§ Mr. Dillon Browne
said, that the question at issue was, whether the Irish were to be considered British subjects or not—whether they were to be stamped as inferior to Englishmen—whether they were to be trampled on and insulted. In what he meant to say on the subject he should make no personal observations, but should follow the course pursued by the hon. Member for Bath, whom he had heard with great delight. He should not take example by the hon. and learned Member for Bandon; neither should he adopt that held out by the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin; and, above all, he should not be influenced by that of the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal, who, with a delicacy not to be equalled, held up Mr. Hudson to the odium of the House on a charge affecting his character as a professional man and a gentleman, while he declined to disclose the name of the magistrate on whose authority he made the allegation against him. The real question before the House was, whether corporate reform was to be refused to Ireland or not? What plea had the opponents of the Irish people to withhold it? He was aware that it had been urged over and over again that corporations in Ireland would become normal schools of agitation; and he knew that the supporters of the measure were accused of improper motives. But while the enemies of the people of Ireland were refusing to celebrate the bans between the corporations and the Catholics of that country the delay gave birth to the fearful progeny of the National Association. He would ask whether even the normal schools contained more elements of agitation than that Association—those normal schools of which so much fear was affected? He would ask, whether they were more to be dreaded at their worst than the consequences of that denial of justice which at once converted a whole nation 296 into a society? He conjured the hon. Gentlemen opposite to grant corporate reform to Ireland this year for the same reason through the operation of which they refused it last year—to make the inconsistency of 1837 a boon and peace-offering to injustice of 1836. The other questions to be considered in connexion with the subject were the consequences of the National Association. There was an old aphorism, that knowledge was power. The people of Ireland knew it. With such knowledge, he would ask, was it safe or prudent to deny them their equitable and just rights? It might be said by hon. Members on the other side of the House that they despised the National Association, but he would beg to remind them that the same was said of the Catholic Association in former days. It might be said also that they would suppress it; but they would find the attempt as futile and as unsuccessful as they did that to suppress the Catholic Association. There was a great analogy between the two associations; indeed, the best idea which could be form-of the one would be by studying the history of the other. Before Catholic Emancipation was achieved, by the aid of the Catholic Association, the Irish Catholic was overwhelmed with misery, and sunk in political degradation. He could scarcely be called a rational being because he was deprived by the law of the means of education: he could still less be called a social being, for the prejudices of religion and the hatred of those in power prevented all association with his fellow subjects. At that time the system of the hon. Gentlemen opposite was in full force: while they were in the vigour of matured power and strength. How stood things now? The prejudices that beset one portion of the people of Ireland had vanished before the light of reform, and the hon. Gentlemen were powerless, and their system was overthrown. He would ask the House whether, if Catholic Emancipation were achieved under such disadvantageous circumstances, corporate reform could be refused, now that the people were conscious of their strength, in possession of knowledge, and, therefore, of power? How could justice be refused them now? He could not approach the discussion of the subject as calmly as he would wish. He felt the national feeling mantle in his cheek, and suffuse his brow with the blush of shame and indignation; 297 for had he not been called an alien, and had he not been held unworthy to exercise the power of self-government? He felt the brand of degradation deep on his forehead, and until corporate reform was conceded to Ireland, he should ever look on himself as a stigmatised Member of that House. There was a strange similarity between the obstinacy of those who opposed that boon to his country and that of their forefathers in the reign of Charles the 1st., and he conjured those who refused it to look over the archives of their ancient families, and take example by the lessons which history afforded them, when the House of Commons was declared the sole power of the State.
§ Mr. W. Roche
said: Permit me first to advert to what fell from a right hon. and judicial Gentleman, the Member for the University of Dublin, last night, respecting a near relative and esteemed friend of mine, Mr. O'Brien, of Elmvale, in the county of Clare, who the right hon. Gentleman stated was selected by the Lord-Lieutenant for the shrievalty of that county, notwithstanding his not having been on the judge's list of high sheriff's; and notwithstanding some observations of his at a dinner given by their constituents to the Members of (the right hon. Gentleman mistakenly said) the county of Limerick—but he should have said to those for the city of Limerick, namely, my hon. Colleague and myself, at which Mr. O'Brien presided, and at which entertainment (the right hon. Gentleman added) waved banners with—"Repeal of the Union," "Short Parliaments," "Vote by Ballot," &c., &c., inserted thereon. In the first instance one would suppose that this dinner was of recent occurrence, whereas it took place some four or five years ago, at a period when we had a government which, though not actually a Tory one, was unfortunately so far at least as regarded Ireland, imbued with and actuated by the most Tory principles, and which shortly after passed that most offensive and unconstitutional, because unnecessary measure, the Coercion Bill; unnecessary, because the laws, if actually put inforce, were quite adequate to suppress the outrages of the day without any such coercive enactment. What species of banners were exhibited on that occasion I certainly can not now call to my recollection, but I can call to memory that the 298 sentiments entertained by my respected friend and relative on the subject of the Union, tallied, I may say, with my own, namely, that though most assuredly we would prefer its repeal to seeing Ireland oppressed, divested of constitutional protection, humiliated or trampled upon, yet that we entertain an anxious hope this awful alternative may be averted by a happier change in the legislative and executive conduct of this country towards Ireland. Sir, that change has taken place, so far, at least, as it is not impeded by the injustice and perverseness of Gentlemen on the other side, and a corresponding: alteration has accordingly occurred in the feelings of the Irish people relative to their connexion with this country. To that connexion, Sir, and to the compact of union there are two parties, to which both are equally bound, or both are equally released. The spirit and purpose of that compact are—to give us equal laws, rights, and privileges, in fact, as it was said, to make Ireland a second Yorkshire of England; but has such been the practice or the result; or does this refusal of the municipal franchises granted to England and Scotland savour of that unity, that identity, and mutuality? Certainly not. But, Sir, we do not blame the Government nor the British people; we blame only a party, who recklessly look to their individual interests and perverse principles, in preference to the interests and happiness of their native land. But to return to my friend Mr. O'Brien, his shrievalty was a model of propriety, of dignity, utility, and ability, which can be testified by the Members for his county, and those of the neighbouring counties, and a better or wiser selection his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant never made. His politics are like his general conduct—temperate, dignified, loyal, and patriotic; and at a dinner very recently given to the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Limerick he was chosen by the citizens of Limerick to be their chairman. Now, Sir, let me proceed to the general subject of the present debate; and permit me first to say, that notwithstanding the plenteous censure which the Irish Association has experienced from Gentlemen on the opposite benches, I feel satisfaction and self-approbation in saving he belonged to it, and was one of its early adherents. Doubtless I should vastly prefer that the 299 body politic should be like the body natural, in a condition to be content with its ordinary aliment; but when it is not in that condition, when it is disorganised, and its functions do nut move in harmony, they must, however inconveniently and reluctantly, have recourse to appropriate and adequate remedies. Whenever, Sir, the general association becomes a subject of debate we may expect from the other side a continuance of vituperation and complaint, because it presents a formidable barrier and is a powerful adversary to those ungracious principles of exclusiveness, and those ungenerous pretensions to ascendancy, which have caused so much mischief to Ireland, and which, till extinguished or honourably laid down on the altar of concord and of country, will ever frustrate the best efforts for the improvement and the happiness of that land. So long as these untoward principles, these unkind and unjust pretensions, shall be cherished and asserted by the few, they will be, and they ought to be, resisted and repudiated by the many, and in the collision will Ireland be kept in a state of strife and commotion, and be debarred from the repose and advantages of tranquillity, of harmony, and prosperity. This Association, I say, is not the offspring of a supercilious or domineering spirit—it is the result of a dire and irresistible necessity—it grew out of injustice aggravated by insult; for Ireland was not only refused a co-equal share in the municipal privileges conferred upon England and Scotland, but that refusal was embittered by sentiments and language of the most exasperating kind, well calculated indeed to give reality to the charge of alienism so wantonly ascribed to us. Why, Sir, I say, if this Association had not started up and afforded a safe channel to the fermenting and festering feelings of the Irish people, woe to the peace of Ireland, to the peace of this country, and perhaps to that union which the predecessors of Gentlemen on the other side took such strides to accomplish—made such lavish but unrealised promises to effectuate, but which their conduct in refusing equal laws to Ireland tends so seriously to weaken and undermine. This Association uses no secresy or concealment—it is open as day to public observation—to the lynx-eyed watchfulness of its adversaries and to the immediate cognizance of the executive authorities, and, Sir, the 300 moment its avowed and just objects are attained, that moment will it be dissolved. I am unwilling to detain the House longer, but permit me, shortly, to refute an apprehension which forms the ground work of the arguments used on the other side against conferring upon Ireland those municipal changes, namely, that they would only give rise to a counter or Catholic monopoly. Why, Sir, I can assert, without travelling farther than The city I have the honour to represent, that there was as much zeal in procuring the return to Parliament of my hon. and Protestant Colleague as there was in procuring my own. The fact is, Sir, that they did not look to the complexion of the candidate's religion, but to that of his politics and general character, as has been demonstrated in several other places. As another indication, too, that no such apprehension is justifiable, I can mention, as I remarked on a former discussion of this question, that there exists in the city of Limerick a body of Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for the Municipal Government of the principal part of that city, and though these Commissioners are elected chiefly by Catholic rate-payers, yet a complaint never existed that anything but character, confidence, and esteem operated in these elections, and that for the amply experimental period of nearly thirty years. Sir, Ireland will continue, will be happy to continue, united to this country on terms of honourable equality, but to injustice or degradation she never will submit.
§ Mr. Lucas
said, that hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in this debate on the Ministerial side of the House, had placed the discussion upon a ground which he considered to be totally false—not false in principle, but false, as applicable to this particular question. That the Irish people were fit to govern themselves, was an abstract proposition with which, in the present debate, they ad nothing to do. The question at issue was, whether the Bill of the noble Lord would produce good or evil to Ireland, and, through Ireland to the British empire at large. He conceived the question was not to be put, abstractedly, whether the Irish people were more or less fit than the people of other countries to govern themselves. That was a mode of putting the question, indeed, which was popular in that House and still 301 more popular out of it, but which had nothing whatever to do with the question, whether the Municipal Corporation Bill for Ireland would be beneficial to the empire at large. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had left out of consideration what would be the real effect of this Bill in Ireland. It was a Bill for reforming Corporations. Now it was agreed on both sides of the House that the Irish corporations should be reformed; and the question at issue, at all events among most hon. Members, was, whether the plan which Ministers contemplated would be the most fitting reform or not. The only statesmanlike way of looking at that question was, by the real practical effects which the Bill would have. His opinion decidedly was, that however well the theory of the Government might look upon paper, that practically the establishment of corporations in Ireland upon the footing on which his Majesty's Ministers wished to establish them, was ostensibly (he did not use the word invidiously) intended to work one object, when, in point of fact, it would work another. It had the appearance of providing for the just and equitable government of certain of the borough towns in Ireland. That was the ostensible ground on which it was put forward; but it had been left totally out of the question (as far as the debate had gone) what would be the real practical effect of the Bill. Undoubtedly it was well understood that that effect would be to increase the power of the party who sat on the Ministerial side of the House, and to diminish the power of the party on the Opposition side. That was the real question at issue. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that the corporations in Ireland had hitherto been exclusively Protestant and in the Tory interest, and it was fit that they should now be destroyed, that argument did not extend to the species of reform contemplated. The reverse of wrong was not right. It was a strange species of justice to take power from one party and put it clearly into the hands of another. Upon that ground, he objected to the arguments and the propositions advanced on the other side. He would now advert to that subject which had been introduced into the debate by the noble Lord—he meant the government of Ireland, and the great Protestant meeting that had taken place in Dublin. That meeting he did not attend, and, therefore, 302 if he were so inclined, he might plead exemption from the consequences which might follow his joining in its proceedings. But he did not intend at all to relieve himself from that responsibility. He fully concurred in the sentiments of those Gentlemen who attended there; he was happy to be joined with them, and to stand with them, whatever might be the result. He had read those resolutions carefully, especially that which had been commented upon with great asperity in that House, and he must say, he did not think they deserved the reprobation which had been bestowed upon them. Without critically scrutinising the words in which the resolutions were drawn up, of which he was not cognisant at the time, he must say that he conscientiously believed that the patronage of the Irish Government and the prerogative of mercy had been exercised in a manner, injurious to the peace of the country, to the administration of its laws; and the stability of the British connexion; that persons had been placed in office whose principal recommendation, in some instances, had been the political opinions they entertained; and he did believe that the appointments so made had been the cause of the creation of fictitious votes, and greatly prejudiced the administration of justice. Supposing he had signed the resolutions containing these sentiments, he did not think that he ought to be catechised where, when, and how, this had been done. He thought, as a British subject, he had a right to express his opinion on these matters either in or out of Parliament. If he had a conscientious conviction that he was right in these sentiments, he was justified in expressing them either in that House, where privilege extended, or out of the House where there was no protection. If the expression of such sentiments were really to be suppressed, he was at a loss to conceive wherein the liberty of the subject consisted. He knew not what was to prevent any number of persons (whether Catholic or Protestant), who chose to meet in Dublin and express certain opinions, to consider the means of advancing them, embody them in resolutions, carry them to the House of Commons, and, if they thought fit, lay them in a loyal and respectful manner at the foot of the throne. He conceived all this to be conformable to what he had always understood to be the liberty of the subject 303 —to those privileges of British subjects which had never yet been denied—so that the resolutions and petitions were concocted in peaceable language, and accompanied with no acts of violence; and he was at a loss to understand how the noble Lords and the Gentlemen who entertained opinions opposite to those expressed in the resolutions he had referred to, could, consistently with the universal idea of the liberty of the subject, be justified in signing the protest which had gone forth under their names. The noble Lord, the Member for Leitrim, had last night claimed a right to express his opinions, and far be it from him to deny the noble Lord that right, whether in that House or out of it. But he did not think the noble Lord's reasoning just. The noble Lord agreed in the protest of the Peers and hon. Gentlemen against the Protestant meeting; whilst he denied the right of those assembled at the meeting to protest against the conduct of the Government. Nobody would deny the noble Lord's right to express his opinions. Why should the noble Lord deny the right of those who differed from him to exercise the same privilege? The noble Lord had referred to Mr. Cassidy. Now, of that gentleman he knew nothing, except what he had heard in that House. The noble Lord said, that it was no objection to Mr. Cassidy being admitted to the Commission of the Peace that that gentleman belonged to the National Association. But if that Association were one, the main object of which was to encourage, abet, and aid in the resistance to the law in the collection of tithes, and if Mr. Cassidy was known to have been an active member of that Association, then he certainly did conceive that he was an unfit individual to select for the administration of the law. He must have his preconceived prejudices, and the public could not fail to look upon him with distrust. The noble Lord said, Mr. Cassidy had a right to resist the payment of tithes, because he belonged to a class of persons (graziers) who were particularly aggrieved by its operation. If the noble Lord were to carry out his argument, it would be adopting a principle which neither British law nor the British constitution recognised. If because an individual thought he was aggrieved, or was, in fact aggrieved by a certain law, he should use the chicanery of the law, or enter into a combination to defeat that law, it was his opinion, that however legally justified, or 304 however respectable in private character, that individual was not a fit person to be selected for the administration of justice. He would put an opposite case. A large portion of the landowners of Ireland were aggrieved in a different way. The House would recollect that by the Bill introduced by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn) tithe was laid not only on the grass but on the woodlands of Ireland. The estates of a great part of the resident Irish gentry, who mainly entertained the opinions professed on his (Mr. Lucas's) side of the House, often consisted principally of woodlands. The Legislature had, indeed, for the last fifty or sixty years encouraged, by every means, the plantation of woods; yet the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman laid the burden of tithes on the woodlands—and though the owners of grazing land could, if they pleased, convert it into arable land, the case was different with regard to woodlands. But the Irish gentry had never complained. He took no credit to them for not complaining. They would have done wrong by objecting to sacrifice the paltry considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence, to the attainment of a satisfactory adjustment of the tithe question. But be was entitled to place the one case against the other, and say, that if the Irish gentry, the holders of woodlands, were not at liberty to agitate for their own relief, so neither was Mr. Cassidy right in agitating for his relief; and, as any government would have done wrong, in his opinion, to place a Protestant gentleman so agitating in the Commission of the Peace, the present Government could not be justified in placing Mr. Cassidy in that situation. In conclusion, he would say that he identified himself completely with the purport of the resolutions passed at the Protestant meeting in Dublin, and was but too happy to belong to the "miserable minority" described by the noble Lord opposite.
§ Mr. Hardy
would assert that Ireland was not fit for the municipal institutions proposed to be granted. It was a plausible argument, that Ireland ought to be admitted to equal rights with Scotland and England. If the population of Ireland were of the same description with that of Scotland and England, this position would be undeniable. But was there in England and Scotland an association established to resist in a rebellious manner, rights established by the Legislature? 305 The noble Lord called on the House to give equal privileges to Ireland; he ought first to call on Ireland to give equal obedience to the laws. It was said, that justice required the establishment of corporations. If the old corporations had abused their powers, justice required that they should be deprived of that power, but not that that power should be transferred to others who were equally likely to abuse it. It was very well to say, that the corporations would be open to all sects—could anyone doubt that the power would be entirely in the hands of Catholics? It was said, that the population of Ireland ought to govern themselves. Did they govern themselves, or were they governed? They had been called "hereditary bondsmen;" they were hereditary bondsmen. They were hereditary bondsmen to faction and to priestcraft. It had been said, that a refusal of corporations would be an insult to Ireland. No; if the corporations were useful to the Protestant cause, it was the Protestants that were insulted by their abolition; but they did not complain. They were willing that the corporations should be abolished, but they were not willing that all power should be transferred to their adversaries. The Government of Ireland had been praised. Why did the very men who said that this was the best possible Government form this Association? It was said, that the tranquillity of Ireland justified the giving of corporations. That tranquillity was specious and delusive—it was produced by terror. He would read them an extract from a paper—the Leeds Mercury. It was headed "Passive Resistance." It stated that there were 60,000 persons assembled to witness a tithe sale; that though the sheriff gave every assurance that bidders should be protected, no bidding was made. The multitude looked on silent and calm. Everything passed in dumb show, and at the conclusion the people dispersed in perfect quiet. This was the state of the law in Ireland. The sheriff was obliged to call out the posse comitatus, to enable him to execute the law; but that very posse comitatus, which ought to have assisted him in the execution of the law, was itself the great obstacle to its execution. Thus the officer appointed to execute the law was left in a slate of despair, among a crowd of between 40,000 and 50,000 men. He was overawed by the very persons on whose 306 allegiance he had a right to rely. He was menaced in the performance of his duty by the fear of death—not, indeed, directly threatened, but silently and indirectly implied. The vast assembly had stood calm but resolute spectators of this abortive attempt to enforce the law; but no one had dared to purchase—no one had had the hardihood to defile his hands with the materials of a levy for tithes. Yet all this passed unrebuked by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, who came down to that House and said, that if a small portion of the tithes were emitted, the remainder would be secured,—and who certainly, to the extent of that remainder, upheld tithes, and was bound to recommend the payment of that. But, whether that hon. and learned Member reprobated tithes wholly or partially, the title of the claimants of them was as good as the title of the hon. Member to his estate: he said, as good as the title of the hon. Member to his estate; for, whatever his title to the "rent" might be—and he would not dispute about it, for he did not understand that species of titles—the title of the hon. and learned Member to his estate was the best title be had. Why was it that the noble Lord did not extend the protection of Government to those who vindicated rights conferred on them by the law? Was it for the purpose of placing those individuals in a situation so helpless as to provoke outrage, and of converting that outrage into a pretext for destroying rights which were obnoxious, if not to the noble Lord, at least to those who had influence with him? If it was not, and if the noble Lord were sincere in his expressions of attachment to the Established Church, and his determination to uphold it, how came it that the individuals to whom he had alluded—men who were Protestants—learned, zealous, and pious Protestants—men bent on the fulfilment of their sacred mission—were now prisoners in their houses? Not only were their persons insecure, not only were their families enduring sufferings, but their very houses had ceased to be sanctuaries for them, having become marks for the incendiary;—and yet these men were said to "imagine" that they felt pain. What men felt when imagining pain, he did not know; but he certainly did think, that hunger was a pain not confined to the imagination merely. He did think, that the owners of tithes had shown that they 307 knew how to starve; and he did think, that if the noble Lord were to venture on the experiment of acquiring such knowledge, he would find that its pangs were not the offspring merely of a disordered fancy. Imagining pain, indeed! Was that the language to be used when speaking of men who were not merely obstructed in the performance of a duty enjoined by the law and commanded by religion, but were actually persecuted in proportion to the fidelity and earnestness displayed by them? Persons talked of legislating for Ireland, and to suit the views of Irishmen, he thought that the inhabitants of Ireland should display a capacity for obedience to laws before they attempted to prescribe them. Let the noble Lord come forward and say that tithes, so much at least as remains of them, shall be paid—let them be paid, so long as lawfully they could be claimed—let there be no quibbling resistance, no capricious adjectitive qualifying loyalty—and he would then be disposed to think that Irishmen were establishing claims to the consideration of that House, and proving that their discontent was of a nature not to be lightly regarded. But, so long as he found that various communities in Ireland, or rather various confederacies, usurped the power of the Legislature, and attempted to repeal existing laws, anticipating, as they hoped, their statutory abolition, standing up and flouting the Executive by forbidding tithes,—so long, he for one would not hesitate to declare, that the people of Ireland were not entitled to those privileges, were not entitled to that degree of self-management, which might, and was, safely and fearlessly intrusted to the people of England. No one was fit to govern, who did not know how to obey; and he would not be instrumental in arming the people of Ireland with a weapon which they would employ to distract their own country, and to annoy them. It was most easy to assert, as the noble Lord and his coadjutors were ready to do, that to confer the rights and immunities of Englishmen on their Irish fellow-subjects would be a proceeding of no danger; but how had they exercised the immunities they already possessed? Those immunities had been made the instruments of enforcing further claims, and of effectuating aspirations which it had been previously found convenient to disclaim. They had, in fact, been, from the 308 very first of the series down to the present—which he feared was not the last—fertile in mischief to the general interests of the empire, and the particular interests of Ireland. He therefore hoped that the House would seriously ask itself the question, whether the inhabitants of Ireland were fit to be intrusted with the powers which the noble Lord sought to invest them with?
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
would endeavour to avoid imitation of the very bad example set by the debaters of last night, for he neither liked their style nor their language. The question really before the House was, whether Ireland should be governed by the same laws as England; and it was most essentially the question; because, if Ireland were not to be so governed, not only ought the Emancipation Act to be repealed, but the Act of Union with it, for the situation of Ireland would be worse than it was before the Union. By their own Acts, in the year 1782, they had declared, that Ireland should be governed by equal laws with England. The same principle had long before been promulgated by a King who had gone over to Ireland to pass an Act; the same principle had been frankly assented to by one of the Henries. If, then, that principle was one which for years had been acknowledged to be fraught with sound policy by Englishmen, and one which to disregard, or rather not to enforce, would be mischievous in its consequences to Ireland, he could not conceive why the House should hesitate to adopt it. If his countrymen were not to have the benefit of English laws, then he must say, that their condition was worse than it had been before the Union; for then, if they had not English, they at least had their own laws; and, indeed, he could recollect an instance when an express recommendation to imitate English legislation, was given by the House to Irish senators. It had been said, that they had no right to form the Association which had been so vehemently denounced. Now, what had Lord Grey said, when, in the year 1792, he found himself compelled to despair of reform? He said, that he must appeal to the people; and that by meetings, and committees, and associations, that measure would eventually be carried. This was not said by an agitator—it was not said by a Member of that House—but it was said by a Peer, and a Peer pledged to "stand by 309 his order." If others met, if others confederated, why should not those who thought as he did, meet, and combine, and confederate? Why should not they retort on their adversaries the measures which had been employed against themselves? Those adversaries coerced them into associating; for those adversaries discharged over the land red-hot balls, which must necessarily rebound from the centre to the surface. The learned Sergeant had discovered, as he fancied, an Act of Parliament which would effectually suppress this Association—it was the Act of 1795, commonly called Lord Clare's Act. Now it turned out that Lord Clare's Act was directed against delegation, and that the Association which was so obnoxious had no delegates among its members. Was Lord Milltown a delegate? he would ask. Was any one member of it—for it would be idle to multiply names—a delegate? There had been men who said, that they would respect the Crown, were it even hanging on a bush. He did not wish to inculcate any new doctrine about the respect due to the Crown; but certainly he could not reconcile indignities offered to the Representative of the King with a feeling of respect for the Crown; and that indignities, such as he had alluded to, had been offered, must be manifest to the House from the language used last night respecting Lord and Lady Mulgrave. The learned Sergeant had been in England and in attendance at this House, at the time when the Association was first formed, for the 11th of May was the day: and why had he not denounced it then? He was in the chair at that meeting, and the first name on the requisition was that of Mr. Leyland Crosthwaite, a Protestant. Lord Miltown, another Protestant, though suffering from illness, attended, and Mr. Crosthwaite proposed the name of "Association." They then appointed two Committees, one for the registries, and one of finance; and they did so to satisfy the House of Lords that the people of Ireland would have justice done them. How, then, dare any man assert that members of an association created for the purpose of vindicating just rights, were rebels to their King and traitors to their country? But that Association was denounced because it had succeeded; because, through it, hon. Gentlemen opposite had been beaten; and because through it they would be beaten again. He 310 could tell them, that though the bells announcing their dissolution were not now tolling, their days were numbered. Why did not hon. Gentlemen say before Parliament those pretty speeches which fell so glibly from their lips at meetings of their own adherents? Why did they not repeat in that House the rhetoric of those assemblies at which they exhibited the customary tricks of those who wore orange coloured pocket handkerchiefs, and trampled on Lord Fitzwilliam, and trampled on the Duke of Devonshire, and trampled on the best men who ever held property in the country? Let them meet him and his friends face to face, and then attempt to vilipend the best friends of Ireland. The Association did not use its funds to harass plaintiffs in suits in equity; but it did employ its wealth to defeat the exactions of men who sought to recover more than was their due. And if the learned Sergeant knew anything of his own court, he would know that Lord Plunkett had declared that one defendant had been illegally imprisoned, and now had his remedies. The learned Sergeant, too, had attacked Mr. Pigott; now, he would say, that no gentleman had ever earned such a meed of praise from all parties as he had done in the county of Longford. And this the learned Sergeant should have recollected. When hon. Gentlemen challenged the legality of the Association, they should be wary lest they impeached their own title, for the origin of both was much the same. They both owed their existence to conventions, and he had never heard that conventions were illegal; that of 1782 at least was not. It was all very well to deny the expressions attributed to a noble Lord (Lyndhurst) which had excited such indignation in Ireland, but let them read the speech, let them sift its context, let them examine the internal evidence, and they would find that the people of Ireland were justified. That noble individual, and his imitators and followers, were the real repealers. Ireland was not the country, whatever England might be, to put the stamp of national indignation on the innocent and unoffending. No one was safe from the attacks of the learned Sergeant. Mr. Pigott was attacked, Mr. O'Loghlen was attacked, and so was Mr. Tighe, so was Mr. Cassidy, so was Lord Mulgrave, and so also, be it remembered, was Lady Mulgrave. Yes, Lady Mulgrave, in whose defence, if insulted, the swords 311 of the chivalry of Ireland would leap from their scabbards, as had been said of the bearing towards their Queen which another nation ought to observe. Why was Lord Mulgrave to be insulted by the absence of hon. Gentlemen from his court? An example of such disrespect had not been set by him when Lord Haddington was the representative of the King in Ireland. They had, however, attended to the registries, and he would state, the results for the delectation of hon. Gentlemen opposite. For Drogheda, they would have a new Member in the next Parliament, and in Athlone he was happy to say that a most satisfactory return would be made. He would not interfere with the dispute which must take place between the hon. Members for Belfast, as to which should retire; one, however, would. Longford he considered as settled, Sligo he bad great hopes of, Carlow they were now carrying without a contest, and in the county of Cork they would return one Member, and the learned Sergeant might make up his mind about Bandon. On the whole, they would gain seven in towns, and eight in counties, making fifteen votes, which, in a division, were equal to thirty. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen were pleased with the fruits of their labours; let them continue to obstruct the course of justice in its progress to Ireland, and they would next year reap a more plenteous harvest of them.
commenced by observing upon the extreme inaccuracy of the calculations made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and he would say, that if his promises with respect to the rest of the representation of Ireland were no better founded than with respect to Longford, he would have a very small account to render in any succeeding Parliament of a gain to his side of the House. The hon. Member had appealed to him to state his opinion as to the legality or illegality of the Association. If he could have ever entertained any doubt on the subject, the argument of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) was enough to banish any such doubt from his mind, as, without question, it had banished doubt from the mind of the House. In his opinion, any body of men uniting their efforts and applying their funds for the purpose of obstructing the execution of the law, and defeating the rights of property, must of necessity be an illegal association. The noble Lord 312 (J. Russell) had imputed to a large body of the Irish Members that they had brought forward charges against the Irish Government out of the House which they had never dared to bring forward in Parliament; and they had made these charges without evidence to support them. Was the noble Lord now of that opinion? Did he now think that "miserable, monopolising minority," as he had designated them, would not dare to bring forward these charges in that House? Did he now think there was no evidence to support them? Did the noble Lord now feel that it was an honour, as he declared a few nights ago, to be associated with Lord Mulgrave in the Government of Ireland—was the noble Lord willing now to be considered as a pacificator in all the strange proceedings which had been now established by irrefragable proof since the commencement of this debate? The only apology which he could find for the conduct of Lord Mulgrave was, that the noble Lord was said to be extremely fond of romance—and hence arose these wild sports of the west. Therefore it was, as he charitably presumed, that the noble Lord, on his tour, opened all the jails and discharged the prisoners, substituted the opinion of the jailer for that of the judge, and the authority of his private secretary for that of the Secretary for Ireland. He must say, that if he were in the noble Lord's place, he should deem it no honour to be associated with a person who had acted in that manner. But he should not go over the whole of the ground which had been traversed in this debate, but confine himself to a charge against the Lord-Lieutenant, which was a most serious one, and which he was the person who brought forward to the Dublin meeting—a charge, which, if he could not bring forward evidence to support, ought to cover him with shame and disgrace. He repeated that charge to the House, that the Lord Lieutenant had, in the words of the resolution, "been guilty of setting aside, in nine instances, in the course of last year, the fit and competent gentlemen nominated to the office of high sheriff in the constitutional and legal manner by the twelve Judges and the Lord Chancellor, and of an arbitrary substitution of others in their stead." He admitted all the seriousness of the charge, and he felt the full weight of the responsibility of the proof. About twenty years ago the sheriffs used to be 313 appointed on the recommendation of the county members, or if they happened to be adverse to the Government, the sheriff owed his appointment to the principal political influence in the county. No system could be more mischievous or more objectionable than this, and accordingly it was brought before the House by Sir John Newport, in the year 1816, upon a motion for a Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland. He described it as a radically vicious system—one which went to poison justice at its source. His right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, was then Secretary for Ireland, and at once yielded to the objection, and pledged himself to introduce the same system which existed in England. The present Lord Plunkett, then in this House, and sitting at the same side with Sir John Newport, declared his opinion that the Secretary for Ireland was entitled to the greatest approbation for what had fallen from him upon the nomination of sheriffs, and was sure it would be of infinite advantage to Ireland. The practice was then assimilated to that of England, and three names for each county were selected by the going judges of assize. These names were again considered by the Lord Chancellor and the twelve Judges; and if any objection appeared, a new name was substituted, and from this list, thus scrutinised, three names were finally returned to the Lord-Lieutenant, from which to select a sheriff for the en-suing year. A system better calculated to obviate the vice of the old practice, and to secure the appointment of sheriffs against the influence of political interference, could not be devised, and accordingly it had been found to work well, and had been approved of and upheld by all administrations, whether Tory, Whig, or mixed, which had since taken place in Ireland. He could not find, from 1816 to 1836, more than one exception to this rule, and in this case the Government selected a gentleman of opposite interests to the Government itself. But in that instance the Government acted upon a complaint made to it by a candidate for a county, that the list for that county was composed wholly of his opponents. The Government did not act ex mero meto. It acted upon a complaint, and only in the single instance; but here was Lord Mulgrave acting at his own instance—setting aside the recommendation of the twelve judges, and of his own Lord Chancellor 314 in nine counties—selecting, upon whose recommendation did not appear, nine gentlemen for the office, and passing over the twenty-seven names returned by the Judges and the Chancellor. He should not stop to inquire into the merits and demerits of those appointed or those passed by, though he was prepared to shew the unexceptionable character of the names returned by the Judges, and the extreme political partizanship of almost all those substituted by the Lord-Lieutenant. He arraigned him on the principle of his conduct—for having revived a system which one of his own Whig friends had described as poisoning justice at its source, and of having departed from one which another had declared would be of infinite good to Ireland. The noble Lord, last night, acquitted the Judges of partiality in the discharge of their duty; then why did Lord Mulgrave set aside their appointments? The Lord-Lieutenant had departed from a system the best calculated to secure impartial justice, and he had taken upon himself to establish a precedent, which, if it did not originate in corrupt motives, might lead, on the part of other Governments, to an arbitrary and capricious, aye, and corrupt mode of conduct. He arraigned the Lord-Lieutenant, therefore, for this departure from a great constitutional principle. The right hon. and learned Member then adverted to the case of Mr. Leigh, who received a notification that he had been appointed sheriff, but in the interim, between his appointment and Mr. Leigh's coming to the Castle, Lord Mulgrave was told that Mr. Leigh continued to belong to an Orange lodge, and therefore he was determined to revoke his appointment. Lord Mulgrave declared, in defence of this act, that he was determined not to appoint any person to the office of sheriff who belonged to any secret exclusive political society, opening the door wide to admit all appointments to gentlemen belonging to the National Association, and most guardedly and critically expressing himself so as to exclude none of the latter body. Lord Mulgrave subsequently admitted that he had been misinformed, and therefore he regretted that he made the statement, and accordingly he appointed Mr. Leigh high sheriff this year. But did not this show the mischievous principles on which Lord Mulgrave's government was conducted? Mr. Leigh was whispered out of his office. 315 He was condemned on secret information, and by the private suggestions of the Solicitor-General. Why not refer to the judges? Why was not Mr. Leigh himself asked the question? Then all would have been cleared up at once. When Lord Mulgrave defended himself in the House of Lords with repect to the rejection of Mr. Leigh, it was not known that he had acted in the same way with respect to eight other gentlemen. He hoped the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would be able to exculpate the Lord-Lieutenant from this serious charge. But the practical evil of this system was yet to be told. The duties of the office, it is well known, were performed in Ireland by the sub-sheriff. What were these duties? Returning the grand and petty juries at the assizes and sessions, executing all writs, levying all executions, enforcing distresses, presiding at elections, directing and heading the force of the county for the preservation of its peace. But in all these instances, except in presiding at elections the sub-sheriff was the acting person. He was especially the person on whose vigilance and fairness so much depended in the clergy obtaining their rights in cases of executions or distresses. They knew also that these individuals were not of that class of men, nor of that dignity or rank from which was expected that delicacy and strict performance of duly, which was looked for in the high sheriff. In many cases they were known to have abused the powers of the law in a most outrageous manner. He did not like to make sweeping and general charges unsupported by proofs, and he would therefore state to the House a particular instance, which was but one of many, and the truth of which stood on the records of the courts of justice in Ireland. The gentleman appointed in room of Mr. Leigh was Mr. Derinsey, and he nominated as his sub-sheriff Mr. Corcoran, an agitator in the county of Wexford. An execution, issued at the suit of the executors of the Bishop of Ferns for 25l., due for arrears of tithes from a person of the name of Sweetman, and the sheriff seized under the writ sixteen cows, twenty-five sheep, and a large quantity of other valuable property. The sub-sheriff, however, instead of proceeding to sell the property by auction, and raise the paltry sum of 25l., returned to the courts that the goods were in his hands, but for want of bidders he had not sold them. He thus 316 obliged the executors to wait until the next term, and to obtain an order upon the sub-sheriff to put the goods up by auction. The plaintiffs wished the sub-sheriff to bring the cattle to the town of Enniscorthy, where they could have an effective sale, but Mr. Corcoran refused to harass the cattle, as he termed it, by driving them there, the distance being five miles, but promised that he would hold a sale, on such a day, on the premises. The day before the clay appointed he held a mock sale, and returned to the court that he had sold the cattle and the sheep for the sum of 1l. An application was, however, made to the court against the sub-sheriff; the case was examined into on affidavits; the sub-sheriff was heard in his defence, and the court was so satisfied of the impropriety and collusiveness of his conduct, that they ordered him to pay the debt and all the costs. This, however, is but one instance amongst many, to prove the mischiefs resulting from the appointment of high sheriffs under Lord Mulgrave's system. If the noble Lord will allow a Committee to be appointed, his opponents will prove in detail abundant more instances, and shew that the administration of the law, the security of life and property, and the peace of the country, have been most seriously affected by the whole system of the Irish executive since Lord Mulgrave assumed the reins of Government.
§ Mr. Wakley
complained of the very irregular nature of the present discussion. The noble Lord on his side of the House, in the very excellent and admirable speech which he had made last night, had gone fully into the question of Irish politics, and had challenged the fullest discussion into it from the other side. In consequence, he did not complain so much of what had been done on the other side as of what had been done on his side of the House; but after the challenge which the noble Lord had thrown out last night to the Gentlemen opposite, he thought that if the accusations which they had brought against Lord Mulgrave were true, or if they believed them to be true, a feeling of justice and decorum would indicate to them, that if they did not dare to impeach Lord Mulgrave, when they said that they had in their possession proofs to support an impeachment, they ought not to pester the House again with such observations as those which they had recently addressed 317 to it. If they had grounds for their accusations, which he believed to be unfounded, but which they asserted to be substantially well-founded, they would be traitors to their country if they did not bring them specifically under the consideration of Parliament. The question of Irish Municipal Reform, which was the question really before the House, but on which scarce a word had been said since the commencement of the debate, appeared to him to he in a very narrow compass. He should not have said a word upon the subject, had it not been for an expression which had fallen from the lips of the hon. and learned Member for Bradford. That hon. and learned Gentleman had said, that if the people of Ireland were of the same description with the people of England and Scotland, he would not in that case refuse to give them the full enjoyment of municipal rights. The country had heard many comments upon an unfortunate expression used by a noble Lord in another place respecting the Irish being aliens in blood, in language, and in religion; but was it possible that that expression could be more offensive to the Irish nation than that which the hon. and learned Member for Bradford had that night applied to it? He asked that hon. and learned Member to tell him what he meant by the word "description," as he had applied to the people of Ireland. Surely the hon. and learned Member would admit that in physical constitution and in moral obligation the people of Ireland bore some resemblance to the people of England and the people of Scotland. Surely he would admit that the babes of Ireland sucked the breasts of women. Surely he would admit—
§ Mr. Wakley
As the hon. and learned Member denied the expressions, he was bound, of course, to accept his denial but he had taken down the words of the hon. and learned Member at the time, and he was happy to find that the hon. and learned Member did not mean them to apply in the sense in which he had taken them. He should therefore abstain from further remark upon them. If the hon. and learned Member had used them, he 318 would have only done that which his hon. Friends near him were doing, whenever they declared that the people of Ireland were unfit to govern themselves. If the people of Ireland were unfit to govern themselves, why was the Catholic Emancipation Bill passed, and with what hopes was it recommended to the favourable consideration of Parliament? Was it recommended as a measure of mere speculative legislation, to be kept and exhibited as a curiosity in an Irish museum? Was it a piece of trickery, devised by the framers of it, to keep themselves in office, or was it a measure which they really intended for the benefit of the people of Ireland? He would read the preamble to that Act, as it was calculated to throw some light upon the question he had just raised. That preamble was in the following words:—"Whereas, by various Acts of Parliament, certain restraints and disabilities are imposed on the Roman Catholic subjects of his Majesty, to which other subjects of his Majesty are not liable, and whereas it is expedient that such restraints and disabilities shall be from henceforth discontinued." The right hon. Baronet, Sir Robert Peel, cheered; he was glad to hear the right hon. Baronet cheer that sentiment. Now, if the civil restraints and disabilities on the Irish Catholics were removed, or were to be removed, why did the right hon. Baronet and his party refuse to them the advantages which this Bill was calculated to confer upon them? That was a plain question, and admitted, if they had the inclination, of a very plain answer. The Emancipation Bill indicated that all restraints and disabilities arising from religious opinions were to cease as soon as it became law. By that Bill you have admitted the gentry of Ireland to take their seats in this House. Will you, by refusing your assent to this Bill, deny to the middle classes, who inhabit the towns of Ireland, the means of administering their local affairs, merely because they are Catholics? If you will do so, a more galling insult was never inflicted, a more violent fraud was never practised upon a nation than that which you will inflict and practise upon Ireland. He could assure hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches that the course which they were pursuing in conjunction with the House of Lords was producing a deep feeling of indignation against them in the minds of the people of England. The people were now asking 319 why it was, that the course of legislation was so needlessly interrupted in both Houses of Parliament? They were also asking why these daily interruptions were given to their social harmonies—why the proceedings of Parliament did not advance as formerly in a quiet, a regular, and a concordant spirit? His answer to those questions was shortly this:—"The reason is because we have one branch of the Legislature irresponsible to any human tribunal, and, therefore, determined to pursue its own paltry objects in defiance of the wishes, and at the expense of the best interests of the nation. It was a mistake to assert that the National Association was the spawn of its own wrongs—it was the offspring, the natural yet legitimate offspring of the House of Lords, and of its mistaken policy. He implored the right hon. Member for Tamworth to shake off the lethargy which had oppressed him during the last week, and repeat the same acknowledgment which he had manfully made in 1829. "I have for years," said the right hon. Baronet, "attempted to maintain the exclusion of Roman Catholics from Parliament and the high offices of the state. I do not think it was an unnatural or unreasonable struggle. I resign it in consequence of the conviction that it can be no longer advantageously maintained. I yield to a moral necessity which I cannot control, unwilling to push resistance to a point which may endanger the establishments that I wish to defend." Now, with great humility, he begged leave to inform the right hon. Baronet that the same moral necessity to which he had yielded before, and which he had confessed himself unable to control, had arisen again. The will of the people of England proclaimed that fact in terms which could not be mistaken; and the House might depend upon it that they were ready to support the people of Ireland in their demands for justice. If the people of Ireland were denied these advantages which their different Municipal Bill had given to the people of England and Scotland, they would act wisely if they declared that the union of the two countries was a mockery, an insult, and a reproach, and that it should exist in reality or not at all. In conclusion, he observed that if the noble Secretary for the Home Department would continue to pursue the high and noble course on which he had entered on the preceding evening, he might depend upon 320 receiving from the people that support which would overwhelm his enemies with confusion and dismay, and which would obtain for England, and Ireland too, a full measure of justice.
§ Mr. West
As one of the persons who took a part in the proceedings of the Protestant meeting in Dublin, and who entirely concurred in every resolution passed at that meeting, hoped he might presume to address some observations to the House. The course which the debate had taken had, whether intended or not, involved him in some difficulty. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, had come down to the House a few nights ago, and in announcing his intention to introduce a very important measure had also expressed his determination to enter upon the subject of the resolutions passed at the Dublin meeting; and to open and discuss the whole subject of his Majesty's Government in Ireland. The noble Lord kept his word. Of a speech of great ability and considerable length, three-fourths were devoted to the motives and insignificance of that meeting, challenging proofs, and demanding contradiction upon matters which had little relevancy to the Bill about to be introduced, but which had a most important reference to the proceedings of that meeting, and to the conduct of his Majesty's Government in Ireland. What was the plain object of this? The noble Lord, either in a confidence in the strength of his own case, or in ignorance of the case of his opponents, hoped to introduce to the public notice a measure of very great importance, accompanied with such a popular impression as he trusted would be made by the history of his administration in Ireland. Then came the reply of his hon. and learned Friend. He knew not to what hon. Gentleman on the opposite side the duty of answering that speech was allotted—for that duty was still to be performed—that eloquent and admirable speech, which the candour even of his adversaries would admit presented a powerful case in defence of his friends, and a strong inculpation of the measures of his opponents. In this situation the hon. Member for Bath came forward, and with a sincere, or at all events a well-affected, surprise at the irregularity of the debate, expressing his astonishment that it was not strictly confined to the question of the Bill, undertook to deliver a very eloquent lecture to 321 the Representatives from Ireland at both sides of the House, not only upon the un-fitness of their conduct to the usages of Parliament, but also upon the grace and propriety of their gesticulation. And he would say that, as a moral teacher or an instructor in those graces that ought to accompany public speaking, the sentiments and manner of the hon. Gentleman were quite worthy of the character he had assumed. He had heard the hon. Member with sincere pleasure; and as the best proof of it, although he could take no part of the hon. Member's censure to himself, this being the first time he had ventured to address the House, he would most cheerfully pursue the course recommended by the hon. Gentleman, and avoid now, as he had ever done, those personalities which were as disagreeable to the Member who used them, as prejudicial to the character of that House. He would with great sincerity adopt the advice, as readily as he wished he could adopt the ability and the manner, of the hon. Gentleman. But the hon. Gentleman, having concluded his lecture by deprecating all further discussion upon extraneous subjects, put forth all his power in an effort to seduce the House from the true question of the night, in a speech which he should consider, if not intended, at least to be an extremely appropriate one for the second reading of the Bill. But he could not follow the hon. Member. He must rather endeavour to pursue the noble Lord; and, being fully aware of the vital importance of the measure itself, yet, feeling that another opportunity would arise for the discussion of that subject, he would at once proceed to a consideration of the charges which had been made against the Government of Ireland. And first, was anything ever heard like the attempt made to give an answer to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend? Of all the charges and all the proofs adduced by him, there was no allusion made in the reply of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny except upon three points—the appointment of Mr. Cassidy, the case of Carter, and the conduct of Lord Mulgrave in discharging the gaols of Ireland, and what was the answer to these cases? That the hon. and learned Member had not been aware of the conviction of Mr. Cassidy for resisting the execution of the law, and suspected it was not true; whereas an hon. Member, the son of the 322 Lord-Lieutenant of the county, was present to vouch the fact, and therefore there was no doubt upon that subject. The noble Lord, the Member for Leitrim, made a different case, and one not consistent with the doubts expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny. He rested Mr. Cassidy's case upon a sort of justification of his resistance to the law, on the ground of the unfair pressure of the tithe system on Mr. Cassidy, as an extensive grazier, and the noble Lord seemed to think that this resistance had no relation to the case of the Protestant clergy; but the noble Lord had wholly forgot one fact stated by the hon. and learned Sergeant—the payment by Mr. Cassidy into the National Association of the precise amount of his disputed tithes, as soon as he was appointed Magistrate, and this as the fitting amount and the fitting fund from which his contribution to that Association was to be made. Then as to Carter's case, no personal attack was made or intended against Mr. O'Loghlen. The inaccuracy discovered with so much profession of triumph in the hon. and learned Sergeant's speech was, that in a case where there were three abortive trials, the first, which might have gone off, as it did, by an accident, took place when Mr. Blackburne, not Mr. O'Loghlen, was Attorney-General. Now he was assured it was neither, that it was Mr. Perrin. But was it of the slightest consequence to the case which it was? The objection was this: that by the innovations, in doctrine and practice, by the present Government, a horrible crime had escaped detection and punishment, and a notorious convict was not prevented from placing himself upon the jury at the second trial, and by that means no verdict was had. It was a fact not yet mentioned, that when the jury, some of them Catholics, stated in open Court that there could be no agreement, by reason of the conduct of that same individual, a son of the murdered man applied to the Judge who tried the case to have permission to appoint his own counsel, to protect his interests. The Judge had no power—he referred it to the counsel who conducted the case for the Crown—an able and excellent man—but their rules or their instructions left them no discretion, and the application of the poor man's son was refused. And thus, from whatever cause, a crime, which had struck every human being with 323 horror and disgust, had gone unpunished—a disgrace to the country and to the administration of justice. And, lastly, what answer was given respecting the novel practice of discharging the gaols? An appeal to the character of hon. Gentlemen at his side of the House, to know whether, as men of feeling, they could find fault with Lord Mulgrave for an excess of clemency? The noble Lord (Lord Clements) here again took a different ground of defence, and seemed to justify the practice, inasmuch as the offences were insignificant, and the measure itself had, in fact, acted beneficially. But there were some Gentlemen in Ireland who certainly thought very differently both of the motives and the results of a proceeding unparalleled in the history of civil proceedings in these countries. He would read two letters upon the subject, written from different counties by gentlemen of honour and respectability, with whom he was acquainted. The first letter was couched in the following terms:—"Mullingar, Monday, Aug. 22, 1836. Lord Mulgrave arrived here to day en route to Longford, and remained an hour or two in the town. Previously to his departure he visited the gaol, from whence he discharged nineteen prisoners. What an encouragement to crime does this indiscriminate and culpable extension of mercy hold forth, and with what sentiment must it impress the lower orders in respect of the magistrates, juries, and judges, those who administer the law, and those who are appointed to carry its provisions into execution!" The second was dated "Longford, August 23, 1836. It said, His Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant arrived here to day. After receiving an address, he proceeded to inspect the barrack and the gaol, and relieved eight persons—upon instinct, of course—for he had neither time nor opportunity to consider their claims to the extension of royal clemency; but this act of mercy produced that for which it was designed, an uproarious shout for his Excellency from the assembled crowd." And would the House have the patience to examine the practical results of such a proceeding? His Excellency spent two hours in Mullingar; before he departed he discharged nineteen prisoners. Suppose he had given the whole of the two hours to that alone—what sort of examination could he have to make into the 324 merits and details of nineteen cases where there had been convictions? But there could have been little or none; and the case in Longford served to prove that his Excellency had neither time nor opportunity for examining into their claims for mercy. And what must be the effect on the future administration of justice? Any person acquainted with Ireland must know the difference experienced by the resident gentlemen acting as magistrates, in detecting the commission of crime, of securing the offender, and of bringing forward the proper evidence when secured. Yet, when all this had been gone through, the offender was, without merit and without cause, thrown back upon the neighbourhood which he had injured, to scoff at and taunt the magistrate who had but done his duty, and to tell the world there was a greater power than justice, that could and would dispense with it as administered by a country gentleman. And the juries, too, with all the inconvenience to respectable and proper men, of giving their attendance to the discharge of such a duty—their anxiety to search out and investigate the truth—how must they feel, if, at the next Assizes, similar cases, if not the very same individuals, should be brought before them? Could they possibly avoid feeling an indifference to the investigation of a case which might be decided by another progress of the Lord-Lieutenant, without any reference to the propriety or justice of their own decision. But to the judges it was worst of all. Hitherto it had been deemed of some consequence in Ireland to preserve in the minds of the lower classes a reverence and respect for those who administered the law and presided in its Courts of Justice. It was a beneficial thing that it should be believed and known, as it was, that mercy as well as justice was to reach the offender through their interference. Bound by their sense of duty, with such men an obligation as sacred as their oath, to do that which was right, and to do it mercifully, they had awarded the sentences and punishments assigned by the law to such offences; but the Lord-lieutenant not only gave the impression that they were wrong—that in the exercise of their office they were tyrannical—but he appeared to add the flagitious insult which he (Mr. West) could never believe was intentional by any British nobleman, of substituting for the bearer of the King's Commission in the adminis- 325 tration of justice as well as mercy—the keeper of the common gaol—to be the medium through which the merits of these malefactors were to be ascertained, and the prerogative of mercy to be administered. Did he exaggerate? Look to Colonel Yorke's letter, to the gaoler of Lifford—to another letter respecting Meath gaol, from which twenty-one persons were discharged. It was the same at Cork, the same at Tralee; and the only impartiality and justice which he (Mr. West) could see in the transaction was, that every county was to have its due proportion of vagabonds scattered over it—and that there should be no county in which the Judges should not be impartially insulted. But if the true object had been the quiet luxury of doing good, and enjoying the consciousness of a benevolent action, could it not have been suggested, if it did not suggest itself to his Excellency, that he might at all events have waited until his return to Dublin, and sent down those warrants for the discharge which were the only sufficient authority to the keepers of the prisons? And with respect to the prisoners themselves, if entitled to a pardon they ought to have had it properly. There was no man who was not bound by many obligations to society, and it might not only be important to the prisoner to have the legal consequences of his conviction completely removed, but there were many cases in which the public might have an interest in it. Take him as a witness for example. The public might have an interest in his testimony—the conviction rendered him incompetent. At common law, his pardon must have been under the Great Seal; but a late statute had given a shorter process of restoring the competency by warrant, under the sign manual of the Lord-lieutenant, backed by his secretary. Now, he should feel exceedingly glad to know in what manner any of the very able lawyers of the Association would set about pleading such a pardon as this, given in the many cases of felony and misdemeanour with which the several lists abounded. That the Earl of Mulgrave, being the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, came upon such a day, in a very handsome cap and feather—presented himself at the door of the gaol of Sligo—and then and there ordered the gaoler, who neither knew the Lord-lieutenant nor had any business to know him—to let loose the particular offender, which the gaoler did accordingly 326 without any further warrant. On the irregularity of such a mode of proceeding he need not enlarge—it had been confessed; for warrants were subsequently issued to legalize the viva voce proceeding under which those prisoners had been discharged. The necessity for its being so legalized could not for a single moment be disputed. If it were he was prepared with authorities at once to show that that necessity was of the highest order. He hoped that the House would not be alarmed at seeing a lawyer come before them with an authority, but he should only call their attention to one. The 7th and 8th of George 4th rendered it absolutely necessary that, in order to the restoration of the full rights of a convict, his pardon should be made out according to a prescribed form. Anciently, by the common law, it was necessary that the pardon should be passed under the Great Seal; at present, however, the Act to which he referred, permitted it to be done in a more convenient manner—it could now be completed by receiving the sign-manual of the Lord-lieutenant, with the counter-signature of the Chief Secretary. In granting pardons to any persons convicted of any species of offence there could be no doubt that conditions might be annexed to the grant of such pardon, as, for example, that the offence with which the prisoner stood charged, he should give security not to repeat. One of the convicts whom the noble Lord set at liberty, had been found guilty of an assault with intent to commit a rape, and he was discharged unconditionally. There were precedents enough to be found of proper warrants for the purpose. One, and not a very distant one in point of time, would be mentioned by a learned and hon. Friend; but he would venture to furnish another to the official and hon. Gentlemen at the other side, which might be useful hereafter. In the list of malefactors discharged from Sligo gaol, he perceived the name of one who had been sentenced to nine months' imprisonment for an assault, with intent to commit a rape. Something of a similar offence occurred in the reign of James 1st, and a pardon was granted, and the form of the warrant conveying the pardon was preserved. It would be found in the 2nd vol. of State Trials, 739, and a portion of it was in these terms:—THE PARDON OF SIR EUSTACE HARTE. "James Rex.—Omnibus ad quos, &c. salutem.—Sciatis, quod nos de gratiâ nostrâ speciali, ac ex 327 certâ scientiâ et mero motu nostro, pardonavimus, remisimus, et relaxavimus, ac per præsentes, pro nobis, hæredibus et successoribus nostris, pardonamus, remittimus et relaxamus, Eustatio Harte, de villâ de Southampton, militi, omnia et singula crimina et offensas, adulterii, fornicationis, et incontinentiæ, quoscunque per ipsum Eustatium Harte cum aliqâ muliere, sive aliquibus mulieribus, ante datam præsentem, ubicunque, quandocunque, quomodocunque et qualitercunque, facta, commissa, vel perpetrata." But as the law allows the King to annex any condition to his grant of a pardon, King James took care to annex a condition here. It will be found on a reference to the warrant that Sir Eustace Harte was to commit no more offences of the same kind. But times were changed. The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland took no such precaution—and the Sligo offender had gone back to society incapacitated in his civil rights—incompetent to give testimony in a Court of Justice—and, through the excessive clemency of Lord Mulgrave, competent to nothing but the unlimited commission of such offences as it might be his will and pleasure hereafter to indulge in. But this reminded him of a more serious matter. In many of those cases where offenders had been discharged, the Judges had thought it proper not only to punish the crime but to exact a security for the public. Had bail been taken in all or any of those cases, when the sentence of the court required it? And if not, then, however, it might please or amuse the Government of Ireland to dispense with the penalty affixed to the crime, it was hardly discreet to abandon, without any consideration, the security which was the right of the public. Another subject he had intended to discuss, and a most important one, as it was felt in Ireland, namely, the interference with the appointments of sheriffs; but his right hon. Friend (Mr. Lefroy) had gone so fully into it that he would only mention a single case. Three names were returned by the Judges, in the usual way, for the county of Clare, for 1836, Edward Fitzgerald, of Carrygawan, Esq.; Francis Gore, junr., of Tyreclough Castle, Esq.; Michael Morony, of Melton Malbery, Esq. They were all Protestants, and no Orangemen amongst them. On the 11th of January, 1833, the following appeared in the Limerick Evening Post, a paper in the liberal interest;—"On Tuesday evening 328 the return of our popular Representative was celebrated by a public dinner at Swinburne's great rooms. John O'Brien, of Elm Vale, Esq., in the chair." At that dinner a flag was hoisted, on which these words were inscribed, "Repeal of the Union, Abolition of Tithes, and Vote by Ballot." This dinner took place on the 9th or 10th of January, 1833. It was hardly necessary for him to remind the House, that at that time, the hopes of those who desired a Repeal of the Union were at the highest, and by many of them serious expectations were entertained that the proposition for such repeal would be successful. He should now read a passage from the speech made by the Chairman on that occasion, respecting which he should not then make further observation than to say that it had in effect been adopted by the present Government:—"Politics and religion have been alternately the cause and pretext of our national subjugation, and a rapacious oligarchy, sustained by a foreign power, has long oppressed a degraded and impoverished people. The Repeal of the Union has become the war cry of the people, and its recognition, in principle or modification, the criterion of the popular candidate. In the spirit of what I have said, I give you, 'The repeal of the Union.'" Shortly after the delivery of that speech, three names were returned to the Lord-lieutenant of gentlemen competent to fill the office of High Sheriff for the County of Clare; no objection, even upon political grounds, could be urged against them; but, nevertheless, the same Mr. O'Brien who had presided at the dinner given to Messrs. Roche, was appointed High Sheriff of Clare. He desired to ask who were the Ministers of the Crown when these proceedings took place? Certainly, Lord Melbourne was not the Prime Minister, but with hardly an exception, the present advisers of his Majesty were the identical individuals who then filled the Cabinet, Lord Melbourne being Home Secretary, and therefore very intimately connected with the administration of affairs in Ireland. It was most remarkable that the Ministers should have advised the King, within a very short time after the dinner at Limerick, to address Parliament in these words:—"I feel confident that to your loyalty and patriotism I shall not resort in vain in these afflicting circumstances, and that you will be ready to adopt such measures of salutary precau- 329 tion, and to intrust to me such additional powers, as may be found necessary for controlling and punishing the disturbers of the public peace, and for preserving and strengthening the legislative union between the two countries, which, with your support and the blessing of Divine Providence, I am determined to maintain by all the means in my power, as indissolubly connected with the peace, security, and welfare of my dominions." And did all the then Ministers concur in the nomination of Mr. O'Brien and other proceedings of the same nature? No; not at all. The hon. Member for Bath pointed to these benches, as he supposed that some hon. Members had changed their opinions. Who had changed their opinions? And it was with sneers like this, that hon. Members endeavoured to console themselves for what in their hearts they regretted. The loss of two men, who, in the universal estimation of the country, had carried with them, from the bench which they no longer occupied, a great part, if not the whole, of its genius, and a very considerable portion of its integrity. With respect to the Assistant Barristers, he was unwilling to say anything respecting the gentlemen whose names had been mentioned; and the more so, as one of them had been in some degree engaged against himself. The hon. and learned Gentleman then proceeded to notice the appointments conferred by the Government of Ireland, upon Messrs. Pigott, Hudson, Gibson, and Green, censuring the conduct of the Administration, but speaking in terms of the highest respect of the above-named gentlemen. With Mr. Pigott, and, as we understood, with the other gentlemen he had the pleasure to be acquainted. Mr. Pigott was a member of the General Association, and was also distinguished by having become an object of the patronage of the Crown. It was therefore to be inferred, that his views of Irish politics coincided with those of the King's Government. It was necessary that the Bills for the recovery of tithe should be signed by a barrister. It happened that some of those Bills bore the name of Mr. Pigott, and this gave rise to some proceedings in the General Association, a report of which appeared in the Dublin Freeman's Journal of the 6th of January, 1837, and a passage from that report he should, with the permission of the House, now read:—"On the list of 330 Counsel who had signed pleadings in the Court of Exchequer being read, Mr. Redmont said he felt that these signatures had been affixed through want of thought for the Monarch. The name of one gentleman appeared on the face of the list which they had just heard read. Now, it was a fact, that at the commencement of this Association that gifted individual had given all the aid of his sensible and powerful mind in its formation, and in advancing it to that proud and permanent station which it holds at present. He had proved himself one of the most useful, the most active, and most zealous supporters it had; that gentleman was Mr. Pigott." The Administration of the country was the same when Mr. Pigott had the fortune to become an object of its patronage as at the present moment. After what he had heard from the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on the subject of perfect unison amongst those connected with the conduct of public affairs, after the censure pronounced against anything like disunion or discordance of sentiment, he should say that the strongest ground had been furnished to presume that there subsisted no differences between the noble Lord opposite, and that learned "individual who had given the aid of his powerful mind in the formation of the General Association," who was "one of the most active and zealous supporters it had." He knew it to be extremely probable that if that question were put in another place, the present head of the Government would deny a community of feeling with Mr. Pigott on the subject of the General Association; but what he desired to know was, did the sentiments of the noble Lord opposite accord with those of Mr. Pigott? Opinions had in the course of the present discussion been pronounced on the legality of the Association; on that subject he did not hesitate to pronounce his view of the question—namely, that it was an illegal body. It was the illegitimate successor of the Catholic Association; and. in that House Mr. Canning had pronounced an opinion upon that body well worthy of being remembered. His words were—Is it (asked Mr. Canning,) possible that any man loking at an association of this nature—at the means, the power, the preponderance of which that association is acknowledged—nay, is vaunted to be in possession—at the authority which it has arrogated, and at the acts which it has done— 331 can seriously think of giving stability, and permanence to its existence? Self-elected, self-assembled, self-adjourned, acknowledging no superior, tolerating no equal interfering, in all its stages, with the administration of justice, denouncing publicly before trial individuals against whom it institutes prosecutions, and re-judging and condemning those whom the law has acquitted—menacing the free press with punishment, and openly declaring its intention to corrupt that part of it which it cannot intimidate; and, lastly, for these and other purposes, levying contributions upon the people of Ireland. Is this, Sir, an association which from its mere form and attributes (without any reference whatsoever to religious persuasion) the House of Commons can be prepared to establish, by a vote, declaring it not to be inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution? When I speak of the representative character of the Catholic Association, I do not mean to assert that it has ever affirmed itself to be the representative of the people of Ireland. No such thing. It is too wise in its generation to hazard so impolitic a declaration. If it had done so, it would have been unnecessary to argue the present question, for no new Act of Parliament would in that case have been necessary to enable the law to deal with it But, Sir, although the Catholic Association has not openly assumed this representative character, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that such a character has been attributed to it by others; and if notoriety be, as undoubtedly it is, a ground upon which legislation may be founded, the repeated statements which have been made in this House during the present debate, that this association is, and is held to be the virtual representative of the people of Ireland, call upon the House to consider whether such an association can co-exist with the House of Commons.Those were the opinions of that eminent statesman. They were in perfect accordance with the opinions of the lawyers who at that time delivered opinions upon the subject, and they applied with as much force to the association which existed in that day, as to the body now in the habit of assembling in Dublin. Some allusion had been made to the state of certain constituencies in Ireland, and amongst others, to that which he had the honour to represent. Each hon. Member could speak with respect to his own constituency, but so far from its being a fact in his (Mr. West's) case that there was a majority of 250 against him, there was when he came away a majority of 655 in his favour. If he were to found his expectations of success upon the past registry he was confirmed in this view; for upon the first day of the registry his hon. 332 colleague and he had secured a majority of seventeen votes. There was a point to which he begged to direct the attention of the House—a point which, he believed, had not hitherto been adverted to during the progress of the debate. The dictation of the appointment of magistrates had never been assumed to itself by the old Catholic Association. He could not say the same thing of the new association. During Lord Melbourne's former Government of Ireland the law extended a portion of its protection to a very deserving class of his Majesty's subjects—he alluded to the Protestant Clergy of Ireland. At that period antitithe meetings were in the habit of being held. At some of those meetings Gentlemen in the Commission of the peace attended; and some of them, too, were presided over as he believed, by hon. Gentlemen, Members of that House—he alluded to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Westmeath, and to another hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny County (Colonel Butler). There was, he believed, a third hon. Gentleman the Member for King's County; and all these hon. Gentlemen had been, as he understood, dismissed from their situations, whether of justice of the peace or deputy-lieutenant, in consequence of their having attended at those meetings. They were dismissed by the Chancellor of Ireland.
§ Colonel Butler
rose to order. He had not been dismissed by the Chancellor of Ireland. He had himself resigned. The Lord Chancellor had called on him for an explanation, which he declined to give, and his resignation was the consequence.
§ Mr. West
In whatever mode the hon. Gentleman's resignation took place, the fact of his resignation, and of the Lord Chancellor having called on him for the explanation, was sufficient for his argument. It was, at all events, certain that the party with whom the hon. Gentleman acted had very generally expressed a desire to have him reinstated. On the 26th of August last, in the National Association, Mr. Finn observed that, "It was with great pleasure he proposed, as a member of the Association, the hon. Colonel Butler, who was one of that Mountgarret family whose blood had been shed in the field, or upon the scaffold, to support the rights of Irishmen. He was properly known as the poor man's magistrate, and he would tell Lord Plunkett that he was depreciating the character 333 of the Irish Government. The hon. Colonel should be immediately reinstated in his office; and some broad hints should be given to Lord Plunkett, who, by his present line of conduct, proved himself to be an incubus on Lord Mulgrave's Administration." Such was the language, which had been received with shouts of approbation at the Association; and he believed he was right in saying that the hon. Gentleman who formed the subject of those comments, was reinstated in his office almost immediately after. Could it be denied, that in the National Association that re-appointment had virtually originated? The hon. Gentleman then quoted from a newspaper, which he designated as a Government organ, a passage which had appeared in it a few months since, and which described Ireland as in a state of "permanent agitation over six-sevenths of its superficial extent." He next adverted to the Irish Government Gazette, a copy of which for the year 1836 was in his possession. From this Gazette, it appeared that no fewer than 290 proclamations, respecting outrages of the most enormous description, had been published therein during the twelve months to which he alluded. Nothing but outrages of this description found their way into the Irish Gazette. Of the proclamations to which he had alluded, seventy-one were for actual murder. Of burnings the number was nearly equal. The catalogue of crime which this Gazette contained was altogether frightful. In any other country of the earth but Ireland such a catalogue would be alarming. In that country it was but a matter of every day recurrence. The Gazette of the last month, which he (Mr. West) had at that moment in his hand, contained so many as twenty-eight proclamations, respecting outrages of a similar description. Of these twelve were for murders; so that instead of seventy-one, as in the preceding year, if the average of that month were taken for the entire year, the number of these grievous crimes would amount, at the expiration of the year, to 144. And yet Ireland was asserted to be at the present moment in a state of unparalleled tranquillity. Why, there had not been a smaller sum than 15,000l. offered in the Gazette for the discovery of crimes during the past year. The general average of these sums might be judged from the fact that, in the case of James Walsh, of Winford, who, while standing peaceably at his 334 door, was maliciously shot at, and wounded in the head and shoulder, the sum of 30l. was offered for the discovery of the offender. The House would thus be enabled to judge how multifarious must have been the offences with reference to which such a sum as 15,000l. had been offered in the shape of rewards. But, as a set-off to the 30l. offered in the case of Walsh, it was right he should observe that a sum very little less in amount, the sum of 25l., had been offered for the discovery of the perpetrators of the serious offence of shooting a priest's dog. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had talked of imaginary maladies; he had quoted from the Spectator a passage about a man who, by dint of perusing medical treatises, had read himself into the conviction, at one period, that he was the victim of gout, and at another of asthma. He had further said that the Protestants of Ireland had all the apparent symptoms of aggrievement without any of its pain. He would state a case which would afford a satisfactory comment upon the noble Lord's excessive jocularity. For the accuracy of the statement he was going to make he could vouch, for it had fallen within his personal observation. In Galway county there resided a clergyman of the church of England, named Ayre. With Mr. Ayre be had the honour of being personally acquainted. There was no more respectable Gentleman in his private capacity; nor could any clergyman be found who in his character was more totally unexceptionable. The family to which he belonged, was, moreover, as respectable as any in Ireland. That clergyman had accepted an invitation to dine some months since with a friend in his neighbourhood. Some trivial occurrence providentially prevented him from fulfilling the engagement. Upon that very evening a gentleman, named Doyle, an attorney, was returning by the same road which the clergyman would have taken, had he accepted the invitation, upon returning homeward. Mr. Doyle was accompanied by his wife upon a jaunting car, and was stopped upon his journey by a number of armed ruffians, many of whom were mounted, and who demanded of him whether he was not Mr. Ayre. After satisfying themselves that Mr. Doyle was not the person whom they sought, they suffered him to proceed. He had not proceeded far, when he was 335 stopped a second time by another party, equipped as murderously as the first. Again he was suffered to depart, his identity with Mr. Ayre having been denied and disproved. What, he would ask, was the object for which this second party was congregated? Doubtless, they anticipated the possible circumstance of Mr. Ayre's escaping unscathed from the toils of the first waylaying party. Mr. Ayre, however, had escaped; need he say, how providentially? But, finding how insecure was his life, and being obliged, notwithstanding, to remain in that part of the country for a living, he did that which was alone possible to secure a provision for his helpless young children. He attempted to effect an insurance upon his life. How was his application received? He held in his hand the copy of a letter which that rev. gentleman had received upon Saturday week last, the very day before he left Ireland. The letter was one of refusal, and was written to the following effect:—"The Directors of the Fire and Life Insurance office of Parsons-town were unwilling to risk an insurance upon the life of a clergyman belonging to the Established Church in the present state of Ireland, and Mr. Ayre was therefore requested to receive back the amount of his remittance." The letter was signed by Mr. Hassard, the agent to the company. To the honour of the efforts of the agitating association, be it told that this poor clergyman was unable, in consequence of the disturbed state of the country, to effect an insurance upon his life, no matter at what rate of interest; and his children were, therefore, left without the prospect of this friendly assistance. Why should the Conservative party of Ireland, who sought to sustain the injured clergy of the Established Church, in their efforts to collect their legal means of subsistence, be called "a miserable monopolising minority?" Why should the noblemen and gentlemen who had attended the late Protestant meeting in Dublin be so described? Had the noble Lord who had used that expression been present at that meeting, and witnessed the numbers and the high respectability by which it was attended, it was impossible that his candour could have permitted him to indulge in such a description. Not only had a large number of the resident nobility of the land been present at that meeting, but it had been 336 attended by not fewer than 1,200 magistrates. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Roscommon, had alluded to him, in connexion with that meeting. But he had no hesitation in asserting that he had not uttered at the meeting a single sentiment which could have given offence to a single human being. In the course of his experience he had met in Ireland with many Roman Catholic Gentlemen, upright, honourable, and generous in their disposition—men who had been at all times ready to extend the hand of good fellowship to their Protestant fellow-countrymen. He was sorry to be obliged to say, that the number of those Gentlemen was daily diminishing, through the efforts of the Association. There was one point in support of the justice of the motives by which the Conservatives of Ireland had been actuated in their late proceedings, which had not been hitherto adverted to in the debate. There was an Irish gentleman, well known to many hon. Gentlemen opposite—he alluded to Mr. Naper, of Loughcrew, in the county of Meath, who was, as every Gentleman in the House who knew him would admit, as respectable by his conduct throughout life as he was in point of fortune. Mr. Naper was as honourable a gentleman as any in Ireland. Having been to a certain extent identified with the politics of the Gentlemen who sat opposite, Mr. Naper, on being invited to attend the great Potestant meeting, expressed his disinclination, on the ground of the possibility of his attendance being interpreted into inconsistency. Mr. Naper's reply to the letter of the Marquess of Downshire contained such a testimony to the justice of their cause, that he could not refrain from reading to the House the following passage:—There was no measure of the present Government which I was more inclined to approve, for their tact and policy, than the manner in which they succeeded in doing away with the Orange societies of Ireland; at the same time, I must consider that the constitutional and manly way in which those societies, by the advice of their leaders, met their wishes, 'has been anything but fairly acknowledged or requited.'A society has been permitted to raise itself, as it were, upon their ruins, whose avowed objects and policy must, in my humble opinion, eventually destroy the Government itself—a Government which they affect to extol, but which they clearly show, by, their own conduct, they most heartily despise 337 as composed of men who dared not take up those measures which they have declared can 'alone effect perfect justice for Ireland'—measures which there is too good reason to fear would eventually put an end to the religious and civil rights of the Protestants of this country—rights which I lament to see the feeble policy of the present Administration seems 'ashamed to destroy, but afraid to defend.'These are no times for half measures. I have read your address with attention, and think the unjust and ungenerous conduct of Mr. O'Connell and his followers towards the Protestants of Ireland fully bears out the prayer of your petition, to which I beg you will subscribe my name.Faithfully yours,JAMES L. W. NAPER.The Marquess of Downshire, &c.The hon. and learned Gentleman sat down when he had finished reading the letter.
§ Viscount Morpeth
addressed the House to the following effect:—As the matters of charge alleged against the conduct of his Majesty's Government in Ireland, especially in the course of the present debate, have not been freely and spontaneously brought forward, but have been dragged forth by the speech of my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department; as my noble Friend in that speech addressed himself to the conduct of his Majesty's Government in Ireland, and the principle on which that conduct had been founded; and as holding the situation which I have the honour to hold I may not be considered a fair and impartial judge upon that question, I would willingly have avoided obtruding myself on the attention of the House on the present occasion. But, at the same time, so many things have been stated here and elsewhere (some of which, however, I shall hardly think it worth my while to stoop to notice), that, placed as I am with reference to the Government of Ireland, I cannot permit myself the indulgence of complete silence. I must also so far presume on the patience of the House as to observe, that whereas the speech of my noble Friend rested upon general and broad principles, and dwelt on large and important results, and was mainly encountered by isolated cases and minute details, I feel that in the situation which I have the honour to fill I may be compelled to go more into those cases and details than the House would expect any other Member to do. Sir, I have been twitted by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin with having; taken time since 338 the opening of the debate to prosecute my researches into the materials which I might consider it necessary to use in the course of it. It is surely no very great novelty that a person whose conduct, and the conduct of the department of the Government with which he is immediately connected, are arraigned, should suspend his observations on the subject until he ascertained the bulk of the accusations which it was intended to prefer. Indeed, if I had spoken last night, I should have missed the opportunity of adverting to the lucubrations of the hon. and learned Member himself. At all events, it cannot be alleged that I have taken much time to prepare my reply to the charges which have been brought against me. My noble Friend was immediately followed by the hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Brandon, in a speech which was undoubtedly distinguished by great ability, coupled, however, with an acerbity which is but too common in the hon. and learned Sergeant's effusions, and which prompts him to attack the character, the honour, and even the religion, of those who are opposed to him. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin who has also made a speech of great talent, charges this side of the House with attempting to fasten odium upon individuals, and with indulging in personal imputations. But does not the declaration of the hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandon, that no Member of the same profession as himself could hold office under his Majesty's present Government without degradation and disgrace, savour somewhat of personal imputation? Did not the hon. and learned Sergeant's expression, when he spoke of the Protestant members of the National Association, that they were persons "calling themselves Protestants," seem like a personal imputation? The first point o the attack of the hon. and learned Sergeant was directed against the rule established by the present Master of the Rolls in Ireland when he was Attorney-General, respecting the setting aside of jurors on criminal trials. The hon. and learned Sergeant admitted that this circumstance involved no imputation on the character of the Master of the Rolls, but maintained that it greatly impugned his discretion. In answer to this charge I will read an extract of a letter from Mr. O'Loghlen written soon after the establishment of the rule, and giving an account of its opera- 339 tion:—"I observe that they allude in the Address to the system of not setting aside jurors in criminal cases. If the subject shall be mentioned in Parliament, official returns (some of which were sent to the Home-office after the last circuit) will prove that the course pursued has worked well. There were more convictions under the new system, in proportion to the number of cases tried, than under the old. It has given to the people a confidence in the administration of justice which they had not when jurors were selected by the Crown, and juries in effect packed. The rule made by him did not prevent the setting aside of any juror to whom any reasonable or fair objection could be made, but merely directed that the Crown Solicitor should not set aside a juror, merely on account of his religious or political opinions." Sir, I can easily imagine that this general rule (like all general rules) may be attended with partial and occasional inconvenience. But it is a matter of great gratification to find that upon the whole this rule is not only right in principle, but has been successful in practice. Another prominent ground of complaint on the part of the hon. and learned Sergeant, and of some hon. Members who followed him, is the manner in which the prerogative of mercy has been exercised by the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, on the occasion of his inspecting the gaols of that country. Sir, it is an inconvenience, that when any specific charge of such a nature is suddenly made, I have not the means of immediately laying my hands upon the documents which would enable me to answer it, when I am not accurately informed of the circumstances of the case. I do not complain of this: it is the inevitable consequence of the discussion, which I admit we on this side of the House have provoked and compelled. However, I will make a few statements with respect to the rule which I believe has guided the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government on this point; and if it should be objected to, that those statements are not satisfactory, I can easily obtain the means of affording a full explanation on the subject. Since his first visit of inspection to the gaols, it has been the Lord-Lieutenant's invariable practice also to inspect all institutions supported by the public money. On his visits to the prisons my noble Friend is in the habit of receiving reports on three distinct points, From 340 the local authorities he receives a report on the conduct of the prisoners during their confinement: from the medical men he receives a report of the state of their health: from the neighbouring gentlemen he receives a report of their previous character, and of the probability of their amended conduct. In the county of Tipperary, last summer, the noble Earl went farther on this subject than he had previously gone. It is well known that that county has the bad eminence of being distinguished by outrage and disturbance. It has been intimated that the feuds and factions of the Gows and the Poleens in that county have not met with sufficient discouragement from the surrounding magistrates, who have been influenced by the mistaken logic that when parties fall upon one another they will refrain from falling on any third party. Such a supposition exhibits a great ignorance of human nature—a great ignorance of the fact that when men are accustomed to acts of violence and steeped in blood, their fury is easily turned into any new direction. The inhabitants of the county of Tipperary responded in a remarkable manner to an urgent admonition which the Lord-Lieutenant addressed to them on the subject; several thousand copies of which were distributed in the county. An association was formed in the county for the express purpose of suppressing the outrages and disturbances complained of. At the sessions for the county the law was administered with great vigour by Mr. Howley, the able assistant-barrister for the county. Mr. Howley rejected the system of compromise which had before been so prevalent, when the parties came before the grand jury. Did any improvement in the stale of the county of Tipperary take place? Let the following extract, from a subsequent charge, of Mr. Howley's, answer:—"That a great improvement has been thus brought about, appears by the official returns, which extend over a period of the last four months, during which the principal fairs in this county have been held, and which formed heretofore the battleground of the several factions. [Here the learned chairman read a return from Captain Nangle, chief magistrate to the Cashel district, stating, that twenty-six fairs had taken place from the 7th of January to the 26th of June, and no riots or fights occurred at them. Another return was read from the chief magistrate in 341 the Nenagh district, Major Carter, stating that nine principal fairs had taken place since the first of April, and no faction fights had taken place at them.] I think I may here observe, that the law as it at present stands is quite sufficient to repress outrage, and punish crime, without having recourse to any new or more coercive enactments. It is much better to work with those laws which are familiar and constitutional, and see whether they cannot prevail, than, without a great necessity, rely upon the application of any act which, although it may punish crime, yet will want that full accordance and assent which yield to laws their best influence and power."
I will also read a letter, addressed to Mr. Howley by Mr. Yadlin, the Clerk of the Peace for the county of Tipperary:—Clonmel, Dec. 19, 1836.MY DEAR SIR—Your letter of the 16th I have been unable to answer until this day. I now forward you a return of the convictions at Quarter Sessions for the last three years, in which you will perceive very little difference, except in cases of bodily injury inflicted between man and man, a great increase in larceny cases, but the affrays or riots have decreased most wonderfully, as the number of convictions for the last year do not amount to the total of either of the two preceding years, although the greater part of the convictions under this head were of persons who ought to have been brought to trial before your appointment. I may safely say, faction rights are at an end, never to revive in this county. The only way to judge of the real state of the county is by the convictions; these speak facts not subject to newspaper misrepresentation. On looking over the informations for next Cashel and Nenagh General Quarter Sessions, I do not find one single instance of serious riot. This justifies my assertion, and will, I hope, convince you of the very improved state we are now in.Should you wish for convictions at Assizes, I can procure you copies of the different rules of court for any period you wish, on my hearing from you.I have the honour to be, my dear Sir, your most faithful servant,YADLIN.John Howley, Esq., &c.Now the hon. Member for Dublin has made an attempt to refute the convincing part of my noble Friend's statement, by taking the state of crime at one period only, without giving a comparative view of that subject in reference to a former period. Sir, we do say, that the Government of the Earl of Mulgrave in Ireland 342 is conducted upon upright and impartial principles, but we do not pretend, we have not the folly to imagine, that we have converted Ireland to a perfect paradise, or to a garden of Eden! The genius of a nation is not to be changed in a month or a year; but in the social and physical condition of Ireland, there is ample matter for wonder. It is a matter of wonder that there should exist so much patience and tranquillity there; and, when it is said—Ireland is disturbed, it might be as fair to say of London, that this country was in a dangerous state, because we have heard of a murder in Ratcliff-highway, or another in Edgware-road. But the hon. and learned Sergeant, the member for Bandon bridge, would have made a statement much more to the purpose if he had quoted the number of Returns of offences tried at Sessions; let him state the case of three who had been previously tried at the Assizes. Now what is the state of the Returns of the principal offences tried at Tipperary, at Nenagh, and Cashel Quarter Sessions? Let the House refer to them, because, whereas in the case quoted, the Returns were made up to the 1st of July last, the Returns to which I will now refer, are made up to last December, and even January. I find, by the Returns made by the Clerk of the Peace for Tipperary, of the numbers of indictments in the years ending the 1st of January, 1836, and the 1st of January, 1837, that the following is the result. I will improve upon the principle of the hon. member for Dublin, and I will take the two corresponding periods. It appears, then, there were—
I will now refer to one other county, namely, that of Kilkenny—the county, the alarming state of which was the direct and immediate cause of the Coercion Bill. Now I beg to read to the House an extract from the charge of the Chairman who presided at the last Quarter Sessions at Kilkenny, in which he says:—
Year ending Jan. 1, 1836. Year ending Jan. 1, 1837. For Riots 262 65 For Assaults 194 123 For Rescues 153 57 Grievous Assaults 172 84 Forcible possession 24 15Gentlemen of the Grand Jury—The few observations which I shall have the honour to address to you, on the great and signal dimi- 343 nution of crime, and the improvement of the state of this county, are as gratifying to me as the facts are creditable to the county itself. Since I had the honour to be appointed chairman of this county I have had, at each succeeding Session, to congratulate you upon a sensible diminution of crime and the improvement of your social condition. On the last occasion, I had the satisfaction to notice, that although the number of indictments were apparently large, amounting to 129, yet the offences were in point of quality very trivial, and might for the most part have been disposed of at Petty Sessions, and not, unnecessarily, sent here for trial. But cheering as the condition of the county of Kilkenny then was, its present state is still more so; crime having not only been diminished, but almost extinguished. I find, at present, fifty-four cases to be sent before you, few, if any, partaking of any character of guilt that might not be found to exist in the most peaceful and orderly state of society, and most of which might have been, with great respect to the magisterial authorities, as I before stated, decided at Petty Sessions. Out of these fifty-four, there are nineteen cases of assault, all of a minor character; the rest are all petty larceny and trifling cases, which also ought to have been disposed of at Petty Sessions. In conclusion, I have again to congratulate you, gentlemen, on the peaceful state of your county, and the pleasing prospects which that state presents. It is a subject of additional satisfaction to me to state, and particularly worthy of remark, that there is not one case of riot, at fair or market, triable at these Sessions. I again repeat, with the most pleasurable feelings of satisfaction, that this county, distinguished heretofore for great turbulence and, I may add, crime, has become one of the most peaceable counties in Ireland.It was during this progress of improvement and transition that the Lord-Lieutenant visited Tipperary gaol, and after making the most complete and diligent inquiry from the Governor and Deputy-governor of the prison, by whom he was attended, with reference to the cases of those who had been convicted of light offences, and more especially of those who had been convicted of sharing in those long feuds, which bore best their confinement; as to the case of those whose sentences were nearest expiration, and those who came from that part of the country where the fewest commotions prevailed; to these cases the attention of the Lord-Lieutenant, I say, was particularly directed, he acting upon the charges of the Judges in passing the original sentences, and with reference to the effect of the example to be shown, and his judgment being always dependent upon the consideration of what 344 result a vigorous administration of justice might have on the improved state of the country. But this mode of proceeding on the part of my noble Friend the Lord-Lieutenant has either been attended with success or it has not; and let the House decide that point. I say, however, do not trust to my representations alone, but allow me to refer you to documents. I have here two letters, which were intended to be private, but they are addressed to me in my official capacity, and, therefore, I consider myself at perfect liberty to put the House in possession of their contents. One of these letters is from Mr. Howley, bearing date, the 27th of January, and I could not well have better testimony than this document. He observes:—The civil business of the present Session I never recollect to be so heavy, nor the Crown business so light. The mercy extended by his Excellency, during his visit to his country, has fallen with a softening influence upon the popular mind, and has contributed much to the tranquillity which prevails.I lately chanced to receive a communication on another subject from the County-Sergeant of Tipperary, dated, Clonmell, Feb. 3rd, 1837. He says:—My Lord—Having lately seen some attacks on the Government, in consequence of the liberation of prisoners by his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, last summer, I take the liberty of informing your Lordship, that out of fifty-seven prisoners discharged from our county gaol, by the Lord Lieutenant's commands, only one has been recommitted, though the interval that has elapsed is nearly six months. This solitary case is that of an idiot.I certainly thought myself, when I first read this preliminary passage, that it did not tell much in favour of the selection of cases which had been made. But the writer adds:—This information your Lordship may rely on, as I have taken care to as certain its accuracy; and further, it has scarcely ever occurred, that any such number of persons has left the gaol without some of them having been recommitted, even within a much shorter period. It is, therefore, quite certain, that in this county his Excellency's clemency has been attended with the best effects. I have the honour to be,Your Lordship's very obedient humble Servant,DENNIS PHELAN,Surgeon to the County of Tipperary Gaol.Now, I do not say, that we have cured the evils of Ireland, but, I contend, that we 345 have very much improved her social condition. I have here, too, another letter from a person at Tipperary (addressed to the head Commissioner of the Police), who, it seems, had made an application for a person in whose welfare he was interested, and, he says:—That the signatures to the certificates sent might be confirmed; and that no doubt the patty would prove an acquisition to the establishment, and that the grievance of the applicant was of a new character, Tipperary being so quiet that the police had no business to do there.Now, Sir, the same causes and circumstances which have been so observable in the county of Tipperary have all operated in other parts of Ireland, and have led to a corresponding exercise of the prerogative of mercy on the part of the Lord-Lieutenant. I believe I might appeal to several of the hon. Members who represent counties in Ireland, and who are now present; but I feel I need not trouble the House with the written testimonials of those gentlemen who accompanied his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant, to bear witness to the extreme caution which he exercised in the selection of the proper objects for clemency. I am apprised by these gentlemen, that the Lord-Lieutenant uniformly required the joint recommendation of the Governor of the gaol and of the local Protestant inspectors—that he rejected firmly, and in spite of all remonstrances, the applications of those who had been committed for civil offences; and almost universally, the cases of those the greater part of whose sentences had not expired. Sir, the hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandonbridge, quoted a case from Sligo, in which the sentence was commuted from that of death to nine months' imprisonment. This fact goes to show the circumstances under which that commutation of punishment was made, or it speaks little for the state of the law in Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin University stated, that this case was gone through in two hours, and that it was decided upon instinct of course. This was, certainly, a very candid and liberal suggestion on the part of the learned Gentleman. I have already spoken of the laborious pains which the Lord-Lieutenant took under the circumstances; and, it must be remembered, that the memorials in each case were laid before him, and formed the sub- 346 ject of very grave deliberation. The hon. and learned Sergeant has quoted a correspondence which took place between the Private Secretary of the Lord-Lieutenant and the local Inspector at Lifford. The learned Sergeant chose to put me down when I referred to this part of the subject on a former occasion; but I hold copies of the correspondence in my hand, namely, of a letter from Colonel Yorke, the Private Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant, to the rev. Mr. Clarke, the local Inspector at Lifford. And I must here declare that, with respect to the discharge of the duties of local Inspectors by the Protestant clergy—the Protestant clergy discharge them with perfect fidelity, with great discretion, and with unremitting zeal. The learned Sergeant has reflected with some asperity on the circumstance of the Lord-Lieutenant having desired, that the proper authorities should furnish him with some of the names of the persons entitled to mercy in Lifford gaol—a gaol which is much celebrated for the excellent management which pervades its internal arrangements. In passing through the town on his tour, it did happen that it was not in the power of the Lord-Lieutenant to visit the gaol, but he thought that he should be wanting in respect to those whose skill was so manifest if he did not give them some opportunity to point out such persons as they might think proper objects for the exercise of clemency. Now the learned Sergeant quoted only the beginning of the correspondence in question, but I must carry his attention, and that of the House, a little further. Mr. Clarke says:—Lifford, August 13, 1836.SIR—Agreeable to your wish, expressed in your letter to the Governor, I have with him selected such cases as we feel justified in recommending to his Excellency's humane consideration.With reference to those convicted of assault, I have not recommended any case in which there was waylaying proved, or any other circumstance of an aggravated nature. In all cases recommended I have been influenced by a feeling of commiseration for the innocent families of those confined.I have the honour to be, &c. &c.(Signed) "E. M. CLARKE,Local Inspector and Chaplain.Lieutenant-Colonel Yorke.Colonel Yorke, in his reply, states that these cases will be considered by those to whom such cases were referred. I 347 believe that in every case except one the list of persons committed to gaol has been forwarded to the castle by the high sheriff. This, however, did not occur in the case of Meath, owing to a mistake on the part of the high sheriff, which irregularity nevertheless has not been continued. Col. Yorke says "That the Lord Lieutenant felt himself, in cases where individuals had been accused of breaches of the Revenue-laws, strongly impressed with the conviction of enforcing the full punishment." This then led to a further correspondence, which Mr. Clarke thought it better should be published in the papers of the county, and this was accordingly done, and the letters so published led to some severe animadversions and reflections in The Evening Mail. I will now only quote one more document, it being an answer which was written to The Londonderry Sentinel, in consequence of what had appeared in the Evening Mail, which article certainly afforded and evinced a good sample of that system of misrepresentation which has obtruded itself into the Mansion-house of Dublin, and has even found its way into the Commons' House of Parliament. The article to which I refer is this:—Copy of a letter from the Rev. F. M. Clarke (Local Inspector of the Gaol at Lifford, county Donegal, to the editor of The Londonderry Sentinel:—Six persons convicted of assault, sentenced some to six months, one to four, and four to three months' imprisonment, with ten convicted of a breach of the revenue laws, were recommended on the ground that their offences were not of an aggravated nature, that each had a large family depending on him for support, which in no degree participated in his guilt; and his absence from which, at this particular season, might prove ruinous. Of these so recommended his Excellency liberated six confined for assault, and two for illicit distillation.The correspondent of The Mail, in his letter to which the caustic remarks on mine are appended, asks, 'How many Protestants his Excellency has discharged?' and answers his own question by saying, 'not one.'On this point I have to observe that, of the sixteen recommended here, three were Members of the Established Church thirteen were Roman Catholics.Of the nine discharged, four were Members of the Established Church, five were Roman Catholics.I remain &c.,(Signed) "E. M. CLARKE.Lifford, Sept. 16, 1836.348 Now this, I will say, is a good sample of stating facts specifically; and with some truth the hon. and learned Member for Dublin declared he did not like adverting to facts. I am now about to speak to this dearest and most valuable exercise of the prerogative. I do not mean to contend, and I am [sure no hon. Gentleman would, that the exercise of this privilege would establish a good system for permanent practical operation; but under the peculiar circumstances of time and country I believe it to be perfectly justifiable; and I believe that its exercise under the circumstances which pervaded this case was of considerable use, and that much benefit has resulted there from. But, Sir, severe strictures have been made upon the use which the noble earl the Lord-Lieutenant has made of the same prerogative in former cases which have been brought before him, of prisoners who have been sentenced, and whose sentences he interfered with, the Lord-Lieutenant not having first taken the opinion of the judges. Now, I take upon myself to say, that the present Lord-Lieutenant has not been surpassed by any of his predecessors in that most laborious consideration which he has bestowed on all the criminal cases which have been brought under his notice, and which has formed the most onerous part of his duties. I will also take upon myself to say, that it is, and always has been, his rule and practice to refer all cases to the judge who may have presided at the trial of the prisoners, when the point turns upon the circumstances connected with the trial itself. It has always been the custom in Ireland (and I believe also in England), that where special grounds are put forward, or upon numerous strong local representations being made, where the offence is of a minor description, the judges who have been referred to, have allowed the Lord-Lieutenant to exercise the prerogative of mercy. And, indeed, when some mixed cases have been referred to the judges, those learned personages have replied to some parts of such case, and have stated that other portions of it rested under the peculiar jurisdiction of the Lord Lieutenant. As an instance of the way in which the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland has shown his want of respect for the authority of the judges—(I should be the last man to impugn the respect due to the character of a judge but I must hint that that respect ought to 349 be reciprocal to the respect due to the representative of the Sovereign)—the learned Sergeant has brought forward a case which was tried before the Chief Baron, and I owe an apology, perhaps, to the learned Gentleman for the exclamation I made on that occasion, when I said the case had occurred last year. I did not, however, do justice to my exclamation because I should have said the year before last, though I do not mean to say, that this would be a justification if it had occurred three years ago. But, Sir, what led to my exclamation was the fact that this charge had been already served up to us in July, 1835, on the motion of the hon. Member for Londonderry, and I thought the matter had been fully disposed of. I must say, that when I found the learned Sergeant had bottled up this story of the Chief Baron I was surprised. The opinion of the Lord-Lieutenant had been given to the Earl of Haddington. The Protestants, who were supposed to be the parties aggrieved, had the lighter punishment allotted to them, whilst the Roman Catholics had the heavier. But it was after the expiration of the period of confinement extended to the Protestants that the jury unanimously came forward to petition that a similar exercise of mercy might be manifested to the Roman Catholics, they having been already a longer time imprisoned than the Protestants. His Excellency took an opportunity of looking at the original notes of the case, and of considering the judge's opinion, and thinking that a sufficient period of confinement had been allotted to both parties, he assented to the enlargement of the Roman Catholics. Upon that occasion, in the year 1835, I remember the name of the Countess of Mulgrave was brought forward for having obeyed the impulse of her gentle and charitable nature, and expressed a wish in favour of a prisoner from whose wife she had received a letter; and I really had hoped that her name would not again have been brought forward, even to appease the dignity of my Lord Chief Baron. But we have not yet done with the misconduct of the Government in the last year. The hon. and gallant Member for Donegal says that the liberation of Mr. Reynolds was a most unjustifiable step. He stated further, that not only had we committed the enormity of acting upon that occasion without the concurrence of the learned 350 judge by whom Mr. Reynolds was tried, but that we acted in direct opposition to his opinion, after it had been asked and obtained. The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken. We did not ask the learned Chief Justice of the Common Pleas for his opinion as to the propriety of mitigating the sentence passed upon Mr. Reynolds; but from what transpired through the ordinary channels of information the Lord-Lieutenant felt himself called upon to ask for the notes of the trial, for the evidence taken upon the trial, and for the charge delivered by the learned Chief Justice to the jury. These documents, when obtained, he immediately submitted to the legal advisers of the Crown, to the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, and the Lord Chancellor, and it was in consequence of their unanimous opinion, as expressed after an inspection of these documents, that the Lord-Lieutenant ordered the immediate liberation of Mr. Reynolds. This happened in November, or, at the latest, December, 1835; yet upon this grossly unjustifiable step until last night not one word has been said in either House of Parliament, either in the way of reproach to the Government, or vindication of the offended dignity of the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
§ Colonel Conolly
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I alluded to the subject myself not long after the transaction took place.
