§ Lord Ormelie appeared at the Bar with the Report on the Address.
§ On the Question that the Report be brought up, being put,
§ Mr. Langdale
observed, that though he might be considered irregular in the observations which he was about to make, in commenting upon observations which had been made in a former debate, he could not, in justice to himself, and in justice to his constituents, avoid entering his protest against the interpretation which the hon. and learned member for the Tower Hamlets (Dr. Lushington) had put upon the oath which was taken by the Roman Catholic Members. As he was himself of that profession, he felt, that it was of the utmost importance that the meaning of that oath should be perfectly understood and that it should be known, what it did not mean. There could be no question of more urgency to Members who were situated as he was. It was a question which had already arisen more than once. It must be very disagreeable to any Roman Catholic Member if he could be told, before giving his vote on a subject, that he had taken an oath which prevented him from voting in a particular way. On any other occasion he might have been willing to defer the consideration of the subject, but he was decidedly of opinion that an immediate understanding ought to be come to. It was hard that Catholic Members should be told that they could not enter into any discussion respecting the temporalities of the Irish Church without violating the oath which they had taken on entering Parliament. He 478 was persuaded there was nothing in the character of a Roman Catholic that would justify any Member of that House in insinuating that he did not pay attention to his oath. He was himself a Catholic, but out of a constituency of a 1,000 there was only one Catholic in the borough he had the honour to represent. It was important, therefore, particularly to him, that he should not be placed in a false position, and that it should not be thought a Catholic could not vote as independently upon all questions as a Protestant. When he said all questions, he meant questions of property, for, unless Catholics could vote upon the question of the temporalities of the Church, they could not vote upon questions relating to corporations. He would no more enter into the alteration of corporate property than of the Church property. His oath was equally obligatory in both instances. What he was exceedingly anxious to ascertain was this: if any Member supposed that a Catholic could not give the same opinion as a Protestant, he ought to rise and profess that opinion. He should like to know the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who cheered a remark made by an hon. and learned Member, whether, in their opinion, a Catholic stood in a different situation from a Protestant Member. He would go somewhat further than this. His Majesty's Ministers, in the exercise of their discretion, had advised the King to recommend to the House a consideration of the temporalities of the Church; and the noble Lord had given notice of a motion which was to come on to-morrow. Did a Roman Catholic stand in any respect in a different situation from his Majesty's Ministers? The oath taken by Ministers was: "I do swear never to exercise any privilege to which I am entitled, in order to disturb or weaken the Protestant Government in the United Kingdom." The oath of the Catholic was: "I do solemnly and sincerely, and in the presence of God, profess, "testify, and declare, on the true faith of a Christian, that I will never exercise any power to injure or weaken the Protestant Church, as by law established." Was there any difference between the oath of the Minister and the oath of the Roman Catholic? If he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman on the other side right, he meant to say that a Roman Catholic had no right to interfere with the temporalities of the Church— 479 that every slight interference with the property of the Church would be said to go to the destruction of the Church. If the hon. Member said, that he (Mr. Langdale) was, by his oath, prevented from interfering with the temporalities of the Church—the temporalities being under discussion—then he should withdraw. He would rather take that course than be reminded that he had no right to interfere with the Church. It would be for the benefit of all parties that this matter should be set at rest one way or the other, that no Member should in future run the risk of being taunted. The hon. and learned member for the Tower Hamlets, had certainly declared that, touching the temporalities of the Church, and destroying the Church, was the same thing. Now, what was the destruction of the Church? Ministers and their friends would be loth to say, that a Reform of the Church went to its destruction; and the right hon. member for Tamworth and his friends would, perhaps, be inclined to say, that a very slight interference with the property of the Church went to its destruction. He did not think there was any distinction to be drawn between what the hon. and learned Member had said, with respect to the destruction of the temporalities of the Church, and the destruction in part. If he were to be told that he was not to go into the discussion of this question, following his own opinion, but remembering that he had taken an oath which prevented him from discussing it, he ought not to be in Parliament. It would be greatly to the satisfaction of the Catholic Members in that House, and he thought to every Member in the House, to have this question set at rest.
An Hon. Member
said, that as long as the oath was taken, he certainly did consider the Catholic Members of the House differently situated from other Members, quoad the Church. As the hon. Member had challenged those Members who entertained such an opinion to state it, he thought it right to do so.
§ Mr. Hume
thought, it would be more 480 satisfactory if his Majesty's Ministers would take the present opportunity to explain what their sentiments were with regard to the doctrine laid down the other night by the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets (Dr. Lushington), in respect to the nature of the oath taken by Catholic Members of that House concerning the Established Church. At all events, the law officers of the Crown should say, what their opinion on the subject was. He had been asked this very day whether it was the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to support such a doctrine? It was so entirely destructive of the legislatorial powers of Catholic Members with regard to the Established Church, that, though he had no difficulty in expressing his opinion on the point, an opinion in which he believed that he was joined by most sensible men who gave it any consideration, yet it did appear to him very desirable, seeing that such a doctrine had been so emphatically laid down by the hon. and learned member for the Tower Hamlets, that his Majesty's Ministers should at once declare what their sentiments were upon the subject.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded to had no more right to state the opinion he had given, except as his own opinion, than the hon. Gentleman had to state what was the opinion of that House. Ministers had no business to give any interpretation of the oath, nor ought they to be called upon for their opinion. It was of course open to any member of the Government, or of the House, to state his opinion on the point in the course of the debate, and to argue the question if it occurred to him. He thought the hon. member for Middlesex was not justified in asking such a question.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he did not ask, that the noble Lord should give his opinion, but he asked for that of the law officers of the Crown. For himself, he was perfectly indifferent, as he had quite made up his mind upon the question. Still, as a doubt existed in the minds of some hon. Members, the opinions of the law officers of the Crown should be given.
§ Colonel Davies
hoped, that the hon. member for Middlesex did not mean to give such an immense power to the law officers of the Crown. The only constitutional way was to take the sense of the House upon the question.
