§ On the question that the Resolution granting 3,000,000l. for the service of the year be read a second time,
rose to address the House. Often as he had endeavoured to direct its sympathies towards the wrongs of his country, unhappy, ill-fated Ireland, he never felt so painfully anxious as at that moment. He would most carefully avoid all vehemence of expression—indeed he felt far too deeply to vent his feeling in mere vituperation. He had, on a former occasion, made use of the terms brutal and sanguinary" in reference to the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne; that Address having since obtained the sanction of that House, he would no longer apply to it the language of reproach. His present object was far other than attempting to characterize by strong language the proceedings of Ministers towards Ireland, No; the injuries were so deep, that to denounce them in mere abusive language would deprive grief of its dignity. He could wish to 874 address the House in reference to the threatened measures of Ministers so as to be known to belong to the country menaced, by his accent. He would speak, as he most certainly should feel it his duty to do, if Ministers threatened to deprive the people of England or of Scotland of the benefit of the laws, substituting in their stead the most iron and remorseless despotism. He would speak as he should feel if the liberties of Englishmen were threatened with destruction, as he should feel if outlawry were declared against the whole people of Scotland—as if either were about to be handed over, like his unhappy countrymen, to the tender mercies of two or three English military officers, provided they "have been two years in the service, and have attained the age of twenty-one." In this comparatively tranquil temper would he address them, hoping to obtain the ear, in pointing out in their true features, in all their hideous deformity, the measures with which his country was threatened by the King's Ministers—measures to which a free-born Englishman must feel that death would be preferable, depriving him, as they would, of all the rights of one not born in the veriest slavery. Yes, though an Irishman—a mere Irishman—the iron of despotism had not so eaten into his soul, that he did not bitterly hate slavery, and dearly love liberty. As a lover of liberty he denounced the cruelty—the madness—the wickedness—of the policy pursued so long towards Ireland, and which it was now endeavoured to crown by a measure depriving it altogether of the protection of the British laws. He had been taunted by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland and another hon. Member, and the taunt had been loudly cheered, with having, by his speeches and writings, instigated meetings in Ireland, from the personal consequences of which he had ever shrunk. Never was there assertion more destitute of foundation in fact, and he had a right to expect that such would be the understanding of the House. All the great anti-tithe meetings were held, not only without his suggestion, but when he was actually absent from Ireland. Indeed, were he not absent from Ireland at the time, the more than probability was, that these meetings would not have been held at all, and, so far was he from being the originator of them that he would have undertaken to prove before the Committee 875 of Inquiry which he demanded the first night of the debate on the Address, that the suggestion of anti-tithe meetings originated wholly and exclusively from a friend of Lord Anglesey, and one who had received many marks of his favour. Then as to his shrinking from attending these meetings—no matter whence they had originated—why, the fact was, that he was in this country, full 300 miles from the nearest of them, and the Castle circular prohibiting them, after the issue of which not one was held, was in full operation before he left England on his return to Ireland. That showed the truth of the right hon. Secretary's taunt, and he mentioned the facts only as an appeal to the humanity of those who were so ready with their cheers whenever he was the object of calumny: but enough of self. He had said, be wished to invite their attention to the mad and wicked measures of coercion with which they were threatened in his unfortunate country. And, good Heavens! what a pretext was put forward by the individual who, in another place, was represented to have originated them. Was there a case made out with even the semblance of plausibility? Were they reasons worthy of a statesman to whom the destinies of a great people were intrusted? Reasons, did he say? Why, the drivellings of old doating senility—the ravings of antiquated womanhood—were more dignified than those gossiping stories so garrulously put forth as reasons for the measure he alluded to. They were told that the Ministers stood so well with that House that they could count on a strong majority; so undoubting was the confidence in the uprightness of their intentions that Ministers, who had already done so much for Ireland, would not seek for such extraordinary powers but with a view to effecting more good for that country. He could wish to see their claim to despotic power rested on their past doings towards Ireland. Let the House see what they had done. They had proposed two good measures—one of church Reform, and one respecting Corporations. He was ready to admit, that so far as the abolition of the Church-cess went—the first of their measures was a boon to Ireland, but no further; besides that its beneficent operations would be wholly prospective, it relieved no other existing burthen connected with the monstrous Church Establishment, and it left the tithe-war where it now was—in 876 all its ignominious glory. It was true that he had met the announcement of the measure cheerily; he was not disposed to retract a letter of his approbation of it" general tendency; it was too seldom that such opportunities of hailing measures of kindness towards Ireland were afforded him. He repeated, that the abolition of the Vestry-cess would be a boon to Ireland. He would go further, and say, that it would be a boon to a greater extent than the noble Lord (Althorp) himself had stated. The noble Lord had valued that cess at from 60,000l. to 70,000l. per annum, it was more; it was nearer to 80,000l., and was certainly 70,000l. But how could the noble Lord, with such a fact staring him in the face, have rated the entire Church property in Ireland, with its thousands of acres, and its rents, and its tithes, so low as from 700,000l. to 800,000l. per annum? What, only ten times more than the Vestry-cess? The supposition was absurd; so much so, that he need only thus point it out to prove its base delusion. But no other burthen or grievance would be relieved by the proposed Church Reform, and the war against the poor man's pigs and his tenth potatoe would not be even suspended by it. Then why, it might be asked, did he the other evening so warmly approve of it? Because it established a good principle—because it admitted what had been so often denied in that House and elsewhere, that the Irish Church Establishment was far too massive and costly for the wants, ay, the spiritual wants, of its members—according to the noble Lord, at least twice too large. Hitherto the monstrous abuses of that Establishment were bolstered up by the assertion of the spiritual wants of its members—that is, that the tithes and Church cesses and Episcopal rentals were justifiably collected, in order to reward those who ministered to those spiritual wants for their labours. But the noble Lord's measure recognized an admirable principle, from which he could not shrink—namely, that where there were no spiritual wants, there was to be no spiritual receiver of tithes and Church rentals, and he, therefore, hailed it with satisfaction; indeed, Ministers had already acted on that principle themselves: they had kept the vacant bishopric of Water-ford just like a dummy hand in whist, not filled up by any actual person, and yet open to an occupant. Of course the spiritual 877 wants of the bishopric were not very pressing, otherwise they would not thus have made a dummy of it: and as there were no spiritual wants, of course there was no spiritual administrant to be rewarded. On this excellent principle of—no work no pay—the noble Lord promised them ten other dummies in the Irish Church; and thus the properly of these ten do-nothings would be available to the purposes of the State. To say otherwise, and to maintain that the overplus Church property should be applied only to ecclesiastical purposes, was a fantastical assertion which every honest and intelligent man in either country would scout with scorn. Having made the admission of these excellent principles of Church Reform, they might invest their Ecclesiastical Commissioners with as many cobweb forms and injunctions as they pleased, that admission could not be eluded, and the measure would produce much more benefit (and he was anxious that this should be understood elsewhere) than might be apparent on the face of it. But if prospective benefits might arise from the measure, it did pot afford any present relief to the distresses of Ireland. Would the wretched peasant have one potatoe more to eat, or would a day's more employment be given to the starving labourers of the present generation. Was there anything to mitigate existing suffering, or to conciliate towards a government the affections of a population driven to extremities by its misconduct? He entreated the noble Lord to look at the present turbulent state of Ireland. He would not enter into the measure of Corporate Reform for Ireland, though he was quite ready to give Ministers full credit for intended benefits. No man should find him stingy in his praise of anything which would promote his country's good. Before he proceeded further, he thought it but due to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland to declare, that he had heard his declarations the other evening of regard for Ireland with heartfelt satisfaction. He gave him full credit for their sincerity; indeed, the right hon. Gentleman's expressions were music to his soul," and he begged the right hon. Gentleman to understand, that he should deeply regret if any expression directed against the statesman should have, for a moment, sounded like a want of courtesy, to the Gentleman. It was also but justice to the right hon. Gentleman to mention, 878 that the right hon. Gentleman had clearly fixed the responsibility of the policy pursued towards Ireland on the government of which he was only a Member, and that his colleagues were as responsible as he was; indeed, judging by what had since taken place elsewhere, more so. That declaration was but justice to the right hon. Gentleman, whom in future he would not hold more responsible for the acts of the King's Government than his colleagues. But to return to the measures of coercion with which Ministers threatened Ireland. The House might, perhaps, laugh at what he was about to calmly state concerning those measures, nevertheless he would not hesitate to declare, that he hoped to see the day when the head of the Government which had dared to bring forward such an outrageous violation of all law and justice would be made to answer for his conduct to the justly indignant Commons of the United Empire. It was for that House that evening to tell the Minister who had thus insulted a Reformed Parliament—and in a voice, too, that could not be mistaken--that a Reformed Parliament would not sanction the suspension of all law, and would indignantly spurn coercion where a peaceable and constitutional remedy was practicable. Such was the object he then proposed to himself, for he was much more anxious to elicit the sentiments of the English and Scotch Members respecting the proposed despotic policy towards Ireland of Ministers than express his own. He had been taunted there and elsewhere with thwarting the views of Ministers by premature and uncalled-for objections. He ought to have awaited, it was said, the promulgation of their measures, confident that a Reformed Parliament and an enlightened Press would not sanction any measure of unnecessary severity and unaccompanied by measures conciliatory and remedial of the grievances of Ireland. He was not angry that he had been thus taunted; indeed, he hailed it as a pledge that he should be supported on the present occasion. The supporters of the Address had distinctly stated, that by voting for it they were far from pledging themselves to unconstitutional measures of coercion. No, they were not pledges for drum-head courts-martial, for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, for the Insurrection Act, and the other mild and constitutional measures of conciliation and remedy promised them by Ministers, Those who, in a spirit of loyally, 879 which even in its excess was to be respected, had voted for the Address did not pledge themselves to the measures of Ministers; and if they did not violently oppose the Ministers, they, at all events, had then the opportunity of calling upon them to halt in their mad and wicked career, by telling the noble head of the Government, that it was not so certain a matter that the people of England, speaking through their Representatives, would aid him in coercing Ireland into a state of utter degradation and slavery. They might tell the noble Lord to stay his despotic proceedings, because they were, moreover, quite opposed to the declarations of his colleagues [No], No? Pray did the House forget the recent speech of the right hon. Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. S. Rice) when, after proving, in an elaborate speech, that Ireland was the most prosperous and flourishing country in the world, he ended with the "lame, and impotent conclusion," of an admission, that its population was in a state of the utmost poverty and wretchedness? The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion taunted him (Mr. O'Connell) with having on former occasions praised the Whigs, and yet now denounced them. But where was the inconsistency? Did it follow, that they should hold up to praise the feebleness of eighty, for the firmness displayed by the same man at forty. Because he had justly praised Ministers for their excellent Reform Bill—was he, therefore, not to reproach them for their atrocious policy towards Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman taunted him—and that was what he wished to direct the attention of the House to—with having, without any proof or foundation whatever, thus denounced their policy towards Ireland as atrocious—asking him, with a tone of triumph, was such an epithet applicable to men who had not done away with Trial by Jury in Ireland, or who had not suspended the Habeas Corpus Act? Pray how would the right hon. Gentleman himself answer the questions now? He, a member of the Government, and as such received by the House as expressing its views and intentions, thus a very few days ago told them, that they whose ranks he had joined were incapable of such monstrous propositions; and yet—but all in good time—was it, he would ask, fair to the House, in Ministers who cheered their right hon. colleague, to thus permit him to deceive the House 880 into a belief that no such coercion was intended? Was there no friendly hand to pull him back when he was thus committing himself and the Government?—no colleague to set the right hon. Gentleman right when he was denouncing him as a calumniator, for charging Ministers with designing measures which the right hon. Gentleman himself must now support? It was true, he (Mr. O'Connell) had more than once taunted the Whigs as the worst enemies of his country, and for doing so had been blamed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) among others, for ripping up old stories of national wrong, the very antiquity of which proved their inapplicability to the present state of public affairs. But he would ask, if he found the deeds of the present rulers of Ireland not only as mischievous and unjust, and as fatal to its welfare as any of bygone times, while they were supported by falsehood more glaring, were the Whigs of the present day to escape the reproach of the crimes of their predecessors? He owed it to the several hon. and ingenuous persons who, though lovers of liberty themselves, yet respected the character of Whig, to remind the House of the great debt of gratitude which Ireland owed to that party. When he told them that the grossest violation of a solemn compact in history—the violation of the treaty of Limerick—was the act of the Whigs, those Gentlemen might, perhaps, be less ardent in their admiration and less certain in their confidence. Yes that, the blackest spot in the annals of English rule in Ireland—the violation of the Treaty of Limerick—a black spot yet unwashed, was an eternal record of Whig perfidy. The Irish army in Limerick was numerous, confident, and well equipped, when that treaty, which pledged the Whig King, and his Whig Ministers, to granting equal laws and liberties to his Catholic subjects, was signed. Scarcely was the seal annexed when a strong French force arrived almost under the walls of the town. What did the Irish army do under these unexpectedly favourable circumstances? Why, unlike their Whig opponents, like men of honour, they had plighted their word, they refused the succour of France, they abided by their treaty. And what was their reward?—the most shameless violation of the treaty, in the first instance by William himself, and the still more atrocious "No Popery" Acts of the Whigs of the days 881 of the Marlborough victories—the Waterloos of that time when the Whigs were, not merely strong, they were rampant in power—those "No Popery" Acts were all violations of the Treaty of Limerick. Well, but all this was obsolete. Be it so; let them come down to modern times, to the very Whigs now in office. In 1807 the Whigs were in office—certainly for a very short period; but, short as it was, long enough to inflict irreparable injury in Ireland—they then fabricated the Insurrection Act for Ireland, which was carried into operation by their Tory successors, with the entire assent of its original parents. In most meet sequence with this mild and conciliatory measure, the same party, and almost the very same men, now came forward with a measure, compared with which, in atrocity and despotism, all their preceding acts sink into insignificance, a measure which unites all the harshest features of all former tyrannies with some peculiarly their own, containing, among its minor provisions, the curfew tyranny of the Normans, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus of the Tory misrule, and their own Insurrection Act and Martial-law, along with the rather novel propositions of unlimited imprisonment, by persons entirely irresponsible to any legal tribunal, with a total abolition of the right of petition, making the chartered right of every British subject a mere dead letter, so that no man in Ireland should in future dare to complain of any grievance, there being no tribunal to appeal to, no Parliament for the oppressed Irish to look to for protection, and the unhappy complainant being liable to imprisonment and loss of freedom, property, and perhaps life, at the suspicion or caprice of the Irish Government. These were parts of the accumulation of favours which the Whigs were about to confer on Ireland. Now, let it be understood, that if that atrocious measure passed into a law, the people of Ireland would be liable to loss of property and personal freedom—might be imprisoned at the mere pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant or the Irish Secretary, without any redress whatever, if imprisoned unjustly, for merely meeting together to petition for redress for their grievances. Nay, it depended on the mere caprice of the Irish authorities, and this to religious minds was well worthy of consideration, to pronounce a strictly religious meeting as incurring the censures of this 882 law. But even these provisions were not all; there was one, if possible, still more atrocious behind—he meant the Bill for changing the venue.
rose to order. He begged to submit to the Speaker, whether it was within the rules of debate, that any hon. Member should discuss measures not yet before the House, and which were in progress in another place. While the hon. Gentleman was discussing general topics relating to Ireland, he did not interrupt him; but now he was entering upon the specific provisions of a particular Bill, he felt it his duty to interpose and to appeal to the Chair. The Bill to which the hon. Member referred, might perhaps never come before the House of Commons.
I have been given to understand that the King's Ministers have certain measures to propose; and before agreeing to any supply, I am anxious to ascertain the nature of those measures. I have not specified a single provision of those measures.
§ The Speaker
That which the right hon. Gentleman, who spoke last but one, has stated upon the subject of order is perfectly correct, and completely in accordance with the rules and practice of this House; but the difficulty I have is in determining whether or not the principles he laid down are strictly applicable to the mode in which the hon. and learned member for Dublin has brought the intentions—or supposed intentions—of his Majesty's Government under consideration. It is, I must assume, a matter beyond all question, that nothing is more disorderly or inconvenient, than that details should be brought under the consideration of this House, of a measure presumed to have been introduced into the other House of Parliament. The rule of order is perfectly distinct and indisputable; but the great difficulty I have experienced, and which must always be felt, is in drawing the exact line between a general discussion with respect to the intentions, real or supposed, of the King's Government, and the discussion of the details of a measure which public notoriety had declared to have been under the consideration of the House of Lords. There cannot, and there never has been, the slightest doubt of the accuracy with which the right hon. Gentleman has stated the rule of order; and the effect of that statement will I trust, be to prevent the hon. and learned Gentleman 883 being off his guard in any further observation or inquiry he may address to the advisers of the Crown.
then continued to the following effect—the exceedingly courteous manner in which the opinion of the Chair is always announced in this House would, of itself, make me most anxious to avoid any topic that could in the slightest degree render it necessary for you, Sir, to advert to any course which I might be pursuing in any other terms than those of concurrence and approbation; but I really think that I shall not have any difficulty in reconciling the observations and inquiries which I have made, and those which I intend to make, with the rules and practice of this House. I rise to put some questions to the members of his Majesty's Government, respecting a measure which I understand they have in contemplation, and which measure they will not be able to carry into effect if the present vote of supply be refused. The Finance Minister of the Crown comes forward to demand a vote of 3,000,000l., and thereupon I rise to speak to his general and particular policy; I am sorry that one member of that Government happens now to be absent—I mean the member for the prosperous town of Leeds—for I might in that case have had an opportunity of meeting, with some effect, the taunt which I suffered at his hands the other night, on the subject of a Repeal of the Union. I understand, that it is the intention of the Government to submit to this House a measure for changing the venue in Ireland. Now, when the hon. and learned Gentleman asked which was the mode best calculated to promote the ends of justice, and to secure to a man the benefits of a fair trial—which would be better for him, to be tried by a jury of prejudiced persons, or by twelve honest enlightened Englishmen;—when he aked that question, and in effect answered it for himself—I should have liked to inquire of him whether a native of the South would stand any chance of justice at all if tried by a jury of Orangemen in the North? That, in fact, was his argument; but I do not adopt the calumnies against the Orangemen of the North. But I take the hon. and learned Gentleman at his word, and if he looks upon a prejudiced Orange tribunal as most dangerous to justice, what does he say to changing the venue? I tell that hon. and learned Gentleman, 884 and I tell his Majesty's Government, that the rebellion in Massachusetts, or rather, I should say, the revolution there, had its origin in a much slighter cause than that which now aggrieves the Irish people. I call it a revolution, and even had it not been successful, I should not have termed it a rebellion. It is not every struggle that deserves to be called a rebellion; if the right of the suffering parties be clear—if the oppression practised upon them be more than human nature can endure, who will call their just resistance a rebellion? What drew down the revolutionary war which separated America from England—what but the refusal to accord to the Americans any other than a trial by Englishmen? Something infinitely worse, however, is intended for the Irish than even the transmission of the Catholics of the South to be tried by the prejudiced Orangemen of the North. If such a course of policy be attempted, I hope most confidently that it will be instantly and signally defeated, I do hope and expect that it will be at once repudiated by the high-minded Re-formers of England. I ask, will such a policy be sanctioned by this House, composed as it now is, of a great body of enlightened Reformers, I ask you, the Reformers of England, will you say, that the Trial by Jury is to become dead letter, and that the Writ of Habeas Corpus is to cease—that the single declaration of one man is sufficient for the imprisonment of the Irish people—that we, the Irish, are to hold our liberties at the will and pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant, and that his single dictum is sufficient to put a whole district out of the pale of the law? The hon. member for Oldham, with the straight-forward good sense which marks everything that falls from him, declines to call this measure a suspension of the Habeas Corpus; he prefers using terms which have nothing of art in them, and he tells us plainly that which every man must understand, and which correctly describes the literal fact, namely, that this is neither more nor less than a power of indefinite imprisonment—an absolute power of imprisonment; and even when you do bring the Irish to trial, by what sort of tribunal is their guilt or innocence to be ascertained? Forsooth, by five military officers, who have been two years in the service, and have attained the age of 21.
Ay, the majority of five. Three military officers, who have been two years in the service, and have attained the age of twenty-one, will be sufficient to decide on the lives, liberties, and properties, of Irishmen.
rose to order. We find one hon. and learned Gentleman correcting another, in order that he might be most minute and correct as to the details of the measure submitted to the consideration of the other House; it is therefore a farce and an absurdity to say, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin is avoiding the details of the measure now before the other House; but he goes on and perseveres in the discussion of those details; knowing, at the same time, that his Majesty's Government cannot join issue with him upon any one of these details.,
The right hon. Gentleman says, that he and his colleagues cannot answer me; and by way of establishing that position, he treats me to an instalment of a reply. I confess I am utterly unable to comprehend what there is to prevent the right hon. Gentleman from following me through the whole course of the observations which I have been making. I attribute to his Majesty's Ministers certain designs, and I tell them that I will vote against going into a Committee of Supply, until I have expressed my opinions and feelings as to what those designs are said to be, and until I have ascertained precisely their scope and tendency Oh! give us some fair play. What; will you not only oppress the unfortunate Irish themselves, but silence their chosen though talentless advocate? Am I thus to be put down, and replied to by instalments?
§ The Speaker
I had hoped that I succeeded in making myself understood. I took the liberty of saying, that nothing could be more inconsistent with order, or more inconvenient in practice, than the discussion of measures pending before the other House of Parliament; and I said this the rather, because, at the moment, the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin, was, if not discussing, at least touching very closely upon subjects actually under the consideration of the House of Lords; since then he has gone much further, and entered into a discussion of the merits of an intended tribunal, and arguing with respect to the 886 numbers, ages, and other qualifications of the Judges of whom that tribunal was to be composed.
I am desirous of not transgressing order; and I really think, if what I have said, and what I intend to say, be viewed in its true light, no hon. Member will say, that it is out of order: and I am sure it is because I have not succeeded in making the form in which I pursue the object I aim at apparent, that I am thus supposed to be out of order. I do attribute certain designs—not to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland—because, for form sake, we will put him out of view; but I do attribute to the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, certain intentions with respect to Ireland—it may be that I calumniate him. If so, nothing can be easier for him than to wipe out any stain upon his character which such an imputation may affix. I attribute to him the design of placing the lives and liberties of his Majesty's subjects at the disposal of a majority of five officers of the line, not one of whom may be more than three-and-twenty years of age. I attribute to him the design of placing the lives and liberties of his Majesty's subjects in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant and three such officers. There is no obligation upon the noble Lord to sit silent: he may in a moment fling from him the imputation, and cast it to the winds, I say, I understand that he intends to propose and support a measure in this House, which hesitate not to describe as the most appaling instance of cold, heartless despotism—of a tyrannous determination to crush the freedom of a people, really unoffending—that the history of mankind can furnish. America revolted for less cause; for still a Trial by jury was allowed to the Americans, but it is denied to the Irish; they may be convicted and condemned by three ensigns or lieutenants, as the case may be. Need I suggest to the House that the members of the military profession, above all others in the community, are open to the influence of apprehension and the hope of reward; by apprehension, of course, I do not mean mere physical cowardice, but an apprehension of the displeasure of their superiors, and the hope of promotion in their profession. These judges, as they are called, are emphatically not independent. They may lose their offices—I say they may. The right to dismiss a military officer is a 887 part of the prerogative of the Crown. Not only may the refractory be dismissed, but the supple and complying may be rewarded with the Government of round towers, and I know not what—yes, these are the tribunals to which I understand it is the intention of the noble Lord to propose that the people of Ireland should be subjected, and a tribunal, too, which shall possess the power to punish witnesses if they do not give testimony. I am old enough to remember the dreadful events of the year 1798; I remember that, in that year, an unfortunate man, named Grady, was brought before a Court-martial—I remember, too, that at the time to which I am calling attention, the great Catholic counties were every one of them quiet, and Kerry was so perfectly undisturbed that there was not a soldier in the whole county. In that county but one solitary outrage took place, and that was occasioned thus—there were a few ill-advised individuals who thought it a good measure to place a quantity of arms and ammunition in the barracks at Tralee, and the custody of them was confided to three drunken yeomen; some persons came from the county of Limerick, overpowered this slender guard, and carried off the arms; some persons, charged with this offence, were brought before a Court-martial, and tried. The witness Grady, when they were first taken into custody, said, he thought he knew one of them; he was not bound over, but he was compelled to attend the trial, and when he was then examined, and called upon to identify one of them, he expressed some doubts, and could not positively declare that he was one of the party—the unfortunate man was sent out, and endured 100 lashes—he was then called in, and required to identify the prisoner; this he was unable to do, and a second time he was sent out, and again received 100 lashes—again was he called in, and once more interrogated—again he declared that conscientiously he could not identify the prisoner, and a third time was he sent out to be flogged; but before the 300 lashes were inflicted, he fainted, and so ended the prosecution. Are we to have Courts-martial again in Ireland? are all the oppressive acts of all their predecessors to be revived by the present Administration? and are they to superinduce Courts-martial upon those? And, in addition to Courts-martial, are they to give the right of punishing 888 witnesses? Are they further to improve upon that, by removing all legal responsibility? And is all this to be sanctioned by a body of enlightened Englishmen, assembled in the nineteenth century? We, the Irish Members, stood by your English Reformers during the long and arduous struggle for an improvement in the constitution of this House, and will you desert us now that the liberties of our country are at stake? I will not enter further into these details; why need I? If there be a lover of liberty in this House—if there be a single free spirit within these walls—I have said enough to prove all that my cause requires, and words can do no more. What do I require? Let the breasts of English Reformers respond to that interrogatory. What I say is, let no one man have the power of outlawing my country. Let the liberties of Irishmen not depend upon the results of talebearing. I demand inquiry—let me be confronted face to face with the calumniators of my country—let me have an inquiry at that bar—and let there be an end to the system in Ireland which gives the class of persons ostensibly employed to put down disturbances a direct interest in promoting and exciting them. Do not place the Irish in a worse condition than the negro slaves of the West Indies, who, happily for themselves, do not feel the degradation of their condition. Give me an inquiry in the face of day, and I pledge myself to show the real causes of discontent, and the sources of disturbance. Not only are the Irish people to be deprived of the other rights to which I have called attention, but they are to lose the right of petition—you impose upon them the most grievous penalties, and you tell them they shall not even complain. It was a refusal of the right to petition that drove the House of Stuart from the Throne of these realms—other causes might have contributed, but Englishmen would not endure a refusal of the right to petition. The last of the Stuarts infringed the religious freedom of the country. I agree with him in religious doctrines and discipline; but I reject, abhor, and despise him as a politician; and I maintain that his intolerance proves him never to have understood or felt the influence of that holy religion of which he was a professor. He infringed the right of petition, and that formed a ground for the Revolution; and that Revolution constitutes the title- 889 deed of the present Monarch of England to his Throne; and a better title to it a Monarch could not have, though there has since been added to that title whatever advantage mere hereditary right could bestow. Now, I beg permission to put this question—Is not the right of petition as dear to Irishmen as ever it was to Englishmen? Is it not more necessary for us than ever it was for you? Have we not greater and more intolerable grievances to complain of? In poverty and misery, ought not the voice of Irish complaint to be heard? By saying to the wretched: you shall not tell your tale of woe, you take from him his last resource, and you impose upon suffering humanity its last horrible aggravation. I have been told that predial insurrection has been the consequence of political agitation. I say, that directly the reverse is the fact. Again I would repeat the challenge for inquiry, for I hesitate not to affirm, that every species of calumny I could disprove. I say further, that predial agitation has not been found to exist in any quarter where it has not arisen from local oppression. Take up any case of predial agitation that you think proper, and you will find it commencing with the usual crimes—the same quantity of murders committed; but the question for an enlightened and Reformed Parliament to determine is, how far Ministers were instrumental in keeping it on foot? I lately read in a newspaper one of the greatest falsehoods—and that is a bold word—that ever appeared in a public print. It stated, that the county of Cork is at this moment disturbed. There never was anything more untrue. It is equally untrue that the King's County, Clare, or Galway, are disturbed; neither is Mayo, Sligo, or any part of the North disturbed. In Louth a predial insurrection was recently stopped, but not by the interference of Government. I am sorry the member for Worcester is not now in his place, for I am sure, if he were, I should induce him to feel, that he had not done justice to Ireland, in voting impliedly for the coercion of Ireland, by supporting the Address; and I the more regret it, when I remember that there is no Member in this House whose support of Ministers is more independent, or whose opposition to them partakes less of a factious character. It does not become me to speak in public of anything that I myself 890 may have done; but if I had the member for Worcester in private, I think I should succeed in convincing him, that I have succeeded more effectually than any other individual in preventing predial insurrection. So anxiously and earnestly did I engage in that work in the year 1822, that an address of mine appeared so useful to the humane and gallant officer who commanded the forces stationed at Cork, where the disturbances chiefly prevailed—I allude to Sir John Lambert—that, out of his own pocket, he defrayed the expense of printing and circulating 36,000 copies of that Address. I claim, then, to be most successful in preventing predial insurrection; and I will prove that assertion, if you will grant me an inquiry at the bar of this House. As to any disturbances that may exist at present, I maintain that they are confined chiefly to the county of Kilkenny. If any outrages have been committed in Wexford, I have every reason to believe that they have been committed by strangers. They have begun with one or two barbarous murders as usual [A laugh]. Do I palliate or deny the existence of crime? I do no such thing; but I differwith some hon. Members as to the causes. But that laugh proves, in an eminent degree, how ignorant this assembly is of the real state of Ireland; and if no other reason could be discovered, that laugh itself would prove the most powerful argument in favour of a Repeal of the Legislative Union; for it proves a perfect absence of knowledge with respect to Ireland, and a complete incapacity to legislate for that country. Once for all, I beg to repeat my protest against this system of Martial-law. I tell the House that Special Commissions would accomplish all that could be required—all that any man could demand. Special Commissions never have failed; or, if one failed, the second always succeeded. Two years ago, in Clare, the insurgents were complete masters of the country, but two Special Commissions put an end to the whole disturbance. If Government would only issue a permanent Commission of that kind, all difficulty would disappear. In Cork, two Commissions succeeded; in Limerick, two were attended with the same results; and so, likewise, in Clare and Galway. I will prove, too, at the bar, if permitted, that there would not be the slightest difficulty in obtaining honest and independent Jurors; there 891 is but one instance of a Juror having been at all inconvenienced, even in consequence of any verdict he might have given; and that, Gentlemen, was the agent of an absentee landlord, and, therefore, not likely to be popular on other accounts, for everything harsh the absentee leaves to his agent, and everything gracious he assumes to himself. As to witnesses, the greatest misrepresentation has gone abroad with respect to them. I know one instance in the county of Clare where a witness attends mass and markets and every public place, though he gave testimony against the persons concerned in twelve assassinations. When a county happens to be disturbed, what does the Government usually do? They increase the police force. That may be a very wise and prudent precaution; but it would be much more judicious to increase the military force, for, by increasing the police, you give an influential class a direct interest in promoting disturbance. The hon. and learned Gentleman then read a letter from the reverend Mr. Fahy, of Tullough, describing the efforts made by spies in the pay of some persons not known, to seduce the people from peaceable habits, and prevail upon them to take unlawful oaths. One of those persons, the letter stated, was arrested, and the peasantry found the greatest difficulty in prevailing on the police to remove them to the County gaol. The acts of the police are arbitrary, and their authority is all-powerful, as may be proved by their conduct in the case of Paddy M' Hugh. His father is suspected by them—they enter the house of the son, a respectable person, and a freeholder—a rusty gun-barrel is found, and the police drag him, without remorse, nine miles from his dwelling, and lodge him in the jail of Tullough. In this instance, neither the house nor the gunbarrel belonged to the father. No Magistrate is consulted—no committal is signed. Why should there? It would be loss of time—unnecessary—the police are all and everything—their authority is sovereign! I remonstrated with them in this case, and promised that I would bring the affair before a Reformed House of Commons, where I could prove that this same prisoner—or rather this victim of police outrage—deserved to be remunerated by the present Government, if it wished to reward those who laboured for the pacification of Ireland. During the reign of Terry-Altism, this maltreated 892 individual risked the loss of his life in defending his father, who refused to take unlawful oaths. I could bring before this House many more examples of loyalty given by men who are now to be put under Martial-law. I am ready to produce, at the bar of this House, evidence that will show whether the coercive measures proposed by Government be expedient or not. And I say to you, when I am prepared with such evidence, can you, ought you, to legislate for a country or a people without the most deliberate inquiry into it and them? What; are the people of a whole country to be outlawed upon the mere ipse dixit of a Minister? Their crime—see what it is—they interfere with the acts of a bad Government by petitions, and they are guilty of the most heinous of offences—political agitation. Oh, what folly in Ministers! They do not wish for a Repeal of the Union, yet nothing shows more the infallible necessity of that Repeal than their measures. They are contributing more to hasten a Repeal of the Union than all the agitators put together. And why should it not be so? Let us reverse the case. Suppose an Irish Parliament legislating for the English people, and passing such laws for them, as the English Government are now endeavouring to pass for the Irish, what would be the consequence? Birmingham would rise and send her determined thousands to remonstrate at the very doors of their senate-house; Sheffield would instantly give proofs of the spirit of her inhabitants; and the very stones of London would "rise and mutiny," until the spark that animated them was extinguished in blood. Englishmen would never allow themselves to be debased by such a measure; then why should Irishmen? For my own part, I have been accused of intentions that I never dreamt of; and if I feared calumny, I should long since have quitted the arena of politics. I care not bow much I am calumniated, when the vials of defamation are poured upon me on account of my exertions in behalf of my country. I deserve not calumny, and the English people will see that I do not, when I say, in my justification—if justification in my case be necessary—that I have ever been, and still am, most attached to a British connexion. Such an avowal may be turned against me in Ireland, but I risk everything rather than abandon truth. 893 Yes, as long as I saw the utility of the connexion—and an immense utility may exist—I should prefer seeing this House doing justice to my countrymen rather than it should be done by a local Legislature. I repeat that this avowal is likely to be turned against me in Ireland, but I adhere to it, for it is my decided opinion. If I thought that the machinery of the present Government would work well for Ireland, there never lived a man more ready to facilitate its movements than I am. The only reason I have for being a repealer is the injustice of the present Government towards my country. That Government must be unjust so long as it lacks proper and impartial information; and this House must legislate, as it were, hood-winked, until the necessary inquiries are made by it. I have been accused of selfish motives when I agitated, and cried out for a repeal. I can be liable to no such accusation now, when I declare that this projected measure of his Majesty's Government is more conducive to a Repeal of the Union than all my agitation, though it were a hundred-fold greater. You may put down meetings, repress associations, smother public harangues; but tell me how can you gag private conversation and private communication, which, when resorted to, must be still more dangerous than open proceedings? The truth is—and I will out with it—that Ministers, in wishing to pass this Act of Parliament, have an after-thought. It is not directed against those who are repealers, for nothing can be less calculated to prevent Repeal. I'll tell you what it is directed against—and I only tell you what I in my conscience believe—its direction, its real intention, is to enforce the collection and payment of tithes. When this Act of Parliament shall have passed, let any parish resist the payment of tithes, and let, in that parish, by any—the clearest accident—be burned a corn-stack or a hay-stack, and then will it be seen to what the accident is attributable. Woe to such a parish, and woe to the man in it that dares refuse tithes! For them there will be no other mercy than the tender pity of dragoons and marines. Let the Reformers of England mind what I have just said; they will find the truth of my words—this measure is intended to effect the payment of tithes, and nothing else. When I say this, I know that I am only widening the accusations of selfish- 894 ness with which I am constantly taunted; but I will again tell my accusers that I solemnly protest against every shade of midnight crime—that I detest and abhor as much—most probably more than they do—the very mention of murder and blood. I stand here the sincere but humble advocate of my country; and I am most ready to adopt any additional enactment with respect to it, provided it can be shown that such enactment will prevent the crimes complained of—will punish the guilty, without making the innocent suffer. I am for preserving the Constitution; for I wish that Ministers would have recourse to no means but constitutional ones; and I offer them—if my profession gives me any superiority over laymen—I repeat, I here publicly offer them, to the full extent, ray services and cordial co-operation. I suggest that constitutional law should be adhered to—that criminals or those supposed to be so, should be brought before a Jury of their countrymen—and that the Judges of the land should try them, and that they should not be subjected to the sentence of military officers. For the crimes of a few, why should a whole country be put under Martial-law? The only persons Government have to fear—and the only persons I fear—are White-boys and White feet. They, and such as they, are the only portion of the Irish who are enemies to the amelioration of their country; they alone oppose resistance to the execution of the laws; and it is against them alone, and not against the innocent, that severe measures should be directed. It is a calumny—a deep, false, and foul calumny—to dare aver, that the political agitators of Ireland are in any way connected with those infringers of the law. I have now, I perceive, trespassed for a long time upon the patience of the House, but I make no apology for having done so, since my voice has been lifted up in the pure cause of freedom and of constitutional liberty. I have a few remarks more to make—a few questions to put to Ministers. Why do you want extraordinary measures? Have you not already a watchful and most subservient police? Have you not reporters and short-hand writers in your pay? Do they not attend every meeting? Does not every word that is uttered reach you? Are not all public proceedings detailed in the newspapers? Have you not in your power, at your beck—a ready machinery to detect all that may be libellous 895 and dangerous to you; and will not that machinery enable you to put a stop to all that you may object to? Why, then, demand coercive powers? You have Juries which try and punish. Ah! but your excuse is, that then there would be witnesses! You want none—you want no witnesses—no Juries:—Yes, you do; you want those Juries which will convict without testimony. I again beseech the House to demand that information be given it. I entreat it not to be biassed or led away by idle tales, or by the authority of any set of men, Ministers though they should be. I supplicate the House to insist upon a full, ample, and detailed inquiry into Irish affairs; for it is only after such inquiry that crime can be met with punishment—that it can be effectually obviated—and that relief can be afforded to the grievances which exist. But, no; you are called upon to legislate without having obtained any certain and satisfactory information. Well, you grant the powers that are asked of you. Will those powers—will Martial-law, think you, tend to relieve the peasant, or render him more tractable? Will they tend to do away with the evils of absenteeism? Will they make the landlord exact less—will they render him less grinding? To these questions I distinctly answer, no. On the contrary, this is the very process—this savagery of legal war, if I may use the expression is the very way to make the evils complained of increase to the most aggravated height. Let those measures be adopted—let tyranny be exercised, and to the troops of the Government that exercises it, will be presented the same image that struck Ludlow when he marched for three days through the now fertile and populous county of Louth—an image of desolation—not a vestige of cultivation—not a trace of human being! But this image will not be confined to one county; it will meet your troops at every step in their progress through the nation. I once more implore Englishmen to have recourse to inquiry, and not to find my countrymen guilty on the strength of the mere assertions of Government. I solicit inquiry; and if the result of it should be unfavourable to us—if Englishmen should think we ought to be governed by such measures as those now proposed, why then I shall be the first to say: let Ireland submit. She will submit, if she be found guilty; for never was a nation so willing to acknowledge 896 her errors, and stoop to the penance that may be imposed for her faults. She has always given proofs of this spirit, though she has been told by Sir John Davis and Lord Redesdale, that with respect to her inhabitants, there was always one law for the poor and another for the rich. In the face of a Reformed Parliament I call upon its English Members to justify the expectations that not only the nation but the whole of Europe have in them. I call upon them not to give their sanction to these measures—not to condemn unheard, and confound every civil and political right. Before they act unjustly towards Ireland, I bid them be cautious, and reflect upon the monetary and commercial system of their country. I bid them, think upon the powers of Europe. Let injustice be done to Ireland, and you will see what weight England will have in the congress of nations! Let insurrection and rebellion be created in Ireland, and you will soon seethe value of your three per cents upon the Stock Exchange! Be unjust to Ireland, and your measures of economy will go for nought. You must have an increased standing army—you will have thousands of other mercenaries under various denominations, to support, and the taxation you complain of must be kept up, if not increased. Besides which, you will have its moral consequences—you will be accused in the face of Europe of ingratitude; and it will be said, that Ireland hates you, as she ought, if you sanction such measures to be passed against her. England, your country, is at this moment powerful, for she is compact, and as it were coiled up. If she is so, she owes it in a great part to Irishmen, who aided her in her political agony, saved her from the weakness resulting from the distraction of party; and restored her to the vigour that, when contented, she possesses. I sit down with the hope that the glad tidings will ere long reach my country, that independent Englishmen and Scotchmen will prove, by their resistance to the passing of those measures, that they prefer the inviolability of the Constitution to all other considerations. Their vote upon this occasion will not only preserve the Constitution, but render the Union of the two countries durable. I mean, if that vote be, as I trust it will be, against the enactment now projected by Government. May they, in the event of their resistance to injustice, ingratitude, and oppression, 897 have their reward. There is one that I can promise them—their names, how uncouth soever their sound, will be re-echoed in the vallies of ray country, and, at the mention of them, blessings will be poured upon the heads of those to whom they belong.
§ Lord Althorp
was quite assured, that the House did not expect, that he would follow, in detail, the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had just sat down. He did not mean to do so; nor to discuss, for the present, any of the hon. and learned Member's arguments. But he could not help saying, that the hon. and learned Member had, in the most unusual manner possible, dragged in the discussion of the measures that Government contemplated towards Ireland. He would not follow the example of irregularity set by the hon. and learned Member, and would defer speaking upon the measure until it was brought before the House, when it would be seen whether the statements on each side were founded in fact or not. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, at some length, the great evils that would attend the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; but when the measure was regularly before the House, the House would decide whether its temporary suspension was not preferable to the continuance of the evils with which Ireland was afflicted. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that there was no relation between predial and political agitation, and he referred to the state of Ireland in the years 1821 and 1824. He (Lord Althorp) should be prepared to prove, that there existed a close connexion between them, and that crimes were as great now as they were then, and consequently required the same remedies. It might be of some injury to his Majesty's Government to allow the statements of the hon. and learned Member to go forth without contradiction. He would not now disprove those statements one by one; but he would publicly enter his protest against their general veracity, solely with the view that Government might not be injured by them. If the duty devolved upon him to bring forward those measures in that House, he would not do so unless he found himself prepared to show that there were sufficient grounds for their adoption.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
could not bring himself to assent to the temporary suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, nor to 898 the introduction into Ireland of the Insurrection Act; and he joined with the hon. member for Dublin in imploring the House to refuse their sanction to such violent and extreme measures, and not to condemn Ireland to bloodshed and to every species of extemporaneous tyranny, without being heard in her own behalf. He had the honour to represent one of the largest counties in Ireland; and it had been asserted within the walls of that House, that the disturbances in the county which he represented (Cork) were carried to such an extent as to demand for their suppression the immediate application of those violent remedies which the measure in question contained. Now, he was perfectly cognizant of the state of the county of Cork, and he utterly denied the existence of any such disturbances as had been described, for there had not been a single case of outrage within the last five months in the county of Cork, with the exception of that to which the hon. member for the University of Dublin had referred; and he asked, was that isolated instance of disorder to be made the excuse for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the institution of military tribunals in that country? Let him also refer to evidence in this case, which would be the more acceptable to the Ministers, inasmuch as he who furnished it was one of their own officers, and, at all events, would be acquitted by them of any desire to give a partial colouring to facts against them. He was acquainted with one of the assistant barristers for the county of Cork, and that gentleman assured him, not long since, that not one of the cases which had come before him in his public capacity for the last several months was in any way connected with political outrages. Were there not also many other Gentlemen present in that House who were able to state what the condition of the county of Cork had been for the last five months, and now was; and, in the face of such evidence, were the inhabitants of that county to be subjected to military force, and the arbitrary proceedings of irresponsible Courts-martial? And as to the chance of fair treatment which the people would have from these Courts-martial, he would venture to say, although the hon. member for Dublin was interrupted when he hinted at the possibility that the Crown would exert the power it possessed 899 of suspending those officers who did not act in these Courts-martial, in accordance with the wishes of the Ministers—he would, he repeated, venture to say, that the year 1798 was not so far gone by but that the memories of many were impressed with the recollection of certain men, who, in the execution of the arbitrary powers in trusted to them, went far beyond the limits of their just authority, and who, notwithstanding, now filled situations of great emolument and honour in the public service. With whom did the military officers, serving in Ireland, associate, but the Magistrates? And would they not thus imbibe a tinge of those feelings which impelled those functionaries in the performance of their duties, and which disqualified them for executing the trust to be given to military officers by the proposed Bill? Were not the Ministers acting most ungratefully to thoseby whom they had been constantly supported during their struggle for the Reform Bill? Were not the members for Ireland their faithful adherents during the two Sessions which had been occupied by that measure? And did the Ministers think of suppressing the tithe meetings until after the Reform Bill was passed? Indeed, he might truly ask, if such measures as were now in contemplation for Ireland, were to be proposed for England or Scotland, would not they, their countrymen and fellow-subjects, be the first to assist them in struggling against such arbitrary proceedings? To whom were the provisions of the Bill to be confided? Who was to have the execution of them? Were they not to be intrusted, in reality, to the Magistrates? And who, of all the public functionaries in that country, had so far forgotten humanity and compassion as that body? He spoke generally, and he spoke too, with a knowledge of facts which bore him out in his assertion. He knew of instances where fines of 5s. had been doubled, and where people, on their refusal to pay fines of 10s., had been sent to gaol. All he asked for his countrymen was, a fair and full hearing, and that whilst justice was constantly talked of, some would be granted them—some compassion at least for their miseries, be awarded them by the House of Commons. He was there, the Representative of 800,000 of their fellow-subjects, and he entreated the House not to suffer him to ask in vain for a redress of the grievances 900 endured by his constituents. Was the military flag to fly over the judgment seat? Were the epaulettes and scarlet to usurp the ermine? Had there been a Mr. Grey, or a Mr. Brougham, in that House, would they not have defended his country from these outrages? Let it be remembered that Ireland contained 8,000,000 of people; and let Ministers reflect that, although they might destroy many thousands, yet there would be other thousands who would survive, and those would ever hold in remembrance the unnecessary and cruel effusion of blood that the measures now about to be enforced would cause, and which might have been avoided did there exist amongst the Ministry that spirit of humanity and justice which was ever the best guarantee for a nation's fidelity.
§ Colonel Conolly
felt himself imperatively called upon, in consequence of the assertions which had been made in the course of the present discussion, to state, to the extent of his knowledge what the real condition of Ireland was, and also the opinion he entertained of the measures about to be adopted to remedy that condition. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had exerted his customary eloquence in the taunts which he had indulged in, whilst characterising the conduct of Ministers towards Ireland; but he must acknowledge, that he did not think the taunts of the hon. and learned Member were, in the present instance, merited. He had ever deprecated having resort to such strong and forcible measures, as the Bill against which the arguments he had been listening to were directed was intended to introduce into Ireland; but he must acknowledge that a dire and stern necessity called for the instant adoption of such severe measures in this case. He sincerely deplored the situation in which the country to which he belonged was placed; but he could not silently stand by, and hear it said, that Ireland was in a state of tranquillity. His testimony, therefore, with respect to the present condition of Ireland, was, that the measures which he understood from report to be in contemplation. were absolutely and imperiously called for; that order should be restored, and that peaceable and well-disposed persons in that country should be delivered from a force which was infinitely more tyrannical than any power which could be delegated by the House to the authorities in Ireland. 901 He could not pretend to know, at present, the extent to which the contemplated measures went, that were to be proposed to Parliament; but he did know to some extent the evils to which they were intended to put an end; and, he must declare, that the tyranny exerted over the opinions and minds of the better-disposed classes of the people in Ireland, was unexampled in any former period of history, however disturbed. He would assert, on his own knowledge, that there was no man in the provinces of Leinster or Munster, who could venture to express an opinion inimical or hostile to those of the organized disturbers of the public peace, by whom he was on all sides surrounded; nor could he exercise an opinion or agency, without incurring the most awful responsibility. He maintained his assertion, and would abide by its truth. He himself resided within ten miles of Dublin, and he had not very long since received a threatening declaration, that his house would be burnt over his head, because he had parted with a steward. The hon and learned member for Dublin had declared, in the course of his speech that evening, that he had never been within some hundred miles of any tithe meeting in Ireland, and that he had never presided at any such meeting. Now, he had in his possession, as a Magistrate, sworn declarations, wherein it was stated, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin had been the chief person at a tithe meeting at Leixlip, and wherein the declarator swore, that the hon. and learned Member, after exhorting the people over whom he presided as chairman not to pay one shilling of tithes, had walked off with 50l. of their money in his pocket, which was subscribed for him. Were not such acts gross impositions upon the excitable and inflammable people of whom his auditors were composed? Here was a man, who, by playing with the passions of the people, was driving them to violations of the law, holding out to them impunity to crimes; and could he be said to have any humanity in his breast, and to be actuated by a regard for the happiness and welfare of the wretched and misguided people whom he thus misled? It was painful to him, to speak in the manner he did of his fellow-countrymen, but it was his duty to them which prompted him; and, if his voice could in any way be serviceable to his country, it was by disabusing the House, and by correcting 902 the false and erroneous impressions which many persons attempted to give of the actual condition of Ireland. He would yield to no man who heard him in humane and liberal sentiments towards Ireland; but, notwithstanding he had been threatened to have his house burnt over his head, he would openly declare, that he approved, to the extent of his knowledge of them, of the measures which Ministers intended to resort to for the purpose of quelling the disturbances, and of restoring order and tranquillity; and he only regretted that the lives and property of the peaceable residents in Ireland had not been protected by the introduction of such measures at a much earlier period of the commencement of these disorders. He would not now enter upon any discussion of the nature of those remedies which were to be applied, but he wonld say, that every person of respectability in Ireland had been long in a discontented and dejected state, owing to the long continuance of the threats to which they were exposed; and that the measure was hailed by their friends as the only thing calculated to cheer them, and inspire them with hopes for the future; and, however much he might regret the departure of Ministers on the present occasion from the strict line of the Constitution, yet, in the circumstances under which they did so, they were fully borne out; and as far as he could, from the imperfect knowledge he possessed of their intentions, he approved of the measure, and would testify that it was imperiously called for, in order that life and property might be protected, as at present no security existed for either in Ireland.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the gallant Officer who had stated with great distinctness that he supported the entire of the measures which were said to be in the contemplation of Ministers, had displayed a not unnatural predilection for that species of tribunal, which, it was rumoured, they were about to erect in Ireland, to supersede its ordinary judicature. The House would be competent to judge, from the emotions which the gallant officer had just displayed, how far he was likely to prove a calm, and dispassionate, and impartial Judge, if he were to be appointed one of the triumvirate of officers, who were to have the liberty or the exile of the people of Ireland in their possession. The descriptions of the gallant Officer were very vivid, but still there was in them a 903 want of good drawing. He had spread his colours too broadly; but when his picture was examined in detail, it was found, that there was only one prominent feature in it. Everybody who knew, must admire the magnificence of the gallant Officer's splendid mansion in Ireland. It was no small portion of his (Mr. Sheil's) reminiscences, and, it so happened, that it formed no small portion of the gallant Officer's own. He was sure that the House would perceive that he had said nothing to the discredit of the gallant Officer; but he thought that the House would not forget, that the gallant Officer, in describing the disturbed state of Ireland, had limited himself to one fact, and that was, that he had been threatened to have his house burned over his head, merely because he had ventured to dismiss his steward. Now, when Gentlemen came forward, not merely to cast vituperation upon his hon. and learned friend, Mr. O'Connell, but also to present themselves as the advocates of peculiar principles, it would be better for them to go into more details than those into which the gallant Officer had entered. As the gallant Officer had stated that the whole of the south of Ireland was in a state of disturbance, it would not have been objectionable if he, who was member for Donegal in the north of Ireland, and lived in the county of Kildare, had stated some few items in proof of it, instead of expatiating generally on the lamentable condition of Ireland, respecting which, in a moral point of view, little doubt, he believed, was entertained. He could not forbear from offering his humble but sincere encomium to the gallant officer, for the impartiality with which he had conferred his support upon this measure, which, it was rumoured, but he could not believe the rumour, was in the contemplation of his Majesty's Ministers. It was rumoured, that the measure was not to be limited to one class of persons, or to one class of opinions; but that it was to extend to certain societies which prevailed in the county of Donegal, and which were said to be patronized by the gallant Officer. Unquestionably, therefore, the gallant Officer was entitled to their panegyric for his fairness, as he was now giving his approbation to a mass of measures, which were calculated to bring not only himself, but his friends, under the lash of this forcible, and he (Mr. Sheil) would add, oppressive law. He perceived 904 —nobody Could help perceiving—that there was on the part of the House, a strong disinclination, founded on the sense of its inconvenience, to enter into the discussion of a subject which was not then regularly before it, and for which there would be many ampler opportunities of discussion. From the manner in which the suggestion of the noble Lord opposite was received by the House, he would not detain them longer by dwelling upon topics which had been so ably and so copiously discussed by his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin; because, independently of all other considerations, it would be most injudicious on his part to discuss this subject now at any length. He thought, however, that it would not be unimportant that one or two facts, which had come within his own knowledge, should be stated as to the condition of Ireland, in order that the blow, struck by the Legislature at the vitality of freedom, should not be struck in the dark. He abstained from going into a discussion of the rumoured measure clause by clause; but he felt that he should be justified in stating—nay, that he was compelled by his duty to state, one or two facts which required grave consideration by all those who were called upon to pass a measure of severity, unparalleled in the annals of legislation. The first fact was this:—It was not true—and he made this assertion without meaning offence to any man; those who thought differently might be misinformed, or might be acting upon impressions, which, though erroneous, they might believe to be correct;—but it was not true, that, in the south of Ireland, the administration of justice had not been effectual and complete. He did not intend to limit himself to vague asseverations like the gallant Officer—on the contrary, he would come at once to details. There were, in several counties of Ireland, various prosecutions recently instituted against the combinators against tithes. Those persons were charged with an offence, the trial of which was one that excited the deep sympathy of the great mass of the population, it had been alleged, that on these prosecutions the attendance of witnesses could not be obtained, and that jurors could not be procured. Now, he could from his own personal knowledge, declare, that both witnesses and jurors attended in considerable numbers. Were there acquittals of the defendants on those prosecutions? 905 Let those who had heard that a system of terrorism prevailed in Ireland, which prevented witnesses either from coming forward, or from speaking the truth when they did come forward, and which prevented jurors from performing their duty according to the dictates of their consciences and the solemnity of their oaths—let those persons know, that in all those prosecutions, conviction was obtained against the defendants. Government obtained verdicts in the provinces; it obtained them in Dublin, not once only, but twice, for the alleged tithe combination at Bornabreena; it obtained them also in Kerry; it obtained them also in Cork, where the juries were Catholic; it was equally successful in Limerick; it was equally successful in Clonmel. He had heard, in another place, a person of great eminence, whose past life of public virtue would not, he trusted, form a singular contrast with his present proceedings,—he had heard that person, whose name however he would not mention, allude to those very tithe prosecutions as grounds for this measure of unexampled severity. Now, on this subject, he spoke from his own personal knowledge. There were three trials of this kind at the late assizes for Clonmel. He was on one of them, as counsel for the defendant. A vast array of Crown counsel was drawn up against him. Let such English gentlemen as had heard that witnesses could not be induced to attend, and that jurors could not be induced to pronounce verdicts against defendants in such cases, attend to the facts which he was about to recite. In all those three cases, convictions were obtained by the Crown. The defendants were convicted, sentenced, and carried off to gaol as prisoners, and there he believed some of them remained now, contributing the evidence of their pallid faces to the necessity of the abolition of the Trial by Jury, and the establishment of martial law. It had been said, that the administration of justice in Ireland was so imperfect, that the ordinary tribunals must be set aside, and that courts-martial must be established in their stead. The facts which he had just mentioned would enable the House to judge whether this was not the grossest delusion ever attempted to be practised on the credulity of Englishmen. He would then pass to another series of facts, for it was right that the House, and the people of Ireland, and the people of England too, 906 should be made aware of the sentiments entertained by his Majesty's present Ministers as to the impolicy and injustice of these measures of coercion. He had been speaking all along of these measures of coercion, as measures which were only rumoured to be in the contemplation of Ministers. That they were really in their contemplation was a vile calumny, a "mere invention of their enemies," for it was impossible that men who had expressed themselves so strongly as they had done against the injustice and impolicy of mere Insurrection Acts could ever contemplate a measure which far exceeded in severity any Insurrection Act that had ever been passed. The history of the different Insurrection Acts might be very shortly told. In the year 1801, the late Lord Castlereagh first proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the substitution of courts-martial for the ordinary judicial tribunals in Ireland. He proposed it only for three months—" My wish is that this Bill should be only for three months, in order that Parliament should have time to go into an inquiry, in case it should be necessary to have the measure further extended." Who was it resisted that proposition at that period, when Ireland was looking to France for redress, not merely on account of the stinging anguish of her own wrongs, but on account of the magnificent spectacle of power which France then exhibited to the world? Mr. Grey insisted that it was a monstrous and unexampled violation of the Constitution to have measures of such a description as the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the infliction of martial law upon so large a component part of the empire as Ireland passed without the slightest inquiry as to their necessity. But Earl Grey was said to insist that inquiry may be dispensed with, when, if rumour is to be credited, he is about to introduce a measure before which the Castlereagh code sinks into insignificance and evinces a regard for freedom. In 1807, Sir Arthur Wellesley introduced for the first time the Insurrection Act, having modelled it on a sanguinary statute passed by the Irish Parliament in 1796. Mr. Grattan expressed his concern that a bill of that nature should be necessary, and by so doing lost much of his former popularity. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day declared that it was against a French party, which was then popular in Ireland, that Mr. Grattan had 907 directed the Insurrection Act. At that time the main body of the present Ministry put in their veto not only against the establishment of martial law in Ireland, but also against the unconstitutional suppression of the right of petition. In 1810 Mr. Wellesley Pole moved the re-enactment of the Insurrection Act; and again, in 1814, the same measure was re-proposed by the right hon. member for Tamworth. He begged the particular attention of the House to what he was next going to say, as it touched not only Ireland, but the present Ministers to the core. The right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, on the 23rd of June, 1814, stated that 'there were combinations in Ireland, whose objects were to overthrow the existing Government, and to intimidate witnesses and jurors from acting independently and honestly in discharge of their respective duties in courts of justice.'* On the 8th of July in the same year, the right hon. Baronet brought in a bill to provide for restoring and preserving of peace in such parts of Ireland as were disturbed by unlawful combinations or conspiracies. In doing so, he read a letter, 'which had been put into his hand by an hon. Baronet, the member for the Queen's County, which stated that the Caravats were levying contributions from the little farmers every night, and seizing arms and ammunition wherever they could be found.'† He also described the outrages committed by the Carders, explaining that the operation of carding was performed with a wool card, with which the flesh was literally torn from the bones of the unfortunate creatures who happened to be exposed to the torture.'‡ That measure, so introduced, was opposed by a majority of the present Ministers. The state of things which that measure was intended to remedy was horrible; but was it exceeded by the savageness which is used as a pretext for the present measure? Certainly not. If the House wanted to know the efficacy of that measure, they might read it in the infamous burning of Wild Goose Lodge, when nineteen persons perished in the flames. In the year 1822, Lord Wellesley called for the renewal of this Insurrection Act, under circumstances which surpassed, in the number and diversity* Hansard, xxviii. p. 164†Ibid p. 648‡Ibid p. 649908 of crimes, anything that Was now suggested by Gentlemen on the other side. For what did his despatches state? That the south of Ireland was in actual rebellion—that the peasantry in the county of Cork were in arms—that they had posted themselves on the hills—that they had fought a battle with the King's troops at M'Croom—that murder stalked abroad by day, and that conflagration blazed in all directions by night. You would rather have supposed that Lord Wellesley was describing a country in a state of war after an actual campaign, than a country in which no hostile force had recently shown itself. What, on that occasion, was the language used by those hon. Gentlemen who now formed part of his Majesty's Government? First, he would beg leave to call the attention of the hon. member for Cambridge to the sentiments which he then expressed. Mr. Spring Rice said, that it was quite unwarrantable to have recourse to coercion without previous inquiry. How could the noble Lord rely so much upon the efficacy of laws which, having been already tried, had proved totally ineffectual to the restoration of tranquillity in Ireland? Lord Bacon had observed that to allay sedition you must expel the matter of it. But he was sorry to say, that no measures were taken to expel the matter of sedition in Ireland."* He (Mr. Shell) wished to call the particular attention of the House to what followed next, as it came from a man whom he really believed to be a genuine lover of his native country—Ireland. "What must Englishmen," continued Mr. Spring Rice, "and particularly the English Members of that House, think of the constituted tribunal invested with such extraordinary power as to be able to transport their fellow-subjects for seven years to Botany-bay without any reference of the case to the consideration of a jury."† Again Mr. Spring Rice proceeded as follows:—" As to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, he would appeal to any English Gentleman who heard him, whether he would agree to the enactment of such a measure for any part of England upon such documents as had been produced by the noble Marquess? He called, then, upon the members for England to deal with Ireland as they would with their own country."* Hansard (new series) vi. p. 122.†Ibid. p. 123.909 "He called upon them, nay, he implored the English Members, not to allow the constitution to be unnecessarily violated or suspended with respect to Ireland; for if they did, they must prepare their minds for the consequences."* This was the adjuration uttered from this side of the House, of which the member for Cambridge was then an ornament and he (Mr. Sheil) would adopt the same language of emphatic entreaty, and implore them to deal towards Ireland as if she were truly incorporated with this great country. For God's sake do not tell us one day that Ireland is like Yorkshire, and another act towards us a part which would make the blood of every Briton boil if it were applied to himself. But to go on. What said Lord Ebrington? "That there was not a single sentence of the communication of the Lord Lieutenant which could be construed into a call for any extraordinary powers, much less for such frightful and oppressive measure."† What, too, said Sir F. Burdett? 'Of all the topics introduced into the royal Speech, the most prominent and pressing; was certainly the state of Ireland. It was impossible to look at the condition of that unfortunate island without the deepest commiseration: a kind, and industrious, and a generous people had been driven to despair; and surely it was fit, on an occasion like the present, that something else should be held out to them than the sword. Their sufferings were grievous in the extreme; in some cases it had been seen they were so severe that the inhabitants preferred death in any shape to living under such complicated miseries. Perhaps the noble Marquess opposite would again employ his old assertion, about a transition from war to peace; but was not much of what was now endured in Ireland to be attributed to a transition from a state of independence to what was miscalled a state of Union? The gentlemen of Ireland and the people at large had been cajoled and hoaxed into a belief that the Union was to be complete and beneficial; yet it had turned out a mere parchment Union, by which Ireland had been so reduced to the last extremity of distress as to cause a danger even of permanent separation. Ministers had not made a single attempt* Hansard (new series) vi, p. 126.†Ibid. 138.910 to carry into effect any of the idle promises by which the Irish nation had been duped into a consent to its own destruction and debasement.' The House was here informed of the instrument by which the wound was inflicted; but where was the balm? The hon. and learned Gentleman then proceeded to read on:—" What were the views of Government upon this important subject? It was clear, that something ought to be done without a moment's delay; and it was equally clear that conciliation, as well as force, ought to be employed. There were three especial and striking grievances that affected Ireland. The first was the scandalous pretence on religious grounds for excluding men from their equal and just civil rights. This free and unlimited participation had been proposed at the time of the Union. This was an obvious and practical evil, and unless the meetings of this House were mere! matters of senseless form, it was bound to afford a speedy remedy—a remedy at all times within its power. The next grievance was the manner and mode of the tithing system. In the year 1782 what was the situation of Ireland? If she was then distressed, at least she had an ear I bound to listen to the public voice: she had a Parliament, and under that Parliament, though calumniated, she had enjoyed a surplus revenue of about a million sterling."* What did Mr. Brougham—now Lord Brougham and Vaux—say? 'He would seriously ask whether Gentlemen perceived the extent of the power which they were thus intrusting to the hands of others? They gave to Magistrates a right to enter into the most retired and delicate part of any dwelling-house, and, after a reasonable time, if refused admittance, a power to force the chambers even of females; and should any person be found absent upon this domiciliary visit, without reason being assigned, he was liable to seven years transportation. And all this they did without the interference of a grand jury—without the petty jury, by verdict—without allowing the aggrieved party any satisfactory appeal.'† And this is the man who calls on us now to do the very self-same thing—nay, more, to vote not only for the statute which he thus reprobated as an outrage to all humanity and*Hansard (new series) vi. p. 29 & 30.†Hansard (new series) vi. p. 141911 all law, but with a super-addition that renders the former act merciful by comparison, and makes us desire as a boon the solitary blessings of the Insurrection Act. He had not yet done with the Ministers. There was another before him—the great champion of Reform, who had been so often gloriously defeated in its cause, and had at length won a victory which would be remembered to all after time. In 1824, the renewal of the Insurrection Act was proposed. What said Lord John Russell? He said:—" If we were told that in Austria, Russia, or Prussia, a law was in operation by which the people were confined without light in their houses for twelve out of twenty-four hours, should we hesitate to pronounce such a law arbitrary and absurd?"* And yet the Act which was arbitrary and absurd in 1824, the noble Paymaster of the Forces feels no compunction in supporting in 1833. So much for Ireland. Turn now to England; and see whether any Minister ever acted, or dared to intimate that he would act, such a part as you are about to perform towards your miserable and helpless dependent. In 1819, Lancashire was in a condition represented to be most awful. Hundreds of thousands were said to be in arms, and the town of Manchester was then in a state almost of volcanic eruption. Whynot, then, treat Ireland as Lancashire had been dealt with, and not trample upon her rights and liberties with the giant strength that England possessed? And what was it that the Government had acted in 1819 with regard to Lancashire, with respect to the condition of which county at that time he proposed to read a document which had been issued, bearing the name of Stanley—a document upon which the Six Acts were founded; but still there was an inquiry, for although the facts were notorious, yet, where the rights of Englishmen were concerned, it was not dared to trespass on the Constitution without inquiry; not, so, however, now, when Ireland, her liberties, trial by jury, the name of liberty, and the peasant's home were concerned. That document was to be found in Hansard's Debates, in the 41st volume. It was read before a secret Committee—the secret Committee, which it was found necessary to appoint before ever a motion was made to sacrifice any portion of the liberties of Englishmen. The document he was about to* Hansard, (new series) xi. 1327.912 quote, was written by Lord Stanley, on Sept. 6,1819. Lord Stanley says, after describing the training and drilling: 'One of the most powerful, to which the disaffected have resorted, is a system of intimidation, which prevails to a most serious and alarming extent; not only have threats to persons and property been made use of, and put into execution, but even combinations have been formed to discountenance and to ruin those publicans and shopkeepers who have come forward in support of the civic power. To such an extent does this prevail, that individuals who are well disposed, have been deterred from expressing the sentiments which they really entertain, and from giving information which may lead to the detection of the offenders. The object of the lower classes, in general, is no other than to reverse the orders of society, which have been so long established, and to divide among themselves the landed property of the country. In one populous district no warrant for ordinary offences, or other legal process, can be executed; the payment of taxes has ceased; and the landlords are threatened with the discontinuance of their rents."* This document is signed "Stanley." It presents an appalling picture of the condition of a large portion of the north of England at that peculiar moment when public credit had received a great shock, and the fabric of the State trembled at the concussion. If this had been read as relating to Ireland, it would have been met with cries of "Hear." But in this instance the Habeas Corpus Act was not suspended—Trial by Jury was not abolished, nor Courts-martial raised in the stead of Courts of Justice. What course was proposed by Ministers? Inquiry was first resorted to; evidence was laid before a Select Committee, and the case having been considered in detail, the House proceeded to pass the Six Acts. Did they subvert the tribunals of the country, and raise a new military judicature on their ruins? Did they change the venue? Did they trample on the right of petition? Did they strangle all discussion? No! But they did introduce one clause, which they drew from the Irish Insurrection Act, which gave a right to a magistrate to break open a man's house to search for arms. He begged the House to hear—* Hansard; xli. p. 267.913 not a mere speech—not a flourish of opposition rhetoric—not a declamatory ebullition—but a solemn protest, entered on the Journals of the House of Lords, and thus embodied in the records of the country. The following was the protest:—'Because this law is in its very nature peculiarly liable to abuse; interest, credulity, malevolence, revenge, party violence, and indiscreet zeal, may equally, with a sense of duty, contribute to call it into action; and the powers given for its execution of breaking, either by day or night, into any house or place where information may have been received that arms are kept for illegal purposes, must unavoidably expose the persons and property of his Majesty's subjects to injury and violence that cannot be sufficiently guarded against by the provisions made in the Bill for that purpose. This is not a mere apprehension—experience proves that such effects may be expected from it; for in Ireland, it is well known, nothing more contributed to irritate the people, and to provoke acts of private resentment and revenge, than the abuses which took place, particularly the insults which were offered to women in the exercise of a similar power.'* Such was the protest upon the Journals of the House of Lords at this peculiar and most alarming juncture, and the first name signed to it was now the greatest in the present epoch of the Constitution—no other than Grey. The name so fraught with honour, so encompassed with fame, was sufficient; and wherefore should he waste time in denunciations of this measure, when that single name, attached to this recorded anathema against oppression, spoke with an eloquence as potent as it was brief, and swelled emotions in every man's bosom, and recalled recollections to every man's mind, which the noblest oratory and the most elaborate sanative would fail to produce. He had quoted many documents, but he could not deny himself the gratification of referring to one with which he should conclude. He had already stated that Lord Castlereagh, in 1801, had proposed Martial-law, and a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Lord Castlereagh had started a Reformer, and, as Curran used to say, came into the Irish House of Commons, "cantering on a grievance." He was originally almost a Republican.* Hansard, xli. p. 755.914 And it was said, that Mr. Grey in his reply to Lord Castlereagh, adverted to his early Jacobinism in these remarkable words:—'There were Ministers who, when out of place, were factious, who started questions to mislead the people, who lured them into schemes of Reform to overthrow an Administration, and then not only abandoned the people, but accused their old abettors of treason, for they had taught them so to do. If Jacobinism was licentious out of place, in place it was tyrannical, and filled the country with terror and coercion. It was the parent of Reform when out, and of despotism when in.'* Mr. Grey then demanded inquiry, and repudiated the doctrine, that a measure of severity ought to be adopted, because it was to be confided to hands so lenient as those of Lord Cornwallis. And where was the man who would now tell the House of Commons that despotism was to be established in Ireland, because a kind, generous-hearted man was to be its trustee? Was not this a most fatal doctrine? How long was he to continue the depository of the trust? The Viceroy might be changed, but the statute would remain, and whipping, and laceration, and torture, and all the horrible train of calamities that attend the exercise of military authority might, here after, follow this frightful measure—this system of tribunals in scarlet, and justice in regimentals. He should not accuse this Government, or any man connected with this Government, of any disposition to cruelty and actual oppression; but how could they guarantee the contingencies of the future? Their theory might become another's practice. They were to fabricate the law sword that Lord Anglesey might keep it in the scabbard; but hereafter another hand might draw it forth and steep it to the hilt in blood. It might be thought that these observations ought to have been reserved for the transmission of the Bill from another place. No, for it was of importance that at once, before any further progress in this enterprise of oppression had been made, the House, the Commons of England, the people of England, the Ministers themselves, should see what they were about to do. Behold the mass of ponderous manacles you prepare for Ire land! Examine every chain—weigh every link—and then you will, as we do, tremble* Hansard, (Parl. Hist.) xxxv. p. 1023.915 at their imposition! You will shrink from the degrading office of fastening and rivetting them upon us. The Insurrection Act, Martial-law, suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, abolition of Juries, change of venue, extinction of the right of petition—discussion at an end—the incarceration of the peasantry in their foul and loathsome hovels, the denial to them of the very air of Heaven—the sacrilege to be perpetrated in the sanctity of their houses—their privacy violated—their wives and children dragged at the dead of the night, by a ferocious police, from their wretched shelter—complete, absolute, unqualified despotism established—liberty annihilated in substance, and not even its shadow left behind! Good Heaven! was all this necessary? Bad as the condition of Ireland is alleged to be, was all this unparalleled oppression, unexampled in the history of this nation, and unsurpassed in that of any other, indispensable for what was called the repose of Ireland? Nay, forbear, relent, we are at your feet—we are prostrate before you—your pride must needs be satisfied—give way to your better and nobler feelings, and remember that the assertion of the liberty of others is the noblest office you can perform, after the vindication of your own. He entreated the House to look to the manacles prepared, and consider well, whether the arras of Ireland were fitted to the imposition of so atrocious an encumbrance.
rose to address a few words to the House with reference to an attack which he understood had been made upon him in his absence, and be now was anxious to defend himself from the allegations which had been stated—namely, that he had attended a tithe meeting; he, on the contrary, had never attended a tithe meeting. The hon. member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly) had stated, that he (Mr. O'Connell) had attended a meeting at Leixlip, but the hon member had not stated that it was a parish Meeting; but he alleged that it had been sworn in information before himself, that he (Mr. O'Connell) had directed the people not to pay tithes, and that, of a sum of money which had then been collected, he (Mr. O'Connell) had himself taken 501. If such had been sworn before the hon. Member, he had been guilty of the greatest dereliction of duty in not having sent forward such informations, and also, by such neglect, also, of an act of great injustice 916 towards him (Mr. O'Connell), because, if such had come to his knowledge, or if such were in existence, and the hon. Member would send them to him, he would not only indict the party for wilful and corrupt perjury, but he would also indict for subornation of perjury, every man who had the least participation in the procuring of so gross and abominable a perjury.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that he had stated that a meeting, at which the hon. and learned Gentleman had attended, had been held at the house of a tenant of his (Colonel Conolly's) own—a man of the name of Herbert, and that there a collection had been made under the head of the O'Connell rent for that Gentleman; and that it had been sworn before him (Colonel Conolly), that the amount collected on that day amounted to 50l. and upwards.,
said, that if it was sworn that he had been at Leixlip on that or any such occasion, he did not hesitate to say, that it was a gross perjury. He well remembered having attended an antiunion meeting at Leixlip, but as to the story of money being collected at that meeting, or at any at which he had been present, no greater falsehood had ever been stated, either on a man's word or on his oath.
§ Colonel Conolly
, had understoood that, on the occasion to which he had referred, that a scaffold had been erected for the reception of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but that he himself was not in the country at the time. He had, however, seen the spot on which it stood; and he could add, that the unfortunate individual whom he had named (Herbert) had actually solicited the rector of the parish to impound his cattle for the tithe, because he (Colonel Conolly) had declared that he would not receive the rent until the tithe were paid.
agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had so recently sat down, that it was inconvenient at present to enter into the details, or to canvass a measure not now before the House; but he supposed, from the tenor of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, that having prepared himself for the present occasion, he felt it would be a great tax upon his patience to abstain from the argument until the question properly came before the House. He (Mr. Stanley) should not follow the example of the hon. 917 and learned Gentleman, in discussing a subject that might or might not be brought before this House of Parliament; nor should he have risen at all upon the present occasion, though desirous to meet the arguments advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman, if it had not been that he wished to save the time of the House by entering shortly into an explanation of some of the facts to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded, and with reference to which he had given a notice of a motion for the production of papers. To that motion it was not his (Mr. Stanley's) intention to offer any opposition—namely, the papers with reference to the legal proceedings at Clonmel, but he proposed to make an addition to those returns to which the hon. and learned Gentleman, he thought, would not object. The hon. and learned Gentleman had brought the transactions at Clonmel forward with a view to prove that the law was enforced, and that justice was administered without difficulty; that both ready witnesses and prosecutors were to be found, and that, as was most true, convictions had been obtained in every case. True it was, that convictions had been had, but the hon. and learned Gentleman stood forward now, and taunted the Government with desiring jurors to stand by, when only by the exercise of that prerogative fair and impartial justice could be done. The hon. and learned Gentleman had himself been present upon the occasion to which he had adverted, and he (Mr. Stanley) had not; and he therefore regretted the absence from the present Parliament of his hon. and learned friend, the Solicitor General for Ireland, because he had been taunted with having, in open Court, given directions to the Crown solicitors to set aside all persons on the Jury panel being Catholics. To that statement he, on the part of his hon. and learned friend, now gave the most decided negative, but, on the contrary, the instructions of the hon. and learned Gentleman had been, to set aside no man on account of his religion. No doubt a great majority of those who had been set aside were Catholics, but still there had been on Juries many individuals of that persuasion; but the difficulty had been to procure jurors, who, being free from danger or intimidation, would faithfully discharge their duty in the jury box. But the hon. and learned Gentleman had contended that there existed no difficulty 918 in procuring witnesses to prosecute, that there had been no intimidation, and that no particular agitation, provocation, or excitement prevailed amongst the people. What, however, had been the state of the country in October, 1832, with regard to the peculiar question of tithes? Why, meetings had been held in every part of the country, calling upon the people not only to resist the payment of tithes, but also to combine together for that purpose. And for such a combination three indictments at Clonmel had been preferred, besides another for the murder of a clergyman, but still it was insisted that there existed nothing bearing the semblance of intimidation. He, however, would read to the House a document which he held in his hand, published by the Clonmel Independent Club. It was a resolution passed and published by that society to the effect that they pledged themselves in the face of the country, individually and collectively, that they would not directly or indirectly, either publicly or privately, hold any intercourse with persons who should purchase stock or goods seized for tithes, church-rate, or vestry cess, and exposed to sale to support a pampered church establishment. Yet it was insisted that there had been no intimidation; of that he would leave the House to judge, and he would remind the House of the manner in which the system had been found to work, though it had been urged that jurors had freely and readily given their attendance. First, with regard to intimidation. The first case tried at Clonmel was that of Mr. Pennefather, a Protestant, and, what might still more surprise the House, the son of a Protestant clergyman. This gentleman was indicted for a combination against tithes, and the reverend Mr. Gould, one of the witnesses, residing in the neighbourhood of Borrisokane, and in the country where no intimidation prevailed, was obliged to be brought by a circuitous route, and under a strong escort, such was the danger of his life, to give his testimony, and, at the very period his brother was lying in his bed labouring under the effects of a murderous assault which had been made upon him, because he had become the purchaser of property which had been seized for tithes. Again, it had been said that the system of intimidation had not operated upon jurors in Ireland. In the case he had just mentioned thirty-five individuals had, it was true, been set aside by the 919 Crown; of course twelve had been sworn upon the Jury, but out of 205 names called, no less than 175 did not answer. A conviction, however, in this case took place, and the next indictment was against Griffin Dwyer and other parties, for the same offence, in which case one was acquitted.
The others, however, had been found guilty, but in that instance on the panel being called, thirty-seven persons were set aside, and 172 did not answer to their names. The third indictment was against a person of the name of Mulcahill, in which thirty individuals, summoned as jurors, were set aside by the Crown; yet before that number was set aside, and before the twelve sworn on the Jury could be found, no less than 244 names were called from the panel. He would now take another case which followed those to which he had adverted, premising that according to the system complained of, and which he did not deny—namely, that the first named on the panel (and who were usually the most respectable) did not generally answer to their names when called. And here he must state, that among those who had so been set aside by the Crown in the cases he had mentioned had been three gentlemen who, like the hon. Gentleman opposite, had attended meetings to oppose the payment of tithes, and had in other respects been active in resisting the system, but nevertheless had shown no reluctance to come into the jury-box to try parties charged with the very offence of which they had been guilty, or, in other words, to judge their own case. One person certainly appeared subsequently, but not in the jury-box, but at the bar, and pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with the same offence of which he had been previously called to decide the guilt or innocence of other parties. Under such circumstances, it was the bounden duty of the officers of the Crown to exercise the prerogative with which the law had invested them. The Government, however, had again been taunted with having set aside Roman Catholics. In this respect he would refer to the case of the indictment of certain parties charged with the murder of the reverend Mr. Going, tried on the same occasion to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred. This 920 was not a question of tithes, but a prosecution for a most deliberate and barbarous murder. Before the Jury was formed, 288 names were called over from the panel. Of these fifty-three were set aside by the Crown, and twenty-six by the prisoners, while others were excused from attendances, upon statement then made. The Jury, however, was eventually composed of four Protestants, and eight Roman Catholics.
did not complain that the parties were acquitted: the proof of their identity had failed, and how, he begged to inquire, had the evidence failed? Why, because the son-in-law of the murdered man sent word that his own life was in danger if he appeared to give evidence against the parties charged with the murder of his relative. Could it then be said that intimidation did not exist, or that justice could be administered, when it was found that one man, to give evidence, was carried to the court under the protection of a military escort, lest his life should be taken; while another lay confined to his bed from the effects of wounds inflicted in a murderous assault; and a third declaring the dread he felt that his own life would be sacrificed if he aided in the conviction of parties charged with the murder of his father-in-law, because, as he said, "I know that I am a dead man if I appear in court." Set the whole transactions at Clonmel, and the oppressions, as they had been termed, of his hon. and learned friend the Solicitor General for Ireland, before England, Ireland, and the world, and then let the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite tell the House that in Ireland the law can run a free, fair, and impartial course.
§ Mr. Ronayne
could assure the House that the alarming picture drawn by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland of the state of that country was nothing different from its state during the last sixteen years. The right hon. Secretary had stated nothing that had not happened at every assizes in Ireland for the last sixteen years. He never yet was present at any assizes at which from 50 to 150 names were not called over before a Jury was empanelled. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman had introduced the subject of tithes. In Ireland there was a general 921 feeling against tithes, and if there were not, the Irish would not deserve the name of men. The oppressions of that country were without a parallel in the history of the ancient or modern world. An enormous revenue was collected there from the whole people to support a clergy whose religious faith was that of only one-sixteenth of the whole population. If that were the case in England, if the Catholics of Lancashire, for instance, claimed the religious ascendancy and civil supremacy over all the rest of England, would it be tolerated? He would not ask the Scotch Members whether their countrymen would endure such treatment. The noble struggles of their ancestors for liberty forbad the question. Ministers might desolate Ireland, and put down the people by the strong arm of despotic power, but they would not reconcile them to their system of tyranny and injustice. A facetious countryman of his had compared the people of Ireland to the geese in France, who were tortured in order that their livers might be enlarged from the agony of their sufferings, for the gourmands of that country to devour. So in Ireland were the people tortured to gratify the palates of the Bishops and inferior ministers of the Protestant Church. The coercion proposed for Ireland was solely to keep up the system of tithes, which would ever be received as a badge of national degradation, and a type of conquest.
§ Mr. Callaghan
felt it due to the constituency he had the honour to represent, to offer a few observations with reference to the measures of coercion proposed by the Government with regard to Ireland. He was in Ireland when the King's Speech, and the debate which ensued, had reached that country, and he must say, that every loyal man was astonished to find that his Majesty's Ministers had given such a description of Ireland as the facts did not warrant. It had been stated, that in Cork neither life nor property was secure; that the operation of the law had been defeated; that jurors could not be obtained, and that all justice was suspended. Nothing could be more incorrect than that picture of the district with which he was connected; and he must say, that the Ministers were not in possession of such facts as could warrant them in taking such a proceeding as it was rumoured was proposed. He could not but regret that clergymen should be now making false 922 representations as to their incomes and the situation in which they stood. The clergyman of the parish in which he himself resided had stated that he had not received his tithes, but he (Mr. Callaghan) knew that he could have done so if he had so thought fit, but he preferred to come to the Government and the House to excite the commiseration of English Members, and to induce them to join with his Majesty's Ministers in depriving Irishmen of their rights and liberties. What would such a measure be but one of deprivation of liberties, by withholding the right of trial by jury, a right which, he trusted, they never would be deprived of, notwithstanding the observations of his Majesty's Ministers on the present occasion? The Government was acting under deficient information. When Lord Castlereagh had come to Parliament for the Six Acts, he came armed with documents to defend his proposition, but no such information had been now afforded to the House. The information of his Majesty's Ministers was false and delusive, and particularly as regarded the county with which he was connected. The jurors in that district had ever been ready to discharge their duties, and he had seen them adopt the doctrine of the Judge when it was not law. He had himself been present on a recent occasion when the Jury inquired of the Judge what was the law on the case, and were answered that the law was not written, but was before all ages, and had become the common law of the land. Now he (Mr. Callaghan) should like every man to know the law he was charged with having offended. The object of his Majesty's Government, in the present measure, was to prevent the Repeal of the Union. It was impossible that any country, treated as Ireland had been, could be quiet. So long as Whigs and Tories combined against it, and so long; as it was unable to look to the laws of England for protection, Ireland could not expect justice. She would not endure coercion, and the attempt would estrange every man in it from the Government. The measure proposed by his Majesty's Ministers was not calculated to promote the peace of the country.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had asserted that Juries in Ireland had been prevented from doing their duty, and witnesses from giving evidence; but in the course of his speech, 923 with every disposition to support this assertion by facts, he had not produced a single fact to sustain his allegation. In every case to which the right hon. Gentleman had adverted there had been a conviction for the Crown. But the right hon. Gentleman had been guilty of an anachronism, which ought not to pass without notice. He had spoken of the murder of Mr. Going. Hon. Members might think that this was a recent affair, and connected with the opposition to the clergy. What would be their surprise when they heard that it occurred ten years ago? But there had been convictions, and witnesses did come forward. Had the right hon. Gentleman ventured to assert that any one of the witnesses at the Clonmel assizes had met with the slightest molestation? He did not find any cheer from the other side of the House to strengthen the right hon. Gentleman's statement. If the right hon. Gentleman Could have ventured to state that a single witness had been waylaid, the House would have rung with cheers. Yet the right hon. Gentleman called for new powers to repress intimidation, and protect witnesses. With every disposition to evade the facts of the subject, the right hon. Gentleman bad pleaded the present state of the country as the justification of the measure, which was an abrogation of the Constitution on the pretext of preserving peace. He would call the attention of the House to the Speech of his Majesty at the opening of last Session:—" The scenes of violence and outrage which have occurred in the city of Bristol, and in some other places, have caused me the deepest affliction. The authority of the laws must be vindicated by the punishment of offences which have produced so extensive a loss of life." But what said the Speech further?—"Sincerely attached to our free Constitution, I never can sanction any interference with the legitimate exercise of those rights which secure to my people the privilege of discussing and making known their grievances."* The King's Ministers did not advise his Majesty on that occasion to deliver a Speech like that, the result of which was to entail such distress upon his (Mr. O'Dwyer's) country; and he could tell them why—the people of England would not permit them; they did* Hansard, (third series) ix. p. 4.924 not dare to do it. He declared that he would avail himself to the utmost of all the rights and privileges he possessed as a Member of that House, to delay the passing of a measure which, come when it might, would be the overthrow of the Constitution.
§ Mr. Edward Stewart
observed, that the Government had to-night been attacked with all the usual virulence from the other side, and with more than the usual unfairness. It was the general feeling amongst Englishmen not to strike a roan who could not strike again, yet his Majesty's Ministers were attacked when they were precluded from entering into a premature discussion. He had heard the powers asked for by Ministers condemned as an attack upon the liberties of Ireland. Ha hated oppression as much as any man, but he was prepared to maintain that liberty could exist only where the Jaw was paramount. Could it then be said, that liberty existed in Ireland, when armed parties were assembled at night by the ringing of bells, the lighting of fires, and other means, for the purpose of committing acts of lawless violence? If any one violated any of the laws they prescribed, it was at the risk of forfeiting his property or his life. This might be called anarchy, or disturbance, or insurrection, or rebellion; but, in his opinion, the most appropriate epithet that could be applied to it would be that of tyranny—the tyranny of the daring depredator and of the midnight assassin. He admitted that Ministers were bound to redress the grievances of Ireland, and the first that required redress was the want of law. He believed it was necessary to have recourse to strong and to extraordinary powers. He believed also that those powers should be full and ample; and, if it was requisite to suspend the Constitution for a time, the more decided manner in which it was done the better—provided the suspension was prolonged only so long as the disturbances continued.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
thought, from part of the speech of the hon. Member who spoke last, that he had been an Irish Member whom he had not known; he had, however, represented his Majesty's Ministers in that House as tongue-tied babies. He said, too, that that alone was constitutional liberty where the laws were paramount; and it was because liberty existed only where the laws were paramount that they, the Irish Members, 925 opposed this measure. With respect to the statement of the right hon. Secretary as to the number of persons whose names had been called over at the Clonmel assizes, and who did not appear, it had been the practice to summon on the long panel three times as many Jurors as were likely to attend, and it was well known that for 2s. or 2s. 6d. the summons would not be delivered. The right hon. Gentleman should have slated how many were actually summoned, and whether any of the persons who had been called on the first list were called on the second.
An Hon. Member
declared that the south of Ireland was in a perfect state of peace, and that there had been no difficulty there in obtaining convictions, no intimidation of witnesses or Jurors. For what purpose were the oppressive measures proposed by his Majesty's Government intended? For the preservation of the system of tithes. Of this, however, he was convinced, that as long as the tithe system was continued, and as long as the tithes were levied in the present mode, so long would the Irish people be in a state of dissatisfaction. He had himself been a Catholic, he then became a Protestant, and afterwards a Presbyterian. But while he was a Protestant he never had had an opportunity of entering a church, he had never seen a clergyman, he had never been able to go to prayers. Why should tithe be paid by those who, as in his case, had derived no benefit from it? There never was a country so injured as that he came from. From the moment at which he heard of the measures which his Majesty's Government intended to introduce, he had not had a single night's rest. They pretended to call their measures measures of security and protection. He could call them nothing but measures of degradation and humiliation.
An Hon. Member
professed to entertain the best feelings toward Ireland, and had even heard with great regret the attacks which had been levelled in succession at the Lord Lieutenant, the Judges, the Clergy, and the Police. Those attacks argued badly for the persons by whom they were made, as they showed that they suffered with difficulty any kind of Government. At the same time he was very ready to allow, that if his Majesty's Government had managed the powers already intrusted to them with discretion and vigour, no additional 926 powers would have been necessary. He would also say, that a call for extraordinary powers came with a very bad grace from the present Ministers, since it was well known that, for the last fifty years, no Government in this country had been so strong. An indisputable proof of that strength had been shown in their having had the power to destroy the very House of Commons which placed them on the Treasury Benches, in their having had the power to control the House of Peers—in their having obtained an authority from the highest personage in the land, which they used for unconstitutional purposes [order]. He repeated it, that they had obtained an authority from the highest personage in the land, which they had used for unconstitutional purposes. From such Ministers a call for additional power came with a very bad grace. At the same time, looking at the state of Ireland, contemplating the midnight murders, the mid-day assassinations, the destruction of property of every description ill that unhappy country, he ad-milted that very strong measures were necessary to restore it to tranquillity. Ministers charged the other side of the House with agitation. But did he not see on the Treasury Bench a noble Lord who had himself unfurled the standard of agitation—who had spoken of the conduct of the Parisians in the revolution of July, and of the tricoloured flag with respect? Did he not see behind the Treasury Bench an hon. Baronet who, when he was on the other side of the House, was constantly bringing forward motions of agitation? How could his Majesty's Government complain of agitation, when, by their mismanagement, they had allowed the great agitator to escape after conviction? He would support his Majesty's Government on the measures alluded to, but he begged them not to suppose that they had his confidence.
§ Mr. Hume
wished his Majesty's Ministers joy of their supporter whom they had just heard. He entered his protest against the doctrine of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, that the time chosen for this discussion was inconvenient and improper. This was the very time for such a discussion. When the House of Commons were called upon to vote away the public money, that was the time at which to consider whether those who were to have the management of the 927 grant were entitled to confidence. He must say, that he never witnessed a more humiliating spectacle than the situation of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. No men in England ever stood in so disgraceful a position. Having changed sides in the House, there was only one man on that side who had not changed his opinion, and who still maintained the sentiments which he had always professed. The present was not an Irish question alone—it was one of immense importance to the people of this country. He was convinced that nothing could thoroughly remedy the existing evils in Ireland, but the destruction of that which had ever been the curse of Ireland; and that the entire removal of the Church Establishment in that country was indispensable to the restoration of its tranquillity. What had been said by an hon. Member was perfectly true—namely, that the people of England were now called upon to wage war with the people of Ireland for the sake of the Church Establishment. For that purpose Parliament was required to place 8,000,000 of people under military rule, and out of the protection of the law. He asked the people of England to look to themselves. The proposed measure was calculated to keep up the Estimates. Not a single man of our large military establishments could be reduced with such a measure in prospect. The Government would want all the force they could procure. The opinions which he was now expressing were not the opinions of yesterday. He had stated them when the subject was less a matter of importance to England. He had then declared that the Irish had always been kept in the condition of a conquered people; that civil war had been promoted—that civil rights had been denied; and all for the maintenance of that which was the great blot in the institutions of Ireland—the Church Establishment.
§ Lord John Russell
had not intended to address the House; but in consequence of the extraordinary and very violent attacks which had been made upon his Majesty's Ministers by the hon. member for Middlesex, he begged leave to say a few words. The hon. member for Middlesex talked of the change of opinion which had taken place on the Ministerial side of the House. He for one, on his own part, and he was sure that he might also answer for his hon. friends near him, was not conscious of 928 any change of opinion. No man, when he pretended to consistency, did more than state that the line of conduct which he pursued was consistent with regard to the object he had in view. The hon. member for Middlesex said, the object which he had in view was the total destruction of the Church Establishment of Ireland. That was an object which neither he (Lord John Russell) nor his noble friend near him ever had in view. What right then had the hon. member for Middlesex to call them inconsistent? In the course of the debate an hon. Member had done him the honour to refer to a former speech of his, in which he had characterized the Insurrection Act at that time proposed as a measure of oppression and injustice, leading the House to suppose that his former and his present opinions were directly at variance one with another. Probably such a change might be taken as a specimen of the manner in which accusations were supported. But if that hon. Member had referred to the beginning of the speech, he would find that he (Lord John Russell) had said, that there were circumstances in which he should consider the Insurrection Act in Ireland necessary. As a proof of this, he had then adduced facts that the Insurrection Act had been introduced several times, and he had never opposed it. But on the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded, he had maintained that, according to the evidence before the House, the Insurrection Act was not necessary; and being an enemy to any measure of extraordinary vigour, unless justified by necessity, he on that occasion, opposed it. Was it then to be maintained, that because he opposed the introduction of the Insurrection Act on that occasion, he was precluded from supporting it on an occasion when the circumstances of the case were entirely different? Although, in 1824, he opposed a measure because he considered it unnecessary, he was surely not liable to the charge of inconsistency, if, in 1833, and under very different circumstances, he supported the same measure, considering it to be, as his noble friend had termed it, the least of two evils—a measure which, while it caused a temporary suspension of liberty, was calculated to restore that public peace which was the foundation of all liberty. Whenever he had been the advocate for religious liberty with reference either to this country or to Ireland, he meant a religious 929 liberty equal to all. He never meant that any portion of the people should be deprived, for the sake of any other portion, of the power of acting according to their own discretion; he never meant that the Protestant who, in his conscience, thought it his duty to pay tithes to the Protestant Clergyman, ought to have his life threatened, and his house burned, for his opinion. Without inconsistency, therefore, he might support the measures now proposed with respect to Ireland. He wholly denied, that the argument of the hon. member for Middlesex had the slightest basis; and he hoped that that hon. Gentleman would not again indulge in a strain so unbecoming to him, but would confine himself to these economical speculations so peculiarly suited to the character of his mind. When the hon. Member attempted these new flights, it reminded him of one of the heroes in the "Dunciad," who, having————climbed a stranded lighter's height, Shot to the black abyss, and plunged downright. The serious judgment all the crowd admire; Who, but to sink the deeper, rose the higher.
§ Mr. Finn
observed, that he was astonished at the noble Lord who had opposed the Insurrection Act in 1824, because there was no evidence of its necessity; yet now, without a tittle of evidence whatever, the noble Lord was, it seems, prepared to approve, not only of the Insurrection Act, but of measures of still greater severity. He would, as a Catholic, frankly declare it as his opinion, that tithes had long constituted a serious nuisance in the long catalogue of Irish grievances, and that the conduct of those clergymen and magistrates who were in the receipt of them had (and who could wonder at it?) earned for themselves the execration of the people of that country. The gentry had been, for a series of years, in the constant habit of going about in the Irish towns and villages, insulting the religion to which the greater portion of the people belonged, and abusing the priesthood to which those people were naturally and fondly attached. The only matter for surprise was, that the people of Ireland had so long and so patiently endured the monstrous and intolerable burthen of the tithe system. They had been finally provoked to resistance, and now fault was found with them because they took the right hon. Secretary opposite at his word; and when he spoke of the "extinction of 930 tithes," in their dull Hibernian intellects, they assumed that he meant that tithes were to be put an end to altogether. He would state to the House, for he had the fact from several gentlemen of respectability and local information on the subject, that the impression was, at the time, general in Kilkenny, and various other places in Ireland, that the present Government viewed the anti-tithe meetings which were so universally held, with a favourable eye, as being calculated to afford them a justification for bringing forward their contemplated measure of Church Reform. They were told, that these measures of coercion were intended to put down murders and robberies in Ireland. If that indeed were their object, upon the cordial assistance of no Members could his Majesty's Ministers calculate with more certainty than upon that of the hon. friends who sat around him. But that was not the main object of the measures in question—their main object was, to put down public opinion in Ireland, and to extort tithes at the point of the bayonet. For three centuries they had endeavoured, and endeavoured in vain, to extinguish the Catholic religion in that country—they were now about to enter upon a similar crusade to put down public opinion there; but he would tell them beforehand, that equal success would await their efforts. They would, forsooth, stifle by force the public sentiment as to the repeal of the Union! Their very attempt to do so would only excite a more general feeling in favour of that measure, for it was in human nature to resist coercion, and to spurn at oppression. It was, to say the least of it, mere drivelling policy to resort to force and violence—to the brutal arguments of overpowering despotism, with the view to crush the opinions of a whole people. He would tell them that the police of Ireland were not to be trusted; they lived upon the distresses and disturbances of the country. He felt it his duty to express his execration of the measures of coercion that were now brought forward by the Government. Such measures were calculated to wrench asunder the last link by which Ireland was morally connected with this country. The Irish had no inducement to remain connected with England save to enjoy equally with Englishmen that liberty which they possessed, but which they selfishly cherished for themselves alone, while they would seem to think that the Irish were unworthy 931 to partake of its blessings. The Irish Members had been taunted with the corruption and the profligacy of the Irish Parliament. It was English gold and English policy that had steeped that assembly in corruption. From 1782 till 1792, the brief but glorious interval of the independence of the Irish legislature, no country in Europe made so rapid a progress in arts and arms, in commerce and manufactures, in everything that betokened civilization and attended upon prosperity, as Ireland had done. But England, by a corrupt and crooked policy, once more regained the ascendant, and the result was that Ireland was trampled under foot, and her national independence utterly extinguished. He would tell the representatives of England, that the Irish people would continue connected with them upon equal terms, and upon no other. They would grant to them no exclusive rights of supremacy and dominion. The people of Ireland must have fair play; they must have equal rights with their fellow-subjects in England. They would never endure that the people of England should continue to play the imperious master, while they should be the obedient slave; that England should rejoice in the plenitude of constitutional freedom, while Ireland should be sunk in the depths of miserable servitude. If Parliaments should go on legislating in the manner that it was proposed now to legislate with regard to Ireland, he feared that that wish which at present generally prevailed in that country for a Repeal of the Union would be merged in a sentiment of deep and deadly hatred towards England, which would be looked upon as an overbearing tyrant and oppressive taskmaster, and that at no distant day the melancholy result would be witnessed in the total dissolution of the empire.
Report of the Committee of Supply agreed to.