§ On the Motion of Mr. Charles Buller, the Order of the Day for the second reading of this Bill was read. The hon. Member then 490 proceeded to say, that he rose under considerable embarrassment to address the House upon that subject, as he could not hope to add anything new to what had already been said—so eloquently said, by other hon. Members. He hoped, however, that as a member of the minority, they would do him the justice to hear his reasons for being in that situation; and, he could assure the House, that in opposing the Bill, he did so—not from any party feeling, or factious opposition—but from a sincere belief of the impolicy of the measure. He confessed that he was sorry to hear the manner in which the debate upon this subject had been conducted. Hon. Members had departed from the consideration of the evidence laid before them, to justify this momentous and perilous measure into personal and angry discussion; and more especially, into a declared hostility to the hon. and learned member for Dublin. The members of the Government, in bringing forward the Bill, had taken such pains to tell them of the regret they felt at the necessity which forced them to bring forward the measure, that those very pains almost induced him to doubt their sincerity. He could not help doubting, too, the assertion made by two hon. Members from the north of Ireland, that the people of that part of the country were almost universally in favour of the measure. He did not mean to taunt the members of the Government with their speeches on former occasions; but he thought it would have its effect out of doors, when it was seen, that the majority for placing Ireland under Military Government was swollen by the names of the right hon. member for Tamworth who said, he reluctantly supported the measure, and other Members, whose politics agreed with those of that right hon. Baronet—persons who said "Aye" to the Six Acts, but "No" to the Reform Bill. In his opinion, no case had been made out for the measure. The outrages of the White-feet, on which so much stress had been laid, were known, and were as violent about the time when the Whigs came into office, as at present; and the agitation of the Repeal of the Union contributed as much to the disturbances in the Queen's County, as the burning of Bristol to the Reform Bill, and no more. He did not appear there as a defender of the Repeal of the Union, neither would he attempt 491 to palliate any of the murders or outrages which had been committed in some districts in Ireland; be admitted that all such outrageous violations of the law ought to be put down; but he thought that Ministers were going the wrong way about it. He opposed the Bill as a violent measure, the tendency of which would be to irritate and not pacify. He was as sensible as any man of the necessity of some interference on the part of Parliament in the then state of that country, and he considered it the duty of Government to devise means for the protection of the property and lives of the people, but it did not appear to him that it was necessary for that purpose to go into a measure which destroyed the Constitution. A measure was introduced which destroyed the Constitution, at the very time when it was most important that it should be maintained in its utmost purity. Violence and rigour were employed, when the true remedy for the evils of Ireland would be gentleness and moderation. Gentlemen seemed to think, that violence and rigour were one and the same thing; but that, they should remember, was but the old blunder, to which so much of the misgovernment of Ireland was to be attributed. He would not have it for a moment be supposed that he wished to deny to the Government such powers as should be necessary to repress the disturbances; but he thought that the recommendations of the Committee which sat last year to inquire into the state of Ireland would be sufficient for that purpose. He thought great alterations should be made; what is more, he thought they should be permanent. Last year a Committee sat some time to inquire into these disorders, at the head of which was placed a right hon. Baronet whose absence from this House his countrymen must now regret even more than the rest of the House. At this time these disturbances were nearly at their height; the greater part of the outrages described had then occurred. This Committee after a long investigation, after collecting a mass of most valuable evidence recommended, on the advice of the best-informed functionaries of the police and law, nothing more than a prompt administration of the ordinary course of law and a partial re-enactment of the penal clauses of the Insurrection Act. He had no objection to the adoption of all the measures recommended by that Com- 492 mittee. Revive the penal clauses of the Insurrection Act, and add to the all-comprising list of Whiteboy offences that of being out of doors between sunset and sunrise. Allow even domiciliary visits, such as those proposed by the hon. member for Wexford. Take any amount of police and military. Spare no expense in organizing your establishments of police and justice. Let the extraordinary severity of the law be enforced either by Special Commissions, or by such a permanent tribunal as that Committee recommended, constantly applying immediate punishment to every offence. He would not oppose such alterations in the law as these—nay, more, considering the lawlessness and misery of the Irish people, he would wish them to be made for a permanence, in order that the Government might have a constant power of repressing continually recurring disorder. One great mistake into which the Government appeared to him to fall was in making no distinction between outrages which might be committed under this Bill, and those committed by the Whitefeet. It was immaterial, said they, that the officers appointed under it should break into a house at night, as at present that might be done in the visits of the Whitefeet. The Courts-martial were on the same principle defended, by asking were they worse than those new courts of equity to which men might be forced to submit their differences? And the other inroads upon the liberty and security of the subject which the Bill would sanction were defended by an appeal to those to which the peaceable and orderly might be exposed under the dominion of Captain Rock. In his opinion there was no necessity for having either. A constitutional method might be devised to repress outrages, which would neither place despotic power in the hands of the Legislature, nor leave it in the hands of the mob. Appeals had been made to the feelings of the House by the recital of some shocking instances of murder, and to many nightly outrages which had been committed. These, no doubt, were to be greatly deplored, but murders could not be wholly prevented, even in the most civilized countries,—they could only punish them; but who ever heard of the justice or policy of proclaiming a district and putting it out of the pale of the law because it had been the scene of an atrocious murder? He was afraid that 493 if the precedent, were established in Ireland of suspending the Constitution for the commission of isolated crimes, the example might, at some future time, be extended to this country. What would have been thought of the proposition to proclaim Martial-law in a county for the murder of Mr. Weare? Or, would it be tolerated to resort to such an arbitrary measure as the present in such a case as the murder of the Italian boy by Bishop and Williams? These, no doubt, were crimes at which humanity shuddered, but no one thought that they would justify such a measure of coercion as that now about to be applied to Ireland. There was a practical conclusion to be drawn from the horrid tale told a few nights before by the right hon. Baronet. Fifteen years ago did that murder occur. The whole period from that lime to this had been stained by a succession of atrocities of the same nature. Then the evil was permanent, and required a permanent remedy. The most arbitrary measures had, at intervals, been since in force in Ireland. It was an evil therefore, which temporary rigour would not remedy. He should have been very happy to have had it in his power to vote for this Bill in its first stages, in order to mark his conviction of the necessity of altering the administration of justice in Ireland, if it were possible for him to take away part of the present Bill, add to it some provisions, and expunge others, and so frame a measure to which he could fully or partially assent, he should be most anxious not to oppose the Bill in its very outset. But the truth was, he found hardly a single clause in the Bill of which he approved. The means by which the Government proposed to tranquillize Ireland, were the abolition of the administration of justice; the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, the total suppression of the freedom of petition, and the placing of them under military government. He could not agree to any of these propositions; but at the same time that he recorded his vote as opposed to intrusting the Government with such arbitrary powers, he was anxious to state his willingness to intrust them with such powers as he thought necessary to repress the disorders which they were intended to meet. He did not entirely approve of the Amendment which had been moved by the hon. member for Middlesex, and he knew that several other Gentlemen who disapproved of the mea- 494 sure proposed by the Government, objected to it likewise; he had, therefore, drawn up an Amendment, which he thought would meet the views of these parties, and he would offer it for the adoption of the House—it was to the effect. 'That this House, while it deeply laments the disturbed state of some districts in Ireland, and while it is willing to intrust to his Majesty such additional powers, and to pass such enactments as may be necessary for the protection of per-sons and property, and for the effectual Administration of criminal justice in that country, is not satisfied of the necessity of the extreme mea sures now proposed by his Majesty's Government.' He felt anxious to give some of the leading reasons which induced him to move that Amendment, and which induced him to think the powers demanded by the Government as unnecessary. He would not go into the question of the abolition of the Trial by Jury, because he thought the arguments of his hon. friend, the member for Tipperary, on that subject, were unanswerable and unanswered. He objected to the Abolition of Trial by Jury—not from any particular affection he himself felt for it, but because he objected to any interference with established institutions without sufficient cause; and in his opinion no evidence brought forward by his Majesty's Government had made out a case for the necessity of that measure. The reason given for the suspension of Trial by Jury was the intimidation to which Jurors were subjected; but only one clear case had been brought of Such intimidation by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and he did not consider it as a fair instance, nor sufficient to show the necessity of such a general measure. Besides that, all the cases of intimidation were from the same county. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had fished some cases out of his red box, but he had not followed even the example of a Lord (Lord Castlereagh), who, when he brought down his documents in a green bag, submitted them to the examination of a Committee. The documents of the right hon. Gentleman had not been subjected to any examination. As for the establishment of Courts-martial, he objected to them strongly on principle, and in the present instance he thought they were not necessary. In Clare, in Wexford, and in Limerick, the disturbances had formerly 495 been put down without Courts martial. He thought, that Courts-martini should not be adopted but in extreme cases. Military tribunals had always been the worst tools of reckless tyranny; and he thought, that the only reason which could justify the Government in proposing them was, that the country was in a state of civil war. He denied, that even on the showing of Government there was anything like a general rising of the people. All the disturbances consisted of detached Acts, and most of them might be traced to improper interference on the part of the landlords. That was the case in Limerick. In Clare they arose from the high price of potatoe-ground; and in Queen's County it would be seen from the evidence of the parish priest of Maryborough, that the cause of the disturbances was principally the interference of landlords. That gentleman says, "One of the most prominent in my parish was the turning out of tenants from Major Cassan's estate, to the number of twenty seven families; he had a Kildare street School, and he said, that no one should be on the estate that would not send his children to that school; there were other ejectments before that to the number of twelve, on a small farm near the Rock of Dunamore, on Mr. Cosbie's estate; most of those people became very violent Whitefeet, and I know some of them still belong to that association; such as remained in the parish, and wherever they go to, they follow the same practice." And it would be seen, from what followed, that it was not for a rise of rent that these persons were turned out, for Mr. O'Connor proceeded to say: "To whom did Major Cassan let the land on the ejectment of the tenants?—He let it to Protestants generally, and the people considered it was through hatred to their religion that he ejected them.—Did not they owe some rent? Yes, they did; but the land was set at 30s. an acre, and it is now let at 22s. He and other landlords kept up the war prices, which has caused great evils in the country. The land let for 27s. at that time, is now let for 18s., as I am informed." The same witness was asked: "Have you known any instances of great severity under the tithe system that may Lave led the people into these outrages?" The answer given by this reverend gentleman, who evidently possessed extensive knowledge as to the state of that part of the country, was deserving the attention 496 of the House. He said: "I have known potatoes to be sold out of the houses of poor people, and I have known the pot to be sold, and a man left two years and a half without one, being obliged to borrow a pot to boil his potatoes. I have known blankets taken off the beds of the children. I have known the widow's pig taken away. I have known an aged widow taken out of a sick bed and laid on the ground, and the bed and her daughter's clothes sold for tithes. I have known that in the town of Maryborough." In fact, it would be seen, that the invariable cause of the Irish disturbances was oppressive measures, high rents, and contracts broken. Was it not of importance to look at the causes of the distress before they decided upon applying this severe remedy? He should offer every possible opposition to that portion of the measure which appeared to him to be the most objectionable part of the Bill—he alluded to the provision which was directed against agitation. In his opinion they ought to legislate, not against agitation, but against the cause which had produced agitation—namely, the long series of misgovernment under which Ireland had suffered. The Government had promised that tithes should be extinguished in Ireland, and the people of Ireland confided in that promise. But what had been done? The payment of tithes had been strictly enforced on every occasion. The consequence was, that the people were dissatisfied and discontented. Indeed he had been informed that Ireland was perfectly quiet until the military and the police were sent out to collect tithes. He would broadly assert, that tithes were the great cause of these disturbances, and the people of Ireland—yes, and the people of England also—looked at this Bill as a measure, the object of which, though not avowed, was the collection of tithes. The people had been recommended by some in power to adopt a system of agitation. The words were—"Agitate! agitate! agitate!" But now the Government came forward to put an end to agitation—to prevent the people from stating their many grievances. The Roman Catholic disabilities did not form the sole cause of complaint with the people of Ireland. They were, in fact, only the out-works of complaint. Many, of a more pressing nature, remained. If any one ever thought that the mere granting of emancipation would put an end to disturbance, and 497 effectually tranquillize Ireland, he must have been the shallowest politician that ever existed. The exactions of the Pro testant Church in Ireland fomented discord; and so long as a relic of that oppressive system remained, so long would the people be discontented. Their ancestors did not reform the Scotch church establishment, but they effectually abolished it; and the same course ought to be adopted with reference to Ireland. They were told as an inducement for passing this Bill, that its powers would be placed in the hands of those whose discretion would prevent them from calling its provisions into use, except in extreme cases; so that this Act would merely be an ornament to the Statute-book. He might, perhaps, trust to the exceedingly great discretion of those who were now in power in Ireland. He might trust the Lord Lieutenant, who had reconciled all parties in that country; and he might trust the right hon. Secretary, who, of course, would be anxious not to forfeit, by any unnecessary stretch of authority, that great and well-deserved popularity which he had achieved in Ireland; but still he could not consent to give this extraordinary power to their subordinate agents, to Justices of the Peace, and officers of the police. No, he must refuse his confidence to them. A most heavy responsibility would devolve on that House, not only before the country, but in the eyes of the whole civilized world, if they agreed to this measure. Sir Robert Walpole had said: "those who give the power of blood, give blood." And he would contend that those who gave to Ministers the powers that were now demanded, gave, in effect, the power of prolonging, for an indefinite period, the misery, the lawlessness, and the barbarity of Ireland. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ Mr. Hawkins
rose to second the Amendment, and to state his reasons for doing so, having voted against the Amendment of the hon. member for Lambeth, and having been prepared to vote against that of the hon. member for Middlesex. The first of these Amendments, he must say, had been made the subject of a degree of overstrained ridicule which it by no means deserved. Its object appeared to him, not, as its opponents affected to believe, that the passing of this Bill should be delayed for one fortnight and no longer, but that the Bill should be suspended 498 indefinitely over the heads of those against whom it was directed, thereby affording time to see whether it was really necessary or not, and securing to ourselves the power of resorting to its provisions, whenever they should be proved to be unavoidable. Neither for this resolution, however, nor for that of the hon. member for Middlesex, was he able to vote; because he was already convinced that some extraordinary powers were necessary—that there did exist, in certain limited districts of Ireland, an organized system of intimidation and outrage which would not only justify the House, but which imperatively called upon it, to arm the Executive Government with powers beyond the ordinary course of the law, as the only effectual means whereby the law might be restored to its ordinary course. And, for this purpose, the suppression of those crimes against life and property, which had been classed under the term of "predial outrages" he was willing to grant ample powers; for all the evidence before the House concurred in this—that the greatest sufferers by the existing system of outrage were those classes who were least able to protect themselves. In Ireland, ill-fated Ireland, this anomaly existed among the many sad anomalies of her social condition—that whereas, in other countries the poorest class at least were safe from the midnight marauder and assassin, in Ireland the peasantry were not protected, even by Irish poverty, from evils which elsewhere were incidental only to the rich. If this were the only object of the Bill—if these were the only evils for the suppression of which these extraordinary powers were demanded, he would, without troubling the House with any explanation, have voted for the first stages of the Bill, trusting to discussions which must take place in Committee for opportunities of mitigating its necessary severity. But he found in this Bill other objects avowedly aimed at—other powers demanded for the accomplishment of those objects; and the Bill itself so framed, that any powers which might be granted for one object might be applied to the accomplishment of the other. Whatever powers might be granted for the suppression of the predial outrages might be applied to the suppression of political discussion. He found, in short, in this Bill, the unusual and, he thought, inconvenient, attempt to provide, by one and the same enactment, against two evils between which 499 he believed there existed no natural and necessary connexion, and between which he did not think that even an aecideutal and temporary connexion had been proved. He believed the predial and political agitations to be in their nature and origin totally distinct, carried on by different classes of persons, under different leaders, with a separate organization, with totally different ends in view, and, for any tiling that had been proved in the present debates, not usually connected either in time or place. "Cum hoc, ergo, propter hoc" appeared to him a fair epitome of the arguments brought forward to prove this connexion; and even the "cum hoc," the accidental connexion of time and place, he thought very imperfectly made out. But suppose the connexion so far proved, what proofs had his Majesty's Ministers given that the predial agitation was the consequence of the political. Why might not the political agitation be the result and symptom of the predial? Why might not the predial agitation of Kilkenny be re presented by the political agitation of Dublin, as the political agitation of Dublin was represented in this House by the hon. and learned Member for that oily? Were his Majesty's Ministers sure that they were not now falling into the same error, the same inversion of cause and effect, which, during the discussions on the Reform Bill, they attributed to their opponents? Said the Tories, "The agitation for Reform which prevails among the people is only the consequence of the agitation of that question which the Ministers have raised in the House." "No," replied the Ministry," you are putting the cart before the horse; the agitation, the clamour for Reform which prevails within these walls is only the echo of the clamour which previously prevailed without." Now, are the same Ministers quite sure that at this present moment the political agitation which exists in Dublin is any thing more than the mere echo, the necessary consequence of the predial agitation which previously prevailed in Kilkenny? He was sure, then, that no connexion had been proved, and he believed that none existed. But even if it did exist, it was a connexion which from its nature never could be undeniably and palpably made out—which never could be proved except by a series of the most indirect and circuitous inferences, and he could conceive no course more impolitic 500 (to use no harsher