said, he would not allow any man to dictate to him what his belief was to be. If he had taken the oath in a sense in which the House did not understand it, he ought not to be one of its Members; for if he considered the oath to be different to the construction which he put upon it, he would not have taken it at all. He was aware that an oath ought to be taken in the sense of the person administering it, if the words would at all bear out that sense. When, therefore, he had, as a Catholic, suffered twenty years in consequence of his respect for an oath, he could not bear to hear it said, that he had taken an oath equivocally, much less that he was one of those who held an oath lightly; and he thought, that if he had been guilty of any unpleasantness the other evening, when an insinuation was thrown out that any Catholic Member voting for any alteration in the Church Establishment was doing so in violation of the oath he had taken, such unpleasantness was not altogether inexcusable. The interpretation which he put upon the language of the oath was this—that the Roman Catholics were bound, as were the Protestants also, to support the Church Establishment so long as it continued to be the law. But, as a legislator, he considered it perfectly competent in him to make any proposition for, or to be any party in, altering these laws. That was his understanding of the construction of the oath; and if it was not that of those who administered it, he would not stay there to be taunted as one who would lightly profess the name of God, believing, as he did, that he must answer for his conduct in eternity. He meant to oppose the bringing up of the Report. It was painful to him to de-lain the House upon this subject, which had for such a length of time occupied their attention. But it was his duty—a duty which he performed most reluctantly. He believed that none of his hon. friends from Ireland, who had already taken part in the debate, intended now to Address the House upon this subject unless personally attacked. He was contending for constitutional freedom, and he felt that the acts contemplated by Government were so opposed to that freedom, that if he could only delay them for a single day, he was doing that for his country of which he was most proud—it was an act for which he would lay down his life if necessary. Considering, indeed, the present 482 state of Ireland, and the avowed intentions of Ministers towards that country, he thought it his duty to contend the ground, inch by inch, and oppose their measures, however hopelessly, at every stage. He should oppose the Report of the Address being brought up, because that Address was stigmatized by its brutality and sanguinary disposition towards Ireland; and whatever might be the result, he should at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he had struggled to the last against it. He was taunted as wanting in gratitude to his Majesty's Ministers, who, it was said, had placed him where he was. It was net the case. It was true, even proverbially, that a woman ought not to be grateful at the expense of her honour—a man of his integrity—or a legislator of his country's liberty. It was not his Majesty's Ministers who had placed him there, but the people of Ireland. His Majesty's Ministers, indeed, had sometimes contributed towards it, but they had also sometimes retarded it. He did not take his statement of the transactions of 1806 and 1807 from his hon. friend near him (Mr. Cobbett), but he would say, that there was scarcely a man of them who had not, once at least, accepted office on the footing of throwing the question of Catholic Emancipation overboard. Even Mr. Canning, it was well known, consented to such a stipulation. He threw back the charge of ingratitude. The Ministers had forgotten the gratitude due to him and the Irish Members. They had forgotten that, but for the conduct of the Irish Members, they would never have gained the Reform Bill itself. When that Bill was in danger, though he had been persecuted by them, he forgot his persecutions—the Irish Members forgot, for a moment, the wrongs of Ireland: and when the majority of the English and Scotch Members were against the second reading of the Bill, the Irish Members turned the scale, preserved Ministers in their places, and the Reform Bill from destruction. And yet they talked to him of ingratitude. Again, when the Parliament was dissolved, in consequence of the success of General Gascoyne's motion, which was insidiously directed against Ireland, what did the Irish then do? Despite the despotic exertions of the landlords—at the expense of many a suffering father, and many a brokenhearted mother—they sent to the British Parliament a phalanx of sixty-five 483 Irish Reformers, ready to give them the most unequivocal support in carrying through the Reform Bill. Oh, he was glad that they had thus ventured to upbraid him with ingratitude, that he might fling these recollections in their teeth, and bid them think on what Ireland had done for them, and then blush for their own conduct towards Ireland. And this was the reception which complaints of Ireland were to meet with from the first Reformed Parliament. He well recollected having been often told, previous to the emancipation of the Catholics, by a friend of his now connected with the Government, that it would be most absurd for them (the Catholics) to do that which they had often proposed to do—namely, to postpone their demands for emancipation, and to join with the Reformers of England in calling for Parliamentary Reform; for (added his friend) of this you may be sure, that an English Reformed Parliament would never grant you emancipation." He did not believe his friend then—indeed, he laughed at the supposition; but was he of the same opinion now? Certainly not. He was convinced that if emancipation had been delayed to the present day, it would not be carried by this Parliament; and he grounded that opinion on the fact, that nine-tenths of the English people, whom the present Parliament was considered to represent, had petitioned against emancipation. He therefore threw back the taunt of ingratitude upon those who had reproached him with it. He threw back upon them the taunt of ingratitude. Did Ireland ever deny help when England claimed it at her hands? The flag of England never braved the storm of battle, but Irish arms were there to uphold it; and of all the brave hearts by whom it had been surrounded, none were more numerous than those whose first pulsation was in his native land. His countrymen felt warmly towards the English people, but, alas! no attempt was made to take advantage of this sentiment—no attempt to conciliate them—no promise of redress for those wrongs of which they so bitterly complained. What a glorious opportunity was afforded to the Ministers of manifesting in the Speech from the Throne their firm determination of bringing forward remedial and healing measures for Ireland. They might have immortalized themselves, had they done this, and won the love and gratitude of 484 his countrymen for ever. But no—and the Reformed Parliament, which ought to have been animated by similar feelings—that Parliament, too, joined in the universal shout of exultation at hearing the mode in which his country was proposed to be treated by one of those who bad made that country what it was. Yes, instead of soothing Ireland, they had resolved to exasperate her—they had resolved upon restriction, coercion, and taking away the law. They were told, that they must have a strong Government—and that a Government must be feared before it could be loved. Whose doctrine was this—whose example did the Government propose to follow? It had been tried by Robespierre—it had been tried by Marat—it had been tried by men who had surrounded every tree of liberty with 1,000 heads; they had said, that fear must precede love—but that such a doctrine should have been propounded by a British Minister—that a principle so atrocious should have been asserted in a Reformed House of Commons, was a stretch of despotic daring which exceeded even his expectations. If he was surrounded by English Reformers, and if by some chance English Reformers were not unrepresented in that House, he would ask whether they would favour the principle of Robespierre, of being feared before they could be loved; or whether the Government should not adopt measures of conciliation and justice before they employed the machinery of terror? What sort of a King's Speech, he would ask, had been presented to a first Reformed Parliament? There was a pretty little commentary made on the affairs of Belgium and Holland—a note talked about as having passed between Don Miguel and Don Pedro—a few sentences composed upon the Charters of the East-India Company and the Bank of England; but why had not Ministers condescended to notice the distresses of the people of England? Why had they not noticed the oppressive load of taxation under which they groaned? And then, when they had done this, they might have cast their eyes across the channel, and taken a view of seven millions of people, degraded and placed in a situation of the deepest distress—a people whom it was not for him to praise, but whom he could not cease to love. If they could not relieve, they might have commiserated. Ought not Ministers to soothe instead of endeavouring 485 to intimidate them, and making themselves execrated by that nation? Did they mean to say, that they would make themselves feared in Ireland? He would tell them to their face they never would. This was not language which ought to have been adopted towards that gallant and fearless nation. It was brutal language—they should have used other terms. Even if they had wanted coercion, Ministers ought not to have come down on the very first day of the meeting of a Reformed Parliament with threatening language—they should have allowed at any rate four days to pass—they ought to have taken the opportunity of setting themselves right with the people of England, before they had resorted to such daring language in respect of unhappy Ireland. Ireland had received much lip service from the hon. Gentleman who spoke from the other side of the House; but there was nothing that his countrymen were more dissatisfied with than that species of political hypocrisy, that talked of love and regard for Ireland, while it made a compliment of granting liberty to the people of that distressed and