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charity from under a mask. An eloquent and earnest debate was protracted by adjournment through four nights : parliament was on the eve of a dissolution, and many Irish members, who had soon to meet their catholic constituents, supported the association with a factitious, hollow violence. The friends of the catholics, in the ministry, found themselves in a difficult position, and were closely pressed. The chief interest of this debate now consists in Mr. Canning's vindication of himself. He recalled the incidents of his public life, in reference to the catholic cause, with a convincing frankness, and it may be called) a touching effusion of personal feelings, which made the weapons of debate drop from the hands of Mr. Brougham. “ Thus have I shown," said Mr. Canning, “ that, in the year 1812, I refused office rather than enter into an administration pledged against the catholic question. I did this at a time when office would have been dearer to me than at any other period of my political life, - when I would have given ten years of life for two years of office; not for any sordid or selfish purpose of aggrandisement, but for far other and higher views. But, is this the only sacrifice I have made to the catholic cause ? From the earliest dawn of my public life, — ay, from the first visions of youthful ambition, — that ambition had been directed to one object above all others. Before that object, all others vanished into comparative insignificance : it was desirable to me beyond all the blandishments of power, beyond all the rewards and favours of the crown. That object was, to represent in this house the university in which
I was educated. I had a fair chance of accomplishing this object, when the catholic question crossed my way. I was warned, fairly and kindly warned, that my adoption of that cause would blast my prospect : I adhered to the catholic cause, and forfeited all my long-cherished hopes and expectations. And yet I am told that I have made no sacrifice! that I have postponed the cause of the catholics to views and interests of my own! The representation of the university has fallen into worthier hands. I rejoice with my right honourable friend near me (Mr. Peel) in the high honour which he has obtained : long may he enjoy the distinction ; and long may it prove a source of reciprocal pride to our parent university and to himself! Never till this hour have I stated, either in public or in private, the extent of this irretrievable sacrifice; but I have not felt it the less deeply. It is past, and I shall speak of it no more.” The motion of Mr. Goulburn was carried by a majority of 278 to 123.
There was at this time a catholic deputation of lords and gentlemen, members of the association, in London, to watch and resist the measures for its suppression. A petition from this deputation, denying and offering to disprove the allegations against it, was presented by Mr. Brougham ; who moved, without success, that the petitioners should be heard by counsel at the bar of the house. The bill was passed by both houses, and received the royal assent on the 9th of March. The catholic association became defunct under its operation but to be resuscitated.
The petition of the Irish Catholics was presented soon after by sir Francis Burdett, who brought forward the motion in a new and somewhat curious form. His plan was threefold : the repeal of disabilities ; the enactment of a state provision for the catholic clergy; and the raising of the Irish forty shilling to a ten pound franchise. The two latter measures, called in derision “ the wings” of the emancipation bill, were intended, the former as a security for the state, the latter as a protection for the Irish protestants against the overwhelming numbers of the catholics at elections. This triple measure passed the house of commons by small majorities.
On the 25th of April, between the second and third readings in the house of commons, the duke of York, in presenting a petition from the canons of Windsor against the catholics to the house of lords, uttered his memorable speech, which closed with the declaration that he would to the last moment of his life whatever his situation resist the emancipation of the catholics, “ So help him God!” All tyrants think themselves immortal : the catholics and their cause outlived the duke of York, and triumphed. His speech, however, coming from the presumptive heir to the crown, had a great share in deciding the majority of the lords against the measure; and acted with great effect upon
the congenial mass of brute ignorance and bigotry which is to be found in every people, however enlightened and free.
Upon the rejection of the first proposition by the
lords, the auxiliary measures were of course abandoned.
The catholic question was embarrassed rather than aided by these “ wings.” They also exhibited some specimens of curious inconsistency and tergiversation. Sir Francis Burdett and some other reformers would raise the franchise; the Irish catholic clergy hailed with ill-disguised avidity at first a state subsistence instead of their precarious volantary support, but, in obedience to the popular gale, soon repudiated it with pious disinterestedness; and Mr. O'Connell, a catholic barrister and prominent “ agitator," having consented to force the unhallowed gift of a state annuity upon the catholic priesthood, and lent his aid to disfranchise the Irish forty shilling freeholders, no sooner sáw the loss of the emancipation bill, and the barren odium attending his support of “ the wings,” than he made a public recantation of his errors, and asked public pardon of his God and his country.
The lords' committee on the general condition of Ireland was re-appointed at the opening, and made its report in the course of the session. The report was unimportant in itself, but invaluable for the mass of evidence appended to it. The existing generation was, and future generations will be, surprised and shocked by the perusal of this miscellany of human wrongs and wretchedness in Ireland.
The finances in the hands of Mr. Robinson continued to improve. The surplus exceeded by nearly a million his estimate stated in the preceding year; and taxes were reduced on various articles, direct and indirect, to the amount of a million and a half. His speech on the occasion was eloquent and sanguine ; and if his anticipations were not verified, the cause is to be found in those turns in the course of human affairs which no statesman, however sagacious or able, can be expected to foresee or control. The session was closed by commission, on the 6th
The joint-stock mania of the preceding and present year; the general spirit of commercial enterprise; the quantity of capital forced into various branches of trade or speculation, from which it could be immediately called in ; an unfavourable turn in the exchanges, — all co-operated to produce difficulties in the
: a panic was created; the failure of three or four London banks produced a general crash of the country bankers ; and the autumn of 1825 witnessed a crisis of distress and ruin. It was rumoured, and apprehended, that cash payments would be restricted by an order of the king in council : but the ministers came to the relief of trade and credit, only by a temporary issue of one and two pound bank notes, and by an extraordinary issue of sovereigns from the mint.
The military operations in India against the Burmese continued without any striking advantage or result; and, from the great distance of the theatre of action, were little thought of in England beyond the circle of the East India proprietary.
The emperor Alexander of Russia, having extinguished the last faint breath and erased the last vestige of freedom in Poland, and traversed the greater portion of the Russian empire, rested at Taganrog, on the shore of the sea of Azof, in November,