Secret Service Under Pitt

CHAPTER XVII

THE REGENCY–STRUGGLE BETWEEN WHIG AND TORY CAMPS–O’LEARY AND THE PRINCE OF WALES

The State Papers throw no light on what Plowden styles ‘the arbitrary withdrawal of O’Leary’s pension.’ The following historic incident, now forgotten, and curious in its detail, may have led to that act.

In 1789, a great struggle raged between the Parliaments of England and Ireland on the question of creating the Prince of Wales Regent during the insanity of George the Third. The Prince at this time had been bound up, politically and socially, with the Whigs. Pitt, fearing that the Regency might prove fatal to his ambition and his Cabinet, resisted the heir-apparent’s right to the prerogative of his father, and declared that ‘the Prince had no better right to administer the government during his father’s incapacity than any other subject of the realm.’ An address to the Prince from the Irish Parliament requested that he would ‘take upon himself the government of Ireland during the continuation of the King’s indisposition, and no longer; and under the title of Prince Regent of Ireland, in the name, and on behalf of his Majesty, to exercise, according to the laws and constitution of that kingdom, all regal powers, jurisdiction, and prerogatives to the crown and government thereof belonging.’

Pelham, speaking of ‘the tricks and intrigues of Mr. Pitt’s faction,’ adds, ‘I have not time to express how strongly the Prince is affected by the confidence and attachment of the Irish Parliament.’ Portland takes the same tone. The Buckingham Papers afford rich material for a history of this struggle. The noble editor admits that ‘the Parliament of Ireland preserved the unquestionable right of deciding the Regency in their own way. The position of Lord Buckingham[603] had become peculiarly embarrassing. What course should be taken in the event of such an address being carried? The predicament was so strange, and involved constitutional considerations of such importance, as to give the most serious disquietude to the Administration.'[604]

Hopes were felt that the King might recover. The Viceroy receives instructions to use obstructive tactics, ‘to use every possible endeavour, by all means in your power, debating every question, dividing upon every question, moving adjournment upon adjournment, and every other mode that can be suggested, to gain time!'[605] But the Viceroy did more. He openly threatened to make each opponent ‘the victim of his vote.’ Fitzgibbon was promised the seals and a peerage if he succeeded for Pitt. Lures and threats were alternately held out. The peerages of Kilmaine, Glentworth, and Cloncurry were sold for hard cash, and the proceeds laid out in the purchase of members. Meanwhile the King got well. Thereupon the Master of the Rolls, the Treasurer, the Clerk of Permits, the Postmaster-general, the Secretary of War, the Comptroller of Stamps, and other public servants, were dismissed. The Duke of Leinster, Lord Shannon, the Ponsonbys were cashiered. Employments that had long remained dormant were revived, sinecures created, salaries increased; while such offices as the Board of Stamps and Accounts, hitherto filled by one, became a joint concern. The weigh-mastership of Cork was divided into three parts, the duties of which were discharged by deputies, while the principals, who pocketed the profits, held seats in Parliament. In 1790, one hundred and ten placemen were members of the House. The Viceroy, Buckingham, during his short régime, added 13,040l. a year to the pension list; the names of the recipients are already on record. On the other hand, some men who had taken the Prince’s side in the contest lost their pensions. O’Leary may have been in this batch.[606] Croly, in his ‘Life of George IV,’ dilates on the intimate relations which subsisted between the Prince and the priest, and adds that O’Leary was no unskilful medium of intercourse between his Church and the Whigs, and contributed in no slight degree to the popularity of the Prince in Ireland. According to Buckley, the Prince patronised O’Leary to such an extent that rumour whispered it was by him the marriage ceremony with Mrs. Fitzherbert had been performed.

Barrington, describing the chastisement applied to those who, in Ireland, favoured the appointment of the Prince as Regent, says: ‘Lord Buckingham vented his wrath on the country;’ but what proof have we that the alleged agent of the Castle, O’Leary, incurred that Viceroy’s displeasure?

In 1789, the year O’Leary removed permanently to London, he settled down, at the Spanish Ambassador’s Chapel in London, as an assistant priest to Dr. Hussey, and, apparently, a most unwelcome one. An extraordinary pamphlet, not known to his biographers, was privately issued by O’Leary referring to a feud between himself and Dr. Hussey. At page 11 O’Leary writes:–

The old clerk told me in the vestry, ‘that I might now return to Ireland, as my enemy, the Marquis of Buckingham, had returned to England.’ Surprised how or where the clerk of a vestry could get such an insulting information, I recollected that his master [Dr. Hussey] had told me some time before that he had seen a letter from the Marquis of Buckingham, when Viceroy of Ireland, to some nobleman or gentleman of the English Catholic Committee, wherein he depicted the Catholics of that kingdom in very unfavourable if not odious colours, and painted me as one of the ringleaders.[607]

This serves to explain Dr. England’s remark in 1822, when accounting for O’Leary’s permanent removal to London, that ‘his residence in Ireland had become painful;'[608] but elsewhere in his book he assigns a different reason for the change.

It has been stated [he writes] that a secret condition was annexed to this grant, binding O’Leary to reside in England,[609] and preventing him from further interference in the political concerns of the empire. The fact, however, is that O’Leary had made previous arrangements for a permanent residence in London–not only as being more favourable to his health, which generally suffered by his visits to Dublin, but from a rational conviction that the great seat of influence and power was the proper sphere of his benevolent exertions.

This biographer did not know O’Leary personally; his conjecture, or explanation, is plausible. But few men would remove for their health to the purlieus of St. Giles and Soho, the mission with which O’Leary had most to do. Its fearful squalor at the period described is curiously shown in Clinch’s recently published ‘Bloomsbury and St. Giles.’ It will be remembered that the preacher of his funeral sermon conveys that the migration in 1789 was caused by O’Leary’s refusal to write in a venal Dublin print against the party with whom he had long been associated. Snubbed by the Viceroy, Buckingham, his usefulness at Dublin Castle was now a thing of the past; but yet, as he could not afford to give up all State endowment, I suspect that he settled down in London in some undefined diplomatic rôle, where his tact and influence would find a field for exercise. A most careful memoir of O’Leary, ending with the words ‘Requiescat in pace’–written probably by his friend and co-religionist Plowden–appears in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ for February 1802. It contains some facts not noticed by his more diffuse biographers. ‘This laudable conduct,’ we are told, ‘did not escape the attention of the Irish Government, and induced them, when he quitted Ireland, to recommend him to men of power in this country.’ I believe that O’Leary’s removal to London was made under Government auspices, extended in the hope that, by his diplomatic power, it might lead to useful knowledge and results.