unhappy country. Would any man in England permit his Majesty's Ministers to talk of allowing them liberty as a favour? A great mistake had been made regarding the agitation which now existed in Ireland. There existed in Ireland a predial or agricultural war, and a political war. Nothing could be more different than these two wars. They were different in their effects—different in their causes—and required different remedies; and yet they were too frequently confounded. He begged to assure the hon. member for Knaresborough (Mr. Richards), that he was mistaken in the story which he related to the House a few evenings back. He had made strict inquiries, and he found that instead of the wages of the labourers being limited to 3s. a-week, he assured him that, in many remote counties, the wages did not exceed 2s. per week. Agricultural agitation existed quite independently of politics. What were the political disturbances in Ireland which required these new powers? He was perfectly ready to admit the existence of numerous predial crimes there; but those were totally ignorant of the real state of Ireland, and received the wholesale assertions of his Majesty's Ministers with much too great facility, who confounded those predial crimes with offences of another 486 description. An hon. Member had asserted, that he (Mr. O'Connell) had declared that disturbances had been increasing in Ireland ever since the present Ministers came into office. He had never said any such thing. What he had said was, that they had increased since the Speech made by the King at the close of the last Parliament, in which vigorous measures were alluded to, and since the strong measures which had been adopted with respect to tithes. But what was the present state of Ireland with regard to disturbances? There were no disturbances in the county of Cork. The two last Assizes for that county had been maiden Assizes. There had been five tithe meetings in that county, and not a single assault had been committed at any of them. By a letter which he had received that morning, he understood that there were no disturbances whatever in that county, and that not one Whiteboy was out in it. Yet the number of inhabitants in that county exceeded 700,000. In the county of Kerry, with a population of 260,000, though eight months had elapsed since the last assizes there, there were only eleven prisoners confined in the county gaol, and of those five were in prison charged with rape; for in consequence of the non-existence of Poor-laws in Ireland, it was not an uncommon thing for females who had become pregnant, and who if in this country, would have had the means of applying to the parish for support for their offspring—it was not an uncommon thing for such females in Ireland to swear a rape against their seducers with the prospect of forcing them to marry them. In the city of Limerick the third city in Ireland, and with a large agricultural population in its suburbs, there were only eleven prisoners confined in gaol. The county of Clare was now perfectly quiet; he believed that Galway was quiet too, and so were Sligo and Roscommon. The county of Mayo was said to be disturbed, and additional powers were, it was said, to be asked for with respect to that county If he (Mr. O'Connell) should hear them asked for, his blood would boil with indignation. He knew that there had been some recent slaughters by the police in that county. One of them was occasioned by the Marquess of Sligo's endeavouring to prevent the people from collecting the sea-rack on the coast. It had been their custom from time immemorial so to collect it, and, at 487 all events, their right to do so should not have been tried in the manner that it had been in this instance. It was by the agent of the proprietor, who sat on the bench as Magistrate, that it was decided that the people in so doing had come under the Wilful Trespass Act, and it was he who sent out the police with summonses against the people the result of which was, that the unfortunate man was shot. It had been said that Trial by Jury had failed in Ireland. He would defy them to point out a single instance in which it had failed in Ireland, where the poor man or the peasant was the object of prosecution. He was glad to see the hon. member for Mayo take his seat. He would now say, in his hearing, that if there were no other reason for his opposing the granting of extraordinary powers with regard to the county of Mayo, it would be the conduct of the magistracy and gentry in that part of the country. It should never be forgotten that at the time of the French invasion, when the French troops landed at Killala, those who ran away, and who left the British troops to repel the invaders, were the local militia, with the local magistracy at their head, and yet, afterwards, when extraordinary political powers were intrusted to them, none were so inveterate in exercising them against the people. They might send German troops to Ireland—and he had heard a report to that effect—they might with foreign mercenaries, endeavour to crush the liberties of that country; but he would tell them that they would not succeed. The learned Member proceeded to contend that Ireland was not in such a state as to justify the granting of the powers demanded by his Majesty's Ministers; and in support of his statement, he read a letter which he had received within the last few days from a Magistrate in Ireland, in which the writer said that his part of the country had been comparatively quiet during the last fortnight; but, the writer said, he was sorry to add, at the same time, that while so many persons were in want of employment, it was impossible to expect happiness or tranquillity in that country. All parties agreed as to the necessity of putting an end to the existing disturbances; the only difference was, as to the means. There were two questions which ought to be well considered—first, if there was any necessity for further powers? Secondly, what would be the effect of 488 further powers, if they were given? To be able satisfactorily to answer those questions, the present state of the law should be inquired into. By the law, as it at present stood, there was not a single crime which a White boy insurgent could possibly commit, for which he might not be punished. Whether he raised his hand against a dwelling house, opened a door, or solicited arms in aid of the disturbances, he was equally amenable to the law. Why, then, did the right hon. Gentleman ask for more than the law, which was already adequate to the object? It was rather ludicrous to find the right hon. Secretary, who, last year, thinking that the powers thus afforded by the Irish law had too much of exaggerated severity about them, brought in a bill to mitigate that severity, now asking for powers beyond that law which he last year was of opinion ought to be mitigated in its severity. Last year the right hon. Secretary, at the suggestion of the able Crown Solicitor for Ireland, was for mitigating the severity of that law which he now seemed to think was not severe enough. The right hon. Secretary now avowed a principle with regard to Government—the principle, that it must be feared to be loved—which had been only known before in the reign of Robespierre, in France; but he (Mr. O'Connell) would remind the right hon. Secretary and his colleagues, that that reign had been a short one. When Lord Anglesey was in the county of Clare, he said that he would not call upon the people to give up their arms until the gentry should do something for their relief; 11l. per acre was at that time paid in Clare by the poor for their land. The declaration of Lord Anglesey was a humane one, but it was not a wise one. It was true that eleven policemen were afterwards murdered in that county, but the murderers of the whole eleven were brought to justice, and the informer who informed against them was now walking that county unmolested. Several also who had taken part in the disturbances in that county were transported, and the result was, that the county of Clare became perfectly quiet. The existing powers of the law were exercised with vigour, justice was vindicated, and the tranquillity of Clare was restored. That county had sent them two Members to the last Parliament, who voted on every division in favour of the Reform Bill, and the return which they were now about to give to the 489 people of Clare was to deprive them of the benefits of the British Constitution. He would repeat again, that more powers were not wanted by the Government to repress outrage and disturbance in Ireland; all that was required for the purpose was the due and vigorous exercise of the existing powers afforded by the existing law. In the Queen's County, during the course of the year, they had a Special Commission, by which several prisoners were convicted and transported. There was no keeping back of witnesses there; there was no manifestation on the part of Juries of a disinclination to do their duty. The right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to make out a case by a reference to what had taken place in Kilkenny. Now, every one of the White feet brought to trial there had been convicted; so much for witnesses keeping back, and for Juries not doing their duty. He would admit that, in the Carrickshaugh affair, in which eleven or twelve policemen had been killed in an open battle with the country people, a conviction had not taken place, but that was no reason why Trial by Jury should be taken from the people of Ireland; and he would just explain why it was so. He defended the first prisoner that was put upon his trial for that affair. There was + no attempt to justify the transaction itself, as it was unjustifiable, but the whole question turned upon the identity of the prisoner. He was identified as one of the murderers by three out of four policemen, who swore that he was engaged in the battle. But then upon their own acknowledgment, they had never seen the man until they saw him, as they alleged, in the heat of the battle, and they so contradicted each other in their accounts of the whole transaction, that it was impossible to rely upon their testimony where a man's life was at stake. Then, for the defence, he (Mr. O'Connell) amongst other witnesses, produced a witness of the better class in life, who swore that the prisoner was employed by him on the very day, and at the very hour, that this transaction