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1834]

MELBOURNE PRIME MINISTER

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king had attempted to bring about a coalition and failed. A reconstruction of the late Government under Melbourne as prime minister was the only remaining alternative; for this purpose the co-operation of Althorp was indispensable. Accordingly, yielding with the utmost reluctance to the pressure of his colleagues and followers, he agreed to go on, and the ministry was reconstructed. Littleton's determination to retire, lest Grey should think he had played him false, very nearly frustrated the new arrangement; he was persuaded at the last moment by the personal solicitation of the chancellor, of Melbourne, and of Althorp to resume his place, and the new administration was at last complete.

Thereupon Melbourne announced in the House of Lords that the Coercion Bill introduced by Grey would be abandoned, and a new one introduced which would not contain the meeting clauses. The Tory Lords protested, and the ministers were roundly denounced, for their inconsistency, tergiversation, and unblushing abandonment of principle; but the Bill was allowed to pass. In the Commons Peel reluctantly consented to support the Government while condemning its action, and O'Connell, who by this time had become reconciled to the Government and made it feel his power, agreed to refrain from active opposition. As soon as the Coercion Bill was disposed of, the Tithe Bill was again taken up. Already great changes had been made in

. this Bill since it was first introduced. These changes greatly provoked Stanley, who attacked the Government in a vigorous and virulent speech, which is still remembered for its “thimble-rigging" metaphor. The Bill as modified was so

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of resigning the Government. . . . I have given up my own opinion on many points, for the sake of preventing the evils likely to arise from a change of administration. But such concessions must have a limit, and I feel that I have great reason to complain that, after a measure had been agreed upon, and no doubt existed with respect to it, private communications are made to the Lord-Lieutenant without my knowledge, which induce him to express an opinion inconsistent with that which his own views of the state of Ireland suggested, and chiefly maintained on grounds from which I entirely dissent.

The Bill as it has been agreed upon must be maintained stoutly, or I must say to the king that I can no longer conduct the Government.” This letter is quoted, though not in full, in Le Marchant's “Memoir of Earl Spencer," p. 498.

complicated that no one seemed clearly to understand its provisions, not even the chief secretary himself. As it never became law, it is unnecessary to explain these intricate details. O'Connell endeavoured to persuade the Government to abandon the Bill, or at least to wait until the Church Commission had reported. He accordingly opposed the motion for going into committee. In this he was severely defeated by a majority of 154 to 14. But in committee he retrieved this defeat by proposing that the arrears of tithe, which the Bill empowered the Government to collect, should be abandoned, so that the commutation clauses might be brought into operation at once. The ministers formally opposed this proposal, but allowed themselves to be defeated. Parliamentary politics had, however, by this time resolved themselves into a trial of strength between O'Connell and the House of Lords ; and when the Bill, as amended by O'Connell, was presented to the Upper House, the Lords rejected it by a majority of 189 to 122. Parliament was prorogued a few days afterwards, and in November Earl Spencer, father of Lord Althorp, died. By his death, and the consequent accession of Lord Althorp to the peerage, the House of Commons lost its leader, and the whole ministry was sensibly, perhaps irrecoverably, weakened. The king thought that the time was come for a change, and when Lord Melbourne waited on him at Brighton to take his commands as to the changes necessary, he received an intimation that his Majesty no longer required his services. The king had resolved to have a Tory Government, and Melbourne was entrusted with a message to the Duke of Wellington, summoning the latter to his presence. The Duke provisionally accepted the Government, and kissed hands as Secretary of State while awaiting the return of Peel, who was hastily summoned from the continent. Before the end of the year the new ministry was complete, Peel being Prime Minister, and Sir Henry Hardinge Chief Secretary for Ireland. Parliament was dissolved, and in the general election the Tories, now calling themselves Conservatives, gained largely, though they did not secure a majority.

1834]

