Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XX
CHARLES BULLER (1848)

THE gayest of all the talkers at the Grange this autumn, Charles Buller, was discussing Ireland, then a nightmare to all public men. He was now Chief Commissioner of the Poor Law in Lord John Russell's Government, and plainly coming to the front--respected in the Commons and popular there. He had taken in good part the rebuke of Peel in his younger days,--"If the honourable member for Liskeard will cease for a moment from making a buffoon of himself, I will, etc." His colleagues and their Lord- LieutenantClarendon were trying to feel happy because they had got John Mitchel convicted and sentenced to fourteen years by a packed jury and a servile judge; but even in the law-courts they were having defeats as well as victories, and however much they tried to hide the fact from English voters, the awful horrors of many-thousand-fold deaths from famine in Ireland had put them in a pillory. While red revolution was running over Europe, the most urgent question for the English was the condition of Ireland. Charles Buller was not the man to shrink from talk of it at the Grange.

It is a curious coincidence that one of the things he said should be done1 was approved by Sir Robert Peel,--making payments to the Irish clergy. It does not appear that Buller would have had any hand in the shabby Whig deals with Dan O'Connell. He had prepared a detailed plan for better administration by organizing labour and emigration, and incidentally ending the idiotic English rule requiring a jury to be unanimous before they can come to a finding. We know that Carlyle was writing both to John Mitchel and to Lord Clarendon and receiving replies, and we may be sure that Charles Buller knew about all that. Gavan

____________________
1
The Greville Memoirs, Part II, Vol. III ( 1848). pp. 221, 241, 249-51.

-68-

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