As George, Prince of Wales, held Whig views at this time, Mr. Pitt’s great career ran some risk of being cut short. The Prince gathered round him the leading Whig lights, including O’Leary, as we learn from Croly’s ‘Life of George IV.'[610] A good picture of life in the Pavilion at Brighton is given, and of the brilliant jokes which capped the hits of Sheridan and Curran. But O’Leary’s presence had, I think, a deeper significance. With graver men his intercourse was frequent. ‘Edmund Burke was very marked in the regard which he manifested to O’Leary,’ writes England. ‘Fox was not only Pitt’s rival, but the leader of a powerful party constantly on the watch to oust Pitt from office.’ It may be presumed that the men of power in London to whom O’Leary, on leaving Ireland, had letters from Dublin Castle, occupied a camp hostile to the Whig garrison of the Pavilion.

One proof that O’Leary wished to regain favour with Pitt is afforded by the casual remark of his biographer. ‘When O’Leary learned that his friend (Plowden) was engaged at the desire of Pitt in writing the ‘Historical Review,’ he sent him his invaluable collections, as affording the best and most authentic materials for the recent history of Ireland.'[611]

I do not like that phrase of Plowden in which he says–when speaking of O’Leary’s pension–that it was only after giving repeated proofs that the secret condition had been complied with, he received a large arrear.[612] Plowden no doubt thinks that the pension was meant as ‘hush money;’ but it is a question whether O’Leary was quite frank with him as to its character.

‘An oak of the forest is too old to be transplanted at fifty,’ said Grattan, regarding Flood’s removal to London in 1784. ‘Disgusted with the condition of his country,’ writes O’Leary’s later biographer, Buckley, ‘and hopeless of doing anything by which it could be improved, he resolved on quitting it altogether and living in the free atmosphere of England, so congenial to a bounding and manly temperament like his…. In the year 1789 Arthur O’Leary left Ireland for ever, and took up his residence in London as one of the chaplains to the Spanish Embassy.'[613] It appears, however, from the testimony of Plowden, the attached friend of O’Leary, that it was a condition expressly made by the Crown that O’Leary was ‘to reside no more in Ireland.'[614] I suspect that the appointment just described was brought about by Court intrigue. From the time of the Armada the movements of the Spanish minister were viewed with jealousy, often with alarm. In 1779, when the combined fleets of Spain and France rode menacingly in the Channel, O’Leary, as we have seen, denounced them to the Irish people, and his appointment to the Spanish embassy must have been the work of England rather than of Spain. In 1789 strained relations had again arisen between Spain and England; and a few years later war was actually declared by Spain.[615] Sydney states that O’Leary had already consented to furnish secret information.[616] His present position would enable him to acquire knowledge of, not only the designs of Spain, but of Dr. Hussey too; and without saying that O’Leary could be capable of downright treachery, it is probable that Pitt believed he would. It will be remembered that, in 1780, Dr. Hussey, chief chaplain to the Spanish embassy in London, had been sent with Richard Cumberland to effect a treaty with the Court of Spain, a negotiation not entirely successful. What was the precise nature of the hold which Hussey, originally a Carthusian monk, acquired over the Court of England is destined to remain shrouded. Buckley says it was at the special request of George III. that Dr. Hussey accompanied Mr. Cumberland on a secret mission to Madrid.[617]

What Cumberland himself thought of his colleague is curious to see. We are told that ‘the high-sounding titles and dignities showered upon Dr. Hussey by the Court of Spain outweighed in his balance English guineas;’ that ‘in his heart he was as high a priest as à Becket, and as stiff a Catholic as ever kissed the cross;’ but yet ‘had left behind him in his coffin at La Trappe no one passion native or ingrafted that belonged to him when he entered it.’ So clear-sighted a man as Hussey could not fail to see the secret thoughts of Cumberland, or to have diagnosed, in his turn, the jaundiced retina through which he was viewed; for Cumberland complains of ‘his singular, sudden, and capricious conduct to the author and his family, of which he was an inmate.'[618] Hussey had demanded his passports to return to England; but on Cumberland’s remonstrance paused, and cancelled a letter he had addressed to the English Secretary of State asking leave to return. Mystery covers much of this mission to Spain, for Cumberland says, ‘I will reveal no more than I am in honour and strict conscience warranted to make public. For twenty years I have been silent, making no appeals at any time but to my official employers, who were pledged to do me justice.'[619]

Mr. Froude tells us that Dr. Hussey[620] was in the confidence of Dundas and Portland, and had received favours from them. Both were prominent statesmen in the Cabinet of Pitt, and both eventually turned against Hussey. Dr. Hussey is described as Chaplain to his Catholic Majesty of Spain, and Rector of the Church of the Spanish Embassy in London. He evidently knew something of O’Leary not revealed to the world.

At this point it may be well to open once more the pamphlet privately printed–‘A Narrative of the Misunderstanding between the Rev. Arthur O’Leary and the Rev. Mr. Hussey.’ Its purport, O’Leary says, is to remove the bad impressions which a late report, one which impugned his morality, might have made on some Catholic families, and the reader is requested either to burn the brochure, or erase altogether the name of Mr. Hussey. The latter is just the man to have muttered ‘qui s’excuse s’accuse’ as he read the following; and O’Leary’s remark serves to show that Hussey suspected he had deeper motives.

The desire of co-operating in the work of the ministry [writes O’Leary] was my only inducement for associating with Mr. [Hussey] in the Spanish Ambassador’s Chapel. He soon began to throw some obstacles in my way–but in the most insulting and contemptuous manner. The old clerk of his vestry, who retails among the common people all the stories he hears from his employer, was commissioned by him to direct me in the choice of my theme [in the pulpit].[621]

In 1780, the Spanish ambassador to London was, we learn, ‘Count Fernan Nunez, who had committed himself to a conversation from which Mr. Hussey drew very promising expectations.'[622] But in 1789 we find him succeeded by no less a person than the Marquis del Campo, whose previous attitude, as sub-Premier of Spain, had filled the British Cabinet with alarm.[623] Orde, writing to Nepean, of the Home Office, five years before, tells him to be very watchful over this minister; and O’Leary’s friend, Plowden, whatever he means by it, says that it was only after giving repeated proofs that the secret conditions had been complied with, that O’Leary received a large arrear of his pension.

