|Loans for works carrying on under special Acts of Parliament—bridges, docks, harbours, canals, and roads||167,949||19||2|
|Loans to companies and individuals—quarries, mines, drainage||11,800||0||0|
|Loans on security of countyrates||36,812||18||9|
|Grants—piers and roads||9,700||3||0|
|Loans—Applications received and sanctioned||216,562||17||11|
|Loans—recommended and before the Treasury||750||0||0|
|Loans—not fully concluded, but under consideration||297,866||19||6|
|Grants—Applications received and sanctioned||9,700||3||0|
§ Before he sat down, he begged to say 514 that there were two points on which he was anxious not to be mistaken and misrepresented—not in that House, for there he could defend and explain himself—but out of doors, where he might have a less dispassionate set of commentators to deal with. It might be said, in the first place, that he had quoted these facts, which so irrefragably proved that much had been done for Ireland, by the Imperial Legislature since the Union, with a view to thereby deny the existence of extreme poverty in that country. He meant no such conclusion. In common with every man at all acquainted with the real state of the working classes in Ireland, he could but lament their destitute condition. But was that destitute condition the product of the Union? Would the repeal of that Union remedy it? He confidently answered both questions in the negative. If they consulted the journals of the Irish Parliament—if they believed (he statements of the generations which had gone before them, they would learn that distress was a too common occurrence among the Irish artizans and labourers. They would also learn another very important fact—that the apparent prosperity of some local manufactures in Ireland was an entirely forced prosperity, contrary to every sound principle of political economy—the exclusive result of bounties and protecting duties. The next misconception he wished to guard against was, that it might be said that, having thus shown how much the Imperial Parliament had done for Ireland, he meant it to be inferred it was to stop there and do no more. He meant no such thing; all that he meant was, to deny, by the evidence of incontrovertible facts, that there existed any difference or want of affectionate sympathy on the part of the Parliament or people of England towards their Irish brethren. He should be the last man in the world to utter a word to diminish the sympathy, and kindness, and good feeling of the people of England towards the Irish. He warned the advocates of Repeal to beware how they stopped those sources of benevolence which the people of Ireland had hitherto enjoyed at the hands of the British nation. He warned those Gentlemen to beware, for, to use a metaphor powerfully turned to account by a distinguished countrymen of theirs, they might go about sowing dragons' teeth—but, if they succeeded, those seeds 515 might spring up armed men. They might for a season go abroad scattering hatred and ill-will, but if they grew up into Revolution, they would themselves be the first victims. Four years ago, when he attempted to force the learned Gentleman into a discussion of the question of Repeal (the learned Gentleman must recollect that he told him that if he was sincere in his declarations it was far more manly, as well as becoming him as a legislator, to discuss that question calmly on its real merits, on the floor of that House, than to vaguely declaim about it to the hurlers of Tipperary),—he told the learned Gentleman what he would then emphatically repeat—namely, that the question of a Repeal of the Union was a question of separation of England from Ireland—that the question of separation meant the destruction of the British monarchy in Ireland, and the setting up in its stead a republic of the worst kind, of which moreover its founders would be the very first victims. Of course, as soon as the hon. and learned Member, and the 104 others were installed as the new House of Commons for Ireland, they would set about forming a new Constitution; and it had been generally said, if not avowed, that one of the first measures of the Irish Parliament would be to impose a tax of seventy-five per cent on absentees. But did it never strike anybody, that in that stormy society, some one might possibly be found just to hint or whisper that the King of England himself was an absentee? He was satisfied that the Repeal of the Union could only end in separation, and separation in ruin. The hon. and learned Member had contended again, that strong measures would lead to civil war; but the object of Ministers was not to excite commotion, but to strengthen the law—to avert, not to provoke the threatened evil. The right hon. Member, concluded by saying that he dealt not with the motives of those who advocated the Repeal of the Union, but with the tendency of their actions; and, so dealing with them "God defend us,' "he said, "from the consequences of their proceedings," convinced, as he was, that if those Gentlemen succeeded, ruin would fall not only on Ireland but on the whole empire.
