§ Sir Richard Musgrave
presented a Petition from the City of Waterford, signed by a great number of highly respectable persons, praying for an Inquiry into the late affair at Newtownbarry, and also praying the House to adopt measures to disarm the Irish Yeomanry. He heartily concurred in the prayer of the petition, the compliance with which was absolutely necessary to preserve the peace of Ireland. It was certainly most impolitic to arm the Yeomanry—a measure which had caused great alarm among one part of the population in Ireland. He knew that the Yeomanry of the South of Ireland were a class of persons who had long been in open hostility to the Roman Catholics, 1184 and it was, therefore, most impolitic to intrust them with arms before their passions had become subdued. The peace that he was connected with, was solely attributable to the non-employment of the Yeomanry; he strongly reprobated the calling out of the Yeomanry at Newtownbarry as a measure most unadvisedly adopted, unless it was shown there had been a want of other species of force. There was on the spot a body of police, and, if they alone had been employed, they would most probably have prevented so much blood from being shed. It was most imprudent in the Magistrates to call out a body of exasperated men with arms in their hands, and the result was such as might have been expected. They were told that the Magistrate was discreet, and the Clergyman pious; perhaps he was reading his Bible when the Yeomanry were shooting his parishioners; but the facts were, that the levy of tithes had been enforced by the one, and the people shot by the order of the other. Whatever reason there might have been for arming the Yeomanry last year, there was no justification for allowing them to retain their arms now. The noble Lord at the head the Government in Ireland must know, that in case of danger the Yeomanry in Ireland, so far from being of service, would be an encumbrance to the regular army.
would not enter into the painful circumstances which had induced the noble Marquis (the Marquis of Anglesey) to decide upon the step he had taken; at the same time, it was not quite correct to state, that the Government had adopted any new system of arming the Yeomanry. Lord Anglesey only called in inferior arms, and gave out others which would enable the men to do their duty. He would not at present enter into any irritating discussions upon some topics, which only led to accusations and recriminations, nor would he enter into any defence of the deplorable events that had occurred at Newtownbarry, because, as far as the conduct of the Yeomanry and police was concerned, legal investigation was still pending, which would probably lead to the usual ordeal of trial. He could not but deprecate the discussion at the present moment of statements given at the Coroner's Inquest, and in the public newspapers. He agreed that the Yeomanry was not a force which should be 1185 hastily called out, at the discretion of any individual Magistrate; and though the Lord Lieutenant thought it his duty to refrain from expressing his opinions respecting the Yeomanry, he had thought it proper to express his disapprobation of the calling them out by the Magistrates. If he did not express his disapprobation of the conduct of the Yeomanry, it was because the subject was still under consideration. He begged also to say, that while he was not prepared to promise that the Yeomanry should be either disbanded or disarmed, he was ready to say that it was under the consideration of Government, whether a system could not be adopted which should take from the Yeomanry all that was objectionable, leaving only that which was useful. At present, however, he could not with propriety enter into the details of that measure; but with regard to individual cases, if any proofs could be brought to convict either the Officers or Privates of improper conduct, there was no man more ready than Lord Anglesey to take the subject into consideration, and inflict the fullest punishment upon the individuals. With respect to the proceeding of the 12th July, Lord Anglesey gave orders that none of the Yeomanry should attend the processions, and upon complaint that some of them had attended, they were instantly dismissed. He would take that opportunity of alluding to a statement made last night by the hon. and learned member for Kerry, respecting the distributing of arms to the Protestants of a corps, and withholding them from the Catholics. This statement he begged the hon. and learned Member to repeat, now that he was present, for he had not heard of the circumstance before. If the case turned out as the hon. and learned Member had represented it, there could be no measure so strong that the Lord Lieutenant would not adopt to vindicate the character of the Government, and to show his sense of such improper conduct. He begged to put it to the hon. Baronet who presented the petition, whether it would be proper to move, that it be printed, in consequence of the language it contained, as he should certainly be compelled to oppose the printing of it. He would not object to its being brought up, but he should oppose a Motion for printing it, for the petition used very strong and improper language respecting the affair at Newtownbarry. It 1186 said, that the Yeomanry of Ireland consisted of the most ignorant persons, and that they made their power an excuse for robbery and murder. He should put it to the House whether such language should be allowed.
Mr. O' Connell
hoped his hon. friend would persevere in pressing the petition, not only as to its being received, but as to its being printed. The petition stated the fact of the Magistrates having been convinced of the impropriety of employing a force which had done so much mischief. He did not know the distinction between creating and reviving a Yeomanry force; but, until late, that species of force in his own county had been nearly defunct, and merely supported by the Orange Lodge. He was sorry to hear now, that there was no hope that the Yeomanry were to be disarmed, and he could assure the House that it was impossible to say to what extent blood would be spilt by this atrocious force. He was sorry also to be obliged to say, that religious bigotry had been re-animated in Ireland by Lord Anglesey and his servants. They were afraid, too, of the Repeal of the Union, and they encouraged party spirit to weaken the people. If it were intended to massacre the Irish peasantry, if a notion so horrible could be entertained by a set of Ministers with a view of preserving any political system—what better means could be found than to arm one portion of the exasperated people against the other, and exasperate them still more. Let it be recollected, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), who now used mild language, was the individual who proposed to transport those Catholic peasants who had fire-arms in their possession, while he placed fire-arms in the hands of the Orangemen. He begged the right hon. Gentleman to read the speeches of the Protestant gentlemen at a meeting a short time ago in Wexford, and see their feelings as to Government for arming this unbearable Yeomanry force. Let him look at the language of Mr. Boyce and Mr. Osborne, and the right hon. Gentleman would find it ten times stronger than any he (Mr. O'Connell) had ever employed. In regard to the case which he had mentioned last night, he now repeated, that Captain D'Arcy had distributed arms to the Protestants and refused them to the Catholics of his corps, in confirmation of which he read the names of the witnesses 1187 to vouch for its truth. The witnesses would require the protection of Government, which no doubt they would receive. This Captain D'Arcy was in a procession on the 12th of July, carrying an Orange flag. He had some recollection that the right hon. Gentleman had, on a former night, said, that the arming of the Yeomanry was to cease; but he had heard that several corps had since then been armed. Unless the Yeomanry were disarmed, there would be more bloodshed. He would not enter into the Newtownbarry case, though that was classic ground in the list of Irish grievances, for it was on a petition from that place that Lord Byron made his first speech in Parliament. He would only say, in that case every Officer denied having given any orders to fire; therefore the men must have fired without orders, which was an abundant reason for disarming them. The House would have petitions upon this subject from every part of Ireland; he should have to present one from Galway in a few days. If the Government wanted an increase of force in Ireland, let them send an army there; the King's troops were the people's friends, and between them and the people, notwithstanding the troops were sometimes required to perform a painful duty, the utmost harmony existed.