‘A Narrative of the Misunderstanding’ between O’Leary and Hussey shows that the appointment of the former as Hussey’s colleague was forced upon the latter, and that Hussey distrusted and despised him, confirming the old adage, two of a trade never agree. O’Leary complains that on Good Friday, in presence of a crowded congregation numbering many Protestants, Hussey sent

one of the boys who attend the altar, twice into the pulpit to interrupt me in the most pathetic part of my discourse by chucking the sleeves of my surplice and ordering me to come down under pretence that the ceremonies of the day were too long. Thus a scene was exhibited of which neither the congregation nor myself had ever been spectators before.

And again:–

By the manner in which he concerted his plans, in waiting until the eve of the days on which I was to appear in public, and then sending me, on a sudden, verbal messages by his clerk, and afterwards such insulting notes as no Prelate would send to the meanest clergyman in his diocese, one would be apt to imagine that he played the part of a skilful general, who amuses an enemy the better to decoy him unprepared into an ambuscade.

I was surprised at such peremptory mandates from a man who, at most, could pretend but to an equality…. But his view was, either to disgust me with the chapel, or to commit me with the public, in thus thwarting me in the exercise of my functions.

O’Leary was the lion of the hour; his portrait looked out from the windows of Bond Street and Piccadilly, surrounded by soul-stirring sentiments culled from his published books.[624] There it was that Dr. Hussey sought to reduce his prestige, which he considered overcharged, and to destroy the confidence and respect usually manifested in his regard. It is certain that he felt as uncomfortable in his society as he had ever done in the hair shirt and enforced reserve of La Trappe. He did not brand O’Leary as a spy; he could not do so without offending the Government; but he raised what lawyers call ‘a false issue.’ Indeed O’Leary charges the doctor, on strong circumstantial evidence, with having supplied to the newspapers paragraphs in which an unworthy innuendo is advanced, and one by no means calculated to exalt the friar’s reputation for asceticism: ‘In proportion as the breach widened between us, the paragraphs rose in a climax to a greater degree of asperity.'[625]

Many curious things transpire in this brochure, and amongst them the following: ‘I got the very singular information,’ writes O’Leary, ‘that some years before, in a boarding school at Hampstead, then under his (Hussey’s) direction, he took my picture out of a frame, tore it in several pieces, and cast it away with disdain, saying, “One would imagine he is founder of this establishment.”‘[626] Here again I submit that Dr. Hussey raised a false issue, and his dislike to O’Leary, as evidenced by this strong proceeding, must have had deeper grounds than the paltry plea assigned.

When this affair relative to the picture happened [writes O’Leary] I was in Ireland, in the full bloom of my reputation,[627] which I would have preserved unfaded to the last moment of my existence, had it not spread on the lips of a man to whom I cannot apply the Italian proverb, Whatever your mouth touches, it heals: ‘La vostra bocca sana quel die tocca’ (p. 14).

Dr. Hussey, as already stated, was in the secrets of the Crown. In 1784 Sydney tells Orde, rightly or wrongly, that O’Leary had consented to furnish private information. In 1789 O’Leary, as we have seen, removed to London and settled down in alarming proximity not only to Hussey, but to the minister of Spain. Hussey’s attachment to Spanish interests, Cumberland states, outweighed his devotion to his English patrons, and of course it was highly inconvenient that a man who played fast and loose with both should be domesticated with O’Leary. ‘They are all of them designing knaves,’ writes Orde, and doubtless he and his colleagues, acting on the coarse prejudice thus expressed, urged the arrangement on the principle of ‘set a thief to catch a thief.’ The more refined Sydney probably calculated that it would be ‘diamond cut diamond’ between them.

The effort it must have cost so polished a person as Dr. Hussey to pursue the course ascribed to him may be inferred from the words of Charles Butler: ‘He was a man of great genius, of enlightened piety, with manners at once imposing and elegant, and of enchanting conversation: he did not come in contact with many whom he did not subdue: the highest rank often sunk before him.’ Cumberland, his companion in the secret mission, describes him as wearing ‘a smile seductive; his address was smooth, obsequious, studiously obliging and, at times, glowingly heightened into an impassioned show of friendship and affection. He was quick enough,’ he adds, ‘in finding out the characters of men.’

O’Leary appealed to Bishop Douglas, and a meeting between the parties took place at his house. The result was a written statement, dated June 21, 1791, that Dr. Hussey never had any crime or immoral conduct to allege against O’Leary, and that he had left the Spanish Ambassador’s chapel of his own free will. ‘Mr. O’Leary and I have come to a full explanation upon all past misunderstandings, and are both satisfied with the explanation,’ writes Dr. Hussey. This paper was certified by Bishops Douglas and Berington[628] and by Francis Plowden to be conformable to Dr. Hussey’s verbal declaration. The finale was worthy of an ecclesiastic who wished to avoid disedifying the laity by unseemly wrangles. But, privately, Dr. Hussey took means to prevent a recurrence of an incident which greatly annoyed him. The Castlereagh Papers contain a letter to Lord Hobart from Sir J. Cox Hippisley, in which he mentions as having been reported to Rome, ‘a very offensive measure of Hussey’s in a way so as to have produced a sort of censure on Bishop Douglas of London.’ Dr. Hussey, it is stated, had claimed the right, as chaplain to the Spanish mission, of nominating priests to officiate at the Spanish chapel in London independently of Bishop Douglas.[629]

Frequent reference has been already made to Del Campo. The concluding words of O’Leary’s ‘Narrative’ go on to say:–

I intended to complain in person or to write a severe letter against him to the Marquis del Campo,[630] than whom there are few ambassadors[631] of a more amiable disposition, or in whose train a chaplain would be more happy. But, expecting never to be disturbed by Mr. [Hussey], after leaving him in the unrivalled possession of his pulpit and controversy, I retired without the slightest murmur. Had I even been treated with that civility to which I was entitled, I would yet have quitted York Street. We were on the eve of a war with Spain, and from my peculiar obligations to my own sovereign, in case of a threatened invasion, I would have returned to Ireland, where, upon a similar occasion, the exertions in the line of my profession had been attended with the happiest results in promoting that loyalty which recommends my Religion and countrymen.

Here O’Leary, though so recently attached to the Spanish embassy, declares himself a partisan, if not a sentinel, in the English interest. It appears that, while officiating at Spanish Place, he lodged in Warwick Street, probably acting as assistant chaplain to the Bavarian embassy as well, and where, as Mrs. Bellamy records, he arrived opportunely, in 1783, to adjust angry difficulties that had arisen in that quarter. Seven years later, although ostensibly pastor of St. Patrick’s, Soho, from 1790 to his death, he seems still attached in some way to the Bavarian chapel and embassy, for the preface to his sermon in denunciation of French principles is dated from Warwick Street, though the sermon itself had been preached at St. Patrick’s.

