The Secretary of State made a dexterous, conciliatory, almost humble address, in reply to the taunts of Mr. Smith Oâ€™Brien. He said that he was well aware of the fact of which he had been just reminded, that, in the present state of parties, the declared adherents of the government were a small minority; he even, while excusing the delay in the progress of the Irish measure, reminded the House of the curious fact, that since the meeting of Parliament, two successive Irish secretaries had lost their seats in the House of Commons in consequence of supporting the administration of which they were members.
LORD GEORGE wrote the next morning (Tuesday, March 31st) to a friend, who had not been able to attend the debate: â€˜I look upon last night as the most awkward night the government have had yet; I believe they would have given their ears to have been beaten. We have now fairly set them and the tail at loggerheads, and I cannot see how they are to get another stage of either the tariff or Corn Bill before next Tuesday at any rate. I doubt if they will do anything before Easter.â€™
Nature had clothed this vehement spirit with a material form which was in perfect harmony with its noble and commanding character. He was tall and remarkable for his presence; his countenance almost a model of manly beauty; the face oval, the complexion clear and mantling; the forehead lofty and white; the nose aquiline and delicately moulded; the upper lip short. But it was in the dark-brown eye, which flashed with piercing scrutiny, that all the character of the man came forth: a brilliant glance, not soft, but ardent, acute, imperious, incapable of deception or of being deceived.
It should not be forgotten that the most authentic and interesting histories are those which have been composed by actors in the transactions which they record. The cotemporary writer who is personally familiar with his theme has unquestionably a great advantage; but it is assumed that his pen can scarcely escape the bias of private friendship or political connection. Yet truth, after all, is the sovereign passion of mankind; nor is the writer of these pages prepared to relinquish his conviction that it is possible to combine the accuracy of the present with the impartiality of the future.
A few days beforeâ€”it was the day after the Derby, May 25thâ€”the writer met Lord George Ben-tinck in the library of the House of Commons. He was standing before the book-shelves, with a volume in his hand, and his countenance was greatly disturbed. His resolutions in favour of the colonial interest after all his labours had been negatived by the committee on the 22nd, and on the 24th, his horse Surplice, whom he had parted with among the rest of his stud, solely that he might pursue without distraction his labours on behalf of the great interests of the country, had won that paramount and Olympian stake, to gain which had been the object of his life. He had nothing to console him, and nothing to sustain him except his pride. Even that deserted him before a heart which he knew at least could yield him sympathy. He gave a sort of superb groan:â€”
He writes again from Lynn, with great thanks for the information which had been accordingly forwarded to him there. â€˜Might I ask you to give me an account of the cotton wool imported weekly into Liverpool, and also the quantity sold to dealers, exporters, and speculators, in the three corresponding weeks of â€˜45-46.
This remarkable address was an abnegation of the whole policy of Mr. Oâ€™Connellâ€™s career. It proved, by a mass of authentic evidence ranging over a long term of years, that Irish outrage was the consequence of physical misery, and that the social evils of that country could not be successfully encountered by political remedies. To complete the picture, it concluded with a panegyric of Ulster and a patriotic quotation from Lord Clare.