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the higher orders, which might soften and refine the manners of the peasantry, is wanting in this fine country. Were the nobility and gentry of Ireland to exert themselves with more zealin the education of their tenantry; were they to reside on their estates and dispense justice among the lower orders mildly but firmly ; were they, by their example and intercourse, to create a taste among the lower Irish for the comforts and conveniences of life, the bloodshed and outrage of every kind, which so much disgrace the annals of this country, would quickly disappear, and Ireland would no longer form an exception to the general character of the European nations, which, during the last century, have advanced so muchin refinesment, . But the grand question in Irish politics is that of catholic emancipation—a question which, having unfortunately divided contending factions, has been raised into artificial importance, and pursued with a heat and animosity which bid defiance to sober discussion. The leaders of a powerful, but disappointed, party in Eng. land, have avowed themselves the champions of the catholic cause, which they have found so convenient an instrument of annoyance to the administration, that it is no wonder if they Prosecute it with the utmost zeal and oustry—Early in the session of this year, they intimated their desire to bring forward the catholic claims for the discussion of parliament; and *y assigned, as a reason for this pre*Pitation, a wish that the Prince Re§nt might know their opinions as dis"ctly as he knew those of his ministers. This was by many persons thought to be a shallow pretext for ombarrassing the government at a seaon of great difficulty, since the Prince *d long been acquainted with the

sentiments of both parties on the merits of this great controversy. There were many who attributed the haste of the opposition to different motives. At the opening of the present session they could not well attack the conduct of the war, they could not, with much satisfaction, advert to the state of the peninsula, nor could they indulge in speculations which had lost much of their credit with the country; but as they were anxious that the session should not open without a contest, they had no choice but to bring forward the catholic claims. Many strange allusions were made about this time to certain promises which it was said the Prince Regent had given on this subject; yet no one could state o; where, when, and to whom the prince had thus pledged himself. Could his royal highness legally or constitutionally have pledged himself on such a question ? Could he have declared that at a future period, and in any circumstances, he would be disposed to concede the catholic claims ? Assuredly his royal highness neither did give, nor could have given, such a pledge; and it was not less unconstitutional than indecent to make such allusions. *. The sentiments even of the advocates of this great cause were far from being consistent; some of them were ready to surrender every thing at once, while others would have made the surrender conditional. Lord Grenville, a powerful and steady advocate of the catholic claims, considered the veto to be indispensable; he maintained that the crown ought to have an ef. fectual negative on the appointment of the catholic bishops, “a condition (added his lordship) intended to meet the just expectations not of any bigoted interested champions of intolerance, but of men of the purest intentions and most enlightened judgments; *

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men willing to do all justice to the loyalty of the Irish bishops, but not unreasonably alarmed at any possibility by which functions of such extensive influence might hereafter be connected with a foreign interest hostile to the tranquillity of our country, a danger lately very much increased b

the captivity and disposal of the head of the catholic church,--by the seizure of his dominions, and by the declared intention of a hostile government to assume in future the exclusive nomination of his successors.” Such was the language of Lord Grenville on one occasion; and when he introduced his motion on the catholic petition in May, 1808, he pronounced an opinion on the question of the veto not less decided. “Much has been said elsewhere of the influence of their bishops; and in a former debate even in this house, great stress was laid on the danger of a catholic hierarchy. If you tolerate the catholic church, which is episcopal, you must, of course, allow it to have its bishops. But it is unquestionably proper that the crown should exercise an effectual negative over the appointment of persons called to execute these functions. To this the catholics of Ireland declared themselves perfectly willing to accede. The precise mode of giving effect to the principle will best be settled by the wisdom of parliament. It is fit matter for discussion in such a committee as I propose. The declaration of the catholics on this subject is an unquestionable proof of their solicitude to meet the kindness of their fellowsubjects, and accede to any practical means of removing even the most groundless jealousies. As such, I rejoice that it has been made, and I see with infinite satisfaction the just impression which it has universally produced. To me it is not new ; I always felt the propriety of providing

