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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
JULY 1, 1831.
THE IRISH ELECTIONS.
In reviewing the most remarkable of the Irish elections, and giving some account of their parliamentary products, I shall begin with Dublin. There the Corporation has sustained, not only a signal, but extraordinary defeat. Mr. George Moore, the hereditary champion of ascendancy, and Mr. Frederic Shaw, the Recorder, have been overthrown by the combined forces of the Government and the people, and the genius of Orangeism has been vanquished in its loftiest and strongest hold. It was imagined that the position in which they stood was impregnable; but Reform has scaled the fortress, and planted the green flag on the proudest tower on which the standard of the Williamites ever waved! Of George Moore a brief account ought to be given. He derives his main title to the predilections of his party from the recollections of George Ogle. The latter was his uncle by marriage, and left him his principles and his estate. He was a man once well known in the circles of fashion and politics in Dublin, and having a turn for literature as well as for faction, alternately presided over the orgies of ascendancy and "consorted with the small poets of the time." Of his compositions, two or three songs remain. The memory of his political intemperance is not yet passed away. He was wont to say that a Catholic would swallow an oath as soon as a poached egg. Mr. Bernard Coyne, once known in the annals of Popery, called him out for reflection on the veracity of the nation. They discharged their pistols ten or twelve times. The arms had not been loaded, and the people, aware of the fact (of which the combatants were ignorant), gathered to witness the scene in a wide circle of derision. This is all I remember of George Ogle. Mr. Moore, his successor, was a man distinguished at the Irish Bar for the urbanity of his manners, set off by a sweet smile-a look of ruddy juvenility at forty-eight-a formidable flow of tautology, and a great charm and gentleness of demeanour, which rendered him an agreeable companion, and endeared him to all those who mixed with him in the intercourse of private life. He was known to be a strong politician, but his aspect, his intonations, and his address, made those who differed from him pay little regard to any acerbity in his opinions. He took little active part in politics. William Saurin, the ex-Attorney-General, perceived
July, 1831.-VOL. XXXII. NO. CXXVII.
that the recollections which were associated with him might be turned to a good account, and brought him into public life. Being in want of a candidate, he selected Mr. Moore, and threw him into the deepest vortex of Corporation animosities. Mr. Moore was received with acclamation by the "good Protestants" of Dublin, and returned by a vast majority. He was thenceforward the great Corypheus of orthodoxy: he became inflamed and heated by his contact with the fiery mass of faction, and reflected all the intemperance of his constituents with fidelity, although his tranquil manner and natural suavity did not depart. It was pleasant to see him in the House of Commons delivering himself of the most ferocious conceptions in the gentlest and most simpering fashion. He was happily called Sir Forcible Feeble. John Doherty having noted that he commenced, progressed, and ended in every speech with "the glorious Revolution of 1688," took advantage of it, in order to produce, in a piece of ridicule, one of those "impromptus faits à loisir," which sometimes make a man's fortune in the House of Commons. Mr. Moore might have suffered in the House from the happy laughter of the present Lord Chief Justice, but was only exalted by the martyrdom of ridicule into greater favour with the Corporation. He was deemed invincible, and yet has been overthrown!
Mr. Shaw, his co-partner in the representation of Dublin, was less an object of political partiality, but had many advantages to second him. His father's bank was a tower of strength, and the coffers, it is supposed, of the Master of the Rolls were thrown open-their ponderous lids creaked on their rusty hinges in his behalf. Sir W. M'Mahon is his uncle. Mr. Shaw had, besides, the recommendation arising from very considerable ability, which he had displayed in his reply to O'Gorman Mahon, in which he gave a description of that gentleman by exhibiting a picture of another, and was accounted not only one of the sustainments, but, what is far more rare, one of the ornaments of the Corporation. He was altogether a most creditable representative. His solemnity of aspect-his full, large black and brilliant eye -his handsome countenance, overspread with an air of evangelical as well as judicial solemnity-his grave judicial walk, and his Recorder emphasis on every word, constituted an assemblage of imposing circumstance, which rendered Mr. Shaw an object of pride to the body which had delegated him to Parliament. It was imagined, on the dissolution, that no attempt would be made to resist him and Mr. Moore.