knew, that the Officer whose conduct had been alluded to was so respectably connected, that nothing improper he might do would be sanctioned by his friends. He would assert, that the Fermanagh Yeomanry was a most Constitutional corps, and they had taken no part whatever in any illegal proceedings. They were chiefly Protestants, undoubtedly, but that did not arise from any exclusive principle, but because the majority of the inhabitants in Fermanagh were of that persuasion. He entirely disapproved of disbanding the Yeomanry, who were a useful and efficient body in maintaining the tranquillity of the country.
§ Mr. Brownlow
said, this was a petition for the general disarming of the Yeomanry of Ireland; and the present petition occasioned him considerable embarrassment—not, certainly, with respect to the opinion he should give; but placed as he was in the midst of the Yeomanry of Ireland—living as he did in the midst of a camp of armed men—he was afraid lest what he might say should be construed disrespectfully, as reflecting upon some individuals, 1188 as such, who were the hardy, laborious, and most valuable population of the North of Ireland. He would speak only of the bad, odious, vicious, and dangerous principle—the principle of religious exclusion—on which these Yeomanry were brought together, and he could not but say it with regret, not hostility, that he viewed that as a most dangerous and ill-timed step, which his Majesty's Government had taken, in renewing that force in Ireland, when it was nearly extinct. He very much doubted the wisdom of such a force, even in this country; but surely, if there was any justice in that opinion, it applied with tenfold force and weight to Ireland, where mutual party hostility so much prevailed, and where the unhappy differences between the members of the dominant religions and the Catholics tended so much to foster dissentions. He trusted, that Ministers would review their opinion upon this subject, and remove the source of universal complaint.
Sir John Bourke,
although he did not like the word "massacre," did not think that it was sufficient to justify the proposition not to print the petition. He agreed with the petitioners as to the impropriety of calling out the Yeomanry in the present state of party feelings in Ireland. If a greater force were necessary to maintain the peace of Ireland, he should prefer an extension of the military, and of the police. At the same time he would admit, that the services of the Yeomanry had been considerable in times of internal commotion and external danger, and if the same causes should again require their aid, he trusted they would be found fully as efficient as they had heretofore been. But in times of peace to call out a force, that was viewed with so much discontent, was injudicious.
§ Sir John Newport
observed, that during the whole of his life he had disapproved of the establishment of the Yeomanry corps in Ireland. They carried into the ranks, feelings which disabled them from acting with discipline or proper order. If a proof of that fact were necessary, it would be found in the different sentiments with which the people of Ireland regarded the Yeomanry and the regular force. Where the latter were quartered, the people considered themselves safe in person and goods, but they had no such confidence in the former, and this was to be accounted for by the inhabitants being divided by 1189 strong political and religious distinctions, which gave rise to great personal animosity. To put arms, therefore, into the hands of one class exclusively, was to risk their being used more against political opponents, than to maintain the general tranquillity. He very much doubted if a Yeomanry force would be expedient in England; in Ireland it was ten thousand times less expedient. With respect to the printing of the petition, seeing that there were many respectable names attached to it, and that, in cases of strong excitement, persons were apt to express themselves in strong language, he should be reluctant to oppose the Motion.
