, authorising the advance of public money for the encouragement of public works on adequate security, I have the honour to enclose a copy of it. Commissioners have been appointed, and are now acting under the provisions of this Act, and several applications have been made for advances under it; but many of the applicants, I fear, will find it difficult to give the security required. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your very faithful and obedient servant,

Robert Peel.”

The Rt. Hon. Robert Peel to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall, September 7, 1826.

“My Lord – I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Lord-ship’s letter of the 1st instant.

I regret to learn that you take so gloomy a view of the prospects of Ireland, with regard to the employment and subsistence of the people.

I have recently maintained an extensive correspondence upon those points with well-informed persons in many parts of Ireland. The accounts thus transmitted to me are far from being satisfactory, but they certainly are not so extremely unfavourable as those which appear to have reached your Lordship.

You observe that something is due to Ireland; and that England owes it to justice, as well as to her own interest, to save Ireland from the horrors of pestilence and famine.

This is true: and England has, in my opinion, given abundant proof that she admits it to be true.

If reference be had to the grants of public money which have been made for the execution of useful works, and the consequent encouragement of industry in Ireland; and to the generous zeal with which the people of England lent their voluntary aid to the succour of Ireland, when she was last exposed to pestilence and famine, no man can, with justice, impute either to the parliament or to the people of this country indifference to the sufferings of the Irish poor. They certainly ought not to carry – and I, for one, hope they never will carry – their sympathy so far as to take upon themselves the discharge of those obligations (obligations of justice and moral duty, if not of strict law) to which the landed proprietors of Ireland, resident anti non-resident, are subject. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your obedient servant,

Robert Peel.

P.S. – So far as I can form a judgment of the particular project to which you refer, a ship-canal between Dublin and Galway, I see, at present, ample grounds for doubting its practicability.”

Of the history of the project for a ship-canal alluded to in Mr. Peel’s postscript, I may as well here give a brief sketch, although it is probable that all such projects have received their quietus from the success of railroads: at least they must await some new turn in the rapidly changing art of locomotion. Nevertheless, in the year 1827, matters bore a different aspect; and, holding in view the desirability of devising some plan for laying a foundation for the permanent, profitable employment of the people, I addressed to several Irishmen of influence a letter containing the following passage

“I know nothing so likely to be a great national benefit as the formation of a ship-canal from Galway to Dublin. It would give a new and great stimulus to the trade of England; it would shorten, by one-third, the duration of an American or West Indian voyage; it would put an end to the dangers of the Channel (whether arising from storms or from steam privateers), in conjunction with the projected canals from Portsmouth to London, and from the Bristol to the British Channel; it would make the finest system of internal navigation in the world, if made on a permanent, uniform, and grand scale. Ireland affords peculiar and very remarkable facilities for such an undertaking; though mountainous to the north and to the south, the centre is an extensive plain, nowhere more than 270 feet above tide-water; the soil of easy excavation, the land of small value in its present state, though the very cutting of the canal would drain and improve near half a million of acres, growing food for and giving employment to as many persons, and securing repayment of the capital expended. I have known similar land in Ireland to have advanced from one penny to five pounds, in less than ten years, by the formation of a canal.”

To a requisition calling a public meeting to consider the advantages of the project, a large number of names were immediately signed, including those of dukes, marquises, earls, lords, baronets, and members of parliament, of all parties and opinions.

The meeting, thus sanctioned, was accordingly held, and the advantages of the measure resolved upon, nemine contradicente; but nothing further was accomplished beyond an outlay from my pocket of a few hundred pounds, in procuring a plan and maps, towards the cost of which the only contribution I received was £50 from the Duke of Leinster. The engineer I employed was the late Mr. Killaly, a gentleman who had been very extensively engaged in the construction of works for inland navigation in Ireland. His preliminary letter upon the subject may, perhaps, interest some readers:-

John Killaly, Esq.; to Lord Cloncurry.

Tullamore, 15th September, 1827.

“My Lord – A great press of business, principally connected with the interests of the Grand Canal, prevented me earlier communicating with your Lordship on the subject of your great project for carrying a ship-canal across this kingdom, the magnitude of which would be considered by most people as an insurmountable barrier to even an investigation of its practicability.

I, however, have not been unmindful of your wishes, having looked generally into my papers with the view of ascertaining the probable course, and also the probable expense of this great design. I have done this to prepare your Lordship to speak on the subject; but do not pledge myself, except generally, as to the accuracy of my deductions.

I am of opinion the best line for this great undertaking lies between the two existing canals; and that after it crosses the Liffey, in the neighbourhood of Celbridge, it should proceed by Cloncurry, Kinnegad, Tyrrellspass, Kilbeggan, Clara, Ballycumber, Ferbane, and enter the Shannon a little to the northward of Shannon Harbour; continue in the bed of that river, and of the river Suck, to near Ballinasloe; pass from thence by Aughrim, Athenry, and Oranmore, into the harbour of Galway, near to the town.

The scale I would recommend is as follows:- The canal to be 80 feet wide at the bottom, and 150 at water surface, and to have 20 feet depth of water on the sills of the locks; the locks to be 40 feet wide between the quoins, and 180 feet in length from sill to sill; the rises or falls not to exceed 10 feet.

You are aware there must be two summits on this canal – one between the Bay of Dublin and the Shannon, another between the Shannon and the Bay of Galway. From Dublin Bay to the Shannon there will be 24 ascending, and 14 descending locks; and from the Shannon to the Bay of Galway there will be 12 ascending and 22 descending locks. The following is an estimate of the probable cost of the work, on the scale already mentioned:-

104 Irish miles of excavation and embankment, averaging £70 per perch, or £22,400 per mile £2,329,600

72 Locks, lock-gates, and machinery, sinking foundations, backing, &c., complete, at £13,000 each 936,000

200 Bridges, at £1,800 each 360,000

Aqueducts, tunnels of different kinds, regulators, &c., say 66,000

Purchase of water, also making cupply courses &c. say 600,000

Purchase of lands and houses, quarries, &c. say 200,000


Incidents, superintendence, &c., fifteen per cent. 673,240

Total £5,164,840

I have to observe, in answer to your question, that the locks on the Grand Canal are 15 feet wide and 70 feet long; the canal, in cutting, 20 feet six inches at bottom, and 40 feet at water surface; depth on sills of locks, five feet.

Trusting the foregoing may prove satisfactory, I beg leave to assure your Lordship that I shall feel pleasure in affording gratuitously, the present or any further general information you may require. My charge, when professionally employed, is three guineas per diem and my expenses. I remain, my Lord, with high respect,

Your very obedient servant,

John Killaly.”

The project of a ship-canal between the eastern and western, or south-western coasts of Ireland, never came to maturity; yet the mention of it can scarcely fail of suggesting to a reflective mind a consideration of the persisting soundness of a policy that would make Ireland the commercial centre between the old and new worlds. No man can for a moment doubt that if this island were a barren rock, unincumbered with inhabitants, its southern and western seaboards would certainly have been made the frontier of British commerce. The British merchant would not have incurred treble risks from storm and war, nor a treble rate of insurance upon his ships, had he been able to load and unload them at Galway or Limerick, Berehaven or Cork, in harbours not de-Anglicised by the presence of an Irish population. Nay, the natural course of trading speculation would have led to the same results, had the union between the two kingdoms been complete, and the natural progress of the interests of their inhabitants been undisturbed by national jealousies. It requires but a narrow confidence in the force of human improvement, to foresee that the consummation pointed out by nature will sooner or later be arrived at.

Mr. Secretary Grant (now Lord Glenelg) to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Castle, February 10th, 1819.

“My Lord – I am truly obliged to your Lordship for the letter with which you have favoured me. The evils which you describe demand immediate attention. Whether it may be possible for me to attempt a remedy this session I cannot say, and dare not promise it; but I shall lose no time in giving my best consideration to the subject. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s obedient servant,

Chas. Grant.”

Mr. Secretary Grant to Lord Cloncurry.

London, May 14, 1822.

“My Lord – I beg to thank your Lordship for the gratification of your polite letter and the accompanying tracts.

I regret that the number of magistrates in your Lordship’s neighbourhood is so defective. I presume the Chancellor is about to carry into effect a renewal of the general magistracy of Ireland.

Your Lordship will have observed that the distress of the south and south-west of Ireland have excited the warmest sympathy in this country. We hear of meetings in all parts. Our subscriptions in London amounted this day to £26,000, and they are increasing. I trust that the noble conduct of Great Britain on this occasion will have happy effects on the Irish people. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s obedient, humble servant,

Chas. Grant.”

Sir Francis Burdett to Lord Cloncurry.

(Franked July 30, 1815.]

Ramsbury Manor.

“Dear Lord Cloncurry – I have a heavy sin upon my conscience in not long since sending you a line; but I trust you will impute it to the true reason, the want of time. I assure myself you will not attribute it to any want of recollection of the many happy hours we passed together in dear Ireland. I am at length got into shade and retirement; and the first use I make of it is to call to mind my happy days in Ireland, and to endeavour to again bring myself into the recollection of my friends there, amongst whom, I flatter myself, I may count on you as one.

I hope this will find Lady Cloncurry, Lord Milltown, and all your amiable family, not forgetting our young traveller, well and happy. I never was able to get to Eton, as I resolved day after day, to see him; but you know, in the midst of hurry and bustle, how it happens that one puts off, from day to day, what one ought and always intends to do. He will think this, I fear, a shabby excuse and yet it is quite true; but when he returns I hope you wilt let me know. I had cherished hopes of being able to return to Ireland this summer; but that, owing to the dissolution, was absolutely impossible.

The Duke of Leinster will bring you over a charming and most accomplished and agreeable Duchess. I dined with them at Lord Tavistock’s a few days before his marriage; so Carton will now be completely furnished. I saw, by the paper, Sir C. and Lady Morgan were come to town; but it did not say where they were, or I should send them a line to ask them here. Can you tell me anything about the enclosed. It is said I subscribed by your recommendation. I settled with Ridgeway.

Lady Burdett begs her compliments may be made acceptable to Lady Cloncurry, and to say she has found the cloak most comfortable. As 1 shall now, for a few months, be at leisure, I shall be happy to attend to any commands you may favour me with. As to politics, I will only say-and that is saying all-the cause of reform of parliament makes great progress; I am satisfied it alone can give important relief either to England or Ireland. With kind remembrances to all, believe me, dear Lord Cloncurry,

Yours, very sincerely,

F. Burdett.”

The foregoing letter was written by Sir Francis Burdett, after his visit to Ireland to give evidence upon the trial of Mr. Roger O’Connor. Upon that occasion Sir Francis, following, I believe, the recommendation of some casual fellow-passenger, took up his abode at a fifth or sixth-rate inn, in a back street in Dublin; and must have been a little amazed at the state of civilisation in Ireland, so far as related to the accommodation afforded to strangers in the metropolis. I recollect being a good deal amused at receiving a note from him announcing his arrival and bearing date from the Queen’s Head, Bride-street, from which, of course, I lost no time in dislodging him. He subsequently made a tour through the country on horseback; and, on his departure, brought away with him several articles of dress, made of Irish frieze, as mementos of his visit. The cloak for Lady Burdett, to which he alludes in his letter, was one of these.

The following three letters are from the pen of one of the most consistent, high-minded, and philosophical of the old Irish patriots – Dr. Drennan, president of the Academical Institution of Belfast:-

Dr. Drennan to Lord Cloncurry.

Belfast, January 29, 1819.

“My Lord – I am impelled by a sense of duty to my country, as well as regard to an individual who has already done good service to that country, and promises to do still more, to address your Lordship on the means of enabling Mr. John Lawless to accomplish his purpose of establishing a newspaper in the town of Belfast, to be conducted on the principles of civil and religious liberty – of liberty in religion, co-extensive with the Irish population, and of political liberty, in the advocacy of such a reform as may be practicable in the present condition of society, and by enlarging the basis of election, and shortening the duration of parliament, may satisfy the pressing wants and reasonable wishes of a vast majority of the people, both here and in Great Britain.

Your Lordship well knows that the periodical press has been, and may continue to be, the grand lever of the public mind; but that this lever is counteracted, not merely by the vis inertiae and passive resistance of the mass to be raised, but by the constant, unremitting agency, direct and indirect, of the government, or semi-government, or professedly neutral public prints, to repress the expansion and development of general opinion upon political topics.

If they have failed in this object, and particularly of late, in the North of Ireland (and the polar star of patriotism is there in its natural station), it has been, mainly, through the activity, zeal, and intelligence of Mr. Lawless, who has done much for several years, but particularly of late, in re-animating and fixing the attention of this portion of the public upon their true personal, as well as national interests. The late Protestant meeting in Belfast is a striking proof of his personal and public activity; and the friends of a free press in that town have, even under the pressure of times bearing heavily on us, contributed to the amount of £500, the half of a sum which would enable the editor of a public print to accomplish the undertaking with a security and permanency unlike to many such individual attempts, as appear, like the sparks in burnt paper, and are as quickly extinguished.

I have heard that, in his late visit to Dub]in, Mr. Lawless displayed an alacrity and an ability which may, perhaps, have proved a much better claim to your Lord ship’s patronage and encouragement than any which I and others, in this place, could give. But, if the object and the agent be agreeable, I should presume to suggest that a small sum, subscribed by several persons, would answer the purpose best, by diffusing a wider interest in the publication, without discouraging any individual friendly to the scheme.

If 50 names could be set to a subscription of £20 each, the thing would he done; and it is supposed that, in addition to the sum already advanced in Belfast, a like sum might be collected in Dublin; but, especially, if noblemen or gentlemen of high distinction would give their sanction, in any manner which to them would seem most suitable to the end, which they must desire in common with the middling ranks of life, the renovation of a social intercourse, a good understanding, and a joint exertion for common good among Irishmen of’ all denominations of religion.

Nothing but the motives I have mentioned in the beginning of this letter would have emboldened me to address your Lordship on a subject as to which I must conclude by remarking – that example is everything. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient servant,

W. Drennan.”

Dr. Drennan to Lord Cloncurry.

Belfast, February 8, 1819.

“My Lord – I have received your Lordship’s letter, which I may truly say, both in the letter and the spirit, was such as I expected.

Mr. Lawless coincides with me in opinion, that the draft is not to be presented to Mr. Crook until such time as the sum is made up which is considered as necessary for carrying on the proposed establishment – and your Lordship shall receive due notice of this.

Mr. Lawless is deeply impressed with personal gratitude, as well as public respect, for your Lordship’s kindness upon this occasion; and, with the facility of one receiving favour, flatters himself that your Lordship’s subscription will be seconded by your influence in promoting the sale and diffusion of the intended publication. I have the honour to be, as every Irishman ought to be, your Lordship’s

Obedient friend, and very humble servant.

W. Drennan.

P. S. – Perhaps it might come in the circle of your Lordship’s influence to promote the subscription of which you have set an example.”

Dr. Drennan to Lord Cloncurry.

October 28, 1819.

“I received and transmitted the enclosure.

Nothing appeared to me more apposite than the concise yet comprehensive summary of the sufferings and deserts of Poland, which was published by Lord C. Whether the remedy fitted for the people of England be the radical reform contained in Cartwright’s bill, or such a reform as was proposed by our countryman, Flood, is a question: and still a more doubtful one, whether the former of the plans be suited to the state of society in Ireland; but certain it is, that all other plans are but an approximation to the truth, whereas this one (of Cartwright’s) is truth itself. The difficulties attending it are greatest at first sight: they disappear on closer inspection; and the plan most perfect in theory would, perhaps, turn out most easy and effectual in practice. But still many, in both countries, are hostile to what is called such extremes; and an union of reformers is to be desired on whatever procedure may attain a full, fair, free, and frequent representation of the whole people, of every religious denomination.

In the present state of public affairs, Ireland has, hitherto, kept silent – wisely, as I presume to think, for the past, whatever may be the line she will take in future. There is a dignified, emphatic, and, if I may so express it, an eloquent silence, more intelligent and impressive than a hundred tongues. The apathy of the country is more apparent than real – the river is covered with ice, but the current moves quickly underneath. The sufferings of our fellow-subjects are felt with the most sincere sympathy and cordial commiseration; but it is wise for Ireland to restrain the impetuosity of her national character: and the progress of events is so rapid, that it is highly prudent and becoming in a country which has already suffered so deeply to wait for a fuller development.

If there be a tendency to rebellion in England, let us not hasten to shake hands with insurrection. Let us not squander our breath, far less our blood, to little or no purpose; but, in maintaining a stern silence, contribute to puzzle and confound administration. In this attitude, fixed and firm, we are, in many points of view, the most powerful auxiliaries of reform.

In short, seeing what I have seen in my dear native land, on both sides, I earnestly wish that we may allow England to work out her own political salvation, satisfied that Ireland will follow in her wake, as a necessary consequence, with or without our agency. Ireland has played her part unsuccessfully, and therefore without the plaudit of fame; yet the example has not been lost, to imitate what was worthy of imitation, to avoid her errors, and, above all, her criminal credulity.

To excite, at present, politico-religious animosities by challenging, as it were, counter-meetings and hostile declarations, would serve no purpose but a bad one, for, in the event of a reform taking place in England, the domineering faction here would quickly sink to their natural level, without any commotion; but if the opposite parties be now roused to exasperation, the consequences may be fatal to the peace of the country, whatever be the event. It will partake of the nature of a battle, and the victors may extend mercy to the vanquished, or they may not.

I deprecate a Catholic upper and heavy hand as much as I do a Protestant, and the situation of this country is such, in respect to the fear of not only recrimination, but retaliation, that I wish it to be, as long as possible, a looker-on, a spectator of the drama and not an actor. I say, as possible, for I am sensible the time must arrive for declaration, and then the more general, the more simultaneous, the more concise, yet comprehensive, the more explicit and unequivocal, this exposition of the public opinion, so much the better; and, in my poor opinion, preparatory steps ought to be taken in different parts for the simultaneous promulgation of such a document of reform, adhering to the principle, adopting the plan most conciliatory if adequate to the end, and putting into practice all the peaceable means for attaining it.

Of these means, the exposition of the public voice, so as absolutely to ascertain an unquestionable majority, is one measure in great progress in England, and accelerated by the outrage at Manchester. Whether the non-consumption of those articles of indirect taxation would not be tantamount to what was often successful in our Irish parliament, by forming a short money bill on the part of the people, thus contributing to a defalcation of revenue, which is the most operative agent of a change both of men and measures, may be a subject of consideration to those who wish no measures but those of passive resistance, perhaps the most effectual. But a change of men will not now satisfy – not such a change as, I fear, a powerful set of men in this country contemplate as the grand remedy of all ills, if they can accompany it with the placebo of Catholic emancipation.

No – I hope in their good sense (that human providence) the Catholics of Ireland have a nobler motive for their present silence than the hope, by this means, of stealing into the confidence of the present, or the future administration, and thus securing a pledge (pledge upon pledge) of gaining their selfish suit at the expense of the common cause of reform. If so, they once more connive at the sale of their country; and may they be once more cajoled, cheated, and choused in their base bargain. “O, I do fear thee, Claudio, and I quake, lest thou a servile life should’st entertain, and a broad-bottomed Grenville more respect than a perpetual honour.”

Most strange it is, the excessive shyness of this body, even the democratical portion of it, respecting reform, for many years past, and even now, when the Whigs – the temporising Whigs – are, at York, mingling their shouts with the people, and splitting the vault of heaven. Under that canopy only the genuine people ought to meet – there, alone, millions can meet – in England, peaceably on their part, unless broken (I suspect, not merely by ministerial connivance, but secret authority) In Ireland, whatever now may be the case, such meetings would, probably, have had a similar interruption without exciting such remark.

But let not the procedure at Manchester be considered separately from reform; the matters are indissolubly connected in cause and consequence. Hostility to reform was the cause, reform itself will be the consequence, most unforeseen by the agents. The Whigs, in England, wish to separate the subjects, but they are one; and there are now striking symptoms of a coalition, not like that of North and Fox, but of the Whigs with the people-of landholders, who have been liberty-holders-in sacrificing their monopolisms at the altar of the public good.

Success to the dinner, in a close steaming room, not yet under the ample dome! Large be our loaves, and extended be our liberties! such is my wish for the people. I, as to my insignificant self, have lost all locomotive inclination, and am descending fast, as to my body, through the three kingdoms of nature, verging from animal to vegetable existence, and soon to become of the fossil order.

W. D.”

Earl Fitzwilliam to Lord Cloncurry.

Grosvenor-square, May 23, 1824.

“My Lord – Having just received the enclosed, I cannot better convey to your Lordship its object than by submitting it for your determination. Of the importance of your presence, in my own opinion, and in that of those immediately about me, I am at a loss for words to express: the state of the County of Kildare, and of facts that have occurred within the vicinity of your residence, require development before the Committee. Your Lordship cannot fail to be aware, that there will be found actually in town witnesses who, having seen them in a different point of view from your Lordship, will not fail to represent them to the Committee according to their first conception, and justify a system of proceeding which your Lordship’s activity and character had then the power to control and bar; but no less necessary for that good purpose will the same character and authority be before the Committee. I therefore hope, taking into consideration the importance of the occasion, you will excuse my taking the liberty of troubling you; and though leaving the happiness of domestic life may be the subject of regret, still the good to be done to your country may be an ample recompense for that sacrifice. Lady Fitzwilliam joins with me in offering our best compliments to Lady Cloncurry. I have the honour to be, with much esteem,

Your Lordship’s most obedient servant,

Wentworth Fitzwilliam.”

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

Holland House, 20th May.

“My dear Lord – I think no evidence is likely to do so much good – that is, to be so much to the purpose, and so credible – as yours. I have, therefore, sent your letter to Lord Darnley or Lord Lansdowne, and they will, no doubt, propose to summon you. When you hear I am of the committee, you will say, why not move to summon me yourself? My answer is, that partly from indolence, and more from a disapprobation of the limited nature of the inquiry, and distrust of the effect of those committees, I have been, and shall be so very slack an attender, that I can hardly justify to myself the moving for a witness, when I have listened so little to those summoned by others. As a disclosure of the state of the magistracy and the people of Ireland-of the temper and habits both of the one and the other-the inquiry will be useful; but as the only immediate result of it is the renewal of the Insurrection Act, and as no evidence will ever overcome my repugnance to that bill, I feel it disingenuous in me to take much part in the examination. I hope, however, your testimony will be taken.

Yours ever,

Vassall Holland.”

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

Holland – House, 28th May, 1824.

“My dear Lord-Our friends, who are active in conducting the inquiry into the state of the disturbed districts in Ireland, have been anxious to secure the continuance, or, more strictly speaking, revival of the committee next session, and to reserve for that session not only sonic important points of inquiry, but some of the most fearless witnesses they can call. They think that it is better to postpone the evidence of this latter sort, because, if the strongest facts are brought out too soon, the party most adverse to truth may take the alarm, and check the latitude of inquiry in which they have hitherto indulged us.

For these reasons, with some few unavoidable exceptions, they have hitherto confined themselves to the examinations of such persons as government itself produces or has employed. Every fact in our favour elicited from them has the effect of an admission. For these reasons, I believe, you will not receive a summons from the committee this year, but next session they will, no doubt recollect your disinterested offer of appearing, and claim your promise.

Yours ever,

Vassall Holland.”

No observer of passing events, or reader of newspapers, during the early part of the present century, will require to be told the history of the Ex-Judge Robert Johnson, the author of Colonel Roche Fermoy’s letters on the defence of Ireland, and the subject of prosecution for a seditious libel, under the strange circumstances of his holding, at the time, a seat upon the bench, and of there being absolutely no evidence of his authorship, beyond a sort of general conviction that he was a likely person to do an act of the kind. The article alleged to be libellous was an attack upon Lord Hardwicke, in his capacity of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was published in Cobbett’s Register, under the signature of Juverna, and was, in fact composed by the Judge.

Nevertheless, the manuscript, although sworn by a crown witness to be in Mr. Johnson’s hand-writing, was actually written by his daughter. This circumstance he might have proved; but as he could not do so without compromising his amanuensis, the jury were obliged to return a verdict of guilty. Between the termination of the trial, however, and the time for pronouncing judgment, there was a change of ministry, as a result of which a nolle prosequi was entered, in the year 1806, and Mr. Johnson was allowed to retire from the bench with a pension. The manuscript of the obnoxious article was given up by Mr. Cobbett, in order that he might escape the consequences of a verdict of guilty found against himself for the publication.

The ex-judge had a most unprofessional turn for military affairs, in connexion with which he held some theories that would probably startle modern professors of the art of war. Among them was a notion, which he lost no opportunity of putting forward, that pikes and arrows were much better weapons than muskets and bayonets; and he prided himself greatly upon the invention of a pike, provided with a hollow staff capable of containing arrows, and having a leg to support the weapon, and side-braces to unite it with others, so as to form a chevaux-de-frise. One of the following letters is only a fragment, but both are highly characteristic of the writer:-

Ex- Judge Robert Johnson to Lord Cloncurry.

22d December’.

“My dear Lord – I send a volume of Lord Dillon’s Commentary on Military Establisments, &c, Though the book be on military subjects, yet it contains some civil information as to the state of Ireland, which the papers your Lordship was so good as to read to me recalled to my memory. The part towards which I wish to call your Lordship’s attention will be found at page 154, ch. xi., “On the Defence of Ireland,” and the five tablets referred to (page 171), and placed, as an appendix, to the end of the volume. It seems to me as if the information given by Lord Dillon would form a confirmation and illustration of your Lord-ship’s paper. I inclose, also, a new pamphlet – “War in Greece.”

Though it be anonymous, I can conjecture something of the writer. In the pamphlet it is not difficult to perceive an under-plot. If where the words “Greece,” and “Greeks” occur, the words Ireland and Irish be substituted, a variety of allusions will force themselves into the mind. The mode of defending the Isthmus of Corinth – the Pass at Enniskillen, and many other positions will be found typified. The character of the Greeks, and the changes they have undergone – the consequences of their divisions – tally. He even ventures openly to recommend the pike – and that with a hollow staff-luckily he goes no further. The allusion to Greece (with a sincere desire, at the same time, to serve the cause of Greece) arose from Lord Byron having called the Irish “Western Helots.”

However, the arrow shot by this archer will fall short of the butt, as scarcely any one in Ireland will read such a book. If it were thought prudent to draw it into notice here (of which I very much doubt), it might be done by writing a letter from the ghost of Doctor Duigenan to Sir H— L—, denouncing the book as a traitorous endeavour, by a most nefarious villain, to rouse the unprincipled Irish Papists into a desperate action against our “Glorious Constitution in Church and State,” giving copious extracts from the pamphlet, with proper inuendos, &c. – dating it from the Doctor’s retirement at Orangefield – post town Pandemonium; despatching it per the steam-packet with which Charon (on a principle of infernal economy, from the great plenty of fuel on the Doctor’s side of the shore), has been lately furnished. But I doubt much of the prudence of drawing it into notice here.

Your Lordship’s contrivance of my passage by the boat was capital. I arrived snugly at Monasterevan at nearly half-past five; the darkness, storm, and rain was an excuse for not going further-dining, sleeping, &c., at Cassidy’s. So that I was two days and two nights on my journey from Dublin – eating, drinking, and sleeping every stage at the expense of my friends – this is capital. Ever, my dear Lord, yours,

Robert Johnson.”

Ex-Judge Robert Johnson to Lord Cloncurry.

(The first sheet missing.)

17th September, 1828.

. . . . they have done so, with a perfect knowledge that the dice on the board had been previously loaded by their opponents, who had also secured to their own hands the time, the mode, and the lead in the game. While they provoke violence, both civil and military, they know nothing of an organisation, the very sight of which might cause violence to pause before it raised its hand: they know nothing of an organisation sufficient for their security, and not exposed by any breach of municipal jaw. If (which God forbid!) their ill-judged and too-powerful stimulants should drive their too-susceptible countrymen into a contest, tending to a suicide of their country, do they know anything of the policy by which the defence of that country could be maintained? To any suggestion hinting to them such wants, and the means by which they might be supplied, they would probably reply, as the cotemporaries of Columbus did, when he insisted that he had, in his closet, discovered the means and the application of instruments by which they could traverse in safety the path to an unknown world; they scoffed at Columbus, and said he was a theorist – it was all theory. Columbus spent more years before he could conquer this scoff, than he afterwards did in carrying his theory into a bolder and more successful practice than ever the head of man had before the genius to conceive, or the heart of man had the courage to execute. But I have as little of the passive, as I have of the active courage, or the genius of Columbus. I should fear to expose myself to scoffs. Yet to you, although not to them, I may venture to quote the observation of a man who acted in many scenes of military practice:-

“The observation is a truth, that whoever would acquit himself upon the theatre of war with approbation, must form a proper theory of the part he has to act. Theory is nothing more than the collection of the principles by which men are to act, in order to be fortunate. Without it, all is accidental; all success ought to astonish; no misfortune ought to raise our wonder. By theory we learn discernment of possibilities, and discover the means most efficacious for their execution; we penetrate our enemies’ intentions; we foresee and we prevent his measures; or we determine, when it may be prudent to abandon our designs. How can any one form a plan of operations, if he is unacquainted with the theory of war? This, and this only, can raise him to the height whence his eye can survey the wide field, can trace the paths on which he ought to tread, and point to the position of approach, by which, with the greatest certainty and expedition, he may attain the object of his hopes.”

Again-” Experience teaches us through the means of errors, which we commit ourselves, what theory points out to us, at the expense of others.”

To these authorities I may add, that Frederic of Prussia was of the same opinion; so was Washington and Franklin, and their opinions have been lately and wisely followed up in the institutions of their country. Of the same opinion was Napoleon, whose most triumphant campaign sprung instantly from his school-boy theory – from what the Benedictine monks had taught him at Brienne. Of the same opinion is Jomini and Bulow (the real victor at Waterloo), whose slender little volume would give to the listeners attendant on these orators more useful knowledge as to the real power, and, consequently, as to the safety and the peace of their country, than all their gaping mouths could swallow from those cascades of eloquence, sometimes bright, and sometimes muddy, at the frothy torrents of which they gaze with such untired eyes.

I have now, my dear Lord, troubled you with giving my reasons, and reasons which 1 hope will, in your mind, justify me for not interfering, or, at least, interfering with great caution, both as to opinions, and as to persons to whom they may be communicated. I have, you know, joined one society in Ireland. I did so because it appeared to me to be the only one in the country acting upon principles of common sense. The conduct of the rest, on both sides, seems to spring from insanity, or worse than insanity.

Their desire, judging from their “overt acts,” appears to be, at all events, to embroil the country – bleeding and hot water was the universal remedy of Dr. Sangrado. My means tend to attain our rights, and avoid a contest.

Yours, most truly,

R. J.”

In contrast to the effusions of this warlike disciple of Themis, I may place the letter of another Irish judge, also distinguished beyond the pale of his profession, though he chose his course in the peaceful paths of literature instead of in the rude ways of war.

Baron Sir William Cusack Smith to Lord Cloncurry.

Naas, March 27, 1834.

“My dear Lord – Though my being, or not being, a guest at Lyons could be of very little consequence to your Lordship, yet, allow me to say, it was to me. Accordingly, I waited to the last moment before I gave up the hope, and, in doing so, waited beyond the time for sending my apology, if this, under the circumstances, was necessary. I had got into a crown case, not entered upon at a late hour, but which was unexpectedly protracted.

We came into this county under a threat of very heavy criminal business, indeed; and I the more felt that assistance was due from me to Torrens, because at Cadow he had been unwell, and has always been very ready to assist me. The alarm appears to have been, in some degree, a false one; but not so much so but that, I believe, the little assistance I have been able to give him has not been superfluous.

I was told, though perhaps the fact was not so, that your Lordship was in town on Wednesday; and was thinking it likely I should have seen you, and have an opportunity for personal communication. This also caused me, in modern phrase, to “wait a while.”

Let me again express the gratification which your kind letter to me at Maryborough gave me, and the value which I set on your Lordship’s good opinion and good will; and this on grounds more substantial and independent than any connected merely with your Lordship’s rank.

I am no politician; I not only do not desire to be one, but I desire not to be one. To be one, I think inconsistent with the duties and character of the station which I hold. If there be anything of a political halo for a time about my name (I don’t know whether there is), I have nothing to say to it. It is my atmosphere, not myself, nor am I conscious that my conduct has contributed to exhale it. I wish to be known in no capacities (nor to have any to be known in) but those of private gentleman and of judge; and in those two characters I would be ambitious of your Lordship’s good opinion. I have the honour to be, my dear Lord,

Faithfully, your obliged

W. C. Smith.”

The following is from a no less remarkable man than either of the judges to whom I have just referred. I shall again have occasion to cite from my correspondence with the celebrated J. K. L., but insert this letter here as relating to a special subject, to which I may not again find an opportunity of referring:-

Dr. Doyle, R. C. Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, December 11,1829.

“My Lord – I read this morning, in the Evening Post of yesterday, a letter addressed by your Lordship to the secretary of the Society for the Improvement of Ireland, wherein your Lordship takes occasion to suggest to the heads of the Roman Catholic Church, that “the saints’ days and holydays observed by our people, in greater number than in any other country, are a great loss to the country, and a great cause of one of our besetting evils, drunkenness;” your Lordship adds, “a reform on that subject is in their (the C. bishops) sole power.”

Your Lordship and the Society you address are certainly entitled to take cognizance of whatever impedes or might advance the improvement of Ireland, and the prelate should be very fastidious who would complain of the appeal made by your Lordship on the subject of holydays, or of the manner in which it is made. The object of my writing to your Lordship is solely to let in some additional light upon this matter, which you have only touched incidentally, and, first of all, to inform your Lordship, that “a reform on that subject is not in the sole power” of the heads of the Catholic Church in Ireland; also, that “holydays are not observed in greater number by our people than in any other country.”

The whole number of holydays (not Sundays) could not hitherto, in Ireland, exceed eleven, they were generally only ten, of these ten, two or three have been reduced this year; so that, henceforth, the number of our holydays cannot exceed eight or nine; and of these eight or nine, two (the Circumcision and Epiphany of our Lord) occur within what are called the Christmas holydays, a season of the year when, I believe, the Society itself for the Improvement of Ireland, rests from its labours; so that, in fact, the sum total of our holydays, which interfere in any way with public industry, are reduced to six or seven in each year.