Two candidates, however, were produced by the people, in the persons of Mr. Perrin and Sir Robert Harty. The Government, laying aside the quiescence which had neutralised the power of the Irish administration in so many instances, interfered in their behalf. Orders were issued, or hints, which are equivalent to injunctions, were given, which were perfectly intelligible in the Police offices and the Paving Board, and a phenomenon in political conversion was presented in the person of the famous (famous at least in the world of provinciality called Ireland) Major Sirr. Sirr had been the Fouché of the Rebellion. He was a renowned traitor-catcher, and has been commended to immortality in one of Curran's speeches. He was a loyalist of the first zeal and acrimony, and lately superadded sanctimony to the spirit of allegiance, which, among the ascendancy party,
is always, if not synonymous with a man's interest, quite inseparable from it." The Major" was the name by which he was known in Dublin, and the designation was enough to make many a lover of "Ould Ireland" thrill at the sound. Sanctity, ascendancy, and magistracy, all combined to render him one of the great props of what are called the institutions, and "the Major" would a little time ago as readily have anticipated his being called on to "eat a crocodile," as Hamlet says, as to swallow and digest the proposal of what is called a Popish candidate for the representation of the city of Dublin. It was, however, suggested to him by the Castle, and though it must have cost him many a straining and stretching of his political conscience, he stomached the mandate of His Excellency at last. It was a sight to behold the Major upon this occasion. His friends gathered to see him go through the operation, and as he went through it, the public face wore one universal grin. His example was of no mean use. The other dependants on authority were desired to look on the Major as a pattern, and the model was immediately copied. A fierce contest ensued, and Sir Robert Harty and Mr. Perrin were, after a strenuous struggle, returned members for the city of Dublin. The pride of the Corporation was levelled to the earth, and the proud ascendancy that had so long trampled on the head of Ireland, was compelled, although with gnashing teeth, to bite the dust. Than Sir Robert Harty and Mr. Perrin there can scarcely
be two persons more dissimilar. The former was originally in trade, but having acquired a large fortune, retired from business. He is a good-humoured, rosy-faced, blue-eyed person, with a prompt and ready smile, accompanied, however, with a consciousness of that dignity which fifty thousand pounds and a baronetcy, the reward of his honourable services as Lord Mayor, are calculated to impart. He has always been a liberal man, and was wont to express his advocacy of emancipation in good set terms in that convivial rhetoric in which the aldermen of Dublin are admitted to excel. Mr. Perrin is a remarkable man. He is of French origin, and has the peculiar Huguenot expression observable in almost all French Calvinists strongly impressed on his face. A democratic character is stamped upon it. Yet it is free from any acerbity, which indeed is no ingredient of his nature, but has a directness and spirit of plain dealing which indicates that he would not give himself the trouble of disguising his opinions, and a recklessness of the judgments and estimate of other men. It is singularly thoughtful, and in the paleness which is suffused over its expanse, the evidences of long and laborious mental occupation are readily to be discerned. The brows are dark and massive, and overhang eyes, in which there are no flashes of imagi ,nation, but which are occupied by a thinking and reflective spirit, and combine frankness and boldness of character with the intimation of high intellectual endowment. The manners of Mr. Perrin are well suited to his aspect and bearing. They are independent, abrupt, and honest a little curt, perhaps, but never purposely uncivil. He is evidently a man as incapable of offering as of brooking an offence, and would as much disdain to treat his inferiors with indignity, as those above with abjectness and servility. He came to the bar without any patron, except his high personal merit, and under no
other auspices has he made his way. He has attained the highest place in his profession as a most expert and erudite advocate, and has never stooped to a judge, or offered adulation to authority in all that time. It is a most creditable circumstance in his conduct, that when almost the whole Bar concurred in offering incense to Lord Manners in an address on his departure, Mr. Perrin refused to put his hand to a document expressing opinions which not a single barrister entertained. But I go into details too minute for the compass within which I ought to confine myself. I pass, without regard to the order in which I select the localities, to the county of Clare.