term) than this attempt to insinuate, by an Act of Parliament, a fact incapable of proof in a court of justice. Why this attempt to connect the politics of the hon. and learned member for Dublin with the outrages of the Whitefeet of Kilkenny? Looking at the political position of that hon. Member, the position he holds in this House in opposition to his Majesty's Ministers—why had they, with no imaginable necessity, taken a course which must obviously convert a discussion on a great constitutional question into a conflict of personalities between themselves and an individual opponent? why had they set before us the two totally distinct objects of their Bill—the suppression of the predial outrages and the suppression of the political agitation—and told us that we should not vote for the one unless we are willing to vote for the other? Why had they put in jeopardy the suppression of arson and murder, by coupling it, as an indispensable condition, with the suppression of political discussion? Why had they told us, that we should not purchase the safety of life and property except by the sacrifice of political liberty? Why had they placed us in this dilemma—that we must cither intrust the liberties of Ireland to the discretion of Courts composed of half a dozen lieutenants of two years standing in the army and twenty one years of age, or else abandon the lives and properties of the Irish peasantry to the mercies of then midnight marauder and assassin? Why had they placed the Representatives of the people in such a position that whichever way they gave their votes tonight, they could scarcely justify them out of doors? He did not distrust the intentions of Ministers; but how could he be assured of the conduct of their subordinate agents for there were powers intrusted by this Bill to very subordinate agents, over whom the office of the right hon. Secretary could exercise no efficient control? And if he were as well assured of the conduct of their agents as he was of the intentions of the Ministry, what guarantee had he for the conduct of their successors, it being of course uncertain who those successors might be? And if satisfied of all these things, what was the opinion of an insignificant individual worth to the people out of doors; for this was a point on which the people ought to be satisfied? Within these walls, they might be the best judges of the means by which the object now 501 before them should be accomplished; but when the means which they selected for the purpose involved, as by the admission of their authors they did, an actual suspension of the Constitution, a temporary establishment of arbitrary power, then the people had a right to be satisfied, (not, perhaps, that those means were the best for the purpose—the Representatives of the people were the constitutional judges of that, but at least that these Representatives had taken sufficient guarantees that those means should be applied to their proper purpose, and to their proper purpose alone. Need he ask whether the people were satisfied of this? Was there one man in a thousand throughout England, or one in a hundred thousand throughout Ireland, who was not translating the title of this Bill—" A Bill for the suppression of O'Connell?" He repeated, that for the suppression of the predial outrages he would grant extraordinary powers—to the present Ministry he would grant them with no niggard hand; but the case was altered when he was called upon to grant unconstitutional powers for the restoration of what was called political tranquillity. He must then be satisfied that the powers demanded were such as were not in themselves incompatible with all tranquillity—such as, when they had worked their destined cure, would not leave behind a rankling and feverish recollection of the pain of the operation worse than the temporary disease they were called in to eradicate. Did the powers now demanded fulfil these conditions? He grieved to say they did not. He doubted, in the first place, the necessity, even in the end, of so extreme a measure; he believed, that under any circumstances which were likely to arise, a bill less multifarious in its provisions and less arbitrary in its powers, would suffice; he believed, that the existing outrages of Ireland—outrages far less serious than such as had existed on many previous occasions, had been put down with far less powers than were now demanded—might be put down, and would be put down, long before we had arrived at the practical necessity of such an extreme measure as this. But granting, for argument's sake, that such forms might be found necessary in the end, he denied the policy, he arraigned the humanity, of thrusting forward the whole of this exorbitant demand at the present moment. He denied the policy, because 502 we were hereby cutting from under our feet the only sure ground on which such a claim could stand—the ground of actual experiment. Nobody could deny, that there were many intermediate degrees of severity between the present state of the law and that which this Bill went to establish; until, therefore, some at least of these intermediate degrees had been tried and found insufficient, it was impossible to say that nothing short of ''the Bill and the whole Bill" would suffice. And if this were so, the inhumanity of such a course was obvious; for could there be a greater inhumanity, a more fertile source of crime and oppression, than intrusting the power and authority of law to men who for their conduct were not responsible to the law—intrusting the powers of the constitutional tribunals to men only amenable to their own military judicature? This was eminently a case where the House was called upon to legislate "bit by bit"—to make good our ground as we advanced; if chains must be resorted to, let it be so done, that the imposition of each successive link be justified by the obvious insufficiency of the previous weight. If Ireland must be corrected, let moderate correction be tried in the first instance; if this headstrong and froward child would go astray, it was the duty of its political guardians to try remonstrance in the first place, correction in the second, severity in the third; it would be time enough when all other means failed to bind it hand and foot. But when they were told that the unconstitutional extent of this measure was its great recommendation—that when it had become necessary to depart from the path of the Constitution, the widest and most obvious departure was least likely to attract imitation—that if it be necessary for a temporary purpose to effect a breach in the bulwarks of constitutional liberty, let that breach be so wide that there shall be no temptation to keep it open a moment after the necessity had passed away; that, in short, a large and startling precedent was less likely to provoke imitation than a small one—why, he could not discover. That a large and startling precedent was more difficult to establish in the first instance, he readily admitted; and he believed that before this Bill came out of Committee, his Majesty's Ministers would be of the same opinion; but when the precedent had been once established and found effectual for its temporary purpose, 503 and easily laid aside—when all this had been made manifest, what Ministry would want excuses for its repetition on any future occasion? If they let our successors see with what facility, and with what effect these violent suspensions of the Constitution may take place, should they not be holding out to them an encouragement rather than a warning? Would they not be apt to have recourse to these easy and effectual, though hazardous remedies, for the cure of every passing ailment, until they became the instrument of Government in the hands of an indolent Ministry? Were they not about to set the example of a species of political dram-drinking—an unwholesome remedy indeed, and perhaps in the end fatal to the Constitution—but one so easy, so ready, and so effective to drown the sensation of temporary pain, that by constant recurrence it becomes at last the habitual aliment of the body politic? The truth was, that this argument was good, if properly applied; but it was not applicable to the present state of the British people. It was applicable at the present moment to the people of Austria and Germany—perhaps to those of Holland and Belgium-it would have been applicable to the people of France under the dynasty of the elder Bourbons. Had Charles 10th, for instance, been content to "slide" into despotism—had he not been led by the impetuosity of his Ministers to hazard that desperate suspension of the constitutional charter which raised up the very stones of Paris in judgment against him—had he been content to creep on by a succession of "small precedents," not only at this moment might be have been king of France, but to his other titles to historic infamy he might have added that of "Restorer of the despotism of Louis Quatorze." This argument was applicable to those countries where, from an indifference to public affairs, from the want of a free Press, from the absence of political agitation, a people are in danger of being lulled into a forgetfulness that such a thing as Constitutional Liberty exists. But looking at the events of the last two years—looking at the petitions under which the Table was groaning, could any one believe that in the lifetime at least of the present generation, the people of England were likely to subside into that state of political lethargy in which the Constitution might be filched away from them by a 504 succession of "small precedents!" Let them in this and in all similar cases depart from the path of the Constitution only just so much as the absolute necessity of the case required; and then, if the same necessity occurred again, the same departure ought to take place. And where was the necessity of such a departure as that now proposed? What were the principal evils against which they were called on to provide? The intimidation of Jurors, and the intimidation of witnesses. As for the difficulty of procuring evidence, he admitted that here the Bill fairly took the bull by the horns. There would undoubtedly be no lack of evidence while a refusal to give evidence was punishable by imprisonment at the discretion of a Court Martial. If the only object of his Majesty's Ministry was to procure a certain quantity of evidence without regard to its truth or its falsehood, the Bill would probably be found to answer their purpose; but if their object was, as he believed it to be, to procure evidence of the truth, and of the truth only, then he saw in the proposed Bill, no provision whatever calculated to obtain that object. In providing against the other difficulty, the intimidation of jurors, would not the more natural and constitutional course have been to look out for that tribunal which, being beyond the reach of intimidation, should comprise as much as possible of the powers and functions of the regular Trial by Jury? Where was the necessity to go to the Camp and the Guard Room for Judges? Was there any conceivable case in which a substitute for the ordinary Trial by Jury should not be sought in Westminster Hall rather than at the Hors Guards? For his own part, there was scarcely one of the many suggestions which he had heard on this subject, which he should not think less objectionable than that of his Majesty's Ministers. He would have preferred a single Judge, acting both as Judge and Jury. He would have preferred two Judges—one executing the functions of Judge, and the other of Jury; one deciding points of law, the other questions of fact. He would have gone to Westminster Hall, have taken half a dozen English Barristers of established character and known liberality of opinions, and sent them as a permanent Jury to accompany either an English or Irish Judge on a circuit of Special Commission