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your letter of yesterday, and I beg of you to accept my sincere thanks for your very polite and considerate attention.
- It is to me a mournful consolation to meet such generous sentiments from those, who must be afflicted at the late unhappy event. But, believe me, my regret at that event is most sincere and unaffected; and, if I know my own heart, I can, with the strictest truth assert, that no person can feel for the loss, society has sustained in the death of Mr. D'Esterre with more deep and lasting sorrow than I do.
“ Allow me again to thank you, Sir, for the courtesy of your letter--a courtesy quite consistent with the gentlemanly demeanour of your entire conduct on this melancholy transaction.
“ I have the honour to be, Sir,
“DANIEL O'CONNELL." 6 Sir Edward Stanley.”
One of the consequences of this duel was, that it fanned the flame of party spirit to an intensity, which actually threatened to subvert the happiness of domestic life. It penetrated into the bosom of families; the son rose against the father, the father against the son; the ties of ancient friendship and of brotherhood were broken asunder; consanguinity, lost its influence in society, and all the relations of human life'were diverted from their legitimate purpose to support the cause, which self interest or patriotism might have prompted the individual to espouse. Every engine, which the Protestants could set in motion, to blacken and defame the character of Mr. O'Connell, personal and professional, was greedily seized upon, and not the national character itself of the Irish, noble and generous as it is, stood in the way. Had O'Connell lived in the latitude of Madrid or of Lisbon, the assassin's dagger would have been in his heart, and hundreds would have followed up the blow, rather than their victim should escape. In vain was it reiterated by the friends of Mr O'Connell, that he was not the aggressorthat he sought not the blood of another man, and that whatever art he might have committed, he did commit it in self defence. Ile was a member of the great compact of human society, and, therefore, under the influence of its laws; but, said the moralist, the laws of honour, as they are so termed, are not founded on the basis of humanity or Christianity, and as such, Mr. O'Connell was not bound to obey them ; but, upon the same principle, it was overlooked on the part of Mr. O'Connell's opponent, who sought the conflict upon a false and perverted notion of a wounded reputation, and, therefore, on him, and on him alone was the burden of the iniquity to be placed. The conduct of Mr. O'Connell was not viewed through the medium of reason, justice, or impartiality, on the contrary, it was examined by the scale of political predilections and antipathies. In the opinion of Protestants Mr. O'Connell was a murderer; in the estimation of the pseudo-moralist, he had placed himself beyond the pale of Heaven's forgiveness. It was said, that the ultimate object to which all public exertions should be directed, should be the establishing of private virtue, and the ensurance of domestic felicity; Mr. O'Connell had, in the death of Mr. D'Esterre, falsified both; te, therefore, had abrogated from hin, self all claim to the character of a patriot, or of a virtuous
Such flimsy, superficial reasoning was, however, thrown away upon the partisans of Mr. O'Connell; like the arrows against the shield of Ajax, it fell fruitless, and in many instances contributed to produce a contrary effect, His own immediate party beheld in him, their champion, who gave all his mental energies in support of their righteous cause, and who was willing to shed his blood in its defence. If before he was worshipped, he was now idolized ;-if before, the members of "the beggarly corporation” evinced their fear of him, they now quailed before him, he stood before them, with the consciousness of having performed the part of a brave and honourable man. They were tacitly constrained to confess in the words of him who sat in judgement on the saviour of mankind, “We have found no fault in this man.”
