战“疫”平凡人:防控不出门 课本送上门

Meanwhile the Whigs were anxious to add fresh security to their own lease of office. At the last election they had procured the return of a powerful majority; but two years out of the triennial term had expired, and they looked with apprehension to the end of the next year, when a dissolution must take place. They were aware that there were still strong plottings and secret agitations for the restoration of the banished dynasty. By both the king and his Ministers all Tories were regarded as Jacobites, and it was resolved to keep them out of office, and, as much as possible, out of Parliament. They had the power in their own hands in this Parliament, and, in order to keep it, they did not hesitate to destroy that Triennial Act for which their own party had claimed so much credit in 1694, and substitute a Septennial Act in its place. They would thereby give to their own party in Parliament more than a double term of the present legal possession of their seats. Instead of one year, they would be able to look forward four years without any fear of[33] Tory increase of power through a new election. On the 10th of April, Devonshire, Lord Steward of the Household, moved the repeal of the Triennial Act, long lauded as one of the bulwarks of our liberties, under the now convenient plea that it had been "found very grievous and burthensome, by occasioning much greater and more continued expenses in order to elections of members to serve in Parliament, and more lasting heats and animosities amongst the subjects of this realm than ever were known before the said clause was enacted."

Whilst the Opposition was in the dejection of disappointed hopes, suddenly there arose an explosion of popular opinion against the Catholics, stimulated and led on by an insane fanatic, which threatened the most direful consequences, and produced sufficiently frightful onesthe so-called Gordon Riots. The Irish Bill was read a second time in the House of Lords on the 23rd of July. It was strongly opposed by the Duke of Wellington, as transferring the electoral power of the country from the Protestants to the Roman Catholics. Lord Plunket, in reply, said, "One fact, I think, ought to satisfy every man, not determined against conviction, of its wisdom and necessity. What will the House think when I inform them that the representatives of seventeen of those boroughs, containing a population of 170,000 souls, are nominated by precisely seventeen persons? Yet, by putting an end to this iniquitous and disgraceful system, we are, forsooth, violating the articles of the union, and overturning the Protestant institutions of the country! This is ratiocination and statesmanlike loftiness of vision with a vengeance! Then it seems that besides violating the union Act we are departing from the principles of the measure of 1829. I deny that. I also deny the assumption of the noble Duke, that the forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised on that occasion merely for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant interests in Ireland. The forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised, not because they were what are called 'Popish electors,' but because they were in such indigent circumstances as precluded their exercising their[353] suffrage right independently and as free agentsbecause they were an incapable constituency." The Bill, after being considered in committee, where it encountered violent opposition, was passed by the Lords on the 30th of July, and received the Royal Assent by commission on the 7th of August. H. M. Sandford, made Lord Mount Sandford.

The Irish delegates described the condition of Ireland as most deplorable. They said that the Government interest, through the landed aristocracy, was omnipotent; that the manufacturers were unemployed; that an infamous coalition had taken place between the Irish Opposition and Ministry; that the Catholics had been bought up so that all parties might combine to crush Reform; that the United Irishmen were everywhere persecuted, and that one of them had only just escaped from a six months' imprisonment.

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