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426

His motives for supporting the Union.

"His political conduct has been accounted uniform, but in detail it will be found to have been miserably inconsistent. In 1781 he took up arms to obtain a declaration of Irish independence; in 1800 he recommended the introduction of a military force to assist in its extinguishment. He proclaimed Ireland a free nation in 1783, and argued that it should be a province in 1799; in 1782 he called the acts of British legislature to. wards Ireland'a daring usurpation on the rights of a free people *;' and in 1800 he transferred Ireland to the usurper. On all occasions his ambition as despotically governed his politics as his reason invariably sunk before his prejudice.

"Though he intrinsically hated a legislative union, his lust for power induced him to support it; the preservation of office overcaine the impulse of conviction, and he strenuously supported that measure, after having openly avowed himself its enemy; its completion, however, blasted his hopes, and hastened his dissolution. The restlessness of his habit, and the obtrusiveness of his disposition became insupportably embarrassing to the British cabinet. The danger of his talents as a minister, and the inadequacy of his judgment as a statesman, had been proved in Ireland; he had been a useful instrument in that country, but the

In his lordship's answer to the address of the Dublin University, on the 14th of April, 1782, upon the declaration of rights, he used these words; and added, that "he had uniformly expressed that opinion both in public and in private."

The importance of his political character. 427 same line of services which he performed in Ireland would have been ruinous to Great Britain, and Lord Clare was no longer consulted.

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Thus the Union effected, through his friends, what Ireland could never accomplish through his enemies his total overthrow. Unaccustomed to controul, and unable to submit, he returned to his country, weary, drooping, and disappointed; regretting what he had done, yet miserable that he could do no more. His importance had expired with the Irish parliament; his patronage ceased to supply food for his ambition, the mind and the body became too sympathetic for existence, and he sunk into the grave, a conspicuous example of human talent and human frailty.

"Thus fell one of the most distinguished personages of the British empire. In his person be was about the middle size, slight, and not graceful; his eyes, large, dark, and penetrating, betrayed some of the boldest traits of his uncommon character; his countenance, though expressive and manly, yet discovered nothing which could deceive the physiognomist into an opinion of his magnanimity, or call forth an eulogium on his virtues.

During twenty momentous and eventful years, the life of Lord Clare is, in fact, the history of Ireland-as in romance, some puissant and doughty chieftain appears prominent in every feat of chivalry, the champion in every strife, the hero of every encounter, and, after a life of toil and

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428 Adumbration of the subsequent history.

of battle, falls, surrounded by a host of foes, a victim to his own ambition and temerity.

"Thus Earl Clare, throughout those eventful periods, will be seen bold, active, and desperate, engaging fiercely in every important conflict of the Irish nation, and at length, after having sacrificed his country to his passions and his ambition, endeavouring to atone for his errors by sacrificing himself."

Having thus presented to the reader, and espe cially to the Irish reader, a gallery of portraits, which he will contemplate with various emotions of admiration, love, esteem, or hatred and contempt, according as each individual is contemplated through the medium of party feud and political devotion, or as the unbiassed judgment may pronounce upon the conduct of each, I shall now proceed to relate a series of events, important in themselves as affecting the welfare of Ireland, and some of them so singularly charactered that perhaps the annals of no nation can produce their parallel. An armed nation effecting a mighty revolution without bloodshed, liberty dawning with resplendent brightness, genius and eloquence accompanying every step of her career; a rebellion, fatal to its promoters, disgraceful to its subduers; a union, without connection, and without reciprocity of benefit!

Administration of Lord Halifax. 429

CHAP. XVI.

Share which the ladies of Ireland had in laying the foundation of Irish independence-Appearance of the white-boys-Causes of that insurrection-Suspicion of French intrigue-Hearts of oak boys-Steel boys-Administration of the Earl of Northumberland-First symptoms, during it, in the house of commons, of a disposition to thwart the measures of government. Dr. Lucas and other patriots apply themselves vigorously to the correction of public abuses.

IN commencing the history of Lord Halifax's administration it would be unpardonable not to suspend for a moment its political transactions, to record one in which the ladies of Ireland were concerned, and to which some grave authorities have ascribed the foundation of the independence of that country.

When Lord Halifax was appointed to the lordlieutenancy an event took place, which, though seemingly unimportant at first, involved, to a certain degree, the honour of Ireland, as the prerogatives of its nobility must always be connected with the national rank and character. The Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh had been happily chosen as the consort of his majesty, and was

450 Insult offered to the Irish peerage.

daily expected in London. A number of the Irish peeresses were there just at that time, and as a matter of course they were prepared to walk in the procession at the royal nuptials; when a short time before the queen landed, the Duchess of Bedford received orders to acquaint them that they were not to walk or form any part of the ceremonial whatever. That they were most justly mortified at such an uncourtly and unexpected mandate even the most rugged philosopher must avow. To bid fair laides "lay their costly robes aside" on such an occasion, to exclude the noblewomen of Ireland from sharing in the honours of an august ceremony, which equally interested both nations, was exposing them to ridicule, and Ireland, whose peeresses they were, to contempt and degradation. They applied therefore to Lord Charlemont, who happened to be in London, to interest himself in their behalf, and vindicate the rights and privileges of the Irish peerage. Lord Charlemont was then too young, and at all times too gallant, not to obey the commands of ladies; but, had any motive been wanting to ensure such obedience, their bright eyes of course "rained influence," and decided him as to the business. So forth he issued their proclaimed and adventurous champion. To such of the nobility as were then in town he immediately addressed himself, but alas! his chivalrous ardour was most miserably, or rather not at all, seconded. That from long habitude depressed and neglected, they

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