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whole, and reported to the house. Mr. Polk then attempted to defeat it, by a motion to lay it on the table. This motion was negatived, ayes 43, nays 71, and the bill passed the house, but,
Mr. Grundy objecting in the senate to its being read a second time on the same day, as contrary to rule, it was lost in the senate.
Dissolution of Parliament.-Elections.-Meeting of Reformed Parliament.-Re-election of Speaker.-Debate on Address.Condition of Ireland.-Bill for repressing Disturbances.Proclamation of Lord Lieutenant.--Suppression of Irish Volunteers.-Do. of National Trades Union.-Reform of Irish Church.-Abolition of Slavery in Colonies.-East India Company-Renewal of Charter.-China Trade Free.-Bank of England.-Renewal of Charter.-Factory Children Bill. Parochial Saving Banks Bill.-Reduction of Taxes.-Tumult in Cold Bath Fields.
THE third of December, 1832, was the commencement of a new era in the history of Great Britain. On that day the last parliament, under the system of close burroughs, was dissolved, and writs were issued, returnable on the 29th of the succeeding month, for a new parliament, in which the commons of England should be more directly represented. A warm contest ensued between the respective parties, for the supremacy in the new house. The tory party, although defeated, was still strong, and determined not to retire from the field where they had so long held the ascendancy.
There were many strongholds in their possession, from which they had resolved not to be driven without a desperate struggle. On the other hand, the whigs deemed the reformation in the house of commons merely as the beginning of reform. The East India company, the corporate privileges in all parts of the empire, the Episcopal church, and the public expenditure, were prominent objects demanding the attention of a reforming administration.
Besides these parties which had so long represented the English nation, there was a new party which called for a more
radical reform. Although this party supported the ministers in their reforming measures, they could not be depended upon as staunch supporters. Their radical views were inconsistent with the cautious policy of Lord Grey's administration, and it was not improbable that the end of the session would find them arrayed in hostility against those with whom they had co-operated.
The Irish members who advocated the repeal of the Union, were upon the same terms of dubious friendship, and the ministerial party did not really possess the overwhelming majo. rity over their opponents, that the returns indicated.
The elections terminated in the return of upwards of 400 in favour of the administration, 150 tories, and nearly 100 of radicals, Irish repealers, and independents.
No event of public importance took place before the meeting of parliament, on the 29th of January.
After parliament had been opened in due form, by the lord chancellor, and others acting as commissioners,
the commons retired to elect a speaker. Mr. Hume immediately urged the propriety of electing a whig member to that office, and moved that Edward John Littleton should be placed in the chair. This motion was seconded by Mr. O'Connell; but lord Morpeth rose, and after highly eulogizing the ability and experience of Charles Manners Sutton, pro
posed that he should be re-elected. This was seconded by Sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Littleton also urged that Mr. Hume should not press a division.
This, however, was called for; when Mr. Sutton was elected, 241 to 31.
The house, after some discussion as to the retiring pension of the speaker, (which had been voted to Mr Sutton,) then adjourned, and on the 5th of February, the king's speech was delivered.*
In the discussion on the address, but little was said in the house of lords, and that chiefly in relation to the policy pursued towards Holland and Portugal, which was pointedly condemned by lord Aberdeen, and the duke of Wellington.
In the house of commons, the discussion was more animated, and Mr. O'Connell vehemently denounced the policy recommended towards Ireland, bloody and brutal. He was replied to by Mr. Stanley, in a most masterly manner, and the house rejected Mr. O'Connell's motion to go into committee on the address, ayes 40, nays 428. The address was finally agreed to.
The state of Ireland, which had been growing more gloomy daily, now imperiously demanded the attention of government.
The fury of the peasantry was so fearfully increased by the tithe agitation, that the clergy of the English church were compelled to flee from their homes by
threats of assassination.
* This will be found page 364 Appendix.
The White-feet prowled through the country, committing the most atrocious murders. Society was completely disorganized, and probably no nation in modern times, not even jacobin France, presented a worse spectacle of crime, rapine and bloodshed, than Ireland exhibited in 1832. Mr. O'Connell, in the mean time, proceeded with his plan of agitation, and on the 18th of January met his self-styled national council of Irish representatives at Dublin.
