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HENRY FLOOD, ESQ. (1) TO MR. PITT.
Dublin, December 31, 1765.]
I KNOW not how to apologize for this address, except I may be allowed to offer in excuse the nature of its subject, and the ardour of that admiration which I feel for the virtues and for the
(1) This celebrated orator was the son of the right honourable Warden Flood, chief justice of the court of king's bench in Ireland. He was born in 1732, and placed, in 1749 or 1750, under the tuition of Dr. Markham, afterwards archbishop of York, at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered the Irish House of Commons in 1759; in 1762, married Lady Frances Beresford, daughter of the Earl of Tyrone; and in 1775, was appointed one of the vice-treasurers of Ireland, and a privy-counsellor of both kingdoms. In 1783, he was chosen a member of the British parliament; and in May 1790, brought forward his memorable motion for a reform of the representation; upon which occasion Mr. Fox complimented him by saying, that his plan was the most rational of all that had been produced on the subject. He died in December 1791; bequeathing his estate, after the decease of his wife, to the university of Dublin, for the founding of two professorships,-one for the study of the native Erse or Irish language, the other for the study of Irish antiquities and Irish history; and, "seeing that nothing stimulates to great actions more than great examples," ordering
abilities of the person to whom it is directed. Having had the honour to have been introduced to your knowledge last winter by a letter from Lord Grandison ('), and having then, in a conversation which I shall ever reflect upon with pride, heard you declare your sentiments upon the particular propriety of a militia law in this country, I determined to take the first opportunity of endeavouring to digest a bill upon that subject, founded on that law which England owes to your wise and patriot perseverance, so far as it seemed
that two annual premiums should be given for the best compositions, in celebration of those great characters who have adorned the world and benefited the human race. But, in May 1793, the will was set aside, after a trial at bar, in the Irish court of exchequer. His public character is thus sketched by Mr. Hardy, in his Memoirs of the Earl of Charlemont: "Henry Flood was by far one of the ablest men that ever sat in the Irish parliament. Hamilton's success as a speaker drew him instantly forward, and his first parliamentary essay was brilliant and imposing. He was a consummate member of parliament; active, ardent, and persevering, his industry was without limits. In advancing, and, according to the parliamentary phrase, driving a question, he was unrivalled. He was in himself an Opposition, and possessed the talent (in political warfare a most formidable one) of tormenting a minister, and every day adding to his disquietude. When attacked, he was always most successful. His taste was not the most correct, and his studied manner was slow, harsh, and austere the very reverse of Hamilton, whose trophies first pointed the way to Flood's genius, and whom he avowedly attempted to imitate; but, in skirmishing, in returning with rapidity to the charge, though at first shaken and nearly discomfited, his quickness, his address, his powers of retort and of insinuation, were never exceeded in parliament.”
(1) John, fourth viscount Grandison, in 1721 advanced to the dignity of earl Grandison of Limerick. His lordship died in May 1766, in his eighty-fifth year.
capable of being adapted to this kingdom; and have obtained leave from the House of Commons accordingly to prepare such a bill. (')
It is unnecessary for me to say, that I should esteem it the greatest honour and felicity of my life, if, amidst the important concerns in which you are engaged, you would permit me, when the bill is printed, to lay at your feet this humble attempt, to which I have been excited by a love for my country, and a reverence for your great example. Far be from me the extravagance to imagine that it could merit your minute consideration; but if, by the glance of a superior genius, you should perceive that there was nothing impracticable in it, it might perhaps induce an inquiry into its fate, if it should be transmitted to England, and procure its return to this country, if it should not be unworthy of it.
Upon this principle it is that I have presumed so far; happy if here, or any where, I could have a share in promoting those wise and public-spirited endeavours, which have so deservedly endeared and dignified your name. I have, Sir, the honour to remain, with the profoundest respect,
Your most humble and
most obedient servant, HENRY FLOOD.
(1) It appears, by the Journals of the Irish House of Commons, that Mr. Flood presented his bill on the 31st of January. It did not pass into a law; but the principle was approved of by the public, and produced voluntary armaments.
MR. PITT TO HENRY FLOOD, ESQ.
Hayes, March 15, 1766.
THE honour of your most obliging remembrance reached me just as I was leaving Bath; since which time, much gout, and some business in the House of Commons, have left me but little in condition to write. It is with great satisfaction that I now beg leave to express, though late, the true sense I have of the very flattering sentiments you are so good, Sir, to entertain on the subject of one, who recals with particular pleasure the conversation with which you honoured him at Hayes, on some matters relating to the country where you are; whose welfare every thinking Englishman will ever consider as his own.
My wishes in general on this head are very sincere, and my sense of the utility of an effectual militia very strong. Zeal without knowledge, or with quite an inadequate one, concerning many particulars of essential importance in a consideration of this nature, might greatly mislead me, were I to hazard a judgment how far the militia laws of England would, with propriety and effect, apply to Ireland. In this circumstance I must only respect and applaud the attempts; always open to form, upon proper grounds, a final judgment with regard to so important an object. I will only add, that I esteem myself fortunate in receiving so favourable
a mark of your opinion, and that I beg you will be persuaded of the true esteem and consideration with which I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient and
most humble servant,
MR. PITT TO THE EARL OF SHELBURNE.
Bond Street, Monday, past 3 o'clock. [January 20, 1766.]
MY DEAR LORD,
I AM just come to town with some gouty sensations in my knee, which hinder me from waiting on your Lordship. The object of my journey hither to-day is simply to give you a full account of what passed on Saturday, relative to the message which the Duke of Grafton and Lord Rockingham did me the honour to deliver to me. (1) May I again take a liberty I am ashamed to venture upon so often, which is, to beg the favour of Lord Shelburne to be so good as to call at my lodgings this evening, at any hour most convenient to his Lordship? The earlier I can have the pleasure of seeing you, the more satisfactory to my impatient wishes of conferring with the person I hold most
(1) See Vol. II. p. 371.