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Chapter XLVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7 page 3

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Mr. Disraeli referred to several symptoms of the weakness of the Government, one of which was that they adopted strong measures; another, that they had abolished the constitutional guardians of the peace, to erect a new police force in their stead. A strong Government was enabled to carry its measures through the ardent co-operation of all classes in the realm, and was one to which the great body of the people looked up with confidence. That was not the case with this Government: they were not strong, but in one thing they were steady - that is, in their determination to keep their places.

Mr. Lytton spoke of Lord Normanby's government in Ireland in terms of the strongest censure; and he did not hesitate to charge Lord Ebrington's government with having encouraged the projects of the agitators. He read from the Pilot newspaper, Mr. O'Connell's organ, an extract from a speech delivered by that gentleman as a proof of this assertion, inasmuch as the speaker was not prosecuted by the Government: - " I have always declared that not one drop of blood should be shed. I hate bloodshed and violence; but I now declare that I am ready to die in the field, rather than submit to Tory domination. Let others do as they may, I am determined not to submit, and I am certain I shall not stand alone, for I shall be supported by millions in that determination." At a meeting in the Theatre Royal, Dublin, the same speaker said, referring to the House of Lords: - " If one of those aristocrats had gone to a stockbroker, and told him that Tipperary was in commotion, that Galway was in arms, and that Kerry was up and led on by ----- " (here he was interrupted) "if that had been stated, and if the same authority were asked, In case it were attempted to put down these disturbances, and to hang the agitator, what would the national debt in this country be worth? what do you think would be the answer of the stock-broker?" On another occasion he bade them "send round to their million of men with their thousands of leaders, and let them know that their country was lost, if they did not arise to prevent their liberties being wrested from them by force and fraud. The peasant was ready to sacrifice himself, and he called upon them to stand between him and the knife of the oppressor."

The House was then addressed by Mr. Gaily Knight, Mr. Pakington, and Lord Claude Hamilton; after which Lord Howick rose, and delivered a lengthened speech on the policy of the Government, which he had abandoned because nothing had been done by it to conciliate its most respectable and earnest supporters, who, year by year - almost month by month - were falling off from its ranks and joining those of its opponents.

Sir James Graham also delivered a telling speech against the Government, and he mentioned the following facts as illustrations of the means by which it maintained itself in power: - " No less than eight naval officers above the rank of lieutenant had stood contests at the last general election and had been defeated. Every one of those officers had since been placed in command. Admiral Ommaney, who had contested Hampshire, had since been placed in command of the Lisbon; Lord John Churchill, who had contested Woodstock, now commanded the Druid; Captain Plum- bridge, the candidate for Falmouth, had been appointed to the Astrœa; and Lord Clarence Paget, the candidate for Southampton, to the Howe. Captain Napier, who stood for Greenwich, now commanded the Powerful; and Captain Townshend, who contested Tamworth, had been appointed to the Tyne." Sir James Graham then made some severe remarks upon the alleged political inconsistencies of some members of the Government, and among the rest he did not spare Mr. Macaulay.

That gentleman immediately rose to reply. It would be easy, he said, to answer the personalities of which he had been the object - to recriminate would be still easier; but if ever he was under the necessity of addressing the House on matters which concerned himself, he hoped it would not be on an occasion when the dearest interests of the country were staked on the issue of the debate. "He felt, indeed, with the most intense conviction, that in pleading for the Government to which he belonged, he was pleading for the dearest interests of the commonwealth, for the reformation of abuses, and for the preservation of august and venerable institutions, and the general welfare of the people."