Perhaps your Lordship is of opinion that there should be no holydays, though such days were instituted by the heads of the Synagogue and the heads of the Church, and observed under both covenants through all the time of their existence. It Is difficult, my Lord, and it is often unwise, to get rid suddenly of old institutions, especially when connected with religion; but this, even if wished for, cannot be done. The Established Church, by her rubrick and the laws of the land passed in the time of Edward the Sixth and of Elizabeth, prescribes the observances of several holydays; but that rubrick and these laws have gone into disuse; they are every day violated. This same cannot happen with us: the heads of the Catholic Church in Ireland must observe, and do observe, as far as in their power, the laws or usages respecting holydays, until the same are abrogated or repealed.

I certainly wish, with your Lordship, that the number of holydays was still farther reduced; but I wish it, not because I think such reduction good, but because I see it called for by the evils of the times; as Christ said to the Jews, speaking of the law of divorce, “Moses, on account of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.” Amongst a religious people, and where the laws of the State accord with those of the Church, holydays contribute to the exercise of piety, and of every good work; when these laws clash, or when a spirit of irreligion prevails, the effects are other : and it is therefore that I agree with your Lordship in wishing for a further reduction in the number, though small, of our holydays.

I do not think that drunkenness, our besetting sin – our permanent plague – would be materially lessened by the abolition of all the holydays: for drunkards will drink at all times; and when they do not find a holyday ready made, they, themselves, make one for the purpose. Witness Saint-Monday, which an impious, and besotted, and abominable race of tradesmen add to the Lord’s day, for the purpose of indulging in their horrid excesses. Look, also, to the Presbyterians of the North.

Nor do I think that an obligation of resting from servile works on six days, besides the Sundays throughout the year, can be any loss whatever in a country where the market is always overstocked with labour, and in which a man’s labour is not worth, at an average, more than threepence a-day. Add to this, that in cases of great necessity or public utility, every person is permitted to work upon holydays. The truth is, my Lord, that when idlers were few and labourers many, and when holydays were more numerous than they now are, the peasantry were better fed and better clothed than they are at present; besides which, frequent holydays, or days of prayer for some, and of rest and amusement for all, contributed not a little to produce and to preserve that gay, cheerful, friendly, strong, and athletic race of men which, by-and-bye, will be nowhere to be found in Ireland.

It is not the peasant now who gains by his labour, or loses, I might say, by his rest-it is the employer, or the driver, of the slave. Are our peasants not broken down and withered at 40 or 50 years of age? Are they not everywhere badly fed and overworked? And we, who idle six days, and do not labour one, would, when we have made them vicious and miserable, bind them down, even in their few holydays, like a slave to the oar. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s obedient, humble servant)

J. Doyle.”

Chapter XIII.

The Three Irish Political Questions of the 19th Century – Their real Value – The Catholic Question – Kildare Meeting in 1811 – Wariness of its Promoter – Absence of Professional Agitators from the early Catholic Meetings – Growth of Violence – Its effects upon Protestant Sympathisers – Evidence of the early existence of Good Feeling – Letters; from Mr. O’Connell, from the Marquis of Downshire, from the Earl of Fingall – The Rotunda “Tin-Case” Meeting – Letters from Mr. O’Connell – Indications of the Workings of Professional Agitation – Refusal of Messrs. O’Connell and Sheil to merge their Sectarian Grievances in the common cause of Ireland – Letters; from Mr. O’Connell, from the Earl of Donoughmore – Arrival of Lord Anglesey in Ireland – Policy of the Government in appointing him to the Viceroyalty – Its Effect – My own Connexion with Lord Anglesey – His Recall – Progress of the Catholic Question – Letters Illustrative of the time; from Lord Anglesey from Myself to Mr. O’Connell – Position of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel in 1829 – Triumph over their Fears – Their spiteful Treatment of Mr. O’Connell – Its Evil Effects – Perpetuation of Religious Discord – Effects upon the Country – Letters; from Father L’Estrange, from Lord Holland, from Lord Melbourne.

As soon as Ireland began to awaken from the torpor into which she was thrown by the lamentable events that marked the close of the 18th, and commencement of the 19th centuries, three important political questions began to agitate the public mind, and are, even at this day, but in course of settlement. Every Irish reader will know that I allude to the Catholic, the Church, and the Education questions-the first-named being, in fact, that which included and rendered difficult the arrangement of the other two. To my mind these questions always appeared but as elements of the great subject of the social advancement of the Irish community; and I looked to their solution chiefly as means towards the end of the tranquillisation and enlightenment of the people; necessary steps to the development of physical prosperity, and the attainment of civil and moral freedom. They were, however, necessary steps on the way to that consummation; and, as such, I never failed to take a part in them, when my doing so seemed likely to be of service.

I have already touched upon the miserable story of the creation of dissension among the Irish people, by their English rulers, when the glorious occurrences of 1782 showed to these the necessary results of Irish union. I have sketched out slightly, but I trust intelligibly, the fatal success of the policy which dictated the partial enfranchisement of 1793 and its use in resisting parliamentary reform, and which proceeded, by playing upon the hopes of Catholic helots and the cupidity of Protestant masters, to re-divide the nation into two hostile factions, and to govern both through the agency of their fear and hatred of each other. I have also alluded to the operation of this system upon the two sections of the Irish people; its strengthening effect upon the oppressed-its corruption and enfeeblement of the oppressors. The Catholics having had their bonds loosened sufficiently to enable them to do mischief to their tyrants, every day grew stronger and stronger, until at length they acquired a degree of electoral and agitation power that rendered their support of importance in the struggle of English parties. Then Ireland became the battle-field of those parties; and at the rallying cries of “Catholic Emancipation” and “Protestant Ascendancy,” the Irish people arrayed them-selves under the banners of two rival English factions.

The first Catholic emancipation movement of any importance in which I took a part was a meeting of the Catholic inhabitants of the county of Kildare, held at Naas, in the year 1811. Just then a considerable stir had begun in the Catholic body, and some strong counter steps had been taken by the Government. The determination of the former to establish a representative body for the furtherance of their objects was met by an intimation from the law-officers of the Crown, that they would meet any such attempt by a strict enforcement of the provisions of the Convention Act against any person who should be concerned in a society or committee framed upon the principle of delegation.

The Crown, however, had a prudent foe to contend with. Long experience of the penal power of the law had made the Catholics sage, and every precaution was taken – and with success – to enable them to accomplish their purpose, of agitating for the redress of their grievances, without bringing themselves under the letter of the statute. At the meeting to which I allude, several Protestant gentlemen resolved to attend, in order to give the sanction of their presence, as magistrates, to its legality; and so cautious – I might almost say, pusillanimous – were some of the leaders, that my attendance (I having been a noted object of English persecution) threw the gentleman who was to take the chair into an agony of fear: a circumstance which was communicated to me in a deprecatory manner by my agent, a Roman Catholic gentleman, who was one of the committee for the arrangement of the meeting. Nevertheless, I attended and spoke, as did also Mr. Wogan Browne, Mr. John Joseph Henry, and Mr. Robert La Touche, member for the county.

The resolutions were of the very mildest kind, consisting merely of a declaration “that the interests of the Protestant and the Catholic are connected and inseparable, and that to benefit the latter is to serve both;” and of the assertion of a determination to persevere in a “decorous exercise of the right of petitioning.” The point upon which I thought it necessary to speak was an objection raised by Mr. Henry to Mr. Browne’s use of the word “restoration,” instead of “concession,” of the rights of subjects, to the Roman Catholics, and to a slight allusion made by that gentleman to the conduct of Lord Chancellor Manners, in having arbitrarily dismissed him from the commission of the peace. Without protesting against these lapses of his respected friend, Mr. Henry said, “he thought he could not discharge his duty to his God and his country.”

I need not say that I supported the stronger phrase; and, as I find by the report of my words in a newspaper of the day, I thought it necessary to justify my loyalty in so doing “True loyalty (I said) consists in an endeavour to defend the throne, and to secure the rights of the people. I hope that my heart cannot be exceeded in that spirit of genuine loyalty. But what is now called loyalty is the seeking after places, to satiate avarice – the attaining office to tyrannise over fellow-citizens; that is loyalty, to pillage our neighbours.” The phrase ” restoration of rights” was preferred to that of “concession;” but surely it is impossible not to reflect with interest upon this little cloud, ” scarcely the bigness of a man’s hand,” out of which proceeded the storm that, 18 years after, prostrated the great Captain of the age in abject submission.

They who, in 1811, trembled while they petitioned in faltering accents for a participation in the privileges of the constitution, in 1829 raised their armed hands to knock at the door of the English senate-house, and wrung, from the avowed fears of its occupants, concessions which the minister declared it would cost a civil war to withhold. At the meeting to which I allude there was not present a single professional agitator; but I find the names of 17 of the principal of the nobility and gentry of the county (amongst them those of three Protestant clergymen) included in the vote of thanks to Protestants for their attendance and support. This was but a type of other similar meetings of the day, the proceedings of which are now before me.

Justice was delayed; and when it was at length granted, it was a capitulation to a standing army of demagogues, who, like other old soldiers, regarded their trade less as a means than as an end. As the corps of agitators came to be formed, a different tone began to show itself in the agitation. It became more polemical and less courteous and tolerant. No one can doubt that the change from the argumentum ad misericordiam to the argumentum baculinum, was that which suited best with the nature of the party upon whom it was designed to act. Neither the heart nor the understanding of the Duke of Wellington were such as to render him accessible to the claims of pity, or to the teachings of sound political argument; but he well understood the signs of danger, and had seen enough of civil war to render his dread of its consequences paramount over other considerations. The violence of the demagogues certainly carried the Catholic Relief Bill ; but it drove away from the general cause of Irish independence many sensitive men, and greatly widened the breach between differing religionists. Here again, under the perverse and selfish management of English factions, the Catholic question, for a second time in a half-century, was made the means of splitting Irish interests, and enabling English ministers to bear rule thereby.

Nevertheless, for many years after the period to which I refer, the efforts in furtherance of the Catholic claims continued to be distinguished by strong marks of a desire to conciliate Protestants as well as the more timid professors of the persecuted faith. One of the earliest letters, in the handwriting of Mr. O’Connell (the great organiser of systematic agitation), which I have found among my papers, does, indeed, relate to a celebration of Protestant and Catholic sympathy, and is dated in the year 1819. It was written upon the occasion of a dinner given to Sir Thomas M’Kenny (a Protestant alderman of Dublin), in return for services rendered to the Catholic cause during his mayoralty, just then expired:-

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, 4th Nov., 1819.

“My Lord – I suppose you heard of the adjournment of the meeting at Humphries’ until the 1st of December. A pail of cold water could not have been half so chilly. Peter Burrowes, the mover, is just gone off; I am told to London, on a political mission. I suspect – but may be wrong – wheels within a wheel.

But it will not do. The people insist on an immediate dinner. Instead of retarding the subscription, it will much promote it. In fact if the dinner be not got up properly, it will be got up badly; for there is no restraining public feeling on the subject. I wish I had the favour of 10 minutes’ conversation with you. I see that the Duke of Leinster is in town; let me but be able to procure his assistance and yours, and everything will be as you could wish it. I repeat that the dinner should be one of the stimulants to the subscription, because I know that it would be the most powerful in its effects. The committee for the subscription at Humphries’ are Protestants. The dinner should be given by Catholics and Protestants – (oh, how I hate these distinctions!) – that is, by Irishmen.

We want also a parish meeting in this most loyal parish, to thank and address M’Kenny. I will leave the requisition at your house in town, for your signature, and for any other you can procure. I do entreat of you to step out about the dinner, as the very best source of promulgating generous and patriotic sentiments.

There was a handsome sword bought for General Devereux with the surplus produce of the tickets for his dinner, after paying for the entertainment. I know that it would be taken very kindly if you would have the goodness to present it, when he arrives.

Let me return you my most hearty thanks for your letter to Hunt. Perhaps the thanks you receive from the honest will be almost as flattering as the abuse of the venal and the servile. I have the honour to be

Your very faithful and obedient,

Daniel O’Connell.”

Of the good feeling that then existed among the leading men of both religions, the following letters, written upon the same occasion, the one by a Protestant marquis, who afterwards took a prominent part in opposition to Mr. O’Connell, and the other by a Roman Catholic earl, are fair examples:-

The Marquis of Downshire to Lord Cloncurry.

Hillsborough, 21st October, 1819.

“My Lord – I have had the honour of receiving your Lordship’s letter, on the subject of a compliment which has been proposed to be paid to Alderman M’Kenny, on his going out of the office of Lord Mayor.

Approving as I do of that individual’s conduct in the line he adopted relative to the unhappy religious distinctions which have hitherto so seriously injured this country, I shall with pleasure join the Duke of Leinster and your Lordship in testifying our approbation of the Alderman during his mayoralty. From my residence in this part of Ireland, I have necessarily little to do with Dublin; but upon the principle of encouraging upright and disinterested conduct in public men, I shall always feel happy in contributing my share in instances such as the one to which your Lordship has in such obliging terms called my attention. I shall not be able to attend the dinner you mention the Duke means to be present at; but I shall be ready to subscribe my proportion, upon my being informed what his Grace, your Lordship, and other public-spirited men intend giving.

I am sorry I had not the pleasure of seeing your Lordship in Dublin, and hope to have the pleasure of doing so on some future occasion.

The Farming and Dublin Societies, which your lordship mentions, require strict inquiry. The gross mismanagement of the first has excited the attention of the Lord Lieutenant, and the indignation of the subscribers at Ballinasloe, where I attended. Of the latter Society I know little, except that I have been told the directors have been giving a pension, which, is stated, did not come within the intentions of Parliament. There is, I fear, a tendency in Ireland to misapply public grants; and if Mr. Stevens’ late publication on the charter-schools is correct, the loss to the country, the injury to our religion, and the encouragement of dishonesty has been unparalleled. I have the honour to remain, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,


The Earl of Fingall to Lord Cloncurry.

Killeen Castle, November 13th, 1819.

“My dear Lord – I shall be very happy to have the honour of attending his Grace the Duke of Leinster and your Lordship at the dinner intended to be given to Alderman M’Kenny. In every tribute of respect which can be paid to this gentleman, were I not heartily to join, I should be guilty of a crime which I trust will never with reason be imputed to me – ingratitude; for to him and to those who with him supported, with such effect, the liberal and enlightened policy of allowing their fellow-subjects to participate in the privileges they enjoy themselves, surely the excluded must look with every sentiment of acknowledgment and gratitude.

I had not the honour to receive your Lordship’s letter till yesterday, when Colonel Plunket was so good as to send it to me.

Believe me, my dear Lord, most faithfully yours,


The particular act for which this tribute of gratitude was paid to Alderman M’Kenny, was his convening and presiding at a meeting held in the Rotundo, for the purpose of petitioning in favour of Catholic Emancipation, and which was rendered remarkable by the laconic reply given by the Duke of Wellington to the Duke of Leinster, when the latter forwarded to the minister the petition adopted by the meeting. “I have received,” wrote the noble Duke, “your Grace’s letter, accompanied by a tincase.” It was in those days an act of extraordinary courage in a Lord Mayor of Dublin to countenance a liberal movement; and I recollect the worthy alderman’s courage being put to a severe test upon the occasion. There was a strong opposition offered to the proceedings under the leadership of Mr. Ellis, then a Master in Chancery; and such was the violence of the storm that ensued, as to render the persistence of the Lord Mayor in occupying the chair up to the end of the meeting, highly creditable to his fortitude.

The following letters are characteristic of the writer, and tend to illustrate the view I have put forward as to the course events were then taking:-

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, 14th May, 1820.

“My dear Lord – I am so delighted that you had an opportunity at the dinner of seeing the manner the people cherish you because you are honest. It really is better to be so than to take part with the enemy. But now you see that you owe us a debt in return; and I call on you to pay it on the double.

In the first place, there is the “Irish National Society for Education.” I enclose you a prospectus-first, for your own advice and correction; and then, when you have made it conform to your sentiments, to entreat that you will lay it before his Grace the Duke of Leinster, for his approbation and sanction. I am winding up the Roman Catholic prelates, and making every arrangement to have a public meeting as speedily as possible. We have not an hour to lose, because we should be before Parliament if possible to share the grant. I pray your most speedy attention to this subject. If we can have the Duke as patron, and you as one of the presidents, we shall get on rapidly. I mean to solicit your vote for the office of secretary. But time presses.

The second thing I would submit to you is our “Society for Parliamentary Information.” Let us, if you please, begin it. If you will put your name to it, and get me one half-dozen Protestants, I pledge myself to get you a batch of Papists of the first water. If it were once on foot, it would accumulate rapidly; and when we were strong enough, we would call in the aid of the excellent Duke – the finest fellow that ever bore “the noble name of Fitzgerald.” Let us not postpone making some efforts for Ireland. We may be calumniated; but do we not deserve reproach if we tamely crouch beneath our miseries, and leave this “loveliest land on the face of the earth” a prey to faction, and the victim of unopposed oppression? Reflect on this, and let us make an attempt to combine good and honest men in an exertion for the country. Believe me to be, with the most sincere respect and regard, my dear Lord,

Your very faithful and obedient servant,

Daniel O’Connell.”

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square 16th Nov., 1820.

“My dear Lord – I want a place, and what is more, I want you to help me to get it; but it is a place fit for a Radical, which I am, and ever shall remain.

Will you allow me to ask you, whether you deem it wrong to write for me to the Duke of Leinster, to solicit his influence with the Queen to appoint me her Attorney-General in Ireland? She certainly has a right to such an officer; and I have a right to fill the office, if she condescends to appoint me. There is not one shilling of public money attached to it; nor is it in any sense inconsistent with my principles, which are, and ever shall be, favourable decidedly to a complete – say a radical reform.

I feel I am taking a liberty with you in asking your assistance; but I do hope you know me too well not to believe I would not, for any consideration, ask you to do anything which I was conscious was in any respect inconsistent with your feelings. If I be wrong in my request, pray excuse me, and do not think the worse of me. I know of no event which would afflict me more than to lose any way in your good opinion.

The truth is, that my leading motive in looking for this office is to annoy some of the greatest scoundrels in society, and, of course, the bitterest enemies of Ireland. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient faithful servant,

Daniel O’Connell.”

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, Sunday.

“Her Majesty’s Attorney-General will have the honour of accepting Lord Cloncurry’s kind invitation for to-morrow. If he has delayed his written answer until he could call himself by that name, he has not forgotten for one moment, and never will forget, the respectful and very sincere attachment and regard he bears to his Lordship.”

* * *

“The finest fellow that ever bore the noble name of Fitzgerald,” applied for and procured the shortlived honour desired by my correspondent; but it was not very long afterwards when his Grace was denounced from the same quarter, as a recreant absentee and traitor to his country, for having built a house in London, and that at a time when the petty-sessions books showed that scarcely a single Monday in the year passed without the Duke taking his seat upon the bench at Celbridge, except during his unavoidable absence in the discharge of his parliamentary duties.

The earliest indication I have found among my papers of the effects of the working of the system of professional agitation in creating distrust, is a letter written by myself in November, 1824, and which, after a lucubration of seven years, was made the subject of a series of philippics from the pen of Mr. O’Connell. In this letter, which enclosed a subscription to the Catholic fund, I ventured, though certainly with what now seems to me to have been great caution, to express a “hope that the Catholic rent and Catholic Association will be employed in giving equal liberty and happiness to the Protestant and the Catholic – to the liberal and enlightened Dissenter-and even to the often honest, but ever mistaken Orangeman.”

“Whilst (I continued) I love my Catholic countrymen, I feel that I owe it to them and to myself to preserve that candour which I have made my guide, in all the varied circumstances of my life. If the Catholic Association has no other view than what is called Catholic Emancipation, I acknowledge their right; but I feel comparatively little interest in their success. If on the other hand, they seek anything farther, they should say what that is; they will neither disarm an enemy, secure a friend, nor gain a timid neutral, by a contrary line of conduct. The reformers in England weakened their cause, and distracted their friends by their indefinite pursuits. Short parliaments, extended suffrage, election by ballot – all good, all desirable; but though any of them would annihilate corruption, she gained strength by the disunion of her opponents. My object is, if possible, to prevent future disunion amongst the friends of Ireland. It is for them to demand, temperately, but firmly, the adoption of measures necessary for the relief of Ireland, and the safety of the empire; they will have the support of every wise, and of every good man, of every religions or political opinion, but, above all, they will secure what is alone wanted to Ireland, domestic unanimity. The last wish I ever heard from Grattan was for the repeal of the Union. If all Ireland was polled, I do not believe that, out of the seven millions, one hundred votes would be against the repeal of that finishing act of Ireland’s degradation. In that repeal I place my best, my almost only, hope of her regeneration.

“To the Union is due that Emancipation was not long since carried – that tithes were not modified-that the country has been deprived of the millions which would otherwise have been devoted to her improvement, and that, instead of a wealthy proprietary to employ, protect, and inform the people, we have been left to a needy, speculating magistracy, and to the agents of absentees. To the Union is due the poverty and decay of our beautiful metropolis; and to our consequent poverty and dependent state may be traced the very violence of party feeling, and the anxiety to fill every petty office to the exclusion of others; for in no instance will you find a man of independent means enrolled in the legion of intolerance; but the same desolating cause which deprives the hardy labourer of employment, is felt through every branch of society, and leaves the youth of the upper classes without occupation or pursuit.

“In conclusion, sir, though a constant and ardent friend to Catholic Emancipation, as one great right of my countrymen, I still feel that the emancipation of Ireland depends on the repeal of the Union; that measure would at once give us a reformed parliament, for there could be no idea of restoring the disfranchised and purchased boroughs. The first session of such a parliament would restore life and peace to the capital and the country-would annihilate party feeling – would exchange tithe for a moderate and respectable provision for the clergy of every denomination, according to their services. It would induce Irishmen to remain in their country (so superior to any other); it would bring Englishmen amongst us, and it would secure to the country that wealth which is now daily and hourly drawn from it.”

Seven years later, as I have said, when I again had occasion to withhold my confidence from the professional agitators, it was discovered that these expressions contained matter of grave offence. At the time, however, they were not viewed in this light, although my proposition that a common cause should be made among Irishmen was not assented to by Mr. O’Connell. It was also declined by Mr. Sheil, who happened about the time to be on a visit at Lyons, and to whom I mentioned my views. “They were in principle quite right,” he said, “but the Catholics could not afford to do what was abstractedly right; they were poor beggars, who must take what they could get and endeavour to get what they could.” So the separate Catholic agitation went on, becoming daily more separate. The following letters show plainly enough how the leaven of mischief was working:-

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Darrynane Abbey, near Caherciveen,

4th September, 1828.

“My dear Lord – I know you will excuse me for writing to you anything I think useful to Ireland. If you agree with me you will zealously assist, if not, you will forgive the trouble I give you, out of regard for my motives.

The Orange faction is endeavouring to beard the government – that seems quite plain. Their ostentatious display of their peerage strength in the Brunswick Club, is manifestly made in order to terrify the government of Lord Anglesey, and to encourage the friends of bigotry in England, where there are many, and some in the highest station. It would be, indeed, quite idle to conceal from ourselves that the great enemy of the people of Ireland is his most sacred Majesty!! It is but too obvious that the pimps and parasites who surround the throne have an idea that their power is connected with the continuation of abuses in Ireland. They are miserably mistaken, and they would be much more secure by doing us justice; but it is with the fact we have to do, not with the theory. The fact, then, is most unfavourable, and the Saurins and Lefroys are only struggling to give their friends in the ministry, and men near the throne, a notion that their party in Ireland is strong enough to continue misgovernment with impunity. This is obviously the object of the recent and continued display of Orange aristocracy.

In the meantime, what are our friends doing? Alas, nothing! They, the Orangeists, have their peers coming forward with alacrity, openly, and with ostentation. They have their marquis at their head – more than one marquis. We have scarcely any symptom of sympathy from the higher order of Protestants. There is, indeed, a duke, who you say, and I believe you, means well; but allow me mournfully, but not reproachfully, to ask you, of what value are his intentions? What a glorious opportunity is he not letting slip to serve Ireland and to exalt himself – but above all things, to serve Ireland. I know that there is a declaration being signed in favour of Emancipation – a paltry declaration it is just enough to serve as an excuse for doing nothing. I want to see something done. The Orangeists are doing and so are the Catholic Association; and we are doing so well, that we can afford, after all, to go on without being encumbered with other aid. But, although we can afford it, we should much desire not to let things remain as they are. The assistance of Protestants generates so much good feeling, and such a national community of sentiment, that I deem it more valuable than even Emancipation itself. I tell you frankly what I think ought to be done, but what I fear will not. I think the Duke of Leinster, and every other Protestant peer friendly to the principle of freedom of conscience, should avail themselves at once of the formation of the Brunswick Club, and come forward and join the Catholic Association. There is in Ireland no neutral ground – whatever is not with us, is, in reality, against us. The time is come to take an active part in struggling to preserve the country from the bigots.

[The remainder of this letter has been lost]”

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Darrymane Abbey, 24th September, 1828.

“My dear Lord – I am not going to inflict another long letter upon you; but since I wrote and sent off my last letter, I saw a speech of Sheil’s, at the Association, in which he calls on the Duke, Lord Charlemont, and on you by name, to join us for Ireland. I wish to clear from your mind all suspicion that he and I are thus acting in conjunction. I do assure you, solemnly, we are not; and his having concurred with me is only another evidence of the deep conviction the Catholics now entertain that they are either opposed or deserted by the Irish Protestants. This is to me a most painful subject. Why should I not grieve, and grieve to my heart’s core, when I see Lord Rossmore active and Lord Cloncurry dormant? – when I see Lord Rossmore the most popular of the Irish peerage, and the Duke of Leinster the least so.

It is vain to accuse the people of rash judgments. They know their friends, not from the wishes and intentions of those friends, but from their actions and exertions. It would be easy, indeed, for the Duke to resume his natural station. He would be received with the loudest acclaim. He is, however, in principle, or from want of thought, a unionist; and the time is come when every honest and sensible Irishman should be preparing to compel the repeal of that measure. But we must do this alone. Protestant assistance will be given us when the difficulties are over, and that success is approaching.

I do not ask you for a declaration of your concurrence in the opinion that Protestant patriotism in Ireland is at the lowest ebb. You would have long since done much for Ireland, if you could have found Protestant co-operators. This defection is the more to be regretted, because it leaves so much alive the religious prejudices of the people – those fatal prejudices which have been so long the destruction of this wretched country. For my part, the only sensation which remains in my mind is that which creates the determination to exert myself doubly for “Old Ireland.” I have the honour to be, with the most sincere respect, my dear Lord,

Your very faithful and sincere servant,

Daniel O’Connell.”

[This letter is remarkable, as being franked ” Daniel O’Connell,” and bearing the post mark “Free.” It was written after Mr. O’Connell’s return for Clare, and before the Relief Measure of 1829 enabled him to take his seat in the House of Commons.]

The Earl of Donoughmore (General Lord Hutchinson) to Lord Cloncurry.

Knocklofty, September 1, 1828. (Private.)

“My dear Cloncurry – I have received your letter of the 29th of last month, and should be very glad to co-operate with you in anything, and particularly to act with you in endeavouring to settle the Catholic question, because it is the foundation on which the permanent tranquillity of Ireland can alone be erected. In my estimation the Protestant, or Brunswick Clubs, I mean the associations at whose head Lord Longford is placed, are very formidable. We ought not to conceal from ourselves that there is a great deal of rank and fortune, and even some talent, included amongst them. I should despair of getting signatures amongst the Irish liberal Protestants, which could at all compete in number, property, or respectability with that association.

The fact is, that the violence of O’Connell and his associates, at least in this part of Ireland, has done the Catholic cause much mischief; and it would be impossible here, and in the city and county of Cork, to get any considerable number of Protestants to affix their signatures to any document similar to that which you have in contemplation. In the county and city of Cork they are much more violent than in Tipperary; but even in this county, where more of the principal gentlemen are disposed to be liberal, the late proceedings of the Catholics have irritated them very much. About three years ago, there was a very strong declaration signed by (the number is illegible) peers, to which both your name and mine were affixed. I have already sounded some of my friends. They do not seem willing to make any declaration of their sentiments. Just at present I am very apprehensive that an attempt would end in failure, and I am clearly of opinion that if we cannot procure numerous signatures, it would be much more prudent not to make any effort at all. If we could display our strength among the Protestants, I should agree with you in sentiment, but I am apprehensive that the result would be different, and our failure might be complete, which would probably injure a cause which, at the present moment, is placed in a most critical position. Believe me to be, my dear Cloncurry, with great regard,

Most truly yours,


During the early part of the year in which the foregoing three letters were written, the Marquis of Anglesey had been appointed to the viceroyalty of Ireland by the Tory ministry then in power. The policy (if so it can be called) that guided them in their partisan resistance to the enlightened plans of Mr. Canning, had not yet been overborne by their fears. The Duke of Wellington still thought it possible to govern by the terrors of the bayonet, and no man knew better than his Grace that whatever might be accomplished by the aid of high military qualities, an aristocratic bearing, and a determined will, might be done by Lord Anglesey. Upon the mind of the Marquis, at that time, the professional violence of the leading agitators had produced effects similar to those to which I have referred, as having been occasioned by it in the minds of many liberal Irishmen: he had just then said in the House of Lords, that “if the Irish wished for war, the sooner they drew the sword the better.”

It was upon these grounds that the selection of Lord Anglesey, as the Wellington Lieutenant, was based; but it turned out to be a reckoning without the host. His Excellency had not, indeed, previously applied his thoughts to the Irish question; but he had a strong and inquiring mind, and when it became his duty to make himself acquainted with the position of Irish politics and parties, he set about the work in a candid and straightforward spirit, that soon cleared the way for a full enlightenment of his judgment. With regard to him the saying of Caesar might have been reversed: he might have said veni vidi et victus fui, so speedily did his sense of justice triumph over his prejudices.

It was my good fortune to make the acquaintance of this noble soldier very shortly after his first assumption of the office of Lord Lieutenant. We met, I think, at the table of my neighbour and friend, though political opposite, Lord Mayo, and there began an intimacy which, during his second viceroyalty, ripened into a cordial friendship that has continued without interruption to the present moment. In one respect I was a safe companion, for I wanted nothing either for myself or others, and had no interest that was not in common with that of the country. I was so circumstanced as to be free from any inducement either to blind the viceroy, that I might profit by his errors, or to seek an opportunity for prey in the continuance of confusion and discord among my fellow-countrymen.

Lord Anglesey gave me credit for being influenced by these circumstances, and not less, I believe, for being sincerely desirous of promoting the prosperity and well-founded peace of Ireland; and I was, accordingly, so far honoured by his confidence, as to be permitted to form a sort of private cabinet, to which he frequently referred for counsel and assistance. In this extra-official council, of which, I confess, I was not at first a very willing member, were included Mr. George Villiers (now Earl of Clarendon), the late Right Honourable Anthony Blake, and Mr. William Henry Curran (now a judge of the Insolvent Debtors’ Court).

We met very frequently at dinner, as well as at other periods, when matters occurred respecting which Lord Anglesey wished for information and advised; and so often, and at such uncertain times, was this assistance called for, that it was my habit to have post-horses constantly ready at Lyons, in order to enable me to obey his Excellency’s summons. It was, as I have already intimated, no long time until Lord Anglesey formed opinions for himself in reference to Irish politics; and, in accordance with his new views, he declared himself friendly to Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform. The result was, his recall, in a year from the date of his appointment, and his departure with the honours of an ovation: he was escorted from Dublin to the water’s edge by the entire population of the city. And having thus voluntarily failed in the performance of the service expected from him by his colleagues, his conscientious change of opinion became the means of hastening the advent of that crisis which, twelve months before, he had been commissioned for the very purpose of retarding.

The first year passed by Lord Anglesey in Ireland, although it ended in a triumph of his popularity, was yet a season of much difficulty and annoyance. During its course, the agitation for Emancipation reached its height, and the violence of the professional agitators had culminated in the climax of the Clare election. It became obvious to the multitude that the exhibition of physical force was doing its work. The ministers were seen to falter, and both the people and their leaders perceived that it was time to press upon a wavering foe. The time had nearly passed when concession could be made without loss of honour. Under the management of Lord Anglesey it might, perhaps, have been possible to have concluded a decent peace; but, even in his hands, it would have been more than difficult to have prevented the defeat of the army of the oppressors from being converted into that scandalous rout to which the mingled obstinacy, panic, and perfidy of Wellington and Peel exposed them.

This position of affairs naturally rendered the course of Lord Anglesey a thorny one. To-day he was subjected to the abuse of the Protestant-ascendancy men – to-morrow, to the distrust of the Catholic Association. The former laid upon his shoulders the responsibility of the violence of O’Connell and his followers-while the latter suspected him of insincerity in his avowed sympathy with their cause, and, at the same time, by their intemperance, rendered it impossible for him to hesitate in the stringent enforcement of the law, which, however oppressive upon them, it was his duty to execute. The following letters may throw a little light upon the character of the time; they will, at all events, illustrate the generous and high-minded feeling towards Ireland which, from an early period of his viceregal career, actuated Lord Anglesey:-

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix-park, December 5, 1828.

“My dear Lord – I thank you for your letter, and for the memoir which accompanies it. I shall read this document with great interest.

I do assure your Lordship that I am too well convinced of your loyalty and love of country to believe that you could have sanctioned the expressions which were used regarding you by Mr. O’Connell at the Association; and if there are those who could have entertained such an opinion, your manly disavowal at Lord Morpeth’s dinner of being a party to the sentiment expressed, ought to have removed every doubt.

In respect to the expression very imprudently used, I am one who thinks that great allowance ought to be made for the strong expressions of public speakers, which frequently are mere vapour, and mean nothing; and I feel convinced (although I know I am liable to be laughed at for my credulity) that the Prime Agitator means no harm.

I remain, my dear Lord,

Very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, March 12, 1829.

“My dear Lord – I have sent you the two bills now in progress, and I shall like to know what you think of them, and particularly of that concerning the forty-shilling freeholders.

How fortunate for the Catholics that the ministers did not bite at my proposition to adjust the question for them! I could have obtained much better terms (as they would have been erroneously thought to be) for the Protestants. I therefore rejoice that things are as they are.

Notwithstanding the forebodings of some croakers, I have not the least doubt that the Relief Bill will pass triumphantly; and, excepting a few trifling and silly points, which give the appearance of the measure being adopted against the grain, I do think it is a handsome production, and must please the Catholics. I believe O’Connell is behaving very well here. Poor William has had a very severe attack of smallpox. He is going on as well as possible, and I have removed him to an airy lodging at Brompton. All my ladies took fright, and disappeared, leaving me quite alone. We are fumigating, and I suppose they will soon return.

I hope Lady Cloncurry and your family are quite well. I assure you we often talk of Lyons and its hospitable inhabitants.

You can have no idea of the intense interest this Catholic question excites in England. I do not think that Ireland is so much occupied with it. Not another subject is ever broached in any society, male or female.

I continue to receive daily proofs of the kind feelings of your amiable countrymen towards me; and I do assure you it is a source of the highest gratification to me. With best regards to Lady Cloncurry,

Believe me, my dear Lord,

Very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Cowes, August 7, 1829.

“My dear Lord – As you flatter me by wishing for my opinion of the projected improvements and alterations of Kingstown Harbour, I give you freely what occurs to me.

I grieve for the excesses that have been committed in Ireland, but I well know to what cause to attribute them. Those who have chosen to predict that Emancipation will profit that country nothing, are no doubt very well disposed to contribute to the verification of their predictions.

But in spite of every obstacle, in spite even of the imprudence of O’Connell, who has, I admit, had ample reason to complain, but who would have acted more wisely and magnanimously by merely smiling at the puny and pitiful efforts to exclude him from the legislature, Ireland will prosper, unless she is grossly misruled.

I have my eye fixed upon you, and if I had now the influence I once possessed amongst you, I should still preach Peace, Temperance, Forbearance, Patience. Your wounds are too deeply inflicted to expect a very rapid cure.

With best wishes to Lady Cloncurry and your family, Believe me, my dear Lord,

Very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.


“I see a subscription for the distressed manufacturers of Dublin. Should I subscribe ?-and what would be handsome without being ostentatious? Or shall I order five waistcoats? (The allusion here is to an order for a waistcoat given by the Duke of Northumberland as his answer to the complaint of a deputation of distressed weavers. There was much laughing about it at the time; but the joke wanted its point, as want of liberality was not the Duke’s fault. The circumstance of the order had its origin, I presume, in some inadvertence.)

Seriously, would double or treble the amount of what you would advise me to subscribe, be more beneficial in the shape of an order for furniture, &c.?

I have a heavier task to impose upon you shortly. Although I can never bring myself to take part in debate, yet I want you to furnish me at your leisure with your concise views of what is not done that ought to be done for Ireland-of what is practicable and attainable for her relief-of what are the grossest defects in her present state and system – of the best plan for something to effect what our poor – laws do not effect. In short, I want a very compressed outline of the practical means of making Ireland what she is capable of and what she should be, and what every honest Irishman and liberal Englishman should wish her to be.

No small demand, this; but in the compass of this letter, you can some day furnish me with what I want. I remain, my dear Lord,

Very truly yours,


Lord Cloncurry to Daniel O’Connell.

“My dear O’Connell – You will find in the Hibernian Bank, lodged by me to your credit, £10, which I request you will have acknowledged as my rent for 1829. At the same time I beg you will have corrected what is reported in the newspapers as part of your speech at the Association on Thursday last, where, amongst the frivolous causes of Lord Anglesey’s recall, is mentioned, “because, forsooth, he visited Lord Cloncurry.” Now, to have my name at all connected with that of our truly excellent Viceroy would be such a gratification, not to my vanity, but to my honest pride, as would tend in some manner to diminish the sorrow I should justly feel at having at all contributed, however unwillingly, to so dreadful a misfortune to my country; but the truth is, the self-acknowledged maniac made no such charge. The causes of recall, as far as I can form an opinion, were as follow: personal jealousy of superior popularity and talent; a desire to get rid of all the members of a more liberal administration; and a determination that Ireland should not be governed by a man capable of appealing to the good sense and good feelings of the people, and whose firm and impartial administration secured the obedience of affection.

The recall being determined, every means were taken to irritate, where it was impossible to find fault, and amongst the foolish twittings was one for my having gone to the Catholic Association, after having been visited by the King’s representative and the Lord Chancellor. Certainly, if anything could convert me, or could wean me from the Catholic Association, or from all desire to agitate, it would be such men as Lord Anglesey and Sir Anthony Hart. However, one of the first declarations I heard from his Excellency was, “I do not ask men to give up their opinions; I only ask them to obey the law, and to aid in keeping the country quiet.”

If the great proprietors and chief nobles of the land were resident, Lord Cloncurry would be a very small person, and act a very humble part amongst the hospitalities of Ireland; but where all is misery and absenteeism, a house kept warm for five-and-twenty years may prick up its chimneys. For this reason, and for this alone, I invited Lord Anglesey, as I did the King, and was in like manner invited by them. In one respect I was a safe companion: I wanted nothing from either, nor would accept favour, even from my sovereign, until justice was done to my country.

The part I take in some public institutions, and the kind feeling of my fellow-citizens towards me, made me the bearer of many addresses, memorials, and other communications to the government, in the course of the summer, when there was no chief secretary in the country. I was therefore more troublesome to the Lord Lieutenant, not than I have a right to be, but than I would wish to be. On one occasion his Excellency having mentioned his disapprobation of the over-numerous assemblies of the people in the south, I begged leave to be the humble messenger of his will, and the meetings, never intended for any bad purpose, were discontinued: in like manner, the mission to the north was recalled. In both instances, obedience was secured without the cost of a guinea or a blow.

On another occasion, the chief manufacturers and traders of Dublin having confided to me certain representations very important to their interests, I had several interviews with his Excellency for the purpose of forwarding and reconciling the different interests of the importers and the manufacturers, and the establishment of a woollen-hall and a market. On every occasion, I found the same patient attention, ready understanding, and full investigation of the subject.

It was during these discussions that I first got alarmed at Mr. Ford’s non-intervention resolution. After discussing the subject at the Society for the Improvement of Ireland, I went to the Association to see you and Lord Killeen, and to solicit your opposition to the measure. Mr. Lawless promised me it should be given up, or at least postponed. I then proposed the meeting which has since taken place at the’ Rotunda, to which you at once agreed. You then invited me into the great room: when I said a few words of respect and affection to the assembly, I withdrew.

Most of this history is already known to you, but I repeat it to put the public in possession of such of the delusions as concern me. It is the first time I have heard it suggested that a peer of the realm should ask permission of the minister to associate with his countrymen. I conclude that the Brunswickers have his gracious permission and approbation of their proceedings. Indeed, it can hardly be doubted, or the sheriff of Clare would have excited the indignation that was lavished on O’Gorman Mahon; the former having acted unconstitutionally, and the latter in the very spirit of the law, though perhaps with the intemperance of youth.

My dear O’Connell, if I do not go constantly to the Association, it is because I can safely leave the work to abler hands. The union of the friends of civil and religious liberty has sprung from the madness of the minister; and the good sense of the Catholics. They must succeed: their success will be to me a sweet indemnity for one-and-thirty years of persevering persecution. The wretches who skulked behind a bad act of a corrupt parliament, to escape the vengeance of the laws outraged in my person, never could forgive the man they so deeply injured; but the sufferer survives to forgive them, and to rejoice in the brighter hopes of his country.

Yours, &c.,


I. have more to say in reference to the policy progress of Lord Anglesey’s Irish administration; but, postponing that subject for the present, I must conclude my observations upon the Catholic question.

It is difficult to conceive any position in which politicians could be placed, more humiliating than that occupied by the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel, in the year 1829. Beaten, after a long struggle, as much by their own fears as by the strength of their assailants, they fell, without dignity, confessing their terrors and their defeat, and yet striking a parting blow, such as could only irritate without maiming their enemy. By his dogged obstinacy, the Duke delayed the concession of their rights to the Roman Catholics, until it could no longer be yielded with a good grace; and when, at length, he thought himself obliged to give way, he admitted that it was not to the justice of the claim that he conceded, but to his apprehensions of the force and violence of the claimants. And, finally, when the victory was thus gained against him, he fruitlessly vexed the victor, and staked the peace of the country upon a new election contest, by refusing to permit Mr. O’Connell to take the seat to which he had been legally chosen by the electors of Clare, and to fill which he was qualified by the Relief Act. Had this bit of petty spite been foregone, and had good feeling been shown, at the small expense of silk gowns for Messrs. O’Connell and Sheil, it is more than probable that the measure of 1829 would have been a final and healing one, and that the strength of the Catholic agitation would, thenceforward, have been turned to the improvement of the institutions of Ireland, and the development of her material prosperity and social happiness.

As it was, the epoch of Emancipation was but the beginning of a long and troubled era of discord, in the course of which Tory government was rendered impossible, and successive liberal administrations were obliged alternately to keep up their power by coercion bills, or to shrink from a policy of progress, in attempting to work out which they were at one time frustrated by the lingering spirit of Protestant ascendancy, and at another encumbered by the assistance of demagogue cupidity and priestly ambition. The manner in which the Relief Act was carried was so contrived as to render the hatred between the two sections of the Irish people persistent; to leave each still something to fight for; to keep up the notion that government favour and patronage must be for the one or for the other, and was incapable of being impartially divided between both.

The Church, the University, the municipal corporations still remained to excite the cupidity or the honourable ambition of the Catholics. Their clergy, whom 20 years of agitation had made the active leaders of the people, were allowed to continue in a state of complete dependence upon their impoverished flocks and being discouraged from the pursuit of education in common with their Protestant fellow-countrymen, in the national University, they were practically restricted to the monastic and exclusive training of Maynooth, where stinted means rendered it impossible to comply with the ordinary decencies of civilised life, not to speak of satisfying the requirements of a liberal system of education. In entire accordance with the paltry malice that denied Mr. O’Connell a patent of precedence was the government patronage administered. The Roman Catholics, indeed, were by law made eligible to all public offices; but Protestantism was still the proper faith for placehunters, and its profession the way to the honours of the corporations and the civilities of “the Castle,” not less than to the profits and emoluments of public employments.

Thus a great concession was made by the Legislature of England to the majority of the Irish people, avowedly under the influence of the fear of physical force; and at the same time it was so marred in the granting, that while the popular power was vastly extended, the irritation of the leaders of the people was preserved in its state of highest intensity, by the continuance of many small grievances. By the Act of 1829, the peasantry and artisans were not benefitted in their physical or moral condition. They were left in that statu quo of poverty and ignorance which enabled the demagogues, whom they obeyed, still to guide them as they pleased; and their leaders found themselves endowed with new political power, but as yet deprived or all the solid advantages that commonly cause such power to be desired by men.

It is not, therefore, matter of wonder that the remarkable year 1829, instead of being the beginning of an era of tranquillity, turned out to be but the first of a score of years of Roman Catholic agitation, more violent than had ever before distracted the kingdom. Stimulated into fury by the sweets of place and rower that now hung within their reach, the laymen began a fierce, and in Ireland, almost exclusively, sectarian struggle for parliamentary reform, for the abolition of the Established Church, and for the destruction of the municipal corporations.

In all their projects they were zealously and most efficiently seconded by a clergy who saw themselves despised, and poor, and disowned by the State, and every day contrasted their humiliating position with the court-honoured, glebe-lodged, tithe-endowed parsons and spiritual Lords of Parliament, who were their neighbours in every parish, diocese, and province. In these contests, the resisting party was exclusively composed of Protestants. The differences of political opinion that stirred society in England, and made men who frequented the same parish church take opposite sides at the hustings, were in Ireland swallowed up and confounded in the grand distinction of religious creed; and that, in truth, was but the received name for the real subject of quarrel – viz., the place, power, and consideration exclusively enjoyed by the professors of one creed, and most ardently desired by the professors of the other.

It is a consolation to me to observe that the spirit which maintained this war is at length showing signs of approaching weakness. The points in dispute are daily becoming less numerous. Changes in English party tactics have led to a more extended and less exclusively sectarian traffic in patronage. Corruption can now scarcely be said to hold any peculiar religious belief. The honest and too-long deluded people are, I trust, beginning to see, on the one side, that the chicanery of the law may be as formidable to the liberties of Ireland, when worked by the hand of a Popish Attorney-General, as it was under the guidance of the most ultra-Orange Clare, Toler, or Saurin; and to perceive, on the other, that the property, and commerce, and agriculture of the Anglo-Irish pale may be as recklessly spoiled by an orthodox Protestant poor-law commissioner as ever they were by a James or a Tyrconnel.

It seems to me now to need but a few not very considerable social modifications to effect a complete and permanent solution of the Catholic question. When that shall have been accomplished, Ireland may take the place in the civilised world which her geographical position, her internal resources, and her population, entitle her to assume. While that condition of social fever indicated by the phrase “Catholic question,” shall remain unsettled, so long will this fertile island continue to be the hunting-ground for English place-seekers, and the prison for a horde of starving serfs – Angliae decus et obsimium.”


The Rev. F. J. L’Estrange [domestic chaplain to Mr. Connell] to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin Catholic Rooms, Feb. 3, 1829.

“My Lord – I have the honour, as chairman of a meeting of the Association, held on January 27th, instant, to enclose a resolution of grateful acknowledgments for the persevering support afforded by your Lordship in the arduous struggle in which we are engaged for our constitutional rights. The number of years in which we have been cheered by the countenance of your Lordship, even under circumstances of great difficulty, has earned for your Lordship the everlasting gratitude of your fellow-Christians; and therefore it renders it almost unnecessary for me to acquaint your Lordship with what enthusiastic applause your name is always received in the Association. I feel greatly flattered by having the honour of filling the chair on an occasion which affords me the opportunity of assuring your Lordship how cordially I join in paying the tribute of praise, so well deserved, on account of a long series of noble and patriotic deeds. I have the honour to subscribe myself, my Lord,

Your faithful servant,

F. J. L’Estrange.”

The following letters will show that the opinions I have advanced above with regard to the condition of the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth were not opinions “of the morrow,” in reference to the recent salutary changes made in that establishment

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.


South-street, 29th April.

“My dear Lord – I will take care that your suggestions shall be known to Melbourne and to Mulgrave, and enforced by your authority and your reasons; and I sincerely hope, and indeed entreat you, to continue to convey them either directly to them, or indirectly through me for I am satisfied that nothing can be more advantageous to the government than ascertaining, and deliberately and favourably considering, your views of such matters. I own your strong recommendation of additional grants to Maynooth rather takes me by surprise, as I thought that that project had in a great measure failed, and that the opinion of the best-informed and most liberal of both persuasions was that almost any other scheme that could be adopted would supply the Roman Catholic subjects of Ireland with a better class of priests than those educated at Maynooth. However, your opinion, even if there be no other, is quite sufficient to make inquiry and reconsideration advisable; and Melbourne, and Mulgrave, and Morpeth (what alliteration!) shall all be aware of it.

Our elections, with the exception of the Solicitor-General, which has no moral effect whatever on the public, have hitherto gone well. We are sanguine, and almost confident, about Morpeth’s. I wish we were equally so about John Russell’s, but we have no reason to despair, and what is encouraging, the reports from Devon improve.


Vassall Holland.”

Lord Melbourne to Lord Cloneurry.

Downing-street, June 4, 1835.

“My dear Lord – I beg leave to return you my best thanks for your letter of the 3rd of last month; and I know you will think the assurance that I have not omitted to consider its contents a sufficient excuse for not having made an earlier acknowledgment of it.

I believe all you say respecting Maynooth; I have always heard the same from all persons of knowledge and information upon the subject; and yet it appears to me to be perfectly impossible, at the present time, to act upon either of your suggestions. To abolish the College altogether, without instituting anything in its room, would be considered an insult and an injury by the whole Roman Catholic population of Ireland; and, on the other hand, the prejudices of Protestants of all descriptions – Churchman, Dissenter, and Voluntary-would oppose themselves to an augmentation of the endowment. You must be sufficiently aware of the feelings of this country to be persuaded that such a proposition would fail in parliament, and that the bringing it forward would be of the utmost prejudice to the government.

Your observations respecting the police are equally sound and unanswerable. I always thought the appointment by the magistrates objectionable; and if those to whom they have given it up conduct it upon the principles which you mention, it is still worse. I can conceive that some of the Inspectors-general might act in the manner which you mention, but surely not all, and particularly not those who have been recently appointed.

The persons whom you mention have not been neglected; an offer of advancement was made to Mr. Holmes. I am afraid there is more difficulty in arranging C—‘s succeeding to Peter Burrowes. What can we possibly do for B—? Making him a privy councillor is nonsense: he is a noodle to wish it. There are, in my opinion, objections to it; and if he got it, depend upon it it would not give him three hours’ gratification. I think the late government did wrong in making S—. I shall be at all times glad to hear from you; and believe me, my dear Lord,

Yours faithfully,


Chapter XIV.

The Church Question – The Church Establishment a Citadel for the English Garrison – its Failure as an Ecclesiastical Institution – Its Use as a Party Grievance – Value of the Reforms already made – Lord Anglesey’s Church Bill – Defeated by Mr. Stanley – Church Question still unsettled, and at the service of the Factions – Payment of the Catholic Clergy – Separation of Church and State – Letters; from Lord Dacre, Myself – Lord Holland, Mr. O’Connell, Sir H. Hardinge, the Marquis of Anglesey.

Concurrently with the agitation of the Catholic question, and as the complement of it proceeded, an agitation of the question of the Protestant Established Church, and when the former was supposed by short-sighted politicians to have been settled by the Relief Act of 1829, the Church Establishment was suffered to remain in all its monstrous deformity, to protract the distractions of Ireland. It had been fixed upon the country, in the first instance, in accordance with the policy of English rulers, as a citadel for the English garrison, and as such it was continued at the time of the Union, and kept up after the civil disabilities of the Roman Catholics had been removed under the pressure of the fears of the English ministry. That purpose it had, no doubt, served, although in the advancement of every other object, supposed to be attainable by an ecclesiastical system, it had notoriously failed. The religious and moral education of the masses of the people it could not effect, when seven-eighths of the population remained without the pale of its communion. With their secular education it was specially charged, and this it neglected. The Church was accordingly known to the Irish people only through the medium of the exactions of the tithe-proctors, and to the rest of the empire by the barbarous retaliations which those exactions induced.

Here, then, was a grievance ready for the hand of the agitator, than which the most turbulent invention” could scarcely devise any more stimulating, and it was freely used both in the furtherance of the Catholic claims, and, subsequent to the year 1829, with great advantage, now and then, to the contending factions of England; but it must be confessed, with but small benefit to the Irish people. It is very certain that Whigs and Tories, from time to time, mutually turned each other out of Downing-street, by a skilful use of the Irish Church question, and there can also be no doubt that, during the years between 1829 and 1835, while this political game was going on, a vast amount of suffering, and blood-guiltiness, and bitter retaliation, was heaped upon the devoted heads of the Irish people; yet, upon taking a broad political view of the subject, it will be manifest that the result of all this turmoil and misery has been but small.

It is true that the transfer of the immediate incidence of the tithe from the farmer to the landlord has so wrapped up its payment in that of rent, as to deprive the tithe-proctor of his terrors, and to extinguish the power of conjuring tumults which his name formerly possessed in the mouth of an agitator. It is also true that the fixed commutation of the tithe has removed from it the character of being a tax upon improvement which it formerly, in a marked degree, possessed. The power of converting church leases into fee-farms, has also tended to lessen the mischiefs resulting from the uncertainty of the tenure of church lands.

Nevertheless, the legislation both of Whigs and Tories has failed to touch the greatest evils of the Established Church system, and has even added to it some evils that did not before exist. It still stands as a bone of contention to divide Irishmen, to be given as the food of corruption and anti-nationalism to the Protestants, to bind them to the standard of the English garrison, and to be thrown now and then to the Catholics (to be gnawed, not eaten up), in order to sharpen the edge of their hatred to their fellow-countrymen.

The church of a minority is still a part of the State, and sends its four prelates to parliament for no earthly purpose but to keep up irritation in the minds of the prelates of the church of the majority, and to supply a stimulus to their odium theologicum, by a direct appeal to their pride. The suppression of ten bishoprics but served to aggravate these feelings, while it removed ten resident proprietors, possessed of considerable means of expenditure, from the country, and handed over their incomes to that worst species of absentee – a board of greedy commissioners, connected with land or people only as birds of prey are connected with their quarry.

The shuffling of the tithe-charge, while it unquestionably produced the good effects upon the popular imagination to which I have alluded, was, nevertheless, productive of no pecuniary relief to the people, and did involve a gift of one-fourth of the national property to the landlords.

I am, myself, a tithe-owner-the lay-rector of several parishes – and am, therefore, interested in taking a Conservative view of the Church question. So strongly, however, have I always felt that a settlement of it is necessary to the general welfare of Ireland, that I have always been, in opinion, a tithe-abolitionist; and so long since as the year 1800, I pressed the subject upon the Duke of Bedford during his lord-lieutenancy, and expressed to him my willingness to surrender that portion of my property for the common good. I have continued ever since to entertain the same sentiments, which I also communicated to Lord Anglesey, and in conjunction with him framed a plan for the total extinction of tithes, which he strongly urged upon his colleagues when the formidable anti-tithe agitation of 1831 and ’32 forced the subject upon their consideration.

Our bill, as Lord Anglesey took pleasure in calling it, went to the entire abolition of tithe, and to the resumption by the State of the church lands, and their letting or sale upon proper commercial principles, in all cases saving existing rights. From calculations which I caused to be made by an eminent notary, it was estimated that the profit derivable from such a management of the 600,000 acres of profitable land held by the Church would have been sufficient to have supported an establishment ample enough for the spiritual wants of Ireland, and to have left a handsome surplus available for the education and relief of the poor, or as a provision for stipends for the Roman Catholic clergy, should the granting of such be thought expedient.

This plan, I confess, did not fully carry out my own views in church matters, as these extended the whole length of complete voluntaryism, and a severance of all connexion between Church and State. Nevertheless, I believe it would have settled the Church question, so far as to determine its use as a factious rallying cry, and I have no doubt it would have been quite as easily carried as the half measures which were adopted. But, in the preference given to these, the genius of Lord Anglesey was overruled by that of his Chief Secretary, Mr. Stanley, and so another sore spot has been kept open on the Irish body politic, ready for the whip of the English ruler whenever it may serve his purpose to excite a domestic broil.

The Church question was, for some years, available in the struggle of parliamentary factions; and, though it has latterly remained dormant, it is, by no means, settled, and there are not wanting indications that it may soon again be put to its former use. The ministerial leaning towards a plan for the subsidization of the Roman Catholic priesthood on the one band, and on the other, the aggressive activity of some of the more ambitious of the latter class (as evinced, for example, in their crusade against education), are portents of evil towards which every true lover of national liberty, and of Ireland, ought to direct an anxious eye.

The payment of the priests from State funds would be the enlistment of another batch of ecclesiastical recruits for the English garrison. It would, indeed, bind another body of clergy to the English, as contra-distinguished from the Irish, interest, but it would not satisfy clerical ambition. The new stipendiaries would taste the sweets of State patronage; but in their new position they would contrast with more bitterness than ever the difference in the degrees of favour shown to them and to their Protestant rivals. They would ask, why are we but yearly hirelings, while the clergy of the church of the minority are beneficed with lands and tithes, and their prelates seated in the upper house of parliament? The stipend would thus become a vantage-ground upon which a new agitation for priestly aggrandisement would be based, and in that agitation, I believe, the pride of the laity, stimulated by their clergy, and overcoming their judgment, would force them to join.

Such, I believe, would be the effect of the stipend, even in the case of the more moderate of the priests, who would at once agree to accept it. Its effect upon the more violent, upon whose acceptance it would seem to be forced, could not be expected to be more beneficial. The clerical ambition to acquire complete control over popular education would not be lessened by making the clergy pecuniarily independent of the people; nor would the desire to enjoy the full dignity of a prelate in a national and State church be diminished in the mind of a Roman Catholic bishop, by a partial connexion with the State, through the medium of the treasury. Both bishops and priests might be made less Irish and more English by subsidization, but they would not thereby be rendered less ambitious or humbler in spirit. A contest of unexampled bitterness would then begin between two State-endowed churches, and the matter indirectly at stake in the quarrel would be the liberties of the flocks of both. Nevertheless, these would join their parties in clamouring, on the one side, for a Roman Catholic bench in the House of Lords and a restoration of benefices and cathedrals to their ancient possessors; on the other, for the inviolability of the rights of conquest; and, on both, for such an ecclesiastical control over national education as would restrict the intellectual development of the people within the measure of church formularies.

The way to obviate these great evils, and to settle the Church question effectually – to avoid the difficulties belonging to a subsidization of the priesthood, and to disengage the all-important question of national education from many of its embarrassments – would, in my opinion, still be to separate all churches alike from the State; to remove the bishops from the House of Lords, where no one imagines they can perform any useful or respectable function; to capitalise the church property, and apply it to purposes of education and charity; and so to let all parties start fair upon their respective missions.

It would then be the interest of all sects to discourage their ministers from interfering in politics ; and as no one set of clergy would be unreasonably exalted by the State, so it would, not be likely that the pride of any body of laymen could be successfully used to stimulate them to attempt an equivalent unreasonable exaltation of a rival priesthood. If it would be too much to expect that this plan would temper the bitterness of religious discord in social life, it would, at least, altogether extinguish it as an element of political warfare, and would thus deprive the English minister of one of the most powerful of the agencies whereby he works out his Irish policy of ruling by division.

The following letters may be interesting, as throwing light upon the views entertained by myself and others during the height of the anti-tithe agitation, and as exhibiting the enlightened policy entertained in reference to the Church question by Lord Anglesey, and the manner in which it was frustrated by the Secretary, who was placed by his colleagues over him:-

Lord Dacre to Lord Cloncurry.

Chesterfield-street, February 26th, 1834.

“My dear Lord – I do begin to think that Ireland presents a political problem not to be solved by any known political process. Though I admit the conclusion with reluctance, I can scarcely refuse myself to the conviction that simple, pure, conciliation is insufficient to satisfy the demands of the Catholic population. The spirit of the people will never be laid by such means. Would that the Irish Protestant Church bad not been constituted an integrant part of our Church at the Union! We (the English) who wish fairly, honestly, partially for Ireland, may feel disappointment at her want of forbearance; but her impulses are in nature – that cannot be denied.

I thank you for sending me a copy of your proposed bill. I assume that for a time your proposed distribution of the proceeds of the tithes, rolled up in the general land-tax, might have given satisfaction; but some O’Connell or Doyle would soon have analysed your land-tax, to point out the portion of tithe which it would contain; and all the present objections to commutation would have been placed in front of every argument against the collection of the land-tax. Am not I right in supposing that the verybasis of your bill would slip from under you, when you enact:-

“That tithe shall not be levied henceforth, and it shall not be lawful to demand any increased rent now charged for land in lieu of them?” How are you, by enactment of law, to prevent a proprietor from obtaining the value of his land? If the proprietor occupies his own land, he would obtain the ordinary profit, plus the tithe which he previously paid to the tithe-owner; and if he lets his land, he ought to receive, in the shape of rent, the ordinary rent plus the tithe which was previously paid oat of the land. No act of parliament, no decree of the fiercest despot, can counteract that necessary truth of political economy. Your bill would therefore start with the simple substitution of land-tax for tithe (which is now to be done under the name of commutation); then, by adding some fractional parts to the charge, you get an aggregate sum, which, I certainly think, you would appropriate satisfactorily for the moment; but still you continue to describe the circle which bewilders us all.

Our poor country is in a lamentable condition! We are less clamorous on this side of the water, but our condition is most alarming. Our distress – the agricultural interest – is unbounded. All this is the result of a long course of bad government. I know that the government is influenced by the most honest desire to mitigate our evils, and to remove their causes; but the difficulties that surround them are the accumulation of such a series of errors, that my heart sinks within me when I contemplate them.

Yours, very sincerely,


Lord Cloncurry to the People of his Neighbourhood.

Cootehill, June 29th.

“My dear Friends and Neighbours – Were I at home, and in good health, I should certainly go amongst you this day. Be assured that the same love of Ireland, and the same desire to render her free and happy, fills my heart now that has, for near 50 years, directed every action of my life.

So convinced was I, at all times, of the improper application of tithe in this country, that I wrote and published my opinions against it near 30 years ago, and often since; and this although I was myself a proprietor of that species of property.

But, my friends, I am also a landlord, and, I hope, not a bad one. Remember, I tell you, that if tithe was abolished to-morrow, nine-tenths of the Irish landlords would add the amount to the rent, and the condition of the poor would be anything but improved; for there are more absentee landlords than there are parsons.

My opinion is, that tithe should not be abolished, but that it should be paid by the landlords, and applied to the use of the poor and other good purposes: this is my opinion, and will, I hope, soon be the opinion of parliament. The Church has ample funds without tithe; and if she had not, it would still be most unjust for Catholics to pay the Protestant clergy.

Church cess, though of less amount, is a thousand times more offensive and more unjust than tithe. It will, I am certain, be abolished; but until the law be altered I will obey it. I never asked any man to adopt my opinions; but I feel that, for the present, the clergy should not be left to starve, particularly the good, charitable clergy of our neighbourhood.

I believe the time is at hand when the patience, the good-humour, the courage, and determination of the people of Ireland will have its reward; that our many oppressions and grievances, of which tithe is only the tithe, will be put an end to by a reformed parliament and the honestest minister England ever saw. But to secure these advantages we must be peaceable and united, kind to one another, and seek, through the lawful channel, and no other, the restoration of rights too long withheld.

Your affectionate friend and neighbeur,


Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.


26th February.

“My dear Lord – The objects of your bill, as described in your letter, are very desirable. If I thought that our bill defeated or impeded any one of them, I should never have supported it. But it endeavours, at least, to secure, if not full, adequate payment to the present incumbents, and to provide moderately for their successors. When those two purposes are accomplished, it does not preclude or prohibit the application of part of the commuted land-tax to those of education, improvement, &c.; nor does it present any obstacle to a proper communication between government and the Roman Catholic clergy, or even to a provision for the latter, from any fund except that destined by the bill to the payment, in the first instance, of the Established Church.

Our bill leaves all these objects of yours entirely open-nay, it removes many impediments in the way of a discussion or determination on the remaining points of it. Had we, for instance, mixed up with an act of justice and reform and adjustment affecting the Established clergy, anything like provision for the Catholic priesthood, we should have raised a clamour both here and in Ireland, and have been charged-with as little truth, no doubt, but with ten times the plausibility and effect, as we were about the Education Board – with subverting the Protestant and substituting the Popish faith.

Surely it is prudent to avoid any proceeding which, merely from the form of it, furnishes a handle to the foolish or the malignant for giving such a colour to our policy. By doing what justice or necessity require to be done for the Established Church, separately and previously, we set that question at rest; and when we come to consider matters in which Roman Catholics, lay or clergy, are concerned, can discuss them more successfully on their own merits, as a satisfaction of the claims or a boon to the advantage of one class of our fellow-subjects, not as an encroachment on the rights or a spoliation of the property of any other.

You predict, and I fear too truly, much resistance; and you very feelingly and justly deprecate the consequences. But you do not suggest any proposal that will avert such consequences. They may follow our bill, hut they are not less likely to follow if yours were adopted. They are to be apprehended from the adoption of any land-tax or commutation whatever; and are even more certain and unavoidable if the law is left as it is – the clergy, after the 1st of November next, to their full rights of title or composition, and the government to the obligation of supporting the law.

The alternative is, to leave the legal rights of the subject without protection, i. e., in other words, to abandon the functions of a government; or to encounter a resistance formidable in its extent, and fearful in its consequences. What better can be devised, in such a dilemma, than an attempt to mitigate the latter evil – a plan compelling the clergy to purchase additional security by the sacrifice of some portion of unquestionable but unattainable rights, and by an acquiescence in an arrangement, if less profitable, less precarious for them, and infinitely less burthensome and less vexatious to those whose resistance is apprehended.

I see the inconveniences and dangers you allude to, but I do not see how you propose to avoid, or even lessen them. Your bill and your letter both admit, by implication, that an abandonment of the law, i.e., a refusal to protect unquestionable rights of property, is out of the question. I am sure you would apply your epithets of unjust and unwise to any such dereliction of duty.

1 support the bill from one simple consideration – that it affords some prospect or chance of an amicable settlement of Ireland, which while tithes subsist cannot be accomplished, and which, if they were suppressed by violence and spoliation, with-out equivalent to the sufferers, would be equally impracticable. Commute you must, if you mean to relieve one party and be just to the other yet all commutations will have to encounter more or less resistance; and I think we shall, in our plan, have reason and law on our side.

If we leave things as they are, we may have law, but shall have no reason; and if we give up all payment, we shall have neither law nor reason on our side, nor will the people really obtain relief; for, as you say, the Protestant landlord will pay the commutation, by exacting more rent; so will he raise his rent in proportion, on his titheable land becoming tithe-free. Yours ever,

Vassall Holland.”

I believe Lord Wellesley considered the bill very earnestly, and gave it his full sanction and recommendation. His opinion, even exclusive of his station, carries great authority with it; for he has long and deeply reflected on the subject; and, on all great matters, has a better judgment, as well as more experience than most men.

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

18th July.

“My dear Lord – I do not think we shall be in committee till Monday. We shall carry the second reading easily. You will he satisfied, I think, with the manner in which Lord Grey handled your topic of the Irish incumbents’ oaths and school-keeping. It was really admirable, and singularly opportune, when they are affecting to raise scruples about the coronation oath, and the right of parliament and people to release the king from it – they!! who release themselves from promissory oaths, without the ceremony of any consent of the promisee, and by an evasion as shameless as it is unaccountable.

The end of Grey’s speech will, I am sure, delight you; and had you been in the House, I do think that the virulence with which bishops and Orangemen declaimed against the bill would have raised “the penny.” you value it at to a good pound, and a shilling to boot.

Seriously, the extinction of tithe (even if in the details some injustice be committed), and the abolition of church cess, must remove the two greatest practical grievances your peasantry have to complain of; and, above all, allay that perpetual conflict of interests between Protestant and Catholic, which is the great curse of your country. Till Monday,

Yours ever,

Vassall Holland.”

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

12th February, 1835.

