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the House of Lords in this form, and it was read a second time on the 4th. On these occasions my father expressed in the strongest manner his conviction of the necessity of renewing the Act, and of retaining in it the clauses directed against the abuse of the power of holding public meetings, without which he said he would not have proposed the Bill at all (Hansard, vol. lxxiv. p. 1127-8). In saying so he believed (as he had a right to do from what had passed) that he was declaring views which had in the end received the assent of the whole Cabinet, whatever might at one time have been the opinion of some of them. That assent had undoubtedly been given to the measure, though not without difficulty, for a strong difference of opinion as to the propriety of retaining the clauses respecting public meetings had been created in the Cabinet by the letter received from Lord Wellesley on the 23rd of June. This had become known to Mr. O'Connell, and he availed himself of his knowledge to bring the fact before the House of Commons in a manner which eventually made it impossible for the Government to proceed with the Bill in the form in which it had been introduced into the House of Lords.
'Such were the real facts with respect to the bringing forward of the Bill for renewing the Coercion Act according to statements publicly made at the time and never disputed. There can be no need for pointing out how widely they differ from the account of them given in the Review. Nor is the account it gives of the conduct and motives of those who were concerned in this affair, and of the communications that passed between them, lens completely erroneous. I will abstain however from entering into the details which would be necessary in order to expose the mistakes I allude to, but I cannot leave the subject without affirming that my father's resignation was not brought about in the manner alleged by the Review. Its immediate cause was no doubt the resignation of Lord Althorp, who felt that after the disclosures in the House of Commons, it was impossible for him to continue to hold office, if the Bill were to be proceeded with in the form in which it had been brought into the House of Lords. But from the course he took after my father's retirement it must be inferred that if Lord Althorp had been asked to withdraw his resignation on the understanding that the Bill should be modified, he would not have refused to do so, and any change in the administration might have been averted. This, however, was not proposed by my father, who was of opinion that in the circumstances in which he was placed his own resignation was necessary. It was rendered so, in the first place, by the fact (on which he laid most stress in the House of Lords) that having brought in the Bill with the concurrence of the whole Cabinet, and of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, he suddenly found himself deprived of the power of carrying the measure so introduced, and which he had just publicly declared to be in his opinion necessary to secure the public peace in Ireland, by the secession of a member of the Government whose services were indispensable for its continuance. With his high standard of the duties of a Minister this alone would have made it difficult for him to continue at the head of the Government, but the manner in which he had been brought into this difficulty had perhaps even more influence in leading him to regard his position as no longer tenable. From the full account he gave me at the time of the motives on which he acted, it would be in my power to show how much this consideration weighed with him. But he only distantly alluded to it in explaining his resignation in the House of Lords, and expressly said that he would not state more than was “absolutely indispensable." His generous desire to avoid saying anything which might be painful or injurious to others, even at the risk of leaving his own vindication less complete than it might have been, was one of his motives for the reserve he maintained; and though this reason for it has lost much of its weight from the lapse of time, I still think it right not to depart from it farther than is required, in order to correct the most material of the erroneous statements that have been made.
'I am faithfully yours,
"GREY. H. Reeve, Esq.'
We think it due to Lord Grey to publish this communication, and we do so the more willingly as it contains some additional particulars of historical interest ; but (with one trifling exception to which we shall presently allude) we do not admit that he has made out his charge of inaccuracy against the contemporary statements of Lord Broughton, and we entirely repudiate his allegation that these statements are “injurious to his father or to himself. On these points our readers will judge for themselves. We shall endeavour to confine our reply within the shortest possible limits.
It is admitted on all hands that however resolved Lord Grey may have been to create peers, if necessary, to carry the second Reform Bill, he was anxious to delay the creation as long as possible. He felt, to use his own words, a repugnance, amounting to aversion, to
such a measure.' That being the fact, which was known to all his friends, various motives were imputed to him. The delay might arise from irresolution or from a wise policy. The present Lord Grey admits that there was an almost unanimous opinion among my father's • most trusted friends that he was deferring the creation of peers too
long.' That is in other words precisely what Lord Broughton himself says. What may have been passing in the secret thoughts of the Prime Minister, he certainly did not know. Earl Grey's views are now made clear by the publication of his correspondence with the king, and they are fully set forth in his letter to Lord Althorp of the 11th March, 1834. But it would be easy to produce a vast amount of contemporary evidence to show that great doubt prevailed amongst many of his nearest friends and connexions, at the time, on the subject, and that his own resolutions fluctuated, as was natural on so difficult a question.
With regard to the conversation with Lord Howick, it is of course possible that his Lordship may have failed to convey accurately what he meant to say to Sir John Hobhouse, or that Sir John Hobhouse may have misunderstood him, bnt the record of the conversation was
made at the time, and he is now speaking from memory, after an interval of forty years, of a conversation which he does not even remember to have taken place.
We now turn to the second point adverted to by his Lordship, which is of more importance. Lord Grey objects to our statenient that Lord Wellesley wrote to his father on the 21st June, 1834, 'a very able and * important official despatch,' recommending the abandonment of the public meetings' clauses and the court-martial clauses in the Irish Coercion Bill, and he adds that there was no such despatch, but only a private and confidential letter from the Lord-Lieutenant. In point of form Lord Grey is so far right, that we ought not to have applied the term 'official despatch' to this communication, because, as is well known, the official despatches of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland are addressed to the Home Secretary and not to the First Lord of the Treasury. Lord Melbourne in his answer on the 18th July took that distinction, and Lord Wellesley himself said in a letter of the 3rd July (which we have before us) that he wrote to Lord Grey expressly for the purpose of keeping his communication out of the official channel, and that he mentioned this to Lord Melbourne on the same day. The term official' was therefore improperly applied by us to this remarkable document. The term should rather have been extra-official,' or 'semi-official.'. But to remove all further doubt as to the nature of this famous letter, we will now print it literatim et verbatim from a copy made by Lord Wellesley's private secretary; and we do so with the more pleasure as it is a paper which does Lord Wellesley the highest honour, and which has no inconsiderable historical importance. It has not before been published. ;
Phænix Park, June 21, 1834. MY DEAR LORD.-Understanding from some communications with Mr. Littleton, that the omission of those clauses in the Protective Act (which confer extensive and extraordinary powers of preventing meettings, etc., on the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland), would facilitate other measures of importance in their progress through Parliament, and would also secure the re-enactment of the other important provisions of the Act, I think it may be convenient to your Lordship to receive an early statement of my sentiments on the subject.
The objects of that Act were to prevent agitation, as the remote cause of outrage, and to restrain the nightly assemblies of the people, the effect of that cause.
The powers conferred on the Lord-Lieutenant of prohibiting and suppressing meetings were directed to check the first of these evils; and unquestionably were successful in their first operation ; but your Lordship cannot forget that they were found useless during the whole course of the agitation of the Repeal of the Union; and that perhaps the happy result of that agitation is in some respect to be ascribed to the moderation of the Government, in abstaining from the exercise of the powers which it possessed. The question of the Repeal of the Union is quite extinct; and if (as I hope) an efficient Tithe Bill is passed, it
will be impossible to revive agitation unless a clamour can be raised, on some such question as the renewal of great and extraordinary powers of an arbitrary spirit, without evident necessity. Unless, therefore, the necessity is evident, the renewal of the powers would only serve to furnish new ground for agitation and violence.
• I am aware that it is possible, when these powers shall be withdrawn,'some meetings, under a different character, but of an equally factious and troublesome spirit, may arise, and that it is not the party of Repeal alone from which mischief is to be apprehended. But I think that the ordinary powers of the law, with the weight of public opinion, would easily defeat such wicked attempts. I cannot, therefore, state, that I consider the preservation of the clauses respecting meetings, as they now stand in the Act, to be essential to the public tranquillity of Ireland, or that the omission of them would endanger the public safety.
