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Mr. Napier, and numerous other Members—It is opposed, among others, by Mr. Philip Howard, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Hume, Mr. Moore, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Keogh, Mr. A. B. Hope, Mr. Oswald, and Mr. Frederick Peel—On a Division the Motion for leave to introduce the Bill is carried by 395 against 63; Majority, 332.
AT the opening of the year 1851, one prominent subject engrossed the minds of the community, and superseded all other topics of political speculation— the Papal Aggression, and the measures likely to be adopted to counteract it. The ferment that the Papal brief had created throughout the kingdom, as described in the preceding volume of this work, had in no degree subsided, but appeared rather to increase in intensity as the usual period for the meeting of Parliament drew near. Second only in interest to this absorbing subject, the preparations for the opening of the Great Exhibition of Industry of all Nations diverted the public mind in a great measure from the interest usually concentrated on party politics or schemes of legislation. It was the general expectation that, with the exception of the measures necessary to abate the pretensions of the Papal See, the forthcoming session would prove rather barren of legislative results, and that the administration of Lord John Russell, though weak and tending to decline, would be suffered to tide quietly over a season devoted by anticipation to the gaieties aud festivities of the great Jubilee of Commerce. In some respects it will be seen that these predictions were verified by the result, though with regard to the destinies of the Government, they were somewhat less accurate. The general condition of the country, so far as regards revenue, commerce, employment, and the cir
cumstances of the labouring population, was prosperous and hopeful; and, with the exception of the farmers, still struggling with the difficulties of low and unremunerating prices for their corn, there was an absence of complaint, and a marked diminution of pauperism and distress. Such was the posture of affairs when, on the 4th of February, Her Majesty opened Parliament in person with the following Speech from the Throne: —
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is with great satisfaction that I again meet my Parliament, and resort to your advice and assistance in the consideration of measures which affect the welfare of our country.
"I continue to maintain the relations of peace and amity with Foreign Powers, It has been my endeavour to induce the States of Germany to carry into full effect the provisions of the treaty with Denmark which was concluded at Berlin in the month of July of last year. I am much gratified in being able to inform you that the German Confederation and the Government of Denmark are now engaged in fulfilling the stipulations of that treaty, and thereby putting an end to hostilities which at one time appeared full of danger to the peace of Europe.
"I trust that the affairs of Germany may be arranged by mutual agreement, in such a manner as to preserve the strength of the Confederation and to maintain the freedom of its separate States.
"I have concluded with the King of Sardinia articles additional to the treaty of September, 1841, and I have directed that those articles shall be laid before you.
"The Government of Brazil has taken new, and, I hope, efficient measures for the suppression of the atrocious traffic in slaves.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I have directed the estimates of the year to be prepared and laid before you without delay. They have been framed with a due regard to economy, and to the necessities of the public service.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
Notwithstanding the large reductions of taxation which have been effected in late years, the receipts of the revenue have been satisfactory.
"The state of the commerce and manufactures of the United Kingdom has been such as to afford general employment to the labouring classes.
"I have to lament, however, the difficulties which are still felt by that important body among my people who are owners and occupiers of land. But it is my confident hope, that the prosperous condition of other classes of my subjects will have a favourable effect in diminishing those difficulties, and promoting the interests of agriculture.
"The recent assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles conferred by a Foreign Power has excited strong feelings in this country; and large bodies of my subjects have presented addresses to me, expressing attachment to the Throne, and praying that such assumptions should be resisted. I
have assured them of my resolution to maintain the rights of my Crown, and the independence of the nation, against all encroachment, from whatever quarter it may proceed. I have, at the same time, expressed my earnest desire and firm determination, under God's blessing, to maintain unimpaired the religious liberty which is so justly prized by the people of this country. It will be for you to consider the measure which will be laid before you on this subject. "The administration of justice in the several departments of Law and Equity will, no doubt, receive the serious attention of Parliament; and I feel confident that the measures which may be submitted, with a view of improving that administration, will be discussed with that mature deliberation which important changes in the highest courts of judicature in the kingdom imperatively demand. "A measure will be laid before you providing for the establishment of a system of registration of deeds and instruments relating to the transfer of property. This measure is the result of inquiries which I have caused to be made into the practicability of adopting a system of registration calculated to give security to titles, and to diminish the causes of litigation, to which they have hitherto been liable, and to reduce the cost of transfers.