occurred, in thatching a house for him. The Jury, after much consideration, acquitted the prisoner. Did that case furnish any reason for taking away Trial by Jury in Ireland, for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act there, and for depriving Ireland of the benefits of the Constitution? The foreman of the very Jury that was selected for the trial of those prisoners was chal- 490 lenged by him (Mr. O'Connell,) when on the panel, for being an outrageous partisan, and the Clerk of the Crown and the Attorney for the Crown having been sworn to try the challenge, found that he was a partial man, so he was accordingly set aside; but after the panel had been exhausted, the Crown put him and four others who had been set aside upon the Jury. He had been taunted with resistance to the laws in Ireland, and it had been said, that Jurors and witnesses were intimidated, and durst not come forward; but where had there been any want of Jurors—where had there been any want of witnesses? There were no Jurors wanted in any of the counties, and as for witnesses, the only deficiency that he was aware of was on the part of the Government themselves. The fact was, they had no witnesses to be intimidated; they had not the testimony to convict offenders, and yet they cried out for the enforcement of the laws to punish those who intimidated. They wanted witnesses. Yes, he believed them. It was testimony that they wanted, and they cared not how they procured it. Why not destroy the Irish by wholesale? Why not surround them in a valley, and render that valley another Glenco? Why not treat them as some years ago they treated 120,000 of their countrymen, whom they got together for expatriation; 80,000 of whom they shipped to the West Indies, of which 80,000 only 60,000 reached the West Indies; and of which 60,000, in two years only 250 survived, the rest having died of starvation? And yet he was convinced that the right hon. Baronet near him was a much better Minister for Ireland than the present right hon. Chief Secretary. The right hon. Baronet was a philosophical statesman—he did not confound things which were a century distinct—he would hesitate to recommend unconstitutional measures. The right hon. Secretary (Mr. Stanley) had taunted him with the disturbances of Ireland, and with the atrocities with which they had been accompanied. The case of the reverend Mr. Ferguson, a Caiholic clergyman, who was inhumanly massacred, had been referred to. That gentleman carried the question of the composition of tithes, by the aid of the Irish peasantry, against the landlords, and he had a long struggle for it before he could accomplish it. He (Mr. O'Connell) was counsel for him on the occasion of an appeal to the 491 higher tribunal: the opponents were rich and powerful, but the victory was gained; the clergyman was assassinated, but the hon. Recorder of Dublin was mistaken as to by whom he was assassinated: his enemies were not the peasantry of Ireland. Then the case of Hewson was referred to. That was a "robbery" murder, not a massacre; the individual had quarrelled with a private servant of his household, who murdered him. He (Mr. O'Connell) did not mean to say that there was no crime in Ireland; on the contrary, he admitted its existence to the greatest extent; but were Ministers taking the best mode of abating it? Were they doing their best to allay the inflamed feelings of the peasantry by consulting their wishes or even their prejudices? No; they were desirous of affronting the Catholic Clergy; and he could tell the House, that if there was one mode more certain than another to perpetuate the disturbances and consequently the miseries of Ireland, it was to put a slight and an insult upon the only body who could hold a check on the vengeance of the people. To insult the Roman Catholic Clergy was to outrage the feelings of the whole people of Ireland. But the truth was, that Ministers did not want their measures of coercion for the good of Ireland—they wanted them for another purpose. When he (Mr. O'Connell, saw them attempting to confound the political with the agricultural agitation of Ireland, he was convinced what was the real purpose for which those powers were required. He could not but admire the bonhomie of the noble Lord, who spoke of the good intentions of his Majesty's Government. Did the noble Lord recollect the Spanish proverb, which said that "Hell was paved with good intentions?" Had there been a petition presented from Ireland, complaining of distress or of wrongs, that the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did not find some miserable excuse for its not being printed? He (Mr. O'Connell) and his colleagues, the Representatives of Ireland, had been taunted for not having brought forward the question of the Repeal of the Union; it had been looked upon as a sign of cowardice, and as a proof that they had abandoned the project, to accomplish which they had been returned to Parliament. Did the hon. Members who had thus amused themselves suppose that this hanging-back was because they (the 492 Representatives of Ireland,) had not arguments to support the call for a Repeal of the Union? They were mistaken if they did. But he would ask the House of what use the bringing forward of that question, or rather of the arguments in support of it, would have been when the very mention of the subject as one of debate was interdicted by the Address against which he was now protesting. To show, however, that the question had not been abandoned from weakness of argument, he would say a few words to the House on the subject of this Repeal of the Union. The Union itself was but an Act of Parliament, and the repeal of it would but be an Act of the Legislature also. So far the question came under the cognizance of that House. If the question came before them as one of dismemberment, he would be as averse to it as any hon. Member could be, for no man could be a more ardent lover of his country, and advocate of her welfare, than he was; but he need hardly repeat, that he did not look upon the repeal as a measure of dismemberment. An hon. Member, somewhat too philosophical in his reasoning, had declared, in speaking the other evening on this subject, that there could not be two Parliaments—that there could not be two legislative bodies, and one Executive; but he (Mr. O'Connell) appealed to facts, and declared that, with some exceptions, the Parliament of Ireland had practically refuted the hon. Member's reasoning. That Parliament had been charged with rottenness, but had it ever been more rotten than the English Parliament, even than the Parliament which had last sat in that House? The object of the Ministers in the Address was to put down the discussion of the important question of a Repeal of the Union, and their conduct had been of a piece throughout their political life. Who enacted the penal laws? Who prepared the Insurrection Act? The Whigs. When, and when only was the venerated name of Grattan called into question? When he joined with the Whigs in that same Insurrection Act. But to return to the charge of the keeping back of the question of Repeal, He (Mr. O'Connell) had been told by an hon. Member that he had suffered judgment to go by default; but what was the fact? He had commenced the agitation of the Repeal question in 1801, and had advocated it in every place, and at every meeting since that period He continued 493 until he was offered emancipation; but he refused emancipation unless it was to be followed by a Repeal of the Union. The right hon. member for Tamworth had asked, why he did not bring forward the question last year. He had no doubt the right hon. Baronet would have been well pleased had he adopted that course, and he should have been as much lauded as the hon. Member (Mr. Hunt) whose seat he now occupied, had been lauded on another occasion, when he pursued a course somewhat similar. The excitement in Ireland had continued until the question of Reform began to be agitated in England. He had then been promised a sufficient Bill for Ireland, and a redress of grievances; and on this, much against his own judgment, he consented that agitation should cease. Accordingly, he used what influence he possessed with his countrymen—and he possessed none which did not appeal to their good sense and good feelings—and agitation was given up. Scotland had a good Reform Bill extended to her; but what was vouchsafed to Ireland? A miserable, insulting, paltry, degrading measure, one that was dastardly and mean, and told the people in what ignominy and contempt they were held by their rulers. The question of the Repeal of the Union was abandoned, or rather left to slumber until the sitting of the Reformed Parliament, in the expectation, as it would appear, of justice being, by its efforts, done to Ireland. He would, however, tell the House for himself, that he never, for his own part, placed reliance on the promises that were made: he never did really think that justice would be done. The end had fully justified his forebodings, for he had come over from Ireland with the list of her grievances; he had declared them aloud to that House, and he had been met by the clause in the Address which called for the means to add to those grievances immeasurably. Had the Ministers and that House listened to the earnest petitions of Ireland for redress? If they had redressed her grievances, he need not tell the House how they would have been requited by the feelings of the people of Ireland, nor how they would have stood before that country. They would have fixed the waverers, and have confirmed the loyal. But as it was, he (Mr. O'Connell) knew not to what extent the feelings of those people would carry them. When he heard the Speech from the 494 Throne, he nearly lost his senses, but he was determined not to be shaken or to be turned from his purpose. Not one of his forebodings—not one of his expectations had been denied by that Speech. If they called changing the form in which tithes were to be paid enough to satisfy the nation—if the Church was to be kept up in the same state, with the same staff and the same emoluments—it was but a repetition of the miserable joke of "Joe Miller" about the soldier and the drummer. What did he care—what did it matter—whether they flogged high or flogged low, if they flogged the people of Ireland at all? He had stated the grievances of Ireland, and called for redress. Redress was