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blessing must result. With one voice, then, the voice of united millions, let Ireland assert her claim to freedom.” In this address they also state their object to be the maturing of an “ extensive plan of reform,” to be “produced as the solemn act of the volunteer army of Ireland.”
The plan thus proposed at Dungannon was at once adopted by the other provincial corps. On the 10th of November they met in Dublin, and elected the earl of Charlemont for their chairman. For the particulars of its meeting we shall quote Mr Hardy:-" The convention met in Dublin, at the Royal Exchange, when, as preparatory to everything else, they chose lord Charlemont their president. The same reason,” says his lordship," which had induced me to accept the nomination from Armagh, and to persuade many moderate friends of mine, much against their wishes, to suffer themselves to be delegated, namely, that there should be in the assembly a strength of prudent men, sufficient, by withstanding or preventing violence, to secure moderate measures, induced me now to accept the troublesome and dangerous office of president, which was unanimously voted to me. Another reason also concurred to prevent my refusal. The bishop of Derry had, I knew, done all in his power to be elected to that office, and I feared that, if I should refuse, the choice might fall on him, which would, indeed, have been fatal to the public repose.” The delegates being very numerous, the place of meeting was altered from the Exchange, the rooms of which were too small, to the Rotunda, in Rutland Square. Lord Charlemont, as president, led the way, accompanied by a squadron of horse; then followed the delegates, who walked two and two, and formed a procession altogether as novel as imposing. ....... When the convention proceeded to business, it was soon found that his moderation and good sense, aided by the most respectable in that convention, would too often prove altogether inefficient. Though Mr Brownlow, a wise man, carrying with him that authority which wisdom and integrity, supported by large possessions, will generally command, was chairman of the committee into which the convention resolved itself-though other gentlemen, the most respectable, formed the sub-committee, whose business it was to receive plans of reform-the violent, untutored, and unprincipled, sometimes prevailed, and carried resolutions totally contrary to the wishes of the president or chairman.”
“A singular scene was soon displayed, and yet such a scene as any one who considered the almost unvarying disposition of an assembly of that nature, and the particular object for which it was convened, might justly have expected. From every quarter, and from every speculatist-great clerks or no clerks at all —was poured out in such a multiplicity of plans of reform, some of them ingenious, some which bespoke an exercised and rational mind, but in general, as I have been well assured, so utterly impracticable, “so rugged and wild in their attire,” they looked not like “the offspring of inhabitants of the earth, and yet were on it;" that language would sink in pourtraying this motley band of incongruous fancies-of misshapen theories—valuable only if inefficient, or execrable if efficacious. * All this daily issued from presumptuous empirics, or the vainly busy minds of some political philanthropists, whom the good-breeding alone of their countrymen permitted to be regarded as not totally out of their senses. "The committee showed a perseverance almost marvellous, but the musky conceits and solemn vanities of such pretenders would have put even the patience of the man of Uz to fight. At last, after being for several days bewildered in this palpable obscure of politics, and more and more theories flitting round the heads of the unfortunate, that which must for ever take place on such occasions, took place here. A dictator was appointed, not indeed in name, but in substance.”
The convention went vigorously to work in the execution of their assumed duties, and having speedily digested a scheme of parliamentary reform, Mr H. Flood was requested to introduce in the house of commons a bill in accordance with the views they had adopted.
On the 29th November, 1783, Mr Flood moved for leave to bring in a bill for the more equal representation of the people in parliament. He was replied to by the attorney-general, who, among other objections, urged its origin from an armed body, as inconsistent with the freedom of the house. “We sit not here,” he said, “to register the edicts of another assembly, or to receive propositions at the point of the bayonet;" and after some expressions of praise due to their former merits, he added, “but when they turn aside from this honourable conductwhen they form themselves into a debating society, and with that rude instrument, the bayonet, probe and explore a constitution which requires the nicest hand to touch, I own my respect and veneration for them is destroyed. If it will be avowed that this bill originated with them, I will reject it at once, because I consider that it decides the question, whether this house or the convention are the representatives of the people, and whether this house or the volunteers are to be obeyed.” Mr Flood defended his motion and the volunteers with great power, but with a speciousness somewhat too apparent, and after several able speeches from Sir H. Languishe, Mr Ponsonby, and Mr Fitzgibbon, who had all opposed the motion on the same ground, it was rejected by a large majority. The delegates had, on their part, omitted no expedient which might be presumed to lend weight and influence to their orator. They crowded into the galleries and passages in their uniforms, and listened in stern impatience to this discussion. The house expressed its sense of this method of interference in a strong resolution.
