§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the Day for proceeding with the Adjourned Debate on the Address.
§ Mr. Hume
rose and said, that he agreed with the hon. member for Oxford, that any stranger who had been witness to the two days' debate which had occupied that House, would imagine that the sole duty for which the British Parliament was assembled, was that of deliberating on Irish matters alone. It was his intention, however, to endeavour to draw the House back to what, on the present occasion, was the real business before them. When, however, he complained of the great portion of time which had been occupied by Irish affairs, he must say that he did not think it was the fault of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, or the Irish Members; for a more pointed attack on that hon. Gentleman than had been made, he had never before witnessed in that House. He regretted extremely that the time of those who moved the Address, should have been taken up in attacking the motives and notions of the hon. Gentleman—not for any alleged breach of duty in that House—but for his conduct elsewhere. The House had much reason to complain of the manner in which the Speech had been introduced. Scarcely one single syllable fell from the mover's lips respecting either England or Scotland. It appeared, indeed, as if he was not aware that any such nations existed. He would state his view of what he believed to be the duties now imposed upon the House. At no period of our history was so much ever expected from any Parliament, as by the people of the United Empire from the present; yet, he would venture to say, that never, since he had been in Parliament, had he heard a Speech delivered from the Throne, in which so little notice was taken of those great and important subjects which now occupied the attention of the whole community. Except those sentences which touched upon the Church, and one or two 313 comparatively unimportant subjects, all these great questions were passed over in silence. He had hoped, that in a Reformed Parliament, a different practice would have been adopted to that by which Speeches from the Throne had been hitherto regulated. It was the duty, and ought to be the desire of his Majesty's Ministers, to frame the Address in so clear and comprehensive a manner, that it should at least afford an outline of the measures which it was their intention to recommend to the consideration of the House. Now, if they were indeed to take the Speech as indicative of what was intended to be done by the Government, what conclusion could they come to but this—that his Majesty's Ministers intended to do nothing this Session for England—that the situation of this country was not to be taken into consideration, except so far as related to the questions of the Bank and East-India Company's Charters, and except the Reform in the Church? And the Speech on these points was very obscure, and he feared related to measures which would fall short of the expectations of this country. If he looked to the Speech of last year, he found much more attention was then paid to the internal condition of the country than at present. In that Speech would be found the following passage: 'I deeply lament the distress which still prevails in many parts of my dominions, and for which the preservation of peace both at home and abroad will, under the blessing of Divine Providence, afford the best and most effectual remedy; I feel assured of your disposition to adopt any practicable measures, which you will always find me ready and anxious to assist, both for removing the causes and mitigating the effects of the want of employment which the embarrassment of commerce, and the consequent interruption of the pursuits of industry have occasioned.'* Such was the language of the Speech made on the 6th of December, 1831. In the Speech now under consideration, not one single syllable was directed to this subject. The question, therefore, which he wished to ask his Majesty's Ministers, was this, whether the country was now in a better condition than at the period referred to? They certainly could not consider it more prosperous, or that prosperity would have been proclaimed in the usual*Hansard (third series) ix. p.2.314 way. Why then had they not taken notice of any measures to be adopted for the relief of the various distresses known to exist in many extensive and important branches of industry? The only interpretation he could put upon it was this—that his Majesty's Ministers were perfectly satisfied—and that though they did not consider we were in a state of prosperity, still it was not their intention to bring forward any measures for the protection or improvement of any one branch of industry, commerce, or manufactures, believing that none of them required consideration. If such were the case, he could assure his Majesty's Ministers that they were either misinformed or uninformed. They must not suppose, because the people of England had been quiet—because they had not been meeting to petition that House, that they required nothing at their hands. No, the people would soon remind the Government that the great object of that Reform for which they were so anxious, and in their exertions to obtain which they proved so successful—was the reduction of the great establishments of the country—the lessening of its expenses, and a relief from the existing burthen of taxation. The oppressive nature of this burthen, as had been formerly declared by one of the Ministers themselves—a gentleman who sat on the Board of Trade, and with which he understood the other members of the Government concurred—arose not merely from the actual amount raised, but from the manner in which the taxes were levied. More relief, indeed, might, perhaps, be given to the industrious portion of the community by varying and changing the mode of taxation, than by any reduction which it was at present in the power of Ministers to make. Yet they had not even intimated any intention to take off one shilling in amount, or make the slightest alteration in the mode of collection. It certainly was expected that some notification would have taken place respecting the repeal of taxes, which bore particularly hard on some classes of society. These taxes bore hard, especially upon that class whose principles were of the most meritorious description—that class of the people who strove as long as they could, to support themselves without having recourse to parochial relief. Bespoke from his own knowledge, when he stated that this class of people, in the metropolis in particular, were exceedingly numerous. 315 To them there were certain taxes which were exceedingly onerous and oppressive. The impression which they had on the subject of the repeal of these taxes was very strong; and they entertained no doubt, he believed, that it would be the first work of the Reformed Parliament. They did not entertain an idea, that it was possible for his Majesty's Ministers to neglect, on the meeting of the present Parliament, to make some announcement to the effect that their attention, and that of the Legislature, was to be directed to a subject so interesting to the people. He expressed the pain which he felt on receiving the answer which he had received to his inquiry respecting the abolition of a certain great military sinecure. He saw also with much regret that such a sinecure as that of the Constable of the Bound Tower at Windsor was filled up as speedily and as anxiously as if it had been a roost important and efficient office. When he coupled all these circumstances with the absence of all information respecting the intentions of his Majesty's Ministers, either to withdraw these taxes altogether, or to change them for other taxes which might be less onerous to the meritorious class of whom he had been speaking, he thought he might, without presumption, take it for granted that it was not intended either to repeal or to modify these taxes. He felt it, therefore, to be his duty to protest, on the part of his constituents, against the omission in the King's Speech of a subject so important to them. The people of England expected that something decisive would have been stated from the Throne with respect to the reduction or changing the mode of taxation; and although nothing was said by the mover of the Address about Scotland or England, he was sure that the people of his own country, Scotland, as well as those of England, were as much alive to the subject as any portion of the country, and that they expected confidently a reduction of taxation from the Reformed Parliament; and that, not merely by withdrawing one sort of taxes and substituting others, but by disbanding sinecurists, and those who held useless places, and reducing the salaries of all over-paid servants of the public. Was he not then warranted in saying that disappointment would be felt from one end of the kingdom to the other, on reading a Speech in which such an omission had 316 been made? He wished, therefore, to give his Majesty's Ministers one other opportunity to state to the House and to the country, whether the Government had any intention, and what, with regard to the reduction or changing of taxation. The hon. member for Worcester had given notice of a motion on the subject of the Property tax; but he did not think that the subject of a reduction or change of taxation was one which ought to be left in the hands of any private individual, but it ought to be proposed and carried into effect by his Majesty's Ministers. He could not, therefore, help expressing again his deep regret at the omission of so important a topic in the Speech from the Throne. On all former occasions, whenever there was any intention to grant any relief by the reduction of taxiation, it had always been announced in one shape or another by his Majestys Speech at the opening of Parliament, or it was mentioned by the mover of the Address, or by some of the Ministers, in the discussion upon the Address. He was now, therefore, still more convinced than ever of the truth of the maxim of that venerable, and, he hoped, venerated man—he meant Jeremy Bentham—that no Government will ever yield one shilling of taxation, unless the people exert them selves, and make it, in fact, a little uneasy. Ministers might very probably have taken it into their heads that no very great anxiety was felt on the subject of the reduction of taxation, because few petitions had been yet sentup on the subject, and because there was not much clamour in the country about it; but they were mistaken; and he would tell them candidly, that he had himself, in some degree, contributed to the absence of this species of evidence of the feeling of the public; for many applications had been made to him, by parties who were anxious to have petitions in readiness to be presented to the Reformed Parliament; but he had always told them to wait till they heard the King's Speech, and the explanations of the noble Lord in that House, or of the Ministers in the other House, on moving the Address, before they did anything of I that kind, as, if they acted otherwise, it might distract and embarrass the Government in such measures as they might intend to propose. That had been always his advice, when he was consulted on the subject, and his advice had very frequently 317 been acted upon. Therefore, if the noble Lord thought, that the people had refrained from being clamorous upon the subject of the reduction of taxation, out of acquiescence in the system that had bur-thened them for so many years, he could assure him that he was very much mistaken, and that their silence on the present occasion arose from nothing whatever, but their confidence that the Ministry who carried the Reform Act, would follow up that Act, by some measures for granting them some practical relief. What would Reform do for them, if it were not followed up by some measures of that kind? He greatly regretted the omission of the subject entirely in his Majesty's Speech; but he hoped, that as they now had an opportunity of making a statement of such measures, as he could not doubt but they had in view, they would explain to the House and to the public, that the omission was accidental, and that they did intend to make some reductions and some changes, and what those reductions and those changes were to be. The noble Lord (Lord Althorp) could not be ignorant of the anxiety which was felt, particularly in the Metropolis, upon the subject; for many deputations had waited upon him, particularly about the Window and House taxes. He would not, for his own part object to the House tax, if all house property were equally taxed. The Window tax was in all respects objectionable, and ought to be instantly repealed. There was another tax, which he considered it would be a reflection upon a Reformed House of Commons, if they did not take it into their consideration, and use their warmest endeavours to do away with it—he meant the Taxes on Knowledge. He would not speak further of this very unpopular tax; because there had been applications on the subject addressed to the Government from every quarter of the country, showing that the people took the deepest interest in it, and that they would be much disappointed at there being now no prospect of its being repealed. He believed that the fearful growth of crime which at present existed in this country might be justly attributed to the ignorance in which a great portion of the population were placed. He, for one, thought that neither the present, nor indeed any enlightened Ministry, could long sanction the restriction of the fullest dissemination of knowledge amongst the 318 people. It was with him matter of sincere regret that, in the Speech from the Throne, more attention had not been paid to the internal interests of the country. If he looked at the particular points mentioned in his Majesty's Speech, he found that the very first subject that was taken notice of in it was, the continuance of the civil war in Portugal. What did the people of England care about Portugal? Was it possible that Ministers could forget all the internal affairs of the country, and place the business of Portugal first, and before all the topics in which the people of this country took an interest. He considered this arrangement an insult on the people of England, when all their wants and all their requests were left unnoticed, and the affairs of Portugal placed in front of the Speech. The Members knew pretty well what his opinion was about the affairs of Portugal. He hoped that our interference in the quarrel between the two brothers of the House of Braganza, would be found to have been of a proper nature; and that we had not been acting in an underhand way, supporting one brother in preference to another. His own opinion on the matter was, that we had nothing to do with either the one brother or the other, and that the people of Portugal should be left to settle their own affairs as they liked. We had no business to be put to the expense of sending three, four, five, or six sail of vessels to Portugal, on the objects of either one party or the other, forgetting that there were objects enough on which the money which they cost would be much better employed. The next subject alluded to in the King's Speech was with him, an equal matter of regret; it related to the affairs of Belgium. After the first protocol on the affairs of Belgium, in the time of the Duke of Wellington's Administration, he had taken an opportunity of asking one of his Majesty's Ministers at that time, what the nature of our interference with the internal arrangements of the Netherlands was intended to be; and he was then assured that it was not intended that force should be used. He objected to doing anything except offering our advice as a friend. He would tell the present Ministers, as he had told those who were Ministers at that time—that they ought not to put any confidence in the military despots on the Continent. Though it 319 might be very well to be reckoned one of the Five Great Powers, the Ministers might depend upon it that those Powers would adhere to them as long as their own interests were concerned in doing so; but, as soon as that was not the case, they would desert this country; which had, in fact, already occurred as to Belgium. He alluded to the three northern Powers—Austria, Prussia, and Russia; and we should never have been connected with them in any way if we had known our own interests. Their declarations now made all the protocols useless, which had put this country to an expense of 12,000l. The time would come, when it would be known what the nature of our interference had been. He had an opinion upon the subject, but now was not the time for discussing it. He only protested against its being considered of so much importance as to be placed the second topic of the King's Speech. With respect to the part of the Speech which related to the alliance of France with this country, he would venture to mention his own opinion, that nothing could be more for the peace of Europe than the continuance of a close alliance between the two countries. France was our nearest neighbour, and our richest neighbour—it was the richest country in Europe; and the more intercourse we had with it, the more it would be for the benefit both of France and of England. He, therefore, concurred in approving of the alliance which appeared to have been formed between the two countries; and he hoped that the utmost efforts of Ministers would be used for extending and improving it. About the armament which had been sent to interfere in the affairs of Belgium, he did not wish for the present to express an opinion. He regretted that the decision of the question had been again put off; and he hoped that it would be speedily settled. It would have been matter of very great satisfaction to the country, if the Speech had contained, or the Mover of the Address had given, any intimation of the nature of the changes which it was intended to bring forward for the Reform of the Established Church. He was sure that the very greatest anxiety prevailed upon that subject throughout the country. And with regard to the county which he had the honour to represent (Middlesex), he was-well assared, that I next to a reduction in the expenditure, 320 the Reform of the Church was the great object on which the people had set their minds. He trusted that the Reform which Ministers contemplated would be such as would satisfy their expectations, and would reconcile to the Church many who were now wavering;. Unless this Reform were such as would eradicate those abuses of which Churchmen, as well as all other denominations of Christians complained—unless it was an effectual and a complete Reform, it would be useless. Let him hope that the Reform which the Ministers had in contemplation would be one which would be perfectly satisfactory to the country. He would give them his advice (which was quite disinterested), that no Reform would be satisfactory which did not reduce the incomes of the higher clergy. He had never argued, and he was no advocate now for spoliation or interference with the property of individuals; but if a proper Reform of the Church were put off much longer, they would be forced to submit to spoliation. Ministers should have his entire concurrence in effecting the changes which they proposed, provided they should be of such a nature as would be likely to satisfy the country. One drawback on his hopes from the expressions in the Speech arose from what was said about the Church revenues: "Whether the Revenues of the Church may not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution?" The noble Lord, he hoped, would take a lesson from the past, and consider that whatever application of the revenue should be made, care should be taken that it should only go to efficient servants; and that those who did no duty should be struck off, and those who did all the duty be fully and amply rewarded. What had been done had excited expectations of more. He would have passed one paragraph of the Speech, because it was not in itself of importance; but the sentiment expressed in it was so contrary to experience, that he could not avoid making a few remarks upon it, in ease his silence with respect to it might be supposed to arise from his agreeing to the opinion expressed in it. He alluded to the passage about preserving the Church: "In your deliberations on these important subjects, it cannot be necessary for me to impress upon you the duty of carefully I attending to the security of the Church I established by law in these realms, and to 321 the true interest of religion." Now, he did not believe the preservation of the Church was necessary for the true interest of religion; he did not think that Established Churches were at all beneficial to religion; for as soon as any Church was established in a country, experience had invariably shown that it immediately fell into abuses. He mentioned this only that it might not be supposed he approved of the opinion; but he did not wish to be supposed to advocate the overthrow of the Church; he only entered his protest against the opinion, that an Established Church was necessary for the support of religion; and he thought that the passage might just as well have been left out, or at least modified. The noble Lord, the mover of the Address, was well acquainted with the Church in Scotland, where the Establishment was more pure, and indeed was, perhaps, better than any other Established church; yet, in a very large portion of Scotland, there had lately been meetings for the purpose of getting rid of any Established Church, and particularly for getting rid of that patronage which seemed an abuse inherent in all Established Churches. When the Establishment of that country, then, was found to have its abuses, the noble Lord should not trust too much in the purity of that in this country. He could not pass over that part of the Speech which referred to Ireland, without expressing his deep regret at the course which Ministers had taken with respect to that country. He had every wish to give his full confidence to his Majesty's Ministers in everything else; but with regard to Ireland, there was not one single act, since they came into office, which was not exceptionable, and not one which had given satisfaction in that country. They had heard a great deal of the disturbed and disaffected state of Ireland, but the people of that country must be less than men if they did not endeavour to obtain a redress of the grievances under which they laboured. He hoped that hon. Members would not again fall into the mistake which had been committed by the hon. member for Leeds, and the right hon. member for Invernesshire, who had made speeches which were evidently intended for another purpose; because the hon. member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) had not alluded to the Repeal of the Union, and did not wish to allude to it. And he could not help regretting that the time of 322 the House should be taken up about a question which had nothing to do with the matter under discussion; and that the proper business of the House should have been entirely lost sight of, and those abuses in that country forgotten, which had been made known by the hon. member for Dublin, and admitted by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. He expressed his own determination to oppose the Repeal of the Union whenever the question should come to be discussed, because he considered it desirable for Ireland that it should be united to England; being the poorer country, it would be benefitted as much as Scotland had been by her Union. But he meant that the Union should be a real Union, and not such a Union as the present; that Ireland should no longer be under a Colonial Government and delegated power, under which complaints could only reach the ears of those who had the power of redressing the wrongs complained of through some interested channel. He repeated his determination to support the Union until it should appear that this Reformed Parliament would refuse to Ireland those alterations in her mode of Government which she had a right to expect; "and I am sorry to say," added the hon. Member, "it seems very likely to refuse, but if it does I will no longer support the Union." He would ask the noble mover of the Address whether it was prudent in him to attack as he had done the hon. member for Dublin? If any man had influence with the people of Ireland It was that hon. and learned Member; but he (Mr. Hume) did not believe that the people of Ireland were weak enough to be led by any man. It had been stated by the hon. member for Waterford that before the member for Dublin was born, the grounds of complaint existed, the resistance to which raised the hon. and learned Gentleman into notice. The hon. and learned Gentleman was only the advocate of the cause of his country and of her demands. Was it to be wondered at, when they had found an honest advocate of their rights, that they supported him? For that, and for that only, in his (Mr. Hume's) opinion, had the hon. and learned member for Dublin obtained the support of his country; but he had obtained that support, and he ought not to have been jeered and taunted in the manner in which he was jeered and taunted last night. The people of Ireland must consider themselves insulted in his person. 323 He regretted exceedingly that the debates were already this Session filled with continual personalities. Was it not highly improper to compare the hon. and learned Member, as had been done, to a ravenous bird of prey, endeavouring to fix his talons in the vitals of his victim? Was it possible for a man possessing the spirit of the member for Dublin to remain quiet when such terms as those were applied to him? Those personalities had been too frequent, not only in the present Session, but in the last also. The House had nothing to do with such matters, they had to deal with national grievances, and ought to dismiss from their minds the conduct of individuals. If any man had acted contrary to law, that was not the place in which he ought to be called to account: he was answerable to the law and a Court of Justice was the proper place to inquire into his conduct. He therefore objected most strongly to the way in which the debate frequently turned, so as to make it appear to be a personal question between the hon. and learned member for Dublin and the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. When things took that turn, it was impossible that the statements of either the one or the other should have their due weight. He hoped that, in future such personalities would be carefully avoided, and the attention of the House directed to the real objects of their debates,—to inquiring into the grievances of the country, and to finding out the means of relieving them. He admitted the truth of the observations of the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland, when he said, on a former occasion, that the evils of Ireland ought not to be attributed solely to the present Administration, and that the evils of Ireland had been growing up for centuries. He would, therefore, not say one single word on the subject of anything which had taken place, or which had been done in that country, but from the period when the present Administration took office. If he could show that they had violated every pledge which they had given to the country, and if he could prove that they had not acted as was expected from their principles and their honour, it was impossible for him to consent to give them those extraordinary powers which they asked for. He must express his regret that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had not alluded more particularly to the grievances of which Ireland complained. He would take the list of admitted evils to which Ire- 324 land was subject, which he had written down at the time. After hearing the statements of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and when he found that no one of these grievances was noticed, that no remedy was proposed (and he had heard of none), he could not help concluding that it was not intended to apply any remedy to them; and if that was the case, it was impossible for him to consent to give the Government any extraordinary powers. Did the right hon. Secretary attend to the complaints against the Magistracy, or to those against the Bench, when a Judge had taken upon himself to alter the law? He had never taken any notice of that, though there never was an act which better deserved impeachment.
