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no; not to
ing the surplus to moral and reli-
ligion, the very first act which
while they pursued such a course,
the principle of appropriation. He believed that the cause of the vacillation which ministers had shown on this subject was, not that they preferred the system of July to that which they had advocated in February, but because they considered it more likely to conciliate the votes of those on whose support they relied, and who had avowed their enmity to the Irish church.
Lord Althorp defended himself against the charge of inconsistency in supporting the present measure after having sanctioned the bill of last session, by saying, he had expressly declared on that occasion that the bill then passed would not affect, in his mind, the question of the appropriation of church property. But this answer did not meet the charge of sir Robert Peel, which regarded only the proceeds of such property as that enactment had placed under the management of the ecclesiastical commissioners. That act bore that these proceeds should be applied to ecclesiastical purposes; while the present bill provided, that they should likewise be applied towards reimbursing the public treasury for money which it might advance in a present to Irish landlords. In answer to sir Robert Peel, lord John Russell contended that, considering the state of tithes in Ireland, and the public feeling regarding them, it would have been vain to think of collecting them, unless a pledge had been given as to their appropriation: but the very complaint against ministers was, that they had given no pledge-that they had studiously evaded any declaration of the objects which they intended to include in a new appropriation. His lordship admitted, VOL. LXXVI.
that the other measure, which had been introduced on the subject of tithes, aimed at their reduction and final extinction; but within what interval? Surely not within such an interval as the present circumstances required. By the plan proposed by the government, arrangements would be made enabling all persons possessing an estate of inheritance to relieve their lands from the burden of tithes before the end of the year 1836, and, for an advance of from between 30 to 40 per cent, they would be enabled to get rid of the odious and vexatious burden of tithes. If the proprietors did not come forward and ask the redemption of their tithes, no sacrifice would be made; and whenever payments were to be made out of the consolidated fund, they went to the proprietor of the land, and, in effect, were reimbursed. Thus would an odious tax, and a system of violence and blood, both be terminated at the same time. The plan of redemption was not altogether abandoned; on the contrary, government wished to see it carried into effect to a very considerable extent. should, in a word, sum up the principle upon which his majesty's government proceeded in the matter: it was, that they had not, and would not, affirm the application in perpetuity of all the revenues of the church to the purposes to which they were at the present moment applied. He was not one of those who desired to see the established church maintained in Ireland, in the vain hope that at some distant time the great body of the Catholic population could be brought to sounder views of Christianity. That most assuredly must be the belief and expectation
of those who pushed the extreme rights of the church to the length to which the right hon. baronet opposite had urged them. But as no expectation of that kind entered into his mind, he could not do otherwise than oppose such views. He could not, for the sake of remote, and, as he considered, visionary prospects, continue the warfare and blood which for so long a period had desolated Ireland. If the right hon. baronet were to hold the place, which he once did, in the councils of his sovereign, no man, who knew the circumstances of the two countries, could for a moment hesitate to say, that, at the end of two or three years, he would find himself under the necessity of coming down to that house, and abandoning a course which, for the time, consistency would compel him to adopt, but which would prove alike painful to England and intolerable to Ireland.
Mr. Littleton, in his reply, accepted, he said, in good part, the designation of a "thimble-player," coming, as it did, from one who, by his experiments on the Irish tithe laws, had undoubtedly earned the character of as great and skilful a performer of legerdemain as ever lived. He did not mean to use the words in any offensive sense; but it was impossible. to bear in mind the part taken by Mr. Stanley in 1831 and 1832, down to the period of his quitting the office of Irish secretary, without feeling that no individual had exhibited more ingenuity, played off a greater number of tricks, or more signally failed. He mentioned this, not as a reproach to his right hon. friend, whose measures in reference to the Irish church he had himself supported, but merely for the
purpose of observing, that animadversions on the part he had, perhaps he might say the misfortune, to take, came with a parti_ cularly bad grace from one who had himself experimented so largely and unsuccessfully upon Irish tithes. The member for the university of Dublin had solemnly predicted, that not a farthing of the sum which might be advanced from the consolidated fund would be recovered. The same member had predicted with equal solemnity, that the clergy would not pollute their fingers with a farthing of the money voted last year; yet, within a month of the expiration of the period for delivering in memorials, the castle-yard of Dublin was crowded with clerical gentlemen pressing forward to make their claims. He would tell the committee one short story, from which they might conjecture the state of things more generally. A clergyman, who was also a lay impropriator in the south of Ireland, was thus circumstanced. The tenants were indebted to him in the sum of 2,900l., and for seven weeks he had a large force of military and police engaged in attempting to collect the amount. After being employed a considerable part of the time in the attempt, they found it quite useless to proceed in the daytime, because, an alarm being invariably given on their approach, the cattle of the tithe defaulters disappeared, and there was no getting at them. It was then determined to attempt the seizures at night, but every Irish cottager had his dog, and the tramp of the horses was heard at a distance, an alarm was given, the people rose, and the cattle were driven into the houses, where it was not possible for the law to
