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THE MEMOIRS OF LORD CASTLEREAGH.
In the absence of any real history troubled times of Ireland-a country of Ireland, the memoirs of its distin - where trouble seems to be indigenous. guished persons are of the first im- One of those loyalists was Colonel portance. They are the landmarks William Stewart, who, during the Irish within which the broad and gene- war, under James II., raised a troop of ral track of historic narrative horse at his own expense, and skirmust be led. They fix character-the mished vigorously against the Popish most necessary aid to the larger views enemy at the siege of Londonderry. of the historian. They disclose to us For this good service he was attainted, those secret springs which regulate the with all the chief gentry of the king. great social machinery; and by an espe- dom, in the confiscating parliament of cial faculty, more valuable than all, James. But the confiscation was they bring us face to face with minds of not carried into effect, and the estate acknowledged eminence, teach us the remained to a long line of successors. course which the known conquerors of The father of the late Marquis of difficulties have pursued, and exhibit Londonderry was the first of the fathe training by which the champion- mily who was ennobled. He was an ship of nations is to be sustained. As active, intelligent, and successful man. the old lawgiver commanded that beau- Representing his county in two parliatiful statues should be placed before the ments, and, acting with the governSpartan wives, to impress their infants ment, he partook of that golden shower with beauty of countenance and state which naturally falls from the treasury. liness of form, the study of greatness He became in succession the possessor has a tendency to elevate our nature; of office and the possessor of title and though camps and councils may baron, viscount, earl, and marquis be above our course, yet the light shed and wisely allied himself with Engfrom those higher spheres may guide lish nobility, marrying, first, a daughour steps through the tangled paths of ter of the Earl of Hertford, and, seour humbler world.
condly, a sister of Lord Camden. The The present memoir gives evidence subject of this (memoir was a son of of an additional merit in biography: the first marriage, and was born in it assists justice ; it offers the power Ireland on the 18th of June 1769. of clearing character, which might From boyhood he was remarkable for have been refused to the living; it coolness and intrepidity, and was said brings forward means of justification, to have exhibited both qualities in sav. which the dignity of the injured, his ing a young companion in the lake of contempt of calumny, or the circum- Strangford. At the age of seventeen stances of his time, might have locked he was entered of St John's College, up in his bosom. It is an appeal from Cambridge, where he seems to have the passion of the hour to the soberness applied himself actively to the general of years. It has the sincerity and the studies of the place-elementary masanctity of a voice from the world of thematics, classics, logic, and moral the future.
philosophy. This sufficiently answers The Stewarts, ancestors of the the subsequent taunts at the narrowMarquis of Londonderry, came ori- ness of his education. ginally from Scotland, and, settling in As his father had been a politician, Ireland in the reign of James I., ob- his son and heir was naturally intained large possessions among the for- tended for political life. The first feited lands in Ulster. The family were step of his ambition was a costly one. Protestants, and distinguished them. County elections in those days were selves by Protestant loyalty in the formidable affairs. The Hillsborough
Memoirs and Correspondence of VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH, (second MARQUIS OF LONDONDERRY.) Edited by his brother, CHARLES VANE, MARQUIS OF LONDONDERRY. 2 vols. London: Colburn.
family had formerly monopolised the which made all change perilous: the county. Young Stewart was put for- Popish peasantry had been suffered ward, according to custom, as “the to obtain the right of voting; and champion of independence." He gain- thenceforward he should not aid ed but half the day, for the Hillsbo- parliamentary reform. roughs still retained one nominee. It is to be observed, that this The young candidate became a mem- language was not used under the ber of parliament, but this step cost temptation of office, for he did not £60,000.
