§ The Order of the Day read, for the resumption of the Debate on the Address.
§ Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer
said, he rose under feelings of some embarrassment, to express his opinions on certain parts of the proposed Address to his Majesty. He did not entirely agree with the Motion of the learned member for Dublin—a Motion for a Committee on the whole Speech did not sufficiently mark the difference between one part of that Speech and another; at the same time, he could not persuade himself to give unqualified approbation to the Address moved by the noble Lord. There might be points relating to the affairs of this country, which, he agreed with the hon. member for Knaresborough, 239 who spoke last night, in thinking it would have been desirable to have alluded to in the Speech from the Crown, such as the condition of the operative classes, and he must add, the long-delayed revision of the Poor-laws; but he knew that the questions that were alluded to, such as the Church Reform, and the Charters of the Bank and the East-India Company, pressed for immediate attention, and if adjusted to the satisfaction of the country, they would be no ordinary benefit to reap in one Session. He was contented, therefore, with those parts of his Majesty's Speech which related to England. As to foreign affairs, he concurred cheerfully in the correspondent parts of the Address. But when he came to that part of the Address which related to Ireland, he felt all his satisfaction counterbalanced by surprise and regret. In that part of his Majesty's Speech, he thought he heard the same ominous voice, which, in Lancashire, declared that Reform should be final in England, now declaring that abuse should be permanent in Ireland. What said the Speech? Mark the distinction; that, in England, "the public peace has been preserved—that in Ireland, the spirit of insubordination and violence has arisen to a fearful height." But why is there this difference? Why is there good order in England, where, two years ago, half the agricultural population was in arms? Because in England you have governed by conciliation and firmness. And why is there insubordination in Ireland? Because, in Ireland, you have governed by menaces and weakness. And how are you going to remedy this insubordination? By a repetition of the same causes—by a continuance of the same menaces and the same weakness. Sir, when the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, attempted to turn aside the effect of the member for Dublin's illustration from history, by asking whether he meant to saddle the offences of Henry 8th upon the present Government, he perverted the obvious meaning of that hon. Member; what he meant was this—to prove that this policy of extraordinary powers, and additional coercion was nothing new—to prove that it had been tried for centuries, and found wanting—to prove that it had, against its feasibility, the experience of 700 years. And why is it that these extraordinary powers have not been practicable? And why is it that, with so much 240 violence, the laws have such little strength? Let the right hon. Secretary ask the hon. member for Leeds. He will tell him, as he told some Member in the last Parliament, why we could not put down the Birmingham Union, and why we could not put down the people themselves. "Because (he said) you cannot govern a gallant nation by the laws of the Quarter Sessions—because it is in vain, though you have law on your side, if you have the people against you—because there is only one power that makes the law strong, and that is, the consent, the public opinion, of the people, for whom the law is made." And is this the power for which the right hon. Secretary would apply? That would be indeed an extraordinary power for Ireland. No, he does not ask you for the power to propitiate opinion, but still more to revolt it. Sir, the right hon. Secretary confesses that he has already laws, sufficient to put down insurrectionary meetings of every description. What more does he require? He requires a law which shall make those laws suffice. And does not the right hon. Gentleman know that no law of itself will make law suffice; that to make law effectual there is but one mode; and that is, to make the people and not the police, co-operate cheerfully to carry it into effect? This is a principle that all statesmen, from the oldest times, have laid down. It was on this principle that a noble Lord in his Majesty's Government is presumed to have said, that in order to put down sedition, you must do—what? Put down the grievance. Why is this principle applicable to England, and not applicable also to Ireland? It was on this principle, too, that the hon. member for Leeds, whom I have already quoted, whom I shall quote again more literally, made use of these words on the third reading of the English Reform Bill:—"That discontent which the great body of the people think they have reason to entertain cannot be put down by penal restrations. Measures of coercion and severity have failed former Governments—they failed Cromwell—they failed James 2nd against the Bishops, and Pitt against Home Tooke—they failed Lord Castlereagh—and they will fail every Government which shall attempt to smother the voice of the people of England, without redressing their grievances."* Sir, for* Hansard (third series) xi. p,462.241 England read Ireland. Is not what is applicable to one people applicable to another? Where there are extraordinary grievances, the only extraordinary power you should ask for is that of immediate redress. "Oh, but" says the right hon. Gentleman, "do not expect that we shall not redress the grievances. We intend it." But when—how—in what degree—to what extent? The very words of the right hon. Gentleman have something fearful in them to the ear of Ireland. He speaks of delay; he tells us grievances cannot be redressed in a day; yet does he expect that crime, the result of those grievances, can be extinguished in a shorter time. Crime is harder to be put down than affliction. He believed the Irish Government, if it pursued this course of legislation, would soon have good cause to subscribe to the institutions alluded to by the member for Knaresborough—they would soon want, pretty generally, for all Ireland, the fever hospital, and the lunatic asylum for themselves. This House is to pledge itself, then, to most extraordinary powers of coercion, and to take the right hon. Gentleman's word, and to wait the right hon. Gentleman's time, for ordinary powers of redress. The right hon. Gentleman's word and time! He might take it who would have confidence in him; but would Ireland take it?—that is the question. He feared not. And why? What is the great grievance of Ireland? The Church Establishment. On what subject is the right hon. Gentleman supposed, both by Irishmen and Englishmen, to be most pledged? To that very Establishment! On two points they were all agreed, and he therefore should not dwell on them—first, that there were great grievances in Ireland; second, that the state of that country was most alarming. That there were grievances, he asked no further proof, than that there was no confidence in justice; that we have law with-out the co-operation of the people, and an ecclesiastical establishment against their religion. That the state of the country was most alarming, he asked no other proof, than that terror does not produce respect, nor punishment diminish crime. "For this last evil," continued the hon. Member—"the state of the country—what are the remedies? The right hon. Secretary tells us to enforce the law by bayonets: the Members for Ireland, with one voice, tell us to adapt the to the 242 interest of the people. It is with this last opinion that I concur. I concur with it on the grounds of common sense—on the plainest principles of right legislation. I do more—I concur with it out of respect to the constituency of the right hon. Gentleman himself. For, in the last Parliament, on the question of Reform, what was the cry of the Tories? Force! And by what cry did the Whigs answer them? Redress! Could I believe my ears—have I not heard the right hon. Secretary, never usually at a loss for words or thoughts of his own, plagiarize from some former speech—from whom? Why, no less a person than the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth! Does not the following sentence remind us of Toryism in its last cry? I quote his words—'To legislate for grievances in this state of things was not to call on them to legislate, but to crouch in submission.' How often have those very benches thrown back this very argument by the unanswerable reply, that the only disgrace in legislating in the midst of disturbance, is in the delay that allowed the disturbance to begin? Sir, there is one part of our Address which I dislike upon constitutional grounds, I do not like that part which pledges this House to support, without discussion—without inquiry—indissolubly to support the Legislative Union. I am against a Repeal of the Union—it would be worse for Ireland than England—it should be a last resort—it is the resort of necessity, not reason; but I am also against the principle of pledging a deliberative assembly to reject a great and solemn question without any previous deliberation. But I will waive that objection—at least I will not insist on it. I am against that part of the Address, which relates to Ireland for a more immediate reason. It pledges us to support the policy of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. It is impossible for us not to feel, that with the great station—the high character—the commanding talents of that right hon. Gentleman—he must necessarily exercise a preponderating influence over the policy pursued in his own department. I object to that policy. I object to it on the experience of two years, during which the right hon. Gentleman, with all his talent—all his station—has done nothing for the peace of Ireland, and every thing for her danger—during which he has offended all parties 243 —incensed all sects—embroiled himself with the people—and stands now opposed to all the people's Representatives. I separate the right hon. Secretary from the rest of the Government. I support the Government, because it has pursued a policy of liberal concession; I oppose the right hon. the Irish Secretary, because he has pursued a policy of arbitrary power. I tell his Majesty's Ministers that that right hon. Member has lost them (perhaps by this Address, as the last stroke) the esteem of Ireland. He may do more—he may endanger their strength in this House. Can it be supposed that the independent Members—the 300 new Representatives allied to no old party—attached to the superstition of no Whig names—can, night after night, hear the facts delivered by the Members for Ireland—facts of grievance, answered by demands for soldiery, without dropping off in some defections from the Ministerial majority. If they are not convinced by a recurrence of such debates, the debates will be published, and their constituents will. I am sure that if the right hon. Secretary continues in his present office, England will soon participate in the discontents of Ireland. If we are to be a United Empire, we will not have separate interests—we will not have Reform for England, and constabulary force for Ireland. Did we not all feel how generously the Irish Members helped us in our Reform? Shall we repay them in our first Reformed Parliament by a donation of musketry or a Repeal of the Trial by Jury? Sir, I, for one, will not consent to this requital—I will not vote unqualified approbation to this Address—nor can I support the vote of unqualified disapprobation of the hon. member for Ireland. I trust there is a middle course left, and that my right hon. friend, the member for Lambeth, will, as I believe he intends, move an Amendment suited to the difficulties of the case—an Amendment which shall imply at least, that if redress is not to precede, it is yet to accompany, this grant of extraordinary power. I shall thus be enabled to give my vote—not in the spirit of hostility to the English Government, but in the spirit of suspicion against the Irish Government—a pledge of my sympathy with oppression wherever it exists, and a proof of ray attachment to the Union itself—a Union only to be cemented by convincing Ireland 244 that we will adopt towards her the same legislative principles we have just carried into effect for ourselves.
said, that he was anxious to take the first opportunity which had been offered him of explaining an opinion which had been erroneously attributed to him. He never had stated, and never could state, that the Reform Bill was to be the "be-all and the end-all," of all reform in the laws of the country. On the contrary, on the only occasion on which he made use of any expression which could by ingenuity or perversion be construed into such an absurdity, he stated that he conceived the Reform Bill to be the machinery by which other necessary reforms were to be carried into effect; that he considered the Reform Bill as Ministers had considered it when they introduced it, as being the machinery by which those reforms were to be worked.
At this period of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, there were loud cries of order, in consequence of some observation made by Mr. O'Connell. Mr. Stanley, who suddenly stopped, was loudly cheered. After a short pause.
said—"I thank the House for giving me time to remember that it is unnecessary to take any notice of the hon. Member." The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to say, that, upon the occasion referred to, he stated, as Ministers had stated in that House, that with respect to the constitution of the House of Commons, the Reform Bill was a complete and final measure; but that it was a measure by which he hoped that an honest government, supported by the cordial concurrence of the people, would effect such honest reforms and amendments of the law, as the country might think desirable and necessary for the welfare of the State. In that sense, and that only, did he and could he have ever said, that he hoped, or believed, that the Reform Bill would be a final measure.
hoped that, as a measure of justice, the House would permit him, notwithstanding the language of the right hon. Secretary, to declare most distinctly and solemnly, that he had not the slightest idea, whilst he was answering the question which had been asked him by an hon. Member, that one word of what he said could reach the ear of the right hon. Secretary.
felt persuaded that the explanation which had just been made by 245 the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had I been received with great satisfaction by the House. He had read in the public journals what was stated to have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, whilst addressing a large body of the people of England, and he certainly participated in the impression which was generally made by the language attributed to that right hon. Gentleman—that it was the intention of the Government to oppose any measures for improving the Act of last Session for reforming the Parliament. That was the interpretation which he put upon the language, which, it now appeared, had been erroneously attributed to the right hon. Gentleman. He trusted that they did not now misunderstand the right hon. Gentleman in the explanation which he had made. When he stated that the Reform Bill was only the machinery by which other amendments might be made in the law, he did not surely mean that no other amendment was to be made in the Reform Act itself. He (Mr. Tennyson) thought, in common with the great body of the people of England, that other amendments consequent upon that measure were required—namely, the ballot, and the shortening of the duration of Parliaments. He trusted that he might now collect from the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Government did not mean to insist that the measure of Reform should be final, with the view of preventing the House from proceeding to effect the amendments which they thought necessary.
