Slike strani

acknowledgment that they dreaded bill should apply themselves “to to intrust themselves to the judg- action," instead of wasting time in ment of the country. If they pro- argument. All petitions against moted the Solicitor-general to the the bill were scouted as mere ebulvacant office, a new election for litions of ignorance, bigotry, and Cambridge would have been ren- love of oppression, and that too by dered necessary, and that was a the very men who had raised on the danger which ministers dared not to opinions which these petitions conincur, in the present state of the pub- tained, the whole fabric of their lic mind. They therefore allowed political fortunes. The petitioners the office of Attorney-general to re- themselves were openly told that main vacant, until, their measure their opinions were worthless, that having been carried, and public the subject under discussion was far agitation having subsided, they removed beyond the reach of their transferred to it a nisi prius understandings; that is, that they lawyer who had once been a were utterly disqualified to judge whig, in the person of sir James of the value of their constitution, Scarlett ; having provided for the or of the mischief which might be Solicitor-general by placing him done to a Protestant establishment at the head of the Common Pleas. by Catholic power. These, forsooth, They knew that they were acting in were topics on which the House of defiance of public opinion; they con- Commons declared that no man in fessed that a new election would the empire could pretend to form send that opinion into parliament an opinion, except about two-thirds to confound their policy. Mr. of their own number. The truth Peel acknowledged that he reckoned was that, considering the character on the alienation of public confi- of the proceedings which, as minisdence, which is never alienated from ters alleged, had produced a state a man whom the public think right; necessity, the only fault of the and it is not easy to imagine a petitioners was, that they petitioned Lolder avowal from the lips of a constitutionally. It surely could statesman than that he and his not be more criminal to “ agitate" friends are using the powers of in defence of Protestant rights, office (for there lay their logie) than in support of Catholic demands. to extort from the representatives Since ministers admitted they must of the people their consent оа bow to six millions of noisy Cameasure against which he knows tholics, headed by a Catholic Assoand admits that the hearts and ciation, what would they have said opinions of the great majority of the to fifteen millions of Protestants people are set. In the same spirit under the guidance of a Protestant the Protestant petitions, which, Association? While they allowed night after night, expressed the that they neither could, nor were wishes of the Protestant portion entitled to, intermeddle with the of the empire, were treated, always former, until they had conceded with neglect, often with contempt. all that it claimed, what degree of The House of Commons actually effrontery would have enabled them grudged the time consumed in pre- to blame the latter, while they resenting them; and sir Francis fused every thing that it desired ? Burdett frankly declared on one The Catholics set the law at defiance, occasion, that the friends of the threatening tumult and rebellion, and they were met with respect, of a British monarch announced to flattery, and concession. The Pro- the British public, that, when they testants confined themselves within set their minds on some great pubthe quiet and peaceful paths of the lic object, or wish to avoid some constitution, which they and their great public danger, they are not fathers had been taught to believe to be listened to, unless they assume would protect them, and they were the attitude of insurrection, and treated with ridicule and contempt. speak the plain and bold language For the first time the government of open menace.

[ocr errors]


The Catholic Relief Bill moved in the Ilouse of Lords— Debate on the

Second Reading-Speech of the Duke of Wellington-Amendment, to throw out the Bill moved by the Archbishop of CanterburyDebate during three Days--Speech of the Bishop of Oxford in favour of the Bill— Opposed by the Archbishop of Armagh, and the Bishops of London and Durham---Speeches of the Lord Chancellor, Earl of Westmoreland, Lord Tenterden, Earl Grey, Lord Eldon-Lord Plunkett-Second Reading carried by a Majority of 105The Bill is read a Third Time and passed, and receives the Royal Assent— Unwillingness of the King to consent to the Measure. ITHERTO the most steady pendent on popular sentiment.

, demands of the Catholics had been of command, as the Commons had found in the House of Lords. done; the same means which had Whenever the Commons passed a secured a triumph in theone House, bill, or adopted a resolution, favour- prepared the way for it in the other. able to their views, a large major- On the 31st of March, the day ity of the peers had always re- following that on which the bill fused to concur in any thing had passed the House of Commons, which went to alter the Protestant it was brought up to the Lords by characteristics of the constitution. Mr. Peel, and was immediately Even in 1828, when the lower read a first time. The duke of House had passed resolutions in Wellington then moved, that the tended to be the foundation of a second reading should take place relief bill, they had been rejected two days thereafter, on the 2nd of by the peers by a majority of forty- April. Lord Bexley and the earl five. Not twelve months had of Malmesbury opposed this motion, elapsed; and the Protestants, find- on the ground that such precipitale ing themselves deserted and be- haste was unbecoming ; urging trayed among their own represents that, on all former occasions, a much atives, placed their last hope in longer time had been allowed for the steadiness which had so often consideration, and that such breathdistinguished the House of Lords. less hurry was the conduct of men It was not to be expected, how- who were merely to decide as anoever, that the dictatorial powers of ther dictated, rather than of legisthe ministry, which had been strong lators called to deliberate on a grave enough to make the lower House matter of public policy. The duke disregard the public opinion, of answered, that the subject had been which it ought to have been the sufficiently discussed already, and organ, would lose their efficacy, that the public were anxious to ob- : when applied to a body less de- tain their lordships' decision. Lord VOL. LXXI.


