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Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan;

Parliament, having so smoothly transacted its business, was prorogued on the 14th of June, and Walpole then addressed himself to the settlement of the Spanish difference. But here he found a spirit of resistance which had undoubtedly grown from the invectives of the Opposition. The outcries against the Spanish captains, the right of search, and the payment of compensation for the ships taken by Byng, had given great offence to the proud Spaniards. They were encouraged, also, by the earnest manner in which Walpole had argued for peace. They now assumed a high tone. They complained of the continuance of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. They demanded the payment of the sixty-eight thousand pounds which they said was due from the South Sea Company,[72] though it had been stipulated in the Convention that it should not come into consideration.

At the opening of the Session of 1836, as we have seen, the king stated in his Speech that a further report of the commission of inquiry into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland would be speedily laid before Parliament. "You will approach this subject," he said, "with the[404] caution due to its importance and difficulty; and the experience of the salutary effect produced by the Act for the amendment of the laws relating to the poor in England and Wales may in many respects assist your deliberations." On the 9th of February Sir Richard Musgrave moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the relief of the poor in Ireland in certain cases, stating that he himself lived in an atmosphere of misery, and being compelled to witness it daily, he was determined to pursue the subject, to see whether any and what relief could be procured from Parliament. A few days later another motion was made by the member for Stroud for leave to introduce a Bill for the relief and employment of the poor of Ireland; and on the 3rd of March a Bill was submitted by Mr. Smith O'Brien, framed upon the principles of local administration by bodies representing the ratepayers, and a general central supervision and control on the part of a body named by the Government, and responsible to Parliament. On the 4th of May Mr. Poulett Scrope, a gentleman who had given great attention to questions connected with the poor and the working classes, moved a series of resolutions affirming the necessity for some provision for the relief of the Irish poor. Lord Morpeth was then Chief Secretary; and in commenting upon these resolutions in the House of Commons, he admitted "that the hideous nature of the evils which prevailed amongst the poorer classes in Ireland called earnestly for redress, and he thought no duty more urgent on the Government and on Parliament than to devise a remedy for them." On the 9th of June following, on the motion for postponing the consideration of Sir Richard Musgrave's Bill, Lord Morpeth again assured the House that the subject was under the immediate consideration of Government, and that he was not without hope of their being enabled to introduce some preparatory measure in the present Session; but, at all events, they would take the first opportunity in the next Session of introducing what he hoped to be a complete and satisfactory measure. Nothing, however, was done during the Session, Government seeming to be puzzled to know what to do with such conflicting testimony on a subject of enormous difficulty. [301]

[See larger version] "Such is the extraordinary power of the Association, or, rather, of the agitators, of whom there are many of high ability, of ardent mind, of great daring (and if there was no Association, these men are now too well known not to maintain their power under the existing order of exclusion), that I am quite certain they could lead on the people to open rebellion at a moment's notice; and their organisation is such that in the hands of desperate and intelligent leaders they would be extremely formidable. The hope, and indeed the probability, of present tranquillity rests upon the forbearance and the not very determined courage of O'Connell, and on his belief, as well as that of the principal men amongst them, that they will carry their cause by unceasing agitation, and by intimidation, without coming to blows. I believe their success inevitable; that no power under heaven can arrest its progress. There may be rebellionyou may put to death thousandsyou may suppress it, but it will only be to put off the day of compromise; and, in the meantime, the country is still more impoverished, and the minds of the people are, if possible, still more alienated, and ruinous expense is entailed upon the empire. But supposing that the whole evil was concentred in the Association, and that, if that was suppressed, all would go smoothly, where is the man who can tell me how to suppress it? Many cry out that the nuisance must be abatedthat the Government is supinethat the insolence of the demagogues is intolerable; but I have not yet found one person capable of pointing out a remedy. All are mute when you ask them to define their proposition. All that even the most determined opposers to Emancipation say is, that it is better to leave things as they are than to risk any change. But will things remain as they are? Certainly not. They are bad; they must get worse; and I see no possible means of improving them but by depriving the demagogues of the power of directing the people; and by taking Messrs. O'Connell, Sheil, and the rest of them, from the Association, and placing them in the House of Commons, this desirable object would be at once accomplished.