LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Samuel Rogers to Lord Lansdowne, 20 April 1827

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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‘Dropmore: 20 April, 1827.

‘My dear Lord Lansdowne,—I am just now under the roof of an old retired Statesman, whose sentiments all men, however they may differ from him, must listen to with respect; and perhaps at a crisis like the present you will not be sorry to hear what has fallen from him on the subject.

‘When I mentioned, on my arrival here last night, the rumour in town that it had been proposed to form a Cabinet, the majority of which should be Catholic—the Home Secretary to be a Catholic, and the Irish Secretary a Catholic—and that the Home Secretaryship had been offered to you,—

‘He said in reply, I have the highest opinion of Lord Lansdowne, and I can never believe that he would refuse such an offer under such circumstances if he was fully aware of what he refused. A Lord Lieutenant is little more than a mere pageant; with the Home Secretary, as I know well, rests, and I may say entirely, the government of Ireland; for with him rests the due execution of the law, now almost a dead letter to the Catholic. The Lord Lieutenant has only to further the
orders he receives from the Home Office, little more, and if the Irish Secretary throws no obstacle in the way, everything that can be desired may in time be brought about. Whether the Lord Lieutenant is Catholic or Protestant is comparatively speaking of little or no importance. A Protestant Lord Lieutenant is perhaps the least thing the King can ask for. He thinks he is asking for much, while he is asking for little or nothing; and why refuse him? He must have his pride and his feelings like other men, and why not let him down gently?

‘I wish I could give you all he said on the subject; but I believe I have given you the purport. By some men it may be thought that he once threw away such an opportunity as this himself, and now and then (is it not possible?) he may think so in his solitary hours. Perhaps I am mistaken, but the suspicion crossed my mind while he was speaking. There was a melancholy, a sadness, a something so like regret in the tone of his voice, that I was affected not a little by it. I write not unknown to him, and when I told him of my intention this morning he replied, “You are welcome to repeat all I have said. I am the last man to obtrude my opinion on anybody, but he would be welcome to it at all times. Whatever he does he will do for the best; but this I must say” (and it was with some agitation he said it, a thing now unusual to him), “whoever rejects such an offer is, in my opinion, guilty of a great dereliction of public duty. He may make motions and speeches for another twenty years to come, but he will never repair his loss. What a benefit, among others, to prevent the return of such people, exclusively, to power. They must now
wonder at their folly; but still more must they wonder to find folly as great as their own. I hope and trust that Lord Lansdowne will not listen to such counsels. It is inconceivable what good may be done and what evil prevented. Such an opportunity can never occur twice to one man. A wedge, as you say, has a broad end and a sharp end. Who in his sober senses would think of driving it in at the broad end?”

‘Pray forgive me, my dear Lord Lansdowne, for troubling you with so long a letter at such a time; and yet why should I make any excuse for it? I have now known you for many a year, and I am very sure you will receive it in good part, and as a testimony of the esteem and regard with which I am always yours,

Samuel Rogers.

Mr. Grenville was present and went along with him in every syllable. A man who, like Lord Grenville, has filled so many high offices of the State, and who has himself discharged the duties of Home Secretary and Irish Secretary, must be supposed to know the degree and extent of the influence belonging to each. On that part of the subject he spoke with great confidence. He has once, I believe, if not twice, refused office under circumstances not very unlike the present, and may here be said to have given the result of his experience while in public life and of his meditation since he has left it.’