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emoved, before the greater becomes the object of legislative interference-I ish to bring the one up to the level of the other ; or, rather, I do not wish
be guilty of the partiality of relieving the Dissenter from that which is nerely nominal, while the Catholic labours under real and substantial disbilities, and has, in fact, great grievances to complain of. It is upon hese grounds, sir, that I am unwilling to accede to the motion of the noble ord-- just as the measure may be, in the abstract-expedient as it may be, nder any circumstances—and indifferent as it may be to the interests of he established church ;-I am unwilling, I say, sir, to be so unjust towards he Catholics as to remove from others, or mitigate, I might say, an imagiary grievance, while real inflictions press upon them. While their feters yet remain to be struck off, I can never consent to the demands of the Dissenters.”
The ground taken by the noble viscount, in this instance, is precisely Chat which was assumed by the late Mr. Canping; but, happily for the country, a majority of the House of Commons thought it untenable; and Mr. Peel and the Duke of Wellington found it necessary to yield to the public voice, and abolish the Corporation and Test acts before the Catholic relief bill came under consideration. It is due to Lord Palmerston, however, to add, that no sooner was the bill carried against his own vote and peech, than he rejoiced that an object was consummated, which would stablished a good understanding between the established church and the dissenters.
The removal of the Catholic disabilities, however, travelled quickly on he heels of the repeal of the Corporation and Test acts. It was only in March, 1829, that Mr. Secretary Peel brought forward that important measure, in which he proposed to do away with the votes of the forty-shilling freeholders in Ireland, and raise the elective franchise to £10 householders. Lord Palmerston, though in office, opposed this alteration, in a short speech, worthy of the statesman who in a few years was to take part in a Reform Administration.
Lord Palmerston said, that however unwilling he might be to oppose a measure which was said to be ultimately connected with the great measure which was intended to give tranquillity to Ireland, he was induced by insurmountable feelings of dislike to this bill to meet it with his opposition. The House had been told that the bill for granting Catholic emancipation, and the present measure, were inseparably connected. He denied that parliament had made any such bargain with the Government. The price required for Catholic emancipation was the immediate suppression of the Catholic Association; and that price having been paid, it was impossible, in the event of the bill before the House being defeated, for the Government to turn round, and refuse to fulfil its part of the bargain. It was absurd to suppose that Government could withhold emancipation. No ministry could do so. The house had been told that the measures of Government were proposed in the spirit of peace; but to him it appeared that the present bill was conceived in something like the spirit of vengeance. But the only offence of the persons against whom the bill was directed was, that they had exercised their privilege honestly and independently, and according to the dictates of their conscience. One of the other arguments in support of the bill was, that the forty-shilling freeholders were influenced by the priests, and that it was dangerous to leave them in possession of the power they now held. If the bill were passed on that ground, how could it be said that Catholics were admitted to an equality of political privileges ? The one measure proposed by Government would defeat the other, and a Catholic
question would still remain to be discussed. It was said that ladha in Ireland were too prone to subdivide their estates, with the view of otuing political influence; but this evil might safely be left to cure itself.
He believed this statement was not borne out by facts, and that in tar the system was the other way. During the last three or four Feu attempts had been made to thin the population of Ireland, and advance a social condition, without considering the misery which such efforts sioned to large bodies of people. It was said that the present me: would have the effect of giving to Ireland substantial yeomanry: Hoor able members would not wait until the progress of events worked out the desirable object; but were determined to cut the matter short, and edit: at once by legal enactment. If the bill were passed, and a £10 established, could they be compared with the yeomanry of England? ! would soon be discovered that the £10 yeomanry were of too low a da mination, and that it was necessary to raise the qualification to 19.2 indeed it would be difficult to know at what point to stop. The subdis of property iu Ireland depended mainly on the state of society in that esttry, and any sudden attempt at consolidation in a country where there for no manufactures to afford employment to the superabundant populate
: could only be productive of extensive misery. In Ireland, the populer of which was seven millions, there were only thirty towns which contat. more than 5,000 inhabitants, whilst in Scotland, whose population to but two million, there were thirty-three towns containing more than 5." inhabitants. It was in vain to endeavour, by arbitrary enactments
, to 2 cipate the progress of society. He trusted Government would consent to Me the present elective system of Ireland remain, contenting itself with cores ing the abuses connected with it.
How Lord Palmerston contrived to make his peace with the Duke Wellington, for presuming to differ from the Commander-in-Chief," → know not; but in advocating the grand measure, the repeal of the Catha disabilities, his lordship managed to make ample amends for his presis delinquency. He delivered a speech in support of the bill, which vu highly applauded at the moment, and is still regarded as the ablest addres that was produced in the House of Commons on that memorable occasse Though it suffers not a little from the imperfection which must unavoidant attend a newspaper report, it is still worthy of being preserved as a rer: of the noble viscount's enlightened judgment and superior talents.
