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sure, from personal animosity, but from a regard for the public interest, which must be injuriously affected by everything which tends to lower the character of public men, say plainly what I think of the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers. Undoubtedly it is of the highest importance that we should legislate well. But it is also of the highest importance that those who govern us should have, and should be known to have, fixed principles, and should be guided by those principles both in office and in opposition. It is of the highest importance that the world should not be under the impression that a statesman is a person who, when he is out, will profess and promise anything in order to get in, and who, when he is in, will forget all that he professed and promised when he was out. I need not, I suppose, waste time in proving that a law may be in itself an exceedingly good law, and yet that it may be a law which, when viewed in connection with the former conduct of those who proposed it, may prove them to be undeserving of the confidence of their country. When this is the case, our course is clear. We ought to distinguish between the law and its authors. The law we ought, on account of its intrinsic merits, to support. Of the authors of the law, it may be our duty to speak in terms of censure.
In such terms I feel it to be my duty to speak of Her Majesty's present advisers. I have no personal hostility to any of them; and that political hostility which I do not disavow has never prevented me from doing justice to their abilities and virtues. I have always admitted, and I now most willingly admit, that the right honorable Baronet at the head of the Government possesses many of the qualities of an excellent minister, eminent talents for debate, eminent talents for business, great experience, great information, great skill in the management of this House. I will go further, and say that I give him full credit for a sincere desire to promote the welfare of his country. Nevertheless, it is impossible for me to deny that there is too much ground for the reproaches of those who, having, in spite of a bitter experience, a second time trusted him, now find themselves a second time deluded. I cannot but see that it has been too much his practice, when in opposition, to make use of passions with which he has not the slightest sympathy, and of prejudices which he regards with profound contempt. As soon as he is in power a change takes place. The instruments which have done his work are flung aside. The ladder by which he has climbed is kicked
down. I am forced to say that the right honorable Baronet acts thus habitually and on system. The instance before us is not a solitary instance. I do not wish to dwell on the events which took place seventeen or eighteen years ago, on the language which the right honorable Baronet held about the Catholic question when he was out of power in 1827, and on the change which twelve months of power produced. I will only say that one such change was quite enough for one life. Again the right honorable Baronet was in opposition ; and again he employed his old tactics. I will not minutely relate the history of the manoeuvres by which the Whig Government was overthrown. It is enough to say that many powerful interests were united against that Government under the leading of the right honorable Baronet, and that of those interests there is not one which is not now disappointed and complaining. To confine my remarks to the subject immediately before us,-can any man deny that, of all the many cries which were raised against the late administration, that which most strongly stirred the public mind was the cry of No Popery? Is there a single gentleman in the House who doubts that, if, four years ago, my noble friend the Member for the City of London had proposed this bill, he would have been withistood by every member of the present Cabinet ? Four years ago, Sir, we were discussing a very different bill. The party which was then in opposition, and which is now in place, was attempting to force through Parliament a law, which bore indeed a specious name, but of which the effect would have been to disfranchise the Roman Catholic electors of Ireland by tens of thousands. It was in vain that we argued, that we protested, that we asked for the delay of a single session, for delay till an inquiry could be made, for delay till a Committee should report. We were told that the case was one of extreme urgency, that every hour was precious, that the House must, without loss of time, be purged of the minions of Popery. These arts succeeded. A change of administration took place. The right honorable Baronet came into power. He has now been near four years in power. He has had a Parliament which would, beyond all doubt, have passed eagerly and gladly that Registration Bill which he and his colleagues had pretended that they thought indispensable to the welfare of the State. And where is that bill now? Flung away; condemned by its own authors; pronounced by them to be so oppressive, so inconsistent with all the principles of representative Government, that, though they had
