§ Mr. Leycester
said, that, in his opinion, the society ought to be tolerated by the government, because, if it were put down, it would give rise to other societies which would be far more formidable than this, and which no human power would be able to put down. He was sure that the Association had contributed to preserve the peace of Ireland; and he could not doubt that it would continue to do so. He believed, too—and this was another reason which would make him regret to see it put down—that Catholic emancipation would be hastened, and rendered more certain, by means of the Association. It was wholly incompatible with Orange Associations and Orange triumphs; and by annihilating these, which had always been the destruction of public tranquillity in Ireland, it would produce real and lasting benefits to the country. It was said of a great man of old, that he could, 667 by a stamp of his foot, raise thirty thousand men: but the right hon. Secretary for Foreign Affairs might do more; for he could, by advancing one step towards the Opposition side of the House, raise six millions of people from a state of degradation to an equality with their fellow subjects.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, he did not mean to occupy the attention of the House at any length, for though he was prepared to defend the legality of the Catholic Association, and to controvert the truth of every charge that had been brought against that body, still he felt that branch of the subject to have been so amply discussed as not to require any further argument on his part. He would, therefore, take leave of the Association, admitting it to be evidence of a lamentable society in any country where any association, whether Protestant or Catholic, could, to a considerable degree, assume and exercise the functions, and wield the whole population at its will and pleasure. The objections which he was now prepared to make to the bill before the House had not, as yet, been touched upon. They were founded upon the unconstitutional principles of the measure proposed for the adoption of parliament. For the first time the imperial legislature was called upon to adopt the principles of the Irish Convention act. Not only were they called upon in the recitals of the present bill to adopt that most unjustifiable statute, but to declare (for the act was declaratory), that a delegation for the purpose of effecting a redress of grievances was illegal. This he denied; he knew that at former times the names of Chatham, Portland, and Fox, were known to parliament as the names of delegates. In Ireland, the illustrious men whose exertions had procured liberty for their country— Charlemont and Grattan—they were delegates; and if the Convention act was true to its declaration, these true patriots ought to have been met, not by a vote of thanks from parliament, but by an information or an indictment at the suit of the Attorney-general. If the Convention act was true in its declaration, then parliament informed the people of Ireland, that it was from illegal societies, for which the members were liable to pains and penalties, that freedom of constitution, and freedom of speech had both proceeded. Was this a safe or a salutary lesson? Did it not lead to dangerous inferences? Again, 668 if the declaratory part of the Convention act were to be considered accurate, it only declared the common law—the common law of England as well as of Ireland—and the House were admitting a principle which hereafter might be turned against themselves. He begged to read to the House a protest entered on the Journals of the Irish House of Lords, and which was sanctioned by the names of lord Charlemont and Leinster:Because we are clearly of opinion, that the laws, as they now stand, are amply sufficient to curb licentiousness of every sort, and to prevent or punish all such crimes as may be injurious to the state, or subversive of public tranquillity.—Because that, as this bill assumes to itself the style and character of a declaratory as well as an enacting law, we cannot enough testify our disapprobation of the dangerous principle of grounding a declaration of law upon old statutes, fallen into disuse from the increasing spirit and wisdom of the times, and esteemed by all sound and constitutional lawyers the disgrace of the Statute-book.—Because we conceive it improper and indecent that this law should be brought forward when this House is ill-attended, and deprived of its best and wisest members.But, supposing the Convention act to be true in its principle, it was utterly unfair to have argued as if it had even been intended to apply to the Irish Catholic committee of 1793. It was intended solely to apply to the Protestant delegates assembled at Dungannon, and to the congress about to be called together at Athlone. The Attorney-general of Ireland, lord Kilwarden, expressly stated, in reply to Mr. Grattan, that not one of the framers of the bill considered it to apply to the Catholic committee. "After the legislature had acceded to their claims," observed that learned and excellent person, "no one would be mad enough to insult the Catholics by a bill in parliament"—and yet, that very course which lord Kilwarden considered that no person would be "mad enough" to suggest, the House was now called upon most rashly and unjustifiably to pursue.—Before he quilted this part of the subject, he would just remind the House of the opinion of Mr. Ward, now a member of the upper House, who, in 1812, so far from objecting to meetings of delegates, considered that mode of proceeding as the safest, wisest, and most constitutional.
669 He now begged leave to call the attention of the House to one of the marginal notes of the present bill, which he could not consider immaterial, although he knew, in point of law, it was of no force or validity. It was the suggestion that the Convention act had been "evaded." He denied the fact; the act only prohibited delegation or representative meetings; and no meeting which was not of a representative character could fairly or legally be termed an evasion of the act. All that was not prohibited by law remained strictly legal. He objected to the word, because it might hereafter be applied as a rule of the construction of the present act, and matters might be sought to be brought within the spirit of a new bill, as persons are said to fall in action by the wind of a cannon-ball. A penal statute is strictly and accurately defined by its words of limitation, and the Catholics of Ireland will be justified, after the passing of this bill, in preserving their union, and persevering in their meetings in every way not directly forbidden. Even if they could "evade," as it is called, the letter of the act, it should be recollected, that they had Orange authority for so doing. In 1823, an act was passed against Orange societies in Ireland: no sooner had the royal assent been given, than the following circular was addressed by the Grand Lodge to all its affiliated societies. This precious document began in the form with which Frederick the Great might have addressed his friend Joseph of Austria. "Sir and Brothers:" and it then proceeded as follows:—"It is now illegal to administer an oath to any person becoming a member, or to exact or permit any test or declaration tantamount thereto. In a few days the grand lodge will forward to the different counties a new form for the admission of members, in strict obedience to the law of the land; which every member of the Orange Association is bound to support and yield obedience to." He did not read this as a charge against the Orangemen—they were justified and justifiable—but the Catholics would be equally so if they took a similar course. Nor would it seem that the acts of the Orangemen had been disapproved of by the Irish government, as, from the year 1823 to 1825, no step had been taken to discountenance the lodges in their new shape.
The proposed bill contained many unjustifiable provisions, but there was one 670 that surpassed all others in its objectionable nature, and he intended to move that it be omitted. It was that clause which empowered magistrates to invade the sanctuary of every private family. He would read it to the House:—"And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any mayor, sheriff, or justice of the peace, and they are hereby respectively authorised, empowered, and required, within his and their respective jurisdictions, to command all meetings hereinbefore declared to be unlawful assemblies, immediately to disperse; and if any such meeting shall not thereupon immediately disperse, to apprehend all persons offending in that behalf, and to demand admission into any house, out-house, or office, where they shall respectively have good reason to believe that such unlawful assembly shall be, and, if refused, to enter by force. "This he considered to be one of the most monstrous and unjustifiable provisions that could be proposed to be inserted in an act of parliament. Even if the magistrates of Ireland were all that was most pure, it would be wrong to intrust them with such powers; but when it was a matter of notoriety that many of the magistracy had committed acts of the greatest injustice, how much more impolitic would it be to do so? [hear]. He did not intend to make a sweeping charge against the entire body of the Irish magistracy. There were among it many pure, upright, honorable men. He himself was a member of that body, and so were some of those most near and dear to him; but if he could show that it contained some persons capable of exercising their ordinary power with a mischievous activity, he conceived that would be an argument against vesting them with extraordinary and discretionary authority; and an authority, which, in the terms of this act, was almost without responsibility. He contended, that allowing a mayor, sheriff, or justice, without information on oath, if he shall see "good reason" to enter a house forcibly by day or night, gave those magistrates an indefinite and an irresponsible authority. When these new powers were about to be granted, it was at least necessary to inquire into the character of those who were to administer them. This he would proceed to do, however reluctant he might feel on such a subject. It should be remembered, that if reflections were to be thus ca6t upon the magistracy the fault was not his—it 671 rested with the framers of this most iniquitous bill: they, and they only were responsible. He would not rest his arguments upon any loose general reasoning—he would not rest it upon statements in exparte petitions, as on the accusations of the Catholic Association.—His proofs should be the verdicts of juries, the judgments of courts of law; his first witness, the lord-chief-justice of Ireland. He would call the attention of the House to the proceedings on one circuit, and at a single assize; but he would ask them to judge of the characters of many of the Irish justices by the specimen which he was prepared to exhibit.—He alluded to these cases the more freely because he had the satisfaction of seeing a learned member (Mr. Doherty) in his place, who was capable of contradicting him if his statements were erroneous. The circuit to which he intended to refer was the Leinster circuit of 1823. The first case to which he should allude, was one tried at Waterford, on the 31st of July—that of Nagle and Boyce. Nagle had a farm from the father of Boyce, a magistrate; his landlord wished to get possessed of this farm; while they were under some treaty for surrendering it, Nagle was apprehended on a false charge, lodged in some small bridewell in the town of Tallow, on an imputed felony; there he lay fifteen weeks, without food or fuel, except what was brought by his friends, and without any report of his case; until, at length, it came under the notice of an honorable and excellent person, colonel Curry, of Lesmore-castle, who ordered the prisoner to be transferred from Tallow to Waterford gaol. To prevent exposure, then, Boyce contrived to detain him; however, failing in that, he released him on receiving 10l. and a surrender of his farm. He was thus first committed, charged with felony; and then discharged without trial. For this false imprisonment an action was brought, and a verdict obtained against the landlord Boyce. The learned gentleman opposite was employed on the side of Nagle; and, in his speech, spoke strongly, and powerfully, and eloquently, reprobating arrogant and imperious magistrates. His learned friend, he thought, here did himself the greatest honour. He would also state, that this magistrate was thought utterly unfit to hold the commission of the peace; and he was no longer in the commission of the peace. This, he said, was entirely due 672 and highly creditable to the Irish government. But, what were the observations of chief-justice Bushe on that occasion? He stated, that "it would be a mockery to open courts of justice, and for judges and juries to assemble to administer the law, if the very fountains of justice were to be polluted in their source; and if men who were invested with an important public trust were to make their authority ancillary to their private ends." In another case, tried also at Waterford, it appeared, that a landed proprietor, of the name of Matthew Power, finding that some country people had assembled for the purpose of cutting and collecting some sea-weed for manure, and considering this to be a violation of his exclusive privilege, seized the sea-weed. In consequence of a rescue, Mr. Power ordered out the armed police, and one of the country people was shot. Thus, to try a civil right respecting sea-weed, a human life was lost, and the latter was literally considered by these Waterford gentry, "projectâ vilior algâ." The observations of the chief-justice to the prisoner were the following:—"It would have been more fitting that Mr. Power should have been placed at that bar than you. I can conceive nothing more deplorable than that gentlemen, in vindication of their real or supposed civil rights, should resort to such rigorous and unwarrantable proceedings against men in the humbler classes of society. I am quite convinced that this vindictive and overbearing spirit has been one of the principal causes of the turbulent and lawless proceedings which disturb so large a portion of some neighbouring counties; and I cannot feel surprise that it should produce such consequences. If persons in the higher ranks in society will lord it over their inferiors with a strong hand—if, in the assertion of their own rights they trample on public justice, or convert the laws which should afford equal protection to rich and poor, into instruments of oppression towards the weak and powerless, is it not in vain to hope that the common people will feel for them either respect or affection, or that they will refrain from endeavouring to procure for themselves, by violence, that redress which the conduct of their superiors teaches them is not otherwise to be obtained? I would fain hope, however, that the circumstances of this melancholy case, coupled with the verdict obtained yesterday, against Mr. Boyce, 673 will produce some effect in putting an end to these petty oppressions. I trust they will be long remembered by the gentlemen of this county, and that they will impress on their minds a lesson never to be forgotten; and I sincerely hope that it may never again be the duty of any judge to denounce from this bench such mischievous proceedings as have been developed in these instances." Such is the character of some of the gentry, as given by the chief-justice of Ireland from the bench. And, was it to this gentry they would give the powers of this bill—to break into any poor man's house, upon any suspicion, however vague, and trampling upon justice and the people?
