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The oath taken by Roman Catholic members of Parliament was the subject of discussion in the House of Lords in this session. It was introduced by the Bishop of Exeter on the 1st of March. The oath, it will be recollected, binds Roman Catholic members " to disclaim, and disavow, and solemnly abjure any attempt to subvert the present Church establishment as settled by law within this realm," and to swear solemnly that they " will never exercise any privilege," to which they may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in this kingdom; and that the words were used in the plain and ordinary sense, "without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatever." Mr. O'Connell interpreted this very stringent oath in this sense, "that the Roman Catholics were bound, as were the Protestants also, to support the establishment of the Church of England as long as it continued to be the law; but that as legislators they were quite competent to become parties to an alteration of the law, and that the temporalities of the Church were not essential to its character as an establishment." Both these positions are clearly fallacious, for the oath was meant expressly to restrain the action of Roman Catholics as legislators, and a Church establishment without temporalities would be like title-deeds to an estate that had no existence. The Bishop of Exeter delivered a powerful argument for the purpose, of demonstrating that the Roman Catholic members had violated their oath in their conduct with reference to the Irish Church establishment. Lord Melbourne, on the other hand, contended that Roman Catholics had a right to vote upon every question brought before Parliament, and if they did violate their oaths, he saw no remedy that could be resorted to; and he sensibly remarked that oaths are in themselves objectionable; they embarrass the minds of the weak, disturb the minds of the scrupulous, and cannot bind the consciences of the dishonest. " If the Establishment was in danger," he said, " oaths would not save it. The Protestant reformation was brought about in spite of oaths; and the Lord Chancellor, judges, magistrates, and municipal functionaries were in Henry V.'s time solemnly sworn to exterminate the Lollards." There is much truth in this observation, but the logical conclusion from the argument is, that the imposition of oaths of office is absurd and profane. An incident was referred to, however, by the Bishop of Exeter, on the 27th of March, which showed that the Court of Rome did not regard the Roman Catholic oath so lightly. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Malta refused to take it, when appointed a member of Council in 1835, until he obtained the sanction of the Pope, who decided that it could not be lawfully taken; and the Bishop of Exeter argued that as it was stamped by the Pope's disapproval, Roman Catholic members could not regard it as binding on their consciences.

A memorable event in the modern history of political parties occurred on the 12th of May. A banquet was given to Sir Robert Peel at the Merchant Taylors' Hall, at which 300 Conservative members of Parliament were actually present. The chair was occupied by the Marquis of Chandos, who described the assembly as " a body of gentlemen, perhaps the most influential in the country, united heart and hand to support the right hon. baronet, and who had invited him as their guest to receive publicly at their hands the full, unanimous, and enthusiastic approbation of his conduct in Parliament and elsewhere." The speech of Sir Robert Peel on this occasion was a luminous exposition of his policy as the Conservative leader. He stated that his object for some years past had been " to lay the foundations of a great party, which, existing in the House of Commons, and deriving its strength from the popular will, should diminish the risk and deaden the shock of collisions between the two deliberative branches of the legislature. y He was aided in this work by the Duke of "Wellington - "that man who is not without ambition, but without its alloys " - and by Lord Stanley and Sir James Graham, whose accession to the party resulted " not from negotiations, but the force of circumstances: " and concerning which Lord Stanley himself, the same evening, said that the alliance was founded on the "strongest motives which could act on private feeling, or influence public conduct - it was founded on a sense of common, danger, on the conviction of a common interest." Sir Robert Peel sketched the history of the new party, and apologized to his impatient followers for not seizing the reins of government, though he had 313 adherents in the House. His excuse was, that though an opposition, they were a Conservative opposition, and that as such they had to maintain the principles and perform some of the functions of a government. " I hope," he said, "that we shall never adopt the advice which we sometimes receive from ardent friends and professed admirers, namely - to abandon altogether our duty in the House of Commons, for the purpose of creating embarrassment, by leaving the Government to fight it out by themselves. My firm belief is, that by steadily performing our legislative functions, by attending to our duty, by censuring Ministers when censure may be required, by enforcing our principles on all occasions, by amending their measures where they require amendment, though at the same time we should rescue them from temporary embarrassment, yet we shall thereby be establishing new claims on the public approbation."