Lord Palmerston said, the honourable member for Newark, (Mr. Sadwho had last night spoken in that house for the first time, had, in's eloquent and able speech, thought it necessary to apologize for even tom. :ing upon the state of Ireland—an apology altogether unnecessary, & somewhat curious. The honourable member seemed to think that althout the state of Ireland was the cause of the measure upon which be addresses the House, yet that he might deal with the poor-laws, with political com nomy, with education, and with all other matters, but the great mattes & all, the state of Ireland—the state of the country most concerned in the que tion—was not to be mentioned at all. It was, however, upon a view of the condition of Ireland that he (Lord Palmerston) was prepared to support in bill. But before he proceeded further, he wished to offer a few remis upon some arguments which had fallen from the member for Corfe Case and another honourable gentleman. He esteemed as much as any borzar able member could, the character and the conduct of those great men as effected the revolution of 1688; and he thought it was but a very ill cepliment to the memory of those illustrious persons to say, that their step
e followed by illiberality, excluding any of our fellow-subjects from the sings of the constitution in consequence of their religious opinions. He la very different version from some honourable gentlemen, in the motives
proceedings of those men. The honourable member for Corfe Castle . brought forward the declaration of the Prince of Orange, as a proof of correctness of the view which that honourable gentleman took of the stion, when he opposed this bill, and contended that that declaration ; framed and entirely directed to the exclusion of the Roman Catholics n political power. He would not deny that much was levelled against Roman Catholics; but he had greatly misread that declaration, who ifined its intention to so narrow a view. If properly read, it took a much re comprehensive and enlightened scope. The noble lord then went through the different clauses of the declaration, I contended that it was levelled not merely or principally against the man Catholics, but against the perversion of the laws, and the establishint of despotic power. That declaration described who the evil counlors were to whom it alluded, and set them forth as persons who—when ey found they could not by intrigue or violence command the votes of rliament-recommended to the king that the parliament should be dislved. And what was the remedy proposed by it? Why, a new parliaent or convention was summoned, and for what purpose ? Why, for the irpose of preparing such new laws, and making such new provisions and rangements, as should be considered by it necessary for the settlement of e kingdom; and also for the purpose of establishing a good understandg between the Protestant established church and the Protestant Disnters. The latter object had not been effected, however, until last year, hen it was happily consummated. And the last great object for which at convention met was, to secure to all persons who had lived peaceably nd properly, perfect security and toleration in their religious opinions, ne papists themselves not even being excepted. These were the opinions f that great religious radical, King William ! If the objects and opinions f that monarch had really been such as they had been represented to be, here would be every reason to deplore his ever having landed in this counry, rather than to rejoice in the event, and to bless his memory. King Villiam, however, came not with Protestantism in one hand and the axe of ntolerance in the other : he came with peace and toleration on his lips, and eligious and civil liberty upon his banners.
The noble lord then alluded to the state of Ireland, and, after stating hat it was the great reason why he supported this measure, he depicted its deplorable condition in glowing colours. In opposition to the measure, it nad been observed, that if thirty, forty, or fifty Roman Catholics gained admission into that house, they would use their best endeavours to subvert the constitution; but it had not been exactly explained how they were to accomplish the task. It should be remembered, however, that although a small party might, by throwing its weight into nearly poised balances, give the preponderance to one, yet that the measures which it was supposed the Catholics would be desirous to carry, were of such a nature that they could succeed only when they could support them by a decided majority; and that being the case, it was impossible that thirty or forty Roman Catholics could effect their adoption. But it was said that in the case of a tottering, weak ministry, the Roman Catholics might, by their co-operation and assistance, obtain a mastery. Such a supposition was absurd. The very moment a ministry so misconducted itself, it would be deserted by every Protestant, and crushed by its own baseness or folly, The honourable baronet, the
member for Kent, had said, that he did not object to the admission of Roman Catholics to political power from any objection to their general.ca duct, but from some of their religious tenets. The honourable bare course could not allude to such imputed tenets as “there is no faith : kept with heretics,” but referred, he supposed, to the presumption, that. Roman Catholics would give only a divided allegiance to the king. Catholics positively and solemnly denied the tenets attributed to t... they had done so over and over again, and he believed them when they
But even if they were not sincere in their denial, that would maka difference in his opinion, for he did not see what the objectionable to had to do with the question. If the question was, as to whether to should be any Catholics or not, he would say, as decidedly and as reze. as the honourable baronet-No. But then the Roman Catholics were ta —they were with their tenets, whether good or ill—and the only quesa to be considered was, what was to be done with them? The questia T. whether a new attempt should be made to depress, subdue, or extern: them, or whether, by conciliation and kindness, they should be conver into friends and supporters of the common interest ? For his own part, hoped to see the latter course adopted.