"To combine the progress of improvement with the stability of our institutions will, I am confident, be your constant care. We may esteem ourselves fortunate that we can pursue, without disturbance, the course of calm and peaceable amelioration; and we have every cause to be thankful to Almighty God for the measure of tranquillity and happiness which has been vouchsafed to us."
In the House of Lords, the Address was moved by the Earl of Effingham, who first called the attention of the House to those subjects in the Speech from the Throne which afforded matter for unmingled congratulation. Such were—the settlement of the Danish question on the basis of the peace of July; the maintenance of general peace; the announcement that the Brazils were about to adopt more vigorous measures for the extirpation of the slave trade; and the satisfactory state of the revenue after the reductions effected in taxation during the last session. The noble Lord then went on to regret the existence of considerable distress among the owners and occupiers of land, remarking, however, that it was most undeniable that the labouring population in the agricultural districts had never been better off than they were at that moment, and expressing his conviction that the energy and industry of the British farmer would ultimately bear him through all his difficulties. Turning, lastly, to the question of Papal aggression, he declared that the step lately taken by the Pope was such as would never have been tolerated in this country in Roman Catholic times, nor would be tolerated in any Roman Catholic country in the present day. It was necessary, therefore, that this insolent assumption of supremacy should be repressed; and he was glad to learn that a measure would be laid before them, which, while it did not violate the principles of religious toleration, would extinguish the attempt to introduce a Roman Catholic hierarchy into England with territorial designations. The
noble Lord then sat down, after moving the Address, which was a mere echo of the Speech.
Lord Cremorne having seconded the Address,
Lord Stanley said he was of opinion that, unless the Speech from the Throne contained principles or language which it was impossible to overlook, it was more respectful to the Crown, and more advantageous to the public service, that the Address in reply to it should be voted with unanimity. Although, therefore, he was not altogether satisfied with the Speech, he would at once declare that it was not the intention of himself or his friends to propose any hostile amendment on the present occasion. He would simply content himself with a few observations on some of the points mentioned in the Speech. As far as the foreign relations of the country were concerned, it seemed that the Foreign Office had been less actively employed than was usual in the recess. It was, doubtless, satisfactory to learn that the Danish disputes were on the eve of adjustment, but, perhaps, that happy result was rather to be attributed to the firm attitude assumed by the Emperors of Austria and Russia than to the intervention of Her Majesty's Government. Though he looked with some faint hope to the execution of the treaties entered into by Brazil for the suppression of the slave trade, he could not refrain from calling their Lordships' attention to the fact that this country could apply a more powerful engine than any treaties for its prevention, by the abrogation of the commercial regulations which encouraged that abominable traffic. It was satisfactory, too, to find that the ruin of those connected with land, whether as owners or occupiers, was this year treated with some little respect, and that the reasonable nature of their complaints was acknowledged by the Government; but his satisfaction would have been more complete if Her Majesty had informed them that the sufferings of the loyal agricultural interest were about to be alleviated by legislative enactments. There was a large surplus in the exchequer; all interests save one, and that the most important, were prosperous; why, then, he would ask, was not that surplus applied in diminishing agricultural distress? which was to be attributed to free trade, and free trade alone. Credit, too, had been taken for the way in which the Irish Encumbered Estates Act had worked; but he considered, as a general rule, that it was not desirable for the social interests of a country to break up the old connection between landlord and tenant, and to substitute a new class of proprietors for those who, with their ancestors, had owned land for centuries. With regard to the recent step taken by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, it was impossible to deny that an insolent aggression had been made on the supremacy of the English Crown. He did not desire to deprive his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects of any of their civil or religious rights, but this was a political, far more than a religious, question, and if the Government dealt with it fearlessly and vigorously, they would have the assent and support of their political opponents and the country at large.
