Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

tered. There Alderman Archer was obliged to pay the costs and damages.

The learned gentleman (Mr. Ellis) said, that if the tolls were illegal he would oppose them. He (Mr. O'Connell) should like to see him oppose the Corporation. (Great laughter.) He was of no party! Oh, not he! (Continued laughter.) He was your representative, forsooth! (Laughter.)

See how the Corporation conduct this affair. First, they say they have a right to tolls, and modestly ask leave to increase them. Then they say they have not a right to tolls, and require to be relieved from the £2000 a-year demanded by the Paving Board. He admitted that that claim of £2000 a-year by the Paving Board was a grievance, and as a freeholder, he was ready to join in a petition against it. What a country would not Ireland be, if they, corporators and citizens, Protestants and Catholics, would but join, would but unite, one and all, for the redress of their common grievances !

The people were as anxious as the corporators could be for British connexion—for one king—one constitution—that constitution which existed in such safety and vigour before, when Ireland had her own parliament. Had she that parliament now, there never would have been occasion for the species of charitysermon which Mr. Ellis had preached upon the poverty of the country. (Cheers.)

"After some further opposition, the Lord Mayor advised that Mr. Aravin's resolution should be let pass without a division.

“NICHOLAS MAHON moved a resolution, deprecating in strong terms the conduct of the corporation in making their pretended claims to tolls and customis.

“ALDERMAN HARTy strongly opposed it, referring to the prosperity of Dublin when tolls were levied before the Union.

“Mr. O'CONNELL said that, as counsel for the corporation—(a laugh)— he would say that it was a hardship that £2,000 should be demanded of them for what they did not receive, and were not entitled to.

“ Alderman Harty said that the country was prosperous before the Union. Why, then they had upwards of two hundred resident noblemen in Dublin, besides six or seven and twenty bishops-(laughter)—wlio went regularly to the levees in coaches and six, and kept livery servants, who lived like gentlemen of fortune. Luxury then bore a high price.

[" The Lord Mayor here observed that the learned gentleman was wandering into extraneous matter.

Mr. O'Connell resumed-If Alderman Harty was allowed to argue in support of tolls on the ground of the state of Ireland before the Union, when there were two hundred and fifty resident nobility in the city, it was competent for him to show that the Union had taken away their resnurces.

It was said that the Irish parliament was corrupt; but there were eighty, and from that to ninety-six, constantly voting in the oppositions, and that was a greater number, in proportion, than in the British House of Commons.

The Corporation never called on the poverty of the people to pay tolls, because they paid them when they were rich and flourishing. They all recollected the numberless riots they occasioned. The police were often sent out to the toll-gates, and returned bleeding and crying to Allerman Archer. If the tolls were again brought forward, and an attempt was made to levy them, was it not very probable that some one would whisper to the boys—“When an attempt was made before to levy tolls, you beat the Corporation. They then gave them up. Why should you not beat them again.” (Cheers.)

“ALDERMAN ARCHER suggested an adjournment as the best means of conciliation.

'MR Kirwan ridiculed the proposition, and called the corporation the worst curse with which the city of Dublin was disgraced.'

“The Lord Mayor and Mr. J. B. FITZSIMONS defended the corporation.

“MR. MAHON's resolution was put, and carried, as were some other resolıtions, and the meeting broke up."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It will be seen that whatever might be the business of the hour--however engrossing the immediate objection which he was ongaged-Mr. O'Connell's mind constantly and tagerly reverted to the great business and object of his life--the Repeal of the Union. .

And evidencing it thus in public, his family and friends knew how unremittingly his thoughts were occupied in private with the prospect of Ireland's regeneration, and how well he was entitled to address her in the lines so frequently used by him in his speeches

“Still shalt thou be my midnight dream,
Thy glories still my waking theme !
And every thought and wish of mine,
Unconquered Erin, shall be thine !"

CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION, MAY 15, 1824.

Ar a meeting on the 15th of May, a letter was read from Mr. Plunkett, then AttorneyGeneral (and it can scarcely be necessary to repeat late Lord Plunkett, and an ex.chancellor of Ireland) in which he expressed his readiness to accept the Catholic petition, recently ten. dered to him and to present it without any delay. But, he added, that in his opinion, at that period of the session, there was no possibility of any measure passing, nor any hope of a discussion useful to the Catholics.