professed that he could not understand the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, if it had not the meaning which he ascribed to it. If it had not that meaning, it was nothing, and it would have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had not alluded to the question. He would, however, now proceed to the subject more immediately under the consideration of the House. He felt as much gratitude to his Majesty for the great measure of Reform as any man could entertain, but he could not permit his feelings on that subject to compromise the duty which he was called upon to perform as the Representative of an immense constituency—as a Representative of the people of England—and he would add, also, as a Representative of the people of Ireland. He trusted that he should ever 246 be found ready to perform his duty to the people of Ireland as anxiously and with as much devotion as he would discharge his duty to his own countrymen. He would say nothing on the questions of foreign policy, which had been very properly touched upon in the Speech from the Throne, but would proceed at once to that part of the Speech which alluded to a reform in the Church of England. He felt grateful to the Government for having undertaken that great task, one which could with the utmost safety be intrusted to their hands; and he felt persuaded that his general confidence in the Government would not experience any shock or disappointment upon this occasion; but, that by the reformation which they would effect in the Church, the Establishment would be made subservient to the spiritual wants of the people. He observed in his Majesty's Speech one or two words with reference to this subject, which particularly attracted his attention. His Majesty said:—"Your attention will also be directed to the state of the Church, more particularly as regards its temporalities, and the maintenance of the clergy." Was he to understand that Ministers contemplated any measures of reform with respect to the internal affairs of the Church—such, for instance, as the articles of the Church of England? Although he was a churchman, and anxious to support the Established Church, and therefore to reform it, he thought the established religion in any country ought to be the religion of the majority. He believed that the established religion in this country was that of just about the majority, and no more. It appeared to him desirable to extend this the pale of the Church, if possible, in order to bring within it a larger community of Christians. It was well known that the articles of the Church of England contained contradictions, which inflicted wounds upon the consciences of a great number of persons, even ministers of the Church itself. He had considered it advisable to avail himself of the first opportunity which offered of directing the attention of Ministers to this subject, with the view of inducing them to consider whether it was not possible to expurgate the articles of the Church, so as to induce a greater number of persons to enter into communion with it. He would now pass to the Church of Ireland; and, in the reference which was made to that subject in his Majesty's 247 speech, he was glad to perceive an indication of liberal views on the part of the Government. The Speech said, that the Irish Church might require a separate consideration from that of England. Applying to the Irish Church the principles which he had applied to that of England, he must say, that it would be preposterous to declare, in a conquered country, that the religion of the minority should be the religion of the State; but how much more so was it in a country connected with us as Ireland was, and where seven-eighths of the population were of a different persuasion from the established religion? He would not dwell upon the subject, but dismiss it with observing, that if some great change were not made with respect to the Church of Ireland, that country would not long remain as it was. He now came to the topic which had occupied so much of the attention of the House—namely, the disturbances in Ireland. On comparing the language of the Speech from the Throne upon this subject with that contained in the Address which had been moved, he was surprised to perceive a word or two introduced into the latter which were not to be found in the former. Now, he thought that Ministers would do well not to require the House to do more than merely re-echo the sentiment expressed in the Speech from the Throne. The Speech stated that disturbances prevailed in Ireland in conjunction with a spirit of insubordination and violence. Why could not the Address echo those terms? Instead of which, however, in consequence, he supposed, of some oversight in the Gentlemen who prepared it, the Address described the disturbances in Ireland to be the result of a spirit of insubordination. Upon this part of the Address it was his intention to move a slight amendment. He concurred in the blame which the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Bulwer), in his able and eloquent speech, had cast upon that part of the Speech from the Throne which called upon the Parliament to arm the Government with additional powers. Why had not they at the same time been directed to probe the evils under which Ireland was labouring? One small word to that effect might have been employed to soothe a distracted people. It was true that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had in his simple and straightforward manner told them that it was the intention of the Government forthwith to apply 248 remedies to the grievances of Ireland; but were the Representatives of the people at once, without further information—without any papers having been laid upon the Table in the proper parliamentary course—without, in short, any information whatever, except such as they derived from the newspapers, or from Members of that House, on their individual authority, to grant extraordinary and important powers to Ministers? They were told that those who might vote for the Address would not thereby be pledged to give their concurrence to the Acts of Parliament which would be brought in. Let them, in a Reformed House of Commons, have done with such ridiculous forms. Let them not send up a mock Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne. It was time that they introduced something like reason into their proceedings, and let them begin here. He apprehended that a portion of the disturbances which prevailed in Ireland was to be attributed to the news of those to whom the immediate administration of Irish affairs was intrusted. It was with regret he felt himself compelled to state, that although he entertained no doubt of the good intentions of Ministers, their conduct in pressing the House to agree to the Address could not obtain his approbation. He, however, could not resolve to support the Amendment of the learned member for Dublin, because he thought it might involve the House in great discussions and some difficulties. He would conclude by proposing an Amendment, which he persuaded himself would obtain the objects contemplated by the learned member for Dublin, while it would be more likely to receive the support of many who might refuse to go the lengths of that learned Member. They ought to agree to no Address, unaccompanied by a distinct declaration on the part of the House, that they would immediately enter into a strict investigation of the causes of Irish grievances and, with that conviction strong upon his mind, he felt that it was his duty to announce, that, at the proper time, instead of the concluding paragraph in the Address, which was this—"To assure his Majesty that his confidence, in resorting to the loyalty and patriotism of that House for assistance in these afflicting circumstances will not be disappointed, and that we shall be ready to adopt such measures of salutary precaution, and to intrust to his Majesty such 249 additional powers as may be found necessary for controlling and punishing the disturbers of the public peace, and for preserving and strengthening the Legislative Union between the two countries, which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, we are determined to support his Majesty in maintaining, as indissolubly connected with the peace, security, and welfare of his Majesty's dominions "—that he should propose, as an Amendment, that all the words after the word "precaution" be omitted, for the purpose of substituting the following words: "as may be found necessary; but if under the circumstances which may be disclosed to us, we should be induced to intrust his Majesty with additional powers, we shall feel it our duty to accompany that acquiescence in his Majesty's wishes by a close and diligent investigation into the causes of discontent in Ireland, with a view to the application of prompt and effectual remedies; and that although it is our duty to receive the petitions of the people of Ireland, with regard to the Legislative Union between the two countries, and to leave ourselves free to consider that subject, yet we are ready to support his Majesty in maintaining that Union against all lawless attempts to defeat it, or to invade the peace, security, and welfare of his Majesty's dominions." He agreed with the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. E. L. Bulwer) as to the expediency, as well as constitutional justice, of their not pledging themselves against the measure of a Repeal of the Union in the total absence of a discussion of its merits, and without a previous calm examination of the grounds of the complaints of the people of Ireland on which it was founded. Before they repudiated the project of a Repeal, they should examine the petitions of the Irish people. He, for one, refused to make any pledges to his constituents, on the constitutional ground, that before he made up his mind to vote for or against any measure, he was bound to hear the statements of his colleagues, the Representatives of the people. The Repeal question, he repeated should not be sneered down till it had obtained a full and fair discussion. He was sorry to say that such was not the case, and that the present occupants of the Treasury-bench had merged their character of Representatives of the people in that of Ministers of the Crown. He, however, was not one of them, and was determined 250 to do his duty as a Representative of the people. If an Amendment to the Address such as he had proposed were agreed to, he should then have no objection to assent to any measures that might be necessary for enabling his Majesty's Government to preserve the peace and good order of society.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said, that last night he had formed the intention of not taking part in the present debate; but circumstances which had this evening arisen determined him to adopt an opposite course, and to say a few words in reply to the attack which had been made upon him by his hon. friend, the member for Lincoln; at the same time that he felt that he should quite as well discharge the duty which he owed to himself, and much better consult what was due to the House, by postponing the defence of his own personal consistency until after he had more directly addressed himself to the question which mainly occupied the attention of the House. His hon. friend, so ingenious in the construction of an argument, and so successful in making a point, was sometimes not always aware of the effect of the words which he used. His hon. friend told the House that the Government proposed coercion, while the hon. and learned member for Dublin recommended redress. When called upon to choose between both, the hon. member for Lincoln declared that he could not hesitate; but he was sure that, upon reflection, his hon. friend would see that he and the hon. and learned member for Dublin did not attach the same meaning to the words which the one was the first to use, and that the other had but too readily adopted. The hon. and learned member for Dublin meant Repeal of the Union—to that his hon. friend was averse. When they were told that the question of the Union of Ireland was not to be sneered down till after the most complete investigation, till after the fullest inquiry, and after the gravest debate, he could not help putting the question, whose fault was it that they had no full and formal debate upon the subject? Why was it that the question had not been fully agitated? Had not his Majesty's Government given the challenge, and was it not fully in the recollection of the House, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had addressed them for two or three hours—he forgot how long, for no one could consider the time long while 251 that Gentleman continued speaking; but had he not spoken for two or three hours, without opening the question of the Union in a manner that could be grappled with, or indeed fairly encountered at all. This was the more remarkable, as that hon. and learned Member had last night placed fourteen notices on the book, and not one of them related to the subject of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland. The hon. and learned Member had permitted judgment to go against him by default. Hon. Members at that side of the House (the Ministerial) had called upon the hon. and learned Member to proceed, but he had declined the invitation—he shrunk back—he skulked away from the opportunity of giving effect in that House to the doctrines which he had promulgated elsewhere with so much vehemence, and accompanied with so much of personal invective and objurgation. If ever there was an occasion which naturally led to a discussion of the question of Repeal, it was the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member; but he had not only then neglected to take advantage of the opportunity offered to him, but instead of making any approach towards joining issue upon it, he had delivered one of the most evasive speeches that had ever been uttered within the walls of Parliament. From the beginning to the end he had most carefully and studiously avoided meeting the question of Repeal. He should be the last man in the world to deny that that speech was very able and eloquent, but though the most ample opportunity had been afforded the hon. and learned Member by the occasion which then presented itself, to press upon the attention of the House the question of Repeal; yet he had cautiously abstained from improving that opportunity, and had not accepted the challenge of those who stood strong in their defence of the Legislative Union, the Repeal of which was supposed by the hon. and learned member for Dublin to be the panacea for all the evils with which Ireland was afflicted. It was not for lack of argument that Ministers did not discuss the Question. They were strong in irresistible arguments, and feared not on any occasion to meet the advocates of Repeal. They were told, indeed, to wait till they had examined the petitions of the Irish people; but no Gentleman who took an interest in the affairs of the country had 252 neglected already to make himself master of it in all its bearings. He was prepared to discuss the question of Repeal inch by inch, and to show, that so far from being likely to remedy the social and political grievances of Ireland, it would have the effect of aggravating every one of the causes of discontent at present in operation. If the advocates of Repeal wished to separate the Crowns of England and Ireland—if they desired to establish an Hibernian Republic, their arguments might be considered rational and consistent; but the hon. and learned Gentleman required a separation of the Legislatures of the two countries, and the identity of their Crowns. The hon. and learned Member required two independent Legislatures (for if the Legislatures were not independent, the separation was a mockery), and one Executive. Could it be then that a mind so acute and informed as his, could be unconscious that such conclusions were opposed to the first principles of the science of Government? When a Union of the Crowns was spoken of, he took it for granted that no such Union was meant as that which subsisted between Great Britain and Hanover, in which the Crown appertained to the same Royal Personage, but in which the Ministers by whom the Executive authority was actually exercised were perfectly distinct: a Union of that sort, so far as he knew, had never been advocated; and he entertained not the slightest doubt, that could such a Union ever be called into existence, the first question asked would be, what was the use of continuing it—what purpose could it serve to either country? Let the House only contemplate for a moment what was the nature of the Union subsisting between this country and Hanover. Hanover was a member of the Germanic Diet, and might send its contingency to the aid of a war carried on against the Allies of England, or against England herself. Did they contemplate any Union of that sort for Ireland with this country? If they did, let them say so at once—let them declare candidly, did they, or did they not, desire two Legislatures and one Executive, connected as England and Hanover were, for he professed himself unable to understand, and he felt assured, from the nature of the proposition, that no man in his senses could imagine that he understood any other scheme by which the business of Government in both countries could be 253 carried on with the Legislatures separated and the Crown united. But the hon. and learned Member said, that he thought it would be a great calamity if the two countries were to be separated, and were not to have the same King, meaning obviously, the same Executive Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman then meant simply by the Repeal of the Union, two independent Legislatures under one Executive. Was such a state of things possible? If the Executive Power were really quite distinct from the Legislative Power, they might easily have two Legislatures under one Executive just as they had two Chancellors, and two Courts of King's Bench. But be the theory of the Constitution what it might, no man acquainted with the working of that Constitution, could for a moment imagine a total separation of the Legislative from the Executive? It would be a political anomaly, or rather a political impossibility. For himself he was disposed to rest the question upon this issue.