possess any share in administration The sacrifice was enormous, and until four years afterwards, in 1797. perhaps, in our day, might startle the T he forty-shilling franchise was the proudest rent-roll in England: but, monster evil of Ireland. Every seventy years ago, and in Ireland, the measure of corruption, of conspiracy, real expenditure was probably equi. and of public convulsion, originated valent to £100,000 in our day. And in that most mischievous, factious, it must have been still more distress- and false step. It put the whole ing to the family, from the circum- parliamentary power of the country stance, that the sum had been accumu- into the hands of faction ; made publated to build a mansion; that the lic counsel the dictation of the popuexpense of the election also required lace; turned every thing into a job; the sale of a fine old collection of fa- and finally, by the pampering of the mily portraits ; and that the old lord rabble, inflamed them into civil war, was forced to spend the remainder of and, by swamping the constituency, his life in what the biographer states rendered the extinction of the parliato be an old barn, with a few rooms ment a matter of necessity to the added. But his son was now launched existence of the constitution. on public life-that stream in which so To this measure-at once weak and many dashing swimmers sink, but in ruinous, at once the triumph of which talent, guided by caution, sel- faction and the deathblow of Irish dom fails to float along, until nature tranquillity ; at once paralysing all or weariness finishes the effort, and the the powers of the legislature for man disappears, like all who went good, and sinking the peasantry into before.
deeper degradation—we must give a The young member, fresh from few words. college, and flushed with triumph over The original condition of the pea* parliamentary monopoly," was, of santry in Ireland was serfdom. A course, a Whig. Plutarch's Lives, few hereditary chiefs, with the power and the history of the classic com- of life and death, ruled the whole monwealths, make every boy at lower population, as the master of the school a Whig. It is only when they herd rules his cattle. English law emerge from the cloudy imaginations raised them from this condition, and of republicanism, and the fabulous gave them the rights of Englishmen. feats of Greek championship, that But no law of earth could give the they acquire common sense, and act Celt the industry, frugality, or perseaccording to the realities of things. verance of the Englishman. The result The future statesman commenced his was, that the English artificer, huscareer by the ultra-patriotism of bandman, and trader, became men of giving a “written pledge," on the property, while the Celt lingered out hustings, to the support of “parlia- life in the idleness of his forefathers. mentary reform."
Robbery was easier than work, and With this act of boyishness he he robbed ; rebellion was more was, of course, taunted in after-life by tempting than loyalty, and he rebelthe Whigs. But his answer was na- led: the result was the frequent fortural and just: it was in substance, feiture of the lands of chiefs, who, that he had been, in 1790, an advo- prompted by their priests, excited by cate for Irish reform; and if the Irish their passions, and urged by the hope parliament had continued under the of plunder, were continually rebelling, same circumstances, he would be an and necessarily punished for their readvocate for its reform still. But bellion. Portions of their lands were in 1793 a measure had been carried, distributed as the pay of the soldiery VOL. LXIV.NO. CCCXCVII.
who conquered them ; portions were misery is given in the narrowness of given to English colonists, trans- the population, which, at the begin. planted for the express purpose of ning of the last century, scarcely establishing English allegiance, arts, reckoned a million of souls : and and feelings in Ireland ; and portions this, too, in a country of remarkable devolved to the crown. But we are fertility, free from all habitual disease, not to imagine that these were with a temperate climate, and a transfers of smiling landscapes and breadth of territory containing at this propitious harvests that this was a hour eight millions, and capable of renewal of the Goth and Vandal, supporting eight millions more. invading flowery shores, and sacking The existing condition of Ireland, the dwellings of native luxury. even with all the difficulties of its Ireland, in the 16th and 17th centu own creation, is opulence, peace, and ries, was a wilderness; the fertility security, compared with its wretchof the soil wasted in swamps and edness at the period of the English thickets; no inns, no roads; the few revolution. towns, garrisons in the midst of vast The measure of giving votes for solitudes; the native baron, a human members of parliament to the Popish brute, wallowing with his followers peasantry was the immediate offspring round a huge fire in the centre of a of faction, and, like all its offspring, huge wigwam, passing from in- exhibited the fallacy of faction. It toxication to marauding, and from failed in every form. It had been beaten and broken marauding to in- urged, as a means of raising the toxication again. A few of those character of the peasantry—it inbarons had been educated abroad, stantly made perfidy a profession. but even they, on their return, brought It had been urged, as giving the landback only the love of blood, the habit lord a stronger interest in the comof political falsehood, and the hatred forts and conciliation of his tenantryto the English name, taught in France it instantly produced the splitting of and Spain. The wars of the League, farms for the multiplication of votes, the government of the Inquisition, the and, consequently, all the hopeless posubtlety of the Italian courts, thus verty of struggling to live on patches added their share of civilised atrocity, of tillage inadequate for the decent supto the gross superstitions and rude port of life. It had been urged, as a revenge of Popish Ireland.