In March 1797, O’Leary’s desire to retain the favour of Pitt is traceable in the sermon to which reference has just been made. It was preached before a congregation mainly Irish, but embracing also the famous Duchess of Devonshire, and many other great personages.[632] Its aim is apparent in the account given of it by the ‘Monthly Review’ as ‘a discourse well adapted to keep alive a high degree of good, warm, Christian hatred of the French, on whom the preacher is very severe, with now and then a stroke of pleasantry, sarcasm and rough wit.’ Ireland had been nearly lost to England the previous year by Hoche’s expedition to Bantry Bay, but England’s unsubsidised allies, the winds, had come to her aid. O’Leary’s discourse, occupying fifty pages, was at once issued in pamphlet shape, and reprinted in Dublin.

As has been already observed, O’Leary maintained cordial relations with some men who bore a bad name. Francis Higgins, originally a Newgate felon, became at last a most influential negotiator. Plowden exhibits fully his unpleasant character in the ‘Historical Review,’ vol. ii. pp. 256-9. ‘This man’ he says, ‘had the address, by coarse flattery and assumed arrogance, to worm himself into the intimacy of several persons of rank and consequence, who demeaned themselves by their obsequiousness to his art, or sold themselves to him. The fact that he died worth 40,000l. is highly illustrative of the system which generated, fostered, and pampered this species of reptile.’ Higgins is shown by the ‘Cornwallis Papers’ to have been a spy on a great scale. There is reason to know that he wormed himself into the confidence of O’Leary; and reason to fear that he turned it to account. The man who began his career by duping a Jesuit and obtaining his co-operation in making an heiress his wife, is not likely to have failed with the genial Franciscan. Higgins early won the friendship of O’Leary; and his bequest ‘to my long and faithful friend, the Rev. Arthur O’Leary,’ has been already noticed. Fidelity to Shamado seems like fidelity to Mephistopheles!

Higgins liked to utilise profitably the information he acquired from pliable Catholics like Magan.[633] Magan was a barrister, and held his head high. It will be remembered that Higgins drew from him the secret of Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s hiding place, and for this service alone received 1,000l. in hand, and a pension of 300l. a year. The ‘Sham Squire’ was not the man to leave money, in 1791, ‘to his long and faithful friend,’ O’Leary, unless he had made more than the amount by the use of him. Higgins claims O’Leary as a dear friend; the habits of the time warrant the assumption that he was his boon companion too. In the unguarded intimacy of social intercourse, that frank and affable nature is likely to have enriched the Squire’s stock of gossip. To what extent that confidence was unfolded can be now but darkly surmised.

O’Leary, if called upon to reveal information to the Government, may have acted with reserve. In softer moments[634] much may have leaked out which was not deliberate betrayal.

It is casually stated by Mr. Lecky (vol. vii. p. 211) that Higgins, in enumerating his services to the Government, especially mentions the expense he had incurred in entertaining priests, and other persons of the higher class, for the purpose of obtaining intelligence. In one respect O’Leary’s intercourse with Higgins worked for good. The newspaper of the latter, though an organ of Orangeism, advocated the Catholic claims.

In 1796 Dr. Hussey, afterwards Bishop of Waterford, seems to have accepted the post of secret agent,–probably not widely dissimilar from that which the statesmen of 1784 thought O’Leary would not object to discharge. Higgins, writing to Dublin Castle in October 1796, expresses regret that the Government had not been very judicious in their selection of ‘an agent for acting on the Catholics.[635] ‘The Roman Catholic body hold a superficial opinion of Dr. Hussey as a courtly priest. If anything was to be effected or wished to be done in the Roman Catholic body, Dr. O’Leary would do more with them in one hour than Hussey in seven years. Of this I am perfectly assured; and O’Leary not ten days since wrote me word he would shortly claim a bed at my house.’

O’Leary had a nephew for whom in a recently published letter he hopes to provide a berth when some friends of his would regain their power. The allusion no doubt is to Fox and the Whigs. This is the nephew noticed by Francis Higgins, in a secret letter to Under-Secretary Cooke eight months before the rebellion. ‘At a meeting at Bond’s, which Lord Edward Fitzgerald and O’Connor attended, O’Connor read a letter from Fox which had been delivered to him (O’C.) by O’Leary, nephew of Dr. O’Leary, who had arrived from London with despatches from Mr. Fox, and set off in the mail for Cork the same night.’ These despatches concurred with the United Irishmen as to the necessity of enforcing a parliamentary reform.[636]

The bequest of Higgins to O’Leary is noticed as strange by the priest’s biographer. Was it meant by way of restitution, seeing that the compact to pay O’Leary had been broken? As in the case of the betrayal of Lord Edward Fitzgerald by Magan, ‘Shamado’ no doubt pocketed the lion’s share.

The will of Francis Higgins goes on to say: ‘To Andrew D. O’Kelly, of Piccadilly, London, I leave 300l.: declaring that if I did not know that he, my friend, was in great affluence, I would have freely bequeathed him any property I might be possessed of.’ This was the man sometimes known as Count O’Kelly, but more generally as Colonel O’Kelly. An Irish judge who once acted as advising counsel for the legatees of O’Kelly, informs me that the latter was originally a jockey, afterwards a successful blackleg, and was made colonel of a regiment that never existed, simply by the Prince Regent addressing him under that title. This explains a remark made by the ‘St. James’s Gazette,’ that ‘his military rank, whatever right he may have had to it, as well as to his Countship, could never obtain for him an entrance to the clubs of his fellow sportsmen.'[637] He owned the racehorse ‘Eclipse,’ and by its aid netted 124,000l.

There has been much discussion by O’Leary’s biographers upon Plowden’s statement as to the stoppage of the pension, and they vainly try to account for so harsh a step. ‘What the reason for this withholding was, it is not easy to ascertain,’ writes Father Buckley; but, from an observation in the ‘Life of Grattan,’ by his son, we surmise that it must have been because O’Leary refused to comply with a request made by the minister, that he would write in the support of the Union.[638] Plowden takes care to say that the pension was ‘hush money.’ Buckley’s argument demands, however, a fuller reply.