begged to explain, that in the case alluded to (that of Baron Pennefather), the decision of the revising Barrister was subject to appeal, and upon that principle the Judge made the decision complained of.
§ Mr. Hume
continued: The hon. member for Waterford (Mr. Barron) had stated that the people of Ireland had no confidence in the administration of the law—that they did not think justice was done. It was the duty of Ministers to take some notice of so crying an evil. Some explanation should at least be given on the subject, either to show that such a grievance did not exist, or to say that some means would be taken to remedy it. Could any man who had listened to the statements of the hon. and learned member for Dublin think if such grievances existed in England, that Englishmen would be such slaves as tamely to continue submissive to such a tyranny; and could they therefore think it strange that Irishmen should not be quiet? In that House he had heard promises made that certain grievances should be corrected. He himself had received an answer to that effect, on putting a question respecting tithes. Yet the petitions lay on the Table, and no further notice was taken of the matter. Now, Ministers either had or had not the power to remedy the grievances of Ireland. If they had not the power to do what they considered right, and what they were pledged to do, they ought not to continue in office a day longer; if they had the power, they ought at least, to give some explanation to the country why the measures which they stood pledged to carry were not carried. Why had they allowed 325 the law about Juries, which they have themselves declared to be unjust, to continue in operation for one year? This was one ground of complaint, and as that remained unremedied, he would refuse the additional powers which they required, till he knew whether it was their intention to remedy it or not. The appointment of Sheriffs was another grand cause of complaint, and the political influence which they possessed. Ministers might have submitted a notice on that subject, which would have been some proof of their intention to take the affairs of Ireland into their serious consideration. Ministers said nothing about Grand Juries. The right hon. Member said nothing of depriving Catholics of a share in the offices in the appointment of Government—said nothing of the twenty-six stipendiary Magistrates appointed by the present Government not one of whom was a Catholic. If there were no other ground on which the Irish had cause to complain, this would be perfectly sufficient—that all the offices were given, not to Irishmen, but foreigners, [a laugh.] [Mr. O'Connell: They are foreigners to us, since they are of a different religion.] That alone was a sufficient grievance to account for the discontent of Ireland. He would ask the noble Lord: Suppose this to be the case, and suppose he was to take it in his head to appoint the next twenty-five Magistrates, all Catholics—did he think this would meet the approbation of the country. He might extend this to all the offices of the State. Was it possible that the people of England would bear this? Could there be any wonder, then, that grievances like those which the people of Ireland had suffered so many centuries should cause a rancour against their oppressors? He protested against all offices being filled by Orangemen, who were the enemies of the Catholic population. When he recollected the speeches of the present Ministers on the Motion of the hon. member for Edinburgh (Mr. Abercromby), against putting arms into the hands of the Orangemen; * when he recollected that they then concurred with him (Mr. Hume), and when he now saw that nothing had been done for redeeming the pledges which were given, and the promises which were made by those Gentlemen when they sat on this side of* See Hansard (new series), vol. viii. p. 443.326 the House, it seemed to him that there must be something in these benches which made men forget their promises. It seemed that there was some sort of infatuation which came over them, when they moved from this side of the House to the other, and which seized them immediately on sitting down upon that bench. Nothing whatever had yet been done for Ireland. He would refer to the language used by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, on December 6th, 1831, in the Debate on the Address, to show what were then his sentiments. The right hon. Gentleman then said: 'Will any man tell me, that the system of tithes, even in this country, and much more in Ireland, is not fraught with mischief? Will he tell me, that it is the most amicable arrangement that could be made between the minister and his parishioners? Will he tell me, that it does not give rise to dissension, nay, to bitter animosity? And are not those feelings of animosity necessarily stronger amongst a population where the majority of the people dissent from the Church, for the maintenance of which the tithes are collected?'* Was that great tithe grievance yet remedied in Ireland? Certainly not. Again, the right hon. Gentleman said, in reference to a demand for those additional powers which he now advised his Majesty to ask for. 'The Government will concede to no clamours that are unjust, and they will use the powers of the law to put down any association that may be inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution; and if the powers which the laws at present give them be insufficient for that purpose, they will call for further powers. But I do not think that, by resistance to just and equitable claims, you can extinguish the voice of the people.'† In the last year, then, the right hon. Gentleman disclaimed all wish or intention of using force in Ireland. Now he proposed to stifle the voice of the whole nation. The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech the night before last, had told the House that out of 102 rewards, amounting to 12,000l. which had been offered in Ireland, for the discovery of the numerous crimes which had been recently committed in that country, only two had been claimed. What did that prove? Directly the reverse of what the right hon. Gentleman wished to*Hansard (third series) xi. p. 56.† Ibid. p. 55.327 establish. It proved that the whole nation were united in one sentiment; and the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that it was not possible to bribe or intimidate a whole nation. But he had not quite done with exposing all the inconsistencies of the right hon. Gentleman. He who now wanted new powers to stifle the voice of complaint, lifted up against acknowledged oppression, then said: 'The right hon. Gentleman indeed says, that the moment the people pass the line of just and reasonable demand, that moment we should refuse to concede anything; we should steel ourselves against all applications, and should tell the people, that none of their demands ought to be conceded, because some of them were unjust; we should make no concessions lest it should be supposed that we had conceded every thing to fear. What, Sir, shall I answer to such an argument? What shall I say more than this—take care that you concede in time? Seasonable concession is the only means by which you can either put down just, or prevent unjust demands.'* Had such a course been pursued? Quite the contrary. No grievance had been redressed, but several grievances had been augmented. Ireland was perfectly quiet until the passing of the measure relative to tithes, which had been introduced by the right hon. Chief Secretary in the last Session. The Irish people had experienced great relief from the measure for emancipating the Catholics. That measure had produced great tranquillity. The members of his Majesty's Government had declared that such was the case. The people of Ireland were grateful for Catholic Emancipation; and they were the more grateful, because they thought it would be followed up by additional benefits. And what had the people of Ireland since done? Had they not, both by themselves and by their Representatives, supported the propositions made by his Majesty's Government for Parliamentary Reform? Had they not supported his Majesty's Government until they had been driven by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to despair? Until that unlucky hour, when the right hon. Chief Secretary introduced his Bill for the compulsory composition of Tithes in Ireland, that country was perfectly quiet. It was not the hon. and learned member for Dublin who was*Hansard (third series) ix. p. 55.328 the real agitator of Ireland; it was the right hon. the Chief Secretary. If all the efforts of mortal man—if almost going down upon his knees—would have averted the measure which occasioned all this evil, the hon. and learned member for Dublin would have averted it. The propositions of the right hon. Chief Secretary last year were fourfold. Three of them were conceded; but to the one to which he had just alluded, the most strenuous opposition was made, by those who well knew the mischiefs that would result from it. That excellent and venerable person, Sir John Newport, who was not now in the House, Sir Henry Parnell, who he (Mr. Hume) exceedingly regretted was not now in the House, in conjunction with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, all made every effort that mortal men could make, to induce his Majesty's Ministers not to persevere in their compulsory tithe measure. All the Irish Members joined them in deprecating the adoption of such a brand of discord at such a time. A deputation of the Irish Members waited upon the leaders of the Administration. It did not consist alone of those anxious to promote the Repeal of the Union. No men could be more desirous to maintain the connexion in all points between the two countries than Sir John Newport and Sir Henry Parnell; but they said: "Let us, for the good of our common country, unite with the hon. member for Dublin and his friends." They waited on Lord Grey and the right hon. Gentleman, but in vain. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland was inexorable. He (Mr. Hume) had expected better things from Lord Grey. He had expected more firmness—more wisdom—more liberality of feeling. He did not imagine that, after the manifold proofs of the evils wrought upon Ireland by the right hon. Gentleman, he would have left that country in the hands of one who was incapable of wielding the powers committed to his charge, except for purposes of mischief. He would not once have believed that noble Lord would have suffered Ireland to have been sacrificed, to he knew not what, or whose pernicious counsels—counsels, however, which, by adoption, became the counsels of the Cabinet. If he could truly judge of Lord Grey by an experience of twenty-five years, he must say, that the late proceedings of his Administration were utterly at variance with the professions and practices of his whole preceding 329 life, and that he must be now misled by some strange malignant influence. But after receiving this deputation of Irish Members, what did the Government do? Did they attend to the warning voice? Did they withdraw the obnoxious proposition, and abandon their insane project? No!—they called together 230 English Members to support them, against the Representatives of Ireland—against the people of that country. He, however, and one other honest man that was near him, protested against it. They told the Minister that no good would be effected by a mere change of names. After he had heard the statements last year, of the noble Lord opposite, and of the right hon. Chief Secretary for Ireland, in support of the compulsory Tithe Composition Bill, he (Mr. Hume) had asked them what more they could have than the whole military force of the country, and had told them that to bring the Crown into odium, and to make a tithe proctor of the King, would be a most degrading proceeding. He had told them that they had never tried conciliation; and had informed them that those who knew the circumstances of Ireland, would pledge themselves, that if no legislative measure were adopted, at least seventy-five per cent of the arrears of tithes would, in the course of three months, or perhaps in the course of six weeks, be paid off without any trouble whatever. He had then said, that they were acting against the united voice of the Representatives of Ireland, and against the united voice of the people of Ireland, and that they would embroil Ireland in all the horrors of civil war. No proposition could be fairer than the proposition which had been made on that occasion by the hon. and learned member for Dublin; and, therefore, it was the height of injustice to say, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was the cause of the present agitation in Ireland. As soon as the measure came into operation, its effects were felt to be so injurious, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin would have acted a most dastardly part if he had not exhorted the people of Ireland to endeavour to obtain redress. "But no," exclaimed the right hon. Chief Secretary, "the people of Ireland shall not even meet to petition Parliament on the question of tithes." What would the people of England say, if the noble Lord at the head of the Administration, or any other man, were to forbid them in any case from 330 meeting to petition that House? Would they not, like the people of Ireland, resist every effort so to coerce them? When the extraordinary measure of last Session was proposed by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, was it not stated by them that it should go hand in hand with measures, for the redress of the grievances under which the people of Ireland laboured? Even a list of those grievances was made out. When, at a subsequent period, the noble Lord, the sincerity of whose character every man must acknowledge, was called upon to redeem that pledge, he admitted having said, "he considered it would be contrary to all principle to agree to the course of compulsion recommended, without a coincident course of conciliation; that the only reason why the latter had been postponed was the complexity of the subject; but that he felt that his Majesty's Government, and the House itself, were pledged to follow up the proposed measure with measures for redressing grievances." And yet, up to the present moment, not an item of those grievances had been redressed. Had the Vestry-cess been altered? Had the system of Church-rates been amended? Had the system of tithes been improved? Nothing of the kind. Was this the way in which the pledge of the noble Lord, and the pledge of the House of Commons, had been redeemed? Had not the evils of Ireland been aggravated, instead of mitigated? Had not meetings, the object of which was, to obtain a legal redress of grievances been stopped? Had not the military been employed in an unprecedented manner? No invaded state had ever been more completely overrun by a foreign enemy, than Ireland had been overrun by British troops. Horse, foot, and dragoons, had all been employed to carry off one poor tithe-pig. It was the right hon. Chief Secretary who was the real Repealer. Talk of the hon. and learned member for Dublin; that hon. and learned Gentleman was only the agent of the Irish people, to resist the oppression which it was attempted to inflict upon them. What was the course which his Majesty's Government ought to adopt to stop the demand for a Repeal of the Union? To do justice; to put an end to violence; to prevent the current of blood from continuing to flow by the mismanagement of any man. If the noble and learned Lord at the head of the Chancery could forget the 331 doctrines which he had formerly advocated with so much eloquence—if other noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen had changed the liberal principles which they formerly professed—at least he trusted the Reformed House of Commons, would not be found deficient in the discharge of its duty. Why had a Reformed House of Commons been loudly called for by the country? That the bad measures of a Government might be checked; that the grievances of the people might be redressed. But the right hon. Chief Secretary declared that the grievances of the people of Ireland should not be redressed. He (Mr. Hume) could repose no confidence in a Government which permitted such a declaration. If the noble Lord at the head of his Majesty's Government were to act wisely, he would withdraw the Lord Lieutenant from Ireland; he would interpose no obstacle between the immediate communications of the Irish people with the English Government, and he would never allow the right hon. Gentleman to go to Ireland again. Let him (Mr. Hume) do the right hon. Gentleman justice: he believed the right hon. Gentleman had intended to do his best, but it was sufficient to say that he had failed, and that he did not possess the confidence of one man in Ireland. Was the proposed course the way to acquire that confidence? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was, that Government must be feared before it was loved. Was not such doctrine enough to induce a British House of Commons to rise and express one universal sentiment of indignation? At least let them not, by arming the Government with fresh powers, render themselves the partizans of bloodshed, and the supporters of a system that had no other claims to obedience but the terror it inspired. Ireland had already been worse treated by this country than Greece had been by the Turks; and now his Majesty's Government came forward with propositions for fresh powers, without having in a single instance redeemed the pledge to redress grievances, with which they had accompanied their last proposition of a similar nature. He repeated, that he was unable to give his confidence to men who had so grossly mismanaged the power which had already been intrusted to them. The hon. and learned member for Leeds had asserted, that for twenty years before the Union, Ireland had been overawed 332 by England. He (Mr. Hume) had been looking at the documents, and he found that in 1792 there were only 8,000 troops in Ireland. He did not understand, therefore, what the hon. and learned member for Leeds meant by over-awing. Ireland was now indeed overawed, for 40,000 troops were employed to collect tithes, and keep the people submissive. Nor was the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman founded on his assumption that the hon. and learned member for Dublin wished for the restoration of the old Irish Parliament a just one. What the hon. and learned member for Dublin wanted was a Reformed Irish Parliament. If, by the decision of the House that night, they agreed to place fresh powers in the hands of his Majesty's Government, he (Mr. Hume) should himself become a Repealer at once; and why not? Ireland could not be worse off than under the military despotism which it was proposed to inflict upon her. He would now say a few words to those Members who had constituents, as most of them now had. By those constituents they were called upon to make every effort to diminish the enormous establishments of the country. Were they aware that the military establishment of Ireland cost annually two millions? If they redressed the grievances of which the Irish justly complained, grievances which no freemen ought to submit to—grievances which made slaves of those who were subjected to them—that large establishment might be reduced. By maintaining it, a reduction of taxation was rendered impossible. If his Majesty's Government would consent to redress the grievances of Ireland, the military establishment in that country might be at once reduced from between 30,000 and 40,000 to 10,000 men. Was not that worthy of consideration by a Reformed Parliament? Again, if Ireland were to be maintained as if it were a military garrison—if it were to be treated as if it were a conquered country, how was it to be expected that the people would ever obtain any profitable employment? Who would be mad enough to carry his capital to a country in such circumstances? But it was impossible to expect that a people could be civilized unless they were employed. An unemployed people must necessarily be a lawless banditti. Every measure which had been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman had extended the 333 evil of disturbance, instead of restoring; confidence and tranquillity. He allowed that Ireland was at present in a most disturbed state. But who had produced that state? His Majesty's Government. They once had peace in Ireland, and they ought to have preserved it. What was the cause of all this? The Irish Church Establishment. They might disguise it as they would, but that was the real cause. Fourteen years ago he had declared in his place that it was necessary to the peace of Ireland that the existing Church Establishment in that country should be abolished. He now repeated the declaration. Were the people of Scotland saddled with a Church Establishment contrary to the will of the majority? Were the people of England saddled with a Church Establishment contrary to the will of the majority? Why then should Ireland be so saddled? Was it for the support of religion? That was mere mockery. It was for the purpose of raising a revenue to enrich Bishops and other dignitaries. Why were twenty-two bishops considered necessary for half a million of people? He had in his possession a long list of Deans, Archdeacons, &c., all useless to the nation at large; and although partial interests might be consulted by maintaining them, that House ought to consider only what was calculated to benefit the whole community. Was it fitting and was it wise, in the present day, amidst the events which were passing in this country and elsewhere, when the people were beginning to think, aye, and to act for themselves—was it fitting and was it wise to persevere in such a course? He warned his Majesty's Government—he warned the House against doing so. Let them look at what had occurred in his own country. Did not Scotland nobly and successfully resist the attempt which had been made to saddle it with a hierarchy? He could never complain of a nation which endeavoured to achieve in this respect what the Scotch had achieved. What right had they to say—the English shall be free, the Scotch shall be free, but the Irish shall be slaves? Why continue to keep up an establishment which had been the bane of Ireland? He was sorry that it was not in his power to place that confidence in his Majesty's Government on this point which he could wish to place in them. For the acts of that Government, Earl Grey, as the head of it, was responsible. 334 Was it possible that that noble Earl, after having stood so long on the eminence of public opinion, having so long and so openly professed liberal opinions—was it possible that he could permit such a course of proceeding to be continued? Was it possible that he could do so, when, by the boon which it was in his power to bestow on Ireland, he might restore the peace of Ireland, and consolidate the union of the two countries? He (Mr. Hume) had no wish to see that union disturbed, and he thought he might undertake to say for the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that if the peace and happiness of Ireland were restored by justice being done to that unhappy country, that hon. and learned Gentleman would have no wish to see the Union disturbed. For his part, he (Mr. Hume) was persuaded that any such disturbance would be highly mischievous to both countries, and he should therefore be no friend even to the consideration of the question of a Repeal of the Union, if the House and the Government did that which every feeling of justice called upon them to do. He would not again place confidence in ministers till their former pledges were redeemed. As to the Address, he did not wish to go so far as to object to it altogether. But with that part which referred to Ireland, he most assuredly altogether differed. If Ministers neglected to remind his Majesty of what was for the good of his people, or any portion of them, he trusted the House would ever perform its duty in that respect. On that account he had certainly felt a desire to introduce a paragraph into the Address, reminding his Majesty what grievances had to be relieved, what taxation reduced. The time was not far distant when he hoped they should revert to the good old practice of requiring Ministers to lay before the House, at the opening of each Session, an explicit detail of all those matters which it was their intention to introduce. The present custom might be well for Parliaments as formerly constituted, but, as in the Reformed Parliament Members would be required to do their duty uprightly and faithfully, for they were sent to vote, not as Ministers pleased, but as their country required—he would suggest to his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin, that it would be well if he would withdraw his Amendment; or, if that were not allowed, that it should be negatived without a division, and that the House should 335 then take up the only point in the Address which seemed to require objection—namely, the question of granting extraordinary powers without inquiry. His experience had not been so long in Parliament as that of some other hon. Members, but he might, perhaps, have attended as much to the manner in which things were managed. If he recollected rightly, in every case in which extraordinary powers were demanded by a Minister for the purpose of placing any portion of our fellow-countrymen beyond the pale of the law, it was considered incumbent upon the Minister to make out a sufficient case to justify so extreme a proceeding. Parliament was here called upon to outlaw the whole of Ireland—to place it beyond the pale of the law. Was that likely to promote peace, or to make the people contented and tranquil? Was it not likely rather to raise those who were now obedient to the law in disgust against it? There was a point to which human patience could bear, but they might calculate too much upon the sufferance of man. He considered that no case had been made out to warrant these extraordinary powers, as regarded Ireland; and, therefore, he should be happy if his hon. friend, the member for Dublin, would withdraw his Amendment, and allow his right hon. friend, the member for Lambeth, to submit his Amendment, which applied to the very point which a Reformed Parliament ought to consider. If the Government would remedy the evils of Ireland, he would give them any powers they pleased, but let them try the remedies first. The amendment of his right hon. friend would, he was sure, meet the approbation of his hon. friend, and every man would discard from his mind the notion that he came to that House merely to vote as the Ministers would have him, and would reflect that he was sent there to think for himself. As the liberties, the rights, and the welfare of the whole community were at stake on this occasion, he entreated, that hon. Members would not stultify the proceedings of the House by putting out of the pale of the law a whole nation. His hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin, had been taunted as if he had the power to be king of Ireland. These proceedings might make him so; but, if he was king of Ireland—that was what the hon. Members at the other side of the House said—he had always denied it; but there was no sentiment so much 336 cheered at the other side of the House as the charge made against his hon. and learned friend relative to the power which he possessed in Ireland; but if he was king of Ireland, let them deprive him of his power, and bring back the people to their allegiance by doing them justice. Let them take his hon. friend at his word. He only asked justice for his country. Let justice be done, and then his hon. friend and himself, and every Gentleman in the House, would join in enabling the Government to put down any insubordination or lawless proceedings which might be attempted. The only step which the Government had taken towards doing justice to Ireland was the measure for a commutation of tithes; but that was nothing in comparison with the oppression which they had practised by filling the country with the army, and other proceedings. He hoped his right hon. friend, the member for Lambeth, would be allowed to move his Amendment, pledging the House to grant the necessary powers to his Majesty, provided a case were shown, and justice done. He should not further detain the House. If he had expressed himself warmly, it was because he felt strongly on the subject. He was greatly obliged to the House for the attention with which he had been heard, and should support the Amendment of his right hon. friend when it was moved.
Mr. Robert Ferguson
said, it appeared to him that the hon. member for Middlesex proceeded on the supposition, that what had been, and was at present, was to continue. He could not take that view of the question. He stood in that House totally unconnected with the Government, and was as independent as any man in the House, but he, in his conscience, believed that Ministers would do for Ireland what the situation of the country required. Was Ireland to be governed by force? God forbid! Mankind could not be governed by force in the present age. But why should the House suppose that Ministers intended to govern Ireland by force? The words "additional powers" would bear another interpretation. He thought it was unfair and ungenerous to stop Ministers by this debate from carrying the Address up to the Crown. Was it possible that the Government could state what measures they intended to propose upon the Motion for an Address to the Crown? He placed confidence in the honest inten- 337 tions of Ministers, and thought that they ought to be tried by their measures. The House would not have to wait long before those measures would be proposed. Ministers, doubtless, were anxious to bring them forward. The charge of illiberality which had been brought against Ministers certainly surprised him. Would the House be filled as it was by liberal Members if Ministers were illiberal? Had not the present Government brought forward the Reform Bill? The hon. member for Knaresborough, who appeared to be well acquainted with Ireland, at least he was well acquainted with the priests—had advocated the introduction of the Poor-laws into Ireland. He (Mr. Ferguson) did not entertain so high an opinion of that system as the hon. Member appeared to do; but if the absentees could be made to contribute towards the maintenance of their starving countrymen, he should be very glad of it. In allusion to an observation which had fallen from the member for the University of Oxford on a previous night, he must express his opinion that Church property belonged to the State, and might be appropriated as the State thought proper. He concluded by recommending the House to place confidence in Ministers for a short period, and he should be bitterly mistaken and disappointed if they did not propose measures which would meet with general approbation.
§ Major Beauclerk
felt it his duty, as a Member of that House, and the Representative of one of the most populous counties of England, to warn the House of the precipice to which they would approach, if they were to persevere in the course of conduct towards Ireland which was recommended in the Speech. He had, indeed, hoped that Ministers, on coming before the first Reformed Parliament, would have framed a speech suited to the taste of the people, and not one which was only worthy of being delivered to one of the old Unreformed Parliaments. It would have given him the greatest pleasure to have been able to support the Ministers if they had afforded him an opportunity of doing so, but he would ask how it was possible for Members who had been sent into that House in order to see retrenchment and reform carried into every department of the State, to give their support to a speech from the Throne in which retrenchment was never mentioned from beginning to 338 end? If there were one thing more than another to which the people of this country were looking, it was retrenchment. They were pressed to the ground by misery and poverty, which, if not equal to that under which Ireland was labouring, was greater than had ever been known in England before. It was the duty of Ministers to allude to the distresses of the people in the Speech from the Throne, and to express a wish that the House should take them into consideration with the view of applying such remedies as they might think expedient. The remedy would be the reduction of taxation, by giving up the overgrown establishments by which the country had long been oppressed. He could tell Ministers that the people expected that this would have been their conduct, and no person knew the feeling of the people of that part of the country with which he was connected better than he did. [A laugh.] That laugh would not intimidate an honest man. The Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench might be assured that he entertained no hostile feeling towards them; on the contrary, if he respected any set of men more than another, it was the majority of the Gentlemen who sat upon that Bench, though there were some amongst them in whom he could not place confidence. It was with great pain that he heard the ill-judged and unmannerly expressions—not to use a harsher phrase—which fell from the gallant mover of the Address; a more shameful attack upon an individual he never heard. He thought the hon. member for Dublin was unfairly dealt with, and, like his hon. friend the member for Middlesex, he believed that the right hon. Secretary was the real agitator. That was not an opinion which he had now for the first time taken up, for he had expressed it from the moment the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Tithe Bill. He had then declared that the Tithe Bill would prove a cause of great agitation, and until Ministers should bring in a better measure with respect to tithes, he trusted that the agitation would not cease; for the Irish people must be less than men if they bowed down to a system which no other country would endure. In Scotland were the swords of the people ever sheathed, except in the bodies of their enemies, until they had got rid of their grievances? Though he was not an Irishman, he had the feelings of one. He hoped that Ministers would pause before they forced the House 339 to a division which would excite painful emotions throughout the country. Within the last two days he had received, from all parts of the county which he represented, the strongest applications to resist, to the utmost of his power, the pledge which the House was called upon to give of carrying war into Ireland. That circumstance proved that the hon. member for Dublin knew little of the feeling of the people of England when he accused them, as he frequently did, of exhibiting no kindness or generosity towards Ireland. The hon. Member never made a more unfortunate statement than that, if he believed it. The people of this country felt as deeply for the miseries and distress of Ireland as they did for their own; and he would tell the right hon. Secretary, that if he could strike a dagger into the bosom of one country, it would extinguish life in the other. If the right hon. Gentleman knew the people of Ireland as well as he did, he must be aware that a more noble and warm-hearted people did not exist. The Government might do anything with them by kindness, but if it should carry English troops across the channel—if it should employ the English militia to shoot the unfortunate Irish in their woods and bogs like so many snipes, the right hon. Gentleman would soon find that his proud aristocratic spirit had been the ruin of his country. Knowing his Majesty to be a humane Gentleman and a Christian, he was surprised and grieved to find that something like kindness and gentleness had not been expressed in the Speech from the Throne. Surely one expression of kindness might have found its way there, for words cost nothing. Instead of such a proclamation as the president of the United States had issued to the state of Carolina, which was in nearly the same situation as Ireland at the present moment—instead of an expression of kindness, the people of Ireland were told that broadswords and bayonets were to be sent across the Channel in order to put them down. Nothing, however, would put down the Irish but justice and kind treatment. If the right hon. Secretary would go over to Ireland with some just Acts of Parliament in his hands, he might march in triumph from one end of the kingdom to another, and put every rebel in it to flight. Ministers had avoided all allusion to another important subject in the Speech from the Throne, which, if they thought it could be 340 passed over in silence, they were much mistaken—he meant the question of slavery in the West Indies. The people were looking anxiously to that subject from one end of the kingdom to another, and no one knew that better than the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under those circumstances, it was most extraordinary that not a word should have been said respecting it in the Speech from the Throne. The first ship which should sail from Liverpool with a copy of the King's Speech would excite a feeling of indignation in the West Indies, and if the Speech should produce revolution in those possessions, which was very likely, the bloodshed would be on the heads of the present Ministers, who had so often led the country to expect a satisfactory measure on this subject from them. He would not detain the House longer than shortly to notice one expression which fell from the right hon. Secretary, and which appeared to him to be one of the most unconstitutional that ever proceeded from the mouth of a person sitting on that bench. The right hon. Gentleman said, that against the Repeal of the Union he would wage war to the death. Was that fit language to come from the mouth of a Minister? If he (Major Beauclerk) had spoken in that manner, he should have been scouted as a radical from one end of the country to another. The expression meant nothing when it came from a Minister of the Crown, but it would be rebellious language if spoken by an honest Representative of the people. He would say this for the right hon. Secretary, that he did not think he intended to be the enemy of Ireland, but the system which he pursued was one which would ruin that country, and he entreated those who supported Ministers, if they possessed the feelings of Englishmen, to respond to the sentiment of the people out of doors, and unite in compelling the Government to withdraw that part of the Address which referred to the application of force to Ireland.