—Had or had not the Legislature a most powerful influence upon the Executive? Could the Crown pursue war, or conclude peace, without the consent, and sanction, and support of the Legislature. War, peace, and ail the functions of the Executive, were, in some degree, dependent upon the Legislature, and the Legislature exerted a considerable share of power in every part of the duties assigned to the Executive. The King might choose his own Ministers; but he could not maintain them in office after Parliament had become hostile to them. The conduct of negotiations was intrusted to the Monarch, he appointed Ambassadors; but the King could not pursue any line of foreign policy in opposition to the views and feelings of the Parliament. The Repealers might, therefore, be refuted out of their own mouths. They said, that the Executive Power ought to be one: but the Legislature had a share of Executive Power. Therefore, by the confession of the Repealers themselves the Legislature ought to be one. Now the futility of such an opinion could be at once exposed by a most simple, obvious, and familiar illustration. Suppose the one Legislature voted an Address in favour of peace, and the other declared for war, what would ensue? Did they suppose that there were to be at all foreign states with which we maintained diplomatic relations two Ambassadors—one for 254 England and the other for Ireland? And yet it was impossible to avoid arriving at that conclusion if a distinction were established between the Legislative, and therefore of necessity, between the Executive powers of the two countries. And what would be the next step? Negotiations might be carried on with foreign states, and the Legislature of this country express the highest approbation of the manner in which they might have been conducted—might declare its confidence in, and offer its thanks to the diplomatic agent employed; while the Legislature of the other State might resolve upon his impeachment. Not ten—not five years would elapse before occasions must present themselves, out of which causes of irreconcileable dispute must arise. Not one year could the two countries exist under the same Imperial Executive. The supposition was monstrous and absurd, and all history showed that the plan would be utterly impracticable. It had been supposed that parallel cases should be referred to; but when those came to be examined, it would, in every instance, be seen, that a similarity of circumstances did not prevail; and that where they did, the case but strengthened the position for which he was contending. Take the case of Ireland herself during the short period in which she possessed an independent Parliament. It was only during eighteen years that there did exist in the British empire two independent and co-equal Legislatures; and though the circumstances under which they so existed rendered collision exceedingly difficult—for during the whole of that period, as was well known to all who heard him, the Irish Houses were managed by that Parliamentary corruption which no one could desire to see renewed, and the Irish people were overawed by a large military force—yet, for all that, so filled was the system with the seeds of disunion, that six years did not elapse from the declaration of independence till occasion for a difference of opinion arose. In the year 1788, George 3rd was incapacitated by illness from the exercise of the powers appertaining to the Kingly office, and according to the Constitution, the privilege devolved upon Parliament of making provision for the discharge of those high and important functions. What occurred? The Parliament of England offered the Regency to the Prince of Wales with extensive restrictions 255 —the Parliament of Ireland offered him the same powers without any restrictions whatever. Surely if they possessed the right and the power to make such offer respecting the conditions upon which the Royal functions were to be exercised, they possessed as fully and could as freely exercise the privilege of selecting the individual to whom the appointment might be offered, and with quite as strong a claim of right constitute the Duke of York Regent, as extend the powers of the office when vested in the Prince of Wales. They might have chosen their own Regent, and might have invested him with such powers as they thought proper; and had George 3rd continued for the remainder of his life incapable of the duties of Monarch, England and Ireland would have been for thirty-two years with a divided Executive, without departing one iota from the principles of the Constitution. This would have been the unavoidable consequence; yet it was loudly deprecated in the very same breath which sent forth a warm recommendation to call into life and activity the causes from which that consequence must necessarily flow. Were he to pursue the argument further, he could occupy the attention of the House with nothing more than reciting such a series of monstrous results, as certainly never before ensued, and which were probably never yet contemplated in reference to any public measure. Not only was all argument opposed to it a priori, but all history would show the scheme to be founded upon a gross and pernicious fallacy. They might have again a legislature in Dublin and in London as they had before 1782, but all that the former would have to do, would be to obey the decrees of the latter under a mock form of independence. He admitted that some cases bore the appearances of divided legislatures and united Crowns, but those appearances were to the utmost degree deceptive, and the more closely they were examined the more clearly did that character develops itself. Such was the case, for example, in the co-existent parliaments of France, Burgundy, and Brittany; and, equally so, in those mockeries of the name of Parliament with which the House of Austria still amused the people of Hungary and the Tyrol. In all these cases there was no such thing as an independent legislature; all the power lay in the hands of the Crown; the Parliament was a mere 256 pageant—a mockery—or means of riveting the fetters of the conquered. In fact, if history had one lesson which stood out more emphatically than another,—it was that which, indeed, reason would strike out for itself, the impossibility of two independent legislatures co-existing under the same executive head. It was not easy to get at the precise plan of Repeal contemplated by the learned Member for Dublin. He had not himself developed it, and it was only to be guessed at by some partial revelations. Among a number of statements of the learned Gentleman on this head, which he had read in the public Journals, the most precise plan was one proposing a kind of federal union of a local legislature sitting in Dublin, with an imperial legislature in London. But did the learned Gentleman deceive himself so much as to suppose, that by this plan he evaded the difficulties of two independent legislatures? Supposing, as in the latter case, that there should spring up some difference of opinion or conduct between the two legislatures—the domestic and the imperial—who was to decide between them? Where was the paramount authority to declare, "you are right," and "you are wrong; you therefore must yield, &c.;" for on the supposition of the learned Gentleman, they were both to be independent and supreme. A dispute between the House of Commons and the House of Lords was bad enough: yet in that case the Crown possessed a constitutional power, which in practice had prevented collisions between the hereditary and the representative branches of the Legislature; it could dissolve the one,—it could add to the numbers of the other. They all knew that both expedients were had recourse to in the reign of Anne, in 1704 and 1712; in the one instance (the Aylesbury affair) the Queen dissolved the House of Commons; in the other (the question of the peace of Utrecht) she created a number of Peers. But who was to arbitrate between two independent Legislatures elected by two different nations. The federal union of a domestic and an imperial legislature, did not meet the difficulty which, indeed, the greatest federal republic in the world was at this moment exhibiting on a large scale. That republic—the most famed in the world agreed to its present constitution in a great convention, over which the genius of Washington presided and in 257 which the most able statesmen of the day assisted. At that memorable convention, the different states of which the republic was composed agreed to a form of union, similar to that contemplated by the hon. and learned Gentleman; and yet, after more than half a century's trial, the constitution of the United States had found no other arbiter between a local and an imperial legislature, but physical force. The hon. and learned gentleman's plan for separating the legislatures of the two countries, and at the same time continuing the union of the Crowns, was, therefore, worse than a complete and total separation—that complete and total separation which the hon. and learned Gentleman said he should regard as a calamity; but which would be no calamity compared with that which he proposed to put upon us. If, on a fair trial, it were found that the two countries could not be made to co-exist in the same empire—could not be made harmoniously to combine in one course of mutual support and prosperity—in God's name let them be wholly separated. He did not wish to see them, like those strange twin beings lately exhibited in this city, connected by an unnatural tie, which made each the plague of the existence of the other—each in the other's way; more slow of motion, because they had more legs; more helpless, because they had more hands; partaking of no common aliment, sympathizing only in disease and helplessness, and each being perpetually subject to perish by the dissolution of the other. And, now, in what character was it that the hon. and learned Gentleman came forward? He said that he appeared as the last advocate of his own country—as the man who stood between the empire and civil war. But if they admitted that the Repeal of the Union was to save us from this calamity, what argument had the hon. and learned Member advanced in favour of that proposition? He had recounted many grievances; and he was not the man to speak lightly of those grievances—they were, undoubtedly, numerous, extensive, and of longstanding; but when he heard the hon. and learned Gentleman go through that melancholy list of evils, many of which, unquestionably, required a speedy remedy—a remedy which he trusted soon to see applied—(at least so far as any remedy might be within the gift of the Legislature), when he heard the hon. and learned gentleman go through that 258 melancholy list, he detected one alone which, as it seemed to him, the Repeal of the Union could, even in the hon. and learned Gentleman's own opinion, tend to remove. What was the nature of the evils to which the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded—were they such as did not exist previous to the Union? Certainly not; and he had yet to learn that the Repeal of the Union would be a remedy for grievances which existed long before that Union took place, and which grievances, he would confidently venture to add, a Repeal of that Union would but aggravate. The learned Gentleman, in his post hoc and propter hoc distinctions, seemed to reverse the well-known logic of the Godwin Sands versus Tenterden Steeple. The steeple was the cause of the sands, said the rustic logicians, because it existed before they encroached upon the coast; but the learned Gentleman reversed the reasoning, and said, because the Union took place long after the existence of certain grievances, therefore it must be the cause of them. Some of the grievances which he thus ascribed to the Act of Union were not peculiar to Ireland, or to any form of government. For what did they reform the House of Commons? Was it not on the same grounds upon which the hon. and learned Member now came forward and asked for a Repeal of the Union? Was not the removal of many of them—undeserving sinecurists, political judges, corrupt magistrates, for example—one of the great objects of the Reform Bill? Surely, the removal of the remaining Irish grievances did not in all fairness, require a domestic legislature in Ireland. Besides, see to what the argument tended: if local abuses in Ireland required a local legislature to remedy them, why should not every other part of the empire, also complaining of grievances, be allowed its domestic legislature? They all remembered what complaints were made a few years since with respect to the Welsh Judges; but did anybody, therefore, dream that Wales should be separated from England, and that it should have a domestic legislature of its own? In the same way he never heard it said that a domestic legislature should be established in Cornwall because there were several local grievances in that county which required a remedy. Nay, to come nearer his political home—Leeds—he could assure the House, that a large majority 259 of his constituents complained loudly, of the grievances imposed upon them by its corporation; but not a hint had been thrown out that the best remedy would be the establishing a nice federal independent domestic legislature in the West Riding of Yorkshire. And yet, if the learned Gentleman's project were good for anything, it must be capable of being applied to Wales, and Cornwall, and Yorkshire, and every county in England, as well as to Ireland. He would go further (perhaps the learned Gentleman would say much further), and maintain that the clearest ground which could be guessed at, as the basis of his repeal scheme, would apply à fortiori to a separation of the legislatures of the north and the south of Ireland. If a rooted difference of religion, and the existence of the worst consequences of that difference would justify the separation of the English and Irish legislatures, the same difference, and, still more, the same baleful consequences, would warrant the separation of Protestant Ulster from Catholic Munster. If, as the learned gentleman had often declared, it was impossible for a Catholic prosecutor or prosecuted to obtain even the semblance of justice from an Orange juryman, and that such a state of things would be a justification of a Repeal of the Legislative Union between England and Ireland (though the fact was notorious that no such conduct would, under any circumstances, be manifested towards any British subject in England), why then the same reasoning, that only a domestic legislature could remedy a domestic grievance, would in a tenfold degree apply in favour of one domestic legislature in Dublin, and another in Derry, or some other large town in the north of Ireland. All the arguments which the hon. and learned Gentleman had advanced in favour of his favourite scheme of Repeal seemed invalid. In making these observations, he had, in a great measure, vindicated himself from the charge of inconsistency brought against him by his hon. friend, the member for Lincoln. It was very easy for hon. Gentlemen to come forward with a speech made by another, upon the Reform Bill, to read a few sentences from it, and to say: "this binds you to support a Repeal of the Union." It was hardly fair to take such a course, because, every expression uttered in the House ought to be construed only in reference to the occasion 260 upon which it had been used. No man knew better than a practised writer like the hon. member for Lincoln, that the whole force or wisdom of words depended on their application; that nothing was easier than to write a theory on either side of a subject, either all panegyric or all vituperation; and that the wisdom or folly of the theory depended solely on its application. For example, were he to defend Thistlewood in the tone and language which he should, or at least ought to employ, if he were the advocate of a Lord William Russell, or an Algernon Sydney, it would be plain that he should be employing words, to say the least, in-appositely. The whole test of the propriety is the application—the apposite-ness of the expressions at the time; and by these considerations he ought, in fairness, to have been judged by his hon. friend, the member for Lincoln. He believed the Reform Bill to be a remedy which might be easily applied for the removal of the greater portion of the evils complained of by the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He believed that the project for the Repeal of the Union was a mere delusion; nay more, he believed that, in the manner in which it was proposed, it was an impossibility. He believed also that if it were practicable, there was no part of the empire to