Page images
[ocr errors]

and Sir FRANCIS BURDETT. The former in his reply to Lord Grey, at the outset, declared-" He could not but express the mosť "entire satisfaction at the sentiments expressed by his lordship on “one question which had of late much agitated the public mind-"that concerning the privileges of parliament. He admitted the "full force of his opinion on that subject, most perfectly agreeing "with him, that it was necessary for the good of the public that "parliament should be in possession of the privileges to which they "laid claim... he perfectly agreed with the noble lord as to their " right to those privileges."-Let us now turn to the evidence of Sir F. BURDETT. In his answer to "The Resolutions and Address of "the Livery of London," he observes as follows:-" Gentlemen, "the advantages our country will derive from the transactions which "have recently taken place, I flatter myself, will be great. "should they only produce the able and constitutional argument "delivered by the late lord-chancellor of England, Erskine, in the "house of Lords, on Monday last, 1 should say they had been "great; THERE breathes the spirit of our forefathers; it brings "back to our recollection better times, and better lawyers, and "coming from such high legal authority, and sanctioned by the still "higher authority of reason, the foundation of all law, cannot fail " of making a deep impression on the public mind, and of power"fully aiding those great constitutional principles, of which Lord "Erskine seems to be almost the last legal deposit, upon which "every man's safety depends, and for mamtaining which, by every "means of legal resistance, against the violent attacks of arbitrary "power, I have had the good fortune to meet with your approba"tion."

We now leave the Editor of the Chronicle to take his choice of the opinions of Lord Grey or Lord Erskine, on the important subject of the "essential rights and privileges of parliament." It must be evident to every one who is not under the most extraordinary bias of party, that their sentiments are totally opposite, and that whilst those of the former are cordially approved of by Lord Liverpool, those of the latter are as cordially approved of by Sir F. Burdett. Although the Editor of the Chronicle has expressed his "hearty "concurrence in every sentiment of the address moved by Earl “Grey,” we are glad to find that there was not this "hearty con"currence" either on the part of Lord Erskine, and some other noble lords who are in the habit of voting with the opposition. Lord Erskine very properly reminded the mover of the address" of the "constitutional principles on which they had both started, . . . and remarked, that although there was much in the address which had


* See our present number, p. 52.

[ocr errors]

his approbation, he 'could not but agree with a noble lord (Stan-
hope) who had complained of the indefiniteness of some of the
"expressions... With respect to the general class of men looking
"for reform, he vindicated the honesty of their motives... he
"did not believe there was one man among them an enemy to the
“constitution: he believed their general object to be the better secu-
"rity of that constitution: if their lordships would but consider how
many great and ardent spirits had bled in the cause of that consti-
"tution in the time of their ancestors, they would be the more in-
clined to excuse the vehemence of that zeal in which there was so

❝ much virtue." From this language it is evident that Lord Erskine.

was very far from "concurring in every sentiment of the address:"

other noble lords who rank in the opposition, the Duke of NOR-

FOLK, the Marquis of DOUGLAS, and Earl STANHOPE, united in

opinion with Lord Erskine, and acted accordingly. With his lord-

ship they left the house, leaving the paltry address to meet its de-

served fate, and the mover of it to his own reflections, which could

not, we imagine, on such an occasion, be very pleasant or satisfac-


The Catholic Claims.-The grand farce founded on the catholic

petitions has been played off in both houses, and has terminated

precisely as we predicted. From comparing the divisions when the

subject was before agitated, in the year 1808, with the last, it is

evident, that the catholic cause has lost ground, an event indeed

naturally to be expected from the manner in which it had been

treated by the professed friends and leaders in the business, Lords

GRENVILLE and GREY, and Mr. GRATTAN. In the house of

Lords, June 6, 1808, on a division on Lord Grenville's motion,

for referring the catholic petitions to a committee of the whole

house, the numbers were-Contents, 74-Non-contents, 116-

Majority against the motion, 42-On a division on a similar

motion made by Lord Donoughmore, June 6, 1810, the numbers

were-Contents, 68--Non contents, 154-Majority against the

motion, 86. In the house of Commons, May 25, 1808, on a

division on Mr. Grattan's motion for referring the petitions to a

committee of the whole house, the numbers were-For the motion,

128-Against-it, 281-Majority, 153. In the Commons, June 2,

1810, after three days debate on a similar motion made by Mr.

Grattan, the numbers were,--For the motion, 109-Against it, 213

-Majority, 104. From the increased majority against taking into

consideration the catholic petitions, in the house of Lords, it is

plain, that the minister had he deemed it of consequence could

have increased his majority in the house of Commons; but it

appears to have been to him a matter of comparative indifference,

and the manager of the house, not exerting himself as on the

[ocr errors]

former occasion, there were nearly one hundred of his majority who were present on the previous division, who absented themselves on the last. On a subject involving in it not only the prosperity, the safety, but the probable existence of Ireland as a part of the British empire, not one half of the honourable house of Commons were present!

The claims of the catholics have been so frequently discussed, that little novelty in debate can be expected. Their justice has been acknowledged in a greater or less degree by all parties: and it is pretty evident, that notwithstanding the ridiculous and hypocritical pretences so fashionable in the speeches of those courtiers and statesmen who adopt the word, the nod, or the wink of their superiors as a rule of action,-notwithstanding all the stupid jargon about danger to church and state, it is evident that were it not for the objections still unhappily prevailing in a certain quarter, the desired object would be speedily accomplished, and Ireland would enjoy the same state of religious liberty as is now enjoyed by almost every nation on the continent.