THE CONDITION OF IRELAND

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In examining the treatment of Ireland by the Grey ministry and the Reformed Parliament, it has been necessary to dwell at some length on the Parliamentary history of the time. The fate of Ireland for those years, and for many years afterwards, was decided at Westminster. The failure of the Whig Government to bring Ireland to a state of content and tranquillity was due to a variety of causesto English ignorance of the real condition of Ireland, and the indifference of Parliament to its undoubted grievances; to the surviving strength of the Ascendency party, which sufficed to make the emancipation of the Catholics an illusory concession; to the temper and character of Stanley; and to the strength of the Protestant feeling in the English constituencies. The tithe war, as it was called—and in truth it was a warfare, conducted on both sides with the utmost determination - was the direct consequence of Catholic Emancipation, which stimulated certain of the more fanatical of the Protestants to renewed efforts on behalf of their Church. In 1830 a proselytising movement was set on foot, which was known as the New Reformation. It had for its object the conversion of Catholic peasants, and to some extent it was successful. The tithe war arose out of this movement. It had latterly been the custom of the tithe-owners not to demand tithe of the Roman Catholic priests. But a few ardent spirits among the Protestant clergy determined to abandon this politic custom, and the Catholics were more than ever incensed against the exaction of tithes when they found not only that their priests were attackcd, but that the money collected was being used for the purpose of proselytism. From this source arose the earlier struggles in the tithe war. The collection of tithe was enforced by large bodies of constabulary and military. In the year 1830, six hundred men were employed to collect the tithes in the parish of Graigue, where a hotheaded curate, Mr. McDonald, had demanded tithe of the parish priest, Father Doyle. In two months only a third of the tithe had been collected, and the troops were then withdrawn. At Newtown Barry, in the same year, a collision occurred between the yeomanry and the peasants, in which twelve of the latter were shot dead and twenty fatally wounded. In this case the sergeant of yeomanry was put on his trial (the grand jury having ignored the bill against the captain), but, as no witnesses came forward, he was discharged. Several other struggles occurred in the same year, the most serious of which was that of Carrickshock, in which the police were totally routed, with a loss of eleven killed and seventeen wounded. The peasantry also suffered severely. After this, and mainly in consequence of the measures already described, which were taken by Parliament in 1831 for the temporary relief of the Protestant clergy, the war was suspended for a time. But in 1832 fresh attempts began to be made to exact tithe from the Catholic clergy. These and similar disturbances gradually brought about that condition of agrarian turbulence, accompanied by intimidation, exclusive dealingknown since 1880 by the name of “boycotting,” but practised by the Irish people in all periods of conflictoutrage, and general social disorganisation which has so often, in the history of Ireland, seemed to call for and to justify exceptional repressive legislation, We have seen how the Reformed Parliament concocted its judicious mixture of coercion and remedial legislation ; how the remedies were adulterated, diluted, and delayed in application till their whole efficacy was frustrated, while the coercion was applied with alacrity, promptitude, and a certain amount of superficial success. Discontent in Ireland was for a time driven beneath the surface. It reappeared, a few years after, in the shape of a formidable agitation for repeal of the Union.

For their neglect to strike at the causes of social disorder in Ireland, the Government of 1830 cannot be excused. Extreme misery is chronic in Ireland. It often takes the acute form of actual famine. When it does, it invariably produces an outbreak of agrarian turbulence. Every grievance under which Irishmen have suffered has contributed its portion to the terrible tale of agrarian crime. Every malady which has afflicted Ireland has ultimately assumed that " worst form of civil convulsion, a war for the means of 1834]

IRISH GRIEVANCES AND IRISH CRIME

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subsistence." 1 Protestant Ascendency maintained the land laws and supported the power of "une mauvaise aristocratie." 2 The exaction of tithes was an instrument of Protestant oppression. The Established Church was the symbol and fortress of Ascendency. The agitation against all these grievances was accompanied by agrarian turbulence. The Union itself was attacked by O'Connell on the ground that the imperial Parliament lacked either the capacity or the will to extirpate the real causes of Irish misery and discontent; and throughout the struggles which these grievances engendered, the imperial Parliament and Executive could devise no better policy than to tinker at the grievances while striking savagely at the social disorder which they created. If misery was at once the perennial source of turbulence and the motive-power of legitimate agitation, statesmanship should surely have endeavoured to mitigate the poverty, to cut out the roots of turbulence, and to remove the sources of agitation as well as its pretexts. Why has Irish importunity always been more than

1 Cornewall Lewis, “ Irish Disturbances," p. 338.

? De Beaumont, L'Irlande, Sociale, Politique, et Religieuse, vol. i. part i. chap. ii. : “On ne saurait considérer attentivement l'Irlande, étudier son histoire et ses révolutions, observer ses moeurs et analyser ses lois, sans reconnaître que ses malheurs, auxquels ont concouru tant d'accidents sunestes, ont eu et ont encore de nos jours, pour cause principale, une cause première, radicale, permanente, et qui domine toutes les autres-cette cause, c'est une mauvaise aristocratie."

3 The literature, both official and private, illustrative of Irish distress and Irish crime in the first forty years of the century is very voluminous. In Gustave de Beaumont (L'Irlande, Sociale, Politique, et Religieuse), and Cornewall Lewis (“ On Local Disturbances in Ireland ”), the official information published on tbe subject down to the year 1836 is ably summarised. Further information will be found in Mr. Barry O'Brien's invaluable work, “Fifty Years of Concessions to Ireland, 1831-1881.” It is, perhaps, un. necessary to cite extracts. It may be taken for granted that the extreme misery of the Irish people, periodically culminating in famine, was perfectly well known to the English Governments from 1820 to 1845. This is what Carlyle thought about the matter (“Chartism,” chap. iv.): “Ireland has near seven millions of working people, the third unit of whom, it appears by statistic science, has not for thirty weeks each year as many third-rate potatoes as will suffice him. It is a fact perhaps the most eloquent that was ever written down in any language, at any date of the world's history. Was change and reformation needed in Ireland ? Has Ireland been governed and guided in a wise and loving' manner ? A government and guidance

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