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granary, who weighed these in the balance ? “It is clear," says the chronicler, that the common people were confederated; that they wished to dictate the regulation of property; that they resisted the payment of taxes and tithes, and had bound themselves by the profanation of an oath to enforce those wicked plans by plunder, torture, and murder.” Clear indeed; if only the writing of the Fates could have been read with understanding.

That, when Parliament met in 1822, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, and the Insurrection Act renewed, at first till the close of the session, and subsquently till August in the following year, was matter of course.

In April, famine, which had been lowering for a year, burst again on the land with the suddenness peculiar to countries where each man raises his own food, and market prices do not give the usual warnings. A wet autumn had again rotted the potatoes in the ground. When the small part of the crop that was saved had been nearly consumed, the price suddenly rose from three-halfpence to sixpence the stone. In Clare county, thirteen thousand people were reported from the barony of Clonderalaw as being without seed for the next crop. In the parish of Finloe, seven out of every eight men were starving. Throughout Galway, Sligo, Kerry, Cork, the same tale was told with dismal iteration. Men asked what crimes were punishable with imprisonment, for in the prisons there was food. And, as it had been four years before, famine was followed closely by typhus fever. English charity was stirred. A quarter of a million was raised by private charity; half a million was voted by Parliament. It is noteworthy that many debates took place during the session of 1822, on what was called agricultural distress throughout the three kingdoms. But the distress in Great Britain was not due to famine, but to plenty. Wheat fell during the year to 46s. and never rose above 56s. The sufferings of English landlords and farmers were more than balanced by the blessing of cheap bread to

1 The Annual Register, which gives, but also which withholds, much important information on Irish events, mentions the famine of 1821-2, but is silent on the more terrible famine of 1817-18.




Manchester and Birmingham. But the Irish cottiers did not know the taste of bread.

The debate that took place on the renewal of Sir. J. Newport's motion for inquiry 1 into the state of Ireland showed a growing consciousness that the experiment of governing Ireland from Westminster had not as yet succeeded. Newport dwelt on the admitted evils of absentee proprietors; on the broken spirit of the resident gentry; on the absence of all interchange of kindly offices between high and low; on the increase of internal taxation, unaccompanied by increase of revenue. Exports increased, while the peasantry starved; for what Henry Boyle said in 1747 was true still, that there was no country in the world so fertile as Ireland, whose inhabitants consumed so little of their own produce. These things had been said before; but it was a new thing that they should be enforced by the weighty authority of Grant, who had been Irish secretary, in succession to Peel, from 1818 to 1821. It must be admitted, said Grant,2 that not merely was the landlord an absentee, but very frequently the agent also; and, in ad tion to the rent which the tenants paid to the landlord, pecuniary considerations were exacted by both the agent and his deputy. The absence of proprietors, the habit of letting land to the highest bidder without regard to the claims of former occupiers, the fact that when prices were high rents were exorbitant, when prices were low rents had not been reduced adequately, furnished too much ground for the complaint prevalent in Ireland as to the price of rent. Newport's motion was withdrawn; but the time for resisting it was swiftly passing by. It was melancholy, as Lord Lansdowne had said at the opening of the session, but also it was obvious, “that, though it was now more than twenty years since the Union, it was still necessary, in discussing the interests of the United Kingdom, to consider those of Great Britain and Ireland separately as two distinct parts."

1 April 22, 1822.

2 “Parliamentary Debates,” vol. vi. (new series), pp. 1509–10. The whole speech is worth reading.

3 Debate on address, February 15, 1822.

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A Bill was brought in by Goulburn, who had succeeded Grant as Irish secretary early in 1822, to facilitate the enployment of the poor in road-making and other public works. They were to be carefully supervised by Government officers, and the amount of money granted was not to exceed that for which grand juries had made presentments. Some attempt was made by Lord Lansdowne and by Newport to touch the question of tithe. Gratttan's exposition of the iniquitous mode of collecting it was repeated, and the remedy he suggested forty years before, the principle of commutation actually adopted in 1838, was suggested. But to this a deaf ear was turned. Tithe, said Lord Liverpool, was as sacred as rent. Half a century was to pass before the sanctity of rent itself should be disputed. Nevertheless a measure was proposed and carried by Goulburn in the following session, which was a first step in this direction. The Bill authorised the Lord-Lieutenant, on the application of the incumbent or of the principal tithe-payers, to order a special vestry to be convened, who were to choose a commissioner for the purpose of fixing commutation on the basis of the average price of corn for the preceding three years. The incumbent was to choose another commissioner, and there was provision for such further arbitration as the case might require.

