Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Connell, Daniel (1775-1847)
O'CONNELL, DANIEL (1775–1847), politician, eldest son of Morgan O'Connell, of Carhen House, Cahirciveen, co. Kerry, the scion of an ancient but historically insignificant house, and Catherine, daughter of John O'Mullane of Whitechurch, co. Cork, was born at Carhen House on 6 Aug. 1775. Through his great-grandmother, Elizabeth Conway, the wife of John O'Connell of Darrynane, he was descended from an Elizabethan undertaker, Jenkin Conway, who obtained for himself and his associates a grant of the castle and lands of Killorglin, formerly in the possession of the Earls of Desmond (see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vii. 242). He obtained the elements of education from David Mahony, an old hedge-school master; but being at an early age adopted by his uncle, Maurice O'Connell of Darrynane, familiarly known as ‘Old Hunting Cap,’ head of the family, and without children of his own, he was sent by him at the age of thirteen to Father Harrington's school at Cove, now Queenstown. At school O'Connell did not display remarkable ability, but he claimed the unique distinction of being the only boy who never was flogged. Trinity College being practically closed against him as a Roman catholic, he was sent at the age of sixteen to complete his education on the continent; but being too old for admission into the school at Liège, for which he was originally intended, he and his brother Maurice entered the English College of St. Omer in January 1791 (Cavrois, O'Connell et le Collége Anglais à Saint-Omer). During his residence there he produced a very favourable impression on the principal of the college, Dr. Gregory Stapleton, who predicted a great future for him. On 18 Aug. 1792 he and his brother were transferred to Douay; but the college being shortly afterwards suppressed, they returned to England in January 1793, not without some personal experience of the excesses of the French revolutionists, and of the passionate hatred of the peasantry towards the religious orders, which left a deep impression on O'Connell's mind, and made him, as he declared, with more truth than he was perhaps conscious of, almost a tory at heart. Having for a short time after his return attended a private school in London, kept apparently by a relative of the family, he entered Lincoln's Inn on 30 Jan. 1794, and settled down to the serious study of law (extract from ‘Lincoln's Inn Admission Book’ in Pearce's Inns of Court, p. 187; O'Connell kept one term in Gray's Inn, a fact which helps to account for the extraordinary confusion of his biographers on this point). ‘I have now,’ he wrote in 1795 to his uncle Maurice, ‘two objects to pursue—the one, the attainment of knowledge; the other, the acquisition of those qualities which constitute the polite gentleman … I have indeed a glowing and, if I may use the expression, an enthusiastic ambition, which converts every toil into a pleasure, and every study into an amusement … If I do not rise at the bar, I will not have to meet the reproaches of my own conscience.’
Having completed his terms he returned to Ireland in 1796, and was called to the Irish bar on 19 May 1798, being one of the first Irish catholics to reap the benefit of the Catholic Relief Act of 1793. His first brief is dated 24 May 1798. During this time he lodged at 14 Trinity Place, Dublin, studying moderately, occasionally attending the debates in the House of Commons and the meetings of the Historical Society, but living on the whole convivially, as became a member of the lawyers' artillery corps and a freemason. He took no active interest in the revolutionary politics of the United Irishmen, of which he always spoke contemptuously. The arrival of the French fleet in Bantry Bay in December 1796 drew from him the expression of opinion: ‘The Irish are not yet sufficiently enlightened to bear the sun of Freedom. Freedom would soon dwindle into licentiousness; they would rob, they would murder. The liberty which I look for is that which would increase the happiness of mankind’ (Irish Monthly Magazine, x. 455). Still, after the outbreak of the rebellion, Dublin was no safe place even for a man of O'Connell's moderate views, and he took the first opportunity to return to Carhen. He was passionately fond of hunting, and, while indulging in his favourite pastime, he contracted a severe illness from exposure, so that his life was for a time despaired of. On his recovery he joined the Munster circuit. His natural good humour and wit made him from the first a universal favourite. His fee-book shows an income of 60l. for the first year, rising to 420l. 17s. 6d. in the second, to 1,077l. 4s. 3d. in 1806, and to 3,808l. 7s. in 1814. In 1828, though wearing a stuff gown and belonging to the outer bar, his professional emoluments exceeded 8,000l. (ib. p. 591). He continued to go circuit for twenty-three years, but subsequently only went for a special fee, when his visits were made the occasion of public rejoicings.
On 13 Jan. 1800 O'Connell made his first public speech at a meeting of catholics in the Royal Exchange, Dublin, convened to protest against the Act of Union, and to repudiate the insinuation that the catholics regarded it with favour. He argued in favour of subordinating purely religious questions to those of national importance; and in after years, when agitating for the repeal of the union, he regarded it as a curious fact that all the principles of his subsequent political life were contained in his first speech. His intervention in politics was not pleasing to his uncle, who was naturally anxious that he should not endanger his success in his profession by active opposition to government. But there is no reason to suppose that O'Connell at this time felt any particular predilection for politics. On 23 June 1802 he married at Dublin his cousin Mary, daughter of Dr. O'Connell of Tralee. It was a love-match. His wife had no fortune, and O'Connell was for some time apprehensive that his uncle, who was opposed to the match, would disinherit him. Fortunately his fears in this respect were not realised, and O'Connell had every reason to congratulate himself on the happy choice he made. During the time of Emmet's insurrection he assisted personally in the preservation of the peace of Dublin, and the experience he thus acquired strongly impressed him with the danger of entrusting civilians with arms. He continued to apply himself assiduously to his profession, and his reputation for legal ability, especially in criminal cases, where his unrivalled power of cross-examination was brought into play, steadily increased.
As time went on he began to take, so far as the general apathy and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would permit him, a more active interest in politics. At a meeting of the catholic committee in February 1805 he successfully opposed the procrastinating and timid policy of the catholic leaders, and his name appears as the seventeenth among the subscribers to the first catholic petition in behalf of emancipation presented to the imperial parliament. He was even at this time strongly in favour of sessional petitions, but was compelled to acquiesce in the general desire not to embarrass the government of Fox. After Fox's death bolder counsels began to prevail. At an aggregate meeting of catholics on 7 Feb. 1807 it was resolved to petition parliament. The petition was actually printed; but, in consequence of the dismissal of Lord Grenville and the accession of the tories to power, it was thought wiser by Grattan and the friends of the catholics not to present it. O'Connell reluctantly acquiesced in this policy; but at a meeting of catholics on 19 Jan. 1808 he succeeded in carrying the meeting with him, and the petition was presented by Grattan on 23 May. When proposing to refer it to a committee, Grattan claimed to have been authorised by the catholics to concede a veto to the crown on the nomination of bishops (Parl. Debates, xi. 556). It soon appeared that catholic opinion in Ireland was divided on the subject—the aristocracy and a large portion of the mercantile class favouring the veto, the hierarchy and the people generally repudiating it. The schism did much harm to the catholic cause. Despair succeeded to a state of apathy. O'Connell, who from the first had sided with the priests and the people, constantly, it is true, urged the necessity of agitating; but his words fell for the most part on dull and hostile ears. The first symptom of revival came from an unexpected quarter. Early in 1810 a movement had been set on foot in the Dublin Corporation for a repeal of the union, and it had met with so much success that a meeting of freemen and freeholders was convened in the Royal Exchange on 18 Sept. to discuss the subject. O'Connell attended the meeting, and delivered an important speech. He claimed that the prophecies of Grattan and Foster as to the evil consequences of the union had been more than realised. For himself, he would abandon all wish for emancipation if it delayed the repeal of the union. ‘Nay,’ he concluded, ‘were Mr. Perceval tomorrow to offer me the Repeal of the Union upon the terms of re-enacting the entire penal code, I declare it from my heart, and in the presence of my God, that I would most cheerfully embrace his offer.’ The subject of the penal code was one which at this time seriously occupied O'Connell's attention as chairman of a sub-committee for reporting on the laws affecting the catholics. The report of the committee was published in 1812 under the title ‘A Statement of the Penal Laws which aggrieve the Catholics of Ireland,’ and is generally attributed to Denis Scully [q. v.], but the moving spirit of the committee was O'Connell.
It was by quiet unostentatious work of this sort, by framing resolutions for adoption at aggregate meetings, and by unremitting attention to practical details, that, in spite of incredible jealousy, he gradually asserted his leadership of the catholics. His great object was to reconcile the differences that existed among the catholics themselves, and to devise some scheme for placing their affairs on a broad national basis. The Convention Act of 1793 made representation by delegation illegal, and O'Connell had, as he said, no intention ‘to violate the law and expose the catholic committee to a prosecution.’ But it was possible, he thought, to increase the influence of the committee by adding to it informally from other parts of the country than Dublin. At his instance, accordingly, a letter (ib. xix. 3) was published on 1 Jan. 1811, addressed to the catholics generally, calling on them to appoint ten managers of the catholic petition in each county. This the chief secretary, Wellesley Pole, pronounced on 12 Feb. to be a contravention of the Convention Act. Pole's action was severely criticised in parliament, and for a time he deemed it prudent to overlook the proceedings of the reorganised committee. During the summer numerous meetings to protest against Pole's conduct, and to petition for his removal, took place, and at one, held during the assizes at Limerick, O'Connell presided. It was the general opinion that government had suffered a defeat, and at a meeting of catholics on 9 July it was resolved to extend the principle of ‘appointment’ to five persons chosen by the catholic inhabitants of each parish in Dublin. In taking this step O'Connell recognised that they were sailing very close to the wind; but ‘he considered it a legal experiment, and he cheerfully offered himself as the first victim of prosecution.’ Government immediately accepted the challenge, and, after giving the catholics a chance of withdrawing from their position, issued a proclamation on 2 Aug. declaring such elections illegal. The elections, however, took place, and on 12 Aug. a number of persons who had taken part in them were arrested on a warrant by Chief-justice Downes. On 21 Nov. the state trial of Dr. Sheridan, one of the traversers, began, O'Connell being retained as one of the counsel for the defence. Government failed to convict; but in charging the jury, Chief-justice Downes clearly intimated that under the act the catholic committee as reorganised was an illegal assembly; and the trial and conviction of Mr. Kirwan on a similar charge in the following year proved, as O'Connell said, that the resources of government were adequate to a conviction. On 23 Dec. the catholic committee as reorganised was dispersed, and it was resolved to revert to the old plan of entrusting the preparation of the petition to a non-delegated board of catholics, and for ordinary purposes to fall back on the cumbersome machinery of aggregate meetings.