§ Mr. Hall
was sorry Mr. O'Connell had thought proper to move an Amendment, for hereafter there would be more time and more fitting opportunities for discussing the matters referred to in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. He should support the Address, because he placed confidence in Ministers, judging them, as it was only fair to judge them, by their 341 past acts and their general public conduct. He hoped, however, in a very few days the right hon. Secretary for Ireland would come down to the House prepared to explain candidly and explicitly his views with regard to Ireland. If then the powers he sought for were too great—if they were incompatible with what he (Mr. Hall) thought advisable and necessary, he should most assuredly oppose the motion for granting them. He was sure that if something were not quickly done, we should reap a harvest of trouble and discontent. The chief object he had in rising was to express his regret at the tenor of the speech of the noble Lord who had moved the Address, and which, he must say, he wished had been more conciliatory. He called on the House not to act on the feeling which that speech displayed, and which he had no doubt the noble Lord felt he had expressed too strongly, and to direct all their efforts to one object, namely, the endeavour to restore happiness to Ireland. He was sure that all in that House wished to attain that object, and only differed about the means. He was certainly most strenuously opposed to the motion for the Repeal of the Union, and he was so, both for the interest of Ireland and of England. He was convinced, indeed, that as soon as Repeal of the Legislative Union commenced, so soon would begin the dismemberment of the empire. With regard to the question of agitation, he believed that there was but one remedy for that, and that was the improvement of the condition of the people of Ireland. One step towards that improvement was, to give Poor-laws to Ireland. He called on the Government to do that, and to adopt other measures to benefit that country, and when they had done so, when they had employed all their efforts to effect some good for Ireland, he should be ready to support any Administration which might be seated in that House in its efforts to put down every attempt at rebellion.
§ Mr. Tancred
said, that it was his wish to support the Address, and he should certainly do so; but he desired, at the same time, to explain the grounds of his vote, in order that his conduct might be understood both in and out of that House, and throughout the whole empire. He had listened with the utmost patience to the eloquent speeches of those Members for different places in Ireland who had spoken on this occasion, to all who had argued as 342 the advocates for that unfortunate country; but he must say, that it was impossible not to observe that all had fallen into one common error. He must say, that in his opinion, all the hon. Members who had spoken in this discussion had committed the mistake of speaking of the evils of Ireland as if they were of a simple and not of a complicated nature. He was sure that that was not the fact, and he was convinced, therefore, that the remedy for them could not possibly be found in one act of the Legislature, let that act be in itself ever so important. He sincerely hoped that the evils of Ireland had been exaggerated by some of the hon. Members who came from that part of the empire; but if but one half of what they had stated was true, the remedies they had proposed were puerile. They were inapplicable—they were utterly inadequate. They had been told by the hon. member for Meath, of a state of circumstances which, if they really existed as that hon. Member supposed, would set at defiance the effect of the remedy proposed by some hon. Gentlemen; nay, indeed, would become infinitely worse by its application. The hon. Member had stated, that in a population of 8,000,000, only 1,600,000 were engaged in agriculture, that trade was utterly ruined, and that there was a mass of paupers of the most alarming extent existing throughout the country. Indeed, such must be the case with a population of above 5,000,000 of unemployed persons. All these persons must be in a miserable condition, and it was impossible that they could be relieved, and could be restored to a state of happiness or comfort merely by improvements in Grand Jury Acts, or by the repeal of Acts relating to trespasses, or any other partial measure of that nature. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin, had stated with truth that we were on the brink of a volcano. If only one half of what that hon. Member had stated was true, he should be willing not only to consent to suspend the Habeas Corpus, but to appoint the Duke of Wellington, or any other man in whom the country had confidence, to be Dictator of Ireland.
spoke to order. He wished to know whether it was constitutional in that House to suggest the possibility of the appointment of a Dictator?
§ The Speaker
begged to know to what the hon. and learned Member objected, and then he would give his opinion,
§ The Speaker
I am inclined to think that the hon. and learned Gentleman, in the warmth of his feeling, somewhat misunderstands what has been stated. There was no recommendation to appoint a Dictator. What was stated, was stated hypothetically; and, if I recollect rightly, it was only yesterday that some suggestion of the same kind was made with respect to a king of Ireland.
§ Mr. Tancred
continued: The House and the hon. and learned Gentleman might be equally assured, that he had used the expression without the slightest wish to give offence to any one; and if it did give offence, he would not repeat the obnoxious name. He had only, in the course of his argument, wished to express the idea that he would appoint some great character in whom the country had confidence, and tell him to see ne quid respublica detrimenti capere. What were the evils from which Ireland really suffered? If they looked to other States, they might be able to trace the causes with sufficient certainty to give a general answer to the question. If they did so, they would find those States happy where there was a competition in the demand for labour, and those unhappy in which there was a competition for subsistence. In that manner he believed that New Holland and America might be said to be happy States, for there the power to labour insured the means of subsistence. But if, on the other hand, he desired to give an instance of the want of happiness arising from the want of employment, he did not know that he could refer to one where there was more suffering than in Ireland. For evils of this nature, as they were of slow growth, so there was not any exertion, of a legislative nature, that would instantly remove them. Such evils, too, would never be cured by agitation. He might refer to France for a proof of it. In that country, unhappily, every party in turn took advantage of any circumstance to create agitation; and whether Carlist or Buonapartist, or Constitutional, all thought they must have a mouvement. Within one week after the election of their present king, he believed that thousands of artizans assembled in the streets of Paris, and said: "We will have our mouvement; we have shed our blood for you; but where is the 344 benefit for us?" But their assemblage only increased the evils of which they complained; for if there was want of employment before, it was not likely it would be removed by agitation and excitement; and in fact it was augmented till that excitement had ceased. In the same manner, the remedy for the evils of Ireland could not be found but in the improvement of the condition of the people, by an increased demand for labour; and that improvement could only be gradually introduced, by furnishing the means of employing labour, by increased confidence, and an increased feeling of security among the people at large. Emigration alone, unless effected to an extent which he could not possibly anticipate, would have no such result. He believed that the course now pursued by some of the Irish Members would prevent all these advantages. If the wish of those hon. Gentlemen was granted, he believed that the ruin of the country would be consummated; and if it was true that we now stood on the brink of a volcano, he could foresee, quite clearly, that the prime agitator—the leader of the party—and those who implicitly followed him, would be, by the necessary consequences of their own act, precipitated into its crater. There was one hon. Gentleman, who had long sat in that House, but who was now, unhappily, not a Member of it, whose opinion he had consulted, and who had furnished him, at his desire, with some details to prove what was the real state of Ireland with respect to trade and agriculture. That right hon. Gentleman—he meant Sir Henry Parnell—had furnished him with the paper which he now held in his hand. It was drawn up by that right hon. Gentleman, and appended to a petition presented by him to the Grand Jury of the Queen's County—of that County that enjoyed numerous benefits, of which that right hon. Gentleman had been the author, but who, because he would not truckle to the popular delusion of the day, was, at a moment when the deepest interests to the country were at stake, rejected by them, and they found themselves with a Repealer in his stead. The right hon. Gentleman had furnished him with a statement, showing the relative exports and imports of the three years before 1800, and the three years before 1826. The paper showed the rate at which the increase of national wealth had gone on. The average imports, 345 in the three years previous to 1800, amounted to 4,790,000l.; in the three years previous to 1826 they had increased to 7,491,000l. The articles, by the exportation of which the agriculture of Ireland was benefitted, had also greatly increased in amount in the three years preceding 1826. The number of oxen exported in the three years before 1800, amounted to 14,105; in the three years before 1826, they amounted to 57,000. A similar increase had taken place in the number of sheep and swine, in bacon and ham, and in wheat and flour. In the last article, the quantity exported, in the three years before 1800, amounted to 24,077 qrs.; in the three years before 1826, it reached 375,781 qrs. The quantity of oats and oatmeal, in the three years before 1800, amounted to 320,474 qrs.; in the three years before 1826, to 1,301,182 qrs. He would proceed no further with these details; but he believed that the only practical relief to Ireland would be in nourishing these streams of wealth; and that as time flowed on they would increase in extent, till they covered and fertilized the land; and believing this, he could not but ask himself, what must be the object of those men who clamoured for that which, if granted, he was firmly convinced would prevent all these beneficial consequences? Did they believe, that if the Union were repealed, the Corntrade to this country would be any longer suffered to continue open—that the present system of the importation of Irish produce and manufactures would be tolerated—a system which was now borne at a great sacrifice by the landed interests of this country, and which was submitted to only on account of the general good? If these advantages—and they were great advantages for Ireland—were destroyed, what must follow but a disorganization of society; and these poor deluded creatures, who it was now said, were dying in ditches, would find their miserable number fearfully increased, and would come to seek a dreadful retribution on these gentlemen agitators. His reason for being willing to support the proposition for coercion, was to be found in those cases of violations of law put forth not by the Ministers, but by those who opposed the Address. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had talked of absenteeism as an evil. If so, were not that hon. and learned Member's thousand men—he hoped they were only "men in buckram"—more likely to drive 346 capital and men from the country, than to attract them to it, especially when it appeared that no age nor sex was safe there—that at least was the assertions of those hon. Members, not of himself; but there could be no doubt that every one of the evils they had described would follow, if the mea sure they recommended was adopted. That measure he should entirely disapprove, if it only occasioned those evils which had been so ably and eloquently described in the Statesmanlike speech of the hon. and learned member for Leeds. That hon. Member had proved—and there had been no attempt to disprove it—that its effect on this country would be most injurious; and even if there were no other ground—and, unhappily, there were many others most important to Ireland itself—he should, for one, feel bound to resist it.
§ Mr. Cobbett
If the doctrine of the hon. Gentleman who has last spoken be good, then there is no remedy at all for Ireland; and it would be as well to say at once, that a military dictation should take place, and Ireland be ruled in that manner. Why, however, in that case, such a fuss about parting with Ireland? If it be good for nothing, why not let it go? If she be the poor and worthless thing that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tancred) has described her, why not leave her to herself? You are monstrous loath to part with her. However, the hon. Gentleman has fallen into a great error. He has followed the steps of the hon. member for Knares-borough: but, besides this, he comes to us piping hot from the lectures of Sir Henry Parnoll. The schoolmaster is abroad—abroad he is indeed—but, now, it seems, he is at home—and has been the tutor of the hon. Gentleman on the floor. There never was a falser doctrine in the world than that held up to us by the hon. Member. He assumes, that, because Ireland has exported more since the Union than before it, that therefore, in that same proportion, Ireland is more prosperous than before the Union; and the right hon. Secretary, taking the argument from the hon. member for Knaresborough, availed himself of all the advantage that could be derived from it, and the well-stationed and well-disciplined battalion behind him echoed and cheered what he said. What is the fact then? I lament to say that the hon. Member—[Mr. Cobbett here turned round and said inquiringly, "He is not here."]—I lament to say, that my hon. 347 colleague is not here. He has documents to lay before the House, for the truth of which he is responsible, the truth of which no man can doubt, and which will show, that, in exactly the same proportion that the trade of Manchester increased, in the same proportion have the profits of the manufacturers, the wages of the labourer, and the comforts of the labourer decreased; and which will prove, that in these times of great prosperity, of which the hon. member for Leeds has spoken—there are at least 10,000 persons in Leeds not getting so much as 3d. a-day. [Mr. Macaulay: I never said one word about prosperity.] The hon. Member said, that he had the honour of being the Representative of a very prosperous community. He is the Representative of Leeds; and was not that saying, that that town was in a state of "great prosperity?" [Mr. Macaulay assented.] Now, I will pledge myself to prove, that there are 10,000 persons in that town who do not get 3d. a-day. My hon. colleague will bring the proofs which he has himself collected, and he will prove, that, at the peace, when there was a tolerable degree of prosperity, and the labouring people were doing pretty well, the importation of cotton (a third of what it is now)—the importation of cotton into Lancashire, or, may be, Manchester, (no matter for the argument) was then 6,000 bags a-week. Then the people were well off. When it came to 11,000 bags, which is nearly double, profits fell to one-half, and wages fell also; and when it became 20,000 per week, as it is now, he will bring you an account of 50,000 persons and in full work—of 50,000 persons in one district which he personally examined, he himself being a great manufacturer—my hon. colleague will bring you an account which he can verify on oath, of 50,000 persons in that district living on less than 2½d. a day, and they in full work at the same time; so that the hon. Member must now draw conclusions hastily, that because trade has increased, happiness has increased also. He should not draw conclusions of that sort, for if he do not remember the fact I do, that there was a time when the minister of the parish, attended by the churchwardens and overseers, (and to stimulate our charity) came with the tax-gatherer at their back, and my answer was, that I had no charity for Irish landlords—for I knew that they would get it 348 after all. That was a time when there were 22,000 tons of oats brought from Galway, lying in the Thames, to be eaten by the horses of absentees, while from that same Galway we had an account of men dying from starvation. Well, then, these notions of the hon. Member are fallacious—they will not do. It must be humiliating for him to find himself so mistaken—but it must be still more humiliating after his opinions have been cheered with such exultation. "Aye, aye," said the right hon. Secretary, "there's proof of the false charges against the Union—he is a practical gentleman he knows and understands what he says;" and in that way the thing went on most triumphantly for the time. Another error of the hon. member for Knaresborough, which, if he had been attended to (but his moving from one part of the floor to the other prevented that), I should not have to answer, for the hon. Gentleman completely answered himself. That is a satisfactory way of arguing—rubbing out as you go. He said, that the real remedy was not the Repeal of the Union. I have not said one word upon the Repeal of the Union, for I do not know much about it at present, and it is a rule with me not to talk about a matter till I have had time to consider it, and till I think I understand it. The hon. Member said, the Repeal of the Union was not the remedy, but that the introduction of Poor-laws was—[Mr. Richards: "One"]—well, one of the remedies. Now, in the opening of the hon. Member's speech, was a complaint that the Ministers had not mentioned the distressed state of the working people of this country. The hon. Member referred to the noble Lord who moved the Address, and he said that the hon. member for Dublin had been accused of the crime of commission, and that he accused Ministers of the crime of omission—a monstrous omission—that they did not state the distress existing in England, forgetting all the while that there were Poor-laws in England The hon. Member forgot this while he was calling for this remedy for the sufferings of Ireland! The motives of the hon. member for Knaresborough were, I am to presume, very good; but he had not thought enough about the matter; he was swimming on the surface of the subject; and, at his and my age, we ought to take a dip into the stream of knowledge. We have had this subject discussed so 349 often, that the real Motion now before the House seems to have been forgotten.We have talked about it, and about it, 'Till e'en believers seem to doubt it.I remember something that was said by the hon. Secretary for Ireland that pleased me exceedingly. He has given a criterion of the right of resistance—a criterion that I shall examine by and by—and it shows that a man should not be too confident in what he says, nor too hasty in pledging himself to anything. There is danger in it. A man should not say, "This is right, and that is right, and I will stand by it." I remember what once fell from the right hon. Secretary, for I admired it for the manner, but not for the matter. I dissented from the matter, and I said so at the time, and I am afraid he has not forgiven me for it from that day to this. The hon. member for Middlesex, then member for Aberdeen, made a proposition for curtailing the Church incomes in Ireland. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and a great authority, the present Lord Chancellor for Ireland, both laid it down as indubitable law, that Parliament had no more right to deal with the property of the Church than with the property of any private individual. I appeal to the parliamentary reports upon this point; they will bear me out, and I speak in the presence of 300 or 400 Gentlemen who must recollect that what I say is true. Yet the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who made that declaration, who was so positive upon the subject, has before brought in a Bill or two, and has now told us he has taken credit for his intention, and has called upon us to arm him with powers for the purpose, that he means to bring in bills that will actually shake the Church all to pieces. He has found out, therefore, that Parliament has a right to deal with the property of the Church—that it is public and not private property. I do not charge him with anything wrong in this change of opinion: I only state the fact that he has found out that Church property is public property altogether. An hon. Gentleman on the back bench, I do not know for what place he sits, seems not to know how to distinguish between the two—it was private property, and yet it was public property. It was necessary, he said, to touch it, and yet to touch it would be spoliation, and the hon. member for Middlesex said much about the same 350 thing. I do not call taking that which I have a right to take spoliation, and the question is—has Parliament a right to deal with Church property as it pleases, or has it not? it did once, I know, deal with the whole of it; it took it from one set of men to give it to another set; it took away Tavistock and Woburn-abbey from the Catholic clergy to give them to the Duke of Bedford; and, if it could do that, can it not now take away parochial, and Dean and Chaper property, which stand upon a foundation very different from that of Woburn? I speak of Church property generally. It is quite clear that there is no spoliation in the case. Some contend that it is not spoliation if you only go to a certain extent; but what is that length, and where are we to begin, and where to end? The hon. Baronet, the member for Oxford, was quite right for his purpose, in saying, that Parliament had no right to meddle with it at all, and that it was spoliation; but on this point, although on no other, I am able to cope with the hon. Baronet, and I insist, and will prove, that it is the nation's property—that we have a right to do with it as we like—and that we are bound to do with it as may be best for those we represent. A great deal depends upon the term spoliation. Stigmatise it with the name of spoliation, and you gain much; but I defy the most impudent of mankind to bring forward anything more impudent in his whole career than to say this; "Do what you will with it—make it what you will, public or private, clerical or unclerical, but we will leave it all still in the families that have got possession of it. Gentlemen should, however, be told a tale they perhaps were never told before (for we come here to speak in plain terms, not to lard one another with flattery, whether high or low); that nothing is clearer than that Church property is public property, and nothing is clearer than that it is unjustly possessed by the aristocracy of the kingdom. Not above forty families hold all the Church property of Ireland; and I ask whether it is the interest of the Gentlemen of England to have their estates mulcted to the extent of two millions sterling, according to the calculation of the member for Middlesex, to maintain an army of soldiers to compel the payment of tithes to forty families? Does religion demand it? Does the religion of Jesus Christ demand it? No; it does not. I am, and always have been for 351 what some may call complete spoliation. In 1829, the member for Surrey presented a petition from me, praying that that which ought to be done might be done. If Gentlemen have sufficient leisure, I advise them to read that petition—and many a time have they turned with haughty disdain from that to which they have been compelled to listen at last—it was presented in May, 1829, and all the while the Catholic Relief Bill was passing I was exerting myself, as far as my humble means would allow, to ensure its success; but, at the same time, I was exhorting the right hon. Baronet, not to do the thing by halves, but at once to put down the Protestant Hierarchy in Ireland. I told him that there never would otherwise be peace for Ireland, and that the same scenes would be repeated after, as had occurred before emancipation. I insisted that there must be an end put to the hierarchy in some way or other, and that until an end was put to it, peace there never could be in that distracted, indignant, and justly indignant country. I now come to the pleasing part of my task. In these troublesome times, when some refuse to pay taxes, and others talk of resisting this and that, it is extremely desirable to have a criterion or standard of the right of resistance. It has been given to us, and I thank him for it, by the Secretary for Ireland. I read Blackstone with great attention, to see how far we might safely go, and I went over Locke and Coke, and some others, and even back to Fortescue for the same purpose. Blackstone leaves the matter doubtful; but the Secretary for Ireland has cleared up the doubt; he has afforded us a certain standard of the right of resistance, and as if his authority were not sufficient, we have the high confirmation of the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Macaulay), as well as that of the noble member for Devonshire. They have told us that if any state of things arise here, similar to that in America in the year 1776 then we have a right to resist, and not before. Let us see how this applies to the case of Ireland. I hope it is not treason yet—although the Secretary for Ireland, or the member for Leeds, called the American a holy cause. They said that the Americans resisted, and that they had a right to resist, and they almost added that they rejoiced in the resistance and in its success. I never went so far as that. I have been called Republican, 352 Radical, Jacobin, Leveller. In the regular way of promotion I have gone through every stage—but never in my life did any man hear me praise Washington for that act of rebellion against his King. I would not have done it; and, least of all, if I had been the servant of the son of that King. But to return—the Secretary asserted that the Americans had a right to resist; let us see then what it was they resisted. The Secretary was mistaken; he thought the Americans demanded to be represented in the British House of Commons. They knew a great deal better. They never demanded any such thing; they never would have listened to any such proposition. They demanded their own Legislature, and the accusation against the Sovereign was, that he had attempted to interfere with the proceedings of their own Legislature. Now, Gentlemen of Ireland, let me have a word with you. I do not tell you to rebel, although the Secretary for Ireland praised rebellion, and said that it was lawful. I beseech you not to rebel, [order.] Why am I called to order? Is it disorderly in these times to beseech the people of Ireland not to rebel? Enough has been done, perhaps, to cause rebellion; but I entreat them never to rebel—never to suffer the devil to tempt them to think about rebellion, until they find some grievances like those the Americans complained of. How do I know what they complained of? Here is their declaration of independence: here is cause shown for their rebellion, and that cause has been declared by the Secretary sufficient. It was written by Jefferson and Maddison together, and it was signed by them, by Washington, and the rest. [Mr. Stanley—Washington did not sign it.] Well, that is a matter of no importance. It is a wonderful error, which, I suppose, is to invalidate all I have to say. It is so fatal an error, that my argument, founded upon the declaration, is to be good for nothing, although it is not of the slightest consequence to my argument. This is what the Americans complained of: "That the King of England has called together legislative bodies at places uncomfortable and distant from their residences." That is one charge, and this is another: "That the King of England has made judges dependent upon his will alone for the tenure of their offices, and for the amount and payment of their salaries."—I do not speak of the Judges, 353 but how far this is the case with the Justices of the Peace in Ireland, I cannot say. The Americans go on to complain, "That he has erected a multitude of new officers, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass the people, and to eat out their substance." Whether such is the case in Ireland—whether any people have been sent there to eat out the substance of the people, I will not take upon me to decide. The next accusation is, "That he has kept upon us standing armies without the consent of our own legislative bodies." Whether this applies now I know not, but at all events what follows will not fit: "That he has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power." They have not affected that in Ireland; it is not affectation there. The Americans proceed: "He has combined with others" (meaning the two Houses of Parliament; and, what impudent dogs they must have been) "to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our usages and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation." The next charge goes even further; "That he has quartered large bodies of soldiers among us without consent." This ground of complaint I hope never can apply to Ireland. I trust that there is not a shadow of ground for applying to our present, this charge against a former, Sovereign. Then we come to the following: "For protecting the troops by mock trials from punishment for any murders committed on the innocent inhabitants." Let the right hon. Secretary for Ireland think of this! Let Irish gentlemen think of this! It is a short sentence but conclusive, and it speaks to us as with a voice from above: "For depriving us in many cases of the benefit of trial by Jury." Let us reflect that this justified resistance in the case of America according to the opinions of members of his Majesty's servants; but be it remembered also, that I never went so far in my life. That I never justified the Americans in taking up arms against their lawful Sovereign, whom for many years we called "the best of kings." In the conclusion of the declaration they apply to him an opprobrious name, which I will not repeat out of respect to his present Majesty and his family; and they wind up all their grounds of resistance by saying, that he had even endeavoured to deprive them of the benefit of the Trial by Jury. I pray you, then, Gentlemen, let 354 us not attempt to deprive our Irish fellow-subjects of the Trial by Jury, and thus afford them a lawful cause for open resistance. It has been several times put to the Irish Secretary, and to other members of the Cabinet, what they meant to do; and they have been asked, why they did not tell the House what was in contemplation? Ministers first demand the power of putting a halter round the neck, and then, perhaps, they may condescend to let us know what it is for. They never have whispered their intentions; and an hon. Gentleman said, last night, that it was quite prudent that they should keep the secret to themselves: he would contend that it was quite prudent to deprive the Americans of the trial by Jury, but not quite prudent to tell us what they meant to do to prevent the recurrence of similar calamities. Upon their own showing, Ireland is always to be thus. More and more power will be wanted, heavier and heavier punishments will be inflicted. Gentlemen on the opposite side have said, that there will be a concurrence of redress, and what they mean, I suppose, is, that redress should go hand-in-hand with coercion. It is impossible—the two things never can go together—there never can be any such concurrence. For my part, I should not wonder if orders had been already given, and if the masons and blacksmiths were already at work to prepare dungeons for the guiltless and unfortunate intended victims. I do not say that it is so, but that I should not wonder if it were; and I know that in 1817, the rapidity in this respect was so great, that people were astonished that so many were so quickly prepared. It would, at most, only occupy about eight-and-forty hours. Let me ask, then, is it to be the first act of this Reformed Parliament to pass a Castlereagh and Sidmouth measure? I trust to God it is not; but I trust, too, if it be to be carried by any means such as I will not express, that there will be men enough to resist the project—to oppose the intentions of Ministers, and to show the people of England, and the people of Ireland especially, that hope is not yet quite shut out, and that they ought to rally at the backs of those who have struggled for the preservation of their freedom. I said that I would not trouble the House long, and I will only occupy its attention for a few minutes longer. Perhaps what I have to say may not be very pleasing to some, but 355 I must make an observation upon the eulogium passed upon Lord Grey—for his generosity towards the Roman Catholics—for his zeal in their cause, and his sacrifices. If it were decorous for a Minister of the King to boast of his generosity in doing that which was absolutely necessary for the preservation of the peace of the country, I know that the boast belongs to somebody else, whose name has been rubbed from the corners of the streets, and another put up in its place. He did his duty, and has no right to praise. But Lord Grey—how did he do his duty? There are several young Gentlemen in the House who cannot recollect so far back, and who, I dare say, have been carried away by this boldness of statement. The hon. member for Leeds said, that for himself he could claim no merit; but what did Lord Grey do to deserve the gratitude of the people of Ireland? As nobody else will answer the question, I will—I will tell you what he did. First, he was serviceable to the Catholics, or would have been if he could, in preventing the Legislative Union in 1799; he was their friend—he deprecated that measure, and took all possible pains to decry it, and to put the people of Ireland out of conceit of it. He was, it is said, the friend of the Catholics in 1807; that was his great exploit; and let us see, then, the extent of his generosity. Now you shall have a true picture of what a Whig is—of what he is. Remember I do not hatch this term for use; it was employed by the member for Leeds, who said that a Whig Ministry had done so much for the Catholics of Ireland. Now, the Whigs were in power in 1806, and continued so until 1807, and they had always been in the habit of making use of the Roman Catholics, and putting them forward as a stalking-horse, behind which they were to slip into office; yet they would have been content to have sat warm in their places from January, 1806, to February, 1807, without troubling themselves with emancipation, as many were old enough to remember, if they could have done so. But the Roman Catholics reminded them, and worked them pretty constantly with telling them; "We served you at your need—we badgered your opponents—we cried you up and cried them down—and now you must do something for us." Accordingly, at last the Whigs brought in the Roman Catholic Bill. It was not the work of the right hon. 356 Baronet (Sir R. Peel), or of the Duke of Wellington, but of the Whigs—the disinterested, the generous, the magnanimous Whigs. What was done? I wish I had here the two bills that I might compare them; but the Bill of 1807, as compared with the Bill of 1829, was what a pea is to a walnut. It gave to the Roman Catholics scarcely anything worth accepting, and even that was loaded by securities: it was nothing more nor less than a stupid measure—stupid enough for King George the Third to throw it out, and its framers after it. I hate insincerity worse than I hate downright brazen wickedness. I recollect the transactions of that time so well. The Whigs brought in the Bill, and after they had brought it in, they did not seem very willing to push it along, but Parliament compelled them to push it. It was read a first and second time, and every body thought it would be carried and all over in a month. But somebody or other advised George the Third to put a stop to it. He told the Whigs that it should not pass; and what did that Minister who brought it in do? Would I not rather go to plough and dig again, than consent to do what he did! The very Minister who proposed the Bill, in a flowery speech, and enforced its absolute necessity, only thirteen days afterwards withdrew it, and that House, which had cheered the Bill to the skies, had the baseness to permit him. He went out of office to be sure: he could hardly stay in his place after being so degraded; but he would have staid if he could: he wanted to stick to his place. And this Minister was no other than Lord Grey himself. The House may know that there is such a thing as a council-book, and there the Whigs entered that they hoped they should still be permitted to mention to his Majesty anything conducive to the good of the country. "Ha, ha! (said the King) what, what! cannot I get these fellows out?" He told them plainly, that unless they would sign their names in the council-book to a declaration that they would never mention Catholic emancipation again as long as they lived, he would not trust them. The Whigs well knew the consequences of signing it; they thought it better to walk out without giving, under their own hands and seals, a proof of their utter unworthiness, and which they knew would have been followed by their expulsion. They were therefore turned out to the infinite sa- 357 tisfaction of both Catholics and Protestants, from one end of the kingdom to the other. So much for the gratitude due to the Whigs. One word upon the subject of the Church. I am for totally and entirely abrogating, annulling, rendering frustrate, and of no effect, the Protestant hierarchy in Ireland. Nobody can misunderstand me I trust. I do not say so because I shall gain anything by its abolition, or by its continuance. I am no parson to receive tithes—and no Quaker to refuse for conscience sake to pay them; but I know that the putting down of that hierarchy is necessary to the happiness, peace, safety, and renown of this kingdom. It can be endured no longer with security to the kingdom, or to the King's Throne; therefore, as a loyal subject of the King, and a faithful Representative of the people, I declare my opinion against it. Look at the history of the Church, and in it you read all the great calamities of the country. This Church has created the national debt; it was incurred for the sake of the Church. It was the cause of the detestable, execrable, and accursed Septennial Bill; to uphold it the ruinous French war was undertaken; in short, to maintain it, as is proved by deeds and Acts of Parliament, one King was brought to the block, and another driven from the Throne. What it is destined next to effect I leave Gentlemen to determine; but I cannot sit down without expressing my gratitude to the House for the great attention I have received.