into the disturbed districts of Ireland. There was 505 not one of these substitutes, objectionable as they all were, which he should not have preferred to these military tribunals. Talk of the Bill establishing Courts-martial for the trial of civil offences! It established a tribunal far worse than a Court-martial. An ordinary Court-martial, a Court-martial as applied to the trial of military offences, was a tribunal, the great objection to which was, that it united in the same individuals the functions of Judge and Jury; the same men decided upon the law, upon the fact, and, in the first instance, upon the punishment also. They were now, however, called upon to establish a tribunal where the same individuals would combine the anomalous characters of Judge, Jury, and police, and in many instances of prosecutor also. The same men will act as Magistrates and constables. As the Bill stood, an officer who had been out all night in pursuit of the insurgent peasantry, harassed, insulted, and perhaps wounded, might be called upon the next morning to sit in judgment, if not upon the same individuals with whom he had just been in collision, at least upon their known friends and sworn fellow-conspirators. Now, to say nothing of the fairness towards the criminal of such a proceeding, was it fair towards the Judges? He dissented from much that had been said in the course of these debates on the character of the British army; he did not believe that British officers were more likely than any other class of men to allow themselves to be led away by vindictive feelings—to allow their judicial decisions to be influenced by the remembrance of personal injury; but it was taxing human nature too far to expect from any class of men, calmness and impartiality of judgment, under circumstances such as these. He would touch at present but on one other provision of the Bill—that which next after the establishment of military tribunals, he considered to be most obnoxious—the power invested in the military or other persons of searching houses for concealed arms. Now, was that necessary? They were asked to give a power of confining the inhabitants to their houses at night. Suppose they were to add to that, a prohibition to bear arms in the day time—suppose, in short, it were made highly penal for a person to be found with arms about his person at any time, by night or by day, without the precincts of Ids own domicile—would not 506 this answer ail or nearly all the purpose contemplated by that most obnoxious provision which allows the search of houses for concealed arms? That provision he would not discuss now; he would only remind the House that it was a power which, if granted at all, must be granted in full and without limitation. It was a power over which, from its nature, no control could be exercised. Give a man power to search a house for concealed arms, and you give him power, if he please, to pull that house about the ears of its inhabitants. No! why, who would draw the line between necessary search and wanton mischief? Who would tell where the necessity of a search ends, and where unnecessary destruction begins? Arms and ammunition might be concealed any where—under a floor, over a ceiling, in the interior of a wall—they might be concealed (and the allusion, however distant, he trusted would be understood by the English Members—he was sure it would be so by the Irish)—they might be concealed in a bed, or about the person! It was a power which courted abuse—a power which was its own temptation to abuse. He implored the House and the Ministry to pause before they intrusted to the hands of common policemen and private soldiers a power which, if abused—! and abused it would be, for similar powers always had been abused in that unhappy I country—might lead to outrages of female; modesty, to violations of all the sacred privacies of domestic life, the rankling recollections of which would in long after years: efface from the memories of the people of Ireland the atrocities of the pitch-cap and the triangles, and all the abominations of the Riding-school. But this was a discussion of detail. He would forbear. One word only about the course which he felt; it his duty to pursue with regard to the Bill. After the somewhat uncourteous in credulity with which similar professions had been received from the lips of other Members, he almost feared to lay claim to those feelings which he trusted the majority of the House would yet give him credit for—feelings of respect and attachment towards his Majesty's Ministers, notwithstanding the opposition which he felt it his duty to give to this measure. In opposing any measure of which they were the authors, he felt that he was giving to his constituents and the people of England proofs, stronger than any words 507 of his could convey, of the conscientious aversion which he entertained for its provisions; but he must also say, so extreme was his aversion, that in voting for it in any one of its stages, he felt he was giving no less proof of the respect which he entertained for its authors. Nor in the opposition which now and in committee he felt compelled to offer, would be forget—he thought no opponent of this Bill had a right to forget—the grave and onerous responsibility under which an executive Government laboured in circumstances such as these. There were occasions, he thought, and this was among the number, when an executive Government might stand excused for proposing measures which vet it would be highly inexcusable in a Representative Legislature to sanction—there were circumstances of responsibility under which a Ministry might without reproach come down and ask for powers, which, they as guardians of the public liberty, might see ample reason to refuse. The first duty of an executive Government was the preservation of life and property. The first duty of a Representative Legislature was, to take care that in the preservation of life and property, the safeguards of individual liberty be not unnecessarily infringed; and he conceived no man could stand in greater need of indulgence for his own errors than he who, enjoying the comparative freedom of the Representative character, was not willing to allow a large measure of indulgence towards what he might think the errors of those who were acting under the harassing responsibility of the Executive. He was told, that if the opposition which he and others felt it their duty to offer should chance to be successful, the result would be that which none more than himself would regard as a national calamity—the resignation of the present Ministers, He confessed he had no such apprehensions. He granted that a Minister ought to resign the moment that Parliament refused him such powers as were necessary to carry on the Government; but he did not believe, that the noble Lord would set up his own individual opinion as conclusive proof of the fact of that necessity—such opinion being in direct opposition to that of a majority of the House. A resignation under such circumstances would prove that of which the world needed no proof—the sincerity of the noble Lord; but it would prove little 508 respect either for the House or the country. It was the duty of his Majesty's Ministers to accept such powers as the House might be pleased to confer; if, after a fair trial, (the only satisfactory proof in such a case, and a proof which was still wanting,) they came down to the House and said, that the powers which had been given had been found insufficient for the final extinction of outrage, such was the confidence which the House and country felt in his Majesty's present Ministry, he believed their own assertion would then be taken as conclusive proof of the necessity. At ail events, it would then be time enough for the Representatives of the people to consider by what sacrifice of individual opinion they were willing to purchase the further services of a Ministry, the most honest in intention—ay, and he would say, notwithstanding the taunts which had been thrown out against them in the mortification of political defeat—looking at the practical good which they had accomplished, and the practical evils which they had warded off during their short term of power, he should say the most efficient Ministry that ever guided into the haven of public tranquillity the vessel of a decayed and almost shipwrecked Constitution,
§ Lord Morpeth
was unwilling to thrust himself hastily forward, till he had heard the opinions of many other people. He contemplated this Bill with much sorrow, and he subscribed to the justice of all the epithets which, with great impartiality, both the friends and the enemies of the Bill had applied to it. He admitted, that it wasarbitrary, despotic, severe, and cruel. The hon. member for Liskeard spoke of it as an unwise measure, but in that opinion he did not agree. Another hon. Member termed it monstrous, and in print it had been called an infernal bill, but he objected to that epithet, as impugning the motives of its authors. It had been called monstrous and atrocious. He felt, nevertheless, that it was necessary to adopt it, because it had two attributes which rode over all the others. The Bill was, first, a measure of stern necessity; and next, it was a measure of sovereign mercy. To the best of his judgment, the Ministers had completely established their case. In every part of society the confidence in their characters was fully established, livery person with whom he was acquainted—in every society with which he mixed—he heard people congratulating them- 509 selves that they were out of Ireland. No property was safe there; and there was no capitalist who did not rejoice that he had no capital in Ireland. That was what he had gleaned in conversation. He would ask those who argued against this measure, having a character of mercy, to put themselves in the place of the solitary inhabitant of a cabin in Ireland, and say whether they would not rather be disturbed by the entrance of the authorized servants of the King, than by the unauthorized outrages of miscreant marauders banded together for the execution of the mysterious mandates of capricious and bloody revenge? Severity towards such savage prowlers was mercy to the peaceable and unprotected. The hon. member for Newport had instituted a comparison between the proceedings of Swing in England and the Terry Alts in Ireland, but the great difference, or rather the contrast, between the two countries was, not so much in the nature of the outrages committed, as in the sympathy of the people. Here, when Swing-was heard of, he could only be connected with some Gentleman riding in a gig; but in Ireland an outrage was followed most generally by an attempt at a rescue and an affray with the police. Nothing had to his mind so well illustrated the state of the country as the circumstance mentioned by his right hon. friend (the Secretary for Ireland) in the appeal he had made to the House, of the stoppage of the boats of the Ireland Steam Navigation Company. It was said, that the want of employment was the cause of the disorders of Ireland. Of that opinion was the hon. member for Knaresborough, who cheered his remark, and he well remembered, that he was one of those who were most prominent in making it. The hon. member for Newport told the House, like many who had gone before him, that the predial and political disturbances were totally distinct. He must say, that it would be very litle consolation to him if he were called out of this house to be shot, to be told that he was the victim of a predial and not of a political disturbance. And it was then inferred that the only remedy for these grievances would be the adequate employment of the people. Let the House remember the statement made by the agent of the managers of the Inland Steam Navigation Company, which was quoted by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland. 'He 'now reports,' said the statement, 'that 510 six of the large iron-trade barges, containing about 300 tons of grain, flour, and other valuable property, intended for Dublin and Liverpool, with a large quantity of cattle, have been stopped on their passage from the Shannon to Dublin, and the peisons in charge of the horses employed in tracking them forced to fly, by gangs of armed men in the middle of the day, and their lives threatened if they attempted to assist in getting the barges on their destination. The con-sequence is, that property to the extent of 10,000l. at least, now lies in these boats, every day and hour becoming from its nature deteriorated in value, and liable to injury, and none of the men in the Company's employment dare proceed in their removal. They have been offered double wages to do so, but all to no purpose.' Conciliation was a golden rule of policy, and it was the only rule which could be applied with ultimate safety and success to the grievances of mankind. It was lovely in its nature and lasting in its effects; but he doubted whether, at the present moment, conciliation was adequate of itself to ensure the prosperous course of the navigation of the Shannon; or, ascending from a part to the whole, to give facility to employment, and encouragement to capital throughout the country. He knew nothing, however, which could give a better idea than that short extract of the close connexion which existed between the continued disturbance and the protracted impoverishment of Ireland. Other hon. Gentlemen laid great stress—and he believed very justly—upon Poor-laws. Against the introduction of Poor laws into Ireland he wished to say nothing. At the proper time and opportunity, he might be disposed to say a good deal for them; but in the present state of parliamentary and official leisure, he owned that he should be very sorry, if he lived in the county of Kilkenny, to be told to remain in his house, and wait for the concoction and promulgation of a satisfactory system of Poor-laws for Ireland. He returned to the point he set out from, by stating, that he believed this measure was not more one of stern necessity than of sovereign mercy. As he felt that that was not the time for examining, far less for pledging himself to all the precise and particular provisions of this Bill, it would be sufficient for him to state, that without departing from his attachment to all the 511 great principles and guarantees of constitutional freedom—those principles and guarantees which formed at once the safeguard and the ornament of well-ordered and peacefully-administered communities, his first and fixed aim, in the future progress of this Bill, despite the "will nots" and "shall nots" of the hon. member for Newport, would be to see how it could be made most efficient for its own purposes of protection and redress, for giving to the well-disposed and well-conducted portion of the Irish community a sense of security for their lives and persons—for the quiet enjoyment of the fruits of their industry, and for the peaceable possession of their hearths and homesteads. The hon. member for Newport had appealed to the House to know whether there was one in a thousand of the people of England who did not read this Bill, as a Bill for the "suppression of Mr. O'Connell," as the hon. Member termed it. He did not wish to be tempted into any personality. He anxiously wished to avoid saying anything disrespectful to any Member of the House; but why did the hon. Gentleman tempt him to inquire how the English people would receive the Bill if they did so read it? He believed, however, that such was not the view which the English people took of it. He believed they had lately become acquainted with the exigencies of the case; and that, with whatever regret they might view the introduction of measures of so harsh a character, still they bowed to the necessity which alone could justify them: and sorry, indeed, should he be, so far to overstep the recognized bounds of the Constitution, and the ordinary landmarks of freedom, and yet, after all, in deference to any point which might suggest a plausible argument, swell a vehement invective, or elicit a sounding cheer, stop short of the very means which could alone ensure the justifying object. Of the Bill before the House, he had thought it his duty to say thus much. With those who entreated his Majesty's Government subsequently, and as far as possible concurrently, to carry into effect measures of large relief and wise amendment he entirely concurred. He did not doubt their good dispositions, but he felt more than ever how necessary it was that they should call them into speedy action. There were other hon. Members with less benevolent views, who reproached his Majesty's Ministers with a reckless and entire deviation 512 from the political principles which had heretofore guided their conduct in public life; there were others who, perhaps, with less wish to censure, expressed more of pity than reproach for the position in which the Ministry were placed. He did think it a pity, and he did deeply regret that the situation of any portion of the empire should force upon them the course they were compelled to adopt; but with regard to their own credit and character, his views were of an entirely different nature. Whether it were in the sunshine of popular favour or under its cloud, it mattered not to him.Did I but purpose to embark with theeOn the smooth surface of a summer sea;But would forsake the ship and make the shore,Where the winds whistle and the tempests roar.With whatever pleasure and perseverance he might have served under the banners of his noble and right hon. friends, in many a well-fought field of civil and religious freedom, against the formidable array of long prescription and old abuse, he owned, if he had not found them ready with as bold a front to meet the aggressions of factious turbulence, to quell with as firm a voice, the ruffian shout of anarchy—and to fight, with as stout a hand the battle of law, property and peace—if, having gloried in the smiles of the people, they had shrunk in a virtuous cause from their frowns—if they had forgotten that though it might be the delight of a statesman to do what was popular and palatable, it was his glory to do in all chances and changes of fortune only what was right;—he should have mourned their degeneracy, and he could not have felt for them that attachment and respect which he was thankful now to feel; and he only hailed, in this exhibition of their conduct, another proof of that which he should have expected to find, that the firmest friends of freedom would always be the steadiest repressors of outrage, and the most resolute upholders of order.
§ Mr. Blackney
regretted that the noble Lord, the Lord Lieutenant of Carlow, (Lord Duncannon), had not been present when he had presented some petitions from that county, or the noble Lord would have been convinced that its inhabitants were as peaceable as men could be. Up to the last month, it had enjoyed comparative tranquillity. The noble Lord said, that he had lately heard some reports of disturbances, but he was of opinion that they 513 were much exaggerated, and that within a month there was but one outrage of an aggravated character. Carlow had been quiet till the Whitefeet had penetrated into it. The police and the country gentlemen did not prevent them. They came from the neighbouring counties till they reached the river, and they did not care one farthing for the river, that did not stop them; they passed over without caring for the bridge. He could assure the House that the Whitefeet had not for a long time perpetrated further into the county than two miles. They should not legislate upon the reports contained in the right hon. Gentleman's box of reports, that came from the chief's of police, their subordinates, and similar suspicious testimony. He did not believe that one half of the outrages were committed, that were described as having been committed in those reports. It was the apathy of Magistrates, and the utter neglect of the Police, either to patrol the county, or perform their other duties which had caused the spread of Whitefootism into Carlow. Had proper measures been adopted in time, the outrages might have been immediately and perfectly checked by [cries of "Question."] What he was about to unfold was as important as any matter that had ever been brought forward in that House, and that it was of the greatest importance to the liberties of Ireland, and to the liberties of England too, for that when they once destroyed Ireland they might quake for their Constitution. He stood there to free his county (the county of Carlow) from an unjust stigma that was attempted to be cast upon it. ["Question.] There was no question. This was a most important matter. ["Question."] "If I am to be interrupted in this way," continued the hon. Member, addressing the Speaker, and then taking a glance at the clock, which stood at 10 o'clock, "I will, with your permission. Sir, continue to speak till the small hours."He had been twenty years and upwards a Magistrate and a Grand Juror in the county of Carlow, and there was not a more peaceable county during that period in all Ireland. There were very few capital convictions, and altogether the district was most tranquil until recently. As an instance of the manner in which petty offences in Carlow were exaggerated into dreadful crimes, he would mention, that a person had been accused by one 514 Ann Magee, as the perpetrator of a most horrible outrage, because he had scooped out the eyes of a blind horse. He begged leave to correct himself—one eye was quite blind, and the other eye was little better. The woman suffered no injury for the evidence which she gave. Two months after, however, she was taken up for setting fire to the hayrick of the Magistrate before whom she gave information. In the county of Carlow, he knew instances in which men who were engaged as half and half policemen to preserve the public peace, were the first to instigate outrages. These men were paid 2s. a-day during the time of their employment, and, doubtless, they found their account in keeping the county in a state the reverse of tranquillity. Party feeling still ran high in Ireland, and the powers given by this Act would cause it to burst out with additional rancour. If the police could not conceal their antipathies in the open day-light, how much less would they attempt to do so at night. Let those unfortunate men who dared to vote against the wishes of the landlords at the elections beware of domiciliary visits, he recollected the year 1798. He recollected the insults which females then suffered. There was one fact move that he wished to mention. A petitioner to that House had described the manner in which his house had been entered; whilst he was standing at the door, he saw the troops and police approaching—ho opened the door. They, however, rushed rudely by him, and proceeded to search the house in a very violent manner. He told them that there was a young female in the house who had been recently confined. He entreated them not to alarm her, but they paid no attention to his entreaties, and not content with searching about her room, shook the bed and linen in a most indecent manner. It might be a subject for laughter to the House, but he assured them that nothing had on former occasions so much tended to excite the indignation of the people of Ireland as the brutal insults on the part of the soldiers and police towards the females of that country. This woman was highly respectable, but were she the poorest woman in the land it would make no difference. The husband complained to the Lord Lieutenant, but he was told that the Government had given an order to search for arms, and no other satisfaction could he obtain.
said, that he had laid some returns before the House connected with the state of the county of Carlow, by which it appeared, that since July, and previous to September, the number of Whitefoot outrages returned did not exceed fifty or sixty. In December last, there were 113; in January 205; and in February, which return he did not possess when he last spoke on the subject, he was happy to say, there was some diminution, the number being 146. These were all serious offences coming within the denomination of Whiteboyism. He would describe one or two of them. In one instance a man was dragged from his bed to the door of his house, and then placed upon his knees, and compelled to swear that he would, on the next day, give up some land which he held. In another case, a man was placed upon his knees before his door, and compelled to swear, that he would not pay more than a certain sum to his landlord. In the third case, the proceeding was a novel one; a man who had parted from his wife was placed upon his knees, and sworn to take her back on the following day. He admitted, that political feeling was very strong, and led to outrages on both sides. Daring the last election, a medical man received notice, that if he voted for Mr. Blackney, he might as well prepare his coffin. He did vote for him, and the next night he was pulled off his horse, and thrown into the river. He admitted also, that the influence of Dr. Doyle and the Catholic priests had kept his county quiet till December last, but the fact of their exertions having now failed, proved to him very strongly the necessity for increased powers.
§ Mr. Lynch
regretted, that his Majesty's Ministers should have been induced to bring forward such a measure, especially without inquiry. Why did they not act as they acted in 1819, when, being in opposition, they called on the Ministers of the day to prove their case. They might then have satisfied the country that they had some ground. But what had they done now? Why, they had shown that Kilkenny, Westmeath, Queen's County, Louth, part of Carlow, and, from the testimonies of the noble Lord (Oxmantown), on Friday last, he supposed he might add King's County, were in a state of disturbance. But was a general and sweeping measure like this to be applied to a partial evil? They had only proved half their 516 case. They had proved the existence of crime, but they had connected that fact with another, which had nothing to do with it, without at all attempting to prove the connexion. The Ministers, instead of impeaching the law, ought to impeach themselves for not executing it; and he referred to the speech of the Judge at the Waterford Assizes, in proof of it. In Clare, Galway, and Roscommon, the Ministry admitted, that they had been unsuccessful in putting the law into execution. When they took office two years ago, they found England in a most disturbed state; did they then apply for additional powers? No, they put the law in force; and why did they not give it a trial in Ireland? They complained that justice was impeded in Clonmel. Why, out of 165 Jurors, seventy-six attended, and that at a time when the cholera was raging dreadfully, and the fear of infection was very great. The Catholics, too, knew that they were always set aside when they did attend, especially in Crown and tithe cases. But even here they succeeded in obtaining a conviction in almost every case. With regard to the Carrickshaugh case, the facts were, that there were throe trials: in the first, there was a failure in the proof of identity; in the second, the witness broke down; and in the third, the Jury gave the accused the benefit of a most excellent character. What argument then could be founded on this? They might as well say, that Jurors would not do their duty in England because a Jury acquitted Watson. He saw no reason for superseding the Trial by Jury. It had been said, that one witness had to be escorted into Clonmel; but who was he? He was a clergyman and a great exactor of tithes. Now, if other witnesses were able to go into the town without any escort, was it not reasonable to suppose that the necessity for the escort, in the case of this gentleman, arose from the fact of his being a tithe-owner, and not of his being a witness (which was the position maintained by hon. Gentlemen opposite)? It was said, that there was plenty of evidence to show that witnesses were intimidated; but that evidence was carefully kept concealed from the House. Supposing, however, that witnesses were intimidated, must all liberty be surrendered? Must the Habeas Corpus Act and the Trial by jury be given up? The argument of the noble Lord was, that in Clare and 517 in King's County outrages had taken place in the open day; that evidence against the perpetrators of offences, on which the ordinary tribunals of the country would convict, could not be procured; and that, therefore, Courts-martial must be established. Now, what was the inference the people of Ireland would draw from that? Why, that other evidence than would satisfy the ordinary courts of the country would be received by the Courts-martial. He recollected that, in another place, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland truly said, "that to convict without evidence was not the way to protect innocence." The same argument applied here; and he said, if you would remedy the grievances of which you complained, apply to the ordinary law. He had endeavoured to show, that the argument in favour of the Bill arising from the failure of justice had no foundation. In doing so he had something that took the shape of an argument to contend with; but when he applied himself to the grounds for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, he did not find a single argument advanced, nor could he believe, that it was possible to advance one, in favour of that proposition. There was no war—no threatened invasion—no competition for the Throne—no actual rebellion; and he defied the hon. and learned Attorney General, or the hon. and learned Solicitor General, to state a single instance of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, which had not been accompanied with one of these conditions. In 1819, this country bordered more on rebellion, and was in a greater state of disturbance than Ireland at present; and yet the Habeas Corpus Act was not suspended. It was true, the Six Acts were introduced; and he remembered that they were said to constitute a greater inroad on liberty than even the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; that the Habeas Corpus Act was merely a rod, whilst the Six Acts formed a whip of scorpions. But what was now proposed? Why, both the rod and the scorpions. There were to be no meetings—no discussions—no liberty of the Press, And on what grounds were these severe measures to be adopted? Because there was a connexion between political and predial agitation; and because, also, although that was not openly admitted, it was wished to put down all discussion on the Repeal of the Union. With respect to predial agitation, this Bill was per- 518 fectly unnecessary, for the ordinary tribunals were competent to put it down. With respect to political agitation, if the Bill were intended to stop discussion on the Repeal of the Union, it was subversive of all liberty. Were men not to be allowed to discuss the propriety of an Act of Parliament? The Act of Union was an Act of Parliament; and either it was conducive to the interest of the two countries, or it was not. If it was, why not discuss it; since the more frequently it was discussed, the better it would appear. If, on the other hand, it was not for the welfare of the two countries, why should it not be repealed; but, above all, why should there not be liberty to discuss it? It had been said, that you might as well attempt to cure a man of the cholic by brushing his clothes, as to secure the affections of a nation by violence. In fact, the more you attempt to put down the question of the Repeal of the Union by violence, the more it would be agitated; and the natural effect of persecuting particular opinions was more firmly to fix them in the minds of the people who already held them. In 1817, the Ministers thought they had put down the question of Reform; but what had happened within these two years? And the present measure would, no doubt, be equally successful with the attempts of the Government in 1817. With respect to the connexion between political and predial agitation, he had no hesitation in saying, that none had been proved. But then it was argued by the hon. and learned member for Leeds, and by the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, that the connexion was to be inferred from their co-existence. He could demonstrate to the House, that coexistence was not constant. In 1775, in 1776, and in 1822, there was predial agitation, and no political agitation. On the other hand, in 1793, in 1794, in 1812, and in 1828, there was political agitation, and no predial agitation. There was, therefore, no force whatever in the argument of co-existence. The right hon. Baronet next said, that, because the society of United Irishmen issued addresses, warning the people to be quiet, and the Political Association in Dublin now do the same—there must be a connexion between political and predial agitation. To refute that fallacy he would content himself with referring to the express evidence of Mr. Barrington, who distinctly said, 519 that no such connexion existed. But the noble Lord opposite said, if they be not connected, one has an influence over the other. But, what an argument was that? Public meetings, the liberty of the Press, Political Unions, might all incidentally have an influence over political agitation, and over predial agitation; but, were public meetings, Political Unions, and the liberty of the Press all to be put down, and all the interests they protect be placed in jeopardy? It was said, by some hon. Members, that if the same state of things were to arise in England, they would be ready to adopt the same measure of redress as they now proposed for Ireland. But would his Majesty's Ministers be ready? Had they shown it in their speeches? Did they show it in their acts? There had been both predial and political agitation in England, and they had not sought so to put it. down. They put down predial agitation by the power of the laws, and had not put down Political Unions at all: but now they wished to put down all unions or assemblages in Ireland. Was that justice? Was that equal rights and equal laws? Besides, let him ask the Gentlemen on the other side, whether they could show him an instance in history, of political agitation having existed without grievances? Political agitation had always arisen for the redress of grievances. It had been said, that Catholic Emancipation had not been attended with the effects expected from it. Now he could deny that assertion upon the authority of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tam worth; who, some time after that healing measure was passed, declared, in this House, that it had been attended with the most salutary effects, and would shortly enable the Government to withdraw apart of the military force from Ireland. No doubt that country had since become disturbed; but why? The measure of emancipation was too long delayed, and was accompanied with measures of severity—even as the measures of conciliation at present proposed were accompanied by this Bill. Catholic Emancipation was granted, but the forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised, and the consequence was, that, within six months, numerous families were turned out of house and home, to become at best wandering beggars, which was the origin of the greater part of these outrages. But were they to forget what had taken place in different 520 parts of Europe since that time? France had been revolutionized—Belgium had been revolutionized^—England had been reformed. Why then was Ireland to remain quiet under the burthen of her numerous grievances, which all allowed to exist, and to some of which his Majesty's Ministers said they would apply remedies? He was told to have confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, and in their promises; but his answer was the same as that of a noble Lord who had preceded him, that confidence was no argument in a question where the safeguards of the Constitution were concerned. He could have no confidence in men who called upon the House to give into their hands the liberties of the country. He could have no confidence in men who had proposed this measure to the House—who had, boasted of its severity, and gloried in its wide departure from the Constitution. Whatever confidence he might have had in them, previously to the bringing forward of this measure, or whatever confidence their conduct might again inspire him with, upon this Bill, he should assuredly give them none. As to the remedial measures to be proposed, were Ministers certain of carrying them? If they were not carried, were Ministers prepared to give up this Coercive Bill? If they were prepared to give up the Bill, what then became of the argument of "overwhelming necessity?" If they were not prepared to give up the Bill, why were the remedial measures described as a sort of corrective or lenitive to coercive enactments? However these questions might be answered, let the remedial measures be as conciliatory and as sweeping as they might, they would lose their effect, on account of their connexion with this Bill. There could, or ought to be, no connexion between the two sets of measures. How, on principle, could a measure—bad in itself—be justified by the passing of a measure, collaterally I good? A bad measure, perse, could not, be justified by the passing of another in itself good. But thus it had always been with Ireland; and thus it was, that even Catholic Emancipation could not be granted without being accompanied by I an equivalent measure of severity. That measure of severity was not only quoted as a precedent for—but was the cause of—the Tithe Bill of last year; and that Tithe Bill, in its turn, had produced the present measure; and, if another could 521 be found more severe than this, it would afterwards be required in consequence of this, and if such another could not be found, then recourse must be bad to the sword. This double-faced legislation was unworthy an enlightened Government—coercion took away from the grace of remedy—remedy rendered coercion less efficient. It had been said, that crime had increased; but must they not look to the causes of that increase? Ought they not to look to the parts of Ireland where it had increased? And, if on so doing, they should find that it had increased most in those counties where the tithes had been most severely exacted, what would the House infer? Yet such was the fact, as might be seen by the evidence of Sir Hussey Vivian, Colonel Verney, and others, who all concurred in saying, that the grievances of Ireland was tithes. If they wanted to put an end to discontent, they ought to remove its cause? If Ministers were prepared to remove that cause, why did they ask for any other measures? If they were not prepared, then this Bill was "a Tithe Bill." Mr. Grattan said, that the Whiteboy Acts were tithe Acts; that the Riot Act was a tithe Act; that the Insurrection Act was a tithe Act; and if he were now alive, he would brand this measure with the same designation of "a tithe Act." He besought his Majesty's Ministers to put an end to this vicious legislation, severe on the one hand, and couciliatory on the other; a legislation not for the people, but for a faction; a legislation not for the millions, but for half a million; a legislation for the pale, and not for Ireland. Before adding another coercive law to the Statute Book—before setting another precedent for the extinction of liberty, let them recollect the warning words of Earl Grey in 1794 1—that "revolutions are brought about less by parties who oppose the Government, than by the Government itself."
§ Mr. James Talbot
would have contented himself with giving a silent vote in favour of Ministers had not his name been introduced during the discussion by the right hon. Irish Secretary, in reference to a use made of it in a letter addressed by Mr. O'Connell to the Irish Volunteers. He was sure that that learned Gentleman never intended to impute to him unworthy motives when voting in opposition to himself, for the learned Gentleman well knew that the imputation would be false: 522 and if the learned Gentleman had ventured so to represent him he would have promptly given him the flattest contradiction. It would have given him great pleasure to have voted with the learned Gentleman, but he was painfully convinced, by the right hon. Secretary's statement, that some strong measures were necessary to the peace of Ireland. He was compelled, indeed, to admit, that his Majesty's Ministers had made out their case, and that they had showed the necessity of having recourse to those extraordinary measures which they had proposed There was only one point stated on the part of Members on the opposite side of the House with which he could agree; and that was the fact stated by the hon. member for Kilkenny, which completed the chain of proof established by the right hon. Gentleman—that, as crime increased, the number of committals decreased. A better proof there could not be of the system of intimidation which had existed in Ireland. Misgovernment afforded food for agitation, and agitation, on the other hand, gave rise to unconstitutional measures of Government. At the same time he would not pledge himself to every detail of the Bill. He objected to domiciliary visits as a horrible abuse; he denounced arbitrary imprisonment as unnecessary. With regard to Courts-martial, if he (Mr. Talbot) were to be tried for his life, he would as soon be tried by a Court-martial, as by any other tribunal in Ireland. Whatever doubt, however, he might have about predial agitation, no doubt could be entertained relative to political agitation, the object of which was to crush all individual opinion. It had been asked by the opponents of the Ministerial measure, whether the Members who supported that measure would support a similar proposition with respect to England. His answer was, that he certainly would, and he believed that other Members would do so likewise.
§ Mr. Charles Grant
said, he should certainly not detain the House by entering into any long discussion upon the general question; but he trusted that the House would permit him to advert to two or three particulars which had been mentioned in the course of the debate. He observed that hon. Members had extended the discussion to certain particulars, for which the present was certainly not the proper period; but considering the importance 523 of the measure, he thought that very excusable. It had been taken for granted, (particularly by the hon. member for Newport), that when a district was once proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant, then Courts-martial were to be immediately established. But that did not follow. On the contrary, it was provided, that there should be a gradation in the quantity of coercion, and that the utmost degree of it would never be applied until the inferior ones had been found to fail. Domiciliary visits were first to be adopted; and if they were successful there would be no necessity whatever for Courts-martial. Much had been said of this measure being an extraordinary violation of the principle of the Constitution, and that, as such, it would prove a dangerous precedent to the rights and liberties of the subject. It was an extraordinary stretch of the law, but because it was so, he agreed with his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) that it would not prove a dangerous precedent. He had himself, some years ago, opposed a mitigated form of the Insurrection Act in Ireland, because its mitigation would make it a dangerous precedent. It had been au old argument of his (Mr. Charles Grant's) that when a deviation from the strict course authorised by the Constitution became necessary, that deviation ought to be so distinct, and so well marked, that no danger could ever arise of its ever being drawn into a precedent. If it were intended to make lasting encroachments upon the Constitution, the proper course would not certainly be to make a glaring deviation from its principles, but to make a slight and almost imperceptible change at first, and to proceed by degrees to overthrow the whole fabric. It was therefore his opinion that if it were necessary to deviate from the Constitution, the line of demarcation ought to be so distinct, that there should be no danger of their proceedings ever being mistaken for a constitutional measure. He, therefore, contended that it was a wise and just principle, when it was necessary to deviate from strict law, to adopt a course so widely departing from the usual line of proceeding, that it should be totally impossible ever to mistake the one for the other. It was admitted on all hands, that danger existed, and he congratulated the House on the unanimity which existed on that point. It was admitted, that a case of extreme danger arose from predial agitation; 524 but the hon. member for Newport contended, that political agitation had nothing to do with predial agitation. But what was the meaning of that soft, mild term, predial agitation? It meant all that system of crime, all that cowardly course of aggression on unoffending individuals, which spread desolation through Ireland. Under the soft and flowery term of predial agitation, had been included all those horrible outrages which had revolted the feelings of this House, and which a Christian country had rarely seen. With respect to political agitation, it had not for its objects the improvement of Ireland, its objects were inconsistent with the integrity and prosperity of the British Empire. Those who were at all acquainted with Ireland knew that there was generally in some part of the country or other an insurrectionary spirit—a species of smothered combustion; if to this incipient fire were added any additional and particular pressure, arising out of the conduct of a landlord, or even of a clergyman, the flame broke out, and predial agitation began. In the present state of that country it was impossible to distinguish between political and predial agitation; they arose out of the same elements, were fed with the same fuel, produced the same resentments, and employed the same weapons, though, perhaps, of different temper. It was out of the question to suppose, therefore, that they should not mutually re-act; and if there really were no connection between them, why was credit taken by political agitators for allaying predial agitation? To revert, however, to the nature of the tribunal by which criminals were to be tried; some hon. Members objected to Courts-martial, but, as had been already justly remarked, who had been able to point out a fit and adequate substitute? Other plans had been talked of, but in his mind, they were all more objectionable than the proposition in the Bill. One had suggested barristers; another Judges and a third Magistrates. As to barristers, did not every body know, that a strong prejudice would exist against them on the ground that they would be anxious to please Ministers by producing convictions? To the suggestion for appointing Judges, the hon. member for Dublin had himself replied in his speech upon the Address at the opening of the Session, when he asserted that the people had no 525 confidence in the Irish Bench. If such were the fact, how could the Judges on the Irish Bench properly carry the Act into execution? He thought, however, that there was another, and a much juster objection to the employment of Judges—it was, that they ought never to be called upon to act at the Assizes, without the assistance of a Jury, and without the sacred and dignified accompaniments of their station. To alter this system was without precedent, and would certainly have a bad effect upon the people. The third suggestion was, that the trials ought to be left to the magistracy; but the Magistrates the hon. and learned member for Dublin had also declared in the first debate of the Session, had entirely forfeited the confidence of the people. What outcries too would be raised, if Ministers listened to this proposition for throwing the people of Ireland into the hands of the Orange Magistracy. This was the very evil the Court-martial was erected to avoid. The hon. member for Newport (Mr. Hawkins) had made a fourth and a still more extraordinary proposal. He had contended that English lawyers should be employed to try murders committed in Ireland. Such a proceeding would indeed kindle the national hatred; the people of Ireland had already been told, that the English were their enemies; and would it not be held out by the agitators—the de claimers against the Sassenagh—as the completion of the degradation of their country, that Saxon lawyers had been brought over to pronounce upon the destinies of the ill-fated Irish. Although the present measure might not be carried into effect, it was still necessary, and might be most useful, in deterring from crime. He believed that the attitude already taken by Parliament, and the determination shown to put down rebellion, had struck terror into the hearts of the agitators. In his opinion it was one great merit of the Bill that to employ it was left to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, and it would be a praise to the measure and an honour to those who brought it in, if it were found not necessary to carry it into execution. It had been said, that Ministers were governed by party motives, and that they had introduced this Bill to answer political purposes. It was not by any means the first time that the intentions of public men had been impugned; but he ventured to assert that the Bill 526 rested upon public grounds only, and that it did not originate in sordid or party views. Upon the same principle the Reform Bill had been introduced, and upon that principle it had been carried. Ministers thought, that the existing danger, if not repressed, would not only desolate Ireland but peril the existence of the Empire. Whether the Bill were received with applause or censure, its promoters were resolved to keep their course. Ministers were responsible, and what they deemed their duty, that they would perform, and, with the blessing of God, the Empire which they received from their predecessors compact and united they would deliver to their successors one and undivided. In addition to the approbation of their own consciences, they hoped to meet the approbation of the general body of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. However anxious Ministers were to maintain personal freedom, they were resolved to preserve the integrity of the Empire, and to remain true to the great principles which ought to govern British Statesmen.
§ Mr. Lalor
contended, that all the accounts from Ireland received by Ministers, and which were employed as the foundation for this Bill, had been most grossly exaggerated. In the county he represented (Queen's County), he could safely assert, that crime had been magnified five hundredfold. The state of society in Ireland was not to be judged of by comparison with the state of society in England, and a vast deal more information was necessary on that subject before this measure could be justified. If an opportunity were afforded, he pledged himself to prove, that persons had been employed to seduce the lower orders, and to promote agitation, in order to form a foundation for the Bill. Fie had no objection to the adjournment of the debate; but if it were not adjourned, it was but fair to give him a hearing. Interruptions here taking place, the hon. Member moved the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Colonel Davies
said, it was for the House to decide whether it would submit to be thus constantly bullied—whether it would thus, night after night, be insulted, because hon. Gentlemen thought they were not sufficiently attended to, or their talents properly appreciated. They were now arrived at the eighth night of a debate 527 on the principle of a question, and the hon. Member would further prolong it, because, forsooth, his abilities were not bowed down to; thus neglecting the whole business of the House, and the whole business of the country. He could only say, if the noble Lord chose to sit till that time the following evening, he would stay with him.
§ Mr. Fergus O'Connor
did not exactly know what the hon. Member who spoke last meant. He begged to say, that all the patience was on his side the House; from it there had been no interruption whatever—all was attention, calmness, and respect.
§ Lord Althorp
did not think that the interruption had been more on this than on previous occasions. He should have been exceedingly glad if the hon. Member had been allowed to conclude; but he must say, he felt it to be absolutely his duty to resist any further adjournment, which was necessary, if they had any intention to get on with the business of the country. The hour was not very late. He should be glad if the House would attend to the hon. member for Queen's County; but, under any circumstances, he could not consent to adjourn.
§ Mr. Maurice O'Connell
said, he would not detain the House long, but he felt it his duty to protest against the whole Bill from beginning to end. The hon. member for Inverness-shire had asked how it was, that political agitation had not put down predial agitation during the last twelve months? He would tell the hon. Member that the reason was, because within that period the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had passed a Bill for the collection of tithes, which had had the effect of creating disaffection, discontent, and insurrection. He condemned the establishment of military tribunals, and maintained that no good reason had been shown why offences in Ireland should not be tried by a Judge and Jury. He liked better than anything he had yet heard as a substitute for the proposed Courts-martial the proposition of the hon. member for Newport, for sending over English lawyers in substitution of the Courts-martial. How many of their Judges had been English lawyers? How many of their Chan- 528 cellors? And yet there never was known to be any prejudice against them. As to Juries, he positively denied, that a single instance had been made out in which Juries had not done their duty. They had assertion on this point—they had a deal of talking, and a deal of declamation, but they had not heard one fact—there had not been even one solitary case proved. The hon. member for Inverness shire complained of Ministers being accused with having brought forward this measure from personal feeling. Had they, he asked, given no ground for that charge? Was not the greater part of the right hon. Secretary's speech made up of a violent philippic against the hon. and learned member for Dublin? The right hon. Secretary had taken upon himself to lecture the hon. and learned Member on account of a letter written by him in which he referred to the people of Athlone, in which he asked them what they thought of the conduct of their Representative. He contended that the hon. and learned Member had a perfect right to put that question, and that the appeal he made to the constituents of the hon. member for Athlone was entirely constitutional. He knew not what effect the atmosphere of that House might have had on that hon. Member, but this he could say, that seven or eight months previous to the last election the hon. Member was admitted a member of one of the most violent political clubs in Ireland. The hon. Member concluded by observing that the ordinary law of the land was sufficiently strong for the suppression of disturbances.
§ The House divided—Ayes 363; Noes 84: Majority 279.
§ Bill read a second time.
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Attwood, T.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Bayntun, Captain||Humphery, J.|
|Bcauclerk, Major||Hutt, W.|
|Bowes, J.||Ingilby, Sir W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Kemp, T. R.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Molesworh, Sir W.|
|Buller, C.||Palmer, General|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Parrott, Jasper|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Philips, M.|
|Cobbett, W.||Richards, J.|
|Cornish, J.||Romilly, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Romilly, E.|
|Fancourt, Major||Scholefield, J.|
|Fielden, J.||Strutt, E.|
|Crete, G.||Tayleure, W.|
|Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.||Lalor, P.|
|Torrens, Col. R.||Lambert, H.|
|Tynte, C. K. K.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Tynte, C. J. K.||Maclaughlin, L.|
|Warburton, H.||Macnamara, Major|
|Wood, Alderman||Mullins, Fred.|
|Wilks, J.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Gillon, W. D.||O'Connell, C.|
|Oswald, R. A.||O'Connell, J.|
|Oswald, J.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Wallace, R.||O'Connor, F.|
|Baldwin, H.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Barron, H. W.||Roche, W.|
|Barry, G. S.||Roche, D.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ronayne, D.|
|Blackney, W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Daunt, W. O. N.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Finn, W. F.||Sullivan, R.|
|Fitzgerald, T.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Walker, C. A.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||White, L.|
|Galwey, J. M.||TELLERS.|
|Grattan, J.||Hume, J.|
|Grattan, H.||O'Connell, M.|
|Butler, Hon. P.||Gillon, W.|
|Dobbin, L.||James, W.|
|Ellis, W.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|