Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

to notice the Lord Treasurer's pamphlet, “ Faults on both Sides.But, Lord Oxford was a personage too conspicuous in British history to be so slightingly dealt with. He was, beyond any doubt, deeply implicated in treasonable transactions; and, at one time, in the utmost danger of impeachment. In proof of this, I beg leave to offer the following anecdote. Conversing once with the late Doctor Thomas Falconer, of Bath, he told me this story, in reply to an observation of mine, that when once in a state of dotage, men hardly ever, or never, retrieved their intellectual powers. Mr. Harley, afterwards Lord Oxford, being threatened with a trial for high treason, desired an interview with the great Duke of Marlborough. On his admission, he showed the duke a letter, asking if his Grace knew it again. The duke signified that he did ; they separated ; and Harley's trial was talked of no more. Several years after, Mr. Harley being at Tunbridge, met the duke, who was then in second childhood, and under the care of a person hired to guide him. But, on seeing Mr. H. he stopped, fixed his eyes firmly on him, and saluted him with a pointedly low bow. This, as Doctor Falconer observed, was distinct recognition, and something more than bare remembrance of the individual.

The letter above-mentioned was one from the Duke of Marlborough to the father of Prince Charles Ed. ward, and of such a nature, that, if brought forward, it would have sent the duke to the block; and, through fear of destroying him, Harley's prosecution was dropped.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LORD EDWARD

FITZGERALD.

BY THOMAS MOORE,

*

As a frontispiece to volume i., there is an engraving of Lord Edward, from a picture by Hamilton. I was well acquainted with his lordship’s appearance, and can safely say that the countenance in the engraving is true to the painting, which I have often seen, and exquisitely like the very handsome original. But the plate rather represents him as tall and slender: he was a broad-chested man, and exactly five feet nine inches high.

Many portions of Mr. Moore's work are as well written as might be expected from his practised and graceful pen; and the performance is altogether exceedingly interesting. But, on one or two occasions, Mr. Moore has treated the parties referred to somewhat unfairly.

Page 13, vol. ii. Speaking of Thomas Reynolds, and the Irish rebellion in 1798, Mr. Moore says, “ It was but to the mere accidental circumstance of a worthless member of the conspiracy being pressed for a sum of money to discharge some debts, that the government was indebted for the treachery that at once laid the whole plot at their feet.” Judging

* London, 1831, 2 vols.

from the plain and uncontradicted statements published by the son of Reynolds, in his memoirs of his father, and in vindication of his character, there is no truth in Mr. Moore's insinuations against Reynolds. The man forsook his party in the day of peril, violated the compact he had made with the leaders of the insurrection, sent many of them to death and to exile, and, by withdrawing from the conspiracy, probably saved his own life. But by his son's account, it is clear that he acted thus, from what his enemies are, at most, authorized to term weakness of mind, and his friends would call compunction; a natural horror of bloodshed, and devastation. For he first disclosed the secrets of the conspirators; then, being ruined in his affairs, asked but for as much money as would assist to remove him from the reach of that vengeance which he knew awaited him, and never even received compensation adequate to his losses; much less a recompense for the benefit he had done the state.

Page 136, vol. ii. In a letter from Lady L. Conolly, she alludes to the difficulty experienced by the relatives of Lord Edward, in their endeavours to visit him, as he lay wounded and dying in prison ; difficulties, the author intimates, arising from the unrelenting cruelty of the government; while he is silent as to the particular conduct of one of its most efficient and distinguished members, Lord Clare. His lordship was well known as an inveterate opponent of the popular cause ; and in his zeal for the

governing power, he undoubtedly evinced the utmost intolerance, and showed himself capable of almost any act of oppression, and even of injustice. He could, nevertheless, behave magnanimously, and display a degree of tenderness and delicacy of feeling rarely found in a political partisan. Of this, what I have to relate is a lively proof; and Mr. Moore ought in fairness to have recorded all of good and liberal which he knew to be in the character of Lord Clare. Instead of which, he carefully abstains from everything resembling eulogy, and yet retains much of what is calculated to injure the memory of the chancellor as a humane individual.

In the summer of 1833, a gentleman, very nearly connected with Lady L. Conolly, and generally known for his talents, lofty spirit, and social worth, gave me the following remarkable account of the deportment of Lord Clare on the mournful occasion above referred to; adding, that he had communicated the fact prior to the publication of Mr. M.'s volumes.

Lady Conolly first applied to Lord Camden, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for leave to visit her unhappy kinsman, sorely wounded, and dying in the common gaol, to which he had been conveyed when taken prisoner ; but was peremptorily refused. Upon this she proceeded, accompanied by her niece, with a like petition to Lord Clare, who had that evening a cabinet dinner, but came out to her ladythip, with his napkin in his hand, heard her request, and, saying that he could not, as he wished, grant her an order,

but that, whatever party feelings might dictate, he would then listen only to sentiments of pity, without taking his hat, entered the carriage, and drove with Lady C. directly to Newgate. He there ordered her to be admitted to Lord Edward's apartment, and waited for her more than two hours in the keeper's room, when, her ladyship returning, he attended her home.

During these disastrous days in Ireland, scenes of domestic woe presented themselves, too horrible to be calmly remembered by surviving witnesses; or even to be believed by the young and inexperienced.

Pages 153-4. The Duke of Richmond, in a letter to Mr. Ogilvie, enlarges most feelingly on the wretched state of mind, and bodily sufferings, of the hapless Pamela, Lord Edward's widow; respecting whom, Theobald Wolfe Tone, in the second volume of his Memoirs, has this forcible

passage:

“ Poor Pamela ! She is in London, which she has been ordered to quit in three days. The night of her husband's arrest, she was taken in labour-and-will it be believed hereafter-not one physician could be found in Dublin hardy enough to attend her! It was a dy not even of her acquaintance, that assisted her in her peril. She is said to be inconsolable for the death of Fitzgerald; I well believe it-beautiful and unfortunate creature !”

Page 51. I recur to an early part of the volume, for the sake of enlarging on the character and story of a gentleman whose name is but slightly mentioned by

« ForrigeFortsæt »