The Greeks had been struggling to emancipate themselves from the tyrannical dominion of the Turks, aided in their war of independence only by the voluntary contributions and personal services of enthusiastic friends of freedom, like Lord Byron. At length, however, the sanguinary nature of the contest, and the injury to commerce by piracy, induced the Great Powers of Europe to interfere in order to put an end to the war. Accordingly, on the 6th of July, 1827, a treaty was signed in London by the Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Russia, for the pacification of Greece. In pursuance of this treaty, a joint expedition, consisting of British, French, and Russian ships, entered the Bay of Navarino on the 20th of October, with the object of compelling the Sultan to concede an armistice, in order that there might be time for effecting an arrangement. The Sultan, Mahmoud, having declined the mediation of the combined Powers, and Ibrahim Pasha having received a large reinforcement of troops from Egypt, he was ordered to put down the insurrection at every cost by land and sea. He had accordingly recommenced the war with fanatical fury. All Greeks found in arms were to be put to the sword, and the Morea was to be laid waste. The combined fleet of the Allies had received orders to demand an armistice, and if this were refused by the Turkish admiral, they were to intercept the Turkish supplies, but not to commit hostilities. When the Turkish fleet met the Allies, the futility of these instructions became evident. They found it ranged at the bottom of the bay, in the form of a crescent. Instead of parleying, the Turks began to fire, and the battle commenced apparently without plan on either side. It soon became general. Admiral Codrington, in the Asia, opened a broadside upon the Egyptian admiral, and soon reduced his ship to a wreck; others in rapid succession shared the same fate. The conflict lasted with great fury for four hours. When the smoke cleared off, the enemy had disappeared, and the bay was strewn with the fragments of their ships. Among the Allies, the loss of the British was greatest, though not large—only 75 men killed and 197 wounded. The catastrophe produced immense excitement at Constantinople, and had the Janissaries (those fierce and bigoted defenders of Mohammedanism whom the Sultan had so recently extirpated) been still in existence, it would have fared ill with Christians in that part of the world. The Sultan demanded satisfaction, which would not be granted, and the European ambassadors left Constantinople. The battle of Navarino occurred at the time when the Duke of Wellington assumed the reins of office, our ambassador having then returned from Constantinople.
Parliament was opened by commission on the 29th of January, four days after the formation of the Wellington Ministry. The Royal Speech referred chiefly to the affairs of the East, to the rights of neutral nations violated by the revolting excesses of the Greeks and Turks, to the battle of Navarino with the fleet of an ancient ally, which was lamented as an “untoward event;” but hopes were expressed that it might not lead to further hostilities. The Speech alluded to the increase of exports and the more general employment of the people as indications of returning prosperity. The phrase “untoward” was objected to by Lords Lansdowne and Goderich. Lord Holland denied that our relations
with Turkey were those of an alliance; but the Duke of Wellington contended that the Ottoman empire was an ancient ally of Great Britain, that it formed an essential part of the balance of power, and that the maintenance of its independent existence was more than ever necessary as an object of European policy.
The Duke of Wellington had some difficulty in producing due subordination among the members of his Government at the outset. At Liverpool, Mr. Huskisson, in addressing his constituents, by way of apology for serving under a Tory chief, said that in taking office he had obtained guarantees for the future Liberal course of the Government. The Duke resented this assertion, and in the House of Lords, on the 11th of February, with some warmth, contradicted the statement, and declared that pledges had neither been asked nor given, and that if they had been asked, they would have been indignantly refused. Mr. Huskisson
explained, in the Commons, that by guarantees he had meant only that the past conduct and character of his colleagues furnished pledges for the future course of the Ministry. Another cause of misunderstanding arose, on the 19th of the same month, with reference to the disfranchisement of East Retford. A Bill had been brought in for that purpose. A portion of the Cabinet were for the enlargement of the constituency by taking in the neighbouring hundred of Bassetlaw; but the constituency had obtained permission to be heard by counsel before the Lords, and they produced such an impression that the Duke of Wellington hesitated about the propriety of the measure. Another party were for transferring the members to Birmingham. The course Mr. Huskisson is represented to have taken on this question seems so tortuous that it is not easy to account for it. The Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel were understood to have advocated in the Cabinet the disfranchisement of East Retford, and the transference of its members to Birmingham. Mr. Huskisson, conceiving that he was in honour bound to adhere to an arrangement that Mr. Canning had made, voted for throwing open the franchise, and carried his point. They produced their Bill accordingly, and were met, as in the kindred case of Penryn, with a counter-proposal for transferring the members to Birmingham. Against this Mr. Huskisson argued, as tending to weaken too much and too suddenly the agricultural interest. The second reading was proposed on the 19th of May, and an animated debate ensued, in which the chief speakers on the Ministerial side were Mr. Peel and Mr. Huskisson. Nobody appeared to suspect that Mr. Huskisson did not intend to support with his vote the measure which as a speaker he had recommended. Such, however, proved to be the fact. A division took place, and Mr. Huskisson and Lord Palmerston, very much to the astonishment of all parties, went into the lobby against the Ministerial proposal. At two o’clock that night Mr. Huskisson wrote a letter to the Duke, which his Grace received at ten in the morning, in which he said, “I owe it to you, as the head of the Administration, and to Mr. Peel, as leader of the House of Commons, to lose no time in affording you an opportunity of placing my office in other hands.” The Duke very naturally took this as a resignation, but Mr. Huskisson denied that it was so meant. An irritating correspondence ensued, and Mr. Huskisson left the Cabinet, as he affirmed, against his will. All the followers of Mr. Canning went with him—namely, Lord Dudley from the Foreign Office, Lord Palmerston from the War Office, and Mr. C. Grant from the Board of Control. They were succeeded by Lord Aberdeen as Foreign Secretary, Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald at the Board of Control, and Sir Henry Hardinge as Secretary at War. Such was the constitution of the Government, with all its Liberalism thus expurgated, which repealed the Test and Corporation Acts, and carried Catholic Emancipation. The king was particularly anxious to have a strong Government. He was still firm in his resistance to Catholic Emancipation. The very mention of the subject by his Ministers produced a degree of excitement and irritation which made their intercourse with him occasionally unpleasant. The Duke of Wellington seemed, of all men, the least likely to give way on the subject. In the debate on the Test and Corporation Acts, he said, “There is no person in this House whose feelings and sentiments, after long consideration, are more decided than mine are with respect to the Roman Catholic claims; and I must say that, until I see a great change in that question, I must oppose it.”