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for this point. The experience of other countries proves both its expe. diency and its practicability; it form. ed a part of the plans intended to be brought forward at the period of the Union; and what we then knew of the sentiments of the catholics respect. ing it, left no doubt upon our minds that the matter might be easily and satisfactorily adjusted.” Such were at one time the sentiments of Lord Grenville; but they appear to late . subsequently undergone a very coni derable change. In the course of one of the debates on the catholic ques. tion which ensued during the present session of parliament, Earl Grey declared that neither he nor Lord Gre ville “ had ever considered the veloto be indispensable.” It was perhaps to such a change of opinion as this, a change at once unexpected and una: ; countable, a change for which no ther the state of the country northconduct of the catholics seemed to o afford any plausible reason, that tle to whig leaders alluded, when they & so clared at the opening of the o 'o their resolution to bring forward will. o out delay the catholic question, in * * der that the Regent and the counts might know their opinions on the subject. - rd They accordingly brought for" to the question at a very early period of 's the session. On the 31st of Janua's lo Earl Fitzwilliam made a motion in" House of Lords that the Ho" should resolve itself into a commit” to take into consideration the pro situation of affairs in Ireland. By * motion it was intended not only w bring the catholic question into discussion, but to convey a severe ceno on the recent conduct of the Irish.9° vernment, which had exerted itself st cessfully to put down the catholic * Vention, f : This convention had presumed 0. o

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late to discuss not only the catholic claims, but the whole policy of the empire; and it were superfluous to endeavour to prove the right of the Irish government to suppress it. It is a principle of common sense, which requires no support from an act of the legislature, that a system of delegation not regulated by the laws, must at all times prove extremely dangerous; that if the people can be brought together through the medium of representatives not acting under the authority of the constitution, their Proceedings must give just cause of alarm; and that no set of men can presume to represent the nation except those who are chosen to serve in parliament according to the constitution of the country. The very printiple of delegation, therefore, cannot be recognized, because if it were once admitted, a small number of factious and discontented persons might acquire an influence over the body of the People quite inconsistent with the stability of a regular government. It Were vain to say that such men had been collected together merely for the Purpose of preparing the catholic petion, or of performing any other lawact; for as it must be evident that their efforts may, with the greatest *ie, be devoted to other purposes, heir meetings can never be constituonal, even if it could not be proved oatin point of fact they had deviated from the avowed and legitimate obJot of their assembling. But those who on this occasion contended for *nting so audacious an insult on the *titution, did not confine them* to general and abstract topics; * Act of the Irish parliament had * passed with the express view of Potting down assemblies of this kind, which had already on more than one *ion threatened the tranquillity of Ireland The Irish government Was therefore called upon to exert its

best efforts in support of the laws; and if any argument could have been wanting to induce the ministers to act with vigour, surely the conduct of the catholic delegates themselves was such as to rouse in them all the energy of which they were capable. The members of the catholic parliament who presumed to discuss the whole affairs not only of the catholic community, but of the Irish nation, did not content themselves with preparing a petition for the redress of the catholic grievances, but wandered into the most violent discussions on every subject which was calculated to raise the passions of the multitude, and to hurry them into acts of insurrection. The ministers, therefore, determined to put the convention act in force; but they were anxious also that this measure of necessary vigour should be preceded by a most careful enquiry into the character and views of those against whom it was directed, and by paternal warnings to the people to be on their guard against the delusions which prevailed among them. Notwithstanding the accusations, therefore, which were brought against the Irish government by Earl Fitzwilliam in the House of Lords, and by Lord Milton in the House of Commons, it may be asserted with confidence that it was acting in the strict discharge of an important duty; that it was merely exercising a power which would have belonged to it independently of any special enactment, but which had at all events been distinctly conferred by an express provision of the legislature. The history of this statute, of which so much has been said, may be explained in a few words. . In a season of great turbulence, when the same artifices by which the demagogues of Ireland now endeavoured to convulse the country had been put in practice, the legislature found itself compelled to declare, in a more formal manner, the common law of the land, by denouncing those societies which, under false pretences, were endeavouring to usurp the powers of the legislature, and to subvert the laws and constitution of the country; by i. in short, that any convention implying the principles of delegation, is illegal and unconstitutional. In that season of anarchy, it was the practice of these demagogues to assemble in their representative capacity under the pretence of petitioning parliament; the convention act, however, expressly declared, that all those who should assemble in this manner, and under such pretences, should be held guilty of a misdemeanour, and should incur certain penalties. Such was the origin of the statute which the Irish ministers resolved to enforce. When the Irish government determined to put down the catholic parliament, after its proceedings had excited great alarm, and the measure of its transgressions against the laws had been completed, various futile pre

texts were set up in defence of the de

linquents. The convention act, it was said, provided only for the dispersion of such assemblies as were convened under the pretence of petitioning; but the catholic delegates had not assembled under any pretence, but had met for the real and serious purpose of preparing the catholic petition.—The answer to this reasoning, however, was twofold. The act had manifestly proscribed all assemblies brought together under the forms of representation; and it could be of no importance that these illegal assemblies attempted to cover their designs by a mere pretence—by affecting to be engaged in preparing petitions to the legislature. The act declared, that they fraudulently availed themselves of a privilege, the exercise of which is etherwise quite lawful, to embark in

