« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, in order to consider the present state of the Church establishment in Ireland, with the view of applying any surplus of the revenues not required for the spiritual care of its members to the general education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion.” The motion was supported by Mr. Ward, Mr. Sheil, Lord Howick, Mr. C. Wood, Dr. Lushington, Mr. Spring Rice, Mr. O'Connell, &c. &c.; and was opposed by Sir E. Knatchbull, Sir Graham, Mr. Gladstone, Sir R. Inglis, Sir W. Follett, Mr. Praed, Sir H. Hardinge, Lord Stanley, and Sir R. Peel. After four nights' debate it was carried by 322 against 289. A second resolution expressive of the same principle was carried, after another long debate, by a majority of twenty-five; and finally, on the following day, a third resolution was moved by Lord John, declaring that “no measure on the subject of tithes in Ireland can lead to a satisfactory and final adjustment, which does not embody the principle contained in the foregoing resolutions." This was adopted by 285 to 258. On the following day Sir Robert Peel resigned; and Lord Melbourne, after an interval of just six months, was restored to power. Lord John Russell became Home Secretary,
and Leader of the House of Commons; Lord Palmerston resumed his place as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Marquis of Lansdowne that of Lord President; Mr. Spring Rice was made Chancellor of the Exchequer; Lord Mulgrave went to Ireland as Viceroy, with Lord Morpeth as Chief Secretary.
The combination by which this rapid and complete reversal of the retrograde policy of the Court had been effected, naturally became the most prominent topic of party discussion. Various steps had been taken during the brief term of Lord Melbourne's administration towards the conciliation of both the English and the Irish Radical party, without whose aid it had become impossible for the Whigs, after the secession of Lord Stanley and his friends, to claim a majority in the Commons. In the Lords they were still weaker; and their summary dismissal from office, almost without an intelligible pretext, had proclaimed to the world their loss of influence with the Court. Without a fusion, therefore, cordial and complete, between the different sections of the Liberal party, it was plain that no effective resistance could be made to the re-establishment in power of those who had hitherto resisted to the last every measure of political reform, and whose policy abroad was avowedly one of
sympathy in the maintenance of absolutism. The most conservative of the Whigs were convinced by the results of the general election, that without such concessions as would justify the support of the Radical party in Parliament, they could not hope to regain the position in the country which they had lost. While democratic sentiments had gained fresh influence, and found additional representatives in the new House of Commons, those of a more aristocratic tendency had lost ground. In Hampshire, Lan . cashire, and several other counties, Conservatives had taken the place of Whigs,* while in many of the commercial towns they were ousted by candidates who gave pledges in favour of the Ballot,t and the recognition of entire equality of creeds in the
of the law. The former of these it was agreed should henceforth be treated as an open question; and as a practical step towards the latter, the principle of the well-known appropriation clause in the Irish Tithe Bill was adopted. These, together with an understanding that the benefits of Municipal Reform should be extended to all parts of the United King
* Speech of Sir W. Molesworth on the Ballot, 2nd June, 1838.
† In favour of Mr. Grote’s motion there appeared 146 members (or nearly one-half of the whole liberal party) on the 2nd June,
dom, formed the basis of that alliance which, under the nickname of the “Lichfield-house compact," furnished an inexhaustible theme of party taunt and reproach during several ensuing years. The sobriquet was formed by the ingenious perversion of a phrase made use of by Mr. Sheil, on one of the occasions when the principal members of the sections before alluded to assembled for the purposes of conference at the house of Lord Lichfield, in St. James'ssquare. In congratulating those present upon the prospect of united action, arising from united coun-sels, he expressed his hope that no personal jealousies or minor differences would be permitted to mar their compact and cordial alliance. The expression was repeated by him in public not long afterwards, as it had originally been used; but was mis-reported so as to turn the inoffensive adjective into a substantive of sinister implication. No subsequent disclaimers or corrections could efface its recollection from the public mind.
“A Compact” was never spoken of by Mr. Sheil, as in point of fact it never had any existence. Three parties in the State agreed to act together, for common objects, without relinquishing their peculiar views; but personal or unworthy stipulations of
kind there were none, nor was any
engagement secretly entered into at variance with the avowed objects which, in common, all who were concerned assented generally to promote and to sustain.*
Mr. Sheil had actively contributed towards the furtherance of this combination, and the division lists proved that without the Irish popular party it must have been wholly ineffectual. Yet he neither received nor asked for any favour or distinction; and though zealously supporting the new administration during that and the following sessions, he was fully aware that during the lifetime of William IV. office was never likely to be offered to him. The old feeling of resentment on account of the Duke of York continued after an interval of ten years, to animate the feelings of the Sovereign; and a Minister, whom he had reluctantly been compelled to accept, gladly post
* “The noble lord (Alvanley) has asked whether I have taken any means to secure the assistance of Mr. O'Connell, and if so, upon what terms? I do not know whether I shall have that assistance or not; but I can state most distinctly that I have entered into no terms whatever, nor said anything from which any inference could be drawn, in order to secure that individual's support. If the noble lord has been told anything to the contrary, he has been told that which is false and without foundation.”—Speech of Lord Melbourne in the House of Lords, 18th April, 1835.