Mr. Macaulay then proceeded to deliver a magnificent defence of the Liberal party and their policy, which deserves to be ranked with the best of Burke's orations. Referring to the subjects that were open questions, Mr. Macaulay said, "Now, if on account of this difference of opinion, the House should consider them unworthy of its confidence, then no government for many years had been or was worthy of the confidence of the House of Commons, for the several governments of Mr. Pitt, of Mr. Fox, of Lord Liverpool, of Mr. Canning, and of the Duke of Wellington, all had open questions of the greatest moment. The question of parliamentary reform was an open question with the government of Mr. Pitt: Lord Granville was opposed to that question, yet he was brought into the cabinet by Mr. Pitt, who favoured it. Mr. Pitt was adverse to the slave-trade, while a defender of it, Mr. Dundas, was a member of his government. Mr. Fox in the same manner, in his cabinets of 1792 and 1806, had open questions of similar importance; and the governments of Lord Liverpool, Mr. Canning, and the Duke of Wellington left as an open question Catholic emancipation, which, closely connected as it was with the executive administration, ought, perhaps, to have been one of the last questions which should ever have been left open by any cabinet. If men," continued the right hon. gentleman, "were to be deemed disqualified for places in the councils of their Sovereign, because they exerted themselves to carry the Reform Bill, because they appealed to the people to support that bill, because they employed means certainly lying within the verge of the law, but as certainly also within the confines of prudence, then he contended no men in this empire were more completely disqualified for office than the noble lord and the right hon. baronet. He altogether denied the assertion which he had heard over and over again, that a government that countenanced, or did not discountenance, agitation would not punish rebellion. There might be some similarity in the simple act between the man who bled and the man who stabbed, but was there no difference in the nature of the action? He (Mr. Macaulay) did not believe there had been one instance of justifiable insurrection in this country for a century and a half. On the other hand, he held agitation to be essential, not only to the obtaining of good and just measures, but to the existence of a free government itself. If they chose to adopt the principle of Bishop Horsley, that the people have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them, then, indeed, they might deprecate agitation; but in a free country and under a free government, the deprecation was vain and untenable. In Russia, if a man can obtain an audience of the Emperor Nicholas or Count Nesselrode, and can produce proof that certain views he entertains are sound, certain plans he proposes would be attended with practical benefit, then, indeed, without agitation, without public discussion, with a single stroke of the pen, a great and important change is at once effected. Not so in this country. Here the people must be appealed to - the public voice must be consulted. In saying this, he did not defend one party alone, he was defending alike both the great parties in the House. Had they not heard of agitation against the Catholic claims? Was there no agitation against the poor law? Had there been no agitation for or against the Catholic privy councillors? But to pass from questions about which a difference of opinion might fairly exist, to a measure upon which all must agree - a measure of the proudest, grandest nature that had ever received the sanction of the legislature - the abolition of the slave trade: that, he contended, never would have been carried without agitation."

The right hon. gentleman concluded his speech as follows: -

" I believe that if, with the best and purest intentions, the right hon. baronet were to undertake the government of this country, he would find that it was very easy to lose the confidence of the party who raised him to power, but very difficult indeed to gain that which the present Government happily possessed - the confidence of the people of Ireland. It is upon these grounds, and principally upon the question of Ireland, that I should be inclined to rest the case of the present Ministry. Would to God that I were speaking to an audience that would judge this great controversy fairly, with an unbiassed mind, and as it will be judged by future ages. The passions which inflame us, the sophistries which delude us, will not last for ever. The paroxysms of faction have their appointed season; even the madness of fanaticism is but for a day: the time is coming when our conflicts will be to others as the conflicts of our forefathers are to us; when our priests who convulse the State, our politicians who make a stalking-horse of the Church, will be no more than the Harleys and Sacheverells of a bygone day; and when will be told, in language very different from that which now draws forth applause at Exeter Hall, the story of these troubled years. Then it will be said that there was a portion of the empire which presented a striking contrast to the rest: not that it was doomed to sterility, for the soil was fruitful and well-watered - not that it wanted facilities for commerce and trade, for its coasts abounded in havens marked by Nature to be the marts of the whole world - not that the people were too proud to improve these advantages, or too pusillanimous to defend them, for in endurance of toil and gallantry of spirit, they were conspicuous amongst the nations - but that the bounty of Nature was rendered unavailable by the tyranny of man. Whether the result of this debate will be victory or defeat, I know not; but I know that there are defeats not less glorious than even victory itself, and yet I have seen and shared in some glorious victories. Those were proud and happy days when, amidst the praises and blessings of millions, my noble friend Lord John Russell led us on in the great struggle for the Reform Bill; when hundreds waited around our doors till sunrise to hear the tidings of our success; and when the great cities of the empire poured forth their populations on the highways to meet the mails that were bringing from the capital the tidings whether the battle of the people was lost or won. Those days were such as my noble friend cannot hope to see again. Two such triumphs would be too much for one life. But perhaps there still awaits him a less pleasing, a less exhilarating, but not a less honourable task - the task of contending against superior numbers through years of discomfiture to maintain those civil liberties, those rights of conscience which are inseparably associated with the name of his illustrious house. At his side will not be wanting men who, against all odds, and through all the turns of fortune, amidst evil days and evil tongues, will defend to the last with unabated spirit the noble principles of Milton and Locke. He may be driven from office; he may be doomed to a life of opposition; he may be made the mark for all the rancour of sects; he may be exposed to the fury of a Laud on the one side, and to the fanaticism of a 'Praise-God-bare-bones' on the other; but a portion of the praise which we bestow on the old martyrs and champions of freedom will not be refused by posterity to those who have in these our days endeavoured to bind together in real union sects and races too long hostile to each other, and to efface, by the mild influence of a parental government, the fearful traces which have been left by the misrule of ages."

