Carlow County – the election result 17th July 1841

This is from The Times on the 20th July 1841. The Times was fiercely pro-Tory, and very anti-Whig, anti-Catholic, and very anti-Daniel O’Connell. This has a definite slightly sinister tone to it, particularly regarding tenants.

Henry Bruen (1789-1852) was educated at Eton, and Oxford, in that fine Tory traditionAccording to – ” At the election of 1812, Bruen, ‘young, resident, very wealthy … and lavish of his money’, contested the largely Catholic county as an opponent of Catholic relief and potential supporter of government, gaining the day with the help of a tactical blunder by Catholic voters.  At Westminster he gave a steady support to government and expected due attention to his requests for patronage in return. Peel as chief secretary was usually able to comply with them and saw to it that he became a governor of the county and colonel of the militia in 1816.” The militia was disembodied in 1816, and performed no military duties between 1816 and 1854, largely existing solely to get paid. But given they also performed police duties, probably useful having a personal police force. Bruen was an M.P. for thirty three years between 1812 and 1852, but according to ” No speech by him is known.”

I really don’t like this man, and it doesn’t help that his speech sounds in my head like it is being spoken by Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the bogus ‘Colonel’ is doubtless absolutely spot-on on the 100,000 men ready to invade the town, and the “smiths….busy for a month… manufacturing pikes”


In my first despatch, forwarded by express, I announced the termination of the hard fought contest in the triumphant return of the two Conservatives, and the complete downfall of the priestly dynasty of this county. Shortly after the official declaration of the poll,

Colonel BRUEN came forward to address the electors amid loud cheers. When silence had been procured, the hon. and gallant gentleman said, that he laboured under a severe cold, which would prevent his occupying their time at any great length, but he trusted what he did say would tend to promote the object they had in view-the restoration of peace, order, and good feeling in that county. (Cheers.)  [At this stage of the proceedings one or two in the gallery, who refused to yield to the general demand and take off their hats, were turned out after considerable confusion.] He would have allowed those poor people to remain, for if they had done so they would have heard more truth than they were accustomed to. (” Hear, hear,” and a laugh.) But to come to the more immediate business before them, he assured them that it was with delight he stood there that day, after a short interval, again in the proud position of their representative. He was quite aware it was unnecessary for him to dilate on the triumph they had obtained upon the present occasion; they certainly had achieved a glorious victory, but it was that of peace and goodwill, and he hoped that would be the last contest in the county of Carlow carried on in the spirit lately exhibited by their adversaries. (Hear, hear.) They had had difficulties- great difficulties-to contend with in many quarters, but he rejoiced to say that in the county of which he had that day been elected a representative the fell spirit which had been for some time abroad had comparatively little effect (Cheers), and he gladly seized that opportunity to express his high opinion of the natural good qualities of his countrymen, whose only fault was an excess of good nature in placing entire confidence and implicit belief in their supposed friends, who they very generally found were not so sincere as they imagined The domestic agitators had been exceedingly busy for the last month in inflaming the minds of the people, and though he (Colonel Bruen) did not wish to say one word that could cause ill-feeling or give offence to the greatest enemy he had in the county, he could not, in justice to himself and the public – and he was fully aware that he was not speaking to them alone, but to the public of the British empire – refrain from expressing his surprise that a parcel of men should be allowed to come into that county, and be permitted to use for five weeks the most inflammatory language – travelling from fair to fair, from town to town, and attending at every gathering from one end of the county to the other, exciting to acts of outrage and bloodshed, and at the very doors of the resident gentlemen within this locality denouncing those who were in truth the people’s benefactors. (Cheers.) Surely, that was a state of affairs that ought not to be sanctioned or allowed in any country pretending to be civilized, and there was not in the entire of Europe another Government, even the most arbitrary, that would tolerate such conduct. (Hear, hear.) They boasted equal laws, they talked of virtuous qualities, and yet they set man against man, and, for a whole month, used their best endeavours to excite the poor people, who were naturally well-disposed, to violence. Well, passing from this topic to others more agreeable, he would remind his friends around him that they had been fighting an arduous battle for ten years past; their struggle was not for the mere elevation of any particular person to the honourable station of their representative, but it was emphatically a contest for equal laws, for liberty, civil and religious, to all, and he was happy to say that they had obtained them. (Cheers.) The result of that election would tend to increase the majority that had been obtained for Conservatives since the dissolution of Parliament. He had received a letter a few days ago from England which stated that their majority then amounted to 70. Now, considering that they were in a minority of 25 in the late House of Commons, the augmentation of their forces would prove, and he doubted not would convince the most unwilling ear of the great change that had taken place in the popular feeling. (Great cheering.) The inhabitants of three countries, so long misled by selfish agitators, who were eternally preaching liberty, though their acts proved them to be its enemies, had awakened from that delusion; they had seen the deception, and were prepared to shun it for the future, and nobly and well had their determination told, and how gloriously would it operate for their happiness, and the happiness of the empire! They might date this period as an era in history; they might look upon it as an era of bright hope for them all. (Cheers.) They had absolutely suffered a foreign invasion from no less a person than the great apostle of liberty himself (a laugh), aided by his most experienced captains, gentlemen whose very names breathed death and slaughter, who had been unceasing in their exertions, and certainly, if indefatigable industry were a subject of praise, they were well entitled to it; but they would all return from the county of Carlow with the hopelessness of ever again attempting its invasion. (Hear, hear.) On Monday last the town of Carlow was in imminent danger; upwards of 100,000 men were to have been poured in among its inhabitants, and he (Colonel Bruen) had good authority for saying that in the southern districts the smiths were busy for a month previous in manufacturing pikes. That was no invention of his; it was deposed to upon oath, and those unfortunate people were on the point of being poured into the town, an event which would have proved extremely disastrous. But thanks to the Government for its being averted, and he was happy to take that opportunity of giving the Government its just meed of praise for having responded to the call of the High Sheriff; and the officer who was sent down in command of the military was also entitled to praise for his admirable conduct throughout. (Hear, hear.) The magician who had conjured up the storm when seeing its effects began to tremble, and the fact of these masses moving in the direction of the town had such an effect upon the gentlemen who previously had been preaching war and. discord that they became exemplary pacificators (Laughter.) One word for himself. He had been described as a cruel and tyrannical landlord, exacting the last farthing from his tenantry, and therefore was it said that they should be absolved from the allegiance which they owed to their landlord. This charge could not at all events be urged against him in some instances which he would mention – A considerable number of the tenants, who owed him large sums of money – several thousand pounds – voted against him. They were individuals whom he had frequently befriended – in fact, if they were his brothers he could not have treated them with greater kindness. He had made many sacrifices to obtain their liberties, to procure which he would willingly give the last shilling he was worth in the world. Those tenants had deliberately and advisedly thrown him off and. chosen another master. He had not the least objection to this change – if the tenants were satisfied, so was he – till the previous day he could not be persuaded that they had so much folly and ingratitude – folly, because he should wonder amazingly if the promises made to them were performed, and ingratitude, because they had so shamefully deserted their friend; they had thrown off their old friends and adopted new ones, and, of course, they could not deny the same privilege to him. (Hear hear.) It was a matter of perfect indifference to him, whether they paid him the rent or not ; in all reason he was not to be put to expense without calling upon those who owed him the money to pay it. He should do so; if they paid him, well and good; he should then have the pleasure of receiving money he would never otherwise have got, and of knowing that it was paid by somebody else (Cheers); and if they embraced the other alternative, and would not pay him, nobody could blame him for getting back his land from them, and putting persons upon it who would support law and good order, and would not join any mischief makers, or the first persons who would come to them to steep the country in riot and disorder. (Cheers.) He considered it not only the duty of a landlord to support law and order himself, but to oblige those who were in any way subject to his influence to do so likewise. Those who supported the subverters of law and order he regarded as enemies to their country, and as such he was bound to deprive them of the power which they possessed to injure it. This he was now perfectly determined to do. He had been provoked many years. He had long preferred bearing this provocation to resorting to any harsh measures against his tenants, but the duty now devolved upon him of removing from his land, by all proper and lawful means, those persons who were the upholders of the disturbance, which was near ending in their destruction the other day. (Cheers.) No doubt the gentlemen who had induced those tenants to desert him had provided something better for them, otherwise they could not surely have been so heartless and cruel as to make them vote against him, when those tenants were so deeply in his debt, and when their votes were not sufficient to carry the election in their favour. If they had brought forward those poor men to sacrifice them, he left his audience to decide what they should be called. (Cheers.) The landlords of the country when they wished to obtain the votes of their tenantry used every legitimate means to effect the object, but how did their political opponents act! They entered the houses of the voters in the noon-day, and dragged them away by force. The gallant member here detailed two or three acts of violence committed upon freeholders by Mr. O’Connell’s party It had been here suggested to him (Colonel Bruen) that it was necessary for him to dwell for few moment on a topic which he considered important. It had been stated, that on a late occasion in that court, when addressing an assembly of his countrymen, he professed his determination to exterminate all Roman Catholics. Now, there were many Roman Catholics listening to him on the occasion to which he referred, and he would fearlessly appeal to them, whether or not he said any such thing; whether he did not state the precise reverse! (“Hear,” and loud cheers.) He did not keep an account of what he said; but he remembered distinctly having said this, that although he felt himself bound to take care of every Protestant elector, he felt doubly bound to take care of every loyal Roman Catholic. (Loud and continued cheering.) And he further said, that they ought not only take care of every Roman Catholic themselves, but leave it as a command to their children to take care of their children. (Great cheering.) He was neither ashamed nor afraid upon any occasion to express his opinions, and he hoped his Roman Catholic and Protestant fellow- subjects would do him the justice to discredit all the calumnies that had been written and spoken of him upon that head. (Cheers.) The hon. speaker next referred to the corn laws, and declared himself hostile to the Government proposition of a fixed duty. Nature had been so bountiful to Ireland, that she had more corn than was necessary for national use; they, therefore, exported it to England, and received a good price for it. The man who would come to him and tell him that he would be as comfortable and well off by receiving 12s. instead of 30s. per barrel for his corn, from an Englishman or any other purchaser, he should look upon as a fool, and he would deserve to be laughed at as much for his absurdity as the man who sold a pig at a fair for 5s. and thought himself as rich as if he had accepted the offer of a 30s. note. (Hear, hear.) The man, in fact, who would look forward to an amelioration of his condition by a repeal of the corn laws should be put into a lunatic asylum. The other propositions of the Government, with regard to the sugar and timber duties, were equally objectionable. (Hear, hear.) The plain fact was, if the Ministry were in their senses, they were determined to ruin the country; but, in charity, he proclaimed them to be -not wicked- but insane. In conclusion, the hon. gentleman alluded to the absence of his worthy colleague, Mr. Bunbury, which had been caused by his patriotic desire to assist the friends of the constitution in other counties. (Cheers.) If the constituency of Carlow had searched the united empire, they could not have selected a man more calculated to advance their interests in Parliament and support the good cause than his highly esteemed friend Mr. Bunbury. (Loud cheers.)

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