• The powers conferred by those clauses of the Act directed against the nightly councils and assemblies of the people, and imposing restraints upon disorderly movements and excesses, may be rather deemed as precautionary moral regulations, than infractions of civil rights; these regulations must be re-enacted; without them it will be scarcely possible to maintain the public peace. If a bill could be framed, continuing to the executive authority the power of enforcing these regulations for three or five years, such an extension of time to this part of the bill, would be an ample retribution for the loss of all its other provisions.
‘On a very material branch of this question, I cannot, perhaps, touch, without exceeding the limits of my official duty; but it is so closely interwoven with every part of the subject, that I am certain your Lordship will not disapprove that excess of zeal, however indiscreet. I mean the general necessity of producing to Parliament, in the present crisis, the most temperate measures which the public safety will admit, respecting the condition of Ireland.
The Act in question must be deemed an exception to the spirit and character of your Lordship’s government. It was expressly founded on the necessity of the case; it was stated to be temporary and transient in its nature; and an impatience was felt and signified to be relieved from the burthen of continuing such a law. I think that the demonstration of a fixed aversion to the renewal of any provisions of this law, which cannot be proved to be within the strict necessity of the case now existing, would not fail to produce a most salutary effect in the House of Commons, and in the mind of every liberal man in the country. I think an union is now more necessary than ever to meet the array of the enemy. This I believe would tend greatly to accelerate the Irish Tithe Bill, and other measures, and to bring the session to an early and tranquil conclusion. Your Lordship will perceive that some parts of this letter differ from my letter to Lord Melbourne of the 11th June; but I trust that the change of circumstances since that time will sufficiently justify the difference. In opening the subject of the renewal of this Act to Parliament, I am convinced that your Lordship will render justice to the spirit in which it has been administered. To the meetings, I have never applied it; I left the frantic project of the Repeal of the Union to destroy itself, by discussion and free reason; where I have applied the law, the cases were irresistible; and it was loudly and repeatedly demanded by the voice of the country. Even then, I applied it reluctantly, and with every precaution; and it has everywhere been attended with complete effect. Your Lordship knows, whether I have sought for the renewal of these tremendous powers (more dreadful perhaps to me, than to the people of Ireland) with less discretion than I have exercised them; and I rely on your Lordship and Lord Melbourne with the fullest confidence for my defence against any assaults, which may be directed, either upon any alleged violence or timidity in the exercise of the powers committed to me by this law, or upon any suggestions which I have offered for its amendment.
Believe me, &c., (Signed)
Our readers will form their own judgment as to the public or private character of this communication. The late Earl Grey described it as 'a private and confidential letter '—'an entirely private letter:' we regarded it, and still regard it, as an able and important secret despatch. But the most curious part of this transaction is, that Earl Grey himself, being unconvinced by the arguments in this letter, wholly ignored its existence in his speech of the 1st July, 1834, and on the contrary quoted to the House of Lords on moving the first reading of the bill, the previous despatch of the Lord-Lieutenant of the 18th April, in which the opposite opinion had been conveyed to the Government, although he knew by the letter of the 21st June that Lord Wellesley had altered that opinion. The present Lord Grey relies in the sanie manner on the previous despatches of the 15th and 18th April, which were laid before Parliament. We can only conclude that he is not aware of the contents and nature of the document to which we have now the honour to call bis attention. The existence of that document was not disclosed till the day of his father's resignation ; its contents never were disclosed at all; and although strenuous efforts were made in both Houses of Parliament to obtain the production of it, this was successfully resisted on the ground that it was a private communi
cation.' 'Lord Melbourne himself remarked on this very letter that the distinctions between what is public and what is private are by no 'means defined or generally understood. A communication on public affairs may, of course, be confidential' or 'secret,' but when it relates exclusively to some important public act, and is written, as this was, for an important public purpose, we agree with what Sir Robert Peel said with reference to the correspondence of the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Huskisson in 1823, that the character of the letter depends
on the matter it contains, and not on the superscription.' Indeed in this case the copy of the letter in our possession is written on official foolscap, and the superscription is not private and confidential,' but 'secret'—the term usually employed in despatches of this nature. With the sole exception of the circumstance that it begins, 'My dear