§ Lord Howick
said, that before the debate was resumed, he wished to take that opportunity of setting right a misunderstanding that had gone abroad in consequence of the speech of the hon. and learned member for Bridport, delivered on a former evening. That hon. and learned Member had read a passage from a journal of Sir Samuel Romilly's to show, that in the year 1807 the Government of that day had been prepared to bring in an Insurrection Act for Ireland, which they did not think proper to mention to the then law officers of the Crown; and it was understood, that one of the reasons on which the hon. and learned member for Bridport did not think fit to give his support to the Government on the present Bill was, that two of the Members of the Government of that day were now in office. He (Lord Howick) believed that that was a misunderstanding of what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member, but at all events, it was right, that the House should know what were the circumstances alluded to. It was perfectly true, that an Act for the Suppression of Insurrection in Ireland was in the contemplation of the Government of that day—that a Bill for that purpose was drawn up in Ireland, and was submitted to and approved by Mr. Grattan. It was then sent to this country, which it reached only a few days before the Government of that time was broken up. The draft of the Bill was sent to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, but just at that moment began those discussions which ended in the breaking up of the Government. It so happened that his father, who then represented the Government in that House, had actually received the draft of the Bill, but had not had time to read it. It was fit that this circumstance should be known, in order that the impression which had been created 121 that a Bill of that kind had teen concealed from the Attorney and Solicitor General of that day should be removed. The fact was, that the Bill was not in a fit state to submit to the Cabinet, and consequently had not been placed before the law officers of the Crown.
thanked the noble Lord for the opportunity thus given him of correcting the misapprehension which it appeared had occurred with respect to what fell from him on a former occasion. The embarrassment he felt at addressing the House for the first time, rendered it impossible for him to be sure as to the expressions he used, but he was quite sure what his intention was. It was not to create such an impression as that of which the noble Lord had spoken. The mode in which he had introduced the subject was as an argument in answer to the remark that this Bill could not be drawn into a precedent, with regard to which he had observed, that he did not think this measure itself would have been introduced but for the example which was set in 1807, and that there were now two Members of the Government who on that occasion had likewise been members of the Government. Nothing was further from his intention than to cast any blame on the Members of the Government of 1806; and if, by what he had said, that impression was created, he was quite sure he had no intention of creating it, for if he could have had such an intention he should have been acting quite contrary to the feelings of the author of the passage, who, to the last day of his life, had entertained the strongest feelings of respect and friendship for the two Members of the Cabinet alluded to—feelings in which he (Mr. Romilly) then and now fully participated.
§ Mr. Baldwin
rose to continue the adjourned debate. The explanation which they had just heard given, had no doubt given great satisfaction to the noble Lord opposite; but it had given him none, for, whatever were the feelings of respect which the hon. and learned Gentleman testified to the individuals alluded to, it was impossible to forget that they were two of the Government, that in 1807 were ready to propose an Insurrection Act for Ireland, and that now brought in this tyrannical measure. It was impossible, too, that he could fail to observe (and this circumstance did gratify him) that so good, so great, and so eminent a man as Sir Samuel Romilly had been opposed to the Insurrection 122 Act, and that in that great man's mind, it made no difference whether the Act was proposed by his colleagues in office or not. To Irishmen it was no matter of consolation that the hon. and learned Member should talk of his feelings of respect for the noble Lord at the head of the Government, for it was impossible to forget what he now proposed to do, and recollecting that, he could not entertain feelings of respect, similar to those professed by the hon. member for Bridport, though, when he first entered that House, no one possessed them so strongly as he did. He had told his constituents that he believed he should only find himself opposed to the noble Lord on the question of the Repeal of the Union. He had felt, too, the greatest respect for the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp), but he must confess, that the Bill which he now held in his hand was so direct a violation of the rights of man (he hoped he was not using language not recognized in that House nor by the Constitution, for he did not mean to speak in a revolutionary manner, nor contrary to law), but it was so direct a violation of the rights of man, and its enactments were so unjust and so uncalled for, that no individual should have his support who could bring in such a measure. Thenoble Lord (Lord Althorp) was well known to possess great kindness of disposition but it would seem that by some fatuity some unaccountable self-forgetfulness, he had been induced to give his respected name to a Bill which would excite throughout the country a degree of agitation, that no healing measures could afterwards appease. The present Bill, too, he thought, came with a very had grace from a man, who, a few months since, had so strongly pressed forward the Reform Bill, on the ground that the people did not possess the rights they ought to have. Why were the Irish people to see military tribunals established in their country, instead of the ordinary administration of the law? Why was the old example of France, in former times, to be thus imitated? Were Ministers aware of the probable consequences of their own Act? The men who sat upon these tribunals in Ireland, and thus became familiarized with military law taking the place of the law of the land, would be ready instruments, on future occasions, to sit on military tribunals in Great Britain. He warned the people of Great Britain against the example. If the noble Lord still continued to think that the power of such a military tribunal was necessary— 123 if his enlightened and benevolent mind continued to retain the conviction that such a measure of severity was still to be dealt out to the unhappy people of Ireland, then he was not the noble Lord the world had hitherto taken him to be—he was not that high-minded and virtuous man which he had hitherto imagined, and which society at large was willing to believe the noble Lord to be. He could not, therefore, refrain from expressing a hope that the noble Lord would re-consider a proposition so adverse to the peace and the well-being of the Irish, and so diametrically opposed to every principle of sound policy and even of common justice—a measure not merely injurious and oppressive as respected the Irish, but inconsistent with the character of the noble Lord himself, and with the dignified position which he had hitherto maintained in the political world. Let him only refiect on the dangerous proposition then under the consideration of the House, and save his reputation before it became too late, else the laurels he had won in the past years of his contests for freedom would be tarnished, and his name become a term of reproach, whenever political character happened to be mentioned. The condition of Ireland had been referred to by some hon. Members as a reason to sustain such a measure as the present; and the right hon. Baronet who had addressed the House with so much effect on Friday, had referred to that condition, as affording a justification of a measure which no impartial or intelligent man could suppose admitted of any justification. Now, he would rest the issue upon this question—had or had not the ordinary means of attaining justice been resorted to, and had such an experiment been tried and failed? If so, a British Ministry, acting upon British principles of freedom, would not stand under the ban of such deep condemnation as they must do, if it were true, as unquestionably it was, that no such experiment had ever been even mentioned, much less tried by them. Would not the independent portion of that House feel, that in omitting to give to the Irish people that species of fair play, the Irish Government had been guilty of the very grossest neglect? And was the noble Lord or his suporters prepared to say that the country should be punished on account of their neglect? Was Ireland to be hunted out of the pale of all civilization—of all law—of all constitutional right—of the fair and equal distribution of justice to which the 124 most degraded of mankind were entitled, merely because the Government, which, to her great misfortune, had been placed in authority over her, was guilty of a neglect, for which they, and not the people deserved to be punished? The noble Lord had himself admitted, that the disturbances which were said to have made that measure necessary, were confined to afew counties of Leinster—there was nothing to be found in the other parts of Ireland which could at all warrant a proceeding of such strong coercion. Now the noble Lord had, by the measure itself, recognized the principle, that one part of the Empire might be legislated for without reference to the other parts; for he took out Ireland, and proposed to subject that unhappy land to the provisions of an Act, to the oppression of which the remotest ages and the most barbarous countries could furnish no parallel. Well, if he might do that with respect to a large portion of the Empire, it was perfectly competent to him to do so with respect to a smaller portion. What was there, he should be glad to learn, that prevented the noble Lord from bringing in a Bill that should only extend to the disturbed counties, and to them alone? The inconsistency and the injustice were monstrous, of applying the law to the whole island, when confessedly a large proportion of it was in a state of the most perfect tranquillity. He was aware that every portion of an argument of that nature would be met by the assertion that the political state of Ireland and the condition of society rendered such coercion not a matter of choice but of necessity. What, had there not been disturbances in England, and that very recently too? He happened to have been in England at the time when the present Administration came into office, and he had the pain of witnessing scenes of incendiarism in various parts of the country, and to have read of many more; but had there been any attempt to put an end to those crimes by means of such a measure as the present? On the contrary, that very course was adopted in reference to England which was not tried for Ireland, but which, if tried, he entertained not the slightest doubt would Be attended with the most signal success—he alluded to the sending down of Special Commissions into the disturbed districts. The reason of the differesnt treatment applied to the two countries was so apparent, that no man possessing the use of his understanding could be blind to the motives which led to the distinction—Ireland was treated not as an integral 125 part of the Empire, but as a conquered province. Had such a measure been proposed two years ago in reference to England as was now before them against Ireland the English Members would have shuddered at the bare mention of such a step in legislation, or rather, he should say, in the destruction of all law, and the abrogation of every thing like justice. For England there was no military tribunal—on Ireland, almost without a hearing. Martial Law was to be instantly inflicted. In England an experiment had been tried before extreme measures were resorted to—in Ireland not even the semblance of an experiment was attempted, but the sentence of condemnation pronounced with a promptitude and a recklessness for which a warrant could in vain be sought in any verified facts, or in any sound principle of policy. The right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth in one of the most brilliant—one of the most persuasive, but at the same time one of the most artful speeches ever delivered within the walls of Parliament, had endeavoured to show, that the circumstances of Ireland did present some justification for that which he should not hesitate to describe as a grievous departure from every principle of constitutional right. Yes, the right hon. Baronet laboured, and not without great success of a certain kind, to show that his Majesty's Ministers might find in the present state of Ireland some justification of the course which they were pursuing. Let the Ministers beware of such hollow support—let them distrust their own measures when they found them supported by such advocacy as that of the right hon. member for Tamworth. Could they be so short-sighted as not to see in that support a deep design of entrapping them into harsher measures than ever the right hon. Baronet had himself perpetrated when in power? And be such means it was evident that that artful statesman sought to inflict a stain upon the character of his political opponents, which in the warfare of party, he might afterwards render subservient to his own purposes. That right hon. Baronet had made large sacrifices for the accomplishment of a great end, upon an occasion that must be fresh in the recollection of all who heard him. He differed from his constituents—he severed himself from his party—he made abler speeches in support of liberal principles than he had ever before uttered against them. He had thus gained the good opinion of many; but the advantages thus accruing he flung to the winds by his declaration on 126 the subject of Reform. Reform, however, had been carried in despite of his opposition; and knowing him as they did, could they suppose he meant well towards them, when the adoption of his counsels would but plunge them deeper in the very courses which they had so often and so severely censured him for pursuing and which had at length cost him his place. That view of his conduct would be much strengthened, if they only took the trouble to examine the reasoning—if reasoning it could be called—of the right hon. Baronet's speech. A tissue of more cunning and ingenious sophisms it had never fallen to his lot to hear, and more especially in those portions of his speech in which he talked of the superabundant population, in which he abused the landlords and defended the Church. But the most remarkable inconsistency in his speech was that in which he in one and the same breath advocated the Bill, and admitted that it was no remedy for the evils at present existing in Ireland. Was there any hon. Member in that House, possessing the slightest degree of penetration who did not see, that the Ex-ministers rejoiced at the proposal of the measure which the present advisees of the Crown had so unwisely been induced to bring forward? It was abundantly clear, that the late Administration and their supporters would give their treacherous assistance in carrying it through both Houses of Parliament. Noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who now occupied the Treasury Bench should remember that they had been placed there by the voice of the people. Were they prepared to destroy that liberty for being the advocates of which they were raised into power and place—would the Ministers now in the Councils of the King coalesce with the supporters of passive obedience—would they do that for the sake of oppressing those who in Ireland presented nothing to them but passive resistance? It had now become the fashion to denounce that passive resistance; but did the Ministers feel themselves safe, when they heard those denunciations echoed by the right hon. member for Tamworth which were recognised as arguments in favour of their own favourite measure? Had they ever found that right hon. Baronet the advocate of any one principle favourable to public liberty? Had he ever said a word in favour of one liberal sentiment, otherwise than with reluctance, and under the pressure of extreme necessity? Not even to the Catholics was he willing to make concessions, until he felt 127 that the salvation of the empire demanded it. The only act of liberality of which that right hon. Baronet was guilty—and guilty he certainly seemed to consider it—was proposing the emancipation of the Roman Catholics. Such was the general character of the party to which the right hon. Baronet belonged, and of which he was the distinguished leader. Now he would call upon his Majesty's Ministers to say whether they preferred the support of such men, or the unbought and virtuous suffrages of the people, and the confidence of those who really represent the people and sympathise with the public? Again he would ask, did the noble Lord prefer the Tories to the people? If he made such a choice, he might be assured, that he would have reason to repent it so long as he lived. The progress of liberty throughout Europe could not be arrested by any such measures as those at present unhappily brought forward by the Advisers of the Crown; its course was steady, and the light which it shed was not only inextinguishable but was increasing from day to day. The principles of freedom were too deeply engraven in the human heart to be removed by any efforts of the puny enemies that from time to time had made it the object of assault. Not even the politico-economical arguments of the right hon. member for Tamworth would place it ill the slightest danger. That right hon. Baronet had attributed the super-abundant population of Ireland to the use of the potato. Was he really so little acquainted with the laws which governed the increase of population, as not to know that an agricultural population always pressed upon the means of support, be those means what they might; and unless the population were taken off by large towns, the people fell back upon the land a dead weight? In Ireland there was no manufacture, and the little foreign commerce she possessed, if it could be dignified by that name, was a source of employment which did not occupy a thousandth part of her population. But to turn from topics of that nature to those which more immediately pressed. The associations existing in Ireland had been denounced, and they had been described in the newspapers as scenes of political agitation; but was it, therefore, the more true? The real objects of most of those associations were objects connected with trade—with the rate of wages—and with mutual assistance in untoward circumstances—will, in a word, the improvement of the slender manufactures, or modes of Indus- 128 trious employment rather, which existed in Ireland; and it was a most grievous and cruel falsehood to describe those associations as the enemies of England, or of English connexion. He hesitated not to avow that he belonged to some of those associations. He was a member of the Trades' Union in the city of Cork, which city he had the honour to represent in that House. That body was to be put down by the present Bill. But what had that body done? It had been the means of relieving and of placing in a course of successful industry, many useful and deserving artizans; and when the cholera prevailed in Cork—and when the Irish Government gave cold replies to applications made to them, for the means of supplying to the poorer classes of that city that food and clothing, deemed essential to preventing the extension of the disease; and when that aid could not be obtained, the Trades' Unions came forward, and by the arrangements which they made, very materially diminished the evil. In whatever view he took the great question which then occupied the attention of Parliament, he could not refrain from indulging a hope, that the great body of the English Members would become convinced of its injustice and its impolicy, and would, when they came to the division, refuse their sanction to a measure of such unheard-of oppression. He had, of course, listened with the utmost attention to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, and he could not keep his mind from resting upon one of the leading arguments by which that speech was distinguished—it was, that the great ground of complaint on the part of the Irish was not against tithes, but against rent. But, he would ask, how did any arguments connected with those facts meet the difficulty? There was an immense population and a limited territory, and that population had no means of employment but that which was derived from the land. In that state of things they approached a landlord, determined to outbid each other; they borrowed, or otherwise procured, the means of offering him a premium for a lease, and they not only offered him that, but a rent for his land, which he must know to be above the value. Were these temptations such as men in the situation of Irish landowners could be expected to resist? These unhappy and misguided tenants, so obtaining possession of the land, obtained upon credit the means of stocking it with cattle. What then?