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Parliament was opened, Februa- py than usual; and, in yielding his ry 3d, 1825, by commission from praise to the liberal policy of the the king. The speech congratu- ministry, undertook to claim their lated the two houses upon the great late acts, as the suggestion of the prosperity of the nation ; all whose opposition. Mr. Canning replied interests were declared to be in with uncommon felicity, and poiga thriving state. The external con- nancy of humor. In the course of dition of the country, excepting the his retort, he said :-war in India, was stated to be emi. “As in the progress of his parnently peaceful and happy, and that liamentary life, the gentleman had the government continued to re- proposed and supported every speceive from all foreign powers, as- cies and degree of innovation surances of their unabated desire to which could be practised in a setpreserve the general tranquillity. tled government, it was not very The principal inquiries recom- easy for ministers to do any thing mended in it were, the state of in the affair of South America, or Ireland ; the evils arising from the any other, without seeming to borreligious associations of that dis- row from the gentleman. In the tracted country; and the farther reign of queen Anne, there was a encouragement of trade, by the re- sage and grave critic, of the name moval of inconvenient restrictions. of Dennis, who got it into his head,
The regular addresses were that he wrote all the good plays moved in the lords and commons, that were acted at that time. At in answer to the speech from the last a tragedy came forth, with a throne. It was really difficult for most imposing storm of hail and the opposition members to find to- thunder. At the first peal, “That's pics of censure against the minis- my thunder,' said Dennis. So with try, so tranquil had been the state the learned gentleman ; there was of the country, and so generally no noise or stir for the good of acceptable the conduct of the mi- mankind in any part of the globe, nistry. Still, to keep up the rou- but he instantly claimed it for his tine of opposition, the addresses thunder.” were resisted. The chief topic of At that time, indeed, the miniscomplaint was, the oppression of try had good reason to use a bold the catholics. Beside this fertile tone in their discussions with the subject of angry debate, little could minority; as the flourishing and be found to object to, in the mea. tranquil condition of the kingsures of the government. Mr. dom, naturally reflected some creBrougham was, therefore, less hap- dit on their management of affairs. The principal manufactures were ious to the notice of the governin full operation ; agricultural dis- ment, by the energetic language tress no longer met the eye ; mo- used at its meetings. It began to ney was abundant for all the pur- act in 1823, and now embraced a poses of trade, and overflowed in numerous body of the Irish gentry various speculations, which gave and aristocracy. It pursued the a temporary activity to the mer. parliamentary forms of proceedcantile classes, although followed, ing; and its debates being public, in the sequel, by unexpected and it soon rose to be the rallying point ruinous pecuniary difficulties. The of all the hopes of the Irish pagreat subject of debate, in parlia- triots ; who remembering the time, ment, was the situation of Ireland, when the interests of Ireland were and, more especially, its catholic protected in an Irish parliament, population, which had but partially turned to this association with all recovered from its late disturbed that fondness, which men feel and suffering state, entailed upon it at the restoration of that, which by poverty, oppression, and impro- has been to them lost for years. vidence. That afflicted island was Among its members were some, now comparatively tranquil; and probably, who, indignant at the the catholic association, who claim- wrongs of their country, oversteped the merit of this, deemed it a ped the bounds of moderation in favorable occasion, once more, to their tone, perhaps in their views; seek for the removal of the catho- but the great bulk of them were lic disabilities, that stigma upon men of pure characters and upright the principles of the English go. intentions. Foremost in name and vernment. But the earliest im- talents, was Mr. Daniel O'Connel, portant act of parliament, was aim- a catholic barrister, of an ancient ed at the very existence of that as- Irish family, who nobly sustained sociation itself.
the cause of his religion and his The catholic association was a country. Constituted in this manbody of Irishmen, chiefly catho- ner, having complete organization lics, voluntarily associated for the throughout the island, and agents protection of the catholic popula- or correspondents in every district, tion of Ireland ; for promoting the it necessarily exercised a powerful great cause of their emancipation; influence over the feelings, if not and for redressing all grievances the condition, of Ireland. affecting the island. It levied sums A bill was introduced by Mr. of money from the catholics, to be Goulburn, in the beginning of the used in these objects; and, at this session, declaring unlawful, all assoperiod, became peculiarly obnox- ciations of this nature, which after long debates, in each house, was ministry now contained more liberal finally passed by large majorities, elements. Mr. Canning being and received the royal assent. It known to be favorable to the cause had the undivided support of the of tolerance, and common sense, ministry ; several of them, who great reliance was placed upon his were in favor of catholic emancipa- talents, his popularity, and his inflution, thinking, nevertheless, that ence in the cabinet, and in parliathe association ought not to exist. ment. The Irish catholics, thereThe catholic association yielded to fore, and their friends, combined to the law without a struggle ; but a make a deliberate and serious atnew one was immediately formed, tempt, to gain admission to the of a nature not to conflict with the rights of British subjects. statute. Whilst the new associa- In order to render the measure tion was founded expressly upon the of emancipation more palatable to principle of not assuming to act for the Orange party in Ireland, the the redress of grievances, in church question was brought forward in a or state ; nor assisting in the prose- new shape. Three resolutions were cution or defence of causes, still in- introduced in the house of comnocent objects enough remained, to mons; one, to remove the disabilioccupy its attention. These were, ties ; another, to make provision the promotion of public order in for the clergy of the catholic Ireland ; the encouragement of church ; and a third, to raise the liberal systems of education ; as- qualifications of voters, so that the sisting in the erection of catholic protestants need not be suddenly churches, and disseminating works overwhelmed at elections, by the in vindication of the character, great majority of the catholics. The principles, and conduct of catholics. two latter measures, being entirely
The debates on this subject, were subsidiary to the first, and familiarly only preliminary to a much more called the two wings, were abanserious effort, in behalf of the catho- doned, when the fate of that was lics. Their claims had been resisted, ascertained, and therefore, we may year after year; and the disorders, confine our narrative to the history which Ireland was fated to undergo, of the leading resolution. instead of opening the eyes of the It was offered in the house of government, and of parliament, to commons, March 1st, by sir Franthe crying injustice of condemning cis Burdett, who had been selected five sixths of the population of that by the catholic association, to bring island, to political disqualification forward their petition for relief. He forever, seemed to have had the moved the appointment of a comcontrary effect. But the English mittee, to consider the state of the .
