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“ I asked Courtney-for I like to trace motives--if he had not some personal provocation, for the acrimony of his answer seemed to involve it? Courtney said, he had. That when in Ireland, (being an Irishman,) at the bar of the Irish house of commons, Flood had made a personal and unfair attack on himself, who, not being a member of that house, could not defend himself; and that some years afterwards, the opportunity of retort offering in the English parliament, he could not resist it.”*
A dissolution of parliament speedily followed, and the consequence to Mr Flood was a vexatious controversy with the duke of Chandos, who refused to put him in nomination a second time. Of this refusal the grounds are indistinctly and partially stated in a tedious correspondence between the parties concerned and their friends, which occupy thirty quarto pages of Mr Flood's correspondence. To a first apprehension of the case, it would seem that the duke involved both himself and Mr Flood in inextricable embarrassments, by want of proper candour and firmness, in announcing his change of purpose, with the real motives, in their first conception. It would appear that he was offended by Mr Flood's declarations of perfect independence, but was reluctant to say so, and took shelter in subterfuges dependent on recollected conversations and implied understandings. Mr Flood retorted similar arguments; and both have, we think, preserved the appearance of speciousness, by stating the question upon the grounds severally most advantageous to the stater. The duke urges that he could not have intended to nominate Mr Flood to a “perpetuity” in his borough; that Mr Flood had stated his wishes to be confined to the present parliament; and that he had even engaged to vacate his seat, should any cause of dissatisfaction arise. But to such arguments it could be answered, that these were but considerations purely incidental, and never reduced into specific pledges; while there were certain very obvious and simple understandings, founded on the general sense entertained in all dealings between men of honour, on which Mr Flood had a right to count. The duke had made use of occasional expressions, such as to impress on Mr Flood that it was his design to support him in the next election; and such support appeared a condition so evidently involved in the entire of the transaction referred to its objects, that no cause of change could clearly exempt the duke from the obligation of giving a seasonable notice. But in addition to this consideration, it was asserted by Mr Flood, and admitted by the duke, that he had actually authorized Mr Flood to take certain steps relative to a second election.t The fairest view of the question is, after all, that contained in the following statement, taken from one of Mr Flood's letters to the duke:-“ The duke expressed his intention, as well after Christmas as before, that Mr Flood should come in for Winchester this parliament . . . . Mr Flood is free to say that intentions repeatedly declared in serious matters, and between serious men, embarking persons of a certain description in concerns of depth
* We are indebted for these extracts on this point, to the industry of Mr Warden Flood, who has brought them together in his memoir of H. Flood.
| This statement will be found in the correspondence.
and moment, affecting their whole situation, held on to the last moment, and till opportunities are lost that cannot be retrieved ;-he is free to say, that in his mind, and, as he conceives, in that of all mankind, such circumstances do constitute a serious ground of obligation to all the feelings of honour.” It would be refining, to an extent beyond the importance of the subject, to lay down the precise limits, and to point out the accurate application of so general a position. The truth seems to be, that the duke did not himself conceive the objection on which he afterwards acted, until it was suggested by his attorney, and by some of the electors. When this communication had occurred, it was late to repair the effect of any change of intention by a notice, for which the seasonable moment had passed-while it was considered by the duke too much to be expected that he should hazard his interest, or lower his political importance, by persisting in favour of Mr Flood. In his correspondence, he is necessarily compelled to touch this fact lightly, and with the utmost caution, reminding Mr Flood that there is a consideration which is too delicate for explicit discussion. It might, under the whole circumstances, be not unreasonably expected by the duke, that Mr Flood would see that he was placed in a position of some embarrassment, and, as is to be presumed in such cases, take this embarrassment into account.
The correspondence on this occasion was continued for some weeks; intermediate parties were called in, but seemed to shrink from the uncompromising violence of Mr Flood, who evidently aimed to bring the question to the decision of arms—the savage resort of the time. This result was averted by the quiet obstinacy of the duke, who held his ground in the dispute without even recognising the angry tone and the insinuated hostility of his adversary. We shall only add to these general statements, that on viewing the whole question, and the entire correspondence of both parties concerned, we are not quite satisfied that either appears in the most favourable light. On the duke's part, there is much of that shuffling which arises from weakness of character; on that of Mr Flood, inordinate self-assertion, and a temper inconsiderate of others.
