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advice were forgotten; discord and faction reappeared in Dublin, and lawless violence in several counties of Munster and Connaught.
The year was signalised by an event which, a few years before, would have agitated cabinets and shaken systems, but which now passed over Europe very lightly, with the exception of France. This was the death of Napoleon at St. Helena. His imprisonment was aggravated by the vexations of his gaoler, and his character somewhat lowered by his complaints. The spoiled child of fortune and glory died in his captivity, of cancer in the stomach, on the 5th of May, 1821. Lord Wellesley said of him, that “ he was of an order of spirits which make unto themselves great reverses.” This admirable monumental trait of portraiture and eloquence deserves to be graven upon his statue or his tomb.
The year 1822 opened with difficult and dismal prospects to the king's government, already cowed by its disgraces. The commerce and manufactures of the country, it is true, gradually, though slowly, improved ; but ministers, with a firmness which deserved praise, sustained and accelerated the return to cash payments; the value of money rose; the prices of agricultural produce fell still lower; distress ascended from the farmers to the landlords, reaching them not only in their luxuries, but their necessities ; and the country gentlemen took such a part in county meetings as indicated a mutiny against the treasury bench in the house of commons. To meet this danger, lord Liverpool opened the doors of office at last to the long-exnectant wishes of the Grenville-Wynne party. Lord
Grenville retired from public life; and the marquis of Buckingham, as chief of the party, was created a duke. A more important accession of strength, or at least of talent, was gained in the retirement of lord Sidmouth from the home department to make way for Mr. Peel. The part taken by Mr. Canning in the proceedings against the queen still rankled too bitterly in the king's mind to admit of his return to the cabinet. An important and auspicious change took place in the government of Ireland. Lord Wellesley was sent over as lord lieutenant in the room of lord Talbot. He was, it is true, according to the usual system of government by counterpoise, encumbered with Mr. Goulburn for his secretary But the secretary was a person still more subordinate to the lord lieutenant in the station of his mind than in that of his office; and the scale was turned completely by the succession of Mr. Plunkett, a liberal politician, of high character and consummate ability, as attorney-general, to Mr. Saurin, the ablest and most intolerant champion of Protestant ascendancy. The character of the new Irish government was in no way so clearly or honourably proved, as by the factious virulence and vulgar mortifications in which the corporation of Dublin, and other meaner partisans of ascendancy, soon indulged against the lord lieutenant.
But the enlarged and beneficent views of lord Wellesley could not be executed or appreciated on the instant. He had to repress lawless outrages and atrocious crimes by a rigorous execution of severe penal enactments, and to employ military force against riotous rather than insurgent bands,
which took the field against all constituted authority, with desperate infatuation, in open day.
The king in person opened the session of parliament, on the 5th of February. His speech turned chiefly upon the distresses of the landed interest, which he regretted; and the “ spirit of outrage which had led to daring and systematic violations of the law” in Ireland, the repression of which he recommended to the consideration of parliament. In the house of lords, an address echoing the speech was adopted without opposition. Sir Francis Burdett and Mr. Hume, in the house of commons, successively proposed amendments of no permanent interest, which were rejected by sweeping majorities. The first subject of legislation was the state of Ireland. The marquis of Londonderry, who had succeeded to this title upon the death of his father in the preceding year, introduced two bills for re-establishing the two prescriptive and almost ordinary engines of government in Ireland, — the insurrection act, and the suspension of the habeas corpus act. These bills were passed without difficulty. They were acquiesced in, to a certain extent, in and out of parliament, on the authority of lord Wellesley, and the security of their being exercised by a man of his capacity and views.
Crime and outrage in Ireland soon disappeared or diminished, but to be followed by a famine in its most dreadful form, with the usual concomitant of disease. The famine was produced by the failure of the harvest, especially in the potato crop,
which constitutes the wretched and precarious staple of human sustenance to the peasantry of Ireland. The
scenes of death and misery among many thousands in the southern and western counties which came before the public, are among the most afflicting remembrances in the history of the country. The conduct of the government was prompt and humane. A sum of 500,000l. was placed at the disposal of lord Wellesley, to be dispensed in charitable relief, or in public works which should employ the labour of the poor. The British nation at the same time, with a spontaneous and munificent humanity, subscribed large sums for the relief of the perishing population of Munster and Connaught. The funds thus procured mitigated the horrors of this visit‘ation, until the change of season, and a favourable harvest, put an end to it.
Mr. Canning was appointed to succeed lord Hastings, as governor-general of India, in the beginning of this year. Wishing, perhaps, to give éclat to his departure from the theatre of his glory, he, on the 30th of April, moved for leave to bring in a bill which should restore their right of sitting and voting in the house of lords to Catholic peers. That classic orator put forward, on the occasion, all the powers of his accomplished genius. It was difficult on this question, and for him who had treated it so often before, to produce any thing new. Pressing into his 'service, with admirable felicity, the ceremony of the coronation in the preceding summer, he asked, “ Did it occur to the representatives of Europe, when contemplating this animating spectacle, did it occur to the ambassadors of Catholic Austria, of Catholic France, or of states more bigoted in
matters of religion,—that the moment this cere
remony was over the duke of Norfolk would become disseised of the exercise of his privileges among his fellow peers ? — that his robes of ceremony were to be laid aside and hung up, until the distant (be it a very distant !) day when the coronation of a successor to his present most gracious sovereign might again call him forth to assist at a similar solemnisation ? - that, after being thus exhibited to the eyes of the peers and people of England, and to the representatives of the princes and nations of the world, the duke of Norfolk — highest in rank among
the lord Cifford, and others like him, representing a long line of illustrious ancestry, as if called forth and furnished for the occasion, like the lustres and banners that flamed and glittered in the scene, were to be, like them, thrown by as useless and trumpery formalities? — that they might bend the knee and kiss the hand, that they might bear the train or rear the canopy, might discharge the offices assigned by Roman pride to their barbarian ancestors,
“ Purpurea tollant aulæa Britanni ; but that, with the pageantry of the hour, their im. portance faded
that as their distinction vanished their humiliation returned; and that he who headed the procession of peers to-day, could not sit among them as their equal on the morrow?” The bill passed the commons by a small majority, and was thrown out by the lords.
The distress of the landed interest came frequently before parliament upon the presentation of