« ForrigeFortsæt »
your bull is certainly a bull: but as certainly Lady C. is your countrywoman, and not an Irish woman at all. This was a bad beginning certainly but was Lord A quite accurate? Lady C. was a daughter of Lord Buckinghamshire; and her maiden name was Lady E. Hobart.
One other public scene there was about this time in Dublin, to the eye less captivating, but far more so in a moral sense. This was the final ratification of the Bill which united Ireland to Great Britain. I do not know that any one public act, or celebration, or solemnity, in my time, did, or could so much engage my profoundest sympathies. Wordsworth's fine sonnet on the extinction of the Venetian Republic had not then been published, else the last two lines would have expressed my feelings. After admitting that changes had taken place in Venice, which in a manner challenged and presumed this last and mortal change, the poet closes thus —
'Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade
But here the previous circumstances were far different from those of Venice, nay opposite. There we saw a superannuated and paralytic State, sinking at any rate
* The idea of a Bull is even yet undefined; which is most extraordinary, considering that Miss Edgeworth has applied all her tact and illustrative power, to furnish the matter for such a definition; and Mr. Coleridge, all his philosophic subtlety, to furnish its form. But hoth have been too fastidious in their admission of bulls. Thus, for example, Miss Edgeworth rejects, as no true bull, the common Joe Miller story, that, upon two Irishmen reaching Barnet, and being told that it was still twelve miles to London, one of them replied, 'Ah! just six miles apac.' This, says Miss E, is no bull, but a sentimental remark on the maxim, that friendship divides our pains. Nothing of the kind : Miss Edgeworth cannot have understood it. The bull is a true, perfect, and almost ideal specimen of the genus.
into the grave, and yielding, to the touch of military violence, that only which a short lapse of years must inevitably have yielded to internal decay. Here, on the contrary, we saw a young eagle, rising into power, and robbed prematurely of her natural titles of honor, only because she did not comprehend their value, and because at this great crisis she had no champion. Ireland, in a political sense, was surely then in her youth, considering the prodigious development she has since experienced in population, and in resources of all kinds.
The day, the important day, had been long looked forward to by me: no doubt also by my young friend; for he was a keen lover of Ireland, and jealous of whatever appeared to touch her honor. But it was not for him to say anything which should seem to impeach his father's patriotism in voting for the Union, and promoting it through his borough influence. Yet oftentimes it seemed to me, when I introduced the subject, and sought to learn from Lord A― the main grounds which had reconciled him and other men, anxious for the welfare of Ireland, to a measure which at least robbed her of some splendor, and, above all, robbed her of a name and place amongst the independent States of Europe, that both father and son would not have been displeased, had some great popular violence put force upon the recorded will of Parliament, and compelled the two Houses to perpetuate themselves. Dolorous they must of course have looked, in mere consistency; but I fancied that internally they would have laughed. Lord A-, I am certain, believed (as multitudes believed) that Ireland would be bettered by the commercial advantages conceded to her as an integral province of the empire, and would have benefits which, as an independent kingdom, she had not. I doubt not that this expectation was realized. But let us ask, Could
not a large part of these benefits have been secured to Ireland, remaining as she was? were they, in any sense, dependent on the sacrifice of her separate Parliament ? For my part I believe that Mr. Pitt's motive for insisting on a legislative union was, in a small proportion perhaps, the somewhat elevated desire to connect his own name with the historical changes of the empire; to have it stamped, not on events so fugitive as those of war and peace, liable to oblivion; but on the permanent relations of its integral parts. In a still larger proportion I believe his motive to have been one of pure convenience, the wish to exonerate himself from the intolerable vexation of a double Cabinet and a double Parliament. In a government such as ours, so care-laden at any rate, it is certainly most harassing to have the task of soliciting a measure by management and influence twice over, -and two refractory gangs to discipline, instead of one. It must also be conceded that, neither management nor treasury influence could always avail to prevent injurious collisions between acts of the Irish and the British Parliaments. In Dublin, as in London, the government must lay its account with being occasionally out-voted; this would be likely to happen peculiarly upon Irish questions. And acts of favor or protection, would, at times, pass, on behalf of Irish interests, not only clashing with more general ones of the central government, but indirectly also, [from the virtual consolidation of the Irish territory with the larger island since the æra of steam,] opening endless means for evading British acts, even within their own acknowledged sphere of operation. On these considerations, even an Irishman must grant that public convenience called for the absorption of all local or provincial supremacies into the central supremacy. And there were two brief arguments which gave weight to
those considerations; first, that the evils likely to arise (and which in France have arisen) from what is termed, in modern politics, the principle of centralization, have been for us either evaded or neutralized. The provinces, to the very furthest nook of these 'nook-shotten' islands, react upon London as powerfully as London acts upon them; so that no counterpoise is required with us, as in France, to any inordinate influence at the centre. Secondly, the very pride and jealousy, which could dictate the retention of an independent parliament, would effectually preclude any modern Poyning's Act,' having, for its object, to prevent the collision of the local with the central government. Each would be supreme within its own sphere, and those spheres could not but clash. The separate Irish Parliament was originally no badge of honor or independence: it began in motives of convenience, or perhaps necessity, at a period when the communication was difficult, slow, and interrupted. A Parliament which arose on that footing, it was possible to guard by a Poyning's Act, making, in effect, all laws null, which should happen to contradict the supreme or central will. But no law, in a corresponding temper, could avail to limit the jurisdiction of a parliament which had been confessedly retained on a principle of national honor. Upon every consideration, therefore, of convenience, and for the public service generally, and for the quick despatch of business, the absorption of the local into the central parliament was now loudly called for; and that Irishman only could consistently oppose the measure, who should take his stand upon principles transcending convenience; looking, in fact, singly to the honor and dignity of a country, which it was annually less absurd to suppose capable of an independent existence.
Meantime, in those days, Ireland had no adequate
champion: the Hoods and the Grattans were not up to the mark. Refractory as they were, they moved within the paling of order and decorum; they were not the Titans for a war against the heavens. When the public feeling beckoned and loudly supported them, they could follow a lead which they appeared to head; but they could not create such a body of public feeling, nor lead and head where they seemed to follow. Consequently, that great opening for a turbulent son of thunder passed unimproved; and the great day drew near without symptoms of tempest. At last it arrived; and I remember nothing which indicated as much ill-temper in the public mind as I have seen on many hundreds of occasions, trivial by comparison, in London. My young friend and I were determined to lose no part of the scene, and we went down with Lord Ato the House. It was about the middle of the day, and a great mob filled the whole space about the two houses. As Lord A's coach drew up to the steps of the entrance, we heard a prodigious hissing and hooting; and I was really agitated to think that Lord A-, whom I loved and respected, would have to make his way through a tempest of public wrath; a situation more terrific to him than to others, from his embarrassed walking. I found, however, that I might have spared my anxiety; the subject of commotion was, simply, that Major Sirr, or Major Swan, I forget which, so celebrated in those days for their energy, as leaders of the police, had detected a person in the act of mistaking some other man's pocket handkerchief for his own. No storm of any kind awaited us, and yet at that moment there was no other arrival to divide the public attention; for in order that we might see everything from first to last, we were amongst the very earliest parties. Neither did our party escape under any mistake of the crowd; silence had succeeded to the uproar caused by the