§ Sir George Clerk
confessed, that he had no local knowledge upon this subject, and even if he had, he would not debate so important a matter upon the presentation of a petition. But he would certainly vote against the petition being printed, because it would be giving the sanction of the House to its contents; and not only that, but materially prejudicing the trial of parties who were now in confinement. The petitioners talked of the unfortunate affair at Newtownbarry as a "massacre," and if this House sanctioned such a charge, the accused could not expect to have justice done them. Upon these grounds he would vote against the petition being printed.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
said, that he would certainly vote with the Government against the printing of this petition. The conduct of the Irish Yeomanry was easily to be defended, and if he did not enter upon it now, it was not for want of materials, but because a more convenient, opportunity might soon occur. Some Members, in the course of these discussions, had ransacked a period of ten years back to find ground of charge against the Yeomanry; but they would have done more justice had they referred to the period of 1798, when the Yeomanry stood in the breach, and rendered the most essential service to England and Ireland, and preserved the connection between them. Upon this subject Members would find valuable information in Sir Richard Musgrave's History of the Irish Rebellion. As long as he had a seat, in that House. he would never remain silent and permit the characters of innocent men to be aspersed and calumniated. If, night after night, the characters of pious clergymen and respectable Magistrates were aspersed, 1190 he could assure the House, he was amply prepared with evidence to defend them. He could carry the House into a deeper discussion as to the conduct of the Irish Yeomanry than they might be aware, and he was fully prepared with the necessary materials. The Yeomanry of Ireland were loyal and respectable, and had conferred invaluable blessings on both countries.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
expressed his regret that this discussion had been protracted, after the tone of moderation with which the petition was introduced.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
The hon. Member, in a very unparliamentary manner, has cried out "moderation with a vengeance!" And he put it to the House if the conduct of the hon. Member who presented the petition was not moderation itself, when contrasted with the angry exhibitions so often exhibited by the hon. Member. He had no objection that the complaints of the people should find their way to that House, but he was very much afraid that the medicine of the gallant Officer would rather increase that disease in Ireland, which it might be his object to cure. It was wrong to refer to the period of 1798, except with a view to take warning by the lessons which its history imparted; and it was a little too bad to recriminate the deeds of such a period upon those who were then unborn. If the hon. Member had either that charity or that benevolence to which he laid claim, he would not have referred to 1798. But the gallant Officer had no identity with Ireland—he had neither family ties nor connections with that country—he had no property there to wed him to the soil, or make him seek for the general prosperity of Ireland. Oh, no! if he had, he would not throw such a firebrand amongst an easily-excited people, and thus aggravate the evils which already-existed. There was no objection to the reception of the petition, and after this discussion he saw no great objection to its being printed, as its effect would be stated to the world by to-morrow morning in the usual vehicles of information. His right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) distinctly stated, that some improvements would be made in the organization of the Irish Yeomanry; and also, that, if any specific abuse was pointed out, it should be investigated, and, if necessary, punishment inflicted. A case had been furnished by the hon. 1191 Member (Mr. O'Connell), and it had been immediately attended to. He had felt very warmly upon the subject, but he could assure the hon. Member, that he neither meant to give pain nor offence. If he, in the heat of debate, had done so, he begged to apologise to the hon. and gallant Member.
Sir Josiah Host
considered the very principle on which the Yeomanry corps were established, to be in itself a vicious principle. He had never heard the loyalty of that corps impugned; the great crime with which they were charged was a superfluity of loyalty, accompanied with a great lack of discretion. In actual war he had no doubt they would render good service, but bands of politicians were unfit persons to be intrusted with arms in times of peace. He objected to the course which his Majesty's Ministers had taken, in opposing the printing of the petition, which he did not consider to be couched in unparliamentary language. He saw no objection whatever to the printing of the petition, and if the sense of the House were taken upon it, he should certainly vote for it.
did not consider, that any measure connected with his Majesty's Government was involved in the printing of the petition, but he objected to it on the ground of its stating, that the whole body of the Yeomanry of Ireland were waiting for an opportunity or pretext of murder, to cover their resentment against the Catholics of Ireland. He considered that an expression to which the House ought not to give publicity. If, however, he found the general feeling of the House was in favour of printing the petition, after having stated what he had done, he should not object to it, and would not press the House to a division.
thought the language of the petition so objectionable, that he must oppose the printing of it. He believed the facts of the case on which it was founded, would by no means authorise the violent and inflammatory language it contained. It alluded to what had occurred at Newtownbarry; he deeply deplored that occurrence—but while legal proceedings were pending on the subject, he thought that no opinion ought to be pronounced upon it, and no sanction given to any opinion by that House publishing it.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, that if the right hon. the Chief Secretary for Ireland 1192 thought it necessary to call out 30,000 or 40,000 Yeomanry, he ought to have, in the first instance, submitted the subject to a Committee of that House. As far as he had an opportunity of observing, not a single Yeoman was necessary. Independent of which, their commanders had been improperly selected; they were mostly violent political partizans, and the armed man who used his weapons against unarmed people, deserved execration, instead of being considered as a brave or useful soldier. The application of Yeomanry to the present condition of Ireland, was like the application of a blister to a sore. Objection had been made to the introduction of the word "massacre" into the petition. To him it appeared, that the act in question was not only a massacre, but an act of cowardice. It was a gross, outrageous, unjustifiable massacre. The Yeomanry of Ireland had been used for the purpose of effecting the Union; he trusted they would not allow themselves to be made the tools of Government in the present times.
Sir Robert Inglis
said, that many expressions in the petition would be considered libellous in a Court of Law, and that, therefore, the House could not be justified in giving it currency.
§ Mr. Henry Lambert
said, the Yeomanry were not a description of force which could be safely trusted with arms at this moment. They had themselves allowed, that their only pretext for firing at Newtownbarry was, that the people were noisy and turbulent, but that no actual riot prevailed, nor had the Riot Act been read. He hoped Government would consent to the prayers of the petition, and disarm the Yeomanry. He must, in the language of the petition, designate the affair at Newtownbarry a horrid massacre, and two honest, industrious fellows, who had voted for him, were singled out and shot upon that bloody plain. The bitterness of party feeling, which led to the massacre, did not end there. When the relatives of the dead were assembled to pay the last tribute to the remains of their friends, the atrocious authors of the deed assembled, and, he was must declare, that the conduct of the Yeomanry, in insulting, by firing outside the chapel, the people whose friends had perished, and who were then offering up their prayers to the throne of God for justice, and not for vengeance, as had been falsely stated, was most abomin- 1193 able. What, he asked, would be the feeling in England, if so cold-blooded an insult had been offered to any number of his Majesty's subjects?