§ Mr. Cobbett
Having been in some measure called upon by the hon. Member who has just sat down, I shall trouble the House with a few observations, and 516 I promise not to trespass long upon its attention. With regard to the question of the dissolution of the Union, and the consequences to which it may lead, upon those matters I offer no opinion. I have never thought of the subject sufficiently to warrant my giving an opinion upon it; but the right hon. Member (Mr. Rice) seems to think that I was in error in the principles I put forth the other night in answer to the hon. member for Knares-borough (Mr. Richards). It was not of principles I spoke. I made use of no arguments. I offered no opinions—they were facts that I stated. I said, in answer to his observation relative to the increase of trade in Ireland, that all which he stated, might be very true, and still the people be in great misery; aye, and in greater misery in proportion to the increase of trade. I mentioned, from certain information, one of these days to be laid before a Committee of this House, to be proposed by my hon. Colleague, that in proportion as the cotton trade of Manchester increased, in that proportion the profits of the master manufacturer declined, and the misery of the workman augmented. But there were doctrines advanced, and principles laid down by the hon. Gentleman, which I must take this opportunity of contesting. He laid it down as a principle, that because the exports of Ireland had increased, and because those exports were produced by Irish labour—because they represented Irish labour—that, therefore, it was a proof of the prosperity and of the increasing prosperity of Ireland. Push that argument home, and you will find it exactly suits the Negroes of Jamaica. What! did ever any one hear that the happiness of the Negroes increased in proportion to the increase of the demand for sugar? On the contrary, all who have ever advocated the abolition of Negro slavery have constantly asserted that, in proportion to the demand for labour was the lash inflicted. I appeal to the books and publications on the subject; and I remember a passage in one of them to this effect: "The price of sugar has been announced to be so and so; dreadful orders have therefore been issued; the hours of labour are to be so many more, and the lash is to be called into additional activity." There was little exaggeration, perhaps, in what fell from Mr. Cropper, of Liverpool, not long ago, when he said that there was no prospect of abolition as long as Parliament 517 did not interfere: that, in proportion to the increased demand for cotton was the increased infliction of the lash to quicken the labour of the Negro. But, upon this point, I will not fatigue the House with details. The great evil of Ireland is, that her produce is all sent out of her land. You may talk as long as you please about the benefits of her exports. I remember the late Primate of Ireland living for twenty years in the parish of Fulham; during the whole of that time, he was receiving his immense revenues from Ireland. He died worth 300,000l. in personal property; having been a younger son without hereditary estates. Where did it all come from? Why, from Ireland, to be sure-Ireland, poor Ireland, had enabled this Archbishop to leave behind him 300,000l. besides what he annually spent. When people talk of the faults of Ministers I do not mean to say that they have not done all that was possible to ameliorate the lot of Ireland. They have always done it; and why should they not? It is their duty. It is the interest of Ministers to keep Ireland tranquil, and to avoid all causes of disturbance. But that country can never be in a good state where grants from the Treasury are wanted to put industry in motion. And this is the history of Ireland—the whole of her produce and riches has been always drawn away. I was very much surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) exclaim the other night—" Ah! tell me this—have we imposed a Corn-law upon Ireland?" Gentleman, I take it, would hardly impose Corn-laws upon themselves. The land is theirs—the produce is theirs; the profit of the Church was theirs; and all is drawn away hither. They would be a strange sort of gentlemen, with less sagacity than I give them credit for, if they imposed Corn-laws upon Ireland. No, no; they lay Corn-laws upon a country where they have no land, where tithes and Church property are not theirs—there they impose Corn-laws, and pretty heavy ones, too. Another thing has been urged. It is said that England has paid such a mass of taxes, while Ireland has only paid so much. It is very shallow to put it in that way; if the produce of Ireland comes to England, the taxes of Ireland are paid in England. That is the real cause of the existing misery: the Irish do not gain the fruits of their labour—it comes here; here it is expended, and here it is 518 taxed: therefore it is not more fair to estimate the amount of taxes of Ireland, than to estimate the amount of taxes of Jamaica, when we know that the owners of estates in Jamaica are resident here, and are taxed here. There is very little difference in the two cases.
§ Mr. Robinson
remarked, that the head and front of the offending of Ministers against the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell) was, that they had inserted a paragraph in the King's Speech declaring a determination to support the Union; and no attempt to conciliate him would have the slightest effect as long as they stood in the way of his favourite project. He strongly objected to the line of conduct pursued by a certain portion of the House during the last week; it was calculated to impede public business, to sow distrust, and to lead the Irish to believe that there was a want of sympathy for their sufferings among the English Representatives. Why, in the face of the majority against him, did the learned Gentleman persevere in scattering the seeds of national discord among a generous but too confident people. No doubt the hon. member for Dublin had been bitterly disappointed by the result of the division the other night; his forty votes had caused him no little vexation, and the renewal to-night of the course pursued last week made it almost seem as if the object of the Irish Members was to disgust the English Members, and to drive them to a dissolution of the Union, in order to avoid the infliction of Hibernian oratory. Was it not monstrous for him to tell his countrymen, that it was in vain for them to seek for justice at the hands of Englishmen, and that the only remedy was a Repeal of the Union? Why so obstinately persevere in threatening every measure of relief not emanating from himself? Why, on no occasion, co-operate with Ministers in promoting the tranquillity, and thence the prosperity, of his native country? He was no partisan of the Ministers; but he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that they at least meant to do well for Ireland. Surely with such Ministers, and, still more, with a Parliament the complete representative of the public mind of England, it was not too much to wait till they had heard what their measures of relief were. Should those measures not prove as remedial as it was fair to expect they would be, then let the 519 learned Gentleman and his supporters come forward with their complaints and remedies, assured that they would not meet a deaf ear in a Reformed Parliament. He bad voted for the Address the other evening; he did not thereby pledge himself to support the coercive measures indicated in it. He would not support any coercive measures which did not go hand-in-hand with measures remedial of the grievances of Ireland. He was confident that, in saying that, he spoke the sentiments of very many of those who had voted against the learned Gentleman's Amendment. He agreed that the paragraph in the King's Speech, so much commented upon, might have been better worded; more might have been said about redress, and less about coercion; but, in voting for the Address, he did not consider himself at all pledged to support any measure of vigour that might be introduced. The Irish were a generous and a confiding people, and he believed that they would wait with patience for the remedy of their grievances, if the hon. and learned member for Dublin would but take half the pains to allay that he did to excite.