Nothing of importance was done at this meeting, and the interest excited by the proceedings in parliament, soon caused the national council to be forgotten.
The inefficiency of the existing laws to preserve the peace of the country, now began to be strongly pressed upon the government from all quarters. Meanwhile the new tithe act, passed in the beginning of June, by which the right of collecting tithes was transferred to the government, experienced as determined a resistance on the part of the peasantry as had been offered to the exaction when it was made by the clergy. The agitation for the repeal of the Union, too, now that the proclamation act had expired by the rising of parliament, was renewed with increased zeal and activity; and, urged in all the forms of popular excitement,was rapidly making head against the utmost efforts of the government to discourage and put it down.
The ministry had at length become convinced that this state of disorder required a remedy, which was proposed in the bill for suppressing disturbances offered in the house of lords, on the 15th of Feb., by lord Grey.
This bill authorized the lord lieutenant to suppress any public assemblage deemed by him inconsistent with the administration of the law; and two justices of the peace were empowered to enter by force into any place where such assemblage was held, and order it to disperse,persons refusing to obey to be punished by imprisonment. The lord lieutenant was also empowered to proclaim any district to be in a disturbed state, and all meetings in such district for petitioning or discussing any political grievances, were to be deemed unlawful, without the consent of the lord lieutenant. Any person attending to be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and to be tried and punished by a court martial. Persons out of the house in such proclaimed district, were to be liable to arrest, and to be punished for a misdemeanour; and all houses therein to be searched under a peace warrant, for arms, or to ascertain if the occupants are within; and if arms are found, or if the occupants are absent without a lawful excuse, it is to be deemed a misdemeanour. Other severe provisions were inserted, arming the government with powers utterly inconsistent with civil freedom; but lord
Grey made such strong statements of the unhappy condition of Ireland, that the bill was generally assented to in the house of lords.
Among other statements, he asserted, that in the year 1832, the number of homicides was 242, robberies 1179, burglaries 401, burnings 568, riots 203, firings with murderous intent 328, and that the various crimes growing out of the disturbed state of the country, amounted to 9002 within the year. In the house of commons the bill was more earnestly opposed, and the debate on the second reading was protracted through eight sittings. It was ordered to a second reading on the 11th of March, 363 ayes, 84 nays.
In committee, many attempts were made to amend it, but the opponents of the bill were left in small minorities, except as to an amendment acquiesced in by the ministers, preventing the powers of the act from being employed merely to collect tithes, which was carried, 284 to 81.
The bill was finally carried, 345 to 86, and became a law on the 2nd of April. Its powers were not long left in disuse. On the 6th of April the lord lieutenant proclaimed the city and county of Kilkenny to be in a state of disturbance, and ordered all its inhabitants to remain in doors after sunset.
On the 10th, he suppressed by proclamation the Irish volunteers, and on the 17th, the national Trades Political Union.
These decided steps had the
effect of producing a state of comparative tranquillity, which lasted until nearly the close of the year, when fresh symptoms of agitation became visible.
Before that time, however, in the month of September, the Marquis of Anglesea resigned, and lord Wellesley was appointed lord lieutenant in his place.
The tranquillity of Ireland was perhaps not altogether owing to the energetic measures adopted by the government. As much efficacy, probably, might be attributed to the plan for the reform of the Irish church, which was brought forward by lord Althorp, on the 12th of February, a few days before proposing the bill suppressing disturbances.
Its leading provisions consisted in reducing the bishoprics, by uniting the sees as the incumbents die, from 22 to 10: by reducing the income of the primate from £14,500 to £10,000; that of the bishop of Derry from £12,559, to £8000, and ultimately to £6000; the revenuesof the other sees were to be reduced by a tax of five per cent. on all below £4000; 10 per cent. on all between £5000 and £10,000; 12 per cent. on all between £10,000 and £15,000: and 15 per cent. on all above that sum.
From all livings betwee £200 and £500, a tax of five per cent. was to be deducted; from all between £500 and £700, a tax of six per cent.; from all between £700 and £800, a tax of seven per cent.; from all between £800 and £1000, a tax of 10 per cent.; from all between 1000 and £1200, a tax of 12 per cent.; on