“My dear Lord – Everybody has been so occupied with the elections, that we are greatly in arrear of all other information. Ireland will, I conclude, as usual, form a great feature in the ensuing sessions; and one is naturally anxious to procure a little of that commodity, so rarely exported from your country, called truth. As I consider you a safe banker, I draw upon you for a little, not merely with respect to the aspect of things at the Castle – which, I am assured, is bad enough – but with respect to the actual transactions which have occurred since our mad rejection of the Church bill of last year.

I. Have the clergy received any tithes due in November last, or the arrears of those due before?

2. What have the landlords paid under Goulburn’s or Stanley’s Acts?

3. And what have they paid voluntarily of tithes, which they were not bound to pay by law?

4. What has been received from occupying tenants in the usual course of collecting tithe?

5. Has any part of the arrear to government been paid by the clergy?

On all these topics the government preserve a profound silence; and it is remarkable that though they have been profuse in promises, more or less vague, of Church reform, and corporation reform, and what not, in England, they have not yet said one word on what they intend to do about the Irish Church tithes or arrears! The Crown officers, as far as I recollect, were enjoined, by act of parliament, to exact the payment from the clergy, under the million act, on the 1st of February, 1835, unless an order to suspend the demand was issued from the Treasury. Has there been any such order? And if not, has there been any payment exacted?

I think (perhaps I am wrong) that I have perceived certain symptoms, in the late elections, of a decline of the supremacy of O’Connell over public opinion in Ireland. If so, is it owing to a reaction in favour of Tories or Orange-men, or to an increase of an intermediate and temperate party, who are earnest for redress of grievances, but not disposed to swear allegiance to the “great liberator?” You are, of course, aware that your proxy cannot be entered till you have taken your seat; and still more so, that I shall rejoice when you come to go through that operation, and shall be proud if, when enabled to leave a proxy, you leave it with

Yours sincerely,

Vassall Holland.

P.S. – This about the proxy is said to Leinster as well as yourself. I heard indirectly yesterday from Anglesey, still at Rome a fortnight ago, but less tormented with his painful disorder than he had been. He means to go almost immediately to Leipsic, to consult a German doctor – Hennyman, I think, the father of the homoeopathic system, and a great quack, I dare say. Pray write me at length your notions of what is and what ought to be in Ireland. Poor Lord Darnley died yesterday of a lockjaw, occasioned by a wound in lopping the branches of a tree.”

Daniel 0′ Connell, Esq. to Lord Cloncurry.

Darrynane Abbey, 14th December, 1835.

“My Lord – I thank you much for the sound views you gave me of the state of the tithe question; and upon full consideration, I do not hesitate to say that I deem your Lordship’s plan the very best that can be suggested for arriving at a peaceable conclusion to the agitation which tithes have created and continued for near a century. But, alas! what prospect is there of realising that or any other measure useful to Ireland? I wish I could be of any service in carrying it into effect. You should in that case command my very best exertions.

I regret to see that all my efforts appear insufficient to excite to the formation of a “government party” of rank and fortune in Ireland. The odious Orange party rally at once round a Tory party. But see how difficult it is for you to get anything like an exertion for the liberal government. I would submit that a Reform Association, could and 1 think ought, to include peers. There are many peers belonging to the English Reform Association. Indeed, more than one English peer has claimed to be allowed to register as a voter, and such claim has been allowed in more than one instance. The cases have been of English peers sitting in the Lords. This fact may, I should hope, influence your judgment as to joining ACTIVELY in an Irish Reform Society. I have the honour to be, with very sincere respect, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s faithful servant,

Daniel O’Connell.

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

South-street, 8th January.

Dear Lord Cloncurry – It is generally very desirable that our friends should attend the meeting of Parliament; and I think it is particularly so, for reasons too long to explain, that you should be there; your absence would disappoint us much.

Your being in good humour is a good sign; and I really think you have no grounds to be otherwise, nor even to imagine that Irish interests would he sacrificed to forward English measures. You must always recollect that by attempting any Irish measures that are strongly reprobated by public opinion in England, we should not forward the interests of one or of the other; and even your tithe arrangement and Church question is I hope more likely to be now settled, and settled well, by having been postponed, than if it had been attempted before the anomalous and revolting details of the Irish Church establishment were laid bare by the reports of the Commissioners, or one-third of the people of England aware of the strength of our case for appropriating, remodelling, and reducing it.

As I was writing this sentence, I was interrupted by our friend Anglesey, who walked here, and is himself in better strength and health than he ever was in Ireland, but is on the eve of a journey to Paris, with his son Clarence. That once fine young man is, I sadly fear, in a very bad way; and Lady Anglesey herself is suffering severely. I am afraid, therefore, Anglesey’s spirits are not so good as his health. Why on earth does your countryman abuse him? It is foolish as well as wrong enough to deal so much in Billingsgate as he is apt to do, about his antagonists. It does them no harm, him some, and those he means to support, a great deal; but yet it is intelligible, and has, at least, the excuse of not being unprovoked, and little more than tit for tat; but his retrospective disparagement of others, and of Anglesey especially, is surely gratuitous, unprofitable, and disgusting.

I am quite glad you like John F— so much; and I quite agree with you and him that he should ultimately make himself an Irishman; but I own I think it more prudent in him to wait, for the purpose of coming out on an unencumbered, instead of an encumbered property; and I think it will be quite time enough to buy or to build a house when one of the Ladies (both past 60, and one 67 years old) shall die. I hold nothing to be so really advantageous to your country, or so creditable in it to the individual, as a resident gentleman of landed property, quite unencumbered. I have thought this matter over very often, and solely with reference to John’s comfort and happiness (for I have a real and almost parental affection for him, and he knows it); and the result of my cogitations, reflections, and consultations on the matter is, that it is infinitely better for him to postpone the step he meditates – ce qui est differé n’est pas perdu; on the contrary, it will be better assuré. With hopes of seeing you on the 4th of next month,

Ever yours,

Vassall Holland.”

Lord Cioncurry to —


Sir – It being stated in the papers that I was consulted on the subject of tithes by the parishioners of Kill, county of Kildare, of which the Rev. John Warburton is vicar, and that I thought the parishioners were going on legally, I beg leave to say that the statement is untrue; I was not consulted, and I gave no opinion.

Had I been consulted by my poor neighbours, I would have said – Continue to obey the law peaceably and good-humouredly, as you have done for 30 years that I have passed amongst you. Be assured that no man disapproves of the system of tithes and of its appropriation, more than I have ever done, and I hope sincerely that they may be speedily put on a different footing, and applied to far different purposes; and this I know may be effected, not only without diminution to the income of present incumbents, but to the great improvement of the country in wealth, produce, and employment. For such improvement I confidently look to a reformed legislature and the King’s good and enlightened ministers.

But it at the very moment that we may reasonably hope for the redress of many and serious grievances, we set ourselves with blind and foolish violence against the law, and the government whose duty it is to enforce and support the law, must we not appear to the legislature unfit for liberty, and unworthy of attention? Having for generations submitted to wrong, I would not now dash from my lips the cup of right, thereby almost justifying the slanders of our enemies, and diminishing the power of our friends to do us service.

The parish of Kill and my own adjoining parish have long been remarkable for good order and for comfort, for the moderation of a resident parson, and the prosperity of an industrious people; but this never for a moment blinded me to the impolicy or injustice of the tithe system, the extinction of which we should not delay by our own folly, but endeavour to get accomplished by the reformed parliament; and for that purpose the people should return representatives of known and good character-men to whom tests would be as disgusting as unnecessary, but whose lives and circumstances would guarantee their independence, their love of their country, and their knowledge of her interests.”

Sir Henry (now Lord) Hardinge to Lord Cloncurry.

Whitehall-place, 4th March, 1835.

My Lord – I wish I could answer your Lordship’s note by at once expressing the readiness of the Government to act on the very kind and humane spirit which has instituted your inquiry.

The Act of Parliament is imperative. We are compelled to make the demand on the tithe-owner, through the collectors of excise; and I am apprehensive we might prejudice the future prospects of the suffering party if we were to assume that the demand is to be relinquished. In a few days the tithe question will be brought forward; and as no letters have been issued directing harsh measures to be taken against the clergy, in default of repayment on the 11th instant, I trust that in effect your Lordship’s very benevolent feeling on this question may eventually be acceded to by the legislature. I am, with much respect,

Your Lordship’s very faithful servant,

H. Hardinge.”

Lord Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, February 15th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – Your letter of Tuesday has revived me. I was unhappy untill I received it. I feared that Lord Grey had irretrievably committed himself to mischief. I rejoice that you wrote to him; and what you said upon tithe, &c., no doubt ably supported what I had feebly represented.

In a former letter you say you wish you could have read to the committee what I had written to you. I wish to God you could see all I write about Ireland, and publish it too. However, that cannot be; and I must stand a thousand calumnies, and suffer a thousand censures for the faults of others.

Do you ever see Holland? He is a trusty friend and true. Again I say I rejoice that measures of justice are to precede those of coercion; indeed, the latter will scarcely be wanted, if the others are carried. Pat will do what he ought, if justice is done him, and if the consideration of his miseries is not too long delayed. Arrear of tithe he must pay, for it is just; but he ought to be previously secure that he will be relieved from unnecessary vexation and exaction.

In short, if they will carry forward our bill, there would be a good chance, at least, of all going on quietly; and, at all events, it would justify the government in coercive measures if; by the violence of demagogueic (not in Johnson) language, the people are bent upon resistance and a fight.

Ever sincerely yours,


Lord Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, March 14th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – There is not a syllable in your letter, just received, in which I do not concur, nor a sentiment expressed nor a suggestion made that I have not urged over and over again upon ministers; and not merely to Lord G. and to Stanley, but to other members, begging of them to aid me in carrying forward the whole tithe and Church and bishops’-lands measure, and, if possible to pass all that previously to any coercive measures, or, at all events, simultaneously. Of poor law and labour rate I have preached till I am tired. Do you keep the Irish members quiet if you can. They may depend upon me upon all the main points; and whilst I make allowances for them whilst they are fighting for their seats, they ought to make allowance for the difficulty of ministers.

In urging, however, to have the healing measures simultaneous with those of coercion, I cannot condemn them. I quite say the same thing.

I believe you are deceived and misled about G—. I am getting some inquiry made. I doubt if he is worthy of your patronage.

Notwithstanding Northumberland, and your recent favour with the Tories, I shall not lose you.

Truly yours,


Lord Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Naples, April 27th, 1824.

“My dear Cloncurry – I have been gratified by the receipt of your letter of the 20th of March – not that it is written in good spirits, and with a satisfied mind, but merely because it always gratifies me to hear from you. I fear, by your tone, that you have mistaken the meaning of a former letter of mine. I did not complain of you; on the contrary, I meant to express my gratitude for your generous and flattering expressions concerning me in a certain public letter; but, at the same time, my regret that, in supporting me, you should fall foul of others, even although they might deserve your censure.

I grieve that the course taken by L. does not satisfy you; for it leads me to fear that he is therefore deviating from the one sure track. What you say of the tithe and Church concerns is not consoling. What a pity that, when there was a scheme worked up by Blake and Griffith assisted by you, and approved by Lord Plunket and Blackburne, and recommended by me, who was without prejudice, and in no respect committed by public declarations or pledges, and had only calmly to listen to the opinions of such able men, and then to form my own – what a pity, I say, it is that such a plan should be thrown overboard, and that another, of little promise, should be substituted. But what have I to do with these matters?

I break off from the subject. I am quite glad to learn that you see much of Burgoyne. If I did no other good, I still did much in being instrumental in his appointment, and in planting the excellent Owen in your soil.

You mention poor Baron Smith. I beg you not to lose the first opportunity of assuring him of my regard, and that, if I had been at hand, feeble as is my tongue in the senate, he should not have wanted a champion, if no other more capable had presented himself. I have thought him most unkindly handled; and the conduct of P— towards him, in the last sessions, disquieted me. I had, at first, the intention of writing to Sir William, but I thought I might then add fuel to a flame; but a kind message now might be kindly taken – only do not let him write.

I am glad that Stovin has the appointment of Inspector General; but I shall always regret his not being Private Secretary. Say everything that is kind to your Duke and Duchess for me, and, indeed, to all my dear and good friends. You, as well as I, know that there are some who are most sincere; and if I do not name them, it is not that I do not think of them.

I have had an interesting letter from the worthy Curran. I shall write to him shortly. To Blake I have written this day. I will not say much of myself; for what I should have to say would not please you. I delight in Naples, and enjoy it as much as my health permits me to enjoy anything. The “Pearl” is arrived, which is a great resource.

Vesuvius seems to be tired; he is going out fast. The weather has not been as it should be; but, in my opinion, it is far preferable to Rome, although it may, perhaps, not suit me. It is now raining. This has been wanted for more than two months; perhaps it will be better after a fall. I have a house at Castellamare, but it is too cold to go there yet. I am persuaded your spring is forwarder. There is scarcely a leaf upon the trees, yet the gardens are surprising, and peas flourish all the year round. What a gay, lively people, and what a busy town.

At Rome, every other man was a priest: here the priest is superseded by the soldier – a favourable change in my eye, particularly as the troops are very fine. I grieve to hear of Lord Pluuket’s indisposition. Assure him of our regard; and pray do not fail to lay me at the feet of Lady Cloncurry, to whom, as well as to you, Lady A. sends her best wishes. We have not heard of E. Lawless since his departure. I hope he will be restored to you in perfect health; but it is a plant that will require attention. George is gone upon his tour. Alfred remains with me; but, if I rally, I will soon be following G. Good bye, and

Ever truly yours,


Lord Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Rome, January 28, 1835.

“My dear Cloncurry – I have received your letter of the 4th. I write upon large paper, for I feel as if I had a good deal to say to you; but, there is, in truth, too much to say, and I do not know how to begin, and to go on. I do not quite see into the state of affairs, but it appears to me that, take what view you will of them, they are frightful. Can the Peel and Wellington government stand? I am sure it ought not; and if there be common honesty and fair dealing in man, it will not.

But can any one count upon honesty and fair dealing in these days? I think not. I strongly suspect what are called the moderate Whigs. I have no faith in them. I believe that in general they are frightened, and only show liberalism as long as the tide runs that way, and as it turns (if turn it do) they will float back with it. Neither have I any faith in the ultra Tories. I suspect that a great part of them, with a view to office, or, at all events, to retaining in office men who, upon the whole, they like better, and believe themselves to be safer in the hands of, than the honest liberals – that with a view to preserving in power, I say, the present leaders, they will sacrifice all their principles, and eat all their words, and vote through thick and thin for reform – ay, even for church reform.

Here, then, if I be right, will be a tolerable equipoise of baseness, and thus Peel and Wellington will continue to hold the reins, and, with a bad grace, give all the reforms that were in contemplation by the last government, and which, if my voice had been attended to, would, as far as the Irish Church is concerned, have been set smooth three years ago. But instead of attending to me, they took the advice of Stanley, and brought forth that veritable bill of his for the recovery of tithes, which I at once pronounced would he a total, and, also, a very expensive failure, and would cause much clerical blood to flow; and so it happened, and the Protestant clergy have been bleeding and starving ever since.

But why do I allow myself to write on such subjects? I am sure I have no inducement to take any part whatever in public affairs. You, with your usual kindness and partiality, express a wish that I should, in the event of a change, again return to Ireland, or else go to the Horse Guards. But of what use could I be in either situation? It has been my fate to be unkindly and ungenerously treated both by friends and foes, and I do not see why I should again allow myself to be made unhappy by either.

The truth is, I have not the capacity for acting with men who have recourse to trick and duplicity. I have independent thoughts, and if I go, I must go my own way. I could not consent to allow Ireland to be governed in Downing-street, and therefore I did not suit my employer, and employers generally.

Mine has been a curious fate. Twice I have been recalled from Ireland for vehemently pressing measures which were obstinately resisted whilst I was in power, but which were adopted as soon as my back was turned. I forced Catholic Emancipation upon Wellington and Peel, and I was recalled, and recalled, too, with marked insult – but they immediately carried the measure. Under another government I again tried my hand. I urged the necessity of taking the whole of the ecclesiastical funds into the hands of the State. By it, the country would have been enriched – the clergy would have been amply paid – there would have been no collision between tithe-payer and tithe-receiver. All would have received their just dues-the Catholic clergy might have been paid, and there would have been a surplus for the benefit of the State. But even that would not have been alienated from the Church. The surplus would simply have been held in trust for it, and if hereafter the Protestant faith had spread, and more help for its souls had been required, there would have been the fund from whence to draw the required aid; well, my colleagues did not dare venture upon the measure, and so I was recalled, because Stanley was opposed to it. Yet they still attempted by driblets to do something! This something pleased nobody, and was rejected by the Lords.

Then came another set of men. These, during (be recess, did make up their minds to something very extensive; but in that time they are ousted, and now Peel and Wellington, if I am not greatly mistaken, will bring forward as sweeping a scheme as that proposed by me (with the able assistance of my worthy assistants who, in fact, had the whole merit of it, and particularly Blake), with this only difference, that whereas I would, for a time at least, have given all the surplus from the bishops’ lands, &c., for the benefit of the State, W. and P. will insist upon its being used for ecclesiastical purposes.

As for the army, what could I do with it? I should find myself at the head of a complete party (I fear) ultra-Tory force. I should find difficulty in every direction. The King playing the whole game of Toryism, and a set of people at the Horse Guards, just such as I found all the working men at the Castle of Dublin!!! If I could do good in either situation, I should not mind the burthen of it, and might reconcile myself to the relinquishment of all my home and family enjoyments; but when I know that I can do no good, it would be madness to attempt anything. Nor do I believe that any party would have me. They have had ample proof that I will not submit to he a mere cipher, and, therefore, I am not their man. What a shameful long letter!

Adieu, most sincerely yours,


Chapter XV.

The Education Question – Restrictions upon the Education of the Catholics – Evasion by the Protestant Clergy of their obligation to establish Schools – The Charter Schools – Struggles of the Peasantry to obtain Education – The Kildare-place Society – Discords in that Body, resulting from their enforcement of Religious Education – A pious Fraud – Mode in which the Education War between the Kildare-place Society and Myself was carried on – Letters; from Doctor Doyle, the Earl of Dououghmore, the Rev. Mr. Armstrong – The National System of Education – Mr. Stanley’s opposition – Withdrawal of the Parliamentary Grant from the Kildare-place Society – Combination of the extreme Factions against the National System – Ultimate Triumph over Bigotry – Moral of the Education War.

In the whole of that mass of wickedness and folly, known under the name of the penal laws, there was, perhaps, no item so wicked or so foolish as the denial of education to the Roman Catholic youth of Ireland. Nevertheless, the statutory provision which forbade Roman Catholics to teach or be taught, was surpassed in evil by a voluntary accession to the crime, of which the clergy of the Established Church were in great numbers guilty. By the penal laws, Roman Catholics were strictly forbidden to engage in the business of education, and they were made liable to special punishment for instructing the children of parents professing their own faith. As a sort of counterfoil to this cruel and most impolitic restriction, a step was taken towards providing means of education for the poor, by obliging the Protestant incumbent of each parish, at the time of his induction, to take a solemn oath binding himself to provide a school and a teacher for the children of his parish, and to defray the necessary expense from out of the revenues of the benefice. This engagement was in a large number of instances altogether disregarded; and as the result the children of the peasantry were, almost generally throughout the kingdom, left without any means of education, except such as the peasants themselves could procure, at first by stealth and in defiance of the law, and, subsequently, in the face of obstacles that rendered a proper system of instruction impossible of attainment. It is true, a vote of some £40,000 was annually appropriated by parliament to the support of the Protestant charter schools; but these were designed as proselytising institutions, and were, moreover, conducted upon principles so vicious, and so entirely opposed to nature, as to lead to their suppression by common consent, though not until their manifold abuses had brought them into notoriety as a public nuisance, and forcibly called for the interference of the government.

Under these circumstances, it became matter of wonder to all reflecting persons, not that an imperfect state of civilisation existed in Ireland, but that the entire population had not relapsed into barbarism. To my mind there are few traits in the history of the Irish peasant more affecting than the persevering energy with which he, for generations, struggled against all difficulties, in order that he might secure for his children some rudiments of education. It is, indeed, scarcely possible for any man, whose knowledge of Ireland dates 50 years back, to think without emotion upon the strange shifts and devices to which this passion for knowledge (for such it truly was) gave birth.

For my part, I cannot reflect, in any spirit but one of admiration and pity, upon the poor scholar, and his ready welcome at the peasant’s hearth; upon the philomath, next to the priest, the object of the veneration of the entire parish, purely from his claims to learning, and often in spite of moral defects and aberrations, little likely to secure public esteem; upon the hedge-school, with its incidents of voluntary contributions to the comforts of the master and the cheerful extension to him of the cordial hospitality of the neighbourhood. Those traits can now be observed no longer, since the state of things that brought them out to view has fortunately ceased to exist. They should not, however, be suffered to pass front the memory, where they can scarcely dwell apart from a kindly recollection of good feelings marred by bad laws, or from a generous pity for the sufferings of a people, steeped in ignorance, and yet striving against hope in the pursuit of knowledge.

At a very early period of my life I became sensible to these impressions; and, fully awake to the responsibility that devolved upon me, as an individual, of doing what lay in my power to avert the miserable consequences that must attend upon a nation which suffers the bulk of its people to increase in numbers, and yet to remain in moral darkness, though living in the midst of the splendour of an advanced condition of civilisation, I accordingly took care that those who were immediately dependent upon me should not lack the means of education, and, I believe, In my time built no fewer than five schools. But something more than individual exertion was necessary to this great work; and, accordingly, it was with pleasure I found myself able to join with an association known as “The Kildare-place Society;” in a general movement for the extension of the blessing of education to all classes of the Irish people, “without any attempt to interfere with the peculiar religious opinions of any.”

My first connexion with this Society was the result of a visit made to me at Lyons by Mr. (now Judge) Jackson, and Mr. Maquay, as a deputation from the committee, sent to solicit my cooperation. Upon the showing of these gentlemen, that the object of the society was to promote general education, irrespective of sectarian views, and in such a manner as should not involve any offence to the religious feelings of the people, I agreed to join it and became a subscriber. The Duke of Leinster, at the same time, consented to act as president. It was not long, however, until the old bane of Ireland, religious discord, interrupted this union, and a war arose, which ended in the formation of the National Board of Education, and the appropriation to it of the parliamentary grant that had been for some years given to the Kildare-Place Society. The cause of quarrel was the determination of the latter to force the reading of the Bible, without note or comment, in all the schools under their control, as the condition upon which assistance for their support would be afforded. I confess I did not at first anticipate that any objection could be made to this condition; and I was strengthened in this belief by the circumstance that some priests in my neighbourhood did comply with it and received aid from the Society.

This was done, I believe, through a sincere desire to procure the means of education for the people; and one reverend gentleman, who is now a bishop, and to whose school I subscribed, did actually get the Bible read daily in the school-room, by the permission of his diocesan (the celebrated Doctor Doyle), at the same time taking the precaution of rendering his submission to the rule of the Society innocuous to the consciences of his flock, by performing the obnoxious operation in the absence of the scholars. I am in no degree inclined to justify “pious frauds;” but in this case there certainly was a good motive and end. The objection of the priesthood to the reading of the Bible being insuperable, the reverend gentlemen alluded to continued their plan, with a view of obviating the effect of that objection in preventing their flocks from being educated; and the end attained for the time was their education.

Such occurrences, as it appeared to me, ought to have convinced the managers of the Society that the rigid enforcement of their rule must operate to prevent the attainment of their object of educating all classes; and as soon as the nature of the difficulty became fully known to me, I did all that in me lay to induce the Society to remove it, and so, at all events, to secure for the children of the poor a free opportunity of moral and intellectual education. The committee, however, was in the hands of a few professional fanatics, who, in that day, were in the habit of seeking, through Protestantism and piety, a ready road to the bench; and so my warnings were disregarded, and a barrier of Bibles built up between the people and civilisation.

Here was a new grievance brought above ground and within reach of the professional agitators upon the other side; and as they did not at all lack the disposition to use it, a new war of opinion forthwith sprung up. To prevent the prosecution of this most unnatural contest, I laboured long and hard. But the professional gentlemen were too many both for me and for themselves; and after driving all liberal Protestants from their counsels, they finally succeeded in causing the withdrawal from themselves of the parliamentary grant, and the establishment (I may now say, with nearly complete success) of the National system of education.

It is a curious, yet humiliating view of human nature, that a retrospect of the occurrences at this stage of the Irish education war presents to the mind. On the one hand are to be seen a body of men, originally brought together for a purpose the most honourable that can be aimed at by human beings – that of elevating the moral nature of their fellow-men – and yet suffering themselves to be induced, by trading politicians, to postpone the attainment of their grand object to the prosecution of a party quarrel, and hunting down, with a virulent energy only known in religious wars, the humblest individual who, wishing to aid them in their course, dared to hint at the folly of building up obstacles notoriously capable of impeding it.

On the other side an observer was, and even at this day, in reference to the same dispute, still is, offended by the sight of a hard fight against civilisation again marshalled under the banner of religion; and all the arts of polemical strategy employed to prevent the instruction of a generation of men, lest they should be taught to read that book which all the disputants believe to contain the inspired word of the Almighty. It is strange that such feelings should exist – most strange that they should have a place in the minds of men in other respects benevolent and enlightened. That they did so exist, however, I had personal opportunities of knowing during my intercourse with the Kildareplace Society. No sooner did I begin to grow troublesome to the lawyers, in my endeavours to render the working of the Society effective, in accordance with its original design, than those gentlemen showed that they would not allow their projects to be so disturbed with impunity.

I was accordingly set upon by professional orators whenever I dared to raise my voice at the public meetings, in support of “the leading principle of the Society;” and when that did not succeed, and opponents of the same cloth came to my rescue, then I was attacked in scurrilous libels published in the newspapers, and, when they were too foul for that channel, printed in pamphlets, and thrust into the hands of passers-by at the doors of the Society House. Of one of my perils among these false brethren I must tell a few particulars, as they illustrate the general state of the case.

It happened that the priest of my immediate parish was a person of not very amiable character or temper, and that he and I had a quarrel, in the course of our relation as tenant and landlord, to the details of which I need not advert. It occurred, however, at the close of a period of several years, during which I had shown him whatever hospitality and civility was in my power; and was engaged in by me, in some degree on the part of his own flock, between whom and himself I was obliged to interfere as a magistrate.

Of this reverend gendeman’s liberality, in the matter of Bible reading, I had an opportunity of judging before he was removed from my neighbourhood, by the fact of his having publicly burned a number of testaments, which had been distributed among his parishioners, with the very best motives, by a lady who was then a member of my family. What then was my surprise when, at one of the meetings of the Kildare-place Society, I found my remonstrances against the impossible condition met by the secretary (now Mr. Justice Jackson) drawing from his pocket “a letter from the respected parish priest of his Lordship’s parish,” in which the reverend gentleman, after roundly abusing me, declared that “it was always his practice” to have the Testament read in his parish schools, and in the chapels, in the Sunday schools. [The poor man never had a Sunday school in his chapel at Lyons.] The insinuation obviously pointed by the secretary, and by others of his learned brethren who spoke, was, that it was Lord Cloncurry, and not the priest, who opposed Bible reading; that I was conjuring up difficulties which existed only in my own mind, and that “so far was it from being the fact that the Roman Catholic clergy were universally opposed to scriptural education, that there were among them to be found some of the most efficient friends of scriptural instruction.”

The result has too plainly shown how entirely at variance with the true state of matters was this account of it and the following letters will show how groundless, even then, was the insinuation made in reference to myself. The Rev. Mr. Nolan, whose name is mentioned in them, was the parish priest referred to with respect and veneration by Mr. Jackson:-

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Old Derrig, Carlow, March 10th, 1824.

“My Lord – The letter which you did me the honour to address to me in Dublin, reached me only on last night. I regret very much the delay which has occurred, and that I could not until now assure your Lordship, that nothing almost could he more painful to me than that a clergyman of our Church should have excited the just displeasure of your Lordship.

It is our duty to he patient with all; but we should be greatly devoted to those few of your Lordship’s rank who look upon us as fellow-men, and can sympathise with us in our unmerited sufferings.

I write to Mr. Nolan by this day’s post, and will state to him the heads of your Lordship’s statement, as it is just that every man should be heard in his own defence; and as soon as it will be in my power to do so, I shall inform your Lordship of the result of my inquiry, and hope it will prove satisfactory to your Lordship. I have the honour to be, with the highest respect and esteem,

Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Robert Cassidy, Esq.

Carlow, February 19th, 1829.

“My dear Sir-I have just now arrived here from Dublin by Maryborough. I wished very much to stop, at least some hours, at Monasterevan, to pay my respects to your father, and speak with you on our political prospects; though, ’till the bill and the introductory speeches appear, we can only speculate. If they emancipate, as they ought, all things may go well.

I feel how much you have done in the matter of the legacy, and hope you will in a little time be enabled to complete it. I would have been surprised if Mr. Kavanagh had not caused you even useless trouble; for, at war with himself, he must give pain to others.

Old Nolan, as Lord Cloncurry properly enough calls him, is, and always was, a most unmanageable sort of being. I am not surprised at his misstatement. I hoped when I removed him from Lyons he would cease to give trouble; but his habits were not formed but confirmed when I first knew him.

I did not read, for I had not leisure, the report of the knaves’ meeting at Kildare-place; but I am exceedingly distressed at what you state as having occurred. I will oblige Nolan to account to me for his conduct; but, though I reprove him, how can I repair the injury done by him to Lord Cloncurry? I will write either to you or to his Lordship, on hearing from Mr. Nolan. And have the honour to be, my dear sir,

Most truly yours,

J. Doyle.”

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, February 20th, 1829.

“My Lord – On yesterday I was favoured with a note from Mr. Cassidy, informing me of the pain resulting to your Lordship from a letter written by Rev. Mr. Nolan to the secretary of the Kildare-place Society. I wrote immediately to Mr. Nolan, who called upon me this morning, and expresses his sincere and deep regret for having written the letter alluded to. He was, at the time of writing it, as he is at present, suffering under a most painful disease, which sometimes affects his temper; and was urged, by feelings of dissatisfaction at some then recent occurrences, to indulge in reflections which he now most sincerely regrets. He blames, in his usual manner, Mr. Jackson for having produced his letter, after having, through a Mr. Topham, applied for permission to do so, which permission he, Mr. Nolan, did not give; and thus the public injury which your Lordship has received has been aggravated without his Concurrence.

He acknowledges the exaggerated threat used by him to destroy the Protestant versions of the Bible, if circulated among his flock at Lyons; but says that his approbation of the use of the Sacred Scriptures in schools, was confined to those used by Catholics, accompanied with explanatory comments, as prescribed by the superiors in the Catholic Church. The injury done your Lordship is not much diminished by these explanations. I lament it most sincerely; and Mr. Nolan would regret it more, if possible, than he does, were his health in a less painful or dangerous state. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, October 14th, 1829.

“My Lord – I have been for some time endeavouring to erect here a small cathedral, with a view not only to provide for the more decent exercise of the Divine worship, but such as would also, by exhibiting a better style of architecture, contribute to the general improvement of the country. I mentioned the matter to some noblemen – His Grace the Duke of Leinster, the Marquis of Lansdowne, of Downshire, Lord Clifden, &c., proprietors of laud, like as your Lordship, in different parts of the Diocese of Kildare or of Leighlin – all of whom were pleased to assist my exertions by some contribution to the building in the erection of which I am engaged. I certainly feel more than ordinary delicacy in praying the notice of your Lordship to such a subject on account of the incessant claims upon your bounty, to which the generosity of your character gives access; but as I am writing to some other noblemen interested in the advancement of the country, and among them to your neighbour, Lord Mayo, I thought you would not be displeased with me for mentioning the matter to your Lordship, and I do no more. With the most perfect esteem, I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

My reply to the request contained in this letter drew on a renewal of the correspondence respecting Mr. Nolan, and brought the two following letters from the bishop:-

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, February 12, 1830.

“My Lord – On my return here from Dublin, late on yesterday, I found upon my table the letter of the 10th of this month, with which your Lordship has honoured me.

I assure you there is not a nobleman in Ireland, with the exception of the Duke of Leinster, whom I would be more anxious to gratify than your Lordship; so that if in this letter I do not, in all respects, fulfil your wishes, the deficiency will not be owing to a want on my part of an inclination to do so.

I have not seen the Seventeenth Report of the Kildare-place Society, unless in the mutilated shape in which it appeared in the newspapers, and am, therefore, but imperfectly acquainted with the nature of the calumnies on your Lordship published in that Report. But as the speeches and documents emanating, for years past, from that place, have been chiefly remarkable for a want of candour and truth, it is to me a matter of some surprise that they could give your Lordship pain; for what is the value of good sense, rectitude of conduct, and high character, unless they afford protection against the evil reports and misrepresentations which are constantly emanating from such places as Kildare-street?

I recollect the substance of your Lordship’s communication to me in, I think, February last year, relative to the late Rev. Mr. Nolan. I sent for him at that time, and after hearing him, I wrote you a note, to which I beg now to refer you, wherein I expressed for him, and at his desire, his contrition for the injury he had done your Lordship. I adverted, if I recollect well, to the natural acerbity of his temper, and to the illness under which he laboured – an illness which terminated shortly afterwards in his death. I thought then, and had reason given to me to think, that your Lordship was appeased; and, therefore, was filled with regret when I found, in a letter recently published by your Lordship, a most severe animadversion on the memory of a man removed from this scene of contention-a man who, whatever might have been his faults, had once enjoyed your friendship, and who, your Lordship will permit me to say it, had a right to have his faults buried with him in his grave.

Far be it from me to excuse his conduct. His misrepresentation of your Lordship was most unwarrantable: he regretted it deeply and bitterly. His letter, he said, was written to the Kildare-street people at a moment when trouble and disease embittered his mind. They applied to him for permission to publish that letter, which be declined to give; but they of Kildare-street had a purpose to serve, and did not hesitate about the means of effecting it. They published the letter, and wounded your Lordship; but they sacrificed their own honour, as well as the feelings and character of a dying man.

