Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

ensue.

quences which he feared might tian piety," and calmly await the

course of events, in the hope that On the suggestion of sir Charles Britain would repent and relax Forbes, the word expediency" “ before the Catholics were driven was substituted for “necessity :” to the very verge of despair." and the House having divided, the With much less good sense and motion was lost by a majority of moderation a non-intercourse resofour, the numbers being, for the lution was talked of, in virtue of motion 272, against it, 276-the which all adherents of the Catholic division proving, notwithstanding party were to give up the use of Mr. Canning's disbelief of the fact, articles of British manufacture, that the cause of the Catholics had and all dealings with Britons themlost by the general election, and selves ; and it was ostentatiously justifying his opinion that the held out that with a resolution of question of their claims was re- the same kind “the American garded in Britain with increased Revolution had commenced.” To distaste.

deprive Ireland of a market for In consequence of the issue her grain, her linen, and her proof the debate, the order of the visions, was an idea worthy of day in the House of Lords, for those who proclaimed themselves taking the Catholic petition into be the only men

either consideration on the 15th, was anxious or active to promote discharged on the 8th, on the mo- her prosperity. Other public tion of the marquis of Lansdowne. organs of the party proclaimed, “ He feared," he said, “to add, in that the time for debate and disthe present state of feeling in Ire- cussion was passed, and threw off land, to the disastrous conviction the thin veil which had hitherto in the minds of the Catholics, disguised, but not concealed, their that a majority of both Houses of designs against the established Parliament was determined to re- church.

Against that church as ject the consideration of their à temporality," said they, “must claims."

the whole energies of the Catholics This “ feeling" in Ireland be directed. The church has sworn did not lead to language in any eternal enmity against the Cathodegree more menacing or vin- lics, and the Catholics must put a dictive than that which, for vow in Heaven against the church." months, had preceded the discus- It was further seriously proposed, sion. A general meeting of the that petitions should immediately Catholics of Dublin, after expres- be presented, praying for a repeal sing “ the regret, and awful fore- of the Union. This mad idea, or bodings," with which they viewed something very like it, founded the vote of the House of Commons, apparently on what had been so and describing it as a vote which much pressed in the debate, viz., rejected even all consideration of that the Irish Catholics had been the prayers

“ of seven millions of induced to accede to the Union by oppressed, injured, and highly dis- the prospect of emancipation, contented, subjects,” exhorted the seemed even to have found favour people to refrain from giving way in the House of Commons; for, to exasperated feelings, to cultivate within a few days after the de"peace, perseverance, and Chris- cision of the question, Mr. M.

Fitzgerald

notice of a motion and exasperating all unkindly feelwhich would go to recommend the ings; but events soon took place adoption of measures to carry into which led to their withdrawal, by effect “ the policy of the Union.” convincing the Catholic parliaMr. Spring Rice, likewise, gave mentary leaders that temporary renotice of a motion, for an inquiry pose had become the only course into the character of the govern- likely to conduct them to their ment of Ireland. These motions object, and was indispensable to would necessarily have re-produced the success of their own personal the whole discussion, cherishing ambition,

gave

CHAP. II.

The Corn Laws-Resolutions introduced by Mr. CanningMotion for

the House going into a Conmittee opposed by the Agriculturists Views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Peel-Mr. Bankes's Amendment to raise the medium Price lost-Mr. Whitmore's Amend. ment to lower the medium Price lost - Ministers agree to raise the medium Price of Barley and Oats-Attempts to raise the medium Price of Rye, Pease, and Beans-Attempts to increase the Duty on Oatmeal and FlourScheme of Mr. Hume in opposition to the ResolutionsBill founded on the Resolutions brought inAmendments proposed Debate and Division on the second ReadingBill passes the House of Commons.

QUAL, if not superior, to able him to perform that duty-a

,

great constitutional question, was imposed upon him (although there the anxiety with which parliament were many others better qualified and the public awaited that per- to develop such a subject in all manent system of regulations for its variety of details), but because the Corn Trade, which ministers it was thought proper, when the had pledged themselves to pro- propositions of government were pose during the present session. brought forward in parliament, It had been originally intended to that they should be introduced in introduce the subject simulta- such a manner as to indicate most neously into both Houses; and, clearly that they were recomaccordingly, at the opening of the mendations from authority, and session, lord Liverpool gave notice, not the act or speculation of any that he would bring forward the individual, however high in rank intended measure in the Peers on and character. the 19th of February ; but, in In introducing the subject on consequence of the state of Mr. the 1st of March, Mr. Canning Canning's health, who was to take expressed his surprise,

that much charge of it in the House of of hostile feeling should have been Commons, it was delayed for a allowed to enter into the conweek; and, in the meantime, lord sideration of a question where none Liverpool himself was attacked by ought to have been found, and that illness which removed him that this asperity should arise from political life. The conse

where there was no necessity to quence of this was, that the pro- fly to extremes, and where the positions were brought forward difficulties were, in point of fact, only in the lower House, and it less than they were stated in arguwas not till the 1st of March ment. Every body admitted the that the health of Mr. Canning necessity of protecting the agriculwas so far re-established as to en- tural interests, and the only queso

