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cillors, to work upon the vacillating and resentful temper of the King; and on the 28th February the Chancellor was informed by his Majesty that he felt disposed to withdraw his sanction from further proceeding with the measure. The Premier was at Strathfieldsaye, where, as was his custom, he entertained the judges of assize previous to the opening of the commission for the county. A numerous party had been assembled on the occasion; and after his guests had retired, the Duke, as was his wont, withdrew to his study, where he remained occupied with his varied correspondence until an advanced hour in the morning. Before day break his solitude was disturbed by an unlookedfor visitor. Lord Lyndhurst presented himself, and communicated the extraordinary piece of information, that the sanction of the King had been withdrawn. There was no need of lengthened conference. The resolution of the Duke was speedily taken, and accompanied by the Chancellor, he set out at once for Brighton. His resignation was offered, and the reason specifically assigned. An interval of hesitation followed; but when called upon to form a Cabinet of resistance, the veteran advisers of the monarch shrunk from the desperate attempt as vain. George the Fourth was obliged to yield, and when the Home
Secretary, three days afterwards, rose to move for a Committee of the whole House on the Catholic claims, he emphatically stated that he did so on the part of a united Cabinet, and with the full sanction of the Crown. The measure was passed in the Commons on the 31st March, by a majority of 178; and in the Lords the second reading was carried on the 4th April, by a majority of 104. On the 13th it received the royal assent. “After all I had heard in my visits, not a day's delay!" writes Lord Eldon in bitterness of soul.
On receipt of the intelligence in Dublin, a public meeting was convened to consider the best means of preventing any undue display of popular exultation. The meeting was held at the Corn Exchange rooms, so long the central scene of agitation, Sir Thomas Esmonde, Mr. Arthur Guiness, and Mr. Sheil taking part in its proceedings. At their instance, resolutions were passed declaring that they regarded “not as a triumph over any class of their fellow-subjects, but as a measure of strict justice and of sound policy, the removal of the badge of inferiority from the Catholics without encroaching on the rights and privileges of the Protestants ;” and “that while those opinions had long been familiar to the minds of the Roman
Catholics of Ireland, and their numerous highly-gifted and distinguished supporters of every other religious persuasion, they could not forget that there was a portion of their fellow-countrymen whose sentiments were of an opposite character. They would therefore strongly recommend to their fellow-citizens to abstain from any demonstrations of triumph, such as bonfires, illuminations, &c., which might compromise the public peace, or give offence to men whose opinions, however erroneous, were in some instances the result of honest convictions." These injunctions were scrupulously obeyed, and the first-fruits of Emancipation were thus manifested in conduct eminently marked by tolerance and forbearance. "A greater calm has already been produced in Ireland,” said Sir Robert Peel, “than I ever knew to exist there. There is no spirit of vulgar triumph displayed on the part of the Roman Catholics."*
The bill for abolishing the forty-shilling freehold franchise encountered little opposition. It was assented to by Mr. Brougham as “the price—the almost extravagant price,” he said, “ of the inestimable good which would result from the Relief Bill.” Sir J. Mackintosh found it “a tough morsel, difficult
* Speech, 17th March.
to swallow;" and it was opposed as unjust and unnecessary by Lord Palmerston, Mr. Huskisson, and Lord Duncannon. On a division, however, the minority numbered but seventeen.
In a letter written from circuit,* while the Relief Bill was passing through Parliament, Mr. Sheil notices the lively sense of satisfaction wherewith the certainty of its success was everywhere regarded. In Wexford, a feeling of deep gratitude for concession unattended with any displeasure at the Disfranchisement Bill appeared to prevail. In Waterford, an attempt was made by Mr. D. Ronayne to get up a public meeting against the Disfranchisement Bill ; but the recollections of the contest of 1826, and of its consequences, were still too fresh in men's minds, and the attempt failed. The great majority of proprietors rejoiced at the change, and the body of the people themselves exhibited no sort of discontent. Through the rest of the country, the conviction was spreading that nothing should be done that could by any possibility counteract the Duke, or throw an obstacle in his way. To another friend he observed, “ that in Tipperary there seemed little disposition at this time to find fault with the restrictive conditions
* To W. H. Curran, 11th March, 1829.
of the measure. An idea prevailed that the raising of the electoral qualification would tend to diminish the violence of party contests, inasmuch as it would greatly lessen the number of those legally entitled to take part in them. Several of the gentry affected to attribute the peculiar atrocities which characterized that county to numerous contested elections which infected the magistracy with a spirit of partisanship, and thus rendered justice in its inferior, but perhaps most important, departments corrupt. “The rivulets that fed the larger streams were all poisoned.” How short-sighted or insincere were these views, a very little time sufficed to show. Party conflicts are not bereft of their tendencies to generate exasperation and ill-will, by the limitation of the suffrage to a number too small to express fairly the opinions of the community, and yet too large to be silently bribed or openly bullied by a few individuals. The statutable exclusion of thousands of poor men from the exercise of the right they had hitherto possessed, avowedly because they had voted in accordance with their own feelings, naturally led to the exertion of their influence and interference in another and less constitutional manner. Popular candidates soon learned to appreciate the value of the sympathies of the non-electors; and