With the catholics generally, O'Connell had looked forward to the regency as likely to witness the success of emancipation. His expectations had been disappointed, and his disappointment was all the keener because he had persisted, even to fatuity, in distinguishing between what was supposed to be the real intentions of the prince and the conduct of his ministers. After the death of Perceval, and the reconstruction of the Liverpool administration on more or less anti-catholic lines, delusion was no longer possible; but the unexpected success of Canning's motion on 22 June 1812 gave the catholics new hope. O'Connell, while sharing in the general satisfaction, strongly emphasised the necessity ‘never to relax their efforts until religious freedom was established.’ Speaking at Limerick on 24 July, he seized on an allusion made by Canning to ‘agitators with ulterior views,’ and began, ‘I feel it my duty as a professed agitator,’ &c. He poured contempt on the doctrine of the necessity of securities. The question of securities, he declared, was an insult to the understandings and principles of the catholics. Nothing but the simple repeal of all catholic disabilities would satisfy the country. The apathy of the mass of the people, as shown by the results of the general election, greatly depressed him; but he was more alarmed by the prospect of the passing of a bill on the lines laid down by Canning, which Grattan, with the best intention in the world, but with altogether insufficient knowledge of the state of catholic opinion in Ireland, had introduced on 30 April 1813. It was a critical moment in O'Connell's life. Not an instant he felt was to be lost in opposing the measure. The catholic board met on 1 May, and, though its proceedings were conducted in private, a report was furnished by O'Connell to the ‘Dublin Evening Post’ of 4 May, in which he denounced the bill as ‘restricted in principle, doubtful in its wording, and inadequate to that full relief which had been generally expected.’ As for the ecclesiastical provisions of the bill, he left them, he declared, to the decision of the catholic prelates, but not without a strong hint that, in case they thought fit to accept them, he might find it his duty ‘to protest against any measure that might tarnish the last relic of the nation's independence—its religion.’ On 27 May the clergy confirmed O'Connell's decision by pronouncing the clause to be incompatible with the discipline of the Roman catholic church. Two days previously the obnoxious bill had been defeated and withdrawn.
O'Connell's opposition to the securities exposed him to much abuse, and led to an unfortunate schism both in the board and in the country. But, quite apart from the principle involved in the securities, there can be little doubt that his opposition to the bill was entirely justifiable on political grounds (see particularly Peel to Richmond, 21 May 1813, in Parker, Sir Robert Peel, i. 85). For the nonce the catholics, split up into vetoists and anti-vetoists, seemed further than ever from emancipation. But, much as he might deplore this unhappy issue to their affairs, O'Connell had no intention of retreating from his position. Hitherto he had tried by every means in his power to conciliate his opponents. Conciliation had failed; it only remained to try other and more radical methods.
Among the staunchest of O'Connell's allies at this juncture was John Magee [q. v.], proprietor and editor of the ‘Dublin Evening Post,’ a paper which, with a very wide circulation, gave an unflinching support to the catholic claims. In order, as Peel admitted to Abbot (Colchester, Diary, ii. 471), to wrest this formidable weapon out of the hands of the catholics, proceedings were begun in the summer of 1813 against Magee for libelling the viceroy, the Duke of Richmond. O'Connell was Magee's leading counsel, and in a speech of four hours' duration, by many regarded as his greatest forensic effort, he poured contempt and ridicule on the charge, on the government that preferred it, and on the jury that was to decide it. As Peel, who was present, said, he took ‘the opportunity of uttering a libel even more atrocious than that which he proposed to defend.’ The fact was, O'Connell felt it was utterly useless to appeal for justice to a jury composed entirely of Orangemen, and so, with Magee's consent, he devoted himself to a full exposition and vindication of the catholic policy. The court was hostile. He knew it, and rejoiced in it. Into those four brief hours he compressed the indignation of a lifetime. His enemies, the enemies of his creed and his country, were at last before him. He would compel them to listen to him. When the chief justice tried to stem the torrent of his vituperative eloquence, he turned on him with fury. ‘You heard,’ he cried, ‘the attorney-general traduce and calumniate us. You heard him with patience and with temper; listen now to our vindication.’ His speech, of which a full report was published by Magee, was received with applause not unmingled with symptoms of disapproval from the more moderate members of his party. When Magee appeared for judgment on 27 Nov., the attorney-general urged his publication of the speech as an aggravation of his original offence. O'Connell, though he may have been unaware that the benchers had been sounded on the propriety of stripping him of his gown, recognised that the motion in aggravation was directed against him. He construed something the attorney-general said into a personal insult, and in presence of the whole court declared that only his respect for the temple of justice prevented him from personally chastising him. His violence had the effect of frightening his client, and at the end of his speech Magee repudiated his counsel. The solicitor-general, however, refused to draw any distinction between counsel and client, and Magee was sentenced to fines of 500l. and 1,000l. and imprisonment for two years and six months. O'Connell felt Magee's action keenly, not merely on his own account, but as likely to increase ‘dissension amongst the few who remained devoted, in intention and design at least, to the unfortunate land of our birth.’ At the same time he judged it impossible to allow him to suffer the full brunt of the punishment alone, and, with the assistance of Purcell O'Gorman, he seems to have paid Magee's fines. On the other hand, O'Connell's conduct did not escape censure. As the solicitor-general expressed it, the catholic board ‘entered into partnership with Magee, but left the gaol-part of the concern exclusively to him.’ So strong indeed was this feeling that O'Connell's friends felt obliged to mark their approbation by presenting him with a service of plate worth a thousand guineas.
The year 1814 opened gloomily for the catholics. They had alienated their friends in parliament, and, to add to their misfortunes, there arrived in February Quarantotti's famous rescript sanctioning, in the name of the pope, the acceptance of the very securities they had denounced as incompatible with the discipline of the church. The rescript was voted by the board and the bishops to be mischievous and non-mandatory. But the controversy it raised was still at its height when, on 3 June, government interfered and suppressed the catholic board. How low the board had sunk in public estimation may be gathered from the fact that not a voice was raised in its favour in parliament. Except his declining days, the next eight years were the darkest of O'Connell's life. Still, he never abandoned hope in the ultimate success of emancipation, and the gloomier the prospect became the more confident was his language. The strain of the struggle fell on him almost entirely alone. At a time when, to use his own words, his minutes counted by the guinea, when his emoluments were limited only by the extent of his physical and waking powers, when his meals were shortened to the narrowest space and his sleep restricted to the earliest hours before dawn, there was not one day that he did not devote one or two hours, often much more, to the working out of the catholic cause; and that without receiving any remuneration, even for the personal expenditure incurred in the agitation. It is not surprising that his language at times exceeded the bounds of decorum. But it is difficult to understand how, except on the supposition that it had been determined by the Castle party to pick a quarrel with him, his application of such an epithet as ‘beggarly’ to the corporation of Dublin should have been construed by any member of it into a personal insult. But D'Esterre, one of the guild of merchants, regarded it in that light. After in vain trying to make O'Connell the challenger, D'Esterre sent him a message, which O'Connell accepted. On Wednesday, 1 Feb. 1815, O'Connell and D'Esterre met at Bishopscourt, near Naas, about twelve miles from Dublin. O'Connell won the choice of ground. Both parties fired almost simultaneously, D'Esterre slightly the first. O'Connell fired low, and struck D'Esterre fatally in the hip. After D'Esterre's death the courtesy of his second, Sir Edward Stanley, relieved O'Connell from fear of legal proceedings, and he, on his part, behaved with thoughtful generosity to D'Esterre's family. To O'Connell's personal friends the result of the duel was highly satisfactory, especially as the patching up of a former affair of honour between him and a brother barrister had given his enemies cause to sneer at his courage (Irish Monthly Magazine, x. 629).
O'Connell's duel with D'Esterre was still fresh when he became involved in an affair of honour with Peel, who at that time filled the post of Irish secretary. Ever since Peel had come to Ireland O'Connell had spoken of him in most contemptuous language—language, perhaps, not altogether unwarranted when one remembers Peel's youth and inexperience, and the indifference to Ireland which his appointment might be conceived to imply. Peel, moreover, had not been wanting in arrogance. Affecting to look down on O'Connell as a noisy agitator, he spoke of him to his friends as an ‘itinerant demagogue,’ and he had, it was reported, insinuated that O'Connell's agitation of the catholic question was dishonest. The rumour reached O'Connell, and he declared on more than one occasion that Peel would not dare to repeat the suggestion in his presence. Neither Peel nor his friends were inclined to overlook this challenge, and, at Peel's request, Sir George Saxton called on O'Connell, who at once avowed his words; but explanations followed, in the course of which O'Connell admitted that he had spoken under a misapprehension. This peaceful ending of the affair did not commend itself to Saxton, who, with the intention of branding O'Connell as a coward, published in the public press on Saturday evening a partial statement of what had happened. Smarting under the imputation, O'Connell charged Peel and Saxton with resorting to a paper war. This, of course, led to a direct challenge from Peel. A meeting was arranged, but was frustrated by Mrs. O'Connell. It was then agreed to meet on the continent, and the parties were already on their way thither when O'Connell was arrested in London on the information of James Beckett, under-secretary of state, and bound over in heavy penalties to keep the peace. In 1825, after the second reading of the Catholic Relief Bill, O'Connell, thinking to do an act of justice to Peel, tendered a full apology to him, acknowledging himself to have originally been in the wrong. The apology was certainly more than Peel had any right to expect, and O'Connell was immediately charged with crouching to the most implacable and dangerous enemy of the catholic cause. To this charge O'Connell replied, ‘There was, I know it well, personal humiliation in taking such a step. But is not this a subject upon which I merit humiliation? Yes. Let me be sneered at and let me be censured even by the generous and respected; but I do not shrink from this humiliation. He who feels conscious of having outraged the law of God ought to feel a pleasure in the avowal of his deep and lasting regret’ (Dublin Evening Post, 3 Nov. 1825).
Meanwhile, the bitterness which marked the ‘securities’ controversy in its first phase was giving way to a feeling of apathy and despair. Aggregate meetings grew rarer. A Catholic Association—the suppressed board under a new name—met seldom and effected nothing. It ran into debt, and, having been extricated by O'Connell, moved into smaller rooms in Crow Street. In parliament the proposal to emancipate the catholics on any terms was rejected by overwhelming majorities. O'Connell, who was watching with interest the progress of the democratic movement in England, was seriously revolving in his own mind whether more was not to be obtained by supporting the movement for a reform of parliament than by presenting petitions to a parliament which showed itself so obstinately opposed to the catholic claims. The general tranquillity of the country, however, under the neutral government of Peel's successor, Sir Charles Grant [see Grant, Charles, Lord Glenelg], coupled with the representations of friends in parliament and the tacit conversion of Grattan on the securities question, induced him to advise one more effort on the old lines. He spoke sanguinely of success. ‘One grand effort now,’ he wrote to the O'Conor Don on 21 Oct. 1819, ‘ought to emancipate us, confined, as it should be, exclusively to our own question. After that I would, I acknowledge, join the reformers hand as well as heart, unless they do now emancipate. By they, of course, I mean the parliament’ (Fitzpatrick, Corresp. i. 61). The death of Grattan intervened, and it was suggested that the petition should be entrusted to Plunket. To this O'Connell objected, on the ground that Plunket had declared that conditions and securities were just and necessary. Accordingly, in an address to the catholics of Ireland on 1 Jan. 1821, he urged that it was impossible to expect emancipation from an unreformed parliament, and that consequently reform must and ought to precede emancipation. For this advice he was roundly censured by Sheil, and the consent of parliament to take the catholic claims into consideration confirmed, for the time, Sheil's argument. But the appearance of Plunket's bills soon justified O'Connell's apprehensions. He was at the time on circuit, but, without losing a moment, he addressed a letter to the catholics of Ireland denouncing the insidious nature of the measures. His warning was unheeded. The bills passed the commons, but were rejected, to O'Connell's entire satisfaction, by the lords.
The visit of George IV to Ireland in August 1821 threw Irishmen of all classes and creeds into a state of violent excitement. A wave of intense loyalty swept the country. For a moment Orangemen and catholics agreed to co-operate in offering an harmonious greeting to his majesty. No one was more profoundly affected by the spirit of conciliation than O'Connell. To him the prospect of a union between protestant and catholic seemed so desirable that no sacrifice was too great to promote it. He supported every motion for commemorating the king's visit, and even went as far as to present him on his departure with a crown of laurel. The whole affair ended in disappointment; but the futility of the king's visit was not immediately apparent. The appointment of Lord Wellesley as viceroy, and the substitution of Plunket for Saurin as attorney-general, seemed to indicate a more favourable attitude on the part of government towards the catholic claims, and O'Connell was strongly impressed with the advisability of again petitioning parliament. Accordingly, in his address to the catholics in January 1822, he urged that a fresh petition should be prepared; and, at the same time, submitted a proposal for the domestic nomination of catholic prelates, which, while not infringing the liberties of the church, offered all reasonable security to the state. His intention to bring the catholic claims under the notice of parliament was, however, defeated, owing to the revival of the old feud between the catholics and Orangemen, attended by a recrudescence in the south-western counties of agrarian outrage. The government of Lord Wellesley, in its anxiety to steer a neutral course, had succeeded in offending both parties. The Bottle riot, on 14 Dec. 1822, when a disgraceful attack was made on the viceroy, was distinctly traced to an Orange source, and reprobated by the more respectable men of the party; it afforded O'Connell an opportunity to point the moral that loyalty was not the peculiar prerogative of one section or another. But something more than mere advice, he felt, was needed if the peasantry were to be rescued from the malice of their enemies and the consequences of their own poverty and crime. Accordingly, at a general meeting of catholics on 12 May 1823, he gave practical expression to his views by proposing that an association should then be formed of such gentlemen as wished voluntarily to come forward for the purpose of conducting the affairs of the Irish catholics, the qualification for membership being the payment of an annual subscription of one guinea. The object of the association, he announced, was not to be to force on parliament the annual farce, or more properly a triennial interlude, of a debate on the catholic claims, but to deal with practical questions in a practical way. There were, he insisted, many grievances under which the poor and unprotected catholic peasant smarted which would not admit of waiting for redress until the day of emancipation arrived, and which might very properly be made the subject of separate applications to parliament and the laws.
In such fashion did the Catholic Association come into existence. But the enthusiasm which O'Connell's words aroused speedily evaporated, and on 31 May the meeting of the association stood adjourned owing to inability to form the necessary quorum of ten. O'Connell was not baffled. He was resolved to make ‘the people of England see that catholic millions felt a deep interest in the cause, and that the movement was not confined to those who were styled agitators.’ After several ineffectual efforts to get a meeting together, O'Connell succeeded on 4 Feb. 1824 in expounding his plan of ‘a catholic rent.’ In effect it amounted simply to this—that, in addition to members paying an annual subscription of a guinea, and the clergy, who were members ex officio, any one who paid a penny a month, or one shilling in the year, was, by virtue of that payment, a member of the association. It was not long before the usefulness of the new organisation was generally recognised. The rent, which in the first week of its collection amounted only to 8l., reached in the last week of the year the sum of 1,032l. It never, it is true, reached at any time the dimensions that O'Connell anticipated, but it did more than ever he dreamed of. It called a nation into existence. It infused a spirit of hope into the peasantry. It made them feel their importance, and gave an interest to the proceedings of the association which they had never before possessed. It was, so to speak, the first step in their political education; the first step out of servitude into nationality. The clergy, too, after a brief period of hesitation, threw themselves heart and soul into the movement; and, with their assistance, a branch of the association was established in almost every parish in Ireland. To O'Connell personally, although he modestly disclaimed the honour of having originated the scheme, the success of the undertaking was rightly ascribed. Hitherto he had been only one of their leaders, but the establishment of the rent lifted him in the imagination of his countrymen into a unique position. Wherever he went on circuit, he met with an ovation. Willing hands dragged his carriage, and banquets met him at every turn. He felt his power, and did all he could to augment it; but his object was entirely patriotic and unselfish.
Government, which at first had regarded the association with languid interest, was alarmed when it saw the dimensions it was assuming. Early in November 1824 a report that O'Connell, at a meeting of the association, had darkly hinted at the necessity there might be for a new Bolivar to arise in defence of Irish liberty, was regarded as sufficient grounds for prosecuting him on a charge of directly inciting to rebellion. The prosecution, however, broke down, owing to the refusal of the newspaper reporters to produce their notes or to swear to the accuracy of their report, and the grand jury accordingly ignored the bill. Alluding to his prosecution at the next meeting of the association, O'Connell indignantly disclaimed the construction that had been placed on his words. The notion of arraying a barefooted, turbulent, undisciplined peasantry against the marshalled troops of the empire he scouted as only worthy of a doting driveller. But the failure to convict him did not prevent government from taking immediate steps to suppress the association, and on 10 Feb. 1825 a bill for that purpose was introduced into parliament by Goulburn. The association lost no time in petitioning against it, and a deputation, which O'Connell reluctantly joined, proceeded to London to strengthen the hands of the opposition. Parliament, however, refused to hear counsel in support of the petition, and in due time the bill became law. But O'Connell's visit to London was productive of important political results; for, besides bringing him into closer relations with the leaders of the whig party, it was the means of reviving a discussion on the catholic claims in parliament, with the result that on 28 Feb. leave was given to introduce a relief bill. More than this, it enabled him, as a witness before committees of both houses appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland, to expound his views on such subjects as tithes, education, the Orange societies, the condition of the peasantry, the electoral franchise, the endowment of the clergy, and the administration of justice. His behaviour as a witness—his modesty, reasonableness, and willingness to conciliate—extorted admiration even from his opponents.
The preparation of the Catholic Relief Bill was naturally a subject of profound interest to him; and there is good reason to believe that he was not merely consulted as to its main provisions, but had actually a hand in the drafting of it, though his indiscretion in announcing the fact offended his whig friends, and elicited a denial from Sir Francis Burdett. With equal indiscretion he caused a premature statement of the contents of the bill to be published in the Dublin newspapers. His tacit approbation of the proposal to accompany the measure with two supplementary bills, subsequently known as ‘the wings,’ for endowing the catholic clergy and disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders, was fiercely denounced by Lawless in Ireland and in England by Cobbett. Before the second reading of the bill he paid a hurried visit to Dublin. On 14 April he addressed a large aggregate meeting. But nothing was said about ‘the wings;’ and it seems to have been agreed to leave the matter entirely to the discretion of parliament. On 10 May the bill passed the House of Commons; but a week later it was rejected by the lords, in consequence of the violent opposition of the Duke of York. O'Connell returned to Ireland on 1 June, and was greeted with a great public demonstration. A few days later he addressed an aggregate meeting in Anne Street Chapel. Overlooking an attempt—the first of several—on the part of Lawless to pass a resolution censuring the conduct of the delegates in assenting to ‘the wings,’ he announced, amid wild applause, his intention to set on foot a new catholic association. He speedily redeemed his promise, and early in July the new association started into existence. Disclaiming any intention to agitate for the redress of grievances, it professed to be simply a society to which Christians of all denominations paying an annual subscription of 1l. were admissible, ‘for the purposes of public and private charity, and such other purposes as are not prohibited by the said statute of the 6th Geo. IV, c. 4.’ As for the catholic rent—which was really the mainspring of the whole agitation, but which it was no longer possible to connect with the association—O'Connell declared his intention to take the management of it upon himself.
Meanwhile the opposition to the principle involved in ‘the wings’ gained ground rapidly, and O'Connell, while still retaining his opinion as to the advisability of raising the franchise, yielded to the general opinion, and declared himself in favour of their abandonment. His declaration afforded universal satisfaction, and greatly added to his popularity. In the autumn he was specially briefed to attend the courts at Antrim in the celebrated O'Hara case, Newry, Galway, and Wexford. Everywhere his appearance was the signal for great popular demonstrations. His uncle Maurice died at the beginning of the year, leaving him the bulk of his property, estimated at about 1,000l. a year; and in September 1825 he took possession of Darrynane. This addition to his income was welcome to him; for, habitually extravagant and careless in money matters, he was already embarrassed by debt.
By the close of the year the machinery of the new agitation was in full operation. Provincial meetings, at nearly all of which O'Connell was present, were held at Limerick, Cork, Carlow, Ballinasloe, and elsewhere. On 16 Jan. 1826 the first of the ‘fourteen days' meetings’ began in Dublin; and, in order to emphasise his adoption of the ‘anti-wings’ policy, O'Connell moved a resolution deprecating ‘the introduction into parliament of any measure tending to restrict the elective franchise, or interfering with the discipline or independence of the catholic church in Ireland.’ He was shortly to become convinced of the wisdom of his policy. In June 1826, during the general election, Villiers Stuart, afterwards Lord Stuart of the Decies, was returned for co. Waterford, in opposition to Lord George Beresford. Hitherto the county had been regarded as the property of the Beresfords; but under the influence of the new organisation, and with the assistance of O'Connell, it broke away from its allegiance. The defeat of Beresford was the work of the despised forty-shilling freeholders, and their example was followed elsewhere—in Monaghan, Louth, and Westmeath. O'Connell, who was astonished at the extraordinary independence which their conduct revealed, took immediate steps for their protection. Towards the end of August he founded his ‘order of Liberators’—whence his title of ‘the Liberator’—to which every man who had performed one real act of service to Ireland was entitled to belong. The object of the society was to conciliate Irishmen of all classes and creeds; to prevent feuds and riots at fairs; to discountenance secret societies; to protect all persons possessed of the franchise, especially the forty-shilling freeholders, from vindictive proceedings; and to promote the acquisition of that franchise and its due registry. In order to render the new organisation effective, local committees were formed and a new fund started, called the ‘New Catholic Rent,’ to be devoted to the defence of the forty-shilling freeholders by buying up outstanding judgments and procuring the foreclosure of mortgages against landlords who acted in an arbitrary fashion.
The accession of Canning to power in April 1827 seemed to offer a more impartial system of government than had hitherto prevailed; and O'Connell, to whom good government was of greater importance than any number of acts of parliament, consented to suspend his agitation in order not to embarrass government. But his hopes of administrative reform were doomed to disappointment. The ‘old warriors,’ Manners, Saurin, and Gregory, still retained their former position and influence in the government; and whatever prospect of gradual change there might have been was dashed by the premature death of Canning, and the accession of Wellington to power, in January 1828. Of necessity, the catholic agitation immediately recommenced; but O'Connell, who governed his policy by the necessities of the moment, was willing to give the new administration a fair trial—the more so as the views of the Marquis of Anglesey [see Paget, Henry William, first Marquis of Anglesey], who had accepted the post of lord-lieutenant, were suspected to have undergone an alteration in favour of the catholics. Affairs were thus in a state of suspense when the resignation of Huskisson and the appointment of Vesey Fitzgerald [see Fitzgerald, William Vesey, Lord Fitzgerald and Vesey] as president of the board of trade rendered a new election for co. Clare necessary. Fitzgerald was a popular candidate, and his return was regarded as inevitable. But at the eleventh hour it was suggested to O'Connell that he should personally contest the constituency, although it was generally assumed that he was legally debarred as a catholic from sitting in parliament. He himself believed that in the absence of any direct prohibition in the Act of Union no legal obstacle could prevent a duly elected catholic from taking his seat. After some hesitation he consented to stand, and on 24 June he published his address to the electors of Clare. The announcement of his resolve created an extraordinary sensation; and money for electoral purposes flowed in from all quarters. The election took place at the beginning of July. On the fifth day of the poll Fitzgerald withdrew, and O'Connell was returned by the sheriff as M.P. for Clare. In apprehension of a riot, the lord-lieutenant had massed a considerable military force in the neighbourhood of Ennis; but the election passed off without any disorder. The result was hailed with a great outburst of enthusiasm. The week after the election the rent rose to 2,704l. Liberal clubs sprang up in every locality; and it was evident that the country was undergoing a great political revolution. Anglesey was not blind to these signs of the times; and though, as he declared, he hated the idea of ‘truckling to the overbearing catholic demagogues,’ he insisted that the only way to pacify the country was to concede emancipation, and transfer the agitation to the House of Commons. Parliament rose on 28 July, and relieved government from the necessity of an immediate decision.
On his return to Dublin O'Connell, alluding to Peel's amendment of the criminal law, announced his intention of taking an early opportunity to bring the question of a general reform of the law before parliament, adding that in this respect he was but a humble disciple of the immortal Bentham. His remark drew from Bentham a cordial letter of recognition, which was the beginning of an interesting and intimate correspondence. Meanwhile Wellington and Peel were anxiously seeking a solution of the catholic question. Neither of them was satisfied with Anglesey's administration. Matters, however, took a more serious turn in August, in consequence of a speech by George Dawson, Peel's brother-in-law and M.P. for Derry, tending in the direction of a concession of the catholic claims. Coming from so staunch a supporter of protestant ascendency, and a man so intimately connected with government, his speech—which was generally but wrongly supposed to be ‘inspired’—created a sensation. The Orangemen were frantic at what they regarded as their betrayal by government; and Brunswick clubs started everywhere into existence. Early in October Wellington waited on the king, and found him anxious to encourage the formation of these clubs, and to take advantage of the feeling of hostility to the catholics they aroused to dissolve parliament. Neither Wellington nor Peel was prepared for so hazardous an experiment, though at one time both seriously thought of suppressing O'Connell's association. On 16 Nov. Wellington proposed to concede to the catholics the right to sit in parliament. But the king was strongly averse to the concession, and the matter was still under consideration when the Marquis of Anglesey indiscreetly tried to force the hands of his colleagues. His conduct gave great offence, and he was recalled in January 1829.
Before parliament reassembled on 5 Feb. it had been determined to suppress the association, to disfranchise the forty-shilling freeholders, to repeal the law against transubstantiation, and to admit the catholics to parliament. The intention of the ministry was kept a profound secret; and in Ireland, where the removal of Anglesey was interpreted as an unequivocal sign of their determination to stick to their guns, active preparations were made for a renewal of the struggle. At a meeting of the association on 5 Feb. O'Connell, previous to his departure to London, announced his intention of keeping the agitation alive until religious liberty was conceded. The moment the laws that oppressed the catholics were repealed the association would cease to exist. But the long-continued struggle for religious liberty had, he declared, generated an attention to national interests that would survive emancipation. When that day dawned catholics and protestants, forgetting their ancient feud, would unite to procure the repeal of that odious and abominable measure, the union.
O'Connell arrived in London on 10 Feb. He had been delayed by an accident to his carriage near Shrewsbury, and all along the road, particularly at Coventry, he had been greeted with cries of ‘No popery!’ and ‘Down with O'Connell!’ In consequence of the speech from the throne advising a revision of the laws ‘which impose civil disabilities on his majesty's catholic subjects,’ he wrote the same day advising the dissolution of the association, which accordingly met for the last time on 12 Feb. For some time, however, he made no attempt to take his seat, owing partly to the fact that a petition had been lodged against his return, which was not decided in his favour until 6 March; partly also from a desire not to obstruct the progress of the long-expected measure of relief, which had by that time entered on its first stage. Writing to Sugrue on 6 March, he pronounced Peel's bill for emancipation to be ‘good—very good; frank, direct, complete.’ The only really objectionable feature about it lay in the supplementary measure disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders, and to this he offered an immediate and strenuous resistance. But he failed to enlist the sympathy of the whigs, and on 13 April the bill received the royal assent. Meanwhile in Ireland the prospect of relief had been hailed with feelings of intense joy, and in gratitude to O'Connell a national testimonial was started, which reached very respectable dimensions. The original intention was to purchase him an estate; but when he announced his intention to abandon his profession in order to devote himself entirely to his parliamentary duties, the scheme developed into an annual tribute, which in some years rose to more than 16,000l. On 15 May he presented himself at the bar of the House of Commons, and, declining to take the oath of supremacy tendered him, he was ordered by the speaker to withdraw. On the motion of Brougham that he should be heard in explanation of his refusal, he three days later addressed the house from the bar. His speech made a great impression, not so much from the arguments he employed as by the readiness with which he adapted himself to the tone and temper of his audience. His claim to sit was, however, rejected by 190 to 116, and a new writ was ordered to issue for Clare. Though greatly disappointed, he was sanguine of re-election. Before leaving London he published an address to the electors of Clare, which from the frequency of the phrase ‘Send me to parliament, and I will,’ &c., was ironically styled the ‘address of the hundred promises.’