§ Mr. Richards
said, that he had heard so many references made, in the course of the debate, to what had fallen from him on the first night's discussion on the Address, that he hoped he might be permitted to make a few observations in explanation. He could assure those Irish Members who had found fault with what fell from him, that his observations on Ireland were dictated by the utmost sincerity. He was anxious to support the Government in any measures which he should think calculated to prevent that fatal measure—the dissolution of the Legislative Union; but he did not think himself pledged, by his vote on the Address, to support any coercive measures which Ministers might think it their duty to propose. Before he voted for such measures he should certainly give them a full and impartial consideration. Notwithstanding all that was said of the misgovernment of Ireland, he was convinced that the country was improving; and if the system of agitation which prevailed was put an end to it would improve much more. The hon. member for Oldham had thought proper to find fault with some of his observations. He said, they were; now too old to talk, as if they had no light from experience. He hoped he 520 was not quite so old as the hon. member for Oldham, but he could assure the hon. Member, that he had not shut out the light of experience. The hon. Member said, that his (Mr. Richards's) panacea for Ireland was Poor-laws, and though he was not now going to inflict a speech on the House on that subject, he might be allowed to say that he did recommend Poor-laws. But then came one of those pretty sophisms which might do very well in the hon. member for Oldham's Political Register, but which would not do in that House. The hon. Member said, that he charged Ministers with omitting to notice the distress which prevailed in England, whilst he recommended Poor-laws for Ireland, forgetting that there were Poor-laws in England, and that, despite of those laws, there was great distress. That there was much distress in England, was unfortunately too true; but that distress was owing to the bill introduced by the right hon. member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) for altering the currency, and not to the Poor-laws. He had incidentally noticed the increase in the exports of Ireland, and the reply of the hon. member for Oldham was, that if exports were a sign of prosperity, the population of the West-India colonies were most prosperous. The hon. Member had reasoned as if Jamaica and Ireland were in the same condition—omitting all notice of the main distinction, that in Ireland, labour was free, while, in Jamaica, it was performed by slaves. Consequently, an increased demand for the produce of the West Indies was attended with increased sufferings on the part of the Negroes, both of labour and punishment, but in Ireland, with the increased demand for labour began an increase of wages and of the fund destined to pay labour. To return to Ireland, one great disadvantage under which that country laboured was the reluctance which capitalists felt to lending money upon the security of property in that country. In one case he knew six per cent to have been refused by a capitalist, though well secured on an Irish estate, and when declining to lend on those terms in Ireland, that capitalist expressed his willingness to lend on English security at four per cent. If Poor-laws were introduced, and the country tranquillized, such distinctions would no longer be made by capitalists, and the trade of Ireland must increase.
§ Mr. John Browne
said, that as he and 521 his family had been grossly traduced by the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), it could not be wondered at if he made some observations on the conduct of that hon. and learned Gentleman. Putting aside personal considerations, however, he thought the time had arrived when every Irishman who had proper feelings of loyalty toward his King, and affection to his country, was bound to come boldly forward and declare his sentiments. The hon. member for Dublin had charged a respected relative of his (Mr. John Browne's) with cowardice—a charge which came very ill from the hon. and learned Gentleman. If any person in that House made a vow, under the most solemn circumstances, to pursue a certain course in life, he ought to have associated that vow with another, to speak charitably of all men. If the vow had been so accompanied, he (Mr. Browne) should honour it. If there was any man in that House having great power, and using that power in setting on an infatuated, reckless, and thoughtless people to acts of outrage and insubordination—if such a man urged on the people to attend tithe meetings, but skulked away from sharing the responsibility of attendance himself, such a man was one he would call a coward, and such a man ought to consider well how far the name was applicable to himself before he sought to affix it to others. It was peculiarly painful to him to make those observations, but his feelings had really been hurt by an attack made upon him in the tenderest point. He had been taunted, too, in another place, and charged with wanting courage, by a man who seemed to have come to the determination to insult every man, but not to give reparation to any. He was proud to say, that he stood in that House the representative of the county of Mayo, but he had not come in at the nod or beck of any man. He stood at his post, and refused to bow down to the Juggernaut of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member spoke, in a former night's debate, of the atrocities of the police, and referred to a murder committed in the county of Mayo. The hon. and learned Member's version of the transaction was, that the police, going round, met some women singing, and fired amongst them, and that, in that way, the public were butchered. He (Mr. Browne) had that day received some account of the transaction referred to, and it appeared 522 that the butchery which the police was charged with was an act of self-defence.
§ Mr. John Browne
proceeded. The verdict on the coroner's inquest was, "That the deceased, John M'Grath, had come to his death by a gun-shot wound, inflicted by Constable Webb, in defence of the lives of himself and his party." That was the verdict of the Coroner's Jury; but if it had been otherwise, it would not have been decisive of the merits of the case. Under certain circumstances Trial by Jury was a mockery. Jurors were told that if they gave any verdict but one, their lives would be endangered. Some extraordinary measures were necessary, therefore, to meet the exigencies of the case. In introducing such measures the Government should have his support; and he wished distinctly to declare that, in his opinion, no measure more fatal and more wanton could be agitated than the question of the Repeal of the Union.
§ Mr. Morgan O'Connell
did not mean to add any tiling to the general arguments used by other hon. members for Ireland, on the subject of the Address; he could not agree with those, however, who assumed that Ministers did not intend to resort to coercive and sanguinary measures. So long as Ministers refused to explain their intentions, he should take it for granted that they meant to introduce violent coercive measures. Much was said of the disturbed state of the country; he begged, however, to remind the House that Ireland was in a much more disturbed state a year and a half ago, than it was at present, and that the disturbances at that period had been suppressed by the regular course of law, without resorting to extraordinary measures. Nothing was now complained of but nocturnal outrages, whilst it was notorious that, at the period he alluded to, outrages were committed in the open day. The fact and the truth was, that the coercive measures proposed were not intended to be directed so much against the outrages and disturbances of the country as against the agitation of a Repeal of the Union. Much had been said of the heat displayed by the Irish Members, but those who charged them with warmth sometimes fell into the same fault themselves, and, amongst those, he might reckon the hon. and learned member for the Tower Hamlets, who had made 523 some unwarrantable assertions. His remarks, however, were directed against a body of men whose characters stood too high in the grateful estimation of their countrymen to suffer by such aspersions. The hon. and learned member for the University drew a very affecting picture of the sufferings of the Irish Protestant Clergy; but they were not the only sufferers under the tithe system. He (Mr. Morgan O'Connell) had seen the milch cow distrained for tithe, though the dry beasts, as they were called in that country, were offered to the person who distrained instead. Though worth twenty times the amount distrained for, however, the agent of the clergyman refused to take the dry beast, and took the milch cow which supplied the poor man and his family with milk. It was very well to talk of life and property, but the life and property of a single peasant ought to be as dear to that House as the life and property of the richest or greatest. He charged the noble Lord who moved the Address with having been the first to commence personalities in that House, and in the attack which he volunteered on the agitators he had assailed a body of men to whose exertions in furthering the cause of Reform last year the reformers of England, aye, and of Scotland too, might be grateful for the success of that measure. He had assailed men whose characters stood far too high in the grateful consideration of their countrymen to be in the slightest degree affected by anything which might fall from the noble Lord; and with regard to what had fallen from the hon. member for Mayo, he should only remark that the hon. Member would never have used such language to the hon. and learned member for Dublin, if he did not know that he stood upon safe ground in so doing. With respect to the word "coward" which the hon. Member had used, he would say, that no charge of flying from the field of battle was ever made against any individual of the hon. and learned member for Dublin's family, and that the language of the hon. member for Mayo was perfectly unwarrantable.
