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lency, 'whether it can be possible that I was a party to the commemoration of a lawless and most disgraceful conflict, in which much of the blood of my fellow-subjects was spilt, and the immediate consequence of which was, as testified at the time by all the leading men and magistrates of the county, to place that part of the country at the mercy of an ungovernable mob?'
“I am disposed to think that when you put a question in a form like this, you can hardly expect, on cool reflection, that I should condescend to answer it—at least, I would imagine you could expect no other answer than one which I hold superfluous, namely, that I am not capable of being a party to the commemoration of anything lawless or disgraceful !' I would request, if I am ever again to be favoured by a question which you are directed to propose, that it may be expressed in terms better calculated to invite an answer, and more likely also to be understood. I must say your letter does not appear to me very intelligible.
“ His Excellency seems to assume that the statement in a public newspaper authorises a call upon me to contradict or confirm it. I had the honour to entertain several of my friends at dinner on the day to which your letter refers. I am bold to affirm that at that entertainment nothing took place which loyal and honourable men would hesitate to own most frankly. But I speak, I am confident, the sentiments of my friends, and of every gentleman whose freedom is not restrained by official station, when I say that a question like this in your letter ought not to be proposed to me, and that I am bound to decline replying to it.”
The following passage which occurred in the letter was understood to imply that the writer did not know to what conflict the Under Secretary referred
“ Upon the various misrepresentations, unintentional, I have no doubt, which your letter contains, I have no desire to comment. I feel it necessary only to assure you that, of all the conflicts which took place at any of the various places called by the name of 'Diamond' in the county of Armagh, there is none to which your description is, in the least degree, applicable."
These letters having been published, the reply of the Under Secretary to the subterfuge of the Orange grandee was looked for by the public with considerable curiosity. The answer came on 5th September, as if from Lord Morpeth ; it was the joint composition, however, of Drummond, Lord Morpeth, and Woulfe.
“DUBLIN CASTLE, September 5, 1837. “SIR,—I have had the honour of submitting to the LordLieutenant your letter of the 29th ultimo.
“His Excellency regrets that you should have had any difficulty in understanding the letter addressed to you on the 22d August. But for such an assurance, his Excellency would not have supposed that the unsatisfactory nature of your answer could, in any degree, have been ascribed to that cause.
“As a magistrate, appointed to administer justice between Her Majesty's Protestant and Roman Catholic subjects, his Excellency desired that you should be called upon to state whether, at an election dinner, of which an account appeared at length in a public paper, you had proposed, or been a party to the proposal of, a toast commemorative of a sanguinary feud between the Protestants and Roman Catholics of Armagh. By whom, or to whom, that dinner was given-on what occasion, or in what place—his Excellency considers a matter of comparative indifference; but, as head of the Executive Government in Ireland, it concerns him to know whether you and other gentlemen in the commission held up such an event as that known by the name of The Battle of the Diamond,' as one deserving of being commemorated.
"You profess yourself unable to recognise the conflict alluded to under the above title, by reason of the many such conflicts which have unhappily occurred in the county of Armagh, at places called by the name of the Diamond. If his Excellency could have anticipated that you would have experienced, from this cause, any difficulty in replying to the question addressed
to you, he would have referred you to your own evidence, published in the Report of the Committee on Orange Lodges in Ireland, and more especially to the following question and answer, No 92:
Question - The Battle of Diamond Hill took place the 21st of September 1795—did it not ?' Answer—' It did.'
“His Excellency need scarcely observe, that the number of such conflicts does not render the commemoration of one or more of them less objectionable, or make it less imperative on him to ascertain the fact of magistrates having joined in such a proceeding.
“On account of the long-continued and bitter animosities springing from religious differences, which have disturbed the good order of society, and led to the most lamentable consequences, especially in the county of Armagh, the Legislature has declared certain acts to be penal in Ireland, which, in other parts of the empire, are not only not punishable, but not blamable, because perfectly harmless. If an assemblage of persons, even less in number than those who were present at the election dinner in question, should walk in procession through the streets, bearing party emblems or playing party tunes, they should thereby subject themselves to the punishment of the law; and it may be known to you, that many have suffered imprisonment, and many are at this moment amenable to the law, for no greater offence.