On the 28th of February Lord John Russell proposed and carried a resolution that the House of Commons should go into committee to inquire into the operation of the Test and Corporation Acts, with a view to their repeal. From the very foundation of the Established Church at the Reformation the most stringent measures were adopted to put down Nonconformity, to render the Church and State identical in their constituent elements, and to preserve the uniformity and secure the perpetuity of the faith which had been established. The Dissenters, however, maintained that the Act of Uniformity had utterly failed to accomplish its object. They observed that at first the Reformed Church was Calvinistic in its articles, its clergy, and its preaching; that it then became Arminian and overcharged with ceremony under Laud; that it was latitudinarian in the days of William and Anne; that in more modern times it had been divided into “High Church,” and “Low Church,” and “Broad Church;” that subscription did not prevent the greatest variety and even the most positive contrariety of doctrine and religious opinion, referring, for illustration, to the rise and progress of the “Evangelical” and the “Anglican” parties. They further contended that the Act had failed in one of its main objects—namely, in keeping all Protestants within the pale of the Church, as, so far as actual membership or communicants were concerned, the adherents to the Establishment were now in a minority. In vain, then, were 2,000 clergymen ejected from their parishes, followed by 60,000 earnest Protestants, who, by fines, imprisonment, or voluntary exile, suffered on account of their Nonconformity. This persecution had an effect the opposite of what had been anticipated. If, as Hume remarked, every martyrdom in the Marian persecution was worth to Protestantism and liberty a hundred sermons against Popery, so every act of persecution against the Nonconformists was of value to the religious life of the nation. In consequence of the development of that life, the Toleration Act became a necessity; and from the accession of George II. an annual Indemnity Act was passed.
Sanguine though the Dissenters had been respecting the growth of the principles of civil and religious liberty, of which the seeds had been sown in tears by the early Puritan confessors, they did not anticipate that the harvest was at hand. As their claims were not embarrassed by any question of divided allegiance or party politics, many members of Parliament who had not supported the relief of the Roman Catholics found themselves at liberty to advocate the cause of the Protestant Nonconformists; while almost all who had supported the greater measure of Emancipation felt themselves bound by consistency to vote for the abolition of the sacramental test. Yet the victory was not achieved without a struggle. Lord John Russell said:—”The Government took a clear, open, and decided part against us. They summoned their followers from every part of the empire. Nay, they issued a sort of ‘hatti-sheriff’ for the purpose; they called upon every one within their influence who possessed the faith of a true Mussulman to follow them in opposing the measure. But, notwithstanding their opposition in the debate, their arguments were found so weak, and in the division their numbers were found so deficient, that nothing could be more decided than our triumph.”
BATTLE OF NAVARINO: THE “ASIA” ENGAGING THE SHIPS OF THE CAPITAN BEY AND MOHURREM BEY. (See p. 262.)
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Lord John Russell, who introduced the measure, Lord Althorp, Mr. Smith of Norwich, and Mr. Ferguson pleaded the cause of the Dissenters with unanswerable arguments. They showed that the Church was not now in danger; that there was no existing party bent on subverting the Constitution; that in the cases where the tests were not exacted during the last half century there was no instance of a Dissenter holding office who had abused his trust; that though the Test Act had been practically in abeyance during all that time, the Church had suffered no harm. Why, then, preserve an offensive and discreditable Act upon the Statute Book? Why keep up invidious distinctions when there was no pretence of necessity for retaining them? Why, without the shadow of proof, presume disaffection against any class of the community? Even the members of the Established Church of Scotland might be, by those tests and penalties, debarred from serving their Sovereign unless they renounced their religion. A whole nation was thus proscribed upon the idle pretext that it was necessary to defend the church of another nation. It was asked, Did the Church of England aspire, like the Mussulmans of Turkey, to be exclusively charged with the defence of the empire? If so, let the Presbyterians and Dissenters withdraw, and it would be seen what sort of defence it would have. Take from the field of Waterloo the Scottish regiments; take away, too, the sons of Ireland: what then would have been the chance of victory? If they sought the aid of Scottish and Irish soldiers in the hour of peril, why deny them equal rights and privileges in times of peace? Besides, the Church could derive no real strength from exclusion and coercion, which only generated ill-will and a rankling feeling of injustice. The Established Church of Scotland had been safe without any Test and Corporation Acts. They had been abolished in Ireland half a century ago without any evil accruing to the Church in that country. It was contrary to the spirit of the age to keep up irritating yet inefficient and impracticable restrictions, which were a disgrace to the Statute Book.
Mr. Peel urged that it is dangerous to touch time-honoured institutions in an ancient monarchy like this, if the Dissenters did not feel the tests as a grievance; if they did, it would be a very strong argument for a change. “But,” he asked, “are the grievances now brought forward in Parliament really felt as such by the Dissenters out of doors? So far from it, there were only six petitions presented on the subject from 1816 to 1827. The petitions of last year were evidently got up for a political purpose.” He quoted from a speech of Mr. Canning’s, delivered, in 1825, on the Catholic Relief Bill, in which he said, “This Bill does not tend to equalise all the religions in the State, but to equalise all the Dissenting sects of England. I am, and this Bill is, for a predominant church, and I would not, even in appearance, meddle with the laws which secure that predominance to the Church of England. What is the state of the Protestant Dissenters? It is that they labour under no practical grievances on account of this difference with the Established Church; that they sit with us in this House, and share our counsels; that they are admissible into the highest offices of State, and often hold them. Such is the operation of the Test and Corporation Acts, as mitigated by the Annual Indemnity Act; this much, and no more, I contend, the Catholics should enjoy.” With regard to Scotland Mr. Peel appealed to the facts that from that country there was not one solitary petition; that there was not any military or naval office or command from which Scotsmen were shut out; that, so far from being excluded from the higher offices of Government, out of the fourteen members who composed the Cabinet, three—Lord Aberdeen, Lord Melville, and Mr. Grant—were Scotsmen and good Presbyterians. Even in England the shutting out, he said, was merely nominal. A Protestant Dissenter had been Lord Mayor of London the year before. The Acts had practically gone into desuetude, and the existing law gave merely a nominal preponderance to the Established Church, which it was admitted on all hands it should possess.
