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LIVES OF THE LORD CHANCELLORS OF IRELAND.
FROM A.D. 1189 TO 1870.
TO THE RIGHT HON. HENRY GRATTAN. fortune. I so acted, as to be fully
DEAR SIR,—You will remember entitled to perfect reciprocity of the state of Ireland in 1789, and good faith ; and to consider the the necessity under which we found performance of the personal part of ourselves, of forming some bond of the compact as a matter, not of honourable connexion, by which the favour, but of right, which I might co-operation of even a small number receive like the payment of any might be secured, in making some common debt, without being crushed effort to stem that torrent which was by the humiliating sensation that I carrying everything before it. For must have felt, if my debtor, by such that purpose our little party was payment, could become my patron formed; it consisted of yourself, the or benefactor. Upon the basis of Duke of Leinster (that excellent this compact, which was always Irishman), the late Lord Ponsonby, publicly known, and adopted by Mr. B. Daly, Mr. G. Ponsonby, Mr. Lord Fitzwilliam, in 1795, Mr. G. Forbes, myself, and some very few Ponsonby was then nominated to others. It may not be for us to the office of Attorney-General, I to pronounce encomiums upon it, but the place of Solicitor-General. The we are entitled to say, that had it completion of that arrangement was been as Successful as it was honest, prevented by the change of Irish we might now look back to it with Administration ; the compact itself some degree of satisfaction. The continued, and with increased force reason of my adverting to it is, that (if by the continued fidelity of obunder the sanction of that party, and servance, compact can be susceptiin its presence, it was agreed between ble of accessional obligation) till the Mr. G. Ponsonby and me, that if late change in 1806; it was again any circumstances should arise, un- acted upon by the parties to it
On der which it might be honourably that occasion, I was the only interopen to us to accept office, it should ested member of that party that rebe on the terms of his taking the mained in Ireland
I did not write first, and my taking the second
friends then in London; place in the course of professional not to Lord Ponsonby; not even to advancement. That this was you. I knew your zeal for
my paltry compact, with any view to terest; I knew the friendship and the attainment of preferment, was purity of Lord Ponsonby--I was obvious, for either of us could at any sensible of the warm protection of time command it; it was solely a Mr. Fox, to which I had no claim, pledge to secure our co-operation save what might be suggested to a and perseverence in what we deemed noble and generous spirit, like this, our public duty.. With what fidelity by my conduct as a public man;
I I adhered to every part of the en- knew, also, the protection my inter; gagements we then formed, you well ests would have found in Lord know; and you also know at what Moira, Lord Erskine, or Lord sacrifices, and under what profes- Howick, had such protection been sional persecutions, and what im- necessary. I felt no solicitude for placable and successful attacks upon myself ; I remained at home; the my person, my character, and my event justified my confidence; Mr.
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G. Ponsonby accepted the seals; a clusively settied; desiring most proof, of itself, that I must have anxiously to have it explained. been appointed to the next attain This letter I showed to Mr. G. able situation. That next situation
That next situation Ponsonby, but without receiving any could be no other than the office of explanation whatsover. I wrote to Attorney-General; it was the only Lord Ponsonby such an answer as place in the power of the new Ad he had a right to expect from the ministration to vacate; from its affection of a man to whom he had official rank in the Government, it endeared himself by so persevering was the natural passage to that place a fidelity, and by the uninterrupted on the King's Bcnch, to which, as friendship of so many years; such next in professional advancement, I facts as I knew, I stated; but I had had a right to succeed. But on this no explanation to give. It would fact I was not left to conjecture. I be affectation in me to say, that was apprised by letter from you, and under these circumstances, I was also Mr. G. Ponsonby, that my in- perfectly at ease. I might despise terests had been taken care of ; Mr. the triumph of my enemies, I could G. Ponsonby communicated the not be insensible to such coldness same to a relation of mine, then in from a friend. I had, however, one London; directing him to inform great consolation ; deserted, as I me that my place as Attorney could not but think myself, I had general was fixed, and that my every reason to be proud of the percoming over would be but unneces- fect faith and friendship which you
and Lord Ponsonby had manifested "The Duke of Bedford soon after towards me; and to feel that the arrived in Ireland, and Mr. G. Pon- . disappointment which I prepared sonby, as Chancellor, became an myself to meet, could be no more Irish Minister. At our first meeting, imputed to you than prevented by he assured me, somewhat in the you. style of his previous letter, that my “ After a lapse of some weeks I friends had not been unmindful of waited upon the Duke of Bedford, me, and that I would find everything by his Grace's desire ; he apprised perfectly to my satisfaction. me that I was to be Master of the few days, however, I learned that Rolls as soon
the necessary the Duke of Bedford had sent for arrangements were effected.
