« НазадПродовжити »
livings were exacted from the Protestant clergy, notwithstanding the greatest part of their tithes was taken from them.' (p. 227). It was but the other day that the government, in conveying to the clergy the amount of tithes received for them, balanced it by their demand for crown-rent; and in a case which came under our own observation, the tithes recovered were so many shillings, the crown-rent demanded so many hundred pounds.' 37. The crown encouraged all kinds of sectarians in their resistance to the church (p. 230). 38. It proceeded to subvert the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the bishops (p. 231). 39. It claimed a right of interference with the church, which it professed itself incompetent to exercise over other religious bodies (p. 232). 40. It employed about the person of the monarch men 'very corrupt in morals and debauched,' as being the persons most ‘in a fair way to embrace the persuasion' of popery (p. 233); and they were particularly remarked for their profanation of the Lord's Day, so as, if they had any signal ball or entertainment to make, any journey or weighty business to begin, they commonly chose that day for it' (p. 234). 41. Churches were damaged and profaned (p. 236), others shut up (p. 242):---as it was proposed recently to shut them up where the congregation fell short of fifty souls. 42. The utmost violence was exhibited by the priests in making converts (p. 244). 43. They interfered with mixed marriages (p. 244); and employed secret rioters, like Ribbonmen, to insult and assault Protestants who were firm to their religion (p. 245). 44. The clergy were attacked and beaten (p. 246). 45. Funerals were made the scenes of insult and riot (p. 246). 46. Protestants, on their death-bed, were exposed (as they are now) to the intrusion of the priest, anxious to claim them as converts, by forcing on them the rite of extreme unction (p. 247). 47. The clergy were compelled to undertake offices and discharge duties as the menial servants of the state (p. 248). 48. Every effort was made to exhibit the church and the Protestant religion as a monster (p. 249). 49. Newspapers were set on foot for the very purpose of circulating calumnies against the clergy (p. 251). 50. All this was carried on while the government were • loudly proclaiming liberty of conscience.
These fifty points, to those who have studied the recent progress of affairs, will probably seem curious. They have been roughly thrown down here, for the purpose simply of showing what English ministers should not do, who do not wish to establish Popery in Ireland, and to rule it by the instrumentality of the priests.
But whatever thoughts are turned to governments, there is a truth which every day's experience must impress deeper both on the English and the Irish people—that in the present state of
and aThe clergy wie scenes of imere exposed them as c
bem the priested, were'' and riot P. 246)ion (P.
this country no ministers can do much for good, though they may do much for mischief. It is on the landlords and the clergy that the hopes of the empire must rest—and on their co-operating together heartily and vigorously, and at the same time prudently and quietly, as men who can have but one interest, and one duty, and of whom, if one is destroyed, the other must perish likewise.
** It is to give, professedly to such a population as we have described, but substantially to the priests-their directors and despots- a vast accession of political power, that the Government -the Government of a Queen who holds her throne by the tenure of Protestantism — have, while we have been writing these articles, introduced, under the colour of a Registration Bill, a NEW FRANCHISE for Ireland. Their Bill is so monstrous, that, ill as we think of the ministry, we are almost inclined to doubt whether they were, before the debate-whether they are even yctfully aware of the practical effect of that revolutionary project. .
We, at the conclusion of our last Number, foretold too truly that the earliest duty imposed on the Conservative party would be the defence of the Reform Bill against its own authors; but we hardly expected that the attempt would be made either so soon, or in so sweeping, yet so insidious a form.
The abuses of the Irish registry were so enormous and so flagrant, that, in spite of the combined efforts of the Papists and the Ministry, Lord Stanley had last year carried a remedial Bill beyond the second reading, and had announced his intention to renew it early this session. Any measure which should tend to rescue the real elector from the thraldom of the priests and Mr. O'Connell, and to brush away any portion of the fraudulent regis. tration, must be fatal to the Ministry, whose existence, as we have already shown, depends on this illegal, but at present irresistible, influence of the Priests. What, then, was to be done to avert the danger of a real remedy for those abuses ?—Why, the old Popish shift of confessing, when it could be no longer denied, the existence of the evil and the necessity of a remedy-and then, with Jesuitical candour, offering to provide one :- which, of course, prepared by the self-same hands that had created the abuse, was certain to be at least as bad as the disease itself.
This is the real history of Lord Morpeth's Bill, and the way in which it proceeds to effect its object is in exact pursuance of that mixture of impudence and cunning—that sly audacity—in which it was conceived. One of the main conditions and supposed securities provided by the Relief Bill—not merely accepted Vol. LXVII. NO. CXXXIV.
but advocated by Mr. O'Connell and the rest of the Romanist party-was the substitution of a bona fide value of 101. for the old 40s. franchise in counties—and in boroughs, the occupancy of 101. tenements instead of 51. This fundamental compact, on which the Roman Catholics were admitted into parliament, is now to be broken ;--and a new franchise is proposed, which, we do not he:itate to say, is worse than the old system, and will be liable to equal if not greater abuses.
The new scheme provides that the occupier of any portion of land, or any tenement, which shall be rated to the poor-rate in the sum of 51., shall have a vote.
Now, observe how this will work.
In the first place, it revives at one stroke all the corruptions of the old Borough constituencies, and throws back again every borough into those corrupt hands, by at least trebling the present constituencies. Belfast has about 2000 electors, under the 51. franchise. It is shown by parliamentary documents that there will be above 6000 under Lord Morpeth's bill; that is, the present constituency will be overwhelmed with 4000 of the lower class of inhabitants; and Belfast was chosen by ministers as their example, because the proportion would be vastly greater in any, and every other town in Ireland.