The restrictions, however, if not to any great extent a practical grievance, were felt to be a stigma utterly undeserved, and the necessity for an annual Indemnity Act continually reminded a large, influential, intelligent, energetic portion of the nation of their inferiority to the rest of the king’s subjects. The Government felt that public opinion was against them. They therefore allowed the Bill to go into committee without opposition, and there they adopted it as their own by carrying certain amendments. It passed the Commons by a majority of 44, the numbers being 237 to 193. From the tone of the debate in the Commons it was evident that the Government was not sorry to be left in a minority. In the House of Lords the measure encountered more opposition. Lord Eldon, exasperated with the treatment he had received from the Ministers, denounced it with the utmost vehemence. When he heard of its success in the Lower House, he was in a state of consternation.
The prejudiced old man fought with desperation against the measure in the Lords. He was tremendously severe on the Government. He said, much as he had heard of the march of mind, he did not believe that the march could have been so rapid as to induce some of the changes of opinion which he had witnessed within the last year. His opinions are now among the curiosities of a bygone age. His idea of religious liberty may be seen from the following:—”The Sacramental Act, though often assailed, had remained ever since the reign of Charles II., and the Annual Indemnity took away all its harshness. The obnoxious Act did not interfere with the rights of conscience, as it did not compel any man to take the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England, and only deprived him of office if he did not.” He concluded by solemnly saying, “From his heart and soul, ‘Not Content.'” He was effectually answered by the Duke of Wellington, and the Bill was read a second time, without a division, on the 17th of April. On the 21st he proposed an amendment to exclude Roman Catholics from the benefit of the measure by inserting in the declaration the words, “I am a Protestant.” The amendment was negatived by 117 to 55; but so eager was he to have it adopted, that he renewed it on the third reading of the Bill, when the Contents were 52, Not Contents 154. Still he entered on the Journals a violent protest against the Bill, in which he was joined by the Duke of Cumberland and nine other peers. As soon as the measure was carried, all the world acknowledged the Duke of Wellington’s sagacity in declining the offer of Lord Eldon to return to office; for if that sturdy adherent to ancient prejudices had been Lord Chancellor or President of the Council, the Government must either have been speedily dissolved by internal dissensions or overthrown by a vain resistance to the popular voice.
This Act, which repealed the Test Act, provided another security in lieu of the tests repealed:—”And whereas the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof respectively are by the laws of this realm severally established permanently and inviolably, I., A., B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, upon the true faith of a Christian, that I will never exercise any power, authority, or influence which I may possess by virtue of the office of ——, to injure or weaken the Protestant Church, as it is by law established in England, or to disturb the said Church, or the bishops and clergy of the said Church, in the possession of any rights and privileges to which such Church, or the said bishops and clergy, are or may be by law entitled.”
On the 18th of June a public dinner, to commemorate the abolition of the Sacramental Test, was given at Freemasons’ Hall, when the Duke of Sussex occupied the chair. The friends of the cause felt that to secure a meeting of the most opulent, talented, and influential Dissenters from all parts of the empire was a measure of no common policy, and it was evident that the illustrious and noble guests felt at once surprised and gratified to witness the high respectability and generous enthusiasm of that great company. Mr. William Smith, as deputy chairman, proposed, in an interesting and appropriate speech, “the health of the Duke of Sussex, and the universal prevalence of those principles which placed his family upon the throne.” The health of the archbishops, bishops, and other members of the Established Church who had advocated the rights of the Dissenters was proposed by a Baptist minister, the Rev. Dr. Cox. The health of “the Protestant Dissenting ministers, the worthy successors of the ever memorable two thousand who sacrificed interest to conscience,” having been proposed by the royal chairman, the Rev. Robert Aspland returned thanks. Another commemoration of the full admission of Nonconformists to the privileges of the Constitution was a medal struck by order of the united committee. The obverse side exhibits Britannia, seated on the right, presenting to a graceful figure of Liberty the Act of Repeal, while Religion in the centre raises her eyes to heaven with the expression of thankfulness for the boon. The inscription on this side is “Sacramental Test Abolished, May 9th, 1828.” The reverse side presents an open wreath, enclosing the words, “Truth, Freedom, Peace, and Charity.”
CHAPTER VII. THE REIGN OF GEORGE IV. (concluded).
Opinions of the Irish Government on the Catholic Question—Renewal of the Catholic Claims by Burdett—Vesey Fitzgerald accepts the Board of Trade—O’Connell opposes him for Clare—His Reputation—His Backers—Father Murphy’s Speech—O’Connell to the Front—The Nomination—O’Connell’s Speech—The Election—Return of O’Connell—Anglesey’s Precautions—Peel’s Reflections on the Clare Election—Anglesey describes the State of Ireland—Peel wishes to resign—The Duke wavers—Anglesey urges Concession—Insurrection probable—Wellington determines on Retreat—Why he and Peel did not resign—The Viceroy’s Opinion—Military Organisation of the Peasantry—The Brunswick Clubs—Perplexity of the Government—O’Connell’s “Moral Force”—The Liberator Clubs—Dawson’s Speech—”No Popery” in England—The Morpeth Banquet—The Leinster Declaration—Wellington’s Letter to Dr. Curtis—Anglesey’s Correspondence with O’Connell—The Premier Censures the Viceroy—Anglesey dismissed—He is succeeded by Northumberland—Difficulties with the King and the English Bishops—Peel determines to remain—His Views communicated to the King—The King yields—Opening of the Session—Peel defeated at Oxford University—Suppression of the Catholic Association—The Announcement in the King’s Speech—Peel introduces the Relief Bill—Arguments of the Opposition—The Bill passes the Commons—The Duke’s Speech—It passes the Lords by large Majorities—The King withdraws his Consent—He again yields—His Communication to Eldon—Numbers of the Catholics in Britain—The Duke’s Duel with Winchilsea—Bill for the disfranchisement of “the Forties”—O’Connell presents himself to be sworn—He refuses to take the Oaths—He is heard at the Bar—Fresh Election for Clare—O’Connell’s new Agitation—The Roman Catholic Hierarchy—Riots in the Manufacturing Districts—Attempt to mitigate the Game Laws—Affairs of Portugal—Negotiations with the Canningites—Pitched Battles in Ireland—Meeting of Parliament—Debate on the Address—Burdett’s Attack on Wellington—The Opposition proposes Retrenchments—The Duke’s Economies—Prosecution of Mr. Alexander—Illness and Death of George IV.