He returned to Ireland on 2 June, and on the following day he addressed a large and enthusiastic meeting in Clarendon Street Chapel. Five thousand pounds were immediately voted to defray his election expenses, and a week later he set out for Ennis. His journey through Naas, Kildare, Maryborough, Nenagh, and Limerick resembled a triumphal progress. Owing to the necessity of reconstructing a fresh registry on the new 10l. franchise, several weeks elapsed before the election took place, and in the meantime he was busily engaged in canvassing the constituency. On 30 July he was returned unopposed. Soon afterwards he applied for silk, and was refused.
If O'Connell had ever deluded himself with the expectation that emancipation would put an end to religious dissension in Ireland, he was speedily disabused of the idea. The act had hardly become law when the old feuds between the Orangemen and ribbonmen broke out afresh. ‘You are aware,’ O'Connell wrote to the Knight of Kerry in September, ‘that the decided countenance given to the Orange faction prevents emancipation from coming into play. There is more of unjust and unnatural virulence towards the catholics in the present administration than existed before the passing of the Emancipation Bill’ (Fitzpatrick, Corresp. i. 194). To sectarian jealousy was added a revival of agrarian outrage in Tipperary and the borders of Cork and Limerick. In co. Cork it was insisted that there was a regular conspiracy, known as the ‘Doneraile Conspiracy,’ on foot to murder the landlords of the district. A number of persons were indicted, and in October a special commission, presided over by Baron Pennefather, sat at Cork to try them. The trial had begun, and one unfortunate prisoner had already been found guilty and sentenced to death, when O'Connell, who had been summoned post-haste from Darrynane, entered the court. Under his cross-examination the principal witnesses for the crown broke down, and the remaining prisoners were discharged. O'Connell's victory over the solicitor-general, Dogherty, was one of his greatest forensic triumphs, and added greatly to his fame.
He was now at the height of his popularity. He had long been the dominant factor in Irish political life. In England his utterances attracted as much attention as those of the prime minister himself, while his agitation of the catholic question had made his name familiar in countries which usually paid no attention to English politics. But his enemies were not sparing in their denunciations of him. Writing at this period with special reference to the ‘Times,’ to whom his epithet ‘the venal lady of the Strand’ had given mortal offence, and which subsequently published three hundred leading articles against him, he said: ‘I do not remember any period of my life in which so much and such varied pains were taken to calumniate me; and I really think there never was any period of that life in which the pretext for abusing me was so trivial.’
His activity, however, was ceaseless. The new year (1830) opened with a series of public letters, in which he gave expression to his views on such current political topics as the repeal of the union, parliamentary reform, the abolition of slavery, the amendment of the law of libel, and the repeal of the sub-letting act, most of which have since received the sanction of the legislature. Shortly before leaving Dublin for London he established a ‘parliamentary intelligence office’ at 26 Stephen Street, which served the additional purpose of a centre of agitation. He took his seat on the first day of the session without remark (4 Feb.), and on the same day spoke in support of an amendment to the address. ‘I am,’ he wrote to Sugrue on 9 Feb., ‘fast learning the tone and temper of the House, and in a week or so you will find me a constant speaker. I will soon be struggling to bring forward Irish business’ (ib. i. 198). He kept his promise in both respects; and though his speeches were, with the exception of one on the state of Ireland on 23 March and another on the Doneraile conspiracy on 12 May, of no great length, they were numerous and varied. He spoke without premeditation, naturally, and without any affectation of oratorical display. He never entirely overcame the prejudices of his audience, but the tendency to snub him gave way gradually under the impression of the sterling good sense of his arguments, and he soon established a reputation as one of the most useful members of the house. His exertions were not confined to the House of Commons, and Hunt and the radical reformers found in him an ardent and valuable ally. He returned to Ireland for the Easter recess, and on 6 April he established a ‘Society of the Friends of Ireland,’ the object of which was to obliterate ancient animosities and prepare the way for the repeal of the union. After a short-lived existence the society was suppressed by proclamation. Owing to an attempt to increase the revenue by assimilating the stamp duties of Ireland to those of England, which was resented as unfair to the poorer country, O'Connell in June sanctioned a proposal for a run on the Bank of Ireland for gold. His action was brought under the notice of parliament. In replying, he disclaimed any intention of defending his conduct to the house. ‘I have,’ he said, ‘given my advice to my countrymen, and whenever I feel it necessary I shall continue to do so, careless whether it pleases or displeases this house or any mad person out of it’ (24 June). The stamp duties were abandoned, and with them the retaliatory proposal.
George IV died on 26 June 1830, and on 24 July parliament was dissolved. At the general election O'Connell was returned for Waterford. He subsequently retired to Darrynane, whence he issued in rapid succession letter after letter to the people of Ireland on parliamentary reform, the French revolution, the political crisis in Belgium, and the repeal of the union. Returning in October to Dublin by way of Cork, Kanturk, Youghal, and Waterford, where he was received with customary enthusiasm, he started an ‘Anti-Union Association, or Society for Legislative Relief.’ The society was at once proclaimed by the chief secretary, Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) Hardinge, whom O'Connell forthwith assailed in language so insulting as to provoke a challenge. O'Connell explained that his words were addressed to Hardinge in his official capacity, and declined to give further satisfaction. He was subsequently taunted in parliament for his cowardice, but he refused to vindicate himself, and his conduct did much to discourage the practice of duelling among public men. Two days after the suppression of the ‘Anti-Union Association’ he founded a society called the ‘Irish Volunteers for the Repeal of the Union.’ When this in turn was suppressed he started a series of ‘public breakfasts,’ at which he and his friends drank coffee and talked politics once a week, and which served as a rallying centre for the advocates of repeal during his attendance on parliament. In November the whigs came into office under Earl Grey. On 18 Dec. O'Connell returned to Ireland, and received an ovation, which contrasted strangely with the chilling reception awarded to the once popular lord-lieutenant, the Marquis of Anglesey.
Like most politicians, Anglesey had deluded himself with the idea that the concession of emancipation would put an end to agitation in Ireland. After making a futile effort to induce O'Connell to support his administration, offering, it is said, to make him a judge, or ‘anything, in fact, if he would give up agitation,’ he determined to try conclusions with the arch-agitator himself. His first step was to suppress the ‘public breakfasts.’ O'Connell thereupon established ‘a general association for Ireland to prevent illegal meetings and protect the sacred right of petitioning.’ When this likewise was proclaimed, he constituted himself an association, and invited his friends to meet him at dinner at Hayes's tavern. The farce came to an end at last. On 19 Jan. 1831 he was arrested on a police warrant, charging him with conspiring to violate and evade the proclamations, and was compelled to enter into recognisances to appear when called upon for trial. When the news of his arrest became known, Dublin was thrown into a state of wild excitement. ‘I never,’ wrote an onlooker, ‘witnessed anything so turbulent and angry as the populace was in Dublin this day, not even in the height of '98’ (ib. i. 245). O'Connell, however, acted with admirable discretion, and averted what might have proved a serious riot. The indictment against him contained thirty-one counts. To the first fourteen, charging him with violating the provisions of the Act 10 Geo. IV—‘the worse than Algerine Act’—he at first demurred; to the remaining seventeen, charging him with fraud and duplicity against the government, he pleaded not guilty. Subsequently he was allowed to withdraw his demurrers and substitute pleas of not guilty to all the counts, on condition that in case of conviction no arrest of judgment should be moved. So far as the Irish government was concerned, there was no intention to compromise the prosecution; but the influence of the English reformers, who were anxious to secure his support at the general election, prevailed, and the prosecution was quietly dropped.
To O'Connell parliamentary reform was the first and necessary step to repeal. ‘Let no one,’ he wrote at this time in a letter to the people of Ireland, ‘deceive you and say that I am abandoning my principles of anti-unionism. It is false. I am decidedly of opinion that the repeal of the union is the only means by which Irish prosperity and Irish freedom can be secured. … But it is only in a reformed parliament that the question can be properly, coolly, and dispassionately discussed.’ At the same time he never neglected an opportunity of remedying those practical abuses connected with the government of Ireland of which he had long complained. When the administration of the Marquis of Anglesey had become peculiarly objectionable to him, he accepted the assurances of Lords Ebrington and Duncannon of a change of system, and agreed for a time to suspend his agitation of repeal. He was granted a patent of precedence at the bar, and, had he cared to compromise his independence, he might have become attorney-general for Ireland.