The agitation against the Union took place chiefly in 1799. O’Leary died in January 1802, soon after the Union became law. Plowden, through whom he got the arrears paid, says that it was ‘after a lapse of many years, by importunity and solicitation, and repeated proofs of his having complied with the secret conditions, he received a large arrear.’ Therefore there could not have been time for all this in the interval between the Union and O’Leary’s death.

But, in point of fact, O’Leary did express himself publicly in favour of the Union. His ‘Address to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal,’ dated from O’Kelly’s house, and published in June 1800, mentions that he is ‘a great friend to the Union, and reconciled many to it;’ and then follows much clever argument in support of the measure. This rather spoils the statement in Grattan’s ‘Life,’ quoted by the biographer of O’Leary as proof that he spurned Pitt’s proposal to support the Union.

Colonel O’Kelly [writes Grattan] related that, at the period of the Union, Mr. Pitt offered a considerable pension to O’Leary, provided he would exert himself among his Roman Catholic countrymen, and write in support of the Union; but every application was in vain; O’Leary steadfastly resisted Mr. Pitt’s solicitations, and, though poor, he rejected the offers of the minister, and could not be seduced from his allegiance to his country.

The newspapers recording O’Leary’s death, in January 1802, say that he died at his lodgings in Great Portland Street, London. When the Union was carried, he probably got his congé from O’Kelly. This man, of bad odour, became a Crœsus in wealth, and eventually a sort of Brummagem Brummell, deep in the confidence of George, Prince of Wales.[639] O’Leary is found living with O’Kelly in Mayfair, London, and some of his pamphlets are dated from 46 Half-Moon Street, Piccadilly, the ‘Colonel’s’ house.[640] Father Buckley is puzzled ‘how our worthy friar contracted so close an intimacy with a man of tastes and habits apparently so little congenial to his own.'[641] Perhaps O’Kelly[642] was the trustee in whose name O’Leary got a pension on secret conditions. Plowden is the only writer who alludes to the intervention of a trustee. He was very intimate with O’Kelly, and witnessed his will in 1820. The Prince of Wales had already made O’Kelly the medium for paying a secret pension of 300l. a year to Chifney the jockey, in consideration of having designedly lost a race at Epsom.[643]

I now come to a startling piece of evidence, calculated, almost, to make one exclaim with Luke (xix. 22), ‘Out of thy own mouth I judge thee.’ The testimony of no less a witness than O’Leary himself claims to be heard.

More than sixty years after the death of O’Leary, Father Buckley was informed in writing, by a relative of the deceased, that O’Leary, when dying, often exclaimed, ‘Alas! I have betrayed my poor country.'[644] The informant’s impression is that O’Leary’s remorse was due to having, at the request of Pitt, acquiesced in the Union, notwithstanding that we have ‘Colonel’ O’Kelly’s testimony that ‘O’Leary withstood Pitt’s solicitations to support that measure.’ The Catholic bishops of Ireland cordially encouraged the Union, as the Castlereagh Papers show–and we do not hear that Dr. Troy and his confrères felt much remorse–although, in addition to their support of the Union, they signed resolutions in favour of giving to a Protestant king a veto in the appointment of Catholic prelates.

But the letter of O’Leary’s kinsman must not be dismissed without quoting its context. ‘Pitt,’ he writes, ‘promised the emancipation of Catholics and repeal of the Penal Laws, if he (O’Leary) would acquiesce, &c. He did; and so silence was deemed consent. Pitt obtained the Union; then resigned his office; and tricky enough,’ adds O’Leary’s kinsman, ‘said he could not keep his promise.’

This is slightly misleading. Pitt had given a pledge, through Cornwallis, to Archbishop Troy that he would not accept office except on condition that the Catholic claims were to be met. In 1801, owing to the fixed resolve of the King against Emancipation, Pitt went out. His conduct, therefore, was so far straight. When he returned to power in 1804, in complete violation of that compact, O’Leary had been two years dead.

Among O’Leary’s admirers there was none more ardent than the late Lord Chancellor O’Hagan, in whose now deserted study still hangs a fine portrait of the friar, inscribed with soul-stirring sentiments on which O’Hagan had long sought to shape his own course. This gentleman could not bring himself to believe Mr. Froude’s charge branding O’Leary as a spy, and was unable to rest until he read with his own eyes at the State Paper Office the original correspondence. He returned to Dublin declaring that the imputation was but too well founded. This view, coming from a man of judicial mind, might be taken as conclusive; but yet, one is unwilling to see a great reputation wrecked, without wishing to throw out a hope or a plank by which there is a chance of saving it. This plank is, indeed, a poor one; but, just as a sinking man will grasp even at a straw, humanity suggests that no effort should be left untried to keep the struggler afloat.

The two letters which led Lord O’Hagan to his reluctant conclusion are now before the reader. In neither is the Christian name of O’Leary given; but no other priest of the name obtained contemporary notice. The most damaging bit of evidence is Sydney’s letter to Rutland announcing that O’Leary, having been talked to by Nepean, was willing to do what was wished for 100l. a year.[645] These letters bear date 1784, eighteen years before O’Leary’s death. No letters of his in any way compromising him have been found. The voluminous papers of Pelham, the Irish Secretary, from 1795 to 1798 do not once mention his name. ‘I have certainly never seen any reports from O’Leary to the Government,’ writes Mr. Lecky in reply to an inquiry; ‘and I have quoted in my History every passage I have come across in which he is ever mentioned.'[646] These passages are few.

O’Leary was a decided humourist: no one conversing with him felt quite sure when he meant to be serious. In the ‘talk’ that passed he may have played the diplomat. We have seen how Orde distrusted him. To a request blandly urged in personal converse by a statesman who had already pensioned him, this friar, existing merely by connivance, could not afford to assume attitudes of offended dignity. A glimpse of his precarious position is caught from a speech of Grattan’s:–

At the time that this very man lay under the censure of a law which, in his own country, made him subject to transportation or death, from religious distinctions, and at the time that a prince of his own religion threatened this country with an invasion, this respectable character took up his pen and, unsolicited and without a motive but that of real patriotism, urged his own communion to peace, and to support the law which had sentenced himself to transportation.[647]