The state of opinion among the members of the Government from the early part of 1828 may be traced in the “Memoirs” of Sir Robert Peel, which comprise the confidential correspondence on the subject. The Marquis Wellesley had retired from the Government of Ireland, and was succeeded by the Marquis of Anglesey. The former nobleman would have given more satisfaction to the Irish Roman Catholics; but he was overruled, as they believed, by Mr. Goulburn, his Chief Secretary. His popularity and the confidence reposed in him were much increased by the fact that the marchioness was a Roman Catholic, which, however, proportionably rendered him an object of suspicion to the Orange party.
The noble marquis was regarded by Mr. Peel with the most sincere respect and esteem, which were cordially reciprocated. In a letter dated January 30th, 1828, Lord Wellesley wrote to him thus:—”Your most acceptable letter of the 29th instant enables me to offer to you now those assurances of gratitude, respect, and esteem which, to my sincere concern, have been so long delayed. Although these sentiments have not before reached you in the manner which would have been most suitable to the subject, I trust that you have not been unacquainted with the real impressions which your kindness and high character have fixed in my mind, and which it is always a matter of the most genuine satisfaction to me to declare. I am very anxious to communicate with you in the same unreserved confidence so long subsisting between us on the state of Ireland.”
The main subject for consideration at that moment was the policy of continuing the Act for the suppression of the Catholic Association, which was to expire at the end of the Session of 1828. In connection with this subject a letter from Lord Anglesey came under the Ministry’s consideration. “Do keep matters quiet in Parliament,” he said, “if possible. The less that is said of Catholic and Protestant the better. It would be presumptuous to form an opinion, or even a sanguine hope, in so short a time, yet I cannot but think there is much reciprocal inclination to get rid of the bugbear, and soften down asperities. I am by no means sure that even the most violent would not be glad of an excuse for being less violent. Even at the Association they are at a loss to keep up the extreme irritation they had accomplished; and if they find they are not violently opposed, and that there is no disposition on the part of Government to coercion, I do believe they will dwindle into moderation. If, however, we have a mind to have a 佛山桑拿按摩多少钱 good blaze again, we may at once command it by re-enacting the expiring Bill, and when we have improved it and rendered it perfect, we shall find that it will not be acted upon. In short, I shall back Messrs. O’Connell’s and Sheil’s, and others’ evasions against the Crown lawyers’ laws.”
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Mr. Lamb, the Chief Secretary, wrote to Mr. Peel to the same effect. The Act, he said, had failed in fulfilling its main object, as well as every other advantageous purpose. To re-enact it would irritate all parties, and expose the Ministry to odium. He alluded to sources of dissension that were springing up in the Roman Catholic body, particularly the jealousy excited in the Roman Catholic prelates by the power which the Association had assumed over the parochial clergy. On the whole, his advice was against renewing the Statute. On the 12th of April 佛山桑拿0757n Lord Anglesey wrote a memorandum on the subject, in which he pointed out the impolicy of any coercive measure, which, to be effective, must interfere with the right of public meeting, and make a dangerous inroad on the Constitution, at the same time displaying the weakness of the Government, which is shown in nothing more than passing strong measures which there was not vigour to enforce. His information led him to believe that the higher orders of the Roman Catholic clergy had long felt great jealousy of the ascendency that the leaders of the Association had assumed over the lower priesthood. Besides, many of the most respectable of the Catholic landlords were irritated at their tenantry for continuing to pay the Catholic rent, contrary to their injunctions; and sooner or later he believed the poorer contributors must consider the impost as onerous, arbitrary, and oppressive. 佛山桑拿小姐服务视频 These matters he regarded as seeds of dissolution, which would be more than neutralised by any coercive attempt to put down the Association. He felt confident that no material mischief could result from allowing the Act quietly to expire, supported as the Government was by “the powerful aid of that excellent establishment, the constabulary force, already working the greatest benefit, and capable of still further improvement, and protected as this force was by an efficient army, ably commanded.”
In answer to some queries submitted to the Attorney-General, Mr. Joy, he stated that when the old Association was suppressed, the balance of Catholic rent in the treasury was ￡14,000. He showed how the existing Act had been evaded, and how useless it was to attempt to prevent the agitation by any coercive measure. They held “fourteen days’ meetings,” and it was amusing to read the notices convening those meetings, which 佛山桑拿会所600全套 always ran thus:—”A fourteen days’ meeting will be held, pursuant to Act of Parliament”—as if the Act had enjoined and required such meetings. Then there were aggregate meetings, and other “separate meetings,” which were manifestly a continuation of the Association. The same members attended, and the same routine was observed. They also held simultaneous parochial meetings, by which the people were gathered into a solid and perilous confederacy.
On the 8th of May the Catholic claims were again brought forward by Sir Francis Burdett, who moved for a committee of the whole House, “with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the United Kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant Establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his Majesty’s subjects.” The debate, which was animated and interesting, continued for three days. On a division, the motion for a committee was carried by 272 against 266, giving a majority of six only. But in 佛山桑拿介绍 the preceding Session a similar motion had been lost by a majority of four. On the 16th of the same month Sir Francis moved that the resolution be communicated to the Lords in a free conference, and that their concurrence should be requested. This being agreed to, the conference was held, and the resolution was reported to the Lords, who took it into consideration on the 9th of June. The 佛山桑拿那里的技师好 debate, which lasted two days, was opened by the Marquis of Lansdowne. The Duke of Wellington opposed the resolution, which was lost by a majority of 181 to 137.
