Sivut kuvina

summer's morning at nine o'clock. The railway company, even in those days, provided a separate compartment for the Prime Minister and his family. And Lord and Lady John found almost as much as the children to occupy and interest their minds. For the journey from Crewe was new to them all. Mr. Stephenson's tubular bridge across the Conway, the prototype of the still greater bridge over the Menai Straits, had just been completed. The travellers walked through it; and, while Lord John inspected it, Lady John had time to admire the magnificent ruins of the neighbouring castle. That night the Russells slept at Bangor; on the following day the weather was again propitious, and they crossed the straits, the workmen on the tubular bridge cheering heartily all the time; proceeded in a special train to Holyhead, where they found the Banshee, the fastest steamer afloat, ready to take them to Kingstown. There they landed amidst an immense crowd, through which they were escorted by the police; and Lady John felt some natural apprehensions for her husband's safety. But the crowd was rather curious than ill-natured, and the Russells arrived safely at the Viceregal Lodge. The visit incidentally gave Lord John the means of going to a place which had lately acquired a personal interest for him. Lord Ludlow, dying without issue, had left his property at Ardsalla in Meath to the Duke of Bedford; and, in January 1847, the Duke had intimated to Lord John his intention of settling it on him and his son." It was natural, therefore, that Lord John should desire, during his stay in Ireland, to visit a property in which he had so direct an interest. He found a good Elizabethan house in a pretty country on the banks of the Boyne; and, though in driving from Dublin he saw many wretched cabins and much careless farming, the people seemed on the whole more prosperous than he had expected to find them. Thus in almost every respect the short fortnight's visit to Ireland was productive both of advantage and pleasure. One disagreeable incident, however, was connected with it. Mr. Smith O'Brien, who was awaiting his trial, persuaded his counsel to serve a subpoena on Lord John to give evidence upon it. When Lord John, therefore, turned his back on Ireland on September 9, he had the disagreeable prospect of returning in a fortnight's time to be questioned and crossquestioned by Irish counsel on matters on which he could really throw no light. The sea, which was propitious on his arrival, favoured his departure, and he and his family arrived safely at Greenock. There they rested a couple of days, leaving on the 13th amidst much cheering for Perth, and proceeding on the 16th to Taymouth, where Lord John left his wife and children, and joined the Queen at Balmoral. He returned to Taymouth on September 21 ; and, reaching Glasgow on the 26th, he had the satisfaction of receiving a message from Lord Clarendon that his presence at Mr. Smith O'Brien's trial would not be required. This welcome news enabled him to alter his plans; and, embarking at Greenock on the Banshee, which had been sent to carry him to Ireland, he steamed up Loch Fyne to Inverary. More than forty years had passed since in his boyish journal he had pronounced the castle the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He returned to it now as Prime Minister; and his wife, unconsciously imitating his forgotten language, described it in her diary as ‘this most glorious place. After a short stay at Inverary the party travelled to Oban and Callander, through the Trossachs to Edinburgh and Minto, whence in the middle of October they returned to Richmond. During this tour the state of things which he had witnessed in Ireland, and his conversations with Lord Clarendon, had largely occupied Lord. John’s thoughts. For the fourth year in succession the potato was failing; famine was again imminent; and, though the population of Ireland was decreasing at the rate of 250,000 persons a year, it was no longer possible to doubt that the people were too numerous for the soil. Lord Clarendon consequently favoured, and Lord John was inclined to adopt, a large and well-considered scheme of emigration. This measure alone, however, was not likely to bring peace to Ireland. The Roman Catholic clergy, dependent for their livelihood on the contributions of their congregations, were necessarily sharing the distress of their flocks; and Lord John thought the moment opportune for reverting to the scheme—which he had favoured for ten years—of making some provision out of the resources of the State for the priests of the Church of Rome. He felt, however, that, while such a proposition was certain to excite the rancour of extreme Protestants, it would be useless if it were not accepted as a boon by the Roman Catholics; and, at Lord Clarendon's suggestion, he opened his mind to Mr. Redington, who, as Under-Secretary to the Irish Government, as a large Irish landlord, and as a Roman Catholic, was specially qualified to advise him. Premising that the proposal should not be made without the concurrence of the Pope, and unless there was a fair chance of its being carried—premising also that the provision, which should be sufficient and complete, should be raised by a tax on Ireland–Lord John proposed to set aside a sum of 4.5oo,ooo a year, for the endowment of the clergy, the provision of glebes, and the repair of chapels, to be raised by a land-tax of 1s 6d. in the pound, and by a house-tax on houses of £1o value and upwards. As this taxation would produce more than the requisite half million, Lord John proposed to devote any surplus to emigration, and to the relief of those unions which could not bear the pressure of the poorrate. In a very long letter, of September 7, Mr. Redington, while fully acknowledging the liberality and wisdom of Lord John's intentions, pointed out that the Presbyterians of Ulster —the most loyal province of Ireland—would certainly resist a proposal for taxing them for the support of the Roman Catholic religion. He suggested, therefore, that the cost should be thrown on the Consolidated Fund; and, in order to recoup the necessary outlay, that the Irish Church should be ‘revised;’ that the whole of its revenues should be paid into the Exchequer; that full compensation should be made for all existing interests; and that the cost of a moderate and reduced establishment should also be paid by the State.