Holland justified him by referring the people from fulfilling contracts to the haste with which the sta- into which they might have entertutes about to be repealed had been ed with Protestants? In such a originally passed ; and the motion state of society the best parts of was carried without a division. the constitution became inoperative.

On the 2nd of April, the duke Trial by jury could no longer be of Wellington introduced the mo- used in the administration of the tion for the second reading, by law. The king's prerogative, too, stating, that he trusted the House was touched. He could not create would believe that the course, which a peer, for such an act would have he had now adopted on this ques- produced an election; while an tion, had not been adopted without election, in the state of the country, the fullest conviction that it was a was almost sure to end in bloodsound and a just one. From the shed ; might occasion a civil war, moment his majesty had intrusted and, at the best, could only be a him with the high office which he new triumph to the Catholic Asnow held, the disturbed state of sociation. It was not fair to say, Ireland had forced itself upon his that all this arose in consequence notice as a public evil, which those, of the laws not being executed. to whom the powers of government There was no tangible violation of had been confided, were bound to the law; there was no resistance. remove, if it were practicable. It No troops were employed except was quite true that Ireland had on the occasion of processions in been disturbed for many years ; the north of Ireland, because no but circumstances of peculiar ag- instance occurred, in which the grayation had occurred within the laws could not be enforced in the last year or two. Government usual manner. In a case which knew, although not possessed of extended over the whole country legal evidence of the fact, that it was impossible to have magisthere existed a general organiza- trates at every spot, and ready at tion of the people for purposes of every hour, to put an end to promischief-shewing itself by simul- ceedings so outrageous and distaneous meetings in different quar- graceful. It appeared clearly that ters --attending the footsteps of neither the form of the power, nor gentlemen sent from the Catholic the means possessed by governAssociation-and manifesting the ment, were sufficient to extirpate influence of a superior source of such a state of things ; that they authority. That organization had must come to Parliament, and that, produced a state of society, which without concession, nothing could aggravated the previously existing be effected. This state of things, evils of Ireland. In two instances bordering upon civil war, attended towns had been attacked during by all the evils of civil war (and the night by armed bodies of men. which had continued for the last The Catholic Association had delic year and a half,) might have conberated on the propriety of putting tinued much longer to disgrace the an end to all dealings with Protes- country and the government; and tants; and who doubted but that, those, who were at the head of, and if they had adopted that resolution, directed those proceedings, would they would have been able to carry have taken good care not to offer it through, and even to dissuade such resistance as would have given to the government such force as which, in order to put down one might be necessary to put an end portion, it would be necessary to to them. Those persons knew too arm and excite the other. I am well that they could not offer effect- quite sure there is no man that now ive resistance to the king's govern- hears me, who would not shudder ment; that they themselves would were such a proposition made to be the first victims of any collision ; him; yet such must have been the and, being able, and sagacious, and result, had we attempted to terwell informed men, they were per- minate the state of things, to which fectly aware of what mischief I have referred, otherwise than by a might have resulted to themselves; measure of conciliation. In this and, therefore, would have taken view, then, merely, I think we are very good care to avoid it. Conse- justified in the measure we have quently, this state of things might proposed to parliament." have continued for several years, On the other hand, what possible without his majesty's government benefit could arise to any one class having an opportunity offered them in the state, from pertinaciously of effectually putting it down. But persisting in an opposition which even if such an opportunity had had already produced consequences been presented, he would have so bad, and threatened worse. The thought it his duty to correct it by first thing said was, that concession other means than force. “I am must be resisted, to secure the setone of those” said his grace, “who tlement of the constitution, as fixed have been engaged in war beyond in 1688. But a great mistake premost men, and, unfortunately, vailed on this head regarding the principally in civil war; and I permanent exclusion of the Cathomust say this, that, at any sacrifice lics. In the Bill of Rights many whatever, I would avoid every ap- things were permanently enacted, proach to civil war. I would do and properly so; and these were, all I could, even sacrifice my life, that liberty should be permanent, to prevent such a catastrophe. and that the security for the ProtestNothing could be so disastrous to antism of the person who sits on the country, nothing so destructive the throne should be permanentof its prosperity as civil war; no- that is, that the king should be a thing could take place that tended Protestant, and should not marry so completely to demoralize and a Papist. Then there was an Oath degrade as such a conflict, in which of Allegiance, which was also perthe hand of neighbour is raised manent; but there was no permaagainst neighbour—that of the nency given to the Oath of Suprefather against the son, and of the macy, nor to the Declaration against son against the father-of the bro- Transubstantiation, for the Oath of ther against the brother-of the Supremacy was altered before the servant against his master-a con- end of the reign. With respect to flict which must end in confusion the oaths to be taken by members and destruction. If civil war be of parliament, and the declaration so bad, when occasioned by resiste to be made against transubstantiaance to government–if such a col- tion, the invocation of saints, and lision is to be avoided by all means the sacrifice of the mass, these possible-how much more neces- were not imposed by acts of William sary is it to avoid a civil war, in 3rd, but by acts of Charles 2nd.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »