The House of Lords in the Age of Reform, 1784-1837: With an Epilogue on Aristocracy and the Advent of Democracy, 1837-1867

By A. S. Turberville | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
The Duke and the Canningites

Lord Liverpool, one of the underestimated, or, as Disraeli would have put it, 'suppressed' statesmen of our history, had kept control of a Cabinet divided on more than one important issue for many years with remarkable success. Supported by the King and the majority in the House of Lords-- despite the growing pressure from the Commons--he had been able to keep Roman Catholic Emancipation at bay.1 That question was the dominating issue of the hour, and the Prime Minister's death was bound to affect it. The presentation before the House of Lords of endless petitions for and against Emancipation went on and on. Lord Winchilsea, speaking on 16 March, 1827, professed to discover remarkable signs of the divine providence in hastening the progress of the cause of Protestantism in Ireland; Lord Darnley complained of the easy way in which signatures to petitions against Emancipation were secured by clergymen trumping up stereotyped commonplaces about the Pope, Bloody Mary and Guy Fawkes for the delusion of their ignorant parishioners.2 While the Peers discussed the petitions with a good deal of acrimony the Duke of Newcastle was assuring the King at Windsor of the support that would be forthcoming from a large body of influential peers for a 'Protestant' Administration, i.e. one pledged to resist the repeal of Catholic disabilities, but the confidence which the 'Protestants' felt in Wellington and Peel as their salvation proved illfounded; the star of Canning was in the ascendant, and on I April George IV, however reluctantly, had to commission him to form an Administration. The 'Protestant' members of Liver-

____________________
1
That the two Houses should be at variance over the question of Catholic Emancipation was a thing which Liverpool said must not happen. See Corr. of Lady Williams Wynn, p. 236.
2
Hansard, N. S., Vol. XVI, 1218-36; Colchester's Diary, Vol. III, p. 467.

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