natural means of attaching the peaWe must get rid of the tinsel which santry to the constitution—it instantly has been scattered by poetry over the exhibited its effects in increased disorpast ages of Ireland. History shows, der, in nightly drillings and daylight under the embroidered cloak, only outbreaks; in the assassination of landsqualidness. Common sense tells us lords and clergy, and in those more what must be the condition of a people daring designs which grow out of perwithout arts, commerce, or agricul- nicious ignorance, desperate poverty, ture; perpetually nurturing a savage and irreconcilable superstition. The prejudice, and exhibiting it in the populace-beginning to believe that shape of a savage revenge ; ground concession had been the result of fear; to the dust by poverty, yet abhorring that to receive they had only to terexertion; suffering under hourly rify; and that they had discovered tyranny, yet incapable of enjoying the secret of power in the pusillanithe freedom offered to them; and mity of parliament-answered the gift
oking on the vigorous and growing of privilege by the pike ; and the prosperity of the English colonist, “ forty-shilling freeholder" exhibited with only the feeling of malice, and his new sense of right in the insurrecthe determination to ruin him. The tion of 1798-an insurrection which insurrection of 1641, in which prob- the writer of these volumes-from his ably 50,000 Protestant lives were intelligence and opportunities a comsacrificed, was only one of the petent authority-calculates to have broader scenes of a havoc which cost 30,000 lives, and not less than every age was exemplifying on a three millions sterling! more obscure, but not less ferocious The forty-shilling franchise has scale. The evidence of this indolent since been abolished. Its practical
abominations had become too glaring turf-fire of the Celt, and been defor the endurance of a rational legis- frauded of the pomps of Bagdad and lature, and it perished. Yet the the spoils of Jerusalem. The decision " snake was scotched, not killed.” of one of the magnificent despotisms The spirit of the measure remained in of the East in Ireland might have full action : it was felt in the force been the true principle of individual which it gave to Irish agitation, and progress and national renown. The in the insidiousness which it admi- scimitar might have been the true nistered to English party. In Ireland talisman. it raised mobs; in England it divided But the successive British adminiscabinets. In Ireland it was felt in trations took the false and the fatal the erection of a rabble parliament; in step of meeting the wild hostility of England it was felt in the pernicious Ireland by the peaceful policy of Eng. principle of " open questions;" until land. Judging only from the habits the leaders of the legislature, like all of a country trained to the obedience men who suffer themselves to tamper of law, they transferred its quiet formwith temptation, gave way; and the alities into the midst of a population second great stage of national hazard indignant at all law; and, above all, at was reached, in the shape of the bill the law which they thought of only of 1829.
as associated with the swords of the If the projected measure of " en soldiers of William. The government, dowing the popery of Ireland”-in continually changing in the person of other words, of establishing the wor- the Viceroy, fluctuated in its measures ship of images, and bowing down to with the fluctuation of its instruments; the spiritual empire of the papacy, conceded where it ought to have comshall ever, in the fatuity of British manded; bartered power, where it rulers and the evil hour of England, ought to have enforced authority; become law; a third great stage will attempted to conciliate, where its be reached, which may leave the duty was to have crushed ; and took country no farther room for either refuge behind partisanship, where it advance or retrogression.
ought to have denounced the disturbers of their country. The result was public irritation and cabinet incapa
city-a continual rise in the terms of In the year 1796, the father of the official barter, pressing on a continual young member had been raised to the helplessness to refuse. This could not earldom of Londonderry, and his son last-the voice of the country was became Viscount Castlereagh. In soon an uproar. The guilt, the folly, the next year his career as a states and the ruin, had become visible to man began ; he was appointed by all. The money-changers were masLord Camden, (brother-in-law of the ters of the temple, until judicial vensecond Earl of Londonderry,) Keeper geance came, and swept away the of the Privy Seal of Ireland.