§ Mr. Bodkin
considered, that if it were the wish of the Irish Government to ensure the peace of Ireland, the best way to begin it would be to disarm this Yeomanry corps. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had said, that this was one of the most loyal corps on earth, and he knew not on what foundation such a statement could have been made. Their loyalty had not been proved—their indiscretion had been demonstrated.
denied, that he had ever used such an expression. He had said, he would not allow any Yeomanry corps, or any Orangemen, or any set of individuals, to lay claim to exclusive loyalty. He recollected, on one occasion, in speaking of this corps, he had said, he did not think their loyalty was to be disputed, whatever he might think of their discretion. That was the utmost extent to which he had ever gone in their favour.
said, that he deplored the unfortunate transaction at Newtownbarry, but he considered it most unjust to apply to it the terms massacre and slaughter, particularly when the bill of indictment preferred against the parties implicated in that transaction for murder had been ignored by a Grand Jury, composed of the most respectable gentlemen. It should be remembered also, that the parties who considered themselves aggrieved, had refused to prosecute for the minor offence. With respect to the Yeomanry, as a body, he must declare his opinion, that they were of the greatest use in maintaining the tranquillity of the country. In that part of Ireland where the Yeomanry force was generally established, there were only three regiments of the line; whilst, in the other part of the country, where the Yeomanry force was not established, it was found necessary to maintain fifteen regiments of the line. This fact, ought to induce the most zealous advocate for the suppression of the Yeomanry to pause.
said, the Yeomanry of Carlow were composed of as bad a description of persons as any that could be found, and that was the corps that so gloriously distinguished itself at New townbarry. One of them, when a prisoner, was brought before him in his character of a Magistrate; that person was 1194 dressed in a ragged frieze coat, and did not appear to be more than fourteen years of age. He should like to know who made such a youth as that one of the corps of Yeomanry? He had documents to prove, that the Yeomanry were frequently composed of the very worst characters, though they were all Protestants. He knew many of the individuals by name; there were several sheep-stealers, pick-pockets, and persons guilty of other crimes among them.
Sir Robert Inglis
rose to order. He said, if the proceedings of that House were confined within its own walls, he would not object to the statement of the hon. Member; but, as there were means by which those proceedings became known to the public, he submitted whether the hon. Member ought to attach crime to persons who were not present, and could not defend themselves.
would only remark then, that these corps were composed exclusively of Protestants, and contained amongst them men of the worst, character. If the people of England did not wish to see a rebellion in Ireland, this abominable force ought to be immediately dissolved. He believed, even in consequence of the existence of this force, that, had it not been for the exertions of the Roman Catholic clergy, Ireland would now be in a state of civil war. He believed, that it was owing solely to the exertions of the Roman Catholic clergy, that the people had not dreadfully retaliated for the Newtownbarry affair.
said, that in the county which he represented, there were only three "Yeomanry corps, which conducted themselves very well. With the view of bringing the discussion to a termination, he begged to ask the right hon. Secretary for Ireland a question. About three weeks ago, the right, hon. Gentleman stated, that the issue of arms to the Yeomanry had been suspended. He had since seen, in a publication, a statement that arms had been issued to a certain corps in the county of Wexford; and as lately as the 2nd of August, he perceived, from the Dublin Gazette, that Yeomanry appointments had been made. He wished to know, whether it was the intention of the Government to increase the Yeomanry force?
said, that Government had certainly given orders to suspend the 1195 issue of arms to the Yeomanry. The arms which had been issued since those orders were given, must have been issued by the commanding officers of the different corps, they having received them from the Government previously to the orders being given. In answer to the noble Lord's question, he could state, that Government had no intention of increasing the Yeomanry force in Ireland. The appointments to which the noble Lord had referred must have been made to fill up vacancies which had occurred.
Mr. Arthur Chichester
said, that the strongest feeling prevailed in the county of Wexford against the Yeomanry, and that many petitions, of the same nature as the present, would be transmitted to the House. Before this force was organised, that county had been so tranquil, that a company of infantry—the only force that had been stationed there—had been withdrawn. He considered the suppression of the Yeomanry essential to the peace of the kingdom.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, there was no question in connection with Irish policy which, at present, excited so much attention, among the people of that country, as the continuance of the Yeomanry corps. The petition before them had been complained of, as containing too strong language; he was afraid many more of the same kind might be expected; but he was of opinion all petitions ought to be received, which were not couched in the most disrespectful language, With regard to the utility of the Yeomanry, he would only refer to the presence and efficiency of the regular military at the Waterford and Clare elections, where it was proved, that they had done more to preserve peace by kind words than the Yeomanry had by their bayonets, to show the uselessness of the latter to Ireland. Let Ministers hearken to the advice of their real friends, in this matter, not from this or that section of the country, but from all Ireland, and then they would not need to tremble for its faithful allegiance; but England and Ireland, firmly united, would be one in reality, as well as in name—a blessing which was, however, only to be obtained by equal justice being impartially distributed.
§ Mr. Lefroy
thought, that the time of the House had been most unprofitably occupied for several hours in a discussion about printing a petition. He hoped that hon. Members would discountenance, in 1196 future, such a proceeding. He saw no good whatever which could arise from such a debate, but much contention and ill will.
found it necessary to make a few observations upon what had fallen from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. He knew from experience, that the Irish Yeomanry were an undisciplined and dangerous body of men, who frequently refused to obey their own officers. It had been said, for example, that, at Newtownbarry, they had not been ordered to fire. They were a tumultuous and ungovernable force, and the distinguished nobleman who now presided over that country, who was so good a soldier, would never sanction the continuance of a body which was more efficient to provoke rebellion than suppress disorder. He believed it would be better for all parties if they were disarmed and disbanded.
§ Petition laid on the Table.
§ Sir Richard Musgrave moved, that this Petition be printed. In doing this, he must be permitted to make a few observations upon the remarks of the hon. member for Dundalk. He had not aspersed the character of a clergyman; he had merely observed, that he was said to be a pious gentleman, and perhaps was reading his Bible while the Yeomanry were shooting his parishioners. Surely the hon. Member was not the proper person to complain of strong language, when he so frequently employed it himself. That hon. Member appeared as the nominal Representative of the 14,000 Catholic inhabitants of the town of Dundalk, and yet he had not hesitated to present a petition, in which Catholics were termed idolaters, and were said to be pointed out in Scripture as doomed to perdition. He earnestly hoped, as the petition proceeded from the friends of those who fell on that unhappy occasion, that the House would not reject it, because the strong sentiments it contained were not agreeable to the delicate ears of certain hon. Gentlemen.
said, that, in his opinion, the petition ought not to be printed. He had already thrown out a suggestion to the same effect; but, as many hon. Members appeared to wish this should be done, if the matter were pressed to a division, he would not oppose it further.
§ Mr. Cresset Pelham
had very strong objections to the petition being printed, as it referred to a subject which he believed was in a course of judicial investigation.
§ Sir George Warrender
declared, that it was his intention to oppose the printing of the petition. He had, on a former evening, when a petition was presented by the hon. member for Dundalk, taken the same course; in each instance his motives were the same. He objected to printing such petitions, because it was the duty of that House, and of every Gentleman in it, to do all he could to establish the welfare and tranquillity of Ireland; and, in pursuing that course, to set his face against the promulgation of any sentiments, coming; from whatever party they might, which had a tendency, not to conciliate and soften, but to inflame and exasperate, those angry feelings which at present unhappily existed.
entreated those Gentlemen who were hostile to the petition, not to divide the House upon the Motion for printing it. If they knew the feverish and agitated state of the public mind in Ireland, they would not take such a step. If they refused to print that petition, the suffering people, who sought for redress, would be driven to despair. Instead of three or four petitions, which were now preparing, a thousand petitions would be forthcoming—a thousand public meetings would be held on this subject. Let hon. Gentlemen reflect on the strong language which was held by Mr. Boyce, and other respectable Protestants, in the county of Wexford, with respect to the conduct of the Yeomanry, and learn from it what that conduct was. He was always anxious to make the people of Ireland turn their eyes towards that House, and look to it for justice and protection; but how could he expect that they would do so, if their well-founded complaints were treated in this manner?
§ Sir George Murray
said, that, if the House divided, he should certainly vote against printing the petition. He had always endeavoured to view with an impartial eye, the two parties which had so long divided Ireland; greatly did he deplore and regret the excesses which were committed, and gladly would he contribute, by every means in his power, to prevent them. The manner in which the Romans governed their provinces, had been beautifully described by Tacitus, in his life of Agricola. The historian said, "Ceterum animorum provinciæ prudens, simulque doctus per aliena experimenta, parum profici armis, si, injuriæ sequeren- 1198 tur, causas bellorum statuit excidere." This ought at all times to have been the policy of England towards Ireland. But it had not been so. In many instances, the policy pursued with respect to that country, had been unjust and oppressive. Insubordination, dissension, and bloodshed, were frequently the consequence; but, instead of looking to the causes of those disturbances—instead of directing a strict inquiry into the reason which gave rise to discontent and dissatisfaction—the general system pursued by England to Ireland, under such circumstances, had been, to increase the oppression, and to extend the injustice; and he did not confine these remarks wholly to former circumstances, but to a recent measure introduced into that House, to show the same system was continued; he alluded to the Irish Arms Bill—a measure which he considered unjust and tyrannical. He lamented that it had been introduced, and it gave him pleasure, that the representations of the hon. member for Kerry had been successful in causing it to be abandoned. If it were even abandoned from, weakness, still he rejoiced in the event. He objected to the printing of this petition, because it contained what he believed to be calumnies against the Yeomanry, many of whom were very respectable persons. He could not consent to the promulgation of a petition which set forth, that the Yeomanry "were actuated by sentiments of bitter and inveterate hostility to the Roman Catholics, whom they on all occasions treated with insult, in order that they might, by provoking, find pretexts to murder them;" because he believed these remarks were calumnious and untrue. He had known the services of the Yeomanry in the year 1798, and on many occasions since, and he believed many intelligent and respectable persons belonged to the corps. Statements of this irritating nature ought not to be sent forth.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the words in which the subject of the petition was conveyed to the House, as well as the nature of the petition itself, placed the Government in a difficult position. It was, perhaps, true, that the printing of the petition would be likely to increase irritating feelings among some classes of people in Ireland, and it certainly ought to be the wish of every Member of that House, to do what he could to soothe the feelings of 1199 the different parties there. If they were to print the petition, they would be the means of giving publication to the sentence which they had just heard read; and if they were to refuse to print the petition, they should be irritating the feelings of the people, already enough excited by the affair at Newtownbarry. Seeing the difficulty by which they were met on either hand, he should certainly wish to avoid taking any decisive measure. He should, therefore, suggest to the hon. Gentleman, the propriety of withdrawing his Motion. If he were obliged to give his vote on the question of printing this petition or not, he should take what he considered at best but as a balance of evils. After the petition had been presented—after it had been received by the House, and ordered to lie on the Table, he must say, that he felt very unwilling to decide, that it should not be printed; but still he thought he should be right in saying, that there would be a less chance of creating irritation in deciding that it should not, than in saying that it should be printed; and if, therefore, the question was put to the vote, he should certainly oppose the printing; but he must repeat, that he should regret the necessity of giving a vote on the subject.
felt himself in a situation of some difficulty. He regretted very much, that he should be obliged to differ from his noble friend; but, knowing as he did, the state of Ireland, and the feeling on this subject, and believing, too, that the people might not be able to understand the distinction between the refusal to print the petition, and the rejection of the petition itself, he should certainly vote in favour of the Motion.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that here was a petition, stating that seventeen persons had been killed, and twenty-three wounded, by the Yeomanry, and the petitioners called this massacre, or murder. Now, in the time of Castlereagh ["Oh, oh"]. He was not surprised that the mention of Castlereagh's name induced hon. Members to call out "Oh, oh." Ten years ago, a petition had been presented, charging certain Yeomanry with the same crime, and the humane and generous Castlereagh did not resist the printing of that petition, because he knew that it would allow a vent to exasperated feeling. He hoped that the present Ministry would not be less liberal than Sidmouth and Castlereagh.
§ Lord Althorp
did not object to the printing of the petition because it cast imputations upon any particular persons, but because it said, that the whole body of the Yeomanry took an opportunity of murdering the people of Ireland.
said, the question was, whether the House would irritate a class of Yeomanry, or offend the people of Ireland? Who were the authorities on one side, and on the other? First, there was the hon. Baronet, the member for Waterford, a man of high character, and a Gentleman whose opinion was of importance. Opposed to him was the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, a Gentleman of first-rate parliamentary reputation, but who could not possibly be equal to the hon. Baronet, in his knowledge of the feelings of the Irish people. Then came the member for Dundalk—he gave utterance to that hon. Member's name—he thought it would not be necessary to add a comment. Then came the hon. members for Donegall and Enniskillen; and lastly, there was the noble Lord, the member for the county of Kilkenny—a Gentleman who, if not actually a part of the Government, was so linked with it, as to be considered a portion of the Government. What did he say? Why, that the petition ought to be printed—that the Government should, in fact, learn how to steer the vessel of the State in a different course, and raise their eye to a better and more fixed star, than they had hitherto taken as their guide. Under these circumstances, where was the choice of authority? Was it not greater in favour of printing the petition, than against it? He asked the question of the Government, and he put it as a single Irish Member—who had coincided with them? Was there one of all their usual supporters, who joined with them in thinking, that this petition ought not to be printed? The Gentlemen on the other side of the House, their opponents, supported their present view. He warned the Government, however, not to be induced to accept their alliance. What, would the Government select them in preference to its friends? He warned them not to do so—he urged them to reply to their new allies,Your praise is censure, and your censure praise.Their new supporters would only embrace them, to hug them to death. He called on them in the name of Ireland, and of the whole Irish people, not to be afraid of 1201 offending the Yeomanry, for they were enrolled together in bands, that were in no danger of separating. Let them not fear to offend the Yeomanry; but with respect to the Irish people, he would only repeat, that there were 8,000,000 of agitated and strongly exasperated men. On these men, the greatest blessing had been lately conferred, and he called on the Ministers, not to mar the effects of that blessing by their conduct at this moment.
§ Mr. Briscoe
thought, that before the House could come to a proper vote on this subject, the petition ought to be read. They had heard what would be the consequence of refusing to print the petition, and he thought they had heard enough to induce them to pause before they determined on rejecting the Motion. The impression on his mind, from all he heard, was, that the conduct of the Yeomanry was unjustifiable. It appeared that this corps was regularly drawn up with prepared arms, and in their front was an unarmed body of persons; without the Riot Act having been read, and contrary to the orders of their Officer, while the people were retiring they fired, and killed and wounded nearly fifty persons. None of the men who had committed this atrocious act had been punished, and the sorrowing relatives of the victims felt strongly, and necessarily, therefore, expressed themselves strongly, when they found that they could obtain no justice against the perpetrators of this murderous outrage. He suggested that the petition should be read at the Table, that every Member might be made fully aware of its contents.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
rose and was, received with marks of disapprobation which lasted for several seconds. "I can," said the hon. Member "await the pleasure of those who are thus interrupting me, but I will be heard. If I am trespassing on the House, the fault does not rest with me. I rise to tell the hon. member for Louth, that he shall not, by a sneer—by a rhetorical artifice—hold my conduct up to the contempt and laughter of the House. I tell the hon. member for Louth, and I will act up to my declaration, that he never shall, with impunity, express by innuendo, and without stating his charge, any thing personally offensive to me. It may be quite convenient for the hon. Member to conclude or stop short with a sneer when alluding to me, but I tell him that such conduct shall not pass without 1202 the censure and rebuke it deserves. The hon. member for Louth has, I say, acted in an unparliamentary manner, and his language is not that adopted in the society of gentlemen, either expressed or implied.
§ The Speaker
said, the hon. Member had alluded to the conduct of the hon. member for Louth, as being unparliamentary, and he had also spoken of language used by that hon. Member as unfit for the society of gentlemen. He had alluded to an innuendo, and also to the silence, or stopping short, of that hon. Member at a particular point. Now the hon. Member might have construed that innuendo, or that stopping short, in a way to satisfy himself, though the House might not be aware of its correctness.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
My understanding and construction of the case is this;—The hon. member for Louth said—"It is sufficient to mention the name of the hon. member for Dundalk,—comment is unnecessary." Now I could be at no loss to construe this into a something, which I have no hesitation in saying is not usual in the phraseology adopted amongst gentlemen.
