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Art. II.-On Local Disturbances in Ireland, and on the Irish
Church Question. By George Cornewall Lewis, Esq. 8vo.
London, 1836. FROM the time of Lord Anglesey's appointment to be Lord
Lieutenant, under the Whigs, in 1830, to the recall of Lord Wellesley, by the military dictator, in 1834, the scoff of the Tories was incessant—that there was no “Government-party” in Ireland. Nor was the reproach unfounded. For, as soon as the former nobleman had unfolded his plans, and chosen his instruments to carry them into effect, the only party from which he could have expected any support, left him. The People withdrew,-at first, “more in sorrow than in anger,”—and, standing afar off, watched his wavering efforts to do right, and the steady exertions of his evil counsellors to resist it.
Before his arrival in Dublin, O'Connell had declared war against him. The elevation of Doherty to the bench was a personal insult to “ The Liberator," which he might have waived; but the choice of Blackburne to be Attorney-General was a wrong inflicted upon his country, which he had too much reason to resent. Many blame him for the hasty expression of his indignation at those promotions; and attribute the readiness, with which the Lord-Lieutenant fell into the course of Mr. Blackburne's insidiqus counsels, to the vehemence of O'Connell's hostility. This may have been; for Lord Anglesey was both irritable and vain enough to have been easily bullied or beguiled into any course, however unsuitable or unwise, which might have the semblance of a high spirit to recommend it. But, whatever may have been his motives or provocations, he returned O'Connell's enmity with a degree of personal virulence quite derogatory to his place, and which made his opponent an object of still greater importance than he otherwise might have been.
There was yet a party in Ireland disposed to give the Whig Government "a fair trial;" a party not so considerable by its numerical strength as by the high character and deserved influence of the persons who composed it. These were the Old Whigs, who had studied the principles of reform, and imbibed its true spirit, from the lips of Fox, and Grattan, and Ponsonby. There was no lack of such men in Ireland, qualified by station and intellect to direct public opinion. The most valuable and thinking portion of the people still looked up to them as their natural leaders, thought highly of their integrity, relied upon their judgment, and would have rallied at their call, if they could have assumed such a position as might enable them to collect a body of supporters around them.
Some of the most distinguished members of this party left the retirement, which the protracted sway of the Tories had made their post of honour; and gathered round the Viceroy to whom Earl Grey had confided the destinies of Ireland. But such of them as preferred to hold fast by their integrity, rather than bask in the unwonted sunshine of a court, were speedily driven out of those precincts. As the system of the new Government (if it can be said to have had any system) developed itself, their visits at the castle were frequently made for other purposes than to congratulate or to praise; and in a very short time, the face of an honest Whig, who would not hesitate to speak out the whole truth, boldly and freely, was as unwelcome a sight in that place as it would have been when Saurin governed, and Earl Talbot received the pay.
Thus, the Irish Government was soon left without a party, and it continued so, under the influence of Proclamations, Tithe Prosecutions, and the Coercion Act, until Lord Anglesey and Mr. Stanley took their several departures out of the land. The former was, certainly, a man who meant well, and possessed many excellent and popular qualities. He was manly, sincere, generous, and confiding; and, in better hands, would have been an invaluable governor of a people whose character resembled his own, in many of its best points. But he wanted head; a deficiency which manifested itself as disastrously in the failings of his judgment as in the infirmities of his temper.
Mr. Littleton's appointment to succeed Mr. Stanley gave renewed hope to the country. His character, for many years, stood high with the Irish people; for, before he became involved in the labyrinths of office, he had always consistently and zealously supported the soundest principles, and advocated, with generous warmth, the right of Ireland to enjoy an equal participation of freedom with the other members of the United Kingdom. But generous and upright sentiments are
more easily shown off in a few holiday speeches, than they are reduced to practice in the whispering-galleries of Dublin Castle. The new secretary courted the society of honest men. It was a good sign. And he made a kind of parade of consulting their opinions on affairs of high, as well as of trivial, import. This, however, was the utmost length to which he ventured; for, in his acts, he walked in the footsteps of his predecessor, and followed the counsels of men who loved not the people, and whom, consequently, the people never trusted.
As for Lord Wellesley, he never had a party in Ireland. When he was ten years younger, he had been Lord-Lieutenant, and his want of energy was even then conspicuous. He was
indeed tied, at that time, to Mr. Goulburn for a Chief-Secretary,– a drag heavy enough to damp the speed of a steam-coach. But his indolence might have been trusted without exterior controul. It inclined him to keep much within the range of his “ tether," which he never attempted to strain. On his return in 1833, with an increase of light and experience, and with powers greatly enlarged, he was still the same man; and concerned himself as little as possible in public business. His Greek letters to Lord Brougham, were among the most vigorous, as they were certainly the most remarkable, personal acts of his second administration.
It is no slight proof of the estimation in which Lord Wellesley's political character was held, at that time, by the plotters against the Government, that the Marquis of Downshire rose from the breakfast-table of this Lord-Lieutenant, with whom he had been on a visit for
some days previously, to attend the Conservative meeting, at the Lord Mayor's, on (we think) the 4th of August, 1834: “ That great loyal assemblage,” in which Lord Londonderry “glories,” and where the extension of the baleful Orange system, which afterwards spread like a flame through all parts of Ireland, was solemnly recommended. The guest of Lord Wellesley took a conspicuous part at that meeting, with so little consciousness of doing anything offensive to his host, that he wrote, that same evening, to beg an appointment under the Government for a servant or tenant of his. We mention this fact, not as reflecting, or meaning to reflect, on Lord Wellesley's fidelity to his party; for we can no more doubt his honour, than we can question the capacity of the most noble Weathercock of the North, to form erroneous conclusions.
