NEWS OF THE WEEK.
hi one short week the aspect of affairs in Ireland has materially altered: Government have calmly but firmly advanced ; Mr. O'Cuimour. has retreated from the position that he had taken up.
'I bition of the meeting at Clontarf, and the military
n of the ground, constituted a broad proclamation to the people that the Repeal agitation as recently conducted was deemed illegal, and a demonstration of force against the Repeal demon- strations of force. The leaders of the movement are now brought to the rettrsof the law : legal proceedings have been taken against Mr. O'Coxiseee and his principal coadjutors in the prac- tical working of his scheme. The charges against them are, in brief, that they conspired to effect a change of the constitution by intimidation and violence ; that they sought to bring the Government into contempt, and to usurp its functions, as in the appointment of Courts of Arbitration ; and that for those illegal purposes'they raised sums of money at home and abroad. Two points in the manner of these proceedings are very remarkable. There is not only a total absence of harshness, overbearing, or rigour on the part of Government, but there is the utmost courtesy to the persons accused. The form- ality of arrest was waived altogether, and all the gentle- men received over night a note asking them when it wotild be " convenient " for them to enter into the necessary recognizances on the following day. Those who remember the insolent bearing which Goyernments have usually adopted towards persons in the situation of Mr. O'CONNELL and lie friends will estimate the difference,— the invasion of the homes of the Corresponding Society ; HENRY HUNT'S conveyance to gaol by constables who beat his head with their staves ; even the very same DANIEL O'CONNELL'S arrest and public conveyance in custody under a former Government. Some quickly assume that Government were afraid of the consequences of a harsher course ; an assumption not compatible with the charge of disregarding consequences in the issue of the proclamation. The procedure seems to imply many things,—first and broadly, that there is no vindictive feeling and personal hostility towards the Repeal leaders ; next, it seems to give credit to those leaders, that they are so far in earnest as to be prepared to vindicate their con- duct in the presence of the legal tribunals before whom they are summoned; and it is thus not an exercise of executive power, but a cool appeal to law—a reference of the question of right between the Repealers and the Government to the dispassionate judgment of the law. In the same spirit, the proceedings are instituted, not tinder any statute, made for special occasions and too often to suit the convenience of Governments, but under the common law of the land. Government take no advantage. It may be said that all this is in accordance with the improved temper of the times, which sees the futility, in municipal as well as international matters, of resort to harshness and extremes : but it is not the less creditable to the Administration that takes the lead in giving effect to that improved spirit, and realizes for the country the ad- vantages of moderation; which in the present case can scarcely be overrated.
Mr. O'Consters, has achieved a surprising countermarch from his late menacing position. He seconds the temperance of Minis- ters by the most elaborate, reiterated, and imploring exhortations to the people to keep quiet ; and they do keep quiet. While the statue that commemorates his " hurling defiance to the Saxon" at Mallow is preparing, he abnegates his defiance. Some of the pre- texts for the change are strange. A Mr. O'NEILL joins the Repeal Association in its time of trouble, and asks them to leave off using the word " Saxon" ; and Mr. O'CONNELL out of hand promises to do so—he henceforth abjures the use of the word " Saxon," as it gives offence 1 Some gentleman at Birmingham offers Mr. °TON- NEJ..I. the alliance of a million Englishmen, if he will curtail his demand to a lotal Parliament for local purposes, and aid the move- ment for Complete Suffrage ; and the chief Repealer complies. To
be sure, he says that he entertained the proposition some time back, and be appeals to the admission of " Federalists " to the Re- peal Association : but did he not say, when they were first admitted, that they would be suffered to strive for their object, though the Repealers would not stop short of theirs? However, what he said is of very little consequence; for he always contrives to say so many obscure, equivocal, and conflicting things, that he could find a hint of almost any possible turn, recorded long ago and stored up in case of need. The important fact is, that O'Cosusser. has for the time abandoned his defiance, his provocatives to hatred of the " Saxon," and, hypothetically, Repeal itself. The whole object of his efforts for months was to excite the passions of the mobile Irish by recalling even doubtful traditions of their wrongs, that have slumbered for centuries ; to ascertain how they hated the " Saxon "; and to assure the excited populace that his body should be trampled on before he would give up the cry of " no surrender" : now all his endeavour is to pacify and sooth the people to quiescence ; he forbids the use of the word " Saxon," because it is "offensive" to the race so called ; and he does sur- render. The amazing change either implies a confession that the previous course was all wrong, or it means that the Agitator finds it convenient to act a different part for his own purposes. The lull in the excitement is not the less advantageous to the country. The lessening of irritation removes many difficulties. England, we believe, desires to see the law asserted and vindicated; but it would be very jealous of any harshness to the Popular party because it is the Popular party ; and it will be pleased at every thing that conduces to bring the Repealers out of the scrape with the least injury to themselves as individuals. The calm appeal to law will be a good opportunity of conveying to the Irish authorita- tive information on the relating of a people and its government. The lesson will be all the more impressive in proportion as pure law is untinged by party or official colouring. The people do not know the law : let them see it as it is, in its pure working.