Mr. O'Connell's maxim, however, was, that the advocates of a cause, good in itself should be instant in season or out of season; and he argued that whatever might be the fato uf the individual motion, yet the display of energy and untiring perseverancc, could not fail to have an effect. And, accordingly, the very frequent similar representations of the parliamentary patrons of the Catholic cause, with which the working agitators at home were so frequently assailed, but rarely met with attention, or caused the onward progress of the movement to be for one moment checked.

The word in italics (viz., patrons) in the foregoing sentence, reqnires a few remarks here. It was observed that the great majority, if not all, of the parliamentary friends of the Catholics, assumed towards the latter a tone of condescension and generous protection and patronage, not a little galling to some of the proud spirits among them. To quarrel with this demeanor would have been to lose the assistance and advocacy of those gracious patrons. But Mr. O'Connell, and many with him, bore with no very great amount of patience and resignation, these assumptions of exalted superiority, and longed for cipation" from this petty degradation and annoyance, as heartily and earnestly as froin the greater and more important restrictions and injustices under which the Catholic body were suffering.

The answer given to Mr. Plunkett's patronizing letter by the Catholic Association, on motion of Mr. O'Connell, was :

eman

“That the committee be directed again to address the Right Honourable the Attorney-General, William Conyngham Plunkett, and thanking him very respectfully for his kindness in presenting our petition, to request of him in thc most pressing terms to procure a discussion on the Catholic question as speedily as possible.”

The rest of the sitting was occupied with speeches on the subject of certain then recent attacks upon the Catholic clergy of Ireland, by one body of persons who had designated themselves as the “London Hibernian School Society," and in their annual report, just published, had been guilty of the calumnies alluded to. Mr. O'Connell also took occasion to make an appeal to the Society of Friends, or to use their more familiar denomination, the Quakers. He remarked upon the inconsistency of their conduct at that time, when, ai he said:

* Asserting a most active love of freedom, they get up petitions to parliament for the relief of the West India slaves ; but show themselves utterly regardless of the most miserable condition of the wretched bondsmen of their own country."

The society in question have certainly, during the grievous years at present elapsed since the confirmed failure of the potato in Ireland, in the autumn of 1846, redeemed themselves nobly from all charge that they were regardless of the actual physical wretchedness of the Irish peasantry. Nothing, certainly, could have been more admirable in extent, efficiency and quality of the relief they have administered. They have not only given food to the starving, clothing to the naked, and medicine to the sick and failing; but they have attempted, and with success, considering the comparatively restricted scope of their means, the nobler charity of putting the destitute peasantry of the West in a position to maintain themselves by their own industry; no meed of praise can indeed be considered too high for their deserving on these accounts.

But, as has been remarked in an earlier volume, their liability, at least at the period (for the periods were more than one) when Mr. O'Connell felt himself called upon to make such remarks as that just mentioned, there is no doubt that the Irish portion of the Society of Friends were obnoxious to his charge. For what unhappy reason it-skills not here to inquire into and expose, the Quakers of Ireland sadly differed in their behaviour on political occasions from their brethren of the sister.country; and while those political reforms, the justice and necessity of which very few, indeed, of any party, are now to be found ready to contest, had no stauncher or truer advocates and eipporters than the Quakers of England generally, their Irish brethren were only too often sed too constantly found in close alianca and companionship with the opponents of all amelioration of political institutions, and the defenders of the worst abuses.

It is true that many of them were used to shelter themselves under the plea that "the ! were no politicians," when pressed hard to imitate the stout example and efforts of English Quakers. But that plea never deceives in Ireland, wliere, as Mr. O'Connell used to phrasc it, "the man that says he has no politics, generally contrives to act in accordance with the worst," and is never for a moment credited in the assertion by any party.

Mr. O'Connell, however, even when reluctantly censuring that body for what appeared to him, with his ardent love of Ireland, and ever active sympathies with the distresses and miseries of her people, a really criminal faineance, or still more criminal coalition with her oppressors and enemies, never refused to bear his tribute to the general worth of the Irish Quakers, or to the prompt and vigorous aid they gave in conjunction with the El.glish Society, to the cause of Negro emancipation. The parties whom he thus partly censured and partly praised, did not, perhaps, appear to attach much weight to his words in either case; but he not the less readily and heartily paid the tribute of approbation and respect on every occasion, and they were not few, when he conceived it to be justly owing to thein.

Upon the same day that the proceedings already noted took place, namely, the 15th 01 May, the letters of Lord Brougham and the late Lord Grey were read, acknowledging the receipt of the Catholic petition entrusted to them, but finding fault with some of the paragraphs that they contained. Lord Grey's words were :-

“I am bound in fairness to apprise you, that the other jects with which the prayer for Emancipation is connected, appear to have been unnecessarily introduced; and are calculated rather to injure than assist you; and I should feel it incumbent on me to declare they could not have my concurrence."

Lord Brougham, then of course Henry Brougham, in the lower house, thus wrote:

“I cannot agree with some of the opinions expressed in it, and must therefor: say, that I am not prepared to support parts of the prayer.........I am willing to present the petition generally,-signifying, that in some respects, I differ with the petitioners. I regret they have so far increased their demands.”

The terrible demands which so frightened Lords Brougham and Grey from their pro. priety, will be gathered from Mr. O'Connell's speech on this occasion,

Nothing can better depict the miserable condition of the Catholics than the circumstance of this remonstrance from their gracious patrons in Parliament against matters of plaik right and justice, plainly, and most rightly, and justly asked for in their petition.

Mr. O'Connell, who arrived during the reading of Mr. Brougham's last letter, proposed that Lord Grey and Mr. Brougham should be written to, stating that it was the wish of the Association that the petition should be presented in its present form, in order that the Catholics might obtain as much of the relief prayed for as possible.

The petition stated evils that are admitted to have existid, and although the mode of administering relief may be a fair subiect of difference, yet none of the opposition members deny the facts stated in the petition ; nor can the opponents of the Catholics disprove them, as unfortunately they are too manifest to every person acquainted with Treland. The

prayer

of the petition embraced four heads of grievance,"every one of which were

already publicly admitted in the country, and had engaged the attention of parliament.

The first prayer ras for a reformation in the temporalities of the Church Establishment of Ireland. It was admitted by somo of the warmest defenders of the Irish Church Establishment, that with the poorest population, and the smallest congregation, the Irish Protestant Church was the richest establishment in the world, and that it was infinitely greater than was necessary, it being three times as much as was allotted to the whole establishment of the Catholic and Protestant clergy in France, for the service of twenty-six millions of persons.

He believed that if the whole number of Protestants, in communion with the Established Church, were accurately counted, it would be found that the cost of their religious instruction and superintendence, was to Ireland not less, at any rate, than about twenty shillings per head

per annum. The petition did not pray any interference with the spiritual functions of the clergy, or the doctrines of their church ; but as the Catholics were the principal contributors to this immense revenue, they merely prayed for such reformation as was necessary for the relief of the impoverished people. It could not be said that this prayer sprung from mere sectarian enmity on the part of the Catholics to the Established Church. All the restrictive statutes that are now in force against ecclesiastical property in these countries, were passed by Catholic parliaments, when Catholic bishops were lords of parliament.

The second prayer of the petition was for the better regulation of juries. If the legislature have any intention of ever causing tranquillity in Ireland, they will grant this prayer, which goes to deprive Orangemen of the means of effecting, through the laws, their sworn hostility to the lives, liberties, and properties of the Catholics. The law should be like Cæsar's wife-above suspicion. It was notorious that Orangemen had generally shown themselves unfit for the office of magistrates where Catholics were concerned, and how much more so must they be for that of jurors.

The next prayer of the Catholics was for the disfranchisement of the existing rotten borough corporations. The time when the utility of corporations in Ireland could be contended for, was long since gone by. They were now nothing but monstrous nuisances, and only served to organize bigotry, and to procure members to misrepresent the people of Ireland in parliament.

What had the corporation of Dublin effected for the citizens

« ÖncekiDevam »