denied, and the Repeal of the Union was looked to There were many men in Ireland—rational, thinking men—who had not hitherto joined in the cry, who, after reading this Speech, would do so. Were the people of Ireland so degraded that they would attend to no reasoning—that argument must have no weight—but that they must be checked and put down by the witchcraft of unconstitutional warfare? The right hon. Secretary called upon the repealers for their arguments much after the fashion of the beggar in Gil Blas, who asked for alms by the roadside with his gun elevated. The right hon. Secretary had his gun of coercion in the Address, and then asked the Repealers for the arguments which were to draw down the fire from it. He thought much might be said in favour of the Repeal, and though he would not enter at length into his own opinions, he would state to the House the opinions which some eminent men had delivered respecting the Union:—'I cannot forget, said one, the unprincipled means by which the Union is promoted. The measure tends to degrade the country, by saying that it is unworthy to govern itself. It is the denial of the rights of nations to a great country, from jealousy of her prosperity.' Who said this? It was no mean authority. It was a Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He would next prove, by the highest authority, that there was no legal right to establish the Union:—'You may make the Union binding in law, but you cannot render it obligatory in conscience. Obedience may be enforced as long as England continues powerful, and during the same time resistance will be a question of prudence.' Who said that? No less 495 a man than Mr. Saurin, who was for twenty-five years, Attorney General for Ireland. I deny, said another great man, the competency of Parliament to effect this Union. I warn you, that if you pass an Act for that purpose, no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it. I make this assertion deliberately; and I call upon any man who hears me to take down my words. Yourselves you may extinguish, but the Parliament you cannot. It is enthroned in the hearts of the people, and is as immortal as the island in which it exists. It is as vain for us to think that we can destroy the Legislature of Ireland, as it is for the frantic maniac, who destroys his body, to imagine that he can extinguish his eternal soul.' Who said that? A man who was afterwards Attorney General, and who is now Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Let hon. Members not imagine that the Union was not a subject which rankled in the breast of Irishmen. The Union was brought about by the foulest means ever employed in political jobbing; and he would read to the House a few short sentences in support of this assertion. The basest corruption was resorted to to produce it. All the worst passions of the human breast were set in motion; all the worst acts were employed to bring it about.' This was the language of Chief Justice Bushe. He hoped he had now established his proposition by the extracts which he had read. But he was told it was impossible that the Union could be repealed, because another regency question might arise. What weight was there in this objection? Was not the regency question a new one? There was a King insane, his successor of full age; the Minister opposed the claims of the latter, and the opposition supported them. It was possible that the Irish Parliament might have taken a different view of the question from the English Parliament; but what great embarrassment and danger would have arisen from that? The King de facto of England would necessarily have been the King of Ireland. He had merely alluded to this point in order to show the miserable grounds on which it was attempted to obtain a triumph over him. Some financial details were introduced into the discussion of last week, and the hon. member for Knaresborough had given the House some admirable specimens of vulgar arithmetic in comparing 496 the Irish imports in 1800 and 1825, with the view of giving the balance in favour of the latter year. If he (Mr. O'Connell) wished to enter into this subject at the present moment, he could show the hon. Member that the difference in the official value, between the two periods, amounted to ninety per cent. He could prove that the imports of Ireland were greater in 1800 than in 1827, whilst those of England were much greater in the latter period than in the former. Take, for instance, six articles—namely, tea, tobacco, rum, brandy, wine, and sugar. In 1790, the value of these articles imported into England amounted to 37,000,000l.; in 1800, to 47,000,000l.; and in 1827, to 71,000,000l.; exhibiting a regular progressive increase. The value of the same articles imported into Ireland in 1790 amounted to 7,000,000l.; in 1800, under her own Parliament, it was 12,000,000l.; exhibiting an increase of one-third, whilst in the case of England during the corresponding period the increase was not one-fourth; in 1827 the importations fell back to 9,000,000l. If he were wrong in his facts, he hoped hon. Members would show that he was. He would yield to argument, but not to brutal force. If the law be infringed in the prosecution of the question of Repeal, let that infringement be punished, but let no attempts be made to suppress discussion. He would refer to another point on which injustice had been done to Ireland. According to the Treaty of the Union, Ireland was to pay only 67,000,000l. of the debt. Three years of domestic peace, under a domestic Legislature, would have enabled her to pay off that sum. In 1817, however, the Imperial Parliament passed an Act which repealed the protection that Ireland had derived from the Articles of the Union with respect to the debt, and all the land and industry of Ireland was mortgaged for the payment of the national debt. And why did they do so? Because they had the power. And what was their justification? Oh, it was irresistible. They were right—parceque les plus forts, ont toujours raison. Therefore, when the present Government spoke of coercing Ireland, there was something in it which might be directed to the sympathies of Englishmen. Their pockets might be touched, a quarter in which they were particularly sensitive; he spoke this in no disrespectful mood towards the English 497 character, which might proudly compete with that of any other nation, but he submitted that what he stated was a fact which could not be controverted. Well, assuming this as a fact, all he wanted was, to be allowed to argue this same question with the people of England. Were they to be coerced because they talked of their own affairs—because they sought for means to bettor their own condition, and save that of other people from getting worse? Who, in Scotland, lowered the condition of her people, by working almost for nothing? The wretch flung from Ireland. Who filled the factories all over England, and reduced the already too low rate of wages? The outcast of Ireland. Who made the Poor-rates so burthensome? The Irish; not casually, but he confessed it, designedly. Who brought such misery and ruin on the agricultural labourer? The forlorn Irishman coming even from the wilds of Connaught, a distance of 500 or 600 miles, and slaving for that which an English labourer would turn from with disgust. This was extending, day after day, to town after town, as it were reproaching England with her injustice to Ireland. What Gentleman would introduce a plan for getting rid of this growing curse? There was no remedy but a Repeal of the Union, or, as some persons thought, the enactment of Poor-laws. And when he ventured to express an opinion on this subject, he had been taken to task by the noble Lord (Lord Ebrington). Now, the noble Lord was the last man in the House from whom he should have expected such an attack. And when he heard him reproach him, he (Mr. O'Connell) felt convinced of the absolute necessity of a local legislature. The hon. Gentleman opposite contended, that Ireland must be devoted to Poor-laws; but, for the sake of the rich, he resisted them. A Poor-law in Ireland would be a sort of Agrarian Law. It would be a confiscation of property to every rich man. This system of plunder might, indeed, enable the poor to exist for a couple of years; but what was to follow? There was no need of a reply. When, therefore, he said he resisted Poor-laws for the sake of the rich, he did so really for the sake of the poor, for the safety of the State, for the maintenance of civil society. Aye, but they were not going to give Ireland their own system of Poor-laws; the system was to be changed—to be improved. Yes, but 498 would they first take the trouble to improve their own Poor-laws? They knew right well that they could not be improved. In Ireland, he repeated, they might, by confiscating the property of the rich, maintain the poor for a year or two. Let them, therefore, throw Ireland their admirable Poor-laws; but let them expect first the destruction of the capital of the rich, and the employment of the poor; next, a regular servile war; and, lastly, the ruin of Ireland. And, touching agitation—they deprecated agitation—they detested it—they fulminated proclamations, and instituted prosecution after prosecution to put it down. Were they so blind as not to see that agitation would increase a hundred-fold after the passing of the Poor-laws for Ireland? And what had the Government gained by those proclamations and persecutions from which they promised to refrain? In a letter of my Lord Anglesey's, dated November, 1830, that noble Lord declared he would govern by no such means. In January, 1831, he used them. Lord Anglesey possessed, no doubt, all that chivalry which was the glory of a British soldier. All men gave him credit for it; and, at the same time, all men knew that, according to the high code of military honour, the word of a soldier was as binding as the oath of a civilian. And yet mark the facts. Lord Anglesey had solemnly promised—Lord Anglesey had deliberately broken that promise! He might attempt to equivocate out of the trammels of this charge; but if he did so, the attempt would be regarded in the same light as if it occurred in the case of a civilian. It would be treated with contempt. The noble Lord, too, had prosecuted the Press with unexampled fury. For one instance, there was the ease of the Waterford Chronicle. Not only was the proprietor imprisoned, but the