HC Deb 26 March 1835 vol 27 cc305-7
Colonel Verner

begged leave to make an explanation personal to himself. (After some opposition, the hon. Member was allowed to proceed.) He said, that an hon. Member opposite had objected to his being named as a Member of the Committee appointed the other night to inquire into the Orange Societies of Ireland. He did not clearly understand the nature of the objection, but he hoped it was not meant, by the hon. and learned Member, to cast any imputation upon his honour—for, though conscious of the purity and integrity of his own intentions, he could not allow even a supposed imputation to rest upon his character on the part of others. He was at a loss to know upon what occasion he had so misconducted himself, as to be pronounced, by the hon. Member for Tipperary, an improper person to take his place on that Committee. The only instance he recollected which afforded that hon. Member an opportunity of judging of his conduct was in a Committee last year, upon a subject which interested that hon. Member not a little, and he trusted the hon. and learned Member would do him the justice to say, that, upon that occasion, his conduct was not influenced by ungenerous or unfriendly feeling's, and that he joined in the decision of that Committee as heartily as any Member belonging to it. He had had the honour to present a petition from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, praying for an inquiry into the origin, nature, and principles of the Orange Institution. In the prayer of that petition he fully concurred; but he had hoped the inquiry would have been instituted before a fair and impartial tribunal—such, he must say, he could not consider the Committee appointed. He would repeat that that was not a fair tribunal—because some of its Members had already expressed themselves in such terms of the Orange Society, as to render them any thing but fair and impartial judges; and if the House would permit him to read one or two short extracts from the sentiments declared by some of the Members of that Committee, he had no doubt the House would concur in opinion with him. The hon. member proceeded to read the following extracts: Mr. Sheil said, in 1826, "We," the Catholic Association, an illegal body, "shall be masters of the representation of Ireland. We have already driven the faction out of their strong holds; and, improving upon our success—having acquired a confidence in our resources—having learned what union and organization can effect—we shall not have a single Orange representative in Ireland. Look, for example, to Louth—in forty-eight hours' notice we beat the whole Protestant aristocracy to the ground. I am not given to boasting, but this I may venture to assert—that, however unconnected with the county, I could, without any considerable exertion—nay, almost with the movement of my finger—have thrown Mr. Leslie Foster out of the county. I forbore to make any vigorous exertions against him, in the hope that he may turn the lesson which he has received to good account; but if he does not—if he is determined to bid defiance to the people—if he is dead to all admonition—he never shall represent Louth again. Mr. O'Connell wrote a letter to Lord Duncannon on the 30th August, 1834, in which he said, speaking of the Orangemen, "Their souls are so hardened in guilt, and so accustomed to the avowed desire of practical cruelty, that they do not affect to conceal their wishes to render Ireland once more a desert, and to irrigate her plains with the blood of her inhabitants. And again, in his letter "To the People of Ireland," dated 20th September, 1834:—"The Orange faction are, in point of intellect and understanding, the most deplorably degraded that ever excited the contempt or scorn of mankind." …… "Then, as to their moral qualities, what are they? The preaching up of wholesale proscription, massacre, and extermination. They call themselves Christians. They preach up doctrines almost too bad for the eternal enemy of mankind to suggest to human depravity. Bayonets and blood—bayonets and blood—form their texts and commentary Their laymen vie with their parsons in ruthless atrocity; and it becomes doubtful which of the two are the more ready to preach rapine, murder, and desolation. The infernal spirit of religious persecution reigns over the whole, and renders the Irish Orangeists the most depraved, as well as the most despicable of the human race. He begged to assure the House, that his only reason for desiring to be a Member of any Committee appointed to inquire into the Orange system, would be a persuasion, that his knowledge of the society and his long standing in it, might be rendered serviceable to the objects of fair inquiry. As to the Committee now appointed, after what he had already stated, he thought it almost unnecessary to say, that he strongly disapproved of its constitution; and that he could not expect from a tribunal, some of whose Members had expressed sentiments which actually made them parties in the trial, an unprejudiced inquiry or an impartial decision.

The question of adjournment agreed to.