Alas! for O'Gorman Mahon. How has he declined from the high, although it was a somewhat fantastical station on which he stood not long ago, when he lighted on the tops of parliamentary eminence like Mercury on a heaven-kissing hill! There he remained poised in a posture peculiar indeed, and sufficiently strange; but it was much, after all, to have had all eyes directed on him, and by his dress, his attitude, his deportment, and an eloquence which is entirely his own, to have attracted the regards and occupied the ear of London. He is hurled down from the peaks of fashion, and instead of alternately figuring in Regent-Street and St. Stephen's Chapel, and astounding the one with his rhetoric, and the other with his attire, he is condemned to wander through the solitudes of Clare, and to gaze on those mountains which his friend Steele has associated with the immortal name of O'Connel, and given an eternity to their fame as doubtless as that of the foundations on which they stand. I own it grieves me to see this change in his political fortunes, and the incident which pains me most is the separation which took place between him and Thomas Steele. They were wont to call each other by vocatives of fraternal friendship, and Tom Steele would end every sentence by a panegyric on the virtues and services of his brother O'Gorman Mahon. At the late Clare election the passion of Tom Steele for his country, or what he considers as equivalent, his admiration of Daniel O'Connel, overcame his enthusiasm for his friend, and they who would have gladly perished for each other's sake but a little while ago, were animated by the most deadly resentment. The public are too well aware of all the gladiatorial interchanges of messages, and appointments, and "moving accidents by flood and field," which prevented any rencounter between the bands of belligerents on that memorable occasion. It would, however, be preposterous to throw any doubt on the courage of any of the parties.' They are all men approved in their vocation, but fortunately for them and for their country, their O'Trigger propensities were disappointed by a series of events which cannot be considered fortuitous, but in which the finger of a guardian Providence can be distinctly traced. Why go through the half-melancholy, half-ridiculous narrative of the incidents of that election? It terminated, however, with a circumstance so honourable to both parties, that it ought not to be kept back. O'Gorman Mahon was assailed in Limerick by an infuriated rabble. He defended himself with a valour which was really heroic. When he was on the point of being overpowered, his former friend Steele, perceiving his danger, forgetting all their recent animosities in the remembrance of their ancient friendship, rushed forward, and
raising him with his vigorous arm, snatched him from the grasp of a sanguinary mob, and bore him in safety off. That two men, both full of worth and of high personal as well as public merit, have shaken hands, with "hearts in them," is the sincere wish of all those who are aware of all the good which they accomplished when they were honourably emulous for the service of their country, and left it matter of difficulty to arbitrate between their comparative claims on the gratitude of Ireland.
Mr. Maurice O'Connel, the son of "the Liberator," defeated O'Gorman Mahon. He has spoken but once in the House of Commons, and on that occasion spoke with success. His demeanour was modest and unaffected, and won the praises of those who were least disposed to allow him merit. He is singularly improved in every particular, and instead of endeavouring to obtain distinction (a pardonable frivolity) by any peculiarity of dress and deportment, he has begun to seek the acquisition of a genuine reputation. He has many of his father's attributes-a fine memory, quickness, and facility. It is certainly an injury, in many regards, to bear the name of a distinguished person, by creating a perpetual comparison; but it is also in many respects serviceable by opening to the display of talent a career already formed.
The Waterford election (for I proceed to it) was attended with a striking circumstance. The Beresford family-that family which had been so long absolute in Ireland, and which held a pre-eminence in its politics as lofty as the tall hills which crown the demesne of their splendid mansion-did not venture to enter the field for the contest of an honour on which they had expended thousands upon thousands, and which they not only considered as an appurtenance to their rank, but as a constituent of their political being. Here was, indeed, the triumph of Reform! Before its spirit the ancient aristocracy, attended with all the power which boundless opulence could give, was obliged to retreat, and to hide itself in the recesses of the fine woods of Curraghmore. The two gentlemen elected are, the brother of the late member, Mr. Robert Power, and Sir Richard Musgrave. The former is a sharp, active, quick-sighted man, with shrewd sense and good faculties, and likely to be a very useful member of parliament. Sir Richard Musgrave is remarkable for having inherited the estate and baronetcy of the celebrated partisan and Irish historian of that name, whose wild volumes purport to be a history of the Rebellion, and contain little else than the visions of an imagination ridden by a bloody incubus. His nephew, Sir Richard Musgrave, is in every political respect his exact opposite. He is a man of views as enlightened as his manners are bland, and who possesses an understanding as clear and vigorous as his purpose is pure and sound. He is beloved by the people-respected by the gentry-the model of a countrygentleman a kind neighbour-a faithful friend, and, in the largest and most honourable sense of that noble designation-" an honest man!"
In the City of Waterford, Sir John Newport was elected without opposition. The Nestor of the Irish Whigs is too well known to require a description. He is seventy-five, but his heart still beats with a vigorous passion for his country, though I am sorry to perceive