Sir Robert Peel
regretted the importance, the undue importance, which had been given to the printing of this petition. He regretted, too, the mode in which the hon. member for Louth had thought fit to address the House. When he recollected the speech which that hon. Member had made on the question of Reform, and the desire he then expressed (and no doubt very sincerely), that all distinctions founded upon religious differences should be for ever abolished, it was with pain that he heard the hon. Member arrogate to one particular class in Ireland the name of the Irish nation, to the exclusion of that other, and that important, though less numerous class, the Protestants of Ireland. He had before opposed the printing of a petition which cast reflections upon his Catholic fellow-subjects, and on the same ground he should now concur with those who determined to refuse the printing of this petition, which cast indiscriminate and groundless reflections on a large body of the Irish people. The petition stated, that the Yeomanry fired upon the people, not only without orders, 1203 but in defiance of directions from their officers: that was not borne out by the facts that appeared in the investigation of the charge in a Court of justice. After a full investigation, the charge of murder was dismissed. The case might again come forward for judicial investigation, and he thought, therefore, the House could not sanction the printing of the petition. To him it appeared wholly impossible, that hon. Gentlemen could believe the charges brought forward against the Yeomanry. Did the noble Lord (the member for Meath), who had three Yeomanry corps in his county, of whose conduct he had spoken in the highest terms of praise—did he desire to give currency to such charges as were contained in this petition? It was hardly possible to believe that he could entertain such a wish. On these grounds, therefore, and on the ground that legal proceedings were either still pending, or were now likely to be commenced, with respect to the matter which was the subject of this petition, he should oppose the Motion for printing it.
, in explanation, said, that the right hon. Baronet, with much courtesy, had alluded to a speech of his, expressive of his wish for the abolition of all differences founded upon religious distinctions, and had accused him of having, in the present instance, departed from the precept he then laid down. The right hon. Baronet was mistaken in making this charge; for he (Mr. Shell) well knew the difference between the people of the North of Ireland and a particular class of Irish Yeomanry, and he was most anxious to make a distinction between them. Now that he was upon his legs, he wished to say something in the way of explanation to another hon. Member. He had never intended to say anything that could give offence to the hon. member for Dundalk, and he was most anxious to remove the impression of offence from the mind of that hon. Member. The pause in the middle of the sentence of which the hon. Member complained, was made for the purpose of preserving himself from saying that which might, perhaps, have been offensive. He would now state what that was. It was this—that in his judgment, a Gentleman who, since he had been in Parliament, had evinced feelings so strong on this subject, showing no unsoundness of heart, but a proneness to a particular class of opinions, had, by so doing, taken 1204 away from his opinions the value of authority upon Irish questions. He must now observe, that it was a matter of astonishment to him, that a Gentleman who was so strenuous in Christian Orthodoxy should permit such a slight matter so to have ruffled his temper. If, however, he had inflicted a wound on the hon. Member's feelings, he was anxious to say, that he had done so unintentionally, and he regretted it.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
begged to assure the hon. member for Louth, that his explanation had conveyed to him a feeling of entire satisfaction. He was one of those who was always disposed to entertain the highest respect for persons who conscientiously differed from him in opinion. He should be the last man to find fault with difference of opinion, but he had thought that the insinuation of the hon. and learned Member was intended to dip below that. It gave him much pleasure to find that he was mistaken.
, as he had been pointedly alluded to by the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, must beg, that the House would permit him to trespass on its attention for a few minutes. He had certainly stated, that in the county of Meath there were three corps of Yeomanry, composed of most respectable persons, but he wholly denied the inference the hon. Baronet drew from that statement, viz. that he (Lord Killeen) could not vote for the printing of a petition which cast a stigma upon all the Yeomanry of Ireland. He certainly intended to vote for the printing of the petition, without, however, adopting all the language it contained. The wording was much too general, but as it emanated from a general county meeting, he thought on that account it ought not to be rejected. The House, he acknowledged, was placed in some difficulty with regard to it, but he thought that the printing of the petition would not add much to the publicity which it would obtain by the discussion that had already taken place.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, that the House ought by no means to reject the petition in consequence of the informality of the expressions in which it was couched. If such a rule of rejection were established, scarcely a petition from Ireland would ever be admissible. The House was not bound to adopt as its own the sentiments and feelings of any petitioners.
§ Mr. Daniel W. Harvey
wished to know, before he gave his vote on this subject, whether proceedings relative to this affair were still pending; or whether it was still intended to bring this matter to a legal inquiry? As he was answered upon that question, he should give his vote for or against the printing of the petition. It was said, that printing this petition would calm the public mind in Ireland; but if judicial proceedings upon the case involved were instituted, or were to be instituted, he should object to the Motion; for to calm the public mind at such a sacrifice, by tainting the stream of justice, would be utterly unworthy of that House. The laws should be held sacred, their course should be unimpeded, and if that were not the case, justice would become a victim to the slavish tyranny of public opinion. No man living had kindlier feelings towards Ireland than he had; but he must say, that some of the Irish Members bore too keenly upon the present Government. He firmly believed, that the present Government were anxious to heal the wounds and to redress the wrongs of that hitherto misgoverned and ill-fated country; but the Members should remember, that the cure could not be effected in a single day or by a single statute. He hoped to hear from some responsible member of the Government, that this dreadful transaction was undergoing or would undergo, a strict investigation. If such was the fact, if a legal inquiry was in progress, he appealed to the House whether it would be proper to give circulation to an ex parte statement.
