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On the 23d of May, 1829, thus suddenly died Charles James Gardiner, second Lord Blessington, in his forty-sixth year. He was the only surviving son by the first marriage of Viscount Mountjoy.
At the age of sixteen he succeeded his father, who was slain at New Ross, June 5, 1798. He was elected a representative Peer for Ireland about 1809, and was advanced to his Earldom June 22, 1816.
Lord Blessington's remains were conveyed to Ireland, and deposited in the family vault, in St. Thomas's Church, Marlborough Street, where his father's were buried; those also of his first wife, of his son and heir, the Hon. Luke William Gardiner, of his sister Margaret, wife of the Hon. John Hely Hutchinson; of his sister Louisa, wife of the Right Rev. Dr. Fowler, Lord Bishop of Ossory; and of his sister the Hon. Harriet Gardiner. In the church there is only one mural tablet, bearing an inscription, in memory of any member of the Blessington family.
To the loved Memory
JOHN HELY HUTCHINSON, Esq.,
Who fell at New Ross, in 1798,
At the head of his Regiment:
The remains of the husband of this lady, the Right Hon. John Hely Hutchinson, third Earl of Donoughmore, were deposited in the same vault, September 17, 1851. The Earl died in his sixty-fourth year.
In one of Mr. Landor's unpublished " Imaginary Conversations,” in which the discoursers are Lord Mountjoy, the father of the Earl of Blessington, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, there are two notes written in 1829, immediately after the death of Lord Blessington. In the first note Mr. Landor observes
“ Lord Mountjoy was killed in the beginning of the insurrection of 1798; he left an only son, the Earl of Blessington, who voted for the Union, in the hope that it would be beneficial to Ireland,* though the project had suspended the erection of several streets and squares on his estate in Dublin, and it was proved to him, that he must lose by it two-thirds of his rent roll; he voted likewise in defence of Queen Caroline, seeing the insufficiency of the evidence against her, and the villany of the law officers of the Crown: he esteemed her little, and was personally attached to the King. For these votes, and for all he ever gave, he deserves a place, as well as his father, in the memory of both nations.”
The second note thus refers to the recent death of Lord Blessington.
“ Scarcely is the ink yet dry upon my paper, when intelligence reaches me of the sudden death of Lord Blessington.
Adieu, most pleasant companion! Adieu, most warmhearted friend! Often and long, and never with slight emotion, shall I think of the many hours we have spent together; the light seldom ending gravely; the graver always lightly.
“ It will be well, and more than I can promise to myself, if my regret at your loss shall hereafter be quieted by the assurance which she, who best knew your sentiments, has given me, that by you, among the many, I was esteemed, and beloved among the few ”
* The young Lord's name does not appear in the list of Peers who voted for the Union, either in Barrington's work, or the Reports of the Debates in Parliament of the time. Lord Mountjoy was then only eighteen years of age.
On the news of the death of Lord Blessington reaching Mr. Landor, he addressed the following lines to the Countess :
“ Baths of Lucca, June 6. “ DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,
“ If I defer it any longer, I know not how or when I shall be able to fulfil so melancholy a duty. The whole of this day I have spent in that torpid depression, which you may feel without a great calamity, and which others can never feel at all. Every one that knows me, knows the sentiments I bore towards that disinterested, and upright, and kind-hearted man, than whom none was ever dearer, or more delightful to his friends. If to be condoled with by many, if to be esteemed and beloved by all whom you have admitted to your society is any comfort, that comfort at least is yours. I know how inadequate it must be at such a moment, but I know too that the sentiment will survive when the bitterness of sorrow shall have passed away.
“ Yours very faithfully,
“ W. S. LANDOR."
In another letter to Lady Blessington, Mr. Landor thus expressed himself on the same subject.
July 21, 1829. “ DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,
“ Too well was I aware how great my pain must be in reading your letter. So many hopes are thrown away from us by this cruel and unexpected blow. I cannot part with the one of which the greatness and the justness of your grief almost deprives me, that you will recover your health and spirits. If they could return at once, or very soon, you would be unworthy of that love which the kindest and best of human beings lavished on you. Longer life was not necessary for him to estimate your affection for him, and those graces of soul which your beauty in its brightest day but faintly shadowed. He told me that you were requisite to his happiness, and that he could not live without you. Suppose then he had survived
you, his departure in that case could not have been so easy as it was, unconscious of pain, of giving it, or leaving it behind. I am comforted at the reflection that so gentle a heart received no affliction from the anguish and despair of those he loved.
“ You have often brought me over to your opinion after an obstinate rather than a powerful contest; let me, now I am more in the right, bring you over by degrees to mine,
“ And believe me,
“Dear Lady Blessington,
« W. S. LANDOR."
Dr. Richardson, the Eastern traveller, and former travelling physician of Lord Blessington, in writing to Lady Blessington from Ramsgate, the 25th of April, 1832, on the death of her husband, says
“ Your late Lord is never absent to my mind ; during life he occupied the largest share of my affections, his friendship was my greatest honour and pride, and his memory is the dearest of all in the keeping of my heart. I feel his loss every day of my life, and shall never cease to feel it till my eyes close on all this scene of earthly things-till we meet again in another and a better world. “ Yours, my dear Lady Blessington,
“ R. RICHARDSON."
At the time of the decease of Lord Blessington, his affairs were greatly embarrassed. The enormous expenditure in France and Italy, and in London also, previously to his departure for the Continent in 1822, was not met by the rental of his vast estates.
It will be seen by the schedules appended to the act of parliament for the sale of the Blessington estates (to be found in the Appendix), that the rental of the properties referred to in the act was estimated, in 1846, at £22,718 14s. 7d. But when his Lordship succeeded to the title and estates, the rental was about £30,000 a year.
In 1814, he sold a valuable property, in the barony of Strabane, in the County of Tyrone, the rental of which was very considerable. The remaining estates, by mismanagement, constant changes of agents, the pressure of mortgages, and other causes of ruin, arising out of absenteeism, improvidence, and embarrassments, became much reduced.
The extent of the Mountjoy territory in Tyrone and Donegal
, into which Lord Blessington came to possession, may be imagined, when the extreme length of one of the Tyrone properties could be described as “ a ride of several miles.”
The three estates of Lord Blessington, in Tyrone, were the following :
Ist. The Newtown Stewart estate, called Mountjoy Forest, on which property the residence of Lord Blessington, " the Cottage,” was situated, which was sold in 1846 or 1847.
2d. The Mountjoy estate, near Killymoon, produced £5000 or £6000 a year. The demesne, comprising one thousand nine hundred acres, according to Mr. Graham's account, “ the largest demesne in Europe, of any private gentleman's property," was sold four or five years ago.
3rd. Aughertain estate, near Clogher, the first portion of the estreated Ulster lands which came into the possession of one of the earliest adventurers in Ireland of the Stewart family, comprised fourteen town lands; it was sold for £98,000. The produce of the sale of a large portion of the territory of the O'Neil, of the red hand, went to pay the debts of a French Count to the Jews and money-lenders of London.
In the County of Donegal, there was another estate of the Mountjoy family, named “ Conroy ; but this valuable pro