29 APRIL 1905, Page 4

MR. MACDONAGH is perhaps a trifle too anxious to be

impressionist, and a trifle too desirous, especially in his preface, to demonstrate that his volume contains romance, melodrama, and farce in abundance. We have, at all events, rather a superabundance of rhetoric dealing with such of its contents as "letters of men well known in Irish history engaged in the hazardous game of revolution; letters of political prisoners written in Dublin dungeons; letters of shameless place-hunters ; letters of knaves and hypocrites in high places and lowly ; letters of pimps and informers." But undoubtedly the work which circumstances have enabled Mr. MacDonagh to perform was worth doing, and when he really warms to it he does it well and with swift effectiveness. It contains the correspondence—which Mr. Lecky believed to have been destroyed—of Lord Hardwicke, who was the first Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland after the Union of 1800, and held the post for five years during the Addington Administration and the second Administration of Pitt which followed. Lord Hardwicke, whom Mr. MacDonagh accurately describes as "most methodical and businesslike in his habits," kept a copy of every letter, official and private, which be wrote during his period of office to members of the Government in London, retained the replies in his possession, and carried them all off when he left Ireland in 1806. The papers lay in the deed- room at Wiuipole Hall, the seat of the Hard wickes, until three years ago, when they were sold to the Trustees of the British Museum, and having been arranged and classified, were last year made accessible in the Manuscripts Department there. Mr. MacDonagh has, in addition, had access to secret papers • The Viceroy's Post Bag : Correspondence hitherto unpublished of the Earl of Hardwick', First Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland after the Union. By Michael MacDonagh. London : John Murray. [12s. net.]

in the Home Office dealing with the Emmet Insurrection in 1803.

Mr. MacDonagh is content, for the most part, to let the correspondents of Lord Hardwicke speak for themselves ; and he could not have acted more wisely if his object was to show how the art of begging for place and preferment was carried to perfection at what was a critical period in the history of Ireland. In this matter Lord Hardwicke does not strike the reader as behaving very badly. The "Union engagements" to reward those Irishmen who had directly or indirectly aided in the destruction of the Parliament at College Green had to be met. But even allowing for the low standard of political morality at the time, his correspondents seem to have been void of decency to a grotesque extent. Thus Sir John Dalrymple, belonging to one of the most honoured and honourable of Scotch families, recommended his younger son on the ground that he "was reckoned the best algebraist at Cambridge, and therefore must be infinitely useful to your lordship in accounts, to which you are probably not bred," and his daughter-in-law because "she is one of the finest creatures that God ever made, and would be a capital com- panion for my Lady Hardwicke." An Oxford clergyman, the Rev. Charles Chester, wished to become an Irish Bishop, on the ground mainly that he was a distant relative of Lord Hardwicke. So he wrote to the Lord-Lieutenant's private secretary :—

"I too well know Lord Hardwicke's character and goodness of heart to harbour the smallest doubt of his not providing for me in due time; and although the Irish Bishops have not dropped as they did at the beginning of Lord Camden's reign, whose second chaplain, Dr. Porter, got a bishopric in a few months, still luck may be in store, and many may drop in the course of another year or two."

Occasionally a shameless beggar was snubbed. Lord Water- ford wrote to Addington in the interest of his brother :—

" I feel confident that no other person in this country can be found to have, upon public or private grounds, a stronger or fairer claim for preferment on the Bench than Lord John Beresford, my brother. I am, therefore, to request that you will be pleased to recommend Lord John Beresford to a seat on the Ecclesiastical Bench on this occasion."

But Addington replied :—

"My Lord, Lord John Beresford's personal character and his affinity to your Lordship justly entitle him to look to a high situation in the Church ; but I must beg to confine myself to this admission, and to continue to decline to give any specific assurance or pledge whatever."

Sometimes, too, a Bishop would be aroused when he beard of the probability of a specially shameful " job " being per-

petrated. At all events, Dr. Stuart, the Primate of Ireland, wrote to the Viceroy when he was told that a Rev. Mr.

Beresford would probably be appointed to the vacant bishopric of Kilmore :—

"In the North I have six bishops under me. Three-are men of tolerable moral character, but are inactive and useless, and two are of acknowledged bad character. Fix Mr. Beresford at Kil- more, and we shall then have three very inactive bishops and, what I trust the world has not yet seen, three bishops in one district reported to be the most profligate men in Europe."

