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The Catholic Question-- Public Conduct of the leading Members of

the Cabinet as to that Measure--Their secret change of Policy Meeting of Parliament-Speech from the Throne--The Address.

E have recorded, in our pre- the second reading of sir Francis


of the Parliamentary discussions of majority of forty-five, which had the Catholic Question during the rejected them in the House of session of 1828.* That result did Peers, was larger than the majorinot in itself contain any thing ties on the first and second of calculated to excite, among the these former occasions, and only Protestant part of the community, three votes smaller than that of apprehensions of an approaching 1825. The Catholic leaders themchange, and still less of the king's selves, indeed, pretended to know, ministers being ready to propose that government was inclined to and support such a change, as a lend a more willing ear to their cabinet measure. The majority of demands; but, on the one hand, six, which had carried the resolu. they did not act as if they believed tions in favour of the Catholics in their own statements, for they the House of Commons, was immediately proceeded to do their smaller than that which had car- utmost to rouse Ireland into almost ried the third reading of Mr. open rebellion ; and, on the other, Plunkett's Relief Bill in 1821, and there was nothing in the state of of Mr. Canning's bill in 1822, and the cabinet, nothing in the ex

pressed sentiments of its principal Vide vol. Ixx, chap. 4.

members, nothing in the complexVOL. LXXI.


ion of public feeling, that seemed the Catholic claims had just been to justify such a prospect. The repeating their settled convictions ministry continued to be, as for that for this, and other evils affecta. years it had been, divided upon ing that part of the empire, conthe question ; but its head, the cession would afford no remedy. duke of Wellington, and Mr. The speech of Mr. Dawson at Peel, the most influential of his Londonderry, on the 12th August, colleagues, were precisely the men was the first public symptom of who had distinguished themselves the influence of the Association by their opposition to the Catholic in terrifying its opponents; but demands, on every ground both of although the sentiments of that right and of expedieney. During gentleman derived additional imthe discussions of 1828, both of portance from the relation in them, along with the lord chancel- which he stood to the Home lor, had expressed no inclination Secretary, and although they were, to desert the principles which they therefore, eagerly caught at by the had uniformly defended, and which friends of concession, as betokening had gained for the former two, on a change of opinion in more powerthis particular question, the unli- ful men, yet the vacillations of an mited confidence of that large Irish member, trembling for his majority of the community which seat, under the remembrance of the regarded concession to the Catho- Clare election, could lead no one lics as dangerous and unconstitu- to anticipate sudden defection tional. On the 10th May, 1828, among those who had less reason Mr. Peel, in his place in parlia- to drend, and whose first duty it ment, had ranked himself among was to restrain, the Catholic demathose“ in whose minds no dispo- gogues. T gh Mr. Peel's brothersition to change existed, but who in-law had announced, at a public rather found their original belief dinner, his change of opinion, Mr. strengthened by consideration." Peel himself accepted, during the He had concluded a speech, in autumn, the public banquets of which he had proved the danger the gentry and manufacturers of and unreasonableness of these de Lancashire, as the champion of mands in every point of view, the Protestant cause, without alwith stating, that he had now lowing a syllable to escape from gone over “ the grounds on which him, which could raise any suspihe had acted, and on which he had cion that he was more inclined to avowed his intention of still act- surrender the Protestant constiing” During the autumn, in- tution than he had been three deed, the Catholic leaders had pro- months before. Above all, the duced alarm over Ireland, as they correspondence between the duke had often done before, and had of Wellington and Dr. Cnrtis, organized the disaffected into a which was given to the public in body ready for confusion and December, justified the most entire rebellion ; but the country had confidence on the part of the not yet learned that an aptitude country, that his grace, and his to yield to clamour and intimida- grace's ministry, entertained no tion was one of the qualities of a purpose of yielding. The duke wise and energetic government; had written, in express words, that and the long-tried opponents of he“ saw no prospect of a settle


ment of the question :” that, in had determined to go over to the the existing state of excitation, Catholics, and, in secresy and “ it was impossible to expect to silence, were arranging their plans prevail upon men to consider it to overwhelm every attempt at dispassionately;" and that, if an resistance by the power of miultimate satisfactory arrangement nisterial influence. The consent of the question were wished for, of the king was the first thing to it would be desirable for a time, be obtained, and it was likewise “ to bury it in oblivion."* When the most difficult. His majesty's the duke of Wellington thus de- opinions against the justice and clared, on the 11th December, expediency of concession that he saw no prospect of a settle deeply rooted: the subject itself ment of the question, what man was one on the consideration of could imagine, that he had already which he did not willingly enter. resolved forthwith to force it to a What were the arguments emsettlement? When he thus repre- ployed for his majesty's conversion sented the excited state of public can be learned only from the argufeeling as opposing an insuperablements by which ministers subobstacle to the consideration of sequently attempted to justify in concession, who could believe that parliament their own change of he and his cabinet had already policy ; but, while the operations determined to push concession, in of the minister upon the royal defiance of that very feeling, and mind were going on, no whisper amidst excitation a thousand was allowed to go abroad regardtimes more violent? When he ing the measure that was in conexpressed his opinion, that the templation. There was skilful question ought to be “buried in management in this, if there was oblivion," would it not have been not much fairness. Had the deemed an insult to the under people, instead of being lulled standing, or to the honesty, of his into the confidence that those, grace to have said, that by these whom they had trusted be. words he meant the instant agita- fore, would be trust-worthy still, tion of the question in parliament, been made aware of the counsels and the agitation of it, too, as which these very men were pouring 1 government measure ? When into the royal car, the public voice the year concluded with the recal would have been heard at the of the lord lieutenant, because he foot of the throne, strengthening had used language, and pursued a the deep-rooted convictions of the line of conduct, favourable to the monarch himself, and the relucthopes of the Catholics, what man ant consent, which was ultimately could dream that the next year was wrung from him, in all probability, to begin with granting all that the would never have been obtained. Catholics had ever demanded ? When his consent was once ob

Yet so it was; while the country tained, the public voice might be was thus reposing in secure con- allowed to raise itself without fidence that the leading members danger; for he then stood pledged of the government were still faith- to his ministers, if these ministers, ful to their trust, these very men by whatever means, could only

command a majority in parliament. Vol lxx. p. (149.