The promise of a change of system proved delusive, and Anglesey remained at his post. The state of the country was at this time deplorable. The signs of poverty were everywhere visible. In Cork, in three parishes alone, there were twenty-seven thousand paupers. To add to the general misery, Ireland was for the first time visited in the spring by the cholera. Under the circumstances it was not surprising that resistance to tithes, often attended with bloodshed, spread with alarming rapidity. At the Cork spring assizes O'Connell was specially retained in an important case of Kearney v. Sarsfield, and during his absence a bill was introduced by Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby, to enforce the recovery of tithe arrears. The measure, as O'Connell predicted, proved worse than useless, and towards the end of the session the composition of tithes was made universal and compulsory. When in London in May, he spoke at considerable length on the Reform Bill; and in committee he was indefatigable, though he was unsuccessful in his efforts to obtain the restoration of the elective franchise to the forty-shilling freeholders.
Returning in August to Darrynane, he renewed his agitation by means of public letters addressed for the most part to the National Political Union, a society he had recently established in opposition to the Trades Political Union, of which Marcus Costello was the president. He had now, he declared, three objects in view—to relieve Ireland of the Anglesey government, to obtain the extinction of tithes, and to obtain the tranquil and peaceable repeal of the union. In regard to tithes and vestry rates, he expressed his intention never again voluntarily to pay either. On 3 Dec. the old unreformed parliament was dissolved, and at the elections a repeal pledge was, by his advice, exacted from all the popular candidates in Ireland, of whom it is said that not less than half were nominated by him. His own unsolicited return for Dublin city he regarded as ‘perhaps the greatest triumph my countrymen have ever given me.’ Meanwhile famine and pestilence, attended by agrarian outrage, stalked the land. So alarming, indeed, was the general outlook that on 14 Jan. 1833 O'Connell addressed a strongly worded letter to Lord Duncannon, advising special means to be taken for the preservation of the public peace, and, above all, the removal of Anglesey and Stanley, to whose misgovernment he mainly attributed the distress. The speech from the throne alluded to the social condition of Ireland and foreshadowed a strong measure of coercion. O'Connell stigmatised the speech as ‘bloody and brutal;’ but even he never anticipated so drastic a measure as that which Earl Grey forthwith introduced into the House of Lords. He at once offered it the most strenuous resistance in his power. There was, he declared, no necessity for so despotic a policy. O'Connell actually offered to submit to banishment for a year and a half if it was withdrawn. In his extremity he reverted to his favourite notion—‘the O'Connell cholera,’ as Conway of the ‘Evening Post’ called it—of advising a run on the banks, but was fortunately dissuaded by his friends from so disastrous a step. All resistance proved unavailing, and the bill passed both houses by large majorities.
Meanwhile his reticence in regard to repeal was severely commented upon in Dublin. St. Audoen's parish, as usual, led the agitation, and was powerfully supported by the ‘Freeman's Journal’ and Feargus O'Connor [q. v.] Though firmly convinced of the uselessness and even impolicy of a premature discussion, he consented to bring the subject before parliament in the following session. He had long complained of the conduct of the London press, particularly the ‘Times’ and ‘Morning Chronicle,’ in wilfully misreporting and suppressing his speeches in parliament. His public denunciation of the newspapers elicited a strong protest from the staff of the ‘Times,’ and a determination no longer to report him; but by freely exercising his right to clear the house of strangers he reduced them to submission. In July 1833 his uncle, Count Daniel O'Connell [q. v.], died, leaving him considerable personal property. On his return to Ireland he endeavoured, but without success, to enlist the sympathy and support of the protestants of Ulster in favour of the establishment of a domestic legislature.
When parliament reassembled in 1834, the king's speech condemned ‘the continuance of attempts to excite the people of Ireland to demand a repeal of the legislative union.’ O'Connell moved the omission of the obnoxious paragraph, but he was defeated by 189 to 23. Disheartened at the result, he would gladly have postponed the question of repeal to a more propitious season. But he had promised to agitate the subject, and on 22 April 1834 he moved for the appointment of a select committee ‘to inquire into and report on the means by which the dissolution of the parliament of Ireland was effected; on the effects of that measure upon Ireland, and on the probable consequences of continuing the legislative union between both countries.’ He spoke for more than five hours, but he was encumbered with material, and his excursion into history was neither interesting nor correct. He was ably answered by Spring Rice. The debate continued for nine days, and when the decision of the house was taken O'Connell was defeated by 523 to 38, only one English member voting in the minority. Still, he regarded the debate as on the whole satisfactory. ‘I repeat,’ he wrote to Fitzpatrick, ‘that we repealers have made great moral way in the opinion of the house.’ Certainly the debate seems to have created a more conciliatory disposition towards Ireland. Littleton on behalf of the Irish government went so far as to promise O'Connell that when the Coercion Act came up for renewal the political clauses in it should be abandoned, if he in turn would promise a cessation of agitation. O'Connell readily consented. Unfortunately Earl Grey, who had not been consulted in the matter, insisted on the re-enactment of the measure in its entirety, and his colleagues eventually yielded to his wish. Believing himself to have been purposely misled, O'Connell made the whole transaction public. Dissensions in the cabinet were the outcome of this incident. Grey resigned office, and the ministry of Lord Melbourne came into power (17 July 1834).
The change of administration and the ultimate omission of the obnoxious clauses from the Coercion Act inspired O'Connell with the hope that something at last would be done to place the government of Ireland on a more impartial basis. On his return to Ireland he announced himself a ministerialist and a repealer. But something more than good intentions was necessary to cleanse the Augean stable of Castle corruption. ‘You are now,’ O'Connell wrote to Lord Duncannon on 11 Oct. 1834, ‘three months in office, and you have done nothing for Ireland; you have not in any, even in the slightest, degree altered the old system. The people are as ground down by Orange functionaries as ever they were in the most palmy days of toryism.’ Still, in any case, the whigs were infinitely to be preferred to the tories, and though he affected unconcern at the announcement of the dismissal of Melbourne (15 Nov. 1834) and the formation of an administration under Peel in December, he endeavoured by the establishment of an ‘antitory association’ to promote the success of the whigs at the general elections. Of this association, which met almost every other day, O'Connell was, of course, the moving spirit.
In the new parliament whigs and tories were almost equal; the balance of power lay in O'Connell's hands. It was this state of affairs that in March 1835 led to the famous ‘Lichfield House compact,’ which, whether compact or simple understanding between the whigs and O'Connell, was productive of the greatest blessing for Ireland—the impartial government of Thomas Drummond [q. v.] From the first O'Connell, though always hankering after office, refrained from embarrassing the ministry in its relations to the king by urging any recognition of his services. But his friendly relations with the ministry excited in many quarters suspicions which O'Connell hotly resented. When Lord Alvanley asked Lord Melbourne what was the price paid for O'Connell's support, O'Connell at a public meeting referred to Alvanley as a ‘bloated buffoon.’ O'Connell's son, Morgan, took up the cudgels in his father's defence, and shots were exchanged on Wimbledon Common. Later in the year O'Connell fell foul of Benjamin Disraeli, who had some time previously solicited his assistance as radical candidate for Wickham, but who afterwards, as conservative candidate for Taunton, spoke of him as an ‘incendiary.’ O'Connell retorted by calling Disraeli ‘a disgrace to his species,’ and ‘heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the cross.’ Failing to obtain satisfaction from O'Connell, Disraeli sent a challenge to Morgan, which the latter repudiated. Meanwhile, owing to the valuable assistance which he in this session rendered to the English Municipal Corporations Bill, O'Connell became very popular with a large section of the English public. Taking advantage of his popularity, he in the autumn visited Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, in order to stimulate agitation against the House of Lords owing to their refusal to concede a similar reform of municipal corporations to Ireland, and their rejection of the principle of appropriation contained in the church bill.
After his return to Ireland he became involved in a more disagreeable controversy with a Mr. Raphael, who, on his recommendation, had been elected M.P. for Carlow, but was subsequently unseated on petition. Raphael had consented to pay O'Connell 1,000l. on nomination, and another 1,000l. on being returned. This he did, but he subsequently charged O'Connell not merely with a breach of promise in exacting the payment of the second 1,000l., but with misappropriating a portion of the money for his own benefit. O'Connell indignantly denied the charge; but the papers learned of the affair, and censured him for having corruptly sold a seat in parliament. Eventually the matter was brought before parliament. A special committee was appointed to investigate the charge, which, however, fully exonerated him from anything like corruption. Speaking in his defence, O'Connell admitted that his influence in Ireland was too great for any man to possess, but urged that it was the natural result of the misgovernment of his country. The Raphael calumny was only one of several charges of corruption with which he was assailed at the time.
In January 1836 he addressed large audiences at Liverpool and Birmingham, and on 8 March he delivered a powerful speech in support of the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Bill, though it may be noted in passing that he was not at first hostile to Peel's plan for their extinction. The bill was fiercely opposed by the lords; and in May, during the height of the controversy, he was unseated on petition for Dublin, but immediately returned for Kilkenny. The defence of his seat cost him at least 8,000l., and was calculated to have cost the petitioners four times that amount. During the recess he founded a ‘General Association of Ireland’ for the purpose of obtaining corporate reform and a satisfactory adjustment of tithes. The association was supported by an ‘Irish rent,’ which in November reached 690l. a week.
Parliament reassembled on 31 Jan. 1837. The speech from the throne recommended municipal reform, church reform, and poor laws for Ireland. Believing that the poverty of Ireland was mainly due to political causes, O'Connell dissented from the general opinion of his countrymen as to the utility of poor laws. But he had not, he admitted, sufficient moral courage to resist the demand for them altogether, and reluctantly consented to a trial of them being made.