§ Mr. Finn
did not intend to trouble the House, but after the allusions which had been made to the intentions of Ministers, he must protest warmly against the abolition of the Trial by Jury in Ireland which could only be intended to stifle public discussion. Hon. Members, when they talked of a Repeal of the Union, seemed to regard it as a matter wholly visionary. He remembered a conversation which he had with a friend a short time before he left Ireland, in the course of which that Gentleman said to him, how could his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin, expect that, in bringing forward a motion for the Repeal of the Union, he should find one man in that House to second him? How did the fact now stand? Were there not at the present moment as many as forty or fifty decided repealers in the House? And was it not equally true, that there were six-and-twenty more who were pledged to that 358 measure conditionally—who stood pledged, that if Government did not in the present Session—nay, very speedily—bring forward some measures calculated to redress the grievances of which the Irish people had just reason to complain, they would cordially support any proposition having that object in view? If that was a state of things to be regretted, the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had but to thank themselves for it; and, perhaps, in an unusual degree, their thanks were due to the right hon. Gentleman who filled the office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—a Gentleman who, from his position in the Government, had often many ungracious things to do, but, it so happened, possessed a singular facility of doing them in the most ungracious manner—and he had also eminently succeeded in rendering himself unpopular with both parties. But it was not matters of such small importance which had made the cry of repeal resound from one end of the island to the other, and which had placed the Government in this inconvenient position. If they sought to satisfy Ireland, they must have announced their readiness to touch the Church, and that announcement must instantly have led to their being opposed by 140 Tories within those walls. They had, however, made the announcement, but neither the announcement itself, nor the other communications with which it was accompanied, would satisfy the people of Ireland, or stifle for a moment the cry of repeal. But in meeting that cry, how did hon. Gentlemen on the other side act?—They confined themselves to taunting his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin, with not having brought the question under the consideration of the House, or of giving a notice upon the subject. He could tell them the reason why the question of repeal had not yet been brought forward. They had been told that a Reformed House of Commons would redress the wrongs of Ireland, and put an end to the system according to which the great body of the people paid a million a year for the maintenance of a church from which they derived no advantage. In fact, if Ministers expected to do any good with Ireland, they must touch the Church property, for nothing else would satisfy the people; and the moment they did that, they would lose the support of the 140 Tories who were Members of that House. The repealers had 359 been repeatedly asked, in the course of the present debate, why they had not brought forward openly the question of repeal? He would tell them why; because they wanted and expected justice without repeal. Let them give redress to Ireland; let them get rid of the Vestry Acts; let them abolish the tithes, and appropriate the million acres of land which were held in that country by the clergy for teaching the people what they had no need to learn, and then the question of the repeal would be settled. While upon the subject of the Church, he could not help adverting to the fact that so large a proportion of the good things of that establishment had fallen into the hands of the present "head of his Majesty's Government; or, rather, he should say, had been placed at his disposal; for example, it had so happened that 20,000l. a year in the Irish church had fallen to the lot of the Premier's brother-in-law, the Bishop of Derry. The relatives of the noble Earl certainly did appear to entertain a great affection for office; and, as it would seem, to manifest upon all occasions a most happy and peculiar aptitude for the public service. True, it might be that they were all, to a man, eminently qualified for the posts they occupied; but was it to maintain officers so largely paid, and sinecurists so richly endowed, that the Irish peasant was to be robbed of the miserable pittance by which little more than life was sustained? It was in such a state of things as this that the executive Government called for fresh powers and for an accession of strength. Did any man, who possessed the slightest acquaintance with Ireland, suppose that any additional power was wanted by the executive for the purpose of maintaining the authority of the law against the poor? No; the object was but too apparent; the object of all these additional powers was nothing more nor less than to enable the executive authority to accomplish that which the persons now intrusted with that authority most earnestly desired, namely—to put down the agitators. As the pretext for effecting that project, they referred to the disorders of which Ireland was now unhappily the scene. He would not shrink from telling the Ministers, however, that unless they wished to fill the dungeons with the people, and thus to prevent them from discussing the evils which they endured, and from demanding redress, they would not cease to complain until 360 they had obtained redress. Let them not therefore be told to be contented in their present condition, for contented they would not be. How were they governed—how were their feelings and their religious peculiarities consulted? Why in some of the counties in Ireland, where there were twenty Catholics to one Protestant, there were three Protestant police-officers to one Catholic; and could it be said, that this was to be attributed to accident, and announced as justice and equal treatment? He could tell the House that those disorders would never cease, so long as the police force in that country was constituted according to the present model—so long as the members of it were one Catholic to three Protestants.
§ Mr. Finn
resumed. The authority upon which he made that statement was Parliamentary Returns laid before the House.
§ Mr. Finn
In the year 1825. He had made the statement from that which he considered to be authentic documents, and he should have been very happy to refer them to more recent information, if any later returns had been made. He could not, however; but it could not be disputed that the police force in Ireland was composed of materials selected in anything but an impartial spirit; and they could never hope to subdue the spirit of discontent in that country so long as that system remained unchanged; neither could an improved condition of the people of Ireland be expected, so long as 5,000,000l. of the substance of the suffering, but most industrious peasantry were wrung from their hard earnings, in order that absentees might reside where they pleased, and live in luxury and profusion. Indisputably the people of Ireland would never rest contented, so long as the absentee system prevailed; and it was equally true, that a native Legislature would not pass a single Session without imposing a heavy absentee tax of twenty-five per cent. or fifty, if it were necessary, for the purpose of bringing home those who were wasting the produce of laborious industry in foreign lands. The absentees took away five millions annually from the people there, and spent it amongst the people of England. He was afraid, from the indications which the present Parliament had 361 given, that they might vainly expect that the absentees would be compelled to do justice to Ireland. Look again at the inadequate manner in which the outrages which were committed on the people had been punished. In the trials for the murders which had been committed in the North of Ireland the Juries invariably acquitted the police; and the Government, though they knew the partiality which dictated these proceedings, refused to change the venue into another county, although they had the power to do so. The country, he contended, would never be at peace, so long as the police force was selected on account of sectarian considerations; for, as matters now stood, the police had a direct interest in promoting discontent and sowing division. To Gentlemen acquainted with Ireland, it must be well known that the magistrates contrived to make the police force a very convenient mode of providing for their natural sons, and it was, therefore, no matter of surprise that the great body of the people of Ireland should place no confidence in a body so constituted, and should declare their determination never to rest contented until that system was thoroughly reformed. It was a grievous error to suppose that the Irish people viewed or could be induced to submit to such a state of things. A distinguished individual had said of the Irish, that they were a people whom it was perfectly easy to lead with a silken thread, but that chains of adamant could not bind them. The hon. member for Leeds had talked of not suffering the member for Dublin to become more than a British subject, but he could tell that hon. Member that he (Mr. Finn) could never be induced to think himself less or lower than the hon. member for Leeds—he owed allegiance to none but to the King upon the Throne; and if he found the House and the other branch of the Parliament fail in the duty which they owed to the Irish people, his submission to their authority should cease. He never should forget the memorable declaration made by Mr. Foster, that in agreeing to the Union the Irish representatives, upon all questions affecting Irish interests, placed themselves in the disadvantageous position of one hundred against five hundred, and that they might be sure that in all such cases, the weakest must go to the wall. They were now in the most imminent danger of a civil war, and the 362 Government of this country would have to contend against fearful odds. The people might be poor, but then let it be remembered that they had nothing to lose. There was great wealth in England, let them not put these possessions in jeopardy. He must forewarn them that they had to contend with a tremendous population—a population of eight millions; and he implored the Ministry not to create an agitation which would bring on all the horrors of civil war—the reaction of which would produce consequences terrible to all. He told them, boldly, to beware how they passed the line: he had read Locke and Blackstone, and knew when passive endurance was at an end, and resistance was justifiable, and ought to begin—and he hoped that such a crisis would not be brought on. He deprecated the application of the Poor Laws to Ireland, for he knew the evils which they had entailed upon England. He begged to know from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, whether any secret service money was paid to the police in Ireland? The hon. Member after thanking the House for the attention with which he had been heard, concluded by again protesting against the employment of coercive measures for Ireland.
§ Lord Ebrington
said it was not his purpose to trespass long on the patience of the House, but having been personally appealed to by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, to explain how he could reconcile his support of the present address with a declaration made by him in the course of the last Session, he hoped the House would bear with him whilst he stated the grounds which induced him to give his vote in favour of the proposed address. If his Majesty's Speech had simply called for power to put an end to those outrages in Ireland (which were admitted on all hands to exist to a frightful extent, and which imperatively required the strong hand of the law to repress), without at the same time holding out any promise of a redress of grievances, he for one should not have been able to give the present Address his support; but when he looked to the words of the Speech with respect to Ireland,—when he found it stated that an inquiry was to be instituted into the state of the Irish church with a view to its reformation, and when he bore in mind the speeches made by his hon. friends below him, and by all those who were connected with Government,—when 363 he found that every one of them bad promised that a full inquiry into the grievances which the Irish people suffered should be gone into, he certainly did not consider that he should be acting inconsistently with the declaration he made in the last Session of Parliament, if in giving the Government that confidence which he thought they had well earned from the present House of Commons, at least by their former acts, he did not attempt to forestal them by attempting to bring forward any measure of his own for a reform of the Church. He had certainly said, that if the subject was not taken up by any other person, he would endeavour to bring in some measure for that purpose, and conscious as he was of his own inability to grapple with a subject of such magnitude, he still should have been prepared to the best of his power to redeem that pledge, had he not found in the King's Speech, and in the reiterated declarations of the King's Ministers, an assurance that the subject would be taken up by them. He, therefore, thought, that if he had desired most effectually to mar the object in view, and throw obstacles in the way of its consummation, he could not have followed a better plan than by interposing with a motion of his own. What was it that his Majesty's Ministers asked of the House? Did they ask the House to give its assent to any specific measure of coercion; or to any specific measure of reform? Did they not rather ask the House to give them credit for an intention to bring forward a measure of reform with regard to the Church of Ireland merely until Tuesday next, when the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had declared that he should be prepared to explain what that measure should be, and at the same time would call upon the House, if he should succeed in proving to the House that he had sufficient cause for demanding further powers to repress the outrages in Ireland, to strengthen the hands of Government by those powers? This, he thought, was not calling on the House to pledge themselves to any unreasonable extent, and he could only say, that if a similar declaration had been made, even by Ministers, who had not the claim which the present Government had upon the confidence of this Reformed House, he for one should not, in the present state of Ireland, object to wait a few days before he refused them his confidence. Many complaints had been 364 made, and in his mind very unreasonably, of the neglect of the representations and grievances of the Irish people in the British House of Commons. This complaint appeared to him somewhat singular, when he recollected the quantity of time that had been occupied in the course of the last three or four Sessions of Parliament in discussing the affairs of Ireland; and when he recollected even in the last Session of Parliament, engrossed as its attention was by the all-engrossing measure of Reform, how much time was then devoted to the consideration of questions relating to that country. But when Gentlemen talked of the grievances of Ireland, he must say, that it appeared to him that a very great portion of those grievances arose from sources over which the Legislature had no control. Could any legal remedies be found to prevent—he would not say English proprietors of lands in Ireland, but Irish proprietors, from absenting themselves from their domains? Was it in the power of legislation to compel men to reside upon their estates, or to expend money upon the improvement of them? The want of such an expenditure of capital was the great evil of Ireland. When there was so great a competition for land as existed in Ireland, was there any code of law, save that fanciful code of law proposed by Dr. M'Niven previous to his departure for America, which could save that country from all the evils attendant upon a peasantry of paupers? He was surprised to hear the eulogy which an hon. Member had passed upon that individual; but, leaving the justice of it out of consideration, all that he meant now to say of Dr. M'Niven was, that he had proposed to fix a maximum of rent in Ireland. Now, if the amount of rent could be limited by legislation, which he was afraid it could not, then might the condition of the poor occupiers of land in Ireland be materially ameliorated; but as long as the demand for land continued, so long would high rents exist, and the evils of Ireland be as great as they were now. The present question appeared to him to be argued by the Representatives of Ireland as if these coercive powers were demanded by Government for the purpose of levying tithes for the support of the Protestant clergy. He could not agree with them in that view of the subject. Was there no other object for which they might be demanded? Had they never heard of such 365 things as the Whitefeet outrages? Had not the hon. member for Waterford, at the very moment that he told them that his part of Ireland was in a state of comparative tranquillity, considering what had been its former condition—had not the hon. Member, he asked, told them that his estate was threatened to be made a scene of burning and desolation if he did not consent to discharge from it a steward, whose only crime was being a Scotchman? Had not other hon. Members from Ireland admitted to them that bloodshed and murder were daily occurring around them, totally unconnected with the levying of tithes? Such being the case, would any man be hardy enough to say that it was not necessary for the safety of the country, for the existence of social order, and for the security of life and property, that measures should be adopted to redress such outrages? The House had been told by several of the hon. Members on the other side, that the sole cause of all the disorders of Ireland was the denial of justice. He had listened with great attention to the debate, in the hope of hearing what measures those hon. Members intended to propose for the remedy of such a grievance. Hitherto he had listened in vain; but he still hoped to hear what those measures were, inasmuch as they might form some guide to direct the judgment of his right hon. friend below him. Of this he was sure, that as the grievances which had been stated to the House had not, even according to the statements of the Gentlemen who supported the Repeal of the Union, proceeded from the Union, so neither would a full and efficient remedy for those grievances, even according to the statements of the same persons, be found in a Repeal of the Union. On that subject he had, in the last Session of Parliament expressed his sentiments at some length. He had not altered his opinions since that time. He had then stated that feeling as he did the greatest horror at the idea of civil war, still if he were compelled to choose between the alternative of civil war, or of the dismemberment of the British empire, he would avow that, as a subject of the British Empire, he should prefer civil war. He considered the Repeal of the Union to be a virtual dismemberment of the British Empire, which would involve Ireland in ruin, in the first instance, and would afterwards involve England in the same calamities. He would go further 366 —he would say, that if he had to make a choice between such a connexion with this country as could be maintained by Ireland having such a separate legislature as the hon. Gentlemen opposite contended for, and a total and entire separation of England from Ireland, he would not hesitate to prefer the latter. In saying that, he did not intend to say anything disrespectful of those who took a different view of the subject. They had expressed their opinions as they had a right to express them; but one hon. Gentleman had held out to the House an intimation that civil war might be the consequence of our opposing the proposition of repeal. He felt it his duty to meet that intimation at once, and he would say—
§ Mr. Finn
(interrupting the noble Lord), I did not intend to convey to the House any such meaning as the noble Lord has attributed to me, and my hon. friends near me tell me that my words did not convey that meaning. I only conceived a possible case, in which, if Government proceeded with their measures to a certain extent, they might produce the lamentable result of resistance.
