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diate public shape, either in speeches, essays, or dramatic compositions. His life was public, and his portrait lies in his works."
* Letter from John Finlay, Esq., 20th February, 1854.
Returned for Louth and for Milborne Port-Elects to sit for
Louth-Poor laws–Motion regarding Petersfield—Conversion of title into rent-charge—Reform Bill for Ireland Church cess-Repeal of the Union-Advice given by Lord Wellesley-Returned for Tipperary-Debate on the Address
— The Coercion Bill-Military flogging-Poor laws—Church temporalities—Case of Captain Atcheson-Triennial Parliaments.
MINISTERS having been defeated in the Commons in their first attempt to carry a Reform Bill, a dissolution of Parliament took place in May 1831, and everywhere vigorous preparations were forth with made on both sides for the electoral struggle, upon whose issue it was felt that the fate not only of parties but of institutions must depend.
As soon as the dissolution became known in Ireland, Mr. Sheil's friends in Louth, who had never
ceased to lament his rejection in the preceding year, urgently pressed him to seize the opportunity of obliterating his defeat; and they united in assuring him that were he once returned he might keep the seat as long as he pleased. He wrote from London without hesitation declining the offer. Again their solicitations were renewed, and many public considerations urged why he should allow himself to be put in nomination. But he had had too much experience of the instability of popular favour among his countrymen to place any dependence on the sanguine assurances of warm and excited partisans. Their individual sincerity he did not doubt; but in their ability to fulfil the political guarantee they proffered, it was not permitted him to believe. A second time he rejected the invitation; and Lord Anglesea having again placed Milborne Port at his disposal, he determined to re-enter Parliament for that borough. Some weeks later, through the intervention of one whose counsel he always regarded, as the sagacity and friendship which dictated it deserved, he was induced to reconsider the matter. As member for an independent constituency, he would feel himself more his own master. Lord Anglesea had evinced towards him indeed all the consideration and delicacy characteristic of his generous bearing ; but to
be a member freely chosen for a populous county would after all place him in a more desirable position than as the avowed nominee of a member of the Government; Milborne Port was certain moreover to be disfranchised by the Reform Bill, and he would then have to seek, none could tell how soon, for a seat in Ireland. It so happened likewise that the Irish estates of the Marquis lay in Louth, where he might thus count upon deriving a certain amount support from his influence. To these considerations he so far yielded as to allow himself to be announced as a candidate for the County of Louth, without however withdrawing his claim to the seat which he had hitherto occupied. This being understood, he was re-elected for Milborne Port, and proceeded some days afterwards to Ireland to prepare for a contest, should such there be, in Louth. Mr. R. M. Bellew was now among his supporters; and the liberal party in the county being no longer disunited, his return along with Mr. Dawson was rendered secure. About the same time a communication was made to him by Mr. Crampton, then Solicitor-General, that the Irish Government were desirous that he should obtain a seat in the new Parliament; that should their anticipations regarding Louth be realised, and the seat
for Milborne Port vacated, Mr. Crampton would be named as his successor there.
The new Parliament was opened on the 21st June, and on the 8th July a new writ was moved for Milborne Port, in the room of Mr. Sheil, who had elected to sit for the county of Louth.
The opinions he had given in private respecting the duty of providing a suitable system of Poor Laws for Ireland, he did not shrink from enforcing in the House of Commons. A select committee had the year before examined many witnesses on the state of destitution in which a great portion of the peasantry and working classes were steeped, without any other mitigation of their misery than what was afforded by capricious almsgiving. Official men, both Whig and Tory, supported the Malthusian theory of allowing misery to burn itself out. O'Connell and his disciples advocated a repeal of the Union. Wise and practical men of all parties among the middle classes, and the pious and benevolent among the clergy of all persuasions, urged that while politicians were wrangling about remedies for the future, and economists were contending about the abstract definitions of wages and rent, it was a scandal and a sin that a people should be suffered to rot by thousands into a grave dug in the most fertile