Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/575

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WEL
WEL
 

the borough of "Windsor, and was sworn in both on the British and the Irish Privy Councils. He supported Wilberforce in his efforts to abolish the slave-trade, but opposed all propositions for Parliamentary reform. He further recommended himself to Pitt and the King in 1794, by his speech in favour of war with France, was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Board of Indian Control, and in October 1797 was made Governor-General of India, and at the same time created Baron Wellesley in the peerage of Great Britain. A minute account of his eight years' Indian administration does not properly come within the limits of this notice. In military affairs he was seconded by the opening talents of his brother Arthur, and the administrative capacity of his brother Henry. His policy resulted in the extinction of French influence in Hindostan, the defeat and death of Tippoo Sultaun, and the addition of vast regions to the territories already under the Company's rule. Lord Macaulay has characterized his policy as "eminently able, energetic, and successful;" whilst Mill, in his History of British India, takes a different view of it, and says, when writing of the arrival of his successor: "Lord Wellesley was regarded as a very expensive and ambitious ruler; the greater part of his administration had been a scene of war and conquest; war and conquest in India had been successfully held forth to the British nation as at once hostile to the British interests and cruel to the people of India; with a ruler possessing the disposition of Lord Wellesley, it was supposed that the chances of war would always outnumber the chances of peace, … and to those who longed for peace and an overflowing exchequer in India, it appeared that the return of this nobleman [the Marquis Cornwallis] would afford a remedy for every disorder.'"168 His situation in India was at times peculiarly embarrassing, on account of the difficulty of communication with the United Kingdom: he was often six months without any instructions. He was created Marquis of Wellesley in 1799. In August 1805 he left India, reaching England in time to attend the death-bed of his friend Pitt. Articles of impeachment were moved against him, without result, in the House of Commons by Mr. Paull, for alleged oppression of the native princes, especially the Nabob of Oude. Regarding home politics, his views appear to have been now somewhat liberalized. But in 1807 he withstood the King's desire that he should accept the position of Secretary of State in the Duke of Portland's cabinet. In February 1808, he rendered the Government efficient service by palliating the descent on Denmark. He was appointed Ambassador to Spain, 29th April 1809, at the same time that his brother Arthur, as General-in-chief in the Peninsula, was beginning to distinguish himself. On the death of the Duke of Portland in the same year, he was recalled (his brother Henry being appointed in his place), and he accepted the Foreign Secretaryship, which he held from December 1809, to January 1812, when he resigned on account of differences with his colleagues in regard to the Catholic claims and the conduct of the war in Spain. In July 1812 he brought forward a motion favourable to the Catholics; and he continued for the next ten years to offer a modified opposition to the Government. From December 1821 to March 1828, and again from September 1833 to April 1834, he was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. During his first tenure of the office he was unpopular with a large party as the representative of a government disposed to concede the Catholic claims. In 1822, supported by the Lord-Mayor, but in opposition to resolutions of the Town Council, he endeavoured to prevent the annual celebration round the statue of William III. in Dublin, and during a state visit to Hawkins-street Theatre, on the night of 14th December, an earthen jar was thrown at him in his box. This "Bottle riot," as it was called, created great excitement; but the bills against those who participated in it were ignored by the grand jury, and the prosecution fell to the ground. Henry Grattan, jun., thus characterized Lord Wellesley's Irish adminstration: "When viceroy in Ireland he showed himself a friend of liberty; but he was thwarted by subordinates, assailed by violence, overwhelmed with abuse, and impeded in the praiseworthy efforts he made to extend equal rights and equal protection to all classes of the population of Ireland. But Lord Wellesley proceeded firmly in his course; and to him in a great degree is Ireland indebted for the successful opposition to religious bigotry and intolerance."342 The warmest friendship always subsisted between the Marquis and the Duke of Wellington, although they often differed widely and openly on political questions, especially in regard to Catholic Emancipation. In April 1835, on the formation of the second Melbourne administration, the Marquis accepted the office of Lord-Chamberlain, but resigned in the same year, and never afterwards filled any public employment. His latter years were spent in retirement, in the cultiva-

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