which it would be so fatally ruinous as to Ireland itself. The expressions which he used on the occasion alluded to by the hon. member for Lincoln, and which he did not shrink from, imputed much, perhaps nine-tenths, of the grievances and ills which afflicted the country previous to the passing of the Reform Bill, to the misgovernment consequent upon a withholding of that beneficial measure. But it should be recollected, in applying his language to the case of Ireland, that he did not, therefore, argue that the breaches of the law to which these consequences of misgovernment led, should go unpunished. When he said that in his mind the burnings and destruction of agricultural produce, which disgraced so many portions of England, were mainly owing to the then Ministers turning a deaf ear to the people's cry for Reform, he did not at the same time contend, that the incendiaries and the lawless disturbers of social order should not be hanged or otherwise punished. Then, though he earnestly deplored the probable results of rejecting the Reform 261 Bill, he did not assert that the outrages and excesses committed under the name of that rejection should pass with impunity—that for the Bristol rioters, for example, the sword of justice should not be unsheathed—but he would defend the consistency of his language, on that and the present occasion out of the mouth of the learned member for Dublin himself. That learned Gentleman told the House yesterday, that the coercers might goad by their harsh policy, some of the least prudent, least thinking multitude, into a general war against property and order, but that then he should be found in the ranks of the Executive in resisting the outrages, and punishing the guilty. The learned Gentleman, it was true, said that he would thus join the ranks of the Government a" the lesser of two great evils—that while he aided it, he would abuse and execrate it as the parent source of all the mischief but still he would be found in its ranks. If, therefore, the learned Gentleman did not deem himself inconsistent, when aiding in the case he put to check the lawless consequences of grievances which he called upon the House to remedy, he was at least as little obnoxious to a similar charge by his hon. friend, the member for Lincoln. The hon. Gentleman and he agreed in ascribing to misgovernment the real parentage of the grievances which had led, or might lead, to acts inconsistent with social order; and both of them agreed, that while the grievances should be remedied, the violation of the law should be punished. The only difference between them was one of time—that was, when the law should be enforced against its transgressors. He agreed with the learned I Gentleman, that Ireland presented many I grievances which demanded a remedy from the Legislature. He, for one, would do his best to redress those grievances. He would go further, and declare he would not belong, for a moment, to any Government to which that redress should be a matter of unnecessary delay. But because he was thus ready to redress the grievancess of Ireland, was he, in the mean time, to see the law outraged—nay, despised, by a furious and misguided multitude? Talk of the distribution of Church property in a country in which no property was respected, and were they to be told that, to enforce the law against the robber, and the murderer, and the incendiary, 262 was to drive an injured people into civil war? Did they who talked thus wildly recollect the present deplorable state of Ireland? Did they recollect that, in one county alone, according to the authority of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, not less than sixty murders, or attempts at murder, had been perpetrated in comparatively a few weeks, and not less than 600 burglaries, or attempts at burglary? Why this was far worse than civil war. A loss of life and property equal to the sacking of three or four towns. Civil war, indeed! he declared solemnly that he would rather live in the midst of any civil wars he had ever read of, than live in some parts of Ireland at this time. Much rather would he have lived on the line of the Pretender's march, at Carlisle or at Preston, than now live in some of the districts of Ireland in which burglary and murder were the nightly occupations. In point of fact, to threaten civil war was only to threaten that which was now suffered, for Ireland was in a state of civil war. And yet, to endeavour to put an end to such a disgraceful scene of anarchy and strife was, forsooth, "brutally" to coerce Ireland. He repeated that the civil war had long since begun, and, if not checked, must end in the ruin of the empire. In the course of the remarks with which he had thus troubled the House, he had avoided all allusion to those irritating topics connected with the vituperations which the hon. and learned member for Dublin had, more than once, thought it fitting to pour out against the party now in office. That party would spare itself the task of reproaching him with conduct, to say the least, savouring of ingratitude. The hon. and learned Gentleman might be assured that his abuse was not a bit more stinging to those against whom it was directed, than that which was so lavishly bestowed upon them by those who so long withheld from him and his Catholic brethren their political rights, and who were now allied with him in hostility against those very persons who were ever the earnest and uncompromising advocates of those rights. He might be assured that the high-minded men who braved the "no Popery" cry in all its fury, were not likely to be scared by a cry for the Repeal of the Union. As attached to that party known by the name of "the Whigs," it was not for him to speak of their claims upon the favour of 263 an enlightened public. The time would come, when history would do them justice, and would show, among other things not unworthy of commendation, how much they had done and suffered for Ireland; it would show that, in 1807, they left office because they could not knock off the political fetters of their Catholic fellow-subjects; and that, for the same sacred cause, they remained upwards of twenty years out of office, though more than once it was within their grasp, braving at the same time the frowns of the court and the hisses of the multitude. Yes, for the Catholics they renounced power and place, without obtaining in return the poor reward of a fleeting popularity. These were men, in those days of "no Popery" triumph, who might, by uttering one little word against the Catholics—nay, in some places, by merely not saying a little word in favour of them, have been returned by numerous constituencies to a seat in the Legislature; but who, sooner than utter that little word, contrary to their well-founded convictions of right and justice, were not only excluded from Parliament, but from all those places of honour and trust which are coveted by every high-minded English gentleman! The Whigs retired from public life, but their honour were unsullied. The clamour, therefore, which the hon. and learned member for Dublin was endeavouring to excite against Earl Grey's Government could not be of much moment, compared with that which Earl Grey had already withstood in order to place the learned Gentleman where he sat. Though a comparatively young member of the Whig party, he could take it upon him to speak their sentiments on this head. He therefore could tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that the same spirit and moral courage which sustained the Whigs when out of office, in their conflict with bad laws, would sustain them in office in their conflict with the enemies of good laws. They were not deterred by clamour from making the learned Gentleman not less than a British subject; he might be assured they would never suffer him to be more. In saying this, he believed that he was speaking the sentiments of many thousands. He was proud to say that he stood there, for the first time, the Representative of a new, a great, and a flourishing community, who conceived that, at the present time, the service of 264 the people was not incompatible with that of the Crown; and who had sent him there, charged (as the words of his Majesty's writ expressed it), "to do and consent to such things as should be proposed in the great council of the kingdom." In their name, therefore, he hereby gave his full assent to that part of the Address wherein the House declared its resolution to maintain, by the help of God, the connexion between England and Ireland inviolate, and to intrust to the Sovereign such powers as might be necessary for the security of property, for the maintenance of order, and for preserving, entire, the integrity of the empire.
wished to say a few words in explanation, to which he would strictly confine himself. The hon. Member who spoke last had entirely mistaken his argument. He (Mr. Macaulay) had said, that he (Mr. O'Connell), after having detailed existing grievances in Ireland, attributed them to the Legislative Union; and that he had argued against that Union by reason of those grievances. This was a total misapprehension; for he (Mr. O'Connell) had addressed the whole of his speech to that part of the Address from the Throne which related to the great increase of disturbances in Ireland. His argument was, that property was rendered insecure, and insubordination and violence produced, by the grievances he enumerated; and so little had he said of the Union, that he had been actually taunted with having entirely left it out of the question.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, there was a practical antithesis, amounting to contradiction, in the course pursued by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Macaulay); for while he entered into a most elaborate discussion on the Union, which he assumed was unpremeditated, he supported an Address which recommended the extinction of all argument, put an end to the debate, struck Ireland dumb, and clapped a padlock on her lips, though it never could stop the throbbings of her big and indignant heart. What a strange proceeding on the part of the member for Leeds—to discuss the question himself, and to deny eight millions the right to entertain it—to recommend the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, in order to commit all argument in Ireland to incarceration, while he himself wantoned and luxuriated in so wide a field of discursive expatiation. Perhaps 265 he conceived that he had advanced arguments go irresistible—that his dialectics were so convincing—that there was such a power of reasoning, amounting to demonstration, in his speech, that he had put an end to all doubt, extinguished scepticism as effectually as the Address suppressed liberty, closed the door on all dispute, and established conviction on the basis of immutable and deeply-founded truth. One could, however, have desired that, having taken the subject in hand, he had touched on some topics which appear not irrelevant—that he had adverted to the fiscal and moral evils of absenteeism, had explained the causes of the misery and destitution of Ireland, had exhibited the advantages of our provincial dependence, and shown us the benefits of having the English Members overwhelm, on Irish questions, the majority of Irish Members in this House; but instead of doing so, he delighted the House with an enchanting allusion, derived from the Siamese twins. But while the hon. Gentleman thus gave way to the spirit of fanciful illustration, he was unconsciously offending Ireland with an image of its calamitous condition. "We are, indeed," said the hon. Member, "linked in an unfortunate brotherhood; tied together by no ligature through which the vital principle of international feeling can circulate—bound with a reciprocity of inconvenience, and irritated by the common inconveniences resulting from our junction." How, then, could the hon. member for Leeds indulge in this metaphorical mal-apropos? At first he (Mr. Sheil) could not account for it, but, on reflection, he recollected that the hon. Member had answered the speech of the distinguished author of "the Siamese Twins." His habits, as a critic, interfered with his political purposes, and the image presented by the work of Mr. Bulwer was so much pressed on his memory, that he rushed into a simile that refuted his argument, and furnished Irishmen with the best picture of their melancholy condition. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the favours conferred on Ireland by the Whigs. He (Mr. Sheil) was prompt to recognize them, and, above all, to offer his homage to the vast services conferred by Lord Grey, who had always proved himself the devoted friend of Ireland. [Mr. O'Connell. No, no!] At all events, he was so at the discussion of the Union. Charles Grey (and between Lord Grey and Charles 266 Grey there was little difference) opposed the Union. He predicted the evils that would result from it, and almost drew a picture of the scenes which were now passing before our eyes. So far, therefore, from dissenting from the panegyric on Lord Grey, every Irishman should concur in encompassing him with encomium. What a pity it was, for Lord Grey's sake, that the member for Leeds was so young a man; had he been beside the noble Earl in 1799, he, of course, would have urged, with convincing effect, all the arguments which he had advanced with such force, and Lord Grey would never have given utterance to language so entirely at variance with the opinions of the member for Leeds. The following extract from his speech did not apply exclusively to the past, but was prospective, and supplied an argument for repeal. Lord Grey said, on the 7th of February, 1799, (reported in page 336 of the 34th volume of Hansard*)—'What I most heartily wish for is, a union between the two countries. By union I mean something more than a mere word—a union not of Parliament but of hearts, affections, and interests—a union of vigour, of ardour and zeal for the general welfare of the British empire. It is this species of union, and this only, that can tend to increase the real strength of the Empire, and give it security against any danger. But if any measure, with the name only of union be proposed, and the tendency of which would be only to disunite us, to create disaffection, distrust, and jealousy, it can only tend to weaken the whole of the British empire. Of this nature do I take the present measure to be. Discontent, distrust, jealousy, and suspicion, are the visible fruits of it already. If you persist in it, resentment will follow, and although you should be able, which I doubt, to obtain a seeming consent of the Parliament of Ireland to the measure, yet the people of that country would wait for an opportunity of recovering their rights, which they will say were taken from them by force.' Was not that prophetic? Was not that the language of a man anticipating Repeal, and almost supporting it? How could this language be reconciled to the speech of the Gentleman who spoke from the Treasury Bench; and, what was far more important,* Parliamentary History.267 how could it be reconciled to the speech which Lord Grey had been supposed to dictate to his Majesty? And what did that Speech recommend? An entire suppression of all reasoning on the subject. It enjoined silence. It said, not only shall you not have repeal, but you shall not dare to demand it. The Habeas Corpus Act was to be suspended—the principles of British liberty were to be trampled under foot—the prerogative was to be strengthened—the sceptre was to be laden with iron—what was carried by corruption was to be secured by oppression; nay, more; the boast of Britons—the pride—the sustainment—the ornament and the prop of the Constitution, of all that we held valuable and dear—the trial by Jury was to be at an end. Good God! Was it Lord Grey, just fresh from the triumph of Reform, who recommended this? Oh, no!—there was—there must be some superior spirit of domination in the Cabinet, who exercised a fatal ascendancy, and was the evil genius of Ireland. But he had not done with appeals to the authority of Lord Grey. It was pleasurable to refer to him. Lord Grey, in the same speech, said: "Look at the history of Ireland, and you will find, that had it not been for British councils and British intrigue, none, or at least few of the evils, which are now so much felt there would have taken place—evils of which Government is the parent, and which are now made the reason for taking away all semblance of liberty from the Irish people." Let the House see how far this position answered to our present calamities, and our crimes. How was the Government constituted? There was not one Irishman in the Cabinet of Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant, the Under Secretary, the Private Secretary, the Commander of the Forces, the Adjutant General, and, above all, the Cabinet Minister, who played so inferiora part to Lord Anglesey were English. In this House there was not a single native of Ireland, who represented an Irish county or borough, who had any concern with the affairs of his country. There was not one single link between the Irish Representatives of Ireland, and the Ministers. The late member for Limerick represented Cambridge; the noble Lord, the late member for Kilkenny, represented Nottingham. It might be said, that the member for Dungarvan (Mr. Lamb) was in office. Ireland had not the honour of his birth. By the way, the hon. Gentleman 268 on the hustings, reminded of their wishes, by the patriotic fishermen who returned him, declared, that though he would not make the Repeal pledge, his mind was open to conviction, and he would give the subject every consideration. It was to be presumed, that the King's Speech had convinced him, and he would now consider his engagement fulfilled; and, after mature official meditation, he would vote for the extinction of all future debate, having arrived at a conclusion, from which all the logicians at Dungarvan could never move him. But, to revert to more important matter, and putting all questions of office aside, and waiving all circumstances which remind us of our provincial dependence, who was the Secretary of Ireland? A man, who was examined before a Committee of this House, and declared that he knew nothing of Ireland. He was to be charged with ignorance, and ignorance was almost an offence. He was blind, and was to lead, or rather drag, Ireland on the edge of the gulf. What sort of defence of himself did he yesterday make? Did he tell us why, out of twenty-six stipendiary Magistrates named by this Government, not one Catholic was appointed? Did he tell us why the Government gave no hint to the Irish Judges (not à la Saurin to Lord Norbury), but an useful innuendo, not to outrage the Irish Catholics by frustrating Catholic emancipation? But he said he could not influence the Judges. What! when two chief Judges were of his own nomination. But wherefore did he pack the Juries at the late Clonmel Assizes? Had he answered that? How stood the facts? A Jury Bill was promised; the Chancellor of the Exchequer pledged himself to it. He could not carry it; and then, in opposition to the principles of that Bill, in violation of a solemn pledge, the Juries who tried the tithe combinators were picked and chosen in the worst spirit of sectarian exclusion; the feelings of the Roman Catholics were outraged, the most fatal habits of ascendancy were revived, and the tribunals were degraded into a factious and exasperating instrumentality, to carry a verdict at any cost of principle, and any hazard of result. He would defy contradiction on this head. He asserted that the Crown had set aside thirty-six Catholics, and impanelled three Juries, with twelve Protestants in one, and eleven Protestants in each of the other two; and who did this? The Crown! The law officers 269 confessed it; they claimed all the merit as their own. Was this supportable? Was it to be endured? Was this consistent with the principles professed by Lord Brougham, when he presented the Petition of the Irish Catholics, detailing enormities of this sort, and when he denounced these detestable practices? And could they wonder that Ireland was in this frightful condition? And would they repress the consequences of a fatal misrule, with offensive, insulting, and tyrannical legislation? But they had measures of relief. What relief? Of what kind? The Church was the question. Had the Irish Secretary given way? Had he renounced his principles? How did he and the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, settle these matters between them? The one exclaimed: "I will never allow Church property to be touched!" The other virtually voted for its confiscation, in 1824. Well, how do these Siamese youths now comport themselves together? Look at them; it's in truth a pleasant picture; there they stand on their four legs, as the member for Leeds has it, rare quadrupeds in the zoology of office, bound together, not by the vile ligature of place, but fastened in their amiable fraternity, by noble love of that country, to whose benefit they so much contribute by their affectionate coalition. But how would they settle the great point of former difference? The member for the Tower Hamlets indulged in a natural curiosity on this subject. He asked: "When we see the penalties, tell us, for God's sake, what is to be the relief—what will you do for Ireland?" "Wait," was the answer: and would Englishmen tarry for the redress of grievances which they confessed, and precipitate the infliction of punishment for the madness which they had themselves excited? What, then, were the Ministers to do for Ireland? It seemed that they were determined not to let the question of Repeal die a natural death; they must strangle it. The Habeas Corpus Act was to be suspended. Trial by Jury was to be taken away, and, in return, what was Ireland to get? She was to be relieved from Church cess. At the close of last Session, he asked the Irish Secretary whether the people of Ireland were to be relieved entirely from the burthen of Church cess? And his answer was, "Not entirely," He had changed his mind, however, and this was to be the whole amount of relief granted to 270 Ireland. They were not told what was to be done with the bishoprics or the tithes. How were the latter to be raised? It was said, they were to be commuted; but by whom, and for what? It was upon this imperfect and meagre information, that the House was called upon to pass an Address to the Crown, investing the Government with new power, by which liberty might not be put to death, but her breathing would be for awhile suspended. The relief, as regarded tithes, it was said, would be founded on the Acts of last Session. As to the Tithe Act of last Session, the effect was, to prevent the landlord knowing what to do. It was calculated to induce the landlords of Ireland, to combine with the people to resist tithes; and if such a confederacy once existed, it was not an Act of Parliament that would put an end to it. The Government had endeavoured to collect the arrears of tithes, and had absolutely collected about 30l. at an expense of near 100,000l. To effect this, the army had been engaged in a campaign unworthy of the bravery and of the hearts of British soldiers. The oftener the military were employed in such services, the more likely were they to be filled with the proper feelings of citizens. If soldiers were allowed to mingle with citizens, the feelings of the peasant always affected the soldier. After entering into a detailed description of the proceedings at the tithe sales in Ireland, the hon. Member referred to the number of tithe cases decided in the Civil Bill Courts. No less than 10,000 of such cases had been tried in the Civil Bill Court at Cashel, where the hon. Mr. Patrick Plunkett, the Chancellor's son, attended on behalf of the Government; and the claims in some instances did not exceed 2½d. and 3d. When such proceedings took place, was it wonderful that the country should be in the state of disturbance in which it was stated to be? He had done—yet one word more: the Speech deprecated civil war, at its outset, in Portugal. "Englishmen!" exclaimed the hon. Member, "do not confine your sympathies to your allies. We are your countrymen; our blood is precious as any which can be shed upon a distant shore! Save, save us, in the name of justice, of humanity, and of the obligations which you once conferred upon us, by wise and timely redress of our insupportable grievances, from a war which will be worse than civil, and to which the 271 hoarded wrongs of centuries, and the rancours of religious hatred will lend their infernal and horrible contribution."
§ Mr. Charles Grant
said, that no person could, and he asserted it without fear of contradiction, feel more truly those appeals which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made to their sympathies on behalf of Ireland than he had done. He much admired the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman; but he could not but remark how well he had practised that of which he had accused others in this debate. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had remarked on the speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that in it the particular topic of the Union with Ireland had been avoided. The hon. and learned Gentleman had given a specimen of equal skill and dexterity, when he contrived to refer to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had preceded him, and yet to avoid the difficulties in which that speech had placed him. His hon. and learned friend had placed the question on two grounds; and he did not know how the hon. and learned Member could meet that speech, or could meet the great and overwhelming arguments with which his hon. friend had supported his view of the question. "What was the mode in which he had done it? He had admitted that the speech was an able speech; but had asserted, that the question before them was not one of the Union with Ireland. With great submission to that hon. and learned Gentleman, he (Mr. Grant) must say, that the question was the question of the Union. They had heard of doubtful and evasive phrases; and they were told that they must not be carried away by words; and on those grounds it was that he called on the House to recollect that this was, in fact, the question of the Repeal of the Union. It was in vain to attempt to evade that question; it was one on which the opinion of the House must be given. Well did he know why the hon. and learned Gentleman had departed from it. It was because that hon. and learned Gentleman had found it difficult, if not impossible, to meet the arguments of his hon. friend. Departing from that subject, the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to discuss questions, some of which were scarcely worthy of his eloquence or talent, and which elated chiefly to the personal 272 opinion of the members of the Government expressed on former occasions. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) delivered before the Union, Any man capable of common reasoning must know, that there might, and must exist good grounds for a difference between the opinions expressed three years before an event took place, and those which were stated now, after it had been for thirty years carried into practice. What would become of all Governments, and of all Constitutions—what would become of the Constitution of this country itself, if, after an event had taken place—after its effects had been consolidated—an establishment was to be overthrown, and the institutions of an empire resolved into their elementary principles, because of such an apparent contradiction in the opinions of one man? What was the consistency of that man who would say, that because he had resisted a measure thirty years ago—though under that measure a great empire had grown into strength, and flourished—that he was now bound by what he had then thought; and that on account of his former opinions, formed on theory, and not verified by experience, he was compelled to unravel the web that had been woven, to disunite the links that had been formed, and to destroy that noble and glorious fabric which others had reared, and which he now admired and approved of, but which, before it was completed, he had deemed to be objectionable? The hon. and learned Member had adverted to the sufferings of Ireland. He could assure that hon. and learned Member that no person could speak of the sufferings of that country with more feelings of sympathy than were excited in his bosom. He had always been most anxious to promote the prosperity of Ireland, and to avert from that country the infliction of laws of a violent description. He had always resisted those laws, and should always resist them, unless he saw them called for by an imperious necessity. But, however fearful these laws might be—however terrible their infliction—he could not deny that there might be an exigency which required that, for the safety of the State, the Constitution should put forth all its powers. The hon. and learned Member had appealed to the House in the names of justice and humanity. He also appealed to them in those two sacred names, and asked them whether it was justice or 273 humanity to any man who entertained the notion that he lived under a protecting Government, to leave him utterly without that protection which he had a right to expect, and without which neither his property nor life was secure. He regretted for the sake of the people of Ireland, that these excesses had been committed, and he regretted it, especially as he knew what advantage would be taken of them. He regretted them, too, because he knew that, in the progress of national improvement, there was no interruption so fatal as that which resulted from the commission of these criminal excesses. The hon. member for Lincoln had said, that in using these arguments, they were but resorting to the arguments which they bad used in the Reform Bill. He admitted the fact, and he avowed, that among the great objects of a Legislature, was the necessity of cultivating a sober feeling among the people, and of extending among the people at large, the sentiments of the thinking portion of them. He admitted that, when there was that feeling, the Legislature of a free country was bound to take it into their most serious consideration. But, would any one say, that the same argument applied to the feelings of a portion of the people, who seemed to wish the Parliament to dissolve the bonds of society—to put an end to political union, and thus to destroy political strength, merely because those who urged them to do so, professed their readiness to trace their footsteps in blood, and called on the Legislature to act, in the midst of the stormy discussions of those men who could never be said deliberately to have taken what they recommended into their consideration? When he was told, in this debate, that it was impossible for the friends of Ireland to hesitate about the matter; when he heard it asserted by the hon. member for Meath (Mr. Henry Grattan), that no man could vote for these strong measures who felt for the wrongs of Ireland, he must say, that he did not admit the truth of the assertion; and he trusted that there was no man who would not give him credit for those feelings, although he should vote in favour of those measures; but when he was told this, he must say that he perfectly denied the truth of the assertion. He denied, in the most positive manner, any want of sympathy for Ireland; and he appealed to those great men, who had been justly 274 deemed examples for all patriots, to justify him in his opinion. Who were those that, in cases of necessity, had avowed their support of measures of coercion? Those immortal patriots, whose names the hon. and learned Gentleman had mentioned, and whose memories he (Mr. Grant) loved and reverenced; whose talents had shed a light on their country; who were ardent lovers of its liberties and privileges; and who had always struggled for the improvement of Ireland, and who had always ardently desired the advantage of the people. What was the course which Mr. Grattan, the most illustrious of these patriots, had pursued in 1789? In the speech on the violences then committed in Ireland, and on the Whiteboy system, he said: "Let us recollect what are the laws! On this occasion I ask, do Gentlemen know what are these laws? Do they know the extraordinary prerogatives given by the law—the Whiteboy Act, and others of the same kind? Do they recollect that these Acts were consented to because the blood of the country was flowing, and the strings of justice nearly broken? Do I condemn them on that account? No; for I have voted for some of them under the exigency of the times, in order; that temporary coercion may enable us to administer a suitable remedy to the necessities of the State." Why did he dwell on this? Not that he thought that any man ought to follow that honourable and patriotic man, under all circumstances whatever; but because he believed that the example was a convincing proof, that it was possible to feel an ardent sympathy for the wrongs of Ireland—a zealous desire for her improvement—and at the same time to think that lawless violence ought to be suppressed, and that it was a part of the duty of all men to abstain from outrage and bloodshed; and that if such a course was not abandoned, the Government were imperiously called on to afford protection to those who had a right to demand it at their hands. The hon. and learned Gentleman having adverted to some other points, entered into the details of some transactions which had recently taken place. He entered too into the question of the tithe system, and into that of the Reform in the Irish Church. Why, the hon. and learned Gentleman was aware that the whole question would, on a future day, and that at no distant period, be brought before the House; and if he delayed 275 the consideration of it a few days longer, he would have an opportunity of regularly expressing his opinions on it to the House. He (Mr. Grant) would not do more now than advert to these great questions, nor waste the time of the House in discussing questions that must soon come regularly before them; but he must make one observation. All the mischief which it was said had fallen on Ireland, was attributed to one man among the Ministry. As a member of that Cabinet he denied the assertion, and was ready to take his share of the blame. He scorned a compliment to himself, offered at the expense of others. He would state the reasons which had induced him to be a party to these measures, and he would at once declare, that with whatever reluctance he had approached the question, and whatever were the feelings of reluctance which from his heart he felt upon it, he could not but be convinced, that when called upon by necessity, it was a duty for them to act decisively; and that it was a duty which they owed to the unfortunate persons, the victims of delusion, who created the disturbances, as much as to the rest of the country. It was said that the people of Ireland were not of themselves apt to violate the laws of order—that if they did so, it was the result of their misfortunes, and that it was an aggravation of those misfortunes, and of their distress, which excited them to commotion. It might be that this statement was true; but he did not think, that, even in the most distant way, there should be any encouragement held out to them to mix up crimes with misfortunes, and to destroy the peace and security of the country at large. A notice of motion had been given by an hon. Member, which brought them to the question of what was the cause of their misfortunes, and whether they were to be attributed to the Union? In his opinion they were not; and further he would say—for it was impossible for any man not to have made up his mind on the subject—that the separation of the Legislature was, in fact, the separation of the Crowns. Ireland had already proved that it could not be otherwise; history showed that it must be so; and there could be no doubt, that the attempt, if successful, would have no other effect than that of renewing the system of corruption and iniquity that formerly prevailed. What was the remedy 276 proposed by the Repeal? The return of the old Parliament to Ireland. What must be the feelings of any Irishman who really felt for his country, when he thought of the old Parliament of Ireland—the instruments, the slaves, the panders of every tyrannical government? Yet that Parliament was said to be the fair creation on which the imagination of Irishmen delighted to dwell. It was figured as the personification of excellence, when it ought to have been held up as an image of loathing and of scorn; it had been most corrupt, and it was destroyed. What was it but the old Parliament that had agreed to that anti-communion code—that anti-catholic code, which had made the greatest part of the population hewers of wood and drawers of water? And would any one tell him, after this, that that Parliament was a body, which it was either for the honour or the welfare of Ireland, to recal into existence? He should like to see that Parliament return in procession, headed by the hon. and learned Gentleman who advocated its renewal; but if it did, he should be surprised if Ireland would not require more from it than it could or would ever grant. There was a moment of enthusiasm, when Grattan breathed forth a flame of honest patriotism, that for a moment hallowed the Parliament in which it had been warmed into existence; but even that fire met with nothing to feed its vestal flame, but dissolved away in the impure and corrupt atmosphere in which it had been in vain excited. And that was the Parliament which we were now called on to bring anew into life, with all its corruptions and stains upon it. It had been said, that the Speech had closed the discussion of the question of the Union. Indeed; why here the House had been for two nights discussing that question alone. He did not mean to say but that Ireland deserved all the attention which the House gave it; but it was strange after all, to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shiel) speak of the silence of the House on that subject, and complain of that silence. The hon. and learned Member said, that this silence struck dumb the Irish Members. What was the degree of latitude he desired, it was impossible to imagine; but the fact was, that when others had entered into the argument, he had, by placing some other agreeable topic before them, diverted their consideration from Ireland to Other matters. While the hon. and 277 learned Member complained that he and the other Representatives for Ireland were struck dumb, he and they had arrested the attention of the House by their eloquence. He did not complain of their speeches—he was at all times pleased to hear them—but he certainly was at liberty to complain of the inconsistency of those who said, in strains of fervid eloquence, that they were struck dumb concerning the House, however it might admire the language—that the hon. and learned Member attached no meaning to what he said. Under such circumstances, it was impossible not to say, that the hon. Member treated this great subject with somewhat more of levity than it deserved. He should now add no more than the declaration of his positive conviction, that when they professed themselves doubtful of the Union, they would profess themselves doubtful of the security of the empire.
§ Mr. Harvey
thought it was impossible to have listened to the speeches of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Macaulay) and of the right hon. Member (Mr. Charles Grant) without being convinced of what were the wishes and the intentions of Ministers; but he trusted that those Gentlemen would find in the Reformed House of Commons common sense enough to discriminate between specious declamation and solid argument. He complained, that Ministers had not condescended to inform the House what plans they had in contemplation for the redress of the grievances of Ireland. They seemed, however, to recognise by their silence—an eloquence sometimes as powerful as words—the justice of the charge, that they intended to place Ireland out of the pale of the Constitution, and to call upon the House of Commons to declare war against eight millions of our fellow-subjects on the mere ground of confidence in them. Such confidence he was not inclined to yield to this or to any other Administration. Before they were called upon to suspend the trial by jury—before they were called upon to agree to a measure which was to expose Catholics to trial by a Jury exclusively Protestant, and Protestants to trial by a Jury exclusively Catholic—before they allowed sectarian feelings to gain possession of the jury-box, and political animosities to poison the administration of justice, they must be told something more about the necessity of such measures, and must not pass them merely because it was 278 the expressed will and pleasure of the Ministers of the Crown. They must inquire into the nature and extent of the various grievances which pressed down the energies of Ireland. They all knew that those grievances were not of yesterday's creation, and it would be a gross dereliction of duty, of which he did not expect to find a Reformed Parliament guilty, if, knowing that fact, they refused to examine into the remedies proper to be applied to them. More than half the time taken up in this debate, had been passed in discussing the merits and demerits of Mr. Stanley, on the one hand, and of Mr. O'Connell on the other. Now, what had the House to do with either the merits or demerits of those Gentlemen, except so far as they displayed themselves in the various measures which they respectively brought forward? If one of those Gentlemen were out of office, and the other out of Parliament, the grievances of Ireland would still subsist, and would still require a remedy at the hands of Parliament. In proof of the long-continued neglect of the English Government to the wrongs of Ireland, he would state, that before Dr. Macniven left that country, in 1793, he declared when examined before the Privy Council what, in his opinion, the grievances of Ireland were, and, strange to say, those grievances still subsisted, unmitigated and unredressed. When Emmett was examined before the Privy Council, the Lord Chancellor of that day inquired—Pray, do you think that Catholic emancipation and Parliamentary reform are any objects with the common people?Emmett replied—As to Catholic emancipation, I do not think it matters a feather, or that the poor people think so. As to Parliamentary reform, I do not think the common people thought of it, until it was inculcated upon them, that reform would cause a removal of the grievances they actually did feel. From that time, I believe they have become very much attached to the measure.The LORD CHANCELLOR.—What grievances would it remedy, the removal of which they would consider an improvement?EMMKTT.—In the first place, they presume that it would cause the complete abolition of tithes. In the next, that by giving the people an increased power as a democracy, it would better their situation, and make them more respected by their superiors. The condition of the poor must be ameliorated; and, what is perhaps of more importance than all the rest, a system of national education would be established.279LORD KILLEEN.—The abolition of tithes would be a good thing; do you not think it would be more beneficial to landlords than to tenants?EMMETT.—My Lords, I am ready to admit that, if tithes were abolished by this reform, there are landlords who would raise the rent of their tenants, on granting new leases, to the full value of the tithes. But were reform followed up by the abolition of tithes, such a reformed Legislature would very badly know, or very badly perform, its duty, if it did not establish such a system of landed tenure as would prevent landlords from doing so; and let me tell your Lordships, that if a revolution ever takes place, a different system of political economy will be established from what has hitherto prevailed.LORD GLENTWORTH.—Then your intention was to destroy the Church?EMMETT.—Pardon me, my Lord, my intention never was to destroy the Church. My wish decidedly was, to overturn the Establishment.LORD GLENTWORTH.—I understand you—and have it as it is in France?EMMETT.—As it is in America, my Lord.From the laugh occasioned by this quotation, it was obvious hon. Gentlemen were ignorant of the important distinction between a church and an establishment; as would be fully demonstrated when church establishments were more directly under their consideration. The object which he (Mr. Harvey) had in presenting this testimony to the House was to show what, in times past, had been the opinion of men the best qualified to judge of the grievances and remedies of Ireland, and who had made great sacrifices for their accomplishment. Ministers had not told the House what measures they had in contemplation, but had said, that it must wait till they had developed their plans. If their plans were so comprehensive and so conciliatory as to be calculated to meet the wishes of Ireland, was the House to be told that the only way in which Ireland could be prepared for the shower of blessings which was about to descend upon her was by first making her a slave, in order to render her sense of the blessings of liberty more vivid, and more acute? If Ministers had such a boon as they pretended, they need not recur to martial law, they might at once disband their army. They need not suspend the trial by jury; they might be content with the ordinary operation of the law. Were the reformers of Ireland to be told that they Were to have no relief from the oppression of church encumbrances, or from tithe or 280 grand jury rates, unless it was to be bound up in these ligaments of Whig reform and Whig influence? If Ministers did really intend to do something to ameliorate the condition of Ireland, and also to relieve the people of this country, why not state their plan, and what it was they did intend? An hon. Member had gone through a long catalogue of crimes which he said were now committed daily in Ireland; but was there no law applicable to the punishment of crime in that country? Were violations of the law, passed over with impunity, and was there no means of reaching the perpetrators of crimes in Ireland. If it was the fact that the perpetrators of such crimes could not be reached by the law as it now stood, would hon. Members on the other side say how they proposed to reach them? If the situation of Ireland was such as that the greatest crimes could not be reached by the ordinary operation of law—if there existed bands of men who united to screen the murderers and other violators of the peace from punishment, why not give evidence of it before the House? When Lord Castlereagh came forward to propose measures for the purpose of strengthening the hands of the executive, so as to enable it to put the law into effective operation, his proposition was accompanied by a green bag, in which was contained evidence to show that outrage had gone beyond the ordinary operation of law; but here was no evidence of any such necessity: but even let this be so; if the country was in such a state, what was the cause of this prevalence of misrule? What was it but that the people wanted confidence in the Government? Would the course now proposed by Ministers tend to lessen that want of confidence? Instead of proposing any measures for the relief of Ireland, or stating what was intended to be done at a future day, they put forth their most eloquent orators to show that nothing would satisfy the people of Ireland but a Repeal of the Union, by force, if it could be effected in no other way. Was this the way to beget the confidence of the people of Ireland in the measures of Government? He remembered the remarks of a right hon. Gentleman, at that time the Representative of an Irish city, but now the member for the town of Cambridge, which he thought were highly applicable to the present occasion. In February, 1828, that right hon. Gentleman observed, when 281 speaking of the measures that ought to be pursued towards Ireland—"Economize Ireland" was his recommendation, "by doing justice in that country. By reducing the Establishment, by altering the tithe system they would produce retrenchment. That would be a large, a wise, a liberal economy."* He regretted much that something of the same statesman-like spirit had not been infused into the Speech from the Throne. Instead of any healing measures of this kind, what was now proposed? Why, before even a word was said of what was intended to be done for the relief of the people of Ireland, the first measure to be introduced was one which was to take from them the benefits of the Constitution. It had been well observed by the hon. member for Knaresborough, that the Speech had sins of omission as well as sins of commission. To him it seemed framed as if no person out of that House took any interest in the subject of their deliberations; but it was well known that all England was at the present moment on the stretch to learn what it was the new Parliament proposed to do. He was one of those who thought there was evil in all change, unless that change brought its merits along with it. Now Reform was a great change, and capable of producing great good; yet nothing was said in the Royal Speech which could tend to excite the hopes, to inspire the confidence which that measure had created. Look at the state of our finances. Were they not called upon to do something with respect to them by dealing largely in the reduction of taxes—to reduce them by millions; particularly to remove those which pressed heavily on the poor, and substitute for them a Property-tax, so modified that it would not allow large properties to escape, but at the same time to touch small properties with a tender hand? Instead of an intimation of any measure of that kind, they were told that the Government had so husbanded its resources, that it would be enabled to make war on Ireland though no addition should be made to the ordinary burthens of the country. Allusion was made to the Church, without saying what was the nature of the measures intended—but it was certain that with the feelings which now prevailed in this country, it would be absolutely necessary to do for England what they should do for Ireland* Hansard (new series) xviii. p. 112.282 with respect to the Church, and for both they should ascertain the value of every living, and after making a suitable provision for existing rights, the remainder should be made applicable to the purposes of the State. It would not do to say that only the extravagant revenues should be reduced to a more equitable proportion. If the people of Ireland thought that the 1,800,000l. of church revenue was only to be divided more equitably—if, instead of a small band of large plunderers, they were to maintain an army of little pillagers, it would be useless to tell them that the paltry residue, whatever it might be, was to be applied to the relief of the poor, or to maintain a system of general education; they would not be satisfied, but would look upon the whole as a piece of delusion. He would not, at that hour, enter into the other topics of the Speech, but he must protest against the inference which some hon. Members seemed disposed to draw—that those who supported the Amendment were therefore favourable to the Repeal of the Union. Upon that subject he would offer no opinion, nor was it necessary, as the question was not then before him. He would only say, with respect to it, that if he were an Irishman, and that he found he could not secure for his country the same benefits from a United Legislature which were the lot of the people of England, he would try whether he could not obtain a larger share under a separate legislature. With these feelings he would give his support to the Amendment, for there was nothing in what had been advanced by Government, or in the measures of which they spoke, but suspicious benefits and undisguised oppression. Ministers, it would seem, were alarmed at their own work, and instead of pressing forward the labour of their hands, were exciting suspicion in the ranks of Reformers as to the sincerity of their measures. But they might be assured, that whether in reference to Ireland, or to the British empire, the people were bent upon great improvements, and that their confidence was only to be secured, by acting in a spirit which corresponded with their just expectations.
§ Lord John Russell
said, whatever objections he might entertain to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, the member for Colchester (Mr. Harvey), he certainly was bound to confess, that it was by no means deficient in that spirit of candour, for the 283 display of which he appeared to take so much credit to himself. The hon. Member certainly had been very candid in his avowal of schemes of confiscation and revolution. He would, however, turn at once to what he conceived to be the true question before the House. They were the real Representatives of a free people, considering a Speech which his Majesty's advisers had recommended his Majesty to deliver from the Throne. They were to consider what answer they could give to that Speech, which should be most consistent, not with the interests of any party, not with the advantage of any ministry, but with the wellbeing of the country, and the welfare of that empire, the security and integrity of which they were all bound to uphold. In the consideration of that question, he must mention the surprise he felt at hearing Member after Member get up in his place and express distorted views of the substance of that Speech, from beginning to end, and of the feeling which any one who read it fairly, could not fail to discover pervading it. It had been represented as a Speech recommending, chiefly and principally, the adoption of a system of coercion for Ireland. One would think even that the very measures of coercion alluded to, were to be debated and decided upon this very night; and that we had totally left in the shade, or imperfectly exhibited in the distance, some measure of tardy and incomplete Reform. But what was the real state of the case? The fact was, that the Speech, after touching upon the questions of foreign policy, and of the Renewal of the Bank and East India Charters (important subjects, which must be submitted, forthwith, to consideration) went on to mention the subject of Reform in the Church of England, which must also be brought before the House. It declared that a Reform of the Church of Ireland must likewise be considered; and that although they were by law united, they required a separate and distinct consideration. The Speech also stated "that there were other questions particularly connected with the administration of justice which would require all the attention and deliberation of Parliament." Could it be said that the Ministers who framed the Speech, and advised his Majesty to express such sentiments to Parliament, were enemies of Reform? That they wished to stop the progress of 284 public opinion? Or withhold those necessary remedies, which any Parliament, but above all a Reformed Parliament, must be most anxious to apply to all admitted evils capable of being removed? He said the very reverse of this was the fact, and that the first thing apparent on the face of that Speech was, that those who framed or advised it, whoever they were, must have been most anxious to see measures of Reform proposed and carefully considered and deliberated upon, by the House of Commons. But then, said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, (and other hon. Members had used the same argument): "Why not go into your plans? Why not explain what you are about to do?" He must say, that this was a most novel and extraordinay proposition. They were met after hearing the sentiments which his Majesty delivered in his Speech, for the purpose of expressing their general sentiments in return; while the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman came to this: that every plan, every Bill, every measure to be submitted to Parliament, in the course of the present Session, ought now to be explained in detail; that the House was not to have a general deliberation on the King's Speech, but was now, and in one debate, to consider all these questions of the Bank and East-India Charters—a Reform in the English or Irish Church—a change in the Grand Jury Laws, and, in short, every other question on which the opinions of the House were divided, and respecting which considerable inquiry must necessarily be instituted. Was he then asking too much? Was he asking anything which was for the advantage of the Administration, but not for the good of the public, when he called on the House to concur with him in holding that, unless the Ministry were decidedly hostile to all amendment, it might be wise to give them that degree of general confidence, that when they declared that measures of Reform ought to be taken into consideration, the House should wait a few days, at least until Tuesday next, before it demanded that those measures should be explained and fully developed to the House? But his Majesty's Speech contained other subjects of a more painful nature to the advisers of the Crown. It declared, without going into further detail about measures of Reform, than the statement, that such measures were to be 285 brought forward—that it would be necessary to intrust the Government with fresh powers, in order to enable them to carry into execution the laws in Ireland. He hoped to be believed when he said that he thought measures of coercion, which were inconsistent with the general spirit of the Constitution, ought never to be proposed but in cases of the greatest danger and necessity. Undoubtedly, however, he did consider that the dreadful scenes which were occurring in Ireland, day after day, that the general insecurity of property, and the peril of life experienced, from hour to hour, in that country, required such an alteration in the state of the law as might support the supreme authority of the realm. What was the worst construction which could be put on the grant of these measures of coercion? Why, that it would be placing power in the hands of those who would be responsible for the due administration of it to Parliament; it would be placing in the hands of persons of responsibility and judgment the means of terror. What was the state of things now? There existed already the means of terror, unhappily, in Ireland. But in whose hands? He did not mean passive resistance, or mere disorder and disobedience to the law. To these things he would not more particularly refer. But the poor farmer who wished to obey the law—who lived, or would wish to live at least, on his farm in peace and quiet with his family, but who was guilty of obeying the law, or, in other words, of paying those dues which the law demanded of him, although he might petition to be relieved from them—a well-disposed and quiet man, who was guilty of this new crime—was compelled to live under a system of terror; the administration of which was not placed in the hands of men of education and responsibility, but of the midnight ruffian and lawless assassin, who were, at the same time, the outcasts and the scourges of society; who accompanied the commission of fearful outrages, with acts, the details of which, could they be read to this House, would fill every human being in it with disgust, astonishment, and horror. It would be more than disagreeable to be obliged to read to the House the accounts the Ministers had received of the horrible outrages too often perpetrated in Ireland; but as he might Otherwise be accused of overcharging the 286 statement, he could not do better, for the purpose of conveying an accurate idea of the present condition of some parts of Ireland, and of obtaining credit for his assertions, than quote the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin. That hon. and learned Gentleman, a short time since, for the purpose (and the very laudable purpose) of attempting to suppress these outrages, and he wished the hon. and learned Gentleman had been always so employed; for he must sincerely desire to see these disturbances abolished—that learned Gentleman addressed a letter to the people of Ireland. He said, "thus seduced, these insurgents"—he called them "insurgents;" thereby admitting the existence of insurrection. "These insurgents afterwards proceed to other nocturnal outrages. They compel farmers to give up their holdings; they destroy houses and property; they flog or otherwise torture the inhabitants of those houses, and they very frequently commit the horrible—the detestible—the damnable crime of murder. Such is the general career of the Whiteboys, Terry-Alts, Rockites, Whitefeet, and other persons of a similar description. They begin with smaller offences, they uniformly end in all the horrid guilt of blood and murder." This was the description which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself gave of these incendiaries. As to the charge, that these atrocities were committed by the "enemies of Ireland," it was hardly necessary for him to say a word upon it, for the fact quoted by his right hon. friend yesterday, that out of 12,000l. which had been offered in reward for the apprehension of offenders of this description, only 150l. had been claimed, was in itself, he thought, sufficient to show, that those who had been engaged in the commission of these delinquencies had not been seduced by spies and informers; but that there existed a dangerous combination, levelled alike against life and property; and he did say if ever there was a duty imposed upon Government—if ever there was a duly imposed upon Parliament—it was to take care that the innocent and well-disposed be not left to become the prey of these lawless conspirators. Talk of America! The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to her example. Was it possible that he—was it possible that any man—could seriously compare the generous, the bright, he bad almost said, the 287 holy resistance of her great patriots, with the ruffian acts, and horrid excesses, and cowardly atrocities of bands of armed assassins? He thought, then, that so far as this part of his Majesty's Speech was concerned—so far as that part of the United Kingdom to which this portion of the passage referred was concerned, it was not too much, without pledging the House to specific measures, to say that it would be ready to lend its assistance in the task of restoring peace and good order to that portion of the King's dominions. But there were other questions besides this upon which the opinion of Parliament was asked. The first was that question which the hon. and learned Gentleman discussed in one of his late speeches in Ireland, which was made the test of almost every candidate at the late Irish election, and by means of which Lord Killeen was ousted from that seat in Parliament which he so well deserved to fill. The Repeal of the Union was the test to which he referred. This was the subject so much dwelt upon by the hon. and learned Gentleman and several of his friends; yet, strange to say, though so much relied upon elsewhere, it seemed to be almost abandoned in the Imperial Parliament. Neither by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, nor by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, had any of the alleged grievances been urged as grounds for a Repeal of the Union. The hon. Gentleman who preceded him, in his extreme candour, was pleased to speak of Emmett, and those who were arrayed with him in opposition to the Government, and whose object was to separate England from Ireland, in terms of high eulogium. Giving him every credit for his candour, he must observe, that it was rather extraordinary that he should pronounce an eulogium upon persons who expressly wished to destroy the Government of this country in Ireland. That the fact was so was well known, and it was fully stated in Wolfe Tone's Book. He could fully appreciate the sort of respect one naturally felt for persons who, in the belief that they were rendering a service to their country, risked their lives in following out their opinions with a scaffold before their eyes. There was something in the generosity of disposition, and self-disregard of such men, however little we might concur in their opinions, that inspired respect; but, were these questions, let him ask, 288 questions on which it was possible for any Government to yield? At the time of the Revolution of 1688, it was proposed that Ireland should be left under the dominion of James 2nd. Did any one come forward at that period to say "you must use modes of conciliation with those who insist upon the Stuart dynasty?" No, the very first proceeding of the Parliament of that day, in the commencement of the reign of William 3rd, was to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act for one year, with a view to the establishment of a united Government in England and Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman alluded to Scotland; with that country, likewise, we had to fight the battle of a Repeal of the Union, promoted, as it was, by a Pretender to the Throne. But did any one in England propose to yield to that attempt? On the contrary, it was resisted by force of arms. And should it now be said that there ought to be a separation between England and Ireland, at a time when all that had lately passed in that country showed that the objects in view were neither more nor less than these: that an attempt should be made, under the name of a Repeal of the Union, and under the form of a separate Parliament, to disunite the two countries—to confiscate the property of all Englishmen who had property there—to overturn at once the United Parliament, and to establish, in place of the King, Lords, and Commons of the united Empire, some Parliament, of which the hon. and learned Gentleman should be the leader and chief—in which, no doubt, he would play a most conspicuous part, but in which it would be impossible for him to go on for a single year, without involving the two countries of Great Britain and Ireland in war—in a war, too, which would tend to the destruction of one or the other of them; and, at all events, would lead to the degradation and loss of that power and dominion which this country had hitherto possessed. He said, then, with reference to this Address, that it proposed to concur in important measures of Reform and improvement; but, with regard to crimes of the nature of burglary and murder, it proposed to coerce and punish them; and, with respect to the Union between the two countries, it proposed that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should declare that it was ready, by all possible means, to support 289 and maintain that Union entire. This was. all which was required of the House. When his noble friend (Lord Althorp) should bring forward his measure of Church Reform, the House would have an opportunity, and on various other occasions, to discuss the grievances of Ireland, as well as those of England. But he hoped that no hon. Member, by an incautious vote, would supply a reason—mistaken and untrue as it must be—for exciting a belief in Ireland, that while he only meant, in reality, not to agree to parts of the Address, he was to be considered as voting in favour of that Repeal, which, to use the words uttered by his noble friend, last year, would in fact be a total dismemberment of the empire.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, that he felt great anxiety on the question of Ireland, and knowing the sentiments of his constituents upon it, he confessed that he also felt great regret that he had heard nothing in his Majesty's Speech that tended to remove that anxiety. He felt assured, that it was not by coercion that a proper feeling was to be reinstated between England and Ireland. He was sure they could not effect a peace in Ireland by a system of terror. They might gain the battle by the force of numbers, but would they gain a victory? No; but they would ensure for themselves a perfect and mortal hatred on the part of the whole Irish nation. They should recollect another thing, in all the measures which might be proposed, on account of the state of that country—that the measures should be based on sound and enlarged principles, and not dealt out in petty and paltry portions, which could never be expected to give satisfaction to the parties intended to be benefitted. He recollected, that at the time when Catholic emancipation was granted, it was declared to be a final measure; but he was convinced, even at that very time, that it could not be final; for, as long as there was a predominant Church in Ireland, the people of that country would never consider any measure a final one, which left that Church predominant, with which not one-sixteenth part of the inhabitants coincided in belief. There were other subjects of great importance, which required attentive consideration—he meant that of free trade to India, to which the people of this country had an unquestionable right. He hoped the time was fast approaching, when that trade should be thrown open, and a regular 290 Representative of the British nation should be established in China. The hon. Member then alluded to the proposed Corporation Reform, which, he said, was much required, and from which he anticipated considerable advantage.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