The subject was still under consideration when the death of William IV caused parliament to be dissolved. O'Connell was full of enthusiasm for the young queen, and played a conspicuous part at her proclamation, acting as a sort of fugleman to the multitude, and regulating their acclamations. In supporting Poulett Thomson's Factories Bill he had expressed his strong dislike of any attempt on the part of the state to interfere between employer and employed. For the same reason he was strongly opposed to trades-unionism, and his denunciation of the tyranny of the trades unions of Dublin now almost destroyed his popularity in that city. For days he was hooted and mobbed in the streets, and his meetings broken up by indignant trades-unionists. In the new parliament government had, with his support, a bare majority of twenty-five. Immediately after its opening, O'Connell came into collision with the house. He had long inveighed against the partisan decisions of committees of the House of Commons. The fact was admitted; but a somewhat unguarded statement of his, attributing gross perjury to the tory committees, brought upon him the public reprimand of the speaker. Thereupon he repeated the charge, and was astonished to find that the house did not commit him.
The government proved powerless to carry its measures of remedial legislation in face of the determined opposition of the tories and the House of Lords. Consequently O'Connell in the autumn of 1838 started for Irish objects a ‘Precursor Society.’ The objects of the society were complete corporate reform in Ireland, extension of the Irish suffrage, total extinction of compulsory church support, and adequate representation of the country in parliament. In explanation of the name he said, ‘The Precursors may precede justice to Ireland from the united parliament and the consequent dispensing with Repeal agitation, and will, shall, and must precede Repeal agitation if justice be refused.’ The movement was not very successful, and, in anticipation of the speedy dissolution of the Melbourne administration, he on 15 April 1840 founded the Repeal Association. The association was modelled on the lines of the old Catholic Association, and was composed of associates paying one shilling a year, and members paying 1l.
At first the new organisation attracted little attention. But it soon appeared that O'Connell was this time in earnest. ‘My struggle has begun,’ he wrote on 25 May 1840, ‘and I will terminate it only in death or Repeal.’ The circle of agitation gradually widened. In October he addressed a large meeting on the subject at Cork. He was enthusiastically received, and on entering the city the people, in their desire to do him honour, attempted to take the horses from his carriage. ‘No! No! No!’ he exclaimed, ‘I never will let men do the business of horses if I can help it. Don't touch that harness, you vagabonds! I am trying to elevate your position, and I will not permit you to degrade yourselves.’ Other meetings followed at Limerick, at Ennis, and at Kilkenny. ‘The Repeal cause,’ he wrote on 18 Nov., ‘is progressing. Quiet and timid men are joining us daily. We had before the bone and sinew.’ In January 1841 he accepted an invitation to speak at Belfast, and, notwithstanding threats of personal violence, he kept his appointment. From Belfast he went to Leeds, and from Leeds to Leicester. He was heartily welcomed at both places. Meanwhile, in consequence of the defeat of their budget proposals, and of a direct vote of want of confidence, ministers dissolved parliament in June. Despite the exertions of O'Connell, the repealers sustained a severe reverse at the general elections. O'Connell himself lost his seat for Dublin, and had to seek refuge at Cork. On the address to the speech from the throne he spoke in support of the total abolition of the corn laws. Parliament rose in October.
On 1 Nov. O'Connell was elected lordmayor of Dublin under the new act, being the first catholic that had occupied the position since the reign of James II. Being asked how he would act in his capacity of lord-mayor upon the repeal question, he replied, ‘I pledge myself that in my capacity of lord-mayor no one shall be able to discover from my conduct what are my politics, or of what shade are the religious tenets I hold.’ He kept his promise faithfully, and was the means of negotiating an arrangement by which catholics and protestants were to hold the chair alternately. In his desire to act impartially he refrained almost entirely from agitating the question of repeal during his year of office. He was, however, assiduous in attending to his parliamentary duties, and on 13 April he spoke at length in opposition to the imposition of an income tax, urging that it was essentially a war tax, and advising the substitution of legacy duties on landed property.
Meanwhile the cause of repeal received considerable accession of strength by the establishment in October 1842 of the ‘Nation’ newspaper. At the beginning of the new year (1843) O'Connell, now no longer lord-mayor, determined to devote himself entirely to the agitation of repeal. During the debate on the Municipal Bill he had declared that the corporate bodies would become ‘normal schools of agitation.’ As if to make his statement good, he in February inaugurated a repeal debate in the Dublin Corporation. He was answered by Isaac Butt [q. v.] The debate lasted three days, and O'Connell carried his motion by forty-one to fifteen. The effect was enormous. The agitation, which hitherto had hung fire, woke into full activity. The rent, which in February only amounted to about 300l., rose in May to over 2,000l. a week, and by the end of the year reached a grand total of 48,000l. The old rooms in the Corn Exchange were soon found too small for the transaction of the business of the association, and a new hall, called Conciliation Hall, was built and opened in October. On 16 March 1843 the first of the famous monster meetings was held at Trim. From the meeting at Trim to the ever memorable one on the Hill of Tara on 15 Aug., when it was estimated that close on a million persons were present, thirty-one monster meetings were held in different parts of the country. In May government became alarmed at the progress of the agitation, and removed O'Connell and other repealers from the magistracy. The conduct of the administration was approved by parliament, and in August powers were granted for the suppression of the agitation. The series of meetings was to have terminated with one at Clontarf on Sunday, 8 Oct. 1843, which was to have exceeded all the rest in magnitude. Late in the afternoon of the preceding day the meeting was proclaimed, and all the approaches to Clontarf occupied by the military. The people were already assembling, and the action of the government in postponing the proclamation to the eleventh hour might have proved disastrous had it not been for O'Connell's promptitude in countermanding the meeting. No event in his life reflects greater credit on him than his action at this critical moment.
A week later warrants were issued for his arrest and that of his chief colleagues on a charge of creating discontent and disaffection among the liege subjects of the queen, and with contriving, ‘by means of intimidation and the demonstration of great physical force, to procure and effect changes to be made in the government, laws, and constitution of this realm.’ Bail was accepted, and O'Connell immediately issued a manifesto calling on the people not ‘to be tempted to break the peace, but to act peaceably, quietly, and legally.’ The indictment, consisting of eleven counts and forty-three overt acts, and based chiefly on utterances at public meetings, varied against each traverser. On 8 Nov. 1843 true bills were found by the grand jury, but the trial did not begin till 15 Jan. 1844. On that day business was suspended in Dublin. Accompanied by the lord-mayor and city marshal, O'Connell proceeded through streets thronged with onlookers and sympathisers to the Four Courts. There was a formidable array of counsel on both sides, but from the first he insisted on being his own advocate. The judges were Chief-justice Pennefather and the judges Burton, Crampton, and Perrin. There was not a single Roman catholic on the jury. After a trial which lasted twenty-five days, O'Connell and his fellow-conspirators were pronounced guilty in February, but sentence was deferred. O'Connell proceeded at once to London. On his way he was hospitably entertained at Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, and Birmingham, and a great banquet was given in his honour at Covent Garden Theatre. ‘I am glad,’ he wrote to Fitzpatrick, ‘I came over, not so much on account of the parliament as of the English people. I have certainly met with a kindness and a sympathy which I did not expect, but which I will cheerfully cultivate’ (Fitzpatrick, Corresp. ii. 318). On entering the House of Commons he was received with enthusiastic cheers. He spoke on 23 Feb. on the state of Ireland, and on 11 March moved for leave to bring in a bill relating to Roman catholic charities. Judgment was delivered on 30 May. He was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months, a fine of 2,000l., and to find surety to keep the peace for seven years. The same afternoon he was removed to Richmond Bridewell. He was treated with every consideration by the prison authorities, and allowed to receive his friends. Meanwhile an appeal was made on a writ of error to the House of Lords. On 4 Sept. 1844 the lords reversed the judgment delivered in Ireland, and O'Connell and his fellow-prisoners were instantly liberated. O'Connell, who had not expected such generous treatment from his political enemies, was much touched when the news was communicated to him. ‘Fitzpatrick,’ he reverently exclaimed, ‘the hand of man is not in this. It is the response given by Providence to the prayers of the faithful, steadfast people of Ireland.’ Seated on a car of imposing structure, he was borne through Dublin, amid the plaudits of the populace, to his house in Merrion Square.
But the hand of death was even now upon him. ‘A great change,’ says the editor of his correspondence, ‘was observed in O'Connell not long after he left prison. The handwriting is tremulous; a difficulty is often expressed in connecting the letters of simple words. Petty vexations worried him, and the death of a grandchild all but crushed him.’ His wife had died on 31 Oct. 1836, and pecuniary embarrassment had long, he wrote, been literally killing him (ib. ii. 331). During his imprisonment a movement had originated in the north of Ireland in favour of federalism as opposed to simple repeal. The movement attracted a number of wealthy and influential persons in the kingdom, and O'Connell, who eagerly welcomed the prospect of uniting Irishmen of all classes and creeds in a demand for a domestic legislature, however restricted its powers, wrote strongly in its favour. His letter was regarded as precipitate by the extreme section of the repealers, who interpreted it as a practical abandonment of repeal. In consequence of their opposition he withdrew his offer of co-operation with the federalists, and again declared in favour of repeal pure and simple. Meanwhile Peel was endeavouring to grapple with the Irish difficulty in a bold and statesmanlike fashion. At the beginning of the session he submitted to parliament proposals to increase and make permanent the grant to Maynooth College, and to found a system of middle-class education by the establishment of secular colleges at Cork, Belfast, and Galway. O'Connell strongly favoured the programme of government so far as it related to Maynooth; but believing, as he said, that ‘religion ought to be the basis of education,’ he went over to England expressly to oppose the establishment of the provincial colleges. His conduct in this respect brought him into collision with Thomas Osborne Davis [q. v.] and the extreme wing of the association. At this time the report of the Devon commission was attracting much attention in England and Ireland. O'Connell, who had no confidence in the suggestions of the commissioners for alleviating the perennial distress of the peasantry by wholesale clearances, insisted that nothing would give satisfaction but ‘fixity of tenure’ and ‘an absolute right of recompense for all substantial improvements.’ His criticism of the commission drew down upon him the vengeance of the ‘Times,’ and a special commissioner was sent over by the newspaper in the autumn of 1845 to investigate the condition of the people of Ireland. The commissioner did not spare O'Connell in his private position as a landlord. Cahirciveen was described as a ‘congregation of wretchedness,’ and his property generally as being in a most deplorable condition (Times, 21 Nov.). O'Connell had little difficulty in meeting the accusation; but the charge irritated him, and, added to his other troubles, told seriously on his health.
Owing to the failure this year of the potato crop, the shadow of the great famine loomed ominously over the land. On 17 Feb. 1846 O'Connell called the attention of the House of Commons to the prevalence of famine and disease in Ireland, and moved for a committee to devise means to relieve the distress. Government promised relief, but at the same time introduced a coercion bill for the repression of disorder in certain counties. O'Connell, while not denying the existence of outrages on life and property, attributed them to the clearance system, and insisted that the only coercion act that was required was an act to coerce the landlord who would not do his duty. The bill was rejected, owing to the opposition of Disraeli, and in July Lord John Russell came into power. Lord Duncannon, now Earl of Bessborough, was appointed lord-lieutenant, and O'Connell, believing that justice would at last be done to Ireland, entered into a cordial alliance with the whigs. His conduct was censured by the Young Ireland party, who shortly afterwards seceded from the association. Worn out with the struggle, he retired to Darrynane. But the recurrence of the potato famine, with all its attendant horrors, recalled him to activity, and led to the suggestion of the formation of a central board of Irish landlords, ‘in which religious differences would never be heard of,’ to consider the situation. On 16 Nov. he addressed a large meeting in Conciliation Hall. But the sun of his authority was already setting. An attempt at reconciliation with the Young Ireland party ended in failure, and he sadly saw the country drifting into rebellion. He appeared in the House of Commons for the last time on 8 Feb. 1847; but his voice, once so resonant, had sunk almost to a whisper. He appealed to the house to save his country: ‘She is in your hands—in your power. If you do not save her, she cannot save herself.’ His physicians recommended change of air, and held out hopes of speedy recovery. But he felt he was dying. ‘They deceive themselves,’ he wrote to Fitzpatrick on 1 March, ‘and deceive you who tell you I am recovering.’ Accompanied by his son Daniel, Dr. Miley, and his faithful valet Duggan, he left Folkestone on 22 March for Rome. Travelling by easy stages through France, where the profoundest reverence was paid him, he reached Genoa on 6 May. After lingering a few days, he died of congestion of the brain on Saturday, 15th. In compliance with his wish his heart was embalmed and taken to Rome, where it was laid, with imposing solemnities, in the church of St. Agatha. His body was brought back to Ireland, where it was received on 5 Aug. 1847 with almost royal honours, and interred in Glasnevin cemetery. In 1869 a round-tower, 165 feet high, was erected to his memory, and his body was removed to a crypt at its base.
O'Connell had four sons and three daughters. Morgan [q. v.] the second and John [q. v.] the third son are separately noticed. The eldest son, Maurice, M.P. for Tralee (1833–1853), died on 18 June 1853; the youngest, Daniel, M.P. for Tralee (1853–1863), reached a great age. Of the daughters, Ellen (d. 1883) married Christopher Fitz-Simon of Grantcullen, M.P. for co. Dublin; Catherine was wife of Charles O'Connell, M.P. for co. Kerry; and Elizabeth was wife of Nicholas Joseph Ffrench.
Notwithstanding his dislike to sit for his portrait, there are several portraits of O'Connell in existence—by Sir David Wilkie at the National Bank, Dublin; by Haverty in the London Reform Club, of which O'Connell was an original member, and in the city hall, Limerick; by Catterson Smith in the city hall, Dublin; and by Mulvany in the National Gallery of Ireland. Portraits by Carrick and Maclise are familiar from frequent reproduction. He sat to Duval and also to Haydon. But he was best known to his contemporaries by the political sketches of H. B. (John Doyle). There are statues of him by Hogan in the Dublin Royal Exchange and at Limerick; by Foley in Dublin, and by Cahill in Ennis. The personal appearance of O'Connell was remarkably prepossessing. Slightly under six feet, he was broad in proportion. His complexion was good, and his features, with the exception of his nose, which was short, were regular; but it was his mouth, which was finely chiselled, that gave to his face its chief charm. Always addicted to outdoor sports, he was passionately fond of hunting on foot. Habitually careless in the matter of dress, he was accustomed from the commencement of his political career to wear nothing but of Irish manufacture. Almost childishly fond of display, he was prodigal in the exercise of his hospitality; and, though his income was what most men would call large, he was constantly harassed by debt. At his death his personal property amounted to barely 1,000l. He was an indefatigable worker, rising generally before seven, and seldom seeking rest before the small hours of the morning. He denied that he was originally intended for the church, but, owing to his education, there was undoubtedly not a little of the cleric in his composition. He was fond of theology, and more than once posed as the public champion of his faith. But religion was to him always more than theology, and he carried with him in all his relations of life a consciousness of the divine presence. A sincere Roman catholic from choice and conviction, he was tolerant of every form of religious belief. In general literature he was not particularly well read. His knowledge of history, even of his own country, was extremely defective. Of a naturally gay and boisterous disposition, he possessed an inexhaustible fund of good humour and mother-wit. He spoke his mind freely on all subjects, and loved and hated with equal cordiality. His intemperate use of strong and often coarse epithets he defended on the ground that it was right to speak in the strongest terms consistent with truth of one's friends and one's enemies. But outside politics he was remarkably lenient in his judgments; and, though intolerant of opposition, he was absolutely free from jealousy, and quickly recognised merit wherever he saw it. In his married life he was very happy, and his letters to his wife reveal a tenderness and love that are at times extremely touching.
O'Connell was an able and conscientious lawyer. His knowledge of the Irish language and Irish nature gave him a unique position in criminal causes, and in cross-examination he was without a rival. But the intricacies and delays of the law were abhorrent to him, and he warmly supported Jeremy Bentham's scheme of codification. At Darrynane he administered justice in rough and ready fashion. Denied the privileges and responsibilities of constructive statesmanship, he nevertheless possessed all the elements that go to make a statesman, and his appreciation of the relative importance of the means to the end rendered him impatient alike of coercion and of the doctrinaire schemes of the Young Ireland party. The bent of his mind was essentially practical. As an orator he held a high, though not the highest, place in parliament. Gifted by nature with a fine ear and a sweet sonorous voice, he spoke easily, unaffectedly, and fluently. He was a ready debater, and was at his best when least prepared. But, unless strongly moved by indignation, he seldom indulged in flights of rhetoric such as his friend Sheil delighted in. Outside parliament, when addressing an open-air meeting of his own countrymen, he reigned supreme, and by the simple magic of his eloquence played at will upon the passions of his audience, stirring them as he pleased to indignation or to pity, to laughter or to tears. He was capable of much exaggeration, and loved to produce the effects ‘which the statement of a startling fact in an unqualified form often causes’ (Lecky). In his hands the system of agitation by mass meetings reached a perfection it never attained before or since. Knowing the value of order and sobriety, he gave every support to the temperance movement of Father Mathew, and he boasted, not without reason, that not a single act of disorder marred the splendour of the magnificent demonstration at Tara.
His position in history is unique. Few men have possessed his personal influence, and still fewer have used commanding influence with equal moderation. The statute-book contains little evidence of his power, but he re-created national feeling in Ireland; and as long as his physical vigour was maintained, kept alive among his countrymen faith in the efficacy of constitutional agitation.
[There is no adequate life of O'Connell. Useful biographies have been published by W. Fagan in 1847, by M. F. Cusack in 1872, by J. O'Rourke and O'Keeffe in 1875, and by J. A. Hamilton in 1888. In addition to the Irish and English newspapers, the principal accessible sources of information are John O'Connell's Life and Speeches of his father, 1846; and his Recollections and Experiences during a Parliamentary Career from 1833 to 1848; Irish Monthly Mag., vols. x.–xv.; Fitzpatrick's Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell; O'Neill Daunt's Personal Recollections; and the Parliamentary Debates. To these may be added for special information Wyse's Sketch of the Catholic Association; Diary and Correspondence of Lord Colchester; Howell's State Trials, vol. xxxi.; Hamilton's State of the Catholic Cause from the issuing of Mr. Pole's Circular Letter, Dublin, 1812; Memoirs of Sir R. Peel; Parker's Sir Robert Peel, from his private correspondence; Letters and Despatches of the Duke of Wellington; Bowring's Life and Works of Jeremy Bentham; Torrens's Memoirs of Viscount Melbourne; Fitzpatrick's Life of Lord Cloncurry, and Life and Times of Dr. Doyle; Special Report of the Proceedings in the case of the Queen v. Daniel O'Connell; Duffy's Life of Thomas Davis, and Four Years of Irish History. Mr. W. E. H. Lecky has given a fairly impartial estimate of his position in history in his Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland, and interesting articles of more or less value will be found in the Dublin Review for 1844, Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, 1846, Macmillan's Magazine, 1873, Catholic World, 1875, Nineteenth Century, January, 1889, by Mr. Gladstone.]