wretched mechanic who printed the paper. Now he would give them a warning. Let them attend to what he said—for he meant it, and he would give them the advantage of a warning. If they assailed the Press, there should be a run for gold. He gave them that notice. He denied that he had ever hitherto recommended such a course, though the contrary had been asserted—but let them assail the Press, and a run should commence on the Bank. The maxim on which the Government seemed to go was, that the country was to be ruined for its good. 499 The Government was to be feared first before it could be loved. Were they quite sure of this? Were they sure their measures would have the effect of inducing Ireland to fear? Did not they know that there were Irishmen in all quarters of the world, awaiting the calm and happier hour which might permit them to return to their native country; and would not the baleful words of the right hon. Secretary, be borne wide as the winds to them wherever they might be? Were they so secure, he would ask, of trampling Ireland under foot? Would English reformers sanction the Robespierrian atrocities which they meditated? Besides, were they quite tranquil and free from care at home? Had they no starving manufacturers, no unemployed labourers—no unquiet spirits in England? He bade them pause, and consider well before they commenced their system of coercion upon Ireland. Would the Government put forth a proclamation of war, and slaughter, and devastation, against the people of Ireland? Were their passions to be roused, and their terrors to be excited for the safety of wives, and daughters, brothers, sons, and husbands, and all their nearest and dearest kindred? There were 100,000 Irish persons in the city of London itself. He was able to prove it. He menaced not—he merely stated facts [laughter]. He believed, after all, that it was a menace in spite of him. He had detained the House at considerable length. He did not regret it, because it was one day more of liberty for Ireland. He had only to say that there had never been an instance of so deep ingratitude, as that of the reformers of England in becoming the persecutors of the reformers of Ireland.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, that in rising to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman, he acknowledged he felt himself in a difficult situation. He felt so, because he knew he was not able to meet the eloquence and power of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but this he would say of himself that he did not yield to any one whatever in the respect and attachment he felt to his country. He should not attempt to go into the question of personal attacks, but he should follow step by step the hon. and learned Gentleman in the statements which he had made upon the question of the Union itself. He thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman for those statements—he thanked him for thus at last coming- 500 forward and endeavouring to prove, in the proper place, before the Legislature of the United Kingdom, that the Union of the two kingdoms had been productive of evil to Ireland. In discussing this question with the hon. and learned Gentleman, he should not touch one point with reference to the interests of England, for on the part of England there had not been a suggestion of a wish for the Repeal. It was, therefore, unnecessary to go into any argument to show how the interests of England were affected by the proposed Repeal, and he should, consequently confine himself to the question as it related to Ireland. He would beg first to say a few words in defence of the party to which he had always been attached, and of the Government of which he had the honour to be a member. He had fondly hoped that the terms Catholic and Protestant would never have been heard in that House again as terms of invidious distinction; and in the very first Session, when Catholics were admitted to seats within those walls, he had called an hon. Gentleman, no longer a Member of that House (General Grosvenor) to order, because, in reference to the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, he had styled him the Catholic member for Clare. Unfortunately, however, the House was but too much accustomed to hear that distinction. He did not apply this observation to the hon. and learned Gentleman more particularly than to other hon. Members, perhaps at both sides of the House—Hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.But when the hon. and learned Gentleman attacked the Whigs, could be forget the conduct of that party in the political history of his country? He would not put the conduct of that party against a measure proposed by them, and ask the hon. and learned Member to vote for the measure, if he disapproved of it, merely because it was proposed by that party; but then, on the other hand, it surely might be conceded, that a man could object to a particular measure of theirs, without taking that opportunity of indulging in vituperation against the whole party. Who had been members of that party? Was not Mr. Molyneux one of the Whigs of Ireland? The hon. and learned Gentleman thought they were wrong in claiming Mr. Grattan as one of their number—their claim, however, was well founded and to his name they might 501 add those of many others. What was the conduct of Mr. Grattan? Why he would at any time lend his support to the measures of his opponents, if he thought those measures would prove beneficial to Ireland; and in examining them, in order to make up his mind, he would lay aside all considerations of the party of the men from whom they emanated. This fact was proved by an extract which he should read from a speech of Mr. Grattan's delivered in 1808 or 1809. He should read some few words from that speech, and then allow the Gentlemen on the other side, who might have been led astray for the moment, by the bold assertions of hon. Members, to form their own judgment Upon the man, who, by the admission of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, was one than whom a truer friend of political liberty, or a more steady defender of popular rights, never existed. The words were these: "Sooner than run the risk of losing the Constitution altogether, he would take upon himself his full share in common with his Majesty's Ministers, (these Ministers were his political opponents, the Tories), of the responsibility that was attached to the measure." Was not that judging of a measure by its real merits, and giving his support to it, if it were good, without any party considerations as to who were the men that proposed it? When the hon. and learned member for Dublin bolted out big assertions about murder, and slaughter, and devastation; assertions which he wished not only to produce their effect in that House, but to send out with all the weight that his name could give to them to the 100,000 whom he had described as within hearing, to whom he suggested that the announcement of the resolution of the Government would bring tidings of death to their sons, their fathers, and their mothers—when he did this, did he think he was imitating the conduct of Mr. Grattan? How was it that the hon. and learned Member pretended to know, and ventured to impugn the intentions of Government? What right had he to do so? Let the hon. and learned Member make his case good when the Bill came into the House, and he should be ready to meet that case? What right had the hon. and learned Member to attribute to them a desire for war and destruction, when those imputations could at least as fairly be cast upon him as by him on any among 502 the Ministry? The hon. and learned Member had attacked all the Whigs, therefore he had attacked Lord Charlemont and Mr. Grattan ["No," from Mr. O'Connell]; he had attacked them, for he had attacked, without discrimination, the party to which they belonged. There were in that House descendants of those illustrious men: there were within hearing men who bore their great and honoured names, and who could tell them to what party these patriots did belong. What was it they had done for Ireland? Had they not given her a Constitution in 1780? And what was it that the party to which they belonged had done for Ireland? Who was it that first submitted the Question of Catholic Emancipation to discussion? Charles James Fox. And who was it but the party which he led that had maintained the interests of Ireland, when those who now represented her interests were, by the state of the law, prevented from sitting in that House. If he asked, who had done the greatest service to Ireland—who, since the Union, had laboured incessantly for her benefit—where was the man. Whig or Tory, that would deny it was the venerable, the honest, the consistent Sir John Newport? Always at his post, and always anxious to promote the advantage of Ireland ["No," from Mr. O'Connell. The hon. and learned Member dissented, and the reason probably was, that in these very walls, when he was about to close his parliamentary career, he left to his countrymen the warning, that if they were led astray by delusions, practised upon them to seek for the Repeal of the Union, they would be seeking for the Repeal of a measure from which had flowed to them the highest advantages, and would be forfeiting all the benefits which he and others had so anxiously laboured to obtain for them, and all their hopes of political improvement must terminate for ever. The right hon. Baronet had concluded his political life with that warning; and perhaps the dissent of the hon. and learned Member opposite, and his shake of the head might be easily accounted for by the weight which he had felt belonged to an opinion coming from such a quarter. There was one authority which, with respect to this argument about the conduct and character of the Whigs, he should like to mention, and he called the particular attention of the House, who had heard 503 an account of the dements of the present Ministry, to that authority. The statement he was about to quote was made on the 22nd of June, 1831. The speaker from whom he should quote, said; The Ministers should have his disinterested support, as he thought them entitled to the support of every independent Member, for they had manifested not only an intention of Reforming abuses, but they had practically set about the good work.'