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any danger, why was the country left without protection? If there was none, why were these practices held out as working ill? What other dangers might await the question at the eleventh hour, he had yet to learn. A singular fate always attended this question. They who advocated it, put to its opponents these questions- Will you do what we propose? Will you do nothing? Will you do something?-and-What will you do? Why do you dislike what we propose? The only answer to these was-We wont do what you propose: the others were left unanswered: and from 1813 to the present time he had not been able to learn what dangers they apprehended. The Commander-in-chief and the admiral of the fleet might be Catholics. No securities were asked to guard the truncheon by sea and by land, while the most operose precautions were adopted for opening a letter, the object of which was to enable a man to eat meat on a fast-day. By the act of 1793, a Catholic might be called to the bar-the House knew with what distinction, in some instances --but he could not wear a silk gown. An officer might rise to be a general, and no securities were demanded of him. He agreed that nothing had been positively said by Mr. Pitt at the period of the Union but of Mr. Pitt's firm intention to carry the Catholic question he was willing to depose before any tribunal, with perfect confidence that he was deposing the truth. He had no knowledge, nor had heard any other person on the point, who had any knowledge, say, that Mr. Pitt had any otherwise altered his opinion, than that he was resolved not to stir the question during the life of the late

king. But, although no positive promise had been given to the Catholics at the time of the Union, they undoubtedly lent their aid to that measure on the understanding that greater facilities would thereby be afforded for their emancipation. Now when two thirds of the population of Ireland were in its favour, the Union was the bar to its being carried. He admitted that the understanding alluded to was neither a compact nor a treaty; but it ought to have some weight in the scale of the judgment of the House.

He could not get rid of the impression that the distaste to the question in this country was stronger now than it had been before. This he avowed was his opinion, but he was convinced that to the effect of repeated discussions these impressions must gradually give way; for that which right reason, justice, and humanity demanded aloud, could not long fail to find an echo in the bosoms of Englishmen. The motion before the House was simply, that the state of Ireland, and the Catholics of Ireland, was such as to demand consideration: to this no opposition but a negative one was offered, the effect of which was, that the House did not consider the Catholics of Ireland as worthy That objects of their concern. was the issue on which they were now going to their verdict. The motion went no further than parliament had before gone, and the House might reserve to itself the time and the manner in which it would act. If, on the other hand, this motion should be negatived, it would be an admission, that the state of Ireland was unworthy of consideration; and he would rather imagine than express the conse

quences which he feared might


On the suggestion of sir Charles Forbes, the word "expediency" was substituted for "necessity:" and the House having divided, the motion was lost by a majority of four, the numbers being, for the motion 272, against it, 276-the division proving, notwithstanding Mr. Canning's disbelief of the fact, that the cause of the Catholics had lost by the general election, and justifying his opinion that the question of their claims was regarded in Britain with increased distaste.

In consequence of the issue of the debate, the order of the day in the House of Lords, for taking the Catholic petition into consideration on the 15th, was discharged on the 8th, on the motion of the marquis of Lansdowne. "He feared," he said, "to add, in the present state of feeling in Ireland, to the disastrous conviction in the minds of the Catholics, that a majority of both Houses of Parliament was determined to reject the consideration of their claims."

This "feeling" in Ireland did not lead to language in any degree more menacing or vindictive than that which, for months, had preceded the discussion. A general meeting of the Catholics of Dublin, after expressing "the regret, and awful forebodings," with which they viewed the vote of the House of Commons, and describing it as a vote which rejected even all consideration of the prayers "of seven millions of oppressed, injured, and highly discontented, subjects," exhorted the people to refrain from giving way to exasperated feelings, to cultivate "peace, perseverance, and Chris

tian piety," and calmly await the course of events, in the hope that Britain would repent and relax "before the Catholics were driven to the very verge of despair." With much less good sense and moderation a non-intercourse resolution was talked of, in virtue of which all adherents of the Catholic party were to give up the use of articles of British manufacture, and all dealings with Britons themselves; and it was ostentatiously held out that with a resolution of the same kind "the American Revolution had commenced." To deprive Ireland of a market for her grain, her linen, and her provisions, was an idea worthy of those who proclaimed themselves to be the only men either anxious or active to promote her prosperity. Other public organs of the party proclaimed, that the time for debate and discussion was passed, and threw off the thin veil which had hitherto disguised, but not concealed, their designs against the established church. Against that church as a temporality," said they, "must the whole energies of the Catholics be directed. The church has sworn eternal enmity against the Catholics, and the Catholics must put a vow in Heaven against the church." It was further seriously proposed, that petitions should immediately be presented, praying for a repeal of the Union. This mad idea, or something very like it, founded apparently on what had been so much pressed in the debate, viz., that the Irish Catholics had been induced to accede to the Union by the prospect of emancipation, seemed even to have found favour in the House of Commons; for, within a few days after the decision of the question, Mr. M.