An Hon. Member
recommended an honest but energetic administration of the law in Ireland. That part of the empire was in danger arising from agitation—and he, therefore, would support Ministers in their efforts to obtain extraordinary powers for the coercion of Ireland.
§ Mr. David Roche
said, that the Irish people were as peaceable as any other portion of his Majesty's subjects. For the last twenty years he had lived in the heart of the county of Limerick, and never knew that county more tranquil than at the present time. The existing laws were sufficient to repress all disturbances in Ireland, as was proved by the late application of them to the counties of Mayo and Clare. But, said the right hon. Secretary opposite, crime has increased within the last six months. Let him prove it, and make out his case. The right hon. Secretary mentioned the occurrence of 400 or 500 atrocities, but he did not say whether the majority of them were perpetrated during the first or second of the last two years. He did not show the increase of crime within the last six months over the first six months of the second last year. Until he did, he could make out no case as to an increase of crime.
§ Mr. John O'Connell
protested, in the name of his constituency, against the attempt which Government was making to trample upon the rights and liberties of the people of Ireland. He protested, in the most solemn manner, against such an attempt, and he called upon the Representatives of the English people not to sanction it by their votes.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, that he had an Amendment to move, which he should have done in the early part of the evening had he not forgotten it. He wished now to be allowed to read it.
§ The Speaker
The time is not yet arrived. If you were formerly too late, you are now too soon. It will be necessary for you to wait until you come to some words of the Report you object to. Then will be the time for your Amendment.
§ The Speaker
Perhaps the hon. Member will state what part of the Report he means to move should be omitted.
§ Mr. Cobbett
Other hon. Members may intercept the reading of the Report where they please, and move that such or such parts be omitted; for my own part, I object to every tittle of the Report after the words "Most Gracious Majesty." The noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) complains that much time has been lost 525 in discussing the Address, and that the waste of such time is disrespectful to his Majesty. So far the noble Lord is right, and I agree with him; and hope, moreover, that this will be the last night so uselessly wasted. But I beg now to inform the noble Lord, that the fault lies with him, and his colleagues if they had followed the ancient practices of the House, they would have no reason to complain of loss of time, or of disrespect towards his Majesty. The ancient practice was, that the Speech from the Throne should be read to the House, after which a short Vote of Thanks was passed to his Majesty. Then the House appointed a day for taking the Speech into consideration, in order to be fully able to discuss the Address. I think such a practice not only very convenient to the House, but also vastly more respectful towards his Majesty. No man upon such a subject is able to speak sensibly, and to the purpose, without time for preparation. It was said, of the "heaven-born Pitt," that he could speak a King's Speech offhand. I suppose it was because he was "heaven born," that he could do so, yet I doubt if he was ever expected to be able to answer a King's Speech off-hand; it being well known to every one, that it requires ten times as much time to answer such a document, as it does to write it. At a later period, less time was required to be able to speak upon the Address; for many hon. Members used to hear it read the day before it was made public, in the Cock-pit, and consequently could go home and sleep upon it. The Speech was written by the King's Ministers; it was put into the King's mouth by the Minister; the mover of the Address received his instructions from the same source; and the Address to his Majesty, in answer to the Speech, was written by his Majesty's servants: so that the matter was very summary. The hon. member for Worcester complains, that we have heard nothing in the course of this Debate regarding the state of England, and that the whole of the talk has been about Ireland; if the hon. Member and the people of Worcester had a dungeon staring them in the face, he would ask more time to consider the matter than the one day which, it was said, should be sufficient for the purpose. I feel that I am not in danger of a dungeon at present, but I remember what took place on for- 526 mer occasions, and I am confident that any steps which are taken towards Ireland may be preparatory to similar measures towards England. But leaving England out of the question, I should be the basest of human beings if I did not come forward to oppose those uncommon powers called for by the Ministers, to put into dungeons any Irishman who dares defend his country. They say that they do not wish to oppress Ireland, or, if possible, not to put into execution those extraordinary powers; but still they do not tell us what they intend to do. They have been challenged to do this. They have been told that they intend dungeons; and they dare not deny it. Let them say, that they will not propose dungeons, and I stop at once, as far as relates to Ireland. My sincere opinion is, that this proposition of obtaining extraordinary powers arose solely out of the result of the Irish elections. I verily believe that the sole reason is the return of those Gentlemen who are such favourites with the Irish nation. Why, then, do Ministers not tell us what they mean to do in Ireland? Why do they not inform those patriotic Gentlemen, who have come forward to defend their country against tyranny and oppression, what are the measures they mean to adopt? They want the power of silencing those Gentlemen, and other patriotic individuals, by having it in their option to put them into dungeons. Silence or a dungeon is their only choice, and I shall never agree that such power be put in their hands. The Speech speaks of the prosperity of this country, but so far is that from being a true state of the situation of the country, that, perhaps, at this very time, there are from five to six millions of the inhabitants of this part of the kingdom suffering the greatest wretchedness from want of food, of clothing, and the most common necessaries of life. A statement has been made by the hon. member for Leeds regarding the prosperous situation of that community; but