Nepean and Orde suggested certain inquiries which O’Leary was to make; but who can tell at what point of these inquiries the practised casuist may have meant to draw the line? A hundred pounds a year, which Nepean says he named, seems marvellously small for the magnitude and risk of the service expected. Orde writes on September 8, 1784, expressing satisfaction that Nepean, in London, had ‘settled matters with O’Leary, who can get to the bottom of all secrets in which the Catholics are concerned, and they are certainly the chief promoters of our present disquietude.’ A fortnight later, after an interview with the priest at Dublin Castle, he adds, (September 24, 1784): ‘O’Leary has it in his power, if we can depend upon him, to discover to us the real designs of the Catholics, from which quarter, after all, the real mischief is to spring.’ O’Leary must have known that, in 1784, no treasonable designs were harboured by the Catholics, and probably felt that he would be safe in making the inquiries prescribed. Mr. Lecky, a most patient historic investigator, a man who has searched more secret sources of sound information than any other writer of Irish history, while he considers that the letters just quoted prove O’Leary a spy (p. 369), yet, in describing this very time, doubts

whether the Catholics themselves took any considerable part in these agitations. For a long period an almost death-like torpor hung over the body, and, though they formed the great majority of the Irish people, they hardly counted even in movements of opinion. Even when they were enrolled in volunteer corps there were no traces of Catholic leaders. There was, it is true, still a Catholic Committee which watched over Catholic interests; Lord Kenmare and a few other leading Catholics were in frequent communication with the Government; two or three Catholic bishops at this time did good service in repressing Whiteboyism; and Dr. Troy, who was then Bishop of Ossory, received the warm thanks of the Lord-Lieutenant;[648] but for the most part the Catholics stood wholly apart from political agitation.

I do not like repetitions; but they are sometimes a necessity, as in judicial summing-up. Twelve days after O’Leary had been set to work, the Chief Secretary at Dublin Castle seems quite dissatisfied with him. The tone in which our humourist’s reports were pitched may be guessed from the following passage in a later pamphlet from his pen[649]:–

Lord Chesterfield, on his return from his Viceroyship, informed George II. that he had met in Ireland but two dangerous Papists, of whom His Majesty should be aware–two [comely] ladies named Devereux, who had danced at the Castle on the King’s birth-night. All the viceroys of Ireland, from Lord Chesterfield to Earl Camden, could have made a much similar answer, if interrogated, concerning what is called the danger of Popery.[650]

Whether from this tone, or from other causes, the Government became quite disappointed with their man; for, as Plowden states, they withheld his pension, and ‘an arbitrary refusal for many years threw the reverend pensioner on his friends for subsistence.’ ‘The unexplained cause,’ noticed by Dr. England,[651] may, perhaps, here be guessed. O’Leary, as Sydney states, consented, in 1784, to make the secret inquiries which Orde wished, and probably to offer such advice as his experience should suggest; but the idea thrown out at an early stage of this study seems likely enough,–that, after he had made due efforts to find out the truth, he pleasantly assured the Government that no French emissaries had been to Dublin at all; that the Catholics were loyal subjects; and, instead of a slumbering volcano, that Rutland had found a mare’s nest! This Viceroy’s letter will be remembered in which he drew a highly sensational picture of alleged secret doings in Dublin. It was he who first urged on Sydney the wisdom of securing O’Leary as a spy, and Sydney soon after reports the negotiation as successful. But we have no testimony from Nepean with whom the interview took place. When Rutland spoke, Orde spoke; the act of one was the act of the other. Both were equally fluent as correspondents; but during the three subsequent years that they held office at Dublin Castle, we find no letters from either announcing any discoveries made by O’Leary, and which, no doubt, they would have been only too glad to do as confirming their own forecast, and building up a reputation for subtle statesmanship.

More troublesome times came within the next ten years: the Society of United Irishmen spread with alarming rapidity; and if O’Leary had any wish to play the spy, he had now a grand opportunity by simulating ardent patriotism like McNally and others. His great sermon in 1797 was a declaration of war against French principles, and against all who adopted the policy of revolution. Again, when it became necessary for him to preach the panegyric of Pius VI., who died at this time, he went out of his way to run full tilt against democracy. The ‘Courier,’ a popular organ, thus describes it:–

Abounding with glowing imagery, classical allusion, and displaying in every sentence the energy of an enlightened and vigorous mind, the Doctor took occasion to felicitate his flock, in the most emphatic terms, on the happiness enjoyed in this country, on the constitution and state of which he pronounced a fine panegyric, happily applying to the extent of our dominion and national glory the line of the poet–

Imperium Oceano, famamque terminat astris.

O’Leary’s friends will hope that it was by this tone, rather than by playing the ignominious rôle of a spy, that he sought to regain governmental favour.

The sole remaining letter in the carefully preserved records of the informers of ’98 which names O’Leary must not be excluded here. Things had quite changed since 1784. Higgins, in a secret letter to Dublin Castle, dated January 2, 1798, says:–

I took leave to inform you, some time since, that many Roman Catholics seem apparently sorry for the lengths they’ve been led, and suggested, if O’Leary, or any popular preacher, was to exert himself among them, thousands would come to swear allegiance. I know O’Leary would be a tower of strength among them. He was their first champion, and is most highly respected by the multitude. His writings and preaching prevented the White Boys and insurgents of the South from joining the rabble of Cork and rising en masse at the period when the combined fleets of Spain, France, etc., were in the English Channel.[652]

Higgins does not say that O’Leary authorised him to make this proposition; and even had he done so, it cannot be deemed base.

Orde’s letters to the Home Office in 1784, though urging extreme caution lest he and his colleagues should be themselves betrayed, show him to be impulsive in statement, and prone to jump to conclusions. These letters, blemished by an occasional expletive, are printed by Mr. Lecky. Orde is quite sanguine as regards wonderful Catholic secrets that O’Leary would unearth, but this is not the only case in which he exhibits rashness of assumption.

These notes must now end. If their freedom and fulness need justification, it is found, perhaps, in O’Leary’s own words. He had meditated a history of the political events of 1780.

