Billeder på siden

We say

The shaft which hath struck down our quarry, is not the less welcome because it has come from what has been hitherto a hostile bow; the winds which have wafted us into harbour have our gratitude, though yesterday they were making sad havoc with our rigging. From this hour agitation may subside, and bigotry be still; the Irish barrister may leave his unfinished metaphor-the Hampshire curate may burn his no Popery discourse: Captain Rock has thrown up his commission-Sir Harcourt's occupation is gone. In a word, Catholic Emancipation is carried.

“ carried” advisedly; although we do not forget that the announcement of the intention of the Cabinet has roused the ancient lords and ancient ladies of our legislature into more than wonted exertions, and called into active play all the energies of those illustrious statesmen who have no aim in their political career but to keep our souls from the contamination of the mass, and our bodies from the flames of Smithfield. The Ministers will have to encounter, in every stage of their proposed measure, as candid and as courteous an opposition as that which embarrassed their final labours in the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. Nevertheless, we repeat, we consider the Emancipation of the Catholics carried; not merely because they who were most powerful in its postponement are likely to be far more powerful in its advocacy-not merely because there is now no man in his sober senses, who does not see the sheer impossibility of forming, from the materials of the existing parliament, an anti-Catholic administration—not merely because some of our most talented theologians are with us-not merely because the reluctance of a certain great personage has given way—but chiefly, and above all, because there has now been time for an appeal to the country; because that appeal has been made, zealously and authoritatively made; and because it has been made in vain.

If, at the commencement of the present session of parliament, Ministers had given a hint, a bare hint, of their intention to remove some of those bulwarks by which we English hold that our liberties are secured, -if, for instance, they had menaced the Habeas Corpus Act, or shewn hostility to the Trial by Jury,-nay, if they had only threatened the imposition of an unusually grievous duty, or an unusually obnoxious tax, what a ferment would have been excited in the country! The Times might have spared its labours, Cobbett might have held his tongue ; our peasantry would not have waited for advice from the pulpit, or orders from the manor-house. From the Land's-End to the border there would have been demonstrations of popular feeling, which the grossest ignorance could not mistake, nor the boldest effrontery deny. We all remember the plain terms in which public opinion has been spoken on the question of the corn laws, and on the case of the late queen. Look then at the state of the country to-day; when every method which the ingenuity of disappointed intolerance could suggest has been adopted, for the obtaining of a forcible manifestation of sentiment. We defy criticism to point out in the harangues of Mr. Hunt any thing more vulgarly inflammatory than the addresses of the Earl of Winchilsea. How have they been answered ? Do we assert too much when we say that if the majority of the people of England be opposed to the concession of the Catholic claims, their opposition is one of lukewarmness and indifference ?-or are we too confident, when we affirm, that, if Parliament were dissolved to-morrow, after an election more than usually noisy, and squabbles more than ordinarily fierce, we should find in St. Stephen's Chapel a set of men fully prepared to begin where their predecessors left off, and to complete the good work with the same honesty, the same wisdom, and the same perseverance ? Names are easily obtained to petitions pro and con : and we could tell some laughable stories of the means we have seen employed for the multiplication of them on both sides : but we speak as well from our own observation as from the confessions of our antagonists, when we express our conviction that the country at large is willing to rely on the prudence of those whom it has constituted its representatives. Since the delivery of the king's speech no county meeting has been attempted. Of the two which were got up previously, the first gave the Anti-Catholics no very decisive victory; the second allowed them scarcely more than a drawn fight. In the metropolis the Duke of Wellington seems to have one adversary only; a lawyer whom we have heard characterized by one of the most eminent members of his profession as

a singularly wrong-headed young man." We, therefore, prophecy that the great captain will find this the easiest battle which it has ever been his lot to win. In his manœuvres before the engagement he seems to have made some remarkable blunders, and to have raised unnecessary difficulties in the way of his march. The memorable letter to Dr. Curtis,—we do not stop to discuss the object of the writer, or the propriety of the publication,-could only be productive of evil effects. It strengthened the hopes of the Orange party, and of course made its subsequent exasperation more bitter. It disclaimed all idea of doing that which was in less than a month to be done; and thus it has given an appearance of slovenliness and precipitancy to a plan which ought to be submitted to our senate as the result of forethought and deliberation. We shall probably find much to displease us in the details of the measure itself. The Minister has deemed fit to preface it by an Act for the suppression of the Catholic Association. If emancipation be conceded the Act is unnecessary; if it be denied the Act is futile and ineffectual. It is

very difficult to take

away a voice where there exists a grievance; and if it were easy it would not be wise. The mightiest discontents are those which men brood over in silence; the fiercest currents are those which are the furthest removed from our gaze.