vehemently supported it when they were on your left hand, they could not think of proposing it from the Treasury Bench. And what substitute does the honorable Baronet give his followers to console them for the loss of their favourite Registration Bill ? Even this bill for the endowment of Maynooth College. Was such a feat of legerdemain ever seen? And can we wonder that the eager, honest, hotheaded Protestants, who raised you to power in the confident hope that you would curtail the privileges of the Roman Catholics, should stare and grumble when you propose to give public money to the Roman Catholics? Can we wonder that, from one end of the country to the other, everything should be ferment and uproar, that petitions should, night after night, whiten all our benches like a snowstorm ? Can we wonder that the people out of doors should be exasperated by seeing the very men who, when we were in office, voted against the old grant to Maynooth, now pushed and pulled into the House by your whippers-in to vote for an increased grant? The natural consequences follow. All those fierce spirits, whom you hallooed on to harass us, now turn round and begin to worry you. The Orangeman raises his war-whoop: Exeter Hall sets up its bray: Mr. MacNeill shudders to see more costly cheer than ever provided for the priests of Baal at the table of the Queen; and the Protestant Operatives of Dublin call for impeachments in exceedingly bad English. But what did you expect ? Did you think, when, to serve your turn, you called the Devil up, that it was as easy to lay him as to raise him ? Did you think, when you went on, session after session, thwarting and reviling those whom you knew to be in the right, and flattering all the worst passions of those whom you knew to be in the wrong, that the day of reckoning would never come? It has come. There you sit, doing penance for the disingenuousness of years. If it be not so, stand up manfully, and clear your fame before the House and the country. Show us that some steady principle has guided your conduct with respect to Irish affairs ? Show us how, if you are honest in 1845, you can have been honest in 1841. Explain to us why, after having goaded Ireland to madness for the purpose of ingratiating yourselves with the English, you are now setting England on fire for the purpose of ingratiating yourselves with the Irish. Give us some reason which shall prove that the policy which you are following, as Ministers, is entitled to support, and which shall not equally prove you to have been the most factious and unprincipled opposition that ever this country saw.
But, Sir, am I, because I think thus of the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers, to take the counsel of the honorable Member for Shrewsbury and to vote against their bill? Not so. I know well that the fate of this bill and the fate of the administration are in our hands. But far be it from us to imitate the arts by which we were overthrown. The spectacle exhibited on the bench opposite will do quite mischief enough. That mischief will not be lessened, but doubled, if there should be an answering display of inconsistency on this side of the House. If this bill, having been introduced by Tories, shall be rejected by Whigs, both the great parties in the State will be alike discredited. There will be one vast shipwreck of all the public character in the country. Therefore, making up my mind to sacrifices which are not unattended with pain, and repressing some feelings which stir strongly within me, I have determined to give my strenuous support to this bill. Yes, Sir, to this bill, and to every bill which shall seem to me likely to promote the real Union of Great Britain and Ireland, I will give my support, regardless of obloquy, regardless of the risk which I may run of losing my seat in Parliament. For such obloquy I have learned to consider as true glory; and as to my seat, I am determined that it never shall be held by an ignominious tenure; and I am sure that it can never be lost in a more honorable cause.
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON THE 23RD OF April, 1845.
On the twenty-third of April, 1845, the order of the day for going
into Committee on the Maynooth College Bill was read. On the motion that the Speaker should leave the chair, Mr. Ward, Member for Sheffield, proposed the following amendment :
“That it is the opinion of this House that any provision to be made for the purposes of the present Bill ought to be taken from the funds already applicable to ecclesiastical purposes in Ireland.”
After a debate of two nights the amendment was rejected by 322 votes to 148. On the first night the following Speech was made.
I was desirous, Sir, to catch your eye this erening, because it happens that I have never yet found an opportunity of fully explaining my views on the important subject of the Irish Church. Indeed, I was not in this country when that subject for a time threw every other into the shade, disturbed the whole political world, produced a schism in the administration of Lord Grey, and overthrew the short administration of the right honorable Baronet opposite. The motion now before us opens, I conceive, the whole question. My honorable friend the member for Sheffield, indeed, asks us only to transfer twenty-six thousand pounds a year from the Established Church of Ireland to the College of Maynooth. But this motion, I think, resembles an action of ejectment brought for a single farm, with the view of trying the title to a large estate. Whoever refuses to assent to what is now proposed must be considered as holding the opinion that the property of the Irish Church ought to be held in violate : and I can scarcely think that any person will vote for what is now proposed, who is not prepared to go very much farther. The