Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

tinued at intervals to make his appearance in court, influenced rather by a sort of irresolution respecting the formal abandonment of his profession, than from any desire to affect having business. His visits, how. ever, grew less and less frequent, and after a year or two he wholly laid aside the gown.



Who is the traitor ?—Lord Althorp's statement-Mr. C. Buller

and Mr. Fonblanque-Committee of Privileges-ReportDebate on acquittal-Russia and Turkey-Irish Church question-Secession of Lord Starley and his friends-Lord Melbourne Premier-Lord Duncannon-Dismissal of the Whigs—Sir Robert Peel's Cabinet-Dissolution of Parliament.

We now approach the most painful, and as regards his personal character, the most important trial which during a long and varied public life, he was destined to undergo. Great irritation had been caused by the resistance offered in Parliament to the Coercion Bill, and during the autumn many proofs were afforded on both sides of the Channel, that the feelings of exasperation thus excited were not likely soon to pass away. Amongst other topics of mutual recrimination was that which regarded the smallness

of the minority by whom the measure had been opposed. By the advocates of Repeal, the circumstance was dwelt on as a conclusive proof of the indisposition of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for Ireland in accordance with the wishes of her people. By the supporters of the Ministry it was bitterly retorted, that many English members had been swayed in the votes they had given by the conviction that not a few of the Irish representatives who had loudlyinveighed against the Bill, were at heart desirous of its becoming law. From week to week these accusations of tyranny on the one side, and treachery on the other, were broadly but vaguely interchanged. At length the latter imputation assumed a more precise and definite form. In an address to his constituents at Hull, on the 22nd of October, Mr. Mathew Devonport Hill was reported to have declared “that he happened to know that an Irish member, who spoke with great violence and voted against every clause of that Bill, went to Ministers and said 'Don't bate one single atom of that Bill, or it will be impossible for any man to live in Ireland.'»

Public attention was particularly drawn to the allegations herein made by an article which appeared in the Examiner of the 10th of November following,

in which the necessity was pointed out of having the matter fully inquired into. More than one of the members to whom, as a class, the charge of Mr. Hill seemed to refer, publicly disclaimed its applicability to themselves; and Mr. O'Connell pronounced the story to be a mere fabrication. Every newspaper in the kingdom now re-echoed the cry of—“Who is the traitor?” Mr. Hill publicly announced that, to any gentleman who applied to him, he would distinctly state whether he was the individual alluded to or not. Several members addressed him accordingly, and were all answered in the negative. The greater number, however, made no such application; and thus the matter remained in as much obscurity as before.

Parliament met on the 4th of February, and on the following day, on bringing up the report on the Address, Mr. O'Connell took occasion to bring the subject under the notice of the House. He cited the expressions attributed to the honourable and learned member for Hull, declared his disbelief of the charge which they contained; but in justice to himself and his friends, he called upon the Ministerial leader to say first, whether he or any other member of the Cabinet had ever stated that an Irish member had acted in the manner described; and secondly, whether

any Irish member ever went to the noble Lord or any other Minister, and made the statement imputed to him? Lord Althorp said that “ to the first of the questions he could answer positively for himself, and to the best of his belief for his colleagues, that no such assertion as had been referred to had ever been made; with respect to the second question, he was prepared to say that, as far as he was aware, no Irish member who voted and spoke against the Coercion Bill, had made any

such statement to a Cabinet Minister.” (The ‘noble Lord placed a strong emphasis on the word Cabinet, which was remarked by the House, and elicited loud cries of “hear.”) “His position was, he felt, peculiar, but he thought he should not act a manly part if he were to answer the question short. He had said that to his knowledge no Irish member who voted for the Coercion Bill had made the statement in question to a Cabinet Minister, but he should not act a manly part if he did not declare that he had good reason to believe that some Irish members (certainly more than one), who voted and spoke with considerable violence against the Bill, did in private conversation use very different language.”

A scene of great excitement here ensued: Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil both called upon the noble

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »