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steps of those who have gone before us, who have left us their instruetions and success, — their instructions to guide our walk, and their success to cheer our spirits.
101. PARLIAMENTARY REFORM, 1831. - Lord Brougham,
MY LORDS, I do not disguise the intense solicitude which I feel for the event of this debate, because I know full well that the peace of the country is involved in the issue. I cannot look without dismay at the rejection of this measure of Parliamentary Reform. But, grievous as may be the consequences of a temporary defeat, temporary it can only be; for its ultimate, and even speedy success, is certain. Nothing can now stop it. Do not suffer yourselves to be persuaded that. even if the present Ministers were driven from the helm, any one cond steer you through the troubles which surround you, without reform. But our successors would take up the task in circumstances far less auspicious. Under them, you would be fain to grant a bill, compared with which, the one we now proffer you is moderate indeed. Hear the parable of the Sibyl; for it conveys a wise and wholesome moral. Ste now appears at your gate, and offers you mildly the volumes - the precious volumes of wisdom and peace. The price she asks is reasonable; to restore the franchise, which, without any bargain, you ought voluntarily to give. You refuse her terms - her moderate terms; she darkens the porch no longer. But soon for you cannot do without her wares you call her back. Again she comes, but with diminished treasures; the leaves of the book are in part torn away by lawless hands, in part defaced with characters of blood. But the prophetic maid has risen in her demands; — it is Parliaments by the Year-it is Vote by the Ballot - it is suffrage by the million! From this you turn away indignant; and, for the second time, she departs. Beware of her third coming! for the treasure you must have; and what price she may next demand, who shall tell? It may even be the mace which rests upon that woolsack! What may follow your course of obstinacy, if persisted in, I cannot take upon me to predict, nor do I wish to conjecture. But this I know full well; that, as sure as man is mortal, and to err is human, justice deferred enhances the price at which you must purchase safety and peace; nor can you expect to gather in another crop than they did who went before you, if you persevere in their utterly abominable husbandry, of sowing injustice and reaping rebellion.
But, among the awful considerations that now bow down my mind, there is one that stands preeminent above the rest. You are the highest judicature in the realm; you sit here as judges, and decide all causes, civil and criminal, without appeal. It is a judge's first duty never to pronounce a sentence, in the most trifling case, without hearing. Will you make this the exception? Are you really prepared to determine, but not to hear, the mighty cause, upon which a Nation's hopes and fears hang? You are? Then beware of your decision' Rouse not, I beseech you, a peace-loving but a resolute People! alien
ate you from your body the affections of a whole Empire! As your friend, as the friend of my order, as the friend of my country, as the faithful servant of my sovereign, I counsel you to assist, with your uttermost efforts, in preserving the peace, and upholding and perpetuating the Constitution. Therefore, I pray and exhort you not to reject this measure. By all you hold most dear, by all the ties that bind every one of us to our common order and our common country, I solemnly adjure you, I warn you, I implore you, yea, on my bended knees, I supplicate you, reject not this bill!
102. UNIVERSAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. - Daniel O'Connell.
Daniel O'Connell, the great Irish "agitator," or "liberator," as he was frequently called, was born in the county of Kerry, Ireland, in 1775. He died in 1847. "His was that marvellous almixture of mirth, pathos, drollery, earnestness, and dejection," says Charles Phillips, "which, well compounded, form the true Milesian. He could whine and wheedle, and wink with one eye while he wept with the other. Ilis fun was inexhaustible." O'Connell was apt to be too violent and vituperative in his denunciations, and they consequently failed of their effect. The abuse that is palpably exaggerated is not much to be feared.
CAN anything be more absurd and untenable than the argument of the learned gentleman, when you see it stripped of the false coloring he has given to it? First, he alleges that the Catholics are attached to their religion with a bigoted zeal. I admit the zeal, but I utterly deny the bigotry. He proceeds to insist that these feelings, on our part, justify the apprehensions of Protestants. The Catholics, he says, are alarmed for their Church; why should not the Protestants be alarmed, also, for theirs? The Catholic desires safety for his religion; why should not the Protestant require security for his? Hence he concludes, that, merely because the Catholic desires to keep his religion free, the Protestant is thereby justified in seeking to enslave it. He says that our anxiety for the preservation of our Church vindicates those who deem the proposed arrangement necessary for the protection of theirs; a mode of reasoning perfectly true, and perfectly applicable, if we sought any interference with, or control over, the Protestant Church, if we asked or required that a single Catholic should be consulted upon the management of the Protestant Church, or of its revenues or privileges.
But the fact does not bear him out; for we do not seek nor desire, nor would we accept of, any kind of interference with the Protestant Church. We disclaim and disavow any kind of control over it. We ask not, nor would we allow, any Catholic authority over the mode of appointment of their clergy. Nay, we are quite content to be excluded forever from even advising his Majesty with respect to any matter relating to or concerning the Protestant Church, its rights its properties, or its privileges. I will, for my own part, go much further; and I do declare, most solemnly, that I would feel and express equal, if not stronger repugnance, to the interference of a Catholic with the Protestant Church, than that I have expressed and do feel to any Protestant interference with ours. In opposing their interference with us, I content myself with the mere war of words. But, if the case
were reversed, if the Catholic sought this control over the religion of the Protestant, - the Protestant should command my heart, my tongue, my arm, in opposition to so unjust and insulting a measure. So help me God! I would, in that case, not only feel for the Protestant, and speak for him, but I would fight for him, and cheerfully sacrifice my life in defence of the great principle for which 1 have ever contended, the principle of universal and complete religious liberty!
103. ON THE IRISH DISTURBANCE BILL. - Daniel O'Connell.
I Do not rise to fawn or cringe to this House; - I do not rise to supplicate you to be merciful toward the Nation to which I belong, toward a Nation which, though subject to England, yet is distinct from it. It is a distinct Nation: it has been treated as such by this country, as may be proved by history, and by seven hundred years of tyranny. I call upon this House, as you value the liberty of England, not to allow the present nefarious bill to pass. In it are involved the liberties of England, the liberty of the Press, and of every other institution dear to Englishmen. Against the bill I protest, in the name of the Irish People, and in the face of Heaven. I treat with scorn the puny and pitiful assertions, that grievances are not to be complained of,that our redress is not to be agitated; for, in such cases, remonstrances cannot be too strong, agitation cannot be too violent, to show to the world with what injustice our fair claims are met, and under what tyranny the People suffer.
The clause which does away with trial by jury, what, in the name of Heaven, is it, if it is not the establishment of a revolutionary tribunal? It drives the judge from his bench; it does away with that which is more sacred than the Throne itself, that for which your king reigns, your lords deliberate, your commons assemble. If ever I doubted, before, of the success of our agitation for repeal, this bill, this infamous bill, the way in which it has been received by the House; the manner in which its opponents have been treated; the personalities to which they have been subjected; the yells with which one of them has this night been greeted, all these things dissipate my doubts, and tell me of its complete and early triumph. Do you think those yells will be forgotten? Do you suppose their echo will not reach the plains of my injured and insulted country; that they will not be whispered in her green valleys, and heard from her lofty hills? O, they will be heard there! - yes; and they will not be forgotten. The youth of Ireland will bound with indignation; — they will say, "We are eight millions; and you treat us thus, as though we were no more to your country than the isle of Guernsey or of Jersey!" I have done my duty. I stand acquitted to my conscience and my country. I have opposed this measure throughout; and I now protest against it, as harsh, oppressive, uncalled for, unjust; as estab lishing an infamous precedent, by retaliating crime against crime;→ as tyrannous, cruelly and vindictively tyrannous!
104. THE DEATH PENALTY FOR NEW OFFENCES, 1812.- Lora Byron. B. 1778; d. 1824
SETTING aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of this Bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient in your statutes? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code, that more must be poured forth, to ascend to Heaven and testify against you? How will you carry this Bill into effect? Can you commit a whole country to their own prison? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scarecrows? or will you proceed (as you must, to bring this measure into effect) by decimation; place the country under martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around you; and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable gift to the Crown, in its former condition of a royal chase, and an asylum for outlaws? Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief, it appears, that you will afford him, will he be dragooned into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your grenadiers be accomplished by your executioners?
If you proceed by the forms of law, where is your evidence? Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty. With all deference to the noble Lords opposite, I think a little investigation- some previous inquiry would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favorite State measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporizing, would not be without its advantage in this. When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, - you temporize and tamper with the minds of men; but a death-bill must be passed off hand, without a thought of the consequences. Sure I am, from what I have heard, and from what I have seen, that to pass the Bill, under all the existing circumstances, without inquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to irritation, and barbarity to neglect.
The framers of such a Bill must be content to inherit the honors of that Athenian lawgiver, whose edicts were said to be written not in ink, but in blood. But suppose it passed, suppose one of these men, as I have seen them, meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your Lordships are, perhaps, about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame, suppose this man surrounded by those children, for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn forever from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault that he can no longer so support; suppose this man, there are ten thousand such, from whom you may select your victims, -dragged into Court, to be tried, for this new offence, by this new law, still, there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him; and these are, in my opinion, twelve butchers for a Jury, and a Jeffries for a Judge!
Dracon, the author of the first written code of laws for Athens.
105. ON CHARGES AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLICS, 1823. — Sheil.
Richard Lalor Sheil was born in Dublin, Ireland, August 16th, 1791, and died at Florence, Italy, where he held the post of British Minister, May 25th, 1851. He was returned to the Imperial Parliament in 1829, and for twenty years was a prominent member of the House of Commons. A contemporary says of him: "His great earnestness and apparent sincerity his unrivalled felicity of illustration, his extraordinary power of pushing the meaning of words to the utmost extent, and wringing from them a force beyond the range of ordinary expression were such, that, when he rose to speak, members took their places, and the hum of private ongversation was hushed, in order that the House might enjoy the performances of an accomplished artist." His style of speaking was peculiar; his gesticulation rapid, fierce, and incessant; his enunciation remarkably quick and impetuous. His matter was uniformly well arranged and logical. He carefully prepared himself before speaking.
CALUMNIATORS of Catholicism, have you read the history of your country? Of the charges against the religion of Ireland, the annals of England afford the confutation. The body of your common law was given by the Catholic Alfred. He gave you your judges, your magis trates, your high-sheriffs, your courts of justice, your elective system, and, the great bulwark of your liberties, the trial by jury. Who conferred upon the People the right of self-taxation, and fixed, if he did not create, their representation? The Catholic Edward the First; while, in the reign of Edward the Third, perfection was given to the representative system, Parliaments were annually called, and the statute against constructive treason was enacted. It is false, foully, infamously false, that the Catholic religion, the religion of your forefathers, the religion of seven millions of your fellow-subjects, has been the auxiliary of debasement, and that to its influence the suppression of British freedom can, in a single instance, be referred. I am loath to say that which can give you cause to take offence; but, when the faith of my country is made the object of imputation, I cannot help, I cannot refrain, from breaking into a retaliatory interrogation, and from asking whether the overthrow of the old religion of England was not effected by a tyrant, with a hand of iron and a heart of stone; whether Henry did not trample upon freedom, while upon Catholicism he set his foot; and whether Elizabeth herself, the virgin of the Reformation, did not inherit her despotism with her creed; whether in her reign the most barbarous atrocities were not committed; -whether torture, in violation of the Catholic common law of England, was not politically inflicted, and with the shrieks of agony the Towers of Julius, in the dead of night, did not reëcho?
You may suggest to me that in the larger portion of Catholic Europe freedom does not exist; but you should bear in mind that, at a period when the Catholic religion was in its most palmy state, freedom flourished in the countries in which it is now extinct. False,— I repeat it, with all the vehemence of indignant asseveration, — utterly false is the charge habitually preferred against the religion which Englishmen have laden with penalties, and have marked with degradation. I can bear with any other charge but this to any other charge I can listen with endurance. Tell me that I prostrate myself before a sculptured marble; tell me that to a canvass glowing with the imagery of Heaven I bend my knee; tell me that my faith is my perdition; — and, as you traverse the church-yards in which your fore