He would fearlessly ask, what was there in the avowed opinions of the Catholic Association stronger or more vehement against the conduct of the magistrates than this condemnation of the lord-chief-justice? He would not intrude upon the House this detailed and painful statement, but they were told from the other side, that general assertions were unfair. Could they, then, be blamed for bringing forward particular cases of oppression and misconduct. But his subject was still unexhausted. His next illustration should be taken from the case of Patrick Carroll against Mr. Falkiner, a magistrate of Tipperary, tried at Clonmell on the 23rd July, 1823. The action was one of false imprisonment, and as the offence was committed under the Insurrection act, it was of peculiar importance to the House and to the public, how that most severe law was sometimes administered. The plaintiff Carroll was intrusted with the execution of a civil process against a Mr. Walsh; at the house of the latter, he met Mr. Falkiner the magistrate. By Mr. Falkiner, he was commanded to take off his hat, and not giving obedience to this order as quickly as might have been expected, he was committed for trial under the Insurrection act. Under this charge, he was conveyed, in most inclement weather, a distance of eleven Irish miles, and was confined in a wretched bridewell at Borrisakean, after having vainly tendered bail. Mr. Falkiner did not, however, think it advisable that the victim of this injustice should be brought to trial, and he went in person and ordered his discharge. In this case the chief justice informed the jury that "the only question for them to consider was, the amount of damages, as it could not be 674 supposed by any rational man that Mr. Falkiner imagined Carroll was violating the Insurrection act in his visit to Walsh-park. It was a monstrous absurdity to suppose that the law of the land would suffer the Insurrection act to be converted into an instrument of oppression." A verdict for the injured party was accordingly given. He hoped the case would be remembered, should the government apply for a renewal of the Insurrection act. Should such a case unfortunately occur, he would implore the House to pause before it again gave the power to a magistrate, of committing a man because he refused to take off his hat. Some of these delinquent magistrates had been removed from the commission of the peace, and he would do his hon. friend opposite, the secretary for Ireland, the justice to say, that his letters reflected the highest credit upon him and the government. He had said, one of the defendants whose cases he had stated, was utterly unfit to remain in the magistracy, and he had been accordingly removed from it; but would any one say that this purification had been sufficient:—that the removal of one or two individuals, charged with such crimes as these, would leave a body fit to be intrusted with such a power as was contained in this bill? No, he would go further; he would say, that he would not trust it to the magistrates of England—no, nor to those of Utopia—no men should possess a power to break into their fellow-subjects' houses at their own discretion.
He would mention another case, continuing to give his examples of the whole from one circuit—this was the case of "Laurence versus Dempster;" it took place at Clonmell. This Dempster apprehended Laurence under the Insurrection act, while every one was walking abroad, even his own wife, making the object of his antipathy the victim of his resentment and hatred. He committed him to a narrow gaol, and left him 48 hours imprisoned in his native town, charged with a transportable; offence. On this occasion as on the former, his learned friend Mr. Doherty had been concerned, and his observations then made were entitled to the greatest respect and attention. He stated "that he rejoiced that the cases of oppression under colour of this law, developed at one assizes, were not earlier made public, lest the sturdy guardians of liberty who yield- 675 ed such reluctant assent to the re-enactment of this harsh, but, as I believe necessary law, should have been confirmed in their opposition, from seeing the vile, selfish, and tyrannical purposes to which it had been made subservient in the hands of arrogant and oppressive magistrates." In this, as in former instances, a verdict for the plaintiff was obtained: yet this plaintiff was still in the commission of the peace. This was the third case of magisterial delinquency in one assizes, and one circuit, all punished within 10 or 14 days, and how could it be said, as it was, that the Insurrection act had been uniformly administered with equity and justice? Such an act bore no analog}' to equity, and it was not in its nature that it should be universally administered with justice. But he would say, this bill, now before the House, should be regarded with still more suspicion, as it was an infinitely moresevere and dangerous penal statute. This Insurrection act was at least intended to preserve the public peace. It was directed only against those who disturbed the public tranquillity. It was not the measure of a Protestant government against the Catholic Association, but the present bill! was of a different character. The House and the public well knew against whom it was levelled. In fact, the House, by the present bill, armed the Protestant magistracy of Ireland against the Catholic population. Was it to them that the House would confer the power of entering a man's house? This was enough to make them think and suspend their judgments before they passed so extraordinary and impolitic a bill. But Catholics were not only to be placed under the county magistracy, who were certainly under the control of the lord chancellor, but under these corporation gentlemen, who are under no control; would the House put into the hands of a chartered, an arrogant, and oppressive magistracy, powers which they saw had been so frequently abused, [hear, hear], and put it in the power of the sheriff of Dublin to break into the house of any gentleman, of Mr. O'Connell even, whom the Attorney-general had so highly eulogised, to break into even his house upon the bare suspicion of an illegal assemblage [hear, hear]. He would ask the right hon. the Attorney-general of Ireland had he weighed it in his mind, and with his knowledge, and in his wisdom, when he sanctioned this bill, permitting gentlemen who came into office 676 with the impress and image of king William upon them, to search the houses of the Catholics of Ireland? He would also put it to the right hon. Secretary, who had much of the responsibility of the welfare and peace and prosperity of Ireland resting upon him, whether he did not fear from this clause much iniquity and lamentable results?
He now took leave of the bill. He put it to the fair judgment of the House, if a bill armed with such powers should pass? It was with the most unfeigned regret that he had witnessed such a measure proceeding from the Irish government, because, in other respects, he felt that the country owed much to that government. They owed to lord Wellesley the improvement of the tythe-system. They owed to lord Wellesley the reform of the magistracy. They owed to lord Wellesley the very prosecutions against justices of the peace, on which he had already so long dwelt. They owed all this and its good results to the Irish government. He felt for many members of that government the most unqualified respect—nay, he would venture to say, regard. That government was always open for the admission of good, true, correct, honest, and constitutional principles; but their only fault was, they never carried them far enough. He saw in that government the elements of good; but, at the same time—and he regretted he was compelled to notice it—he also saw an evident inability to carry their intentions into effect. It rested with that House to enable or compel them to pursue the course most advantageous to the country; and, in furtherance of that object, he would move, "That this bill be read a third time this day six months."
§ Mr. Doherty
rose and said:—Sir, I do with the most unaffected sincerity assure you, it is impossible for this House to estimate the degree of reluctance with which I presume to intrude upon its attention, after the indulgence with which they have recently received me on a former night of this debate. Nothing but a desire to give some explanations of the many observations in the speech of the hon. member who has just sat down, which apply to me personally, could have conquered my disinclination to address you on the present occasion.
§ Mr. S. Rice
, in explanation, said, he never meant to impute to the hon. And learned member, that he had been actuated by personal feelings.
§ Mr. Doherty
resumed.—I feel conscious that facts would enable me to clear up every apparent inconsistency, but yet I much mistrust my own ability to do so at the present moment—the allusion which has just been made to me is at once so unexpected and so very embarrassing. Upon a former night, the same hon. member did certainly betray some disposition to assail me, but it was reserved for him to-night to commence his premeditated and prepared attack, by endeavouring to prove my inconsistency, from a comparison of my declarations in this House, with sentiments contained in speeches said to have been delivered by me as a barrister on circuit, now nearly two years ago. Sir, if I have been guilty of what he insinuates, if he does not distinctly charge, I am undeserving of the appellation of friend, with which he has so kindly honoured me, and unworthy of retaining my seat in this House [cries of no, no]. I say, Sir, that the import of the hon. member's words on a former night, which I have accurately noted down, are not to be mistaken. The hon. member then expressed a wish that I had given the House the benefit of my own experience as a barrister on the Leinster circuit, instead of referring to the evidence of others; and added, that this experience in another capacity which he and I know, might have taught me the impurity of justice in Ireland. Why, Sir, give me leave to ask, what is this but to insinuate, if not directly to charge, that I have sought to wield the evidence of others to create an impression in this House, different from that which I had myself reason to entertain, from that which ought to have been the fair result of my experience as a lawyer, and in some other capacity known to the hon. member and to me?—If, Sir, I have endeavoured to do so, I admit indeed that I have been guilty of an offence for which I ought to blush—but if the House will bear with me for a short time, I trust I shall be able to free myself from this foul imputation. I trust I shall be able to convince them, that though I admit myself to be a barrister, I leave my advocate's gown, without the threshold of this door, and endeavour, when I enter it, to assume a conduct and character more befitting the high station of a senator—to throw off the zeal, and warmth, and prejudice of the advocate, and assume the coolness, the candour, and sincerity which best become a member of this House.
678 Sir, it will be necessary for me to enter into some little detail, in order to show how it is that I have been placed in my present position, and become, more by accident than either by election or delegation, what I feel myself now in some measure voted to be, the champion of the purity of the administration of justice in Ireland. It is now, Sir, about two years since a petition was presented to this House from the Catholic Association, by the learned member for Winchelsea, complaining, in no measured strain, of the impure and unequal administration of justice in Ireland; that the Catholic had no chance in opposition to the Protestant, nor the poor when opposed to the rich; that the fountains of justice were corrupt, and that it flowed impure from its very source. This, you will observe, was a charge as general as it was serious—not limited or restricted to any particular class of persons, or district of the country—but applied equally to the north and to the south, the east and the west. I had not the honour of possessing a seat in this House at that time; but you may recollect, Sir, that even the talent of the learned member who presented it, was unable to support that petition; and he was obliged to admit, that it abounded in every thing but facts. When I read that document, it struck me, as it did all with whom I conversed upon the subject, that it was founded on exaggeration and misrepresentation. It did not, however, seem wise to the Catholic Association, from which it had emanated, to view it in this light; and, when that body heard the fate of their petition, a leading member expressed astonishment that any members could be found to entertain a doubt as to the corruptness and partiality of justice in Ireland, and of the inequality with which it was dispensed to the Catholic and to the Protestant; he promised, however, that facts should speedily be supplied, to substantiate the charge—his only difficulty was, as he stated, in making the selection from the great number of cases which existed; but he alleged, that the then last Leinster circuit (the same one of which we have this night heard so much) would furnish abundant matter for complaint. After the copious quotations which the House has just heard from the speeches delivered by me as counsel on that circuit, I need hardly tell them, that I had an opportunity of judging how far the records of that circuit would support 679 the charge; and I did then feel, as I now still feel, notwithstanding the able arguments of the hon. member for Limerick, that nothing which occurred on that circuit went in the slightest degree to establish that the administration of justice in Ireland is corrupted in its source—that there is partiality in the administration of justice, when Catholics are concerned—or that the poor man could not, when he came into court to seek redress, obtain justice equally with the rich. This, Sir, being my conscientious conviction on the first occasion, after I had the honour of entering this House, when I believe the hon. member for Midhurst was presenting a petition, and when, actuated no doubt, by a persuasion that justice was not to be obtained by a poor Catholic in Ireland, he proceeded to animadvert in strong terms, on the general mal-administration of justice in that country, I rose upon impulse, and at the moment, to bear my humble but sincere testimony as to what I believed to be the fact, and I then stated accurately to the House what were my opportunities of forming an opinion on this subject. Why, Sir, if, when I heard what appeared to me to be unfounded slanders uttered, often, it is true, refuted, but as often repeated, I had remained silent, my silence would have been construed into an acquiescence in their justice, and I should have despised myself for my timidity. The next occasion upon which this subject was brought under the consideration of this House, was when this bill for putting down Associations was introduced. The question as to the administration of justice in Ireland was necessarily introduced, and when I had last the honour of addressing you, Sir, I stated, that my impression on this point had been strengthened by the evidence of Mr. Blackburne and Mr. Bennett; two persons eminently qualified to form a correct opinion on the subject, and by the valuable testimony of Mr. Day, late a justice for twenty-one years of the court of King's-bench, and whose experience as a circuit-judge in every part of Ireland, enabled him to form a correct judgment, and I referred with particular pleasure to him, as one with whose strict impartiality, and whose means of forming an opinion, the gentlemen on the opposite side are well acquainted. Does any man suppose that I referred to the evidence of these three gentlemen to contradict that which 680 I entertained as my own impression; or shall I not rather get credit for not wishing longer to build anything on my own testimony, when I could refer to that of persons in every respect so much more highly entitled to attention? To the hon. member for Limerick, however, it appeared otherwise, and in the course of his speech on the last evening, when he addressed the House, called attention to the fact of my having stated my belief, that justice is purely administered in Ireland, I cannot, Sir, forget the tone and emphasis so peculiarly his own, in which his learned friend, the member for Winchelsea, then exclaimed—"Aye, he did so not once but twice." Wishing, no doubt, to brand me as a hardened and incorrigible offender, for having twice presumed to infringe on established practice, by saying what I thought. Sir, I beg leave now to say, that so often as this misrepresentation shall be stated in this House, so often will I, as long as I have the honour to continue a member of it, meet it with my honest contradiction. I confess I feel very warmly on this point. I do so from a deep conviction of its practical operation on the welfare and tranquillity of Ireland. I do not mean to undervalue the importance of the Catholic question, or to state that, as a matter of feeling, the remaining disabilities are not intelligible to the Catholic peasant; but I am satisfied, that his interest in the Catholic question fades into insignificance, when compared with this subject of the pure and impartial administration of justice; in this each individual has a direct, immediate, and if I may say so, every day concern—it would be so in any country, but it is so peculiarly in Ireland. The day is long past since sir John Davis (one from situation and habit qualified to pronounce an opinion) gave this just description of the Irish—"There is no nation under the sun that doth love equal and impartial justice better than the Irish, or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves, so as they have the protection and benefit of the law, when upon just cause they do desire it." What the Irish were in his time, such they are at the present day; judge, then, what must be the effect of exciting an impression among such a people, that they are not in possession of that first of blessings—an equal and impartial administration of the laws. I know of no mode more effectual for ex- 681 citing discontent, and for stimulating them to treason and revolt; it is, therefore, I am anxious to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the charge, in order that if true, we may lose no time in applying a remedy; or, if false, as I am persuaded it will turn out to be, the opponents of this bill may give up this unfounded, unworthy, and dangerous slander; with this question we can deal, and set it at rest for ever on this very evening. With the Catholic question it is not so: that is not within our power, even though we all were unanimous on the subject—there remain the other branches of the legislature to be satisfied on that.
Before, Sir, I proceed to examine in detail, and with as much accuracy as a memory, imperfect I fear from the length of time which has elapsed since they occurred, the several cases which the hon. member has just brought under the notice of the House, allow me to enter my protest against this most unusual, if not wholly unprecedented proceeding—I mean the production of the speeches delivered by a member of this House, in his capacity of a barrister, either to establish the facts stated in them, or as a test of the consistency of his sentiments. In my opinion, Sir, no two duties can be more dissimilar than those of an advocate and of a senator: the former is bound to speak the sentiments and touch the feelings which may best become or serve his client for the time being; and instead of being surprised at the contradiction which I have not been able to discover in my speeches which the hon. member has thought worthy of bringing under the notice of the House, I am amazed at the accident which has made so many of them in unison, instead of each being (as barrister's speeches often are) an answer to the other. For a more detailed and able exposition of the duties of an advocate I would beg leave to refer the hon. member to his learned friend the member for Winchelsea, who can give him a lecture on the subject, as he did to others upon a very memorable occasion [hear, hear]. And now forthecases. Those cases, from the then last Leinster circuit, which were "to afford abundant matter for complaint," and to supply the deficiency of facts in the original petition as to the unequal and partial administration of justice in Ireland—they have now for the first time been brought forward in this House; and I shall proceed to examine 682 them one by one, as far as a possibly imperfect recollection of cases which have been disposed of two years ago, will permit. But first I must express my astonishment as to the manner in which those cases have been culled and selected. I do not recollect to have had the pleasure of seeing that hon. and learned—I beg pardon, hon. member I should say—in any capacity on the circuit; and I must therefore needs wonder how he has become possessed of his brief on the present occasion. [A laugh and hear]—The first case to which he has alluded is, I believe, the case of Nagle v. Boyse, tried at the Waterford assizes. I plead guilty to having been concerned as counsel, and to having delivered the speech which has just been quoted, and which I certainly never expected to hear repeated within these walls. That was a case of grievous oppression, on the part of a wealthy man and a magistrate. Whether the plaintiff was a Catholic or a Protestant, I cannot say; but, be he of what sect or party he may, the important point is—that, with my feeble aid to advocate his cause, he did recover against his high and wealthy oppressor a verdict, and substantial damages. Give me leave to ask, what part of the petition of the Catholic Association does this selected case from the Leinster circuit support—that a poor man cannot obtain justice against a rich?— Here he did so. That justice is impure and partial? What can be objected against any part of the proceeding in this case, or the result of it? I have only to add, that the magistrate who so unworthily used the powers intrusted to him, is no longer in the commission of the peace. Thus, then, the poor man has obtained redress, through these calumniated courts of justice; and the rich man has, through them, been brought to punishment and disgrace [Cheers]. The second case to which the hon. member has alluded—or rather which he has done me the honour of stating from my speech, is that of Laurence v. Dempster. Though, Heaven knows, I heard enough of that case in its day, I am not certain that I can at this moment, and under present circumstances, recall accurately all the facts, which possibly the House will not consider very astonishing. The defendant in this case is not an Irishman: he is a Scotch gentleman, not two years resident in Ireland. The party who complained of his conduct, was not a poor man, nor a Ca- 683 tholic, but equal in every respect to the defendant — he was a half-pay officer. The hon. and learned member here entered into an explanation of the circumstances connected with this case. With respect to the third case, stated once by me, and now again in my words by the hon. member for Limerick, my recollection is, that a gay and spirited young officer having just returned from the army, was intrusted with the commission of the peace, to which his respectability of station and character entitled him. He certainly was but little acquainted with the duties of a magistrate, and the plaintiff Carroll, having come to execute civil process either on Faulkner himself, or on some other guest, at rather an unseasonable hour, when he and his friends were regaling over the festive bowl, flushed with Irish spirit—he did, in an unguarded moment, commit the plaintiff to prison. This was, I admit, most unwarrantable, and I think it but fair to state, though I was counsel against him, and am not here counsel for him, that no man saw more clearly the impropriety of his conduct than he himself did, or felt more shame and grief at the transaction. But, Sir, the plaintiff, in this case also, was not driven unredressed from the Irish courts of justice, as you and others might be led to suppose, from the character which you have heard given of them. He, like all the other plaintiffs of whom we have heard, obtained ample remuneration from a jury. Sir, I am ashamed when I reflect how much of the time of this high assembly has been occupied in this pitiful detail of Nisi Prius trials. I should blush if I had been the person to render this course necessary, but I am in some degree consoled by reflecting that the detail into which we have been led must satisfy the House how little foundation there is for the allegation, that the Catholic Association had abundant matter of complaint arising from the transactions of that particular Leinster circuit. It seems to me rather to furnish proof that I was founded in my former statements—that justice was pure and impartial, and to be obtained as it was in all these cases before the institution, and without the aid of the Catholic Association. Sir, I think that as the hon. member has dragged me before the House as prominent in all the cases to which he has alluded, I may claim credit for not having spoken on a subject on which I had not some experience. I think I might 684 on this point have said "experto crede." The hon. member for Limerick has done me the honour of alluding to me in another capacity. He said on a former night —"That the knowledge which he and I knew, that I had acquired in another capacity, might have taught me that justice was not purely administered in Ireland. "He, of course, alluded to me in my character as a commissioner of Inquiry into the fees in courts of justice in Ireland. Now, proud as I should feel of being distinguished by the confidence of that hon. member, I must disclaim it on the present occasion, and say that he and I, as a commissioner of Inquiry, know nothing which you, Sir, and every member of this House may not become acquainted with, by taking the trouble of looking at the Reports which my former colleagues (for I have ceased to be a commissioner) have, from time to time, laid on the table of this House; but I feel it due to the high personages whose conduct has been submitted to investigation before that Board to state, that nothing there transpired to excite a suspicion that justice was not fairly and impartially administered in Ireland. I do not mean that we found nothing to complain of; that in the lapse of time there had not been a growth of fees and charges, which operated, if I may so express it, as pebbles to obstruct the free How of justice; but certainly nothing to pollute or pervert it. I thought, Sir, that from the knowledge which that hon. member had acquired of my conduct, in common with that of my colleagues, in the discharge of our duties, I might have appealed to him to tell those hon. members who surround him, to whom I am a stranger, but with whom he is so justly influential, that the insinuation thrown out on a recent occasion by the learned member for Winchelsea, was unfounded. I mean the insinuation, that when I marked my disapprobation, not only of the manner in which that learned member introduced the name of Mr. Baron M'Clelland, but my total disbelief of the facts then stated, I was actuated by the mean motive of commending myself to that absent judge. I thought the hon. member for Limerick might have told him, that when the conduct of a judge became legitimately the subject of inquiry, no consideration of station or friendship restrained me from the full and faithful discharge of a distressing duty; but since he may not do it, I now fling back indignantly that insinuation 685 on the learned member who has attempted to affix it on me, and I tell him, that I am alike incapable of the meanness that would lead me to fawn on and flatter the great, and of that not less despicable meanness which courts a vulgar, and now-a-days easily attainable, popularity, by the constant and indiscriminate abuse of all that is high, and venerable/and respectable in the land.
Sir, there is but one more topic on which I have to trouble you. The learned member for Winchelsea has treated my assertion, that the courts of Ireland are open alike for the rich and poor, as if I had thereby intended to maintain, that the poor man had not in that country as in England, and in every other place, greater difficulties to encounter than the rich. Unluckily it is not for the first time I have heard the comparison with which the learned gentleman favoured us on a former night, of our courts to the London Tavern; but what I assert is, that that comparison does not apply in a stronger degree in Ireland than in England, to which the observation was originally applied. The hon. member for Limerick, and many who have spoken at his side of the House, have told us, that the imputations on the administration of justice, though made in such general terms, were not intended to apply to the judges of the superior courts. Sir, I candidly confess, I think that originally they were intended to apply to and include them. I think so from looking at the language of the petition itself, which was originally presented from the Catholic Association. I think so from recollecting the expressions made use of by the learned member, when he presented the petition. I think, too, it is obvious, from the manner in which praise has been invidiously bestowed on some of the judges, that imputation is intended, though not expressed, for others of them. The hon. member for Limerick has pointedly confined his praise to one out of three courts of law, with an expressed protestation that he had rather not look into the others. Sir, I admire the beautiful, polished, and eloquent language, in which the hon. and learned member for Knaresborough has panegyrized the lord-chief-justice of Ireland; but though there is no ear to which his praises are at all times and in all places more agreeable than to mine, I must confess I think they were most unnecessarily introduced into this debate—that they were as uncalled for, as they are un- 686 doubtedly well merited; and that he was drawn out and encircled with this blaze of praise, merely for the purpose of throwing a shade on all who are behind, and who surround him. For my part, the panegyrics which have been lately lavished on that individual remind me of the happy application which I have recently read in a dedication of the well-known answer of the Spartan to the Rhetorician who proposed to pronounce an eulogium on Hercules—"On Hercules!" exclaimed the honest Spartan, "who ever thought of blaming Hercules?" So, Sir, it is, that the concurrence of public opinion, not the less valuable, because in Ireland concurrence on any subject is rare, leaves to the panegyriser of the lord-chief-justice a very superfluous task [cheers].
§ Mr. Spring Rice
declared, that he never meant to impute to the learned member any thing like being actuated by personal feeling. All he contended for was, that the magistrates of Ireland were not fit to be intrusted with the new and inordinate powers vested in them by the present bill; and, to sustain that proposition, it was not necessary to discuss the question, how far justice could or could not be done in that country between Protestant and Catholic.
feared, in the present state of party feeling in Ireland, that the pure and impartial administration of justice in that country was impossible; and that, although he believed more honest, more able, more upright, more honorable men never presided over the administration of justice in any country than those intrusted with it in Ireland, yet it was, in his opinion, quite impossible, while such excitement and irritation continued to exist, to restore to it that confidence which prejudice, founded on such a state of things naturally produced. He would refer to two instances of recent date to show that even in this country, where popular excitement was comparatively rare and innoxious, to prove that a cool and just decision could not be expected under such circumstance: these were the coroner's inquests which followed the transactions at Manchester in 1819, and the deaths of Honey and Francis at the funeral of the late Queen in 1821, in neither of which cases did a satisfactory result ensue—a consequence solely attributable to the state of party feeling which prevailed among the lower classes of society. In Ireland, cases of recent notoriety might be cited if 687 necessary, in support of his argument; he alluded to the trials which followed the riots in the Dublin theatre. There was, in fact, from the top to the bottom of society in that country, a degree of irritation which mixed itself up with every possible question, and rendered it impossible, he feared, to arrive at impartial justice. So fixed were his opinions on that subject, that were he an inhabitant of Ireland he should infinitely prefer a despotic government, one in which the judges alone should have the power to decide upon his case, to that constitutional form so favorable to the liberty of the subject, in which the aid of the people themselves was called in. Year after year he had witnessed the introduction into that House of measures intended to operate as expedients only; but not one which, in his opinion, was calculated to strike at the root of the evil. There was one question on which, above all others, the tranquillity of Ireland depended; yet, upon that subject, ministers felt themselves justified in withholding their advice from their sovereign. He could not conceive how those noble and right hon. individuals could reconcile such conduct with their oaths as privy-councillors. With reference to the particular subject under discussion, he complained that, while the attention of ministers was directed to what could only be termed a symptom of disease, they forbore from introducing an obvious specific against the disease itself. Looking to the state of Ireland, and admitting, for the sake of argument, that emancipation would be merely an experiment—even a daring experiment—it would be worth while to try it. They saw the Catholics and Protestants of Canada going on in the most amicable manner, even lending each other their respective chapels; and they had similar instances in various parts of the globe, These were sufficiently encouraging for them to make the attempt. He could not conceive, while he was told that the measure before the House ought to be viewed only as a palliative, and one too which depended for its effect upon the people themselves, that such admission ought to be received as a reason for passing the bill. He, for one, felt himself bound to withhold his assent from it.
§ Mr. W. Courtenay
said, he had for thirteen years constantly supported the claims of the Roman Catholics; feeling, as he had always done, a conviction that the acqui- 688 escence in the prayer of that body for relief, was eminently calculated to tranquillise Ireland, and consolidate the empire. In the course of the debate it had been assumed, that support of the present bill could only arise from an indisposition to grant Catholic emancipation. He begged most distinctly to be understood as supporting the measure on no such grounds. He conceived that the bill was called for on a broader principle; not so much founded upon what had been done by the Catholic Association, as a conviction that the existence of any such Association was incompatible with the well-being of society at large. One immediate consequence of suffering the Catholic Association to exist, would be, the creation of opposite confederations; thus enlisting the whole population in hostility against each other—a state of things quite incompatible with public tranquillity. But, while he was supporting the measure before the House, he begged leave to declare that he was as much opposed to Orange as he was to Catholic Associations. Much had been said in that House respecting another Association, with which he begged to observe, he had never had any thing to do; but at the same time he must declare that he thought it neither fair nor just that abuse, such as he had heard uttered, should be directed against a body, composing so many honourable individuals as did the Association to which he referred. A great deal of discussion had taken place on the question whether justice had or had not been impartially administered in Ireland? Now, in his opinion, the main question was, whether the impartial administration of justice in that country was likely to be promoted or retarded by the measure before the House? Was it, he would ask, consistent with the spirit of the constitution, that persons acting in a magisterial capacity should be members of this Association? Did it tend to the due administration of justice, that persons so situated should belong to a society, their very connection with which incapacitated them from the impartial exercise of their magisterial functions? The answer must be obvious. The hon. member for Limerick had observed, that the present measure was in the nature of a penal enactment, and that it provided for no infraction of any existing law: but he (Mr. C.) would contend, that if the letter of the law had not been invaded by the Catholic Associa- 689 tion, its spirit had. He did not say this from any feeling of hostility to the general question of Catholic emancipation: be was, on the contrary, most favourably disposed towards that question; but he could not help thinking, that the greatest enemy to that question was the Catholic Association. The cause of emancipation had far higher grounds to rest upon, than those which were put forward by that body; and he could not but express his decided conviction, that the safety of that cause would be compromised by the existence of such an Association. Another of the arguments of the hon. member for Limerick was, that the administration of justice in Ireland was not perfectly pure, and that the Association had done much good in correcting its impurities. Now, he would, in the first place, deny that justice was improperly administered in Ireland; and secondly, he would say, that, admitting that to be the fact, the Association had taken a very questionable mode of remedying the evil. For what did that body do? They furnished the means of conducting prosecutions to those who were unable to provide it themselves. They thus encouraged a spirit of litigation, a spirit to which the lower orders of the Irish were already unfortunately too prone, and they cast an imputation on the law, of which it was undeserving. There was one observation of the hon. member, however, which he thought not undeserving of attention. It was that which referred to a certain clause which provided for the suppression of such assemblies as were, contemplated by the bill, by the authority, and upon the responsibility, of a single magistrate. To this clause he had a strong objection: but he was happy to learn, since he had come into the House that evening, that his right hon. friend had abandoned it.
§ Mr. Sykes
said, he objected to the bill, because it was providing a remedy for evils which had been already guarded against by the existing laws. If the Association met for the purposes imputed to it by the supporters of this measure, it could be put down by the law as it stood. If it interfered, with the decision of juries, there were enactments already in force to remedy that evil. Money collected in churches or taverns, for purposes not legal, might be punished by the common law. Why proceed to enact a new law, when those which existed were suffi- 690 cient? The history of Ireland was a history of penal enactments. Under these circumstances he could not conscientiously support a bill, which he thought most objectionable in principle.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, he could not allow that opportunity to pass, without saying a few words at the present stage of the bill. It was, he maintained, an oppressive measure, introduced to put down by force an Association which had necessarily grown out of the system so long pursued towards Ireland. He denied that this Association had the effect of interfering with the regular course of justice. The aid they afforded to the peasantry to obtain justice for acts of oppression, was by no means unnecessary; for though there might be a few instances where the poor peasant obtained justice, there were thousands of cases in which innumerable difficulties were thrown in his way in endeavouring to procure it. It had been proved before a committee up stairs, that magistrates were in the habit of receiving presents in kind from those to whom they administered justice. The witness who gave that evidence explained his meaning of "presents in kind," by saying, that the magistrate who dealt out justice to the poor farmers had his corn reaped, his turf cut and drawn home, and other acts of service done by those poor individuals. Was this a system consistent with the due administration of justice? But he would not confine himself to this. He had the authority of no less a personage than lord Redesdale, who had the best opportunities of knowing the state of Ireland, that there was in that country, "one law for the rich and another for the poor, and both equally bad." With respect to the effects which the passing of the present bill might produce in Ireland, he could assure the House that they were anticipated with no slight degree of alarm, by those who were best acquainted with the real state of that country. He held in his hand a letter from a most respectable individual, a Protestant, residing in one of the most populous, and most disturbed districts in Ireland. The letter stated, that the papers announcing the first night's division on the present question had arrived in that country, and had produced in the minds of the people the most intense anxiety. He added an expression of his own great surprise, how any man who really knew the state of the country could vote to put down an Association, which 691 had done so much to restore tranquillity in Ireland, and had been so much adored by the great mass of the people. Every peasant, he added, contributed his mite towards the rent, with the utmost alacrity. The writer of the letter concluded by expressing the most serious apprehensions as to what might be the effects of the passing of this bill. He would not name the author of this letter, but if he were to do so, every one who heard it would at once admit his high respectability, and the means which he possessed of knowing the real state of public feeling in that country. The right hon. baronet concluded by expressing his decided disapproval of the measure, the severity of which, he was happy to perceive, had been moderated, in consequence of the exertions of his hon. friend, the member for Limerick.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, he could not allow this last opportunity to pass without making a few remarks in reply to some of the objections which had been urged against the bill for the first time that evening. It had been asserted, that this was partial legislation, and that the government had made no attempt to put down associations of a different description. He denied the fact; and he appealed to the Statute-book for proof, that the House had legislated to put down other societies. Did hon. members forget the act passed in the year 1823, to put down associations of a particular description, by which Orange societies, though not mentioned by name, were particularly aimed at? The right hon. baronet had said, that there was one law for the rich and another for the poor in Ireland. If that was meant to convey to the House, that there was in that country a denial of justice to the poor man, he begged to deny the fact; but, if it meant only, that great inconvenience was felt by a poor man in prosecuting a suit at law, it was no more than was felt in this country, and was incidental to the condition of the poor in every state. With respect to magistrates, he could assert, and he defied contradiction, that there was no such thing as a disposition among them to take bribes for the administration of justice to the poor. There might have been cases of injustice and oppression on the part of the magistrates; but, whenever a case of the kind came fully before government, there was no indisposition to exercise the authority with which they were invested, of removing such persons from the commission. 692 In cases which affected the conduct of magistrates, and which became the subject of judicial inquiry, it was the constant practice of the lord chancellor to inquire into the merits of the case, by taking the report of the learned judge who tried it, and to act by his opinion. This was done in the case of "Lawrence and Dempster."—The right hon. gentleman then went on to contend for the necessity of such a measure as the present, to put down an Association having a very dangerous tendency, and against which the existing laws afforded no sufficient protection. It had been said, that the giving the power to a single magistrate to enforce this act in particular instances was without precedent; but, did honourable members recollect, that the convention act gave power, not only to a single magistrate, but even to a peace-officer, to prevent or stop a meeeting held contrary to the clauses of that act? In the present act no such power was given, except to a magistrate. Yet even on this point he was ready to attend to the suggestions which had been thrown out, and to make the presence of more than one magistrate necessary in certain cases; and he assured honourable members opposite, that from the first he was prepared to give his most patient attention to every suggestion by which the severity of this act might be mitigated as much as possible, without destroying its effect. He then proceeded to show that the statement made by the learned member for Win-chelsea, regarding the conduct of baron M'Clelland on one of the recent trials in Ireland, was utterly without foundation. The learned member had stated, that the acquittal of the soldier was attributable to the interference of the learned judge in preventing one of the witnesses giving an answer to the question, why he had omitted to state at the coroner's inquest that which he was then stating to the court. Since that statement had been made, he had received one communication from the learned judge whose conduct was impeached by it, and another from two of the counsel employed for the prosecution. Now, on the authority of the counsel, he could inform the House, that no such question had been proposed to the witness as was stated to have been objected' to; and, on the authority of the learned judge, that he had not put any stop to such investigation. The right hon. Secretary here read baron M'Clelland's letter to the 693 effect we have stated; and then added, that he had the satisfaction of announcing to the House, that he had recently become acquainted with another proof of the soldier's innocence. The learned judge had summed up the evidence on this indictment with so much minuteness, that, in the course of it, the counsel for the prosecution had said to a gentleman, who sat next him, "I wonder why the judge should give himself the trouble of charging on a case, upon which there has been the necessity of a clear acquittal from the beginning." The learned gentleman had also made, upon what authority he knew not, another charge against the learned judge.
§ Mr. Brougham.
—I made the charge on the authority of one of the counsel engaged in the prosecution.
§ Mr. Goulburn
—The learned gentleman had said, that the learned judge had not only forborne to defer a trial, the name of which was not mentioned, till the counsel engaged in it was sent for from another court, but had also refused to read over to him the evidence of the witnesses who had been examined previously to his coming into it. The right hon. gentleman here read a letter from the learned baron, stating, that as the name of the case had not been mentioned, he could not meet the charge made against him with as positive a denial as he had done the former charge, but adding, that he had no recollection of such a circumstance having occurred on the circuit, and that he believed no such circumstance had occurred, as it was in direct contravention to the conduct which he had long been in the habit of pursuing towards the bar. After such a statement, he did not suppose that any one would again impute to the learned baron the glaring and criminal misconduct which had been attributed to him by the learned gentleman. He was sure the learned gentleman would be the first to regret that he had been led by false information to employ the weight of his great eloquence in bringing such unfounded accusations against a judicial character; and he trusted that it would teach him to abstain from depicting him in future as a person who was half a tiger and half another animal, which the learned gentleman had named, though the word had not reached his ears. Such language was scarcely defensible when used towards an individual convicted of crime, but was 694 quite unwarrantable when used towards an individual of the learned baron's high station and character. He was sure those that knew him would agree with him when he stated, that no individual discharged his functions more impartially, or oftener interfered to prevent the recurrence of the violent party disputes which so frequently came before the tribunals of Ireland.
§ Mr. Denman
said, he had waited with impatience for some explanation of the learned baron's conduct in the two cases which had been brought before the notice of the House; and now that the explanation had been given, he must observe that to him it appeared to be any thing but satisfactory. The learned baron had met the first charge with a positive denial. This was no more than might naturally be expected from a person in his situation. A learned counsel had, however, pledged his professional character to the truth of the charge; and he could not see any reason why the judge was to be credited merely because he was on the bench, or why the barrister should be disbelieved merely because he was below it. If a man were to be considered innocent merely because he denied the accusation brought against him, why should not the Catholic Association have the benefit of the same doctrine? It had certainly every claim upon their indulgence: it had challenged inquiry into its conduct: it had offered evidence of its proceedings: that evidence had been rejected, and its guilt had been taken for granted, not only without producing any facts to establish it, but after shutting out from the public view every document, except those miserable statements, which were now poured infrom every quarter to blacken the conduct and objects of the Catholic Association. Gentlemen on the other side had told them that they ought not to attack the absent. He wished they would follow the advice they gave, and before they poured out the vials of their wrath on the Catholic Association, would recollect that they had driven its members from their bar, and had not allowed them to refute the charges they had produced, against them. It was, however, quite ridiculous to talk of not attacking the absent, when it was of chancellors and of judges that they had to speak. Those persons could not hold seats in that House; but it was the duty of those who did hold them to remark, and to remark by name, on their conduct if it were objectionable. 695 Now, when he found the learned lord who filled the office of chancellor acting as the head of administration, and putting language into the mouth of his colleagues which filled the country with astonishment, he should not be deterred by any invidious sarcasms from declaring his opinion of that learned lord's political proceedings. They were told that the learned lord, if his colleagues would not adopt his language, intended to resign. When gentlemen on his side of the House intimated their doubts as to that point, they were told immediately, "It must be so, for the learned lord is a man of honour and integrity." And yet the men who told them so, were themselves men of honour and integrity, who agreed to adopt language as their own which they disapproved, rather than resign the good things of office. [cheers and laughter.] The hon. and learned member then proceeded to argue against the bill, as one that was calculated to excite lasting discontent in Ireland. Ireland had not yet been twenty-four hours under water, as a gallant officer had once suggested as a cure for her complaints; and while she continued above water, her feelings must be agitated and exasperated by the manner in which the Catholic question had always been treated by the cabinet and parliament of England. The question was not a new one. It had been now nearly thirty years before the public: their feelings during that period had been strongly excited; and the Attorney-general for Ireland had admitted its importance so strongly, as to assert, that one hour was too much to be lost in conceding to the prayer of that petition. He would call upon their friends in the government, as well as out of it, to exert themselves on the approaching discussion. If they failed, there still remained one course to be adopted. Let them retire from office, and they would enjoy not only the satisfaction of an approving conscience, but the approbation of all mankind.
§ Colonel Forde
said:—Sir, as a country gentleman, and not as a lawyer, I rise to give my testimony to the high character which baron M'Clelland so deservedly bears in Ireland. I have seen him in the county which I have the honour to represent, administering justice most impartially, in those very trials which have been denominated party trials; and I have heard him utter sentiments in reprobation of the spirit of party, which redounded highly 696 to his honour. On the whole, Sir, I do not believe that a more conscientious or upright judge is to be found in either country. With respect to the question immediately before the House, I feel that unless the Association be put down, the peace of Ireland cannot be preserved. This opinion is that also of nine out of ten even of the Protestants who are favourable to the Catholic claims—I shall Sir, have great pleasure in giving my vote in favour of the third reading of this bill.
rose, amid loud calls for the question. He expressed a hope that the House would not disgrace itself by an attempt to cry down such members as dared be honest in the worst of times. He stood there to exercise his right as a member of parliament, and they should hear whatever it was his pleasure to submit to the House. [Calls of Question]. By the course they were now pursuing, they would only compel him to remain ten times longer on his legs than he intended. He had listened with much attention to the arguments adduced on the other side, and could conscientiously declare, that he had not heard one which ought to induce the House to vote for the odious and abominable measure before them. The Speech from the throne acknowleged that at present all was peaceable. Even the priests, that much-abused-body, were now selected for euiogiuro, and as having mainly contributed to the tranquillity of that country. And yet that moment of peace and harmony was selected as a proper period for the renewal of the Convention bill of 1793. The hon. member then proceeded, amidst much confusion, to reiterate his opposition to this measure, which he considered full of mockery and insult. He trusted that, if it were carried into a law in that House, the Catholics would not only petition the House of Lords to throw it out, but in case it passed there, would petition the Throne to withhold from it the royal assent. The measure was a mockery—an insult to the Irish people. It had been said, that the Rent was torn from the people; that he would contradict flatly. He could assure the right hon. gentleman and his colleagues, that they were undertaking the most awful responsibility. If they looked to history; they would find, that, though governments might succeed in suppressing the spirit of the people for a short period, they were unable to extinguish it altogether, or to 697 avert the natural consequence of mal-administration from breaking out at last. He called upon them to take warning by those events which had, within a short period, convulsed almost every state in Europe. He wished that any measure of conciliation should proceed from the government itself rather than from any other quarter, because it would have the effect of making the population at once grateful and contented. He implored ministers to pause before they passed this bill. He besought them to assemble again in cabinet council, and consider whether it would not be both just and politic to abandon it altogether. It was said that it was sanctioned by lord Wellesley; but he could never imagine his lordship to be possessed of such littleness of mind as to advocate a measure fraught with injustice, and calculated to create disturbance throughout the whole country. They had been told that it was the intention of ministers to augment the army to the amount of 15,000 men. He wished to ask where the necessity existed for such an augmentation? He could not help feeling that it looked somewhat suspicious to make such an addition to our military force at the present period. It was stated, that only 5,000 men were required to be added to our force in India; if so, he begged to ask what was to be done with the other 10,000 men. In many of the measures adopted by ministers, but particularly in the recognition of the independence of South America, he fully agreed; but he should like to ask, if they apprehended danger from abroad, whether it was politic, at such a moment, to enforce a measure which would offend and irritate seven millions of their fellow-subjects?
Mr. Secretary Peel
assured the House, that he would detain them but for a very short period indeed, if they would bear with him for that time. He was anxious to set himself right in some points, wherein what he had stated on a former evening was more or less directly concerned. In the first place, he entirely acquitted the hon. gentleman who spoke last, of any intention to intimidate him personally on a former night; and when the hon. gentleman threatened to bring all the members, almost, on his side of the House to the block, he never supposed for a moment that the hon. gentleman meant any thing more than to speak of them in a general way, in their capacity of ministers. But, most undoubtedly, in what- 698 ever way the threat was meant, it would never have the effect of making him swerve from that which he might conceive to be his line of public duty. It was impossible that he should disregard an appeal which had been made to him also, by the hon. member for Taunton; for he had the highest respect for that hon. gentleman, who had raised himself to high rank and influence, solely by his own great exertions, his talents, and his integrity. But, the hon. member would pardon him for saying, that as, in a very few days, the Catholic question must, in some shape or other, be forced upon the attention of parliament, he should decline for the present, being tempted into any discussion on that measure, on the army estimates, or on any other of the questions to which the hon. gentleman's speech had related.—Here the right hon. gentleman adverted to the consistency of his opposition to the Catholic claims; but, he had throughout acted upon his own impressions merely, and not in deference to public feelings, but to his own opinion. He had before opposed this question, and the most mature reflection and consideration had convinced him that he had acted right in so doing. A right hon. gentleman (Mr. Tierney) had talked much of the administration of the marquis of Wellesley, and had appealed to him (Mr. Peel), as to what he thought of the position of affairs, when, as the right hon. gentleman had described it, the vessel of state was upon the breakers. In answer to the right hon. gentleman, he wished to observe, that he had heard his statement with regret. The period to which he referred was 1821; true it was, that he was chief-secretary in 1818, but he had been at the former period three years out of office. It was his wish to quit Ireland in 1817, but he had been prevailed upon to hold his appointment a year longer. When he did quit it, he had the satisfaction of knowing that Ireland was tranquil, and that there existed at that time no Catholic Asssociation. At the same time he felt bound, in justice to others, to state, that no one individual could be responsible for the tranquillity of Ireland. The disturbances which took place in Ireland at that period were to be attributed to the revolution which was caused by a transition from war to peace. They all knew that the effects of that transition were deeply felt here; but they were felt in a ten-fold greater degree in Ireland. It was not his 699 wish to enter much further into the discussion at present, but he hoped the House would allow him to say a few words in his own vindication, in answer to what had been stated on a former evening by the learned member for Winchelsea. In doing this, he was anxious to avoid all cause of irritation. He wished to confine himself solely to establish facts, throwing overboard every matter which might be considered in the slightest possible degree questionable. He had stated on a former evening, that some of the acts of the Catholic Association were equivocal; and that one particular act rendered that body liable to a charge of indiscretion. The act which he alluded to, was the Address of that body to Mr. Hamilton Rowan; an address which was calculated to excite suspicion and alarm in the minds of the constituted authorities of that country. This was his impression when he made the observations which had been so ably commented on by the learned member for Winchelsea; and he begged to assure that learned gentleman, that he had heard his speech upon that occasion with no other feeling than that of admiration; and, if he had found his position untenable, he would have at once abandoned it. But, when he found that his post was tenable, he was sure the learned gentleman would be the first to agree with him in thinking that he ought not to make an inglorious surrender. He must reassert, that the Catholic Association had, by their address to Mr. Hamilton Rowan committed an equivocal act—an act which was calculated to create alarm and suspicion, both in the minds of the public and the government. He would at once give the strongest proof of this assertion, by reading to the House the Letter addressed to Mr. Hamilton Rowan by the Secretary of the Catholic Association. The right hon. Secretary proceeded to read extracts from the letter: it stated, that the Catholic Association were unable to express their admiration of the honest and patriotic efforts of that gentleman; they designated him as a man who had devoted his life to the service of his country, and who now received his sweetest reward in the approbation of his countrymen. He said at the time, and he now repeated it, that this address brought Mr. Hamilton Rowan before the country, as a public character, and that he was, therefore, liable to observations upon his conduct and character. The 700 learned member for Winchelsea had described Mr. Hamilton Rowan as a good father, a good landlord, and an amiable man in all the relations of private life. Did he deny this? He did not. He was as ready as any man to admit what the learned gentleman had stated as to the private qualities of Mr. Rowan; but, in speaking of him there, he spoke only of his public character; and he grounded his observations upon documents to which reference might be had at any moment. He had read the report of the secret committee in 1794,, in which it was stated, that Mr. Hamilton Rowan was in communication and intercourse with an emissary of France, and that he had subsequently been attainted of high treason. The learned gentleman appeared, however, to be of opinion, that that attainder would not have passed, had Mr. Rowan been heard against his accusers. He went further, and stated that Mr. Rowan had been received with courtesy by the Irish government, and more particularly by lord Manners, whom the learned gentleman had been pleased to designate as the very pink of loyalty. It was true that Mr. Rowan had been so attainted without having been tried; but would the learned gentleman take the trouble of recollecting the trial of Mr. Jackson, and the facts which were established upon that occasion. Was Mr. Rowan never called upon to answer for his conduct? and had the House no documents to go upon with respect to his conduct? Had they not an account of his trial, and of his sentence of imprisonment for two years? Had they not an account of his escape from imprisonment when he fled to France? Had they not also the address published by the Society of United Irishmen to the Volunteers of Ireland? Of that society, Mr. Drennan was chairman, and Mr. Hamilton Rowan was Secretary. They must remember too, that this address was published at the period of the French Revolution, when the National Convention was sitting, and when disorder and disunion prevailed in that country. What was the language put forth by Mr. Hamilton Rowan, as Secretary to the United Irishmen, on that occasion? The address commenced as follows:—"Citizen Soldiers, you first took up arms to protect your country from foreign enemies, and from domestic disturbance; for the same purposes it now becomes necessary that you should resume them." The 701 address went on to say "Citizen Soldiers, to arms, take up the shield of freedom, and the pledges of peace—peace, the motive of your virtuous institution. War, an occasional duty, ought never to be made an occupation; every man should become a soldier in the defence of his rights: no man ought to continue a soldier for defending the rights of others; the sacrifice of life in the service of our country is a duty much too honourable to be intrusted to mercenaries, and at this time, when your country has, by public authority, been declared in danger, we conjure you, by your interest, your duty, and your glory, to stand to your arms, and in spite of a police, in spite of a fencible militia, in virtue of two proclamations, to maintain good order in your vicinage, and tranquillity in Ireland." The learned Judge, in passing sentence upon Mr. Rowan, made use of the following observation, which he begged to read to the House—"At this period, 1794, and it is upon the records of parliament, the great body of the Roman Catholics were seeking relief; they presented dutiful addresses, stating they were anxious to be liberated from restraints they laboured under: but you addressed them to take up arms, and by force to obtain their measures. They were palpably to be made a dupe to your designs, because you say you will proceed to the accomplishment of your beloved principles, Universal Emancipation and Representative Legislature. Seduction, calumny, and terror are the means by which you intend to effect them. The volunteers are become instruments in your hands, and despairing to seduce the army, you calumniate them with the opprobrius epithet of mercenaries. You say seduction made them soldiers, but nature made them men. You called upon the people to arm—all are summoned to arms, to introduce a wild system of anarchy, such as now involves France in the horrors of a civil war, and deluges the country with blood." The learned judge went on to state—"It is happy for you, and those who were to have been your instruments, that they did not obey you. It is happy for you that this insidious summons to arms was not observed; if it had been, and the people with force of arms had attempted to make alterations in the constitution of this country, every man concerned would have been guilty of high treason [hear, hear!]."—Having given 702 the learned member full credit for all he had said of the private character of Mr. Rowan, he must again repeat, that in speaking of that gentleman, he only spoke of him in his public capacity, and he could not help adding, that the address of the Catholic Association to him was calculated to excite suspicion and alarm. The learned gentleman had stated, that Mr. Rowan had been received in public and private society in the warmest and most cordial manner. He did not mean to contradict this, but he would refer the House to Mr. Hamilton Rowan's own statement, after having received his free pardon, in the course of which he mentions, that during his absence his wife and children had been most kindly attended to by my lord Clare, who had been been described by the learned gentleman as one of his greatest enemies. But, perhaps it would be best to quote the words of Mr. Rowan himself, when he pleaded his pardon before the Court. He said—"When last I had the honour of appearing before this tribunal, I told your lordships I knew his majesty only by his wielding the force of the country; since that, period, during my legal incapacity and absence beyond seas, my wife and children have not only been unmolested, but protected; and, in addition to those favours, I am now indebted to the royal mercy for my life. I will neither, my lords, insist upon the rectitude of my intentions, nor the extent of my gratitude, lest my con-duct should be attributed to base and unworthy motives; but I hope my future life will evince the sincerity of those feelings with which I am impressed by such unmerited proofs of his majesty's beneficence."* It had been charged against him (Mr. Peel), that he had unfairly suppressed the fact of Mr. Rowan's having been received into public and private society: and the hon. and learned member said, "You, Sir, a member of the Irish government, you, a gentleman residing in Ireland, ought to have known the situation in which Mr. Rowan moved in that country; and," continued the learned gentleman,' "you ought as a member of that government, to know that Mr. Rowan had been a magistrate upon his return—you ought to know that he had been received at the Castle, as well by the prejudiced as the liberal lords lieutenants in Ireland. He*See Howell's State Trials Vol. xxii, p. 1190.703 had been received both by my lord Manners and Mr. Saurin; and they having found no fault, how dare you make an appeal against the beloved name of an individual whom the government of Ireland have placed in the respectable and important situation of a magistrate of the country?" [hear, hear!] The learned gentleman made this statement with a confidence which was most imposing; at the same time, he (Mr. Peel) was fully convinced, that any error on the part of that learned gentleman, was quite unintentional. For himself he gave such credence to the statement of the learned gentleman that he was fully convinced Mr. Rowan was in the commission of the peace. So strongly, indeed, had he been impressed with the idea from the statement made, that he could not venture upon his own authority to contradict it. He therefore applied to the Hanaper Office in Ireland, and the answer was, that after the most minute search, it was found that no such person as Mr. Hamilton Rowan had been admitted to the commission of the peace for any county in Ireland for the last twenty years [loud cheers from the Ministerial benches]. He begged to assure the House, that in making this statement, he entertained no angry feeling towards the learned gentleman, but he would appeal not only to the House, but to the learned gentleman himself, whether he had not by this simple statement, dashed from his hand that poisoned chalice which the learned member had commended to his lips.
§ Mr. Brougham
hoped the House would excuse him, even at that late hour, if he offered a few observations upon what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary. The right hon. gentleman commenced his speech in the most open and candid manner. He appealed to him and to the House with the utmost simplicity—nay, he even quoted his (Mr. B's) speech on a former night, with as much candour and strictness as his recollection of it could enable him to do—and he repeated the terms "rash, indiscreet, equivocal," as applied to the conduct of the Catholic Association, in such a manner, that if no gentleman in that House had heard his (Mr. B's) speech, the right hon. gentleman's statement would have perfectly answered his object. But in his (Mr. B's) recollection rested an impression of words of a very different nature from those now used by the right hon. Secretary—words, 704 too, which made a strong and powerful impression upon the House at the time, but, so different from the mild and softened tone, the appearance of good feeling, with which the right hon. gentleman had addressed the House that night, that he, if questioned, should say no one thing was less like another, than was his present to his former speech [hear, hear]. Would they, asked the right hon. gentleman, defend the Catholic Association after having been informed that they presented an address to a man, who was known to be an attainted traitor. These were the right hon. gentleman's words; and he appealed to that impartial, calm, and judging portion of the House—to those men who sat neither here nor there with party, but who acted upon their own impulses and their own feelings: he appealed to the feelings of the House—he appealed to the feelings of humanity; and begged them to consider what must be the feelings of Mr. Hamilton Rowan, and his friends, upon hearing the right hon. gentleman's statement? What must be the feelings of that gallant officer, captain Hamilton (his son), who had greatly distinguished himself in that service, to fill the lowest official rank in which, was gallant and chivalrous? What, he asked, must be the feelings of that gentleman, when he heard his father publicly denounced as an attainted traitor? [Cheers from the Opposition benches]. Those were the words which had roused his (Mr. B's) feelings, and which, perhaps, had roused them to excess.—He would now proceed in his answer to the right hon. gentleman's statements. Over many of the details of the case, of which he was comparatively ignorant, he would pass. But, there was not a word or a syllable which he had uttered on Friday last, that he was not prepared again to use. He had, on that occasion, defended Mr. Hamilton Rowan. From that defence he did not shrink. He had defended the Catholic Association for mentioning Mr. Hamilton Rowan with respect and affection. That defence he was about to repeat. Although a week's reflection had considerably altered the-tone of the right hon. gentleman, yet, with that exception, no part of the harshness or injustice of his original charge against Mr. Rowan and the Catholic Association was diminished. From that grating charge he (Mr. B.) was about again to defend them both. It was admitted by the right hon. gentleman, that 705 Mr. Hamilton Rowan had not been tried for treason. It was admitted that he had been attainted without previous investigation. But then it seemed that a Mr. Jackson had been so tried, and the right hon. gentleman thought that Mr. Rowan was implicated in that trial. But that was not all. The right hon. gentleman said, that although the attainder was not the result of any trial of Mr. Rowan, yet that gentleman had nevertheless been tried. But, for what offence? For treason? For any offence which gave the right hon. gentleman a right to call him an attainted traitor? By no means. Attainted he certainly was; but the offence for which he was tried was a seditious libel. If the Catholic Association, however, had been wrong in putting an address into the hands of Mr. Hamilton Rowan, because in troublesome and uncertain times he had written something that was deemed a libel, they had since committed another indiscretion of a similar nature. That was not their last folly. Why did the right hon. gentleman stop? Why did he not declare that they were incorrigible? They first declare, that they revere the name of a person who was convicted of writing a seditious libel, in 1794s and, thirty years* experience not having made them wiser, they now confided their petition to that House to the care of an hon. baronet, who had been declared guilty of a libel, and sentenced to imprisonment on the banks of the river which washed their walls. Once for all, he (Mr. Brougham) said, that he should not have felt any difficulty in those times, situated as Ireland then was, as an Irishman, a patriot, and a lover of his country, to set his hand to such a libel as that with which Mr. Hamilton Rowan had been charged. It spoke of arming the people. That was in a country which had voted statues to Grattan. That was in a country in which the volunteers had been called the saviours of Ireland. What Hamilton Rowan declared was, that the people should arm to defend their country, which was in danger. If he meant that they were not to stop after they had driven back the external foe, but were to proceed to obtain civil liberty, that was only what had formerly been done with the sanction of the Irish parliament: that was only what the volunteers of Ireland had done: that was only what, if it had not been done, would have left Ireland to be degraded and enslaved, 706 and perhaps at the present moment not to have formed a part of the empire. They were troublesome times in which Mr. Hamilton Rowan lived. They were times in which the wisest and best patriot might be exposed to danger. Not even that most revered person, whom no man on either side of the House could mention without respect—not even Mr. Grattan was safe. A consultation had been held in the Privy Council, on the propriety of trying Mr. Grattan; and there was reason to believe that Mr. Grattan's leaving his country to attend his duty elsewhere, saved him from much trouble on that occasion.—There were other charges, however, against the Catholic Association, and against Mr. Hamilton Rowan. In the first place, he would observe, that Mr. O' Gorman was not a member of the Catholic Association. But, he did not mean to state that in defence of the Association. They might have adopted Mr. O'Gorman's letter as their own. But, how did the right hon. gentleman close his remarks that evening? By reading the reversal of Mr. Hamilton Rowan's attainder, and the grateful expressions made use of by that gentleman, on the occasion, to his majesty. And yet, that man, so treated by his sovereign, so restored to his family and his country by a free pardon, was, for the purpose of pointing a sarcasm against other persons, of rounding a period, or of obtaining a cheer, to be branded as an attainted traitor! It seemed, according to the right hon. gentleman's own admission, that Mr. Hamilton Rowan was received in private as if no charge had ever been brought against him. His (Mr. B's.) statement was, that he had been so received in public. It was true he had asserted, that Mr. Rowan was in the commission of the peace. But he begged to inform the House, that of that alleged fact he knew no more than the right hon. gentleman knew, except from information which he had only received ten minutes before he rose on Friday, from persons connected with the sister kingdom. He had since seen the same persons, and had been told by them, that they had seen Mr. Rowan's signature to an address of the most unexceptionable character under a title which might have misled any one, namely, "The Address of the undersigned persons, being Magistrates and Grand Jurors of the county of Down." It was evident, therefore, that the mistake, if mistake it was, was very easily made. It must have 707 originated in Mr. Rowan's having signed the address in the capacity of a grand juror, not in that of a magistrate. Having received the information as he had received it, he was bound to communicate it to the House. So far was he from repenting of the statement, that he should have been ashamed of himself if he had not made it. But there were some other statements to make on this subject, which he had omitted when he last addressed the House on the subject. Whether Mr. Rowan was a magistrate or not, was only one circumstance. Let it be taken out of his (Mr. B's) defence, and that defence would still be impregnable. Mr. Rowan was restored to his family and country. Was not that enough? He received a free pardon: was that nothing? He regained all the rights and privileges of a citizen:—was that nothing? He was allowed to act as a grand juror—to pronounce on bills for high treason; was that nothing? He was received at the levees at the Castle: was that nothing? One lord-lieutenant after another treated him with courtesy and kindness. To show what was thought of him by one lord-lieutenant, he was authorized to read to the House a letter from his grace the duke of Bedford—a man not more disposed to be favourable to the propagation of high treason than the right hon. gentlemen opposite, although they assumed to be the only defenders of the altar and the throne. The right hon. gentleman opposite talked as if they were the only persons who had a stake in the country. He could not, however, help believing, that such men as the duke of Bedford had as deep a stake in the welfare and tranquillity of the country, if that was to be considered the test of loyalty, as any man on the opposite benches. The letter was as follows:—"One of the very first official acts of my administration in Ireland, was to recommend the Crown to pardon Mr. Hamilton Rowan. No one act of that short administration gave me more satisfaction; for a more honourable and respectable man never existed in Ireland. "Be it known, then, to the world, that the charge against the Catholic Association is, that even supposing Mr. Hamilton Rowan was not a magistrate, they ventured to join their countrymen in speaking with respect and affection of a man, who was described by the duke of Bedford as one of the most honourable and respectable men that ever existed in Ireland.— 708 He would go a step further. He would ask, who had a right to complain of Mr. Hamilton Rowan?—who had a right to charge the Association with having spoken of him with respect and affection?—who had a right to call him a traitor—when his Sovereign, who had pardoned him, had since smiled upon him? When the Sovereign, himself had received Mr. Hamilton Rowan at his levee, no man living could charge the Association with the slightest degree of indiscretion for manifesting their respect to him. He repeated his opinion that this gentleman had been ungenerously, unnecessarily attacked; and he envied not the feelings of those, who perhaps to round a period or at any rate to make an impression, could indulge in such a charge. He hoped to be permitted to say one word respecting Mr. Baron M'Clelland. He still believed the statements which he had made respecting that judge. He had them from a gentleman whom he knew, and who was counsel in one of the causes. One of his cases had been met by the right hon. gentleman with a specific denial, the other only with a general argumentative reply. Among other things the right hon. gentleman had charged him with using strong language in speaking of the cruelty and the other qualities of the learned judge. The words, however, were not his:Non meus hic sermo est, sed quæ præcepit OfellusRusticus, abnormis sapiens, crassâque Minervâ.The character of the learned judge to which he had alluded, was one drawn by an individual who had a much better knowledge of him than he could pretend to have. But other opportunities would soon be afforded for discussing this subject. A gentleman who had presented a petition to the House two years ago, complaining of Mr. Baron M'Clelland's conduct, was extremely anxious to be heard at the bar, in support of his charge, which was that of malversation. When that charge came to be heard would be time to determine on Mr. Baron M'Clelland's merits. All he would say at present was, that he saw no reason for retracting what he had said on a recent occasion.—As to the measure before the House, he deplored it as one of the greatest evils that could befall the empire. He denounced it as the harbinger of ill to Ireland; as shutting the door against conciliation in that country; as putting an end to the short reign of tranquillity which the Catholic Asso- 709 ciation had, by their efforts, established. His sentiments on the subject had been strengthened rather than weakened, since he last addressed the House on the subject. He now called upon them, for the last time, to pause before they committed what might prove an irreparable mischief. The measure was partial. It was directed, not against the Orangemen, but against the Catholics; and the Catholics only. He had hoped that if not the substance, at least they might have had the semblance, of even-handed justice. But, no such thing. The Catholics were prohibited from meeting as a public association; the Orangemen were permitted to do so [no, no!]. He repeated, that they were. The Orangemen, as well as the Catholics, were prevented from meeting in secret societies; but the Catholics alone were prevented from meeting in public. The bill prohibited meetings for the purpose of petitioning for the redress of grievances, or for any alteration in church or state. Now, who ever heard of Orangemen meeting for such a purpose? They were too happy to maintain the system as it stood. Alteration would be fatal to them. Their meetings would be only for the purpose of upholding the church and state in their present form. Under the mask of impartiality, therefore, the bill was a double-edged sword against the Catholics, but a single one against the Orangemen. The Orangemen might have a parliament; they might have every privilege which the Catholics now possessed, provided they did not seek for alteration; which alteration they did not want. There was only one hope which he still cherished. His last prayer to the House was: If you have determined on passing this act against the Catholics; if you have resolved to commit this grievous injury to Ireland; if you have made up your minds almost to shut the gates of mercy against that unhappy country, at least, on Tuesday next, recollect yourselves; and unless you are insensible to every feeling of humanity, unless you are deaf to the voice of justice, of policy, and of reason, you will retrace some of the steps which you are now madly taking, and give emancipation to the Catholics.
§ Mr. Peel
, in explanation, denied that he had used any tone of peculiar harshness or vehemence. He now calmly re-asserted every expression that had fallen from him on last Friday. In the course of his observations on that evening, he had read a passage from the report of the secret com- 710 mittee, in which it was distinctly stated, that Mr. Rowan had been attainted. What would become of the freedom of debate, if such a proceeding were to be considered as justly censurable?
§ The House then divided: For the third reading 226. Against it, 96. Majority 130. The bill was then read a third time, and passed.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Maberly, W. L.|
|Althorp, visc.||Macdonald, J.|
|Becher, W. W.||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Bective, lord||Mahon, hon. S.|
|Benett, J.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Brougham, H.||Martin, R.|
|Browne, Dom.||Martin, J.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Milton, visc.|
|Bury, visc.||Monck, J. B.|
|Byng, G.||Moore, P.|
|Calcraft, J.||Newport, sir J.|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Normanby, visc.|
|Calvert, C.||Nugent, lord|
|Carew, R. S.||O'Brien, sir E.|
|Caulfield, hon. H.||Ord, W.|
|Cavendish, C. C.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Cavendish, lord G. A. H.||Pares, T.|
|Parnell, sir H.|
|Cavendish, H.||Philips, G., sen.|
|Chaloner, R.||Philips, G. R. jun.|
|Clifton, lord||Power, R.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Poyntz, W. S.|
|Cradock, S.||Price, R.|
|Creevey, T.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Davies, T. H.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Denman, T.||Robarts, G. J.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Ebrington, visc.||Scarlett, J.|
|Evans, W.||Sefton, earl of|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Smith, J.|
|Fitzgerald, right hon. M.||Smith, G.|
|Folkestone, visc.||Somerville, sir M.|
|French, A.||Stuart, lord P. J.|
|Gaskell, B.||Sykes, D.|
|Glenorchy, visc.||Talbot, R. W.|
|Graham, S.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Grattan, J.||Tierney, right hon. G.|
|Guise, sir B. W.||Warre, J. A.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Webbe, E.|
|Heron, sir R.||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Hill, lord A.||White, S.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||White, col.|
|Hume, J.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C. H.||Wood, M.|
|Johnson, W. A.||Wyvill, M.|
|Knight, R.||Duncannon, visc.|
|Lamb, hon. G.||Rice, T. S.|
|Lambton, J. G.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Leycester, R.||Ponsonby, hon.F. C.|
|Lushington, S.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Maberly, J.||Wilkins, W.|