The Act, too, which admits Catholics into the Houses of Parliament is to provide “ securities for the Protestant establishment. What is to be the nature of these “ securities” it is not our business to divine. We think we shall hardly be called upon to contribute to the support of the Catholic hierarchy. Such a boon would be of all boons the most ill-judged. The givers would give it with grudging; the receivers would receive it with disgust. But we do fear that the disfranchisement of the forty-shilling freeholders must be thrown as a sop to the angry prejudices of the patricians. Of course one of these poor helots will lose little in parting with the terrible pre. rogative which compels him to make periodically his choice between temporal privation and eternal punishment between the notice to quit of his landlord, and the anathema maranatha of his priest. But after the use they have lately made of their suffrage, the abolition of it will be a very ungracious procedure. They are not free agents, forsooth! to be sure they are not. We never intended them to be so. We take away their franchise not because they are slaves, but because they are slaves to other masters than those we chose for them.

The best measures in the way of securities are those which will do, as nearly as possible, nothing. If there be danger in the admission of Roman Catholics to political power, that danger will not be diminished when you have settled a pension on Dr. Murray, and stripped Paddy Kelleher of his vote. But Dr. Phillpotts insists upon securi ties; moderate men look for securities; old enemies of concession, who lack a pretext for conversion, beg that they may have one in securities. By all means let us prepare them.

" There are two kinds of sleep," says Sir John Sinclair; “sleep with a nightcap, and sleep without." ." There are two kinds of emancipation,” says Dr. Phillpotts ; " emancipation with securities, and emancipation without.' Let us sleep, and let us emancipate; and let our nurses take care of our nightcaps, and Lord Eldon attend to our securities.

Our most earnest hope is that the measure of emancipation, in whatever shape it may come before us, may not be considered final. Its opponents say that it will not cure the miseries of Ireland. Undoubtedly it will not. Long, long years of oppression and misrule bring evils to maturity which cannot be eradicated by the bene volence of a single day. But we shall now have time to breathe. Ireland will no longer look upon our alliance with loathing, and upon our proposals with distrust. Let us at once set ourselves to the investigation of her more real evils ; let us address her in other tones than those of despotism, and bestow upon her other blessings than bayonets and dragoons. Let us at once determine to cultivate, to instruct, to improve.

In the consequences which have resulted from the change of opinions avowed by his Majesty's councillors, public men will learn a useful lesson. They will know the value of those testimonies to general merit, which are drawn forth by exertions in a particular cause. While Mr. Peel was the champion of the church, he was an orator from whose encounter Brougham retired overwhelmed,-a reformer of the law, beside whose meridian fame the memory of Romilly looked dim. Now, his law reforms are insignificant, and his eloquence below mediocrity. He is “ a little man.' The virulence with which he is assailed by his old worshippers is, of course, in exact proportion to the need they had of his continued patronage. We were at Manchester when so much cleverness was wasted in the endeavour to draw from him a profession of his unswerving orthodoxy, a pledge of his unshrinking zeal. It was as if the inhabitants of a beleaguered city were forging chains for their God, lest he should depart from among them. But the Deity has deserted them nevertheless; and he must look to have his statues thrown down, and his divinity called in question.

When Mr. Peel was the idol of the Orange Associations we did not arraign him for being the son of a cotton-spinner: when the Duke of Wellington was the hope and stay of the Brunswick Clubs, to us the battle of Waterloo was all its admirers asserted, and the Marchioness of Westmeath all her husband denied. We did not lampoon these men because they were our enemies ; we will not flatter them because they are most unexpectedly our friends. The Duke of Wellington can scarcely be called inconsistent in the course he now pursues. No one ever seriously suspected that he had formed any very inflexible opinion upon the subject of the Catholic claims. With Mr. Peel the case is not the same. If he has not incurred the guilt of apostacy, be has certainly deserved its obloquy: and he must be content to bear it. The statesman who abandons in a few months the opinion which he has upheld for many years, may possibly be a convert; he is, primâ facie, a renegade.