Mr. Lamb had retired with Mr. Huskisson, sending in his resignation to the Duke of Wellington, and was succeeded as Chief Secretary by Lord Francis Gower, afterwards Lord Ellesmere. Among the offices vacated in consequence of the recent schism in the Government, was that of President of the Board of Trade, which was accepted by Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, one of the members for the county Clare. He was consequently obliged to offer himself for re-election to his constituents, and this led to the memorable contest which decided the question of Catholic Emancipation.
This contest excited universal interest. Mr. O’Connell, the Roman Catholic candidate, was not unknown in England. He had come to London as the leading member of a deputation to urge the concession of Catholic Emancipation upon the Government and the legislature, when he met a number of the leading statesmen of the day at the house of the Duke of Norfolk. He had been examined by a committee of the Lords, together with Dr. Doyle, in 1825, on which occasion the ability he displayed, his extensive and accurate knowledge, his quickness in answering, and the clearness with which he conveyed information, excited the admiration of all parties. In the appeal case of Scully versus Scully he pleaded before Lord Eldon. It was the first time he had appeared in his forensic character in England. No sooner had he risen to address their lordships than it was buzzed about the precincts of Westminster, and persons of all descriptions crowded in with anxious curiosity to witness the display, including several peers and members of Parliament. He addressed their lordships for nearly two hours, during which the Lord Chancellor paid him great attention, though he had only thirty-three hours before carried the House of Lords with him in rejecting the Bill by which the great advocate would have been admitted to the full privileges of citizenship. Referring to this subject, Lord Eldon wrote in his diary, “Mr. O’Connell pleaded as a barrister before me in the House of Lords on Thursday. His demeanour was very proper, but he did not strike me as shining so much in argument as might be expected from a man who has made so much noise in his harangues in a seditious association.” Lord Eldon’s opinion was evidently tinged by the recollection of the “seditious harangues.” It is a curious fact that the leading counsel on that occasion on the same side was Sir Charles Wetherell, then Solicitor-General. The English admired the rich tones of O’Connell’s voice, his clear and distinct articulation, his legal ingenuity, and the readiness with which he adapted himself to the tribunal before which he pleaded. One of the best speeches he ever made was delivered at the great meeting of the British Catholic Association, the Duke of Norfolk presiding. He astonished his auditory on that occasion. In fact, he was regarded as a lion in London. He won golden opinions wherever he went by his blandness, vivacity, and wit in private, and his lofty bearing in public. His commanding figure, his massive chest, and his broad, good-humoured face, with thought and determination distinctly marked in his physiognomy, showed that he had the physique of a great leader of the masses, while he proved himself amongst his colleagues not more powerful in body than in mind and will. The confidence reposed in him in Ireland was unbounded. He was indeed the most remarkable of all the men who had ever advocated the Catholic claims; the only one of their great champions fit to be a popular leader. Curran and Grattan were feeble and attenuated in body, and laboured under physical deficiencies, if the impulsive genius of the one or the fastidious pride of the other would have permitted them to be demagogues; O’Connell had all the qualities necessary for that character in perfection—unflinching boldness, audacious assertion, restless motion, soaring ambition, untiring energy, exquisite tact, instinctive sagacity, a calculating, methodising mind, and a despotic will. He was by no means scrupulous in matters of veracity, and he was famous for his powers of vituperation; but, as he was accustomed to say himself, he was “the best abused man in Ireland.”
It was seldom that his name was missed from the leaders of Conservative journals, and he was the great object of attack at the meetings of the Brunswick Clubs, which were called into existence to resist the Catholic Association. But of all his assailants, none dealt him more terrible blows than the venerable Henry Grattan, the hero of 1782. “Examine their leader,” he exclaimed, “Mr. O’Connell. He assumes a right to direct the Catholics of Ireland. He advises, he harangues, and he excites; he does not attempt to allay the passions of a warm and jealous people. Full of inflammatory matter, his declamations breathe everything but harmony; venting against Great Britain the most disgusting calumny, falsehood, and treachery, equalled only by his impudence, describing her as the most stupid, the most dishonest nation that ever existed. A man that could make the speeches he has made, utter the sentiments he has uttered, abuse the characters he has abused, praise the characters he has praised, violate the promises he has violated, propose such votes and such censures as he has proposed, can have little regard for private honour or for public character; he cannot comprehend the spirit of liberty, and he is unfitted to receive it.”