I can mention a district where there are 40,000 persons, out of a population of 175,000, who have not more than from 2d. to 2½d. per day to live on. The district to which I allude, is that of Huddersfield, in Yorkshire. These persons have a right to know what Government mean to do—they have a right to expect some recommendation, at least, on the part of the Ministers, of measures for their relief, 527 [The House at this period showed symptoms of impatience, and several Members on the Ministerial benches called "Question," on which Mr. Cobbett turned to the Speaker, and said:] I appeal to you, Sir, if I have not a right to be heard: please to be so good as to keep order. [Laughter.] You'll not silence me, that I'll assure you. You may rely on it, if you do not hear me, I shall adjourn the House. I was quite prepared for this, and am not to be put down by it. The people, I say, expected that some measures should be proposed by Ministers for their relief; instead of which they ask for the power of throwing the people into dungeons. [Great confusion.] If I be not heard, I shall move an adjournment. I will not spare you one word. You shall hear every word that I have to say. The people expected that the Ministers should recommend some measures for their relief: they expected them to recommend that those who receive the earnings of the people, and do nothing for them, should be deprived of their unjust emoluments; but do you find any such recommendation in the Speech? No, the people have no such consolation. They find measures recommended in all respects harsh and oppressive, and destitute of all feeling for their wretched situation. This they complain of, and they have a right to complain. Now, I have an Amendment to move to the Address, which I shall read; and when I have read it, I shall then give the reasons which induce me to think it a proper address to his Majesty:—
"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, express to your Majesty our humble thanks for your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
"We thank your Majesty for the information which your Majesty has been graciously pleased to communicate to us relative to those proceedings which your Majesty, in virtue of your constitutional and just prerogative, has caused to be adopted with regard to Portugal, Belgium, and Holland; and, being perfectly assured that every act of your Majesty with regard to those countries will proceed from that anxious solicitude which your Majesty has constantly evinced, to promote the interests of your dutiful people, and to maintain the honour of the 528 kingdom, we give your Majesty our assurance, that we shall receive with the greatest respect, and shall bestow our best and most sedulous attention upon, those various papers relating to the affairs of Holland and Belgium which your Majesty has been graciously pleased to intimate, that your Majesty has given directions to be laid before us.
"We assure your Majesty, that, with regard to the Charters of the Bank of England and the East-India Company, we shall enter with care and diligence on a revision of those establishments; and that the best of our endeavours will be employed to arrive at such a decision as shall be best calculated to secure real and solid public credit, as well as to promote the general prosperity and power of your Majesty's kingdom.
"Well knowing, and most acutely feeling, the sorrowful effects of the present mode of maintaining the clergy of the Established Church, both in England and Ireland, we are peculiarly grateful to your Majesty for having suggested to us the making of very great and extensive alterations with regard to the temporalities of that Church; and it is with particular earnestness that we beg your Majesty to be assured, that we shall enter upon the task with all the patience, all the diligence, and all the absence of passion, and of prejudice, which the interesting and momentous subject so imperiously demands; and that we confidently hope, that the result of our consultations will tend to the good of the Church, the safety, honour, and welfare of your Majesty and your kingdom; and that this most important matter will be so ordered and settled by our endeavours, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established amongst us for all generations.
"While we humbly present to your Majesty our most grateful thanks for having been graciously pleased to assure us that your Majesty has directed the Estimates for the service of the ensuing year to be framed with the most anxious attention to economy, and while we assure your Majesty that nothing shall be wanting on our part to reward habits of industry, and promote good order amongst the labouring classes of the community, our bounden duty to our constituents, as well as to your Majesty, compels us to express to your Majesty our deep regret 529 that your Majesty should not have been advised graciously to suggest to us to consider of the means of lightening the numerous and heavy burthens which are a discouragement to that industry, and which so cruelly oppress those meritorious and suffering classes; and we assure your Majesty, that we will, with all diligence and zeal, proceed to an investigation of the causes which have produced those burthens and their consequent sufferings, and to the adoption of measures which shall, in our judgment, be calculated to produce effectual and permanent relief.
"Most sincerely do we participate with your Majesty in that pain which your Majesty's paternal solicitude for the welfare of your people has induced your Majesty graciously to express with regard to the disturbances in Ireland; and we assure your Majesty that we shall be ready, at all times, to adopt any constitutional measures that may be necessary for controlling and punishing the disturbers of the public peace, and for preserving and strengthening those ties which connect the two countries in indissoluble bonds of loyalty to your Majesty; deeming, as we do, a separation of the two countries to be fraught with destruction to the peace, security, and welfare of your Majesty's dominions; and, convinced as we are, that nothing but unjust and cruel treatment of our fellow-subjects of Ireland can ever induce any portion of them to desire such separation, we most solemnly assure your Majesty, that we will never give our sanction to their being treated with injustice and cruelty, and that we will, with the smallest possible delay, proceed to the consideration of means of redressing those manifold grievances under which they have so long been suffering, and which are, we are firmly convinced, the real cause of the present unhappy disturbances."
