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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 online

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secret,) those who have the good fortune to be under no such restraints
of secrecy, find themselves able to suggest absolutely nothing. National
resources were not locked up in the treasury - the particular choice may
be secret, but the resources themselves lie open to the whole world - to
us, to Lord John Russell, who have no power, quite as much as to Sir
Robert Peel, who wields the thunder. And we cannot but remind the
reader, that one reason, beyond the policy of concealment, which made it
hard for Government to offer suggestions absolutely new, was the simple
fact, that such as were fit to be published they had already _acted_ on.
The remodeling of arrangements for the army, the bill for intercepting
the means of arming a rebel force, and the suppression of
insurrectionary magistrates - these three measures were clearly the first
steps to be taken. One only of the three is still lingering; whom, have
we to thank for _that_? A ministry to which the Duke of Wellington
belongs, is not likely to talk first and act afterwards. By the time it
became necessary to talk, their work, _for the present_, had been done.
But some few significant words there were from leaders in both Houses,
which convince us, that, upon any important _change_ of movements on the
part of the Repealers, the silent menaces of Government will begin to
speak in a tone such as no man can misunderstand.

V. _Patronage_. - Has that great instrument of government been abused by
Sir Robert Peel in the management of Ireland? This question might have
arranged itself under either of the two first heads; but we choose to
bring it forward in an insulated form. For we believe that no
administration of any day has ever made the avowal, or had it in their
power to make the avowal, which Sir Robert Peel made to the House of
Commons in the speech we are now reviewing. He read two separate
extracts from his own official instructions to Lord De Grey, which
actually announced his resolution (unfettered by the slightest reserve)
to renounce the entire church patronage of Ireland as an instrument of
administration. The Lord-Lieutenant was authorized to dispense this
patronage with one solitary view to merit, professional merit, and the
highest interests of Ireland. So noble an act as this, and one so
unprecedented in its nobility, needs no praise of ours. It speaks for
itself. And it would be injurious to spend words in emblazonry of _that_
which, by a spontaneous movement, _both_ sides of the House received
with volleying cheers. That kind of applause is as rare and as
significant as the act itself.

VI. and VII. Finally, however, all other questions connected with this
great crisis, sink in importance by the side of the one great interest
at stake upon the Union - is _that_ to be maintained? And, as the Union
could not possibly survive the destruction of the Protestant
Establishment, is _that_ to be protected? Are we to receive, at the
hands of traitors, a new model for our glorious empire? and, without
condescending to pause for one instant in discussing consequences, are
we to drink of this cup of indignity - that the constitution and
settlement of our state, which one hundred and fifty five years ago
required the deliberations of two ancient nations, England and Scotland,
collected in their representatives, to effect, now at this day are to be
put into the furnace anew by obscure conspirators, and traitors long
since due to the gallows. Say not, with Sir James Graham, "that this
all-conquering England would perish by the consequences." If that were
endured, already she _has_ perished: and the glory of Israel has
departed. The mere possibility that, by a knot of conspirators, our arch
of empire could be dismembered, that by a bare shout of treason it could
be thrown down for ever like the battlements of Jericho at the blast of
trumpets, would proclaim, as in that Judean tragedy, that we stood
under a curse of wrath divine. The dismemberment itself would be less
fatal than the ignominy of its mode. Better to court the hostility of
foreign nations, better to lay open our realms to a free movement of
that wrath against us which is so deeply founded in their envy, than to
perish by the hands of poltroons, of thieves, of conspirators. But this
fate is not ours. Many times our Government have repeated that
assurance. But, as in the expressions of our affection to the Sovereign,
this assurance is rightly renewed from time to time, and occasions are
sought for renewing it, let the ministers be assured - that, on this
point, we are all sound at heart. All of us are with them from shore to
shore. In this island there will be no faltering. It is shocking,
undoubtedly: it is awful, and _at such a moment_, to hear three lords of
old official standing - Lords Palmerston, Howick, and John Russell,
taking occasion to propound ridiculous and senseless modifications of a
plan essentially rebellious, the plan of partial confiscation, or of
partial degradation, for the Protestant Church. Patience hardly can keep
pace with the deliberate consideration of the contradictions which would
follow - whether from tampering with the Church, or with the political
settlement of our nations. Sir R. Peel has traced both. From the one
case _must_ follow an independent army, for Ireland an independent
government, an independent war as often as the popular will should speak
loudly. From a participation of Protestant property, or Protestant
dignities with the Roman Catholics, would follow instantly the transfer
of Protestant churches, already few enough, the translation of Popish
priests (that is, of selected traitors) to our senate. The very hint is
a monument to the disgrace of these noble lords; fatal to all pretences
of _earnest_ patriotism; but still in _them_ accounted for, and perhaps
a little palliated, by the known necessities of party. As respects the
_general_ mind, there is no such imbecility abroad; no such disposition
to traffic or go halves, temporize or capitulate with treason. One only
error is prevalent: it has been noticed by Sir R. Peel, who indeed
overlooked nothing; but it may be well to put the refutation into
another form. The caballing for dissolution of the Union, why should
that be treasonable? Is the Act of Union more than an Act of Parliament?
Is not every act of Parliament open to objection, petition, annulment?
No. It is dismemberment, says Sir Robert Peel, of the state. We add
this - How, and in virtue of what law, does the house of Brunswick reign?
By the Act of Settlement - an act of Parliament - an act about a hundred
and fifty years old. That is but an act of Parliament. Is it open, then,
to any of us, or all of us, to call a meeting for rescinding the Act of
Settlement? But all will now advance to a rapid consummation; Mr
O'Connell pursues only his old movement - then he is lost by the decay of
the enthusiasm. He adopts a new one - that which he has obscurely
announced. Then we are as sure as we are of day and night, of _his_
treason, as of British power to crush it, that the suspended
thunderbolt, now raised aloft by the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert
Peel, will put an end to him for ever.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote N: We use the words of the Chancellor; words, therefore,
technically legal, in the debate of July, on Lord Clanricarde's motion
for a vote of censure upon Sir E. Sugden.]

[Footnote O: A more striking neglect is chargeable upon _some_
administration in suffering the Repealers quietly to receive military
training. We no more understand how this seditious act could have been
overlooked at the time, than we understand the process by which modest
assemblies of Orangemen have come to be viewed as illegal, pending a
state of law, which, upon the whole, justifies the much larger
assemblies of "foul conspirators."]

[Footnote P: People in Ireland, under various heads, as officers of the
different services, &c., pay, but not in quality of Irishmen, when by
accident they are such.]








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Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843 → online text (page 23 of 23)