§ Lord Ebrington
was satisfied with the explanation of the hon. Member, and hoped that the hon. Member would acquit him of intentional misrepresentation. He rejoiced that His Majesty's Speech did call upon the House for a decided opinion upon the question of the Repeal of the Union. That point was the only point on which the House was pledged in the Address, and he had no doubt that the House would willingly declare its determination to maintain the Legislative Union between the two countries, and thereby to protect from dismemberment the integrity of the British Empire.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, as this was the third night of the debate upon the Address in answer to the King's Speech, he hoped he might congratulate the House on its now approaching the close of the debate. ["No," from Mr. O'Connell]. Well, then, if the hon. and learned Member denied that they were even approaching it, then there was no alternative but to admit that they were either going back or beating time, and making no progress whatever. He (Sir Robert Peel) should be unwilling to let this discussion come to a termination without making a few observations on some of the principal topics contained 367 in the Speech put into his Majesty's mouth by his Ministers. That Speech adverted to many topics of great importance. He thought that Ministers had wisely conformed to long established usage by forbearing to enter, in that Speech, into any minute details. He thought that they had wisely forborne from imitating the example of the American President, and from entering into lengthened disquisitions on public affairs, not because he did not think that full information should be given to the British Parliament on ail topics of public importance, but because he thought that, on all topics on which information was to be given, it should be more minute and accurate than it possibly could be in a Speech delivered from the Throne. He did not wish to have their debates fettered by an expression of opinion from the Crown, and he deemed it more constitutional that Parliament should have its attention directed in general terms to public measures, than that it should receive a commentary from authority indicating the views and intentions of the Government. He thought it most important that the House should at length approach to some measure of practical legislation, and that it should consume as little more time as possible in mere debate. If the public did expect so much as Gentlemen stated from a Reformed Parliament, he apprehended that they expected something better than lengthened harangues which led to nothing. In the observations which he was about to make, he should not advert either to the charter of the Bank of England or to that of the East-India Company, although mention was made of them in the Speech, He should avoid all topics contained in it except those which were the proper and immediate objects of discussion—namely, those upon which the House was called on to pronounce either a qualified or a positive opinion. He was aware of the altered position in which he then stood before the House. He had been accustomed to address it, sometimes backed by powerful majorities, at other times supported by very large minorities. He had recently heard it made matter of boast that the Reform Bill had extinguished in that House the party to which he had the honour to belong. That might be; he would neither admit it nor gainsay it; but would leave individuals to the enjoyment they could derive from the 368 boast. He had, however, such confidence in the justice of the majority, that, though he should not attempt to conciliate its favour by adopting its opinions, or by abandoning one particle of his own, he was certain that he should meet, if not with its acquiescence, at least with an indulgent hearing. The subjects on which he felt himself called that evening to pronounce either a modified or a decided opinion, were three in number. They related to Reform in the Church, to measures connected with the restoration of tranquillity and the repression of disorder in Ireland, and to those which might be necessary to maintain inviolate the Legislative Union between England and Ireland. Those were the three topics to which he felt himself bound to confine his observations. With respect to the first of them, he was called upon to assure his Majesty, "that the attention of the House would be directed to the state of the Church, and that it would be ready to consider what remedies might be applied for the correction of acknowledged abuses, and whether the revenues of the Church might not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution." Now, if his. Majesty's Government, acting of course with the authority of his Majesty, deemed it incumbent to propose measures of which the professed object was to improve the stability of the Established Church, he could not refuse to enter into the consideration of them: and when they called upon him to accompany that consideration "with a due regard to the security of the Church as established by law in these realms, and to the true interests of religion," he inferred, at least he entertained a hope, that the interests, the rights, and the privileges of the Church were intended to be maintained in full vigour. Whether he should hereafter, when he saw those measures, consider that those interests, those rights, and those privileges, were so maintained, was a point on which he reserved to himself the full and entire right of judging, unfettered in the slightest degree by his present qualified acquiescence in the Address. He abandoned nothing of his discretion as a legislator; and in giving his assent to this part of the Address, his intention was to protect the interests of the Church of England, not merely because he considered that, by endangering the rights and privileges of that Church other 369 rights and privileges would be endangered, but also because he considered that in the maintenance of them much higher interests—the interests of truth, of morality, and pure religion—were involved. With respect to the Church of Ireland—for he should make his comments with unreserve—he thought that the terms used both in the Speech and in the Address were vague and indefinite. He did not exactly understand the meaning of the words applied in the Speech to the Church of Ireland. It was stated, that "although the Established Church of Ireland was by law permanently united with that of England, the peculiarities of their respective circumstances required a separate consideration." Now, the words, "separate consideration" were those to which he objected; he did not know what was meant by them. If the expression purported that there were peculiarities in the circumstances of the Church of Ireland which demanded the application of a separate principle to them, he viewed such a declaration with horror. But the expression might merely mean that the Government meant to legislate, for the Church of Ireland by separate enactments, in principle the same with those to be applied to the Church of England, but modified in mere details to the local and peculiar circumstances of Ireland. Having himself assented to a Tithe Composition Bill in Ireland, when no such Bill was introduced for England—having also assented to several other measures of ecclesiastical polity for Ireland, which did not apply to England, it was impossible for him to deny the proposition that there might be peculiarities in the condition of the Church in the two countries, which might require separate legislation. He could not fail, however, to insist that the title of the Church of Ireland to its property and its privileges was the same as that of the Church of England. There might be a different distribution of the Church property, for the benefit of religion; but there never should be, with his consent, a perversion of Church property from its original uses. He hoped, therefore, that those who asked him to join in this Address did not mean to sanction the application of a different principle to the Church of England, and to that of Ireland. What that principle might be he could not tell; but if it were such as was stated by the hon. Gentle- 370 man near him, he would not only say that he could not agree to it, but that he would resist it to the utmost. I see (continued Sir Robert Peel) the right hon. Secretary for Ireland before me ["Hear" from Mr. O'Connell and Members in his neighbour hood]—I say, I see the right hon. Secretary for Ireland—I am afraid of saying what I think of the conduct of that right hon. Gentleman; for, however impartial my testimony as a public man may be, I am afraid that, from the attacks so incessantly repeated, in order to depreciate the character of that right hon. Gentleman, my testimony might only increase the efforts which are made to ruin his reputation. Mine, however, is the independent testimony of an independent public man, and I only withhold the eulogy which I should otherwise bestow as his due upon the right hon. Gentleman, lest it should increase the numbers of his enemies. I have heard the right hon. Secretary often taunted with his aristocratical bearing and demeanour. I rather think that I should hear fewer complaints on that head, if the right hon. Gentleman were a less powerful opponent in debate." The right hon. Baronet continued. He saw the right hon. Secretary holding place in the Councils of his Majesty—he recollected the Report of last Session on the subject of Irish tithes, of which the right hon. Gentleman was the author—he recollected that though the right hon. Gentleman thought that a different distribution of the Church property was advisable to supply increased spiritual instruction to the people of Ireland, the right hon. Secretary had said—at least he (Sir Robert Peel) remained under that impression—that he never would consent to the application of the Church property of Ireland to any but ecclesiastical purposes connected with the interests of that Church. Whether such was still the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman he could not say; all he knew was, that it was his own opinion. It might not perhaps be the opinion of the majority of that House, but it was his opinion, grounded on the belief that if long possession, and the prescription of more than three centuries, was not powerful enough to protect the property of the Church of Ireland from spoliation, there would be little safety for private property of any description, and still less for that description of public property which was in the hands of lay 371 corporations. So much for the grounds upon which he consented to that part of the Address which related to the Established Church. He must now approach that most afflicting subject, the present state of Ireland, and the measures which were necessary to repress the disorders which disturbed the country. He was asked to consent to measures of salutary precaution, and to intrust to the Government such additional powers as might be found necessary to extinguish confusion, to control and punish the disturbers of the public peace, and to afford protection to life and property in Ireland. Upon this subject he claimed the privilege of being able to form a disinterested and impartial opinion. He had never taunted his Majesty's Ministers for not proposing at an earlier period the measures of coercion which they now demanded. When others said that they ought to have applied for coercive measures he had been no party to the complaint. His language had always been; "Try the ordinary laws; there is great evil in coercive measures. You cannot rely on them for any permanent good, but there is great risk that they will relax the energy of the ordinary law, and that they will widen the breach between the richer classes, for whose protection, and the poorer classes, for whose punishment, they appear to be intended." It had been his duty, on more than one occasion, to propose the Insurrection Act, but he had always had a greater pleasure in proposing the repeal of that Act, or allowing its expiry than he had in receiving the additional powers with which the Act armed Government. Though he had felt the necessity of passing such an Act, he had never expected more from it than a temporary remedy for a single evil. He had always felt an apprehension that it would leave behind it a rankling wound, of which the soreness would long be felt. But thinking, as he did, that the Government had acted wisely in not applying at an earlier period for those strong coercive measures—thinking, as he did, that it was wiser for them to have an accumulation of evidence to negative the insinuation that they would seek extraordinary powers for the promotion of their own selfish ambition—avowing the sentiments which he had done as to the objectionable nature of such extraordinary powers, and, above all, wishing as he did to secure life and property in Ireland under the ordinary 372 law—still he could not refrain from saying that, upon the evidence before the public, there was a strong presumption that such, powers were imperiously required by the emergencies of the State. He could therefore assure his Majesty, that he was ready to consider the case which he had no doubt Ministers would shortly lay before the House, and if the necessity was made out, to grant the additional powers for which they applied. On comparing the evil of permitting the present state of things to continue in Ireland, or rather of conniving, as it were, at its continuance by inactivity in repressing it—on comparing this with the evil of giving new powers to the Executive Government, in order to control the disturbers of the public peace, he thought the former evil preponderated. He trusted that, in the observations he had made, or in the observations he was then going to make, he should not give offence to any of the Irish Gentlemen near him; he did not wish to let fall a single expression calculated to excite an angry or an acrimonious feeling. Though an Englishman, he did not entertain a single feeling that was not friendly to Ireland. In the early part of his life, he had lived for many years in that country, he had received nothing but kindness, and he felt connected with that country by the endearing ties of hospitality and many personal friendships. He considered it, however, the part of a true friend not to mislead the people of Ireland by flattery, but to tell them honestly and candidly the truth. Now, the Gentlemen who objected to the granting of these additional powers said: "You are going to coerce the people of Ireland with severe measures." He would not pay the people of Ireland such a bad compliment as to confound them with those abandoned wretches whom those powers were intended to put down. It had been said by several hon. members for Ireland: "We abominate as much as you do the practices of the Whitefeet." He could not conceive that they could do otherwise, for nothing could be more atrocious than the tyranny which the Whitefeet exercised. It was a tyranny more oppressive to the poor than to the rich. It was not applied to the rich, who could either defend themselves on their estates by barricading their houses, and garrisoning them with parties of soldiers or police, or could quit their estates and reside in safety in some neighbouring town. The real tyranny 373 was exercised upon the poor man, who was anxious to conform to the law, and could not quit his humble residence, but who, for the allegiance and the obedience which he was ready to pay to the law, had a right to ask for protection, at least for his life. That was not an unreasonable request on his part, and if protection be not provided for him under the existing law—if he be not merely exposed to immediate danger, but was also exposed to the nightly fear that the murderer would visit him and his family before morning, he (Sir Robert Peel) did not see how the House could refuse to succour a man suffering from this dreadful species of oppression and tyranny. He had heard from several of the Irish Members strong objections to those laws, but he had also heard from them strong expressions of disgust and indignation at the atrocities they were intended to punish. There could be no doubt of their existence. If any proof were wanted, it might be found in the accounts which had been that day received from Ireland. An old man, who occupied two acres of land, for which he paid a yearly rent of 10l., was called upon by a party of Whitefeet to abandon that land, though it was his only means of existence. He remonstrated with them on the injustice of their demand, and refused to give up his little farm. What was the consequence for not conforming to the arbitrary decree? He was visited with the usual penalty inflicted by the Whitefeet—Death. How could the House tolerate an outrage like that? It was not a solitary case; if it were, there would perhaps be no justification of new laws; for it might be better to permit a case of individual outrage to go unpunished than to suspend the Constitution. But crimes of this nature were on the increase; and if so, how could they reconcile it to the principles of justice to let human beings live without protection under such appalling circumstances? If the right hon. Gentleman's testimony on a former evening should be confirmed by further explanation and evidence, then a case would be made out which would justify the suspension of those forms which were intended for the purposes of justice, but which, if abused, became the height of injustice. On these grounds, he said, that if a necessity were made out, he should agree to the suspension of the ordinary law. He would go even still further—he would express a hope that the 374 new law would be made effectual to its purpose; he trusted that it would not labour under the double fault—first of being a suspension of ordinary law, and next of being ineffectual for its purpose.
He now approached a question of very great importance—the question of the Repeal of the Legislative Union with Ireland. He admitted that, upon that question, he was called on to pronounce, not a modified, but a positive opinion, and for one, he was determined, "to support his Majesty in maintaining, as indissolubly connected with the peace, security, and welfare of his Majesty's dominions, the Legislative Union between the two countries." That was the proposition of the King's Speech; and he had the alternative of affirming that proposition by agreeing to the Address, or of agreeing to the Amendment of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), that if he entertained a strong opinion against his amendment (and he did entertain a very strong one), it was not from any personal feeling against him. He was called upon by the Address to support the Legislative Union of the two countries—that was, he was called upon to support what he considered a fundamental law of the United Kingdom, and he was prepared to give his support to the permanence of that law. The hon. and learned Gentleman, it was true, gave him an alternative—that was, to do nothing at present, but refer the Speech and the Address to a Committee of the whole House. He, for one, wanted no time for previous consideration whether the Union should be supported or not. It was a fundamental law, a solemn compact, that had endured thirty years, and for its maintenance he was prepared at once to vote. If others doubted the policy of maintaining it, why did not they provoke discussion? If the hon. and learned Gentleman was disposed to make the subject a matter of grave discussion—if he wished to have it fully gone into, he should have been ready with a series of resolutions, and have been prepared to show, that by the Legislative Union of the two countries, England had shown great injustice to Ireland, or that the welfare of the latter country rendered the Repeal of that Union imperatively necessary. Some ground of this kind should have been laid before the hon. and learned Gentleman asked 375 the House to go with him into the consideration of the subject. Instead of that, however, what did his proposition amount to? Merely to this—that one Gentleman should replace another in the Chair; that they should go into a Committee of the whole House; but when they got there, would they be any further advanced? It was wished that the Address should be considered by the whole House in Committee. Why, the Address was already before the whole House, and all that they could gain by the form of going into the Committee was, that every Member, instead of being limited to one speech, would have the opportunity of making as many speeches as he pleased. Now he would venture to affirm, and would appeal to the deliberate opinion of the whole people of England to support him—that in whatever other qualities of a deliberative and legislative assembly the Members of that House might be wanting, in the disposition to make speeches they would not be deficient. He must say then, seriously, that that they could gain nothing to forward the object which the hon. and learned Gentleman had in view by going into Committee, and the hon. and learned Gentleman had not shown that any one point could be gained by it. [An Hon. Member: The question would be discussed there.] "Oh yes!" (continued Sir Robert Peel) "and it may be discussed now; and if you want discussion on the real merits of the question of Union, why is it that for two years you have shrunk from discussion, at least within these walls? Why agitate it elsewhere, and excite the minds of men on the subject, and not bring the matter fairly to issue in that House?" The hon. and learned Gentleman said that it should have been brought forward last year. Why had it not been introduced then? What hindered it? [Mr. O'Connell: The discussions on the Reform Bill.] "The Reform Bill? If that was the cause, why did not you also in common justice forbear from appeals elsewhere to the passions, the prejudices, the religious feelings of parties?" He had read accounts of speeches delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman elsewhere, in which a fervent hope was expressed that the people of Ireland would once again enjoy their Parliament in its ancient place of meeting, and that the Members would proceed together to hear mass before they commenced their daily deliberations. But why, 376 he again asked, were all this excitement and all this agitation created about a matter which could be lawfully decided only in Parliament; and why had it not been brought forward there? Whose fault was it that it had not been brought forward? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that it was owing to the discussions on the Reform Bill, but surely there was as much time for the introduction of that, as it was said, all-important matter, as there had been for the forty other questions which the hon. and learned Gentleman had brought forward, notwithstanding the discussions on Reform. It would not have been necessary to go to the trouble of preparing a Bill on the subject; the whole question might have been discussed on a short resolution: such, for example, as this—"Resolved, that the Repeal of the Legislative Union between the two kingdoms of England and Ireland would be consistent with true policy, and with justice to Ireland." He should have been happy to have given the hon. and learned Gentleman any assistance in respect to the form of his Motion, to have aided him, if his aid would have been useful, in drawing up such a Resolution as would have brought the question to a final issue. But no attempt of the kind was made by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. It could not have been, that he delayed the question from want of confidence in the late Parliament, for it was in the recollection of many Members that the hon. and learned Gentleman had frequently eulogized the late Parliament as one disposed to do justice. He did not support the Legislative Union between the two countries merely because he found it in an Act of Parliament—though it having become the law of the land, and so continued for thirty years, was not an unfair presumption that it was a measure consistent with the advantage of the two countries. He supported it because he believed the existence of that Union was for the undoubted benefit of both countries. It was said, that England had misgoverned, and had withheld justice from Ireland. Much was said of English severity, but not a word about Irish provocation. There was a studious concealment of just one-half of the truth, and the other half was greatly exaggerated. But the question—the practical question now was not—Did England in some remote time misgovern Ireland, or did she withhold justice from her?