Fitzgerald gave notice of a motion which would go to recommend the adoption of measures to carry into effect" the policy of the Union." Mr. Spring Rice, likewise, gave notice of a motion, for an inquiry into the character of the government of Ireland. These motions would necessarily have re-produced the whole discussion, cherishing

and exasperating all unkindly feelings; but events soon took place which led to their withdrawal, by convincing the Catholic parlia mentary leaders that temporary repose had become the only course likely to conduct them to their object, and was indispensable to the success of their own personal ambition.


The Corn Laws-Resolutions introduced by Mr. Canning-Motion for the House going into a Committee opposed by the AgriculturistsViews of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Peel-Mr. Bankes's Amendment to raise the medium Price lost-Mr. Whitmore's Amendment to lower the medium Price lost-Ministers agree to raise the medium Price of Barley and Oats-Attempts to raise the medium Price of Rye, Pease, and Beans-Attempts to increase the Duty on Oatmeal and Flour-Scheme of Mr. Hume in opposition to the Reso lutions-Bill founded on the Resolutions brought in-Amendments proposed-Debate and Division on the second Reading-Bill passes the House of Commons.

QUAL, if not superior, to the attention excited by this great constitutional question, was the anxiety with which parliament and the public awaited that permanent system of regulations for the Corn Trade, which ministers had pledged themselves to propose during the present session. It had been originally intended to introduce the subject simultaneously into both Houses; and, accordingly, at the opening of the session, lord Liverpool gave notice, that he would bring forward the intended measure in the Peers on the 19th of February; but, in consequence of the state of Mr. Canning's health, who was to take charge of it in the House of Commons, it was delayed for a week; and, in the meantime, lord Liverpool himself was attacked by that illness which removed him from political life. The consequence of this was, that the propositions were brought forward only in the lower House, and it was not till the 1st of March that the health of Mr. Canning was so far re-established as to en

able him to perform that duty-a duty which, he said, had been imposed upon him (although there were many others better qualified to develop such a subject in all its variety of details), but because it was thought proper, when the propositions of government were brought forward in parliament, that they should be introduced in such a manner as to indicate most clearly that they were recommendations from authority, and not the act or speculation of any individual, however high in rank and character.

In introducing the subject on the 1st of March, Mr. Canning expressed his surprise, that so much of hostile feeling should have been allowed to enter into the consideration of a question where none ought to have been found, and that this asperity should arise where there was no necessity to fly to extremes, and where the difficulties were, in point of fact, less than they were stated in argument. Every body admitted the necessity of protecting the agricultural interests, and the only ques

tion was, the mode and degree in which that protection should be administered. That protection was due to domestic agriculture, could scarcely be denied; to what amount, and in what manner, were the points in question. Stern, inflexible, prohibition, as a measure of protection, could hardly be defended; for even those of the agriculturists who were most attached to it, uniformly made it a recommendation of their plan, that parliament, if it were sitting, and the executive government, if it were not, might always step in to furnish aid in case of necessity: to provide for such interference to remedy the consequences, or what might be the consequences, of prohibition was to acknowledge, that no system of absolute prohibition could be inflexibly maintained. Of late years, three different modes of protection, without prohibition, had been proposed. The first was that of Mr. Ricardo: it imposed on wheat a duty of 20s. per quarter, to be diminished by one shilling every year, till it should have reached a minimum of about 10s. The second proposed to begin with a duty of 16s., to be gradually lowered to 10s. By the third plan, which had been broached in a well-known periodical publication, a duty of 5s. or 6s. was to be imposed, once for all, without any reference to the price. All these three plans had been devised by persons who were generally favourable to a free trade in corn; but to all of them there lay the objection, that, when a pressure came, it would bring with it distress to the agriculturists. Those again, on the other side, who advocated total prohibition, modified by the occasional interference of parliament, or of the government, VOL, LXIX,

admitted the necessity of interference, and yet called upon the House not to make any provision for cases in which it would be required. They allowed that protection to the consumer might be necessary, but would adopt no measure that might afford that protection.


Leaving these extremes, the more difficult question was, what was the degree of protection which should be extended to domestic agriculture-did the laws, as they at present existed, afford sufficient protection, or did they afford it to an unnecessary extent ? With the exception of an act, passed in the reign of Edward III. and of which it was enough to say, that it not only prohibited the importation of foreign grain, but prohibited the corn grown in the neighbourhood of any one town in England from being carried into another town, it was the law of 1815 that introduced absolute prohibition, for the first time, into the legislation of this country regarding corn. the other hand, when the price arrived at 80s. importation was to be unlimited; so that the law attempted to unite two opposite extremes. In the year 1816, the harvest was one of the most unfavourable that had ever been known in this country. So early as the month of August in that year, corn had risen above the importation price, but, from the delay of making up the average returns, the ports were not opened until the month of November. Thus the ports remained shut during three starving months. The harvest of 1817 was nearly as bad as that of the preceding year; there was a whole winter of suffering, and the ports were opened again in February. The harvest [F]

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