At the close of the session of 1837 an earnest desire was -expressed by the leaders of both parties in the House for an amicable adjustment of two great Irish questions which had been pending for a long time, and had excited a great deal of bad feeling, and wasted much of the time of the Legislature - namely, the Irish Church question, and the question of corporate reform. The Conservatives were disposed to compromise the matter, and to get the Municipal Reform Bill passed through the Lords, provided the Ministry abandoned the celebrated appropriation clause, which would devote any surplus revenue of the Church Establishment, not required for the spiritual care of its members, to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion; providing for the resumption of such surplus, or any part of it, as may be required, by an increase in the numbers of the members of the Established Church. The result of this understanding was the passing of the acts settling those two questions, which has been already recorded. But there were some little incidents of party warfare connected with these matters, which may be noticed here as illustrative of the temper of the times. On the 14th of May Sir Thomas Ackland brought forward a resolution for rescinding the appropriation clause. This Lord John Russell regarded as a breach of faith. He said that the present motion was not in accordance with the Duke of Wellington's declared desire to see the Irish questions brought to a final settlement. " If, indeed," said Lord John, amidst great cheering from the Ministerial side, " the duke had said, ' But I have onŠ proposition to make more, namely, that the declaration which the noble lord (Melbourne) made in the House of Lords at the commencement of his administration should be repudiated, and the resolutions which were come to by the House of Commons shall be rescinded ' - if the noble duke had said that, he would at once have provoked this answer from the noble lord at the head of the Government: ' It is true that you have made these proposals, but you couple with them conditions inconsistent with our principles, inconsistent with our honour, and upon such terms I cannot propose any measures upon these subjects. "I Acting upon the strength of the declarations made by their opponents, and upon the assurance generally understood that any propositions that were to be made should be propositions that they might consistently support, the Ministers had pressed forward their unpopular Poor Law Bill, and their Tithe Bill, and had held back the Corporation Bill, which was generally Acceptable in Ireland. This was done at Sir Robert Peel's request; but they never would have done it had they been aware of Sir T. Ackland's intention. Bitterly complaining of what he believed to be a breach of faith, Lord John said: "The only advantage I have is that which I shall derive for my future guidance from the past conduct of my opponents; which is, that whenever they make professions, I shall consider those professions as snares; that whenever they make declarations, I shall consider those declarations as stratagems, and intended to deceive." With respect to the principle of the appropriation clause, which had been embodied in a resolution, his opinion was unaltered. He declared it to be a wise and just principle, and he could not consent to its reversal; which, moreover, would imply a stigma on the Ministry that he was not willing to bear.

Lord Stanley denied that there was any understanding or agreement in which it was stipulated that the appropriation clause should be persevered in. On the contrary, the very basis of any agreement must be the abandonment of that clause. The rescinding of it would have the most beneficial effect. While that resolution hung over the heads of the Irish clergy, their minds were disturbed, their fears were excited, and to get rid of it they would submit to any pecuniary sacrifice. The greatest objection to the introduction of the Municipal Bill rested upon this; for before that measure was consented to, it was desired to give greater security to the Church. The appropriation clause, therefore, Lord Stanley contended, fettered legislation, and placed a great gulf between the two parties. Lord Morpeth met this objection by stating that it was proposed to place the clergy on the same footing as the judges and the great officers of state - on the same footing as that on which the civil list of the Crown itself was by law guaranteed. This would be done by Act of Parliament, which could not je reversed but by the collective consent of the Legislature. The proposed arrangement could not, in any point of view, be considered as unfairly pressing on the clergy. The debate was then adjourned to the following day, when a scene occurred during a speech of Mr. O'Connell, which is thus recorded in the " Annual Register:" - Mr. O'Connell said, The real question before the House was - how should Ireland be governed? This was the question that had been under discussion for seven hundred years. Shall Ireland be governed by a faction? (Vehement shouts from the Opposition.) Mr. O'Connell then continued in the following strain: - " I thank you (noise renewed) for that shriek. Many shouts of insolent domination (noise), despicable and contemptible as it is (noise), have I heard against my country." (Uproar continued, during which Mr. O'Connell, with uplifted fist, and great violence of manner, uttered several sentences which were inaudible in the gallery. The Speaker was at last obliged to interfere and call the House to order.) " Let them shout. It is a senseless yell. It is the spirit of the party which has placed you there. Ireland will hear your shrieks. (Continued uproar.) Yes: you may want us again. (Roars of laughter.) What would Waterloo have been if we had not been there? (Ministerial cheers, and Opposition laughter.; I ask not that question for your renowned commander and chief, who is himself an Irishman; but for the hardy soldiers of Ireland, who fought the battle for him. (" Question," and laughter from the Opposition.) I say again, that is the question. The question is - shall the people of Ireland be amalgamated with the people of England? Refuse to receive us into that amalgamation, and abide the consequences. (Cries of "hear" from the Opposition benches.) Sneer at me as you like; but recollect that I speak the voice of millions, who will hear again of the base insult offered to me this evening." ("Question, question.") In the sequel of his speech Mr. O'Connell admitted that the Ministerial plan did not go far enough; but he was ready to accede to it, for the sake of an amicable arrangement.

Sir Robert Peel then spoke at great length on all the questions at issue. He made a statement to show that the complaint of Lord John Russell about being over-reached, was without a shadow of foundation. The noble lord's conduct he declared to be without a precedent. He called upon Parliament to come to the discussion of a great question, upon a motion which he intended should be the foundation of the final settlement of that question; and yet, so ambiguous was his language, that it was impossible to say what was or was not the purport of his scheme. Sir Thomas Ackland's motion for rescinding the appropriation resolution was rejected by a majority of 19, the numbers being 317 and 298. On the following day Lord John Russell gave Sir Robert Peel distinctly to understand that the tithe measure would consist solely of a proposition that the composition then existing should be converted into a rent charge. On the 29th of the same month, Lord John Russell having moved that the House should go into committee on the Irish Municipal Bill, Sir Robert Peel gave his views at length on the Irish questions, which were now taken up in earnest, with a view to their final settlement. The House of Commons having disposed of the Corporation Bill, proceeded on the 2nd of July to consider Lord John Russell's resolutions on the Church question. But Mr. Ward, who was strong on that question, attacked the Government for their abandonment of the appropriation clause. He concluded by moving a series of resolutions, re-affirming the appropriation principle. His motion was rejected by a majority of 270 to 46. The House then went into committee, and in due course the Irish Tithe Bill passed into law, and the vexed Church question was settled for a quarter of a century.

The approaching coronation of the Queen became, as the season advanced, the prevailing topic of conversation in all circles. The feeling excited by it was so strong, so deep, and so wide-spread, that a radical journal pronounced the people to be 1' coronation mad." The enthusiasm was not confined to the United Kingdom. The contagion was carried to the Continent, and foreigners of various ranks, from all nations, flocked into the metropolis to behold the inauguration of the maiden monarch of the British Empire. "The thousand equipages that thronged the streets, the plumed retainers of the ambassadors, the stream of swarthy strangers, and the incessant din of preparation which resounded by alight as well as by day along the intended line of the procession, constituted of themselves a scene of no ordinary animation and interest, and sustained the public mind in an unceasing stretch of expectation." There were, however, some dissentients, whose objections disturbed the current of public feeling. As soon as it was understood that, on the score of economy, the time-honoured custom of having the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall would not be observed, the Marquis of Londonderry and others zealously exerted themselves to avert the innovation. On the 28th of May the marquis presented a petition from the merchants, traders, and others of the metropolis, praying that the coronation might be deferred till August, and then be conducted on a scale of befitting splendour. Earl Fitzwilliam ridiculed the zealots for court ceremonials. He declared that he viewed the coronation as little better than an idle and ridiculous pageant. Would the loyalty of noble lords, he asked, be augmented by the childish ceremony of putting coronets upon their heads, and compelling them to walk in an absurd procession? Coronations are only suitable to barbarous ages; and he hinted a doubt "whether the exhibition of a youthful princess to a staring populace was consistent with feminine delicacy." The Marquis of Salisbury declared he was less affected by the idle and irreverent taunts of Lord Fitzwilliam than by the humiliating acknowledgment that this great country could not afford to give a dinner to its sovereign. " But I thank God," solemnly exclaimed the noble marquis, "that her Majesty's Ministers have not relinquished the sacred parts of the ceremony; I thank God, too, that my sovereign will do her duty." The Marquis of Londonderry asked whether Lord Fitzwilliam really meant that there should be no coronation? And having received an answer in the affirmative, he asked absurdly whether the noble lord was prepared for the sequel of the proposition, that there should be no Earl Fitzwilliam?

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