§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the Day for the first reading of this Bill; and, on its being read, the noble Lord proceeded to address the House to the following effect:—I can assure the House, Sir, that in making the proposition which I am now about to submit to their attention, I deeply feel how difficult it must be for any man to address such an assembly as the present, and to ask such men as I now see assembled, to grant to any Government the powers I now come to seek at their hands. The whole course of my political life has been such as to make it against my opinion to come forward with such a proposition; and nothing could have induced me to do so except the feelings, which are strongly impressed on my mind, of the absolute necessity of the measure. As I feel I shall have to detain the House a considerable length of time, it is, of course, not desirable that I should preface my arguments by many remarks, and I shall, therefore, at once 1211 proceed to the question now before the House, and state the grounds on which the Government feels called upon to ask the assistance of Parliament. I am aware that it is necessary for me, in order to lay any ground for this Motion, to prove, that the state of some parts of Ireland is such as to require some remedy of an extraordinary nature, and not only to prove this, but to show, that such is the state of those parts of Ireland, that almost any remedy is better than their present condition. I must show, in the next place, that the ordinary law is insufficient to afford such a remedy; and thirdly, I must show, that the provisions of the Bill, which I am now about to lay before the House, are such as will provide a remedy for those evils, to repress which the ordinary law is inadequate. If I am able to prove these things, I shall have made out a case—such a case as the Ministers are called on to make out, in order to justify the course they now recommend. In endeavouring to prove these things, I shall state the grounds which have induced me to think, that the case I have mentioned is fully made out. The first ground is the state of the disturbances in Ireland. The insecurity of life and property in which Ireland is at present placed, let it be owing to what causes it may is such, that unless it can be proved that another remedy would afford some alleviation of the evil, it does require the interposition of this House to provide the remedy I now propose. I do not know how I can better enter upon that part of the subject than by stating the number of cases in which the laws have been, not only grossly violated, but set at utter defiance. To enumerate these cases may be tedious; but, in a question of such interest as this is, in which the House will require strong proof in order to induce them to adopt such extraordinary measures, I think it is better I should be tedious, than that I should leave the case short of what I am able to prove. I will take this opportunity of observing, that the Motion which has been just made and withdrawn, is not indispensable. It is a Motion for an account of all the disturbances that have taken place within the last three years. It would be impossible at this moment, and in time for this discussion, to give that general return; but the statement I shall make will include the greater part of those particular instances, and give the sum total in a few 1212 parts of Ireland at least. The fearful extent of the disturbances in Ireland is already well known. I am confirmed in that statement by the members for Ireland—by those who are most opposed to this measure—that the White foot outrages have been of a most enormous description; and the hon. and learned Gentleman himself almost admits, that something like the Insurrection Act might [Mr. O'Connell expressed dissent]—at least, that persons ought to be prevented from leaving their houses at night [Mr. O'Connell again expressed dissent]—I understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been of that opinion; but, as he denies it, of course I must be mistaken, and I shall not press that point further. But the hon. Member did admit, that the state of Ireland was such as was most dangerous to the public peace—that in some parts of Ireland the peasantry were in arms—that the country was threatened by immediate insurrection—and that it behoved them to be extraordinarily careful as to the measures they introduced. That was the statement, as to the condition of the country, made by the hon. and learned Member—by that Member of the House who, I have no doubt, will offer the most efficient and powerful opposition to the Motion. The hon. and learned Gentleman supposes, that the contents of this box have been collected without the concurrence of the parties who are accused of the disturbances. The documents here contained are official documents—such as would have been laid on the Table of the House if the Motion of the hon. member for Cashel had been carried—such documents as would, if we had proceeded in the old form, have been laid before a Committee, and such as those on which a report would have been made by the Committee to this House. The first case which I shall state to the House is the case of the murder of a man named Farrel. A large body of men, some armed with guns and some with pistols, assembled in the month of February last, at Castle Comer, in the county of Kilkenny. They entered the house of Farrel, who was tenant of a person named Cavanah, and, in the words of a survivor, "without giving him one second to say his prayers, shot him, like a dog, through the head." The next case is that of the murder of a man named Potts. That took place in March last. Potts was the engineer of a col 1213 liery in the county of Kilkenny; and that murder was committed at noon-day, in the presence of fifty persons, and within one quarter of a mile of the head-quarters of a regiment. Potts was shot at by four men, who, after doing this, walked quietly away. They did this in the presence of fifty persons, and yet no attempt was made either to arrest them or prevent the outrage being committed. The third case is that of the murder of a man named Marum. This occurred on the 27th of July, at the hour of between nine and ten o'clock in the forenoon. Marum left his lodge, which was close to a colliery, in the barony of Gouran, and within a mile of a place where an outrage had been committed some time previously. He went into a carpenter's shop, and had scarcely got in when three men came in, armed with guns, and shot at and wounded him, and then beat him down and despatched him with the but-end of their guns. This murder was perpetrated in the presence of a man and boy. The next case I will mention occurred in Cashel, upon the 26th of August. That was the case of the murder of William Shea, which was committed at five o'clock in the afternoon. He was murdered while sitting at the table of a room in a public-house, in company with two or three other men. The murder was committed by two fellows, who entered the room armed with guns, and having their faces blackened: they ordered Shea to go on his knees, and instantly shot him dead. The next case was one which had occurred at Portarlington, on the 23rd September last. It was not a case of actual murder, but of an outrageous attack that might have led to murder. There was assembled an armed party of men, one of whom shot at another person and lodged some slugs in his breast, and the ruffians afterwards beat him most violently. The next was the case of the murder of Mr. Houston, who was a most respectable clergyman, eighty years of age, and who was murdered within one mile of his own residence. This murder took place on the border of Queen's County and Kilkenny, upon the 25th of October last. It is stated in the account I have received, that he was a most inoffensive and quiet man, and was generally respected. I believe, indeed, that he had been guilty of the crime of collecting his tithes. In this case, I know it has been stated, that the cause of the murder was in consequence of 1214 a quarrel with a drunken servant upon his grounds, but the person, who was taken up immediately afterwards upon suspicion of having committed the murder, was not at all drunk; so that, if such an outrage could in the least degree be excused by such a circumstance—and in my opinion it cannot—that excuse did not exist in this case. Another case is that of a gross attack upon Abraham Maddox, committed on the 23rd of November last. An attack was made on the House in which he lived, and it was set fire to. Two constables had been placed there for its protection, one of them was immediately murdered, and Maddox's wife and daughter were so severely wounded that they lived only two hours afterwards; Maddox's son was also dangerously wounded. John Webb was the person at whose instigation this brutal murder was committed, and it appeared that he had been many months before dispossessed of some land by Maddox. That was one of the instances in which, after a long interval, the purpose of revenge had been shockingly accomplished. On the 5th of December last, an attack of a similar kind was made by a party consisting of about fifty men, upon the House of a person who had offended the assailants in a manner similar to that of Maddox. One shot had killed one man, and wounded another in the House, which was then set fire to and burnt, and several people were buried in the ruins. The reason for the attack was, that the former tenant had been ejected for non-payment of rent. In another case several tenants had been removed from their premises for a similar cause, and other tenants had been put into possession. A man named Joyce was one of these new tenants. His house was surrounded by armed men—the door was removed; it was set fire to; Joyce was dragged out to some little distance, and there shot dead. The same party afterwards went to the house of a man named Baldwin, and set fire to it; they then went to the house of a man named Maplesden; one of the party fired at and wounded him, and he was now lying in great danger of his life. I now come to the case of the county of Kildare. On the 10th of last January, a most cruel murder was committed at Youghal, upon a tenant of the Duke of Devonshire, a person of the name of Christopher Howard, who was shot dead in the presence of his brother and sister, by the party that attacked him. 1215 He was a young man of good character; but the murder was committed in consequence of previous provocation. It was supposed, at least, that the man murdered had been one of a party to beat a tenant who occupied some land which Howard had formerly held. The provocation, no doubt, if it had been given, was gross and aggravating; but it was not to be revenged by a murder, an outrage of so much deeper a die. It showed, however, the state of Ireland in which such a provocation was held to be sufficient to induce a murder. The next case is that of a man who was charged on oath with sending the White-feet to shoot his brother. That case arose, I believe, out of some quarrel relative to the possession of three acres of land. That person has been committed to take his trial on this charge, and I shall, therefore, not mention his name.—[Mr. O'Connell asked for the date of the transaction.]—The date is the 25th of January. I have spoken of these. Sir, as cases of great outrage. I have selected them as such, and I lay them before the House, confident as to the impression they must create. I have detained the House some time in stating these cases, but considerable as is their number, they are not nearly so numerous as the cases I could have produced, had I gone through the whole list of those of which information has been furnished us. The next point is that which has been referred to so much by the hon. Member opposite, who says, that these outrages are not worse, nor more numerous, than they have been within the last two or three years. I shall be able to prove. Sir, in answer to that observation, that they have been increasing during these past years. The first statement I shall make on this part of the subject will not be by way of comparison, but to show the number of offences of an insurrectionary kind committed in Leinster, during the last year. That statement shows, that, during that period, the number of murders, or of attempts to murder, within the single province of Leinster, has been 163; of robberies, 387; of burglaries, 1,823; of burnings, 194; of houghing cattle, 70; of serious assaults, 744; of illegal notices, 913; and of wilful and malicious injuries to property, 407. If we compare that statement with the account of preceding years, the matter will stand thus:—In the three last months of 1829, the number of murders was 10; in the 1216 corresponding months of 1830, it was 15; in those of 1831, it was 47; and in those of 1832, it was 44. It was in a slight degree less in 1832 than in 1831; but in 1832, there had been an increase of above fourtimes the amount of 1829. I shall take the three last months of these several years for the statement of other offences, and I find the account to stand thus:—In 1829, the number of robberies amounted to 69; in 1830, to 154; in 1831, to 152; and in 1832, to 173. Again, in 1829, the number of burglaries was 39; in 1830, it was 94; in 1831, it was 251; and in 1832, it was 532. In 1829, the number of burnings was 31; in 1830, it was 34; in 1831, it was 29; and in 1832, it had reached 77. In the year 1829, the number of cases of houghing cattle was 13; in 1830, it was 20; in 1831, it was 17; and in 1832, it was 31. In 1829, the number of cases of serious assault was 45; in 1830, it was 54; in 1831, it was 89; and in 1832, it was 235. In 1829, the number of illegal notices was 49; in 1830, it was 79; in 1831, it was 172; and in 1832, it was 197. In 1829, the number of cases of malicious injury to property was 44; in 1830, it was 59; in 1831, it was 67; and in 1832, it was 134. Taking the whole of these offences, which partook of an insurrectionary character, together, the total amount was—in 1825, 300; in 1830, it was 499; in 1831, it was 814; and in 1832, it had reached so high as 1,513; and all these were in the province of Leinster. I will now make a comparison of several counties of the province of Leinster with the whole province of Connaught—a comparison that I think will show, that it is not the peculiar distresses of the times that have occasioned the increase of crimes to which I have alluded. I will take the Queen's County first. In that county there have been forty cases of firing at the person with intent to kill. The number of similar attempts in the province of Con-naught has been twenty-one; eshowing a majority of nineteen such attempts in the single county I have mentioned over that of the whole province of Connaught. In the same manner the number of burglaries has been 626 in the Queen's County; in Connaught it has been 345. In the amount of burnings there has been an excess in the province of Connaught over that of the Queen's County; the number of burnings in the former being ninety-four, in the latter forty-two. In the cases 1833, 1217 of houghing cattle, the Queen's County exceeds Connaught in the proportion of 115 to 52; and there has been a similar excess with regard to cases of serious assaults. By serious assaults, I mean those which tend to the serious injury of the persons attacked. Those who suffer from such assaults would not, I think, be very nice in making distinctions as to the degree of violence with which they were attacked. The proportion of the crimes of this nature committed in the county of Kilkenny, as compared with the province of Connaught, was somewhat like that of the Queen's County. The excess of murder in Kilkenny was one—of burglaries it was 174; the excess of burnings appeared to be in the whole province of Connaught as compared with the county of Kilkenny by the number of sixty; but in houghing cattle, there were three more cases in Kilkenny than in Connaught, and a greater number of serious assaults by fifty-two. In the county of Westmeath, another of the counties of the province of Leinster, the numbers were in similar proportions. I feel that I have detained the House too long by this sort of detail, which in the hands of anybody must be tedious. I might go further, for I have other cases which it would be easy for me to adduce. I have stated those instances which were of the most outrageous character—generally where there was actual or attempted murder; and I will now, with the permission of the House, read some letters or extracts which seem further to illustrate the condition of the country. The first letter which I shall read is from the county of Kilkenny, and is dated the 21st of January, 1833, and relates to the transactions at Gouran:—' We have to report, that outrages, last week, were on the increase chiefly on the borders of Carlow. So well are the proceedings of the Whitefeet arranged, that, at the very moment at which the police are ordered out, beacons are lighted as signals upon all the hills. It is dangerous to leave a small post of police, lest it should be overpowered; and, therefore, the duty is very heavy and harassing; and they are obliged to sleep by day, and to be out on duty all night.' The next letter which I shall read from is dated the 15th of January last:—' Being out, last night, with a patrol of police under my orders, I perceived, on a sudden, about two o'clock, fires lighted on all the hills. 1218 Finding that the peasantry were leaving their houses, I felt it necessary to return to Gouran for a military force. I regret to state, that our party arrived at Gore bridge about a quarter of an hour after sixty armed men had paraded through it, and terrified all the peaceable inhabit ants.' The next letter is from the county of Louth, and isdated the 7th of January:—Numerous bodies of the peasantry were employed in patrolling the roads upon Saturday and Sunday night last, and in beating all persons whom they suspected of not being friendly to their objects. Two gentlemen, who were objectionable to them, took refuge in my gate-house; but in consequence of the violent language which their pursuers used, the keeper was obliged to open his gate, and then his two refugees were taken out and beaten. This happened at six o'clock in the evening. As relates to this part of the county of Louth, I have one fact to mention which may elucidate it. A farmer has been in the habit, for many years past, of lending me a winnowing machine; he has informed me, that he cannot lend it me again, as he has received intimation that his house will be burnt down if he does.' The next communication which I have to read, is dated the 13th of January—it is from the same county:—' Armed bodies of peasantry are perambulating the country, and taking arms from the farmers. On Friday night they broke into three houses. The majority of this parish is Roman Catholic. The lower orders are much terrified, as they see no means taken for the safety of the country.' I have also another letter, dated the 2nd of December, 1832, stating that parties of peasantry are patrolling the country, and attacking the poor. I do not know, that it is necessary for me to go further into this detail of outrages. I will, however, state to the House, that the situation of Ireland is such, that applications for an increased force, for the preservation of the peace, have been made to the Irish Government by no less than thirteen different counties. The Irish Government have also received a communication from a respectable Catholic priest, complaining that he has lost his influence over his flock, and is unable to prevent them from engaging in the commission of these outrages. The House has already been informed by my right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, that the number 1219 of rewards offered for the discovery of atrocious crimes was 108, and that, of this number, no more than two hare been claimed, or paid. It is quite clear that this result must be owing to the disinclination of persons to give information; for we cannot suppose—indeed I am quite sure that it is not the case—that the people of Ireland do not reprobate and wish to repress crime as much as others; and I only state the facts to show the extreme fears of those attacked and injured, that even where they have Sufficient knowledge of the identity of the parties, they dare not come forward with information. I think I have stated enough to prove that the condition of affairs in Ireland at the present moment is one which requires an immediate remedy, and that his Majesty's Ministers would have failed in their duty if they had not endeavoured to put a stop to these outrages; but it was our great object not to require anything exceeding the ordinary powers of the law as long as any measure of greater power and severity could be avoided. When first we came into office, we found the county of Clare in a state of much disorder, A Special Commission was issued to try offenders, and the result was completely successful [cheers from Mr. O'Connell and his friends]. We afterwards pursued the same course in Queen's County; and let me ask those who cheer me, whether the result there was equally successful? The outrages in Queen's County have been continued, and I shall have an opportunity of stating what have been the consequences of that Special Commission. Some of the witnesses who came forward on the part of the prosecution have been obliged to quit the country. True it is, that disturbance was quelled for a short time, but it soon broke out again; and at this moment it exists to as frightful an extent as before the Commission went there. The expedient which succeeded in Clare failed in Queen's County. The second point I am to establish, before I can expect Parliament to confide to Ministers those extraordinary powers, is, that the ordinary law of the country is insufficient. I have stated, already, one respect in which the ordinary law is not sufficient, and I will now advert to others;—such I mean, as the intimidation of Jurors as well as of witnesses, which renders it impossible that the ordinary law should be executed, and it has therefore no chance of being 1220 effectual in subduing outrage, I am quite aware—and the House will perhaps not be surprised to hear—that I cannot have many cases to bring before the House of intimidation of Jurors; but I have some, the particulars of which I beg to read [His Lordship, among his papers, here looked for a particular document, but not being able to find it, proceeded]. I believe I can state most of them from my memory, and if I succeed in establishing that a system of intimidation exists, or that it has been carried to a great extent towards those who have served, or were called upon to serve, upon Juries, it will be easy to imagine that it is no easy task to obtain Jurors. The case to which I particularly refer is that of the Jury at Carrickshaugh; and here I would observe, that I have nothing to do with the question whether the parties accused were guilty or innocent—whether the offence was supposed by some to have been established or disproved, is a matter, for my purpose, of no consequence. I only adduce the case, to show that some of the Jury who were thought to have been in favour of finding the prisoners guilty, received threatening letters, and some have been actually compelled to quit that part of the country, and to reside in Dublin. The house of one of them was assailed, and shots were fired into it, while a gentleman who was believed to have been favourable to the prisoners had his corn cut for him by the people. When his sister was engaged in a civil suit, threatening letters were sent to prevent witnesses appearing on the opposite side. Therefore, if such have been the case with one Jury (and that it has been so is notorious), it will not be very difficult to infer that it is the case with others through the country, although it may not be possible to prove any outrage actually committed upon a Juror [cheers from Mr. O'Connell]. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to think that in this instance I am to act the part rather of an advocate than of a Legislator, and that I ought to make no admissions, called for in fairness and in fact, because they may happen to be in his favour. I can only say, that my object is to state the case as it is, and I beg to assure him, that whenever I come to any part of the case which makes for his side of the question, I shall have no hesitation in stating that also; so that, without injury to his cause, he might have spared some part of his triumph on this occasion. 1221 Although no Juror may have received personal injury, the fact, as I have stated it, is not to be denied—that Jurors are in terror of appearing upon the trial of offenders. On a previous night, my right hon. friend mentioned the number of Jurors summoned on a trial who did not think it prudent to answer to their names. To this it was replied, that the Jurors absent might reside at a great distance; but the statement from Kilkenny upon the point is simply this—that we are not to expect, at the ensuing Assizes, that Jurors will be found to serve on the pending trials. This statement is made upon as good authority as it is possible to obtain. Further, as to the intimidation of witnesses, I mentioned that several had been compelled to quit Queen's County, in consequence of the evidence given before the Special Commission. First, there was Mrs. Brady, who has been driven from her house because her son prosecuted John Delaney, for the murder of her husband. James Daly, also, another prosecutor, was obliged to accept a situation in the police in a distant county, to secure himself from personal violence, and, perhaps, loss of life. Another witness, also, has been placed on the police, for the same reason. John Ramsey has sought refuge in the county of Antrim, and the family of Mr. Large has been obliged to be protected by two Constables, owing to the concern he had in the Special Commission, and a party of armed men was actually in search of Mrs. Large. Mr. Jacob, a gentleman, sixty-one years old, has been compelled to leave his house, in consequence of having proved the outrage at Maryborough, and the police with difficulty saved him from personal violence. A family of the name of Major has been driven to seek their bread in Dublin, in order to escape from threatened violence. Lieutenant Sherlock, although he had the protection of two Constables, has quitted his abode for the sake of personal security; he having prosecuted some persons to conviction under the Special Commission. Mrs. Dowling and family have abandoned their dwelling to save themselves from being murdered; and a Mr. Manley actually turned his nephew out of doors in order to show, that he had no concern in giving information against a man for robbing his house of a gun. I have stated these cases applicable to Queen's County, in order to show the effect of terror upon witnesses; and I 1222 think, when the House sees—first, that the Special Commission in Queen's County has failed—secondly, that some Jurors in the Kilkenny prosecutions were threatened, and others rewarded—and thirdly, that those who gave evidence have been driven from their homes, or obliged to put themselves under the protection of the police, the House will be aware, that, at least as far as regards the province of Leinster, the ordinary law is not sufficient. The next point I have to prove is, that the Bill now on the Table is the measure which ought to be adopted, in order to supply the deficiency of the ordinary law. For this purpose, it will be necessary for me to enter into some explanation of the main principles of the Bill, to show how they apply to the grievances of which we complain, and that they are necessary for the protection of the peaceable inhabitants of Ireland. The strongest, and I admit without reserve, the most objectionable part of the Bill is that which, in certain cases, abolishes the Trial by Jury. The great object of this part of the measure is to do away with the effect of the terror now found to operate so strongly upon the minds of Jurymen; and here I may mention that various suggestions have been made by persons, who allow that, in the present state of aflfairs in Ireland, it is necessary to employ coercive measures; these suggestions have been offered with the view of dispensing with the military tribunals proposed to be established by the Bill; and I admit that, compared with the Trial by Jury, this mode of administering justice must be deprecated by all men. But this I must say, that every proposal as a substitute for these military tribunals seems to me infinitely more objectionable. It has been mentioned, among other things, that a Judge of Assize might be sent down to try offenders without the aid of a Jury; but, in my opinion, this mode of habituating the minds of the people to a new species of trial (for new it would be, and without a single precedent in its favour) by a Judge without the intervention of a Jury, would be more dangerous in itself, and more unconstitutional and detrimental, than the plan we propose. 'Another suggestion has been, that Barristers, appointed by the Crown, should try criminals without the intervention of a Jury. This scheme, in my mind, would be far more objectionable than the employment of a Judge of Assize; because the 1223 selection would be made by Government, and it must be from Barristers who were in expectation of reward and promotion, in consequence of pleasing the Government; whereas a Judge who had risen to the head of his profession might be supposed, perhaps, above temptation. Such a precedent would be perilous to the Constitution, and faultyin principle, and therefore I object to it. The fact undoubtedly is, that if in measures of this kind we attempt to take a middle course, and to mitigate the excess of power beyond the ordinary law to such a degree as to make men regard it with less dislike than as Englishmen we ought to feel, we do more mischief than is occasioned by Bills of greater force and effect, inasmuch as we may induce those in power to bring forward their milder plans when the occasion is not so urgent as to demand them. Everybody will allow, and no one more readily than myself, that nothing but the most pressing necessity can warrant the course we recommend. Therefore I do not consider the dislike it will probably meet with among the people in some respects a disadvantage; and for this, among other reasons, I prefer the enactment contained in the Bill upon the Table. It has been called by some the introduction of Martial-law into Ireland, but it is, in truth, no such thing; it is not the establishment of Martial-law, but an alteration of the existing institutions, by requiring military tribunals to administer the Common-law. The next point for which it is necessary to provide is, the protection of witnesses; and it has been asked, what protection do you afford to witnesses in the Bill? Everybody acquainted with Ireland knows, that the principal danger to which witnesses would be exposed, would occur during the night; and in adopting to a certain extent the provisions of the Insurrection Act, we obtain the power to prevent the outrage on the persons of witnesses that would happen after dark. A main objection made to this concession is, that it gives the right of searching houses, and here I am quite ready to admit, that the authority should be guarded and limited in every way hon. Gentlemen can suggest for the defence of the subject. But they must not compare the state of Ireland with the state of this country—the existence of a legal authority with the existence of the Whitefeet—a state of peace and order with a state of tumultuous assemblies and murderous 1224 attacks. The other part of the Bill which relates particularly to the White feet outrages, goes to the prevention of signals, for the sake either of collecting a lawless force, or of giving notice of the movements of the police. The principle has been adopted from a law of this country, for the better prevention of smuggling, compelling a party in certain cases to prove the negative, that he did not make the signal for a malicious or seditious purpose; but it is not perhaps necessary for me to go into these details. I have, very indistinctly I am afraid, stated the grounds on which this measure rests, as regards Whitefeet outrages. I admitted, that it was necessary for me to prove that the state of Ireland was such as to require this extraordinary remedy, inasmuch as the ordinary law was not sufficient for the purpose, and that the provisions of the Bill are such as will enable us to remedy the existing evils. Having now gone through that duty, I hope and trust the House will agree with me that I have made out a case, at least as far as the White feet are concerned. There is another part of the measure, and the only part of it, which extends to the whole of Ireland; for the House will not fail to observe that the portion of the Bill to which I have chiefly referred is only to apply to disturbed districts, or to districts which may hereafter be disturbed. I admit—nay, I avow—that so far it is a most despotic and arbitrary measure; and there is another part of it which is a renewal of the Proclamation Act. It has been said, that there is no connexion between the political agitation of Ireland, and these disturbances. Indeed, some Gentlemen have gone so far as to assert, that the political agitation in Irerland is a means of preventing the committal of outrages. I confess it appears to me extraordinary, for persons who have made most violent and inflammatory addresses, exaggerating to the utmost all the grievances of Ireland, because they end with the cobweb pretence of wishing for tranquillity, and recommending the people not to be guilty of a breach of the law—to contend that their speeches, in fact, allay the disturbances they seem intended to generate. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), among others, maintained that political agitation would put down disturbance; and he seemed almost to insinuate that it 1225 was in his power to put it down. I do not—I cannot believe it; I should be extremely sorry to believe it of any man, and least of all of him, that having the power to put down such outrages, he does not exert it. That he has as much power as any man ever possessed by his eloquence to excite the passions and rouse the feelings of the people, no man will deny; that he can raise the flame of discontent into open disturbance, is beyond dispute; but I will not do him the injustice—for gross injustice it would be—to suppose, that if he had the means of allaying the storm, he would fail to employ them. Without looking at any particular or individual cases, any man who reasons upon the subject must feel, that the violence of language at political meetings must produce excitement, and that excitement must tend to the continuance of outrage. In one case, a friend of the hon. and learned Gentleman—aself-styled pacificator—went a short distance from Dublin, and made a speech in the usual strain, complaining of grievances, exciting the populace, and ending, according to custom, with the usual hope that no breach of the law would be the consequence. During the ensuing weeks, five outrages were committed. It might be the result of accident, but the fact at least shows, that the conclusion of the orator's harangue had not the effect he pretended to desire. I do not say, that all the outrages have been the result of political excitement—by no means—but looking at the connexion which does exist between political agitation and outrage, there can be no doubt that the latter is promoted and increased by the former. Let us look also at the institution of what are called "Volunteers" in Ireland, who are to vest the civil government of that country in the hands of an irresponsible body taking it from those recognised servants of the Crown and people who are responsible. Every man, on payment of a shilling, may be enrolled in this corps of Volunteers; and let me ask, is it possible that the Executive of Ireland should consent that the preservation of the peace of that part of the empire should depend upon them? I have here, also, the speech of another pacificator—Mr. Steele—[Mr. O'Connell said, across the Table, that Mr. Steele was under prosecution.] Very well; it is of no consequence, and I will pot use it; but the Volunteers are liable 1226 to other objections. It must surely strike every man, that it is highly improper that the whole civil authority of the country should be placed in the hands of such a body, which may be converted into a most dangerous political engine, even to influence the votes of Members of this House. Already has its power been exerted, and certain Members have been denounced to their constituents; and I must say, that there never was an institution which more deserved attention, and more required remedy. I have thus gone over the grounds on which I hold it necessary to add this power to others, with the object of putting down Whitefeet agitation and disturbance; and, as to the arguments that may be used against the Bill, I am aware that they will be used with advantage by hon. Gentlemen who intend to resist its progress. It is impossible for any man to employ an argument more likely to gain favour with the multitude than that which is derived from a comparison of the state of liberty of this country with the supposed state of bondage in Ireland. We shall, doubtless, have divers declamations in praise of liberty, which no man wishes to gainsay; but the question is—is it from a state of liberty that Ireland is to be rescued? Is she not to be rescued from a state of great and severe tyranny? Is she not to be rescued from a state of anarchy, where life has no safety, and property no security? Liberty is something more than a name, and the benefits of liberty are the protection of life and property—the protection of every man in doing that which pleases himself, and is not detrimental to society. This is liberty and its benefits; and it is not liberty for a people to do justice neither to themselves nor to their neighbours, but to be subjected to the authority of self-constituted regulators. Another objection that has been urged against the measure which, as the organ of the King's Government in this House, it has become my duty to introduce, is, that the sole object of this measure is to enforce the collection of tithes. I can, with perfect sincerity, assure the House, that that is not the object of this Bill; and if the Lord Lieutenant, in the exercise of the discretion which this Bill confides to him, should apply it exclusively for the purpose of enforcing the collection of tithes, then I must say, that it would be a most unwise and improper exercise of that discretion, 1227 If the Lord Lieutenant should proclaim a district merely because the tithes could not be collected there, then I have no difficulty in saying, that such an exercise of discretion would be directly contrary to the spirit and intention of the framers of this Bill, and to the wishes of his Majesty's Government. I think I have now touched upon all the topics connected with this subject to which it is at all necessary for me to call the attention of the House; but I, at the same time, greatly apprehend that, as it is so very unusual with me to address the House at such length, I may not have done anything like justice to a subject of such moment, and embracing so many and such various details. I felt, however, bound thus to occupy the time of the House, for, though common fame and the intelligence supplied by newspapers have made known some of the facts to which it has been my duty to advert, yet I will venture to say, that there is scarcely any person in this country who can have made the least approximation to a just idea of the real state of Ireland, or of the amount of outrage committed against person and property in several parts of that country for some time past. I have to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
said, that though be was satisfied nothing but a conscientious feeling of duty had induced the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to bring forward the Bill now under consideration, yet he (Mr. Tennyson) must confess, that the noble Lord had entirely failed in persuading him, that the ordinary exercise of the laws of the land would not be sufficient to put an end to the disturbances in Ireland. He had stated on a former occasion his readiness to grant additional powers, if necessary, to Government, to maintain peace in Ireland, and he was now ready to redeem that pledge; but he was not satisfied that the measure proposed was necessary to effect the object contemplated. He (Mr. Tennyson) had always understood that the Special Commissions sent by Government into the disturbed counties had been successful in producing tranquillity. He had never heard, that they had failed until he heard it now stated by the noble Lord. If the Special Commissions had failed, however, why had it not been so stated by the Government before the close of the last Session? The threats which were 1228 stated to have deterred witnesses from appearing to prosecute, and which, according to the views of his Majesty's Government, rendered it necessary to introduce the present Bill, were used so long ago as the month of May last; and it was notorious, that Parliament was then sitting, and continued to sit for some months after. Why not resort at that time to Parliament for additional powers? If any of the Special Commissions had succeeded—and it was admitted that some of those Commissions had completely succeeded—why were they not followed up by others; or why was not a permanent instead of a temporary Commission issued? If it was intended to intimidate the disturbers of the public peace, it would be better done, in his opinion, by exercising the ordinary powers of the law, than by a fearful and extravagant experiment like that proposed. He had a right, also, to ask why the Government had not acted on the report of the Committee on the state of the Queen's County, made at the close of the last Session? That report, which was dated so recently as the 1st of August, was the result of the labours of a most intelligent Committee; it contained observations not merely applicable to the Queen's County, but to the whole of Ireland; and it recommended several measures by which the administration of the law might be strengthened without any invasion of the Constitution. He trusted that his anticipations might not be reahsed; but he feared if this Bill were carried, that it would produce an aggravation of all the evils it was proposed to remedy. He looked for nothing but a state of increased insubordination extending itself to parts of the country now comparatively tranquil; and he feared that the Government and the House would find, when, perhaps, it was too late, that the measure might demoralise, but could not tranquilise. The necessity for such a measure had not been shown. The difficulty of inducing persons to come forward as witnesses was mainly relied on, but the introduction of Martial-law did not meet that difficulty. Martial-law was not necessary to remedy the evil arising from the intimidation of prosecutors, witnesses, and Jurors. The noble Lord had in his pocket the Bill which was intended to meet this difficulty—the Bill for changing the venue. If witnesses were liable to popular resentment if they appeared before 1229 a civil tribunal, would they not be as liable after they appeared before a Court-martial? But what was the tender mercy which witnesses were to get from those Courts-martial? If a witness was produced, and stated that he had no evidence to give against the prisoner—if be swore that he was not present during the commission of the outrage, or could not identify the prisoner, the witness, at the discretion of the Court-martial, might be subjected to the peine forte et dure, and be imprisoned for three months. He could assure the House that he rose in no spirit of hostility to his Majesty's Government. Gentlemen might put their own construction on his words, but he repeated, that he had no hostile purpose towards the Government in the proposition which he was about to make. The Government were proceeding in a course to justify the confidence which he and other independent Members of that House had expressed themselves willing to repose in them. They were introducing, day after day, remedial measures for Ireland; and it was his opinion that those measures would have a transcendent effect in tranquillising the political agitation of Ireland, and also in suppressing those predial outrages which, according to the noble Lord, were connected in some degree with the political agitation which prevailed in that country. If the Government depended on those remedial measures, he was decidedly of opinion that Ireland would be tranquillised before long. At all events it was the duty of that House to pause before the measure now threatened obtained its sanction. Mr. Barrington, in his evidence, which had been so often quoted, stated that many persons in Ireland would prefer Martial-law to the Insurrection Act, because they thought that if Martial-law was introduced, they should come to open war. The introduction of Martial-law, then, would be looked upon in Ireland as nothing short of a declaration of war. Government had introduced measures for the Reform of the Church, of the Grand Jury system, and of that great nuisance the Corporations of Ireland. Doubtless it was the intention of Government, at the earliest opportunity, to follow those great measures of relief by others, for the support of the poor and the employment of the working classes. All he asked from the Government was, to pass those measures, and give a little time for them to act upon the good and generous 1230 feelings of the people of Ireland. If the Government did this, be believed they would tranquilise Ireland, without taking on themselves the responsibility of such a dreadful measure as that now proposed. Let him not be misunderstood. He did not deny, that the statement made by the noble Lord called for the serious attention of that House. The noble Lord certainly had gone through a fearful catalogue of crimes. He was willing to strengthen the hands of the Executive, but he could not agree to a suspension of the Constitution. He had voted for the Bill introduced by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) the member for Tamworth, for putting down the Catholic Association; and if the Government could prove, by anything more than mere assertion, that the new association established in Ireland, under the name of Volunteers, was a mischievous and dangerous association, he would vote for a measure similar in principle to the Proclamation Act—he meant the 10th Geo. 4th, c. 1. for the purpose of putting it down. He was willing also to give power to Magistrates, attended by a sufficient military force, to enter and examine the houses of suspected persons at night; and he would not object to having a slight punishment imposed, in the first instance, on those who were absent from home, and not able to account for their absence. Anything fairly required to render the law effective, he was disposed to grant; but he was not prepared for the consequences of such a measure as that now proposed either in Ireland or in this country. What security was there that such a measure might not be introduced by the present or some future Government in this country, upon any occasion of temporary excitement and disturbance? In his opinion no case had been made out for a measure more violent and despotic than any hitherto introduced in that House. The severest enactments of the Whiteboy Act—the Insurrection Act—the Proclamation Act—the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, and Martial-law, some of which had only been tried in cases of open rebellion in Ireland, were all clubbed up, and embodied in this short Bill. For his part he did not think that the House was called upon to pass such a measure upon the statement now made, and he should, therefore, move, by way of amendment, that the Bill should be read a first time this day fortnight.
§ Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer
, I shall accept the hint of the noble Lord, and take the least dispassionate, if not the most Constitutional, view of the argument. I shall leave it to others to oppose these laws, because they are tyrannical and oppressive. I will oppose them on the ground to which the noble Lord invited me, because they will be inefficacious—because they will not obtain the objects for which they are demanded. Hon. Members must not suppose, because I or other English Members oppose these laws, that they deny the crimes that exist in Ireland—or that they are unwilling to cooperate with Government in devising some remedy for those offences. What we complain of is—first, that these powers will not contain the remedy; and, secondly, that even if they did, the remedy will be worse than the disease. I contend that the remedy is worse than the disease—a violation of law is a terrible evil—a suspension of law is a still greater one. It is useless to read a catalogue of crime—that is not the question—prove to us how these laws will be applied to the crime—it is useless to tell us, that in the present system there is evil and danger; prove to us that there will be less evil and less danger in the law you demand. I say these laws will not obtain their object—in the first place, what are the crimes for which the noble Lord demands them? Not for ordinary offences—no, for the crime of murder. It was instances of murder that the noble Lord had adduced. Will it be believed, that murder is the very crime these laws do not embrace? Your Court Martial is to sit upon capital offences, but can only transport for life. Murder is not a transportable offence. It does not receive, then, its sentence from the Court to be established. You deal only with subordinate offences—you attack the misdemeanor, and you leave the crime. Again, what is the great grievance complained of by the noble Lord in the administration of justice? That the witness dares not give evidence in a Court of law—that a son shrinks from arraigning the murderer of his own father. A terrible proof of the disorder to which a legislation of long and unvaried coercion has brought that unfortunate country. I join in lamenting it—I will join in devising cures for it; but there is no cure for this contemplated in your new powers. The witness would be exposed to exactly the 1232 same danger under the Court Martial as in the Court of Law. You may compel him to give evidence by the threat of imprisonment; but when he has given his evidence, how will you protect him? He will be exposed to the same danger—the same did I say? No, to a much greater danger. For the new tribunal will be more odious than the old; and in proportion to the odium of the tribunal, will be the vengeance against the witness. Oh! but say his Majesty's Ministers, we shall pacify the country, and thereby disarm intimidation, and then the witness will become safe. Before you have pacified the country, I apprehend that some half a dozen witnesses will be shot at, in order, perhaps, to encourage the rest. But pacify the country—pacify it by domiciliary visits, by Court Martials—by.——Oh, rare pacification. The right hon. Gentleman has not been to Ireland in vain. He has learnt, at least, the science of practical bulls—he would pacify a country by maddening its people! But what is this tribunal itself? You take away the Court of Law because you say it cannot, under existing circumstances, be a fair Court for the plaintiff. You appoint, in its stead, a Court Martial, which, by no possibility, can be a fair Court for the accused! Sir, I will not say as my Lord Holland did—my Lord Holland, one of his Majesty's Ministers, upon the proposition of continuing Martial Law in Ireland—I will not, like him, speak of a Court Martial as a Court which, under no circumstances, could be legally adopted—I will not speak of it as a Court governed only by passion and caprice. But I say, on the contrary, that more humane and honourable men than British officers do not exist. Yet, how, with all their high and strict code of opinion—how with that spirit of discipline which with them is a principle of virtue—how is it possible that they can be impartial judges in political offences—in offences of insubordination? If there be a man in the world more proverbially gentle and humane than another, it is Major Wyndham—the defendant in Somerville's memorable case; and if in political offences—offences of even supposed insubordination, passion could lead even such a man to injustice, how can you hope that the same causes will not operate to produce partial bias against peasantry accused of the same offences of political audacity and insubor- 1233 dination to their superiors? But how much more will this unconscious partiality—still more dangerous, because unconscious—be increased by actual events? The military are to assist the police in conflicts with the people, and then they are to judge the people; they are to be in the contest to-day, and on the Bench tomorrow; with all the passions of antagonists, they are expected to have all the moderation of Judges. Why, Sir, what sort of tribunal is this? This impartial—this cool—this unbiassed? You say, that these officers are free from the prejudices of the Magistrates. It is an error—it is with the Magistrates—with the provincial gentry, that they will habitually mix. From whom can they, ignorant of the country, take information, but from those persons with whom society brings them into contact? They will see with the eyes of the Magistrates—it is their opinion they will represent, and according to their partialities will they judge. Thus, then—I beg hon. Members to mark this—thus you are about to suspend the Constitution, to inflame all Ireland, to outrage all liberty, for the sake of appointing a tribunal which does not possess the requisite qualities fairly to adjudge the offence—which does not give the necessary protection to the witness—which does not meet the very crimes, for which alone you ask us to appoint it. If these laws only touched, only threatened, the guilty, I should recoil from so terrific a precedent; but they menace the innocent also. If you suspend the Constitution, you suspend it for all alike—you make no exemptions from the dread ban of general excommunication. You subject the innocent and the guilty alike to spies and informers—to the arbitrary perils of suspicion—to those dark uncertainties of terror in which every man stands in fear of his neighbour. You give temptation to the accusation of private revenge; you give a field to all the mercenary, all the malignant, all the individual motives, which are ever brought into operation by the suspension of law, and the insecurity of political freedom. The right of petitioning—is that the right of the guilty alone? Have not the innocent grievances to complain of? If not, why do you pass your remedial measures? Why do you reform the Church? Why do you amend the Jury Laws? Why do you allow that these are but the commencement of more comprehensive redress? 1234 You allow there are great grievances remaining, and you take away from those who endure them the simple privilege of complaint. Does that law touch the guilty alone? Does the right of forcibly invading houses by night, where you merely suspect the inhabitant—does that touch the guilty alone? When this law was in force before, men turned it to the most fearful purposes; it was not the peasant who was invaded in his own person—he was outraged in that of his sister or his wife. It was a law that operated not for a trembling landlord, but for the daring violator—not in behalf of the security of property, but against rights still more sacred than even property itself. It is in recollection of this state of things that the Chief Justice of Ireland—a man whom I name with all respect, and an authority of weight, I presume, with the right hon. Gentleman opposite—said, in his address to the Jury, that he remembered the date of the summary Insurrection Act, and the still more summary Court-Martial, and that no description could convey an adequate notion of the horrors that then existed. And by whom is it decreed that these horrors, of which no description can convey an adequate notion, are to be revived? By the most liberal and enlightened Ministry that, with respect to the affairs of England, this empire has ever known—by the very men who, in times of greater danger—times not of peace, but of war—not of robberies, but of rebellion—stood foremost, and boldest, and loudest, against the enactment of the very laws they now call upon us to pass. We take the time for exercising new coercions at the very moment when, by our new experiment of conciliation, we have virtually declared that seven centuries of coercion have been unavailing. Why, Sir, not embrace the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman? Why not wait to try the result of that experiment? Why not wait to see the consequence of our new measures of Reform? I am sure that no people on the face of the earth can be governed by the system his Majesty's Ministers propose. To-day concession—to-morrow coercion. This quick alternation of kicks and kindness this coaxing with the hand, and spurring with the heel—this system, at once feeble and exasperating, of allowing the justice of complaint, and yet of stifling its voice—of holding out hopes and fears, terror 1235 and conciliation, all in a breath—is a system that renders animals and men alike—not tame but savage—is a system that would make the most credulous people distrustful, and the mildest people ferocious. Your object is to govern Ireland. I allow it is no easy matter. Wherever a highly civilised people is united under the same Constitution with one less prosperous and less enlightened, the task of Government is no sinecure. We must, as practical statesmen, in such a case look not only to abstract measures, but to the complex and varied state of those parties, on whom the measures must operate. Ireland is divided into two parties—the Protestant Aristocracy, and the Catholic population. You roust govern Ireland by one or the other of these parties, unless, by a happier policy, you can procure the united confidence of both. But the system proposed by his Majesty's Ministers, instead of making friends of either party, makes enemies of the two. By your measures of Church conciliation you offend the Orange Aristocracy—by your measures of military coercion, you incense the body of the people—you pass a scythe under your power in both parties—you make one enemy of all Ireland. Can anything be less politic or less statesmanlike? You throw away the conciliatory measures—you get the odium for them, and not the gratitude. Do what you will—if you pass these laws, I warn you that it will be in vain. You can never counterbalance, in the opinion of the Irish people, this attack upon the vitals of their freedom. No individual reforms, however salutary, can pacify or content a nation that you rob of its Constitution. It would be much wiser to be consistent in a harsh policy than weak and contradictory in a mild one. If you make these laws, you ought to suit your other laws to them—if the country is in a state to require these powers, it is not in a state to receive the benefits you offer it; it cannot be fit at the same time for an improved code of laws and a Court Martial as a judicial body. It is said, that these powers will be placed in merciful hands—and be administered with all the mildness of arbitrary benevolence. But how can his Majesty's Ministers answer even for this? How can they answer for the mercy of their military delegates? Mercy and these laws are incompatible. The mildest administration of such powers would be severe, because 1236 their victims will never recognize them to be just. Mercy, too, would be an inhumane policy. If you obtain these powers, exercise no mercy. If you allow the people a hope of escape, you may be sure that they will tempt great dangers to resist so obnoxious a state of law. An unpopular law mercifully administered is only an excitement to crime. No, you can show no mercy. The most humane policy will be to gorge the law as expeditiously as possible, so that we may return the sooner to the natural and healing tranquillity of the Constitution. After the reception that has been given to the right hon. Gentleman's disavowal of hostility, it might be useless in me to state, that, however weak and ineffectual my opposition to this Bill may be, it ought, at least, to have this weight—it comes from one who does not oppose his Majesty's Government generally. I do not agree with some hon. Members in suspecting their future policy with regard to England; nor do I agree with other hon. Members in attributing to them dishonest motives with regard to their conduct in Ireland. I support the Government when I conceive them right. I give them the same support when I think their conduct doubtful, for I will then give credit to their intentions, and estimate their difficulties. I oppose them only when I do from my conscience believe and feel them to be dangerously wrong. I would wish, even in this Bill, to meet as far as I can, their views and objects. I do not ask you to alter the Bill—only delay the Bill—try what even three weeks will do; if then there is no progress to a better state of things—(I say progress, for you cannot expect more than progress even if you pass the Bill—you cannot cure the evils of centuries in a day), come down to this House and pass the measure. I do not say, then, that I would ask for no amendment of the detail; but only show me this decorous and honourable reluctance to pass the Act, and I, for one, will, though I may still condemn, no longer oppose the principle. In this haste there is no show of moderation. A bill that changes liberty into despotism is hurried through the Lords in one week, brought down to this House, and you refuse us the delay—the inquiry of a fortnight. With what consistency can this House oppose itself to so trifling a concession? It required two years to amend the Constitution of England. Shall we not wait two weeks before 1237 we unmake the Constitution of Ireland. You will lose nothing by delay. Ministers allow, that if they obtain this law, they will not call it into operation at once; they will not use it unless some necessity demands. Why not let it rest in this House as well as in the hands of the Government? Why should the Ministers rush so hastily into the odious responsibility of this dangerous power? Let it rest unaltered, unmutilated, in this House; postpone it only from week to week, ready to be passed the instant it is required; passed too with less delay and less acrimony than at present; with much less excuse for prolonged and detailed opposition—much less reluctance in the English Members—much less procrastination—much fewer adjournments and debates—I will venture to say, even from the most indignant of the Irish Members themselves. The same purpose of terror will be answered; the Irish people will equally see this armed law hanging over their heads—they will see at what penalty they must incur crime. Thus, perhaps, you will obtain all the good that the passing of the law can secure, but without the same actual and formal violation of liberty—without provoking the same exasperation, or incurring the same responsibility. Let us, then, try this experiment—let the Government make this wise pause—they will lose nothing by it; they may gain much. No one can blame them for cowardice, for reluctance, in a little while suspending a law by which the Constitution itself is suspended. In the observations I have made, I have endeavoured to show that these new powers are not effective because they are violent; that they will not constitute an impartial tribunal, nor protect the witness, nor meet the crimes for which they are demanded; that they confound in one blind punishment the innocent with the guilty; and, that forming part of a contradictory and jarring system, they suffice to annihilate the benefits of conciliating one party without the advantage of conciliating the other. This is not all. You desire them to put down the Political Associations as well as those that are combined only for plunder. You may do so, but you will only throw the eruption into the Constitution—you will only destroy the outward sign of the disease, by increasing its inward violence. We are the true quellers of agitation, who would give no cause to agitate. We are the true tamers and masters of the learned 1238 member for Dublin, who would take from his hands his only substantial power—the power of just complaint. You flatter yourselves, that under shelter of those laws you will be able, with effect, to apply your remedial measures: it is just the reverse—they will blight all your remedies, and throw their own withering shadow over all your concessions. I do not fear an open rebellion against the armed force and discipline of England; but if you madden the people, it is impossible to calculate the strength of insanity. But I allow, that an open rebellion is the least evil to be feared—I fear more a sullen, bitter, unforgiving recollection, which will distrust all our kindness, and misinterpret all our intentions—which will take all grace from our gifts—which will ripen a partial into a general desire for a separate legislation, by a settled conviction of the injustice of this, so that at last the English people themselves, worn out with unavailing experiments—wearied with an expensive and thankless charge—and dissatisfied with a companionship which gives them nothing but the contagion of its own diseases, will be the first to ask for that very dismemberment of the Empire which we are now attempting to prevent. I shall conclude with a very few words, to be found in one of the most splendid orations that adorn our time—I mean the speech of Lord Brougham, on the second reading of the Reform Bill. I quote it not as an instance of inconsistency—this question is far too wide to be reduced to the petty criteria by which individuals are acquitted or defended. I quote it only as an instance of that large and Catholic wisdom which is applicable to all circumstances and all times. In answer to some observations which had been directed against political associations, Lord Brougham said, "Those portentous appearances, the growth of later times—those figures that stalk abroad, of unknown stature, and strange form—unions, and leagues, and musterings of men in myriads, and conspiracies against the Exchequer—whence do they spring, and how come they to haunt our shores? What power engendered these uncouth shapes—what multiplied the monstrous births, till they people the land? Trust me, the same power which called into frightful existence, and armed with resistless force, the Irish Volutnteers of 1782—the same power which rent in twain your empire, and conjured up thirteen 1239 republics—the same power which created the Catholic Association, and gave it Ireland for a portion. What power is that? Justice denied by the right of petitioning—rights withheld—ay, Trial by Jury—wrongs perpetrated—yes! domiciliary visits !—the force which common injuries lend, to millions. This it is, that has conjured up the strange sights at which we now stand aghast! And shall we persist in the fatal error of combating the giant progeny, instead of extirpating the execrable parent? Good God! Will men never learn wisdom, even from their own experience?*"From their own experience! I repeat the interrogatory of Lord Brougham, and I add, will you not learn wisdom from the speeches of Lord Brougham himself. He added, "Nor can you expect to gather in any other crop than they did who went before you, if you persevere in their utterly abominable husbandry, of sowing injustice and reaping rebellion."†
§ Sir John Byng
observed, that he had enjoyed many years of happiness for which he was wholly indebted to Ireland, and for which he felt that he could never make any adequate return. He was also connected with that country by ties of birth and property, which circumstances would prevent him from listening with apathy or indifference to any measures which might be proposed for her better government. He might, therefore, with great reason, assert, that he was extremely reluctant to admit the necessity for adopting such a measure as that which the noble Lord had brought forward; but notwithstanding this, so reluctantly disposed as he was to take so desponding a view of the condition of Ireland as was taken by the noble Lord, he was sorry to say, that he considered the present measure to be but too necessary for the preservation and protection of life and property in that country. Although it was said, that the reports which the Government had received from Ireland relative to her actual state were greatly exaggerated, the House ought to recollect, that the Government did not receive these reports exclusively from the police officers or the Magistrates, but that those reports were confirmed by the accounts received from military officers stationed in Ireland of known intelligence, and whose testimony was perfectly unpre-*Hansard, (third series) viii. 269. † Ibid. p. 374.1240 judiced. He requested the right hon. Secretary for Ireland to state whether the most valuable and useful reports which Government had received lately as to the state of Ireland had not been received from the military officers in command of the troops there? In fact, those gentlemen were obliged to be so constantly on the alert, and were such frequent witnesses of the scenes which took place there, it was impossible for them to be other than the best witnesses. It had been asserted by several hon. Members that the disturbances and threats which were constantly taking place in Ireland had no connexion whatever with political discontents: he only wished, that he could say that such was the fact, for every circumstance which came to his knowledge, in consequence of his connexion with Ireland, taught him, that political agitation was the sole source of all the disorder which was now going on. It had come within the scope of his own knowledge that a friend of his had been marked out and threatened with vengeance on account of his political opinions. When he declared his intention to support the Bill brought in by the noble Lord, he simply meant that he approved of its general outline. He had no wish to enter into the details, but he wished to guard himself against the supposition of his being willing to agree to them without examination. There would be a future opportunity for going into them, and for that reason he declined saying anything at present upon that subject. One objection had been urged against the employment of military officers in Courts-martial, which was, that one day they were liable to be employed in hunting out and seizing such persons as they thought were objects of suspicion, and the next they were liable to preside at the trial of those very persons whom they had assisted in apprehending, and against whom they were, in some degree, witnesses. Now, he apprehended that no such proceedings were likely to occur, for a sufficient number of troops would be provided for the service, so as to enable the executive to be totally distinct from the judicial portion of the military officers. How far military officers were the persons who were best fitted to form proper tribunals to pronounce upon the guilt or innocence of these persons it was not, perhaps, for him to say; but he could not help remarking, that a clear judgment of the habits of decision, 1241 which military men in general possessed, fitted them well for the office which was to be intrusted to them. A great advantage would be gained by the quickness with which the cases would be disposed of, compared with the dilatory proceedings of the ordinary courts. As to the proclamation of martial law, all he had to say was, that two years ago the parties most interested on both sides urged him, as one of the Privy Councillors for Ireland, to use all his influence with the Marquess of Anglesey to get martial law proclaimed there. It had also been said, that young members of Courts-martial were more particularly objectionable, because, from their habits of obedience to their superior officers, they were liable to be biassed in their judgments by those of their superiors. He could only reply to this, that if he wished to influence young officers, he should think his object best effected by not saying one word to them upon the subject. There was, however, no person in that House who objected more strongly to the general principle upon which martial law was introduced in civil cases; but he was also of opinion, that when the necessity was made out, the decisions of those courts were founded on as true a regard to justice as those of any civil court; and although they were not frequently reversed, the sentences were still subject to be sent back for revision. Two years ago the people in Ireland asked for the Insurrection Act, for then, they said, they would have some excuse for keeping at home during the night, which they were compelled not to do under the system which was imposed on them. If the Bill was not carried, he was convinced that their refusal to pass it would throw the first stone at the separation of the United Kingdom. The first duty of a Government was to afford protection to the lives and properties of the subjects, and failing to do that in Ireland, they failed to perform those duties which devolved upon them.
§ Mr. Grote
said, that it was not without considerable reluctance he presented himself to the notice of the House. He sincerely regretted to find himself for the third time compelled to support an Amendment upon a Motion of one of the members of the Government; but he nevertheless could not shrink from performing his duty. He could not help commenting on a measure which the noble mover of it 1242 himself had designated as arbitrary and despotic. He ought, perhaps, to have given the precedence to some Irish Member, better acquainted with the question before them than he was, and more interested in it. His defence would be, that he felt upon the question, and on the present occasion, that he was as much an Irishman as an Englishman. Such was his feeling, and he hoped that it would be, as it ought to be, the feeling of every English Member in that House. As Louis 14th said, formerly to his grandson, when sending him into Spain, "My son, recollect that the Pyrenees exist no longer," so he would recollect that there existed no longer any Irish Channel, and draw no hue of distinction between the two countries. He made no distinction, and he felt as much interested in the happiness and prosperity of Ireland, as he did in the happiness and prosperity of England. There was no difference in his sympathy—it extended equally to both sides of the Channel. Having made these few remarks, he would now say, that in spite of the respect he felt towards the quarter from whence the projected measure came, he could not give it his approval. It contained, he granted, some wise and tutelary provisions; but, taking it as a whole, he considered it as unlikely to attain the end for which it was destined. He could not speak of it but as a most revolting measure. He had listened patiently to the long catalogue of Irish enormities which the noble Lord opposite had laid before the House. Such a catalogue contained nothing new to him, as it was not the first time he had heard that the Irish were a lawless people, who were not to be bound down by Courts of Justice. They ever had been a lawless people, and the noble Lord had not sufficiently dwelt upon that fact. If the noble Lord had done so, then would it be for them to examine and see whether the tribunals already existing were not sufficient to try the offences that might be brought before them or not, and whether the police were sufficiently strong to execute the orders of those tribunals. If not, they should be strengthened, for that would be making strong the hands of justice. The hands of justice should be strengthened; but in doing so, a new species of injustice should not be introduced, as would be by the present measure. If they reflected, that when a man was brought before a Court of Justice, the 1243 only security he had for the establishment of his innocence was in the impartiality of the tribunal to which his fate was intrusted, he put it to the House whether a court-martial, constituted as those courts-martial were to be constituted, was likely to be impartial; or if the Members of which it was to be composed were likely to go to their task with those feelings of candour and desire for justice, which a Court of Justice ought to have? He knew that the officers composing those courts would be so far perfectly impartial, that they would not bear spite to any individual who might be brought before them; but could it be supposed that they would be without some feeling of antipathy and provocation, knowing previously that they Were in the disturbed districts? They might consider it as important that they should condemn as many as possible, as examples to the rest; and it would, therefore, be an object to condemn where there was even a colour of evidence, however slight that evidence might be. It was hardly necessary for him to take part either for or against; but he considered it a property of a soldier in every age, not to be so particular about evidence in such cases as Courts of Justice should. If the House thought that those courts-martial would be impartial, did they yet think that they would look to the cases with that discrimination which was necessary to the ends of justice? Were they to balance conflicting testimony so as to elicit the truth? "Were they to examine witnesses with that care, anxiety, and patience, which was necessary in order to discover the true circumstances of every accusation—a duty difficult with any, but more especially with an Irish witness. If tribunals constituted, so as to form the foundations of our Constitution, and the safeguards of our liberties were liable to mistakes, what would be the case with tribunals constituted as these courts-martial were likely to be? And the worst part of the system was, that if they did commit mistakes, they were generally on the side—not of mercy, but of severity. It was astonishing to him to hear the noble Lord object to sending down Judges of Assize to the disturbed districts instead of adopting those courts-martial. If that suggestion had been acceded to, he would have had less objection to this Bill; for he thought that in some circumstances it might be desirable to dispense with Trial by Jury. In looking to the different 1244 clauses of the Bill, he could not help ob serving one clause which was likely to render the evils, which he had already de scribed as the probable result of those military tribunals, still more grievous. He alluded to that clause which made courts-martial responsible for misconduct to other courts-martial—and to those only. He would ask if it were to be imagined that an officer brought before another court-martial was likely to suffer for any abuse of his power in the exercise of his duty While on these courts-martial? It was not to be expected; for the esprit de corps was so strong among the officers, that the condemnation of a military man for a military offence would be found extremely difficult. When he looked to the Bill, and saw that military men only were to be members of those Courts-martial, and when he saw, as appeared by the 37th Clause, that "In case of a verdict for the plaintiff in action for false imprisonment. or entering a house, if it appears to the Judge that there Was probable cause for so doing, and he certifies accordingly, the plaintiff shall recover only sixpence damages, and not the costs of the suit; the plaintiff shall recover treble costs if the Judge certify the act to be malicious;" he would say, that it would deter all men, however much aggrieved they might feel, from complaining, as most men would prefer to have their grievance unredressed, to the risk of being mulcted in treble the costs of suit. He put his objection to the Bill on two distinct grounds. He objected, in the first place, to that part of it which subjected Ireland to the government of military tribunals; and in the second place, he Objected to that part which prohibited public meetings and the right to petition. The prohibition of the constitutional right to petition would not, he conceived, either add to or diminish by one jot the outrages in Ireland. They would not advance one step towards the tranquillization of that country, by denying to the people the right of petitioning against public grievances. Whatever might be said as to the difficulty of obtaining evidence, or as to the necessity of arming justice with powers which would make it swift and strong, as well as sure, he (Mr. Grote) could not admit that to be a sufficient ground for depriving Ireland of its great constitutional right. He was sure they had not arrived yet at the period when the relations between the governors and the governed in that country 1245 were so pure, and so free from suspicion, as to enable the people to dispense with all the bulwarks of the Constitution. There were abundance of grievances yet to redress in that country—not that he charged the present Government with being the authors of them, for they existed long before the present Ministers came into power—but they did exist, and he thought it would be wise as well as delicate in the Government to pause before they shut the door against all the public complaints of the people of Ireland. On these grounds he would protest against that part of the Bill which suppressed public meetings, and the right to petition, fully as strongly as he would against the part which placed Ireland under the dominion of Courts-martial. He would likewise beg to remind the noble Lord opposite, that it was Very doubtful if the country was in such a disturbed state as to warrant the measures proposed, even if they were otherwise unexceptionable. Many who were well acquainted with Ireland thought not. He would instance two, who were well known to the Government and the country, who were of that opinion—he meant Sir John Harvey and Mr. Barrington, both of whom denied that the state of Ireland was so disturbed as was represented. There was nothing laid before the House sufficient to show that the state of that country was such as to justify the House in passing this harsh measure. He hoped, therefore, that they would pause until sufficient evidence was laid before them, for he begged of them to recollect, that in passing this Bill—in suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, they were placing the life of every man in Ireland at the discretion of Government and the military. He trusted, that Government would reconsider the matter, and would give the House time to obtain evidence of the necessity of the measure, as was suggested by the hon. member for Lambeth. It was absolutely necessary that they should have evidence to enable them to see the way before them, and to judge of the wisdom and expediency of it, before they proceeded to pass one of the harshest measures which was ever passed in a British Parliament. He thought, that if the noble Lord gave the House time to take evidence, and if the evidence when taken confirmed the necessity of the mea sure, it would relieve the noble Lord of the great responsibility which he must 1246 now bear if he pressed the House to pass it on no other evidence but the statement made to-night by him. He concluded by saying, that he would give his firmest support to the Motion made by the hon. member for Lambeth.
believed, that no man in that House could give his assent to the Bill before them, except he concurred in opinion with the noble Lord—that the increase of crime in Ireland was somehow connected with the existence and growth of political associations there. Now he had been induced to go over to Ireland through motives of amusement, and became, as he had reason to believe, intimately acquainted with the habits and feelings of the people. In order to establish that position, he would mention a few facts which happened to him in the county of Kilkenny within the last three years. During the first part of his residence in that country, the amusement of fox-hunting, which he occasionally followed, brought him often in contact with the people. He was frequently benighted in the most dreary and lonely situations, and occasionally he lost his way, but he felt himself, even when benighted, quite at his ease; and never hesitated, nor had the least fear, however lonely the place, or wretched the hovel, to go up and inquire his way to Woodstock, the seat of his hospitable and popular friend Mr. Tighe. The merely mentioning that he was a friend of Mr. Power, of Kilfane, was to himself a passport, and a source of immediate protection and safeguard. He was sure that many Irish Gentlemen in the House would bear him out in saying, that there was no better landlord or better man in Ireland than Mr. Tighe, or a more generous landlord than Mr. Power. He would prefer being benighted in Ireland at that time, to experiencing the same accident in many parts of England. This was in 1829. But then came 1830 and 1831, when the noble Lord now at the head of the Woods and Forests vacated his seat on account of taking office. Till that time agitation had not reached the county of Kilkenny; but soon afterwards the county was overrun with agitators not belonging to the county, who endeavoured to rouse the people to petition for the Repeal of the Union. At his former election, the noble Lord was drawn in his carriage by the populace for ten miles to Thomastown. This was 1247 some months before political agitation had arrived at any great height. Now, let the House come to consider whether political agitation did or did not increase crime. When the election came on, those who dared to vote for the noble Lord were way-laid on their return, by that populace who had previously drawn the noble Lord in triumph, and were, by them, beaten and maimed. Their farming utensils were destroyed in the night, and, amongst other outrages, a fine orchard of young and fruitful trees was cut down. From the difference which he saw in the conduct of the people, he thought that being out late at night in the county of Kilkenny was no longer safe. He mentioned the circumstance to some of his friends, and said that, if he were not an Englishman, and afraid that they would laugh at him for his fears, he would travel with pistols in his pockets. They, however, turned up their coats, and showed that, with respect to carrying pistols, they had forestalled him. Such was, at last, the state of the county, that Mr. Power, that most popular man, came to him, and requested, as a personal favour, that he would not follow the hounds, unless the whole of the gentlemen were present, for if he did, the loss of his (Captain Berkeley's) life would be the consequence. [" Oh! "from Mr. O'Connell.] The hon. and learned Gentleman called out "oh!" If he could contradict this statement, let him do so. Nor did it end there; for shortly afterwards some of Mr. Power's hounds were stoned to death. Did the House think that this outrage was committed because Mr. Power was a harsher man, or a worse landlord than he was formerly? Had he then become a worse man or a worse landlord? No; but he dared to vote, according to his conscience, for the noble Lord. He would go further, and say, that the tithe question was forced forward to assist in achieving the Repeal of the Union. He had himself gone into the cabins of some of the peasantry, and he had asked them, why they supposed that those who had recently been their friends were now their enemies? The only answer he had obtained was, that those persons were the enemies of their country, and, through those intrigues, the odious name of "Brunswicker" was affixed to those who had uniformly voted for Catholic Emancipation. He, therefore, thought that political agitation had increased 1248 crime in the county of Kilkenny, and elsewhere, and for that reason he would give his support to the first reading of this Bill. He did so the more especially, because the law was made to reach those who best knew how to evade it. Under less wily agitators, the public peace might have been preserved without any recurrence to such a measure as this. His objections to it were, however, lost in the magnitude of the danger. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite might raise the storm, but even he, with all his ingenuity, might not be able to control its ravages, or calculate the extent to which its horrors might be carried.
§ Mr. Finn
said, that as one of the agitators who had exerted himself on the occasion referred to by the gallant Member, he wished to make a few observations. The whole cause of all the proceedings to which the gallant Member referred was to be traced to the Government itself; and their after vengeance was to be accounted for by the fact, that the people had, in spite of them, elected honest men, and not those whom they looked upon, and justly looked upon, as the bitter enemies of the country. The people wished to have nothing to do with those who now cajoled Orangemen, and then paid their court to Catholics—who at one time praised the loyalty of the yeomanry, and then exclaimed against their violence; and what for? Why, to answer their own purposes—to secure their own tenure of office. The people of Ireland did not confide in those who had, in some instances, been selected to represent them; and in the instance to which the gallant Member alluded, they did not confide in the protégé of the Government. He knew not in what situation the gallant Member had gone to Kilkenny, whether fox-hunting or shooting. But it appeared that the gallant Member had been there in two successive Septembers, even in the parish of Graigh, and no attempt was made to molest him. But it appeared that that most popular nobleman. Lord Duncannon, had been opposed. How was he popular? At the time to which the gallant Member referred. Ministers were doing the same thing that they were now attempting to do—they were endeavouring to put down the country—to prevent the cry for a Repeal of the Union—by proclamation; and the consequence was, that from one end of Ireland to the other there was a 1249 just and a general feeling against them. But the gallant Member admitted, that up to a certain time, notwithstanding all the fears and alarms which had prevailed in the county of Kilkenny, still the people were so kind that he would rather have passed his time there than in many parts of England. Why had his feelings upon this point changed? Because, said the gallant Member, political agitation had produced an increase of crime. Now, he would prove by an official document, that there had been for some years a decrease of crime in the county of Kilkenny. By a return beginning with the year 1827, and ending with the 1st of January, 1832, it appeared that the number of persons charged with crime, in the county of Kilkenny, in 1827, was 274; in 1828, 224; in 1829, 174; in 1830, 171; in 1831, 175. This showed a decrease, not an increase of crime. The gallant Member stated, as his opinion, that the tithe question was brought on for the purpose of pressing forward the Repeal of the Union. Now, they might differ in opinion without any want of courtesy, and he could not only assure the gallant Member, but he believed he could convince him, that he was never more mistaken in his life than he was on this point. He had been one of the most determined advocates for Repeal; and there was not a word which he had heard in that House, there was not a cheer which had been given within those walls, on Irish subjects, that did not more and more, show to him the necessity of that measure. All the efforts that might be exerted to deprive the people of Ireland of their just rights must fail. Government might have recourse to gagging bills—to putting down the press—to extinguishing the functions of juries—to changing the venue; but all would be ineffectual. Non meus hic sermo. This was not his opinion alone—it was the opinion of all who thought rightly on the subject. They had heard of 2,000 cases of arson in twenty counties in England; they had seen a part of the population almost in a state of insurrection; but who, under these circumstances, ever talked of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? They were now, however, legislating for Ireland; and how different was their conduct, how different the treatment that country experienced? But it had been long ago, and recently too, well remarked, that justice was never extended 1250 to Ireland. If any man, when England was placed in the situation which he had described, had advised the introduction of such a measure as this, he would either have been expelled his country; like Charles 10th, or his head would have rolled upon a scaffold. He denied, that political agitation had occasioned disturbances; they arose out of the question of tithes. The hon. and gallant Officer had accused the agitators of encouraging tithe meetings in Kilkenny; but so far was that from being the case, that they did all in their power to suppress them. The tithe meetingsin Kilkenny commenced in some arbitrary measures adopted by a clergyman, named Doyle, who, with the reverend Mr. Macdonell, issued distresses against the tenants for tithe to a greater amount than they paid of rent. The people resisted, and the military were called in to the assistance of the parsons. It was in consequence of this that the tithe meetings commenced; and as soon as the hon. and learned member for Dublin heard of them, he requested him (Mr. Finn) to go down to endeavour to prevent riot or disturbance. At the one, the resolutions proposed were of such a nature that he subscribed to them; at the other, they were of so violent and illegal a description, that he declared, unless they were withdrawn, he must retire, and his suggestion was complied with. This showed, on the part of the people, and of those who asserted their cause, a desire to keep within the pale of the law. So far from the tithe question being made use of as an auxiliary to the question of repeal, he believed that it had been fomented by the enemies of the country, for the purpose of bringing the people into a bloody collusion with the police.
, although he had never presented himself to the House with deeper feelings of regret and anxiety of mind, yet he must also say, that he had never presented himself to their attention with a more complete expectation and belief that if any hon. Gentleman had experienced a doubt as to the necessity for the application of some strong or arbitrary measure in Ireland for the repression of disturbance, whether prædial or political in its origin, for the protection of life and property, for the maintenance of good order and an established government—he said, if any Gentleman yet doubted the necessity for such a measure, he entertained a 1251 confident hope that he should be able to show that there existed in the present state of Ireland not only a necessity for a Bill to meet the exigency of the case, but that this particular Bill, arbitrary and violent in its character as he admitted it to be, was called for by imperious necessity. Whatever the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down might think of the character of Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House—however the hon. Member might denounce them as adverse to liberty, and inclined towards arbitrary measures, he thought he might safely appeal to the testimony of longer and better known political lives than his own, and call upon the House to say whether his noble and hon. friends around him, and "who had seats in the other House of Parliament, were likely, on light or trivial grounds, rashly or needlessly to interfere with the liberty of the subject. He appealed not only to the principles of conduct of his friends, long since avowed and acted on, but to their proceedings since the period of their acceptance of office. He appealed not only to their conduct in an extension of popular rights, but to the course they had taken with respect to Ireland itself. Night after night, week after week, month after month, had they resisted the importunities, taunts, and appeals, of Gentlemen, who pressed them to adopt measures beyond the ordinary power of the law with a view to repress disturbance in that country. He asked if, in the cases of Clare, Galway, or Queen's County, Ministers had shown any desire to go beyond the limits of the law, so long as there appeared a possibility of vindicating the authority of the law by ordinary means? In Clare and Galway, they had attempted to enforce the law without calling for additional powers, and they succeeded; and here he wished to give the gentlemen of those counties credit for the manner in which they came forward and assisted the Government in the enforcement of the law. As became them, they put themselves at the head of the population of their counties, and met the cry of intimidation with a bold front; they appeared to serve on Petty Juries, and on Grand Juries, and took upon themselves the invidious task of aiding in the administration of justice at a moment when the lower class of persons shrunk from a performance of their duty—at a moment when, but for the exertions of these Gentlemen, 1252 the law could not have been enforced. He cast no imputation on the Gentlemen of the Queen's County, who, he admitted, had also come forward and served (many of them) on Special Juries at the Special Commission, when, had they left that duty to be discharged by the Ordinary Jurors, the authority of the law could not have been vindicated, nor could the partial success which attended the commission have been obtained, nor could convictions have been procured. The Ministers never thought of overstepping the ordinary limits of the law till the exigency of the case required such a deviation from the principles of the Constitution as was now proposed. Having tried to enforce the law in the way before-mentioned in Queen's County, and things having, notwithstanding, become worse than before, they had no alternative but to ask for extraordinary powers to repress an extraordinary evil. He here said openly, without regarding whom he might offend by the declaration, that the Gentlemen of Kilkenny had shrunk from their duty; that they had not placed themselves in the front of the battle, nor displayed that degree of zeal and energy that might reasonably have been expected from them. He did not cast an unjust imputation on those Gentlemen, when he said, that if they had acted with more promptitude and vigour, there would have been a better chance of repressing the disturbances in the outset. But, when those disturbances had arrived at such a pitch as they had now reached, and when the ordinary operations of the law, though applied in the most unflinching manner, had failed of effect, there was no reason, but the contrary, why the King's Government should not step in and say, "whatever be the mischief of establishing a precedent for demanding powers beyond the law, it is our paramount duty to propose the adoption of such a course as we consider is calculated to restore and reinforce the law to protect life and property, and give peace to a distracted country." He had no hesitation in saying, that such was the state of things at this moment in Ireland, that the resident gentry would not come forward if called on; and he frankly admitted, if there existed intimidation and alarm amongst them, that the feeling was not wholly without foundation. The picture which his noble friend had drawn, and which he also should have to draw, 1253 of the state of crime in Ireland, he allowed was not uniformly or universally applicable to the condition of the country at large. On the contrary, he confined his statement of its applicability, with few exceptions, to the extent of the province of Leinster; not that he meant to say there did not exist partial disturbances in other parts, but he rested the Government's claim to further powers on the state of that province; and, as in asking for extraordinary powers, Ministers did not rest their case on the condition of the whole of Ireland, but on the state of a particular portion of it, so they did not seek to apply the required remedy to the country at large, but only to that part which seemed imperiously to demand its application. They asked for powers most undoubtedly without limitation, and they did so because they meant to act on their own responsibility in the application of those powers which they considered indispensable, because they acted on their own responsibility to a reformed Parliament, where the sense of the country could be fully, fairly, and freely taken, and because, while disgraceful outrages were committed, while murder, and violence, and marauding prevailed throughout the country, while bands of strangers paraded various districts by night and by day, it was impossible to say "here is a limit beyond which you do not require powers, beyond which you shall not pass in the application of the authority intrusted to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland." He feared it would be necessary for him to trespass on the attention of the House, by reading extracts from the correspondence of many individuals in various parts of the country, and by detailing the particulars of several acts of individual outrage, involving peculiarly atrocious shades of crime. In adverting to this correspondence, the statements and opinions contained in it must be taken as developing the views of nameless individuals, as it was impossible, for reasons which it was unnecessary more explicitly to declare, to lay the names of the parties before the House. The first communication to which he should call their attention was contained in a letter from a Magistrate of Queen's County, and he would, in the first place, give the general opinion of the individual as to the state of things in his district. The writer stated— I am the more anxious, Sir, strongly to 1254 express my sentiments upon this subject, because I happen to differ in opinion from those whose political opposition to the present Government makes them impute the continuance of the present state of outrage to the assumed imbecility of the liberal principles which are considered to actuate the present Ministry. Whilst, in my humble view of true liberality, I find that the same principle which would duly inquire into all rational grievances, and strive to correct all undue oppressions, is foremost in its wish to resist the worst of all tyrannies, the tyranny of misnamed liberty, which, despotic in its sway, becomes more terrible, because it is a many-headed monster, combining all the disadvantages of autocrat and democrat, to the total exclusion of the partial benefits of either. I would then. Sir, without yielding one particle of what I trust will be as lasting as I know it to be sincere liberality, urge the Government to adopt such strong measures as may bring back sacred justice to our land, just punishment to the guilty, just protection to the honest; and, in the present state of things, I can assert that the Insurrection Act (with whose operations I was somewhat acquainted, in the county of Cork) would be a blessing to the honest, and a gentler check than they deserve to the lawless; if, indeed, as I fear, it is not too late, to apply any last vigorous remedy, than the last sad resource of martial law, to the present frightful excess of outrage. The picture which this gentleman [A cry of "name, name" answered by a very general cry of "no, no,"] which this gentleman gave of the state of things in that part of Ireland, was extremely melancholy. He stated the circumstances of one or two outrages that had been committed in his own neighbourhood, and continued—Such outrages, however, are now so common, that I merely give this detail, to show that any ordinary individual exertion is perfectly futile, if not altogether foolhardy, and to take the occasion of at least performing what I consider my duty, in earnestly calling the attention of Government to a state of outrage of which this is but a very slight and every-day example, but which has already attained a height of organization wholly subversive of all good order, and has spread a degree of too well-founded terror, which drives the many to embrace the criminal security which alone seems to be left to them of joining the lawless crew, whilst the few, who still wish to stand aloof, are doing so at the imminent and constant peril of their lives, unaided by any tangible law, unprotected by any present arm of power. I have seen the honest, and heretofore bold peasant, weep like a child, because his honest courage only doomed him to destruction; whilst, on the other hand, the less honest scruple not to procure their comparative safety, by relinquishing whatever better grace they may have left, and joining, always by oath, often by deed, the lawless gang.1255 Since the writer commenced his letter, he had heard of a fresh nocturnal outrage in his immediate neighbourhood, and of a savage murder committed at Stradbally, on Mr. Prentice, the steward of a landed proprietor in that part of the country; the only crime of the deceased being an honest attention to his master's interests. The date of this communication was November 14, 1832. The next communication he would read was a letter from Kilkenny, written by a private gentleman to a near relation, and which was never intended to be made any public use of. It was this—I am sorry to say that the county is in a horrible state of excitement, in consequence of the unlimited power of our new legislators—" the Whitefeet."——'s son was visited last night by some armed ruffians, who severely beat the poor man, because he dared to dig my potatoes after the notice to the contrary. They desired him to go to his father, and order him, on his peril, not to follow any of my cattle till the quarter, ground, &c. was settled. They then went to several of the tenants, and swore them not to attempt to work for me. I saw——, with his head tied up, and the mark of a point of á bayonet in his thigh. On the same night——was severely beaten, and, while on his knees, one scoundrel kicked him in the throat. I saw him yesterday, in bed; he had just been blooded by the doctor, and could with difficulty speak. The only reason they gave was, because he gave up his arms to his landlord, and did not keep them for their honours. You have no idea of the fright that——'s family are in; girls crying, and all in the greatest consternation and dread of the Whitefeet visiting them again, when they are certain of being murdered.——'s brother, at——, was visited a few nights ago, early in the evening, and they were not afraid to fire several shots so near the police-barracks!The same gentleman, writing to Sir E. Blakeney, said, speaking of the demands of the Whitefeet—I would not comply with their wishes and turn off my men to please such incendiaries; I valued my stock, and sent them back to my land, where they have been without a herd ever since. Now, they have ordered the gate to be built up to prevent my cattle going to water; they have beaten the herd and his brother so, that their heads were nearly fractured: at the same time they were obliged to drive home my cattle. They used my nephew's herd in like manner, and also broke his ribs about ten days ago, and now the inclosed shows you how they have used his son. All I can say is, that the country is in a state of rebellion, and that you will not find a Kilkenny Jury to convict a murderer. I am told by a man, who says he owes all he is worth to me, and would be ungrateful 1256 if he did not, that there are Juries of twelve men sitting on life and death; that they issue their orders to the White feet, of whom there are thousands sworn to act under them. He advises me to act like my neighbours, by letting things pass, and not to put my life in danger. I could not persuade him to give information, as, he says, he and his family would be murdered.The next document he would read was a letter from Louth, dated November last, and written for the purpose of stating to Government the brutal system now most prevalent, of beating persons, in various parts of the county (Louth), and also of throwing large stones into houses at night. It went on:—A banditti of ruffians, amounting to about thirty, broke in the sashes of nine houses, last night, on my estate. The occupiers of these houses are tenants and labourers of mine, most quiet and industrious poor men—in truth, the more respectable the man, the more liable is he to be attacked. I find that seventy-three panes of glass were broken, with many sashes; some doors were injured. I have been in the houses, and have seen several stones thrown in, which weigh six pounds; and had any of these struck the inmates, the consequence might, in all probability, have proved fatal. None of the offenders can be identified, but could they, whoever might give evidence in such a case, would be murdered. Such is the existing state of society in this unfortunate country, out of which every civilized man in lower life is escaping to America, who can afford to depart.He had another letter, which could not be suspected of exaggeration or misstatement; it was from the Lieutenant of the county of Louth, Sir Patrick Bellew, a gentleman, who, as every body knew, was incapable of making statements of outrages or disturbances lightly. The communication was a very recent one; it bore date 14th January, 1833, and stated, the Magistrates had used every effort to repress outrage, but with little or no effect; that the combination was too strong for them to put it down; that, at a meeting of Magistrates, held on the 14th of December last, the landowners had been called on to assist as special constables, in the enforcement of the law and the preservation of peace, but that, from fear or other causes, they had almost all declined. He held in his hand another letter from Louth, which bore out the previous statements. He was aware that, in calling the attention of the House to so many details of offences, he was pursuing a tedious course, but the case did not rest on the 1257 magnitude or prevalence of one particular crime, so much as upon the cumulative evidence of a multiplicity of instances of outrage and disturbance. The letter last mentioned said, that the system of disorder and beating and unlawful meetings had proceeded to a frightful extent—that the intimidation was such as to prevent information from being conveyed to the Magistrates—that in cases where fines were inflicted with the alternative of imprisonment, "ambassadors" were despatched throughout the county to collect the amount, and that the Magistrates having committed many individuals to gaol, as above-mentioned, every one of them was enlarged by those means. The writer expressed his conviction that, if effectual measures were not resorted to, to put a stop to the proceedings of the ruffians who nightly disturbed the country, the loss of life and property must be immense. The police were indefatigable in their exertions, but even if they were ten times more numerous than at present, they would not tie able to meet the evil. Here again was a letter from a gentleman of Westmeath, who, after alluding to twenty-four outrages committed within a very short time, in his own neighbourhood, said, that numerous instances of a similar nature were occurring by day and by night; but such was the degree of intimidation prevalent, that the parties assailed feared to subject themselves to a repetition of violence and outrage by giving information, and they therefore preferred suffering in silence and without complaint. The writer never recollected an instance of the apprehensions of the peaceable being so much excited as at present. He described the outrages as being systematic, and the disturbers of the peace as being confident of their strength. They possessed a large quantity of arms, which, however, could not be discovered in the possession of any one. The arras were supposed to be placed under the care of a captain, qualified for such a trust by his fame in deeds of bloodshed and outrage. Under such circumstances there was no chance of such a person turning approver. When an attack on any house or person was contemplated, but short notice was given to each individual of the party of assailants, and the band being once formed, nobody was allowed to leave it till the matter was concluded, when the arms were handed over 1258 to the Captain, who alone was aware of the place of their deposit. From Kildare, Louth, Westmeath, Queen's County, and Kilkenny, he might quote various other communications confirmatory of the statements already made; but as the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, attributed the outrages to the circumstance of Government pressing the payment of tithes, under the Bill of last Session, he preferred reading a letter from the Attorney General for Ireland, on whom was devolved the duty of examining into the nature of the offences to be tried at the approaching circuits, and from this letter it would appear how far the hon. Member was justified in ascribing the existing disturbance to an enforcement of the tithe system. The Attorney-General's letter stated, that he had just concluded his painful duty of reading the informations preparatory to the circuits, and he regretted to say, that the offences on the Home Circuit alone equalled all the charges throughout the whole country two years ago. Yet this statement, strong and striking as it was, conveyed only a partial exhibition of the facts of the case, and did not bring under review the utter demoralization and disorganization of society which prevailed. The Attorney-general said, that he did not find, in 150 cases, which he had gone through, a single one connected with tithes, nor any instance of the person or property of a gentleman being the object of aggression; but the weak, the destitute, the poor—labourers, widows, humble families in a word, the most defenceless and unprotected classes, were the victims. There were parties who were exposed to acts of violence and outrage, which made the blood run cold when they were recounted. If this was the liberty for which gentlemen opposite contended—the liberty which the Government was charged with infringing—the liberty not of doing what was at least harmless to others, but of injuring and wronging those who were most defenceless and unprotected—the liberty of assassination, of murder, of midnight burglary and outrage, of determined conspiracy against the laws of the land and the well-being of society—if, of infringement upon this species of liberty Ministers were accused, he admitted, that they were indeed most guilty; but, if to protect and ensure the liberty of the well-disposed and the weak—if to maintain the public peace—if to 1259 vindicate the authority of the law—if to guard the poor man's hearth from outrage be the duty of a Government, call this a coercive, despotic, unconstitutional, and arbitrary Bill if you will—designate it by what term of reproach you please; but he contended, nevertheless, that it was a Bill which, far from injuring or destroying, went directly to preserve and perpetuate liberty in its truest and most genuine character. Talk of the Insurrection Act! Why, the Insurrection Act was now in force in Ireland, in so far as prohibiting the well-disposed from leaving their houses at night; and how were they prevented from doing so? Through fear of midnight marauders and murderers. The Insurrection Act was in force, but its powers were wielded, not against the evil-doer, but against the well-doer; and by whom? By an irresponsible authority—not by the Government, but by the Whitefeet; and a double aggravation of the grievance was, that not only could no man leave his house by night without risk of exposing his property and family to rapine and outrage, but no man could rest in his bed without being disturbed by the apprehension, and exposed to the danger of those disturbers of the county paying him a domiciliary visit for the purpose of putting their Insurrection Act in force. His noble friend had stated details of outrages sufficient to justify Ministers in the course they had adopted; but he had stated them in the plainest and simplest manner; and, if he (Mr. Stanley) found any thing to complain of in the speech of his noble friend, it was that he had rather understated the case, and had not dwelt on all the horrible details of those atrocious offences with sufficient fulness and force. His noble friend had mentioned the murder of Mr. Houston, which was attempted to be—could he say palliated?—by an hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who stated the murder not to be an act of a deliberate nature, but merely that of a drunken labourer, and arising out of an accidental quarrel of a moment. Let the House look at the account of the murder as given by a person on the spot. The official report, dated Rathnagan, October 25th, 1832, was this—At nine o'clock this morning, an express arrived to inform me that the rev. George Houston, rector of Feighcullen, had been shot, about one hour before, on the road, near his own glebe-house. I hastened to the spot, and 1260 found the poor old man dead. I sent off expresses for Major Tandy and Captain Hunter. The latter has arrived, and we hourly expect the former, when an inquest will be held. We have a man in custody, who I have every leason to think was the assassin, and against whom I hope to be able to bring proof to convict. Mr. Houston was a most inoffensive, quiet man, and guilty of no crime, but that of collecting his tithes, which were his only support; he was nearly eighty years of age. It was signed by E. S. Townshend.This atrocious and brutal murder which had been committed in mid-day was no act of drunken irritation or violence. He had here the letter of a gentleman, present at the time, and who had been obliged to leave the country through fear of sharing in the same fate. He stated that a notice had been sent months before to Mr. Houston, beginning "Rev. Sir," and telling him that if he did not discharge his servant-boy, he might mark the consequence; the notice-writer disclaimed any wish to harm him or his; yet, in the next sentence informed him, that if he did not do as he was desired, death should be his doom. There were some circumstances of peculiar atrocity in the murder of this inoffensive and aged man. After he had been murdered, no one could be prevailed on to assist in carrying the corpse into the house; and when Mrs. Houston, rendered frantic by the scene, went on her knees, entreating the people present to assist the narrator of the circumstances and the maids in bringing the body in, they met the request not only with a refusal, but with jeers and mockery. During the night there were illuminations to celebrate an event at which the people could not conceal their brutal and savage joy; and, to add insult to injury, they kept up a series of runaway knocks at the door. This addition of savage insult to atrocious injury—this violation of the house of death—this brutal attack on the feelings of a widow, made so by a recent act of atrocious and brutal assassination—talk to me of this being a drunken outrage—this a crime to palliate or pass over lightly—this an offence for an hon. and learned Gentleman to—he would not say vindicate, for this combination of atrocity could not be vindicated, but it was to be palliated, slightly passed over, under the poor pretence of intoxication. Why here was another case which his noble friend had briefly read to the House, and which had occurred in the county of Wexford. Before he proceeded 1261 further with the narrative, he paused to do justice to the county of Wexford, and to his hon. friend on the third bench above him, and the Gentlemen who acted with him, two of whom were Members of the House. The firmness of their resistance at the first outbreak of disorder in Wexford had mainly contributed to preserve the county in tranquillity, and protect the interests of real liberty, by affording security to the community, and warding off the necessity for the operation of this act. He returned to the letter. It was dated Taghmon, November 23rd, 1832, and said:—I beg to inform you, that about eleven o'clock on last night, an armed party, of about twenty five men, set fire to, and attacked the house of Edward Maddocks, of Townferney, in the barony of Bauley, where sub-constables, Fife and Wright, were stationed to protect a thatched house, by a Magistrate's order. To save themselves from being burned to death they went out of the house, when the ruffians fired at, and murdered the following persons—namely, sub-constable Wright, who died almost instantly; Edward Maddocks, his daughter, and wife, who lived about two hours; one of his sons, who received two balls in the chest, is still alive, but no hopes are entertained of his recovery. A man, named John Redmond, who was dispossessed about three years ago of Maddocks' land, is charged, on the dying declaration of Mrs. Maddocks, as being one of the party. This letter was signed by the chief constable, W.F. Coghlan.Here was a case in which an armed band of assassins surrounded a house, set it on fire; and when the miserable wretches within the dwelling attempted to escape from the flames, brutally and deliberately murdered them. Was he to go item by item through this long catalogue of crimes, or need he do more than say, that of all the murders recounted this night up to the present hour, not one had been punished—a fact which carried with it a brand of disgrace to a state of society claiming to be one of civilization. The hon. member for Kilkenny had said, that there were now few committals compared with former years. Had the hon. Member told him that there was also comparatively little crime at present, it would have been a subject for congratulation; but when, with increased outrages, the committals were diminished, it was a proof that the law as it stood was not sufficient to check these wrongs. He was told that, at the late sessions for Kilkenny, there was not a single case. Did this prove the freedom of 1262 the county from outrage? No: but it proved the feeling of intimidation, the want of confidence in the administration of the law, and in the execution of justice, which rendered it necessary for the injured to suffer in silence, lest greater sufferings or even death should be their doom. He would not go further through the details of particular offences of the disgusting catalogue, but with reference to the gross amount of crime, and its increase in the province of Leinster within the last four years, he should say a few words. The increase of which he spoke did not consist in robberies, which might arise from distress, but in burglarious attacks on houses, and robberies of one peculiar description—he meant robberies of arms—arms, which were at once the object of those nightly plunderings, and the means of fresh depredation and outrage. The number of burglaries and attacks on houses in the last three months of the years 1829, 1830,1831, and 1832, were as follow:—In 1829, thirty-nine; in 1830, ninety-four; in 1831, 251; and in 1832, 530. The number of crimes of assault in the same periods respectively were, in 1829, forty-five; in 1830, fifty-four; in 1831, eighty-nine; and in the last three months of 1832, 235. Embracing the totals of crimes of every description committed in Leinster during the same periods, the result was—in 1829, 300; in 1830, 499; 1831,814; in 1832, 1,513. Such was the general state of crime during the last four years in the three last months of each year. Was it on the decline at present? He regretted to say, that such was by no means the case; on the contrary, the month of January, as compared with the preceding month of December, showed a frightful increase of offence. But first he must observe, that in the three last months of 1832, crime was fivefold the amount of the like period in 1829. Of the three last months of 1832, December was the heaviest in point of offences, the number being 597; but in the month of January, just elapsed, the crimes amounted to 1,094, from which it appeared that, in the single month of January alone, the offences were more than three times as numerous as were the crimes committed in a space of three months three years ago; or nine times as many as were committed in one month at that period. It might be thought, perhaps, that in this aggregate of numbers, there were many crimes of a light and 1833, 1263 trivial description, and that many trifling cases were brought before the police, which were not worthy of coming under the consideration of the House. He could, however, produce a mass of details, were he not afraid of wearying the House, which would remove that impression; but it would be sufficient to take at random one of the monthly reports of the state of crime in any of the counties he had mentioned. He would take the report for January last, of the state of crime in the county of Kildare, which he did not select as one of peculiar atrocity; on the contrary, it did not stand in the first or second rank of crime; but he took it, because it happened to be more conveniently drawn up, and because it would enable him to show hon. Members that he was dealing fairly when he spoke of the multitude of offences which had been increasing. The list stood thus, on the 2nd January:—
EXTRACTS from Chief Constables' Reports.
January 2.—At night, two cows, the property of James Barry, were maliciously houghed on the lands of Carrigan, Barony of Kilrea, in such a manner as to cause their death, and a third slightly injured,
3.—At night, a horse, the property of Capt, Radcliffe, was stolen from the lands of Curry-hill, Barony of Clane.
4.—At night, an armed party entered the house of Mr. Smith, at Rosmore Lodge, on the Curragh, and robbed him of a fowling-piece. On leaving the place they fired a shot; they then proceeded to Mr. Martin's, of Rathbride, and robbed him of two guns; thence to Mr. Davis's, of the same neighbourhood, and deprived him of his arms.
5.—At night, a rick of hay, the property of Mr. Holt, of Sallins, was maliciously set fire to; but being timely discovered, the fire was extinguished before any serious damage was done.
6.—At night, two men, named Ryan, were most violently assaulted and dreadfully beaten by an armed party, on the high road at Knock-bounce, beyond the town of Killcullen.
9.—At night, an armed party entered the house of a farmer, named Brohill, on the lands of Youghall, near Kildare, and shot him dead, after which they beat his brother severely; every exertion has been made to discover the assassins as yet without effect.
He must here do justice to the people of Kildare. The person shot (in this last instance) was a tenant of the Duke of Leinster, whose name stood at the head of the subscriptions, which were immediately set on foot, to offer a reward for the apprehension of the offenders, and that list, he was happy to say, was swelled by the contributions
of the farmers, who offered their half-crowns, and shillings, and sixpences. But while he thus did only justice to the people of Kildare, he was obliged to add, that hitherto the murderers had not been detected.
On the same night that this murder took place, an armed party went to the houses of two farmers, named Holligan, also to that of a widow Curry, on the land of Mr. Rice, and searched for arms, without effect.
Same night, an armed party robbed the steward of John Cassedy, esq., who resides at Ellistown, near Rathangard, of a gun.
12.—About seven o'clock in the evening, the driver of one of the steam navigation boats, on arriving near Sallins, from Dublin, was fired at by a party, fortunately without effect, the driver having run off, these fellows cut the horse and also the harness.
13.—About nine o'clock at night, the houses of one Bernes, and a widow Dobbyn, near Sallins, were entered by an armed party, who robbed the former of a gun.
14.—At night, the house of Christo. Kennedy, of Miltown, was entered by two men, who attempted to strangle him, by putting a rope round his neck; however, on Kennedy's making a spirited resistance, the assailants ran off, leaving the rope behind them.
At night, an armed party visited the house of one Brahin, at the Cochbridge, Barony of Clane; but not succeeding, they swore him as to whether he had arms or not.
15.—At night, the dwelling-house of W. Batt, Esq., a retired navy officer, at Bray, Barony of Kelkea, was entered by a numerous party, who robbed him of a case of pistols, a detonating fowling-piece, and some ball cartridges. They, however, returned the fowling-piece in the course of an hour. This gang fired several shot before they left the place.
Same night, the dwelling-house of Mr. Holt, of Carberry, was attacked by an armed party, who ordered him to discharge a servant man next day, which he did. They then demanded that a friend of Mr. Holt's, who they said, was in the house, should be surrendered up to them to be shot; for having, as they said, voted against Mr. O'Connell at the last Dublin election.
§ A heavy penalty to pay, observed the right hon. Gentleman, for the exercise of the elective franchise.
He then continued reading—
On the 16th atone o'clock, a lumber-boat, the property of Messrs. Daly and Connory, of Dublin was maliciously sunk in the Grand Canal, near Monastereven, by nine men, who beat the master severely. Part of the cargo was injured.
18.—At night, an armed party went to the house of Matthew Donaghan, near the Bullring, Barony of Connel, and demanded arms;
not succeeding, they put Donaghan on his knees, and threatened to shoot him; they then proceeded to the house of Patrick Flood, of the same place, and warned him against dispossessing any of his tenants; thence to a respectable farmer, named Laurence Dowling, and beat him severely, without assigning any cause.
19.—Between the hours of seven and eight o'clock, as Miss Chamberlain was on her way to Maynooth, she was stopped by five men, within a mile of the town, who dragged her off the jaunting-car, and searched her pockets for money.
20.—Two young lads went to the house of Mr. Exshaw, at Hybla, near Monastereven, (who was sick at the time), and on demanding his arms, they were handed a gun, a blunderbuss, and a pistol, by his steward.
Same day, the house of James. Jexton, gamekeeper to the Marquess of Drogheda, was entered by an armed party, who beat him and his father severely, and robbed him of a gun. This is the third outrage of the kind committed on Jexton.
At night, a lumber-boat belonging to Messrs. Daley and Carney was maliciously sunk in the Grand Canal, near Sallen's, by some person or persons, who bored holes in the keel and sides.
21.—The party at Lyons apprehended Peter M'Grath, a boatman, for having violently assaulted Andrew Casey; and, on being brought before Lord Cloncurry, he was committed to gaol.
At night, two sheep, the property of Mr. Birchall, were killed on the lands of Grangeby, Barony of South Naas, and the carcases carried away.
Same night, the house of John M'Dermott, of Ardhill, Barony of Carberry, was attacked by an armed party, who broke the door and windows. On entering they searched M'Dermott, and finding a poor blind woman concealed under a bed, they beat her in such a manner that her life was despaired of.
22.—At night, a party of Whitefeet entered the house of Mr. Byrne, of Kilrash Barony, of East Ophaly, and robbed him of a gun; they then proceeded to the house of one Mahon, of the same place; but on his giving the alarm to his workmen, they ran away.
24.—At night, an armed party broke into the house of Andrew Toole, of Ballynagis, and barony of East Narraugh, beat him severely, and ordered him to give up fifteen acres of land to the former occupier, and smashed his windows as they went away. They then proceeded to the house of Michael Hefferman, of Rathsella, and beat him and one of his sons severely; searched for arms, without success.
25.—In the evening, a well-armed party went to the house of a farmer, named Maher, at Lucken, barony of East Ophaly, and ordered him to give up some land, on pain of death; thence to the houses of two brothers, named Cullin, of same place, and ordered them to give up land also.
At night, a house, belonging to Dr. Carter, of Castledermot, was maliciously burnt near the town.
Same night, an armed party went to the house of Edward Doran, of Hartland, and posted a notice on his gate, ordering him to take his work from a smith, named Clare.
27.—An armed party went to the house of a respectable farmer, named Kelly, of Dunaney, near Kildangan, and demanded his arms, which, being refused, one of the gang snapped a pistol at Mr. Kelly, who returned the fire, and wounded one of the fellows in the face, upon which they went away.
At night, an armed party went to the house of a poor man, named Kagan, at Cherryfield, and having placed him on his knees, swore him not to harbour strangers.
29.—At night, the house of Daniel Donelly, at Miltown, was attacked by an armed party, who demanded entrance; but Donelly having placed himself at the door, with a pitchfork in his hand, they went away.
These details related to a county, continued the right hon. Gentleman, in which the outrages were comparatively light; but he read them in order to show the character of the outrages, from whence the House might see that they were not of the nature of those which are occasioned by distress; they were not acts of robbery, but acts of violence and intimidation, and offences of an insurrectionary character, committed by night, and' for the purpose of showing that prohibiting the being out at night, which was an object of this Bill, was one of the most effectual guards against such conduct. Great stress had been laid upon the difficulty of proving cases of violence offered to jurors. He admitted that, under the circumstances, the cases were very few; at the same time, if all would speak out, it would be found that there was the greatest possible reluctance in every part of Ireland to appear as jurors, or to take any part in a criminal trial. In regard to jurors, he admitted there were few instances of violence and intimidation; but, in regard to witnesses and prosecutors, he had papers now before him, the contents of which would take up too much time to lay before the House, but which showed such a mass of intimidation, that no man, he thought, could hesitate to give his assent to almost any measure that would put a stop to it. When an hon. Gentleman said, that there was no act of violence against Jurors, except in the county of Kilkenny, he could not admit that. Here was a letter from a gentleman, who stated that even the respectable classes were
unwilling to attend as jurors. He had letters from persons who were on the trial at Carrickshaugh, which showed the consequence of acting against the popular feeling. One writer said, that an impression had gone abroad that he had wished for a conviction, and that in consequence his life was not safe, and he had been obliged to leave the country, only because he would not consent to abandon his duty as a juror, in a prosecution connected with the tithes. He had with him similar statements from all quarters, from persons placed in the same unfortunate circumstances. One and all had been compelled either to retire from their homes, or to submit to protection and surveillance, for no other crime than having done their duty as jurors. On the other hand, a gentleman on the Jury had been supposed to have been desirous of giving a verdict the other way; a large body of persons assembled to cut his corn for him, and when a relation of this gentleman had a civil process, in the county of Waterford, and witnesses were about to attend the trial, threatening notices were issued that no one should dare to give evidence against any individual related to the patriotic gentleman who had defended the brave boys of Carrickshaugh. Would any one say that this was not intimidation? Would not a timid man, under such circumstances, consult his own ease by declining to act as a juror, rather than incur the danger of appearing in the box? There was the case of a person of the name of Allen, who was summoned as juror, and who made an affidavit, that if he served on a certain trial, and convicted the person, he should do it at the hazard of his life. This affidavit was admitted by the Court, and the individual was excused from appearing. And what had happened to him since—he was pretty sure it was the same person—he was a miller? He (Mr. Stanley) held a report in his hand, to which he would beg to call the attention of the House; it was an extract from a letter from the county of Kilkenny, dated 7th September, 1832:—
The house of an opulent miller, of the name of Allen, was attacked, about two o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, by an armed party, who attempted to force an entrance, but who, finding the doors strongly barred, and having been shot at by Mr. Allen, from an upper window, retreated, after discharging their arms at the windows of the rooms occupied by his family, calling out at the same time;
"Here's Carrickshock for you." Nine balls entered the windows, and three were found lodged in the bedsteads occupied by Mr. Allen's children; the rise of ground at the back of the house, having placed the assailants nearly on a level with the windows; a notice was left with a person in a neighbouring cottage, who was sworn to deliver it to Mr. Allen, relating to some land, and to his having deserted the heroes of Carrickshock at their trial; Mr. Allen having made an affidavit to be exempted from the Jury, on the ground of intimidation.
He would avail himself of this opportunity to state, that numerous notices were posted in the neighbouring villages, written by schoolmasters and others, being persons of education, against the payment of tithes. ("Hear, hear,"from Mr. O'Connell). Did the hon. and learned Gentleman gratify his hatred to the Established Church by availing himself of this notice, in such a catalogue of crime, because the word tithes appeared, in order to raise a paltry cheer, as if tithes only were concerned? He would add, to give the House a complete and accurate notion on this subject, that, at Kilkenny, persons summoned as jurors, were called three times, and on pain of fines from 10l. to 50l., and it was not till the third call, when the fine of 50/. would have been imposed, that a Jury could be impanelled. A gentleman wrote to the Government, in January, 1833, that he could not attend to the next assizes; that he cared not what fine was imposed; he knew what the consequence would be if he did. It was the boast of the prisoners that the Juries dared not find them guilty. That was the state of things in Kilkenny, and in many parts of the province of Leinster, and yet it was said, there was no violence or obstruction of the ordinary course of the law! From Queen's County, he held in his hand a return, with the particulars of which he would not trouble the House, but which contained the names and the circumstances of those persons who, in consequence of their attendance, either as prosecutors, witnesses, or jurors, had been subjected to such a degree of violence or intimidation, as to be com pelled either to leave their houses, and some to leave the country entirely—or, at all events, to place themselves under the protection of the police. From this list, it appeared, that no less than six-and-twenty individuals, most of them with families, had been compelled to leave the country, in consequence of having prosecuted
White boy offenders within the period of the return, which was limited to a single year; and that two-and-twenty persons, in addition, had afforded to them, at the present moment, constabulary safe-guards for their protection from nightly outrage. That the House might not suppose that these precautions were unnecessary, he would take the liberty of reading a letter, dated Athy, February, 1833. The writer said—
I have seen very many of the grand and petty jurors, who attended at the Special Commissions, and at the last assizes, obliged to carry fire-arms for their personal protection, while attending on the courts.
The writer then enumerated a number of cases of intimidation and violence offered to jurors and prosecutors; and concluded by saying, that in many instances he was, as a Magistrate, refused by respectable proprietors of coaches, caravans, &c., conveyances for the witnesses; they alleging, that if they did so, their carriages would be broken by the mob; and he added—
I was actually compelled to send carriages all the way from Dublin to Maryborough, to bring the witnesses up from that town.
In the case of the murder of a person named Joyce, already adverted to by his noble friend, so very few persons attended to make a Coroner's Jury, that it was necessary to get policemen to make up the number required, and even then it was necessary to call for the military to protect the proceedings. The Magistrate from whom he received the information added, that a state of terror still existed, so that the gentry were even afraid to give information of the Whitefeet notices they received. He was borne out in his opinion by the statement of respectable Magistrates, that such was the state of terror which existed in Ireland, that the gentry were afraid of the notices served on them, dreading attacks on their houses when these notices were served; and, in some cases, he understood, arms were actually kept in their houses in order to be delivered to the Whitefeet, to gain their good will. The right hon. Gentleman then read a number of other cases of intimidation. A farmer of Ardagh, who had given evidence against two persons for assembling to get arms, who were transported for seven years, was threatened, and obliged to quit his farm. In the county of Louth, there were two cases, one of a witness, the
other of a prosecutor in tithe-cases, whose houses were attacked. In Tipperary county, a notice had been stuck up, ordering no person to deal with a witness of the name of Little. The writer of a letter, which the right hon. Gentleman read, stated that, in consequence of hearing that there was a man at Kilkenny capable of giving testimony, he summoned him; the man refused to come, and he committed him to Carlow gaol. This (the right hon. Gentleman remarked) was rather against English law, but there was a special law which warranted it in Ireland. The man said, he would tell the truth if he could see his priest. The writer sent to the reverend gentleman, and the man then consented to appear at the trial. In the case of the murder of Mr. Houston, a report had been made to him, which stated that there was a Coroner and no Jury, for all the farmers, except two or three, left their houses, in order to avoid serving on the Jury. In the Queen's County, a person had been threatened for registering his freehold. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a variety of other cases, and observed, he would not delay the House further in reading instances of intimidation; he thought he had substantiated a case, to show that not only was there a system of violence and outrage, but that it was an organized system of violence and outrage, acting on a combined and systematic plan, against which the law, as it now existed, afforded no adequate protection, and that some new measure was necessary to protect life and property. The Committee of last year, moved for by Sir Henry Parnell although they recorded their opinion that the law, when rigorously administered, was adequate to put down outrages, expressed in the strongest manner its conviction of the necessity of strengthening the existing law. 'In adverting,' they observed, 'to the late mischievous associations in the Queen's County, under the name of Whitefeet, and the frequent recurrence of similar associations in other parts of Ireland, the Committee, although impressed with the strongest disinclination to recommend any new law, which should in any degree be a departure from the established constitutional rule of law, when they see by experience so much crime has been committed, and so much injury sustained from time to time from these associations, are of opinion a law might be passed which, without being in
any degree a departure from the principles of the Constitution' ["Hear, hear," from the Opposition Benches]—That cheer came too soon 'would enable the Executive Government to put into force the administration of justice more speedily, and at less expense, than can be done at present. Though the ordinary and regular laws have been found sufficient to put down the various Whiteboy associations, which have, from time to time, existed, it is equally true that, in every instance, every association has made itself complete master of the county where it has been formed, and committed all kinds of crimes and enormities with impunity for a considerable period before the enforcement of the powers of the law has produced a remedy. hey considered the delay attending a Special Commission an evil, and they recommended a more summary remedy. What was the cure they recommended? Before he adverted to it, he would read an extract of Mr. Barrington's evidence:—
Can you state what means are taken by these gangs to propagate these systems, as you have given the committee to understand that there is a willingness on the part of the peasantry to commit crime?—I do not wish the committee to understand any such thing: I believe the greater number join through terror and necessity, from the kind of houses they inhabit, and the retired situation in which they are placed. The parties to the murder of Mr. Blood went to the houses of many poor farmmers to compel them to go with them. Some of these farmers told me, that they were delighted to hear of their execution; they said so secretly, knowing I would not disclose it: they frequently made them join when they went out at night. Captain Rock (the man Dillane, whom I have alluded to) told me that he had been obliged to threaten to fire at his own men to make them attack a house.
What are the means by which they exercise these systems of intimidation over the lower orders?—By going to their houses at night, and swearing them to join, and be ready whenever they may: be called on to take arms or to attack houses. If they refuse, or their wives and families should in any way prevent them, they were formerly carded, but latterly wounded or flogged, or some other punishment inflicted on them.
Is punishment nearly certain to follow the non-execution of what is ordered to be done—Most certainly; and the consequence is, the whole peasantry of a county, not having any means of resistance, are obliged to join. When this system commences, the whole county is soon in a flame, if it is not discovered and instantly checked.
A magistracy, however vigilant, could scarcely succeed in putting down outrages conducted upon such a system as this, by the ordinary exercise of the law. He would next read an extract from the evidence of the Rev. Mr. O'Connor, a Roman Catholic Clergyman, a gentleman who had had ample opportunities of making himself acquainted with the peasantry, and who was, perhaps, as well informed concerning their dispositions and habits as any man in the country.
Do they endeavour, by force and by intimidation, to obtain what they wish to have done?—They generally first serve a notice, and if that is not obeyed violence follows: this notice is accompanied generally with a picture of a coffin or some emblem of death, and they write, that if they do not do what they require within a certain time, to prepare their coffin.
Has this been done indiscriminately on Catholic farmers as well as on Protestants?—I believe, if there is any preference given, the Catholics get more notices; the Whitefeet are most liberal people, for they make no distinction between Catholic and Protestant.
Are not the punishments they inflict, in case of disobedience to their orders, of the greatest atrocity—assassination, &c.?—Yes; generally beating, which sometimes ends in death.
How does it happen that these violences make so much progress? Is it because the laws are not sufficient to put them down, that they are not checked?—I cannot account for it otherwise than by saying, the people are afraid to give information; they bear with the injury for fear they should be murdered if they give information.
The dread of punishment for giving information prevails to such an extent as to render the laws inoperative?—Not entirely inoperative, because they have been executed in many instances.
But inoperative in the first instance, until the system gained a great height, and has established itself generally?—Yes; it has established its empire over the whole county.
And what is the remedy proposed by the Members of the Committee, who did not wish to go beyond the Constitution? Why, they recommended the principal enactments contained in this Bill, that persons should not be out at night, and that domiciliary visits should be authorized to ascertain if any were out. The Report embodied the evidence of several persons, showing clearly and distinctly that it was the anxious wish of many defenceless persons to have such a protecting law as that now proposed. Before he proceeded, he should trouble the House with two or three communications he had received during the last three or four days from Ireland. The
right hon. Gentleman then read a petition of certain individuals who stated that they had taken possession of a farm, that they were awoke in two or three nights after they came, and forced out of their farm, escorted by armed men, and threatened with death if they returned. The widow of Mr. Marun, who had been murdered, was the object of another attack. Mrs. Marun had acted with singular humanity towards her tenantry since the death of her husband, yet she was obliged to have recourse to the police to protect herself and her property. Another case occurred only two or three days ago, a murder in the county of Monaghan, but not one of peculiar atrocity. Another case occurred in Kilkenny, on the 22nd of February, and the circumstances showed strongly the lawless state of the county. The right hon. Gentleman read a report which stated that an action had taken place between Major Brown and a party of Whitefeet, who occupied a hill, and before they could be dislodged, they wounded a sub-constable mortally and another slightly. Another case was in the county of Cavan, in which a party of revenue police had been attacked, and twelve or fourteen shots were fired at them. Another case was communicated by the managers of the United Steam Company on the Royal Canal. The report of the directors, in the enumeration of other outrages committed on their property, proceeded to state, that there were six large boats with valuable cargoes of grain, flour, &c., on board, which had been on their way in the canal to Dublin, for the purpose of the said cargoes being sent over to Liverpool—that they were stopped in their passage in the Shannon—that, in the open day, a large body of people seized them—that the men employed in navigating them were compelled to desist from doing so at the peril of their lives, and were obliged to fly—that a large quantity of property which the directors estimated at upwards of 10,000l. in amount, and which was of a peculiarly perishable nature, was thus left to destruction—that the company, which by the trade it had established, was really conferring the most valuable advantages upon the country, was thus interrupted in its operations—that it was impossible to induce men, even by the offer of double wages, to act in opposition to the commands of those combinators—that the company employed
at least 600 individuals, thus affording subsistence to a large number of industrious families—that the trade which the company established by means of this inland navigation was productive of great good to Ireland, but that its exertions were now effectually paralyzed and altogether defeated by those illegal combinators—that they could not employ men in opposition to their commands, and that, in fact, they could not dismiss an individual from their employment, even for the grossest misconduct, if those illegal combinators did not approve of their doing so; in short, they stated that their lives and properties would be endangered by any such free exercise of their lawful authority. The gentlemen to whom this report was addressed constituted a company, consisting of 600 of the most respectable and influential merchants and traders in the city of Dublin; and they stated, that it was absolutely impossible for them to continue those efforts, to carry on that navigation, from which Ireland had already derived such great advantage, and that they must give up their trade, unless something was done to restore peace and tranquillity in the country. He had referred to those facts—facts that had occurred within the last few weeks, he might almost say the last few days, in Ireland—to show that crime was not, as it might be supposed, or, as it might be asserted, diminishing, or at all decreasing there. He would now proceed to another and a most important question, directly arising out of the statement which he had felt it his duty to make to the House. After making that statement, which he was ready to admit was a tedious one; but which it was necessary to lay before the House in justification of the line of conduct adopted in this instance by his Majesty's Government—having done that, he would now proceed to address himself to the question as to the necessity of introducing some strong powers, beyond those given by the present law of the land, for the purpose of establishing the tranquillity of Ireland; and without entering into the particular details of the measure proposed—which his Majesty's Ministers were not then called upon to do, and which they would not be able to do at such a stage of the Bill, without entering into the minutiae of a bill thus rather unusually subjected to a discussion upon its first reading, of which discussion, however, he did not,
looking at the character and the importance of the measure, complain—without doing that, he should proceed to discuss the expediency and necessity of adopting such a measure at the present moment. The Select Committee of last year, in their Report upon the state of Ireland, recommended, undoubtedly, that the Insurrection Act should be so far put into force as to prohibit persons from being out at night, and to render it an offence to be so out; and they also recommended the establishment, to the fullest extent, of that system of domiciliary visits which it was now proposed to establish: they recommended the establishment of it, undoubtedly, subject to certain checks, and he (Mr. Stanley) was not the person to object to such checks; but he would maintain, that the establishment of such a system was absolutely necessary to enforce the practice of keeping persons at home in their houses at night, in the disturbed districts. But what was the tribunal before which the Committee of last year proposed that those offences should be tried? Before a tribunal consisting of the Magistrates of the neighbourhood, sitting at Quarter Sessions, and that Court, it suggested, should be empowered to sit from time to time, by adjournment, until tranquillity had been restored. Now, if he (Mr. Stanley) knew any one tribunal more than another against which charges had been made, it was such a tribunal as the Committee recommended. If he knew any one thing more than another that was objected to and opposed at former periods, it was the proposition to confide the administration of such a law to the local Magistracy; and this he well knew, that it had been over and over again asserted that it would be a most objectionable thing—he did not say that the objection was well founded; he merely stated its having been made:—to confide the execution of such a law to the hands of the local resident Magistracy. They had been accused—he was far from saying that they had been rightly accused—but they had been accused, of perverting the objects of such a law to their own purposes—to their own private ends; and, in fact, as he had already said, there was no tribunal against which so many charges had been made. He repeated, that he did not mean to say that those charges were well founded, but that did not signify; whether they were well-founded or not, it
would be still no less an evil that such an impression should generally prevail, and that after the necessity for the law in question had been removed, and that its execution had ceased, such feelings should be engendered amongst the peasantry towards the resident Magistracy, and that they should look upon them as persons who had perverted the law, which was absolutely and indispensably required for the re-establishment of the public peace, to their own private ends, for the purpose of oppressing and tyrannizing over them. He, therefore, was for setting aside the recommendation of the Committee of last year, as going to establish a tribunal that was much more objectionable upon many grounds, and that would be much more detrimental in its ultimate effects, than the establishment of a military tribunal. It was not for him to repel the charges made by the hon. member for the city of London against military tribunals—it was unnecessary for him to do so, for they had no solid foundation, and they were contradicted by the experience of all those who had known most of such tribunals. The hon. Gentleman said, that such tribunals would be partial, that the officers composing them would be swayed by feelings opposed to those of the people of the country; and he added, that he should be much more satisfied, if such powers beyond the ordinary law were to be given, that they should be confided to a tribunal possessed of a civil jurisdiction. Now, the hon. Gentleman was quite mistaken if he supposed that the military were unpopular in Ireland. So far from that being the case, nothing was more common than for hon. Gentlemen from that country, when they wished to cry down the police, or when they had some such purpose to serve, to say that the soldiery were so popular that they would be quite satisfied, and the people would be satisfied, to see the preservation of the peace intrusted to the hands of the military. It was notorious that the peasantry in Ireland regarded the soldiers as friends; that they looked to the officers for justice, and, in corroboration of that fact, he might state, that when military officers were appointed to the situation of Justices of the Peace in a district, they generally became the favourite Magistrates with the people. It was not necessary for him to repel the observations of the hon. member for the city of London, that the members of such
a tribunal would be opposed by feeling to the liberty of the subject, and that they would be inclined to find as many convictions as the slightest colour of evidence would enable them to do. The hon. Member had also objected to the tribunal in question as a most unconstitutional one. Well, admitting it to be so, was not the measure which they proposed, and under which it would be empowered to act, an unconstitutional one? Had they ever described it as anything else—had they put it forward as a constitutional measure? On the contrary, had they not stated, that they brought it forward solely on the ground of the stern and absolute necessity of the case—a necessity that left them no alternative but to resort to the employment of powers beyond the law, and to seek for the means of affording protection to the subject out of the confines of the Constitution? Such were the grounds on which this measure was brought forward by his Majesty's Ministers, and he would say, that this Bill came particularly recommended to his mind, inasmuch as it was so pointedly and so openly such a marked deviation from the ordinary course of the law, that it would afford hereafter no temptation or justification in the way of a precedent to be resorted to upon another occasion. He would say nothing derogatory of the Bar of Ireland, but this he would say, that it would be with the greatest jealousy, alarm, and repugnance, he should contemplate the employment of: 'the Judges of the land—of men whose;' characters ought to be beyond a stain, or: even the imputation of a stain—of men; who should strictly confine themselves to the letter as well as the spirit of the law—it would be with the feelings he had described, that he should contemplate the employment of such men in administering the powers proposed to be given by this Bill. Admitting that he should wish to see criminal offences tried before a civil Judge, yet he saw infinite danger in constituting the tribunal, proposed to be established under this Bill, of Barristers. However well disposed they would be to do their duty, they would be open to the suspicion of seeking to please the Government in their decisions, and they would be the more especially exposed to the popular suspicion, owing to the fact that a great many of the members of the Irish Bar entertained a political bias (and he did not blame them for doing so) opposed to
that of the people at large. He did not mean to say, that they would be at all swayed in the performance of their duty by such a bias; he was sure that such would not be the case; but then their verdicts and their decisions, if they did not please the popular party, would be exposed to such an imputation from the popular side. Let the House only imagine a Barrister, with the political feelings that he had mentioned sent down to administer this Act, and to try offences in one of the disturbed districts. He would be at once suspected of going against the popular party, and, however pure and just his decisions might be, they would lose that weight and that influence which it was most important that they should possess, and the imputation of political partiality would be attached to everything that he did. He would say, that if they were to depart from the ordinary law of the land, that departure should be so broad, should be so marked, that there would be no possibility of mistaking it. They should not, as it were, slide out of the Constitution, and, by an easy transition, render their departure from it almost imperceptible, so that it would be made available as a precedent upon some future occasion; no; coming forward as they did with this measure, and grounding it upon the absolute, indispensable necessity of the case—a necessity that called upon them to resort to powers beyond those afforded by the Constitution, the more such a measure was at variance with the ordinary course of the law, the more, in his judgment, it would come recommended as the one which that House should adopt. The hon. member for the city of London had stated, that this measure was divisible into two separate and distinct parts, and that, however willing he might be to support that part of it which would go to give stronger powers to the Government for the purpose of putting down predial agitation, nothing would induce him to support that part of it which was calculated to control the political liberty of the subject. Now, with every desire to promote, rather than control, the liberty of the subject, he would ask whether Ireland was in such a state at present that the liberty of the subject—that the power to give free expression to political opinions and political sentiments, at all existed there? If it were a fact, as it undoubtedly was, that political liberty did not exist in
Ireland—that the free expression of public opinion did not exist there—that men could not give utterance to their opinions in that country without exposing their lives and properties to peril—if that were the case (and could it be denied that it was?) this measure, instead of controlling political liberty, went to extinguish political domination. Was it possible that the free expression and free discussion of opinion could exist in Ireland under the tyranny of a society, one of the many that had been founded by the hon. and learned Gentleman, which altogether controlled the public voice—which put under its ban any man who dared to differ from its decisions—which, in short, endeavoured "to wield the fierce democracy" of Ireland, and which had so contrived to usurp to itself all the forms of the Government, that it seemed made, not to preserve the liberty, but to rivet for ever the political slavery of that country? The learned Gentleman, the member for the city of Dublin, saw no connexion between what he called by the gentle term of "predial agitation," and that political agitation which he seemed to consider so salutary to the country; and in that opinion it now appeared that he was joined by the hon. member for the city of London. He could most readily state that that hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for the city of Dublin, and those who acted with him in exciting that political agitation, were not to be accused of having directly recommended any acts of outrage any more than they had directly recommended a run upon the Bank for gold; on the contrary, let him do justice to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and let him just read to the House the excellent advice which the hon. and learned Gentleman had, in one of his late letters, given to the people of Ireland. In a letter recently addressed to a paper in Dublin the learned Gentleman says:—"Let me implore of you not to injure commercial credit by calling for a run on the Bank for gold. "Excellent advice this; but why entreat the people not to run on the Bank for gold? Let the House but hear the next sentence of the hon. and learned Gentleman's letter—" That run will take place of itself, to the last bank-note, if the atrocious Algerine Code be enacted. "That was the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He might, by such a run on the Bank for gold,
seek to embarrass the Government, and, no doubt, by injuring the commercial credit of the country, cause great distress; but the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to keep altogether out of sight that the adoption of such a measure would be the ruin of hundreds of his poorer countrymen. But the hon. Gentleman had not recommended a run on the Bank for gold, and he had not recommended the Whitefeet to pursue the courses they had been indulging in; on the contrary, it might be, that he had sent down one of what he called his "pacificators" amongst them to pacify them. He had in his possession an account of a speech lately delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman's "pacificator;" and he would read it to the House, but that he was afraid to trespass upon its time. He had some scruples too, as the gentleman was under prosecution, though the speech had appeared in all the papers [Read read]. He would then read it to the House, as a sample of the kind of "pacification" that this peace-making agent went about to establish. The right hon. Gentleman accordingly read the following extract from one of the late speeches delivered by Mr. Steele:—Honoured as I am by the confidence reposed in me by the father of his country, I stand in a position so high as to enable me to look down on the enemies of Ireland, who injure me, with the contempt they deserve. I obey deliberately the orders of O'Connell, for to his precepts I pay a moral and voluntary allegiance, because he has proved himself well worthy of it. If I got the orders of O'Connell to stand on a mine which I knew was about to spring, I would obey that order without hesitation' [Laughter]. This devoted vassal—this slave, ready to obey the orders of a master, however despotic, went on:—'I told the men of Clare that if such a crisis were to arrive in consequence of any atrocious act of the Government, as that of Cam den and Castlereagh in 1798, as that O'Connell should command us to have recourse to arms, and blood, and con vulsion, instead of our usual constitutional warfare by which we had achieved such resplendent and inevitable triumphs; in that case, I would not order the Clare men to go into Cratloe wood to cut down trees for pike handles, but that I would first send them to cut down the trees in my own domain of Lough O'Connell,
and that I would, of course, myself, not be idle, nor a mere looker-on in the conflict.' Thiswas, the right hon. Gentleman continued, the ready minister that his despotic master had sent to pacify the Whitefeet in the country parts of Ireland. This was the man who advised the people not to commit outrages just now, for if they did, an awkward bill would be passed in Parliament which would put them down. But would the House also listen to the language of this "pacificator?" In speaking of the Government. He said: "Grey was an atrocious tyrant—Brougham was the most tyrannical of the whole set. The people foolishly thought a good deal of the King—he thought no more of William 4th than of a man in a tripe shop." This was the low simile of a gentleman who stood in so elevated a situation as to look on the enemies of Ireland with contempt; but it was not the less mischievous because it was low. Mr. Steele went on: "If the same system was continued to be pursued by the Whigs, then the people might walk into his woods and cut down the trees, and he hoped to make good use of the timber." He then went on to speak of the brave fellows who would not suffer themselves to be shot at. He said: "They are as much against the rascally Whigs as I am, and will assist in putting them down. I asked, if O'Connell thought necessary to order them, would they take Steele for their leader? They all shouted out, 'they would follow me through the gates of hell.' "A similar address was made at other places, and the gentleman was now undergoing the legal consequences of the language he had used. Political agitators hated the White-feet, and wished, they said, to put them down; but was that the impression which the people had?—did the lower classes of the populace so think? Did they not think that, in violation of the law, they were acting under the orders of the hon. and learned Gentleman? or, if not under his orders, at least according to his implied and expressed wish? Trifling things sometimes showed the dispositions and thoughts of the people, and, under this view, he might quote a ballad, which had been sung through the streets of Kilkenny just after the murder at Carrickshock, and when a person was on his trial for that murder. He would read the ballad, not to show the exceeding violence and brutality of it, but to show
that there were political objects combined with predial outrage. It was entitled "The Downfall of the Tithes;" and ran thus,—
You banished sons of this distressed nation,
Lend an ear to my joyful song.
Granua's sons they are liberated,
They broke the chains they bore so long.
The wisp is kindled thro' this injured nation,
Recal her heirs to revenge her wrong;
Not to pay those cursed demons
Tithes, not legal on Slievenaman.
The wind along time has been contrary,
Which caused Erin's sons to be very sad,
But now quite suddenly it has turned fairly:
A breezing gale through the nation ran,
Which filled poor Catholics with admiration
To fly next day to Slievenaman.
May Heaven prosper you, sweet Knocktopher,
No less than Homer could your praises chaunt;
You loyal subjects that fought victorious,
Fire and smoke could not your courage daunt.
They led the rabble (Police) along before them.
Like wolves opposing the shepherd's flock.
Till in death's cold agonies they left them
Groaning in the borheen of Carrickshock!
Who could desire to see better sport;
To see them groping among the rocks;
Their skulls all fractured, and eye-balls broken,
Their fine long noses and ears cut off?
But Sergeant Wiley, that Orange rogue,
He may thank his soles that so nimbly ran;
Yet all that's past is but a token
To what we'll show them on Slievenaman.
We heard the text of the divine says
That when the date of the year is gone,
That one true Catholic without a weapon
Would banish legions from Slievenaman.
He begged the attention of the House to what followed, because the poet had borrowed not only his ideas, but his very words, from the hon. and learned Member:
The day of, ransom, thank God is dated,
These cursed demons must quit the land;
It's now those foreign and proud invaders
Shall feel the weight of each Irish hand.
The foreign and proud invaders! Could any one fail to trace in those words the fiery denunciations of the hon. and learned Gentleman against the foreign Parliament—the Sassenach tyrants—the slavery under a foreign yoke? Who was it that furnished to the ignorant people these topics of declamation, and then condemned the outrages which had been caused by the hatred and discontent which he had himself excited? The Poet added—
No vestry cess nor tithes we'll pay them,
We'll banish preachers from our land.
When persecution is terminated,
And all those traitors are dead and gone,
Poor Irish captives are liberated,
All by the means of our noble Pan.
The tree of liberty we'll plant so stainless,
It shan't fade during the age of man,
To shew that Catholic Emancipation
Was truly gained on sweet Slievenaman.
He read this, not with a wish to connect the hon. and learned Gentleman with any thing so base and atrocious, but to show how, in the minds of the ignorant people, these denunciations were applied to purposes which his conscience would acquit him of ever having intended. No man could hold up to public odium and contempt all the constituted authorities for the administration of the law, and then put his hand on his heart, and say he was not to lay at his door any of the resistance made to those constituted authorities. Without connecting this in any way with predial agitation, he must say, that the existence of societies, such as had now sprung up in Ireland, was inconsistent, not only with freedom, but with the political existence of the country. There could be no law, and no Government, and no security, if all was to rest on the irresponsible will of Associators, calling themselves Volunteers—arming themselves to effect their purpose—carrying all by intimidation, control, and violence, and responsible to no authority, except that law which they habitually taught the people to despise, and habitually encouraged them to resist. He wished to call the attention of the House to what the hon. and learned Gentleman said in a speech he delivered when he first formed his Society of Volunteers:—
The first object is, to put the Volunteers in a state of action—to begin and put them in a state of activity. We are, as we ought to be, unarmed. The only difference between us and the Volunteers of 1792 is, that we are unarmed, and that we wear no uniform; but I trust there is one species of uniform we will wear, and that is native manufacture. The best revolutions have been effected, and effected in decidedly the best manner, by unarmed bodies. It is the triumph of moral over physical force; and where opposite means are had recourse to, it generates a worse despotism than that which it is its object to subvert. But the armed force of 1782 had for its object, merely to make an exhibition of their power, and the revolution they were instrumental in effecting was unstained by one drop of blood. The great revolution in which we had a part was effected by the same moral force of determined men, which rendered it impossible for the Government to resist them. I have often said, and I repeat it with pride and pleasure, that the revolution of 1829 was a scarless, stainless, and bloodless revolution. That was effected by these peaceable means, and with the same means the Volunteers begin their glorious career to effect the regeneration of Ireland, by procuring a domestic legislature, by giving
a solution of the question—" Shall Ireland be a nation or a province?" I say—" Ireland not a province, but a nation." That is our charter. Let that be our first toast upon any of those festive occasions, when we may meet to forward any of the great questions connected with the interests of Ireland: "Ireland not a province, but a nation.
That was a pretty sentence, but it so happened it was not new, for he found, on looking at some proceedings, previous to the Union in 1797 and 1798, that the object avowed by some of the associations of that day was, that Ireland should be a nation and not a province; and this before that desolating Union, which had reduced Ireland to so low a state. Their watchword too, was—" Ireland a nation, and not a province." The Volunteers of the hon. and learned Gentleman were not armed; but what did the hon. Gentleman go on to say?—
Let no man tell me that the period will not shortly arrive when we shall not be unarmed, and that we shall not be permitted by law to carry arms. Let no man tell me that the day will not shortly arrive when the Peelers shall be dismissed, and their business intrusted to our management; for it is only a bad Government that requires such assistance as they can give. We shall take the place of the national guard of other countries, and do all the police duty of the country. There is no liberty if every man is not allowed lo carry his own arms—every householder should have his own arms. I hope that every village in Ireland will have eighteen or twenty, ay, fifty Volunteers—that they will meet and keep the peace at all markets and fairs, and who will permit no infraction of the law without bringing the perpetrators of it to justice.
What powers were to be confided to this irresponsible band of Volunteers, who take upon themselves the government of their country, under the pretence of doing justice to her people? Justice! why, it was the very pretext of the Whitefeet. They carried on their system under the name of justice! It was because the poor man was oppressed by his rich neighbour—because too much rent was exacted by the unfeeling landlord from the starving tenant—that the virtuous indignation of the Whitefeet was roused; and their justice (rather of a summary kind), in opposition to that which is established by the Constitution of the country was called forth. There was another speech of tire hon. and learned Gentleman, in which he described what he desires the Volunteers should do:—
I am anxious that every man who pays a shilling a-year should be enrolled among the Volunteers of his parish, and that some one individual will accept the office of "pacificator," and that regulators will be also appointed.
Regulators! why the hon. and learned Gentleman borrowed even his terms from the Whitefeet—the White feet "regulators." They were the "gentlemen regulators of the grievances of their oppressed country," and they ordered the hon. member for Waterford to dismiss his Scotch steward. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought that the Association would form an effective means of preserving the peace. No doubt the peace would be admirably preserved in favour of those who took part with its guardians. The hon. Gentleman also declared, as a consequence of their establishment, that "no man would dare to enter into a conspiracy against the people." But the Volunteers, among their other prerogatives, were to be intrusted with the power of judging and acting on their judgment, as to what was a conspiracy against the people; the conspirators were to be tried by the gentlemen regulators, and punished by being "held up to the odium of their countrymen." The House had had ample proof of what that phrase meant. Again, the hon. Gentleman said:—
It may be asked, do I intend to have the Volunteers armed again? I answer, that I do. I love the institution of a national guard, and I contemplate the arming of the Volunteers when the law authorizes it, but not sooner. They would thus become a national guard; and should not, I ask, every man of character and responsibility be armed—the state in which he lives is not free if he is not armed. As long as the law does not permit their arming, the Volunteers will remain unarmed, but no longer. And I hope soon to see them reviewed in the Phœnix Park, and how then will my friend Tom Steele strut at their head. Ireland will never be tranquillized until the Volunteers spread through the country extensively. When once organized, petty sessions work will be greatly diminished. I wish the people to have recourse to arbitration. The Catholic clergy will assist the Volunteers, and, instead of going before justices of the peace, and incurring expense, let the people have courts of arbitration of Their own.
§ The honourable and learned Gentleman objected to Courts martial, and yet appointed a Court of Regulators. They would, it was true, be an armed Court. The only misfortune was, that, instead of being subject to the law of the land, and 1286 the constitutional authority of the Crown, the people were subject to illegal tyranny, and the unconstitutional authority of the hon. Gentleman. This system was in operation—the Catholic priests held their days of arbitration, and they selected those days in which the Magistrates held Petty Sessions in the same place. The persons were not to swear, but a book lay before them, that they might consider themselves under the sanction of an oath. There was an intimation that if the parties thought fit to go before Magistrates at Sessions, there were modes of bringing them to their senses. This was the natural—the inevitable consequence of such a system of tyrannical authority, as, under the name of protecting liberty, laid all men under contributions. This was the system of liberty with which Ireland was to be blessed. This was the system which was to abrogate all constitutional authority, which was to take all power from the law and the Government, to execute their sentence by unpaid and irresponsible Ministers, who were to preserve the peace of the country. It was to put an end to such a state of things—to restore the law, and to defend the liberty of the subject against these lawless encroachments, that Government called upon the House to pass this Bill, and create a power which, if unconstitutional, would not be lawless, and would be administered by those who would be responsible for its execution. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that this system is to be spread over the whole country; and was his system, hispacificating system, proposed to be extended over the whole face of the country, only to be subject to his immediate control? Was the hon. and learned Member's system not expected to supersede the authority of the law in Ireland? Was not every description of offence proposed to be tried before the military tribunal, established under the auspices of the hon. and learned Member? But, he would say, with respect to the proposed measures, that it was not intended that they should come into operation except in those districts where it was proved there existed a power and oppression beyond the law. Was it intended that it should put down and abolish Juries generally? He said no. Was it intended to deprive the people of Ireland of the power and protection of Judges? He said no—by no means; on the contrary, the lighter offences were 1287 taken out from the operation of the measure, and the extent of its operation was limited, in the most cautious and guarded manner, solely to the guardianship and protection of life and property. He wished here to guard against the interpretation which had erroneously gone abroad with respect to an expression used by his noble friend near him on a former evening—namely, that it was the intention of Government to make use of this measure as a means of enforcing tithes. Now, he would say at once, in the most open and decided manner, that no such intention existed. He would say, at the same time, that while his Majesty's Government would be wholly unjustified, and without an excuse, in introducing this measure into any districts where violence and outrage, and insubordination, were not known to exist, they would be equally wrong and negligent of their duty if they did not, where those outrages did exist, extend the protection of the law, in its new form, equally to the security of every denomination of property, whether lay or clerical, and without distinction, also, to the protection, of the lives of all his Majesty's subjects. Let him be allowed to give a further qualification upon a point upon which no honest man could dissent—that this Bill was never intended for the protection of civil claims. But why, he would ask, should it not extend to the protection of the life and property of a clergyman, if residing in a disturbed district, as well as those of any other individual? Surely, if a clergyman was threatened with outrage and violence to his person or property, he was equally entitled to protection with his neighbours. He had, in the course of his observations, been diverted from one point, to which he was anxious to call the attention of the House, and with which he should conclude his observations. He had considered those unconstitutional, tyrannical, and arbitrary proceedings, which resulted from the organized system of the hon. and learned Gentleman—he had considered these proceedings, he said, merely with reference to their effect upon the fair expression of public opinion in Ireland; but he doubted not, a higher aim was intended; and unless the hon. and learned Gentleman should deny and utterly disclaim the expressions which had been attributed to him in print, that aim was more unconstitutional, and more audacious still; it was to trample 1288 upon, and control the prerogatives of that House, by nullifying the freedom of speech and of debate within those walls. He adverted to expressions said to have been used at a meeting of the humbler classes—not certainly to any which could have fallen from the lips of any individual composing the assembly he then saw before him—no, but to expressions which no man who had the remotest pretensions to the character of a Gentleman could have made use of. He should not, therefore, stop to comment upon expressions which spoke of a system of individual robbery legalized by being carried on in a certain place. It was impossible for any man to mistake the meaning of those expressions, but he forebore to make allusion to any Member of that House. He repeated, that he should continue to disbelieve it until he heard the avowal of those expressions from the hon. and learned Member to whom they were attributed—
said, he was ready to state the very expressions he had used at the meeting alluded to by the right hon. Secretary [cries of " Mr. O'Connell," and "state, state."]
said, that if the House would only be pleased to bear with him for a few moments, he should conclude the observations he had found it necessary to make on that occasion, and then the hon. and learned member for Dublin would have a full and ample opportunity of entering into any explanation he might deem necessary as to what took place on the occasion alluded to. He would deal fairly with the House and with the hon. and learned Member; and, indeed, he should feel that he was not discharging his duty if he did not give the hon. and learned Member an opportunity of disclaiming the observations imputed to him, if he had the power of doing so. When that House went before their Sovereign on the opening of Parliament, they not only asked, but demanded the right of free and unquestioned discussion upon all matters before them; they demanded that discussion should be unrestrained, and without control; and there was no modern instance of any Sovereign having attempted to deny the fullest exercise of that right. This, then, had been the pride and boast of that House, Would it not, then, be too much, on the part of any Member of that House, to assume a power which the Sovereign himself dared not exercise? 1289 Ought any Member of that House to arrogate to himself a right to criticise and point out elsewhere the vote which any hon. Member gave there? Such, however, he could, he believed, prove to have been the case on the part of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. In a letter written by that honourable and learned Member, dated the 10th of February, 1833, and read at a meeting of the Irish Volunteers, he found the following passages:—'Do not be alarmed about my health. The atrocious attempt to extinguish public liberty with which Ireland is menaced, has made me young again. I feel the vigour of youth in the elastic spring of my hate of Ministerial tyranny, and base English ingratitude. I will write to you again to-morrow. My present hurried advice to you is, that you call the Volunteers together at once; to banish every thought but that of making a good fight to prevent the evils that menace us. To be a good fight, it must be strictly peaceable, legal, and constitutional. Get every parish in Ireland, if you can, to meet to petition against the menaced Algerine Acts. Let the meetings not be simultaneous; that is, let every parish meet quite independent of any other, and advise that none but parishioners should take part in each parish. Let the petitions be in the strongest terms consistent with decorum. In fact, we should in the abstract, prefer death to slavery. I trust that the people of Ireland must perceive that we, their Representatives, have fought their battles unflinchingly.' Now, he had also fought the battle of the people of Ireland, and he trusted honestly [an expression of dissent from Mr. O'Connell]. He would repeat that he had done so. Did the hon. and learned Member mean to say that he, and he only, was to be considered as Ireland, and that those who differed from him in opinion were unworthy of consideration? or was he (Mr. O'Connell) installed in his office of Grand Agitator and Liberator of that country? But he would proceed with his extracts. The letter to which he alluded went on to state:—You will see in the papers the list of those who fought for Ireland. You will, I am sure, be glad to see the member for Dundalk in the number. Young Talbot of Athlone, voted in both the majorities. Learn at once what the honest men of Athlone think of this desertion of his country. 1290 The two members for the county of Limerick voted also in the majorities against Ireland. Is there no honest spirit remaining in that county to call upon the two gallant Colonels to retrace their steps? He would now put it to the hon. and learned member for Dublin, whether he meant to admit this direct and palpable interference with the votes and decisions of that House.
proceeded: Then he would put it to the House, in the abused and prostituted name of national liberty, whether any more flagrant violation of freedom of speech and freedom of thought ever came before it? Did any noisy spouter about popular rights, any frothy declaimer about popular liberty, ever put forward so flimsy a veil as that with which it was endeavoured to hide a most tyrannical interference of an illegitimate and unconstitutional power over the votes of Parliament? Could there be anything more outrageous than such an appeal—an appeal not to the constituency of hon. Members—an appeal not to those to whom alone they were responsible for their votes, but to a self-constituted Volunteer Association, which was to spread its mighty arms over the whole of Ireland—bringing all within its grasp, and subjecting everything to its uncontrolled dominion? He had now stated the case at length, but he trusted not more at length than the necessity of the case justified. He had distinctly separated the predial from the political agitation—. the outrages upon life and property, from those upon civil and constitutional liberty—which were a necessary consequence of the system which existed there. He now called upon them in the name of liberty—as they valued constitutional rights and legal privileges—as they wished to see property, nay, life itself secure—as they wished to protect honest and peaceable subjects against a system of violence and predial outrage—as they wished to exercise freely and fully their ever undoubted rights—at once to denounce this vile attempt to destroy, under the mask of liberty, every germ of an unbiassed and independent public opinion. He called on them, by their vote that night, to sanction the declaration, that they would rather infringe for a time upon the laws, than suffer all liberty, all law, all constitutional rights, all security for life and property to be absolved—as it must be, 1291 unless Parliament interfered—in one wide gulph of ruin and tyranny.
§ Mr. Sheil
rose, amidst cries of "O'Connell," and "state, state," which continued for several minutes. As soon as the hon. Member could be heard, he said, that, at that late hour, he thought they could not do better than adjourn the debate, and he rose to move an adjournment accordingly [cries for Mr. O'Connell again renewed].
rose to second the Motion. He trusted the House would afford him the opportunity of freeing himself from an impression which had been made against him by what had appeared in the public Press. All that he desired was fair play. He certainly had read the report to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded. He had read two other reports, in neither of which was the exceedingly offensive passage to be found. When he read the report in question, his first sensation was one of merriment; he thought it exceedingly ludicrous that such a thing should be attributed to him. He would state the fact to the House, and if he had done wrong let them condemn him. He meant not to disguise or mitigate one word, and he would readily admit, that from what he did say on that occasion, he was not at all surprised at the mistakes which the reporter had fallen into. He did say enough to lead him into that mistake. The object in his mind was those bills, and he was speaking of Universal Suffrage, and the injustice, on constitutional principles, of any man being taxed who was not represented. He said, that the injustice from individuals might be punished by law, but that no punishment could be inflicted if that injustice were carried into execution by 600. He then went on, as was not uncommon in speaking, to further illustrate his position, but without intending any connexion between them, to say, that if one scoundrel attempted to rob you, you might resist him by physical force, but if 600 did so, then you could not resist them. They might condemn it; and in his cool moments he certainly would have taken care so to have expressed himself as to have avoided all possibility of mistake. In the heat of speaking, it was not unfrequent to fall into mistakes. He now, in that House, re-asserted both the things which he had then said. He asserted, in that House, that you might resist and punish one person, who meant to rob you, but 1292 that you cannot punish the Legislature that robs you. He asserted, as he then said, that you may resist one scoundrel, but that you cannot resist 600. He did not know, from the manner in which the House then received him, that he ought to condescend to add any expression of regret for any words which had fallen from him, and which might be deemed offensive; but, for his own sake, it was necessary to say, that he could not have intended to apply that epithet to the Members of the House. He must have included himself in the number. He did certainly make the observations which he had already stated, and he considered the reporter was quite excusable, seeing, as he did, the tendency which his words might be construed to have. He begged most solemnly to assure the House, that he had not the slightest intention, in any expressions of which he made use, of speaking in a manner derogatory of that House.
§ Debate adjourned.