Page images

be advisable to proceed to a subordinate allotment to each of the four provinces of Ireland with reference to the relative proportions of Catholic population, which proportions might be ascertained in the act itself; or, it might be reserved as a floating measure of adjustment, to be determined in the first session of each succeeding parliament by a select committee, consisting of not less than twenty-one members, the moiety of which might (as respecting this part of the arrangement) be exclusively representatives of Ireland. Such committee to be chosen in the mode prescribed by Mr. Granville's Act regulating contested elections, as nearly as the relative circumstances might permit. The adoption of successive committees might probably be productive of greater satisfaction to the Irish public than if the apportionment were to stand permanently fixed by the act itself, -especially, as the subject of arrangement in itself is of a variable nature.*

In this view, such a committee, being invested with the usual powers of calling for persons, records, &c., and being provided with the parliamentary roll of counties, cities, and boroughs returning members to parliament, might proceed, upon the fullest information, to fix the quota of the Roman Catholic representation for each province, distinctly as the maximum-founded on an estimatė, as before adverted to, of relative Catholic population, combined with other considerations of political economy, especially in a financial view.

The quota of each province being ascertained, one moiety might comprehend the several counties, and the other the cities and boroughs, as the fixed proportion of Roman Catholic representation for the ensuing parliament :-and in the first session of each succeeding parliament, a committee of the same description might be formed to acquit the like duties.

peers and commoners of the Catholic communion, who might, at any time be allowed to sit in parliament, should be to a number short of the aggregate of the representative peers and commoners of Scotland.

Had a Committee of Enquiry into the existing laws affecting Roman Catholics taken place, (which has been so often urged), this difficulty might have presented itself somewhat earlier than in the year 1821.

* This part of the suggestion is thrown out with considerable doubt: probably it might be less objectionable to fix the quota once for all. In fixing the quota of representation, both in the unions of Scotland and Ireland, no consideration obtained of the variable possible state of the component parts of the united kingdom, either with reference to population, or the objects of taxation in a fixed view.

The committee having made a return of the apportionment, might be directed to proceed to ascertain and fix the particular detail of representation, which might be thus regulated.

1st. That not more than one representative of the Roman Catholic communion should be returned for any county, nor for either of the cities of Dublin and Cork, each of which send two representatives to parliament.

2ndly. That the University of Dublin should always be represented by Protestants.

Subject to these restrictions, the names of the several counties, written on slips of paper, (in the manner prescribed by Mr. Grenville's Act), should be put in glasses-one for each province-and the names of the cities and boroughs, in like manner, distinguished by provinces, in other glasses, should be placed on the table of the House-the members of the committee being required to attend till the whole proceeding shall have been completed. The slips of paper should be then drawn singly, in succession, by the clerk, till the number of counties constituting the maximum allotted to each province should be completed-the names of which as drawn, being written down and read to the House, the list or roll should be signed by the Speaker.

In like manner, the slips containing the names of the several cities and boroughs in each province should be drawn, and being also attested by the Speaker, the roll should be printed in the votes, and also inserted in the London Gazette by order of the House.

The counties, cities, and boroughs, contained in the roll, should be exclusively considered as those to which Roman Catholics should be eligible as representatives at the general election for the ensuing parliament :-nevertheless, should the majority of electors, at such general election be in favour of any Protestant candidate in any county, city, or borough included in such lists-those having such majorities, should, nevertheless, be returned to parliament; and should the whole number of Roman Catholic representatives returned at the ensuing general election be less than the prescribed maximum-in all such cases, upon any vacancy happening in any county, city, or borough within the province where the deficiency exists, Roman Catholics should always be considered as eligible candidates, subject to the general data of limitation.

[blocks in formation]




DEEP in the shady glades of yonder forest,
There stands a wither'd tree, methinks an oak;
Which once did grace with all its sylvan beauties
That soil it now encumbers. Oh, would to heav'n
That each created being acted the part design'd,
And graced the earth with all its beauteous virtues:
Not like the tree

Stand thus a perishing memento

Of what 'twas meant to be.


Or all the trees in the forest, the oak is my favourite: there is something telling of home and England even in its name. We never hear any one but an Englishman praising the oak, because it is essentially English. The vast numbers of that tree which at that period adorned our isle, was many years back a favourite boast; but, alas! every thing must pass away, and oak trees are fast decreasing in number: the places where whole forests once nodded their heads in proud magnificence, defying with bold appearance the Spirit of the Storm, are now bare, or perchance one aged stump, half covered with clustering ivy, alone remains; and speaking to the feelings and the heart, tacitly narrates the tale of desolation. I never pass such a spot, without its forcibly reminding me of an anecdote which I once chanced to meet with.-A very old man was once discovered by a friend in the act of planting acorns. Astonished at what appeared to him to savour of madness, his friend inquired what could be his motive for planting acorns, when death would probably chill his aged frame ere the first little twig should spring from the earth.