In 1784, Mr Flood received an invitation from some voters of the borough of Seaford; and Mr Peter Burrowes, then a student in the Temple, was employed to act as his representative on the occasion. After two defeats, arising from illegal conduct of adverse parties, which in each case caused the returns to be vacated, Mr Flood was elected.
Concerning the remainder of his career we must endeavour to be very brief. On several subsequent occasions he sustained his parliamentary reputation, by displays of high oratorical power, not unworthy of his best days in the Irish house of commons. He was thus become a member of the parliament in both kingdoms, and was not remiss in either.
He continued to engage actively, though unsuccessfully, in the question of parliamentary reform in his own country. In the year 1785, the commercial regulations were introduced by Mr Secretary Orde. Against these Mr Flood took a very leading and prominent part, to which we shall revert and endeavour to do justice, when engaged in the details of this portion of our history. On the proposal for a commercial treaty with France, in 1787, his efforts in the British parliament deserve, and have received, much high and wellmerited praise.
In 1790, he attempted to introduce a scheme of reform in the Eng. lish house of commons; but the times were altered, and it was evident that the question at that moment stood on different and peculiar grounds. The infidel and disorganizing tendency of the principles then diffused, with the usual energy of fanaticism, throughout the kingdom, had awakened a salutary fear in the public mind. Mr Flood had lived too long in the contemplation of tempestuous and irregular political workings to be easily alarmed, or to be very keenly alive to the first vibrations of the wave of change, then in its beginning. His views had been framed in and for Ireland; and his habits of thinking mainly adjusted to the peculiar condition of this country. It was also pre-eminently a part of his temper to adhere to his own views. On a mind like his, broad and deep, but rooted like the oak to which he was compared, it is no reproach to say that the powerful, and seemingly unanswerable expositions of Mr Burke, which changed the current of that critical time and saved England, had no influence upon him. But in this he stands with Fox, and many other men of equal and superior powers; nor can he be fairly depreciated for the want of that higher and more comprehensive state-philosophy, which so many able men were bereft of, and which but one possessed. It is, indeed, one of the curious and interesting phenomena of history, to observe how little knowledge of the actual laws of human change of the working of great social processes-and, in a word, of the moral forces in operation on human events, there is to be discovered in the government of councils, or in the opinions of the most eminent politicians. The power of arguing points--the comprehensive command and array of facts--the rapid perception of present realities and immediate consequences—and the ready penetration into the actuating motives of the opponent or the ally: these will be mostly observed in various degrees to enter into the combination of qualities which constitute the statesman. They are easily apprehended by the criticism of the vulgar, being but more powerful and efficient developments of the common sense of the multitude. Hence the general error of judgment as to what is called consistency; the apprehension of the crowd will cleave to names and conventions when (looking to the actual constitution of things) their sense has virtually changed. And hence, also, in a still higher degree, the risk he runs of being misunderstood, who looks at human events through the medium of principles, and consequently perceives and points out results which a more remote period yet hides from the narrowness of ordinary vision.
Looking exclusively to the rudiments of constitutional theory, as expounded by lawyers, casuists, and historical writers, it is easy to maintain the question in favour of parliamentary reform-a desideratum of all times, while the world endures—and the man whose learning goes no further than these conditions, must always, and under all circumstances, preserve one rigid line; he will maintain the cause of reform in the midst of universal confusion; he will purify by fire when the conflagration is breaking out. But it was no time to talk
about reform in England,* when the foul progeny of revolution was swarming into every hamlet through the land. We must not, however, be tempted to digress upon a topic which will call for our more extensive consideration hereafter, when we must repeat and expand the foregoing reflections. Mr Flood was an eloquent orator of the first rank, and no inferior casuist; he was firm, independent, and took an honest and fair course; he was perfectly consistent, according to his principles of acting and judging, and we must confess that we should not have here branched into these comments, had we not been provoked by the reflections thrown out among some of his biographers, who have, with the very common fault of this class of writers, thought it necessary to elevate him by the disparagement of another, who acted differently in the same juncture of events. Mr Flood's speech on the subject of reform, so far as we have been enabled to form any judgment, is indeed remarkable for its soundness and constitutional knowledge, and amply supports the character which he possessed.
