THE LORD-LIEUTENANT AND THE PRESS.
Timm is always in favour of the well-disposed. If at times it seems to tell against them, the reason is that we have not the whole truth. In the recently-unveiled ease of Lord Clarendon's extra-diplomatic connexion with the Dublin press, the full dis- closure has corrected in his favour the partial reports which were set in circulation against him. It is true that the connexion was not wisely accepted by the Lord-Lieutenant; but the full dis- closure absolves him from bad motive.
It may perhaps teach a lesson to his party, which Sir Robert Peel's example failed to teach ; it may convince them what a use- less bargain is the " support " which can be purchased. Lord Clarendon's confession before the Dublin Court of Queen's Bench is the proof 6 converse of Sir Robert Peel's proposition, that no support can be really valuable except that which is independent and voluntary. It is almost wonderful that the full force of the lesson should not have struck Lord Clarendon in the very ap- proaches towards the inauspicious connexion. In 1847, he was, as the counsel expressed it, pestered with letters from the plaintiff in the case, offering support : those letters were simply acknow- ledged, in the dry official form. But the political fermentation in 1848 induced the Viceroy to accept the offers. He ratified his acceptance, although the offer was accompanied by the demand for money—to extend the circulation of the paper. Lord Clarendon did not expect much from the labours of his ally ; he gave a gene- ral licence for abuse of himself, he did not desire support for, his administration ; but, in the dangerous period of 1848, he thought that he should have failed in his duty if he did not accept the ser- vices of any person in support of law and order." He did accept the services offered, and down to November 1850 they cost him 3700/.
Let us note a creditable trait of practical penitence on the part of the Viceroy. This money was paid, partly out of Lord Claren- don's own pocket, partly out of " a fund placed at his disposal," in pursuance of his request—public money : but that second portion he refunded, out of his own pocket, " long ago." Lord ClarendOn had already learned to doubt the benefit to the public from such support, and therefore to doubt his right of charging the cost upon the public.
The confession on the other side is not less instructive. The cir- culation of the journal that was thus to support the Government was forced, and yet it could not be declared to amount to 1500 in number; for the support of such an organ, Lord Clarendon paid 3700/. ; the support appears to have been continued voluntarily, on speculation, until January 1851; and now a claim is brought for 70001. as money due beyond the payments already received. Lord Clarendon and his immediate officers in the government of Ireland had committed themselves to interviews and letters, recog- nizing the nature of the connexion ; and the claim for more money was supported by a threat to expose it. The counsel for the de- fence said that the money claimed would have been equivalent to a payment of 701. an article The Jury diaallowed the claim for the additional 70001.; but Lord Clarendon had already paid 37001., and the Jury would only allow him sixpence "costs." We hope that this will be the last instance of such purchases. The Lord-Lieutenant was evidently sincere in his desire to obtain support for " law and order " ; but he has probably learned experi- mentally how futile must be hireling support is such a cause. He himself did not think it worth while to read the very paper whose
adherence he thought worth so considerable a sum. Indeed, he appears to have concluded a bargain for the support of " law and order" as he would commission coals, without taking much thought for the quality, or ascertaining that it would be up to the market average. Support was support, he seems to have said, whether venal or not : it did not occur to him that the pen which could be hired could scarcely be very well skilled, still less inspired, to pro- claim the doctrines of "law and order."
It depends, no doubt, upon how you construe the phrase. We presume Lord Clarendon to construe it as a scholar and a gentle- man would ; but it does bear an interpretation which would con- sign it as well to the support of venal instruments. Louis Napo- leon in Paris has given the most striking illustration of such "law and order," and Naples has not repudiated hireling assistance.
Indeed, the practice is not altogether confined to Ireland, even in British dominions ; although the remuneration is not always made in that naked and direct form which appears to be most ac- ceptable in Ireland. There are other modes of recognizing the services of the pen ; and the post of Consul-General, or Colonial Secretary, or any other post which is secretarial or colonial, may be quite as valuable as hard cash. When Mr. Corry Conellan told the sole supporter of law and order that he might take a hun- dred sovereigns off the luncheon-table, he treated the creator of public opinion with less ceremony than Mr. Coppock treated the creator of the one Member for St. Alban's ; the remuneration to the vote-agent being intimated in the much more delicate and periphrastic form of an inquiry as to how many the worthy and in- dependent elector had in family ; and in England the " gentlemen connected with the press " have not usually been rated lower than votemongers. But however delicately the remuneration may be disguised, the principle remains the same. The dignity of the physician, the barrister, the betting-man, and the journalist, may be consulted by treating the remuneration as an honorarium, a debt of honour, rather than as a common trade bargain to be recovered on the presentment of a bill ; but the money influence on motives is not less culpable in purpose. Nor is it less vain in effect than direct political buying and selling. If Government must have an " organ " in the press—and there may be conveniences in such an arrangement—it should be a recognized organ, conducted under public responsibility. Excepting such a direct representation, no support can be very valuable to a government but that which it invites from friends, perhaps even extorts from opponents, by the merits of its public acts.