In the mean time, the convention continued to sit. Lord Charlemont, after two hours, receiving no intelligence from the house, and justly surmising what had occurred, prevailed on them to adjourn till Monday. On Monday, soon after they had come together, a delegate arose to harangue against the proceedings of the house of commons; but lord Charlemont had foreseen this, and fully appreciated the danger of a new impulse which might have the effect of hurrying them forward in the course of indiscretion to which they seemed but too well inclined. He accordingly interposed, and prevailed upon them to adopt the parliamentary rule, that nothing said in one house should be noticed in another. His most anxious and continual vigilance was nevertheless barely sufficient for the prevention of that collision which he feared. So great was the tendency to gather heat and impulse, displayed in this assembly, which had manifestly survived its nobler functions, and was rapidly degenerating into the blind and precipitate organ of revolutionary movement. Under such circumstances, the moderation, sagacity, and firmness, of lord Charlemont are seen to eminent advantage. Numerous letters and addresses from the different volunteer corps appealed to his patriotism, and besieged his resolution. Having won golden opinions as the leader of those movements from which most signal advantages had resulted, he had next to resist and repress the passions and the zeal, not according to wisdom, which had derived ardour and impulse from success. The difficulty was increased by the encouragement which the volunteers received from Mr Flood, their lieutenant-colonel, whose vast rhetorical talents gave him a stormy sway over the minds of a body of men already fired into more than the ordinary heat of factions.
Many circumstances had, nevertheless, for some time previous to the incidents here related, been tending to bring about their dissolution. Like all popular bodies, they sustained the ordinary effects of tumultuary action. They first overshot the principle of their organization; next, brought forth division, raised resistance, and became subject to individual dictation. The government followed their motions with a vigilant eye, and took advantage of each unwary step; the institution of the fencible regiments thinned their ranks, and deprived them largely of their officers; the moderation of one part divided them from the violence of others; and when, by the tumultuary proceeding just related, they came into collision with the house of commons, they had ceased to be formidable as an army, and were reduced to a factious party, which the better part of their own leaders lent a hand to repress.
After much violent feeling had been shown, the temper and discretion of lord Charlemont at length prevailed in bringing back the meeting to their original object, and after some motions in favour of reform, and a short address in vindication of themselves and the motives of their conduct, they consented to an adjournment sine die. Some further reflections of a more general nature will find a more appropriate place in a future page, when we shall have to take up the thread of our historical statement, and to connect the occurrences here noticed with subsequent events. We shall now briefly revert to some incidents in which the personal history of lord Charlemont is more immediately involved.
During the progress of these political events, in which he had exercised a more efficient and beneficial influence than any other individual, lord Charlemont occupied a central position in the aspect of all the main parties. He had the unusual good fortune, at the same time, to head the great movement of his countrymen, so far as it continued safe or wise, and to command the esteem of the British government. Having, till 1773, always kept a house in London, and enjoyed the best society which its rank, fashion, and literature afforded, he then, at the call of duty, and with no motive of self-interest, abandoned this most grateful and congenial advantage, to watch over the birth and early growth of his country's national existence. With a high spirit of the purest patriotism, he held back from all the honours and advantages of which his station and national importance drew continued offers from the Irish administration; so that, indeed, he often found it a delicate and embarrassing duty to refuse those favours which other statesmen have been most anxious to obtain by all the resources of solicitation. From the turbulent and precipitate character of those impulses which it was his task to govern, he had often to sustain the difficult part of supporting the expedient measures of the government on one hand, while, on the other, he was compelled to offer uncompromising resistance. In both of these conflicting duties, he never lost sight of his own dignity and honour, or weakly bent to either popular dictation or to influence in high places. He was tender and sensitive, and often felt in secret the painful embarrassment of his position: but in his public conduct and language he showed at all times a noble and commanding front, serene, unswerving, and unshaken; nor have we in his whole conduct been able to detect a shadow of those qualities of ambition, private motive, or any of those sentiments terminating in self, which are so often the concealed subtexture of political virtue.