The appointment of Lord Wellesley to the viceroyalty in the winter of 1821–22 brought the Irish a friend; and the death of Castlereagh in the following autumn removed a statesmen not less fatally mistaken in his Irish than in his British and European policy. The viceroys since the Union had not been distinguished men.2 Lord Hardwicke held the office till 1805, and had not left his mark. The Duke of Bedford had been popular during his few months of office, and had been drawn by an enthusiastic crowd to the waterside in significant demonstration against those who had caused his recall, rather than for any good thing that he had done. Of the Duke of Richmond, Lord Whit1822–3]

1 “ Parliamentary Debates," vol. vii. p. 1029.

2 Neither viceroys nor chief secretaries were members of the Cabinet during this period.



worth, Lord Talbot, no more is to be said than of the brave Gyas and the brave Cloanthus in the Æneid. The Irish secretariat had greater names to boast of. Wellington had filled the office from 1807 to 1809; Peel from 1812 to 1818. Peel's cautious, cold temperament had rendered him singularly slow to understand the people he had come to rule. His successor, Grant, had learnt the lesson much more aptly. On Catholic Emancipation, now an open question for ministries, it had became an established practice that the Lord-Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary should be of opposite ways of thinking. Thus the commonplace conservatism of Goulburn was thrown in to balance the wider sympathies and vigorous brain of Wellesley.

Wellesley's sympathies with Catholic Emancipation were less important than his firm resolve that the Orange conspiracy should no longer openly insult the feelings of the majority of the Irish people. It had been the practice to decorate the statue of William III. on July 12, and on November 4 and 5. In 1822 the celebration had caused the usual disturbances on the first of these occasions, and notice was given before the second that it would be forbidden. The prohibition was bitterly resented by the Orange leaders. The merchants' guild passed a resolution condemning it. Six weeks afterwards Lord Wellesley was insulted and attacked in the Theatre Royal. Ten arrests were made, and three men were charged with conspiracy to murder the viceroy. But a jury was selected by one of the sheriffs which ignored the bill altogether in the case of eight of the prisoners, and in the other two brought in a true bill as to the minor charge of rioting. The inquiry instituted by the House of Commons in the spring of 1823, into the conduct of the sheriff, threw much light on the nature of the Orange associations; and showed also that the institution of the jury was as clay in the hands of the potter to the bitter partisans who were allowed to form the panel.

1 The Duke of Richmond held office from April 1807 to August 1813; Lord Whitworth, till October 1817 ; Lord Talbot, till December 1821 ; Lord Wellesley, till 1828.

2 See papers relating to riot at Dublin Theatre, December 14, 1822, p. 4. Also evidence taken before the House of Commons in committee, May 1823. The evidence of Sir G. Whiteford, foreman of the grand jury, a man known to be unfavourable to the disuse of the statue-decoration, is specially instructive (pp. 105-110).

Meantime, under Wellesley as under Talbot, under the Insurrection Act of 1822 as under its predecessors, agrarian crime, the gnashing of teeth of the hunted animal at bay, the peasant's savage protest, not seldom his protection, against injustice and hunger, had never slackened for a month. In May 1823 a Bill was brought in to continue the Insurrection Act for a further term. On the second reading Sir H. Parnell reviewed the history of coercion since the beginning of the century. The Insurrection Act of 1796 had been prolonged to 1802. From 1803 to 1805 there was martial law. The Insurrection Act had been renewed for three years in 1807, and again for four years in 1814, and yet again in 1822. In many of these years, Habeas Corpus had been suspended. The Arms Act of 1807, the Peace Preservation Act of 1814, had remained in force since their enactment. Only four years could be found out of twenty-three that could be spoken of as tranquil. He moved for a committee of twenty-one members to inquire into the recent disturbances. The committee was refused, and the Bill passed by 88 votes against 39.

But these feeble efforts to deal with Irish problems were soon to be superseded by a new force, wholly unforeseen, and far more effective than any that had arisen since the times of Parliamentary independence; the appearance of the Catholic Association as the organ of social reform and national life.

The dissensions of the reforming party on the question of the veto had left behind them a state of apathy and hopelessness which it appeared impossible to rouse. The Catholic Board, which, on the suppression of the Catholic Committee in 1812, had taken its place, never rose to importance. It was a debating-ground between the Catholic gentry willing to concede the veto and the Catholic priest

1 June 24, 1813; “Parliamentary Debates," vol. viii. p. 1148 et seq. 2 Viz. 1802-3, 1805-6, 1810-11, 1818-19.

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