I confess, my Lord, that I am at a loss as to the mode in which I should, as you require, aid in vindicating your name in this matter otherwise than I have done, by placing in your hands the note to which I have above referred; for your Lordship will not require of me to pronounce of a dead man that he was, whilst living, guilty of ingratitude and dishonesty, when the subject matter of the charge is hospitality exercised towards him; and dealings in houses and lands, of the merits of which I am ignorant, but with respect to which the deceased, who cannot now plead, held opinions the very reverse of those entertained by your Lordship.

For my own part, and independent of this matter, I am quite certain that, besides your Lordship’s unwillingness to be found allied with “certain needy lawyers, showing no other utility than that of doing mischief,” you objected to the Kildare-street system, not because it required the indiscriminate reading of the Sacred Scriptures by children, without note or comment – however you might think such a system liable to abuse – but principally because you found that Catholic children would not resort to schools in which such a system prevailed and, therefore, that money levied off the whole community would be employed to educate the children of only a small portion of the people – but to goad and insult the great majority of them. It was this reason which weighed with your Lordship; and with whom does it not weigh, unless with fanatics, or the weak-minded, on those who love discord, and rejoice when they do evil? And certainly with such a reason, so often avowed by your Lordship, I think you stand so fairly before the country, as to be in no need whatever of my poor testimony for your vindication.

Your Lordship being a Protestant need not assign a reason, as we Catholics are bound to do, why the reading of the Sacred Scriptures without note or comment by children is objected to by us; for your Lordship, as a public man, it is enough to know that the Kildare-street system of education is cast off by the vast majority of the people, and upon religious grounds, which in Ireland have been, and are, and, I trust, always will be, immoveable. It belongs to us Catholics to state the reason of this our determination. We have done so one thousand times, in every place, and in every form; but, like one singing to the deaf, or preaching to the dead, we hitherto have not been heard. Accept, I pray you, the assurance of the perfect esteem with which I have the honour to remain, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, February 10, 1830.

“My Lord – I have but an imperfect recollection of the misstatement relating to your Lordship, published at Kildare-place last year by the Society, which holds there its annual meetings. They imported, as I recollect, that your Lordship was opposed to the system of education upheld there, not for the reasons so often and so forcibly stated by your Lordship, but from a disguised feeling of hostility to the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, or, perhaps, to the truths revealed in them. This evil imputation was sought to be affixed to you by a reference to, or quotation from, a letter said to have been written to the Society by the late Rev. Daniel Nolan, sometime parish priest of Kill or Blackchurch, in the Diocese of Kildare, wherein your Lordship resides; and in which letter the writer stated that he discontinued his connexion with the Society, or excluded the Sacred Scriptures from his school, at the suggestion of your Lordship.

I also recollect that the statement thus put forward by the Society was shortly afterwards formally contradicted, and the falsity of it proved, by the brother of the deceased, who, at the time referred to, had been his (Mr. Nolan’s) curate, and is now his successor at Kill, or Blackchurch.

Your Lordship, justly indignant at the attempt thus made to convert your righteous opposition to a mischievous society into a charge against yourself, and at finding this charge sustained by a letter purporting to be written by a man whose opposition to the reading of the Sacred Scriptures without note or comment by children was well known to you, very justly called upon me to oblige him to state the truth, and so acquit your Lordship of this foul charge, so dangerously insinuated against you.

I did, without delay, what your Lordship required, and communicated to you, with the express knowledge and at the desire of the late Mr. Nolan, his avowal of the injury he had done you, as well as the expression of his deep regret for having been misled in thinking or writing what was so inexcusable in itself, and so painful to your Lordship. Should your Lordship deem it proper to further notice this matter, you are at full liberty to make such use as you may judge proper of my note above referred to, as well as of my letter of Monday last addressed to your Lordship, or of such portions of the latter as have reference to this subject.

I am sincerely sorry that there should be any necessity of reverting to these calumnies on your Lordship, now that Mr. Nolan is removed from among us, especially as his conduct in reference to that Society, and to your Lordship, was such as cannot be vindicated; but he was, as your Lordship recollects, a person of very peculiar habits of mind and character. He always considered and designated the Kildare-street people as a congregation of knaves who squandered the public money, and thought himself justified in dealing with them as they dealt with government and the country. I have the honour to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

I may here introduce two letters which will not only show that my zeal in the cause of education was of an old growth, but will also exhibit opinions, formed under the influence of very opposite circumstances, in reference to the bearings of the question:-

Richard Earl of Donoughmore to Lord Cloncurry.

Tunbridge Wells, 7th August, 1820.

“My dear Lord – Upon the subject of your acceptable letter, which, from the staleness of its date, may have, perhaps, escaped your recollection altogether, the truth is the best apology to make. During the pressure of the parliamentary campaign, I put by many interesting objects at the moment, with the intention of giving them an early consideration; but I had laid them by so carefully, that it was but by accident that I recovered them at all, and your letter amongst the number, on making a review of my papers in this place of retirement, to which your friend and my brother, Lord H., have retreated, to breathe a little uncontaminated air during the recess.

The printed paper which accompanied your letter, and of which I more than suspect you are well acquainted with the author, is a correct and judicious statement of the case, and sufficiently proves that if we had fewer parsons, of all sorts and sizes, we should have more education and more morality. Our well-fed ecclesiastics don’t much care for the book about which all the racket is made, except so far as it may serve as a bone of contention; and their working brethren of the same cloth will suffer no Bible but their own. I should, therefore, say that there are faults on both sides; and I would either have editions of both sorts, and preceptors, too, of both religions, or I would not include the Bible amongst the school books at all. But I fear it is the fate of our unfortunate country to furnish the field for perpetual religions contentions, and for the propagation of that ill-fated science which is to teach us how to hate one another.

What an extraordinary conflict it is for which my brother and I are to prepare ourselves, and which is to open on the 17th of this month. From having been a member of the Secret Committee, and being, therefore, acquainted with the sort of evidence which is in existence against the illustrious inculpated personage, I can have little doubt of what the decision ought to be, and of what it will be in the upper House of Parliament. In the other House no man living can anticipate the result. The members there seem to have already ranged themselves too much as partisans on one side or the other; and the feelings out of doors are likely to have more weight with the representatives of the people than with our Lordships; and certainly the public have conceived no slight repugnance to the prosecution, if it may be called by such a name. All I can say is, that I wish it was well over.

Knowing as I do your kind partiality towards my brother, I was not surprised at the honour which you have done him, by the light in which you were so good as to place him at the late public dinner. Believe me, my dear Lord,

Always and truly yours,


The Rev. James Armstrong to Lord Cloncurry.

Hardwicke-street, Dublin, June 27th, 1832.

“My Lord – The petition, of which the enclosed is a copy, has just been despatched to Lord Plunket, who has kindly undertaken to present it to the House of Lords.

The Presbytery of Dublin, from which it proceeds, seldom intermeddle in political matters. They have been stimulated to the present measure, under the hope that the facts stated in their petition may tend to disabuse the minds of many Protestants in Great Britain of the erroneous notions they entertain on the subject of National education in Ireland.

The Presbytery apprehend that these erroneous impressions, if not corrected, will ultimately frustrate the wise and judicious scheme of education lately devised by his Majesty’s present able, liberal, and enlightened ministry.

The opposition given to this scheme in Ireland is, as your Lordship well knows, only an indication of that political rancour, by which-under the mask, at one time, of exclusive loyalty, and at another, of religious zeal-factious antipathies are kept up in this distracted country, the minds of the populace inflamed, and the peace of society endangered.

The extensive means of information possessed by the Presbytery of Dublin may, perhaps, give weight to their representations on the subject of National Education. Their total freedom from all political bias will give additional value to their testimony.

Your Lordship has so long supported everything liberal and patriotic, that the Presbytery rely with confidence on your Lordship’s advocacy of their petition. I have the honour to be, my Lord, with great respect,

Your Lordship’s faithful servant,

James Armstrong,

Minister of the Presbyterian Church, Strand-street.”

The war between the Bible-forcers and Bible-burners continued to rage with such fury, that it became, at length, evident to all men, that until it should be forcibly quelled, there could be no chance of accomplishing the great object of a general and liberal education of the people. How this was to be done was then an important question; and during the early part of the second viceroyalty of Lord Anglesey it occupied much of the attention of those who enjoyed the honour of his Excellency’s confidence. It was but too plain that the subject of quarrel between the professional disputants on both sides was not popular education, but the disposal of the large grant annually given by parliament for the purpose of affording instruction to the people. The lawyers and parsons of the Kildare-place Society had a vested interest in this money, which the priests and agitators were desirous of superseding. The most obvious expedient for at once removing the bone of contention, and applying the bounty of the public to its proper use, was to place the responsibility of administering the education fund upon the executive government, and to remove all control over it from any self-constituted and irresponsible body.

This plan I pressed upon the attention of Lord Anglesey, and, at length, in 1832, it was adopted. Mr. Stanley was then a member of the cabinet, and so, in reality, a sort of viceroy over the Lord Lieutenant, and he was, at first, much disinclined to the measure. It was, indeed, the subject of an anxious discussion the very night before he left Dublin, to attend parliament, that session. There dined together on the occasion, en petite comité Lord Anglesey, Lord Plunket, Mr. Stanley, Mr. A. R. Blake, and myself; and when we parted, at two o’clock in the morning, it did not seem that the united arguments of the party had produced any effect upon the Chief Secretary. The Church and the Protestants, both of England and Ireland, he said, would not stand the withdrawal of the grant from the Kildare-place Society, and the substitution of a project for united and merely secular education. I presume, nevertheless, that the seed did not fall upon stony ground, as it was but a few weeks afterwards when the plan was broached by Mr. Stanley himself; and during that session, a grant of £30,000 was made “to enable the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to issue money in aid of schools, and for the advancement of education.” It was Lord Anglesey’s desire to place my name at the head of the commission which be appointed to manage the distribution of this fund, an honour which, anxious as I was that as few elements of discord as possible should be introduced into the new system, I thought it prudent to decline. I had been too prominently selected for the attack of the traders in civil strife, So render it likely that they would miss the opportunity of fastening upon my appointment as president of the new Board, as a Protestant grievance; and, accordingly, at my instance, my friend the Duke of Leinster was induced to take the post of danger.

Then began that combined and desperate effort of the extreme factions to obstruct the communication of knowledge to the people, which has continued, though with gradually abating force, even to the present hour. The ultra Churchmen and the ultra Romanists, for a time ceased from that internecine war which they had so long waged against each other, and coalesced in an unholy alliance against enlightenment and civilisation, agencies equally dreaded by both as the most dangerous foes to their respective antagonism to the cause of liberty and human progress. To my mind that noble cause ever has been, and I humbly trust, ever shall be, a sacred one, to have contended for which is my greatest pride, whether the adversary was a Protestant judge or a Roman Catholic prelate.

In so far as the education of the lower classes is concerned it may, I think, now be set down that the victory over bigotry has been achieved. The best disposed and most enlightened ecclesiastics of all the churches have seen that the opposition offered to the National Education system was purely factious, and being persuaded of that, they have, with few exceptions, withdrawn their opposition to the moral and intellectual instruction of the rising generation, apart from the inculcation of the religious duty of hating each other. If the sad truth that men seldom learn how to guide their conduct for the future by experience of the past were not incontrovertible, I should be tempted to point a moral for the edification of my fellow-countrymen, from the history of the rise, progress, and decline of this education war. It is, in fact, so far as the two first stages are concerned, the true type of many another passage in Irish history. It shows the joint organisation, by honest Irishmen of opposite parties, of a project for the regeneration of their common country. It traces the efforts of the extreme sections of both to baffle a scheme, the success of which they well knew would tend to destroy the craft of discord, by which they live. The subtle attempt to corrupt, by the poison of religious strife, that which public opinion would not suffer to be crushed by open force, is there exhibited; and, as the plot thickens, the customary intervention of England to turn the quarrel to use in her own party contests, is manifested to the dullest observer. Fortunately the last stage of this history differs from the normal standard of Irish political tales. The war has been fought out, and peace restored, without a sacrifice of the just cause. Archbishop MacHale and Archbishop Beresford have beaten each other to a stand still, without damaging, by their joint blows, the cause of the education of the people-honoured in it its defence by Archbishop Whateley and Archbishop Murray. Would that the example might be accepted for the guidance of the masses of Irishmen upon every occasion when the interests of Ireland are made the subject of the mock quarrels of demagogues, whether lay or clerical and, as they have ever hitherto been, the sport and the tools of English factionaries.

Chapter XVI.


The First Recall of Lord Anglesey – Reasons assigned by the Duke of Wellington – His Attack upon Myself – Lord Anglesey’s Reply – Ministerial surveillance of Hospitality – Letters from Lord Anglesey – Viceroyalty of the Duke of Northumberland – Unnecessary Irritation of Mr. O’Connell – Its Consequences – Renewal of Party Violence – Lord Anglesey’s Return to Ireland – His Reception and Difficulties – Letters from Lord Anglesey, from Mr. William Murphy, from Mr. George Villiers – My own Difficulties at this Period – The Campaign opened by Mr. O’Connell – His Attempt to force me into Collision with the Lord Lieutenant – Letter from Lord Anglesey – Arrest of Mr. O’Connell – His Arraignment and Escape from Judgement.

I will now take up the thread of my rambling story from the date of the first recall of the Marquis of Anglesey from Ireland-a measure with which I was in some degree connected; at least her Majesty’s ministers did me the honour of framing a special count in their indictment against the noble Marquis, in such manner as to include an attack upon me. On November the 11th, 1828, but a few short months before the Duke of Wellington turned his back upon himself and his old no-Popery friends, his Grace wrote to the Lord Lieutenant in the following terms:-

“I will not conceal from you, likewise, that your visit, and those of my Lord Chancellor, to Lord Cloncurry, and the attendance of Lord Cloncurry at the Roman Catholic Association, immediately subsequent to the period at which he had the honour of receiving the King’s Representative in his house, are not circumstances calculated to give satisfaction to the King, and to the public in general.”

The cause of the visit to the Roman Catholic Association here alluded to I may as well explain; not, of course, that I think such an occurrence requires explanation, but in order to show the quality of the charges which were thought by the emancipating ministry sufficient to justify the insulting dismissal of my noble friend. That visit was, in fact, so far as I recollect, my first and only appearance at the Association, although I had for some time been a contributor to its funds. I went there, then, not in order to make a speech or to show myself, but for the purpose of seeing Messrs. O’Connell and Sheil, in the hope that I might be able to induce them to interfere to prevent certain monster marchings of the peasantry in Tipperary, against which it was thought it would have been necessary to issue a proclamation. I thought I might be able to prevent this necessity by appealing to the good sense and good feeling of those gentlemen; and accordingly, with the privity of Lord Anglesey, I took Mr. W. H. Curran with me to thehouse of Mr. O’Connell, to speak with him on the subject. We failed of seeing him there, and went on to the Association rooms, where I saw Mr. Sheil, who promised to use his influence (which he did successfully) to stop the marchings.

While we were speaking, Mr. O’Connell came in; and as I was going away, he said to me – “While you are here, you may as well come in and see our meeting.” I did so, and being received very cordially by those present, I addressed to them a few words of gratitude, and hope for the success of their cause. This was the head and front of the offending both of Lord Anglesey and myself in this matter; yet, although a full explanation of his communications with me was given by the Lord Lieutenant, in his reply to the letter from which I have just quoted, it was again adverted to in offensive terms by his Grace of Wellington, and was finally disposed of by Lord Anglesey in the following spirited words, which I extract from a letter addressed by him to the Duke, on the 23rd of November:-

“I have little to add (wrote his Excellency) to what I have already said concerning Lord Cloncurry. I believe him to be a loyal subject, a good man, and an exemplary magistrate; and I cannot consent to abandon the exercise of my own discretion in selecting those with whom I may deem it expedient and prudent to hold an intercourse. But even if I were mistaken in the character of my Lord Cloncurry, and that he is not what I suppose him to be, I am sure I shall not be thought arrogant in expressing a conviction that there is something in my own character, and in my well-known devoted and affectionate attachment to the King, which ought to shield me from the imputation of having selected and encouraged as acquaintance those who are ill-affected to his Majesty’s person and government.”

The Chancellor, who was implicated with Lord Anglesey in the grave offence of dining with me, was my late excellent friend, Sir Anthony Hart. I know not whether he got a private share of the rebuke, or whether his judicial position preserved him from the operation of martial law; but I am sure it would not, if the system of espionage had been a little more perfect, and that the fact had been known at head-quarters that Sir Anthony had begged of me to introduce him to the Prime Agitator, and that one of the few occasions upon which Mr. O’Connell dined with me at Lyons was in company with the keeper of the King’s Irish conscience, who was much interested and amused upon the occasion.

I must not omit to mention, however, that the shabby allusion of the Duke of Wellington to the civilities that passed between these distinguished persons and myself was quite of a piece with the system adopted towards me by “the Castle,” when the prevalent influence there was en rapport with his Grace. A curious illustration of the pettiness to which this feeling was carried occurred upon one occasion, when I had received into my house a gentleman who met with a severe accident while hunting in the neighbourhood, and who was obliged by the injuries he had received to remain for some time at Lyons. This gentleman (a brother of Lord Dinorben’s) upon his return to Dublin met Sir Charles Vernon, one of the Castle officials, and was warned by him in a friendly way of the dangerous character of my hospitalities:- “You are taking a bad way of recommending yourself for promotion, Colonel Hughes,” said Sir Charles, “by accepting Lord Cloncurry’s civilities.”

I have reason to believe that it was not for lack of will that the attack made upon me through Lord Anglesey was not renewed, at a subsequent period, apropos to the favour bestowed upon me by the King, in raising me to the peerage in Great Britain. There was, however, so far as I know, no overt act of hostility committed against me by the Duke of Wellington and his associates, and I shall now take leave of the subject; but in doing so, I must not deny myself the pleasure of putting upon record the following letters, having reference to it. Their contents will not surprise any one who had an opportunity of estimating the noble character of the writer:-

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, December 26th, 1828.

“My dear Lord – I ought not to have so long delayed the acknowledgement of your obliging letter of the 21st, and the expression of the high sense I entertain of the delicacy of your conduct in declining to come to my house, lest it might be productive of increased ferment in a quarter which has taken so sinister and so ill-judged a view of our acquaintance.

If I thought that by yielding in some measure even to the prejudices of others I would increase the possible chance of rendering some service to Ireland, I would be ready to make great sacrifices to attain this paramount object; but I feel certain that the very reverse is the fact, and that with those I have to deal, I have no chance whatever of success, if I yield one inch of ground, or am diverted from the straight line I am pursuing.

I entreat you, therefore, my dear Lord, to overcome your patriotic scruples, and that you will believe me to be,

Very faithfully yours3


Should you have any objection to my showing your memoir and letter to the Chancellor and Lord F. Leveson? I am sure both the memoir and the letter do you honour. A.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, May 7th, 1829.

“My dear Lord – When I can get a corrected copy of my speech and explanation of Monday last, I will send it to you; in the meantime, be assured that I have not made out a bad case either for you or for me.

I hope you will take no sort of notice of anything that passed. Your character has been so supported, and stands so clear, and those parts of my speech and statement wherein your name were mentioned was so warmly cheered, that I do not believe you could make it better. Let me hear what you think of it all.

Thank God, my parliamentary and official duties are now over; and I have ascertained beyond a doubt that I am not fit to fight with thorough-paced politicians, so I shall leave them to their dirty work.

I beg my best regards to Lady Cloncurry. My boys are at Westminster. Nothing could keep them from the House that night. It is well they did not rush through, and attack the Duke with their little fists.

Believe me very truly yours,


The interval between Lord Anglesey’s two vice-royalties extended over a period of nearly two years, during which the Duke of Northumberland was at the head of the Irish government. It was a stormy and eventful time. The manner in which relief was granted to Roman Catholics expressly as a concession to violence wrung from the fears, not from the sense of justice of the givers, confirmed the people in their wildest impressions as to their own power; while the contemptible exhibition of personal spite towards Mr. O’Connell, with which it was accompanied, irritated the personal feelings of that gentleman, and of his associate leaders. Accordingly the passing of the Relief Act, instead of proving to be a healing measure, became the signal for the commencement of a new agitation. Mr. O’Connell started from the post. He again offered himself to the electors of the County of Clare immediately after the House of Commons refused to receive him upon the credit of his election prior to the passing of the Relief Act, and his address was at once a song of triumph for his victory over Wellington and Peel, and a declaration of future war to the knife. He said, truly enough, that securities against treachery and perfidy were necessary to protect the Irish people against “the insidious policy of men, who, false to their own party, can never be true to us, and who had yielded not to reason but to necessity.” Such securities he announced his intention to seek in the repeal of the Act for disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders, and of the Subletting Act; in a redistribution of Church property, and a provision of glebes for the Catholic clergy; in parliamentary reform, and in “the introduction of the English system of poor laws.”

It is impossible to read this catalogue of promises without being struck with their obvious character. Two of these measures – the provision for the Catholic clergy and the poor laws – were afterwards violently opposed by Mr. O’Connell, and all of them were manifestly the fruit of the irritation of the moment. It is scarcely possible to doubt that had the Relief Act not been framed with the express design of excluding Mr. O’Connell, [The relief from the necessity of taking the obnoxious oaths, was expressly limited to the case of “any person professing the Roman Catholic religion, who shall after the commencement of this Act be returned as a member of the House of Commons.”] he. would have quietly taken his seat, and if he had not settled down into the ease of the bench of justice, that he would have pursued a course of constitutional exertion for the social and political improvement of Ireland, that must, before long, have received the warm support of every Irishman, and would, in the end, have led to an amended relation between the two kingdoms, satisfactory to every wise and honest Englishman.

The future was, however, differently looked to by Peel and Wellington, and their wisdom resulted in the initiation of a new epoch of distraction and misery which has now endured for 20 years, and is, to all human appearance, but just entered upon. Mr. O’Connell forthwith commenced his new career, and coincidently with his commencement, the Protestant party, deceived and betrayed by those whom they had served to the destruction of the real foundations of their own prosperity, regirt themselves for a further struggle in the cause of civil discord.

A revival of the Orange Lodges was begun and pushed forward under the stimulation of a few leaders, whose traffic in the liberties and welfare of their country had been put an end to by the recent revolution, and who, a few years later, when they failed in their attempt to re-establish their oligarchy, again basely betrayed those whom they had thus driven into the miseries of a hopeless and aimless civil war.

The latter part of the year 1829, and the whole of 1830, were miserably distinguished by the party conflicts, outrages, and agitations, which were the necessary concomitants of the position of affairs I have endeavoured to describe. To the government of the country thus torn and convulsed, Lord Anglesey was again called in December of the latter year. To every sincere and unbiassed friend of Ireland, this event was a source of unalloyed gratification. It was known that his Lordship’s mind had received the most favourable impressions of the case of the Irish people, that he had never ceased, during his absence, to fool the deepest interest in their concerns, and that he was now likely to possess the power of carrying out his good intentions, which had been wanting to him during his first viceroyalty, when he was the colleague of a Tory government. That power he would not only have possessed, but have successfully exercised for the good of Ireland, had the leaders of the Irish people not preferred the pleasure and profits of agitation to the attainment of the legitimate end of all political agitation, the substantial improvement of the country.

It was an unquestionable fact that, even under the most liberal English government, a governor of Ireland must have many difficulties to contend with in entering upon a liberal course of Irish policy. The extraordinary ignorance of any feelings but English feelings, which usually impedes the progress of British statesmen beyond their domestic circle of politics – the vast difference of character and circumstances between the Irish people, both aboriginal and colonial, and the English, which makes that ignorance the occasion of grave political errors in the government of Ireland-the old and fixed habit of conducting that government by the agency of a faction-the circumstance that it was the unalterable custom to incarnate all these difficulties in the person of a Chief Secretary holding political opinions opposite to those of his chief – all these facts demanded from the Irish people, not merely forbearance, but an active support to a Lord Lieutenant, who, like Lord Anglesey, had pledged himself (and been martyred for his fidelity to his pledge) to do justice to those whom he had undertaken to govern in the name of his and their sovereign. Nevertheless, neither support nor forbearance wore accorded to Lord Anglesey. From the moment when it was known that he was re-appointed, ho was treated by the demagogues as an enemy, and the extraordinary progress in liberalism made during his Lieutenancy must, in candour, be set down to the account of his courage and perseverance in fighting the cause of the people against both themselves and their enemies.

The following, letters will be interesting as illustrating the view I have just taken of the relations between Lord Anglesey and the Irish leaders and people, at the period to which I refer, as well as from the expression in them of certain opinions of the former upon the character and causes of passing events:-

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, June 14th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – Although I am ill able to write, and particularly upon anything like business, still I cannot resist sending the inclosed.

I cannot enter into particulars, but send you the pamphlets – some specimens of the plant [New Zealand flax], and of articles made from it; and also two plants, which I hope will arrive safe.

If you judge right, you will present them to the Board from me, or if not, you will, perhaps, try them yourself.

You see I am always interested about Ireland, and wish I could give it better help; but, alas! I have not been able. I have been, and am very ill, and have been obliged to turn all the petitions with which I have been charged over to other Lords to present.

Let not them think that I neglect them. With kindest regards to Lady Cloncurry, in which Lady Anglesey cordially joins. Ever, my dear Lord, most truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Cowes, August 10th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – The writer of the enclosed desires me to give a letter of introduction to you, and the best thing I can do is to forward his letter, stating, at the same time, that I know nothing of him.

I congratulate you, and all liberal minds, upon the glorious conduct of the French nation. They have wisely profited by the severe lessons they have received, and by their firmness and moderation are proving that they are deserving of liberty. We arc going on strangely, and from having been the leading power of Europe, with all eyes upon us, to take the tone from us, are now hated and despised by the whole Continent – ay, and, I fear, by the other Continent also.

If we persevere much longer in our old habits, and do not turn over a new leaf, and reform whilst we yet may, through the medium of moderate and honest men, I fear that reform may come from quarters that will not accomplish it in the manner that the real lovers of their country would wish.

Some time ago I ordered half a buck to be sent to you. It happened that they sent me the remainder of the beast, which arrived in such a state, that it was immediately buried. If you had the same bad luck, let me know, that I may replace it when the weather becomes cooler. Lady Anglesey and my children join with we in kind remembrances and best wishes to you and Lady Cloncurry.

I have not suffered pain since I left London about five weeks ago. At this moment I have a desperate attack of lumbago, but that is such a trifle, compared with other sufferings, that I do not mind it. Believe me, my dear Lord,

Very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Beaudesert, September 9th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I am glad you have crossed the water, and I hope I shall profit by it. You are at no great distance, and we shall all rejoice to see you and Lady Cloncurry

Your letter in regard to politics, both internal and external, is as if you had heard me descant upon those matters, and had wished to flatter my vanity by a coincident opinion-we agree to a very trifle. The whole of Europe is in a state of excitement and commotion I do not even exclude Russia. If monarchs and governors act with liberality, discretion, and decision-if they will open their eyes to the real state of general knowledge and of public feeling, and go with, or, what would be better, anticipate public expectation-all may go well, and mankind may make a very rapid stride towards happiness and prosperity. But if the reverse is the case-it instead of bending with a good grace to circumstances which they cannot control, they attempt to persevere in the old pernicious courses, there will be an universal crash, and few states, it any, will escape the general wreck. He who first begins to reform is the wisest man, and, in my opinion, there is not much room for delay. 1 want reform, temperate, but deep and general, and not the least reason for wanting it is, that I prefer the monarchical state, and am an aristocrat. But then aristocracy wants reform, for I believe it to be the most powerful of the three estates, and what I take to be right is, that the three should balance each other, or what I ought rather to say, that no one of the three should be too powerful for the other two.

We must contrive to get a government that shall rule by public, opinion and the confidence of the people, and that shall at once, and manfully, cease to carry on their measures by the power of patronage, influence, and intrigue.

We must look all our difficulties and dangers in the face, and pay our debt and support our necessary establishments by a total alteration in taxation, and in the method of collecting an adequate revenue.

All this I firmly believe to be practicable; hut where is the man who has the nerve and vigour to undertake it? I know him not, nor do I know any one who would take upon him the unpleasant task of proving to our King, that by such a course alone he and our constitution may be saved.

I do not believe our present premier is equal to all this; and I do not believe he would establish such an order of things, even if he could.

He is losing ground in public opinion; and he has made it apparent that no good measure ever emanates from him, but that whatever of good is adopted, has always been forced upon him. For my part I know not where to look for an able and an honest leader. There is no one that appears inclined to take that happy middle course which is alone safe.

I am inclined to think that our best liberals of high character and name, are not prepared to go deep enough to get at the seats of the sore or grievance. They shrink from the difficulty of attempting to govern without patronage to support them, whereas, it appears to me, that in proportion as patronage formerly gave power, it will now (or very soon will), totally destroy it. Now, if we cannot get men of high character and independence to carry on the necessary reforms, we shall, in a certain time, perhaps very soon, find some gentlemen who will be less scrupulous, and who will not hesitate to pull the old building about our ears.

When I began I did not mean to dissert upon politics – I only meant to engage you to come here. I will now leave you, and when you come we will resume the subject. but I will not leave you so long in error upon one point of your letter. You express a wish to see me in my place in parliament, and taking an active part.

First, I sadly fear my health will not permit it; but next, if it did, I do assure you I am wholly unequal to what you propose. Nothing is to be done in this country without a certain share of oratory – I have not a grain of it – I have no facility of expressing myself – the thing does not come naturally to me. When I have been forced to utter, it has always been in misery and in distrust of myself, and that will not do – I am too old to mend.

No! – my best chance is gone by. When amongst you all in Ireland, I felt at home, and, as if I might be useful; bat you may be assured that I cannot be so in the House of Lords.

Pray let me hear that you decide upon coming here; and believe me, my dear Lord, very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, November 7th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – Here I am in fine hot water. The Grangegorman petition is entrusted to me, with a request that I would advocate the Repeal of the Union; and by the same post I get a letter from the secretary of the Leinster meeting, desiring me to make known my sentiments upon the question, which would have an overpowering influence over the minds of all classes, &c. &c. &c. A pleasant dilemma this!!!

Well, after having well weighed everything-after having read over and over again all your letters upon the subject – after having (contrary to usual practice) solicited the opinions of those who I thought were most likely to he adverse to my bias, I made up my mind, and have by this post written an answer to Mr. Kertland, chairman, in which I make known my opinion upon the question; and in answer to Mr. Murphy, secretary to the Duke of Leinster’s meeting, I shall send a copy of that letter; and thus my opinion, humble as it is, will be known all over Ireland, and Dien scait ce qui en arrivera. Whatever that may be, I shall have the consolation of feeling that I have given an honest and a very deliberate opinion; and if I could by it make any impression upon you, I should be superlatively happy, for there is no man in Ireland on whose opinion I set so high a value.

I have talked it all over with Holland; and you don’t know how anxious he is that you should discourage any agitation of the question. So is Lord Grey.

I should like you to see the correspondence, but I really have not time to copy it.

I dare say you could get it from Mr. Kertland, and probably from Mahony, to whom I write what I have done.

My dear boy is going on famously. I am very tottering.

The ministers are done. It is impossible they can stand.

I am pressing hard for a good, sound, liberal reform, and have persuaded many; and if we can get a good, honest, and liberal government, we must try to do better for Ireland than in allowing her to separate from us. Let me hear much and often from you. With best regards to Lady Cloncurry,

Very truly yours,


P.S. – The ministers have decided that the King shall not go to the Lord Mayor’s dinner: If that does not dish them, I do not know what will. They must go!

Do see Mahony and my letter instantly.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

November 13th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I enclose what I said last night. It is only worth recording inasmuch as it will show that I am alive to all Irish interests, and I do not think it will come amiss, after my anti-Union (or rather my anti-anti-Union) letter. Perhaps you will have the goodness to get it put in the papers amongst the parliamentary reports, lest a bad version should creep in. So pray take the trouble (if you approve) to send it without loss of a day.

More from me in a day or two. I suspect the Duke is not beat yet. Truly yours, A.

I am in such haste that I have not time to read over.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, November 18th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I know you will be glad to hear that I return to you. I would have written it two days ago, but was afraid of the Post-office, and did not like to have the report prematurely propagated.

I have been disappointed in not having heard your opinion of my letter to the Repeal petitioners, and also of what I said and sent to you for publication (if you approved) of the speech respecting the Kildare-place Society. Alas! I am nervous about Ireland, for I know you will expect more than man can do; but whatever zeal and truth can effect, you shall have from me. I have little more to give.

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge House, November 27th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – Many thanks for your several letters. The die is cast, and I am to resume my post amongst you. I know you regret it on my own account, and so must every true friend of mine; but, called upon as I was, I could not bring myself to shrink from difficulty in time of need; and I shall buckle to with all my zeal, but, alas! with a very moderate share of health.

I see the Freeman and some others have already begun upon me. When they criticise facts it is fair enough, and I never complain; but they ought not to put forth falsehoods, and then argue upon them as facts.

I am said to have made a point of retaining D— that is false; I had nothing to do with it. I was merely asked if I had any objection to his retaining his office. I said, ” None.” I am stated to have recommended M— to replace G—: that, too, is false. I stipulated that G— should go; but I shall appoint a very different man from M— as G—‘s successor.

But there is no use in enlarging upon these facts, and in complaining of misrepresentations. I shall steadily go on upon my old plan of hearing all parties, and being the tool of none. I shall do what I conscientiously believe to be best for the country, and leave the event and the issue to the Supreme Disposer of all things. With all these threatenings I nevertheless do not totally despair of controlling the angry spirits, and even the arch spirit; for the entertaining of which hope I am thought very weak.

You are so kind as to ask how I shall like to make my entry. I will tell you how, health permitting, I mean to dispose of myself; and I must leave the rest to the good people amongst whom I am going. I intend to land at Kingstown, and, as is usual with me whenever I am able, to mount my horse; but this must depend upon health and weather. I would not for the world have anything got up, as it is termed, for me. Those who will be glad to see me will, probably, come and tell me so. Those whom I do not suit will stay away, or being present, will mark their displeasure. I shall delight in the one; I shall bear with patience the other. I go with but one object – the good of Ireland.

I am not sanguine of success, because she appears to be still destined to be torn to pieces by factions (and there appears to me to be now one more than I left); but still I do not quite despair, for if I meet with fair play if the conduct of the ill-disposed does not force forward measures of rigour-there is a growing spirit amongst public men to set a higher value upon Ireland than has been heretofore shown, and a determination on my part, on the part of the new Secretary (as, indeed, there was on the part of the late one), and also on that part of the government which is connected with the affairs of Ireland, to attend to her interests, and not to allow, year after year, the recommendations of the several Committees to lie on the shelves as a dead letter.