You Mr. Plunket, the then Attorney- may easily judge of my feelings on General, and assured him that he this communication ; but it was the was not to be removed. It soon first time I had ever seen the Duke appeared that the report was true. of Bedford ; I had no shadow of To me the fact was incomprehensi- claim upon his Grace; he was not ble ; Mr. G. Ponsonby left it in all the person to whom I could comits darkness; for when we met, plain, that I was humbled or illwhich was only by accident, he was treated; I barely said that “I was silent upon the subject. I soon re- grateful to his Grace for the courtesy ceived a letter from Lord Ponsonby, of the communication;" and retired then confined in London by that with an almost decided purpose to sickness which was soon to terminate decline the appointment. This subhis valuable life ; it was conceived stitution I considered a direct dein such terms as might be expected parture from the compact with Mr. from the friendship and honour of G. Ponsonby, and accompanied the writer
. He expressed indigna- by the aggravation of withholding tion at the delay which had taken that consultation and explanation, place in effecting that arrangement without which, and without my own which he had considered as con- express consent, I ought not to have
been so disposed of. As to the honour concerned, and I saw that place itself, it was the last I should the whole arrangement of the Adhave chosen ; it imposed upon me a ministration for Ireland, as far as it change of all my habits of life ; it depended upon him, might be disforced my mind into a new course solved, if he thought me ill-treated; of thinking, and into new modes of I had a similar apprehension from labour, and that, increased labour; the part you yourself would pursue it removed me from that intellectual upon such an occasion ; and I could exercise which custom and temper not but see, that if you and Lord had rendered easy and pleasant; it Ponsonby were to withdraw your excluded me from the enjoyment of support from the Irish Administrathe honest gratification of an official tion, that unhappy country would share of an Administration which I have little to hope from any new then thought would have consisted order of things. I resolved, thereprincipally, if not altogether, of the fore, to submit, and to do so with tried friends of Ireland. When the
an appearance of as much good party with which I had acted so humour as I could affect. fairly, had, after so long a proscrip "At my next meeting with Mr. tion, come at last to their natural G. Ponsonby, which was purely place, I did not expect to have casual (for I did not seek it) he been stuck into a window, a specta- asked me if I had not seen the tor of the procession. From the Duke of Bedford ? I said “yes;" he station which I then held at the said “he hoped everything was to Bar, to accept the neutralised situa- my satisfaction." I answered "His tion of the Rolls, appeared to me a Grace's reception of me has been descent, and not an elevation :-It extremely courteous." Even then, had no allurement of wealth, for not a word of explanation from Mr. diminished as my income had been G. Ponsonby. He merely informed by the most remorseless persecution me that Sir Michael Smith should for years, by 'which I was made to be treated with on the subject of expatiate the crime of not being an his resignation. And I must conalien to my country, by treachery, fess that he presented my condition or by birth, it was still abundant, in a point of view which excited when compared with my occasions, no ordinary sensations : for I now and was likely to continue so, as saw, that instead of coming into the long as those occasions should last. stipulated situation by an undisputed
"To this intended refusal, how- claim of right, and without the ever, my friends in Ireland thought burthen of one shilling expense to there were strong objections; they the country, I was flung upon the thought it would look like an accu- precarious chance of a place, which, sation of the party at large, to the it achieved at all, could be obtained great majority of whom I had reason only by a charge on the public, to be more attached than ever-they rendered additionally disgusting to urged other inducements unneces me by the appearance of a job. sary to detail, and which I thought “At last, after delays perhaps worthy my attention. There re
not easy to be avoided, but cermained a still superior motive to tainly affording ample time for the decide me: to have yielded to re- triumph of my enemies and the sentment, or disgust, and refused vexation of my friends, both of the offered situation, might be to whom looked upon me as insulted carry disturbance and irritation to and abandoned, that treaty took the bed of a dying friend; I knew place, without any participation of the untemporising nature of Lord mine, and without the remotest hint Ponsonby, where he thought his that it could involve any stipulation
