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ence of principle regarding church property which existed between those who then sat together in the same administration. On a motion of Mr. Hume's in that year, Mr. Brougham, Lord Althorp, Lord John Russell, and Mr. E. Ellice had concurred in sanctioning the principle, that Parliament had a right to inquire whether the revenues of the Establishment in Ireland were not excessive for the purposes to which they were devoted; while Mr. Stanley had won the cheers of the Tories and Conservative Whigs by his eloquent defence of the indefeasible rights of the church to retain all her possessions. He likewise referred to the opinion of Mr. Brougham in 1826, that the income of the clergy could no more be considered identical with private property than the pay of the army. After seven years, the early instincts of Ecclesiastical Conservatism had again developed themselves in the Secretary for the Colonies; but would his colleagues whom he had beguiled or driven into the adoption of the late unparalleled measure of coercion, consent to abrogate a principle they had so long ago and so lately advocated for the sake of propitiating a hostile majority in the House of Peers ? The motion was negatived by 177 to 86; but the first step was taken towards
creating the memorable schism in the Whig party which occurred in the following year.
Notwithstanding the alteration thus made, it seemed doubtful at first whether the Lords would give their assent to the bill. In a letter to a friend, written on the 13th of July, Mr. Sheil expresses the prevalent conviction that there would be a majority against it on the second reading, in which case Ministers, it was thought, would resign; and he adds his belief that if the Tories were called upon to take the Government they would in a few weeks evince no little pliancy in re-fitting their policy to suit existing circumstances. After a debate, however, of three nights their Lordships, on the 19th of July, under the advice of the Duke of Wellington, decided by a majority of 157 to 98, in favour of the
The case of Captain Atcheson, who had been dismissed from the army for refusing to order a salute to be fired in honour of the Host, was on the 17th of July brought under the notice of the House. Both Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil supported the prayer of his petition to be restored to his former rank. The latter urged that “the Catholic soldier was exempted from the necessity of attending Protestant woiship;
where then was the Roman Catholic that would not extend to others that privilege on which he set so high an appreciation ? It was notorious to every man who had ever read the history of the early persecutions, that the Christians underwent martyrdom, not on account of the profession of particular tenets, but because they would not assist in the rites employed in the Roman temples in connexion with the religion of the State. The martyrology of the early Church was pregnant with these illustrious examples. The honour paid to the Host touches the very point on which Catholics and Protestants differ; and Captain Atcheson was justified in feeling that an implied recognition of the Eucharist was exacted from him. Instead of making allowance for conscientious scruples, this unfortunate gentleman was eight months afterwards, dismissed the service. This ought not to have been; and the House was bound to procure him redress."*
On supporting the motion of Mr. Tennyson D'Eyncourt, for leave to bring in a bill to limit the duration of Parliament to three years, Mr. Sheil taunted Ministers with having so soon forgotten the opinions they had professed so recently regarding the
* Hansard, 1833 ; vol. xix., p. 787.
constitutional propriety of taking the sense of the country, even during periods of party excitement. Lord J. Russell, when bringing in the Reform Bill, had declared that he left the duration of Parliament an open question. The Reform Bill was in some sort founded in theory; but to re-enact the triennial bill would simply be to go back to the oldest and best precedents of our history. The power of the House of Commons had indeed been much augmented by the Reform Act, but that was a reason why it ought not to be suffered to be too long-lived. The discretion vested in the national trustees had indeed been greatly increased; then it was all the more reasonable that the cestui que trust should more frequently have the opportunity of calling their trustees to account, and of changing them if they thought fit
to do so.
The success which, during this session, had attended many of his efforts, and the facility he found in adapting himself more and more to the customary tone of debate, led him to think seriously of relinquishing finally all ideas of professional advancement. Law was at best for him an uncongenial pursuit; and its secondary rewards laboriously earned, contrasted ill with those which Parliamentary dis
tinction held forth as easier of attainment, though more precarious and uncertain. While in Ireland during the autumn, he asked the advice of Mr. Perrin as to whether he should continue to seek for business at the Irish bar, or abandoning it altogether, confine his attention to political studies and avocations ? His friend hesitated about giving an opinion on a subject of so much personal importance; but inclined to recommend an adherence to the profession, in certain branches of which he considered Mr. Sheil highly qualified to excel. At Nisi Prius for example, he would be tolerably sure of being frequently engaged; and he might fairly expect in due time to attain eminence and emolument. In reply to these suggestions, however, Mr. Sheil urged with truth the difficulties that encompassed any man who did not continuously devote his attention to the technical details of pleading and of practice; and after placing the matter in various points of view he summed up all by saying“How could I ever be safe, after I had sat ир
all night at a case, that when I came into court in the morning our friend Tom Smith with his watchmaker's eye, would not be ready to point out some flaw in it?”
Notwithstanding such apprehensions he still con