I meant to write a short letter. Here I am in my third sheet. I will only add, that I shall often suck your brain, although I feel it will be quite impossible ever to realise the delightful results contemplated by your sanguine mind. My first anxiety is to tranquillise the old ascendancy. They must never rule again; but they shall never be insulted by me. I am sure you know and approve my intentions, so it is needless to amplify.

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.


Uxbridge House, December 8th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – There is, I trust, nothing in the law arrangements that will not give you satisfaction, excepting only the retirement of our dear and excellent friend Hart. It grieves me to lose him. I have a sincere regard (I can well call it affection) for him. I never knew a more upright, single-hearted man. I know how much you will regret him; but circumstances made it very desirable to accomplish the distribution of parts that has been made.

I had intended to be with you by the 20th or the 23rd; but I now almost doubt if I shall not delay my appearance until the 1st of January. What think you of my being ushered in by the new year, when we will turn over a new leaf? Have you a choice? Give me a line by return of post, to say how all is going on. My ladies appear determined to precede me by a day or two. I tell them they may be disappointed, but they seem inclined to take their chance. Tell me what you think of the new appointments. I wrote yesterday to G— to announce his fate. With best regards to Lady Cloncurry, be]ieve me,

Very truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Uxbridge Home, December 15th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I mean to be at Beaudesert during Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, the 20th, I sleep at Krenioge; on Tuesday, at Holyhead; on Wednesday, I cross and sleep on board the yacht at Kingstown; and on Thursday the 23rd, I proceed to Dublin.

O’Connell is my avant courier. He starts to-day with more mischief in hand than I have yet seen him charged with. I saw him yesterday for an hour and a-half. I made no impression upon him whatever; and I am now thoroughly convinced that he is bent upon desperate agitation. All this will produce no change in my course and conduct.

For the love of Ireland I deprecate agitation. I know it is the only thing that can prevent her from prospering; for there is in this country a growing spirit to take Ireland by the hand, and a determination not to neglect her and her interests; therefore I pray for peace and repose. But if the sword is really to be drawn, and with it the scabbard is to be thrown away – if I, who have suffered so much for her, am to become a suspected character, and to be treated as an enemy – if; for the protection of the State, I am driven to the dire necessity of again turning soldier, why then I must endeavour to get back into old habits, and live amongst a people I love in a state of misery and distress.

My course is decided upon. I shall land, and proceed exactly in the way I did upon a former occasion.

Your offer about Maretimo is most kind; hut I have discouraged my daughters from preceding me, and they will probably not reach Dublin until the following week. Best regards to Lady Cloncurry, and

Very truly yours, in much haste,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Beaudesert, Dec. 19th, 1830.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – Many thanks for your friendly letter. I am perfectly prepared for the worst that may happen, and shall present myself amongst you in all the consciousness of not deserving unkindness, whatever may be my lot; for if ever there was a sacrifice made for the benevolent intention of conferring a public benefit, I am making such a sacrifice. It seems, however, that I have miscalculated my means, and consequently the public, as well as myself; must suffer for the indiscretion. But there is no use in running on thus. It seems that I have “set my life upon a cast, and I must stand the hazard of the die!” This is not obstinacy; it is a fatality. The thing was inevitable, believe me.

I have had various kind and even affectionate letters, warning me of what I may expect, and suggesting to me the landing where I am not expected, and proceeding quietly and secretly to Dublin. They might just as well propose to me to consent to mount a balloon, for the purpose of seeking the moon! No! no! I will land at Kingstown, and will proceed unostentatiously to the Castle. Had there been the sort of reception decided upon, that you expected only a few days ago, I should of course have mounted my horse at Ball’s Bridge, and have endeavoured to show the most marked sensations of gratitude and of high sensibility for a people who loved me. As public opinion has taken another course, I must adapt my conduct to the altered circumstances. If (as I imagine is the practice) any of the authorities – the Privy Council, for instance – are to meet me, they will get into my carriage, and we shall proceed together in the old jog-trot way.

What I insist upon is this (and I charge you, my dear Lord, very particularly upon the subject) – let no friend of mine come forward, and mix himself up with my unpopularity (what a term for me to make use of amongst Irishmen!!!) Let me alone. I shall like to meet their hostile ebullitions alone and unattended. Even my curiosity is excited. I am anxious to see the thing. It will be curious enough to contrast the first days of 1829 with the last days of 1830 – and the whole change of sentiment to be upon the plea of a solitary law appointment! Amazing! Yet such is human nature.

But I have done. In three words you will understand me. My particular desire is, neither to attract notice, nor to avoid it; and most particularly, that not one single friend shall put himself forward to share with me the fortunes of the day; and, therefore, my dear good Lord, stay at home, and you shall hear that I am not less patient and enduring with a hostile and deluded people, than I am feelingly alive to the cheers of an affectionate one.

Ever yours,


William Murphy, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Mount-Merrion, Wednesday Evening, 22nd December.

“My dear Lord – Knowing how very anxious your Lordship and Lady Cloncurry are about the reception your friend Lord Anglesey may meet with tomorrow, I am rejoiced to tell your Lordship that there will be a most numerous and highly respectable attendance of citizens in Kingstown on the occasion, such as to afford the highest gratification to the Marquis. I have given up my entire attention to this affair since I went to town, though I could not have met O’Connell. I have the honour to be, most respectfully,

Your Lordship’s most obedient and humble servant,

Wm. Murphy.”

The Hon. G. Villiers (Earl of Clarendon) to Lord Cloncurry.

(The commencement of this letter has been lost.)

” . . . converted into party purposes by a certain set that I could almost regret any triumphal entry for Lord A. There are many people, for many causes, who would be interested in misusing such an occasion.

The present Government has I am certain better and more honest intentions than any we have ever seen; but this is an awful moment-a trial of strength between those who have something and those who have nothing; anti I should like to see the government wrap themselves up in their integrity, and assume a high tone. Last night I thought damaging to them in the House of Commons. The fault-finders were numerous, noisy, and, upon the whole, victorious. We have a murky horizon, and I don’t exactly see the point from which the blue sky proposes to itself to break.

Should you, after Lord A.’s arrival, have five minutes to throw away upon me, I should be very thankful. May I beg my best remembrances to Lady Cloncurry, and that you will always believe me,

Most faithfully and sincerely yours,

George Villiers.”

Notwithstanding the threatening indications disclosed in the foregoing communications, the reception actually given to Lord Anglesey was far from being so unworthy of his merits, or so disgraceful to the people, as the fears of the best friends of the latter led them to anticipate. Mr. O’Connell kept out of the way; but a numerous and respectable assemblage of citizens accompanied his Excellency from Kingstown to Dublin Castle; and I need scarcely say that I did not feel bound to follow the generous advice pressed upon me in one of the letters above cited, that I should keep out of harm’s way, by avoiding a public expression of my respect and sympathy for my noble friend. Lord Howth and I rode at the head of the procession. The crowd confined the expression of the mischief with which they had been charged to a few groans for “Dirty Doherty,” whose promotion to the chief scat in the Court of Common Pleas was the alleged offence of Lord Anglesey.

The three years that followed Lord Anglesey’s return to Ireland, though full of excitement and action, were to me the most unhappy I had passed since my release from the Tower. I have already mentioned the terms of confidence upon which his Excellency admitted me to his friendship during his first viceroyalty. These were again re-established between us; and in the new position of antagonism to the demagogues, and, through their contrivance, apparently to the people, in which he was now placed, my situation was rendered anything but pleasant. Every party was at war with me; and a large party engaged in operations equally opposed to my comfort, by pressing me to exercise in their favour the influence which they thought I possessed. The assaults of my old foes, the Protestant-ascendancy men, I could easily forgive ; indeed, they were infinitely less virulent than the attacks of the patriots, and a vast deal more agreeable than the solicitations of the placehunters. These two latter classes began by expecting impossibilities, and the first of them ended by adopting a course which rendered possibilities impracticable. The whole three joined in actively, and but too often successfully, counteracting efforts (in which I was the humble assistant of the Lord Lieutenant) made to relieve his Excellency from the restrictions imposed upon him, not less by the cabinet with which he was acting, than by the officials (co-ordinate and subordinate) of his own administration.

It was scarcely a week after the arrival of Lord Anglesey when Mr. O’Connell opened the campaign. A meeting of the trades of Dublin had been arranged to assemble at Phibsborough, on the 27th of December, and to march in procession through the city, to the house of Mr. O’Connell, in Merrion-square, there to present him with an address of thanks for his advocacy of the Repeal of the Union. Sworn informations were laid before the Lord Lieutenant, to the effect that serious disturbances were likely to be occasioned by this proceeding, and accordingly, on Christmas Day (two days after his Excellency’s landing) a proclamation, forbidding the meeting and procession, was issued, under the authority of the recently-passed “Act for the Suppression of Dangerous Associations or Assemblies.” The meeting was thereupon countermanded by Mr. O’Connell, multum gemens; but it was at the same time determined to put a test to me which it was hoped would have had the effect of forcing rue into the desired premature collision with the government.

On the 4th of January, 1831, a deputation of three persons, appointed by Mr. O’Connell for the purpose, waited formally upon me, to “inquire whether I would preside over a meeting of Irishmen to petition for the Repeal of the Union.” My sentiments on the subject of the Union were well known to all my fellow-citizens and to the Lord Lieutenant not less than to them: they were, as they are now, entirely in favour of a legislative separation between the two kingdoms; but while I firmly held that opinion, I was at the same time fully satisfied of the honesty of Lord Anglesey’s intentions, and of his sincere desire to bring forward comprehensive measures for the advancement of the interests of Ireland.

I am free to confess that I then doubted upon a point in reference to which I am now convinced. I doubted, in 1831, that it would be possible to restore self-confidence to the Irish people, without throwing them upon their own resources for government and for social improvement; and I knew that without self-confidence a nation can neither be free nor prosperous. I am now, in 1849, convinced that neither peace nor prosperity can ever exist in Ireland so long as she, being a nation physically and morally separate, and incapable, in the nature of things, of amalgamation with any other, shall continue in degrading submission to the blows, and in still more degrading acceptance of the alms, of England.

But the nearer my own doubts approached to convictions, the more anxious was I that the candid mind of Lord Anglesey should be permitted to investigate the whole case of the two kingdoms, undisturbed and in that spirit of kindness and friendship towards Ireland which I knew influenced it. I therefore replied to the ambassadors of Mr. O’Connell that I regretted not having been at home when they called upon me, in order that I might have had an opportunity of fully explaining my reasons for declining to comply with their request; that I did not think “I should act fairly by my Sovereign, his ministers, and, above all, by my country, if I did not adhere to my determination, already expressed, of hearing patiently and respectfully the intentions of Government towards this country and their proposed plans for our relief, in this their first parliament, before doing anything to add to the embarrassment and difficulty of their situation – an embarrassment not of their own creation, but brought on by others, to whom they have hitherto been in uniform opposition. This opinion,” I continued, “has been confirmed by communication with the excellent, steady, well-informed, thinking patriots, with whom I have been so long in the habit of acting and consulting, and by a desire neither to be deceived, nor to be inconsistent or unreasonable.”

Those who knew Mr. O’Connell, and recollect what, a creature of impulse he was – how impatiently he bore with any difference from his opinions, and what a storm was the first burst of his wrath, will not wonder at what followed. Three very long letters were immediately issued, specially devoted to the business of vituperating me; but with ample digressions maledictory of Lord Anglesey. I was “a renegade,” “an aristocrat born and bred,” “a thinking patriot;” it was a matter of doubt whether my heart was “of stone or a human heart,” and, worse than all I was the friend of “Algerine Anglesey;” who, in the meantime, was thinking of those effusions in the spirit indicated in the following note:-

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Castle, January 15th 1831.

“My dear Lord – Do tell me if you think the enclosed may be advantageous; it strikes me that it will. If you encourage me, I would be patron and subscriber- say £100; would that be enough? Do pray let me have some talk with you before you answer O’Connell. I have read the second letter. I think you might settle the question at once, and so completely allay the public agitation, without deviating from your former opinions (which were only contingent), that you might save OUR country.

Always truly yours,


Pray return the enclosures directly.”

A few days afterwards, however, the fever was brought to a crisis by the arrest of Mr. O’Connell and his agitation staff, after a brisk pursuit through a labyrinth of ingenious devices whereby he sought to evade the law, in the course of which it was found necessary to discharge five or six proclamations against him. The chase must have been an exciting one to those engaged in it, and would have been amusing to by-standers, did it not assume a character of ludicrous absurdity in the eyes of the world, that rendered it impossible for an Irishman who loved his country, to look upon it without sorrow and humiliation. To-day Mr. O’Connell’s audience and claqueurs were termed ” The Society of the Friends of Ireland of all Religions Persuasions,” to-morrow they were ” The General Association of Ireland for the Prevention of Unlawful Meetings, and for the Protection and Exercise of the Sacred Right of Petitioning for the Redress of Grievances.” Then, again, they were a nameless “Body of Persons in the Habit of Meeting Weekly at a place called Home’s Hotel;” and as the hunt continued, they successively escaped from each daily proclamation, under the changing appellations of “The Irish Society for Legal and Legislative Relief; or, the Anti-Union Association,” “The Association of Irish Volunteers for the Repeal of the Union,” “The Subscribers to the Parliamentary Intelligence Office, Stephen-street,” until, finally, they were fairly run down at a breakfast-party in Hayes’ hotel.

In the meleé, the last blow was given to a really useful ” Society for the Improvement of Ireland,” which, however, the fatal patronage of Mr. O’Connell had some time previously brought into a dying condition. It had been working beneficially for the physical amelioration of the country and people, under the guidance of some of the best men in the country; but as soon as it began to assume the appearance of influence and prosperity, Mr. O’Connell came in with a tail of followers to endeavour to turn it to his purpose of political agitation, and it was finally broken up in the beginning of the year 1831.

The collision to which I have just referred, produced a personal estrangement between Mr. O’Connell and myself which continued for three or four years. It did not, however, prevent the occurrence of a warm altercation between the Attorney-General (now Chief Justice) Blackburne, and me, upon his account. When he was brought to trial under the Proclamation (or, as he called it, the Algerine) Act, he pleaded guilty; but the term at which, in the ordinary course, he should have been brought up for judgment did not arrive until within a month or two of the expiration of the statute, and then I strongly urged upon Lord Anglesey the prudence of allowing him to escape, as the nominal infliction of a punishment which could only endure for a few weeks, would only have the appearance of impotent malice; and while it might have created dangerous popular excitement, would but have added to his exasperation, and have given him a triumph upon the event of his liberation that must so speedily follow. Mr. Blackburne thought differently, and the dispute ran so high that Lord Anglesey thought it necessary to pledge both of us to proceed no farther in the matter. I am not aware that this circumstance ever came to Mr. O’Connell’s knowledge.

Chapter XVII.


Renewed Agitations and Party Struggles – The Parliamentary Reform Question – Negociations for a Peace with Mr. O’Connell – Letters; from Mr. O’Mara, from Mr. O’Connell – Memorandum by the Earl of Meath – Mr. O’Connell re-opens his Campaign – Letter from Mr. O’Mara – Subsequent Reconciliation with Mr. O’Connell – Letters; from Mr. O’Connell, from Mr. Wm. Murphy, from Lord Anglesey – Manly Struggles of the Lord Lieutenant – Letters from him – Termination of Lord Anglesey’s Second Viceroyalty -His Intercepted Letter to Lord Grey – His Irish Policy – Letters; from Mr. Littleton, from Lord Anglesey – Created an English Peer – Letters; from Myself; from the Duke of Leinster; from Mr. George Villiers.

The mischief with which (to use Lord Anglesey’s expression) Mr. O’Connell was charged when he set out for Ireland to prepare a reception for the Noble Marquis, in December, 1830, exploded with a vengeance in the ensuing year. During it the Anti-Tithe, and Repeal, and half a dozen other agitations, reached their highest stages; and the miserable scenes of Newtown-Barry, Castle-Pollard, and Carrickshock were enacted. On the other side, there was no want of an equally violent reaction. The Tory lords and squires saw the miserable advantage afforded them by the imprudence of their emancipated serfs, and they lost no time in employing it in an endeavour to regain their former power. Great Protestant meetings were held, and it was determined by the leaders that they would rejoin the Orange Association, even at the expense of lowering their dignity by an alliance with the middle and lower classes of Protestants, without whose assistance they were fully sensible that they could do nothing.

These latter took the bait, and forgetting how often they had been sold by their aristocratic allies, they not only declared for a renewal of that struggle for ascendancy which had ruined their common country, but consented to allow themselves, their votes and interest, to be handed over to the anti-Reformers of England, as a consideration for the support by that party of the objects of the Irish Tory leaders. Parliamentary reform thus became converted into an Irish religious question, without, I believe, the mass of the people caring much about it in its civil aspect.

The Roman Catholic masses shouted for Reform, because it was denounced by their old oppressors. The Protestant tradesmen, shopkeepers, and small gentry clamoured and voted against it for the equally valid reason that it was supported by Daniel O’Connell and his tail, never reflecting that they who lived in the country; who throve in its prosperity, and suffered in its distress, who could not bring it to market for a ribbon, or a title, or a commissionership – that they were the parties most interested in securing for Ireland a fair share of influence in the imperial legislature.

This position of affairs much impeded the stable settlement of the Reform question, in so far as related to Ireland. It prevented ‘at the time the obtaining of the best terms that might have been obtained, and it left behind it a new party division among Irishmen, that has contributed much to hold them in that position of subserviency to England, into which a similar cause – the split upon parliamentary reform-plunged them on the very morrow of the birth of the Irish nation, in 1782. For my part, having seen, as I had, the mischiefs of a corrupted and narrow representative system, I threw myself zealously into the reform movement; and, in the hope of advancing it, listened with pleasure to a proposition for peace with Mr. O’Connell, made to me through a neighbour of mine and a relation of his, the particulars of which, though in the end it came to nothing, are worth reading, as throwing some light upon the character of that extraordinary man. The story will be best told in the words of the correspondence that took place upon the occasion:-

T. O’Mara, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

[Mr. O’Mara was a well-known solicitor, whose warlike habits caused his services to be much sought for at contested elections. A story was told of him in reference to one of those occasions, which, if not vrai, was generally supposed to be vraisembleble. When his principal remonstrated with him upon the serenity of temper with which he endured certain exhibitions of zeal on the part of the opposing agent, “Excuse me,” said Mr. O’Mara, “your fee wasn’t a fighting one.”]

Dublin, 20th January, 1531.

“My good Lord – I think I may say, with Dan, that the fate of the country is in your hands.

Lord Meath called at Lisaniskea this morning; and after the interview with him, I put all forms on one side, and went to Dan, who has agreed to act in conformity with the wishes of Lord Meath and your Lordship, and has pledged himself to me to that effect. After seeing Dan, I went to Lord Meath, and told him, who seemed delighted with the prospects of peace, and desired I should instantly write to your Lordship; and desired me to say that he would meet your Lordship and Dan any day most your convenience, at Lisaniskea. I promised to let him hear from me as soon as I heard from your Lordship. I have the honour to be,

Your Lordship’s faithful servant,

T. O’Mara.”

Daniel O’Connell, Esq., to T. O’Mara, Esq.

22nd January, 1831.

“My dear O’Mara – I do most anxiously wish to confer with Lords Meath and Cloncurry on the present awful position of public affairs, and the possibility of calming the public mind. I would wish that this desire of mine should be communicated to their Lordships in the manner most respectful to them both, and to each of them individually.

I have had a communication with a person in the confidence of the ministry, in England, but whose name I cannot disclose, who states distinctly, that all the ministry desire is to postpone the Union question, until those of reform, abolition of corporate monopoly, and reformation of Church abuses, are disposed of – thus leaving “the Union” for the last.

I think this may be done by Lord Cloncurry and Lord Meath, in such a manner as to carry with them, the public mind, preserving only just so much, or rather so little, of popular agitation, as would continue the confidence of the people in the prospect of legitimate redress; such prospect being, in my mind, the only mode of preventing violence and outrage, and probable rebellion. I think that Lords Meath and Cloncurry are the only persons in Ireland who can certainly save us all from scenes too horrible to be thought of but which will be accelerated by shutting the eyes to their imminent and approaching danger.

I would wish respectfully to offer my assistance to Lords Cloncurry and Meath: they should have that assistance cordially and sincerely. I would either appear prominent, or stay in the background, precisely as they wished. I would either agitate with them, or leave the entire and exclusive management of the necessary quantity of salutary agitation to them. I think I could give them much aid; and I am, most desirous of throwing into their hands the full direction of all the influence which I may possess, whatever that be. In short, I would desire to converse with them on these subjects; and if I be wrong in any of my views of the present position of affairs in Ireland, there are no men living whose mature judgments would have more influence over mine. I would also be glad to communicate to them all the facts that have come to my knowledge respecting the state of popular feeling.

In fine, I am deeply convinced that Lords Meath and Cloncurry have it in their power to put themselves at the head of the popular party in Ireland, and to do more good to the country, and prevent more evil, than any two persons ever had before.

I need not add that no part of this correspondence, nor any communication that may follow, shall ever be disclosed, save by their directions; it being understood that an honourable secrecy is the basis of our meeting.

I am yours very faithfully,

Daniel O’Connell.”

T. O’Mara, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Lis-an-Iskea, Monday night, 24th Jan.

“My good Lord – Maurice O’Connell mistook his father’s message yesterday.

I saw O’Connell this day, who desired me inform you, that you may keep the letter as long as you like.

I never witnessed anything so turbulent and angry as the populace were in Dublin this day – not even in the height of ’98.

Let what will come, my highly-valued countryman, while I can draw a sword or a trigger, you will find me

Your attached faithful friend,

T. O’Mara.”

Daniel O’Connell, Esq. to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, 25th January, 1831.

“My Lord – I heard yesterday with much regret that Mr. O’Mara totally mistook the meaning of a verbal message which I sent him, and, in consequence of that mistake, called on your Lordship to return the letter I addressed to him nominally, but to you and Lord Meath really. That letter I made your property, and, of course, could not reclaim it – heaven knows it would be but little worth my while to trouble you about it.

The demand of Mr. O’Mara having arisen from a mere mistake-you are at liberty to do anything or nothing with the letter as your own judgment dictates.

I gladly avail myself of this opportunity to assure you of the pride and pleasure I feel at being again able to address you, and to assure you, that I am, with great respect, my Lord,

Your very faithful and obedient servant,

Daniel O’Connell.”

Memorandum by the Earl of Meath.

“Some time previous to the 22nd January last, a particular friend and relative of Mr. O’Connell called on me and stated, that he, O’Connell, was most anxious to have a communication with Lord Cloncurry and me, and to put himself entirely under our advice and direction as to the conduct he should pursue under existing circumstances; he further stated that he conceived, that by our not declining to meet Mr. O’Connell, we should have it in our power to put a stop to the evils which threatened, and that we should be instrumental in saving the country; he also asked me whether I was likely soon to see the Lord Lieutenant, as he thought that if his Excellency knew that such a meeting was to take place, it might have the effect of suspending any harsh proceeding which might make Mr. O’Connell the less inclined to follow any suggestions that might come from us.

After a consultation on the subject with some friends, Lord Cloncurry and I agreed to comply with Mr. O’Connell’s request, and, accordingly, fixed to meet him at Lord Cloncurry’s house, on the 22nd of January, having previously requested of his friend to get Mr. O’Connell to put in writing what the object of the meeting was to be – this Mr. O’Connell did (see his letter). We then met him, and after much conversation, in which Mr. O’Connell gave us to understand that he was anxious to cease all agitation (being much alarmed for the state of the country), and stated that he had received a letter from a person high in the confidence of ministers, declaring their determination to do everything required for Ireland this session, short of a Repeal of the Union, provided he (O’Connell) would give up the question for the present; he, therefore, proposed to Lord Cloncurry and me, that he should give up all agitation, and to use his influence to allay the present ferment, provided we would join the Society for the Improvement of Ireland, and discuss political subjects therein, especially the reform question, the abolition of corporations, and the new application of the temporalities of the Church, not interfering with present incumbents; also, that we should promote county reform meetings, and that we should pledge ourselves to the future support of the Repeal; we, of course, declined entering into any such engagement; a proposal was then made to him, that he should sign a certain paper drawn up by us; he said, that his signing it would have no earthly effect, and that, on the contrary, it would diminish his power of preserving the peace, which, of all things, he chiefly desired.”

Thus ended that affair; and, immediately after its conclusion, Mr. O’Connell re-opened his battery of abuse, and worked it with his accustomed vigour, during the entire of that year, until as it would appear from the following communication, his friends began to tire of the war:-

T. O’Mara, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Lis-an-Iskea, 1st January, 1832.

“My valued and esteemed good Lord-I should not trespass on you with this note, but from a feeling that it may ease and soothe the mind of your amiable, attached, affectionate partner, Lady Cloncurry, by knowing that your name is not again to be mentioned at public meetings.

I had a long interview with Mr. O’Connell yesterday, and after accusing him of attacking friends and foes indiscriminately, I mentioned his attack on Lord Anglesey, Lord Cloncurry, &c. &c.

Lord Cloncurry, or the warmest friend of Lord Anglesey, could not give a more honourable description of the high-minded soldier’s private worth and character. But he wants him to get rid of Mr. B—, &c. &c. He wants Lord Cloncurry to come to his place, at the head of his countrymen, and endeavour to obtain justice for his country.

What passed between him and me would be too much for a letter, but on your Lordship’s return I will give you the entire, and am confident you will be pleased with it.

Mr. O’Connell has assured me that until the reform bill shall be passed, he will act bring before the public (at his meetings), the name of any friend.

I am well aware that this letter contains nothing of any value for your Lordship. But I am aware that it contains a soothing reflection for your amiable wife, whose life and soul are wrapped up in everything that contributes to your peace and happiness.

Wishing you, my Lord, your Lady, and your dear boys, many, many, happy new years, I remain your attached,

Faithful friend, to command, whilst

T. O’Mara.”.

As I had but little intercourse with Mr. O’Connell from this period until the close of his life, I may as well finish here what I have to say concerning him. We continued in estrangement and coolness, now and then warmed up by a burst of vituperation on his part, until the arrival of Lord Mulgrave in Ireland, in 1835. It seemed to his Excellency that the policy of his administration would be rendered more practicable if Mr. O’Connell and I became reconciled; and as no unkind feelings existed in my mind with regard to him, I was easily induced to receive an advance. Mr. (now Chief Baron) Pigot and Mr. Wm. Murphy were the internegociators; and it was not long before an arrangement between “the high contracting parties” was effected through their exertions. Characteristic traits are exhibited in the following letters, which were among those that passed upon the occasion:-

Daniel 0’Connell, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Merrion-square, 12th October, 1835.

“My Lord – I do not know how to express my feelings of satisfaction and delight at the kind manner in which, after all, you so kindly received my advances towards a reconciliation.

I do assure you, my Lord, I do bitterly regret having ever forfeited that kindness. If I knew how to atone to you, I certainly would do so in the most respectful manner that words could assume, and with the most cordial anxiety to satisfy you in every respect. But, perhaps, a recollection of the circumstances in which I was placed at the time – the natural irritation and excitement of my mind at a prosecution which I neither expected or deserved – may, perhaps, furnish to your Lordship’s indulgent mind, a better excuse for me than I could otherwise possibly make.

Yet, I should certainly not have forgotten your long-tried zeal and fidelity in the cause of Ireland-the persecution you endured for the far greater part of your life, because you had the undeviating manliness to prefer the cause of the people to the interests of the malignant but governing faction by which that people were oppressed. Perhaps, too, I was the more easily led into violent courses by the confidence placed at that time by the ministry on men in this country, who naturally belonged to that faction, and who, under the hypocritical pretence of liberality, were betraying the government under whom they served, and the country which they treacherously affected to cherish. I do appeal to you, my Lord, whether it was not natural I should feel deeply indignant at the appointments made by the Whig ministry in ireland-at the blindness with which they fell into the snares, and even into the arms of their mortal enemies, and of those of our wretched country. But, surely you who were honest in the worst, the very worst of times, will, from your own attachment to Ireland, appreciate the state of my feelings at that unhappy period, and whilst you are willing to palliate my fault, I; on the other hand, am ready to make you every reparation in my power. I cheerfully acknowledge myself to have been in the wrong, and I seek for your forgiveness upon your own terms.

We are come to a period when you can be eminently useful to Ireland. All that is wanting now is that the friends of constitutional freedom amongst the nobility and leading gentry, commercial as well as agricultural, should take their natural station in support of the King’s government, at the head of the people.

The Irish people have been too well taught by the experience of centuries of oppression, not to perceive that there is at length a new day opening upon this unfortunate land. They are convinced that in the stability of the present ministry is placed the only prospect of that reign of justice which shall destroy the rule of the sanguinary, mendacious, and insolent Orange faction, and give to Ireland a participation upon terms of perfect equality of all the advantages of the more favoured parts of the British empire. Need I say how desirable it is that you, my Lord, should become a prime leader in that popular movement, which would, peaceably but firmly, aid the Lord Lieutenant and government of Ireland in that system of conduct which would blot out the miseries of this country, by terminating that cruel and emaciating misrule which has marked the history of the Tory and Orange domination over the Irish people at all former periods.

Pardon me, my Lord, for the length of this letter. I take up an idea which the celebrated popular leader, John Keogh, endeavoured to realise more than 40 years ago – the taking the government of Ireland out of the hands of the ascendancy faction, and identifying it with the Irish nation at large. If we be true to ourselves, the time is come to have that choice made once and for always. Every former administration have chosen the “worse part” – the faction. They have governed Ireland by the faction-through the faction-and for the benefit of the faction.

It is time that Ireland should be managed wisely and kindly by the friends of her people, and for the exclusive but comprehensive benefit of that people. The choice is-the faction on the one hand-Ireland on the other. This, therefore, is just the time when every man who loves his native land should rally all the liberal and enlightened part of the aristocracy, of the landed gentry, and of the commercial wealth and intelligence of the Island, in one common cause with the people at large, to give efficient support to the government which has, at length, made a salutary and wise choice-has disclaimed faction, and preferred the people of Ireland.

How sincerely do I wish you would place yourself prominent in producing such a combination. Need I add, that if you will accept of my co-operation, you shall command it with a sincerity written on my heart’s core. I have the honour to be, my Lord, most respectfully,

Your most faithful and obliged servant,

Daniel O’Connell.”

Wm. Murphy, Esq., to Lord Cloncurry.

Mount Merrion, Wednesday night.

My dear Lord – Mr. Pigot and I delivered your Lordship’s letter this evening to O’Connell. I never saw a man more delighted than he was on reading it. On finishing the first paragraph he struck the table, and exclaimed in a loud voice,

May God bless him.” He said it was a letter he should keep carefully by him as long as he lived. At another time he said, “Good God ! how could I ever have quarrelled with such a man!” My dear Lord, I trouble you with this merely that you should know how your letter was received. Pigot says that it is one of the best letters he ever read; that it could only be written by the best of Irishmen. I am, my dear Lord,

Most truly and faithfully yours,

W. M.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Beaudesert, October 20th, 1835.

“My dear Cloncurry – I received the Dublin Evening Post of the 15th, containing your correspondence with O’Connell, and directed to me by you.

All I shall say upon it is, that if this reunion tends to the benefit of Ireland, there is no one who will more sincerely rejoice in it than I shall. His flings at me are certainly innocuous. He knows as well almost as you do how unjust they are. Certainly they will never do me so much injury as his former fulsome flattery did.

You know him well enough not to calculate upon his friendship longer than it suits the convenience of the moment; but if it lasts long enough to give poor Ireland a good lift, I again say I shall rejoice. With all your courteous expressions towards him, you have nevertheless hit him hard as regards me, and he will remember you for it. I go up to see Lady A. to-morrow.

Sincerely yours,


The finish was put to the work of reconciliation by Mr. O’Connell and I meeting at dinner at Lord Mulgrave’s table; and from thenceforward I do not recollect that he ever renewed the war with me personally, although he continued to render a cordial co-operation between us impossible, by turning his arms against a very near and dear relative of mine, who ventured to entertain and to express opinions at variance with his own.

In the midst of all the turmoil, and in the face of all the difficulties I have adverted to, Lord Anglesey held on his course with a manliness and devotion, which it is impossible to think of without admiration. Thwarted, upon the one hand, by his colleagues, and more especially by his Chief Secretary, whom, in an evil hour, he had allowed to be placed above him, by being admitted to a seat in the cabinet; and confronted, on the other, by the popular leader who earnestly strove to render it impossible for him to serve the cause of the people, his Excellency still fought gallantly on; and in the years of his viceroyalty more was accomplished towards the amelioration of Ireland than had been done in as many previous centuries.

Of the great Irish measures carried, or rendered immediately inevitable, during the viceroyalty of Lord Anglesey, I have already spoken, in my remarks upon the Roman Catholic, the Education, and the Church questions; but grand as may be the notion entertained of the magnitude of these results, and hard as their attainment may seem to the ordinary observer, they furnish but an imperfect means of estimating the vastness of the work of government and the amount of the difficulties undertaken and striven with by the Lord Lieutenant during those few years. With the view of throwing some light upon the events of that bold struggle, and knowing that any amount of illumination that can be brought to bear upon the character of my noble friend will serve but to render it more illustrious, I venture to select, from the bulky mass of his correspondence, the following few memorials of his varied labours, and of his constant love for Ireland:-

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, July 15th, 1831.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – Can you dine with me to-day? I have much to talk to you about. I also ask Blake. Be prepared for Education – Poorlaws – Employment – Newtownbarry – Castlepollard – Orangemen – Yeomanry – and the d—l else besides.

Yours truly,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, July 16th, 1831.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I return the letters you sent me. I have just received your statement respecting what passed about the baronetcy of the L— M—. I confess I do not recollect any promise to the L— M— himself. I fully determined to use every possible exertion to get it for him, in the event of his resigning in favour of P—, and in that event only; and I did write to this effect to Lord G. However, I will not persevere in this conclusion; and I do trust, from Lord Grey’s last letter to me, that he will be enabled to make H— a baronet at the coronation.

