§ Lord Althorp
moved the Order of the Day, for the second reading of the Suppression of Disturbances (Ireland) Bill.
§ Mr. Hume
wished to take the first opportunity of stating his opinion on this Bill. He assured the House that he had never risen to speak with more regret, or with greater pain. He felt the greatest 406 regret that he should have to oppose his Majesty's Ministers, with whom he had so long been acting, and pain that he should find them in a situation in which they appeared to have forgotten all the principles which they had advocated for the last twenty-five years, and were engaged in introducing a measure that their opponents never would have dared to introduce. In his opinion, no measure that had ever been brought forward in that House was so great a breach of the Constitution of this country; for, with one universal sweep, it deprived a great portion of the people of the country of their Constitutional rights. He greatly feared that the consequences of this measure would be as injurious to those who brought it forward, as detrimental to the best interests of the country. He thought the House had hitherto taken but a limited view of the importance of the subject. He was willing to give his Majesty every proper and necessary power to put down disturbances in Ireland, but, before such powers were confided, a case ought to be made out to show that the law was not sufficient, and that extraordinary measures were necessary. If it had been contended, that there were no grievances in Ireland, that the people were riotous without cause, it would be easy to make up one's mind what course to pursue; but when he saw that no means were taken to redress abuses, but that, on the contrary, the pledge which had been given last Session, that the coercive measures which were then introduced—measures dispensing with the ordinary powers of the law, for the purpose of enforcing tithes—when he saw that this pledge had not been redeemed, he would not consent to intrust further powers to the same hands. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had, on that occasion, admitted that nothing could justify a departure from Constitutional proceedings, except the great and substantial redress with which the measure was to be accompanied. At the time of the introduction of that measure, Ireland was in a state of perfect tranquillity. He had authority for saying so, and for stating that the fact was not unknown to his Majesty's Government, for a right hon. Baronet who had been a Member of that House, informed him that he had written to some Members of his Majesty's Government, stating that he had not known Ireland so quiet for years. He had also the state- 407 ments of Major Brown, who, in August last, said, that Kilkenny was perfectly quiet; and that he was convinced a single policeman could execute a warrant without molestation; that he knew of no quarrels between the police and the people; and that he would rather see one man do any common deity, than four or five. That public officer stated, that Kilkenny had not been so quiet for three years. But, for the sake of argument, he would admit the disturbances, and he would then ask who caused them? Why, the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for lreland. He had been told last year, that his Tithe Bill would produce excitement. He had been warned against the evils which it would produce; yet he went on, heedless of the warning. The hon. and learned member for Dublin was not the agitator—the right hon. Secretary was the agitator. For his part, he had anticipated a different line of conduct from the present Ministry. He anticipated an end of abuses; but, instead of that, the Irish people were to have Martial-law, military domination, and be put without the pale of the Constitution. He trusted that Earl Grey would have followed a different course, and that a Bill would not have been brought in, under the auspices of the noble Lord opposite, to spread desolation over Ireland, and sweep off the unhappy people who were writhing under their wrongs. The evidence of persons even friendly to Government—of men who supported Government, was against the present tithe system. When Sir Hussey Vivian was asked his opinion of the organization of the peasantry, his reply was, that it was general among the people, and that the object was to resist the payment of tithes. The Secretary for Ireland had promised the extinction of tithes, but the promise had not been performed, and "hope delayed maketh the heart sick." The outrages at Kilkenny were the consequence of the Tithe Bill, the handy-work of the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore he claimed that the House should pause, and, before it took any other step, address the Crown for the removal of the Secretary of Ireland as an evil councillor, who had converted Ireland from the abode of peace into a scene of confusion and outrage. Instead of the promised extinction of tithes, or as the right hon. Gentleman had explained it, the removal of that most odious system, 408 what had been the course pursued by Government? Thousands, and tens of thousands of seizures for tithes had been made; the property of whole parishes had been swept away, while the agents of this work of tyranny were aided by battalions of infantry, and supported by parks of artillery. Was this to be borne? When suffering exceeded certain bounds, patience was no longer a virtue—it then became a virtue to resist. When remonstrance was vain—when the iron pierced the soul, it was the duty of every man to oppose such acts of oppression. Cows, pigs, and poultry, had been remorselessly seized, and in one instance a stack of hay, which had been sold to pay a tithe of a few shillings, was maliciously fired and consumed. All this was done to preserve tithes, and to maintain a sinecure Church; that was the evil, and that evil explained the whole present condition of Ireland. Deeply did he regret that the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose opinions were so averse to any encroachments upon the rights of the subject, should allow himself to be dragged at the chariot-wheels of his colleagues, and made a party to these disgraceful transactions. He trusted that the noble Lord's character would again emerge from the cloud by which it was obscured, and that he would again become the advocate of freedom, and the friend of the oppressed. Let the House remember, that the system of spoliation began with seizing the property of a Catholic clergyman, as if purposely to outrage the feelings of the inhabitants of the same faith. The extraordinary powers already granted by Parliament had been conceded to such men as Lords Grey, Althorp, and Brougham—not to the Secretary for Ireland, who never would have been intrusted with them—but the people were grievously disappointed at finding that, in office, they had deserted the principles they had so long supported in Opposition. The fact was, that to quell disturbance in Ireland, it was only necessary to remove the cause of it, and that cause was the enormous Church Establishment. He did not consider this merely an Irish question; it was an English question, and of the deepest interest to England, since the state of Ireland must always, to her, be a matter of the highest importance. What did the Duke of Wellington say in his memorable speech on conceding the Roman Catholic claims? Why, "that he would rather concede any right, than risk 409 one day's civil war." Here he was speaking as a statesman, although war had been his plaything; and surely it would have been no disparagement of the present Ministry, if they had taken this one lesson, if no other, from the noble Duke. The origin of existing evils in Ireland, was the disappointment of the hopes of the people who had been taught to expect relief; and was it just, proper, or natural, longer to place confidence in a man who had so deceived them? Nothing had yet been adduced to show that the existing laws, if duly administered, were insufficient; and the information brought forward was not only defective but partial. Last year. Ministers brought in a Bill, which he (Mr. Hume) highly approved, for establishing Lord-lieutenants in the counties of Ireland. He had supported it because he thought it would tend to abolish the faction of a Viceroy in the Castle of Dublin, and because he hoped, that through Lords-lieutenant, correct information might be obtained regarding the state of the country. What had most been wanted from Ireland was truth; hitherto intelllgence from thence had been usually less correct than from a distant colony, and she had been constantly kept under military domination, generally for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant ascendancy. Now, he would ask, had any one of the new Lord-lieutenants supplied Ministers with a tittle of information to show that the existing law was insufficient? Had any public body met, or had any individual made a representation on the subject? Had any mortal breathing, saving the hired police, or perhaps a few clergymen, who were undoubtedly, in a pitiable state of suffering, supplied a single fact as the foundation for this Bill? All the Lord-lieutenants ought to be, but were not resident; and he called upon one he saw in his place, to slate, whether he had thought it necessary to call the attention of Ministers specially to the condition of his county? Had the people, by resolutions at meetings, claimed the protection this measure was intended to afford? Not one; and all that was known was, that some few instances of disturbance had occurred in Ireland, for the suppression of which the ordinary law might be sufficient, if it were tried. Then, in the name of God, he asked, upon what did Ministers rely? What had induced those who had 410 so long stood up as the champions of civil liberty, and the enemies of military despotism, at once to change their opinions, and to adopt this sweeping and atrocious measure? What had been brought forward in the shape of evidence? Nothing more than half a dozen, or perhaps a dozen letters from paid police officers, whose salaries depended upon the continuance of a state of disturbance in Ireland. He had always advocated equality of law—he had always voted for it; an invasion of part of the civil rights of the nation was an invasion of the whole; and he appealed to the House, whether it would consent to risk the civil institutions of twenty-two millions of people, by thus unnecessarily destroying the liberties of eight millions? He had hoped that the Union with Ireland would have led to equality of laws, equality of protection, and equality of happiness; but if this Bill passed, the Irish must bid adieu to any such expectation, and to the hope that 553 Members of the United Parliament would sympathise with the sufferings of the natives of Ireland. No stronger argument could be afforded in favour of the Repeal of the Union than this Bill would supply. The Union between England and Scotland, by connecting a rich with a poor country, had been productive of incalculable benefits to the latter, and the same advantages might be anticipated in the case of Ireland, and for the same reason, unless the dissolution of that Union were hastened by the misconduct of Government, It would be an act of the grossest misconduct to injure a whole nation for the sake of upholding one signal abuse—the Church Establishment. He put it to every Scotchman who heard him, what would he have done had England persevered in forcing upon Scotland, against her wishes, a Church Establishment? Would he not even now as his countrymen had done before him, resist such an attempt; ay, and resist it to the death, and drive the presumptuous invaders from the borders? Why were not the Irish to do the same? They were equally generous, equally zealous, equally courageous, and he trusted would be ultimately equally victorious. The swarms of paupers from Ireland with which this country was annually overrun were attributable to the same cause—the vain endeavour to support that at which common sense revolted. Let any English or Scotch Gentleman suppose himself for a moment 411 in the situation of an Irishman, and let him think what seven millions must at this moment feel. Would then the English and Scotch Members consent to become parties to this Bill, which rivetted for ever the shackles of Ireland, and fixed upon the Roman Catholics the fetters they had themselves indignantly and successfully spurned? The Irish were not less brave, less industrious, less deserving, nor, since the term had been recently often employed, he would add, less loyal. When he looked for the evidence on which the measure was rested, he found none; and the title of it ought, in fact, to be, "A Bill to put down Daniel O'Connell, and to keep up the Military and Church Establishment of Ireland." In a few weeks the Members of that House, whose constituents were crying aloud for the reduction of taxation, would be told that it was impossible to reduce a single man of the 90,000 who constituted the army, on account of the passing of this Bill. That would be its utility. It was to put an end to the demand for reduction. In 1793, when the people of England called loudly for Reform and reduced taxation, what plan did the wily Minister of that day pursue? He changed his previous policy—he engaged the country in a foreign war—he took off the attention of the people from Reform and taxation (then only amounting to about 16,000,000l. a-year), and embarked in an expenditure, the load of which we were still, after the lapse of five-and-thirty years, compelled to sustain. The measure then before the House was brought forward like the crusades of 1793, to turn the attention of the people from their own concerns. He contended, therefore, that the House ought not to be induced upon any statement to pass it. The cases brought forward to justify it were exaggerated. Much sympathy had been claimed upon account of that of the reverend Mr. Houston. Why, what were the facts? Mr. Houston had seized goods for tithes, and had wrongfully seized them; and he had rendered himself generally unpopular. He did not mean to justify the act perpetrated, but there was nothing in it to justify or call for this Bill. So with the other cases. They gave no proof of general disturbances, but merely of local disturbances. Nevertheless, let Lord Anglesey resign, and let the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stardey) give up his place, and he (Mr. Hume) would support a strong measure. What 412 he meant was, that the noble Marquess and the Secretary having so completely lost the confidence of the country, they ought to be removed. He said the right hon. Secretary had completely lost the confidence of the people of Ireland—of all those whose confidence was worth having. He did not say the confidence of that House, but, if hon. Members supposed that the confidence of that House implied the confidence of the country, they were much mistaken. They would soon find out that he was right. He had that night presented ten petitions against the Bill, and the House would soon find that the whole country was against it. The Bill was a gross departure from the principles of the Ministers themselves. In the Reform Bill they had expressly laid it down that they were anxious to depart as little as possible from the laws and usages followed; but now, according to the Paymaster, of the Forces and the hon. member for Leeds, and others connected with the Government, the wider they went from the Constitution the better. Then why, in the name of God, did they put any limit upon the power of the right hon. Secretary? Why did they trammel him with military tribunals or any such incumbrances? They were told a few nights ago, that much which had passed in that House ought to be held in veneration. Was this a measure of that description? Who had ever before heard of such a Bill as this? Let them at once appoint the right hon. Secretary Pacha of Ireland, and give him the bowstring for his weapon of destruction. He (Mr. Hume) had not stated a single thing that was not strictly accurate. He was ready to prove that he was correct, and he asserted, therefore, that both the Lord Lieutenant and the right hon. Secretary for Ireland were convicted of utter incapacity. Nay, he went further, and he said, whether the right hon. Secretary was or was not incompetent, if the people of Ireland thought, believed, and felt him to be so, that was a sufficient ground for his removal. A people had as much right to good government as a sovereign had to allegiance. Ireland had not had good government, and the documents produced as a ground for giving her worse government would not be received in evidence at the Old Bailey. There was another ground upon which he objected to the Bill. It had been admitted upon all hands that the greater part of the miseries of Ireland had 413 been occasioned by upholding one party to the prejudice and injury of another. Against that system the present Government had protested again and again, and yet this Bill was to oppress one party. It was to put down an individual who had the confidence of the whole of the Irish nation—of all the men in that country whose confidence was worth having-. Let him satisfy those hon. Members who thought he was staling too much of the majority, and the great majority of the Irish people. They had all heard of the two kings of Brentford, who could not reign together. The fact was, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) wished to be king of Ireland, but there was another man whom the people liked better. Who could doubt that such was the case, who had watched the proceedings in that House for the last three years? Who that had seen all the little, paltry, petty jealousies of the right hon. Gentleman against his hon. and learned friend could have any doubt that this Bill was to put down a rival? It was true, the Whigs had a precedent for legislating meanly against his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin. Witness the accompaniment to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, But who could have thought the Whigs would have so degraded themselves; and who could yet think that the House—a free House of Commons—would permit itself to be dragged into such disgraceful conduct? Daniel O'Connell might be a great man, but this Bill would make him a much greater. The question for consideration was, not whether justice and peace should be given to Ireland, but whether one individual should be put down; thus to give despotic supremacy to another. What was it that had rendered Daniel O'Connell so powerful in Ireland? Why, the nation bad been long oppressed by wrongs; and he had by his efforts in agitation compelled some relief. Agitator! Yes; his hon. and learned friend was an agitator; and the very noblemaji who was by this Bill to to be made despotic in Ireland had said to the Irish nation: "Agitate, agitate; you have never got anything but by agitation, and you never will." And was it not strange that that very Lord Lieutenant was a party to the introduction of this Bill? The measure, however, if pursued, would fail of its object. All that had yet been done against his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin, in the way 414 of persecution had only raised him in the estimation and confidence of his countrymen. Let them remove the grievances of Ireland, and Ireland would be tranquil. But why had not both bills come together from their hands? He complained that nothing had been done in the way of remedial measures for Ireland. They had coercion, but no relief. This Session, not one measure of kindness even had been proposed. Oh, the Jury Bill had been proposed. That, however, was only a payment of an arrear of last Session. But the Bill had been dishonoured; and, on the Royal Exchange of politics the noble Lord would be pronounced a bankrupt. The noble Lord, therefore, had no right to expect credit in that House, and from him he should not receive any. Let the House act wisely, and not proceed with this measure without adequate evidence. The hon. Member concluded, by moving as an Amendment, the following Resolution:—" That we deeply lament the disturbed state of some districts of Ireland, and are willing to intrust his Majesty with such powers as may be necessary to control and punish the perpetrators of outrage, and the midnight violators of the law; but we are of opinion that it has not been satisfactorily shown that the existing laws are not sufficient for such a purpose, and therefore we cannot give our consent to a Bill for placing his Majesty's Irish subjects out of the pale of the Constitution."
Mr. Alderman Wood
was not aware that his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, intended to have moved an Amendment, but as he had vainly endeavoured, on the former discussion on this Bill, to catch the attention of the Chair, and as he entertained strong objections to the measure, he was glad to avail himself of the present opportunity by seconding his hon. friend's Amendment. The measure before the House was too severe and despotic to obtain his support. Whilst he made that declaration, however, he must be allowed to add, that he did not think the members for Ireland and the gentry of that country did every thing for the best. It was not to the Government I of Ireland, whether Whig or Tory, that he attributed the state of that country, but to the Magistrates and landholders; and it I was to their exertions he looked, rather than to the acts of any Government, for restoring the public peace. He only wished I that the landlords of Ireland would fol- 415 low the example set by private individuals, and by companies belonging to this country, having property in Ireland. He might mention one Company, the Fishmongers' Company, which had an estate of about 20,000 acres in Ireland; and he knew that, for many years past, they had been doing all in their power to serve the country, and make the people who held under them happy. In the course of ten years, that Company had expended 70,000l. in improvements on their Irish estates, and he would only say to the great Irish landed proprietors, "Go thou and do likewise." One of his principal objections to the present measure was the establishment of Courts-martial. He did not say, that twelve military men might not form an excellent Jury if they decided as Juries did upon the principle of unanimity, but he could never consent that the liberty of the subject should be dependent upon the opinion of three young officers, none of whom were, perhaps, above twenty-one years of age. After an attentive consideration of all that had been stated by his Majesty's Ministers, he must say, that, in his opinion, they had not shown any sufficient reason for adopting a measure of such extraordinary severity. For his own part, as he had never given a vote in that House, or elsewhere, against the liberties of the people, he never would do so, whoever might be Ministers, or however much he might be disposed to support them on other questions.
had listened with the greatest attention, and with the sincerest desire to arrive at an impartial judgment on the subject under discussion, to the arguments which had been urged from both sides of the House, against and in favour of the present measure; and he had most reluctantly imbibed an opinion, not only from what had been stated in its defence by the Government and those who supported it, but also from the statements of the hon. Members from Ireland who were most opposed to it, that, unless it was carried into effect, Ireland could not exist longer in her present condition, and the inevitable result must be, that all the bonds of civil society would be separated. He felt that the Legislature of the United Empire was bound, by the most sacred of all their engagements, to extend protection to the peaceable and well-disposed inhabitants of Ireland, who were now left a 416 prey to the remorseless and unprincipled depredators and disturbers of the public peace, by whom their lives, their properties, and the safety of their families, were constantly threatened; and on that ground alone, he felt it to be his imperative duty to support the Motion for the second reading of the present Bill. Having given this subject the best attention in his power—having also listened to all the statements made in that House relative to the present condition of Ireland, and having carefully read the evidence attached to the report on the state of Queen's County, which he must say, deserved the greatest credit—ho had, after the deepest consideration of all these collateral proofs of the disorganised and lawless state of Ireland, come to the conclusion that her present wretched condition was to be attributed more to moral and physical causes than to the political evils of which she so loudly complained. It also seemed to him that a great delusion was practised upon that House when hon. Members from Ireland talked to them of the resistance which was offered to the continuance of these evils by the seven or eight millions of population contained in Ireland. He really looked upon this immense population to be one of the chief roots of the evil, for it was evident that the wretchedness occasioned by the excess of population was only exceeded by the still greater degree of wretchedness which was caused by the brutal recklessness and the ignorance in which the great mass of the people of Ireland were steeped. Here it was, that the real scourge of Ireland was to be looked for: in these causes might be traced the source of all the evils which now afflicted her. How the priest hood of that country, whether Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, or other dissenters, had suffered the people under their spiritual charge to grow up in such reckless and violent habits he knew not, nor could he explain it in any manner which could reconcile Lim to the belief that they had done their duty; for no one could deny, that the unbridled and intemperate excesses of every description which were daily committed in Ireland, were unexampled elsewhere; and the feet of men there were more swift to shed blood than in any other country on the face of the earth. It seemed, therefore, to him, that the greatest danger in the present situation of Ireland was to be looked for in 417 moral causes to which he had adverted; and he must take that opportunity of expressing his dissent from the statement of an hon. Member who, in some observations he had made upon the Bill, had expressed his reliance on the evidence contained in the report to which he had alluded, given by Sir Hussey Vivian, who asserted, that the present condition of Ireland was entirely the result of political causes. He attached the greatest credit to that gallant Officer's evidence; but he must say, that the bulk of the evidence before the Committee proved the very reverse of what he had asserted, as the House would find, if they took the trouble to refer to the statements made by Mr. Barrington, Mr. Keogh, Mr. O'Connor, and Mr. Cassidy, who united in asserting that the extreme wretchedness of the people of Ireland, and of the low scale of morals there, was to be attributed entirely to the poverty and distress from the low rate of wages, and the want of employment amongst the labouring classes of that country. In order, however, to bring his assertion to a more direct proof, he would refer to a statement wherein a comparative judgment might be formed on the difference between the moral state of the people of Ireland and of England. As another proof that the cause of the state in which the Irish now were was not a political one, he would read a short list of the species of crime they committed. The short extract he was about to read was from Baron Smith's charge to the Grand Jury of the Queen's County, at the Lent Assizes of 1832:—" I find here a calendar consisting of 150 cases. Of these, twelve are charges of murder; six of conspiracy to murder; nine of manslaughter; eleven of rape; five of child-murder, and its appurtenants; eleven of abduction; forty-one of house-breaking, assaulting dwellings, and robbery of arms; nine of shooting at persons; two of administering unlawful oaths; and twenty-two of violent assaults." Now, as another proof in favour of his position, he would take the population of the Queen's County—though he had not the census of 1831—and he would take it at the last calculation made out, and suppose the amount to be 134,000. Let one of the smallest English counties be taken—the county of Dorset for instance—the population of which, according to the census of 1831, was 159,000. Allowing for an in- 418 crease of population in the Queen's County, the amount of population in both counties might, at the present time, be considered pretty nearly the same. He would call lipon hon. Gentlemen to consider the relative amount of crime in both counties, and see whether the same proportion existed between population and crime. It did not; and he was inclined to think, that want of employment was the cause why the balance of crime was against the Irish county. He was ready to acknowledge that, as it had been stated that the Irish labourer earned 6d. and 8d. a-day, there was something beyond poverty which urged him to the commission of crime. From the statements that had been made last night in that House, it would be seen, that on an average the Irish labourer was not worse off than the English labourer. He appealed to the statement made by the hon. member for Oldham (Mr. Fielden) last night, if such was not the case. It could not be entirely through poverty that the Irish labourer was so prone to crime, but rather from immorality and want of employment, for he passed seven months out of twelve in a state of idleness. Among the other causes to which might be attributed the present state of the Irish people, was the change in the prices of the produce of their soil since the peace, and the change in the manner of cultivating estates, which change had not been introduced by the landlords with sufficient caution. By this latter change, the density of the population had been increased, which tended much to cause the present state of Ireland; and until the redundancy of population was got rid of cautiously, and in a way not to exasperate the Irish people, the present state of things must, in a great measure, continue. Another source of evil in Ireland was the tolerating of vagrancy and mendicity. In fact, on whatever side he viewed this frightful subject, he saw that there were moral and physical causes sufficient to account for ail the evils of Ireland, totally independent of her political situation. These causes had been accumulating, not for one, or five, or ten years, but, as was asserted by an hon. Member, they were the growth of many years; and let them call the disturbers of the peace there what they would—Ribbonmen, or Caravats, or Whitefeet, or Blackfeet—they all resulted from the same cause—namely, redundancy 419 of population; and their first object, after applying the right measures to suppress those disturbances would be, to endeavour to remedy the cause, and to strike at the root of the evil. He would repeat, that a redundant population was the source of many evils to that country, and that proper steps should be taken to find out a remedy for it. When he reflected, and saw many remedies proposed in the volume he held in his hand—when he knew that several remedial plans were advised, among the chief of which was a system of Poor-laws to be applied to Ireland, though he could not decide whether those plans were good, still he thought that they should be properly taken into the consideration of that House. He maintained that great national evils should be considered and treated as mental evils, wherein, as the poet says, "the patient must minister to himself." The Irish should minister to themselves; and he called upon the gentlemen of that country to endeavour to raise the moral tone of the people; and if they could not propose to them a speedy issue out of their privations, to inspire them at least with patience under their sufferings. Among the remedies proposed for Ireland, he could not help mentioning one. It was not one of those remedies whereby oil was poured into the wounds of the patient; or if it proposed pouring oil, it was oil of vitriol, which would rankle in these wounds until it made them completely gangrenous. Of course he alluded to the remedy proposed by the hon. and learned member for Dublin—that remedy was agitation! He doubted whether, under any circumstances, such a remedy was good—whether it was good for evils arising from political sources—but of this he was sure, that for the evils of the people arising from poverty, wretchedness, and bad and immoral habits, such a remedy was the most dangerous ever invented. No remedy, indeed, could be effectually applied until an alteration was made in the causes of evil he mentioned. He felt, in common with the greater part of the Members of that House, that many parts of the Bill were excessively severe, and he, as they, would, if any substitute for those provisions were pointed out, consider themselves as relieved from a great weight. Notwithstanding, he confessed that many of the most obnoxious provisions of the present Bill had appeared not only palat- 420 able, but were solicited by those who best knew the state of Ireland. It had been asserted in that House, that the Select Committee on the state of Ireland had advised measures very different from the present ones, and that the Committee stated, that Special Commissions would be a sufficient remedy for the evils they had to inquire about. He would refer to the Report of that Committee to prove that no such remedy was advised. The Report says—" The practice of having recourse to a Special Commission, as the means of carrying into effect a vigorous application of the rigours of the law, has led to this, the committal of crime before the enforcement of the law had produced a remedy; and while this practice is the sole remedy which is had recourse to, the same result will necessarily occur, because the expense which attends the sending down a Special Commission, and the difficulty of making out a case for it to act upon, must lead to postponing the appointment of it until a long time after an illegal conspiracy has commenced its operations. In point of fact, although the law has in general proved sufficiently strong and effective for the ultimate suppression of White boy Associations, it has not been effectual in affording protection to the public against being exposed to the crimes and atrocities of those conspiracies for a considerable period previous to their being completely repressed." This was evidence that it was not fit to make the public await the slow and vindictive punishment of a Special Commission, but that some protection which could be instantly brought into operation should be given. He would ask whether a Special Commission would be adequate in a case like the following?—He had seen a notice, copied from one of the Dublin papers; it was signed "Peter Clinch," and dated Invulnerable Lodge. It was addressed to a poor peasant, commanding him to give up the spot of land he held, and it concluded with the advice that if he did not obey the mandate, to apply to his Priest for spiritual aid and comfort, for the consequence of disobedience would be death. Let the case of the person who received this notice be reflected on—let his fear and anxiety, under such a threat, be brought under consideration—and then let hon. Gentlemen say, that Special Commissions were an adequate remedy for the urgency of such a case. When hon. Gen- 421 tlemen cried out so strongly against the suspension of the Constitution, they should consider that the Habeas Corpus was originally destined for other purposes than for the protection of nocturnal assassins. It was intended for the protection of the higher classes, and not for that of the gross mass of the population; it was intended to protect virtuous citizens from the arbitrary power of the Crown, and was never intended as a shield for those whose outrages placed them under the protection? no, hat under the sword, of the law. Under the present circumstances the Habeas Corpus Act would not be of half the benefit to the lower orders that its suspension would be; for the present measure would withdraw them from the tyrannical influence of those dangerous associations which existed in Ireland. He had but one remark to make about domiciliary visits—namely, that the nightly visits of the police were far preferable to those of assassins. For the reasons he had given, he would support the present measure. It was called for by the necessity of the ease—it was bad in the abstract—but as a clear case of necessity had been made oat, he would vote for the Bill, however painful it might be to his feelings.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that he would not have presented himself to the notice of the House, had it not been for the incorrectness of the statements made by the hon. member for Middlesex whose speech, from beginning to end, betrayed the most extraordinary mistake as to the condition of Ireland, arising either from total misapprehension or total misinformation of the facts of the case as regarded that country. He had, on all occasions, been the opponent of the present Ministry; but when he heard the hon. member for Middlesex designate the Members composing that Ministry as the agitators and destroyers of Ireland, thereby screening from public view the individual who was in fact the prime mover of all the agitation and outrage so unfortunately prevailing, he felt it was but an act of justice to them to rise in his place and disabuse the House of the impression which the speech of the hon. Member was calculated to make. Frequent appeals had been made to the House against the infringement on the liberties of the people which the Bill was alleged to contemplate, and the terms of tyranny and despotism had been lavishly employed in designating its provisions. 422 He, however, would beg to ask, if it was a part of British liberty to tolerate tyranny merely because it did not originate with the Crown? Was it part of the liberty of the subject to endure oppression, let it come from any quarter? He assured the House that the people of Ireland, so far from viewing the measure as a tyrannical or despotic one, claimed it as the means of ensuring to them that protection to which, as British subjects, they were entitled in return for their allegiance. For his part he would resist tyranny in every shape. It was equally dangerous, whether manifested by outrage and violence, or in the insidious form of passive obedience—that quibble, that mean stratagem, that cowardly artifice, by which crime was screened from its merited consequences. The prospect of impunity was one of the most effectual means by which crime was propagated, and until an end was put to that system of tyranny, by which the agitators of Ireland were enabled to offer that prospect to those whom they deluded, the progress of outrage would not be effectually checked. "Punish the midnight marauder and the daring White-feet, but do not destroy the liberties of a whole country," was the cry of the opponents of the Bill. He (Colonel Conolly) would prefer seeing punishment inflicted on the principals, the promoters of agitation and outrage, who, while they managed to screen themselves from responsibility, sought to sacrifice those whom they induced to violate the laws of their country. It was said, that justice was wanted in Ireland. True, it was imperiously wanted. It was wanted to meet those who, by a Jesuitical sophistry, and by a cowardly stratagem, sought to evade it. His principal motive in supporting the Bill was, that it was calculated to drag from their concealment those designing agitators who lurked behind backs—because it would catch the lion, and with it all the other animals that surrounded—all those little jackalls who aided the hon's designing plans. If the Bill was so successful—if the lion and those jackalls were caught in the net spread out for them—sure he was, that it would not be necessary to enforce the harsh provisions of the Bill, and those who were led on to a violation of the laws would in the end be preserved from that utter ruin and destruction in which their reputed friends wished to involve them. Before concluding, he wished 423 to make one observation respecting that provision which related to the Courts-martial. It was said they were likely to be prejudiced against the people. Such a charge argued, he thought, the grossest mistake, and could only be founded either in total ignorance or wilful injustice. From the experience he had had of such Courts, he could safely assert that no body of men were less likely to act from prejudice in the discharge of an important duty than the officers of the British army. He thought that the departure from the line of the Constitution which the Bill proposed was not only called for, but ex tremely judicious. Perhaps it might have answered to have kept within the extreme bounds of the Constitution; but he fully agreed with Ministers in thinking that, when any departure from the ordinary line was necessary, it was much better to take that course which could establish no precedent, and which never could be hereafter adduced in support of Ministers when they wished to do wrong. Looking at the measure in any point of view, he thought it was sanctioned by necessity, and offered every reasonable prospect of attaining the desired object. He would resist the amendment which the hon. member for Middlesex had moved, with the view of impeding its second reading.
§ Mr. Richards
regretted, that he had not obtained the notice of the House in the debate on the first reading of this Bill; because, approving as he did, of the two first enactments of the Bill, and, to that limited extent, wishing to support it, he should, if he had had an opportunity of delivering his sentiments, have voted for the first reading, instead of against it. But he would never on any occasion, consent to vote for the suspension of one tittle of the liberties of any portion of the people, unless he was previously allowed, in the face of the House and of the country, to explain fully his reasons for doing so. An hon. Gentleman had asked, "whether there be a single Member of this House who would vote for the suppression of the Political Unions which have been organized in England?" To that question he would answer, that he was ready to vote for the suppression of such societies, either in England, Ireland, or any other part of the kingdom in which they might exist. Before the passing of the Reform Act, he had thought it not only proper but necessary to agitate. He had been himself, 424 he was ready to admit, an agitator. The Representation of the people was then a mockery. But now, when the Reformed Act had passed, and the people were fairly and fully represented in the House, it was presumptuous in any set of men, to endeavour to promote the continued existence of organized political associations. Such associations might, in these times of difficulty and distress, give a direction to the popular feelings, fatal to the lives and fortunes of individuals, and dangerous to the State itself. They might destroy confidence and credit; and thus involve all in one common ruin. For the sake, therefore, of the people themselves, he would suppress these associations. Besides, from what he had seen of Gentlemen in that House, no men could be better disposed and more ready to consider the causes of the national distress, or more anxious to discover and apply those remedies which were likely to cure that distress, than they. They were intelligent and desirous to advance the interests of their country. But although he considered the continued existence of organized political associations both inconvenient and dangerous, and was, therefore, willing to vote for the two first enactments of the Bill, he could not consent, on any evidence which had been adduced, to deprive the Irish nation of the writ of Habeas Corpus, the Trial by Jury, the right of petition, and the liberty of the Press. And, still less would he consent to inflict on the peasantry of Ireland Martial Law;—driven as he believed that peasantry to be, to desperation, by distress. In the course of the discussions on this Bill they had heard very frequent mention of Black feet and Whitefeet; so that a stranger might be led to suppose that hon. Gentlemen were speaking, not of the peasantry of Ireland, but of savage wild beasts. The use of these barbarous terms had a great tendency to mislead the mind; and it would be well if hon. Gentlemen would not only lay aside the use of these terms, but seriously reflect on the causes of those atrocities which had led then" thus to characterize the naturally lively, gay, jocund peasantry of Ireland. The hon. member for Banbury, in common with the right hon. member for Tarn worth, and most other hon. Gentlemen who had spoken on their side of the question, had brought into bold relief the crimes that had been committed in Ireland. The 425 right hon. member for Tamworth in advocating the passing of the Bill, exclaimed: "Are we agreed as to the facts of the case?" He then enumerated a list of crimes. No one disputed that crimes had been perpetrated; and that it was fit and necessary that these crimes should be repressed and punished. The great question, however, for that House, as legislators, was, what were the causes which had led to the commission of these crimes? Men did not indulge in systematic murders for the mere sake of murder. Yet murder was committed in Ireland on a system. What was the cause of this? Alas! hunger and misery were the immediate cause. No hon. Gentleman so far as he could recollect had described the want and misery under which the peasantry of Ireland laboured. The right hon. member for Tamworth did certainly say, "no doubt there is some privation." And the hon. and learned member for Dublin did, for a moment, touch eloquently on the subject. The independent part of the Press had indeed depicted, in glowing colours, their distress. In bold, manly, fearless language, the Press had done its duty; and he begged the conductors of that Press to accept his thanks. It had not only painted the misery of the Irish poor, but pointed out the remedy for it. He meant no disrespect to the noble Lord opposite, but, on the subject of the situation of Ireland, the Press appeared to him far in advance both of him and his colleagues. In order to show the state of the peasantry of Ireland, he would, with the permission of the House, read part of a letter which he had received a few days ago, from a gentleman in Ireland [Question.] He appealed to the Speaker, whether he was not speaking to the question? Was it not desirable to hear statements of facts from persons of undoubted credit who resided in Ireland? Was information of this kind of no value? There were some hon. Members—he hoped their number was small—who were quick to perceive, and eager to expose, trifling imperfections and venial faults, arising from want of practice in the forms of that House; but who were blind to what was useful, and regardless of what was valuable. He was speaking strictly to the question; and he would ask those hon. Gentlemen who had dared to interrupt him, to listen to the facts which he had to detail. His correspondent said: 'A perusal of your 426 speech has induced me to send you the inclosed picture of two parishes in the province of Connaught; applicable, I regret to say, to one-half at least of the south and west of this most wretched country. The picture this gentleman spoke of was contained in a printed paper, which he held in his hand. It was an extract of a letter from a clergyman residing in the county of Galway in 1831. It said: 'The misery of the great bulk of the people here exceeds my powers of description. Their condition is the most' wretched of any people who have come within my observation; not only in this period of distress, but ever since I have been acquainted with them; and yet there does not exist a body of people more averse to outrage, more observant of the laws, or more obedient and respectful to the constituted authornies. Their ordinary condition you may form some inadequate idea of, when I assure you, that I know, of my own knowledge, that they are not half covered, night or day; taking an average of the number attending divine service, they are, at most, as three to five of the adults, the remaining two being absent through nakedness; attending on alternate Sundays, as "the round of the rags" may reach them. Their beds are never better than straw or wet grass, and rushes in the summer season; and, as for their food, they would never sigh forth one single murmur, if they had, even twice a day, a competent portion of dry potatoes. Should you know any gentleman acquainted with the poor in this district, I fearlessly appeal to him, whether the statement I have made be not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'. Would the hon. Gentleman who interrupted him, say, that the statement he had just read was not to the question? The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Treasury, with that good sense and sound judgment which distinguished him, had observed, the other night, "that misery is the fruitful parent of crime; "and Lord Bacon said," that almost all insurrections of the people may be traced to the belly. "In this sentiment he concurred; and he attributed the predial disturbances which now afflicted and distracted Ireland, to want, and hunger, and misery. If he possessed the eloquence of the right hon. member for Tamworth, he would attempt to depict to the House 427 the distress which, in numerous instances, was found in an Irish peasant's cabin—he would describe the helpless father of a family, helpless and miserable from no fault of his own, but from the total want of employment,) sitting in his wretched cabin, huddled, with his wife and children, over the dying embers of their turf-fire, his head hanging on his breast, apparently insensible to the cries of his children for food—he would describe the mother, with pale cheeks and sunken eyes, looking sorrowfully, first at her half-famished children, and then at her husband: the husband, unable to afford any assistance, remaining sad, silent, and thoughtful, brooding over the means by which he might possibly procure some subsistence for those who looked to him for support—he thought, for a moment, of the splended mansion-house in the neighbourhood; but the owner was in England, or in France, or in Italy, enjoying the produce of his estate, but wholly reckless of the condition of those whose lot was cast in the neighbourhood whence he derived his income: from him, therefore, there was no chance of relief; and that House, which ought to protect the distressed and the needy, and those who had none to help them, had made for the poor of Ireland no legal provisions In this state of mind and body, the wretch he had described was visited by a man almost equally wretched: suddenly there was a noise—a step was heard at the door—a man (an acquaintance, perhaps) entered, full of grief and agitation, and cried—" I, also, have had my plot of land taken away from me; let us send a notice to quit to those who have possessed themselves of it." The half-starved peasant, to whom this was addressed, raised his head—a ray of hope flashed across his mind; and he lent a willing car to any plan which afforded even the slightest chance of bettering his condition. The notice was sent—it was disregarded; and these men, goaded to madness by despair, and looking at their wives and children, perpetrated deeds at which humanity shuddered and wept, He would ask hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, whether the competition for land, and the want of employment, was not the cause of the predial disturbances in Ireland? These Gentlemen said yes! He, therefore, differred from his Majesty's Ministers as to the sort of measures required for Ireland. 428 He should think himself disgraced if he were to offer any factious opposition to Ministers; but the remedy they proposed was the clumsy one of brute force, and, standing there as a Member of the British House of Commons, he could not give his consent to measures, the fitness and necessity of which, were not borne out by the facts and circumstances of the case. He hoped there was no presumption in saying this; he assured hon. Gentlemen that he never entertained so humble an opinion of himself as he had done since he became a Member of that House. He must repeat, that no case was made out to warrant the coercive measures which were proposed. In the preamble of this Bill it was stated, "that a dangerous conspiracy exists "[Question]. He had listened with the utmost attention, for five long nights, to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen—speeches, several of them, of one and two hours' duration—speeches which reminded him of the crambe repetita of Juvenal; for never were the Roman soldiers more tired of sour cabbage, than he had been of the statements, decies repetita, made by hon. Gentlemen of outrages in Ireland. Not one, however, of the Gentlemen who had spoken, had traced these outrages either to their immediate or remote causes. And was he to be interrupted because he had attempted to do so? In the preamble of this Bill it was alleged, "that a dangerous conspiracy existed in Ireland." He had given the closest and most painful attention to the statements of his Majesty's Ministers, in order to ascertain if they could prove the truth of that allegation. But he had been able to collect nothing from those statements which proved, in the slightest degree, the existence of any conspiracy. Indeed, if he were sitting as a Grand Juror, he should, acting on his oath, feel bound to ignore, on such evidence, a bill for petty larceny. No one admired more than he did, the candour and sincerity of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he had not attempted, in the detail of the outrages which he enumerated, to show any connexion between what had been called predial agitation and political agitation. The noble Lord had not attempted that; and the feeling of the House seemed to be, that his case had failed. But, then, what did the right hon. Secretary for Ireland do? He got up, under some excitement; and, with that fervid eloquence, in which he 429 excelled any other member of the House, endeavoured, with less sincerity than the; noble Lord, but with more art, to mislead I the House. He appealed to their passions and their feelings—not to their reason and their judgment. With somewhat of theatrical effect, he took out letter after letter from his red box, (differing, in that respect only, from one of his predecessors in office. Lord Castlereagh, who used to encase such documents in a green bag), and read from them extracts giving details of outrages in Ireland; which, rendered more striking by the right hon. Gentleman's great powers of description, did, certainly, produce on the minds of those Hon. Gentlemen, who were influenced more by their feelings than their reason, a very considerable effect. But what was the nature of the evidence which the right hon. Gentleman adduced? Would it be received in any court of justice in the kingdom? Would these anonymous letters—would the wretched ballad-be received? No. The ballad, indeed, might be well calculated to excite a prejudice against the hon. and learned member for Dublin; and, if used with such a view, it was utterly unworthy of the right hon. Secretary. He did not wish to diminish the reputation of the right hon. Secretary and to injure his character. For, looking to the clear, able, statesmanlike manner in which he introduced his Bill for reforming the Grand Jury system in Ireland, he (Mr. Richards) was of opinion that there was no statesman living from whom, when he should have acquired greater experience, more might be expected; nor any one whom the country regarded with greater confidence and hope. But, in the present instance, he had completely failed. He had endeavoured to eke out his case by bringing under the notice of the House some imprudent language used by a Mr. Steele; and also similar imprudent language, made use of, on a recent occasion, by the hon. and learned member for Dublin. But the Irish nation was not to be deprived of its constitutional rights and liberties on the alleged indiscretion of either, or both, of those two gentlemen. But then came the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tam-worth; and he endeavoured to prove a conspiracy, by bringing forward a story of papers having been found on a certain person thirty-five years ago! At that time, hon. Gentlemen would recollect, there was a French party in Ireland. 430 Was there any French party now? But, whether there be or not, was there anything to connect the hon. and learned member for Dublin with an individual who, in 1798,—he did not dispute the fact,—was taken with treasonable papers upon him? The right hon. Baronet appealed, also to the feelings of the House. In eloquent, touching, pathetic language, he described a case of most cruel murder which happened sixteen or twenty years ago. Nobody doubted the fact. There was no difference of opinion as to the enormity of that and similar crimes which had happened in Ireland. But he would dispute and indeed wholly deny the monstrous conclusion of the right hon. Baronet, that those outrages had been occasioned by political agitation: and, as to a conspiracy, there was not the slightest evidence whatever to show that any such thing existed. He could imagine, if the right hon. Baronet could not, some motive other than that of wishing to create predial disturbances, that political agitators might have in view, namely, the obvious one of frightening the Government to do justice to Ireland. He would repeat, that the great question for that House, as legislators to consider, was, what were the immediate and remote causes which occasioned the frequent commission of crime in Ireland. But these the right hon. Baronet appeared not to understand. He admitted, that the poor laboured under some privations. Some privations! why thousands of them were actually starving. Who could be more wretched than the peasant out of employment? What resources had be? Destitute of food he might in forty-eight hours become as helpless as a babe, [cries of "Question"]. Sir, said the hon. Member, I am speaking to the question though the House will not listen to me—I am no noble Lord—I have no aristocratic blood circulating in my veins, but I am here as the representative of a respectable constituency fearless and regardless of the interruptions with which the remarks which I venture to make on this important Bill may be received, and I treat those interruptions with contumelious contempt." He was prepared (continued the hon. Member) to prove—but he dared not and would not wait to do so in the present temper of the House—he was prepared to prove that the alteration in the value of money, and the want of Poor-laws, were the real cause of the 431 outrages and misery of Ireland; and he thought that those who attributed the outrages to any thing done by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, or any other man, were far from knowing the real cause of the evils of that country.
§ Lord Oxmantown
rose principally in order to afford the hon. member for Middlesex the information he wanted, and to make a few observations on some of the statements of a few of the hon Members of that House which had led to so much of the opposition which had been offered to the Bill. He did this with those feelings of regret, which he always had when he intruded himself upon the attention of the Mouse; but the revolutionary party in Ireland, owing-to very peculiar circumstances had obtained such an extraordinary political power that If he did not explain himself, and make a statement of facts, he should justly be exposed to the charge of shrinking from the discharge of a very necessary but a very painful duty. Owing to the lateness of the hour, and to the extraordinary state of the House, he had not previously risen to contradict the unfounded assertion that the King's County was in a state of perfect tranquillity. Never within the walls of that House had there been a more unfounded statement. If the House would bear with him but for a moment he felt sure that he could convince the hon. member for Middlesex, and the House itself, that everything possible had been done by the Magistrates to suppress the disturbances of the King's County, and that there now existed such a case of overwhelming necessity as could alone justify the measure before the House. Until two years ago the King's County had been in a state of perfect tranquillity but the minds of the peasantry had been very much disturbed and excited by the hopes they entertained from the Committee of that House which had been appointed on the state of Ireland; for they hoped and expected some great political convulsion, which would have the effect of entirely putting down the upper classes of society, and causing a different distribution of property. As an instance of the peculiar effect of such a state of society he should beg leave of the House to call its attention to one case. It had long been the practice in Ireland to grant leases on three lives, a period he believed much longer than was usual in this country. The consequence was that the tenants were long in the 432 possession of the land on the terms of paying only one-third, or perhaps one-half of the value of the rental. The tenants so circumstanced might become rich, and in process of time they might become proprietors of small estates. Such, at least, would be the case in England, where the people directed their industry and guided their conduct with a view to increase their respectability, and to raise themselves and their families in the scale of society. But this excellent feature in the English character was not witnessed in Ireland. He could mention more than a hundred instances where tenants had been so circumstanced, and in not one of those instances had a single tenant raised or tried to raise himself in the scale of civilization. Their practice was, to keep for themselves only half the land, and that half they cultivated in the most imperfect and slovenly manner; and their delight was, to spend all their time in some alehouse, talking politics, and thus, when their leases expired, they were found to be no better off in circumstances. It was this perpetual state of political excitement which paralyzed all industry, and deteriorated the character of the Irish peasantry. Two years ago a tithe meeting had been held in King's County, and from that moment the county had not been free from disturbances. As soon as the outrageous character of that system was manifested a meeting of the Magistrates was held, and every thing was done that was thought likely to have the effect of checking disturbances. Notwithstanding all this, the system, he was sorry to say, gained ground throughout the country, and at the present moment he regretted that he was obliged to state to the House that the country was in a state the most disturbed. He would beg leave to read an extract from a letter he had received upon the subject only by that day's post. The writer said—I am sorry to sec that 'so many of the English Members of the House of Commons lean against the coercive measures, and I feel that they do not understand the state of this country. They say that redress should precede coercion, but it is the peaceable and respectable part of the inhabitants that require redress. When they are under the terror of those banditti, and are obliged to barricade their doors every evening—when they cannot venture out of their houses after nightfall—when 433 they cannot go about their farms or even their gardens without arms to protect them—when they are fired at from behind hedges and waylaid, and when all social intercourse, except in open day, is interrupted—and when no Protestant Clergy-man can go to his duty from fear of being assassinated, such people require redress, and not the lawless whom the coercive measures will affect'. He had no hesitation in assuring the House that this letter contained an accurate description of the state of the country. There had been thirteen robberies, twenty-three burglaries, thirty-two burnings, eighty-six assaults, 191 notices, twenty-four illegal meetings, thirty-one cases of injury to property, twenty-three to cattle, twenty-four to houses, and twelve homicides, in that county in the last year. When the system had commenced, it had been directed against all individuals, without any distinction; but now the contest lay between the Roman Catholics and Protestants, The Protestants knew their disparity of numbers, and felt how unavailing were their struggles. The Magistrates and political authorities had made every exertion to suppress such a dreadful state of tyranny. Assemblies to resist the law were but too easily formed. The revolutionary reformers met together, and were prepared for the commission of crime. They bound themselves by an oath to be true to each other, and to act when called upon. They next supplied themselves with arms, and their arrangements were so made, that no persons ever went to commit their outrages where they could be known. They crossed fields, they traversed bogs, and they never came in contact with the police, or if they did, and a contest took place, they abandoned the wounded man to his fate; and, although he was sacrificed, he never betrayed his companions. There were instances of this which had come within his own knowledge. An armed party of twenty had once proceeded to attack a farmer's house for the purpose of collecting arms. They waited outside for an opportunity of finding the door open and rushing in to effect their criminal purpose. This opportunity did not occur, but, after waiting some time, they caught one of the farmer's sons, a lad of fourteen or fifteen years of age, and they ordered him to go to his father's door and open it. He refused, and they threatened to shoot him. He still refused, and 434 they beat him unmercifully with the butt-end of their muskets but in vain. They then went to the door, and showed the father that they had caught his son, and threatened to murder the boy if the door was not opened. The farmer had two other sons, who quickly armed themselves, and the party outside fired a volley, without, however, hurting any body. The persons within the house fired and shot one of the assailants, and wounded another, when the rest of the party made off, and left the wounded man in possession of the other party. The wounded man was then conveyed to the hospital, and the Magistrates attended there. At length the father of the wounded man came to the hospital and requested to see his son. This was of course granted, and all that the father wanted was, to say: "Son, hold fast, and die like a man." Let the House recollect the state in which the son was placed, wounded and taken in the commission of the crime, and judge from it, whether in such a state of the peasantry, the ordinary power of the law could be sufficient to restore tranquillity, and to protect the lives and property of the well-disposed and valuable members of society. The combinations of the people had been formed in the first instance for political objects, but they were now made applicable to all other purposes. The Terry Alt law came in constant competition with the law of the land, and invariably put it down. If two laws came into competition, that which was the most powerful, and was sanctioned the most by the people, would be sure to get the upper hand of the other; and the truth of this had been fully established in the state of Ireland to which he was now alluding. In fact, the law which had the power to punish with most certainty, and with most severity, was sure to triumph. If any man should transgress the law of Terry Alt he was sure to be attacked by night or day, in going to the fair, or returning from the market, or upon some other occasion; and he fell a sacrifice sooner or later. No man could escape with impunity; whilst if a man violated the law of the land he was as sure to escape with impunity. Of 490 crimes committed last year in the King's County, only twelve as yet had been brought to trial, and he believed that, in all, not twenty would be brought to trial and convicted; so that the chances of escape were about twenty 435 or thirty to one, and which, in fact, was saying, that offenders against the law of the laud were almost certain of an impunity. The law of Terry Alt, therefore, had put down the law of the land. The hon. member for Middlesex had talked of the Special Commissions, and had declared that they were the proper course for the prevention of crime. He had argued in this way because the Special Commissions had been effectual in the county of Clare; but he must tell the hon. member for Middlesex, that the state of Clare had been totally different from the system which now prevailed throughout the disturbed districts. In the county of Clare the crimes had been committed by daylight, but they were now perpetrated in the King's County, so that no evidence could be procured to convict the guilty. He would defy any Gentleman to point out any way in which the Special Commissions could by any possibility be made effectual under the circumstances in which the outrages were now committed in the King's County. Hon. Members had set themselves most strenuously against Courts-martial, but he would with reference to Courts-martial say, that they comprised none of the objections which had been urged against them with respect to the new offences. One offence, for instance, was, that of a man's being out of his house at night after a certain hour, and the evidence in such cases could not be difficult to collect, for it would consist of the police officers and the Magistrates who had caught them out of their houses. The Courts-martial were not to supply the evidence, but it was a tribunal which was not to be intimidated; and he could bring forward many strong facts of Jurors being intimidated, not with standing what he had heard said to the contrary in that House. A statement had been made by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that there was no evidence to show that any witnesses had been recently injured on account of evidence which they had given against criminals. He had felt astonished when he had heard the hon. and learned Member make the assertion. It was notorious to everybody who knew anything of Ireland, that a very great number of the numerous assault cases that occurred in Ireland were committed on the persons who had acted the part of prosecutors or witnesses, not only in criminal proceedings, but in civil cases. As a 436 Magistrate he could say, that he knew personally, at least forty cases of this sort at the Quarter Sessions alone. Proofs of this fact could be easily obtained by applying to the Assistant Barristers. There was a part of the Bill to which he found the hon. and learned Member entertained a still stronger objection, and this was a part which appeared to him to be essential, and he hoped he should succeed in showing, that however plausible the objections might appear, they were, in fact, without any foundation. He alluded to that part of the Bill which authorized the Magistrates of Police to enter houses by night. It had been stated, that when a similar power had been given to Magistrates on former occasions it had been very much abused, and that many cruel and scandalous offences had been committed under the sanction, or at least by means, of that part of the law. It had likewise been stated by a noble Lord in another place, that the power had been much abused. He would not venture to dispute the point with the noble Lord, and, indeed, he would concede the point that the cases which had been stated, had really occurred, and just as they had been represented. But, if he admitted that they had occurred, he must beg the House to recollect it was under a system and a state of law totally different from that which now existed, and which would exist when the present Bill should have passed. These abuses had, in fact, happened under a system which afforded every facility to abuse; and was it not wrong to infer from that, that such abuses were likely to occur again? When the Insurrection Act had been formerly in force, there had been no Petty Sessions; the Magistrates tried cases privately, and were not responsible for their conduct. The officers who administered the laws of the Magistrates were well known in Ireland by the name of little barony constables, a peculiar class of peace officers, under the absolute control of the Magistrates, with very small salaries, and likely, therefore, to sacrifice everything in order to please those on whom they depended. Was this at all similar to anything which now existed? At present all proceedings of the Magistrates were open, and they acted under the eve of the Lord Lieutenant, and under a police system, which if not perfect, was still the very best system of police which existed. Many gentlemen in that corps had places of exceeding value, 437 and it was not likely they would commit any great abuse of power. But the powers which hon. Members hesitated to confer under this Bill in fact already existed in Ireland, for if a Magistrate issued a warrant for an apprehension for a felony, it might rest in quiet even for a year, or during that period frequent searches might be made under its authority. He had never heard of one single complaint of any abuse of this power, and, if it were not given under this Bill, he believed that the new law would not be likely to be very efficient. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had made some statements in order to show that there was no connexion between predial and political agitation, and that he believed, that the disturbances arose solely from distress. He (Lord Oxman-town) thought that he had it in his power to state a few facts which would fully show that these outrages proceeded, not from distress, but entirely from political agitation, and from the circumstances which political agitation influenced and produced. The Terry Alt system had commenced immediately after the tithe meeting he had alluded to was held, and immediately after the hon. and learned member for Dublin had delivered his exciting speech in the King's County. This might by possibility be accidental, nor did he mean to show that they were connected; but still he thought that some little ground was formed for suspicion. At that time there had been no forcible attempt to collect tithes in the King's County, nor had there been there any tithe outrages, with at least a very few exceptions; for the moment the tithe meeting took place the Protestant clergy gave up all attempts to collect them. He would maintain, therefore, that tithes had nothing to do with the Terry Alt system, and, as it had nothing to do with distress, he could not but infer that it was connected chiefly with the inflammatory speeches delivered to the poor. The first man who had been convicted of Terry Altism was a respectable farmer, and therefore a man not in distress. In the numerous robberies for arms scarcely an instance occurred in the King's County, for the last twelve months, where any money had been demanded or taken. Many instances had occurred where money had been offered and had been refused. Distress, therefore, could not be the cause of these acts. Another fact in corroboration of his opinion was, 438 that no witnesses had come forward, notwithstanding such very large rewards had been offered for King's evidence. The right hon. Secretary had stated, that as much as 12,000l. had been offered in reward for evidence, and that very little of it had been claimed. If persons had been driven by urgent distress to commit these crimes, was it to be believed that they would resist such temptations of so large a reward, accompanied with the certainty of their being sent out of the country and made comfortable for the rest of their lives? He had another fact still stronger. There was no instance of any Protestant having been engaged in the Terry Alt system. He repeated, that distress was not the source of these outrages. No, the case was this—that the whole system was one which was essentially revolutionary. It was a system of intimidation which had induced many of the Protestant peasantry to join in it from motives of interest, because he felt that if he offered any opposition to the lawless bands of men who carried on a system of intimidation, he would be among the first victims to their fury. They had heard a great deal of the putting down these disturbances by certain Associations. As had been stated by the hon. member for Wexford, there was in Ireland a revolutionary party—a party, he would say, which was looking, not merely to revolution, accompanied by a change of Government, but to revolution, accompanied with confiscation of property. That party made use of the name of the hon. and learned member for Dublin as the rallying cry—as the centre of their Union—as the successful guide to the attainment of political power. The attempt to put down these Associations by the hon. and learned member for Dublin might appear to be well directed; but did his address to the peasantry of Ireland tell them with justice that if they pursued their present career they were the enemies of their country? It might even do this; but would that peasantry believe him to be sincere in their cause? Or were they not sharp enough to know that it was to them the hon. and learned Member was indebted for his popularity? Were they not shrewd enough to perceive that through their means he had achieved much? Without their aid would the Terry Alts have existed? Why, while the hon. and learned Member made speeches in Dublin, his 439 Terry Alts were active elsewhere; and could that hon. and learned Member, for a moment believe, that if he were willing to disband his troops they would not at once pronounce him as a traitor from their cause? He (Lord Oxmantown) would admit, that this was a strong measure, but he was convinced that it was not stronger than the exigency of the case required; and that, severe as its provisions might be, it would be hailed with satisfaction by all peaceable and loyal men, inasmuch as it would place them in a condition much more preferable than that in which they were placed at the present moment. The noble Lord sat down, by saying, that he felt he had trespassed too long on the attention of the House, and therefore, he would not dwell upon those measures by which he conceived this measure ought to be followed up.
§ Mr. Ronayne
opposed the Bill. He trusted, that the same attention would be given to an advocate of liberty, and enemy of tyranny and oppression, as had been given to the last speaker, who had avowed himself the advocate of coercion and oppression for his unhappy country. The preamble of this Bill set forth, that "a dangerous conspiracy was prevalent in certain parts of Ireland, against the rights of property, &c." Now, he was very much at a loss to understand against what species of properly this dangerous conspiracy was prevalent, except it were that of tithes—a property to which the present proceedings of Ministers bore no reference. The preamble next set forth the dangers resulting from "tumultuous assemblies of large bodies of ill-disposed persons, calculated to excite general alarm and intimidation." Now it appeared to him, that not the slightest evidence had been produced to substantiate this allegation "of the assemblage of large bodies." On the contrary, the only assemblages mentioned had been in three or four of the inland counties, and only proved the existence of a species of Agrarian violence; but he denied, that large bodies of armed men were disturbing the free course of justice. There was also in the Bill a provision to suppress particular associations by the authority of the Lord Lieutenant. That was a most arbitrary provision, the drift of which could easily be perceived. As to the evidence produced by the right hon. Secretary to connect predial with political agitation, it contained no proof what- 440 ever to connect that predial agitation with anything which had been done by the association which would be put down by this Bill. On a former occasion, when the then Ministers wished to put down the Catholic Association, they came forward with extracts of speeches made in that Association, which they deemed of a dangerous character and tendency. At present there was not evidence before the House sufficient to ensure a conviction in a case of petty larcency. The only alleged ground brought forward for this Bill was contained in a series of letters produced from the red box of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who had not, however, condescended to favour the House with the names of his correspondents. What were the reasons for this mystery—this concealment? There could be but two: either that the parties were not of sufficient weight or responsibility, if named, to have produced any effect on the House—though on this point he believed, that the argument of the right hon. Secretary for concealment, was consideration for the writers on the score of alleged intimidation. [cheers.] Hon. Members on the opposite side of the House cheered very vehemently, but would they continue their cheers when he had made his next observation? How was it, that the hon. &Secretary had not retained this consideration for the whole of his correspondents? How was it that when one of them happened to be a really respectable and responsible person—why was not intimidation apprehended for him? How was it that the right hon. Secretary favoured the House with the name of one of his correspondents, when that correspondent happened to be Sir I Prtrick Bellew? [Mr. Stanley: They were private letters.] He was glad to hear the admission that these were not official documents, but mere private communications. The letter only of. Sir Patrick Bellew, it appeared, was an official, the rest were all unofficial communications. So that they were called on to pass this Bill on the mere authority of private letters. Precedents were very seductive things, and the noble Lord (Oxmantown), following the example of the right hon. Secretary, read a letter, and, acting under the influence of the right hon. Secretary, also withheld the name of the writer [Lord Oxmantown said, he had stated the facts on his own responsibility.3 Responsibility might 441 certainly be a very sounding expression, though he could not exactly find out any meaning in it. The hon. Member spoke on his own responsibility. His Majesty's Ministers did what they took a fancy to, and the only answer to every remonstrance was, that they acted on their own responsibility." The only real responsibility he had any confidence in was, that which was understood in the good old fashion, when those Ministers who betrayed their country "on their own responsibility," were brought to the block. No instances of that kind had occurred of late years, although acts might have been perpetrated that called for such a proceeding. He had listened with profound attention, the other evening, to the eloquent speech of the hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Harvey); but on one point he differed from him. That hon. Member was of opinion, that a measure of this nature should have originated in the House of Commons. Now, he rejoiced, that it had not originated in that House of Representatives, but in another and a very different place. He thought it would be most unfortunate for the character of that House if it originated there. It was quite in keeping, that a Bill, which tended to the destruction of the people should emanate in that same House, and be hurried through with such disgraceful haste, which was the last to concede the rights of the people—in that House where the abuses of every rotten borough were protected with such fostering care six months ago [oh! oh!.]. He did not care for the "oh! oh!" of hon. Members; he was not to be gagged by them, as they were about to gag his unfortunate country. He had also received letters from Ireland, and he would read one to the House, which was not anonymous. This letter, which bore date last week, "strongly urged the Irish Members to fight hard, and not allow so atrocious a measure to pass, for which, it added, there was not the slightest necessity. Many English Members had acted a glorious part in opposing it. There was going to be a large county meeting in a day or two to petition against it. As to the Conservatives, the general opinion was, that they would vote for tying logs to the legs of every Irishman, if a bill to that effect were brought before Parliament." This was the effect of the letter, and now he would inform the House whose opinions 442 these were; the writer was Sir Richard Musgrave, one of the late Members of that House, and than whom not a worthier or more excellent gentleman could be mentioned. Was not the evidence of such a man much more important and worthy of attention than that of the twenty-six Stipendiary Magistrates, whose appointments had been made by his Majesty's present weak Ministry? that Ministry, who set up for such impartiality as to be indifferent to either side; whose banner-motto was—Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur.The Ministry had also another important argument for their proceedings. The right hon. Secretary had, the other night, amongst other documents, introduced with great theatrical effect, a miserable ballad, which was received with great applause by an admiring auditory. If they were in want of arguments, he could produce one in the shape of a broader sheet of paper than their ballad, and which contained much more important matter, and which was signed, moreover, by no unimportant characters—at the head of the list appearing the name of E. G. Stanley, a name followed by others no less distinguished, such as those of D. Joy, E. Mann, D. Stanley, with God save the King. That document was the proclamation issued by the Irish Government to enforce the payment of tithes, and he held in his hand a list of persons who were processed under it. This was no newspaper statement; it was an official document, and a little more important than the right hon. Secretary's ballad. That document authorised the enforcement of processes for a large amount of tithes in different parishes, the value of many of the tithes claimed being but a farthing. There he found a case in which, at the suit of a rev. Mr. Palmer, a poor man was obliged to come a very long journey to show cause why he should not pay tithe due to that rev. gentleman, amounting to no less a sum than one penny. He did not say, that the case of Mr. Palmer was a fair sample of all the clergy. It was, perhaps, worse than the average. Its truth, however, could not be doubted, for he had documents in his hand, written by Mr. Palmer himself, to prove it. He had to complain, too, that the law officers carried the law into execution in a manner most unfavourable to the people. The proclamation was issued on November 21, and ought not to have been enforced 443 till December 21. The law officers of the Crown, however, carried it into execution, in his opinion, most illegally, in about ten or twelve days. In one case, indeed, it was ruled against the Attorney General. Would that House suffer such a system to continue? Pledges had been given by the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) that the present measure should not be used for the enforcement of tithes, and the noble Lord who sat for Nottingham, also laboured lo show, that Government had no intention of applying it for that purpose; but the right hon. Secretary for Ireland gave no sign of assent to the proposition. The people of Ireland recollected the right hon. Gentleman's declaration that he would never suffer any portion of Church property to be diverted from ecclesiastical uses. That declaration had remained un retracted up to the present hour. Was the tithe system, then, calculated to restore peace to Ireland? Was it calculated to restore peace to that country, that her destinies should be suffered to remain in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman who had made that declaration? The Irish could not forget that eighteen months ago, the right hon. Gentleman had proposed an Arms Bill for Ireland, which exposed every man to be transported, who had a musket in his possession not branded and registered by the officers of the Government. The Irish could not forget that the right hon. Gentleman was the first person to suggest changing the venue. The propositions of the right hon. Gentleman were rejected by the Parliament before it was Reformed, and were they to be carried by acclamation in the first Reformed Parliament? The right hon. Gentleman talked of reading Ireland a lesson; he was afraid that it might be in characters of blood. Could the right hon. Gentleman teach a lesson to 8,000,000 of people? Let him first learn the discreet lesson to do no wrong. Let him also learn that the law derives all its force from the acquiescence of the people. The three estates might make the laws; but they would have no force, if they were opposed to the feelings of the people. What was the tithe system? It was unparalleled in the whole history of wrong. It was a Church which would be overpaid, supposing every Irishman a member of it, levying all its revenue from those who never profited by its doctrines. But it was said, that the Bill was necessary to vindicate 444 this law. It would be better, in his opinion, to reverse the proceeding, and first make the law worthy of being vindicated. Let them remove the causes of the grievances, and make the laws so that the people could admire them for their justice, and then they would willingly obey them. His poetic countryman was a prophet as well as a poet. Mr. Moore said, most justly—As long as Popish spade and scytheShall dig and cut the Sassanagh's tithe.And Popish purses pay the tollsOn Heaven's road for Sassanagh souls—So long the merry reign shall beOf Captain Rock and his family.The people were told they must acquiesce in these laws; but he should like to know, when a bad law was got rid of by acquiescing in it? The Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights were not got by acquiescence. No improvement was ever made by any Government in its institutions, unless it were coerced by some moral or physical necessity. Bad laws would remain for ever, if the people acquiesced in them; for the instant they were established, a host of people were found who had an interest in maintaining them. He entreated the House not to pass the Bill, which did but crown whole ages of misrule with a concentration of all the virus of all the abominable principles of Toryism. He could not congratulate the Whig Ministry oil their new allies from the Tory camp, including the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth; and he thought that such Gentlemen opposite as had not entirely forgotten their old principles would be inclined to suspect the motives of their Tory friends, and exclaim—Non tali auxilio, nee defensoribus istis,Tompus eget,In the support of the Whigs, however, the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had led the House astray by the pathetic story he had told of an event which happened nearly twenty years ago; and if the House had not subsequently been disabused, it would have retained the impression that the event narrated was of recent occurrence, and was a picture of the present state of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had also talked of the oppression of the landlords in Ireland. He did not defend the landlords, for there was much misery in Ireland. Would the House believe that the people of that country, the most productive of the best of food, 445 abounding in cattle, pigs, and corn—would the House believe that 3,000,000 out of the 8,000,000 of inhabitants never tasted animal food except on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday? The right hon. Baronet wished them, however, to consider the tithes as having no part in causing all the misery of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet wished to preserve to the clergy the tithes of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet was sensible of many of the evils of Ireland—but what had he ever done to remedy them? For six years the right hon. Baronet had administered the Government of that country; he had supported, with all his power, that system of ascendancy which had been the curse of Ireland—he had supported the claims of the landed gentlemen against the peasantry, and had not taken any one step to remedy the evils of which he the other night so pathetically complained. The right hon. Baronet had studiously prepared that oration, and certainly he had made a great impression on the House; but while the affecting picture drawn by the right hon. Baronet had influenced the House, he himself had not been affected by it. He had turned immediately to some trifling criticism about the armorial bearings of the Gentleman who introduced the Amendment. The right hon. Baronet was almost disposed to sing them the song of "Tarry awhile with me." He had mixed up tragedy and farce and comedy all in one breath. If he had felt the horror he had painted, he could not so suddenly have changed his tone. The right hon. Baronet jesting on the misery he had sketched, reminded him of Cowper's lines—While peals of pleasantry amuse us thereWith merry descants on a nation's woes.In conclusion, the hon. Member thanked the House for the patience with which it had heard him. He implored the House not to pass this Bill, and not to leave the destinies of the nation in the hands of an individual who had admitted himself to be the most unpopular man in Ireland.
§ Mr. John Browne
The hon. Member who had last spoken, had maintained that there was no evidence before the House to support the adoption of the present measure. He begged to say, that he had himself received the strongest testimony as to the state of Ireland, from men of character, of high station, and of great importance in that House. As far as he 446 could understand, it would seem that every man except those who had entered the House upon the shoulders of a particular party had given their support to this measure. He was well aware that any hon. Member vi-ho should stand up to state his opinions broadly and manfully required the aid of some moral courage, because there was a party in Ireland, which extended itself even into that House, who were apt to torture the best in to the worst motives. It required some physical courage, because this party held up those who honestly stated their opinions to public odium; but he believed there was no independent man in that House from Ireland who, seeing the necessity of taking a firm ground in the present time, could be so lost to the interests of his country, could be such a recreant to her, as to allow personal considerations to interpose between him and his duty. He was one of those who honestly believed this measure was calculated to ensure the safety of Ireland. He believed that the time had arrived when it was necessary to arm the Executive of Ireland with these powers, with a view to secure what remained of constitutional liberty, and to protect life and property, which were now in the hands of Agrarian agitators, undoubtedly there were some persons who throve and trafficked upon the ills of their country. He knew it was quite natural for the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and those who acted with him, to protest against and denounce all those measures that had the effect of restraining them in the exercise of their powers. It might be well for those who entered that House on the shoulders of popular clamour to protest against any measure which tended to obstruct the flow of that current which had carried them there. It was natural that they should be opposed to this measure, and should desire the continuance of the present state of the law. It was equally natural, however, that the people of Ireland should desire the return of tranquillity. The greatest sufferers in Ireland were the industrious peasantry, who were cruelly punished for their loyalty to their King and obedience to the laws. He had before described the system of intimidation which existed in the county of Mayo, which was encouraged by the Political unions. The individual who most promoted it was a man driven from his caste, and forced to associate with the lowest 447 and most degraded people—who had been more than once tried for arson, and almost convicted of forgery; and this was the man who, on a former occasion, had been called the patriot of Mayo. The last place in which he saw or heard that Gentleman was in the chair at a meeting of the Volunteers of Ireland, and that single circumstance might, lie thought, give the House a good notion of the Political Unions and Volunteers of Ireland. He adjured the Government not to falter and not to go back, unless they were prepared to pass an Act to confiscate the landed property of all the gentlemen in Ireland, or to make them sell their estates. He would heartily give the Ministers his humble support, as the Bill was the only means, he believed, by which the country could get rid of the terrible tyranny which now oppressed it.
§ Mr. William Roche
Before I proceed to state the reasons which influence me, in opposing every stage of the present Bill, I must take leave to refute, as far at least as regards myself, the sarcasm or insinuation of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one, "that several Irish Members owed their seats in this House to the sole protection of a certain distinguished individual, the hon. member for Dublin." Sir, with the highest respect for the splendid talents and patriotism of that distinguished personage—I sit here indebted to no persons, to no pledge, or compact, beyond the affection of my fellow citizens, and their confidence in my principles and intentions—principles which the distinguished individual alluded to has often certainly done me the gratifying honour of recognizing. Sir, with regard to the question before the House, were it not for its paramount—its vital importance to the rights, liberties, and destinies of Ireland—a country alternately coerced, neglected, or quacked; for be its disease what it may, the chalibeate, or steel, remedy is ever sure to be applied. Were it not also, Sir, for its great though not equally immediate importance to the rights and liberties of England, which, if it cruelly or coldly looks on while the march of these arbitrary enactments are approaching its own shores, vainly imagining it can say, "so far shalt thou go and no farther," may ere long render itself exposed to the application of the adage quoted by my hon. friend the member for Dublin, the other evening—"mutalo nomine 448 de te fabula narratur" Sir, were it not for these considerations and the responsibility which I feel devolves on me as an Irish representative to express my sentiments, however briefly, on so momentous an occasion, I would be unwilling to detain the House by any remarks I could offer, uninteresting as they must be after such a prolongation of the debate, and such an exhaustion of the subject. Allow me first. Sir, to assure the House that no one could be more ready than I am to arm the Government, not certainly with overstrained and arbitrary powers, suppressive of the Constitution, but still with amply sufficient means to punish crime, put down disturbance and secure peace and good order, because no one, Sir, can be more conscious than I am, that peace and good order are the end and essence of good Government, that it is for the enjoyment of those blessings men have congregated together, and that they constitute alike the basis of personal security and public prosperity. But, Sir, when I find by recent and reiterated experience that those indispensable objects have been obtained, and can be maintained, by the known, existing, and venerated laws of the land—when I find that crimes as flagitious and disturbances as serious, as those now complained of, have been subdued by vigorous yet constitutional means, and when I further find, that those parts of Ireland, thus restored to peace and good order, have since continued in the most perfect and praiseworthy state of tranquillity, the most reluctant person, if at all candid, must be forced to the irresistible conclusion, that those novel and cruel expedients are not only unnecessary, (and even superfluity is in itself a legislative evil), but that they inflict a deep, a deadly, and a wanton wound on the principles and spirit of the Constitution, and consequently on the liberties and security of the people—measures. Sir, which should not be thought of, and could not be justified, unless rebellion raged throughout the land, whereas they are monstrously brought forward to suppress some few hundred rabble or ruffians, unactuated by revolutionary or rebellious motives, but who prey upon property, because, I fear, they conceive property pays little or no regard to their misery, yet whose crimes and disturbances demand immediate punishment and suppression. And why, Sir, has the vigorous exercise of the regular 449 law of the land produced, in other counties, the good and lasting effects I have stated, but because a degree of solemnity, awe, and reverence attached to them which will never be extended to military tribunals—tribunals abhorred in no country more, nor with more justice, than in Ireland. We are told, however, Sir, that the administration of these coercive measures will be placed in such discreet and amiable hands (those of the Marquess of Anglesey), that no fear need be apprehended or entertained of any abuse, as if he possessed ubiquity and could be everywhere; but. Sir, I for one have not seen that discretion or amiability so happily exemplified in his late conduct, or in the forced and recent collection of tithes—an impost which has been and will be, till extinguished, the primary and perennial source of Ireland's indignation and distraction, and which glossed even as it may, will ever be deemed a grossly unjust exaction by all those who do not participate either in its spiritual doctrines or temporal advantage. But, Sir, be the disposition of the individual, thus armed be yondthe established laws, ever so amiable, is national liberty and individual safety to be thus placed, as it were, under the sword of Damocles? Is this to be the improvement of the laws that was held out to us? Is this to be the substitute for the melioration of the condition of the people? No, Sir, this is not the treatment Ireland expected or deserved from a Reformed Parliament, and from those that possessed such friendship, and held out such promises to us, which almost forces me to repeat: "God preserve us from such friends, we may protect ourselves from our enemies," Their maxim is, Sir, to make coercion precede or, at least, accompany redress, and fear stand in place of love, the very reverse of wha t has ever been found to operate a sound and wholesome influence on the human mind—No, Sir, these are not the remedies Ireland stands in need of—she wants rational and conciliatory laws administered in that spirit—she wants relief for the poverty, the misery, the non-employment, and non-protection of her people, who imagining they are made no account of in society, but as hewers of wood and drawers of water, therefore, unhappily think that they can only obtain attention and redress by force and intimidation. Give them, Sir, a stake in society—give them an interest in peace 450 and good order, peace and good order will be the result. It is to tliis we should direct our whole energy, and not to exasperating measures, and if we do so direct our energies, be assured we shall reap the most gratifying harvest. I shall conclude, Sir, by uniting my humble voice to that of my country, unequivocally expressed in the multitude of petitions against these unconstitutional measures, which this day crowded your Table, (whereas, not more I believe than one petition appeared in their favour,)—namely, that you would grant redress before you inflicted coercion, meantime subduing lawlessness, should it unhappily continue, by constitutional means; and if, contrary to all expectation—if contrary to every impulse of the human mind, the disturbers of the peace should still be incorrigible, upon none need you rely more effectually than upon the Irish Members for support, for who are more interested than they, in the peace, good order, and consequent prosperity, of the country? But we cannot allow measures so uncalled for, so unconstitutional, so despotic, so particularly unbecoming the professed friends of liberty—measures calculated to exasperate rather than heal, measures that may affect the very integrity of the Empire, to pass without most anxiously, most energetically, and per-severingly deprecating and denouncing them.
§ Sir John Key
wished, in a very few words, to state the reasons which induced him to vote for the second reading of this Bill. He conceived, that it was impossible for any impartial man, who had heard the discussions that had taken place on this subject, not to arrive at the conclusion, that it was absolutely necessary to intrust his Majesty's Government with stronger powers, to put down the disgraceful insubordination that at present existed in Ireland. It had been said, that those who supported this measure wished to destroy the Constitution in Ireland. He was as ardent a friend to the Constitution as any man in that House, but he would ask, whether there existed at present anything like constitutional liberty in Ireland? He would ask, whether any man could deny, that there existed no liberty there just now, save the liberty of violating the laws, and murdering the peaceable inhabitants of the country? No one could be more desirous than he was to see re- 451 medial measures introduced for the benefit and improvement of that long misgovernjed country; and he was quite confident that such measures would be brought forward by his Majesty's Government with the least possible delay; but it was absolutely indispensable, previous to the carrying such measures into effect, that the lawless agitation that prevailed in Ireland should be put down. He had the fullest, confidence in the intentions of his Majesty's Ministers to do justice to Ireland; I and he trusted that, amongst other remedial measures, a modified and improved system of poor laws—a system that, while it protected the productive industry of the middling and lower classes would compel the absentee landlords and rich propri etors to contribute to the support of the destitute poor—would be introduced into Ireland; until something like that was done, it was idle to talk about improving the condition of the people of Ireland. He would support the second reading of the Bill, but, in doing so, he should not feel himself precluded from objecting to several of its clauses in Committee, indeed, he hoped to see the measure considerably modified in the Committee, He conceived that, instead of acting against the true interests of liberty, rightly understood, by voting fora measure founded upon the principle of that now before the llouse, arbitrary and despotic as it might appear, he did that which every friend of liberty ought to do—he did that which went to restore individual freedom, and the security of life and property in Ireland, and to place upon a lasting foundation the liberties, the peace, and the prosperity of that too-long distracted country.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
said, he should not, probably, have risen upon this occasion, had it not been for the observations—he would say the unjustifiable observations—which had been made by the hon. member for Mayo, in reference to those hon. Members who, upon that side of the House, felt it their duty to oppose the measure. That hon. Member had taunted them with a want of independence. Now, he would tell that hon. Member, that, as far as he (Mr. M. O'Ferral) was concerned, he would not yield to him in independence, either as regarded property or principle; and he would further tell him, that those who opposed this measure, were fully as inde pendent as those who supported it. If the hon. Member alluded to the pledge as 452 to the Repeal of the Union, he would beg to inform him, that he (Mr. O'Ferrall) had, in the face of his constituents, refused to take that pledge. It also appeared to him, he must say, extremely indelicate on the part of that hon. Member to drag before the House an individual who had subjected himself to a Crown prosecution, and who was at present in the hands of the Attorney General. There were some noble individuals, with whom that hon. Member was acquainted, who had been so far equally unfortunate, and, with that circumstance in his recollection, the hon. Member should have forborne from such an allusion. He expected that the Hon. Member would withdraw the reflections which he had cast upon the Members for Ireland who did not agree with the hon. Member. As to the Bill, the course he should pursue would please neither party. When on the Committee of last year, which was appointed to inquire into the cause of disturbances in the Queen's County, he had agreed with persons of the most opposite political principles in recommending that the hands of Government should be strengthened; and the singularity of so extraordinary an agreement of opinion ought to have induced the hon. Secretary for Ireland to try those powers rather than resort to such a bill as the present. It was most important to consider whether the Bill was not stronger than was necessary, and whether it might not ultimately tend to the perpetration of disturbance. Several Acts had been lately passed to strengthen the hands of landlords, and these bore very heavily upon the poor. In the Queen's County, and in other counties also, he knew that the clearances of estates had been the cause of the disturbances. There was no immediate or necessary connexion, as had been asserted, between political agitation and outrage; but certainly, if at a public Meeting a clergyman or a landlord should be described as an extortioner, it would create an unfavourable feeling in the district towards him. But, admitting this, he protested against destroying the character of the hon. member for Dublin, and holding him up as the cause of these disturbances, when there existed nothing but very flimsy evidence to show any connexion between agitation and crime.
§ Mr. John Browne
, in explanation, said, that he had no intention of giving offence to the hon. Members opposite, and least 453 of all to the hon. member for Kildare. His observations had been occasioned by the assertion of the honourable member for Middlesex, that there were no individuals of respectability and station from Ireland upon that side of the House that had come forward to give their testimony in favour of this measure. He (Mr. Browne), in reply, said, that there were individuals of respectability and independence from Ireland on that side of the House who had supported the measure, but that the hon. Members opposite, who had come into the House fettered with pledges, could not be regarded as independent. In saying that, he did not mean to convey any reflection upon the hon. member for Kit-dare; at the same time he begged to say, that though not a wealthy man, he had sufficient property to render him as independent as that hon. Member. That hon. Member should have had the good taste not to have alluded, as he had done, to bygone transactions. The hon. Member complained of his (Mr. Browne's) reference to an individual who had taken a leading part in the Political Union in the county of Mayo. He thought it his duty to state what he had stated of that individual, to expose the dangerous characters of those who were leading the peasantry into difficulties and dangers.
Mr. Edward Cooper
said, that he would give his vote for the second reading of the Bill, reserving to himself the power, when it was in Committee, to object to many of its details. He entirely agreed with the statement in the preamble of the Bill, that there did exist in Ireland a conspiracy against life and property, and that there were associations in that country which were inconsistent with its peace and tranquillity, and on such grounds he should vole for the principle of this measure.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that, in consequence of the manner in which the hon. member for Middlesex had shaped his Motion, they were now discussing whether the Order of the Day should or should not be read, histead of considering the main question, whether this Bill should be read a second time. The Resolution which had been proposed by the hon. member for Middlesex, would have been much more appropriately introduced upon the first reading of the Bill, instead of being brought forward now, after the Bill had been subjected to such a protracted discussion. He would contend, that suf- 454 ficient and satisfactory evidence had been produced to prove to the House the necessity of such a measure as this. The hon. member for Middlesex had said, that he would put no confidence in the Government, and certainly, if he would put no confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, he was perfectly justified in refusing to give them the powers with which this Bill proposed to intrust them. The reasons which the hon. Member had assigned for his want of confidence in his Majesty's Ministers were, that he (Lord Al-thorp) had not acted up to the declarations which he had made, and the pledges which he had given, in the course of last Session, with regard to the remedial measures, especially as respected the amendment of the tithe system which would be introduced into Ireland. What he said last Session was, that tithes should be done away with, and what his right hon. friend said was, that they should be extinguished; and he would main tain that that pledge, as to the extinction of tithes, had been redeemed, not, of course, within the very literal meaning of the words, but up to the fullest extent in which that pledge, when given, was understood. ["Hear,"from Mr. Sheil.] He did not understand that cheer from the hon. and learned member for Tipperary. This he would assert, that when the law which was passed on this subject in the last Session of Parliament should come into effect, the collection of tithes in Ireland would no longer exist. Tithes would remain in name, but, undoubtedly, they would not be transferred to the pockets of the landlords. The landlords had bought their lands, and had inherited their lands, subject to tithes, and it was but right that they should continue to hold them upon the same conditions. One great and main grievance respecting tithes, which was complained of in this country, as well as in Ireland, regarded the effect of their collection upon the occupiers of land. Now, when the Bill of last Session should come into effect the admitted that the period for the Bill coming into effect had been postponed to a much more distant period than he should have wished, but that was not his fault)—when, he repeated, that Bill came into effect, the occupier of the soil would no longer have to pay any tithes in Ireland. He believed that such was the understanding affixed to the declarations made by his Majesty's Ministers by those hon. Gentlemen who 455 had heard them when made; but those Gentlemen who had not heard them made would see, by a reference to the Report of the Tithe Committee, that the Government would not, upon such authority, go further than it had gone in the measures which it had proposed. The hon. member for Middlesex said, that his (Lord Al thorp's) right hon. friend's Grand jury Bill had been dishonoured in the Lords last Session. The hon. Member confounded it with the Petty Jury Bill which was carried in the House of Commons last Session. He had, over and over again, admitted, that he gave a pledge that that bill should be carried; and it was not the fault of Ministers in that House, it was owing to circumstances which they could not control, that it was not passed by the Lords. He had told the hon. member for Dublin, on his introducing his Jury Bill the other evening, that the Bill of last Session would be introduced again in the House of Lords; but if that did not satisfy the hon. Member, that he would have no objection to his Bill being read a first time, reserving to himself the right of opposing it, if he should think fit, hereafter. The hon. member for Middlesex quoted the authority of Sir Henry Parnell, to prove that there were no disturbances in the Queen's County. It was quite impossible that sir Henry Parnell could have made the statement at the time the hon. Gentleman mentioned, as it was Sir Henry Parnell who drew up the Report of the Committee of last Session upon the state of the Queen's County—a Report, as the hon. member for Kildare had mentioned, that had been adopted by the Committee unanimously; and in that Report it was stated, that the state of the Queen's County was such as to warrant and render necessary the giving extraordinary powers to the Government. The hon. Member had quoted the evidence of a major Browne to prove that the county of Kilkenny was in a most tranquil state up to July last, and that the subsequent disturbances there were all owing to the Bill which his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) had brought into Parliament. Now, it so happened, that that evidence was given in the preceding January; that it referred to the July of the year 1830; and that the witness stated, that the disturbances which had then occurred arose out of the election ol his noble friend (Lord Duncannon) for that county, in that month, in the year 456 1830. The hon. Member asked why they had not produced the authorities of Lords-lieutenant of counties in Ireland in support of this measure. His right hon. friend had, on a former evening, quoted the authority of two Lords-lieutenant, Lord Ormond and Sir Patrick Bellew. The Lord-lieutenants of Wexford, Carlow, and Wick-low, had supported it in Parliament, and the imprudent reference of the hon. member for Middlesex had called up that evening the Lord-lieutenant of the King's County (Lord Oxmantown), who had made a most impressive speech in favour of the Bill. He (Lord Althorp) would have risen earlier in the evening, but that he was anxious to hear what hon. Members might have to say. He regretted that they were now only debating the Order of the Day, and, therefore, so far making no progress in the Bill. His hon. friend, the member for Kildare, had concurred in opinion with the Committee, that stronger measures were necessary; but his hon. friend had also recommended the adoption of remedial measures. But did the Ministers ever say, that remedial measures were not necessary? Had they not already given some earnest of their determination to introduce such measures. Gentlemen had said, "You have brought forward the coercive measure in the House of Lords, why did you not also bring the Irish Church Reform Bill into that House in the first instance?" There was one simple answer to be given to this, which was, that the Irish Church Reform Bill was a money bill, and therefore must, in the first instance, pass the House of Commons. But his Majesty's Government took the very first opportunity of introducing their remedial measures into that House, to show that they were really in earnest on that point. He had already opened the subject of Irish Church Reform, and his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) that of Grand Juries. If the House thought that they intended to stand still, and not remedy the evils of Ireland, then, indeed, hon. Members would be perfectly justified in opposing any coercive measures, and they would have no right whatever to ask the confidence of the House. His hon. friend had said the necessity for coercive measures should be so striking as to produce an almost unanimous assent, and instanced the long debate which had occurred on the Bill as a proof of a want of sufficient unanimity. But though he admitted, that 457 the debate was very long, yet there was not, in his opinion, the slightest necessity for so long a discussion; and, as to unanimity, there were few instances, on any great question, of such a large and overwhelming majority. His hon. friend then said, that Ministers had failed to prove any connexion between political agitation and the predial or agricultural outrages. With regard to that point, no man believed, or would admit more fully than he would, that the political agitators, so far from intentionally stimulating these crimes, held them in the utmost abhorrence; but the effect of political agitation was such as necessarily to produce irritation and discontent; and this irritation and discontent, operating upon a population in a state of great misery and distress, necessarily led to the commission of crime and outrage, And, certainly, though they might not wish to do so, the consequence of their conduct was the encouragement of criminal outrages. It was said, that when this Bill was passed into a law, there would still be the same difficulty in obtaining evidence. This, however, he denied; it would have the effect of terrifying the persons engaged in carrying on this system of intimidation, and it would operate directly and practically, through the provisions of the Insurrection Act, to prevent midnight meetings and outrages. He thought the speech of the noble Lord, the member for King's County (Lord Oxmantown), was a very satisfactory answer to the observations of the hon. member for Middlesex. He and his right hon. friend had been attacked for not quoting the names of the persons writing the letters which had been read to the House. The reason for their not doing so was obvious. Those persons would instantly be marked as obnoxious by those violators of the law against whom they complained, and would, not unlikely, fall victims to their revenge.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, the noble Lord, the member for King's County, had admitted that his county had been undisturbed till within the last two years. Now, he was surprised that, for so short a period of disturbance, the noble Lord was prepared to surrender his constituents to a measure so arbitrary and despotic as the present. He did not deny, that disturbance existed in Ireland to an extent sufficient to warrant the grant of some additional powers to the Executive. He would have gone as far, in compliance with the re- 458 commendation of the Committee of last Session, as to consent to domiciliary visits, or even to the powers under the Insurrection Act; bat to a measure so extravagant and so despotic as this he never could consent. It was said, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin was a dictator. He might be so, but he was no dictator of his; he held not his seat under the authority of that hon. and learned Gentleman. But he would say, if he was a dictator, why do you, in complaining of this circumstance, try to pull him down only for the purpose of setting up another in his place? He objected to the existence of a dictatorship of any kind, but most particularly should he object to a legalised dictatorship in the shape of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He would just say one word for the unfortunate Queen's County, on which so many observations had been made. He was quite sure that the Government could always get juries in that county; the farmers and gentlemen did not flinch from attending. He said this from personal knowledge. It was rather a curious thing, that whilst the hon. member for Wexford was relating some most pathetic details to the House, the criminals were being tried—justice was taking its course, unimpeded and unintimidated—and several of the offenders had been convicted and executed. He hoped the Irish Members would not disgrace their country—let them rot make it appear that Irish Gentlemen were such cowards, such paltry poltroons, that they would not put themselves to inconvenience for the purpose of maintaining the pure administration of justice, and upholding the Constitution of their country. He really thought that the impression respecting the intimidation of jurors and witnesses was much exaggerated. 'I'he county in which he resided (Wicklow) was in a most peaceable condition. The assizes there only occupied the Judge one day. He was not an agitator, he had never agitated but once, and that was in favour of the Reform Bill, for the purpose of placing the Gentlemen opposite on the Treasury Benches; and he should be glad to see them continue there, if they listened not to the advice which the right hon. Secretary for Ireland gave them respecting this Bill, and if the system of tithes were extinguished in Ireland. It had been said, in justification of this measure, that his father had supported the Insurrection Act; but the Insurrection 459 Act was not at all to be compared to this Bill. Upon his honour he believed that one tithe of this Bill was sufficient to quiet every county in Ireland. He thought, notwithstanding the observation of the noble Lord, that the House ought not to proceed to pass this measure upon anonymous information alone. If that red box contained reports from each of the thirty-two Lords-lieutenant of Ireland, then they might have some ground on which to proceed. They were entitled to have this. Ministers were bound to furnish authentic information. He entreated the House, for the sake of their character, to recollect that this was the first Reformed Parliament, and pause before they passed the most extraordinary, extravagant, and unconstitutional Act ever submitted to any House of Parliament.
§ Mr. Barron
wished to take that opportunity of complaining of an attack made upon him in The Standard newspaper of Wednesday last. Words were there put into his mouth which he never used, and sentiments attributed to him which he abhorred. This was the language attributed to him:—"The Protestant population in Ireland are 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?" And the editor of The Standard then proceeded to comment upon this, as though he advocated the division of the property of the Irish Protestants amongst the Catholics of Ireland. He must do himself and the public the justice to say, that he had never used the obnoxious expressions attributed to him. What he said was this—that the Church property in Ireland amounted to 8,000,000l. or 9,000,000l. per annum, and what he asked was simply this—whether such an enormous property was necessary for the support of a Church establishment for only 500,000 Protestants. He abhorred the sentiment which had been attributed to him. He might have the printer of The Standard called to the Ear of the House, but it was not his wish to act harshly towards the Press, but merely to set himself right with the public.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fitzsimon
begged leave to remark, in reference to the observation of his noble colleague, that the county which he represented had not been disturbed except during the last two years; he would remark that this disturbance arose out of the efforts of the inhabitants to free them- 460 selves from the political thraldom under which they had laboured for thirty years past. He denied that there had been any outrage which had not been punished, wherever the law was attempted to be put into execution; and it was well known that Jurors performed their duty in an unimpeachable manner. He regularly attended whilst in Ireland, the Assizes and Sessions, and he never saw justice fail for want of witnesses; nor could he tax his memory with one single instance in which a witness was afterwards persecuted for giving evidence. It was true, that there had been thirty-four robberies of arms, but in several instances they had been returned; and, if his information was correct, they would be so in many more. He should oppose this measure, not only because it was most arbitrary, but in his opinion most unnecessary.
§ Colonel Perceval
(amidst cries of "adjourn, adjourn") said, he trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would not consent to an unnecessary adjournment of the debate. It appeared to him extraordinary, that the hon. member for Wicklow (Mr. Grattan) should have stated he concurred in what had fallen from the noble Lord the member for King's County (Lord Oxmantown), and then come to the conclusion that one tithe of the measure then before the House would have been sufficient to put down the disturbances. The county which he (Colonel Perceval) had the honour to represent was in a comparative state of tranquillity, but occurrences that had recently taken place there convinced him that unless an example were made in the remote districts where insubordination was at its height, the system would soon reach the county of Sligo. It appeared to him extraordinary that so many hon. Members should have stated, that his Majesty's Ministers had not made out a case. To his apprehension they had made out a case fully warranting them in applying for additional powers. The measures demanded, it was true, were monstrous, but anything short of them would be insufficient. Hon. Members on his right had objected to the information upon which the House was called on to act. The information was anonymous, or it had come from the police, and the police were not to be depended upon. The Bill was also, they said, founded on the testimony of the Magistrates, and the Magistrates were not to be depended on. When again the 461 evidence of disturbance was drawn from the Judges, who deduced the facts from the state of the calendar, and spoke from their own long experience, they were told by the same parties that the Judges were not to be relied upon as witnesses; their testimony was disregarded, and their characters appealed to in vain. In what manner, then, were these Gentlemen to be supplied with information—from what quarter—and what was to be the extent of the recommendation? When the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) made statements upon his own knowledge, or demanded powers upon his responsibility, he was laughed at; and it was asked, "what was his responsibility, he was but an individual" He had been a member of the Committee which sat to inquire into the state of Ireland last year, and, in consequence of the evidence given by one gentleman from that country (Captain Walker, as we understood), he had been subjected to marked and cruel persecution on his return. When his crops were ripe, and his hay fit to cut, not a single individual was to be found who dared to cut them; such was the odious and atrocious system of intimidation carried on. Another witness, who was a most manly character, when asked the cause of predial agitation, was reluctant to answer. Being pressed, however, he at length gave his opinion, and the facts upon which it was founded; but he besought the Chairman, out of regard for the life of his wife, his children, and himself, not to print his answer. His earnest request was complied with, and he and his family still lived; and he hoped their lives would be spared by the miscreants who kept the land in a state of terror, until such time as his Majesty's Government should have been enabled utterly to extirpate them. This was the condition of counties which they were told were in a state of tranquillity. He was convinced that the increase of crime was attributable to that most odious practice of political agitation. That, he was convinced, was the cause of the frightful increase of crime, which, they were told, had taken place in Carlow. He had not been present at the commencement of the speech of the hon. member for Middlesex, but he did not think on that account he had suffered any serious loss. When he entered the House the hon. Member was stating, that the Church of Ireland ought to be utterly given up. Nothing less would satisfy the appetite of 462 the hon. Gentleman. He also stated, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin was the idol of the whole people of Ireland—of the whole eight millions—and that he was looked up to by them all. This, he, as an Irishman, felt it his duty distinctly to deny. A fictitious feeling, had indeed been got by great pains in some parts of the country; but he thought the learned agitator was already on the tumble, and he hoped his fall would be speedy and great. When he dissented from that statement of the hon. member for Middlesex, as to the idolatry of the people of Ireland for the hon. and learned member for Dublin, he was met by the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) turning round and saying, "at least by every honest man." That hon. Gentleman had advertised his Majesty's Ministers that they had lost his confidence. He (Colonel Perceval) heartily congratulated his Majesty's Ministers upon the loss they had sustained. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be something of the cameleon species, he changed colour so often. He recollected when that hon. Member voted that black was white with reference to these same Ministers. But he had done with the hon. member for Middlesex. It had been asserted that not one of the predial agitators was a Protestant; and in answer to that assertion, the hon. and learned member for Dublin (Mr. O'Connell), in his long and tedious speech, had only been able to adduce one instance to the contrary. He had discovered one Protestant in the town of Bray, and he at once fixed upon him his accusations. That man was accused by the hon. and learned Gentleman with having written threatening letters to the vicar of Bray. He had, therefore, thought it to be his duty to call upon that reverend gentleman the morning after the statement was made, and he found that it was no such thing as the hon. and learned Gentleman had represented. It was true, indeed, that threatening letters had been sent to the vicar about two years ago; but although 1,500l. had been subscribed to discover the author, that had never been done. He begged leave to take that opportunity also, to state, that the indecent words put into the mouth of his reverend friend by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and which he would not repeat in that House, were never uttered by him. This he should be able to prove by the testimony 463 of a gallant relative, who was on the spot at the time the words were said to have been used. He also denied, on behalf of his reverend friend, the truth of the charge of extortion brought against him. He declared that nothing could be more false than that statement, from whatever quarter the learned Member obtained it. It was perfectly true, that the case of his reverend friend was dismissed, in the first instance, by the Assistant-barrister at the Quarter Sessions; but that was on account of in formality only. When he again brought forward his claim before the same Assistant-barrister at the next Quarter Sessions it was awarded to him to the full extent of his demand. He implored the House not to attach the slightest credit to any part of the statement made by the hon. and learned member for Dublin against his reverend friend. For himself, he should feel that he deserted his duty, and did not maintain that character which he hoped he ever should maintain in that House, if he did not upon this occasion tender to his Majesty's Ministers his most cordial and determined support. He had heard the masterly statement of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland with feelings of pleasure, and he could assure him that nothing that had since fallen from the hon. and learned Member, had, in the slightest degree, weakened the force of that statement. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by imploring Government not to be deterred from pressing the measure quickly through the House, as it was of the greatest consequence to Ireland that it should become the law of the land as speedily as possible.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that, in an experience of twenty-nine years, he had known no instance of an adjournment of a debate upon the Order of the Day. The House always either divided, or allowed the Order of the Day to be read, and then adjourned it to another day; but adjourning the debate on the Order of the Day was absurd.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, the hon. member for Middlesex being absent, had sent a message to him. The House would not blame his hon. friend for being absent, as it was in consequence of the illness of a member of his family. Anticipating the objection which had been made to an adjournment upon the Order of the Day, 464 he desired him to state, that it would be equally agreeable to him if the Amendment were moved on the second reading. [Lauhter]. That was the hon. Member's wish; he thought that, in doing so, his hon. friend was complying with the wishes of the House; and he could not discover the cause of the merriment of hon. Members.
§ Sir John Sebright
did not know any right which any hon. Member had to bring a message from an absent Member. He would speak of the hon. member for Middlesex not eloquently but frankly. The hon. Member took up quite as much of the lime of the House as any Member was entitled to do; and he would also take upon himself to say, that the hon. Member, when present, laid down the law in that House, in a manner which he never saw done by any other individual whatever. In criticising the conduct of the hon. Member, he would, however, give him the praise which was his due. There was a time when the hon. Member deserved the thanks of the House and the country, because he confined himself to what he understood. Now, however, there was no one thing that could be brought forward in the House—no question of domestic or foreign policy—no constitutional question, however complicated, upon which the hon. Member did not speak, though certainly not in the most enlightened manner.
§ Mr. Harvey
rose to order. He understood that the question was, whether the debate should be adjourned: and he did not understand that the observations of the hon. Baronet respecting the hon. member for Middlesex, however well expressed, could have aught to do with that question.
§ The Speaker
said, the House would, perhaps, permit him to make some observations. In the first place, he believed, that the hon. member for Hertford (Sir John Sebright) had misunderstood the remarks of the hon. member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton), who had merely stated that the hon. member for Middlesex was ready to withdraw his Motion, if it better suited the convenience of the House to divide upon a different subject—or a different day. There was certainly no intention of dictating to the House. Every one knew that a motion once made could not be withdrawn without the consent of the House; and it could not very well be done without the consent of the Member 465 himself. The hon. member for Bridport had been authorized to give that assent. With respect to the question of dividing upon the Order of the Day, the House would see how inconsistent it would be to adjourn to Monday upon the question—whether the Order of the Day for the continuance of the adjourned debate should be read and proceeded upon on Friday. The proper course was, to have the Order of the Day read, and adjourn it then to Monday. He hoped the hon. member for Hertford, and the House would be satisfied with the correctness of the hon. member for Bridport's proceeding.
§ Sir John Sebright
apologized. All he objected to was, the hon. member for Middlesex's making a speech by proxy.
§ Amendment withdrawn. Order of the Day read; Motion for the second reading made; and Debate Adjourned.