reach them. This individual wrote to the Irish secretary's office, requesting that a statement might be submitted to the lord-lieutenant, setting forth that, after all these unavailing efforts to recover tithe, in the course of eighty days, the average amount collected was but Sl. a-day. This gentleman declared his conviction that, unless the military were encamped over the entire district whence his income arose, there would be no possibility of starving the cattle out. He should not have noticed this matter thus publicly, if he did not feel it to be his duty to give hon. members a sample of what had frequently occurred in Ireland, in order to show the folly of persevering in the present system. The abandonment of the redemption clause, and of the investment in land, had been objected to. If the investment in land was abandoned, the redemption clause must also be given up, in the present state of the money-market. He thought that if an investment in land could be avoided, they were bound to avoid it. The majority of Irish landlords objected to it, and it was also objectionable on account of the political influence which it would confer on the church. He did not mean to say, however, that government would not have adopted the other course, if it had not discovered another resource for the tithe-owner in the shape of a rentcharge. The late colonial secretary had likewise inveighed strongly against the commission which had just been issued, describing it as a "miserable abortion;" but in a speech delivered by him in 1824, on a motion of the member for
Middlesex, he had thus expressed himself, after stating that the wealth of the Irish church had been grossly exaggerated:-" He could state, in conclusion, that many of the highest dignitaries of the church of Ireland were anxious that an investigation should take place, not partial in its bearings, and that the whole of their political and moral relations to the country should be brought under view. He hoped ere long that some such inquiry would take place, that some commission would go forth, to view, with their own eyes, impartially, and on the spot, the bearings of the church establishment on the condition of Ireland." Here was an accurate description of, and, as it seemed to him, a sufficient authority for, the appointment of the Irish church commission.
The division on Mr. Hume's amendment gave seventy-one in its favour, and 354 against it. The committee then divided on the original motion, when the resolution of ministers was carried by a majority of sixty-four, there being 235 for it; and 171 against it. At this stage, however, the progress of the bill was arrested for a time by circumstances to which it is now proper to advert, as they were calculated, by their moral and political effects on the composition of the government, and on the relations of parties, to exercise a strong influence on the spirit of all subsequent measures, and on the power or inclination of the ministers to resist dangerous demands, or adopt a decided and independent line of policy.
Bill for renewing the Irish Coercion Act introduced into the House of Lords-Private correspondence of Members of the Government with the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland-Bill read a second time-Attacks of Mr. O'Connell against ministers on account of the Bill-Secret communications made to him by Mr. Littleton regarding the opinions and intentions of the Government in relation to certain Provisions of the Bill restraining Public Meetings-The Cabinet determine that these clauses shall be retained.-Disclosures made in the House of Commons by Mr. Littleton and Mr. O'Connell- Mr. Littleton tenders his Resignation, which is refused-Debate on Motion to refer the Papers on the State of Ireland to a Select Committee-Mr. O'Connell gives notice of a Motion for production of the correspondence with the Lord-Lieutenant-The Chancellor of the Exchequer resigns-In consequence of his Resignation, Earl Grey resigns-Explanations by these Ministers as to the Causes of their Retirement-Viscount Melbourne made Prime Minister-Lord Althorp withdraws his resignation and continues in office as Chancellor of the Exchequer— Coercion Bill withdrawn in the House of Lords, and discussion thereon-Debate in the Lords on Motion for production of the LordLieutenant's letter.
N the preceding session it had been found necessary to pass what was termed the coercion bill, by which the government was armed with extraordinary powers to encounter, and, if possible, to put down, the insurrectionary violence and combination which covered Ireland with crime and confusion. The act was to expire in August of the present year, and ministers had determined to propose its renewal. According to the statement made in parliament by lord Grey, when he moved the first reading of this bill for that purpose (July 1st), it had been found both necessary and effective. Four districts had been proclaimed-the city and county of
Kilkenny; five baronies of the King's County; four baronies of the county of Westmeath; and the baronies of Longford and Leitrim in the county of Galway. The first two districts had been proclaimed on the 14th of April, and the immediate effect was a great diminution in the number of offences. The number of offences in Kilkenny county between April 1832 and 1833 had been 590; between April 1833 and April 1834, only 331. In the four baronies of King's County, the number of crimes reported during the month of March 1834, had amounted in all to seventy-three; of which twenty-three were attacks upon houses, fourteen were illegal meet