§ Viscount Morpeth
I am reminded of what I had certainly at the moment forgotten. I remember that the subject was mentioned in this House, but only mentioned, I believe, because we on this side of the House had dared the hon. Gentlemen opposite to bring the case forward if they had any complaint to make upon it. Thus it certainly happened that the subject was mentioned, but no motion or subsequent proceeding was founded upon it. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has, in the present debate, applied himself chiefly to the subject which also engaged his eloquence at the meeting at the Mansion-house in Dublin, namely the selection of sheriffs for the year 1836. This likewise appears to me to be a matter of last year. My noble Friend's (Lord John Russell's) charge against the hon. Gentlemen who sit on the opposite side of the House was, that they shrunk from bringing forward in Parliament those charges which they urged 351 with so much vehemence in places where the Government had no power of reply. How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman meet this? In the month of July last the Earl of Mulgrave attended for several successive evenings in his place in the other House of Parliament. My hon. and learned Friend near me corrects me and says that it was in May that Lord Mulgrave attended in his place. At all events he was there for several nights in the course of the summer, and listening to the speeches of to-night and last night, one would have supposed that such an opportunity of bringing him to an account for his government in Ireland would not have been lost by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. and learned Gentleman in the course of the debate on the present occasion has gone into most lengthened and laborious proofs to establish that which we have never denied, namely, that in nine cases the judges' list has been departed from and other persons substituted to fill the office of sheriff. And we gave the reason—the Earl of Mulgrave gave the reason for so doing, The Earl of Mulgrave stated in his place in Parliament the reasons which had induced him to put aside the recommendation of the judges on the appointment of sheriffs. I think the hon. Gentleman will find that the Earl of Mulgrave did on that occasion state that he had felt it to be his duty to put aside all gentlemen recommended to the office of sheriff who were in any way connected with Orange lodges, or, to use his words, with a recent exclusive political society. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that those words were framed with great sagasity, so as to avoid a reference to any one who belonged to the General Association At all events, my noble Friend must be entitled to the merit of great political foresight in so framing them, because the occasion when they were used took place six or seven months before the General Association was formed, and before he could properly anticipate the perverse and wayward course of policy which ultimately gave rise to that Association. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says, with a gravity and solemnity of face which I own quite astonished me, that in May, 1836, the fact was not known that in the preceding month of February we had, in nine instances, departed out of the judges' list. Why it was as notorious as the sun. at noon-day; the newspapers 352 attached to the party to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman belongs were ringing with it.From night to morn, from mom to dewy eveYet the only charge brought forward in Parliament against the Earl of Mulgrave was, that he had improperly departed from the judges' list in the case of Mr. Leigh. Upon further inquiry, it appeared to the noble Earl that he had been misinformed with respect to that question, and when his name appeared again in the list for the succeeding year, he lost no time in appointing him. The course which led to the setting aside of the other names upon the list was resolved upon in the month of December, 1835, it was promulgated in February, 1836, we were in our places in Parliament during the whole of the Session, Lord Mulgrave was present in his place in the other House in the month of May, and yet, till the holding of the meeting at the Mansion-house in Dublin, in the month of January, 1837, no accusation has been brought forward against us impugning the propriety of that course. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has tried to justify his case by going into some long details respecting the character and qualification of the gentleman who was to fill the situation as sub-Sheriff for Wexford. He has questioned the fitness of Mr. Corcoran to fill the office. I believe him to be a gentleman of great respectability; and as a tolerably strong testimony to that fact, as well as to his utility, I may mention the fact of his having been selected as electioneering agent for the late lamented Mr. Kavanagh. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would have preferred the continuation in office of the previous sub-Sheriff, Mr. Reid, who, upon a quantity of corn not being bid for at a tithe auction, bought it himself, and set fire to it in the sight of a destitute and excited multitude. I know not whether the hon. and learned Member would have had that person continued in his office; but so strongly did the Government feel the propriety of not running the risk of re-appointing him, that they addressed a note to the proper quarter expressing a hope that Mr. Reid would not again be named upon the list of sub-Sheriffs. That note was promptly replied to. Mr. Reid retired, and Mr. Corcoran became his successor. Passing, then, from the case of Mr. Corcoran, I come to that of Mr. Cas- 353 sidy, which has been made the subject of much severe comment in the course of the present debate. It is a complaint very general throughout Ireland, and no where more prevalent than in Queen's County, that there are to be found upon the bench very few magistrates who profess the same faith or sympathise with the opinions of the great majority of the population. I do not mean to say, that this should stand as a reason for appointing or rejecting any particular person, but it was undoubtedly a fact much to be lamented. Several names were forwarded to Lord de Vesey, the Lord-Lieutenant of the county—against whose integrity or honour I should be the last person in the world to say a word—as fit and proper persons to fill the office of sub-Sheriff. Lord de Vesey did not think fit to approve of those names, and an appeal was in consequence made to the Lord Chancellor and to the Irish Government. An inquiry took place. Lord de Vesey stated his objections to the names forwarded, and the grounds upon which those objections were founded. In the instance of Mr. Cassidy it appeared that his objection rested upon certain proceedings before the court of quarter sessions, with which that gentleman had been connected. The case arose, I believe, out of a demand for county cess, which Mr. Cassidy contended was improperly levied upon him. It turned out that when the demand was about to be enforced, some persons in Mr. Cassidy's employment offered a forcible resistance, and a disturbance ensued. I am told that Mr. Cassidy unequivocally expressed his disapproval of the conduct of his servants, although of course he was compelled to bear the weight of the damages incurred in consequence of it. Mr. Cassidy was recommended to the Government by several gentlemen in the county of high station and great respectability. The hon. Gentleman opposite shakes his head as if that statement were not true. [Mr. Vesey: Will the noble Lord name one?] I am in possession of the names of several, and could mention them, if I pleased; but I really do not know whether I should be justified in bringing them forward in this way. I state the fact upon my own responsibility. Persons whom I think to be respectable, recommended Mr. Cassidy to the Government. His father had been reported to be one of the best magistrates in the county of Kildare, and 354 in the King's and Queen's counties. His younger brother is a magistrate and sheriff for Kildare, and he himself holds the commission of the peace for King's county, to which he was appointed by Lord Oxmantown, no great advocate of agitation or repeal. But the utmost thunders of the opposition seem to have been reserved for the appointment of Mr. Pigott. Now there is no nomination upon which, both on public and private grounds, I take more cordial pleasure. I do not know a person of whom I have a higher opinion, or for whom I anticipate a more successful career, whether in the estimation of his fellow-citizens, or in the first walks of his profession. He is a member of the Association. That he has often appeared there or taken any prominent part in their discussions, or delivered any of his sentiments there, I am not aware. The last time in which I saw his name mentioned as connected with the proceedings of the Association was when that body was very near passing a vote of censure upon him. But, undoubtedly, I do not disguise that there are many members of the Association who entertain or profess opinions widely at variance with those of the Government under whom I have the honour to serve. But I apprehend that in availing ourselves of any benefit which may be received from the advice of Mr. Pigott, we in no way remove any responsibility which his appointment may impose either upon the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the chief law officers, or myself. For my own part I can only say that I shall most willingly share in any responsibility which may be supposed to result from his appointment. With respect to the Association, it is impossible to maintain that the existence of such a body, and the extent to which it carries its functions, can be said to indicate a perfectly healthy state of society, or that we could contemplate its permanent establishment without giving rise to serious uneasiness and jealousy on the part of the local Government. I am, therefore, the more tempted to bewail that mistaken and perverse course of policy which made its establishment and its wide-spread and daily-increasing influence a natural and, whilst men's natures continue what they are, an inevitable consequence of the provocation that had been offered. I have yet to learn from the opinion of any 355 competent authority that it is an illegal body. No Gentleman opposite has ventured to state a positive opinion upon that point. The hon. and learned Sergeant (Jackson) spoke strongly in support of the opinion that it was illegal, but he did not so far commit himself as to declare positively that it was. The right hon. and learned Recorder for the city of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) said, that the Association was clearly against the spirit, if not the letter of the law. A tolerable presumption, I think, that he does not consider it against the letter of the law. I cannot suppose that the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. West), who spoke last, believes it to be illegal, because he fortified the opinion he expressed upon it by quoting a passage extracted from a speech made by Mr. Canning, in which the same grounds of illegality were imputed against the predecessor of the present Association, namely, the Roman Catholic Association. Thus it appears evident, from the tone adopted by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they do not consider this body to be clearly and manifestly an illegal one. At all events, most happy am I to be the servant of a Government who will not prefer to introduce new laws for its suppression to removing those just causes of complaint which are the pretext and the aliment of its being and its vigour. A great attempt has been made on the opposite side of the House to impute a variance of opinion to different members of the Government. I do not anticipate any difference of opinion as to the practical course to be pursued. I suppose I must leave the question of what composes an exact identity of opinion in an Administration to be contested and settled by the hon. members for Down and Tyrone. Having now gone through most of the specific cases that occur to my memory as having been alleged against us, I must say with respect to all the general and sweeping charges of our being a disgraced and degraded Administration, and holding office wholly subservient to the dictation of one single individual, that while those who think these things are welcome wit h all my heart to their thoughts, I may meet them with a denial as broad and absolute as the tone and mode in which the expression of them has been advanced. I know that such charges have not been confined to this assembly—I know that they have lately been uttered in other 356 places of high-sounding names. I am sorry to identify or to associate either patrician titles, or the Protestant cause with the utterance of slander. I know that every latitude must be given to the fervour of excited eloquence, and, therefore, it is not to the speech of any noble or reverend orator that I refer. Their speeches might be misreported; besides no man would be compelled, and few, perhaps, disposed, to read them. But at the late meeting at the Mansion-house, Dublin, I find there opinions set forth in an authentic, premeditated, and deliberate form—in the form of a resolution receiving the full sanction of the meeting:—"Resolved, that the patronage of the Irish Government and its prerogative of mercy have been abused to the furtherance of purposes injurious to the peace of the country, the administration of its laws, and the stability of British connexion—that partisans have been placed in office as assistant-barristers, as magistrates, as officers in the constabulary and police, whose recommendation, in some instances, has been their unscrupulous attachment to a faction; and that appointments made in this spirit have been subsidiary to the creation of fictitious voters, and have greatly prejudiced, in public opinion, the administration of justice." Now I should be unworthy of holding a situation under the present Government, and should be unworthy of appearing in this House, or before any assembly of my countrymen, if I hesitated to brand this resolution as a tissue of the most unfounded and most unbecoming imputations, from its beginning to its end, in every line and every letter. Yes, it is easy for you to condemn our exercise of patronage. We assert that your imputations are unfounded. Whenever you bring forward a name, T am ready to meet you. With the assistant barristers who have been appointed under the Government of the Earl of Mulgrave, and who, in the resolutions of the Mansion-house meeting, are made subject to such dishonouring imputations, I have the pleasure and the honour of a personal acquaintance; and I take it upon myself to say that in probity and honour they are equal to every one of those who attended that meeting; and judging of the character of the members from the proceedings adopted at this meeting, in sense, ability, discretion, and moderation, I will institute no comparison 357 between them at all. I have many papers in my hand relative to the cases tried before those Assistant Barristers. I will not go into them here; not only because I do not think this House the fit arena for a discussion of the kind, but because a Committee has been recently appointed before which it might very properly be brought, if to any hon. Member there should appear to be a necessity for further investigation. But three names—I omit all the others—have been specially signalled out as subjects of reproach and suspicion—the names of Messrs. Hudson, Gibson, and Fogerty. In the case of Mr. Hudson, I beg to stale these facts in reply to the insinuations that have been made against him. In June last he rejected seventeen Liberal claimants who were tenants to Mr. Vigors, and subsequently nine others, all of whom were admitted to the franchise upon appeal to Judge Johnson, at the last summer assizes. Similar claimants had been before admitted by Mr. Hulstonge Robinson, the Conservative assistant barrister, and also by Mr. Moody, but Mr. Hudson rejected them. There has been only one appeal by the Conservatives from his decisions, upon the question of value. Fully one-third of the Liberal claimants have been rejected by him at the sessions. The average number of notices served was four hundred at each sessions. With respect to Mr. Gibson, I will only say, that in The Leinster Express, an Orange local journal, there is an article, published in the beginning of last November, attacking the apathy of the Conservatives in the county, for not coming forward and stating that Gibson registered fairly and impartially, upon the principle of the beneficial value, and that the Conservatives had thus an equal chance with the Liberals, if they would come forward to the registry. I find, too, this practical result of the registration in Leinster, for the years 1835 and 1836. At the winter assizes, often Conservative claimants, nine were admitted, whilst of ninety-six Reform claimants, twenty-seven only were admitted; and again, in the spring assizes of 1836, out of eight Conservative claims, seven were admitted, whilst of 103 Reform claimants, only four were admitted. The hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin, who spoke last, alluded to the course pursued by the magistrates of King's county towards Mr. Gibson, the assistant barrister; but that circumstance has already 358 been fully gone into by my noble Friend who opened the debate, by whom the reason of that proceeding was amply exposed. I will merely say, that at all events, the magistrates made a speedy atonement to the assistant barrister; because, after having removed him from the chair, they found themselves constrained to call upon him for his assistance in making the charge to the grand jury. Another part of the resolution which I have read embraces the officers of the constabulary and police. With respect to those persons who have been appointed officers in the constabulary and police, I, of course, have not had the same means of making a personal acquaintance with any of them as I have had the pleasure of doing with the assistant barristers. I can only say, that they were recommended to us from quarters on which we thought we could place the fullest reliance, and that the qualifications of all of them were submitted to the personal scrutiny of the distinguished officer at the head of the establishments. One qualification I admit they have not possessed; they have not been recommended by the hon. Members opposite, nor by their friends and supporters. We admit that they are in no hurry of attack. In this we admit that they are eminently defective. They are eminently defective also in persecuting Protestantism. Talking of persecuting Protestantism, the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal had attempted to be witty at the expense of my noble Friend, the Member for Leitrim (Lord Clements), because he was not at that meeting; but my noble Friend wanted one requisite qualification; for, in the first place, it was necessary that all must be Protestants who were admitted, but, further than that, they must all be aggrieved, Protestants. Now my noble Friend did not admit that he was aggrieved, although he was quite ready to go to the meeting, and most worthily might he have been admitted, for a more honourable, a more upright, impartial man does not exist than my noble Friend. I think that the hon. and gallant Officer will feel that my noble Friend has satisfactorily proved that he was not entitled to be present or to be heard at that meeting. Now, with respect to the exercise of patronage, whatever the requisite qualifications have been, and the selection has been necessarily confined to a few persons—as, for instance, to the superintendents of hospitals, or to the 359 higher and more responsible functionaries of education—I can venture to say, no Government could have gone further than Earl Mulgrave's Government in making the appointments exclusively in reference to the highest degree of fitness of the person who was candidate for the office. And if, in doing this, we have not always had the pleasure of appointing persons friendly to us, in the ordinary exercise of patronage we have followed that selection amply enough; where our path, too, was illuminated by the proceedings of our predecessors. The head and front of our offending is this, that we have preferred our friends and supporters to our avowed adversaries, our open villifiers, and our insidious under miners. Such has been hitherto the policy of the government of Earl Mulgrave; and in spite of all that shall be alleged or charged against us, such it will continue. Upon the general principles on which the Government of Ireland ought to be conducted, I feel that it is beyond my present province, and perhaps out of my place to enter. Albeit I am myself connected with the local government of Ireland, yet I will say, as my noble Friend has most correctly stated, that the head of that Government has had the happiness of carrying it on with perfect union and harmony of feeling, and that the House will perceive that they have enjoyed the confidence of the central Government at home. With respect to my own individual share in the conduct of that Government, I have reason to believe that my own constituency—certainly not the least numerous, not the least industrious, not the least religious, not the least Protestant in the empire—have not withheld their confidence from me. The impression upon me grows stronger day by day, that if they do not carry on the Irish Government in any other system—in a system of repression, in a system of alienation, in a system of keeping back the people of Ireland, or in keeping back and keeping down the Catholic laity of Ireland, or in keeping aloof from the Catholic clergy of Ireland—I do not mean aloof with respect to the honours and profits of the state, but from all confidence, assistance, co-operation, and good will—a pretty task our successors will have in putting down the Catholic Association; but not content with that, the hon. and learned Sergeant has thrown in the putting down the Roman Catholic 360 hierarchy. But to carry on that Government on any other system than one of kindness, of conciliation, and of equal and impartial justice, is a plan which will be attended with enormous risks in Ireland and in England. Whatever partial difference may exist, whatever partial prepossessions may exist, if you ever come to make the critical demand, I doubt you will find very little alacrity on the part of the people in bestowing the necessary quantity of blood or treasure to keep up or perpetuate such a system. I have touched upon what relates to our own department as a Member of the Irish Government. It is the department of Parliament, and of i this House primarily, to determine whether the policy of the executive shall be ratified, followed up, and extended by the proceedings of the legislative department—whether what we can generally manifest but in spirit and in intention, you will convert into a living and lasting enactment—whether you will change the favour that now may be bestowed upon them by any individual into a deep-rooted, because well-grounded, attachment to the laws that are equal, and the constitution that is common. And, with such views, and in such a course, you cannot take a better or a more effectual step than by giving your votes to the measure of my noble Friend this evening.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
begged, in explanation, distinctly to state that the letter to which the noble Lord had referred, as having been read by him (Mr. Sergeant Jackson), was a genuine letter, and was addressed, not to the inspector, but to the governor of the gaol.
§ Sir James Graham
I confess that I have waited with some impatience during the long and somewhat desultory discussion which has taken place, to hear the defence of the Irish Government from some one of the confidential advisers of his Majesty. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny, was pleased last night to throw out some taunt with regard to coalitions on this side of the House, and the hon. and learned Member for Bath was pleased also to point a sarcasm at my inconsistency. Now, Sir, I have been guilty of no low intrigue; I have done nothing secretly or covertly. Everything which I have done has been done in the face of day. I have concealed nothing. I am ashamed of nothing. I have sacrificed no principle. I have compromised no opinion. I rejoice in that 361 union which prevails on the bench where I have the honour of sitting. No effort on my part has been wanting to effect it; none shall be wanting to cement and perpetuate it. And I declare that after contemplating the dangers which surround this country, and in the face of the combination, dangerous as I think and unnatural, which I see on the benches opposite, the vindication of my conduct is easy. If I wanted a defence, I would refer, in the presence of my country, to this single fact, that when the Government of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland was charged last night distinctly, in a speech of great force and of detail, by my hon. Friend the learned Sergeant behind me, the defence of that Administration was not intrusted to any of the Colleagues of the Lord-Lieutenant—the charge was not answered by his Secretary; but it devolved very naturally upon the recent guest and favoured friend of the Lord-Lieutenant, the hon. Member for Kilkenny. Sir, I really address you with some difficulty; I see so much agitation on the benches before me. I have also in my eye the hon. and learned Member for Bath, who read us last evening so pointed and useful a lecture on the mode and manner in which we should deliver our sentiments. The hon. Member appeared almost in the character of the master of the ceremonies on the occasion, a very appropriate character for him to assume, representing as he does the ancient subjects of Beau Nash. But notwithstanding all his agitation, and notwithstanding the criticisms of this arbiter elegantiarum, confining myself to the rules of the House, which you, Sir, will always be found ready to enforce, and which every Gentleman on this side of the House will always he found anxious to maintain, I will endeavour, with all the frankness and plainness which becomes a commoner of England, to express my sentiments on the present occasion. Very early in the course of the discussion the noble Lord opposite introduced the authority of Mr. Fox, who contended that the real system of governing Ireland was to meet each succeeding demand of the people of that country by successive concessions, and that while they remained unweary in demanding we were to be un-tired in granting. The noble Lord, I say, cited the authority of Mr. Fox, and he appeared to me to cite it as if he thought it would be treated with disrespect on this side of the House. I speak not for others, I can only answer for myself; but that name can never be mentioned, without ex- 362 citing my attention, and demanding my most profound respect. Mr. Fox, as I humbly conceive, was really a great statesman. His was the capacious mind to grasp and comprehend the great first principles of Government—his was the Godlike gift of eloquence, with power and perspicuity to enforce them; but his was also the no less important and necessary gift of applying those great first principles of Government to the circumstances of the country, and the times in which he lived and acted. There is a relative of Mr. Fox in the present Administration, Lord Holland, his nephew. I once was favoured with the friendship of that noble Lord. It is impossible ever to have known and not to continue to remember the superior nature and the high intellectual attainments of that noble Lord, and not to retain for him a permanent attachment. That noble Lord has told us, in a pentameter verse of old monastic Latin, what was the policy of the present Administration:—Quæ perpetuo sunt agitata manent.Now, I will translate "Quæ perpetuo sunt agitata," thus—those who perpetually yield to agitation; but "manent," how shall I translate that? why they remain in Downing-street, and contrive to keep their places. The noble Lord opposite talks of all the symptoms of the gout without the pain. I would ask the noble Lord if he ever heard of an Administration with all the functions of Government without the power. It is vain for him to cite to me the authority of Mr. Fox in defence of such policy and such proceedings. I demur to his authority on that point. I contend that if Mr. Fox had lived to see the day when the Test and Corporation Acts had been repealed—when Catholic Emancipation had been granted—when a Reform Bill had passed, extending the suffrage both in Great Britain and Ireland—when the Protestant hierarchy of Ireland had been greatly reduced, one half of its bishoprics being annihilated—when the church-cess had been cast upon the property of the Church, to the relief of the occupiers of the soil—if Mr. Fox had lived to see these things granted, if also he had lived to see proposed on the part of that "exclusive minority" to which the noble Lord has referred, the free and complete surrender of their "exclusive corporations," attaching only one condition to that proposal, and the power which it is proposed to abolish should not be transferred from one exclusive body to the other—if he had seen the frank 363 tender made of the settlement of the tithe question upon the principle of remitting thirty per cent. on the total amount, and casting it entirely on Protestant landlords to the relief of the Catholic occupier—if he had seen these things granted and these things offered, I will not believe that when the claim, the preposterous claim, was advanced in addition to all this, that vote by ballot should be established, that Household Suffrage should be granted, that Triennial Parliaments should be adopted, that the Bishops should be expelled from the House of Lords, and that the constitution of the House of Lords itself should be revised—I cannot believe, that on the principle of meeting every demand by unwearying concession, Mr. Fox would ever have been prepared to insist on the doctrine of concession, and to assent to any of these things. I have infinitely too high a respect for the wisdom of Mr. Fox, for the virtue of Mr. Fox; I pay too high a homage to his Whig principles to believe for one moment he would ever have advocated a doctrine so fatal to our mixed form of Government. I saw a smile on the face of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when I used the word Whig. What was Mr. Fox? He was the great historian of the revolution of 1688; he was the champion of the Protestant succession; he was the ablest defender of the old Whig principles—principles which I learned and professed with the right hon. Gentleman. I know not how the Chancellor of the Exchequer now professes them. I have renounced no principle, I have comprised no opinion; therefore, I will add that those are principles which I still profess. I say that they consist no less in jealousy of popery and Catholic domination, than in a love of liberty and hatred of oppression. I agree generally in the observations which fell from the hon. and learned Member for Bath, as to the disadvantage of a desultory discussion of this kind which is to end in no division yet I must say, on the present occasion, that on the whole I think this form of discussion advantageous. Last year, when we argued this question, we were obliged to do so on extremely narrow grounds, it being necessarily confined to this, that we having granted municipal institutions to Scotland and to England, therefore it was a necessary and inevitable consequence that similar institutions must be granted to Ireland. To that proposition, so stated, I demurred at the time. I said that no per- 364 son would more strongly contend on behalf of Ireland for a perfect equality of civil rights, a perfect admissibility to the franchise, and to all those elements of Government which have been already conceded; but I did say that, looking at the general state of that country, and at its position at the present time and in existing circumstance, I was not prepared to grant any increase of democratic power to Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, although not in my opinion right in his objection to the enlarged manner in which the question has been brought forward, yet, in his second proposition, he appears to ma to be perfectly accurate. For I agree with him that the matter at issue clearly is, whether, in the present circumstances of Ireland, we are prepared to increase the democratic power in that country. I do not think that question could be fairly argued without reference to the general state of Ireland; and, therefore, in my opinion the noble Lord, by opening the question as he did, has not done anything inconsistent with his duty; and I am not prepared to say that this is not, upon the whole, the most advantageous mode of discussing the question. The noble Lord said this was a very simple question, one which could not be decided by figures, but must be decided upon general principles; yet he immediately went into a comparative statement with regard to crime, and to judges' charges which could lead only to that comparison which, according to his own showing, could not be involved in the principle upon which the question was to be decided. I am not here to draw a Bill of indictment against a great people, or to depreciate the character of the Irish nation, which I am aware is equal, and in some respects possibly superior even to that of my countrymen. But I cannot conceal from myself that there are the seeds of imminent danger within it. One striking fact with regard to it which cannot be overlooked is this, namely, that while the great mass of the property of the country belongs to those professing the Protestant religion, the great mass of the population profess the Catholic religion. Under these circumstances if we adopt a measure such as that now proposed, the greatest religious hostility and acrimony will be excited throughout the country. Every concession that has been made hitherto has failed, and I fear that this is symptomatic of what would now take place. The noble Lord in speaking on the tranquillity of the country, had cautiously 365 kept out of view the state of the tithe question; but, in my opinion, this forms the real difficulty of the present question. This, I repeat, is one of the causes of the present difficulty. But there is also another and a more formidable difficulty. I mean the existence of the Association. The noble Lord defined Orange lodges as unconstitutional societies, capable of being turned to dangerous purposes. If I wished to have a correct interpretation of the nature of the General Association, I would take the words of the noble Lord, and say, that it is an association capable of being turned to dangerous purposes. The noble Lord called this Association the spawn of our wrongs; but, without offence, I hope he will allow me to say, that it is the fruit of his own indiscretion. I do not believe that any Minister of the Crown must not feel this with reference to the state of the country to which I allude when the language formerly used by the noble Lord is recollected. I was then a Colleague of the noble Lord, and I confess I heard the observations then made by him with great pain; he said, "If ever there was a nation that had a grievance, that nation was Ireland, and that grievance the Established Church:"
§ Lord John Russell
I rise to explain. I have denied on two previous occasions the correctness of the language attributed to me by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not mean to say, that he has any intention to misrepresent what I really did say, but he is incorrect in imputing to me that language. I said on the occasion alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, that we were bound to remove the just complaints of the people of Ireland; and one of those just grounds of complaint was the present appropriation of the tithe revenue in Ireland. If the right hon. Baronet will take the trouble to refer to any record of what then took place, he will find that 1 then stated what I now repeat. The observation was imputed to me at the time by another right hon. Gentleman, and I then took an opportunity of setting him right.
