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solving the great question. As Prime Minister of George IV., addressing the House of Lords, his Grace could not, with prudence, have made use of any other language. What his instinctive good sense impelled him to say, tended at once to dishearten resistance, while it deprecated without disarming external pressure. Had he seemed to recognise, or even to tolerate, the overbearing tone of the agitation before he could reckon upon the assent of the King, or that of his own Cabinet, to concession, he must inevitably have failed; but it is equally plain that, had the Association literally taken him at his word, and agreed to a suspension of hostilities, his only weapon, that of warning, would have been broken in his hand. He did the right thing—the only thing that was possible in his position ; but so did they.
The Earl of Aberdeen succeeded Lord Dudley in the Foreign Office; Sir George Murray took the place of Mr. Huskisson as Secretary for the Colonies; and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald was appointed President of the Board of Trade in the room of Mr. Grant; Sir Henry Hardinge was made Secretary at War, in place of Lord Palmerston; and Lord Francis L. Gower became Secretary for Ireland instead of Mr. Lamb.
By these changes vacancies were created in the
representation of several places, and amongst the rest in the county of Clare. Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald had for many years been returned without opposition; and when offered the Presidency of the Board of Trade, he hardly bestowed a thought upon the contingency that his return might be opposed. He had always voted for Emancipation; was popular as a landlord and a magistrate; and, by his property and connexions, possessed what was usually deemed a paramount influence in the county. The name of his father had long been popular, in consequence of his having resigned the post of Prime Sergeant rather than vote for the Union, and the new Cabinet Minister had rendered himself an especial favourite, not only with the resident gentry of his neighbourhood, but also with the Catholic bishops and clergy. So strong were these feelings, that when it was first debated in the Association, whether it would be possible successfully to oppose his re-election, Mr. N. P. O'Gorman, and others who possessed great personal knowledge of that part of the country, declined to recommend what they considered a
more than btful experiment; while Major Macnamara, by far the most popular candidate that could have been named for the occasion, refused to allow himself to
be put in nomination. On the other hand, Mr. Steele and the O'Gorman Mahon vehemently urged that the people might be stimulated to make the sacrifices necessary to secure success, provided only a fitting champion could be found.
Mr. Fitzgerald had been the undeviating supporter of Tory principles under Mr. Perceval and Lord Liverpool. To secure his seat for Clare, a periodical vote in favour of Emancipation was, perhaps, indispensable; but on every other question of civil and religious freedom he had been uniformly opposed to the feelings and opinions of his countrymen. He voted against the repeal of the Test Act to the last; and the very change that raised him to the Cabinet was produced by the schism on East Retford, against the transfer of whose seats to Birmingham he had recorded his vote. These considerations were vehemently urged by Mr. Sheil on the 21st of June, when the Association still hesitated whether or not his reelection should be opposed; but there were others. “They were arrived at a point when not to advance would be to fall back. Their victories in Waterford and Louth had struck men with astonishment; but it was necessary that the sensation should be repeated, and for this something yet more startling in itself
was requisite. They must show an increase of vigour. Vesey Fitzgerald must be seized with a gigantic grasp, and hurled from the House of Commons. In such a cause it was impossible to stop. On! on! should be their maxim. They could not rest where they were; seven millions must advance. What they had done would be of no avail unless they could do more. They had made great impressions ; but these must not only be renewed, but deepened. They must
ake men exclaim-This question must be settled, else there is no limit to the consequences of such a condition of things !"*
At length it was suggested that Mr. O'Connell should offer himself as a candidate for Clare; but it was not without much hesitation that he consented to do so. He naturally feared the unfavourable effect that must follow from defeat, and he foresaw the difficulty there would be in convincing men that he was sincere in the opinion he had expressed, that there was nothing in the law to prevent him as a Catholic being elected and taking his seat as member of the House of Commons. At length, upon receipt of certain confidential reports from the scene of the meditated contest, he issued his address to the
* Speech in the Association, 21st June, 1828.
electors of Clare: and, assisted by the whole strength of his party, proceeded to make a rapid canvass of the constituency. The rapid progress of popular ignition, under the shower of burning words, to which the astonished community of a remote district were thus subjected, is well described in an account which soon afterwards appeared from the pen of Mr. Sheil. He had done much in determining the course which had been adopted, and when it had been entered on he threw his whole heart into the struggle. A certain vague sense of incredulity overhung the minds of all
to the last moment. Would O'Connell really go to the poll ? and could he legally be returned ? barrier actually existed to his admission into Parliament, what had they been fighting for so long ? No logic could explain the riddle; but enthusiasm and eloquence are more powerful than logic, and far oftener decide the course of human affairs.
At length the day so long expected dawned upon the swarming hills that rise on either side of the river Fergus; and before the shades of summer night had passed away, the hum of multitudes filled the air. From every portion of the county vast numbers had crowded on the preceding days to witness the great trial of strength between the political outlaw, who