I am most anxious to see you about the Deputy-Lieutenancies of counties. When can you without inconvenience call? I am, I fear, going to have a serious attack: I feel very unwell. Lady Anglesey and the girls, and Lady L. Cadogan, arrived this morning, all well. Will you, and Lady C., and your son, dine here to-morrow?

Captain Warren, and a Lieutenant R. N., are arrived to survey Kingstown Harbour, at my request. Will you give them every assistance, and show them all reports and previous opinions? It is possible they may call upon you to-morrow morning. I have asked them to dine here; yet I doubt if I shall be forthcoming.

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

P P., Nov. 23rd, 1831.

“My dear Cloncurry – Really P—‘s nervousness and want of confidence in us is very worrying. The Attorney-General will not prosecute H—; but do not mention it. He thinks other-wise about B— M—, which really would be most disastrous, and I will stave it off, if I can, and have just written to urge Stanley to avert it; but I understand the A— G— feels that the PEREMPTORY order of the House of Commons is not to he got rid of. He strongly nrges the necessity of the ex-candidates using every exertion to bring forward cases in a tangible shape, and as soon as possible, as a set-off, and which may cool the courage of the other party; but of course B— must not be known to give this advice, which is strictly confidential.

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, 27th January, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I am so hurried for the post, that I am obliged to dictate, and cannot write particularly about the strange conduct of Doctor F—. So I enclose you the copy of my letter to Stanley upon the subject, sent yesterday. Return it to me. I hope to be able to write more to-morrow.

There is a horrid murder of a parson at Golden. Innishowen district is in a frightful state. I am remarkably well, and

Ever yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, January 31st 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I have had the inclination, but really I have not had the time to write to you, on account of the great pressure of business, and the numerous persons I have had to see. I seize a moment of calm, and will begin with what I know you will consider the best news I can send you. I am remarkably well, and able thoroughly to enjoy myself. I ride, I talk, I eat, and I drink, without the least difficulty; and Mr. M— seems to be doing wonders.

Of your dear country I can hardly tell you anything that you do not know. It is in a most feverish state; and yet in one from which it may be extricated, if it is judiciously treated, and if we do not lose time in consultation, without action. Innishowen is in a blaze, and I have sent my firemen to extinguish it; and in default of magistrates, I am employing officers. I do not fear the result, and I only hope the law will not fall too severely upon that praiseworthy body of distillers who put forth the real crater.

I have appointed Gould Master in Chancery, and P— serjeant. There is no pacifying poor D—. If you could see my letters to him, you would hardly believe he would write the answers he does. Poor man! He is worked up to such a pitch of excitement that I fear it will be fatal to him.

Have you seen Stanley, and calmly conversed with him upon the Irish Reform Bill? I have begged him to cultivate you, and also the Irish members. I fear ministers are inexorable upon numbers. I am pressing Lord Grey hard upon the subject of tithe and bishops’ lands. The plan, if carried into immediate effect, would save a world of difficulties.

I am interrupted, and must break off.

Ever sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, February 1st, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I return you Mr. C—‘s letter. I was interrupted yesterday, and am not better off to-day. The fact is, I am persecuted; and were I to think of self alone, I would rejoice in the truth of your report of Lord Carlisle being sent to relieve me. Yet while I have life and hope, no disgust at my treatment, either on this side of the Channel or on yours, shall divert me from using my best energies for Ireland; and O’Connells “deplorable Lord Lieutenant,” and Marcus Costello’s “weak and silly Lord Anglesey,” shall still work on at his up-hill and almost hopeless game and drudgery. Mine is, indeed, a laborious and a thankless charge; and I am constantly open to abuse which I know I do not deserve, and which, if I were to expose the truth, would soon change the tone of my traducers.

I cannot quite go your length with respect to S., but I do not think he is very anxious to uphold me, and I do believe he would prefer a more submissive master. You must see that I work at great disadvantage. He knows all my schemes, and I know few of his, until he finds himself in a difficulty. Thus all my projects, when laid before the Cabinet, if he does not go the whole length with me (and half-measures are worse than useless), are probably thwarted by him. He tells his own story, and I have no one to support and back my views. The post time is come.

I can only say sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, February 7th, 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I am sorry to observe that your last letter to me is written in a state of despondency about your country and yourself. Let me beg of you to put yourself above the mean, pitiful abuse you meet with, who well know that every word they write or utter against you are positive falsehoods. It is, to be sure, very distressing that men who are exerting their best energies, with no other object but to serve their country, should be the victims of the most abominable misrepresentations. But the best way to meet the calumnies is, utterly to despise them; this is my course, and I defy my detractors to ruffle me by their abuse. Take my advice, and follow the same course. Something must be in the wind on your side of the Channel, of which I know nothing, for I have been long without a word either from Lord Grey or Stanley; and I have written upon important subjects, which require early attention. I had, indeed, a hasty line from the latter yesterday, merely enclosing a copy of a foolish letter of the Duke of Buckingham to the Home Secretary, calling upon government to collect his Grace’s rents. In confidence, I send you a copy of my reply. I do not think Parnell’s secession is a great loss. He is a busy good man of business, but he is terribly un homme a systeme, and a too rigid parer of cheese and candles’ ends. They are taking everything from poor Ireland. I fear he has suggested the withdrawing of King’s plates. Every guinea taken from expenditure in this impoverished country is very pernicious economy. In what you say of the understrappers of the Castle I fully concur; but there is no means of freeing ourselves from them. It is impossible to fix anything upon them which would justify dismissal, and few of them could be discharged without pension; and you well know that it is impossible to propose the grant of any. I return you M—‘s blarney. He, too, must not expect a pension; but I am most ready to reward him handsomely for his most useful services. I continue perfectly well, and up to anything. I hope Donegal is quite restored to tranquillity, and I am now going to set to with Tipperary and Kilkenny. I am interrupted.

Sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Mr. Secretary Stanley.

Phoenix Park, February 6th, 1832.

“My dear Stanley – I have just received your hasty note of the 4th, and have only a moment merely to acknowledge it.

As is usual with all the complaints against me, hastily and inconsiderately made, I have the satisfaction of being able to state that I can scatter them all to the winds.

His Grace of Buckingham has been completely anticipated; and the very depositions which he sends to the Home Secretary are those with which, by my directions, his agent was furnished.

Informations, not sworn to, were sent up; the priest’s name was omitted; and the magistrates could not induce Geohagan to swear to them if it was introduced.

The magistrates were informed that I would afford G. ample protection, and that he should not be a sufferer, if he would swear to the facts of the case.

Geohagan accordingly swore to the informations; and conceiving that his life, after taking such a step, might be subjected to hazard if he remained at his residence, I desired that he might come to Dublin, where he might be taken care of. Here he received 16 shillings a-week; but, anxious to return to his family, he has left Dublin; and this day we have application from Mr. Uniacke, J.P., requesting me to continue G.’s allowance, as he could not follow his usual occupations.

In the meantime, the opinion of the Attorney-General was taken upon the legality of prosecution; and his first impression has been, that the government could not act without the agent of the Duke of Buckingham coming forward; and to effect this the Attorney-General has been in communication with that agent.

As it is possible that the Duke of Buckingham may take some opportunity of casting censure upon this government in the House, I wish you would at once show this outline of facts to Lord Grey, that he may be enabled to repel them. To-morrow documents shall be forwarded upon this subject.

You speak of strong measures being about to be adopted against lawless combinations. If these are coupled with healing measures – if the tithe and Church land plan recommended from hence – if the poor be provided for as proposed – and if the various other projects for the improvement of this country be vigorously pushed forward – there will be no need of much coercion; but if all this is not done (and that promptly) then I have no hesitation in saying, that my military means are wholly inadequate, and that less than an addition of 20,000 men cannot secure the tranquillity of Ireland.

In the hope and expectation that the legislative measures to which I have made allusion would soon be carried into effect, it has been my object to temporise; to induce the clergy, as much as possible, to refrain from the exaction of tithe; and by pouring in troops rapidly, wherever disturbances broke out, to overawe the people. Hitherto insurrection, at least, has been fended off; and wherever the clergy, in despite of the advice given, have persevered in the collection of their rights, not an instance has occurred in which they have not received protection. But the consequence is, that the troops are greatly harassed ; and, therefore, unless the country is brought to tranquillity and good feeling, by the effect of healing measures, the army must be largely augmented.

For myself, I am persecuted on all sides by the hostility of open foes, and by the unreasonableness of professed friends; and there is an impertinence of dictation on the part of the old ascendancy faction that exceeds all belief

What is settled about the Lieutenancy of Tipperary, in case D— should persevere? I wrote strongly to Lord Grey, in recommendation of Lord Lismore; and I am anxiously awaiting his reply, in order to be able to bring this tiresome matter to a dose. I remain,

Very sincerely yours,

(Signed) Anglesey.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, February 11th, 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I am just going to take up my residence in the Castle.

What you relate is, I fear, but too true. Thank God I have nothing upon my conscience. I have exerted every means within my power to effect measures of conciliation, redress, and amelioration, if possible before, but, at all events, simultaneous with any new law or measure of coercion.

I well know the consequence of the latter having the precedence. The country is at this moment all but in a state of rebellion; and the course which is, I fear, about to be pursued, will probably produce a crisis that will shake the empire.

I really have anticipated all your remarks, and have given the strongest opinions; and have shown what additional force will be immediately necessary, which I have rather under than overrated; and I conscientiously believe that if our tithe plan were instantly adopted and acted upon, at the same time that a firm determination were shown to enforce the actual laws whilst they last, bad as they are, the country might yet be saved. If we are to act upon a contrary system, I have no hope.

Blake goes over immediately. He is perfectly equal to show the practicability of overcoming all the difficulties put forth by Stanley. Indeed answers to his objections are already sent over to Lord Grey, which I should hope would have due weight. In the meantime, I tremble at every day’s post. I cannot cover the whole country, and can only subdue two or three counties at a time, and then fall upon others. But, what a miserable state of things!

1 really doubt if my presence here can be much longer of use. Personally I have nothing to complain of with ministers. All with whom I communicate are apparently full of kindness and confidence. Still there is something, or somebody, too powerful for me to counteract, and, therefore, I expect mischief. I will not, however, abandon the sinking vessel; and I call upon you to make no rash declaration – to take no hasty step.

Peers must be made; but I know not how many will be made from hence. I shall very much regret Milltown’s not being one. I would say Knmare, Gormanstown, Landaff, Lismore, Milltown (why not Killeen?), and Rossmore. He is a wild one; but he would tame the other wild elephants. He is acting judiciously in his county.

Ever sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, February 22nd, 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I have not written to you lately, but I have written to those who would communicate with you.

I had a letter from Lord Grey a few days ago, which gave me satisfaction, because it told me that you were satisfied with the proceedings of the Committee. I replied that I rejoiced so true a lover of Ireland, and so good a judge of its interests, should be in good humour about it; that such an opinion from such a man would make me appear unreasonable in not being satisfied, which I professed not to be. I then went on to say that nothing less than our whole plan would do permanent good; that I thought the proposed arrangements of the bishops’ lands were a sine qua non; that without it the whole question would be reopened; and that then, when they would have to fight their battle single-handed, they would be defeated, and pulled off the bench, &c. &c. &c.

To Stanley I strongly put the policy of giving more members to Ireland, and not giving an additional one to the College. But I have not time to tell you all I wrote. Suffice it to say, that I feel confident you would approve of every word.

I am prepared at all points in Kilkenny; but I sincerely hope the unhappy, misguided people will not drive me to extremities. One guarantee against violence is, that O’Connell will be there, and he will not venture to risk his sacred person.

I rejoice that your health is improving. Lady Anglesey informs me that you are in the hands of Dr. Maton, of whom I have a high opinion.

As the Mail and the Pilot failed in spoiling the levee, I imagine they were deterred from trying their hands at the theatre last [night] when I went in form. It was a full and particularly respectable house; and the attempts for O’Connell first, and then for Repute, had no success.

There was a most respectable dinner of the Bar last week, of which, no doubt, C— or some of your friends will give you particulars. You will, no doubt, see Blake. I have a very satisfactory and interesting letter to thank him for; and I beg him, and you too, to write all that concerns us here. With best regards to Lady Cloncurry, I remain

Most sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, February 28th, 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – The affair of the Pole is in the true spirit of the Old Castle! Fire drawn upon one in a case of the most complete insignificance; as if it signified whether the fellow was here, or anywhere else! Yet I must father it all, although I did not give it a moment’s consideration. They merely told me that he would be sent packing without any trouble. For my part his presence and his absence are alike indifferent to me. He is not likely to do good to Ireland; and the only harm he can do is what any other sturdy arm (if his, in fact, be such) may be equal to.

I rejoice that you think favourably upon tithe and Church matters.

We must have very hot assizes. If we get well over these, we may go on well; but I sadly fear there will be many broken heads. I have taken all the precautions within my power.

I am exceedingly distressed at the unfavourable report you make of yourself. I wish M— was alongside of you.

My best regards to Lady Cloncurry, and always

Sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, May 5th, 1832.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I do not know that I have had anything particular to relate; for it is not at all particular that the factions should continue to vie with each other in virulence, in envy, in hatred, and in malice, and, I can well add, in all uncharitableness! It is shocking!!!

Of course you have seen Mr. B—‘s letter. It is false nearly from the beginning to the end. I forwarded to Lord Lansdowne copies of letters from Tickell, and from the Crown Solicitor, upon the facts, enough to satisfy every reasonable mind. I sent them to him, because there was matter in them connected with Mr. P—, his agent, who, although a good man, is liable to be misled and imposed upon.

Per contra, the Conservatives are outdoing themselves; and the league of almost the whole of the gentry against the government is every day more strongly manifesting itself. Traps are laying for me every hour. A certain Colonel P~, for instance, of Meath, repeating certain expressions in my speech, in regard of the combining of the good against the bad, demands arms for the chosen spirits whom he shall select! In other words, he wants to arm Orangemen. If I do, you know the consequences; if I do not, you know the tone he will take! Oh! they are a precious set. But I should make volumes if I entered into particulars; so I have done.

What I want to engage the gentlemen to is, to call upon the best part of the people to assemble and associate with whatever weapons they may have (and nothing is better than a good bludgeon), and to sally forth with them, by day as well as by night, occasionally, always accompanied and supported by a certain body of the military by police, or both. I am convinced that a little occasional vigour of this sort would soon alter the appearance of things; but I despair of accomplishing it. Next week entre nous, I make a grand sweep for arms and culprits, at the same instant, in the King’s and Queen’s Counties, in Kilkenny, and Carlow. I propose immediately afterwards to visit these counties, and to talk to the gentlemen; and a special commission is about to issue.

If all this is of no avail, we shall have nothing for it but coercion laws. Will you believe it, when I state, that clergymen, with their eyes open to the measures them, and when the odium of collecting imposed upon the government, are daily persecuting me for military aid to enforce payment of dues? This is not Christian patience. Will you believe this, too: whilst the Christian clergy are pursuing the most exemplary course, in attending the dying in hospitals, and even taking up their abode amongst them, Protestants were crying out for spiritual comfort, and no one could be found to give it. At length their services have been bought!!!

Tuyll has this instant walked in. He gives a dismal account of Reform, and says you are low about it. Courage! we must carry it. Even our bill brought out by our adversaries would not go down. Judge then what would be the fate of one of their concoctions.

If the King wavers he is lost. I will not give him up. I think he will be firm. Best regards to Lady Cloncurry, and always

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, Monday, 19th.

“My dear Cloncurry – I returned here last night in much suffering, and unable to follow field sports. I have many pressing affairs of state upon me, which become more overwhelming every hour, and I am anxious for your assistance without loss of time. I hear that you are at Lyons, but coming away this evening. Could not you and Lady Cloncurry, and your boy if you please (but mine are not here), come and dine here to-day, and take your bed? It would be a great comfort to me.

Ever truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Abbeyleix, June 20th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I must return to-morrow, and propose to take an early dinner with you, en passant. I have written to desire C— to meet me, because you will be most useful in advising with us as to the course to be pursued in a case of investigation in which I am employing him. I know you will excuse this liberty; indeed, I know you will be glad of the opportunity of seeing C—. As I believe five o’clock is your hour, I will be with you by that time; and Lady Cloncurry will, I know, tolerate us without any attempt to adorn our persons. Colonel Rochfort, whom I meant to go on to, has been summoned to London, and almost all the magistrates are out of the country. However, oven with the few I have seen, I trust that this trip will not be wholly useless. I am afraid I shall not see C— the elder; and as for C— the younger, I fear he is not worth seeing. If I find that I pass close by the former, and have time, I will call.

Most truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, Jane 22nd, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I send you letters from the Dean of F—. He is angry and inconsiderate. Surely I might express a hope that he had been misled in respect of the conduct of an individual, without impeaching his character for veracity. I did not even hint at voracity.

Can you not frame me two or three lines, which may accompany my letter, when I return him his precious papers? When M— calls upon you, you may show him my remarks upon his proposition. You will like to read Holland; send him back.

Truly yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Maretimo, July 14th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I return Mr. R— C—‘s letter. I have thought long that this person is a firebrand, working from vanity, and for his own private objects – exaggerating every statement; and therefore an enemy to Ireland of the worst description. My interview with his respectable father quite confirmed me in that view; and therefore I always read with suspicion and distrust whatever comes from his pen, either publicly or privately.

That you may have suffered from being my friend, as I formerly suffered by being yours, is indeed likely enough; but this entirely proceeds from the infamous falsehoods which are set abroad by rash agitators on both sides, in regard to my conduct formerly and now. It affects me only with pity for the people they mislead, and contempt for themselves. But the time is come when they will find that I will not treat them with contempt alone. Let them look to it. The difficulties of the country are not brought on by me. I could and would have avoided them by passing better laws; but the force of circumstances have not allowed this; and I will now see that the laws, such as they are, shall not be broken with impunity.

I trust nothing will prevent your all coming on Tuesday. Sir Frederick and the aid-de-camp have lodgings; and so I hope the boys and all will come to my house. Just starting for Council; perhaps I may meet you there.

Ever sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

“Phoenix Park, August 1st, 1832. 8. 30. p.m.

“My dear Cloncurry – Your proposal is tempting; but after much consideration, I fear the embassy would be too late to be of service. Nevertheless, if you think otherwise, I would willingly write to Lord Lansdowne, and furnish C— with credentials.

I enclose a letter I hastily scratched this morning to Lord Grey, but I was too late for the post. Do read it, and give your opinion; and add or erase as you may think best. Even if it went, it need not preclude C—‘s going also. Could you not come here early to-morrow, and talk over this, and pick up C—, and bring him with you? I will have an orderly with you by eight o’clock to-morrow morning, to bring back any thing you may have to say, and (if you choose to summon C—) to convey a letter to him to that effect, as the orderly returns through Dublin.

Ever sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, August 25th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – Read the enclosed little tract. There are a few false statements, but in general there is good sense in it. Coming from Cork, after the late to do there, might it not be well that my secretary should express my assent to it, pointing out perhaps, an error or two, which, if they strike you, I would request you to observe upon, that I may adopt them.

Sincerely yours,


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Phoenix Park, September 8th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – Quand finira donc mes tourmens? To please Lord M—, I desired that Mr. H— might (although I believe he had done his duty) be removed from a scene where he had given offence to some persons.

Read all this trash and impertinence. Removed he shall now be; but where shall I send him? Is Lord M— really anxious about this, and has he just grounds?

I vow to God life is not long enough to get through these petty broils. Truly yours.


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, December 15th, 1832.

“My dear Cloncurry – I have just received the enclosed from dear Holland. It was evidently not written to meet your eye; but as there is a little gentle throw at you, that is not altogether undeserved, I send it to you. Llet me have it again, for I read it in such haste that I should like to see it again.

Most sincerely yours,


Lady A. has told me several times that she has a letter from you to show me, but it has not yet been produced. Why do you keep moping and growling down there, just because things do not go altogether according to your fancy? Good God! if I were to act so, how long ago should I have rejected public employment! We must expect injustice and ingratitude. It is inevitable; but we are bound to bear up against it.


The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Dublin, January 18th, 1833.

“My dear Cloncurry – Where are you, and what are you about? Oh, what a life is mine! What numberless things would I wish to consult with you about, but my lips must be hermetically sealed.

I opened the enclosed, as you desired. Lord Garvagh withdraws. How I wish for honest Lismore’s success; but I cannot expect it.

Most sincerely yours,


Towards the close of the year 1833, Lord Anglesey’s connexion with Ireland finally terminated. The multifarious difficulties that beset his administration may be imagined from the insight afforded by the foregoing letters into the conduct of his friends and of his foes. Coupled with a hostile colleague in his government, surrounded by hostile subordinates, virulently assailed by the leaders of the people in whose cause he was struggling, and underworked by intriguers within the cabinet which he served, he held out manfully for nearly three years; and as his concluding act, put upon record, in a private letter to Lord Grey, a summary of that comprehensive policy, the bearings of which I have endeavoured, in some small degree, to exhibit. In it was put forward an urgent expression of the noble Marquis’s deliberate opinion, founded upon his experience of Irish government during the four years comprised in his viceroyalties, that peace could not be established, or prosperity initiated in Ireland, unless her English rulers could make up their minds to carry out a system including-

1. A complete arrangement of the Church question, whereby the Protestant religious Establishment would be brought into conformity with the wants of its members, and the ecclesiastical property made subservient to the general good of the community.

2. A satisfactory arrangement of Grand and Petty Juries.

3. A system of Poor Laws.

4. A system of Labour Rates.

5. A suppression of party processions and demonstrations.

6. The organisation of a force of special constables.

7. The regulation of the possession of arms, and

8. The payment of the Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.

Several months after that remarkable letter was written, it was made public, by means never explained, and respecting which I have never been able to form a satisfactory conjecture. The following letters refer to the subject, though without throwing any light upon the course by which a secret despatch from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to the Prime Minister of England came to appear, without the consent of either, in the columns of a public print:-

Mr. Secretary Littleton (now Lord Hatherton) to Lord Cloncurry.

Brighton, May 20th, 1834.

“My dear Lord – I will inquire into Mr. M—‘s case, and do what I can on it. I shall also talk to Lord Melbourne on the whole class of cases to which his belongs.

Lord Anglesey’s habit of showing his correspondence was so incautious, that the publication of his excellent letter to Lord Grey did not surprise me. The publication will do no harm; as, except that one must regret such a dishonourable act as that by which it has been produced to the public, I cannot but feel gratified that his real sentiments should have become known to the world.

Ever, my dear Lord, faithfully yours,

E. J. Littlejon.”

The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry.

Naples, June 7th, 1834.

“My dear Cloncurry – I have received your kind letter. The publication of mine to Lord Grey is abominable, be the treachery where it may; but I feel confident, and have told them all I would stake my life upon it, that no one connected with me has had any hand it. For myself I care not a straw. I hold the advice I gave to have been excellent, and I stand to it; and I do not mind any abuse that may be heaped upon me by bigots, who, because I will not go their stupid lengths, and risk their Establishment by perpetuating its abuses, will consider me, or rather misrepresent me, as a wild Reformer, hostile to the Protestant Establishment.

What does greatly annoy me is, that ministers, and Lord Grey in particular, may possibly have been put to some inconvenience by the appearance of the document. It seems, however, to me, that one of them (Lord J. R.) holds precisely the same opinions as I do. Pray assure my dear friends T—, S—, and C—, if you see them – and indeed any who can by possibility have seen the letter – that I know them to be incapable of showing any paper of mine without my consent. Indeed, excepting the latter, who is the faithful depositary of all my papers, and who is truth, and honour, and honesty personified, they could not have had the means. Had my general opinions upon public matters been merely quoted, I would not have been surprised, as you know it has ever been my principle to elicit opinions from able men, by stating my own; but that a verbatim copy of a whole letter should have appeared is inexplicable.

I have been suffering very much, indeed, and continue very ill. It takes off all enjoyment, and checks my excursions. I shall, however, try to move on Monday to Sicily, probably for a few days, to see what change of air will do. I long to see that your son is restored to you in health. Lady A. is far from well; the young ones in high force. All join in best regards to you and Lady Cloncurry. Let me hear from time to time how things go on. Truly yours,


Shortly after the commencement of the second viceroyalty of Lord Anglesey, I was made a Privy Councillor for Ireland; and in September of the year 1831, a few days after the coronation, it pleased the King to raise me to the peerage in England. This honour it had been determined, without solicitation on my part, to confer upon me in the previous June, at the time when the Earls of Fingal and Leitrim were created Barons of the United Kingdom; but I had reason to believe it was then postponed through the operation of influences acting “from behind the throne.” There were quarters in which any interruption to the consistency of a persecution was looked upon with disfavour; and there, I believe, nothing was left undone that was thought likely to prevent the bestowal upon me of a mark of royal favour, which might be recognised as an authoritative, though somewhat tardy, censure upon the conduct of my persecutors. The design, however, did not succeed; and although the triumph was not then, and is not now, of much value in my estimation, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of putting upon record the subjoined memorials of the light in which it was at that time viewed by myself and others:-

Lord Cloncurry to Earl Grey.

“My Lord – I beg of you in the most dutiful terms to express to his Majesty my humble gratitude for his favour.

It is doubly valued, as a proof of the royal approbation of the zeal and perseverance with which I have, through life, endeavoured to advocate the interests of his loyal and faithful subjects, the people of Ireland. I have the honour to be, with respect, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s faithful, humble servant,


The Duke of Leinster to Lord Cloncurry.

6, Carlton-House Terrace, 10th Sept., 1831.

My dear Lord Cloncurry – I have received your letter of the 7th, this morning; and again repeat my congratulations, not only on your account, but on account of Ireland, at your being created an English Peer. You have so long taken an interest in the affairs of Ireland, that I know you will be of use; therefore you ought to feel happy at your creation on her account.

I am not in general an advocate for county meetings; but at this moment I think petitions ought to be sent to the House of Lords in favour of reform. Ours from the county of Kildare has not yet been presented. Do you think a new meeting requisite?

By the enclosed note from Lord Brougham, which I received too late for the post last night, I fear your presence will be wanted. I am sorry you are brought from your home: but every exertion must be made at this moment to assist the Government to carry this great measure. As we shall so soon meet, I will not answer the other subjects in your letter, but sincerely thank you and Lady Cloncurry for your kindness to our children. I am, my dear Lord Cloncurry,

Yours ever sincerely,


This will be my last frank to you.”

The Hon. George Villiers (now Earl of Clarendon) to Lord Cloncurry.

Cleveland Court, September 14th.

“My dear Lord Cloncurry – I can with all sincerity say, that I remember few circumstances in my life (not immediately personal) that have given me more hearty satisfaction than the one upon which I now beg you to accept my congratulation. Having been honoured with your acquaintance, and possessing some knowledge of your deeds as well as opinions, it has always been with sorrow, not unmingled with shame, that I have reflected upon the injustice to which you have so long been made the victim. I only hope that this act of justice may, however tardily, compensate you for the mortified and indignant feelings with which you have for years seen every act of yours for the benefit of your country misrepresented and distorted. As an Englishman, as a friend of yours, my dear Lord, and, above all, as an ardent friend to Ireland, I shall rejoice to hear that one of her best champions feels cause for satisfaction; for the public will view the honour that has been conferred on you in its true light – as a testimony borne to your public worth.

I hear you have published your opinions upon a poor-law in Ireland. You would much oblige me by giving me a copy, or informing me where I can procure one in London. During a late very severe and long illness, I have been giving much attention to this intensely interesting subject; and any light upon it from you would be most valuable.

Pray present my best respects to Lady Cloncurry; and believe me, my dear Lord, with great regard,

Most faithfully and sincerely yours,

George Villers.

Chapter XVIII.


Abandonment of Lord Anglesey’s Policy – Statesmanship on the Whig Model – Its results in the Demoralization of the People – Testimony to this Truth; of Dr. Doyle, of Mr. Lambert – Persistence in the same Policy – Political Quietism – Letter from Lord Holland – Break up of the Grey Ministry – Wellington Dictatorship – Reheating of the Whig Mess, with the Old Condiments -Letters from Lord Holland, from Lord Durham – Working of the Normanby Government.

The period of the determination of Lord Anglesey’s administration of the Irish government was the beginning of an era over which the recollections of a lover of Ireland cannot be extended without exciting in his mind feelings of sorrow and humiliation. With it ended the only attempt at an impartial rule in Ireland, and with it began the endeavour to establish the provincialisation of the country, through the agency of the vilest instruments ever employed by one nation to enslave and degrade another placed by adverse circumstances under her sway. For 29 years the country had been held for England, through the instrumentality of an English garrison composed of a section of the people and backed by English bayonets. From the Union up to the year 1829 the Tory type of British colonial government was the order of the day. The Protestants were upheld as a superior caste, and paid in power and official emoluments for their services in the army of occupation.

During the second viceroyalty of Lord Anglesey, the effort was made by him to evoke the energies of the whole nation for its own regeneration. That effort was defeated by the conjoint influence of the cowardice of the English cabinet, the petulance of Mr. Stanley, and the unseasonable violence and selfishness of the lately-emancipated popular leaders. Upon Lord Anglesey’s recall, the modern Whig model of statesmanship was set up and followed; popular grievances were suffered to remain unredressed; the discontent and violence engendered by those grievances were used from time to time for party purposes; the people were hung and bayonetted when their roused passions exceeded the due measure of factious requirement; and the State patronage was employed to stimulate and to reward a staff of demagogues by whom the masses were alternately excited to madness, and betrayed, according to the necessities of the English factions.

When Russells and Greys were out or in danger, there was free promise of equal laws and privileges and franchises for oppressed Ireland; the minister expectant, or trembling for his place, spoke loudly of justice and compensation, of fraternity and freedom. To these key-notes the place-hunting demagogue pitched his brawling. His talk was of pike-making and sword-fleshing and monster-marching. The simple people were goaded into a madness, the end whereof was for them suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the hulks, and the gallows; for their stimulators, silk gowns, commissionerships and seats on the bench.

Under this treatment, the public mind became debauched The lower classes, forced to bear the charges of agitation, as well as to suffer its penalties, lost all faith in their social future; they saw not, and looked not beyond the momentary excitement of a procession or a monster meeting. As time went on, those who led and robbed them felt the necessity of meeting the apathy attendant upon their increasing demoralisation, by the use of more pungent stimulants. They could no longer trust for topics of agitation to a recapitulation of real grievances, which might be redressed, but in the removal of which would be involved the drying up of the springs of the agitators’ influence.

To hold out hopes of the establishment of civil and religious equality, of the attainment of complete freedom of industry, or even of local self-government, no longer sufficed to rouse the passions of the mob, or to bring money into the exchequer of the demagogues. It therefore followed, that the staple talk of the popular meetings came to be made up of appeals to the basest passions of the multitude; old feuds between Irishmen were revived; a new appetite for vengeance was whetted; nay, even the bonds of society were loosened by intimations not obscure that a triumph of the people would be associated with an abatement of the sacredness of property. The emptiness of this noise was in a direct ratio with its loudness. Yet it fulfilled its purpose of frightening the Tories out of office, or of deterring them from accepting it; and the talkers were accordingly every now and then rewarded and silenced by scraps from the refuse of official patronage.

It must be obvious that this state of things could not have existed had a middle class exercised a proper and natural influence upon the public mind. There was, however, practically no such class in a position to interfere. Many of those who should have belonged to it were clamorous place-beggars, in the ranks of the agitators. Those who were not sunk into that abyss of degradation, were restrained by their fears from taking any part in public affairs. They were, upon the one hand, afraid of contributing to a restoration of the power of their ancient oppressors; and upon the other, distrustful of those pretended friends whose selfish motives they could not but perceive through the thin disguise of their assumed patriotism.

How heavily this condition of the country weighed upon the spirits of those who knew her best, and loved her most, appears in the following letter from Dr. Doyle, while that which succeeds it from the able pen of Mr. Lambert, then member for Wexford, contains no bad sketch of the Whig policy and practice of the day:-

The Right Rev. Bishop Doyle to Lord Cloncurry.

Carlow, March 3rd, 1834.

“My dear Lord – I am greatly obliged to your Lordship for the letter with which you lately honoured me, and the draft of bill which Mr. R. Cassidy had, by your Lordship’s direction, forwarded to me some day last week.

I had partially recovered from a long illness, but have again relapsed into such a state of debility as to be incapable of applying my mind to any subject requiring attention. Should it please God that I would again be enabled to attend to business, I will derive great gratification from the study of your Lordship’s work, which, if I would judge of by the preamble, is worth 50 volumes of what is every year spoken or written about Ireland.

Perhaps it is in part owing to the state of my health that my hopes of the improvement of our country are weakened. I thought there was more intelligence and virtue among the middle classes of our people than there now appears to me to be. Their conduct at the period of the last general election, and since, in suffering themselves to be deceived, and then bestrode by the basest tyranny that ever established itself for any length of time in these latter ages, compels me, God knows how reluctantly, to doubt whether there be sufficient soundness in the community to render it capable of profiting by any liberal system of legislation.

As to the lowest classes of the people, their demoralisation is extreme, and they thirst for disorder. I am very much of opinion that if there be a chance remaining of yet rescuing the country from the evil genius which troubles and torments it, and of placing the people within the fold of the law and constitution, a measure large and comprehensive, such as your Lordship’s professes to be, would be most likely to attain those ends. I have the honour to be, my dear Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obedient, humble servant,

J. Doyle.”

H. Lambert, Esq., M.P., to Lord Cloncurry.

8, St. James’s-place, 3rd June, 1834.

My dear Lord – I have received your letter, and I hope need not assure you how willingly I would attend to any recommendation of your Lordship’s, if I had any power whatever of promoting the accomplishment of your wishes.