§ Sir James Graham
The occasion when the words were uttered was one when circumstances occurred which have made a lasting and powerful impression on my mind, and I thought that I had quoted the noble Lord correctly, but I am happy in being set right. I was, however, curious to know what the noble Lord would say of 366 this Association—what view he would take of the safety and bearing of this society. I believe the noble Lord at the head of the Administration is reported to have said, "that there was nothing in the aspect or affairs of Ireland that could justify the formation of this Association, and that he regretted its existence, and deprecated strongly many of its proceedings.'' The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said, last night, "that there were many plain and obvious reasons for the existence of this Association, and he did not know of any great indiscretions that had been committed in connexion with it." The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had also given the House his view of this Association, and stated that he regarded it as the natural and almost inevitable result of the proceedings that had taken place. The noble Secretary for Ireland went one step further than the noble Secretary for the Home Department, for he almost justified the existence and proceedings of the Association by what he told us. Now allow me, Sir, to point out some of the bearings and proceedings of this Association. I trust that the House will allow me to read some of the proceedings of this body, which may enable him to judge between the opinions expressed by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that he regarded the existence of the Association as the inevitable result of the state of affairs in Ireland, as well as that of the noble Lord at the head of the Home Department, who said that there were many plain and obvious reasons for its existence, or the opinion put forth by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that there was nothing in the aspect or affairs of Ireland to justify its existence, and that he condemned its origin and proceedings. I cannot call the attention of the House to some of the resolutions agreed to at this Association on the subject of tithes, without referring to the language with which they were introduced. These resolutions were proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, who, in one part of his speech, is reported to have said—"I own myself a friend of the voluntary principle. I do not think that any person should be more bound in honesty to pay for the spiritual doctrine of any other man than his apothecary's bill." And I beg the House to remark the tone and bearing of what follows:—"If, then, a man is ill, or supposes himself to be ill, he should pay the person who attends, and no one pay for him. No man should pay for the spiritual 367 doctor of his neighbour. If he choose to have a person to physic or to pray for him, let him, in the name of honour, pay alike for the physic and the prayer. I am also one who thinks that religion should be perfectly free from every human institution; that it is the duty as well as the right of every human being to have a perfect freedom in all matters connected with religion." Does the noble Lord adopt the opinions thus put forth in the Association, whose existence he palliates. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny then went on to say, that no settlement of this tithe question would be satisfactory to the Irish people, which did not assert the principle which he had advanced and explained in his speech. Nothing appears more distinct in this speech than the declaration in favour of the voluntary principle, and yet the noble Lord seemed to regard it as a matter of little moment. The resolutions, however, agreed to at this Association were my primary object, and I beg the attention of the House while I refer to them, and also to recollect that they were unanimously agreed to. The first Resolution was, "That it was incompatible with the principles of religious liberty, that any man should be compelled to pay for the ordinances of a church with which he is not joined in communion." Nothing, in my opinion, can be more candid than this avowal, recollecting from whence it came. The voluntary principle is here openly set forth. Nothing can be more honest than the avowal; but I can never admit that the principle is one that should be acted upon. I am not now addressing the supporters of his Majesty's Ministers, but I appeal at once to the noble Lord and his Colleagues, the confidential advisers of the Crown, of a Sovereign, who is bound by the solemn sanction of an oath to maintain the Protestant religion, as by law established, in these realms. The next Resolution is, "That as under the present appropriation of the tithe composition, a tribute is levied from the whole nation for the uses of the church of only the one-tenth portion of the community, the people of Ireland are therefor justified in demanding the total extinction of an assessment so applied." Again, the next Resolution is, "That in our opinion no settlement of the tithe question can give satisfaction to the people of Ireland which is not founded on the foregoing principles," Away, then, with the affectation of urging the appropriation clause, with the view of satisfying the Irish people. With any such trumpery measure as you propose, this 368 Association tells you that it will not be satisfied. But I presume, according to the principle of Mr. Fox, as laid down by the noble Lord, we must go to the full extent of concession in all the demands thus made. The next Resolution is, "That we call upon the people of Ireland not to desist from all legal and constitutional means of redress, till these have obtained full and complete relief from an impost equally oppressive and degrading." Now, compare this with the oath taken by the Catholic Members at the table of this House, when Catholics take their seats in this House, the House having now in its perfect recollection these Resolutions, I will not make any further comment, but will at once proceed to read the oath. "I, A. B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to his Majesty King George the 4th, and will defend him, to the utmost of my power, against all conspiracies and attempts whatever which shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity, and I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which may be formed against him or them: and I do faithfully promise to maintain, support, and defend, to the utmost of my power, the succession of the Crown, which succession, by an Act, intituled, An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown, and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, is, and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and the heirs of her body, being Protestants; hereby utterly renouncing and abjuring any obedience or allegiance unto any other person claiming or pretending a right to the crown of this realm; and I do further declare, that it is not an article of my faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure the opinion that princes excommunicated, or deprived by the Pope, or any other authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or by any person whatsoever: and I do declare, that I do not believe that the Pope of Rome, or any other foreign prince, prelate, person, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or preeminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm. I do swear that I will defend, to the utmost of my power, the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws: and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment as 369 settled by law within this realm: and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in the United Kingdom: and I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. So help me God." The question of this oath was touched on last Session, when the appropriation clause of the Tithe Bill was under consideration. I do not like to put a construction on the terms of this oath, as I consider that to be a matter to be settled by each individual, between himself and his conscience; but I must observe that those who take it put a different construction on the appropriation clause from that which is placed on it by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who said that it was a heavy blow, and a grievous discouragement to the Protestant religion. It is not for me to attempt to reconcile this difference in the views entertained by the noble Lord and his supporters on this important subject. It might, indeed, be possible that Gentlemen opposite think that the Protestant religion, if not the Protestant church, might be purified and promoted by the adoption of the voluntary principle. Yet surely this is a strained construction, hardly consistent with "the plain and ordinary sense of the words" of the Catholic oath. I do not, however, believe so myself; and believing that any spread of the democratic principle, giving effect to the Resolutions which I have read would be dangerous to Protestantism in Ireland, I am prepared to take my stand, and, in the present circumstances of the country, I shall be ready, at the proper time, to resist, not the introduction of the Bill proposed by the noble Lord—not, probably, the second reading of the Bill—not the abolition of exclusively Protestant corporations, but, certainly the erection of new corporations, intended to be really no more nor less than the establishment of Catholic fortresses to assist in the great campaign to be carried on against the Protestant Establishment. The prospect of the future in Ireland present nothing but clouds and thick darkness; the conduct of the Government is unintelligible—I will not call it insincere—but more dubious, vacillating, and wavering conduct, throwing uncertainty over all things is not possible. One argument is 370 addressed to one House, and another to another. One opinion, with regard to the Association, is professed in this House, and another in the House of Lords. And above all, there is an Association which has met with peculiar favour from the two noble Lords opposite, adopting resolutions which none can say are not subversive of the Protestant establishment, yet ten days ago, in the speech from the Throne, the noble Lords and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite unanimously called upon the House to prepare for the deliberation of measures calculated to promote the stability of the Established Church. I feel some reluctance in quoting the exact words of noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, with whom I have been on friendly terms, because it indicates something like an acerbity of feeling which I totally disclaim. However, considering the station which the noble Lord occupies, the great power he possesses, and his character, which must, after all, mainly depend, in the long run, on his firm maintenance of fixed principles and opinions. I cannot refrain from citing his own authority. I repeat the sentiment, and will not shrink from it, for I am prepared to stand or fall by that test myself. I wish to call the attention of the noble Lord to the fact, that it is now clear that no new appropriation, no modified appropriation, is sought by the Association, but that nothing will content them but the total abolition of tithes. I now call upon the House and the country to hear what the noble Lord's opinion was in 1834 on the subject of tithes. This opinion was given on the occasion when the present hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny proposed a resolution to the effect that sixty-six per cent. of tithes should be remitted to the landlord, and the remainder should be appropriated as a grand jury cess or rather that two-thirds should be abolished, and the other third should be dealt with as a grand jury cess, and be liable to all the burdens which now fall on the land. This, then, was the language of the noble Lord—"As the hon. and learned Gentleman well knew, he differed from several of his colleagues in the Administration as to the appropriation of this property; but upon the question on which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had that night declaimed, he believed that there was no difference of opinion in the Ministry. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed that two-thirds of the present amount of tithes should be utterly abolished, and that 371 the remaining one-third should be applied to the same purposes to which the grand jury cess was now applied; or, in other words, that it should be substituted in place of another burden to which the land was already liable. But this was nothing more than abolishing tithe altogether; it was a direct act of robbery, neither palliated nor disguised: it was a mere act of. confiscation, which assumed the appearance of giving relief to the miserable and vexed occupiers of the soil., but which, if it should be adopted by the Legislature, would give relief to none but the affluent landholder. On the question of appropriation, he might have the misfortune to express opinions at variance with those of his colleagues; but on this question he gave his vote in the full reliance that it would be in accordance with that of all the Ministers, and of the majority of that House, unless, indeed, they were prepared to abandon all the rights of property and to say that all means, even the most illegal, even such as were attended with tumult and bloodshed, might be used to conduce to an end not less disgraceful and calamitous than the means employed to carry it were violent and unholy."* But I am sure that the House and the noble Lord have not forgotten what took place at the dissolution of Lord Grey's Government. What I am going to allude to, is not a new question, nor was I at the time a member of the Cabinet. I would, then, remind the noble Lord that when the attempt was made to renew the Coercion Bill it contained some clauses by which the Lord-Lieutenant was enabled by his proclamation to suppress any public meetings which he thought were of a dangerous tendency. This was in 1834, and it appeared that the Cabinet was divided on the subject of the retention or exclusion of those clauses. One of the Members of the Government then told the House that in the division in the Cabinet on the subject several members of it supported Lord Grey and the view he took, which was to retain these severe anti-meeting clauses, which avowedly were levelled at the Association. On that occasion who were the persons who voted with Lord Grey? Lord Melbourne, then Home Secretary, and at present at the head of the Government; Lord Lansdowne, the President of the Council; Lord John Russell now Home Secretary; and Lord Palmerston, then and now the Foreign Secretary. Perhaps it may be supposed that all these in-*Hansard (Third Series) vol. xxi. p. 262.372 dividuals who then voted with Lord Grey stood firmly to the opinions which they had expressed and maintained in the Cabinet. Not so, but a very extraordinary circumstance occurred which has never been clearly explained, and which certainly appears very obscure. All these colleagues, who in the month of June supported Lord Grey fell off from him without one solitary exception, and he stood alone in the Cabinet on this question in the following month of July. The clauses I allude to were directed against such an Association as now exists in Ireland, and that noble Lord deemed them to be absolutely necessary to render the Bill at all effectual. Standing, therefore, alone on this subject in the Cabinet he retired from the Government, not willing to be responsible for the safety of Ireland without the means of suppressing the Association. Now, the act of robbery and the confiscation then contemplated by the Association were precisely of the same nature, as those projected by the present National Association. Let it not be forgotten that I am not speaking of the appropriation of tithes, but of their abolition—and before I sit down, I hope I shall show the House how closely those two questions were connected. I received great favours from Lord Grey, and am under great obligations to him. I admire his high character, and entertain a deep regard for his fame, which belongs to his country, and which will be transmitted to posterity: from my heart I congratulate him on the magnanimity he then displayed, and on the high sense of honour which drew him from a Cabinet that had deserted his principles. The noble Earl must be conscious that he did his utmost to prevent the possibility of an evil which is now all but overwhelming, and which some of his Colleagues, though they differed with him in 1834, now acknowledged to be an evil, but which they did not then stand by him to put down. They are now in possession of power, while the noble Earl is content with an honourable retirement. It would be useful for the House to be reminded of the views of Earl Grey with respect to such an Association as that which now existed in Ireland. Previous to the introduction of the Coercion Bill that noble Lord had had much correspondence with the Marquis Wellesley, the then Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, who repeatedly stated "predial outrage and agitation were as indissoluble as cause and effect. Agitation was the cause of predial outrage and disturbance. 373 While agitation about tithes was the sound made, the repeal of the Union was the thing signified, and unless that agitation was put down, the repeal of the Union would be effected." Sir, my Lord Grey relied on the authority of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and in moving the second reading of the renewed Coercion Bill in 1834, asked the House of Lords, whether they considered it safe to suffer the proceedings of the then existing National Association to go on, and used these expressions:—"Many meetings had been held during the last year with which the Government had not interfered; but it was a very different thing to allow these meetings, when isolated and distinct, and to leave the executive Government unprovided with the power of acting against central and simultaneous meetings, distributing their mischievous instructions throughout the country, and keeping up that agitation which caused in the first instance and continued in the next the predial disturbances in Ireland. Did any man suppose, my Lords, that if the Act of last Session had not been passed, the meetings for the repeal of the Union would not have continued, or that if they had continued, the spirit of disorder would not have extended itself to other parts of Ireland?"* This, Sir, is part of the speech made by Earl Grey on the 4th of July, 1834, a speech which received the full concurrence of the noble Earl's colleagues, including Lord Melbourne and the noble Lord opposite. The noble Earl remained firm in his opinions, and rather than depart from them resigned on the 7th of July, and his place was supplied by Lord Melbourne. On the 9th of July, the day on which Earl Grey announced his resignation of office to the Lords, he repeated his unaltered sentiments on the subject, expressing his sincere conviction that Ireland could not safely be left to the ordinary protection of the law, but that Government must be intrusted with extraordinary powers for the preservation of peace in that country. Sir, in the two years which have elapsed since that period all the evils which Lord Grey foresaw have arisen, yet now, instead of any proposition being made by Government for putting down this Association, a proposal is made largely to increase the democratic power in Ireland. The noble Secretary for Ireland complains, Sir, that Gentlemen on this side of the House have both made isolated statements and have misstated facts; but he candidly admits that* Hansard (Third Series), vol. xxiv. p. 1129.374 the inquiry was entered into on his own challenge. It is impossible for me to answer as to the accuracy of any details which have been brought forward, as I have no personal knowledge on the subject; but I have carefully listened to the debate, and weighed both the accusation and the defence. I have heard hon. Gentlemen who have advanced charges divide their accusation into distinct heads, and declare their perfect readiness to prove the justice of the charge before any Committee; and more than that, I have heard them call upon his Majesty's Ministers to grant them a Committee before which to substantiate their statements. Sir, it is not the number of crimes so much as the nature of them, in connexion with the political or religious feeling of the country, which calls for our consideration. In the period which has elapsed since the close of last Session, I have carefully reviewed the conduct which I have pursued in reference to this subject. I have endeavoured to ascertain whether there was any circumstance which should shake the opinion which I had formed; I have narrowly watched everything which has in that period taken place in Ireland; and I have witnessed several signs, bearing on the state of society in that country, which fill me with alarm, and form with me a strong ground for refusing to concede to that country further popular power. Sir, I will put the direct question: is it, or not, the case that passive resistance exists in Ireland, resistance not confined to tithes, but gradually extending itself to other descriptions of property? Was it not the case that a lay impropriator, Mr. Hackett, of Birr, proceeding to distrain partly for rent and partly for tithe, was obliged to apply for the protection of twenty-three policemen against the organised resistance to these payments made by a concourse of 500 persons, armed with scythes, pitchforks, and other implements? And, Sir, was it not the case, that on the approach of these policemen a blunderbuss was discharged over their heads by the leader of the mob, which induced them to withdraw, and try a future day for making the distraint? And is it not also true that, when they came a second time, they found themselves opposed by a concourse of 2,000 persons, met together for the purpose of resisting distraint for rent? Sir, these are the facts, this is the system by which to gauge the present state of the 375 public mind in Ireland. Then, Sir, as to the condition of the clergy in Ireland: is it not true that Mr. Coote, the incumbent of a rectory in Limerick, returning from the performance of divine service, was fired upon by two assassins in mid-day? Is it not true that another clergyman living in a thatched house, had it set on fire, and on rushing out to obtain assistance had two shots fired at him? I will not tire the House by going into the multiplicity of crimes that have been committed; it would be disgusting to myself; but I have mentioned instances, and I will venture to say, that whatever crimes may be committed in England and Scotland, there are no crimes committed in either of these countries of the peculiar dye of Irish crime, or of a character connected in the same way with violent popular animosities. Next, Sir, I ask, has the noble Lord met the charge respecting Mr. Cassidy? Is it not true that that Gentleman had been, as was stated, remarkable for the share he took in anti-tithe agitation—is it not admitted that in the first instance, when the Liberal Club proposed him to the Lord-Lieutenant of the county as a Magistrate, the Lord-Lieutenant assigned as his reason for refusing the application, the circumstance of Mr. Cassidy's having been convicted of being prominently mixed up in an illegal act in a riotous resistance to the payment of a legal impost, the county cess? The Lord-Lieutenant's first refusal, however, was not accepted, and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland made a second application in behalf of Mr. Cassidy, which was refused for the reason before assigned. Shortly after, however, the Lord-Lieutenant in question went abroad, and when his back was turned, Mr. Cassidy was appointed a magistrate. Now, let me call to the recollection of the House what was the first act of this favourite and chosen magistrate of the Viceroy—chosen in defiance of the Lord-Lieutenant of the county. Why, Sir, his first act was to go to the National Association and tender, as his contribution to the Association, the amount of the money which had been claimed of him for tithe; and yet, in the face of all these facts, the noble Secretary pretended that it was the firm determination of the Government here and in Ireland to uphold the majesty and authority of the law. Again, serious complaints have been made of the promiscuous manner in which the doors of gaols have been thrown open by the Vice- 376 roy; and it is charged against him that in his head-long course of popularity-hunting he has overleaped the boundary of common justice and reason. "Oh! but," says the noble Secretary for Ireland, "Lord Mulgrave has always previously required the recommendations of the gaoler, the inspector, and the neighbouring justices." Sir, I will simply ask, are, or are not, the facts related by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin true? If they are, I am at a loss to understand in what way it can be made out that the exercise of the prerogative has not been greatly misused? Sir, it would appear as if the Viceroy in his progresses, while his horses are changing, instead of taking a sandwich at this place, and a glass of sherry at another, runs off to the gaol of the town, and without inquiry of any sort, or of any person, proceeds to set at liberty seven or seventeen prisoners, as the case may be. Sir, where, in the many instances which have been mentioned, where are the constitutional checks to the exercise of the prerogative? Where is the Privy Council, where the Lord-Lieutenant's law adviser, where his secretary? Sir, I protest that if I had the honour of filling the office of secretary or confidential adviser of a Viceroy who so acted, who exercised the prerogative of mercy in such a manner—giving me the go-by entirely, without in the slightest degree consulting me or asking my opinion—I would not condescend to hold office under him not for one day, no, not for a single hour. But are the offences of these liberated individuals of a light character? Sir, in Sligo, where the persons liberated are described as slight offenders, and where it is pretended on the other side that there were no offenders against the revenue laws, in. this very instance it appears that nineteen out of twenty-two persons liberated were persons convicted previously of offences against the revenue laws, one of them, indeed, having fired a shot at a revenue officer. But, Sir, I conceive all these cases to be secondary in importance to the appointment of Mr. Pigott: it is on this case that I rely. What are the facts? Here is a gentleman appointed as law adviser to the Castle; to create the vacancy, a gentleman in no great practice, or pre-eminent at the bar, is appointed to the grave and responsible situation of Solicitor-General for Ireland. Sir, I do not personally know Mr. Pigott, but I have read the debates of the Association in which his merits are set forth, in which he is lauded as having been most ac- 377 tive in the formation of that Association, and in which it is admitted that the Association is under the greatest obligation to him; and if the vote of thanks is not accorded to him, at least a proposed vote of censure upon him is unanimously set aside. This, then, is a gentleman possessing in the highest degree the confidence of the Association, and who has taken a most active share in its formation. Now let not the House forget the boast of the noble Lord, of the perfect accordance between every branch and department in the Government, and let the House attend to this case. The important and responsible situation of law adviser to the Castle is vacant; the whole bar is open for selection; and the head of the Government in England has declared that the Association appeared to him unnecessary and objectionable, that he disliked its proceedings, and, on the whole, regretted its existence. The whole bar, I repeat, is open for the selection of a proper person to fill the vacant situation, yet the Viceroy and Secretary of Ireland select as the man most deserving of their confidence the very person who, a month before, was declared to have been most active and useful in forming the Association repudiated by the Prime Minister. It has been said, that the being a member of an Orange Lodge was a just disqualification for office. I never, for my part, advocated Orange Lodges; I was always much opposed to them, and rejoiced to see the loyalty and good conduct of the members of those Lodges in attending to the wishes of their Sovereign, and ceasing to hold secret meetings without the intervention of any prohibitory enactment; but, Sir, what I wish to remark upon is the extraordinary circumstance that while the being a member of an Orange Lodge—which I consider not half so dangerous as this Association—while, I say, the being a member of an Orange Lodge is universally declared by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by his Majesty's Government to be a just disqualification for office, the being a member of this Association—being most active in its formation and zealous in carrying out its objects—so far from disqualifying for office, appears to be considered by the Irish Government as a ground for investing the party with an office of the highest trust and responsibility. There is required nothing more than this to identify the Irish Government with this Association. Sir, I rest the case with confidence on this Pigott link—a link which cannot be broken—a link 378 which cannot be loosened, and which, beyond all cavil, identifies the Irish Government with the General Association. The Ministry may disclaim as long as they think fit; Lord Melbourne may say he does not like the Association at all; the noble Secretary opposite may say he likes it little better than Lord Melbourne; nothing can break this bond of identification; it is clear and palpable as anything ever was, that the Association enjoys the confidence of the King's Government, and the effect which this must produce cannot be dissembled. Having thus identified his Majesty's Government with the Association, I will now shortly quote to the House the sort of language that has been used at this Association, and state what its proceedings have been—an exposition not at all inapposite to the subject matter of debate, the introduction of a Municipal Bill for Ireland. I will not weary the House, or pain myself by going through the various statements of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny at this Association respecting the voluntary principle, but will mention to the House what language was held by that hon. and learned Gentleman with respect to his views of what would be the conduct of his Majesty's Government if he could induce them to go a certain length with him. I beg the attention of the House to the following words used by the hon. and learned Gentleman. They were remarkably frank, perfectly intelligible, and explicit, and if they did not warn the noble Lord and his Colleagues in the Government of the danger of their position, he at least hoped they would warn the House and the country what were the dangers of which they were about to become the instrument, if led by that hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny said, "I am for a reform of the House of Lords, and as a means for attaining it, I am for household suffrage, I am for the ballot, I am for doing away with a property qualification, I dislike the Tories as much as the ultra-Radicals in England, I am the very antipodes of them, I am for the Whigs;" but there was a condition attached to it. What was that condition? "They do not go the whole way with me, but when I get them to a certain point I will bring them the rest of the way." That quotation is surely pretty strong, but it is as nothing to what I am about to read, and which bears directly on the question of Municipal Reform. I may deceive myself, but I am prepared to take my stand on the following quotation, not against abolishing 379 the exclusive Protestant Corporations as they now exist with all their abuses in Ireland, but against the measure as proposed by the noble Lord, which I hold to be a direct transfer of power from the minority to the overwhelming majority. The hon. Member for Bath cannot state that I urge it unfairly. I maintain as a matter of opinion, that if I were to rest my opposition to this measure on any one single ground, I am prepared to rest it on the declaration I will read to the House, made by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, recollecting the extent of his influence, and the absolute dictatorship he exercises in Ireland. What was that declaration? Always bearing in mind and applying what was alleged to be Mr. Fox's doctrine of making concession on concession, the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny said "My opinion is, that the people will never rest satisfied till tithes are abolished—that is my opinion. That opinion I gave in the House of Commons during the course of the last Session. I said then as I say now, give us this instalment." There was the declaration of the instalment principle. "There is no danger, I say, of coaxing the people from their interests by giving them a taste of a few agreeable instalments." Where now, let me ask, is the Appropriation Clause? Will that satisfy the people of Ireland? "Let them have a little pap, and depend upon it they will acquire a relish for solid food. But to obtain Corporation Reform will be a pretty good instalment." The hon. and learned Member in one of his speeches talks of a fable of a man who, having had a favour bestowed on him by Satan, makes a bargain—very much such a bargain as that between the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Ministry—with Satan in return by way of paying for the favour, and Satan gives him the choice of paying his debt by doing one of three things, namely, either killing his father, beating his mother, or getting drunk; the man selects the latter alternative, and gets drunk, and being drunk, proceeds, as Satan clearly foresaw, to do both the other mentioned matters,—beats his mother and kills his father. I trust this fable will be adopted by the noble Lord as a warning to him. Beware, my Lord, of drunkenness; beware of giving Corporations to Ireland, or all the other things will follow. "Give me," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "Corporation Reform, and then I shall be able to carry all the rest." Here the secret was told—the truth transpired. The hon. and learned 380 Member for Kilkenny—he who was to be considered as the most competent witness—we have it from him in evidence what will be the effect of Corporation Reform. I ventured last year to predict as much, and I have the fulfilment of that prediction in the words and evidence of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny himself. I said then that the Protestant establishment of Ireland was on the very verge of ruin. But I have already trespassed too long on the House; I will therefore conclude with the few simple pathetic words of Lord Russell, the ancestor of the noble Lord opposite, the words of one on whose heart, even on the scaffold, an additional pang would have been inflicted, if he had been told and could have believed that in these latter days a descendant of his own—one who inherited all his courage, and many of his virtues, who was blessed by Providence with superior talent, and high in the confidence of his Sovereign, might have rescued the Protestant Church of Ireland in its utmost need from the extremity of danger, yet deliberately preferred its overthrow. The words used by Lord Russell were these: "I did believe, and do still, that Popery is breaking in upon this nation; and that those who advance it will stop at nothing to carry on their design. I am heartily sorry that so many Protestants give their helping hand to it."
