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In submitting the following work to the public, it may be necessary to say something on the cause of its origin, and on the time of its appearance.
On the 19th June, 1830, the following letter appeared in the Irish papers :
TO THE LITERARY PERSONS OF IRELAND “I very respectfully, and with feelings of gratitude for pleasure, and I hope, profit received, take the liberty to offer two prizes of 1001. each, for the best essays, to be produced on, or before the lst. day of June, 1831, on the following subjects :
FIRST.ABSENTEEISM : The UNION RECONSIDERED after THIRTY YEARS.
SECOND.—The POPULATION and TERRITORY of IRELAND CONDI. DERED WITH A VIEW TO IMPROVEMENT.
I shall request certain learned bodies to name judges, and shall expect copies of the Essays, manuscript or printed, to be presented to the Dublin Library Society; the property of the writers in every other respect to be unimpaired.
CLONCURRY. Lyons, Jure 17, 1830. As the Marquis of Anglesey had expressed a wish, in his letter to Mr. Kertland, that the ques. tion of REPEAL should be fairly canvassed ; as his friend, Lord CLONCURRY, had thus solicited "legitimate discussion" upon that important subject; and as the author bad delivered sentiments upon the all important topic, which had received the highest praise from Mr. O'Connell, he conceived that it might not be presumptuous to re-assert those sentiments, and to support them with evidence, facts, and arguments, which claim the attention of every lover of Ireland.
Wishing to avail himself of the most recent facts and documents, for the Repealer's Manual, the
author first proceeded with the Essay on the Population and Territory of Ireland, in which, having described all the natural advantages of his country, and its people, he undertook to prove, that all the political evils entailed upon both, have been caused by misrule; and that good government alone can remove these evils, and make “ Ireland as she ought to be.”
In the preface to that work, (to be published after this), he thus proposed an adjustment to Repealers, and Anti-Repealers :
“ You both admit that good government alone can restore prosperity to Ireland. The only question you have next to decide, is, whether foreign or domestic legislation can produce this great blessing.
If you, Anti-repealer, can shew, not by assertion, but by facts, not by declamation, but by practical proofs, that Ireland can have this good government as soon, and as effectually, by a parliament three hundred miles from Dublin, as by one in the Irish metropolis-let us have your proofs. But, if the Repealer can prove negatively and affirmatively, not merely to his own judgment, but to that of every unprejudiced man, by facts, by evi. dence, and by experience, that it is not only irrational, but absurd, to expect any such thing, and that the voice of reason, of nature, and of justice proves, that nothing but native legislation can secure native good government, why should not all Irishmen join, in every legal and constitutional way, to secure the means of acquiring the desired good for their common country ?"
When the author had thus far, as he conceived, rationally proceeded, he deemed it his duty to discuss the two-fold subject of Absenteeism and the Union, in the manner laid down in the following pages. Lord Cloncurry, in the mean time, having been taken into the councils of the government, and his ardor for repeal having considerably diminįshed, it was generally thought that the proposed
Essays would never be called for, or that if they
“ Not having the unholy knack,
JUVENAL. publicly called upon Lord Cloncurry to say if he really intended to fulfill his promise, and at the same time suggested how impartial judges could be selected by ballot, from amongst the members of that respectable body, the Dublin Library Society.
In justice to Lord Cloncurry, it is right to men. tion, that an application was made from bim to the committee of the Library on the subject; but to the regret of its leading members, it was not fol.
The proposed time arrived, and nothing was definitively done! The authors of the Essays did not, however, permit the noble Lord to forget his public pledges. A few days afterwards, it was announced on his part, that Baron Smith and Doctor Sadlier would act as judges, and it was un. derstood that all Essays should be delivered in, on or before the 10th of July, 1831.
The author conceiving, for the honor of Ireland, that Repeal should not be without an advocate, penned the following Essay, within the proposed six weeks, and forwarded it to the proper place.
The Essays remained under judgment, until January 1832, when, after repeated applications from their “importunate authors," it was announced that Baron Smith bad declined acting ; that Dr. Sadlier (alone) had awarded, (contrary to the terms of Lord Cloncurry's letter), both prizes for one work, entitled “ Commentaries on National Policy, and Ireland,” and that his Lordship woald, in the course of the ensuing month, give the prizes to the author of said work, if Baron Smith would not, in the interim, decide against the award. To make the judgment the more ludicrous, it was announced in the same article, that the manuscript Essays, at the time, were in the possession of Baron Smith: thus allowing, judge-like, Doctor Sadlier to decide in the absence of evidence.
Considering that one of the judges was connected with the Bench, and had written in defence of the Union ; considering that the other judge was a minister of that establishment which was pledged against repeal; considering that Lord Cloncurry had been made a British peer, and a member of the privy council, it was hard to expect that an Essay in favor of native legislation would be patronised in such a quarter. It was, however, thought, if an bonest Essay would not be successful, that a work which did not discuss formally, or in the manner proposed, either subject, much less both subjects, could not succeed.
It was believed, if the noble Lord would not award prizes for an essay to prove that the Irish nobility should live, like himself, on their Irish estates, that, at least, he would not pay a man for endeavoring to show that Ireland was as well without her nobility as with them. It was imagined, that if he would not support his former reiterated opinions, upon the necessity of Ireland legislating for herself, that he would give its advocates at least
“ A clear stage, and no favor,' but what justice and truth would require.
It was supposed, that if a reward were not given to him who would prove that manufacture would flourish in Ireland under a paternal legislature, that, at least, it would not be given to him who would attempt to show, that Ireland is not fit for manufacture.
But it may be said, that this is dictated by a spirit of disappointment. The author has ever despised any advantage derived from the sacrifice of princi. ple, or any interest opposed to the welfare of his