It was not till after this consent

had been granted, that it began to determination to act with instant be whispered abroad, in the end of vigour against their former friends. January, and only a few days So stood matters, when Parliabefore the meeting of parliament, ment met on the 5th of February, that his majesty's ministers in- and the session was opened by comtended to recommend to parliament mission, with the following Speech, some concessions to the Catholics. which was read by the lord chanThe surprise, which the announce

cellor :ment excited, was only equalled "My Lords and Gentlemen, by the indignation and contempt “ His Majesty commands us to roused by so sudden an abandon- inform you, that he continues to ment of principle. The Protesto receive from his Allies, and geneant party found that, up to the rally from all Princes and States, very moment of the assembling of the assurance of their unabated parliament, they had been allowed desire to cultivate the most friendto rest in the belief, that the ques- ly relations with his Majesty. tion would not be stirred, or that, “ Under the mediation of His if it should be stirred, the in- Majesty, the preliminaries of a fluence of the leading members of Treaty of Peace between his Imthe cabinet would still stand in perial Majesty the Emperor of its way; while, in truth, their Brazil, and the republic of the most tried friends had been plot- united provinces of Rio de la Plata, ting and planning how they might have been signed and ratified. most successfully secure a triumph “ His Majesty has concluded a to the enemy, and were conceal- convention with the king of Spain ing, at the same time, their in- for the final settlement of the tended defection, up to the instant claims of British and Spanish subwhen the contest was to begin. jects, preferred under the treaty It seems impossible to acquit the signed at Madrid, on the 12th of duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel March, 1823. of having acted, in this part of the “ His Majesty has directed a affair, with a disingenuousness copy of this convention to be laid which might be perfectly in its before you; and His Majesty replace in a miserable political in- lies upon your assistance to enable trigue, but which tainted their him to execute some of its provicharacter as public men in relation sions. to a question of such vast and vital “His Majesty laments that his importance. They knew that they diplomatic relations with Portugal were trusted by the Protestant are still necessarily suspended. party as the champions who were Deeply interested in the prosto be ready armed, whenever the perity of the Portuguese Monarchy, Catholics should advance against His Majesty has entered into nethe constitution. If they had gociations with the head of the grown weary of the service, and House of Braganza, in the hope of were resolved to abandon it for terminating a state of affairs which the adverse side, there would is incompatible with the permanent have been more manliness and fair- tranquillity and welfare of Portugal. ness, though less craft, in an- “ His Majesty commands us to nouncing from the first their own assure you, that he has laboured change of sentiment, and their unremittingly to fulfil the stipula

tions of the treaty of the 6th of king of France to suspend the coJuly, 1827, and to effect, in con- operation of their forces with those cert with his Allics, the pacifica- of his Imperial Majesty, in consetion of Greece.

quence of this resumption of the “The Morea has been liberated exercise of his belligerent rights, from the presence of the Egyptian the best understanding prevails and Turkish forces.

between the three Powers, in their “This important object has been endeavours to accomplish the reaccomplished by the successful ex- maining objects of the treaty of ertions of the naval forces of His London. Majesty and of his Allies, which “ Gentlemen of the House of led to a convention with the Pacha

Commons, of Egypt; and finally, by the skil- “We are commanded by His ful disposition and exemplary con- Majesty to acquaint you, that the duct of the French army, acting estimates for the current year will by the commands of His Most forthwith be laid before you. His Christian Majesty, on the behalf Majesty relies on your readiness of the Alliance.

to grant the necessary supplies, "The troops of His Most Christ- with a just regard to the exigencies ian Majesty having completed the of the public service, and to the task assigned to them by the Allies, economy which His Majesty is have commenced their return to anxious to enforce in every departe France.

ment of the State. “ It is with great satisfaction "His Majesty has the satisfacthat His Majesty informs you, that tion to announce to you the contiduring the whole of these opera- nued improvement of the Revenue. tions, the most cordial union has “The progressive increase in subsisted between the forces of the that branch of it which is derived three Powers by sea and land. from articles of internal consump

“ His Majesty deplores the con- tion is peculiarly gratifying to His tinuance of hostilities between the Majesty, as affording a decisive emperor of Russia and the Otto- indication of the stability of the man Porte.

national resources, and of the in"His Imperial Majesty, in the creased comfort and prosperity of prosecution of those hostilities, has his people. considered it necessary to resume

My Lords and Gentlemen, the exercise of his belligerent 6. The state of Ireland has been rights in the Mediterranean, and the object of His Majesty's contihas established a blockade of the nued solicitude. Dardanelles.

“His Majesty laments that in "From the operation of this that part of the United Kingdom blockade, those commercial enter- an Association should still exist, prises of his Majesty's subjects which is dangerous to the public have been exempted, which were peace, and inconsistent with the undertaken upon the faith of His spirit of the Constitution; which Majesty's declaration to his parlia- keeps alive discord and ill-will ment respecting the neutrality of amongst His Majesty's subjects; the Mediterranean Sea.

and which must, if permitted to “Although it has become indis- continue, effectually obstruct every pensable for His Majesty and the effort permanently to improve the

condition of Ireland,

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