Normanby, Constantine Henry Phipps
lord ireland paris
NORMANBY, CONSTANTINE HENRY PHIPPS, MARQUIS OF (1797-1863), bore an eminent, though not a leading, part in some of the greatest movements of 'this century. As governor of Jamaica he had charge of the distribution of the huge compensation to owners upon the abolition of slavery in the West Indies ; it fell to him as lord-lieutenant of Ireland to give effect to the Catholic Emancipation Act; he was English ambassador at Paris during the revolution of 1848, and minister in Tuscany in the years immediately preceding the struggle for Italian unity. The son of the first earl Mulgrave, and born 15th May 1797, he passed through Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, and sat for the family borough of Scarborough as soon as he attained his majority. But, speaking in favour of Catholic emancipation, and dissenting in other points from the family politics, he thought proper to resign his seat, and went to live in Italy for some two years. Returning in 1822, he was elected for Higham Ferrers, and made a considerable reputation by political pamphlets and by his speeches in the House. He was returned for Mahon at the general election of 1826, and enrolled himself among the supporters of Canning. Previous to this, in 1825, he made his appearance as a novelist with Matilda; and three years later, in 1828, lie produced another, Yes and No. Of the brilliant band of fashionable novelists who started up as by a common impulse in those years, including Ward, Lister, Bulwer, Disraeli, Lord Normanby was probably the least impressive ; yet his Matilda ran through four editions in a year. There is a certain stiffness in the construction of his novels, as if he were either deficient in the story-teller's vivacity and fertility or, oppressed by his own sense of dignity, over-fastidious in his theory of composition. The novels are comparatively short, and move forward steadily to tragic catastrophes that present themselves ahead from a very early stage in the journey. The moral is so obtrusive that they may almost be called sermons in disguise. Especially is this true of Yes and No, in which two opposite types of character, the man who says " Yes " with too great facility, and the man who says " No " with too great obstinacy and suspiciousness, are very skilfully contrasted. It was chiefly character that he aimed at, as became a statesman, and his characters were drawn with fulness and keen insight, though not without too much appearance of labour.
A speech put into the mouth of one of his characters expresses very fairly Lord Normanby's political creed, a creed not uncommon among the aristocracy at the time of the Reform Bill : "I can't help thinking it but befits a gentleman to move methodically forward with the main body of the age in its regular march of mind, neither seeking foolish forlorn hopes in advance, nor lagging disgracefully in the rear." Acting on this principle, Lord Normanby reached the zenith of his career between the age of thirty and forty ; after that he began to lag and to decline in political reputation. He succeeded his father as Earl Mulgrave in 1831, was sent out as captain-general and governor of Jamaica in the same year, and, in spite of certain defects of manner, gained such credit as an administrator that he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1835. It is significant of the reputation he then held that his appointment was received with enthusiasm as the beginning of a new order in Ireland ; and during his three years of office, one of the most peaceful periods in the history of Ireland, great improvements were made. It is disputed how much was due to him and how much to his subordinate Thomas Drummond. He was created marquis of Normanby in 1838, and held successively the offices of colonial secretary and home secretary in the last years of Lord Melbourne's ministry. From 1846 to 1852 he was ambassador at Paris, and from 1854 to 1858 minister at Florence. He died in London, 28th July 1863. The publication in 1857 of a journal kept in Paris during the stormy times of 1848 (A Year of Revolutions) brought him into violent controversy with Louis Blanc on questions of fact as well as of policy; and his controversies with Lord Palmerston and Mr Gladstone, after his retirement from the public service, on questions of French and Italian policy, showed him to have fallen behind "the regular march of the mind" of his age.