He, who for so many years had misunderstood his own character, might well misconceive that of others. But this fact shows what hopes Lord Wellesley had left it in the power of the mortal fões of his party, to build upon, so far as his inaction and indecision were concerned; and it justifies the inference which we would draw from it, that while it was possible for them to fall into such an error, it was not possible for the Irish people to confide in his Government, or to give it their support.
At the restoration of Lord Melbourne's Government, some zealous advocates of the status quo wished to have Lord Wellesley sent to Ireland, the third time. But from that crime (for it would have been nothing less) the good genius, or the good sense, of the Premier preserved him; and a nobleman was selected, of all others the fittest for the time, the most acceptable to The People, and the best qualified by directness of purpose, and high moral courage, to consummate the triumph which had been achieved for Ireland.
Beside the personal qualifications of Lord Mulgrave, to acquit himself efficiently in this high and arduous trust, it was an advantage not enjoyed by either of his Whig predecessors, that he had never before occupied the same post, under another regime. He had therefore no former associations to shake off, no untoward recollections or prejudices to bury in oblivion, no bad habits to get rid of. His ear had not been poisoned by the “ leperous distilments” of Tory leeches, nor his vision perplexed by viewing objects through a falsified medium. He was perfectly disengaged to receive impressions from the evidence which should come before him, and to obey the dictates of his own sound, unbiassed, and honest judgment.
Neither had he to contend with that agency, which had so often caused the failure of good intentions in the same place; he was not yoked with a Chief-Secretary, commissioned to thwart his designs, or mar them in the performance. *Lord Morpeth, even from his boyish days, had cherished a warm and enthusiastic attachment to Ireland; and as his judgment ripened, and his powers of discrimination and reflection expanded, he was the more confirmed in that generous and just sentiment. Far from counteracting the plans formed by the Lord-Lieutenant, for the good of Ireland, he is his anxious and zealous fellowlabourer. Some of the most decided and popular acts of the Government, have been adopted at the suggestion of Lord Morpeth,—the principles and feelings of whose mind, dispose him to go hand-in-hand with Lord Mulgrave, in every work of peace and justice. He is ardent, ingenuous, and honest; and his cooperation derives a value, which even the lustre of his talents could not give it, from the religious tenor of his life. more attention to the ordinances of his Church, than nine-tenths of those who make such an uproar about its supposed perilous condition. The Orangemen, particularly those who affect a more straight-laced method of devotion, are sorely troubled by this trait in the Chief-Secretary's character, the sincerity of which no person has dared to impugn. We doubt not that many of them wish he were “ hot or cold;" that is, a hot Conservative, or a cold Christian. But moderate and true Protestants, justly regard his genuine and unaffected attachment to their Faith, as a strong security for the really sacred interests of the Establishment with which it is united.
It was an additional happiness in Lord Mulgrave's situation, that he was not encumbered by a necessity of providing for Mr. Blackburne. That skilful tactician had thrown himself overboard in right good time. Through all the changes of the former Whig Government, Ireland saw him true to his place. That was his
principle. He had adhered to Lord Anglesey with a tenacity which was mistaken by that frank easy man for personal devoted
Mr. Stanley was, “ in the next degree," the object of his most profound respect; yet did not this sentiment for one Secretary obstruct or weaken his veneration for another; for Mr. Littleton found him full of exalted dispositions to admire him also. Changes of systems were nothing to a servant of his King, who made it his boast that he was not a politician, and never had, nor ever would belong, to any party. The first “ Destructive" Cabinet of Lord Melbourne, therefore, found Mr. Blackburn, as “ honest and true,” as he had been to the Ministry which gave Ireland the Coercion Act, and as he would undoubtedly have been to the Government which now is; had he kept himself free to obtrude his service upon it. His fidelity to all his employers was of a piece with that of Dame Quickly, to the lovers of “ sweet Mistress Anne Page.” He “ would do what he could for them all three, but speciously for Master Fenton." * In an evil hour for poor Blackburne, Master Fenton had dropped in with a counterfeit coin, and slipped it into his hand, just in time to relieve the Whigs for ever from all care or embarrassment about him.
This auspicious riddance, left the way clear for Perrin, an able, honest and just man, whom nobody ever accused of saying one thing, and hiding another in his thoughts. His opinions, independent, decided, and strong, but always expressed and maintained with moderation, were in unison with those of the Government, to whose cause he had done good service in Parliament. At the bar, he had no superior in the knowledge of the Common Law, and in those branches of the profession with which the business and duties of the Crown are more immediately connected. He was the implacable enemy of injustice and fraud, outrage, and oppression. Whether the offenders were in the highest walks of society, or amongst its most abandoned outcasts; he was equally resolute to cause law and right to be respected, and injury redressed. No man, therefore, was more dreaded by knaves of “ every degree”-none more confided in by all true men.
Even the more respectable among the Tories, while they condemned his politics, admired his probity, and acknowledged the justice and perfect impartiality of his official conduct.
• The whole passage is worth quoting :“I would my Master had Mistress Anne; or I would Master Slender had her; or sooth, I would Master Fenton had her. I will do what I can for the
all three ; for so have promised, and I'll be as good as my word; but speciously, for Master Fenton."--Merry Wives of Windsor.