The only professed objection to the admission of the Roman Catholics. political power was, that they held a divided allegiance. The Catt utterly denied that such was the fact; and as a proof of the truth of denial, said to the Protestant, “ Frame what oath you please, binding to temporal allegiance to the king, and I will truly take it.” And ifte said in reply, that oaths were but words, and words but air, he .. remind those who made such an answer, that the Roman Catholics admitted at present to the command of fleets and of armies, and mu." appeal to the exploits they had performed in their military capacity. Catholics were likely or inclined to treat oaths lightly, in what sitez were they so likely to do so as in the navy or army, where they were dist. from control, and exposed to temptation? The act by which they " admitted to the command of the navy and army, was not framed at time of the revolution of 1688. No, it certainly was not: it was passed". more modern times, and many of the opponents of the present bill alk. it to pass without opposition. What then was the fact? Wby, yout the outposts of your camp, you trust the outworks of your fortress, and e parts most accessible to intrigue and collision with the enemy, into 3 custody of Roman Catholics; but you will not admit them into the bear your citadel, where they will be surrounded by guards and checks, if the should be disposed to play you false. They would give the Roman Cat lics the command of Aeets and of armies, even in those perilous time when the fate of the nation might depend upon the result of a battle, uz they would do so without apprehension; but they would not consent to as one Catholic into that House, where he would only be one among Bars where his language and his actions would be made fully known, and was proceedings were carried at the dawn of day, upon wings scarcely less than those of the winds, to the most distant parts of the empire, and eveta where freely discussed and canvassed.
Much had been said respecting the wisdom of their ancestors; and, ce tainly, upon
the question before the House, their ancestors appeared have the advantage. Their ancestors hated the Roman Catholics, ex perhaps had some cause; they themselves hated the Roman Catholics and had none.
Their ancestors attempted to extirpate the Catholics, 33 set about it in right good earnest, deeming a Catholic a sort of dangerou
ind ferocious beast of prey, and, treating him as such, drove him into his astnesses. They hated the Catholics, but permitted them to walk about heir cities, to be seen in the neighbourhood of their gardens, and thought i sufficient if they only closed against them the portals of the temple of ustice. If the Catholics were dangerous, they had gone too far-but they could not recede; and if they were not dangerous, they had not gone far enough. The elements of political power were numbers, wealth, and intelligence; and these they had permitted Catholics to acquire. Yet, while the Catholics were going on, daily adding to their importance, they still went on discussing the danger, if Catholics should acquire any further political power. Why, those persons who swayed the passions and commanded the actions of five or six millions of Catholics possessed political power, if there was any meaning in words. He called upon the house to strip these men of the dangerous power they possessed—to conPert them into supports of the empire; he called upon the house, as skilful physicians, to extract the poison, and to convert it into a restorative.”
The remainder of the speech, which our limits compel us to omit, was in the same liberal and manly strain of just argument.
In November 1830, the Wellington Administration terminated its existance, and in that which succeeded and which was hailed with the increasing confidence of the country Viscount Palmerston was appointed secretary for foreign affairs. His mind was prepared, as we have already perceived, to enter into those liberal measures for the furtherance of which the Whigs were particularly called into power, and we accordingly find Lord Palmerston advocating the Reform Bill with great clearness and energy of argument. On the 3rd March 1830, he made an able speech in support of this important measure, in which he insisted that the demand for Reform was national, and arose from every class of society in a people who “had always been remarkable for a tenacious attachment to their national institutions.” It was to an obstinate defiance of what was obviously the opinion of the public, that the late administration owed its fall. His lordship then declared that disregard of public opinion had been the occasion of much misgovernment at home, as well as of great and alarming dangers abroad. He very ably rebuked those who had thrown out taunts against himself and others, who had been the admirers of Mr. Canning.
“What Mr. Canning's opinion on the question of reform would now have been, had he lived to the present day, it was not for him to say; but they were bad expounders of Mr. Canning's opinions, who looked for them in particular sentiments, expressed at particular times, and did not scrutinize the principles by which his public life was guided. If any man took a great and enlarged view of human affairs, without doubt, that eminent statesman did ; and he would venture to say, that had Mr. Canning lived in the present day, and stood in the same circumstances in which he (Lord Palmerston) stood, his great genius would have at once comprehended the necessity on which the opinions of the government were founded, and would have stated to the house, in his (Lord Palmerston's) belief, the same sentiments which he (Lord Palmerston) was now expressing. If any honourable member wanted to learn the opinions of Mr. Canning, let him refer to the speech delivered by that gentleman in February, 1826, on the freedom of the silk trade, when he expressed himself in a manner very applicable to the present occasion--saying, “That those who resisted improvement, because it was innovation, might find themselves compelled to accept innovation, when it had ceased to be improvement.' His Lordship proceeded to point out that the very limited reform that
2D. SERIES, NO. 47.- VOL. IV.
191.- VOL. XVI.