* On the 10th of May, 1832, when the present Ministry were about to retire from office, a debate came on in which the same speaker said, that The Ministry have retired from office, but they have done so with their characters pure and unsullied, and they have done so with the public confidence in them undiminished. Soon, Sir, I hope to see them returning again to power—to power which they have endeavoured to exercise for the good of the people, and which I hope they will be enabled to wield much more efficiently and effectually than they have yet been able to do, for the permanent and full accomplishment of the desires, the wishes, and the just demands, of a great, an enlightened, and a brave people.† He must trouble the House with another quotation from a speech delivered on May 14th by the same person. He then said, speaking of the resignation of the Ministry: Whoever could replace us in the situation in which we were a week ago would be a most bountiful benefactor to his country. The spirit of Revolution was abroad; and if it were allowed to pass a certain stage, it would be difficult to check it. Like the pestilence with which the country had lately been visited, if it were not arrested at an early stage, cure might be impossible. At present there was still hope that means might be found to heal the body politic. Let but a little time elapse, and he would be a bold man who would predict the event. Hundreds of thousands and millions of persons depended for their subsistence on the regular working of society; on receiving wages; on being employed. Let but the present state of things continue for a few days, and they must either starve, or do mischief. Let but a single week elapse, and Revolution, and the utter destruction of the beautiful fabric around*Hansard (third series) ix. p. 249.†Ibid, xii. p.848.504 us might be the consequence. And if this danger existed in England, was there no other part of the empire in danger? Did the House think that a change of Administration, which would give power in Ireland to those who did not possess it at present, might not be productive of frightful events, especially if that change were accompanied by disturbances in this country?'* That was the evidence to which he now applied himself in answer to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he did it with the more confidence, because he read the statements from the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. He (Mr. Spring Rice) thought that upon the principle of mathematics these two quantities destroyed each other, and they had no right perhaps, at least they had no disposition, to forget the praise and retort the vituperation. Did the hon. Member not know, when he spoke of the neglect of Ireland, that a single measure introduced during the disputed progress of the Reform Bill was not capable of being satisfactorily discussed; but though that was the fact with one question, was there not one of importance that had been actually carried? Was the question of education nothing? How numerous had been the statements of the hon. and learned Gentleman on that subject? The present Government alone had ventured to grapple with it, and had produced a measure which had met even with the assent of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It was indeed opposed by others. That they should say, the Ministry were wrong, was natural; but that the conduct of the Ministry should now be unsparingly, and without limit, attacked by those who through them had obtained that which they had asked for during many years, was to him matter of extreme surprise. But were there no other measures? He thought there were; and that brought him to a particular point. The hon. and learned Member had dealt with financial statements. He (Mr. Spring Rice) should like to know what was the tax of all others, the repeal of which was advocated by the friends of Ireland? It was the Coal tax. The Coal-tax had been mentioned in all the petitions on the subject of the taxes in Ireland; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman looked through the Journals of the House of*Hansard (third series) xii. p. 973.505 Commons, he would see that within the last three years the petitions had especially applied themselves to this tax. He should now take a view of the financial state of the country before and after the Union. The hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken as if Ireland had been prosperous before the Union, and had decayed since; as if she had had before the Union a careful, prudent, a kind Legislature, but had since had a careless, unkind, and partial Legislature. Before the Union the financial condition of Ireland stood thus. The details must necessarily be dull, but they were important. The right hon. Gentleman then read the following statement:—
|At the period of the Union, the total net and permanent Income payable into the Exchequer, was||1,860,792|
|The interest of the Debt and Charge||1,395,753|
|The balance to meet the Public Expenditure, Civil and Military||465,039|
§ in 1791, the income was 1,190,000l.; the expense during the same time, was 1,153,000l. Ten years afterwards her expenses had increased in the ratio of nearly double her income; for, at that time, her income was 2,684,000l., and her expenditure 5,893,000l. As a practical test of the whole, he had stated, that, taking the interest of the debt, and the charges for Ireland at the time of the Union, they left no greater surplus than 4,600,000l. to meet the expenses of the whole civil, military, and political Government of Ireland. That was the starting point. Was it possible for any one to say that such a surplus was sufficient for such a purpose? Perhaps there were some reasoners who thought that Ireland might be permitted to retain all her income, and that England ought to bear the expense of all these charges. That would be like Sir Boyle Roche's description of an Irish bargain, where all the mutuality was on 506 one side. He came then to the period of the consolidation of the Exchequer. At the time the balance of the debt was struck, the interest and charges of the permanent debt of Ireland amounted to 5,908,891l. To meet those charges was an income of 5,752,861l.; so that the country had nothing to do but to live, as some individuals among them were said to live, upon the deficiency of their income. Neither the state of things before the Union, nor when there was a separate Treasury, was such as to be calculated to induce any one who considered it to wish to return to it. At the time of the Union there were taxes on carriages, on horses, on servants, and there was a tax on what he would appeal to the speeches of Grattan for a description of, and to the recollection of those who had seen it collected, for an estimate of its misery—he meant the tax on hearths and on windows. These were not the creatures of an Imperial Parliament. Were they imposed by England on Ireland? No. It was a separate Legislature which had imposed them, and it was a British Legislature that had freed Ireland from the burthens. The separate Parliament had imposed difficulties upon the exportation of Irish produce. At that time there were Corn-laws between England and Ireland, as strict as they now were between England and the Continent. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman think, that the establishment of a free intercourse between the two countries could take place without benefit to Ireland? Was there any man who would not admit that it must be an advantage to the empire? That free intercourse had been the concession of the Imperial Parliament, as the contrary system had been the creature of the separate Legislature. He knew it had been said, that the amount of exports only proved the poverty of the land. How could that be? The export represented labour—the produce was grown by the peasantry, who did not work without being paid for it. Was not the measure of these exports the direct measure of the increased demand for labour; which after all, was the thing most wanted in Ireland? But to return to the taxes. Did hon. Gentlemen know the amount of taxes which England had paid in this most unexampled and unjust proportion, and from all of which Ireland had been exempted? England had paid— 507
|Tax on property and income from 1801||152,258,710|
|Produce of land and assessed taxes from 1823, when those taxes were repealed in Ireland||50,120,425|
|Making a total of separate taxation on Great Britain of||333,741,861|
§ to contribute to which she had never called on Ireland. He did not argue against his country in stating these things; but he was not the worse Irishman for wishing to do full justice to England. He knew that it would have been unwise and unjust in England to have imposed these taxes on Ireland; but when he was told that England had utterly disregarded the interests of Ireland, he must honestly state what he knew to the contrary. Whatever might be said as to the question of exports, the same observation would probably not be made with regard to imports; and if they found an increased consumption of the necessaries of life, they were justified in saying that improvement had taken place in the condition of the people. The imports and exports of Ireland, then were as follows:—
§ In 1827, the account was defective, because the trade of Ireland having been freed from Custom-house regulations, so far as regarded this country, there were no entries of goods imported from England, and consequently no documents could be furnished. Well, but then he knew it was said that the blanket and stuff trade had been destroyed, and the people of Ireland had been told that that was one of the consequences of the Union. Ireland imported the materials of her manufactures, and he would show how the wool importation had gone on. The following was an account of the importation:— 508
|Average of three years.||Woollen yarn.||Cotton yarn.||Cotton wool.|
§ He wished his hon. friend, the member for Bolton, were there to hear this statement, and see how he could treat it—he who had discovered that the only alarming evil which Ireland ought especially to take care to shun was the getting rich. She must not have too much capital. His hon. friend had now come in; but he should not be tempted by that circumstance to do more than make this passing observation on his very capital Speech. From the statement he had just made, it was evident that Ireland could do something in manufactures. But on that point he was encountered by another very great authority, the hon. member for Oldham, whose argument was, that in proportion as there was a consumption of raw produce for the purpose of manufactures, in that very proportion was misery increased. He was afraid, if that doctrine was true, that he should give some coiour to the opinion about the increased misery of Ireland, by showing an increased consumption of the raw materials of manufactures. During the same time, the importation of cotton wool had increased, as he had already observed, from 428,000 lbs. to 4,368,000 lbs.; all of which was to be manufactured by Irish labour, that would not have been employed if the absurd system of protecting duties existing before the Union had been continued, and which would no doubt be again called for if that Union was repealed. It might perhaps be said, that the improvement which had taken place in the cotton, and woollen manufactures had taken place at the expense of the linen trade, which was the staple manufacture of Ireland. That, however, was not the case. Nothing was more common at the present moment than to raise a cry that a particular branch of the trade was declining, when, in fact, there was only a diminution of profit. The table which he would now read would prove that there had been no decline of 509 the linen trade in Ireland, whilst, at the same time, there was a manifest improvement in the cotton trade:—
|Period.||Linen Yards Exported.||Yards Exported Cotton.|
§ The hon. and learned member for Dublin, and the hon. member for Oldham, should see these documents, if they wished; or should have them laid on the Table, if either of the hon. Members moved for them. That which he had stated was not vague declamation, but plain truth; for his aim was to convince and not to mislead. Under a system of free trade, Ireland had become a manufacturing and exporting country. There were certain branches of manufacture more advantageous to one country than to another. In one, hand-labour was cheaper; in the other, fuel being plentiful, labour was performed by steam; and, what was still more interesting, a manufacture of which the earlier stages could be best done in Ireland, could be best completed in England; and that led to the principle that the interests of the countries were not two, but one. The article that was begun at Belfast was completed at Manchester; and if he could show that the interest of both was bound up in the same object in some measure, he obtained a pledge for the peace and repose of the two countries. Were they to break asunder these bands of union—were they to say, that Belfast must no longer begin, nor Manchester finish, but that each must do that which would be better performed by the other—that each were to be actuated by hostile interests, and not to pursue a common good—and that all this was to be the result of the weak endeavour to work out a local salvation by the operation of petty and mistaken principles? Repeal the Union indeed! When that was said to Mr. Canning, his answer properly was: "Repeal the Union? Restore the Heptarchy!" And truly the one was not a more impracticable absurdity than the other. England, even in her most barbarous times, never committed such mistakes. When the men of Kent, led 510 by a leader whom he would not name, for fear of giving offence, advanced upon London, they and their leaders never dreamt of raising the standard of Hen-gist and of Horsa. Let us, therefore, at least not surpass the absurdities of the Kentish rebels. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose, that the interests and the comforts of the people of Ireland had retrograded since the Union, in consequence of the taxation which had been levied upon the necessaries of life. He denied the truth of that supposition. Undoubtedly, the taxes which had been levied upon manufactured articles of consumption had led to a diminished sale; the progression had not been so rapid as it otherwise would have been; but, in the articles of tea, sugar, coals, and tobacco, upon which the comforts of the poor depended, there had been a most material increase of consumption, although the tax upon each article, with the exception of coals, had been very considerably increased since the period of the Union. If he proved this fact, he should completely refute the argument of the hon. Gentleman. To begin, then, with the article of sugar, the consumption of which, in his apprehension, though it might not so appear to others, was more indicative than any other which he could select of the real condition of the country. In 1777 an average was taken of the preceding year, and that average was found to yield but an annual import of 212,000 cwt.; while, at the present time, it would be found that the average import was 342,000 cwt. This advance, be it observed, had taken place in the very face of an increasing taxation. He was sustained by similar facts with regard to the article of tea. In the year 1777, the importation of tea was 808,000 lbs., while the average of the present time was 3,887,995 lbs. He was aware that this mode of treating the subject could not but prove extremely dry and uninteresting to the House, but it was the only mode of grappling with it by which he could present his own views in the fairest and the strongest light. Hon. Gentlemen had said, and might continue to say, that Ireland was not a coal country. That might or might not make for the argument; but the quantity actually consumed was very material. In the three years ending 1777, the quantity of coal imported amounted to but 330,000 tons; and in 511 the year 1783, being the first year of Irish independence, the consumption was 227,000. It was rather stationary between that time and the Union. From the year 1800, then, to the present time, the consumption had gone on gradually increasing. The average of the three years, ending 1832, yielded a consumption of 851,000 tons; and the single year of 1831 had to itself a consumption of 940,000 tons. He was aware that hon. Members might tell him that the consumption of tea and sugar proved nothing with regard to the actual condition of the poor and degraded peasantry of Ireland; but it was to the last degree unstatesmanlike to assume that the condition of the lower classes was not advancing, when the state of the middle and higher classes was in a state of evident progression. But there was one article of consumption which was essentially a favourite of the people. That article could have no consumption whatever, unless created by the lower classes of the Irish peasantry. He found that the advance of that article was as follows. The right hon. Member read the following table:—
|Periods.||Home Spirits.||Triennial Periods.||Home Spirits.|
§ This then was the consumption of whiskey. The advocates of Repeal had throughout the few arguments which the House had heard from them on the subject, taken for granted that England had done nothing for Ireland, and had shown an unfriendly, and even hostile spirit towards that country. He believed there was not an impartial and intelligent man in the country who would not be willing to admit, that England had done a great deal for Ireland. He admitted that it was the duty of England so to act; but it did not therefore follow, that Ireland should shut her eyes to the fact. At the period of the Unions a contract was entered into between the two legislatures to pay a sum of 63,000l. for a period of six years, these payments to be 512 derived from votes of the Imperial Parliament, and handed over for the purposes arranged under that agreement. These sums were to be devoted to the advancement of charity, literature, and manufactures in Ireland. This sum of 63,000l. was estimated according to an average taken on the six years antecedent to the Union. This sum, in twenty years, amounted to 1,465,000l. He would ask the House whether the Imperial Parliament had or had not performed its contract? If the Imperial Parliament had violated its pledge, the advocates of Union might very consistently call out, "Repeal!" But what was the fact? The Imperial Parliament had, instead of confining itself to 1,465,000l., actually voted for those purposes in Ireland no less than 6,979,000l. The account stood thus:—
|Sums voted before the Union, for encouragement of manufactures, charity, and schools||73,277|
|To this the Legislature stood pledged for twenty years—such grants would have been||1,465,540|
|The amount granted by the Imperial Parliament has been||6,979,000|
|Thus the excess granted by Parliament since the Union is||5,513,460|
§ But that was not all; and mark, that such was the disposition of this traduced Imperial Parliament to promote, as far as it was in the power of a Legislature, the social improvement of Ireland, that even the hon. member for Middlesex, who was the economist of the public money all over the world, did not seriously oppose those grants. The following sums, then, were expended in public works in Ireland since the Union, either by loan, gift, or otherwise, in addition to the large sums which he had just quoted:
|Loans from Consolidated fund—roads, harbours, boards of health, bridges, relief and employment of poor, &c.||6,432,105||3||10½|
§ of which no less a sum than 564,000l. 0s. 2d. was for public works and employment of the poor. There was another item connected with this outlay of the public money well worth notice—he meant the expense to the public consequent upon the Cholera visitation. In England but 12,072l. of the public money was thus employed; in Ireland, the cost to the public was not less than 164,324l.; a fact 513 which, in itself, spoke volumes as to the indisposition of the Government towards relieving the wants of Ireland as compared with England. The sums, then, expended on Ireland since the Union stood thus:—
|Charitable and literary institutions||4,225,750|
|Encouragement of agriculture and manufactures||4,340,421|
|Public works and employment of poor||3,072,160|
|Cholera expenses in England||£12,072|
§ But even that was not all. They all recollected the public works (Ireland) Bill of last Session, which the learned Gentleman prophesied would be of no practical use whatever—that it was, in truth, a mere delusion. But what was the fact? He was happy to say, that not less than 819,451l. 1s. 9d. had been applied in the internal improvement of Ireland, and furnishing employment to its poor. In illustration of this statement Mr. Rice read the following document:—