§ Mr. Callaghan
was sensible that it was great presumption in so humble an individual as himself to address the House on this subject, after the very able and eloquent address of the right hon. Baronet. He was perfectly conscious of his own inferiority, yet, at the same time, he had a duty to discharge to those people who sent him there, and he had to entreat the indulgence of the House, while he trespassed on their patience as short a time as he possibly could. He had ima- 128 gined the Resolution of the hon. and learned member for Dublin was so worded, as that it precluded the possibility of any thing like personality being introduced into the debate; and, he thought the opposition which the hon. Gentleman had met with, had been founded more on the principles which he advocated, and the doctrines which now prevailed in Ireland, than upon the merits or demerits of the question brought before the House for discussion. He had hoped that the right hon. Secretary for the Treasury, who had, on many occasions, in that House, given evidence of good feelings and good temper, would have avoided anything like personality in the present instance, and would have adopted a similar course of observation to that which the right hon. Gentleman followed at a period which he was about to refer to. It happened that in the year 1825, Mr. O'Connell had given a very strong opinion against the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders of Ireland, for which he was severely censured by the then member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hume). In reply to this attack on the hon. and learned member for Dublin, the right hon. Secretary for the Treasury, (Mr. Spring Rice) observed:—'That the hon. Gentleman had said, that the leaders of the Catholics in Ireland—that the men whom the Catholics had respected, whose talents they admired, and in whose virtue, and probity, and public spirit, the country had confided—that these men had betrayed their trust, and had compromised the interests of their countrymen. He would say, that the statement was not correct, and that the Catholics of Ireland would not believe it, though it came from the hon. member for Aberdeen. The conduct of Mr. O'Connell and his friends, he was sure, was such as would, at least, place them above suspicion on the part of their friends in this House, or in the country. He could not conceive any event more fatal than these base misrepresentations, by which the Catholics would be made to despair of friends within the walls of Parliament; but, becoming dupes to wicked and incendiary writers, propagating these insinuations, might learn to distrust those leaders, in whom they had hitherto confided. These wicked calumniators had done more to estrange Parliament from the Catholic cause, than 129 could have been possibly conceived at the beginning of the Session.'* He, therefore, thought that, if only in regard to consistency, and putting other considerations out of the question, the right hon. Secretary might have abstained from throwing so much abuse or sarcasm on the principal agitator of the Repeal of the Union with Ireland. He could easily conceive the motives which induced the right hon. Secretary to dwell on the merits or demerits of any one individual, and to endeavour to mix up with the hon. Member he abused, every individual in favour of Repeal, no matter what might be his rank, character, or station, who took a similar view of the question to that hon. Member. He himself had never been an agitator of the question of the Repeal of the Union. He had undertaken to defend it here to the best of his abilities, because it was the opinion of those who sent him here that this was the most proper time when this question should be brought under the consideration of Parliament. For it was a question of recent origin, and it had been agitated now, from a very prevailing sense that the Imperial Parliament had not done justice to Ireland, and that it was inattentive to the wants and wishes of her people. At the time of the Union, Ireland was certainly in a most prosperous state. He did not say, that its prosperity was greater then than it was at the present period; for he could not shut his eyes to the very considerable improvement which had taken place throughout Ireland since the Union, and which, however, was, in his judgment, not at all owing to that measure. Her population alone had increased from 4,000,000 to 8,000,000, and by the increase of population there had been a great increase in the consumption of goods imported into Ireland; but he was satisfied, if Ireland had had the fostering protection of a domestic legislature, it would have derived much greater benefits from that than had been conferred on it by the Imperial Parliament since the Union. The passing of that measure did not give the Irish permission to import one single article into England, beyond what they had previously imported. It promised them the introduction of the skill and industry of England, and that they were, English, Irish, and all, to be united in bonds of mutual affection and amity. He* Hansard (new series) xiii. 470.130 was not aware of any one instance in which the skill and industry of Englishmen, or of any foreigner whatever, had been introduced into Ireland since the Union. By the sixth article of the Union, great advantages were held out to them as to the importation of Irish produce into this country; but even up to the present hour, the Irish were labouring under very great difficulties as to the exportation of many articles of their manufacture, which five-and-thirty years ago they were promised to be relieved from. At the time of the Union, the Parliament of Ireland enjoyed the right of protecting her own industry, and the repealers thought, that the people of Ireland had a right to a Parliament for the purpose of regulating and protecting their internal affairs. They ought not to interfere in the concerns of England; they did not wish for a separation between the two countries, but they had not the means of making their wants and wishes known to the Imperial Parliament; and it was because they felt strongly on that point, that the hon. and learned Member had offered the resolution to the House. They found that their merchants and manufacturers were ruined; that the great superiority of England was such, that they could not raise the sale of their manufactures, unless they had some protecting duty; that every day the means of producing wealth had been taken from them—so that, in point of fact, Ireland was now a desolate waste. In that respect he spoke only of those large towns in Ireland with which he was acquainted. The right hon. Secretary for the Treasury alluded to the sums of money expended in the erection of gaols or prisons in Ireland; but the gaols were not benefits, and there had not been one built to which the counties had not contributed, but the loans of the Government seemed advanced to give the Government the power of controlling the work. In the county of Cork, the prisons, by this management, had cost 180,000l., whereas the probability was, that 10,000l. or 15,000l. would have been quite sufficient for that purpose under a better system of government. Again, he could say, that there had not been a penny advanced for fever hospitals, except in Dublin, which had not been repaid. The right hon. Secretary was very severe in his animadversions on Mr. O'Connell, when he asked what this country had done for Ireland; but the 131 right hon. Gentleman should have recollected, that in 1825, he asked the very same question himself. He found, that in a debate in that House, on the state of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman said—'If there was one subject more than another that occupied the attention of the House, and the people out of doors, it was the condition of Ireland, and the steps which it was probable Parliament would take to ameliorate that condition. It was a consideration which came recommended from the Throne, and the expediency of which was established by every inquiry that had been instituted. He would now, however, ask after all that anxiety that had been evinced so generally, what had been done for Ireland by the Legislature. The statute-book might be searched in vain for a single remedial measure for the evils, the existence of which in that country was on all hands acknowledged?.'* He had the curiosity to see how far the right hon. Gentleman was correct in his assertion, and he found that in 1825, there was no act passed which had the effect of remedying any of the grievances of Ireland. In 1826 there was none; in 1827 there was none; in 1828 there was none. In 1829 the great measure of Catholic emancipation was agreed to, for which he (Mr. Callaghan), as well as every other Roman Catholic, felt most grateful. He was not disposed to undervalue the several benefits which this country had conferred upon Ireland; but he wished to point out in what respect the right hon. Secretary and the hon. and learned member for Dublin disagreed, as to the remedial measures which had been passed. In 1830 there was nothing done. In 1831, there was a promise to do something: an inquiry took place into the state of Ireland, by means of a committee, which sat throughout the greater part of the Session—but no legislation was effected. The present Government then came into office, and re-appointed the Committee—but it was never called together, nor was any report ever made. In 1832, the Irish Reform Bill was passed, and he could assure the House that there was no man less disposed to think lightly of the beneficial effects of that measure than he was. It gate them the opportunity of sending those individuals to Parliament who were the best able and most compe-* Hansard (new series) xiii. p. 842.132 tent to state the wishes of the country; but if they were to be met by derision, and their motives were to be suspected, he was sure they could have no great anxiety to continue in their present position. He could not but feel indignant at the right hon. Secretary taunting them with not acting as honest men, and calling on them to vote, not as if they were working for a seat in Parliament, but as if they had only one common country. He had the honour of having a sent in that House long before the agitation of the Repeal question, and his only grounds for supporting it now were; the Imperial Parliament not having done justice to Ireland since the passing of the Act of Union, and of having done injustice to Ireland in passing the Act of Union. These were the grounds on Which his constituents had felt themselves bound to call on him to pledge himself to the measure; and he pledged himself, that so long as he could, by every constitutional means, in that House and elsewhere, try to Obtain the Repeal of the legislative Act of Union, so long should he consider it his duty as an Irishman to do so. It had been said by the right hon. Baronet, that no man ought to vote for this measure, because it would reduce England to the situation of a third rate power, but the Irish parliament were told by the present Prime Minister of this country, that it would be a sacred duty to, at all times, try to recover back their lost rights which had been improperly taken from them. When the people knew, that such men as Earl Grey were the warmest opponents of the Union, and Could refer to speeches delivered at that period by men of the first rank and talent in thin country, they could not but feel satisfied that irreparable injury was done to them by the passing the Act of Union, and that it was their duty as good citizens, and as good Irishmen, to endeavour to repeal it. A very large proportion of the Wealth of the country was taken from Ireland by those who might be called foreign proprietors, who lived out of the kingdom spending a vast proportion of its wealth, without any of it ever finding its way back again. The disturbances in the agricultural districts of Ireland, were principally owing to the smaller tenantry having to pay a sort of tribute to those who actually resided out of the country; and in addition to that great evil they found, that commerce had decreased on 133 account of the want of capital. Ireland received no more benefit from this part of her produce, than if it were sunk in the bottomless sea. He was very much impressed with the applicability of certain observations of Montesquieu to the present state and condition of Ireland. Montesquieu said—'If we could find a state so unhappy as to be deprived of the effects of other countries, and, at the same time, of almost all its own, the cultivators of the lands would be only planters to foreigners. This state, wanting all, could gain nothing. Wherefore, it would be much better for the inhabitants not to have the least commerce with any nation on the earth; for commerce in those countries must necessarily lead them to poverty. A country that constantly exports fewer manufactures or commodities than it receives, will soon find the balance sinking. It will receive less and less, till, falling into extreme poverty, it will receive nothing at all. In trading countries, the specie which suddenly vanishes, quickly returns, because those nations that have received it, are its debtors; but it never returns into those states of which we have just been speaking, because those who received it owe them nothing.' Such was the state of Ireland at the present moment; and as far as the amount remitted to this country operated, she was reduced to that condition. It was to this tribute drawn from her as he had already described, it was to the remittances made from Ireland, that were to be attributed the increased poverty of that country. Every addition to taxation required an additional exertion to meet it, and the increased exports which had taken place, had only had the effect of leaving in the country less than there was before. No man conversant with the situation of Ireland, would say, that there were now in it so many comfortable farms as there were before the Union. There might be more small farmers, but that was not an advantage. It arose from the landlord taking advantage of the density of the population, to exact large rents for small portions of ground, instead of being liberal, and throwing small holdings into good-sized farms. But the main source of the poverty of Ireland, was the being deprived of all, or nearly of all, manufactures. He was not aware, although he represented a commercial and flourishing community, comprising persons of all 134 classes and creeds, and of various grades in society, that Ireland was in the least indebted to British skill or industry for the position in which she stood. At the period of the Union, the position of Ireland with respect to her commercial affairs was regulated by her own domestic legislature; but at the Union, she at once surrendered the power, he had almost said the right, of deciding upon or of looking after her own interests. They had, therefore, he conceived, a right to have back their own parliament, and to regulate their own domestic concerns. The Irish might, it was true, export one or two articles of manufacture to England, as stated by the hon. member for Belfast; but that did not prove general prosperity. He would state to the House what had been the manufacturing condition of the city he represented, previous to the enactment of the Union, as compared to its present state. The hon. Member read the following paper:—
|State of Manufactures in the City of Cork, in the years 1800 and 1833.|
|In 1800 the number of broad weavers amounted to (earnings averaging 32s. per week)||1000|
|In 1833 there were but (earnings from 10s. to 12s. per week)||40|
|In 1800 the number of worsted weavers was (their earnings averaging 20s. or 22s. per week)||2000|
|In 1833 there were but (earnings 5s. per week)||90|
|In 1800 the hosiers amounted to (earnings 18s. per week)||300|
|In 1833 there were but||28|
|In 1800 the wool-combers amounted to||700|
|In 1833 there were but||110|
|In 1800 the number of cotton weavers was (earnings 28s. per week)||2000|
|In 1833 they were reduced to (rate of wages from 4s. to 5s. per week)||210|
|In 1800 the number of linen check weavers employed was (earnings 15s. per week)||600|
|In 1833—Not one!|
|Cotton spinners, calico printers, bleachers, &c., where there were thousands employed—all those trades are now entirely extinct.|
§ The House, therefore, would have a false notion of the prosperity of Ireland, if the establishment of a manufacture or two in Belfast was to be taken as a criterion of that prosperity. He must take it for granted, that the petitions presented at different times, representing the impoverished state of Dublin and other cities, were founded in fact, for they were never 135 disputed. He recollected, that when the late member for Armagh, his esteemed friend Mr. Brownlow, presented a petition in 1827, setting forth the impoverishment of Dublin, the right hon. the Secretary of the Treasury, then sitting on the Opposition side of the House, and Sir John Newport, both confirmed the statements of the petition. The latter was very slow in admitting, that Ireland had improved since the year 1800, saying, that certainly she had improved a little in her agriculture, but that he could not admit the fact of any general improvement. It was this which was in the mind of every rational man, and of every manufacturer in the city he represented, and therefore they had agitated the question of Repeal. Had they been happy and prosperous, they would have been content with their situation as they were during the war, when they enjoyed the same prosperity as England. They complained now because they felt distress and poverty; and it was because he knew the truth of their complaints, and that it was a domestic legislature only which could remove them, that he advocated the Repeal of the Union; but he would not give up the abstract right of Ireland, to possess a domestic Parliament, even if she were twenty times richer than she is. The domestic legislature had been filched from Ireland by fraud and corruption—by a Parliament which refused to reform itself,—by a Parliament filled with officers, with strangers, not with Irishmen, by men who were paid by the head for voting for the Union. In private life such a contract as that could not be maintained for an instant, for it was bottomed in fraud. Having lost the Parliament through bribery and false promises, the Irish were bound and entitled to get it back again if they could. At the same time he would not lend himself to the agitation of this question, if he thought that Repeal could in any manner lead to a separation of the two countries. Nay, more, if he thought that any person agitating for Repeal, did so with the view of attaining a separation, he would not join with such an agitator; but when he found an almost unanimous opinion in the community among which he lived, in favour of Repeal, without having any such object as separation in view, he could not but advocate it in that House. He had heard it asserted that the Repeal of the Union was not advocated 136 in Ireland by men of property or intelligence, but by the mere rabble of the country. Now, he took it upon him to say, that so far as the community he had the honour to serve was concerned, that assertion was totally false. The proprietors of the land had certainly not petitioned for the Repeal of the Union, but neither had they petitioned against it. He frankly admitted, however, his belief to be, that the proprietors were generally against Repeal, but he asserted, that the intelligence of the towns, of the men of industry, of those whose exertions tend to promote the prosperity of Ireland, at the same time that they forward their own, was all on the side of Repeal. So convinced was he of this, that he would venture to say, that the present mode of dealing with the Question would do anything but put down their disposition to agitate it. When they knew, that benefits had not resulted to Ireland from this Parliament—when they knew, that it had not adopted any remedial system towards that country, it would not be very satisfactory to them to be told, that that House had almost unanimously resolved those questions in the affirmative, contrary to their own experience. They could not be satisfied, for they could not believe, that such a conclusion was come to from correct reasoning, or patriotic motives. He did not undervalue the advantages of the connexion with England, nor the honour of being a Member of the British Senate; but he declared he should be equally proud to be a Member of a domestic Legislature in Ireland, as he was of being a Member of the Imperial House of Commons. All the time he was sitting there, he could not shut his eyes to the fact, because he daily was convinced of it, that great inconveniences resulted from the seat of the Legislature being in a country distant from that the affairs of which it had to legislate upon. His right hon. friend, the Secretary of the Treasury, in the course of his long and able speech, referred to the charges made against him in particular in Ireland, and trulysaid, they were most unjust. He knew the charges which were supposed to have been made against the right hon. Secretary in the commercial community to which he belonged; but he assured the right hon. Secretary, that they were more made against the system than against the man. The great labour the right hon. Gentleman had to undergo precluded the 137 possibility of his giving any attention to details which his inclination, he was sure, would lead him to investigate. They all knew, that he was in the hands of the subordinate officers in the different departments. If a complaint were laid before the Treasury from Ireland, it was referred to the very Board against the Officers of which it was made, and the Treasury in all instances considered the Report of the Board to be true, and