—But, had she, 377 since the Union, done justice to Ireland? Was there now a disposition to do that justice? Was there a fair assurance that that disposition would continue for the future? Let not hon. Members go back to the days of Strongbow—let them not roll back the stream of time for the purpose of reviving antiquated prejudices, and rekindling the slumbering fires of past contentious, over which the waters of oblivion had closed. Would it be wise in him at the present day to call to memory the atrocities of the great Rebellion of Ireland, in order to justify the acts to which the Government of that day had recourse? No. Their business was with the present time; they had to look to what was now passing around them ["hear, hear," from Mr. O'Connell.] He was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman admit this. Then he would, as he was disposed to do, confine himself to the present day. And here let him observe, that if he could believe that the Repeal of the Union could improve the social condition of Ireland—so great a curse did he consider her present state to be—if he could believe, he repeated, that it could be improved by the Repeal of the Legislative Union, the belief would almost reconcile him to the measure. It was said that England had misgoverned Ireland for centuries. Why, the very fact of that misgovernment was an argument "against Repeal. Misgovernment was the hard condition, twin-born with separate Legislatures. England could not govern Ireland well, while there was a separate Legislature. If the Irish Parliament had been really independent, there would have soon been an end of the connexion between the countries. To control the tendency towards separation, England had been obliged to establish an influence in the Irish Parliament, and to govern by corrupt influence. Let the Union be Repealed, and we should have one or other of these consequences; an Irish Parliament, with the mere semblance of independence, or an Irish Parliament really independent, and the empire dismembered. But let him ask those hon. Members who talked of the disposition of England not to do justice to Ireland, what interest had she in doing her injustice? If she were so disposed, it must be from some expected advantage, financial or commercial. England could gain nothing by having a set of bad Magistrates in Ireland, or bad Grand Jurors. 378 What possible advantage could it be to her that Magistrates should not administer justice fairly, or that Grand Jurors should misapply, or mismanage the money raised for local purposes in counties? If those hon. Members to whom he addressed himself, as entertaining the opinion of the disposition of England to act unjustly towards Ireland, thought that she was so disposed from expected gain in a financial point of view, let them call for Returns of the present amount of taxation in the two countries, for that was the business-like way of looking at the question. Let them call for a Return of all the taxes which were imposed in Ireland and not imposed in England, and next for a Return of all taxes imposed in England and not imposed in Ireland—let them call for an account of all the fetters and restrictions that were laid on Irish commerce, which were not also imposed on that of England—let them call for accounts of any exclusive restrictions on Irish trade and manufactures. He repeated, call for such Returns, and from them prove the fact; and if a case could be made out to show that such injustice existed, he was certain that the House of Commons would not only evince a disposition to remove it, but would suspend its ordinary forms to give more speedy redress. He would now come to another argument urged in favour of a separate Legislature—that which had been used by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Finn), who had addressed the House to-night for the first time with much ability. He said, if Ireland had her own Parliament, she would be enabled to lay a tax of fifty per cent on the property of absentees. Why, what was that but spoliation of property? But suppose such an Act had passed the Irish Legislature, would the King of England, he being the head of the Executive of both countries, give his assent to it? Would he give his sanction to that act of spoliation against his English subjects who had property in both countries, and who chose to reside in one in preference to the other? If he should not—and that he would not there could be little doubt—then at once would come the conflict between the two countries. Again, it was alleged that the manufactures of Ireland required protection, and that a local Legislature would give it—against what? against English manufactures? Why that was the very question which was now convulsing, to its 379 centre, the Republic of the United States of America. Was it possible that an argument of that kind would meet the assent of the hon. member for Middlesex—the advocate for free trade in its most extended sense? But suppose that a Parliament sitting in Ireland were to adopt such measures—were to endeavour to protect its own commerce, trade, and manufactures, by imposing restrictions on those of England, was it to be imagined, that such restrictions would remain unilateral? Would England rest still, and see such attempts to cripple her commerce and manufactures? Would not petitions pour in from all parts of the country praying for similar restrictions on the commerce, manufactures, and produce of Ireland? Should we not soon hear of a tax on Irish corn? Was there anything very unnatural in this? Was it not to be expected, that if one commodity was taxed in one country, it would be followed up by the taxation of some article of commerce in the other? Then if there were separate systems of finance in the two countries, there would be separate taxation, and separate collections of revenue, separate revenue cruizers, every fruitful source of dispute by which the two countries would be constantly brought into angry collisions. It was not the mere amount of duties to be so collected, but the angry feelings to which they would give rise in both countries, which were to be dreaded. On these grounds he would repeat his assertion, that England had no disposition to injure Ireland. It was not only not her desire, but it was manifestly not her interest to do so. What interest could she have in maintaining a large army in Ireland? It would be decidedly to her interests and advantage that the public burthens should be reduced in that country as well as here. But she had given proofs of her disposition not to press hard on Ireland. He would take the case of the Poor-laws. It was not necessary for him to state that the support of the poor pressed heavily on England; and it was equally well known that her Poor-rates were greatly increased by the sums paid for the relief of her casual poor, a large portion of which consisted of Irish. It was, therefore, manifestly the interest of Englishmen that a system of Poor-laws should be established in Ireland; yet it was well known that English Members in that 380 House had forborne to press the subject, lest it should be supposed that they were imposing a burthen on Ireland from motives of their own benefit. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, he was prepared to support the permanence of the Legislative Union between the two countries. He would not say that he preferred a civil war; he hoped and believed that there would be no necessity for recurring to such means of preserving the Union. He would rather appeal to the affections and good feeling of the people of Ireland, acting under the conviction that the two countries had a common interest in maintaining the connexion. But in supporting the Address, which declared the permanence of the Union, hon. Members were not precluded from bringing the subject forward on a future occasion. They could call for the papers to which he had referred, and from those papers let them prove the alleged injustice, if they could. They had agitated the question for two years without bringing it fully or fairly before the House, and having omitted to do so, he thought Ministers were bound to take the first opportunity of the meeting of Parliament to call for its opinion upon it. Intimation had been given of another Amendment besides that of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and if he was disposed to view the question as one of party, there might be astute reasons why he should support it; but after what he had heard, he was not disposed to do so, for he felt that the House was called up onto show, by an over whelming majority, that it was not disposed to sanction a measure which would tend, not merely to legislative separation, but to actual dismemberment of the empire. He would not trouble the House further upon this head, but would briefly advert to another part of the Speech from the Throne. It was rather singular that up to this, the third night of the discussion of the Address, that part of the Speech relating to the foreign policy of the country, and involving such important consequences to our best interests, should have scarcely been made the subject of a single remark. He was aware of the intense interest excited by the matters which concerned our domestic relations; and, therefore, he would not occupy the attention of the House by entering into the subject of the foreign policy at any length. There were, how- 381 ever, one or two topics which he could not pass over without observation. His Majesty said: 'I have still to lament the continuance of the civil war in Portugal, which has, for some months, existed between the Princes of the House of Braganza. From the commencement of this contest I have abstained from all interference, except such as was required for the protection of British subjects resident in Portugal; but you may be assured that I shall not fail to avail myself of any opportunity that may be afforded me to assist in restoring peace to a country with which the interests of my dominions are so intimately connected.' He was exceedingly glad to hear those sentiments from his Majesty, but he was not a little surprised to hear them, considering that the war in Portugal never would have existed without the sanction of his Majesty's Government. It was very possible that his Majesty's naval forces had maintained neutrality off the coast of Portugal, but the Government of England had not been neutral, for if the ports of this country had not been open to one of the Princes of the House of Braganza, the civil war which now existed in Portugal would never have taken place. If Don Pedro had not been actually assisted by France, and countenanced by Britain, he would not now have had a footing in Portugal. He never could cease to blame his Majesty's Government for having thrown open the ports and arsenals of Great Britain to equip him for that invasion. He thought they were bound to adhere to that neutrality which they professed to maintain. But how, they would say, was that to be done? He would tell them. By enforcing their own municipal laws—by recalling all the British subjects in the service both of Don Miguel and Don Pedro. That was what they should do now, and what they ought to have done long since. Don Miguel, though he had passed through more severe trials than any prince in Europe, though he had met with the greatest misfortunes—his kingdom invaded—his best port taken possession of by an invading force, acting with the secret connivance of England and France, was not deserted by one of the people. According to the Whig principle, that the choice of the people is to be respected, surely, by this time, the choice of the people of Portugal 382 had been sufficiently evinced. And he thought, that seeing that choice had continued for five years steadily in favour of Don Miguel, it was the duty of England to recognize him as King of Portugal. With respect to the affairs of Belgium and Holland, he had the strongest feeling of the injustice done to Holland; and a strong conviction, that England, instead of advocating the cause of Holland, had acted as a party against that country. But there was another question connected with that subject, which bore upon our Constitution, and on which he wished to make some remarks. For the last three months an embargo had been laid on all Dutch ships and property in our ports, and orders issued to our navy to detain by force all trading vessels belonging to Holland. He doubted much whether this act was not inconsistent with public law, or whether the Government were justified, either as respected their own subjects or those of Holland, in detaining the ships of a foreign power, except in contemplation of actual war. He wished to know by what authority the King ordered the detention of these vessels? If injuries had been done by the Dutch to British subjects, and redress had been refused them, he admitted that there would be grounds for the proceeding; but he maintained, that where the seizures were not made by way of reprisals, such an act was not in conformity to public law. Perhaps his Majesty's Government thought, that because this was a great and powerful nation, and had to contend with but a small one, it might set aside the doctrines of public law. Without detailing the authorities who had written on this subject, he would merely beg to call their attention to the words of one writer on the subject, whose authority had been generally allowed. He alluded to Vattel, who said that for a prince "to grant reprisals against a nation in favour of foreigners, is to set himself up for a Judge between that nation and these foreigners, which no Sovereign has a right to do." Vattel proceeds: "Now what right have we to judge whether the complaint of a stranger against an independent State is just, if he has really been denied justice? If it be objected that we may espouse the quarrel of another State in a war that appears to us to be just to give it succours, and even join with it; the case is different. In granting succours against a nation, we 383 do not stop its effects, or its men, who are with us under the public faith, and in declaring war, we suffer it to withdraw its subjects and effects." But there was no war whatever with Holland, nor any contemplation of hostility towards her. Why then had an embargo existed for the last three months upon her ships—the ships of a friend, even an ally? The noble Lord (Palmerston) indeed declared, that to say a war existed with Holland proceeded from a mere wandering of the brain, a dream of the imagination; that the attack of Antwerp was no more than a civil ejectment. If the attack on Antwerp, the twenty-two days siege, was not a war, upon what principle bad the embargo been imposed? Upon what principle did it still continue? There was, he presumed, no other Antwerp to be besieged. But even if there were, he denied that the Ministry could be justified, or sanctioned by the public law of nations, in seizing upon the Dutch ships. It was indifferent what engagements might have been formed with France or Belgium. They could confer no right to perpetrate an injustice upon another state. Indeed it was rather a heavy aggravation of the original wrong, that such conduct should be grounded on the existing state of relations between this country and France. He relied upon the public law of nations. Holland had done England no injury; there was no war, no feeling of hostility; and the embargo was, therefore, according to the principles of international law, perfectly unjustifiable. By what just exercise of the prerogative were the King's subjects debarred from trading with Holland? It was said, that this was necessary for the preservation of peace; but was not necessity proverbially "the tyrant's plea?" And if such a mode of argument were once recognized, law and justice would soon come to be superseded. For the last three months, commercial intercourse between this country and Holland was cut off. Now, he remembered the arguments urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite against the Alien Act. According to them, it was no less than a violation of Magna Charta, which guaranteed free intercourse With foreign nations. They denied that any alien, whether friend or enemy, could be sent out of this country. They further referred to Blackstone, who was quoted in order to show how prominent this right of intercourse stood amongst the principal pri- 384 vileges of merchant strangers. Blackstone said, "that foreign nations have a right, and that the prerogative cannot deprive them of that right, to enter this country; that so careful is the municipal law of the rights of strangers that there is no power or prerogative in the Crown to interfere." Montesquieu, also, held up the generous example of England, as worthy of ail eulogy and imitation by other countries, of foreigners in amity with England to carry on a free intercourse with this country. But what now became of the eulogy of Montesquieu, if the King could by his prerogative stop the intercourse of a friendly nation with the people of England? All these authorities had formerly been quoted in support of principles which were now utterly violated.
The Address met with his general concurrence. Upon any minor points it was useless to remark upon an occasion on which perfect unanimity, or what was next to it, an overwhelming preponderance of opinion, was most desirable. It was his duty to support the Crown in relation to the measures for Ireland, and the support he gave was dictated by principles perfectly independent and disinterested. He had no other views than to preserve law, order, property, and morality. In the course he pursued that night, was to be found an indication of the course he meant to take on future occasions. It was not one adopted, as some might imagine, to recover office. Between office and him a wide gulph existed. He had no desire to return to place. He wished he could have said, that he reposed an increased confidence in the present Ministers; but that was not the case; he felt no disposition to place additional trust in them; his course, therefore, was determined solely by public considerations, without one view of personal advantage. The great change that had recently taken place in the constitution of the House justified and required from public men a different course of action. Formerly there were two great parties in the State, each confident in the justice of its own views. Each prepared to undertake the Government upon the principles which it espoused. All the tactics of party were then resorted to, and justifiably resorted to, for the purpose of effecting the main object—that of displacing the Government. He doubted whether the old system of party tactics was applicable to the present state of 385 things, whether it did not become men to look rather to the maintenance of order, of law, and of property, than to the best mode of annoying and disquieting the Government. He saw principles in operation, the prevalence of which, he dreaded as fatal to the well-being of society, and whenever the King's Government should evince a disposition to resist those principles, they should have his support, when they encouraged them, his decided opposition.
It had been said he was opposed to all Reform—the charge he directly denied. To Parliamentary Reform he was certainly opposed, but that he had been an enemy to gradual and temperate Reform, he flatly contradicted. When he heard the learned Gentleman speaking of the Jury Bill, and of that change in the practice in Ireland which took the nomination of Sheriffs from the Crown, and gave it to the Judges, he could not but recollect that of both those measures, he, himself, was the author. He was for reforming every Institution that really required Reform, but he was for doing it gradually, dispassionately, and deliberately, in order that the Reform might be lasting. He never would admit that the condition of this great country had been what it was described to be—a mass of abuse. He dreaded the disposition which was already manifested to throw everything into confusion—to shake all confidence by rash and precipitate legislation—by the foolish presumption, that everything heretofore was wrong, and that a Reformed House of Commons could set it right. The Order Book, already contained notices for new laws on every imaginable subject—for simultaneous change in everything that was established. The King's Government had abstained from all unseemly triumph in the King's Speech respecting the measure of Reform. He would profit by their example, and would say nothing upon that head; but consider that question as finally and irrevocably disposed of. He was now determined to look forward to the future alone, and considering the Constitution as it existed, to take his stand on main and essential matters—to join in resisting every attempt at new measures which could not be stirred without unsettling the public mind, and endangering public prosperity. It should be widely known, that the industrious classes could only subsist by public 386 tranquillity—by the existence of those habits of obedience, and that general order which would allow men possessed of property to bring their capital into operation, and that the welfare of the labouring—he would not say lower—classes was secured by the peaceful enjoyment of all property, and by avoiding those measures which must increase the apprehensions he was confident existed in the minds of capitalists. There were, he was aware, no means of governing this country, but through the House of Commons, and therefore he, humble as he was, was determined to take his stand in defence of law and order—in defence of the King's Throne, and the security of the empire—from motives as truly independent as those by which any Member of the most liberal opinions, and representing the largest constituency in the kingdom was actuated.
rose to correct a mistake. It gave him the greatest pain to imagine that he was capable of casting reflections on any creed, but more especially on that of the very House which, when wholly composed of Protestants, had emancipated him. His expression was literally this, and no more—that he hoped to see the day when, as soon as the Protestant Irish Members set out from Christchurch for the House of Commons, in College-green, the Catholic Members would leave Towns-end-street Chapel for the same place.
moved an Adjournment of the Debate.
A Division on the Motion of Adjournment took place: Ayes 65; Noes 301—Majority 236.
§ A Motion was then made and negatived that the House do adjourn. The Ministers then consented to adjourn the Debate.
§ Debate adjourned.