HC Deb 20 August 1835 vol 30 cc785-91

"We can only refer, and in general terms' to the debate. That most impracticable man, Joseph Hume, was not to be put out of his way. In vain did Verner vow, and Maxwell mutter, and Dr. Nicholl preach—the Member for Middlesex remained inexorable—and the damnatory resolutions were passed, and the 'illustrious' Personage will immediately have to choose whether he shall remain a Field Marshal or a Grand Master. The speech of Mr. Sheil, of which we insert what may be almost designated a verbatim report, is by far the most successful, as well as one of the most eloquent discourses delivered even by this very distinguished orator. Indeed, it appears to us quite a master-piece. It completely dumb foundered the chop-fallen Orangeists in the House, and carried the majority with it.

"Nay, the Orangemen affect to be quite satisfied—yea, exceedingly delighted—with the result of the debate. The gentle souls! it is easy to satisfy them. But let us hear what they have gotten to say. Thus saith the renegade O'Fudge of "The Evening Mail:"

"One comfortable reflection upon the issue of the debate is, that the sting has been drawn from the malice of Mr. Hume, and that, in obedience to the unanimous sense of the House, the two Resolutions reflecting offen- sively on his royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland were withdrawn.'

"Now, O'Fudge is either asleep or he is a wilful—no, no; we must speak pretty. Our own opinion is, that this Papist is as great a dunce as he is a shameless apostate. What, for instance, is the ground of his 'comfortable reflection' as to the Duke of Cumberland? This:—

"That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he will be graciously pleased to direct his royal attention to the nature and extent of Orange Lodges in his Majesty's army, in contravention of the general orders of the Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's forces, issued in the years 1822 and 1829, which strongly reprobate and forbid the holding Orange Lodges in any of his Majesty's regiments; and also to the circumstance of his royal Highness, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, a Field-Marshal in his Majesty's army, having signed warrants in his capacity of Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland (some of them dated so recently as April in the present year) which warrants have been afterwards issued for constituting Orange Lodges in the army.'

"If the success of this Motion be so extremely comfortable to the Orangemen, all that we can say is, that we sympathize most heartily in their 'comfort,' and congratulate them exceedingly on the grounds of their reflection. The truth is, that this Resolution will deprive them of the Grand Master, or the army will lose a Field Marshal. Utrum horum mavis accipe. We really don't care which of the two, but we should recommend the latter alternative to his royal Highness. It would be more princely and magnanimous, and, with his personal views, perhaps most politic."

Any hon. Member who would say that did not refer to the House of Commons, was unfit to be upon a Committee of the House.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that he was not going to controvert the position that these articles applied to the speech of the hon. Gentlemen—he would take higher ground. He would appeal to the hon. Gentlemen who were themselves concerned in this matter, and ask them whether, on the whole, they thought that it was necessary to their own vindication, or consistent with their duty as Members of Parliament, to proceed any further? They lived in times of great excitement. The House well knew, that scarcely a night passed in which some one hon. Member or another in the debate within the walls of this House was not carried beyond the strict rules of order and propriety. The excitement which existed in the House extended far beyond it. And let not the hon. Gentlemen for one moment imagine, that attacks were directed solely against themselves. If hon. Gentlemen felt it in the slightest degree necessary for the vindication of their character to bring under the consideration of the House every newspaper attack that was made, there would not be a night on which the proceedings of the House would not be interrupted by such motions. Any Gentleman might complain of a breach of privilege—any publication of anything that occurred in this House was a breach of privilege. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not imagine that in what he was saying he wished to defend individuals who made such attacks as these. The present was certainly a very gross and improper attack; but he begged to say, that worse terms were continually applied to him, and he could go to bed and sleep undisturbed by any dreams of newspaper devils drawing his curtains in the dead of night. Bad as were the terms of reproach in the publication brought under the notice of the House on this occasion, he must declare he thought even them less objectionable than attacks which had been made upon himself and his friends, in a supposed report of a speech which described them as Radicals, Infidels, and Republicans, and God knew what besides. But were they to come down to the House to complain of the morning papers, the evening papers, and the weekly papers, whenever the public conduct of hon. Members was spoken of in terms of which they disapproved? Undoubtedly there was great excitement existing at this period; in proof of which he might state, that he had known even the private confidence of social intercourse violated to furnish matter for individual attack. It had happened that what had transpired at his own table, when among Members of Parliament—Members of this House were present—had been made the subject of misrepresentation and falsehood in the course of the very next day. This was a fact with which some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite were acquainted. He might be told, that a Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to be thin-skinned—that that illustrious individual in the Zoological Gardens, the Rhinoceros, was alone entitled to a thicker skin; but he put it seriously to the House whether they would consent to constitute themselves a censorship. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that his character did not need such a protection. If these attacks were taken up by the Whig or Reform party, he would say, that they exhibited undue sensibility. For himself, he would stand on his character; he would not submit to a vote of this House. With a view to prevent a recurrence of such attacks, the best way was to disregard them—to let them pass by unnoticed. They could not offer a greater bounty on personal attack, founded on falsehood and misrepresentation, than by making those responsible for it, the subjects of such proceedings as these; they were by these means at once raised into importance, and grew into giants. He would not move the Order of the Day, but would confidently leave the matter to the hon. Gentleman's consideration.