that of the complainants to be false, although supported by affidavits and other evidences of the most unexceptionable description. This would not be the case if the Boards and different departments of the Executive Government, which a Repeal of the Union would render it necessary to establish, were to be referred to in Dublin. When his constituents found the great difficulty there was in getting access to public offices in London, and of the difficulty of getting redress for any grievances real or imaginary, it was not to be wondered at that they should desire a Repeal of the Union. He held in his hand a statement, by which it appeared, that the loss of one mercantile house, in the course of two years, by the imposition of duties beyond what were engaged should be imposed on the exportation of goods at the time of the Union, was no less than 1,578l. The 6th Article of the Union stated, that the goods of either country imported into the other should only be subject to the same duties as were imposed on the same goods in that country. For many years after the Union this Article was strictly observed; but now there were exacted from several manufacturers, as Irish distillers, for instance, duties of exportation from Ireland, instead of duties of importation into this country. He was aware, that the present practice had the sanction of an Act of Parliament, and that the Irish trader was therefore without redress; but it was part of the Repeal case that they were without redress; that the Article of the Union had been violated to their injury; and that they could not obtain justice. There were very few Irish manufactures which came in competition with those of England, but in every case in which differences had arisen between English and Irish manufactures, the question had uniformly since the Union been decided in favour of the English manufacturer. The right hon. the Secretary of the Treasury took credit gin England for 330,000,000l. she had 138 contributed to the revenue, over and above Ireland, since the Union. That was a fact, no doubt; but it was not one for which the Irish need be grateful; because, considering the prosperity of England, and the superior comforts of her people, it was only fair that she should be taxed in articles of consumption, 10,000,000l., for it comes to no more in the course of the thirty-four years over and above Ireland. Another item for which the right hon. Secretary took credit, was the relief from 4,000,000l. of interest of her debt, which ceased to be charged against Ireland at the consolidation of the two Exchequers; but he would show the House, that this was no relief at all to Ireland. The bargain at the time of the Union was, that the Irish should pay two-seventeenths of the expenses of the country, but that they were never able to pay, and this deficiency was met by a loan raised in Ireland, the interest of which was paid in this country, so that never going to Ireland, Ireland felt no relief when the operation ceased. Ireland ought never to have been taxed with this payment of two-seventeenths; for, as was stated at the time, and as the result had shown, she was not able to bear it. At the Union with Scotland, the payment was fixed in proportion to the respective revenues of the two countries, but at the Union with Ireland it was fixed in proportion to the revenue and the exports combined, and he had already shown what a false view the exports of Ireland would give of its prosperity and its ability to bear taxation. If, as in the case of Scotland, the proportion of the revenue had been taken, instead of two-seventeenths, Ireland would only have had to pay one-twentieth. The great disproportion of payment which the bargain made at the Union threw upon her, she was for some time able to bear, in consequence of the artificial prosperity attendant upon the active war which followed. It was that that prevented complaints being made, but the grievance was from the beginning equally great. He begged pardon for detaining the House so long, and he promised to have done in as short a time as he could, consistently with what he knew was expected from him by those who had sent him there. The right hon. Secretary, to whose acuteness and fairness he had always been willing to bear testimony, surprised him much, by dwelling so long upon the situation of the manufacturing 139 interest of Ireland before the Union; he said, that petitions had poured in from Cork, from Dublin, and from other places, complaining of distress in different branches of trade; and no doubt that at the time the individuals presenting those petitions felt distressed; but that did not prove, that there was general manufacturing distress throughout the kingdom. There were particular reasons besides, which induced the presentation of such petitions. It was the practice of the Irish Parliament, whenever it had a surplus revenue, to grant it for the relief of individuals, and the encouragement of manufactures. It was natural, therefore, for those who wanted any of this money to put in their claims; but he was convinced, that there was no such general destitution before the Union amongst the operative classes as had since existed. If the right hon. Secretary of the Treasury had made inquiry among the older inhabitants of the country, he would have found how completely mistaken he was. It had been urged also as an argument against Repeal, that the Parliament which existed in Ireland before the Union, had committed many errors, and was ignorant of the true principles of commerce; to prove which the right hon. Secretary read extracts from its proceedings. Now, in the first place, he was one of those who did not now totally reject the doctrine of protecting duties; he thought that where a state had to raise a revenue to pay its expenses, it was a legitimate mode to lay on duties which would protect its own manufactures. He was an advocate for raising a revenue in such a way as would enable a country to manufacture the raw materials produced by herself. He could never admit, that such a protection would be a bolstering up of an improper manufacture; besides, it could not be contended, that the English Parliament was a bit more enlightened with respect to trade than the Irish Parliament was at that time. Each country had a just right to make regulations to protect its own manufactures. Without that was done, there could be no increase of wealth, because no employment could be found for the population. The only wealth produced in Ireland at present was agricultural produce, and of that no material residue was left behind for the people; and any country which depended upon that alone for its support, would be unable to main- 140 tain a population equal in the same proportion to its soil, to that of Ireland. He was not an enemy to the connexion with England; but he did say, that the present system could not go on with any chance of happiness for Ireland. There must be some change; and he would say, that the circumstances under which the Union was carried, and the circumstances in which Ireland had been placed by the Union, entitled them to call for its Repeal. The right hon. Baronet, who made so powerful a speech when the question was last debated, wholly avoided touching either the resolutions before them, or the amendment moved upon them. He went at once to the question of Repeal, and stated that it was not a question to be argued, for he was convinced, that if carried, it would reduce England to the situation of a third-rate power in Europe. He could not concur in that opinion, for if he did, he should not advocate Repeal. The Repeal of the Union would simply restore the commercial relations of the two countries to the state in which they were immediately antecedent to the Union. Ireland would be made what she was then—England would certainly not be less than she was then, and she was then a great power. The right hon. Baronet certainly argued his case very ably; and if, at the time of the Union, he had entertained a similar opinion to that of the right hon. Baronet, he certainly should have voted in favour of the measure. But he was not of the right hon. Baronet's opinion, and could not have voted for the Union, had he (Mr. Callaghan) been at the age of manhood at the time. He felt himself justified, therefore, in now voting for its Repeal. The right hon. Baronet did not, in the course of his speech, able though it was, give his (Mr. Callaghan's) countrymen any reason for ceasing to petition that House for Repeal, and requiring their Members to advocate it, whenever it should be brought forward. The true interest of the Government of England, however, was to convince the people of Ireland that they were wrong in their views, and that the Union had benefited them. It would not be possible to agitate the inhabitants of Ireland by ten or twelve men telling them that they were injured, if the acts of the English Parliament had been for their advantage; and it was because they were not convinced of that, that the question of Repeal was growing 141 rapidly into favour with them. It would, therefore, continue to advance, until remedial measures, upon a large scale, were adopted, to stop agitation. He could not conceive, that if the people of Ireland should send in their hundred members, all requiring Repeal, that it would be resisted because the Members for England and Scotland were unanimously against it. The soundness of that argument was admitted in the discussion of the question of Catholic Emancipation; and even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he said at first that he would resist a Repeal of the Union to the death, or rather, as he was corrected, would risk a civil war in resisting it, said, in explanation, that circumstances might arise, such as all the members for Ireland requiring it, which might render a Repeal of the Union necessary. Such he understood to be his statement at the time, although he did not find it in any of the reports of the debates of this House; but the doctrine had been so often admitted in discussing the question of Catholic Emancipation, that he must consider it a sound one. The great object of hon. Gentlemen opposite might be, to establish the truth of their principles, for they might depend upon it that a mere vote upon the subject would not put down the demand for a Repeal of the Union in Ireland. From his knowledge of what was going on in Ireland, he could state, that the positive determination which the House seemed to express of putting an extinguisher upon the agitation of the question, would only be the means of promoting it still more. He did not set up for a prophet, but he stated fairly the opinion he had formed from the course the present debate had taken. He admitted, at the same time, that there were difficulties in the way of immediate Repeal; and that was why he thought the hon. and learned member for Dublin had taken the proper course in moving for the appointment of a Committee. Even if the House came to the conclusion that Repeal was necessary, it would be requisite to appoint some Committee or Commission, to arrange such preliminaries as would prevent a collision in the political and commercial relations of the two countries. In this way the difficulties which presented themselves might be easily got over, without diminishing the greatness and prosperity of England. He did not say, that he should agitate this question, 142 but he should give it his support whenever it came before the House. He was not like his hon. and learned friend the member for Dublin, the Colossus of Repeal, but he considered himself, as an auxiliary in the cause, bound to lay before the House, as an Irishman, the feelings and wishes of his countrymen, not for the sake of his seat in Parliament, but from his conviction that the Repeal of the Union would promote the prosperity of Ireland.
§ Mr. Perrin
said, it struck him, on a careful and calm survey of the arguments on the side of the Motion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that it would be impolitic to repeal the Union, and that policy and justice to the Irish people required that the continued system of agitation should be suppressed. It was plain to any one who heard the speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and watched the course of the debate, that Ireland could not obtain her independence but by violence, and that her independence through Repeal meant separation. He (Mr. Perrin) would here conjure his countrymen who allowed themselves to be led away by the seductive cry for Repeal and national independence, to weigh well the consequences of that measure, which was separation; to consider first the true condition of the country, and see whether there were not other and more pressing claims on their legislative solicitude than the abstract phantasy of Repeal. Were there no poor to be sustained? Was there no violence to be arrested—no sedition to be checked? Let them, he conjured them, give up useless agitation, and improve the country. What good did agitation produce? Why, it continued that fever of the public mind that infected the whole country. While agitation lasted, there would rest on the great mass of the community in Ireland a plague-spot and source of contamination that would spread from north to south, from rich to poor, and infect the entire country with the leprosy of disaffection. If separation took place (and Repeal meant separation) who could tell what form of Government would be established, so complex were the materials of which the constituency were composed, so adverse were the separate interests to be engaged in the question, and so conflicting were the professed opinions of the leaders, who seemed to agree in nothing but in separation, however much they might cloak their de- 143 signs under the mask of independence and a separate Legislature? The terrible results those men, well meaning perhaps, but certainly misguided, would produce, would unquestionably be resistance, armed and formidable resistance, on the part of England, with its natural consequences, reconquest, and all its attendant evils, worse than were now complained of, or were indeed felt. They had, first of all, been told by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that the Irish Parliament was incorruptible, that the Union was an usurpation, and that there was neither right nor justice in annihilating the Irish Parliament by the corrupt agency of the English? But who annihilated the Irish Parliament? Was it not that Parliament itself? The hon. Gentleman besides stated, that the Parliament could not create a Legislature. Granted: but if the whole Parliament could not create one Legislature, how could it be maintained that the present Parliament could create two Legislatures? Did the Act of Union rest on the legislative enactment of 1800, or was it not rather based on the concurrence of the people, yielding to and sanctioning its provisions. If there had been an outcry against the Union since its first enactment there might be some reason for questioning its popularity; but when the people for nearly thirty years had acquiesced in the measure without a murmur, and when the present outcry amongst a certain class was factitiously and factiously excited, it was too much to say, that the public will was opposed to the Union. But it was not the people alone that sanctioned the measure. The hon. and learned member for Dublin himself sanctioned it, and so late as 1828, too, when the hon. Member made his first speech in that House to defend his right to sit there as the Representative for Clare. What did he rest his argument on? Why, on the Act of Union! The hon. and learned Member contended, that under the Act of Union, which, be it recollected, he did not then designate as an usurpation—he had a right to sit as the Representative of the people. "He claimed" the hon. and learned Member said, "to sit and vote by virtue of the Act of Union."* The hon. and learned Member then spoke of the Act, as one which, while it bound the two countries in an in-* See Hansard (new series) xxi. p. 1403.144 dissoluble bond of amity, gave equal laws and equal protection to all—gave to every citizen of the State freely elected by the denizens of that State an irrefragable right to take his place in the councils of the nation. It surely could not be maintained, that the constituents of the hon. Member at that time did not recognise the Act of Union, when he himself stood on that Act. He could not see how the boasted independence of the Parliament of 1782 could prevent the compromise of 1800. If the Parliament of that time was so independent, and its independence and identity with the national will and the national interest went progressively on, then surely there could be no grounds for supposing, that it committed a pure act of suicide, and did not rather merge its own functions in those of the Imperial Legislature for the general good. He would rest the whole case on this simple point. Was not the incorporation of the two Parliaments a free act of the Irish Parliament? Did not the people acquiesce in it for nearly thirty years? Did not the Imperial Legislature pass measures, such as Catholic Emancipation, and the Reform Act, that the Irish Parliament would have shrunk from? The petitions from Ireland, in common with other parts of the empire, praying for a full measure of Reform in the representation of the United Kingdom, and the approval given to that measure, sanctioned that Union. The hon. and learned Member had complained, that the voices of the hundred and five Irish Members were not allowed to be heard in that House. Yet how often had that hon. and learned Member boasted, and justly boasted, of the divisions on the Reform Bill, which great measure, he affirmed, and no doubt with much truth, had been carried by the preponderance of the Irish Members? How, then, could those Members be said to have no voice in the Legislature? The passing of the Coercion Bill had been alleged by the hon. and learned Member in support of this position. He (Mr. Sergeant Perrin) had ever protested against that Bill; but still its having passed was no proof that Irish Members were tongue-tied, or powerless in the House. As well might the rejection of the Malt Repeal Bill be adduced as the proof of an allegation, that might be made that English Members had no voice in the Legislature. With reference to the Coercion Bill, as it bore upon 145 the present question, it might be observed, that the precedent of the worst features in that measure had been set by the Irish Parliament. There was no doubt, that the measures adopted to carry the Union were worthy of the severest condemnation; but that was nothing to the present purpose. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Union was injurious to Ireland; but, at the same time, he failed in giving proofs of it. He said, that distress prevailed—that there was a fall of prices. Well, in some things that might be the case; but did it then follow, that because prices fell in some instances, the whole trade of the country must have fallen off on that account? He (Mr. Sergeant Perrin) denied, that there was a reduction—a general reduction, he would say—and that was the best way of putting the case. Partial reduction there might have been in some cases, but isolated instances did not warrant a general accusation or general deductions. Those reductions that the hon. and learned member for Dublin dwelt on resulted from the increased intercourse between the Irish and the British ports. Goods used to be stored in the Irish ports before the Union. It was not so now. In Belfast, Newry, he believed Cork, and other seaport towns, merchandize was not stored, but was at once shipped off. That was the result of the improvement of steam-navigation, not of the Union. Now, with respect to the linen-trade, he would say, that there was a greater trade now, upon the whole, than before the Union. This he believed, and it did not result from the provisions of the Union, but was a consequence of the altered relations of the trade of the two countries. The linen trade expenditure was greater now than before; more was made and exported; but then he would admit, that the whole expenditure scattered among the people was not so great as before. There was thread spun and flax made then by individual labour which was now manufactured by machinery; but, if machinery now usurped the occupation of handlooms, did it follow, that the general prosperity of that trade was deteriorated? The whole country had no cause of complaint. Those were things that the country could not complain of, as they were measures that no legislation could enforce, and no fair man complain of. The Union was not fairly tried; it had never been completed till 1829—till the completion of Catholic 146 Emancipation. And was it not too much to expect a measure of three or four years to be hurried into legislative debate on such a short trial? What, then, was the cause of the agitation of this Union? Why, the tardy concession that Parliament made to the just claims of the Irish people. If Emancipation had been carried at an early period, without much recrimination, the Catholics of Ireland would have been peaceful, and the Protestants quiet. But now did not the Catholics fancy, as they wrested one concession, that they could wring another? Yet every concession should be made to Parliament, for, though its deliberations were slow, its decisions were generally wise. If the tithe question and the Church Establishment were placed on a proper footing,—if the former were settled, and the latter reduced,—there would not be that heart sickness which was now attended with such disastrous disorders in Ireland. He would oppose the original Motion, and support the Amendment, which had for its object the consolidation, the prosperity, the peace, and harmony of the islands. Of that Union he would say, "Esto perpetua."
§ Mr. Finn
said, that he felt called upon to reply to the very extraordinary speech of the learned Sergeant who had just sat down. The learned Sergeant had said, that if the Irish Parliament was not competent to enact the Union, as a consequence, the Imperial Parliament was not competent to dissolve the Union; but even the hon. and learned Member himself did not attempt to deny or palliate the detestable means by which that Union had been effected. It was fashionable to talk of the corruption of the Irish Parliament; but it was not the Parliament of Ireland alone that was corrupt. Did not the House know, that every means were resorted to to corrupt that Parliament, and then would they say, that no share of guilt or shame attached to those who administered the corruption? Corruption was clothed in every shape and form; and after this—after every means had been resorted to to debauch the Irish Parliament—were they indeed to be told that that Parliament alone was guilty and corrupt? It was English Ministers and English men that carried the Union. The Irish Parliament should not bear the entire blame. It had been seduced treacherously anti guiltily into the sur- 147 render of its independence; and would the House or the country reserve all its concentrated opprobrium to be turned upon the victim of the seduction, and pass the seducer in silence, or reward him with approbation? That Union had been effected by fraud; and it was an historical fact, that had there not been English officers sitting in that Parliament, even fraud would have failed, and the Union never would have been effected without force. But surely the hon. and learned Sergeant, who seemed to vaunt himself so much upon the irrefragable strength of his argument, would not attempt to deny, that if the Irish and the English Parliaments were competent to enact the Union, they were also competent to repeal the Act of Union. He trusted, that the hon. member for Monaghan (Mr. Perrin) would not support any attempt that might be made to put down the free discussion of this question—he trusted, that he would not sanction any measure that might be brought forward to suffocate the free voice of Ireland. He did not attempt to say, that the opinions of the member for Monaghan might not be sincere; but he claimed for himself the same credit for sincerity, and he must say, that his opinions on this question were inflexible and unchangeable. There were seven millions of men in Ireland who thought with him. Those who thought that they could put down the discussion of this question were most lamentably deceived. As long as he and the constituents who sent him there, were convinced that the present misfortunes of Ireland flowed from the Union he and they would never cease to struggle for the Repeal of that Union. He did not say, that they would use other than constitutional means. It was, perhaps, attractive in that House to use minacious language, particularly when it proceeded from the benches opposite. He would not say, that he would press the question to the death, but he did not despair that the Irish people would be able, by constitutional means, to succeed in restoring to their country the plundered dignity of a domestic Legislature. The Coercion Bill had been passed for the purpose of putting down the discussion of the Repeal of the Union; but had it succeeded? They had their answer in the petitions which had been presented to that House, and in the very debate that was now proceeding. 148 They had an admirable epitome of the dominant British spirit that arrayed itself against this question, exhibited in the very able speech of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth. The spirit of that speech was, "No matter if you furnish ten times the number of facts to show that the Union has desolated Ireland. That is not the question. So long as that Union is advantageous to England, continue it must.Volo, sic jubeo, stet pro ratione voluntas.The right hon. Baronet did not disguise the matter, but if he (Mr. Finn) spoke his sentiments as a true Briton, he would not shrink from speaking the sentiments of a true Irishman; and his answer was, "I feel as proud of my country as you do of yours—I love my country (endeared more even by her misfortunes), with the same attachment that you entertain for yours. I take the evidence of my senses. I see from the occurrences that are taking place before my eyes, that the Union has been mischievous and injurious to Ireland. There I take my stand; and you never shall prevent me from seeking the dissolution of that Union, the continuance of which I consider injurious to my country." This was the answer which he would give to the speech of the right hon. Baronet. Where, in Ireland, did he not see the consequences of that measure traced out in the ruin of the country? Let them look to Dublin—to the county of Carlow—to the county of Kilkenny—in fact, there was scarce a part of Ireland that did not supply evidence of the disastrous consequences of that fatal measure. It could not be denied, that the Union had inflicted great misery on the mass of the people of Ireland, not withstanding the statistical statements of the right hon. Secretary to the Treasury. He could well understand how an Irishman of large fortune and great ambition might enter this House, and, feeling, that his large and vigorous talent should not, nor ought to be confined to the limited sphere of the island that gave him birth, might seek a wider and a loftier sphere of action, and to show how superior he was to the ignobleness of paltry national and vulgar prejudices, might wish to get rid of the unfashionable name of Irishman, and assume the more dignified title of West Briton. He did not doubt but it was a prudent course. If Wellington had confined himself to Ireland, he never 149 would have been a duke; if Castlereagh had confined himself to Ireland, he never would have reached the height of power and influence which he had attained in this country. No doubt the right hon. "West Briton" was preparing to fill some higher office; and when, in the fulness of time, it should happen that the noble Lord opposite was removed from his seat in that House, no doubt they should see the right hon. "West Briton" filling—that dignified station in which he could so well exercise his financial talents as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was not ambitious to assume any other title than that in which he gloried, namely, that of an Irishman who loved his country. He felt no greater honour than to be merus Hibernicus, performing his duty to the poor people who sent him there, and struggling, however ineffectually, for the rights of his native country. To that country he had contracted allegiance at his birth, and that allegiance he never would lay down but with his life. He was well aware, that hon. Gentlemen might hold cheap the taste of any man who had the vulgarity to boast himself an Irishman. But Ireland was his country, and he was proud of it. He claimed no share in the Duke of Wellington, for since he rose to fame and eminence, he had never visited his native land; and he cared little for the fame or eminence of any man who was ashamed of the country that gave him birth. The Duke of Wellington had lost the estimation of his countrymen, because he had not taken his title from Ireland. An hon. Member had stated, that the Irish Members had as much influence in that House as any other Members; but the fact was, that Irish Members had never the least influence in that House, unless when they took part on English questions. When they united on the Grand Jury Bill, they proved how little, indeed, they had been able to accomplish. Indeed, upon the Reform Bill their voices had influence; and it was a majority of Irish Members who carried that measure. They had talked of the people of Ireland as a priest-ridden people; but did they forget the services of the Irish Catholic peasant in every battle that was fought for the honour and security of the Crown of Great Britain? The blood and treasure of Ireland had been liberally poured out for the service of England, and the reward 150 of all was, to be told, that the people of Ireland were a priest-ridden people. The hon. member for Monaghan had said, that he would vote against the Motion of the hon. member for Dublin, and, of course, in support of the Resolution of the right hon. Secretary. But, at the same time, he insisted, that much should be done for Ireland—that many evils remained to be remedied, and that, until the proper remedy were applied, Ireland would not be content; but it did not occur to that hon. Member to consider, that the first part of the Resolution the hon. Member meant to support declared, that the Union should be permanent, and that the second part of it implied, that enough had been already done for Ireland. The first Resolution said of the Union, esto perpetua. As to the advantages which the Union had conferred on Ireland, he would say credat Judœus Apella. At the last election he had not given any pledge upon Repeal. The people did not require it of him, for they knew, that he was an apostle of the cause, and, instead of being converted, he had himself converted many. He knew that many men had got into Parliament at the last election by convenient pledges. He was aware, that many even found their way into that House by extravagant professions, which the people expected they would perform. For his part he would say, that if the suppression of any honest opinion which he entertained, or the affectation of any sentiment which he did not feel, could gain him a seat, not merely there, but in a higher place, he would spurn the situation, and cling to his honest and virtuous conviction. Those who knew him would give him credit for that feeling. Those who knew him by character would equally do so. For he believed neither friend nor foe would deny that such was his disposition. His constituents, as he had already said, knew him too well to require any pledge, but he would not cease to advocate that great measure as the sine qua non for the relief of the evils which affected Ireland. What had been done for Ireland? It had received a Tithe Bill; but was that a measure of relief? Why, it was worse than any one measure ever introduced by any Tory government. It would increase the tithes in every case where it should be applied; and this was the panacea for the evils of Ireland! This Bill was calculated to embitter the 151 relationships existing between landlord and tenant. It transferred the debt of the tenant to the landlord. He considered the tithes one of the greatest evils that afflicted Ireland, and he did not see any chance of effectual relief for the people. He did not see any disposition to afford the people the least redress of this most afflicting grievance. It was necessary that the Church should be kept up for the sake of its patronage. Many a private tutor to the son of a nobleman had been promoted to an Irish bishopric. They had seven Englishmen bishops in Ireland, with a revenue of 50,000l. a year. He was not aware, that there was any Irishman filling a bishopric in this country. Let them not deceive themselves; the people of Ireland would be awakened to their own interests, and see the prudence of combining for the common good of their country. What he complained of as respected his countrymen was, that their jealousies kept them asunder. They had too easily yielded to the policy which England had successfully practised in Ireland. Divide et impera was the principle that weakened and kept down Ireland. He might be told, that there was danger in using this language, as it was the interest of the Government to keep them asunder; but he knew this was the language of Irishmen and the language of Christians. It was the consistent principle of the Government to keep Protestant and Catholic separated; and he firmly believed, that if the Catholics had the ascendant in Ireland, they would still endeavour to foment divisions between them and the Protestants, as they knew, that in the weakness of Ireland lay the strength of British dominion in that country. It had been said, that a corporation had no conscience; he believed he might equally say, that a Government had no religion. Had they not, at one time, heard of the Marquess Wellesley, at Cadiz, drinking the Pope's health, whilst the Catholics at home were suffering persecution and oppression? Ireland was one of the most fertile countries on the globe, and yet one of the most wretched; and how did they account for this? It was, in his opinion, the want of self-government. It was proved, that under domestic government, Ireland had rapidly improved from 1782. Was it not the fact, that since the Union Ireland had as rapidly declined? The hon. Gen- 152 tleman (Mr. Spring Rice) had read long statements of figures to show, that Ireland had increased in prosperity since the Union; but the hon. Gentleman had carefully omitted from his statement any allusion to a Report drawn up by an Irishman, in which the decay of Dublin in particular had been dwelt upon. In that Report it was shown, that vast numbers of houses in Dublin were unoccupied, though the population had increased several thousands in the period to which the Report referred—that was from 1813 to 1820. In that period it was, that one-fourth of the householders of Dublin were insolvent. This account was, no doubt, very inconsistent with the statement of the hon. Gentleman the other evening; but would the House believe, that he was the author of both? The discrepancy between the two statements would be accounted for, perhaps, by the fact, that the former was made when the hon. Member was a mere Irishman, who admitted, that there was music in the tune of "Garryowen," but who had since, in his improved taste, seen reason to prefer the tune of "Oh the roast beef of Old England." The right hon. Gentleman had made many of his statements on anonymous authority. It was in this way that they passed the Coercion Bill. They had plenty of anonymous authority, but they refused to give up their informants. On the occasion of the Coercion Bill, the only authority they named, was that of a Catholic Baronet; now, when the right hon. Gentleman was asked to name his informant, he refused, with the exception of Dr. Doyle. They uniformly named the Catholics without hesitation, and exposed them to all consequences, but the names of their Protestant informants they cautiously concealed. Not one in fifty English Members in that House knew half so much about Irish affairs, as the majority of Irishmen did about those of England; yet the Irishmen took very little share in the discussion of matters relating to England alone, while the great mass of English Members voted on and decided all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland. Reverting again to the question of tithes, he observed, that the people of Ireland had been deluded on that subject by the present Government. The general impression in Ireland—and it was sanctioned by the speeches of those who were supposed 153 to speak the sentiments of the government was—that tithes would be abolished altogether. In the county which returned him, meetings of from 20,000 to 100,000 persons had been suffered to take place; and they had it on the evidence of their own stipendiary magistrates, that the general impression on the part of the people was, that it was the wish of the Government, that such exhibitions should take place in order that they should have an opportunity to get rid of the tithes altogether. This impression was strengthened by the speeches delivered from the hustings by those who were supposed to be in the confidence, and to speak the sentiments of Government, and who held out the most flattering expectations to the people of all that the Government intended to do for them. This led the people of Ireland to entertain a confident hope, that tithes would be abolished; but how had that hope been realised? By a Bill which would, as he had said, have the effect of increasing their pressure. Why, the Tories were much better as a Government to the Irish nation. Whatever little they promised they performed. They did not hold out false hopes, and then deceive those who trusted them. He would assert with confidence that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman would lay the foundation of more petitions for Repeal than anything which had been said or done in that House for years; and for this reason: that it would be seen that the whole was founded on mis-statement. The right hon. Gentleman might have his triumph in that House, but the people of Ireland would have their triumph elsewhere. The Secretary for the Treasury had his day now, but the people of Ireland would have their day. It would be a day of the triumph of united and peaceful exertion. They were at present a divided people, but the time would come when Irishmen of all ranks and classes would be united on this great question. Let them not rely too strongly upon Ireland weak in her divisions—the day would come when she would be strong in her Union. That great and extraordinary man, of whom Sheridan had said in this House, that "Kings were his sentinels and kingdoms his Martello towers," had been prophetically told that Spain, which had been the theatre of his atrocities and his cruelties, would one day become the tomb of his greatness and the grave of his 154 glory. He implored the Government of England and that House, to learn wisdom from experience and to treat the Irish with kindness and with justice. If they persevered in their present system—if they thought to crush that country beneath their feet—if they stifled the voice of Ireland, not by justice but by coercion—if they continued an Union which inflicted wretchedness and injury on one country, whilst its benefits to the other were doubtful—if, in fine, they did not alter their system towards Ireland, he would tell them, and his words would be fulfilled, "That Ireland, which had for centuries been the scene of their mis-government and their oppression, would, one day or another, be the grave of their power and greatness."
§ Mr. Denis O'Connor
assured hon. Members that it was always with unaffected reluctance he trespassed on their attention, and the unwillingness which he at all times felt to obtrude his observations upon them was anything but lessened on the present occasion, by knowing that the opinions which he entertained upon the subject then before the House were not in unison with those of the majority of its Members. Be these, his opinions, right or be they wrong, he was conscious of his own sincerity in adopting them. He was not obliged to assume them, to decoy support to carry an election. They who favoured him with their suffrages gave them unconditionally. But, on the other hand, some, whose support he should be most anxious to receive, declined to give it to him from a knowledge of his opinions on this question. They were to him, in an electioneering point of view, rather a disadvantage than a service; as the only contest he had to apprehend was from an anti-Reform candidate, and the Repeal Question had a tendency, in some slight degree, to divide the liberal interests in the county which he had the honour to represent. Upon that, however, and upon every other question, he came into that House unbound, unfettered, and unpledged—the freely-elected Representative of an independent, intelligent, and confiding constituency—his opinions were his own, and he would not shrink from their avowal. From the earliest period to which his political recollections could revert, he always contemplated the Union as having interposed a fatal barrier to the improvement of Ireland. It might be, that he formed this opinion of it from dwelling on the 155 wrongs inflicted on that country during the sad period of England's uncontrolled dominion over it, and that knowing, to use the words of her ablest statesmen, that she ever made the interests of Ireland subservient to her own, he distrusted a legislative partnership with a nation that appeared at least to be too selfish to be just from principle, and was certainly too powerful to be so through compulsion. It might be, that he was struck with admiration at the unparalleled advance in prosperity, which he would maintain Ireland had achieved instantly upon having vindicated her national independence, and that he presumed, were that independence continued or restored, the improvement that had so happily commenced might be brought to a fortunate consummation. It might be, that contemplating with horror and disgust the means by which the Union was brought about, he looked with aversion at a measure that was accomplished by means of such unjustifiable policy, and that he felt predisposed to believe, that as it was generated in crime, it could be productive only of misery. Perhaps, too, he was strongly influenced by those effusions of eloquence of the best and the ablest of men and of politicians against the Union, from whose speeches so many extracts had already been read. He gave credence to their doctrines—he subscribed to their belief—and he could not become an apostate from their faith, even though they renounced it themselves. On each of these points he might be disposed to make some observations, but the lengthened details into which other hon. Members who had preceded him had entered, anticipated all, and much more than all, he could say upon the subject. He might be allowed, however, to observe, that it ought not to seem unnatural or improper for Irishmen to desire, that their country might be restored to something of that position in which every man distinguished for patriotism, or pre-eminent for public virtue, wished her to continue. Were Ireland still in the enjoyment of her domestic Legislature, the man would be stigmatised as a traitor who would barter it for gold, as his predecessors had done. And was it just, then, to denounce those as deserving the indignation of their King, and the censure of this House, who entertained a wish to see their country in the enjoyment of that which it was considered criminal to have abandoned, and was so considered 156 by our present Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and by our present Prime Minister. He would not detain the House by reading long extracts, or making long quotations, but with their permission he would read the petition of the gentry and landholders of the county which he had the honour to represent, addressed by them to the Irish Parliament when the Union was under discussion in that House. It was this:—"His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the gentry and landholders of the county bf Roscommon, having heard with inexpressible concern that it is in agitation to surrender the liberties and the Constitution of Ireland to the control of a foreign legislature, by an incorporate Union with Great Britain, entreat the House to reject so odious a measure; and they trust that a Constitution, in defence of which they have so lately hazarded their lives and properties, and under which their country has within a few years risen to such a state of wealth and prosperity, will not be subverted by the House which has been delegated by the people, not to surrender or destroy, but to preserve and protect it as left them by their ancestors, and finally established in 1782." In the sentiments of that petition he cordially concurred; he questioned the legality or validity of the transaction. If an agent were to lease away property having received a large fine for the conveyance, would not the bargain be null and void? The Catholic people were in duress and cajolled by deceptive promises, the Protestant trustees of the Irish Legislature were bribed to convey away their trust; the transfer was not good in law. Yet he would not touch upon that point if it could be shown, that it was for the advantage of both countries. He feared that no such thing could be shown, at least it could not be proved that the measure had conduced to the prosperity of Ireland. Let hon. Members leave calculations which involved so much of uncertainty, let them look at the actual condition of Ireland; let them measure its prosperity by contrasting it with that of England. Look at England, the emporium of wealth, with improvement and comfort and abundance diffused over its whole surface. Look at Ireland, uncultivated, beggarly, and wretched. What was the reason of this—was not Ireland blessed with as genial a climate, was she not favoured with much more natural fertility 157 of soil, were not her inhabitants equal to those of England, in every mental and physical endowment? yet with all these advantages, how did it happen that she fared badly, while every other part of the empire prospered? Did that show, that she had improved by the Union; did she, he would ask, really appear to be an integral portion of the empire to which she belonged? He wished not, at that late stage of the debate, to occupy the time of the House, but he could not refrain from observing that if he for one moment anticipated those disastrous results from a Repeal of the Union which its opponents predicted, he should instantly unite with them in giving it every possible obstruction. He could not, however, see any good reason to apprehend them. In every vicissitude, and at all times, the Irish people evinced the most devoted loyalty to their Sovereign. In fidelity to his present Majesty they yielded to no class of his subjects. In their devotion to his Majesty he most deeply participated. Could the Repeal of the Union be justly interpreted at a renunciation of his Majesty's authority, he would shrink from it with horror. Could he be convinced that it would lead to a separation from England, his most fervent protest should be entered against it. Had the two countries never enjoyed separate domestic Legislatures, he might attach some weight to the assertion that Repeal and separation were synonymous; but all that he wished was, to place Ireland in a position in which the firmness of her loyalty had been already proved, and the stability of her connexion with England admitted. It was true, that in the retrospect of that period, some found reason to question the stability of the connexion with England, if the Union had not been carried. The free trade that was enforced, the regency question that was discussed, had been adduced to prove that Ireland could not legislate separately, without endangering the connexion between the two countries. But he would call on the House to remember, that it was after the regency question had been settled; after all these dangerous trials had been surmounted, when all the arguments adduced in the present debate had the strength and the freshness of recent delivery in them, that the ablest statesmen of the day maintained that not only was a separate Legislature consistent with loyalty to the King of England; not only was it con- 158 sistent with the connexion with England, but that they asserted that the Union would militate against both. The same authorities asserted the rapid stride in improvement which Ireland made under her independent Legislature. What they then stated were facts that might at the moment have been easily verified. What was now asserted was founded on calculations that might involve errors difficult to discover at once. He could not sit down without adverting to some observations that fell from the hon. member for Belfast, in impugning the conduct of the Roman Catholic Members of Ireland. His hon. friend, the member for Tipperary, stated that these observations sunk deep into the heart of every Roman Catholic in that House. As one, he would say, that the only sentiment they excited in his mind was pity for the little judgment and bad taste of the hon. Member, in impugning the motives of men who were not his inferiors in political honesty, or political judgment; and, thanks to British justice, were his equals in that House. He would not follow that example; on the contrary, he wished that the debate had been conducted without reference to personal motives or views. He would support the Motion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin for inquiry, but even if he could not support that Motion, he felt he should oppose the Amendment of the right hon. member for Cambridge, because it appeared to pronounce a panegyric upon England for her conduct towards Ireland; in the justice of which he could not acquiesce. Hon. Members should remember that during the discussions on the Reform Bill, when the Irish Members demanded a greater number of Representatives for Ireland, their claim was rejected, and the grounds of the refusal Were stated to be that she was too poor to be entitled to them—that she had no increase of trade, no new towns, no additional prosperity, to justify any enlargement of her representation. Thus she was at that time taunted with her poverty—now she was taunted with her wealth when she sought to remedy that poverty.
§ Sir Robert Bateson
could assure the House that he should trouble them but for a very short period, and he should not have risen at all, but when he heard so much of the Irish people—when he heard, that the whole of Ireland were of one mind on this momentous question, he felt 159 it his duty to set the House right upon the subject. In one part of Ireland—namely, in Ulster, the intelligence, wealth, and respectability of the county were decidedly opposed to it. That, he asserted, was a matter of fact which could not be contradicted. Hon. Members at that side of the House had stated, that they looked forward to the time when the measure should receive the support of the 105 members serving for Ireland, as, in that event, it must be certain of success. He (Sir Robert Bateson) thought they might look in vain, for such a circumstance never could take place. At that period of the debate it must be the height of presumption in him, particularly after the splendid speech of the right hon. bart. (Sir Robert Peel), to adduce any new argument; he should, therefore, merely confine himself to a brief statement of facts. In the whole province of Ulster he knew but one avowed repealer, Mr. Sharman Crawford. He admitted, that latterly, however, the question had made some way with the lower orders. Three years ago he stated, that ninety-nine out of every 100 persons in the north were decidedly against Repeal. He was sorry to say, that that was not the case at present, for within the last year or two many felt dissatisfied and discontented with the measures of Government. The measures of Government were, in fact, most unsatisfactory to the people of Ireland generally. In the south the people were discontented, and cried out for Repeal. In the north the people were peaceable, industrious, and loyal. The whole of the north of Ireland cost the country but three regiments of infantry; and what thanks did the inhabitants get for being peaceable and loyal? They saw the magistrates whom they respected and loved dismissed, without any cause being assigned, or in fact without any trial. They saw the Yeomanry, who had been the defence and protection of Ireland in the worst of times, calumniated and disgraced. These circumstances tended to alienate a portion of the people; but he believed the great mass of the population of Ulster were stedfastly opposed to Repeal, because they conceived it could not be carried without causing a separation from England, and could not be effected without a bloody and religious war. He, therefore, hoped, after this long debate, if there should be, as he trusted there would, an overwhelm- 160 ing majority against the Motion, that Gentlemen would cease this useless, this mischievous system of agitation. If Gentlemen would but promote peace and concord at home, trade would flourish, and happiness be restored to Ireland. Why was it that trade flourished in the north of Ireland, while it languished in the south? It was because peace and tranquillity reigned in the north. If, as the fact was, the south of Ireland was blest with a finer climate and a richer soil, why, it might be asked, was it not as prosperous as the north? It was solely owing to the system of turbulence and intimidation which existed there, caused, as he had no doubt these circumstances were, by mischievous agitation. He implored his Majesty's Government to encourage the trade and commerce of Ireland, and they would then gain the hearts and good wishes of the people of that country. He would conclude by saying, that he should cordially support the Amendment.
said, it appeared to him that if the Imperial Parliament were, at the instance of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and those who supported him, to concur in a Repeal of the Union, or any measure for the establishment of separate Legislatures, it would be one of the grossest breaches of national faith and probity that ever was committed. He begged particularly to call the attention of English Members to this point:—they had been intrusted by Ireland (when she gave up her own Parliament), to legislate for her on certain terms. One of these was,—that we should be for ever represented in one and the same Imperial Parliament. The hon. member for Roscommon (Mr. D. O'Connor) said, that the Legislature which passed the Union had committed a breach of trust; but, if so, how much greater would be the breach of trust committed by the Imperial Legislature, were they to accede to the present motion, in opposition to the express terms which were stipulated for at the passing of the Union. Let the House look to the importance of this. At that time all the great interests of the country were to be provided for,—the landed proprietors, the Protestants, the Roman Catholics, the Church. The great question was then depending of the Roman Catholic claims; they obtained, by the transfer of the legislative power to an Imperial Parliament, the prospect of political power; but, on 161 the other hand, the Protestants looked to that measure for the security of property, the safety of the Protestant religion, and their Church Establishment, and of all those institutions by which a system of rational liberty was secured under the British Constitution. The object of the present motion was, to deprive Ireland of that protection for which she had stipulated,—to do away with that United Legislature from which she had looked for this protection, and the preservation and maintenance of which was one of the fundamental articles upon which an Imperial Parliament was intrusted to legislate for her. The Roman Catholics had obtained all they were led to expect from the Union; and if, after the Relief Bill had been passed, this House were to turn round and Repeal the Union, they would be guilty of a gross breach of trust,—acting in direct contravention of two of the great fundamental articles of the Union, one of which guaranteed the continuance of a United Legislature,—the other, the perpetual continuance and preservation of the Established Church and the Protestant religion. Now, one of the very grounds upon which it was sought to Repeal the Union was, the existence of that Church in Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Tipperary, had stated, that the same measure of justice had not been meted out to Ireland, at the passing of the Union, that had been dealt out to Scotland when that country became incorporated with England inasmuch as the religion of the majority was not made the established religion in Ireland. That was quite true;—but, then, the hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to have forgotten, that, at both Unions, the maintenance of the then established religions in each country was stipulated for. In Scotland, the Presbyterian religion was, at the time of the Union, the established religion of the country, and its maintenance was guaranteed; while, in Ireland, the Protestant religion was the established religion, and its maintenance was equally secured. It was not, therefore, to be laid at the door of the Union, that the religion of the majority was not the established religion of Ireland. The Protestant religion was made the established religion by a Roman Catholic Parliament,—the same Parliament which, in the reign of Henry 8th, enacted, that whoever should be King of 162 England de facto should be King of Ireland de jure. That Parliament adopted the Protestant religion as the established religion of the State, and it was acquiesced in and confirmed by every succeeding Parliament,—even by those in which Roman Catholics sat, until their exclusion; and this was confirmed and solemnly ratified for ever at the Union, by a Parliament, returned not only by Protestants, but by the Roman Catholic 40s. freeholders. Did it require the assent of the numerical majority of the people to give validity to an Act of Parliament? Was the Protestant religion to be deemed less the established religion, because a majority of the lower orders had not adopted it? If so, what was to become of the title of the great advocates of this measure to sit in that House, for, no doubt, the Relief Bill had been passed against the sense of the great numerical majority of the people of England. He was satisfied, that if, at the passing of the Relief Bill, it was supposed that it would have led to any such demands as that now under consideration, those who mainly assisted in carrying it never would have put their hands to the work. Those who came forward at that period as suppliants never hinted, that they asked for political power as a means of repealing the Union, and subverting the established religion of the country; and sure he was, that, if any such intimation had been given, that measure never would have passed. Every Roman Catholic who came forward as a witness in favour of that measure, held out the contrary; every Roman Catholic member who came into that House under the Relief Bill, came into it bound by the strongest possible obligation not to subvert the Protestant establishment in Ireland. He was satisfied, therefore, that there was not any just foundation for calling upon the Imperial Legislature to repeal the Union, followed as it must necessarily be (indeed it was openly avowed) by the subversion of the Established Church. When, in addition to this, it was recollected, that the measure now demanded was called for only by a portion of the people of Ireland; when it was recollected, that it was urged forward against the consent and concurrence of the property, intelligence, and education of the country, and against the wish of the great body of the Protestant population; when, he repeated, it was called for 163 against the opinion of the moral weight and influence of the country,—he felt assured, that the Legislature would not, by granting the Motion, violate the trust reposed in them. The object of the present Motion was, not to send the question for inquiry, it was, in fact, a mere cloak for Repeal. It was said, by an hon. Member, that if all the Irish Members concurred in the necessity of a Repeal of the Union, it would be impossible to resist it. He (Mr. Lefroy) admitted, that that might be a case of difficulty; but of this he was certain, that no difficulty presented itself where not half,—nay, as perhaps it might turn out, not one-third of the Irish members were favourably disposed towards it; the more particularly, as the advocates of Repeal were sent into Parliament, not to discuss the question, but to vote for it. They were sent into that House as retained advocates, and held their seats by that tenure, with, he believed, the single exception of the hon. member for Roscommon, who disclaimed having given a pledge. At least, the supporters of Repeal, before they quitted the hustings, had committed themselves, and were now debarred from the free exercise of their opinions upon the subject. He would call the attention of the House, and the attention of the Government, to the true state of the question, and the position in which it now stood in Ireland. It had been sometimes insinuated, that there were eight millions of persons in Ireland favourably disposed towards it. He (Mr. Lefroy) did not give credit to any such statement. He did conceive, however, that he should be misleading the House were he not to admit, that a very considerable proportion of the Roman Catholic population were heartily devoted to the question. He admitted, that the great numerical majority was in favour of Repeal; and he believed, that the Roman Catholic priesthood were decided Repeaters. On the other hand, there was arrayed the great bulk of the property of Ireland,—the great mass of the gentry, the education, and the learning of the country. There was, besides, the whole of the clergy, and, as yet—he repeated it, as yet,—the great bulk of the Protestant population; and whilst things remained in that state, there was no danger of Repeal. But if that state of things gave place to another,—if the advocates of Repeal could gain over the Protestants of 164 Ireland to give them their support,—if the game now playing to effect that object should succeed, then a Repeal of the Union, or a civil war, must be inevitable. He did not state this with a view of exciting vain terror in the breast of any person; he merely urged it with a view of showing the necessity that existed of pursuing a temperate and judicious system of government in Ireland. He did not wish, at that time, to advert to any mistake that might have been made; but he would warn the Ministers, and entreat them to look to the subject, and avoid needlessly hurting the feelings, or wounding the prejudices, of men who were willing, at the expense of their lives, if necessary, to uphold British connexion. The Protestants of Ireland were the descendants of British settlers; and they had never forgotten their allegiance to their Monarch, or their dutiful attachment to the mother country. He would again warn his Majesty's Government to avoid all needlessly harsh treatment of them. He desired no partiality or favour for the Protestants of Ireland. He only desired what, in gratitude and justice, they were entitled to; but he must say, that, hitherto, they had been dealt with in a manner calculated to lead to the result adverted to by the hon. Baronet who preceded him; but, unquestionably, from all he (Mr. Lefroy) could learn, he feared that, if that course were persevered in, it would lead to the most mischievous result of throwing the Protestants of Ireland into the arms of the Repealers. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by stating, that he should support the Amendment, and give his decided opposition to the original Motion.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, that the hon. and learned member for Dublin, in the course of the very long speech which he had made, had consumed many hours in establishing certain propositions, which he, for one, had never been inclined to oppose. That Ireland had never been rightly subjected to England,—that she had been gained by a system of cruelty and oppression which had been scarcely ever paralleled, might be argued; but these were not topics which bad reference to the question before the House. It mattered not to him how we had obtained dominion in Ireland; and it was sufficiently affirmed, that Ireland had been treated by this country as an independent nation when the Union was effected. But the 165 hon. and learned member for Dublin went further than this, and here he separated himself from him. His hon. and learned friend contended, that it was an established principle, that the Legislature of no country could create a Legislature; and that, although it might make, it could not confer on others the power of making laws. The hon. and learned Member mentioned the names of several eminent Irish lawyers as authorities on his side of the question, and also quoted the authority of Locke, to show, that a Legislature could not make a Legislature. The authority of Mr. Locke was considerable, and his general reasoning and his theory were to the effect mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman; but, in practice, what was the doctrine resulting from the Revolution of 1688, of which Mr. Locke was the able and zealous defender? It was, that the two Houses of Parliament could, of their own authority, make a change in the highest branch of the Legislature, by deposing one King and putting another on the Throne. By naming another King they did not confine themselves to the making of laws, but gave to another party the power of legislating. That case was infinitely stronger than the Union. With regard to the opinions of the Irish lawyers, they spoke more as partisans than as lawyers. He doubted very much, whether any of the authorities referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman would, in the exercise of their profession, if a case had been laid before them,—or would, if they had been sitting on the Bench,—have laid down the positions which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to. But, supposing those opinions to have been sincere and well-considered on the part of those learned persons, did it follow, that they would now have been for the Repeal of the Treaty of Union, which they had so opposed at the time it was made? Was there really and necessarily any inconsistency in those who thought, at the time, that the Union ought not to have taken place; and who now thought, after it had taken place, that it ought not, after such a lapse of time and change of circumstances, to be disturbed. To what an extent might the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman be carried. If the Act of Union were null and void by reason of the incompetency of those who made it, everything done under it must be null and void. 166 Was any one prepared to say, that everything done under the Union with Scotland (for that must be governed by the same principle) was null and void? He should be alarmed at the idea, that his country might thus be deprived of all the blessings and advantages which had been conferred upon her by the Union with England. In his opinion, the Legislature of every country—particularly a representative Legislature—had a right to do for the people, whatever the people, if they were assembled together, could do for themselves. But, certainly, if ever there were a compact which ought to be binding, it was a Treaty of Union; and between two nations, one of which was less powerful than the other, if either of them could be supposed to be interested in the permanence of the Union, it was the weaker party. For instance, it was said, that either party showing sufficient grievance, could demand the dissolution of the Union. But who was to be judge of the sufficiency of the grievance? Suppose that, instead of the Union being complained of by Ireland as injurious to her interests, it had been complained of by England as opposed to her own. Why, by a vote of this and the other House of Parliament, the great majority of both being composed of Englishmen, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman's doctrine, the articles of Union might have been at once overturned. The great security—he meant Scotland and Ireland—the less powerful nations had, was the solemn declaration contained in the respective Treaties, that the Union should be permanent; and that the weaker power should not be at the mercy of the stronger, to annul it whenever the stronger pleased. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the Union had been brought about by a system of bribery, corruption, and blood. He admitted, that bribery and corruption had been used; but he denied, that the Union was accomplished by bloodshed, and by exciting rebellion; bribery had existed, but not a civil war. At the time of the Union of Scotland, too, bribery was notorious, for it appeared by a list, which was yet extant, of the bribes given to the nobility, that sums, varying from, 1,100l. (the amount given to the Earl of Marchmont) to 11l. 5s., were given. Carstairs, an old historian, affirmed, that Lord Banff, who had previously been a Papist, was con- 167 verted to Protestantism by a small bribe, with a view to secure his interest. If he (Mr. Fergusson) had lived when that Union took place, be would have opposed it, ay, even with his life; but he must now say, that many benefits had been derived by his country from the Union with England, and many benefits had been derived by Ireland. He did not mean to say, that all the good had been done for Ireland that might have been done; but Ireland had not placed herself in a condition to receive from this country the benefits intended for it. One great fault committed by the Government of England was the delay of the great, healing, and necessary measure,—Catholic Emancipation. That measure had been forced on the Government; it was not an act of grace, but was the effect of fear. That had been a great fault. If, a short time after the Union, Catholic Emancipation had been conceded, all agitation would have been anticipated and prevented. But what was the condition of Ireland now? There was, and had been, in that House an inclination to listen willingly to the claims of Ireland, and an anxiety to do all that was possible to promote her interests and to establish her liberties. Reviewing the whole course of the present discussion, he could not but complain of the imputations attempted to be cast upon the Imperial Parliament, on the ground that it was insensible to the wants of Ireland, and regardless of her interests. He could refer with confidence to the whole course of British legislation in support of the assertion, which he unhesitatingly made, that England, since the Union, had ever consulted the interests and the feelings of the Irish people, and had devoted much labour, and more than a due proportion of time, to the affairs and condition of Ireland. The history of that country, in connection with what was called Catholic Emancipation, could not but be fresh in the recollection of hon. Members. They could not but recollect that, during the whole of the discussions on that question, and in every proceeding connected with it, they were told, that the passing of the Act which removed Catholic disabilities would make the British empire to consist of one united people. That indisputably was the representation made, and upon that representation Members of Parliament acted, in giving their consent to a measure which was passed without 168 the slightest intimation being given, that there existed the most remote idea of following up the acquirement of that 'vantage ground with a proposition for what he did not scruple to describe as tantamount to a dismemberment of the empire. Looked upon as a plan for cementing and perpetuating the general bond which kept together the people of the United Kingdom, the measure of Emancipation was agreed to by both Houses, and received the assent of the Crown; but what were they, then, after so short an interval, to say to a proposition for dissolving that Union, which they had made such large sacrifices to preserve? and with what a bad grace did such a proposition come, after thirty-three years of acquiescence! It was well known, that, during the whole of that period, there was not a breath sent forth respecting that dissolution of the Union, which they were now told the people of Ireland had been all along most earnestly desiring. But now that those healing measures had been gained, the hon. and learned Gentleman, and those who acted with him, desired to dissolve the connexion, and to govern themselves. Was it to be supposed, however, that Ireland could govern herself, and continue her connexion with Great Britain? The question was, whether two independent Legislatures could permanently exist under the same Sovereign. The history of Scotland taught important lessons on this subject. There was so strong an analogy between the case of Scotland and that of Ireland, that it was scarcely possible to see the smallest difference between them. The effects which must have resulted to Scotland at the time of the Union, if the Treaty of Union had not been concluded, were precisely those which would inevitably result to Ireland if the Motion of the hon. and learned Member should succeed, and consequently a dissolution of the Union would take place. If Gentlemen would refer to the history of those times, they would find, that when the law passed in this country which secured the succession of the House of Hanover to the Throne of England, an attempt was made to introduce the same law into Scotland. The time was one of great peril. Engaged in foreign war, and vexed with domestic broils, the country was menaced with a disputed succession to the Throne. It was, of course, an object of 169 the highest importance to have the succession which was agreed to in England, adopted by the Scottish Parliament; but that Parliament, thinking that the time was favourable to insist on additional security for the exercise of their independence, passed certain Acts, which would have converted the kingdom almost into a republic,—for one of them declared, that after the death of the Queen, no King of Scotland, being at the same time King of England, should have the power to make war without the consent of Parliament; and that treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce should be concluded by the King, with the consent of the estates of Parliament. They afterwards passed another Act, which provided, that the successor of Queen Anne should be named by the estates, but that such person should not be the successor to the throne of England, unless such conditions of Government should be previously framed, as should secure from English or foreign influence the honour and independence of the kingdom, the freedom, frequency, and authority of Parliament, the religious liberty and trade of the kingdom,' with liberty to the estates to add such further conditions of government as should appear to be necessary; that the Commission of the Officers of State and the military commanders should expire with the Sovereign; that the inhabitants of the kingdom should be uniformly trained to arms and discipline, and that, upon the death of the Queen, and until the assembling of Parliament, the Government should be lodged with the Privy Council, and such Members of the Parliament as should then be in Edinburgh. The Act of Security was rejected by Queen Anne; but the Parliament of Scotland sent it back to her Majesty tacked to a Bill of Supply. The wants of the Government were urgent; and without the supply the army must have been disbanded, and the country laid open to foreign invasion. The Act of Security thus tacked to the Bill of Supply received the Royal Assent. The Parliament of England had also passed an Act hostile to Scotland, among other things, prohibiting the importation of cattle, coals, and linen, the staple articles of Scotland. It provided, that, after a certain day, the natives of Scotland, not settled inhabitants of England, should be incapable of inheriting lands in England; putting them thus on the foot- 170 ing of aliens. It was impossible that such a state of things could last. War, attended by the separation, or subjugation of one country to the other, must have ensued, if the Treaty of Union had not taken place. The same result must happen in Ireland if the proposed Repeal should take effect. But the hon. and learned member for Dublin was to guard against these evils by the restraints to be imposed on the power of the Irish Parliament. There was to be a provision that the Parliament of Ireland should not possess the power of altering the succession to the Crown; but of what value could that, or any other limitation of its power be considered, so long as it enjoyed the privilege of stopping the supplies? Why, there was not a man living, unless the victim of party prejudice, who would not acknowledge that the attempt to call any such restraint into practical operation must lead at once to civil war, and that most probably arising in the midst of foreign war. They had heard many and loud complaints against the injustice which had been perpetrated against Ireland; but he would ask, did that House think, that a revival of the Parliament of Ireland, of whose jobbing and tyranny they had heard so many examples, would afford to Ireland so good a chance of substantial justice as they might expect from the Imperial Parliament? Did the Irish people really suppose, that their condition would be improved by a disruption of the empire? He sincerely and conscientiously declared, that he did not believe there could be found an audience to which the people of Ireland could, with so much advantage, address themselves as to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. For the sake of Ireland, then, he should say, let the Union remain undisturbed; but, above all, for the sake of the empire, let it not be broken; for a consent to its dissolution would be nothing less than a signing the death-warrant of the wealth, the glory, and the prosperity of the empire.
§ Mr. Ronayne
congratulated the House on the altered tone it had manifested during the progress of the present protracted debate. The patience and the attention with which hon. Gentlemen were permitted to give expression to their sentiments on this important question, augured well for the success of the cause that he and his hon. colleagues had espoused, and, when contrasted with the attempts that 171 were last year made, to shout them down whenever they rose to address the House on subjects connected with Irish interests, gave the strongest indication of the improved feelings and disposition that how actuated those who were opposed to the Repeal of the Legislative Union between this country and Ireland. He would, therefore, prove his gratitude to the House by not trespassing longer on their time than the discharge of the duty he had to perform would allow him; while he stated his reasons for supporting the Motion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and opposing the insidious Resolution proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of the Treasury. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had attempted to draw a parallel between the circumstances connected with, and the events that followed, the Union with Scotland, and that of Ireland. He would, on the contrary, show, and he hoped he would be able to prove to the satisfaction of the House, that the cases of the two countries were by no means parallel. He would be pardoned for saying, that at the period of the Union with England, Scotland, as compared with Ireland, had little or nothing to give up. She had no sacrifice to make, for she had nothing of consequence or importance to sacrifice. Her Parliament, if Parliament it could be called, had not the slightest resemblance to the Irish Parliament. Her Government was a confused mixture of oligarchy and monarchy, and any change that would have been made in it must inevitably have proved to be a change for the better. In confirmation of his opinions, he would cite the authority of a writer, which he was confident the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ferguson) would not be disposed to dispute. He meant the writings of Mr. Dalrymple, a Scotchman. "In Scotland," says Mr. Dalrymple, (an able Scotch writer and the author of an excellent treatise on tenures), "we had little or no commerce; the land property was engrossed by the nobility; and it continued to remain so as long as we had Parliaments; the same cause which raised the Commons in England, in Scotland depressed them; besides, the Lords and Commons sat in one house, and the nation, carried away by the splendour of the former, lost sight of their own Representatives, while the Representatives themselves, imposed on by the same splendour, lost the idea of their own importance. 172 The Commons could set up no distinctions of rights and privileges in a single body, of which they only made a part; and not favoured by the people, they would not favour the people in return." Such was the description which that able writer gave of the Constitution of the Scotch Parliament at the period of the Union. He quoted that authority in reference to the manner in which the Union with Scotland was effected, and, in order to show, that there was no similarity between it and the Irish Union, in preference to the language of Grattan (clarum et veneraBile nomen), of Plunkett, Bushe, and a host of others, as able and as enlightened men as any country on the face of the earth could boast of. He would read another extract from the same writer, descriptive of the exercise of the elective franchise in Scotland at that period, which demonstrates beyond all doubt, that there could not be any just comparison made between the cases of the two countries at the time of their Union with England. "The number of Scotch electors was insignificant, scarcely amounting to three thousand voters, and the Constitution of Scotland, till incorporated with that of England, was a mixture of monarchy and oligarchy; the nation consisted of an oligarchy, without the privilege of electing their own Representative; of a gentry, indeed, entitled to represent by election, but unable to serve the nation; and of a nobility which oppressed one and despised both; but now the Union with England has given other rights to our part of the Legislature; has settled us upon that just poise which has rendered the Constitution of England the wonder of mankind." That was the language of an intelligent Scotchman; but there was, besides this extraordinary difference between the situations of Ireland and Scotland, that, in the latter country, the religion of the majority of the people was made the established religion of the country; and, thanks to their courage and resolution, entitling them to the gratitude and admiration of posterity, they refused to contribute to the support of a Church from whose doctrines they conscientiously dissented. If they were told, that by virtue of that parchment bond of Union, the Presbyterian religion should no longer be considered as the religion of the State, and that they must endure the incubus of a Church Establishment, as the learned 173 Member, the representative of the University of Dublin (Mr. Lefroy) contended that Ireland, by the Articles of Union, must submit to; then, with some plausibility, the parallel sought to be established, might be maintained; but while Ireland has to support an immense Church Establishment—while, of the 8,000,000 of her inhabitants, but 600,000 are Protestant, whose spiritual wants cost the Catholics and Presbyterians a sum of half-a-million of money annually—while these circumstances exist, what analogy can be proved between the cases of the two countries? The way that was taken to make the Union binding upon Ireland was establishing the religion of the minority, and enforcing its maintenance from the property of the majority. And the learned Member said, that from this grievance no redress was to be expected. Another difference between the two countries must not be overlooked—namely, the attempt that was made to force a new creed upon the people. In Scotland, the religious opinions of the majority of the people were respected. In Ireland, the property of the people was confiscated; and unlike the confiscations that have taken place in other countries, the conquerors did not amalgamate with the people, but created and perpetuated divisions and distinctions amongst them. (In elucidation of this position, he would read a short extract from a speech of Mr. Grant, President of the Board of Trade, made on a Motion of Sir John Newport). That right hon. Gentleman said,—'Then came the anti-Commercial code, and the Anti-Catholic code, marching side by side, and combining their strength, for the great object of crushing, by the most efficacious means, the talent, the industry, the enterprize, and the improvement of the people.*' Absenteeism was another cause of complaint in Ireland, and much as it injured the interests of Ireland before the Union, the removal of the Parliament greatly aggravated the evil, which was the more grievously felt, since absenteeism was rendered compulsory, instead of being as before voluntary. He would not go so far back in the history of Ireland, as the hon. and learned member for Dublin and the Secretary of the Treasury had done. The right hon. Gentleman amused the House with the recital of the wrongs of* Hansard (new series) vi. p. 1517.174 the Prince of Brefin. He would refer to more recent events in Irish history, in order to show the grievances the country had endured. He would not cite the authority of any prejudiced individual in his favour, but he would read to them an extract from the authentic history of one, who, in Ireland, was called "the Great," and in English history is celebrated for his talents and acquirements, he alluded to Sir Richard Boyle, the great Earl of Cork. The original was to be had in the Royal Irish Academy, and he hoped he might be heard while he read a few sentences from it, with the attention of those hon. Gentleman, who were so much amused by the account the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, gave of the supposed practice of the ancient Irish Monarchs' Coronation, which was solemnized, as he said, by bathing him in broth. The letter was addressed to the Earl of Warwick, and was written in the year 1641, from his mansion in Youghal:—"But to return to Ireland, wherein my fortune lies, and wherein I have eaten the most parte of my bread for the last fifty-four years, and have made it a great parte of my study to understand the kingdome and the people in their owne true essence and natures: I doe beseech your lordshipp, believe this great truth from me, that there is not many, (nay, I may more truly say), very few or none, that is a native of Ireland, and of the Romish religion, but he is either publiquely in his action, or privately in his heart, an assistant or welwisher unto it, for this rebellion hath infected all of them, and the contagion thereof is dispersed throughout the kingdom, and as the poyson is generall, soe hath his Majesty and the Parliament a fitt opportunitie offered them, for these their treasons, to roote the Popish partie of the natives out of the kingdome, and to plant it with English Protestants, for soe long as English and Irish Protestants and Papists live here intermingled together, wee can never have firme and assured peace; and his Majestie may now justly interest himselfe in all their lands and confiscations, and have roome enough to plant this kingdome with new English, which will raise him a great revenue, and secure the kingdome to the crowne of England, which it will never be soe long as these Papists have any land here, or are suffered to live therein. And, yf it would please his Majestie, with assent of Parliament, to 175 cause an Act presently to be passed there, to attainte them all of high treason, and to confiscate their lands and estates to the crowne, it would utterly dishearten them, and encourage the English to serve couragiously against them, in hope to be settled in the lands of them they shall kill or otherwise destroy." In England, this hideous project was unattended to, because there they were otherwise employed. In Ireland, however, he pressed it on the Lords Justices, and they, particularly the notorious Parsons, proceeded far towards carrying it into execution. This appears from a letter of the latter to the execrable proposer, dated Dublin, 20th June, 1643, wherein he tells him, "I am of your mind, that a thorow destruction must be made, before we can settle upon a safe peace. I pray you spare none, but indict all of quality or estate. We have done so here-abouts to many thousands, and have already executed some." Such was the language used by this hoary miscreant towards a people from whom he was deriving a splendid subsistence at the time. Such were the measures he recommended to be adopted towards Ireland by the English Government; but their atrocity was so extreme, their injustice so glaring, that even England at that time, however well inclined to cruelty and oppression, could not, with any appearance of decency, act upon the diabolical suggestion. There could be no question of the authenticity of this letter, for the original manuscript, in the handwriting of the great Earl of Cork, was still in existence. It is a fair specimen of the principle upon which English statesmen, English settlers, and English viceroys, acted in those times, and which, though with some occasional mitigation, had been continued to later days. It was a system of confiscation, of rapine, of murder, and of destruction. He sincerely hoped, that the posterity of those men would make reparation for the oppressions and plunder which their ancestors had inflicted upon the Irish people. The writer of that nefarious letter placed as a motto over the entrance to his castle at Lismore, now in the Duke of Devonshire's estate, the words, "God's Providence is our inheritance." What language was this for the wretched miscreant to employ, who, in his letter, recommended the extermination of a whole people! The right hon. Gentleman, wherever he borrowed his epithets, 176 denominated the authorities that were cited in favour of Repeal as trash and nonsense. Surely, the letter he (Mr. Ronayne) had just read was deserving of having those elegant phrases applied to it, more than the story with which the right hon. Baronet amused the House, endeavouring, by the relation of his anecdote, to throw ridicule on the question in debate. But where did the right hon. Baronet obtain the information which he communicated to the House on the subject of the ancient coronation of Irish kings? Did the event happen before the Christian era, or after it? He was curious to ascertain the source of the right hon. Baronet's information.—The Union was introduced by the late Lord Castlereagh. At that time a pamphlet was written called "Cease your funning," and attributed, he believed correctly, to the pen of Charles Kendal Bushe, the present Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench in Ireland. He would read a few extracts from it which were written in the happiest strain of irony:—'That, there is demonstration of the utility of the measure from one circumstance—that during the successive reigns of various viceroys, no English Secretary had ever the public spirit to propose this important resolution, but that as soon as an amiable young nobleman of our own nation assumed the reigns of Government, the first measure of his administration was the salvation of his country. Lord Castlereagh, uninfluenced by the selfish examples of his English predecessors, felt the Irish blood running in his veins, and determined it should never blush in his face—his country and posterity will do him justice.' The same observation would apply at the present time. He is an Irishman or West Briton—as he chooses to call himself—who is the first to propose that the Union with England shall be maintained inviolable; and he is an Irishman, a very amiable young gentleman, indeed, that has been procured to second the Motion. That amiable young gentleman had thought it becoming in him to abuse all those who were in favour of Repeal in that House. In that excellent speech of his, which is printed, is one of the most astonishing specimens of accurate reporting he had ever beheld. That hon. Gentleman, according to the present fashion, had indulged in much abuse, and vulgar invective, of those who were opposed to him in 177 politics. His allusions to the hon. member for Dublin were received with shouts of laughter and cheers by the English Gentlemen; but he was strongly of the opinion, that if a certain vow had not been registered in heaven, hon. Gentlemen would not be so extremely ready to offer these personal insults. The hon. member for Belfast calls us itinerant agitators and interested demagogues. This language coming from him is hardly tolerable, especially when one reflects upon the former opinions expressed by that Gentleman, and which the hon. and learned member for Cork (Mr. O'Connor) had so forcibly referred to during the present debate. In his former speeches the hon. Member denounced the pampered prelacy and overgrown Church Establishment; and now he was the advocate of all the abuses that had been inflicted upon Ireland by English misrule. He had said—'When men will ask us what we wish to accomplish by Reform, let us point to the achievements of a Washington—let us show them a country free from that insidious remnant of a darker age, a pampered prelacy and a domineering Church Establishment. Let us show them men who scorn to intrust their liberties to the guardianship of hereditary legislators—who have cut off from their constitution the incubus of a second estate, and who can protect their property without the assistance of a race ofTenth transmitters of a foolish face.Let us point out to a people who spurn the idea of impoverishing nine younger brothers, to confer a name and an inheritance upon the tenth, who can boast of no other precedency than the accident of priority at his birth—a people who own no distinction of blood, and who worship no aristocracy save that of virtue and talent.' No itinerant agitator or demagogue ever used such violent democratic language as that. He knew not what had occurred since, to produce so great a change in the hon. Member's opinions. In early life he understood that hon. Gentleman went to Greece. Those at all acquainted with the literature of the day must have read his History of Greece, and his Letters from the Ægean. What, then, had occurred since, to change the hon. Gentleman's opinions? His writings and his speeches breathed a spirit of independence that was to be looked for in vain in his present harangues. 178 Probably, in his anxiety to accommodate himself to the circumstances and the company in which he may be placed, he had taken for his model that poet whom Lord Byron describes in Don Juan. He was a man———— Who had seen many changes,And always changed as true as any needle—His polar star being one that rather ranges,And not the fixed. He knew the way to wheedle:Thus, usually, when he was asked to sing,He gave the different nations something national—'Twas all the same to him, 'God save the King'Or 'Ca ira,' according to the fashion all.That hon. Gentleman had said, that the enemies of the Union were Roman Catholics. Was Sir Richard Musgrave a Catholic? Was Sharman Crawford a Catholic? Was Mr. Ensor a Catholic? Was Lord Mountgarret a Catholic? Were the sons of the illustrious Grattan—were all the Gentlemen around him, Catholics? The assertion was idle, and only calculated to give a sectarian hue to a question, that should be discussed without any intermixture of religious animosity. The hon. Gentleman had also said, and boasted, that, instead of being a Representative of Ireland and Irish interests alone, he had been enabled to loose the chains of the Hindoo, and to deliberate upon the affairs of the empire at large. He had read for the House the authority of Dr. Duigenan, and next the writings of Theobald M'Kenna. The latter got a pension for the pamphlet, which his family enjoyed to the present hour. These were the authorities from which the extracts the hon. Member read in favour of the Union, were obtained. He would not go into the calculations that other hon. Gentleman had discussed. He would content himself by the simple and undeniable statement, that, from the year 1792, when the Irish revenue was only 1,100,000l., it increased, in the course of seven years, to 3,000,000l. What was the state of the revenue now, at this distant period from the Union? By the tables laid before the House, the amount of the revenue for the past year is only 3,800,000l. Such was the increase within the short period of seven years antecedent to the Union, while the grand result of all the boasted benefits of an Union of thirty-four years' duration was, that the revenues of Ireland did not, within the latest period, amount to more than 3,800,000l. He did not concur entirely in the opinion of those who decried figures, although he agreed with a distin- 179 guished countryman of his, who, on the very same subject, had said "Woe to the man or the million who can calculate the profit or the loss of the sale of their country. The man must have the heart of a monster, and the million must be doomed to wander about the world without the honour or the happiness of a home." He agreed with that authority, and echoed, woe to the man who would test the value of his country, and estimate its merits, by any statements of figures. The Irish people were not inferior to any people on the face of the globe, in mental or physical endowments—no country was superior to Ireland in soil or climate—why, then, should she be the most impoverished country under heaven, and her population the most destitute? The right hon. baronet, the member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel) in opposing this Motion took the most manly and English mode of resisting it. He scorned to delude the people by attempting to prove, that they were better off now than before the Union. He disdained to practise such a delusion, but boldly contended that the Union must be upheld. The Irish were treated in a domineering, overbearing manner. A spirit of domination was on every subject manifested towards their country. Their taxes were to be continued, and however unjust their proportion of them might be, they were told, that Ireland was an integral part of the empire, and must be kept in subjection. It was precisely the same spirit that dictated the answers given to Benjamin Franklin, when he remonstrated upon the injustice the American colonies had experienced from the tyranny of the mother country. The result of that contemptuous treatment was too well known to require further explanation. What once was done might be done again and he would therefore admonish the House not to afford occasion to the people of Ireland to remember so fatal a precedent. The threat he now used did not originate with him; it came from the lips of the Secretary of the Treasury. The language of that right hon. Gentleman, however, was different then from what it was now. He was then an Irishman, he had since become a West Briton. Here the hon. Gentleman read an extract from a pamphlet published by Mr. Spring Rice, when member for Limerick. Such was the character given by Mr. Spring Rice in speaking of the Parliament of England, 180 of the misgovernment of Ireland; such was his opinion then of the Constitution of 1782. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that despair was more dangerous than discussion. The hon. Gentleman had amused them with a history of the job family. The subject had acquired a most fit and competent historian, and he felt sure, that if the work should ever undergo a second edition the right hon. Gentleman's parliamentary life and official experience would enable him to publish it with many most useful emendations and additions. But when the right hon. Gentleman was so lavish of his abuse of the Irish Parliament, how did it happen that he omitted to mention the delinquencies that had been committed under the Imperial Parliament? He did not say a word about the Rideau Canal, or the martello towers in Ireland, nor of the foolish expenditure of the public money for the formation of the batteries at the Cove of Cork. He forgot all them, and reserved his attacks for the Irish Parliament alone. The right hon. Secretary also forgot to mention the immense sums of money appropriated to the building of new churches in Ireland, for which there was not the slightest necessity. The people of Ireland, it was objected, had been in the habit of using strong language. That might be the case. He would speak out plainly in that House, as he had not, as in Ireland, the fear of a Whig Attorney-General before him. The Secretary of Ireland might pass his Coercion Bills; but he would tell the right hon. Secretary, they would be ineffectual for the continuance of the tithe system. The Tithe Composition Bill was grossly unjust towards Ireland; its effect was, to increase the ecclesiastical revenues; and, in Waterford, it extended and doubled the income of the lay impropriators—it injured vested interests; and those whose lands had been tithe free for centuries past, were now most heavily taxed. The people looked upon the Church Establishment as not intended for the maintenance of religion, or the spiritual comfort of the people, but as affording an opportunity for the gratification and support of the junior branches of the families of the English gentry. The Government might attempt to coerce the people; but he would tell his Majesty's Ministers, that tithes, in no shape or form whatever, would be submitted to any longer in Ireland. The Irish people were 181 not such dolts as to be deluded by the flimsy pretext, that, because the name of tithes was altered, the grievance was more easy to be endured. It was an imposition on them to be obliged to support the clergymen of a creed in which they did not believe, and they would not be the dupes of it any longer. For his own part he did not hesitate to say, both here and in Ireland, that as long as tithes were imposed upon the people, he would resist the payment of them. They might pass their laws enforcing the collection of tithes—he would not obey them—there were many others he knew who would not obey them. They would not rise in arms against the law, but they would only yield to it as long as they could not help it [Laughter.] Yes, he repeated, however hon. Gentlemen might laugh, that the submission he would give to such a law would be precisely the same as that he would give to a bandit who would place him in the awkward alternative, either to deliver up his purse or his life. The right hon. the Secretary of the Treasury, when on this side of the House, expressed strong opinions on the conduct of England towards Ireland, though he now seemed to have forgotten the state of Ireland. He would next refer to the insidious attempt made by the right hon. Gentleman to obtain the sanction of Parliament to all the acts of the mis-government of Ireland. He was not to be contented by having a direct negative to the Motion of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, but must have in addition the approbation of the House to all the acts of the English Government towards Ireland. The language which the right hon. Gentleman had used in 1822, was widely different from what he now employed. If that authority were not sufficient, he would read a Letter from a nobleman, who held a high situation in Ireland—he meant the Marquess of Anglesey. That distinguished personage's Letter would, no doubt, be found in the bureau; and probably the hon. Gentleman would recognize in the passage he would read, something that might prove useful to him. In that Letter was this passage:—'These concurring causes which diffuse through this country a spirit of disquiet and distrust in the authorities, and which, if not removed, threaten before long to leave the King's Government in Ireland without any party but the King's troops. I am aware of the composition and temper 182 of the House of Lords. I know, that the times have passed when the will of the Minister could determine the acts of the Legislature. Still I cannot refrain from urging on the attention of my colleagues the claims of this suffering and too long neglected country, to a participation in the benefit of that enlightened policy which has already conferred so much upon other parts of the empire. I greatly fear, that it will be now too late to remedy these evils, because we shall be found to have overlooked, in the licentious exhibitions of the national discontent, the proper remedies for the evils from which it springs; because even now, and while I write, the Irish people are calling too vehemently, I admit, for healing measures—I am unable to answer them by any other law than the Riot Act upon the point of the bayonet.' Who wrote that? Not an Irish agitator, or a furious demagogue, as the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Tennent) would have it. No, it was the most noble the Marquess of Anglesey. With this evidence before the House of the conduct of the Imperial Parliament to Ireland—with the language of the Secretary of the Treasury before it—could they be asked with any consistency to give their approbation to all the measures of his Majesty's Government? He implored the House not to sanction the acts of the Government, by acceding to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. The Union had hitherto proved most ruinous to Ireland, and the maintenance of an enormous Church Establishment had been the cause of the greatest re-action, heart-burning, and annoyance. That Union so called, as "Lucus a non lucendo," "a Union from never uniting," which in its first operation gave a death-blow to he independence of Ireland, and in its last, might be the cause of her eternal separation from this country. If it must be called a Union, it was the union of the shark with its prey; the spoiler swallowed up his victim, and thus they became one and indivisible. Such a system was not consistent with justice; and it was contrary to every principle of common honesty, that 7,500,000 people should be called upon to support the clergy of about half-a-million of population. It must not be thought, that the people of Ireland were so stupified by insult and injury, that they would longer submit quietly 183 and patiently. They had, he contended, a perfect right to relieve themselves from such an unjust state of things, as soon as an opportunity offered. The people of Ireland, though oppressed, were sensitive to injustice, and would never submit to be subjugated. He begged, in conclusion, to remind the House, that though liberty had been extinguished in Ireland, the love of it still animated the people, and that they, though grossly oppressed, had a spirit which would not be subdued—No—they have as hearts that never, never,Will stoop to be the Moslem's slaves,While Heaven has light, or Earth has graves.
rose, amidst cries of question. Protracted as the debate had been, and exhausted as were all the topics it involved, he would compress, he said, within the narrowest compass possible his observations upon this important question. He was opposed to the Repeal of the Legislative Union, because it would lead to a dismemberment of the empire, and because dismemberment would aggravate, not relieve, the evils of Ireland, while it lowered England from her high estate. The advocates of Repeal contended, that a Repeal of the Union would remove the evil of absenteeism. He (Colonel Torrens) fully admitted, that absenteeism was an evil, but he maintained, that it was an evil which Repeal could not alleviate. Ireland had two classes of absentees—she had the absentee proprietors, whose rents being remitted in corn and other provisions, diminished the supply of food at home; and she had absentee labourers, who obtained their subsistence in England, and thus diminished the consumption of food at home. In taking a comprehensive view of the whole question of absenteeism, it was necessary to consider whether the quantity of food sent out of the country was greater or less than the quantity requisite to subsist the absentee labourers. Should these two quantities be equal, they would neutralize the effects of each other; the balance between population and subsistence would remain undisturbed, for the quantity of food remitted as the rent of absentee proprietors being equivalent to the consumption of the absentee labourers, the proportion between the numbers to be fed, and the funds applicable to their maintenance would be exactly the same. In the deficiency of statistical knowledge, it would be difficult to de- 184 termine with accuracy the proportion between the quantity of food remitted as absentee rent, and the quantity consumed by absentee labourers. These quantities must be nearly equal, and in that case absenteeism taken as a whole, could have no effect in causing the calamity so frequently experienced in Ireland of famine in the midst of abundance. But whatever the evils of absenteeism, Repeal could not remove them. What would be the consequence to the people of Ireland of keeping both classes of the absentees at home? If the Union were repealed, and if the Irish Parliament were to impose an absentee-tax, compelling her proprietors to remain at home, the English Parliament would not be backward in protecting the English labour market, and the English poor-rate, from Irish inundation. Ireland would thus have the full benefit of retaining within her own shores both her proprietors and her population; and it was for her advocates of Repeal to calculate the extent of the benefit which this double retention would confer. In the first place the residence of the proprietors of the soil could have no perceptible effect in preventing the exportation of the produce of the soil. With the exception of the small quantity of food consumed by the returned absentees and their domestics, Irish agricultural produce would be exported as before. But mark the overpowering drawback which must accompany this advantage. The same quantity of food would be sent out of the country, while a greater number of mouths would be retained at home, where no increase either of employment or of food had been created. The merchants and the shop-keepers would indeed have some increase of business and of profits, but the masses and the millions would be in greater destitution than before. No; the advocates of Repeal would contend, an independent Irish Parliament would not permit the exportation of provisions while the people were inadequately supplied; a domestic Legislature would protect domestic industry, and Irish manufactures would spring up beneath the fostering wing of an anti-British tariff. Be it so; but would England not retaliate? And would the agriculture of Ireland flourish when the ports of Britain were closed against her? When the Irish cultivator lost his exclusive privilege in supplying the British market, the value of Irish agricultural produce would fall one- 185 half, while the protecting duty imposed upon British fabrics would raise the value of manufactured goods in the Irish market. "So much the better," the economists in the Irish Parliament might exclaim, "cheap food, and dear manufactured goods, afford the best possible encouragement to domestic manufactures." But the important question would be, did such a state of things afford the best possible encouragement to domestic agriculture? To raise the value of manufactured articles in relation to the products of agriculture was to interdict the cultivation of certain qualities of soil, to diminish the supply of human sustenance, and to occasion a universal fall in the amount of wages, of profits, and of rents. The House would immediately perceive in what manner this downward march would be conducted. In pursuing his occupation the cultivator of the soil must expend clothing, and furniture, and implements, as well as food and seed. An increase in the value of clothing, furniture, and implements was, therefore, the same thing as an increase in the cost of cultivating the soil, and must cause all the land which could not afford this increased cost to be abandoned. A belt of land would be thrown out of cultivation; there would be a fall of rent throughout the country, to the extent of several bushels per acre. The industry of the towns would decrease in the same proportion as the industry of the country; for less food being raised, fewer artisans and traders could be maintained. From what he had now ventured to state, it would be apparent, that for the evils afflicting Ireland, a Repeal of the legislative Union was not the appropriate remedy. Such Repeal, even if followed up by an absentee-tax, could not have the effect of preventing the exportation of the produce of the soil, or of altering the proportion between food and population in favour of the people. It would have an effect quite the other way. At least half a million of persons now employed and subsisted in Britain would be returned upon Ireland, there to become competitors for a supply of food not increased in quantity, so that the share of each, however scanty and miserable at present, would become more scanty and more miserable after the Repeal. A system of protecting duties, interrupting free trade, would render the condition of 186 the people still worse. It might be effectual in preventing the exportation of food; but then it would prove still more effectual in preventing the production of food. The value of agricultural produce would fall, while the value of all the manufactured articles employed in agriculture would rise; and these two causes, operating in conjunction, would render it impossible to cultivate extensive belts of land now under tillage. Thus there would be less employment and less food, while there would be more people to be employed and to be fed; until famine, the repealer's famine, brought down the population to the level to which the repealer would reduce the productive resources of his country. He could easily illustrate and enforce these propositions, which to him appeared most important, but at that late hour, and exhausted as the House must be, he would venture no longer to intrude. He would, conclude, imploring his hon. friends, the members from Ireland, attentively and patiently to consider the effects of a Repeal of the Union upon rents and profits, and wages and employment, before they again pressed that measure upon Parliament.
Sir Hussey Vivian
At this late hour of the night I am extremely reluctant to trespass upon the attention of the House; nor should I do so, were it not that holding the situation I do in Ireland, with the knowledge of that country my residence in it has given me an opportunity of acquiring, and having paid much attention to the bearings of the question now before us, I should almost deem it a dereliction of duty were I to refrain from making a few observations in reply to some which have fallen from hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Repeal of the Legislative Union. In approaching the consideration of this question, I hope I need not disclaim being influenced by any of those anti-Irish principles with which it is too common to charge those who are not disposed to concur in all the measures which some of those Gentlemen who advocate Repeal think necessary. I hope, also, it is not necessary for me to disclaim, in referring to individuals, (which it is impossible to discuss this question without doing) any intention of giving personal offence—an intention at all times as foreign to my principles, as any feelings other than those of the utmost kindness towards the 187 people of Ireland, are foreign to my heart. I have lived long enough in Ireland to feel a deep and a warm interest in the happiness of its people, and I am ready to go as far as any one in endeavouring to promote their prosperity; but I confess I have not yet seen anything to make me believe that such would be the effect of the Repeal of the Union. It has been said, Sir, that the interests of Ireland are not sufficiently attended to in this House. The discussion on this question, and the manner in which it has been conducted, I think afford a full and perfect reply to this charge against us. If I were to find a fault it would be, that the question has been discussed too much as if it concerned Ireland alone. Now, for my part, I consider the interests of the two countries to be so completely linked, and I may say dove-tailed together, that the one cannot flourish whilst the other fades. The right hon. member for Tamworth, in his able, argumentative, convincing, and unanswerable speech, put the question on its proper ground, when he said that it really amounted to a question of the dismemberment of the empire. The hon. member fur Waterford called Ireland the right arm of England. In this description he was perfectly correct; but as I never understood that separating the right arm from the body, could do the body any good, whilst it is certain to produce the destruction of the amputated limb—I find an argument against Repeal in the very one the hon. Member advanced in favour of it. I will now, as briefly as possible, reply to some of those complaints that have been made against English Government, and endeavour to shew, that however the evils complained of may exist in Ireland, it is not in consequence of the Union, or of English Legislation, they have arisen. The enactment of the Coercion Bill is complained of—the poverty of the people of Ireland is attributed to us—we are charged with causing the extensive emigration which annually takes place—we are told, British capital does not flow in, as promised at the Union—and lastly, we are told by the hon. member for Cork, that we have occasioned the ruin of the manufactures of that city. First, then, as to the Coercion Bill, which has been so much dwelt upon, I will not now enter into a discussion of the question whether it was necessary or not. During its progress through his 188 House; that was fully gone into, and the necessity, I think, fully proved. I am, as much as any hon. Member in this House, an enemy to the enactment of all such penal laws. Nothing but the last necessity—the protection of person and property—can justify them. That necessity was considered to have arisen; and there can be no doubt, that the passing of that Bill has been attended with the best possible consequences; and I believe it has not been abused in a single instance. In Kilkenny, its operations have been attended with the best effects, by putting a stop to that passive resistance which to borrow from the eloquent language of the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government, might more properly be termed fraudulent treason, and that system of outrage which had risen almost to open rebellion. Up to this time, Sir, the application of the Coercion Bill has been confined to Kilkenny,—it has now been applied also to four baronies of the King's County, in which outrage had arisen to the most alarming extent; 74 cases having been reported in the month of March, and many others it is well known were not reported, owing to the state of terror in which the people were placed by the midnight robber and the assassin. It is here then also, that for the protection of the innocent and the unoffending, the power under this law is taken advantage of; and as I defy any hon. Member opposite to state a single instance in which oppression has yet been exercised under it, so also do I feel fully confident will the future proceedings of those who have to carry it into effect be governed by the same principles. With respect to the poverty of Ireland, there are few who have had more opportunities of inquiring into it, and who, consequently, are more competent to bear testimony to it than I am. Constantly have I visited the wretched cabins of the peasantry, and the more than wretched dwellings of the manufacturer; and I am ready to admit, that there is not, on the face of the earth, a people who, to judge from the scenes that have thus been presented to me, are suffering under a greater degree of destitution than the Irish of the lower classes. I admit, then, their wretchedness to the fullest extent to which it has been described by any of the hon. Members opposite; but is this to be attributed to 189 the Union, and to English legislation? I deny that it is so;—it does not arise out of Legislation, nor can legislation alone provide the remedy. I will not attempt to go into an explanation of the cause, for fear, in so doing, I might most unintentionally give offence to the gentlemen of Ireland, and I am quite ready to acknowledge they exert themselves to get rid of the misery of the people, as far as it comes within their observation; but it is well known, there are thousands and tens of thousands of these poor creatures, who, residing far away from those under whom they hold their dwellings, never can experience the advantages of that active benevolence which, under other circumstances, would no doubt be excited in their favour. But again I repeat, it is not the Union that has placed them in this unhappy situation; nor would the Repeal of the Union relieve them from their distress. The poverty of the lower classes in Ireland is spoken of as having existed long before the Union, and with the permission of the House, I will read an extract from a work published in 1779, entitled "The Commercial Restraints of Ireland." It is this:—'Notwithstanding the success of the linen trade, the bulk of our people have always continued poor, and in a great many seasons have wanted food. Can the history of any other fruitful country on the face of the globe, enjoying peace for four-score years, produce so many recorded instances of the poverty and wretchedness, and of the reiterated want and misery of the lower order of the people? There is no such example in ancient or modern history. If the ineffectual endeavours by the representatives of these poor people to give them employment or food, had not left sufficient memorials of their wretchedness—if their habitations, apparel, and food, were not sufficient proofs, I should appeal to the human countenance for my voucher, and rest the evidence on that hopeless despondency that hangs on the brow of unemployed industry.' This then, Sir, I say, proves that the poverty and wretchedness of the people do not originate in the Union. That it does exist, however, to the greatest possible extent, I have already admitted; and, without being prepared to advocate the introduction of Poor-laws, the difficulty attending which I well know to be very great, I am quite ready to acknow- 190 ledge the double necessity of some step being taken in behalf of the distressed and destitute of the lower classes: and I rejoice, that the subject is at this time under the consideration of commissioners appointed to inquire into it. From this inquiry I hope some means of providing employment for the able, and food for the helpless, will arise; at present there are thousands—aye and tens of thousands—who are daily supported by the charity of those who are but ill able themselves, to afford such support. The next point to which I shall refer is that of emigration. The hon. and learned member for Dublin asked, why 90,000 men should emigrate from Ireland, whilst only 40,000 left England and 20,000 Scotland? This, I confess at the time, I thought was rather tender ground for the hon. and learned Member to tread upon; for without intending to give him offence, I must tell him, that the extent of emigration is, in a great degree, to be attributed to his own proceedings. He assumes to himself the character of an agitator; indeed, he admits, that he is the head and front of agitation; at the same time, however, I am aware that he has earnestly called on the people to preserve peace, Passive resistance has been his doctrine; and, in all his speeches, and in all his letters, he has pressed this on them in the strongest possible terms. But it is easier to raise the storm than to allay it: out of agitation has arisen outrage, and outrage has driven thousands to emigration: thousands have been driven by fear to quit their country, not knowing how soon that dreadful fate, which, in too many instances, had befallen their friends and their neighbours, might attend them; and thousands have fled in order to escape that punishment which the violated laws of their country would have awarded to their crimes. Sir, I am as great an enemy to emigration as the hon. member for Dublin himself is; and this is no new feeling on my part. On a question on the state of the nation some years since, I expressed in this House a very strong opinion on this point; nor have I since ever seen the slightest reason to depart from it. With thousands of uncultivated acres within the United Kingdom, I never could see any reason why so many of our best peasantry should fly for maintenance to a foreign land; nor can I ever admit the necessity, until every acre is culti- 191 vated like a garden. Another ground of complaint has been, that British capital has not flowed into Ireland, as was promised by the Union; but why has it not done so? It is the agitation of the country that has prevented, and must continue to prevent, capital flowing into it. It is the perpetration of crimes which I will not detail, because I hope they will not again afflict the country, that renders capitalists unwilling to vest their property either in manufactures or in land in Ireland. The murders that have taken place of agents and of bailiffs—crimes that I trust in God may never be repeated—fully explain the cause why capital has not flowed in; but for this, looking to the ready means of communication with England—looking to the fertility of the soil of Ireland—there is every reason why money to any extent should be laid out in lands, and indeed in manufactories also, in Ireland. No speculation could be better; but, in order to encourage this, security to property and to persons must be assured. Where a man cannot let his land to those he considers would be the best tenants, or employ under him those he deems best calculated to promote his interests, he will not lay out his money. Hence, then, British capital has not flowed into Ireland to an extent calculated on, and, perhaps, even promised, at the time of the Union. The hon. member for Cork, who spoke on Friday night, gave a sad detail of the decay of manufactures in the city he represents. This may, perhaps, as he states, have arisen from the competition with the English manufacturer; but does he imagine that the Repeal of the Union would re-establish those manufactures? Does he imagine, that a law of an Irish Parliament, to exclude British manufactures would be productive of advantage to the people of Ireland? Does he desire to make them pay at a dear rate for those articles they now receive at a cheap rate? Does he think this will make them generally richer and more prosperous? If Sir, British manufactures are not to be excluded, the only other way of giving employment to the Irish manufacturers is, by so reducing the cost of production as to make a cheaper article than the workman on this side of the Channel. Will a reduced rate of wages, and a reduced price of provisions benefit Ireland? Exclusion of British goods would be met by retaliation 192 and a reduction in the price of provisions (for that would be necessary in order to enable the Irish manufacturer to work cheaper than the British) would contribute only to increase the distress already complained of. I will now proceed to state the grounds on which I think a Repeal of the Union would be infinitely injurious both to Ireland and to England. The object of the hon. Member who moved this question, is to obtain a domestic Parliament; but what Parliament would he have?—The Parliament of 1800, or a Reformed Parliament? If the Parliament of 1800 (and this Ireland should have, if the argument of the hon. Member, that the Union is not valid is a good one), then it is clear you have a Parliament by which Protestant ascendancy will be re-established—if a Reformed Parliament, the predominance will fall into the other scale, and a religious party, with strong feelings of hostility to another, will govern the country. The difference will be, that instead of a Parliament exclusively Protestant, there would be a Parliament, of which a large majority would be Catholic; and the party spirit already existing to an extent so destructive to the best interests of the country, would be so fostered and encouraged, that a state of things would inevitably arise infinitely more injurious than anything complained of in the old Government of Ireland. The hon. and learned member for Dublin is perfectly aware of the effect of party spirit in such a Parliament. In his letter to the Protestants of Ireland, in order to induce them to join in obtaining Repeal, I find this sentence:—'I should, therefore, finally insist, that the Act of Repeal should be based on this express condition—that there should be perpetually in Ireland an equality of civil rights, privileges, and franchises, to persons of all creeds, sects, persuasions, and religions; that this equality should be placed for perpetual preservation, under the protection of the King, and also of the British Parliament; that the Irish Parliament should be declared incompetent to infringe this equality by any law, directly or indirectly; that any attempt to violate that equality, or to introduce or sanction any religious ascendancy whatever, should cause the proposer, and every supporter, to incur a prœmunire, and forfeit his lands and tenements, goods, and chattels, and be 193 liable to imprisonment for life, in England or elsewhere in the British dominions out of Ireland.' I am no advocate, Sir, for suppressing discussion. On the contrary, I am for fair and open discussion being permitted on all subjects; but if I were disposed to make an exception—looking to the consequences that arise out of the agitation on this question—looking to the mischief occasioned by it—I confess, that I should not be sorry if some hon. Member, taking a leaf from out of the book of the hon. and learned Gentleman who makes this Motion, would bring forward a proposal similar to that which I have just read, and that any one hereafter pressing the Repeal of the Union, should be subject to those very penalties the hon. Member would render applicable to those who might attempt to violate the law under which the Union, if his measures are to be carried into effect, is to be repealed ["Hear, hear!"]. I am obliged to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) for his cheers; I perfectly understand them. I have no doubt the enactment of such a law would be very much objected to by the hon. Member; but, at least, he cannot deny the competency of this House to pass it. If, in the one case, it is competent in him to propose, and the House to enact, the penalties of the prœmunire on any man who should endeavour to subvert his law for Repealing the Union, and maintaining equality of rights, it must be equally competent to this Parliament to enact such penalties against any man who shall propose the Repeal itself. This, at any rate, is the means by which he proposes to check party spirit in his Irish Parliament—it is an admission, on his part, of the extent to which he considers it would exist. But how would such a law really operate?—would it produce the desired effect? Suppose the Parliament assembled in College Green, and a motion made, which would go to overturn this law of equality, and have the effect of giving some advantage to the one party or the other; the hon. and learned Member would, I have no doubt, in consistency and good faith, rise and object to it, upon the ground, that its discussion was prohibited by the Repeal Act. But might not another Member, less scrupulous, rise, and, backed by the 50,000 "rollicking blades" from without (the hon. Member's own term, if I mistake not, applied on one occasion to 194 his friends and supporters), with their "short sticks," tell the hon. and learned Member, that he had declared the Union an invalid Act, and, consequently, that any laws emanating from the Imperial Parliament were invalid, and thus succeed in overthrowing the Protestant interests, and establishing Catholic ascendancy? Having already granted Catholic Emancipation as an act of justice to an oppressed class of our fellow-subjects, we should then be called on to step in, and exert our power, and extend Protestant Emancipation to a class that would be still more oppressed. It has often been said, that the affairs of a Government should be managed on the same principles as those of individuals. Now, when two persons quarrel, a mutual friend best settles their differences—and the same may be said of the parties which divide Ireland. The Imperial Parliament is their mutual friend, and so far from not being in a situation to legislate for the people of Ireland, I should say, assisted by the acknowledged talents of the Representatives of that country, it is peculiarly calculated to become the mediator between the conflicting interests by which it is unhappily distracted. There are many questions on which differences would inevitably arise between an Irish and a British Parliament. There is the question of the Church, for example. I am not going to enter into the tithe question—already have I expressed a strong opinion that I consider it unfair, that persons professing one religion, should be called upon to support the Ministers of another, and therefore I have always advocated the abolition of tithes through the medium of an equitable commutation. But would a Parliament in College-Green stop at commutation? Has not extinction been construed to mean spoliation? And would it not rather propose to abolish tithes altogether, forgetful that that would be the destruction of a property, the existence of which no one has yet been hardy enough to deny, and to which the proprietors of the land, who would alone be benefited by it, have, in law or in justice, no right whatever, they having either inherited or purchased their estates subject to this charge? That the hon. and learned member for Dublin wishes to overthrow the Church, there can be no doubt; for, in a letter of his, he says—"One of my great objects is, for the good of Ireland, 195 the depriving the Established Church, by legal enactments, of its enormous and oppressive temporalities." It is not difficult, then, to foresee what would be one of the Irish measures of a Parliament assembled on College-Green; and if such a law were attempted to be carried, the British Government would be obliged to interfere, unless some fair and equitable means of commutation were proposed; and we know the tenacity with which, in this House, hon. Members opposite have, as yet, objected to any measure intended to effect this.
Another question on which differences between the two Parliaments must arise, would be that of absenteeism. We know the hon. member for Dublin proposes the imposition of an absentee tax. In a free country, is it possible so to legislate, or if it were possible, would an absentee tax make Ireland more prosperous? Certainly not. It is already a great misfortune for Ireland that the link which binds her to this country is not tight enough—that the intercourse between the two countries is not great enough. So far, then, from encouraging the intercourse, an absentee tax would tend to prevent it—so far from causing capital to flew into it, it would act as an exclusion to the purchase of a single acre in Ireland by any Englishman, and it would go to the confiscation of the property of all those who now possessing any in Ireland have property also in England. There is no reason, naturally, why capital should not go to Ireland as well as to Yorkshire; on the contrary, there is every reason why it should go there, were it not for the unhappy state of the country; but an absentee tax would crown the difficulties which already prevent it. The hon. and learned Member, if his scheme is good for anything, must shut Ireland out from all the rest of the world, and this really appears to me to be his object. He says, that the export of the produce of the soil is injurious to the country, and at one of the parish meetings in Dublin, after describing the loss of one of the steam-boats in that glowing and forcible language of which he is so perfect a master, he exclaimed—'Oh God! it is an afflicting calamity, but there is this circumstance to be noted, that the passengers were going over to dispose of a quantity of live stock which they had with them. In what service were they lost? In the service of the absentees of Ireland; but even if they had arrived in 196 England, they were equally lost to this country. It was no advantage to this country if they went over safe—they equally perished for them, and no remuneration would come back to Ireland, and frightful as was the calamity, it was the same to Ireland; it was equally a robbery on this country.' I confess I was somewhat surprised in these days, when the science of political economy is so well understood, to find such opinions emanate from a man of such superior talents. I differ entirely from the hon. Member, for although I lament absenteeism, and am aware of all its bad effects, I cannot believe, that in a pecuniary point of view it is injurious to the extent he has described. It is clear that a farmer who is generally supposed to make three rents on his estate, most bring back from the produce of the sale a large proportion, which must be employed in the payment of the wages of labour to cultivate the land. I am not, therefore, one of those who like the hon. Member would wish altogether to do away with the export of agricultural produce from Ireland. The bad effects of such a system would, I apprehend, soon be discovered and complained of; nor would the hon. Member himself, I believe, really act upon the principles thus expressed, were he in an Irish House of Commons, and I cannot but observe on their inconsistency, when I recollect that the falling-off of the Irish commerce is one of the complaints so constantly reiterated by the hon. Member as an effect of the Union. Other questions would inevitably arise between the two Parliaments, which would lead to differences, the certain consequences of which would be either subjection or separation.
In short, Sir, whether we look at the question in a political, a military, or a commercial point of view, the Repeal of the Union appears fraught with infinite danger. In a political point of view, Ireland, with a separate Legislature, would be exposed to the endless intrigues of foreigners. In a military point of view, this inconvenience would arise, that Ireland, with an independent Parliament, would have a right to say whether she would or would not go to war when England did, and if she hesitated to do so, the ports of Ireland would be open to the ships of an enemy: would this he permitted or submitted to? and if not, where is the independence of the Irish Parlia- 197 ment or of Ireland? The hon. and learned Member says, that he wishes to maintain a federal union with this country; but the tendency of his language, out-of-doors at least, leads directly to separation; why else has he enumerated the various independent small states of Europe, and compared their state with the state of Ireland? If Ireland were independent, if she were to claim a right to neutrality whilst we were at war, what would become of the trade of England? What would become of the interests of that great emporium of our commerce, that city second only to the metropolis, and fast rising into rivalry with it, if the enemies of England were enabled to sally from the Irish ports, and make prizes of its richest freights? The measure, then, of the Repeal of the Union is impossible—it is impracticable, and were it practicable, it would lead to the worst possible consequences, it would lead to the destruction of a mighty empire, to the annihilation of the best interests of England, and the utter ruin of Ireland. As I have before observed, the prosperity and welfare of the two countries are completely linked and dovetailed together; one cannot flourish whilst the other fades; and as our interests are connected, so must be our councils; thus, and thus alone, can the prosperity of Ireland, and the happiness of its people be secured; and this is an end, that although there may be others who, from their talents and their acquirements, are more competent to assist in effecting than I am, I will yield to no man in fervently and sincerely praying for the attainment of.
§ Mr. Baldwin
said, that he would not at that moment enter into any discussion as to the policy of the Coercion Bill. He would apply himself to the consideration of the question then before the House, and he would fearlessly say, that the principles acted upon towards Ireland by this country, were those of a direct invasion of the rights of the Irish people. He would not say, that the opinions of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, who was accused of causing all the agitation by his wild speeches were not sometimes "wild." Yes, sometimes "wild," although he did not believe they were so; and he would add that, in place of being fraught with mischief, as was attributed to them by some persons, they were eminently Calculated to do good, and, by doing 198 good, to preserve the public peace. It was said, however, that the speeches of the hon. and learned member for Dublin had led to agitation. Why, as well might it be said, that the speeches of the hon. members on the ministerial side of the House had led to the Bristol riots. He asked nothing but a practical conclusion from the events which had occurred in Ireland since 1801. If justice were once done to Ireland, the people of that country would be satisfied; but without that, contentment, prosperity, aye, or even comparative happiness, never could exist there; and, talk of the Union as hon. Members might, an Act of Parliament Union could never cement the two countries. The foundation of every compact should be justice; failing justice, there must be an end to every compact. The hon. and gallant Officer (Sir Hussey Vivian) was pleased to speak in terms of praise of the Irish people. The gallant Officer saw them in the camp and in the field; but he saw them in their habitations, and at their bed sides, and he supposed, therefore, that he might speak with some confidence upon the subject. Not long since he saw fifty families coming into the city of Cork, bearing with them the few and simple domestic articles which contributed to the comfort of the Irish peasantry. He went up to one of them, and asked what was the cause of their approaching the city in that number, and in that condition,—had they been turned out of their farms, or had they been distrained upon under the new law for the recovery of tithe?—The man replied, "No." When he asked whither he and his companions were going?—The reply was, "to Canada." "And why do you go?"—"Because," was the further answer, "the little property that we have is every day growing less—because the taxes on our farms are more than we can bear—because the tithe-collector and the tax-gatherer sweep away the whole of our substance—therefore, while we have yet a little property left, we are resolved to gather it up, and to hear it away with us from the land of our fathers, hoping in the untrodden wilds of the Canadian settlements, to gain those means of livelihood which are denied us here, and prepared rather to encounter the wild Indian's tomahawk, than the Tithe-proctor and the Tithe-laws." He believed that the gallant Officer was a humane man, yet he certainly could not 199 know as much of Ireland as he did. It was asked, why the people were emigrating from Ireland? He would answer—the poverty and destitution of the population, accumulated by the extravagant weight of political grievances. What had caused the poverty of Ireland? The commercial restrictions imposed by this country, and not the poverty of the soil or the character of the people. He could say, and he was a painful witness of the fact, that Ireland was every day becoming more wretched and more destitute. The Union had been an obstruction to Irish manufactures in different ways—it had caused the removal of the money of Ireland to this country; it had caused the removal of all public boards, and all her taxes were paid in this country. Ireland could never grow wealthy whilst her wealth was constantly taken from it. It was only by the accumulation of capital, that any country could rise; but the English took away the means of accumulating capital, and then wondered that Ireland was not rich. He admitted, that he was one of those who came to that House openly pledged to vote for the Repeal of the Union, but he did so from a conscientious feeling that it would be of the utmost advantage to Ireland. He gained nothing by coming to that House. On the contrary, it was well known that in purse, at least, he was a considerable loser; but, be that as it might, he advocated the question from a sincere feeling of its justice, its advantages, and its necessity; and he would continue to advocate it as long as he lived. They must not think to stifle the claims of the people of Ireland—they must not let the horizon of that House bound their views; let them legislate fairly for Ireland or she would watch her opportunity, and show that Irishmen would no longer continue slaves, or be content to hold a place inferior to the rest of their fellow subjects. They must not expect to be able to wrestle with eight millions of people, roused up by the spirit of national injury and the remembrance of many deep and unavenged wrongs. They did not want to dismember the empire—to repeal the Union was not to dismember. He would tell them, that the Irish people were determined to have good government with or without their consent. If they had, however, any wish to conciliate the people of Ireland, let them show an anxiety to inquire into their wants; if they were unjust, what was 200 better adapted to show their injustice than inquiry?
said, that if the House wished, he would move the adjournment of the debate.—["No, No!"]—If Ireland had been misgoverned for a much longer period than she had been—if the fraud and corruption by which the Union had been obtained had been more flagrant, he would contend that it had no bearing on the question. The only point was, not how Ireland should be governed, but whether it was for the interest of the united empire that it should be now governed by two legislatures or by one. The hon. member for Meath had said, Ireland could be safely governed by her own legislature. If the hon. Member meant freedom from danger or inconvenience, he must say, that, in addition to the risk which had been already noticed, of our coming to different votes on important questions of general policy, such as the question of peace or war, there would be a much greater danger of constant collision than there ever had been. The Irish House of Commons would be returned by numerous bodies of constituents, instead of being like that manageable Parliament which existed in Ireland before the Union, when three-fourths of its Members had, in reality, no constituents. The hon. Member had urged that, there was an equal danger of collision between this and another House of Parliament in this country; but whenever that and the other House differed on any point, it concerned the interests of the same country, or the same class of people; whereas, in the event of a collision with the Irish Parliament, the one legislative body would be considering the interests of Great Britain and the other the interests of Ireland. Let them look for a moment to the principal dangers which were apprehended from the Union at the time when it was proposed. The speeches of Mr. Foster, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, in Committee, showed that his chief apprehension was founded on the abolition or diminution of the bounties, and the reduction of the protecting duties, which he thought would be destructive to the commerce of Ireland. How completely had events falsified the prediction! Not only were the duties reduced to ten per cent, but even that ten per cent had been since abolished, yet the manufactures and commerce of Ireland had continued to prosper. 201 In his opinion, it was not owing to the Union, but to the disturbed state of the country, that the want of capital in Ireland arose. On the contrary, the Union had been beneficial to Ireland, and had promoted both tranquillity and wealth. Various salutary measures had been passed since the Union, and there were various others in contemplation for her benefit. Let them but consult the feelings, and conciliate the interests, of the people of Ireland; let that people but have a little patience, and the country would soon arrive at a greater pitch of prosperity than she ever had been in before. With reference to the argument, that the Union had increased the number of Irish absentees, he begged to ask whether it was not the object of every man of property in that part of the kingdom to represent the place where he resided? It appeared to him, that the hope of obtaining a seat in the United Parliament was very likely to have the effect of inducing Gentlemen to reside permanently in Ireland, who, under other circumstances, would not live there at all. He would not further detain the House, but declare that he would support the Amendment.
§ The Debate was again adjourned.