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projects which the laws of no well-regulated country can ever permit— There was no necessity, therefore, for proving that the real objects of these assemblies was not that of petitioning, for the statute directly announced that the privilege of petitioning, a privilege which in other circumstances may be legally exercised,—was by such representatives employed as a mask to conceal their illegal proceedings. It was enough to convict the catholic delegates under the law, that they adopted a mode of preparing their petition which was in itself unconstitutional, and which a special statute had declared to be illegalBut there was little need for entering on such arguments in discussing the case of the catholic delegates, since, so far from confining themselves to the mere object of petitioning, they had maliciously entertained, and discussed with the greatest violence, not only every question connected with the domestic affairs of Ireland, but with the general policy of the empire. The conduct of the Irish government, therefore, in putting down the convention, was not only justifiable, but laudable in the highest degree; and its advocates had no very difficult task in making a firm and vigorous defence against the fo. charges which were brought forward at the beginning of the session. It was an unfortunate circumstance for the supporters of the motions, that the general question of catholic emancipation had been blended with the enquiry into the conduct of the Irish government. If a motion had been temperately brought forward for the consideration of the catholic claims,— if the question had been agitated in the spirit of fairness, and with a view to deliberate discussion, there was a chance that the motion might have been received and referred to a com

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mittee. But such was the conduct of those to whom unfortunately the interests of Ireland were at this time committed—such was their hostility to the administration, and so severe were the terms in which they arraigned the measures of government, that it would seem as if they had exerted themselves to make the ministers their enemies, and to kindle a feeling of the most lively resentment against their own cause. They blamed the Irish government for the efforts which it had made to secure the peace of the country, they actively and warmly took the part of those who had endeavoured to inflame the minds of the Irish populace; and with such topics of discussion, they most indiscreetly combined the great question of catholic emancipation. Those who were really interested on principle in the success of the catholic petitions,—those who fairly and honourably desired that this great question might be put to rest for the sake of the security and happiness of the empire ; the catholics themselves, and all who were inclined to support them on fair and honourable principles, must have disapproved of such proceedings. The conse

quences were such as might have been

expected; both the motions were rejected by a very large majority. Such was the fate of this attack upon the conduct of the Irish government; but the catholic question was not so easily disposed of. As this subject, however, has become of such magnitude in the politics of the country— as it was so often discussed during the course of this session of parliament, and occasioned so brilliant a display of talent and eloquence, a more expanded view of it is reserved for a separate chapter, which shall be entirely devoted to a question, which, in the course of this year, filled the public mind with the utmost anxiety. But before interrupting the narration, it VOL. V. PART Is

will be necessary to complete the outline of the parliamentary proceedings on the subject of the catholic claims. On the 21st of April, Lord Donoughmore moved in the House of Lords, “That a committee should be appointed to take into consideration, the laws imposing civil disabilities on his majesty's subjects professing the catholic religion, and that the petition of the Irish catholics and protestants, as well as of the English catholics and dissenters, should be referred to a committee.” On the 23d of the same month, Mr Grattan made a similar motion in the House of Commons, which was followed by a very full and able discussion. A considerable majority, however, appeared in both houses of parliament against the motions.—On the 22d of June, Mr Canning concluded . an eloquent speech, by o: that the House of Commons “ should, early in the next session of parliament, take into its most serious consideration, the state of the laws affecting his majesty’s catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as might be conducive to the peace and strength of the united kingdoms, to the stability of the protestant establishment, and to the satisfaction and concord of all classes of his majesty’s subjects.” This motion was, after an able debate, carried by a majority of 129; and it was generally supposed that the catholic cause had thus obtained a complete and permanent triumph. And the question might indeed have been carried about this period, had it not been for the folly of some persons whom the catholics had unhappily permitted to interfere with their affairs. But while Mr Canning’s motion was under discussion in the House of Commons, some resolutions passed by a catholic meeting in Dublin, made their appearance, demanding the unqualified conM

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