Mr. Henry Maxwell

felt as little annoyed as any other hon. Member at newspaper defamation; but when this attack was but a continuation of a series of the foulest and most malignant falsehoods, circulated all over Ireland for a month against his character and conduct—when he was charged with being a deliberate liar, with abetting treason—he, as a Member of that House, should fail in his duty, if he did not bring the matter before the House. It was the duly of Members to vindicate the character of the House, and he for one would do so, and persevere in his Motion.

Colonel Verner

said, he had personally as great a contempt for the libels of that paper as any man could have, neither would he have noticed the present paragraph, had it not been a continuation of long-repeated attacks, holding up him and those who agreed with him to public reprobation. Had the paragraphs been of an ordinary kind, he would have disdained to notice them; but when they not merely ascribed to him and his friends principles they repudiated, but marked them out as objects for the hatred of the people, he could not but urge his hon. Friend to persevere.

Mr. Hume

would act impartially between both sides of the House. For himself, he had been the subject of constant attack these twenty years, yet he never minded it. When the gallant Admiral (Sir Edward Codrington) was assailed in the most violent manner by a morning paper he brought forward the matter, and, having vindicated himself by this course, abandoned all future proceedings, at the suggestion of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell). He (Mr. Hume) then expressed a wish, that further proceedings should be stopped; and he hoped, now that the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Motion. The hon. Member moved the Order of the Day.

Colonel Perceval

said, the question was at present one of breach of privilege, as it referred to what occurred in the House; and, as such, the House ought to deal with it. As to the vile calumnious paragraphs about him, and as to the parties who furnished them, he had the greatest contempt for them. He knew the quarters from which these slanders flowed, and he was little hurt by them as an individual; but as a Member of Parliament, he felt called upon to assert its dignity. If the Government authorities—and this paper was the reputed organ of the Government, and the vehicle for the spleen and vindictiveness of its underlings—called him liar, traitor, and what not, he cared but little. This he did not say with any view to offend the Members of the Government, for he entertained for them individually great respect. But the Dublin Evening Post seemed to possess a character all over the country as the organ of the Government, and as authorized by it to libel every one who differed from it in opinion. He despised these attacks as a private individual, for to care about them would show they were in some measure true; but as a Member of that House, independently excercising his right, he was bound to notice them. Every right-minded man—(to use the expression of the hon. Member for Dublin in his remarks upon him, Colonel Perceval, the other night)—must be satisfied, and was satisfied, that the solemn denial of himself and his friends of the knowledge of the existence of Orange Lodges in the army was perfectly true. There was no low pothouse in Ireland, no place of public resort, where this paper was not read, and the slander which it disseminated under the sanction of the Government would make a proportionate impression on the people. He hoped his hon. Friend would persevere, and afford the Government an opportunity of either shielding the paper or repudiating all connexion with it.