Now, Sir, I think this is a proper Address, and I am determined to take the sense of the House upon it, and to see who is for it, and who against it; but that division shall not take place till I have had time to explain my reasons for proposing it. I am sorry to take up so much of the time of the House, but I think it a duty I owe to my country to state fully my reasons for proposing this Amendment. I can, however, easily foresee in what manner it will be received, and what will be the result of the vote upon it, especially as it is evident that the two 530 factions of Whigs and Tories have united against the people. I early foresaw that it would be so. From Brading in the Isle of Wight, to Dumfermline on the north of the Firth of Forth, and before 200 audiences, every where have I said, that these two factions would unite, unless the Ministers proposed something for the good of the people; and now, finding that they have no such intentions, and that they are resolved to do nothing for the relief of the people, they have united; this is quite natural to them; for they know that it is impossible for them to keep down the people but in conjunction with each other. It is well known to every student of politics, that when opposing parties unite, the consequence to the people has always been a new series of oppressions. This maxim has been verified by uniform experience; and the truth it teaches is sanctioned by the observations and by the principles laid down by that great teacher of the principles of liberty, the hon. member for Westminster, at the time when he was a candidate for the county of Middlesex, in the year 1806, just after an unprincipled junction took place between the Whigs and a detachment of the Pittites. He, upon that occasion, in a letter to the people of Middlesex, under his own hand, and with his own name at the bottom of it, said (and the words ought never to be forgotten, I thanked him for them then, and, at the end of twenty-six years, I am happy to see him in his place, that I may thank him for them again)—the hon. Member then said in the beginning of an address to the people of Middlesex signed Sir Francis Burdett in the month of October, 1806:—"Whenever the leaders of contending parties and factions in a State unite, the history of the world bears evidence, that it never is in favour, but always at the expense, of the people; whose renewed and augmented pillage pays the price of the scandalous reconciliation." [Calls of Question and Order—coughing.]
§ Mr. Kinloch
said, that he must signify his determination to adjourn the House, if quiet and good order were not restored.
§ The Speaker
rose, and said, that he would exert all the authority in his power to keep order. If the hon. Members had been longer Members of that House, they would not have been so sensible to any occasional interruptions with which they might meet in the course of the Debate. He could say, that he had never, in the whole course 531 of his parliamentary experience, seen a five days' debate to which there was such constant attention given, or in which the speakers met with so little interruption as in the course of the late debate on the Address.
§ Mr. Cobbett
resumed. I have a very sacred duty to perform, and if the House be determined not to hear me to-night, I will certainly bring it forward to-morrow; and if the House will not hear me to-morrow, I will then bring it forward the day after. The statement I have to make, I am determined to make, and that without any considerable interruption. I was proceeding to show, that when two factions joined, it is always in order to oppress the people. I can remember the coalition between Pitt and three or four of the principal leaders of the Whigs—the faithful Whigs. I can remember four of these scandalous reconciliations: the first was, when a detachment of the Whigs joined the heaven-born Pitt, in 1793: that produced the war against the republicans of France, and has finally added 600,000,000l. to that debt under which we are now groaning. The second scandalous reconciliation was that which took place in 1806, when a detachment of the Pittites formed a junction with the Whigs. The price which the people paid for that scandalous reconciliation was monstrous indeed. The first act of the coalesced faction was to enable the Auditor of the Exchequer to hold his sinecure while he was First Lord of the Treasury; the second was, to bring new bands of Hanoverian troops into England and Ireland, to be paid for by this insulted people; the next was, to raise the income-tax (which the Whigs, when out of office, had called a highwayman's trap) from six and a quarter to ten per cent; and the rest of the time that this Ministry lasted was occupied in cramming themselves and friends with pensions, sinecures, and all sorts of emoluments derived from the public money. When Canning became Prime Minister, what did the faithful Whigs do then? A detachment of them joined him; and the short duration of his life only prevented a more general junction. There was time, however, for the Marquess of Lansdown, and the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Spring Rice), actually to join him, and that hand which we must all yield to only prevented the rest from trooping in at his heels. And what was the price of this scandalous reconciliation? Why an open abandon- 532 ment of the Catholics; a distinct and expressed abandonment of their cause; and an explicit declaration that it should not be brought forward during the life of the King,(George 4th); a distinct declaration against the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and a determination not to suffer any of the remaining Six Acts to be repealed; and a violent attack upon the hon. member for Middlesex, who was then member for Aberdeen, because he proposed the repeal of one of the most odious of those odious Acts, which now, again, the Whigs keep in force to their utmost rigour. What is to be the whole amount of the price which we are to pay for the present scandalous reconciliation We do not yet know. The first price is, in all appearance, dungeons to be provided for those Irish Gentlemen who have so nobly defended their country; the second item is, the upholding of the present system of taxation to its full extent; for we are pretty explicitly told, that no tax of any sort is to be taken off, not even the tax upon knowledge, as it is called: and as to the house-tax, the window-tax, the malt and hop-taxes, or anything of the sort, I should not wonder if dungeons were to be proposed for those who contend for the necessity of the repeal of any of them. These are to form the price of the present scandalous reconciliation. Every pension, every sinecure, every grant, every retired allowance, is to remain; the industrious part of the people are still to toil for these swarms of idlers. The Ministers foresaw that they could not uphold this system without the aid of their former opponents, and, therefore, being determined to uphold this system, in which they and their opponents are equally interested, they have resorted to this