No part of Castlereagh's career has evoked more hostility than that concerned with Ireland. In the gallery reserved for the oppressors of that country, Castlereagh occupies a special place. 1 Others might have been guilty of greater acts of cruelty or oppression, but Castlereagh had been born in Ireland, had, in his youth, shown great fervour for his country's rights, and had, finally, deserted his former professions to serve as the main agent of the British government in the Union of the kingdoms in 1800. Castlereagh himself had no illusions as to the feelings of many Irishmen concerning him.
With respect to Ireland, I know I never shall be forgiven. I have with many others incurred the inexpiable guilt of preserving that main branch of the British Empire from that separation which the traitors of Ireland in conjunction with a foreign power had meditated.
Nor was the conscience of Victorian England unmoved by accounts of events in Ireland between 1798 and 1801. The future Lord Salisbury, who was subsequently to be associated with policies of 'coercion and kindness' towards Ireland, wrote in 1862 concerning Castlereagh's part in the Union.
A certain admiration is due to skill in whatever occupation it is displayed and, therefore, we cannot refuse to admire the skill with which he effected the Irish Union. But still we should prefer to dwell on any other display of administrative ability than that which consists of bribing knaves into honesty and fools into Common Sense.
Castlereagh's political apprenticeship in Ireland consisted of a great deal more than 'bribing knaves ... and fools', yet his____________________