There is in all this much of the splenetic jealousy of an aged invalid towards a vigorous competitor, who has outstripped him in the race. O’Connell excited much hostility amongst the friends of Emancipation by his opposition to the veto which they were willing to give to the British Crown on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops by the Court of Rome. But the more antagonists he had, and the more battles he fought, the greater was his hold on the Roman Catholic priests and people. His power had arrived at its greatest height when the Canningites left the Ministry, and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald came to Ireland to seek the suffrages of the Clare electors as an influential member of the Government. At first, no one had the least doubt of his triumphant return. He had been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland; he was a steady friend of Catholic Emancipation, for which he had always voted; he was personally popular; the gentry of the county were almost to a man devoted to him. It appears that O’Connell had at first no idea of starting against him. The proposal is said to have originated with Sir David Roose, who, having accidentally met Mr. P. V. Fitzpatrick on the 22nd of June, remarked that O’Connell ought to offer himself for Clare. Mr. Fitzpatrick then recollected having often heard Mr. John Keogh, of Mount Jerome, who had been the Catholic leader for many years, express his conviction that Emancipation would never be granted till a Catholic was elected a member of Parliament. If, when returned by a constituency, he was not permitted to take his seat because he would not violate his conscience by swearing what he did not believe, John Bull, who is jealous of constitutional rights, would resent this wrong, and would require the oath to be altered for the sake of the constituency. The moment this thought occurred to Mr. Fitzpatrick, he ran to O’Connell and begged of him to stand for Clare. They went to the office of the Dublin Evening Post, and there, in presence of Mr. F. W. Conway, the address to the electors was written. Still O’Connell shrank from the contest on account of the enormous cost. “You know,” he said, “that, so far from being in circumstances to meet that outlay from my own resources, I am encumbered with heavy liabilities beyond my power of discharging. You are the only person with whom I am acquainted who knows intimately the Catholic aristocracy and men of wealth. Would you undertake to sound them as to funds for the contest?” Fitzpatrick answered, “I will undertake it, and I am confident of success.” Within an hour he got three men of wealth to put down their names for ￡100 each. The four then went round to the principal Catholics of Dublin, and during the day they got ￡1,600 from sixteen persons. The country followed the example of the metropolis so liberally that ￡14,000 was raised within a week, and money continued to flow in during the contest. The supplies, however, were not sufficient for the enormous demand, and in the heat of the contest a messenger was sent posthaste to Cork, and in an incredibly short space of time returned with ￡1,000 from Mr. Jerry Murphy, who himself subscribed ￡300, and got the remainder from its patriotic inhabitants. The sum of ￡5,000 had been voted by the Association for the expenses of the election. They had been very anxious to get a candidate to oppose Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, and a popular Protestant, Major Macnamara, had been requested to come forward, but he declined on the ground of his personal obligations to the Ministerial candidate. Indeed, there were few of the smaller gentry in the county on whom he had not conferred favours by the liberal distribution of places among their sons. The Roman Catholic gentry were quite as much indebted to him as the Protestants, and they were not ungrateful, for they stood by him on the hustings almost to a man. Mr. O’Connell was preceded by two friends, Tom Steel and O’Gorman Mahon; the former a Protestant, the other a Roman Catholic: both men remarkable for their chivalrous bearing, and a dashing, reckless spirit, which takes with the Irish peasantry. A third agitator entered the field in the person of honest Jack Lawless, another leading member of the Association, and one of its most effective speakers. This band was soon joined by Father Tom Maguire, a famous controversialist, from the county of Leitrim, who had just been engaged in a discussion with the Rev. Mr. Pope, and was hailed by the peasantry as the triumphant champion of their faith. There was also a barrister, Mr. Dominick Ronayne, who spoke the Irish language, and who, throwing an educated mind into the powerful idiom of the country, produced great effects upon the passions of the people. Mr. Sheil, second only to O’Connell in energy and influence, and superior to him in the higher attributes of the orator, in the fiery temperament and imaginative faculty which constitute genius, flung himself into the arena with the greatest ardour. On the Sunday previous to the election each of these agitators was dispatched to a chapel situated in a district which was the stronghold of one or other of the most popular landlords, for the purpose of haranguing the people after mass, and rousing their enthusiasm to the highest pitch. Mr. Sheil went to a place called Corrofin, situated in a mountainous district, the property of Sir Edward O’Brien, father of Mr. Smith O’Brien, who drove to the place in his carriage, drawn by four horses. There he saw the whole population congregated, having advanced from the rocky hills in large bands, waving green boughs, and preceded by fifes and pipers. The hitherto popular landlord was received in solemn silence, while his antagonist, Mr. Sheil, was hailed with rapturous applause. Sir Edward O’Brien consequently lost heart, and, leaving his phaeton opposite the chapel-door, went to church. Mr. Sheil gives a graphic description of Father Murphy, the priest of this rudely constructed mountain chapel. His form was tall, slender, and emaciated; “his ample hand was worn to a skinny meagretude; his face was long, sunken, and cadaverous, but was illuminated by eyes blazing with all the fire of genius and the enthusiasm of religion; his lank black hair fell down in straight lines along a lofty forehead. The sun was shining with brilliancy, and rendered his figure, attired as it was in white garments, more conspicuous. The scenery about was in harmony—it was wild and desolate.” This priest met the envoy of the Association on the threshold of his mountain temple, and hailed him with a solemn greeting. After mass the priest delivered an impassioned harangue. The spirit of sarcasm gleamed over his features, and shouts of laughter attended his description of a miserable Catholic who should prove recreant to the great cause by making a sacrifice of his country to his landlord. “The close of his speech,” says Mr. Sheil, “was peculiarly effective. He became inflamed by the power of his emotions, and, while he raised himself into the loftiest attitude to which he could ascend, he laid one hand on the altar and shook the other in the spirit of almost prophetic admonition, and, while his eyes blazed and seemed to start from his forehead, thick drops fell down his face, and his voice rolled through lips livid with passion and covered with foam. It is almost unnecessary to say that such an appeal was irresistible. The multitude burst into shouts of acclamation, and would have been ready to mount a battery roaring with cannon at his command. Two days afterwards the results were felt at the hustings, and while Sir Edward O’Brien stood aghast, Father Murphy marched into Ennis at the head of his tenantry, and polled them to a man in favour of Daniel O’Connell.”
The way having been thus prepared, Mr. O’Connell proceeded to the scene of the contest. On the day of his departure his carriage, with four horses, drove into the yard of the Four Courts, where he had been engaged on an important trial. Having concluded his address to the judges, he put off his wig and gown, and proceeded through the hall, where he was followed by the lawyers and the persons from the different courts, so that the judges were deserted. Stepping into his open barouche, accompanied by Mr. P. O’Gorman, secretary of the Association, Mr. R. Scott, solicitor, and Father Murphy, the celebrated parish priest of Corrofin, he drove off amidst the cheers of all present. The greatest possible excitement prevailed along the whole route, and he enjoyed an ovation at every town he passed through. At Ennis, though he entered the town by daybreak, the traders and the inhabitants turned out in procession to meet him. Priests swarmed in all the streets, and in every face there was an unconcealed expression of joyous and exulting triumph.
THE CLARE CONTEST: FATHER MURPHY LEADING HIS TENANTS TO THE POLL. (See p. 273.)