In common with many others, you seem to think, my dear Lord, that having stood in the front ranks in defence of his Majesty’s government, having dismissed every selfish apprehension of danger and consideration of prudence, when their battle was to be fought, in the House or out of it, I might be supposed to possess some influence with those distinguished persons. Quite the reverse. If you want to carry any point with government, apply to Mr. O’Connell for his interest; it will not fail. It is actually rutting season with that great character and our illustrious rulers. A superb “juste milieu” Cabinet, with subordinates of similar talents and propensities, is in progress of formation. I rather suspect it will not last long. I stated last night my belief that dissension did still exist among the remains of the Cabinet. This was angrily denied; but we shall see, when the moment for any positive proposition or practical measure shall arrive. Ellice is the only man of energy among them; and I have reason to think that he joined the Cabinet merely to avoid its total break up, which would have ensued had he declined. No other appointment has been made, except, perhaps, that of Lord Auckland to the Admiralty, in the place of Sir J. G.!!! Many have been offered and refused; some from the certainty of not being re-elected; others, as in the case of M. O’F— from a difficulty of comprehending the precise politics of the new Cabinet. There are reports, I cannot say if correct, that Lord Brougham has acted a very strange part in the late Cabinet dissensions. There can be no doubt that intrigues of all sorts were at work, and I should think successfully, to exclude anything like talent or energy from the new administration. So we are to jog on in the juste milieu until the next explosion.

I had a few lines from Blake lately, but so extremely guarded and diplomatically laconic, that I have not felt it necessary to write to him on these late events, not knowing exactly the political shade of his opinions.

1 had a letter also from General Cockburn relative to the tithe bill. Will you pardon my requesting you, if you see the General, to thank him from me, and assure him I shall attend to his proposition. Believe me, my dear Lord,

Most faithfully yours,

H. Lambert.

P.S. – Report says Lord G. is heartily sick of all this, and longs for retirement. The means employed to obtain the majority for the “previous question” last night were the threatened resignation of Lord Althorpe, and the collision with your noble House. Some hints about Tories coming in, made up the sum of the statesmanlike arguments advanced. The present Cabinet arrangements are said to be exclusively Lord Althorpe’s. Imagine that a dissolution of Parliament was among the menaces of yesterday.”

It would be impossible to find witnesses more competent than the writers of these letters to speak to the condition of Irish affairs in 1834, and few whose testimony, in the line in which it runs, it would be more difficult to discredit. There was, I believe, no Irishman imbued with deeper feelings of nationality than Bishop Doyle, or who was more painfully sensible of the bitterness of being obliged by his own sense of truth and honour to admit the fact of the moral degradation of his fellow-countrymen.

On the other hand, there was no Irish Whig more jealous of the character of his party than Mr. Lambert, or who was more desirous to carry out its principles in the administration of Irish affairs in such a manner as should sink the individual nationality of Ireland, and make her a great limb of the English Whig body. Surely, then, it is lamentable to find one of these men ” doubting whether there was sufficient soundness in the community to render it capable of profiting by any liberal system;” and the other admitting with regret that the whole statesmanship of the English party rulers of Ireland with whom he was associated was limited to a truckling subserviency to Mr. O’Connell.

Still more lamentable is it to know, that after the lapse of 15 years, there is still in the community the same unsoundness, and in the ruling faction the same deficiency of manly conduct and far-seeing statesmanship. At this very moment, the “intelligence and virtue among the middle classes of our people” has succumbed under the tyranny of demagogues, who, with liberty upon their tongues, have successfully called upon a starving and oppressed nation to contribute money to aid in the replacement of the yoke of despotism upon the necks of the people of another land. While I write, the lineal successors of the juste milieu Whigs of 1834 know of nothing better that can be done for the relief of a prostrated country, than to provide the means of buying more village agitators and members of Parliament by stopping a hole in a demoralising and corrupting, but place-making poor-law, with a sixpenny rate-in-aid patch.

How deeply the best and wisest of the ministers of the former period suffered themselves to settle down into political quietism, is shown in parts of the following letter:-

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

17th June, 1834.

“My dear Lord-I shall have pleasure in taking your proxy, and giving it, as you would give your vote, in favour of justice for Jews as well as Gentiles. On the proxy question, if I am present, I am afraid I cannot give it, as I should vote against Grosvenor’s motion. It is much better for the country and for themselves, that their Lordships’ attendance should not be numerous and constant.

Indeed I do not damn Irish business, but do my best to bless it, and make it advantageous to him that gives and him that receives. But is it possible for government or legislature to acknowledge that they cannot enforce the law, and simply to enact that what men are by law entitled to they shall not receive, because those from whom it is due will not pay it? The Church lands have been turned to some account towards the purpose you mention, and may be converted to yet more; but yet I cannot take the sanguine view you do of that subject, and imagine that all could be defrayed from thence, even without injury, much less without difficulty or offence, to any body. The other plans you suggest for the employment of the people and the cultivation of lands, may be, and, I dare say, are good; but I think you expect from them, and from the legislature, more than laws or legislators can confer. The province of government is to place their subjects in a state of liberty and law, in which it becomes their interest and inclination to employ themselves, and to improve the country; but I have little confidence, I own, in the efficacy of undertakings for such purposes at the public expense, and where the State, not individuals, are the adventurers.

I concur with you much more cordially about the act of amnesty, though, I suppose, Melbourne is right in thinking a general act inexpedient, and the whole attainable by individual applications. I will not lay down my pen without writing to him to urge Major Weir’s case.

It delights me, both for private and public reasons, that you think of coming over for the Irish questions. I infer from it that your health is improved; and I hope that you will assist us in whatever may require correction in our bills.

Believe me, truly yours,

Vassall Holland.

P. S. – Sorry I am to say that my last accounts from Lord Anglesey were very distressing; and I am afraid his physician, who was to return this month, will disappoint him.”

The brief period of Lord Wellesley’s second vice-royalty was passed through, by both ministers and people, in the manner indicated in Dr Doyle’s and Mr. Lambert’s letters. The “rutting season” (to use the expressive phrase of the latter writer) between our rulers and the leader of the people, was attended with much noise and fury on the one side, and shabby, paltering, vain yielding on the other. The Collision between Mr. Littleton and Mr. O’Connell, in which the former himself established his own folly, and was shown by the latter to labour under the infirmity of a treacherous memory, took place towards the close of the session of parliament; and, a few weeks afterwards, the death of Earl Spencer broke up the ministry, then thoroughly disgraced, and placed the Duke of Wellington in the position of dictator.

The act of the assumption of that position was characterised by the Duke himself, in an anticipatory judgment, as one of insanity. The fit, however, did not last long, and it resulted, in a few months, in a re-heating of the old Whig mess, in the fashion here set forth:-

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

14th April.

“A thousand thanks, my dear Lord, for your letter, enclosure, and suggestions: the latter shall go directly to Lord Melbourne and the Lord Lieutenant, whoever he be. Whether Lord Wellesley returns, or a new appointment takes place, is not, I presume, yet settled, or if so, I have not heard. But whatever the appointment may be, it will, I trust, be on the principles and with the views you describe. You have certainly been quite right in your predictions. Had what we now must do been done in time, it would, no doubt have been better; but, on the other hand, to do a thing well, or indeed to complete it at all, one must adapt one’s efforts to one’s means. Lord Melbourne was, on Sunday last (after a joint, earnest but fruitless endeavour of his late colleagues and the King to prevail on Lord Grey to resume office), authorised to form a ministry, and has been ever since, and is now, occupied in making those arrangements. With one painful exception, which occasioned in a great measure by public feeling, just or unjust, must be pretty well known to that public, I do not think that he will have to encounter more difficulties or annoyances than usually attend the appointment of some, and the disappointment of others, in such an operation.

By some clumsy accident, Melbourne’s name was not mentioned in either House last night; but if any Lord is Curious enough to ask, he will this evening tell him that he is forming a ministry, and has every prospect of completing his task shortly. Tell Leinster this. I am, in hurry,


Vassall Holland.”

Lord Holland to Lord Cloncurry.

South-street 18th April.

Dear Lord Cloncurry~I save the post; and though, I doubt not, the evening papers will tell you all more fully and correctly than I can, send you our list:

Melbourne First Lord

Lansdowne President of Council

Duncannon Privy Seal and Woods and Forests

Palmerston, F

Grant, with Peerage, C.

Lord J. Russell, H Secretaries of State.

Hobhouse B. of Control.

Auckland, Admiralty.

Poulett Thompson. B. of Trade and Cabinet

Holland Duchy

Spring Rice Exchequer

Howick Secretary of War.


Mulgrave Lord Lieutenant.

Morpeth Secretary; if he can vacate.

All, except the last, were announced by the King in Council to-day, and have actually or virtually kissed hands. Of the other appointments I am rather imperfectly informed; and till they have kissed hands, been gazetted, or had their writs moved, alterations may occur. I hope, but I do not know, that Wellesley will be Chamberlain. Nothing is said, nor I think done, about Horse Guards; but I hope if ever anything is, Anglesey will be at hand to counsel and assist. Kempt refused, and, I believe, Sir John Byng has taken, the Ordnance. He did not kiss hands.


Vassall Holland.

This, if not in the papers, is for Leinster as well as you. The Times will oppose, if it be only for spite, every man John, as well as John himself; in the elections.”

Here was a fair opportunity for retrieving former blunders, and making up for past shortcomings; but it might as well not have been offered. The Whigs pottered on in their old way, and still dealt with Ireland in the spirit which one who knew them well would seem to have expected

The Earl of Durham to Lord Cloncurry.

Lambton Castle, April 15, 1835.

“My dear Lord – I feel greatly obliged to you for your communication. The state of Ireland is a disgrace to the age. Whether the new ministry will have inclination or power to apply a remedy, I know not. If they make the attempt, they shall have my warmest support.

Yours truly,


It was in the fashion to which I have alluded that the administration of Ireland, during the viceroyalty of Lord Normanby, was carried on. The Marquis, no less than his secretary, Lord Morpeth, was filled with the best intentions. He was desirous, I am convinced, of acting liberally and impartially; but the ancient curse of the country intervened and rendered both liberality and impartiality impossible. Immediately upon Lord Normanby’s arrival, war was proclaimed against him by the entire of the Protestant party; while he simultaneously received a still more fatal support from the rabble of place-hunters.

The policy of his government, accordingly, became a mere affair of place-giving. When a demagogue became particularly violent, he was cooled down by the gift of an office in the courts of justice, or a commissionership, it mattered not in what line, so as a suitable salary was attached. Again, when a vigorous rally was made by the old Church and State party, and there was a lull in the more popular agitation, a sop would be thrown in the opposite direction, by placing a mitre upon the head of some stanch opponent of National Education.

Meanwhile, little was done to advance the general interests of the people. Their enlarged franchises, parliamentary or municipal, opened for them no new channels of industry. They were left still trusting in the potato for their daily subsistence, and fighting, like wild beasts, over the soil that to them supplied all the necessaries of life, through the sole means of that single, ill-economised root. In vain for them was the most fertile land in Europe ready to teem with various fruits; in vain their coasts swarmed with living food; in vain the sea that washed those coasts invited the commerce of two worlds. The victims of that disorganisation of society, some of the causes of which I have endeavoured to indicate, they vegetated on in an apathetic quiet; or, when starving amid the plenty that surrounded them, they gave expression to their misery in violence, they were quieted by the rope or the bayonet, or caged in the union poorhouses, until pestilence put a period to their season of troubling, and set their weariness at rest.

Lord Normanby was succeeded by Lord Fortescue, Lord Fortescue by Lord De Grey, and Lord De Grey by Lord Heytesbury; but still there was no real change in the policy of government; and so matters went on for 10 or 12 years, until, in the total failure of the potato, the staff of the miserable life of the people was broken, and the beginning of the end of the Anglo-Irish system arrived. That end is now in course of accomplishment. To attempt to chronicle its progress would be a painful task that, I confess, I lack spirit to undertake; but an allusion to its events must form an item in the moral with which it is my design to conclude this tale.

Chapter XIX.

The Moral of the Tale – Hope for Ireland – Its Foundation – Over-success of the Policy of the Unionists – The Irish Burthen upon England – Expatriation and Corruption of the Irish Gentry – Effects upon the People -Natural Results of the Policy – The Land Difficulty – The Land Inquiry Commission – The “Fixity of Tenure” Movement – The Potato Failure – Final Ruin of the Gentry – The Old Liens on Estates – The New and More Fatal Encumbrance – What can an Irish Gentleman do under existing circumstances? – Old English Party Politics – Decline of their interest in Ireland – The Political Inquiry proper for the Occasion – Determination of the Land Struggle – Mischievous Effects of the Fixity of Tenure Movement on the National Cause – Signs of the Effects of the Removal of the Barriers of Irish Society – Natural and necessary Solution of the Anglo-Irish Question – Conclusion.

The growing bulk of my volume gives warning that it is time to stop my pen, and, for the present at least, to interrupt the stream of recollections that seems to press upon me with an increased strength and fulness, as I have, by degrees, opened a channel for its flow. In drawing to a conclusion, however, I cannot persuade myself to let slip the opportunity of sketching, in a few brief sentences, the present condition of Ireland, as a counterpart to the traits I have drawn of her former state – to point, as it were, the moral of my tale, so far as it relates to the trials, and sufferings, and hopes of my country. Adopting the metaphor of Grattan, I may say that I witnessed the birth of, her constitution, lived through the short period of her existence as a nation, and have survived her death for half a century. During the long and dreary sleep of the grave that has succeeded, I have never ceased to believe in the possibility of her regeneration. Is there yet a hope remaining that the mouldering and corrupt mass shall ever be resuscitated into a new and purer form of national life? With the experience of more than ten lustra of misery and oppression, of domestic broil and debasing protection to damp my ardour, my answer to this question still is, that my faith in the destinies of the, Irish people has not ceased to live. At this, her darkest hour, I look forward with confidence to the internal union, the prosperity and the independence of Ireland.

Where are the foundations of this hope that has grown with my strength and years of manhood, and has lived on through my weakness and age? They seem to me to be discernible even in the fabric of those circumstances that English ministries look to as the last signs of the triumph of the policy that has for its end the denationalisation of this fair kingdom, and the confusion of its identity in the unwieldy and bloated mass of the British empire. When the contrivers of the Legislative Union in 1799 avowed to each other, in their most secret communications *, the great object of their work to be a stoppage of the progress of the growing prosperity of Ireland, they probably did not dream of so complete an attainment of that end as their successors have achieved in 1849. Their high-vaulting ambition has o’erleaped its selle. They have not merely stopped the growing prosperity of Ireland-they have done more; they have reduced the strength of her people-of her peers and of her peasants-to a homogeneous mass of misery, and they have fastened that upon the shoulders of England which already totters under the burthen.

[* Mr. Edward Cooke’s Notes in Favour of the Union. Will a Union make Ireland quiet?

Who can judge for the future? Yet, although we cannot command futurity, we are to act as if futurity were in our power. We must argue from moral causes to moral effects. If, then, we are in a disadvantageous situation, we must, of course, look to those causes which have brought us into that situation. What are they?

lst. The local independent acting of the Legislature.

2nd. The general prosperity of the country, which has produced great activity and energy

3rd. The emancipation of the Catholics.

4th. The encouragement given to the reform principles of the Presbyterians.

5th. The want of number in the Protestants.

6th. The uncertainty of counsels as to this great division of the country. Now what is the complaint? That we have not influence in the originating Cabinet. By a Union we should have that influence.

We have no influence in the originating Parliament of the Empire. We should have a great and commanding interest there.

The want of numbers, which is the want of power, would be increased by an accession of all the Protestants of the Empire.

The question of Reform would be settled.

The Catholic question would he settled.

The question then is, Can these moral causes of discontent he taken away with safety without Union?

1st. Can the Protestants of Ireland, as a separate State, gain an internal accession of strength as Protestants? No.

2nd. Can the Roman Catholic question be altered so as to preclude Reform of Parliament? It cannot.

3rd. Can a Reform of Parliament be made consistent with Protestant security. It cannot.

4th. The Representative body of Ireland will obtain a joint right with the Representative of Great Britain to legislate for the whole Empire. – Castlereagh Memoirs, vol. iii., pp. 54, 55.]

Their caricaturists have represented the Celt with his legs of leather clinging around the neck of the sturdy Saxon, and ministers and people made merry at the conceit, thinking not of the moral of the eastern story. Sinbad found not rest by day or by night; his food ceased to nourish him, his sleep brought no refreshment so long as the old man of the island, whose carriage he had voluntarily imposed upon himself, continued to press in dead weight upon his strength, and to consume his resources in ravening idleness. Sinbad found no relief from his misery until he intoxicated his tormenter, and beat out his brains with the fragment of a rock.

There is no prospect of a like relief for the Saxon. He has, indeed, exhausted the vigour of his old man by absentee depletion – he has paralysed his limbs by denying to him opportunities for their exercise; but, intoxicated though he be by a debasing alms-system, he will but hold his seat the more tenaciously for his stupor, and, unless he be charmed off by the assurance of freedom, there will he sit on until, with his bearer, he shall sink down in common helplessness.

The policy of stopping the growth of Irish prosperity has succeeded, so far as the immediate object is concerned. The gentry, attracted to the English metropolis by the business of parliament and the pleasures of the court, have been broken down in spirit and fortune, as completely as were the noblesse of France by the analogous device of Louis XIV. The Grand Monarque, destroyed the influence and corrupted the patriotism of the French nobles, by drawing them to Paris by the force of fashion; the English government dealt in like manner with the Irish gentry by forcing them to follow after their political importance to London.

In the one case and in the other, estates were at once neglected and wasted; local ties were dissolved; the bond of feeling, as well as that of mutual interest between the owners and occupiers of land, was severed-the former were plunged into difficulties by their increased expenditure; the latter galled by the expedients rendered necessary by those difficulties. In France there was a revolution and a re-distribution of property ; in Ireland, a revolt of the forty-shilling freeholders, and a long agrarian war, with all its lamentable concomitants of murder, agitation, and demagogue rule. For a while this state of things jumped well with the English policy.

The division, for the purpose of government, of the Irish people, was facilitated; landlords and agents were shot, and farmers and cottiers were evicted and starved; but still corn and cattle were exported to England, and their price spent in London, and Cheltenham, and Brighton: there were Orange and Ribbon processions and battles, and bloody election fights; but still some scores of venal votes were brought into the imperial political market, and some half-dozens of well-trained gladiators provided for the faction games of Westminster.

Ireland was going on very well for English purposes. To keep matters going, it was only necessary now and then to rob and insult the resident gentry, and, when the tide turned, to shoot and hang the peasants, and all through to keep up a supply of places and pensions for leading factionaries of both colours. With attention to these precautions, all went right: Ireland was divided and governed; her people grew corn, reared cattle and pigs to feed Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds; supplied the army with horse, foot, and dragoons, and starved without grumbling upon potatoes.

It is true this climax of the English policy could not have been long maintained. The progress of a nation cannot be stopped at the precise point that suits the convenience of her rulers. If the natural tendency to advance be checked, there will surely be a retrograde movement, and that too, in a direct proportion with the strength of the original impulse. In morals, as in physics, action and reaction are equal; and when the unionists, acting upon the principle laid down in Mr. Secretary Cooke’s private memoranda, succeeded in checking the growing prosperity of Ireland, the force they were obliged to exert to stop the machine caused it to move backwards with a rapidity upon which, it is probable, they did not calculate.

The organisation of society set a-going under the constitution of ’82, and which was proceeding during the next 18 years, in spite of the English ministerial impediments of a close parliament and a religious persecution, was, after the melancholy epoch of 1800, speedily dissolved, and replaced by that chaos of faction and corruption, which, growing darker and more confused from year to year, seemed, about the years 1843-44, to be on the point of passing into a state of social dissolution.

The 50,000 bayonets and sabres with which the English government thought it necessary to hedge its divinity inspired no awe. The people saw them through the light of their victory of ’29, and the impressions of their own superior force communicated by that and subsequent similar events, were continued and strengthened by the ill-concealed tremblings and delusive concessions of the ministers. Messages of peace were laughed at, when they were known to be framed under the shadow of clouds in the far west.

Commissions to inquire into questions that lay in a nutshell, were looked at either as tedious and expensive contrivances for evasion, or as direct stimulants to the pressure from without. The instance of the Land Inquiry Commission will serve as a specimen of the whole policy, and of its effects. The land difficulty rested on the surface. The owners, made absentees by the English policy, were at one stroke deprived of their local influence, and impoverished. Their poverty obliged them to exact, with rigour, rents which their personal neglect of the public business of their districts, as well as of their own private affairs, rendered burthensome. The decline of their local influence added at once to the difficulty of collecting those rents, and to the bitterness that accompanied their violent exaction.

A state of fierce hostility sprung up where there should naturally have been the peaceful relation of commercial dealers, if not the more friendly union of landlord and tenant. The occupier of the land then fell into arrear, and his stock was seized: the owner evicted, and if increasing poverty drove him homewards, was shot. This was the exact state of matters, and it was clearly one that direct legislation could not cure. To invest an absentee landlord with more legal power to enforce his rights would not render him more observant of his duties. To fence round the dishonesty of an irritated tenant with additional chicaneries of law, would not calm his vexation, or teach him correct principles of dealing. Sir Robert Peel knew these truths: one can scarcely doubt, too, that he was aware of the moral impossibility of a society existing in a wholesome state, while some of its essential elements are deficient yet this minister did not meet the land difficulty by measures for the restoration of its abstracted parts to the Irish community, but tried to evade it by the issue of the Land Inquiry Commission.

In its contrivance, and in its working, the landowners saw a shabby, paltering, half-confessed scheme for putting their evil day a very little farther off; while the land occupiers hailed it as an encouragement to the more ardent pursuit of their own plans. The former fell in with the policy of evasion, and set about patching up laws to confuse the already tangled relation of landlord and tenant; the latter advanced boldly to the assertion of an indefeasible right in property, irrespective of the covenants under which they had obtained its temporary occupation. Thus arose, from this very foolish or very wicked trickery of Sir Robert reel, that fierce agitation for a new distribution of the soil which raged in 1843-4, and 5, under the name of the “fixity of tenure,” or “tenant-right” movement and which would most certainly have brought to a common and not remote end, order and civilisation, and the English system of government in Ireland, had not the will of Providence otherwise determined and overruled at once, as I trust the event will prove, the approximating extremes of the policy of our unionist and our anarchist enemies.

The failure of the potato crop, begun in 1845, and continued up to the present year, has, among its other consequences, been attended by two remarkable results. It has completed the breaking down of the spirit and fortunes of the Irish gentry; and it has put an end to that death-struggle for land which gave its peculiar character and danger to the revolutionary movement. The unphilosophical and barbarous experiments wherewith the government met the famine have not only eaten up the available means of the proprietors, but have burthened their lands with debt and obligation for poor-rate and useless works-rate and ineffectual drainage-rate, to an amount so great that, in a large portion of the kingdom, it must be absolutely vain to contend against it.

There has been much talk about the family liens and encumbrances of Irish estates; but however mischievous these may have been in themselves to the landlord, the tenant, and the community, they did not in their essential nature preclude a possibility of the soil being employed for the public advantage. To the evil of encumbrances there was, indeed, added another and a greater evil in the incubus of law and lawyers, whose pressure, no doubt, operated to nullify the most vigorous and honest efforts, both of debtor and creditor, to escape from the difficulties of their position. But even this cruel oppression it was possible to contend against.

When family-debtor, and spendthrift-mortgagor, and orphan, widow, and creditor, were all ruined, and barely sufficient remained to discharge the attorney’s bill, the law commonly relaxed its grasp, and the land was transferred unburthened to new hands, wherein it might become profitable to the community; until the follies of another generation should again mesh it in legal toils. The case is now far different: the possessors and the occupiers of the soil may be changed; the former may be thrust out by the Encumbered Estates Commissioners, with little ceremony and less protracted torture than would formerly have been necessary; the latter may be more summarily cleared off by new processes of eviction, but still the burthen of poor-rate arrears, and the more intolerable burthen of an indefinite prospective rating, will remain to clog the efforts of industry, with a weight the magnitude of which was not, I believe, calculated upon even by the authors of the Union.

It is within my own knowledge that farms let during the past year for the rates only, have been since given up, and the payment of those charges thrown upon a landlord who had already exhausted his revenues in generous endeavours to improve and tend his lands and tenants. I speak of a case within my own know-ledge; but in doing so I but cite an example of a class of cases, with numerous instances of which most men in Ireland are acquainted. Wherever an Irish proprietor shall be found desirous of serving his country, and preserving his property, by actively encouraging local improvement, he will surely have neighbours by whose neglect or absenteeism such an amount of pauperism and poor-rate will be created, as will quickly reduce his own means to a point at which he can neither give employment nor maintain his accustomed state; nay, often not even provide himself with the necessaries of life. Such men, during the last three or four years, have made desperate efforts; they have burthened themselves with drainage loans; they have engaged in attempts, absolutely small, but great for their means, to develop the industrial resources of the country; and with what result? Their drainage loans have been too often dissipated in salaries to government officers, and in unprofitable encumbrances upon their rentless acres; if they sought a fishing company’s charter, or a railway act their little capital was, after a thousand delays and difficulties, eaten up by the officials of a foreign legislature, without whose permission Irishmen must not co-operate in an Irish undertaking.

It is the nature of such difficulties as these to accumulate with rapidity, and whatever of perseverance or individual pecuniary means may be brought to oppose them must in no long time be overwhelmed. What, under such circumstances, can an Irish gentleman do? Must he not remember that nature has endowed his country with a fertility that, were it not for the wilfulness of man, would supply thrice the number of her population with abundant means of subsistence?

[The returns of agricultural produce in Ireland for the year 1848, compiled by that excellent public servant, Major Larcom, have just now fallen under my notice, and so remarkably corroborate the views of the capability of Ireland advanced above, that I will make no apology for quoting from it the following numerical facts:-

Table showing the comparative amount of grain, to each person, in each province of Ireland


lbs. per head

Leinster 885

Ulster 696

Munter 380

Connaught 347

From this it would appear that there was actually grown in Ireland, during the year 1848, an average of 577lbs. of grain for each inhabitant. Taking the common estimate of a quarter (480lbs.) of grain per head, as sufficient for a year’s consumption, it would, therefore, seem that there was a famine in the land coincident with a superabundance of grain, amounting to 971bs. for each man, woman, and child of its people. Yet it is shown by Major Larcom that the produce of 1848 was much below that of the immediately preceding year. The following is his table of averaged results:-


Barrels per acre Oats

Barrels per acre Barley

Barrels per acre Rye

Barrels per acre Beans

Bushels per acre Potatoes

Tons per acre Turnips

Tons per acre

1847 6.6 8.4 8.8 8.2 8.6 57 15

1848 4.5 7.4 8.3 8 8.2 30 14

Must not that remembrance be accompanied by the reflection, that the cause of his misfortunes has been created by a legislature wherein he is unrepresented, and by which his remonstrances are altogether disregarded? He is told by the loaders and factionaries of a political party, that he must attend to his corn and his cattle, and think not of politics, which have been the bane of him and his country. And that they have been so is most true. The politics of English Whigs and Tories have been the bane of Ireland: the politics that, by making her gentry and her legislature absentees, engendered the evils to which I have already referred: the politics that by a series of laws and loans for the encouragement of pauperisation, fatally exasperated those evils. Such politics have done their appointed work upon gentry and people, and they have fixed the politicians in place and power; therefore, say the Whig and Tory placemen (for in the names there is a distinction without a difference) – therefore, let no Irishman counterwork those politics that have produced such happy results in ruining him, and aggrandising us. This is the precise meaning of the ministerial deprecation of politics; and that it is so, would be made manifest enough to-morrow, were the leadership of John Russell to need the support of party clamour. For my own part, however, I fully concur in the propriety of the recommendation to abandon politics in this latter sense. I would not willingly see a single Irishman lift a finger as an English partisan, and it is through my hope, that the wounds the Irish gentry and middle classes have received in that warfare, may have caused them to reflect upon its real nature, and (in relation to themselves) its monstrous wickedness, that I now see a faint glimmering of sunshine.

The gentlemen, farmers, and tradesmen of Ireland have fought long enough under the banners of petty chiefs, retained by one or other of the English factions. The chiefs have been provided for, and fortunately they have left no successors: the disbanded followers have been sent back to their ploughshares and counters weary and penniless. Former animosities are forgotten in an overwhelming sense of present misery. Men who, but a little while since, fought with fanatic fury to carry this or that English leader into Downing-street, now gaze upon the mutual injuries received and inflicted in those insane quarrels, with astonishment and dismay.

I do not think there has been a hundred pounds subscribed for Whig and Tory registrations in the whole of Ireland during the last two years. The Irish people have abandoned party politics, and I cannot believe that they will not turn their naturally acute minds to the consideration of politics of a broader kind. They cannot do better than diligently to attend to their ploughs, and their oxstalls, and their sheep-walks. In doing so, they must abandon placehunting; and as there is now a chance of their seeing objects untinged by the colours of English parties, it seems hard to suppose that they will not inquire into the circumstances that, in Ireland alone of all the world, render corn and cattle the emblems not of prosperity, but of hard and biting poverty. If this inquiry be honestly made, and pushed to its legitimate extent, I entertain no fear for the result. That its institution will probably be an immediate consequence of the levelling of Irish fortunes I believe, and that it may be carried out in a calm and liberal spirit is my earnest prayer.

As the breaking down of the fortunes of the Irish gentry has thus tended to obliterate one cause of our domestic disunion-the spirit of English partisanship so I think the determination of the death-struggle for land, which has also been a result of the potato-famine, has greatly modified another. Minute fragments of land are no longer clung to with the desperate tenacity of former days, when its possession was the sole condition of existence.

The voice of the peasant is therefore no longer available to swell the cry for an agrarian law under the doubtful name of “Fixity of Tenure.” To the raising of that cry, I firmly believe, the total subversion of the Irish national party may be traced, and the remembrance of it will ever be the greatest obstacle in the way of its restoration. Whatever may have been the intentions of those who invented the phrase, it certainly conveyed to the minds of the ignorant no other notion than that of an easy appropriation of the property of others; and to those of persons of reflection, the idea alone of spoliation, not merely of their accumulations vested in land, but of the daily earnings of their industry. That many of the promoters of the movement in question were incapable of entertaining the idea of M. Prudhon – that property is robbery – I am well aware, and I will not argue that it could be legitimately traced in their language; but it was, nevertheless, an easy corollary from their proposition, and as such it was received by the public. Now, the feeling of property is not merely stronger in the human mind than that of nationality, but it is its necessary antecedent. It is impossible that a nation can exist independent of rights of property, both collective and individual. Therefore no man of sense or honour could implicate himself in a movement to attempt the establishment of nationality upon an essentially defective basis.

I have already, I hope, both in this volume and elsewhere, expressed my views upon the subject of the relations between landlord and tenant with sufficient clearness, and have also carried them into practice, to my own great advantage, for too long a period, to permit me to fear that the foregoing remarks will be misunderstood as containing an advocacy of the extreme doctrine of ” doing what one like s with their own.” My understanding of a complete enjoyment of property, on the contrary, is fully expressed by the old maxim of law, which sanctions a man in using his own rights as freely as he can do, without injuring those of another; and for that amount of liberty alone do I contend. So thinking, I look with satisfaction upon the decline of the popular competition for land in Ireland, as the removal of another barrier between the classes, the replacement of which, I earnestly hope, may be rendered impossible by a fair regard on the part of the landowners to the principles of commercial prudence, which I am quite certain will be found to be coincident with those of humanity and justice, in their dealings with the cultivators of their lands.

It is upon these two great points of approximation between the classes that I chiefly rest my hopes for the future unity, prosperity, and legislative independence of Ireland. It is only in this order progress can be made. The barriers of English party politics, and of agrarian agitation, being removed from between Irishmen, it is possible they may unite, prosper, and become free.

That something more than the mere removal of barriers has been already done towards the advancement of this holy work I would fain persuade myself. The mutual sufferings, and kindnesses, and co-operation, during the last three or four years, of men who before never met, and who, in all probability, ignorantly hated and feared each other, must have softened many hearts. There is a growing feebleness manifested from day to day in the convulsive efforts of the demagogues to keep up the old party strife. The government evidently find a difficulty in perpetuating discord. It is plain, from the testimony in reference to the late orange and green fight in the County of Down, that the raising of a finger by the executive would have prevented the lamentable results of a demonstration which was engaged in unwillingly, and under the spur of faithless and cowardly leaders. It has been found impossible to get up a cry even upon the acknowledged and offensive grievance of the Church Establishment. Added to these signs, there is, too, the most important fact that a united education of the people is going on, and being extended upwards in the social scale, under a system, the triumph of which over the bigotry of the two extremes of party, is now accomplished. I see these specks of blue sky upon the horizon, and I hope that the breaking up of the clouds that overhang the destiny of my country may be looked for at no distant day.

But, however or whenever it may arrive, the independence of Ireland is sure to come at last – as sure as that the Roman Empire fell in pieces, or the North American provinces are now free states. England holds no patent of exemption from the common lot of nations. When misfortune shall overtake her, or the lot common to empires as to individuals, can she lay the flattering unction to her soul that she has acted with probity towards Ireland?

At all events, it is certain that a highly-centralised government, and a hired soldier class altogether separate from the citizen, and, as the necessary consequence, a monstrous and growing load of debt, form a political conjunction that, in the history of the world, has not been known to endure long. A metropolis containing nearly two and a-half millions of people, and an insular province ungovernable without the aid of 50,000 bayonets, are materials of a political fabric such as were never at any period found to be congruous. Yet, day after day, London is growing larger and larger, and the administration of the government of Ireland is, with equal steps, becoming less and less domestic. The public works are executed; a monstrous establishment of beggars is maintained, by the agency of hired English officials, who, at their own pleasure, impose a ruinous taxation upon the people, and cause it to be levied by 50,000 English mercenaries, under the apparently civil superintendence of stipendiary magistrates.

Here is a succinct but complete account of the English Government in Ireland. Under it the staff of paid officials now rivals in number those of the Austrian and Russian despotisms, and it is gradually increasing. This cannot last, and the sooner it shall be brought to an end the better for the two countries. It is the interest of both the kingdoms, different and distinct as they are, morally and physically, to be separate and yet united. It is only under such a constitution the British Empire can be sustained in its grandeur, as a rallying point for liberty and progress.

To England, I would say, it is your interest that Ireland should recognise in you her best friend and federated ally under the same imperial crown. To my own countrymen my parting advice is, obey the law, but endeavour to change it: in your internal relations, bear and forbear with each other: concordia parva crescunt; discordia, maxima dilabuntur: distracted and divided by civil and religious strife, you will be poor and oppressed: united in industry, you will prosper; and prosperous, you will be free. The God that made Ireland fertile, and placed her on the confines of two hemispheres, designated her before the world as the key of Eastern and Western commerce, and a home of civilisation and freedom.

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