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conscience had returned upon him. This caused dreadful alarm in the tabernacles of the Whigs, the understrappers of which faction, who had scarcely as yet touched the second half-year's salary, ran about in a fright as great as that of people who feel an earthquake under their feet. To make a young man of sound mind in sound body resolve never to be a state-dependent, to hedge or ditch or fill dung-cart, rather than depend on a government for food and raiment, there needed nothing but the bare sight of these wretched people at that time.
81. Their fears were but too well founded, though the chiefs of the faction did every-thing in their power to preserve their places. They not only offered to withdraw the Catholic bill, but actually withdrew it, and that, too, by the hands of that same Lord HowICK (now Earl Grey) who had brought it in amidst the plaudits of that same House, who now, on the 18th of March, without a single word, suffered that very bill to be withdrawn! But, the doctrine that the Whigs now openly avowed, and which we shall presently have to notice, exhibited the nature of this " beautiful constitution" in its true light. They withdrew the bill; but the Catholics, to whom they stood solemnly pledged, were coming with a petition for the bill that had been thus withdrawn. The ministers (having no thought of quitting their places), therefore, in
the hope of pacifying the Catholics, and of preserving some little matter of character for political consistency and honesty, entered, in the Council-Book, a minute in these words: "That 66 they trusted that his majesty would see the in"dispensable necessity of their expressing, on "withdrawing the bill, the strong persuasion "they felt of the benefits which would result "from a different course of policy to the Catho "lics of Ireland; and they further stated, that "it was indispensable to their characters, that "they should openly avow these sentiments, not "only on the present occasion, but in the event "of the Catholic petition coming forward: and "they further insisted, that the present deference "to his majesty might not be understood as re"straining them from submitting for his ma"jesty's decision, from time to time, such meaCC sures as circumstances might require respecting "the state of Ireland."
82. The king, or rather Perceval, seems to have had no idea of the possibility of the Whig ministry remaining in office after they had been told that the king disapproved of the bill; he must, indeed, have regarded it as impossible that any men on earth could be so base as to withdraw, for the sake of retaining their places, a measure which they had repeatedly represented as "absolutely necessary to the tranquillity and safety of the kingdom." Alas! well as he knew
them, he greatly underrated the extent of their political meanness and servility. He was, therefore, astonished when he found them still clinging to their places on the miserable shuffle contained in this minute of council; and, therefore, to make short work with them, to choke them off as it were, the king was advised, not only to express his disapprobation of this minute of council, but to require of the ministers that they should withdraw it too; and, further, that they should sign a declaration of a directly opposite nature, pledging themselves never to bring forward again. the measure they had abandoned; nay more, never to propose, even to the king himself, anything connected with the Catholic question.
83. If this had failed, the king must have set fire to Whitehall and Downing-street. It succeeded, however, not because the Whigs would not have signed even this declaration, if they could have hoped that they could thereby have retained their places; but they saw in this paper not the hand and the mind of the poor old king, but of somebody else, and they could see that that somebody, or those somebodies, who were indeed Perceval and his party, had got the power of turning them out; and that, therefore, even the signing of this declaration, degrading as it would have been, would not save them. Having refused to set their hands and seals to such a glaring proof of their baseness, they were turned out,
and were of course succeeded by Perceval, Eldon,
84. The defence of themselves, on the part of the Whigs, and the subsequent conduct and management of the parliament, exhibit, in their full blaze, all the beauties of this beautiful and “venerable constitution." The history of the withdrawing of the Catholic bill now came out: and a history more disgraceful never stained the character of any government on earth. The public cried aloud for an explanation of this matter. It was at once understood by everybody that the ministers had been turned out on account of the Catholic bill, and a cry was raised that they had attempted to force the king to break his coronation oath by making concessions to the Catholics! O how this nation was the sport of hypocrisy on this occasion! The Whigs, in order to parry this deadly cry, said that what they had done had been with the king's consent; that, so far from their having, in this case, attempted to force him to act against his conscience, they had consulted him before they brought in the bill, and not only consulted him, but had explained all the details of the measure to him, and had, after this, brought in the bill with his cordial approbation.
85. No doubt of the truth of this; but then the withdrawing of the bill, which was a fact
then fresh in every mind, became, in the eyes of every man of sense, an act of indelible disgrace, involving a principle utterly subversive of every idea of any thing like representative government. LORD HOWICK, who was now, Fox having died in the autumn of 1806, become secretary of state for foreign affairs, had to perform the task of giving, in the House of Commons, the explanation of this matter, which, on the 26th of March, 1807, he did in these strange and memorable words: "It has been stated," said he, "by some persons who have animad"verted upon this transaction, that ministers 66 were not warranted in bringing forward a "public measure without previously obtaining "the consent of his majesty. But this extravagant proposition scarcely deserves serious "notice. According to any rational view of the subject, the duty of a magistrate appears to be two-fold. He may act in a double capacity upon different occasions; namely, as a minister, and as an individual member of parliament. There was no minister who had not "acted so occasionally. If, indeed, it were "culpable to pursue the course some extravagant writers now maintain, Mr. Pitt's conduct upon the slave trade and parliamentary re"form would have been highly censurable; for "that distinguished statesman, in both these "instances, brought forward the propositions as