The Duke of Richmond was not surprised at the result of free trade, for it was plain that the
British farmer, hampered as he was with taxation, could not compete successfully with foreigners. They had been told that the prosperity enjoyed at present by the manufacturing interest would ultimately reach agriculturists, but he wished to know what was to become of the tenant-farmers of England whilst they were waiting for that. They were, he was happy to say, at the present moment loyal, but he declared to heaven that he should wonder if they long remained so. The noble Duke continued at some length to animadvert upon the manufacturers, and describe the sufferings of the tenant-farmers, and then devoted a few words to the Papal aggression, which had not taken him by surprise. He had opposed Roman Catholic emancipation to the last, and they now saw the results to which that unfortunate measure had led. Under these circumstances, and highly approving Lord John Russell's letter to the Bishop of Durham, he should detain them no longer than to express a hope that they would pass practical measures both to restrain the Papal aggression, and to relieve the agriculturists. He had spent a great deal of money in improvements, but he would never spend another shilling unless protection were restored, for he was not one who liked sending good money after bad.
The Earl of Winchilsea said, that England had never been so humiliated or degraded as at the present moment, when she had been insulted by the Bishop of Rome. He only hoped the Government measure would be such as to sustain those great Protestant principles which had made England great and free.
Lord Camoys said that he was a
Roman Catholic, as his forefathers had been for centuries, but at the same time he was an Englishman, and the rights and liberties of England were as dear to him as any of their Lordships. He admitted the spiritual supremacy of tho Queen over the Established Church to the fullest extent that the most orthodox members of that church could desire, and he acknowledged the supremacy of the Pope over the Roman Catholic population of this country in spiritual matters; but as to any other assumption of power over this country on the part of the Pope, or any undue exercise of his spiritual power over its population,— Against any such aggression, he felt it to be his duty to protest .
The Marquis of Lansdowne commenced his speech by a tribute of acknowledgment to Lord Camoys—
"It afforded reason for additional admiration of those sentiments, that they emanated from a man connected by hereditary ties for centuries with the Roman Catholic body in England; and he believed he might safely assert, that such sentiments, emanating from such a quarter, would outweigh a hundredfold with the nation the effect of proceedings originating in the most profound ignorance of the past history and present condition and feeling of this country.
"With reference to some particular matters of the Address, his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley) had indeed hinted a fault and hesitated dislike, but on all its leading topics, and on the general policy it indicated, expressed his entire concurrence. He suggested that our foreign policy had flourished more from inaction and in
difference than from active operation; but throughout all the transactions, throughout all the difficult negotiations which had been taking place in relation to the affairs of the various German States, the policy of this country, So far from having been a merely acquiescing policy, had been eminently active and effective. Not a week had passed in which the interference of this country had not been employed, and acknowledged to have been so employed, by the various States which had been involved in the conflicting interests engaged. The animadversions on our financial policy were best answered by the facts. While Lord Lansdowne admitted, of course, that distress might prevail in some particular districts, he was prepared to contend that the condition of the great bulk of the population—and he included in his view the agricultural population—had been gradually and materially improving. Year after year had great taxes been taken off, yet now again this year the Government found itself in a position to hold out to the country the prospect of still further reductions of taxation.
Lord Lansdowne briefly spoke his own sentiments on the most interesting topic of the Address. Whatever the variety of sentiment which had been put forward in debate upon that topie, he rejoiced to find that not a word had been uttered—not even by the noble Earl (of Winchilsea)—to the prejudice of that free toleration which ought to be extended, which had been extended, and which he trusted would always be extended, to the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Great Britain ; and God forbid that, under the pressure of any circumstances, of any provocation,