* In making this communication, the Duke referred to the uncertainty of human life, and said, ‘I have had two merciful escapes from assassination, while you have had one during the past year. Lady Russell is unable to recollect the incident to which the Duke referred. But it is probably that to which Mr. Greville alludes in Memoirs, part ii., iii. 65.

This correspondence showed plainly the extreme difficulty of doing anything. Mr. Redington, representing the opinions of the Irish, was practically declaring that the partial disendowment of the Irish Church must accompany and provide for the endowment of the Roman Catholic faith. Lord John, on the contrary, acquainted with feeling in England, with the opinion of many of his own colleagues, and recollecting the history of the Appropriation Clause, was painfully conscious of his inability to carry any such plan. Holding this opinion, he determined on approaching the Pope, and of ascertaining his view of the subject. He accordingly drew up the following memorandum for submission to the Pope, should the Cabinet concur in it —

The Queen's Government have under their consideration a proposition for making a provision by law for the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. Such provision to include stipends to the bishops and clergy, and adequate sums for the repair and maintenance of places of worship. Such provision, if proposed, would be made permanent. No interference with the spiritual independence or ecclesiastical arrangements of the Roman Catholic Church is in contemplation. The Queen's Government feel that in making such a proposition they would have not only to contend with the opposition of many of the Protestants of Great Britain, but also to overcome the repugnance of a considerable portion of the Roman Catholic body itself. Before they proceed further, therefore, they deem it right to inform the head of the Roman Catholic Church of their views. They consider that the poverty of the Roman Catholic clergy of the South of Ireland, and the miserable condition of their chapels, make it desirable that the State should interpose for the relief of the clergy and the due maintenance of the fabric of the places of worship. But they feel also that if in the opinion of the Pope such provision would be objectionable on any ground, religious or temporal, the prospect of being able to carry such a measure, or if carried of making it useful for the temporal welfare of Ireland, would be greatly obscured. This proposition is therefore submitted for the mature consideration of his Holiness, whose enlightened friendship for Great Britain, and whose regard for the Church over which he presides, are so universally known and acknowledged.

The proposal did not find much favour in the Cabinet. Its members, indeed, were agreed on the propriety and expediency of its principle, but they were alarmed at the small amount of support which it was likely to receive, and the large amount of opposition which it was certain to incur. The Pope, moreover, flying from the Vatican, was no longer able to exercise, as a fugitive, the influence which he had possessed as a sovereign. Circumstances thus compelled Lord John to abandon a proposal which had been occupying his attention ever since the withdrawal of the Appropriation Clause. But these circumstances made it all the more necessary to press forward some other large remedial measure; and accordingly both Lord John and Lord Clarendon were increasingly anxious to devise an adequate measure of emigration. There was, however, one grave difficulty in their path. The party in the Cabinet which followed the guidance of Lord Grey, and which comprised his brother-in-law Sir C. Wood, and his cousin Sir G. Grey, was strongly opposed to spending more money on Ireland. They thought that a remedy for the over-population of Ireland could only be found in the gradual operation of natural laws, and could not be discovered by creating a fresh demand for Irish labour. The true thing to do—so Sir Charles Wood frankly told Lord Clarendon—was to do nothing. And Lord Grey only differed from his brother-in-law in this conclusion because he was in favour of a scheme which, while doing something for Ireland, would do a great deal for Canada. The Canadians were anxious to construct a railway from Halifax to Quebec, and Iord Grey suggested that a loan of £5,000,000 might be advanced for the purpose, and that Irish emigrants might be

« EdellinenJatka »