The duty of the Historian [he writes] binds him to arraign at the impartial tribunal of truth both men and actions; unmask the leading characters; examine into their motives; lay open the hidden springs of proceedings, whether worthy of applause, or deserving to be doomed to censure; and embellish his narrative with suitable reflections. No person is obliged to write a history [he adds], but when he writes it he must tell the truth.[653]

A word remains to be said respecting Parker, the second agent named in Orde’s letter of 1784. He is not so easily identified as Father O’Leary. The Irish books which treat of the period may be vainly searched for the name of Parker. It has been said that the adventurous spirit, who thirteen years later aroused by his eloquence the British navy to mutiny, was identical or connected with Orde’s agent. I do not bind myself to the truth of this theory; nor am I able to prove a negative; but certainly some circumstances support it worthy of consideration; and having promised in a former chapter to recur to Parker of the Nore, I am afforded an opportunity for doing so by Mr. Froude’s account of the secret mission to Dublin. Orde’s agent arrived there in September 1784, to overreach and, as we are told, outmouth noisy patriots. It is true that Parker the mutineer was finally executed by the English authorities; but Jemmy O’Brien, the spy, also swung at the same hands. The former had received a classical education, and had served in the navy during the American War. His character was bad. His irrepressible oratory and power of influencing minds got him into scrapes. He married a woman with some property, which he dissipated, and was then imprisoned for debt. Released at length, he was sent on board the royal fleet as a ‘supernumerary seaman,’ to quote Portland’s proclamation offering 500l. for his arrest. ‘The address, ready eloquence, but, above all,’ says Rose, ‘the deep dissimulation he possessed, gave him vast influence over his comrades.’ If true that Parker was sent on board the fleet to counteract mutiny, the result only shows that it is possible for an extinguisher to take fire. In his written defence, read on the fourth day of his trial, he ‘solemnly declared that his only object of entering into the mutiny was that of checking a most dangerous spirit of revolt which had prevailed in the different ships, the bad effects of which he had done all in his power to prevent.’ How he fanned the flame of mutiny, and on its outburst was appointed ‘President,’ we have already seen. This was in 1797. Who is the Parker, with persuasive oratorical powers, that is sent on a questionable mission to Ireland in 1784? It may be said that this cannot be Parker who afterwards figured at the Nore, because at the time of the secret mission to Dublin he was serving in the navy at a far distant place. The following words of Gorton make it hard to prove an ‘alibi’ for Richard Parker.[654] After describing his service during the American War, Gorton writes: ‘On peace taking place he retired from his professional duties.’ American independence had been won in 1778; but the articles of peace were not signed by England until November 30, 1782. Therefore Parker could be easily in Dublin in 1784. Mr. Froude’s remarks about him are meagre, but it may be gleaned that the Parker of ’84 was a man qualified and ready to keep a dark diary of what he observed. Parker of the Nore had the same habit. When he was searched, an elaborate diary of the proceedings which had taken place on shipboard was found. Parker’s wife testified to the fact that he was rhapsodical and eccentric, but the plea failed to save his life. Orde, in announcing the arrival of Parker of ’84, speaks of his ‘rhapsodies,’ and avows a misgiving that he might not act discreetly. The written defence of Parker of the Nore was highly rhapsodical, and the reverse of discreet. But he had abundant talent. Parker of ’84 is described as an accomplished orator, and a good hand at sedition. So was Richard Parker. The former was an expert in dissimulation. The same character is given of Richard Parker by Rose. It may be also noteworthy that Orde’s agent hailed from London. Mr. Froude assumes that Parker was an Irishman; the name is certainly English.

The ‘Courier’ of October 14, 1797, records some conversations with Richard Parker which afford a sample of the rhapsodical eloquence which had so often entranced his audience. An officer on board the ship that held him prisoner expressed impatience at not getting ahead, as the winds were contrary. ‘What!’ said Parker, ‘are you not satisfied with having an admiral of the British fleet in chains, but you must also usurp the command of the elements? Or, because you have the honour to be my executioner, are you likewise as mad as the Persian tyrant who ordered his minions to lash the waves?’ Much more of his talk is given. The ‘Courier’ states that ‘from peculiar energy of intellect, his diction, even in common conversation, was bold and original.’

FOOTNOTES:

[603] The Viceroy of Ireland.

[604] Memoirs of the Courts and Cabinets of George III., from Original Family Documents, by the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, 1853.

[605] Ibid.

[606] Dr. England, the first biographer of O’Leary, mentions that his pension had been charged on the Irish Establishment.

[607] Narrative of the Misunderstanding between Rev. A. O’Leary and Rev. Mr. Hussey, p. 11. (Dublin, 1791.)

[608] Life of O’Leary, by Rev. T. England, p. 190.

[609] The good Priest does not quite deny the statement though seeming to do so.

[610] With Lord Moira, too–a great Whig power in those days–O’Leary was specially intimate; and it was this peer who erected in St. Pancras the monument to his ‘virtues and talents,’ for which the Tablet newspaper, fifty years later, opened a subscription list to restore,–in such enduring honour was the memory of this marvellous friar held.

[611] England’s Life of O’Leary, p. 289. (London, 1822.)

[612] See ante, p. 214.

[613] Life of the Rev. A. O’Leary, by the Rev. M. B. Buckley, pp. 304-5.

[614] Vide ante, p. 213.

[615] See Alison’s History of Europe, ii. 30, 203, 425.

[616] See p. 218, ante.

[617] Buckley’s O’Leary, p. 306.

[618] Cumberland’s Memoirs, ii. 62-5. (London, 1807.) Dr. Hussey had died four years previous to their publication.

[619] Ibid.

[620] Previously, Dr. Hussey is found at Vienna, hand in glove with the Emperor Joseph of Austria. See England’s O’Leary, p. 199.

[621] A Narrative of the Misunderstanding, etc. p. 7.

[622] Cumberland’s Memoirs, ii. 2.

[623] Del Campo lived in the well-known palatial structure opposite the old chapel in Spanish Place, described by Thackeray as ‘Gaunt House,’ and lately occupied by Sir Richard Wallace. The defeat of the Armada in 1588 had marked an epoch in the history of the British Empire, and Englishmen uneasily regarded the feasts and intrigues in Manchester Square.

[624] One, published in ‘April, 1784, by Keating, of Bond Street,’ displays the following fine sentiment: ‘Let not religion–the sacred name of religion–which even in the face of an enemy discovers a brother, be any longer a wall of separation to keep us asunder.’

[625] A Narrative of the Misunderstanding between the Rev. Arthur O’Leary and the Rev. Mr. Hussey. (Dublin: printed at No. 75, Aungier Street, 1791.)

[626] Ibid. p. 13.

[627] O’Leary’s comment on Hussey’s treatment of his picture is amusing. ‘When Constantine the Great was informed that stones were cast at his statue, he rubbed his forehead and said that he did not feel himself hurt. And I can say that my body was not lacerated when my picture was torn.’

[628] Why Dr. Berington, Bishop of the Midland District, should be called in was, clearly, because a schism threatened the diocese in consequence of the Pope appointing Dr. Douglas bishop in opposition to the strenuous efforts made by the Catholic Committee to get Dr. Berington translated to London. Several lay members of that league went so far as to maintain that the clergy and laity ought to choose their own bishops without any reference to Rome, and procure their consecration at the hands of any other lawful bishop. After the appointment of Dr. Douglas, they even threatened to pronounce it ‘obnoxious and improper.’ Dr. Berington, however, addressed a printed letter to the London clergy, resigning all pretension to the London vicariate, and soon the schismatical opposition to Dr. Douglas was withdrawn. See Brady’s Catholic Hierarchy in England, pp. 178-9. (Rome, 1877.)