The peasant thus offending is, in his Excellency's opinion, less culpable than the man of station and education who, on an occasion to which publicity is given through the public press, celebrates a lawless action arising out of the civil discords of his country, in which the lives of many of his countrymen were lost, as an event the remembrance of which it is desirable to perpetuate with honour.
“The former offends against a positive enactment; the latter, keeping within the letter, violates the spirit of the law, counteracts the object and intention of the Legislature, and thwarts the exertions of the Government to carry them into effect.
“ If you and other gentlemen had not seemed to question
the proposition, his Excellency would have considered it too obvious and incontrovertible to require to be stated, that, if any meeting of persons is held—no matter under what circumstances of apparent privacy-and if such persons take such steps to permit, or do not take steps to prevent, publicity being given to their opinions and proceedings, they are as fully and justly answerable for whatever effect these may have, or may be calculated to have, on the well-being of society, as if such meeting had been held with open doors, or in the open air. But that is a question which does not arise in the present
The meeting to which his Excellency drew your attention was, in every respect, public, and not private. It was attended by every circumstance which distinguishes a public from a private meeting. It was a dinner given at a public hotel, on the occasion of a public election, to celebrate a public event; public toasts were given, and political speeches made, as usual at public dinners; the entire proceedings were reported in detail, in a public newspaper, as public intelligence. The newspaper which first reported the proceedings was one not likely to misrepresent what had happened to your prejudice.
Conceiving the occurrence reported to be such that a participation in it would disqualify you and others invested with the powers of a magistrate from beneficially exercising your authority, and would naturally and deservedly cause your fellow-subjects of the Roman Catholic creed to withdraw their confidence in your administration of justice, his Excellency, in the exercise of his bounden duty, called on you and them to state whether the report was correct.
“ It is the invariable practice, when any representation is made to Government affecting the character and usefulness of a magistrate or other public officer, for whose appointment or continuance the Executive Government is responsible, to communicate such representation to him, before any proceedings are taken thereon, that he may have an opportunity of explaining or disavowing the statements made to his prejudice. That course was followed in the present instance, and his Excellency conceives that he had a right to expect a distinct and unequivocal avowal or disavowal of your having been a party to the pro
ceedings in question, or a satisfactory explanation that the nature and tendency of the proceeding did not deserve the character imputed to it.
“ His Excellency deems the public considerations dependent upon this transaction to be of such importance, that he is less inclined to remark upon the extraordinary tone in which your whole letter is written, considering that it is an answer to an official communication, addressed by direction of Her Majesty's Representative, to a gentleman holding a commission of the peace, and requiring an explanation of his conduct.
Upon a full consideration of the case, his Excellency will deen it expedient to recommend to the Lord-Chancellor that you should not be included in the new commission of the peace about to be issued, and will also direct your name to be omitted from the revised list of Deputy-Lieutenants for the county of Tyrone.--I have, &c.,
The original draft of this letter remains in the Secretary's Office in Dublin, where it has been recovered by General Larcom. Mr Brady says of it—"This original draft is curious, as showing the composite character of these official letters. It appears from a pencil memorandum on the margin, that the first draft was sent to the Lord-Lieutenant without the three paragraphs commencing with the words, 'You profess yourself,' &c., and ending with into effect.' When these were added, I suppose by Drummond, it must have been submitted to Lord Morpeth, by whom the last paragraph but one, His Excellency deems the public considerations, &c.,' to the word "conduct,' is inserted in his own handwriting, with another which was afterwards struck out; and the words at the end of the letter, ‘for the county of Tyrone,' are in red ink, in Drummond's writing. According to my recollection, the paragraph in which the public character of the transaction is