In Counties the effect of the Bill would be still worse, and particularly by totally changing the nature of the county franchise. Its first proposal is to admit occupiers of tenements of 51. to the franchise for counties: an entire innovation.
Next, the portion of land rated at 51. would, generally speaking, differ little from an old 40s. freehold. No tenant could have had a real and bonâ fide profit of 40s.-over and above rent, rate, and taxes out of any portion of land which should not be of the gross value of 41. 10s. at the very lowest. So that in point of extent this new franchise would be little or no better than the 40s, freehold; and the old and ruinous system of creating small tenures to make voters of the lowest possible qualification, would be revived on the most sweeping scale. Nay, it would be much worse. The 40s. freeholder had, or at least was supposed to have, a profit from the land to the amount of 40s.; but under Lord Morpeth's new five-pound franchise, the voter need not have fire farthings of beneficial interest in the lands out of which he is to obtain his political franchise.
The land must be rated at 51.;-true—but let not our English readers be deceived by the word rated. The land is rated indeed, but in Ireland—which is so clamorous for assimilation with England -it was carefully provided at the recent introduction of a PoorLaw rating, that the rate should be paid—not as in England by
the occupier—but by the occupier and landlord jointly-the landlord in all cases paying one-half-in many cases, more—in some, the whole. And as the modes of apportioning these rates are complicated and arbitrary, the greatest efforts have been made, as we have said, by the priests to predominate in the elections of the guardians of the poor-law unions, in order to use them as a weapon of political and pecuniary oppression against the landlords.
The rating, therefore, will be no criterion whatsoever of the value of the tenant's holding. We have stated, and indeed the fact is notorious, that the poor Irish cottier will give for land not only the utmost penny of its value, but even beyond it; the rate, therefore, is no proof nor measure of his rent, and still less of his profit-he may hold land rated at 5l. on terms which make his bargain worse than nothing.
Thus, then, is to be overthrown in Ireland (England's turn will soon follow) the first constitutional principle of county representation, that the franchise should be connected with profit from the land. The Irish elector, if this bill passes, may be an absolute insolvent without one penny of profit out of the land he votes for.
But this is not the worst :—all this assumption of rating as a check on fraud or a measure of value, is in itself a most scandalous fraud.
The vote must arise out of land rated :-Yes, but the rate need not be paid !-the non-payment of the rate does not invalidate the vote conferred by the rating! Was there ever such a mockery?
Again: if a vote be once acquired by a five pound rating, a subsequent diminution of the rating shall not invalidate the vote. Thus, land may be rated for one year at 51. to confer a vote, and may next year be lowered for all other purposes to 21., but without des roying the votem which the one year's rating will confer irrevocably for 14 years, subject only to the voter's paying his share of the difference of the rates—which would be, in the case statedat 6d, in the pound-ninepence per annum for a vote, the rated foundation of which was gone!
But still more monstrous. The Poor Law Act had exempted certan poor lands (bog, &c.) from rating :—Will it be believed that Lord Morpeth's bill provides that these lands—too valueless to be rated under the Poor Law—shall nevertheless be rated under this Bill for the purpose of creating votes ?
There have been already exhibited in Ireland some strange nstances of abuse in the poor-law ratings-gross partiality, great njustice, and a general irregularity and uncertainty of principle; but if this be so already, where the actual apportionment of the
money money must operate as a kind of check, what may we expect from those ratings which are not money-ratings but vote-ratings? The wastes, barren of money, will be found prolific of votes. What a specimen of Hibernian legislation !- one bill exempting as valueless the same land, where the other bill permits the valuators to find as many five-pound franchises as they may think proper!
In short, we are convinced that this measure would create a state infinitely worse than the old 40s. freeholders—worse, we almost think, than Universal Suffrage; for Universal Suffrage has a principle- an erroneous and dangerous one indeed—but a principle--it boldly rejects property and adopts personality; but Lord Morpeth's bill is a mere fraud, which talks of property and rating only to abandon them in practice, and which admits to a franchise, affecting to be based upon property, persons as destitute of any pretence to property as the poorest individual whom Universal Suffrage could bring to the poll.
Our readers, from this exposure of the principle-the real principle of Lord Morpeth's bill-cannot be surprised that the Conservatives would not consent to give it a second reading; and they will understand why the ministerialists now admit, with affected candour, that they fear they may be beaten on the 51. clause, which no doubt will be raised up to 101, in the Committee.'
But it is clear that the principle is equally bad-equally unconstitutional—whether the sum be öl, or 10l. ;—for neither ensures any beneficial interest in the voter. The poor fellow who gives a rackrent for land of the rated value of Tol. is not likely to be more independent or more solvent, indeed less so, than be who rents only a 5l. lot. The only difference is, that so many voters cannot be manufactured on the same extent of groundthat is, of ground rated to the poor :— but on the ground to be rated for vote-making, there will be little other limit than the conscience of the valuator; and as we know by whom the valuators will be appointed, we foresee great elasticity of conscience. But the personal condition of the 101. voter, in respect to property, might be no better, and would probably be worse; and the constitutional objection will be just the same.
We therefore fairly confess that we are nearly indifferent whether the Conservatives shall, or shall not, try in the committee to substitute 10l. instead of 51. ; but if their doing so, and succeeding, were to increase, as we fear it might, the chance of the ultimate passing of the bill, we should most strenuously deprecate it.
There are one hundred other objections, which we have not time to develop, to this most fraudulent measure-as fraudulent in its details as in its general design ;- but the great, the constitu