Viscount Morpeth

observed, as to the paper in question being the organ of the Irish Government, that he begged once for all to disclaim any share on the part of that Government in carrying their opposition to their political opponents beyond the fair limits of public disagreement and causing it to degenerate into personal attacks. At the same time, he did think that if the Irish Government were to look about them, they might find, in other portions of the Irish press, much ground for recrimination. Even in a paper belonging to this side of the water, so humble an individual as himself had been made the subject of a lengthened and laborious parallel with Pontius Pilate, and yet he had not thought of coming down to the House to ask for protection.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he must really admire the heroism of the hon. Gentlemen opposite in despising the attacks upon them yet calling for punishment at the same time. This was true magnanimity. If they wished his side of the House to believe that they did not mind these attacks, that they did not deserve them, then he would say that they did not believe them, and ought not that to satisfy them? Aye, but it seemed they wanted exculpation first and vengeance after. He hoped the Post was not, as was said, the organ of the Government, for no one paper ever abused another more than the Post abused him. For many years its only trade was to abuse him. There was never a man better abused than he was. He would give any man thirty per cent. yet beat him hollow in the way of receiving abuse. But when the sensitive Gentlemen opposite complained of the abuse of the Post did they not read the Evening Mail and the Packet, which were at least as hearty in their abuse of him and the Liberal party as the Post was of the Grand Master, the Grand Secretary, and the Grand Treasurer of the Orange Institution—those three "grands." The Post had been sinking forty to fifty per cent. for abusing him and those who agreed with him, but this debate would give it at least 300 additional subscribers: and all this god-send to the Post would be through the favour of these offended "grands." Why, his friend, little Conway, would make money of these Orangemen, and his hostility would not be for nothing. It would be said, "Oh, the three "grands" of the Orange lodges are about to fetch up Mr. Conway to the House of Commons for an attack on the Orangemen, and we must stand to him. But at what time was all this importance to be attached to a squib? When the Holy Alliance was concentrating their armies—when Spain was blazing with civil war—when England was agitated—and the infernal machine was playing away at Paris. What was this mighty motion? Why, to fetch away little "Rundy-tundy Conway," so they used to call him—of No., Trinity-street, the father of nine children—before the British Parliament, for hurting the dignity of the three Orange "grands." But, to be serious, Gentlemen should take care how they made themselves judges and prosecutors at the same time. The liberty of the press was a serious thing to be trifled with. If there was a paper that might raise a London mob about their ears, then there might be some excuse in putting it down. But who could say that the Evening Post in Dublin could do mischief to the Parliament? The Gentlemen opposite might be good-humoured, and no doubt they were when they liked it. Now let them show it by forgiving Mr. Conway. The gallant Colonel said he had accused the gallant Colonel of being a sound-minded man. Now he never did: but he would now, if he interposed to withdraw the motion.

Mr. Twiss requested his hon. Friend to withdraw the motion.

Mr. Maxwell would persevere in his Motion.

Mr. Hume would divide the House on his Amendment.

The House, however, divided on the Motion for proceeding with the Orders of the Day: Ayes 58; Noes 18: Majority 40.

List of the AYES.
Adam, C. Ewart, W.
Aglionby, H. French, F.
Attwood, T. Handley, H.
Baines, E. Hector, C. J.
Baring, F. T. Hindley, C.
Barry, G. S. Hoskins, K.
Blake, M. J. Howard, P. H.
Barron, H. W. Humphery, J.
Bowring, Dr. Jephson, C. D. O.
Brocklehurst, J. Lynch, A. H.
Bridgman, H. M'Leod, D.
Browne, D. Morpeth, Lord
Brotherton, J. Murray, J. A.
Buckingham, J. S. Nagle, Sir R.
Chalmers, P. O'Ferrall, M.
Dillwyn, L. W. O'Connell, J.
Donkin, Sir R. O'Connell, M. J.
Duncombe, T. O'Connell, D.
Dunlop, C. O'Loghlen, M,
Dykes, F. Poulter, J. S.
Elphinstone, H. Potter, R.
Power, J. Villiers, C. F.
Pryme, G. Wakley, T.
Rice, Right Hon. T. Wallace, R.
Rolfe, Sir R. Walker, R.
Ronayne, D. Warburton, H.
Robinson, G. R. Wyse, T.
Ruthven, E. S.
Ruthven, E. TELLERS.
Smith, B. Ord. W. H.
Tancred, H. W. Smith, V.
List of the NOES.
Archdall, M. Rickford, W.
Bonham, F. R. Shaw, F.
Cole, A. H. Stormont, Lord
Dick, Q. Twiss, H.
Freshfield, J. W. Verner, Colonel
Gore, O. Vere, Sir C. B.
Gordon, W. Young, J.
Houldsworth, T. TELLERS.
Jackson, J. D.
Longfield, R. Maxwell, H.
Plunket, R. Perceval, A.