or guarantee on my part. I was in- ment; I would have snapped the
Ponsonby; perhaps my temper
from mere rumour that the pensions ." But if I could have dispensed were not granted, though the Governwith the matter of purity, another ment continued till towards the end question remained : Was this change of April. I learned it afterwards between my professional and a judi- from G. Ponsonby himself, who cial situation thus to be obtained, spoke of it with regret, as a circumworth the sum of £8000? There stance vexatious to Sir Michael, but would have been, therefore, two without the remotest allusion to any previous questions to decide-a interest or concern that he himself question of crime and a question of or that I could possibly have in the prudence. If I had consulted a matter ; nor did he say anything moralist upon the one, and a Jew whatsoever as to the cause of this upon the other, what would have disappointment. As to the Duke been the answer? I would not, of Bedford, I could not but think therefore, have submitted for a mo with everybody else, that the trans
action was merely between Sir Mi- tinctly informed, why the arrangechael and the Irish Government, ment made in London, in pursuance without any possibility of relation to of my original compact with Mr. the person of the viceroy; and it G. Ponsonby, had not been obwas under this continued conviction served in Dublin? Why the hopes that, even by the necessity of vindi- of Sir Michael had been disapcation, I could allow myself to speak pointed? Why I had never been of it, even to you, so freely as I now consulted upon either subject? How do. After some time, I forget how the non-performance to Sir Michael many days or weeks, I met a friend could throw any liability on me? of ours accidentally; he introduced If it had been a proposition to do the circumstance of the disappoint- something in concurrence with the ment of Mr. Ridgeway, and the party, I should have expected to be three other persons. In what passed informed how the liability of Mr. he appeared to me to speak merely Ponsonby's officials acts could be from the casual suggestion of his own extended to the party, and which of mind. I had not then, nor have I the party had entertained such an now, any idea that he spoke at the opinion, and in what act it was that instance of Mr. G. Ponsonby, or they required my concurrence? If that he meant to convey any distinct I had been shown, by any explanaproposition whatsoever.
tion on these points, that any duty pressed much concern at the acci- whatsoever, in justice or in honour, dent, as extremely unlucky. I in was cast upon me, I would have inquired how the disappointment stantly performed it; if I thought it could have been occasioned. Of doubtful, I would have referred the this he seemed uninformed; but decision confidentially to the party asked me if I did not think that itself. But I considered the suggessomething ought to be done by us. tion as the mere effusion of goodI answered that I was utterly igno- nature; the mere result of kindness, rant upon the subject; that I con and not of reflection--because, taken sidered myself, from the moment in any other way, it would have come Mr. G. Ponsonby became Chan- simply to this : 'Sir, you have encellor, as most unkindly treated by tered many years ago into a comhim, from whom alone I could de- pact; you have observed it faithfully;
information ; that I did not you suffered deeply by that obsersee what we should do on the occa vance : when the time of performing sion, or why we should do anything. was to you arrived, it was ratified in We met a second time in the same London; in Dublin, the substitution casual way; he asked me if I had of something else, supposed to be a thought any more upon the subject performance, was adopted without of our last conversation. I answered privity or consent; the substitution, that I had heard nothing more about too, was accompanied by collateral it, and, of course, that I thought as circumstances of much humiliation I did before. Had he come to make and disrespect towards you. By any demand on me, on the part of unforeseen events that substitution Mr. G. Ponsonby, I should have has been attended with some pecuexpected to have it made franklyniary charges; it is hoped, that and distinctly; I should have ex- having so patiently borne this, you pected to find him prepared to give will take it cum onere, and not think the fullest satisfaction as to the na- it unreasonable to defray those inture of such a demand, and of the cidental expenses--it is trusted you facts on which it could rest, being will have no objection to the mode myself utterly ignorant of them. I proposed, as
I proposed, as unconstitutional or should have expected to be dis- dishonourable. You have a judicial