It may be considered as the close of his career. In the following parliament he was excluded, as his biographer states, by the efforts of both parties. He retired to Farmley, where he is represented as suffering from the painful sense of undeserved slight. The sentiment is such as few eminent political men would, under similar circumstances, be likely to escape; and Mr Flood's proud, ambitious, and resentful tone of mind, must have been more than ordinarily liable to such affections. He was suffering from an attack of gout, when he ventured to expose his person imprudently on the occasion of a fire breaking out in his premises. A cold, terminating in pleurisy, followed, and caused his death, on the 2d of December, 1791.
Mr Flood, on the lowest impartial estimate, must be reckoned among the first public men of his day. As an orator, inferior to few; as a political casuist, superior to most. His style, firm, well arranged, simple, and perspicuous; his method of reasoning always ingenious and full of art; frequently just, forcible, and satisfactory. He was master of the general elements of constitutional polity, and on many great questions used his knowledge with a power which cannot easily be overrated. In the earlier part of his public life, though living among eminent men, he was without a rival. In later years, when he was placed side by side with a few who were of more ascendant powers and who claimed an equal place, he was, we cannot help feel. ing, in a considerable degree affected by a temper not framed to be patient of comparison. Generous, honourable, kindly affectioned, and a sincere lover of Ireland, his character was deeply tinctured with pride and self-importance; and as life advanced, in the strife with party and individual, a large portion of acrimony appears to have been gradually mingled in the mass.
Concerning those parts of his public conduct which have been questioned, we have expressed our opinion in the course of this memoir, with that degree of reserve which ought, we think, to be observed in every attempt to penetrate the motives of an individual. Without
* Mr Flood's answer to this very objection is an evasion; but it is worthy of his master Demosthenes, as a specimen of clear, pointed, and condensed oratory.
assenting to the imputations of his opponents, we would deduct considerably from the too indiscriminate defences of his friends; and were we to enter on a precise analysis, we should incline to refer to the mixed motives so generally to be discovered at the root of human conduct. There are few so ignorant as not to have some perception of the manner in which a lurking self-interest will be spun round and adorned by the dexterity of reason, with a comely cloud of lofty and conscientious motives. This is but a reading of the prophet's adage, “ The heart is deceitful above all things,” &c. Any one who treads the common ways of life, and watches, as they deserve, the shiftings of human opinion, will not want examples.
Mr Flood's bequest to Ireland has been commemorated and commented upon in a little book which is itself an honourable monument. The following is the actual clause of his will:-“To the University of Ireland, commonly called Trinity College, Dublin, by whatsoever style, and under whatsoever title it is most properly and legally characterized and distinguished, to hold in fee and for ever for the purposes hereinafter mentioned; that is to say, I will and direct that, on their coming into possession of this my bequest, on the death of my said wife, they do institute and maintain, as a perpetual establishment, a professorship of, and for the native Irish, or Erse language, and that they do appoint, if he be still living, colonel Charles Vallancey to be the first professor thereof, with a salary of no less than £300 sterling a-year, that by his eminent and successful labours in the study and recovery of that language, he well deserves to be first appointed. And I will and appoint, that they do grant one annual and liberal premium for the best, and another for the next best composition in prose or verse, in the native Irish, or Erse language, upon some point of ancient history, government, religion, literature, or situation of Ireland; and also one other annual and liberal premium, one for the best, and another for the next best composition in English prose or verse, in commemoration of some of those great characters, either of ancient or modern nations, who have been eminently serviceable and honourable to their country-seeing that nothing stimulates to great deeds more strongly than great examples; and I will that the rents and profits of my said lands, houses, hereditaments, and estates, shall be further ap. plied by the said university to the purchase of all printed books and manuscripts in the said native Irish or Erse language, wheresoever to be obtained; and next, to the purchase of all printed books and manuscripts of the dialects and languages that are akin to the said native Irish, or Erse language; and then to the purchase of all valuable books, and editions of books, in the learned and in the modern polished lapguages."
Or Walter Hussey, who took in addition the name of Burgh, our records are scanty indeed, being confined to the scattered notices which