traffickers, and consigned the temple The conduct of the Irish adminis. to ruin. tration had long wanted the first When we now hear the cry for the quality for all governments, and the return of the Irish legislature, we feel indispensable quality for the govern- a just surprise that the memory of the ment of Ireland, - firmness. It has been old legislature should have ever been said that the temper of the Irish is forgotten, or that it should ever be Oriental, and that they require an Ori- recorded without national shame. We ental government. Their wild courage, should as soon expect to see the their furious passion, their hatred of corpse of a criminal exhumed, and toil, and their love of luxury, certainly placed on the judgment-seat of the seem but little fitted to a country of court from which he was sent to the uncertain skies and incessant labour. scaffold. The Saracen, transported to the bor- The Marqnis of Buckingham, once ders of the Atlantie, might have been a popular idol, and received as vicethe serf, and, instead of waving the roy with acclamation, had no sooner Crescent over the diadems of Asia, dared to remonstrate with this impemight have been cowering over the rious parliament, than he was overwhelmed with national rebuke. The the first night of his official appearidol was plucked from its pedestal ; ance in the House, he gave at once and the Viceroy, pursued by a thousand the strongest evidence of his own libels, was glad to escape across the opinion, and the strongest condemChannel. He was succeeded by the nation of the past system; by boldly Earl of Westmoreland, a man of some declaring that "concessions to the talent for business, and of some de- Catholics seemed only to increase termination, but by no means of the their demands; that what they now order that rides the whirlwind, sought was incompatible with the exand directs the storm." He, too, was istence of a British constitution ; that driven away. In this dilemma, the concession must stop somewhere; and British cabinet adopted the most un that it had already reached its utmost fortunate of all courses-concession ; limit, and could not be allowed to and for this purpose selected the most proceed. Here he would plant his unfitting of all conceders, the Earl foot, and never consent to recede an Fitzwilliam-a man of no public inch further." weight, though of much private ami- The debate on this occasion conability ; sincere, but simple ; honest tinued during the night, and until in his own intentions, but perfectly eight in the morning. All that fury incapable of detecting the intentions and folly, the bitterness of party and of others. His lordship advanced to the keenness of personality, could the Irish shore with conciliation em- combine with the passionate eloquence broidered on his flag. His first step of the Irish mind, was exhibited in was to take the chief members of this memorable debate. The motion Opposition into his councils ; and the of the popish advocates was lost, but immediate consequence was an out- the rebellion was carried. The echo rageousness of demand which startled of that debate was heard in the clash even his simple lordship. The British of arms throughout Ireland ; and Opcabinet were suddenly awakened to position, without actually putting the the hazard of giving away the con- trumpet to their lips, and marshalstitution by wholesale, and recalled ling conspiracy, had the guilty hothe Viceroy. He returned forthwith, nour of stimulating the people into made a valedictory complaint in par- frenzy, which the Irishman calls an liament, to which no one responded; appeal to the god of battles, but which, published an explanatory pamphlet, in the language of truth and feeling, which explained nothing; and then is a summons to all the sanguinary sat down on the back benches of the resolves and satanic passions of the peerage for life, and was heard of no human mind. anore. The Earl was succeeded by Thesecretary, perhaps foreseeing the Lord Camden, son of the celebrated results of this night, and certainly inchief-justice, but inheriting less of dignant at the undisciplined state of the the law than the temperament of his legislative council, suddenly returned father. Graceful in manner, and even to England ; and Lord Castlereagh aristocratic in person, his councils was appointed by his relative, the were as undecided as his mission Viceroy, to fill the post of secretary was undefined. The aspect of the during his absence. The rebellion times had grown darker hour by hour, broke out on the night of the 23d of yet his lordship speculated upon per- May 1798. petual serenity. Conspiracy was In the year 1757, a committee was notorious throughout the land, yet he first established for the relief of Romoved as tranquilly as if there were man Catholics from their disabilities not a traitor in the earth; and on the by law. From this justifiable course very eve of a conflagration, of which more dangerous designs were suffered the materials were already laid in to follow. The success of republicana every county of Ireland, he relied ism in America, and the menaces of on the silent spell of the statute-book! war with republican France, suggested