—they were, perhaps, able to pay the 129 first gale of rent, but the notes they had passed for the cattle were put into the hands of a lawyer, and with costs, probably came upon them before any profitable use could be made of the cattle, and before the landlord's second gale of rent was paid. By the summary process which the law now enabled the landlord to use, the unfortunate tenant was driven from his land—sent out a beggar on the world. It was no matter of surprise, that in such circumstances he should seek to inflict punishment upon the author, or supposed author, of his misery. The tenant's right of ancient occupancy, so much respected in England, was unknown in Ireland. Here the hereditary landlord respected the feelings of the men, whose ancestors had lived under his ancestors for centuries; but the Irish landlords were absentees, and left their affairs to be managed by agents having no sympathies with the people, ignorant of their wants, and too indifferent to acquire knowledge. By such men as these were the people of Ireland driven forth upon the roads to perish. Had there not been in this country many insurrections and disturbances in the manufacturing towns? Had there not been incendiarism in the rural districts? But did the Legislature of England hand over its population to the tender mercies of a military tribunal? It was not on the present occasion alone that Ireland was subjected to measures of that nature. Ever since the Union, she had been placed under a series of such acts; the Peace-preservation Act—the Insurrection Act—the Military Police: and had she, in the interval, advanced one step in real civilization? He would beg of the English Members to pause before they gave their assent to such a Bill, and to remember that Louis Philippe could not always occupy the throne of France, or Marshal Soult command the French armies. Let England look to it; the seeds of dissensions were springing at home, and war was threatened from abroad; but the season of peace had not been improved—the hearts of the Irish people were alienated; and would those who had, on former occasions, shed their best blood in defence of British interests and British institutions do so again? Let reflecting Englishmen ask themselves the question. He should not pretend to answer it, because what he might say would, most likely, be received as of no weight, as it would proceed from a person too insignificant to be attended to by the noble mover of the measure before the House. The 130 noble Lord seemed to think, that the Irish should be treated as serfs—as slaves, that deserved less consideration than those of the West Indies. But the noble Lord knew nothing of the Irish people, and, above all, he was completely ignorant of the middle classes of the Irish, who would be affected by this nefarious measure. The noble Lord did not know that they were every bit as enlightened as the same class of persons in England; that they had their Mechanics' institutions, and that they sought every means of improving their understanding. He repeated, the noble Lord did not know them, or he never would have dreamt of legislating for them in the way he now proposed. Did the noble Lord by any probability know these men, when he thought that he could make slaves of them? Certainly not. The noble Lord could have no just idea of what the Irish people were. Since the noble Lord did not know them, he (Mr. Baldwin) would suggest to him a wise and salutary precaution. He would war him, if he owed any duty to his Sovereign, not to lessen, by this measure, the allegiance that a whole people now acknowledged as due to that Sovereign. The noble Lord would diminish the right to that allegiance and the loyalty of the people, by enforcing the enactment of the present Bill, and would, consequently, with his colleagues, be traitors to their Sovereign. The Irish, if this Bill passed, would consider their allegiance to the Sovereign, and their connexion with England, not as matters of political duty, but as matters forced upon them. He should not discharge his duty if he did not forewarn the noble Lord to be more than cautious how he alienated the affections and attachment of a people, when the consequence of such alienation would be ruinous to England, and, if possible, worse than ruinous to Ireland. If the noble Lord passed the measure, he would ask him, what would be the opinion of after-times of his conduct? Would the noble Lord be thought a sincere friend of liberty? Would it not be said that his former speeches in favour of liberty were mere hollow and interested professions? Would it not be said that he had struggled for Reform, not for Reform's sake, but solely to preserve his place, and protect the aristocracy against the people—that he advised Reform as an unavoidable concession, lest he should be obliged reluctantly to grant more? If the noble Lord should insist upon the passing of this Bill, let him never imagine that posterity would put him 131 down as a man who was at any time favourable to liberty. Whoever proposed such a. Bill should be considered as friendly to the three despots who were now in heart leagued to enslave continental—indeed the whole of Europe. Such a man favoured the despots, when, he his measures, he endangered the breaking up of this empire by alienating the Irish people from the English nation. Such a man could not wish to see liberty flourish in Britain, when, by his proceedings, he was sure to retard its progress, and exit short its success in other parts of Europe. He would put a question or two to the noble Lord. Did the noble Lord think that, by suspending the constitutional law of the empire—by having recourse to military men-:—to the musket and to the bayonet—he could compel the Irish to cultivate the soil—to gather in the harvest—to take the produce of that harvest to market, and to convert it into money for the benefit of the absentee landlord? If the noble Lord thought so, he was sadly mistaken. Military tribunals, military tyranny, could never exact from the Irish what the noble Lord expected. No, if they were outlawed—if they were subjected to the control of a Constitution infringed and broken through, the Irish people would cease to follow their ordinary avocations. He knew that the Irish peasant would not labour if he saw that the laws were solely intended to protect the absentee landlord; and he knew that the Irish peasant would never consent to bow down to such legislative tyranny as the present measure. The peasant, if the measure should pass, would merely cultivate potatoes enough for himself, and leave the landlord to reap the produce of his lands how he might. But then it would be said, that those who would not labour and pay rent could be ejected from their farms. True; but, unfortunately, a whole nation would have to be ejected. After that it might be necessary to have recourse to transportation; but then, it should be recollected, that the expense per head of transportation to Botany Bay amounted to sixty guineas. The British people, taxed as they were, would never consent to such an increased expenditure. Besides, they were too generous to Pay for the incarceration of their fellow-subjects, Particularly when their only crime was that of resisting oppression He called upon the noble Lord and his colleagues to recollect the amount of the exports from Ireland to England, and to remember that the present measure might just an end to then. 132 Should such be the ease, the consequences would be most disastrous; and he called upon the Representatives of the great manufacturing towns of England, not to give their support to a measure—never to consent to see the Irish people made slaves, unless they wished to sec them cease to consume British manufacture, and supply those towns with meal and bread. The noble Lord seemed to think that the Irish people could be made to work like negroes—that by corporal punishment they might be forced to cultivate the soil. Such an experiment might have once succeeded—tyranny might have done for a time; but lie would tell the noble Lord that tyranny had had its day in Ireland. The Irish were now become more enlightened—they began to have a proper sense of their own dignity, and of what was due to them as men—they were arrived at that point when they would not work under the whip—when they would not produce under the whip for the benefit of those who employed that instrument. In mercy and humanity there would be true wisdom. To extend education and increase industry was the only sound policy for Ireland. But as a course of oppression was quite the contrary, since it would take away from the Irish all motives of allegiance to the Sovereign of this country, he would entreat, in the most humble but impressive manner, the noble Lord to withdraw this measure, which would excite the hatred of the Irish and the I contempt of the English. He would ask, whether Ministers meant to collect the interest of the National Debt at the point of the bayonet, and by oppressing his poor countrymen? If they did, they would find themselves sadly in error. It had been said, that some of the Irish Members had advised a run upon the banks. He could assure the noble Lord opposite that no such advice was necessary. Such a means was not simply floating in the minds of the Irish—they were resolved upon it; he knew them, and he was convinced that the result of the passing of this measure would be a run upon the banks in every part of Ireland. Ministers then would have again to suspend cash payments, and by that suspension would destroy the confidence of the country and oblige the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland, to rise up against the Government. He would once more call upon the proposers of the present infernal measure to withdraw it. If they did not, how could they expect that the prayers offered up by those who wore mitres and lawn sleeves for the King of the 133 Realm could be acceptable in the sight of Heaven? No prayer he would say, could Le acceptable to God as long as it was accompanied by the curse of the Irish; and no religious offering could be graciously-received as long us it was connected with oppression, exaction, and tyranny. He would not go further into the details of the question before the House, and would conclude by thanking them very cordially for the polite attention with which his remarks had been listened to.
§ Lord Castlereagh
said, that there was nothing in the arguments of the hon. Member who last addressed the House, to call for particular observation. With the threats and menaces thrown out by the hon. Member—more numerous than he recollected to have been thrown out on any political question—he had nothing to do, and left it to the members of his Majesty's Government to rebut them, and he trusted that the Government would be prepared to crush any attempt that might be made to carry them into effect. He would deal with the question before the House, and he would confess that it was with sorrow, and with shame, that he saw such measures about to be adapted towards his country. He called it his country, as he thought it as much his as theirs, who seemed to think it their especial country. Every impartial person that had heard the splendid speech delivered a few evenings before by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) near him, must be convinced of the necessity of the measures now proposed, and that there existed no longer any respect for the Constitution in Ireland, since a series of the most dismal outrages, murders, and burnings, was carried on there. He considered, that all the evils that afflicted his unhappy country sprang from agitation—from agitation; no matter whether it was that of the Corn Exchange, or of the Castle. He thought that Government had not been sufficiently careful—that it had thrown out too many hints, encouraging, instead of opposing, agitation. Measures respecting the Church and Tithes had been too much talked of by his Majesty's Ministers; and he would ask, how could any man in Ireland be expected to pay tithes, after the remarks that had been made by the right hon. Secretary opposite? Having said, that agitation was the cause of the evils of Ireland, he would state as a proof of his assertion, that that part of Ireland which was not worked upon by agitators, was perfectly tranquil. It gave him great 134 satisfaction to be able to state, that the province of Ulster was perfectly tranquil. The inhabitants of that part of the country with which he was connected (the North of Ireland), though they suffered equally with those of the other counties, still did not have recourse to outrage, assassinations, and burnings. He had lately spoken to some gentlemen from Belfast, and they told him that tithes were paid there, and that the people were as tranquil as could be desired. The cause was, that the agitators had not got among them, and that they had the good sense, when the great agitator, the hon. and learned member for Dublin, who was not ashamed of that epithet—showed his face among them, to drive him back with praise-worthy resolution. Another cause of the tranquality in that part of the country was to be attributed to the conduct of the resident landlords, and he would appeal to hon. Members behind him, if he was wrong in making that assertion. He would say little more upon the question, than assure the House, that it was with the gravest sorrow he would vote for the measures now proposed by Ministers; and he trusted that they would use the coercive powers which were to be placed in their hands with discretion, and retain them for as short a space of time as possible; He must confess, however, that he was astonished when he looked at the quarter from which this measure came. He repeated, that he was perfectly astonished that a measure so despotic and arbitrary, should have been proposed by a Whig Ministry, to the first Reformed House of Commons. He did not mean to say, that there did not exist a strong necessity for it, but the House should bear in mind, that the Ministers had told them that Reform would make the people quiet and peaceable. In the words of hon. Gentlemen opposite, Reform was to be a panacea for everything. It seemed, indeed, that it was not, and that but little confidence was now placed in those who proposed and carried it. The hon. and learned Member behind him (Mr. O'Connell) had no confidence in them, as might be seen by his declaration to the National Political Union, of which he now seemed to be the head. But the hon. member for Cork said it would appear, that bayonets, and runs upon the Banks, and other blessings of the same species, would all be the results arising from Reform. He would, however, promise that the measure before the House should have his support.
An Hon. Member
said, that those who opposed the present Bill, were bound to show, either that the statements made by the noble Lord in introducing it were exaggerated or unfounded, or, failing in that, to suggest some measure which would meet the necessities of the case, None of those hon. Members who had spoken against the Bill, however, had impeached the statement of facts made by the noble Lord, or proposed any measure as a substitute for that brought forward by Ministers. The measure which was stigmatized as coercive, was coercive only so far as they obliged the Irish to obey the laws, and prevented them from plundering one another. He should be glad if a remedy for the grievances of Ireland could be discovered; and he was sure that the majority of that House was equally anxious with him to make the discovery. He would support the first reading of the Bill, because he was of opinion that it would secure the peace, and tend to the prosperity of Ireland.
§ Major Fancourt
said, that, as an Englishman, he felt bound to oppose the Bill. He could assure the House, that, under ordinary circumstances, a just diffidence would have deterred him from presenting himself to their notice, but the very magnitude of the present question compelled him to conquer that diffidence as far as he could. He could not, consistently with his own feelings and convictions, give a silent vote on this question, when, in his opinion, a death-blow was levelled at the very principle of constitutional freedom. But at the same time he begged to assure his Majesty's Government that he was actuated by no disposition to join a factious opposition against them. As far as he could learn, no such opposition existed; at all events, such an opposition against any Government he never would condescend to join. It was simply in the character of an independent English Member of that House, that he stood forward to resist the utter abolition of the spirit of independence in Ireland; and though, after the many eloquent appeals which had been made from that side of the House by the chosen advocates of that distracted country, nothing which he could advance would be worthy of arresting the attention of his Majesty's advisers; still, as there were one or two points connected with the question which he would willingly suggest to the consideration of the House, he trusted he should not look in vain for that courteous 136 forbearance with which hon. Members addressing the House for the first time were usually favoured, and which, in the few remarks with which he proposed to trouble the House, it would be his desire and endeavour to deserve. In the first place, he begged to state the grounds on which he voted with Ministers in support of the Address to the Crown. He so voted on this very definite ground—that he could not refuse to the Executive additional powers, on a solemn statement from the Throne that such powers were necessary. It appeared to him that the House could not say to his Majesty, we will grant no assistance; but, in conformity with the spirit of the passage in the Royal Speech, he, in common with many others, intended, by so voting, to assure his Majesty of their present willingness to grant such additional powers, if a case were satisfactorily made out, proving their necessity for the maintenance of the authority of the law, and the dignity of the Crown. In his opinion, no case had been satisfactorily made out for the granting such terrific powers as were contained in the provisions of the Bill then before the House. To quiet disturbed districts, they were called on to put those districts under Martial-law. Such a measure could not, he thought, fail of neutralizing any beneficial effect which the noble Lord might anticipate from his Church Reform, and other Bills. If, as the supporters of Government said, these latter projects were calculated to inspire the people of Ireland with such an unprecedented confidence in their rulers—then, why not first try more lenient measures for the punishment of the disaffected, relying on the well-disposed and no longer distrustful portion of the community for co-operation and support. But tendering untried and partial measures of relief with one hand, and in the other wielding the sword of persecution, which had already been felt, and which was now raised to strike a more unrelenting blow than ever, this did, he confessed, appear to him the most contradictory policy. And here he would remark on a charge brought against the hon. and learned member for Dublin, both in that House and out of it. It was asked why did not the hon. Member co-operate with Government for effecting good? Why did he limit himself to prophesying evil results there, and labouring elsewhere for the fulfilment of those prophecies? Judging from what he had seen of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he 137 must say, never was charge more utterly unfounded. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman give an ungracious acceptance to the Irish Church Reform Bill? Let the House remember, that the threatening Speech from the Throne was still in the recollection of Irishmen, when the hon. and learned Gentleman received the Ministerial measure as a boon. It was true that measure conceded a principle for which the hon. and learned Gentleman had long contended, but the application of that principle was by no means so extensive as to preclude the possibility of a consistent demand for further concession on the part of a gentleman of his political and religious opinions. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman make the demand? No. Again, on the occasion of the right hon. Secretary's Bill, with reference to Grand Juries, a few evenings ago, was there any indisposition on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to meet the measure in the spirit in which it was brought forward? Certainly not. Then, let them, while legislating on this unfortunate, this momentous occasion, abstain—he would not say from misrepresentation, but—from ill-considered comments on the conduct of public men. After what had been so ably urged by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, with reference to the justice of previous inquiry, nothing surely remained to be said on that subject. Every principle of common sense, common fairness, called for that inquiry; and were high authorities requisite to enforce so plain a doctrine, what better authorities could they wish for than those so triumphantly adduced by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary the other evening? Could the noble and right hon. persons, whose recorded opinions were then quoted, invent any form of argument, or of sarcasm, to shake the great truth long since asserted by themselves,—namely, that punishment ought not to precede inquiry? And let him ask the right hon. Gentleman, if this so just request were refused, what chance was there of Parliament knowing any-thing at all upon the subject? For observe, this Bill, this desolating Bill Once passed, and the people to whom they now refused the justice of inquiry would be deprived of the right of petitioning. This right they were called on to take from the Irish people. Now, this appeared to him the most flagitious part of the Bill; yet it was consistent, it coerced without in- 138 quiry, and oppressed without appeal Would any English gentleman pretend that under any possible combination of circumstances he would submit to that? Would any gentleman from Scotland submit to it? If they would, the people of these kingdoms would not. They would not submit to the destruction of the Constitution; and he, for one, most calmly and advisedly declared, that in such a case, an unlimited despotism decreed as a primary measure, he would, as he trusted would the great majority of the gentry of England, take his stand, at all hazards, by the Constitution under which he had had the happiness to be born. And if a power so far beyond the law as the present Bill, were employed for the restoration of the law, that power he would only submit to so long as resistance was without hope of a successful issue. If that were, as he felt it must be, the calm and unimpassioned determination of Englishmen, was it less justly that of Irishmen, who had vainly sought for redress through centuries of intolerable wrong? He wanted to know where was the difference, or, if they presumed a difference, what became of the Legislative Union? Union! Why, if Ireland be bound to us by no better ties of Union than the chains here proposed by Government, in God's name let them grant the Repeal; and though they lost all things else, let them preserve their honour as a free people. His Majesty's Ministers might depend upon it that they were the great repealers. He would just state his own case. There were no reasonable or constitutional lengths to which he was not prepared to go in support of the Legislative Union; but if the passing of that Bill were necessary for its maintenance, then was he an anti-unionist. He would rather repeal that or any Union than crush an entire people, and his Majesty's Ministers would, ere long, discover that such a feeling was pretty general. He felt that, under whatever aspect this question was viewed, it was one deeply mournful as regarded Ireland, and, he was bound to add (if conceded), most deeply disgraceful as regarded England, Never was an all-powerful argument less reproachfully urged than that adduced by the Irish Members in support of their claims on the sympathy and justice of a Reformed Parliament. But for the Irish Members in the last Parliament, would the present reformed Parliament be sitting? Those who had set their hearts on the Reform owed much to Ireland in the persons of her Representatives. And what had Ire- 139 land gained by the Reform? she had gained nothing. She gave unlimited confidence, unqualified support, and for what?—it would appear, to lose the little she Lad before. She had lost, or was about to lose, all. She had lost her "long-sustaining friends of many years" in this country—the all-powerful advocates of civil and religious liberty—a principle on the predominance of which her hopes, so long deferred, had at length become fixed with somewhat of a more cheerful confidence. And why were those mighty voices heard no more? Were those eloquent lips closed for ever in the silence of the grave? Alas, no! But, whit the faint utterance of an irresolute will, they were, in the autumn of life, contending for the very doctrines which in the spring and summer of their days they had combated with all the energy of talent, and all the influence of station. The change was truly marvellous! Were, for example, a certain noble Duke, and the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, now directing the destinies of this country, and that noble Duke were to come down to Parliament for such powers as were demanded by the present Bill, would not the present Premier, with all his former eloquence, denounce the insolence that dared to outrage the country by so flagrant a demand? Would not the right hon. Baronet, in a similar case, have to encounter the thunders of Mr. Henry Brougham's irresistible invective, who, no doubt, would talk to us of "nations clothed in the panoply of freedom, whom neither duke this nor prince that would much to coerce or control?" Would not the right hon. Secretary himself, exerting those great debating powers by which he nightly assisted, and had so recently adorned, the deliberations of that House, resist the threatened inroad on the Constitution? Most assuredly all this would be; but those noble and right hon. persons were in office, and from that circumstance, and from that alone, not a voice was raised in behalf of Ireland in a certain assembly. In that assembly he ventured to declare, that a great political error had been committed in the indecent haste with which the Bill before them had been hurried down to that House. Who but remembered with what "laborious and compulsive flight" the hard-fought field of Reform—a measure which, as far as the enfranchising clauses went, was admitted on all sides to be called for—who but must remember with what "laborious and compulsive flight" that field was abandoned? And remem- 140 bering this, what must the conclusion in the public mind be, when they heard that in one short week the same assembly devoted, without a single dissentient voice, an entire people to unmitigated despotism? Why, a mere private bill, which, without touching a close borough, or any such important matter, should disfigure a lawn or spoil a view, would have been discussed with infinitely more care than that Bill of unprecedented rigour. What, he repeated, would the public say to this? Would they not infer, that in certain quarters, all measures were deemed worthy of discussion, except those of sanguinary rigour towards the people? But, be that as it might, they who were the Representatives of the people had a different duty to perform; and he for one thought that duty would be best discharged by wholly rejecting the Bill before the House. Let him not be charged with a wish to secure that most perishable of all possessions, popular favour and applause, because he felt bound to resist so gross an outrage on popular liberty. He came there as uninfluenced by popular excitement, and as far superior to popular control, as any Gentleman enjoying a seat in that House. But were a resistance to the present measure calculated to draw down as much of odium and execration as he felt must fall on the Bill itself, still he should unflinchingly resist it. He would never consent to the overthrow of the Constitution by intemperate and ill-considered changes, still less would be assent to its destruction by audacious and irresponsible tyranny—a tyranny which, in the words of one of the authorities quoted by the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, not even Russia itself could exceed. And, having mentioned Russia, he might here remark on the recent expedition to that country by a certain noble Lord. It was generally understood that one of the objects proposed to himself by the noble Lord was an expostulation with the Emperor with reference to his conduct towards Poland. That was every way praiseworthy; but how must the autocrat—an avowed and acknowledged despot, exercising the privileges of recent conquest—how must he laugh, in the bitterness of scorn, when hearing that in the British House of Commons, where, in an unreformed House of Parliament, and under a Tory Government, the walls had resounded within indignant execrations against his barbarity towards Poland—that within those very walls, in a reformed and liberalized Parliament, under a liberal Ministry, and under a Monarchy confined by definite 141 constitutional restrictions, that there they wore to pass a bill dooming millions of British subjects to worse than Siberian slavery. What a mockery of intervention was this! He trusted that the people of England would not, in a similar spirit, bestow-their sympathy solely on the negro, while this unhallowed work was going on so much nearer home. He trusted, that petitions from all parts of Great Britain would implore and warn the House not to annihilate the liberties of Ireland. The generosity and public spirit of Englishmen convinced him that it would be so. They and all lovers of law and order, would cheerfully support the Government with all reasonable powers, the necessity for which should be clearly shown; but they would never give the present or any other Government the power of establishing a despotism in a kingdom where freedom had long since become a necessary portion of political existence. He should, in conclusion, repeat the statement with which he had risen, that it was as an Englishman that he opposed this Bill. He knew not where, if once conceded, this frightful principle might be next applied. Had Ministers no recollection of a population agitated, in England and in Scotland, to so terrible a height that life and property were in hourly increasing peril? And how was that put down—by Martial Law? No; by special commissions. Did any man dare to talk to us of the wholesale incarceration and butchery of Englishmen? There was no person hardy enough for that; there was no precedent for it. But once pass this Bill, and vote for the re-establishment of ministerial despotism in Ireland, and with what face could Englishmen refuse the same power to the Ministers, should here, in England, agricultural and commercial districts be simultaneously in commotion, and the political unions evince a disposition to evil rather than to good? Even in such a lamentable state as that, would English Gentlemen vote away the Constitution at one fell swoop? Rather would he see every one of his countrymen fall at his own threshold in the desperation of civil conflict than submit to this measure, with its night searches, legalized burglaries, and the rest of its clauses, confounding the innocent and the guilty in one heartless scheme of coercion. As he would resist it for England, so would he resist it for Ireland. He did so because he wished to guard the Constitution of the united Empire from invasion; he did so because, on his solemn conviction, he felt 142 that if, instead of making atonement for all the wrongs and misgovernment inflicted by England upon Ireland since the destinies of Ireland had been in her hands, she were to go on increasing in rigour, coercion, and despotic oppression, as was proposed by this Bill, such measures must inevitably one day fall on herself with terrible retribution, unless, in addition to man's oblivion of humanity, Heaven itself should have forgotten to be just.
said, that though he was as sincerely attached as his hon. and gallant friend to the principles of rational liberty, he differed widely from him on the present question. None of the speakers on the Cither side of the House had dared as yet to controvert the statements made by the noble Lord and the right hon. Secretary below him [cheers.] Which of the Gentle-men who now cheered so loudly had dared to deny, that the murders of which they had recounted so frightful a list had been committed. He repeated, that he was as great a friend as his hon. and gallant colleague to the liberty of the subject; and to preserve that liberty in unimpaired vigour he was now prepared to vote for the first reading of this Bill. He thought that the bill was necessary for the pacification of Ireland—that deluded, misguided, and misgoverned country. He did not mean to deny, that Ireland had been a misgoverned country, but he hoped that when the conciliatory measures which were to accompany this coercive measure were carried into full effect, which they never could be whilst the present agitation lasted, she would find, that the day of her tribulation was past, and that bettor and brighter prospects were beginning to open upon her view. He should vote for this Bill, because it was intended to put down agitation; and he should vote for it, even if the preamble stated, that it was intended to put down the chief agitator himself. This Bill was not intended to put down the liberty of the subject. No; this Bill was intended to protect it [opposition cheers.] The Gentle-men who cheered him confounded liberty with licentiousness. Was it liberty to have the sanctuary of a man's home violated by the nightly incursions of the Whitefect? Was it liberty to have a man murdered on his own threshold? Was it liberty to have a wife slaughtered on the body of her murdered husband? Was it liberty to have a child deterred from giving the testimony which was necessary to bring the murderers of its parents to justice? "Rather let me 143 live" said the gallant Member "under any tyranny—rather let me live under the most absolute despotism, than in Ireland, or in any other country where such liberty pre-vails." A sharp measure was, in his opinion necessary for the pacification of Ireland, for the sooner these disturbances were put an end to the better would it be, not only for Ireland, but for the empire at large. He would vote for any measure which was calculated to subdue these disturbances and to restore the reign of good Government. He would put it out of the power of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and of any of that hon. and learned Member's friends, to agitate his country by passing a law which should place Ireland in all respects upon the same footing as England. Only restrain the passions of Ireland for a time, and she would soon begin to reap the benefits of an improved legislation. He said that advisedly, for to his knowledge many Gentlemen who supported the agitation of the hon. and learned member for Dublin in public expressed different opinions of it in private, and disapproved of it, as tending to check the progress of improvement in Ireland. Many of the Gentlemen whom he saw on the opposite benches had admitted that much to him in private conversation ["Name, name."] No, he should not name the hon. Members who had made such statements to him. He would, however, give the House a convincing proof of the truth of his statement, and that proof should be taken out of the mouth of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. At a meeting of the National Union, which took place on Saturday evening, the hon. and learned Member said "I have seen the cold-hearted sneers of many a false friend, and have had but fews cordial salutations. Wheresoever I directed my steps, coldness met me on my path." He did not know whether the hon. and learned Member had used those words but he found them attributed to the hon. and learned Member in a report of the proceedings of that meeting. He repeated that the evils produced by agitation in Ireland were so terrific as to justify him and other friends of liberty in exclaiming, in the language of the poet,—That, half a patriot, half a coward grownI fly from petty tyrants to the throne.He concluded by expressing a hope that the passing this measure would restore Ireland to a proper state of feeling, and put an end to the reign of terror which for months had prevailed in that country.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
thought the case laid before the House by his Majesty's Ministers, carried conviction with it of the necessity of the present Bill; and he rose—as the Representative of a numerous constituency, and as representing not only their feelings, but the feelings of the whole of the people of the north of Ireland—to express his and their concurrence in that measure. He had heard hon. Members from Ireland speak as if the Irish Members were confined to one part of that country, and as if the opinions of all Ireland were expressed by those Members. He had come from Ireland within the last few days, and he could say, that in the part of it where he was, all the property, all the moral worth, and all the integrity of the country, was in favour of intrusting his Majesty's Ministers with powers to put an end to the horrid state to which Ireland was reduced. It was not, however, for him to go into the details of the Bill; the present was not the proper stage to do so, nor should be pledge himself to agree to the measure as it now stood; but he would vote for it, and that because no period in the history of any country ever showed such a necessity for vigorous and strong measures as Ireland now did. He was not about to argue whether the pilot who steered the vessel on to the rocks, and among the shoals, was or was not ignorant or misguided, but all he urged was, the necessity for saving the ship by easing her, by cutting away her masts and rigging, and throwing her cargo overboard—and it could be done by nothing less. In the course of this debate he had heard a great deal about the liberty of the subject, and the tyranny that was going to be exercised in Ireland. Now, it was to get rid of the most odious tyranny which had ever existed, that he was prepared to intrust strong measures to the Grovernment of Ireland. If that Government wished to save Ireland from all the horrors of rebellion and revolution, it must put an end to the agitation which prevailed there—agitation of which the object was to goad on the peasantry to measures which could only end in their destruction. Hon. Gentlemen had spoken of the injustice of imposing upon Ireland a law which gave the right of nightly search in suspected houses; but they had not said a word of the nightly outrages of marauders, who burnt men in their beds, and 145 slaughtered them whilst they were unsuspecting of danger, merely because they followed the dictates of their own consciences. If his Majesty's Ministers were to present a Bill to put down by name the chief agitator, who goaded on the wretched peasantry to their own destruction, he would support it. They had heard the name of liberty prostituted night after night by the Members who spoke against the measure, in order to raise a feeling against the Bill; but he was convinced that the Bill would be the saving of that liberty. But, while he trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would use the power which it gave them with discretion, he must say, that no measure could be too strong, in the present state of the country. He could say, that in the northern provinces, the lower orders were almost unanimously in favour of the Bill. He repeated it—the lower orders were in favour of it; and it was only in those districts where factious men, for their own base objects, goaded the peasantry on to destruction, that any feeling had been shown against it. He acknowledged that the people were poor, and that they had been misgoverned; and the consequence was, that they were now reduced to such a state, that it became necessary to treat them as if they were maniacs, and apply strait waistcoats to them. He could not but admit that, in many parts, such was the wretchedness of the people in some districts, that they thought no change could be for the worse. He attributed much of the wretchedness to a system which had sprung up of letting land by-auction—a system by which the people were induced to give a larger rent than the land was worth. It was said, by the landlords, that they had no other way of judging of the value of the land. That he denied. They could get valuators and surveyors, who would give them an exact calculation of its value; and he thought that the landlords committed an error, the bad effects of which recoiled upon themselves, at the same time that it was ruinous to the peasantry. With these sentiments, and speaking not only his own sentiments, but those of the whole province of Ulster, he would close. He was not pledged nor fettered; he was not bound to give expression to sentiments which he did not feel. There were many, however, who spoke against this measure, who were 146 pledged to the Repeal of the Union, who were sent to that House to vote in a particular way, and had no power to vote otherwise—who came there as the mere slaves of a faction—as the Representatives of a mob, the organs of a bigotted Priesthood.
§ The Speaker
hoped the hon. Member would see that there was a difference between what he (Mr. Finn) considered good taste, and what the House considered out of order.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
proceeded—he begged to assure the hon. Member that he had not contemplated or intended to give him any offence, for he had not the most distant idea of alluding to the hon. Member; he only asserted what he believed to be the fact, that there were in that House persons pledged to certain questions, and he was, as he had a right to do, giving his sentiments upon such pledges: but if the hon. Member was so pressing, and if hon. Members would apply this general observation to themselves, he certainly, however he might regret it, could not prevent their doing so. He spoke as he was entitled to do, as the Representative of a loyal intelligent constituency, and their sentiments were decidedly that, protection to life and property was imperatively called for. In his own name, and as representing the feelings of the people of the north of Ireland, he would support this measure.
§ Mr. Barron
had never heard more extraordinary language than that used by the hon. Baronet. He (Mr. Barron) had the honour of being sent to that House by the people—by that class of the people to whom the late Parliament gave the power of sending Representatives to Parliament. He had aspired to a seat in consequence of three requisitions sent to him by the people of Waterford, and at their request he came forward. They knew his opinion before they elected him, but he denied that he had adopted those opinions in order to obtain a seat in Parliament. In giving his support to those who opposed this Bill, he did so, not from personal feelings, but from a sincere conviction of its dangerous tendency. He protested against the Bill, because it would infallibly cause a separation between the two coun- 147 tries.It would make the people of Ireland dissatisfied, and make them despair of ever finding justice in a British House of Commons. The discontent and dissatisfaction which before prevailed had increased very much since the Bill was brought in. He had received several petitions, to present against it, signed by men of property and honour, by good Whigs—by men who had always supported the present Ministers—by men who had never belonged to any secret or public association—by men who had fought the battles of Ministers—by men who had never been agitators, but always opposed to agitation; and they were all against the Bill. All his letters from Ireland expressed the same feeling. What was the Bill to do? It was to coerce the Irish people; but coercion had been already tried, and failed. That had been stated over and over again, and was well known in Ireland. It was so thoroughly known, that it had been stated at several public meetings, showing that the people were wiser than the Ministers. He would give the House a specimen of the opinions that were prevalent in Ireland, and would quote the language used by Mr. Berwick at a late meeting. The hon. Member accordingly read an extract, saying—"That the history of Ireland was the history of the failure of coercion. In 250 years it had been tried, and found insufficient; and even those who were its advocates, were obliged to confess by the present proposition, that it had been a complete failure; for the country was not even habitable." Was it not time, then, to change the system, and try if healing measures would not have a different and beneficial effect? They had given the Irish Catholic Emancipation, but that was not enough; that was the foundation of better measures, but it had not been built on. He denied—not with-standing the assertions of the right hon. Secretary—that disturbance was now greater than formerly. For seventy years—as he could show from public documents—Ireland had been disturbed, and frequently more disturbed than at present. The counties of Antrim, Down, and Londonderry, were much disturbed in the beginning of the reign of George 3rd, and required an Act of Parliament to put down the disturbances in them. The 11th and 12th of George 3rd were passed to put down disturbances; then they prevailed 148 in the north—now they prevailed in the south. He admitted that murders were committed now, but they were also committed formerly. In fact, a similar state of things to that which now existed, had existed fur the last seventy years at intervals; coercive laws had been frequently tried, and they had always failed. The Insurrection Act had been renewed several times, and the land had been governed under it for many years; but acts of kindness—acts for redressing grievance—were almost unknown. For what reason were they now about to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act? He saw no good reason, and he would never consent to place the power granted by this Bill, in any man's hands. He would place that power in the hands of the present Ministers as soon as in those of any men; but had They a patent for holding their places? Could they assure him that they would be in office that day six months? How was he to know who was to be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland six months hence? The Lord Lieutenant might be a good, generous man, or he might be a very bad man, and, therefore, he would consent to no such Bill. He was no prophet, and could not say who might be in the Ministry six months hence, but he would take care, as far as he could, that they should not have power to abuse. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended from 1793 to 1800; and from 1803 to 1806; and again in 1822; but that had not given tranquillity to Ireland. The Special Commissions, however, which had been sent to Clare and Queen's County, had restored tranquillity there; and if a second Special Commission had been sent to Queen's County, he had no doubt that tranquillity would have been completely restored. It was the opinion of Chief Justice Bushe, that the ordinary law was always sufficient to suppress disturbances, when it was vigorously executed. It had been sufficient to preserve the peace whenever firmly carried into effect. In Clare an insurrection was almost ready to break out; but two Assizes and one Special Commission had been found sufficient to put that down, and he believed that tranquillity was now completely established. That was the opinion of Chief Justice Bushe, as given in a charge to the Grand Jury in the latter end of 1832. He was ready, however, to grant additional powers "to put down disturbance, as 149 recommended by the Committee appointed at the instance of Sir Henry Parnell, whose absence from that House he deeply regretted. If that honest and upright Irishman had a seat on those benches, the present Bill, he was sure, would never be passed. That Committee only advised that the law should be strengthened; but the Ministry proposed to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and inflict Martial Law on the people. To justify that, the Government had made out no case whatever. They had only brought forward one instance of a Jury not having done its duty, and that was the doubtful case of Carrickshaugh. Upon that single case they justified their measures for changing the Venue and abolishing the Trial by Jury. Was that fair? Before they passed this anti-constitutional Bill, a strong case ought to be made out, which had not been done. To such a measure he never would give his consent. To show what was the state of the country, he would quote some unexceptionable testimony, not that of agitators, but of conservatives and men of property. He would quote the testimony of Colonel Rochford, who was a Conservative. He said, in his evidence, that there had been no difficulty found in conducting prosecutions—none whatever. He was asked if the Jurors were ill treated, and he said, that it was a rare circumstance. Why did not the Ministry act upon the report of that Committee? Was the evidence taken only to delude and betray? It was proved by the testimony of police Magistrates, and country Gentlemen, who had been brought over here to give testimony, and particularly by the testimony of Major Singleton, that the ordinary law was sufficient to repress disturbances. When it had been found that a Special Commission had repressed disturbances in other counties, why was not one sent to Kilkenny? He deplored the state of the country—he had never countenanced murder—far from him be such an act. He had never been in favour of outrages of any kind; he had never countenanced them in any manner; he wished them put an end to; but he thought the disturbances might be put an end to without this Bill. It would cause great mischief, and would not suppress outrage. It would promote irritation, and agitation, to a frightful degree. Already, since the Speech from the Throne, agitation had increased very much, and those who had 150 never been agitators before, had now become so. There was the case of Lord Miltown, who had joined the Volunteers. He was a man who had hitherto studiously abstained from politics—he was a good Whig, and since this Bill had been brought in he had joined the Volunteers. Similar effects had been produced in the county of Waterford. A Magistrate had written to him to say, that if the Bill were passed, he would resign his commission and leave the country. He would not be made the tool to administer such a law. The hon. Member then referred to documents to show that Tipperary, Waterford, and Kilkenny were tranquil. He quoted the testimony of Mr. O'Shea, the late Sheriff, and of a Mr. Power. They stated that everybody was against Lord Grey's Bill. That was the case with men who were good Whigs, and had been good Whigs all their lives. Every one was against it except the Conservatives, and a few people who suffered by the Whitefeet in Kilkenny. And was the Constitution to be suspended, because a few Whitefeet committed outrages? He was ready to give the Ministers power to put down these outrages, but not to suspend the Constitution. Doing that would only promote the cause of Repeal, and beget a deep rooted animosity against England. He believed that the Gentlemen who brought in the Bill were quite unconscious of what were likely to be its effects. The Bill might enable them to collect tithes for a short time, but it would not make the country tranquil. A Special Commission might do that in Kilkenny as well as Clare. The hon. Gentleman next quoted the testimony of a Mr. Power, of Baliydean, to show that Tipperary was tranquil, but that the people were all offended by the proposed Bill, He would deny that the county of Waterford was in a disturbed state. On the contrary, having an intimate acquaintance with that county from his boyhood, he could safely state, that it had never been more peaceable. At the last Assizes, the whole list of the gaol delivery of prisoners for every description of offence, contained only nineteen names. There certainly were some counties in a disorderly state—Queen's County, for instance, and Kilkenny; but Waterford, and many other counties, were perfectly peaceable. Ministers talked of the disturbed state of Ireland. Was Ulster, he would ask, in a disturbed state? Was Munster? No; and yet this was a province 151 with a population of 600,000. Was Limerick in a disturbed state? No. There had been, doubtless, some election disturbances; but had there been no election disturbances in England; or, indeed, had there been no other riots in England? Did not the House remember the dreadful stories told in the Tory Papers, in The Standard and Morning Post, of the "brickbat and bludgeon elections," as they called them? Did they forget the terrible riots at Bristol, at Nottingham? He did not mean to say that the outrages in Ireland, which had been enumerated to the House, had not occurred, but he did mean to say, that they had been frightfully exaggerated. He would not say that the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had wilfully exaggerated them, for he would not suppose for a moment that the noble Lord would have stated anything which he did not believe to be the fact, for the candour and manliness of the noble Lord were well known, but that they had been exaggerated, he had no doubt. He denied, that the state of those counties even, which, he would admit, were really in a state of disturbance, was at all such as to call for the atrocious modes of suppression contemplated in the Bill. He would, therefore, in treat the House to try less severe measures, and not suffer themselves to be persuaded out of the grant of powers so unconstitutional, so repugnant to the universal feeling of Ireland, and which would infallibly give rise to the strongest desire in the minds of every Irishman for the separation between the countries—a result which he himself should contemplate with the deepest regret, as he believed the Union to be highly beneficial to both countries. England required the raw produce of Ireland, and the latter country consuming the manufactures and the general produce of England, they thus assisted each other. He would not detain the House by reading other letters he had—but he had come forward with the desire of clearing up the misconceptions under which the House appeared to be labouring. He would again entreat the House to strike at the root of the evils of Ireland; not to countenance the atrocious coercive measures proposed by Ministers. He would call upon them to direct their attention to the subject of tithes and their appropriation. He would have them succour the poor, and take measures to 152 ensure their education. If they neglected those things, they would do nothing by coercion. The Protestant population in Ireland was but 500,000, yet these enjoyed an income of 8,000,000l or 9,000,000l. He would ask any hon. Member whether this was a just distribution of property? He trusted that this House would not pass the proposed measures with the indecent haste displayed by another House in passing them. He trusted they would allow time for due deliberation—that they would wait to see the result of the assizes in the disturbed counties. They would then be enabled to judge for themselves by facts, which would come before them in the course of the week. Would they not give the people of Ireland time to petition—to show cause against such a dreadful attack on them? Hon. Gentlemen should call to mind, that this was no common Turnpike Bill, but a declaration of war against a whole nation; and surely that nation ought to be allowed sufficient time to petition against it. If the House refused his very moderate request, they would deeply regret it. Were they to be told their duty—were they to be directed what course to pursue by the right hon. member for Tamworth—by that great Anti-reformer? Were they to allow themselves to be dictated to by a man who wished to make the Whigs as unpopular in Ireland as his own party was here? That hon. Member talked the other evening about a great gulf between him and the hon. Secretary for Ireland, and of the rubbish put forth by the Members for Ireland: he (Mr. Barron) supposed the right hon. Gentleman intended to fill up the chasm between him and office, with that rubbish, and to surface it over by his selfish sophistry; though he could not pretend to divine whether the right hon. Baronet was to go over to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, or the right hon. Secretary come across to him. Had the right hon. Baronet ever done any single act of good for Ireland? He had been twenty years in power, and he had done nothing whatever for the country; on the contrary, he had upheld popular dissatisfaction by means of corrupt Corporations, Orange Ascendancies, gagging Acts, and suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act. Were hon. Members in favour of such measures; or was Ireland to be governed in this way by both Whigs and Tories? There were many acts of minor detail 153 necessary to be carried into effect before justice could be done to Ireland, but the first and greatest grievance was the tithe system. At Doneraile, in the county of Cork, no less than 600 people had been dragged into Court for tithes only a week ago, and the amount of tithe due from each person seldom exceeded 6s. Though Cork was peaceable, yet if this system were carried on it could not be expected long to remain so—[coughing and "Question."] The hon. Member alluded to the evidence given before the Committee last Session, by Major Bryan, but the coughing and other discordant noises became so very loud that it was impossible to hear him. He had he repeated, a most disagreeable duty to perform, and he admitted that in the performance of it he had been tiresome, he had been irksome, but he had performed his duty, and having thus satisfied his feelings, he thanked the House sincerely for the attention they had accorded him.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
said, he was willing to believe, that it was with great pain that Ministers had brought before the House such a measure as the present. That pain, however, was not confined to themselves, for, on the contrary, it extended itself to the breasts of all those hon. and independent Members whom Ministers thus placed in a very serious dilemma. It was not now that, for the first time, he felt these sentiments, for he entertained them since the first hour when the unfortunate Address had introduced these measures in so mischievous a manner. As to those wretches who committed those culpable and atrocious acts which could not be palliated, he should not grieve if he could for an instant conceive the shadow of a shade of a possibility of a notion that to them only would the operation of these measures be confined; but, on the contrary, be was opposed to the Bill because it was quite as applicable to the innocent as to the guilty. The Bill before them had two objects; the first—that of putting down illegal associations; the second, that of repressing local disturbances in Ireland. On the second part of the Bill, he contended that Ministers had made out no case. With respect to the first, however, he entertained a different opinion, for be thought the Volunteer Association ought not to be suffered to exist. He did not mean to impute illegal motives to those who had 154 established the Volunteers, but he was decidedly of opinion that the existence of the Volunteers was inconsistent with the Constitution of the country. But was it to be the case that because the Volunteers were culpable, they should make Ireland pay the penalty? If they should bring in a bill applicable to the Volunteer Association alone, he should not object to vote for it. Ministers had called upon the House to grant this Bill, and had said, that Government would be responsible that its powers should be properly exercised. What, he would ask, was the amount of this responsibility? Let them go forward to next year, and suppose then that a case of peculiar hardship and oppression under this Act should be brought under the consideration of the House of Commons. He had no doubt that the good feeling which always actuated English Members towards Ireland, would induce them to cry out; "What a monstrous oppression!" It required, however, no great gift of prophecy to surmise or to declare what would be the result. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley) would inform the House that if they agreed to any resolution upon the subject, Ministers would consider such vote as a censure upon them, as being condemnatory of their conduct, and that under such circumstances, they would feel it necessary to resign their places. Neither did it require a spirit of prophecy to fortel the effect of such an announcement on the House. Every independent Member, though feeling the case to be one of gross hardship, would yet feel the importance to the country, of keeping the present Ministry in office, and the result would be, a large majority in their favour, that very majority feeling indignant at the hardship of the case, to which they could thus afford no redress. What responsibility, he should like to know, was there in this? Another reason urged for passing this Bill was, the confidence placed by the Government, in the character of the Irish Viceroy. He would ask, was it Lord Anglesey that was to put this Bill into force continually, or might not those who were to follow him pursue a course altogether different from that upon which he acted? It was said, that the Bill was chiefly directed against those who had entered into a conspiracy for the purpose of depriving the clergy of their property, but it evidently contemplated much more than that. In the course of 155 the speech which was made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he had omitted to explain why it was, that the Crown had in selecting the Jurors at the various trials, left on the Jury all those who were in favour of a conviction, and removed all those who were adverse to it. That was the sort of justice which the right hon. Gentleman followed in selecting the Tithe Committee. He composed it altogether of Gentlemen of one side. He was not disposed to give to the Government such a power as this measure would confer, when they did not avail themselves of the first moment of calm to effect a redress of real grievances. He must say with regard to the landlords of Ireland who had been charged by Sir Robert Peel, with neglecting the comfort and welfare of their tenants, that they were as honourable a race of men and as much attached to their tenantry as any landlords in Europe. With regard to the Bill for changing the venue, he should not oppose it if it could be fairly shown to him that in any one case Juries had been intimidated from doing their duty.
§ Mr. Lambert
said, there were two questions before the House—whether additional powers ought to be granted to Government, and whether the precise powers demanded were those best calculated to restore tranquillity? The speech of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, able as it undoubtedly was, threw no considerable light on the subject; it was too much occupied with personal invective, and two little with the sound views of a judicious statesman; that speech contained a melancholy statement of crime, but it contained no sentiment of commiseration—it communicated no hopes of relief, and gave not the slightest promise of the beginning of that retribution and compensation which should atone to Ireland for centuries of misgovernment. The condition of Ireland was, however, correctly described in the speech. It was with a feeling of deep humiliation he heard the record of atrocities detailed, which struck at the root of all social order in Ireland; and he acknowledged that the moment was come when it must be decided whether the King's Government or agitation should be put down. The system of outrage had extended into the county of Wexford, which he had the honour to represent—a county during a long period distinguished for the tranquil- 156 lity of the inhabitants, their industry, and obedience—and the system had not even what he should never consider as a palliation of crime, the existence of grievous oppression to plead in its defence. It was in fact, maintained solely by a set of miscreants and vagabonds. He would state one instance of their mode of legislation. They broke open the house of a poor man and placed him on his knees, ordering him to prepare for death. The man asked his offence: they answered, that he had spoken too freely of their proceedings, and shot him on the spot. His brains were then beaten out, and the mockery of sending for a clergyman was next gone through. Was it the constitutional rights of such ruffians the House was about to defend? To insist on maintaining the guard of law for men who trampled on all law, divine and human—who marked their enactments in characters of blood—was preposterous and absurd. Allusion had been made by a right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) to what he considered to be the unfeeling conduct of the landlords of Ireland towards their tenantry. He was sorry to say, that this charge was popular both in this House and out of it; yet he must observe, that it came with a very bad grace from the right hon. Baronet, one of whose measures the Act for the resumption of cash payments in 1819, had plunged the landlords both of England and Ireland into very great distress. On the subject of political agitation he meant to speak out. At present the public mind of Ireland was in a state of political delirium. There was generally in every village a little tyrant (or two) who called himself the people, and sent forth his mandates, prescribing how men were to think, speak, and act, declaring whom they were to receive and reject, and interfering in every action of their lives. He thought such a state of society anything but tolerable, and wished to see it put an end to. If local outrages were solely the things complained of, he would say, let Government put them down, as was done in England in the case of the Luddites, without asking for extraordinary powers. But when he saw the disturbances co-existent, if not connected with political agitation, such as now prevailed in Ireland, he felt that something more was necessary. He admitted there was no connexion between the movement and the murder party, but there subsisted a 157 third party, the revolutionary, which was in the habit of "sing the name of Mr. O'Connell for purposes which that Gentleman would be the first to reprobate, and this party talked in mild terms of the disturbers, and addressed them, if not in the language of approbation, at least without reproof. It had issued a conciliatory address to the Whitefeet, and how did the title run? "To the degraded, insulted and trampled-upon people of Wexford." The writer afterwards said, "I admit that you are in a most wretched condition; you are insulted and beaten down; but do not commit murder. It is a bad system—it is shocking and horrible—it is forbidden by your best friends." That was the manner in which the conciliatory party addressed the people. But he wished to observe, that the Bill ought to specify the particular crimes it was intended to punish. Instead of this, what had they? Open avowals that it was designed to enforce the payment of tithes; but he, for one, would never consent to such measures intended to secure the payment of tithes. On the contrary, he would protest against applying them to any but crimes and the unfortunate political agitation. With regard to Courts-martial, he could for himself declare, that if he were about to be tried for any political offence affecting his life or property, he would prefer a Court-martial to any local or other tribunal. But the people of Ireland entertained for the very name of that court so fixed and determined a horror, that nothing could reconcile their feelings to it. It would be vain to say to them, that the Courts-martial could try for no capital offence, that prisoners would have the aid of the Judge Advocate. Courts-martial were indelibly associated in their recollections with the horrors of 1798. If, then, any other mode of trial could be substituted for the formidable and hated Courts-martial, he would support it. The right of making domiciliary visits was one he regarded with much dislike. When he reflected on the species of persons who were formerly selected for such purposes, and on those from whom they would probably be chosen for the future, he thought it unreasonable to insist on searching the House, if any individual did not appear at the door when called on. Was it not sufficient that the person by not appearing should be subjected to heavy penalties? The outrages, 158 the violence which might be committed on those occasions, might not weigh much with the House; but would not the House save the inhabitants of Ireland from the bitter, galling, deadly insult which lacerated the heart. In his opinion, also, it was hard that no aggrieved person could obtain redress without appealing to the Attorney General. Why, would not double costs be sufficient? He had a painful but a paramount duty to discharge, and he would discharge it, though he knew the consequence would be, that he should be denounced in Ireland. The House would perhaps allow him to read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his: "If we are to live under a despotism, the honest and industrious people will suffer less, and prosper more, under the iron rule of an arbitrary Government, than under the yoke of impious and seditious vagabonds, who torment and precipitate the people to their destruction." With that sentiment he perfectly agreed. He would never consent to live under the despotism of confederated ruffians, or the searching, vindictive, self-constituted, and irresponsible power of political associations.
§ Mr. Emmerson Tennent
was desirous in contributing his support to the measure under the consideration of the House to state as briefly as possible the considerations which would induce him to do so—not from any vanity in supposing that the expression of his opinions would exercise any influence in forming the opinions of others, but because he would not wish to appear rashly, and without due consideration to decide upon a measure so momentous in its nature, and so very rare in its enactment. In travelling out of the ordinary course of legislation as it was proposed to do in the present instance, two considerations naturally forced themselves upon the attention of the House, the one, the conjuncture of affairs which rendered such a divergence necessary—the other, the efficiency of the contemplated measure for meeting that imperative emergency. On both these grounds he felt that he was perfectly justified in supporting the Bill now pending. After the exposition of the affairs of Ireland which had occupied, he might say exclusively, the attention of the House since the commencement of the preserit Session; after the statements which they had had not only from Gentlemen on that, the Ministerial side of 159 the House, but likewise from hon. Members on the other, respecting the anarchy, violence, and crime, which had lately characterised the state of society in that ill-fated country, he felt that no further observation was requisite to show that a crisis had arrived in the social and political condition of Ireland, not only unprecedented in her history, but even unexampled in the annals of modern Europe—for he might safely say, that with the exception of the brigands of Calabria, or the Kleftis of Albania, no one district of Europe could afford anything like a parallel for the present disorganised predatory condition of the south of Ireland. The statistical returns of crime in that country, presented a catalogue of offences not only appalling in their nature, but almost incredible in their extent—the rights of property seemed to be regarded with derision—human life, from long familiarity with murder, was looked upon with indifference—links that bound society were virtually dissolved, and social order had become in the south of Ireland but one conflicting, self-destroying chaos. But the evil did not even end there; for fearful as that picture was, it still remained to be told, that for that awful state of disorganisation they possessed in Ireland neither remedy nor protection. That salutary and controlling power which the state would exercise in other countries, had ceased to operate in Ireland; the authority of the Government was extinct; the force of the executive was controlled and evaded by the force and acts of the insurgents; the law, having ceased to be feared and respected, had ceased to be enforced, and,Our decrees Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead.They had laws, to be sure, in Ireland, but they existed only in the letter, a power superior to the law alternately enforcing and controlling them—to-day the mandate was issued for resistance, and to-morrow the "pacificator" was despatched throughout the land, to preach to the infuriated peasantry "thus far should ye go, and no further." With what opinion must the state of Ireland be regarded in the other countries of civilised Europe, when one individual could assume to say that he would effect that which the Government had been unable to accomplish—the tranquillisation of the country.—when he could virtually say "the law has failed, the 160 Government has failed, the provisions of the Constitution have failed, the civil force has failed—aye, even a military force has failed—but I possess an influence superior to the law, to the Government, and to the Constitution—I possess a power superior to the civil or to a military force, and my vicegerent shall accomplish that which the vicegerent of the King has found himself powerless to effect?" It was as a remedy for this unnatural state of disorganisation that he was prepared to support the present measure; as a measure tending to restore efficiency to the law, authority to the Government, security to the subject, and tranquillity to the country—as a measure tending to bring within the reach of the Constitution those who were now excluded by violence from its protection, and to bring within the control of the Constitution those who now arrogated and aimed at a power and an influence beyond it. He did not mean to deny, that the present state of anarchy and confusion might have been earlier checked, by the application of more constitutional measures than that now proposed, had circumstances admitted their introduction; that the first symptoms of discontent might have been appeased by the passing of measures tending to give labour to the unemployed, and food to the destitute; and that even its latter increase might have been arrested, and patience and subordination enforced by the vigorous exercise of those more constitutional powers with which the Government were already invested—but whether it arose from too great delay in the introduction of the one, or too great leniency exhibited in the application of the other, it was now a painful and an indisputable fact, that the evil had, at length, attained to such a height that in his mind, and he was sure in that of the majority of Members in that House, nothing save extraordinary remedies were now applicable to the extraordinary stage of the disease. That crisis, too, he was perfectly willing to admit had arrived, not through any want of sufficiently striking enactments against crime, but from a difficulty daily increasing, till at length there had become an impossibility of enforcing them. It was as a remedy for this glaring evil that he was inclined to favour the present Bill—not as enacting any fresh punishments for offences, but as giving action and effect to those which the law had already fixed. It was a principle established 161 from an early period, and supported by the authority of every writer of eminence on the science of legislation, by Montesquieu and Beccaria, as well as by Sir Samuel Romilly, and the late Reformers of the penal code, that human corruption arises more from the impunity of the offender than from the moderation of the penalty, and that crimes were more effectually prevented by the certainty than by the severity of punishment. It was in strict accordance with this sound and salutary principle, that in his opinion the present measure was constructed, for, on looking over the whole Bill, he could not discover that in any one particular it increased in any degree the penalties already defined for those offences, of which it professed to take cognizance, and that its general and indeed its only object was to give efficiency to existing enactments, and to enforce the observance of existing laws. It was at the present moment a matter of painful notoriety, that in Ireland the chances of impunity were as a thousand to one in favour of the most ferocious offender. Indeed the very depth and beinousness of his crimes served but to enhance the motive for their concealment, till at length the robber, the incendiary, and the murderer, could walk abroad with impunity, conscious that their victims dared not breathe their partial wrongs, lest peradventure a worse thing fall upon them; conscious that the Magistrates through partiality, or timidity, or fear, dare sign no warrant for their apprehension, and conscious that the tongue of the witness and the voice of the juror were alike silenced and suppressed by the threat of open violence, or the terror of some undefined but not less certain retribution. It was this barrier to the course of all justice, that the present measure was calculated to break down, and regarding it in this point of view, and he contended, that in none other could it fairly be regarded, he could only look upon it as a precautionary and a preventive, rather than a penal enactment, and as tending to reinforce and to support, but not to increase the severity of existing laws. But independently of these considerastions of expediency and utility, applicable to the country in general, the Representatives of the north of Ireland in that House were, in his opinion, imperatively called upon to support the present measure from motives of self-preservation, and on grounds peculiar to their own particu- 162 lar district. That district, with very few exceptions, might be said to be as yet free from the contamination of the political contagion which was devastating the south. But what security had they for the continuance of the exemption? Even whilst he was speaking, the poison had in some degree communicated, and its influence was beginning to develop itself in the north. The nightly visits of the White-feet had commenced in the county of Armagh; during the last few days, instances had occurred, in that hitherto peaceful district, of houses being broken open and murders attempted by midnight marauders in quest of arms. And what had the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Dublin—what had he said to them on a previous occasion, relative to the north of Ireland? Had he not told them that the Roman Catholics of the north to a man were arming themselves in secret, and had carried their organization to such a height, that the whole extent of that externally peaceful province had become but one "slumbering volcano," above which we were treading in fancied security. What arguments, then, more convincing could be adduced for impelling the Representatives of the north of Ireland to support his Majesty's Ministers on the present occasion, than those with which the hon. and learned Member had thus himself supplied them? Were they to go on blindly under the present system, deceptive and defective as this statement of the hon. Member had shown it to be, till the very mine of which he had charitably forewarned them was opening beneath their feet—or were they not called upon by the instant adoption of fresh and vigorous precautions to break the train, and to avert the fearful explosion? As they valued their personal safety then, the protection of their homes, and the security of their families, they were bound to come forward in support of the present measure. That security which the inhabitants of the north had hitherto enjoyed under the protection of the Constitution, the hon. and learned Gentleman had demonstrated was fast failing them, and nothing now, save the adoption of more determined and vigorous precautions, could protect the north from the contagion of the moral pestilence which was desolating the south of Ireland. The Gentlemen on the other side who were opposed to this measure had obviously 163 laboured to draw a wide line of distinction between the nature of the two kinds of disturbance which at present distracted Ireland; between that which is the result of misery and destitution, and that which arises from political discontent; between that which is attributable to lawless turbulence, and that which is attributable to systematic agitation; between the predial insurrection and the political insurrection, as the two had been severally denominated. Now, admitting this distinction in its widest extent. He could not conceive any possible reason why Gentlemen, who were friendly to the one should be so determined in their opposition to his Majesty's Government in putting down the other. The only inference deducible from such a fact must be, that if there were no open connexion there must be at least a concealed dependency between them, and that the continuance of the one, if it were not avowedly essential, was at least covertly favourable to the perpetuation of the other. But, on the other hand, if he could accept the disclaimer of the hon. Members opposite—if he could suppose their alarm was only sympathetic, since the same blow which laid prostrate the one, would, in ail likelihood, annihilate the other, if he could admit, that the hon. Members on the other side of the House were as anxious as the majority on that for the suppression of the predial disturbances, it followed, that concurring in the object, they differed only on the question of the means proposed by his Majesty's Ministers. And if, therefore, the sole grounds of their hostility consisted in dislike to the measure now under the consideration of the House, he begged leave to ask them with what other measures, with an appearance of like adaptation to the object, had they proposed to replace them? The present awful state of anarchy and insubordination in Ireland attested beyond a shadow of doubt, that the old machinery of the Executive had become defective, valueless, powerless. With what new machinery then did they propose to replace it? If he were to judge from the line of argument which they had adopted on the present occasion, he should be inclined to answer for them "with none." They stated, that the evil had not yet risen to such a height as to warrant this extraordinary interference. They stated, that crime was not even on the increase. The hon. member for Birming- 164 ham had asserted, that there was equal turbulence and agitation in Ireland twelve months, ay eighteen months ago; and another hon. Member had demonstrated by a statistical return, that offences against the peace were more numerous in 1827 than in 1832, and equal in extent and atrocity in 1830 and 1831, to what they had been in the year which had just closed. Even admitting, then, the accuracy of those statements, which he was inclined to dispute, he would simply ask how long was this system; even supposing it not to be on the increase—how long was it to continue? How long were they to continue to live on under this reign of turbulence and terror? If for three years, or for four years, or for seventeen years, as the hon. member for Waterford had just informed them, a widely-spread conspiracy had succeeded, in spite of all the exertions of the Government, in continually violating the public peace, and openly defying the law—when, he would ask, was the period to arrive at which the Legislature would be warranted in adopting new and more powerful expedients for its suppression? How many fresh murders did they want to complete the complement of blood? How many fresh burnings and burglaries—how many assaults and assassinations, were still wanting to justify the Government in adopting measures of protection and precaution, and for putting down political agitation? The House was already in possession of the remedies proposed by the hon. and learned member for Dublin. He had given a full exposition of the evils of the Grand Jury system—of the Church and County Cess—of the enrolment of partizan police—of the com-missioning of party Magistrates—of the exclusive appointment of Protestant Assistant Barristers—of the dependency of the Irish Judges on the Government—and lastly, of the interminable train of diseases which the opening of that box of Pandora, the legislative Union had let loose on devoted Ireland. Reform in many of these would, he fully admitted, take away much of the grounds of political agitation, but how could it possibly affect the predial agitation, of which they now complained Would the robber be turned aside from his pursuit to listen to the injustice and jobbing of county Grand Juries? Would the murderer pause above his victims for lectures on the Protestant monopoly of legal appointments?—or the 165 incendiary be diverted from his object by strictures upon the salaries and nepotism of the Irish Judges? Attention to matters such as these might serve to disarm the political agitation, but could never reach the evil against which the Government was now directing its authority. Again, the hon. member for Colchester had opposed the present measure, on grounds drawn from a comparison between the state of crime in that country, and in Ireland. Violence, he stated, and excesses had within the last two years attained to a greater height in England than they had yet done in Ireland, we had had there no city pillaged and consumed like Bristol, no castle plundered and consumed like Nottingham, no one county in which agrarian insubordination had attained so fearful a height as it had lately done in Hampshire. Yet, because the Government had not found the necessity of adopting similar measures to the present in England, the hon. Member contended, that they could not be requisite for Ireland. Then, the hon. member for Meath had taken up a similar position with the member for Colchester; he, too, had appealed to Nottingham and to Bristol, and he had answered the query why the Government had not adopted such measures, by saying, that it was, because the evil was but local and partial in its extent, and consequently he asked, by a parity of reasoning why the Government would not abstain from introducing them into Ireland where the evil is but local and partial likewise. The premises of the hon. Gentleman were incorrect, and consequently their conclusions were erroneous. It was not because the evil in England was not fearful in its nature, and extraordinary in its amount, that his Majesty's Ministers had not adopted extraordinary expedients for its suppression. It was not, as the hon. member for Meath had supposed, because it was but local in its extent, and partial in its influence, that the Government had not gone beyond the ordinary forms of law presented by the Constitution. It was because the provisions of the law, as it at present exists, were found adequate to the emergency, that they did not find themselves under any necessity of resorting to provisions beyond them. It was because at Bristol, and at Nottingham, and in Hampshire witnesses, were found to bear their testimony, and Juries to convict upon it—because it was 166 found that criminals could be speedily and effectually brought to punishment—be-cause the laws could be enforced, and justice vindicated by the ordinary means, that they abstained from any extraordinary expedients. A misconception seemed to exist, not only in that House, but likewise beyond it, relative to the nature of the necessity by which Ministers seemed to feel themselves impelled to the adoption of their present course. Hon. Members seemed to consider that it was the amount of crime in Ireland which was to be the criterion, when it was, in reality, not the amount, but the impunity of offences, which constituted the impelling motive. Fearful as the catalogue of offences was, which night after night had been read in that House, it might be doubled, nay, it might be even trebled, if the imagination could conceive so awful a state of society; and still so long as it could be demonstrated that the ordinary powers of the law could punish and suppress them, there would exist no necessity for stepping beyond the provisions of the Constitution. But, diminish the amount of crime as much as possible—reduce it to the minimum of offence of which the law is bound to take cognizance—and the instant it can be shown that the law had not the means to reach, or the authority to correct it, that instant the public safety demands that it should be invested with fresh powers for the vindication of justice, and the protection of the subject. If it were, as he believed it was, the first duty of a state to provide for the protection of its subjects, never was there a crisis at which the Government of Great Britain was so loudly called upon to exercise that duty as the present. They were in the habit of hearing, in that House, much of the massacres of the people by the yeomanry—much of the atrocities of the partizan police—much of the blood which has been spilled in Ireland; they had a fearful, and, he doubted not, a faithful detail of the dying sufferings of every unfortunate wretch who fell in the face of day, in conflicts with the forces of the Government; but they heard little of the living sufferings of the miserable peasant who was forced to retire with his children in terror to his rest within his miserable hovel, whose roof presented but little shelter, and whose hingeless door afforded no protection—they heard but little of the anxious throbbings of his heart through- 167 out the livelong night, who fancied in every blast an enemy, and in every footstep an assailant—they heard but little of the wailings of her whom the midnight murderer had robbed of her protector, or the woes of those whom the knife of the White boy assassin had deprived of a fireside and a friend. They heard but little of the alarms of those who were compelled to be daily associates of murderers, with the hourly apprehension of becoming their victims—they heard but little of the indignant feelings of those who, day after day, must meet face to face, the assassins of their relatives, or the oppressors of themselves, yet were compelled to silence by the example of their fate, and forced to forego their claims to justice, and their rights to retribution. It was from hearts like those, that the present measure would lift a weight which was crushing them to the earth. To how many thousands, nay, he might say to how many millions in Ireland would the announcement of the passing of this Bill come like a reprieve from execution, like a release from torture—its effects would be in Ireland like the outstretching of a hand to wake her to a sense of real security from the horrors of some hideous dream. But let the House beware of deceiving themselves—even when this measure should have performed its object when it should have effected that which he believed it speedily and effectually would effect, the transqualation of the country—let the House not then suppose that the work was completed. That step, great and important as it was, was but the forerunner to those other measures, the introduction of which could alone give that tranquillity permanence. The immediate and moving cause of all the turbulence which distracted Ireland was poverty. He said, of all the disturbance, for he looked upon the predial agitation as but the embryo of the political agitation, and he believed that the "fiercest agitator" who ever went abroad upon his mission would fail of his object, had he not brains maddened by misery, and hearts rendered reckless by want, as his materials to work upon. Elevate the condition of the people; give labour so far as it could be given to the two or three millions who might be said to but cumberers of the ground in Ireland; supply food to those who were starving; provide a permanent support for the helpless and the infirm—and the occupation of the agitator would 168 be gone for ever. It mattered little by what expedient this was to be effected—whether by Poor-laws or otherwise; but until it was accomplished—until that principle was in active operation, until the Irish peasant had the means of procuring at least sustenance and clothing, the reign of agitation would be perennial in Ireland. He (Mr. E. Tennent) had trespassed too long upon the patience of the House. He apologised for it, and thanked them for their indulgence. He was no advocate, as he had already stated, for severity in penal legislation, and he supported this measure, because he looked upon it as a preventive and precautionary, rather than a penal enactment. He was a friend to liberty—to rational liberty—to that liberty which, as Burke said, was "not only coexistent with good order, but which could not exist without it;" and he supported this Bill, because he believed in his soul, that its immediate tendency would be to restore liberty, security, and good order in Ireland. From many of its details, he dissented in toto—but his disapprobation of these, he could for the present merge in his approbation of the majority of its provisions; and reserving to himself the right of questioning their propriety at the proper time, in the committee, he would now testify his approval of the principle, by voting for the first reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Fitzgerald
As a representative of one of the counties in Ireland, to which particular allusion had been made in this debate, and as one of those which the right. hon. Secretary for Ireland states is in a state of disturbance beyond the ordinary powers of the law to put down, I hope I may be allowed to claim attention to detail a few facts to rescue it from this unjust imputation, and to place it in its true position before the House and the country. The right hon. Gentleman has given a recital of crime in Ireland, which must create horror in the mind of every man; but I followed him in his various details, and all that he has charged to the county of Louth amounts to this.—Two letters containing general assertions, and not of recent date, some windows broken, and one witness and a Juror being prevented by fear from doing their duty. Now, Sir, as to the windows, I fully admit it, and a good deal more; for there was, I regret to say, much outrage done in plundering arms and private property; but I do say, thank God, that no crime of 169 a sanguinary or a murderous nature was perpetrated there. These outrages were, however, suppressed by the application of the Peace-preservation Act, and I have the best authority to say, that the county is restored to tranquillity and good order. In admitting this, I must, at the same time, deny, most positively, that any juror was ever prevented, by fear, from attending to do his duty, and to assist, where necessary, to punish the guilty. Sir, it is a calumny against the county, for it has been ever distinguished for fearless and honest jurors—it abounds with a spirited and a wealthy yeomanry, who may vie with those of any county in the empire, and who, in the worst of times, when the Judges thought it necessary to travel with military escorts, anxiously came forward to assist the majesty of the law, and maintain the purity of Trial by Jury. I cannot do better than quote a few words from a petition I have to present to this House from a district of the county—it states, "that in answer to a charge reported to be made by his Majesty's Ministers, as a ground for coercive measures, they beg to state and maintain, that the due administration of justice has not been obstructed in this county, within the memory of the oldest inhabitants, by reason of any difficulty to obtain fearless and independent Juries to try offences on all occasions." This is, Sir, the case at present, and I wish to dwell on it as the want of Jurors is a principal reason alleged for asking for this unconstitutional, this abominable measure. The outrages I have alluded to had their origin in the following manner: About eighteen months ago, a large body of labouring men turned out for increase of wages, and for lowering rent, and became very numerous, and created alarm; the magistrates and farmers had several meetings, and, finally, the cause of complaint was removed; but just at this time, the great and principal grievance of Ireland, to which, in my conscience, I-attribute all the disquiet, outrage, and murders that have so unhappily occurred, came under the consideration of this House, and hopes were held out from the lips of the right hon. Secretary, that this great evil would be removed for ever, (for I defy his words at that time to be construed otherwise); all was joy and consolation, but it was short indeed; and in proportion as the disappointment was great and unexpected, so was the irrita- 170 tion increased; and there being naturally amongst the labourers already alluded to, some of the very lowest, the mere rabble, advantage was taken by them of this event, and bands of ruffians were certainly formed, but not exceeding, as my letters tell mc, 100 in all, who did commit outrages to a great extent in a portion of the country; but the law as it stands has been fully equal to suppress them, and the people are returning to a sense of their duty, by sending back the arms they plundered, and which they took with the expressed intention to oppose the payment of the tithes. I have letters from two of the Deputy-lieutenants of the county, confirming this statement, and coming from such authority, it must remove all doubt on the subject. The first is from Mr. O'Callaghan, and he says, "There is nothing here but additions to the police force, yet I never knew, with a few exceptions, this quarter of the country less disturbed. Sir Patrick Bellow, from whom I had a letter a day or two since, says the same for his part of it." The other is from Mr. Taaffe, and he says—'You will be glad to hear the country is getting peaceable; in this part of it outrage has much diminished since it has been put under the operation of the Peace-preservation Act, and this goes to prove that the law as it now stands is quite sufficient without the application of any uniconstitutional powers—if there is only common justice done to Ireland, you will hear no more of the Repeal of the Union; but the King's Speech, coupled with Mr. Stanley's first speech, went further to make men repealers, (who were not so before), than anything that has yet been said or written on the subject.' I hope I have now, Sir, maintained my position, that the county Louth, one of those on which the right hon. Secretary rests his case, does not bear him out in it, and that it is not deserving the stigma endeavoured to be cast upon it. I have admitted, the people have committed outrages in Louth, and it is, therefore, my equal duty to mention, that outrage has been committed upon them also. It is only within three or four months that two poor men were committed to the gaol of Dundalk for a simple assault, at the Pattern of Omeath, in July last, and kept in prison for nearly six weeks, though bail was tendered over and over again. The assault was, to be sure, on the Magistrate's brother who took 171 the informations, which does not, in my mind, lessen the circumstances of the case, but rather otherwise. He refused to take bail, but referred them to another bench, who, properly enough, perhaps, sent the bail back to the original Magistrate; the same thing again, occurred, and so on; and thus a game of shuttlecock was played, while the poor unfortunate men were kept nearly six weeks in prison, and deprived of the means of earning daily bread to support their families. In this state I happened to arrive in Dundalk, and as the bail was not that day ready, and I was going to Dublin, I thought it most prudent to state the affair at the Castle. The right hon. Secretary was in England, but I saw Sir William Gosset, and Counsellor Greene, who were shocked certainly at this unwarrantable confinement, ordered a liberation forthwith, and said, the Magistrate had subjected himself to a severe action at law. But I do know (though I certainly did not ask it, nor think it my duty to do so), that an inquiry on the part of the Government was expected, and would have given more satisfaction than any vindictive law proceedings. There is another case, that of a policeman of the name of Campbell, who after a dispute at a public house in Carlingford, with a countryman named Murphy, went deliberately to his barracks for his arms, returned to the House, and stabbed his victim to death. He was tried—escaped the capital part of the charge by a miracle, but was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. No sooner, however, was he released than he was reinstated in the police as a deserving subject, and sent to the south of Ireland. Is it to be wondered at, therefore, that the people of Ireland should be discontented and cry out against their grievances? Do common justice to her first, and then treat her with rigour if the peace of the country is disturbed, or the laws are outraged. If a single opinion is worth anything towards removing their grievances, I will say to the right hon. Secretary that the hatred to the payment of that obnoxious impost, the tithes, is so deep-rooted, that without their total abolition, he can never legislate for Ireland with good effect, or with a due regard to the tranquillity or safety of the empire. Let the measure before the House be decided on inquiry. It is of too serious a character, and involves too important con- 172 sequences to be treated otherwise with propriety, and I shall decidedly vote for the amendment of the hon. member for Lambeth. Every day in the mean time will bring the official results of the assizes now going on in Ireland, and the House will then, at least, be better able to judge of the necessity of this despotic Bill. For my own part, I candidly say, that nothing short of open rebellion, and the country in possession of a foreign enemy, would ever reconcile me to its arbitrary features, and therefore, I again say, I shall vote against it in all its stages.
said, that after what had fallen from the hon. and learned member for Tipperary (Mr. Sheil) on a former night, he felt himself bound, in justice to himself, and to those with whom he acted, to address a few observations to the House. That hon. Member had asked him (Lord Duncannon) how he could support this Bill, and also whether he could state, that the increase of crime in the county of Carlow had been such as to render such a bill necessary there. Now, he was ready to say that he felt it his duty to give his support—his reluctant support—to the present Bill; and also that he could state that the increase of crime in the county of Carlow had been so great, as would appear from the official return made to him since he had been appointed Lord-lieutenant of that county, as to justify and render absolutely necessary the application of such a measure there. In fact, it would appear from that return, which he would read to the House, that the increase of outrages in the county of Carlow had been as great as in any of the most disturbed counties in Ireland, with the exception of the county of Kilkenny. The return which he was about to read embraced the four quarters of the last year up to the 1st of December 1832, and the two months of December and January that had since elapsed. This return, he begged to observe, had been made to him (Lord Duncannon) by the chief constable of police in the county of Carlow. ["Hear," from Mr. Sheil.] The hon. and learned Gentleman cheered that statement, but surely the hon. and learned Gentleman must bear in mind, that it was only through the chief constable of police in that county that he could have possibly received such a return. It appeared from that return that the number of outrages committed in the county of Carlow in the first quarter, 173 commencing the 1st of December, 1831, was forty-six; in the second quarter, ending the 31st of May, eighty-nine; in the third quarter, ending the 31st of August, sixty-eight; in the fourth quarter ending the 30th of November, 116; and that in the two months that had just elapsed, namely, December, 1832, and January, 1833 he would take the two months because the quarter was not yet elapsed), the number of outrages that had taken place in that county had amounted to 413. He would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Tipperary, that the county of Carlow was about the smallest, if not the smallest, county in Ireland; and, furthermore, that the Roman Catholic bishop who presided over the diocess in which that county was situate had used his utmost exertions, and used them successfully, too, within the last two or three months, to put down Whitefeet outrages there. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked whether there were any circumstances to which he (Lord Duncannon) could speak from his own personal knowledge, that would induce him to give his support to this Bill. Now, he did not certainly support the Bill merely upon the official return of the chief constable of Carlow which he had just read to the House, but having resided during the greater part of the last autumn in Ireland, principally in the county of Kilkenny, from what he had then seen he had made up his mind to support such a bill as this; and he was then convinced that some such measure was absolutely necessary to afford protection to those who had a right to demand it. He could assure the House that, stating what he was about to state, he would mention nothing that had not come under his own personal observation, and to which he could speak from his own personal knowledge. It was, in the first place, his firm belief, from what he had seen, that many, if not most of the respectable farmers in the lower part of the county of Kilkenny—farmers who had held their lands for ten, fifteen, or perhaps twenty, years, had received notices from the White feet to give them up, and that several of them, alarmed by such species of intimidation, had actually done so. He could speak to the effects of such intimidation in the instance of several of his own tenants in the lower part of the county of Kilkenny. He had no difficulty in mentioning the fact, as his tenants had 174 waited upon him in a large body, stating that a number of them had received notices from the Whitefeet, (and certainly the majority of those tenants had held their farms for at least twenty years), ordering them, under dreadful threats, to give them up to the persons who had held them twenty years before, and that they were anxious to do so in order to escape the outrageous attacks upon the persons and properties that were sure to attend their refusal to obey the commands of those ruffians. He (Lord Duncannon), however, prevailed upon them to retain their farms, and he used his utmost exertions, in which he was actively assisted by the priest of the parish, in endeavouring to prevent the effects of those menaces which had been held out against his tenants for taking his advice. He was sorry to say, that their exertions failed. The consequence of his tenants retaining their farms was, that their houses were burnt, their cattle were houghed, and in the end he was obliged to receive their lands from them. But let not the House suppose, that in doing so, he had given over his land to those to whom the White feet had directed that it should be given. He converted the whole of it into waste land, and he was obliged to keep it waste still, in order to prevent others from living upon it. Such was the system of outrage and violence, that prevailed in that county, and such was the state of fear in which the respectable farmers were kept, that they were afraid not to obey even the most unreasonable orders of those midnight marauders. He had several notices brought to him by his tenants, which had been served upon them, in which not only a certain price was fixed for the land, which the landlord was to take, but they were menaced in the most dreadful manner, with destruction to themselves and their families, if they dared to give more for it. He could also state that, in many instances, respectable farmers, tenants of his own, who had been called upon to serve as jurors, had waited upon him for the purpose of seeing if he could get them excused, and they had stated that, if they were called, one of two things must happen—either that they must do their duty, and thus expose themselves and their families to destruction, or pay the penalty of 10l. or 20l. inflicted by the Sheriff. The fact was, that at the present assizes for Kilkenny, the Sheriff had received so many notices of 175 inability to serve on the part of Jurors, that he had found it necessary to summon them under an increased penalty of 50l. It was because he (Lord Duncannon) thought that such a state of things ought not to continue—because he thought that protection should be afforded to the helpless and the guiltless—because he thought the outrages of midnight marauders and ruffian murderers should be put down, that he should support, most reluctantly indeed, but at the same time, notwithstanding what had fallen from the learned Gentleman, most firmly, the present Bill. He thought, however, that in justice to himself he should say, that he did so upon the clear understanding that this measure should not be applied to the enforcement of the collection of tithes; for he believed that the efficacy of the measure would be altogether destroyed if the people of Ireland were not sure that it would never be applied to such a purpose. From the observations which had been addressed to him by several Members of that House, since the speech delivered by his right hon. friend the Secretary for Ireland, he must say, that what his right hon. friend had said upon that point had been much misunderstood. He should be unfit to live in a civilized country if he did not say, that there should be protection for every clergyman, for his family, and property, as well as for every other individual. Most gentlemen in Ireland had seen the notices that had been posted up in different parts of the country. He had one, which had been forwarded to him that day. it would convince the House of the sort at menaces used, and that what he had heard once or twice in the course of the debate was not the fact—that these notices emanated from the most illiterate persons. It was addressed "To the parson of——he should not read the name of the parish, nor the name of the clergyman, which was afterwards mentioned, but the House might rely on the authenticity of the paper; he knew that it had been taken down from the Church-door:—' You are called on by the Lord Lieutenant to pay the arrears of tithes for the year 1831; beware how you act in this case; the eyes of the people of Ireland are upon you; now or never; this is the time for you to stand out manfully, in common with the rest of your fellow-countrymen. Remember that Ireland in 1832 is not the same Ireland as in 1798. Gibbets, and pitch- 176 caps, and triangles, were then the order of the day, from one end of the kingdom to the other. Thank God! the day has arrived when the good sense and energy of the people have put a stop to the proceedings of our unprincipled rulers. We are informed that a few of your parishioners have paid the parson; we are acquainted with their names and persons; and let them depend on it, if they do not give satisfaction why they have done so, that some visiter in the shape of "Swing," perhaps, will before long, bring those people to a proper sense of their duty To the parsons we would say, beware how you be made an instrument in the hands of a Government that is detested by a majority of its own subjects. Remember, that when the Peelers are slumbering in their barracks, or Lord Anglesey carousing in the Castle of Dublin, the people will be at their posts. You, parsons, if you persist in goading the people, may meet your fate when you least expect it, and that without even seeing the hand-writing on the wall to forewarn you of your doom. Take this as a last and friendly warnings Signed by order—A Tithe-hater. This prediction had been fulfilled; six or seven persons had met their doom when they least expected it, in the open day, and before multitudes of people. A notice of this sort could not be disregarded by any man; if he did disregard it, he met the fate pointed out. The only way, therefore, of protecting life and property was by some such law as that proposed. He might be asked whether this Bill would produce permanent tranquillity in Ireland? He did not think it would, but it would afford time to redress those grievances under which the people suffered, and which had been promised to be redressed by every government in Ireland since he had had a seat in that House. Many of these subjects had been brought before the House by his right hon. friend, but, unless there was an abolition of the tithe system, he never hoped to see tranquillity in Ireland; and though the difficulty might be great, he was confident that Parliament must turn its attention to some provision for the poor. He begged pardon of the House, but he had been anxious to enter into this explanation in consequence of certain imputations of a difference of opinion between himself and his right hon. 177 friends near him upon these topics, having been thrown out on a former evening.
§ Mr. Buckingham
addressed the House in opposition to the Bill, as was under-stood, for the unwillingness of the House to hear the hon. Member was so great, and the noise so much, that it was impossible to catch the purport of his remarks. It was ascertained that he objected to confiding such large powers to the Government, that the best way to strengthen a Government was to convince the nation that it was just, that the Irish were a generous and confiding people more likely to be affronted than reconciled to the Government by a law such as that proposed, and that the surest and most effectual method of putting an end to outrage was to do justice to the people of Ireland. The hon. Member at length observed, that if the House would not permit him to proceed, he should move an adjournment, which he accordingly did, and on its being seconded,
The Speaker put the question as an Amendment.
§ Lord Althorp
thought it somewhat unusual for an hon. Member to attempt to adjourn the business of the House, merely because he was not attended to quite so much as he wished. If the hon. Member had had more experience in the House, he would not have proposed to adopt such a course. For his own part he heard perfectly well what the hon. Member said. He hoped the hon. Member would not persist in his Motion.
hoped the hon. Member would be heard with attention. He thought the candour of the noble Lord might have admitted that there was some disturbance while the hon. Member was speaking. Though he had been listening, he had not heard three sentences, and many on his side of the House were in the same situation. He considered half-past eleven too early for an adjournment. They had heard those who supported the measure, and it was right to hear those who opposed it. He concluded by advising Mr. Buckingham to withdraw his Motion. He might renew it if the House did not listen to him.
§ Mr. Buckingham
said, he should be happy to resume his speech. He expressed his decided hostility to this Bill on various grounds, but more particularly to that portion of it which substituted Courts-martial for the ordinary tribunals of the country, 178 as he thought that crime could be as fully and more constitutionally repressed by the one than the other. It was besides a measure as applicable to this country as to Ireland; and if they permitted it to pass into a law in the one instance, they knew not how soon they might be called upon to do so in the other. He objected also to the extraordinary powers which the measure gave to Lord-lieutenants, military officers, and others, because he was well aware how liable those powers were to abuse. On these grounds he would oppose the Motion.
§ Mr. Ward
said, the proposal to adjourn the House at half-past eleven came with a very bad grace from the hon. Member, who had proposed to limit the time of each Member's speaking to a quarter of an hour, when he had himself exceeded that time. How had the brunt of the debate been allowed to fall on the minor fry of debaters (of which he allowed that he was one)? The Opposition attempted in vain to obscure a subject, over which the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had shed so overwhelming a flood of light. He should state the reasons why he disapproved of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, the member for Lambeth, and approved the main principles of the Bill brought in by his Majesty's Government. But for what had fallen from the hon. member for Waterford, he should have thought that what had been said by a right hon. Baronet would have been sufficient to show that a more palpable evasion of the question had never been submitted to a deliberative Assembly. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had challenged the production of proof of the necessity of this measure at the bar, and pledged himself to refute it; and nothing was apparently more candid. But they knew, that evidence could not be given honestly at the bar of that House, without the destruction of the party who gave it. He would be denounced, proscribed, and compelled to pass his life an exile from his country. It would not be in the power even of the hon. and learned member for Dublin to save him or to quell that spirit which sprung from the agitation of which he was the centre. It was most important for Irish Members to know that there was no indisposition in that House to do justice to Ireland, and to listen to their arguments; but every English Member must be convinced that this measure 179 was called for, unless they wished to see the dismemberment of the empire. It must be admitted that this Bill suspended all the constitutional rights of the people, but still the measure was necessary. Measures of coercion alone, however, were not sufficient; yet, at the same time, if there was even a state of things in which remedial measures alone were useless, that state existed in Ireland. When it was said, that this was a gagging Bill, he entreated Irish Members to think better of that House and the Government. That was not the feeling under which English Members voted; they would not give one particle of power to his Majesty's Ministers unless they thought they intended to grant redress to Ireland, which would alone give efficiency to this Bill, They wished redress to accompany coercion, for in that lay the difference between the conduct of the Reformed Parliament and the Grey Ministry, and the Polish delinquencies of the emperor of Russia. The Government stood pledged to grant a Reform in the Church, in the Jury system, and in the Corporations of Ireland. The hon. and learned member for Dublin would find him ready to vote for any measure which he brought forward for the benefit of Ireland, provided he showed a little good faith to them—he meant nothing invidious. Let him pursue a really useful course, and agitate for the benefit of his country, abandoning that phantom, which would always elude his grasp, the Repeal of the Union. In that object not a man amongst them, the English Members, he hoped, would follow him. Nothing should induce him (Mr. Ward) to vote for a measure which was fraught with national degradation and national misery.
§ Mr. Bayntun
said, as he should shortly be called upon to vote on this most important question, if he did not with regret pursue a different course to what he generally had followed since he had a scat in that House, in opposing his Majesty's Ministers, he should not have offered any observations to the House, knowing, as he well must, that most other hon. Members would be listened to with greater attention than he should. He should, therefore, state as concisely as possible, the reasons why he should support the proposition of the right hon. member for Lambeth, which, if carried, would amount, he thought, to a defeat of this measure. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the 180 right hon. Secretary for Ireland, in his able and most eloquent speech of the first day's debate, stated to the House that the sole justification the Ministers of the Crown could give to the country for the proposition they offered, was the ground of a stern and arbitrary necessity—a necessity which left them no alternative but to make this application to Parliament to give them powers beyond the law, to provide for the security of the life and property of the subject out of the confines of the Constitution. Now, let the House see how they had attempted to prove this proposition:—by detailing any overt acts of treason, or civil conspiracies, or rebellions in Ireland, levelled against the dominion and sovereignty of the Government? No; but by exhibiting a long catalogue of offences and crimes, murders, midnight burglaries, burnings, and illegal notices, which unquestionably had been perpetrated, but which the regularly constituted tribunals, with the assistance of the gentlemen of Ireland, were, he believed, sufficient to quell. That crimes existed in Ireland to a tremendous extent—that burglaries and midnight assassinations were mightily on the increase—was, perhaps, unhappily true; but let him ask every thinking man to what were these horrors to be attributed? Why, the noble Mover of the Address to his Majesty, on the first night of the Session, had anticipated one answer. He said Ireland had been oppressed by centuries of misgovernment, and this assertion was not more borne out by fact, than by the circumstance of that sort of tardiness which had been observed and acted upon by all succeeding Governments, to propose any measure having a tendency to allay the grievances, and remove the acknowledged unheard of deprivation and misery, existing in that unfortunate country. A main reason of the misery of the people appeared to him to be the non-residence of the upper classes in that country; the absenteeism, which drew the produce of the labour and toil of the poor man from the property in Ireland, and spent it elsewhere; and although he should be as unwilling as the right hon. member for Tamworth to assent to a tax of fifty per cent, as one of a most tyrannical nature, on those living out of the country whose property was chiefly there; yet, if that country were so oppressed by misery, that for the prevention of outrage and crime produced by positive 181 distress, measures of coercion were necessary, he would readily assent to the levy of some tax of that nature, with a view of alleviating ever so small a part of that misery. If, however, the noble Mover of the Address (the member for Perthshire) was not right as to his conclusions of misgovernment, if he was wrong in supposing that to distress and wretchedness were attributable also those melancholy facts upon which they were about to legislate, and if all these outrages and intimidation were the fruits of political agitation—of those political associations and their acts—by which the country was brought under a system of union of feeling, determined to attain more reform, why should the Government not show, for the sake of the people, before it had recourse to coercive and arbitrary measures, a real and not promised disposition to remove the shameless and foul abuses existing in the State, and deprive the agitators of their plea of action, by showing the people of the country, that a kind system of policy, the dictate of humanity and justice, was followed by the advisers of the Crown, and was exemplified by their actions and propositions in that House? But, in ill-fated Ireland (for ill-fated she had always been), whenever they took her many grievances into consideration, instead of adopting a systematic and statesman-like measure, such as would be calculated at once to apply a healing salve to her wounds, and to maintain the true principles of civil liberty—instead of such measures, they had attempted, bit by bit, here and there, patchwork Reforms, which had been of little or no avail. He asserted, and would uphold, that to grant to a nation one measure of conciliation, however great and important might be its nature and effects—such, for instance, as the Bill so long sought for, to remove the Roman Catholic disabilities, without strenuously removing all the other grievances of which the people justly complained, was not less impolitic, lessignorant, and less cruel, than to give to a starving family the means wherewith to procure one meal, and then to presume, that by that one act, that isolated act of charity, they had saved that whole family from future misery. He said, then, if this proposed measure, containing, as it did, every feature of severity and infliction, was not levelled against the outrages and crimes only, but against these associations 182 and political unions in Ireland, or against individuals, the immediate patrons of these meetings, show to the people that, whilst they adopted this measure of severity to uphold the law of the land, and enforce the will of Government, they were also sensible of the distresses of the people, and determined, by remedial measures, to remove them. Such measures, if they did not go first, as he thought they should, at least ought to proceed pari passu with the others, with the equal certainty of carrying them through both Houses; so that those extensive reforms, the want of which was, with the agitators themselves, the excuse for the agitation to which you ascribe these outrages and this discontent, should become the law at the same time with the measure for punishing outrage, and suppressing political freedom. If these were not their plans, he must think, in the words of Lord Chatham, and quoted by Mr. Grattan, as he found in a work of the noble Lord the member for Devonshire—"There is ambition, there is sedition, and there is violence; but no man shall persuade me that it is not the cause of liberty on one side, and that of tyranny on the other." But what said the hon. member for Leeds? "Talk to me of this being a Bill encroaching on the liberties of the people of Ireland, what liberty have they to be deprived of?"—"The Government must be feared before it can be loved," said the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. "Advocates of this measure of coercion, talk about violating the British Constitution," said the right hon. Gentleman, the member for Tamworth, "the British Constitution, was not instituted to give impunity to crime." The right hon. Baronet advocated, as he, of course, was expected to do, in that most eloquent and beautiful speech he delivered on this subject—one never, perhaps, surpassed in that House—the same line of policy which he and his colleagues pursued when in office. Coercive measures, after all he had heard, were, says he, absolutely necessary. But of ail the hon. Gentlemen, noble Lords, and right hon. Gentlemen who had advocated the passing of those measures, he regretted most to see the noble Lord the member for Devonshire, the Paymaster of the Forces (Lord John Russell), taking that part. So much at variance did he perceive the noble Lord's present opinions to be with those which he had always advocated, and which he believed 183 the noble Lord still entertained—so much at variance with that liberality so conspicuous throughout the whole of the noble Lord's public life, that he must refer the noble Lord to his own language—not used in the heat of debate, but published as his avowed opinions and sentiments, at a time when he was unconnected with the governing party in the State, and merely an independent Member of that House. The noble Lord said, in a work expressly written upon this very subject, and speaking generally for all times, and not from circumstances, delivering unprejudiced opinions, and golden rules of liberty.
Thus the House of Commons more than once has met, perfectly disposed to bear its part in passing any measures of severe coercion which the Ministers of the day thought fit to propose. It was thus that, in 1795 and 1799, laws were passed to prohibit public meetings, without a sufficient authority, and to prevent printings, unless under certain regulations. In 1817 these measures were renewed, and in 1810 their severity has been much increased. The measures resorted to on these occasions may be classed under two heads, both of them sanctioning methods, in my mind, injudicious, and one extremely dangerous.
The first is the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Now, this is a very proper precaution, when a conspiracy is carried on by a few principal leaders whose imprisonment puts an end to the plot. But it is no remedy at all, when the evil consists in the discontent of some thousands of unemployed manufacturers. Uno avulso non deficit alter; the subalterns, in conducting these popular humours, are fully as able and audacious as the chiefs. The other remedy consists in new laws, restraining the right of speaking and writing. Acts of this kind interpose obstacles to public meetings and public newspapers, and serve to discountenance, for a time, by the authority of Parliament, the abuses of liberty which have prevailed. But it is manifest, that it is impossible to prevent sedition and blasphemy, unless all freedom of speech and the liberty of the Press be extinguished. It is impossible to provide beforehand, by Act of Parliament, that all speeches and writings shall keep within the bounds of loyalty and moderation. Therefore the restraining laws are, except for the moment, inefficient. They are also pernicious, for they admit a principle, which if punished to its full extent, authorises a censorship of the Press.
Whilst every opinion may be professed, some will always be found hostile to religion and to monarchy; and whenever the country is visited with distress, those upon whom misfortune falls, will for a time give a willing ear to anything which professes to be a plan for their relief 184 It would seem, however, on the other hand, that we have now gone as far as it was possible to go safely upon the system of restraint. If blasphemy and sedition again alarm the timid, they must be suppressed by the ordinary laws: otherwise we must either admit a censorship, or surrender the present mode of Trial by Jury.
It is to be hoped, that rather than adopt either of these tyrannical expedients, England would impeach the Minister who should give such atrocious advice to his Sovereign.
It is a consolation, however, to think that if the people of England are really determined to preserve their liberties, the laws afford means amply sufficient to quell sedition. They only require a firm and even hand to exercise them; new Statutes on the subject of the Press can only be the resort of Statesmen weak enough to take advantage of it for the destruction of their country's freedom.
He would say to his Majesty's Ministers, and to this House, adopt an inquiry, if necessary for this legislation, into the state of Ireland altogether, her evils, their causes, and then refer it to her good sense and honour to endeavour with England to accomplish measures which would remedy her misery and outrages. Let some credit be given to the gentlemen of Ireland; let not the motives of her eloquent and most enthusiastic orators be falsely impugned; let not the motives of the hon. and learned member for Dublin be misrepresented; and let not his great exertions and never-flagging energies, be supposed to be used, for the sake of cloaking treason and throwing a veil over rebellion. England had gloried in calling Ireland her sister; her sons bad shared with Englishmen in the toils and successes of war, in her battles and her victories; and would they now by their acts sever the Union, by dividing the fraternal link which bound them to each other? Treat her rather with justice and impartiality. He said, then, give fair play to Ireland, and her noble-minded sons; open to them the flood-gates of useful knowledge; if possible, or at least as far as it is possible, feed the indigent, and, above all, infuse into the mass of the people, by acts of kindness and generosity, that tone of moral feeling, that charity of acting, without which nothing is estimable, nothing is permanent. Do this, and Ireland would bless England, and offer her prayers for its welfare, which was inseparable from their own. She would then become an arm of strength to us, and an honour to our Sovereign's dominions. But, on the con- 185 trary, inflict this merciless chastisement—pass the measure of coercion—let slip the dogs of" war—let iron-handed tyranny stalk uncontrolled through her beauteous land, hanging, transporting, bayoneting, and shooting her devoted children, and the curse of God and man alike would be upon the policy of England, and her name would become a by-word to pirates and assassins. He trusted they would not unfurl the blood-red flag. Let not war to the knife be their motto. Turn not soldiers into assassins, to do the work of destruction, and revel in the desolation they would create. Remember, a dreadful day of retribution would eventually-come. But do, he would say, the very contrary. Show in positive reality, by acts, and not promises, that the resolve to remedy wrong, and the determination to assuage distress, were sincere to the fullest extent, and then would the Legislature of this country acquire in the eyes of all men the appellation of the most popular and benevolent Parliament that ever swayed the destinies of any nation. He opposed this measure, because he believed if the gentry of Ireland were to lend their assistance as the member for Meath stated, and not shrink from their duty, as they had done in the Queen's County, the ordinary institutions of the country would be quite sufficient to quell any intimidation and outrage. He opposed this Bill because he did not consider that the outrages in Ireland were the effects of political agitation, but of distress alone, produced by real and shameless abuses. He opposed this measure because they were using a rod of iron instead of the hand of charity as the first act of a Reformed Parliament. He opposed this measure as it appeared to him to be founded on motives opposed to the voice of reason, the principles of benevolence and policy, and at utter variance with the sound dictates of religion and humanity.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, that he heard so many indications of disapprobation expressed when any hon. Member rose to speak against the Bill, that he felt almost inclined to move the adjournment of the debate. He had observed that hon. Members on the opposite side, had remarked that no facts had been adduced by the opponents of the measure, to prove that it was unnecessary, Now, he would confine himself almost exclusively to facts; and he trusted they would have as much weight with 186 the House as that declaration on the other side of the question which had been so loudly cheered. He would also especially direct his attention to the amendment of the right hon. member for Lambeth, and hoped to demonstrate to the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), that it was not quite so silly as he had been pleased to describe it. The object of the amendment was, to give the House an opportunity of learning from the Assizes, which were now going on in Ireland, whether the statements which had been made by Ministers relative to the condition of that country were or were not founded in fact. It was important that the House should know that, as far as the Assizes had as yet gone, every allegation made by Ministers had been directly negatived. The charge of every Judge which had yet been received stated, that the existing law if properly enforced was sufficient to meet the exigency of the present occasion. He would take the liberty of stating a few facts, which he hoped that those hon. Members who were ready to cheer the mere declamation which proceeded from the other side of the House would attend to. At the Clare Assizes, Judge Jebb, who, the right hon. Secretary must know, had on high authority been pronounced "a Judge of the right sort," congratulated the Grand Jury, "on the essential difference existing as to the state of matters since last he had the honour of addressing them. Then the Government was compelled to issue Special Commissions for the preservation of order, but all was now peace and tranquillity. The calendar presented few crimes, but there was one feature in it which he could not help adverting to. The practice of swearing illegal oaths was too prevalent in this county, and from it might be deduced all the evils with which society abounded; and he was proud to say, that there was but one such charge on the Crown-book. As to the other crimes, there were none which could not be expected in every state and country." At Meath Assizes, the Judge, whose parliamentary life would prove that he was not likely to be inordinately attached to popular principles—he meant Chief Justice Dogherty, declared that "there was nothing appearing on the face of the calendar or on the Crown-book, worthy of observation." At the Longford Assizes, Judge Moore, who was a prerogative Judge, and sentenced so much con 187 amorepersons to imprisonment, who refused to pay tithes, said, and he begged the House to attend to it, that "he congratulated the Grand. Jury upon the comparative state of quiet of their county, and hoped shortly to see the county of Longford reduced to a state of perfect peace, and that, by the agency of the laws of the land, without the interference of any measures not consistent with the Constitution." Now, what was the casewith respect to the county of Louth, which the right hon. Secretary had declared to be in a state of frightful disturbance, though, to be sure, he founded that allegation upon the fact of a man having been refused the loan of a winnowing machine, which he had been in the habit of borrowing for twenty years? As he was about to refer to Drogheda, he would incidentally mention a fact, illustrative of the manner in which justice was administered in Ireland. There had been no gaol delivery for twelve months; The cholera had prevailed in the town, and the Judge took care of his own life, whilst he allowed the prisoners to die in the gaol. Chief Justice Bushe, on opening the Assizes in the town of Drogheda, said—" Gentlemen, in looking over the calendar I find it unusually heavy, fifty-two persons being for trial, which is a large number for your peaceable town and county. The crimes with which they are charged, as I find in this calendar before mo, are not of a nature that calls for any observations from me. There is only one charge for murder, that is, of one sister having killed another. The other charges are for petty thefts, and * * *. I do not find a single charge of Whiteboyism in this calendar, which is to the credit of your town and county." Thus it appeared, that all the Judges who had yet spoken had declared it as their opinion that the existing laws were sufficient, if duly enforced, to meet the present emergency. [Mr. Stanley: you have forgotten Baron Smith]. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for reminding him of that learned Judge. The House must have seen the charge of Baron Smith in all the journals of the day. This Judge, who had been alluded to, in such laudatory terms, by the right hon. member for Tam-worth, was in the habit of converting his charge to a Grand Jury into a sort of essay, in which he did not scruple to sacrifice a principle to an antithesis, and interlarded his little law with scraps of literature, 188 sometimes giving an extract from the Dunciad, and at another time spicing his composition with an extract from Hudibras. In short, he was always ready to have a fling at the agitators, and to vent his spleen on any persons who had given him offence in the course of his political career. It might be considered presumptuous in a young Member to speak thus boldly of so sacred a person as a Judge; but Baron Smith had made his charge public property by printing it himself, and sending it forth to the world. He would take this opportunity of stating also, that Baron Smith, in charging another Grand Jury in Dublin, whilst some men were under a charge which, as the event proved, deeply affected their liberty, availed himself of his privilege to do that which was an improper interference with the due administration of justice, and was disgraceful and derogatory to the character of a Judge. The right hon. member for Tam-worth had referred to a former charge of this learned Judge, which was just as consistent with candour as his introduction of the tragical episode of a barbarous murder committed whilst he held the office of Secretary for Ireland. Was it, he would not say honourable, for the right hon. Gentleman could do nothing dishonourable, but was it humane to introduce that tragical episode of a barbarous murder which he deplored as deeply as any man could do? But was it, he asked, humane in the right hon. Baronet thus to excite the national antipathies of a House which already seemed little disposed to do justice to Ireland? Was it fair of him thus to support the Government, with the power of his eloquence, in detailing the fact of five men being barbarously murdered during his own Administration. Baron Smith, in his charge, said: "In like manner, under the present Grand Jury system, tranquillity was restored to Clare and to some other counties by the Special Commission, at which Judges Moore and Jebb presided." He would now read to the House a letter descriptive of the state of the county of Louth, which he had received from the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Every one who knew Dr. Kelly must be aware that not the slightest imputation could lie upon his testimony. His high character was a sufficient guarantee for the truth of what he stated. He resided in the county, and he possessed this additional recommenda- 189 tion in the eyes of Ministers, that he was decidedly opposed to political agitation. He hoped the House would pardon him if he read this document at length. Was it possible? Could the House which had listened to the contents of the red box upon the Table, which had cheered the wretched ballad produced by the right hon. Secretary, refuse to hear this important paper read? If such shameful interruption were continued, he would move the adjournment of the debate. The document in question was dated the 25th of February, which was subsequent to the letter of Sir Patrick Bellew mentioned by the right hon. Secretary. Some parts of the paper might, perhaps, make a little against him, but nevertheless he felt it to be his duty to give it, in an unmutilated form, to the House. It was as follows:—
Drogheda, Feb. 25—My dear Sir—I had the honour of receiving your letter of the 19th instant, in which you request to be informed of the present state of this part of the country, regarding its peace.
As to the county of the town of Drogheda, which you represent in Parliament, I have no hesitation in saying, that a more peaceable and orderly people do not exist in the British empire, notwithstanding the want of employment and the extreme misery of a great portion of its population.
I think. I may also safely say, that the entire province of Ulster has not, for many years, enjoyed a greater share of tranquillity, with the exception of occasional manifestations of discontent on the subject of tithes, but which cannot be compared with the disastrous effects of party spirit and religious animosity that have existed in that province for centuries, and unremedied, to the annual loss of many human lives.
The county of Louth, 'tis true, has been, for the last five months, under an unusual state of excitement, producing such effects as every friend to social order would wish to see repressed; but I am happy to be able to state, that latterly the instances of outrage have so decreased as to approximate to almost perfect tranquillity. As this county has been much spoken of, it is fair to trace the disturbances that prevailed in it to the true cause. Louth is one of the most agricultural counties, as it is confessedly the most fertile, in Ireland.
The tithe-system falling on the industry of the farmer, its pressure was severely felt by the labourer in the subtraction of adequate wages, and by the cottier in the increased price of potato-ground. The population being almost Catholic, the labouring classes murmured at the fruits of their toil being thus diverted from the support of their families, to add to the wealth of an establishment with which they were connected by no tie, nor bound up by 190 community of feeling. Add to this the expectations excited by the discussions in the late Parliament, of the abolition of tithes, and the subsequent disappointment occasioned by their enforcement throughout Ireland. To effect an increase of wages, and a reduction in the price paid for potato-ground being generally let at 8l. per acre, many of the labouring classes entered into combinations to that effect, whilst the idle and disorderly, availing themselves of this pretext, proceeded to acts of outrage; and having increased their party by intimidation, endeavoured to extort money and food from the peaceable inhabitants. Such is, what I conceive, the true cause of the temporary disturbance that prevailed in Louth, but which has now nearly subsided.
As far as secret and illegal societies may be considered to operate against the public peace, the Catholic bishops of this province have, at their last meeting in Dublin, on the 2nd of February, adopted a regulation by which all secret and illegal societies are prohibited, under such spiritual penalties as are within our power. This disciplinary law has been carried into effect and published in every chapel in this province, and will, I trust, have the effect, with the usual zealous exertions of our clergy, of checking the spread of these secret and illegal combinations, equally injurious to society as to Christian morality. But unless such measures of justice and conciliation be adopted by the Legislature as will dry up the source of complaint and discontent of the people of Ireland, by redressing their just grievances, lightening their burthens, "that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear," encouraging their industry, and making provision for the poor and helpless, who are starving in a land of plenty, it is vain to expect that peace can be permanently established in Ireland, and which could not be maintained, under the same circumstances, in another country. If provision be not made for at least the aged and infirm poor out of the surplus of ecclesiastical revenue, which they naturally look on as their patrimony, and which is at the disposal of the State, the cravings of hunger cannot be satisfied, nor its effects on society cease to be felt. If present relief be withheld from the poor, whilst the funds available to this purpose are applied to other objects, and only diverted by another channel, through which it is still more unlikely they will ever reach them, they will look upon the misery of their state as irremediable, and the enactment of such severe measures as are in contemplation only as a means of perpetuating the system so objection-able to them. If such healing measures be adopted towards Ireland as the wisdom of Parliament cannot fail to discover as suited to her wants—if even-handed justice be dealt out to the people and their confidence in the Administration of the law be restored, which in many parts of Ireland has been weakened by the religious and political bias of party, I am confident that the laws would be respected, 191 and that the ordinary powers of the Constitution would be more than sufficient to repress crime and protect the peace. The destruction of property is a great evil, but life, being of a superior order, has the first claim to protection. Now, though the county of Louth has been disturbed, yet I have not heard of the loss of a single life, whereas, under the baneful influence of party spirit that has systematically prevailed for centuries in the north of Ireland, and for the extinction of which the ordinary powers are sufficient, human lives are yearly sacrificed. During six years of my residence as Bishop in the county of Down I had the pain to witness many melancholy instances of this. On the 12th of July, 1831 (to omit other instances), six persons of my flock fell victims. At Tullyarier tenfold that number were likely to share the same fate from the procession of the 5th of November following, but for the prompt and humane interference of the Marquess of Anglesey, who, by sending a detachment of military, prevented on that occasion the usual result of hostile collision. Yet these processions still continued, and last year with increased numbers and display. As action produces reaction, counter associations spring up. My exertions and those of my clergy were not wanting in dissuading our people from these confederacies, but must hare proved unavailing while the opposite party held their processions under the eye of the civil authorities, unmolested and even countenanced by persons in high and influential offices in that county, and invested with the commission of the peace. Until such evils as these be remedied—until the fountains of justice be purified, by intrusting the dispensing of justice to those alone who are not tinged with party distinction, and a due Reform of Jury-laws be obtained, the people cannot be taught to respect the laws, nor will peace be maintained. The wounds of so many years may be bound up, but when the band is removed, they will not cease to bleed. The good Samaritan may pour in the wine and the oil, but the gangrene, if allowed to continue, will fester, until it becomes incurable. Under these circumstances, I fear that the suspension of constitutional liberties would, in many cases, involve the innocent with the guilty, and be attended with evils to this country. I hope Government and the Legislature may be able to discover such persons as are within the limits of the Constitution (which has ample resources), whereby crime may be prevented, and the blessings of life, liberty, and property fully secured. As I have said, let justice be done—let the poor be provided for—let the ascendancy of party cease, not in name but in reality, and let there be no older ascendancy than that only which is known to the British Constitution—the ascendancy of the law; and believe me, when that is done, that the ascendancy of law and order will be maintained by every class and denomination in Ireland. I have the honour 192 to remain, my dear Sir, your faithful and obedient servant,X. F. Kelly, Archbishop, &c. "To A. Carew O'Dwyer, Esq., M. P.To this last sentence he would more particularly direct the attention of the House, as it corroborated the opinion he had quoted of Judge Moore. He (Mr. O'Dwyer) wished he was able to enter more at length into the topics contained in the letter he had just read to the House. It was dictated, he hardly needed to say, in the purest spirit of patriotism, and in the earnest desire to benefit the native country of the writer. The communication was, however, perfectly at the service of the noble Lord opposite, if he wished to make any use of it. He should be sorry to justify turbulence in one country by instancing outrage in another, but he must say, that although there was a great increase of crime in Ireland, there was, at the same time, a proportional increase in England. But, he would ask, had Government come down to the House with measures of equal severity for this country? A great portion of the crime in Ireland, he contended, arose from the undeserved relation in which the lower orders stood with respect to the higher. The landlords of Ireland had grossly abused their duty, to a degree which was not to be paralleled in any other country in the world. He spoke of the landlords of Ireland as a class, but did not mean to deny that there were many exceptions to be found among them to the general stigma, and these exceptions were discovered in the residents. But most of them spent their time at Leamington, Cheltenham, or other fashionable places, and, if they visited their country once a-year, it was sure to be at shearing time. Mr. Bicheno described the Irish gentry correctly when he said, that they were spoiled by indulgence—that the Government was ready to help them in every emergency, and they were never taught to rely upon themselves—that innumerable sums were spent to indulge their humour, for whenever discontent arose in Ireland, whether out of exactions for tithe or rent, away went an army to suppress it—and that the effect of this was to make the clergy more exacting in their demands. The same writer proceeded to say, that the way to remedy a great part of the evils which afflicted Ireland, was to repress the insolent and overbearing conduct of the clergy and landlords, and 193 oblige them to yield on some points, and remit on others. The reverse of this was the legislative system constantly adopted towards Ireland, and this wrong system his Majesty's Ministers were about to continue. This was the course pursued by the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth—a course which he only could have learnt in this country. He (Mr. O'Dwyer) could not contemplate the present measures without the strongest feelings of indignation, and those feelings were excited by one of the most powerful agents—the love he bore the country which gave him birth. He would not attempt to analyze it. He would describe it in a very few words. It abrogated the rights confirmed by the charter of English liberty, deprived the Irish people of the benefit of Trial by Jury, the privilege of Habeas Corpus, and handed them over to the tender mercies of a military court. And if the powers of this court were at any time exceeded, the damage was to be apportioned by another military court. His feelings on this subject, were, he repeated, strong; they were kindred and sympathetic feelings, not such as were felt by many of those who composed the majority on which Ministers relied so much. The sentiments of those Gentlemen were very different from those entertained by the Representatives of popular opinion. If it were a question whether the present Ministers should remain in existence or the Constitution should perish, he would say, perish the Ministry, and let the Constitution remain. Their proceeding in the present instance proved them to be anything but Representatives of the English people, against whose voice they certainly could not continue to hold office.
§ Mr. Lefroy
said, that, with all respect to the hon. Member (Mr. O'Dwyer), he must be permitted to say, that the attack which he had thought proper to make on the character of a respectable Judge in Ireland was most unjustifiable. In undertaking the defence of that gentleman, it would, perhaps, be necessary for him to occupy more of the time of the House than, at that late hour of the night, he thought would be proper. He would, therefore, consult the feelings of the House, and on its decision would cither proceed, or defer the defence he had to make till to-morrow.
§ The Speaker having put the question on the further Adjournment of the De-bate,
§ Lord Althorp
rose, and observed, that he was quite aware that there were many Gentlemen who still would have to address the House on the question, and, therefore, it was not likely the debate would close that night. He was under some apprehension, however, that it might not even be closed to-morrow, and he should rather be inclined to hear the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Lefroy) address the House at once, unless a full understanding were come to, that the debate should be closed to-morrow.
thought the proposition of the noble Lord quite reasonable. But this inconvenience was likely to interruptions might take place in the listening, and by that means the debate might be protracted. As far, however, as regarded himself, he fully concurred in the noble Lord's view.
§ Debate again adjourned.