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play of insulting ascendancy by the lowest rabble, not the respectable portion of the party. On the 14th of December the lord lieutenant visited the theatre: the house echoed with discordant clamour; but expressions of public regard for lord Wellesley greatly predominated. Some ruffians in the gallery threw a bottle, and the fragment of a watchman's rattle, at the lord lieutenant in his box. Three persons were taken into custody charged as the offenders. Mr. Plunkett oscillated between the capital and the minor offence : this was a fault, and his only one. It excited some surprise in a man of his superior capacity, and of a stern tranquillity of demeanour and character. But under this severe exterior he carried an excitable temperament. There is no man whose sensibility is more easily awakened, whose passions are more easily kindled to the prejudice of his judgment, where he consults, or thinks he is consulting, truth, justice, or humanity. Bills of indictment for the misdemeanor were sent up, and ignored by the grand jury as to one, - found against the two others. Two persons cannot commit a riot; and the finding was nugatory, Mr. Plunkett filed an ex officio information, in order to bring to justice persons whom, upon evidence laid before him, he believed guilty. The petty jury could not agree upon their verdict, and the prisoners were discharged.
The weapons used might knock out the brains, but could not perforate the body, of the lord lieutenant : and the offence was treated by one party as a mere ebullition of protestant zeal. Others ascribed the nugatory finding of the grand, and the non-agreement
of the petty jury, to party spirit and contrivance. The matter was made the subject of tedious discussions and a futile investigation in the house of commons; and the only result worth notice was, an exhibition of the corrupt and factious effrontery with which juries are packed, and justice abused, in Ireland. The only legislative act of importance respecting Ireland exclusively, during the session, was the tithe-composition act, which has been partially beneficial.
The catholic claims were submitted to parliament under hopeless circumstances, by Mr. Plunkett, on the 17th of April. A remarkable personal collision between Mr. Canning and Mr. Brougham served as an enlivening prelude to one of the dullest of debates. Sir Francis Burdett charged Mr. Canning with having deserted the catholics ; pronounced the motion about to be made a mere farce ; and called upon all the real friends of catholic emancipation to withdraw. Mr. Canning vindicated himself on the ground that an emancipating cabinet could not, in the actual state of the country, be formed. He was followed and attacked by Mr. Brougham in a strain of vehement asperity: Mr. Brougham charged him with “a specimen of truckling (to lord Eldon on the catholic question] the most monstrous and incredible in the whole history of political tergiversation.” Mr. Canning, who appeared labouring to control his emotion for some minutes, and sat with his eye fixed on Mr. Brougham, rose at this moment from his seat, pronounced, in a tone of forced calmness, “ Sir, I rise to say that is false," and resumed his seat. After a dead silence of some seconds, the
speaker called on Mr. Canning to explain : Mr. Canning would not comply. Several members interfered: Mr. Brougham would not explain until Mr. Canning had retracted. Mr. Bankes moved that both members should be placed in the custody of the serjeant at arms.
At last sir Robert Wilson extricated the house by a suggestion of hypothetical and mutual explanation, which was adopted, and the affair ended.
On the 21st of May, sir James Mackintosh moved nine resolutions proposing specified mitigations of the criminal law. They were resisted by Mr. Peel, and negatived. Mr. Peel, however, brought in and carried four bills on the same subject, which fell short of the reforms contemplated by sir J. Mackintosh; but were still important steps in the progress of reason and humanity.
The proceedings of the holy alliance, in reference to Spain, were but rarely and transiently alluded to in parliament. On the 14th of April, lord Liverpool and Mr. Canning communicated to parliament in their respective places, the diplomatic correspondence on this subject. These papers, and the various motions on them are too complicated, voluminous, and conn ted det to be more than glanced at. A brief reference to the leading facts will suffice. The duke of Wellington, it has been observed, set out for Verona when Mr. Canning was but forty-eight hours minister. The choice of the duke was, in limine, unfortunate : his coarse apprehensions, if not dislike, of civil liberty ; his known sympathy with the principles and projects of the holy alliance; the utter want of heart with which
he entered into the foreign policy of Mr. Canning, which mainly consisted in disengaging the country from what may be called the Wellington and Castlereagh system, made him one of the most unfit persons that could have been appointed.
The decried Greeks were at this time bravely maintaining their struggle to throw off the Turkish yoke; and apprehensions were entertained of war between the Porte and Russia. So secretly had the holy alliance carried on its designs against Spain, that the duke of Wellington supposed himself going to Verona to assist in arranging the destinies of Greece only. Arrived at Paris, he was informed by the French minister, Villele, that the affairs of Spain would also come under the consideration of the congress. He wrote to Mr. Canning for instructions, and was instructed as follows in reply:
“ If there be a determined project to interfere by force, or by menace, in the present struggle in Spain, so convinced are his majesty's government of the uselessness and danger of any such interference, so objectionable does it appear to them in principle, as well as utterly impracticable in execution, that when the necessity arises, or (I would rather say) when the opportunity offers, I am to instruct your grace at once frankly and peremptorily to declare, that to any such interference, come what
may, his majesty will not be a party.” Never were the credit of a government and the word of a king prostituted with more falsehood than by the government and king of France. A French army was stationed on the Spanish frontier. Louis XVIII. declared to the French chambers, in
the face of Europe, that this military force was a 66 cordon sanataire" to keep out the yellow fever, which was raging in Spain ; and that those who imputed to him any hostile designs against Spain
“evil-minded calumniators.” In the beginning of 1823, after a lapse only of some weeks, the same faithless, shameless person informed the same chambers, in the face of Europe, that the pretended sanatory cordon was, in reality, an army of invasion, and then crossing the frontier under the duke of Angoulême. The French minister Villele played his part, personally, with the same effrontery and falsehood. He assured Mr. Canning that his intentions were pacific; and that he should strictly abstain from interfering between the insurgent bands of the faith, so called, and the constitutional government. But when reproached by the French ultras with having wasted time in idle negotiations with England, he announced publicly in the French chamber of deputies, that the French
army was not yet in a condition to invade Spain ; and that he employed the time of hollow professions to Mr. Canning in fomenting and aiding insurrection against the Spanish constitution.
Two courses were open to Mr. Canning in this emergency - neutrality or war. He chose the former; and stated his grounds at great length, and with much eloquence, in the house of commons. A similar exposition was made in the house of lords by lord Liverpool; and the course pursued by the foreign secretary was sanctioned by large majorities of both houses. The public feeling was strongly in favour of suc