[629] On visiting this chapel, in 1888, a fine relic of the ancient splendour of Spain, I found it very much as it was in the days of Father O’Leary. A study of Dr. Hussey’s face, by Gainsborough, is preserved here, as well as some maps and papers in the autograph of the former. The foundation stone of a new church to replace it, and near the old one, was laid by Cardinal Manning, on June 27, 1887, in presence of the Infanta of Spain and the Spanish minister. Canon Barry, the present pastor, mentions an interesting tradition connected with Tyburn tree, which, as is well known, stood near the Marble Arch: ‘The Chapel of the Spanish Embassy was, during the dark days of persecution, a special home for Catholics. Many a martyr on his way to Tyburn received the blessing of the chaplain of the embassy and was aided by the prayers offered in the Spanish Chapel for perseverance in his conflict for the faith.’ The Canon, in the course of a statistical detail, adds: ‘When war between England and Spain broke out, the usual payments made by Spain for the support of the chapel fell 4,000l. into arrears. Diplomatic relations having been again suspended between England and Spain in 1805, the chapel was confided to the care of Don Miguel de la Torre.’

[630] Del Campo ceased, soon after, to be Spanish minister to St. James’s, and was succeeded by the Chevalier Azara. The latter had great influence at the Vatican, and proposed that Dr. Hussey should be the channel of communication between the Pope and the British Government. Castlereagh Papers iii. 86.

[631] An historic writer, Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, famous rather for pleasant gossip than for strict accuracy, states that the Spanish embassy in London maintained friendly relations with England. But what was the prevailing idea in Spanish diplomatic circles at this time is traceable in a despatch of Talleyrand published last year (1890) by M. Pallain. Talleyrand states, on the authority of the personal assurance of the Spanish minister, that nearly all the sailors who man the British fleet are Irish, and from love of country would turn their guns on England. The accurate number will be found set forth at p. 114, ante.

[632] The sermon was preached in St. Patrick’s, Soho, where O’Leary mainly officiated. Last year (1891) the chapel was in process of demolition.

[633] Vide chap. xi. ante.

[634] Father Buckley, the biographer of O’Leary, died soon after the date of the following letter. It notices a weakness, of which a paid purveyor of news, like Higgins, would be apt to take ready advantage. Shamado is likely to have been the more successful because his own character of a brain-sucker and betrayer had not then been unmasked. On December 7, 1869, Father Buckley writes from SS. Peter and Paul’s, Cork: ‘The Personal Memoirs have arrived, and I am much pleased with them. The sketch of O’Leary I am sorry I had not seen, to embody in my book. I fear, however, it would not have tended much to enhance the esteem of the good padre’s character, inasmuch as, in the background of the picture, there is a strong steam of whisky-punch, and the narrative affords a strong confirmation of what Michael Kelly records that Father O’Leary, like himself, was rather partial to “Saint Patrick’s Eye-Water.”

[635] It cannot be said that this agency was of a base character. In 1795, Dr. Hussey announces to Edmund Burke that the Catholics were loyal and ready to spill their blood to resist the French (Lecky, vii. 90). Mr. Lecky states that he was ‘constantly employed by the Government in negotiations with the Irish Catholics.’ In September 1794, Dr. Hussey, then an employé of the Crown, comes over to consult with the Catholic bishops at Dublin on new measures of education (Lecky, vii. 121). The foundation of Maynooth College was the result.

[636] Higgins to Cooke, September 1, 1797. (MSS. Dublin Castle.)

[637] Vide ‘Fathers of the Turf,’ in St. James’s Gazette, January 6, 1881. The writer adds that O’Kelly is said to have held post-obits to a large amount, ‘and his transactions were upon so large a scale that he might be seen turning over “quires” of bank-notes in search of a “little one,” by which term he meant one for £50.’ In the Registry of Deeds Office, Dublin, is preserved a document, dated February 12, 1819, whereby the Marquis of Donegal secures to O’Kelly the sum of 27,934l. 12s. 4d., a gambling debt, and O’Kelly is described as Andrew Denis O’Kelly, Esq., son and heir apparent of Philip Kelly, Esq., deceased. ‘Colonel’ O’Kelly died in 1820, leaving no children.

[638] Life of O’Leary, by the Rev. M. B. Buckley, p. 357 (italics in original).

[639] Vide Ireland before the Union, 6th ed. pp. 211-15. (Dublin: Duffy.)

[640] Grattan’s Life, by his Son. Those who may suppose that O’Leary forgot the priest in the diplomat, should see Father Morgan D’Arcy’s account of the reforms he effected in the demoralised region of St. Giles. Vide Buckley, pp. 397 et seq.

[641] Life of O’Leary, by Rev. M. B. Buckley, p. 359.

[642] See ante, p. 213.

[643] Ireland before the Union, pp. 211-15.

[644] Life of the Rev. Arthur O’Leary, by the Rev. M. B. Buckley, p. 355.

[645] See ante, p. 218.

[646] W. E. H. Lecky, Esq. to W. J. F., October 28, 1890.

[647] Parliamentary Register, Feb. 26, 1782.

[648] In a letter signed by Orde.

[649] Address to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, p. 12. (London, 1800.)

[650] O’Leary does not tell this anecdote correctly. It was not of two ladies named Devereux, but of a famous beauty, Miss Ambrose, that Chesterfield made this joke; and it was told, not to George II., but to Lord North. Chesterfield addressed the following impromptu to Miss Ambrose at a viceregal ball:–

‘Pretty Tory, where’s the jest
Of wearing orange on a breast
Which, in whiteness, doth disclose
The beauty of the rebel rose?’

[651] See ante, p. 220.

[652] Francis Higgins to Under-Secretary Cooke. (MSS. Dublin Castle.)

[653] Postscript to Miscellaneous Tracts, 1781.

[654] Richard Parker is usually described as a common sailor. A statement from his widow appears in the Courier of July 5, 1797: she claimed Parker’s corpse, and, when asked by the admiral for what purpose, she answered, ‘To have him interred like a gentleman, as he had been bred.’ The request was refused. Parker’s corpse remained exposed for years on the island of Sheppey, hung in chains until it dropped to pieces at last. The London Courier of the day insists that he had been for some time a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

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