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The court-house on the day of nomination presented a striking scene. On the left hand of the sheriff stood a Cabinet Minister, attended by the whole body of the aristocracy and gentry, Protestant and Catholic, of the county Clare. On the right stood Mr. O’Connell, with scarcely a single gentleman by his side. But he was “the man of the people” and of the priests, and so he was master of the situation. Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald was proposed by Sir Edward O’Brien, and seconded by Sir A. Fitzgerald. The Ministerial candidate first addressed the freeholders. He was an accomplished gentleman and an excellent speaker. Mr. Sheil, who was present, remarked that he delivered one of the most effective and dexterous speeches it had ever been his fortune to hear. His venerable father, who had voted against the union in the Irish Parliament, was now on his death-bed, and the knowledge of the contest had been kept from him, lest the excitement should hasten his departure. In alluding to him, and to his own services to the county, Mr. Fitzgerald’s eyes filled with tears, and there were few amongst his opponents, excited as they were against him, who did not give the same evidence of emotion; and when he sat down, although the great majority of the audience were strongly opposed to him, and were enthusiasts in favour of the rival candidate, a loud and unanimous burst of acclamation shook the court-house.
Mr. O’Connell rose to address the people in reply. It was manifest that he considered great exertion to be requisite in order to do away with the impression which his antagonist had produced. It was clear, to those who were acquainted with the workings of his physiognomy, that he was collecting all his might. Mr. O’Connell bore Mr. Fitzgerald no sort of personal aversion, but he determined, in this exigency, to have little mercy on his feelings, and to employ all the power of vituperation of which he was possessed against him. “This,” remarks Mr. Sheil, “was absolutely necessary; for if more dexterous fencing had been resorted to by Mr. O’Connell, many might have gone away with the opinion that, after all, Mr. Fitzgerald had been thanklessly treated by the Catholic body. It was, therefore, disagreeably requisite to render him for the moment odious. Mr. O’Connell began by awakening the passions of the multitude in an attack on Mr. Fitzgerald’s allies. Mr. Gore had lauded him highly. This Mr. Gore is of Cromwellian descent, and the people detest the memory of the Protector to this day. There is a tradition (I know not whether it has the least foundation) that the ancestor of this gentleman’s family was a nailer by trade in the Puritan army. Mr. O’Connell, without any direct reference to the fact, used a set of metaphors, such as ‘striking the nail on the head,’ ‘putting a nail into a coffin,’ which at once recalled the associations which were attached to the name of Mr. Gore, and roars of laughter assailed that gentleman on every side. Mr. Gore has the character of being not only very opulent, but of bearing regard to his possessions proportionate to their extent. Nothing is so unpopular as prudence in Ireland; and Mr. O’Connell rallied Mr. Gore to such a point upon this head, and that of his supposed origin, that the latter completely sank under the attack. He next proceeded to Mr. Fitzgerald, and having thrown in a picture of the late Mr. Perceval, he turned round, and asked of the rival candidate with what face he could call himself their friend, when the first act of his political life was to enlist himself under the banners of ‘the bloody Perceval’? This violent epithet was sent into the hearts of the people with a force of expression and a furious vehemence of will that created a great sensation amongst the crowd, and turned the tide against Mr. Fitzgerald.”
It was necessary that Roman Catholic electors should take an oath and obtain a certificate of their having done so from a magistrate. The friends of Mr. Fitzgerald insisted that this oath should be taken, which caused considerable delay; but a magistrate having been obtained, the freeholders were sworn en masse. Brought into a yard, enclosed within four walls, twenty-five voters were placed against each wall, and thus the oath was simultaneously taken. The effects of this machinery upon the poll soon became manifest. Mr. O’Connell ran ahead of his opponent, and on the second day the result was no longer doubtful. Mr. Fitzgerald would have abandoned the contest, but the landlords resolved that the last man whom they could command should be polled out. They exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the defection of their tenantry. The most influential of them had their freeholders mustered in a body, and came forward to the hustings at their head, exhorting, promising, threatening, reminding them of past favours, and hinting at the consequences of forsaking their best friends and natural protectors; but the moment O’Connell or a priest appeared—shouting: “Vote for your country, boys!” “Vote for the old religion!” “Down with Vesey!” “Hurrah for O’Connell!”—they changed sides to a man, with a wild, responsive cheer. One priest, Father Coffey, adhered to Mr. Fitzgerald. “But,” says Mr. Sheil, “the scorn and detestation with which he was treated by the mob clearly proved that a priest has no influence over them when he attempts to run counter to their political passions. He can hurry them on in the career in which their own feelings impel them, but he cannot turn them into another course.” The generality of the orators were heard with loud and clamorous approbation; but at a late hour one evening, when it was growing rapidly dark, a priest came forward on the platform, who addressed the multitude in Irish. Ten thousand peasants were assembled before the speaker, and a profound stillness hung over the almost breathless mass. For some minutes they continued thus deeply attentive, and seemed to be struck with awe as he proceeded. Suddenly the priest and the whole multitude knelt down with the precision of a regimental evolution. Priest and people were both silent, but they were offering up a mental prayer for mercy on the soul of one of Vesey Fitzgerald’s voters, who had died that day, and had been accused of taking a bribe. The polling, which lasted five days, at length closed. The court-house was again crowded, as on the first day. Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald appeared again at the head of the aristocracy, and Mr. O’Connell at the head of the priests and the “Forties.” The moment the latter was declared by the sheriff duly elected, the first Roman Catholic M.P. since the Revolution, a friend presented him with a letter to be franked. Addressed to a member of the House of Commons, it was posted that night, and when it arrived at its destination it was handed about amongst the members, exciting curiosity and astonishment. It was said also to have found its way to the king, who probably felt thankful that his brother, the Duke of York, did not live to see “Daniel O’Connell, M.P.” Mr. O’Connell made a speech, distinguished by just feeling and good taste, and begged that Mr. Fitzgerald would forgive him if he had on the first day given him any sort of offence. Mr. Fitzgerald came forward, and unaffectedly assured him that whatever was said should be forgotten. He was again hailed with universal acclamation, and delivered an admirable speech. During the progress of the election he could not refrain from repeatedly expressing his astonishment at what he saw, and from indulging in melancholy forebodings of events of which these incidents were perhaps but the heralds. “Where is all this to end?” was a question frequently put in his presence, and from which he seemed to shrink.