laws on the subject, which he sup- amicable division of the ministry, ported by a speech, at once temper- upon a question of so much importate and eloquent, and was fol- ance. Mr. Canning maintained the lowed by several distinguished provisions of the bill in a most members, on the same side, among elaborate and finished speech, triwhom, Mr. Canning, and Mr. umphantly defending the cathoPlunkett, of the administration, lics, and indeed the cause of and Mr. Brougham, of the opposi- religious tolerance in all its beartion members, took a leading ings. On the other hand, his col. part. They were opposed by Mr. league, Mr. Peel, attacked the Peel, and others ; but the motion bill, with equal ardor, and with was carried, by a majority of 247 ingenuity, ill exerted, in behalf of to 234.
tory and high church principles. A bill was accordingly reported. The second reading was carried, by which set forth, that certain laws a majority of 268 to 241, and the existed, requiring all persons, pre- hopes of the catholics were justly vious to entering upon office, to raised and excited, by the seemingdeclare their disbelief in transub- ly auspicious prospect, of their apstantiation, the invocation of saints, proaching emancipation. and the sacrifice of the mass ; But in the mean time, an incideclaring that those declarations dent occurred, which proved conshould no longer be exacted, as a clusively, that their reasonable exqualification for office; and sub- pectations, were to be most unhapstituting in their place, an oath to pily disappointed. The Duke of support the act for the llanoverian York presented, in the house of succession, and a disclaimer of all lords, a petition of the dean and those doctrines, which had been canons of Windsor against cathoimputed to the catholic church, lic emancipation, as an occasion for that were incompatible with the expressing his sentiments on the Protestant succession to the Eng subject. His principal argument lish crown. The bill contained consisted in his construction of the other provisions, for the better pro- coronation-oath, which, as he contection of the rights of the crown, tended, prevented the concession. as well as of the subject. It was Stale and futile as this objection read the first time, without debate; was, an objection which even lord but underwent an animated dis- Liverpool admitted, had no weight, cussion in the second reading. On it was gravely urged by the Duke this occasion, was witnessed the of York, who, it is to be rememsomewhat novel spectacle of an bered, is heir presumptive of the
crown. He concluded his speech, indeed, appointed to inquire into with the following extraordinary ex- the state of Ireland, generally, who pressions :
reported a voluminous mass of evi“ These are the principles to dence upon the subject; but nothing which I will adhere, and which I decisive grew out of the inquiry. A will maintain, and act up to, until fruitless attempt was made in the the latest moment of my existence, house of commons, by Mr. S. Rice, whatever may be my situation in life to obtain copies of despatches from -So help me God.”
the lord lieutenant, concerning the Notwithstanding the absurdity of origin, nature, and effects of relithis speech, and its ridiculous in- gious animosities in that country. consistency, with the moral charac- Mr. Hume, also, endeavored, in ter of the prince, it produced a vain, to procure an examination of strong sensation, throughout the the possessions of the Irish procountry, and materially influenced testant church. The propositions the fate of the bill, which, although were negatived ; but on motion of it passed the commons, was lost sir John Newport, an address to in the house of lords, by a vote of the king was voted, for the purpose 178 to 130. A decision, so fatal of remedying abuses in the charter to the hopes of the catholics, was schools, in Ireland. But, while the brought about, by the unwearied friends of Ireland, failed in the great efforts of the tory party. To objects of their ambition--the effectAmericans, accustomed to the ual change of the political condition blessings of religious freedom, of its inhabitants,—their endeavor it seems extraordinary, that the was not without its beneficial conpeace of Ireland, and the harmony sequences. The opposition of lord and prosperity of the British king- Liverpool, of the duke of York, of dom, should continue to be jeopard- Mr. Peel, and of the bigoted proed, by inveterate jealousy of the testants in general, had produced catholics, as dishonorable in itself, as a result, contrary to the wishes it is pernicious in its consequences. and conviction of the unprejudiced
Such was the undeserved fate of and reflecting, of whatever denomithe catholic petitions from Ireland nation, who now spoke but a single No effective measures were taken, sentiment, and that strongly in for the relief of that unhappy king- favor of emancipation. In such a dom, although its distresses, con- manifestation of the better feeling tinually breaking forth into disor- of the English people, and in the ders of every kind, demanded the extended knowledge of their sufferspeediest consideration. A com- ings, and their rights, produced by mittee of the house of lords was, the discussion,--the Irish felt re.