said, that previous to the speech from the hon. member for Liverpool, with the exception of a few words from the hon. members for Lincoln and Knaresborough, little had been said in the course of the last two nights' debates, on any other subject but Ireland. A stranger coming into the House would be apt to think, that the darling question of the hon. member for Dublin—the Repeal of the Union—had been already carried, and that they were then sitting in deliberation on College Green. The hon. member for Knaresborough had said a few words on the subject of our internal policy, nothing however had been said by any one else (with the exceptions he mentioned) on the subject of Ireland alone. Now, though he did not deny that Ireland was entitled to a fair proportion of consideration in that House, he denied that it was entitled to a monopoly. They had heard the errors of the Government, and the misery of that country discussed in detail; and they had heard remedies for these evils discussed, without knowing anything of what the Government proposed to do in regard to them. He thought, however, that there were other most important subjects in the proposed Address, which likewise demanded the attention of the House. There was especially that of the United Church Establishment. All who heard the sentiments expressed by several hon. Members must see that the Established Church was in danger. He should have believed it impossible that such a system of spoliation could ever have been meditated as he heard recommended by several Members during the present and previous night's debate; and more especially by the hon. member for Lanark. Such a system could never be pursued regarding either branch of the Church, without shaking it to its very foundation. It would be the prelude of the destruction of all property in tithes, whether ecclesiastical or lay. The result, he felt convinced, would be, that no stop could be put to the spirit of innovation till there was an Agrarian Law introduced. He thought he had good reason to feel 291 alarm, when he saw his Majesty's Ministers submit a proposition to that House of a more equitable distribution of the property of any class of his Majesty's subjects. Whatever the result might be, he could not but consider that a bad omen of the future. He would not follow the hon. member for Dublin in the detail into which he went on the subject of the Church in Ireland, because the whole subject would be fully discussed in the course of the next week; but he hoped that the House would not think that the assertion made by that hon. Member could be maintained, that one Irish Prelate possessed 90,000 acres.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
was glad to be corrected by the hon. Member, as it showed that the hon. and learned Member had not spoken without premeditation; but he cautioned the House not to believe that the amount stated by the hon. Member, as being the measure of the revenue derived by the Prelate in question, was correct. He considered it singular that no allusion had been made in his Majesty's Speech to subjects of a domestic nature, which he thought should not have been omitted. Nothing had been said of our having got rid of that dire scourge, the Cholera Morbus, or of the abundance of the late harvest. He, however, felt grateful to the noble Lord opposite for the form of prayer which had been introduced in reference to these subjects. But this did not supersede the propriety of the Sovereign adverting to them in his Address to his people. Nothing was said of this being a new Parliament: nothing of its being a Parliament under a new Constitution. However lengthy (to use the American phrase) the Speech might be considered, he thought that there were ample materials of importance omitted to have at least doubled its length. He had already alluded to two or three connected with internal policy. He would only very briefly refer to the omission of all notice of the great events now passing in the Levant—events which might throw the Belgian question into insignificance—and to the omission of all reference to the vast question of Negro Slavery; of which, without now giving any opinion upon it, he might at least say that it was not undeserving the attention of the House. As on all these subjects there would hereafter 292 be ample opportunities of discussion, he only desired now to be considered as not concluded upon any of them, by his not proposing any Amendment to the Address.
There are twenty to speak on the question yet, who cannot possibly all speak to-night. We are not to be gagged yet.
§ Mr. Hume
There is an hon. Member from Ireland who has never been heard in this House, and who, in the present temper of the House, cannot get a fair hearing. I therefore put it to the noble Lord, whether we are not, in fairness, bound to give that hon. Member an opportunity of obtaining a hearing? I must persist in my Motion that the House do adjourn
§ Lord Althorp
hoped that the hon. Member would not persist in his Motion. He was quite satisfied that the House was ready to give the hon. Member to whom the hon. member for Middlesex alluded, a patient and attentive hearing. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. member for Middlesex would consent to withdraw his Motion.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that it only wanted one half hour of the time, beyond which, by a regulation lately adopted, they were not to sit. As he could not expect that all those who wished to speak to the question before the House could be heard before that hour, he hoped the regulation in question would be strictly adhered to; he could not consent to withdraw his Motion.
§ Mr. Barron
then rose, and said, that, in justice to his constituents, he thought it necessary to say, that the disturbed state of Ireland was greatly exaggerated. He lived in that part of that country which was most disturbed, in the county of Kilkenny, where he had been a Magistrate for twelve years; and he could say, from his own knowledge, that Ireland was several times, during the last ten years, in a more disturbed state than it was at present. In his Majesty's Speech it was stated, that "a spirit of insubordination and violence had risen to the most fearful height, rendering life and property insecure, defying 293 the authority of the law, and threatening the most fatal consequences if not promptly and effectually repressed." He agreed so far in opinion with the sentiments expressed in the Speech, that the insubordination and violence had risen to a most fearful height; but he denied that it was greater than it had been for the last eighty years; that was for many years before the great agitator was born, to whom all the violence in Ireland was attributed. At the time the Whiteboy Act was passed, the violence and insubordination had risen to a still greater height than at present, but was it carried on by agitation? No, certainly not; but such insubordination in Ireland would undoubtedly prevail, till justice were done to that country. It was justice which the Irish wanted, and he begged of the House to grant it. He begged of them not to take the ipse dixit of any man on the present state of Ireland. The causes of the discontent were bad laws, bad government, and 300 years of oppression and misery. And yet they were taunted for all their sufferings. Were they to be trampled on by an ill-organized police, by an overgrown Church, in which not one-sixteenth of the people believed, but which they had to support, while at the same time they had to support the ministers of their own religion? Were not all these sufficient to cause discontent and violence? It was only by agitation that the Irish had been able to obtain any concessions. The first concession made to them was in 1782, when there were 100,000 men in arms; the next was at the commencement of the French revolution; and the last, when they obtained Catholic Emancipation from the Duke of Wellington's Administration, and which they never should have obtained but for the violence and discontent in the country. Was it possible that they who had been fighting the cause of the Whigs, and who had assisted them in their worst days, were now to be put down by those very Whigs? He trusted that the House and the country would not identify the acts of violence and insubordination to which he had alluded with the question of the Repeal of the Union. He, who had always lived among the people, could say that no two questions had less to do with each other, or were less identified with each other in the minds of the people of Ireland. If there were to be a war at present in Ireland, it would not be a war 294 between Ireland and England, but a war between property and starvation and misery. He had himself been always on the side of the people, and had made great sacrifices in their favour, yet he had been served with a Whitefoot notice from the midnight assassins, whose deeds had been so justly reprobated. He would not read the notice at that late hour. [" Read, read."] As the House were willing to hear the notice, it was to the following effect:—'The Gentlemen Regulators—'They called themselves Regulators, he presumed, as other Gentlemen had stated themselves Conservatives,—' of the grievances of our oppressed country, had to state their firm determination to your honour, as a duty they owe to the great kindness, liberality, and hospitality you have always shown to the poor. You must have Mr. Miller turned off. It is Mr. Millers fault that he is a Scotchman, and we will not allow a Scotchman or a foreigner to remain more than five days. Our reason for acquainting your honour with this is to avoid alarm. We humbly beg of you to send him from this place before we render it a scene of bloodshed and massacre, besides many other depredations we will commit if Mr. Barron will not turn him out of his employment.—Signed Captain Whitefoot, and Lieutenant Whitefoot, and others.' Under the present circumstances of the country, it was proper that the English Members should be made fully aware that the present corroding system of insubordination had no connexion with any sectarian parties; it was for the purpose of proving this that he had produced this document. He would entreat the hon. House to remember, that the county of Clare had been in a much worse state not five, nor four years ago; but the disturbances had been put down by vigour and determination, exercised under the existing laws, but no recourse had been had to extraneous measures, such as the suspension of the Trial by Jury, or of the Habeas Corpus. No; every disturbance had been put down by the prompt and vigorous putting into effect of the existing law, and the existing law only. So it was in Limerick at a later period—so in Tipperary—so in Cork at another period—and so in Waterford at a still more remote period. The present disturbances could be as well put down by the same means a" those he had mentioned, which were 295 far greater and more atrocious, and under a very different Government. In making these observations, he had no private passions, no personal feelings to gratify. He was a simple country gentleman, living on a small estate; and in speaking his sentiments, he trusted that the hon. Members for England and Scotland would do him the justice to believe that he was no factious advocate of his country's liberties. He had had great confidence in the Ministers' liberality and sympathy for Ireland. He still had great confidence in them. He still expected great things from them, but he earnestly wished that something more distinct had been stated in the King's Speech. He earnestly wished for something definite to comfort his suffering countrymen, and to give them hopes of that relief which they had so long and so anxiously been looking for; and which they had been so much encouraged to expect by the last Speech made from the Throne. He wished to see them relieved from that ferocious code which had so long desolated the country. Parliament had given them the Relief Bill; but they were, from long and sad experience, unable to place any confidence in the laws, because those laws had never been made for them, but against them. Only of late had there been any law made for them: but the hon. Gentleman opposite must be aware that the Catholic Relief Bill had been of no service to the poor of Ireland; it had given no meat to the hungry, no clothing to the naked. He entreated hon. Gentlemen not to permit that the first declaration which went from the Reformed Parliament should be such a fierce declaration against this unfortunate people. If they did, what could be expected from a nation so justly exasperated? What could be expected but the most direful results? He was no revolutionist, nor were the people of Ireland; for centuries they had been honoured, and often suffered, for their devotion to the Sovereign—for their loyal adherence to King Charles 1st. Half the wealth of the country had been confiscated to the use of strangers, and long and deeply had they felt the effects of it. He could refer to the history of Ireland to show, that her children had never been disloyal; but, on the contrary, had adhered to her chieftains the O'Neills, the O'Briens, and the Desmonds, to the last. Again, he would ask, how had they come forward in later times, 296 loyally to support the Reformers of England in 1832, to whose support she had sent her Representatives, and by the assistance of the majority of her Members the Reform Bill had been secured? In return, all that was sought was the support of England, and that was not claimed as a favour, but as the right of a loyal people, loyal to the last, and ready to shed their blood for King William 4th. They therefore, now called upon the English Members to protect them, and see justice done to them They asked it, not as a favour merely, but as a right; they did not ask to be separated from the English nation, to whom they were bound by many ties. No; all they asked was, to have their own local and domestic affairs managed by a local Parliament, as was the case before the year 1782. The English Parliament had no time to dedicate to the proper management of Irish affairs, which could so much better be looked to by men possessed of the requisite local knowledge. They did not wish to have such a Parliament as existed previous to 1801; it would be better to let things remain as they were; but they asked for a Reformed Parliament. This House was perpetually perplexed by a recurrence to Irish affairs; and he contended that it would be much better, on that account, the Irish should be left to manage their own affairs, which he was sure they would do with clearness, coolness, and calmness, whatever might be said to the contrary. The Irish had to complain of every grievance—of loss of trade—of absentees—of heartless agents. Differing as he did from many friends, he would advocate a system of Poor-laws; and thought, that by a proper Reform in the Church Establishment, the revenues might be well directed to the support and maintenance of the poor, the erection of churches, and the support of the ministers of religion. For the relief of the pauperism of Ireland he would advocate a tax upon absentees. With respect to them, he would put a parallel case to the hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer: what would that hon. Gentleman, whom he understood to be a first-rate farmer—what would he say, if all his farmers in Northamptonshire were to rob his lands perpetually, to carry off the fat of the earth, and leave no manure behind in return? Exactly parallel to this was the conduct of absentees; and he implored Ministers and the House to redress 297 these and all other grievances, of which unfortunate Ireland so justly complained.
§ Debate again adjourned.