Lord Stanley delivered a most able and energetic speech against the Government. He was followed by Lord Morpeth, who repelled with equal ability his attack upon the government of Ireland. The noble lord concluded a most effective speech with the following appeal to the House: - " Those who have only perused what has taken place here during this debate must have perceived sufficient indications of a great difference of opinion amongst members of the Conservative party. Again and again they repeat that argument so often urged, that in the month of May last we declared we did not possess an adequate degree of the confidence of this House. That is true. And did we not hear, a few nights afterwards, the right hon. baronet (Sir Robert Peel) declare that if he undertook the government of the country, Ireland would be the chief source of his difficulties P And do you think that in the intervening period Ireland has been so soothed by the dulcet strains of sympathy and consolation which have been poured forth through all your organs, and from all your gatherings - do you think that the mind of Ireland has been so enlightened, so irradiated by the glimpses you have let fall upon her, of the sentiments you entertain towards her, and of the purposes you cherish in her behalf, that the difficulties to which the right hon. baronet alluded in so emphatic a manner are removed? that the dark cloud will pass away which before closed round his accession to office, and open an horizon of serenity and confidence where all was mistrust and alienation? Have there been no indications of late from England and Scotland, as well as from Ireland? Why, since you gave notice of this motion, so big with menace and hostility, what has been the confirmation given by all the constituencies which had in the nick of time to be consulted? And the self-same verdict, so far as the vote of this night is concerned, has been returned from the most different bodies of men, and from the most distinct parts of the empire - from a great suburban district of the metropolis, from a first-rate seaport town, from the crowded manufactories of Birmingham, from the ducal borough of Newark, and in two consecutive instances from the enlightened capital of Scotland. We hail," continued the noble lord, "with right good-will, from the different constituencies which have been consulted, their commentary on the motion of to-night. And if it pleases you so to continue it - if, heedless of the better part which is still open to you, you decline to co-operate in the work of assisting to smooth the difficulties and to lessen the obstacles which, we do not dream of denying, beset and impede many of the complicated relations of our internal, our foreign, and our colonial policy - to soothe the irritations that prevail in the public mind - to disarm jealousies - to allay dissensions - in one word, to consult together for the public good - why, we. as a party, and in a selfish point of view, have only to bid you to go on: to stir up, or rather suffer to be stirred up, the fierce embers of past intolerance, to re- illume the fires of expiring bigotry, and scatter the elements of mistrust amid the inhabitants of the same soil, the children of the same Creator. And, while you adopt this course, we, on the contrary, shall put our trust in the increasing spread of intelligence, in the confirmed sway of toleration, and in the returning sense of a disabused people."

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