Secret Service Under Pitt

Secret Service Under Pitt

Secret Service Under Pitt


These rough notes—begun long ago and continued at slow intervals—were put aside during the onerous task of editing for Mr. Murray the O'Connell Correspondence. The recent publication of Mr. Lecky's final volumes, awakening by their grasp a fixed interest in pre-Union times, and confirming much that by circumstantial evidence I had sought to establish, affords a reason, perhaps, that my later researches in the same field ought not to be wholly lost. Mr. Lecky's kindness in frequently quoting me merits grateful acknowledgment, not less than his recognition of some things that I brought to light as explanatory of points to which the State Papers afford no clue. This and other circumstances encourage me in offering more.
My sole purpose at the outset was to expose a well-cloaked case of long-continued betrayal by one of whom Mr. Froude confesses that all efforts to identify had failed; but afterwards it seemed desirable to disclose to the reader a wider knowledge of an exciting time. In various instances a veil will be found lifted, or a visor unlocked, revealing features which may prove a surprise. Nor is the story without a moral. The organisers of illegal societies will see that, in spite of the apparent secrecy and ingenuity of their system, informers sit with them at the [Pg vi]same council-board and dinner-table, ready at any moment to sell their blood; and that the wider the ramifications of conspiracy, the greater becomes the certainty of detection.
It may be that some of these researches are more likely to interest and assist students of the history of the time than to prove pleasant reading for those who take up a book merely for enjoyment. Yet if there is truth in the axiom that men who write with ease are read with difficulty, and vice versâ, these chapters ought to find readers. Every page had its hard work. Tantalising delays attended at times the search for some missing—but finally discovered—link.


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