§ Sir John Hobhouse
The applauses which proceed from hon. Gentlemen on the other side are very natural upon the conclusion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Will the House now allow me to make a few comments upon the remarks which he has made? I mean to do so not altogether in the tone adopted by my right hon. Friend, if he will permit me still so to call him. I mean to attempt recalling the House of Commons to that which in fact is the subject matter of debate. But in doing so I think that it is due in the first place to myself, as to others, to the noble and hon. persons with whom I have the honour to be connected, to make one or two comments upon that which formed, in my opinion, the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and which was directed against a noble Lord who holds a place at present in his Majesty's Administration. And why was this? Because that noble Lord happened to have used an ingenious quotation in the other House of Parliament. For this he has been subjected by 381 my right hon. Friend to what I must take the liberty of calling a very unjust imputation. The right hon. Gentleman has been pleased to say in reference to the quotation made by Lord Holland in the House of Lords—a quotation, I believe, from some monkish historian—I can help him to the name, although I suppose he does not require it from me—the quotation is from Janus Vitanus, and it is this: "Quæ perpetuo sunt agitata manent." And my right hon. Friend says, that the true interpretation of this is, that "by perpetual agitation" my noble Friend, the noble Lord, and we "are to remain in office."
§ Sir James Graham
was understood to disclaim applying it to the noble Lord in the manner described by the right hon. Baronet.
§ Sir J. Hobhouse
Did not the right hon. Baronet mean to apply it to the Administration of which the right hon. Baronet was a Member? By so applying it, I hope I am not guilty of any discourtesy in throwing back the imputation, and telling the right hon. Gentleman that no such motive influences his Majesty's Ministers in the conduct they pursue; and if the right hon. Gentleman can find for his charge no greater proof than that which he has brought forward to-night, I am quite confident that the country will not pass such a sentence as he has pronounced upon us. My right hon. Friend seems to think that it is for some base objects we are now sitting here—that it is for the mere emoluments, the mere power, that office confers that we condescend to sit here, and to be baited by him every night. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman has had too much experience of the personal honour if not of the political conduct of his former Friends, to believe that they are capable of acting in a manner so completely incompatible with the honour of English Gentlemen. I do not know what pleasure the right hon. Gentleman can find in thus perpetually putting forward such charges. But I wish to call this to his recollection, that when a man changes his opinions (I do not mean to say the right hon. Gentleman has done so); but when a man changes to another side of the House (and no one has a right to object to that); but this I say, that a man may act magnanimously without carrying into his new position a perpetual bitterness against his ancient allies. The right hon. Gentleman 382 has omitted no occasion on which he did not bring forward, not political, but personal charges against us. Allow me to say, that he has repeated this practice over and over again; and after having tried to create some division amongst the Friends behind me, he now tries to create divisions amongst those who supported the illustrious man who was at the head of the Administration to which that right hon. Gentleman belonged. I have seen his motives, and I have traced over and over again the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir J. Graham
rose to order. There was no person less disposed than he was to interrupt the course of the debate: but he appealed to the Speaker whether, when the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to impute motives, he did not exceed the order of debate.
§ Sir J. C. Hobhouse
I do not think I am open to the reprehension of the right hon. Baronet. I certainly said I could trace the motives; perhaps I ought to have said the intention. I do not mean to say anything whatever which can be construed into a want of courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman; but what I meant to say was this, that I thought I could trace repeatedly the hand of the right hon. Gentleman in an attempt to disconnect Lord Grey and those Friends of his who form the present Government, and those who happen to think with him. I had not the honour of being a member of the Cabinet of Lord Grey; but I had the honour of holding two high official situations under the right hon. Gentleman and under the noble Lord; and I had the honour of having the office of the Irish Secretaryship handed over to me. But this I can say, that if the right hon. Gentleman thinks to discredit us with some of the followers or Friends of Lord Grey who happen not to agree with those now connected with the Government—I must tell him this, that I have the best authority for saying that the noble and illustrious person referred to never has accused the Government of Lord Melbourne, and never had the right to complain, that they acted in any way that he could complain of. I do say that we are doing nothing more nor less than this, that we have attempted to carry on a great principle. This Administration is but the offspring of the Reform Bill. This Administration is but the offspring of that Bill, of which the right hon. Gentleman was one of the framers, and of which the 383 noble Lord opposite was one of the supporters. So far, then, from the right hon. Gentleman taunting us for anything we have done, and which could justify him in attacking us—so far from his branding this Administration with the character he has applied to us, I am confident that when the truth comes to be told we shall be considered to have fairly carried out the principle upon which the Government of 1830 acted. The right hon. Gentleman brought, I think, this question to the test, and which ought to be applied to it. It is this—how is Ireland to be governed? That is the test. I have not heard—I do not exactly know what is—the course that the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues mean to pursue on this occasion. They say they will not oppose the bringing in of the Bill. They say they do not mean to oppose, as far as I can understand, the second reading of this Bill. Am I to understand that they mean to take the same course that they did last Session? Am I to understand that they mean to annihilate the Protestant corporations in Ireland, and say that there are to be no corporations at all, for fear the Catholics should be admitted into them. Now this is the question, and nothing but this; and now let me come to a point which I do not understand. My noble Friend, the Secretary for the Home Department, has stated, that the Government intend to pass this Bill. They intend to attempt passing this Bill. And when my noble Friend says that, I certainly, as one of the Government, stand here in confirmation of that statement, and take its responsibility upon me. And I now ask the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if we do not pass this Bill, do they intend to govern Ireland upon the other principle? Does the right hon. Gentleman, supposing the happy day should arrive in which we should be relieved of our thankless servitude here, does he intend to govern Ireland with Orange handkerchiefs and "the Kentish fire," and this, too, with the assistance of a very respectable nobleman acting as fugleman? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to do this? I think that the King's Government, and the country too, will consider they have a right to ask the question, and to have a decided answer to it. I am here not to force an answer to my question from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but think the country will put such a 384 question, and also expect an answer to it. The answer they will have to give must be, whether or not they mean to give a Corporation Bill to Ireland—whether do you intend to legislate for Ireland as you legislate for England and Scotland—whether you, distinguished gentlemen and powerful party opposite, mean to govern Ireland on opposite principles? There is no medium in these two courses. The Irish people, I tell you, will reject your no-corporation principle. I do not speak of your, so called, Protestants; but I am speaking of the Irish people, as represented by the mass—as represented by the great body of the intelligence, wealth, talent, and power of the community. I say, they will not be content with the annihilation of the Corporations as they exist—they will not, certainly, be satisfied with a middle course with which you hope to content them; and before you make a stand at all, you must determine what is the course you will take. Will you take up that position which you retreated from before, and by retreating from which you obtained so much power and popularity at the time. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be prepared to tell the country—I mean when he and his party succeed to our places—he ought to be prepared to tell the country whether he intends that there shall be no Corporation reform for Ireland—whether he intends to govern in spite of the majority—a majority in his own House of Commons, assembled under his own auspices, and all this, too, because that proposal is supported by a majority in the House of Lords. I tell a plain tale. The hon. Member for Bath complained last night that we were not sufficiently explicit. I do not object to his complaining, but he shall not have to complain of my not being explicit enough to-night. The question to be decided to-night is this: shall this country be governed by a majority of the House of Lords against a majority of the House of Commons, or shall it be governed by a majority of the House of Commons against a majority of the House of Lords? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to govern by a majority of the House of Lords against a majority of the House of Commons? I quote his own words—he has said he could not. I have his recorded phrases about me. I do not quote newspapers. The right hon. Baronet said, he would not do it, and he did 385 do it afterwards. He decried the practice, and he afterwards gave us a notable instance of his falling into it himself. I am quite sure, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) is not afraid of his own words. That right hon. Baronet did say, that it was to a majority of this House he intended to appeal. It is to that majority I appeal—in a Parliament collected by himself and under his own auspices; collected, I will not say under what pretences, for I do not wish to lower any one in his own estimation and that of others. But the Parliament I appeal to is, in the common acceptation, his own, and from that Parliament it would be hardly fair, and I trust that, if tried, it would not be safe, for him to appeal. Our majority upon this question is 86. Are we to be controlled by a majority of the other House of Parliament? I say, no—decidedly no; and unless the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept the Government on the terms of carrying it on by a majority of the House of Lords controlling the majority of the House of Commons, controlling, too, that which is a popular question, one of municipal rights, and a question with which the House of Commons must be considered far more conversant than the other House, unless he is prepared to accept the Government on such terms, I say, that his opposition to this measure is not wise, and is not consistent with his usual prudence; and I trust, as experience on so many other occasions has proved, he will be shown to be also wrong on this. The noble Lord has introduced a Bill similar to that of last year, one for forming Municipal Corporations in Ireland, and I must say, that I have heard nothing, unless from the right hon. Gentleman, which could in the least approach to any argument against the introduction of that measure. It has been said, that the people of Ireland are unfit and disqualified for power; that is to say, that if power be given to them they will use it, not for the common weal, but against it. And whereas, you may give Corporations in Scotland and in England, that you may fairly intrust to the people the selection of those who will manage their own affairs, in Ireland you may not so intrust them—that there, if you give them the power, they will only select persons who will do mischief to the community. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, 386 has taken the high religious ground; he apprehends, if you give these Corporations to Ireland, they will do something against the Protestant religion in that country. Has, I ask, the Protestant religion flourished under the present corporation system? Certainly not. If none but Catholics had been selected to fill offices in Corporations, surely no more mischief could have been done than by the system hitherto pursued. I am sure, if we are to judge of Protestantism by Protestants, we can have no other opinion. I do not think the Recorder of Dublin is a good judge upon this subject; he, in reference to it, quoted rather a profane author, Homer, of its being like a golden chain let down from heaven, and thus communicating divine blessings to man! We have tried the pure Protestantism of the right hon. Gentleman for some time, and what are we now going to try? Something in a spirit of fairness and impartiality. My noble Friend, in one part of his speech, alluded, as I have before said, to what would be the probable result of the rejection of this Bill. Supposing that catastrophe which he shadowed out in no very ambiguous phrase were to occur, all I shall say is this, that I think we have not rendered ourselves liable to any of the imputations which have been cast on us. When first we undertook the Government of the country, which we did under most difficult circumstances, we began by attempting to confer, and we succeeded in giving free Municipal Corporations in England. In the course of the last Parliament, we passed many acts which I feel certain a dispassionate posterity will consider of great benefit to this country; it is my belief, that even the hon. Gentlemen who are now our opponents, will, one day or other, confess that we deserve for these acts the approbation of the country. If we fail in the object we have now in view—that of making Ireland participate in the blessings we have assisted in conferring on England, we shall, at least, fail honourably. We shall, at least, have attempted a great object, and it is more honourable to fail in an endeavour of magnitude than in a small undertaking. The whole of our career, short as it has been, has been marked with that endeavour. These observations I must be allowed to make in justice to our own characters, in justice to our constituents, in justice to that majority of the House which has hitherto supported 387 us, which, I have no doubt, will still continue to lend us its generous aid, and in the face of which, I must repeat, I defy the right hon. Baronet to undertake the Government of this country.
§ Sir Robert Peel
I should infer, Sir, that, as it is not intended to take the division in this stage of the proceedings, it might suit the general convenience that the debate should be brought to a close. If I am wrong in that impression, I am perfectly ready to give way to what may be the prevailing opinion respecting the adjournment. But if the general wish is that this debate should be brought to a close, I am ready so far to give effect to that wish, as to make now the few observations which I have to make. I say the few observations, because I am almost ashamed to rise after the speech of my right hon. Friend who sits on my left hand, and after that attempt at a reply, heard from a Minister of the Crown. I know and I respect the ability of that right hon. Gentleman—and what inference do I draw from his failure? Not that his powers have deserted him, but that he felt the utter impossibility of contending with the speech which he followed, but which he did not attempt to answer. I have been rather surprised by the course which this debate has taken. His Majesty called our attention, in the Speech from the Throne, to the state of Ireland. He especially commanded the Commissioners to bring under our notice the state of Ireland, and the wisdom of adopting all such measures as may improve the condition of that part of the United Kingdom. His Majesty recommended an early consideration, in the same sentence, of three great measures—the constitution of the municipal body in Ireland, the question of the Church, and the question of the application of poor-laws to Ireland. And when the noble Lord intimated to us that he did not intend, in moving for leave to bring in the Municipal Bill, to confine himself to the discussion of the abstract merits of that question, but would enter into the general question of the state of Ireland, I took it for granted it was his intention to take a comprehensive view of the condition of that country, and to afford us an outline of each of the three great measures alluded to in his Majesty's Speech. What, however, was the course which the noble Lord, the leader of the House of Commons, took on opening the subject? He fixed on a resolution which had been passed by a body of Gentlemen, 388 in Dublin, who had met to petition Parliament. He concealed from us everything which he intended with respect to the Church—he concealed from us everything which he intended with respect to poor. laws—but he provoked a discussion on the 14th Resolution, which had been come to by a number of Gentlemen who thought they might with safety exercise the humble privilege of petition. He knew the petition was to be presented to the House—for that appeared on the face of the resolution—but he would hardly wait till it was signed, before be made an attack on it. He knew that the proper time for making any charges with respect to those resolutions was when the petition should be presented; but he took the opportunity of introducing the Municipal Bill to accuse those who had attended the meeting, but who were not yet prepared with a petition, of making charges against the Ministry, which they shrunk from supporting in their places in Parliament. The noble Lord had received an answer which he little expected. "You deal in general, in vague declamation," said the noble Lord; "no facts have you to mention, not one: I challenge you to come forward with the details; and I will brand you with disgrace, unless you produce your facts." Well, four hours did not elapse before the discussion became very inconvenient; and then the House was told, that it would be infinitely better to confine themselves to the great question, which was the proper object of our debate—that the detail of small facts was more inconvenient than a statement of general principles—and we were implored to return to that which was the legitimate subject for our consideration, viz. the Municipal Bill. There were facts in abundance. The resolution complained of was this—that patronage had been so applied, and the prerogative of mercy so exercised, as to shake confidence in the administration of justice. Well, the facts were brought forward, by which that general allegation was supported, and a tender was made by those who did bring them forward to prove them before any tribunal which the House of Commons should choose to appoint. It was said, "We assert that persons have been placed in a situation, who, however respectable in private life—who, however eminent in certain attainments of a lawyer, have still not that professional standing which entitled them to be placed over the heads of other barristers of superior qualifications; and the consequence of that un- 389 due advancement has been, that in a situation of the utmost importance—more important than the ostensibly responsible situation of Attorney or Solicitor-General, because the influence is greater, the attendance is more constant, and the duties more unseen,—in that situation of confidential advice has been placed an individual who has taken an active part in the Association now existing in Ireland." That was one fact; and it was offered to establish it before a Select Committee, fairly and impartially constituted. "A Select Committee!" say they; "Oh no—you cannot have a Select Committee; these things are not fit for inquiry before a Select Committee. Move an impeachment; an impeachment is the only course." What! an impeachment to inquire whether, in discharging by wholesale prisoners from gaol. Lord Mulgrave has exercised wisely the prerogative of mercy?—to inquire whether Mr. Pigott was, under all the circumstances, a proper individual to be appointed confidential adviser at the Castle? Let me ask, is there no possibility of questioning any act of a Minister of the Crown, or of a member of the Government, but by going through the cumbersome process of an impeachment? Must the noble Lord the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or the noble Lord the Secretary fox-that country, be put on the footing of a Strafford or a Laud, or will he not condescend to answer the objections that may be made to his conduct? It must surely be by a Select Committee, and not by impeachment, that we can inquire whether Lord Oxmantown appointed Mr. Cassidy to the magistracy prior to or subsequently to the occurrences which induced Lord de Vesey not to recommend him to the commission of the peace for the Queen's County. Do you mean to resist the inquiry into these facts? Do you mean, after resting this debate on the 14th or 24th Resolution that was come to at the meeting in Dublin—do you mean, after saying, "Those allegations and vituperations are unfair, and let us have facts—facts with which we can deal, and to which we can reply"—do you mean, after this, to turn round and tell us that "Nothing but impeachment will do: we are so convinced of the high dignity of our situation, that we will yield to nothing but an impeachment; nothing short of an impeachment will satisfy us?" Why did not the noble Lord take the more statesman-like course of entering on the state of Ireland?— 390 [Lord John Russell: I did so.]—Yes; but the state of Ireland into which the noble Lord entered, was that from which the Church question was excluded—was that from which the question of poor-laws was excluded. The noble Lord's performance was an improvement on the provincial performance of which we have heard; for it was the play of Hamlet with both the parts of Hamlet and Ophelia omitted. You tell us, because we refuse to apply the same principle to Ireland, in respect of municipal institutions, that we have applied to England, that we are inflicting wrong, and offering insult to the people of Ireland. Now, let me ask you, do you intend to apply that rule to the other measures? Do you, having made certain laws with respect to the Church of England—do you, having passed an Act of Parliament which granted the incorporation of the Church of Ireland with the Church of England—do you mean to apply the identical principle of legislation to the Church of Ireland, which you have applied to the Church of England? If you do not, on what ground do you refuse? Is it not that there is a peculiarity of circumstances—is it not that there is a peculiarity in the state of society in Ireland, which justifies the application to that country of a different principle? If that be true with respect to the Church—if it be not an insult to Ireland to apply different principles on account of different circumstances—let me tell you, you are not to take it for granted that a refusal to acknowledge an identity with regard to another measure is an insult to the people. Do you mean to apply the same principles to Ireland as you have acted on in England, with respect to the poor-laws? That is an important subject, affecting the interests, the sympathies, and feelings of as great a number of human beings as the Municipal Corporations Reform, or almost any other political question which can be mooted. The law of England is, that every person born in the kingdom, who is old, blind, maimed, or otherwise impotent, is entitled to relief from his parish. Do you mean to apply that law to Ireland—you who talk so loudly of identity of legislalation? I fear you do not. I know many among those who clamour the loudest about justice and equal laws are the most forward to charge us with insulting the people of Ireland, and the most active in crying out for redress—who shrink within themselves when poor-laws for Ireland are the subject of discussion. Poverty and impo- 391 tence are not entitled in their eyes, to the same identity of legislation as political partisans. On this point they show themselves in their true colours, and the principle of identity, as far as the right of the poor to relief is concerned, is denominated by no more soothing appellation than "a great humbug." When we ask these clamourers for equal laws and justice, why do you refuse to support your poor on the same fooling as the poor in England are supported, and tell them to do so in perfect accordance with their own principle of identity of legislation, they answer us, and say, "Ireland is differently circumstanced from England; the whole question depends upon circumstances; it should be left open to them." The noble Lord should have told us his intentions with regard to poor-laws for that country as well as tithes; and I maintain that he cannot justly call on the House to pass the Bill for which he has moved respecting the municipal corporations without letting us know what his measures on those two points will embrace. With respect to poor-laws for Ireland, see for a moment what the operation would be on this measure. In England the right of voting depends not on the value of the house in which the voter lives, but on the payment of his rates—in which are included, of course, the poor-rate. Now, before you offer us the Municipal Corporation Bill for Ireland, do you refuse to give us any explanation on the subject of the connexion of rating with the right of voting in towns in Ireland? Do you mean to say, that those who are rated to the poor-rate alone shall have the right to vote, or that that right shall be derived solely from the value of the tenement occupied by the inhabitant of the town. In either case, do you mean to submit the Municipal Bill to the Committee before you give any explanation of your views on this most important question? The country longs for an answer. My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) on my left has so fully entered into all the subjects broached in the collateral discussion which was invited, provoked, and compelled, by the noble Lord opposite, that he has spared me the trouble, and precluded me from the necessity of proceeding any length with it. He has, in short, anticipated me, and left me very little to say on them. The two main questions, however, broached in the resolution which the noble Lord has made the basis of the discussion, are, whether the patronage vested in the Irish Government has been 392 properly exercised, and whether the royal prerogative of mercy, placed in the hands of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, has been rightly applied. By far the greatest matter connected with the former was the appointment of Mr. Pigott to the situation of confidential adviser at the Castle. Mr. Pigott, from all I have heard, is a respectable man; but I contend that his appointment was improper. Do you think that I object to it because he is a Roman Catholic? No, far be it from me to do so. I object to because it shows the animus which actuates the Government, and because it is a direct encouragement and sanction to the Association now sitting in Dublin, that gentleman being an active member of the body. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) asks me what course I shall pursue when I receive that appointment of which I had not the slightest expectation until the right hon. Gentleman spoke. To this I answer that, as I doubt his authority to confer that appointment on me, I also doubt his right to catechise me on the results of a contingency which, until this night, I thought of all other things was the most remote. And now, what between the funeral speech of the right hon. Gentleman—the song of the dying swan—and the declaration volunteered by him, that it would be madness in me to hope to conduct the Government at all, I am left in the greatest doubt as to the actual position in which I stand. That speech was half a congratulation on the future prospects of the Government of which the right hon. Baronet is a Member, and half consisted of lugubrious prophesies and lamentations as to their inability to carry it on. But I shall answer his question more fully. I shall contrast with it the course which I pursued in respect to the Orange societies last Session of Parliament, and the course which the Government pursues in respect to the National Association in Ireland during this. I am told by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, that the greater part of my support in the House is derived from the adherence of Orangemen to me, and the influence of Orangemen in my favour. Now, I appeal to my hon. Friends behind me, many of whom were then members of Orange societies, whether any man could be more anxious to persuade them than I was at the time his Majesty's commands for their suppression was issued to acquiesce in them—or whether any man could have been more studious to change and divest those societies of the spirit that 393 pervaded them which might have been dangerous to the peace and tranquillity of the country? In those endeavours I was aided by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, who, on that occasion, spoke the sentiments of the Government. Will he now take the same course with regard to the National Association? He cannot depart from his principles of identity in legislation, although the national Association, and not municipal laws, be the subject of discussion. When the suppression of the Orange societies was in question the noble Lord came down to the House, and stated that he had consulted the law-officers of the Crown—the Attorney and Solicitor General—and that there existed doubts in his mind as to the illegality of these societies. He threw himself therefore on their loyalty, and he said he felt himself compelled to rely on their good sense. That was the appeal he made to them—will he try a similar one with the loyalty of the National Association? He said, moreover, that secret signs and symbols were not illegal; but that secret meetings, held in different parts of the country, presided over by regularly appointed presidents, were so. He also urged the right of the Crown to ask any one in its employment, especially if it was one of trust and responsibility, whether he belonged to a secret society of any kind, and if he did, to discharge him, unless he at once dissolved his connexion with it. Did the noble Lord ask that question of Mr. Pigott? I think the principle laid down by the noble Lord was, that when a civil office is to be conferred the Government shall lay down the conditions on which it can be held. Did the noble Lord exercise the right he asserted on the former occasion to do that in the instance of Mr. Pigott? If the dissolution of all connexion with societies of that nature was required as a sine qua non of all persons appointed to or serving in situations under the Government, why did not the noble Lord require it in this case as well as in the other ease where Orangemen were in question? The noble Lord on that occasion also said, in allusion to the magistracy, that no man should be appointed who belonged to any political society, because the Bench should be free from all suspicion, and the magistrate should have the character of impartiality with all classes of society which he was called on to deal with. I think that is a good rule, but has the noble Lord applied it to the recent appointments to the 394 magistracy of Ireland? Have no members of the National Association been made magistrates since their connexion with it? The noble Lord expressed his confidence in the loyalty of the Orange societies, and stated that he was satisfied they would obey the King's wishes, and dissolve without the necessity of any law against them. Has he made a similar experiment on the loyalty of the National Association? Has he equal confidence in that body? But why do I ask, what is the meaning of the Prime Minister of England condemning and denouncing this association in the House of Lords, when a vacancy in a public situation of great trust is filled by one of its most active members, and you boast in the House of Commons that you and the law-officers of the Crown are identified with it? I know that a distinction may be drawn by a technical mind between the nature of the two classes of associations. I know that it may be urged that one was secret and exclusive, composed alone of Protestants, and holding its meetings in private, while the other is open to the public, and free to all conditions and creeds to enter into. But let us examine for a moment this distinction. The noble Lord declared that secrecy was not illegal; and it appears that the only penalty which it could incur would be the hon. Gentleman's disapprobation on the other side of the House. But, even supposing it were, it is not in secrecy alone that danger consists. The Jacobin Club of Paris was not a secret club; its sittings were open to all coiners. Yet what mischief did it not do? That club, which has ramifications all over the country—which has pacificators in every place—which collects money—which interferes with the administration of justice, and the due execution of the law—that is the dangerous club. Such an one is the National Association. It is said that it is a consequence of bad legislation. So much the worse is it likely to be. Why, then, encourage it—why sanction its proceedings? You, who conclude all your speeches respecting Ireland with a cry for impartial justice as well as equal laws, why, I ask you, do you place in offices of power and responsibility men who belong to an association which could pass this resolution and be prepared to act on it. Resolved—"That it be recommended to all parishes throughout Ireland to hold public meetings on the same day in every part of the kingdom." What is the object of that resolution, let me ask you, except it be to show the phy- 395 sical force which they command, and so to compel acquiescence in their wishes? And for what purposes were these meetings to be held, and was this display of physical force to be organised? The resolution explains the whole matter, for it concludes thus—"To petition in favour of Corporate Reform, Vote by Ballot, the total Abolition of Tithes, and to appoint Pacificators." When the downcast clergy of the Established Church in Ireland are seen daily struggling for the maintenance of their legal rights—and daily driven down also by famine and privations of every description, because they can not get what is their right by law—when the noble Lord opposite tells us that that country is in a state of perfect quietude, and offers these injured men a verse of a modern song as an only consolation, while the more eloquent prose of the insurance offices informs them pithily that their lives cannot be insured—when such men as Mr. Pigott are put into offices of high trust, without relinquishing their connexion with an association which cries aloud for the abolition of the "blood-stained impost, tithes," then is all confidence in the integrity of the Government destroyed, and every honest man will begin to think it his duty to take care of himself. Such is the state of Ireland at present. With respect to the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the noble Lord opposite admits that several prisoners were discharged by that Nobleman, on his visitation of the kingdom—some of them according to the regular forms used in such cases, others without attending to those forms. When the subject was first mooted, it was said to us, "Oh, you object to clemency—you lack mercy." We answer, that we do not object to clemency, and we hope that we do not lack mercy. We do not object to clemency, but we do to its injurious exercise. Clemency, well-timed and applied properly, is a blessing; but to give it a good effect, it should be extended with due regard to the claim of those praying for it—with a due regard to the public interest, including the respect owing to justice, and with a careful attention to the character of the judges who tried the convict, and who, to administer mercy wisely and rightly, ought, in all cases of the kind, to be consulted by the person having the power of extending it. We do not object to clemency; but we object to that which, under its sacred name, would make the administration of justice odious; 396 and, by giving one party the exclusive privilege of indiscriminate mercy, would render another the object of hatred and fear. Such an use of the Royal prerogative is only calculated to make mercy odious, and clemency ridiculous. The Lord Lieutenant had dealt with clemency, in round numbers, merely on the report of an inspector of prisons. Now, I would ask, is there any precedent for such an indiscriminate application of the great attribute of mercy? Certainly not, upon any principle, or on any known authority. I recollect I had the honour of accompanying his late Majesty on his visit to Scotland—a visit of peculiar interest, as it was the first occasion on which that portion of the empire had been visited by a Prince of the House of Hanover, as the Sovereign of the country. Now I doubt very much that, on that occasion, any person confined on a criminal charge, was liberated, to do honour to the visit of the Chief Governor—and I think I do recollect, that some persons confined for breaches of the excise laws, were discharged from prison; but even this was not done until the cases had been referred to the Excise-office, and a selection made of the cases that were most deserving of the Royal clemency. This is the only instance that I know of, in which mercy was extended to persons confined for offences against the law, on the visit of a Chief Governor. Oh! yes, there is one other instance that occurs to my mind, but it is of a poetical nature. It is recorded in a farce—a farce known, I believe, by the name of Tom Thumb. If I recollect right, and I refer to the classical authority of the hon. Gentleman opposite, the King and Lord Grizzle appear upon the stage. The King says, "Rebellion is dead—I'll go to breakfast." And to celebrate the auspicious event, he says, "Open the prisons—turn the captives loose—and let our treasurer advance a guinea from our royal treasury to pay their several debts." These are the only two instances of mercy ex. tended to prisoners on the visits of Chief Governors to particular towns with which I am acquainted—one is from real life, and the other from fiction. On the visit of his Majesty, to which I have alluded, some offenders were certainly pardoned, but on a visit of the Lord-Lieutenant to the prisons, the governors are called on to sacrifice a hecatomb of victims to grace the majesty of a Chief Governor. But now with respect to subordinate points; for, after the overwhelming debate which the 397 noble Lord had opened on the 14th Resolution passed at the Dublin meeting, one is almost inclined to forget that such matters as a Municipal Bill, a Poor Law Bill, a Church Bill, and a Tithe Bill, remain to be discussed. With regard to the Municipal Bill, I was glad to hear that the hon. and learned Member for Bath had on that point reserved to them the right of free discussion; and I will therefore state my opinions on that subject with as much absence of personality as the hon. Member can desire, and with as much mildness as is consistent with the very strong objections I entertain to it. In the address of the noble Lord to the House, he said, that because Englishmen inhabited England, and Scotchmen inhabited Scotland, we considered them deserving of municipal government, but because Ireland was inhabited by Irishmen, we considered them not to be entitled to the same advantage, and were determined to withhold them; and we are told, that because we withheld these privileges, we offer an insult to the Irish people. Now, Sir, I utterly disclaim intending to offer any insult to the Irish people. It is not because they are Irishmen that I do not think it politic to extend to them the same corporate rights that England and Scotland enjoy. No, Sir, it is on far different grounds. It is because I entertain great doubts of the goodness of that policy which would destroy one set of corporate bodies, and establish another description of corporate bodies in their stead, which would be liable to the same objection as the old. It is contended that, according to the Act of Union, and after the Catholic Relief Bill had passed, there ought to be an equality of rights and privileges extended to Ireland, and the other branches of the Empire. I fully grant that, under those Acts, the people of Ireland have a perfect right to the enjoyment of all civil privileges; but I utterly deny that corporations form any portion of those civil rights. Will any man say that injustice is done to Manchester or Birmingham, because they have not had charters of incorporation granted to them; or, if those towns have been unjustly excluded, I ask, why have not those privileges been extended to them? It is not the principle of self-government that is at all involved in this question, but whether or no corporate institutions shall be continued in Ireland. I am bound to admit, that the presumption is in favour of the continuance of those institutions because of their antiquity, and because simi- 398 lar institutions exist in England; but I do say, notwithstanding, that if the continuing of these institutions in their renewed shape shall appear dangerous to the safety of other institutions which we are still more strongly bound to preserve—I say, if they endanger the free expression of opinion by the minority, and expose some of the best interests of society to great hazard, then I say there are reasons, and reasons which go far with me in countervailing the other arguments in favour of the continuance of those Corporations. I know we are accused of entertaining a prejudiced and bigoted feeling against the Roman Catholics. For myself, I can only meet such an accusation with the most direct and positive denial. No such feeling exists with me. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asks me what I mean to do with the municipal question in Ireland when I come into office. Now he is in office, and let me ask him, in return, what he means to do with the Church of Ireland? Does he mean to disturb it or not? He is bound to answer that question. I say, that when I see an Association established in Ireland arrayed against the Established Church, and I am told that that Association will be continued while the Church is suffered to exist—when I know the power which the re-establishment of Municipal Corporations would give to that Association—can I doubt that the Church would be endangered by their existence, when the main object and efforts of the Association to which I allude, are avowed to be the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland? When we are told, that we on this side of the House are influenced by hostility to the Roman Catholics in our opposition to this measure, have we not something to complain of? Have we not some right to entertain a feeling of jealousy? In the year 1829 we passed the Act for the relief of the Roman Catholics. I never took any praise to myself for the part I had in passing that measure, because I own it was forced upon me. I leave to others the sole credit of having passed it; but to charge me with having joined in passing it for the purpose of retaining office is altogether unjust and groundless. What would they say if the fact were, although it might not he known, that I was out of office the very night before I proposed the Bill to the House! It was said, that if that Bill passed it would restore a perfect civil equality in Ireland, and the question was asked in every way, what would be the feelings of the Roman Catho- 399 lies towards the Established Church in the event of the Bill passing? The answer of Dr. Doyle, and all others of the Catholic Clergy and laity to whom the question was put, distinctly was,—"The complete removal of our civil disabilities will prevent any future intermeddling with the Church Establishment, that all agitation will cease, and that there will be a return, both on the part of the laity and the clergy, to the peaceful occupation of their former lives." We are now asked for further concession; but are the same promises and declarations made to us? No such thing. After we had been told that the Church Establishment should not be subverted—after hoping that the granting of equal civil privileges would put an end to all further demands—the Representatives sent to this House are told that it is their duty to obtain entire religious freedom. They were told that while the Church Establishment remains, we are to have unabated agitation, and that the new normal schools shall be applied to that purpose. When we hear it declared, that while the Church Establishment exists in Ireland agitation will never cease, do we offer an insult if we refuse to strengthen the means for this agitation? Do we offer an insult if we desire to defend that Establishment? What, I ask, was the language of him whom the Roman Catholics themselves selected as their advocate? What was the language of Lord Plunkett, the most powerful and able advocate, in my opinion, that the Roman Catholics ever had? I mean to speak of the ability exhibited upon the Roman Catholic question: he more than any other man contributed to the success of that measure. He must have spoken from his instructions: he was the chosen advocate of the Roman Catholics: he asked the Protestants of England to waive their prejudices; and he told them what were his opinions with respect to the Church. I ask you, are they stronger than mine? Lord Plunkett is still a Member of the Government: has he changed his opinions? These opinions were delivered by him in bringing forward the Roman Catholic question, and the people of England had confidence when the advocate of the Roman Catholics expressed those sentiments. Lord Plunkett said, "If I could agree in believing, that no step could be taken towards the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics without destroying the Protestant Church in Ireland, I, who have supported these claims from my earliest life, would at once abandon them. I would change sides, and be- 400 come as strenuously their opponents as I have been their conscientious advocate." Lord Plunkett said this, and he said more. He said, "I look upon the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland as settled at the Union, and to talk of shaking it without shaking the whole empire is idle. The Protestant Church Establishment is the cement of the Union, and is interwoven with the institutions of both countries, and, if destroyed, all public security must be shaken, the connexion between the two countries destroyed, and the ruin of private property must follow the ruin of the property of the Church." When was this opinion given by Lord Plunkett? Not in 1825, but in 1828, the very year before the Catholic Relief Bill passed. If those opinions were sound, I appeal to the people of England, who are so constantly invoked [cheers]—if I understand those cheers the hon. Gentlemen opposite mistake me: I do not mean the English people exclusively; but I say I do appeal to the people of this empire, who must ultimately be the judges if the opinions of Lord Plunkett have been verified. I appeal to their deliberate judgment, whether, when they see an association, levying large contributions, and declaring that it never will cease agitation while the Established Church exists, they can hesitate to believe that to grant such corporations as this Bill calls for to the towns in Ireland would not be to endanger the other institutions of the country? The noble Lord, and he was glad to hear it, intimated his intention of sustaining the Established Church; but I ask on what principles he will sustain it? The noble Lord quoted an expression of Mr. Fox respecting concession as a means of procuring good and peaceable government in Ireland. If the noble Lord agrees in the sentiments of Mr. Fox—if he says, I will concede one thing, and if that is not enough I will concede another, and when he finds that the grant of municipal corporations will not satisfy those who call out for justice, what will he next concede? Why, if he believes that this last concession will satisfy them, he has more grounds for the belief than I have, when I find that after battling for four or five years the foundation is no better than it was before, when the principles of concession advocated by Mr. Fox virtually commenced. Now, let me ask, if this system of concession is to go on, how the noble Lord is to maintain the Church? The noble Lord, concurring with Mr. Fox, said he knew no other plan for governing a peo- 401 ple but by allowing them to have their own way. But the noble Lord must know, for he has had fair notice, that while the Protestant Church remains, the National Association will agitate for concession. The noble Lord by adopting the principle concedes every thing—for if he acts on the doctrine that the people must have every thing they demand, he must not only concede till municipal reform is granted, but also till the Protestant Church is destroyed. I heard that declaration from the noble Lord with the utmost regret. There is only one other point to which I wish to refer, and as the best reward for the patience with which the House has done me the honour to listen to me, I will confine myself to that, and ask how the granting of municipal reform will interfere with the administration of justice? These corporations are to have the appointment of the sheriffs, and consequently the chief influence in the administration of justice; and let me ask what will be the consequences of such a concession in the present heated and feverish state of Ireland? What will be its effect on the minority, but to deprive them of that free and independent action which is necessary for the administration of justice? And let me appeal again to that same Fox who warned his audience against mistaking paper regulations for practical institutions—against attempting to establish any identity of institutions in countries of different habits and different manners, and distracted by religious jealousy, thereby interfering with the administration of justice and the protection of equal laws, and not giving that justice which it was the duty of every Legislature to give, to the minority as well as the majority.
§ Lord John Russell
, in reply, said, in bringing forward the motion he had endeavoured to avoid topics which could be more conveniently discussed on the second reading, and confine himself strictly to the topics which belonged to the introduction of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had complained of the course which he had adopted, and had expressed his surprise that the three great questions affecting Ireland, namely, Corporation Reform, Poor laws and the Church of Ireland, had not been brought under the notice of the House in his opening speech. But he should scarcely have done his duty if he had mixed up Poor-laws which gentlemen of every party were ready to enter into free from party feelings, with a question which had already been, and will be again, the cause of party contention. He 402 had advisedly adverted to the government of Lord Mulgrave in Ireland, because that seemed to him, after what had beer, said, a proper subject in order to hear the opinions of Members on the opposite side of the House. He should not therefore have expected from the right hon. Gentleman that when an objection was made to that part of the discussion by the hon. Member for Bath, that that interruption should have been attributed to him as if he had interfered. He could only say, that the hon. Member for Bath did not speak from any prompting of his, and yet it had been thrown out, that he had in that way attempted to control the debate. With respect to the resolutions passed at the Meeting at Dublin, he had not read anything in them that induced him to suppose that a petition was the object of the meeting. It might, indeed, have been an oversight—if he had perceived it he should have deferred his remarks for another opportunity. As for the notice for presenting the petition, it had not met his eye. He was not aware how the right hon. Gentleman could expect Government to propose a Committee. As for the allegations respecting the Lord-Lieutenant, a Committee had been proposed to inquire into them, but he was sure the right hon. Baronet would concur with him in thinking that the charges made against Lord Mulgrave could not be referred to a Committee, and that the only way to bring the question regularly before the House was in the shape of impeachment. For himself, he had seen no ground for inquiry into the disputes between Mr. Cassidy and his neighbours, and he thought that no one had been able to attach any blame to the transaction. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke at the close of the debate had pointed out two principal grounds of accusation against the Government of Ireland, the first of which was the appointment of Mr. Pigott to an office of great importance under the Crown, and one in which great confidence was reposed. The right hon. Gentleman made that accusation on the ground of that gentleman's belonging to the General Association, and appealed to what had taken place last year in regard to certain secret lodges and societies, comparing them with this associations. He certainly thought there was a very great difference between a secret society meeting by secret symbols, and a society which held all its meetings openly, and was accessible at all times to the public. But without dwelling upon that point, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when he 403 formed his Government, two years ago, he had included no persons in his appointments who were connected with Orange lodges? Not to mention more names, was not the hon. and gallant Member for Sligo employed in the administration of the right hon. Gentleman? But he would not content himself with this defence, he would say more; he would speak to the character of Mr. Pigott, and his fitness for the office to which he had been appointed, and that upon the testimony of an hon. and learned Member, who had that evening addressed the House—he meant the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, who declared that Mr. Pigott was a man of very great talent and ability. Well, Mr. Pigott being a gentleman of very great talent and ability, when an office of importance under the Crown fell vacant, was the Lord-Lieutenant, considering Mr. Pigott the fittest person for that office, to pass him by because he chanced to be a member of the General Association. The question was simply this; and the right hon. Member for Cumberland surely did not mean to charge the Government with being connected with that Association, on account of such an occurrence as this. He (Lord J. Russell) took it for granted, that Mr. Pigott, from the time he undertook his appointment, would no longer mix himself up in the meetings of the Association; and he did repeat his opinion that a man of great talents and merit was not to be put aside merely because in a time of great and natural exasperation he had been one of those respectable and loyal persons who had joined the General Association of Ireland. In saying this, he did not mean to deny that the General Association, if it were to continue in operation, might afford grounds for apprehension; but he did not admit the ground taken up by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that the Municipal Corporations, as they were proposed to be framed, would be dangerous, by exercising in them practices against the safety of the Church and the other institutions of the country. It was his firm belief that this Association would not have been in existence if the Municipal Corporations had been established last year. The Association, therefore, and its resolutions, which had been so much complained of, were the consequence not of Municipal institutions, but of the refusal to grant them. The Association certainly had not assumed any one feature which was now 404 reprobated, till the Irish felt themselves insulted and aggrieved. The right hon. Gentleman, going into other subjects, had likewise censured him, because he had not brought forward the question of the Church of Ireland. He could only say that his wish and intention was, as far as lay in his power, to maintain the Church of Ireland; but, at the same time, he must tell the right hon. Gentleman, and the friends who acted with him, that they were the persons who had put the Church of Ireland into jeopardy. His firm belief was, that if the Bill of the year before last had been accepted, they would have obtained, on the cheapest possible terms, a measure of defence for the Church of Ireland, better than they had any reason now to expect. Having once, in the passing of that measure, obtained a very large majority of this House, pledged to maintain the Church of Ireland upon the footing established by it, that in itself would have been a very strong guarantee for the security of the Church. "You chose," said the noble Lord, "to reject that Bill, and all I can say at present is, that I view with pain, with great pain, the present condition of things, not only as it affects the Church of Ireland, but as it affects those from whom the revenue of the Church of Ireland is raised. All I can say is, that if, at the commencement of the session, I had stated any plan as to the Church of Ireland, or as to the tithes, I should not have been likely to have produced more agreement on these subjects than existed in a previous year. But it will be my study to find some method by which Parliament can come to an agreement in the present session on this subject. I am ready to consent to a considerable sacrifice; but what I say is this—I do not say, whilst I profess an intention to maintain the Church of Ireland,—I do not say that you can expect any such a compromise as the year before last many persons were ready to accept. The Church of Ireland stands in an anomalous position with regard to the people of that country. I have read many works on our own church; I have read the charge of the Bishop of Exeter, in which it is stated how much benefit has resulted to the social relations of this country from the Established church, especially in the instruction of the poor; and the benefit which the great mass of the poor of this country has derived from the church. In all this, as re- 405 gards the Church of England, I am disposed to agree; but no man can say that the remark applies to the Church of Ireland. It is this situation which makes it not a matter for mere party debate and taunt, but a matter of great difficulty and importance, to consider how, in such a situation, the Church of Ireland can be maintained. I think the circumstances of this country, and the circumstance of its union with Ireland, and the great mass of property in Ireland connected with the church, and interwoven with our laws, make it a matter, not of choice, but of duty with the Ministry of this country, to do their utmost to support that church; but it is not a matter of mere debate, but a subject which requires great previous attention and deliberate consideration. That deliberate consideration I am disposed to give to the subject: I should not wish to introduce a measure which would not have at least a chance of passing through Parliament, and that would not be likely to produce some degree of satisfaction and content in Ireland; and I think that will be a task of some difficulty, considering the objections to the Bill of a former year. I do not intend, therefore, to bring it forward early in the session, but rather to postpone it till a later period; but I say again, that no personal feeling of mine, no false pride on my part, shall stand in the way of a settlement of this great question."
§ Leave was then granted to bring in the Bill.