There was, however, no violation of the peace, which Lord Anglesey had taken effective measures to preserve. He had placed at the disposal of Major Warburton 47 artillery, with two 6-pounders; 120 cavalry, and 415 infantry. These were at Clare Castle, close at hand; within a few miles there were 183 cavalry, and 1,313 infantry; within thirty-six miles, 28 cavalry, 1,367 infantry, and two 6-pounders; and at a farther distance there was a regiment of cavalry and above 800 infantry. There were besides, on duty at Ennis, 300 of the constabulary.
Mr. Peel’s reflections on the Clare election are deeply interesting. “It afforded,” he writes, in his Memoirs, “a decisive proof, not only that the instrument on which the Protestant proprietor had hitherto mainly relied for the maintenance of his political influence had completely failed him, but that, through the combined exertions of the agitator and the priest—or, I should rather say, through the contagious sympathies of a common cause among all classes of the Roman Catholic population—the instrument of defence and supremacy had been converted into a weapon fatal to the authority of the landlord. However men might differ as to the consequences which ought to follow the event, no one denied its vast importance. It was seen by the most intelligent that the Clare election would be the turning-point in the Catholic question—the point—
“‘Partes ubi se via findit in ambas.'”
The Home Secretary thus refers to a letter of Lord Eldon, written to his daughter soon after the event, as follows:—”After observing, ‘Nothing is talked of now which interests anybody the least in the world, except the election of Mr. O’Connell,’ he makes these memorable remarks:—’As Mr. O’Connell will not, though elected, be allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons unless he will take the oaths, etc. (and that he won’t do unless he can get absolution), his rejection from the Commons may excite rebellion in Ireland. At all events, this business must bring the Roman Catholic question, which has been so often discussed, to a crisis and a conclusion. The nature of that conclusion I do not think likely to be favourable to Protestantism.’ It is clear, therefore,” continues Mr. Peel, “that Lord Eldon was fully alive to the real character and magnitude of the event.”
Mr. Peel publishes the letters that passed between him and Mr. Fitzgerald while the election was pending, and from these it would appear that the latter thought the contest would be violent and exasperated. After the fight was over, he said he had polled the gentry to a man, and all the fifty-pound freeholders. The organisation which had been shown was so complete and formidable that no man could contemplate without alarm what was to follow in that wretched country. Mr. Peel observes:—”The last letter of Mr. Fitzgerald is especially worthy of remark. Can there be a doubt that the example of the county would have been all-powerful in the case of every future election in Ireland for those counties in which a Roman Catholic constituency preponderated? It is true that Mr. O’Connell was the most formidable competitor whom Mr. Fitzgerald could have encountered; it is possible that that which took place in Clare would not have taken place had any other man than Mr. O’Connell been the candidate; but he must be blind, indeed, to the natural progress of events, and to the influence of example, in times of public excitement, on the feelings and passions of men, who could cherish the delusive hope that the instrument of political power, shivered to atoms in the county of Clare, would still be wielded with effect in Cork or Galway.
“The Clare election supplied the manifest proof of an abnormal and unhealthy condition of the public mind in Ireland—the manifest proof that the sense of a common grievance and the sympathies of a common interest were beginning to loosen the ties which connect different classes of men in friendly relations to each other, to weaken the force of local and personal attachments, and to unite the scattered elements of society into a homogeneous and disciplined mass, yielding willing obedience to the assumed authority of superior intelligence hostile to the law and to the Government which administered it. There is a wide distinction (though it is not willingly recognised by a heated party) between the hasty concession to unprincipled agitation and provident precaution against the explosion of public feeling gradually acquiring the strength which makes it irresistible. ‘Concede nothing to agitation,’ is the ready cry of those who are not responsible—the vigour of whose decisions is often proportionate to their own personal immunity from danger, and imperfect knowledge of the true state of affairs. A prudent Minister, before he determines against all concession—against any yielding or compromise of former opinions—must well consider what it is that he has to resist, and what are his powers of resistance. His task would be an easy one if it were sufficient to resolve that he would yield nothing to violence or to the menace of physical force. In this case of the Clare election, and of its natural consequences, what was the evil to be apprehended? Not force, not violence, not any act of which law could take cognisance. The real danger was in the peaceable and legitimate exercise of a franchise according to the will and conscience of the holder. In such an exercise of that franchise, not merely permitted, but encouraged and approved by constitutional law, was involved a revolution of the electoral system in Ireland—the transfer of political power, so far as it was connected with representation, from one party to another. The actual transfer was the least of the evil; the process by which it was to be effected—the repetition in each county of the scenes of the Clare election—the fifty-pound free-holders, the gentry to a man polling one way, their alienated tenantry another—all the great interests of the county broken down—’the universal desertion’ (I am quoting the expressions of Mr. Fitzgerald)—the agitator and the priest laughing to scorn the baffled landlord—the local heaving and throes of society on every casual vacancy in a county—the universal convulsion at a general election—this was the danger to be apprehended; those were the evils to be resisted. What was the power of resistance? ‘Alter the law, and remodel the franchise,’ was the ready, the improvident response. If it had been desired to increase the strength of a formidable confederacy, and, by rallying round it the sympathies of good men and of powerful parties in Great Britain, to insure for it a signal triumph, to extinguish the hope of effecting an amicable adjustment of the Catholic question, and of applying a corrective to the real evils and abuses of elective franchise, the best way to attain these pernicious ends would have been to propose to Parliament, on the part of the Government, the abrupt extinction of the forty-shilling franchise in Ireland, together with the continued maintenance of civil disability.”
“I well know that there are those upon whom such considerations as these to which I have been adverting will make but a faint impression. Their answer to all such appeals is the short, in their opinion the conclusive, declaration—’The Protestant Constitution in Church and State must be maintained at all hazards, and by any means; the maintenance of it is a question of principle, and every concession or compromise is the sacrifice of principle to a low and vulgar expediency.’ This is easily said; but how was Ireland to be governed? How was the Protestant Constitution in Church and State to be maintained in that part of the empire? Again I can anticipate the reply—’By the overwhelming sense of the people of Great Britain; by the application, if necessary, of physical force for the maintenance of authority; by the employment of the organised strength of Government, the police and the military, to enforce obedience to the law.'”