Not only had Lord Hardwicke an extraordinary number of "Union engagements" to fulfil, but needy landlords and others who expected " pickings " pestered him, although no contract had been made with them. It is not surprising, therefore, that the total amount paid to Irishmen for bringing about the Union, as given by Mr. MacDonagh, was high. One, in fact, gets wearied of the "portentous bill of promises of places, pensions, legal appointments, bishoprics, and pro- motions in the Irish peerage, for which Cornwallis and Castlereagh had made themselves liable." Once honoured Irish names are dragged through the mire :— " The famous Richard Martin of Ballinahinch makes a strange and unexpected appearance in the Viceroy's Post Bag. He was one of the greatest of the Irish landlords, his estate of 200,000 acres extending—as he used to boast—thirty miles from the door of his castle. A member of the Irish House of Commons, he supported the Union and continued to represent the county of Galway in the Imperial Parliament until 1826. In the Parliamentary annals of the first quarter of the nineteenth century he figures as a whimsical member; but in 1822 he carried the first Act of Parliament to prevent the cruel and improper treatment of animals,' an achievement that will ever shed a halo round his name. 'Humanity Martin' was the name bestowed upon him by George IV. He was one of the founders of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at a meeting held at Slaughter's Coffee-House, St. Martin's Lane, on June 24, 1824,

and his portrait hangs in the board-room of the Society in Jermyn Street. In the Viceroy's Post Bag Martin is conspicuous among the sleepless hunters for places in return for services to the cause of the Union. The truth is that although he was almost the feudal sovereign of Connemara, he was ever in pecuniary difficulties!'

It is thus that the poor Lord-Lieutenant bad to look at the financial aspect of the matter :— " As to a sinecure place which can he considered as at all attain- able, there is no other than that held by Mr. Vesey Knox—viz.,

one of the Weighmasterships of Cork If this would secure Mr. Martin, I think, considering his influence in Galway, it would be worth the price. But Martin would probably say that a place of £600 per annum, though a sinecure, would be short of his expectations ; and then would come the question of making up the difference. This can only be done by a secret engagement or by a direct sum of money equivalent to it, and there are ample means for either from the savings of the King's Civil List, which amounts now to between eleven and twelve thousand pounds."

Mr. MacDonagh tells at great—indeed, too great—length the story of Robert Emmet and his insurrection in 1803. That narrative as now retold with the help of "secret and confidential" documents certainly does not reflect credit on any of those who, on the legal side, took part in the trial and condemnation of the unfortunate and misguided young man. Sarah, the daughter of the celebrated John Philpot Curran, was betrothed to Emmet. Their relations were discovered and made known to the father, to Emmet's great distress. Curran may be left to the tender mercies of Mr. MacDonagh :—

" This great lawyer, this orator with the tongue of fire, this wit from whose recorded sallies the lapse of a century has not evaporated the spirit of laughter, was, with all his genius, a mean-sonled creature. His conduct, as disclosed by the Hard- wicke Correspondence, was most despicable. It was not for his daughter suffering from the cruellest pangs that can lacerate the ardent heart of a young girl in love that he was concerned. He was fearful lest his prospects of promotion to the Bench might be imperilled. He hastened in a mad rage to the Castle, saw the Attorney-General—Standish O'Grady—vituperated Emmet, denounced his daughter, tendered his person and his papers to the Government, to abide any inquiry they might deem it expedient to direct. Accordingly, he appeared before the Privy Council and, after examination, was dismissed without a stain on his mean and contemptible character Poor Emmet ! He was indeed sorely stricken by the discovery of his sweetheart's association with him in his dreams and ambitions, his projects and efforts for the overthrow of the British power in Ireland. He appealed fervently to the authorities for the destruction of the papers. He offered to plead guilty to the charge of high treason and to walk to the gallows without a word—giving up his right to address the court from the dock and the people from the scaffold—if, in return, Miss Curran and her relatives were spared the annoyance and the grief of the public disclosure of these documents."

Emmet may or may not be, what Mr. MacDonagh calls him, "the dearest saint in the calendar of Irish political martyr- ology," but he certainly compares more than favourably, so far as character is concerned, with ninety-nine out of a hundred of the Irishmen Who appear in this volume.