"Because," was the reply," it is my duty. By doing so I provide for the pleasure, the convenience, and the comfort of future generations, in a like manner as my forefathers provided for me." Would to heaven every one thought and acted like him! but, alas! we rarely find mankind prudent in providing for their own wants, much less for the necessities of those who are yet to come.

Of the value of this tree our forefathers appear to have been well aware, and yet they used it for every purpose, as though the

numbers of oak trees were exhaustless. It was used alike for their "wooden bulwarks," their chief defence, for their abodes, and their fires but I will not reproach their memories with this lavish waste; it proves how high it ranked in their opinions, and that agrees with mine.


How beautiful is the oak, that forest giant, when dressed in the gay green garb of summer; the noble tree stretches forth its wide spreading arms, and offers a most delightful retreat and shelter to the wearied rambler, where, shaded by its umbrageous branches from the too powerful rays of the noonday sun, and reclining on the mossy sward at its foot, he can study a favourite poet with doubly pleasurable zest, because surrounded by such well-according objects: or, if seriously inclined, can decide to his own perfect content some knotty point of political disputation, or can con over some intended brilliant article for the Catholic Miscellany. And if religion be his theme, is he not surrounded by its emblems? for is not a blade of the grass on which he reclines, or a leaf of the tree by which he is sheltered, a study worthy of the most profound philosopher? And is not the brightly smiling, blue, cloudless atmosphere an emblem of the Most High, who sees all, and governs all? and is not mankind most aptly represented by the feathered choristers of the grove, the most mighty of whom prey on their weaker fellows; and the whole of whom are under the especial care of Him, of whom it is written, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his express orders and permission. "But," inquires the reader, who perchance possesses no particular prejudice in favour of oak, " will not birch or elm serve the same purpose, and equally well?"’ Possibly, I would reply: but in my opinion none can contend with my choice for with me, who beareth so strong an attachment to the shores of merry England, nothing can convey so agreeable an impression as the idea that I recline on English ground, breathe English air, and am shaded by what is equally English with the preceding, an oak tree.


Thus far had I proceeded with my cogitations, when the door of My Study" opened, and my friend and favourite companion, Frank Elvington, stood by my side. Full of previous impressions, my first words were " Frank, of all the trees that form a forest, I love the oak!" Imagine my astonishment: the colour which his cheeks had boasted fled his very lips paled and quivered with emotion, while his bosom heaved with convulsive throes of deep agitation.


"Gracious heaven!" I exclaimed with unfeigned amazement,"what ails thee, Frank?''

He threw himself into a chair, and covering his face with his hands, remained motionless so long, that, starting from my seat with no enviable sensations, I clasped his hand to ascertain that life had not quitted his frame. It remained motionless in mine, and I had begun to feel most seriously alarmed, when he withdrew the other which had yet shrouded his face, and bending on me a look in which stifled agitation was plainly marked, he said


"Pardon me for creating the alarm which I perceive you have felt, but in truth I can never hear the oak," and he shuddered, named, without experiencing emotions which, however unmanly, cannot, will not be suppressed. I see you look on me with curious eyes; you cannot fathom the cause of that intense feeling: listen to me; to you, the friend of my bosom, I will confide a tale which never yet was heard by mortal ears.

"You have often rallied me on unwonted seriousness, and playfully demanded what mighty cause could have worked so strange a miracle, as that which determined the gay, the thoughtless, the vivacious Elvington to become a priest: a member, however unworthy, of the Catholic Clergy: in a few days I quit England, most probably for ever, and my story shall be now unfolded.

"It was a beautiful morning in the latter part of the summer of some years back, that tempted me to ramble forth with my gun into the intricacies of a neighbouring forest. Capriciously I determined that my dog, the usual companion of my walks, should not accompany me, and having partaken of a hasty morning repast, I speedily found myself treading alone the leafy wilderness of D Wood. Truly that was a most delightful morn: the bright clear sky, illumined by the beams of the god of day, shone joyously: the little birds warbled most melodiously from bush and tree, and I, whose spirits rarely flagged, felt elevated even above my usual flow of animal vivacity. A gentle zephyr played through the tangled pathways, and kissed with cooling effect the fevered brow, and prevented the heat of the day from becoming oppressive. For hours did I thus ramble, and the morning sun waned almost imperceptibly away: when I had first entered the forest

'Dewdrops which the sun

Impearls on every leaf and every flower,'

glistened in unbounded profusion: these had long since vanished,

« PreviousContinue »