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liament in the latter country. He had become intimately acquainted with those imperial instincts which animate all sections of the governing class in England, and in which are mingled traditional pride, the love of power, and something perhaps more difficult to describe or designate than either; but the similitude of which, history reveals in the governments of many of the greatest states of the world, and which, for want of a better name, may be termed the self-persuasion of a destiny to impose the law of their own civilization upon weaker races and communities. All this he felt and knew, and knowing likewise the inherent weakness of every combination, such as that contemplated by O'Connell—a combination which he foresaw would be mainly and distinctively sectarian, no matter what the desires or designs of its author might be and which, as such, was certain to have arrayed against it the whole people of England—he earnestly and honestly deprecated the course about to be pursued by his former colleague in agitation, as one that could only end in disappointment and in failure. * Repeal,” he exclaimed, "there's no such thing as Repeal. Repeal—if by that you mean a peaceful dissolution of the Union-Repeal must be carried in the House of Commons; and how is that to be done?
The House of Commons would die before it conceded such a measure.”
During his sojourn in Ireland in the autumn, these convictions were, if possible, strengthened by all he witnessed there. To an official friend* he expressed his regret that " instead of thinking of the Registry, the people of Tipperary were talking of Repeal. O'Connell was doing incalculable mischief which he would discover when it was too late."
The great struggle of the Session of 1840 was that upon Lord Stanley's Irish Registration Bill. The second reading having been carried before Easter by a majority of sixteen, the House stood pledged to some change in the mode of registering electors in Ireland : but it was contended on the liberal side that if the noble lord's proposition were adopted, the franchise, already too limited, would be reduced almost to a name, and that under the semblance of remedying abuses of detail, wholesale abrogation of popular privileges was contemplated and aimed at. · It was shown, notwithstanding the allegations of multitudinous frauds in the admission of claims, that the county of Cork, with a population of 700,000, did not contain 4000 electors; that Tipperary, with a
* 15th September, 1840.
population of 400,000, did not possess a constituency of 2500; and that in other counties corresponding numbers prevailed. Still further to diminish such constituencies would obviously effect a great and immediate transfer of power from one party to another; but in doing so it must inevitably resuscitate universal and bitter discontent; and, in the words of Lord John Russell, “ do more to revive the cry for Repeal than anything Mr. O'Connell had been able to effect by his speeches on the subject.”*
But expostulation passed unheeded. The possibility of resuscitating agitation in Ireland was treated with derision. Five years of a Whig administration, supported by O'Connell, had quenched it was said the very embers of excitement, or if any still smouldered here and there, they might easily be trodden out by a strong government. Only let that great good be obtained, and no more would be heard of Repeal or Repealers. A few professing liberals were caught by the specious tone of a desire to purify the electoral lists, that was used in advocating the Bill. To this Mr. Sheil alluded in the debate of the 11th June, in which he forewarned the coming Premier of the dif
* Debate on going into Committee, 18th May, 1810.
ficulties that were preparing for him whenever he should again take office, by “his noble and formidable friend.”
"It is most unnatural and most inconsistent that any man calling himself a Reformer should co-operate in such an enterprise, and should become the auxiliary of a man who, upon every Irish question, is utterly destitute of the slightest claim upon the confidence of Parliament, who was told by Lord Althorp to his face, in the face of the House and of the country, that his administration of Ireland had been a lamentable failure—who has since that time, by the extent of his political transitions, acquired a new title to the disrelish of one country, and to the distrust of both—who deals for ever in extremes—was ready to swamp the Lords when he was a Whig, and is ready to swamp the people when he has turned a Tory—lauded the Irish members to the skies in 1832, when it suited his purpose, and would now slap the door of the House of Commons in their faces; and of all the traits in the political character of the noble lord, of all the incidents of his political conduct, the most to be lamented -who after having denounced ‘an expiring faction, and held them up to public scorn, now leagues himself with that bad Irish party which he represented as miserable, and which is not the less deserving of the designation which he thought it not unmeet to employ in their regard, because he has combined with them for the achievement of their pernicious projects, and has so far forgotten the principles which ought to have descended to him as an inheritance as to prostitute his talents for the attainment of purposes to which every beating of his heart must at this moment tell him that they ought never to have been applied ; and is this the man -is it to such a man that the delicate and difficult and almost perilous task of legislating for Ireland ought to be confided-is this the man to whom we are to surrender the franchises of the country, upon which he inflicted calamities so
fearful, and which was driven almost to insurrection by his misrule ? See what in the course of a few weeks he has accomplished. The country was at rest-political excitement had subsided—that wise policy to which last year this House bore an attestation so signal had produced the most salutary fruits. No public meetings were held, the tithe question had been adjusted, and the very name of a measure to Englishmen of all others the most obnoxious, was scarcely uttered. A general calm prevailed. Suddenly the noble lord bursts like a hurricane upon us. The elements of confusion are at once let loose, and the country is swept back into that tempestuous agitation from which we deemed ourselves secure. Stop while there is yet time-stop the noble lord in his career of mischief or the consequences may be irretrievable. You may gain a temporary triumph; you may rob us of the fruits of that Emancipation which itinerant incendiaries invite you openly and directly to rescind; but your victories will be dearly purchased. Of Ireland-of organized, confederated, discontented Ireland—beware; beware of that country which you ought to have been instructed by experience, fearful if not humiliating, not to hold in disregard. Twelve months have scarcely passed since the member for Tamworth declared that Ireland presented to him his greatest difficulty. Will that difficulty be diminished by the sinister co-operation of his noble and exceedingly formidable friend ? Persevere in that policy by which this measure has been prompted, and Ireland will soon be in a condition more fearful than that which preceded Emancipation. You will enter again into an encounter with that gigantic agitation by which you were before discomfited, and by which (for its power is trebled) you will be again overthrown; for all the consequences that will ensue from the excitement which you will have wantonly engendered you will be responsible : you will be responsible for the calamities which will gush in abundance so disastrous, from the sources of bitterness which you will have unsealed. If Ireland shall be arrested in the march of improvement in which she has been under a Whig Government