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Manus hæc inimica tyrannis
Lord Molesworth, who relates this in his preface to his spirited account of Denmark, observes that, though M. Terlon understood not a word of Latin, he was told by others the meaning of the sentence, which he considered as a libel on the French Government, and upon such as was then setting up in Denmark by French assistance and example.
Algernon about this time published those Discourses on Government which have formed the favourite code of the republican party in all ages since.
When Richard Cromwell had resigned his protectorship and the Long Parliament was restored, and government without King or Lords, Sidney became one of the Council of State, and was sent to Denmark. At the Restoration he would not personally accept of the oblivion and indemnity generally granted to the whole nation, but continued abroad until 1677, when his father died. He then returned to England, and obtained from the King a particular pardon upon particular promises of constant and quiet obedience for the future.
We cannot be surprised, however, that a man of so noble and inflexible a character should be such a standing reproach to the most profligate King and Court that ever disgraced this country, that he must be got rid of, and accordingly in 1683 he was accused of being concerned in the Rye-house Plot; and after Lord Russell had been examined he was next brought before the King and Council.
He said that he would make the best defence he could, if they had any proof against him, but would not fortify their evidence by anything he should say, so that the examination was very short. He was arraigned for high treason before the bloodthirsty Jeffreys, and was found guilty by a packed jury. After his conviction he sent to the Marquis of Halifax, who was his nephew by marriage, a paper to be laid before the King, containing the main points of his defence; upon which he appealed to the King and desired he would review the whole matter, but this had no other effect, except only to respite his execution for three weeks. When the warrant for his execution was brought, he told the sheriff that he would not expostulate anything on his own account, for the world was nothing to him; but he desired it might be considered how guilty they were of his blood, who had not returned a fair jury, but one packed and as directed by the King's solicitor.
He was beheaded on Tower Hill, where he delivered a written paper to the sheriff, on the 7th of December 1683, but his attainder was reversed in the first year of William and Mary. Hume admits that “the execution of Sidney is regarded as one of the greatest blemishes of the reign of Charles the Second, and that the evidence against him was not legal.' There can be no doubt that Charles was determined to get rid of a man of whom Burnet says, ' He was stiff to all republican principles; and such an enemy to everything that looked like monarchy, that he set himself in opposition to Cromwell when he was made Protector. He had studied the history of government in all its branches beyond any man I ever knew.'
He left behind him the Discourses upon Government, the first edition of which was in 1698, the second in 1704 folio. To the second was added the paper he delivered to the sheriff immediately before his death, with an alphabetical table. They also formed one of the publications of Mr. Thomas Hollis in favour of republicanism in 1763, 4to, with a life in which the writer or writers declare that they cannot wish a greater or more extensive blessing to the world than that it may be everywhere read, and its principles universally received and propagated.'
TADES P. LEY, M.A. Cantab.]
AFTER the lost battle of Municipal Reform, there was a change of administration; and Sir Robert Peel, who had long controlled the policy of Lord John Russell from the left hand of the Chair, undertook the direct responsibility of governing. He began by the traditional expedient of repression. It was the era of monster meetings and the memorable Repeal Agitation of 1843. One of O'Connell's meetings was prohibited by proclamation, and he and half-a-dozen of his political associates were prosecuted for a conspiracy to excite disaffection in the army and to intimidate the Legislature. In truth, O'Connell no more designed to create disaffection in the army, in any dangerous sense, than to commit highway robbery; and what was called intimidation of the Legislature was the ordinary constitutional method of promoting a public cause—the identical method by which an English Reform Bill had been carried a dozen years before. But the Irish law officers, by devices with which they were long familiar, obtained a verdict for the Crown, and the convicted conspirators were sent to gaol before a writ of error which they sued out could be heard.
When it was heard, the counsel for the prisoners laid bare a strange spectacle. The imputed offence was not legally charged in the indictment, which was strained from its natural sense ; and certain of the counts were bad, in the language of pleading, either for generality or duplicity. The jury was not a legal jury of the country, but was taken from a jurors' book which had been tampered with to the extent of secretly abstracting over sixty names. The verdict was not a legal verdict, inasmuch as the jury were sworn to try one issue, and they had found on no less than three distinct issues. The judgment of the Court was unlawful, for the traversers were sentenced for offences of which they were not legally convicted. And the charge of the Chief Justice had been a public scandal. The proceedings in the Irish Court were peremptorily overruled, and the gentlemen, who had been unlawfully imprisoned for three months, set at liberty. This exposure greatly moved public opinion, and, what was more material, touched deeply the judgment and conscience of
the Minister. He was then entering on the second period of his public career, in which, from an adroit party leader, he aimed to become a national statesman. He turned his defeat in the Irish trials into a victory by courage and magnanimity. He broke abruptly with the past, and in lieu of repression determined to have recourse to large measures of concession. He took Parliament into his confidence with unaccustomed frankness, and announced as a new departure the principle which is supposed to have since governed legislation for Ireland. “You must break up the formidable conspiracy which exists against the British Government and the British connection, he said. “I do not believe you can break it up by force, but you may break it up by acting in a spirit of kindness, forbearance, and generosity. His first measure was a bill to endow Maynooth College for the education of the Catholic clergy. The grant for this purpose, which was the subject of an annual mêlée in Parliament, he proposed to withdraw from debate by making it a permanent appropriation, and at the same time to increase it from 9,0001. to 26,000l. a year. Five or six hundred pounds a month was not an extravagant allowance for the payment of professors and the maintenance of students destined to instruct seven millions of the people, in a country where the clergy of less than three-quarters of a million of Church of England Protestants had a university with munificent endowments derived from the confiscation of Catholic property. But the people of England did not share the Minister's desire to exhibit kindness, forbearance, and generosity. The proposal was met with a howl of execration. The Corporation of London and three thousand other cities, towns, or parishes in England petitioned against it. Peel was denounced as a new Judas Iscariot; and the minority who monopolised all public advantages in Ireland, threatened him, through their press and their spokesmen, that they would become Repealers if a religion antagonistic to that of the State were endowed. He persisted with admirable courage, and carried into law a measure entirely fair and just within the narrow scope of its operation. The length it went was to grant annually for the education of the clergy of the majority less than one-thirtieth part of what was provided for the education and support of the clergy of the minority. Taking the relative numbers of the two classes into account, the disproportion almost evades arithmetic. But it was a genuine boon, and was received with thanks and gratitude.
His second measure was one to establish Colleges for the education of the middle class on principles of perfect religious equality. I am persuaded that it was as honest and generous in design as the Maynooth Act, though it was marred by some serious blemishes. But it met a widely different reception.
O'Connell and his favourite son took a decided stand against it; while the Young Irelanders, a mciety of the Catholic bishops, and the educated class almost without
exception warmly supported it. The blemishes might have been removed, it might have been made a measure of unmixed benefit, and two generations of young Irishmen, who have since fought the battle of life at a fatal disadvantage, might have been adequately taught and trained under it. But angry passions sprang up, party intrigue intervened (for there were Whigs jealous of Peel's success in conciliating Ireland), and in the end a great design was rendered abortive. There were faults on all sides, but the balance of them, it is only just to admit, was not chargeable on Sir Robert Peel.
His third proposal was a Land Bill, introduced by Lord Stanley, then a great Irish proprietor. But the principles of agrarian reform were still imperfectly understood, and it was in effect quite worthless. It did not recognise existing improvements, which had cost the tenants untold millions; the compensation to be granted for future improvements applied to drains and farm buildings exclusively, and was claimable only in case of ejectment; and, what was worse, it abolished by inference the tenant-right of the North. The scheme proved on scrutiny to be so futile, except where it was mischievous, that it was laughed out of Parliament.
The next measure was not free from that adroit plausibility which is charged, with justice I think, on his early career. If ever there was a catastrophe which appealed to the highest instincts of statesmanship, and touched the deepest springs of human sympathy, it was the famine which declared itself in Ireland in the autumn of 1845. The bulk of the nation was threatened with destruction by the failure of their ordinary food-and by no fault of their own, for they had been kept habitually on the verge of famine by a shameful agrarian code, which may be said without exaggeration to have been steeped in their blood; and now the Parliament and Government, which were responsible for their condition, had to consider how they could be fenced from complete ruin. What ought to have been done under the circumstances ? The same danger in a far less degree threatened other nations in Europe, and they adopted a natural and obvious remedy; they forbade the export of cereals from the country. Ireland is a granary; notwithstanding the potato blight, it produced much more than sufficient food for the entire population. The cereal crop had never been more abundant, and the remedy adopted in Hungary, Belgium, and Switzerland, would have made a famine impossible. Such a precaution was nowhere so necessary as in Ireland, for in Ireland alone the landed proprietors were sweeping the corn and cattle out of the island by every port, to make sure of their rents at any risk to the lives of the people. The case of England was quite different. There the industrious classes did not live on potatoes, and the blight scarcely affected them at all; but the island does not grow wheat enough for half the population, and they have to depend largely on foreign supplies. Sir Robert Peel by this time had arrived at the conviction that the artificial system of keeping up the price of corn for the benefit of landowners which then existed, and of which he had been the most skilful defender, was unjust to a manufacturing country, and he made the Irish Famine the occasion and pretence of repealing the Corn Laws. Ireland did not want the remedy of letting in foreign corn, since there was corn enough and to spare at home, and the device did not prove a remedy, for the people perished of starvation notwithstanding the opening of the ports; but it conferred a substantial benefit on England. Suppose in the Lancashire famine of later times, which arose from the want of American cotton to keep the artisans employed, some statesman, anxious lest the supply of calico should fall short in London, had proposed as a boon to the manufacturing districts the importation of shirting and sheeting from Belgium, he would have rivalled the policy of repealing the Corn Laws as a remedy for the Irish calamity. The people knew that their lives were at stake, and when no intelligible relief was promised, agrarian disturbances and agrarian crimes increased alarmingly. The Government met them as they were often met before, and have often been met since. The establishment of Free Trade was accompanied by a Coercion Bill for the punishment of those who thought the remedy preposterously insufficient. Lord John Russell, who had welcomed the Coercion Bill on its introduction, and the Protectionists, under Lord George Bentinck and Mr. Disraeli, who professed themselves ready to support it if it were only pressed on before the repeal of the Corn Laws, united with the handful of Irish members who were defending the liberty of their country, and the measure was rejected on its second reading. The Ministry retired, and the career of Sir Robert Peel was brought to a premature close. Had he remained in office till his Free Trade panacea failed, his provident and practical intellect would probably have discovered some more effectual remedy; but he fell before a conspiracy of greed and vengeance, and a crisis among the gravest crises in human history was abandoned for guidance to the purblind eyes of insincerity and imbecility. One of his last acts was to lay down in specific terms the principle which he believed ought to govern, and which is supposed to have since governed, legislation between the two islands.
Before retiring from office, he renewed his declaration that there ought to be complete equality of civil and political rights between Great Britain and Ireland, so that no one should be at liberty to say a different rule existed in the two countries. In public employments, he was of opinion that the favour of the Crown should be bestored without reference to religious distinctions. He admitted that the tenure of land, and the relation of landlord and tenant in Ireland, required immediate consideration, and he had already broken completely with Protestant ascendency. He rebuked the bigots in Parliament, by reminding them that when England wanted a station in the Mediterranean she undertook to support the Catholic religion in Malta in order to obtain it; that when she wanted