Изображения страниц

Lords, why was it not proceeded with? The Home Secretary had declared it to be of the most imperative necessity and of the most instantaneous need. A protection for life ought surely then to have been imposed before taking off a protection on corn. But the procrastination of Ministers refuted their own professions. They were silenced by the almanac; and by the dates of their proceedings in the measure, its necessity was demonstratively disproved. When the Arms Bill was forced through Parliament, three years before, in defiance of predictions and expostulations, and after infinite waste of time, Ministers declared that in the branding of a blunderbuss they had found a panacea for Irish disquietude and insubordination, yet now the Secretary for Ireland (Lord Lincoln) admitted that the Arms Bill had failed; and so assuredly would this. If crime by night could be prevented, how would they preclude its commission by day? If they locked up the owls, what would they do with the falcons ? No statesman had ever attempted, even in the most troubled times, to enact such a law for England. Lancashire was full of secret conspiracy in 1819, and the agrarian outrages in Kent and other counties in 1830 filled the minds of the peaceable inhabitants, to use the words of the

' Annual Register,' with horror and dismay. Yet no bill like the present was ever dreamed of by the Tory Cabinet of either period; but the truth was, that the instincts of domination were not yet eradicated from the minds of those in power; and though the great distinctions of race and of condition had ceased to exist, 'a Pale' was still kept up in the statute-book.”

At length the House divided, when there appeared for the second reading 219, against it 292. On the following day Sir Robert Peel resigned ; and to Lord John Russell was confided the task of forming a new Administration.



Lord John Russell Premier-Mastership of the Mint—"Ana

tomist without a corpse"-Reproached for being silentDissatisfied with his position-County occupation franchise -Question of the Irish Viceroyalty-Marriage of deceased wife's sister-Anecdotes-Committee on ministers' moneyBust taken by C. Moore.

PREVIOUS to the formation of the new Government Mr. Sheil's anticipation was, that the office of JudgeAdvocate, which he had held when Lord Melbourne resigned in 1841, would again be offered to him.* There were

some amongst his friends who did not hesitate to advise him to decline such a proposal, if made, and to assert his claim to be included amongst those who were to form the new Cabinet. But how..

* Letter to M. Staunton, Esq., 30th June, 1846.

ever gratifying such suggestions may have been to his personal feelings, and however calculated to feed the flame of his future ambition, his keen sense of the hindrances that still beset his way, and the clear estimate he formed of the difficulties which his party had to encounter at the time, deterred him from yielding to such suggestions. He was not a little pleased at finding, two days after, that the Mastership of the Mint had been reserved for him. It had always been regarded as one of the offices which ranked next to the Cabinet, and like that of Secretary at War, Paymaster of the Forces, and Secretary for Ireland, had sometimes been held by Cabinet Ministers, and sometimes not. He naturally felt that this unsolicited step in official promotion was an honourable recognition of the services he had rendered, and a justification of the hopes entertained on his behalf by others, that farther advancement was yet before him.

Lord Bessborough was appointed Viceroy of Ireland, and Mr. Labouchere Chief Secretary, The former chose for his private secretary Mr. Corry Connellan. The first time Sheil met him afterwards he said, “Be as courteous as you please in receiving postulants for patronage, but never smile-every smile is construed as an assumpsit.

During the famine, a nobleman of large estates in Ireland had rendered himself somewhat remarkable by the publicity of the attentions he paid to a lady of great personal attractions. Many of his friends reproached him with not taking a more exclusive interest at such a time in public affairs. Their remonstrances proved unavailing, and Sheil resolved to try the effect of a joke. "What is the armorial motto of the family ?” he asked, “ for whatever it is, it must after this year be changed, and I can tell you what the new one will be-Sine Cerere Venus."

Upon the appointment of Lord Clarendon to the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, Mr. Labouchere succeeded him as President of the Board of Trade. Various candidates were named for the Chief Secretaryship of Ireland, which had thus become vacant; and amongst others Mr. Sheil, who, had he claimed it, could hardly have been passed over. Many considerations, however, disinclined him to think of such an office.

He disliked the drudgery of multiplied details, and knew that for the performance of the laborious duties of such a post at the period in question, uncertain health would form an insuperable obstacle; but there was something more. He knew too well the intense worship of rank and wealth to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »