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question. It was true that, during that, in 1819, there was a majority, the five years that followed, under of two against the question; in the ministry of Mr. Perceval, go- 1823, there was a majority of six vernment resisted the consideration in its favour; in 1821, a bill was of this question : but the resist- passed by a majority of nine ; in ance did not proceed on permanent 1822, the bill for the admission of grounds : for, during great part of Roman Catholic peers into the that interval, lord Castlereagh and House of Lords was passed by a Mr. Canning were members of the majority of five; in 1824, the government, and consented to act question was not broughtforward ; only in deference to the conscientious in 1825, a bill was passed by a scruples of his late majesty. So majority of twenty-one ; in 1826, soon as the restrictions on the there was a general election; and regency had expired, the same in 1827, the present House of parliament, which had been elected Commons decided against the quesa in 1807, determined, by a very tion by a majority of four ; but in large majority, to take the question the last session, they decided in its into consideration. Since then, up favour by a majority of six. And to the commencement of the present was the present House of Commons, session,—the Catholic question had elected in 1826, an unfair reprebeen made what was called a sentation of the public opinion neutral question: any member of with respect to the Catholic quesevery government, was allowed tion? Was not this House elected, to take his own course with re- when the public mind was sufspect to it; the consequences officiently alive to the question ? which had been most unfortunate, Its predecessor had twice carried though perhaps unavoidable. Dur. bills for the removal of disabilities. ing the whole of that period the' It was elected immediately after cabinet was divided sometimes the discussions in Parliament with equally ; sometimes the proportion respect to the Catholic Association. was seven to six against concession; The proceedings of the Association sometimes it was six to seven in were manifest. It had been found favour of concession. Usually, necessary to introduce a bill having however, the cabinet was equally for its object the suppression of divided. This divided government that Association, and that bill had had been but an apt representative been passed. The discussion upon of the divided opinion of the that bill in the House of Commons branch of the legislature which he lasted five nights. He mentioned was addressing: Four out of the these circumstances to prove, that five Houses of Commons which public attention had been called had sat in the five last Parliaments, to the state of the question ; and if had at some time or other come to the public had determined to prea decision in favour of the Catholic vent its future agitation, then was question. One House of Commons, the time when the public might did resist the consideration of the have practically given effect to its question, but that single House, views. That it did not do so, out of five, resisted its considera- however, was manifest from nu. tion by a majority of only 243 to merical details, into which Mr. 241. From a list of the divisions Peel now entered, and which during the last ten years, he found, shewed that, out of the members retumed by fifteen principal coun
on either side. Had the younger ties, fifteen voted against concession, members, the youthful talent of and seventeen for it; and of the the House, been enlisted in opposimembers returned by twenty prin- tion to the claims of the Roman cipal towns and cities, eighteen voted Catholics ? He must say, when against concession, and twenty-eight the whole responsibility was cast for it. In these circumstances, upon him, that, on looking back, he continued Mr. Peel, it was some- found it impossible not to declare, what hard to be compelled to fight that almost every young man, who the battle of constant resistance had come forward in parliament without being furnished with the during the last ten years, had come materials for doing it effectually; forward, actively and eloquently, as to be made responsible for not being the advocate for concession. It able to carry on an administration was unreaso
sonable, therefore, that on the principle of resistance with individuals, who for ten years had a Parliament so nicely balanced, - permitted the question to pass over the House of Lords opposed to the without opening their mouths to House of Commons, and the latter express their sentiments; who had equally divided within itself. When seen, during that period, speakers he heard it stated that the feeling in favour of concession, urging of the country was almost unani- their arguments with the utmost mous against the attempted settle- ability, three or four consecutively, ment of the question, he must without having assisted, on any declare that this was a very recent one occasion, to oppose their readiscovery. The opposition of the sonings, should come forward in country ought not to have been 1829, and say, that there had been manifested by public meetings in a want of zeal for the Protestant every parish, but by the exercise of cause,—that the arguments in its the elective franchise. It was not favour were triumphant,—and that fair for the country to expect (sup- they only needed to be stated 10 posing its feelings to be truly de- have their truth admitted. Now, scribed), that one minister should when the battle was almost won,take upon himself the whole when the spirits of those who had responsibility of resistance, and yet fought it were exhausted,—he was to exercise their privileges in such told that a vigorous defence must 2 way as absolutely to render be made ; though those, who told resistance powerless. How could him so, had themselves allowed every any human being engage to con- opportunity of making a defence, duct the administration of Ireland which had occurred during the last upon the principle of the exclusions ten years, to slip away. Many which pressed upon the great body important conclusions might be of the people of that country, if the drawn from the facts which he had removal of those disabilities was stated to the House. In the face prayed and pressed for by the of all these facts, how long could Protestant population of England ? resistance be maintained ? That An inference, too, in regard to was the question which those who public opinion might be drawn resisted, and those who were responfrom the debates in that House sible for advising resistance, must from the number of speakers, and consider. the zeal which they had displayed Next, what had been the result VOL. LXXI.
of these divisions in the govern- lic Convention appeared. A proment, and this state of opinion in clamation was issued for its supparliament, upon the condition of pression, and it was suppressed. Ireland ? He did not know, In 1825 parliament had to enact whether divided councils at home, the suppression of another body of and disturbance in Ireland, stood a similar character; and now it in the relation of cause and effect; was called upon to consider what but, at all events, they had been should be done with a third. He concurrent. There was scarcely himself had quitted the admione year during the last twenty- nistration of Irish affairs in five, in which the government had 1811. The period between that been able to rely on the ordinary and 1814 was one of excitement in law. In 1800 the habeas corpus Ireland. In 1814 the Insurrection was suspended, and the act for act was re-enacted; in 1815 it was suppressing rebellion was passed. repealed; it was renewed in 1816, In 1801 those measures were re- and again repealed in 1817. In pealed. In 1803 broke out what 1822 it was once more renewed, was called Emmett’s rebellion, and and continued in operation during both the measures just mentioned 1823 and 1824. In 1825 Parliawere renewed. În 1804 they ment passed an act for the supwere continued. In 1806 they pression of illegal associations. had expired; but the west and That act continued in operation south of Ireland, under the admi- during 1826 and 1827, and expired nistration of the duke of Bedford, in 1828. The session of 1829 were in such a state of insubordi- commenced by another act for the nation, that a special commission was suppression of the Catholic Associappointed. In the following year, ation. Coupling those facts with 1807, the Insurrection act the divided councils of the king, passed. This act authorised the and the disunited state of parlialord-lieutenant to suspend trial ment, had he not, he asked, estabby jury, and render it a transport- lished his first position,-namely, able offence to be out of doors that matters could not remain as between sunset and sunrisc. The they were; that there must now be Insurrection act continued in force an end to a neutral government, during 1808 and 1809, and was and that there ought to be an repealed in 1810. It had been united cabinet, determined either to asked, why government had not offer unqualified resistance to consuppressed the Catholic Association, cessions, or prepared to consider the as if that body were an evil that possibility of adjusting thequestion. had just started into existence. The next question was, whe
That body had existed long previ- ther an united government, deously, though not under the same termined to offer permanent retitle. There had been a Catholic sistance, in the present state of Committee,-a body formed of the country, could be formed, delegates, consisting of ten persons and could go on? Now to from different parts of Ireland. him every consideration connected Two trials took place, in one of with the question made it dewhich the parties were convicted, monstrable, that such a governand in the other they were ac- ment, even if formed, would not quitted. In 1814, another Catho- be able to conduct the affairs of
the country to any good purpose. same intolerable state of alarm, The first thing required of them discord, and confusion, to which would be, to put down the Catho- they had now come. lic Association; and how would
But suppose the Association put they manage that? Before the down, what would such a governintroduction of the act of 1825, ment do with the elective franthe opinions of the law officers chise? A dissolution of parliaof the crown in England and ment had been called for. Well, Ireland had been taken; and both suppose it done. He could easily had declared that the common believe that a dissolution, so far law was not sufficient to meet the as this country went, would add evil. Towards the close of the to the numerical strength of the last session, when the Association opponents of concession; but he had begun to adopt more violent was convinced it would not render courses, which government was the settlement of the question prepared to resist, the opinions of practicable without concession. But, the law-officers of the crown were even if, by such means, a governagain taken, as to whether the ment so constituted might be able common law was sufficient to meet to carry a measure for the supthe evil; and their unanimous pression of the Association, and answer was, that it was not suffi- might be able to carry through the cient to put that body down. supplies of the year, what mode, Then, if these remedies were inef- he would ask, could they adopt for. fectual, where was the remedy ? carrying on the internal government If it were true, as he believed it of Ireland ? First, they should was, that there was in the system, look at the constituent body of as it now existed, an elasticity that country-for this was a most which could not be wholly re- important matter for the considerpressed, though a law might be ation of a government formed on carried for putting down those the principle of opposition to conmeetings, still, if the causes were cession. Now it appeared that, allowed to continue, the agitation of the Irish members who voted on would be increased, and the evil the Catholic question last year, would continue in an aggravated there were 61 representatives of form. But would the parliament, counties. Of that number 45 voted one branch of which last year for concession, and 16 in favour of voted in favour of concession, by a resistance to the claims. Of the majority of 272 votes to 266, members for large towns in Irenow be willing, at the call of a land, 16 voted against concession, government opposed to concession, and 17 in favour of it; making, in to pass a fresh measure of coer- the whole, 62 in favour of cona eion? He doubted the fact that cession, and 32 against it. He it would enable government to had been told, twenty-three coun-, carry any measure founded upon ties in Ireland were ready to folthe principle of permanent resist- low the example of the county of ance to those claims.
Clare. Now, let those who thought government, therefore, could not so add the probable increase of cope with the Association ; that numbers which that would prois, under such a government, duce (though he was willing to things would continue in the admit that even in that case many
of the present members would be Catholics, and 2,000,000 Protestre-elected in those counties), and ants of all denominations. At first they would see that a government, sight, it might be supposed that constituted on a principle of resist- the government could be carried on ance to concession, would have the by means of the 2,000,000 of whole or the great majority of the Protestants; but then it should be representative and constituent body considered, that, of those Protestof Ireland against it. In this case, ants, there were 1,200,000 residing separated as Ireland was from in Ulster. They were then to England, he would contend, that, consider, how they could conduct with such a feeling of opposition such a government in Munster, to government on the part of the Leinster, and Connaught, where representatives and constituents, the Catholics were 4,250,000, and there would be constituted a moral the Protestants only 750,000 ; influence opposed to the local where there were not only whole government, which would render it parishes, but whole districts of impossible to carry it on. The country, even to the extent of ten remedy therefore could not be contiguous parishes. without a found in a dissolution of parlia- single Protestant. How could the ment. But still, a government administration of justice be carried united on the principle of resist- on in those places? In the withance might try one other remedy, drawal of the civil privileges, were viz. they might retract the privi- they to withdraw the trial by jury? leges they had already granted, If they left that, the re-enactment and which they found too power- of the penal code would be useless, ful for their control; but in that for it would be impossible that the case they would open a chapter, laws could be executed fully, as which, beginning with the recal far as the interference of a jury was of privileges, might render mea- necessary, where a great body sures of a stronger and much of the people had an interest in demore coercive character necessary. feating them. With the country It appeared to him that no govern- in that state, with such a feeling ment could do that; or, if they did, on the part of the Catholics, who it would lead to a struggle, which, formed in the country generally if pushed to its legitimate conse- the great majority, and in large quences, must end in a result districts almost the sole population, little short of the re-enactment of there could be no security for the the penal laws. We had already Protestant establishment, backed as gone too far to render such a course the views of the Catholics would practicable. We had removed the be by a powerful alliance in parseal from the vessel, and suffered liament. Let it also be considered, the great spirit to escape. We that, in the continued resistance to had no means of conjuring him concession, a government would back again to his former narrow have to fight the battle not only limits. In round numbers, and with the Catholics, but also against allowing for the increase of popu- protestants, who conscientiously lation which had taken place supported their claims. Let the since the last census, the population House look at the declaration of of Ireland was 7,000,000. Of the Protestants, which had recently these, 5,000,000 were Roman been before the public. That de