scandalous reconciliation. I have said before, that it was unfeeling to the last degree, in the Ministers not to recommend to their master the saying of something to console the suffering people. I have said before, that in a district in the West Riding of Yorkshire, of which Huddersfield makes a part, there are 40,000 persons, each of whom is living upon 2½d. a-day. This is the case throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire. But, it is general, as will appear from the situation of the town of Leicester. I yesterday received a copy of a report concerning the town which I will read to the House. The hon. Member then accordingly read, the following paper:— 533 To the Wealthy and Humane Inhabitants of the Town and County of Leicester.The frame work-knitters' Committee have selected the following cases of distress, in Leicester, out of a vast number of others of a similar description,' that the public may at once perceive the indispensable necessity of coming forward to assist in raising the wretched frame work-knitters from their degradation and misery. They invite the wealthy classes to visit their miserable habitations, to inquire into the truth of this statement; and they indulge the hope that nothing further will be wanted to induce their kind sympathy and support. The Committee are anxious not to have auy control over the funds, but to place them in the hands of gentlemen, who will see that they are properly appropriated to the object for which they are solicited. A meeting of subscribers will be called, to take under their charge the kind contributions of the public.Signed, on behalf of the Committee,THOMAS WRIGHT, Chairman.Leicester, January 17th, 1833.Case 1st.—William Carter, journeyman framework-knitter, lives in Lewitt's-yard, Oxford-street; his average hours of labour are seventeen hours a-day, and his earnings are 9s. per week, first hand; and, of course, subject to the following deductions: frame-rent. 1s. 3d.; winding, 4d.; candles, 9d.; needles, 3d.; master's charge on work, 3d.; coals for shop, 3d.; seaming, 10½d.; leaving 5s. 0½d. to pay house-rent, fuel, soap for washing, and to provide food and clothing. This man has a wife and five children; the whole of the children and parents sleep in the same apartment, and have neither bed, sheet, nor blanket.Case 2nd.—Thomas Phillips, Lewitt's-yard, master framework-knitter, earns 6s. 9d. per week, subject to the following deductions:—viz., frame-rent, 1s.; coals for shop, 3d.; winding, 4d.; candles, 9d.; needles, 3d.; seaming, 10d.—leaving 3s. 4d. net earnings; which, added to the 2s. which is earning by his wife, makes 5s. 4d. to pay house-rent, fuel, soap, and provide food and clothing. He bas two children, and the family are extremely wretched, and destitute of necessaries.Case 3rd.—John Hastings, Lewitt's-yard, earns 8s. per week, first hand, subject to deduction for frame, &c.; amounting to 3s. 3d.; leaving 4s. 9d. clear earnings. He has four small children, extremely destitute of necessary clothing and bedding.Case 4th.—Thomas Hastings, Lewitt's-yard, earns 6s. per week, first hand; and being far advanced in years, is compelled to work eighteen hours per day; and when frame rent, seaming, and other charges are deducted, there is only 3s. clear, to pay house-rent, and to provide coals, soap, food, and clothing.Case 5th.—Joseph Greenwood, Causeway-lane, earns 7s. per week, first hand, subject to 534 deduction of frame-rent, seaming, &c. as in the other cases; leaving 4s. clear earnings to support a wife and five children—the oldest eight years of age; the youngest at the breast. They have neither blanket nor sheet for the use of the parents, and only one blanket and straw for the children. When visited, they were destitute of every article of subsistence.Now, the Ministers either know of this distress, or they do not. If they do not, they are too ignorant or too lazy to be intrusted with public authority; if they do, they are the most unfeeling and barbarous of mankind to put a Speech into the mouth of the King, which, by fair implication, accuses the people of laziness, and which threatens to punish them if they be not quiet and patiently submit to the existence of all the pensions and sinecures, and the rest of the means by which their earnings are taken from them and distributed. And, am I told, that these pensions and sinecures are not a burthen to be complained of? Let us see: the sinecure of Lord Granville alone amounts annually to the wages of 1,084 of these industrious and meritorious persons: the pensions to the Herries family, which they have been receiving for years, amount annually to the wages of 271 of these industrious persons. The right hon. the First Lord of the Admiralty, when out of office, had the goodness to prove to us, that there were 113 members of the Privy Council (exclusive of the royal family and the Bishops) who received the sum of 650,000l. a-year, equal to the wages of 163,220 of these oppressed and laborious persons, who, to console them under their labours and their sufferings, have been informed that the carved work to one single Palace gateway cost as much as the amount of the wages of 9,000 of them for one whole year. Those who thus fatten on the toil of the people may well laugh; they may well, in the words of the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland, resolve to uphold this system to the death. That right hon. Gentleman ought to recollect, however, that the words which his taste has induced him to select, and the conduct which he proposes to imitate, were the words of St. Paul, not after he became a Christian, but while he was a blaspheming Jew, persecuting the Christians. He denied, the hon. Member continued, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had begun the attack upon Ministers. Their own mover of the Address had attacked 535 that hon. and learned Member. He had accused him of fomenting civil discord for the purpose of obtaining the Repeal of the Union. He (Mr. Cobbett) thought, that as the hon. mover of the Address was dressed in uniform, and were a sword, he should have handed over the Address on the point of his sword to the hon. and learned member for Dublin. Having said that of the mover, he would refer to the seconder of the Address, who had, a year before, assisted at a public meeting at Leeds, at which Resolutions were agreed to, that the Church property in Ireland should be resumed by the Government, and now that hon. Member came to the House, and seconded an Address which called on them to give to the Government the power of throwing the advocates of the freedom of Ireland into dungeons. He could not repeat the word "dungeon" too often. He could not conceive why the members of his Majesty's Government should have such an aversion for the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He did not understand the great spite they bore him. He (Mr. Cobbett) differed from that hon. and learned Member on some points—he differed from him especially on the subject of the Poor-laws in Ireland, but he did not consider that a ground of quarrel. In