On the nomination of earl Temple, in . 1782, to the Irish government, he received from that nobleman a kind letter to conciliate his support. Earl Temple well merited the approbation and support of a man like lord Charlemont. His administration was graced by the institution of the knights of St Patrick; and in accepting the riband of that order, lord Charlemont was felt to pay, as well as receive, a compliment. Earl Temple carried stern and unsparing reform into every branch of the executive department, and on his departure, in the fol. lowing year, he was escorted by the Irish volunteers, who lined the streets through which he passed to the sea-side.
With the earl of Northington who succeeded, lord Charlemont was on the same good terms, was cultivated as assiduously, and was enabled to be of the most efficient use in the conduct of many difficult affairs; insomuch, that lord Northington was impressed with a sense of the disadvantage of his not occupying a seat in the privy council. Having taken the steps essential for such a purpose, he wrote a flattering letter to lord Charlemont, who, in reply, made his consent conditional on the same offer being made to his faithful friend, Henry Grattan. The suggestion was at once complied with.
We have next to mention an incident of lord Charlemont's life, which must, at the time of its occurrence, have been more peculiarly an unmixed gratification to his characteristic tastes, and should now be commemorated as an honour and a distinction more noble and permanent than can ever be found in the transient vicissitudes of political revolution. In 1786, he was elected president of the Royal Irish Academy, an institution which-next to, or rather concurrently with, the university of Dublin-has done more to raise the character of Ireland and Irishmen among the more civilized nations of Europe, than all other causes, of whatever kind. We cannot consent to give our account of this highly distinguished institution in the close of a memoir; it is complicated with too many illustrious recollections, and too many truly glorious results. We shall therefore find a more appropriate place, in which these details may be less interrupted, and less an interruption. The Royal Irish Academy was, like many other institutions of the same kind, the fruit of repeated, and till then, unsuccessful
effort on the part of eminent literary and scientific men, to establish some centre for communication and concert, in which the various branches of human inquiry might impart mutual light, and by comparison and juxtaposition, be seen in their relative positions to the whole, or to each other-a thought expressed in the preface to the first volume of the Transactions, and amply verified in the comprehensive and harmonious range of modern science. We shall only here add, that it was the child of the university, of which its earliest working members were the most distinguished fellows, and from which it has ever since derived its principal constituency; so that it may, indeed, be not unaptly compared to the main outlet from which the streams of academic research are communicated to the world—a relation equally honourable to both. The first sitting of the academy appears from its Transactions to have taken place in 1785, and its first published essay was “ An account of the Observatory belonging to Trinity College, Dublin, by the Rev. Henry Usher, senior fellow." The preface to the volume was from the pen of another eminent member of the university, the Rev. Robert Burrowes. The Rev. Matthew Young also communicated some curious and important papers on the quadrature of simple curves, and on the extraction of cubic and other roots. These, with other very able and interesting papers on most branches of human inquiry, filled the first volume, which was published in 1787.
Lord Charlemont did not view the position of president to the academy as a mere honorary distinction, but appeared mostly in his place, and actively co-operated in the objects of the institution. In the first session, he read an essay to prove, from the works of Fazio Delli Uberti, an ancient Florentine writer, the antiquity of the Irish woollen manufacture. He also, in 1789, read an essay on a custom in Lesbos, where the eldest daughter holds, in regard to inheritance, the ordinary rights of primogeniture.
The numerous political occurrences which took place during the remainder of lord Charlemont's life, may, for the present, be passed over, with slight exceptions. He was beginning to feel the approaches of old age; and a constitution never robust, was every year more affected by infirmities, which diminished his activity, and, except on extraordinary occasions, circumscribed his intercourse with the world. His home, nevertheless, continued to be the frequent resort of literature and politics; so that, to the very last, he was enabled to enter efficiently into the best interests of the country.
The volunteers, to the latest moment of their existence, continued to be chief objects of his parental care. Owing to the several causes to which we have already taken due care to call the reader's attention, they had continued slowly to decline from their numerical strength and national importance. While they continued to be objects of secret suspicion and dislike to the government, they had quickly reached that point of transition in which their character became more than questionable to every sober wellwisher to Ireland. Had they been unhappily placed under a less cautious and firm guidance than that of lord Charlemont, it is sufficiently apparent to what they tended. From a patriotic array in defence of Ireland, they had assumed a political existence; and thus transformed, were obviously passing through that well-known