In the estimate which is generally formed of the character of an individual, when the principles on which that estimate is founded, are the result of malevolence or hatred, it frequently
and fortunately happens, that in the blindness of our prejudice, we deny to him those very qualities, which he is known by his intimate acquaintance to possess in a very superior degree. Mr. O'Connell's opinions on the subject of duelling are well known to accord with the generality of those who move in the same sphere of life as himself; as a christian and a philanthropist he may decry and reprobate the custom, but as a man constrained to conform to the cor
common usages of society, he could not depart from them without exposing himself to the imputation of being under the influence of cowardice, a weakness never overlooked in the individual who pretends to the character of the well bred gentleman. The enemies of Mr. O'Connell, however, denounced him as a sanguinary, bloodthirsty Catholic, as a man who took delight in the shedding of the blood of the Protestant, and who was ready to draw his sword, or fire bis pisto, against all who professed a faith differing from his own. If, however, we follow Mr. O'Connell into private life, where the real character of the man truly and accurately exhibits itself, we there find him a man of much goodness of disposition, possessed of much benevolence, domestic feeling and kindness for the human race. There is scarcely one relation of life which Mr. O'Connell does not fulfil with exemplary rectitude; for although we in charity may overlook some of those indiscretions which are the concomitant of youth, we should not feel disposed to avert our view from them, were they exhibited at a riper age. In no instance did Mr. O'Connell ever, as a youth or a man, forfeit his claim to the character of a philanthropist or a moralist; and if such be the case, and there is no reason to doubt it, for his public career does any thing but contradict it, his being the instrument of the death of a fellow being, must have afforded him no little serious uneasiness; and, in fact, that such was the case, is evinced by the solemn step which he took of making a vow, which, he says, is registered in Heaven, that under no circumstances, nor under any provocation whatever, will he ever fight another duel. This circumstance has, however, been seized upon as a handle by his enemies to offer him the greatest insults, at the same
time that they allege against him, that he allows himself an unlimited excuse in his attacks upon others, from the consciousness that he is not to be called upon for that satisfaction, which an individual, under any other circumstances would be called upon to give. Frequently has it required an impurability of temper, a positive stoical apathy, to bear the taunts and sarcasms which his opponents in the House of Commons have levelled at him on this account. If, in the warmth of debate, he uttered a sentiment not exactly within the limits of parliamentary courtesy, he was taunted with the remark, that he would not have dared to make use of the offensive expression, if he did not know himself protected by his vow in heaven.
Mr. O'Connell had, however, scarcely recovered from the effect of his duel with Mr. D'Esterre, than he was involved in another hostile affray with Mr. Peel, (now Sir Robert Peel) then Secretary for Ireland. It must be admitted, that in the present instance, like that of Mr. D’Esterre, Mr. O'Connell had called down upon himself the hostility of Mr. Peel, by the intemperance of the language, which he used at one of the meetings of the Catholic Association, where he was tou prone to employ his unrivalled powers of eloquence in the attack on the character of individuals who had rendered themselves obnoxious to him by their political or religious opinions. The passage in Mr. O'Connell's speech, which gave offence to Mr. Peel, was as follows:
“All I shall say of him (Mr. Peel) by way of parenthesis, is that I am told, he has, in my absence, and in a place where he was privileged from any account, grossly traduced me. I said, at the last meeting, in the presence of the note takers of the police, who are paid by him, that he was too prudent to attack me in my presence. I see the same police informers here now, and I authorize them carefully to report these my words, that Mr. Peel would not dare, in my presence, nor in any place where he was liable to personal account, to use a single expression derogatory to my interest or my honour." On this expression of Mr. O'Connell coming to the knowledge of Mr. Peel, he obtained the interference of Sir Charles Saxton, who published the following account of his proceedings. -On the morning of Thursday the 31st of August, I called upon Mr. O'Connell, and informed him, that Mr. Peel, having understood that he expressed a wish, at a public meeting, on Tuesday last, that some communication should be made as from him to Mr. Peel, was desirous of learning the purport and terms of that communication, and that I had waited on him, from Mr. Peel, for the purpose of obtaining them.
“To this application, after ascertaining that what he should say would not subject him to any consequences, either of law or parliamentary privilege, Mr. O'Connell stated the expressions used by him on the occasion referred to, in terms so substantially the same as those contained in the report of his speech at the public meeting before mentioned, in the Dublin Chronicle, that I was induced to take that paper from my pocket, and read from it that passage which related to Mr. Peel, remarking to him its similarity with what he had just stated; to this remark he assented, admitting that it was what he had said.
“Upon this, I observed, that as it was clear his speech alluded to something that had fallen from Mr. Peel in Parliament, I was empowered by Mr. Peel to say to him, that there was nothing which he had ever said, or that he had seen reported as said by him with respect to Mr. O'Connell, that he did not unequivocally avow, and for which he would not hold himself responsible.
“As Mr. O'Connell did not offer any thing directly in answer to this comniunication, but was proceeding to comment on Mr. Peel's conduct on this occasion as handsome and gentlemanlike, which he subsequently repeated, with a desire that his opinion to that effect might be conveyed to Mr. Peel, I took occasion to say, that I presumed Mr. Peel might expect to hear from him, in consequence of the communication he had just received.
“ His answer was, that it certainly was his feeling that a communication from him to Mr. Peel ought to follow, but that he