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entertained that tranquillity would result from this measure, he should have no scruple in coming down and laying before Parliament the state of the case, and calling upon Parliament to enable Government to meet whatever danger might arise. He should act with the same confidence that Parliament would support him then, as he had acted in the present case. Having now explained to their lordships the grounds on which this measure was brought forward; the state of Ireland; the inconvenience attending the continued agitation of the question ; the difficulty, nay, the impossibility of finding any other remedy for the state of things in Ireland; the state of publie opinion on the question; the divisions of the Government and of the Parliament thereon; the preteuces, for so he must call them, which had been urged against the claims of the Catholics, founded on acts passed previous to the revolution; having stated likewise the provisions of the measure which he proposed as a remedy for all those inconveniences, he would trouble their lordships no further, except by beseeching them to consider the subject with that coolness, moderation, and temper, recommended in the speech from the Throne.
The debate which followed, continued during the three days, the 2d, 3d, and 4th of April
. The Spiritual Lords who spoke, in addition to the mover of the Amendment, were the Archbishops of York and Armagh, the Bishops of London, Salisbury, Durham, and Oxford. They all opposed the Biil, with the exception of the last, who contended that concession was called for, not merely by the situation of Ireland, by the consideration of the immense military force found necessary for the maintenance of the public peace (which, after all, was not maintained), and by the consideration of the division of opinion in both houses of Parliament; but still more by the turn which talent and education had taken in this kingdom, with reference to the question ; upon that fact the Right Rev. Bishop said he would stand. The Peers who opposed concession, were men advanced in years; but the individuals who were rising in the natural progress of things, to fill the high offices of the state, were, with scarcely an exception, in favour of this measure.
Ou the 7th and 8th of April, the Bill passed through a Committee, in which, as in the Commons, many amendinents were moved, but not one carried. On the 10th of April it was read a third time, after another debate, which produced nothing new, and which terminated in the Bill being passed, by a majority of 104; 213 Peers having voted for it, and 109 against it. On the 13th of April it received the royal assent.
Ministers, of course, had assured themselves of that assent, and it was their duty to do so before bringing forward the measure; the difficulty of obtaining it, and the late period at which it was obtained, was always put forward by the Duke of Wellington, as the cause of this delay on the part of the Government in announcing their intentions, which look so like an arrangement to take the Protestant community by surprise. Besides the objections which his Majesty was understood to have always entertained to the measure or principle, it appeared from the communication between the Ministers and the Lord-Lieutenant, subsequently made public, when the recall of the latter was mentioned in the house of Peers, that the King had felt strongly the indignities cast upon his government, by the proceedings of the agitators, and by the connivance which allowed them to be continued with impunity. On the 11th of November, 1828, the Duke of Wellington, in a letter to the Lord-Lieutenant, after referring to those measures of the Viceroy, which were considered to betray a friendly and encouraging inclination towards the Association, said, “ I cannot express to you adequately the extent of the difficulties, which these and other occurrences in Ireland create, in all discussions with his Majesty. He feels that in Ireland the public peace is violated every day with impunity, by those whose duty it is to preserve it, and that a formidable conspiracy existed, and that the supposed principal conspirators—those whose language and conduct point them out as the avowed principal agitators of the country—are admitted to the presence of his Majesty's representative in Ireland; and equally well received with the King's most loyal subjects.” His Grace added in a subsequent communication of the 19th
of November, “ I might have, at an earlier period, expressed the pain I felt, at the attendance of gentlemen of your household, and even of your family, at the Roman Catholic Association. I could not but feel, that such attendance must expose your government to mis-construction. But I was silent, because it is painful to notice such things; but I have always felt that if these impressions on the King's mind should remain, and I must say that recent transactions have given fresh cause for them. I could not avoid to mention them to you in private communication, and to let you know the embarrassment which they occasion.” In a still earlier communication, dated 28th September, the Duke of Wellington told the Lord Lieutenant, that the Catholic question, was “a subject of which the King never hears, or speaks of, without being disturbed.” Of the reluctance with which his Majesty therefore was brought at length to consent to the introduction of the Bill no doubt could be entertained. The Duke of Wellington admitted, that his efforts to obtain that consent, had been continued during the summer and autumn; and it was pleaded as the excuse for the short notice, on which the measure was proposed, that the consent had been wrung from the King only a few days before, Parliament met in February. His Majesty's resistance therefore had been long and firm, it was not wonderful that he should at last have yielded to the representations, daily urged by those in whom he most confided, that a continued refusal could have no other effect, than to keep che part of his empire in misery, and expose the whole to rebellion, it might be to dismemberment. No room was left for counteracting the views thus assiduously pressed upon the royal mind; for the knowledge of what was going on, was carefully confined to the operators themselves; nor was it ever made known to those who might have interfered till it was found that his majesty's consent had already been obtained, and that interference came too late. That consent ennabled ministers to bring forward their plan fortified by the approbation of the Crown; that approbation, and their own influence ennabled them to command the majorities by which
they carried through a measure acknowledged by themselves to be a sacrifice to what they thought expedient, of what they ever held to be right and constitutional, and which they admitted to be heartily disliked by the country, that they claimed the merit for having given up to what they terined a sense of duty, not only all political commotions, but even the approbation and esteem of the public. Thus had Mr. O'Connell and his Association, as representing the united voice of Catholic Ireland, and of the Liberal Protestants of Ireland, changed, in one year, a majority of 44 against them to one of 105 in their favour. Fear was found to argue more powerfully in Downing Street than conscience. The friends of the cause could not pass a Relief Bill when the Catholics petitioned; but their enemies did it with alacrity, when they shewed their power. A politic effort was made to restrict the liberality of the measure, by the disfranchisement of the forty-shilling freeholders. This act proved afterwards of some advantage, in what is called “the admission of a principle.” Where the interest of the poor and powerless is at stake, such “principles” are generally overlooked, and it did not occur to those who took away these small “ vested rights," that they would soon have to judge on similar “ rights" vested in more imporwant persons.
The re-election of Mr. O'Connell for the County of Clare, was now determined, and so soon as he took the field, what was termed an “ Aggregate Meeting" of the Catholics took place to consider what steps should be adopted to forward his re-election. This was nothing else than a meeting of the Catholic Association. It was held in the old Association rooms, it was held for old Association purposes. A large sum of the Catholic rent still remained on hand; this meeting was held, and was followed by others, to consider how that fund should be disposed of and only the Catholic Association could dispose of that fund. The very first thing done by the meeting, was to vote £5000 of the rent, as an aid to Mr. O'Connell in standing for the county of Clare. This was the very thing which they had done in 1828. The one was as much an act of the Catholic Association as the other nad been--and was in the very face of that law suppressing it, with which the Relief Bill had been so pompously introduced. The vote was strongly opposed by some Members on the ground, that such a mode of appropriating the money, was not among the objects for which it had been contributed, and Mr. Eneas Macdonnell gave the Treasurers warning, that if they applied any part of these monies towards such a purpose, it would be at their own peril. Mr. Macdonnell probably acted from resentment, but the very cause of his resentment was, the actings of this, revived Catholic Association. He had put in a claim to be remunerated from the fund for what he had done, and suffered in the Catholic cause. That claim was rejected, but it was rejected only after a debate of three days, regularly adjourned from day to day, and these meetings took place under the very eye of the Government without interruption,