SO

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

tion was, the mode and degree in admitted the necessity of interwhich that protection should be ference, and yet called upon the administered. That protection House not to make any provision was due to domestic agriculture, for cases in which it would be recould scarcely be denied; to quired. They allowed that prowhat amount, and in what man- tection to the consumer might ner, were the points in question. be necessary, but would adopt no Stern, inflexible, prohibition, as a measure that might afford that

promeasure of protection, could hardly tection. be defended; for even those of Leaving these extremes, the the agriculturists who were most more difficult question was, what attached to it, uniformly made it a was the degree of protection which recommendation of their plan, that should be extended to domestic parliament, if it were sitting, and agriculture—did the laws, as they the executive government, if it at present existed, afford sufficient were not, might always step in to protection, or did they afford it to furnish aid in case of necessity : to

an unnecessary extent ? With the provide for such interference to exception of an act, passed in the remedy the consequences, or what reign of Edward III. and of which might be the consequences, of it was enough to say, that it not prohibition was to acknowledge, only prohibited the importation of that no system of absolute pro- foreign grain, but prohibited the hibition could be inflexibly main- corn grown in the neighbourhood tained. Of late years, three dif- of any one town in England from ferent modes of protection, without being carried into another town, prohibition, had been proposed. it was the law of 1815 that introThe first was that of Mr. Ricardo: duced absolute prohibition, for the it imposed on wheat a duty of 20$. first time, into the legislation of per quarter, to be dininished by this country regarding corn. On one shilling every year, till it should the other hand, when the price have reached a minimum of about arrived at 80s. importation was to 10$. The second proposed to begin be unlimited; so that the law atwith a duty of 16s., to be gradu- tempted to unite two opposite ally lowered to 10s. By the third extremes. In the year 1816, the plan, which had been broached in harvest was one of the most una well-known periodical publica- favourable that had ever been tion, a duty of 58. or 6s. was to known in this country. So early be imposed, once for all, without as the month of August in that any reference to the price. All year, corn had risen above the these three plans had been devised importation price, but, from the by persons who were generally delay of making up the average favourable to a free trade in corn; returns, the ports were not opened but to all of them there lay the until the month of November. objection, that, when a pressure Thus the ports remained shut durcame, it would bring with it dis- ing three starving months. The tress to the agriculturists. Those harvest of 1817 was nearly as bad again, on the other side, who ad- as that of the preceding year ; vocated total prohibition, modified there was a whole winter of sufby the occasional interference offering, and the ports were opened parliament, or of the government, again in February. The harvest VOL. LXIX.

[F]

1

of the year 1818 was extremely 38s.; and if merely a duty of 128. abundant, not only in England, were then added, it would be as but throughout the world ; and it much too small as the other was was then as much a matter of in- too high. With respect to the terest to keep the ports closed as price, he did not wish, in any deit had before been to open them; gree, to find fault with that which but a fraction of two-pence turned had been assumed in 1815; and the scale, and the ports were he was equally ready to admit the opened, not only when it was not same with regard to that of 1822. necessary, but when it was highly The price of wheat for the twelve prejudicial that they should be years which preceded 1815 was opened. These facts showed the 858. 4d., and the price of the last effect of setting the two extremes six of those years was 96s. 6d. In in conflict with each other. It 1815 it was 80s. If, therefore, had become evident, that the great much was to be allowed for the fluctuation of prices had been pro

inflammation and excitement of ductive of evil; and, in 1822, the war, he thought that the prices House listened to the petitions of had been fairly fixed. The prices the agriculturists, and the law was of corn, from the year 1815 to the repealed. A new act was passed, year 1820, were 758. 11d. In the which gave up unlimited pro- year 1822 the new price was hibition, and recognized a certain taken ; and, upon the whole, he duty. But a clause was added, to could not entirely blame those who the effect, that the act itself should had taken 70s. as the price, benot come into force until the price cause the average of the prices of corn was as high as 80s. This from the year 1815 up to the last was, in point of fact, the whole of year was 65s. 10d.: in the last the law; its other provisions were year it was 558. 6d.

No man a mere dead letter. The price could doubt or deny that the me had never been so high as 80s.; dium price might fairly be taken it was still under 80s., and, there at between twelve and six years fore, we had never had experi. The exact average for the last ence of the other parts of the act. four years came up to this price,

He next came to consider the and the average for the present mode in which the object which year, as far as the present year they had in view was to be had gone, amounted to 53s. per effected, and he was decidedly of quarter. In considering, thereopinion that a fixed and certain fore, the price of production at duty could never effect that obe which the legislature could interject. Let them take, for in- fere, according to the principles stance, either the plan of Mr. which had governed former parliaRicardo, or either of the other ments, 60s. per quarter had been two; let the duty be fixed and taken as the point at which the invariable, and see what would be grower was entitled to the protecthe effect of its application. In tion of a high duty, to guard him one year corn was at the price of against the injury which he might 112s. ; add a fixed and invariable sustain from the importation of duty of 12s. to this, and the price foreign corn. would be rendered enormous. In The next question was, as to another year, corn was so low as the mode in which this dutý

« ForrigeFortsæt »