rose, merely for the purpose of directly answering the question of the hon. member for Colchester. Bills had been sent up to the Grand Jury for murder, and all of them had been ignored. When these bills for murder were ignored, the persons who acted for the relatives of the parties, refused to send up bills for manslaughter to the Grand Jury. The persons, however, who acted for the Crown, very properly thought, that it was their duty not to let the matter rest so, and they therefore sent up bills for manslaughter. All these bills, except one, were ignored; and when the trial of the person against whom this one bill had been found, came on, none of the witnesses were in attendance. The Crown, however, intended to proceed with this trial at the next assizes, and, besides this one person, some other men had 1206 been held to bail, and would also be proceeded against at the next assizes. The legal proceedings, therefore, which had arisen out of the unfortunate affair mentioned in the petition could not be said to be concluded; and it should also be recollected, that the relatives of the parties might, if they pleased, prefer bills before another Grand Jury. While upon this subject, he thought he might, without any violation of confidence, read a passage from a letter which he had received a day or two ago from Lord Anglesey. The passage ran thus—"I have directed a letter to be written to the Wexford Magistrates, the sense of which is to condemn the calling out of the Yeomanry upon the late occasion, and accounting for no opinion being given, or measures taken, upon the matter, on the ground that it is still the subject of legal investigation." In conclusion, he would only express a hope, that the hon. Baronet would not, under all the circumstances of the case, press his Motion to a division.
said, that it was by his advice that the agent of the relatives of the parties had acted. They had declined to prosecute further, and there was, in fact, therefore, no legal proceedings pending on the subject. He hoped that the hon. Baronet would press his Motion to a division, in order that the people of Ireland might see, that they had, at least, some friends in that House.
The Attorney General
said, that the people of Ireland had, and they ought to feel it, not only some friends in that House, but a great many friends. Indeed, he thought he might safely say, that there was not a single Member of that House, who was not the sincere and warm-hearted friend of Ireland. He could not help appealing to all who were subjected to the affliction of listening to such discussions as these, whether it was just or wise, or even prudent, to sanction the notion that the peace of Ireland was to depend upon an Irish petition being printed or not. If excitement and agitation prevailed in Ireland to so great an extent as to produce the effects which were described as likely to flow from not printing this petition, let those who were so well acquainted with that excitement and with that agitation, explain to their mistaken fellow-countrymen, that it was not out of disrespect or disregard to them, but merely in conformity with the usages of the House, 1207 that the petition, though brought up and read, and ordered to lie on the Table, was not allowed to be printed; or, if the Gentlemen did not choose to give this explanation to their fellow-countrymen, let them, at least, abstain from language which was an encouragement of agitation, and a premium for discontent. He greatly regretted that the hon. and learned member for Louth (Mr. Sheil) should have put this question to the Government in the manner in which he had put it. Let him tell the hon. and learned Member, that the Government could not with propriety have any other feeling on such a question, than to preserve a composed course; and that to say to a Government, "This side votes for you generally, and that side never gives you a vote," was not the tone in which any Government ought to be addressed, any more than such language contained principles on which any honest Ministers could permit themselves to act. He could not persuade himself, that that House could be brought to commit an act of injustice, through apprehension of the consequences which might result from the performance of their duty—consequences, which those who denounced them, had the best means of preventing.
thought it was monstrous to assert, that, because the House received the petition, they adopted the terms in which it was couched. He had to tell the House, that seventeen fellow-subjects of his had been put to death without the forms of the law. Whatever language others might use upon the subject, he would call the act an act of massacre; aye, an act of murder. After the unfortunate and unavailable appeal to the authorities of Ireland, where the proceedings could not have been fair, since those who committed this atrocious outrage escaped punishment, what had the people to do, but to appeal to that House? He called upon the House not to refuse the petition because of a few unmeasured expressions. He objected to the adoption of any conduct towards Ireland calculated to wound the feelings of the people; and he hoped the House would not say to Ireland, "We reject your petition, because you have not addressed us in language to which we are accustomed." It was justice, mere justice, that Ireland required; and the petition before the House asked for nothing else, and should certainly not want his support.
§ Mr. Crampton
repeated the statement 1208 which Mr. Stanley had made, with regard to the legal proceedings standing over till the next assizes, and, on that ground, he should vote against the petition being printed. If the petition were printed, it would be considered that the House adopted its contents; and this would be finding parties guilty before they were tried. And on what evidence would the House do this? Why, upon the evidence of the petitioners, who, residing in Waterford, could have no personal knowledge of the facts of an affair which had taken place in Wexford. He had no doubt, that the printing or the not printing of this petition would be equally made a ground for exciting discontent in Ireland; but he was sure, that the printing of the petition would be an act of injustice.
§ The House divided on the Motion that the petition be printed: Ayes 76: Noes 238— Majority 162.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adam, Admiral||Killeen, Lord|
|Bainbridge, E.||Labouchere, H.|
|Blackney, W.||Lambert, H.|
|Blamire, W.||Lambert, J.|
|Bodkin, J.||Langton, G.|
|Bouverie, P.||Leader, N.|
|Boyle, J.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||M'Namara, W.|
|Brougham, W.||Marshall, W.|
|Brown, J.||Mullins, F.|
|Brownlow, C.||Newport, Sir J.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||O'Connell, D.|
|Burke, Sir J.||O'Conor, Don|
|Callaghan, D.||O'Ferrall, R.|
|Chapman, M.||O'Grady, S.|
|Davies, Colonel||Paget, T.|
|Dawson, A.||Pendarvis, E.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Penryn, L.|
|Doyle, Sir J. M.||Power, R.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Protheroe, E.|
|Ellis, W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Evans, Colonel||Sanford, E. A.|
|Evans, W.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Ewart, W.||Stewart, Lord J.|
|Ferguson, C.||Strutt, E.|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||Thicknesse, R.|
|French, A.||Torrens, R.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Vernon, G.|
|Gisborne, T.||Vincent, Sir F.|
|Gordon, R.||Walker, C.|
|Grattan, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Heron, Sir R.||Watson, Hon. R.|
|Hoskins, K.||White, H.|
|Host, Sir J. W.||Wilks, J.|
|Howard, P. H.||Wood, John|
|Hunt, H.||Wyse, T.|
|Kemp, T.||Hume, J.|
|Kennedy, T.||Musgrave, Sir R.|