Lord Grenville, the champion of the catholics on former occasions, was, owing to indisposition absent from the late discussion. His indisposition indeed was of short duration, and fortunately, neither prevented, nor enervated him from undergoing the bustle, and parade, and enjoying the amusements, the gaieties, the festivities, and the luxuries, accompanying his installation as Chancellor of the University of Oxford, an important ecclesiastical office, one of the "venerable establishments of our holy religion." The absence of Lord Grenville from the above debate, seems to have been the subject of regret both to the Lord Chancellor and to Lord Grey; we however cannot but deem the circumstance rather fortunate for his lordship's reputation; for if we may judge from the speech of his representative, the two noble friends would have been equally lost in a labyrinth from which they would not without some difficulty have been able to extricate themselves. Lord Grey has indead with considerable ability repeated those general arguments in favour of the claims in question, which never have been and never can be satisfactorily answered; but so long as his lordship professes his entire approbation of "every sentiment, every expression, and "every word in Lord Grenville's letter to Lord Fingal,” a letter which has proved most injurious to the catholic cause, it matters not how many speeches he makes, or how forcible, or eloquent his, reasonings may be on the subject. When Lord Grenville publicly acknowledged he had endeavoured to dissuade the catholics from. again presenting their petitions,when he assured them their case was for some time at least hopeless, and so positively declined,

[blocks in formation]

should their petitions be brought forward, moving any proposition for taking them into consideration;--and when Lord Grey had expressed his warm approbation of "every word" uttered by his noble friend on the subject, it must excite surprise to find him so strenuously supporting the motion, were it not recollected that inconsistency seems, with his lordship, to be "the order of the day."

The motion in the house of Commons was introduced by Mr. GRATTAN, who supported it with his usual eloquence; but the effect was considerably weakened by the language of the honourable gentleman respecting the veto, about which he and his friends have so sadly blundered. "His own opinion" he informed the house; "was in favour of the veto; but it did not appear to him that "there was any probability of inducing the catholics to accede to "this arrangement;" that is, there is no probability that the catholics will accede, to what Mr. Grattan thinks they ought to accede! It is astonishing to find men of sense thus yielding a good cause into the hands of its opponents. Mr. Perceval, who with his party have consistently resisted the catholic claims in toto, might well triumph on this occasion; and we think he had some reason for asserting that there was not any great difference in opinion between the noble lord (Grenville) and his friends who had professedly advocated the catholic claims, and himself (Mr. P.) and his friends who had resisted them: each party agreed that it would be unsafe to grant the claims without proper restrictions, and the only difference between them was respecting the precise nature of those restrictions. But we beg leave to remark, that as long as this pretence shall continue to weigh with the two houses, it will be impossible that the just claims of the catholics should ever be restored. It is in a committee, and in a committee only, that the subject can be properly discussed; there let gentlemen propose their restrictions; but when they in an indefinite manner demand restrictions, and the assent of the petitioners to such restrictions as a condition of even taking their claims into consideration, we must be excused for deeming such a pretence equivalent to a positive declaration, that it is their determination the claims of the petitioners shall never be granted,—at least, so long, as they are in possession of place or power.

The speech of General MATHEW is replete with sound reasoning enforced by the relation of such facts as one might have thought would have made the ears of every one who heard them to tingle! As a consistent friend to the just claims of his countrymen, he declared, -"He could not agree in coupling an intrinsic right grounded on "justice and policy, with any condition, such as the veto, which "the catholic body felt to be incompatible with the faith which they "professed, and the discipline to which they stedfastly adhere. He

❝ denied the truth of the grounds upon which a surrender of their "religious discipline was asked: the Irish catholics never had any "other intercourse with foreign powers or potentates, but the mere " acknowledgement of the spiritual power of the Pope only."We request the particular attention of our readers to the energetic, description of the horrible system pursued in Ireland, and which may be read as an awful cominent on that system of government which Lord Grey so concisely but justly described--" The six hun"dred years mismanagement of Ireland." Let those who are in the habit of execrating the injustice of France, and the enormities of the "Corsican tyrant and monster," now take a view nearer home; and if they are sincere in their language of detestation, they will at least equally execrate the still greater injustice, cruelty, and enormities committed by their own countrymen, some of which are recorded by the most credible historians, and others witnessed by the honourable General the relator, and which not only far exceed those of the French Emperor, but equal those committed by that justly detested monster ROBESPIERRE, whose bloody sway brought so much disgrace upon, what we will ever term, the glorious French Revolution! If all sense of honour and justice as it respects Ireland is not obliterated in the hearts of our senators, they will be anxious to make some atonement to that most injured country, by restoring her inhabitants to those rights which reason, equity, and policy have with united voice long demanded.

The Toleration Act.-Lord SIDMOUTH has very prudently suffered the session to close without bringing forward his often threatened motion respecting the amendment of the Toleration act. Indeed his lordship never speaks upon the subject, without displaying some consciousness of the odium which may attach to his proposed measure, and his extreme anxiety to avoid being suspected as the friend of intolerance. When he last introduced the subject he expressed his wish " to be distinctly understood, that he "meant nothing hostile to the dissenters; that he considered the "TOLERATION ACT AS THE PALLADIUM OF RELIGIOUS LI"BERTY, and had not the slightest intention of proposing any in "fringement of it." An admirable acknowledgement, but not per. fectly consistent with what followed. Lord STANHOPE wishing the noble lord to state his intentions, Lord SIDMOUTH stated his object to be" That no person should be entitled to a certificate as "a preacher and teacher unless he was appointed to a congregation, " and had certificates from some members of the same religious persuasion of his fitness for the station, and had attained to years "of discretion." This object justly appeared to Lord HOLLAND an infringement of the. Toleration act, and he declared, "he was "not aware of any abuses which could induce him to consent to

« PreviousContinue »