Mr. Peel assures us his conduct is the result of a sincere conviction. We believe it; we believe more. We believe the conviction lurked in his mind long ago, and that he was prevented from acting upon it, by feelings to which a greater man would have been a stranger. He shows us, that his choice lay between emancipation and civil war, and that he has but preferred the possible to the certain calamity. We do not think he was blind, in earlier times, to the coming on of the crisis which he was vainly conjured to prevent.

“ Grant," said his opponents, “ grant these privileges as a free gift now; the time will come when you will have power to withhold them no longer.” “ I will not grant them as a free gift now;" was, for a long period, the answer; and lo, Mr. Peel rises in his place to tell us, the time is come when he can “ withhold them no longer." It may be politic for the liberals in parliament to applaud his new light; it may be praiseworthy in the Catholics of Ireland to forgive the evil he has wrought them. But he who has a proper sense of what makes or mars a character, will not value a tardy relinquishment of what is wrong, so highly as a steady adherence to what is right.

When history shall treat of the epoch which saw the abolition of a set of restrictions continued through so many years, for reasons which she will scarcely be able to explain, she will not bestow her rewards upon the labourers who came at the eleventh hour, but upon those who bore the burden and heat of the day. She will write, that Catholic emancipation was carried by our Lansdowne and our Holland, our Canning and our Brougham. These men, and their coadjutors, have persevered through good report and evil report, in the recommendation of a policy which the throne has at last sanctioned, and which Great Britain, to the remotest ages, will have daily more reason to bless. Unsupported by the authority of official station, they have exercised over public opinion au influence to which those in official station have been compelled to bow. Whatever despotism may do on the continent, they have fortified in these islands a safe home for civil and religious liberty. “ Give me,” said the philosopher, “ a spot of ground on which I may rest my foot ; and I will move the world.” Those of whom we speak are making for their descendants, in a free, united, educated nation, that spot of ground which the Syracusan could not find.



The Cardinal Della Genga was elected to succeed Pius VII., in 1823, after a conclave which lasted twenty-eight days. On this, as on many other occasions of the like kind, the state of health of the candidate probably determined the choice of the most eminent brethren. On this point, however, it may be observed, that the selection of a weak or infirm person arises, more generally than is supposed, out of the natural circumstances of the case, rather than out of any wary and preconceived resolution to procure a speedy return of the opportunity for another election. Two or three candidates, equally powerful, divide the conclave. Neither party seems disposed to yield ; all grow weary of their confinement and their contentions; the chance of unanimity is desperate; then it is that they look around for a brother who shall unite all suffrages. If there be one among them whose condition promises that he cannot long retain the keys of St. Peter, but that his election, while serving as a pretext for each combatant to withdraw without dishonour, without yielding the path to his antagonist, will afford them the opportunity of recruiting their force and their influence for a new occasion, it is perfectly natural that on such a person the choice should fall.

On bis elevation, Della Genga assumed the title of Leo XII., by so doing, professing to take Leo IV. (St. Leo), who was a rigid upholder of the pretences, and enforcer of the ordinances and of the church, as his model. On the point of health it was soon very clear that Leo had played no trick on his brethren. He had not hobbled into the conclave with his crutch, and thrown it away as soon as the decision in his favour was proclaimed. Leo, in fact, proved a bedridden Pope; and was no sooner elected than reports, not without foundation, were spread abroad of the probability of his speedy dissolution. He was said to be afflicted with a painful and incurable disorder; and, during his whole reign, both clergy and laity have been held in continual expectation of another election. His wretched condition, however, did not prevent the exercise of the temporal or spiritual functions of his office. Some important ceremonies which required his presence were, it is true, postponed; but there was no obstacle to his affixing his signature to a bull or an edict, and these soon showed in what spirit he proposed to govern.

The former Pope, the benevolent Pius VII., under the guidance of his sagacious Minister, Consalvi, had adopted a system of government as liberal and as much in accord with the spirit of the times as could be expected from a Pope ruling temporally over a petty state on the confines of the Austrian Empire, and a Cardinal, his Minister. The very first acts of Leo were wholly in a different temper to that which prompted those of his predecessor. Consalvi was dismissed ; and a new Cardinal-Secretary, and other Ministers, were appointed, who, like the most holy father himself, had lived without profiting by their lives, having retained all the notions, prejudices, and habits that characterized the Church before the influence of the French Revolution had reached Rome, and an utter abhorrence of that Revolution and its

« ForrigeFortsæt »