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ted from the statute book. On the 26th of February, 1828, was struck the first successful blow against the supremacy of the Church of England since the Restoration. Lord John Russell moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee to take into consideration the regulations of the Corporation and Test Acts. A stormy debate followed, in which Bigotry and Power made a desperate stand for victory. A division showed 237 for the motion, and 193 against it. In committoc, Ministers entreated earnestly for delay, but a resolution was adopted for the instant repeal of the acts. A bill, based on this resolution, was introduced, and passed its second reading. The Bishop of Oxford rent his robes, and Lord Eldon shed many tears—but all in vain. After witnessing the temper

of the House, Mr. Peel declared that he was prepared to dismiss from his mind every idea of adhering to the existing laws, and only asked for some slight modifications in the pending bill. His request being complied with, Ministers withdrew from the contest, and speedily the Corporation and Test Acts, the offspring of a grim and bigoted age, ceased to be the law of the realm.

This was the first cardinal measure which the modern reformers had carried through Parliament (the abolition of the slave trade and the melioration of the criminal code were advocated by the chiefs of both parties) during a conflict of nearly half a century. It was hailed as an era in the contests of the People with the Crown; the harbinger of better days to come ; and was the first in a series of still more glorious achievements.




Ireland–The Causes of its Debasement-Dublin-Mementoes of the

Captivity of the Country-Movements toward Catholic Emancipation-Its Early Champions—Mr. Grattan-Mr. PlunkettReverend Sydney Smith.

BEFORE specially considering Catholic Emancipation, I will notice two or three persons who participated in the long struggle which prepared the way for this great measure of religious toleration. The act of Emancipation extended to Catholics alike in all parts of the United Kingdom. But, as the large majority of the professors of that faith dwelt in Ireland, and as they composed nearly seven-eighths of its people, and as it was there that the long and fierce conflict was waged which ultimately compelled English Protestants to yield to their Catholic fellow-subjects the rights of toleration which they themselves enjoyed, this was regarded as emphatically an Irish reform.

Ireland! What a throng of associated ideas start to life at the mention of that name! How varied their aspect-how contradictory their character-how antagonistic the emotions they kindle, the sentiments they inspire. Ireland, the land of genius and degradation, of vast resources and pinching poverty, of noble deeds and revolting crimes, of valiant resistance to tyranny and obsequious submission to usurpation. Ireland, the land of splendid orators, charming poets, and brave soldiers; the land of ignorance, abjectness, and beggary ; measureless in its capacities, stinted in its products, a strange anomaly, a complication of contradictions.


Though this portraiture, sketched by no unfriendly hand, be but a rude outline, does it not shadow forth the original ? Why are its darker colors no less faithful delineations of the prominent features than the brighter ? The very problem which a whole century has not been able to solve! The British Tory will point to what he calls “the malign character of the Irish,” as the prime cause of the debasement and wretchedness which exist among them. The British Whig, whose zeal for Protestantism, as a mere ism, has clouded his judgment, will assign the general prevalence of the Catholic religion in the island, as the source of most of the evils which afflict it. The genuine Irishman, who regards his native isle as the greenest and fairest the sun ever smiled to shine upon, will tell you that, giving due weight to many obvious but secondary influences, the degradation and misery which debase and crush such masses of his countrymen must be ascribed to the fact that Ireland, which could once boast of national independence, a regal sovereign, and a royal Parliament, is now a mere appendage to the English Crown, without a name, a flag, or a Senate; an oppressed colony crouching under a hated yoke of vassalage ; a captive province paying tribute to a conqueror, who, having robbed it of nationality, appoints its rulers, dictates its laws, prescribes its ritual, plunders its wealth, tarnishes its reputation, and scoffs at its complainings.

Waiving till another occasion the question whether the prime cause of Ireland's miseries does not lie deeper than her compulsory and unnatural union with Great Britain, let us enter a little further into the feelings of the struggling Irish

Go with him to Dublin. A beautiful city—one of the fairest in the United Kingdom. But, its beauty is that of the fading flower nipped by the untimely frost-the beauty of the chiseled marble, rather than of the living, acting, speaking man. Consumptive, pale, listless, it lacks the bloom, the freshness, the vivacity of conscious health. Its manufactures, its domestic trade, its foreign commerce, since the union-with England, have dwindled under the shadow of its towering rival beyond the channel, until its market days are as somber as a London Sabbath. Its dull streets and slumbering wharves, yea, the very gait and air of its populace, give, token that its prosperity is arrested by the hand of decay, whilst its magnificent public edifices seem to stand only as tame and melancholy monuments of its departed greatness and glory. From the proud capital of an independent nation, Dublin has degenerated to the chief mart of a dependent province, whose owners are "absentee proprietors,” whose husbandmen pay their rents to foreign landlords, whose merchants are the mere agents of distant capitalists, and whose nobles are proud to hide their Irish stars under English ribbons.


Everything in Dublin reminds the Irishman of the captivity of his country. He feels a blighting shame when he conducts a stranger through the stately halls of the Bank of Ireland ; for there the Lords and Commons of the Emerald Isle once legislated. He is pained when you extol the grandeur of this noble building ; for, to his eye, its glory has faded and fled. Walk with him through that broad and beautiful avenue, Sackville street, and your praise of its clegant mansions only reminds him that the Irish nobility that once resided there have gone to swell the brilliant pageant of the conqueror at Hyde Park and St. James's Palace. Wander with him amidst the filth and squalor of the lanes of the city, and he points to wretchedness and want as the fruits of English legislation. Go with him to the Castle, and, as the soldiery file through its turreted gate, clad in the uniform of the Saxon, he regards them not as the troops of a legitimate ruler, but as the trained assassins of an alien despot.

With such mementoes of the departed power and present captivity of Ireland, meeting his eye at every turn, was it not natural that the genuine Irishman, who submitted to the rule of England for the same reason that the slave wears the chain of his master, should, with the free blood which his Creator gave him boiling in his veins, twenty years ago present to his oppressor the alternative of civil war or unqualified toleration in the exercise of his hereditary religious faith—that nine years ago he should rush to Conciliation Hall, and agitate for his civil rights under the motto, “No People, strong enough to be a Nation, should consent to be a Province”—and that in the past year, when the last hope of civil emancipation by peaceful means had died out, and all Europe was in arms, casting away the chains of ages, he should light the fires of revolution on the hights of Tipperary, resolved to strike one despairing blow for the deliverance of a long-oppressed country? He who would brand Washington a traitor, may sink the iron into the foreheads of Mitchel, O'Brien, and Meagher.

Prominent among the early champions of Catholic Emancipation, stood MR. GRATTAN. To prove that, for nearly a century past, Ireland has constantly exhibited on the floor of the British Commons some of the most eloquent men who have swayed the councils of the United Kingdom, I only need mention the names of Burke, Flood, Sheridan, Grattan, Plunkett, O'Connell, and Shiel. Perhaps Canning may be included in the list. Both his parents were pure Irish, and he was, as it were, accidentally born in England. In this galaxy, Grattan shone unrivaled, except by Burke and Canning. He was the equal of the latter in many respects—his superior in some. As a practical Parliamentarian, he ranks scarcely below the former. And he stands at the head of all of his countrymen who have been strictly Irish members, representing Irish constituencies.

Graduating at Dublin, and entering the Middle Temple, London, in 1767, when just turned 21, Grattan was an eager observer, from the galleries of the Lords and Commons, of the fierce struggles of North, Grenville, Chatham, and Burke, then in the zenith of their fame. Throwing Coke and Plowden on the dusty shelf, he employed his leisure hours in writing sketches of these “ Battles of the Giants," for the perusal of

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