his opinion it could be for no other reason, but merely because that hon. and learned Member was beloved by the people of Ireland, and because great confidence was placed in him by a large portion of the people of that country. They seemed to wish to destroy that hon. and learned Member; but he could tell them, that if they were able to destroy him to-morrow, they would only be the more heartily detested in Ireland. They were detested because they hated the hon. and learned member for Dublin; and the more they hated him the more they would be detested. The warfare they had denounced against the repealers of the Union in Ireland strongly reminded him of the story of the French king and the Swiss Cantons. It was recorded, that some difference existed between these powers. The ministers of the king represented that the Swiss were in the right. Oh, then," said the king, "I will make war against them, because they are in the right." This was precisely the sort of answer made by the Ministers to the repealers of the Union. The want of capital was, undoubtedly, the chief cause of 536 the misery that prevailed in Ireland; but how was it possible that capital could accumulate, when it was notorious, that the country was yearly drained for the support of absentee landlords? In the fable of the lion and the fox, all the footsteps went towards the lion's den—none went from it. So it was with Ireland. All the rent went in one direction—all out of the country; and when once out, never returned. What the remedy to be applied was, he had not as yet considered, and therefore could not take upon himself to say; but of one thing he was sure—namely, that it was not dungeons. In 1817, the use of dungeons did not succeed in crushing the question of Parliamentary Reform; and so, in 1833, it would fail in crushing the question of Repeal. To shake a halter, and rattle the keys of a dungeon in the face of a people claiming only to be heard in support of their opinions, would never be endured, and could only expose the Ministry, who might be fools enough to attempt such an unconstitutional proceeding, to the odium and contempt of the nation. Whilst they were talking of a Repeal of the Union, it was but right to go back a little into history, and see what was said of that Union, at the time it was formed, by some of those who were now in power, and who represented the advocates of its Repeal as traitors. Earl Grey's recorded opinions were stated the other night; but there remained to be noticed those of another man, of considerable importance in Ireland, not less worthy of being rescued from oblivion. If there ever was anything shameful on earth—if there ever was anything to make a man blush—if there ever was anything to induce a man to wish to hide his head from the light of day—it was what the man to whom he was alluding, formerly said, as contrasted with what he was now doing. This man, after saying all sorts of things in opposition to the Union (such as, that it never could be law—that the people never would obey it)—added! For my own part I will resist it to the last gasp of my existence—to the last drop of my blood—and when I feel the hour of my dissolution approaching, I will like the father of Hannibal, take my children to the altar, and swear them to eternal hostility against the invaders of their country's freedom." Again, he said; "I shall be proud to send my name down on the roll with those who have resisted the ene- 537 mies of their country;" and again he declared "that he should bear in his heart the consciousness of having performed his duty, and when his death approached, he should not be haunted with the thought of having basely sold or meanly abandoned the liberties of his native land." Now, "where was the man who held this language?" Was he in England; or was he in Ireland? Was he in the ranks of the Ministerialists opposite, or was he in the ranks of the repealers around him? He is in Ireland. But what is he there? Is he Lord Chancellor? Yes! This old Hannibal (Hannibal, indeed!) is actually Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Yes: the very man who was to have the management of the dungeons in which the hon. Member was to be thrust, only for asking—in a peaceable and constitutional manner—through this House, for the Repeal of that very Act which this Lord Chancellor himself declared, at its passing, to be a violation of the Constitution—which he said he would oppose to the last hour of his life; and against which and its framers he was to swear all his children to eternal hostility.—Well, but what has become of all the young Hannibals?—He should like, if any body could tell him, to know if they had been sworn?—He had them all in a paper before him; every Hannibal of them.—Here Mr. Cobbett read and commented on the following paper:—First comes
|Lord Plunkett, as Lord Chancellor of Ireland with a yearly income of||8,000|
|Then come his sons|
|The Hon. and Reverend Thomas Plunkett, as Dean of Down, in the gift of the Crown, consisting of a union of six parishes, the tithes and glebe of which amounted, in 1831, to||2,863|
§ There's a capacious soul for you! There's a shepherd for you! Nothing less than six flocks could content him. It was worthy of observation, too, that this plurality was granted by Ministers precisely at the time (in 1831) that the Ecclesiastical Commission was sitting in the Council Chamber of Dublin Castle, and when they had signed the Report that it ought to be dissolved on the first avoidance. Next come
|The Hon. John Plunkett, as Assistant Barrister of the County of Meath||600|
|As Crown Prosecutor on the Munster Circuit||800|
|As Couusel to the Police||300|
§ For this Gentleman, business will be made out of the coercive measures.
|The Hon. David Plunkett, as Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas and Examiner||1,500|
§ Besides his patronage, not brought into calculation, as follows:—
|Three clerks, at 500l.||1,500|
|Two assistants, 500l.||1,000|
|One other assistant||200|
|One Clerk of Pleadings||400|
|The Hon. Patrick Plunkett, as Secretary to the Bankrupt Commission||900|
|As Purse Bearer to the Chancellor||800|
|As Counsel to the Chief Remembrancer||300|
|As Crown Prosecutor to the Leinster Circuit||900|
|The Hon. William Plunkett, Incumbent of the living of Bray, County of Wick-low, with a house and twenty-four acres of land, the tithes of which amount to||470|
|The Hon. Robert Plunkett, a living in England, value unascertained.|
§ So the Hannibals were coming here, to practise their peculiar kind of warfare against "the invaders of their country's freedom." How they were to be dealt with will by-and-by be seen. He next came to the nephews of old Hannibal, the father of these half-Hannibals, the first on the list was:—
|W. M'Causland, Secretary to the Chancellor (appointed to this situation when under twenty years of age)||2,000|
|James M'Causland, as Secretary to the Funds of Erasmus Smith's Schools||500|
|As Solicitor to the Hibernian Schools||100|
|As Solicitor to the Benchers of the King's Inns||200|
|As one of the Law Agents of Charitable Donations||500|